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Title: The Cornhill Magazine (Vol. I, No. 3, March 1860)

Author: Various

Release date: June 14, 2022 [eBook #68316]

Language: English

Original publication: United Kingdom: Smith, Elder and Co, 1860

Credits: hekula03 and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This book was produced from images made available by the HathiTrust Digital Library.)




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MARCH, 1860.


A Few Words on Junius and Macaulay 257
William Hogarth: Painter, Engraver, and Philosopher. Essays on the Man, the Work, and the Time. 264
II.—Mr. Gamble’s Apprentice. (With an Illustration.)
Mabel 282
Studies in Animal Life 283
Chapter III.A garden wall, and its traces of past life—Not a breath perishes—A bit of dry moss and its inhabitants—The “Wheel-bearers”—Resuscitation of Rotifers: drowned into life—Current belief that animals can be revived after complete desiccation—Experiments contradicting the belief—Spallanzani’s testimony—Value of biology as a means of culture—Classification of animals: the five great types—Criticism of Cuvier’s arrangement.
Framley Parsonage 296
Chapter VII.Sunday Morning.
VIII.—Gatherum Castle.
IX.—The Vicar’s Return.
Sir Joshua and Holbein 322
A Changeling 329
Lovel the Widower 330
Chapter III.In which I play the Spy. (With an Illustration.)
The National Gallery Difficulty Solved 346
A Winter Wedding-party in the Wilds 356
Student Life in Scotland 366
Roundabout Papers.—No. 2 380
On Two Children in Black.



CONTENTS of No. 1.
January, 1860.

CONTENTS of No. 2.
February, 1860.


Communications for the Editor should be addressed to the care of Messrs. Smith, Elder and Co., 65, Cornhill, and not to the Editor’s private residence. The Editor cannot be responsible for the return of rejected contributions.



MARCH, 1860.

A Few Words on Junius and Macaulay.

The “secret of Junius” has been kept until, like over-ripe wines, the subject has lost its flavour. Languid indeed is the disposition of mind in which any, except a few veterans who still prefer the old post-road to the modern railway, take up an essay or an article professing to throw new light on that wearisome mystery, or to add some hitherto unknown name to the ghostly crowd of candidates for that antiquated prize. And yet there is a deep interest about the inquiry, after all, to those who, from any special cause, are induced to overcome the feeling of satiety which it at first excites, and plunge into the controversy with the energy of their grandfathers. The real force and virulence of those powerful writings, unrivalled then, and scarcely equalled since, let critics say what they may; the strangeness of the fact that none of the quick-sighted, unscrupulous, revengeful men who surrounded Junius at the time of his writing, who brushed past him in the street, drank with him at dinner, sat opposite him in the office, could ever attain to even a probable conjecture of his identity; the irresistible character of the external evidence which fixes the authorship on Francis, contrasted with those startling internal improbabilities which make the Franciscan theory to this day the least popular, although the learned regard it as all but established—the eccentric, repulsive, “dour” character of Francis himself, and the kind of pertinacious longing which besets us to know the interior of a man who shuts himself up against his fellow-men in fixed disdain and silence:—these are powerful incentives, and produce an attraction, of which we are sometimes ourselves ashamed, towards the occupation of treading over and over again this often beaten ground of literary curiosity.

Never have I felt this more strongly, than when accident led me, a few years ago, into Leigh and Sotheby’s sale-room, when the library of Sir Philip Francis was on view previous to auction. I know not whether any reader will sympathize with me in what I am about to say: but to me there is a solemn and rather oppressive feeling, which attends these exposures of books for sale, where the death is recent, and where the owner and[258] collector was a man of this world, taking an interest in the everyday literature which occupies myself and those around me. There stands his copy of a memoir of some one whom both he and I knew well—he had just had time to read it, as I see by the date, and with interest, as I judge by the pencil marks—in what mysteriously separate relation do he and I now respectively stand towards that common acquaintance? There is his copy of the latest volume of Travels—he had only accompanied the adventurer, I see, as far as the First Cataract—what matters now to him the problem of the Source of the Nile? There is his last unbound number of the Quarterly—he had studied it for many a year: at such a page, the paper-cutter rested from its work, the marginal notes ended, the influx of knowledge stopped, the chain of thought was snapped, the mental perceptions darkened. Can it be, that the active mind of our fellow-worker ceased then and there from that continuous exertion of so many years, and became that we wot not of—a living Intelligence, it may be, but removed into another sphere, with which its habitual region of labour—the cycle in which it moved and had its being—had no connection whatever? Must it be (as Charles Lamb so quaintly expresses it) that “knowledge now comes to him, if it comes at all, by some awkward experiment of intuition, and no longer by this familiar process of reading?”

But I do not wish to dally, here and now, with fancies like these. I only introduced the subject, because Sir Philip Francis’ library was a good deal calculated to suggest this class of thoughts. He was a great marginal note-maker. He criticized all that came under his eye, and especially what related to political events, even to his latest hour. And—singular enough, yet in accordance with much that we know of him, and with all that we must suppose, if Junius he was—he had avoided keeping up, in this way, his connection with the time in which his sinister and anonymous fame was achieved. So far as I remember, his books of the Junian period were little noted. He seemed to have exercised his memory and judgment on the records of Warren Hastings’ trial, the French Revolution, the revolutionary war—not on those of Burke and Chatham.

This, however, is all by the way, and I must crave pardon for the digression. I lost myself, and wandered off, it seems, just when I was reminding the reader that the subsidiary features of the Junian controversy have now become much more interesting than the old question of authorship itself, and that it is an admirable exercise for the intellectual faculties to trace the way in which different lines of reasoning, wholly distinct and yet severally complete, converge towards the “Franciscan” conclusion. It was in this light, especially, that the subject appeared to captivate the mind of that great historical genius whom we have lost: whom we have just seen in the ample enjoyment of most rare faculties, the fulness of fame, and the height of fortune, committed to the soft arms of an euthanasia such as has rarely waited on man. The “Junian controversy” was with Macaulay an endless subject of ingenious talk. It suited certain peculiarities of his mind. As he was the very clearest of writers, so he was also,[259] in a special sense and manner, the most acute of reasoners. In limited, close historical argument—in the power to infer a third proposition from a second, a second from a first—the power to expand a fact, either proved or assumed as a trifling postulate, into a series of facts, with undeniable cogency—I think we must go far to find his equal.

If you gave Cuvier a tarsal bone, he constructed you, with unerring certainty, a humming-bird or an elephant. If you gave Macaulay a casual passage from a letter, he would divine, with strange precision, the circumstances of that letter: the occasion of its writing, the reason of its publication or non-publication, the way in which the writer was connected with some great event of the time, and in which the letter bore on that event. But his judgment of the character of the man, or character of the event, was another matter altogether, and tasked a different order of faculties, with which we are not now concerned. If we were to seek a rival to Macaulay in this peculiar province of clear and cogent reasoning from fact A to fact X, imparting to conjecture the force of truth, we should probably find him rather among lawyers than writers. In truth, the historian always retained, and to his great advantage, many of the mental habits, as well as many of the tastes and joyous recollections of the bar. He was at once the most Paleyan and the most forensic of historical inquirers. When he entered the arena of controversy, you might doubt whether he had donned his armour in the Senate House of Cambridge or the Assize Court of Lancaster. We may assume (as Coke assumed, lamentingly, of Bacon) that had he only stuck to the law he would have made a great lawyer. But it is open to doubt whether, as a judge, he would have done more of service by the marvellous lucidity with which he would have drawn out a series of circumstantial evidence before a jury, or more of harm by his tendency to force the various considerations attending a complicated case into conformity with his own too complete and too vivid ideal of that case.

There is no better way towards appreciating the intensity of this peculiar faculty in Macaulay, than to study the various controversies into which his essays and his history led him: both the few in which he vouchsafed a reply, and the many more in which he rested contented with his first statement—his issues with Dixon, Paget, the High Churchmen, the Scotch, the Quakers, and the like—and to contrast his method with that of his antagonists. They all beat the bush, more or less, and flounder in every variety of historical fallacy. They beg the question, frame “vicious processes” from their premisses, “pole” themselves on self-created dilemmas, commit, in short, every error which logicians denounce in their fantastic terminology—in Macaulay’s reasoning, simply as such, you will never detect a flaw. His conclusion follows his premisses as surely and safely as “the night the day.” You may agree with his antagonist, and not with him; but you will find that what you consider to be his error lies quite in another direction, and consists, not in misusing his own facts, but in ignoring or neglecting true and material facts adduced by his opponents. And beware, O young and ardent Reader, too readily pleased with seeing[260] a hole picked in a great man’s coat, lest the triumphant crow, with which these opponents invariably trumpet their supposed victory, seduce you into premature acquiescence. By-and-by, when cooler and steadier, you may be inclined to conjecture that Macaulay’s piercing instinct was right after all, and that the facts evoked against him are in reality either doubtful or immaterial to the argument.

It was, as I have said, this fondness and aptitude for following up with accuracy converging lines of evidence, which gave Macaulay so great an interest in the Junian controversy, and made him so ready to allude to it incidentally both in writing and conversation. He contributed, himself, two, at least, of the most remarkable collateral proofs which tend to fix the authorship on Francis—the curious error of the English War-office clerk about the rules of Irish pensions, in the correspondence with Sir William Draper—the personal hostility of the Francis family towards the Luttrells, which accounts for the savage treatment by Junius of such obscure offenders. And now, having used the great historian’s name, somewhat unfairly, by way of shoeing-horn, to draw on a fresh chapter on the old controversy, let me place before you another singular instance of this class of collateral proofs, which, I believe, has not been made public before, but which greatly excited the curiosity of Macaulay, and which he would have followed out—if ever he had taken up the question again—with all the force of his inductive mind.

In one of the early letters of Woodfall’s collection, under the signature “Bifrons” (April 23, 1768: vol. ii. p. 175, of Bohn’s Edition), the writer, after accusing the Duke of Grafton of being a ‘casuist,’ proceeds as follows:—

“I am not deeply read in authors of that professed title: but I remember seeing Busenbaum, Suares, Molina, and a score of other Jesuitical books, burnt at Paris, for their sound casuistry, by the hand of the common hangman.”

I shall assume at once that Bifrons was the same writer as Junius. The general reasons for the assumption are familiar to those versed in the controversy. And even were those general grounds of identity less strong than they are, every one would allow that to prove that Francis was Bifrons, would go a long way towards proving him Junius.

A passage so pregnant with suggestion has of course provoked abundant comment: but all of the loosest description. No one seems to have taken the pains to follow out for himself a hint pointing to conclusions of so much importance, both negative and affirmative.

Mr. W. H. Smith, the recent editor of the Grenville Papers, thus presses it into the service of his theory, attributing the authorship of Junius to Lord Temple:

“The ceremony here alluded to probably took place in or about the year 1732, when the disputes between the King of France and his parliaments, relative to the Jesuits, had arrived at the highest point of acrimony. Several burnings of obnoxious and prohibited books and writings are described by cotemporary authorities at this time; and as Lord Temple,[261] then Richard Grenville, was in France, and chiefly at Paris, from the autumn of 1731 to the spring of 1733, he had, consequently, many opportunities of witnessing the ceremonies of the burning of ‘scores of Jesuitical books’ by the common hangman, as described by Junius.”—(Introductory notes relating to the authorship of Junius, p. cxliv.)

Mr. Smith is scarcely so familiar with the details of French as of English history. No doubt books were publicly burnt in Paris about the time he mentions: but the books were Jansenist, not Jesuit: the letters concerning the Miracles of M. de Paris, the Nouvelles Ecclésiastiques, and the like—not the works of the Casuists. In 1732, the Jesuits were the executioners: their turn, as victims, came a generation later.

A writer, who endeavours to establish a claim for Lord Lyttelton, is nearer the mark: but, unluckily, just misses it:——

“We may assume,” says he, “that this burning took place in 1764, as it was in that year that Choiseul suppressed the Jesuits. Thomas Lyttelton was on the continent during the whole of 1764, and for part of the time resided at Paris.”

The burning of books, so accurately described by Bifrons, took place, beyond a doubt, as we shall presently see, on August the 7th, 1761. Now this date raises a curious question, which is indicated, but in a very careless manner, by Mr. Wade (in his notes to Junius, Bohn’s edition):——

“It may be doubted, indeed, whether Bifrons was an Englishman, or even an Irishman: he certainly could not have been a British subject in 1761, unless he was a prisoner of war: for in that year we were at war with France. But if a prisoner of war, how unlikely that he could be at Paris to witness an auto-da-fé of heretical works: he would have been confined in the interior of the kingdom, not left at large to indulge his curiosity in the capital.”

Now, assuming (as all these writers do), that Bifrons-Junius actually saw what he says he saw, how does the circumstance bear on the claims of the several candidates?

What was Lyttelton in August, 1761? An Eton boy, enjoying his holidays.

Where was Lord Temple? At Stowe (see the Grenville Letters) caballing with Pitt.

Where was Burke? At Battersea, preparing to join Gerard Hamilton in Ireland.

Where were Burke the younger, Lord George Sackville, and the rest of the illustrious persons implicated in some people’s suspicions? Not in Paris, we may safely answer, without pursuing our inquiry farther.

But it is undoubtedly possible that Bifrons-Junius, after all, did not himself see the auto-da-fé in question: he may have heard of it, or read of it, and may have described himself as a witness for effect, by way of a flourish, or even by way of false lure to throw inquirers off the scent.

It would then only remain to inquire, in what way, by what association of ideas, Bifrons-Junius came to give so circumstantial a description, and in[262] so prominent a manner, of an occurrence which had passed in a time of war, almost unmarked by the English public, and which had excited in England but very little attention or interest since?

Now let us see how either supposition bears on the “Franciscan theory.”

Francis was a very young clerk in Mr. Pitt’s department (which answered to the Foreign Office of these days) in 1759. In that year he accompanied Lord Kinnoul on his special mission to Portugal. His lordship returned in November, 1760, with all his staff, and the youthful Francis (in all probability) returned to his desk at the same time.

He was certainly at work in the same office between October, 1761, and August 1768; for he says of himself (Parl. Debates, xxii. 97), that he “possessed Lord Egremont’s favour in the Secretary of State’s Office.” That nobleman came into office in October, 1761, and died in August, 1763. In the latter year Francis was removed to the War Office, where he remained until 1772.

Where was he in August, 1761?

According to all reasonable presumption, at work in Pitt’s department.

And yet Lady Francis, in that biographical account of her husband which was published by Lord Campbell—an account evidently incorrect in some details, yet authentic in striking particulars, as might be expected from a lady’s reminiscences of what she heard from an older man—says, “He was at the Court of France in Louis XV.’s time, when the Jesuits were driven out by Madame de Pompadour.”

This, it will be at once allowed, is a strange instance of coincidence between Bifrons and the lady. The more striking, because the particulars of disagreement show that the two stories do not come from the same source. But how can we account for either story? How came Francis to be in Paris—if in Paris he were—in time of war?

With a view to solve this question to my own satisfaction, I once consulted the State Paper Office. It happens that during the summer of 1761, Mr. Hans Stanley was in Paris, on a diplomatic mission, to negotiate terms of peace with Choiseul. He failed in that object—some folks thought Mr. Pitt never meant he should succeed—and returned home in September of that year. His correspondence with Pitt, as Secretary of State, is preserved in the office aforesaid. He seems to have had the ordinary staff of assistants from Pitt’s department: but I could not find any record of their names. His despatches are entirely confined to the subject of the negotiation on which he was engaged, with one exception. He seems, for some reason or other, to have taken much interest in the affair of the Jesuits. On August 10, he writes at length on the whole of that matter. To his despatch is annexed a careful précis, in Downing Street language, of the history of the Jesuits’ quarrel with the parliament: evidently drawn up by one of his subordinates. Enclosed in this précis is the original printed Arrêt de la Cour du Parlement, du 6 Août, 1761, condemning Molina, de Justitiâ et Jure; Suares, Defensio Fidei Catholicæ; Busenbaum, Theologia Moralis; and several other books of the same class, to be lacérés et[263] brûlés en la cour du Palais. And a MS. note at the foot of the Arrêt states that the books were burnt on the 7th accordingly.

Thus much, therefore, is all but certain; some member of Mr. Stanley’s mission, or other confidential subordinate, was present in the Cour du Palais when that arrêt was executed, and reported it to his principal, who reported it to Mr. Pitt: and Francis was at that time a clerk in Pitt’s office, which was in constant communication with Stanley’s mission. We do not know the names of the individual clerks who were attached to that mission, or passed backwards and forwards between Paris and London in connection with it. But we do know that Francis had been twice employed in a similar way (to accompany General Bligh’s expedition to Cherbourg, and Lord Kinnoul’s mission to Portugal). Evidently, therefore, he was very likely to be thus employed again. He may then assuredly have witnessed with his own bodily eyes what no Englishman, unconnected with that mission, could well have witnessed: may have stood on the steps of the Palais de Justice, watched the absurd execution taking place in the courtyard below, and treasured up the details as food for his sarcastic spirit; or (to take the other supposition) he may have read at his desk in the office that curious despatch of Mr. Stanley’s; may have retained it in his tenacious memory; and, writing a few years afterwards, may have thought proper, for the sake of effect, to represent himself as an eye-witness of what he only knew by reading.

All this I once detailed to Macaulay, who, as I have said, was much interested by the argument, and took an eager part in discussing it. But one circumstance (I said) perplexed me, and seemed to interfere with the probabilities of the case. How came Junius, whose excessive fear of detection betrays itself throughout so much of his correspondence, and led him to employ all manner of shifts and devices for the sake of concealment, to give the public, as if in mere bravado, such a key to his identity as this little piece of autobiography affords?

The answer is plain, replied Macaulay on the instant, with one of those electric flashes of rapid perception which seemed in him to pass direct from the brain to the eye. The letter of Bifrons is one of Junius’s earliest productions—its date, half-a-year before the formidable signature of Junius was adopted at all. The first letter so signed is dated in November, 1768. In April, the writer had neither earned his fame, nor incurred his personal danger. A mere unknown scatterer of abuse, he could have little or no fear of directing inquiry towards himself.

But (he added) I much prefer your first supposition to your second. It is not only the most picturesque, but it is really the most probable. And unless the contrary can be shown, I shall believe in the actual presence of the writer at the burning of the books. Remember, this fact explains what otherwise seems inexplicable, Lady Francis’s imperfect story, that her husband “was at the court of France when Madame de Pompadour drove out the Jesuits.” Depend on it, you have caught Junius in the fact. Francis was there.


William Hogarth:
Essays on the Man, the Work, and the Time.

II.—Mr. Gamble’s Apprentice.

How often have I envied those who—were not my envy dead and buried—would now be sixty years old! I mean the persons who were born at the commencement of the present century, and who saw its glories evolved each year with a more astonishing grandeur and brilliance, till they culminated in that universal “transformation scene” of ’15. For the appreciation of things began to dawn on me only in an era of internecine frays and feuds:—theological controversies, reform agitations, corporation squabbles, boroughmongering debates, and the like: a time of sad seditions and unwholesome social misunderstandings; Captain Rock shooting tithe-proctors in Ireland yonder; Captain Swing burning hayricks here; Captains Ignorance and Starvation wandering up and down, smashing machinery, demolishing toll-bars, screeching out “Bread or blood!” at the carriage-windows of the nobility and gentry going to the drawing-room, and otherwise proceeding the wretchedest of ways for the redress of their grievances. Surely, I thought, when I began to think at all, I was born in the worst of times. Could that stern nobleman, whom the mob hated, and hooted, and pelted—could the detested “Nosey,” who was beset by a furious crowd in the Minories, and would have been torn off his horse, perchance slain, but for the timely aid of Chelsea Pensioners and City Marshalmen,—and who was compelled to screen his palace windows with iron shutters from onslaughts of Radical macadamites—could he be that grand Duke Arthur, Conqueror and Captain, who had lived through so much glory, and had been so much adored an idol? Oh, to have been born in 1800! At six, I might just have remembered the mingled exultation and passionate grief of Trafalgar; have seen the lying in state at Greenwich, the great procession, and the trophied car that bore the mighty admiral’s remains to his last home beneath the dome of Paul’s. I might have heard of the crowning of the great usurper of Gaul: of his putting away his Creole wife, and taking an emperor’s daughter; of his congress at Erfurt,—and Talma, his tragedian, playing to a pit full of kings, of his triumphal march to Moscow, and dismal melting away—he and his hosts—therefrom; of his last defeat and spectral appearance among us—a wan, fat, captive man, in a battered cocked hat, on the poop of an English war-ship in Plymouth Sound—just before his transportation to the rock appointed to him to eat his heart upon. I envied the nurse who told upon her fingers the names of the famous victories of the British army under Wellington in Spain; Vimieira, Talavera, Vittoria, Salamanca, Ciudad Rodrigo, Badajos, Fuentes[265] d’Onore,—mille e tre; in fine—at last, Waterloo. Why had I not lived in that grand time, when the very history itself was acting? Strong men there were who lived before Agamemnon; but for the accident of a few years, I might have seen, at least, Agamemnon in the flesh. ’Tis true, I knew then only about the rejoicings and fireworks, the bell-ringings, and thanksgiving sermons, the Extraordinary Gazettes, and peerages and ribbons bestowed in reward for those deeds of valour. I do not remember that I was told anything about Walcheren, or about New Orleans; about the trade driven by the cutters of gravestones, or the furnishers of funeral urns, broken columns, and extinguished torches; about the sore taxes, and the swollen national debt. So I envied; and much disdained the piping times of peace descended to me; and wondered if the same soldiers I saw or heard about, with scarcely anything more to do than lounge on Brighton Cliff, hunt up surreptitious whisky-stills, expectorate over bridges, and now and then be lapidated at a contested election, could be the descendants of the heroes who had swarmed into the bloody breach at Badajos, and died, shoulder to shoulder, on the plateau of Mont St. Jean.


Came 1848, with its revolutions, barricades, states of siege, movements of vast armies, great battles and victories, with their multiplied hecatombs of slain even; but they did not belong to us; victors and vanquished were aliens; and I went on envying the people who had heard the Tower guns fire, and joybells ring, who had seen the fireworks, and read the Extraordinary Gazettes during the first fifteen years of the century! Was I never to live in the history of England? Then, as you all remember, came the great millennium or peace year ’51. Did not sages deliberate as to whether it would not be better to exclude warlike weapons from the congress of industry in Hyde Park? By the side of Joseph Paxton with his crystal verge there seemed to stand a more angelic figure, waving wide her myrtle wand, and striking universal peace through sea and land. It was to be, we fondly imagined, as the immortal blind man of Cripplegate sang:—

“No war or battle’s sound
Was heard the world around:
The idle spear and shield were high uphung,
The hookèd chariot stood
Unstain’d with hostile blood,
The trumpet spake not to the armèd throng;
And kings sate still with awful eye,
As if they sorely knew their Sovereign Lord was by.”

O blind man! it was but for an instant. The trodden grass had scarcely begun to grow again where nave and transept had been, when the wicked world was all in a blaze; and then the very minstrels of peace began to sharpen swords and heat shot red-hot about the Holy Places; and then the Guards went to Gallipoli, and farther on to Bulgaria, and farther on to Old Fort; and the news of the Alma, Inkermann, Balaklava, the[266] Redan, the Tchernaya, the Mamelon, the Malakhoff came to us, hot and hot, and we were all living in the history of England. And lo! it was very much like the history of any other day in the year—or in the years that had gone before. The movements of the allied forces were discussed at breakfast, over the sipping of coffee, the munching of muffins, and the chipping of eggs. Newspaper-writers, parliament-men, club-orators took official bungling or military mismanagement as their cue for the smart leader of the morrow, the stinging query to Mr. Secretary at the evening sitting, or the bow-window exordium in the afternoon; and then everything went on pretty much as usual. We had plenty of time and interest to spare for the petty police case, the silly scandal, the sniggering joke of the day. The cut of the coat and the roasting of the mutton, the non-adhesiveness of the postage-stamp, or the misdemeanors of the servant-maid, were matters of as relative importance to us as the great and gloomy news of battle and pestilence from beyond sea. At least I lived in actual history, and my envy was cured for ever.

I have often thought that next to Asclepiades, the comic cynic,[1] Buonaparte Smith was the greatest philosopher that ever existed. B. Smith was by some thought to have been the original of Jeremy Diddler. He was an inveterate borrower of small sums. On a certain Wednesday in 1821, un sien-ami accosted him. Says the friend: “Smith, have you heard that Buonaparte is dead?” To which retorts the philosopher: “Buonaparte be ——!” but I disdain to quote his irreverent expletive—“Buonaparte be somethinged. Can you lend me ninepence?” What was the history of Europe or its eventualities to Buonaparte Smith? The immediate possession of three-fourths of a shilling was of far more importance to him than the death of that tremendous exile in his eyrie in the Atlantic Ocean, thousands of miles away. Thus, too, I daresay it was with a certain small philosopher, who lived through a very exciting epoch of the history of England: I mean Little Boy Hogarth. It was his fortune to see the first famous fifteen years of the eighteenth century, when there were victories as immense as Salamanca or Waterloo; when there was a magnificent parallel to Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington, existent, in the person of John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough. I once knew a man who had lived in Paris, and throughout the Reign of Terror, in a second floor of the Rue St. Honoré.[267] “What did you do?” I asked, almost breathlessly, thinking to hear of tumbrils, Carmagnoles, gibbet-lanterns, conventions, poissarde-revolts, and the like. “Eh! parbleu,” he answered, “je m’occupais d’ornithologie.” This philosopher had been quietly birdstuffing while royalty’s head was rolling in the gutter, and Carrier was drowning his hundreds at Nantes. To this young Hogarth of mine, what may Marlborough and his great victories, Anne and her “silver age” of poets, statesmen, and essayists, have been? Would the War of the Succession assist young William in learning his accidence? Would their High Mightinesses of the States-General of the United Provinces supply him with that fourpence he required for purchases of marbles or sweetmeats? What had Marshal Tallard to do with his negotiations with the old woman who kept the apple-stall at the corner of Ship Court? What was the Marquis de Guiscard’s murderous penknife compared with that horn-handled, three-bladed one, which the Hebrew youth in Duke’s Place offered him at the price of twentypence, and which he could not purchase, faute de quoi? At most, the rejoicings consequent on the battles of Blenheim or Ramillies, or Oudenarde or Malplaquet, might have saved William from a whipping promised him for the morrow; yet, even under those circumstances, it is painful to reflect that staying out too late to see the fireworks, or singeing his clothes at some blazing fagot, might have brought upon him on that very morrow a castigation more unmerciful than the one from which he had been prospectively spared.

Every biographer of Hogarth that I have consulted—and I take this opportunity to return my warmest thanks to the courteous book distributor at the British Museum who, so soon as he sees me enter the Reading Room, proceeds, knowing my errand, to overwhelm me with folios, and heap up barricades of eighteenth century lore round me—every one of the biographers, Nichols, Steevens, Ireland, Trusler, Phillips, Cunningham, the author of the article “Thornhill,” in the Biographia Britannica—the rest are mainly copyists from one another, often handing down blunders and perpetuating errors—every Hogarthian Dryasdust makes a clean leap from the hero’s birth and little schoolboy noviciate to the period of his apprenticeship to Ellis Gamble the silversmith. Refined Mr. Walpole, otherwise very appreciative of Hogarth, flirting over the papers he got from Vertue’s widow, indites some delicate manuscript for the typographers of his private press at Strawberry Hill, and tells us that the artist, whom he condescends to introduce into his Anecdotes of Painting, was bound apprentice to a “mean engraver of arms upon plate.” I see nothing mean in the calling which Benvenuto Cellini (they say), and Marc Antonio Raimondi (it is certain), perhaps Albert Durer, too, followed for a time. I have heard of great artists who did not disdain to paint dinner plates, soup tureens, and apothecary’s jars. Not quite unknown to the world is one Rafaelle Sanzio d’Urbino, who designed tapestry for the Flemish weavers, or a certain Flaxman, who was of great service to Mr. Wedgwood, when he[268] began to think that platters and pipkins might be brought to serve some very noble uses. Horace Walpole, cleverest and most refined of dilettanti—who could, and did say the coarsest of things in the most elegant of language—you were not fit to be an Englishman. Fribble, your place was in France. Putative son of Orford, there seems sad ground for the scandal that some of Lord Fanny’s blood flowed in your veins; and that Carr, Lord Hervey, was your real papa. You might have made a collection of the great King Louis’s shoes, the heels and soles of which were painted by Vandermeulen with pictures of Rhenish and Palatinate victories. Mignon of arts and letters, you should have had a petite maison at Monçeaux or at the Roule. Surrounded by your abbés au petit collet, teacups of pâte tendre, fans of chicken-skin painted by Leleux or Lantara, jewelled snuff-boxes, handsome chocolate girls, gems and intaglios, the brothers to those in the Museo Borbonico at Naples, che non si mostrano alle donne, you might have been happy. You were good enough to admire Hogarth, but you didn’t quite understand him. He was too vigorous, downright, virile for you; and upon my word, Horace Walpole, I don’t think you understood anything belonging to England—nor her customs, nor her character, nor her constitution, nor her laws. I don’t think that you would have been anywhere more in your element than in France, to make epigrams and orange-flower water, and to have your head cut off in that unsparing harvest of ’93, with many more noble heads of corn as clever and as worthless for any purpose of human beneficence as yours, Horace.

For you see, this poor Old Bailey schoolmaster’s son—this scion of a line of north-country peasants and swineherds, had in him pre-eminently that which scholiast Warton called the “ἩΘΟΣ,” the strong sledgehammer force of Morality, not given to Walpole—not given to you, fribbles of the present as of the past—to understand. He was scarcely aware of the possession of this quality himself, Hogarth; and when Warton talked pompously of the Ethos in his works, the painter went about with a blank, bewildered face, asking his friends what the doctor meant, and half-inclined to be angry lest the learned scholiast should be quizzing him. It is in the probabilities, however, that William had some little Latin. The dominie in Ship Court did manage to drum some of his grammar disputations into him, and to the end of his life William Hogarth preserved a seemly reverence for classical learning. Often has his etching-needle scratched out some old Roman motto or wise saw upon the gleaming copper. A man need not flout and sneer at the classics because he knows them not. He need not declare Parnassus to be a molehill, because he has lost his alpenstock and cannot pay guides to assist him in that tremendous ascent. There is no necessity to gird at Pyrrha, and declare her to be a worthless jade, because she has never braided her golden hair for you. Of Greek I imagine W. H. to have been destitute; unless, with that ingenious special pleading, which has been made use of to prove that Shakspeare was a lawyer, apothecary, Scotchman, conjuror, poacher, scrivener, courtier—what[269] you please—we assume that Hogarth was a Hellenist because he once sent, as a dinner invite to a friend, a card on which he had sketched a knife, fork, and pasty, and these words, “Come and Eta Beta Pi.” No wonder the ἩΘΟΣ puzzled him. He was not deeply learned in anything save human nature, and of this knowledge even he may have been half unconscious, thinking himself to be more historical painter than philosopher. He never was a connoisseur. He was shamefully disrespectful to the darkened daubs which the picture-quacks palmed on the curious of the period as genuine works of the old masters. He painted “Time smoking a picture,” and did not think much of the collection of Sir Luke Schaub. His knowledge of books was defective; although another scholiast (not Warton) proved, in a most learned pamphlet, that he had illustrated, sans le savoir, above five hundred passages in Horace, Virgil, Juvenal, and Ovid. He had read Swift. He had illustrated and evidently understood Hudibras. He was afraid of Pope, and only made a timid, bird-like, solitary dash at him in one of his earliest charges; and, curiously, Alexander the Great of Twickenham seemed to be afraid of Hogarth, and shook not the slightest drop of his gall vial over him. What a quarrel it might have been between the acrimonious little scorpion of “Twitnam,” and the sturdy bluebottle of Leicester Fields! Imagine Pope versus Hogarth, pencil against pen; not when the painter was old and feeble, half but not quite doting indeed, as when he warred with Wilkes and Churchill, but in the strength and pride of his swingeing satire. Perhaps William and Alexander respected one another; but I think there must have been some tacit “hit me and I’ll hit you” kind of rivalry between them, as between two cocks of two different schools who meet now and then on the public promenades—meet with a significant half-smile and a clenching of the fist under the cuff of the jacket.

To the end of his life Hogarth could not spell; at least, his was not the orthography expected from educated persons in a polite age. In almost the last plate he engraved, the famous portrait of Churchill as a Bear, the “lies,” with which the knots of Bruin’s club are inscribed, are all “lyes.” This may be passed over, considering how very lax and vague were our orthographical canons not more than a century ago, and how many ministers, divines, poets—nay, princes, and crowned heads, and nabobs—permitted themselves greater liberties than “lye” for “lie” in the Georgian era. At this I have elsewhere hinted, and I think the biographers of Hogarth are somewhat harsh in accusing him of crass ignorance, when he only wrote as My Lord Keeper, or as Lady Betty, or as his grace the Archbishop was wont to write. Hogarth, too, was an author. He published a book—to say nothing of the manuscript notes of his life he left. The whole structure, soul, and strength of the Analysis of Beauty are undoubtedly his; although he very probably profited by the assistance—grammatical as well as critical—of some of the clerical dignitaries who loved the good man. That he did so has been positively asserted; but it[270] is forestalling matters to trot out an old man’s hobby, when our beardless lad is not bound ’prentice yet. I cannot, however, defend him from the charges of writing “militia,” “milicia,” “Prussia,” “Prusia”—why didn’t he hazard “Prooshia” at once?[2]—“knuckles,” “nuckles”—oh, fie!—“Chalcedonians,” “Calcidonians;” “pity,” “pitty;” and “volumes,” “volumns.” It is somewhat strange that Hogarth himself tells us that his first graphic exercise was to “draw the alphabet with great correctness.” I am afraid that he never succeeded in writing it very correctly. He hated the French too sincerely to care to learn their language; and it is not surprising that in the first shop card he engraved for his master there should be in the French translation of Mr. Gamble’s style and titles a trifling pleonasm: “bijouxs,” instead of “bijoux.”

No date of the apprenticeship of Hogarth is anywhere given. We must fix it by internal evidence. He was out of his time in the South Sea Bubble year, 1720. On the 29th of April[3] in the same year, he started in business for himself. The neatness and dexterity of the shop card he executed for his master forbid us to assume that he was aught but the most industrious of apprentices. The freedom of handling, the bold sweep of line, the honest incisive play of the graver manifested in this performance could have been attained by no Thomas Idle; and we must, therefore, in justice grant him his full seven years of ’prentice servitude. Say then that William Hogarth was bound apprentice to Mr. Ellis Gamble,[4] at the Golden Angel, in Cranbourn Street, Leicester Fields, in the winter of the year of our Lord, Seventeen hundred and twelve. He began to engrave arms and cyphers on tankards, salvers, and spoons, at just about the time that it occurred to a sapient legislature to cause certain heraldic hieroglyphics surmounted by the Queen’s crown, and encircled by the words “One halfpenny,” to be engraven on a metal die, the which being the first newspaper stamp ever known to our grateful British nation, was forthwith impressed on every single half-sheet of printed matter issued as a newspaper or a periodical. “Have you seen the new red stamp?” writes his reverence Doctor[271] Swift. Grub Street is forthwith laid desolate. Down go Observators, Examiners, Medleys, Flying Posts, and other diurnals, and the undertakers of the Spectator are compelled to raise the price of their entertaining miscellany.

One of the last head Assay Masters at Goldsmith Hall told one of Hogarth’s biographers, when a very—very old man, that he himself had been ’prentice in Cranbourn Street, and that he remembered very well William serving his time to Mr. Gamble. The register of the boy’s indenture should also surely be among the archives of that sumptuous structure behind the Post Office, where the worthy goldsmiths have such a sideboard of massy plate, and give such jovial banquets to ministers and city magnates. And, doubt it not, Ellis Gamble was a freeman, albeit, ultimately, a dweller at the West-end, and dined with his Company when the goldsmiths entertained the ministers and magnates of those days. Yes, gentles; ministers, magnates, kings, czars, and princes were their guests, and King Charles the Second did not disdain to get tipsy with Sir Robert Viner, Lord Mayor and Alderman, at Guildhall. The monarch’s boon companion got so fond of him as to lend him, dit-on, enormous sums of money. More than that, he set up a brazen statue of the royal toper in the Stocks flower-market at the meeting of Lombard Street and the Poultry. Although it must be confessed that the effigy had originally been cast for John Sobieski trampling on the Turk. The Polish hero had a Carlovingian periwig given to him, and the prostrate and miscreant Moslem was “improved” into Oliver Cromwell. [Mem.:—A pair of correctional stocks having given their name to the flower-market; on the other hand, may not the market have given its name to the pretty, pale, red flowers, very dear to Cockneys, and called “stocks?”]

How was William’s premium paid when he was bound ’prentice? Be it remembered that silver-plate engraving, albeit Mr. Walpole of Strawberry Hill calls it “mean,” was a great and cunning art and mystery. These engravers claimed to descend in right line from the old ciseleurs and workers in niello of the middle ages. Benvenuto, as I have hinted, graved as well as modelled. Marc Antonio flourished many a cardinal’s hat and tassels on a bicchiére before he began to cut from Rafaelle and Giulio Romano’s pictures. The engraver of arms on plate was the same artist who executed delightful arabesques and damascenings on suits of armour of silver and Milan steel. They had cabalistic secrets, these workers of the precious, these producers of the beautiful. With the smiths, “back-hammering” and “boss-beating” were secrets;—parcel-gilding an especial mystery; the bluish-black composition for niello a recipe only to be imparted to adepts. With the engravers, the “cross-hatch” and the “double cypher,” as I cursorily mentioned at the end of the last chapter, were secrets. A certain kind of cross-hatching went out with Albert Durer, and had since been as undiscoverable as the art of making the real ruby tint in glass. No beggar’s brat, no parish protégé, could be apprenticed to this delicate, artistic, and responsible calling. For in graving deep,[272] tiny spirals of gold and silver curl away from the trenchant tool, and there is precious ullage in chasing and burnishing—spirals and ullage worth money in the market. Ask the Jews in Duke’s Place, who sweat the guineas in horsehair bags, and clip the Jacobuses, and rasp the new-milled money with tiny files, if there be not profit to be had from the minutest surplusage of gold and silver.

Goldsmiths and silversmiths were proud folk. They pointed to George Heriot, King James’s friend, and the great things he did. They pointed to the peerage. Did not a Duke of Beaufort, in 1683, marry a daughter of Sir Josiah Child, goldsmith and banker? Was not Earl Tylney, his son, half-brother to Dame Elizabeth Howland, mother of a Duchess of Bedford, one of whose daughters married the Duke of Bridgewater, another, the Earl of Essex? Was not Sir William Ward, goldsmith, father to Humble Ward, created Baron Ward by Charles I.? and from him springs there not the present Lord Dudley and Ward?[5] O you grand people who came over with the Conqueror, where would you be now without your snug city marriages, your comfortable alliances with Cornhill and Chepe? Leigh of Stoneleigh comes from a lord mayor of Queen Bess’s time. Fulke Greville, Lord Brooke, married an alderman’s daughter two years ere Hogarth was apprenticed. The ancestor to the Lords Clifton was agent to the London Adventurers in Oliver’s time, and acquired his estate in their service. George the Second’s Earl of Rockingham married the daughter of Sir Henry Furnese, the money-lender and stock-jobber. The great Duke of Argyll and Greenwich married a lord mayor’s niece. The Earl of Denbigh’s ancestor married the daughter of Basil Firebrace, the wine merchant. Brewers, money-scriveners, Turkey merchants, Burgomasters of Utrecht’s daughters,—all these married blithely into the haute pairie. If I am wrong in my genealogies, ’tis Daniel Defoe who is to blame, not I; for that immortal drudge of literature is my informant. Of course such marriages never take place now. Alliances between the sacs et parchemins are never heard of. Mayfair never meets the Mansion House, nor Botolph Lane Belgravia, save at a Ninth of November banquet. I question if I am not inopportune, and impertinent even, in hinting at the dukes and belted earls who married the rich citizens’ daughters, were it not that by and by ’prentice Hogarth will paint some scenes from a great life drama full of Warton’s ἩΘΟΣ, called Marriage à la Mode. Ah! those two perspectives seen through the open windows! In the first, the courtyard of the proud noble’s mansion; in the last, busy, mercantile London Bridge: court and city, city and court, and which the saddest picture!

Dominie Hogarth had but a hard time of it, and must have been pinched in a gruesome manner to make both ends meet. That dictionary of his, painfully compiled, and at last with infinite care and labour completed, brought no grist to the mill in Ship Court. The manuscript[273] was placed in the hands of a bookseller, who did what booksellers often do when one places manuscripts in their hands. He let it drop. “The booksellers,” writes Hogarth himself, “used my father with great cruelty.” In his loving simplicity he tells us that many of the most eminent and learned persons in England, Ireland, and Scotland, wrote encomiastic notices of the erudition and diligence displayed in the work, but all to no purpose. I suppose the bookseller’s final answer was similar to that Hogarth has scribbled in the Manager Rich’s reply to Tom Rakewell, in the prison scene:—“Sir, I have read your play, and it will not doo.” A dreadful, heartrending trade was average authorship, even in the “silver age” of Anna Augusta. A lottery, if you will: the prizeholders secretaries of state, ambassadors, hangers-on to dukes and duchesses, gentlemen ushers to baby princesses, commissioners of hackney coaches or plantations; but innumerable possessors of blanks. Walla Billa! they were in evil case. For them the garret in Grub or Monmouth Street, or in Moorfields; for them the Welshwoman dunning for the milkscore; for them the dirty bread flung disdainfully by bookselling wretches like Curll. For them the shrewish landlady, the broker’s man, the catchpole, the dedication addressed to my lord, and which seldom got beyond his lacquey;—hold! let me mind my Hogarth and his silver-plate engraving. Only a little may I touch on literary woes when I come to the picture of the Distressed Poet. For the rest, the calamities of authors have been food for the commentaries of the wisest and most eloquent of their more modern brethren, and my bald philosophizings thereupon can well be spared.

But this premium, this indenture money, this ’prentice fee for young William: unde derivatur? In the beginning, as you should know, this same ’prentice fee was but a sort of “sweetener,” peace-offering, or pot de vin to the tradesman’s wife. The ’prentice’s mother slipped a few pieces into madam’s hand when the boy put his finger on the blue seal. The money was given that mistresses should be kind to the little lads; that they should see that the trenchers they scraped were not quite bare, nor the blackjacks they licked quite empty; that they should give an eye to the due combing and soaping of those young heads, and now and then extend a matronly ægis, lest Tommy or Billy should have somewhat more cuffing and cudgelling than was quite good for them. By degree this gift money grew to be demanded as a right; and by-and-by comes thrifty Master Tradesman, and pops the broad pieces into his till, calling them premium. Poor little shopkeepers in this “silver age” will take a ’prentice from the parish for five pounds, or from an acquaintance that is broken, for nothing perhaps, and will teach him the great arts and mysteries of sweeping out the shop, sleeping under the counter, fetching his master from the tavern or the mughouse when a customer comes in, or waiting at table; but a rich silversmith or mercer will have as much as a thousand pounds with an apprentice. There is value received on either side. The master is, and generally feels, bound to teach his apprentice everything he knows, else, as worthy Master Defoe puts it, it is “somewhat like Laban’s[274] usage to Jacob, viz. keeping back the beloved Rachel, whom he served seven years for, and putting him off with a blear-eyed Leah in her stead;” and again, it is “sending him into the world like a man out of a ship set ashore among savages, who, instead of feeding him, are indeed more ready to eat him up and devour him.” You have little idea of the state, pomp, and circumstance of a rich tradesman, when the eighteenth century was young. Now-a-days, when he becomes affluent, he sells his stock and good-will, emigrates from the shop-world, takes a palace in Tyburnia or a villa at Florence, and denies that he has ever been in trade at all. Retired tailors become country squires, living at “Places” and “Priories.” Enriched ironmongers and their families saunter about Pau, and Hombourg, and Nice, passing for British Brahmins, from whose foreheads the yellow streak has never been absent since the earth first stood on the elephant, and the elephant on the tortoise, and the tortoise on nothing that I am aware of, save the primeval mud from which you and I, and the Great Mogul, and the legless beggar trundling himself along in a gocart, and all humanity, sprang. But then, Anna D. G., it was different. The tradesman was nothing away from his shop. In it he was a hundred times more ostentatious. He may have had his country box at Hampstead, Highgate, Edmonton, Edgeware; but his home was in the city. Behind the hovel stuffed with rich merchandise, sheltered by a huge timber bulk, and heralded to passers by an enormous sheet of iron and painters’ work—his Sign—he built often a stately mansion, with painted ceilings, with carved wainscoting or rich tapestry and gilt leather-work, with cupboards full of rich plate, with wide staircases, and furniture of velvet and brocade. To the entrance of the noisome cul-de-sac, leading to the carved and panelled door (with its tall flight of steps) of the rich tradesman’s mansion, came his coach—yes, madam, his coach, with the Flanders mares, to take his wife and daughters for an airing. In that same mansion, behind the hovel of merchandise, uncompromising Daniel Defoe accuses the tradesman of keeping servants in blue liveries richly laced, like unto the nobility’s. In that same mansion the tradesman holds his Christmas and Shrovetide feasts, the anniversaries of his birthday and his wedding-day, all with much merrymaking and junketing, and an enormous amount of eating and drinking. In that same mansion, in the fulness of time and trade, he dies; and in that same mansion, upon my word, he lies in state,—yes, in state: on a lit de parade, under a plumed tester, with flambeaux and sconces, with blacks and weepers, with the walls hung with sable cloth, et cætera, et cætera, et cætera.[6] ’Tis not only “Vulture Hopkins” whom a “thousand lights[275] attend” to the tomb, but very many wealthy tradesmen are so buried, and with such pomp and ceremony. Not till the mid-reign of George the Third did this custom expire.

[I should properly in a footnote, but prefer in brackets, to qualify the expression “hovel,” as applied to London tradesmen’s shops at this time, 1712-20. The majority, indeed, merit no better appellation: the windows oft-times are not glazed, albeit the sign may be an elaborate and even artistic performance, framed in curious scroll-work, and costing not unfrequently a hundred pounds. The exceptions to the structural poverty of the shops themselves are to be found in the toymen’s—mostly in Fleet Street,—and the pastrycooks’—mainly in Leadenhall. There is a mania for toys; and the toyshop people realize fortunes. Horace Walpole bought his toy-villa at Strawberry Hill—which he afterwards improved into a Gothic doll’s-house—of a retired Marchand de Joujoux. The toy-merchants dealt in other wares besides playthings. They dealt in cogged dice. They dealt in assignations and billet-doux. They dealt in masks and dominos. Counsellor Silvertongue may have called at the toyshop coming from the Temple, and have there learnt what hour the countess would be at Heidegger’s masquerade. Woe to the wicked city! Thank Heaven we can go and purchase Noah’s arks and flexible acrobats for our children now, without rubbing shoulders with Counsellor Silvertongue or Lord Fanny Sporus, on their bad errands. Frequented as they were by rank and fashion, the toyshops threw themselves into outward decoration. Many of these shops were kept by Frenchmen and Frenchwomen, and it has ever been the custom of that fantastic nation to gild the outside of pills, be the inside ever so nauseous. Next in splendour to the toyshops were the pastrycooks. Such a bill as can be seen of the charges for fresh furnishing one of these establishments about Twelfth Night time! “Sash windows, all of looking-glass plates; the walls of the shop lined up with galley-tiles in panels, finely painted in forest-work and figures; two large branches of candlesticks; three great glass lanterns; twenty-five sconces against the wall; fine large silver salvers to serve sweetmeats; large high stands of rings for jellies; painting the ceiling, and gilding the lanterns, the sashes, and the carved work!” Think of this, Master Brook! What be your Cafés des Mille Colonnes, your Véfours, your Vérys, your Maisons-dorées, after this magnificence? And at what sum, think you, does the stern censor, crying out against it meanwhile as wicked luxury and extravagance, estimate this Arabian Nights’ pastrycookery? At three hundred pounds sterling! Grant that the sum represents six hundred of our money. The Lorenzos the Magnificent, of Cornhill and Regent Street, would think little of as many thousands for the building and ornamentation[276] of their palaces of trade. Not for selling tarts or toys though. The tide has taken a turn; yet some comfortable reminiscences of the old celebrity of the city toy and tart shops linger between Temple Bar and Leadenhall. Farley, you yet delight the young. Holt, Birch, Button, Purssell, at your sober warehouses the most urbane and beautiful young ladies—how pale the pasty exhalations make them!—yet dispense the most delightful of indigestions.]

So he must have scraped this apprenticeship money together, Dominie Hogarth: laid it by, by cheeseparing from his meagre school fees, borrowed it from some rich scholar who pitied his learning and his poverty, or perhaps become acquainted with Ellis Gamble, who may have frequented the club held at the “Eagle and Child,” in the little Old Bailey. “A wonderful turn for limning has my son,” I think I hear Dominie Hogarth cry, holding up some precocious cartoon of William’s. “I doubt not, sir, that were he to study the humanities of the Italian bustos, and the just rules of Jesuit’s perspective, and the anatomies of the learned Albinus, that he would paint as well as Signor Verrio, who hath lately done that noble piece in the new hall Sir Christopher hath built for the blue-coat children in Newgate Street.” “Plague on the Jesuits,” answers honest (and supposititious) Mr. Ellis Gamble. “Plague on all foreigners and papists, goodman Hogarth. If you will have your lad draw bustos and paint ceilings, forsooth, you must get one of the great court lords to be his patron, and send him to Italy, where he shall learn not only the cunningness of limning, but to dance, and to dice, and to break all the commandments, and to play on the viol-di-gamby. But if you want to make an honest man and a fair tradesman of him, Master Hogarth, and one who will be a loyal subject to the Queen, and hate the French, you shall e’en bind him ’prentice to me; and I will be answerable for all his concernments, and send him to church and catechize, and all at small charges to you.” Might not such a conversation have taken place? I think so. Is it not very probable that the lad Hogarth being then some fourteen years old, was forthwith combed his straightest, and brushed his neatest, and his bundle or his box of needments being made up by the hands of his loving mother and sisters, despatched westward, and with all due solemnity of parchment and blue seal, bound ’prentice to Mr. Ellis Gamble? I am sure, by the way in which he talks of the poor old Dominie and the dictionary, that he was a loving son. I know he was a tender brother. Good Ellis Gamble—the lad being industrious, quick, and dexterous of hand—must have allowed him to earn some journeyman’s wages during his ’prentice-time; for that probation being out, he set not only himself, but his two sisters, Mary and Ann, up in business. They were in some small hosiery line, and William engraved a shop-card for them, which did not, I am afraid, prosper with these unsubstantial spinsters any more than did the celebrated lollipop emporium established in The House with the Seven Gables. One sister survived him, and to her, by his will, he left an annuity of eighty pounds.


Already have I spoken of the Leicester Square gold and silver smith’s style and titles. It is meet that you should peruse them in full:—

So to Cranbourn Street, Leicester Fields, is William Hogarth bound for seven long years. Very curious is it to mark how old trades and old types of inhabitants linger about localities. They were obliged to pull old Cranbourn Street and Cranbourn Alley quite down before they could get rid of the silversmiths, and even now I see them sprouting forth again round about the familiar haunt; the latest ensample thereof being in the shop of a pawnbroker—of immense wealth, I presume, who, gorged and fevered by multitudes of unredeemed pledges, has suddenly astonished New Cranbourn Street with plate-glass windows, overflowing with plate, jewellery, and trinkets; buhl cabinets, gilt consoles, suits of armour, antique china, Pompadour clocks, bronze monsters, and other articles of virtù. But don’t you remember Hamlet’s in the dear old Dædalean, bonnet-building Cranbourn Alley days?—that long low shop whose windows seemed to have no end, and not to have been dusted for centuries; those dim vistas of dish-covers, coffee biggins and centre-pieces. You must think of Crœsus when you speak of the reputed wealth of Hamlet. His stock was said to be worth millions. Seven watchmen kept guard over it every night. Half the aristocracy were in his debt. Royalty itself had gone credit for plate and jewellery at Hamlet’s. Rest his bones, poor old gentleman, if he be departed. He took to building and came to grief. His shop is no more, and his name is but a noise.


In our time, Cranbourn Street and Cranbourn Alley were dingy labyrinths of dish-covers, bonnets, boots, coffee-shops, and cutlers; but what must the place have been like in Hogarth’s time? We can have no realizable conception; for late in George the Third’s reign, or early in George the Fourth’s, the whole pâté of lanes and courts between Leicester Square and St. Martin’s Lane had become so shamefully rotten and decayed, that they half tumbled, and were half pulled down. The labyrinth was rebuilt; but, to the shame of the surveyors and architects of the noble landlord, on the same labyrinthine principle of mean and shabby tenements. You see, rents are rents, little fishes eat sweet, and many a little makes a mickle. Since that period, however, better ideas of architectural economy have prevailed; and, although part of the labyrinth remains, there has still been erected a really handsome thoroughfare from Leicester Square to Long Acre. As a sad and natural consequence, the shops don’t let, while the little tenements in the alleys that remain are crowded; but let us hope that the example of the feverish pawnbroker who has burst out in an eruption of jewellery and art fabrics, may be speedily followed by other professors of bricabrac.

Gay’s Trivia, in miniature, must have been manifest every hour in the day in Hogarth’s Cranbourn Alley. Fights for the wall must have taken place between fops. Sweeps and small coalmen must have interfered with the “nice conduct of a clouded cane.” The beggars must have swarmed here: the blind beggar, and the lame beggar, the stump-in-the-bowl, and the woman bent double: the beggar who blew a trumpet—the impudent varlet!—to announce his destitution;—the beggar with a beard like unto Belisarius, the beggar who couldn’t eat cold meat, the beggar who had been to Ireland and the Seven United Provinces—was this “Philip in the tub” that W. H. afterwards drew?—the beggar in the blue apron, the leathern cap, and the wen on his forehead, who was supposed to be so like the late Monsieur de St. Evremonde, Governor of Duck Island; not forgetting the beggar in the ragged red coat and the black patch over his eye, who by his own showing had been one of the army that swore so terribly in Flanders, and howled Tom D’Urfey’s song, “The Queene’s old souldiers, and the ould souldiers of the Queene.” Then there was the day watchman, who cried the hour when nobody wanted to hear it, and to whose “half-past one,” the muddy goose that waddled after him, cried “quack.” And then there must have been the silent mendicant, of whom Mr. Spectator says (1712), “He has nothing to sell, but very gravely receives the bounty of the people for no other merit than the homage due to his manner of signifying to them that he wants a subsidy.”[7] Said I not truly that the old types will linger in the old localities?[279] What is this silent mendicant but the “serious poor young man” we have all seen standing mute on the edge of the kerb, his head downcast, his hands meekly folded before him, himself attired in speckless but shabby black, and a spotless though frayed white neckerchief?

Mixed up among the beggars, among the costermongers and hucksters who lounge or brawl on the pavement, undeterred by fear of barrow-impounding policemen; among the varlets who have “young lambs to sell”—they have sold those sweet cakes since Elizabeth’s time;—among the descendants and progenitors of hundreds of “Tiddy Dolls,” and “Colly Molly Puffs;” among bailiffs prowling for their prey, and ruffian cheats and gamesters from the back-waters of Covent Garden; among the fellows with hares-and-tabors, the matchsellers, the masksellers—for in this inconceivable period ladies and gentlemen wanted vizors at twelve o’clock at noon—be it admitted, nevertheless, that the real “quality” ceased to wear them about the end of William’s reign—among the tradesmen, wigs awry, and apron-girt, darting out from their shops to swallow their matutinal pint of wine, or dram of strong waters; among all this tohu-bohu, this Galimatias of small industries and small vices, chairmen come swaggering and jolting along with the gilded sedans between poles; and lo! the periwigged, Mechlin-laced, gold-embroidered beau hands out Belinda, radiant, charming, powdered, patched, fanned, perfumed, who is come to Cranbourn Alley to choose new diamonds. And more beaux’ shins are wounded by more whalebone petticoats, and Sir Fopling Flutter treads on Aramanta’s brocaded queue; and the heavens above are almost shut out by the great projecting, clattering signs. Conspicuous among them is the “Golden Angel,” kept by Ellis Gamble.

Mark, too, that Leicester Fields were then as now the favourite resort of foreigners. Green Street, Bear Street, Castle Street, Panton Street, formed a district called, as was a purlieu in Westminster too, by the Sanctuary, “Petty France.” Theodore Gardelle, the murderer, lived about Leicester Fields. Legions of high-dried Mounseers, not so criminal as he, but peaceable, honest, industrious folk enough, peered out of the garret windows of Petty France with their blue, bristly gills, red nightcaps, and filthy indoor gear. They were always cooking hideous messes, and[280] made the already unwholesome atmosphere intolerable with garlic. They wrought at water-gilding, clock-making, sign-painting, engraving for book illustrations—although in this department the Germans and Dutch were dangerous rivals. A very few offshoots from the great Huguenot colony in Spitalfields were silk-weavers. There were then as now many savoury, tasting and unsavoury-smelling French ordinaries; and again, then as now, some French washerwomen and clearstarchers. But the dwellers in Leicester Fields slums and in Soho were mainly Catholics frequenting the Sardinian ambassador’s chapel in Duke Street, Lincoln’s Inn Fields. French hairdressers and perfumers lived mostly under Covent Garden Piazza, in Bow Street and in Long Acre. Very few contrived to pass Temple Bar. The citizens appeared to have as great a horror of them as of the players, and so far as they could, by law, banished them their bounds, rigorously. French dancing, fencing, and posture masters, and quack doctors, lived at the court end of the town, and kept, many of them, their coaches. Not a few of the grinning, fantastic French community were spies of the magnificent King Louis. Sunday was the Frenchmen’s great day, and the Mall in St. James’s park their favourite resort and fashionable promenade. It answered for them all the purposes which the old colonnade of the Quadrant was wont to serve, and which the flags of Regent Street serve now. On Sunday the blue, bristly gills were clean shaven, the red nightcaps replaced by full-bottomed wigs, superlatively curled and powdered. The filthy indoor gear gave way to embroidered coats of gay colours, with prodigious cuffs, and the skirts stiffened with buckram. Lacquer-hilted swords stuck out behind them. Paste buckles glittered in their shoon. Glass rings bedecked their lean paws. They held their tricornes beneath their arms, flourished their canes and inhaled their snuff with the best beaux on town. We are apt to laugh at the popular old caricatures of the French Mounseer, and think those engravings unkind, unnatural, and overdrawn; but just shave me this bearded, moustached, braided and be-ringed Jules, Gustave, or Adolphe who comes swaggering to-day from the back of Sherrard Street or Marylebone Street, round by the County Fire Office into Regent Street; shave me the modern Mounseer quite clean, clap a periwig on his head, a chapeau bras beneath his arm, a sword by his side; clothe his shrunken limbs in eighteenth century costume; or better, see the French comedian in some old comedy at the Français or the Odéon, and you will cry out at once: “There is the Mounseer whom Hogarth, Gilray, Bunbury, and Rowlandson drew.” And yet I owe an apology, here, to the Mounseers; for it was very likely some courteous, albeit grimacing denizen of Petty France who supplied our Hogarth with the necessary French translation of the gold and silver smith’s style and titles to engrave on his shop-card.

I am to be pardoned, I hope, for lingering long in Leicester Fields. I shall have to return to the place often, for William Hogarth much affected it. In Leicester Fields he lived years afterwards when he was celebrated and prosperous. Where Pagliano’s Hotel is now, had he his house, the[281] sign, the “Golden Head,” and not the “Painter’s Head,” as I have elsewhere put it. There he died. There his widow lived for many—many years afterwards, always loving and lamenting the great artist and good man, her husband. It was about Leicester Fields too—nay, unless I mistake, in Cranbourn Alley itself, that old nutcracker-faced Nollekens the sculptor pointed out William to Northcote the painter. “There,” he cried, “see, there’s Hogarth.” He pointed to where stood a little stout-faced sturdy man in a sky-blue coat, who was attentively watching a quarrel between two street boys. It was Mr. Mulready’s “Wolf and the Lamb” story a little before its time. The bigger boy oppressed the smaller; whereupon Hogarth patted the diminutive victim on the head, and gave him a coin, and said with something like a naughty word that he wouldn’t stand it, if he was the small boy: no, not he.

Seven years at cross-hatch and double cypher. Seven years turning and re-turning salvers and tankards on the leathern pad, and every month and every year wielding the graver and burnisher with greater strength and dexterity. What legions of alphabets, in double cypher, he must have “drawn with great correctness;” what dictionary loads of Latin and Norman-French mottoes he must have flourished beneath the coats of arms! Oh, the scutcheons he must have blazoned in the symbolism of lines! Blank for argent, dots for or, horizontal for azure, vertical for gules, close-chequer for sable. The griffins, the lions, the dragons, rampant, couchant, regardant, langued, gorged, he must have drawn! The chevrons, the fesses, the sinoples of the first! He himself confesses that his just notions of natural history were for a time vitiated by the constant contemplation and delineation of these fabulous monsters, and that when he was out of his time he was compelled to unlearn all his heraldic zoology. To the end his dogs were very much in the “supporter” style, and the horses in the illustrations in Hudibras strongly resemble hippogriffs.

He must have been studying, and studying hard, too, at drawing, from the round and plane during his ’prentice years. Sir Godfrey Kneller had a kind of academy at his own house in 1711; but Sir James Thornhill did not establish his till long after Hogarth had left the service of Ellis Gamble. Hogarth tells us that as a boy he had access to the studio of a neighbouring painter. Who may this have been? Francis Hoffmann; Hubertz; Hulzberg, the warden of the Lutheran Church in the Savoy; Samuel Moore of the Custom House? Perhaps his earliest instructor was some High Dutch etcher of illustrations living eastwards to be near the booksellers in Paternoster Row; or perhaps the “neighbouring painter” was an artist in tavern and shop signs. Men of no mean proficiency wrought in that humble but lucrative line of emblematic art in Anna’s “silver age.”

That Hogarth possessed considerable graphic powers when he engraved Ellis Gamble’s shop-card, you have only to glance at the angel holding the palm above the commercial announcement, to be at once convinced. This figure, however admirably posed and draped, may have been copied[282] from some foreign frontispiece. The engraving, however, as an example of pure line, is excellent. We are left to wonder whether it was by accident or by design of quaint conceit that the right hand of the angel has a finger too many.

Of Hogarth’s adventures during his apprenticeship, with the single exception of his holiday excursion to Highgate, when there was a battle-royal in a suburban public-house, and when he drew a capital portrait of one of the enraged combatants, the Muse is dumb. He led, very probably, the life of nineteen-twentieths of the London ’prentices of that period: only he must have worked harder and more zealously than the majority of his fellows. Concerning the next epoch of his life the Muse deigns to be far more explicit, and, I trust, will prove more eloquent on your worships’ behalf. I have done with the mists and fogs that envelop the early part of my hero’s career, and shall be able to trace it now year by year until his death.


[1] According to Tertullian, Asclepiades, the comic cynic, advocated riding on cow-back as the most healthful, and especially the most independent means of locomotion in the world; for, said he, she goes so slowly that she can never get tired. Wherever there is a field, there is her banquet; and you may live on her milk all the way. But I think that the most economical and the merriest traveller on record was the Giant Hurtali (though the Rabbins will have that it was Og, King of Basan), who sat astride the roof of Noah’s ark à la cockhorse, steering that great galleon with his gigantic legs, getting his washing for nothing, and having his victuals handed up to him through the chimney.—See Menage and Le Pelletier; l’Arche de Noé, c. 25.

[2] This “Prusia” occurred in the dedication of the “March to Finchley” to Frederick the Great. His friends quizzed him a good deal about the error, and he undertook to correct it by hand in every proof of the plate sold. But he soon grew tired of making the mark ~ with a pen over the single s, and at last had the offensive “Prusia” burnished out of the copper, and the orthodox “Prussia” substituted. But even then the quizzers were not tired, and showed him a Prussian thaler bearing Frederick’s effigy, and the legend of which spoke of him as Borussiæ Rex. ’Twas the story of the old man and his donkey over again.

[3] Till the legislature deprives the people of their “eleven days,” I am using the old-style calendar.

[4] I have seen it somewhere stated that Gamble was a “silversmith of eminence,” residing on or near Snow Hill. “Cela n’empêche pas,” as the Hanoverian Queen on her death-bed said to her repentant husband. I see no reason why Gamble should not have been originally of Snow Hill, and have emigrated before 1720 to the Court end of the town.

[5] “The Complete English Tradesman,” i. 234.

[6] “Let it be interred after the manner of the country, and the laws of the place, and the dignity of the person. And Ælian tells us that excellent persons were buried in purple, and men of an ordinary fortune had their graves only trimmed with branches of olive and mourning flowers.” So Bishop Taylor in Holy Dying. The tide of feeling in this age of ours sets strongly against mortuary pomp; yet should we remember that with the old pomps and obsequies of our forefathers much real charity was mingled. All the money was not spent in wax-tapers and grim feastings. At the death of a wealthy citizen, hundreds of poor men and women had complete suits of mourning given to them, and the fragments of the “funeral baked meats” furnished forth scores of pauper tables before evensong. Lazarus had his portion when Dives passed away. Now, who profits by a funeral beyond half a dozen lacqueys, and Messrs. Tressel and Hatchment, the undertakers?

[7] I can’t resist the opportunity here to tell a story of a Beggar, the more so, that it made me laugh, and was told me by an Austrian officer; and Austrian officers are not the most laughter-compelling people in the world. My informant happened to alight one day at some post town in Italy, and was at once surrounded by the usual swarm of beggars, who, of course, fought for the honour (and profit) of carrying his baggage. Equally, of course, each beggar took a separate portion of the impedimenta—one a hat-box, one an umbrella, and so on—so that each would claim a separate reward. At the expenditure of much patience, and some small change, the traveller had at last paid each extortionate impostor that which was not due to him; when there approached a reverend, but ragged-looking man, with a long white beard, and who, with an indescribable look of dirty dignity, held out his hand like the rest. The traveller had remarked that this patriarch had stood aloof during the squabble for the luggage, and had moved neither hand nor foot in pretending to carry it. Naturally, before the traveller disbursed more coin, he briefly desired the man with the white beard to define his claim. The reply was, I think, incomparable for cool and dignified impudence. The patriarch drew himself up to his full height, placed his right hand on his breast, and in slow and solemn accents made answer:—“Ed anche io sono stato presente.” “I, too, was present!” Sublime beggar!


In the sunlight:—
Little Mab, the keeper’s daughter, singing by the brooklet’s side,
With her playmates singing carols of the gracious Easter-tide;
And the violet and the primrose make sweet incense for the quire,
In the springlight, when the rosebuds hide the thorns upon the briar.
In the lamplight:—
With a proud defiant beauty, Mab, the fallen, flaunts along,
Speaking sin’s words, wildly laughing, she who sang that Paschal song,
And a mother lies a-dying in the cottage far away,
And a father cries to Heaven, “Thou hast said, ‘I will repay.’”
In the moonlight:—
By the gravestone in the churchyard, Mabel, where her mother sleeps,
Like the tearful saint of Magdala, an Easter vigil keeps:—
There, trailing cruel thorns, storm-drenched, plaining with piteous bleat,
The lost lamb (so her mother prayed) and the Good Shepherd meet.
S. R. H.


Studies in Animal Life.

“Authentic tidings of invisible things;
Of ebb and flow, and ever-during power,
And central peace subsisting at the heart
Of endless agitation.”—The Excursion.


A garden wall, and its traces of past life—Not a breath perishes—A bit of dry moss and its inhabitants—The “Wheel-bearers”—Resuscitation of Rotifers: drowned into life—Current belief that animals can be revived after complete desiccation—Experiments contradicting the belief—Spallanzani’s testimony—Value of biology as a means of culture—Classification of animals: the five great types—Criticism of Cuvier’s arrangement.

Pleasant, both to eye and mind, is an old garden wall, dark with age, gray with lichens, green with mosses of beautiful hues and fairy elegance of form: a wall shutting in some sequestered home, far from “the din of murmurous cities vast:” a home where, as we fondly, foolishly think, Life must needs throb placidly, and all its tragedies and pettinesses be unknown. As we pass alongside this wall, the sight of the overhanging branches suggests an image of some charming nook; or our thoughts wander about the wall itself, calling up the years during which it has been warmed by the sun, chilled by the night airs and the dews, and dashed against by the wild winds of March: all of which have made it quite another wall from what it was when the trowel first settled its bricks. The old wall has a past, a life, a story; as Wordsworth finely says of the mountain, it is “familiar with forgotten years.” Not only are there obvious traces of age in the crumbling mortar and the battered brick, but there are traces, not obvious, except to the inner eye, left by every ray of light, every raindrop, every gust. Nothing perishes. In the wondrous metamorphosis momently going on everywhere in the universe, there is change, but no loss.

Lest you should imagine this to be poetry, and not science, I will touch on the evidence that every beam of light, or every breath of air, which falls upon an object, permanently affects it. In photography we see the effect of light very strikingly exhibited; but perhaps you will object that this proves nothing more than that light acts upon an iodized surface. Yet in truth light acts upon, and more or less alters, the structure of every object on which it falls. Nor is this all. If a wafer be laid on a surface of polished metal, which is then breathed upon, and if, when the moisture of the breath has evaporated, the wafer be shaken off, we shall find that the whole polished surface is not as it was before, although our senses can detect no difference; for if we breathe again upon it, the surface will be moist everywhere except on the spot previously sheltered[284] by the wafer, which will now appear as a spectral image on the surface. Again and again we breathe, and the moisture evaporates, but still the spectral wafer reappears. This experiment succeeds after a lapse of many months, if the metal be carefully put aside where its surface cannot be disturbed. If a sheet of paper, on which a key has been laid, be exposed for some minutes to the sunshine, and then instantaneously viewed in the dark, the key being removed, a fading spectre of the key will be visible. Let this paper be put aside for many months where nothing can disturb it, and then in darkness be laid on a plate of hot metal, the spectre of the key will again appear. In the case of bodies more highly phosphorescent than paper, the spectres of many different objects which may have been laid on in succession will, on warming, emerge in their proper order.[8]

This is equally true of our bodies, and our minds. We are involved in the universal metamorphosis. Nothing leaves us wholly as it found us. Every man we meet, every book we read, every picture or landscape we see, every word or tone we hear, mingles with our being and modifies it. There are cases on record of ignorant women, in states of insanity, uttering Greek and Hebrew phrases, which in past years they had heard their masters utter, without of course comprehending them. These tones had long been forgotten: the traces were so faint that under ordinary conditions they were invisible; but the traces were there, and in the intense light of cerebral excitement they started into prominence, just as the spectral image of the key started into sight on the application of heat. It is thus with all the influences to which we are subjected.

If a garden wall can lead our vagabond thoughts into such speculations as these, surely it may also furnish us with matter for our Studies in Animal Life? Those patches of moss must be colonies. Suppose we examine them? I pull away a small bit, which is so dry that the dust crumbles at a touch; this may be wrapped in a piece of paper—dirt and all—and carried home. Get the microscope ready, and now attend.

I moisten a fragment of this moss with distilled water. Any water will do as well, but the use of distilled water prevents your supposing that the animals you are about to watch were brought in it, and were not already in the moss. I now squeeze the bit between my fingers, and a drop of the contained water—somewhat turbid with dirt—falls on the glass slide, which we may now put on the microscope stage. A rapid survey assures us that there is no animal visible. The moss is squeezed again; and this time little yellowish bodies of an irregular oval are noticeable among the particles of dust and moss. Watch one of these, and presently you will observe a slow bulging at one end, and then a bulging at the other end. The oval has elongated itself into a form not unlike that of a fat caterpillar, except that there is a tapering at one end. Now a forked tail is visible; this fixes on to the glass, while the body sways to and fro. Now the head is drawn in—as if it were[285] swallowed—and, suddenly, in its place are unfolded two broad membranes, having each a circle of waving cilia. The lifeless oval has become a living animal! You have assisted at a resuscitation, not from death by drowning, but by drying: the animal has been drowned into life! The unfolded membranes, with their cilia, have so much the appearance of wheels that the name of “Wheel-bearer” (Rotifera) or “Wheel Animalcule” has been given to the animal.

The Rotifera (also—and more correctly—called Rotatoria) form an interesting study. Let us glance at their organization:—

Fig. 16.

Rotifer Vulgaris. A, with the wheels drawn in (at c). B, with wheels expanded; b, eye spots; c, jaws and teeth; f, alimentary canal; g, embryo; h, embryo further developed; i, water-vascular system; k, vent.

There are many different kinds of Rotifers, varying very materially in size and shape; the males, as was stated in the last chapter, being more imperfectly organized than the females. They may be seen either swimming rapidly through the water by means of the vibratile cilia called “wheels,” because the optical effect is very much that of a toothed-wheel; or crawling along the side of the glass, fastening to it by the head, and then curving the body till the tail is brought up to the spot, which is then fastened on by the tail, and the head is set free. They may also be seen fastened to a weed, or the glass, by the tail, the body waving to and fro, or thrusting itself straight out, and setting the wheels in active motion. In this attitude the aspect of the jaws is very striking. Leuwenhoek mistook it for the pulsation of a heart, which its incessant rhythm much[286] resembles. The tail, and the upper part of the body, have a singular power of being drawn out, or drawn in, like the tube of a telescope. There is sometimes a shell, or carapace, but often the body is covered only with a smooth firm skin, which, however, presents decided indications of being segmented.

The first person who described these Rotifers was the excellent old Leuwenhoek;[9] and his animals were got from the gutter of a house-top. Since then, they have been minutely studied, and have been shown to be, not Infusoria, as Ehrenberg imagined, but Crustacea.[10] Your attention is requested to the one point which has most contributed to the celebrity of these creatures—their power of resuscitation. Leuwenhoek described—what you have just witnessed, namely—the slow resuscitation of the animal (which seemed as dry as dust, and might have been blown about like any particle of dust,) directly a little moisture was brought to it. Spallanzani startled the world with the announcement that this process of drying and moistening—of killing and reviving—could be repeated fifteen times in succession; so that the Rotifer, whose natural term of life is about eighteen days, might, it was said, be dried and kept for years, and at any time revived by moisture. That which seems now no better than a grain of dust will suddenly awaken to the energetic life of a complex organism, and may again be made as dust by evaporation of the water.

This is very marvellous: so marvellous that a mind, trained in the cultivated caution of science, will demand the evidence on which it is based. Two months ago I should have dismissed the doubt with the assurance that the evidence was ample and rigorous, and the fact indisputable. For not only had the fact been confirmed by the united experience of several investigators: it had stood the test of very severe experiment. Thus in 1842, M. Doyère published experiments which seemed to place it beyond scepticism. Under the air-pump he set some moss, together with vessels containing sulphuric acid, which would absorb every trace of moisture. After leaving the moss thus for a week, he removed it into an oven, the temperature of which was raised to 300° Fahrenheit. Yet even this treatment did not prevent the animals from resuscitating when water was added.

In presence of testimony like this, doubt will seem next to impossible. Nevertheless, my own experiments leave me no choice but to doubt. Not having witnessed M. Doyère’s experiment, I am not prepared to say wherein its fallacy lies; but that there is a fallacy, seems to me capable of decisive proof. In M. Pouchet’s recent work[11] I first read a distinct denial of the pretended resuscitation of the Rotifers; this denial was the more[287] startling to me, because I had myself often witnessed the reawakening of these dried animals. Nevertheless, whenever a doubt is fairly started, we have not done justice to it until we have brought it to the test of experiment; accordingly I tested this, and quickly came upon what seems to me the source of the general misconception. Day after day experiments were repeated, varied, and controlled, and with results so unvarying that hesitation vanished; and as some of these experiments are of extreme simplicity, you may verify what I say with little trouble. Squeeze a drop from the moss, taking care that there is scarcely any dirt in it; and, having ascertained that it contains Rotifers, or Tardigrades,[12] alive and moving, place the glass-slide under a bell-glass, to shield it from currents of air, and there allow the water to evaporate slowly, but completely, by means of chloride of calcium, or sulphuric acid, placed under the bell-glass; or, what is still simpler, place a slide with the live animals on the mantelpiece when a fire is burning in the grate. If on the day following you examine this perfectly dry glass, you will see the contracted bodies of the Rotifers, presenting the aspect of yellowish oval bodies; but attempt to resuscitate them by the addition of a little fresh water, and you will find that they do not revive, as they revived when dried in the moss: they sometimes swell a little, and elongate themselves, and you imagine this is a commencement of resuscitation; but continue watching for two or three days, and you will find it goes no further. Never do these oval bodies become active crawling Rotifers; never do they expand their wheels, and set the œsophagus at work. No: the Rotifer once dried is dead, and dead for ever.

But if, like a cautious experimenter, you vary and control the experiment, and beside the glass-slide place a watch-glass containing Rotifers with dirt, or moss, you will find that the addition of water to the contents of the watch-glass will often (not always) revive the animals. What you cannot effect on a glass-slide without dirt, or with very little, you easily effect in a watch-glass with dirt, or moss; and if you give due attention you will find that in each case the result depends upon the quantity of the dirt. And this leads to a clear understanding of the whole mystery; this reconciles the conflicting statements. The reason why Rotifers ever revive is, because they have not been dried—they have not lost by evaporation that small quantity of water which forms an integral constituent of their tissues; and it is the presence of dirt, or moss, which prevents this complete evaporation. No one, I suppose, believes that the Rotifer actually revives after once being dead. If it has a power of remaining in a state of suspended animation, like that of a frozen frog, it can do so only on the condition that its organism is not destroyed; and destroyed it would be, if the water[288] were removed from its tissues: for, strange as it may seem, water is not an accessory, but a constituent element of every tissue; and this cannot be replaced mechanically—it can only be replaced by vital processes. Every one who has made microscopic preparations must be aware that when once a tissue is desiccated, it is spoiled: it will not recover its form and properties on the application of water; because the water was not originally worked into the web by a mere process of imbibition—like water in a sponge—but by a molecular process of assimilation, like albumen in a muscle. Therefore, I say, that desiccation is necessarily death; and the Rotifer which revives cannot have been desiccated. This being granted, we have only to ask, What prevents the Rotifer from becoming completely dried? Experiment shows that it is the presence of dirt, or moss, which does this. The whole marvel of the Rotifer’s resuscitation, therefore, amounts to this:—that if the water in which it lives be evaporated, the animal passes into a state of suspended animation, and remains so, as long as its own water is protected from evaporation.

I am aware that this is not easily to be reconciled with M. Doyère’s experiments, since the application of a temperature so high as 300° Fahr. (nearly a hundred degrees above boiling water) must, one would imagine, have completely desiccated the animals, in spite of any amount of protecting dirt. It is possible that M. Doyère may have mistaken that previously-noted swelling-up of the bodies, on the application of water, for a return to vital activity. If not, I am at a loss to explain the contradiction; for certainly in my experience a much more moderate desiccation—namely, that obtained by simple evaporation over a mantelpiece, or under a large bell-glass—always destroyed the animals, if little or no dirt were present.

The subject has recently been brought before the French Academy of Sciences by M. Davaine, whose experiments[13] lead him to the conclusion that those Rotifers which habitually live in ponds will not revive after desiccation: whereas those which live in moss always do so. I believe the explanation to be this: the Rotifers living in ponds are dried without any protecting dirt, or moss, and that is the reason they do not revive.

After having satisfied myself on this point, I did what perhaps would have saved me some trouble if thought of before. I took down Spallanzani, and read his account of his celebrated experiments. To my surprise and satisfaction, it appeared that he had accurately observed the same facts, but curiously missed their real significance. Nothing can be plainer than the following passage: “But there is one condition indispensable to the resurrection of wheel-animals: it is absolutely necessary that there should be a certain quantity of sand; without it they will not revive. One day I had two wheel-animals traversing a drop of water about to evaporate, which contained very little sand. Three quarters of an hour after evaporation, they were dry and motionless. I moistened them with water to[289] revive them; but in vain, notwithstanding that they were immersed in water many hours. Their members swelled to thrice the original size, but they remained motionless. To ascertain whether the fact was accidental, I spread a portion of sand, containing animals, on a glass slide, and waited till it became dry in order to wet it anew. The sand was carelessly scattered on the glass, so as to be a thin covering on some parts, and on others in a very small quantity: here the animals did not revive: but all that were in those parts with abundance of sand revived.”[14] He further says that if sand be spread out in considerable quantities in some places, much less in others, and very little in the rest, on moistening it the revived animals will be numerous in the first, less numerous in the second, and none at all in the third.

It is not a little remarkable that observations so precise as these should have for many years passed unregarded, and not led to the true explanation of the mystery. Perhaps an inherent love of the marvellous made men greedily accept the idea of resuscitation, and indisposed them to attempt an explanation of it. Spallanzani’s own attempt is certainly not felicitous. He supposes that the dust prevents the lacerating influence of the air from irritating and injuring the animals. And this explanation is accepted by his Translator.

[Since the foregoing remarks were in type, M. Gavarret has published (Annales des Sciences Naturelles, 1859, xi. p. 315) the account of his experiments on Rotifers and Tardigrades, in which he found that after subjecting the moss to a desiccation the most complete according to our present means, the animals revived after twenty-four hours’ immersion of the moss in water. This result seems flatly to contradict the result I arrived at; but only seems to contradict it, for in my experiments the animals, not the moss, were subjected to desiccation. Nevertheless, I confess that my confidence was shaken by experiments so precise, and performed by so distinguished an investigator, and I once more resumed the experiments, feeling persuaded that the detection of the fallacy, wherever it might be, would be well worth the trouble. The results of these controlling experiments are all I can find room for here:—Whenever the animals were completely separated from the dirt, they perished; in two cases there was a very little dirt—a mere film, so to speak—in the watch-glass, and glass-cell, and this, slight as it was, sufficed to protect two out of eight, and three out of ten Rotifers, which revived on the second day; the others did not revive even on the third day after their immersion. In one instance, a thin covering-glass was placed over the water on the slide, and the evaporation of the water seemed complete, yet this glass-cover sufficed to protect a Rotifer, which revived in three hours.

If we compare these results with those obtained by M. Davaine, we can scarcely avoid the conclusion that it is only when the desiccation of[290] the Rotifers is prevented by the presence of a small quantity of moss, or of dirt—between the particles of which they find shelter—that they revive on the application of water. And even in the severe experiments of M. Doyère and M. Gavarret, some of the animals must have been thus protected; and I call particular attention to the fact that, although some animals revived, others always perished. But if the organization of the Rotifer, or Tardigrade, is such that it can withstand desiccation—if it only needs the fresh applications of moisture to restore its activity—all, or almost all, the animals experimented on ought to revive; and the fact that only some revive leads us to suspect that these have not been desiccated—a suspicion which is warranted by direct experiments. I believe, then, that the discrepancy amounts to this: investigators who have desiccated the moss containing animals, find some of the animals revive on the application of moisture; but those who desiccate the animals themselves, will find no instances of revival.]

The time spent on these Rotifers will not have been misspent if it has taught us the necessity of caution in all experimental inquiries. Although Experiment is valuable—nay, indispensable—as a means of interrogating Nature, it is constantly liable to mislead us into the idea that we have rightly interrogated, and rightly interpreted the replies; and this danger arises from the complexity of the cases with which we are dealing, and our proneness to overlook, or disregard, some seemingly trifling condition—a trifle which may turn out of the utmost importance. The one reason why the study of Science is valuable as a means of culture, over and above its own immediate objects, is that in it the mind learns to submit to realities, instead of thrusting its figments in the place of realities—endeavours to ascertain accurately what the order of Nature is, and not what it ought to be, or might be. The one reason why, of all sciences, Biology is pre-eminent as a means of culture, is, that owing to the great complexity of all the cases it investigates, it familiarizes the mind with the necessity of attending to all the conditions, and it thus keeps the mind alert. It cultivates caution, which, considering the tendency there is in men to “anticipate Nature,” is a mental tonic of inestimable worth. I am far from asserting that biologists are more accurate reasoners than other men; indeed, the mass of crude hypothesis which passes unchallenged by them, is against such an idea. But whether its advantages be used or neglected, the truth nevertheless is, that Biology, from the complexity of its problems, and the necessity of incessant verification of its details, offers greater advantages for culture than any other branch of science.

I have once or twice mentioned the words Mollusc and Crustacean, to which the reader unfamiliar with the language of Natural History will have attached but vague ideas; and although I wanted to explain these, and convey a distinct conception of the general facts of Classification, it would have then been too great an interruption. So I will here make an opportunity, and finish the chapter with an indication of the five Types, or plans of structure, under one of which every animal is classed. Without[291] being versed in science, you discern at once whether the book before you is mathematical, physical, chemical, botanical, or physiological. In like manner, without being versed in Natural History, you ought to know whether the animal before you belongs to the Vertebrata, Mollusca, Articulata, Radiata, or Protozoa.

Fig. 17.

Male Triton, or Water-Newt.

A glance at the contents of our glass vases will yield us samples of each of these five divisions of the animal kingdom. We begin with this Triton. It is a representative of the Vertebrate division, or sub-kingdom. You have merely to remember that it possesses a backbone and an internal skeleton, and you will at once recognize the cardinal character which makes this Triton range under the same general head as men, elephants, whales, birds, reptiles, or fishes. All these, in spite of their manifold differences, have this one character in common:—they are all backboned; they have all an internal skeleton; they are all formed according to one general type. In all vertebrate animals the skeleton is found to be identical in plan. Every bone in the body of a triton has its corresponding bone in the body of a man, or of a mouse; and every bone preserves the same connection with other bones, no matter how unlike may be the various limbs in which we detect its presence. Thus, widely as the arm of a man differs from the fin of a whale, or the wing of a bird, or the wing of a bat, or the leg of a horse, the same number of bones, and the same connections of the bones, are found in each. A fin is one modified form of the typical limb; an arm is another; a wing another. That which is true of the limbs, is also true of all the organs; and it is on this ground that we speak of the vertebrate type. From fish to man one common plan of structure prevails; and the presence of a backbone is the index by which to recognize this plan.


The Triton has been wriggling grotesquely in our grasp while we have made him our text, and, now he is restored to his vase, plunges to the bottom with great satisfaction at his escape. This water-snail, crawling slowly up the side of the vase, and cleaning it of the green growth of microscopic plants, which he devours, shall be our representative of the second great division—the Mollusca. I cannot suggest any obvious character so distinctive as a backbone, by which the word Mollusc may at once call up an idea of the type which prevails in the group. It won’t do to say “shell-fish,” because many molluscs have no shells, and many animals which have shells are not molluscs. The name was originally bestowed on account of the softness of the animals. But they are not softer than worms, and much less so than jelly-fish. You may know that snails and slugs, oysters and cuttlefish, are molluscs; but if you want some one character by which the type may be remembered, you must fix on the imperfect symmetry of the mollusc’s organs. I say imperfect symmetry, because it is an error, though a common one, to speak of the mollusc’s body not being bilateral—that is to say, of its not being composed of two symmetrical halves. A vertebrate animal may be divided lengthwise, and each half will closely resemble the other; the backbone forms, as it were, an axis, on either side of which the organs are disposed; but the mollusc is said to have no such axis, no such symmetry. I admit the absence of an axis, but I deny the total absence of symmetry. Many of its organs are as symmetrical as those of a vertebrate animal—i.e. the eyes, the feelers, the jaws—and the gills in Cuttlefish, Eolids, and Pteropods; while, on the other hand, several organs in the vertebrate animal are as unsymmetrical as any of those in the mollusc, i.e. the liver, spleen, pancreas, stomach, and intestines.[15] As regards bilateral structure, therefore, it is only a question of degree. The vertebrate animal is not entirely symmetrical, nor is the mollusc entirely unsymmetrical. But there is a characteristic disposition of the nervous system peculiar to molluscs: it neither forms an axis for the body—as it does in the Vertebrata and Articulata—nor a centre—as it does in the Radiata—but is altogether irregular and unsymmetrical. This will be intelligible from the following diagram of the nervous systems of a Mollusc and an insect, with which that of a Star-fish may be compared (Fig. 18). Here you perceive how the nervous centres, and the nerves which issue from them, are irregularly disposed in the molluscs, and symmetrically in the insect.

But the recognition of a mollusc will be easier when you have learned to distinguish it from one of the Articulata, forming the third great division,—the third animal Type. Of these, our vases present numerous representatives: prawns, beetles, water-spiders, insect-larvæ, entomostraca,[293] and worms. There is a very obvious character by which these may be recognized: they have all bodies composed of numerous segments, and their limbs are jointed, and they have mostly an external skeleton from which their limbs are developed. Sometimes the segments of their bodies are numerous, as in the centipede, lobster, &c.; sometimes several segments are fused together, as in the crab; and sometimes, as in worms, they are indicated by slight markings or depressions of the skin, which give the appearance of little rings, and hence the worms have been named Annelida, or Annulata, or Annulosa. In these last-named cases the segmental nature of the type is detected in the fact that the worms grow, segment by segment; and also in the fact that in most of them each segment has its own nerves, heart, stomach, &c.—each segment is, in fact, a zöoid.[16]

Fig. 18.

Nervous System of Sea-Hare (A) and Centipede (B).

Just as we recognize a vertebrate by the presence of a backbone and internal skeleton, we recognize an articulate by its jointed body and external skeleton. In both, the nervous system forms the axis of the body. The Mollusc, on the contrary, has no skeleton, internal or external;[17] and its nervous system does not form an axis. As a rule, both vertebrates and articulates have limbs—although there are exceptions in serpents, fishes, and worms. The Molluscs have no limbs. Backboned,—jointed,—and non-jointed,—therefore, are the three leading characteristics of the three types.


Let us now glance at the fourth division—the Radiata,—so called because of the disposition of the organs round a centre, which is the mouth. Our fresh-water vases afford us only one representative of this type—the Hydra, or fresh-water Polype, whose capture was recorded in the last chapter. Is it not strange that while all the Radiata are aquatic, not a single terrestrial representative having been discovered, only one should be found in fresh water? Think of the richness of the seas, with their hosts of Polypes, Actiniæ, Jelly-fish, Star-fishes, Sea-urchins, Sea-pens (Pennatulæ), Lily-stars (Comatulæ), and Sea-cucumbers (Holothuriæ), and then compare the poverty of rivers, lakes, and ponds, reduced to their single representative, the Hydra. The radiate structure may best be exhibited by this diagram of the nervous system of the Star-fish.[18]

Fig. 19.

Nervous System of Star-Fish.

Cuvier, to whom we owe this classification of the animal kingdom into four great divisions, would have been the first to recognize the chaotic condition in which he left this last division, and would have acquiesced in the separation of the Protozoa, which has since been made. This fifth division includes many of the microscopic animals known as Infusoria; and receives its name from the idea that these simplest of all animals represent, as it were, the beginnings of life.[19]

But Cuvier’s arrangement is open to a more serious objection. The state of science in his day excused the imperfection of classing the Infusoria and parasites under the Radiata; but it was owing, I conceive, to an unphilosophical view of morphology, that he placed the molluscs next to the Vertebrata, instead of placing the Articulata in that position. He was secretly determined by the desire to show that there are four very distinct types, or plans of structure, which cannot by any transitions be brought under one law of development. Lamarck and Geoffroy St. Hilaire maintained the idea of unity of composition throughout the animal kingdom;—in other words, that all the varieties of animal forms were produced by successive modifications: and several of the German naturalists maintained that the vertebrata in their embryonic stages passed through forms which were permanent in the lower animals. This idea Cuvier always opposed. He held that the four types were altogether distinct; and by his arrangement of them, their distinctness certainly appears much greater than would be the case on[295] another arrangement. But without discussing this question here, it is enough to point out the fact of the enormous superiority in intelligence, in sociality, and in complexity of animal functions, which insects and spiders exhibit, when compared with the highest of the molluscs, to justify the removal of the mollusca, and the elevation of the articulata to the second place in the animal hierarchy. Nor is this all. If we divide animals into four groups, these four naturally dispose themselves into two larger groups: the first of these, comprising Vertebrata and Articulata, is characterized by a nervous axis and a skeleton; the second, comprising Mollusca and Radiata, is characterized by the absence of both nervous axis and skeleton. It is obvious that a bee much more closely resembles a bird, than any mollusc resembles any vertebrate. If there are many and important differences between the vertebrate and articulate types, there are also many and important resemblances; if the nervous axis is above the viscera, and forms the dorsal line of the vertebrate, whereas it is underneath the viscera, and forms the ventral line in the articulate, it is, nevertheless, in both, the axis of the body, and in both it sends off nerves to supply symmetrical limbs; in both it has similar functions. And while the articulata thus approach in structure the vertebrate type, the mollusca are not only removed from that type by many diversities, but a number of them have such affinities with the Radiate type, that it is only in quite recent days that the whole class of Polyzoa (or Bryozoa, as they are also called) has been removed from the Radiata, and ranged under the Mollusca.

To quit this topic, and recur once more to the five divisions, we have only the broad outlines of the picture in Vertebrata, Mollusca, Articulata, Radiata, and Protozoa; but this is a good beginning, and we can now proceed to the further sub-divisions. Each of these five sub-kingdoms is divided into Classes; these again into Orders; these into Families; these into Genera; these into Species; and these finally into Varieties. Thus suppose a dwarf terrier is presented to us with a request that we should indicate its various titles in the scheme of classification: we begin by calling it a vertebrate; we proceed to assign its Class as the mammalian; its Order is obviously that of the carnivora; its Family is that of the fox, wolf, jackal, &c., named Canidæ; its Genus is, of course, that of Canis; its Species, terrier; its Variety, dwarf-terrier. Inasmuch as all these denominations are the expressions of scientific research, and not at all arbitrary or fanciful, they imply an immense amount of labour and sagacity in their establishment; and when we remember that naturalists have thus classed upwards of half a million of distinct species, it becomes an interesting inquiry,—What has been the guiding principle of this successful labour? on what basis is so large a superstructure raised? This question we shall answer in the next chapter.


[8] Draper: Human Physiology, p. 288.

[9] Leuwenhoek: Select Works, ii. p. 210. His figures, however, are very incorrect.

[10] See Leydig: Ueber den Bau und die systematische Stellung der Räderthiere, in Siebold und Kölliker’s Zeitschrift, vi., and Ueber Hydatina Senta, in Müller’s Archiv: 1857.

[11] Pouchet: Hétérogénie, ou Traité de la Génération Spontanée, 1859, p. 453.

[12] The Tardigrade, or microscopic Sloth, belongs to the order of Arachnida, and is occasionally found in moss, stagnant ponds, &c. I have only met with four specimens in all my investigations, and they were all found in moss. Spallanzani described and figured it (very badly), and M. Doyère has given a fuller description in the Annales des Sciences, 2nd series, vols. xiv. xvii. and xviii.

[13] Davaine in Annales des Sciences Naturelles, 1858, x. p. 335.

[14] Spallanzani: Tracts on the Natural History of Animals and Vegetables: Translated by Dalyell, ii. p. 129.

[15] In some cases of monstrosity, these organs are transposed, the liver being on the left, and the pancreas on the right side. It was in allusion to a case of this kind, then occupying the attention of Paris, that Molière made his Médecin malgré Lui describe the heart as on the right side, the liver on the left; on the mistake being noticed, he replies: “Oui, autrefois; mais nous avons changé tout cela.

[16] The term zöoid was explained in our last.

[17] In the cuttlefish there is the commencement of an internal skeleton in the cartilage-plates protecting the brain.

[18] It is right to add, that there are serious doubts entertained respecting the claim of a star-fish to the possession of a nervous system at all; but the radiate structure is represented in the diagram; as it also is, very clearly, in a Sea-anemone.


[19] Protozoa, from proton, first, and zoon, animal.

Framley Parsonage.

Sunday Morning.

It was, perhaps, quite as well on the whole for Mark Robarts, that he did not go to that supper party. It was eleven o’clock before they sat down, and nearly two before the gentlemen were in bed. It must be remembered that he had to preach, on the coming Sunday morning, a charity sermon on behalf of a mission to Mr. Harold Smith’s islanders; and, to tell the truth, it was a task for which he had now very little inclination.

When first invited to do this, he had regarded the task seriously enough, as he always did regard such work, and he completed his sermon for the occasion before he left Framley; but, since that, an air of ridicule had been thrown over the whole affair, in which he had joined without much thinking of his own sermon, and this made him now heartily wish that he could choose a discourse upon any other subject.

He knew well that the very points on which he had most insisted, were those which had drawn most mirth from Miss Dunstable and Mrs. Smith, and had oftenest provoked his own laughter; and how was he now to preach on those matters in a fitting mood, knowing, as he would know, that those two ladies would be looking at him, would endeavour to catch his eye, and would turn him into ridicule as they had already turned the lecturer?

In this he did injustice to one of the ladies, unconsciously. Miss Dunstable, with all her aptitude for mirth, and we may almost fairly say for frolic, was in no way inclined to ridicule religion or anything which she thought to appertain to it. It may be presumed that among such things she did not include Mrs. Proudie, as she was willing enough to laugh at that lady; but Mark, had he known her better, might have been sure that she would have sat out his sermon with perfect propriety.

As it was, however, he did feel considerable uneasiness; and in the morning he got up early with the view of seeing what might be done in the way of emendation. He cut out those parts which referred most specially to the islands,—he rejected altogether those names over which they had all laughed together so heartily,—and he inserted a string of general remarks, very useful, no doubt, which he flattered himself would rob his sermon of all similarity to Harold Smith’s lecture. He had, perhaps, hoped, when writing it, to create some little sensation; but now he would be quite satisfied if it passed without remark.

But his troubles for that Sunday were destined to be many. It had been arranged that the party at the hotel should breakfast at eight and start at half-past eight punctually, so as to enable them to reach Chaldicotes in ample time to arrange their dresses before they went to church. The[297] church stood in the grounds, close to that long formal avenue of lime-trees, but within the front gates. Their walk therefore, after reaching Mr. Sowerby’s house, would not be long.

Mrs. Proudie, who was herself an early body, would not hear of her guest—and he a clergyman—going out to the inn for his breakfast on a Sunday morning. As regarded that Sabbath-day journey to Chaldicotes, to that she had given her assent, no doubt with much uneasiness of mind; but let them have as little desecration as possible. It was, therefore, an understood thing that he was to return with his friends; but he should not go without the advantage of family prayers and family breakfast. And so Mrs. Proudie on retiring to rest gave the necessary orders, to the great annoyance of her household.

To the great annoyance, at least, of her servants! The bishop himself did not make his appearance till a much later hour. He in all things now supported his wife’s rule; in all things now, I say; for there had been a moment, when in the first flush and pride of his episcopacy other ideas had filled his mind. Now, however, he gave no opposition to that good woman with whom Providence had blessed him; and in return for such conduct that good woman administered in all things to his little personal comforts. With what surprise did the bishop now look back upon that unholy war which he had once been tempted to wage against the wife of his bosom?

Nor did any of the Miss Proudies show themselves at that early hour. They, perhaps, were absent on a different ground. With them Mrs. Proudie had not been so successful as with the bishop. They had wills of their own which became stronger and stronger every day. Of the three with whom Mrs. Proudie was blessed one was already in a position to exercise that will in a legitimate way over a very excellent young clergyman in the diocese, the Rev. Optimus Grey; but the other two, having as yet no such opening for their powers of command, were perhaps a little too much inclined to keep themselves in practice at home.

But at half-past seven punctually Mrs. Proudie was there, and so was the domestic chaplain; so was Mr. Robarts, and so were the household servants,—all excepting one lazy recreant. “Where is Thomas?” said she of the Argus eyes, standing up with her book of family prayers in her hand. “So please you, ma’am, Tummas be bad with the tooth-ache.” “Tooth-ache!” exclaimed Mrs. Proudie; but her eye said more terrible things than that. “Let Thomas come to me before church.” And then they proceeded to prayers. These were read by the chaplain, as it was proper and decent that they should be; but I cannot but think that Mrs. Proudie a little exceeded her office in taking upon herself to pronounce the blessing when the prayers were over. She did it, however, in a clear, sonorous voice, and perhaps with more personal dignity than was within the chaplain’s compass.

Mrs. Proudie was rather stern at breakfast, and the vicar of Framley felt an unaccountable desire to get out of the house. In the first place she[298] was not dressed with her usual punctilious attention to the proprieties of her high situation. It was evident that there was to be a further toilet before she sailed up the middle of the cathedral choir. She had on a large loose cap with no other strings than those which were wanted for tying it beneath her chin, a cap with which the household and the chaplain were well acquainted, but which seemed ungracious in the eyes of Mr. Robarts after all the well-dressed holiday doings of the last week. She wore also a large, loose, dark-coloured wrapper, which came well up round her neck, and which was not buoyed out, as were her dresses in general, with an under mechanism of petticoats. It clung to her closely, and added to the inflexibility of her general appearance. And then she had encased her feet in large carpet slippers, which no doubt were comfortable, but which struck her visitor as being strange and unsightly.

“Do you find a difficulty in getting your people together for early morning-prayers?” she said, as she commenced her operations with the teapot.

“I can’t say that I do,” said Mark. “But then we are seldom so early as this.”

“Parish clergymen should be early, I think,” said she. “It sets a good example in the village.”

“I am thinking of having morning prayers in the church,” said Mr. Robarts.

“That’s nonsense,” said Mrs. Proudie, “and usually means worse than nonsense. I know what that comes to. If you have three services on Sunday and domestic prayers at home, you do very well.” And so saying she handed him his cup.

“But I have not three services on Sunday, Mrs. Proudie.”

“Then I think you should have. Where can the poor people be so well off on Sundays as in church? The bishop intends to express a very strong opinion on this subject in his next charge; and then I am sure you will attend to his wishes.”

To this Mark made no answer, but devoted himself to his egg.

“I suppose you have not a very large establishment at Framley?” asked Mrs. Proudie.

“What, at the parsonage?”

“Yes; you live at the parsonage, don’t you?”

“Certainly—well; not very large, Mrs. Proudie; just enough to do the work, make things comfortable, and look after the children.”

“It is a very fine living,” said she; “very fine. I don’t remember that we have anything so good ourselves,—except it is Plumstead, the archdeacon’s place. He has managed to butter his bread pretty well.”

“His father was bishop of Barchester.”

“Oh, yes, I know all about him. Only for that he would barely have risen to be an archdeacon, I suspect. Let me see; yours is 800l., is it not, Mr. Robarts? And you such a young man! I suppose you have insured your life highly.”


“Pretty well, Mrs. Proudie.”

“And then, too, your wife had some little fortune, had she not? We cannot all fall on our feet like that; can we, Mr. White?” and Mrs. Proudie in her playful way appealed to the chaplain.

Mrs. Proudie was an imperious woman; but then so also was Lady Lufton; and it may therefore be said that Mr. Robarts ought to have been accustomed to feminine domination; but as he sat there munching his toast he could not but make a comparison between the two. Lady Lufton in her little attempts sometimes angered him; but he certainly thought, comparing the lay lady and the clerical together, that the rule of the former was the lighter and the pleasanter. But then Lady Lufton had given him a living and a wife, and Mrs. Proudie had given him nothing.

Immediately after breakfast Mr. Robarts escaped to the Dragon of Wantly, partly because he had had enough of the matutinal Mrs. Proudie, and partly also in order that he might hurry his friends there. He was already becoming fidgety about the time, as Harold Smith had been on the preceding evening, and he did not give Mrs. Smith credit for much punctuality. When he arrived at the inn he asked if they had done breakfast, and was immediately told that not one of them was yet down. It was already half-past eight, and they ought to be now under weigh on the road.

He immediately went to Mr. Sowerby’s room, and found that gentleman shaving himself. “Don’t be a bit uneasy,” said Mr. Sowerby. “You and Smith shall have my phaeton, and those horses will take you there in an hour. Not, however, but what we shall all be in time. We’ll send round to the whole party and ferret them out.” And then Mr. Sowerby having evoked manifold aid with various peals of the bell sent messengers, male and female, flying to all the different rooms.

“I think I’ll hire a gig and go over at once,” said Mark. “It would not do for me to be late, you know.”

“It won’t do for any of us to be late; and it’s all nonsense about hiring a gig. It would be just throwing a sovereign away, and we should pass you on the road. Go down and see that the tea is made, and all that; and make them have the bill ready; and, Robarts, you may pay it too, if you like it. But I believe we may as well leave that to Baron Borneo—eh?”

And then Mark did go down and make the tea, and he did order the bill; and then he walked about the room, looking at his watch, and nervously waiting for the footsteps of his friends. And as he was so employed, he bethought himself whether it was fit that he should be so doing on a Sunday morning; whether it was good that he should be waiting there, in painful anxiety, to gallop over a dozen miles in order that he might not be too late with his sermon; whether his own snug room at home, with Fanny opposite to him, and his bairns crawling on the floor, with his own preparations for his own quiet service, and the[300] warm pressure of Lady Lufton’s hand when that service should be over, was not better than all this.

He could not afford not to know Harold Smith, and Mr. Sowerby, and the Duke of Omnium, he had said to himself. He had to look to rise in the world, as other men did. But what pleasure had come to him as yet from these intimacies? How much had he hitherto done towards his rising? To speak the truth he was not over well pleased with himself, as he made Mrs. Harold Smith’s tea and ordered Mr. Sowerby’s mutton chops on that Sunday morning.

At a little after nine they all assembled; but even then he could not make the ladies understand that there was any cause for hurry; at least Mrs. Smith, who was the leader of the party, would not understand it. When Mark again talked of hiring a gig, Miss Dunstable indeed said that she would join him; and seemed to be so far earnest in the matter that Mr. Sowerby hurried through his second egg in order to prevent such a catastrophe. And then Mark absolutely did order the gig; whereupon Mrs. Smith remarked that in such case she need not hurry herself; but the waiter brought up word that all the horses of the hotel were out, excepting one pair neither of which could go in single harness. Indeed, half of their stable establishment was already secured by Mr. Sowerby’s own party.

“Then let me have the pair,” said Mark, almost frantic with delay.

“Nonsense, Robarts; we are ready now. He won’t want them, James. Come, Supplehouse, have you done?”

“Then I am to hurry myself, am I?” said Mrs. Harold Smith. “What changeable creatures you men are! May I be allowed half a cup more tea, Mr. Robarts?”

Mark, who was now really angry, turned away to the window. There was no charity in these people, he said to himself. They knew the nature of his distress, and yet they only laughed at him. He did not, perhaps, reflect that he had assisted in the joke against Harold Smith on the previous evening.

“James,” said he, turning to the waiter, “let me have that pair of horses immediately, if you please.”

“Yes, sir; round in fifteen minutes, sir: only Ned, sir, the post-boy, sir; I fear he’s at his breakfast, sir; but we’ll have him here in less than no time, sir!”

But before Ned and the pair were there, Mrs. Smith had absolutely got her bonnet on, and at ten they started. Mark did share the phaeton with Harold Smith, but the phaeton did not go any faster than the other carriages. They led the way, indeed, but that was all; and when the vicar’s watch told him that it was eleven, they were still a mile from Chaldicotes’ gate, although the horses were in a lather of steam; and they had only just entered the village when the church bells ceased to be heard.

“Come, you are in time, after all,” said Harold Smith. “Better time than I was last night.” Robarts could not explain to him that the entry of[301] a clergyman into church, of a clergyman who is going to assist in the service, should not be made at the last minute, that it should be staid and decorous, and not done in scrambling haste, with running feet and scant breath.

“I suppose we’ll stop here, sir,” said the postilion, as he pulled up his horses short at the church-door, in the midst of the people who were congregated together ready for the service. But Mark had not anticipated being so late, and said at first that it was necessary that he should go on to the house; then, when the horses had again begun to move, he remembered that he could send for his gown, and as he got out of the carriage he gave his orders accordingly. And now the other two carriages were there, and so there was a noise and confusion at the door—very unseemly, as Mark felt it; and the gentlemen spoke in loud voices, and Mrs. Harold Smith declared that she had no prayer-book, and was much too tired to go in at present;—she would go home and rest herself, she said. And two other ladies of the party did so also, leaving Miss Dunstable to go alone;—for which, however, she did not care one button. And then one of the party, who had a nasty habit of swearing, cursed at something as he walked in close to Mark’s elbow; and so they made their way up the church as the absolution was being read, and Mark Robarts felt thoroughly ashamed of himself. If his rising in the world brought him in contact with such things as these, would it not be better for him that he should do without rising?

His sermon went off without any special notice. Mrs. Harold Smith was not there, much to his satisfaction; and the others who were did not seem to pay any special attention to it. The subject had lost its novelty, except with the ordinary church congregation, the farmers and labourers of the parish; and the “quality” in the squire’s great pew were content to show their sympathy by a moderate subscription. Miss Dunstable, however, gave a ten-pound note, which swelled up the sum total to a respectable amount—for such a place as Chaldicotes.

“And now I hope I may never hear another word about New Guinea,” said Mr. Sowerby, as they all clustered round the drawing-room fire after church. “That subject may be regarded as having been killed and buried; eh, Harold?”

“Certainly murdered last night,” said Mrs. Harold, “by that awful woman, Mrs. Proudie.”

“I wonder you did not make a dash at her and pull her out of the arm-chair,” said Miss Dunstable. “I was expecting it, and thought that I should come to grief in the scrimmage.”

“I never knew a lady do such a brazen-faced thing before,” said Miss Kerrigy, a travelling friend of Miss Dunstable’s.

“Nor I—never; in a public place, too,” said Dr. Easyman, a medical gentleman, who also often accompanied her.

“As for brass,” said Mr. Supplehouse, “she would never stop at anything for want of that. It is well that she has enough, for the poor bishop is but badly provided.”


“I hardly heard what it was she did say,” said Harold Smith; “so I could not answer her, you know. Something about Sundays, I believe.”

“She hoped you would not put the South Sea islanders up to Sabbath travelling,” said Mr. Sowerby.

“And specially begged that you would establish Lord’s-day schools,” said Mrs. Smith; and then they all went to work and picked Mrs. Proudie to pieces, from the top ribbon of her cap down to the sole of her slipper.

“And then she expects the poor parsons to fall in love with her daughters. That’s the hardest thing of all,” said Miss Dunstable.

But, on the whole, when our vicar went to bed he did not feel that he had spent a profitable Sunday.

Gatherum Castle.

On the Tuesday morning Mark did receive his wife’s letter and the ten-pound note, whereby a strong proof was given of the honesty of the post-office people in Barsetshire. That letter, written as it had been in a hurry, while Robin post-boy was drinking a single mug of beer,—well, what of it if it was half filled a second time?—was nevertheless eloquent of his wife’s love and of her great triumph.

“I have only half a moment to send you the money,” she said, “for the postman is here waiting. When I see you I’ll explain why I am so hurried. Let me know that you get it safe. It is all right now, and Lady Lufton was here not a minute ago. She did not quite like it; about Gatherum Castle I mean; but you’ll hear nothing about it. Only remember that you must dine at Framley Court on Wednesday week. I have promised for you. You will: won’t you, dearest? I shall come and fetch you away if you attempt to stay longer than you have said. But I’m sure you won’t. God bless you, my own one! Mr. Jones gave us the same sermon he preached the second Sunday after Easter. Twice in the same year is too often. God bless you! The children are quite well. Mark sends a big kiss.—Your own F.”

Robarts, as he read this letter and crumpled the note up into his pocket, felt that it was much more satisfactory than he deserved. He knew that there must have been a fight, and that his wife, fighting loyally on his behalf, had got the best of it; and he knew also that her victory had not been owing to the goodness of her cause. He frequently declared to himself that he would not be afraid of Lady Lufton; but nevertheless these tidings that no reproaches were to be made to him afforded him great relief.

On the following Friday they all went to the duke’s, and found that the bishop and Mrs. Proudie were there before them; as were also sundry other people, mostly of some note, either in the estimation of the world at large or of that of West Barsetshire. Lord Boanerges was there, an old man[303] who would have his own way in everything, and who was regarded by all men—apparently even by the duke himself—as an intellectual king, by no means of the constitutional kind,—as an intellectual emperor rather, who took upon himself to rule all questions of mind without the assistance of any ministers whatever. And Baron Brawl was of the party, one of her Majesty’s puisne judges, as jovial a guest as ever entered a country house; but given to be rather sharp withal in his jovialities. And there was Mr. Green Walker, a young but rising man, the same who lectured not long since on a popular subject to his constituents at the Crewe Junction. Mr. Green Walker was a nephew of the Marchioness of Hartletop, and the Marchioness of Hartletop was a friend of the Duke of Omnium’s. Mr. Mark Robarts was certainly elated when he ascertained who composed the company of which he had been so earnestly pressed to make a portion. Would it have been wise in him to forego this on account of the prejudices of Lady Lufton?

As the guests were so many and so great the huge front portals of Gatherum Castle were thrown open, and the vast hall adorned with trophies—with marble busts from Italy and armour from Wardour Street,—was thronged with gentlemen and ladies, and gave forth unwonted echoes to many a footstep. His grace himself, when Mark arrived there with Sowerby and Miss Dunstable—for in this instance Miss Dunstable did travel in the phaeton while Mark occupied a seat in the dicky—his grace himself was at this moment in the drawing-room, and nothing could exceed his urbanity.

“O Miss Dunstable,” he said, taking that lady by the hand, and leading her up to the fire, “now I feel for the first time that Gatherum Castle has not been built for nothing.”

“Nobody ever supposed it was, your grace,” said Miss Dunstable. “I am sure the architect did not think so when his bill was paid.” And Miss Dunstable put her toes up on the fender to warm them with as much self-possession as though her father had been a duke also, instead of a quack doctor.

“We have given the strictest orders about the parrot,” said the duke—

“Ah! but I have not brought him after all,” said Miss Dunstable.

“And I have had an aviary built on purpose,—just such as parrots are used to in their own country. Well, Miss Dunstable, I do call that unkind. Is it too late to send for him?”

“He and Dr. Easyman are travelling together. The truth was, I could not rob the doctor of his companion.”

“Why? I have had another aviary built for him. I declare, Miss Dunstable, the honour you are doing me is shorn of half its glory. But the poodle—I still trust in the poodle.”

“And your grace’s trust shall not in that respect be in vain. Where is he, I wonder?” And Miss Dunstable looked round as though she expected that somebody would certainly have brought her dog in after her. “I[304] declare I must go and look for him,—only think if they were to put him among your grace’s dogs,—how his morals would be destroyed!”

“Miss Dunstable, is that intended to be personal?” But the lady had turned away from the fire, and the duke was able to welcome his other guests.

This he did with much courtesy. “Sowerby,” he said, “I am glad to find that you have survived the lecture. I can assure you I had fears for you.”

“I was brought back to life after considerable delay by the administration of tonics at the Dragon of Wantly. Will your grace allow me to present to you Mr. Robarts, who on that occasion was not so fortunate. It was found necessary to carry him off to the palace, where he was obliged to undergo very vigorous treatment.”

And then the duke shook hands with Mr. Robarts, assuring him that he was most happy to make his acquaintance. He had often heard of him since he came into the county; and then he asked after Lord Lufton, regretting that he had been unable to induce his lordship to come to Gatherum Castle.

“But you had a diversion at the lecture, I am told,” continued the duke. “There was a second performer, was there not, who almost eclipsed poor Harold Smith?” And then Mr. Sowerby gave an amusing sketch of the little Proudie episode.

“It has, of course, ruined your brother-in-law for ever as a lecturer,” said the duke, laughing.

“If so we shall feel ourselves under the deepest obligations to Mrs. Proudie,” said Mr. Sowerby. And then Harold Smith himself came up, and received the duke’s sincere and hearty congratulations on the success of his enterprise at Barchester.

Mark Robarts had now turned away, and his attention was suddenly arrested by the loud voice of Miss Dunstable who had stumbled across some very dear friends in her passage through the rooms, and who by no means hid from the public her delight upon the occasion.

“Well—well—well!” she exclaimed, and then she seized upon a very quiet-looking, well-dressed, attractive young woman who was walking towards her, in company with a gentleman. The gentleman and lady, as it turned out, were husband and wife. “Well—well—well! I hardly hoped for this.” And then she took hold of the lady and kissed her enthusiastically, and after that grasped both the gentleman’s hands, shaking them stoutly.

“And what a deal I shall have to say to you!” she went on. “You’ll upset all my other plans. But, Mary my dear, how long are you going to stay here? I go—let me see—I forget when, but it’s all put down in a book upstairs. But the next stage is at Mrs. Proudie’s. I shan’t meet you there, I suppose. And now, Frank, how’s the governor?”

The gentleman called Frank declared that the governor was all right—“mad about the hounds, of course, you know.”


“Well, my dear, that’s better than the hounds being mad about him, like the poor gentleman they’ve put into a statue. But talking of hounds, Frank, how badly they manage their foxes at Chaldicotes! I was out hunting all one day——”

“You out hunting!” said the lady called Mary.

“And why shouldn’t I go out hunting? I’ll tell you what, Mrs. Proudie was out hunting, too. But they didn’t catch a single fox; and, if you must have the truth, it seemed to me to be rather slow.”

“You were in the wrong division of the county,” said the gentleman called Frank.

“Of course I was. When I really want to practise hunting I’ll go to Greshamsbury; not a doubt about that.”

“Or to Boxall hill,” said the lady; “you’ll find quite as much zeal there as at Greshamsbury.”

“And more discretion, you should add,” said the gentleman.

“Ha! ha! ha!” laughed Miss Dunstable; “your discretion indeed! But you have not told me a word about Lady Arabella.”

“My mother is quite well,” said the gentleman.

“And the doctor? By-the-by, my dear, I’ve had such a letter from the doctor; only two days ago. I’ll show it you upstairs to-morrow. But mind, it must be a positive secret. If he goes on in this way he’ll get himself into the Tower, or Coventry, or a blue-book, or some dreadful place.”

“Why; what has he said?”

“Never you mind, Master Frank: I don’t mean to show you the letter, you may be sure of that. But if your wife will swear three times on a poker and tongs that she won’t reveal, I’ll show it to her. And so you’re quite settled at Boxall hill, are you?”

“Frank’s horses are settled; and the dogs nearly so,” said Frank’s wife; “but I can’t boast much of anything else yet.”

“Well, there’s a good time coming. I must go and change my things now. But Mary, mind you get near me this evening; I have such a deal to say to you.” And then Miss Dunstable marched out of the room.

All this had been said in so loud a voice that it was, as a matter of course, overheard by Mark Robarts—that part of the conversation of course I mean which had come from Miss Dunstable. And then Mark learned that this was young Frank Gresham of Boxall hill, son of old Mr. Gresham of Greshamsbury. Frank had lately married a great heiress; a greater heiress, men said, even than Miss Dunstable; and as the marriage was hardly as yet more than six months old the Barsetshire world was still full of it.

“The two heiresses seem to be very loving, don’t they?” said Mr. Supplehouse. “Birds of a feather flock together, you know. But they did say some little time ago that young Gresham was to have married Miss Dunstable himself.”


“Miss Dunstable! why she might almost be his mother,” said Mark.

“That makes but little difference. He was obliged to marry money, and I believe there is no doubt that he did at one time propose to Miss Dunstable.”

“I have had a letter from Lufton,” Mr. Sowerby said to him the next morning. “He declares that the delay was all your fault. You were to have told Lady Lufton before he did anything, and he was waiting to write about it till he heard from you. It seems that you never said a word to her ladyship on the subject.”

“I never did, certainly. My commission from Lufton was to break the matter to her when I found her in a proper humour for receiving it. If you knew Lady Lufton as well as I do, you would know that it is not every day that she would be in a humour for such tidings.”

“And so I was to be kept waiting indefinitely because you two between you were afraid of an old woman! However I have not a word to say against her, and the matter is settled now.”

“Has the farm been sold?”

“Not a bit of it. The dowager could not bring her mind to suffer such profanation for the Lufton acres, and so she sold five thousand pounds out of the funds and sent the money to Lufton as a present;—sent it to him without saying a word, only hoping that it would suffice for his wants. I wish I had a mother I know.”

Mark found it impossible at the moment to make any remark upon what had been told him, but he felt a sudden qualm of conscience and a wish that he was at Framley instead of at Gatherum Castle at the present moment. He knew a good deal respecting Lady Lufton’s income and the manner in which it was spent. It was very handsome for a single lady, but then she lived in a free and open-handed style; her charities were noble; there was no reason why she should save money, and her annual income was usually spent within the year. Mark knew this, and he knew also that nothing short of an impossibility to maintain them would induce her to lessen her charities. She had now given away a portion of her principal to save the property of her son—her son, who was so much more opulent than herself,—upon whose means, too, the world made fewer effectual claims.

And Mark knew, too, something of the purpose for which this money had gone. There had been unsettled gambling claims between Sowerby and Lord Lufton, originating in affairs of the turf. It had now been going on for four years, almost from the period when Lord Lufton had become of age. He had before now spoken to Robarts on the matter with much bitter anger, alleging that Mr. Sowerby was treating him unfairly, nay, dishonestly—that he was claiming money that was not due to him; and then he declared more than once that he would bring the matter before the Jockey Club. But Mark, knowing that Lord Lufton was not clear-sighted in these matters, and believing it to be impossible that Mr. Sowerby should actually endeavour to defraud his friend, had smoothed down the[307] young lord’s anger, and recommended him to get the case referred to some private arbiter. All this had afterwards been discussed between Robarts and Mr. Sowerby himself, and hence had originated their intimacy. The matter was so referred, Mr. Sowerby naming the referee; and Lord Lufton, when the matter was given against him, took it easily. His anger was over by that time. “I’ve been clean done among them,” he said to Mark, laughing; “but it does not signify; a man must pay for his experience. Of course, Sowerby thinks it all right; I am bound to suppose so.” And then there had been some further delay as to the amount, and part of the money had been paid to a third person, and a bill had been given, and heaven and the Jews only know how much money Lord Lufton had paid in all; and now it was ended by his handing over to some wretched villain of a money-dealer, on behalf of Mr. Sowerby, the enormous sum of five thousand pounds, which had been deducted from the means of his mother, Lady Lufton!

Mark, as he thought of all this, could not but feel a certain animosity against Mr. Sowerby—could not but suspect that he was a bad man. Nay, must he not have known that he was very bad? And yet he continued walking with him through the duke’s grounds, still talking about Lord Lufton’s affairs, and still listening with interest to what Sowerby told him of his own.

“No man was ever robbed as I have been,” said he. “But I shall win through yet, in spite of them all. But those Jews, Mark”—he had become very intimate with him in these latter days—“whatever you do, keep clear of them. Why, I could paper a room with their signatures; and yet I never had a claim upon one of them, though they always have claims on me!”

I have said above that this affair of Lord Lufton’s was ended; but it now appeared to Mark that it was not quite ended. “Tell Lufton, you know,” said Sowerby, “that every bit of paper with his name has been taken up, except what that ruffian Tozer has. Tozer may have one bill, I believe,—something that was not given up when it was renewed. But I’ll make my lawyer Gumption get that up. It may cost ten pounds or twenty pounds, not more. You’ll remember that when you see Lufton, will you?”

“You’ll see Lufton in all probability before I shall.”

“Oh, did I not tell you? He’s going to Framley Court at once; you’ll find him there when you return.”

“Find him at Framley!”

“Yes; this little cadeau from his mother has touched his filial heart. He is rushing home to Framley to pay back the dowager’s hard moidores in soft caresses. I wish I had a mother; I know that.”

And Mark still felt that he feared Mr. Sowerby, but he could not make up his mind to break away from him.

And there was much talk of politics just then at the castle. Not that the duke joined in it with any enthusiasm. He was a whig—a huge mountain of a colossal whig—all the world knew that. No opponent would[308] have dreamed of tampering with his whiggery, nor would any brother whig have dreamed of doubting it. But he was a whig who gave very little practical support to any set of men, and very little practical opposition to any other set. He was above troubling himself with such sublunar matters. At election time he supported, and always carried, whig candidates; and in return he had been appointed lord lieutenant of the county by one whig minister, and had received the Garter from another. But these things were matters of course to a Duke of Omnium. He was born to be a lord lieutenant and a knight of the Garter.

But not the less on account of his apathy, or rather quiescence, was it thought that Gatherum Castle was a fitting place in which politicians might express to each other their present hopes and future aims, and concoct together little plots in a half-serious and half-mocking way. Indeed it was hinted that Mr. Supplehouse and Harold Smith, with one or two others, were at Gatherum for this express purpose. Mr. Fothergill, too, was a noted politician, and was supposed to know the duke’s mind well; and Mr. Green Walker, the nephew of the marchioness, was a young man whom the duke desired to have brought forward. Mr. Sowerby also was the duke’s own member, and so the occasion suited well for the interchange of a few ideas.

The then prime minister, angry as many men were with him, had not been altogether unsuccessful. He had brought the Russian war to a close, which, if not glorious, was at any rate much more so than Englishmen at one time had ventured to hope. And he had had wonderful luck in that Indian mutiny. It is true that many of those even who voted with him would declare that this was in no way attributable to him. Great men had risen in India and done all that. Even his minister there, the governor whom he had sent out, was not allowed in those days any credit for the success which was achieved under his orders. There was great reason to doubt the man at the helm. But nevertheless he had been lucky. There is no merit in a public man like success!

But now, when the evil days were well nigh over, came the question whether he had not been too successful. When a man has nailed fortune to his chariot-wheels he is apt to travel about in rather a proud fashion. There are servants who think that their masters cannot do without them; and the public also may occasionally have some such servant. What if this too successful minister were one of them!

And then a discreet, commonplace, zealous member of the Lower House does not like to be jeered at, when he does his duty by his constituents and asks a few questions. An all-successful minister who cannot keep his triumph to himself, but must needs drive about in a proud fashion, laughing at commonplace zealous members—laughing even occasionally at members who are by no means commonplace, which is outrageous!—may it not be as well to ostracize him for awhile?

“Had we not better throw in our shells against him?” says Mr. Harold Smith.


“Let us throw in our shells, by all means,” says Mr. Supplehouse, mindful as Juno of his despised charms. And when Mr. Supplehouse declares himself an enemy, men know how much it means. They know that that much-belaboured head of affairs must succumb to the terrible blows which are now in store for him. “Yes, we will throw in our shells.” And Mr. Supplehouse rises from his chair with gleaming eyes. “Has not Greece as noble sons as him? ay, and much nobler, traitor that he is. We must judge a man by his friends,” says Mr. Supplehouse; and he points away to the East, where our dear allies the French are supposed to live, and where our head of affairs is supposed to have too close an intimacy.

They all understand this, even Mr. Green Walker. “I don’t know that he is any good to any of us at all, now,” says the talented member for the Crewe Junction. “He’s a great deal too uppish to suit my book; and I know a great many people that think so too. There’s my uncle——”

“He’s the best fellow in the world,” said Mr. Fothergill, who felt, perhaps, that that coming revelation about Mr. Green Walker’s uncle might not be of use to them; “but the fact is one gets tired of the same man always. One does not like partridge every day. As for me, I have nothing to do with it myself; but I would certainly like to change the dish.”

“If we’re merely to do as we are bid, and have no voice of our own, I don’t see what’s the good of going to the shop at all,” said Mr. Sowerby.

“Not the least use,” said Mr. Supplehouse. “We are false to our constituents in submitting to such a dominion.”

“Let’s have a change, then,” said Mr. Sowerby. “The matter’s pretty much in our own hands.”

“Altogether,” said Mr. Green Walker. “That’s what my uncle always says.”

“The Manchester men will only be too happy for the chance,” said Harold Smith.

“And as for the high and dry gentlemen,” said Mr. Sowerby, “it’s not very likely that they will object to pick up the fruit when we shake the tree.”

“As to picking up the fruit, that’s as may be,” said Mr. Supplehouse. Was he not the man to save the nation; and if so, why should he not pick up the fruit himself? Had not the greatest power in the country pointed him out as such a saviour? What though the country at the present moment needed no more saving, might there not nevertheless be a good time coming? Were there not rumours of other wars still prevalent—if indeed the actual war then going on was being brought to a close without his assistance, by some other species of salvation? He thought of that country to which he had pointed, and of that friend of his enemies, and remembered that there might be still work for a mighty saviour. The public mind was now awake, and understood what it was about. When a man gets into his head an idea that the public voice calls for him, it is astonishing how great becomes his trust in the wisdom of the public. Vox[310] populi vox Dei. “Has it not been so always?” he says to himself, as he gets up and as he goes to bed. And then Mr. Supplehouse felt that he was the master mind there at Gatherum Castle, and that those there were all puppets in his hand. It is such a pleasant thing to feel that one’s friends are puppets, and that the strings are in one’s own possession. But what if Mr. Supplehouse himself were a puppet?

Some months afterwards, when the much-belaboured head of affairs was in very truth made to retire, when unkind shells were thrown in against him in great numbers, when he exclaimed, “Et tu, Brute!” till the words were stereotyped upon his lips, all men in all places talked much about the great Gatherum Castle confederation. The Duke of Omnium, the world said, had taken into his high consideration the state of affairs, and seeing with his eagle’s eye that the welfare of his countrymen at large required that some great step should be initiated, he had at once summoned to his mansion many members of the Lower House, and some also of the House of Lords,—mention was here especially made of the all-venerable and all-wise Lord Boanerges; and men went on to say that there, in deep conclave, he had made known to them his views. It was thus agreed that the head of affairs, whig as he was, must fall. The country required it, and the duke did his duty. This was the beginning, the world said, of that celebrated confederation, by which the ministry was overturned, and—as the Goody Twoshoes added,—the country saved. But the Jupiter took all the credit to itself; and the Jupiter was not far wrong. All the credit was due to the Jupiter—in that, as in everything else.

In the meantime the Duke of Omnium entertained his guests in the quiet princely style, but did not condescend to have much conversation on politics either with Mr. Supplehouse or with Mr. Harold Smith. And as for Lord Boanerges, he spent the morning on which the above-described conversation took place in teaching Miss Dunstable to blow soap-bubbles on scientific principles.

“Dear, dear!” said Miss Dunstable, as sparks of knowledge came flying in upon her mind. “I always thought that a soap-bubble was a soap-bubble, and I never asked the reason why. One doesn’t, you know, my lord.”

“Pardon me, Miss Dunstable,” said the old lord, “one does; but nine hundred and ninety-nine do not.”

“And the nine hundred and ninety-nine have the best of it,” said Miss Dunstable. “What pleasure can one have in a ghost after one has seen the phosphorus rubbed on?”

“Quite true, my dear lady. ‘If ignorance be bliss, ’tis folly to be wise.’ It all lies in the ‘if.’”

Then Miss Dunstable began to sing:—

“‘What tho’ I trace each herb and flower
That sips the morning dew—’

—you know the rest, my lord.”


Lord Boanerges did know almost everything, but he did not know that; and so Miss Dunstable went on:—

“‘Did I not own Jehovah’s power
How vain were all I know.’”

“Exactly, exactly, Miss Dunstable,” said his lordship; “but why not own the power and trace the flower as well? perhaps one might help the other.”

Upon the whole I am afraid that Lord Boanerges got the best of it. But then that is his line. He has been getting the best of it all his life.

It was observed by all that the duke was especially attentive to young Mr. Frank Gresham, the gentleman on whom and on whose wife Miss Dunstable had seized so vehemently. This Mr. Gresham was the richest commoner in the county, and it was rumoured that at the next election he would be one of the members for the East Riding. Now the duke had little or nothing to do with the East Riding, and it was well known that young Gresham would be brought forward as a strong conservative. But nevertheless, his acres were so extensive and his money so plentiful that he was worth a duke’s notice. Mr. Sowerby also was almost more than civil to him, as was natural, seeing that this very young man by a mere scratch of his pen could turn a scrap of paper into a bank-note of almost fabulous value.

“So you have the East Barsetshire hounds at Boxall hill; have you not?” said the duke.

“The hounds are there,” said Frank. “But I am not the master.”

“Oh! I understood——”

“My father has them. But he finds Boxall hill more centrical than Greshamsbury. The dogs and horses have to go shorter distances.”

“Boxall hill is very centrical.”

“Oh, exactly!”

“And your young gorse coverts are doing well?”

“Pretty well—gorse won’t thrive everywhere I find. I wish it would.”

“That’s just what I say to Fothergill; and then where there’s much woodland you can’t get the vermin to leave it.”

“But we haven’t a tree at Boxall hill,” said Mrs. Gresham.

“Ah, yes; you’re new there, certainly; you’ve enough of it at Greshamsbury in all conscience. There’s a larger extent of wood there than we have; isn’t there, Fothergill?”

Mr. Fothergill said that the Greshamsbury woods were very extensive, but that, perhaps, he thought——

“Oh, ah! I know,” said the duke. “The Black Forest in its old days was nothing to Gatherum woods, according to Fothergill. And then again, nothing in East Barsetshire could be equal to anything in West Barsetshire. Isn’t that it; eh, Fothergill?”

Mr. Fothergill professed that he had been brought up in that faith and intended to die in it.

“Your exotics at Boxall hill are very fine, magnificent!” said Mr. Sowerby.


“I’d sooner have one full-grown oak standing in its pride alone,” said young Gresham, rather grandiloquently, “than all the exotics in the world.”

“They’ll come in due time,” said the duke.

“But the due time won’t be in my days. And so they’re going to cut down Chaldicotes forest; are they, Mr. Sowerby?”

“Well, I can’t tell you that. They are going to disforest it. I have been ranger since I was twenty-two, and I don’t yet know whether that means cutting down.”

“Not only cutting down, but rooting up,” said Mr. Fothergill.

“It’s a murderous shame,” said Frank Gresham; “and I will say one thing, I don’t think any but a whig government would do it.”

“Ha, ha, ha!” laughed his grace. “At any rate I’m sure of this,” he said, “that if a conservative government did do so, the whigs would be just as indignant as you are now.”

“I’ll tell you what you ought to do, Mr. Gresham,” said Sowerby: “put in an offer for the whole of the West Barsetshire crown property; they will be very glad to sell it.”

“And we should be delighted to welcome you on this side of the border,” said the duke.

Young Gresham did feel rather flattered. There were not many men in the county to whom such an offer could be made without an absurdity. It might be doubted whether the duke himself could purchase the Chase of Chaldicotes with ready money; but that he, Gresham, could do so—he and his wife between them—no man did doubt. And then Mr. Gresham thought of a former day when he had once been at Gatherum Castle. He had been poor enough then, and the duke had not treated him in the most courteous manner in the world. How hard it is for a rich man not to lean upon his riches! harder, indeed, than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle.

All Barsetshire knew—at any rate all West Barsetshire—that Miss Dunstable had been brought down in those parts in order that Mr. Sowerby might marry her. It was not surmised that Miss Dunstable herself had had any previous notice of this arrangement, but it was supposed that the thing would turn out as a matter of course. Mr. Sowerby had no money, but then he was witty, clever, good-looking, and a member of parliament. He lived before the world, represented an old family, and had an old place. How could Miss Dunstable possibly do better? She was not so young now, and it was time that she should look about her.

The suggestion as regarded Mr. Sowerby was certainly true, and was not the less so as regarded some of Mr. Sowerby’s friends. His sister, Mrs. Harold Smith, had devoted herself to the work, and with this view had run up a dear friendship with Miss Dunstable. The bishop had intimated, nodding his head knowingly, that it would be a very good thing. Mrs. Proudie had given in her adherence. Mr. Supplehouse had been made to understand that it must be a case of “Paws off” with him,[313] as long as he remained in that part of the world; and even the duke himself had desired Fothergill to manage it.

“He owes me an enormous sum of money,” said the duke who held all Mr. Sowerby’s title-deeds, “and I doubt whether the security will be sufficient.”

“Your grace will find the security quite sufficient,” said Mr. Fothergill; “but nevertheless it would be a good match.”

“Very good,” said the duke. And then it became Mr. Fothergill’s duty to see that Mr. Sowerby and Miss Dunstable became man and wife as speedily as possible.

Some of the party, who were more wide awake than others, declared that he had made the offer; others, that he was just going to do so; and one very knowing lady went so far at one time as to say that he was making it at that moment. Bets also were laid as to the lady’s answer, as to the terms of the settlement, and as to the period of the marriage,—of all which poor Miss Dunstable of course knew nothing.

Mr. Sowerby, in spite of the publicity of his proceedings, proceeded in the matter very well. He said little about it to those who joked with him, but carried on the fight with what best knowledge he had in such matters. But so much it is given to us to declare with certainty, that he had not proposed on the evening previous to the morning fixed for the departure of Mark Robarts.

During the last two days Mr. Sowerby’s intimacy with Mark had grown warmer and warmer. He had talked to the vicar confidentially about the doings of these bigwigs now present at the castle, as though there were no other guest there with whom he could speak in so free a manner. He confided, it seemed, much more in Mark than in his brother-in-law, Harold Smith, or in any of his brother members of parliament, and had altogether opened his heart to him in this affair of his anticipated marriage. Now Mr. Sowerby was a man of mark in the world, and all this flattered our young clergyman not a little.

On that evening before Robarts went away Sowerby asked him to come up into his bedroom when the whole party was breaking up, and there got him into an easy-chair while he, Sowerby, walked up and down the room.

“You can hardly tell, my dear fellow,” said he, “the state of nervous anxiety in which this puts me.”

“Why don’t you ask her and have done with it? She seems to me to be fond of your society.”

“Ah, it is not that only; there are wheels within wheels;” and then he walked once or twice up and down the room, during which Mark thought that he might as well go to bed.

“Not that I mind telling you everything,” said Sowerby. “I am infernally hard up for a little ready money just at the present moment. It may be, and indeed I think it will be, the case that I shall be ruined in this matter for the want of it.”


“Could not Harold Smith give it you?”

“Ha, ha, ha! you don’t know Harold Smith. Did you ever hear of his lending a man a shilling in his life?”

“Or Supplehouse?”

“Lord love you! You see me and Supplehouse together here, and he comes and stays at my house, and all that; but Supplehouse and I are no friends. Look you here, Mark. I would do more for your little finger than for his whole hand, including the pen which he holds in it. Fothergill indeed might—but then I know Fothergill is pressed himself at the present moment. It is deuced hard, isn’t it? I must give up the whole game if I can’t put my hand upon 400l. within the next two days.”

“Ask her for it, herself.”

“What, the woman I wish to marry! No, Mark, I’m not quite come to that. I would sooner lose her than that.”

Mark sat silent, gazing at the fire and wishing that he was in his own bedroom. He had an idea that Mr. Sowerby wished him to produce this 400l.; and he knew also that he had not 400l. in the world, and that if he had he would be acting very foolishly to give it to Mr. Sowerby. But nevertheless he felt half fascinated by the man, and half afraid of him.

“Lufton owes it to me to do more than this,” continued Mr. Sowerby; “but then Lufton is not here?”

“Why, he has just paid five thousand pounds for you.”

“Paid five thousand pounds for me! Indeed he has done no such thing: not a sixpence of it came into my hands. Believe me, Mark, you don’t know the whole of that yet. Not that I mean to say a word against Lufton. He is the soul of honour; though so deucedly dilatory in money matters. He thought he was right all through that affair, but no man was ever so confoundedly wrong. Why, don’t you remember that that was the very view you took of it yourself?”

“I remember saying that I thought he was mistaken.”

“Of course he was mistaken. And dearly the mistake cost me. I had to make good the money for two or three years. And my property is not like his. I wish it were.”

“Marry Miss Dunstable, and that will set it all right for you.”

“Ah! so I would if I had this money. At any rate I would bring it to the point. Now, I tell you what, Mark; if you’ll assist me at this strait I’ll never forget it. And the time will come round when I may be able to do something for you.”

“I have not got a hundred, no, not fifty pounds by me in the world.”

“Of course you’ve not. Men don’t walk about the streets with 400l. in their pockets. I don’t suppose there’s a single man here in the house with such a sum at his bankers’, unless it be the duke.”

“What is it you want then?”

“Why, your name to be sure. Believe me, my dear follow, I would[315] not ask you really to put your hand into your pocket to such a tune as that. Allow me to draw on you for that amount at three months. Long before that time I shall be flush enough.” And then, before Mark could answer, he had a bill stamp and pen and ink out on the table before him, and was filling in the bill as though his friend had already given his consent.

“Upon my word, Sowerby, I had rather not do that.”

“Why! what are you afraid of?”—Mr. Sowerby asked this very sharply. “Did you ever hear of my having neglected to take up a bill when it fell due?” Robarts thought that he had heard of such a thing; but in his confusion he was not exactly sure, and so he said nothing.

“No, my boy; I have not come to that. Look here: just you write, ‘Accepted, Mark Robarts,’ across that, and then you shall never hear of the transaction again;—and you will have obliged me for ever.”

“As a clergyman it would be wrong of me,” said Robarts.

“As a clergyman! Come, Mark! If you don’t like to do as much as that for a friend, say so; but don’t let us have that sort of humbug. If there be one class of men whose names would be found more frequent on the backs of bills in the provincial banks than another, clergymen are that class. Come, old fellow, you won’t throw me over when I am so hard pushed.”

Mark Robarts took the pen and signed the bill. It was the first time in his life that he had ever done such an act. Sowerby then shook him cordially by the hand, and he walked off to his own bedroom a wretched man.

The Vicar’s Return.

The next morning Mr. Robarts took leave of all his grand friends with a heavy heart. He had lain awake half the night thinking of what he had done and trying to reconcile himself to his position. He had not well left Mr. Sowerby’s room before he felt certain that at the end of three months he would again be troubled about that 400l. As he went along the passage all the man’s known antecedents crowded upon him much quicker than he could remember them when seated in that armchair with the bill stamp before him, and the pen and ink ready to his hand. He remembered what Lord Lufton had told him—how he had complained of having been left in the lurch; he thought of all the stories current through the entire county as to the impossibility of getting money from Chaldicotes; he brought to mind the known character of the man, and then he knew that he must prepare himself to make good a portion at least of that heavy payment.

Why had he come to this horrid place? Had he not everything at home at Framley which the heart of man could desire? No; the heart of[316] man can desire deaneries—the heart, that is, of the man vicar; and the heart of the man dean can desire bishoprics; and before the eyes of the man bishop does there not loom the transcendental glory of Lambeth? He had owned to himself that he was ambitious; but he had to own to himself now also that he had hitherto taken but a sorry path towards the object of his ambition.

On the next morning at breakfast-time, before his horse and gig arrived for him, no one was so bright as his friend Sowerby. “So you are off, are you?” said he.

“Yes, I shall go this morning.”

“Say everything that’s kind from me to Lufton. I may possibly see him out hunting; otherwise we shan’t meet till the spring. As to my going to Framley, that’s out of the question. Her ladyship would look for my tail, and swear that she smelt brimstone. By-bye, old fellow!”

The German student when he first made his bargain with the devil felt an indescribable attraction to his new friend; and such was the case now with Robarts. He shook Sowerby’s hand very warmly, said that he hoped he should meet him soon somewhere, and professed himself specially anxious to hear how that affair with the lady came off. As he had made his bargain—as he had undertaken to pay nearly half-a-year’s income for his dear friend, ought he not to have as much value as possible for his money? If the dear friendship of this flash member of Parliament did not represent that value, what else did do so? But then he felt, or fancied that he felt, that Mr. Sowerby did not care for him so much this morning as he had done on the previous evening. “By-bye,” said Mr. Sowerby, but he spoke no word as to such future meetings, nor did he even promise to write. Mr. Sowerby probably had many things on his mind; and it might be that it behoved him, having finished one piece of business, immediately to look to another.

The sum for which Robarts had made himself responsible—which he so much feared that he would be called upon to pay, was very nearly half-a-year’s income; and as yet he had not put by one shilling since he had been married. When he found himself settled in his parsonage, he found also that all the world regarded him as a rich man. He had taken the dictum of all the world as true, and had set himself to work to live comfortably. He had no absolute need of a curate; but he could afford the 70l.—as Lady Lufton had said rather injudiciously; and by keeping Jones in the parish he would be acting charitably to a brother clergyman, and would also place himself in a more independent position. Lady Lufton had wished to see her pet clergyman well-to-do and comfortable; but now, as matters had turned out, she much regretted this affair of the curate. Mr. Jones, she said to herself, more than once, must be made to depart from Framley.

He had given his wife a pony-carriage, and for himself he had a saddle-horse, and a second horse for his gig. A man in his position, well-to-do as he was, required as much as that. He had a footman also, and a[317] gardener, and a groom. The two latter were absolutely necessary, but about the former there had been a question. His wife had been decidedly hostile to the footman; but, in all such matters as that, to doubt is to be lost. When the footman had been discussed for a week it became quite clear to the master that he also was a necessary.

As he drove home that morning he pronounced to himself the doom of that footman, and the doom also of that saddle-horse. They at any rate should go. And then he would spend no more money in trips to Scotland; and above all, he would keep out of the bedrooms of impoverished members of parliament at the witching hour of midnight. Such resolves did he make to himself as he drove home; and bethought himself wearily how that 400l. might be made to be forthcoming. As to any assistance in the matter from Sowerby,—of that he gave himself no promise.

But he almost felt himself happy again as his wife came out into the porch to meet him, with a silk shawl over her head, and pretending to shiver as she watched him descending from his gig.

“My dear old man,” she said, as she led him into the warm drawing-room with all his wrappings still about him, “you must be starved.” But Mark during the whole drive had been thinking too much of that transaction in Mr. Sowerby’s bedroom to remember that the air was cold. Now he had his arm round his own dear Fanny’s waist; but was he to tell her of that transaction? At any rate he would not do it now, while his two boys were in his arms, rubbing the moisture from his whiskers with their kisses. After all, what is there equal to that coming home?

“And so Lufton is here. I say, Frank, gently old boy,”—Frank was his eldest son—“you’ll have baby into the fender.”

“Let me take baby; it’s impossible to hold the two of them, they are so strong,” said the proud mother. “Oh, yes, he came home early yesterday.”

“Have you seen him?”

“He was here yesterday, with her ladyship; and I lunched there to-day. The letter came, you know, in time to stop the Merediths. They don’t go till to-morrow, so you will meet them after all. Sir George is wild about it, but Lady Lufton would have her way. You never saw her in such a state as she is.”

“Good spirits, eh?”

“I should think so. All Lord Lufton’s horses are coming and he’s to be here till March.”

“Till March!”

“So her ladyship whispered to me. She could not conceal her triumph at his coming. He’s going to give up Leicestershire this year altogether. I wonder what has brought it all about?” Mark knew very well what had brought it about; he had been made acquainted, as the reader has also, with the price at which Lady Lufton had purchased her son’s visit. But no one had told Mrs. Robarts that the mother had made her son a present of five thousand pounds.


“She’s in a good humour about everything now,” continued Fanny; “so you need say nothing at all about Gatherum Castle.”

“But she was very angry when she first heard it; was she not?”

“Well, Mark, to tell the truth she was; and we had quite a scene there up in her own room up-stairs,—Justinia and I. She had heard something else that she did not like at the same time; and then—but you know her way. She blazed up quite hot.”

“And said all manner of horrid things about me.”

“About the duke she did. You know she never did like the duke; and for the matter of that, neither do I. I tell you that fairly, Master Mark!”

“The duke is not so bad as he’s painted.”

“Ah, that’s what you say about another great person. However, he won’t come here to trouble us, I suppose. And then I left her, not in the best temper in the world; for I blazed up too, you must know.”

“I am sure you did,” said Mark, pressing his arm round her waist.

“And then we were going to have a dreadful war, I thought; and I came home and wrote such a doleful letter to you. But what should happen when I had just closed it, but in came her ladyship—all alone, and——. But I can’t tell you what she did or said, only she behaved beautifully; just like herself too; so full of love and truth and honesty. There’s nobody like her, Mark; and she’s better than all the dukes that ever wore—whatever dukes do wear.”

“Horns and hoofs; that’s their usual apparel, according to you and Lady Lufton,” said he, remembering what Mr. Sowerby had said of himself.

“You may say what you like about me, Mark, but you shan’t abuse Lady Lufton. And if horns and hoofs mean wickedness and dissipation, I believe it’s not far wrong. But get off your big coat and make yourself comfortable.” And that was all the scolding that Mark Robarts got from his wife on the occasion of his great iniquity.

“I will certainly tell her about this bill transaction,” he said to himself; “but not to-day; not till after I have seen Lufton.”

That evening they dined at Framley Court, and there they met the young lord; they found also Lady Lufton still in high good humour. Lord Lufton himself was a fine bright-looking young man; not so tall as Mark Robarts, and with perhaps less intelligence marked on his face; but his features were finer, and there was in his countenance a thorough appearance of good humour and sweet temper. It was, indeed, a pleasant face to look upon, and dearly Lady Lufton loved to gaze at it.

“Well, Mark, so you have been among the Philistines?” that was his lordship’s first remark. Robarts laughed as he took his friend’s hands, and bethought himself how truly that was the case; that he was, in very truth, already “himself in bonds under Philistian yoke.” Alas, alas, it is very hard to break asunder the bonds of the latter-day Philistines. When a Samson does now and then pull a temple down about their ears, is he not sure to be engulfed in the ruin with them? There is no horseleech that sticks so fast as your latter-day Philistine.


“So you have caught Sir George, after all,” said Lady Lufton, and that was nearly all she did say in allusion to his absence. There was afterwards some conversation about the lecture, and from her ladyship’s remarks, it certainly was apparent that she did not like the people among whom the vicar had been lately staying; but she said no word that was personal to him himself, or that could be taken as a reproach. The little episode of Mrs. Proudie’s address in the lecture-room had already reached Framley, and it was only to be expected that Lady Lufton should enjoy the joke. She would affect to believe that the body of the lecture had been given by the bishop’s wife; and afterwards when Mark described her costume at that Sunday morning breakfast-table, Lady Lufton would assume that such had been the dress in which she had exercised her faculties in public.

“I would have given a five-pound note to have heard it,” said Sir George.

“So would not I,” said Lady Lufton. “When one hears of such things described so graphically as Mr. Robarts now tells it, one can hardly help laughing. But it would give me great pain to see the wife of one of our bishops place herself in such a situation. For he is a bishop after all.”

“Well, upon my word, my lady, I agree with Meredith,” said Lord Lufton.—“It must have been good fun. As it did happen, you know,—as the church was doomed to the disgrace, I should like to have heard it.”

“I know you would have been shocked, Ludovic.”

“I should have got over that in time, mother. It would have been like a bull fight I suppose, horrible to see no doubt, but extremely interesting—And Harold Smith, Mark; what did he do all the while?”

“It didn’t take so very long, you know,” said Robarts.

“And the poor bishop,” said Lady Meredith; “how did he look? I really do pity him.”

“Well, he was asleep, I think.”

“What, slept through it all?” said Sir George.

“It awakened him; and then he jumped up and said something.”

“What, out loud too?”

“Only one word or so.”

“What a disgraceful scene!” said Lady Lufton. “To those who remember the good old man who was in the diocese before him it is perfectly shocking. He confirmed you, Ludovic, and you ought to remember him. It was over at Barchester, and you went and lunched with him afterwards.”

“I do remember; and especially this, that I never ate such tarts in my life, before or since. The old man particularly called my attention to them, and seemed remarkably pleased that I concurred in his sentiments. There are no such tarts as those going in the palace now, I’ll be bound.”

“Mrs. Proudie will be very happy to do her best for you if you will go and try,” said Sir George.

“I beg that he will do no such thing,” said Lady Lufton, and that was the only severe word she said about any of Mark’s visitings.


As Sir George Meredith was there, Robarts could say nothing then to Lord Lufton about Mr. Sowerby and Mr. Sowerby’s money affairs; but he did make an appointment for a tête-à-tête on the next morning.

“You must come down and see my nags, Mark; they came to-day. The Merediths will be off at twelve, and then we can have an hour together.” Mark said he would, and then went home with his wife under his arm.

“Well, now, is not she kind?” said Fanny, as soon as they were out on the gravel together.

“She is kind; kinder than I can tell you just at present. But did you ever know anything so bitter as she is to the poor bishop? And really the bishop is not so bad.”

“Yes; I know something much more bitter; and that is what she thinks of the bishop’s wife. And you know, Mark, it was so unladylike, her getting up in that way. What must the people of Barchester think of her?”

“As far as I could see the people of Barchester liked it.”

“Nonsense, Mark; they could not. But never mind that now. I want you to own that she is good.” And then Mrs. Robarts went on with another long eulogy on the dowager. Since that affair of the pardon-begging at the parsonage Mrs. Robarts hardly knew how to think well enough of her friend. And the evening had been so pleasant after the dreadful storm and threatenings of hurricanes; her husband had been so well received after his lapse of judgment; the wounds that had looked so sore had been so thoroughly healed, and everything was so pleasant. How all of this would have been changed had she had known of that little bill!

At twelve the next morning the lord and the vicar were walking through the Framley stables together. Quite a commotion had been made there, for the larger portion of these buildings had of late years seldom been used. But now all was crowding and activity. Seven or eight very precious animals had followed Lord Lufton from Leicestershire, and all of them required dimensions that were thought to be rather excessive by the Framley old-fashioned groom. My lord, however, had a head man of his own who took the matter quite into his own hands.

Mark, priest as he was, was quite worldly enough to be fond of a good horse; and for some little time allowed Lord Lufton to descant on the merit of this four-year-old filly, and that magnificent Rattlebones colt, out of a Mousetrap mare; but he had other things that lay heavy on his mind, and after bestowing half an hour on the stud, he contrived to get his friend away to the shrubbery walks.

“So you have settled with Sowerby,” Robarts began by saying.

“Settled with him; yes, but do you know the price?”

“I believe that you have paid five thousand pounds.”

“Yes, and about three before; and that in a matter in which I did not really owe one shilling. Whatever I do in future, I’ll keep out of Sowerby’s grip.”


“But you don’t think he has been unfair to you.”

“Mark, to tell you the truth I have banished the affair from my mind, and don’t wish to take it up again. My mother has paid the money to save the property, and of course I must pay her back. But I think I may promise that I will not have any more money dealings with Sowerby. I will not say that he is dishonest, but at any rate he is sharp.”

“Well, Lufton; what will you say when I tell you that I have put my name to a bill for him, for four hundred pounds.”

“Say; why I should say——; but you’re joking; a man in your position would never do such a thing.”

“But I have done it.”

Lord Lufton gave a long low whistle.

“He asked me the last night that I was there, making a great favour of it, and declaring that no bill of his had ever yet been dishonoured.”

Lord Lufton whistled again. “No bill of his dishonoured! Why the pocket-books of the Jews are stuffed full of his dishonoured papers! And you have really given him your name for four hundred pounds?”

“I have certainly.”

“At what date?”

“Three months.”

“And have you thought where you are to get the money?”

“I know very well that I can’t get it; not at least by that time. The bankers must renew it for me, and I must pay it by degrees. That is, if Sowerby really does not take it up.”

“It is just as likely that he will take up the national debt.”

Robarts then told him about the projected marriage with Miss Dunstable, giving it as his opinion that the lady would probably accept the gentleman.

“Not at all improbable,” said his lordship, “for Sowerby is an agreeable fellow; and if it be so, he will have all that he wants for life. But his creditors will gain nothing. The duke, who has his title-deeds, will doubtless get his money, and the estate will in fact belong to the wife. But the small fry, such as you, will not get a shilling.”

Poor Mark! He had had an inkling of this before; but it had hardly presented itself to him in such certain terms. It was, then, a positive fact, that in punishment for his weakness in having signed that bill he would have to pay, not only four hundred pounds, but four hundred pounds with interest, and expenses of renewal, and commission, and bill stamps. Yes; he had certainly got among the Philistines during that visit of his to the duke. It began to appear to him pretty clearly that it would have been better for him to have relinquished altogether the glories of Chaldicotes and Gatherum Castle.

And now, how was he to tell his wife?


Sir Joshua and Holbein.

Long ago discarded from our National Gallery, with the contempt logically due to national or English pictures,—lost to sight and memory for many a year in the Ogygian seclusions of Marlborough House—there have reappeared at last, in more honourable exile at Kensington, two great pictures by Sir Joshua Reynolds. Two, with others; but these alone worth many an entanglement among the cross-roads of the West, to see for half-an-hour by spring sunshine:—the Holy Family, and the Graces, side by side now in the principal room. Great, as ever was work wrought by man. In placid strength, and subtlest science, unsurpassed;—in sweet felicity, incomparable.

If you truly want to know what good work of painter’s hand is, study those two pictures from side to side, and miss no inch of them (you will hardly, eventually, be inclined to miss one): in some respects there is no execution like it; none so open in the magic. For the work of other great men is hidden in its wonderfulness—you cannot see how it was done. But in Sir Joshua’s there is no mystery: it is all amazement. No question but that the touch was so laid; only that it could have been so laid, is a marvel for ever. So also there is no painting so majestic in sweetness. He is lily-sceptred: his power blossoms, but burdens not. All other men of equal dignity paint more slowly; all others of equal force paint less lightly. Tintoret lays his line like a king marking the boundaries of conquered lands; but Sir Joshua leaves it as a summer wind its trace on a lake; he could have painted on a silken veil, where it fell free, and not bent it.

Such at least is his touch when it is life that he paints: for things lifeless he has a severer hand. If you examine that picture of the Graces you will find it reverses all the ordinary ideas of expedient treatment. By other men flesh is firmly painted, but accessories lightly. Sir Joshua paints accessories firmly,[20] flesh lightly;—nay, flesh not at all, but spirit. The wreath of flowers he feels to be material; and gleam by gleam strikes fearlessly the silver and violet leaves out of the darkness. But the three maidens are less substantial than rose petals. No flushed nor frosted tissue that ever faded in night wind is so tender as they; no hue may reach, no line measure, what is in them so gracious and so fair. Let the hand move softly—itself as a spirit; for this is Life, of which it touches the imagery.

“And yet——”

Yes: you do well to pause. There is a “yet” to be thought of. I[323] did not bring you to these pictures to see wonderful work merely, or womanly beauty merely. I brought you chiefly to look at that Madonna, believing that you might remember other Madonnas, unlike her; and might think it desirable to consider wherein the difference lay:—other Madonnas not by Sir Joshua, who painted Madonnas but seldom. Who perhaps, if truth must be told, painted them never: for surely this dearest pet of an English girl, with the little curl of lovely hair under her ear, is not one.

Why did not Sir Joshua—or could not—or would not Sir Joshua—paint Madonnas? neither he, nor his great rival-friend Gainsborough? Both of them painters of women, such as since Giorgione and Correggio had not been; both painters of men, such as had not been since Titian. How is it that these English friends can so brightly paint that particular order of humanity which we call “gentlemen and ladies,” but neither heroes, nor saints, nor angels? Can it be because they were both country-bred boys, and for ever after strangely sensitive to courtliness? Why, Giotto also was a country-bred boy. Allegri’s native Correggio, Titian’s Cadore, were but hill villages; yet these men painted, not the court, nor the drawing-room, but the Earth: and not a little of Heaven besides: while our good Sir Joshua never trusts himself outside the park palings. He could not even have drawn the strawberry girl, unless she had got through a gap in them—or rather, I think, she must have been let in at the porter’s lodge, for her strawberries are in a pottle, ready for the ladies at the Hall. Giorgione would have set them, wild and fragrant, among their leaves, in her hand. Between his fairness, and Sir Joshua’s May-fairness, there is a strange, impassable limit—as of the white reef that in Pacific isles encircles their inner lakelets, and shuts them from the surf and sound of sea. Clear and calm they rest, reflecting fringed shadows of the palm-trees, and the passing of fretted clouds across their own sweet circle of blue sky. But beyond, and round and round their coral bar, lies the blue of sea and heaven together—blue of eternal deep.

You will find it a pregnant question, if you follow it forth, and leading to many others, not trivial, Why it is, that in Sir Joshua’s girl, or Gainsborough’s, we always think first of the Ladyhood; but in Giotto’s, of the Womanhood? Why, in Sir Joshua’s hero, or Vandyck’s, it is always the Prince or the Sir whom we see first; but in Titian’s, the man.

Not that Titian’s gentlemen are less finished than Sir Joshua’s; but their gentlemanliness[21] is not the principal thing about them; their manhood absorbs, conquers, wears it as a despised thing. Nor—and this is another stern ground of separation—will Titian make a gentleman of every[324] one he paints. He will make him so if he is so, not otherwise; and this not merely in general servitude to truth, but because in his sympathy with deeper humanity, the courtier is not more interesting to him than any one else. “You have learned to dance and fence; you can speak with clearness, and think with precision; your hands are small, your senses acute, and your features well-shaped. Yes: I see all this in you, and will do it justice. You shall stand as none but a well-bred man could stand; and your fingers shall fall on the sword-hilt as no fingers could but those that knew the grasp of it. But for the rest, this grisly fisherman, with rusty cheek and rope-frayed hand, is a man as well as you, and might possibly make several of you, if souls were divisible. His bronze colour is quite as interesting to me, Titian, as your paleness, and his hoary spray of stormy hair takes the light as well as your waving curls. Him also I will paint, with such picturesqueness as he may have; yet not putting the picturesqueness first in him, as in you I have not put the gentlemanliness first. In him I see a strong human creature, contending with all hardship: in you also a human creature, uncontending, and possibly not strong. Contention or strength, weakness or picturesqueness, and all other such accidents in either, shall have due place. But the immortality and miracle of you—this clay that burns, this colour that changes—are in truth the awful things in both: these shall be first painted—and last.”

With which question respecting treatment of character we have to connect also this further one: How is it that the attempts of so great painters as Reynolds and Gainsborough are, beyond portraiture, limited almost like children’s. No domestic drama—no history—no noble natural scenes, far less any religious subject:—only market carts; girls with pigs; woodmen going home to supper; watering-places; grey cart-horses in fields, and such like. Reynolds, indeed, once or twice touched higher themes,—“among the chords his fingers laid,” and recoiled: wisely; for, strange to say, his very sensibility deserts him when he leaves his courtly quiet. The horror of the subjects he chose (Cardinal Beaufort and Ugolino) showed inherent apathy: had he felt deeply, he would not have sought for this strongest possible excitement of feeling,—would not willingly have dwelt on the worst conditions of despair—the despair of the ignoble. His religious subjects are conceived even with less care than these. Beautiful as it is, this Holy Family by which we stand has neither dignity nor sacredness, other than those which attach to every group of gentle mother and ruddy babe; while his Faiths, Charities or other well-ordered and emblem-fitted virtues are even less lovely than his ordinary portraits of women.

It was a faultful temper, which, having so mighty a power of realization at command, never became so much interested in any fact of human history as to spend one touch of heartfelt skill upon it;—which, yielding momentarily to indolent imagination, ended, at best, in a Puck, or a Thais; a Mercury as Thief, or a Cupid as Linkboy. How wide the interval[325] between this gently trivial humour, guided by the wave of a feather, or arrested by the enchantment of a smile,—and the habitual dwelling of the thoughts of the great Greeks and Florentines among the beings and the interests of the eternal world!

In some degree it may indeed be true that the modesty and sense of the English painters are the causes of their simple practice. All that they did, they did well, and attempted nothing over which conquest was doubtful. They knew they could paint men and women: it did not follow that they could paint angels. Their own gifts never appeared to them so great as to call for serious question as to the use to be made of them. “They could mix colours and catch likeness—yes; but were they therefore able to teach religion, or reform the world? To support themselves honourably, pass the hours of life happily, please their friends, and leave no enemies, was not this all that duty could require, or prudence recommend? Their own art was, it seemed, difficult enough to employ all their genius: was it reasonable to hope also to be poets or theologians? Such men had, indeed, existed; but the age of miracles and prophets was long past; nor, because they could seize the trick of an expression, or the turn of a head, had they any right to think themselves able to conceive heroes with Homer, or gods with Michael Angelo.”

Such was, in the main, their feeling: wise, modest, unenvious, and unambitious. Meaner men, their contemporaries or successors, raved of high art with incoherent passion; arrogated to themselves an equality with the masters of elder time, and declaimed against the degenerate tastes of a public which acknowledged not the return of the Heraclidæ. But the two great—the two only painters of their age—happy in a reputation founded as deeply in the heart as in the judgment of mankind, demanded no higher function than that of soothing the domestic affections; and achieved for themselves at last an immortality not the less noble, because in their lifetime they had concerned themselves less to claim it than to bestow.

Yet, while we acknowledge the discretion and simple-heartedness of these men, honouring them for both: and the more when we compare their tranquil powers with the hot egotism and hollow ambition of their inferiors: we have to remember, on the other hand, that the measure they thus set to their aims was, if a just, yet a narrow one; that amiable discretion is not the highest virtue, nor to please the frivolous, the best success. There is probably some strange weakness in the painter, and some fatal error in the age, when in thinking over the examples of their greatest work, for some type of culminating loveliness or veracity, we remember no expression either of religion or heroism, and instead of reverently naming a Madonna di San Sisto, can only whisper, modestly, “Mrs. Pelham feeding chickens.”

The nature of the fault, so far as it exists in the painters themselves, may perhaps best be discerned by comparing them with a man who[326] went not far beyond them in his general range of effort, but who did all his work in a wholly different temper—Hans Holbein.

The first great difference between them is of course in completeness of execution. Sir Joshua’s and Gainsborough’s work, at its best, is only magnificent sketching; giving indeed, in places, a perfection of result unattainable by other methods, and possessing always a charm of grace and power exclusively its own: yet, in its slightness addressing itself, purposefully, to the casual glance, and common thought—eager to arrest the passer-by, but careless to detain him; or detaining him, if at all, by an unexplained enchantment, not by continuance of teaching, or development of idea. But the work of Holbein is true and thorough; accomplished, in the highest as the most literal sense, with a calm entireness of unaffected resolution, which sacrifices nothing, forgets nothing, and fears nothing.

In the portrait of the Hausmann George Gyzen,[22] every accessory is perfect with a fine perfection: the carnations in the glass vase by his side—the ball of gold, chased with blue enamel, suspended on the wall—the books—the steelyard—the papers on the table, the seal-ring, with its quartered bearings,—all intensely there, and there in beauty of which no one could have dreamed that even flowers or gold were capable, far less parchment or steel. But every change of shade is felt, every rich and rubied line of petal followed; every subdued gleam in the soft blue of the enamel and bending of the gold touched with a hand whose patience of regard creates rather than paints. The jewel itself was not so precious as the rays of enduring light which form it, and flash from it, beneath that errorless hand. The man himself, what he was—not more; but to all conceivable proof of sight—in all aspect of life or thought—not less. He sits alone in his accustomed room, his common work laid out before him; he is conscious of no presence, assumes no dignity, bears no sudden or superficial look of care or interest, lives only as he lived—but for ever.

The time occupied in painting this portrait was probably twenty times greater than Sir Joshua ever spent on a single picture, however large. The result is, to the general spectator, less attractive. In some qualities of force and grace it is absolutely inferior. But it is inexhaustible. Every detail of it wins, retains, rewards the attention with a continually increasing sense of wonderfulness. It is also wholly true. So far as it reaches, it contains the absolute facts of colour, form, and character, rendered with an unaccuseable faithfulness. There is no question respecting things which it is best worth while to know, or things which it is unnecessary to state, or which might be overlooked with advantage. What of this man and his house were visible to Holbein, are visible to us: we may despise if we will; deny or doubt, we shall not; if we care to know anything concerning them, great or small,[327] so much as may by the eye be known is for ever knowable, reliable, indisputable.

Respecting the advantage, or the contrary, of so great earnestness in drawing a portrait of an uncelebrated person, we raise at present no debate: I only wish the reader to note this quality of earnestness, as entirely separating Holbein from Sir Joshua,—raising him into another sphere of intellect. For here is no question of mere difference in style or in power, none of minuteness or largeness. It is a question of Entireness. Holbein is complete in intellect: what he sees, he sees with his whole soul: what he paints, he paints with his whole might. Sir Joshua sees partially, slightly, tenderly—catches the flying lights of things, the momentary glooms: paints also partially, tenderly, never with half his strength; content with uncertain visions, insecure delights; the truth not precious nor significant to him, only pleasing; falsehood also pleasureable, even useful on occasion—must, however, be discreetly touched, just enough to make all men noble, all women lovely: “we do not need this flattery often, most of those we know being such; and it is a pleasant world, and with diligence—for nothing can be done without diligence—every day till four” (says Sir Joshua)—“a painter’s is a happy life.”

Yes: and the Isis, with her swans, and shadows of Windsor Forest, is a sweet stream, touching her shores softly. The Rhine at Basle is of another temper, stern and deep, as strong, however bright its face: winding far through the solemn plain, beneath the slopes of Jura, tufted and steep: sweeping away into its regardless calm of current the waves of that little brook of St. Jakob, that bathe the Swiss Thermopylæ;[23] the low village nestling beneath a little bank of sloping fields—its spire seen white against the deep blue shadows of the Jura pines.

Gazing on that scene day by day, Holbein went his own way, with the earnestness and silent swell of the strong river—not unconscious of the awe, nor of the sanctities of its life. The snows of the eternal Alps giving forth their strength to it; the blood of the St. Jakob brook poured into it as it passes by—not in vain. He also could feel his strength coming from white snows far off in heaven. He also bore upon him the purple stain of the earth sorrow. A grave man, knowing what steps of men keep truest time to the chanting of Death. Having grave friends also;—the same singing heard far off, it seems to me, or, perhaps, even low in the room, by that family of Sir Thomas More; or mingling with the hum of bees in the meadows outside the towered wall of Basle; or making the words of the book more tuneable, which meditative Erasmus looks upon. Nay, that same soft Death-music is on the lips even of Holbein’s Madonna.[328] Who, among many, is the Virgin you had best compare with the one before whose image we have stood so long.

Holbein’s is at Dresden, companioned by the Madonna di San Sisto; but both are visible enough to you here, for, by a strange coincidence, they are (at least so far as I know) the only two great pictures in the world which have been faultlessly engraved.

The received tradition respecting the Holbein Madonna is beautiful; and I believe the interpretation to be true. A father and mother have prayed to her for the life of their sick child. She appears to them, her own Christ in her arms. She puts down her Christ beside them—takes their child into her arms instead. It lies down upon her bosom, and stretches its hand to its father and mother, saying farewell.

This interpretation of the picture has been doubted, as nearly all the most precious truths of pictures have been doubted, and forgotten. But even supposing it erroneous, the design is not less characteristic of Holbein. For that there are signs of suffering on the features of the child in the arms of the Virgin, is beyond question; and if this child be intended for the Christ, it would not be doubtful to my mind, that, of the two—Raphael and Holbein—the latter had given the truest aspect and deepest reading of the early life of the Redeemer. Raphael sought to express His power only; but Holbein His labour and sorrow.

There are two other pictures which you should remember together with this (attributed, indeed, but with no semblance of probability, to the elder Holbein, none of whose work, preserved at Basle, or elsewhere, approaches in the slightest degree to their power), the St. Barbara and St. Elizabeth.[24] I do not know among the pictures of the great sacred schools any at once so powerful, so simple, so pathetically expressive of the need of the heart that conceived them. Not ascetic, nor quaint, nor feverishly or fondly passionate, nor wrapt in withdrawn solemnities of thought. Only entirely true—entirely pure. No depth of glowing heaven beyond them—but the clear sharp sweetness of the northern air: no splendour of rich colour, striving to adorn them with better brightness than of the day: a gray glory, as of moonlight without mist, dwelling on face and fold of dress;—all faultless-fair. Creatures they are, humble by nature, not by self-condemnation; merciful by habit, not by tearful impulse; lofty without consciousness; gentle without weakness; wholly in this present world, doing its work calmly; beautiful with all that holiest life can reach—yet already freed from all that holiest death can cast away.


[20] As showing gigantic power of hand, joined with utmost accuracy and rapidity, the folds of drapery under the breast of the Virgin are, perhaps, as marvellous a piece of work as could be found in any picture, of whatever time or master.

[21] The reader must observe that I use the word here in a limited sense, as meaning only the effect of careful education, good society, and refined habits of life, on average temper and character. Of deep and true gentlemanliness—based as it is on intense sensibility and sincerity, perfected by courage, and other qualities of race; as well as of that union of insensibility with cunning, which is the essence of vulgarity, I shall have to speak at length in another place.

[22] Museum of Berlin.

[23] Of 1,200 Swiss, who fought by that brookside, ten only returned. The battle checked the attack of the French, led by Louis XI. (then Dauphin) in 1444; and was the first of the great series of efforts and victories which were closed at Nancy by the death of Charles of Burgundy.

[24] Pinacothek of Munich.


A Changeling.

A little changeling Spirit
Crept to my arms one day.
I had no heart or courage
To drive the child away.
So all day long I soothed her
And hushed her on my breast;
And all night long her wailing
Would never let me rest.
I dug a grave to hold her,
A grave both dark and deep:
I covered her with violets,
And laid her there to sleep.
I used to go and watch there,
Both night and morning too;
It was my tears, I fancy,
That kept the violets blue.
I took her up: and once more
I felt the clinging hold,
And heard the ceaseless wailing
That wearied me of old.
I wandered and I wandered
With my burden on my breast,
Till I saw a church door open,
And entered in to rest.
In the dim, dying daylight,
Set in a flowery shrine,
I saw the kings and shepherds
Adore a Child divine.
I knelt down there in silence;
And on the Altar-stone
I laid my wailing burden,
And came away,—alone.
And now that little Spirit
That sobbed so all day long,
Is grown a shining Angel,
With wings both wide and strong.
She watches me from heaven,
With loving, tender care,
And one day, she has promised
That I shall find her there.
A. A. P.


Lovel the Widower.

In which I Play the Spy.

The room to which Bedford conducted me I hold to be the very pleasantest chamber in all the mansion of Shrublands. To lie on that comfortable, cool bachelor’s bed there, and see the birds hopping about on the lawn; to peep out of the French window at early morning, inhale the sweet air, mark the dewy bloom on the grass, listen to the little warblers performing their chorus, step forth in your dressing-gown and slippers, pick a strawberry from the bed, or an apricot in its season; blow one, two, three, just half-a-dozen puffs of a cigarette, hear the venerable towers of Putney toll the hour of six (three hours from breakfast, by consequence), and pop back into bed again with a favourite novel, or review, to set you off (you see I am not malicious, or I could easily insert here the name of some twaddler against whom I have a grudgekin): to pop back into bed again, I say, with a book which sets you off into that dear invaluable second sleep, by which health, spirits, appetite are so prodigiously improved:—all these I hold to be most cheerful and harmless pleasures, and have partaken of them often at Shrublands with a grateful heart. That heart may have had its griefs, but is yet susceptible of enjoyment and consolation. That bosom may have been lacerated, but is not therefore and henceforward a stranger to comfort. After a certain affair in Dublin—nay, very soon[331] after, three months after—I recollect remarking to myself: “Well, thank my stars, I still have a relish for 34 claret.” Once at Shrublands I heard steps pacing overhead at night, and the feeble but continued wail of an infant. I wakened from my sleep, was sulky, but turned and slept again. Biddlecombe the barrister I knew was the occupant of the upper chamber. He came down the next morning looking wretchedly yellow about the cheeks, and livid round the eyes. His teething infant had kept him on the march all night, and Mrs. Biddlecombe, I am told, scolds him frightfully besides. He munched a shred of toast, and was off by the omnibus to chambers. I chipped a second egg; I may have tried one or two other nice little things on the table (Strasbourg pâté I know I never can resist, and am convinced it is perfectly wholesome). I could see my own sweet face in the mirror opposite, and my gills were as rosy as any broiled salmon. “Well—well!” I thought, as the barrister disappeared on the roof of the coach, “he has domus and placens uxor—but is she placens? Placetne to walk about all night with a roaring baby? Is it pleasing to go to bed after a long hard day’s work, and have your wife nagnagging you because she has not been invited to the Lady Chancelloress’s soirée, or what not? Suppose the Glorvina whom you loved so had been yours? Her eyebrows looked as if they could scowl; her eyes as if they could flash with anger. Remember what a slap she gave the little knife-boy for upsetting the butter-boat over her tabinet. Suppose parvulus aulâ, a little Batchelor, your son, who had the toothache all night in your bedroom?” These thoughts passed rapidly through my mind as I helped myself to the comfortable meal before me. “I say, what a lot of muffins you’re eating!” cried innocent Master Lovel. Now the married, the wealthy, the prosperous Biddlecombe only took his wretched scrap of dry toast. “Aha!” you say, “this man is consoling himself after his misfortune.” O churl! and do you grudge me consolation? “Thank you, dear Miss Prior. Another cup, and plenty of cream, if you please.” Of course, Lady Baker was not at table when I said, “Dear Miss Prior,” at breakfast. Before her ladyship I was as mum as a mouse. Elizabeth found occasion to whisper to me during the day in her demure way: “This is a very rare occasion. Lady B. never allows me to breakfast alone with Mr. Lovel, but has taken her extra nap, I suppose, because you and Mr. and Mrs. Biddlecombe were here.”


Now it may be that one of the double doors of the room which I inhabited was occasionally open, and that Mr. Batchelor’s eyes and ears are uncommonly quick, and note a number of things which less observant persons would never regard or discover; but out of this room, which I occupied for some few days, now and subsequently, I looked out as from a little ambush upon the proceedings of the house, and got a queer little insight into the history and characters of the personages round about me. The two grandmothers of Lovel’s children were domineering over that easy gentleman, as women—not grandmothers merely, but sisters, wives, aunts, daughters, when the chance is given them—will domineer. Ah![332] Glorvina, what a grey mare you might have become had you chosen Mr. Batchelor for your consort! (But this I only remark with a parenthetic sigh.) The two children had taken each the side of a grandmamma, and whilst Master Pop was declared by his maternal grandmother to be a Baker all over, and taught to despise sugar-baking and trade, little Cecilia was Mrs. Bonnington’s favourite, repeated Watts’s hymns with fervent precocity, declared that she would marry none but a clergyman; preached infantine sermons to her brother and maid about worldliness; and somewhat wearied me, if the truth must be told, by the intense self-respect with which she regarded her own virtues. The old ladies had that love for each other, which one may imagine that their relative positions would engender. Over the bleeding and helpless bodies of Lovel and his worthy and kind stepfather, Mr. Bonnington, they skirmished, and fired shots at each other. Lady B. would give hints about second marriages, and second families, and so forth, which of course made Mrs. Bonnington wince. Mrs. B. had the better of Lady Baker, in consequence of the latter’s notorious pecuniary irregularities. She had never had recourse to her son’s purse, she could thank Heaven. She was not afraid of meeting any tradesman in Putney or London: she had never been ordered out of the house in the late Cecilia’s lifetime: she could go to Boulogne and enjoy the fresh air there. This was the terrific whip she had over Baker. Lady B., I regret to say, in consequence of the failure of remittances, had been locked up in prison, just at a time when she was in a state of violent quarrel with her late daughter, and good Mr. Bonnington had helped her out of durance. How did I know this? Bedford, Lovel’s factotum, told me: and how the old ladies were fighting like two cats.

There was one point on which the two ladies agreed. A very wealthy widower, young still, good-looking and good-tempered, we know can sometimes find a dear woman to console his loneliness, and protect his motherless children. From the neighbouring Heath, from Wimbledon, Roehampton, Barnes, Mortlake, Richmond, Esher, Walton, Windsor, nay, Reading, Bath, Exeter, and Penzance itself, or from any other quarter of Britain, over which your fancy may please to travel, families would have come ready with dear young girls to take charge of that man’s future happiness: but it is a fact that these two dragons kept all women off from their ward. An unmarried woman, with decent good looks, was scarce ever allowed to enter Shrublands gate. If such an one appeared, Lovel’s two mothers sallied out, and crunched her hapless bones. Once or twice he dared to dine with his neighbours, but the ladies led him such a life that the poor creature gave up the practice, and faintly announced his preference for home. “My dear Batch,” says he, “what do I care for the dinners of the people round about? Has any one of them got a better cook or better wine than mine? When I come home from business, it is an intolerable nuisance to have to dress and go out seven or eight miles to cold entrées, and loaded claret, and sweet port. I can’t stand it, sir. I won’t stand it” (and he stamps his foot in a resolute manner). “Give[333] me an easy life, a wine-merchant I can trust, and my own friends, by my own fireside. Shall we have some more? We can manage another bottle between us three, Mr. Bonnington?”

“Well,” says Mr. Bonnington, winking at the ruby goblet, “I am sure I have no objection, Frederick, to another bo——”

“Coffee is served, sir,” cries Bedford, entering.

“Well—well, perhaps we have had enough,” says worthy Bonnington.

“We have had enough; we all drink too much,” says Lovel, briskly. “Come into coffee?”

We go to the drawing-room. Fred and I, and the two ladies, sit down to a rubber, whilst Miss Prior plays a piece of Beethoven to a slight warbling accompaniment from Mr. Bonnington’s handsome nose, who has fallen asleep over the newspaper. During our play, Bessy glides out of the room—a grey shadow. Bonnington wakens up when the tray is brought in. Lady Baker likes that good old custom: it was always the fashion at the Castle, and she takes a good glass of negus too; and so do we all; and the conversation is pretty merry, and Fred Lovel hopes I shall sleep better to-night, and is very facetious about poor Biddlecombe, and the way in which that eminent Q.C. is henpecked by his wife.

From my bachelor’s room, then, on the ground floor; or from my solitary walks in the garden, whence I could oversee many things in the house; or from Bedford’s communications to me, which were very friendly, curious, and unreserved; or from my own observation, which I promise you can see as far into the mill-stones of life as most folks’, I grew to find the mysteries of Shrublands no longer mysterious to me; and like another Diable Boiteux, had the roofs of a pretty number of the Shrublands rooms taken off for me.

For instance, on that very first day of my stay, whilst the family were attiring themselves for dinner, I chanced to find two secret cupboards of the house unlocked, and the contents unveiled to me. Pinhorn, the children’s maid, a giddy little flirting thing in a pink ribbon, brought some articles of the toilette into my worship’s apartment, and as she retired did not shut the door behind her. I might have thought that pert little head had never been made to ache by any care; but ah! black care sits behind the horseman, as Horace remarks, and not only behind the horseman, but behind the footman; and not only on the footman, but on the buxom shoulders of the lady’s maid. So with Pinhorn. You surely have remarked respecting domestic servants that they address you in a tone utterly affected and unnatural—adopting, when they are amongst each other, voices and gestures entirely different to those which their employers see and hear. Now, this little Pinhorn, in her occasional intercourse with your humble servant, had a brisk, quick, fluttering toss of the head, and a frisky manner, no doubt capable of charming some persons. As for me, ancillary allurements have, I own, had but small temptations. If Venus brought me a bedroom candle, and a jug of hot-water—I should[334] give her sixpence, and no more. Having, you see, given my all to one wom—— Psha! never mind that old story.—Well, I daresay this little creature may have been a flirt, but I took no more notice of her than if she had been a coal-scuttle.

Now, suppose she was a flirt. Suppose, under a mask of levity, she hid a profound sorrow. Do you suppose she was the first woman who ever has done so? Do you suppose because she has fifteen pounds a year, her tea, sugar, and beer, and told fibs to her masters and mistresses, she had not a heart? She went out of the room, absolutely coaxing and leering at me as she departed, with a great counterpane over her arm; but in the next apartment I heard her voice quite changed, and another changed voice too—though not so much altered—interrogating her. My friend Dick Bedford’s voice, in addressing those whom Fortune had pleased to make his superiors, was gruff and brief. He seemed to be anxious to deliver himself of his speech to you as quickly as possible; and his tone always seemed to hint, “There—there is my message, and I have delivered it; but you know perfectly well that I am as good as you.” And so he was, and so I always admitted: so even the trembling, believing, flustering, suspicious Lady Baker herself admitted, when she came into communication with this man. I have thought of this little Dick as of Swift at Sheen hard by, with Sir William Temple: or Spartacus when he was as yet the servant of the fortunate Roman gentleman who owned him. Now if Dick was intelligent, obedient, useful, only not rebellious, with his superiors, I should fancy that amongst his equals he was by no means pleasant company, and that most of them hated him for his arrogance, his honesty, and his scorn of them all.

But women do not always hate a man for scorning and despising them. Women do not revolt at the rudeness and arrogance of us their natural superiors. Women, if properly trained, come down to heel at the master’s bidding, and lick the hand that has been often raised to hit them. I do not say the brave little Dick Bedford ever raised an actual hand to this poor serving girl, but his tongue whipped her, his behaviour trampled on her, and she cried, and came to him whenever he lifted a finger. Psha! Don’t tell me. If you want a quiet, contented, orderly home, and things comfortable about you, that is the way you must manage your women.

Well, Bedford happens to be in the next room. It is the morning-room at Shrublands. You enter the dining-room from it, and they are in the habit of laying out the dessert there, before taking it in for dinner. Bedford is laying out his dessert as Pinhorn enters from my chamber, and he begins upon her with a sarcastic sort of grunt, and a “Ho! suppose you’ve been making up to B., have you?”

“Oh, Mr. Bedford, you know very well who it is I cares for!” she says, with a sigh.

“Bother!” Mr. B. remarks.

“Well, Richard then!” (here she weeps.)


“Leave go my ’and!—leave go my a-hand, I say!” (What could she have been doing to cause this exclamation?)

“Oh, Richard, it’s not your ’and I want—it’s your ah-ah-art, Richard!”

“Mary Pinhorn,” exclaims the other, “what’s the use of going on with this game? You know we couldn’t be a-happy together—you know your ideers ain’t no good, Mary. It ain’t your fault. I don’t blame you for it, my dear. Some people are born clever, some are born tall: I ain’t tall.”

“Oh, you’re tall enough for me, Richard!”

Here Richard again found occasion to cry out: “Don’t, I say! Suppose Baker was to come in and find you squeezing of my hand in this way? I say, some people are born with big brains, Miss Pinhorn, and some with big figures. Look at that ass Bulkeley, Lady B.’s man! He is as big as a Life-guardsman, and he has no more education, nor no more ideas, than the beef he feeds on.”

“La! Richard, whathever do you mean?”

“Pooh! How should you know what I mean? Lay them books straight. Put the volumes together, stupid! and the papers, and get the table ready for nussery tea, and don’t go on there mopping your eyes and making a fool of yourself, Mary Pinhorn!”

“Oh, your heart is a stone—a stone—a stone!” cries Mary, in a burst of tears. “And I wish it was hung round my neck, and I was at the bottom of the well, and—there’s the hupstairs bell!” with which signal I suppose Mary disappeared, for I only heard a sort of grunt from Mr. Bedford; then the clatter of a dish or two, the wheeling of chairs and furniture, and then came a brief silence, which lasted until the entry of Dick’s subordinate Buttons, who laid the table for the children’s and Miss Prior’s tea.

So here was an old story told over again. Here was love unrequited, and a little passionate heart wounded and unhappy. My poor little Mary! As I am a sinner, I will give thee a crown when I go away, and not a couple of shillings, as my wont has been. Five shillings will not console thee much, but they will console thee a little. Thou wilt not imagine that I bribe thee with any privy thought of evil? Away! Ich habe genossen das irdische Glück—ich habe—geliebt!

At this juncture I suppose Mrs. Prior must have entered the apartment, for though I could not hear her noiseless step, her little cracked voice came pretty clearly to me with a “Good afternoon, Mr. Bedford! O dear me! what a many—many years we have been acquainted. To think of the pretty little printer’s boy who used to come to Mr. Batchelor, and see you grown such a fine man!”

Bedford. “How? I’m only five foot four.”

Mrs. P. “But such a fine figure, Bedford! You are—now indeed you are! Well, you are strong and I am weak. You are well, and I am weary and faint.”

Bedford. “The tea’s a-coming directly, Mrs. Prior.”


Mrs. P. “Could you give me a glass of water first—and perhaps a little sherry in it, please. Oh, thank you. How good it is! How it revives a poor old wretch!—And your cough, Bedford? How is your cough? I have brought you some lozenges for it—some of Sir Henry Halford’s own prescribing for my dear husband, and——”

Bedford (abruptly). “I must go—never mind the cough now, Mrs. P.”

Mrs. Prior. “What’s here? almonds and raisins, macaroons, preserved apricots, biscuits for dessert—and—la bless the man! how you sta—artled me!”

Bedford.Dont! Mrs. Prior: I beg and implore of you, keep your ’ands out of the dessert. I can’t stand it. I must tell the governor if this game goes on.”

Mrs. P. “Ah! Mr. Bedford, it is for my poor—poor child at home: the doctor recommended her apricots. Ay, indeed, dear Bedford; he did, for her poor chest!”

Bedford. “And I’m blest if you haven’t been at the sherry-bottle again! Oh, Mrs. P., you drive me wild—you do. I can’t see Lovel put upon in this way. You know it’s only last week I whopped the boy for stealing the sherry, and ’twas you done it.”

Mrs. Prior (passionately). “For a sick child, Bedford. What won’t a mother do for her sick child!”

Bedford. “Your children’s always sick. You’re always taking things for ’em. I tell you, by the laws, I won’t and mustn’t stand it, Mrs. P.”

Mrs. Prior (with much spirit). “Go and tell your master, Bedford! Go and tell tales of me, sir. Go and have me dismissed out of this house. Go and have my daughter dismissed out of this house, and her poor mother brought to disgrace.”

Bedford. “Mrs. Prior—Mrs. Prior! you have been a-taking the sherry. A glass I don’t mind: but you’ve been a-bringing that bottle again.”

Mrs. P. (whimpering). “It’s for Charlotte, Bedford! my poor delicate angel of a Shatty! she’s ordered it, indeed she is!”

Bedford. “Confound your Shatty! I can’t stand it, I mustn’t, and won’t, Mrs. P!”

Here a noise and clatter of other persons arriving interrupted the conversation between Lovel’s major-domo and the mother of the children’s governess, and I presently heard master Pop’s voice saying, “You’re going to tea with us, Mrs. Prior?”

Mrs. P. “Your kind dear grandmammas have asked me, dear Master Popham.”

Pop. “But you’d like to go to dinner best, wouldn’t you? I daresay you have doocid bad dinners at your house. Haven’t you, Mrs. Prior?”

Cissy. “Don’t say doocid. Its a naughty word, Popham!”

Pop. “I will say doocid. Doo-oo-oocid! There! And I’ll say worse words too, if I please, and you hold your tongue. What’s there for tea? jam for tea? strawberries for tea? muffins for tea? That’s it: strawberries[337] and muffins for tea! And we’ll go into dessert besides: that’s prime. I say, Miss Prior?”

Miss Prior. “What do you say, Popham?”

Pop. “Shouldn’t you like to go into dessert?—there’s lots of good things there,—and have wine? Only when grandmamma tells her story about—about my grandfather and King George the what-d’ye-call-’em: King George the Fourth——”

Cis. “Ascended the throne 1820; died at Windsor 1830.”

Pop. “Bother Windsor! Well, when she tells that story, I can tell you that ain’t very good fun.”

Cis. “And it’s rude of you to speak in that way of your grandmamma, Pop!”

Pop. “And you’ll hold your tongue, Miss! And I shall speak as I like. And I’m a man, and I don’t want any of your stuff and nonsense. I say, Mary, give us the marmalade!”

Cis. “You have had plenty to eat, and boys oughtn’t to have so much.”

Pop. “Boys may have what they like. Boys can eat twice as much as women. There, I don’t want any more. Anybody may have the rest.”

Mrs. Prior. “What nice marmalade! I know some children, my dears, who——”

Miss P. (imploringly). “Mamma, I beseech you——”

Mrs. P. “I know three dear children who very—very seldom have nice marmalade and delicious cake.”

Pop. “I know whom you mean: you mean Augustus, and Frederick, and Fanny—your children? Well, they shall have marmalade and cake.”

Cis. “Oh, yes, I will give them all mine.”

Pop. (who speaks, I think, as if his mouth was full). “I won’t give ’em mine: but they can have another pot, you know. You have always got a basket with you; you know you have, Mrs. Prior. You had it the day you took the cold fowl.”

Mrs. P. “For the poor blind black man! Oh, how thankful he was to his dear young benefactors! He is a man and a brother, and to help him was most kind of you, dear Master Popham!”

Pop. “That black beggar my brother? He ain’t my brother!”

Mrs. P. “No, dears, you have both the most lovely complexions in the world.”

Pop. “Bother complexions! I say, Mary, another pot of marmalade.”

Mary. “I don’t know, Master Pop——”

Pop. “I will have it, I say. If you don’t, I’ll smash everything, I will.”

Cis. “Oh, you naughty, rude boy!”

Pop. “Hold your tongue, stupid! I will have it, I say.”

Mrs. P. “Do humour him, Mary, please. And I’m sure my dear children at home will be better for it.”


Pop. “There’s your basket. Now put this cake in, and this bit of butter, and this sugar on the top of the butter. Hurray! hurray! Oh, what jolly fun! Here’s some cake—no, I think I’ll keep that; and, Mrs. Prior, tell Gus, and Fanny, and Fred, I sent it to ’em, and they shall never want for anything, as long as Frederick Popham Baker Lovel, Esquire, can give it them. Did Gus like my gray greatcoat that I didn’t want?”

Miss P. “You did not give him your new greatcoat?”

Pop. “It was beastly ugly, and I did give it him; and I’ll give him this if I choose. And don’t you speak to me; I’m going to school, and I ain’t going to have no governesses soon.”

Mrs. Prior. “Ah, dear child! what a nice coat it is; and how well my poor boy looks in it!”

Miss Prior. “Mother, mother! I implore you—mother!”

Mr. Lovel enters. “So the children at high tea! How d’ye do, Mrs. Prior? I think we shall be able to manage that little matter for your second boy, Mrs. Prior.”

Mrs. Prior. “Heaven bless you,—bless you, my dear, kind benefactor! Don’t prevent me, Elizabeth: I must kiss his hand. There!”

And here the second bell rings, and I enter the morning-room, and can see Mrs. Prior’s great basket popped cunningly under the table-cloth. Her basket?—her porte-manteau, her porte-bouteille, her porte-gâteau, her porte-pantalon, her porte-butin in general. Thus I could see that every day Mrs. Prior visited Shrublands she gleaned greedily of the harvest. Well, Boaz was rich, and this ruthless Ruth was hungry and poor.

At the welcome summons of the second bell, Mr. and Mrs. Bonnington also made their appearance; the latter in the new cap which Mrs. Prior had admired, and which she saluted with a nod of smiling recognition: “Dear madam, it is lovely—I told you it was,” whispers Mrs. P., and the wearer of the blue ribbons turned her bonny, good-natured face towards the looking-glass, and I hope saw no reason to doubt Mrs. Prior’s sincerity. As for Bonnington, I could perceive that he had been taking a little nap before dinner,—a practice by which the appetite is improved, I think, and the intellect prepared for the bland prandial conversation.

“Have the children been quite good?” asks papa, of the governess.

“There are worse children, sir,” says Miss Prior, meekly.

“Make haste and have your dinner; we are coming into dessert!” cries Pop.

“You would not have us go to dine without your grandmother?” papa asks. Dine without Lady Baker, indeed! I should have liked to see him go to dinner without Lady Baker.

Pending her ladyship’s arrival, papa and Mr. Bonnington walk to the open window, and gaze on the lawn and the towers of Putney rising over the wall.

“Ah, my good Mrs. Prior,” cries Mrs. Bonnington, “those grandchildren of mine are sadly spoiled.”


“Not by you, dear madam,” says Mrs. Prior, with a look of commiseration. “Your dear children at home are, I am sure, perfect models of goodness. Is Master Edward well, ma’am? and Master Robert, and Master Richard, and dear, funny little Master William? Ah, what blessings those children are to you! If a certain wilful little nephew of theirs took after them!”

“The little naughty wretch!” cried Mrs. Bonnington; “do you know, Prior, my grandson Frederick—(I don’t know why they call him Popham in this house, or why he should be ashamed of his father’s name)—do you know that Popham spilt the ink over my dear husband’s bands, which he keeps in his great dictionary, and fought with my Richard, who is three years older than Popham, and actually beat his own uncle!”

“Gracious goodness!” I cried; “you don’t mean to say, ma’am, that Pop has been laying violent hands upon his venerable relative?” I feel ever so gentle a pull at my coat. Was it Miss Prior who warned me not to indulge in the sarcastic method with good Mrs. Bonnington?

“I don’t know why you call my poor child a venerable relative,” Mrs. B. remarks. “I know that Popham was very rude to him; and then Robert came to his brother, and that graceless little Popham took a stick, and my husband came out, and do you know Popham Lovel actually kicked Mr. Bonnington on the shins, and butted him like a little naughty ram; and if you think such conduct is a subject for ridicule—I don’t, Mr. Batchelor!”

“My dear—dear lady!” I cried, seizing her hand; for she was going to cry, and in woman’s eye the unanswerable tear always raises a deuce of a commotion in my mind. “I would not for the world say a word that should willingly vex you; and as for Popham, I give you my honour, I think nothing would do that child so much good as a good whipping.”

“He is spoiled, madam; we know by whom,” says Mrs. Prior. “Dear Lady Baker! how that red does become your ladyship.” In fact, Lady B. sailed in at this juncture, arrayed in ribbons of scarlet; with many brooches, bangles, and other gimcracks ornamenting her plenteous person. And now her ladyship having arrived, Bedford announced that dinner was served, and Lovel gave his mother-in-law an arm, whilst I offered mine to Mrs. Bonnington to lead her to the adjoining dining-room. And the pacable kind soul speedily made peace with me. And we ate and drank of Lovel’s best. And Lady Baker told us her celebrated anecdote of George the Fourth’s compliment to her late dear husband, Sir George, when his Majesty visited Ireland. Mrs. Prior and her basket were gone when we repaired to the drawing-room: having been hunting all day, the hungry mother had returned with her prey to her wide-mouthed birdikins. Elizabeth looked very pale and handsome, reading at her lamp. And whist and the little tray finished the second day at Shrublands.

I paced the moonlit walk alone when the family had gone to rest; and smoked my cigar under the tranquil stars. I had been some thirty hours in the house, and what a queer little drama was unfolding itself[340] before me! What struggles and passions were going on here—what certamina and motus animorum! Here was Lovel, this willing horse; and what a crowd of relations, what a heap of luggage had the honest fellow to carry! How that little Mrs. Prior was working, and scheming, and tacking, and flattering, and fawning, and plundering, to be sure! And that serene Elizabeth, with what consummate skill, art, and prudence, had she to act, to keep her place with two such rivals reigning over her. And Elizabeth not only kept her place, but she actually was liked by those two women! Why, Elizabeth Prior, my wonder and respect for thee increase with every hour during which I contemplate thy character! How is it that you live with those lionesses, and are not torn to pieces? What sops of flattery do you cast to them to appease them? Perhaps I do not think my Elizabeth brings up her two children very well, and, indeed, have seldom become acquainted with young people more odious. But is the fault hers, or is it Fortune’s spite? How, with these two grandmothers spoiling the children alternately, can the governess do better than she does? How has she managed to lull their natural jealousy? I will work out that intricate problem, that I will, ere many days are over. And there are other mysteries which I perceive. There is poor Mary breaking her heart for the butler. That butler, why does he connive at the rogueries of Mrs. Prior? Ha! herein lies a mystery, too; and I vow I will penetrate it ere long. So saying, I fling away the butt-end of the fragrant companion of my solitude, and enter into my room by the open French window just as Bedford walks in at the door. I had heard the voice of that worthy domestic warbling a grave melody from his pantry window as I paced the lawn. When the family goes to rest, Bedford passes a couple of hours in study in his pantry, perusing the newspapers and the new works, and forming his opinion on books and politics. Indeed I have reason to believe that the letters in the Putney Herald and Mortlake Monitor, signed “A Voice from the Basement,” were Mr. Bedford’s composition.

“Come to see all safe for the night, sir, and the windows closed before you turn in,” Mr. Dick remarks. “Best not leave ’em open, even if you are asleep inside—catch cold—many bad people about. Remember Bromley murder!—Enter at French windows—you cry out—cut your throat—and there’s a fine paragraph for papers next morning!”

“What a good voice you have, Bedford,” I say; “I heard you warbling just now—a famous bass, on my word!”

“Always fond of music—sing when I’m cleaning my plate—learned in Old Beak Street. She used to teach me,” and he points towards the upper floors.

“What a little chap you were then!—when you came for my proofs for the Museum,” I remark.

“I ain’t a very big one now, sir; but it ain’t the big ones that do the best work,” remarks the butler.

“I remember Miss Prior saying that you were as old as she was.”


“Hm! and I scarce came up to her—eh—elbow.” (Bedford had constantly to do battle with the aspirates. He conquered them, but you could see there was a struggle.)

“And it was Miss Prior taught you to sing?” I say, looking him full in the face.

He dropped his eyes—he could not bear my scrutiny. I knew the whole story now.

“When Mrs. Lovel died at Naples, Miss Prior brought home the children, and you acted as courier to the whole party?”

“Yes, sir,” says Bedford. “We had the carriage, and of course poor Mrs. L. was sent home by sea, and I brought home the young ones, and—and the rest of the family. I could say, Avanti! avanti! to the Italian postilions, and ask for des chevaux when we crossed the Halps—the Alps,—I beg your pardon, sir.”

“And you used to see the party to their rooms at the inns, and call them up in the morning, and you had a blunderbuss in the rumble to shoot the robbers?”

“Yes,” says Bedford.

“And it was a pleasant time?”

“Yes,” says Bedford, groaning, and hanging down his miserable head. “Oh, yes, it was a pleasant time.”

He turned away; he stamped his foot; he gave a sort of imprecation; he pretended to look at some books, and dust them with a napkin which he carried. I saw the matter at once. “Poor Dick!” says I.

“It’s the old—old story,” says Dick. “It’s you and the Hirish girl over again, sir. I’m only a servant, I know; but I’m a——. Confound it!” And here he stuck his fists into his eyes.

“And this is the reason you allow old Mrs. Prior to steal the sherry and the sugar?” I ask.

“How do you know that?—you remember how she prigged in Beak Street?” asks Bedford, fiercely.

“I overheard you and her just before dinner,” I said.

“You had better go and tell Lovel—have me turned out of the house. That’s the best thing that can be done,” cries Bedford again, fiercely, stamping his feet.

“It is always my custom to do as much mischief as I possibly can, Dick Bedford,” I say, with fine irony.

He seizes my hand. “No, you’re a trump—everybody knows that; beg pardon, sir; but you see I’m so—so—dash!—miserable, that I hardly know whether I’m walking on my head or my heels.”

“You haven’t succeeded in touching her heart, then, my poor Dick?” I said.

Dick shook his head. “She has no heart,” he said. “If she ever had any, that fellar in India took it away with him. She don’t care for anybody alive. She likes me as well as any one. I think she appreciates me, you see, sir; she can’t ’elp it—I’m blest if she can. She[342] knows I am a better man than most of the chaps that come down here,—I am, if I wasn’t a servant. If I were only an apothecary—like that grinning jackass who comes here from Barnes in his gig, and wants to marry her—she’d have me. She keeps him on, and encourages him—she can do that cleverly enough. And the old dragon fancies she is fond of him. Psha! Why am I making a fool of myself?—I am only a servant. Mary’s good enough for me; she’ll have me fast enough. I beg your pardon, sir; I am making a fool of myself; I ain’t the first, sir. Good-night, sir; hope you’ll sleep well.” And Dick departs to his pantry and his private cares, and I think, “Here is another victim who is writhing under the merciless arrows of the universal torturer.”

“He is a very singular person,” Miss Prior remarked to me, as, next day, I happened to be walking on Putney Heath by her side, while her young charges trotted on and quarrelled in the distance. “I wonder where the world will stop next, dear Mr. Batchelor, and how far the march of intellect will proceed! Any one so free, and easy, and cool, as this Mr. Bedford I never saw. When we were abroad with poor Mrs. Lovel, he picked up French and Italian in quite a surprising way. He takes books down from the library now: the most abstruse works—works that I couldn’t pretend to read, I’m sure. Mr. Bonnington says he has taught himself history, and Horace in Latin, and algebra, and I don’t know what besides. He talked to the servants and tradespeople at Naples much better than I could, I assure you.” And Elizabeth tosses up her head heavenwards, as if she would ask of yonder skies how such a man could possibly be as good as herself.

She stepped along the Heath—slim, stately, healthy, tall—her firm, neat foot treading swiftly over the grass. She wore her blue spectacles, but I think she could have looked at the sun without the glasses and without wincing. That sun was playing with her tawny, wavy ringlets, and scattering gold-dust over them.

“It is wonderful,” said I, admiring her, “how these people give themselves airs, and try to imitate their betters!”

“Most extraordinary!” says Bessy. She had not one particle of humour in all her composition. I think Dick Bedford was right; and she had no heart. Well, she had famous lungs, health, appetite, and with these one may get through life not uncomfortably.

“You and Saint Cecilia got on pretty well, Bessy?” I ask.

“Saint who?”

“The late Mrs. L.”

“Oh, Mrs. Lovel:—yes. What an odd person you are! I did not understand whom you meant,” says Elizabeth the downright.

“Not a good temper, I should think? She and Fred fought?”

He never fought.”

“I think a little bird has told me that she was not averse to the admiration of our sex?”


“I don’t speak ill of my friends, Mr. Batchelor!” replies Elizabeth the prudent.

“You must have difficult work with the two old ladies at Shrublands?”

Bessy shrugs her shoulders. “A little management is necessary in all families,” she says. “The ladies are naturally a little jealous one of the other; but they are both of them not unkind to me in the main; and I have to bear no more than other women in my situation. It was not all pleasure at Saint Boniface, Mr. Batchelor, with my uncle and aunt. I suppose all governesses have their difficulties; and I must get over mine as best I can, and be thankful for the liberal salary which your kindness procured for me, and which enables me to help my poor mother and my brothers and sisters.”

“I suppose you give all your money to her?”

“Nearly all. They must have it; poor mamma has so many mouths to feed.”

“And notre petit cœur, Bessy?” I ask, looking in her fresh face. “Have we replaced the Indian officer?”

Another shrug of the shoulder. “I suppose we all get over those follies, Mr. Batchelor. I remember somebody else was in a sad way too,”—and she looks askance at the victim of Glorvina. “My folly is dead and buried long ago. I have to work so hard for mamma, and my brothers and sisters, that I have no time for such nonsense.”

Here a gentleman in a natty gig, with a high-trotting horse, came spanking towards us over the common, and with my profound knowledge of human nature, I saw at once that the servant by the driver’s side was a little doctor’s boy, and the gentleman himself was a neat and trim general practitioner.

He stared at me grimly, as he made a bow to Miss Bessy. I saw jealousy and suspicion in his aspect.

“Thank you, dear Mr. Drencher,” says Bessy, “for your kindness to mamma and our children. You are going to call at Shrublands? Lady Baker was indisposed this morning. She says when she can’t have Dr. Piper, there’s nobody like you.” And this artful one smiles blandly on Mr. Drencher.

“I have got the workhouse, and a case at Roehampton, and I shall be at Shrublands about two, Miss Prior,” says that young doctor, whom Bedford had called a grinning jackass. He laid an eager emphasis on the two. Go to! I know what two and two mean as well as most people, Mr. Drencher! Glances of rage, he shot at me from out his gig. The serpents of that miserable Æsculapius unwound themselves from his rod, and were gnawing at his swollen heart!

“He has a good practice, Mr. Drencher?” I ask, sly rogue as I am.

“He is very good to mamma and our children. His practice with them does not profit him much,” says Bessy.

“And I suppose our walk will be over before two o’clock?” remarks that slyboots who is walking with Miss Prior.


“I hope so. Why, it is our dinner-time; and this walk on the Heath does make one so hungry!” cries the governess.

“Bessy Prior,” I said, “it is my belief that you no more want spectacles than a cat in the twilight.” To which she replied, that I was such a strange, odd man, she really could not understand me.

We were back at Shrublands at two. Of course we must not keep the children’s dinner waiting: and of course Mr. Drencher drove up at five minutes past two, with his gig-horse all in a lather. I who knew the secrets of the house was amused to see the furious glances which Bedford darted from the sideboard, or as he served the doctor with cutlets. Drencher, for his part, scowled at me. I, for my part, was easy, witty, pleasant, and I trust profoundly wicked and malicious. I bragged about my aristocratic friends to Lady Baker. I trumped her old-world stories about George the Fourth at Dublin with the latest dandified intelligence I had learned at the club. That the young doctor should be dazzled and disgusted was, I own, my wish; and I enjoyed his rage as I saw him choking with jealousy over his victuals.

But why was Lady Baker sulky with me? How came it, my fashionable stories had no effect upon that polite matron? Yesterday at dinner she had been gracious enough: and turning her back upon those poor simple Bonningtons, who knew nothing of the beau monde at all, had condescended to address herself specially to me several times with an “I need not tell you, Mr. Batchelor, that the Duchess of Dorsetshire’s maiden name was De Bobus;” or, “You know very well that the etiquette at the Lord Lieutenant’s balls, at Dublin Castle, is for the wives of baronets to—” &c. &c.

Now whence, I say, did it arise that Lady Baker, who had been kind and familiar with me on Sunday, should on Monday turn me a shoulder as cold as that lamb which I offered to carve for the family, and which remained from yesterday’s quarter? I had thought of staying but two days at Shrublands. I generally am bored at country-houses. I was going away on the Monday morning, but Lovel, when he and I and the children and Miss Prior breakfasted together before he went to business, pressed me to stay so heartily and sincerely that I agreed, gladly enough, to remain. I could finish a scene or two of my tragedy at my leisure; besides, there were one or two little comedies going on in the house which inspired me with no little curiosity.

Lady Baker growled at me, then, during lunch-time. She addressed herself in whispers and hints to Mr. Drencher. She had in her own man Bulkeley, and bullied him. She desired to know whether she was to have the barouche or not: and when informed that it was at her ladyship’s service, said it was a great deal too cold for the open carriage, and that she would have the brougham. When she was told that Mr. and Mrs. Bonnington had impounded the brougham, she said she had no idea of people taking other people’s carriages: and when Mr. Bedford remarked that her ladyship had her choice that morning, and had chosen the[345] barouche, she said, “I didn’t speak to you, sir; and I will thank you not to address me until you are spoken to!” She made the place so hot that I began to wish I had quitted it.

“And pray, Miss Prior, where is Captain Baker to sleep,” she asked, “now that the ground-floor room is engaged?”

Miss Prior meekly said, “Captain Baker would have the pink room.”

“The room on my landing-place, without double doors? Impossible! Clarence is always smoking. Clarence will fill the whole house with his smoke. He shall not sleep in the pink room. I expected the ground-floor room for him, which—a—this gentleman persists in not vacating.” And the dear creature looked me full in the face.

“This gentleman smokes, too, and is so comfortable where he is, that he proposes to remain there,” I say, with a bland smile.

“Haspic of plovers’ eggs, sir,” says Bedford, handing a dish over my back. And he actually gave me a little dig, and growled, “Go it—give it her.”

“There is a capital inn on the Heath,” I continue, peeling one of my opal favourites. “If Captain Baker must smoke, he may have a room there.”

“Sir! my son does not live at inns,” cries Lady Baker.

“Oh, grandma! Don’t he though? And wasn’t there a row at the Star and Garter; and didn’t Pa pay uncle Clarence’s bill there, though?”

“Silence, Popham. Little boys should be seen and not heard,” says Cissy. “Shouldn’t little boys be seen and not heard, Miss Prior?”

“They shouldn’t insult their grandmothers. O my Cecilia—my Cecilia!” cries Lady Baker, lifting her hand.

“You shan’t hit me! I say, you shan’t hit me!” roars Pop, starting back, and beginning to square at his enraged ancestress. The scene was growing painful. And there was that rascal of a Bedford choking with suppressed laughter at the sideboard. Bulkeley, her ladyship’s man, stood calm as fate; but young Buttons burst out in a guffaw; on which, I assure you, Lady Baker looked as savage as Lady Macbeth.

“Am I to be insulted by my daughter’s servants?” cries Lady Baker. “I will leave the house this instant.”

“At what hour will your ladyship have the barouche?” says Bedford, with perfect gravity.

If Mr. Drencher had whipped out a lancet and bled Lady B. on the spot, he would have done her good. I shall draw the curtain over this sad—this humiliating scene. Drop, little curtain! on this absurd little act.


Just half a century ago, the pictures now in the Dulwich Gallery were offered to the Government as the commencement of a National Gallery, by Sir Francis Bourgeois, who had been a soldier, but became a painter, and was subsequently elected Royal Academician. He inherited these pictures, which Stanislaus, king of Poland, had purposed to form the nucleus of a national collection in that country. But the Government refused the proffered gift. The thoughts of England were then turned not to pictures, but in very different directions. The little four-paged broad-sheets of The Times brought their morning news of the victories of Wellington in Spain and Napoleon’s invasion of Russia; of war declared against England by America; of the Prime Minister’s assassination in the House of Commons; of bread riots, when corn was not to be bought until landlords had secured their eighty shillings a quarter; of the insanity of George the Third and the regency of his unpopular son. There was no inclination in such times to think of National Galleries of Art.

After ten years of peace, with Napoleon at St. Helena, Peterloo riots suppressed, and Thistlewood hanged, George the Fourth was making his investments in Dutch paintings, Goutier cabinets and Sèvres porcelain, and the government (Sir Charles Long says), prompted by the king, induced the House of Commons, in 1824, to vote fifty-seven thousand pounds for the purchase of thirty-eight pictures collected by Mr. Angerstein, the banker. Thus began our National Collection of Pictures. These were shown to the public in a small, dingy, ill-lighted house on the south side of Pall Mall, until 1833, when it was proposed to erect a special building for them. The site chosen was in Trafalgar Square, on which had stood the “King’s Mews,” where, from the days of the Plantagenets, the royal falcons had been kept and “mewed” or moulted their feathers. In our own time, Mr. Cross’s lions and wild beasts from Exeter ’Change have been lodged there; there, also, the first exhibitions of machinery were held, and the public records were eaten by rats in these “Mews,” which were pulled down to make way for the present National Gallery.

From its first conception to the present time, no building has ever been a more lively subject for public criticism than this unlucky National Gallery. Poor Mr. Wilkins, the architect, was sorely perplexed with conditions. The building was not to intercept the view of St. Martin’s portico; it must not infringe on the barrack space in the rear; the public must have one right of way through it, and the Guards another; the old[347] columns of Carlton House were to be used up; and true faith in architecture insisted on having porticos, dome, and cupolas; moreover, the building, by no means too large for a National Gallery, was to be shared with the Royal Academy. With such instructions, Mr. Wilkins prepared his plans and estimates. The building was to cost 50,000l., but no architect is to be bound by his estimate; and judging from late instances, the public got well out of this job in having to pay only 76,867l.

The structure was scarcely occupied before it was discovered to be much too small. The National Gallery had no space to display its additional purchases and bequests, and the Royal Academy found itself obliged to close its schools of art whenever its annual exhibition was open. For these inconveniences parliaments and governments have been for nearly twenty years trying to find a remedy. In 1848, Lord John Russell, Sir Robert Peel, Mr. Hume, and others, forming one House of Commons Committee, “after careful deliberation, unanimously concurred in the opinion” that the present National Gallery should be enlarged and improved. In 1850, Lord John Russell, Sir Robert Peel, Mr. Hume, and others, constituting another Commons Committee, reported that they could not “recommend that any expenditure should be at present incurred for the purpose of increasing the accommodation of a National Gallery on the present site,” and “were not prepared to state that the preservation of the pictures and convenient access for the purpose of study and improvement of taste would not be better secured in a gallery farther removed from the smoke and dust of London.”

The result of this recommendation was to instigate architects and dilettanti to bore an ungrateful public, year after year, with different solutions of the vexed question. A few specimens of them may be amusing. One suggestion was to put a third story on the top of the Greek porticos and columns of the British Museum, and invite the public to climb a hundred stairs to get to the picture gallery; another was to pull down Burlington House, which Sir William Chambers characterizes as “one of the finest pieces of architecture in Europe,” and turn out the Royal Society. The “ring” in Hyde Park, and the inner circle of the Regent’s Park, were in turn recommended as eligible sites for a picture gallery; it was proposed to convert Marlborough House and St James’s Palace into a great National Gallery; also to pull down Kensington Palace—a favourite idea with The Times and “H. B.” My Lord Elcho proposed to build on the site of the Exhibition of 1851 in Hyde Park, and the Duke of Somerset, when First Commissioner of Works, caused one plan to be prepared for appropriating a part of Kensington Gardens in the Bayswater Road, and a second for erecting a building opposite the Kensington Road. Finally, the House of Commons voted 167,000l., and the Prince Consort added to that sum the surplus of the Exhibition of 1851, with which was bought the land opposite and outside Hyde Park, at Kensington Gore,—a site the government had previously commenced negotiations for with the same object, and failed to secure. The House of Commons, however, rejected[348] the plan for removing the National Gallery to this site; and the present conclusion seems to be that the pictures will remain where they are.

Is it possible to render the structure in Trafalgar Square suitable for a National Picture Gallery? And, if so, how is this desirable object to be effected? We submit, for the consideration of our readers, a very practical answer to these questions.

But first, let us take a view of the extent of the national possessions in pictures. Since the nation acquired the thirty-eight pictures of Mr. Angerstein, its possessions have increased above twenty-five fold: and they would probably have been even much larger, had suitable arrangements been made to exhibit them. To Sir George Beaumont, the Rev. Holwell Carr, Mr. Coningham, and others, the nation is indebted for many fine pictures of the older masters; whilst to Sir John Soane, Mr. Vernon, Mr. Jacob Bell, and Mr. Sheepshanks the country owes its numerous and choice selection of the works of British artists. The collection of his own paintings and drawings bequeathed by the great landscape painter, J. M. W. Turner, would fill a gallery of itself; and in a few years, Chantrey’s bequest of 2,000l. a year to buy modern works will come into operation.

It would be a misappropriation of these artistic treasures to accumulate them all in one gallery, fatiguing the visitor with acres of painted canvas. As national possessions, it would be out of all reason that the metropolis alone should monopolize the enjoyment of them. Since the formation of the National Gallery, the State has aided in the erection of picture-galleries in Dublin and Edinburgh. Even if the principle of centralization were admitted, it would be impossible to find any centre of London equally accessible to its three millions of inhabitants. In the abstract, the central spot would be Smithfield; but no one would be bold enough to say that the public would frequent that spot in greater numbers than they do Trafalgar Square.

The wise and liberal course of dealing with the national pictures would be to render them as useful as possible to the whole of the United Kingdom; to retain in the metropolis a selection, and to circulate the others wherever localities shall provide suitable accommodation for the reception and exhibition of pictures. It would be more useful and interesting that there should be a change of pictures in the provincial localities than fixed collections.[25] The idea of circulation is not new. The public, of its own accord, brings together exhibitions of modern pictures every year in the large towns; and choice works of the old masters, lent by their possessors, and sent from mansions in all parts of the kingdom, are every year entrusted to the managers of the British Institution in[349] Pall Mall. There could be no real administrative difficulties in the State’s dealing with the national pictures in the same way. Of course, legislative powers to remove antiquated obstructions must be obtained, and a proper authority, directly responsible to Parliament, instead of being screened through different Boards of Trustees, would have to be created.

In the metropolis, the head-quarters for the old masters should be at the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square. The British School might remain where it is now well displayed, at South Kensington. On the South of London, there is already the Dulwich Gallery; whilst on the north side in Finsbury or Islington, and on the east in Victoria Park, suitable suburban galleries, with accommodation for schools of Art, might be erected at a cost not exceeding 3,000l. each. Besides the two metropolitan galleries of Dublin and Edinburgh, excellent accommodation for exhibiting and receiving pictures is provided in connection with the Schools of Art at Manchester, Sheffield, Liverpool, Bristol, Wolverhampton, &c. And in all future buildings for schools of Art, towards the cost of which the State is asked to contribute, such aid will only be given upon the condition that provision is made for a suitable exhibiting room.

With these views, the first practical point is to decide what shall be done to supply the present deficiencies of the building in Trafalgar Square. Although Parliament and various administrations have often changed their minds about the locality of the National Gallery, it may be assumed that the present decision is to retain it in Trafalgar Square. Proposals have been discussed for gaining more space by turning out the Royal Academy;[26] which, from its creation, has been housed at the public expense:—not a very large contribution towards its gratuitous teaching[350] of young artists. Last year Mr. Disraeli invited the Royal Academy to transport itself to Burlington House; but it is said that the present government have not renewed the offer of that site. If it can be shown that much better as well as increased accommodation, can be found for the National Pictures, without displacing the Royal Academy, and without necessitating the expenditure of 200,000l. for the purchase of ground and St. Martin’s workhouse, or incurring the cost of removing the barracks, it would seem to be a waste of public money to adopt such measures. Besides, it would not be very convenient for art-students to attend the schools of the Royal Academy in Piccadilly, nor for the public to visit its exhibitions there. Nor should the advantage to the students of their contiguity to the pictures of the old masters be overlooked.

Our proposal, therefore, is to keep both National Gallery and Royal Academy where they now are, and to demonstrate, with the aid of the ingenious constructor of the new Gallery at South Kensington—which for its lighting both by day and night may fairly challenge any other gallery in Europe—how this may be done. The reader, if sufficiently curious, may find on the votes of the House of Commons of last year, in the month of March, a notice as follows:—“22º die Martis 1859:—9. Mr. Adderley. National Gallery. Address for copies of plans and estimates for the alteration of the National Gallery, prepared by Captain Fowke, R.E., and submitted to the Lords of the Committee of Council on Education.”

Owing to a change of Ministry, or some other cause, these plans were not published, but only talked about. The Cornhill Magazine, in laying them before the public, invites discussion and consideration of their merits.

The defects of the present building are many, and are thus summed up by Captain Fowke: “The first object of the building ought to be the proper exhibition of pictures, but by its present arrangements the valuable top-lighted space (the picture space par excellence) to the extent of 8,000 square feet, out of the entire area of 22,000 square feet, is thrown away upon the central hall and passages. The tinted portion on the plan (Fig. 2) shows at a glance the wasted space. The interior of the building is not worthy of the purposes to which it is applied, the entrance-hall being large and unimposing, whilst the approach to the galleries, up a dark stair enclosed between two walls, is singularly wanting in dignity. The communications from room to room are small, and unfitted for the reception of great crowds. There is no space of sufficient dimensions for the proper exhibition of the largest class of pictures. Another point, which must strike every one who has visited continental galleries, is the want of any tribune, or great central point for the reception of the choicest works. The absence of this gives the National Gallery the air of a mere set of rooms, which seem to require to be in some way connected with one another, and with one grand focussing point to give them the unity of a great gallery.”

[To face p. 351.]

Proposed Plan of the First or Principal Floor of the Gallery. Fig. 1.

Present Plan of Gallery. Fig. 2


The two accompanying plans of the first-floors show how the existing building may, at a comparatively small cost, be altered so as to remove the objections stated, while at the same time its accommodation will be largely increased (Figs. 1 and 2). To begin with the entrance. It will be seen from the section (Fig. 3), that the floor of the present picture galleries is 23 feet 6 inches above the foot pavement of the street. If the floor of the central hall then be raised to this level, there will be sufficient height for an entrance-hall under the additional gallery; that is, keeping the floor of the entrance-hall three inches above the pavement, and allowing one foot for the thickness of the floor of the gallery above, there will be a clear height of 22 feet 3 inches for a noble entrance-hall. By removing the present external steps, the entrance from the street will be at each side under the present portico floor, the flagging of which will be replaced by a light glass and iron ceiling, so constructed as not to be seen from the square in front; the space under the portico will then form a well-lighted vestibule to the hall. The hall will be carried back into the present Royal Academy sculpture-room, from the enlarged skylight of which, and from a series of windows over the floor of the portico in front, it would be amply lighted. The apsidal end under the skylight would afford a good position for the few pieces of sculpture belonging to the National Collection. By this arrangement the visitor may at once step from a carriage across the pavement into a warm hall, instead of having to ascend a flight of steps, and in rainy weather get wet before he reaches even the portico.

Four staircases, each stair eight feet wide, will lead from either side of this hall to the galleries above; of which the central one would consist of a tribune, or salon carré, of nobler proportions than that at the Louvre. From a deep recess at the sides of this tribune, openings would lead each way into an uninterrupted series of rooms, and by bringing the doorways of these rooms into one line, and increasing them to twelve feet in width, an effective vista the entire length of the building (450 feet) would be obtained, which might be decorated with columns and arches, as in similar openings in the galleries of the Vatican. (See Fig. 5.)

By bringing the retired portion of the wings forward to the line of their projecting front, and throwing each wing into two good rooms in line with those above named, it will then be seen that the entire top-lighted area of the building is made available, with the exception of the small spaces actually occupied by the stairs. The saving in space, in square feet, will be apparent from the following table of the floor areas of the top-lighted part of the building as it is at present, and as now proposed:—

As at present (including Royal Academy) 22,540 14,090 8,450
As proposed 23,560 22,488 1,071

From which it appears that while at present the lost space is three-fifths of that reserved for exhibition, in the proposed plan the loss would be[352] reduced to one twenty-second part of the available space; the exhibition area being increased by more than one-half its present quantity.

View of Interior of National Gallery as Proposed. Fig. 5.

In measuring the superficial contents of wall space for hanging pictures in the present and proposed galleries, the same proportion holds good. The hanging space in the present National Gallery is 10,000 square feet, which would be increased to 20,000 square feet, whilst the 10,000 square feet of the Royal Academy would be increased 10,194 square feet.

On the lower floor, the only room now available for exhibition is that in which the Turner drawings are stored away—a room containing 900 square feet of floor area; and from the unfortunate circumstance, not to say absurd arrangement of the entrance being down a descending and dark stair, the public impression has been that the lower rooms were merely a superior kind of cellars. The public will recollect the dismal impression which the Vernon pictures made in these rooms.

[To face p. 352.]

Longitudinal Section through Central Hall. Fig. 3. *Present Level of Floor of Central Hall.

Revised Elevation. Fig. 4.


By the arrangement proposed, a space of 3,300 square feet will be available for exhibiting drawings of the old masters; and these rooms will be entered at once from the entrance-hall, by an ascending staircase, by which the disagreeable impression above alluded to would be avoided.

The proposed changes would also greatly benefit both the exhibitions and the schools of the Royal Academy. They would increase and improve the exhibiting space; giving five large rooms, instead of seven small ones, as at present: two large rooms being obtained by the suppression of four small ones. (See Figs. 1 and 2.) The Royal Academy, at present, has a room appropriated to sculpture, which has long been designated “the Cellar,” and in which works are deposited, rather than exhibited: the loss of such a room is almost a gain. Next, it would lose the dark little octagon room; which, after many efforts to make it a room for exhibition, has lapsed into the condition of an ante-room, containing a few prints. The other two rooms suppressed by the new plan are the two small side rooms at present appropriated to the architectural drawings and the miniatures; though they are confessedly far too small for their purpose.

The distribution of the increased space available for the exhibitions of the Royal Academy might be as follows:—The first great room at the top of the new staircase might be devoted to the sculptors; visitors would then pass through it, and examine the works of sculpture, instead of having to diverge to a “cellar,” as at present, or quitting the Exhibition without seeing the sculpture, as many do. As the entrance would be in the centre of the building, and lighted from the top, the sculpture might be arranged in two noble semicircles, forming a grand art entrance into the collections, and giving that importance to the sculpture which it deserves. The sculptors would thus at least double the number of their visitors. From this room the visitors would proceed into the next, where the space on the left might be devoted to architectural drawings, and that on the right to miniatures and water-colour paintings. These works, especially the architectural, would be appropriately placed, and the miniatures and pictures in water-colours would gain in richness by being viewed after the colourless marbles, and before the eye had become accustomed to the fuller richness of the paintings in oil. After thus greatly improving the exhibitions of sculpture, architecture, and water-colour paintings, there would still remain the same amount of exhibiting space as at present for oil pictures. Thus far the change is clearly a great gain to all the exhibitors.

The advantages that would accrue to the students of the Royal Academy have now to be considered, and are, perhaps, even still more important. It is hardly known to the world outside that in the schools of the Royal Academy almost all the rising artists of the country receive a free education in art. At present, however, the schools are subject to the disadvantage of being closed during the months when the exhibition is open. This has long been deplored, equally by the students and academicians,[354] but it was unavoidable, since the rooms used for exhibition are those also used as schools of art. By the new arrangements of the plan of the lower story, three excellent rooms may be provided which could be used throughout the year without interruption: the first as an antique school, the second as a life school, the third as a painting school; and thus there would be no necessity to close these schools during nearly five months in the year. In order to give the schools the advantage of an uninterrupted north light, it would be desirable that the Royal Academy should occupy the west end of the building, and the National Gallery the east. The National Gallery would not be prejudiced in the least by this change, as all the galleries are lighted from the top. The rooms below, if used for the exhibition of the drawings of the old masters, as proposed, would be lighted quite sufficiently from windows at the side, as the best authorities prescribe a light not too glaring, since drawings are liable to fade, if exposed to too much light.

As will be seen from the elevation (Fig. 4), the alterations of the exterior of the building are of no great extent, the principal being (in addition to that already described in the wings) the removal of the central and two secondary domes, and the substitution of an attic story, carried over the central portion of the building; the general effect of which would be improved by the removal of the small secondary four-column porticos. If any one will stand in the front of the building, which is only 450 feet in length, he will be able to count no less than thirteen different fronts, none of them differing much in extent; the composition is thus broken up, the unity and mass of the building are lost, and the repose and dignity which should characterize an important public edifice are entirely wanting. By the proposed arrangement, the whole façade would be thrown into an imposing centre, with two massive wings connected with it by unbroken curtains. That impression of meanness and want of height, produced by the puny and meagre dome and insignificant cupolas, would be removed by the substitution of the attic, which would have the effect of elevating the entire mass of the building.

In the proposed alterations it is presumed that there would be no difficulty in closing up the two passages which lead from the square to Duke’s Court and to the barracks; though if it were thought desirable, one or both of these could be retained. The entrance to these passages is now effected by an ascending flight of ten steps; by simply reversing this arrangement and substituting a descending flight, the passages could be carried through the building below the floor of the present lower rooms.

The estimated cost of the entire alteration is under 34,000l., which has been verified by a responsible builder; but to provide for additional decorations and contingencies a sum of (say) 50,000l. might be allowed; and even this, to accomplish the objects proposed, would be a moderate and justifiable outlay, which the public would scarcely grudge for such[355] results; and the Royal Academy might not object to share the expense, as they would participate in the advantages of the improvements.

These alterations and improvements, moreover, could be effected without closing the Gallery for a day.

By using the entrance under the western side portico as a temporary entrance for the public, the centre part could be finished without interfering with the National Gallery, and by moving the pictures into the portion completed (a work of a few hours) the wing might be in like manner finished, the public being then admitted through the new entrance-hall.

Briefly to sum up, the advantages to be gained are—

1. The whole of the top-lighted space will be utilized.

2. The lower floors will also be made available for exhibition and schools.

3. The means of access and of internal communication will be improved.

4. The picture space for the National Gallery will be doubled, without disturbing the Royal Academy.

5. The space available for exhibiting drawings, &c. will be increased about fourfold.

6. The appearance of the building both externally and internally will be improved.

7. The whole alteration can be completed within six months, and without moving a single picture out of the building, or closing the National Gallery to the public for a single day.

8. The cost of the entire work would not exceed 50,000l.

Any other plan than the above will delay the settlement of this vexed question interminably, and will lead to an expenditure of hundreds of thousands of pounds; whereas the adoption of the present proposal, coupled with the principle of local circulation rather than metropolitan centralization, will promote a taste for art throughout the United Kingdom, and enlist the sympathies and assistance of all in the conservation and extension of a National Collection of Pictures, thus rendered accessible to the population of the most remote districts.


[25] Mr. T. Fairbairn is usefully striving to establish a public Gallery of Art at Manchester; but however rich it may become in local resources, specimens of Beato Angelicos, Raffaelles, and the like, successively introduced, for a season, from time to time, would have a very beneficial influence on the tastes of the visitors.

[26] So much doubt and ignorance exists on the subject of the tenure by which the Royal Academy holds its premises, that the official answer of Henry Howard, the Keeper, has been exhumed from parliamentary records to remove them. Mr. Howard says:—

“There are no expressed conditions on which the apartments at Somerset House were originally bestowed on the Royal Academy. The Royal Academy of Arts took possession of the apartments which they occupy in Somerset House, in April 1780, by virtue of a letter from the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury to the Surveyor General, directing him to deliver over to the Treasurer of the Royal Academy, all the apartments allotted to his Majesty’s said Academy in the new buildings at Somerset House, which are to be appropriated to the uses specified in the several plans of the same heretofore settled.”

“The Royal Academy received these apartments as a gift from their munificent founder, George the Third; and it has always been understood by the members that his Majesty, when he gave up to the government his palace of old Somerset House (where the Royal Academy was originally established), stipulated that apartments should be erected for that establishment in the new building. The Royal Academy remained in the old palace till those rooms were completed which had been destined for their occupation; plans of which had been submitted to their approval, and signed by the president, council, and officers.”


A Winter Wedding-Party in the Wilds.

“I’m sorry for the lasses’ disappointment, wife, but they can’t go. It would be madness to think of it. The phaeton would be broken to bits, if the grey mare could do the distance, in such weather, which she couldn’t; and if we were to send into Winton to ask, there’s not one of the inns would let a chaise go out of the yard after last night’s fall of snow.”

For two or three minutes there was a blank silence round the breakfast table; Anne’s eyes grew tearfully bright, Sophy looked rebellious, and I began to experience a painful difficulty in swallowing as I stared out of the window at the hopeless prospect of a great drift, which levelled the garden hedge with the fields beyond, and went sloping up in a snowy undulation to the brow of the Langhill.

“If a phaeton can’t pull through the snow, how will Cousin Mary get to church to be married?” proposed Sophy.

“She’ll ride as your father and mother did on the same occasion, Miss.”

“I wore a plum-coloured cloth habit, faced with velvet, and sugar-loaf buttons, and a hat with a gold band on it,” said Mrs. Preston. “I believe, father, it was a morning to the full as bad as this, was our wedding; and yet didn’t all the folks come over from Appley Moor? To be sure they did, every one of them!”

“And the road from Appley Moor to Rookwood Grange is worse than the road we should have to go, isn’t it, mother?” insinuated Sophy.

“Couldn’t be worse than Binks’ Wold,” replied her father; and to spare himself any further aggravation from our faces of reproach and mortification, he marched away, after his ample breakfast, out of the room, and out of the house. Mrs. Preston disappeared also, and we three young ones were left alone to bewail our disappointment.

And a cruel disappointment it was; perhaps more cruel to me than to my school-friends, for I was a town-bred girl, only staying my Christmas holidays at Ripstone Farm, and never in my life had I been to any entertainment more exciting than a breaking-up dance all of girls. The wedding at the Grange was known of before I came, and so I had been sent from home provided with crisp white muslin, tucked ever so high, with rose-coloured bows and sash; and only the Saturday previous, Anne’s and Sophy’s new frocks had come from the dressmaker’s, by the Winton carrier, and had been pronounced, with their sky-blue trimmings, so pretty, so sweetly pretty! When Mr. Preston had said we could not go to the wedding-party, my first thought had been of my frock, and when we came to compare notes, Anne’s and Sophy’s regrets proved to have taken the same direction. With one consent we adjourned up-stairs, to indulge the luxury of woe over our sacrificed finery, but that mournful exercise palling upon us fast, Sophy and I found our way, by a swept foot-path, into the garden, where the two boys of the family were constructing a snow-man of grand proportions. Shovels were proposed to us to help, and[357] we were cavalierly dismissed to find them in the tool-house for ourselves, when we unexpectedly met the foreman at the door. Sophia told him how that, on account of the snow, we could not go to the wedding-party at the Grange, and appealed to him if it were really and truly out of the question to attempt it.

“Unpossible, Miss Sophy, quite unpossible for the pheyton an’ grey mear, but I could get yo there,” replied foreman, with a confidential wag of his head.

“How, John, how?”

“Why, Miss, I’ll tell ’ee. I’ th’ broad-wheeled wagon wi’ fower hosses, an’ a tilt ower-head. Put a mattruss an’ plenty o’ rugs iv’ th’ insoide, an’ yo’d goa as cosy as cosy could be. Long Tom to lead, an’ me to foller.”

“I’ll ask father if we mayn’t?” cried Sophy, and away she flew in search of him.

In a few minutes she came speeding back, clapping her hands, and announcing that he would see about it; so in we ran to tell Anne.

“When father says he’ll see about anything he means it shall be done,” replied Anne; “let us go and begin packing our frocks!”

And so it was decided that we should go to the wedding-party after all! We were in exuberant spirits at our early dinner, for at two o’clock we were to start. John and Tom were fixing the tilt upon the wagon then, and the horses were eating double feeds of corn in preparation for the work that was before them. We had full ten miles to go, and Mr. Preston thought it might be done by six o’clock, when we should have plenty of time to get warmed, and make ourselves grand before tea, at seven.

“And I expect you’ll bring us word you’ve each found a beau; you too, Miss Poppy,” said the farmer, addressing me.

“I think Cousin Joseph will just suit her,” cried Sophy.

“As you lasses always go by the rule of contraries, perhaps he will. He’s as tall as a house-end, and as thin as a whipping-post, Miss Poppy. Do you think you’ll match?”

I did not like the allusion to my own brevity of stature, and determined to hate the lanky Joseph on the spot.

Dinner was a mere fiction for us that day, and when we were free to quit the table, away we scampered to be swathed up. About Sophy and Anne I cannot undertake to speak; but for myself, I know I could not stir a limb for weight of cloaks, skirts, boots, and comforters, when I was finished off in the hall, and yet I was in a breathless state of eagerness to be in the wagon, and experiencing the delicious sensations of actually setting off. There were, of course, twenty little things to be done at the last—the lanterns to be fitted with fresh candles, the great wooden mallets to be found, to stop the wheels from slipping down hill when the horses had to rest going up, and a bottle of rum-and-water, to be mixed for the refreshment of John and Long Tom on the way.

The wagon looked quite pictorial, as I remember it, standing in the slanting, winterly sunshine, with the team of ponderous black horses which[358] no other farmer in the district could match, and the water-proof tilt used to cover the loads of corn when they were carried to the miller at Winton, set upon an arched framework, and closed like curtains, back and front. Inside, the wagon was made comfortable with a mattress and a supply of pillows and blankets, amongst which we were charged to go to sleep as we were returning home in the morning. Sophy was the first to set foot on the step, but her father stopt her.

“Let’s have you in dry-shod, at all events—lift them in at the back, John;” and accordingly, like three bundles of hay, we were hoisted under the tilt, received our final messages, cautions, and counsels; after which all was made secure in the rear, to shut out the wind, only a peep-hole being allowed us in front, over the horses’ broad backs. Then wagoner cracked his long whip, uttered a hoarse gee-whoa, and the heavy procession moved slowly off across the home-pastures.

What a merry trio we were under the tilt; how we laughed, and chattered, and sang! and only a dozen years ago! Lord! what a change a dozen years can make amongst the liveliest of us!

It was, I cannot deny it, a cold and tedious journey. Before one-half of it was accomplished the pale sunshine had faded from the snow, and the gray twilight was coming down upon the hills under a leaden vault of sky which promised another storm before the morning. Long Tom plodded patiently on at the leader’s head, now cracking his whip, now cheering his horses forward with a gruff encouragement, but never vouchsafing a word to anybody else. Foreman was more sociably disposed; he took brief rides on the shafts and the front of the wagon, and from time to time put his broad brown face in at the opening of the tilt, and inquired how we were getting on. Before it grew dark, there was a pretty long stoppage for a consultation, and Anne and Sophy were taken into council. John was spokesman, and addressed himself to Sophy, who was the imperative mood of the Preston family, and ruled many things both in-doors and out at Ripstone Farm, though she was only the younger daughter.

“We’ve split, Long Tom and me, Miss Sophy, and I want to know what you says, and Miss Anne. There’s two ways to Rookwood, and Tom’s for going by t’ Scaur, but I votes for Binks’ Wold:—it’s a stiffish pull, but it’s safest. Now, if we goes by t’ Scaur, an’ we finds a drift across t’ hollow, as most likelings we should, turn back we must; we couldn’t haul through it nohow—an’ there’s Dimple Quarries—I never likes passing them quarries after dark.”

“Binks’ Wold, John,” pronounced Sophy, imperially; “we’ll have nothing to say to the Scaur or the Quarries after daylight. We should not be worth picking up, Tom, if you drove us over the cliff.”

Long Tom did not attempt to argue the point, but cracked his whip sharply, and again the horses moved on; more slowly now than before, for the road, such as it was, wound circuitously up-hill for nearly half a mile. Four times during the ascent we stopped to breathe the horses, but at last John, looking in on us, announced in mysterious terms that “we had[359] brokken t’ neck o’ t’ journey, an’ should be at the Grange i’ no time.” I could not resist the temptation to crawl to the opening, and look out; Anne and Sophy joining me. There we were on the crest of Binks’ Wold: far as eye could see, one undulation of snow; the black horses, with their heads a little turned from the road, smoking in the frosty air, like four masked furnaces. Long Tom, with his lantern, stood at the leader’s head, throwing a grotesque shadow across the whitened road, and John clumped up and down, with his pipe in his mouth, to warm his nose, as he said.

Foreman’s “no time” proved to be full an hour and a half; and in that dusky interval, spite of our excited anticipations, we all began to feel drowsy. At last, Sophy declared, yawning, that we must be nearly there; and, looking out, she announced the tower of Rookwood Church, where Cousin Mary was married in the morning; upon which, we all brisked up, and became excessively wide-awake. The Grange was only a mile and a quarter further, and as Sophy held the tilt open, by-and-by we could see it; three long ruddy shining windows on the ground floor, and two in the chamber story, peeping out from amongst the great white trees. Another ten minutes, and we stopped at the gate; but before we stopped, we saw the house door opened, and, against the bright glow within, half a dozen or more dark figures appeared coming out to meet us.

“Capital, lasses! we were beginning to think Uncle Preston wouldn’t let you come!” cried a jolly voice.

“He would have had hard work to keep some of us, Cousin David,” responded Sophy, and, having extricated her limbs from some of her most cumbrous swathements, she proffered herself to be lifted out first.

I thought I was going to be forgotten, and carted away to the stables, for when Sophy and Anne were gone, the noisy group marched back to the house in double quick time, and the door was just being shut when Sophy shrieked out, “Cousin David, you’ve not brought in Poppy!” and the young giant tore down the path, pulled me out of the wagon, much bedazed and on the verge of tears, carried me roughly off, and plumped me down on my feet in the midst of the sonorous gathering, crying, in a voice enough to blow a house-roof off, “Who’s this little body?”

The Babel that ensued for the next ten minutes, when everybody spoke at once to everybody else, each in a voice big enough for ten, united to the pricking sensation which I now began to experience in coming out of the frost into a thoroughly heated house, finished the prostration of my faculties, and I remember nothing more until I found myself with Anne, Sophy, and two strangers in a large bedroom, where a fire of logs blazed in the grate, and a wide-mouthed damsel was unpacking our white frocks. “Well, Cousin Mary, good luck to you!” cried Sophy, kissing the taller of the two strangers very heartily; “and you got all safely married this morning, I suppose?”

I looked, and beheld the bride. Never, to my recollection, had I seen a bride before, and I romantically anticipated a glorified vision, quite distinct in appearance from all other womankind; but I only beheld a large[360] young person, plump, fair, and ruddy, with eyes of a soft expression as she stood on the hearth with the light shining up into them, and a quantity of very wavy dark hair, which the wind in the hall had blown all off her face: an uncommonly pretty, attractive, loveable face it was; but it was only a woman’s after all, and she talked something about tea-cakes! I believe I was disappointed.

The bride’s sister was Kate; younger and livelier, at present, than Mary, though not so handsome. She was Sophy’s peculiar friend amongst the cousins, and the pair now betook themselves for private conversation and the decorative process to Kate’s room. Mary and Anne had some low-voiced chat apart, to which I was carefully deaf; but, when their secrets were told, Mary, chancing to look round, saw me fumbling, with benumbed fingers, at buttons and hooks and eyes, and took me under hand immediately, hugging me up in her warm arms, with the exclamation, that the little mite was half frozen. I found her very nice and comfortable then; better by far than anything more angelic and exalted.

We were not long in arranging ourselves, and then Sophy and Kate being routed out from their retreat, we formed a procession downstairs; Mary and Anne arm-in-arm, and I under Mary’s other wing, and Sophy and Kate in an affectionate feminine entanglement behind. All the cousins got up and roared at us again, in those big voices of theirs, chorussed by various guests, and put us into the warmest seats; mine being a footstool by Mary at one side of the fire-place, where I felt most cosily arranged for getting toasted, and seeing everybody. And there were plenty of people to see. It was a very long room in which we were, having on one side the three windows which we had seen shining from the road, and seats in them where the girls had stowed themselves in knots, the red curtains making a background for their figures, which was as pictorial as need be. The men folk were mostly young, and mostly sons of Anak, like the cousins, but there were a few elders, contemporaries of Mary’s father, who was a white-haired, handsome old man; and there were also several matronly women, mothers of the occupants of the window-seats, and of the young men their brothers. Everybody called everybody else by his or her Christian name in the most friendly way, and it was not until the evening was half over that I began to find out who was who, for such a ceremony as introduction seemed quite unheard of. To be sure, Sophy brought up a long rail of a boy to me who seemed to have a difficulty with his arms, and said significantly, “Poppy, this is Cousin Joseph; now, Joseph, you are to be polite to Miss Poppy;” but no civilities ensued, and my attention was called away by hearing Mary say in a soft, half-laughing tone, “George, look at your boots.” She must have meant something else, for glancing at the person whom she addressed, I saw that he had turned his trousers up to come out into the snow when we arrived, and that he was now sitting with them stretched out before him in that inappropriate arrangement. He coolly stooped and put them right, and then looked at Mary, and smiled.

“Who is it?” whispered I.


“It’s George!” said she, and blushed a little, from which I guessed George must be the bridegroom—George Standish, whose name and description Sophy had given me before we came; and given very accurately. He was tall, but not so tall as the cousins, and broad-shouldered, but he would never carry anything like their weight. Then he had blue-black hair, beard, and brows, and a clever-looking face; very broad and white as to the forehead, and very brown as to all below it. I had heard him praised as a most kind and skilful country surgeon, and the best rider ’cross country in that or any ten parishes of the Wolds, and he looked as if both encomiums must be true. It was quite a love-match, everybody said. Mary might have married more money, but she preferred George, like a wise woman. Two of her ancient aspirants were present and pointed out to me by Sophy: old Mr. Jewson, of Harghill Farm, who was rich enough to have kept her a carriage if she would have taken him for that; and young Philip Murgatroyd, a man with a fierce face, who might have been a melodramatic villain, but was not—only a young farmer with innovating ideas.

The unsuppressed noise did not cease for a moment, and I saw the wide-mouthed damsel at the door thrice announce tea as ready before she made herself heard by her mistress; but once heard, a simultaneous hungry movement took place, and Cousin David came and roared at me, “Now, little Miss Poppy, we will go in together, and you shall sit by me.” So I rose up, proposing to stiffen my back and lay my hand lightly on the young giant’s arm, as we had been laboriously taught to do at dancing-school, when I felt that powerful masculine member encircling me behind, and I saw the biggest boots that had ever met my eyes break into an uncouth step to which I was perforce compelled to keep a measure with my own toes in the air; they only alighted once, and that was on one of the boots aforesaid, which they would have delighted to crush into mummy if they had been able.

Finally I was landed breathless and shaken, like a kitten that a terrier has had in its mouth for frolic rather than mischief, in a chair very broad in the beam, which I was expected to share in part with my big cavalier, for, long as was the table, each individual of the company took up so much room that hardly was there found accommodation for all. But at last everybody was shaken into place, and the business of the hour began. And a most weighty business it was. My eyes have never since beheld such a tea; a cold sirloin of beef, ham boiled and ham frizzled, game pie and game roast, and every kind of tart and cake that the ingenuity of cook with unlimited materials could devise. Cousin David swiftly supplied me with provisions for a week, and then Cousin Joseph, who happened to be on the other side of me, hospitably wished to add more, on which Cousin David leant across and said, “No poaching on my manor, Master Joseph; attend you to your left-hand neighbour. Now, Miss Poppy, I am going to give you a pretty little wing of this partridge,”—which he did, and then took the rest of the bird to his own share.


It vanished quickly, as did an extensive miscellaneous collection of the other good things, and notwithstanding continuous relays from the kitchen, the table presently showed signs of devastation. The bride and bridegroom, Anne, and Sophy, were out of my sight, but directly opposite, with Cousin Kate dividing them, were two young men, one fair, florid, and with curly pate, called Dick, the other dark, with long, straight, black hair, and a most lugubrious countenance, called Bob Link. Yet if that lugubrious countenance had not much signs of mirth in itself, it was the cause of mirth in others, for he never opened his lips but all those within hearing of him laughed. Bob Link was a medical student with Mr. Standish, and, as Cousin David explained, a regular wag.

Tea was a prolonged ceremony, and was only ended by the shrill sound of a violin, when somebody cried, “Come!” and again Cousin David executed his pas de terrier, with me in his hand, down the broad stone passage until we came to the Grange kitchen, which was a vast place with an open raftered roof, now hidden under garlands of Christmas green, and a white flagged floor which was cleared for a dance. It looked so bright and gay! Such a mighty fire of logs roared in the chimney, wide as an ordinary room, with cushioned settles in its arched recess; the great dresser glittered with metal trenchers and tankards, glinting back sparkles of light from the little oil lamps which had been ingeniously mixed amongst the evergreens where they shone like glowworms.

My young toes tingled to begin, and when the fiddles and other instruments of music tuned up in a frolicsome country dance, the swains began to pick out favourite partners. The bride and bridegroom stood top couple, and I don’t know who came next, for while I was hoping and fearing whether anybody would ask me, Cousin David arrived and spun me up to the end of a long rank of girls. The fiddles started, and Sophy shrieked out franticly, “Now, Poppy, Poppy, be ready! It’s hands across and back again, down the middle and up again—Cousin Mary and David, and you and George Standish!” and then away we went!

We shall never dance a country dance like that again! Cousin David emulated his royal Hebrew namesake, and I should have thought him a delightful partner if he would not quite so often have made me do my steps on nothing. That was glorious exercise for a frosty winter’s evening, and made all our cheeks rosy and all our eyes bright.

When that set was finished, curly Mr. Dick came and asked me to dance the next with him, which I did, and then to the tune of “Merrily danced the Quaker’s wife, and merrily danced the Quaker,” Bob Link was my partner. That medical youth had missed his vocation in not going as clown to a circus, for the grotesquerie of his actions, and the inimitable solemnity of his visage, kept everybody in roars of laughter all through his performance, and we never had to meet and take hold of hands that he did not address me with some absurd speech that made me peal out just like the rest. I never sat out once. It was great fun. We had the “Lancers,” in which everybody was perfect, and common quadrilles, and[363] sarabandes, and one or two tried a waltz, but country dances were the favourites, and there the elders joined in. Uncle and Aunt Preston danced, and old Mr. Jewson, who chose me for his partner, and took snuff at intervals, through the set, and nodded his wig at me, but never spoke.

Just before supper somebody called out for a game of forfeits, and “My Lady’s Toilet” was fixed upon. Do you know how to play “Lady’s Toilet?” It is an old-fashioned game that all our revered grandmothers played at, though exploded in polite society now, but I daresay it still survives at wold weddings. And this is the way of it. Each person in the company chooses the name of some article of a lady’s dress, and all sit round the room in order except one, who stands in the middle with a trencher which he begins to spin on the floor, singing out monotonously—

“My lady went to her toilet,
In her chamber so pretty and neat,
And said to her damsel Oyclet,
‘Bring me my bracelet, sweet.’”

And then the person called Bracelet must dash in and catch the trencher before it ceases to spin, on the penalty of a forfeit, which may be glove, handkerchief or what not. All the forfeits are kept until the close of the game, and then the penalties are exacted.

This part of the game is generally considered the most amusing, for the penalties, as at Rookwood Grange, are generally the most whimsical and ridiculous that can be devised. Bob Link was elected to the office of sentencer on this occasion, and when I saw what he inflicted, I began to quake for myself, as I remembered the one white glove of mine that lay in the confiscated heap before him. He took up a silk handkerchief and began—“Here is a thing, and a very pretty thing, whose, let me know, is this pretty thing?” Curly Mr. Dick acknowledged it, whereupon he was ordered to lie flat on the floor and repeat the following absurd lines:—

“Here lies the length of a long, lazy lubber,
And here must he lie
Till the lass he loves best comes and kisses him.”

There seemed every chance of his continuing to decorate the floor all night, for in spite of his touching and laughable appeals, of course no one went near him; so, at last, up he sprang, and catching Cousin Kate, he kissed her; Kate not testifying any reliable signs of wrath, but only knitting her brows, while her eyes and lips laughed. Then lanky Cousin Joseph was ordered to “bow to the wittiest, kneel to the prettiest, and kiss the lass he loved best,” all of which ceremonies he performed before one and the same person—namely, Cousin Sophy, who was unfeignedly indignant thereat—Cousin Joseph always testified for her a loutish but most sincere and humble admiration. Another young man had to sing a song, which he did in the dolefulest manner, ending each verse with an unsupported chorus of “If we fall, we’ll get up again, we always did yet!” which was every word of the ditty that I could distinguish. Then I saw my own poor little glove drawn out, and Mr. Bob Link repeated[364] his incantation—“Here is a thing, and a very pretty thing, whose, let me know, is this pretty thing?” and when I quivered out that it was mine, he said, “Oh! little Miss Poppy, it is yours, is it? Well, then, you must stand in the middle of the kitchen, under that green bush you see hanging down, and spell opportunity with Mr. David——” I thought I could do that, being well up in dictation-class at school, so when Cousin David laughing took me off to the public station, where the penalty was to be performed, I began breathlessly—“O-p op, p-o-r por;” when he cried, “No, no, that’s wrong; I must teach you,” and bending down his face, he was actually proposing to kiss me between each syllable, when I flung up one of my little paws and clutched his hair, ducked my own head down, finished the word, broke loose, and scurried back to my place in much less time than it has taken me to record the feat, while Cousin David, in the midst of a shout of laughter, cried out: “You little vixen!” while I asseverated vehemently, “I spelt it, I spelt it, I spelt it!” in answer to an outcry, that it would not do, and I must go back again. I would not do that, however, and Cousin David came and sat down by me feeling his nose reproachfully, and saying, “She scratches!” and I had scratched him, and I was glad of it; but Curly Dick said it was all for love, and that he had seen me hide the handful of hair I had torn off David’s pate, that I might carry it off home to have it made into a locket.

Before the forfeits were well paid, supper was ready, and in spite of my ill-usage, Cousin David would be my cavalier again; he was a good-humoured young giant, very like his sister Mary, and I began to feel a little triumphant over him, in spite of his size, after my recent exploit, and when he talked, I talked again in my little way, except when I was listening to the healths being drunk, and thanks returned, after the country fashion at marriage festivities. Cousin Mary was in her place, with George Standish beside her, and I saw her give a little start and blush when “Mr. and Mrs. George Standish” were coupled together, but of all the fun to me old Mr. Jewson was now the greatest. He never raised his glass to his lips, which he did pretty frequently, without giving utterance to a sentiment: “May the man never grow fat who wears two faces under one hat!” or something of a similar character, and on the name of an individual, who was not popular in the district, being mentioned, he drunk again, prefacing it with, “Here’s a porcupine saddle and a high trotting horse to that fellow!” to which several responded with gruff “Amens!”

Supper did not last so long as tea, and when it was over, some one said Cousin Mary and George Standish were going home, and when most of us returned to the kitchen and parlour, they disappeared; Mary going upstairs with her mother, sister, and cousins to make ready. But we watched the start from one of the windows, where we had drawn the curtains back. The moon was up, and the wind had broken and scattered the clouds, so we saw them mount their horses, for they had three miles to ride, and David and Joseph were to set them part of the way. In the midst of a chorus of “good-byes,” and “God bless you, Marys,” they[365] rode away, Mary never looking up, that I could see, from the moment her husband had lifted her into the saddle; but I don’t think she was crying. Her mother cried, though, but not long; the duties of hostess soon dried her tears, and she was busy trying to set us all dancing again, while Curly Dick marched up and down the room, trolling out a love-song in the mellowest voice I ever remember to have heard.

There were more dances, and more games, and then the cousins returned frosty-faced and livelier than ever to join us, and so we went on and on, the hours slipping by uncounted, until a message came from Long Tom that our time was up, and he was wanting to take his horses home.

So there was the re-swathing against the cold to be done, and then our grand team came creaking to the gate, and the dark figures poured out into the snow again; our hands were shaken, and the cousins all kissed in a cousinly way, as good-nights were said. Then Cousin Joseph lifted Sophy into the wagon, and somebody else, who had been very constant all night at Anne’s elbow, did the same kindness for her, and Cousin David, before I was aware, had hold of me.

“Now, Miss Poppy, you’re going to give me a kiss, I know,” said he persuasively, to which I responded, “No, I was not.” “Then I shan’t let you go without;” and immediately he took unfair advantage of his strength to the extortion of half-a-dozen, and then put me carefully into the wagon.

“Are you cross, Poppy? If you don’t like to keep Cousin David’s kisses, give him them back again,” said Sophy, and then foreman looked to see that all was right, Long Tom cracked his whip, and away we went through the dark and frosty morning. Three struck by Rookwood church clock just as we passed it.

After a little gossip over the events of the evening, we began to be drowsy, and dropt off, one by one, into the sound sleep of youth and health, waking no more until Mr. Preston’s jolly voice greeted us from his bedroom window, with “All safe and sound, lasses?” Then we were bundled in-doors, and set down to hot coffee, and an early breakfast by the kitchen fire, after which we pronounced ourselves as fresh as daisies; had a good ducking, re-dressed, and were ready to help in finishing off the great snow-man, when the boys came down. Ah! we can’t dance six hours on end now, take a nap in a wagon, and make a snow-man after it with unwearied zest! That trio under the tilt, that merry trio, will never in this world meet again. Lively Sophy is under the sod, and quiet Anne with father and mother, brothers, and husband, is far away over the seas, leading a new life in a new country; and, as for Miss Poppy, in recalling the merry days when she was young, she sees so many shadows amongst the living figures, that if the winter wedding in the wolds could come again, half the dancers on the floor would be only dim and doleful ghosts,—’Tis a dozen years ago!


Student Life in Scotland.

I fear that this paper will sadly resemble the well-known chapter on the snakes of Iceland. There are no snakes in that ill-at-ease island, and there is little student life in Scotland. It may smack of the emerald phraseology of our Irish friends to say, that in a country abounding in students, and not backward in study, there is little of student life; but that is because, in common parlance, life is used to signify one of the forms of life—society. It shows clearly enough how thoughts run, when the name of student life is not given to the solitary turning of pages and wasting of midnight oil—to the mastering of Greek particles and the working of the differential calculus, but to the amusements of young men when they have thrown aside their books, to the alliances which they form, to the conversations they start, to their hunting, to their boating, to their fencing, to their drinking, to their love-making,—in a word, to their social ways. Read any account of student life in England, in Ireland, or in Germany, and tell me whether the studies of the young fellows are not the least part of what is regarded in a university education. It is very sad to hear of a pluck; and a novelist is a cruel-hearted wretch who will introduce that incident, after showing us to our content how debts should be incurred, how foxes are run down, how wine-parties are conducted, how Julia loses her heart, and how the proctor loses his temper; but it is only in this way—it is only by introducing the academical guillotine upon the stage, that we discover the university, as it appears in a novel, to be the sacred haunts of the Muses. Shall we go to Germany? It is not the subjective and the objective—it is not the identity of the identical and the non-identical—it is not lexicons and commentaries that we hear of. The song of the Burschen is in our ears; we move in a world that is made up of but two elements—beer and smoke; duels are fought for our edification; riots are raised for the express purpose of amusing us; the girl at the beerhouse is of more account than Herr Professor; and, on the whole, it seems as if the university were a glorious institution, to teach young men the true art of merrymaking. Nor are the novelists altogether wrong in declaring that these doings are a fair sample of university life. What is it that draws men to the university? The chance of a fellowship, and the other prizes of a successful university career, will no doubt attract some men; but we know that independently of prizes and honours, a university education has a very high value in this country. And why? Is it because of the knowledge of books acquired? Is it because a young man cannot coach for his degree in Manchester, or in the Isle of Wight, or in the Isle of Dogs, as well as in Oxford or Cambridge? Is there no balm save in Gilead? Are mathematics confined to the reeds of Cam, and classics to the willows of Isis? May we not read but in Balliol or Trinity? Doubtless, the education provided in these ancient seminaries is of the very highest quality; but learning may[367] be obtained elsewhere than at college. For that matter, indeed, most men are self-educated. What they acquire from a teacher is as nothing to what they acquire from their own researches. What a university or a great public school gives, that cannot be obtained elsewhere, is society—the society of equal minds. A boy is taken from under the parental wing, is sent to school and thrown upon his own resources. He can no longer sing out when he is worsted—“I’ll tell mamma;” he has to hold his own in a little world that is made up entirely of boys; he must learn independence; he must fight his way: he must study the arts of society before he has well laid aside his petticoats. So at college—it is in the clash of wit and the pulling of rival oars, it is in the public life and the social habit, it is in the free-and-easy measuring of man with man, that the chief value of a residence in the university lies. The system no doubt has its drawbacks. We must take the bad with the good; and no man who has had experience of it will deny that almost nothing in after life can make up for the want of that early discipline, which is to be obtained only in the rough usage of a school and the wild play of a university. Society, in these haunts, may exist chiefly in its barbaric elements, but they are elements that bring out the man; and the great glory of our universities is not so much that they make us scholars (though they have this also to boast of), as that they make us men.

To Englishmen these are truisms, but in Scotland they are scarcely recognized even as truths. A great deal of nonsense has been talked on both sides of the Tweed about the defects of the Scottish universities. It has been said that they do not turn out scholars. One might as well blame the University of Oxford for not turning out mathematicians. Prominence is given in every university to certain branches of learning; and in Scotland there has always been a greater admiration of thinkers than either of scholars or mathematicians. We all value most what we ourselves have learnt; but where no line of study is absolutely neglected, probably it does not much matter which one receives the most attention. We are apt to overrate the importance of the thing acquired, and to underrate the most important point of all—the mental discipline. The real defect of the Scottish universities is that they have no student life. They have an immense number of students, and nowhere is the higher sort of education more valued; but just in proportion as it has been valued and rendered accessible to all classes, no matter how poor, it has lost its finer qualities—it has lost—and especially in the greater universities—the student life. Suppose a young man at Islington, another at St. John’s Wood, a third at Bayswater, a fourth in Pimlico, and a fifth at Brixton, studying at University College: what sort of feeling exists among them? what are the ties that bind them together? what society do they form? what student life can they enjoy? All the better for their studies, the genius of grinding and cramming will say; and it may be so; but the loosening of the social ties among students may also be an irreparable injury to qualities that are even more important than a thirst for knowledge. The college in Gower[368] Street is in this respect a type of the Scottish university system. The students attend lectures every day in a certain venerable building, but they live in their own homes; they live where they choose; it may be several miles away from the college. Nobody knows in what strange out-of-the-way places some of them build their nests. One poor fellow who makes a very decent appearance in the class lives in a garret raised thirteen stories over the Cowgate, while the man who sits next to him comes out clean cut, and beautifully polished every day from a palace in the West End. When the lecture is over all these students disperse, and they have no more cohesion than the congregation of a favourite preacher after the sermon is finished. They go off into back streets, and into queer alleys; they are lost round the corner; they go a little way into the country; they rush to the seaside; they burst into pieces like a shell. Nor is it very long since this unsociable system superseded the old plan of living together and dining at a common table. Perhaps Lord Campbell could give a very pretty picture of college life in his days, when at the university of St. Andrew’s the students dined in common hall. He was a fellow student of Dr. Chalmers, and only a few years ago Tom Chalmers’ room within St. Salvator’s College was shown to visitors, while the janitor, with a peculiar chuckle, described the wild pranks in which the youthful divine employed his leisure moments, to the terror of the townspeople.

This state of things, although so recent, is almost forgotten in Scotland. There is no such thing as opposition between town and gown. In Edinburgh, indeed, there is no gown—no badge of studentship whatever. Worse than this, the student, after he has gone through his academical course, has nothing further to do with the university. Why should he take a degree? It is a bootless honour. It gives him no privileges. A.M. after a man’s name on a title-page may look very pretty, but who is going to write books? “Not I,” says the student; “and why should I run the chance of a pluck, besides going to the expense of the fees, when the certainty of success can bring me no advantage?”[27] Thus the bond between the student and the university, has been weakened to the utmost. What else are we to expect, when a great university, with all its venerable associations, is planned on the model of a day-school? In Scotland all schools are day-schools, from the very highest to the very lowest. The parental and domestic influence is esteemed so much, that no boy is allowed to escape from it, and the young man is kept under it as long as possible. The boy who is at school all day returns home in the evening to be kissed by his mamma and to be questioned by his papa. The student who has all the morning been dissecting dead bodies or devouring dissertations on the Epistles of Phalaris, returns to dine with his sisters and to kneel down at evening prayer with his grey-haired sire. The system has[369] its advantages (filial reverence, for example, being much stronger in Scotland than it is in England, just as in England it is much stronger than in America, where early independence is the ideal of life)—but the advantages are purchased at the cost of the student life, and ultimately at the cost of the university. Alas! for the university which does not make its students feel that they are sons, which does not nurse the corporate feeling, which loses its hold on the students after they have gone into the world! It is mainly through neglect of this kind that the Scottish universities have drooped in public esteem. The education afforded is not poor, and the examinations are not easy, as some imagine, going quite off the scent, in their endeavour to account for such a falling-off. The real reason is, that men leaving the university are cut adrift; they are not associated with it in any way; they forget it; they are in no way called upon to support it. Not so in England. In Pall Mall we have two clubs, which clearly enough illustrate the abiding influence of Oxford and Cambridge upon their graduates, an influence that reacts upon the universities, building up and continually enhancing the reputation of Alma Mater. A Scottish university club in Pall Mall would be almost an impossibility, and the reputation of Alma Mater languishes because she sends forth into the world no bands of men who cherish her memory, and by right of living membership have a vested interest in her good name.

Lord Stanhope tells a story of a Scotchman who, in the good old days of gambling and hard drinking, was heard to say,—“I tell you what, sir, I just think that conversation is the bane of society.” The story is intended as a commentary on the supposed jollity of wine-bibbing. It shows how little the social arts were understood by the honest gentleman who spoke it. Perhaps, even in the present day the arts of society are not much better understood. With all their warmth of heart, Scotchmen have an astonishing reserve, which, if not fatal, is at least injurious to society. They pride themselves on their firmness in friendship; and, it is wonderful to see how they stick to each other. But has not this tenacity its weak side as well as its strong? Is not the adhesion to old alliances accompanied with disinclination or inability to form new ones? And is not this a social defect? The Germans and the French speak of Englishmen as reserved, but the Scotch are worse than the English—they are the most reserved people in Europe. And this brings me to the point at which I have been driving. The most reserved people in Europe, the people that of all others require most to cultivate the social habit, are singular in refusing to give their youth the opportunity of learning the arts of society. The student life is as much as possible repressed, in order that the family life may be sustained. The family is a very noble institution—but it is not everything, and certainly it is not society. The young man longs to leave his home and to be his own master in a little world peopled only with young men like himself. Even the small boy who has but newly attained the honour of breeches-pockets, longs to be free; he runs up to another boy, as dogs run to nose each other; he[370] sneers at “these girls,” as he calls his sisters; he will quit father, mother, and all for the dear delights of school. In a country where the puritan feeling predominates, it is feared that these social instincts may lead to harm; and for the better preservation of his morals the youth is not allowed that free mingling with his fellows, and with them alone, which he most ardently desires. He is systematically taught to be chary of his companions, whether at school or college. There are men sitting daily on the same benches who would not think of speaking to each other without a formal introduction. And I suppose it is owing to these social distances by which they are separated that they Mister each other as they do. A little urchin of fifteen is called Mr. Milligan; and when Jack wants Sandy to lend him a penknife, he says, “Will you lend me your knife, Mr. Ramsay?” Sandy replying, “There it is, Mr. Frazer; but I have blunted it with cutting a portrait of the Professor on the desk, which the old boy has painted with a solution of sand for the express purpose of blunting knives and discouraging art.” To hear young men who are in the wood-carving stage of existence, some of them mere boys, addressing each other in this formal way, reminds one strangely of Sir Harry and My Lord Duke in the servants’ hall.

Which is cause and which effect? Is it from natural reserve and deficient sociability that the Scotch came to undervalue the student life and to abolish it? or is it the want of the student life and school life, such as it exists in England, that has produced reserve? There is something in both views; but if we are looking for causes, there are others that could be given for the decay of student life. One of these I have already indicated in speaking of the puritanic distrust of society, or, as it is called, “the world.” A worthy elder of the Kirk has got a son, who is the greatest little rascal of his age, the admiration of the parish dogs, the terror of the parish cats, curiously acquainted with the nature of the fruit in all the gardens and orchards around, impudent as a monkey, and idle as a fly, but who, in consequence of sundry floggings, carries himself so demurely in the presence of his fond parent, that he is supposed to be a chosen vessel—not far from the kingdom of heaven—a child of grace. The pious Mr. Alister Macalister feels that in sending forth his gracious young sinner into a mixed society of boys at a public school, or young men at college—he is sending his precious one into a den of thieves who will rob him of his innocence, is ushering him into the world and the things of the world, is imperilling his immortal interests. And while the puritanic tendencies of the Scotch have gone thus far to undermine the student life by degrading it in public esteem, another influence, even more important, has been at work in the same direction—poverty. Nowhere, I have said, has a good education been so highly prized as in Scotland; but in the attempt to place a good education within reach of every man, however poor, it has been necessary to cheapen it. The cheapness of it has not lowered the character of the education as far as mere learning goes, but has effectually stript it of the social life which ought to accompany[371] it. “Tenui musam meditamur avenâ,” the Scottish student may say with Jeffrey and Sydney Smith. But if it is possible to cultivate letters on a little oatmeal, it is not possible to cultivate society on such attenuated resources. Society, even when it is laid out on the most thrifty principles, costs a good deal more than some men can afford. How would it be possible for the poor fellow who hopes to get through his terms for 30l. a year to dine at the same table with the student who could afford four or five times the sum? The college year generally consists of about five months, and I have known men cover all the expenses of this period with 22l. It is true that this was in St. Andrew’s, where a hundred fresh herrings used to go for sixpence, and a splendid dinner of fish might be purchased for a penny; but if it is remembered that the sum I have mentioned covered the fees for the various classes, amounting to about 10l., and that it was upon the balance of 12l. that the student continued to subsist for these dreary five months, the feat will appear sufficiently marvellous. It is the students who live in this sort of way that are the most interesting characters in the Scottish universities, and it is their necessities that have gone to extinguish the student life. This will be evident if we consider their position a little minutely.

I suppose that fully one-third of the Scottish students are steeped in poverty. The struggle of some of these men upwards, in the face of terrific odds, is almost sublime. When we look at the struggle in cold blood, we say that it is a mistake, that these men ought never to have dreamt of the university, that theirs is a false ambition, and that it would have been better if they had never left the plough or the smithy, if they had gone into the grocery line, or had taken kindly to confectionery. But has not every form of ambition its weak side?—and are we to stop sympathizing in a man’s honest endeavours when we discover that he might be doing much better in a different fashion? Are we not to admire the man wrestling with the waves, because he has no business to be in the water? One of the 22-pounders I have mentioned was a very humble individual; but he fought like a hero, and his life was a constant marvel. He was so poor, indeed, that before one came near the question—How on earth does this man keep soul and body together, besides paying his college fees, with so small a sum?—the previous question presented itself as even more difficult—Where did he get his 22l.? He had been a carpenter; he had curtailed his hours in order to devote them to study; he got the cast-off clothes of the parish minister, and somebody else made him the present of an old gown, St. Andrew’s delighting in red gowns. At the commencement of his first session, several small exhibitions, or, as they are called, bursaries, the value of each being only 10l., were to be competed for, and he had the skill to obtain one. It was a little fortune to him—an annuity of 10l. for four years to come. When he saw his name on the list of winners, he made such queer faces to conceal his emotions that all eyes were turned upon him, and it was ever afterwards a joke against him. For the remaining 12l. he managed in this[372] way: He worked four hours a day in a carpenter’s shop, at 3d. an hour, and thus earned from 6l. to 7l. during his residence at the university, to which he was able to add 5l. from previous savings. He got friends to lend him books; and I have an idea that he earned something on Sundays by acting as precentor in one of the city churches. I happened to call upon him one day. It was his dinner hour, and his landlady came in to him with something on an old black rusty tray. “Not just yet, Mrs. Todd,” he said, in great embarrassment, and that lady forthwith departed. “Don’t go away,” he then said to me; “now, don’t; my dinner is never done enough, and, if you stay a little, I’ll get it properly done to-day.” I left him three minutes afterwards, and outside his door there was his dinner getting cold—a herring and three potatoes. He lived in a box of a room, his bed being in one corner of it; and this accommodation he shared with another man, who worked even harder than he. This man earned a few shillings by teaching. He went out to assist boys in learning their lessons for the following day at school; and the price which he and all such teachers charged was half-a-guinea a month for an hour every night. As the pay was at the rate of about 5d. an hour, it would seem that the teacher had an advantage over our friend the carpenter; but it must be remembered that the pay of the latter was obtained by physical labour,—therefore, by a healthy relief from mental toil,—while that of the former was earned by the continued and unhealthy strain of the mind. In Edinburgh there are men who work at bookbinding or printing, who make pills and potions in druggists’ shops, who are copying-clerks in lawyers’ offices, who report for the newspapers, who keep the butterman’s books,—in order to maintain themselves at college.

Men in these narrow circumstances go naturally in pairs—divide the same potato, and share the same bed. They unite without ever having previously known each other, and, for the sake of a small saving, are chained together while the session lasts. In the desperate struggle of existence and pinch of poverty, these necessitated marriages are often embittered with rivalry and hatred. There are cases in which a nail has been driven into the middle of the chimney-piece, a string tied to it, drawn across the room, and attached to the middle of the opposite wall, so as to divide the chamber into two equal parts. “This is my territory—that shall be yours. Nemo me impune lacessit—that’s what I say.” “And I say, Noli me tangere—that’s all.” The fellows sit on opposite aides of their diminutive fire, “glowering” at each other over their books—the one smoking and the other snuffing the strongest tobacco procurable, to keep their hunger down while forcing the brain through the weary night-watches. The professors make a point of inviting them to breakfast or supper as often as they can, and give them a great feed. It is their only chance of a hearty meal during the whole of the session. And yet, in spite of all that they have to contend with, they make a very creditable appearance in the class, even by the side of men who have been well coached the night before by competent tutors. The odds, however, are[373] dead against them, and they suffer for it in the end. They have very seldom been regularly educated, and when they go to college they devote much of that energy which ought to be given to their studies to earning their daily bread by teaching or by manual labour. Overworked and underfed, many of them go home, at the end of the session, shadows of their former selves, and death written in their faces—almost all of them have made acquaintance with disease. The number of men at the Scottish universities who run the course of Henry Kirke White is prodigious. Friends write their biographies; their college essays and school poems are published; their fellow-students are told to beware, and everybody takes an interest in their fate, about which a certain air of romance hangs. Year after year, however, one hears of so many cases that, at last, one becomes callous and feels inclined to ask—Why did not this young Kirke White remain in the butcher’s shop? It would have been better for him to have slaughtered oxen, sold mutton-chops, and ridden the little pony all his life, giving such leisure as he could really afford to books, than die in the vain endeavour to take the position of a gentleman and a clergyman. Most of these men, if they survive their period of study, go into the Church, and the result is that the Scottish clergy are notorious for their ill-health. How can it be otherwise? The fearful struggle which they have to maintain at college has to be kept up for eight long years before a licence to preach the Gospel can be obtained. Eight years of the university is an exorbitant demand, and it would be impossible to satisfy it, save, in the first place, by cheapening the course of study as much as possible, and secondly, by permitting the students to enter at a comparatively early age. The average age of students in Scotland is not less than in England; but if in the one country the ordinary course of study is extended over four years, while in the other it is limited to three, the freshmen must evidently in the former be a year younger than in the latter, in order to be of the same age at the time of graduating. If after graduating, another four years must be devoted to the Divinity Hall before one can have the chance of a living, it is clear that the student destined for the Church must begin his studies even earlier. He must, therefore, at the most critical period of his life, when most he requires physical strength, enter upon his suicidal course, and keep it up without intermission for eight long years. His only relief occurs in the vacation which fortunately for him lasts seven months. Then he recruits a little, while the student who went up to College better prepared both by previous education, and with the means of living, chafes at the delay, and longs for the introduction of a system, which, by the expedient of a summer session, would reduce the compulsory period of study, as in the English universities, to three years.

The effect of these arrangements on the student life may easily be conceived. A society formed on these conditions must evidently be a very mixed society; therefore, a society extremely suspicious of its members; therefore, also a society which has little cohesion and tends to[374] destroy itself. What becomes of student life, where so many men must toil like slaves to keep the wolf from the door—must sit up half the night poring over their books, and plunging their heads every hour into cold water to keep away sleep? These give the tone to the university till it is no longer regarded as the centre of certain social influences, and becomes a mere mill for grinding gerunds and chopping logic. It is because Englishmen have criticized chiefly the art of gerund-grinding and the method of logic-chopping pursued in the Scottish universities, that hitherto their criticisms have fallen flat. It is not so much the educational as the social element of the universities that is at fault. To all the statistics of competitive examinations, and to all the sneers about their having produced no great scholar, the Scotch have a ready answer. It is thought more than scholarship; it is the power of reasoning, more than that of acquiring facts, that the Scottish universities foster; and English candidates, passing before Scotch examiners, would be as certainly floored as Scottish candidates now are before English examiners. This is what the Scotch reply to an attack upon their educational system; but they will confess at once the social deficiencies of their universities. It is a bad system, defensible only by disparaging the importance of the student life and overlooking the advantages of society.

Bad though the system be, it has its compensations. Among these may be reckoned the fact that a university education is within reach of all classes, and covers a much larger area of the population in Scotland than it does in England. This is the poor man’s view of the case. Those who are in good circumstances think little of such an advantage. They are more impressed with the disadvantages of making a university education too cheap. They are alarmed, in the first place, by the influx of the humbler classes, which of itself must tend to lower the tone of society, and to disintegrate the student life. Then it appears that in order to favour these humbler classes, the time given in each year to the university is shortened as much as possible, and the curriculum of study is unnaturally lengthened. From this it follows, that if a house were started in Edinburgh, attached to the university, on the model of one of the English colleges, for the benefit of those students who can afford it, the scheme would be unprofitable. The house would be vacant seven months of the year, and would have to be maintained for the twelve months on the proceeds of the five during which the yearly session lasts. The thing would be impossible unless such an extravagant rate were charged for these five months as would effectually deter the undergraduates from residence. This is the rich man’s view of the case; and admitting it fully, there is still this to be said, that if the Scottish universities are too cheap, the English universities are too dear. If Scottish students do not get much congenial society, it is possible for almost any man to be a student. Whether a university is intended for the peasantry I do not pretend to say; but, at all events, there is the fact, which may be taken for whatever it is worth, that a Scottish university education is open to the peasant not less than to the[375] peer, and that both peasant and peer take advantage of it. The benefits of a good education thus penetrate to a much lower class in Scotland than in England. There is not a small tradesman, or farmer, or gamekeeper in Scotland who, if his son displays any symptoms of “book-learning,” does not think of the university as the proper field for the lad, and does not look forward to the day when he shall call his son “Doctor,” or see him in a pulpit thumping the gospel out of the Bible.

It is another redeeming point of the system, that it does not crush the individuality of the student by too much contact with his fellows; only, as this advantage is so negative that it might be still better secured by not going to the university at all, it would be absurd to make too much of it. Rather let us dwell on whatever social good is to be found in the system. When 1,500 young men are congregated together with a common object, they will break up into knots and clusters, and form themselves as they can into something that may pass for society, although it more strongly resembles the town life of young men than what is understood by student life. It is less as students than as young men with time upon their hands, with no prospect of chapel in the morning, and with no fear of being shut out at night, that these herd together: and if I were to describe their doings it would be the description of what youths generally are who live in lodgings by themselves—with this only difference, that the talk would be rather argumentative and the anecdotes rather erudite. A certain amount of social intercourse is organized in this way for those who wish it or can afford it; but that species of society which we call public life is scarcely possible save in the debating clubs. These are legion. There are speculative societies, and diagnostic societies, and critical societies, and dialectic societies, and historical societies; and if with these I class innumerable missionary societies and prayer unions, it is because they are all more or less calculated for rhetorical display. It is in these associations, to which a student may belong or not just as he pleases, that the public life and the best student life of the Scottish universities are to be found. The society meets weekly, fortnightly, or monthly, as the case may be. An essay is read by some one appointed to do so, and the members of the society criticize it freely. Or a debate is started, the two men who are to lead in the affirmative and the negative having previously been named; the members take part in it as they please; the speaker who commenced has the right of reply; the chairman sums up, and the question is put to the vote. Any one who consults a certain quarto volume in the British Museum, devoted to the transactions of the Speculative Society of Edinburgh, will find it recorded, that on the evening on which Lord Lansdowne, then Lord Henry Petty, attained to the dignity of honorary membership, the youthful debaters decreed, by a majority of eleven over eight, that suicide is not justifiable! This was in 1798, when Brougham, Jeffrey, and Walter Scott, were among the leading members; and one would like to have some statistics of the eight who voted suicide to be justifiable. The Archbishop of Dublin, some years ago, wrote a letter[376] to W. Cooke Taylor, in which he criticized very severely the habits of such societies, condemning them in the most emphatic manner, as fostering an absurd spirit of pride and dogmatism in youthful minds. If his views are sound, and if that vote of the Speculative Society may be taken as a specimen of the rest, then it must be confessed that the Scottish students are in a very bad way, for they work in these societies more perhaps than the students of any other country. Through the want of society they form societies, and sedulously set themselves to cultivate the great social faculties of speaking and writing. Perhaps Dr. Whately overrates the amount of dogmatism and precipitancy which come of these youthful debates, while he most certainly undervalues the mental stimulus and the advantage of early training in the art of expression. His remarks, moreover, had no special reference to Scotland; and even he would probably admit, that considering the unsatisfied craving of the Scottish undergraduate for student life, these debating societies render an important service which may well cover a multitude of faults.

In the educational system itself, however, there will be found compensations for the defects of the social system. Here I refer to the study of the human mind, which is pursued with great ardour in the Scottish universities. It is supposed in England, that Scotch students are fed on metaphysics, and the mistake receives a colour from the fact that there are so many professors of metaphysics. The title is a misnomer. The whole of Scotch philosophy is a protest against metaphysics as an impossible, or at least a useless study. What a professor, in the chair of metaphysics, teaches, is simply psychology—that is to say, the natural history of the human mind, the delineation of human character. All the processes of thought, all the motives to action are examined in turn. Ideas are traced to their origin, feelings are carefully scrutinized, words are weighed, character is dissected, and in its theory the whole of human life and of the human heart is laid bare to the student. Call this philosophy, if you please—just as a discussion on guano is called the philosophy of manure—but what is it in reality? It is generalized biography. It is a means of supplying in theory what the Scottish students have, at their time of life, few opportunities of acquiring in practice—a knowledge of men. Not enjoying the social advantages of English students, they have, as a compensation, educational advantages which are not to be found in the English universities. It is useless to inquire which is better—a knowledge of men obtained in the contact of society, or a knowledge of men obtained in the scientific analysis of the class-room. Neither the one nor the other is complete in itself; but the great advantage of studying character systematically in early life is this—that it is putting a key into a young man’s hand by which afterwards, when he mixes with men, he will more easily understand them, and unlock the secrets of their hearts. Without that key, he will long knock about amongst his fellows, mistaking motives, misinterpreting acts, confounding affections, and failing to form a correct estimate of the persons he meets—until,[377] at last, after much experience and many errors, he learns to hit the mark without knowing how he does it. The study of the human mind, as pursued in the Scottish universities, has such an effect, that in after life it is an object of incessant interest to all Scotchmen. The average Scotchman will give a shrewder guess than the average Englishman as to a man’s character, and a better description of it. He has studied the anatomy of character so minutely that he delights in portraiture and excels in biography. The proper study of mankind is man—everybody admits. Whether the best way of prosecuting that study is in reading through the classics, and piling up algebraic formulas, I do not know; but, at all events, the Scottish universities have something to say for themselves, not if they neglect the classics and the mathematics, but if they simply elevate above these branches of knowledge a direct acquaintance with the mysteries of human nature, in thought and in feeling, in expression and in act. Apart from all comparison between English and Scottish university life, the psychology and moral philosophy of the North are at least worthy of the highest praise, as an antidote and recompence for the evil that is felt in the absence of student life.

Yet another compensation for the defects of the social system will be found in the professorial method of teaching, when it is conducted with spirit. The common idea of a professor is, that of a man wearing a gown, and reading dull lectures every day for an hour to students, some of whom are taking notes, while the rest are dozing. Professor Blackie, Professor Aytoun, Professor Ferrier, and the late Sir William Hamilton would give to any one entering their class-rooms a very different idea of what a professor ought to be. Sir William Hamilton’s class was perhaps the most marvellously conducted class in any university. About 150 students were ranged on seats before the professor, who lectured three days in the week, and on two days held a sort of open conference with his pupils, which was conducted in this wise:—Sir William dipped his hand into an urn and took out a letter of the alphabet—say M. Any student whose name began with M was then at liberty to stand up and comment on the professor’s lectures—attack them—illustrate them—report them—say almost anything, however far-fetched, which had any relation to them. A couple of Macs get up at once. The first merely raises a laugh by topping one of his William’s philosophical anecdotes with another which he fancies to be still better. The second gets up, and has a regular tussle with his master about the action of the mind in sleep, and in a state of semi-consciousness. It is all over in five minutes, the student at length sitting down in a state of profuse perspiration, highly complimented by Sir William for his ingenuity, and feeling that he has done a plucky thing which thoroughly deserves the cheers of 149 fellow-students. These exhibitions are quite voluntary, and it appears that among the M’s there is no more heart to get up and speak. The letter C is therefore next taken out of the urn, but the C’s give no response to the call. The next letter that turns up is R, and hereupon Mr. Rowan, who has been[378] fidgeting from the commencement of the hour, rises up to give a quotation from Bishop Berkeley, illustrating a passage in one of Sir William’s lectures. The sly fellow fancies that he has detected the professor in a plagiarism, but quotes the passage ostensibly as confirming the lecture. When he has sat down, Sir W. Hamilton, who sees distinctly through the youngster’s game, directs his attention to a dozen passages in a dozen different authors, where he will find statements to the same effect, which he might equally have quoted. So the hour passes, each letter of the alphabet being presented in turn, and all the students who desire it, having a chance of speaking. Sometimes the exercise was varied by essays being read, or by Sir William Hamilton suddenly propounding a difficult question as to the use of a term—say the term dialectic, among the Platonists,—or as to some definition of Aristotle’s in the Posterior Analytics. Anybody might answer that knew. No written account was taken of these answers and other displays, but gradually a public opinion was formed as to the best man in the class, and at the end of the sessions the honours went by vote, the professor voting in perfect equality with his students, and almost always finding that the general voice coincided with his own opinions as to the order in which the ten best men should stand. The system perfectly succeeded. Never was there a class in which so much enthusiasm manifested itself. An immense interest was excited in the lectures, but the chief thing to be observed here is, that by turning his class two days a week into a sort of authoritative debating club, he established a public life, which, if it is not society, is at least the scaffolding of society. So it is more or less in all the classes that are conducted with spirit. It was not so much felt in the class-room of Professor Wilson, who kept all the talk to himself; and surely it was quite enough to hear such a man discourse on human life in his own way. What Christopher North knew of human nature he told to his pupils in the most glowing terms; but literally the students sat down before him day after day without knowing each other’s names, and without having an idea as to the amount of work performed by each in prospect of a place in the class list. He was a splendid lecturer—but he was only a lecturer; and lecturing is little more than half the work of a professorship. To succeed in that work requires peculiar tact and knowledge of men who are in what Mr. Disraeli has described as the “curly” period of life. Very soon “the curled darlings of our nation” find out the weak places of the professor. He may implore silence, but the more noise prevails. If he threatens, revenge follows the next day, for suddenly and unaccountably half the students in the class turn lame, and hobble into the lecture-room leaning on bludgeons, with which, knocked against the seats, they interrupt the speaker until his voice is drowned in the uproar. One poor old professor (who, by the way, lived in continual terror of a very painful disease) had so completely lost the control of his students, that he had to sit before them in mute despair, and had the pleasure of hearing one of them invite him by his[379] Christian name, “Sandy,” to lay himself upon the table, in order that he—the curled darling—might attempt a little lithotomy. Generally, however, these uproars are got up good-humouredly to bring out the professor, who perfectly understands what the students want. They are tired of the hypothenuse, the sine and the cosine, and they want a little fun. There never was a better hand at this sort of work than the late Dr. Thomas Gillespie, a brother-in-law of Lord Campbell. He was not only professor of Latin, but a devotee of the fishing-rod, a poet of much pathos, a minister of much eloquence, and a talker boiling over with jest and anecdote. He would lay down his Horace, which he knew by heart, and joke with the students till the tears rolled down their cheeks. Regularly every year he told the same pet anecdotes, and they knew what was coming; but his manner was always irresistible. One of his anecdotes was about a dial. He had a dial in his garden which required mending. He got a mason to do the job, and the bill of charge ran as follows: “For mending the deil—1s.” The old fellow enjoyed it more and more every time he told the story, and after five minutes of this kind of play he would return to his Latin sapphics, and stand over the stream of poetry with all the patient gravity of an angler.

How long the present system will last, nobody knows. The Scotch are not satisfied with their universities, but scarcely know what it is that is in fault. In the view of some, their chief fault is, that they are not faulty enough; and in this view it is supposed that if there were less of study and more of scandal in them, they would be greatly improved. That is an ugly way of stating the case, which we desire to avoid, though probably it means nothing more than this—that scandal is one of the necessary evils of society, and that it would be well if there were more of society in the Scottish universities, even at the expense of occasional excesses. It is boasted that the Scottish students are very good—almost irreproachable in their lives. This may be only seeming, and if they led a more public life perhaps their good conduct would be more frequently called in question. But granting that such praise is thoroughly deserved, is it not possible that it may signify the stagnation of life even more than a victory over Apollyon? Heaven forbid that we in Cornhill should glorify wild-oats! they are an unprofitable kind of grain, which are not admitted into our granary. Strange to say, however, people don’t dislike to see a little innocent crop of wild-oats sown by young men, as showing that the social life is fully enjoyed; and it is worth considering whether the Scottish students might not do well if in this sense they found a new reading in the motto suggested by Sydney Smith,—“Tenui musam meditamur avenâ.” With Lord Brougham and Mr. Gladstone at the head of the University of Edinburgh, it is hoped that a good deal may be compassed in the way of University Reform. It ought to be remembered, however, that the arts of reading and lecturing, cramming and examining, are not the only things to be comprised in a University Reform: but that the art of living requires just as much regulation as the art of learning.


[27] There are about 1,500 students at the Edinburgh University; of these only about eleven take the Bachelor’s degree every year, about nine take the Master’s degree, and about sixty are capped as medical doctors. It is expected, however, that the new regulations will increase the number of graduates.


Roundabout Papers.—No. II.


Montaigne and Howel’s Letters are my bedside books. If I wake at night, I have one or other of them to prattle me to sleep again. They talk about themselves for ever, and don’t weary me. I like to hear them tell their old stories over and over again. I read them in the dozy hours, and only half remember them. I am informed that both of them tell coarse stories. I don’t heed them. It was the custom of their time, as it is of Highlanders and Hottentots, to dispense with a part of dress which we all wear in cities. But people can’t afford to be shocked either at Cape Town or at Inverness every time they meet an individual who wears his national airy raiment. I never knew the Arabian Nights was an improper book until I happened once to read it in a “family edition.” Well, qui s’excuse.... Who, pray, has accused me as yet? Here am I smothering dear good old Mrs. Grundy’s objections, before she has opened her mouth. I love, I say, and scarce ever tire of hearing, the artless prattle of those two dear old friends, the Perigourdin gentleman and the priggish little Clerk of King Charles’s Council. Their egotism in nowise disgusts me. I hope I shall always like to hear men, in reason, talk about themselves. What subject does a man know better? If I stamp on a friend’s corn, his outcry is genuine,—he confounds my clumsiness in the accents of truth. He is speaking about himself, and expressing his emotion of grief or pain in a manner perfectly authentic and veracious. I have a story of my own, of a wrong done to me by somebody, as far back as the year 1838: whenever I think of it, and have had a couple glasses of wine, I cannot help telling it. The toe is stamped upon: the pain is just as keen as ever: I cry out, and perhaps utter imprecatory language. I told the story only last Wednesday at dinner:—

“Mr. Roundabout,” says a lady sitting by me, “how comes it that in your books there is a certain class (it may be of men, or it may be of women, but that is not the question in point)—how comes it, dear sir, there is a certain class of persons whom you always attack in your writings, and savagely rush at, goad, poke, toss up in the air, kick, and trample on?”

I couldn’t help myself. I knew I ought not to do it. I told her the whole story, between the entrées and the roast. The wound began to bleed again. The horrid pang was there, as keen and as fresh as ever. If I live half as long as Tithonus, that crack across my heart can never be cured. There are wrongs and griefs that can’t be mended. It is all very well of you, my dear Mrs. G., to say that this spirit is unchristian, and that we ought to forgive and forget, and so forth. How can I forget at will? How forgive? I can forgive the occasional waiter, who broke my beautiful old decanter at that very dinner. I am not going to do him any injury. But all the powers on earth can’t make that claretjug whole.


So, you see, I told the lady the inevitable story. I was egotistical. I was selfish, no doubt; but I was natural, and was telling the truth. You say you are angry with a man for talking about himself. It is because you yourself are selfish, that that other person’s Self does not interest you. Be interested by other people and with their affairs. Let them prattle and talk to you, as I do my dear old egotists just mentioned. When you have had enough of them, and sudden hazes come over your eyes, lay down the volume; pop out the candle, and dormez bien. I should like to write a nightcap book—a book that you can muse over, that you can smile over, that you can yawn over—a book of which you can say, “Well, this man is so and so and so and so; but he has a friendly heart (although some wiseacres have painted him as black as Bogey), and you may trust what he says.” I should like to touch you sometimes with a reminiscence that shall waken your sympathy, and make you say, Io anche have so thought, felt, smiled, suffered. Now, how is this to be done except by egotism? Linea recta brevissima. That right line “I” is the very shortest, simplest, straightforwardest means of communication between us, and stands for what it is worth and no more. Sometimes authors say, “The present writer has often remarked;” or, “The undersigned has observed;” or, “Mr. Roundabout presents his compliments to the gentle reader, and begs to state,” &c.: but “I” is better and straighter than all these grimaces of modesty: and although these are Roundabout Papers, and may wander who knows whither, I shall ask leave to maintain the upright and simple perpendicular. When this bundle of egotisms is bound up together, as they may be one day, if no accident prevents this tongue from wagging, or this ink from running, they will bore you very likely; so it would to read through Howel’s Letters from beginning to end, or to eat up the whole of a ham: but a slice on occasion may have a relish: a dip into the volume at random and so on for a page or two: and now and then a smile; and presently a gape; and the book drops out of your hand; and so, bon soir, and pleasant dreams to you. I have frequently seen men at clubs asleep over their humble servant’s works, and am always pleased. Even at a lecture I don’t mind, if they don’t snore. Only the other day when my friend A. said, “You’ve left off that Roundabout business, I see; very glad you have,” I joined in the general roar of laughter at the table. I don’t care a fig whether Archilochus likes the papers or no. You don’t like partridge, Archilochus, or porridge, or what not? Try some other dish. I am not going to force mine down your throat, or quarrel with you if you refuse it. Once in America a clever and candid woman said to me, at the close of a dinner, during which I had been sitting beside her, “Mr. Roundabout, I was told I should not like you; and I don’t.” “Well, ma’am,” says I, in a tone of the most unfeigned simplicity, “I don’t care.” And we became good friends immediately, and esteemed each other ever after.

So, my dear Archilochus, if you come upon this paper, and say, “Fudge!” and pass on to another, I for one shall not be in the least mortified. If[382] you say, “What does he mean by calling this paper On Two Children in Black, when there’s nothing about people in black at all, unless the ladies he met (and evidently bored) at dinner, were black women. What is all this egotistical pother? A plague on his I’s!” My dear fellow, if you read Montaigne’s Essays, you must own that he might call almost any one by the name of any other, and that an essay on the Moon or an essay on Green Cheese would be as appropriate a title as one of his on Coaches, on the Art of Discoursing, or Experience, or what you will. Besides, if I have a subject (and I have), I claim to approach it in a roundabout manner.

You remember Balzac’s tale of the Peau de Chagrin, and how every time the possessor used it for the accomplishment of some wish the fairy Peau shrank a little and the owner’s life correspondingly shortened? I have such a desire to be well with my public that I am actually giving up my favourite story. I am killing my goose, I know I am. I can’t tell my story of the children in black after this; after printing it, and sending it through the country. On the first of March next, these little things become public property. I take their hands. I bless them. I say, “Good-bye, my little dears.” I am quite sorry to part with them: but the fact is, I have told all my friends about them already, and don’t dare to take them about with me any more.

Now every word is true of this little anecdote, and I submit that there lies in it a most curious and exciting little mystery. I am like a man who gives you the last bottle of his 25 claret. It is the pride of his cellar; he knows it, and he has a right to praise it. He takes up the bottle, fashioned so slenderly—takes it up tenderly, cants it with care, places it before his friends, declares how good it is, with honest pride, and wishes he had a hundred dozen bottles more of the same wine in his cellar. Si quid novisti, &c., I shall be very glad to hear from you. I protest and vow I am giving you the best I have.

Well, who those little boys in black were, I shall never probably know to my dying day. They were very pretty little men, with pale faces, and large, melancholy eyes; and they had beautiful little hands, and little boots, and the finest little shirts, and black paletots lined with the richest silk; and they had picture-books in several languages, English, and French, and German, I remember. Two more aristocratic-looking little men I never set eyes on. They were travelling with a very handsome, pale lady in mourning, and a maid-servant dressed in black, too; and on the lady’s face there was the deepest grief. The little boys clambered and played about the carriage, and she sate watching. It was a railway-carriage from Frankfort to Heidelberg.

I saw at once that she was the mother of those children, and going to part from them. Perhaps I have tried parting with my own, and not found the business very pleasant. Perhaps I recollect driving down (with a certain trunk and carpet-bag on the box) with my own mother to the end of the avenue, where we waited—only a few minutes—until the whirring wheels of that “Defiance” coach were heard rolling towards us[383] as certain as death. Twang goes the horn; up goes the trunk; down come the steps. Bah! I see the autumn evening: I hear the wheels now: I smart the cruel smart again: and, boy or man, have never been able to bear the sight of people parting from their children.

I thought these little men might be going to school for the first time in their lives; and mamma might be taking them to the doctor, and would leave them with many fond charges, and little wistful secrets of love, bidding the elder to protect his younger brother, and the younger to be gentle, and to remember to pray God always for his mother, who would pray for her boy too. Our party made friends with these young ones during the little journey; but the poor lady was too sad to talk except to the boys now and again, and sate in her corner, pale, and silently looking at them.

The next day, we saw the lady and her maid driving in the direction of the railway station, without the boys. The parting had taken place, then. That night they would sleep among strangers. The little beds at home were vacant, and poor mother might go and look at them. Well, tears flow, and friends part, and mothers pray every night all over the world. I daresay we went to see Heidelberg Castle, and admired the vast shattered walls, and quaint gables; and the Neckar running its bright course through that charming scene of peace and beauty; and ate our dinner, and drank our wine with relish. The poor mother would eat but little Abendessen that night; and, as for the children—that first night at school—hard bed, hard words, strange boys bullying, and laughing, and jarring you with their hateful merriment—as for the first night at a strange school, we most of us remember what that is. And the first is not the worst, my boys, there’s the rub. But each man has his share of troubles, and, I suppose, you must have yours.

From Heidelberg we went to Baden-Baden: and I daresay, saw Madame de Schlangenbad and Madame dela Cruchecassée, and Count Punter, and honest Captain Blackball. And whom should we see in the evening, but our two little boys, walking on each side of a fierce, yellow-faced, bearded man! We wanted to renew our acquaintance with them, and they were coming forward quite pleased to greet us. But the father pulled back one of the little men by his paletot, gave a grim scowl, and walked away. I can see the children now looking rather frightened away from us and up into the father’s face, or the cruel uncle’s—which was he? I think he was the father. So this was the end of them. Not School as I at first had imagined. The mother was gone, who had given them the heaps of pretty books, and the pretty studs in the shirts, and the pretty silken clothes, and the tender—tender cares; and they were handed to this scowling practitioner of Trente et Quarante. Ah! this is worse than school. Poor little men! poor mother sitting by the vacant little beds! We saw the children once or twice after, always in Scowler’s company; but we did not dare to give each other any marks of recognition.

From Baden we went to Bale, and thence to Lucerne, and so over the[384] St. Gothard into Italy. From Milan we went to Venice; and now comes the singular part of my story. In Venice there is a little court of which I forget the name: but there is an apothecary’s shop there, whither I went to buy some remedy for the bites of certain animals which abound in Venice. Crawling animals, skipping animals, and humming, flying animals; all three will have at you at once; and one night nearly drove me into a strait-waistcoat. Well, as I was coming out of the apothecary’s with the bottle of spirits of hartshorn in my hand (it really does do the bites a great deal of good), whom should I light upon but one of my little Heidelberg-Baden boys!

I have said how handsomely they were dressed as long as they were with their mother. When I saw the boy at Venice, who perfectly recognized me, his only garb was a wretched yellow cotton gown. His little feet, on which I had admired the little shiny boots, were without shoe or stocking. He looked at me, ran to an old hag of a woman, who seized his hand; and with her he disappeared down one of the thronged lanes of the city.

From Venice we went to Trieste (the Vienna railway at that time was only opened as far as Laybach, and the magnificent Semmering Pass was not quite completed). At a station between Laybach and Graetz, one of my companions alighted for refreshment, and came back to the carriage saying:—

“There’s that horrible man from Baden, with the two little boys.”

Of course, we had talked about the appearance of the little boy at Venice, and his strange altered garb. My companion said they were pale, wretched-looking, and dressed quite shabbily.

I got out at several stations, and looked at all the carriages. I could not see my little men. From that day to this I have never set eyes on them. That is all my story. Who were they? What could they be? How can you explain that mystery of the mother giving them up; of the remarkable splendour and elegance of their appearance while under her care; or their bare-footed squalor in Venice, a month afterwards; of their shabby habiliments at Laybach? Had the father gambled away his money, and sold their clothes? How came they to have passed out of the hands of a refined lady (as she evidently was, with whom I first saw them) into the charge of quite a common woman like her with whom I saw one of the boys at Venice? Here is but one chapter of the story. Can any man write the next, or that preceding the strange one on which I happened to light? Who knows: the mystery may have some quite simple solution. I saw two children, attired like little princes, taken from their mother and consigned to other care; and a fortnight afterwards, one of them bare-footed and like a beggar. Who will read this riddle of The Two Children in Black?