The Project Gutenberg eBook of Chambers's Journal of Popular Literature, Science, and Art, Fifth Series, No. 24, Vol. I, June 14, 1884

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Title: Chambers's Journal of Popular Literature, Science, and Art, Fifth Series, No. 24, Vol. I, June 14, 1884

Editor: Various

Release date: July 8, 2021 [eBook #65795]

Language: English

Credits: Susan Skinner, Eric Hutton and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This file was produced from images generously made available by The Internet Archive)






No. 24.—Vol. I.


SATURDAY, JUNE 14, 1884.



A melancholy interest is lent just now to the name of St Marguerite by the fact that the last public act of the lamented Duke of Albany was to sign a petition protesting against the sale of that island. The thrilling tale of ‘the man with the iron mask,’ which used to be a favourite in school-books, has since our childish days enveloped the little island for us in a halo of mystery and awe. St Marguerite and its companion island of St Honorât lie, like twin gems of ocean, in the Golfe de Frejus, and form a romantic point in the seaward view from Cannes; and among all the excursions which can be made from that delightful centre, none is more charming than a sail to the islands. Tradition tells us that they were first colonised by a noble young knight from the land of the Gauls, who in the early ages of Christianity embraced its tenets, and with a chosen band of friends, sought a retreat from the sinful world in this distant islet. He had one sister, the fair Marguerite, who loved him as her very life, and who was so inconsolable for his loss, that she followed him to his retreat in the southern sea. As Honorât and his brother-ascetics had vowed themselves to solitude, he could not allow his sister to take up her abode with him; but in compliance with her urgent desires, found a home for her in the neighbouring island, now known by her name of Marguerite. Yet this was only granted on the condition that he should never see her but when the almond tree should blossom. The time of waiting was very dreary to the lonely Marguerite, and with sighings and tears she assailed all the saints, till the almond tree miraculously blossomed once a month, and her poor heart was made glad by the sight of her beloved brother!

A little coasting-steamer plies daily between Cannes and the islands; and passengers land at a little pier near the fortress, which is built on steep cliffs at the eastern extremity of the island. Like the old castles of Edinburgh and Stirling, it is in itself no very imposing building, and owes its strength and its romantic air solely to the rocky cliffs on which it is perched, and to the interesting associations which cluster around it.

It was a lovely day in April, like one of our most delicious midsummer days, that we went with some French friends to visit the islands. The water of the Mediterranean is so limpid that we could look down through fathoms of it to the sand and see the shells and seaweed. It is of such a true sapphire blue, that surely Tennyson must have had memories of it and not of the gray North Sea when he spoke of the

Shining, sapphire spangled marriage ring of the land.

The view of the coast, looking backwards, as the boat nears St Marguerite, is splendid: Cannes basking in the sweet sunshine, lying in a white semicircle around the bay, and climbing up the hills behind, with the gray olive groves making a silvery haze to tone down the brilliant colours. In the distance, the dazzling white peaks of the Maritime Alps form a noble background; while the picture is bounded on the west by the sierra-like range of the Esterel Hills, painted against the skyline in vivid blues and purples. Landing at the little stone pier, we went up the causewayed road to the fort, which, with its whitewashed walls and red-tiled roof, is built around a wide stone court. Here we found the guide waiting, an old cantinière, very ugly, but proportionately loud and eloquent—a very different being from the pretty vivandière of comic operas. She carried us along a narrow passage to the dungeon where the unhappy ‘Masque de fer’ spent fourteen long years of hopeless confinement. It is closed by double doors of iron; the walls are of great thickness; and four rows of grating protect the little window. From this cell the prisoner was sometimes permitted egress to walk along the narrow corridor, at the end of which is a niche in the wall, which in his time held a sacred image. The ‘Masque de fer’ was never seen{370} without his iron veil, even by the governor of the prison; it was so curiously fitted as to permit of his eating with ease. He was treated with all the deference due to a royal personage; all the dishes and appurtenances of his table were of silver; the governor waited on him personally; but one day the prisoner succeeded in eluding his vigilance so far as to write an appeal for help on a silver plate and throw it over the precipice on which this part of the fortress stands. As the well-known story tells, a fisherman found it, and brought it at once to the governor, who turned pale and trembled on reading what was scratched thereon. ‘Can you read, my friend?’ he said. ‘No,’ answered the fisherman. ‘Thank God for that, for you should have paid for your knowledge with your life!’ He dismissed him with the gift of a gold-piece, and the caution to preserve a prudent silence as to what had passed.

When the governor communicated the attempt to headquarters in Paris, orders came for the prisoner to be removed to the Bastile. After some years of close confinement, he died there, and was buried in his mask; and the governor of the Bastile, who knew the secret of his august prisoner’s name, died without divulging it. And thus ended the tale in the old school-books: ‘The identity of the “Masque de fer” must remain for ever a mystery.’ But it was no mystery to our old vivandière, or indeed to any of the French people who were listening to the story of his woes; for, in surprise at our ignorance, they all exclaimed: ‘Don’t you know that he was the frère aîné [elder brother] of Louis XIV.?’ He was considered too weak in mind to govern France, and was therefore always kept in seclusion, till an attempt which was made to bring him forward was the cause of his being condemned to the life-long prison and the iron mask.

A very queer old gilded seat like an old Roman curule chair is shown in the chapel as that used by the ‘Masque de fer.’

To this fortress, also, Marshal Bazaine was sent as a prisoner, after what the French call his ‘betrayal of Metz.’ The places where he and his family—who were permitted to follow him to the island—used to sit in the tiny chapel were pointed out to us; also the terrace-walk where he was allowed to promenade, unguarded, in the evenings; and the rock down which he escaped, by means of a rope-ladder, to the little boat which his wife had arranged to be in waiting below. Of course, it is said that Macmahon connived at his escape, not wishing his old comrade to be tried by a court-martial, which he knew would inevitably condemn him. He sent him to a sham imprisonment in this pleasant island, till the first wild wrath of the people of France against him had cooled down. A Frenchman told us that he now lives at ease in Spain, having saved his fortune from the wreck, but tout déshonoré in the eyes of France!

From St Marguerite we crossed in less than half an hour to the smaller island of St Honorât, now the property of the Cistercian order of monks. The shore is fringed with the beautiful stone-pines which are so conspicuous on the Riviera and in some parts of Italy. The first object which strikes one on landing is a large new archway, made probably as the gateway for a future avenue; behind it, at some distance, lie the church and monastery. On a promontory at the western end of the island stands an old ruined monastery of the thirteenth century. It is very like the style of architecture of some of the old castles in Scotland. There is a fine triforium in it with Gothic arches. In the refectory we saw on a raised platform at the side the arch for the lectern, from which it was the duty of a monk to read to his brethren while at their meals. The view from the tower is magnificent: the deep blue sea stretches to the southern horizon; the snowy line of the Alpes Maritimes bounds the northern; on the right, the white waves break in feathery foam on the Cap d’Antibes; while the purple Esterels, with the jagged summit of Mont Vinaigrier, lie to the left; and Cannes, with its picturesque old town on the hill of Mont Chevalier, and its modern wings spreading far and wide, fills up the middle distance. Since the young St Honorât sought a retreat here from the world in the fifth century, this island has been usually held by monks, although it was often ravaged by the Saracens. The ruins of the oldest monastery are within the present cloisters. At a little booth outside the monastic walls we found an English monk, who was deputed to sell photographs of the island and the ruins, and to make himself agreeable to the visitors. He told us that he had been in the Grande Chartreuse, near Grenoble; but as his health was not strong enough to bear the keen air on those rocky heights, he had been sent to spend the winter in this convent of the sunny south. In his youth he had been stationed in Edinburgh, and was much interested in speaking of it and hearing of the changes which had taken place there.

During the past century, St Honorât’s isle has passed through strange phases. First of all, a Parisian comédienne bought it, meaning to build a summer villa there; then tiring of it, she sold it to a Protestant clergyman. When it came again into the market, the Cistercians bought it, built the new monastery, and settled a congregation of their order in it. The Cistercian rule is not so severe as that of the Trappists, but still, they are not allowed to speak except during the hours of recreation and on Sunday. The lay brother who showed us round told us he had a dispensation to speak, as he was told off to the post of cicerone for that day. He said it was a very happy life, as tranquil and blessed as in Paradise; and truly his face beamed with heavenly light and peace. One of our company was a gentleman from Grenoble, who came in the hope of seeing a young friend who had lately joined the order. He hoped even to get some of us invited to the ‘parloir’ to speak with him. Alas! the young monk would not even see his old friend, but sent him a tender greeting, and thanks for his kindness in coming. The English ‘father’ said he did this of his own accord, fearing to be{371} disturbed by old associations from his hardly won tranquillity. However that might be, we had to bid adieu to St Honorât without seeing the young recluse.



Madge in her own room; but it was evening and almost quite dark, so that it was not at all like the pretty chamber which it appeared to be in the bright sunshine of an autumn morning. Can there be any sympathy between the atmosphere and our feelings? There must be. A bright day helps us to meet sorrow bravely; a dull, dark day makes sorrow our master: we bow our heads and groan because nature seems to have entered into a conspiracy against us. The strong will may fling aside this atmospherical depression, but the effort is needed: whereas when the sun shines, even the weak can lift their heads and say without faltering: ‘Let me know the worst.’

Madge held in her hand a letter—the same which Wrentham had seen on Beecham’s desk, and of which he made due report to Mr Hadleigh. She knew well where to find the matches and candle, and yet she stood in that deep gloom looking at the window, as if she were interested in the invisible prospect on which it opened.

It is not instinct, but a telegraphic association of ideas which makes us hesitate to open particular letters. That was her case. And yet, if her face could have been seen in that gloom, no sign of fear would have been found upon it; only a wistful sadness—the expression of one who feels that some revelation of the inevitable is near.

After the pause, she quietly lit the candle, and, without drawing down the blind, seated herself by the window. Then, as methodically as if it had been only one of Uncle Dick’s business letters, she cut the envelope and spread the paper on her lap. She was very pale just then, for there was no message from Beecham; only this inclosure of an old letter, which seemed to have been much handled, and of which the writing had become indistinct.

There were only a few lines on the paper. She looked at the name at the foot of them, and raised it to her lips, reverently.

‘Poor mother!’ was her sigh, and she laid the letter gently on her lap again, whilst she looked dreamily into the gloom outside.

Should she read it? He had left her to answer that question for herself. Yes; she would read, for there were so few words, that there could be no breach of faith in scanning them. Moreover, the letter had been sent to her for that purpose by the man who had received it, and who, therefore, had the right to submit it to her.

There was no need to raise any great question of conscience in the matter; the words were so simple that they might have been written by a mother to a child. No passion, no forced sentiment, no ‘make-believe’ of any kind. Only this pathetic cry:

‘Dear Austin, do not go away. I am filled with fear by what thou hast said to me about the vessel. I know it is wrong, since God is with us everywhere, and I am ashamed of this weakness. But thou art so dear, and—— I pray thee, Austin, do not go away.’

Then followed in the middle of the page the simple name:


This was what she might have written to Philip, and had not. It was all so simple and so like her own experience, with the difference that the lover had not gone away. Few daughters are allowed to know the history of their mothers’ love affairs, and there are fewer still who, when they hear them, can regard them as anything more than commonplace sketches of life, which they pass aside as they turn over the leaves of a portfolio.

But to Madge!——

What did all this mean? That, with the best intentions, she was entering into a conspiracy against the man she loved, and her mother was invoked as the inspiration of the conspiracy!

Sitting there, the candle flickering in the strange draughts which came from nowhere, the gloom outside growing quite black, and the shadows in the little room growing huge and threatening, Madge was trying to read the riddle of her very awkward position.

A sharp knock at the door, one of those knocks which impudent and inconsiderate females give when they have no particular message to convey, and resent the necessity of carrying it.

‘A man in the oak parlour wants to see you, if you ben’t too busy.’

Madge passed her fingers over the aching head. She could not guess who the man might be, but presumed that he was one of Uncle Dick’s customers.

She found Mr Beecham in the oak parlour. This was the first time he had been under the roof of Willowmere. He and Madge were conscious of the singularity of the meeting-place.

‘I trust, Miss Heathcote, you are not annoyed with me for coming here,’ he said softly. ‘I did not mean to do so; but it occurred to me, after despatching that letter, you might require a few words of explanation. At first, my intention was to say nothing; but on consideration, it seemed to me unfair to leave you without help in answering the disagreeable questions which the situation suggests.’

Madge still had the letter in her hand; the tears were still in her eyes. She tried to wipe them away, but still they would force their presence on the lids. That was the real Madge—tender, considerate to others beyond measure.

‘Oh, if’——

Here the superficial Madge claimed supremacy, and took the management of the whole interview in hand. Calm almost to coldness, clear in speech and vision almost to the degree of severity, she spoke:

‘I have considered all that you have said to me, and I do not like the position in which you have placed me. I gave you my word that I should be silent, believing that no harm could follow, and believing that my mother would have wished me to obey you. You have satisfied me by this letter that I have not done wrong so far. Take it back.’


She folded the letter, carefully replaced it in the envelope, and gave it to him.

‘Thank you,’ he said, with the shadow of that sad smile which had so often crossed his face.

‘You cannot tell how much that letter has affected me. You cannot know what thoughts and impulses it has aroused. But you can believe that in my mother’s blunder I read my own fate.... I know you are my friend: be the friend of those I love. Help him, for he needs help very much.’

Mr Beecham had quietly taken the letter and placed it in a small pocket-case, to which it seemed to belong.

‘I feared you would not understand me, and the desire to save you from uneasiness has brought me here. You have promised to be silent: I again beg you to keep that promise for a little while.’

She bowed her head, but did not speak.

‘In doing so,’ he added, anxious to reassure her, ‘you have my pledge that no harm will come to any one who does not seek it.’

‘You cannot think,’ she said coldly, and yet with a touch of bitterness that she seemed unable to repress—‘you cannot think any one purposely seeks harm! It came to you and to my mother.’

For an instant he was silent. He was thinking that no harm would have come to them if both had been faithful.

‘That is a hard hit, and not easily answered,’ he said quietly. ‘Let me say, then, that even if there had been no other motive to influence me, I should be his friend on your account. But I am your friend above and before all. For your sake alone I came back to England. For your sake I am acting as I am doing, strange as it may seem. If he is honest and faithful to you’——

‘There is no doubt of that,’ she interrupted, her face brightening with confidence.

Beecham inclined his head, as if in worship. He smiled at her unhesitating assertion of faith, but the smile was one of respect and admiration touched with a shade of regret. What might his life have been if he had found a mate like her! The man she loved might prove false, and all the world might call him false: she would still believe him to be true.

‘A man finds such faith rarely,’ he said in his gentlest tone; ‘I hope he will prove worthy of it. But let him take his own way for the present; and should trouble come to him, I shall do my best to help him out of it.’

She made a quick movement, as if she would have clasped his hands in thankfulness, but checked herself.

‘Then I am content.’

‘I am glad you can say so, for it shows you have some confidence in me, and every proof of kindly thought towards me helps me.’

He stopped, and seemed to be smiling at the weakness which had made his voice a little husky. Looking back, and realising in this girl an old dream, she had grown so dear to him, that he knew if she had persisted, his wisest judgment would have yielded to her wish.

She wondered: why was this man so gentle and yet so cruel, as it seemed, in his doubts of Philip?

‘Let me take your hand,’ he resumed. ‘Thanks. Have you any notion how much it cost me to allow this piece of paper’ (he touched the pocket in which her mother’s letter lay) ‘to be out of my possession even for a few hours? Only you could have won that from me. It was the last token of ... well, we shall say, of her caring about me that came direct from her own hand. She was deceived. We cannot help that, you know—accidents will happen, and so on’ (like a brave man, he was smiling at his own pain). ‘The message came to me too late. I think—no, I am sure, that if she had said this to me with her own lips, there would have been no parting ... and everything would have been so different to us!’

Madge withdrew one hand from his and timidly placed it on his shoulder.

‘I am sorry for your past, and should be glad if it were in my power to help you to a happy future.’

His disengaged hand was placed upon her head lightly, as if he were giving her a paternal blessing.

‘The only way in which you can help me, my child, is by finding a happy future for yourself. I am anxious about that—selfishly anxious, for it seems that my life can gain its real goal only by making you happy, since I missed the chance of making your mother so. I know that she was not happy; and my career, which has been one of strange good fortune, as men reckon fortune by the money you make, has been one of misery. Do you not think that droll?’

‘You are not like other men, I think; others would have forgotten the past, and forgiven.’

She was thinking of Philip’s wish that his father should be reconciled to Austin Shield.

‘I can forgive,’ he said softly; ‘I cannot forget.—Now, let us look at the position quietly as it is. The only thing which has given me an interest in life is the hope that I may be useful to you. When my sorrow came upon me, it seemed as if the whole world had gone wrong.’ (That was spoken with a kind of bitter sense of the humorous side of his sorrow.) ‘Doctors would have called it indigestion. You see, however, it does not matter much to the patient whether it is merely indigestion or organic disease, so long as he suffers from the pangs of whatever it may be. Well, I did not die, and the doctor is entitled to his credit. I live, eat my dinner, and am in fair health. But there is a difference: life lost its flavour when the blunder was made. When your mother believed the false report which reached her, the man who loved her was murdered.’

‘She could not act otherwise than she did,’ said Madge bravely in defence.

‘She should have trusted to me,’ he retorted, shaking his head sadly. ‘But that is unkind, and I do not mean to say one word of her that could be called unkind. She would forgive it.’

‘How she must have suffered!’ murmured Madge, her hand passing absently over the aching brow.

‘Ay, she must have suffered as I did—poor lass, poor lass!’

He turned abruptly to the hearth, as if he had become suddenly conscious of the ordinary duties of life, and aware that the fire required attention.

‘I want you to try to understand me,’ he said{373} as he stirred the embers, and the oak-log on the top of the coal started a bright flame.

‘I wish to understand you—but that is not easy,’ she replied.

He did not look round; he answered as if the subject were one of the most commonplace kind; but there was a certain emphasis in his tone as he seemed to take up her sentence and continue it.

‘Because you stand on the sunny side of life, and know nothing of its shadows. Pity that they will force themselves upon you soon enough.’

‘If you see them coming, why not give me warning?’

He turned round suddenly, his hands clasped behind him so tightly that he seemed to be striving to subdue the outcry of some physical pain.

‘It is not warning that I wish to give you, but protection,’ he said, and there was a harshness in his voice quite unusual to him.

The change of tone was so remarkable, that she drew back. There were in it bitterness, hatred, and almost something that was like malignity.

‘You must know it all—then judge for yourself,’ he said at length.


It would be interesting to learn all the particulars relating to the birth of some great invention; to know the inventor’s frame of mind at the time the pregnant idea occurred to him, and the influences under which he lived and laboured. This is usually an unwritten chapter of biography; but sometimes we can learn a little about these things. It is not always necessity, or the need of help, that is the mother of invention. In the case of the microphone, it was the need of occupation. Professor Hughes was confined to his chamber by an attack of cold, and to beguile the tedium of the time, he began to experiment with the telephone. This was in the early winter of 1877; and at that time the transmitting and receiving parts of the Bell telephone system were identical. The result was that the received speech was very feeble; and Professor Hughes began to try whether he could not dispense with the transmitting telephone, and make the wire of the circuit speak of itself. Some experiments of Sir William Thomson had shown that the electric resistance of a wire varied when the wire was strained; and Professor Hughes thought that if he could get the vibrations of the voice to strain a wire, so as to vary its resistance in proportion to the vibrations, he might be able to make the wire itself act as a transmitter. He therefore connected a battery and telephone together by means of a fine wire, and pulled on a part of the wire in order to strain it, at the same time listening in the telephone. But he heard no sound at all until he strained the wire so much that it gave way. At the instant of rupture he heard a peculiar grating sound in the telephone; and on placing the broken ends of the wire in delicate contact, he found that the slightest agitation of the ends in contact produced a distinct noise in the instrument.

This experiment, then, was the germ of the microphone. For the metal ends of the wire in contact, he substituted carbon points, and obtained a much more sensitive arrangement. When one of the carbon pencils was lightly pressed against the other in a stable position, he found that the joint was sensitive to the slightest jar, and could transmit the voice when spoken to direct. Pursuing his researches further, he found that a loose and somewhat crazy metal structure, such as a pile of gold-chain or a framework of French nails, acted in a similar way, though not so powerfully as carbon. This material was found so sensitive, that a fly walking on the board supporting the microphone could be distinctly heard in the telephone, and each tap of its trunk upon the wood was said by one observer to resemble the ‘tramp of an elephant.’

The marvels of the microphone were published to the world in the early summer of the next year; and many useful applications followed. The most obvious was its use as a telephone transmitter; and as Professor Hughes had made a public gift of his invention, a great many telephone transmitters were based upon it. Edison, who had invented a carbon transmitter which bore some resemblance to the microphone, laid claim to having anticipated the invention; but the merit of the discovery remains with Professor Hughes.

It is through the help of the microphone that telephony has become so practical and so extensively adopted. The Blake transmitter, the Ader, and many others by which music and speech are now conveyed so many miles, are all varieties of the carbon microphone. In some churches, microphone transmitters are now applied to the pulpit, so that the sermon can be transmitted by telephone to invalid members who cannot leave home. At the Electrical Exhibitions of Paris, Vienna, and the Crystal Palace, the music of an entire opera was transmitted from the stage by wire to other buildings where great numbers of persons sat and listened to it. The transport of music and other sounds in no way directly connected with the wire, is frequently effected by what is termed induction or leading-in. Over and over again, persons listening into telephones for the purpose of hearing what a friend is saying, have heard the strains of this music—aside, communicated by induction from some neighbouring line to theirs. Not long ago, a telegraph clerk in Chicago was listening in a telephone early one morning, and to his surprise heard the croaking of frogs and the whistling of birds. The explanation of the phenomenon is, that a loose joint in the telephone wire where it passed through a wood, acted as a microphone, and transmitted the woodland chorus to his ears. Messages in process of transmission are sometimes drowned by the rumbling noise of street-traffic induced by the wire.

The microphone is not only useful as a transmitter of sounds, but also as a relay of sounds received on a telephone. Professors Houston and Thomson of America were perhaps the first to construct a telephonic relay. They mounted a carbon microphone on the vibrating plate of a telephone in such a way that the vibrations of the plate due to the received speech would react on the microphone, and be transmitted in this way over another line to another receiving telephone at a distance. Thus the speech would be{374} relayed, just as a telegraph message is relayed, when it is weak, and sent further on its way. Curiously enough, the microphone acts as a relay to itself, if placed on the same table with the telephone with which it is in circuit. The jar of placing the microphone on the table causes the telephone to emit a sound; this sound in turn is transmitted by the microphone to the telephone, which again repeats it. The microphone re-transmits it as before, the telephone utters it, and so the process of repetition goes on ad infinitum.

Since the microphone can, as it were, magnify small sounds, and in this respect has some resemblance to the microscope, which magnifies minute objects, it might be thought that it would prove useful for deaf persons. But though the microphone enables a person with good ears to hear mechanical vibrations which otherwise would be inaudible, the sounds that are heard are not in themselves very loud, and hence a dull aural nerve might fail to appreciate them. M. Bert, the well-known French physicist, constructed a microphone for deaf persons; but its success was doubtful. Professor Hughes, however, has succeeded in making deaf persons hear the ticking of a watch by means of the microphone. In this case the telephone was placed against the bones in the head, and the vibrations communicated in this way to the aural nerve. The ‘audiphone,’ a curved plate held between the teeth, and vibrated by the sound-waves, also acts in this way; and it is probable that we hear ourselves speak not through our ears, but through the bones of the head as set in vibration by the voice.

Its power of interpreting small sounds has caused the microphone to be applied to many other purposes. Professor Rossi, for example, uses it to detect the earth-tremors preceding earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. It has been employed in Austria to detect the trickling of underground water; and its use has also been suggested for hearing the signal-taps of entombed miners and the noise of approaching torpedo boats. It is not, however, quite possible to realise all that has been claimed for it. Thus the Danbury News jestingly remarks that ‘with a microphone a farmer can hear a potato-bug coming down the road a quarter of a mile away, and can go out with an axe and head it off.’

In 1876, a year before the microphone was invented, a writer named Antoinette Brown Blackwell foretold the use of such an apparatus. ‘It remains,’ she said, ‘to invent some instrument which can so retard the too rapid vibrations of molecules as to bring them within the time adapted to human ears; then we might comfortably hear plant movements carrying on the many processes of growth, and possibly we might catch the crystal music of atoms vibrating in unison with the sunbeam.’ Without calling in question the writer’s theory, which does not apply to the microphone, we may mention that Professor Chandler Roberts attached a microphone to a thin porous septum, and on allowing hydrogen gas to diffuse through the latter, he heard a rushing sound, as of a wind, which became silent when the rapid diffusion ceased. The jar of the atoms on the pores of the septum was probably the source of this molecular sound. Again, Professor Graham Bell has found a metal microphone joint sensitive to the impact of a beam of intermittent light; and it is highly probable that a microphone with selenium contacts would be still more sensitive to the sound of light falling upon it.

In medicine, the microphone has been usefully applied to enable a physician to read the pulse better and auscultate the heart.

Numerous experiments have been made recently with the microphone by Messrs Stroh, Bidwell, and others. Not long after the original invention of the apparatus, Professor Blyth found that the microphone would act as a receiver as well as a transmitter of sounds in an electric circuit. Thus, with two boxes of coke cinders (hard carbon) connected together through a wire and battery, Professor Blyth found that if words were spoken into one of the boxes, he could faintly hear them by listening in the other. Mr Bidwell has constructed a receiving microphone, composed of a pile of carbon cylinders resting on a mica diaphragm, and this gives out distinct effects when a strong battery is employed. On speaking to the transmitting microphone in circuit, the words can be distinctly heard in the receiving one.

By the use of the microscope, Mr Stroh has observed that the carbon points of the microphone which were supposed to be in contact, are not really so during the action of the instrument, but are separated by a minute distance. It would appear, then, that there is a repulsion between the points, and this repulsion accounts for the action of the microphone as a receiver. Metal microphones are also reversible in their action, and give out feeble sounds when used as receivers. The probability is that the contacts vibrate rapidly on each other, either in direct or very close contact, against a certain repulsive action of the current, which operates like a cushion or re-acting spring.

Metal microphones are in some respects more interesting theoretically than those of carbon. For example, one has been constructed of two different metals, zinc and iron, which when heated by the flame of a spirit-lamp generates its own current by thermo-electric action. Iron is one of the most useful metals for forming microphones; and one of iron-wire gauze has been found to act with singular clearness when inclosed in a high vacuum, such as that given by an incandescent electric lamp.




That day in the city seemed to Walter as if it would never end. This mystery about Silas Monk was now a matter to him of real interest. Hitherto, the eccentricities of the old man had given him little or no concern; for it had been so long the custom among the clerks to crack their jokes about ‘Silas,’ that nothing which he might do, however queer, could appear otherwise than perfectly consistent with his character. For so many years had Silas Monk been a clerk in the House, that his columns of pounds, shillings, and pence could be traced in the oldest ledgers,{375} it was said, even when books more than a hundred years old were examined. There was no record extant which satisfactorily settled the date of his engagement as a clerk by Armytage and Company. The oldest partners and the oldest clerks, with this one exception of Silas, were dead and buried many years ago.

It was a very old-looking place, this ancient counting-house; it seemed older even than the firm of Armytage, which had seen two centuries. There were railings in front, broken in places, but still presenting some iron spikes among them, standing up with an air of protection before the windows, like sentinels on guard. The stone steps leading up to the entrance were worn by the tread of busy men who had in their time hurried in and out in their race for wealth, and who were now doubtless lying in some old city churchyard hard by.

Walter Tiltcroft having at last finished his ‘rounds,’ as he called his various errands, came back to the old counting-house. The clerks’ office was on the ground-floor. It was a dark and dusty room, with men of various ages seated at long desks, all deeply engaged, with pens in hand and heads bent low, over the business of the firm. No one looked up when Walter entered; every one went on working, as though each individual clerk was a wheel in the great machine which had been going for nearly two hundred years.

Within an inner room, smaller, darker, and more dusty, was seated alone at his desk Silas Monk. The old clerk had several large ledgers before him; he was turning over the leaves with energy, and making entries in these books with a rapidity which seemed surprising in one who had an appearance of such great age. With his white hair falling on his shoulders, his long lean trembling fingers playing among the fluttering pages, and his keen eyes darting among the columns of pounds, shillings, and pence, he seemed, even by daylight, like an embodied spirit appointed by the dead partners and clerks of Armytage and Company to audit the accounts of that old mercantile House in Crutched Friars. So at least thought Walter Tiltcroft as he sat at his own desk watching Silas Monk, and revolving in his mind how he could best solve the mystery which surrounded Rachel’s grandfather.

It was growing dusk when the old city clocks in the church towers began to strike six, and the clerks in the office of Armytage and Company began to show signs of dispersing. Silas Monk alone remained at his post. Wishing to say a few words to the old man before taking his leave, Walter Tiltcroft lingered behind; and when the last clerk had gone, he went to the door of the ‘strong-room,’ as Silas Monk’s office was called, and said in his usual cheerful tone: ‘Good-night, Mr Monk. You’ll see, I suppose, that everything is safe and sound, as usual? Won’t you?’

‘Ay, ay! safe and sound, Walter.—Good-night.’

But the young man lingered with his eyes curiously fixed on Silas. ‘The evenings are getting short,’ continued he. ‘Can you see to work by this light?’

‘Why, no—not well,’ Silas owned, with his eyes raised towards the window; ‘and what makes it still more difficult is that scaffolding the workmen have put up outside—that’s what makes it so dark. Ay, ay!’ he added, ‘they’re repairing the old walls. Dear me, dear me!’

The old walls outside, which surrounded a courtyard, were black with dust and age, and they had also in many parts a tumble-down aspect, which appeared to plainly indicate that repairs were needed badly. Upon the scaffolding, some half-dozen labourers were gathering together their tools and preparing to go home, as the clerks had done already. Silas was lighting an oil-lamp. ‘Give me a hand, Walter,’ said he, ‘to close these shutters and put up the iron bar.’

‘All right, Mr Monk,’ said the young man, unfolding the old-fashioned shutters in the walls and clasping the iron bar across them with a loud clink. ‘All right and tight!—Shall you remain long at the office?’ he added, moving towards the door.

‘Not long; half an hour, perhaps—not more.’

Still the young man lingered. ‘Mr Monk,’ said he, walking a step back into the strong-room, ‘I saw your grand-daughter Miss Rachel this morning.’

Silas, who had reseated himself at his desk before the large ledgers, looked round keenly at Walter, with the light from the shaded lamp thrown upon his wrinkled face. ‘You see my grand-daughter Rachel pretty often; don’t you, Walter?’

‘Pretty often, Mr Monk, I confess.’

Silas shook his long thin forefinger at the young man. ‘Walter,’ cried he, ‘that’s not business!’

‘No; that’s true. But you see, Mr Monk, it’s not much out of my way. And,’ he added, ‘besides, I thought you would like to know that she’s well. You’re so busy here, that perhaps you don’t see so much of her as you would like, and so I thought that news of her at any time would be welcome.’

‘So it is, Walter!’ said the old man, his voice trembling slightly as he spoke—‘so it is. She’s a good girl, and I love her dearly. But you don’t pass that way, Walter, simply to bring me a word about my grand-daughter. You’re not going to try and make me believe that, surely?’

‘Not entirely, Mr Monk,’ said the young man, smiling. ‘I won’t deny that it’s a very great pleasure to me to see Rachel at any time; indeed, no one could admire her more than I do.’

The old man held out his hand. ‘Come, come! That’s more candid, my boy,’ said he, as Walter took the hand in his and pressed it affectionately. ‘So you admire Rachel, do you?’

‘Mr Monk,’ said the young clerk, ‘I more than admire her—I love her!’

The deep lines in Silas Monk’s face grew deeper at these words. ‘Well, well,’ said the old man presently, with a heavy sigh; ‘it was to be. Better now, perhaps, than later—better now. But you won’t take her from me yet, Walter—not yet?’

‘Why, no, Mr Monk; I’d no thought of taking her away from you.’

‘That’s right!’ cried Silas—‘that’s right! You’re a good lad. Take care of her, Walter; take care of her when I am dead.’ As Silas pronounced the last word, the sound of footsteps, which seemed strangely near, changed the expression on his face. ‘What’s that?’ asked he in a tone of alarm.


Walter listened. ‘Some one on the scaffolding above your window.’

‘If it’s a workman,’ said the old man, ‘he’s rather late. Will you see that every one has left the premises; and then shut the front-door as you go out?’

‘I’ll not forget.—Good-night!’

It was just sufficiently light in the passage for Walter to find his way about the old house. Having promised Silas Monk to make sure that every one had left the premises, he ran up the dark oaken staircase to ascertain whether the partners, who occupied the floor above the office, had gone. He found the doors to their rooms locked. The young man threw a glance around him, and then descended the way he had come, walking out into the court, behind the clerks’ offices, where the scaffolding was erected. It was not a large court, and on every side were high brick walls. The scaffolding reached from the ground almost to the eaves.

‘Any one there?’ Walter shouted.

Not a sound came back except a muttering echo of his own voice.

Walter Tiltcroft then turned to leave the house. But at this moment his conversation with Rachel occurred to him, and he thought that he might do something to clear up the mystery of her grandfather’s frequent absence from home at all hours of the night. ‘Why not,’ thought Walter, ‘watch the old man’s movements? Some clue might be found to the strange affair.’ He formed his plan of action without further delay. No moment could have been more opportune. He closed the front-door with a slam which shook the old house; then he crept back along the passage softly, and, seating himself in a dark corner on the staircase, watched for the figure of Silas Monk.

The first thing he heard, very shortly after he had taken up his position, was a step in the passage leading from the courtyard. He sprang up with a quick beating heart, and reached the foot of the stairs just in time to confront a tall, powerful man dressed like a mason, and carrying in his hand a large basket of tools.

‘Why, Joe Grimrood,’ said Walter, ‘is that you?’

The man, who had a hangdog, defiant air, answered gruffly, as he scratched a mangy-looking skin-cap, pulled down to his eyebrows: ‘That’s me, sir; asking your pardon.’

‘Are you the last, Joe?’

‘There ain’t no more men on the scaffold, if that’s what you mean.’

Walter nodded. ‘Didn’t you hear me call?’ he asked.

‘Not me. When?’

‘Not five minutes ago.’

‘How could I? I was among the chimneys.’

‘Repairing the roof, Joe?’

‘Fixing the tiles,’ was the reply.

Having thus accounted for his tardiness, Joe Grimrood again scratched his cap, in his manner of saluting, and moved along the hall, in the semi-darkness, towards the front-door. ‘I wish you a very good-night,’ said the man, as Walter accompanied him to the entrance—‘a very good-night, sir; asking your pardon.’

Walter Tiltcroft closed the door, when the workman had gone out, with as little noise as possible; for he feared that if any sound reached Silas Monk in the strong-room, his suspicions might be aroused, and the chance of solving this mystery might be lost.

Again retiring to his retreat upon the staircase, Walter waited and watched; but nothing happened. The twilight faded; the night became so dark that the lad could not see his hand before him. The hours appeared long; at endless intervals he heard the city clocks striking in the dead silence. He filled up the time with thoughts containing a hundred conjectures. What could Silas Monk be doing all this while? A dozen times Walter descended to the door of the office to listen; but never a sound! A dozen times his fingers touched the handle to turn it; yet each time he drew back, fearing to destroy the object he had seriously in view—the solution of this strange affair.

Ten o’clock had struck, and the young clerk was growing weary of waiting for the clocks to strike eleven. He began to imagine that something must have happened to Silas Monk. Had he fallen asleep? Was he dead, or—what?

Presently, the notion entered his brain that perhaps a grain of reassurance might be had by regarding the window of the strong-room from the courtyard. Possibly, thought he, a ray of light might find its way there through the shutters. He stepped out silently, but with eagerness. When he reached the yard, there, sure enough, was a streak of light piercing through a small aperture. Walter was drawn towards it irresistibly. He mounted the scaffolding by the ladder at his feet, and crept along the boarding on his hands; for the darkness, except within the limits of this ray of light, was intense. He reached at length the spot immediately above the window. The ray of light fell below the scaffold, slanting to the ground. Grasping the board, upon which he lay full length, he bent his head until his eye was almost on a level with the hole in the shutter. To his surprise, the interior of the strong-room was distinctly revealed. But what he saw surprised him still more. Silas Monk was seated there at his desk, under the shaded lamp. But he was no longer examining the ledgers; these books were thrown aside; and, in their place, before his greedy eyes, was to be seen a heap of bright sovereigns.

The change which had taken place in the face of Silas Monk since the young man had left him, was startling; and the manner in which he appeared to be feasting his eyes upon the coins was repulsive. He handled the sovereigns with his lean fingers caressingly; he counted them over and over again; then he arranged them in piles on one side, and began to empty other bags in their place. His look suggested a ravenous madman; his attitude resembled that of a beast of prey.

Walter was so fascinated by this unexpected scene in the strong-room, that he found it impossible, for some minutes, to remove his gaze. The mystery about Silas Monk had been solved. Rachel’s grandfather was a wretched miser!

Walter descended from the scaffolding, and went out quietly into Crutched Friars. His lodgings were in the Minories, hard by. But he could not have slept had he gone home{377} without passing under Rachel’s window. He hurried along through the dark and silent streets. What he had witnessed, haunted him; he could not banish the scene of the old man and his bright sovereigns. When he entered the street, and was approaching Silas Monk’s house, he was astonished, though not displeased, to see Rachel standing on the door-step.

‘Why, Walter,’ cried she, ‘is that you? I thought it was grandfather.’

‘I wish, Rachel, for your sake that it was. But I’m afraid, late as it is, that he won’t be back quite yet.’

The girl placed her hand quickly on Walter’s hand and looked up appealingly. ‘Has anything happened? You have a troubled face. Don’t hide it from me, if anything has happened to grandfather.’

The young man hastened to reassure her. ‘Nothing has happened. Silas Monk is at the office still. I have just come away, Rachel. I left him there deeply occupied.’

The girl threw a quick glance into Walter’s face. ‘Then grandfather does work for Armytage and Company after six o’clock?’

‘I doubt that, Rachel, very much.’

‘Then why does he stay so late at Crutched Friars?’

‘To dabble in a little business of his own.’

‘What business is that, Walter?’

‘Well, something in the bullion line of business, to judge from appearances.’

‘Explain yourself, Walter! I am puzzled.’

‘I’m afraid I can’t; I’m puzzled too,’ said the young man. ‘This bullion business,’ he added thoughtfully, ‘is a strange affair.’

Rachel clasped her hands with an impatient gesture. ‘Walter, tell me what you have seen!’

‘I’ve seen,’ said the young man reluctantly—‘I’ve seen, through a hole in the shutter, an old man at a desk, under the light of a shaded lamp, seated over handfuls of gold. The desk was Silas Monk’s, in the counting-house of Armytage and Company. But the face of the man was not the face of your grandfather; or if it was his, it was greatly changed.’

‘In what way changed, Walter?’

‘It was a face expressing dreadful greed. It was the face of a miser, Rachel—nothing less!’

The girl, standing under the dim street-lamp above the doorway, looked with wondering eyes into Walter’s face. ‘Does not all the money at the counting-house belong to the firm?’

‘So I have always thought, Rachel.’

‘Then grandfather was balancing the cash?’

‘Not the hard cash of Armytage and Company. That is taken every day, before the closing hour, to the bank.’

Looking still into the young man’s face, the girl said: ‘Then the money must be his own.’

‘He certainly seemed to eye it, Rachel, as if every sovereign belonged to him.’

The girl became pensive. ‘He must be rich,’ said she.

‘Very rich, if all those sovereigns are his.’

‘And he loves gold more than he loves his grand-daughter!’ Rachel complained, in a tone of deep disappointment, while tears started into her eyes.

Not being able to deny that there appeared some truth in the girl’s words, Walter could answer nothing. He remained silent and thoughtful. Suddenly the clocks of the old city began striking midnight.

‘Your grandfather will soon be coming now, Rachel,’ said the young man, ‘so I had better be off. It would never do to let him find me here at this late hour.’ Taking leave of the girl tenderly, he quickly disappeared into the darkness.

Rachel re-entered the house, and threw herself into the old armchair, stricken with surprise and grief at what she had learned. Since she was a child, she had been taught to believe that she was struggling, beside her grandfather, against poverty. She had been happy in the thought that, although they were needy, nothing divided their affections. She believed that her grandfather was slaving day and night for their sake—slaving to keep the old house over their heads. But what was he slaving for, after all? For gold, it was true; but for gold which he hoarded up in secret places, hiding all from her, as though it were, like a crime, something of a nature to be shunned.

Meanwhile the clocks are striking the small-hours. But Silas Monk does not come home. The candle on the table beside Rachel burns low. The girl grows alarmed, and listens for the footsteps of her old grandfather. She goes out and looks about into the dark night. No one is to be seen, no one is to be heard. Four o’clock—five. Still no footsteps—not even a shadow of the man.

The dawn begins to break in a clear gray light above the sombre houses; the roar of traffic in the streets hard by falls upon the girl’s ear. Another busy day has commenced in the old city. ‘Is it possible,’ thinks Rachel, ‘that her grandfather can still be at his desk, counting and recounting his gold?’




Children may be divided into two classes—legitimate and illegitimate; and the liability of a father in respect of his children is widely different in the case of the latter class from the ordinary duty and responsibility of a parent. In order to clear the ground, we will first dispose of the illegitimate class; and throughout this paper it must be understood that the words parent and child, when used without any qualifying terms, refer to those between whom that mutual relationship lawfully subsists.

An illegitimate child, or bastard, is one who is born without its parents having been lawfully married; and in England, a bastard born is illegitimate to the end of his or her life; but in Scotland, such child may be rendered legitimate by the subsequent marriage of its parents, provided that at the date of its birth and of their marriage they were both free to marry. The father of an illegitimate child has no right to its custody; but he may be compelled to contribute to its support by means of an affiliation order. A bastard cannot inherit either real or personal estate from either of its parents, nor from any other person; neither can any person inherit from{378} a bachelor or spinster who is illegitimate. If, however, such a person marries, the husband or wife and children have the same legal rights as if the stain of illegitimacy had not existed.

A legitimate child—with the exception noted above—is the offspring of parents who were lawfully married before the time of its birth. A posthumous child, if born in due time after the husband’s death, is legitimate.

The father has primâ facie a right to the custody of his children while under the age of sixteen years; after that age, if they are able to maintain themselves, they may be emancipated from his control. But a mother can apply to the court for an order that she may have the exclusive care of her children while they are respectively under seven years of age; and after that age, for leave of access to them at reasonable times, in cases where husband and wife do not live together. In case of the divorce of the parents, the court will give directions as to the custody of the children of the marriage, taking into consideration the offence against morality of the guilty parent, but also what is best for the children’s education and upbringing and prospects in life.

A parent is bound to maintain and educate his children according to his station; and if the father should neglect his duty in this respect, the mother—if living with her husband—may, as his agent, order what is necessary, and he would be responsible for the expense thus incurred, which must be strictly limited to what is reasonably necessary. If a child should become chargeable upon the poor-rates, both father and grandfather are responsible for repayment of the cost incurred; the former primarily, and the latter secondarily, in case of the absence or inability of the father. In like manner, a child may be compelled to repay to the poor-rates authorities the cost of maintenance of his parents, if he have the means of doing so.

A child while under the age of twenty-one years cannot enter into a binding contract, even with the consent and concurrence of its parent, except for special purposes. One of these purposes is the acquisition of knowledge which will enable the child to earn its livelihood when it arrives at maturity. Thus apprentices and articled clerks may be bound in such a manner as to render it compulsory for them to serve until they respectively attain the age of twenty-one years; but the binding cannot be extended beyond that age. As soon as an apprentice attains his majority, he may elect to vacate his indenture, and be free from any further compulsory service. This is founded upon the well-known principle, that a minor can only be compelled to perform contracts entered into on his behalf during his minority; and that when he attains the age of twenty-one years, he is free to enter into contracts on his own behalf, which stand upon an entirely different footing, and are entirely inconsistent with the former contract. It may also be mentioned here that a minor, when he becomes of age, is free to elect whether he will perform any other contracts which he may have entered into during his minority. If any such contract be beneficial, he may allow it to stand; and if it be otherwise, he may cancel it; but the other party, if of full age, will be bound by his contract.

In this connection we may notice the Infants Relief Act, 1874. Although primarily aimed at the protection of ‘infants’ from the consequences of their own imprudence, this statute, the operation of which extends to the whole of the United Kingdom, has been found very useful in relieving children against a cruel but not uncommon kind of pressure by impecunious parents, who in many cases induced their children to encumber their expectant property in order to assist them (the parents) when in difficulties. The manner was this: The son would while under age sign a promise to execute a valid charge, which would accordingly be executed the day after he attained his majority; and though the first promise was worthless, the deed was binding. But it was enacted that all contracts entered into by ‘infants’ for the repayment of money lent or to be lent, and all accounts stated with ‘infants,’ should be not merely voidable, but absolutely void; and further, the ratification when of full age of any such promise should be void also, and the ratified promise should be incapable of being enforced.

A parent may lawfully maintain an action on behalf of his child, whether such child be an infant or of full age, without being liable to be prosecuted for the offence of maintenance or champerty. In like manner, a child if of full age may maintain an action on behalf of his parent, even though he may have no personal interest in the subject-matter of the action.

A parent may also protect his child, or a child protect his parent, from violence or assault, in such circumstances as would expose a stranger to the charge of officiously intermeddling with strife which did not concern him.

The power of an Englishman to dispose of his property by will being absolute, the consideration of a parent’s will as affecting his children need not detain us long. The principal peculiarity is this: In case of the death of a child or grandchild of a testator in the lifetime of the latter, leaving lawful issue, any devise or bequest in the will in favour of the deceased child or grandchild will take effect in favour of his issue in the same manner as if he had survived the testator and died immediately afterwards. In similar circumstances, a gift in favour of any other person who died in the testator’s lifetime would lapse, that is to say, it would altogether fail to take effect.

But in Scotland, the power of a father to dispose of his property by will is much more restricted, being confined to what is called the ‘dead man’s’ part—namely, so much as remains after setting aside one-third of the personal property or movable goods for the widow; and one-third for the children of the testator. Or if there be no widow, then the share of the children is one-half, which is divisible among them equally. The rights of either widow or child may be renounced by an antenuptial marriage contract, or for some equivalent provision given in such a contract, or by will; and a child of full age may by deed discharge his claim for legitim, as the children’s share of the succession is called.

In case of intestacy, the eldest son is by the common law his father’s heir-at-law, subject to his mother’s dower, if not barred or discharged. But in some localities, special customs exist, such as Borough English—prevalent at Maldon{379} in Essex and elsewhere, by virtue of which the youngest son is the heir—and Gavelkind, which affects most of the land in Kent, where all the sons inherit in equal shares. Returning to the common-law rule, where there are both sons and daughters, the eldest son inherits to the exclusion of his younger brothers, and his sisters whether elder or younger. But if the intestate had no son, but several daughters, they would take as co-parceners in equal undivided shares. It will be understood that heirs and co-heiresses take freehold houses and land; but that leaseholds are personal property, and like money and goods, stocks and shares, are distributable, subject as hereinafter mentioned, among the widow (if any) and relatives of the deceased. Copyhold property is real estate, and the descent is in each case regulated by the custom of the manor of which the property is holden; Borough English and Gavelkind being much more common as affecting copyhold than freehold estates, though even in the case of copyholds the common-law rule is by far the most general.

The personal property of an intestate is the primary fund for payment of funeral and other expenses, costs of administration, and debts. When these have been paid, the widow (if any) is entitled to one-third of what is left; and the other two-thirds are divisible among the children. If there be no widow, the children take all, the collateral relatives having no claim. If any of the testator’s children have died before him, leaving issue, such issue take in equal shares the portion which their parent would have taken if living.

In England, the heir-at-law who takes his father’s freehold estates is not thereby deprived of his share, or any portion of his share, of the personalty. But in Scotland, the heir must bring into account or collate the value of what he has received in that capacity, before he can claim any part of the movables.

If a son or daughter be possessed of real and personal estate, and die unmarried, or widowed without children, and without making a will, leaving a surviving father, he would take the real estate as heir-at-law, and the personal estate as sole next of kin. If he were dead, the mother would take a share of the personal estate with the surviving brothers and sisters, and the eldest brother would inherit the real estate as heir-at-law. If the mother were living, but no brothers or sisters, nephews or nieces, she would have the personal estate, but could not inherit the real estate so long as any heir could be found on the paternal side. The children of deceased brothers and sisters take equally amongst them the share of personal estate which their deceased parent would have taken if living.

The law of Scotland is not so favourable to the father and mother of intestates. The father does not succeed to real or heritable estate if there be a brother or sister, and in the same event his right is limited to that of one-half the movable estate. When the father has predeceased, and the mother survives, she takes one-third of the movable succession, and the rest goes to brothers and sisters or other next of kin.

Having thus considered the rights, duties, and liabilities of parents with respect to the persons, the necessities, and the property of their children, and the corresponding rights and obligations of children with regard to their parents, we must offer a few remarks on the authority of parents over their children, and the extent to which that authority may be delegated to others.

A parent may control the actions of his children so long as they remain under his roof, and may insist upon his regulations being observed and his commands obeyed. While they are of tender years, he may inflict any reasonable punishment for disobedience or other offence, either by personal chastisement or otherwise; but he must not torture them, nor endanger their lives or health. He may also instruct his children himself; or he may send them to school; in the latter case, delegating to the schoolmaster so much as may be necessary of his power to restrain and correct the children so intrusted to his care. Since compulsory education became law, he must use reasonable means to get them educated. If a child should prove incorrigible, the parent may apply to the justices of the peace to send him or her to an Industrial School; which they have power to do on being satisfied by evidence upon oath that the child is altogether beyond the power of its parent to manage or control; and an order may be made upon the parent to pay the expense of the child’s maintenance and education in such school, if his means are sufficient to enable him to do so.

The liabilities imposed by marriage differ to some extent from the responsibilities of actual parentage. Thus, a man may be compelled to repay the expense incurred by the maintenance of his own father, but not of his wife’s father, in the workhouse. And though a married man is bound to keep his wife’s children, born before his marriage with her, until they are sixteen years of age respectively, if his wife live so long; yet, if she were to die while any of them were under that age, his responsibility would immediately cease. And if any of them were to become chargeable upon the poor-rates when more than sixteen years old, the stepfather could not be required to contribute towards the expense of their maintenance, even though their mother should be still living.



I just missed by a neck, as they say in steeplechasing dialect—though on second thoughts I think it must have been liker a full horse-length—my lot being cast among second-hand furniture. I believe I was of too philosophic a nature to make a practical auctioneer and furniture-broker of. At least, such was something like the opinion held by my employer—the old gentleman was a bit of a wag—who told my father, when the latter went to see why this knight of the hammer had dispensed with his son’s services, that my mind, like the late lamented Prince of Denmark’s, was of too speculative a character ever to ‘mak’ saut to my kail’ at his profession, and advised him to bring me ‘out for a minister.’ I need not say that this advice was, for divers reasons, never acted upon.


I suppose it must have been my twelve-months’ sojourn in this old worthy’s service which gives me to this day a certain meditative interest in brokers’ shops and old furniture salerooms. I am not at any time much of a stroller about the streets and gazer into shop-windows; but next to looking into the windows of book or print and picture shops, I have a weakness for sauntering into musty old salerooms, and staring idly at the miscellaneous articles of second-hand furniture huddled within their walls, and moralising on the mutability of human hopes and possessions. A spick-and-span new furniture and upholstery establishment has no more fascination for me than a black-and-white undertaker’s. But out of the bustle of the street and the broiling heat of the mid-day sun—which is my favourite time of indulgence—and in the dusty and shadowy corners, festooned with cobwebs, of a broker’s shop or old furniture saleroom, I forget how the time goes, as I join over again the sundered human relationships to the pieces of furniture at which I stand staring in half-reverie. I fancy it must have been this same dreamy tendency which, peeping forth in my boyish career, led my shrewd master to forecast my future with so much certainty to my parent. I care not about purchasing any of the articles that so absorb me. It is not the barren desire of possession which makes me haunt these dusty salerooms. When the place becomes crowded with people, and the auctioneer mounts his little pulpit, I gather my wandered wits together and ‘silently steal away.’

I say I love to linger among the cobwebs and amid the silence of old furniture salerooms—as fruitful a source of meditation to me as loitering among tombs ever was to Harvey. That venerable eight-day clock standing against the wall, behind those slim walnut chairs and couch done up in the bright green repp, its mahogany almost as black as your Sunday hat with age, turns on my thinking faculty just as the ‘auld Scots’ sangs’ moves my guidwife Peggy to tears. I think of all the pairs of eyes that have gazed up at the hands and figures on its olive-tinted face, and wonder how many of them have taken their last look of earth. My imagination transports it to some well-to-do Scottish cottage home, where I see, held up in fond arms, the marvelling youngsters, in striped cotton pinafores, with their wide-open eyes staring at the representatives of the four quarters of the globe, painted in bright dazzling colours on each corner of the dial-plate. Perhaps some of those same youngsters, to whose inquiring and wondering minds the pictures were an every-day exercise, are settled down, old men and women now, in one of these distant quarters of the globe, say America, and are sitting at this very moment in their log-hut in the backwoods, their minds’ eyes reverting to the familiar face of that old clock tick-ticking away in their childhood’s home.

Over against where it stood in that same old home, between the room door and the end of the white scoured wooden dresser with its well-filled delf rack, I picture to myself the wasted face of a sick woman pillowed up in bed. What weary nights she has listened to its tick-tack, and counted the slow hours as they struck, waiting for the dawn! I know that her head aches no longer, and that she sleeps sound enough now, with the summer breeze stirring the green grass on her grave.

Turning away from the venerable time-keeper, my eye falls on an old-fashioned low-set chest of drawers, with dingy folding brass handles, and little bits of the veneer chipped off here and there, and the ivory awanting in some of the keyholes. Where are now, I ask myself, the ashes of those bright household fires, which have winked in the shining depths of their mahogany in the darkening gloaming, before the blinds were drawn and the candles lit? What secrets and treasures have not these same drawers been the repositories of! I see a pensive female form, in striped shortgown and drugget petticoat, stop while she is sweeping the kitchen floor, and, with palpitating heart, pull out the centre small top drawer to take another look at the golden curl, wrapped in a precious letter, in the corner beside two or three well-worn toys. That bruised heart will throb no more with joy or pain; neither will her tears fall any more like scalding lead on the blurred parchment, as she lifts the bright curl to her lips before wrapping it away out of sight again—till, mayhap, the next day, when the old yearning returns, and she must needs go and unfold her treasure, the sight of which brings the little chubby face—over which the curl used to hang—once more before her brimming eyes.

The little bookcase, with the diamond-shaped panes, on the top of the chest of drawers is an object to me of even nobler regard than the drawers themselves. My venerable uncle, who was an author too, had just such a little bookcase on the top of his drawers, about three-fourths filled with sombre-looking volumes. I remember I never looked up at it as a boy, and beheld the dim dusty books, like gray ghosts, sitting erect, or leaning against one another in the twilight shelves, but I associated it in my fancy with the inside of his own gray head. Already I see the titles on the backs of some of these children of dead brains looming out of the empty gloom through the diamond-shaped panes; and I can recognise many of my own favourites among them. The binding is more faded and worn on the backs of some than others, as if they had been more often in the hand and more dear to the heart of the reader. I am almost tempted to stretch forth my hand and renew their acquaintance. One in particular, in faded green-and-gold binding, looking out from amongst a motley company of fiction, The House with the Seven Gables, I have a covetous eye upon.

How I should like to revisit the shadowy chambers of that old puritan mansion, especially{381} that low-studded oak-panelled room with the portrait of the stern old Colonel looking down from the wall; and feel the smell of its decaying timbers, ‘oozy’ with the memories of whole generations of Pyncheons; to see poor perplexed old Hepzibah in the midst of her first day’s shopkeeping, with her wreck of a resurrected brother to care and provide for; and watch—not without reverence, even though we are constrained sometimes to laugh—the miraculously minute workings of her crazed old heart fighting—a kind of comic pathos, as well as rarest heroism in her mimic battling—those troublesome spectres of gentility which she has inherited with her Pyncheon blood.

Alas for this most bewitching of romancers! Well might his friend Longfellow exclaim of him:

Ah! who shall lift that wand of magic power,
And the lost clue regain?
The unfinished window in Aladdin’s tower
Unfinished must remain!

Sitting on the shelf beneath The House with the Seven Gables is the king of all the magicians—the enchanter’s name printed in tarnished gold letters on a faded square of scarlet morocco on its calf back—‘Shakspeare.’

On this hot July forenoon, with dusty smelling streets, when the united heart of our mighty Babylon is panting for the water-brooks, wouldn’t it be a treat just to step into the forest of Arden? You don’t require to change your clothes, or bolt a hurried luncheon, or run to catch a train, or take your place on the crowded deck of a snorting greasy steamboat under a vertical sun; but simply to open out the volume at that most delightful of all comedies, As You Like It, and at once fling yourself down ‘under the shade of melancholy boughs,’ and ‘lose and neglect the creeping hours of time’ listening to the moralising of a Jaques

As he lay along
Under an oak, whose antique root peeps out
Upon the brook that brawls along this wood:

or to an encounter of his wits with the sage fooleries of a Touchstone; or the love-sick ravings of an Orlando; or the nimble pleasantries and caustic humours of a Rosalind.

But, to speak the truth, I don’t know whether I should not prefer at this moment—to a lounge in the forest of Arden—a meditative ramble and chat with the Wanderer in Wordsworth’s Excursion, which I spy leaning against my old friend The Vicar of Wakefield, there, on the other side of Shakspeare. How pleasant it would be, after toiling across the bare wide common, baked with the scorching heat, to join that venerable philosopher and retired packman just where the author himself meets him by appointment, reposing his limbs on the cottage bench beside the roofless hut of poor Margaret!

His eyes as if in drowsiness half shut,
The shadow of the breezy elms above
Dappling his face.

But the unceremonious porter is apparently unwilling to gratify me so far, having, in his preparations for the sale, pushed a tall half-tester bedstead right in front of my view of the chest of drawers and bookcase.

This alteration has brought to light an old armchair among a crowd of odd window-poles and bed-bottoms, a kind of bewilderment and shyness in its wrinkled features, as if it hardly felt at home in this nineteenth-century saleroom, rubbing shoulders, so to speak, with pompous old sideboards, and gouty old sofas and stuff-bottomed chairs, and wishing it were back to the earthen cottage floor again. From its shape and the colour of its wood, it looks more than a hundred years old. My Aunt S——, who was a paralytic, had just such a chair, which she sat in for ten years before she died. It had belonged to her mother’s mother; and she took great pride in averring that Burns—who, her own mother told her, was a crony of her father’s—had many a time sat in it. I think I see herself sitting in it at this moment, with her great black piercing eyes, and hear her clever critical tongue wagging as of old.

This ancient armchair, stuffed away amid the dust and lumber of the saleroom, touches my feelings more nearly than any other object joined together with hands. Its low, firm, but narrow seat, its solid curved arms, its straight sloping back with three spars in the centre, recall the tottering gait of silvery-haired grandfathers in knee-breeches and ‘rig-an’-fur’ stockings, and hale old grandmothers with white bordered ‘mutches’ or caps on their heads, and tartan napkins about their stooping shoulders; and old-fashioned Scotch kitchens with eight-day clocks, and wooden dressers, and clean-clayed roomy fireplaces with big-bellied pots hanging from the links on the ‘swee’ or crane.

But what household god is this which is the subject of whispering criticism behind me? Turning round, I observe two women, evidently intending purchasers from their remarks, and not idle dreamers like myself, moving away from a large chest to inspect some dishes they have suddenly caught sight of on a side-table at the further end of the room. This chest I have seen before, especially about the term-time, mounted on the footboard of a cab beside the driver, while its ‘sonsie’ proprietress—unaccustomed as she is to ride in carriages—sits on the edge of the cushioned seat inside, staring apologetically at the foot-passengers on the pavement. It is the same kind of thing thrifty housewives in the country used to keep their blankets in, before the trunks and tin boxes came so much into vogue. It is painted an oak colour, though to my mind it resembles more a musty gingerbread; and it has a black line forming a square on each of its plain panels. Instinctively I lift the lid and peep in. Its white wood is covered with a wall-paper pattern of moss-roses. It has a ‘shuttle’ too, with a little drawer underneath; the same as was in the chest I had when a bachelor. I used to keep all my valuables in that little drawer, such as love-letters. How those epistles accumulated! I remember I had to press them down before the drawer would shut, when I happened to be refreshing my memory with some of their pleasant sentiments. Peg’s portrait used to lie here in a corner of this same charmed sepulchre. If I were to tell my young readers how often I made an excuse to go into my chest for something or other, and never withdrew my head without{382} taking a peep at Peg’s face, they would no doubt call me spooney, though they know quite well they do the same thing themselves.

The bustling old porter, who kept hovering in my vicinity—a kind of astonished interest looking out of his not unkindly gray eyes—here cut short my amorous reminiscences by shutting down the lid of the chest, and, apparently with a view to economise space—for odd customers were beginning to drop in—lifting a cradle on to the top of it. The cradle is one of the old-fashioned wooden sort, with good solid rockers, which used to be seen in the houses of plain folks in my young days, and was usually of some antiquity, being considered an heirloom, and descending from parent to eldest son. I remember another cradle just like this one, in our old home. It was painted a bluish-green colour inside, and a loud mahogany colour outside, interspersed with numberless artificial black knots, more like figures in the hangings, or wall-paper, than the grains of wood. That cradle had rocked no end of generations of my progenitors; and when baby visitors gave over showing their chubby little red pudding faces at our house, my sister and I used to play at ‘shop’ and ‘church’ in it on wet days. On these occasions, though I allowed her—as I no doubt thought became her good-for-nothing sex—the full management of the shop, yet I always insisted on being the clergyman, turning the cradle on its end, and preaching from under its hood, which served as a canopy.

That oldest and ever newest tragedy which we must all, some time or other, be witnesses of, or chief performers in, has been enacted in this hollow little bed ere now. I see the worn and anxious mother seated on a stool bending over the little sufferer in the cradle. She has not had her clothes off for nearly a week, but she will not be persuaded to lie down. She could never forgive herself if those glazed little windows, so set-like now in their deep sockets, under the ashy pale brow, were to be darkened for ever, and she not see the final darkening. She wets continually the livid and senseless little lips, and sighs as if her heart would burst, as she watches, in her own words, ‘the sair, sair liftin’ o’ the wee breist, an’ the cauld, cauld dew on the little face!’ The struggle will not last long now, and the mother’s pent-up feelings will ere long get relief.

Whether desirous of diverting my thoughts from this harrowing scene, or merely thinking it a pity that I should be exercising my mind over a lot of lifeless old sticks, the porter, with a delicacy of insight that I would hardly have credited him with, has brought two pictures, and without a word has put them up against the backs of two mahogany chairs in front of me. If that porter had been my friend the biggest half of his natural lifetime—which, judging from the furrows on his lean face and the whiteness of his scant locks, was already anything but a short one—he could not have selected two works of art more pat to my taste or my present mood; and I inwardly blessed him for his thoughtful trouble, though I had a vague suspicion that there might be a gentle touch of irony in his ministrations.

The largest picture, ‘Crossing the Sands,’ is a gloaming or twilight subject, somewhere, I fancy, on the Ayrshire coast. Its features are as familiar to me as the streets and houses in my native town. It brings to mind the days of my childhood, when the old folks used to hire a garret at the seaside for a few brief—for us youngsters all too brief—days in the summer; and the lonely walks and talks of later years, when the sun had gone down, and the newly awakened winds blew all the stronger and fresher in our faces for their afternoon’s slumber, and our voices mingled with the rhythmic murmur of the waves as they broke at our feet.

The artist, I suppose, has named his picture from the dim outline of a horse and cart, with two figures sitting in it, crossing the darkening sands. The tide is far out, and has left long zigzag shallow pools of water lying in the uneven places on the sands, into which the swift vanishing day, through a break in the dark saffron clouds, is casting wistful looks. The same pale reflection is glimmering faintly along the wave-broken verge of the distant sea; while the denser flood, where it stretches out to meet the gray skyline, wears something of a sad melancholy in its cold blue depth. In comfortable contrast with this lonesomeness, sitting among the deepening shadows on a dark clump of moorland, or bent, on the left-hand corner of the picture, is the dreamiest little hut, with the rarest blue smoke rising out of its crazy chimney, and floating like a spirit among the dark grays and purples sleeping on the hillsides.

The smaller upright picture is a street in Dieppe—the time, evening, from the green tinge in the blue of the sky, and the roseate hue of the low-lying clouds. It is just such an old French street as one would delight in strolling through at that poetic hour, to feast one’s eyes on the bewitching mixture of sunlight and shadow, reclining side by side, or locked in loving embrace among the sombre reds, and rich browns, and warm ochres on the quaint roofs and gables and walls; and to note the leisurely figures of the picturesque women in white caps, blue shortgowns, and red petticoats, chatting in the mellow sunlight at the street corner, or moving along in the shadow under the eaves of the overhanging gables; or the slow cart in the middle of the street, its wheels resting on that streak of sunshine slanting from the old gable at the corner; or the decrepit vegetable-woman at her stand on the opposite side of that gutter, the fresh green colour of her vegetables—all the fresher and greener against the daub or two of bright red—wafting one’s thoughts away to cottage gardens and pleasant orchards.

But I must not tarry any longer in this old French street, or, indeed, in this musty old saleroom, which has thrown off its pensive and meditative humour, and taken on a brisk, practical, and business-like air. Already the auctioneer and his spruce clerk have arrived, and the faces of the knots of people scattered up and down the floor are looking with expectancy towards the little pulpit. It is no longer a place for an idle dreamer like myself, and so I saunter out to the street. The sudden transition from the shadow of the saleroom to the bright white sunshine on the bustling city thoroughfare, together with the sight of the refreshing water-cart, with a group of barelegged, merry children prancing{383} in its cooling spray, instantly dispel my illusions; and in another moment I am as completely in the midst of the living present as I was before in the dead past.


There is a curious instrument in the armamentarium of the surgeon called a probang, employed for removing foreign bodies which have become fixed in the esophagus or gullet. It consists of a flexible stem, at one end of which is an arrangement of catgut fibres, and at the other end a small handle. By moving the handle slightly, these threads of catgut—which are stretched all round and parallel to the stem at its lower end—can be bent outwards in a radiating manner, which gives the instrument the appearance of a chimney-sweep’s broom in miniature. When a person is so unfortunate as to get a piece of bone stuck in his throat beyond the reach of the surgeon’s hand, the probang is sometimes found very useful. It can be passed down the gullet, in a closed condition, beyond the obstruction, then opened somewhat like an umbrella, and drawn upwards, carrying with it—if all goes well—the foreign body. The passing of such an instrument is far from being pleasant to the patient; but if it be done with ordinary care and judgment, it will not be attended with any harm. Every one who has known the misery attendant upon getting a good-sized piece of bone impacted in the food-passage, will understand that when the operation has proved successful, the patient is likely to consider the pleasure of seeing the offending fragment caught in the meshes of the probang cheaply purchased by the discomfort attendant upon the passage of the instrument.

Another instrument employed for passing down the esophagus is used for a different purpose. When the gullet has been severely burned internally—as, for instance, from the accidental swallowing of corrosive acids—after the ulcer produced has healed, there is a great tendency to contraction in the scar, and consequent stricture of the esophagus. This may threaten life, by tending to close the passage altogether. To prevent this, instruments called bougies are passed through the constriction from time to time. These bougies are simply firm, smooth, slightly flexible rods with rounded ends, and are various in size as regards their diameters. An instance of the passing of these instruments being turned to account in a very curious way, occurred some years ago in one of the London hospitals. A patient was suffering from stricture of the esophagus, brought about in the manner above described; and the tendency to contraction was in this case so great, that it was only by the frequent passing of instruments that it could be prevented from becoming to the last degree dangerous. Now, it was impossible that the man could remain in the hospital permanently; it was therefore decided to teach him to pass the instrument for himself. He proved capable of this, after a certain amount of instruction; and it then occurred to some one about the hospital that the daily performance of this operation might be made the means by which the man could earn a livelihood. Accordingly, the patient was advised to get a bougie made as much as possible to resemble a sword. This he did; and for a long time afterwards was to be seen about the streets of London making money by what looked like the swallowing of a sword. In his case there was really ‘no deception’ as regards the passing of a long instrument down towards his stomach was concerned, the only deception being that the instrument was not the weapon it represented. His daily street performance thus served him in two ways—it supplied him with food, and also kept open the passage by which that food could be conveyed to his ‘inner man.’

The contraction about which we have spoken as taking place in scars formed after burns of the gullet, and which is so dangerous there, also occurs in burns on the surface of the body, and often leads to a good deal of deformity. Burns, indeed, are a great source of trouble to the surgeon in many ways. For instance, if a burn is very extensive, there may be great difficulty in getting a cicatrice to form over the whole of it. Cicatrisation only begins in the immediate neighbourhood of living epidermis, and therefore a burn or ulcer must heal from the circumference to the centre. But the further that the cicatricial tissue extends from the margin of the burn, the more slowly and the more imperfectly is it formed; and indeed it may fail altogether to reach the centre. This difficulty has often been met by a small operation called skin-grafting. A piece of sound skin about the size of a split pea is pinched up—say, on the outside of the arm—and the epidermis snipped off with a pair of curved scissors, the scissors just going deep enough to cut slightly into the second layer of the skin and draw a little blood. A special kind of scissors has been invented for the purpose, that will only take up just the right amount of skin, so that the operation is thus made even simpler still; and if it is skilfully performed, it causes only very trifling pain. The little fragment of skin thus separated is then placed gently, with its raw surface downwards, on the unhealed surface of the burn. The same thing is repeated again and again, till there are many grafts, if the burn is a large one. Isinglass plaster, or some other similar material, is employed to keep the grafts in position and preserve them from injury. In about four days they should have taken root, and then the covering can be removed. There is now a number of foci from which cicatrisation can start; for, as before said, it will begin from where there is an epidermal covering, and thence alone. After a time, a number of little islands of scar tissue may be seen, which go on increasing until at length they coalesce with one another, and also join that extending from the margin of the burn. This is what happens if all goes well; but, unfortunately, there is a very great tendency for a cicatrice formed from grafts to break down and disappear, so that the result is not by any means always so satisfactory as it at first promises to be.

Another trouble with burns is the great pain which they invariably cause; and numberless are the applications which have been recommended for its relief. The great essential in all such applications is that they should completely exclude the air; for the very slightest irritation to{384} the surface of a burn will give rise to the most excruciating pain. To prevent irritation and to keep the parts at rest is indeed one of the surest ways of relieving pain, not only in the case of burns, but in the treatment of other forms of injury, and also in many kinds of disease. An instance of this is found in the method adopted to relieve the pain in certain joint diseases. Those who have visited the Children’s Hospital in Ormond Street, or indeed any other hospital for children, may remember having noticed that at the foot of many of the beds there was fixed a pulley, over which ran a cord with a weight attached to the end of it. This cord, it may further have been noticed, was fixed at the other end to a kind of stirrup which depended from the patient’s foot. Thus the weight—which consisted of a tin canister partly filled with shot—had the effect of keeping the child’s leg on the stretch continuously. In fact, the little patient looked very much as though he was lying on a kind of rack; and if the visitor could have heard the surgeon order more shot to be poured into the canister, saying that he thought the patient was able to bear more weight, the command would have sounded very like that of a torturer, rather than that of one whose object it was to relieve pain. But the truth is that this rack is a very humane one indeed. It is the rack of modern times, as distinguished from that of past ages; it is the rack of the surgeon, and not that of the inquisitor. The cases in which this apparatus is used are almost always instances of disease of the hip or knee joint. The object of this arrangement of pulley and weight is, by making traction on the foot and leg, to keep the lower of the bones, which go to form the diseased joint, away from the upper, and so avoid the excruciating pain caused by the carious or ulcerated surfaces touching one another.

The benefit in such cases of having a weight drawing on the leg is most marked at night, when the patient wishes to get to sleep. With a good heavy weight, many a patient may sleep comfortably, who would otherwise be in a most pitiable condition through the long watches of the night. The position of such a person without any weight attached would be this. Knowing from past experience what too often followed on his dropping off to sleep, he would endeavour to keep himself from doing so. This, however, would of course be impossible for long, and at last the heavy eyelids would droop, the ward with its long rows of beds would grow dimmer and dimmer, the breathing of the neighbouring sleepers would sound fainter and yet more faint, until sight and hearing failed him, and his long watching ended in sleep. But now that he was no longer on his guard to keep his limb in a state of perfect rest, the irritation of the diseased part would give rise to spasmodic contraction of the neighbouring muscles. This contraction of the muscles would bring the lower bone of the joint, with more or less violence, against the upper; the two highly sensitive ulcerated surfaces would touch, and with a shriek of agony, the child would awake, quivering in every limb. And then, as the pain gradually grew less, again the same terrible drowsiness would begin to oppress him; and after another long spell of watching, he would fall asleep once more, to be once more awakened in the same horrible manner as before. But with a sufficient weight attached, the patient may go to sleep confident of comparative ease; for the weight is too much for the spasmodic action of the muscles to overcome, and the bony surfaces therefore remain separated. And not only does the surgeon’s rack thus save the patient from a terrible amount of pain, but, by allowing him to get good rest of a night, it must increase enormously the probability of ultimate recovery.



I hear it again!
An echo of youth from its far sunny shore;
Through the dim distant years it resoundeth once more.
How mingled the feelings that rise with the strain—
The joy and the pain!
I hear it, but not
In the home of my childhood, the glorious and grand,
’Mid the wild woody glens of my own native land.
Ah! dear to me still is each far distant spot,
And present in thought.
I see them to-day!
The glory of Spring-time on valley and hill,
That struck to my heart with a rapturous thrill,
And friends in the sunshine of life’s early ray,
Young, happy, and gay.
All vanished and gone!
Could I see it indeed as in spirit I see,
The home of my youth would be joyless to me;
Like a bird’s empty nest when the tenant has flown,
Deserted and lone.
Soft, softly it rings!
O shades of the buried Past, slumber in peace!
O heart, bid thy sad, tender memories cease!
And welcome the Present, with all that it brings
Of beautiful things.
How often in youth
I have dreamed of this land of the oak and the vine,
This green, lovely land on the banks of the Rhine,
With longing prophetic, that one day in sooth
The dream should be truth.
Now gladly I rest
’Mid its scenes of enchantment with those that I love;
Warm hearts are around me, blue skies are above;
And though distant are some of the dearest and best,
I am thankful, and blest.
The years as they roll
Rob the cheek of its glow and the eyes of their light,
And much we have cherished is lost to the sight;
But one thing remains that they cannot control—
The youth of the Soul.
I. A. S.

Printed and Published by W. & R. Chambers, 47 Paternoster Row, London, and 339 High Street, Edinburgh.

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