The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Galaxy, Volume 23, No. 2, February, 1877

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Title: The Galaxy, Volume 23, No. 2, February, 1877

Author: Various

Release date: January 26, 2010 [eBook #31085]
Most recently updated: January 6, 2021

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Barbara Tozier, Bill Tozier, Josephine Paolucci
and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at


[Pg 149]


VOL. XXIII.—FEBRUARY, 1877.—No. 2.

Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1877, by SHELDON & CO., in the office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.

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.




The second session of the Thirty-seventh Congress, from its commencement to its close, tested the strength of the Government and the capability of those who administered it. Disappointment, in consequence of no decisive military success during the first few months of the war, had caused a generally depressed feeling which begot discontent and distrust that in various ways found expression in Congress. Democrats complained more of the incapacity of the Executive than of the inefficiency of the generals, and the entire Administration was censured and denounced by them for acts which, if not strictly legal and constitutional in peace, were necessary and unavoidable in war. Republicans, on the other hand, were dissatisfied because so little was accomplished, and the factious imputed military delay to mismanagement and want of energy in the Administration. Indeed, but for some redeeming naval successes at Hatteras and Port Royal preceding the meeting of Congress in December, the whole belligerent operations would have been pronounced weak and imbecile failures. Conflicting views in regard to the slavery question in all its aspects prevailed; the Democrats insisting that fugitives should be returned to their masters under the provisions of law, as in time of peace. The Republicans were divided on this question, one portion agreeing with the Democrats that all should be returned, another claiming that only escaped slaves who belonged to loyal owners, wherever they resided, should be returned; another portion insisted that there should be no rendition of servants of rebel masters, even in loyal or border States, who, by resisting the laws and setting the authorities at defiance, had forfeited their rights and all Governmental protection. Questions in regard to the treatment of captured rebels, and the confiscation of all property of rebels, were agitated. What was the actual condition of the seceding States, and what would be their status when the rebellion should be suppressed, were also beginning to be controverted points, especially among members of Congress. On these and other questions which the insurrection raised, novel, perplexing, and without law or precedent to guide or govern it, the Administration had developed no well defined policy when Congress convened in December, 1861, but it was compelled to act, and that in such a manner as not to alienate friends or give unnecessary offence, while maintaining the Government in all its Federal authority and rights for the preservation of the Union and the suppression of the rebellion.

The character and duration of the war, which many had supposed would be [Pg 150]brief, was still undetermined. While affairs were in this uncertain and inchoate condition, and the Administration had no declared policy on some of the most important questions, Congress came together fired with indignation and revenge for a war so causeless and unprovoked. A large portion of the members, exasperated toward the rebels by reason of the war, and dissatisfied with delays and procrastination, which they imputed chiefly to the Administration, were determined there should be prompt and aggressive action against the persons, property, institutions, and the States which had confederated to break up the Union. There was, however, little unity among the complaining members as to the mode and method of prosecuting the war. It was not difficult to find fault with the Administration, but it was not easy for the discontented to settle on any satisfactory plan of continuing it. The Democrats complained that the President transcended his rightful authority; the radical portion of the Republicans that he was not sufficiently aggressive; that he was deficient in energy and too tender of the rebels. It was at this period, after Congress had been in session two months, and opinions were earnest but diverse and factious, with a progeny of crude and mischievous schemes as to the conduct of affairs and the treatment of the rebels, that Senator Sumner, in the absence of a clearly defined policy on the part of the Administration, and while things were not sufficiently matured to adopt one, submitted his project for overthrowing the State governments and reducing them to a territorial condition, and with the subversion of their governments the abolition of slavery. It was the enunciation of a policy that was in conflict with the Constitution, and would change the character of the Government, but which he intended to force upon the Administration. Though a scheme devised by himself, it had in its main features the countenance of many and some able supporters.

President Lincoln had high respect for Mr. Sumner, but was excessively annoyed with this presentation of the extreme, and, as he considered them, unconstitutional and visionary theories of the Massachusetts Senator, which were intended to commit the Government and shape its course. It was precipitating upon the Administration issues on delicate and deeply important subjects at a critical period—issues involving the structure of the Government and the stability of our Federal system. These questions might have to be ultimately met and disposed of, but it was requisite that they should be met with caution and deliberate consideration. The times and condition of the country were inauspicious for considerate statesmanship. The matters in dispute, the consequences and results of the war, were yet in embryo. There could be no union of sentiment on Senator Sumner's plan, nor any other at that period, in the free States, in Congress, or even in the Republican party. There were half a dozen factions to be reconciled or persuaded to act together. This plan was felt to be an element of discord, which, if it could not be finally averted, might in that gloomy period, when the country was threatened and divided, have been temporarily, at least, avoided. But Senator Sumner, though scholarly and cultured, was not always judicious or wisely discreet. The President, as he expressed himself, could not, in the then condition of affairs, afford to have a controversy with Sumner, but he so managed as to check violent and aggressive demands by quietly interposing delay and non-action.

In the mean time, while the subjects of slavery, reconstruction, and confiscation were being vehemently discussed, he felt the necessity of adopting, or at least proposing, some measure to satisfy public sentiment.

On the subject of confiscation there were differing opinions among the Republicans themselves, in Congress, which called out earnest debate. The Radicals, such as Thaddeus Stevens,[Pg 151] who were in fact revolutionists and intended that more should be accomplished by the Government than the suppression of the rebellion and the preservation of the Union, were for the immediate and unsparing confiscation of the property of the rebels by act of Congress without awaiting judicial proceedings. In their view and by their plan rebels, if not outlaws, were to be considered and treated as foreigners, not as American citizens; the States in insurrection were to be reduced to the condition of provinces; the people were to be subjugated and their property taken to defray the expenses of the war. Mr. Sumner, less crafty and calculating than Stevens, but ardent and impulsive, was for proceeding to extreme lengths; and, having the power, he urged that they should embrace "the opportunity which God in his beneficence had offered" to extinguish by arbitrary enactment slavery, and all claim to reserved sovereignty in the States; but Judge Collamer, calm and considerate, and other milder men were opposed to any illegal and unjustifiable enactment.

As is too often the case in high party and revolutionary times, the violent and intriguing were likely to be successful, until it came to be understood that the President would feel it obligatory to place upon the extreme and unconstitutional measures his veto. A knowledge of this and the attending fact, that his veto would be sustained, induced Congress to pass a joint resolution, modifying the act, expounding and declaring its meaning, instead of enacting a new and explicit law, which the judiciary, whose province it is, would expound and construe.

The President, in order not to be misunderstood when informing the House of Representatives that he had affixed his signature to the bill and joint resolution, also transmitted a copy of the message he had prepared to veto the act in its original shape, with his objections, in which he said that by a fair construction of the act he considered persons "are not punished without regular trials, in duly constituted courts, under the forms and the substantial provisions of the law and the Constitution applicable to their several cases." It was apprehended at that time, and subsequent acts proved the apprehension well founded, that Congress or its radical leaders were disposed to assume and exercise not only legislative, but judicial and executive powers. Rebels were by Congress to be condemned and their property confiscated and taken without trial and conviction. Such was not the policy of the President, as was soon well understood; and to reconcile him and those who agreed with him, a provision was inserted that persons who should commit treason and be "adjudged guilty thereof" should be punished. But to prevent misconception from equivocal phraseology in a somewhat questionable act, he explicitly made known that "regular trials in duly constituted courts" were to be observed, and the rights of the executive and judicial departments of the Government maintained. This precaution, and the determination which he uniformly expressed to regard individual rights, and not to impose penalty or inflict punishment for alleged crimes, whether of treason or felony, until after trial and conviction, was not satisfactory to the extremists, who were ready to treat rebels as outlaws, and condemn them without judge or jury.

The Centralists in Congress, who were arrogating executive and judicial as well as legislative power, authorized the President, by special provision in this law, to extend pardon and amnesty on such occasions as he might deem expedient. This was represented as special grace and a great concession; but as the pardoning power is explicitly conferred on the President by the Constitution, the permission or authorization given by the act was entirely supererogatory. Congress could neither enlarge nor diminish the authority of the Executive in that respect;[Pg 152] but if the President acquiesced, and admitted the right of the legislative body to grant, it was evident the day was not distant that the same body, when dissatisfied with his leniency, would claim the right to restrain or prohibit. The ulterior design in this grant to the President of authority which he already possessed, and of which they could not legally deprive him, President Lincoln well understood, but felt it to be his duty and it was his policy to have as little controversy with Congress or any of the factions in that body as was possible, and he therefore wisely forebore contention.

On the slavery question, the alleged cause of secession and war, there were legal and perplexing difficulties which, in various ways, embarrassed the Administration, and in the disturbed condition of the country prevented, for a time, the establishment and enforcement of any decisive policy. By the Constitution and laws, slavery and property in slaves were recognized, and the surrender and rendition of fugitives from service to their owners was commanded; but in a majority of the seceding States the usurping governments and the rebel slave-owners were in open insurrection, resisting the Federal authority, defying it and making war upon it. Still there were many citizens in those States who were opposed to secession, loyal to the Federal Government, and earnest friends of the Union, who owned slaves. What policy could the Administration adopt in regard to these two classes of citizens in the same State? The fugitive slave law was not and could not be enforced in States where there was organized rebellion. Should fugitive slaves be returned to both, or either, or neither of the owners in insurrectionary States? There were moreover five or six border States, where slavery existed, which did not secede. The governments and a majority of the people of those States were patriotic supporters of the Union, but there was a large minority in each of them who were violent enemies of the Government and of the Union. Many of them were serving in the rebel armies. For a time there was no alternative but to return slaves to their owners who resided in border States which had neither seceded nor resisted the Government. The Administration was not authorized to discriminate, for instance, between slave-owners on the eastern shore of the Potomac in the lower counties of Maryland and those on the western shore in Virginia. There were, however, no secessionists, through the whole South, more malignantly hostile to the Federal Union than a large portion of the slave-owners in the southern counties of Maryland; but the State not having seceded, and there being no organized resistance to the Government, masters who justified secession continued to reclaim their slaves, while on the opposite side of the river, in Virginia, slave-owners who claimed to be loyal or neutral, could not reclaim or obtain a restoration of their escaped servants. The Executive was compelled to act in each of these cases, and its policy, the dictate of necessity in the peculiar war that existed, was denounced by each of the disagreeing factions. Affairs were in this unsettled and broken condition when Congress convened at its second session in December, 1861. The action of the President in these conflicting cases as they arose, if not condemned, was not fully approved. Many, if not a majority, in Congress were undetermined what course to take. Democrats insisted that the laws must be obeyed in all cases, in war as in peace. The radical portion of the Republicans began to take extreme opposite grounds, and claim that the laws were inoperative in regard to slavery—that slavery was at all times inconsistent with a republican government, and should now be extinguished. Among the revolutionary resolutions of Senator Sumner of the 11th of February were some on the subject of slavery. Other but not[Pg 153] dissimilar propositions, antagonistic to slavery, found expression, increasing in intensity as the war was prolonged. While it was evident to most persons that one of the results of the insurrection would be, in some way or form, the emancipation of the slaves, there was no person who seemed capable of devising a constitutional, practical plan for its accomplishment, except by subjugation and violence. To these the President was unwilling to resort; yet the necessity of doing something that did not transcend the law, was morally right, and would tend to the ultimate freedom of the slaves was felt to be an essential and indispensable duty. Unavailing but seductive appeals continued in the mean time to be made by the secessionists to the people of the border slave States to unite with the further South for the security and protection of slavery, in which they had a common interest, and against which there was increasing hostility through the North. It was under these circumstances, with a large and growing portion of the North in favor of abolition—the slave States, including the border States, opposed to the measure and for the preservation of the institution—that the President was to prescribe a policy on which the government in the disordered state of the country was to be administered.

To surmount the difficulties, without setting aside the law, or giving just offence to any, the President, with his accustomed prudence and regard for existing legal rights, devised a course which, if acquiesced in by those most in interest, would, he believed, in a legal way open the road to ultimate, if not immediate, emancipation. Instead of assenting to the demands of the radical extremists that he should, by arbitrary proceedings, and in disregard of law and Constitution, decree freedom to all slaves, he preferred milder and more conciliatory measures. The authority or right of the national Government to abolish or interfere with an institution that was reserved and belonged exclusively to the States, he was not prepared to act upon or admit, though entreated and urged thereto by sincere party friends, and also by party supporters, whose sincerity was doubtful.

There could be no excuse or pretext for such interference but the insurrection; and, even as a war measure, there were obstacles in the condition of the border slave States, to say nothing of loyal, patriotic citizens in the insurrectionary region, that could not be overlooked.

On the 6th of March, within less than three weeks after Senator Sumner had submitted his revolutionary resolution, for reconstruction, and a declaration that it is the duty of Congress "to see that everywhere in this extensive (secession) territory slavery shall cease to exist practically, as it has already ceased to exist constitutionally or morally," that President Lincoln, not assenting to the assumption, sent a message to Congress proposing a plan of voluntary and compensated emancipation. In this message he suggested that "the United States ought to co-operate with any State which may adopt gradual abolishment of slavery, giving to each State pecuniary aid," etc., and he invited an interview upon the 10th of March, with the representatives of the border States, to consider the subject. They did not conclude at this interview to adopt his suggestions, and some of them were much incensed that the proposition had been made, believing it would alienate and drive many, hitherto rightly disposed, into secession.

Nevertheless, the fact that slavery was doomed, and had received a death blow from the war of secession, was so obvious, that the moderate and reflecting began seriously to consider whether they ought not to give the President's plan favorable consideration.

While the policy of voluntary emancipation, in which the States should be aided by the national Government, was not immediately successful, it[Pg 154] made such advance as, by the aid of the Federal Government, led to the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia. The advocates of immediate, general, and forcible emancipation, if not satisfied with the conciliatory policy of the President, could not well oppose it.

Warm discussions in Congress, and altercations out of it, on most of the important questions growing out of the war, and particularly on those of confiscation, emancipation, and reconstruction, or the restoration of the States to their rightful position, and the reëstablishment of the Union, were had during the whole of the second session of the Thirty-seventh Congress. All of these were exciting and important questions, the last involving grave principles affecting our federal system, and was most momentous in its consequences. As time and events passed on, the convictions and conclusions of the President became more clear and distinct as to the line of policy which it was his duty and that of the Administration to pursue.

Dissenting, wholly and absolutely, from the revolutionary views and schemes of Senator Sumner and those who agreed with him, the President became convinced, as the subject had been prematurely introduced and agitated, with an evident intent to forestall and shape the action of the Government, that the actual status of the rebel States and their true relation to the Federal Government should be distinctly understood. The resolution of Mr. Dixon, a gentleman of culture and intelligence, who, as well as Mr. Sumner, was a New England Senator, and also of the same party, was, it will be observed, diametrically opposed to the principles and the project of the Massachusetts Senator on the great, impending, and forthcoming subject of reconstruction. It was directly known that the President coincided with the Connecticut Senator in the opinion that all the acts and ordinances of secession were mere nullities, and should be so treated; that while such acts might subject individuals to penalties and forfeitures, they did not in any degree affect the States as commonwealths, and their relations to the Federal Government; that such acts were rebellious, insurrectionary, and hostile on the part of the persons engaged in them, but that the States, notwithstanding the acts and conspiracies of individuals, were still members of the Federal Union, and that the loyal citizens of these States had forfeited none of their rights, but were entitled to all the protection and privileges guaranteed by the Constitution.

The theory and principles set forth in Senator Dixon's resolutions were the opinions and convictions of the President, deliberately formed and consistently maintained while he lived, on the subject of reconstruction and the condition of the States and people in the insurrectionary region. In his view there was no actual secession, no dismembering of the Union, no change in the Constitution and Government; the relative position of the States and the Federal Government were unchanged; the organic, fundamental laws of neither were altered by the sectional conspiracy; the whole people, North and South, were American citizens; each person was responsible for his own acts and amenable to law; and he was also entitled to the protection of the law, and the rights and privileges secured by the Constitution. The confiscation and emancipation schemes concerning which there was so much excitement in Congress were of secondary consideration to the all-absorbing one of preserving the Union.

The second session of the Thirty-seventh Congress closed on the 17th of July. Its proceedings had been confused and uneasy, with a good deal of discontented and revolutionary feeling, which increased toward the close. The decisive stand which the President had taken, and which he calmly, firmly, and persistently maintained against the extreme measures of some of the most prominent Republicans in Congress, was unsatisfactory.[Pg 155] It was insinuated that his sympathies on important measures had more of a Democratic than Republican tendency; yet the Democratic party maintained an organized and often unreasonable, if not unpatriotic, opposition.

Military operations, aside from naval success at New Orleans and on the upper Mississippi, had been a succession of military reverses. Disagreement between the Secretary of War and the General-in-Chief, which the President could not reconcile, caused the latter to be superseded after the disastrous result before Richmond. Dissensions in the army and among the Republicans in Congress, the persistent opposition of Democrats to the Administration, and the general depression that prevailed were discouraging. "In my position," said the President, "I am environed with difficulties." Friends on whom he felt he ought to be able to rely were dissatisfied with his conscientious scruples and lenity, and party opponents were unrelenting against the Administration.

A few days before Congress adjourned, the President made another but unsuccessful effort to dispose of the slavery question, by trying to induce the border States to take the initiative in his plan of compensated emancipation. The interview between him and the representatives of the border States, which took place on the 12th of July, convinced him that the project of voluntary emancipation by the States would not succeed. Were it commenced by one or more of the States, he had little doubt it would be followed by others, and eventuate in general emancipation by the States themselves. Failing in the voluntary plan, he was compelled, as a war necessity, to proclaim freedom to all slaves in the rebel section, if the war continued to be prosecuted after a certain date. This bold and almost revolutionary measure, which would change the industrial character of many States, could be justified on no other ground than as a war measure, the result of military necessity. It was an unexpected and startling demonstration when announced, that was welcomed by a vast majority of the people in the free States. In Congress, however, neither this nor his project of compensated emancipation was entirely acceptable to either the extreme anti-slavery or pro-slavery men. The radicals disliked the way in which emancipation was effected by the President. But, carried forward by the force of public opinion, they could not do otherwise than acquiesce in the decree, complaining, however, that it was an unauthorized assumption by the Executive of power which belonged to Congress.

The opponents of the President seized the occasion of this bold measure to create distrust and alarm, and the result of the policy of emancipation in the election which followed in the autumn of 1862 was adverse to the Administration. Confident, however, that the step was justifiable and necessary, the President persevered and consummated it by a final proclamation on the 1st of January, 1863.

The fact that the Administration lost ground in the elections in consequence of the emancipation policy served for a time to promote unity of feeling among the members when Congress convened in December. The shock occasioned by the measure when first announced had done its work. The timid, who had doubted the necessity and legality of the act, and feared its consequences, recovered their equipoise, and a reaction followed which strengthened the President in public confidence. But the radical extremists, especially the advocates of Congressional supremacy, began in the course of the winter to reassert their own peculiar ideas and their intention of having a more extreme policy pursued by the Government.

Thaddeus Stevens embraced an early opportunity to declare his extreme views, which were radically and totally antagonistic to those of the President.[Pg 156] But Stevens, whose ability and acquirements as a politician, and whose skill and experience as a party tactician were unsurpassed if not unequalled in either branch of Congress, made no open, hostile demonstration toward the President. He restricted himself to contemptuous expressions in private conversation against the Executive policy and general management of affairs. Without an attack on the President, whom he personally liked, the Administration was sneered at as weak and inefficient, of which little could be expected until a more aggressive and scathing policy was adopted. His personal intercourse with members and his talents and eloquence on the floor of the House gave him influence with the representatives on ordinary occasions, but his ultra radical and revolutionary ideas caused the calm and considerate to distrust and disclaim his opinions and his leadership. It was not until a later period, and under another Executive, less affable but not less honest and sincere than Mr. Lincoln, that the suggestions of Stevens were much regarded. When his disciples and adherents became more partisan and numerous, they, in order to give him power and consequence and reconcile their constituents, denominated him the "Great Commoner."

If his political hopes and party schemes had been sometimes successful, his reverses and disappointments had been much greater. Many and severe trials during an active, embittered, and often unscrupulous partisan experience, had tempered his enthusiasm if they had not brought him wisdom. Defeats can hardly be said to have made him misanthropic; but having little philosophy in his composition, he vented his spleen when there was occasion on his opponents in ironical remarks that made him dreaded, and which were often more effective than arguments; but his sagacity and knowledge of men taught him that a hostile and open conflict with a chief magistrate whose honesty even he respected, and whose patriotism the people so generally regarded, would be not only unavailing, but to himself positively injurious. He therefore conformed to circumstances; and while opposed to the tolerant policy of the Administration toward the rebels and the rebel States, he had the tact and address, with his wit and humor, to preserve pleasant social intercourse and friendly personal relations with the President, who well understood his traits and purpose, but avoided any conflict with him.

For the first five or six weeks of the third session of the Thirty-seventh Congress, Stevens improved his time in free and sarcastic remarks on the reconstruction policy of the Government, which he characterized as puerile and feeble, and at length, on the 8th of January, he gave utterance to his feelings, maintaining that "with regard to all the Southern States in rebellion, the Constitution has no binding influence or application." He averred that "in his opinion they were not members of the Union"; that "the ordinances of secession took them out of the Union"; that he "would levy a tax wherever he could upon these conquered provinces"; said he "would not only collect the tax, but he would, as a necessary war measure, take every particle of property, real and personal, life estate and reversion, of every disloyal man, and sell it for the benefit of the nation in carrying on this war."

Several members of Congress hastened to deny that these sentiments and purposes were those of the Republican party; this Mr. Stevens admitted. He said "a very mild denial from the pleasant gentleman from New York [Mr. Olin], and the somewhat softened and modified repudiation of the gentleman from Indiana" (Mr. Colfax), would, he hoped, satisfy the sensitive gentlemen in regard to him, and he "desired to say he did not speak the sentiments of this side of the House as a party."; that "for[Pg 157] the last fifteen years he [Stevens] had always been ahead of the party in these matters, but he had never been so far ahead but that the members of the party had overtaken and gone ahead; and they would again overtake him and go with him before the infamous and bloody rebellion was ended." "They will find that they must treat those States, now outside of the Union, as conquered provinces, and settle them with new men, and drive the present rebels as exiles from this country." "Nothing but extermination, or exile, or starvation, will ever induce them to surrender to the Government."

Not very consistent or logical in his policy and views, this subsequently Radical leader proposed to treat the Southern people sometimes as foreigners and at other times as rebel citizens; in either case he would tax, starve, and exile them—make provinces of their States, and overturn their old established governments. Few, comparatively, of the Republicans were at that time prepared to follow Stevens or adopt his vindictive and arbitrary measures. Shocked at his propositions, the "Great Commoner" had at that day few acknowledged adherents. When in vindication of his scheme it was asked upon what ground the collection of taxes could be enforced in the Southern States, Judge Thomas, one of the ablest and clearest minds of the Massachusetts delegation, said, "Upon this ground, that the authority of this Government at this time is as valid over those States as it was before the acts of secession were passed; upon the ground that every act of secession passed by those States is utterly null and void; upon the ground that every act legally null and void cannot acquire force because armed rebellion is behind it, seeking to uphold it; upon the ground that the Constitution makes us not a mere confederacy, but a nation; upon the ground that the provisions of that Constitution strike through the State government and reach directly, not intermediately, the subjects. Subjects of whom? Of the nation—of the United States." "Who ever heard, as a matter of public law, that the authority of a government over its rebellious subjects was lost until that revolution was successful—was a fact accomplished?"

Shortly after the capture of New Orleans and the establishment of Federal authority over Louisiana, two of the Congressional districts of that State elected representatives to Congress. The admission or non-admission of these representatives involved the question of the political condition of the Southern States and people in the Federal Union, and the whole principle, in fact, of restoration and reconstruction.

The subject was long and deliberately considered and fully discussed in Congress. The committee on elections reported in favor of their admission, and Mr. Dawes of Massachusetts, the chairman, stated that "more than ordinary importance is attached to the consideration of this subject. It is not simply whether two gentlemen shall be permitted to occupy seats in this House. The question whether they shall be admitted involves the principles touching the present state of the country to which the attention of the House has more than once been called." He said, "The question now comes up, whether any reason exists that requires any departure from the rules and principles which have been adopted." "An adherence to these principles is vitally important in settling the question, how there is to be a restoration of this Union when this war shall be drawn to a close."

The subject of admitting these representatives and the principles of a restoration of the Union which their admission involved, was debated with earnestness for several days, and finally decided, on the 17th of February, in favor of admitting them, by a vote of ninety-two in the affirmative to forty-four in the negative.

An analysis of this vote, in view of the proceedings, acts, and votes of[Pg 158] many of the same members a few years subsequently, after Mr. Lincoln's death, presents some curious and interesting facts. It was not a strictly party vote. Among those who then favored the Administration policy of restoration were Colfax, Dawes, Delano, Fenton, Fisher of Delaware, Wm, Kellogg, J. S. Morrill of Vermont, Governor A. H. Rice of Massachusetts, Shellabarger, and others who opposed the restoration policy of President Lincoln after his death and the accession of President Johnson.

In the negative with Thaddeus Stevens were Ashley, Bingham, the two Conklings, Kelley, McPherson, and a few others. But when reconstruction or exclusion actually took place after the termination of the war, great changes occurred among the members of Congress, and Stevens, the "Great Commoner," who in 1863 had a following of less than one-third of the representatives, rallied, four years later, more than two-thirds to his standard against restoration and for subjugation and exclusion.

Mr. Stevens was no ordinary man. At the bar he was astute and eloquent rather than profound, but in the Legislature of Pennsylvania and in the management of the affairs of that State, where for a period he actively participated and was a ruling mind, he was often rash and turbulent, and had, not without cause, the reputation of being a not over scrupulous politician. Personally my relations with him, though not intimate, were pleasant and friendly. I was first introduced to him at Harrisburg in 1836, when he was a member of the convention that revised the Constitution of Pennsylvania. We occasionally met in after years. He expressed himself pleased with my appointment in Mr. Lincoln's Cabinet, and, notwithstanding we disagreed on fundamental principles, he complimented my administration of the Navy Department, and openly and always sustained my positions, and particularly so on the subject of the blockade, on which there were differences in the Administration. In the Pennsylvania convention of 1836 he was probably the most eloquent speaker, but his ideas were often visionary and radical. He ultimately refused to sign the Constitution because the colored people were denied the elective franchise. Severe as he exhibited himself toward the rebels during and subsequent to the civil war, Mr. Stevens was not by nature, as might be supposed, inhuman in his feelings and sympathies toward his fellow men. To the colored race he seemed always more attached and tender than to the whites, perhaps because they were enslaved and oppressed. He was opposed to slavery, to imprisonment for debt, and to capital punishment. There were strange contradictions in his character. In his political career he had ardent supporters, though many who voted with him had not a high regard for his principles. His course and conduct in the Legislature and government of Pennsylvania did much to debauch the political morals of that State, and in the celebrated "buck-shot war" he displayed the bold and reckless disregard of justice and popular rights that distinguished the latter years of his Congressional life, when he became the acknowledged leader of the radical reconstruction party in Congress.

In his political career and management, though strongly sustained by a local constituency, he had experienced a series of disappointments. The defeat of John Quincy Adams, whom he greatly admired, in 1828, and the election of General Jackson, against whom his prejudices were inveterate, were to him early and grievous vexations.

The attempt of Mr. Adams on his retirement to establish a national anti-Masonic party was warmly seconded by Stevens, and with greater success in Pennsylvania than attended his distinguished leader in Massachusetts. The failure of the attempt was more severely felt by the disciple than by the master. After the annihilation of the anti-Masonic organization and the[Pg 159] discomfiture of the buck-shot war, Stevens was less conspicuous, though prominent for a few months in 1840, when he came forward as an earnest advocate of the nomination of General Harrison in that singular campaign which resulted in the General's election. His efficiency and zeal in behalf of both the nomination and election of the "hero of Tippecanoe" were acknowledged, and he and his friends anticipated they would be recognized and he rewarded by a seat in the Cabinet. But he had given offence to the great Whig leader of that day by his preference of Harrison for President, and had moreover an unsavory reputation, which, with the declared opposition of Clay and Webster, caused his exclusion. It was a sore disappointment, from which he never fully recovered. Eight years later, with the advent of General Taylor and the defeated aspirations of the Whig leaders, who had caused his exclusion from Harrison's Cabinet, he sought and obtained an election to the thirty-first Congress from the Lancaster district. In 1856 he strove with all his power to secure the Presidential nomination for John McLane of the Supreme Court, who had or professed to have had anti-Masonic tendencies. His ill success was another disappointment; but in 1859 he was again elected to Congress, and thereafter until his death he represented the Lancaster district.

Disappointments had made him splenetic, but he was not, as represented by his opponents on the two extremes, either a charlatan or a miscreant, though possibly not wholly exempt from charges against him in either respect. In many of his ultra radical and it may be truly said revolutionary views—revolutionary because they changed the structure of the Government—he coincided with Senator Sumner, who was perhaps the leading spirit in the Senate on the subject of reconstruction, but he did not, like the Massachusetts Senator, make any pretence that his project to subjugate the Southern people and reduce their States to the condition of provinces was constitutional, or by authority of the Declaration of Independence. President Lincoln well understood the characteristics of both these men, and, though differing from each on the subject of restoration and reconstruction, he managed to preserve friendly personal relations with both—retained their confidence, and while he lived secured their general support of his Administration. Herein President Lincoln exhibited those peculiar qualities and attributes of mind which made him a leader and manager of men, and enabled him in a quiet and unostentatious way to exercise his executive ability in administering the Government during the most troublesome period of our national history.

Gideon Welles.


This rich, rank Age—does it breed giants now—
Dantes or Michaels, Raphaels, Shakespeares? Nay!
Its culture is of other sort to-day.
From the stanch stem (too ready to allow
Growths that divide the strength that should endow
The one tall trunk) who firmly lops away,
With wise reserve, such shoots as lead astray
The wasted sap to some collateral bough?
Had Dante chiselled stone, had Angelo
Intrigued with courts, had Shakespeare dulled his pen
With critic gauge of Chaucer, Drummond, Ben—
What lack there were of that life-giving shade,
Which these high-tower'd, centurial oaks have made,
Where walk the happy nations to and fro!
Margaret J. Preston.

[Pg 160]





The events of the last chapter happened on the night of Friday, July 17, 1874. The following day, Saturday, broke calm, clear, and warm. Elmer awoke early, carefully looked out of a crack in his window curtain, and found that the chimney-builder's room was empty.

"The enemy has flown. I wonder if Alma is up?"

He uncovered a small telegraphic armature and sounder standing on the window-seat, and touched it gently. In an instant there was a response, and Alma replied that she was up and dressed and would soon be down.

She met him in the library, smiling, and apparently happy.

"Oh, Elmer, he has gone away. He left a note on the breakfast table, saying that he had gone to New York, and that he should not return till Monday or Tuesday."

"That's very good; but I think it means mischief."

Just here the breakfast bell rang. The table was set for four, but Alma and Elmer were the only ones who could answer the call, and they sat down to the table alone. They talked of various matters of little consequence, and when the meal was over Elmer announced that as the day was quiet, he should make a little photographing expedition about the neighborhood.

"My visit here is now more than a quarter over, and I wish to take home some photos of the place. Will you not go with me?"

"With all my heart, if I can leave father. But please not talk of going home yet. I hope you will not go till things are settled. We want you, Elmer. You are so wise and strong, and—you know what I mean."

"Perhaps I do. At any rate I'm not going till I have paid up that Belford for his insults."

"Oh, let's not talk of him to-day."

This was eminently wise. They had better enjoy the day of peace that was before them. The shadow of the coming events already darkened their lives, though they knew it not. Mr. Denny was so much better that he could spare Alma, and about ten o'clock she appeared, paper umbrella in hand, at the porch, and Elmer soon joined her bearing a small camera, and a light wooden tripod for its support.

The two spent the morning happily in each other's company, and at one o'clock returned to dinner with quite a number of negatives of various objects of interest about the place. After dinner the young man retreated to his room to prepare for the battle that he felt sure would rage on the following Monday.

He did not know all the circumstances of the trouble that had invaded the family, but he felt sure that the confidential clerk intended some terrible shame or exposure that in some way concerned his cousin Alma. So it was he came to call himself her Lohengrin, come to fight her battles, not with a sword, but with the telegraph, the camera, and the micro-lantern.

The Sabbath passed quietly, and the Monday came. After breakfast the student retreated to his room and tried to study, but could not.

About ten o'clock he heard a carriage of some kind stop before the house. His room being at the rear, he could not see who had come, and thinking that it might be merely some stray visitor, and that at least it did not concern him, he turned to his books and made another attempt to read.[Pg 161]

After some slight delay he heard the carriage drive away, and the old house became very still. Then he heard a door open down stairs, and a moment after one of the maids knocked at his door.

"Would Mr. Franklin kindly come down stairs? Mr. Denny wished to see him in the library."

He would come at once; and picking up a number of unmounted photographs from the table, he prepared to go down stairs. He hardly knew why he should take the pictures just then. There seemed no special reason why he should show them to Mr. Denny; still, an indefinite feeling urged him to take them with him.

The library was a small room, dark, with heavy book shelves against the walls, and crowded with tables, desk, and easy chairs. There was a student lamp on the centre table, and in a corner stood a large iron safe. Mr. Denny was seated at the table with his back to the door, and with his head supported by his hand and arm. He did not seem to notice the arrival of his visitor, and Elmer advanced to the table and laid the photographs upon it.

"I am glad you have come, Mr. Franklin. I wish to talk with you. I wish to tell you something. A great affliction has fallen upon us, and I wish you, as our guest, to be prepared for it. I think I can trust you, Elmer Franklin. I remember your mother, my boy. You have her features—and I will trust you for her sake. We are ruined."

"How, sir? How is that possible, with all your property?"

"Not one cent of my property—not a foot of ground, or a single brick, or piece of shafting in the mills—belongs to me."

"This is terrible, sir. How did it happen?"

"It is a short and sad story. I was my father's only child, and there were no other heirs. My father's last illness was very sudden, and he left no will. He told me when he died that he had left everything to me. We never found any will that would bear out this assertion. However, the ordinary process of law gave me the property, and I thought myself secure. Suddenly a will was found, in which all the property was left to a distant relative in New York, and I was merely mentioned with some trifling gift. I contested the will and lost the case. It was an undoubted will, and in my father's own handwriting, and dated more than a year before he died and when I was rusticating from college. I thought I must needs sow my wild oats, and day after to-morrow I pay for them all by total beggary. The devisee, by the will, acted very strangely about the property. He did not disturb me for a very long time. He probably feared to do so; and then he made a mortgage of one hundred thousand dollars on the property, took the money, and went abroad."

"And he left you here in possession?"

"Yes. The interest on the mortgage became due. There was no one to pay it, and they even had the effrontery to come to me. I refused again and again, and every time the interest was added to the mortgage till it rolled up to an enormous amount. Meanwhile the devisee died, penniless, in Europe, and on Wednesday Abrams, the lawyer who holds the mortgage, is to take possession of everything—and we—we are to go—I know not whither."

For a few moments there was a profound silence in the room. The elder man mourned his dreadful fate, and the son of science was ready to shout for joy. Restraining himself with an effort, he said, not without a tremor in his voice:

"And have you searched for any other will?"

"That is an idle question, my son. We have searched these years. Then, too, just as I need a staff for my declining years, it breaks under me."

"You refer to Mr. Belford, sir?"

"Yes. Since I injured my foot in the mill, I have trusted all my affairs[Pg 162] to him, and now I sometimes think he is playing me false. Even now, when all this trouble has come upon me, he is absent, and I have no one to consult, nor do I find any to aid or comfort me."

"Perhaps I can aid you, sir."

"I do not know. I fear no one can avail us now."

"May I be very frank with you, sir?"

"Certainly. I am past all pride or fear. There can be nothing worse now."

"I think, sir, you have placed too much confidence in that man. He is not trustworthy."

"How do you know? Can you prove it?"

"Yes, sir. You remember the new chimney?"

"Yes; but he explained that, and collected all the money that had been paid on the supposed extra height of the chimney."

"That was very easy, sir, for he had it in his own pocket. I met some of the work people in the village, and casually asked them how high the chimney was to be, and every man gave the real height. Mr. Belford lied to you about it, and pocketed the difference between his measurements and mine. Of course, when detected he promptly restored the money, and thought himself lucky to have escaped so easily. More than that, he claimed that the chimney was capped with stone. It is not. It is brick to the top, and the upper courses were rubbed over with colored plaster."

"I can hardly believe it. Besides, how can you prove it?"

"That will, sir. Look at it carefully."

So saying, Elmer selected a photograph from those on the table and presented it to Mr. Denny.

The old gentleman looked at it carefully for a few moments, and then said with an air of conviction—

"It is a perfect fraud. I had no idea that the man was such a thief."

"Yes, sir. Look at that bare place where the plaster has fallen off. You can see the brick——"

"Oh, I can see. There is no need to explain the picture. Have you any more?"

"Yes, sir; quite a number. I'm glad I brought them with me."

Mr. Denny turned them over slowly, and commented briefly upon them.

"That's the house. Very well done, my boy. That's the mill. Excellent. I should know it at once. And—eh! what's that? The batting mill?"

"Yes, sir. That's the new building going up beyond the millpond."

"Great heavens! What an outrageous fraud! Mr. Belford told me it was nearly done. He has drawn almost all the money for it already, and according to this picture only one story is up. When was this picture taken?"

"On Saturday, sir. Alma was with me. She will tell you."

Mr. Denny rang a small bell that stood at his elbow, and a maid came to the door.

"Will you call Miss Denny, Anna?"

The maid retired, and in a moment or two Alma appeared. She seemed pale and dejected, and she sat down at once as if weary.

"What is it, father? Any new troubles?"

"Were you with your cousin when he took this photograph?"

She looked at it a moment, and then said wearily:

"Yes. It's the batting mill."

Just here the door opened, and Mr. Belford, hat and travelling bag in hand, as if just from the station, entered the room. The two men looked up in undisguised amazement, but Alma cast her eyes upon the floor, and her face seemed to put on a more ashen hue than ever.

"Ah! excuse me. I did not mean to intrude. I'm just from New York, and I have been so successful that I hastened to lay the news before you."

"What have you to say, Mr. Belford," said Mr. Denny coldly. "There[Pg 163] are none but friends here, and you need not fear to speak."

Mr. Franklin hastily gathered up the pictures together, and rolling them up, put them in his pocket, with the mental remark that he "knew of one who was not a friend—no, not much."

"I have arranged everything," said Mr. Belford, with sublime audacity. "The note has been taken up. I have even obtained a release of the mortgage, and here is the cancelled note and the release. To-morrow I will have it recorded."

"We are in no mood for pleasantry, Mr. Belford. The sheriff was here to-day, and Abrams is to take possession on Wednesday."

"Oh, I knew that. He did not get my telegram in time, or he would have saved you all this unnecessary annoyance. And now everything is all serene, and there is Abrams's release in full."

He took out a carefully folded paper, and gave it to Mr. Denny. He read it in silence, and then said:

"It seems to be quite correct. We——"

Alma suddenly dropped her head upon her breast, and slid to the floor in a confused heap. She thought she read in that fatal receipt her death warrant. Nature rebelled, and mercifully took away her senses.

Elmer sprang to her rescue, but Mr. Belford intruded himself.

"It is my place, Mr. Franklin. She is to be my wife."

The dreary day crept to its end. Alma recovered, and retired to her room. Mr. Denny, overcome by the excitement of the interview, was quite ill, and the visitor, oppressed with a sense of partial defeat, took a long walk through the country. The enemy had made such an extraordinary movement that for the time he was disconcerted, and he wished to be alone, that he could think over the situation. About six o'clock in the afternoon he returned looking bright and calm, as if he had thought out his problem and had nerved himself up to do and dare all in behalf of the woman he loved. He went quietly to his room and began his preparations for a vigorous assault upon the enemy.

He rolled out his micro-lantern into the middle of the room, drew up the curtains at the window that faced Mr. Belford's chamber, and prepared to adjust the apparatus to a new and most singular style of lantern projections. He had hardly finished the work to his satisfaction before he heard Alma's knock at the door. He hastily drew down the curtains, and then invited her to come in.

She opened the door and appeared upon the threshold, the picture of resigned and heavy sorrow. She had evidently been weeping, and the dark dress in which she had arrayed herself seemed to intensify the look of anguish on her face. The son of science was disconcerted. He did not know what to say, and, with great wisdom, he said nothing.

She entered the room without a word, and sat wearily down on a trunk. Elmer quickly rolled out the great easy chair so that it would face the open western window.

"Sit here, Miss Denny. This is far more comfortable."

"Oh, Elmer! Have you too turned against me?"

"Not knowingly. Sit here where there is more air, and before this view and this beautiful sunset."

She rose, and with a forlorn smile took the great chair, and then gazed absently out of the window upon the charming landscape, brilliant with the glow of the setting sun. Elmer meanwhile went on with his work, and for a little space neither spoke. Then she said, with a faint trace of impatience in her voice—

"What are you doing, Elmer?"

"Preparing for war."

"It is useless. It is too late."

"Think so?"

"Yes. Everything has been settled, and in a very satisfactory manner—at[Pg 164] least father is satisfied, and I suppose I ought to be."

She smiled and held out her hand to him.

"How can I ever thank you, cousin Elmer? You will not forget me when I am gone."

"Forget you, Alma! That was unkind."

He took her hand, glanced at the diamond ring upon her finger, and looking down upon her as she lay half reclining in the great chair, he said, with an effort, as if the words pained him:

"Alma, you have surrendered to him."

She looked up with a startled expression, and said:

"What do you mean?"

"You have renewed your engagement with Mr. Belford?"

"Yes—of course I have. He—he is to be my husband——"

"On Wednesday."

"Yes. How did you know it?"

Instead of replying he turned to a drawer and drew forth a long ribbon of white paper. Holding it to the light, near the window, he began to read the words printed in dots and lines upon it.

"Here is your own confession. Here are all the messages you sent me from the parlor, when you broke your engagement with him——"

"Oh, Elmer! Did you save that? Destroy it—destroy it at once. If he should find it, he would never forgive me."

"You need not fear. I shall not destroy it, and it shall never cause you any trouble."

She had risen in her excitement, and stood upon her feet. Suddenly she flushed a rosy red, and a strange light shone in her eyes. The sun had sunk behind the hills, and it had grown dark. As the shadows gathered in the room a strange, mystic light fell on the wall before her. A picture—dim, ghostly, gigantic, and surpassingly beautiful—met her astonished eyes. She gazed at it with a beating heart, awed into silence by its mystery and its unearthly aspect. What was it? What did it mean? By what magic art had he conjured up this vision? She stood with parted lips gazing at it, while her bosom rose and fell with her rapid, excited breathing. Suddenly she threw her arms above her head, and with a cry fell back upon the chair.

"Oh, Elmer! My heart——"

He had been gazing absently out of the window at the fading twilight, and hearing her cry of pain, he turned hastily and said:

"Alma, what is it? Are you——"

He caught sight of the picture on the wall. He understood it at once, and went to the stereopticon that stood at the other end of the room and opened it. The lamp was burning brightly, and he put it out and closed the door. Then he drew out the glass slide, held it a moment to the light to make sure that it was Alma's portrait, and then he kissed it passionately, and shivered it into fragments upon the hearthstone.

She heard the breaking glass, and rose hastily and turned toward him.

"Elmer, that was cruel. Why did you destroy it?"

"Because it told too much."

"It was my picture?"

"Yes. I confess with shame that I stole it when you were asleep under the influence of the gas I gave you. It happened to be in the lantern when you came in."

"And so I saw it pictured on the wall?"

"Yes. In that way did it betray me. Forget it, Alma. Forget me. Forget everything. Forget that I ever came here——"

"No—never. I cannot."

"You will be married soon and go away. I presume we may never meet again."

"Oh, Elmer, forgive me. I am the one to be forgiven. I am alone to blame for all this sorrow. I thought I alone should suffer. But—but, Elmer, you will not forget me, and you see—you[Pg 165] must see that what I do is for the best. It is the only way. I cannot see my father beggared."

The clear-headed son of science seemed to be losing his self-control. This was all so new, so exciting, so different from the calm and steady flow of his student life, that he knew not what to say or do. He began to turn over his books and papers in a nervous manner, as if trying to win back control of his own tumultuous thoughts. Fortunately Alma came to his rescue.

"Elmer, hear me."

"Yes," he said with an effort. "Tell me about it; then perhaps we can understand each other better."

"I will. Come and sit by me. It grows dark, and I—well, it is no matter. It will do me good to speak of it."

"Yes, do. Sorrow shared is divided by half."

"And joy shared is doubled," she added. "But we will not talk of 'the might have been.'"

Then she paused and looked out on the gathering night for some minutes in silence. Elmer sat at her feet upon a low stool, and waited till she should speak.

"Elmer, say that you will forgive me whatever happens. No matter how dark it looks for me, forgive me—and—do not forget me. I couldn't bear that. On Wednesday I am to be married to Mr. Belford. It is the only way by which I can save my father. There seems no help for it, and I consented this afternoon. Mr. Belford took up the mortgage, and I am to be his reward."

Elmer heard her through in silence, and then he stood up before her, and his passion broke out in fury upon her.

"Alma Denny, you are a fool."

She cowered before him, and covered her face with her hands.

"Have you no sense? Can you not see the wide pit of deceit that is spread before you? Do you believe what he says? Will you walk into perdition to save your father?"

"Oh, Elmer! Elmer! Spare me, spare me, for my father's sake!"

Her sobs and tears choked her utterance, and she shrank away into the depths of the chair, in shame and terror, thankful that the darkness hid her from his view. Still his righteous indignation blazed upon her hotly.

"Where have you lived? What have you done, that you should be so deceived by this man? How can you save your father? If you cannot find that missing will, of what avail is this withdrawal of the mortgage?"

"I do not know. Oh, Elmer! I am weak, and I have no mother, and father is——I must save him if I can—at any price."

"You cannot save him. The devisee who held the will has heirs. They can still claim the property. Besides, how could Mr. Belford pay off that mortgage? Depend upon it, a gigantic fraud——"

"Elmer! Thank God, you have saved——"

She fainted quietly away, and slid down upon the floor at his feet. He called two of the maids, and with their help he took her to her room and placed her upon her own bed. Then, bidding them care for her properly, he returned to his own room, and the heavy night fell down on the sorrowful house.

Far away in the northwest climbed up a ragged mass of sombre clouds. Afar off the deep voice of the thunder muttered fitfully. The son of science drew up his curtains and looked out on the coming storm. There was a solemn hush and calm in the air. Nature seemed resting, and nerving herself for the warfare of the elements.

He too had need of calm. He drew a chair to the window, and sitting astride of it, he rested his arms upon the back, and his chin upon his folded hands, and for an hour watched the lightning flash from ragged cloud to ragged cloud, and gave himself to deep and anxious thought. The thunder grew nearer and nearer. The dark veil of clouds blotted out the[Pg 166] stars one by one. The roar of the water falling over the dam at the mill seemed to fill all the air with its murmur. Every leaf and flower hung motionless.

He heard the village clock strike nine, with loud, deep notes that seemed almost at hand. Every nerve of his body seemed strung to electric tension, and all nature tuned to a higher pitch as if dark and terrible things were abroad in the night.

He heard a sound of closing blinds and windows. The servants were shutting up the house, and preparing it for the storm.

One of them knocked at his door, and asked if she should come in and close his windows.

He opened the door, thanked her, and said he would attend to it himself. As he closed the door and stepped back into the room, he stood upon something and there was a little crash. Thinking it might be glass, he lit a candle and looked for the broken object, whatever it might be.

It was Alma's engagement ring, broken in twain. It had slipped from her nerveless finger when they took her to her room. With a gesture of impatience, he picked up the fragments, and threw them, diamond and all, out of the window into the garden below.

Then for another hour he sat alone in the darkness of his room, watchful and patient. He drew up the curtain toward Alma's room. There was a light there, and he sat gazing at her white curtain till the light was extinguished. The other lights were all put out one after the other, and then it became very still.

The clock struck ten. The gathering storm climbed higher up the western sky. The lightning flashed brighter and brighter. There was a sigh in the tree tops as if the air stirred uneasily.

Suddenly there was another light. Mr. Belford's curtain was brightly illuminated by his candle. Elmer moved his chair so that he could watch the window, and waited patiently till the light was put out. Then he saw the curtain raised and the window drawn down.

"All right, my boy! That's just what I wanted. Nemesis has a clear road, and her shadowy sword shall reach you. Now for the closed circuit alarm."

He silently pulled off his shoes, and then, with the tread of a cat, he felt about his room till he found on the table two delicate coils of fine insulated wire, and a couple of tacks. Carefully opening the door, he crept down stairs and through the hall to the door of the library. The door was closed, and kneeling down on the mat he pushed a tack into the door near the jamb and stuck the other in the door post. From one to another he stretched a bit of insulated wire. Then, aided by the glare of the flashes of lightning, that had now grown bright and frequent, he laid the wires under the mat and along the floor to the foot of the stairs. Then in his stockinged feet he crept upward, dropping the wires over into the well of the stairway as he went. In a moment or two the wires were traced along the floor of the upper entry and under the door into his room. Here they were secured to a small battery, and connected with a tiny electric bell that stood on the mantle shelf. To stifle its sound in case it rang, he threw his straw hat over the bell, and then he felt sure that at least one part of his work was done.

Louder and louder rolled the thunder. The lightning flashed brightly and lit up the bare, mean little room where the wretch cowered and shivered in the bed, sleepless and fearful he knew not why. He feared the storm and the night. He feared everything. His guilty heart made terrors out of the night and nature's healthful workings. The very storm, blessed harbinger of clearer days and sweeter airs, terrified him.

There was a sound of rushing wind in the air. A more vivid flash blinded[Pg 167] him. He sat up in bed and stopped his coward ears to drown the splendid roll of the thunder. Another flash seemed to fill the room.

Ah! What was that? His eyes seemed to start from their sockets in terror.

There, written in gigantic letters of fire upon the wall, glowed and burned a single word:


He stared at it and rubbed his eyes. It would not be winked out. There was a loud crash of thunder and a furious dash of rain against the window; then another blinding stroke of lightning. He drew the clothing over his head in abject terror. Again the thunder rolled as if in savage comment on the writing on the wall.

It was a mistake, a delusion. He would face the horrid accusation.

It was gone, and in its place was a picture. It seemed the top of——

Ah! It was that chimney. Already the false stucco had fallen off, and there, pictured upon his wall in lines of fire, were the evidences of his fraud and crime.

He sprang from the bed with an oath and looked out of the window. Darkness everywhere. The beating rain on the window pane ran down in blinding rivulets. A vivid flash of lightning illuminated the garden and the house. Not a living thing was stirring. He turned toward the bed. The terrible picture had gone. With a muttered curse upon his weak, disordered nerves, he crept into bed and tried to sleep.

Suddenly the terrible writing glowed upon the wall again, and he fairly screamed with fright and horror:


He writhed and turned upon the bed in mortal agony. He stared at the letters of the awful word with ashen lips and chattering teeth. What hideous dream was this? Had his reason reeled? Could it play him phantom tricks like this? Or was it an avenging angel from heaven writing his crimes upon the black night?

"Great God! What was that?"

The writing disappeared, and in its place stood a picture of his wretched victim and himself. Her fair, innocent face looked down upon him from the darkness, and he saw his own form beside her.

He raved with real madness now. Great drops of perspiration gathered on his face. He dared not face those beautiful eyes so calmly gazing at him. Where had high Heaven gained such knowledge of him? How could God punish him with such awful cruelty?

"Hell and damnation have come," he screamed in frantic terror. The thunder rolled in deep majesty, and none heard him. The wind and rain beat upon the house, and his ravings disturbed no one.

"Take it away! Take it away!" he cried in sheer madness and agony.

It would not move. The lightning only made the picture more startling and awful. The sweet and beautiful face of Alice Green lived before him in frightful distinctness, and his very soul seemed to burn to cinder before her serene, unearthly presence.

It was her ghost revisiting the earth. Was it to always thus torment him?

"Thank God! It has gone."

The room became pitch dark, and he fell back upon the pillow in what seemed to him a bloody sweat. He could not sleep, and for some time he lay trembling on the bed and trying to collect his senses and decide whether he was in possession of his reason or not.

Suddenly there was a flash of light, and a new vision sprang into existence before him.

An angel in long white robes seemed to be flying through the air toward him, and above her head she held a sword. Beneath her feet was the word "Nemesis!" in letters of glowing fire.[Pg 168]

The poor wretch rose up in bed, kneeled down upon the mattress, and facing the gigantic figure that seemed to float in the air above him, cried aloud in broken gasps.

"Pardon! For—Christ——"

He threw up his arms and screamed in delirious terror.

The angel advanced through the air toward him and grew larger and taller. She seemed ready to strike him to the ground—and she was gone.

He fell forward flat on his face, and tears gushed from his eyes in torrents. For a while he lay thus moaning and crying, and then he rose, staggered to the wash basin, bathed his face with cold water, and crept shivering and trembling into bed.

The storm moved slowly away. The lightning grew less frequent, and the thunder rolled in more subdued tones. The wind subsided, but the rain fell steadily and drearily. One who watched heard the clock strike twelve and then one.

Slowly the laggard hours slipped away in silence. The rain fell in monotonous showers. The darkness hung like a pall over everything.

The wretch in his bed tossed in sleepless misery. He hardly dared look at the blackness of the night, for fear some new vision might affright him with ghostly warnings. What had he better do? Another night in this haunted room would drive him insane. Had he not better fly—leave all and escape out of sight in the hiding darkness? Better abandon the greater prize, take everything in reach, and fly from scenes so terrible.

He rose softly, dressed completely, took a few essentials from his table, did them up in a bundle, and then like a cat he crept out of the room, never to return. The house was pitch dark and as silent as a tomb. He had no need of a light, and, feeling his way along with his hands on the wall, he stole down stairs and through the hall till he reached the library door. With cautious fingers he turned the handle in silence and pushed the door open. It seemed to catch on the threshold, but it was only for an instant, and then he boldly entered the room.

Placing his bundle upon the table, he took out a small bunch of keys, and with his hands outstretched before him he felt for the safe. It was easily found, and then he put in the key, unlocked the door, and swung it open. With familiar fingers he pulled out what he knew were mere bills and documents, and then he found the small tin box in which—

A blinding glare, an awful flash of overpowering light blazed before him. His eyes seemed put out by its bewildering intensity, and a little scream of terror escaped from his lips. A hand seized him by the collar and dragged him over backward upon the floor. The blazing, burning light filled all the room with a glare more terrible than the lightning. He recovered his sight, and saw Nemesis standing above him, revolver in hand, and with a torch of magnesium wire blazing in horrid flames above his head.

"Stir hand or foot, and—you understand. There are six chambers, and I'm a good shot."

"Let me up, you fool, or I'll kill you."

"Oh! You surprise me, Mr. Belford. I thought it was a common robber."

"No, it is not—so lower your pistol."

"No, sir. You may rise, but make the slightest resistance, and I'll blow your brains into muddy fragments. Sit in that chair, and when I've secured you properly, I'll hear any explanation you may make. Your conduct is very singular, Mr. Belford, to say the least. That's it. Sit down in the arm chair. Now I'm going to tie you into it, and on the slightest sign of resistance I shall fire."

The poor, cowed creature sank into the chair, and the son of science placed his strange lamp upon the[Pg 169] table. With the revolver still in hand, he procured a match and lit a candle on the table. Then he extinguished his torch, and the overpowering light gave place to a more agreeable gloom. Then he took from his pocket a tiny electric bell and a little battery made of a small ink bottle. Then he drew forth a small roll of wire, and securing one end to the battery, with the revolver still in hand, he walked round the chair three times, and bound the thief into it with the slender wire.

"Stop this fooling, boy! Lower your revolver, and let me explain matters."

"No, sir. When I have you fast so that you can do no harm, I talk with you—not before. Hold back your head. That's it. Rest it against the chair while I draw this wire over your throat."

"For God's sake, stop! Do you intend to garrote me?"

"No. Only I mean to make you secure."

"This won't hold me long. I'll break your wires in a flash, you little fool."

"No, you will not. The moment the wire is parted that bell will ring, and I shall begin firing, and keep it up till you are disabled or dead."

The man swore savagely, but the cold thread of insulated wire over his throat thrilled his every nerve. It seemed some magic bond, mysterious, wonderful, and dreadful. This cool man of science was an angel of awful and incomprehensible power. His lamp of such mystic brilliance and that battery quite unnerved his coward heart. What awful torture, what burning flash of lightning might not rend him to blackened fragments if the wires were broken! To such depths of puerile ignorance and terror did the wretch sink in his guilty fancy. He dared not move a muscle lest the wire break. The very thought of it filled him with unspeakable agony. The son of science placed himself before his prisoner. With the revolver at easy rest, he said:

"Mr. Belford, I am going to call help. Do not move while I open the door."

In mortal terror the wretch turned his head round to see what was going on. He managed to get a glimpse of the room without breaking the wire round his throat, and he saw the young man stoop to the floor at the door and pick up something. Then he made some strange and rapid motions with the fingers of his right hand, while the left still steadied the revolver.

For several minutes nothing happened. The two men glared at each other in silence, and then there was a sound of opening doors. One closed with an echoing slam that resounded strangely through the old house, and then there were light footsteps in the hall.

"Oh! Elmer! What is it? What has happened?"

"Nothing very serious—merely a common burglar. I called you because I wished help."

"Yes, I heard the bell, and I read your message in my room by the sound. I dressed as quickly as possible. Is there no danger?"

"No. Stand back. Do not come into the room. Call the men, and let them wake the gardener and his son. You yourself call your father, and bid him dress and come down at once. And, Alma, keep cool and do not be alarmed. I need you, Alma, and you must help me."

Then the house was very still, and the watcher paced up and down before his prisoner in silence. There came a hasty opening of doors, and excited steps and flaring lamps in the hall.

"'Tis the young doctor. Oh! By mighty! Here's troubles!"

"Quiet, men! Keep quiet. Come in. He cannot hurt you."

The three men, shivering and anxious, peered into the room with blanched faces and chattering teeth.

"Have you a rope?"

The calm voice of the speaker reassured them, and all three volunteered to go for one.[Pg 170]

"No. One is enough. And one of you had better go to Mr. Denny's room and help him down stairs. You, John, may stop with me."

"Gods! Sir, he will spring at me!"

"Never you fear. He's fastened into the chair. Besides——"

"Ay, sir, you've the little pet! That's the kind o' argiment."

"It is a rather nice weapon—six-shooter—Colt's."

Presently, with much clatter, the gardener's son brought a rope, and then, under Mr. Franklin's directions, they bound the man in the chair hand and foot.

A moment after they heard Mr. Denny's crutch stalking down the stairs, and Alma's voice assuring him that there was indeed no danger—no danger at all.

"What does this mean, Mr. Franklin?" said the old gentleman as he came to the door.

"Burglary, sir. That is all. You need fear nothing. We have secured the man."

Mr. Denny entered the room leaning on Alma's arm. He saw the open safe and the papers strewed upon the floor, and he lifted his hand and shook his head in alarm and trouble.

"A robbery! Would they ruin me utterly? Where is the villain?"

"There, sir."

Alma turned toward the man in the chair, and clung to her father in terror. The old man lifted his crutch as if to strike.

"My curse be upon you and yours."

"Oh, father, come away. Leave the poor wretch. Perhaps he has taken nothing."

The men gathered round in a circle, and Elmer drew near to Alma. She felt his presence near her, and involuntarily put out her hand to touch him.

"My curse fall on you! Who are you? What have I done to you—you—viper?"

The man secured in the chair, and with the wire drawn tightly over his throat, replied not a word.

Elmer advanced toward him, and Alma, with a little cry, tried to hinder him.

"Do not fear. He cannot move. I will release his head, and perhaps you will recognize him."

The wire about his throat was loosened, and the wretch lifted his head into a more comfortable position.


"Great Heavens! It is Mr. Belford!"

"Yes, sir," said he. "I forgot to put away some papers, and I came down to secure them, and while I was here that wretch surprised me, threatened to murder me, and finally overpowered me and bound me here as you see. If you will ask him to release me, I will get up and explain everything."

"It's a lie," screamed Mr. Denny, lifting his crutch. "I don't believe you—you thief—you robber! It's a lie!"

"Oh, father!" cried Alma. "Release him—let him go. He will go away then, and leave us. He has done wrong; but let him go. It must be some awful mistake—some——"

"No! Never! never! ne—v——"

The word died away on his lips, for on the instant there was a loud ring at the hall door. They all listened in silence. Again the importunate bell pealed through the echoing house.

"It is some one in distress," said Elmer. "John, do you take a light and go to the door. Ask what is wanted before you loose the chain, and tell them to go away unless it is a case of life or death."

They listened in breathless interest to the confused sounds in the hall. There was a moving of locks, and then rough voices talking in suppressed whispers. The candles flared in the cold draught of wind that swept into the room, and the sound of the rain in the trees filled the air. Then the door closed, and John returned, and in an excited whisper said:

"It's Mr. Jones, the sheriff."

At this word Mr. Belford struggled[Pg 171] with his bonds, and in a broken voice he cried:

"Oh, Mr. Denny, spare me! Let me not be arrested. I will restore every——"

"Silence, sir!" said Elmer. "Not a word till you are spoken to. What does he want, John?"

"He says he must see Mr. Denny. It's very important—and, oh, sir, he's a'most beside himself, and I wouldn't let him in."

"Call him in at once," said Mr. Denny. "It is a most fortunate arrival. The very man we want."

John returned to the hall, and in a moment an old man, gray-haired and wrinkled, but still vigorous and strong, stood before them. He seemed a giant in his huge great-coat, and when he removed his hat his massive head and thick neck seemed almost leonine.

"Ah! Mr. Sheriff, you have arrived at a most opportune moment. We were just awakened from our beds by this robber. We captured him, and we have him here."

"Beg pardon, sir. Sorry to hear it, but 'twere another errant that brought me here. The widow Green's daughter, Alice, she that was missing, has been found in the mill-race—dead."

They all gave expression to undisguised astonishment, and the prisoner in the chair groaned heavily.

"And I have come for the key of the boat house, sir, that we may go for the—body, sir."

"How horrible! When did all this happen?"

"We dunno, sir. I'd like the key ter once."

"Certainly—certainly, Mr. Sheriff. But this man—cannot you secure him for the night?"

"Oh, ay. But the child, sir. The boys wants your boat to go for her."

"Poor, poor Alice!" cried Alma, wringing her hands.

"John," said Elmer, "get the key for Mr. Jones. Jake, you and your father can go with the men, and, Mr. Jones, perhaps you had better wait with us, for we have a little matter of importance to settle, and we need you."

"Now," said Mr. Franklin, "I have one or two questions I wish to ask the man, and then, Mr. Jones, you will do us a favor if you will take him away.

"Lawrence Belford, as you value your soul, where did you obtain that will?"

If a bolt from the storm overhead had entered the room, it could not have produced a more startling impression than did this simple question. Mr. Denny dropped his crutch, and raised both hands in astonishment. Alma gave a half suppressed scream, and even the sheriff and John were amazed beyond expression.

The man in the chair made no reply, and presently the breathless silence was broken by the calm voice of the young man repeating his question.

"I found it in the leaves of a book in the old bookcase in the mill office."

"What?" cried Mr. Denny, leaning forward and steadying himself by the table. "My father's will! Did you find it? Release him, John. How can we ever thank you, Mr. Belford? It is the missing will——"

"Oh, Lawrence!" said Alma. "Why did you not tell us? why did you not show it? How much trouble it would have saved."

"Have patience, Alma. Let Mr. Belford rise and bring the will."

"No," said Mr. Franklin. "Hear the rest of the story. Mr. Belford, you destroyed or suppressed that will, did you not?"

"Yes, I did—damn you!"

"Good Lord!" cried the sheriff. "Did ye hear that?—destroyed it! That's State's prison."

"Oh, Mr. Franklin, Mr. Denny! have mercy on me! Do not let them arrest me."

The poor creature seemed to be utterly cowed and crushed in an instant.

"Marcy!" said the sheriff, taking out a pair of handcuffs. "It's little marcy ye'll git."

"You ask for mercy!" cried Mr. Denny, his face livid with passion. "You—you[Pg 172] wretch! Have you not ruined me? Have you not made my child a beggar, and carried my gray hairs in sorrow to the grave? You knew the value of this will—and you destroyed it! Your other crimes are as nothing to this. I could forgive your monstrous frauds in my mills——"

Mr. Belford winced and looked surprised.

"Ay! wince you may. I have found out everything, thanks to—but I'll not couple his name with yours. And the release of the mortgage—have you that?"

"No, sir. It is in that bag on the table."

The old gentleman eagerly took up the bundle that lay on the table, and began with trembling fingers to open it.

"Wait a moment, Mr. Denny," said Mr. Franklin. "I should like to ask this man a question or two."

Mr. Denny paused, and there was a profound silence in the room.

"Lawrence Belford, if you are wise, you will speak the truth. That release is a forgery—or at least it has no legal value."

"It is not worth a straw," replied the prisoner with cool impudence; "and on the whole, I'm glad of it. The mortgage will be foreclosed to-morrow."

"Your share will be small, Mr. Belford. I am afraid your partner will find some difficulty in making a settlement with you, unless he joins you in prison."

Mr. Denny sat heavily down in an arm-chair and groaned aloud. In vain Alma, with choking voice, tried to comfort him. The blow was too terrible for words, and for a moment or two there was a painful silence in the room.

Mr. Franklin seemed nervous and excited. He fumbled in his pockets as if in search of something. Presently he advanced toward the old gentleman and said quietly:

"Mr. Denny, can you bear one more piece of news—one more link in this terrible chain of crime?"

"Yes," he replied slowly. "There can be nothing worse than this. Speak, my son—let us hear everything."

"I think, sir," said the young man reverently, "that I ought to thank God that He has enabled me to bring such knowledge as He has given me to your service."

Then after a brief pause he added:

"There is the will, sir."

With these words he held out a small bit of sheet glass about two inches square.

"Where?" cried Mr. Denny in amazement. "I see nothing."

"There it is—on that piece of glass. That dusky spot in the centre is a micro-photographic copy of your father's will."

"My son, my son, do not trifle with us in this our hour of trial."

"Far be it from me to do such a thing. Alma, will you please go to my room and bring down my lantern? And John, you may go and help Miss Denny. Bring a sheet from the spare bed also."

"I do not know what you mean, my son. You tell me the will is destroyed, and you say you have a copy. Is it a legal copy? and how do you know it is really my father's will? Have you read it?"

"Yes, sir. You shall read it too presently. I have already shown it to a lawyer, and he pronounced it correct and perfectly legal."

"But why did you not tell us of it before?"

"I have only had it a few days, sir, and I wished first to crush or capture this robber."

"Hadn't ye better let me take him off, sir?" said the sheriff. "He's done enough to take him afore the grand jury. Besides, we have another bitter bill against him down in the village."

"No," said Mr. Franklin. "Let him stay and see the will. It may interest him to know that all his villainous plans are utterly overthrown."

"Shut up, you whelp," said the man in the chair.

"Shut up—ye," replied the sheriff, administering a stout cuff to the prisoner's[Pg 173] ear. "Ye best hold your tongue, man."

Just here Alma and John returned with the lantern. Under Elmer's directions they hung the sheet over one of the windows, and then the young man prepared his apparatus for a small trial of lantern projections. Mr. Denny sat in his chair silent and wondering. He knew not what to say or do, and watched these preparations with the utmost attention.

"Mr. Sheriff, if you please, you will stand near Mr. Belford, to prevent him from attempting mischief when I darken the room. John, you may put out all the candles save one."

Alma took her father's hand and kneeled upon the floor beside him as if to aid and comfort him.

"Now, John, set that candle just outside the door in the entry."

A sense of awe and fear fell on them all as the room became dark, and none save the young son of science dared breathe. Suddenly a round spot of light fell on the sheet, and its glare illuminated the room dimly.

"Before I show the will, Mr. Sheriff, I wish you to see a photo that may be of use to you in that little matter in the village of which you were speaking."

Two dusky figures slid over the disk of light. They grew more and more distinct.

"Great God! It's Alice Green!"

A passion of weeping filled the room, and Elmer opened the lantern, and the room became light. Alma, with her head bent upon her father's knee, was bathed in tears.

"Poor, poor lost Alice!"

"And the fellow with her? Who is he?" cried the sheriff.

"That is Mr. Belford—Mr. Lawrence Belford," said Elmer with cool confidence. "That picture was taken through a telescope from my room on the morning of the 13th."

"The 13th! Why, man, that was the day she was missed."

"Yes. Mr. Belford was with her that day, and perhaps he can explain her disappearance."

The prisoner groaned in abject terror and misery. He saw it all now. His dream pictures were explained. His defeat and detection were accomplished through the young man's science. That he should have been overthrown by such simple means filled him with mortification and anger.

"You shall have the picture, Mr. Sheriff. You may need it at the trial. And now for the will."

The room became again dark, and the figures on the wall stood out sharp and distinct on the sheet. Then the picture faded away, and in its place appeared writing—letters in black upon white ground:

"Salmon Falls, June 1, 1863.

"I, Edward Denny, do hereby leave and bequeath to my son, John Denny, all of my property, both real and personal. All other wills I have made are hereby annulled. My near death prevents a more formal will.

"Edward Denny.


"John Maxwell, M.D."

"My father's will. Thank——"

There was a heavy fall, and Elmer opened his lantern quickly. It was too much for the old man. He had fallen upon the floor insensible.

"A light, John, quick."

They lifted him tenderly, and with Alma's help the old sheriff and the serving man took him away to his room.

The moment the two men were alone, the prisoner in the chair broke out in a torrent of curses and threats. The young man quietly took up his revolver, and said sternly:

"Lawrence Belford, hold your peace. Your threats are idle. You insulted me outrageously the day I came here. I bear you no malice, but when you attempted your infamous plan to capture my cousin and to ruin her father, I sprang to their rescue with such skill as I could command. We shall not pursue you with undue rigor, but with perfect justice——"

"Oh, Mr. Franklin, have mercy[Pg 174] upon me! Let me go! Let me escape before they return. I will go away—far away! Save me, save me, sir! I never harmed you. Have mercy upon me!"

"Had you shown mercy perhaps I might now. No, sir; justice before mercy. Hark—the officer comes."

They unfastened the ropes about Belford, and released the wires, and in silence he went away into the night, a broken-down, crushed, and ruined man in the hands of his grisly Nemesis.

The young man flung himself upon the lounge in the library, and in a moment was fast asleep.

The red gold of the coming day crept up the eastern sky. The storm became beautiful in its fleecy rains in the far south. As the stars paled, the sweet breath of the cool west wind sprang up, shaking the raindrops in showers from the trees. The birds sang and the day came on apace.

To one who watched it seemed the coming of a fairer day than had ever shone upon her life. The vanished storm, the fresh aspect of nature moved her to tears of happiness. Long had she watched the stars. They were the first signs of light and comfort she had discovered, and now they paled before the sun. Thus she sat by the open window in the library and watched with a prayer in her heart.

She looked at the mantel clock. Half past four. In half an hour the house would be stirring. All was now safe. She could return to her room. She rose and approached the sleeper on the lounge. He slept peacefully, as if the events of the night disturbed him not.

He smiled in his dreams, and murmured a name indistinctly. She drew back hastily and put her hand over her mouth, while a bright blush mounted to her face. Just here, through the sweet, still air of the morning, came the sound of the village bell. Tears gathered in her eyes and fell unheeded upon her hands, clasped before her.

"Poor—lost—Alice—nineteen—just my——"


She turned toward the sleeper with a startled cry. He was awake and sitting up.

"What bell is that?"

"It is tolling. They have found her."

"Yes, it is a sad story. Alma?"

She advanced toward him. He noticed her tears and the morning robe in which she was dressed.

"What is it, Elmer? Do you feel better?"

"Yes. It was a sorry night for us."

"Yes, the storm has cleared away."

He did not seem to heed what she said.

"How long have you been up?"

"Since it happened. After I saw father up stairs, I came down and found you here asleep. And Elmer—forgive me—it was wrong, but I did not mean to stay here so long——"


"You will pardon me?"

"Oh! Pardon you—pardon you—why should I? I dreamed the angels watched me."

"I was anxious, and we owe you so much. We can never reward you—never!"

"Reward, Alma! I want none—save——"

"Save what?"

He opened his arms wide. A new and beautiful light came into her eyes.

"Can there be greater reward than love?"

"No. Love is the best reward—and it is yours."

class="right"Charles Barnard.

[Pg 175]


Our own politics have so absorbed the attention of the press and the public for the last six months, that events of decided international prominence have attracted merely a brief notice, instead of the careful discussion which their importance warranted. Even the "Eastern question," that has so long kept the European world in a state of excitement and anxiety almost as intense and even more painful than that in which our own country is now plunged, excited but a fitful interest here. It was only by an effort that we could extend our political horizon as far east as Constantinople. All beyond was comparative darkness. In this darkness, however, history has gone steadily on accumulating new and important data, which must be taken note of if we would keep up with the record of the times.

The term "Eastern question" has come to mean the political complications arising from the presence of the Turkish empire in Europe. The expression might much more appropriately be applied to the serious difficulties that have for the last year and a half existed between the governments of England and China, and which have, as it now appears, been brought to a reasonably satisfactory conclusion. These difficulties sprang out of the murder of an English subject, Augustus Raymond Margary by name, who was travelling in an official capacity in a remote part of the Chinese empire. They were still further complicated by an almost simultaneous attack upon a British exploring expedition that had just crossed the Chinese frontier from Burmah, with the intention of surveying and opening up to trade an overland route between that country and the Middle Kingdom. To understand the matter it will be necessary to give a brief recapitulation of some events that went before.

The vast importance of establishing an overland trade route between India and China will be seen by a glance at the map. It has been the unrealized dream of generations of India and China merchants. "The trade route of the future" it has been called; and when we consider the vast marts of commerce that such a highway would bring in direct contact, it is impossible to think the name thus enthusiastically given an exaggeration. An overland passage between China and Burmah has long been known and made use of by the native merchants of these countries. From time immemorial it has served as a highway for invading armies or peaceful caravans. How highly the two governments appreciated its importance to the commercial prosperity of their respective subjects is shown by the clause in a treaty concluded by them in 1769, which stipulated that the "gold and silver road" between the two countries should always be kept open. European travellers in Eastern lands, from the ubiquitous Marco Polo down, have also done their best to call attention to it. It may therefore seem somewhat strange that England, the commercial interest of whose Indian empire would be most directly promoted by the opening up of this new channel of trade, should have gone so long without paying much official attention to the matter. Recent events, however, have proved, what was probably foreseen by those whose business it was to study up the subject, that there were grave practical difficulties to be overcome before the plan could be successfully carried out.

In the first place it was necessary to secure the consent of both the Burmese and Chinese governments—a task of almost insurmountable difficulty because of the natural dislike of these two powers to share with another the[Pg 176] trade monopoly they had heretofore exclusively enjoyed. Then again there lies between the civilizations of India and China a broad tract of wild and mountainous country, inhabited by a mongrel race of savages, known as Shans and Kakhyens, who, while nominally owing allegiance to one or the other of their more civilized neighbors, practically find their chief support in levying blackmail on all people passing through their territory.

To fit out an exploring expedition strong enough to defy the attacks of the savages, and yet small enough not to convey the idea of an invasion, was, therefore, a work requiring much patience and diplomacy. At length, however, in 1867, the British Government in India succeeded in gaining the consent of the King of Burmah to the passage through his dominions of a mission combining the necessary strength and limits. Under the command of Major Slade, this little army made its way safely through the debatable land of the Kakhyens and Shans, and, entering the province of Yunnan, penetrated as far into the Chinese empire as the city of Momien. But here its further progress was checked.

Yunnan was at the moment in the very crisis of a rebellion against the imperial government. The population of the province is largely Mohammedan. How the religion of the Prophet first obtained so firm a foothold there is still for antiquaries to discover. A semi-historical legend says that the germs of the faith were planted by a colony of Arabs who settled in the country more than a thousand years ago. However this may be, it is certain that the first Mohammedans were not Chinese. By intermarriage, propagation, and adoption, they slowly but steadily communicated their belief to the original inhabitants, until, at the time of which we are writing, more than a tenth of the ten million inhabitants were fanatical Mussulmans. To the mixed race that embrace this creed the general name of Panthays has been given, though for what reason is not known.

In 1855 the Panthays, oppressed, it is said, by the Chinese officials, rose up in rebellion against the imperial government. Led by an obscure Chinese follower of Mohammed, called Tu-win-tsen, the insurrection grew rapidly in extent and success. One imperial city after the other fell into the hands of the rebels, until the entire western section of the province was in their possession and organized as a separate and independent nation, under the sovereignty of Tu-win-tsen, who had in the mean while assumed the more euphonious title of Sultan Soleiman.

It was when Soleiman had attained the height of his glory that Major Slade's party entered Yunnan, and it was with him as the governor de facto that the British commander entered into negotiations. Such a proceeding, though it may have been necessary, was fatal to the further progress of the expedition. The Chinese authorities naturally refused to pass on a party that had, however innocently, entered into friendly relations with its rebellious subjects. Major Slade had the good sense to understand this. The mission retraced its steps into Burmah, and the exploration of the "trade route of the future" was indefinitely postponed.

The visit of the English party to Momien was the signal for a rapid downfall of Soleiman's power. The imperial government, seriously alarmed at the practical recognition of the rebels' independence by an outside power, now put forth all its might to reëstablish its authority. It was successful.

Under the energetic command of one Li-sieh-tai, a famous general who had once himself been a rebel, the Chinese armies wrested back the country, foot by foot, to its former governors. In 1872 Tali-fu, the last and most important stronghold of the rebellion, was closely invested. After a desperate resistance, it was obliged to open its gates.[Pg 177]

The end of Soleiman was dramatic in the extreme. He was told that his followers should be spared if he himself would surrender. He agreed to the terms, and, after administering a dose of poison to himself, his three wives and five children, he mounted his chair, and was borne to the camp of his enemies, where he arrived a corpse sitting erect, the imperial turban on his head and the keys of his capital clasped tightly in his hand. His head, preserved in honey, was sent to Peking. The imperial troops poured into Tali-fu. A general massacre occurred. Those Mohammedans that were not slaughtered fled to the mountains, where they still continued to keep up a guerilla warfare. But the rebellion was practically at an end, and by 1874 the authority of the central government was firmly established throughout the province.

The trade between Burmah and China, which had ceased almost entirely during the long years of the rebellion, again sprang into activity, and once more the attention of the Indian government was attracted to it. In 1874 a new expedition of exploration was prepared and placed under the command of Colonel Browne. The consent of the King of Burmah was obtained, and the British minister in Peking, Mr. Thomas Wade, was instructed to explain the object of the mission to the Chinese government, so that it might receive no opposition upon crossing the Chinese frontier. It was also arranged that a special messenger should be despatched from Peking across China to the frontier to act as interpreter to the expedition, and to prepare the mandarins along the route for its approach. For this responsible and dangerous service, Augustus Raymond Margary was selected—a young man attached to the English consular department, a perfect master of the Chinese language and customs, and a fine type of the best class of young Englishmen.

Provided with the necessary passports from the British minister, countersigned by the Tsung-li-yamen, the Chinese foreign office, Mr. Margary started on his journey. He went up the Yangtsze river as far as Hankow in one of the huge American steamers of the Shanghai Steam Navigation Company. At Hankow, on September 4, 1874, he bade good-by to Western civilization, and, with a Chinese teacher and two or three Chinese attendants, began his trip through a vast and populous country, a terra incognita to Europeans.

His diary of this journey has recently been published. It is interesting in the extreme, though devoid of those startling episodes that generally give charm to accounts of travels in unexplored lands.

He has no old theories to prove and no ambition to start new ones, but simply jots down his impressions of people and things with no attempt at elaboration. The result is, we have a plain, faithful, unvarnished picture of Chinese life and manners, as seen by an intelligent, unprejudiced man. Upon the whole, we think this picture most decidedly favorable to the Chinese character.

Did space permit, we should like to follow Mr. Margary, stage by stage, through his long journey of 900 miles. The first part, through the provinces of Yunnan and Kwei-chow as far as the city of Ch'en-yuan-fu, was made by boat—a long and monotonous trip of four weeks, through a country so picturesque that the "sight was at last completely satiated with the perpetual view of the most glorious scenery that ever made the human heart leap with wonder and delight."

At Ch'en-yuan-fu he exchanged his boat for a chair, in which he completed his journey; traversing Kwei-chow and Yunnan, and the debatable hill land that lies between the latter province and Burmah; arriving in Bhamo, on the Burmese side of the border, on January 17, 1875, where he joined the expedition of Colonel Browne that was advancing to meet him.

Except in two or three instances, he[Pg 178] was treated with courtesy by the people and respect by the officials. In the exceptional cases a display of his Chinese passports sufficed to quickly change the demeanor of the mandarins; while a few calm words of rebuke upon their want of politeness generally caused popular mobs to disperse abashed. An instance of this is given by him in his account of his stay at Lo-shan, a small naval station on the Yangtsze. In returning from a visit to the mandarin of the place, he was surrounded by a dense crowd of street rabble, leaping and screaming like maniacs, and shouting to one another: "I say! Come along. Here's a foreigner. What a lark! Ha, ha, ha!" Margary descended from his chair and delivered a short address:

"Why do you crowd round me in this rude manner? Is this your courtesy to strangers? I have often heard it said that China was of all things distinguished for civility and courtesy. But am I to take this as a specimen of it? Shall I go back and tell my countrymen that your boasted civility only amounts to rudeness?" "I was astonished," he adds, "at the effect this speech produced. They listened with silence, and when I had done walked quietly back quite abashed. Only a few remained; and over and again after this many an irrepressible youngster was severely rebuked for any sign of disrespect by his elders."

Contrast this with the effect which such a speech as that of Margary's, delivered by a Chinaman, would have had upon an English or American mob, and we cannot repress a slight feeling of sympathy with the natives of the Flowery Kingdom when they call us "outside barbarians."

His Chinese letters of recommendation, given him by the Tsung-li-yamen to the viceroys of the three great provinces through which he passed, proved of inestimable value. In the viceroy of Yunnan especially he found an unexpected ally and friend, who issued instructions to the officials all along the road to receive the foreigner with the utmost respect. The extent to which these instructions were carried out depended, of course, very largely on the temperament of the local mandarins. "Some were obsequious, others reserved, but most of them met me with high bred courtesy worthy of praise, and such as befits a welcome from man to man."

"Taking all these experiences together," says Sir Rutherford Alcock, formerly British minister to China, a gentleman by no means inclined to judge Chinese officials favorably, "the impression left is decidedly to the advantage of the central government so far as the bona fides of the safe-conduct given is concerned."

A great deal of Margary's success was also undoubtedly due to his personal magnetism and thorough acquaintance with Chinese habits. Indeed, no one can read this diary without deriving from it a high idea of the genuine attractiveness and solidity of the author's character. In sickness, in trouble, in delay, in vexation, there runs through it all a refreshing, manly, Anglo-Saxon spirit. Knowing as we do what is coming, we find ourselves involuntarily catching with hope at little incidents that seem to delay onward march. Reading these pages, it is impossible to realize that he who wrote them is dead. It is with a mournful feeling of utter and fatalistic helplessness that we follow this young and generous hero while he travels, all unconsciously, down to his death. To the very last all seems to go well with him. At Manwyne, the last city on his journey, the renowned and dreaded Li-sieh-tai, the suppressor of the Mohammedan rebellion, actually prostrated himself before him and paid him the highest honors, warning the assembled chiefs of the savage hill people that they had best take good care of the stranger, as he came protected by an imperial passport.

On the 16th of February, 1875, Colonel Browne's expedition, accompanied by Margary, broke up their camp at Tsitkaw, in Burmah, and advanced toward the Chinese frontier.

Arrangements had been made with[Pg 179] the practically independent chieftains of this wild region for the safe passage of the party through the hilly country. As it advanced, however, ominous rumors of a projected attack by the hill savages and Chinese frontiersmen reached the ears of its members. Though these rumors were generally discredited, it was thought best to send forward Margary as a pioneer, he being well known to the people and officials of the Chinese border town of Manwyne. Margary willingly undertook the mission. With his Chinese teacher and attendants, he hastened on in advance, the rest of the expedition following more slowly. The last communications that came from him were dated "Seray," a town just inside the Chinese frontier. He reported that thus far the road was unmolested and the people civil. On the strength of these advices, Colonel Browne pressed on, crossed the Chinese frontier, and advanced as far as Seray. It was here, on the morning of February 21, that Margary and his attendants had all been murdered, near Manwyne.

Hardly had the news been communicated when it was found that the expedition was surrounded by a large body of armed men, who instantly began an attack. The assailants, a motley crowd of Kakhyens and Chinese border men, were soon repulsed; but as reports came streaming in that large bodies of Chinese train bands were advancing to their aid, it was thought best to beat a retreat. This was safely effected, and by the 26th of February the expedition found itself once more at Bhamo. Thus mournfully ended the second attempt to explore "the trade route of the future."

The mere fact that a British subject had been murdered, and a British exploring expedition attacked on Chinese soil, would in itself have created a grave subject for diplomatic discussion between the governments of England and China. But the matter was rendered doubly serious by the presence of many circumstances tending to show that the outrage had been committed with the tacit connivance, if not at the direct instigation, of the provincial authorities of Yunnan. The whole affair, it was claimed, was not the result of an outbreak of booty-seeking savages, but the culmination of a systematic plot on the part of the Chinese officials.

In laying the matter before Prince Kung, Mr. Wade, the English minister, plainly implied that such was his opinion, and demanded from the Chinese government the promptest and most searching investigation.

An imperial decree was at once issued, commanding the governor of Yunnan to proceed at once to the spot and enter upon a thorough examination of the case. Mr. Wade, however, demanded some securer guarantee that strict justice should be done. He submitted to the Tsung-li-yamen an ultimatum containing three principal conditions: that such British officials as he might see fit to appoint should go to Yunnan and assist at the investigation; that passports should be immediately issued, to enable another expedition to enter Yunnan by the same route; and that a sum of $150,000 be placed in his hands as a guarantee of good faith. The Chinese government demurred at first to these demands, but the threat of Mr. Wade to leave Peking unless they were accepted before a certain day finally caused it to give a reluctant consent. Some months were then spent in diplomatic wrangling over the conditions under which the British officials should proceed to Yunnan, and what their powers should be on their arrival there. The Chinese government showed, in the opinion of Mr. Wade, a strong desire to avoid fulfilling its part of the contract. The negotiations on several occasions assumed an acute character of danger. Both parties prepared for war. The English minister concentrated the English fleet in the China seas; the Chinese government bought up large supplies of arms and ammunition. But Prince Kung and his advisers[Pg 180] had the good sense to see that the chances in a struggle of arms would be too unequal, and always submitted at the last moment. At last the Chinese government, having agreed to all the preliminary conditions, and having also despatched a high officer, Li-hang-chang, to Yunnan to thoroughly investigate the affair, "without regard to persons," the British minister agreed to let the English mission of investigation proceed. Mr. Grosvenor, a secretary of legation, was placed at its head. Li-hang-chang went on in advance.

This high official seems to have done his duty in a spirit of strict impartiality. His reports to the government make no attempt to conceal the guilt of the provincial officials, or to shield them from deserved punishment. He immediately ordered the arrest of the general commanding at Momien and a number of other local officers, pushing his inquiries with vigor and with what appears a sincere desire to arrive at the ground facts. In the course of his labors he came to the conclusion that Li-sieh-tai, whom we have already mentioned, was one of the instigators, probably the chief one, of the attack on the mission. He at once memorialized the throne to have him arrested and brought up for trial. In this memorial he gives what seems to us, upon an unprejudiced comparison of testimony, the truest version of the affair. He believes the murder of Margary and his attendants to have been the work of "lawless offenders," greedy of gain, but that the attack upon Colonel Browne's party was made at the secret instigation of Li-sieh-tai and other provincial officials, although that general was not on the spot, nor were there any soldiers concerned in the assault. He shows that Li-sieh-tai had already written to the governor of Yunnan, telling him that he (Li) was "taking vigorous measures to protect the region against invasion," and that the governor had written back commanding him to stop all further proceedings and quiet the apprehensions of the people. This command, however, was not received until after the murder and attack had taken place. "It appears from this, consequently" (the report adds), "that although Li-sieh-tai had no intention of committing murder, he is liable to a charge of having laid plans to obstruct the expedition; and your servants have agreed, after taking counsel together, that he should not be suffered to take advantage of his official rank as a cover for lying evasions, gaining time with false statements, in dread of incurring punishment."

Immediately upon receipt of this memorial a decree appeared in the Peking "Gazette" ordering Li-sieh-tai to be degraded from his rank, and commanding him to proceed at once to Yunnan for trial before the high commission.

As we have said before, we think Li-hang-chang's account is substantially correct. There are a great many circumstances tending to exculpate Li-sieh-tai from any wish to have Margary murdered. Had such been his wish, he might more easily have disposed of him when he passed through en route for Burmah. Moreover, at the very time of Margary's murder, Mr. Elias, a member of the expedition, who had struck off from the main body in order to explore another route to Momien, was entertained by Li-sieh-tai at Muangnow, a town at some distance from the seat of the murder. Though completely in his power, Mr. Elias received all possible civility compatible with a determined and successful opposition to his further advance. Now it seems absurd to believe that Li-sieh-tai felt any stronger personal dislike for Margary than he felt for Mr. Elias.

In regard to his complicity in the attack on the expedition, the evidence is just as strong on the other side. He had a deep and by no means unnatural prejudice against English exploring parties. The last mission of the kind had entered into negotiations, as we have already mentioned, with the[Pg 181] enemies against whom this Chinese general was prosecuting bitter war. The smouldering embers of the rebellion were not even yet entirely extinguished; the presence of an armed body of foreigners, no matter how small, who had previously shown a friendly disposition toward the Mohammedan usurpation, might awaken new hopes in the breasts of the still surviving rebels. This feeling, combined with the jealous wish of the border merchants, both Chinese and Burmese, to retain a monopoly of the overland trade, undoubtedly inspired a general feeling of hostility among the local officials and the people, which found a ready instrument in the greedy and savage character of the frontier tribes. Where so much combustible matter was heaped up, it needed but a hint to bring on the catastrophe that followed.

While Li-hang-chang and the Chinese commission were conducting the preliminary investigations, Mr. Grosvenor and his colleagues were approaching. Their journey across the empire was attended not only with no opposition or difficulty, but they were received everywhere with great and even obsequious respect. Upon arriving in Yunnan they found an immense pile of evidence awaiting their inspection. Mr. Grosvenor's report has not yet been published, we believe, but from general rumor, and the fact that nothing has been heard to the contrary, we are justified in believing that he found the state of the case to be substantially as it was reported by the Chinese high commissioner. After having reviewed the evidence presented, after having witnessed the execution of a number of wretches convicted of direct complicity in the murder of Margary, the Grosvenor commission pursued its way, escorted by troops that had been despatched from Burmah for the purpose.

Diplomatic negotiations were once more transferred to Peking, and turned upon the compensation to be offered by China for the violation of international law that had occurred upon her soil. The demands of the British minister, who had in the mean time been knighted as Sir Thomas Wade by the Queen, as a just acknowledgment of his efficient services, were considered too severe by the Chinese government, and at one time it looked as if all further negotiations would be broken off.

Sir Thomas finally carried his threat to leave Peking into execution. Prince Kung had evidently not expected so decided a step, and was seriously alarmed by it, for the Chinese government have shown throughout the affair a very wise disposition not to push matters to the last extreme. Li-wang-chang (a brother, we believe, of the official who was sent to Yunnan), the governor of the province of Chihli, the highest and most powerful statesman in the country, was immediately granted extraordinary powers, and sent after the English minister. After some diplomatic fencing Sir Thomas agreed to meet the Chinese envoy at Chefoo—a seaport about half way between Shanghai and Peking, a great summer resort of the foreigners in China—the Newport of the eastern world. Here, in the month of September, 1876, with much surrounding pomp and ceremony, a convention was signed between the English and the Chinese plenipotentiaries. The final settlement of the difficulty was celebrated by a grand banquet, given by Li-wang-chang to Sir Thomas and the other foreign ambassadors, who had been drawn to Chefoo by their interest in the negotiations.

The following is a synopsis of the agreement:

1. An imperial edict to be published throughout the Chinese empire, setting forth the facts of the affair, subject to the directions and approval of the British minister.

2. Consular officials to visit the various towns and public places to see that the said imperial edict is posted where all can see it.[Pg 182]

3. The family of Margary to be paid about $250,000 indemnity.

4. A further indemnity to be given, covering all expenses of the unsuccessful expedition under Colonel Browne.

5. A special embassy of apology to be sent to England.

Then follow a number of concessions with regard to placing on a better footing the relations of foreign ambassadors to the Chinese authorities, the enlargement of the foreign settlement at Shanghai, etc.

But by far the most important clause is that opening up to foreign trade four new ports on the Yangtsze river. This concession is virtually equivalent to throwing open the whole interior of the country to foreign merchants.

Altogether the British minister has certainly won a triumph that well deserved a knighthood.

Undoubtedly he had a very strong indictment against the Chinese authorities, although we cannot help regarding the matter of the murder and the attack as more the misfortune than the fault of the central government. Nevertheless, western nations are fully justified in rigidly holding the Peking authorities responsible for any violation of international duties committed anywhere within their jurisdiction; and it is not only fair, but expedient, that when such cases do occur some practical and important reparation should be made for them. The concessions obtained by Sir Thomas Wade, though sweeping, are not, in our opinion, excessive. On the other hand, the Chinese government by granting them has fully satisfied the demands of justice. It could not have gone further without losing the respect and incurring the dangerous opposition of its people. Indeed, throughout the negotiations Prince Kung and his advisers have had to contend against a powerful anti-foreign party in the court and the nation. Strong fears were entertained more than once that the reactionary element would get the upper hand. Some idea of Prince Kung's difficulties may be conceived when we read that one morning the walls of Peking were found covered with placards bitterly denouncing the policy of the government, and calling upon all good subjects to rise up against such unpatriotic leaders.

When Li-wang-chang, who enjoys great popularity in his province, was en route for Chefoo to negotiate with Sir Thomas Wade, the people of Tien-tsin made the most determined efforts to prevent him from going further. For a time he was literally besieged in his own yamen, and it was only by the publication of a proclamation warning the people that they were guilty of rebellion against the emperor when they hindered the progress of his representatives, that the opposition was withdrawn.

Sir Thomas deserves the highest praise for going just far enough and no further in his demands. Yet the last mail from China brings the news that the foreign residents there are intensely dissatisfied with the result of the settlement. This was to be expected. Any settlement short of one effected by war would have met the disapproval of these gentry. The interests of the Chinese and the foreign merchants are too antagonistic to admit of impartial judgment on questions of this sort. England, in their opinion, could gain greater concessions by war than by negotiations—ergo, they would have all such troubles settled by "blood and iron."

The London "Times" puts it very well when it says:

"Those Englishmen who reside in the treaty ports are not impartial judges of the concessions. Too often they go to Canton or Shanghai in a frame of mind that would exasperate a much less vain people than the Chinese. They sometimes talk as if they thought it a mere impertinence on the part of an inferior race to have a pride of its own, and they act as if the chief end of the Chinese were to minister to the demands of British trade."

Walter A. Burlingame.

[Pg 183]


The first feeling of the reader of the two volumes which have lately been published under the foregoing title is that he has almost done wrong to read them. He reproaches himself with having taken a shabby advantage of a person who is unable to defend himself. He feels as one who has broken open a cabinet or rummaged an old desk. The contents of Balzac's letters are so private, so personal, so exclusively his own affairs and those of no one else, that the generous critic constantly lays them down with a sort of dismay, and asks himself in virtue of what peculiar privilege, or what newly discovered principle it is, that he is thus burying his nose in them. Of course he presently reflects that he has not broken open a cabinet nor violated a desk, but that these repositories have been very freely and confidently emptied into his lap. The two stout volumes of the "Correspondence de H. de Balzac, 1819-1850,"[1] lately put forth, are remarkable, like many other French books of the same sort, for the almost complete absence of editorial explanation or introduction. They have no visible sponsor; only a few insignificant lines of preface and the scantiest possible supply of notes. Such as the book is, in spite of its abruptness, we are thankful for it; in spite, too, of our bad conscience. What we mean by our bad conscience is the feeling with which we see the last remnant of charm, of the graceful and the agreeable, removed from Balzac's literary physiognomy. His works had not left much of this favoring shadow, but the present publication has let in the garish light of full publicity. The grossly, inveterately professional character of all his activity, the absence of leisure, of contemplation, of disinterested experience, the urgency of his consuming money-hunger—all this is rudely exposed. It is always a question whether we have a right to investigate a man's life for the sake of anything but his official utterances—his results. The picture of Balzac's career which is given in these letters is a record of little else but painful processes, unrelieved by reflections or speculations, by any moral or intellectual emanation. To prevent misconception, however, we hasten to add that they tell no disagreeable secrets; they contain nothing for the lovers of scandal. Balzac was a very honest man, but he was a man almost tragically uncomfortable, and the unsightly underside of his discomfort stares us full in the face. Still, if his personal portrait is without ideal beauty, it is by no means without a certain brightness, or at least a certain richness of coloring. Huge literary ogre as he was, he was morally nothing of a monster. His heart was capacious, and his affections vigorous; he was powerful, coarse, and kind.

The first letter in the series is addressed to his elder sister, Laure, who afterward became Mme. de Surville, and who, after her illustrious brother's death, published in a small volume some agreeable reminiscences of him. For this lady he had, especially in his early years, a passionate affection. He had in 1819 come up to Paris from Touraine, in which province his family lived, to seek his fortune as a man of letters. The episode is a strange and gloomy one. His vocation for literature had not been favorably viewed at home, where money was scanty; but the parental consent, or rather the parental tolerance, was at last obtained for his experiment. The future author of the "Père Goriot" was at this time but twenty years of age, and in the way of symptoms of genius had nothing but a very robust self-confidence to show. His family, who had[Pg 184] to contribute to his support while his masterpieces were a-making, appear to have regretted, the absence of further guarantees. He came to Paris, however, and lodged in a garret, where the allowance made him by his father kept him neither from shivering nor from nearly starving. The situation had been arranged in a way very characteristic of French manners. The fact that Honoré had gone to Paris was kept a secret from the friends of the family, who were told that he was on a visit to a cousin in the South. He was on probation, and if he failed to acquire literary renown, his excursion should be hushed up. This pious fraud did not contribute to the comfort of the young scribbler, who was afraid to venture abroad by day lest he should be seen by an acquaintance of the family. Balzac must have been at this time miserably poor. If he goes to the theatre, he has to pay for the pleasure by fasting. He wishes to see Talma (having to go to the play, to keep up the fiction of his being in the South, in a latticed box). "I shall end by giving in.... My stomach already trembles." Meanwhile he was planning a tragedy of "Cromwell," which came to nothing, and writing the "Héritière de Birague," his first novel, which he sold for one hundred and sixty dollars. Through these early letters, in spite of his chilly circumstances, there flows a current of youthful ardor, gayety, and assurance. Some passages in his letters to his sister are a sort of explosion of animal spirits:

Ah, my sister, what torments it gives us—the love of glory! Long live grocers! they sell all day, count their gains in the evening, take their pleasure from time to time at some frightful melodrama—and behold them happy! Yes, but they pass their time between cheese and soap. Long live rather men of letters! Yes, but these are all beggars in pocket, and rich only in conceit. Well, let us leave them all alone, and long live every one!

Elsewhere he scribbles: "Farewell, soror! I hope to have a letter sororis to answer sorori, then to see sororem," etc. Later, after his sister is married, he addresses her as "the box that contains everything pleasing; the elixir of virtue, grace, and beauty; the jewel, the phenomenon of Normandy; the pearl of Bayeux, the fairy of St. Lawrence, the virgin of the Rue Teinture, the guardian angel of Caen, the goddess of enchantments, the treasure of friendship."

We shall continue to quote, without the fear of our examples exceeding, in the long run, our commentary. "Find me some widow, a rich heiress," he writes to his sister at Bayeux, whither her husband had taken her to live. "You know what I mean. Only brag about me. Twenty-two years old, a good fellow, good manners, a bright eye, fire, the best dough for a husband that heaven has ever kneaded. I will give you five per cent. on the dowry." "Since yesterday," he writes in another letter, "I have given up dowagers and have come down to widows of thirty. Send all you find to Lord Rhoone [this remarkable improvisation was one of his early noms de plume]; that's enough—he is known at the city limits. Take notice. They are to be sent prepaid, without crack or repair, and they are to be rich and amiable. Beauty isn't required. The varnish goes, and the bottom of the pot remains!"

Like many other young men of ability, Balzac felt the little rubs—or the great ones—of family life. His mother figures largely in these volumes (she survived her glorious son), and from the scattered reflection of her idiosyncrasies the attentive reader constructs a sufficiently vivid portrait. She was the old middle-class Frenchwoman whom he has so often seen—devoted, active, meddlesome, parsimonious, exacting veneration, and expending zeal. Honoré tells his sister:

The other day, coming back from Paris much bothered, it never occurred to me to thank maman for a black coat which she had had made for me; at my age one isn't particularly sensitive to such a present. Nevertheless, it would not have cost me much to seem touched by the attention, especially as it was a sacrifice. But I forgot it. Maman began to pout, and you know what her aspect and her face amount to at those moments. I fell from the clouds, and racked my brain to know what I had done. Happily Laurence [his[Pg 185] younger sister] came and notified me, and two or three words as fine as amber mended maman's countenance. The thing is nothing—a mere drop of water; but it's to give you an example of our manners. Ah, we are a jolly set of originals in our holy family. What a pity I can't put us into novels!

His father wished to find him an opening in some profession, and the thought of being made a notary was a bugbear to the young man: "Think of me as dead, if they cap me with that extinguisher." And yet, in the next sentence, he breaks out into a cry of desolate disgust at the aridity of his actual circumstances: "They call this mechanical rotation living—this perpetual return of the same things. If there were only something to throw some charm or other over my cold existence. I have none of the flowers of life, and yet I am in the season in which they bloom. What will be the use of fortune and pleasures when my youth has departed? What need of the garments of an actor if one no longer plays a part? An old man is a man who has dined, and who watches others eat; and I, young as I am—my plate is empty, and I am hungry. Laure, Laure, my two only and immense desires, to be famous and to be loved—will they ever be satisfied?"

These occasional bursts of confidence in his early letters to his sister are (with the exception of certain excellent pages, addressed in the last years of his life to the lady he eventually married) Balzac's most delicate, most emotional utterances. There is a touch of the ideal in them. Later, one wonders where he keeps his ideal. He has one of course, artistically, but it never peeps out. He gives up talking sentiment, and he never discusses "subjects"; he only talks business. Meanwhile, however, at this period, business was increasing with him. He agrees to write three novels for eight hundred and twenty dollars. Here begins the inextricable mystery of Balzac's literary promises, pledges, projects, and contracts. His letters form a swarming register of schemes and bargains through which he passes like a hero of the circus, riding half a dozen piebald coursers at once. We confess that in this matter we have been able to keep no sort of account; the wonder is that Balzac should have accomplished the feat himself. After the first year or two of his career, we never see him working upon a single tale; his productions dovetail and overlap, and dance attendance upon each other in the most bewildering fashion. As soon as one novel is fairly on the stocks he plunges into another, and while he is rummaging in this with one hand, he stretches out a heroic arm and breaks ground in a third. His plans are always vastly in advance of his performance; his pages swarm with titles of books that were never to be written. The title circulates with such an assurance that we are amazed to find, fifty pages later, that there is no more of it than of the cherubic heads. With this, Balzac was constantly paid in advance by his publishers—paid for works not begun, or barely begun; and the money was as constantly spent before the equivalent had been delivered. Meanwhile more money was needed, and new novels were laid out to obtain it; but prior promises had first to be kept. Keeping them, under these circumstances, was not an exhilarating process; and readers familiar with Balzac will reflect with wonder that these were yet the circumstances in which some of his best tales were written. They were written, as it were, in the fading light, by a man who saw night coming on, and yet couldn't afford to buy candles. He could only hurry. But Balzac's way of hurrying was all his own; it was a sternly methodical haste, and might have been mistaken, in a more lightly-weighted genius, for elaborate trifling. The close tissue of his work never relaxed; he went on doggedly and insistently, pressing it down and packing it together, multiplying erasures, alterations, repetitions, transforming proof-sheets, quarrelling with editors, enclosing subject within subject, accumulating notes upon notes.[Pg 186]

The letters make a jump from 1822 to 1827, during which interval he had established, with borrowed capital, a printing house, and seen his enterprise completely fail. This failure saddled him with a mountain of debt which pressed upon him crushingly for years, and of which he rid himself only toward the close of his life. Balzac's debts are another labyrinth in which we do not profess to hold a clue. There is scarcely a page of these volumes in which they are not alluded to, but the reader never quite understands why they should bloom so perennially. The liabilities incurred by the collapse of the printing scheme can hardly have been so vast as not to have been for the most part cancelled by ten years of heroic work. Balzac appears not to have been extravagant; he had neither wife nor children (unlike many of his comrades, he had no illegitimate offspring), and when he admits us to a glimpse of his domestic economy, we usually find it to be of a very meagre pattern. He writes to his sister in 1827 that he has not the means either to pay the postage of letters or to use omnibuses, and that he goes out as little as possible, so as not to wear out his clothes. In 1829, however, we find him in correspondence with a duchess, Mme. d'Abrantès, the widow of Junot, Napoleon's rough marshal, and author of those voluminous memoirs upon the imperial court which it was the fashion to read in the early part of the century. The Duchess d'Abrantès wrote bad novels, like Balzac himself at this period, and the two became good friends.

The year 1830 was the turning point in Balzac's career. Renown, to which he had begun to lay siege in Paris in 1820, now at last began to show symptoms of self-surrender. Yet one of the strongest expressions of discontent and despair in the pages before us belongs to this brighter moment. It is also one of the finest passages:

Sacredieu, my good friend, I believe that literature, in the day we live in, is no better than the trade of a woman of the town, who prostitutes herself for a dollar. It leads to nothing. I have an itch to go off and wander and explore, make of my life a drama, risk my life; for, as for a few miserable years more or less!... Oh, when one looks at these great skies of a beautiful night, one is ready to unbutton——

But the modesty of the English tongue forbids us to translate the rest of the phrase. Dean Swift might have related how Balzac wished to express his contempt for all the royalties of the earth. Now that he is in the country, he goes on:

I have been seeing real splendors, such as fine, sound fruit and gilded insects; I have been quite turning philosopher, and if I happen to tread upon an anthill, I say, like that immortal Bonaparte, "These creatures are men: what is it to Saturn, or Venus, or the North Star?" And then my philosopher comes down to scribble "items" for a newspaper. Proh pudor! And so it seems to me that the ocean, a brig, and an English vessel to sink, if you must sink yourself to do it, are rather better than a writing-desk, a pen, and the Rue St. Denis.

But Balzac was fastened to the writing desk. In 1831 he tells one of his correspondents that he is working fifteen or sixteen hours a day. Later, in 1837, he describes himself repeatedly as working eighteen hours out of the twenty-four. In the midst of all this (it seems singular), he found time for visions of public life, of political distinction. In a letter written in 1830 he gives a succinct statement of his political views, from which we learn that he approved of the French monarchy having a constitution, and of instruction being diffused among the lower orders. But he desired that the people should be kept "under the most powerful yoke possible," so that in spite of their instruction they should not become disorderly. It is fortunate, probably, both for Balzac and for France, that his political rôle was limited to the production of a certain number of forgotten editorials in newspapers; but we may be sure that his dreams of statesmanship were brilliant and audacious. Balzac indulged in no dreams that were not.

Some of his best letters are addressed to Mme. Zulma Carraud, a lady whose acquaintance he had made through his sister Laure, of whom she[Pg 187] was an intimate friend, and whose friendship (exerted almost wholly through letters, as she always lived in the country) appears to have been one of the brightest and most salutary influences of his life. He writes to her in 1832:

There are vocations which we must obey, and something irresistible draws me on to glory and power. It is not a happy life. There is within me the worship of woman (le culte de la femme), and a need of love which has never been fully satisfied. Despairing of ever being loved and understood by such a woman as I have dreamed of, having met her only under one form, that of the heart, I throw myself into the tempestuous sphere of political passions and into the stormy and desiccating atmosphere of literary glory. I shall fail perhaps on both sides; but, believe me, if I have wished to live the life of the age itself, instead of running my course in happy obscurity, it is just because the pure happiness of mediocrity has failed me. When one has a fortune to make, it is better to make it great and illustrious; because, pain for pain, it is better to suffer in a high sphere than in a low one, and I prefer dagger blows to pin pricks.

All this, though written at thirty years of age, is rather juvenile; there was to be much less of the "tempest" in Balzac's life than is here foreshadowed. He was tossed and shaken a great deal, as we all are, by the waves of the time, but he was too stoutly anchored at his work to feel the winds.

In 1832 "Louis Lambert" followed the "Peau de Chagrin," the first in the long list of his masterpieces. He describes "Louis Lambert" as "a work in which I have striven to rival Goethe and Byron, Faust and Manfred. I don't know whether I shall succeed, but the fourth volume of the 'Philosophical Tales' must be a last reply to my enemies and give the presentiment of an incontestable superiority. You must therefore forgive the poor artist his fatigue [he is writing to his sister], his discouragements, and especially his momentary detachment from any sort of interest that does not belong to his subject. 'Louis Lambert' has cost me so much work! To write this book I have had to read so many books! Some day or other, perhaps, it will throw science into new paths. If I had made it a purely learned work, it would have attracted the attention of thinkers, who now will not drop their eyes upon it. But if chance puts it into their hands, perhaps they will speak of it!" In this passage there is an immense deal of Balzac—of the great artist who was so capable at times of self-deceptive charlatanism. "Louis Lambert," as a whole, is now quite unreadable; it contains some admirable descriptions, but the "scientific" portion is mere fantastic verbiage. There is something extremely characteristic in the way Balzac speaks of its having been optional with him to make it a "purely learned" work. His pretentiousness was simply colossal, and there is nothing surprising in his wearing the mask even en famille (the letter we have just quoted from is, as we have said, to his sister); he wore it during his solitary fifteen-hours sessions in his study. But the same letter contains another passage, of a very different sort, which is in its way as characteristic:

Yes, you are right. My progress is real, and my infernal courage will be rewarded. Persuade my mother of this too, dear sister; tell her to give me her patience in charity; her devotion will be laid up in her favor. One day, I hope, a little glory will pay her for everything. Poor mother, that imagination of hers which she has given me throws her for ever from north to south and from south to north. Such journeys tire us; I know it myself! Tell my mother that I love her as when I was a child. As I write you these lines my tears start—tears of tenderness and despair; for I feel the future, and I need this devoted mother on the day of triumph! When shall I reach it? Take good care of our mother, Laure, for the present and the future.... Some day, when my works are unfolded, you will see that it must have taken many hours to think and write so many things; and then you will absolve me of everything that has displeased you, and you will excuse, not the selfishness of the man (the man has none), but the selfishness of the worker.

Nothing can be more touching than that; Balzac's natural affections were as robust as his genius and his physical nature. The impression of the reader of his letters quite confirms his assurance that the man proper had no selfishness. Only we are constantly reminded that the man had almost wholly resolved himself into the worker, and we remember a statement of Sainte-Beuve's, in one of his malignant[Pg 188] foot-notes, to the effect that Balzac was "the grossest, greediest example of literary vanity that he had ever known"—l'amour-propre littéraire le plus avide et le plus grossier que j'aie connu. When we think of what Sainte-Beuve must have known in this line, these few words acquire a portentous weight.

By this time (1832) Balzac was, in French phrase, thoroughly lancé. He was doing, among other things, some of his most brilliant work, certain of the "Contes Drôlatiques." These were written, as he tells his mother, for relaxation, as a rest from harder labor. One would have said that no work would have been much harder than compounding the marvellously successful imitation of mediæval French in which these tales are written. He had, however, other diversions as well. In the autumn of 1832 he was at Aix-les-Bains with the Duchess of Castries, a great lady, and one of his kindest friends. He has been accused of drawing portraits of great ladies without knowledge of originals; but Mme. de Castries was an inexhaustible fund of instruction upon this subject. Three or four years later, speaking of the story of the "Duchesse de Laugeais" to one of his correspondents, another femme du monde, he tells her that as a femme du monde she is not to pretend to find flaws in the picture, a high authority having read the proofs for the express purpose of removing them. The authority is evidently the Duchess of Castries.

Balzac writes to Mme. Carraud from Aix: "At Lyons I corrected 'Lambert' again. I licked my cub, like a she bear.... On the whole, I am satisfied; it is a work of profound melancholy and of science. Truly, I deserve to have a mistress, and my sorrow at not having one increases daily; for love is my life and my essence.... I have a simple little room," he goes on, "from which I see the whole valley. I rise pitilessly at five o'clock in the morning, and work before my window until half-past five in the evening. My breakfast comes from the club—an egg. Mme. de Castries has good coffee made for me. At six o'clock we dine together, and I pass the evening with her. She is the finest type (le type le plus fin) of woman; Mme. de Beauséant [from "Le Père Goriot"] improved; only, are not all these pretty manners acquired at the expense of the soul?"

During his stay at Aix he met an excellent opportunity to go to Italy; the Duke de Fitz-James, who was travelling southward, invited him to become a member of his party. He discourses the economical problem (in writing to his mother) with his usual intensity, and throws what will seem to the modern traveller the light of enchantment upon that golden age of cheapness. Occupying the fourth place in the carriage of the Duchess of Castries, his quarter of the total travelling expenses from Geneva to Rome (carriage, beds, food, etc.) was to be fifty dollars! But he was ultimately prevented from joining the party. He went to Italy some years later.

He mentions, in 1833, that the chapter entitled "Juana," in the superb tale of "The Maranas," as also the story of "La Grenadière," was written in a single night. He gives at the same period this account of his habits of work: "I must tell you that I am up to my neck in excessive work. My life is mechanically arranged. I go to bed at six or seven in the evening, with the chickens; I wake up at one in the morning and work till eight; then I take something light, a cup of pure coffee, and get into the shafts of my cab until four; I receive, I take a bath, or I go out, and after dinner I go to bed. I must lead this life for some months longer, in order not to be overwhelmed by my obligations. The profit comes slowly; my debts are inexorable and fixed. Now, it is certain that I will make a great fortune; but I must wait for it, and work for three years. I must go over things, correct them again, put everything[Pg 189] en état monumental; thankless work, not counted, without immediate profit." He speaks of working at this amazing rate for three years longer; in reality he worked for fifteen. But two years after the declaration we have just quoted, it seemed to him that he should break down: "My poor sister, I am draining the cup to the dregs. It is in vain that I work my fourteen hours a day; I can't do enough. While I write this to you I find myself so weary that I have just sent Auguste to take back my word from certain engagements that I had formed. I am so weak that I have advanced my dinner hour in order to go to bed earlier; and I go nowhere." The next year he writes to his mother, who had apparently complained of his silence: "My good mother, do me the charity to let me carry my burden without suspecting my heart. A letter for me, you see, is not only money, but an hour of sleep and a drop of blood."

We spoke just now of Balzac's sentimental consolations; but it appears that at times he was more acutely conscious of what he missed than of what he enjoyed. "As for the soul," he writes to Mme. Carraud in 1833, "I am profoundly sad. My work alone sustains me in life. Is there then to be no woman for me in this world? My physical melancholy and ennui last longer and grow more frequent. To fall from this crushing labor to nothing—not to have near me that soft, caressing mind of woman, for whom I have done so much!" He had, however, a devoted feminine friend, to whom none of the letters in these volumes are addressed, but who is several times alluded to. This lady, Mme. de Berny, died in 1836, and Balzac speaks of her ever afterward with extraordinary tenderness and veneration. But if there had been a passion between them, it was only a passionate friendship. "Ah, my dear mother," he writes on New Year's day, 1836, "I am harrowed with grief. Mme. de Berny is dying; it is impossible to doubt it. No one but God and myself knows what my despair is. And I must work—work while I weep!" He writes of Mme. de Berny at the time of her death as follows. The letter is addressed to a lady with whom he was in correspondence more or less sentimental, but whom he never saw: "The person whom I have lost was more than a mother, more than a friend, more than any creature can be for another. The term divinity only can explain her. She had sustained me by word, by act, by devotion, during my worst weather. If I live, it is by her; she was everything for me. Although for two years illness and time had separated us, we were visible at a distance for each other. She reacted upon me; she was a moral sun. Mme. de Mortsauf, in the 'Lys dans la Vallée,' is a pale expression of this person's slightest qualities." Three years afterward he writes to his sister: "I am alone against all my troubles, and formerly, to help me to resist them, I had with me the sweetest and bravest person in the world; a woman who every day is born again in my heart, and whose divine qualities make the friendships that are compared with hers seem pale. I have now no adviser in my literary difficulties; I have no guide but the fatal thought, 'What would she say if she were living?'" And he goes on to enumerate some of his actual and potential friends. He tells his sister that she herself might have been for him a close intellectual comrade if her duties of wife and mother had not given her too many other things to think about. The same is true of Mme. Carraud: "Never has a more extraordinary mind been more smothered; she will die in her corner unknown! George Sand," he continues, "would speedily be my friend; she has no pettiness whatever in her soul—none of the low jealousies which obscure so many contemporary talents. Dumas resembles her in this; but she has not the critical sense. Mme. Hanska is all this; but I cannot weigh[Pg 190] upon her destiny." Mme. Hanska was the Polish lady whom he ultimately married, and of whom we shall speak. Meanwhile, for a couple of years (1836 and 1837), he carried on an exchange of opinions, of the order that the French call intimes, with the unseen correspondent to whom we have alluded, and who figures in these volumes as "Louise." The letters, however, are not love letters; Balzac, indeed, seems chiefly occupied in calming the ardor of the lady, who was evidently a woman of social distinction. "Don't have any friendship for me," he writes; "I need too much. Like all people who struggle, suffer, and work, I am exacting, mistrustful, wilful, capricious.... If I had been a woman, I should have loved nothing so much as some soul buried like a well in the desert—discovered only when you place yourself directly under the star which indicates it to the thirsty Arab."

His first letter to Mme. Hanska here given bears the date of 1835; but we are informed in a note that he had at that moment been for some time in correspondence with her. The correspondence had begun, if we are not mistaken, on Mme. Hanska's side, before they met; she had written to him as a literary admirer. She was a Polish lady of great fortune, with an invalid husband. After her husband's death, projects of marriage defined themselves more vividly, but practical considerations kept them for a long time in the background. Balzac had first to pay off his debts, and Mme. Hanska, as a Polish subject of the Czar Nicholas, was not in a position to marry from one day to another. The growth of their intimacy is, however, amply reflected in these volumes, and the dénouement presents itself with a certain dramatic force. Balzac's letters to his future wife, as to every one else, deal almost exclusively with his financial situation. He discusses the details of this matter with all his correspondents, who apparently have—or are expected to have—his monetary entanglements at their fingers' ends. It is a constant enumeration of novels and tales begun or delivered, revised or bargained for. The tone is always profoundly sombre and bitter. The reader's general impression is that of lugubrious egotism. It is the rarest thing in the world that there is an allusion to anything but Balzac's own affairs, and to the most sordid details of his own affairs. Hardly an echo of the life of his time, of the world he lived in, finds its way into his letters; there are no anecdotes, no impressions, no opinions, no descriptions, no allusions to things heard, people seen, emotions felt—other emotions, at least, than those of the exhausted or the exultant worker. The reason of all this is of course very obvious. A man could not be such a worker as Balzac and be much else besides. The note of animal spirits which we observed in his early letters is sounded much less frequently as time goes on; although the extraordinary robustness and exuberance of his temperament plays richly into his books. The "Contes Drôlatiques" are full of it, and his conversation was also full of it. But the letters constantly show us a man with the edge of his spontaneity gone—a man groaning and sighing, as from Promethean lungs, complaining of his tasks, denouncing his enemies, and in complete ill humor generally with life. Of any expression of enjoyment of the world, of the beauties of nature, art, literature, history, human character, these pages are singularly destitute. And yet we know that such enjoyment—instinctive, unreasoning, essential—is half the inspiration of the poet. The truth is that Balzac was as little as possible of a poet; he often speaks of himself as one, but he deserved the name as little as his own Canalis or his own Rubempré. He was neither a poet nor a moralist, though the latter title in France is often bestowed upon him—a fact which strikingly helps to illustrate the Gallic lightness of soil in the moral region.[Pg 191] Balzac was the hardest and deepest of prosateurs; the earth-scented facts of life, which the poet puts under his feet, he had put above his head. Obviously there went on within him a vast and constant intellectual unfolding. His mind must have had a history of its own—a history of which it would be most interesting to have an occasional glimpse. But the history is not related here, even in glimpses. His books are full of ideas; his letters have almost none. It is probably not unfair to argue from this fact that there were few ideas that he greatly cared for. Making all allowance for the pressure and tyranny of circumstances, we may believe that if he had greatly cared to se recueillir, as the French say—greatly cared, in the Miltonic phrase, "to interpose a little ease"—he would sometimes have found an opportunity for it. Perpetual work, when it is joyous and salubrious, is a very fine thing; but perpetual work, when it is executed with the temper which more than half the time appears to have been Balzac's, has in it something almost debasing. We constantly feel that his work would have been vastly better if the Muse of "business" had been elbowed away by her larger-browed sister. Balzac himself, doubtless, often felt in the same way; but, on the whole, "business" was what he most cared for. The "Comédie Humaine" represents an immense amount of joy, of spontaneity, of irrepressible artistic life. Here and there in the letters this occasionally breaks out in accents of mingled exultation and despair. "Never," he writes in 1836, "has the torrent which bears me along been more rapid; never has a work more majestically terrible imposed itself upon the human brain. I go to my work as the gamester to the gaming-table; I am sleeping now only five hours and working eighteen; I shall arrive dead.... Write to me; be generous; take nothing in bad part, for you don't know how, at moments, I deplore this life of fire. But how can I jump out of the chariot?" We had occasion in writing of Balzac in these pages more than a year ago[2] to say that his great characteristic, far from being a passion for ideas, was a passion for things. We said just now that his books are full of ideas; but we must add that his letters make us feel that these ideas are themselves in a certain sense "things." They are pigments, properties, frippery; they are always concrete and available. Balzac cared for them only if they would fit into his inkstand.

He never "jumped out of his car"; but as the years went on he was able at times to let the reins hang more loosely. There is no evidence that he made the great fortune he had looked forward to; but he must have made a great deal of money. In the beginning his work was very poorly paid, but after his reputation was solidly established he received large sums. It is true that they were swallowed up in great part by his "debts"—that dusky, vaguely outlined, insatiable maw which we see grimacing for ever behind him, like the face on a fountain which should find itself receiving a stream instead of giving it out. But he travelled (working all the while en route). He went to Italy, to Germany, to Russia; he built houses, he bought pictures and pottery. One of his journeys illustrates his singular mixture of economic and romantic impulses. He made a breathless pilgrimage to the island of Sardinia to examine the scoriæ of certain silver mines, anciently worked by the Romans, in which he had heard that the metal was still to be found. The enterprise was fantastic and impracticable; but he pushed his excursion through night and day, as he had written the "Père Goriot." In his relative prosperity, when once it was established, there are strange lapses and stumbling-places. After he had built and was living in his somewhat fantastical villa of Les Jardies at Sèvres, close to Paris, he invites a friend[Pg 192] to stay with him on these terms: "I can take you to board at forty sous a day, and for thirty-five francs you will have fire-wood enough for a month." In his joke he is apt to betray the same preoccupation. Inviting Charles de Bernard and his wife to come to Les Jardies to help him arrange his books, he adds that they will have fifty sous a day and their wine. He is constantly talking of his expenses, of what he spends in cab hire and postage. His letters to the Countess Hanska are filled with these details. "Yesterday I was running about all day: twenty-five francs for carriages!" The man of business is never absent. For the first representations of his plays he arranges his audiences with an eye to effect, like an impresario or an agent. In the boxes, for "Vautrin," "I insist upon there being handsome women." Presenting a copy of the "Comédie Humaine" to the Austrian ambassador, he accompanies it with a letter calling attention, in the most elaborate manner, to the typographical beauty and the cheapness of the work; the letter reads like a prospectus or an advertisement.

In 1840 (he was forty years old) he thought seriously of marriage—with this remark as the preface to the announcement: "Je ne veux plus avoir de cœur!... If you meet a young girl of twenty-two," he goes on, "with a fortune of 200,000 francs, or even of 100,000, provided it can be used in business, you will think of me. I want a woman who shall be able to be what the events of my life may demand of her—the wife of an ambassador, or a housewife at Les Jardies. But don't speak of this; it's a secret. She must be an ambitious, clever girl." This project, however, was not carried out; Balzac had no time to marry. But his friendship with Mme. Hanska became more and more absorbing, and though their project of marriage, which was executed in 1850, was kept a profound secret until after the ceremony, it is apparent that they had had it a long time in their thoughts.

For this lady Balzac's esteem and admiration seem to have been unbounded; and his letters to her, which in the second volume are very numerous, contain many noble and delicate passages. "You know too well," he says to her somewhere, with a happy choice of words belonging to the writer, whose diction was here and there as felicitous as it was generally intolerable—"Vous savez trop bien que tout ce qui n'est pas vous n'est que surface, sottise et vains palliatifs de l'absence." "You must be proud of your children," he writes to his sister from Poland; "such daughters are the recompense of your life. You must not be unjust to destiny; you may now accept many misfortunes. It is like myself with Mme. Hanska. The gift of her affection explains all my troubles, my weariness, and my toil; I was paying to evil, in advance, the price of such a treasure. As Napoleon said, we pay for everything here below; nothing is stolen. It seems to me that I have paid very little. Twenty-five years of toil and struggle are nothing as the purchase money of an attachment so splendid, so radiant, so complete."

Mme. Hanska appears to have come rarely to Paris, and when she came to have shrouded her visits in mystery; but Balzac arranged several meetings with her abroad, and visited her at St. Petersburg and on her Polish estates. He was devotedly fond of her children, and the tranquil, opulent family life to which she introduced him appears to have been one of the greatest pleasures he had known. In several passages which, for Balzac, may be called graceful and playful, he expresses his homesickness for her chairs and tables, her books, the sight of her dresses. Here is something, in one of his letters to her, which is worth quoting: "In short, this is the game that I play; four men will have had, in this century, an immense influence—Napoleon, Cuvier, O'Connell. I should like to be the fourth. The first lived on the blood[Pg 193] of Europe; il s'est inoculé des armées; the second espoused the globe; the third became the incarnation of a people; I—I shall have carried a whole society in my head. But there will have been in me a much greater and much happier being than the writer—and that is your slave. My feeling is finer, grander, more complete, than all the satisfactions of vanity or of glory. Without this plenitude of the heart I should never have accomplished the tenth part of my work; I should not have had this ferocious courage." During a few days spent at Berlin, on his way back from St. Petersburg, he gives his impressions of the "capital of Brandenburg" in a tone which almost seems to denote a prevision of the style of allusion to this locality and its inhabitants which was to become fashionable among his countrymen thirty years later. Balzac detested Prussia and the Prussians.

It is owing to this charlatanism [the spacious distribution of the streets, etc.] that Berlin has a more populous look than Petersburg; I would have said "more animated" look if I had been speaking of another people; but the Prussian, with his brutal heaviness, will never be able to do anything but crush. To produce the movement of a great European capital you must have less beer and bad tobacco, and more of the French or Italian spirit; or else you must have the great industrial and commercial ideas which have produced the gigantic development of London; but Berlin and its inhabitants will never be anything but an ugly little city, inhabited by an ugly big people.

"I have seen Tieck en famille," he says in another letter. "He seemed pleased with my homage. He had an old countess, his contemporary in spectacles, almost an octogenarian—a mummy with a green eye-shade, whom I supposed to be a domestic divinity.... I am at home again; it is half-past six in the evening, and I have eaten nothing since this morning. Berlin is the city of ennui; I should die here in a week. Poor Humboldt is dying of it; he drags with him everywhere his nostalgia for Paris."

Balzac passed the winter of 1848-'49 and several months more at Vierzschovnia, the Polish estate of Mme. Hanska and her children. His health had been gravely impaired, and the doctors had absolutely forbidden him to work. His inexhaustible and indefatigable brain had at last succumbed to fatigue. But the prize was gained; his debts were paid; he was looking forward to owning at last the money that he should make. He could afford—relatively speaking at least—to rest. His fame had been solidly built up; the public recognized his greatness. Already, in 1846, he had written: "You will learn with pleasure, I am sure, that there is an immense reaction in my favor. At last I have conquered! Once more my protecting star has watched over me.... At this moment the public and the papers turn toward me favorably; more than that, there is a sort of acclamation, a general consecration.... It is a great year for me, dear Countess."

To be ill and kept from work was, for Balzac, to be a chained Prometheus; but there was much during these last months to alleviate his impatience. His letters at this period are easier, less painfully preoccupied than at any other; and he found in Poland better medical advice than he deemed obtainable in Paris. He was preparing a house in Paris to receive him as a married man—preparing it apparently with great splendor. At Les Jardies the pictures and divans and tapestries had mostly been nominal—had been present only in grand names, chalked grotesquely upon the empty walls. But during the last years of his life Balzac appears to have been a great collector. He bought many pictures and other objects of value; in particular, there figures in these letters a certain set of Florentine furniture which he was willing to sell again, but to sell only to a royal purchaser. The King of Holland appears to have been in treaty for it. Readers of the "Comédie Humaine" have no need to be reminded of the author's passion for furniture; nowhere else are there such loving or such invidious descriptions of it. "Decidedly," he writes once to Mme. Hanska, "I will send[Pg 194] to Tours for the Louis XVI. secretary and bureau; the room will then be complete. It's a matter of a thousand francs; but for a thousand francs what can one get in modern furniture? Des platitudes bourgeoises, des misères sans valeur et sans goût."

Old Mme. de Balzac was her son's factotum and universal agent. His letters from Vierzschovnia are filled with prescriptions of activity for his mother, accompanied always with the urgent reminder that she is to use cabs ad libitum. He goes into the minutest details (she was overlooking the preparation of his house in the Rue Fortunée, which must have been converted into a very picturesque residence): "The carpet in the dining-room must certainly be readjusted. Try and make M. Henry send his carpet-layer. I owe that man a good pour-boire; he laid all the carpets, and I once was rough with him. You must tell him that in September he can come and get his present. I want particularly to give it to him myself."

His mother occasionally annoyed him by unreasonable exactions and untimely interferences. There is an episode of a letter which she writes to him at Vierzschovnia, and which, coming to Mme. Hanska's knowledge, endangers his prospect of marriage. He complains bitterly to his sister that his mother cannot get it out of her head that he is still fifteen years old. But there is something very touching in his constant tenderness toward her—as well as something very characteristically French—very characteristic of the French sentiment of family consistency and solidarity—in the way in which, by constantly counting upon her practical aptitude and zeal, he makes her a fellow worker toward the great total of his fame and fortune. At fifty years of age, at the climax of his distinction, announcing to her his brilliant marriage, he signs himself Ton fils soumis. To his old friend Mme. Carraud he speaks thus of this same event: "The dénouement of that great and beautiful drama of the heart which has lasted these sixteen years.... Three days ago I married the only woman I have loved, whom I loved more than ever, and whom I shall love until death. I believe that this union is the recompense that God has held in reserve for me through so many adversities, years of work, difficulties suffered and surmounted. I had neither a happy youth nor a flowering spring; I shall have the most brilliant summer, the sweetest of all autumns." It had been, as Balzac says, a drama of the heart, and the dénouement was of the heart alone. Mme. Hanska, on her marriage, made over her large fortune to her daughter.

Balzac had at last found rest and happiness, but his enjoyment of these blessings was brief. The energy that he had expended to gain them left nothing behind it. His terrible industry had blasted the soil it passed over; he had sacrificed to his work the very things he worked for. One cannot do what Balzac did and live. He was enfeebled, exhausted, broken. He died in Paris three months after his marriage. The reader feels that premature death is the logical, the harmonious completion of such a career. The strongest man has but a certain fixed quantity of life to expend, and we may expect that if he works habitually fifteen hours a day, he will spend it while, arithmetically speaking, he is yet young.

We have been struck in reading these letters with the strong analogy between Balzac's career and that of the great English writer whose history was some time since so expansively written by Mr. Forster. Dickens and Balzac take much in common; as individuals they strongly resemble each other; their differences are chiefly differences of race. Each was a man of affairs, an active, practical man, with a temperament of almost phenomenal vigor and a prodigious quantity of life to expend. Each had a character and a will—what is nowadays called a personality—which[Pg 195] imposed themselves irresistibly; each had a boundless self-confidence and a magnificent egotism. Each had always a hundred irons on the fire; each was resolutely determined to make money, and made it in large quantities. In intensity of imaginative power, the power of evoking visible objects and figures, seeing them themselves with the force of hallucination, and making others see them all but just as vividly, they were almost equal. Here there is little to choose between them; they have had no rivals but each other and Shakespeare. But they most of all resemble each other in the fact that they treated their extraordinary imaginative force as a matter of business; that they worked it as a gold mine, violently and brutally; overworked and ravaged it. They succumbed to the task that they had laid upon themselves, and they are as similar in their deaths as in their lives. Of course, if Dickens is an English Balzac, he is a very English Balzac. His fortune was the easier of the two, and his prizes were greater than the other's. His brilliant opulent English prosperity, centred in a home and diffused through a progeny, is in strong contrast with the almost scholastic penury and obscurity of much of Balzac's career. But the analogy is still very striking.

In speaking formerly of Balzac in these pages we insisted upon the fact that he lacked charm; but we said that our last word upon him should be that he had incomparable power. His letters only confirm these impressions, and above all they deepen our sense of his strength. They contain little that is delicate, and not a great deal that is positively agreeable; but they express an energy before which we stand lost in wonder, in an admiration that almost amounts to awe. The fact that his devouring observation of the great human spectacle has no echo in his letters only makes us feel how concentrated and how intense was the labor that went on in his closet. Certainly no solider intellectual work has ever been achieved by man. And in spite of the massive egotism, the personal absoluteness, to which these pages testify, they leave us with a downright kindness for the author. He was coarse, but he was tender; he was corrupt in a way, but he was hugely natural. If he was ungracefully eager and voracious, awkwardly blind to all things that did not contribute to his personal plan, at least his egotism was exerted in a great cause. The "Comédie Humaine" has a thousand faults, but it is a monumental excuse.

Henry James, Jr.


[1] Paris: Calmann Lévy. 1876.

[2] December, 1875.


Bring withered autumn leaves!
Call everything that grieves,
And build a funeral pyre above his head!
Heap there all golden promise that deceives,
Beauty that wins the heart and then bereaves—
For love is dead.
Not slowly did he die!
A meteor from the sky
Falls not so swiftly as his spirit fled;
When with regretful, half-averted eye
He gave one little smile, one little sigh—
And so was sped.
But, oh, not yet, not yet
Can my lost soul forget
How beautiful he was while he did live;
Or, when his eyes were dewy and lips wet,
What kisses, tenderer than all regret,
My love would give!
Strew roses on his breast!
He loved the roses best;
He never cared for lilies or for snow.
Let be this bitter end of his sweet quest!
Let be the pallid silence that is rest—
And let all go!
William Winter.

[Pg 196]


When Smith's Circus and Menagerie Combination Company went to Utica James Rounders was a lusty fellow of twenty, of some natural sagacity, and no school education. An interest in wild beasts had been developing in him for several years, and the odor of sawdust had become grateful to his nostrils. It was, however, only one kind of wild beast with which he was especially occupied. The quadruped of the noble aspect, stately gait, and tremendous roar—the lion—was the animal of Rounders's predilection and the object of his study.

He had gotten together some leading facts—so far as the stories of lion-killers may be regarded as such—concerning his favorite animal. He had heard how a lion had galloped off from the suburbs of the Cape of Good Hope with a two years' old heifer in his mouth, and jumped over a hedge twelve feet high, taking his burden over with him. In the same region of southern Africa another lion was seen bearing off a horse at a canter, the neck in his mouth and the body slung behind across his back. According to one who hunted the animal in the interior of Africa, a lion one day sprang on an ox, his hind feet on the quarters, his fore feet about the horns, and drew the head backward with such force as to break the back of the animal. On another occasion the same hunter saw a lion who took a heifer in his mouth, and though its legs trailed on the ground, he carried it off as a cat would a rat, and jumped across a wide ditch without difficulty. These accounts of the lion's strength were articles of faith with James Rounders. He had been told that the royal Bengal tiger of Asia was the equal in strength, if not the superior, of the African lion, he having been known to smash the head of a bullock by a single blow of his paw; but this Rounders did not believe.

He read with some difficulty, moving his lips as he did so, in order to get the matter clearly before his mind. He regarded it as a laborious task, and would sooner have chopped a cord of wood than read for half an hour. Notwithstanding the irksomeness of reading, there were two books which led him conscientiously through their pages to the end—those of Gordon Cumming and Jules Gérard on the hunting and killing of lions. The two volumes comprised his library, and furnished his mind with all the literary nutriment which it required.

Rounders went to the opening performance of Smith's Circus and Menagerie Combination Company. The ground leading up to the front of the canvas was garnished in the usual way. There were two small parasitic tents near the great one, on which primitive pictures hung of the woman of enormous girth and the calf with six legs. A man stood at the flap entrance of each, inviting people to enter and see these wonders of nature for a moderate sum. Near by was the lemonade wagon, whose proprietor was handing out glasses of his fluid with a briskness that showed that many were athirst.

When he entered the great tent the brass band was blowing blatantly, four cavaliers in rusty spangles and four dowdy women were riding round the ring, going through the old-time preliminary called the grand entry; for whatever else may change, the circus remains faithful to its traditions. The Yorick of the sawdust soon followed, and said the things which convulsed us with laughter in our tender years, and which cause us to smile in our maturity in the recollections they bring back. It was the same bold joke and the same grimace. The[Pg 197] quips and quirks force on us the fact that there is but little originality in the human mind, and this was substantially the reflection of Rounders as he turned an indifferent ear to the wearisome wit. He prided himself on his acumen, and was not to be taken in with such worn buffoonery. Yet I trow that even Rounders envied the children who gave themselves over body and soul to the accredited man of humor.

He looked at the woman going through the hoops, the trick pony seeking for the hidden handkerchief, and the bareback rider turning a summerset, with a mild interest, for he had seen them or something like them before. The strong man who threw up the cannon balls into the air, and allowed them to fall on his nape, to roll down the hollow of his back to the ground, hardly aroused this indifferent spectator. What he looked forward to with curiosity was the performance of the lion-tamer, and when it did come it exceeded his expectations.

The master of the ring, attired in what resembled the uniform of an officer of the navy, stepped into the middle of the arena, and with the affectation of good breeding characteristic of the class, said, "Ladies and gentlemen: I have the honor to announce that John Brinton, the most extraordinary and celebrated tamer of lions in the world, will appear before you in his remarkable performance, during which every one is requested to keep his seat. Your attention is especially directed to the third part of it, as one of the marvels of the nineteenth century.

"To-morrow there will be a matinée at one o'clock, and in the evening the performance at the usual hour."

The speaker bowed and retired. The band struck up "See, the Conquering Hero Comes," as the Brinton in question came forward with that dash which belongs to lion-tamers everywhere. He was an athletic man between forty and fifty, of a stern countenance, and of a self-possession that was evident as soon as he appeared. He was arrayed in flesh-colored tights, with embroidered sky-blue velvet around the loins. He bore in one hand a black rod, five or six feet long, and in the other a whip. His hair was short, and he was cleanly shaved. Men who put their heads between lions' jaws generally are, for the titillation of a straggling hair might produce a cough that would prove tragical. He was quick and decided in all his movements, as the lion-tamer should be, in order to leave the beast no time to work itself up to a decision.

The cage which he entered contained two lions. One was large, grumbling, and fierce, who had passed a part of his life in the wilds of Africa; the other, and smaller of the two, was an emasculated beast, born behind the bars, and was as tractable as the animal usually is that has never known freedom. The performance consisted of three parts. The first was of the kind common to menageries. The tamer entered by the little door in a corner, with the celerity which all tamers employ, and stood for a moment in the statuesque immobility to which they are also given, in coming before the public. Having done this, he started forward with the black rod in his left hand, approached the animals, driving them to the end of the cage, the end of the rod nearly touching their faces. Here they stood under protest, growling. Then he raised his whip, struck the smaller beast, making it run from one end of the cage to the other, and leap over his shoulder in a way familiar to people who have visited a menagerie. He threw it down, put his foot on its prostrate body, and folded his arms in the character of victor. He lay down on it, pulled open its jaws, and inserted his head therein. Then he jumped up and dismissed it, with a cut of the whip, to one corner. During this time the larger lion had been an indifferent and surly spectator. The tamer approached, touching him with the rod,[Pg 198] when he jumped forward with a growl, half crouching. Quickly the tamer caught hold of his upper jaw and tore it open, as great, rebellious cog-wheel growls issued from the mighty throat. Then he spurned him with his foot, bowed to the audience, went to the door, let himself out like a flash, the two animals making a bound against it as he disappeared.

"A, B, C," said Rounders. "Nothing new about that."

During the interim venders went about holding up photographic portraits of the tamer, lustily shouting his professional and private virtues. Their voices were, however, soon drowned in the clash of the brass band, which played a prelude to what was coming. At the conclusion of this a lone and last voice cried out, "Ice-cold lemonade," but it was promptly suppressed by those near the crier, as Brinton again appeared.

The second part was a short drama enacted with the larger animal, whose name was Brutus, the smaller one being driven into an adjoining cage. In the drama Brutus was the faithful friend of his master, the tamer, who is attacked by his enemies—a dozen supernumeraries in rusty spangles, who simultaneously thrust their spears through the bars from the outside of one end of the cage; when the spears are thus thrust through the bars, the master calls on his faithful servant Brutus to save his master's life, and rid him of his enemies, giving the command in the words:

"To the rescue, Brutus! Down with the miscreants!"

This was the "situation." Brutus advances at the word of command, and with a few blows from his great paws breaks the brittle spears which the somewhat flasque enemies hold from without. At this the tamer strikes an attitude, and shouts in a melodramatic voice:

"Saved! And by this noble animal!"

These words are accompanied with the action of putting an arm affectionately around the neck of Brutus. This is the dénouement.

He bows and retires as before, this time amid increased applause.

"Not bad," said the critical Rounders, "but nothing extra."

As Brinton disappeared the voices of the venders arose again, to be drowned as before by the blare of the wind instruments. Silence was restored for his next appearance. It was the third part which Rounders desired especially to see, and a surprise was reserved for him. In it the tamer entered the cage with a great piece of raw meat in each hand, Brutus being still alone, standing in the middle of the cage, eagerly looking out for his master. Brinton threw one of the pieces down in the middle of the floor, and the beast pounced on it as only a wild beast can, holding it between his paws as he gluttonously devoured it—not with a lateral movement of the jaws, but cat-like—amid half stifled, threatening growls, with menacing eyes turned from time to time toward the tamer. What the tamer then did was the most extraordinary performance which Rounders had ever seen, and sent thrills of admiration down his spinal column.

Brinton calmly approached the ferocious animal feeding, and took away from it the half finished piece of meat, and as he did so the beast growled, but submitted! After which he waved the half consumed beef in the air and bowed, amid great applause, in which Rounders heartily joined. Then the tamer said:

"Brutus, you have behaved so well I shall reward you with another piece."

Which he did, the beast seizing it and gorging himself as before. At this point the master of the ring stepped forth again as the tamer disappeared, and said:

"Ladies and gentlemen, when you recollect how difficult it is to take a bone away from even a pet dog, it will give you some idea of the marvellous performance you have just witnessed.[Pg 199] It will be repeated to-morrow during the day and evening."

"This is a real show," said Rounders, wound up to enthusiasm. "But how does he do it?" This was the question which at once presented itself, and thereafter gave him no peace. With this perplexing inquiry was mingled a deep and abiding admiration. He was brought to a determination to which he had been moving for two or three years. In a word, he decided then and there to enter the vocation. He sought the man who had sent the tingling, shivering sensation down his vertebræ, and explained that he wanted to go with him on any terms and in any capacity.

Brinton had taken off his professional gear, and was undistinguishable from the sombre mass of his fellow citizens. He was out on the open space near the great tent, looking abstractedly at a man blowing with distended cheeks into a lung-testing machine. Rounders stood before him with the respect due to a man who snatches meat away from a ferocious lion.

After going through his work with the beasts, Brinton was usually tired and somewhat indifferent to the ordinary affairs of life. Other things seemed pale after the emotions of the cage. When Rounders explained to him what he wanted, the tamer said:

"You've got it."

"Got what?"

"The lion fever. You are lion struck. I've seen a good many like you. Its an uphill business. Not one keeper in fifty gets the handling of the brutes, and still the only way of going about it is to be a keeper. Besides handling them, you must have a specialty—a trick, you know. You've got to get up one yourself or worm it out of somebody else. As for the lion man telling anybody—that is something I haven't yet met with. You may take his life, but he won't give up his trick; it's his pride, his pleasure, and his bread and butter."

"I want to be a keeper all the same," returned Rounders.

"Come on then," said Brinton; "for we want a keeper, as we left one at the last town. He was a young man who had been reading in natural history about the noble nature of the lion, and he put his hand in between the bars to pat Brutus on the head. The surgeon examined him, and said his arm was fractured in several places—it was a regular chaw. We left him in the hospital. I tell you this as a warning not to go fooling round the beasts—that is, if you're coming."

The fate of the young man of a too trusting faith in the noble nature of the lion did not turn Rounders from his determination, and the next morning he was a part of the establishment.

At first the tongue of the tamer was pretty closely tied touching matters of his profession, but in due time he expanded into talk when he saw the genuine enthusiasm of the keeper for all that related to the subject, yet naturally practised strict reserve in everything concerning his particular work. In a word, professional secrets remained entombed.

He thought men were born to his vocation, and there was no resisting it. He had followed shows and hung around lion cages when he was a boy. Toward manhood the business had exercised such a fascination that he at last obtained employment with a tamer, whom he followed until he was killed by his beasts. This sanguinary spectacle deterred him for the time from the idea of entering a cage, but he continued his work.

There were two kinds of lions in the menageries—those born and raised in the cages and those caught as whelps wild in Asia and Africa. A few full grown were caught in pits. The first time he entered a cage was in a small show in a provincial town. The two lions whom he then encountered were old and sick, and bore the scars of twenty years' whipping on their bald hides; besides, they were born and brought up behind the bars. They growled from force of habit, but there was not much danger in them. The[Pg 200] posters of course announced the two brutes as two of the most ferocious kings of the forest.

From these he passed to cage-bred lions in their prime, thence to the wild animals, of which Brutus was one. Until the tamer was able to work with these last, he was not considered as belonging to the rank of real tamers. The sensation he experienced the first time he entered the cage of wild animals was difficult to describe; it was an appreciation of imminent danger coupled with courage. When he issued from the cage his tights and spangled cloth felt as if they had just come out of the wash tub. He was steeled up to the point of bravery before the brutes, but ten minutes afterward a child could have knocked him over.

The principal secret of managing the brutes was not to be afraid of them. When the man showed fear he was lost. The mastery was not acquired so much through violence of treatment as an absolute sense of security in their presence. Audacity and self-possession were necessary every minute, every second; a moment's loss of equilibrium might prove fatal.

The buttery mode of treatment about which bookmen wrote had no existence in fact among showmen. No man managed his beasts with kindness. When his Brutus licked his face in his performance it looked affectionate, but it was not; he did it because he was afraid; and when the animal went through this osculatory business he was obliged to keep his eye on him with all the concentration of his will, for there was something in the beast's eyes which showed that he would sooner use his teeth than his tongue.

There was an impression that a lion once tamed is tamed for good, as a horse is broken to harness. This was an error; the lion had to be tamed every day anew in order to keep him in subjection.

Rounders asked him if he meant to say that all lions were vicious. To which he answered negatively. There were good lions and bad lions, just as there were good and bad men. The bad beasts, however, were more numerous than the others, for it was their nature to kill to provide for their hunger. The book talk about their generosity was not trustworthy; the instinct of the beast was to kill when it was hungry, but when its stomach was full it was less dangerous. He had seen the beast in its wild state, having hunted him in Africa. He had captured Brutus there when the animal was two years old; he was then ten, but always retained something of his wild nature. He was secured in a pit with his mother, the mother being shot.

In another menagerie with which he had been connected his principal performance was "the happy family," in which he brought together in the same cage two lions, several wolves, a couple of bears, a sheep, a small elephant with a monkey on his back. The crowning feature of this was the introduction of the sheep's head into the lion's mouth, which he held open by the upper lip with a strong grip. The sovereignty of the lions was acknowledged by the other animals, who looked at them with fear, getting as far away from them as the cage would permit. He had to pull each one into the cage by force. He compelled a bear to stand with his nose in close proximity to that of a lion; he called this the kiss of friendship; the bear had to be kicked and pushed into position, looking at the lion with terror; the lion did not deign to look at the bear, but kept his eye fixed on his master, whom of course he obeyed under protest. When the sheep was brought forward, and its head was put between the lion's jaws, it was almost in a swooning condition, and excited general pity. He had to get a new sheep every month, the daily fear causing them soon to decline unto death.

The foregoing, in substance, was a portion of the talk with which Brinton gratified himself as well as his listener, the appreciative Rounders.[Pg 201]

The trick of pulling away the meat from under the jaws of Brutus was technically known under the canvas as the "meat-jerk." It continued to remain uppermost in the mind of the new keeper.

The nomadic life had pleasures for Rounders, aside from the fascination of the "meat-jerk." He drove a gayly colored wagon in the caravan, as it moved through the country. At night, like the Arabs, they folded their tents and stole away, and at dawn they were on the march. Perched on his seat, Rounders's eyes dwelt on the landscape with its purple tints of the morning, and his nostrils sniffed the sweet odors of Nature while she was still in déshabille. Silently, like a variegated serpent, the caravan crept around the hills and through the valleys. The musicians, clad in gold and scarlet, rode through the country in their magnificent chariot, and gave out no sound, their breath being reserved for the towns and villages. The vestal silence remained unbroken by the stridulous clarinet and the blatant trombones.

Every man has a weakness, and Brinton had his. He was in tender thraldom. He loved the woman that jumped through the hoops and balloons on a padded horse. Whenever her eyes turned on him they sent a thrill through him more exciting than that produced by Brutus. He generally stood near the ring-board when she appeared in public, and envied the ringmaster the agreeable duty of assisting her to mount. Admiringly he watched her shapely legs going through the hoops and over the garters, as her eyes sparkled and her face flushed with the excitement, but there was no indication of his love being returned.

When Rounders discovered this tenderness in the heart of the tamer, he thought of Samson and Delilah, and wondered if something of the kind could not be done with natural comeliness instead of a pair of scissors. Guided by instinct, Rounders, who was a shrewd fellow, as has already been said, made his court to Mlle. La Sauteuse, known in private life as Sally Stubbs. There were conventional barriers between a keeper and a rider, but Rounders by tact and good looks got over them, and whispered sweet nonsense in the porches of Miss Stubbs's willing ear.

One evening, after the performance, as the moon shone athwart the great tent, and the brass band was hushed, Sally Stubbs stood against a background of canvas, bathed in the sheen from on high. Quiet reigned in the tents of the elephantine woman and the calf with six legs. The lung-tester had folded up his machine and departed. The sound of "ice-cold lemonade" had died in the general stillness. Mlle. La Sauteuse leaned over lovingly to the new keeper, and asked in a low, sympathetic voice,

"What can I do for you, Jim Rounders?"

"Find out the 'meat-jerk,'" was the swift response.

"Alas," said the fair Stubbs, "when you've been as long in the tent as I've been, you'll know that that is impossible. You might as well ask me for a slice of the moon that is now lookin' down on this here peaceful scene atween you and me."

"You've heard the Sunday school story about Samson and Delilah?" pursued Rounders.

"What's that got to do with John Brinton's secret?"

"What's been done can be done again. Delilah wormed it out of Samson: why can't Sally Stubbs worm it out of Brinton?"

"Cut off his hair, as the Bible woman did?"

"That's too thin," said Rounders rashly, without fear of theological dogma. "That's allygory. They call it hair-cuttin', and when they call it that, its hairsplittin'. Take my word for it, Sally Stubbs, that when she got the secret out of that hefty, long-haired man, she did it with her pretty ways and good looks."[Pg 202]

Still, Miss Stubbs affirmed that such a project as Rounders entertained was impossible; and it was true. In his weakest, or most sentimental hours, Brinton knew how to withstand even the blandishments of the charming Stubbs when she approached professional topics. Under her smile he opened up like a morning-glory kissed by Aurora; but when she tried to penetrate into the mystery of his great lion act, he closed up like the same flower when it encounters the sun. He had a well-ordered mind divided into compartments—business was one thing and love was another.

Meanwhile the keeper kept his eye on every movement of Brinton. He was his shadow. When he was not occupied with the master, he was looking after the animals. Reciprocity of kindness is a principle of nature which Rounders had observed, and in which he had some faith, notwithstanding the pessimist views of Brinton. He began by familiarizing Brutus with the sight of his face, person, and voice. He spoke to the animal in the most sympathetic accent of which he was capable. He hung round his cage as long and as often as his duties would permit. He reached the point of cajolery, and assumed friendship, as:

"Well, Brutus, how are you, old boy? How did you like the last feed? I'm afraid this travellin' round in confinement, on wheels, is injurin' your complexion. Of course you would like to be footin' it like the rest of us. I reckon it would be better for you, but it might be bad for some of us two-legged fellows. Eh, bully boy?"

This jocularity was in strange contrast to the sombre indifference with which the king of the forest looked down on the speaker. Rounders infringed on the rules laid down by Brinton in giving bits of meat to the beast whenever an opportunity presented itself; but notwithstanding these offerings, the two sombre eyes continued to regard him with an unchanged expression. One day, to arouse him from his condition of indifference or latent kindness, Rounders introduced a stick under the bars to poke him up in a friendly way, touching him on his extended paws. The beast struck quickly, and almost caught his hand. As it was, one of his fingers was bruised by the blow. Brinton, unperceived by Rounders, had been standing behind him noting the incident.

"Rounders," said Brinton, "you're lucky. About two months ago a fellow did the same thing as you've been doing, but he did not come out as well as you."

"What befell him?" asked Rounders.

"Brutus caught his hand under the bars, pulled in his arm, reached out his other paw in an affectionate embrace around the man's neck, pressed him against the bars, and mashed him. When I came up it was too late. He dropped on the sawdust and never got up again."

In noting their habits, Rounders observed that they were more afraid of the short pole which Brinton carried into the cage than they were of the whip. Brinton called this bit of dark wood his magic wand, which in a measure justified its name, for as soon as he touched them with it, they gave way and drew back to the end of the cage. He usually carried it with him into a little tent-chamber, which was rigged up near the lion's cage. One night, after issuing from the cage, he forgot to take the magic wand with him, leaving it lying on the sawdust, alongside of one of the wheels which carried the beasts. Jim Rounders picked it up with curiosity, and found it very heavy. In a word, it was iron. He drew his hand caressingly from one end of it to the other, as he thought of the effects which it produced when it came in contact with the lions' noses. As his hand softly reached down to the other end, he drew it back as if bitten by a viper, with an exclamation that would not have met with favor in the Young Men's Christian Association.[Pg 203] The end was hot. He carried the rod into the little tent-chamber, and left it there. It was now made clear to him why the animals showed such an aversion to the end of the magic wand.

The wife of Brutus was a lioness called Cleopatra, generally kept in another cage. In the order of nature she was at times more affectionate to her husband than at others, and during such periods Brutus became irritable, and difficult to manage. It was hard to keep him down, even with the hot iron. As they wended their way from village to village, and town to town, over the old-fashioned turnpikes, Brutus entered one of the irritable phases of his life, during which, it is hardly necessary to say, the vigilant eye of Rounders was nearly always on the tamer in his management of the brute. One night, through a chink of the little tent-chamber, he saw Brinton standing irresolute, although behind his time for entering the cage; the beads of sweat stood on his forehead, and he held his heated iron in his hand; then he roused himself to decision, spat on the heated end of the magic wand, which hissed, and strode quickly to the cage.

This was a revelation to Rounders. It was apparent that even Brinton, plucky as he was, had his moments of apprehension and demoralization, from which he concluded that the danger must be real. Rounders, as usual taking a deep interest, followed him to the cage and took his station near the front of it. Brinton's first action as soon as he got into the cage was to run at the nose of Brutus with his hot iron and drive him back to one end. Rounders fancied he could almost hear the frizzle of the flesh. He went through the first part of the performance with the cage-bred lion, whipping him and making him jump over his shoulders in the usual way, but he omitted that part where he tore open the jaws of Brutus, and made him lick his face.

The dramatic event took place in the second part. Brinton in his preoccupation of that night left the magic wand reposing against the wheel near the door of the cage as he entered it, to play the drama. Brutus, rebellious and gloomy, went through his part until the scene where the spears are thrust through the bars arrived. His master gave the word of command:

"To the rescue, Brutus! Down with the miscreants!" at the same time pointing as usual to the spears with the enemies behind them. Brutus, who was at the opposite end of the cage—the tamer in the centre—did not move. Brinton gave the command a second time, stamping with his foot to enforce it. The eyes of the lion did not turn in the direction of the spears, as they heretofore did when the animal was ordered to the rescue, but settled in a sombre manner on Brinton, whom the beast began gradually to approach. At this moment Rounders, who was narrowly watching the proceeding, observed a momentary quailing of the eye in the tamer; still he called up his fierce expression again, and gave the order for the third time to the gradually advancing brute, whose eyes were steadily fixed on him. The heart of Rounders beat quick; he held his breath. The theory then flashed through his mind about the steady human eye being able to hold the lion in subjection or deter him from attacking, and he scanned the eyes of Brinton. They were both fixed on the beast, but there was no sign of the beast's quailing. Brinton cursed and shouted at the brute, the motive of which Rounders quickly understood, another theory being that the lion is sometimes prevented from attacking in this way. This noise seemed rather to contribute to the ire of the beast; besides it was presently drowned in his mighty roar. The culminating point of anger was reached, the mane stood out on end, and the lashing tail stiffened into a straight line, as the animal made a bound toward Brinton, who still bore himself as if he were complete master.[Pg 204] Brinton fell. Quick as a flash, Rounders seized the magic wand, burst open the little door, and made a lunge at the brute on top of the fallen man. The men with the spears attacked him from behind, and as the animal turned for a moment to face them, Rounders took advantage of it to clutch Brinton, drag him to the door, and out of the cage.

At this the applause was deafening. It was the first night in this community, and the spectators thought it was in the play. The heart of Rounders turned sick as he heard the admiring shouts. He pulled Brinton into the little tent-chamber; thence he smuggled him into a room in an adjoining hotel.

The beast had ripped the flesh from the bone nearly the length of his leg, as the surgeon ascertained, who was secretly called in. Fortunately no bones were broken. Five minutes after the event of the cage, the manager of the concern came before the audience and stated that the celebrated lion-tamer, John Brinton, who had been engaged at a fabulous sum, and had performed before all the crowned heads of Europe, was taken with a sudden indisposition to which he was sometimes subject, and would be obliged to deny himself the pleasure of appearing again that evening. Then he added some remark about the noble beast of the forest, who probably regretted the non-appearance of its master—whom he positively loved, as much as the people before him.

After the show was over that night, the manager asked the doctor how long the wounded tamer would keep his bed, to which answer was made that it would be several weeks. The manager did not know what was to be done. Then, turning to Rounders, he said,

"There's good stuff in you. Brinton owes you his life. Don't you think you might go into Pompey until Brinton gets on his legs?" (Pompey being the old emasculated lion who appeared to the public in the same cage with Brutus). To which question Rounders, picking up heart of grace, said he thought he might.

"I mean," added the manager, "of course, in keeping Brutus out of the cage, and confining your handling to Pompey, who is not a bad-natured animal. Have you got the courage to go into him?"

Rounders said he had.

"I don't want any foolhardiness," continued the manager. "If you can manage to make Pompey run around the cage a little, that will do until Brinton recovers."

A few minutes afterward Rounders was in the room of the wounded tamer, to whom he said:

"I'm going in to do the business with Pompey, until you get well."

The expression of languid suffering left the face of Brinton, as he asked, "What are you going to do with him?"

"Do what you did with him—or try to."

"Perhaps you may do it, Rounders."

"If I knew the 'meat jerk,' I don't know but I might try that on him."

"Look here, Rounders," said the reclining man, "I have a word to say to you. You tried to get Sally Stubbs away from me; for that I didn't like you. But what you have done to-night wipes that out, and puts something to the credit side of your account. This being the case, let me give you this advice: Don't try the 'meat-jerk,' and when you go into Pompey, go at him before he has time to think."

Brinton was left in the town where he met with his mishap, under charge of the doctor, and the train moved on to the next village, where Rounders was to make his first appearance as a performer. He had faith in hot iron, and as soon as he got inside of the cage door he went to Pompey with the magic wand. The animal stood a moment and lashed his tail, when Rounders quickly frizzled his nose before he had time for reflection; then he gave way, retreating to one end. Here Rounders strode toward him with his whip and[Pg 205] gave him a cut, returned to the middle of the cage, and stamped his foot as he had seen Brinton do. The animal hesitated. Rounders stamped his foot again and raised his whip; then Pompey jumped over his shoulder and up and down the ends of the car in the traditional fashion. The new tamer pulled open his jaws, lay down between his paws, and stood over him with a foot on his neck in sign of victory. After which he bowed and retired. This was the whole performance as far as the lions were concerned, the others—Cleopatra and Brutus—being simply exhibited.

"Not bad for a beginner," said the manager when he came out of the cage. Miss Stubbs, who was standing by in short cloud-like skirts and flesh-colored tights, said something more handsome, being in closer sympathy with Rounders than the manager.

For two or three weeks Rounders continued to go through a performance like the initiatory one, but at the end of that time his ambition moved him to do something more. Pompey was tractable, and he determined to attempt the "meat-jerk." He had not forgotten the advice of Brinton, but he thought it was given through jealousy. He communicated his determination to the manager, who told him if he thought he could do it, to go ahead, for the managerial mind was absorbed with the idea of additional attraction. He also informed Miss Stubbs of his project, who exhibited more solicitude, and her first impulse was to dissuade the ambitious Rounders from the undertaking. Under such circumstances men are not inclined to heed the words of women, and in this instance Rounders did not. His principal aim in making the communication was to elicit information. She knew Brinton perhaps better than any one else in the company. Couldn't she give him some "points"? Alas! she had no "points" to give, for, however expansive Brinton may have been under Cupid's influence, he was as close as an oyster in what related to his profession, as has already been said. There was but one course left for Rounders to pursue, which was to play a close imitation of Brinton.

The night of the representation came. The first part of the lion performance passed off, and the second was at hand. The sweat stood on the forehead of Rounders in drops as it had on that of Brinton when Rounders saw him on the night of his irresolution. He issued from the little tent-chamber, with a piece of meat in each hand, as he had seen Brinton do. Miss Stubbs stood at the door of the cage in her professional costume, with the magic wand in her hand.

"Jim Rounders," said she solemnly, "keep cool. If you lose your presence of mind, you're gone."

"All right, Sally Stubbs," said he reassuringly as he opened the door and went in with the two pieces of meat. The hungry animal jumped to his feet and switched his tail. He smelt the meat. Rounders threw him a piece, which he seized with the voracity common to lions, and began to eat, growling between each bite. Rounders eyed the menacing beast for a few moments, as it fed, then approached and put out his hand, at which there was a louder and more threatening growl. It was the growl of warning. A low feminine voice reached Rounders's ear from the cage door, which said,

"Jim Rounders, don't do it." But Rounders was not a man to renounce a project when it was once lodged in his head; and he boldly reached down to take hold of the meat on which Pompey was feeding. A gurgling growl, rising to a high key, was the response, and a spring. Rounders was down and the beast on top of him. At that moment the cage door flew open. Sally Stubbs ran with the magic wand against the beast and stuck it into his mouth, and as it went in, the act sounded like putting a steak on the fire. She caught the prostrate man by the arm, and drew him behind her with her free hand, and thus holding him,[Pg 206] she dragged him backing toward the door, holding out her rod in front to prevent a renewal of the attack. The two got out safe together. On examination it was found that Rounders had sustained no other injury than some severe bruises.

"No more of that, Rounders," said the manager. "I don't want the prospects of my show ruined by a tragedy. You have had a narrow escape. Let it be a lesson to you not to undertake a thing you don't understand."

Rounders's first act after the rescue was to kiss Miss Stubbs on both cheeks, saying as he did so,

"Sally Stubbs, you are the only one of the kind."

"Mister Rounders," said she, pertly pushing him back, "none of them liberties with me. I may be foolish enough to go into a cage after you, but I'm not foolish enough to suffer them things."

After that there was no performance with the lions for over a week, during which Rounders was despondent. He was still occupied with the extraordinary feat of removing meat from under the jaws of a feeding lion. It pursued him night and day, and he told Miss Stubbs that he would never be happy until he found out the secret.

At length Brinton overtook the company, having come by railway. He was completely restored, and as anxious to begin again as the manager to have him do so. He was informed of the accident which had befallen him who had attempted to walk in his traces. He turned to Rounders saying,

"Now I suppose you'll own that I wanted to do you a good turn."

"I acknowledge it—I was presumptuous and wanted tapping," answered Rounders with proper humility.

"As I told you before," continued Brinton, "I owe you something. Sit down here and let me talk to you."

Brinton picked up a piece of shingle, took out his knife, and whittled as the two sat down together.

"You want to learn the business, but you begin at the wrong end. You don't know much about lion nature, and you want to do the high art in the profession on sight. A man must creep before he can walk. Now, you tried to begin by walking, and you know what came of it."

This was a specimen of a bit of the talk given for the benefit and guidance of the lion-tamer en herbe, and by the time Brinton got through with his advice, his words had a salutary effect, at least for the time being.

There was a smouldering gleam of vengeance in the eye of Brinton when he entered the cage for the first time after his accident, which brightened almost into a flame as he bore down on Brutus with the hot rod. He persistently thrust it at him; the great cog-wheel growls issued from his throat, and he tried to break down the rod with his paw; then he ingloriously fled around the cage as Brinton chased him with his whip. This was accompanied with curses low but intense, which would have shocked the Christian spectators of the assembly had they heard them.

In playing the drama, Brinton took the precaution to have put in the centre of the cage, as part of the decorations, a stump of a tree, which was hollow, and contained a navy revolver and a bowie-knife. When he gave the command to Brutus to leap forward against the spears, Brinton stood alongside of the stump with one hand inside of it, his forefinger playing with the trigger of the revolver. The apprehension of a recurrence of the critical scene which has been narrated was however groundless. Brutus dutifully leaped forward and smashed the brittle spears, without hesitation, and calmly suffered himself to be embraced as a "noble beast" afterward.

The "meat-jerk" was given with the success which usually characterized it in the hands of Brinton, the applause being enthusiastic.

"And yet," said Rounders to Miss Stubbs, as they both stood looking at the performance, "he does it just as I tried to do it. How easy and natural! As he says, it's high art."[Pg 207]

"I don't think it's anything to be compared to standin' on my cream-colored horse and jumping through the balloons."

"Ah, Sally Stubbs, we can't see these things with the same eyes," said Rounders, with a sigh.

Miss Stubbs noted that sigh as she had the other sighs to which Rounders gave himself over ever since his failure. She was persuaded that the man was incorrigible, unless that particular mystery was unfolded to him.

One day, as the caravan wound the shoulder of a steep hill, the horses drawing the wagon containing Brutus shied at some object in the woods, which precipitated horses and wagon down an embankment of twelve or fifteen feet. The outside woodwork broke in several places, and the shock knocked the door of the cage open. The driver jumped up unhurt, but consternation was depicted on his face when his eyes turned toward the cage. Brutus was standing on the ground lashing his sides with anger at the bruises which he had received from the fall. Word went along the caravan that the lion was out; all the vehicles stopped, and several of the company's people ran to the brow of the embankment and looked down on the scene of the catastrophe and the infuriated lion. Brinton, who was riding in a buggy a short distance ahead of the wagon of Brutus, jumped out and ran back to the spot where the disaster had just taken place. He held in his hand an ordinary whip used in driving a buggy. With this he approached the angry animal, the people falling back. When he got near him he raised his whip menacingly. The brute made the quick bound for which he is known, and struck him down, his claws sinking deep into vital parts. He called out the name of Brutus with a groan. At this juncture the animal discovered that it was his master, as he quickly snuffed his prostrate person. That day Brinton had put on a new suit of clothes, and when he ran toward the animal it was evident he had not recognized him. Brinton lay unconscious on the ground, the animal not making any further attack after his discovery of the identity. The brute did not betray any sorrow at what he had done, nor did he give any proof of affection. He simply became indifferent, and while he was in this state, Rounders enticed him into another cage by the display of a piece of meat, and as soon as he got him in, he jumped out and locked the door.

The wounded man was picked up and conveyed to a neighboring farmhouse, Rounders being one of those who carried him. In proceeding to the house he revived, and when they reached it, they carefully placed him on a couch. The nearest physician was sent for, he living two or three miles away. Making an effort to control the manifestation of suffering, Brinton requested all to leave the room except Rounders. His request was complied with. He asked Rounders to sit down alongside of him, as he could not speak loud, and he wanted to reserve his strength.

"Jim Rounders," said he with a softened expression of the eyes, "I have something to say to you, and I want to say it before it is too late. There was no use sending for the doctor—I won't be here long."

At this Rounders offered a consolatory word to inspire hope, but Brinton understood with what intent it was uttered and took no notice of it.

"Jim Rounders," pursued he, "I owe you something, and I want to pay you before I die. It's about the 'meat-jerk.'"

Naturally the curiosity of Rounders was eager.

"Like all great inventions," continued the tamer, "it's as simple as A, B, C when you know how it's done."

The secret, as explained by the sinking man, was in substance as follows: It is a work of several months. You begin by giving the lion a large piece of meat, and when he has polished it to the bone, you give another piece, and when he fastens on that you pick[Pg 208] up the bone. After awhile you will be able to take the bone from under his mouth as you slip the other piece of meat in its place. In time he gets to know that when you take the first piece away from him, though it should be only half finished, it is to be replaced by a larger piece. Gradually you let a little time pass between the taking away and the giving, which he will get accustomed to. This is the time you bow to the audience as if the feat were finished, and when you give the second piece in an indifferent manner, as if it were of no importance, the public will not see through it.

"Just as you did not see through it," to resume the words of Brinton, "though you watched me like a hawk."

"How simple!" said the enthusiastic listener.

"So simple," continued the wounded man with effort, "I'm sure you wonder to yourself you never thought of it before."

Here he gasped for breath. After a pause he gathered himself together for another effort, and went on.

"You tried it on Pompey. He was never trained, and of course you failed. If you are afraid of handling Brutus, you can train Pompey—as I did Brutus."

The tamer stopped again to get breath, and the pause was longer than those which preceded it. He was weak unto death. The faint reflection of a smile flitted over his features as he said in a hoarse whisper,

"My last performance now—no postponement—on account of the weather."

After another long pause, in the same hoarse whisper, he said,

"This secret—will be a fortune—to you, Jim Rounders. Now shake hands—and let—me die."

And two hands clasped. One was warm, and pulsating with vigorous life, but the other was dead. As Rounders held the lifeless one in his, he resolved to renounce the ungrateful profession; but after the burial of the dead tamer, the ruling passion took possession of him again, and he did not rest until he had performed the "meat-jerk" with Brutus. Indeed, he was not satisfied to walk in the footsteps of Brinton, but became in his turn a creator of a Biblical drama, which he called "Daniel in the Lion's Den."

Albert Rhodes.


First I would give thee—nay, I may and will,
Thoughts, memory, prayers, a sacred wealth unguessed,
My soul's own glad and beautiful bequest,
Conveyed in voiceless reverence, deep and still,
As angels give their thoughts and prayers to God!
Next I would yield, in service freely made,
All of my days and years, thy needs to fill;
To bear or heavy cross, or thorny rod,
Glad of my bondage, deeming it most meet:
Oh, mystery of love, as strange as sweet,
That love from its own wealth should be repaid!
Last, I would give thee, if it pleased thee so,
And for thy pleasure, wishing it increased,
My woman's beauty, heart and lips aglow;
But this, dear, last—so soon its charm must fade,
It is, indeed, of all my gifts, the least!
Mary Ainge DeVere.

[Pg 209]


The arraignment of Dr. Slade, the spiritual medium, before a London magistrate, on a charge of vagrancy, suggests the rather trite remark that "history repeats itself."

Spiritualism is literally "as old as the hills." Lying in a manner dormant through long years, it has had its periodical outcroppings; as, when absolutely prohibited by an edict of Israel's first king, B. C. 1060; when it was abjured by the Council of Ancyra of Galatia, in A. D. 314; and again when ranking highest among the popular delusions of a people boasting of their civilization and culture, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and seventy-six.

Having its foundations in truth, there have not been found wanting, in the remote past as in the present, unscrupulous persons ready to erect on those foundations the most stupendous frauds.

The mental phenomena which have given rise to what is called spiritualism are daily exhibited in some form or other in the life and experience of almost every one. But the simplest and perhaps the most interesting method of exhibition is by means of the little toy called Planchette; a brief account of some experiments with which will best serve to illustrate the nature of the phenomena in question.

The writer and a lady friend placing the tips of their fingers lightly on the board, the following words were traced on the paper upon which it was placed:

"Have you courage for the future?"

"Will you not faint by the roadside?"

"You will be beset by foes within and without."

"Lions in your pathway."

"Hope and trust—trust—trust."

On being asked to whom this applied, it answered:

"The heart that needs it will understand."

A question was then put by a bystander; but instead of answering, it went on as though continuing the former train of thought:

"Hope and trust. You will have trials you know not of." And again, "Hope and trust."

Here another question was put by a bystander, but instead of answer came the words:

"You will find important letters awaiting you from home. Hope and trust."

I then asked: "To whom are these words addressed?"

Ans.—Soon enough you will know. Hope and trust.

To a question given mentally by a bystander it answered:

"Letters awaiting you. Hope and trust."

Ques.—Letters from whom?

Ans.—Your home and family.

Ques.—From what place?

Ans.—Soon enough you will know.

Ques.—Are they all well at home?

Ans.—With God all things are well.

Not being able to decipher this clearly, it repeated:

"With God all things are well. Trust Him."

I confess to having been impressed with these words, so solemn were they, so oracular, and, as it then appeared, so fitly spoken. At the time of making these experiments I was on board one of the Pacific Mail steamships, on my way to San Francisco; and I had reason to be particularly solicitous in regard to my future. But my companion, in these my first experiments, just entering a new and untried field, had far more cause of anxiety than myself in regard to the[Pg 210] future. To her these warnings seemed singularly applicable. Satisfied that my coöperator exercised no voluntary control over the board, absolutely certain the words were not emanations of my own mind, and impelled by curiosity, I determined to try the effect of a few test questions, and, ridiculous as it may appear, ascertain from the instrument itself something of its nature.

Is there any power in Planchette, or is it merely a vehicle? I asked.

Ans.—Inactive bodies have no active agency.

Ques.—Whence come the words of Planchette—whence her intelligence?

Ans.—From the seat of intelligence in the one who commands me.

Ques.—Can you foretell coming events?

Ans.—The future is not made known to man.

Ques.—Can you give information not in the minds of the operators?

Ans.—No, or in the mind of some one who works me.

Ques.—What distinction do you make between the operator and the worker?

Ans.—The worker may be removed from the board.

Ques.—Are you influenced by animal magnetism?


Ques.—Are you influenced by electricity?

Ans.—One and the same.

Ques.—Do the minds of the present operators influence the answers?


Ques.—Is it the result of magnetism?

Ans.—The power of giving out.

Ques.—Giving out what?

Ans.—Yielding magnetism.

Ques.—Which of the operators influences you most?

Ans.—Neither is worth without the other.

Ques.—Have you communications with the spirit world?

Ans.—Disembodied spirits—no.

Ques.—Can you be put to any practical use?

Ans.—Man will be introduced to the world of science.

Ques.—Is your information concerning the ordinary affairs of life of any practical value?

Ans.—Not much, unless the worker is reliable as an informant.

Ques.—What is magnetism?

Ans.—Magnetism is the force of the universe.

Ques.—What is electricity?

Ans.—Electricity is the outward expression of the hidden force.

Ques.—Has magnetism or electricity anything to do with the polarity of the needle?

Ans.—The interchange of magnetism throughout the entire universe.

Ques.—Give a more definite answer.

Ans.—Currents are exchanged from earth to air and from planet to planet.

Ques.—Do these affect the mariner's compass?


Ques.—Can we control the local attraction of the compass?


Ques.—How? I exclaimed excitedly, as the thought flashed through my mind that I was on the eve of a great discovery.

Ans.—By the substitution of some other attractive force?

Ques.—Name one.

Ans.—Magnetized iron.[3]

Ques.—Can the compass be so constructed as to be uninfluenced by local attraction?

Ans.—No, inasmuch as all surroundings are themselves magnets or the mediums of conveyance.

Ques.—Can the approach of storms be foretold by the amount of electricity in the air?

Ans.—Storms are the disturbance of the equilibrium, and therefore can be foretold when the atmospherical balance is understood.

[Pg 211]

Ques.—Can you give information not in the minds of the operators?

Ans.—Planchette is a tool, and does nothing of herself.

Ques.—A tool in the hands of whom?

Ans.—Of those who work her.[4]

Now if these various answers came from the minds of the "workers," we were asking questions which we ourselves were answering, we will say, unawares, out of the depths of our consciousness. As a seeker after truth, therefore, I became as much involved as the dreamer spoken of by Jeremy Taylor in one of his sermons. A man who implicitly believed in dreams, he relates—in effect—dreamed one night that all dreams were false. "If," reasoned he on awakening, "dreams are indeed false, then is this one false; therefore they are true. But if, as I have always supposed, they are true, then is this dream true; therefore they must be false."

Planchette's oracular sayings became famous among the passengers who thronged the room to hear its predictions and to ask questions. The trip to which I refer was made in the early part of November, 1868, while the Presidential election was in progress, and there was naturally great curiosity on the part of the passengers to know how their several States had voted.

Of the six States asked about, Planchette gave the majority in figures for one candidate or the other. On comparing these figures subsequently with the published returns, it was found that not one answer was correct—not a single answer was even approximately true.

There was a certain shipmaster on board who had left his vessel in Rio Janeiro, with directions to the mate to bring her to San Francisco, by way of Cape Horn. The oracle was consulted as to the position of the ship at that particular time. Without a moment's hesitation, the latitude and longitude of the vessel were given, placing her somewhere off Valparaiso (Chili). "That's just where I put her!" cried the master with an ejaculation of unfeigned surprise. On reaching San Francisco shortly after, the vessel was discovered quietly tied up at one of the wharves. I found too, on landing, that the prophecy, "You will find important letters awaiting you from home," was not fulfilled, neither in my case nor in that of the other "worker."

Now in the case of putting down the position of the merchant vessel, the "worker" who was operating with me at the time did not know how to plot the position of a ship at sea, after the manner of seamen; and although the method of stating a ship's position was perfectly familiar to me, yet I anticipated that the answer in regard to her would have been given in general and indefinite terms. What was my astonishment, then, to find distinctly written out, "Latitude 35 deg. 30 min. S.; longitude 98 deg. 40 min. W." True this position was about four thousand miles out of the way, but where did the answer, such as it was, come from?

Continued experiments proved that in every instance where Planchette attempted to foretell an event, it failed ignominiously; and while it replied to questions with the utmost effrontery, it was rarely correct, unless indeed, as it shrewdly said itself, "the worker was reliable as an informant."

Many months after these experiments, I found myself on the shores of southern France. Here my associations were entirely different from those I had known in the far-off Pacific, and, desirous of ascertaining how Planchette would comport itself under the change of conditions, I essayed further trials.

It will be sufficient to give one example of the answers given:

"What should one do," it was asked, "when life becomes unbearable?" The answer was contained in one word, but written in such a scrawl as to be illegible. The question was repeated,[Pg 212] when the same word apparently was written in reply, but still illegible. The question was put a third time, when Planchette, with great energy, wrote in bold characters, and distinct, the word PRAY. On comparing this with the former answers, they were found to be the same.

The question, however, is not as to the degree of faith to be placed in the words of Planchette, but why should it write at all?

In attempting to answer this question, I shall confine myself mainly to the field of daily experience, and draw illustrations from such works only as are familiar to the great majority of readers.

Our twofold nature has often been noticed and commented upon. It has been said that we are possessed of two separate and distinct characters: the outward, which we present to the world, and with which we are in some degree familiar ourselves, and that inner, deeper part of which we know so little.

St. Paul reveals the existence of our dual nature when he exclaims with passionate fervor, "The good that I would I do not, but the evil which I would not, that do I. I delight in the law of God after the inner man, but I see another law in my members warring against the law of my mind." Xenophon gives, in the Cyropedia, a remarkable speech, expressing almost precisely the same idea. Araspes, a young nobleman of Media, is overwhelmed with mortification on being detected by Cyrus in an indiscretion in regard to a captive princess. Chided by Cyrus, "Alas," said he, "now I am come to a knowledge of myself, and find most plainly that I have two souls: one that inclines me to good, another that incites me to evil ..."—the animal versus the spiritual nature, referred to by St. Paul.

In another place St. Paul, speaking of the "Word of God," says it is "quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow...." Heb. iv. 12. Hence we may term the two elements of our duality soul and spirit, they being two separate and distinct entities.

The learned Doctor Whedon, in commenting on the forty-fourth verse of the fifteenth chapter of Paul's Epistle to the Corinthians, where the great apostle speaks of the resurrection, says the expression natural body, as distinct from spiritual body, fails utterly to convey to the mind of the English reader the apostle's true idea. "If," he says, "we assume a difference between soul and spirit, and coin the word soulical as the antithesis of spiritual, we present his exact idea. The Greek word psyche, soul or life, when used as antithetical to pneuma, spirit, signifies that animating, formative, and thinking soul or anima which belongs to the animal, and which man, as animal, shares as his lower nature with other animals. Its range is within the limits of the five senses, within which limits it is able to think and to reason. Such is the power of the highest animals. Overlying this is the spirit which man shares with higher natures, by which thought transcends the range of the senses, and man thinks of immensity, eternity, infinity, immortality, the beautiful, the holy, and God—it is certain that man's mind possesses both these classes or sets of thought." Now in regard to the higher of these elements, there are very many well authenticated cases where the extreme susceptibility of the mind (the seat of these elements) to outward impressions, and the reaction of the mental sensation on the nervous system, has led to the most singular and, in some instances, even fatal results. So marvellously delicate is this portion of our organization, that we are not always conscious of this reaction, and as the reaction is conveyed from the nerve centres to the muscular tissue, we actually find ourselves uttering words or making motions unconsciously. So sensitive is[Pg 213] the brain through the influence of this higher nature, so subtle its functions, that it is often impressed by means indiscernible to the bodily eye or to the ordinary senses—by means just as mysterious as the action of magnetic attraction or the course of the electric wave.

Byron alludes to this exquisite susceptibility with no less of truth than beauty:

And slight withal may be the things which bring
Back on the heart the weight which it would fling
Aside for ever; it may be a sound,
A tone of music, summer's eve or spring,
A flower, the wind, the ocean, which shall wound,
Striking the electric chain wherewith we are darkly bound.
And how or why we know not, nor can trace
Home to its cloud this lightning of the wind ...

Having referred to the reaction of a mental sensation on the nervous system, let us now examine the course by which the reaction proceeds.

We are told by physiologists that stimuli applied to the nerves in certain cases induce contraction or motion in the muscles by direct conduction of a stimulus along a nerve, or by the conduction of a stimulus to a nervous centre, whence it is reflected along another nerve to the muscles. Not only mechanical and electrical, but psychical stimuli "excite the nerves, whether these are ideational, emotional, or volitional. They proceed from the brain, being themselves sometimes induced by external causes, and sometimes originating primarily in the great nervous centres from the operations of the instinct, the memory, the reason, or the will."

When a stimulus of any kind, whether mechanical, chemical, electrical, or vital, acts upon the living nervous substance, it produces an impression on that nerve substance and excites within it some particular change, and the property by which this takes place in the nerve substance has been called its excitability or neurility. But the nerve substance not only receives such an impression from a stimulus and is excited to such a change, but it possesses the property of conducting that impression in certain definite directions, and this property might be spoken of as conductility.

When such an impression is thus conducted simply along a nerve fibre, and thence to a muscle, it induces or excites, as we have seen, the contraction of that muscle, and so exercises what is called a motor function.

The nerve cells appear to possess, beyond the simple excitability to general stimuli, conductility, and the peculiar receptivity which is essential to sensation, a special or more exalted kind of excitability which is called into play under mental or psychical stimuli by the changes produced in the gray matter[5] in the formation of ideas, emotions, and the will.[6]

Now if two sympathetic nerve systems operated upon by psychical stimuli be directed to one and the same point, it is by no means difficult to understand how the brains belonging to those systems may be brought into telegraphic communication by means of the nerve fibres, the product of the two minds evolved, and the resultant idea, by means of a simple mechanical contrivance operated upon by the motor function already explained, be transmitted to paper by the process of writing so familiar to both. The action of the psychical stimuli on the nerve fibre, and its transmission thence to the muscles resulting in the movement of the board, is so subtle that we ourselves are not aware of its operation except through the results produced.

It has just been said that two minds may be brought into telegraphic communication by means of nerve fibres. Let us see how far the expression is justified by facts. There are few of us who have not experienced the truth of Solomon's saying that "if two persons lie together, they have heat; but how can one be warm alone?" Even[Pg 214] the close proximity of two persons affects their respective temperatures, and heat and motion we know to be correlative. It has been shown by the physicist that mechanical force producing motion is correlative with and convertible into heat, heat into chemical force, chemical force into electrical force, and electrical force into magnetic force. Moreover, that each of these is correlative and convertible into the other, all being thus interchangeable.

"Now it is not to be supposed that the force acting in a nerve is identical with electrical force, nor yet a peculiar kind of electricity, nor even physically induced by it, as magnetism may be, but that in the special action of the living nerve a force is generated peculiar to that tissue, which is so correlated with electricity that an equivalent of the one may in some yet unknown manner excite, give rise to, or even be converted into the other. In this concatenation of the several forces of nature, physical and vital, the force acting in a nerve may also be correlated with chemical force, with the heat developed in the muscle, and even with the peculiar molecular motions which produce muscular contraction and all its accompanying physical and mechanical consequences." If, then, two brains, one in London and one in New York, may be brought into communication with each other through their respective nerve systems and the common medium of the electric wire, and both brought to bear on one idea—say the rate of exchange, consols, or the price of gold—is it to be wondered at that two other brains, in close proximity, may be brought into communication through the media of the nerve fibres which are operated upon by a force so similar to that which courses along the electric wire? Or is it strange that the two sympathetic minds—two minds having a strong affinity for each other—should combine and generate ideas? and having produced them, is it strange they should give them expression in writing? Before the days of Franklin, this might indeed appear strange, but it surely cannot be so considered now.

Such, then, is the rationale of what may be termed the automatic writing, by means of Planchette, and such writing is simply a manifestation of what has been named psychic force. Whether operated by one or two persons, the rationale is the same.

There is reason to believe that the phenomenon just explained was known to the ancients, and that it was the origin of the oracles which formed so important a feature, at one period, in the history of Greece; such, for example, as the "Whispering Groves of Dodona," and the yet more famous oracle of Delphi.[7] It is worthy of remark that these oracles were not established at the first by the Greeks themselves. They were of foreign origin, having been first introduced from Egypt, then the seat of learning.

The secret of psychic force having been once discovered, it may easily be conceived how it would be seized upon as a means of communicating, as the pagans supposed, with beings of another world, and how readily the more enlightened and designing would avail themselves of it as a means to practise upon the credulity of a superstitious people. Such were the cunning[Pg 215] priesthood in the temples of pagan worship. They were quick to take advantage of a discovery that offered so powerful a leverage, and having once secured its services, they did not scruple to shape the utterances to suit their own selfish ends. Frequently their answers were so framed as to admit of a double interpretation.

Crœsus consulted the oracle of Delphi on the success that would attend his invasion of the Medes. He was told that by passing the river Halys a great empire would be ruined. He crossed, and the fall of his own empire fulfilled the prophecy. Sometimes they were couched in vague and mysterious terms, leaving those who solicited advice to put whatever construction upon them their hopes or fears suggested. Compare, for example, the first specimen of writing given in this article with the descriptions we read in ancient history of the utterances of the Delphic oracle. How vague and indefinite are its warnings! and then the continual recurrence of the solemn admonition, "Hope and trust"—does it not seem prophetic of some evil hour, when all one's hope and faith were to be tried to the utmost?

Suppose these words had been addressed to a superstitious person by the priestess of a temple situated in the deep recesses of a dense forest, among the toppling crags of some lofty mountain range, or near the gloomy habitations of the dead: it could not have failed of making a serious impression upon the mind. It was thus that the pagan priesthood threw about their oracles everything that could inspire the mind of the visitor with a sense of awe. We are told that the "sacred tripod" was placed over the mouth of a cave whence proceeded a peculiar exhalation.

On this tripod sat the Pythia—the priestess of Apollo—who, having caught the inspiration, pronounced her oracles in extempore prose or verse. The cave and the exhalations were mere accessories, stage properties as it were, the more readily to impose upon those who came to consult the oracle. So of the "sacred tripod," which was the symbol merely of the real instrument which had given birth to this system of fraud.

Planchette, the "sacred tripod" of the ancients, uses language of various styles. Sometimes it will not deign to speak at all; sometimes its answers are vague and unmeaning; sometimes singularly concise and pertinent.

A very striking point of similarity is the occasional irrelevancy of the answers. Tisamenus, soothsayer to the Greek army, consulted the oracle at Delphi concerning his lack of offspring, when he was told by the Pythia that he would win five glorious combats; and when Battus asked about his voice he was told "to establish a city in Libya abounding in fleeces." Such freaks are common with the modern Pythia. The resemblance is complete.

It is to the development of psychical force, as shown by Planchette, that the phenomena known as mesmerism and the so-called spiritualism are undoubtedly due. In some persons this force is found to exist abnormally, when its manifestations are certainly extraordinary. The trouble is that we are not always satisfied with its feeble and uncertain utterances, and are too often impelled by cupidity or other equally unworthy motive to practise the charlatanism of the crafty priests of old.

In the time of Nebuchadnezzar the Chaldean priesthood, the magicians and astrologers, and those who had understanding in all visions and dreams, possessed all the learning of the known world. Much of their learning was transmitted to Egypt and thence to Greece, but much of it we know was lost to the world. From all that we can gather now, however, we may feel assured that they were not ignorant of the existence of what has been termed psychic force, or a sixth sense, or unconscious cerebration (for our terminology in all speculations bordering: on the "unknowable"[Pg 216] must necessarily be uncertain), and as a neighboring people, the Israelites, communicated with their God through that medium, they supposed, as was natural, that they could communicate with their gods in the same way. And they were perfectly sincere in that belief. But in the process of time and migration the theology of the Greeks came to bear little resemblance to that of the Chaldeans. The dignity of the priestly office and the influence of the priesthood became greatly diminished. That the religion of these several nations had one common origin, and that the priests and prophets of God's chosen people had many imitators among other nations, there is abundant proof.

The story of the origin of the Pythia, for example, contains points not without resemblance to certain passages in our own early sacred history. The Son of God is at enmity with the serpent; the serpent pursues a woman, and is trodden under foot by the Son. Zeus is the god of the Greeks; Apollo is his son; Leto—or Latona—is pursued by Python, the serpent, and is slain by Apollo. To commemorate this deed a temple was erected at Delhi to Apollo, and the priestess was called the Pythia. Regarded as the symbol of wisdom by the Egyptians, the serpent came to be considered by the Greeks as representing the principle of evil.[8] Ages before this, however, the history of our first parents, the temptation, and the fall, and the prophecy that the Son should bruise the serpent's head, had been recorded. The wonderful Chaldeans too had mapped out the same story among the eternal stars, their great designs being still traceable on the celestial globes of our common schools.

But the intellectual Greek was not long to be imposed upon. Men who could discourse on the immortality of the soul had not much faith in the nonsense often put forth by a priestess of Apollo. Themistocles made a tool of the oracle in order to serve his own purposes, and Demosthenes publicly denounced it. Convinced that the oracle was subsidized by Philip of Macedon, and instructed to speak in his favor, he boldly declared that the Pythia philippized, and bade the Athenians and Thebans remember that "Pericles and Epaminondas, instead of listening to the frivolous answers of the oracle, the resort of the ignorant and cowardly, consulted only reason in the choice of their measures."

Had there been a London magistrate at hand in the days of the great Athenian orator, it would certainly have gone hard with the poor Pythia.

No observer of human nature can doubt that we are bound by an "electric chain," and that we are liable to impressions, the sources of which are often unknown to us. Nor can we doubt that there have been abnormally sensitive persons, like Swedenborg, whose receptivity was such that the brain could be impressed by means which would entirely fail with the normal brain. But in respect to the professional mediums, notwithstanding the antiquity of the class and their many advocates, it remains to be shown where they have been of the slightest practical utility, or served any good or useful end. Nay more. It remains to be shown wherein the modern medium is entitled to a particle more of respect than the medium of Endor.

S. B. Luce.


[3] This answer is the more remarkable from the fact that my mind was intent upon the revelation of some new theory, while the other operator was not at all familiar with the subject. The simplicity of the answer, and its statement of what had been the common practice for years past, made me feel for the moment that I had been very cleverly hoaxed.

[4] In every instance the writing of Planchette has been copied verbatim.

[5] The gray matter of the nervous centres, the precise nature of which is unknown.

[6] "Outlines of Physiology."

[7] There is no doubt that spirit-writing is very ancient, China alone furnishing sufficient evidence of the fact.

"Spirit-writing," says Taylor, "is of two kinds, according as it is done with or without a material instrument. The first kind is in full practice in China, where, like other rites of divination, it is probably ancient. It is called 'descending of the pencil,' and is especially used by the literary classes. When a Chinese wishes to consult a god in this way, he sends for a professional medium. Before the image of the god are set candles and incense, and an offering of tea or mock money. In front of this on another table is placed an oblong tray of dry sand. The writing instrument is a V-shaped wooden handle, two or three feet long, with a wooden tooth fixed at its point. Two persons hold this instrument, each grasping one leg of it, and the point resting on the sand. Proper prayers and charms induce the god to manifest his presence by a movement of the point in the sand, and thus the response is written, and there only remains the somewhat difficult and doubtful task of deciphering it...."—"Primitive Culture." By Ed. B. Taylor. Vol. I., p. 133.

[8] The serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field; "Be ye wise as serpents."—Bible.

[Pg 217]



Here's yer toy balloons! All sizes.
Twenty cents for that. It rises
Jest as quick as that 'ere, Miss,
Twice as big. Ye see it is
Some more fancy. Make it square
Fifty for 'em both. That's fair.
That's the sixth I've sold since noon.
Trade's reviving. Just as soon
As this lot's worked off I'll take
Wholesale figgers. Make or break,
That's my motto! Then I'll buy
In some first-class lottery:
One half ticket, numbered right—
As I dreamed about last night.
That'll fetch it. Don't tell me!
When a man's in luck, you see,
All things help him. Every chance
Hits him like an avalanche.
Here's your toy balloons, Miss. Eh?
You won't turn your face this way?
Mebbe you'll be glad some day!
With that clear ten-thousand prize
This yer trade I'll drop, and rise
Into wholesale. No! I'll take
Stocks in Wall street. Make or break,
That's my motto! With my luck,
Where's the chance of being stuck?
Call it Sixty Thousand, clear,
Made in Wall street in one year.
Sixty thousand! Umph! Let's see.
Bond and mortgage'll do for me.
Good. That gal that passed me by
Scornful like—why, mebbe I
Some day'll hold in pawn—why not?—
All her father's prop. She'll spot
What's my little game, and see
What I'm after's her. He! he!
[Pg 218]
He! he! When she comes to sue—
Let's see. What's the thing to do?
Kick her? No! There's the perliss!
Sorter throw her off like this!
Hello! Stop! Help! Murder! Hey!
There's my whole stock got away!
Kiting on the house tops! Lost!
All a poor man's fortin! Cost?
Twenty dollars! Eh! What's this?
Fifty cents! God bless ye, Miss!
Bret Harte.



The career of the Abbé Gérard had been an eminently successful one—successful in every way; and even he himself was forced to acknowledge it to be so as he reviewed his past life, sitting by a blazing fire in his comfortable apartment in the Rue Miromeuil previous to dressing for the Duc de Frontignan's dinner-party. Born of poor parents in the south of France, entering the priesthood at an early age, having received but a meagre education, and that chiefly confined to a superficial knowledge of the most elementary treatises on theology, he had, in twenty-five years, and solely by his own exertions, unaided by patronage, obtained a most desirable berth in one of the leading Paris churches, thereby becoming the recipient of a handsome salary and being enabled to indulge his tastes as a dilettante and homme du monde. The few hours snatched from those absorbed by his parochial duties he had ever devoted to study, and his application and determination had borne him golden fruit. Moreover, he had so cultivated his mind, and made such good use of the rare opportunities afforded him in early life of associating with gentlemen, that when now at length he found his presence in demand at every house in the "Faubourg" where wit and graceful learning were appreciated, no one would ever have suspected he had not been bred according to the strictest canons of social refinement.

But in his upward progress such had been his experience of life that when, during the brief intervals of breathing time he allowed himself, he would look below and above, he was forced to confess that at every step a belief, an illusion had been destroyed and trodden under foot, and he would wonder, while bracing himself for a new effort, how it would all end, and whether the mitre he lusted for would not after all, perhaps, be placed upon a head that doubted even the existence of a God. He was not a bad man, but merely one of that class who have embraced the priesthood merely as a means of raising themselves from obscurity to eminence, and have in their intercourse with the world discovered many flaws and blemishes in what they may at one time have considered perfect. When his reason rejected many of the fables hitherto cherished and believed in, the Abbé Gérard was at the beginning inclined to abandon in despair the attempt to discern the true from the false, and this all the more that he saw the time thus spent was, in a worldly sense,[Pg 219] but wasted, and that the good things of this world come to such reapers as gather wheat and tares alike, well knowing there is a market for them both.

During a certain period, therefore, of his struggle upward, while his worldly ambition was aiding by sly insinuations and comparisons the deadly work already begun by the destruction of his dreams, Henri Gérard was nigh being an atheist. But the nature of the man was too finely sensual for this phase to be lasting, and when at length he found himself so far successful in his worldly aspirations as to be tolerably sure of their complete fulfilment; when at length he found time to examine spiritual matters apart from their direct bearing upon his social altitude, his æsthetic sense—which by this time had necessarily developed—he was struck by the exquisite beauty of Christianity, and thus, as a shallow philosophy had nearly induced him to become an atheist, a deep and sensual spirit of sentimentality nearly made him a Christian. His Madonna was the Madonna of Raphael, not that of Albert Dürer: the woman whose placid grace of countenance creates an emotion more subtly voluptuous than desire; not she in whose face can be discerned the human mother of the Man of Sorrows and of Him divinely acquainted with all grief. The Holy Spirit he adored was not the Friend of the broken-hearted or the Healer of the blind Bartimœus, but He "who feedeth among the lilies"—the Alpha and Omega of all æsthetic conception. Christianity he looked upon as the highest moral expression of artistic perfection, and he regarded it with the same admiration he accorded to the Antinous and the Venus of Milo. He was not, however, by nature a pagan as some men are—men who, in the words of De Musset, "Sont venu trop tard dans un monde trop vieux"; but the atmosphere in which his early years had been spent had been so antagonistic to the impulses of his nature, his inner life had been so cramped in and starved, that when at length the key of gold opening the prison door let in the outer air, his spirit revelled in all the wild extravagance so often accompanying sudden and long wished-for emancipation. His nature was perhaps not one that could have been attuned to a perfect harmony with that of a Greek or Roman of the golden days, but one better calculated to enjoy the hybrid atmosphere of the Italian Renaissance; and he would have been in his element in the Rucellai Gardens, conversing with feeble little Cosimino, or laughing with Buondelmonte and Luigi Alamanni. He did not believe in the narrative of the Bible, but its precepts and tendencies he appreciated and admired, although, it must be confessed, he did not always put himself out to follow them. In his heart he utterly rejected all idea of a future life, since it was incompatible with his conception of the artistic unity of this; but he would blandly acknowledge to himself that there are perhaps things we cannot comprehend, and that beauty may have no term. He assimilated, so far as in him lay, his duties as a priest with his ideas as a man of culture; and his sermons were ever of love; sermons which, winged as they were with impassioned eloquence, were deservedly popular with all: from the scholar, who delighted in them as intellectual feasts, to the fashionable Paris woman of the second empire, who was enchanted at finding in the quasi-fatalistic and broadly charitable views enunciated therein means whereby her vulgar amours might be considered in a light more pleasing to herself and more consoling to her husband.

On the Sunday afternoon preceding the evening on which we introduce him to the reader the Abbé had departed from his usual custom, and, by especial request of his curé, had preached a most remarkable sermon upon the Personality of Satan. It is a vulgar error to suppose that men[Pg 220] succeed best when their efforts are enlivened by a real belief in the matter in hand. Not only some men have such a superabundance of fervid imagination that they can, for the time being, provoke themselves into a pseudo belief in what they know in their saner moments to be false, but moreover a large class of men are endowed with minds so restless and so finely strung that they can play with a sophism with marvellous dexterity and skill, while lacking that vigorous and comprehensive grasp of mind which the lucid exposition of a hidden truth necessitates. The Abbé Gérard belonged a little to both these classes of beings; and moreover, his vanity as an intellectual man provoked him to extraordinary exertions in cases wherein he fancied he might win for himself the glory of strengthening and verifying matters which in themselves perhaps lacked almost the elements of existence. "Spiritual truths," he once cynically remarked to Sainte-Beuve, whom, by the way, he detested, "will take care of themselves; it is the nursing of spiritual falsehood which needs all the care of the clergy." On the Sunday in question he had surpassed himself. With biting irony he had annihilated the disbelievers in Divine punishment, and then, with persuasive and overwhelming eloquence, he had urged the necessity of believing not only in hell, but in the personality of the Prince of Evil. Women had fainted in their terror; men had been frightened into seeking the convenient solace of the confessional, and the Archbishop had written him a letter of the warmest thanks.

It was a triumph which a man of the nature of the Abbé Gérard particularly enjoyed. The idea of finding himself the successful reviver of an inanimate doctrine, while secretly conscious that he was, in reality, a skeptic in matters of dogmatically vital importance, was to a mind so prone to delight in paradoxes eminently agreeable. It pleased him to see the letter of the Archbishop lying upon a volume of Strauss, and to read the glowing and extravagant praise lavished on him in the pages of the "Univers" after having enjoyed a sparkling draught of Voltaire.

Such was the Abbé Gérard—the type of a class. The Duc de Frontignan, with whom he was dining on the evening this story opens, was or rather is in many ways a no less remarkable personage in Paris society. Possessing rank, birth, and a splendid income, he had inherited more than a fair share of the good gifts of Providence, being endowed not only with considerable mental power, but with the tact to use that power to the best advantage. Although beyond doubt clever, he was universally esteemed a much more intellectual man than he really was, and this through no voluntary deceitfulness on his part, but owing to a method he had unconsciously adopted of exhibiting his wares with their most favorable aspect to the front. He was well read, but not deeply read, and yet all Paris considered him a profound scholar; he was quick and epigrammatic in his appreciation and expression of ideas, as men of cultivation and varied experience are apt to be, but he enjoyed the reputation of being a wit, and finally having merely lounged through the world, impelled by a spirit of restlessness, begotten of great wealth and idleness, society looked upon him as a bold and adventurous traveller. One gift he most certainly possessed: he was vastly amusing and entertaining, and resembled in one respect the Abbé Galiani, as described by Diderot; for he was indeed "a treasure on rainy days, and if the cabinet-makers made such things, everybody would have one in the country." He not only knew everybody in Paris, but he possessed an extraordinary faculty of drawing people out, and forcing them to make themselves amusing. No man was in his society long before he discovered himself openly discussing his most cherished hobby, or airily scattering[Pg 221] as seed for trivial conversation the fruit of long years of experience and reflection. His hotel in the Rue de Varenne was the resort of all that was most remarkable and extraordinary in the fashionable, the artistic, the diplomatic, and the scientific world. His intimacy with the Abbé Gérard was one of long standing: they mutually amused each other; the keen intellect of the priest found much that was interesting in the shallow but attractive and brilliant nature of the layman; while the Duke entertained feelings of the warmest admiration for a man who, having risen from nothing, enlivened the most exclusive coteries with his graceful learning and charming wit.

It was one of the peculiar whims of Octave de Frontignan never to have an even number of guests at his dinner table. His soirées indeed were attended by hundreds, but his dinner parties rarely exceeded seven (including himself), and in many cases he only invited two. On this especial occasion the only guest asked to meet the Abbé Gérard was the celebrated diplomatist and millionaire the Prince Paul Pomerantseff. This most extraordinary personage had for the past six years kept Europe in a constant state of excitement by reason of his munificence and power. Brought up under the direct personal supervision of the Emperor of Russia, he had done a little of everything and succeeded in all he had undertaken. He had distinguished himself as a diplomatist and as a soldier, and had left traces of his indomitable will in many State papers as on many an enemy's face during the period of the Crimean war. In London, but perhaps more especially in "the shires," his face was well known and liked. Duchesses' daughters had sighed for him, but in vain; and the continuance of his celibacy appeared to be as certain as the splendor of his fortune. The Abbé Gérard had known him for many years, and proved no exception to the general rule, for although their friendship had never ripened into great intimacy, there was perhaps no man in the wide circle of his acquaintance in whose society the priest took a more lively pleasure.

"Late as usual!" cried the Duke, as Gérard hurried into the room ten minutes after the appointed hour. "Prince, if you were so unpunctual in your diplomatic duties as the Abbé is in his social (and I fear in his spiritual!), where would the world be?"

The Abbé stopped short, pulled out his watch, and looked at it with a comically contrite air.

"Only ten minutes late, and I am sure when you think of the amount of business I have to transact you can afford to forgive me," he said as he advanced and shook hands warmly with his friends.

"You have no idea," he continued, throwing himself lazily down upon a lounge—"you have no idea of the amount of folly I am forced to listen to in a day! Every woman whose bad temper has got her into trouble with her husband, and every man whose stupidity has led him into quarrelling with his wife—one and all they come to me, pour out their misfortunes in my ears, and expect me to arrange their affairs."

The servant announcing dinner interrupted the poor Abbé's complaints.

"I tell you what I should do," said Pomerantseff when they were seated at table. "I should say to every man and woman who came to me on such errands, 'My dear friend, my business is with your spiritual welfare, and with that alone. The doctor and solicitor must take care of your worldly concerns. It is my duty to insure your eternal felicity when the tedium of delirium tremens and the divorce court is all over, and that is really all one man can do.'"

"By the way, talking of spiritual matters," interrupted the Duke, "Pomerantseff has been telling me his experience with a man you detest, Abbé."

"I detest no man."

"I can only judge from your own[Pg 222] words," rejoined Frontignan. "Did you not tell me years ago that you thought Home a more serious evil than the typhoid fever?"

"Ah, Home the medium!" cried Gérard in great disgust. "I admit you are right. It is not possible, Prince, that you encourage Frontignan in his absurd spiritualism."

The Prince smiled gravely.

"I do not pretend to encourage any man in anything, mon cher Abbé."

"But you cannot believe in it!"

"I do most certainly believe in it."

"Dieu de Dieu!" exclaimed Gérard. "What folly! What are we all coming to?"

"It has always struck me as remarkable," said the Duke, "that with all your taste for the curious and unknown, you have never been tempted into investigating the matter, Abbé."

"I am, as you say, a lover of the curious," replied the priest, "but not of such empty trash as spiritualism. I have enough cares with the realities of this world without bringing upon myself the misery of investigating the possibilities of the next."

"That is a sentiment worthy of Abbé Dubois," said Pomerantseff laughing, and then the Duke, suddenly making some inquiry relative to the train which was to take him and the Prince to Brunoy on a shooting expedition the following morning, the subject for the nonce was dropped. It was destined, however, to be revived later in the evening, for when after dinner they were comfortably ensconced in the tabagie, Frontignan, who had been greatly excited by some extraordinary manifestations related to him by the Prince before the arrival of the Abbé, said abruptly:

"Now, Gérard, you must really let us convert you to spiritualism."

"Never!" cried the Abbé.

"It is absurd for you to disbelieve, for you know nothing about it, since you have never been willing to attend a séance."

"I feel it is absurd, and that is enough."

"I myself do not exactly believe in spirits," said Frontignan thoughtfully.

"À la bonne heure! Of course not!" cried the Abbé. "You see, Prince, he is not quite mad after all!"

The Prince said nothing.

"I cannot doubt the existence of some extraordinary phenomena," continued the young Duke thoughtfully; "for I cannot bring myself to such an exquisite pitch of philosophical imbecility as to doubt my own senses; but, to my thinking, the exact nature of the phenomena, remains as yet an open question. I have a theory of my own about it, and although it may be absurd and fantastical, it is certainly no more so than that which would have us believe the spirits of the dear old lazy dead come back to the scenes of their lives and miseries to pull our noses and play tambourines."

"And may I ask you," inquired the Prince, with a touch of sarcasm in his voice, "what this theory of yours may be?"

"I will give you," said the Duke, ignoring the sneer, and stretching himself back in his chair as he sent a ring of smoke curling daintily toward the ceiling—"I will give you with great pleasure the result of my reflection about this matter. It is my belief that the things—the tangible things we create, or rather cause to appear, come from within ourselves, and are portions of ourselves. We produce them, in the first instance, generally with hands linked, but afterward when our nervous organizations are more harmonized to them, they come to us of themselves, and even against our wills. It is my belief that these are what we term our passions and our emotions, to whose existence the electric fluid and nervous ecstasy we cause to circulate and induce by sitting with hands linked, merely gives a tangible and corporeal expression. We all know that grief, joy, remorse, and many other sensations and emotions can kill as surely and in many cases as quickly as an assassin's dagger, and it is a well known[Pg 223] scientific fact that there are certain nerves in the hand between certain fingers which have a distinct rapport with the mind, and by which the mind can be controlled. Since this is so, why is it that under certain given conditions, such as sitting with hands linked—that thus sitting, and while the electric fluid, drawn out by the contact of our hands, forms a powerful medium between the inner and the outward being—why is it, I say, that these strong emotions I have mentioned should not take advantage of this strange river flowing to and fro between the conceptional and the visual to float before us for a time, and give us an opportunity of seeing and touching them, who influence our every action in life? It is my belief that I can shake hands with my emotions; that my conscience can become tangible and pinch my ear just as surely as it can and does keep people awake at night by agitating their nervous system, or in other words, by mentally pinching their ears."

"That is certainly a very fantastical idea," said the Abbé smiling. "But if you have ever seen any of your emotions, what do they look like? I should like to see my hasty temper sitting beside me for a minute; I should take advantage of his being corporealized to pay him back in his own coin, and give him a good thrashing."

"It is difficult," said the Duke gravely, "to recognize one's emotions when brought actually face to face with them, although they have been living in us all our lives—turning our hair gray or pulling it out; making us stout or lean, upright or bent over. Moreover, our minor emotions, except in cases where the medium is remarkably powerful, outwardly express themselves to us as perfumes, or sometimes in lights. I have reason, however, to believe I have recognized my conscience."

"I should have thought he'd have been too sleepy to move out!" laughed the Prince.

"That just shows how wrongly one man judges another," said Octave lazily, without earnestness, but with a certain something in his tone that betokened he was dealing with realities. "You probably think that I am not much troubled with a conscience; whereas the fact is that my conscience, with a strong dash of remorse in it, is a very keen one. Many years ago a certain episode changed the whole color and current of my life inwardly to myself, although of course outwardly I was much the same. Now, this episode aroused my conscience to a most extraordinary degree, and I never 'sit' now without seeing a female figure; with a face like that of the heroine of my episode, dressed in a queer robe, woven of every possible color except white, who shudders and trembles as she passes before me, holding in her arms large sheets of glass, through which dim Bohemian glass colors pass flickering every moment."

"What a very disagreeable thing to see this weather," said the Abbé—"everything shuddering and shaking!"

"Have you ever discovered why she goes about like the wife of a glazier?" asked the Prince.

"For a long time I could not make out what they could be, these large panes of glass with variegated colors passing through them; but now I think I know."


"They are dreams waiting to be fitted in."

"Bravo!" cried the Abbé. "That is really a good idea! If I had only the pen of Charles Nodier, what a charming feuilleton I could write about all this!"

Pomerantseff laid his hand affectionately on the Duke's shoulder. "Mon cher ami," he said with a grave smile, "believe me, you are wholly at fault in your speculations. Gérard here of course, naturally enough, since he has never been willing to 'sit,' thinks we are both madmen, and that the whole thing is folly; but you and I, who have sat and seen many marvellous[Pg 224] manifestations, know that it is not folly. Take the word of a man who has had greater experience in the matter than yourself, and who is himself a most powerful medium: the theory you have just enunciated is utterly false."

"Prove that it is false."

"I cannot prove it, but wait and see."

"Nay; I have given it all up now. I will not meddle with spiritualism again. It unhinged my nerves and destroyed my peace of mind while I was investigating it."

The Prince shrugged his shoulders.

"Prince, leave him alone," said the Abbé smiling. "His theory is a great deal more sensible than yours; and if I could bring myself to believe that at your séances any real phenomenon does take place (which of course no sane person can), I should be much more apt to accept Frontignan's interpretation of the matter. Let us follow it out a little further, for the mere sake of talking nonsense. Doubtless the dominant passion of a man would be the most likely to appear—that is to say, would be the most tangible."

"That would depend," replied the Duke, "upon circumstances. If the phenomenon should take place while the man is alone, doubtless it would be so; but if while at a séance attended by many people, the apparition would be the product of the master passions of all, and thus it is that many of the visions which appear at séances where the sitters are not harmonized are most remarkable and unrecognizable anomalies."

"I thought I understood from Mme. de Girardin that certain spirits always appeared."

"Pooh, pooh! Mme. de Girardin never went deep enough into the matter. The most ravishing vision I ever saw was when I fancied I saw love."

"What? Love! An emanation from yourself?"

The Duke sighed.

"Ah, that is what proved to me that what I saw could not be love. That sentiment has been too long extinguished in me to awaken to a corporeal expression."

"What made you think it was love?" asked Pomerantseff.

"It was a white dove with something I cannot express that was human about it. I felt ineffably happy while it was with me."

"Your theory is false, I tell you," said the Russian. "What you saw probably was love."

"Then it would have been God!" cried the Abbé.


"I believe with Novalis that 'love is the highest reality,'" replied Gérard; then he added with a laugh, "No, Duke, what you saw was an emanation from yourself—a master passion. It was the corporeal embodiment of your love of pigeon-shooting!"

"Perhaps," laughed the Duke.

"I tell you what, mon ami," said Pomerantseff rising, as he saw the Abbé making preparations to depart. "I am glad that my appetite, corporealized and separated from my discretion, is not in your wine cellar. Your Johannisberg would suffer!"

"Prince, you must drive me home," said the Abbé. "I cannot get into a draughty cab at this hour of the night."

"Très volontiers! Good night, Duke. Remember to-morrow morning, at half-past nine, at the Gare de Lyon," said the Prince.

"Remember to-morrow night at half-past ten, at Mme. de Langeac's," bawled the Abbé; and so they left. The young nobleman hurried down the cold staircase and into the Prince's brougham.

"What a pity," exclaimed the Abbé when they were once fairly started, "that a man with all the mind of De Frontignan should give himself up to such wild ideas and dreams!"

"You are not very complimentary," rejoined the other smiling gravely; "for you know that so far as believing in spirits I am as bad if not worse than he is."[Pg 225]

"Ah, but you are jesting."

"On my honor as a gentleman, I am not jesting. See here." As he spoke Pomerantseff seized the Abbé's hand. "You heard me tell the Duke just now that I believed he had seen the spirit of love. Well, the sermon you preached the day before yesterday, which all Paris is talking about, and in which you endeavored to prove the personality of the devil to be a fact, was truer than perhaps you believed when you preached it. Why should not Frontignan have seen the spirit of love when I know and have seen the devil?"

"Mon ami, you are insane!" cried Gérard. "Why, the devil does not exist!"

"I tell you I have seen him—the God of all Evil, the Prince of Desolation!" cried the other in an excited voice. "And what is more, I will show him to you!"

"Show the devil to me!" exclaimed the Abbé, half terrified, half amused. "Why, you are out of your mind!"

The Prince laid his other hand upon the arm of the Abbé, who could feel he was trembling with excitement.

"You know my address," he said in a quick, passionate voice. "When you feel—as I tell you you surely will—desirous of investigating this further, send for me, and I promise, on my honor as a gentleman, to show you the devil, so that you cannot doubt. I will do this on one condition."

The Abbé felt almost faint; for apart from the wildness of the words thus abruptly and unexpectedly addressed to him, the hand of the Prince which lay upon his own, as if to keep him still, seemed to be pouring fire and madness into him. He tried to withdraw it, but the other grasped the fingers tight.

"On one condition," repeated Pomerantseff in a lower tone.

"What condition?" murmured the poor Abbé.

"That you trust yourself entirely to me until we reach the place of meeting."

"Prince, let go my hand! You are hurting me! I will promise to do as you say when I want to go to your infernal meeting."

He wrenched his hand away, pulled down the carriage window and let the cold night air in.

"Pomerantseff, you are a madman; you are dangerous. Why the devil did you grasp my hand in that way? My arm is numb."

The Prince laughed.

"It is only electricity. I was determined, since you doubted the existence of the devil, to make you promise to come and see him."

"I never promised!" exclaimed the Abbé. "I only promised to trust myself to you if the horrible desire should ever seize me to investigate your mad words further. But you need not be afraid of that. God forbid I should indulge in such folly!"

The Prince smiled.

"God has nothing to do with this," he remarked simply. "You will come."

The carriage had now turned up the street in which the Abbé lived, and they were but a few doors from his house.

"My dear Prince," said Gérard earnestly, "let me say a few words to you at parting. You know I am not a bigot, so that your words—which many might think blasphemous—I care nothing about; but remember we are in the Paris of the nineteenth century, not in the Paris of Cazotte, and that we are eminently practical nowadays. Had you asked me to go with you to see some curious atrocity, no matter how horrible, I might, were it interesting, have accepted; but when you invite me to go with you to see the devil you really must excuse me; it is too absurd."

"Very well," replied Prince Pomerantseff. "Of course I know you will come; but think the matter over well. Remember, I promise to show the devil to you so that you can never doubt of his personality again. This is not one of the wonders of electro-biology, but[Pg 226] simply a fact: the devil exists, and you shall see him. Good night."

Gérard, as he turned into his porte cochère, and made his way up stairs, was more struck than perhaps he confessed even to himself by the quiet tone of certainty and assurance in which the Prince uttered these words; and on reaching his apartment he sat down by the blazing fire, lighted a cigarette, and began considering in all its bearings what he felt convinced was a most remarkable case of mania and mental derangement. In the first place, was the Prince deceived himself, or merely endeavoring to deceive another? The latter theory he at once rejected; not only the character and breeding of the man, but his nervous earnestness about this matter, rendered such a supposition impossible. Then he himself was deceived—and yet how improbable! Gérard could remember nothing in what he knew or had heard of the Prince that could lead him to suppose his brain was of the kind charlatans and pseudo-magicians can successfully bewitch. On the contrary, although of a country in which the grossest superstitions are rife, he himself had led such an active, healthy life, partly in Russia and partly in England, that his brain could hardly be suspected of derangement. An intimate and practical acquaintance with most of the fences in "the shires," and all the leading statesmen of Europe, can hardly be considered compatible with a morbid disposition and superstitious nature.

No; the Abbé confessed to himself that the man who deceived Pomerantseff must have been of no ordinary ability. That he had been deceived was beyond all question, but it was certainly marvellous. In practical matters, the Abbé was even forced to confess to himself, he would unhesitatingly take the Prince's advice, sooner than trust to his own private judgment; and yet here was this model of keen, healthy, worldly wisdom gravely inviting him to meet the devil face to face, and not only this, but promising that it should be no unintelligible freak of electro-biology, but as a simple fact. Gérard smoked thirty cigarettes without coming to any satisfactory solution of the enigma. What if after all he, the Abbé Gérard, for once should abandon the line of conduct he had laid down for himself, and, to satisfy his curiosity, and perhaps with the chance of restoring to its proper equilibrium a most valuable and comprehensive mind, overlook his determination never to endanger his peace of mind by meddling with the affairs of spiritualists? He could picture to himself the whole thing: they would doubtless be in a darkened room; an apparition clothed in red, and adorned with the traditional horns, would make its appearance, and there would very likely be no apparent evidence of fraud. Even supposing some portion of the absurd theory enunciated by the Duke de Frontignan were true, and some strange thing begotten of electric fluid and overwrought imagination were to make its appearance, that could hardly be considered by a sane man as being equivalent to an interview with the devil. The Abbé told himself that it would be most likely impossible to detect any fraud, but he felt convinced that should the Prince find this phenomenon pooh-poohed, after a full investigation, by a man of sense and culture, his faith in it would be shaken, and ere long he would come to despise it.

All the remarkable stories he had heard about spiritualism from Mme. de Gérardin and others, and which he hitherto paid no heed to, came back to-night to the Abbé as he sat ruminating over the extraordinary offer just made him. He had heard of dead people appearing, and that was sufficiently absurd, for he did not believe in a future life; but the devil——The idea was preposterous! Poor Luther, indeed, might throw his ink-pot at him, but no enlightened Roman Catholic priest could be expected to believe in his existence, no matter how[Pg 227] much he might be forced—for obvious reasons—to preach about it, and represent it as a fact in sermons. Yes; he would unhesitatingly consent to investigate the matter, and discover the fraud he felt certain was lurking somewhere, but that the Prince seemed to feel so certain of his consent; and he feared by thus fulfilling an idly expressed prophecy to plunge the unhappy man still deeper in his slough of superstition. One thing was certain, the Abbé told himself with a smile—nothing on earth or from heaven or hell—if the two latter absurdities existed—could make him believe in the devil. No, not even if the devil should come and take him by the hand, and all the hosts of heaven flock to testify to his identity. By this time, having smoked and thought himself into a state of blasphemous idiocy, our worthy divine threw away his cigarette, went to bed, and read himself into a nightmare with a volume of Von Helmont. The following morning still found him perplexed as to what course to adopt in this matter. As luck (or shall we say—the devil?) would have it, while he was trifling in a listless way with his breakfast, there called to see him the only priest in whose judgment, purity, and religious fervor he had any confidence. It is probable, to such an extent was his mind engrossed by the subject, that no matter who might have called, he would have discussed the extraordinary conduct of Prince Pomerantseff with him; but insomuch as the visitor chanced to be the very man best calculated to direct his judgment in the matter, he, without unnecessary delay, laid the whole affair before him.

"You see, mon cher," said Gérard in conclusion, "my position is just this: It appears to me that this person, whom I will not name, has been trifled with by Home and other so-called spiritualists to such an extent that his mind is really in danger. Now, although of course we are forbidden to have any dealings with such people, or to participate in any way in their infamous, foolish, and unholy practices, surely it would be the act of a Christian if a clear, healthy-minded man were to expose the fraud, and thus save to society a man of such transcendent ability as my friend. Moreover, should I determine to accept his mad invitation, I hardly think I could be said to participate in any of the scandalous and perhaps blasphemous rites he may have to perform to bring about the supposed result. What do you think of it, and what do you advise?"

His friend walked up and down the room for a few minutes, turning the matter over carefully in his mind, and then, coming up to where the Abbé lay lazily stretched upon a lounge, he said earnestly,

"Mon cher Henri, I am very glad you have asked me about this. It appears to me that your duty is quite clear. You perhaps have it in your power, as you yourself have seen, to save, not only, as you say, a mind, but what I wish I could feel you prized more highly—a soul. You must accept the invitation."

The Abbé rose in delight at having found another man who, taking the responsibility off his shoulders, commanded him as a duty to indulge his ardent curiosity.

"But," continued the other in a solemn voice, "before accepting, you must do one thing."

The Abbé threw himself back on the lounge in disgust.

"Oh, pray, of course," he exclaimed petulantly. "I am quite aware of that."

"Not only pray, but fast, and that for seven days at least, my dear brother."

This was a very disagreeable view of the matter, but the Abbé was equal to the occasion. After a pause, during which he appeared absorbed in religious reflection, he rose, and taking his friend by the hand—

"You are right," said he, "as you always are. Although of course I know the evil spirit cannot harm an[Pg 228] officer of God's Holy Catholic church, even supposing, for the sake of argument, my poor friend can invoke Satan, yet if I am to do any good, if I am to save my friend from destruction, I must be armed with extraordinary grace, and this, as you truly divine, can only come by fasting."

The other wrung his hand warmly. "I knew you would see it in its proper light, my dear Henri," he said, "and now I will leave you to recover your peace of mind by religious meditation."

The Abbé smiled gravely, and let his friend depart. The following letter was the result of this edifying interview between the two divines:

"Mon cher Prince: No doubt you will feel very triumphant when you learn that my object in writing this letter is to accept your offer of presentation to Sa Majesté; but I do not care whether you choose to consider this yielding to what is only in part whimsical curiosity a triumph or no. I will not write to you any cut-and-dried platitudes about good and evil, but I frankly assure you that one of the strongest reasons which induces me to go with you on this fool's errand is a belief that I can discover the absurdity and imposture, and cure you of a hallucination which is unworthy of you.

"Tout à vous,

"Henri Gérard."

For two days he received no reply to this letter, nor did he happen, in the interval, to meet the Prince in society, although he heard of him from De Frontignan and others; but on the third day the following note was brought to him:

"Mon cher ami: There is no question of triumph, any more than there is of deception. I will call for you this evening at half-past nine. You must remember your promise to trust yourself entirely to me.

"Cordialement à vous,


So the matter was now arranged, and he, the Abbé Gérard, the renowned preacher of the celebrated —— church, was to meet that very night, by special appointment, at half-past nine, the Prince of Darkness; and this in January, in Paris—at the height of the season in the capital of civilization. As may be well imagined, during the remainder of that eventful day, until the hour of the Prince's arrival, the Abbé did not enjoy his customary placidity. A secretary of the Turkish embassy who called at four found him engaged in a violent discussion with one of the Rothschilds about the early Christians' belief in demons, as shown by Tertullian and others, while Lord Middlesex, who called at half-past five, found he had captured Faure, installed him at the piano, and was inducing him to hum snatches from "Don Juan." When his dinner hour arrived, having given orders to his valet to admit no one lest he should be discovered not fasting, he hastily swallowed a few mouthfuls, fortified himself with a couple of glasses of Chartreuse verte, and lighting an enormous "imperial," awaited the coming of the messenger of Satan. At half-past nine o'clock precisely the Prince arrived. He was in full evening dress (but contrary to his usual custom, wearing no decoration or ribbon in his buttonhole), and his face was of a deadly pallor.

"Mon Dieu!" exclaimed the Abbé, "What is the matter with you, mon cher? You are looking very ill. We had better postpone our visit."

"No; it is nothing," replied the Prince gravely. "Let us be off without delay. In matters of this sort waiting is unbearable."

The Abbé rose, and rang the bell for his hat and cloak. The appearance of the Prince, his evident agitation, and his unfeigned impatience, which seemed to betoken terror, were far from reassuring, but the Abbé promptly quelled any misgivings he might have felt. Suddenly a thought struck him; a thought which certainly[Pg 229] his brain would never have engendered had it been in its normal condition.

"Perhaps I had better change my dress, and go en pékin?" he inquired anxiously.

The ghost of a sarcastic smile flitted across the Prince's face, as he replied,

"No, certainly not. Your soutane will be in every way acceptable. Come, let us be off."

The Abbé made a grimace, put on his hat, flung his cloak around his shoulders, and followed the Prince down stairs. He remarked with some surprise that the carriage awaiting them was not the Prince's.

"I have hired a carriage for the occasion," remarked Pomerantseff quietly, noticing Gerard's glance of surprise. "I am unwilling that my servants should suspect anything of this."

They entered the carriage, and the coachman, evidently instructed beforehand where to go, drove off without delay. The Prince immediately pulled down the blinds, and taking a silk pocket handkerchief from his pocket, began quietly to fold it lengthwise.

"I must blindfold you, mon cher," he remarked simply, as if announcing the most ordinary fact.

"Diable!" cried the Abbé, now becoming a little nervous. "This is very unpleasant! I believe you are the devil yourself."

"Remember your promise," said Pomerantseff, as he carefully covered his friend's eyes with the pocket handkerchief, and effectually precluded the possibility of his seeing anything until he should remove the bandage. After this nothing was said. The Abbé heard the Prince pull up the blind, open the window, and tell the coachman to drive faster. He endeavored to discover when they turned to the right, and when to the left, but in a few minutes got bewildered and gave it up in despair. At one time he felt certain they were crossing the river.

"I wish I had not come," he murmured to himself. "Of course the whole thing is folly, but it is a great trial to the nerves, and I shall probably be upset for many days."

On they drove; the time seemed interminable to the Abbé.

"Are we near our destination yet?" he inquired at last.

"Not very far off," replied the other, in what seemed to Gérard a most sepulchral tone of voice. At length, after a drive of perhaps half an hour, but which seemed to the Abbé double that time, Pomerantseff murmured in a low tone, and with a profound sigh which sounded almost like a sob, "Here we are," and at that moment the Abbé felt the carriage was turning, and heard the horses' hoofs clatter on what he imagined to be the stones of a courtyard. The carriage stopped. Pomerantseff opened the door himself, and assisted the blindfolded priest to alight.

"There are five steps," he said as he held the Abbé by the arm. "Take care."

The Abbé stumbled up the five steps. They had now entered a house, and Gérard imagined to himself it was probably some old hotel, like the Hôtel Pimodan, where Gautier, Beaudelaire, and others at one time were wont to assemble to disperse the cares of life in the fumes of opium. When they had proceeded a few yards, Pomerantseff warned him that they were about to ascend a staircase, and up many shallow steps they went, the Abbé regretting every instant more and more that he had allowed his vulgar curiosity to lead him into an adventure which could be productive of nothing but ridicule and shattered nerves. When at length they had reached the top of the stairs, the Prince guided him by the arm through what the Abbé imagined to be a hall, opened a door, closed and locked it after them, walked on again, opened another door, which he closed and locked likewise, and over which the Abbé heard him pull a heavy curtain. The Prince then took him again by the arm, advanced him a few steps, and said in a low whisper,[Pg 230] "Remain quietly standing where you are, and do not attempt to remove the pocket handkerchief until you hear voices."

The Abbé folded his arms and stood motionless while he heard the Prince walk away a few yards. It was evident to the unfortunate priest that the room in which he stood was not dark, for although he could see nothing, owing to the pocket handkerchief, which had been bound most skilfully over his eyes, there was a sensation of being in strong light, and his cheeks and hands felt, as it were, illuminated. Suddenly a horrible sound sent a chill of terror through him—a gentle noise as of naked flesh touching the waxed floor—and before he could recover from the shock occasioned by the sound, the voices of many men, voices of men groaning or wailing in some hideous ecstasy, broke the stillness, crying—"Father of all sin and crime, Prince of all despair and anguish, come to us, we implore thee!"

The Abbé, wild with terror, tore off the pocket handkerchief. He found himself in a large, old-fashioned room, panelled up to the lofty ceiling with oak, and filled with great light, shed from innumerable tapers fitted into sconces on the wall—light which, though naturally soft, was almost fierce by reason of its greatness, for it proceeded from at least two hundred tapers. He had then been after all right in his conjectures: he was evidently in a chamber of some one of the many old-fashioned hotels which are to be seen in the Ile St. Louis, and indeed in all the antiquated quarters of Paris. It was reassuring, at all events, to know one was not in Hades, and to feel tolerably certain that a sergeant de ville could not be many yards distant. All this passed into his comprehension like a flash of lightning, for hardly had the bandage left his eyes ere his whole attention was riveted upon a group before him.

Twelve men—Pomerantseff among the number—of all ages, from twenty-five to fifty-five, all dressed in evening dress, and all, so far as one could judge at such a moment, men of culture and refinement, knelt or rather lay nearly prone upon the floor, with hands linked. They were bowing forward and kissing the floor—which might account for the strange sound heard by Gérard—and their faces were illuminated with a light of hellish ecstasy—half distorted as if in pain, half smiling as if in triumph. The Abbé's eyes instinctively sought out the Prince. He was the last on the left hand side, and while his left hand grasped that of his neighbor, his right was sweeping nervously over the floor as if seeking to animate the boards. His face was more calm than those of the others, but of a deadly pallor, and the violet tints about the mouth and temples showed he was suffering from intense emotion. They were all, each one after his own fashion, praying aloud, or rather moaning, as they writhed in ecstatic adoration.

"Oh, Father of Evil, come to us!"

"Oh, Prince of Endless Desolation, who sitteth by the bed of suicides, we adore thee!"

"Oh, creator of eternal anguish! oh, king of cruel pleasures and famishing desires, we worship thee!"

"Come to us, with thy foot upon the hearts of widows, thy hair lucid with the slaughter of innocence, and thy brow wreathed with the chaplet of despair!"

The heart of the Abbé turned cold and sick as these beings, hardly human by reason of their great mental exaltation, swayed before him.

Suddenly—or rather the full conception of the fact was sudden, for the influence had been gradually stealing over him—he felt a terrible coldness, a coldness more piercing than any he had before experienced even in Russia; and with the coldness there came to him the certain knowledge of the presence of some new being in the room. Withdrawing his eyes from the semi-circle of men, who did not seem to be aware of his, the Abbé's, presence, and who ceased not in their blasphemies,[Pg 231] he turned them slowly around, and as he did so they fell upon a newcomer, a thirteenth, who seemed to spring into existence from the air before his very eyes.

He was a young man of apparently twenty, very tall, with bright golden hair falling from his forehead like a girl's. He was dressed in evening dress, and his cheeks were flushed as if with wine or pleasure, but from his eyes there gleamed a look of inexpressible sadness, of intense despair. The group of men had evidently become aware of his presence at the same moment, for they all fell prone upon the floor adoring, and their words were now no longer words of invocation, but words of praise and worship. The Abbé was frozen with horror; there was no room in his breast for the lesser emotion of fear; indeed, the horror was so great and all-absorbing as to charm and hold him spellbound. He could not remove his eyes from the thirteenth, who stood before him calmly, with a faint smile playing over his intellectual and aristocratic face—a smile which only added to the intensity of the despair gleaming in his clear blue eyes. Gérard was struck first with the sadness, then with the beauty, and then with the intellectual vigor of that marvellous countenance. The expression was not unkind: haughtiness and pride could be read only in the high-bred features, short upper lip, and nobly moulded limbs; for the face betokened, save for the flush upon the cheeks, only great sadness. The eyes were fixed upon those of Gérard, and he felt their soft, subtle, intense light penetrate into every nook and cranny of his soul and being. This being simply stood and gazed upon the priest as the worshippers grew more wild, more blasphemous, more cruel. The Abbé could think of nothing but the face before him, and the great desolation that lay folded over it as a veil. He could think of no prayer, although he could remember there were prayers. Was this despair—the despair of a man drowning in sight of land—being shed into him from the sad blue eyes? Was it despair, or was it death? Ah, no; not death. Death was peaceful, and this was violent and lively. Was there no refuge, no mercy, no salvation anywhere? Perhaps, but he could not remember while those sad blue eyes still gazed upon him. He could not remember, and still he could not entirely forget. He felt that help would come to him if he sought it, and yet he could hardly tell how to seek it. Moreover, by degrees the blue eyes—it seemed as if their color, their great blueness, had some fearful power—began pouring into him a more hideous pleasure. It was the ecstasy of great pain, becoming a delight, the ecstasy of being beyond all hope and of being thus enabled to look with scorn upon the author of hope. The blue eyes still gazed sadly with a soft smile of despair upon him. Gérard knew that in another moment he would not sink, faint, or fall, but that he would—oh, much worse!—he would smile. At this very instant a name—a familiar name, and one which the infernal worshippers had made frequent use of, but which he had never remarked before—struck his ear; the name of Christ. Where had he heard it? He could not tell. It was the name of a young man; he could remember that, and nothing more. Again the name sounded—"Christ." There was another word like Christ which seemed at some time to have brought an idea first of great suffering and then of great peace. Aye, peace, but no pleasure. No delight like this shed from these marvellous blue eyes. Again the name sounded—"Christ."

Ah! the other word was cross (croix). He remembered now; along thing with a short thing across it.

Was it that as he thought of these things the charm of the blue eyes and their great sadness lessened in intensity? We dare not say, but as some faint conception of what a cross was flitted through the Abbé's brain, although he could think of no prayer,[Pg 232] of no distinct use of this cross, he drew his right hand slowly up, and feebly made the sign across his breast.

The vision vanished.

The men adoring ceased their clamor, and lay crouched up against each other as if some strong electric power had been taken from them, and great weakness had succeeded. But for a moment; and then they rose trembling and with loosened hands, and stood for an instant feebly gazing at the Abbé, who felt faint and exhausted, and heeded them not. With extraordinary presence of mind, the Prince walked quickly up to him, pushed him out of the door by which they had entered, followed him, and locked the door behind them, thus precluding the possibility of being immediately pursued by the others. Once in the next room, the Abbé and Pomerantseff paused for an instant to recover breath, for the swiftness of their flight had exhausted them, worn out as they both were mentally and physically; but during this brief interval the Prince, who appeared to be retaining his presence of mind by a merely mechanical effort, carefully replaced over his friend's eyes the bandage which the Abbé held tightly grasped in his hand. Then he led him on, and it was not until the cold air struck them that they noticed they had left their hats behind.

"N'importe!" muttered Pomerantseff. "It would be dangerous to return"; and hurrying the Abbé into the carriage which awaited them, he bade the coachman speed them away "au grand galop!"

Not a word was spoken; the Abbé lay back as one in a swoon, and heeded nothing until he felt the carriage stop, and the Prince uncovered his eyes and told him he had reached home. He alighted in silence, and passed into his house without a word. How he reached his apartment he never knew, but the following morning found him raging with fever and delirious. When he had sufficiently recovered, after the lapse of a few days, to admit of his reading the numerous letters awaiting his attention, one was put into his hand which had been brought on the second night after the one of the memorable séance. It ran as follows:

"Jockey Club, January 26, 186-.

"Mon cher Abbé: I am afraid our little adventure was too much for you; in fact, I myself was very unwell all yesterday, and nothing but a Russian bath has pulled me together. I can hardly wonder at this, however, for I have never in my life been present at so powerful a séance, and you may comfort yourself with the reflection that Son Altesse has never honored any one with his presence for so long a space of time before. Never fear about your illness; it is merely nervous exhaustion, and you will be well soon; but such evenings must not often be indulged in if you are not desirous of shortening your life. I shall hope to meet you at Mme. de Metternich's on Monday.

"Tout à vous,


Whether or no Gérard was sufficiently recovered to meet his friend at the Austrian embassy on the evening named, we do not know, nor does it concern us; but he is certainly enjoying excellent health now, and is no less charming than before his extraordinary adventure.

Such is the true story of a meeting with the devil in Paris not many years ago; a story true in every particular, as can be easily proved by a direct application to any of the persons concerned in it, for they are all living still. The key to the enigma we cannot find, for we certainly do not put faith in any of the theories of spiritualists; but that an apparition such as we have described did appear in the way and under the circumstances we have described, is a fact, and we must leave the satisfactory solution of the difficulty to more profound psychologists than ourselves.

[Pg 233]



Probably no play of Shakespeare's, probably no other play or poem of a high degree of merit, is so much neglected as "Troilus and Cressida" is. I have met intelligent readers of Shakespeare, who thought themselves unusually well acquainted with his writings, and who were so, who understood him and delighted in him, but who yet had never read "Troilus and Cressida." They had, in one way and another, got the notion that it is a very inferior play, and not worth reading, or at least not to be read until after they were tired of all the others—a time which had not yet come. There seems to be a slur cast upon this play; the reason of which is its very undramatic character, and the consequent non-appearance of its name in theatrical records. No one has heard of any actor's or actress's appearance, even in the last century, as one of the personages in "Troilus and Cressida." Its name has not been upon the playbills for generations, although even "Love's Labor's Lost" has once in a while been performed. Hence it is almost unknown, except to the thorough Shakespearian readers, who are very few; fewer now, in proportion to the largely increased leisurely and instructed classes, than they were two hundred years ago, much to the shame of our vaunted popular education and diffusion of knowledge. And yet this neglected drama is one of its author's great works; in one respect his greatest. "Troilus and Cressida" is Shakespeare's wisest play in the way of worldly wisdom. It is filled choke-full of sententious, and in most cases slightly satirical revelations of human nature, uttered with a felicity of phrase and an impressiveness of metaphor that make each one seem like a beam of light shot into the recesses of man's heart. Such are these:

In the reproof of chance
Lies the true proof of men.
The wound of peace is surety;
Surety secure; but modest doubt is called
The beacon of the wise.
What is aught, but as 'tis valued?
'Tis mad idolatry
To make the service greater than the god.
A stirring dwarf we do allowance give
Before a sleeping giant.
'Tis certain greatness once fall'n out with fortune
Must fall out with men too; what the declin'd is
He shall as soon read in the eyes of others
As feel in his own fall; for men, like butterflies,
Show not their mealy wings but to the summer;
And not a man, for being simply man,
Hath any honor.

Besides passages like these, there are others of which the wisdom is inextricably interwoven with the occasion. One would think that the wealth of such a mine would be daily passing from mouth to mouth as the current coin of speech; and yet of all Shakespeare's acknowledged plays, there are only two, "The Comedy of Errors" and "The Winter's Tale," which do not furnish more to our store of familiar quotations than this play does, rich though it is with Shakespeare's ripest thought and most splendid utterance. And yet by a strange compensating chance, it furnishes the most often quoted line; a line which not one in a million of those that use it ever saw where Shakespeare wrote it, or if they had any brains behind their eyes, they would not use it as they do. For by another strange chance it happens that this line is entirely perverted from the meaning which Shakespeare gave it. As it is constantly quoted, it is not Shakespeare's. The line is:

One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.

This has come to be always quoted with the meaning implied in the following indication of emphasis: "One[Pg 234] touch of nature makes the whole world kin." Shakespeare wrote no such sentimental twaddle. Least of all did he write it in this play, in which his pen "pierces to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." The line which has been thus perverted into an exposition of sentimental brotherhood among all mankind, is on the contrary one of the most cynical utterances of an undisputable moral truth, disparaging to the nature of all mankind, that ever came from Shakespeare's pen. Achilles keeps himself aloof from his fellow Greeks, and takes no part in the war, sure that his fame for valor will be untarnished. Ulysses contrives to provoke him into a discussion, and tells him that his great deeds will be forgotten and his fame fade into mere shadow, and that some new man will take his place, unless he does something from time to time to keep his glory bright. For men forget the great thing that was done, in favor of the less that is done now.

For time is like a fashionable host
That slightly shakes his parting guest by the hand,
And with his arms outstretched as he would fly,
Grasps in the comer. Welcome ever smiles,
And farewell goes out sighing. O let not virtue seek
Remuneration for the thing it was;
For beauty, wit,
High birth, vigor of bone, desert in service,
Love, friendship, charity, are subjects all
To envious and calumniating time.

And then he immediately adds that there is one point on which all men are alike, one touch of human nature which shows the kindred of all mankind—that they slight familiar merit and prefer trivial novelty. The next lines to those quoted above are:

One touch of nature makes the whole world kin,
That all with one consent praise new-born gauds.
Though they are made and moulded of things past;
And give to dust that is a little gilt
More sand than gilt oe'rdusted.

The meaning is too manifest to need or indeed to admit a word of comment, and it is brought out by this emphasis: "One touch of nature makes the whole world kin"—that one touch of their common failing being an uneasy love of novelty. Was ever poet's or sage's meaning so perverted, so reversed! And yet it is hopeless to think of bringing about a change in the general use of this line and a cessation of its perversion to sentimental purposes, not to say an application of it as the scourge for which it was wrought; just as it is hopeless to think of changing by any demonstration of unfitness and unmeaningness a phrase in general use—the reason being that the mass of the users are utterly thoughtless and careless of the right or the wrong, the fitness or the unfitness, of the words that come from their mouths, except that they serve their purpose for the moment. That done, what care they? And what can we expect, when even the "Globe" edition of Shakespeare's works has upon its very title-page and its cover a globe with a band around it, on which is written this line in its perverted sense, that sense being illustrated, enforced, and deepened into the general mind by the union of the band-ends by clasped hands. I absolve, of course, the Cambridge editors of the guilt of this twaddling misuse of Shakespeare's line; it was a mere publisher's contrivance; but I am somewhat surprised that they should have even allowed it such sanction as it has from its appearance on the same title-page with their names.

The undramatic character of "Troilus and Cressida," which has been already mentioned, appears in its structure, its personages, and its purpose. We are little interested in the fate of its personages, not merely because we know what is to become of them, for that we know in almost any play which has an historical subject; but the play is constructed upon such a slight plot that it really has neither dramatic motive nor dramatic movement. The loves of "Troilus and Cressida" are of a kind which are interesting[Pg 235] only to the persons directly involved in them; Achilles's sulking is of even less interest; and the death of Hector affects us only like a newspaper announcement of the death of some distinguished person, so little is he really involved in the action of the drama. There is also a singular lack of that peculiar characteristic of Shakespeare's dramatic style, the marked distinction and nice discrimination of the individual traits, mental and moral, of the various personages. Ulysses is the real hero of the play; the chief, or at least the great purpose of which is the utterance of the Ulyssean view of life; and in this play Shakespeare is Ulysses, or Ulysses Shakespeare. In all his other plays Shakespeare so lost his personal consciousness in the individuality of his own creations that they think and feel as well as act like real men and women other than their creator, so that we cannot truly say of the thoughts and feelings which they express, that Shakespeare says thus or so; for it is not Shakespeare who speaks, but they with his lips. But in Ulysses, Shakespeare, acting upon a mere hint, filling up a mere traditionary outline, drew a man of mature years, of wide observation, of profoundest cogitative power, one who knew all the weakness and all the wiles of human nature, and who yet remained with blood unbittered and soul unsoured—a man who saw through all shams and fathomed all motives, and who yet was not scornful of his kind, not misanthropic, hardly cynical except in passing moods; and what other man was this than Shakespeare himself? What had he to do when he had passed forty years but to utter his own thoughts when he would find words for the lips of Ulysses? And thus it is that "Troilus and Cressida" is Shakespeare's wisest play. If we would know what Shakespeare thought of men and their motives after he reached maturity, we have but to read this drama; drama it is, but with what other character who shall say? For, like the world's pageant, it is neither tragedy nor comedy, but a tragi-comic history, in which the intrigues of amorous men and light-o'-loves and the brokerage of panders are mingled with the deliberations of sages and the strife and the death of heroes.

The thoughtful reader will observe that Ulysses pervades the serious parts of the play, which is all Ulyssean in its thought and language. And this is the reason or rather the fact of the play's lack of distinctive characterization. For Ulysses cannot speak all the time that he is on the stage; and therefore the other personages, such as may, speak Ulyssean, with, of course, such personal allusion and peculiar trick as a dramatist of Shakespeare's skill could not leave them without for difference. For example, no two men could be more unlike in character than Achilles and Ulysses, and yet the former, having asked the latter what he is reading, he, uttering his own thought, says as follows with the subsequent reply:

Ulyss.—A strange fellow here
Writes me: That man, how dearly ever parted,[9]
How much in having, or without or in,
Cannot make boast to have that which he hath
Nor feels not what he owes but by reflection,
As when his virtues shining upon others
Heat them, and they retort that heat again
To the first giver.
Achil.—This is not strange, Ulysses.
The beauty that is borne here in the face
The bearer knows not, but commends itself
To others' eyes; nor doth the eye itself,
That most pure spirit of sense, behold itself,
Not going from itself; but eye to eye opposed,
Salutes each other with each other's form,
For speculation turns not to itself
Till it hath travelled and is mirror'd there
Where it may see itself. This is not strange at all.

Now these speeches are made of the same metal and coined in the same mint; and they both of them have the image and superscription of William Shakespeare. No words or thoughts could be more unsuited to that bold, bloody egoist, "the broad Achilles," than the reply he makes to Ulysses; but here Shakespeare was merely using the Greek champion as a lay figure to utter his own thoughts, which[Pg 236] are perfectly in character with the son of Autolycus. Ulysses thus flows over upon the whole serious part of the play. Agamemnon, Nestor, Æneus, and the rest all talk alike, and all like Ulysses. That Ulysses speaks for Shakespeare will, I think, be doubted by no reader who has reached the second reading of this play by the way which I have pointed out to him. And why, indeed, should Ulysses not speak for Shakespeare, or how could it be other than that he should? The man who had written "Hamlet," "King Lear," "Othello," and "Macbeth," if he wished to find Ulysses, had only to turn his mind's eye inward; and thus we have in this drama Shakespeare's only piece of introspective work.

But there is another personage who gives character to this drama, and who is of a very different sort. Thersites sits with Caliban high among Shakespeare's minor triumphs. He was brought in to please the mob. He is the Fool of the piece, fulfilling the functions of Touchstone, and Launce, and Launcelot, and Costard. As the gravediggers were brought into "Hamlet" for the sake of the groundlings, so Thersites came into "Troilus and Cressida." As if that he might leave no form of human utterance ungilded by his genius, Shakespeare in Thersites has given us the apotheosis of blackguardism and billingsgate. Thersites is only a railing rascal. Some low creatures are mere bellies with no brain. Thersites is merely mouth, but this mouth has just enough coarse brain above it to know a wise man and a fool when he sees them. But the railings of this deformed slave are splendid. Thersites is almost as good as Falstaff. He is of course a far lower organization intellectually, and somewhat lower, perhaps, morally. He is coarser in every way; his humor, such as he has, is of the grossest kind; but still his blackguardism is the ideal of vituperation. He is far better than Apemantus in "Timon of Athens," for there is no hypocrisy in him, no egoism, and, comfortable trait in such a personage, no pretence of gentility. For good downright "sass" in its most splendid and aggressive form, there is in literature nothing equal to the speeches of Thersites.

"Troilus and Cressida" is also remarkable for its wide range of style, because of which it is a play of great interest to the student of Shakespeare, who here adapted his style to the character of the matter in hand. The lighter parts remind us of his earlier manner; the graver are altogether in his later. He did this unconsciously, or almost unconsciously, we may be sure. None the less, however, is the play therefore valuable in a critical point of view, but rather the more so. It is a standing and an undeniable warning to us not to lean too much upon any one special trait of style in estimating the time in Shakespeare's life at which a play was produced. Moreover it illustrates the natural course of style development, showing that it is not only gradual, but not by regular degrees; that is, that a writer does not pass at one period absolutely from one style to another, dropping his previous manner and taking on another, but that he will at one time unconsciously recur to his former manner or manners, and at a late period show traces of his early manner. Strata of his old fashion thrust themselves up through the newer formation. "Troilus and Cressida" is so remarkable in this respect that the chief of the absolute-period critics, the Rev. Mr. Fleay, has been obliged to invent a most extraordinary theory to account for it. His view is that there are three plots interwoven, each of which is distinct in manner of treatment, and, moreover, that each of these was composed at a different time from the other two. He would have us believe that the parts embodying the Troilus and Cressida story were written in Shakespeare's earliest period, those concerning Hector in his middle period, and the Ajax parts in the last. That these three stories[Pg 237] were interwoven is manifest; but they came naturally together in this Greek historical play—for it is that—and their interweaving was hardly to have been avoided; the manner of each is not distinct from that of the other, although there is, with likeness, a noticeable unlikeness; but the notion that therefore Shakespeare first wrote the Troilus and Cressida part as a play, and then years afterward added the Hector part, and again years afterward the Ajax and Ulysses part, seems to me only a monstrous contrivance of an honest and an able man in desperate straits to make his theory square with fact. As to detail upon this subject, I shall only notice one point. Tag-rhymes, or rhymed couplets ending a scene or a speech in blank verse or in prose, are regarded by the metre-critics (and justly within reason) as marks of an early date of composition. Now in "Troilus and Cressida" these abound. It contains more of them than any other play, except one or two of the very earliest. The important point, however, is that these rhymes appear no less in the Ulysses and Ajax scenes of the play than in the others—a sufficient warning against putting absolute trust in such evidence.

Among those few of Shakespeare's plays which are least often read is "All's Well that Ends Well." This one, however, is to the earnest student one of the most interesting of the thirty-seven which bear his name; not only because it contains some of his best and most thoughtful work, but because, being Shakespeare's all through, it is written in two distinct styles—styles so distinct that there can be no doubt that as it has come down to us it is the product of two distinct periods of his dramatic life, and those the most distant, the first and the last. Its singularity in this respect gives it a peculiar value to the student of Shakespeare's style and of his mental development. There is not an interweaving of styles as in "Troilus and Cressida"; the two are distinctly separable; and there is external historical evidence which supports the internal.

We have a record in Francis Meres's "Palladis Tamia" of a play by Shakespeare called "Love's Labor's Won"; and there is no reasonable doubt that that was the first name of "All's Well that Ends Well." As the "Palladis Tamia" was published in 1598, this play was produced before that year, and all the evidence, internal and external, goes to show that Shakespeare wrote it soon after "Love's Labor's Lost," and as a counterpart to that comedy. The difference of its style in various parts had been remarked upon in general terms; but I believe that this difference was first specially indicated in the following passage, which I cannot do better here than to quote from the introduction to my edition of the play published in 1857; and I do so with the greater freedom because the particular traits which it discriminated have been lately, in the present year, insisted upon by the Rev. Mr. Fleay, in his very useful and suggestive, but not altogether to be trusted "Shakespeare Manual," to which I have before referred.

"It is to be observed that passages of rhymed couplets, in which the thought is somewhat constrained and its expression limited by the form of the verse, are scattered freely through the play, and that these are found side by side with passages of blank verse in which the thought, on the contrary, so entirely dominates the form, and overloads and weighs it down, as to produce the impression that the poet, in writing them, was almost regardless of the graces of his art, and merely sought an expression of his ideas in the most compressed and elliptical form. The former trait is characteristic of his youthful style; the latter marks a certain period of his maturer years. Contracted words, which Shakespeare used more freely in his later than in his earlier works, abound; and in some passages words are used in an esoteric sense, which is distinctive of the poet's style about the time[Pg 238] when 'Measure for Measure' was produced. Note, for instance, the use of 'succeed' in 'owe and succeed thy weakness,' in Act II., Sc. 4 of that play, and in 'succeed thy father in manners,' Act I., Sc. 1 of this. It is to be observed also that the advice given by the Countess to Bertram when he leaves Rousillon is so like that of Polonius to Laertes in a similar situation, that either the latter is an expansion of the former, or the former a reminiscence of the latter; and as the passage is written in the later style, the second supposition appears the more probable. Finally, it is worthy of remark that both the French officers who figure in this play as First Lord and Second Lord are somewhat strangely named Dumain, and that in 'Love's Labor's Lost' Dumain is also the name of that one of the three attendants and brothers in love of the King who has a post in the army; which, when taken in connection with other circumstances, is at least a hint of some relation between the two plays."

If the reader who has gone thoughtfully through the plays in the course which I have indicated will take up this one, he will find in the very first scene evidence and illustration of these views. It is almost entirely in prose, which itself shows the weight of Shakespeare's mature hand. The first blank verse is the speech of the Countess, in which she gives a mother's counsel to Bertram as he is setting out for the wars, as is pointed out above, and which is unmistakably of the "Hamlet" period. Then comes a speech by Helen beginning,

O were that all! I think not on my father:
And these great tears grace his remembrance more
Than those I shed for him—

and ending with this charming passage, referring to the growth of her love for Bertram:

'Twas pretty, though a plague,
To see him every hour; to sit and draw
His arched brows, his hawking eye, his curls
In our heart's table; heart too capable
Of every line and trick of his sweet favor:
But now he's gone, and my idolatrous fancy
Must sanctify his reliques. Who comes here?

It is needless to say to the advanced student of Shakespeare's style that this is in his later manner. A little further on is Helen's speech to the detestable Parolles, beginning with the mutilated line, "Not my virginity yet," which is followed by some ten, in which she pours out in Euphuistic phrase her love for Bertram, saying that he has in her "a mother, and a mistress, and a friend, a counsellor, a traitress, and a dear"; and yet further,

His humble ambition, proud humility,
His jarring concord, and his discord dulcet,
His faith, his sweet disaster, with a world
Of pretty, fond, adoptious Christendoms
That blinking Cupid gossips.

This will remind the reader of Scott's Euphuist, Sir Piercie Shafton, who, if I remember aright, uses some of these very phrases, in which Shakespeare has beaten Lilly at his own weapons, and made his affected phraseology the vehicle of the touching utterance of real feeling. "Euphues" was published in 1580, when Shakespeare was only sixteen years old; and this passage, although it may have been written or perhaps altered later, was probably a part of the play as it was first produced. The scene ends with the following speech by Helen, which, for its peculiar characteristics, is worth quoting entire. The reader who will compare it with "Love's Labor's Lost" and "A Midsummer Night's Dream" will have not a moment's doubt as to the time when it was written:

Our remedies oft in ourselves do lie
Which we ascribe to heaven: the fated sky
Gives us free scope, only doth backward pull
Our slow designs when we ourselves are dull.
What power is it which mounts my love so high
That makes me see and cannot feed mine eye?
The mightiest space in fortune nature brings
To join like likes and kiss like native things.
Impossible be strange attempts to those
That weigh their pains in sense and do suppose
What hath been cannot be: whoever strove
To show her merit that did miss her love?
The king's disease—my project may deceive me,
But my intents are fixed and will not leave me.

Besides its formal construction and its rhyme, this passage is overmuch afflicted with youngness to be accepted as the product of any other than[Pg 239] Shakespeare's very earliest period. Of like quality to this are other passages scattered through the play. For example, the Countess's speech, Act I., Sc. 3, beginning, "Even so it was with me"; all the latter part of Act II., Sc. 1, from Helen's speech, "What I can do," etc., to the end, seventy lines; passages in the third scene of this act, which the reader cannot now fail at once to detect for himself; Helen's letter, Act III., Sc. 4, and Parolles's, Act IV., Sc. 3; and various passages in the last act. Shakespeare, I have no doubt, wrote this play at first nearly all in rhyme in the earliest years of his dramatic life, and afterward, late in his career, possibly on two occasions, rewrote it and gave it a new name; using prose, to save time and labor, in those passages the elevation of which did not require poetical treatment, and in those which were suited to such treatment giving us true, although not highly finished specimens of his grand style.

A few of the plays now remain unnoticed; but our purpose is accomplished without further particular remark. The reader who has gone thus far with me needs me no longer as a guide. The Roman plays, "Coriolanus," "Julius Cæsar," and "Antony and Cleopatra," particularly the last, should now receive his careful attention. In "The Winter's Tale," "The Tempest," and "Henry VIII." he will find the very last productions of Shakespeare's pen, and in the first and the third of these he will find marks of hasty work both in the versification and in the construction; but the touch of the master is unmistakable quite through them all, and "The Tempest" is one of the most perfect of his works in all respects. No true lover of Shakespeare should neglect the Sonnets, although many do neglect them. They are inferior to the plays; but only to them.

As to helps to the understanding of Shakespeare, those who can understand him at all need none except a good critical edition. And by a good critical edition I mean only one which gives a good text, with notes where they are needed upon obscure constructions, obsolete words or phrases, manners and customs, and the like. Of the plays in the Clarendon Press series, "The Merchant of Venice," "Richard II.," "Macbeth," "Hamlet," and "King Lear," better editions cannot be had, particularly for readers inexperienced in verbal criticism. Those who find any difficulty which the notes to those editions do not explain may be pretty sure that, with the exception of a very few passages the corruption of which is admitted on all hands, the trouble is not with Shakespeare or the editor. Shakespeare read in the way which I have indicated, and with the help of such an edition, has a high educating value, and in particular will give the reader an insight into the English language, if not a mastery of it, that is worth a course of all the text-books of grammar and rhetoric that have been written ten times over. As to editions, I shall give only one caution. Do not get Dyce's. Mr. Dyce was a scholar, a man of fine taste, most thoroughly read in English literature, particularly in that of the Elizabethan period. He was a man for whom I had a very high respect, and whom I had reason to regard with a somewhat warmer feeling than that of a mere literary acquaintance. This and my deference to his age and his position prevented me from saying during his life what there is no reason that I should not say now—that in my opinion he was one of the most unsuccessful of Shakespeare's editors. His edition is one of the worst that has been published in the last century, both for its text and, except as to their learning, for its notes. With all my deferential respect for him,[10] I was prepared for this result before the appearance of the first of his three editions. Being in correspondence with him, and on such terms that I could make such a request, I asked him to send me some[Pg 240] sheets of his edition while it was passing through the press. He replied that he could not do this; but the reason that he gave was, not any unwillingness to confide them to me, but that it was then impossible, because after his edition was half struck off he had cancelled the greater part of it on account of changes in his opinions as to the reading of so many passages! And this after he was well in years; after having passed his life in the study of Elizabethan literature; and after having edited Beaumont and Fletcher! I was never more amazed. Such a man could have no principles of criticism. How could he guide others who after such study was not sure of his own way? With all his knowledge of the literature and the literary history of the Elizabethan period, he seemed to lack the power of putting himself in sympathy with Shakespeare as he wrote. Hence the crudity and incongruity of his text, his vacillating opinions, and the weakness and poverty of his annotation.

Of criticism of what has been called the higher kind, I recommend the reading of very little, or better, none at all. Read Shakespeare; seek aid to understand his language, if that be in any way obscure to you; but that once comprehended, apprehension of his purpose and meaning will come untold to those who can attain it in any way. In my own edition I avoided as much as possible the introduction of æsthetic criticism, not because I felt incapable of writing it; for it is easy work; on the contrary, I freely essayed it when it was necessary as an aid to the settlement of the text, or of like questions; and by its use I think that I succeeded in establishing some points of importance. But in my judgment the duty of an editor is performed when he puts the reader, as nearly as possible, in the same position, for the apprehension of his author's meaning, that he would have occupied if he had been contemporary with him and had received from him a correct copy of his writings. More than this seems to me to verge upon impertinence. Upon this point I find myself supported by William Aldis Wright,[11] who is in my judgment the ablest of all the living editors of Shakespeare; who brings to his task a union of scholarship, critical judgment, and common sense, which is very rare in any department of literature, and particularly in Shakespearian criticism, and whose labors in this department of letters are small and light in comparison with the graver studies in which he is constantly engaged. He, in the preface to his lately published edition of "King Lear" in the Clarendon Press series, says: "It has been objected to the editions of Shakespeare's plays in the Clarendon Press series that the notes are too exclusively of a verbal character, and that they do not deal with æsthetic, or as it is called, the higher criticism. So far as I have had to do with them, I frankly confess that æsthetic notes have been deliberately and intentionally omitted, because one main object in these editions is to induce those for whom they are especially designed to read and study Shakespeare himself, and not to become familiar with opinions about him. Perhaps, too, it is because I cannot help experiencing a certain feeling of resentment when I read such notes, that I am unwilling to intrude upon others what I should regard myself as impertinent. They are in reality too personal and objective, and turn the commentator into a showman. With such sign-post criticism I have no sympathy. Nor do I wish to add to the awful amazement which must possess the soul of Shakespeare when he knows of the manner in which his works have been tabulated, and classified, and labelled with a purpose, after the most approved method, like modern tendenzschriften. Such criticism applied to Shakespeare is nothing less than gross anachronism."

[Pg 241]

Not a little of the Shakespearian criticism of this kind that exists is the mere result of an effort to say something fine about what needs no such gilding, no such prism-play of light to enhance or to bring out its beauties. I will not except from these remarks much of what Coleridge himself has written about Shakespeare. But the German critics whom he emulated are worse than he is. Avoid them. The German pretence that Germans have taught us folk of English blood and speech to understand Shakespeare is the most absurd and arrogant that could be set up. Shakespeare owes them nothing; and we have received from them little more than some maundering mystification and much ponderous platitude. Like the western diver, they go down deeper and stay down longer than other critics, but like him too they come up muddier. Above all of them, avoid Ulrici and Gervinus. The first is a mad mystic, the second a very literary Dogberry, endeavoring to comprehend all vagrom men, and bestowing his tediousness upon the world with a generosity that surpasses that of his prototype. Both of them thrust themselves and their "fanned and winnowed opinions" upon him in such an obtrusive way that if he could come upon the earth again and take his pen in his hand, I would not willingly be in the shoes of either. He would hand them down to posterity the laughing stock of men for ever.

Not Shakespeare only has suffered from this sort of criticism. The great musicians fare ill at their hands. One of them, Schlüter, writing of Mozart, says of his E flat, G minor, C (Jupiter) symphonies:

It is evident that these three magnificent works—produced consecutively and at short intervals—are the embodiment of one train of thought pursued with increasing ardor; so that taken as a whole they form a grand trilogy.... These three grandest of Mozart's symphonies (the first lyrical, the second tragic-pathetic, and the third of ethical import) correspond to his three greatest operas, "Figaro," "Don Giovanni," and "Die Zauberflöte."

Now, I venture to say, that there is no such consecutive train of thought, and no such correspondence. Ethical import in the Jupiter and in the "Zauberflöte," and correspondence between them! Mozart did not evolve musical elephants out of his moral consciousness. But a German professor of esthetik is not happy until he has discovered a trilogy and an inner life. Those found, he goes off with ponderous serenity into the ewigkeit.

I have been asked, apropos of these articles, to give some advice as to the formation of Shakespeare clubs. The best thing that can be done about that matter is to let it alone entirely. According to my observation, Shakespeare clubs do not afford their members any opportunities of study or even of enjoyment of his works which are not attainable otherwise. And how should they do so except by the formation of libraries for the use of their members? In this respect they may be of some use, but not of much. Few books, a very few, are necessary for the intelligent and earnest student of Shakespeare, and those almost every such student can obtain for himself. As I have said, a good critical edition is all that is required; and whoever desires to wander into the wilderness of Shakespearian commentary will find in the public libraries ample opportunities of doing so. I have observed that those who read Shakespeare most and understand him best do not use even critical editions, except for occasional reference, but take the text by itself, pure and simple. An edition with a good text, brief introductions to each play, giving only ascertained facts, and a few notes, glossological and historical, at the foot of the page, is still a desideratum. Quiet reading with such an edition as this at hand will do more good than all the Shakespeare clubs ever established have done. I have seen something of such associations; and I have observed in them a tendency on one hand to a feeble and fussy literary antiquarianism, and on the other to conviviality; a thing not bad in itself, and indeed, within[Pg 242] bounds, much better than the other; but which has as little to do as that has (and it could not have less) with an intelligent study of Shakespeare. There is hardly anything less admirable to a reasonable creature than the assemblage at stated times of a number of semi-literary people to potter over Shakespeare and display before each other their second-hand enthusiasm about "the bard of Avon," as they generally delight to call him. Now, a true lover of Shakespeare never calls him the bard of Avon, or a bard of anything; and he reads him o' nights and ponders over him o' days while he is walking, or smoking, or at night again while he is waking in his bed. If he is too poor to buy a copy offhand, he saves up his pennies till he can get one, and he does not trouble himself about the commentators or the mulberry tree. He would not give two pence to sit in a chair made of it; for he knows that he could not tell it from any other chair, and that it would not help him to understand or to enjoy one line in "Hamlet," or "Lear," or "Othello," or "As You Like It," or "The Tempest." These remarks have no reference of course to such societies as the Shakespeare Societies of London, past and present. They are associations of scholars for the purpose of original investigations, and which they print for the use of their subscribers, and for the republication of valuable and scarce books and papers having a bearing upon Shakespeare and the literary history of his time. We have no such material in this country. Whoever wishes to go profoundly into the study of Shakespearian, or rather of Elizabethan literature, would do well to obtain a set of the old Shakespeare Society's publications, and to become a subscriber to the other Shakespeare society, which is doing good thorough work. Clubs might well be formed for the obtaining of these books and others, for the use of their members who cannot afford or who do not care to buy them for their own individual property; although a book really owned is, I cannot say exactly why, worth more to a reader than one belonging to some one else. But all other Shakespeare clubs are mere vanity. The true Shakespeare lover is a club unto himself.

Richard Grant White.


[9] I. e., gifted, endowed with parts.

[10] See "Shakespeare's Scholar," passim.

[11] Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, and one of the editors of the Cambridge edition.



Dying afar in Brittany,
The gallant Tristram lay;
His gentle bride's sweet ministry,
Her tender touch and way,
That erstwhile brought the rest he sought,
No more held soothing sway.
The naming of her tuneful name,
Isoude—so sweet to hear
Because its music was the same
With one long holden dear—
Now, like a bell discordant, fell,
And brought but mocking cheer.
Her eyne so blue, with lids so white,
Her tresses from their snood,
That rippling ambered all the light
About her where she stood,
Served only now to cloud his brow
Who longed for lost Isoude—
Isoude, who charmed him once when storm
Had blown his ship ashore
On Ireland's coast; Isoude, whose form
Bewitched him more and more,
As mem'ry came, his love to flame,
When hope, alas! was o'er:
Isoude, who sailed with him the sea
Across to Cornwall land,
To marry Mark, whose treachery
Did Tristram's faith command
To win her grace for kingly place,
And his own heart withstand.
On sultry deck becalmed they pine;
Careless, their thirst to ease,
A philter—mixt for bridal wine—
Her lip beguiles, and his:
O subtle draught unconscious quaffed!
They drained it to the lees—
[Pg 243]
Until in Tristram's knightly form
All joy for her seemed blent;
Until her cheek could only warm
Beneath his gaze intent;
Until her heart sought him apart,
Whoever came or went;
Until the potion did beget
An all-enduring spell;
Albeit Cornwall's king now met
And liked her fairness well,
And claimed her hand, while through the land
Rang sound of marriage bell;
Until, as fragrance from a flower,
True love outbrake control,
And dropped its sweetness as a shower
Of pearls, that threadless roll
To find their rest in some near nest;
Her home, Sir Tristram's soul!
And he, though frequent jousts he won;
Though many a valiant deed
Of prowess made his fame outrun
The claim of knightly creed;
Though maidens oft their glances soft
Bestowed in tenderest meed;
Though Brittany upon him prest
A bride, in gratitude
For service done; and though the quest
Of sacred grail subdued
His full heart-beat of smothered heat—
He loved but Queen Isoude!
And now with holy vows all tossed
Of fever's frantic sway—
As mariner whose bark is crossed
Upon a peaceful way
By winds that lure from purpose pure
And well-meant plans bewray—
He bade a trusty servitor
To Cornwall's queen forthwith.
"Take this," he said, "and show to her
How great my languor, sith
This signet's round will not be found
To bear one hurted lith.
"Say that Sir Tristram prays her aid,
And so he prays not vain,
Let sails of silken white be made,
Whose gleam shall heal my pain,
As hither borne some favoring morn,
Love claims his own again!
"But if she yield no heed to these
Fond cravings of love's breath,
Then bearing on the burdened breeze
Let sail that shadoweth,
Of darkest dark, beshroud the bark,
A presage of my death."
So spake the Lord of Lyonesse,
And bode his joy or bale;
While jealous of her right to bless,
The wife Isoude, grown pale
As buds of light that shrink from night,
Made sad and lonely wail:
"Alas! all one the loss to me,
My lord alive or dead,
If life of his by sorcery
Of this fair queen be fed."
Then adding, "Be her answer nay,
Hope yet to hope is wed."
She scanned the sea. On waves of balm
A white sail of rare glow
Came rounding to the harbor's calm
With fullest promise—lo!
Bleak winds arise, as false she cries,
"A black sail entereth slow."
Too weak to battle with his grief,
Sir Tristram breathed a sigh—
"Alack, that Isoude's sweet relief
Should fail me where I lie:
Sith not for me her face to see,
Is but to droop and die."
Black sails are hoisted now in truth!
They wing two forms to rest:
For Cornwall's queen a-cold, in ruth,
Fell prone on Tristram's breast;
And Cornwall's knight for kinsman's right
Of shrine had made request.
A letter lay upon the bier,
And this the word it bare:
"O love is sweet, O love is dear,
And followeth everywhere
Whoso has drained the chalice stained
With its red wine and rare.
"O love is dear, O love is sweet,
And yet, of faith's decree
Would Honor quench beneath stern feet
Love's bloom if that need be.
O King, one wills. But Love distils
His philters fatefully!"
Then did the King in penitence
Weep dole for these two dead.
Some slight remorse had pricked his sense
That he through wile had wed
His best knight's love; alas, to prove
Such end, so ill bestead!
In royal crypt he bade the twain
Be laid; and there a vine,
O'er which the murderous scythe was vain,
Sprang up the graves to twine,
Defying death with its green breath:
True plant of seed divine!
Mary B. Dodge.

[Pg 244]


By Justin McCarthy.



The little town of Dukes-Keeton, in one of the more northern of the midland counties, had in its older days two great claims to consideration. One was a park, the other a sweetmeat. The noble family whose name had passed through many generations of residence at the place had always left their great park so freely open to every one, that it came to be like the common property of the public, and the town had grown into fame by the manufacture of the sweetmeat which bore its name almost everywhere in the track of the meteor-flag of England. But as time went on other places took to manufacturing the sweetmeat so much better, and selling it so much more successfully than "Keeton," as the town was commonly called, could do, that "Keeton" itself had long since retired from the business, and was content to import the delicacy which still bore its own name in consignments of canisters from Manchester or London. During many years the heir of the noble family had deserted the park, and absolutely never came near it or near England even, and everything that gave the town a distinct reason for existence seemed to be passing rapidly into tradition. It had lain out of the track of the railway system for a long time, and when the railway system at length enclosed it in its arms, the attention seemed to have come too late. All the heat of life appeared to have chilled out of Dukes-Keeton in the mean time, and it lay now between two railways almost as inanimate and hopeless a lump as the child to whom the Erl-king's touch is fatal in his father's arms.

The park, with its huge palace-like, barrack-like house, not a castle, and too great to be called merely a hall, lies almost immediately outside the town. From streets and shops the visitor passes straightway through the gates of the great enclosure. Every stranger who has seen the house is taken at once to see another object of interest.

In the centre of the park was a broad, clear space, made by the felling and removing of every tree, until it spread there sharp and hard as a burnt-out patch in a forest. Gravel and small shells made the pavement of this space, and thus formed a new contrast with the turf, the grasses, and the underwood of the park all around. In the midst of this open space there rose a large circular building: a tower low in height when the bulk enclosed by its circumference was considered, and standing on a great square platform of solid masonry with steps on each of its sides. The tower itself reminded one of the tomb of Cecilia Metella, or some other of the tombs that still stand near Rome. It was in fact the mausoleum which it had pleased the father of the present owner to have erected for himself during his lifetime. He lavished money on it, cared nothing for the cost of materials and labor, planned it out himself, watched every detail, and stood by the workmen as they toiled. Within he had prepared a lordly reception-room for his dead body when he should come to die. A superb sarcophagus of porphyry, fit to have received the remains of a Cæsar, was there. When the work was done and all was ready, the lonely owner visited it every day, unlocked its massive gate, and went in, and sat sometimes[Pg 245] for hours in his own mausoleum. He was growing insane, people thought, in these later days, and they counted on his soon becoming an actual madman. So far, however, he showed no greater madness than in wasting his money on a huge tomb, and wasting so much of his time in visiting it prematurely. The tomb proved a vanity in a double sense. For the noble owner was seized with a sudden mania for travel, and resolved to go round the world. Somewhere in mid ocean he was attacked by fever, or what alarmed people called the plague, and he died, and his body had to be committed without much delay or ceremonial to the sea. He had built his monument to no purpose. He was never to occupy it. It stood a vast and solid gibe at the vanity of its founder.

Over the great gate through which the mausoleum was entered were three heads sculptured in stone. One was that of a man in the prime of manhood, with lips and eyebrows contracted and puckered, forehead wrinkled, eyes full of anxious strain, all telling of care, of pain, of sleepless struggle against difficulty, watchfulness to ward off danger. This was Life. The next was the face of the same man with the eyes closed and the cheeks sunken, and the expression of one who had fallen into sleep from pain—the struggle and agony gone indeed, but their shadow still resting on the brows and the lips: and that of course was Death. The third piece of carving showed the same face still, but now with clear eyes looking broadly and brightly forward, and with features all noble, serene, and glad. This was Eternity. These three faces were the wonder and admiration of the neighborhood, and had been for now some years back employed to solve the problem of existence for all the little lads and lasses of Keeton who might otherwise have failed sometimes to see the harmonious purpose working in all things. The sculptor had it all his own way, and took care that Life should have the worst of it. Keeton was in almost all its conditions a place of rather sleepy contentment, and its people could be trusted to take just as much of the moral as was good for them, and not to carry to extremes the lesson as to the discomfort and dissatisfaction of the probationary life-period. Otherwise there might perhaps be a chance that impressionable, not to say morbid, persons would desire to hurry very rapidly through the dark and anxious vestibule of life in order to get into the broad bright temple of Eternity.

Some thought like this was passing through the mind of Miss Minola Grey, who sat on the steps of the tomb and looked up into the faces illustrative of man's struggle and final success. Life had long been wearing a hard and difficult appearance to her, and she would perhaps have been glad enough sometimes if she could have got into the haven of quiet waters which, in the minds of so many people and in so many symbolic representations, is made to stand for Eternity. She was a handsome, graceful girl, rather tall, fair-haired, with deep bluish gray eyes which seemed to darken as they looked earnestly at any one—eyes which might be described in Matthew Arnold's words as "too expressive to be blue, too lovely to be gray"—with a broad forehead, from which the hair was thrown back in disregard of passing fashions. Perhaps it was her attitude, as she leaned her chin upon her hand and looked up at the mausoleum—perhaps it was the presence of that gloomy building itself—that made her face seem like an illustration of melancholy. Certainly her face was pale and a little wanting in fulness, and the lips were of the kind that one can always think of as tremulous with emotion of some kind. This was a beautiful summer evening, and all the park around was green, sunny, and glad. The dry bare spot on which the tomb was built seemed like a gray and withering leaf on a bright branch; and the figure of the[Pg 246] girl was more in keeping with the melancholy shadow of the mausoleum than the joyousness of the sun and the trees and the whole scene all around.

Indeed, there was a good deal of melancholy in the girl's mind at that moment. She was taking leave of the place: had come to say it a farewell. That park had been her playground, her studio, her stage, her world of fancy and romance and poetry since her infancy. She had driven her brother as a horse there, and had played with him at hunting lions. She had studied landscape drawing there from the days when a half staggery stroke with some blotches out of it was supposed to represent a tree, and a thing shaped like the trade-mark on Mr. Bass's beer bottles stood for a mountain. As she grew up she came there to read and to idle and to think. There she revelled in all the boundless fancies and extravagant ambitions of a clever, half-poetic child. There she was in turn the heroine of every book that delighted her, and the heroine of stories which had never been put into print. Heroes of surpassing beauty, strength, courage, and devotion had rambled under these trees for years with her, nor had the new-comer's presence ever been made a cause of jealousy or complaint by the one whom his coming displaced. They were a strange procession of all complexions and garbs. Achilles the golden-haired had been with her in his day, and so had the melancholy Master of Ravenswood: and the young Djalma, the lover of Adrienne of the "Juif Errant," forgotten of English girls to-day; and Nello, the proud gondolier lad with the sweet voice, who was loved by the mother and the daughter of the Aldinis; and the unnamed youth who went mad for Maud; and Henry Esmond, and Stunning Warrington, and Jane Eyre's Rochester, and ever so many else. Each and all of these in turn loved her and was passionately loved by her, and all had done great things for her; and for each she had done far greater things. She had made them victorious, crowned them with laurels, died for them. It was a peculiarity of her temperament that when she read some pathetic story it was not at the tragic passages that her tears came. It was not the deaths that touched her most. It was when she read of bold and generous things suddenly done, of splendid self-sacrifice, of impossible rescue and superhuman heroism, that she could not keep down her feelings, and was glad when only the watching, untelltale trees could see the tears in her eyes.

She had, however, two heroes chief over all the rest, whose story she found it impossible to keep apart, and whom she blended commonly into one odd compound. These were Hamlet and Alceste, the "Misanthrope" of Molière. It was sometimes Alceste who offered to be buried quick with Ophelia in the grave; and it was often Hamlet who interjected his scraps of poetic cynicism between the pretty and scandalous prattlings of Célimène and her petticoaterie. But perhaps Alceste came nearest to the heart of our young maid as she grew up. She said to herself over and over again that "C'est n'estimer rien qu'estimer tout le monde." She refused "d'un cœur la vaste complaisance qui ne fait de mérite aucune différence," and declared that "pour le trancher net l'ami du genre humain n'est point du tout mon fait." No doubt there was unconscious or only half conscious affectation in this, as there is in the ways of almost all young people who are fond of reading; and her way of thinking herself a girl-Alceste would probably have vanished with other whims, or been supplanted by fancies of imitation caught from other models, if everything had gone well with her. But several causes conspired as she grew into a woman to make her think very seriously that Alceste was not wrong in his general estimate of men and their merits. She was intensely fond of her mother, and when her mother died her father married[Pg 247] again, his second wife being a young woman who put him under the most absolute control, being not by any means an ill-natured person, but only strong-willed, serene, and stupid. Then her brother, to whom she was devoted, and who was her absolute confidant, went away to Canada, declaring he would not stand a stepmother, and that as soon as his sister grew old enough to put away domestic control he would send for her; and he soon got married and became a prominent member of the Dominion Legislature, and in none of his not over frequent letters said a word about his promise to send for her. Now, her father was some time dead; her stepmother had married Mr. Saulsbury, an elderly Nonconformist minister, who was shocked at all the ways of Alceste's admirer, and with whom she could not get on. It would take a very sweet and resigned nature to make one who had had these experiences absolutely in love with the human race, and especially with men; and Alceste accordingly became more dear than ever to Miss Grey.

Now she was about to leave the place and open of her own accord a new chapter in life. She had to escape at once from the dislike of some and the still less endurable liking of others. She was determined to go, and yet as she looked around upon the place, and all its dear sweet memories filled her, it is no wonder if she envied the calmness of the face that symbolized eternal rest. At last she broke down, and covered her face with her hands, and gave herself up to tears.

Her quick ears, however, heard sounds which she knew were not those of the rustling woods. She started to her feet and dried her eyes hastily. Straight before her now there lay the long broad path through the trees which led up to the gate of the mausoleum. The air was so exquisitely pure and still that the footfall of a person approaching could be distinctly heard by the girl, although the newcomer was yet far away. She could see him, however, and recognized him, and she had no doubt that he had seen her. A thought of escape at first occurred to her; but she gave it up in a moment, for she knew that the person approaching had come to seek her, and must have seen her before she saw him. So she sat down again defiantly and waited. She did not look his way, although he raised his hat to her more than once.

As he comes near we can see that he is a handsome, rather stiff looking man, with full formal dark whiskers, clearly cut face, and white teeth. His hat is very shiny. He wears a black frock coat buttoned across the chest, and dark trowsers, and dainty little boots, and gray gloves, and has a diamond pin in his necktie. He is Mr. Augustus Sheppard, a very considerable person indeed in the town. Dukes-Keeton, it should be said, had three classes or estates. The noble owners of the park and the guests whom they used to bring to visit them in their hospitable days made one estate. The upper class of the town made another estate; and the working people and the poor generally made the third. These three classes (there were at present only two of them represented in Keeton) were divided by barriers which it never occurred to any imagination to think of getting over. Mr. Augustus Sheppard was a leading man among the townspeople. His father was a solicitor and land agent of old standing, and Mr. Augustus followed his father's profession, and now did by far the greater part of its work. He was a member of the Church of England of course, but he made it part of his duty to be on the best terms with the Dissenters, for Keeton was growing to be very strong in dissent of late years. Mr. Augustus Sheppard had done a great deal for the mental and other improvement of the town. It was he who got up the Mutual Improvement Society, and made himself responsible for the rent of the hall in which the winter course of lectures, organized by him, used to[Pg 248] take place; and he always gave a lecture himself every season, and he took the chair very often and introduced other lecturers. He always worked most cordially with the Rev. Mr. Saulsbury in trying to restrict the number of public houses, and he was one of the few persons whom Mrs. Saulsbury cordially admired. He had a word of formal kindness for every one, and was never heard to say an ill-natured thing of any one behind his or her back. He was vaguely believed to be ambitious of worldly success, but only in a proper and becoming way, and far-seeing people looked forward to finding him one day in the House of Commons.

As he came near the mausoleum he raised his hat again, and then the girl acknowledged his salute and stood up.

"A very lovely evening, Miss Grey."

"Yes," said Miss Grey, and no more.

"I have been at your house, Miss Grey, and saw your people; and I heard that possibly you were in the park. I thought perhaps you would have been at home. When I saw you last night you seemed to believe that you would be at home all the day." This was said in a gentle tone of implied reproach.

"You spoke then of walking in the park, Mr. Sheppard."

"And I have kept my word, you see," Mr. Sheppard said, not observing the implied reason for her change of purpose.

"Yes, I see it now," she answered, as one who should say, "I did not count upon it then."

Of all men else, Minola Grey would have avoided him. She knew only too well what he had come for. She would perhaps have disliked him for that in any case, but she certainly disliked him on his own account. His formal and heavy manners impressed her disagreeably, and she liked to say things that puzzled and startled him. It was a pleasure to her to throw some paradox or odd saying at him, and watch his awkward attempts to catch it, and then while he was just on the point of getting at some idea of it to bewilder him with some new enigma. To her he seemed to be what he was not, simply a sham, a heavy piece of hypocrisy. Formalism and ostentatious piety she recognized as part of the business of a Nonconformist minister, in whom they were excusable, as his grave garb would be, but they seemed insufferably out of place when adopted by a layman and a man of the world, who was still young.

"I am glad to have found you at last," Mr. Sheppard said, with a grave smile.

"You might have found me at first," Minola said, quoting from Artemus Ward, "if you had come a little sooner, Mr. Sheppard. I have only lately escaped here."

"I wish I had known, and I would have come a great deal sooner. May I take the liberty of sitting beside you?"

"I am going to stand, Mr. Sheppard. But that need not prevent you from sitting."

"I should not think of sitting unless you do. Shall we walk a little among the trees? This is a gloomy spot for a young lady."

"I prefer to stand here for a little, Mr. Sheppard, but don't let me keep you from enjoying a walk."

"Enjoying a walk?" he said, with a grave smile and solemn emphasis. "Enjoying a walk, Miss Grey—and without you?"

She deliberately avoided meeting the glance with which he was endeavoring to give additional meaning to this polite speech. She knew that he had come to make love to her; and though she was longing to have the whole thing done with, as it must be settled one way or the other, she detested and dreaded the ordeal, and would have put it off if she could. So she did not give any sign of having understood or even heard his words, and the opportunity for going on with his purpose, which he had hoped to extract, was lost for the moment. In[Pg 249] truth, Mr. Sheppard was afraid of this girl, and she knew it, and liked him none the more for it.

"I have been studying something with great interest, Mr. Sheppard," she began, as if determined to cut him off from his chance for the present. "I have made a discovery."

"Indeed, Miss Grey? Yes—I saw that you were in deep contemplation as I came along, and I wondered within myself what could have been the subject of your thoughts."

She colored a little and looked suddenly at him, asking herself whether he could have seen her tears. His face, however, gave no explanation, and she felt assured that he had not seen them.

"I have found, Mr. Sheppard, that some of the weaknesses of men are alive in the insect world."

"Indeed, Miss Grey? Some of the affections of men do indeed live, we are told, in the insect world. So beautifully ordained is everything——"

"The affectations I meant, not the affections of men, Mr. Sheppard. Could you ever have believed that an insect would be capable of a deliberate attempt at imposture?"

"I should certainly not have looked for anything of the kind, Miss Grey. But there is unfortunately so much of evil mixed up with all——"

"So there is. I was going to tell you that as I came here and passed through the garden, my attention was directed—is not that the proper way to put it?"

"To put it, Miss Grey?"

"Yes; my attention was directed to a large, heavy, respectable blue-bottle fly. He kept flying from flower to flower, and burying his stupid head in every one in turn, and making a ridiculous noise. I watched his movements for a long time. It was evident to the meanest understanding that he was trying to attract attention and was hoping the eyes of the world were on him. You should have seen his pretence at enjoying the flowers and drinking in sweetness from them—and he stayed longest on the wrong flowers!"

"Dear me! Now why did he do that?"

"Because he didn't know any better, and he was trying to make us think he did."

"But, Miss Grey—a fly—a blue-bottle! Now really—how did you know what he was thinking of?"

"I watched him closely—and I found him out at last. Have you not guessed what the meaning of the whole thing was?"

"Well, Miss Grey, I can't say that I quite understand it just yet; but I am sure I shall be greatly interested on hearing the explanation."

"It was simply the imposture of a blue-bottle trying to pass himself off as a bee! It was man's affectation put under the microscope!"

Mr. Sheppard looked up at her in the hope of catching from her face some clear intimation as to whether she was in jest or earnest, and demeaning himself accordingly. But her eyes were cast down and he could not make out the riddle. Driven by desperation, he dashed in, to prevent the possible propounding of another before he had time to come to his point.

"All the professions of men are not affectations, Miss Grey! Oh, no: far from it indeed. There are some feelings in our breasts which are only too real!"

She saw that the declaration was coming now and must be confronted.

"I have long wished for an opportunity of revealing to you some of my feelings, Miss Grey, and I hope the chance has now arrived. May I speak?"

"I can't prevent you from speaking, Mr. Sheppard."

"You will hear me?"

He was in such fear of her and so awkward about the terms of his declaration of love that he kept clutching at every little straw that seemed to give him something to hold on to for a moment's rest and respite.[Pg 250]

"I had better hear you, I suppose," she said with an air of profound depression, "if you will go on, Mr. Sheppard. But if you would please me, you would stop where you are and say no more."

"You know what I am going to say, Miss Grey—you must have known it this long time. I have asked your natural guardians and advisers, and they encourage me to speak. Oh, Miss Grey—I love you. May I hope that I may look forward to the happiness of one day making you my wife?"

It was all out now, and she was glad. The rest would be easy. He looked even then so prosaic and formal that she did not believe in any of his professed emotions, and she was therefore herself unmoved.

"No, Mr. Sheppard," she said, looking calmly at him straight in the face. "Such a day will never come. Nothing that I have seen in life makes me particularly anxious to be married; and I could not marry you."

He had expected evasion, but not bluntness. He knew well enough that the girl did not love him, but he had believed that he could persuade her to marry him. Now her pointblank refusal completely staggered him.

"Why not, Miss Grey?" was all he could say at first.

"Because, Mr. Sheppard, I really much prefer not to marry you."

"There is not any one else?" he asked, his face for the first time showing emotion and anger.

The faint light of a melancholy smile crossed Minola's face. He grew more angry.

"Miss Grey—now, you must tell me that! I have a right to ask—yes: and your people would expect me to ask. You must tell me that."

"Well," she said, "if you force me to it, and if you will have an answer, I must give you one, Mr. Sheppard. I have a lover already, and I mean to keep him."

Mr. Sheppard was positively shocked by the suddenness and coolness of this revelation. He recovered himself, however, and took refuge in unbelief.

"Miss Grey, you don't mean it, I know—I can't believe it. Why, I have known you and seen you grow up since you were a child. Mrs. Saulsbury couldn't but know——"

"Mrs. Saulsbury knows nothing of me: we know nothing of each other. I have a lover, Mr. Sheppard, for all that. Do you want to know his name?"

"I should like to know his name, certainly," the breathless Sheppard stammered out.

"His name is Alceste——"

"A Frenchman!" Sheppard was aghast.

"A Frenchman truly—a French gentleman—a man of truth and courage and spirit and honor and everything good. A man who wouldn't tell a lie or do a mean thing, or flatter a silly woman, or persecute a very unhappy girl—no, not to save his soul, Mr. Sheppard. Do you happen to know any such man?"

"No such man lives in Keeton." He was surprised into simple earnestness. "At least I don't know of any such man."

"No; you and he are not likely to come together and be very familiar. Well, Mr. Sheppard, that is the man to whom I am engaged, and I mean to keep my engagement. You can tell Mrs. Saulsbury if you like."

"But you haven't told me his other name."

"Oh—I don't know his other name."

"Miss Grey! Don't know his other name?"

"No: and I don't think he has any other name. He has but the one name for me, and I don't want any second."

"Where does he live, then—may I ask?"

"Oh, yes—I may as well tell you all now, since I have told you so much. He only lives in a book, Mr. Sheppard; in what you would call a play," she added with contemptuous expression.

"Oh, come now—I thought you[Pg 251] were only amusing yourself." A smile of reviving satisfaction stole over his face. "I'm not much afraid of a rival like that, Miss Grey—if he is my only rival."

"I don't know why you talk of a rival," the young woman answered, with a scornful glance at him; "but I can assure you he would be the most dangerous rival a living man could have. When I find a man like him, Mr. Sheppard, I hope he will ask me to marry him; indeed, when I find such a man I'll ask him to marry me—and if he be the man I take him for, he'll refuse me. I have told you all the truth now, Mr. Sheppard, and I hope you will think I need not say any more."

"Still, I'm not quite without hope that something may be done," Mr. Sheppard said. "How if I were to study your hero's ways and try to be like him, Miss Grey?"

A great brown heavy velvety bee at the moment came booming along, his ponderous flight almost level with the ground and not far above it. He sailed in and out among the trees and branches, now burying himself for a few seconds in some hollow part of a trunk, and then plodding through air again.

"Do you think it would be of any use, Mr. Sheppard," she calmly asked, "if that honest bee were to study the ways of the eagle?"

"You are not complimentary, Miss Grey," he said, reddening.

"No: I don't believe in compliments: I very much prefer truth."

"Still there are ways of conveying the truth—and of course I never professed to be anything very great and heroic——"

He was decidedly hurt now.

"Mr. Sheppard," she said, in a softer and more appealing tone, "I don't want to quarrel with you or with anybody, and please don't drive me on to make myself out any worse than I am. I don't care about you, and I never could. We never could get on together. I don't care for any man—I don't like men at all. I wouldn't marry you if you were an emperor. But I don't say anything against you; at least I wouldn't if you would only let me alone. I am very unhappy sometimes—almost always now; but at least I mean to make no one unhappy but myself."

"That's what comes of books and poetry and solitary walks and nonsense! Why can't you listen to the advice of those who love you?"

She turned upon him angrily again.

"Well, I am not speaking of myself now, but of your—your people, who only desire your good. Mr. Saulsbury, Mrs. Saulsbury——"

"Once for all, Mr. Sheppard, I shall not take their advice; and if you would have me think of you with any kindness at all, any memory not disagreeable and—and detestable, you will not talk to me of their advice. Even if I had been inclined to care for you, Mr. Sheppard, you took a wrong way when you came in their name and talked of their authority. Next time you ask a girl to marry you, Mr. Sheppard, do it in your own name."

He caught eagerly at the kind of negative hope that seemed to be held out to him.

"If that's an objection," he began, "I assure you that I came quite of my own motion, and I am the last man in the world to endeavor to bring any unfair means to bear. Of course it is not as if they were your own parents, and I can quite understand how a young lady must feel——"

"I don't know much of how young ladies feel," Minola said quietly, "but I know how I feel, Mr. Sheppard, and you know it too. Take my last word. I'll never marry you. You only waste your time, and perhaps the time of somebody else as well—some good girl, Mr. Sheppard, who would be glad to marry you and whom you will be quite ready to make love to the day after to-morrow."

Her heart was hardened against him now, for she thought him mean and craven and unmanly. Perhaps, according to her familiar creed, she ought rather to have thought him[Pg 252] manly, meanness being in that sense one of the attributes of man. She did not believe in the genuineness of his love, and in any case no thought was more odious to her than that of a man pressing a girl to marry him if she did not love him and was not ready to meet him half way.

There was a curious contrast between these two figures as they stood on the steps of that great empty tomb. The contrast was all the more singular and even the more striking because the two might easily have been described in such terms as would seem to suggest no contrast. If they were described as a handsome young man (for he was scarcely more than thirty) and a handsome young woman, the description would be correct. He was rather tall, she was rather tall; but he was formal, severe, respectable, and absolutely unpicturesque—she was picturesque in every motion. His well-made clothes sat stiffly on him, and the first idea he conveyed was that he was carefully dressed. Even a woman would not have thought, at the first glance at least, of how she was dressed. She only impressed one with a sense of the presence of graceful and especially emotional womanhood. The longer one looked at the two the deeper the contrast seemed to become. Both, for example, had rather thin lips; but his were rigid, precise, and seeming to part with a certain deliberation and even difficulty. Hers appeared, even when she was silent, to be tremulous with expression. After a while it would have seemed to an observer, if any observing eye were there, that no power on earth could have brought these two into companionship.

"I won't take this as your final answer," he said, after one or two unsuccessful efforts to speak. "You will consider this again, and give it some serious reflection."

She only shook her head, and once more seated herself on the steps of the monument as if to suggest that now the interview was over.

"You are not walking homeward?" he asked.

"I am staying here for awhile."

He bade her good morning and walked slowly away. A rejected lover looks to great disadvantage when he has to walk away. He ought to leap on the back of a horse, and spur him fiercely and gallop off; or the curtain ought to fall and so finish up with him. Otherwise, even the most heroic figure has something of the look of one sneaking off like a dog told imperatively to "go home." Mr. Sheppard felt very uncomfortable at the thought that he probably did not seem dignified in the eyes of Miss Grey. He once glanced back uneasily, but perhaps it was not a relief to find that she was not looking in his direction.



Miss Grey remained in the park until the sun had gone down and the stars, with their faint light, seemed as she moved homeward to be like bright sparkles entangled among the high branches of the trees. She had a great deal to think of, and she troubled herself little about the mental depression of her rejected lover. All the purpose of her life was now summed up in a resolve to get away from Keeton and to bury herself in London.

She knew that any opposition to her proposal on the part of those who were still supposed to be her guardians would only be founded on an objection to it as something unwomanly, venturous, and revolutionary, and not by any means the result of any grief for her going away. Ever since her mother's death and her father's second marriage she had only chafed at existence, and found those around her disagreeable, and no doubt made herself disagreeable to them. She had ceased to feel any respect for her father when he married again, and he knew it and became cold and constrained[Pg 253] with her. Only just before his death had there been anything like a revival of their affection for each other. He had been a man of some substance and authority in his town, had built houses, and got together property, and he left his daughter a not inconsiderable annuity as a charge upon his property, and placed her under the guardianship of the elderly and respectable Nonconformist minister, who, as luck would have it, afterward married his young widow. Minola had seen so many marriages during her short experience, and had disliked two at least of them so thoroughly, that she was much inclined to say with one of her heroes that there should be no more of them. For a long time she had made up her mind that when she came of age she would go to London and live there. She still wanted a few months of the time of independence, but the manner in which Mr. Augustus Sheppard was pressed upon her by himself and others made her resolve to anticipate the course of the seasons a little, and go away at once. In London she made up her mind that she would lead a life of enchantment: of delightful and semi-savage solitude, in the midst of the crowd; of wild independence and scorn of all the ways of men, with books at her command, with the art galleries and museums, of which she had read so much, always within easy reach, and the streets which were alive for her with such sweet and dear associations all around her.

Miss Grey knew London well. She had never yet set foot in it, or been anywhere out of her native town; but she had studied London as a general may study the map of some country which he expects one day to invade. Many and many a night, when all in the house but she were fast asleep, she had had the map of London spread out before her, and had puzzled her way through the endless intricacies of its streets. Few women of her age, or of any age, actually living in the metropolis, had anything like the knowledge of its districts and its principal streets that she had. She felt in anticipation the pride and delight of being able to go whither she would about London without having to ask her way of any one. Some particular association identified every place in her mind. The living and the dead, the romantic and the real, history and fiction, all combined to supply her with labels of association, which she might mentally put upon every quarter and district, and almost upon every street which had a name worth knowing. As we all know Venice before we have seen it, and when we get there can recognize everything we want to see without need of guide to name it for us, so Minola Grey knew London. It is no wonder now that her mind was in a perturbed condition. She was going to leave the place in which so far all her life literally had been passed. She was going to live in that other place which had for years been her dream, her study, her self-appointed destiny. She was going to pass away for ever from uncongenial and odious companionship, and to live a life of sweet, proud, lonely independence.

The loneliness, however, was not to be literal and absolute. In all romantic adventures there is companionship. The knight has his squire, Rosalind has her Celia. Minola Grey was to have her companion in her great enterprise. It had not indeed occurred to her to think about the inconvenience or oddness of a girl living absolutely alone in London, but the kindly destinies had provided her with a comrade. Having lingered long in the park and turned back again and again for another view of some favorite spot, having gathered many a leaf and flower for remembrance, and having looked up many times with throbbing heart at the white, trembling stars that would shine upon her soon in London, Miss Grey at last made up her mind and passed resolutely out at the great gate and went to seek this companion. She was glad to leave the park now in any case, for in the fine evenings of summer and autumn[Pg 254] it was the custom of Keeton people to make it their promenade. All the engaged couples of the place would soon be there under the trees. When a lad and lass were seen to walk boldly and openly together of evenings in that park, and to pass and repass their neighbors without effort at avoiding such encounters, it was as well known that they were engaged as though the fact had been proclaimed by the town-crier. A jury of Keeton folk would have assumed a promise of marriage and proceeded to award damages for its breach if it were proved that a young man had walked openly for any three evenings in the park with a girl whom he afterward declined to make his wife. Minola did not care to meet any of the joyous couples or their friends, and even already the twitter of voices and the titter of feminine laughter were beginning to make themselves heard among the darkling paths and across the broad green lanes of the park.

From the gates of the park one passed, as has been said already, almost directly into the town. The town itself was divided in twain by a river, the river spanned by a bridge which had a certain fame from the fact of its having been the scene of a brave stand and a terrible slaughter during the civil wars after Charles I. had set up his standard at Nottingham. To be sure there was not much left of the genuine old bridge on which the fight was fought, nor did the broad, flat, handsome, and altogether modern structure bear much resemblance to the sort of bridge which might have crossed a river in the days of the Cavaliers. Residents of Keeton always, however, boasted of the fact that one of the arches of the bridge was just the same underneath as it had always been, and insisted on bringing the stranger down by devious and grassy paths to the river's edge in order that he might see for himself the old stones still holding together which had perhaps been shaken by the tramp of Rupert's troopers. On the park side of the bridge lay the genteeler and more pretentious houses, the semi-detached villas and lodges and crescents of Keeton; and there too were the humbler cottages. On the other side of the bridge were the business streets and the clustering shops, most of them old-fashioned and dark, with low, beetling fronts and narrow panes in the windows, and only here and there a showy and modern establishment, with its stucco front and its plate glass. The streets were all so narrow that they seemed as if they must be only passages leading to broader thoroughfares. The stranger walked on and on, thinking he was coming to the actual town of Dukes-Keeton, until he walked out at the other side and found he had left it behind him.

Minola Grey crossed the bridge, although her own home lay on the side nearest the park, and made her way through the narrow streets. She glanced with a shudder at one formal official looking house of dark brick which she had to pass, and the door of which bore a huge brass plate with the words "Sheppard & Sheppard, Solicitors and Land Agents." Another expression of dislike or pain crossed her handsome, pale, and emotional face when she passed a little lane, closed at the further end by the heavy, sombre front of a chapel, for it was there that she had even still to pass some trying, unsympathetic hours of the Sunday listening to a preacher whose eloquence was rather too familiar to her all the week. At length she passed the front of a large building of light-colored stone, with a Greek portico and row of pillars and high flight of steps, and which to the eye of any intelligent mortal had "Court House" written on its very face. Miss Grey went on and passed its front entrance, then turning down a narrow street, of which the building itself formed one side, she came to a little open door, went in, ran lightly up a flight of stone steps, and found herself in dun and dimly lighted corridors of stone.

A ray or two of the evening light[Pg 255] still flickered through the small windows of the roof. But for this all would seemingly have been dark. Minola's footfall echoed through the passages. The place appeared ghostly and sad, and the presence of youth, grace, and energetic womanhood was strangely out of keeping with all around. The whole expression and manner of Miss Grey brightened, however, as she passed along these gaunt and echoing corridors. In the sunlight of the park there seemed something melancholy in the face of the girl which was not in accord with her years, her figure, and her deep, soft eyes. Now, in this dismal old passage of damp resounding stone, she seemed so joyous that her passing along might have been that of another Pippa. The place was not very unlike a prison, and an observer might have been pleased to think that, as the light step of the girl passed the door of each cell, and the flutter of her garments was faintly heard, some little gleam of hope, some gentle memory, some breath of forgotten woods and fields, some softening inspiration of human love, was borne in to every imprisoned heart. But this was no prison; only the courthouse where prisoners were tried; and its rooms, occupied in the day by judges, lawyers, policemen, public, suitors, and culprits, were now locked, empty, and silent.

Minola went on, singing to herself as she went, her song growing louder and bolder until at last it thrilled finely up to the stone roofs of the grim halls and corridors. For Minola was of that temperament to which resolve of any kind soon brings the excitement of high spirits, and she sang now out of sheer courage and purpose.

Presently she stopped at a low, dark, oaken door which looked as if it might admit to some dingy lumber-room or closet; and this door opened instantly and she was in presence of a pretty and cheerful little picture. The side of the building where the room was set looked upon the broadest and clearest space in the town, and through the open window could be seen distinctly the glassy gray of the quiet river and even the trees of the park, a dark mass beneath the pale summer sky. Although the room was lit only by the twilight, in which the latest lingering reflection of the sunset still lived, it looked bright to the girl who had come from the heavy dusk and gloom of the corridors with their roof-windows and their rows of grim doors. A room ought to look bright, too, when the visitor on just appearing on its threshold is rushed upon and clasped and kissed and greeted as "You dear, dear darling." Such a welcome met Miss Grey, and then she was instantly drawn into the room, the door of which was closed behind her.

The occupant of the room who thus welcomed Minola was a woman not far short probably of forty years of age. She was short, she was decidedly growing fat, she had a face which ought from its outlines and its color to be rather humorous and mirthful than otherwise, and a pair of very fine, deep, and consequently somewhat melancholy eyes. These eyes were the only beauty of Miss Mary Blanchet's face. She had not good sight, for all their brightness. When any one talked with her at some little distance across a room, or even across a broad table, he could easily see by the irresponsive look of the eyes—the eyes which never quite found a common focus with his even during the most animated interchange of thought—that Miss Blanchet had short sight. But Miss Blanchet always frankly and firmly declined to put on spectacles. "I have only my eyes to boast of, my dear," she said to all her female advisers, "and I am not going to cover them with ugly spectacles, you may be sure." Hers was a life of the simplest vanity, the most innocent affectation. Her eyes had driven her into poetry, love, and disappointment. She was understood to have loved very deeply and to have been deserted. None of her friends could quite remember the lover, but every one said that no doubt there must have been such a person. Miss Blanchet never actually spoke of[Pg 256] him, but she somehow suggested his memory.

Miss Blanchet was a poetess. She had published by subscription a volume of verses, which was favorably noticed in the local newspapers and of which she sent a copy to the Queen, whereof Her Majesty had been kindly pleased to accept. Thus the poetess became a celebrity and a sort of public character in Dukes-Keeton, and when her father died it was felt that the town ought to do something for one who had done so much for it. It made her custodian of the courthouse, entrusted with the charge of seeing that it was kept clean, ventilated, water-besprinkled; that when assizes came on, the judges' rooms were fittingly adorned and that bouquets of flowers were placed every morning on the bench on which they sat. This place Miss Blanchet had held for many years. The rising generation had forgotten all about her poetry, and indeed, as she seldom went out of her own little domain, had for the most part forgotten her existence.

When Minola Grey was a little girl her mother was one of Miss Mary Blanchet's chiefest patronesses. It was in great measure by the influence of Minola's father that Miss Blanchet obtained her place in the courthouse. Little Minola thought her a great poetess and a remarkably beautiful woman, and accepted somehow the impression that she had a romantic and mysterious love history. It was a rare delight for her to be taken to spend an evening with Miss Blanchet, to drink tea in her pretty and well kept little room, to walk with her through the stone passages of the courthouse, and hear her repeat her poems. As Minola grew she outgrew the poems, but the affection survived; and after her mother's death she found no congenial or sympathetic friend anywhere in Keeton but Mary Blanchet. The relationship between the two curiously changed. The tall girl of twenty became the leader, the heroine, the queen; and Mary Blanchet, sensible little woman enough in many ways, would have turned African explorer or joined in a rebellion of women against men if Miss Grey had given her the word of command.

"I know your mind is made up, dear, now that you have come," Miss Blanchet said when the first rapture of greeting was over.

Minola took off her hat and threw it on the little sofa with the air of one who feels thoroughly at home. It may be remarked as characteristic of this young woman that in going toward the sofa she had to pass the chimney-piece with its mirror, and that she did not even cast a glance at her own image in the glass.

"Mary," she asked gravely, "am I a man and a brother, that you expect me to change my mind? You are not repenting, I hope?"

"Oh, no, my dear. I have all the advantages, you know. I am so tired of this place and the work—dear me!"

"And I hate to see you at such work. You might almost as well be a servant. Years ago I made up my mind to take you out of this wretched place as soon as I should be of age and my own mistress."

"Well, I have sent in my resignation, and I am free. But I am a little afraid about you. You have been used to every luxury—and the carriage—and all that."

"One of my ambitions is to drive in a hansom cab. Another is to have a latch-key. Both will soon be gratified. I am only sorry for one thing."

"What is that, dear?"

"That we can't be Rosalind and Celia; that I can't put on man's clothes and liberty."

"But you don't like men—you always want to avoid them."

Miss Grey said nothing in defence of her own consistency. She was thinking that if she had been a man, she would have been spared the vexation of having to listen to Mr. Augustus Sheppard's proposals.

"I suspect," Miss Blanchet said, "that people will say we are more like Don Quixote and Sancho Panza."

"Which of us is the Sancho?"[Pg 257]

"Oh, I of course; I am the faithful follower."

"You—poor little poetess, full of dreams, and hopes, and unselfishness! Why, I shall have to see that you get something to eat at tolerably regular intervals."

"How happy we shall be! And I shall be able to complete my poem! Do you know, Minola," she said confidentially, "I do believe I shall be able to make a career in London. I do indeed! The miserable details of daily life here pressed me down, down," and she pressed her own hand upon her forehead to illustrate the idea. "There, in freedom and quiet, I do think I shall be able to prove to the world that I am worth a hearing!"

This was a tender subject with Miss Grey. She could not bear to disturb by a word the harmless illusion of her friend, and yet the almost fierce truthfulness of her nature would not allow her to murmur a sentence of unmeaning flattery.

"One word, Mary," she said; "if you grow famous, no marrying—mind!"

Little Miss Blanchet laughed and then grew sad, and cast her eyes down.

"Who would ask me to marry, my dearest? And even if they did, the buried past would come out of the grave—and——"

She slightly raised both hands in deprecation of this mournful resurrection.

"Well, I have all to go through with my people yet."

"They won't prevent you?" Miss Blanchet asked anxiously.

"They can't. In a few months I should be my own mistress; and what is the use of waiting? Besides, they don't really care—except for the sake of showing authority and proving to girls that they ought to be contented slaves. They know now that I am no slave. I do believe my esteemed step-father—or step-stepfather, if there is such a word—would consent to emancipate me if he could do so with the proper ceremonial—the slap on the cheek."

The allusion was lost on Miss Blanchet.

"Mr. Saulsbury is a stern man indeed," she said, "but very good; that we must admit."

"All good men, it seems, are hard, and all soft men are bad."

"What of Mr. Augustus Sheppard?" Miss Blanchet asked softly. "How will he take your going away?"

"I have not asked him, Mary. But I can tell you if you care to know. He will take it with perfect composure. He has about as much capacity for foolish affection as your hearth-broom there."

"I think you are mistaken, Minola—I do indeed. I think that man is really——"

"Well. Is really what?"

"You won't be angry if I say it?"

Minola seemed as if she were going to be angry, but she looked into the little poetess's kindly, wistful eyes, and broke into a laugh.

"I couldn't be angry with you, Mary, if I had ten times my capacity for anger—and that would be a goodly quantity! Well, what is Mr. Sheppard really, as you were going to say?"

"Really in love with you, dear."

"You kind and believing little poetess—full of faith in simple true love and all the rest of it! Mr. Sheppard likes what he considers a respectable connection in Keeton. Failing in one chance he will find another, and there is an end of that."

"I don't think so," Miss Blanchet said gravely. "Well, we shall see."

"We shall not see him any more. We shall live a glorious, lonely, independent life. I shall study humanity from some lofty garret window among the stars. London shall be my bark and my bride, as the old songs about the Rovers used to say. All the weaknesses of humanity shall reveal themselves to me in the people next door to us and over the way. I'll study in the British Museum! I'll spend hours in the National Gallery! I'll lie under the trees in Epping Forest! I think I'll go to the gallery of a theatre! Liberté, liberté, cherie!" And Miss Grey[Pg 258] proceeded to chant from the "Marseillaise" with splendid energy as she walked up and down the room with clasped hands of mock heroic passion.

"You said something about a man and a brother just now, dear," Miss Blanchet gently interposed. "I have something to tell you about a man and a brother. My brother is back again in London."

Miss Blanchet made this communication in the tone of one who is trying to seem as if it would be welcome.

"Your brother? He has come back?" Miss Grey did not like to add, "I am so sorry," but that was exactly what she would have said if she had spoken her mind.

"Yes, my dear—quite reformed and as steady as can be, and going to make a great name in London. Oh, you may trust him to this time—you may indeed."

Miss Grey's handsome and only too expressive features showed signs of profound dissatisfaction.

"I couldn't help telling him that we were going to live in London—one's brother, you know."

"Yes, one's brother," Miss Grey said with sarcastic emphasis. "They are an affectionate race, these brothers! Then he knows all about our expedition? Has he been here, Mary?"

"Oh, no, dear; but he wrote to me—such beautiful letters! Perhaps you would like to read them?"

Miss Grey was silent, and was evidently fighting some battle with herself. At last she said:

"Well, Mary dear, it can't be helped, and I dare say he won't trouble to come very often to see us. But I hope he will come as often as you like, for you might be terribly lonely. I don't care to know anybody. I mean to study human nature, not to know people."

"But you have some friends in London, and you are going to see them."

"Oh—Lucy Money; yes. She was at school with us, and we used to be fond of each other. I think of calling to see her, but she may be changed ever so much, and perhaps we shan't get on together at all. Her father has become a sort of great man in London, I believe—I don't know how. They won't trouble us much, I dare say."

The friends then sat and talked for a short time about their project. It is curious to observe that though they were such devoted friends they looked on their joint purpose with very different eyes. The young woman, with her beauty, her spirit, and her talents, was absolutely sincere and single-minded, and was going to London with the sole purpose of living a free, secluded life, without ambition, without thought of any manner of success. The poor little old maid had her head already filled with wild dreams of fame to be found in London, of a distinguished brother, a bright career, publishers seeking for everything she wrote, and her name often in the papers. Devoted as she was to Miss Grey, or perhaps because she was so devoted to her, she had already been forming vague but delightful hopes about the reformed brother which she would not now for all the world have ventured to hint to her friend.



Late that same night a young man stepped from a window in one of the rooms on the third floor in the Hôtel du Louvre in Paris, and stood in the balcony. It was a balcony in that side of the hotel which looks on the Rue de Rivoli. The young man smoked a cigar and leaned over the balcony.

It was a soft moonlight night. The hour was late and the streets were nearly silent. The latest omnibus had gone its way, and only now and then a rare and lingering voiture clicked and clattered along, to disappear round the corner of the place in front of the Palais Royal. The long line of gas lamps, looking a faint yellow beneath the hotel and the Louvre Palace across the way, seemed to deepen and deepen into redder sparks the further the eye[Pg 259] followed them to the right as they stretched on to the Place de la Concorde and the Champs Elysées. To the left the young man, leaning from the balcony, could see the tower of St. Jacques standing darkly out against the faint, pale blue of the moonlighted sky. The street was a line of silver or snow in the moonlight.

The young man was tall, thin, dark, and handsome. He was unmistakably English, although he had an excitable and nervous way about him which did not savor of British coolness and composure. He seemed a person not to take anything easily. Even the moonlight, and the solitude, and the indescribably soothing and philosophic influence of the contemplation of a silent city from the serene heights of a balcony, did not prevail to take him out of himself into the upper ether of mental repose. He pulled his long moustaches now and then, until they met like a kind of strap beneath his chin, and again he twisted their ends up as if he desired to appear fierce as a champion duellist of the Bonapartist group. He sometimes took his cigar from his lips and held it between his fingers until it went out, and when he put it into his mouth again he took several long puffs before he quite realized the fact that he was puffing at what one might term dry stubble. Then he pulled out a box of fusees and lighted his cigar in an irritated way, as if he were protesting that really the fates were bearing down upon him rather too heavily, and that he was entitled to complain at last.

"Good evening, sir," said a strong, full British voice that sounded just at his elbow.

The young man, looking round, saw that his next-door neighbor in the hotel had likewise opened his window and stepped out on his balcony. The two had met before, or at least seen each other before, once or twice. The young man had seen the elder with some ladies at breakfast in the hotel, and that evening he and his neighbor had taken coffee side by side on the boulevards and smoked and exchanged a few words.

The elder man's strong, rather under-sized figure showed very clearly in the moonlight. He had thick, almost shaggy hair, of an indefinable dark brownish color—hair that was not curly, that was not straight, that did not stand up, and yet could evidently never be kept down. He had a rough complexioned face, with heavy eyebrows and stubby British whiskers. His hands were large and reddish-brown and coarse. He was dressed carelessly—that is, his clothes were evidently garments that had cost money, but he did not seem to care how he wore them. Any garment must fall readily into shapelessness and give up trying to fit well on that unheeding figure. The Briton did not seem exactly what one would at once assume to be a gentleman. Yet he was not vulgar, and he was evidently quite at his ease with himself. He looked somehow like a man who had money or power of some kind, and who did not care whether people knew it or did not know it. Our younger Briton had at the first glance taken him for the ordinary English father of a family, travelling with his womankind. But he had not seen him for two minutes at the breakfast table before he observed that the supposed heavy father was never in a fuss, had a way of having all his orders obeyed without trouble or misunderstanding, and for all his strong British accent talked French with entire ease and a sort of resolute grammatical accuracy.

"Staying in Paris?" the elder man said—he too was smoking—when the younger had replied to his salutation.

"No; I am going home—I mean I am going to England—to-morrow."

"Ay, ay? I almost wish I were too. I'm taking my wife and daughters for a holiday. I don't much care for holidays myself. I hadn't time for enjoyment of such things when I could enjoy them, and of course when you get out of the way of enjoying yourself[Pg 260] you never get into it again; it's a sort of groove, I suppose. Anyhow, we don't ever enjoy much, our people. You are English, I suppose?"

"Yes, I am English."

"Wish you weren't? I see."

Indeed, the tone in which the young man answered the question seemed to warrant this interpretation.

"Excuse me; I didn't say that," the young man said, a little sharply.

"No, no; I only thought you meant it. We are not bound, you know, to keep rattling up the Rule Britannia always among ourselves."

"I can assure you I am not at all inclined to rattle the Rule Britannia too loudly," the young man said, tossing the end of his cigar away and looking determinedly into the street with his hands dug deeply into his pockets.

The elder man smoked for a few seconds in silence, and looked up and down the long straight line of street.

"Odd," he said abruptly. "I always think of Balzac when I look into the streets of Paris, and when I give myself time to think. Balzac sums up Paris to me."

"Yes," said the younger man, talking for the first time with an appearance of genuine interest in the conversation; "but things must be greatly changed since that time even in Paris, you know."

"Changed? Not a bit of it. The outsides of course. The Louvre was half a ruin the other day, and now it's getting all right again. That's change, if you like to call it so. But the heart of things is just the same. Balzac stands for Paris, believe you me."

"I don't believe a word of it—not a word! I mean—excuse me—that I don't agree with you."

"Yes, yes: I understand what you mean. I'm not offended. Well?"

"Well—I don't believe a bit that men and women ever were like that. You mean to tell me that people were made without hearts in Paris or anywhere else? Do you believe in a place peopled by cads and sneaks and curs—and the women half again as bad as the men?"

The young man grew warm, and the elder drew him out, and they discussed Balzac as they stood in the balcony and looked down on silent moonlighted Paris. The elder man smoked and smiled and shrugged his shoulders good-humoredly. The younger was as full of gesture and animation as if his life depended on the controversy.

"All right," the elder said at last. "I like to hear you talk, but Paris is Balzac to me still. Going to be in London some time?"

"I suppose so: yes," in a tone of sudden depression and discontent.

"I wish we might meet. I live in London, and I wish you would come and see me when we get back from our—holiday we'll call it."

The young man turned half away and leaned on the balcony as if he were looking very earnestly for something in the direction of the Champs Elysées. Then he faced his companion suddenly and said,

"I think you had much better not have anything to do with me: I should only prove a bore to you, or to anybody."

"How is that?"

"Well—in short, I'm a man with a grievance."

"Ay, ay? What's your grievance? Whom has it to do with?"

The young man looked up quickly, as if he did not quite understand the brusque ways of his new acquaintance, who put his questions so directly. But the new acquaintance seemed good-humored and quite at his ease, and evidently had not the least idea of being rude or over-inquisitive. He had only the way of one apparently used to ordering people about.

"My grievance is against the Government," the young man said with a grave politeness, almost like self-assertion.

"Government here: in France?"

"No, no: our own Government."[Pg 261]

"Ay, ay? What have they been doing? You haven't invented anything—new cannon—flying machine—that sort of thing?"

"No: nothing of the kind—I wish I had—but how did you know?"

"How did I know what?"

"That I hadn't invented anything?"

"Why, I knew it by looking at you. Do you think I shouldn't know an inventor? You might as well ask me how I know a man has been in the army. Well, about this grievance of yours?"

"I dare say you will know my name," the young man said with a sort of reluctant modesty, which contrasted a little oddly with the quick movements and rapid talk which usually belonged to him. Then his manner suddenly changed, and he spoke in a tone of something like irritation, as if he had better have the whole thing out at once and be done with it—"My name is Heron—Victor Heron."

"Heron—Heron?" said the other, turning over the name in his memory. "Well, I don't know I'm sure—I may have heard it—one hears all sorts of names. But I don't remember just at the moment."

Mr. Heron seemed a little surprised that his revelation had produced no effect. He had made up his mind somehow that his new friend was mixed up with politics and public affairs.

"You'll remember Victor Heron of the St. Xavier's Settlements?" he said decisively.

"Heron of the St. Xavier's Settlements? Ah, yes, yes. To be sure. Yes, I begin to remember now. Of course, of course. You're the fellow who got us into the row with the Portuguese or the Dutch, or who was it? About the slave trade, or something? I remember it in the House."

"I am the fool," Mr. Heron went on volubly—"the blockhead, the idiot, that thought England had principles, and honor, and a policy, and all the rest of it! I haven't lived in England very much. I'm the son of a colonist—the Herons are an old colonial family—and you can't think, you people always in England, how romantic and enthusiastic we get about England, we silly colonists, with our old-fashioned ways. When I got that confounded appointment—it was given in return for some old services of my father's—I believe I thought I was going to be another sort of Raleigh, or something of the kind."

"Just so; and of course you were ready to tumble into any sort of scrape. You are hauled over the coals—snubbed for your pains?"

"Yes—I was snubbed."

"Of course: they'll soon work the enthusiasm out of you. But that's a couple of years ago—and you weren't recalled?"

"No. I wasn't recalled."

"Well, what's your grievance then?"

"Why—don't you see?—my time is out—and they've dropped me down. My whole career is closed—I'm quietly thrown over—and I'm only twenty-nine!" The young man caught at his moustache with nervous hands and kicked with one foot against the rails of the balcony. He gazed into the street, and his eyes sparkled and twinkled as if there were tears in them. Perhaps there were, for Mr. Heron was evidently a young man of quicker emotions than young men generally show in our days. He made haste to say something, apparently as if to escape from himself.

"I am leaving Paris in the morning."

"Then why don't you go to bed and have a sleep?"

"Well, I don't feel like sleeping just yet."

"You young fellows never know the blessing of sleep. I can sleep whenever I want to—it's a great thing. I make it a rule though to do all my sleeping at night, whenever I can. You leave Paris in the morning? Now that's a thing I don't like to do. Paris should never be seen early in the morning. London shows to the best advantage early; but Paris—no!"[Pg 262]

"Why not?" Mr. Heron asked, stimulated to a little curiosity.

"Paris is a beauty, you know, a little on the wane, and wanting to be elaborately made up and curled and powdered and painted, and all that. She's a little of a slattern underneath the surface, you know, and doesn't bear to be taken unawares—mustn't be seen for at least an hour or two after she has got out of bed. All the more like Balzac's women."

Perhaps the elder man had observed Mr. Heron's sensitiveness more closely and clearly than Heron fancied, and was talking on only to give him time to recover his composure. Certainly he talked much more volubly and continuously than appeared at first to be his way. After a while he said, in his usual style of blunt but not unkind inquiry—

"Any of your people living in London?"

"No—in fact, I haven't any people in England—few relations now left anywhere."

"Like Melchisedek, eh? Well, I don't know that he was the most to be pitied of men. You have friends enough, I suppose?"

"Not friends exactly—acquaintances enough, I dare say—people to call on, people who remember one's name and who ask one to dinner. But I don't know that I shall have much time for cultivating acquaintanceships in the way of society."

"Why so? What are you going to London to do?"

"To get a hearing, of course. To make the whole thing known. To show that I was in the right, and that I only did what the honor of England demanded. I trust to England."

"What's England got to do with it? England is only so many men and women and children all concerned in their own affairs, and not caring twopence about you and me and our wrongs. Besides, who has accused you? Who has found fault with you? Your time is out, and there's an end."

"But they have dropped me down—they think to crush me."

"If they do, it will be by severely letting you alone; and what can you do against that? You can't quarrel with a man merely because he ceases to invite you to dinner, and that's about the way of it."

"I'll fight this out for all that."

"You'll soon get tired of it. It's beating the air, you know. Of course, if you want to annoy the Government, you could easily get some of us to take up your case—no difficulty about that—and make you the hero of a grievance and a debate, and so on."

"I want nothing of the kind! I don't want any one to trouble himself about me, and I don't care to be taken in hand by any one. If Englishmen will not listen to a plain statement of right, why then——But I know they will."

The conviction itself was expressed in the tone of one who by its very assertion protests against a rising doubt and tries to stifle it.

"Very good," said the other. "Try it on. We shall soon see. I have a sort of interest in the matter, for I had a grievance myself, and I have still, only I went about things in a different way—looking for redress, I mean."

"What did you do?"

"It's a longish story, and quite a different line from yours, and it would bore you to hear, even if you understood it. I got into the House and made myself a nuisance. I put money in my purse; it came in somehow. I watch the department that I once belonged to with the eye of a lynx. Well, I shall look out for you and give you a hand if I can, always supposing it would annoy the Government—any Government—I don't care what."

Mr. Heron looked at him with wonder and incredulity.

"Terrible lack of principle, you think? Not a bit of it; I'm a strong politician; I stick to my side through thick and thin. But in their management of departments, you know—contracts, and all that—governments are[Pg 263] all the same; the natural enemies of man. Well, I hope to see you. I am going to have a sleep. Let me give you my address—though in any case I think we are certain to meet."

They parted with blunt expression of friendly inclination on the one side and a doubtful, half-reluctant acknowledgment on the other. Heron remained standing in his balcony looking at the changes of the moonlight on the silent streets and thinking of his career and his grievance.

The nearer he came to England the colder his hopes seemed to grow. Now upon the threshold of the country he had so longed to reach, he was inclined to linger and loiter and to put off his entrance. Everything that was so easy and clear a few thousand miles off began to show itself perplexed and difficult. "When shall I be there?" he used to ask himself on his homeward journey. "What have I come for?" he began to ask himself now.

Times had indeed changed very suddenly with Victor Heron. He had come into the active world perhaps rather prematurely. When very young, under the guidance of an energetic and able father who had been an administrator of some distinction in England's service among her dependencies, he had made himself somewhat conspicuous in one of the colonies; and when an opportunity occurred, after his father's death, of offering him a considerable position, the Government appointed him to the administration of a new settlement. It is hardly necessary for us to go any deeper into the story of his grievance than he has already gone himself in a few words. Except as an illustration of his character, we have not much to do with the story of his career as an administrator. It was a very small business altogether; a quarrel in a far off, lately appropriated, and almost wholly insignificant scrap of England's domains. Probably Mr. Heron was in the wrong, for he had been stimulated wholly by a chivalrous enthusiasm for the honor of England's principles and a keen sense of what he considered justice. The Government had dealt very kindly with him in consideration of his youth and of his father's services, and had merely dropped him down.

This to a young man like Heron was simply killing with kindness. He could have stood up stoutly against impeachment, trial, punishment, any manner of exciting ordeal, and commanded his brave heart to bear it. But to be quietly allowed to go his way was intolerable, and, being accused of nothing, he was rushing back to England to insist on being accused of something. A chief of any kind in a small dependency is a person of overwhelming greatness and importance in his own sphere. Every eye there is literally on him. He diffuses even a sort of impression as if he were a good deal too large for his sphere, like the helmet of such portentous size in the courtyard of Otranto. To come down all at once to be an ordinary passenger to England, an ordinary "No. 257, au 3me" at the Hôtel du Louvre in Paris, an obscure personage getting out at the Charing Cross station and calling a hansom, nobody caring whence he has come, or capable, even after elaborate reminder, of calling to memory his story, his grievance, or his identity—this is something to try the soul of a patient man. Mr. Heron was not patient.

He was a young Quixote out of time and place. He never could let anything alone. He could not see a grievance without trying to set it right. The impression that anybody was being wronged or cheated affected and tormented him as keenly as a discordant note or an inharmonious arrangement of colors might disturb persons of loftier artistic soul. In the colonies queer old ideas survive long after they have died out of England, and the traveller from the parent country comes often on some ancient abstraction there as he might upon some old-fashioned garment. Heron started into life with a full faith in the living reality of divers abstractions[Pg 264] which people in England have long since dissected, analyzed, and thrown away. He believed in and spoke of progress, and humanity, and brotherhood, and such like vaguenesses as if they were real things to work for and love. People who regard abstractions as realities are just the very persons who turn solid and commonplace realities into shining and splendid abstractions. Young Heron regarded England not as an island with a bad climate, where some millions of florid men made money or worked for it, but as a sort of divine influence inspiring youth to noble deeds and patriotic devotion. He was of course the very man to get into a muddle when he had anything to do with the administration of a new settlement. If the muddle had not lain in his way, he would assuredly have found it.

He had so much to do now on his further way home in helping elderly ladies on that side who could not speak French, and on this side who could not speak English; in seeing that persons whom he had never set eyes on before were not neglected at buffets, left behind by trains, or overcharged by waiters; in giving and asking information about everything, that he had not much time to think about the St. Xavier's settlements and his personal grievance. When the suburbs of London came in sight, with their trim rows of stucco-fronted villas and cottages, and their front gardens ornamented with the inevitable evergreens, a thrill of enthusiasm came up in Heron's breast, and he became feverish with anxiety to be in the heart of the great capital once again. Now he began to see familiar spires, and domes, and towers, and then again huge, unfamiliar roofs and buildings that were not there when he was in London last, and that puzzled him with their presence. Then the train crossed the river, and he had glimpses of the Thames, and Westminster Palace, and the embankment with its bright garden patches and its little trees, and he wondered at the ungenial creatures who see in London nothing but ugliness. To him everything looked smiling, beautiful, alive with hope and good omen.

Certainly a railway station, an arrival, a hurried transaction, however slight and formal, with a customs officer, are a damper on enthusiasm of any kind. Heron began to feel dispirited. London looked hard and prosaic. His grievance began to show signs of breaking out again amid the hustling, the crowd, the luggage, and the exertion, as an old wound might under similar circumstances, if one in his haste and eagerness were to strain its hardly closed edges.

It was when he was in a hansom driving to his hotel that Heron, putting his hand in his waistcoat pocket, drew out a crumpled card which he had thrust in there hastily and forgotten. The card bore the name of

"Mr. Crowder E. Money,
Victoria street,

Heron remembered his friend of Paris. "An odd name," he thought. "I have heard it before somewhere. I like him. He seems a manly sort of fellow."

Then he found himself wondering what Mr. Money's daughters were like, and wishing he had observed them more closely in Paris, and asking whether it was possible that girls could be pretty and interesting with such an odd name.

[Pg 265]



"Of making many books there is no end," sighed a preacher in times when industrious readers might presumably have kept the run of current literature. Our advantage over Solomon is the utter hopelessness of reading the new works, not to speak of standard acres in the libraries. In this holiday season, chief hatching-time of books, it is pleasant to see them flocking out in numbers so vast. "Germany published 11,315 works of all classes in 1873, 12,070 in 1874, 12,516 in 1875." We rub our hands over statistics like these, because they check any mad ambition to master German contemporary literature; and besides, there are "1,622 newspapers and periodical publications in the German empire." As for the new works in our own tongue, the only way of getting through them would obviously be to do as legislators do with the laws they pass—"read them by title."

Earlier ages, that had not reached this happy hopelessness, produced great bookworms. When the old monks had devoured their convent libraries, they were fain to pay vast sums occasionally for extra reading, as St. Jerome did for the works of Origen; whereas now a reviewer can only glance at his "complimentary copies" of new books, so numerous are they. Bacon argued against abridgements, as if the body of literature could be compassed in his day. A century or two ago there were prodigious Porsons and Johnsons; but such gluttons are now rare. It is true that Mill, between his fourth and eighth years, read in the original all Herodotus and a good part of Xenophon, Lucian, Isocrates, Diogenes Laertius, Plato, and the Annual Register, besides Hume, Gibbon, Robertson, Miller, Mosheim, and other historians; while before the age of thirteen he had mastered the whole of Homer, Virgil, Horace, Sallust, Thucydides, Aristotle's Rhetoric and Logic, Tacitus, Juvenal, Quinctilian, parts of Ovid, Terence, Nepos, Cæsar, Livy, Lucretius, Cicero, Polybius, and many other authors, besides learning geometry, algebra, and the differential calculus. But that lad was crammed scientifically like a Strasbourg goose; our ordinary modern writers are not walking cyclopædias, and are rarely prodigious readers. It is no longer a reproach even for a man not to know all the literature of his specialty; while, as for general reading, when the "Publisher's Circular" tells us that the different books that mankind have made are numbered by millions, we sit down in a most comfortable despair, and pick to our liking.

Thanks to modern fecundity, critics rarely molest authors with demands for the raison d'être of a new book. The reviewer's question used to be, "Why did the man publish? What need was there? What is he trying to show?" One pontiff is said to have suggested burning up all the different books in the world, except six thousand, so that the rest might be read. There used to be pleas for condensations, as if people were still fondly hoping to compass the realm of literature and science, the blessed era of hopelessness having not yet dawned. But it is idle to plead against diffuseness now, when writers are paid by the page or line. "I want," said the editor of "La Situation" to Dumas, "a story from you, entitled 'Terreur Prussienne à Francfort'—60 feuilletons of 400 lines each; total, 84,000 lines." "And if it makes only 58?" responded Dumas. "I require 60, of 400 lines each, averaging 31 letters each line—744,000 letters." At noon of the day agreed upon, the manuscript was in the hands of M. Hollander. If Sir Critic ever came with foot-rule and condensing-pump to gravely detect diffusiveness in the "Terreur Prussienne," it must have diverted the high contracting parties.

It is said that a dialogue of Dumas the elder created a revolution in the French mode of paying romance literature. Dumas, who was reckoned by the line, one day introduced, they say, into his feuilleton this thrilling passage:

My son!
My mother!
[Pg 266] Speak!
Seest thou?
This poniard!
It is stained—
With blood!
Thy father's.

After that Dumas was paid by the letter. To say sooth, the same incident, with a different catastrophe, is related of Ponson Du Terrail, who, one day, in his "Resurrection de Rocambole," filled about a column with dialogue of this character:

He shuddered.

Accordingly, as the story goes, the author being summoned before the editor of the "Petit Journal," was notified that if this monosyllabic chat went on, he would be paid by the word. "Very well," replied the obliging novelist, "I will change my style;" and next day, M. Millaud was astounded to find the feuilleton introducing a pair of stammerers talking in this agreeable fashion:

"Wou-wou-would you de-de-de-deceive me, you wr-wr-wretch?" said the old corsair in a tone of thunder.

"I ne-ne-ne-never de-de-de-deceived an-an-an-anybody," exclaimed Baccarat, imitating the other's defect in pronunciation.

"Wh-wh-wh-where is Ro-ro-rocam-bo-bole?"

"You ne-ne-never will kn-know."

"He will make all his characters stutter soon," said Millaud. "We had better pay him by the line." Of course this is a story faite à plaisir, as is also the one that as soon as Dumas made his first contract by the line, enchanted with the arrangement, he invented dear old Grimaud, who only opened his mouth to utter "yes," "no," "what?" "ah!" "bah!" and other monosyllables; but when the editor, who knew the cash price of "peuh" and "oh," declared he would only pay for lines half full, Grimaud was slaughtered the next morning. However, these yarns show that the French can satirize their jerky, staccato style of feuilleton, with each sentence staked off in a paragraph by itself, like some grimacing clown, who expects each particular joke or handspring to be observed individually, and to be greeted with separate applause. Across the channel we of course find the English journals going to the other extreme, in insular pride, and packing distinct subjects into the same paragraph.

Greek and Roman Tuppers used, no doubt, to "reel off a couple of hundred lines, standing on one foot;" but the veneering of a thin layer of ideas upon a thick layer of words is naturally the special trait of our age of cheap ink and paper, of steam printing, and of paying for writing by long measure. The "Country Parson" is a favorite writer of this sort, whose excellence is in "the art of putting things," rather than in having many things to put. The essays of the "Spectator," "Guardian," "Tatler," "Rambler," rarely gave only a pennyworth of wit to an intolerable deal of words; but our modern periodical essay achieves success by taking some such assertion as "Old maids are agreeable," or "Old maids are disagreeable," and wire-drawing it into sundry yards of readable matter. Macbeth's

The Devil damn thee black, thou cream-fac'd loon!
Where got'st thou that goose-look?

would supply a modern playwright with a square foot of gold-beaten invective. "True poems," said Irving, "are caskets which enclose in a small compass the wealth of the language—its family jewels." But when poems are paid by the line, bards are pardonable for diffuseness. And then, besides diffuseness, our age has wonderful literary fecundity. Few people know how much painters paint, and how much great writers write; for the bards of a single poem, as Mr. Stedman shows, are exceptional, and rich quantity as well as rich quality is the usual rule for greatness, whether of novelist, poet, essayist, metaphysician, or historian. So here we come upon another source of the accumulated floods of literature. The other day I was looking through a prodigious list of the works of Alexandre Dumas, père. There were 127 of them, mostly novels—"Monte Christo," "Three Musketeers," "Bragelonne," and the rest that we used to read. They made 244 volumes; but the plays were not included, and many slighter miscellanies did not seem to be there; and the posthumous work on cookery was certainly not there; and of course there was no effort to collect everything from "Le Mois,"[Pg 267] "La Liberté," and the half dozen other journals he edited or wrote in; so that I doubt not the writings of this illustrious man, if ever brought together in a complete edition, would make at least 150 works of 300 or 400 stout volumes. And in English literature we have many Salas and Southworths. I remember an announcement in the "Lancet" that "Mr. G. A. Sala is completely restored to health, and in the full discharge of his professional duties." An expressive term, that "full discharge"!

Again, some popular authors employ apprentices to do the bulk of their work, only touching it up with mannerisms, and so turn out much more than if they wrought it all. The world, too, has now accumulated a myriad handbooks of facts and compilations of statistics, which enable writers with a fondness for theory, like Buckle, to have all their material ready to spin into generalization. Then there is a popular education toward prolixity in the telegraphic part of newspapers. The associated press writers from Washington seem to be selected for their inability to be terse and pithy, and dribble out the simplest fact with pitiful iteration. The special news-writers, being often at their wits' end for their dole of day's work, can hardly be asked to be laconic. The special messages which the ocean wires bring, doubtless with exquisite terseness and picturesqueness, are most carefully interwritten and diluted; so that, for example, the words "Thiers spoke at Coulmiers" become "M. Adolphe Thiers, president of the French Republic before the accession of the present Chief Executive, Marshal MacMahon, delivered an address, or rather made some remarks partly in the nature of an oration or speech on subjects connected with matters of interest at the present time, at the town of Coulmiers, which is situated"—and here follow a dozen lines from the Cyclopædia, but dated at Paris, giving the geography, history, and commerce of Coulmiers. One can fancy in the "Atlantic cable" columns of the "Morning Meteor" the tokens of a standing prescription to dilute foreign facts with nine parts domestic verbiage; and this kind of "editing" educates mankind to padding and patching with superfluous material.

It is harder for French writers to be prolix. The French writer is inevitably epigrammatic first, and, if diffusive afterward, it is with malice aforethought. If we compare, for example, publicists like Guizot and Gladstone, while each has that perfect command of his material, instead of letting the material command him, which marks the skilful writer, yet the Englishman sometimes seems to require two or three consecutive sentences to bring out his thought, whereas M. Guizot packs it into one. But Guizot deliberately goes on to put the identical statement into two or three paraphrased forms. For example, in the "History of Civilization in Europe" there is usually a terse sentence or two in each paragraph which contain the whole of it, packed into briefest compass; were these key sentences repeated on the side of the page as marginal notes, the reader could master the book by mastering the margins. When an English writer is diffuse, he cannot help it; when a French writer is diffuse, he effects it by sheer effort at repetition.

And we humble hack scribblers, who confidingly slip our daily, and weekly, and monthly mites into the vast mass of current reading turned out for an omnivorous public—let us hope that the world's maw may long remain unsated and the market unglutted.


While to many it has seemed a pity that the Johnston gallery should be broken up, yet this distribution of its treasures scatters the seeds of art education. Besides, the prices obtained at the sale must impress many wealthy men with a conviction valuable to the interests of art; namely, that pictures, like diamonds, are a safe investment, as well as a source of enjoyment and fame. Considering that the times are hard, and that pictures are luxuries, the sum thus paid for art treasures, so soon after the centennial purchases, is a proof of the number of good patrons that can be counted on when works of value are for sale. But the works must be of value. At a former auction in New York "old masters" brought these prices: Madonna Del Correggio, $30; two Murrillos, $160 and $90; a landscape of Salvator Rosa, $55; a Tintoretto, $115; a Guido, $35; "St. John," by Sir Joshua Reynolds, $15—and so on.[Pg 268] Every few months we find a so-called Titian or Raphael going for the price of the frame. Such auctions tell a story as emphatic as that of the Johnston gallery.

When the German painters were considering whether they should send canvases to the Centennial Exposition the "Allgemeine Zeitung" reminded them "that their works bring twice as much in America as in Germany." But each successive sale here shows that most buyers now know what is worth getting and what is not, though naturally some painters are the rage who will be forgotten fifty years hence. Still, the cynics are wrong in decrying the eagerness to buy painters who are in fashion. What harm in a millionaire's ordering a picture d'ameublement, to suit a particular room or panel, or in his ordering from the bookseller a hundred volumes of current novels? If the picture be good, whether bought by the foot for furnishing or whether painted under the microscope, its sale may aid the profession of art.

Comparing the Johnston sale with some of the famous auctions of the past four years at the hotel Drouot, we find that in the Paturle collection twenty-eight canvases bought $90,000, being all works of masters. The general prices were not higher than the Johnston prices, but Ary Scheffer's Marguerites brought 40,000 and 35,000 francs; a Troyon, 63,000; and Leopold Robert's admirable "Fishers of the Adriatic," 83,000 francs. The gallery of the Pereires brought 1,785,586 francs, which was rather higher than the Johnston total, but I believe there were more masterpieces. A head by Greuze brought 32,500 francs. The highest prices seemed to be carried off by the Dutch painters, who were in force, and three works by Hobbema, a country residence, a forest scene, and a windmill, brought respectively 50,000, 81,000, and 30,000 francs.

The prices for good pictures, taking into account agreeableness of subject and state of preservation, seem to be much the same in New York and Paris, though French newspapers fancy American taste for art to be at barbarian pitch. They should learn otherwise from the American painting and sculpture in Paris, London, Vienna, Florence, and Rome; they might learn otherwise from the discriminating appreciation of their own artists at such sales as Mr. Johnston's. The worst statuary as well as by far the best at Philadelphia last year was Italian, and some of the worst painting as well as the best was Spanish. There is some monstrous governmental art, no doubt, with us, but as for popular taste, there is nothing in America so vulgar as the cheap glass necklaces, tin spangles, and painted trinkets on the sacred images in the churches of Southern Europe. American travellers speak of the contrast between the beautiful cathedral and its hideous painted images bedizened with trash to which dollar-store jewels are gems of art; and the approaches to a splendid church or castle are very likely bedecked with clumsy, unvolatile angels, most terrestrial and unlovely. It is true that the decoration of temples and the adoration of images, whether under heathen or Christian auspices, has always fostered art; but American popular taste, low as it is supposed to be, would hardly set up in churches statues of painted wood only fit for tobacco shops. In Rome, where American taste is looked down upon, they have annual shows of painted wooden figures of saints and angels, in all hues, each uglier than the other, to be sold for putting upon the altars as votive offerings. In fact, wherever the "Latin race" is, the popular taste runs to blocks of the Virgin and Child resembling the lay figures in a tailor's shop.

The leading thought on this subject is that art has made greater strides in the United States within the past twenty years than for the century preceding. Twenty years ago there was comparatively no art public at all. There were not a quarter part as many foreign pictures here as to-day; there were not a fourth part as many American artists. The department of American water colors has been substantially created within ten years. The facilities for art education have been quadrupled within the same period, and the wealthy who form galleries have multiplied in like proportion. American progress in science and mechanism, though so great, falls short of American progress in taste and American productivity in the fine arts.

Philip Quilibet.

[Pg 269]



Prof. Clerk Maxwell says that the ordinary lightning rod is a great mistake. It acts to discharge electricity from the clouds at all possible opportunities, but these discharges are smaller than would occur without the rod. The true method is to encase the building in a network of rods, when it will take its charge quietly like a Leyden jar. Taking the case of a powder mill, it would be sufficient to surround it with a conducting material, to sheathe its roof, walls, and ground-floor with thick sheet copper, and then no electrical effect could occur within it on account of any thunderstorm outside. There would be no need of any earth connection. We might even place a layer of asphalte between the copper floor and the ground, so as to insulate the building. If the mill were then struck with lightning, it would remain charged for some time, and a person standing on the ground outside and touching the wall might receive a shock, but no electrical effect would be perceived inside, even on the most delicate electrometer.

This sheathing with sheet copper is not necessary. It is quite sufficient to enclose the building with a network of a good conducting substance. For instance, if a copper wire, say No. 4, B. W. G. (0.238 inches diameter), were carried round the foundation of the house, up each of the corners and gables, and along the ridges, this would probably be a sufficient protection for an ordinary building against any thunderstorm in this climate. The copper wire may be built into the wall to prevent theft, but should be connected to any outside metal, such as lead or zinc on the roof, and to metal rain-water pipes. In the case of a powder-mill it might be advisable to make the network closer by carrying one or two additional wires over the roof and down the walls to the wires at the foundations. If there are water or gas pipes which enter the building from without, these must be connected with the system of conducting wires; but if there are no such metallic connections with distant points, it is not necessary to take any pains to facilitate the escape of the electricity into the earth. But it is not advisable to put up a tail pointed conductor.


Mr. Barnaby, a prominent English naval constructor, has written a memorandum on the British mercantile marine as an adjunct to the navy in time of war. He points out that privateering has been made obsolete, not merely by popular feeling, but also by the progress of the arts. A privateer, he thinks, must be prepared to meet regular ships of war of about the same strength. This the introduction of steam machinery has made impossible. War ships are built for security, merchant steamers for economical work, and the different objects have necessitated different arrangements. In a word, the machinery of war ships is carefully disposed below the water line, that of marine vessels is usually above the water line. The latter would therefore be much more subject to injury from shot than the other. This state of things excludes from service as privateers all but the swiftest vessels, and Mr. Barnaby thinks that the use of the merchant marine "would be confined to ships that could save themselves by their speed if they met a ship of war, whether armored or not," and that only those which can steam eleven and a half or twelve knots an hour can be considered serviceable for privateering. This limits the number of vessels available for this service to 400 or 500, and the common idea that England can, in case of war, "cover the sea" with her ships is proved to be untrue. Even these vessels could not be used as privateers except against certain nations. The Government would be compelled to buy them, and this would cost, he estimates, a hundred to a hundred and fifty million dollars. This addition to the regular fleet he thinks would enable England to "close up every hostile port, and the slow steamers and the helpless sailing ships might cross the[Pg 270] seas in such security (privateering not being admissible) that merchandise would be as safe in the English ship as in the neutral." The fault in all this reasoning is that a ship of inferior speed is certain to meet with a swifter antagonist, and therefore become a capture. Our experience with the Confederate cruisers was that the efforts of a very large navy may be eluded and defied for years, without regard to the sailing qualities on either side.


The influence upon animals of their association with man formed the subject of an interesting discussion in the British Association meeting. Mr. Shaw read a paper "On the Mental Progress of Animals During the Human Period," and Dr. Grierson mentioned an instance of intelligence which had come under his own notice. Five years ago a barrel was put up in his garden at the top of a high pole. The barrel was perforated with holes and divided in the centre. In the course of two days two starlings visited the barrel, and returned on the following day, and in about a week afterward two pairs of starlings came and occupied it, and brought up their young. They were very wild starlings, and readily took flight when any person went near the barrel. In the second year four pairs of starlings occupied the barrel, and they were much tamer than the previous ones, and this last year there were a number of pairs of starlings so tame that they would almost allow him to take hold of them. They had now changed their mode of speaking, for the starlings in his garden frequently articulated words.


Whales have rudimentary limbs, and Prof. Struthers concludes that such muscles existed in the whale-bone whales, but in ordinary teethed whales they were merely represented by fibrous tissue. These muscles existing in the true bottle-nosed whale had a special interest, as the teeth in that whale were rudimentary and functionless. He had found these muscles in the forearms of whales largely mixed with fibrous tissue, so the transition was easy. Prof. MacAlister of Dublin thinks that whales were not of very ancient origin, for the existence of the rudimentary limbs tends to show that a sufficient length of time has not elapsed since the use of the limb was essential to the earlier animal to produce its complete obliteration.


The advance which this country has made in educational facilities of all grades within its hundred years of life was summarized as follows by Prof. Phelps, President of the National Educational Association:

"Prior to 1776 but nine colleges had been established, and not more than five were really efficient. Now there are more than 400 colleges and universities, with nearly 57,000 students, and 3,700 professors and teachers. Then little was done for the higher education of women. Now there are 209 female seminaries, 23,445 students, and 2,285 teachers. There are also 322 professional schools of various classes, excluding 23,280 students and 2,490 instructors. Then normal schools had no existence. Now there are 124, with 24,405 students and 966 instructors. There were then no commercial colleges. Now 127 are in operation, with 25,892 students and 577 teachers. Then secondary and preparatory schools had scarcely a name by which to live. Now 1,122 are said to exist, affording instruction to 100,593 pupils, and giving employment to 6,163 teachers. The kindergarten is a very recent importation. In 1874 we were blessed with 55 of these human nurseries, with 1,636 pupils and 125 teachers. Now 37 States and 11 Territories report an aggregate of more than 13,000,000 school population, or more than four times the total population of the country in 1776. Then the school enrollment was of course unknown. Now it amounts to the respectable figure of about 8,500,000. Then the schools were scattered and their number correspondingly restricted. Now they are estimated at 150,000, employing 250,000 teachers. The total income of the public schools is given at $82,000,000, their expenditures at $75,000,000, and the value of their property at $165,000,000. The number of illiterates by the census of 1870 above the age of ten years, in round numbers, was 5,500,000. Of these more than 2,000,000 were adults, upward of 2,000,000 more were from fifteen to[Pg 271] twenty-one years of age, and 1,000,000 were between ten and fifteen years. Of the number between fifteen and twenty-one years it is estimated that about one-half have passed the opportunity for education."


Mr. James Croll, in a letter to "Nature" (July 13, 1876), incidentally mentions the lessons that may be derived from the configurations of the earth's surface.

"Given the hardly perceptible wearing of water and time, a cañon a mile deep, and many hundreds of miles long, has resulted from the flowing of a stream. Given glacial 'abrasion' and time enough, then valleys of rounded section and firths and lake-basins of a particular kind probably resulted from the flowing of ice.

"Where a stream flows from source to mouth on a gradual slope, there has been no great disturbance of level since the stream began to work. Where ice fills the dales there are no cañons. Where ice has filled dales and has left fresh marks, cañons are short and small. In mountain regions, where ice-marks are rare or absent, cañons are of great depth and length, apparently because their streams have flowed in the same channels ever since the mountains were raised. But where cañons are marked features, these lakes, firths, and dales of rounded section are very rare, or do not exist. It seems therefore that hollows which have, in fact, been carved out of the earth's surface may be known for water-work or for ice-work by their shape, and that firths, dales, and lakes may mark the sites of local glacial periods; and cañons the sites of climates that have not been glacial since the streams began to flow."


One of the problems which geologists now propose to themselves is to ascertain definitely whether the existence of man before the close of the glacial epoch can be certainly proved. The method of proof consists in the examination of formations older than those of that epoch, in the hope of finding in them bones or implements of human origin. Mr. S. B. J. Skertchly thinks he has done this. In the valley sides around the town of Brandon, in England, "are preserved patches of brick-earth, which are valuable as affording the only workable clay in the district. Whenever these beds are well exposed they are seen to underlie the chalky boulder-clay of glacial age. Of this there cannot be the slightest doubt, for the glacial bed is typically developed and not in the slightest degree reconstructed. In these beds I have been so fortunate as to find palæolithic implements in two places; and in one of them quantities of broken bones and a few fresh-water shells. The implements are of the oval type, boldly chipped, but without any of the finer work which distinguishes the better made palæolithic implements. Although it would be rash to lay too great a stress upon the characters of these implements, it is nevertheless worthy of remark that they do belong to the crudest type. Equally rough specimens are found in the gravels above the boulder-clay, and even among neolithic finds. Still these very antique implements certainly do seem to belong to an earlier stage of civilization, if we regard them as examples of the best workmanship of their makers." These, he thinks, are the oldest specimens of man's handiwork known, and prove him to have lived before the culmination of the glacial epoch.


An anthropologist, M. Turbino, has written a paper on the relations of the people who inhabit Spain and Portugal, from which it appears that those civilized races present a heterogeneity that reminds us forcibly of the condition in which the savage tribes of America were at the time of the discovery, and indeed are still. There is found in the Spanish races no unity of origin or of physique. There is not only dissimilarity, but also antithesis and opposition. M. Turbino endeavored to show that the same diversity existed in the region of morals, in language, in art, and in the ideas of right and law, and that thus there is really no Spanish race and no means of establishing in the Iberian Peninsula a centralized state.

Broca, in discussing these facts, asserted that the same state of things exists everywhere; that the idea of race as applied to[Pg 272] the people of the present political divisions is untrue. The only great barriers of states are their geographical limits.


Prof. Maskelyne, of the British Museum, seems to be particularly gratified by the fall of a metallic meteorite in England. He says:

"It is, indeed, an iron meteorite, and the special interest of this statement lies in the fact that, though our great collection of 311 distinct meteorites at the Museum contains 104 indubitable iron meteorites, the falls of only seven of the latter were witnessed. The collection contains eight stony meteorites that have fallen in the British Islands; but the Rowton meteorite is only the second iron meteorite known as having been found in Great Britain."

It weighs seven and three-quarter pounds, is angular in shape, and he supposes that it is but the fragment of a much larger aerolite, since one loud explosion was heard and rumbling sounds, which may have denoted others, were heard before it fell.


Mr. A. W. Howitt, after many years' observation in Australia, reports that the boomerang, though a singular, is not the marvellous instrument which we are told of in some books of travel; especially does he deny it the power of continuing its flight after striking its object, and also the power of returning with exact aim to the thrower's hand. That might be in an instrument which was made with theoretical perfectness, but as it is the return flight is very wild. He had a trial made by several natives, one of them a boomerang thrower of great skill. The ground was good, and the only drawback was a light sea breeze. He found that the throws could be placed in two classes, one in which the boomerang was held when thrown in a plane perpendicular to the horizon, the other in which one plane of the boomerang was inclined to the left of the thrower.

In the first method of throwing the missile proceeded, revolving with great velocity, in a perpendicular plane for say one hundred yards, when it became inclined to the left, travelling from right to left. It then circled upward, the plane in which it revolved indicating a cone, the apex of which would lie some distance in front of the thrower. "When the boomerang in travelling passed round to a point above and somewhat to the right of the thrower, and perhaps one hundred feet above the ground, it appeared to become stationary for a moment; I can only use the term hovering to describe it. It then commenced to descend, still revolving in the same direction, but the curve followed was reversed, the boomerang travelling from left to right, and, the speed rapidly increasing, it flew far to the rear. At high speed a sharp whistling noise could be heard. In the second method, which was shown by 'bungil wunkun,' and elicited admiring ejaculations of 'ko-ki' from the black fellows, the boomerang was thrown in a plane considerably inclined to the left. It there flew forward for say the same distance as before, gradually curving upward, when it seemed to 'soar' up—this is the best term—just as a bird may be seen to circle upward with extended wings. The boomerang of course was all this time revolving rapidly. It is difficult to estimate the height to which it soared, making, I think, two gyrations; but judging from the height of neighboring trees on the river bank, which it surmounted, it may have reached one hundred and fifty feet. It then soared round and round in a decreasing spiral, and fell about one hundred yards in front of the thrower. This was performed several times. The descending curve passed the thrower, I think, three times.

"Another method of throwing was mentioned; namely, to throw the boomerang in such a manner that it would strike the ground with its flat side some distance in front of the thrower. It would then rise upward in a spiral, returning in the same. This was not attempted, as it was decided the boomerang was not strong enough. A final throw in a vertical plane, so that the missile struck the ground violently fifty or sixty yards in advance, terminated the display. It ricocheted three times with a twanging noise and split along the centre. My black friends said they should soon manufacture a number of the best constructed 'wunken' to show me. I observed that the spectators stood about a hundred[Pg 273] yards on one side of the thrower, and when the boomerang in its gyrations approached us, every black fellow had his eyes sharply fixed on it. The fact stated by them that it was dangerous was well shown in one instance, where it suddenly wheeled and flew so close over us that I and Toolabar fell over each other in dodging it."


Lieutenant Ruffner describes one of the great lava outflows in the West in a way that serves to set before the reader the magnitude of the eruptions which have made America par excellence the volcanic continent. It is in New Mexico.

From the Conejos river, in Colorado, one continuous sheet of lava covers the face of the country to the south, for eighty miles unbroken; and then for fifty miles further is now exhibited in outlying areas and detached masses, separated from the main body by the exercise of the power of erosion through prolonged ages. One hundred and thirty miles in length, and perhaps thirty in breadth at its widest, the area of a principality lies swallowed up for ever. From craters existing probably in the San Antonio mountain and in the Ute Peak, near the boundary of Colorado, and possibly from other centres, this flood poured over the land. Reaching to the east, it was checked by the mountains of the Sangre de Cristo range; flowing to the west, the mountains and hills of the main divide, and the spur now between the Chama and the Rio Grande, limited its extent. To the south it was deflected westwardly by the spur of the mountains called the Picuris range, some fifteen miles south of Taos. Protected by this spur, we find the east bank of the Rio Grande for many miles free from the flux. Confined on the west by the slopes of the Jemez mountains, the breadth of the field is narrowed. But from the village of San Ildefonso to Pena Blanca, we find the lava on both sides of the Rio Grande, spreading to the east as far as the Santa Fé creek. Secondary centres in the Jemez mountains possibly contributed to this extension, but the main force of the eruptions was probably felt further to the north. However, in this vicinity the edges and extremity of the field have been reached, and there has been so much erosion in places since its deposition, that outlying masses, as in the bluffs to the west of San Felipe, alone remain. Throughout the whole region thus depicted, the lava field is the great and controlling element. The streams that have eaten their way through it with untold difficulty are found in narrow and deep cañons having no land for cultivation. A dangerous feat for man to descend these precipices, the passage by an animal of burden is almost impossible. The Rio Grande passes for eighty miles or more through its black abyss, with walls of seven or eight hundred feet in height, crowned with perpendicular cliffs of solid lava, two and three hundred feet high. Throughout the whole region there is no agriculture.


In the last of a series of papers on cephalization (or brain development) as a fundamental principle in the development of the system of animal life, Prof. Dana says ("American Journal," October, 1876): "I would refer to the case among mammals for an illustration of the principle that the lowest forms are those having their locomotive functions located in the posterior parts of the body; and that in the higher the forces, or force organs, are more and more forward in the structure. For example, in the whale the tail is the propelling organ, and is of enormous power and magnitude, and the brain is very small, and is situated far from the head extremity in a great mass of flesh and bone furnished with poor organs of sense; a grade up, in the horse or ox, the tail or posterior extremity is no longer an organ of locomotion, and is little more than a caudal whip lash, and locomotion is performed by organs situated more anteriorly, the legs, and a well-formed head carries a brain which is a vastly higher organ of intelligence than that of the whale, but the legs are simply organs of locomotion, and the hinder are the more powerful; and higher up, in the tiger or cat, the fore legs—not the hind legs—are the organs of chief muscular force, and these have higher functions than that of simple locomotion, and further, the body is proportionately shortened, and the head is shortened anteriorly, or in the jaws, and approximates thus toward the condition of man. The existence[Pg 274] or not of a switch-like tail, as in ordinary quadrupeds, has little bearing on the question of the degree of cephalization, since the organ is not an organ of locomotion, or one indicating a large posterior development of muscular bone. But, approaching man in the system of life, even this seems to have significance."


The hot weather last summer affected even the herring fishery. The fishermen off the Scotch coast had been supplied with sea thermometers by the Scottish Meteorological Society, and they found that during one week, when the sea water showed a temperature of 58 deg. to 59 deg., no fish were caught. But when the temperature fell to 55 deg. the herring were caught in great abundance. Indeed, they flocked to the land in such numbers that many nets were taken to the bottom with their weight, and the fishermen lost considerable sums from this odd mishap. The action of the Meteorological has produced important results. The entirely new discovery has been made that the herring love cold water, and in seasons when the temperature of the sea water rises, they keep away from the land, in deeper water, between the fifteen to eighteen fathoms for which the nets are calculated. The colder the weather the greater is the take of fish; 1875, a year when the water was considerably and continuously warmer than 1874, having been a poor year, while the latter was a better one. This action of the fish makes it probable that it likes a given range of temperature, neither too high nor too low. In cold water this belt of agreeable temperature is found nearer the sun-warmed surface, and the fish creep inshore. Many singular facts relating to this fishery are known. If a thunderstorm occurs, the fishermen expect a good catch on that day, but the next day they will get none except in deep water, and the supposition is that the fish are leaving the land. The herring has a strong sense of locality, always returning to the same ground. Experienced dealers can tell by inspection in just what sea or loch a given lot of fish were caught.


A paper describing the use of natural gas in the puddling furnaces at Leechburg, Pa., was presented by Mr. A. L. Holley to the American Institute of Mining Engineers. This well is about twenty miles northeast of Pittsburg, on one of the side tributaries of the Alleghany river. It had been drilled in search of oil to a depth of 1,250 feet in 1871, but none was found. A great flow of gas was developed, however, accompanied by a slight spray of salt water, and this has continued with little or no diminution to the present time. The gas in its escape has been discharged through a five-inch pipe, and at a pressure of from sixty to eighty pounds per square inch. The rolling mill of Messrs. Roger & Burchfield is on the opposite side of the river, and it has been for some years devoted to the production of fine grades of sheet iron from charcoal pig metal, by puddling and in knobbling fires. The usual weekly product of the mill has been thirty tons of No. 3 tin plates and fifty tons of No. 24 to twenty-eight sheets.

The well was bought by this firm for $1,000, and the gas is led across the river, a distance of 500 feet, through a three-inch pipe. It is distributed through half-inch pipes, and at a pressure of about forty-five pounds per square inch, to several of the furnaces. No essential alteration in any of the furnaces has been found necessary in the use of the gas fuel, except to brick up the fire bridge and to put in the gas and air pipes. The old grate used for coal is loosely covered with bricks and cinder, so that a slight percolation of air may take place through them. The gas is admitted through a half-inch pipe, and blows toward the fire-bridge through eighteen or twenty one-eighth inch jets. The air is blown in, at about 2 lbs. pressure, through two one and one-eighth-inch jets, obliquely down upon the centre of the hearth, and a very perfect combustion is obtained. A great improvement is effected in the quality of the product of the puddling furnaces by the combined action of the gas and air blast. The air is blown in during the melting, but it is then shut off until the boiling begins. It is then turned on full, and a violent boiling action is maintained without any rabbling. Many advantages[Pg 275] result from the use of this fuel. The product of the mill has increased about thirty per cent., from sixty to seventy tons of coal are saved daily, besides the labor necessary to fire with it, and a poorer quality of iron can be used in making the tin plate. Thus the iron now used is credited to the furnace at $45 per ton, while charcoal blooms have cost $80. These are certainly enormous advantages, and though every mill cannot have a permanent gas well, it must be more economical to produce such results by making coal into gas than to continue using it in the solid form. The gas at Leechburg is used in fourteen furnaces and under seven boilers. Its composition is carbonic acid, 0.35; carbonic oxide, 0.26; illuminating hydrocarbons, 0.56; hydrogen, 4.79; marsh gas, C H4, 89.65; ethyl hydride, C2 H6, 4.39; specific gravity, 0.558. This analysis shows about 57 per cent. of carbon and 42 per cent. of hydrogen. If the well discharges one million cubic feet of gas daily, it would weigh about sixty tons, yielding thirty-nine tons of carbon. Mr. Holley calculates that it equals about 150 tons of bituminous coal, such as is found in the Pittsburg region.


In England the favorite source of phosphates of lime is the "Cambridge coprolites." These are small, hard, gray nodules, obtained by washing a stratum, of about one foot in thickness, lying in the upper greensand formation in Cambridgeshire. Similar coprolites are found and mined in other districts of England, but they are of inferior quality, containing more oxide of iron and alumina. These give the tribasic phosphate of lime, which results from the application of sulphuric acid to the nodules, a tendency to "go back" to the insoluble condition. French nodules are of inferior quality from another cause. They contain very much silica, sometimes even forty per cent. The Cambridge coprolites are so much esteemed that buyers of artificial manure often stipulate that it shall be made from them. As a consequence the privilege of mining the ground is costly, sometimes as much as $1,500 an acre being paid. The yield is about three hundred tons to the acre. An English chemist reports that the South Carolina phosphate, made in factories situated in and near Charleston, ranks next in value to this Cambridge product. It contains 54 per cent. of tribasic phosphate of lime, 14 per cent. of carbonate of lime, 3-1/2 per cent. of iron oxide and alumina, 2-1/2 per cent. of fluoride of calcium, and 15 per cent. of silica. It consists of bone fragments derived from animal species which are now extinct. These bones have accumulated in old river beds, and the mining operations are compelled to follow the sinuosities of these streams. Though a supply derived from such sources is necessarily limited, the quantity known to be available is very great, and has been estimated to last a century with a yearly extraction of 50,000 tons. In addition to the river phosphate is a lighter deposit, occurring in a stratum of sand and clay about two feet thick; but this is not so valuable, though it is softer and easier ground. The river deposit is nearly black, and when ground makes a very dark powder. It is a great favorite, and in some respects the finest natural source of phosphatic manure in the world.


The operations of the Government assay office in Frankfort during the last year have developed the fact that gold, platinum, palladium, and selenium are found in old silver coins and also in ores which were formerly supposed to be nearly pure sulphides and oxides of lead and silver. From 400,000 pounds of silver and 5,000 pounds of gold were obtained twelve pounds of platinum, two pounds of palladium, and several pounds of selenium. To obtain these the gold is first precipitated from the solution by ferrous chloride, all the other metals by iron turnings. The precipitate is first submitted to the action of ferric chloride to dissolve the copper, and the residue is fused with charcoal and soda to separate the selenium. The regulus from this operation is dissolved, and a compound of selenium and palladium, or of these with platinum, is obtained. They are composed of equal atoms of the two metals and form hard brilliant plates. The presence of these metals in coins is less remarkable than in such ores as those of Commern and Mechernich on the west[Pg 276] bank of the Rhine. These ores occur as small granules of galena in a soft sandstone, their origin being still a mooted point. The ore yields a very soft and pure lead, though the presence of pyrite prevents the manufacture of the virgin lead used in making the best brands of white paint.


The French government has placed on the top of the Puy de Dome a meteorological observatory, which, as that is the highest land in France, answers to our stations on Mt. Washington and Pike's Peak. It is, however, constructed in a style very different from those somewhat forbidding abodes. At the top is an observatory tower, placed on a platform, and upon this is placed the anemometer, especially constructed to withstand the force of the storms. Within the tower is a well hole fifty feet deep, which leads to a tunnel more than a hundred feet long, at the end of which is placed the keeper's house. This is a massive building, situated a short distance from the top, where it is partly protected by rocks. The whole work cost $45,000, and $20,000 more will be spent in supplying it with apparatus.


A new theory has been broached to explain the migrations of the Norway lemming, a variety of field mouse. Every few years an immense body of these animals leaves their habitat and proceed westward, attacking every obstacle in front in preference to flanking it, until it reaches the sea, which the little animals boldly enter, only to perish there. No conceivable advantage to the lemming is known to have ever resulted from these long and arduous marches. The losses in swimming large rivers, from fire, the attacks of predatory animals, hunger, and fatigue, are so great that but few reach the sea, and the remnant always perish there. Mr. W. Duppa Crotch, who has studied the habits of these animals for ten years, now suggests that they are moved by an hereditary instinct, and that their prehistoric home was some country west of Sweden, and now covered by the Atlantic. The same kind of reasoning would allot an Atlantic origin to the progenitors of the grasshoppers, which have been such plagues in this country for a few years, for, as stated in the August "Galaxy," those which moved eastward in 1875 did not halt until they perished on the ocean beach or in its waves. Mr. Crotch has thrown new light on some of the habits of the lemming. According to him, says "Nature," the migration is not all completed in one year, as formerly supposed, nor do they, as stated, form processions and cut their way through obstacles; but, breeding several times in the season, they gather in batches, and at intervals make a move westward. Their pugnacity, he states, is astonishing, and the approach of any animal, or even the shadow of a cloud, arouses the anger of this small creature like a guinea pig, and they back against a stone or rock uttering shrill defiance. Our author found, in most examples, a bare patch on the rump, due to their rubbing against the said buttress of support when at bay. He wonders why a bare patch, and not a callosity, should not result from this innate, apparently hereditary habit.


A very interesting discovery of human remains has been made in a cave in Cravanch, about two miles northwest of Belfort, France. Some workmen, excavating in a quarry of Jurassic limestone, found the opening to the cave, the bottom of which was covered with stalagmites, while there were no corresponding stalactites hanging from the roof. Some of these calcareous columns appear to be artificial piles covered with the limestone sheeting. Between them, and also covered with stalagmite, were a quantity of human skeletons, with the skulls raised above the rest of the bodies. A number of weapons and implements, together with a mat of plaited meshes, have been found, all belonging to the polished stone period. It is thought that careful search may uncover remains of an earlier date. The cave is quite large, a hundred feet long and forty wide and high. It was at once taken possession of by the authorities and placed under the charge of Mr. Felix Voulot, who hopes to extract at least one skeleton entire.[Pg 277]


The most noticeable features of the month are: the hurricane of the 17th to 23d; lower temperatures in the districts east of the Rocky mountains; large excess of rainfall in some districts and large deficiencies in others; low water in the rivers.

Areas of High Pressure.—These have generally appeared in the Upper Missouri valley, from whence their movements have been south and eastward across the country. Their advance has been frequently marked by high northerly winds and gales, especially when preceded by decidedly low-pressure areas, in the more northern districts and on the Texas coast. When rainy weather has preceded them, the fall in the temperature has been sufficient to turn the rain into sleet and snow, while frequent and heavy frosts have been produced.

Areas of Low Pressure.—Nine have been traced. Excepting the hurricane of the 17th to 23d, the centres of all have moved over the northern sections, and further northward than during previous Octobers. They have been frequently accompanied by barometric troughs, extending south or southwestward toward the Gulf, in which rainy weather and high winds or gales have prevailed.


Cape May73"34"
Mt. Washington48"5"
New Orleans84"50"
New York73"31"
Pike's Peak41"-2"
San Diego80"48"
San Francisco72"52"

The first frost of the season is reported from a large number of stations, and first snow from about twenty.

Verifications.—The average is 92.8 per cent. for the weather; 90.1, wind direction; 91.1, temperature; 87.7, barometric changes. For the whole country the average verified is 90.4 per cent. There were four omissions to predict out of 3,720, or 0.1 percent.

A severe earthquake shock was felt at San Francisco at 9:20 p.m., on the 6th, lasting ten seconds; motion from northwest to southeast. A second and lighter shock was felt the same day.


Probably few American travellers visit a collection of antiquities, infinitely older than the paintings, statues, and relics of mediæval life, or even than those of Roman and Grecian age, but which is as freely open to them, near Paris. This is the museum which has been established in the château of Saint Germain. France has been particularly fortunate in rescuing fragments of the life which existed within her borders long before the day of the very earliest races to which history points us. These fragments have sometimes been preserved in the most fortuitous manner, and afford unique illustrations of the remarkable accidents to which man is occasionally indebted for his knowledge. The fossil man of Denyse, whatever his age may have been, has been preserved for our inspection by becoming overwhelmed in a volcanic eruption. The skeleton of Mentone was found by Rivière while engaged in a systematic search among French caves. Other caves in France have preserved evidences sufficiently distinct for us to gain valuable hints of ancient life. In fact all the ages of man, so far as they are recognized, and all the kinds of proof concerning them, are well represented in French collections. During the reign of the late Emperor this museum was founded, and has received the case of many noted French savants who have won distinction in this field of research. The walls are covered by finely painted maps illustrating the distribution of caves, and rock shelters, and places where instruments of stone, bone, and bronze have been found. Pictures are also exhibited which illustrate the views of former social customs which are thought to be supported by the material evidences assembled in the château. In the cases are not only large collections of celts, but also the carved bones, horn, and stones which, by their distribution through the stalagmite of caves, or through the gravel of ancient river beds, give infallible[Pg 278] proof of the presence of man. One floor contains a collection not less interesting, though illustrating the manners of a much later age. It is formed of the military weapons, bridges, fortifications, camps, etc., which were constructed to illustrate the "life of Cæsar," by Napoleon. This collection is, and will probably remain, unique. At the meeting of the Geographical Congress last year, these great engines of war were taken to the park and exhibited in action. The museum is now placed under the control of the historical commission for constructing the map of Gaul. This body is publishing a series of maps and engravings to illustrate the progress of the science of the prehistoric and subsequent periods. A catalogue of the collections has been made and is sold to visitors. There is also in the establishment a special library in which has been collected by M. Gabriel de Mortillet all the books relating to prehistoric antiquities, and which is open free on certain days to the public.

It is found that insects preserve their colors better under yellow glass than in any other color. The curtains of entomological show-cases and the blinds of the room should be yellow. Only in this way can the delicate carmine tints of some insect wings be preserved.

A student of animal nature announces a case of two hens, who by joint efforts hatched one chick. They have since, for some weeks, been parading the yard, each clucking and manifesting all the anxiety and care of a true mother over this one. The hens never quarrel, or show the least appearance of jealousy or rivalry.

M. Tresca, who has charge of the Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers, the institution which in Paris answers to our Patent Office, says that drawings of new inventions are more useful than models, are cheaper, and are very much oftener consulted. In Paris the model room is covered with dust and rarely entered.

The French weather bureau intends not only to study the thunderstorm, hailstorm, rainfall, inundations, and frosts, with especial reference to their effects upon agriculture, but also to experiment upon the asserted effect of smoke as a preventive to frost. The experiments will be extensive and may cover a large valley.

To discover by the spectroscope the smallest quantity of a gaseous or very volatile hydrocarbon, the Messrs. Negri introduce a small quantity of the gaseous mixture into a tube. This mixture should not contain oxygen, carbonic oxide, or carbonic acid; and the pressure is to be reduced to not more than twenty millimetres. Then if a hydrocarbon is present, the passage of a spark from a Ruhmkorff's coil will cause the appearance of a sky-blue light. Viewed with the spectroscope, this presents the spectrum of carbon, and generally so brilliant as to mask totally the spectra of other gases present.

The rare metals cerium, lauthanum, and didymium have been lately investigated by Drs. Hillebrand and Norton, in Bunsen's laboratory. Cerium looks like iron, having both its color and lustre, but is heavier, and has the hardness of calcite. It tarnishes slowly in dry air and rapidly in moist air. It ignites so readily that pieces scratched off inflame, and its wire burns more brilliantly than magnesium wire. Lauthanum is a little harder, but also a little lighter. It tarnishes more easily and inflames less easily than cerium. Didymium resembles lauthanum. The metals were all obtained by electrolysis of the chlorides.

It is stated that a week's work in Birmingham comprises, among its various results, the fabrication of 14,000,000 pens, 6,000 bedsteads, 7,000 guns, 300,000,000 cut nails, 100,000,000 buttons, 1,000 saddles, 5,000,000 copper or bronze coins, 20,000 pairs of spectacles, six tons of papier maché wares, over £30,000 worth of jewelry, 4,000 miles of iron and steel wire, ten tons of pins, five tons of hairpins and hooks and eyes, 130,000 gross of wood screws, 500 tons of nuts and screw bolts and spikes, fifty tons of wrought iron hinges, 350 miles' length of wax for vestas, forty tons of refined metal, forty tons of German silver, 1,000 dozens of fenders, 3,500 bellows, 800 tons of brass and copper wares—these, with a multitude of other articles, being exported to almost all parts of the civilized world.[Pg 279]

The aërated beverages of which Americans are so fond should not be kept in copper vessels, for carbonic acid (which is the gas present) dissolves this metal with great avidity. From three-hundredths to one-tenth of a grain of copper per gallon has been found in aërated lemonade, ginger ale, soda water, etc.

In making the ultimate analysis of organic compounds by combustion, with lead chromate and metallic copper reduced by hydrogen, the results obtained are too high, on account of the expulsion of hydrogen, which had been occluded by the copper. Heating the copper to 150 deg. C. does not prevent the error, which may be .05 per cent.

Mayer & Walkoff, who have been experimenting on the respiration of plants, find that the action goes on both in light and darkness, and that changes of temperature within normal limits have little effect. There is no direct relation between growth in length and respiration, a conclusion that is in conflict with that of previous experiments.

The famous "Blue Grotto" in the island of Capri, Italy, has been investigated spectroscopically. Most of the light enters through the water, which absorbs the red rays entirely and so much of the yellow as to make the D line scarcely visible. The green, blue, and indigo rays are very bright, and the F and b lines unite in a well marked absorption line.

The springs of Weissenburg in the Bernese Oberland yield a water which is popularly supposed to have the power of cicatrizing cavities in the lungs, but its analysis shows no reason for such a power. Sulphates of lime and magnesia are its principal solid ingredients, with chloride and a little iodide of lithium and an organic compound having the odor of blackberries.

The mountains about Innsbruck in the Tyrol, as well as other parts of the Alps, present the singular phenomenon of a climate more moderate at a considerable elevation than in the valleys. Prof. Kerner finds that there is a warm region midway up the mountain, lying between two colder zones above and below it. We have heretofore referred to a similar phenomenon in Indiana.

It is remarked by anthropologists that differences of color are one of the most marked signs of race. The Aryan word for caste is Varanum, meaning color, and the Aryans are supposed to have used it to distinguish themselves from the Dasyuf, with whom they came in contact on crossing the Indus, when migrating from Central Asia. The first migrating wave from that centre of human creation can no longer be traced, and only its remnants are found among the most degraded of the hill tribe and slave population in India. Prof. Rollesten thinks that the earliest races of man were preëminently of the Australioid type, which is now brown-skinned and wavy haired, with long narrow heads.

Messrs. Gladstone & Tribe have been investigating the results of the decomposition of alcohol by aluminium. When absolute alcohol, in which iodine has been dissolved, is poured upon finely divided aluminium in a flask, energetic action takes place and large quantities of hydrogen are evolved. A pasty mass remains, and this heated to 100 deg. C., gives off alcohol, and leaves a solid residue, which liquefies at 275 deg. C., alcohol and an oily body containing iodine passing over. At a higher temperature, this product was again decomposed, with formation of alcohol, ethylene, and alumina. But the most interesting results were obtained under diminished pressure. Then a greenish white solid sublimed, and this was found to be aluminic ethylate. This is therefore the second known organometallic body, containing oxygen, which is capable of distillation, cacodylic oxide being the other.

[Pg 280]


Prof. Huxley's ingenious if somewhat shallow evasion of the Biblical account of creation, by crediting it to Milton rather than to Moses, has perhaps aroused many minds to inquire what modern theologians really do think of the first chapters of Genesis. This question is answered by a recent publication[12] by Dr. Cocker of the Michigan State University. In the "Theistic Conception of the World" he treats the first two chapters of the Bible as a poem, which he calls the "symbolical hymn of creation." It has an exordium, six strophes, each with its refrain, and an episode. He does not believe the sacred narrative intends to describe the exact mode of forming the world, nor even to set the successive events in order. It is an ascription, designed to embody in symbolical language the fact that all existence is derived from God. One paragraph will show the broad ground on which this conclusion is based:

A cursory reading of the narrative will convince any one that its purpose is not to enlarge men's views of nature, but to teach them something concerning nature's God. It says nothing about the forces of nature, the laws of nature, the classifications of natural history, or the size, positions, distances, and motions of the heavenly bodies. From first to last, every phenomenon and every law is linked immediately to some act or some command of God. It is God who creates, God who commands, God who names, God who approves, and God who blesses. Strike out the allusions to God, and the narrative is meaningless. Clearly it was never intended to teach science. It has obviously one purpose, to reveal and keep before the minds of men the grand truth that Jehovah is the sole Creator and Lord of the heavens and the earth; and it leaves the scientific comprehension of nature to the natural powers with which God has endowed man for that end.

But the author believes that the Mosaic account is practically correct, or perhaps we should say harmonious with the truth. It may be truthful without being all the truth, or truthful and still be very defective. He considers that when scientific knowledge is complete, the Scripture, rightly interpreted, will be found in harmony with its final conclusions. How Moses was made acquainted with the events of creation is a matter upon which it is impossible to be positive. The author sees no objection to the suggestion that he may have witnessed a series of pictures or visions, the result of which upon his mind is given in the hymn of creation. This explanation of the Biblical narrative forms but a small part of the work, which is chiefly given to a discussion of the views and positive discoveries of scientific men which relate to the production of the world. It is a remarkable tribute to the overmastering power of positive knowledge. Science and theology are mingled in an extraordinary way, but a way that is now necessary, for there is not one province of human thought that has not been compelled to acknowledge the great possibilities of inductive reasoning. Dr. Cocker labors to establish the old faith on the new ground. He is a man of great reading and has a strong belief in the religion to which he has given his heart. Every question is approached in the firm faith that when rightly interpreted it will be found to sustain the Christian religion. This is the fundamental fault of the work. It is a plea for a cause that does not need it, for a cause that is quite as apt to lose as to gain by the defence. The difficulty with this method of meeting the hypothesis of science is that the scientific views are themselves in a state of unstable equilibrium. They may topple at any moment, and then the correspondence that eager devotees have found between them and the Bible is a slur that falls altogether on the religion and not on the science. This is a great error, and those who are drawn into it belittle the cause that is dear to them. While our author is catholic in his reading, he does not seem to assign to all writers in his field their just value. His quotations, the fresh, the obsolete, the trustworthy, and the doubtful, are mingled in a confusion that only the experienced can penetrate. His book is creditable to[Pg 281] his unshaken faith, and it presents the religious aspect of modern knowledge in a thorough manner.

It is not strange that under the present condition of the general mind the question as to the right of the State to teach religion at the public expense should be regarded with unusual interest. This question has been very ably discussed by the Rev. Dr. Spear, whose book upon the subject,[13] originally published as a series of essays in "The Independent," is notably thorough and notably calm and judicial in tone. Dr. Spear considers the subject in both its constitutional and its equitable aspect, and the conclusion to which he is led is that "the public school, like the State, under whose authority it exists, by whose taxing power it is supported, should be simply a civil institution, absolutely secular and not at all religious in its purposes, and all practical questions involving this principle should be settled in accordance therewith." He admits that this logical result of his argument excludes the Bible from the public school, just as it excludes the Westminster Catechism, the Koran, or any of the sacred books of heathenism. But, as he justly says, this conclusion pronounces no judgment against the Bible and none for it; it simply omits to use it and declines to inculcate the religion which it teaches. It is difficult to see how any other view of the case can be taken consistently with the spirit of our institutions, from the Constitution of the United States downward; and it is a cheering promise of the disappearance of bigotry, even in its milder forms, when we see this view set forth by a distinguished orthodox minister of the Gospel. There still, however, remains this question in connection with religious toleration and religious qualifications—Does a religion one element of which is absolute subservience to the will of a foreign potentate or prelate, the Roman or the Greek, for example, and which undertakes to deal with a civil relation, marriage for example, come properly within the provision for universal religious toleration, or does it not, for the reasons assigned, assume a relation to the State more or less political?

Captain Whittaker's "Life of General Custer"[14] can no more be estimated by fixed biographical rules than the meteoric career of his hero can be compared to the regular and peaceful lives of other men. Not often, perhaps, does the biographer devote himself with such enthusiastic abandon to his task, and seldom is there to be found within the covers of a single volume such an infinite variety of incident and personal reminiscence. The chapters which deal with the early youth of General Custer are exceedingly interesting photographs, as it were, of a certain phase of American domestic and academic life. The characteristics of the child, the sorrows of the "plebe," and the aspirations and experiences of the cadet, are faithfully narrated. The first service of the subaltern, and his initiation into the perils and responsibilities of an officer in time of war, are interwoven with Custer's own recollections of his generals and their campaigns. We are irresistibly reminded of Lever in the style of the narration, and of that dashing creature "O'Malley" in the adventures of our own dragoon. The story of General Custer's wooing is quaintly told, and shines like a bow of promise through all the clouds of his stormy career; it is a romance by itself. Apropos of the charge which we are told won the boy general his star, we clip a bit of word painting which could only have been written by "one who has been there":

Were you ever in a charge—you who read this now by the winter fireside, long after the bones of the slain have turned to dust, when peace covers the land? If not, you have never known the fiercest pleasure of life. The chase is nothing to it; the most headlong hunt is tame in comparison. In the chase the game flees, and you shoot; here the game shoots back, and every leap of the charging steed is a peril escaped or dashed aside. The sense of power and audacity that possesses the cavalier, the unity with his steed, both are perfect. The horse is as wild as the man: with glowing eyeballs and red nostrils, he rushes frantically forward at the very top of his speed, with huge bounds as different from the rhythmic precision of the gallop as the sweep of the hurricane is from the rustle of the breeze. Horse and rider[Pg 282] are drunk with excitement; feeling and seeing nothing but the cloud of dust, the scattered flying figures; conscious of only one mad desire, to reach them, to smite, smite, smite!

The author of this book is too much of an artist, too much of a poet, perhaps, to divest his battle descriptions of anything that is doubtful in fact, if only it is eulogistic of his hero or picturesque in its nature. He has an eye for color, and prefers to have his picture a showy and effective one even if some of the accessories are purely of the imagination. We cannot consider the letters of the "Times" special correspondent as a reliable history of the events immediately following the battle of Gettysburg, although they are undoubtedly glowing bulletins of the exploits of General Kilpatrick and his temporary subordinate, General Custer. Nor can we accept the statement of the Detroit "Evening News" for an entirely correct report of the grand review at Washington, in 1865, when he hands down to posterity that sober-sided old warrior, Provost Marshal General Patrick, as one who "had ridden down the broad avenue bearing his reins in his teeth, and his sabre in his only hand"; although the Mazeppa act in which Custer immediately followed is not overdrawn by the "News," because that would be "painting the lily." There are several other extracts from newspapers of a similar nature, but we have not space to refer to them. Captain Whittaker's book offers material for that "coming historian," but cannot be looked upon as an entirely safe historical authority. Colonel Chesney says, "Accept no one-sided statement from any national historian who rejects what is distasteful in his authorities, and uses only what suits his own theory.... Gather carefully from actual witnesses, high and low, such original material as they offer for the construction of the narrative. This once being safely proved, judge critically and calmly what was the conduct of the chief actor; how far his insight, calmness, personal control over others, and right use of his means were concerned in the result." The great fault of this otherwise attractive biography is the unwise partisanship which, as Captain Whittaker shows, was so injurious to his hero in life and which even in death does not forsake him. At page 282 Captain Whittaker says of alleged envy and jealousy of Custer in certain quarters:

A great deal of this was due to the boasting and sarcastic remarks of his injudicious friends, who could not be satisfied with praising their own chief without depreciating others.

Thus the author, after warning his readers of the pit into which so many others have fallen, proceeds in the most inconsistent manner to fall into it himself.

Had we space, we could here make many extracts entirely free from the foregoing objections. Many new descriptions of Indian life, never before in print, are here given; some excellent essays on the prominent phases of American military life; and many anecdotes and biographical sketches of the officers who fell with Custer on the "Little Big-horn," with portraits, are also given. The volume is a very large, handsome octavo, illustrated by two portraits of General Custer (one an excellent likeness on steel), and many full-page woodcuts, and seems especially seasonable as a holiday present. No biographical collection can be considered complete without it, and we should think it would have an especial charm to military readers. That Mrs. Custer is to receive a share of the receipts from its sale will not lessen its circulation.

Palestine is certainly an inexhaustible source of books, and Dr. Ridgaway[15] tells us the reason why. Travellers' descriptions of the grand mountain scenery, its strange deserts, its ancient customs, transmitted from the dawn of history, its trees a thousand years of age, and its mighty ruins, contribute to and intensify the interest which the Christian feels in that region alone of all the earth. Of late years this country has been the scene of systematic explorations and the theme of an important series of critical works. Dr. Ridgaway's volume deserves a place in this series, though he has little of novelty to present. But the author has produced just the book that was needed, the one which it might be supposed the first[Pg 283] traveller there would have written. Leaving out nearly all the every-day incidents of travel, he aims to extract from each place he saw just what is of interest to the Bible student. He is to be congratulated on a rare ability to discriminate between the important and entertaining and what is matter-of-course. The plan of his journey, which was made in company with eleven others, mostly clergymen, was to follow the route of the Israelites from Egypt to Palestine, and then to visit every place made memorable by the life of Christ, besides many others of Biblical interest. He tried to be critical, and constantly discusses the pros and cons for admitting the received location of prominent points; but in this he is not very successful, and seems to decline at length into helpless acquiescence. He rejects the innovations and doubts of such men as Robinson and Baker, and acknowledges that the sacred sites have for the most part been identified. But there is a limit to even his credulity. He swallowed easily the "exact spot" where the cradle lay, but strained at the fragment of a column on which Mohammed is to sit when he judges the world, and says, "I was unable to resist the temptation to straddle it!" Perhaps the secret of Dr. Ridgaway's success is that he has omitted those rhapsodies which are natural enough amid such scenes, but which we get our fill of without going to Palestine. He is too full of the real situation to turn to fanciful imaginations, and as a consequence he gives us the best companion to the Bible which we know of. The critical results of his journey are small, but as a careful summary of what others have finally settled upon his work is authentic. A large number of engravings, of the best execution, bring the landscape and buildings vividly before us. Many of them are from Dr. Ridgaway's sketches, others from photographs, and the only fault we have to find is the omission of titles to them, an omission which is artistic, but inconvenient.

—Lieutenant Ruffner[16] does not give a very assuring picture of New Mexico, considered as a possible State in our Union. It has never prospered; its population and area of cultivated land being smaller now than three hundred years ago. As these changes are no doubt due to the operation of natural causes, about which scientific men do not agree, the immediate future of the country does not appear very flattering. Wide as the spread of westward migration has been, it has hardly affected New Mexico. Lieutenant Ruffner says: "The line once crossed, a foreign country is entered. Foreign faces and a foreign tongue are encountered." For twenty-six years the Territory has formed a part of our country, but in that time our civilization has hardly made an impression upon it. The author, without directly saying so, seems to regard the scheme for making it a State with disfavor, and his readers will agree with him. He has done his country a service by this painstaking and impartial description of a region which few but army officers know anything about.

—It is a very difficult thing nowadays to write a book of travels that can interest the general public. A hundred years ago a man who had circumnavigated the world was a remarkable object, and people would crowd to see him, and read his works with avidity. But what a change the last century has produced. Compare the difference of tone between 1776 and 1876, and then go back and compare 1676 with the former year. There is not anything like a parity of advance between the two centuries. The traveller and sailor was as much of a hero in 1776 as was the captain of the Vittoria, the last ship of Magellan's fleet when he sailed into Cadiz in 1522, having been round the earth and lost a day in the operation; just as Mr. Phileas Fogg, of later fame, gained one by going in the opposite direction. Men who have been to China and India, Australia and New Zealand, are too plentiful to-day to excite notice; and when it comes to writing books about their adventures, it is necessary to be cautious to avoid treading in old tracks and wearying the reader. The man who describes a voyage round the world to-day must be a character of interest in himself, or he will not interest his audience. The writer of the book now before us[17] possesses the qualifications for the task seldom possessed by the[Pg 284] professional traveller, who is apt to bore one with long stories. He has the eye of a newspaper correspondent, the quick intuition as to what is or is not interesting per se, and has actually succeeded in making an interesting and readable book of three hundred pages out of a subject nearly worn out. Mr. Vincent started from New York in a clipper ship, went round the Horn to San Francisco, thence to Hawaii, where he remained some weeks, thence to New Zealand and Australia, finally to Calcutta, and thence home to New York, after a prolonged tour through India, Siam, and China. The incidents of the latter tour formed the basis of his first book, the "Land of the White Elephant," the success of which encouraged him to this, his second venture. The chief characteristic of Mr. Vincent's second work is its freshness and interest. He seems to be profoundly impressed with the truth of the saying of Thales of Miletus, that "the half is sometimes more than the whole." The taste and judgment of the author are shown by what he leaves out as much as by what he leaves in. There is hardly a dull page in the book, and in each place he only notes what is curious, leaving out of the question all that is commonplace. More could not be asked of him.

We have received the first number of the "Archives of the National Museum at Rio de Janeiro."[18] This is a scientific institution, and from the number of officers named it appears to be prepared for inaugurating thorough work in archæology, geology, botany, zoölogy, etc. Its aim, however, is not merely the study of pure science, but its application to the immediate welfare of man through agriculture and the industries. The director general is Dr. Netto, and the secretary Dr. Joao Joaquin Pizarro. Most of the officers are Brazilians, but our countryman, Prof. Hartt, is director of the "sciencias physicas," including geology, mineralogy, and palæontology. This first number of the "Archivos" contains papers in the Portuguese language on aboriginal remains, one by Prof. Wiener and Prof. Hartt, and one by Dr. Netto on a botanical subject.

Prof. Walker's work in both the Census Bureau and the Indian Department shows how original and critical his mind is. The first fruit of his activity as a professional teacher of political economy is an extended treatise on the question of wages.[19] He seems to have found himself unable to make the views of the systematic writers always harmonize with his own conceptions, and his work is to a considerable extent controversial. One of his prominent objects of attack is the wage-fund theory, which is that wages are paid out of capital, that a certain portion of the capital in every country is charged with this duty, and that the rate of wages could be accurately determined if the amount of this fund and the total number of laborers could be ascertained. This theory makes the savings of past labor to be the source from which wages are paid. Prof. Walker argues that "wages are, in a philosophical view of the subject, paid out of the product of present industry, and hence that production furnishes the true measure of wages." Labor is an article which the employer buys because it forms a necessary part of a certain product which he intends to sell. The price which he expects to obtain for the product controls the amount he can afford to pay for the labor. It is true that the money paid must necessarily come from past savings unless the laborers wait for their pay, as they formerly did in this country. But in making this payment capital merely advances the money, and its possessor receives interest for its use; the amount of this interest being another element that is controlled by the price which the manufacturer expects to obtain for the product. Prof. Walker thinks it not surprising that the erroneous wage-fund theory found acceptance in England, where the facts on which it is based were first observed. But he marvels that American thinkers can accept it, for the condition of some classes of laborers here was, so late as half a century ago, a decided disproof of it. Farm hands, for instance, were formerly often paid at the end of the year, for the reason that there was not capital enough in farmers' hands to make the advances necessary for[Pg 285] weekly or monthly payments. Here was a case in which the employer clearly had to wait for the product before he could pay the wages. No past savings were available for the purpose. The author's arguments are always clearly put and forcible, but his position loses strength by the very character of his task. He has so completely separated the wages question from all others, that we miss the natural collocation of wages with the other items which make up the cost of a product. The capitalist has one and the same purpose in buying raw material and labor, and no discussion of the subject can seem complete that does not proceed from the likeness or unlikeness of these two components of value. Another theory which our author combats strongly is that the interest of the employer is sufficient to keep wages up to the highest profitable point. He holds that the laborer must be active in his own interests, or he will never obtain that rate of payment which is necessary to his proper maintenance. Bad food reduces the quantity and quality of the laborer's work, so that more men have to be hired for a given task, and the employer pays more in the end for his product, than when wages are good; but even this prospective loss is not sufficient to keep employers from experimenting to find just that point to which wages may be lowered without affecting food disastrously. This disposition of the employer can be combatted only by the resistance of the laborer. Prof. Walker thinks there is a "constantly imminent danger that bodies of laborers will not soon enough or amply enough resent industrial injuries which may be wrought by the concerted action of employers or by slow and gradual changes in production, or by catastrophes in business, such as commercial panics." Of course he does not advocate strikes, which "are the insurrections of labor," but even these are to be judged by their results. The results may or may not justify them. He considers that coöperation is a real panacea that can successfully take the place of violent measures. He denies the assertion that coöperation gets rid of the capitalist. It merely avoids the business man, who in the present order of things borrows the capital, hires the laborers, and directs the business. Practically he is a salaried man. Prof. Walker finds difficulty in giving this man a title suitable for use in treatises on political economy. He objects to "undertaker" and "adventurer," because they have other meanings, and suggests the French entrepreneur. The objections are well taken, but the middleman is not only a reality; he also has a name by which he is known in business. If Prof. Walker wants to have a cellar dug or rock blasted, he can go to Pennsylvania and find a "venturer" to undertake the work; and there seems to be no good reason why a term that is already in common use and well understood should be rejected by the schoolmen. This is a valuable contribution to political economy, so valuable, in fact, that we can only say that it should be read, not demonstrate the fact in a short notice.

"Elsie's Motherhood"[20] is a story in which piety of the Sunday-school kind is curiously contrasted with villany in the shape of Ku Klux outrages. Elsie's children are all sweetness, obedience, and kisses, and live in an atmosphere of goodness that is revolting because it is monstrous. There is a suspicion of political purpose associated with the appearance of the book just at this time which does not improve it.

—The author of "Near to Nature's Heart"[21] shows abundant powers of invention, but his imagination is not sufficiently well regulated for the production of a natural or even plausible story. The individual who is so intimate with nature is a young girl whose father has fled from England and hidden himself in the forests of the Hudson river on account of a quarrel with his brother, which he (erroneously) supposes to have been a fatal one. His seclusion is so complete that his daughter grows up almost without the sight of man or womankind except the three who are in her father's hut, and the consequence is a partial reversion to the wild state from which we are nowadays supposed to have been somewhat removed by the process of evolution. The author dresses the nymph in[Pg 286] a style that ingeniously indicates the character he desires to paint. "Her attire was as simple as it was strange, consisting of an embroidered tunic of finely dressed fawn skin, reaching a little below the knee, and ending in a blue fringe. Some lighter fabric was worn under it, and encased the arms. The shapely neck and throat were bare, though almost hidden by a wealth of wavy golden tresses that flowed down her shoulders. Her hat appeared to have been constructed out of the skin of the snowy heron, with its beak and plumage preserved intact, and dressed into the jauntiest style. Leggings of strong buckskin, that formed a protection against the briers and roughness of the forest, were clasped around a slender ankle, and embroidered moccasins completed an attire that was not in the style of the girl of the period, even a century ago." This nymph was fishing, and for a float used the bud of a water lily! This is quite characteristic of the author's idea throughout. In losing civilization this girl put on all the supposed graces and none of the known brutishness of the wild state. The result is an incongruous character, but it is quite in harmony with the general notion that the natural state is one of greater perfection than that we really dwell in. As for the story, it relates to Revolutionary times, introduces Washington and the Continental army, with battles, dangers, and other lively and thrilling situations. In plot it is crude and rough. The author makes the artistic mistake of introducing religion as a principal element of his tale, though it does not relate to a time or to persons characteristically religious. The variety of incident, the presence of historical characters, including Washington and "Captain" Molly, and a certain quantum of real skill in the author, will no doubt make this book acceptable to the uncritical, but it does not deserve the attention of others. We notice that the publishers announce the "fourteenth thousand," which is the best indication of the book's popularity.

The ranks of the rhymers of the day are thronged with women, among the better of whom is the author of "Edelweiss,"[22] who has gathered her occasional verses into a pretty volume under the title of that graceful and tender little poem. Her title-page bears no publisher's name and her dedication to friends, whose loving kindness has welcomed them one by one, and at whose request they have been gathered together, seems to imply that they are privately printed. If this is because no publisher would undertake the production of the volume, we do not wonder; not because of the inferiority of the poems, for they are much better than many that do find publishers. They belong to a large class in which the world cannot be brought to take any great interest—verses expressive of various emotions, love, devotion, resignation, and so forth, which are all uttered with fervor or with tenderness, verses graceful in style, and in good rhythm, and which yet produce no great impression; while on the other hand they are much above that sentimental or that sententious twaddle which sometimes finds many admirers. It is sad to see so much of this sort of verse published; for it is the occasion and the sign of woful disappointment to persons of unusual intelligence and true poetic feeling, who, however, have not in any great measure the poetic faculty.

—"Frithiof's Saga" has been often translated into English, and we have here the result of one more effort to give us the great Swedish poem in our own language.[23] The principal difference between this translation and its predecessors is that this preserves the changing metres of the original. It was undertaken chiefly because it seems the Swedes have not been satisfied with the previous translations because they did not follow the metre of the original. The reason is not a good one, and the result of the attempt to conform to it is not very happy. There is no question of pleasing the Swedes with a translation into English. It is English ears that are to be consulted by what is written in English, whether original or not. The Swedes have the original; that is for them; the English version is for us. The effect of the many[Pg 287] and great changes in the rhythm and in the form of the verse is not pleasant to our taste; and indeed we are inclined to think that the best translation of this or of any other "Saga" would be into rhythmic prose, which embodied the spirit, but did not simulate the form of the original.

—It is very unfortunate for what is often called American literature, that almost all attempts to treat any part of our history poetically or dramatically are miserable failures. Among the verse books before us two are of this kind; one by Mr. George L. Raymond,[24] who has written in what he supposes is the ballad form some things which are not at all ballad-like, and which are dreary stuff under whatever name; and the other a thing which Mr. Martin F. Tupper[25] seems to suppose is a drama in blank verse upon the events of our war of independence. A more stupid and ridiculous performance we have rarely seen. That it should be read through by any one seems to us quite insupposable. And yet, although he has written this and "Proverbial Philosophy," Mr. Tupper is a D. C. L. of Oxford and an F. R. S.

—Something of a far higher quality than this is Mr. Bayard Taylor's "National Ode" written for the Centennial celebration. It is to be regretted, we think, that Mr. Taylor was not able to give himself up entirely to poetical composition. He has the poetic faculty, and his verse is nervous and manly, far better, we think, than his prose. Had he been a poet only, he might have taken a still higher place in contemporary literature. This poem, well known to the public, is one of his finest and most spirited efforts. The present edition[26] is very handsomely illustrated and printed.

—Charles Sprague is an "American" poet of the last generation, who is almost forgotten, and indeed quite unknown to readers of the present day. He has something of Campbell in his style—Campbell in his calm and serious moods. It may have been desirable to reprint his poems and essays in an attractive volume,[27] with his portrait; but we fear that he belongs to the class of middling writers of prose and verse who were much talked of by our fathers chiefly because they were "American."

—One of the best of the many volumes of verse upon our table is the collection of poems by Mrs. S. M. B. Piatt.[28] Mrs. Piatt's muse is often thoughtful, but in all that she has given us, of which much is attractive in form and suggestive in substance, these lines that follow are the most valuable. They refer to the altar which Paul found at Athens "To the Unknown God":

Because my life was hollow with a pain
As old as death: because my eyes were dry
As the fierce tropics after months of rain,
Because my restless voice said, "Why?" and "Why?"
Wounded and worn, I knelt within the night
As blind as darkness—Praying? And to Whom?—
When yond' cold crescent cut my folded sight,
And showed a phantom Altar in my room.
It was the Altar Paul at Athens saw.
The Greek bowed there, but not the Greek alone!
The ghosts of nations gathered, wan with awe,
And laid their offerings on that shadowy stone.
The Egyptian worshipped there the crocodile;
There they of Nineveh the bull with wings;
The Persian there with swart, sun-lifted smile
Felt in his soul the writhing fire's bright stings.
There the weird Druid held his mistletoe;
There, for the scorched son of the sand, coiled bright,
The torrid snake was hissing sharp and low;
And there the Western savage paid his rite.
"Allah," the Moslem darkly muttered there;
"Brahma," the jewelled Indies of the East
Sighed through their spices with a languid prayer;
"Christ?" faintly questioned many a paler priest.
And still the Athenian Altar's glimmering Doubt
On all religions—evermore the same.
What tears shall wash its sad inscription out?
What hand shall write thereon His other name?

The last five lines of Mrs. Piatt's poem express finely the feeling as to God and religion which now fills countless numbers of the truest hearts and brightest minds.

—"As You Like It" has just been published in the "Clarendon Press Series of Shakespeare's Select Plays." Mr. Grant[Pg 288] White, in his article "On Reading Shakespeare," in the present number of "The Galaxy," has said so much in regard to this series and its present editor,[29] William Aldis Wright, that it is only necessary for us to record here the appearance of this edition of Shakespeare's most charming comedy, and to say that Shakespeare's lovers and students will find in it some new views which are interesting, and appear to be sound, and a copious and careful body of annotation.

—Of poetry, or rather of verse, as we before remarked, our table is full this month, and with it we have a dictionary to teach us to rhyme withal.[30] "Walker's Rhyming Dictionary" has had complete possession of this field for three quarters of a century, and we are not sure that it will be supplanted by Mr. Barnum's. His new plan is very systematic. He classifies his words in groups—single rhymes, double rhymes, triple, quadruple, and even quintuple rhymes; and then he divides and subdivides and parcels off his words under separate headings. He does not give definitions. The book will be valuable to the student of the English language, more so, we are inclined to think, than to the mere rhyme-hunter, who will prefer to run his finger and his eye down a column of words arranged merely according to their final letters.

—Mr. Tennyson's new dramatic poem is before us in the elegant Boston typography of Ticknor & Field's worthy successors.[31] The poet laureate added little to his fame by his previous dramatic work, "Queen Mary"; he will gain less by this. It is good of course to a certain degree, but it is only "fair to middling" Tennysonian work. We find in it not a passage that stirs us, not one that charms. It puts the story of the Norman Conquest of England into a dramatic form and into good blank verse, with sound and sensible treatment of the subject, and that is all. Its author's good taste, and above all his experience, his dexterity, acquired by such long practice, are manifest on every page; but there is little more. He dedicates it to the present Lord Lytton, in evident desire to wipe out the memory of the old feud between him and Bulwer Lytton; but that was too black and too bitter to be sponged away with a little sugar and water.

—Mr. Latham Cornell Strong is modest in his preface about his collection of verse,[32] although he is rather too elaborately metaphorical in his way of blushing properly. He says, as to the flaws in his poems, that he "has a reasonable confidence that they will not all be discovered by any one reader." This may be true from the probable fact that no one reader will read them all; we think that we have met with enough of them to show that Mr. Strong might well have refrained himself from publication. For example, we think that a true poet could hardly have written many such passages as these, and there are many such in the volume:

The night is rising from the trees,
Her hands, uplifted, trail with stars
The moon hath flung its banners on the sward
Old Rupert named, alone of all the rest
She most esteemed, for he had brought her flowers,
To wreathe her tresses and make manifest
His sympathy for her, in many ways expressed

The last four lines unite incorrectness, tameness, and inelegance with remarkable and fatal facility.


[12] "The Theistic Conception of the World. An Essay in Opposition to Certain Tendencies of Modern Thought." By B. F. Cocker, D.D., LL.D. New York: Harper & Brothers.

[13] "Religion and the State; or, The Bible and the Public Schools." By Samuel T. Spear, D.D. 12mo, pp. 393. New York: Dodd, Mead & Co.

[14] "A Complete Life of General George A. Custer," etc. By F. Whittaker, Brevet Captain Sixth N. Y. V. Cavalry. New York: Sheldon & Co.

[15] "The Lord's Land: A Narrative of Travels in Sinai, Arabia, Petræa, and Palestine, from the Red Sea to the Entering in of Hamath." By Henry B. Ridgaway, D.D. New York: Nelson & Phillips.

[16] "New Mexico and the New Mexicans: A Political Problem." By an Officer of the Army.

[17] "Through and Through the Tropics." By Frank Vincent, Jr. New York: Harper & Brothers. 1876.

[18] "Archivos do Musen Nacional do Rio de Janeiro." Imprensa Industrial.

[19] "The Wages Question. A Treatise on Wages and the Wages Class." By Francis A. Walker. New York: Henry Holt & Co. $3.50.

[20] "Elsie's Motherhood." A Sequel to "Elsie's Womanhood." By Martha Finley (Farquharson). New York: Dodd, Mead & Co.

[21] "Near to Nature's Heart." By Rev. E. P. Roe. New York: Dodd, Mead & Co.

[22] "Edelweiss: An Alpine Rhyme." By Mary Lowe Dickinson. New York, 1876.

[23] "Frithiof's Saga. A Norse Romance." By Esais Fegner, Bishop of Wexio. Translated from the Swedish by Thomas A. Holcombe and Martha and Lyon Holcombe. 16mo, pp. 213. Chicago: S. C. Griggs & Co.

[24] "Colony Ballads, etc., etc., etc., etc." By George L. Raymond. 16mo, pp. 95. New York: Hurd & Houghton.

[25] "Washington: A Drama in Five Acts." By Martin F. Tupper. 16mo, pp. 67. New York: James Miller.

[26] "The National Ode. The Memorial Freedom Poem." By Bayard Taylor. Illustrated. 8vo, pp. 74. Boston: William E. Gill & Co.

[27] "The Poetical and Prose Writings of Charles Sprague." 16mo, pp. 207. Boston: A. Williams & Co.

[28] "That New World, and Other Poems." By Mrs. S. M. B. Piatt. 16mo, pp. 130. Boston: James R. Osgood & Co.

[29] "Shakespeare." Select Plays. "As You Like It." Edited by William Aldis Wright, M.A., Bursar of Trinity College, Cambridge. 16mo, pp. 168. Oxford: at the Clarendon Press.

[30] "A Vocabulary of English Rhymes." Arranged on a new plan. By the Rev. Samuel W. Barnum. 18mo, pp. 767. New York: D. Appleton & Co.

[31] "Harold: A Drama." By Alfred Tennyson. 16mo, pp. 170. Boston: James B. Osgood & Co.

[32] "Castle Windows." By Latham Cornell Strong. 16mo, pp. 229. Troy: H. B. Nims & Co.

[Pg 289]


—The evolutionists manifestly feel that they are put upon their defence in the matter of religion. As far as they themselves are concerned, they are at peace with their own consciences; but nevertheless they do not sit easily under the charge of atheism which is very generally brought against them by that part of the world to which science does not stand in place of religion. They are now making desperate efforts to show that they have a religion, and Mr. M. J. Savage has written a very clever book upon the subject, entitled "The Religion of Evolution." Mr. Savage is a very pronounced evolutionist; he sticks at nothing in the most extravagant form of the new theory, and the attitude which he would take toward religion is clearly shown in the title of his previous volume on a kindred subject, "Christianity the Science of Manhood." It is safe to say that although Mr. Savage and others like him may call themselves Christians and believe themselves to be so, and may live lives worthy of the name, no man who twenty-five years ago was a professed believer in the Christian religion, and comparatively very few of those who are so now, would accept the term science as applicable to Christianity or to religion at all. For science means knowledge, knowledge of facts, and cautious logical deductions from those facts; whereas the very essence of religion is a faith which holds itself above knowledge and reason, a faith which is not only the substance of things hoped for, but the evidence of things not seen. And this great definition, one of the greatest ever given, applies not particularly to the faith of the Christian religion, but to all faiths—Judaism, Mohammedanism, Buddhism, and the rest. The true religionist will sooner accept one of these as a religion than a religion of evolution, or than he will consent to accept Christianity as a science of anything—of manhood, or even of God-hood.

—It is with this view of religion, this feeling about it, that the evolutionists have to deal when they endeavor to free themselves from the charge of irreligion. This is a state of the case which some of them do not seem to appreciate at its full importance. They shirk it, or at least they slight it; but Mr. Savage, it must be admitted, meets it fairly and boldly. He takes the position that such a view of religion is unworthy of a reasonable creature, and he brushes it aside with little ceremony and with some dexterity. But his chief difficulty is with the conception which lies at the foundation of all religions—the idea of god. Granted a god, or gods, and religion follows as a matter of course; and conversely, no god, no religion. Therefore the evolutionists, those of them who feel, or who see the necessity of a religion, of whom Mr. Savage may be taken as a fair representative, go about to provide themselves and the rest of the universe with a god, and they do it in this fashion. It is shown to the satisfaction of the evolutionists, and also of very many who have no respect for their theory, that the Mosaic cosmogony—that is, the account in Genesis of the creation of the earth and its inhabitants, and all the visible universe—has never been proved, and is incapable of proof, and that it holds its place in popular belief solely because of its supposed connection with Christianity; that it is merely a tradition (from however high and venerable a source), and that it rests upon no knowledge or study of the facts which it professes to explain; that it is in no way connected with Christianity, which would stand on its own merits equally whether the world were six thousand or six million years old, and whether it and its inhabitants were made in six days or six æons; that it—the Mosaic account of the origin of the world—explains nothing, but simply tells dogmatically that God made all and that God did so and so; that no intelligent person would think of resting satisfied with the Mosaic account, had it not come to be regarded as a requirement of religion to do so, but that this has become so fixed that the whole orthodox[Pg 290] system is the natural and logical outgrowth of the Mosaic account of the beginning of things: "the prevailing belief about God, the nature and the fall of man, total depravity, the need and the schemes for supernatural redemption, the whole structure, creed, and ritual of the Church, the common belief about the nature and efficacy of prayer meetings, the whole system of popular revivals, limited salvation, and everlasting punishment"—all and each being built on the foundation of the Mosaic cosmogony. Therefore for the vast number of intelligent thoughtful people to whom the Mosaic account of the creation is no longer authoritative, although it may be mythically instructive, the foundation of their religion is gone. It is then assumed that religion must rest upon a veneration for the creative power or agent to which the present cosmos owes its existence, and that as the traditional God or Creator of Genesis has been eliminated from cognition by science, his place in religion must be taken by the power by which he is supplanted. Hence we have the god of evolution and the religion of evolution.

—But what is this god of evolution? In a very remarkable series of papers which have appeared for some months past in "Macmillan's Magazine," upon Natural Religion, remarkable equally for the subtlety and closeness of their thought and their clearness of style, something called Nature is set up as God; Mr. Savage's god, as nearly as we can make out, is the law of evolution—the formative power by which the universe passed from a mass of fluid fire, revolving in space, into suns, and suns and planets, and their inhabitants. In either case it amounts to about the same thing. What is nature? We may be sure the word is not used in the sense which it has when we say that a man admires nature, loves nature, or observes nature, nor in that which it has when we speak of the nature of things or the nature in a work of the imagination, or the nature of man, or "the nature of the beast." What is it then? We are very sure that the "Macmillan" writer, with all his delicacy of thought and command of expression, could not say exactly what he means when he speaks of this Nature which is so worthy of reverence and of love. For this reason, and for no other, we may be sure, he has left the word undefined. This is important; for, as Mr. Savage says in his eleventh chapter, when he proposes the question whether evolution and Christianity are antagonistic, so that one necessarily excludes the other—"that depends upon definitions."

—The truth is that this whole question is one greatly of definitions. What do you mean by God? what by Nature? what by religion? We are inclined to think that if the two parties on one side and the other of the great question of the day were to have a preliminary settlement of definitions, it would become plain that there could be no discussion, certainly no profitable discussion, between them—no more than there could be a fight between a deep-sea fish and a chamois. They would find that there was no ground on which they could meet, no point on which they could come in contact! To one God is, and must be, a person, an individual, who, however spiritual, eternal, omniscient, and omnipresent, is yet as much a person as a man having a will, with purposes, affections, feelings, sentiments, as indeed every spiritual being must have—a being who can be feared, revered, admired, loved. Religion to these men is worship of this person, obedience to his will because it is his, faith in him, love of him. The god of the evolutionists, on the other hand, is, if Nature, a mere manifestation or result; if a law, a mere mode or rule of action. As to the religion of evolution, we cannot, with all Mr. Savage's help, and that of the "Macmillan" writer (who, we are sure, must be a man of mark, or at least one who will become so), discover what it is, except a conformity to what may be called the law of nature; but that is something of which a healthy beast or a drop of water is quite as capable as a man is; and such conformity implies feeling quite as much in one of these cases as in the other. It implies feeling in no case; and religion without feeling, sentiment, and faith is no religion at all in the sense which the word has had from the beginning of its use to this day. The religious man finds in his God a being whom he can love and lean upon, who has a right to his obedience, to whom he can be loyal, whom he can[Pg 291] address, calling him Father, as we are told that Christ did. But you cannot love a law. True, David says, "O how I love thy law"; but the law that he loved was the will of the Supreme Being, and he loved it because it was His. It was not a mode of action or of evolution that he loved. Nor can you obey such a law, although you may conform to it; nor can you be loyal to it, for you cannot be loyal to an abstraction. As to fatherhood, this law-god of evolution is the father of nothing except as two and two are the father and mother of four. Therefore, while we regard such books as Mr. Savage's as interesting expositions of the condition as to super-scientific subjects into which modern science has brought many of its votaries, we cannot see that they do anything toward refuting the charge brought against science (as it is among the evolutionists), that it is at war with religion, and takes away all the grounds of religious faith. For that which the evolutionists set up as a god religious people regard as the mere creature of the true God; and what they set up as religion the others regard utterly lacking in all the essentials of religion. It would be much better for the evolutionists to face this whole question boldly, as Mr. Savage does in part, and to say that the result of their investigations is the belief that there is no God, and consequently that there need not be, and in fact cannot be, any religion in the sense in which that word has for centuries been used. Moreover, we cannot see the grounds of one pretence which is made by the evolutionists, and which is implied if not in terms set up in all their writings that are not purely scientific and have what may be called a moral character, such as the book before us. This is that their theory accounts for everything, and is more consistent with reason than that of those who accept with faith the book of Genesis. The evolution theory is, in the words of Mr. Savage, "that the whole universe, suns, planets, moons, our earth, and every form of life upon it, vegetable and animal, up to man, together with all our civilization, has developed from a primitive fire-mist or nebula that once filled all the space now occupied by the worlds; and that this development has been according to laws and methods and forces still active and working about us to-day." But if it be granted, or even proved, that this is true, we cannot see how it satisfies the reason when we come to the question of creation and a creator. For what a stupendous, unutterably stupendous, and almost inconceivable thing was that fire-mist that filled all space and had in it not only the germs and possibilities of suns and moons and planets and our earth, but of man and all his civilization; and those laws and methods and forces according to which the universe and man and his civilization have been evolved from a fire-mist—what inconceivable things they are! Now who made the fire-mist and the law of evolution? We cannot see that reason is satisfied by the substitution of a fire-mist and a law of evolution for the will of a creator and a specific creation of the suns and stars and planets, including the earth, and man, and his possibilities of civilization. The thing is as broad one way as it is long the other. As far as the fact of creation goes, in either case the belief must be a matter of faith, not of reason. With regard to the anthropomorphism of the Hebrew story, that is shared, and must be shared, by all religions—that is, all religious which rest upon the notion of a personal God. The limitations of man's nature, the limitations of language, make anthropomorphic metaphor necessary when a man speaks of a god. Even the evolutionists cannot get rid of the necessity of faith.

—Dr. Richardson's papers published in "Nature," and designed to prove the advantage, and in fact the real necessity of experimenting on animals in order to be ready to save human life, contain many interesting facts and deserve to be widely read in view of the current discussion as to the propriety of permitting the practice of vivisection. The following case affords conclusive proof of the learned and humane physiologist's argument. He says: "Dr. Weir Mitchell of Philadelphia, in the year 1869, made the original and remarkable observation that if a part of the body of a frog be immersed in simple syrup, there soon occurs in the crystalline lens of the eyeball an opaque appearance resembling the disease called cataract. He extended his observations to the effects of grape[Pg 292] sugar, and obtained the same results. He found that he could induce the cataractic condition invariably by this experiment, or by injecting a solution of sugar with a fine needle, subcutaneously, into the dorsal sac of the frog. The discovery was one of singular importance in the history of medical science, and explained immediately a number of obscure phenomena. The co-existence of the two diseases, diabetes and cataract, in man had been observed by France, Cohen, Hasner, Mackenzie, Duncan, Von Graafe, and others, and Von Graafe had stated that after examining a large number of diabetic patients in different hospitals, he had found one-fourth affected with cataract. Before Mitchell's observation there was not a suspicion as to the reason of this connection, and a flood of light, therefore, broke on the subject the moment he proclaimed the new physiological fact. Still more, Mitchell showed that the cataract he was able to induce by experiment was curable also by experiment, a truth which will one day lead to the cure of cataract without operation. Then, but not till then, the splendid character of this original investigation, and the debt that is due to one of the most original, honest, laborious workers that ever in any age cultivated the science and art of medicine, will be duly recognized." Upon receiving intelligence of this discovery, Dr. Richardson undertook experiments to discover the cause of this dependence of cataract upon diabetes. He found that whenever the specific gravity of the blood was raised to ten degrees above the normal standard, and remained so for a short time, cataract followed. He also found that the disease so produced could be cured by removing the salts which had been introduced into the blood. This certainly points to a cure for cataract which shall be really radical, and adds another to the results which justify, even upon humanitarian grounds, physiological experiments, at the expense of the animal creation, within prescribed limits.

—Mr. Sorby has lately made some calculations of the probable size of the invisible atoms which compose material substances. Dr. Royston Pigott determined that the smallest visual angle which we can well appreciate is that covering a hole of 11.4 inches diameter at a distance of 1,100 yards. This corresponds to about six seconds of an arc. In a microscope magnifying 1,000 diameters this would make visible a particle one-three-millionth part of an inch thick. But Mr. Sorby is inclined to think that a size between 1/80,000 and 1/100,000 of an inch is about the limit of the visibility of minute objects, even with the best microscopes. Now, taking the mean of the calculations made by Stoney, Thomson, and Clerk-Maxwell, we have 21,770 as the number of atoms of any permanent gas required to cover one-thousandth of an inch, when lying end to end. By a series of calculations which produce numbers entirely beyond human conception, (10,317,000,000,000 atoms in 1/100,000,000 of a cubic inch, for instance) he reached the conclusion that there are in the length of 1/80,000 of an inch (the smallest visible object) about 2,000 molecules of water, or 520 of albumen, and therefore, in order to see the ultimate constitution of organic bodies, it would be necessary to use a magnifying power from 500 to 2,000 times greater than those we now possess. With this result settled, he was able to make one of those radical predictions which are so rarely possible to the careful scientist; namely, that the atom will never be seen by man. It is not that instruments cannot be made powerful enough (though that is no doubt true), but that the waves of light are too coarse to distinguish the limits of such an extremely small distance. To see atoms we should need light waves only one-two-thousandth of their actual length. At present we are as far from that attainment as we are from reading a newspaper, with the naked eye, at the distance of one-third of a mile.