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A MAGAZINE OF LITERATURE, ART, AND POLITICS.
VOL. XIII.--JUNE, 1864.--NO. LXXX.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1864, by TICKNOR AND FIELDS, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts.
Transcriber's Note: Minor typos have been corrected. Footnotes have been moved to the end of the article.
A TALK ABOUT GUIDES.
Talk about guides! Let Independence, Self-Conceit, and Go-ahead undervalue them, if they will; but I, Sola Foemina, (for that is the name I go by,) of Ignorance, (the place I hail from,) casting up my unbalanced accounts, (with a view to settling,) find a large credit due to this class of individuals, which (though I have not the means to meet) I have no intention to repudiate.
Now and then, to be sure, I, S. F., have been reminded in my journeyings of poor dear E., whose lively spirit was so chafed by the exactions made upon his purse and his temper at the hands of this imperturbable race, that at last he turned, like a stag at bay, and vented all his wrath in the face of a startled old woman by the abrupt and emphatic query, "What'll you take to clear out?"
Still, dogmatic and prosing as they sometimes proved, my experience on the whole was favorable; and from the motherly old portress of the English church at Honeybourne, who fed me with bread and butter under her cottage-roof, and sent me away laden with garden-flowers and a blessing, to faithful Michel, who held me over the blue fissures of the glaciers that I might get a glimpse of their secret waterfalls, who gathered violets for me on the margin of the icy sea, and, when I had carelessly dropped them by the way, treasured up the faded things to restore them to me at nightfall,--from the aged woman, with her "Good bye till we meet in heaven," to the rough mountaineer, with his hearty hand-pressure and God-speed at parting, I would not willingly lose one link out of the chain of such fast friends which stretched along my way.
There is Warwick Castle,--a written history, no doubt, to scholars, a mine of wealth to antiquaries and architects; but how incomplete would my associations be with the spot, were you banished from the picture, my sturdy friend, fit type of the female retainers of the household of the King-Maker, who, stationed within the ivied approach to the castle, presided at the brazen porridge-pot, once holding food enough to satisfy ten score of men, now empty, save for the volume of sound which stuns the ear when you strike it with your ponderous iron bar! Can I ever forget the scene of laughter and riot, when you installed me within the capacious vessel, dubbed me "Countess Guy, of the Porridge-Pot," and, the rest of my party having been induced to accept the hospitalities of the place, and mount my triumphal car, declared your intention to light a fire beneath and have the finest stew in all England? The castle is a stern place, perhaps; but how can I ever think it grim, with such a jolly old flatterer as you stationed at its portal?
And here, in my blundering way, I have stumbled on the secret spring of my whole subject; so I may as well make a merit of confession, and acknowledge frankly that the trap in which these wary guides entangled my affections was generally neither more nor less than a net of silken flattery. Your good guide, your dear guide, your pet guide, whom Neighbor So-and-so, going abroad, must look up immediately on his arrival, this invaluable creature, depend upon it, is an arrant flatterer. He does not go out of his way for you; he does not tell it you to your face; but, somehow or other, (if he knows his vocation,) he makes you believe, that, of all the travellers he ever escorted, (and he has been a travellers' escort from his infancy,) you are the first, the only one, in whose behalf duty became a privilege.
Do you suppose I put faith in Michel, when, on my second Alpine excursion, this companion of the previous day's peril placed himself in close proximity to my mule, took the bridle with an air of satisfaction, and whispered with an insinuating smile, "I go with _you_ to-day; see, there is another guide for Mademoiselle"? He was mistaken. It was my young friend whom he was, on this occasion, destined to escort over the mountain. He was as devoted to her as if she had been the apple of his eye. Whether I followed next in the file, brought up the rear, or was dashed over the precipice, I doubt if he looked behind him to discover. Was I fool enough, then, to trust his professions? I acknowledge the weakness. I was but a novice, he a practised courtier in the guise of a mountaineer. To make a clean breast of it, I even suspect that his self-gratulatory whisper is still ringing in my ear, for I find that Mademoiselle and I are rivals in our devotion to Michel.
And Ann Harris, of Honeybourne, widow, portress of the ancient village-church, surrounded by villagers' graves, approached by four foot-paths over four stiles, perfect model of all the churches in all the novels of English literature,--was it partiality for me, ancient matron, or an eye to a silver sixpence, which made you, and makes you still, the heroine of my day of romance? At any rate, I shall never cease to invoke a blessing on that immaculate railway-company which decoyed me from London into the heart of England, and, with a coolness unexampled in the new districts of Iowa, dropped me at the sweetest nook under the sun, there to wait three hours for the train which should have taken me at once to Stratford,--three golden hours, in which I might bask like a bee in a Honeybourne beyond my hopes.
Not that my Honeybourne was precisely the spot where the railway-train left me standing deserted and alone,--alone save for a Stratford furniture-dealer, who, unceremoniously set down in the midst of his new stock of tables and chairs, and with nothing else in sight but a platform, a shed, and me, looked at the last-mentioned object for sympathy, while he cursed the departing train and swore the usual oath of vengeance, namely, that he would never travel that road again.
_He_ got red with passion and cursed the road; _I_ stared round me and kept cool. Was I more philosophical than he? No, but there was this difference: he was bent on business, I on pleasure; he was in a hurry, I could afford to wait.
Three hours,--and only a platform, a shed, and an infuriated furniture-dealer to keep me company! This was the Honeybourne station, but not Honeybourne. I found a railway-official hard by, had my baggage stowed in the shed, crossed the platform, looked at my watch to make sure of the time, then struck out into the open country. Through shady lanes, over stiles, across the fields, on I went, in the direction pointed out to me by two laborers whom I met at starting. The sweet white may smiled at me from the hedges; the great sober eyes of the cattle at pasture reflected my sense of contentment; the nonchalant English sheep showed no signs of disturbance at my approach (unlike the American species, which invariably take to their heels); the children set to watch them lifted their heads from the long grass and looked lazily after me, never doubting my right to tread the well-worn foot-path with which every green field beguiled me on. I came out in the vegetable-garden of a rustic cottage, one of some dozen thatched-roofed dwellings, which, with the church and simple parsonage, constituted sweet Honeybourne. "Oh that it were the bourne from which no traveller returns!" was the thought of my heart, as, with a dreamy sense of longings fulfilled, I wandered through the miniature village, across it, around it, beyond it, and back to it again, as a bee saturated with sweets floats round the hive.
And now to my queen-bee, Ann Harris, aforesaid!
"All the way from Lunnon! Alone, and such a distance! Bless my heart!" cried the primitive Ann, with hands and eyes uplifted. "Come in and rest you, and have something to eat! I have bread and butter, sweet and good, and will boil the kettle and make you a cup of tea, if you say so."
I had already made the circuit of the church, strolled among the ancient gravestones, crossed the moss-covered bridge, threaded the paths beneath the hawthorn, had a vision of boundless beauty, drunk in the silence, and dreamed out my dream of solitude, independence, and the joy of being no one but myself knew where. Could I do better than accept this invitation to enter the humble cottage, with the prospect of an admittance also to an old woman's heart? Did I win the latter? or did I only fancy it? Did the motherly creature believe me lost? or was her astonishment only feigned? Was she really, despite her poverty, ready to share her last crust with a stranger? or was the benignant glance which gave me in my loneliness the sense of adoption merely an eye to self-interest?
Dear old soul! One of us, at least, was simple-hearted and true,--either she in her innocent professions, or I in my silly credulity. I have faith that it was she. At all events, I do so cherish the memory of her kindness, that, so far from treasuring the notion of the silver sixpence, I hereby pledge myself, that, if ever the reminiscence I am penning should be worth half as much to me in gold as it is in memory, I will send Ann Harris at least one shining guinea, as a token how willingly I would go shares with her in something.
And the guinea would not come amiss, for Ann was poor; her clay-floored cottage boasted only its exquisite neatness, her furniture was of the humblest, her dress the cheapest. She was too old for hard work; her duties at the little church were light,--the profits, I fear, were lighter; for that visitors to the remote sanctuary were rare her reception of me was sufficient proof. As she guided me through the church, I asked her if it was well attended. She shook her head sadly, and, pointing in the direction of a neighboring village, answered,--
"Most of 'em go to chapel, yonder,--the more's the pity."
She told me that she had no provision for the coming winter, and feared she must go to the Union. (It was not our own, then prosperous and unbroken, Union, to which she dreaded emigrating.) She merely meant the work-house; and as she spoke, her face wore a shadow that still clouds my recollections of Honeybourne. I do not know if her fears were realized,--if her cottage is forsaken,--if she dwells among paupers, or sleeps in the village church-yard; but I cannot think of her as lonely or poor or dead. Her saintly face told of blessed communion; I know that she was rich in faith and hope; and were I assured that her spirit had left the flesh, I should only picture her to myself standing erect at heaven's doorway, welcoming strangers with the same serenity with which she said to me at parting,--"I shall meet you _there_."
She offered me a farewell gift of flowers from her garden. It was a beautiful cottage-garden, and many of the flowers were brilliant and even rare, giving proof of careful, if not scientific culture. Still I hesitated. My hands were full of sweet may, red campion, and other native field-blossoms, which had introduced themselves to me anonymously. They were the children of the green sod which I had been treading so lightly on my way to the village; and, in the quiet of my ramble, they had seemed to me like whispers from Him who made them, and with whom I had never felt so utterly alone. I could not bear to see them displaced by Ann's garden-belles, tempting as the latter would have been at any other moment. She saw my indifference to her offer. I knew she saw it working in my face. I attempted to apologize for my preference, but she did not understand me; so I blurted out my thought, awkwardly enough, saying,--
"Yours are beautiful; but God made these, you know,--and--and--I like them best."
She looked down upon me gravely, pityingly, smiling, too, with a tenderness which was neither grave nor pitying. I have seen long-visioned people look with just that expression at the eyes of the short-sighted, on the latter's confessing their inability to detect an object at no great distance.
"_He made them all_," she said; and her words were an ascription of praise.
They come to me often now. They bid me look farther and see more. They tell me how _mine_ and _thine_ have no place in this world of _His_. False distinctions shrink away from the light of the old woman's clearer faith; I see how the ablest workers are but instruments in higher hands,--how science, culture, inspiration itself, are but gifts to be laid on His altar.
I need scarcely say that I at once found room for Ann's flowers in my hand, as for her lesson in my heart. Some of the former are pressed and laid away as a sacred memento, and something of the latter is treasured up among good seed sown by the way-side.
I would gladly have lingered longer in this little nook, into which I seemed to have been drifted by chance; but my time was up,--I had a mile or two to walk over the fields in the direction of the railway,--my friends were to meet me at Stratford. Should I miss the train this time, my philosophy might fail me as signally as that of the above-mentioned furniture-dealer failed him.
A few hours after I bade my old friend farewell, I was at my destination. Millions have shared my experiences at the tomb of the great poet. Everybody is familiar with William Shakspeare and Stratford-on-Avon, but I hug the thought that nobody but I knows anything about Ann Harris and Honeybourne.
* * * * *
I have dwelt upon an occasion in which the humble office of a guide resulted in companionship, friendship, instruction. A brief sojourn in Alpine regions has furnished me with a similar reminiscence.
We were setting forth for a day's ride across the Tête-Noire. Our party consisted of five, and we had two guides. Our baggage, which was for the most part light, was strapped on the backs of the mules behind the riders. One article, however, a square box of considerable proportions, proved refractory, and, veering from side to side, refused to maintain the even balance which, owing to the rough nature of the bridle-path, was essential to the safety of both mule and rider. We were obliged to halt again and again, that the box might be restrapped, always with doubtful success. Each time that we drew up in line for this purpose we were overtaken by a Swiss youth, who had perceived our dilemma, and who hoped, by following us up closely, to make a job out of it. There was but a limited knowledge of French among us, (the language in which the youth spoke,) still, by aid of his vehement gestures, he made us understand that he was ready, for a consideration, to accompany us on our toilsome journey, and carry the box on his back.
"Eight francs, Monsieur,--I will do it for eight francs!" But the box was righted, his services seemed superfluous, and we moved on, regardless of his beseeching looks.
A fresh delay soon ensued, the boy came panting up, and this time it was "Seven francs,"--nay, as we rode away from him, he frantically shouted, "Six!" His prospects seemed hopeless, but destiny and perseverance were on his side,--the box gave another alarming lurch,--the heated and almost discouraged youth made one last appeal,--
"Four francs, Monsieur! I will do it for four francs!" and the day was his.
He was not a regular guide, appointed by Government and furnished with a certificate, as is the law of the Alpine district for all who serve in this responsible capacity. We had engaged him simply as a porter. Still, the docile youth had no sooner strapped the box on his back than, seeing that I was the only lady unprovided with an attendant, he drew my mule's bridle through his arm, and quietly took me in charge.
No matter how charming a travelling-party you belong to, the moment they are all mounted and climbing a mountain, single file, you feel yourself a unit in creation. Everybody has turned his back upon you, and you have turned your back upon everybody. You are a solitary traveller. Are you aghast at your own situation on the steep slope of a mule's back, with a precipice above your head and your feet dangling over a gulf below? There is no help for it. Imagine yourself a sack of meal, if you can, and expect as little sympathy as would be accorded to that article. Are you moved to a keen sense of the ridiculous, as a curve in the road discloses the figures of your elongated party, unused to riding, and rendered the more grotesque by their mountain-equipment? A laugh unshared is no laugh at all, so you may as well smother it at once. Does the scenery through which you are passing awaken emotions of sublimity? It would be sacrilege to shout out your sentiments to the occupant of the next mule in such tones as a watchman would employ to cry, "Fire!" No,--if you are essentially a social creature, there is nothing for it but to bottle up your sensibilities and await the opportunity for an explosion when you reach your inn.
Something like this result occurred, I remember, on the evening of that very day, when Mademoiselle, who, under the charge of Michel, led the van, met me at the hotel at Martigny, at which place she had of course arrived a little in advance. We were not usually more demonstrative in our manners than is customary among New-England women, but the moment I could alight we rushed into each other's embrace, regardless of a crowd of astonished porters and guides, mutually insisting, by way of apology, that it seemed as if we had not met for a year.
Having dwelt upon this peculiar isolation experienced by the Alpine traveller, it may be conjectured, that, when the boy, Auguste, drew my bridle through his arm, I felt very much as Robinson Crusoe did when he was joined by his man Friday. Auguste and I soon became friends. He was a large, round-faced, mild-eyed youth, who, the instant the excitement of securing his employment was past, subsided into a soft, even pace like that of a dog. Now and then, too, he looked up at the mule and me, precisely as a dog, accompanying his master, looks up to see if all is right.
I did not talk to him at first. His mere presence was satisfaction enough. After a while we grew more sociable. He spoke a French _patois_. So did I. His was peculiar to the province,--mine wholly original,--but both answered the purpose of communication, and so were satisfactory. He had the essential characteristic of his profession,--he was one of the oily-tongued tribe, simple as he seemed, and I the willing victim; for I am confident that I straightened in my saddle, and talked more glibly than ever in the language peculiar to myself, on the strength of his _naïve_ surprise at learning the place of my nativity, and his polite exclamation, "_De l'Amèrique! O! j'avais cru que vous étiez de Paris_!"
The conversation you hold with your guide has this advantage,--you can suspend it at will. There are miles of travel, in crossing the Tête-Noire, when, if your most sympathizing friend walked beside you, the thought of both hearts would be, "Let all the earth keep silence!" and in the absence of such unspoken sympathy, the next best thing is the innocent gravity of an attendant hired for so many francs a day, and not presuming to speak unless spoken to.
But when these sublimer passages are passed, when the path skirts the edge of the valley, when the giant mountains have retired a little and you slacken the tense cord of emotion which for a while has held you spell-bound, it is a relief to loosen the tongue also, and reassure yourself with the sound of the human voice. Thus Auguste and I had frequent dialogues. He told me something of his past life, which I do not remember very well. I think its chief incident was his having been drafted for the army, and having served his term. Of his future, however, he spoke with an earnestness which has left its impression on my mind. He said that the next winter he meant to go to Paris and seek a service; and his perseverance in wringing employment out of us inclines me to think that he fulfilled his intention. Savoy, to which province he belonged, had just been annexed to France. A party of guides from Chamouni had the day before succeeded, with difficulty, in planting the imperial flag on the summit of Mont Blanc. Was it this which had awakened the ambition of the young Savoyard to share the spoils of the empire of which he had so suddenly become a member? Perhaps (I never thought of it before, but perhaps) he was already seeking means for his journey to the capital. Perhaps the price of his hard-won service was to be the nucleus of his savings. Have I, then, aided your purpose, Auguste? helped to transform you from a simple mountain-lad to a mere link in a chain of street-sweepers, an artful official of a third-rate billiard-saloon, or a roystering cab-driver with his perpetual entreaty for an extra fee in the form of "_Quelque chose à boire_"? My mind shrinks from the possibility, for I cannot bear to think of him as other than he then seemed,--a child of Nature and of the truth.
In the course of our day's journey we drew near a little village. I had been chatting with Auguste and felt in a loquacious mood, but paused as I found myself passing through the village,--in other words, sneaking round the corner of one shabby hut, and straight through the farm-yard of the next, and close by the windows of a third,--the three, and a few other stray buildings, constituting the hamlet. As it seemed an impertinence to follow such an intrusive, inquisitive little road at all, we could, of course, do no less than maintain a dumb propriety in the presence of the children and kitchen-utensils, but, as we left them behind and struck across an open field, my eye fell on one of those way-side shrines common in all Roman-Catholic districts. It was a miniature arch of plastered or whitewashed stone, and contained, as nearly as I could judge from the glimpse I had in passing, two coarse dolls, intended to represent the Virgin and Child.
"What is that, Auguste?" I asked, with feigned ignorance.
"A place of worship," he answered; "the people come there to pray."
"But what do they come _there_ for?" I continued.
"_God is there_," he answered, with emphasis, pointing at the same time to the gayly dressed puppets.
"No, He is not," I replied.
He turned round and looked at me defiantly. His mild face became that of a fanatic, and I actually quailed beneath his angry eye, as he retorted,--
"He _is_ there."
My mistake flashed upon me, too, at the instant, and I hastened to explain myself in the simplest manner my poor French would allow, saying,--
_"Oui, Auguste, Il est là, c'est vrai; mais Il est là aussi!"_--and I pointed to the snow-capped mountains on my right,--_"et là!"_--and I waved my hand towards the deeply shadowed heights on the opposite side of the valley.
He caught my meaning as by an inspiration. His fierce frown melted instantly into an intelligent smile.
_"Il est partout!"_ exclaimed the youth, with enthusiasm, his childlike, eager eyes seeking a response in mine.
I nodded in affirmation of the truth. It was enough. Catholic and Protestant had met on common ground,--we understood each other,--we were reconciled.
Has he carried his large faith with him into the great metropolis? and have I kept mine unshaken in spite of the storm that is raging in my native land? Armed in his simplicity only, he has gone to meet the gusts of temptation; and I have lived to see the Republic, which I believed inviolable as Mother Earth herself, tremble and totter, as one after another of her rotten pillars has fallen away. God grant that we may both, in this day of our peril, be able, as then, to realize that "_Il est partout_"!
During my short Alpine journey I held the office of paymaster for our party, my election being due not so much to proficiency in the queer dialect above alluded to as to courage in the use of it. It is always a pleasant office to disburse the funds, but was never more so than when, late at night, Michel and Auguste came to the hotel at Martigny to receive the reward of their day's toil. Michel had his full dues in money, and plenty of praise to boot; Auguste, evidently much to his surprise, a trifle more than his minimum price. Each of them then grasped my hand in his horny palm,--an unexpected salutation, but not a harsh one, for each hand had a heart in it, or I believed it had, which was all the same to me. They made the customary promise not to forget me, but credulity must stop somewhere, and at this point I must confess my easy faith gave out, and left me skeptical.
* * * * *
I have given the preference in order of narrative, as well as in memory, to guides who proved competent, willing, and true, who, if they seasoned the intercourse between us with a little encouragement to my self-esteem, had nothing in them obsequious or timeserving, and who set me a wholesome example of clear convictions and firmness in the maintenance of right. But not only are the virtues of the race whom I have chosen for a theme subjects of congratulation; even the uncertainties and misfits of these frequently rusty keys to the past excite a mirth that lightens the toil with which one rummages through the corridors of time. It would be treason to tell the name of that antique university-chapel where a certain wooden-headed verger was betrayed into the absurdest error; it would be personal to give the name of the waggish friend who made him his innocent butt; but the facts and the joke claim no disguise.
The solemn British beadle had been rehearsing the history of numerous sarcophagi and monuments, dwelling with mingled pathos and indignation upon the injuries which the chapel, its railings, and its statues had sustained at the hands of that arch-destroyer and his soldiery who, in their zeal for the new Commonwealth, trampled brutally upon the records of past grandeur and royalty.
"He stabled his 'osses 'ere! yes, 'ere,--in this wery chapel! ugh!" was the wrathful exclamation of our guide; and as he pointed towards the tablets without corners and the effigies lacking noses or feet, there was a low muttering in his throat and a look at us intended to excite sympathetic ire on our part.
One only of our party responded to the look.
"Let me see,--Cromwell was a terrible Catholic, wasn't he?" gravely inquired our fellow-traveller, as if in this way, and this way only, could the sacrilege be accounted for,--one blue eye, as he spoke, full of sage earnestness, the other twinkling with fun.
The stolid face of our guide now became a study. He had no instructions for such an emergency as this. The question had made war with his poor wits. For a moment they staggered, felt themselves defeated, and were about to surrender. But, resolute Briton that he was, the old man soon rallied his forces. True servant both of Church and State, he saw that there was no consistent course for him but to consign the enemy of royalty and the contemner of sacred monuments to the abominable Scarlet Lady. He gave one appealing look at his interrogator, but the side of the face turned towards him was immovable. It gave no positive discouragement to an affirmative reply; it even feigned ignorance. Seeking enlightenment, and taking heart of faith, the verger assented in the words, "Y-e-e-e-s,--I be-e-e-lieve so!" Then, his courage rising as he felt himself committed to the fact, he continued, with emphasis and a dictatorial nodding of the head, "Yes,--yes, he _was_."
Many and laughable are the instances of such perplexity and mistake among the aged pieces of mechanism who have for years been sounding the same tune to generations of unquestioning ears, and who, not having an extra note in their gamut, can by no means bear to be played upon by strange hands. Age has its exemptions and immunities, however; might makes right, and one who has long been a dictator comes to be deemed an infallible authority. So they whine on, and are oftener believed than otherwise. As they constitute a class, and those whom I have to do with are chiefly the exceptions, I will forbear to dwell on stereotyped specimens, and turn to one so unlike the generality of her tribe, so utterly lawless, so completely at variance with all her surroundings, that I must beg leave to introduce her precisely as she introduced herself.
* * * * *
There is an old place in England (there may be many such, but I know there is one) which is consecrated to imagination, romance, and memory. Abandoned by its owners as a residence, it is nevertheless maintained in sufficient repair to prevent its walls from crumbling or its beauty of outline from being marred, and stands forth a living epic, written in stone and oak, and meriting a place among the classics of the land.
The favorite of tourists, artists, and antiquaries, it can well dispense with anything like an accurate description from a traveller who went thither, not to study, but to muse; so, putting in a plea, beforehand, for possible failures in observation and memory, I propose to myself nothing more than a re-indulgence of the reverie which took possession of me on my visit to Haddon Hall.
We had spent the middle hours of the day at Chatsworth, that palace and museum of modern art, and, with senses bewildered and eyes dazzled by the magnificence of a ducal residence unparalleled, perhaps, in the world for its wealth and culture, we had set off, in the latter part of the afternoon, to view its antipodes. The circumstances and the hour were not inappropriate. Sated with the most perfect display of luxury and taste which the present age can boast, and somewhat weary with the toil of sight-seeing, a six-mile drive, the gradual decline of the summer day, the shadows gathering over the landscape, all acted as a gentle narcotic, and were a fit preparative for our approach to that old, deserted homestead, the first glimpse of which set my fancy roaming, and carried me away into a world of dreams.
Hitherto I had been the contented occupant of an old yellow coach, and had been satisfied with the pace of two jaded post-horses. But, as I crossed the drawbridge and climbed the steep hill which led to the principal gateway, I found myself mounted on rapid wings, and whirling through the centuries. Not that I was rushing on in advance of the age. No,--the wings flapped backwards, they careered disdainfully over and beyond the region of reality; as we flew, the present became merged in the past, the actual gave place to the ideal.
I am approaching a feudal fortress. The deep moat, the turreted walls, the old gray towers, the lattice of my lady's bower, the sentry pacing the battlements, the warder stationed at the gate, the severe exterior of the grim pile, the smoking hospitality that reigns within,--I recognize them all. Much that I have taken on faith from my childhood has already been realized since I touched English shores,--why not this? I climb the steep slope leading to the principal entrance, and knock at the gate. Hark! is not that the sound of an answering horn? Is not that distant rattling the clash of armor on the stones? Do I not hear the voice of the stout baron mustering his retainers to bid me welcome? If so, they are a long time about it,--for I have knocked once, twice, three times, and there is no admittance. It is a severe process, too; for, though the original gate, which may have been an iron portcullis for aught I know, has given place to rough boards, the latter are not particularly tender of my knuckles, and, though romance is romance, pain is a fact. So I fold my airy wings for the present, and look about me for a big stone to pound with. It is of no use. The old castle is deaf and dumb. It neither hears nor answers. I creep along the edge of a steep bank, pry round a corner of the building, gaze up at the high Gothic windows, but see nothing like a practicable approach, and turn back, discouraged. We take counsel together, I and my party, and at length condescend to the belief that our best hope of obtaining an entrance lies in a modern farm-house, at the foot of the eminence on which the fortress stands. The farm-house is beyond the hail of our voices, but our coachman, who is stationed there with his post-chaise, a witness of our embarrassment, makes an encouraging sign. That the farm-house bears some relation to the manor-house is suggested also by the fact that its garden boasts a yew-tree cut into the form of a peacock, and the book of heraldry says that the crest of the noble Earls of Rutland, who occupied the hall for centuries, includes, among its other belongings, "a peacock, in pride, proper."
At last, just as our impatience had reached the verge of indignation, a little figure emerged from the shadow of the farm-house, and sauntered towards us. She was a pretty child, a true daughter of the Saxon race, fair-haired, blue-eyed, and sunny-complexioned. She was the pink of neatness, too, and it was evident that the time we had spent in waiting had been passed by her at her toilet, for the folds were still fresh in her snowy apron, and her golden hair glistened smoothly within the bars of a net,--that unfailing net, sure emblem of British female nationality. Her dainty little hat was trimmed with white ribbons, which streamed behind her in the breeze, and, altogether, she was as complete a picture as one would wish to see of youth, health, and self-complacency.
The nonchalance with which she approached us was a thing I have never seen equalled. The independence of American children is proverbial; but democratic institutions never produced anything more saucily self-reliant than this little Briton. Without looking at us, or deigning any apology for the great gate,--which, it seems, is a mere barricade, not made to be opened,--she unlocked a side-postern, a rude door, consisting of two or three rough boards, and made a motion for us to enter. As we trod the time-worn pavement of the outer court, and gained an open quadrangle round which various apartments were grouped, imagination once more took possession of me, and I found myself peopling the place with its original inmates.
"Oh, how old and story-like!" I exclaimed to my companions. "Can you not imagine knights on horseback prancing over these stones, and alighting at the great hall-door beyond?"
"Horses never came up here!" was the interruption which my suggestion met from our practical little guide. "Horses couldn't climb those stairs," she added, somewhat scornfully; and I then observed that I had unconsciously ascended a rough, angular stairway, passable only to foot-passengers.
Knights on foot, then, my fancy at once substituted; and as the child, now commencing her duties as show-woman, pointed out the servants' offices, it was no difficult matter to picture the baron's retainers lazily grouped around the stone walls of the low cells, for such the apartments were, polishing their master's armor, or bousing over jugs of ale, while handsome pages loitered about the court-yard, waiting the summons of their lord, or the sound of their lady's silver whistle. Fancy was an indispensable attendant in making the circuit of the apartments, which surrounded at least three sides of this outer quadrangle. Without her aid, they were simply remarkable for their similarity, their vacancy, their unfitness for any modern purpose save that of sheep-pens or lumber-rooms. Destitute of windows, so that the sun and air found admittance only through the doorway, without fireplaces, boarded floors, or plastered walls, they presented simply so many square feet of space walled in by stone and mortar. But Fancy had the power to enliven, furnish, people them. She suggested that their very number was an indication of sociability, excitement, noise, and mirth. Here, as in all feudal dwellings, the vast disproportion between the space allotted to the dependents and that reserved for the lord of the manor pointed to the time when each castle was a walled city, each baronial hall the home of a crowd of petty retainers. In that long-ago, what multitudes of voices had stirred the silence of the court-yard! The bare walls of the apartments then were hung with breast-plate, spear, and cross-bow,--trophies of war and the chase furnished decorations suited to the taste of the occupants, and the hides of slaughtered beasts carpeted the cold floor. Stirring tales of love and warfare gathered little knots of listeners; wandering minstrels sought hospitality, and repaid it in songs and rhymes; the beef and the bowl went round; my lord's jester made his privileged way into every circle in turn, and cracked his jokes at everybody's expense; and pretty Bess, my lady's maid, peeped in at the open door, just in time to join in the laugh against her lover.
But Fancy only whispered, and another little attendant, whose name was Fact, spoke out, and interrupted her.
"Would you like to see the family-plate?" asked our guide, with the air of one who felt she had really nothing worth showing, but was bound to fulfil her task; and, entering one of the stone-walled apartments, she pointed out a few enormous pewter platters, much dimmed by time and neglect, leaning against the wall.
What visions of Christmas feasts and wassails these relics might have awakened in me, had I been left to gaze on them undisturbed, it is impossible to say; but my mind was not permitted to follow its own bent.
"There's nicer ones down at the house, all brightened up," said the child, with simplicity, and looking disdain at the heirlooms she was displaying.
The estimate put by the little girl upon the comparative value of old pewter dishes was suggestive. Whether the farm-house had robbed the castle, or the castle the farm-house, became at once an open question, and romance died in doubt.
There could be no doubt, however, as to the genuineness of the rude old dining-hall to which we were conducted next. The clumsy oaken table still occupied the raised end of the apartment, where the baron feasted his principal guests. The carved and panelled gallery whence his minstrels cheered the banquet still stood firm on its massive pillars, and the great stags'-antlers which surmounted it told of his skill as a sportsman. What giant logs might once have burned in the wide fireplaces, what sounds of revelry have gone up to the bare rafters! Our guide's tongue went glibly as she pointed out these familiar objects, and in the kitchen, buttery, and wine-vault, which were situated conveniently near to the dining-hall, she seemed equally at home. It was easy to recognize in the great stone chimneys, with their heavy hooks and cross-bars, symptoms of banquets for which bullocks were roasted whole and sheep and calves slain by the dozen; but we needed her practised lips to suggest the uses of the huge stone chopping-blocks, the deeply sunk troughs, the narrow gutters that crossed the stone pavement, all illustrative of the primitive days when butcher and cook wrought simultaneously, and this contracted cellar served at once for slaughter-house and kitchen. Her little airy figure was in strange contrast with these gloomy passages, these stones that had reeked with blood and smoke. She glided before us into the mysterious depths of the storehouse and ale-vault, as the new moon glides among damp, black clouds; as she directed our attention to the oaken cupboards for bread and cheese, the stone benches that once supported long rows of casks, the little wicket in the doorway, through which the butler doled out provisions to a waiting crowd of poor, she might well have been likened to a freshly trimmed lamp, lighting up the dark, mysterious past.
Freshly trimmed she unquestionably was, and by careful hands, but not a voluntary light; for, the moment her explanations were finished, or our curiosity satisfied, she sank into an indifference of speech and attitude which proved her distaste to a place and a task utterly foreign to her nature. Evidently, the hall which we had come so far to see, and were so eager to explore, was at once the most familiar object of her life and her most utter aversion. She had been drilled into a mechanical knowledge of its history, but the place itself was to her what an old grammar or spelling-book is to the unwilling pupil,--a thing to be learned by rote, to be abused, contemned, escaped from. As we finished our exploration of the lower floor, she probably breathed a sigh of relief, feeling that the first chapter of her task was concluded.
But a second and more difficult was yet to follow,--for we now ascended a staircase of uncemented blocks of stone, crossed a passage, and found ourselves in a long gallery or hall, the finest and best-preserved room in the castle, the state-apartment and ball-room of the lords of the manor. Our admiration at once broke forth in words of surprise and delight. The architecture of this room was of much more recent date than that portion of the building which we had already visited. It was Elizabethan in its style, and one of the finest specimens of the period. It was floored and wainscoted with oak; its frieze richly carved and adorned with boars' heads, thistles, and roses; its ceiling, also of oak, beautifully panelled and ornamented. There was a great square recess in the middle of the gallery, and along one side of it a row of bow-windows, through whose diamond panes a fine view was afforded of the quaint old garden and balconies below. Here, doubtless, knights and dames of the olden time had danced, coquetted, quarrelled, and been reconciled. Within those deep embrasures courtiers in ruffs and plumes had sued for ladies' favors, and plotted deep intrigues of state. What stories these walls could tell, had they but tongues to speak! What dreams did their very silence conjure up!
Led by a more erratic spirit than that even of our child-guide, I am afraid I lent an inattentive ear to her accurate statement of the length, breadth, and height of the gallery in which we stood, the precise date of its erection, the noble owners of the various coats-of-arms carved above the doorway; for I remember only that she seemed confident and well-informed, and recited her lesson faithfully so long as she was suffered to follow the beaten track. How impossible it was to extract anything beyond that from her we soon had proof.
She ushered us next into my lord's parlor, which nearly adjoined the gallery. This room was hung with arras, retained a few articles of ancient furniture, had one or two pictures hanging on its walls, and presented, altogether, a more habitable look than any other portion of the castle. Our little maid had got on well with her description of this room, had pointed out the portrait of Prince Arthur, once a resident at the hall, had introduced that of Will Somers, my lord's jester, as glibly as if Will were a playmate of her own, had deciphered for us the excellent moral precept carved in old English beneath the royal arms, "Drede God and honour the King," and was proceeding rapidly with an array of measurements and dates, when I unluckily interrupted her,--I think it was to ask some question about the tapestry. She looked at me reproachfully, indignantly,--just as a child reciting the multiplication-table before the School-Committee would look, if tripped up between the numbers, or as a boy, taken advantage of in play, might cry, "No fair!" She did not condescend to answer me, perhaps she could not, but paused a moment, reflected, went deliberately back in her recital, repeated the last few dates and phrases by way of gaining an impetus, and then went on without faltering to the end of her prescribed narration.
Poor child! She had my sympathy, and has still. What a grudge she must owe us tourists, even the tamest and most submissive of us, for whom she is thus compelled to tax her unwilling memory!
But if her spirits were damped, her good-humor threatened, it was for a minute only. Upon completing our rapid survey of my lord's parlor, and looking round for the guide who should conduct us farther, she had become invisible. So we moved on without her, and commenced exploring a narrow passage with a certain sense of bewilderment at its loneliness, and the doubt whither it might lead, when, suddenly, we were startled by a merry laugh, which seemed to ring through the air directly above our heads. Was it a mocking spirit that haunted the place? or one of the old figures on the tapestry, started into life? We looked up, and there, on a rough platform of pine boards, projecting from the wall, stood our Fenella. She was leaning over the shoulder of an artist-boy, who, seated at his easel, was copying one of the Gorgon-heads that stood out on the faded tapestry. She had dismissed us wholly from her thoughts, and, giving play to her native fun and coquetry, was taunting the youth with the slowness of his labors and the little progress he had made since she last inspected his work. No wonder that she laughed at the taste of the boy or his employer. Graver heads than hers might question the motive which had set the painter such a model. Imagination suggested that some elfin godmother must have prescribed the task as a condition of her future favor. At all events, the malicious sprite now acting as overseer felt a sense of triumph in this captive boy, perched against the wall, and condemned, like herself, to reproduce the past and bring out in fresh colors the staring eyes and mummied cheeks which would otherwise soon be lost to memory. She certainly made the most of her opportunity to taunt and tease him, for there was time for a laugh and a word of raillery only, to which he seemed too shamefaced to respond, before she was at our side again, gravely announcing, "My lady's chamber!"--and as we looked around the apartment, whose furniture and decorations imparted to it a superior air of neatness and refinement to that observable elsewhere, she pointed out to us a private doorway, conducting to a flight of steps, and affording an exit by which "my lady" had easy access to the court-yard, and thence to the chapel where she performed her devotions.
"And what are the rooms opposite?" we asked, pointing to a long row of windows on the second floor, on the opposite side of the quadrangle to that of which we had now completed the inspection.
"Those rooms are never shown," was the mysterious answer.
"But you will show them to _us_" (spoken coaxingly).
She shook her head, and sealed her lips, with an expression of determination.
"What is in them?"
"Oh, nothing in particular."
"Then we might see them."
No encouragement, but, on the contrary, a resolute negative.
A bribe was held out,--for, by this time, the child's air of mystery and reserve had suggested a closet like that of Bluebeard, a chamber of torture, or, at least, the proofs of some family-secret.
We might as well have offered a two-shilling bribe to the Iron Duke himself. The miniature castle-keeper was so firm and so non-committal that she disarmed us of all our ingenuity, defeated all our tactics, and we gave up the point. I have since learned that this quarter of the mansion consists of a labyrinth of rooms, shut up because devoid of interest, and containing only some old lumber. To have conducted us through them would have been to disobey orders, and, worse still, establish a precedent, from which the child might well shrink. It would have doubled her arduous round of duty. It was policy, no less than loyalty, which had inspired her.
So, too, when we came to inspect the chapel. She mounted an old oak chest in the rear of the little sanctuary, just beneath the solitary window, whose quaint patterns in stained glass pointed to centuries long past. Seated comfortably on this elevation, she rehearsed the history and described the architecture of the most primitive place of worship I ever saw,--or, if she left her post to point out some minuter detail, she returned to it as jealously as a watch-dog to some spot which he is specially appointed to guard. When our curiosity was otherwise satisfied,--when we had even ascended to the rude confessional, which was a mere excavation in the soft stone of the wall,--when we had put our hands in the hollow, not unlike a swallow's nest in a mud-bank, once the receptacle for holy water,--when we had descended the stony pathway, for it was so worn as scarcely to merit the name of staircase,--when, standing once more on the chapel-pavement, with minds excited by the thought of those monkish days when priestcraft ruled the land,--our eyes naturally fell on the old oak chest. What further revelation might not this disclose! What sacred relics, what curious church-plate, what vellum manuscript, might not be hidden beneath this heavy lid! Would she rise and let us see?
No,--she maintained her seat and her reserve with as much rigidity as on the former occasion. Unconvinced by this experience, our imaginations still ran riot. They shadowed forth every possible beauty and horror which such a giant chest might contain. The story even of "The Bride of the Mistletoe-Bough" might be verified, if we could but get a peep. At last we prevailed. The child was persuaded to dismount, we lifted the cover, and the chest was empty,--literally empty.
Once more the plain fact of the present had swept away the cobwebs of the past, the real had banished the ideal. While the child of to-day sought only a comfortable rest from weariness, we had been seeking myths. She looked on as indignant as a dethroned queen. We turned away a little mortified, and a good deal disappointed.
But the Fenella of the castle was not so very tired, after all. True, she was tired of the old manor-house, tired of us, tired of her own dull routine of duty; but there was a well-spring of freshness in her yet. She moved languidly, to be sure, as she now led the way to the tower, the only portion of the castle yet unvisited. Following her, we ascended, first, to a bare upper room, a sort of anteroom, from which the ascent to the tower commenced. It presented a solid inclosure of stone, except on the western side, where it was dimly lighted through one or two slits in the masonry. Turning my eyes in this direction, I saw our little guide leaning against the stone framework of one of these chinks in the wall. The beams of western sunlight came slanting in at precisely the angle of her figure as she leaned back in infantile repose; her white ribbons, her snowy apron, her golden hair caught and held the sunshine, and the ray of light which relieved the gloom of the gray old vault seemed to emanate from the child.
One of our party addressed some question to her regarding the probable design of the empty room in which we stood; but there was no answer,--not even a responsive glance. Her eyes were fixed upon the stone roof. She looked spell-bound. Before we could follow the direction of her steady gaze, we were startled by the flapping of wings overhead, and, still more, by the sudden rushing forward of the child with a loud cry of "Shoo! shoo!" and with her hands stretched eagerly into the air. Our presence had disturbed a swallow, which had found its way in through one of the slits, and, perhaps, built a nest in some crevice of the wall. The girl's languor was instantaneously dispelled by the discovery and the excitement of pursuit. Here, now, was congenial sport. Hopeless as was the attempt to catch the bird, the joy of frightening it was sure; and our guide sprang wildly from side to side of the building, uttering exciting exclamations, and making vain passes at the little creature, which flew round high above her head, now and then settling in some secure "coigne of vantage." In these intervals we endeavored to catch the attention of the mischievous fowler, but her task had ended with this tower-room, she had done with us, she had found an unexpected source of sport, and was not to be deterred from an enjoyment which she probably thought well-earned. With one eye following the least motion of the bird, she informed us, at last, in reply to repeated inquiries, that there was nothing to be told about the room we were in,--that it merely led to the tower,--we could go up into the tower, if we wished.
She must go with us and show us the way.
"No," was the cool reply. She never went into the tower; she never went any farther than this.
Glancing at the dilapidated state of the stairs leading to the successive stones of the tower, we were almost tempted to believe that her instinct of self-preservation had reached its climax here,--that we might break our necks, if we liked,--she preferred not to run the risk. Resolved to satisfy our suspicions, we pressed the point, and, after many inquiries and waiting a considerable time upon the motions of the child and her new plaything, we got the brief and somewhat scornful explanation,--
"What if some other party should come while I was away?"
"We part here, then?"
She nodded in assent, received the fee for her services without acknowledgment, and saw us depart on our breakneck expedition with an indifference equalled only by the nonchalance with which she had admitted us on our arrival. The moment our backs were turned, she resumed her play.
After exploring the successive stories of the tower in safety, we descended by way of the anteroom, but the bird and its pursuer had both of them flown. We passed through a door she had previously pointed out, and gained the garden as surreptitiously as did Dorothy Vernon, of old, when, according to the tradition, she escaped through this same doorway on the night of her sister's nuptials, and eloped with her lover, Mr. (afterwards Sir John) Manners, who had long been haunting the neighboring forest as an outlaw. We strolled through the ancient garden, all ivied and moss-grown, admired the stone balustrade, which, time-stained and mouldy, is still the student's favorite bit of architecture, and at last made our way back to the farm-house,--I am sure I do not remember how, for we were as deficient in a guide as on our first attempt at entrance. Whether another party arrived while we were in the tower, and were engrossing her attention,--whether she was engaged in the more agreeable office of coquetting with the young artist, or was still chasing the swallow from room to room of the manor-house, I do not know. We saw her no more. She had barely condescended to let us in, and now left us to find our way out as we could.
She cared nothing at all for us. All the interest we had manifested in her (and it was considerable) had failed to awaken any emotion. We were a stereotyped feature of the old hall; and the old hall, though she had sprung from its root, and her life had been nourished by its strength, was no part of herself,--was her antipathy. Still I never think of the mansion, with all the romantic associations which cluster around it, but the image of this child comes to break my reverie, as she did on the day when it was first indulged.
So we go to visit some royal oak, and bring away, as a memento, the daisy which blooms at its foot; so we stand, as the reward of toil and fatigue, upon an Alpine glacier, and the trophy and pledge of our visit are the forget-me-not that grew on its margin. Thus youth and beauty ever press on the footsteps of old age, and youth and beauty bear away the palm.
My faith in legendary lore is confirmed, when I call to mind the Gothic fortress, with its strong defences against the enemy, its rude suggestions of centuries of hospitality, its tower-lattices, whence generation after generation of high-born maids waved signals to knightly lovers, its stairways, worn slippery with the tread of heavy-mailed warriors, its chapel-vault, where chivalrous lord and noble dame have turned to dust. But there is a faith more precious than the faith in old song and legend; and the golden-haired child, who flourishes so fresh and fair amidst all this ruin and decay, stands forth to my mind as an emblem of that power which renovates earth and defies time. Had she been a pattern child, had her instructors (whoever they were) succeeded in moulding her into a mere machine, she might not so vividly have roused my interest; but there was something in her saucy independence, her wayward freaks, her coquettish airs, her fiery chase after the swallow, which--breaking in, as they did, upon the docility with which she otherwise went through her round of duty--revivified the desolation of the old hall with a sudden outburst of humanity. Everywhere else the fountain of life seemed to have died out, but here it gushed forth a living stream.
We gaze down the centuries and see in them ignorance, error, warning, and ruin at last. What hope for the race, then, if this were all? But it is not all. The child's foot treading lightly over the graves is the type of the _time-is_ triumphing over the _time-was_. Full of faults and imperfections, she is still the daughter of Hope and Opportunity. She has the past for her teacher, and the door of knowledge, repentance, and faith stands open before her. Thus childhood is the rainbow of God's providence, and the brightest feature of His covenant with men.
Silence, desolation, and decay have set their seal upon old Haddon Hall, but chance has set a child over them all, and the lesson her simple presence teaches is worth more to me than all the Idyls of the King.
And thus it is that I treasure up the memory of her among my catalogue of guides; and so she did more for me than she promised, when she undertook to lend me her light through the old Hall.
If there are any who can live without thus borrowing, then let them disparage guides. For the rest, the best guide is Humility. We have all so many dark paths to tread from the cradle to the grave, that we need to lay hold on all the helps we can. Groping blindly down the avenues of Time, who is there that does not long to grasp some friendly hand, or follow in the track of some traveller familiar with the way?
For me, Experience is a staff on which I am glad to lean, Simplicity is an unfailing leader where Learning might go astray. Trust is a lamp that burns through the darkest night; and sometimes, when strong men are weak and wise men foolish, strength and wisdom are given unto babes, and he whom the counsels of the elders cannot save may walk the narrowest path in safety with his hand in the hand of a little child.
God grant me guides, then, to my journey's end! God guide us all, whether we will or no! guide the nations, and make for them a way through the dust, the turmoil, and the strife which Time has heaped in their path, to the freshness and promise of the new birth! guide each poor yearning soul through the darkness and doubt that overshadow it, as it journeys on to the clear light of immortal day!
THE KALIF OF BALDACCA.
Into the city of Kambalu, By the road that leadeth to Ispahan, At the head of his dusty caravan, Laden with treasure from realms afar, Baldacca and Kelat and Kandahar, Rode the great captain Alaù.
The Khan from his palace-window gazed: He saw in the thronging street beneath, In the light of the setting sun, that blazed Through the clouds of dust by the caravan raised, The flash of harness and jewelled sheath, And the shining scimitars of the guard, And the weary camels that bared their teeth, As they passed and passed through the gates unbarred Into the shade of the palace-yard.
Thus into the city of Kambalu Rode the great captain Alaù; And he stood before the Khan, and said,-- "The enemies of my lord are dead; All the Kalifs of all the West Bow and obey his least behest; The plains are dark with the mulberry-trees, The weavers are busy in Samarcand, The miners are sifting the golden sand, The divers are plunging for pearls in the seas, And peace and plenty are in the land.
"Only Baldacca's Kalif alone Rose in rebellion against thy throne: His treasures are at thy palace-door, With the swords and the shawls and the jewels he wore; His body is dust o'er the Desert blown.
"A mile outside of Baldacca's gate I left my forces to lie in wait, Concealed by forests and hillocks of sand, And forward dashed with a handful of men To lure the old tiger from his den Into the ambush I had planned. Ere we reached the town the alarm was spread, For we heard the sound of gongs from within; With clash of cymbals and warlike din The gates swung wide; we turned and fled, And the garrison sallied forth and pursued, With the gray old Kalif at their head, And above them the banner of Mahomed: Thus we snared them all, and the town was subdued.
"As in at the gate we rode, behold, A tower that was called the Tower of Gold! For there the Kalif had hidden his wealth, Heaped and hoarded and piled on high, Like sacks of wheat in a granary; And there the old miser crept by stealth To feel of the gold that gave him health, To gaze and gloat with his hungry eye On jewels that gleamed like a glow-worm's spark, Or the eyes of a panther in the dark.
"I said to the Kalif,--'Thou art old, Thou hast no need of so much gold. Thou shouldst not have heaped and hidden it here, Till the breath of battle was hot and near, But have sown through the land these useless hoards To spring into shining blades of swords, And keep thine honor sweet and clear. These grains of gold are not grains of wheat; These bars of silver thou canst not eat; These jewels and pearls and precious stones Cannot cure the aches in thy bones, Nor keep the feet of Death one hour From climbing the stairways of thy tower!'
"Then into this dungeon I locked the drone, And left him to feed there all alone In the honey-cells of his golden hive: Never a prayer, nor a cry, nor a groan Was heard from those massive walls of stone, Nor again was the Kalif seen alive!
"When at last we unlocked the door, We found him dead upon the floor; The rings had dropped from his withered hands, His teeth were like bones in the Desert sands; Still clutching his treasures he had died; And as he lay there, he appeared A statue of gold with a silver beard, His arms outstretched as if crucified."
This is the story, strange and true, That the great captain Alaù Told to his brother the Tartar Khan, When he rode that day into Kambalu By the road that leadeth to Ispahan.
LIFE ON THE SEA ISLANDS.
A few days before Christmas, we were delighted at receiving a beautiful Christmas Hymn from Whittier, written by request, especially for our children. They learned it very easily, and enjoyed singing it. We showed them the writer's picture, and told them he was a very good friend of theirs, who felt the deepest interest in them, and had written this hymn expressly for them to sing,--which made them very proud and happy. Early Christmas morning, we were wakened by the people knocking at the doors and windows, and shouting, "Merry Christmas!" After distributing some little presents among them, we went to the church, which had been decorated with holly, pine, cassena, mistletoe, and the hanging moss, and had a very Christmas-like look. The children of our school assembled there, and we gave them the nice, comfortable clothing, and the picture-books, which had been kindly sent by some Philadelphia ladies. There were at least a hundred and fifty children present. It was very pleasant to see their happy, expectant little faces. To them, it was a wonderful Christmas-Day,--such as they had never dreamed of before. There was cheerful sunshine without, lighting up the beautiful moss-drapery of the oaks, and looking in joyously through the open windows; and there were bright faces and glad hearts within. The long, dark night of the Past, with all its sorrows and its fears, was forgotten; and for the Future,--the eyes of these freed children see no clouds in it. It is full of sunlight, they think, and they trust in it, perfectly.
After the distribution of the gifts, the children were addressed by some of the gentlemen present. They then sang Whittier's Hymn, the "John Brown" song, and several of their own hymns, among them a very singular one, commencing,--
"I wonder where my mudder gone; Sing, O graveyard! Graveyard ought to know me; Ring, Jerusalem! Grass grow in de graveyard; Sing, O graveyard! Graveyard ought to know me; Ring, Jerusalem!"
They improvise many more words as they sing. It is one of the strangest, most mournful things I ever heard. It is impossible to give any idea of the deep pathos of the refrain,--
"Sing, O graveyard!"
In this, and many other hymns, the words seem to have but little meaning; but the tones,--a whole lifetime of despairing sadness is concentrated in them. They sing, also, "Jehovyah, Hallelujah," which we like particularly:--
"De foxes hab holes, An' de birdies hab nes', But de Son ob Man he hab not where To lay de weary head.
"Jehovyah, Hallelujah! De Lord He will purvide! Jehovyah, Hallelujah! De Lord He will purvide!"
They repeat the words many times. "De foxes hab holes," and the succeeding lines, are sung in the most touching, mournful tones; and then the chorus--"Jehovyah, Hallelujah"--swells forth triumphantly, in glad contrast.
Christmas night, the children came in and had several grand shouts. They were too happy to keep still.
"Oh, Miss, all I want to do is to sing and shout!" said our little pet, Amaretta. And sing and shout she did, to her heart's content.
She read nicely, and was very fond of books. The tiniest children are delighted to get a book in their hands. Many of them already know their letters. The parents are eager to have them learn. They sometimes said to me,--
"Do, Miss, let de chil'en learn eberyting dey can. _We_ nebber hab no chance to learn nuttin', but we wants de chil'en to learn."
They are willing to make many sacrifices that their children may attend school. One old woman, who had a large family of children and grandchildren, came regularly to school in the winter, and took her seat among the little ones. She was at least sixty years old. Another woman--who had one of the best faces I ever saw--came daily, and brought her baby in her arms. It happened to be one of the best babies in the world, a perfect little "model of deportment," and allowed its mother to pursue her studies without interruption.
While taking charge of the store, one day, one of the men who came in told me a story which interested me much. He was a carpenter, living on this island, and just before the capture of Port Royal had been taken by his master to the mainland,--"the Main," as the people call it,--to assist in building some houses which were to shelter the families of the Rebels in case the "Yankees" should come. The master afterward sent him back to the island, providing him with a pass, to bring away a boat and some of the people. On his arrival he found that the Union troops were in possession, and determined to remain here with his family instead of returning to his master. Some of his fellow-servants, who had been left on "the Main," hearing that the Federal troops had come, resolved to make their escape to the islands. They found a boat of their master's, out of which a piece six feet square had been cut. In the night they went to the boat, which had been sunk in a creek near the house, measured the hole, and, after several nights' work in the woods, made a piece large enough to fit in. They then mended and sank it again, as they had found it. The next night five of them embarked. They had a perilous journey, often passing quite near the enemy's boats. They travelled at night, and in the day ran close up to the shore out of sight. Sometimes they could hear the hounds, which had been sent in pursuit of them, baying in the woods. Their provisions gave out, and they were nearly exhausted. At last they succeeded in passing all the enemy's boats, and reached one of our gun-boats in safety. They were taken on board and kindly cared for, and then sent to this island, where their families, who had no hope of ever seeing them again, welcomed them with great rejoicing.
We were also told the story of two girls, one about ten, the other fifteen, who, having been taken by their master up into the country, on the mainland, at the time of the capture of the islands, determined to try to escape to their parents, who had been left on this island. They stole away at night, and travelled through woods and swamps for two days, without eating. Sometimes their strength gave out, and they would sink down, thinking they could go no farther; but they had brave little hearts, and got up again and struggled on, till at last they reached Port-Royal Ferry, in a state of utter exhaustion. They were seen there by a boat-load of people who were also making their escape. The boat was too full to take them in; but the people, on reaching this island, told the children's father of their whereabouts, and he immediately took a boat, and hastened to the ferry. The poor little creatures were almost wild with joy when they saw him. When they were brought to their mother, she fell down "jes' as if she was dead,"--so our informant expressed it,--overpowered with joy on beholding the "lost who were found."
* * * * *
New-Year's-Day--Emancipation-Day--was a glorious one to us. The morning was quite cold, the coldest we had experienced; but we were determined to go to the celebration at Camp Saxton,--the camp of the First Regiment South-Carolina Volunteers,--whither the General and Colonel Higginson had bidden us, on this, "the greatest day in the nation's history." We enjoyed perfectly the exciting scene on board the Flora. There was an eager, wondering crowd of the freed people in their holiday-attire, with the gayest of head-handkerchiefs, the whitest of aprons, and the happiest of faces. The band was playing, the flags streaming, everybody talking merrily and feeling strangely happy. The sun shone brightly, the very waves seemed to partake of the universal gayety, and danced and sparkled more joyously than ever before. Long before we reached Camp Saxton we could see the beautiful grove, and the ruins of the old Huguenot fort near it. Some companies of the First Regiment were drawn up in line under the trees, near the landing, to receive us. A fine, soldierly-looking set of men; their brilliant dress against the trees (they were then wearing red pantaloons) invested them with a semi-barbaric splendor. It was my good fortune to find among the officers an old friend,--and what it was to meet a friend from the North, in our isolated Southern life, no one can imagine who has not experienced the pleasure. Letters were an unspeakable luxury,--we hungered for them, we could never get enough; but to meet old friends,--that was "too much, too much," as the people here say, when they are very much in earnest. Our friend took us over the camp, and showed us all the arrangements. Everything looked clean and comfortable, much neater, we were told, than in most of the white camps. An officer told us that he had never seen a regiment in which the men were so honest. "In many other camps," said he, "the colonel and the rest of us would find it necessary to place a guard before our tents. We never do it here. They are left entirely unguarded. Yet nothing has ever been touched." We were glad to know that. It is a remarkable fact, when we consider that these men have all their lives been _slaves_; and we know what the teachings of Slavery are.
The celebration took place in the beautiful grove of live-oaks adjoining the camp. It was the largest grove we had seen. I wish it were possible to describe fitly the scene which met our eyes as we sat upon the stand, and looked down on the crowd before us. There were the black soldiers in their blue coats and scarlet pantaloons, the officers of this and other regiments in their handsome uniforms, and crowds of lookers-on,--men, women, and children, of every complexion, grouped in various attitudes under the moss-hung trees. The faces of all wore a happy, interested look. The exercises commenced with a prayer by the chaplain of the regiment. An ode, written for the occasion by Professor Zachos, was read by him, and then sung. Colonel Higginson then introduced Dr. Brisbane, who read the President's Proclamation, which was enthusiastically cheered. Rev. Mr. French presented to the Colonel two very elegant flags, a gift to the regiment from the Church of the Puritans, accompanying them by an appropriate and enthusiastic speech. At its conclusion, before Colonel Higginson could reply, and while he still stood holding the flags in his hand, some of the colored people, of their own accord, commenced singing, "My Country, 'tis of thee." It was a touching and beautiful incident, and sent a thrill through all our hearts. The Colonel was deeply moved by it. He said that that reply was far more effective than any speech he could make. But he did make one of those stirring speeches which are "half battles." All hearts swelled with emotion as we listened to his glorious words,--"stirring the soul like the sound of a trumpet."
His soldiers are warmly attached to him, and he evidently feels towards them all as if they were his children. The people speak of him as "the officer who never leaves his regiment for pleasure," but devotes himself, with all his rich gifts of mind and heart, to their interests. It is not strange that his judicious kindness, ready sympathy, and rare fascination of manner should attach them to him strongly. He is one's ideal of an officer. There is in him much of the grand, knightly spirit of the olden time,--scorn of all that is mean and ignoble, pity for the weak, chivalrous devotion to the cause of the oppressed.
General Saxton spoke also, and was received with great enthusiasm. Throughout the morning, repeated cheers were given for him by the regiment, and joined in heartily by all the people. They know him to be one of the best and noblest men in the world. His Proclamation for Emancipation-Day we thought, if possible, even more beautiful than the Thanksgiving Proclamation.
At the close of Colonel Higginson's speech he presented the flags to the color-bearers, Sergeant Rivers and Sergeant Sutton, with an earnest charge, to which they made appropriate replies. We were particularly pleased with Robert Sutton, who is a man of great natural intelligence, and whose remarks were simple, eloquent, and forcible.
Mrs. Gage also uttered some earnest words; and then the regiment sang "John Brown" with much spirit. After the meeting we saw the dress-parade, a brilliant and beautiful sight. An officer told us that the men went through the drill remarkably well,--that the ease and rapidity with which they learned the movements were wonderful. To us it seemed strange as a miracle,--this black regiment, the first mustered into the service of the United States, doing itself honor in the sight of the officers of other regiments, many of whom, doubtless, "came to scoff." The men afterwards had a great feast, ten oxen having been roasted whole for their especial benefit.
We went to the landing, intending to take the next boat for Beaufort; but finding it very much crowded, waited for another. It was the softest, loveliest moonlight; we seated ourselves on the ruined wall of the old fort; and when the boat had got a short distance from the shore the band in it commenced playing "Sweet Home." The moonlight on the water, the perfect stillness around, the wildness and solitude of the ruins, all seemed to give new pathos to that ever dear and beautiful old song. It came very near to all of us,--strangers in that strange Southern land. After a while we retired to one of the tents,--for the night-air, as usual, grew dangerously damp,--and, sitting around the bright wood-fire, enjoyed the brilliant and entertaining conversation. Very unwilling were we to go home; for, besides the attractive society, we knew that the soldiers were to have grand shouts and a general jubilee that night. But the Flora was coming, and we were obliged to say a reluctant farewell to Camp Saxton and the hospitable dwellers therein, and hasten to the landing. We promenaded the deck of the steamer, sang patriotic songs, and agreed that moonlight and water had never looked so beautiful as on that night. At Beaufort we took the row-boat for St. Helena; and the boatmen, as they rowed, sang some of their sweetest, wildest hymns. It was a fitting close to such a day. Our hearts were filled with an exceeding great gladness; for, although the Government had left much undone, we knew that Freedom was surely born in our land that day. It seemed too glorious a good to realize,--this beginning of the great work we had so longed and prayed for.
* * * * *
L. and I had one day an interesting visit to a plantation about six miles from ours. The house is beautifully situated in the midst of noble pine-trees, on the banks of a large creek. The place was owned by a very wealthy Rebel family, and is one of the pleasantest and healthiest on the island. The vicinity of the pines makes it quite healthy. There were a hundred and fifty people on it,--one hundred of whom had come from Edisto Island at the time of its evacuation by our troops. There were not houses enough to accommodate them, and they had to take shelter in barns, out-houses, or any other place they could find. They afterwards built rude dwellings for themselves, which did not, however, afford them much protection in bad weather. The superintendent told us that they were well-behaved and industrious. One old woman interested us greatly. Her name was Daphne; she was probably more than a hundred years old; had had fifty grandchildren, sixty-five great-grandchildren, and three great-great-grandchildren. Entirely blind, she yet seemed very cheerful and happy. She told us that she was brought with her parents from Africa at the time of the Revolution. A bright, happy old face was hers, and she retained her faculties remarkably well. Fifteen of the people had escaped from the mainland in the previous spring. They were pursued, and one of them was overtaken by his master in the swamps. A fierce grapple ensued,--the master on horseback, the man on foot. The former drew a pistol and shot his slave through the arm, shattering it dreadfully. Still, the heroic man fought desperately, and at last succeeded in unhorsing his master, and beating him until he was senseless. He then made his escape, and joined the rest of the party.
One of the most interesting sights we saw was a baptism among the people. On one Sunday there were a hundred and fifty baptized in the creek near the church. They looked very picturesque in their white aprons and bright frocks and handkerchiefs. As they marched in procession down to the river's edge, and during the ceremony, the spectators, with whom the banks were crowded, sang glad, triumphant songs. The freed people on this island are all Baptists.
We were much disappointed in the Southern climate. We found it much colder than we had expected,--quite cold enough for as thick winter clothing as one would wear at the North. The houses, heated only by open fires, were never comfortably warm. In the floor of our sitting-room there was a large crack through which we could see the ground beneath; and through this and the crevices of the numerous doors and windows the wind came chillingly. The church in which we taught school was particularly damp and cold. There was no chimney, and we could have no fire at all. Near the close of the winter a stove came for us, but it could not be made to draw; we were nearly suffocated with smoke, and gave it up in despair. We got so thoroughly chilled and benumbed within, that for several days we had school out-of-doors, where it was much warmer. Our school-room was a pleasant one,--for ceiling the blue sky above, for walls the grand old oaks with their beautiful moss-drapery,--but the dampness of the ground made it unsafe for us to continue the experiment.
At a later period, during a few days' visit to some friends living on the Milne Plantation, then the head-quarters of the First South-Carolina, which was on picket-duty at Port-Royal Ferry, we had an opportunity of seeing something of Port-Royal Island. We had pleasant rides through the pine barrens. Indeed, riding on horseback was our chief recreation at the South, and we enjoyed it thoroughly. The "Secesh" horses, though small, poor, and mean-looking, when compared with ours, are generally excellent for the saddle, well-trained and very easy. I remember particularly one ride that we had while on Port-Royal Island. We visited the Barnwell Plantation, one of the finest places on the island. It is situated on Broad River. The grounds are extensive, and are filled with magnificent live-oaks, magnolias, and other trees. We saw one noble old oak, said to be the largest on these islands. Some of the branches have been cut off, but the remaining ones cover an area of more than a hundred feet in circumference. We rode to a point whence the Rebels on the opposite side of the river are sometimes to be seen. But they were not visible that day; and we were disappointed in our long-cherished hope of seeing a "real live Rebel." On leaving the plantation, we rode through a long avenue of oaks,--the moss-hung branches forming a perfect arch over our heads,--and then for miles through the pine barrens. There was an Italian softness in the April air. Only a low, faint murmur--hardly "the slow song of the sea"--could be heard among the pines. The ground was thickly carpeted with ferns of a vivid green. We found large violets, purple and white, and azaleas of a deeper pink and heavier fragrance than ours. It was leaving Paradise, to emerge from the beautiful woods upon the public road,--the shell-road which runs from Beaufort to the Ferry. Then we entered a by-way leading to the plantation, where we found the Cherokee rose in all its glory. The hedges were white with it; it canopied the trees, and hung from their branches its long sprays of snowy blossoms and dark, shining leaves, forming perfect arches, and bowers which seemed fitting places for fairies to dwell in. How it gladdened our eyes and hearts! It was as if all the dark shadows that have so long hung over this Southern land had flitted away, and, in this garment of purest white, it shone forth transfigured, beautified, forevermore.
On returning to the house, we were met by the exciting news that the Rebels were bringing up pontoon-bridges, and were expected to attempt crossing over near the Ferry, which was only two or three miles from us. Couriers came in every few moments with various reports. A superintendent whose plantation was very near the Ferry had been watching through his glass the movements on the opposite side, and reported that the Rebels were gathering in large force, and evidently preparing for some kind of demonstration. A messenger was despatched to Beaufort for reinforcements, and for some time we were in a state of expectancy, not entirely without excitement, but entirely without fear. The officers evidently enjoyed the prospect of a fight. One of them assured me that I should have the pleasure of seeing a Rebel shell during the afternoon. It was proposed that the women should be sent into Beaufort in an ambulance; against which ignoble treatment we indignantly protested, and declared our intention of remaining at our post, if the Colonel would consent; and finally, to our great joy, the best of colonels did consent that we should remain, as he considered it quite safe for us to do so. Soon a light battery arrived, and during the evening a brisk firing was kept up. We could hear the explosion of the shells. It was quite like being in the war; and as the firing was principally on our side, and the enemy was getting the worst of it, we rather enjoyed it. For a little while the Colonel read to us, in his spirited way, some of the stirring "Lays of the Old Cavaliers." It was just the time to appreciate them thoroughly, and he was of all men the fittest person to read them. But soon came a courier, "in hot haste," to make report of the doings without, and the reading was at an end. In the midst of the firing, Mrs. D. and I went to bed, and slept soundly until morning. We learned afterward that the Rebels had not intended to cross over, but were attempting to take the guns off one of our boats, which they had sunk a few days previous. The timely arrival of the battery from Beaufort prevented them from accomplishing their purpose.
* * * * *
In April we left Oaklands, which had always been considered a particularly unhealthy place during the summer, and came to "Seaside," a plantation on another and healthier part of the island. The place contains nearly a hundred people. The house is large and comparatively comfortable. Notwithstanding the name, we have not even a distant glimpse of the sea, although we can sometimes hear its roar. At low tide there is not a drop of water to be seen,--only dreary stretches of marsh-land, reminding us of the sad outlook of Mariana in the Moated Grange,--
"The level waste and rounding gray."
But at night we have generally a good sea-breeze, and during the hottest weather the air is purer and more invigorating than in many parts of the island.
On this, as on several other large plantations, there is a "Praise-House," which is the special property of the people. Even in the old days of Slavery, they were allowed to hold meetings here; and they still keep up the custom. They assemble on several nights of the week, and on Sunday afternoons. First, they hold what is called the "Praise-Meeting," which consists of singing, praying, and preaching. We have heard some of the old negro preachers make prayers that were really beautiful and touching. In these meetings they sing only the church-hymns which the Northern ministers have taught them, and which are far less suited to their voices than their own. At the close of the Praise-Meeting they all shake hands with each other in the most solemn manner. Afterward, as a kind of appendix, they have a grand "shout," during which they sing their own hymns. Maurice, an old blind man, leads the singing. He has a remarkable voice, and sings with the greatest enthusiasm. The first shout that we witnessed in the Praise-House impressed us very much. The large, gloomy room, with its blackened walls,--the wild, whirling dance of the shouters,--the crowd of dark, eager faces gathered around,--the figure of the old blind man, whose excitement could hardly be controlled, and whose attitude and gestures while singing were very fine,--and over all, the red glare of the burning pine-knot, which shed a circle of light around it, but only seemed to deepen and darken the shadows in the other parts of the room,--these all formed a wild, strange, and deeply impressive picture, not soon to be forgotten.
Maurice's especial favorite is one of the grandest hymns that we have yet heard:--
"De tallest tree in Paradise De Christian calls de Tree ob Life, An' I hope dat trumpet blow me home To my New Jerusalem.
"Blow, Gabriel! trumpet, blow louder, louder! An' I hope dat trumpet blow me home To my New Jerusalem!
"Paul and Silas jail-bound Sing God's praise both night and day, An' I hope dat trumpet blow me home To my New Jerusalem.
"Blow, Gabriel! trumpet, blow louder, louder! An' I hope dat trumpet blow me home To my New Jerusalem!"
The chorus has a glad, triumphal sound, and in singing it the voice of old Maurice rings out in wonderfully clear, trumpet-like tones. His blindness was caused by a blow on the head from a loaded whip. He was struck by his master in a fit of anger. "I feel great distress when I become blind," said Maurice; "but den I went to seek de Lord; and eber since I know I see in de next world, I always hab great satisfaction." We are told that the master was not a "hard man" except when in a passion, and then he seems to have been very cruel.
One of the women on the place, Old Bess, bears on her limbs many marks of the whip. Some of the scars are three and four inches long. She was used principally as a house-servant. She says, "Ebery time I lay de table I put cow-skin on one end, an' I git beatin' and thumpin' all de time. Hab all kinds o' work to do, and sich a gang [of children] to look after! One person couldn't git along wid so much work, so it go wrong, and den I git beatin'."
But the cruelty of Bess's master sinks into insignificance, when compared with the far-famed wickedness of another slave-holder, known all over the island as "Old Joe Eddings." There seem to have been no bounds to his cruelty and licentiousness; and the people tell tales of him which make one shudder. We were once asking some questions about him of an old, half-witted woman, a former slave of his. The look of horror and loathing which overspread her face was perfectly indescribable, as, with upraised hands, she exclaimed, "What! Old Joe Eddings? Lord, Missus, he second to none in de world but de Debil!" She had, indeed, good cause to detest him; for, some years before, her daughter, a young black girl, maddened by his persecutions, had thrown herself into the creek and been drowned, after having been severely beaten for refusing to degrade herself. Outraged, despised, and black, she yet preferred death to dishonor. But these are things too heart-sickening to dwell upon. God alone knows how many hundreds of plantations, all over the South, might furnish a similar record.
* * * * *
Early in June, before the summer heat had become unendurable, we made a pleasant excursion to Edisto Island. We left St. Helena village in the morning, dined on one of the gun-boats stationed near our island, and in the afternoon proceeded to Edisto in two row-boats. There were six of us, besides an officer and the boats' crews, who were armed with guns and cutlasses. There was no actual danger; but as we were going into the enemy's country, we thought it wisest to guard against surprises. After a delightful row, we reached the island near sunset, landing at a place called Eddingsville, which was a favorite summer resort with the aristocracy of Edisto. It has a fine beach several miles in length. Along the beach there is a row of houses, which must once have been very desirable dwellings, but have now a desolate, dismantled look. The sailors explored the beach for some distance, and returned, reporting "all quiet, and nobody to be seen"; so we walked on, feeling quite safe, stopping here and there to gather the beautiful tiny shells which were buried deep in the sands.
We took supper in a room of one of the deserted houses, using for seats some old bureau-drawers turned edgewise. Afterward we sat on the piazza, watching the lightning playing from a low, black cloud over a sky flushed with sunset, and listening to the merry songs of the sailors who occupied the next house. They had built a large fire, the cheerful glow of which shone through the windows, and we could see them dancing, evidently in great glee. Later, we had another walk on the beach, in the lovely moonlight. It was very quiet then. The deep stillness was broken only by the low, musical murmur of the waves. The moon shone bright and clear over the deserted houses and gardens, and gave them a still wilder and more desolate look.
We went within-doors for the night very unwillingly. Having, of course, no beds, we made ourselves as comfortable as we could on the floor, with boat-cushions, blankets, and shawls. No fear of Rebels disturbed us. There was but one road by which they could get to us, and on that a watch was kept, and in case of their approach, we knew we should have ample time to get to the boats and make our escape. So, despite the mosquitoes, we had a sound night's sleep.
The next morning we took the boats again, and followed the course of the most winding of little creeks. In and out, in and out, the boats went. Sometimes it seemed as if we were going into the very heart of the woods; and through the deep silence we half expected to hear the sound of a Rebel rifle. The banks were overhung with a thick tangle of shrubs and bushes, which threatened to catch our boats, as we passed close beneath their branches. In some places the stream was so narrow that we ran aground, and then the men had to get out, and drag and pull with all their might before we could be got clear again. After a row full of excitement and pleasure, we reached our place of destination,--the Eddings Plantation, whither some of the freedmen had preceded us in their search for corn. It must once have been a beautiful place. The grounds were laid out with great taste, and filled with fine trees, among which we noticed particularly the oleander, laden with deep rose-hued and deliciously fragrant flowers, and the magnolia, with its wonderful, large blossoms, which shone dazzlingly white among the dark leaves. We explored the house,--after it had first been examined by our guard, to see that no foes lurked there,--but found nothing but heaps of rubbish, an old bedstead, and a bathing-tub, of which we afterward made good use. When we returned to the shore, we found that the tide had gone out, and between us and the boats lay a tract of marsh-land, which it would have been impossible to cross without a wetting. The gentlemen determined on wading. But what were we to do? In this dilemma somebody suggested the bathing-tub, a suggestion which was eagerly seized upon. We were placed in it, one at a time, borne aloft in triumph on the shoulders of four stout sailors, and safely deposited in the boat. But, through a mistake, the tub was not sent back for two of the ladies, and they were brought over on the crossed hands of two of the sailors, in the "carry-a-lady-to-London" style. Again we rowed through the windings of the creek, then out into the open sea, among the white, exhilarating breakers,--reached the gun-boat, dined again with its hospitable officers, and then returned to our island, which we reached after nightfall, feeling thoroughly tired, but well pleased with our excursion.
From what we saw of Edisto, however, we did not like it better than our own island,--except, of course, the beach; but we are told that farther in the interior it is much more beautiful. The freed people, who left it at the time of its evacuation, think it the loveliest place in the world, and long to return. When we were going, Miss T.--the much-loved and untiring friend and physician of the people--asked some whom we met if we should give their love to Edisto. "Oh, yes, yes, Miss!" they said. "Ah, Edisto a beautiful city!" And when we came back, they inquired, eagerly,--"How you like Edisto? How Edisto stan'?" Only the fear of again falling into the hands of the "Secesh" prevents them from returning to their much-loved home.
* * * * *
As the summer advanced, the heat became intense. We found it almost overpowering, driving to school near the middle of the day, as we were obliged to do. I gave up riding, and mounted a sulky, such as a single gentleman drives in at the North. It was exceedingly high, and I found it no small task to mount up into it. Its already very comical appearance was enhanced by the addition of a cover of black India-rubber cloth, with which a friend kindly provided me. Thus adorned, it looked like the skeleton of some strange creature surmounted by a huge bonnet, and afforded endless amusement to the soldiers we chanced to meet, who hailed its appearance with shouts of laughter, and cries of "Here comes the Calithumpian!" This unique vehicle, with several others on our island, kindred, but not quite equal to it, would create a decided sensation in the streets of a Northern city.
No description of life on these islands would be complete without a word concerning the fleas. They appeared at the opening of spring, and kept constantly "risin'," as the people said, until they reached a height the possibility of which we had never conceived. We had heard and read of fleas. We had never _realized_ them before. Words utterly fail to describe the tortures we endured for months from these horrible little tyrants. Remembering our sufferings "through weary day and weary _night_," we warn everybody not gifted with extraordinary powers of endurance to beware of a summer on the Sea Islands.
Notwithstanding the heat, we determined to celebrate the Fourth of July as worthily as we could. The freed people and the children of the different schools assembled in the grove near the Baptist Church. The flag was hung across the road, between two magnificent live-oaks, and the children, being grouped under it, sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" with much spirit. Our good General could not come, but addresses were made by Mr. P.,--the noble-hearted founder of the movement for the benefit of the people here, and from first to last their stanch and much-loved friend,--by Mr. L., a young colored minister, and others. Then the people sang some of their own hymns; and the woods resounded with the grand notes of "Roll, Jordan, roll." They all afterward partook of refreshments, consisting of molasses and water,--a very great luxury to them,--and hardtack.
Among the visitors present was the noble young Colonel Shaw, whose regiment was then stationed on the island. We had met him a few nights before, when he came to our house to witness one of the people's shouts. We looked upon him with the deepest interest. There was something in his face finer, more exquisite, than one often sees in a man's face, yet it was full of courage and decision. The rare and singular charm of his manner drew all hearts to him. He was deeply interested in the singing and appearance of the people. A few days afterwards we saw his regiment on dress-parade, and admired its remarkably fine and manly appearance. After taking supper with the Colonel we sat outside the tent, while some of his men entertained us with excellent singing. Every moment we became more and more charmed with him. How full of life and hope and lofty aspirations he was that night! How eagerly he expressed his wish that they might soon be ordered to Charleston! "I do hope they will give _us_ a chance," he said. It was the desire of his soul that his men should do themselves honor,--that they should prove themselves to an unbelieving world as brave soldiers as though their skins were white. And for himself, he was like the Chevalier of old, "without reproach or fear." After we had mounted our horses and rode away, we seemed still to feel the kind clasp of his hand,--to hear the pleasant, genial tones of his voice, as he bade us good-bye, and hoped that we might meet again. We never saw him afterward. In two short weeks came the terrible massacre at Fort Wagner, and the beautiful head of the young hero and martyr was laid low in the dust. Never shall we forget the heart-sickness with which we heard of his death. We could not realize it at first,--we, who had seen him so lately in all the strength and glory of his young manhood. For days we clung to a vain hope; then it fell away from us, and we knew that he was gone. We knew that he died gloriously, but still it seemed very hard. Our hearts bled for the mother whom he so loved,--for the young wife, left desolate. And then we said, as we say now,--"God comfort them! He only can." During a few of the sad days which followed the attack on Fort Wagner, I was in one of the hospitals of Beaufort, occupied with the wounded soldiers of the Fifty-Fourth Massachusetts. The first morning was spent in mending the bullet-holes and rents in their clothing. What a story they told! Some of the jackets of the poor fellows were literally cut in pieces. It was pleasant to see the brave, cheerful spirit among them. Some of them were severely wounded, but they uttered no complaint; and in the letters which they dictated to their absent friends there was no word of regret, but the same cheerful tone throughout. They expressed an eager desire to get well, that they might "go at it again." Their attachment to their young colonel was beautiful to see. They felt his death deeply. One and all united in the warmest and most enthusiastic praise of him. He was, indeed, exactly the person to inspire the most loyal devotion in the hearts of his men. And with everything to live for, he had given up his life for them. Heaven's best gifts had been showered upon him, but for them he had laid them all down. I think they truly appreciated the greatness of the sacrifice. May they ever prove worthy of such a leader! Already, they, and the regiments of freedmen here, as well, have shown that true manhood has no limitations of color.
* * * * *
Daily the long-oppressed people of these islands are demonstrating their capacity for improvement in learning and labor. What they have accomplished in one short year exceeds our utmost expectations. Still the sky is dark; but through the darkness we can discern a brighter future. We cannot but feel that the day of final and entire deliverance, so long and often so hopelessly prayed for, has at length begun to dawn upon this much-enduring race. An old freedman said to me one day, "De Lord make me suffer long time, Miss. 'Peared like we nebber was gwine to git troo. But now we's free. He bring us all out right at las'." In their darkest hours they have clung to Him, and we know He will not forsake them.
"The poor among men shall rejoice, For the terrible one is brought to nought."
While writing these pages I am once more nearing Port Royal. The Fortunate Isles of Freedom are before me. I shall again tread the flower-skirted wood-paths of St. Helena, and the sombre pines and bearded oaks shall whisper in the sea-wind their grave welcome. I shall dwell again among "mine own people." I shall gather my scholars about me, and see smiles of greeting break over their dusk faces. My heart sings a song of thanksgiving, at the thought that even I am permitted to do something for a long-abused race, and aid in promoting a higher, holier, and happier life on the Sea Islands.
A FAST-DAY AT FOXDEN.
Colonel Elijah Prowley, like all good and true genealogists, held the mother-country in tender reverence. For, if there be any truth in the well-known _mot_ which calls Paris the Paradise of virtuous Yankees, it is limited to a few city-bucks of mongrel caste. England must be the Promised Land for the genuine representative of the Puritan. Whatever we may have felt about her lately,--and I confess there have been times when the declaration of the Fee-Faw-Fum giant of nursery-romance seemed to be of a moral and praiseworthy character,--there is no doubt, that, in the year of grace of which I write, and in the regards of many ratherish-scholarly gentlemen of our country-towns, the British Islands were the nearest terrestrial correspondences to the Islands of the Blest. About the massive Past Colonel Prowley never ceased to thrust his epistolary tendrils. Was not Great Britain a genealogical hunting-ground where game of rarest plumage might be started? Was not a family-connection with Sir Walter Raleigh (whose name should be written _Praleigh_, a common corruption of "Prowley" in the sixteenth century) susceptible of the clearest proof? There were, in fact, few distinguished Englishmen of the present day, who, if a provoking ancestor or two could be unearthed, might not be shown to have the Prowley fluid in their veins. To many of these eminent personages the head of the American branch of the family had written, and with several he had succeeded in establishing a correspondence. Old sermons, moral obituaries of public characters, celebrations of centennial anniversaries, and heavy reading of like description, constantly left the Foxden Post-Office addressed to the British Museum. The printed formulas of acknowledgment which arrived in return were preserved as the rarest treasures.
And in fulness of time all this corresponding and presenting produced a glorious result. Elijah Prowley, of Foxden, was chosen an Honorary Member of the Royal Society of British Sextons,--an association than which there is none more mouldy in the whole world. Certainly, this was glory enough for any Western genealogist,--yet Fortune had a higher gratification to bestow. For, in His Worship, the Most Primordial, the High Senior Governour and Primitive Patriarch of all Sextons, Colonel Prowley soon discovered a relative of his own. Sir Joseph Barley, a rubicund old knight, and the Most Primordial in question, after an elaborate investigation and counter-investigation, a jockeying of the wits of very old women, and a raid into divers registers, scrolls, schedules, archives, and the like,--Sir Joseph Barley, I say, turned out to be _a long-lost cousin_. "Barley," it appeared, had anciently been written "Parley," and "Praley," and even "Proley." Having arrived at this point, Sir Joseph conjectured that his ancestor Proley might have dropped a _w_ out of his name, and the Colonel conjectured that his progenitor, the Puritan, might have put one into his. Now it did not matter which was right, for, as was convincingly underscored in one of my letters from Foxden, "_upon either hypothesis_, the relationship of the Barleys of Old England to the Prowleys of New England was positively established."
And so Sir Joseph Barley was dead!
Although shocked, when the fact of his demise was abruptly announced in the familiar chirography of my old friend, I was unable to prevent a certain sense of the grotesque from mingling with the idea. A portrait in pastel, which hung over the chimney-piece in the Colonel's study, had given me a thorough acquaintance with the outward Sir Joseph. That brief, but bulky figure, clad in official robes as High Senior Governour, that weighty seal of the Sextons which dangled from the fob, those impressive spectacles with the glasses cut in parallelograms, above all, that full-blown face blandly contemplating our American rudeness like a smiling Phoebus from British skies,--how could all these things, which had so individualized the natural body of Sir Joseph Barley, be dispensed with in its spiritual counterpart? No answer to such question,--only the grim facts, that one brother more had "gone over to the majority," and that the living minority got on very comfortably without him. Comfortably? Ay, truly; for in the very letter that brought the news I was begged to spend the approaching Fast-Day in Foxden, just as if nothing had happened. The season, so I was assured, was unusually advanced, and already the flavor of spring was perceptible in the air; moreover, the different congregations in town were to unite in services at the Orthodox Church, and, by extraordinary favor, one of the Colonel's Boston correspondents, no less a man than the distinguished Dr. Burge, was to preach the sermon.
A noble specimen of our New-England clergy was this Dr. Burge. He held the old creed-formulas through which Wilson and Mather declared their faith, yet warmed them into ruddy life by whatever fire the last transcendental Prometheus or Comte-devoted scientist filched from aërial or material heaven. A good diner-out, a good visitor among the poor. His parishioners supplied him with a wood-fire, a saddle-horse, and, it was maliciously said, a boxing-master; and he, on his part,--so ran the idle rumor of the street,--covenanted never to call upon them for cod-liver oil, Bourbon whiskey, or a tour to Europe. In his majestic presence there was a total impression sanative to body and soul. The full powers of manner and tone, of pause and emphasis, were at his command. He would rise in a shingled meeting-house as effective as choir, organ, and sacerdotal vestments in full cathedral-service. I was glad to learn that this stalwart servant of the Word would be at Foxden. He had formerly been well acquainted with the Reverend Charles Clifton, late pastor of a church in that place. He might deal wisely with the evil intelligence, or, possibly, the infatuated egotism, which controlled that unfortunate man. Dr. Burge would possess his soul in calmness in presence of the singular epidemic which was then running through Foxden, as it had previously run through, and run out of, other river-towns.
And now it has come in my way to speak of that strange murmuring of phantoms and their attendant seers, psychometers, and dactylomancers, which in these latter days has revived among us. And what I may have to say about what is called Spiritualism will reflect actual observations. I do not forget that to the advocacy of the "New Dispensation" are devoted many men of earnestness and a few of ability. It is possible that the facts they build upon may render mine exceptional and unimportant. What is here set down is but a trifling contribution to that mass of human testimony and human opinion from which the truth must be finally elicited.
Mr. Stellato had been celestially commissioned to Barnum the spirits in their Foxden exhibitions. Two years previously this gentleman was to be seen at the head of a fanatical and tumultuary offshoot from a cause the most humane and noble. He had done whatever his slender abilities permitted to bring into discredit large-hearted and devoted men and women whom history will honorably remember as New-England Reformers. But to lead anything on a large scale, without a continual winding-up by his companion, the fibrous Mrs. Romulus, was beyond the crassitude of Stellato's pursy nature. Now it had come to pass that this acidulated lady, essaying fresh flurries of progression, discovering higher passional affinities and new duties of demolition, proving that in Church and State every brick was loose and every timber rotten, testifying ever to the existence of a certain harmonial mortar by which the rubbish of a demolished civilization could be rebuilt into unexceptionable forms,--it happened that this woman, having towered for one proud moment at the very apex of her mission, slipped suddenly into the Romish communion, and was no more seen of men. Stellato, perceiving that the peculiar machinery be had been taught to manage was now out of repair and impracticable, looked about for some new invention whereby to gain a livelihood from the credulity of his neighbors. "The spirits," then at the height of their profit and renown, were adapted to his purpose. A blank and vacant mind was freely offered to any power of earth or air which would condescend to enter and possess it. And so Mr. Stellato, with his three parts knavery and two parts delusion, became a popular and successful ghost-monger.
The parsonage had been closed since Charles Clifton terminated his connection with the parish two years before. The newest lights of the Liberal persuasion, fledglings from divinity-schools, youths of every possible variety of creed and no creed, had by turns occupied the vacant pulpit. The Gospel vibrated at all points between the interpretations of Calvin and Strauss. The congregation grew more and more critical, and could agree upon no candidate for settlement. They demanded the respectability of belief with the showy talents of skepticism,--an impossible combination, at least for a parish which offered only eight hundred dollars and a decrepit house. At length Colonel Prowley took a pew in the Orthodox Church;--it was a temporary arrangement, he said, to be terminated whenever a settled minister should be provided for the First Parish.
The Reverend Charles Clifton seldom left the rooms which he had taken in a farmer's family on the outskirts of the town. We have seen how this man had once believed that Providence had called him to an exceptional and brilliant destiny. The total renouncement of what once glowed as a mission requires a sturdy nature and plenty of active work. Clifton possessed an exceeding susceptibility of nervous organization; he was full of subtile intimations of what was passing in the minds of other men, and at times seemed to have a strange power of controlling them. The deep passion for metaphysical knowledge, which in his youth had been kindled, was stilled, but never overcome. Wifeless, childless, he was put under no bonds to struggle with the world. He knew the coldness of the church in which he had been ordained to minister,--the hard and dreary lives of those whom he had undertaken to illumine. But he made the fatal mistake--inexcusable, it would seem, in a man of his liberal nurture--of supposing that this world's evil was owing to the absence of right opinion, and not of right feeling. It is to be feared that it was not principle, but only a paroxysm of cowardice, which caused Clifton to bury Vannelle's legacy in the Mather Safe. At all events, the minister found himself unable to dismiss a certain thin and impalpable fantasy which lingered behind that ponderous speculation of an all-embracing philosophy. For the past two years he had fitfully sought, or rather persuaded himself that he sought, some clue through the sad labyrinth of his fate. He had indulged in the most morbid conditions of his physical organism; there was neither steadiness in his purpose nor firmness in his action. He yearned for that proximity to hidden things, which, if not forbidden to all men, yet is dangerous to most men. At length he succeeded in freeing his soul from the weight of conscious intellectual life which had become too heavy for it to bear. And while the Foxden people were wondering about the occupation of a late pastor in one of their churches, and inquiring of each other whether he would again speak before them, their gossiping solicitude was suddenly set at rest. Printed show-bills were posted about the streets: "Grand Festival of Spiritualists at the Town Hall." "The Reverend Charles Clifton will speak"--a line of largest type gloated upon the scandal--"IN A TRANCE-STATE."
"I really ought to apologize," said Colonel Prowley, upon opening the hall-door for my admittance, on the afternoon of the second Wednesday in April, and this after repeated summons had been sounded by the brazen knocker,--"I ought to apologize for keeping you here so long; but there has been so much knocking about the house of late, and our cook and housemaid having turned out to be such excellent mediums, taking just as much interest in their circle down-stairs as we do in ours in the parlor, and then Mrs. Colfodder being so positive that it was either Sir Joseph Barley or Roger Williams,--though I am sure neither of them ever knocked half so satisfactorily before, and besides"----
"My dear Sir," interrupted I, "no excuse is necessary. I have seen enough of 'the spirits' to know how they put aside all conventionalities. I should have accompanied Dr. Burge to the hotel, had I anticipated disturbing the circle which, I infer, is at present in session."
"You would have grieved me very much by doing so," rejoined the kind old gentleman. "Dr. Burge dines with me to-morrow, and I confess--not yet calling myself a convert to these miracles which are now vouchsafed in Foxden--it would not be amiss to rid my premises of the amiable magicians congregated in my parlor before a minister were invited to enter. But a layman, as I take it, might witness these thaumaturgical matters without scandal,--nay, perchance you may help me to that wholesome credence in their reality which my celestial visitants so unceasingly demand."
Colonel Prowley was in the state of mind not unusual to many well-meaning, unoccupied people, when this modern necromancy was thrust upon them by those pecuniarily or socially interested in its advocacy. The upheaval to the air of that dark inward nature which is ever working in us,--the startling proof of that loudly proclaimed, faintly realized truth, that this mind, so pervading every fibre of the body, is yet separate in its essence,--the novel gratification of the petty vanities and petty questionings which beset undecided men,--what wonder that persons not accustomed to sound analysis of evidence should be beguiled by these subtilest adaptations to their conditions, and hold dalliance with the feeble shades that imposture or enthusiasm vended about the towns? Historical personages--a nerveless mimicry of the conventional stage-representation of them--stalked the Colonel's parlor. Departed friends, Indians _à discrétion_, local celebrities, Deacon Golly, who in the year '90 took the ten first shares in the Wrexford Turnpike, the very Pelatiah Brimble from whom "Brimble's Corner" had taken its name, the identical Timson forever immortal in "Timson's Common,"--these defunct worthies were audibly, visibly, or tangibly present, pecking at great subjects in ghostly feebleness, swimming in Tupperic dilutions of cheapest wisdom, and finally inducing in their patrons strange derangements of mind and body.
The circle, which was very select, consisted of three highly susceptible ladies and Stellato as medium-in-chief. Miss Turligood, a sort of Oroveso to the Druidical chorus, was a muscular spinster, fierce and forty, sporting steel spectacles, a frizette of the most scrupulous honesty, and a towering comb which formed what the landscape-gardeners call "an object" in the distance. Next this commanding lady, with fat hands sprawled upon the table, sat Mrs. Colfodder, widow, according to the flesh, of a respectable Foxden grocer. By later spiritual communications, however, it appeared that matters stood very differently; for no sooner had the departed Colfodder looked about him a little in the world to come than he proceeded to contract marriage with Queen Elizabeth of England, thereby leaving his mortal relict quite free to receive the addresses of the late Lord Byron, whose proposals were of the most honorable as well as amatory character. Miss Branly, by far the most pleasing of the lady-patronesses, was a fragile, stove-dried mantua-maker,--and, truly, it seemed something like poetic justice to recompense her depressed existence with the satisfactions of a material heaven full of marryings and givings in marriage.
"Will Sir Joseph tip for us again?" inquired Miss Turligood, with her eyes fixed upon a crack in the mahogany table. "Will he? Will he not? Will he?"
Sir Joseph vouchsafed no answer.
"Hark! wasn't that a rap?" cried Stellato, in a husky whisper.
Here every one pricked an ear towards the table.
"Doctor Franklin, is that you?"
"The Doctor promised to be present to give a scientific and philosophical view of these communications," parenthesized the interrogator.
"Doctor Franklin, is that _you_?"
A faint creaking is audible.
"Byron's sign, as I'm a living woman!" ejaculated the Widow Colfodder.
"Her spiritual partner and guardian-angel," explained Miss Turligood,--and this for my satisfaction as the last-comer.
Direct examination by the widow:--
"Have you brought your patent lyre here to-night?"
For the enlightenment of the company:--
"He played the lyre so beautiful on earth, that when he got to the spheres a committee gave him a golden one, with all the modern improvements."
Question concerning the lyre repeated. A mysterious rubbing interpreted as an affirmative reply.
"Have you brought Pocahontas with you? (she 'most always comes with him)--and if so, can she kiss me to-night?"
The table is exceedingly doubtful.
"Could she kiss Colonel Prowley, or even pull his hair a little?"
No certainty of either.
"Can she kiss Miss Turligood?"
The table is satisfied that it couldn't be done.
"Let me try her," urged Stellato, with the confidence of an expert; then in seductive tones,--
"Couldn't Pocahontas kiss Miss Branly, if all the lights were put out?"
Pocahontas thought it highly probable that she could.
Here some interesting badgering. Miss Branly declined being kissed in the dark. Miss Turligood thought it would be very satisfactory, if she would, and couldn't see why any one should object to it. She (Miss Turligood) would willingly be kissed in the dark, or in the light, in furtherance of scientific investigation.
Stellato suggested a compromise.
"Might not the kissing be done through a medium?"
At first the table thought it couldn't, but afterwards relented, and thought it might.
"Would Pocahontas appoint that medium?"
"Should the alphabet be called?"
It should not.
"Would the table tip towards the medium indicated?"
It could not be done.
"Should somebody call over the names of all mediums present, and would the table tip at the right one?"
Ah, that was it!
"I suppose you and I have no share in this Gift Enterprise," whispered Colonel Prowley.
"Order! order!" shouted Miss Turligood, glancing in our direction with great severity. "This general conversation cannot be permitted. We are about to have a most interesting manifestation.--Pocahontas, do you wish me to call over the names?"
Pocahontas did not object.
"Very well, then, you will tip when I come to the name of the medium through whom you consent to kiss Miss Sarah Branly?"
Pocahontas certainly would.
"Is it Mrs. Colfodder?"
"Is it I, Eugenia Turligood?"
No, it certainly was not.
"Well, then, I suppose it must be Mr. Stellato!"
Here the table was violently convulsed, as if somebody were pulling it very hard upon Mr. Stellato's side, and somebody else holding it with rigid firmness upon the other.
"_Is_ it Mr. Stellato?"
"I don't think you stopped long enough at Mrs. Colfodder's name," interposed Miss Branly. "I am sure the table was going to move, if you had given it time."
"Nothing easier than to try again," responded Miss Turligood. "Is it Mrs. Colfodder?"
This time the table fairly sprang into the lap of the lady indicated.
And so that worthy widow arose and saluted--or rather Pocahontas, through her mediumship, arose and saluted--Miss Sarah Branly. And the skeptic will please take notice that this extraordinary manifestation is neither enlarged nor magnified, but that it actually happened precisely as is here set down.
After this, Mr. Stellato, being put under inspiration, delivered a discursive homily upon the "New Dispensation" which was at present vouchsafed to the citizens of Foxden. He testified to the great relief of getting clear of the "Old Theology,"--meaning thereby such interpretations of Scripture as are held by the mass of our New-England churches. Moreover, he would announce his personal satisfaction in having, under spiritual guidance, eradicated every vestige of belief in hell,--a circumstance upon which, it is needless to say, that a gentleman of his profession might be honestly congratulated. With a view, as I could not help thinking, to my peculiar necessities, Stellato finally enlarged upon what he termed "the principle of the thing," or, as he otherwise phrased it, "a scientific explanation of the way the spirits worked mediums,"--"_sperrets_" and "_meejums_" according to celestial pronunciation, but I am loath to disturb the carnal orthography. This philosophical exposition, drawled forth in interminable sentences, was a dark doctrine to the uninitiated. There was a good deal about "Essences," which, at times, seemed to relate to the perfumery vended in the fancy-department of apothecaries' shops, and then again to some obscure matters of "Zones," "Interiors," "Magnetic Relations," and the like. The central revelation, if I remember rightly, had to do with a sort of putty, by which, according to the Stellato cosmogony, Chaos had been stuck together into a Universe. This adhesive composition was known as "Detached Vitalized Electricity." And having got upon this sounding title, which conveyed no meaning whatever to the "undeveloped" understanding, Stellato was profuse in windy talk. This Detached Vitalized Electricity, spread out over space, connected the parts of all systems; it appeared at that very instant in the form of "power" about Miss Turligood's head; in short, it diluted all stray bits of modern rhetoric, all exploded feats of ancient magic, into the thinnest of spiritual gruel, which was to supersede the strong meat upon which the Puritan walked before his Maker.
Somebody summoned the eminent Twynintuft. Like every spirit that was ever called for, this ex-elocutionist happened to be within a few seconds' flight of the circle, and had nothing in the world to do but to swoop down and tip as long as the company could possibly endure him.
The following information was elicited by affirmative or negative replies to the interrogatories of those present:--
The spirit communicating was Twynintuft, grandfather to Mrs. Widesworth. Was unable to give his Christian name. Thought Mrs. Colfodder's lungs in a healthy condition. Could not undertake to move the table when no hands were upon it. If the room were made totally dark, would attempt that curious experiment. Was unable to give the maiden name of his earthly wife. Thought Mr. Stellato was a healing-medium of great power. Had been something of a Root-Doctor when in the body, and would gladly prescribe through that gentleman for the cure of all diseases. Considered mineral medicines destructive to the vital principle. Doctor Dastick, being a drug-doctor, would not be recognized by any medical association in the spheres. Would give any information about the fixed stars. The inhabitants of the Milky Way telegraphed to each other by means of the Detached Vitalized Electricity. Also, they bottled up the same to cure humors. Would privately impart their recipe to Mr. Stellato. It could not be afforded upon this earth at less than three dollars a bottle. Would, however, authorize an exception in favor of clergymen, when they gave certificates of cures. _The spirits did not recognize Fast-Day_,--it was a remnant of the Old Mythological Religion. Demanded further investigation, and promised greater marvels in future.
Here Miss Turligood became violently convulsed, and, having slapped the table some forty times or more, seized a pencil and began to write:--
"DEAR PROWLEY,--Surrounded by a bank of silver-tunicked attendants, I hover near you. The atmosphere is redolent of costly herbs, which, with the well-known rotary motion of the earth, impart density and spacefulness to our spheral persons: this is the philosophy of our presence. Many shining friends, supported upon fluted pillars, are with you this evening. These grieve at your lack of faith, and flap gold-bespattered wings in unison. Spherically yours,
"SIR JOSEPH BARLEY."
"Why does he sign himself _Sir_?" inquired Colonel Prowley, rather taken aback at the sudden termination of this exquisite composition.
It was evidently an oversight, for the medium's hand erased the offending title.
"When did Sir Joseph die?" I ventured to ask.
"That I cannot tell you," replied his late correspondent. "I have heard nothing from him for several months. When he last wrote, he was suffering under a severe influenza which must have terminated fatally. But why not ask _him_ the question?"
"That is just my purpose.--Sir Joseph Barley, can you give me the date of your death?"
"It is hard for spirits to give numbers," said Mr. Stellato.
"It is sometimes done by tips," quoth Miss Turligood.
I pressed the demand, and, after much cajoling and counting, a certain day of March was fixed upon.
"Can you give me the place?"
I was instructed to call over the names of such foreign cities as I might remember, and assured that Sir Joseph would tip at the right one.
It turned out to be "London."
"And now, Sir Joseph, could you oblige me with the name of the physician who attended your last sickness?"
But no sooner had I propounded this final query than Mr. Stellato declared his consciousness of a skeptical influence in the company which would go far to impede other manifestations. Where people were not harmonial, he explained, the Detached Vitalized Electricity being unable to unite with the Imponderable Magnetic Fluid given off by mediums, satisfactory results could not be obtained.
"But we have at least obtained this satisfaction," said I, addressing Colonel Prowley: "Sir Joseph has committed himself about the day and place of his decease. You must soon hear from some member of his family. If these particulars have been correctly given, there will be, at least, the beginning of evidence upon which to establish his identity."
Mrs. Colfodder was so shocked with the perversity of unbelief which she detected in this harmless remark, that, nudging Miss Branly, she solemnly arose and moved to break up the circle for the night. And as it was already past nine o'clock, no violent objection was made to the proposition.
"The circle will meet in this place to-morrow morning at eight o'clock, for the pursuance of further investigations," proclaimed Miss Turligood, in sonorous accents.
"Fast-Day, Madam," mildly suggested Colonel Prowley.
"The spirits do not recognize Fast-Day. Tomorrow at eight o'clock. In this place. Let every medium be punctual. It is to be _hoped_ that the _conditions_ will _then_ be _favorable_!"
This latter aspiration, with its feminine redundancy of emphasis, was cast in my direction, as Miss Turligood swept haughtily from the room.
Her final exit, however, was neither curt nor in any way effective. For it was no easy matter to gather up the bags, parcels, shawls, and other devices which the good lady had brought with her and scattered about the entry. One India-rubber shoe in particular eluded our search, till I was ready to admit the supposition that the spirits had carried it off, as entirely reasonable and satisfactory. A good-natured Irishman, servant to Miss Turligood, who had come with a lantern to see her home, at length discovered this missing bit of apparel upon Miss Branly's foot,--that medium, as it appeared, having in a fit of abstraction appropriated three. Finally the lantern glimmered down the gravel-walk, and Mr. Stellato, with a lady upon each arm, was persuaded to follow it. It was waking from a nightmare to get rid of them.
"Over at last!" exclaimed Miss Prowley, when we returned to the drawing-room. She had been sitting in silence in an obscure corner, and I had scarcely realized her presence. "Over at last! and of all fatiguing and unprofitable employments that the folly of man ever devised, this trifling with spirits is certainly the chief."
"Nay, my dear," urged the brother, in his placid way, "these good people who have fastened themselves upon us seem so anxious to continue the investigation that I cannot find it in my heart to refuse them. I _did_ wish, to be sure, that we might have our Fast-Day in quiet; but Miss Turligood, who knows much more about the matter than we do, thinks the spirits would not like it, if we did, and so--although we will absent ourselves from the sitting long enough to go to church--we must really make the best of it, and receive the circle."
"You speak like a believer, Colonel Prowley," I said.
"No, not quite that," replied the old gentleman,--"yet, truly, I sometimes hardly know why I am not. The knockings alone are quite inexplicable; and when it comes to a fiery hand ringing the dinner-bell, which Stellato can show in the dark----Besides, there are the communications from distinguished characters, many of them so very important and interesting. To be sure, my poor cousin Barley did not do himself justice this evening, though some of his ideas were very poetical; but, really, the other night, when he told us how much the Royal Sextons were thought of in the spheres, and repeated that very high compliment which Thomas Herne paid to my family-history, it all seemed so marvellous, and yet so natural, that I could not help subscribing pretty handsomely to the cause."
"And one of the privileges that your subscription has gone to purchase I am yet to enjoy. Dr. Burge wished me to visit, in his company, your former pastor, Mr. Clifton,--and we must look for him, as I see, at the Spiritualists' Festival in the Town Hall."
"Sad! sad!" cried Colonel Prowley, thoughtfully chewing upon my remark. "It is an abiding shame for a minister of the gospel to meddle with these things, except, possibly, in the way of exorcism. Truly, a deep humiliation has fallen upon the town."
And the chagrin of this respected gentleman was wholly sincere. The Puritanical distinction between clergy and laity had scarcely faded in his mind. The pastor of the First Church had belonged to a cherished class,--a class whose moral and intellectual consequence must be maintained by avoidance of all dangerous inquiries, common interests, and secular amusements. A minister attending a Jenny-Lind Charity-Concert in a play-house, or leading armed men in the most sacred cause for which human blood might be shed,--what offences would these have been to this titular Colonel of Foxden, who had won his honors by a six-months' finery and dining as aide-de-camp to some forgotten Governor!
"I fear I shall not be back before you wish to close the house."
"Never mind, you remember the old arrangement: door-key under the scraper,--light burning in the drawing-room."
With hearty thanks I went forth to keep my appointment with Dr. Burge.
The narrative here takes us to a portion of the shadowy perturbation which any who have turned these pages as a fictitious rendering of the grotesque in experience will do well to omit. Only a mortifying, though perchance salutary, sense of human infirmity comes from beholding one set over the people as intercessor and counsellor struggling in the meshes of that snare which the Enemy had spread for the undisciplined and wandering multitude. No, not even struggling now. That Clifton had fought through solitary days against the wretched enervation which invited him, I had reason to know. But he had dared to tamper with the normal functions of mind and body, to try fantastic tricks with that mysterious agent through which the healthy will commands the organism. And when the mental disorder, mocked at and preached against in happier years, at length ran through Foxden, the morbid condition of his system was powerless to resist the contagion.
And let us not overlook the fact that in these manifestations there was to be found a palpable reality, a positive marvel, well calculated to lay hold of a skeptic like Clifton. His early associations with the Transcendentalists had undermined his faith in all popular presentations of Christianity. But his peculiarly emotional nature could never dwell in that haziness of opinion upon august subjects in which sounder men among the brethren made out to live cheerfully and to work vigorously. While Clifton madly sought a position of intelligence and satisfaction beyond the reach of humanity, the necessary abstraction enlarged and stimulated his reasoning powers. But the penalty was to be paid. For with terrible recoil from its tension his mind contracted to far less than normal limits. Then came a listless vacuity, a tawdry dreaminess. And this poor minister, who flattered himself that he had outgrown every graceful and touching form with which human affection or human infirmity had clothed the Christian idea, stumbled amid the rubbish of an effete heathenism, with its Sibylline contortions and tripod-responses, which the best minds of Pagan civilization found no difficulty in pronouncing a delusion and a lie.
I knew Dr. Burge for one of those most useful instructors who will patiently examine with the intellect what the instinct teaches them to condemn. He seldom helped the doctrine he assailed by denying it such facts as were true and such attractions as were real. He had cheerfully accepted whatever reproach came to him from frequenting circles in the attempt to see the mystery from the believers' point of view. I was not surprised at finding him upon one of the back benches in the Town Hall.
"Nothing noteworthy," he said, as I joined him. "Only women have spoken,--the excited nervous system careering without restraint,--no spirits yet."
"They pretend inspiration, I suppose."
"Oh, yes; and it is not surprising that semi-educated people, ignorant of analogous phenomena, should take the _omne ignotum pro magnifico_."
"Yet you are said to be a believer in the possession which the mediums claim?"
"Certainly," replied Dr. Burge, "and to just this extent:--I do not doubt the possibility of intercourse between man and the lower grades of immaterial life, and I am willing to adopt this hypothesis to explain any occurrence where the facts demand it. That, in rare cases, such may be the most simple and natural supposition, I readily admit. The ordinary performances, however, may be accounted for without calling in god or demon to untie the knot."
I remarked that Mr. Clifton was not to be seen upon the platform.
"He is kept out of the way until the last,--in the Selectmen's Room, as I am told, and alone."
"I fear all appeal would now be in vain; yet, Sir, I would not have you spare an effort to awaken him to the peril of his course."
"Let us go to him, then," assented Dr. Burge.
Upon common occasions, the Selectmen's Room failed to suggest any exceptional character in its occupants. It was a narrow, ill-lighted, unventilated apartment, bitter with the after-taste of taxes, prophetically flavorous of taxes yet to be. Stove-accommodation beyond the criticism of the most fastidious salamander, a liberal sprinkling of sand with a view to the ruminant necessities of the town-patricians, two or three stiff armchairs with straws protruding from their well-worn cushions, intolerant benches for unofficial occupancy,--altogether a gloomy aggregate result of the diverse ideals of social well-being to be found among the inhabitants of Foxden. But now I recognized a new element in this familiar chamber; a strange contagion hung about the walls; a something which imparted delicate edge to the nervous system was perceptible in the dry heat of the air. Near an oracular table, which bore evidence of recent manipulation, stood the Reverend Charles Clifton: others had evidently been with him before our entrance; he was now alone. An oil-lamp sputtered feebly in the corner. The stove-devil glared at us through his one glazed eye, and puffed out his mephitic welcome as I shut the door.
"Clifton, my old friend!" exclaimed Dr. Burge.
The person addressed raised his head, half closed his eyes, as one who endeavors to fix objects which are flitting before him. It seemed necessary to withdraw his inward gaze from some delicious dazzlement of dream-land. At last he spoke slowly and with effort.
"Burge, you here?--and one of us?"
"Heaven forbid!" cried my companion. "I but look upon these things for my own warning, and in the way of my duty as teacher to those who might be disposed to tamper with unknown powers, within or without."
"Say, rather, to melt the iron links which gyve soul to body," said Clifton, in constrained articulation, through which a moaning undertone seemed ever trying to be heard. "Say, rather, to produce a finer exaltation than wine, opium, or hashish,--for it is most sweet to subject the animal organism to the control of spirit-wills."
"A grateful doctrine to those who dare to substitute a morbid receptivity for an active endeavor!"
"It is to soothe the sense-powers, so that others may use them to give us intimations far beyond their common capacity."
"'_I_ keep under my body and bring it into subjection,'" quoted Dr. Burge, emphasizing the personal pronoun. "The Apostle declares that his own immortal individuality alone controls his members,--and why? 'lest, when I have preached unto others, I myself should become a castaway.'"
The Doctor delivered the last sentence with rich cathedral-emphasis, and with the full unction of priestly authority.
Clifton, or whatever vague and dusky power controlled him, cowered at the rebuke. The nervous energy with which he had experimented, or which he had left passive for the experiments of others, seemed withdrawn from his frame.
Dr. Burge perceived his advantage, and continued:--
"I speak to you, my fallen brother, as I cannot speak to the foolish people who grope in this miasma of delusion. Silly women, yielding to the natural vanity of their sex, may mistake hysterics for inspiration. Vacillating and vacant men may seek a new sensation by encouraging a revival of the demoniacal epidemics of heathendom. But you, who have been a preacher of the gospel, though, as I must now more than ever believe, after a devitalized and perverted method,--you, to leave the honest work of a dweller upon earth, to chatter of immensity, to weaken the brain that it may no longer separate the true from the false!--believe me, Clifton, you have been bought by the shallowest promises which the King of Evil ever exchanged for a sacred and inviolable soul."
"You have spoken according to your business," replied Mr. Clifton, impatiently. "You, who begin by assuming the impossibility of spirit-intercourse since Bible times, with what candor can you examine the facts we build upon?"
"I make no such assumption," was the rejoinder. "Has it not been foretold that 'in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils'? Have we not aforetime been vexed with them in this very New England? For I almost justify Mather's words, when he stigmatizes the necromancy of his day as 'a terrible Plague of Evil Angels,' or, in still plainer speech, as 'a prodigious descent of devils upon divers places near the centre of this Province.' And how better can we characterize this confused and distracting babblement which gives no good gift to man?"
"It has given him this," exclaimed Clifton, advancing towards Dr. Burge, and seeming for a few moments to resume his old personality,--"it has given him the knowledge of a life to come! You think it, preach it, believe it,--but you do not _know_ it. A susceptibility to impressions from the inmost characters of men has been mine through life. It has been given me to perceive what facts and feelings most deeply adhered in the mental consciousness. And I tell you, Burge, ministers both of your communion and of mine repeat the old words of sublimest assurance, sway congregations with descriptions bright or lurid of future worlds, yet behind all this glowing speech and blatant confidence there has lurked,--oh, will you deny it?--there has lurked a grovelling doubt of man's immortality."
"I will not deny it," said Dr. Burge, with slow solemnity. "Sinners that we are, how can we ask that faith be at no moment confused by the thousand cries of infidelity which our profession requires us to answer? Let my soul be chilled by transient shades of skepticism, rather than dote in a blind and puerile credulity! If I am not at all times equally penetrated by the great fact of man's conscious immortality, it is because of my undesert. A way to _know_ of the doctrine has been revealed: it is by doing the will of the Father: who of us has fulfilled the condition? But I can meet you on lower ground, and declare, that, according to our human observation, it is not well for man to _know_ the destiny of his being in all its details until the trials and victories of life have taught him to turn such knowledge to elevating use. It is the deplorable sinfulness of our nature which seeks to obtain without deserving, to possess the end and despise the appointed means."
Some reply would doubtless have been made to these pertinent considerations, had not the confused tramp of a committee been heard at the door. The professors of the "New Dispensation" had come to conduct the Reverend Charles Clifton to their platform. The distinguished convert shuddered, as if affected by some incorporeal presence, and suffered himself to be led away.
"I can do nothing more," murmured Dr. Burge; "and why should I stay to hear diluted rhetoric, or inflated commonplace, from lips which, however unworthily, once proclaimed the simplicity of the gospel?"
"Because it is not well to prejudge what may offer some possible variety in this credence," I ventured to suggest.
"You are right; we will stay."
A murmur of applause followed the appearance of Clifton upon the platform,--yet it was only a murmur; for the flock, long pastured upon delicate delusions, received as matter of course whatever shepherding chance offered. Did not the face of the medium wear an expression of earthly disappointment at this slender recognition? Could it be that there was needed the hot-house heat of a carnal "success" to favor this exquisite flowering of the spirit? Can we suppose that this whole matter was no other than some Yankee patent to avoid the awful solitude in which each human soul must enter into relations with the unseen?
Slowly and in dreamy heaviness the discourse began. The inspirational claims seemed to lie in the manifest improbability of a man of Clifton's cultivation being so dull and diffuse in a natural condition. Yet, as the message wore on, it cannot be denied that a strange influence was at work. The words followed each other with greater fluency and in richer abundance. The meaning, to be sure, was still vague enough; and whenever some commonplace truth or plausibility protruded from the general washiness, it was seized upon and beaten and stretched to the last degree of tenuity. Phrases upon phrases of gorgeous dreaminess. A soothing delight,--yet such delight as only the bodily senses demanded. A joyful deliverance from the bondage of intellectual life. Hints that our human consciousness of sin was a vain delusion from which the "developed" man was happily delivered. "Come up here," said the preacher, in substance, "and escape from this moral accountability which sits so heavily upon you. Here is a sensuous paradise, sweet and debilitating, offering varied delights to the eclecticism of personal taste. All angular and harsh things may be dissolved in copious floods of words, and washed into a ravishing, enervating Universe."
An hour--two hours--passed. The air was thick and poisonous. Attention had been strained to the utmost. Other things were to be noted by those accustomed to regard mental disorder from a physiological point of view.
And now, by some abnormal mode of cerebral activity, the trance-speaker won strange sympathies from his auditors. Certain faculties in Clifton had reached an expansion not permitted to the healthy man. A plastic power came from him and took the impress of other minds. Old experiences groped out of forgotten corners and haunted the discourse. At one time it seemed as if all that was potential in the culture of the medium or his audience might be stimulated into specious blossom. Phenomena were exhibited which transcended the conscious powers of the human soul,--nay, which testified of its latent ability to work without organic conditions. Our unemployed brain-organs, as Hamilton and others have clearly proved, are always employing themselves. And from this self-employment--or was it demon-employment?--there swept through the consciousness a vague delirium of excitement. In all that assembly a single pulse beat feverish measures. The climax was reached. Without was the soft spring night veiling the scarcely touched range of knowledge and beauty offered to the healthy energies of man; within were dazed wanderers in a region of morbid emotion, seeking to intensify the colors of Nature, willing to waste precious vitality in conjurations of the dead.
The wretched thraldom was over,--and what had it left?
An exquisite sensitiveness of the nerves of sense, imagination exalted, memory goaded, reason and judgment overthrown.
In his Fast-Day sermon Dr. Burge delivered himself of much weighty testimony against those thaumaturgical incantations of heathenism which had been revived among us. With his splendor of clerical pause and emphasis he read the denunciations against a sinful nation to which the prophet Isaiah has affixed the awful words,--"Saith the Lord, the Lord of Hosts."
"And they shall fight every one against his brother, and every one against his neighbor, city against city, and kingdom against kingdom."
Here the preacher's dark eyes left the sacred volume, and seemed to gaze upon some coming struggle in which the sins of the people would meet a bloody retribution. Then, referring to the page, he pronounced with bitterness of holy indignation the prophetic curse which was that day fulfilled in our cherished New England.
"And they shall seek to the idols, and to the charmers, and to them that have familiar spirits, and to the wizards."
The sermon made no more visible impression upon the sinful portion of the congregation than homilies against novel and pleasant indulgences are wont to do.
"The Apostle was right, after all," said Colonel Prowley, quoting the text upon the meeting-house steps; "we _should_ 'try the spirits.'"
"No objection to that," said the post-master; "but here's Dr. Burge tells us to keep out of their way, and call them all humbugs, without trying them at all."
The gentleman referred to joined our party upon the meeting-house green, and accompanied us home.
As we entered the house, our ears were saluted by a sort of scuffling noise, with an accompaniment of broken English. Miss Turligood, highly charged with the Detached Vitalized Electricity, or some stimulant of equal potency, ran to meet us in the entry, to enjoin silence and a passive state of mind before entering the parlor. The manifestations during service had been most wonderful. Twynintuft had lifted the table to the ceiling, with Mr. Stellato clinging to the legs. Mrs. Colfodder had had her back-hair taken down, and the housemaid was certain that somebody tried to kiss her.
We made for the parlor with all convenient speed. Notwithstanding the solemn adjurations of Dr. Burge, we entertained guilty hopes of seeing some of the marvels which had become such positive drugs in our absence. But to _see_ anything was, for a long time, out of the question; for the spirits had insisted upon having the shutters closed, and shawls pinned up before the cracks in the same, ere they would favor mortals with an exhibition. Finally, dim outlines revealed themselves through the obscurity. We made out a female figure (it was the cook, so Miss Prowley whispered) who was haranguing the assembly at the rate of a word every thirty seconds, or thereabouts.
_Cook as Twynintuft:_--"I am Mister Twynintuft. I set lots by you all. I left my bright spirit-home to come here to-day. The squashes was musty afore they was brought into the house. No blame to the cook. Them pickled termarterses couldn't keep into spring, and so I tell you now. The spheres is a dry place, and everythin' is most a-beautiful here."
_Betty, the housemaid, loquitur._--(She appears in the character of Red-Jacket, a popular personation upon these occasions,--it being very easy to talk _Indian_ by the simple recipe of transposing the nominative and objective cases of the personal pronoun.) "Me don't like what you say, old Twyney! I's name's Red-Jacket. Pale-face give fire-water to I. The squashes was good enough till cook left 'em out in the rain. Me have hunting-ground in fifth sphere. When me puts up tomatoes in the spirit-world, me rosins 'em when they bile. Great influence comes from I to-day; also, much development."
"Dr. Burge," whispered I, "you claim to have devoted some time to the examination of these delusions; but I will venture to say you have never witnessed anything so humiliating as this!"
"My dear Sir," murmured the Doctor in return, "the remark shows you to be a novice indeed. Why, I have listened to hours of no better drivel than this, fathered, not upon Indians and unknown elocutionists, but upon some of the wisest and most saintly spirits whose mortal teachings ever blessed mankind."
"Do you think these people voluntary impostors?"
"No; it would be nearer the truth to say that they are voluntary victims of a mental epidemic like that which developed itself in the St. Vitus's dance of the Middle Ages. The subjects of that disease went through the same spasms, convulsions, and painful racking of the limbs which accompany such cases of this personation as are not designed deceptions. Even those accidentally present, when the effects of the ancient contagion were exhibited, became infected and were irresistibly impelled to join in the extravagance. Look at Miss Turligood and Mr. Stellato, and see if the parallel is not supported."
The individuals named were seen to be twisting themselves up and making an awkward sort of obeisance to the housemaid, who (still as Red-Jacket) thus delivered herself:--
"Me goin' to dancey war-dance. Great Spirit sends lots more Indians come dancey too."
A cry of acquiescence,--perchance intended for a ghostly war-whoop,--and the beloved of my Lord Byron broke into a savage polka.
Stellato seized a paper-knife, and proceeded to scalp a chair with merciless ferocity.
Those unfortunate ladies, Miss Branly and Miss Turligood, were unable to resist the infection, and so sprang among the party, whirled about, and exhibited absurdities painful and unnecessary to relate.
"By the Muse of my ancestor the Poet!" exclaimed Colonel Prowley, indignantly, "I will no longer endure this clumsy travesty of that choric saltation with which Apollo was said to inspire his Pythian virgins. Dr. Burge, you will oblige me by pulling down that shawl! Sister, you will please to open the shutters of the south window!"
The requests were instantly complied with. The wholesome sunlight burst into the room, and checked, as if by magic, the unseemly mumming of these deluded convulsionaries. Mrs. Colfodder sank down exhausted upon the sofa. Betty ceased to be Red-Jacket. Mr. Stellato gave up his scalping-knife, flopped feebly upon a chair, and again became a transparent jelly-fish of philosophy and water. It was harder to bring Miss Turligood to herself, by reason of the singular intractability of the squaw who had taken possession of the premises, and was only to be dislodged by much tediousness of argument and adjuration. At length, however, even this was accomplished. The Indians sulked off into space, and their terrestrial mediums once more prepared to collect about the table.
"Why, bless me! past one, I declare!" said Miss Turligood, consulting her watch. "How spirits do make the time pass! A brief adjournment for dinner will now take place. The circle will meet for renewed investigation this afternoon at three o'clock. Every member will be punctual. Remember, in this place, at three o'clock."
"Stay," said Miss Prowley, in a gentle, but at the same time decided tone; "it will not be convenient to us to receive this party again. The presence of friends from the city, who are in Foxden only for the day, renders a meeting this afternoon out of the question. And having once broken up our regular sittings, it will not be worth while to resume them,--at least, here."
"But, Madam, Madam, you forget that the spirits have positively commanded us to hold sittings in your parlor three times a day till further notice!" gasped Miss Turligood, in extreme astonishment.
"I do not recognize the authority of the spirits. They have no right to dictate the uses of my parlor."
Here was a confession indeed on the part of Miss Prowley. _Not recognize the authority of the spirits!_ Miss Turligood fairly staggered, when she heard the impious announcement. The smooth sciolist Stellato rallied his weak wits and uttered a cry of wonder at such flagitious heresy. The future Lady Byron, taking as a deliberate insult any doubts of the identity and authority of her posthumous spouse, threw up her arms in horror, and trotted out of the house.
Finally, we got rid of them all,--_how_, I don't exactly remember, and if I did, it would not concern the reader to know. We delivered Miss Turligood over to her Irishman, (who had brought a carryall with him this time,) and charged him never to drive her back; Betty and the cook were restored to the kitchen; Stellato and Miss Branly disappeared, no one could say where.
"And now," exclaimed Colonel Prowley, with a sigh of relief, "let us forget this nonsense, and go to dinner,--for the spirits have given me an appetite, if nothing else."
"Then you intend to follow what I understand to be the teaching of your invisible visitors," remarked Dr. Burge, pleasantly.
"You do not recognize Fast-Day."
"Ha! ha!" laughed the Colonel; "I doubt if the ghosts were quite unreasonable about that."
"Nay, brother, you should tell our good minister that we have but a cold collation, and that prepared on the previous day, as is our custom on the Sabbath," urged Miss Prowley, with the dignity of an exact and consistent housekeeper.
"It is as well we have," was the reply; "for those precious Indians, although wise in medicine, knew little enough about cookery. They would have made sorry work, had it been necessary to give a culinary direction to the inspirations of our damsels below-stairs."
"And yet, after all," resumed our host, meditatively, and after a moment's pause, "it seems scarcely right to make a jest of this matter; for, although the manifestations of to-day have been ridiculous enough,--yet--really--when I think of some of those instructive observations of poor Sir Joseph Barley"----
The remark was never concluded, for a sudden rattling and whoaing and bumping of baggage was heard. The interruption came from before the front-door. The "Railroad-Omnibus" had driven up to the house.
"It is, doubtless, my good friend Professor Owlsdarck," said Colonel Prowley,--courteously rebuking an exclamation of astonishment from his sister, who had gone to the window;--"to be sure, we did not expect him to-day, but he is ever a most welcome guest."
"But it is _not_ Professor Owlsdarck!" cried the sister, in shrillest tones of feminine amazement. "That portly figure to which the pencil of the artist has done such feeble justice! the spectacles with the square glasses! the enormous seal of the Sextons!--it can be but one man!"
"What! you don't mean"----
"Yes, but I _do_ mean! Come and see for yourself!"
"A ghost in an omnibus! Why, sister, sister, the Detached--what-you-may-call-it has got into your head,--or, heavens! can it be that our unbelief is punished with this frightful manifestation?"
"It is Sir Joseph Barley himself!" ejaculated Miss Prowley.
"Surrounded by his bank of silver-tunicked attendants?" gasped the Colonel, in desperate interrogation.
"No, no, nothing of the kind," said Dr. Burge, assuringly; "he has not brought even a footman."
And it _was_ Sir Joseph Barley,--in the flesh,--and in a good deal of it, too;--Sir Joseph Barley, full to overflowing with talk and compliments. He had long planned a journey to America, and a surprise to his Fellow-Sexton in Foxden. The trip had been necessarily postponed from week to week, and then from month to month. Always expecting to leave by the next steamer, he had never thought it worth while to write. Had been on shore exactly nine hours, was delighted with the country, and had already written the first chapter of a book about it. Was, nevertheless, surprised to see none of the native Red Men upon the wharf when the Canada arrived. Should have thought the spectacle would have been both novel and imposing to them. After dinner, would, with permission, go into the forests about Foxden, and visit this singular people in their national wigwams.
How picture the delight of hospitable Colonel Prowley, when, volubly delivering these and other sentiments, the High Priest and Potentate over all Sextondom entered the parlor and made himself comfortable in a rocking-chair?
There is no need to dwell upon the matronly bustle of Miss Prowley, who, utterly ignoring the proper ordinances of the day, proceeded to send to the hotel for a beefsteak and a bottle of British Stout which could be warranted of genuine importation.
"And stop, stop, sister!" whispered the Colonel, pursuing her to the door; "the idea seems absurd, to be sure, but still don't you think it barely possible, that, if Betty ran down to the river and caught a few of those snapping-turtles sunning themselves upon the old log, we might boil them into something which would faintly remind Sir Joseph of the Lord Mayor's soup?"
This proposition being dismissed as impracticable,--first, by reason of the notorious unwillingness of the turtles to be caught, and, waiving that objection, because of the length of time it would take to achieve any passable imitation of the aldermanic dainty,--I was moved to an _aside_-declaration to the effect that my slight observation of the tastes of British tourists in the Federal States led to the suggestion of _oysters_ as delicacies not wholly unlikely to find favor with their eminent guest.
An explosion of impulsive gratitude responded to the hint. There was a new "saloon" just opened in Main Street,--Betty should stop there and leave a generous order.
Well! it was some time before we were summoned to our amended dinner; but, when we did get it, it was a dinner worth waiting for.
Sir Joseph Barley--Heaven bless him!--knew nothing of that smattering of Cosmos into which we hungry New-Englanders are wont to thrust our wits. He bluntly declared that he had never heard of Detached Vitalized Electricity, Woman's Rights, or Harmonial Development; also, he was delightfully confident that--he, Sir Joseph Barley, British subject, _not_ having heard of them--they could not, by any possibility, be worth hearing about. Moreover, he had not read a word of Carlyle, and positively did not know of the existence of any English poet called Browning. Dr. Burge, he thoughtfully suggested, had probably mistaken the name; it was Byron, or possibly Bulwer, about whom he wished to inquire. The former of these personages was a British Peer, and a writer of some celebrity; he was, however, no longer living, having never recovered from a fever he took at a place called Missolonghi, in Greece;--the latter had written a book entitled "Pelham," once popular, but now thought inferior to a series of romances known in Great Britain as the "Waverley Novels"; these were the work of one Scott, a native of Edinburgh, whom George IV. honored with a baronetcy,--a splendid recompense for his great literary industry.
This, and much other information, adapted to our rude plantation in the New-England wilderness, did Sir Joseph patronizingly impart. And it was good to meet a man with a sense of corporeal identity so honest and satisfactory. A cynic might have said that his mind moved in rather narrow limits. But then within those limits he was so ruddy and jubilant that I could not but remember something Shakspeare says about the ease of being bounded in a nutshell and yet counting one's self king of infinite space,--were it not for bad dreams. These "bad dreams" had never retarded the British digestion of Sir Joseph Barley. No American citizen could, by any possibility, be so shut in measureless content. It is only a very few of our well-to-do women of the Mrs. Widesworth class--ladies inclining to knitting and corpulency in the afternoon of life--who possess the like faculty of warming society with the blaze of an ecstatic egotism. Well, there are moments--why not confess it? for is not man body as well as soul?--when it is a relief to get away from our mystics, system-mongers, and peerers into the future, and claim a brotherhood after the flesh with your average Briton, who looks out of his comfortable present only to look into his comfortable past. Yet let this estate be temporary; for it is well to return to our thin diet, and, instead of jolly after-dinner talk, repeat the high and aspiring phrases of certain New-Englanders who lead the generous thought and life of a continent. Phrases! Yes, but how many nebulous ideas, think you, would it take to stuff out their hollowness? Nay, my objecting friend, if the ideas are not wholly clear, nor immediately practicable, they are seldom shallow, and never mean. If the wisdom of our true seers sometimes seems poured out in thin dilution, it nevertheless soon hardens to a thousand shining crystals upon men of worldly enterprise and grasp. And why this digression? I think its suggestion lay in the fact that Sir Joseph, being the type of the ordinary Englishman, held and imparted a fine sunniness of temper, and a perfectly balanced serenity,--good gifts, which, so far as my experience goes, are possessed in full measure by only one or two exceptional Americans, and these men of high and acknowledged genius.
"I don't understand it, upon my honor," cried our visitor, after we had endeavored to explain to him his own spiritual intrusion on the previous evening. "I have heard of Doctor Pordage and the Dragon, and of the Drummer of Tedworth; but when you tell a sane British subject that his apparition comes before him, and takes, as it were, the froth off his welcome"----
"No, no, my dear friend," interrupted Colonel Prowley, "you must know that nothing could do that! As to the obituary I had written, it may do for some other time,--for, indeed, my felicity in such compositions has been highly commended, and this by mundane authorities of no common weight."
"Let us change the subject," said Sir Joseph, dryly; "I have no wish to test your powers in that direction; and so long as I don't give up the ghost, I suppose you must."
"I would only say this," observed the Colonel,--"that in your book upon America I hope you will not fail to declare, that, in folly, deception, and unmitigated humbug, our Foxden spirits exceed all others ever seen or heard."
"Sir Joseph Barley would be a foolish chronicler to commit himself to any such statement," said Dr. Burge, who seemed to feel it his duty to speak the moral _tag_ to our little Fast-Day interlude. "I cannot allow that these Foxden manifestations are one whit more silly or equivocal than many I have seen elsewhere. This shamming the ghost of somebody still alive is no uncommon deception: several cases of the sort have come under my recent observation. And it is well that they sometimes occur; for they must cause reflection in all who are not victims of a mental disorder which seems to confound the reasoning powers of man,--causing its subjects to accept as teachers phantoms of their morbid imaginations, or deceiving intelligences from without. To all, I say, but such as these, an imposition of the sort here noticed must send reflections of our total inability to identify any pretended spirit merely because he flatters our vanity, or talks what may seem _to us_ good morality or sound sense."
Dr. Burge had laid aside his knife and fork, and had launched bravely forth upon his theme. Sir Joseph moved uneasily. Things were getting serious. Our host happily interposed,--
"Very true, Doctor, all very true;--yet there is one piece of wisdom regulating the spiritual practice which now seems worth considering."
"And what is that, pray?"
"They do not recognize Fast-Day."
"Well, well," said Dr. Burge, taking the hint with the utmost good-humor, "perhaps they were not altogether wrong there; and so I will trouble Miss Prowley for a bit more of the steak, and----No, thank you, no beer for me; I am a water-drinker of twenty years' standing."
"The toast I am about to propose," observed Colonel Prowley, "may, with exceeding propriety, be drunk in water,--that is, whenever milk-and-water is not to be had:--
_"Our spiritual demagogues, much weaker than our political ones, may they not be as much worse!"_
"And there is one other sentiment," said good Dr. Burge, brimming over with an honest hilarity,--"a toast which I should be willing to drink in pretty strong--coffee."
"I have not forgotten that," exclaimed our host, proffering a hearty shake of the hand to the High Senior Governour and Primitive Patriarch of All Sextons,--
_"Health and a long life to Sir Joseph Barley!"_
Fear death?--to feel the fog in my throat, The mist in my face, When the snows begin, and the blasts denote I am nearing the place, The power of the night, the press of the storm, The post of the foe; Where he stands, the Arch Fear in a visible form, Yet the strong man must go: For the journey is done and the summit attained, And the barriers fall, Though a battle's to fight ere the guerdon be gained, The reward of it all. I was ever a fighter, so--one fight more, The best and the last! I would hate that Death bandaged my eyes, and forbore, And bade me creep past. No! let me taste the whole of it, fare like my peers The heroes of old, Bear the brunt, in a minute pay glad life's arrears Of pain, darkness, and cold. For sudden the worst turns the best to the brave, The black minute's at end, And the elements' rage, the fiend-voices that rave, Shall dwindle, shall blend, Shall change, shall become first a peace, then a joy, Then a light, then thy breast, O thou soul of my soul! I shall clasp thee again, And with God be the rest!
We have, at last, a full story of the life of Mr. Irving. It is from the hand of a near relative, who has brought to the task an almost filial reverence, with a modest reserve of language, and a delicacy of treatment, which, while they disarm criticism, would of themselves suffice to attest the kinship of the writer with the distinguished subject of his biography. It is a quiet and tranquil picture that he has given us, of a serene and tranquil life. As we have turned it over delightedly, chapter after chapter, and volume upon volume, we have wished at times that the coy biographer had been endowed with a spice of garrulity or of egotism; for, say what we will, these qualities contribute largely to the interest with which we follow the story of a life about whose incidents and development the public has greed of knowledge.
If Boswell had invariably governed his biographic record by the instincts of a gentleman, we should have possessed far less wealth of gossip by which to judge of the manhood and the familiar surroundings of the great lexicographer. And we can readily imagine that a conscientious man, in setting about the task of writing the life of a favorite author, would ask himself, over and over, how much should be yielded to the eager curiosity of the public, and how much a refined courtesy of feeling should keep in reserve. There are men, indeed, whose history, by whomsoever recorded, would suggest no such questioning,--men who have elbowed their way through life, bent upon some single aim, with a grand and coarse disregard of all the heart-burnings they may have caused, and all the idols they may have brushed down. Washington Irving was by no means such a man; he was kind-hearted to the last degree; and yet, remembering as we do that sly look of humor which lurked always in the corner of his eye, we cannot believe but that in his freer moments he has pricked through many a bag of bombast, and made dashing onslaught upon noisy literary pretension. Of all this, however, we find nothing in the volumes before us,--nothing in his own books. Always, in his contact with the world, he is genial; the face of every friend is beautiful to him; every acquaintance is at the least comely; in rollicking Tom Moore he sees (what all of us cannot see) a big heart,--in Espartero a bold, frank, honest soldier,--in every fair young girl a charmer,--and in almost every woman a fair young girl.
In all these respects the biography of Mr. Pierre Irving is in fitting accord with what we had known and believed of his eminent kinsman. And we are delighted at being confirmed in the belief. We yield all measure of respect for the grace, the purity, the dignity, which Washington Irving has added to our literature; and yet we honor still more that true American heart which beams through all his writings, and throughout this record of his life. The rare kindliness of the man so hallows and sublimes his memory that we half forget his artistic power, his purity of touch, his keenness of observation, his delightful and abounding humor.
There are no storms in this life of his: it is, as we have said, a quiet picture of a career that is full of honor indeed, full of triumphs, but full of serenity. Here is no Don Quixote searching for enemies with whom to do battle,--no John Knox thwacking terribly upon all heretical pates, and sweating with his obstinacy, as much as with the vigor of his blows; but the kindly gentleman, giving tone and beauty to the common sentiment of us all, piquing our wonder by his adroitness, kindling our smiles by his arch sallies, winning our admiration by his thousand graces, and our respect by his honesty and truth.
In 1797, Washington Irving, a roguish lad of fifteen, living in William Street, in New York, and not a little rebellious against the severe orthodoxy of his father,--who was a deacon of the Presbyterian Church,--sometimes slipped out from his chamber, after evening prayers, for an hour or two at the theatre; he attended school, where he stole the reading of such books as "Robinson Crusoe," and "Sinbad the Sailor"; and he wrote compositions for such of his fellows as would make good his tasks in mathematics. This was a study which he never loved, and to the last he abjured all stringency of method. The writer of this paper remembers on one occasion asking him what system he pursued in massing his notes for the "Life of Washington." "Don't ask me for system," said he; "I never had any. If you want to know what a man can do by arrangement, talk with B----; his whole mind is pigeon-holed."
At sixteen we find him in a lawyer's office; he does not, like some of his brothers, enjoy the advantages (if there be any) of a collegiate education. But he loves law as little as he loves mathematics. Feeble health gives occasion for frequent absences and journeyings; and it is plain to see that he loves a voyage up the Hudson, and adventurous travel through the wilds of Northern New York, better than he loves Judge Livingston, or the books of his law-patron, Mr. Hoffman. He has a scribbling mood upon him at this early day, too, and contributes to the New-York "Morning Chronicle" certain letters of Jonathan Oldstyle, which are remarked for their pleasant humor. At the age of twenty-one (1804) continued ill-health suggests a sea-voyage. He leaves law and his jolly companions,--Brevoort, Kemble, Paulding, and the rest,--and sails for Bordeaux. He wanders through Southern Europe delightedly,--meets Washington Allston at Rome, and is half tempted to turn painter,--sees Humboldt, De Staël, Cooke, Siddons; and while all England is jubilant over Nelson's victory, and all England mourning over Nelson's death, he sails, in 1806, for home.
Arrived in New York a sound man, he goes through a process of cramming for admission to the bar, and is presently instated--attorney-at-law. But at the very time of his examination he is concocting with James Paulding the project of "Salmagundi," which presently enlivens and perplexes people with the vagaries of Launcelot Langstaff. A little after, he plans and commences the Knickerbocker History.
But meantime an interesting episode of his life is developing, which by its unfortunate issue is to give a certain color to all after-expression of his sentiment. While in the family of Mr. Hoffman, as law-student, he has conceived a strong attachment for his daughter; in certain memoranda, marked "private," which come under the eyes of the biographer only after Mr. Irving's death, he says,--"I idolized her. I felt at times rebuked by her superior delicacy and purity, and as if I was a coarse, unworthy being in comparison.... I saw her fade rapidly away, beautiful, and more beautiful, and more angelical to the very last.... I was by her when she died.... I was the last one she looked upon." The memorandum from which this extract is taken had been originally written, it appeared, for the eye of an intimate lady-friend abroad, to whom we shall have occasion to refer.
In 1809, at the age of twenty-six, is published his "History of New York." There were a few punctilious Dutch families who were offended at its sallies; but cultivated people generally welcomed its fun, its spirit, its quiet satire, with heartiness and applause.
Shortly after he entered into a commercial partnership with his brothers, Peter and Ebenezer, of whom one was established in England, the other in New York. In the War of 1812 we find him acting as military aid to Governor Tompkins; and in 1815 he embarks again for Europe. He passes many years in England, in the course of which time the commercial firm, of which he is a member goes into bankruptcy. Upon this, he is of course thrown adrift. But through the influence of his friends at home he is offered the position of Chief Clerk of the Navy Department, with a salary of twenty-four hundred dollars a year. This, however, after some misgivings, he declines. He does not like the idea of being cramped by official routine of duty. He will try what he can do with his pen. And for months after making this decision (we have heard it with unction from his own lips) he can do nothing. His friend Allston is going back to America; Leslie is making a reputation; and he, a bankrupt, and having wantonly thrown up the chance for a lucrative position at home, is suddenly bereft of all capacity for literary work; he makes trial; but it is in vain. The "Sketch-Book" is floating in his thought; but he cannot commit its graces to paper.
The months roll on; something must be done; the secretaryship at home is abandoned; he must try again; he does try; he sends off "Sketch-Book No. I." to America. We know what came of it: success, delight. Number upon number followed. There was an early republication, under the author's auspices, in London. He was fêted: it was so odd that an American should write with such control of language, with such a play of fancy, with such pathetic grace. There was a kind of social _furor_ to meet and to see the man who, notwithstanding his Transatlantic birth, had conquered all the witchery of British speech, who knew its possible delicacies of expression, and who graced it with a humor that reminded of Goldsmith.
No American author had ever dreamed of such ovation before: an ovation not due to any incisive thought, not due to any novelty of his subject-matter,--but due to the fact that a man born overseas had suddenly appeared among British writers, who could lay hold upon their own resources of sentiment, and inwrap it in language which charmed them by its grace and provoked them by its purity.
Mr. Murray entered upon the publication of the "Sketch-Book" in 1820, Mr. Irving being at that time thirty-seven years of age. Of his pleasant intimacy with Sir Walter Scott, of his junketings in Paris, of his meeting with Tom Moore, of his unfortunate enlistment in a steamboat-enterprise upon the Seine, there is full and most lively account in the "Life and Letters" before us. "Bracebridge Hall," despatched from Paris in 1822, is received with the same favor which had attended the publication of the "Sketch-Book"; and the pecuniary returns are so liberal that he can lie upon his oars for a while, and (what pleases him more) can effectually aid his brother Peter, who was a party to the unfortunate steamboat-scheme.
After this comes a merry whirl through Europe. The Rhine, Heidelberg, Munich, Vienna, we visit again in his sparkling letters, dated forty odd years ago. His reputation, and the good offices of French and English friends, open an easy path for him; everywhere he finds hospitality and acquaintances, and everywhere, by that frank, genial manner of his, he transmutes even chance acquaintances into confidential friends. The winter of 1822-3 is passed in the delightful city of Dresden. He meets with a warm welcome at the little Saxon court; he has the _entrée_ of a pleasant English household, where he becomes fairly domesticated. Mrs. Foster, its accomplished mistress, is a lady of fortune, who has two "lovely daughters." Mr. Irving, in concert with two or three gentlemen-friends, organizes certain home-theatricals, in which the Misses Foster engage with ready zeal and a charming grace. There are Italian readings, and country-excursions, to all of which Mr. Irving is a delighted party. He hardly knows how to tear himself away from scenes so enchanting. To Miss Foster he writes, on the occasion of a little foray into Bohemia,--"I am almost wishing myself back already. I ought to be off like your bird, but I feel I shall not be able to keep clear of the cage." Mrs. Foster, with a womanly curiosity, is eager to know how a man so susceptible as Mr. Irving, and so domestically inclined, should have reached the mature age of forty as a bachelor. Mr. Irving amiably gratifies her curiosity by detailing to her the story of his early and unfortunate attachment, in the shape of the memorandum to which we have already alluded. He closes this confidential disclosure by saying,--"You wonder why I am not married. I have shown you why I was not long since.... My time has now gone by; and I have growing claims upon my thoughts, and upon my means, slender and precarious as they are. I feel as if I had already a family to think and provide for."
We have dwelt upon this little episode, not because it has any essential importance in itself, but because it has been the subject of a most unseemly interpolation in the British reprint of the biography. Mr. Bentley, "Publisher in Ordinary to Her Majesty," was, it appears, the purchaser, at a small sum, of the advance-sheets of the book; but, in order to secure English copyright, he conceived the idea of introducing extraneous matter of British origin. In prosecution of this design, he found as _collaborateurs_ the two Misses Foster above alluded to, who are now wives of clergymen of the Church of England. Mrs. Fuller, the elder of the sisters, and the special favorite of the author, gives upon the whole a modest and pleasant account of their association with Mr. Irving, and closes with a few lines which, she says, he wrote in her scrap-book in 1832. "He declared it was impossible for him to be less in a writing-mood." And thereupon follow the well-known lines entitled "Echo and Silence." They certainly do not prove very much for the writing-mood of Mr. Irving,--whatever they may prove for Sir Egerton Brydges. The contribution of the younger sister, Mrs. Flora Dawson, is in a somewhat exaggerated and melodramatic vein, in the course of which she takes occasion to expend a great deal of pity upon "poor Irving," who is made to appear in the character of a rejected suitor for the hand of her sister. It is true that the testimony of Mr. Irving's biographer, and of his private papers, is largely against this absurdly romantic construction; but, although it had been perfectly authentic, it is almost incredible that a lady of delicacy should make such blazon of the affair, for the sake of securing a copyright to "Her Majesty's Publisher in Ordinary." We are sorry that Mrs. Dawson has not made a better _début_ in literature. As for Mr. Bentley, we can characterize his conduct in the matter only by the word--disgraceful. In the whole history of griping literary piracies (of which Americans must bear their share) we can recall no one which shows so bad a taste, and so bad a faith, as this of Mr. Bentley, the "Publisher in Ordinary to Her Majesty."
In the year 1824 we find Mr. Irving at work in Paris chambers upon the "Tales of a Traveller"; then follow three or four joyous and workful years in Spain, between Madrid, Seville, and the Alhambra. We have all tasted the fruit of that pleasant sojourn; "Columbus" is on every library-shelf; and we remember a certain dog's-eared copy of the "Conquest of Granada" which once upon a time set all the boys of a certain school agog with a martial furor. How we shook our javelins at some bewildered cow blundering into the play-ground! What piratical forays we made upon the neighbors' orchards, after the manner of the brave old Muley Aben Hassan! And as for the Alhambra, the tinkle of the water in the marble basins of its court is lingering on our ears even yet.
In Spain, as elsewhere, Mr. Irving makes a circle of friends about him whom it is hard to leave; but it must be. Accusing comrades at home say he has deserted his country; he turns his face Westward at last, and, full of honors, sails for New York once more, in the year 1832, at the ripe age of forty-nine. There never was a warmer welcome given to a returning citizen. A feast is made for him, at which all the magnates of the city of Manhattan assist; and the author's sensibility is so touched that he can make only stammering acknowledgments,--at which the cheers and the plaudits are heartier than ever.
After this comes the opening of that idyllic life at Sunnyside,--the building of the gables, the gilding of the weather-cocks, the planting of the ivies. "Astoria" and "Bonneville" and the "Tour on the Prairies" keep his hand active and his brain in play. Near and dear relatives relieve his bachelor home of all loneliness. Nine years or more have passed after his return, when he is surprised--and not a little shocked--by his appointment, at the instance of Mr. Webster, as Minister to Madrid.
He cannot resist the memories of the Alhambra, of Seville, of the Guadalquivir. Many pleasant associations are revived in England, in France, and not a few in the now revolutionary Spain. But it is plain to see that the official visit is not so enjoyable as the old untrammelled life in the Peninsula. No matter how light the duties, routine is a harness that galls him. We can almost hear his cheer of thanksgiving as he breaks away from it, and comes once more to his cherished home of Sunnyside. He is not an old man yet, though he counts well into the sixties. He contrives new additions to his cottage; he dashes off the charming "Life of Goldsmith" at a heat. His older books come pouring from the press, and are met with the cordial welcome of new ones.
His brothers, to whom he had been so fondly knit, are all gone save one; Brevoort is gone; Kemble is just above him, at his forge, under the lee of the Highlands. The river by quiet Tarrytown is strung up and down with new "gentlemen's places."
He puts himself resolutely at work upon the "Life of Washington." Frequently recurring illness, and a little shakiness in his step, warn him that his time is nearly up. He knows it. There is only one more task to make good. We hear of him at Mount Vernon, at Arlington, at Saratoga. Volume by volume the work comes forward. The public welcome it,--for they love the author, and they love the subject. Three volumes,--four volumes; and there are rumors that the old gentleman is failing. But whoever finds admission to that delightful home of Sunnyside meets the old smile, the old cheer. Seventy years have shaken the frame, but have not shaken the heartiness of the man. The jest leaps from his eye before his lip can clothe it, as it did twenty years before. There is a friendly pat for his little terrier, and a friendly word for his gardener, as in the old days.
The fifth volume is in progress; but there is a cough that distresses him sorely. He pushes on, however, through his task. The step is growing feebler and the cough more annoying. It is the year 1859, and the seventy-seventh of his age, when, upon a certain November evening, with one little sharp cry of pain, he falls upon his chamber-floor--dead.
* * * * *
There are men whose works we admire, but for whose lives we care nothing. Mr. Irving was not one of them. There is such a manly heartiness in him that we crave close contact: we cannot know him too well. Surely, this sympathy of readers, spontaneous, inevitable, will keep his name always green. There may come greater purists,--though they must con the language well; writers of more dramatic power we have now, possibly a quainter humor,--but one more tender, that puts us in such immediate sympathy with the author, hardly in our day, or in any day, shall we see again.
It is plain enough that Mr. Irving depended largely on his friendships,--that, unconsciously, his courage for meeting and conquering whatever of difficulty lay in his path was fed very much by the encouraging words of those he loved and respected. His were no brawny shoulders to push their way, no matter what points were galled by contact,--no self-asserting, irresistible press of purpose, which is careless of opinion. Throughout, we see in his kindly nature a longing for sympathy: if from those intellectually strong, so much the better; if from dear friends, better yet; if from casual acquaintances, still it is good and serviceable to him, and helps him to keep his poise.
He is a man, too, who clearly shuns controversy, who does not like to take blows or to give blows, and whose intellectual life and development find shape and color from this dread of the combative. Not that he is without a quiet power and exercise of satire,--not that follies which strike his attention do not get a thrust from his fine rapier; but they are such follies, for the most part, as everybody condemns. By reason of this quality in him, he avoids strongly controverted points in history; or, if his course lies over them, he gives a fairly adjusted average of opinion; he is not in mood for trenchant assertions of this or that belief. This same quality, again, makes him shun political life. He has a horror of its wordy wars, its flood of objurgation. Not that he is without opinions, calmly formed, and firmly held; but the entertainment of kindred belief he does not make the measure of his friendships. His character counted on the side of all charity, of forbearance, against harsh judgments; it was largely and Christianly catholic, as well in things political as literary. He never made haste to condemn.
There is a rashness in criminating this retirement from every-day political conflicts which is, to say the least, very short-sighted. Extreme radicalism spurns the comparative inactivity, and says, "Lo, a sluggard!" Extreme conservatism spurns it, and says, "Lo, a coward!" It is only too true that cowards and sluggards both may take shelter under a shield of indifference; but it is equally true that any reasonably acute mind, if only charitably disposed, can readily distinguish between an inactivity which springs from craven or sluggish propensity, and that other which belongs to constitutional temperament, and which, while passing calm and dispassionate judgment upon excesses of opinion of either party, contributes insensibly to moderate the violence of both.
But whatever may have been Mr. Irving's reluctance to ally himself intimately with political affairs, and to assume advocacy of special measures, it is certain that he never failed in open-hearted, outspoken utterance for the cause of virtue, of human liberty, and of his country. There were vulgar assailants, indeed, who alleged at one time that he had thoroughly denationalized himself by his long absences. The charge he always regarded as an affront, and met with scorn. There are those so grossly constituted as to measure a man's love of his own country by the sneers he flings at the country of others. It was not in Mr. Irving's nature to sneer at even an enemy; it was not his way of making conquest. He recognized fully the advantages of a foreign life (at his date) in following up that career of belles-lettres study which he had marked out for himself. The free _entrée_ of European libraries and galleries, and familiar association with a class of cultivated men of leisure, (in countries where such a class exists,) offered opportunity for refining his taste, for enlarging his stock of available material, and for stimulating his mental activity, of which he was not slow to perceive the value, and of which he has given ample account.
There is much that is interesting in the Life before us in regard to Mr. Irving's habit of work. He was, like most men of extreme sensitiveness, moody; at times his mind seemed all aglow; he wrote, on such occasions, with extraordinary rapidity, and with that cheery appreciation of his labor which to any author is an immense stimulant. But following upon these happy humors came seasons of wearisome depression; the stale manuscript of yesterday lost its charm; the fancy refused to be lighted; he has not the heart to hammer at the business with dull, lifeless blows, and flings down his pen in despair. There are successive months during which this mood hangs upon him like an incubus; then it passes suddenly, like a cloud, and the air (as at Seville) wooes him to his charmingest fancies.
We do not propose a critical estimate of the books of Mr. Irving. We have neither space nor present temper for this. The world has indorsed his great popularity with the heart, as much as with the brain. There are those who have objected that the last subject of his labor--the "Life of Washington"--was little suited to his imaginative tone of mind, and should have been worked up with a larger and more philosophic grasp of thought. It may well be that at some future time we shall have a more profound estimate of the relations which our great Leader held to his cause and to his time; but, however profound and just such a work may be, we feel quite safe in predicting that it will never supplant the graceful labor of Mr. Irving in the hearts of the American people. Precisely what was wanted Mr. Irving has given: such charming, faithful, truthful picture of the great hero of our Revolution as should carry knowledge of him, of the battles he fought, of his large, self-denying, unswerving patriotism, of the purity of his life, into every household. No man could have done this work better; nor do we think any other will ever do it as well.
And there is his "Sketch-Book,"--in blue and gold, in green and gold, in red and gold;--in what colors, and in what language, does it not appear? Yet the themes are of the simplest: a broken heart; a rural funeral; a Christmas among the hollies; an hour in the Abbey of Westminster: what is there new, or to care greatly for, in these things? Yet he touched them, and all the world are touched by them. Your critic says there is no serious insight, no deep probing; a pretty wind blows over,--that is all.
Yes, that is all; but how many are there who can set such sweet currents of wind aflow?
Only a bruised daisy, only a wounded hare, only Halloween,--and Burns, with all his fresh, healthy, hearty manhood, and only a peasant's pen, touches them in such way that his touch is making the nerves of men and women vibrate, where-ever our Saxon speech is uttered.
There is many a light thing that we cherish,--with which we will not easily part. That souvenir of some dear, dead one we do not value by its weight in gold; that sweet story of the Vicar we do not measure by its breadth of logic. And no American, no matter how late born he may be, but, if he wander in the Catskills, shall hear the rumble of the Dutch revellers at their bowling in the gorges of the mountains,--not one but shall read, and reading shall love, the story of Rip Van Winkle.
It was only a quiet old gentleman of six-and-seventy who was buried awhile ago from his home upon the Hudson: yet the village-shops were all closed; the streets, the houses, the station, were hung in black; thousands from the city thirty miles away thronged the high-road leading to the little church where prayers were to be said.
How shall we explain this? The author is dead, indeed, whose writings were admired by all; but there is something worthier to be said than this:--At the little church lay the body of the man whom all men loved.
Affairs went smoothly and noiselessly on for some three months. Mr. St. George had received the congratulations of the neighborhood, who, perceiving that Éloise still remained at The Rim, presumed all was satisfactory; and Éloise refused herself to all, the better by reason of her term of mourning. The slaves on the estate no longer infected others with the result of bad government; their association with the Blue-Bluffs people, a notoriously bad set, as well they might be, was broken up; they felt, though the reins hung freely and the burden was light, that there was a strong hand behind them that knew how to pull them up or put them in the dust, and they learned so much respect and even love for that hand as never to presume on the fact that it would not perhaps choose to exert its full power; work was well done; there was no further trespassing on other precincts; the world was in perfect order, so far as St. George's administration of it extended. He was, moreover, a man of distinction; serving, young as he was, four terms in Congress from a distant district, he was already spoken of again as the candidate of the immediate vicinity; his advice was sought in a hundred matters about which he knew nothing at all,--and always given, in spite of the last-mentioned circumstance; he had a careless, easy way of taking the life out of a man's mouth, so to speak, and disposing of it for that man's advantage as he himself pleased, so that the man felt under an infinite obligation; he had, too, an air with him of such superiority over the ills of life, such undoubted kingliness, that every one succumbed and rested gladly on so firm a precedent. Mr. St. George in this brief time had accepted much hospitality, had won a thousand friends, and by Christmas had made himself, through his genial strength to-day and his sardonic sarcasm to-morrow, as thoroughly the autocrat of all the region as ever Mr. Erne had been. For all that men want is a master; give them somebody that will lead, and glad enough are they to follow. But Mr. Erne's supremacy had merely been a matter of birth and of kindly feeling; Mr. St. George's was, first, because he choose to have it, and secondly, because nobody was able to refuse it. Marlboro's masterliness was quite another thing, affected no clusters of men, and was felt only by those whom he owned, body and soul.
In the mean time, the family seldom saw Mr. St. George, and when they did, he was so stately that they would have been quite willing to shut their eyes. They forgot, however, that, when you insist on being yourself an iceberg, you really cool the air about you. Once, indeed, or twice, there had been brief, but notable exceptions in his conduct.
A period of heavy rains had just elapsed, and Éloise, weary of confinement, had gone on the first clear day strolling round the place, as secure as in a drawing-room, since there was not one of her father's people but adored her.
"You are going out, Miss Changarnier?" Mr. St. George had remarked at the door; and, on being answered, he had added in a soliloquy, as if not deigning a second address for a second rebuff,--"It will be quite impossible to go far, for the freshet has swollen the brooks into rivers."
Éloise, however, took no notice of the information, and went on her way, strolled farther than she had intended, and forded a brook because Mr. St. George had said she could not. Then she sat down under a branching tree that dropped its leaves about her and into the brook, and began to read the "Romaunt of the Rose": at least, I fancy that was the book she had. While she remained, the brook swirling ever louder between the pauses, the sunset ran red in the sky and warned her to hasten home. But she disregarded the warning till purple shadows fell softly on the page, and stars and moon stole out to peer above her shoulder and see what it was that so entranced the maiden. Rising hurriedly, she moved away; and only when she had crossed two or three of the stepping-stones did she perceive, on looking down, that, while she had been reading, the water had risen above the next ones with a depth that the failing light forbade her to see. Standing there, and bending dizzily forward to guess the strength of the dark stream now so loudly and rapidly rushing by, there came a noise like a bursting water-spout; suddenly her waist was seized, and she was swept back to the shore. The next instant, with a seething sound, a great uprooted oak tore along the very spot on which she had stood.
"Seeking danger for the pleasure of escape?" said a cool voice in her ear, as her feet were planted on dry land. "A little excitement spices our still life so well!"
"Mr. St. George! how dare you?" cried Éloise, freeing herself.
"What would you have had me do? Should I have stood here, letting I dare not wait upon I would, like the cat i' the adage, while the oak caught and rushed you off to sea? Too big a broomstick for such a little witch!"
"You should not have been here at all, Sir!"
"There shall be thanks in all the churches, next Sunday, that I was."
"At least, Sir, I can spare further aid."
"Play Undine and the Knight on the island? It wouldn't be at all safe,--it wouldn't be proper, you know," said Mr. St. George, raising his eyebrows. "The dam that shuts up the irrigating waters broke an hour ago," added he, in the tone of another person. "I sent servants to find you, in every direction, and happened this way myself."
Éloise was a little sobered.
"I am much obliged to you, Sir," she said.
"So it seems," he replied, dryly. "I shall be forced to offend you again," he continued, "as further delay will render the stream entirely impassable."
And before she could utter a syllable of deprecation, she had swung a brief moment in the air, and was upon the other side, up which Mr. St. George, in his high seven-league boots, clambered so soon as he had set her down. Instead of venturing any new display of indignation, as St. George expected, Éloise walked on with him quietly a moment, and then, looking up, said,--
"You are very kind, and I am very ungracious."
Mr. St. George did not deny her assertion, only he glanced down at her from his height a second with an inexplicable expression, and immediately after the house became visible bowed low and left her.
"There's been such a tantrum, Miss," said the quadroon Hazel, combing out Éloise's hair that night, "and Massa St. George's horse waited two mortal hours to take him to Blue Bluffs. You ought to have heard him swear! He galloped off at last like mad."
And as Éloise gave no response, unless the cloud on her face spoke for her in the glass, the familiar girl added,--
"Not at you, Miss, not swearing at you,--oh, no, indeed!--but at all of us, to think we'd let you go alone."
"Mr. St. George is too solicitous. That will do, Hazel. Have you spoken to your master about buying Vane?"
"Laws, Miss, I never feels as if he was any master of mine, leastwise excep' one can't help minding him. 'S different from ole Massa,--we minded ole Massa for lub,--but I dunno if it's the music, when Massa St. George speaks, that makes you do what he says, when you just don't mean to,--as if you couldn't help it, and didn't want to help it?" suggested Hazel.
"Mr. St. George," said Éloise, "is very good to his people; they ought to wish to obey him."
"Yes, Miss. On'y he a'n't no business _here_."
"Don't let me hear you speak so again, Hazel," said Éloise, facing the suddenly cringing girl. "Now you can go."
But Hazel lingered still, over one and another odd trifle, and at length glancing up from where she stooped, with a scarlet on her young tawny cheek, she added, in a low voice,--
"You'll speak to Massa St. George now for me, won't you, Miss?"
"What? About Vane? You would do better yourself. Yes."
Two or three days passed away after this little promise to Hazel, before Éloise, at first forgetting it, and then dreading it, could gather courage to proceed in the negotiations for the handmaiden's suit. She was vaguely aware that she was the last person in the world whose past conduct harmonized with the asking of favors, and she silently offered slight propitiatory sacrifices. Yet she did this so haughtily, in order still not to compromise her own dignity, that they would quite as well have answered the purpose of belligerent signals.
It was one afternoon that Éloise sat at the drawing-room window, having recently finished her day's work, and letting herself linger now in a place which she very rarely so much as passed through. She sat erect, just then,--her head thrown far back, and the eyelids cast down along the pale face. Mr. St. George came into the room noiselessly, and laid down his riding-whip and gloves. Then he paused, struck by her appearance, and admired her motionless attitude for several minutes.
"One sits for Mnemosyne," he said then.
Éloise lifted her eyes, and a ghost of color flitted along her cheek. Here was a fortunate moment; the deity of it unbent and smiled. Her heart beat in her throat between the words of her thought; yet she recalled, for support, all the romances she had read, and their eloquent portraitures of love, and, remembering that just as Rebecca loved Ivanhoe, as Paolo loved Francesca, so Hazel and Vane loved each other, "I must! I must!" she kept saying chokingly to herself. Mr. St. George had taken up a book. How should she dare disturb him? At last a hesitating voice came sliding towards him,--
"Mr. St. George"----
"I beg your pardon,--did you speak?" he asked, closing his book.
"Mr. St. George, I want to ask you a favor," replied Éloise.
She rose, and unconsciously with such an air that he saw her effort, then came and sat on a lower seat directly before him.
"When papa, when my dear father was living," said she, "I had a maid, who was always mine, who grew up with me, being only a little younger, and I became attached to her"----
And before Éloise knew it she was lightly playing with Mr. St. George's riding-whip,--that being one of her warm traits just out of Nature, the appropriation of everything about her.
"And you have her no longer? That shall be attended to."
"Oh, yes, Sir, she waits on me still; that isn't it. She is only seventeen, she has been an atom wayward,--just, you know, as I might have been"----
Mr. St. George smiled so perceptibly that Éloise added, throwing back her head again,--
"Just as I _am_, Sir! But she has behaved very nicely for several----Why, this is Mrs. Arles's whip! the one her husband gave her. I knew it by the ivory vine-stem twining the ebony; and there are her initials in the lovely gold chasing. I used to want it to play with, when I was a little girl,--and she wouldn't let me have it, of course. Pretty initials!"
"Yes," said Mr. St. George, coldly.
Éloise put it down. And then she stared at him forgetfully, and, unthinkingly, with great disappointed eyes. Thereat Mr. St. George laughed.
"Don't Russian women present the knout to their bridegrooms?" asked Éloise then, mischievously.
But before he could have replied, she resumed,--
"Well, Sir, Hazel is very pretty"----
"It is Hazel, then? Would you like her to be made more distinctly yours, Miss Éloise?"
"Oh, dear, no, Sir, thank you. That isn't it at all. Hazel is in love."
"She is in love with Vane, a boy of Mr. Marlboro's: you may have seen him; he is here a good deal,--by stealth: and they want to be married. But Mr. Marlboro' is their terror, he may put an end to everything, and they are afraid, and--and--could you buy Vane, Mr. St. George?"
"I could, Miss Changarnier."
"And you will, then?" cried Éloise, springing up.
"If Mr. Marlboro' will sell him."
"It is a pride of the Marlboro's that there never was a hand sold off the place."
"Oh, I had forgotten. They would tell too shocking stories."
"Not here. Not unless they were sold off the Cuban plantation, where the vicious ones are transported."
"But perhaps he would give him to you."
"Miss Éloise, he would give him to _you_."
"Me? I have never seen him."
"That is of no consequence. He has seen you."
"I wonder where. Do you really suppose that Mr. Marlboro' would give Vane to me?"
"Miss Éloise, I will see what I can do about it first."
"How kind you are! Thank you!"
And Éloise was about to go.
"One moment, if you please," said the other.
And Mr. St. George remained in meditation. When he spoke, it was not in too assured a tone.
"I am quite aware," said he, "that you consider me in the light of an enemy. Perhaps it is a magnanimity that would be pleasant to you, should you in turn grant that enemy a favor."
"I should like to be able to serve you, Sir."
"Well, then,--I spoke very unwisely a few moments since,--promise me now, that, if Hazel and Vane do not marry till Doomsday, you will not ask Marlboro' for the gift. It places you, an unprotected girl, too much under the weather with such a man as Marlboro'. You promise me?"
And he rose opposite her, smiling and gazing.
"A whole promise is rash," said Éloise, laughing. "Half a one I give you."
"It is for yourself," said Mr. St. George, grimly; and he turned abruptly away, because he knew he lied, and was afraid lest she would know it too.
It was two or three weeks after this, that Mr. St. George, returning one chilly night from some journey, found Mrs. Arles asleep in her chair, a fire upon the hearth, and Éloise sitting on the floor before it with her box and brushes, essaying to catch the shifting play of color opposite her, and paint there one of the great cloven tongues of fire that went soaring up the chimney.
"In pursuit of an _ignis-fatuus_?" asked he, stooping over her an instant, and suddenly snatching himself erect, as she looked up with a certain sweetness in her smile, and pushed back the drooping tress, that, streaming along the temple and lying in one large curve upon the cheek, sometimes fell too low for order, though never for grace.
"And all in vain," she said, laughingly. "I've worked an hour, I can get the violet edges, I can get the changing bend,--but there 'a no lustre, no flicker,--I can't find out the secret of painting flame."
"It is a secret you found out long ago!" muttered Mr. St. George, unintelligibly, and strode out, banging the door behind him.
And Éloise, astonished and dismayed, abruptly put up her pencils, and went to bed.
So that, when Mr. St. George returned a half-hour afterward for a cheerful fireside-season over nuts and wine, there was nobody there but Mrs. Arles, who picked herself up out of her nap, and went placidly on with her tatting and contrivances.
Two stragglers on the ice-fields of the polar seas would have met each other with less frozen chill than St. George and Éloise did on the succeeding morning. And in that chill a long period elapsed, during which Mr. St. George attended to his affairs, and Éloise silently cast up her accounts.
* * * * *
One morning in the spring, after the last of the soft and balmy winter, Mr. St. George said to Mrs. Arles, at breakfast,--
"A dozen rooms, or more, can be ready by Wednesday? There will be guests at noon, for several weeks. That is the list. I rely on Miss Changarnier's assistance." And he handed her a paper, and went out.
"It will be useless for you to keep your room now," said Mrs. Arles to Éloise, on Wednesday morning. "It isn't like Mr. St. George's bachelor parties with Marlboro' and Montgomery and Mavoisie, when I like to see you keep to yourself as you do. These are all old friends."
"I shall still have my work to do," said Éloise; and she went into the cabinet and sharpened her pens with a _vim_.
It would doubtless have relieved Mr. St. George of much annoyance and perplexity, if Éloise would have assumed her old place in welcoming the guests; but that was not set down in her part, and Éloise rightly felt that it would be a preposterous thing for her to do. And though, when she heard their voices in the hall, she longed just to open the door and give one glance at Laura Murray sweeping by, or draw Lottie Humphreys in through the crack and indulge in one quick squeeze, she heroically bent herself upon the debit and credit beneath her eye, and tried to forget all about it,--succeeding only in remembering who had lived and who had died since the last time that hall had rung with their voices.
It was past noon when Éloise, having finished her task, and having remained for a long time with her arms upon the desk and her hands upon her eyes, suddenly glanced up and saw a gentleman entering the cabinet, where no gentleman but one was ever allowed to enter. He was in search of a book; and scanning the shelves, his eye fell on her.
He hesitated for a single atom of time, then stepped rapidly forward, and said,--
"Miss Changarnier, I am quite sure."
"Allow me," said quickly another voice at his shoulder, "to present to Miss Changarnier Mr. Marlboro'." For Mr. St. George had entered just in time.
Mr. Marlboro' was a slight man, hardly to be called tall. He wore black, of course, the coat fastened on the breast and letting out just a glimpse of ruffled linen and glancing jewel below, while the lofty brow, set in its fair curling hair, and the peaked beard curling and waving about the throat, gave him the appearance of a Vandyck stepped from the frame. He had the further peculiarity of eyes, dark hazel eyes, that would have glowed like fever, if they were not perpetually wrapped in dream. There was a certain air of careful breeding about him, different from Earl St. George Erne's high-bred bearing, inasmuch as he insisted upon his pedigree and St. George forgot his. Too fiery a Southerner to seek the advantages of Northern colleges, he had educated himself in England, and had contracted while at Oxford the habit of eating opium. Returning home at his majority, and remaining long enough to establish his own ideas, which were peculiarly despotic, upon his property,--through many subsequent travels, tasting in each an experience of all the folly and madness the great capitals of the world afford, through all his life, indeed, this habit was the only thing Marlboro' had not mastered. One other thing, albeit, there was, of which Marlboro' was the slave, and that was the Marlboro' temper.
Éloise returned his salutation cordially, and with a certain naughty pleasure, since Mr. St. George was looking on, and since that person, constituting himself her grim guardian, had in a manner warned her of the other. Then she displayed her pretty little ink-stained hands, and ran away.
Mr. Marlboro' looked after her, and then turned to survey St. George.
"Who would not be the Abélard to such an Éloise?" he said.
There was no answer. St. George was filling a pipe, and whistling the while a melancholy old tune.
"I'll tell you what, St. George"----
Here he paused, and thrummed on the book in time to the tune.
"You were about to impart some information?"
"Has your little nun taken the black veil?"
"It is no nun of my shriving."
"Are you King Ahasuerus himself, to have lived so long in the house with Miss Changarnier, may I ask, and to have thrown no handkerchief?"
"There is some confusion in your rhetoric. But it is not I who am tyrant,--it is she who stands for that;--I am only Mordecai the Jew sitting in the king's gate. As so many Jews do to-day," muttered St. George,--"ay, and on their thrones, too. I am afraid we are neither of us very well up in our Biblical history. She is the Grand Unapproachable."
"_Tant mieux._ My way is all the clearer."
"Your way to what?"
"To the altar!"
"Yes, you should have married long ago, Marlboro'," said Mr. St. George, the pipe being lighted, the face looming out of azure wreaths, and the heels taking an altitude.
"I came home," said Marlboro', "to marry Éloise Changarnier."
"That is exactly what I intend to do myself."
Mr. Marlboro's eyes glistened like a topaz in the sun; but just then a new guest arriving demanded Mr. St. George's attention.
Meantime Éloise had found a feminine conclave assembled in her room, all having prepared their own toilets, and ready to inspect the preparation of hers; and as the work proceeded, Lottie Humphreys added herself to the group, in grand _tenue_, and pushed Hazel aside, that she might bind up Éloise's already braided hair, and indulge herself in the interim with sundry fervent ejaculations.
"Isn't he splendid?" whispered Lottie, while Laura compared bracelets with Emma Houghton. "Oh, there, isn't he splendid? It's like the king coming down from his throne, when he speaks to you; it puts my heart in a flutter. How do you dare ask him to pass the butter? Now just tell _me_. Are you engaged to him? Tell me truly, only shake your head, yes or no. No? I don't believe a word you say. Mean to be? Then, I declare----Suppose now, only just suppose, suppose he'd look at me?"
"Oh, what a silly little goose you are, Lottie Humphreys! And you've put geraniums in my hair, when I meant to wear those beautiful blue poison-bells!"
"I never saw any one so dark as you are wear so much blue."
"But it's becoming to me, isn't it?" said Éloise, turning with her smile, as radiant for Lottie as for Marlboro'.
"St. George," said Marlboro', with a beaming face bent over his shoulder, as he took Éloise out to dinner, "my intention was the earlier; it will succeed!"
"As being the eldest born and heir to the succession. Does the good general expose his campaign?"
"There we are quits. It is precisely as a good general that I exposed it."
"But did the Levites unveil the sacred ark?" said Mr. St. George, severely.
"We are talking freemasonry, Miss Changarnier," said Marlboro', and they moved on.
* * * * *
Whether she would or not, Éloise found herself in exactly the same position in the house as before her adopted father's death,--partly because almost all the company, being old friends, recognized no difference, partly because Mr. St. George silently chose it should be so. She soon forgot herself entirely in the pleasure of it, and was unconsciously, even towards Mr. St. George, so sweet and genial, so blithe and bewitching, that his scanning glance would suddenly have to fall, since an expression, he felt, entered it that he dared not have her see. There was always a certain disarray about the costume of Éloise; one tress of her hair was always drooping too low, or one thrust back behind the beautiful temple and tiny ear, or a bracelet was half undone, or a mantle dropping off,--trifles that only gave one the desire to help her; she constantly wore, too, a scarf or shawl, or something of the kind, and the drapery lent her a kind of tender womanliness, which only such things do; then, too, she garnished her hair with flowers always half falling away, somewhat faded with the warmth, and emitting strong, rich fragrances in dying. When she laughed, and the brilliant little teeth sparkled a contrast with the dark smooth skin, when she thought, and her eyes glowed like tear-washed stars, Mr. St. George was wont to turn abruptly away from the vision, unwilling to be so controlled. But of that Éloise never dreamed.
As for Marlboro', on the other hand, he was the moth in the candle. Of Mr. Marlboro's devotion Éloise was quite aware,--and whereas, playing with it the least bit in the world, she had at first enjoyed it, it grew to irk her sadly; she used to beg her friends, in all manner of pretty ways, to take him off her hands, and would resort from her own rooms to theirs, assisting at their awful rites, and endeavoring to get them up as charmingly as possible, that they might lure away her trouble. It was in vain that Marlboro' tried to reopen the subject of their mute warfare with St. George. St. George would not condescend, neither would he sully Éloise's name by bandying it about with another lover. If Marlboro' begged him to toss up for chances, St. George answered that he never threw up a chance; when he went further and offered to stake success or loss, St. George told him he had cast his last die; when he would have spoken her name to him directly, St. George withered him with flamy eyes, and let his manner become too rigid for one to dare more with him. But the ladies had already caught the spirit of the thing, and made little situations of it among themselves. Then when St. George became impregnable to his attacks, Marlboro' pulled his blonde moustache savagely, and grew sullen, and fortunately Éloise did not try to dispel the cloud. Nevertheless, Marlboro' fancied that he perceived victory hovering nearer to St. George than himself, and a rivalry begun in good-humor was likely to take a different cast. In his pique, Marlboro' bade his host farewell, and returned to Blue Bluffs; but it was idle riding, for every day found him again at The Rim, like the old riddle,--
"All saddled, all bridled, all fit for a fight,"
and constant as the magnet to its poles.
It was still the steps of Éloise that Marlboro' haunted. Yesterday, he brought songs to teach her, and among them the chant to which long ago they had once listened together in the old Norman cathedral; to-morrow, he would show her a singular deposit on the beach, of rare silvery shells underflushed with rose, kept there over a tide for her eyes; to-day, he treated her to politics condensed into a single phrase whose essence told all his philosophy:--"The great error in government," he said, "is also inversely the great want in marriage: in government, individuality should be supreme; in marriage, lost. In government, this error is a triple-headed monster: centralization, consolidation, union."
Mr. St. George heard him, and paused a moment before them, one evening, as Marlboro' thus harangued Éloise.
"Consolidation? Centralization?" said he. "The very things we all oppose."
"Nullification is a good solvent."
"A ghost that is laid. There's a redder phantom than that on the horizon, man!"
"What are you talking about, politics or marriage?"
"God forbid that I should soil a lady's ears with the first!" said Mr. St. George, bowing to Éloise; "and as to the last,--I'll none of it!"
And after Mr. Marlboro' had gone that night, as Éloise was about to ascend to her own rooms, Mr. St. George came along again, and, lightly taking the candle, held up the tiny flame before her face.
"What has that _contrabandista_ been saying to you?" demanded Mr. St. George.
Éloise looked ignorantly up.
"Gilding hell? Do not believe him! Never believe anything any one says, when you know he is in love with you! Slavery is a curse! a curse that we inherit for the sins of those drunken Cavaliers, our forefathers! Let us make the best of it!"
"Ah, Mr. St. George," said she, gayly, "this from you, for whom the disciples claim Calhoun's mantle? For what, then, do you contend?"
"For the right of being a free man myself! for the right of enduring the dictation of no man in Maine or Louisiana! for the right to do as I have the mind!" exclaimed Mr. St. George, in a ponderous and suppressed under-voice that rang through her head half-way up-stairs.
Long before, Mr. St. George had very courteously begged Éloise to take a vacation during the stay of their friends, but she had so peremptorily and utterly refused to do so that it ended by his spending the long morning with her in the cabinet, either over certain neglected arrears, or while she wrote letters under his royal dictation, and Hazel sewed a laborious seam between them, as always. Here, at length, after sufficient tantalization by its means, Marlboro' venturously intruded himself every day. Too familiar for interruption, he took another seat, and watched her swift hand's graceful progress. If her pen delayed, she found another awaiting her,--her posture wearied, a footstool was rolled towards her feet,--her side cramped, behold, a cushion,--she looked for fresh paper, it fell before her: all somewhat slavish service, and which Hazel could have rendered as well. Used to slaves, would she have preferred a master? Whether Miss Changarnier relished these abject kindnesses better than Mr. St. George's imperious exactions was precisely the thing that puzzled the two gentlemen.
Meanwhile, during all this gay season, if Éloise had thought of once looking about her, which she never did, she would have seen, that, in whatever group she was, there, too, was Mr. St. George,--that, if they rode three abreast down the great park-avenues, though she laughed with Evan Murray, it was to Mr. St. George's horse that her bridle was secured,--and that, when she sang, it was St. George who jested and smiled and lightly talked the while,--not that her music was not sweet, but that its spell was too strong for him to endure beneath his mask. Yet Éloise drew no deductions; if at first she noticed that it was he who laid the shawl on her shoulders, if she remembered, that, when he fastened her dropping bracelet, biting his lip and looking down, he held the wrist an instant with a clasp that left its whitened pressure there, she remembered, too, that he never spoke to her, were it avoidable, that he failed in small politenesses of the footstool or the fan, and that, if once he had looked at her in an instant's intentness of singular expression, and let a smile well up and flood his eyes and lips and face, in a heart-beat it had faded, and he was standing with folded arms and looking sternly away beyond her, while she caught herself still sitting there and bending forward and smiling up at him like a flower beneath the sun;--to atone for her remissness, she was frowning and cool and curt to Earl St. George for days.
* * * * *
It was about this time, that, one night, when Hazel passed the tea, Éloise's eye, wandering a moment, suddenly woke from a little apathy and observed that there was no widow's cap on Mrs. Arles's hair, that it had refined away through various shades of lace till at last even the delicate cobweb on the back of the head was gone and the glossy locks lay bare, that the sables had become simply black gauze over a steely shine of silk, that the little Andalusian foot lay relieved on a white embroidered cushion, that its owner was glancing up and smiling at a gentleman who bent above her, and that that gentleman was Mr. St. George. When this change had taken place, and whether it had been abrupt or gradual, her careless eye could not tell; and, forgetting her own part momentarily in order to take in the whole of the drama in which they were all acting, Éloise spilled her tea and made some work for Hazel. As the girl rectified her mishap, it flashed on Éloise that she had done nothing more about her suit; she noticed, too, how pale Hazel was, and how subdued and still in all her movements; she remembered that probably Vane had found it impossible to see her and to elude his ever-present master; and she thereupon availed herself of his first disengaged moment to stand at Mr. St. George's side, and ask him if he had ever thought again of a request she had once made him.
"I was thinking of it at this moment," he replied, looking at her with something like sunshine suffusing the brown depth of his eyes; "but the truth is, I am not on such terms with Marlboro' that I may demand a favor."
"Then _I_ shall."
"On your peril!" he cried, with hasty rigor.
But Éloise escaped, trailing one end of her scarf behind, looking back at him, laughing, and shaking her threatening fan as he stepped after her. And then Mr. St. George resumed his haughty silence.
Éloise went down the hall after Hazel. She found her in the empty dining-room, having just set down the salver; the last light, that, stealing in, illumined all the paintings of clusters of fruit and bunches of flowers upon the white panelling, had yet a little ray to spare for the girl where she crouched with her sobs, her apron flung above her head; and when Éloise laid her hand gently on her shoulder, she sprang as if one had struck her.
"Oh, Miss 'Loise! Miss 'Loise! I'm in such trouble!" she gasped.
It did not take long for the little story to find the air. Vane and Hazel, secure of Éloise's efforts, had married. It was one of the immutable Blue Bluffs laws that they had broken: there were no marriages allowed off the place there. Vane was expiating his offence no one knew where, and there were even rumors that he had already been sent away to the Cuban plantation of the Marlboro's, whither all refractory slaves were wont to journey.
Éloise went slowly back to the drawing-room, then out upon the piazza, and with her went that bending grace that accompanied her least motion, and always reminded you of a flower swaying on its stem. Mr. Marlboro' leaned there, listening to Miss Murray's singing within. Éloise went and took her place beside him, while his face brightened. He had been eating opium again, and his eyes were full of dreams. From where they stood upon the piazza they could see the creek winding, a strip of silvery redness, along the coast, and far in the distance where it met the sea, a film upon the sky, rose the dim castellated height of Blue Bluffs, like an azure mist.
"There is something there that I want," said Éloise, archly, looking at the Bluffs.
"There? you shall not wish twice."
Then Hazel approaching, as by signal, offered Mr. Marlboro' a cup, which he declined without gesture or glance, while there gleamed in her eye a subtle look that told how easy it would have been to brew poison for this man who had such an ungodly power over her fate.
"That is my little maid," said Éloise. "I have lent her to Mrs. Arles awhile, though. Is she not pretty,--Hazel?"
"That is Hazel, then? A very witch-hazel!"
"And you want Vane?"
"Yes, Mr. Marlboro'."
"I did not know she was your maid. But the offence of Vane, if overlooked, would be a breach of discipline entailing too hazardous effects. Authority should never relax. What creeps through the iron fingers once can creep again. The gentle dews distilling through the pores of the granite congeal in the first frost and rend the rock. I would have difficulty, Miss Éloise, in pardoning such an offence to you, yourself. Ah, yes, that would be impossible, by Heaven!"
Éloise laughed in her charming way, and said,--
"But, Mr. Marlboro', would it not be an admirable lesson to your people, if Vane were sold?"
"A lesson to teach them all to go and do likewise, eh, Marlboro'?" said St. George, passing, with Miss Humphreys on his arm.
"I have never sold, I never sell, a slave," replied Marlboro', in his placid tone; but St. George was out of hearing. "Yet, Miss Éloise,--if--if you will accept him"----
"Mr. Marlboro'! Indeed? Truly indeed? How happy you make me!"
"And you can make me as happy,--happier, by the infinity of heaven over earth!"
"But ought I to accept such a gift?" asked Éloise, oblivious of his last speech. "But can I?--may I?"--as St. George's warning stole into her memory.
"Most certainly you can! most certainly you shall! he is yours!" And before Éloise could pour forth one of her multitudinous thanks, he had moved away.
Marlboro's, however, was not that noble nature that spurns to beg at the moment when it grants. Directly, he had wheeled about, and with an eager air was again beside her.
"And, Éloise," he said, "if in response I might have one smile, one hope"----
Thoughtlessly enough, Éloise turned her smiling face upon him, and gave him her hand.
"And you give it to me at last, this hand, to crown my life!" he said,--for to his excited brain the trifling deed seemed the weighty event, and when he looked up Éloise still was smiling. Only for a second, though, for her processes of thought were not instantaneous, while to him it was one of Mahomet's moments holding an eternity, and she smiled while she was thinking, thinking simply of her little handmaiden's pleasure. She tried to release her hand. But Mr. Marlboro' did not know that his grasp upon it was that of a vice, for under an artificial stimulus every action is as intense as the fired fancy itself. And as she found it impossible to free it without visible violence, other thoughts visited Éloise. Why should she not give it to him? Who else cared for it? What object had her lonely life? Speak sweetly as they might, what one of her old gallants forgot her loss of wealth? Here was a man to make happy, here was a heart to rest upon, here was a slave of his own passions to set free. Why should she continue to live with Mr. St. George for her haughty master, when here was this man at her feet? Why, but that suddenly the conviction smote her that she loved the one and despised the other, that she adored the master and despised the slave? And she snatched away her hand.
Just then Mr. St. George was coming down the piazza again, on his promenade, his head bent low as he spoke to the clinging little lady on his arm. Passing Éloise, as he raised his face, their eyes met. She was doing, he thought, the very thing that he had disadvised, and, as if to warn her afresh, he looked long, a derisive smile curling his proud lip. That was enough. "He knows it!" exclaimed Éloise to herself. "He believes it! He thinks I love him! He never shall be sure of it!" And turning once more, her face hung down and away, she laid her hand in Marlboro's, without a word or a glance. He bent low over it in the shadow, pressing it with his fervent lips, murmuring, "Mine! mine at last! my own!" And St. George saw the whole.
Just then a little sail crept in sight from where they stood, winding down the creek at the foot of the lawn.
"Oh, how delightful to be on the water to-night!" cried Laura Murray.
"You have but to command," said Mr. St. George, with a certain gayety that seemed struck out like sparks against the flinty fact of the late occurrence,--and half the party trooped down the turf to the shore. The boats were afloat and laden before one knew it. Mr. Marlboro' and Éloise were just one instant too late. Laura Murray shook a triumphant handkerchief at them, and St. George feathered his oar, pausing a moment as if he would return, and then gave a great sweep and his boat fairly leaped over the water.
Mr. Marlboro' did not hesitate. There was the sail they had first seen, now on the point of being lowered beneath the alder-bushes by the young hunters who had sought shore for the night. Gold slipped from one hand to another, a word, a name, and a promise. Éloise was on board, expecting Mrs. Arles and Mrs. Houghton to follow. Marlboro' sprang upon the end, and drew in the rope behind him, waving the other ladies a farewell; the sails were stretched again, the rudder shipped, and wing and wing they went skimming down the channel, past the little fleet of wherries, ploughing the shallow current into foam and spray on their wild career.
"Marlboro' is mad!" said St. George, with a whitening cheek.
Marlboro', standing up, one arm about the mast, and catching the slant beam of the late-rising moon on his face, that shone awfully rapt and intent, saluted them with an ironical cheer, and dashed on. Éloise held the tiller for the moment, still pulsating with her late emotions, not above a trifling play of vanity, welcoming the exhilaration of a race, where she might half forget her trouble, and pleased with a vague anticipation of some intervention that might recall the word which even in these five dragging moments had already begun to corrode and eat into her heart like a rusting fetter. The oarsmen in the wherries bent their muscles to the strife, the boats danced over the tiny crests, the ladies sang their breeziest sea-songs to cheer them at the work. The sail-boat rounded a curve and was almost out of sight.
"Oars never caught sails yet," muttered St. George, and he put his boat to the shore. "There, Murray, try your lazy mettle, and take my oar. As for me, I'm off,"--and he sprang upon the bank, sending the boat spinning off into the current again from his foot. In ten minutes a horseman went galloping by on the high-road skirting the shore, with a pace like that of the Spectre of the Storm.
"Now, Mr. Marlboro'," said Éloise, "shall we not turn back, victorious?"
"Turn?" said Marlboro', shaking loose another fold of the linen. "I never turn! Look your last on the tiny tribe,--we shall see them no more!"
Éloise sprang to her feet. He caught her hand and replaced her; his face was so white that it shone, there was a wild glitter in his eye, and the smile that brooded over her had something in it absolutely terrific.
"We have gone far enough," said Éloise, resolutely. "I wish to rejoin my friends."
"You are with me!" said Marlboro', proudly.
She was afraid to say another word, for to oppose him now in his exultant rage might only work the mood to frenzy. The creek had widened almost to a river,--the sea was close at hand, with its great tumbling surf. She looked at the horizon and the hill for help, but none came; destruction was before them, and on they flew.
Marlboro' stood now, and steadied the tiller with his foot.
"This is motion!" said he. "We fly upon the wings of the wind! The viewless wind comes roaring out of the black region of the East, it fills the high heaven, it roars on to the uttermost undulation of the atmosphere, and we are a part of it! We are only a mote upon its breath, a dust-atom driven before it, Éloise,--and yet one great happiness is greater than it, drowns it in a vaster flood of viewless power, can whisper to it calm!"
How should Éloise contradict him? With such rude awakening, he might only snatch her in his arms and plunge down to death. Perhaps he half divined the fear.
"Yes, Éloise," he said. "They are both here, life and death, at our beck! I can take you to my heart, one instant the tides divide, then they close above us, and you are mine for ever and ever and only,--sealed mine beneath all this crystal sphere of the waters! We hear the gentle lapping of the ripples on the shore, we hear the tones of evening-bells swim out and melt above us, we hear the oar shake off its shower of tinkling drops,--up the jewel-strewn deeps of heaven the planets hang out their golden lamps to light our slumbers! Heart to heart and lip to lip, we are at rest, we are at peace, nothing comes between us, our souls have the eternities in which to mingle!"
He saw Éloise shudder, and turned from his dream, blazing full upon her. "Life, then, is best!" he cried. "But life together and alone, life where we count out its throbs in some far purple island of the main, prolonged who knows how far?--love shall make for us perpetual youth, there shall no gloom enter our Eden, perfect solitude and perfect bliss! Alone, we two in our pride and our joy can defy the powers of any other heaven, we shall become gods ourselves! Up helm and away! Life is best!"
I walk, as in a dream, Beside the sweeping stream, Wrapped in the summer midnight's amber haze: Serene the temples stand, And sleep, on either hand, The palace-fronts along the granite quays.
Where golden domes, remote, Above the sea-mist float, The river-arms, dividing, hurry forth; And Peter's fortress-spire, A slender lance of fire, Still sparkles back the splendor of the North.
The pillared angel soars Above the silent shores; Dark from his rock the horseman hangs in air; And down the watery line The exiled Sphinxes pine For Karnak's morning in the mellow glare.
I hear, amid the hush, The restless current's rush, The Neva murmuring through his crystal zone: A voice portentous, deep, To charm a monarch's sleep With dreams of power resistless as his own.
Strong from the stormy Lake, Pure from the springs that break In Valdaï vales the forest's mossy floor, Greener than beryl-stone From fir woods vast and lone, In one full stream the braided currents pour.
"Build up your granite piles Around my trembling isles," I hear the River's scornful Genius say: "Raise for eternal time Your palaces sublime, And flash your golden turrets in the day!
"But in my waters cold A mystery I hold,-- Of empires and of dynasties the fate: I bend my haughty will, Unchanged, unconquered still, And smile to note your triumph: mine can wait.
"Your fetters I allow, As a strong man may bow His sportive neck to meet a child's command, And curb the conscious power That in one awful hour Could whelm your halls and temples where they stand.
"When infant Rurik first His Norseland mother nursed, My willing flood the future chieftain bore: To Alexander's fame I lent my ancient name, What time my waves ran red with Pagan gore.
"Then Peter came. I laughed To feel his little craft Borne on my bosom round the marshy isles: His daring dream to aid, My chafing floods I laid, And saw my shores transfixed with arrowy piles.
"I wait the far-off day When other dreams shall sway The House of Empire builded by my side,-- Dreams that already soar From yonder palace-door, And cast their wavering colors on my tide,--
"Dreams where white temples rise Below the purple skies, By waters blue, which winter never frets,-- Where trees of dusky green From terraced gardens lean, And shoot on high the reedy minarets.
"Shadows of mountain-peaks Vex my unshadowed creeks; Dark woods o'erhang my silvery birchen bowers; And islands, bald and high, Break my clear round of sky, And ghostly odors blow from distant flowers.
"Then, ere the cold winds chase These visions from my face, I see the starry phantom of a crown, Beside whose blazing gold This cheating pomp is cold, A moment hover, as the veil drops down.
"Build on! That day shall see My streams forever free. Swift as the wind, and silent as the snow, The frost shall split each wall: Your domes shall crack and fall: My bolts of ice shall strike your barriers low!"
On palace, temple, spire, The morn's descending fire In thousand sparkles o'er the city fell: Life's rising murmur drowned The Neva where he wound Between his isles: he keeps his secret well.
In the whole of London there is not a dirtier, narrower, and more disreputable thoroughfare than Wych Street. It runs from that lowest part of Drury Lane where Nell Gwyn once had her lodgings, and stood at her door in very primitive costume to see the milkmaids go a-Maying, and parallel to Holywell Street and the Strand, into the church-yard of St. Clements Danes. No good, it was long supposed, could ever come out of Wych Street. The place had borne an evil name for centuries. Up a horrible little court branching northward from it good old George Cruikshank once showed me the house where Jack Sheppard, the robber and prison-breaker, served his apprenticeship to Mr. Wood, the carpenter; and on a beam in the loft of this house Jack is said to have carved his name. When the pavement of the Strand is under repair, Wych Street becomes, perforce, the principal channel of communication between the east and the west end; and Theodore Hook used to say that he never passed through Wych Street in a hackney-coach without being blocked up by a hearse and a coal-wagon in the van, and a mud-cart and the Lord Mayor's carriage in the rear. Wych Street is among the highways we English are ashamed to show to foreigners. We have threatened to pull it down bodily, any time these two hundred years, and a portion of the southern side, on which the old Lyons Inn abutted, has indeed been razed, preparatory to the erection of a grand metropolitan hotel on the American system; but the funds appear not to be forthcoming; the scheme languishes; and, on the other side of the street, another legal hostelry, New Inn, still flourishes in weedy dampness, immovable in the strength of vested interests. Many more years must, I am afraid, elapse before we get rid of Wych Street. It is full of quaint old Tudor houses, with tall gables, carved porches, and lattice-casements; but the picturesque appearance of these tenements compensates but ill for their being mainly dens of vice and depravity, inhabited by the vilest offscourings of the enormous city. Next to _Napoli senza sole_, Wych Street, Drury Lane, is, morally and physically, about the shadiest street I know.
In Wych Street stands, nevertheless, an oasis in the midst of a desert, a pretty and commodious little theatre, called the Olympic. The entertainments here provided have earned, for brilliance and elegance, so well-deserved a repute, that the Olympic Theatre has become one of the most favorite resorts of the British aristocracy. The Brahminical classes appear oblivious of the yellow streak of caste, when they come hither. On four or five nights in every week during the season, Drury Lane is rendered well-nigh impassable by splendid equipages which have conveyed dukes and marquises and members of Parliament to the Olympic. Frequently, but prior to the lamented death of Prince Albert, you might observe, if you passed through Wych Street in the forenoon, a little platform, covered with faded red cloth, and shaded by a dingy, striped awning, extending from one of the entrance-doors of the Olympic to the edge of the sidewalk. The initiated became at once aware that Her Most Gracious Majesty intended to visit the Olympic Theatre that very evening. The Queen of England goes to theatres no more; but the Prince of Wales and his pretty young wife, the stout, good-tempered Duke of Cambridge, and his sister, the bonny Princess Mary, are still constant visitors to Wych Street. So gorgeous is often the assemblage in this murkiest of streets, that you are reminded of the days when the French _noblesse_, in all the pride of hoops and hair-powder, deigned to flock to the lowly wine-shop of Ramponneau.
My business, however, is less with the Olympic Theatre, as it at present exists, than with its immediate predecessor. About fifteen years ago, there stood in Wych Street a queer, low-browed little building with a rough wooden portico before it,--not unlike such a portico as I have recently seen in front of a dilapidated inn at Culpepper, Virginia,--and with little blinking windows, very much resembling the port-holes of a man-of-war. According to tradition, the place had, indeed, a kind of naval origin. Old King George III., who, when he was not mad, or meddling with politics, was really a good-natured kind of man, once made Philip Astley, the riding-master, and proprietor of the circus in South Lambeth, a present of a dismantled seventy-four gun-ship captured from the French. With these timbers, some lath and plaster, a few bricks, and a little money, Astley ran up a theatre dedicated to the performance of interludes and _burlettas_,--that is, of pieces in which the dialogue was not spoken, but sung, in order to avoid interference with the patent-rights of Drury Lane and Covent Garden. In our days, this edifice was known as the Olympic. When I knew this theatre first, it had fallen into a state of seemingly hopeless decadence. Nobody succeeded there. To lease the Olympic Theatre was to court bankruptcy and invite collapse. The charming Vestris had been its tenant for a while. There Liston and Wrench had delighted the town with their most excellent fooling. There many of Planche's most sparkling burlesques had been produced. There a perfect boudoir of a green-room had been fitted up by Bartolozzi's beautiful and witty daughter; and there Hook and Jerrold, Haynes Bayley and A' Beckett had uttered their wittiest sayings. But the destiny of the Olympic was indomitable. There was nae luck about the house; and Eliza Vestris went bankrupt at last. Management after management tried its fortunes in the doomed little house, but without success. Desperate adventurers seized upon it as a last resource, or chose it as a place wherein to consummate their ruin. The Olympic was contiguous to the Insolvent Debtors' Court, in Portugal Street, and from the paint-pots of the Olympic scene-room to the whitewash of the commercial tribunal there was but one step.
It must have been in 1848 that the famous comedian, William Farren, having realized a handsome fortune as an actor, essayed to lose a considerable portion of his wealth by becoming a manager. He succeeded in the last-named enterprise quite as completely as he had done in the other: I mean, that he lost a large sum of money in the Olympic Theatre. He played all kinds of pieces: among others, he gave the public two very humorous burlesques, founded on Shakspeare's plays of "Macbeth" and "The Merchant of Venice." The authors were two clever young Oxford men: Frank Talfourd, the son of the poet-Judge,--father and son are, alas! both dead,--and William Hale, the son of the well-known Archdeacon and Master of the Charter-House. Shakspearian burlesques were no novelty to the town. We had had enough and to spare of them. W. J. Hammond, the original _Sam Weller_ in the dramatized version of "Pickwick," had made people laugh in "Macbeth Travestie" and "Othello according to Act of Parliament." The Olympic burlesques were slightly funnier, and not nearly so coarse as their forerunners; but they were still of no striking salience. Poorly mounted, feebly played,--save in one particular,--they drew but thin houses. Gradually, however, you began to hear at clubs and in critical coteries--at the Albion and the Garrick and the Café de l'Europe, at Evans's and at Kilpack's, at the Réunion in Maiden Lane and at Rules's oyster-room, where poor Albert Smith used to reign supreme--rumors about a new actor. The new man was playing _Macbeth_ and _Shylock_ in Talfourd and Hale's parodies. He was a little stunted fellow, not very well-favored, not very young. Nobody--among the bodies who were anybody--had ever heard of him before. Whence he came, or what he was, none knew; but everybody came at last to care. For this little stunted creature, with his hoarse voice and nervous gestures and grotesque delivery, his snarls, his leers, his hunchings of the shoulders, his contortions of the limbs, his gleaming of the eyes, and his grindings of the teeth, was a genius. He became town-talk. He speedily grew famous. He has been an English, I might almost say a European, I might almost say a worldwide celebrity ever since; and his name was FREDERICK ROBSON.
Eventually it was known, when the town grew inquisitive, and the critics were compelled to ferret out his antecedents, that the new actor had already attained middle age,--that he had been vegetating for years in that obscurest and most miserable of all dramatic positions, the low comedian of a country-theatre,--that he had come timidly to London and accepted at a low salary the post of buffoon at a half-theatre half-saloon in the City Road, called indifferently the "Grecian" and the "Eagle," where he had danced and tumbled, and sung comic songs, and delivered the dismal waggeries set down for him, without any marked success, and almost without notice. He was a quiet, unassuming little man, this Robson, seemingly without vanity and without ambition. He had a wife and family to maintain, and drew his twenty-five or thirty shillings weekly with perfect patience and resignation.
A weary period, however, elapsed between his appearance at the Olympic and his realization of financial success. The critics and the connoisseurs talked about him a long time before the public could be persuaded to go and see him, or the manager to raise his salary. That doomed house with the wooden portico was in the way. At last the wretched remnant of the French seventy-four caught fire and was burned to the ground. Its ill-luck was consistent to the last. A poor actor, named Bender, had engaged the Olympic for a benefit. He was to pay twenty pounds for the use of the house. He had just sold nineteen pounds' worth of tickets, and trusted to the casual receipts at the door for his profits. At a few minutes before six o'clock, having to play in the first piece, he proceeded to the theatre, and entered his dressing-room. By half-past six the whole house was in a blaze. Bender, half undressed, had only time to save himself; and his coat, with the nineteen pounds in the pocket, fell a prey to the flames. After this, will you tell me that there is not such a thing as ill-luck?
The Olympic arose "like a phoenix from its ashes." To use language less poetical, a wealthy tradesman--a cheesemonger, I think--found the capital to build up a new theatre. The second edifice was elegant, and almost splendid; but in the commencement it seemed fated to undergo as evil fortune as its precursor. I cannot exactly remember whether it was in the old or the new Olympic--but I think it was in the new one--that the notorious Walter Watts ran a brief and sumptuous career as manager. He produced many pieces, some of them his own, in a most luxurious manner. He was a man about town, a _viveur_, a dandy; and it turned out one morning that Walter Watts had been, all along, a clerk in the Globe Insurance Office, at a salary of a hundred and fifty pounds a year; and that he had swindled his employers out of enormous sums of money. He was tried, nominally for stealing "a piece of paper, value one penny," being a check which he had abstracted; but it was understood that his defalcations were little short of ninety thousand pounds sterling. Watts was convicted, and sentenced to ten years' transportation. The poor wretch was not of the heroically villanous mould in which the dashing criminals who came after him, Robson and Redpath, were cast. He was troubled with a conscience. He had drunk himself into delirium tremens; and starting from his pallet one night in a remorseful frenzy, he hanged himself in the jail.
It was during the management of Alfred Wigan at the New Olympic that Frederick Robson began to be heard of again. An old, and not a very clever farce, by one of the Brothers Mayhew, entitled "The Wandering Minstrel," had been revived. In this farce, Robson was engaged to play the part of _Jem Baggs_, an itinerant vocalist and flageolet-player, who, in tattered attire, roams about from town to town, making the air hideous with his performances. The part was a paltry one, and Robson, who had been engaged mainly at the instance of the manager's wife, a very shrewd and appreciative lady, who persisted in declaring that the ex-low-comedian of the Grecian had "something in him," eked it out by singing an absurd ditty called "Vilikins and his Dinah." The words and the air of "Vilikins" were, if not literally as old as the hills, considerably older than the age of Queen Elizabeth. The story told in the ballad, of a father's cruelty, a daughter's anguish, a sweetheart's despair, and the ultimate suicide of both the lovers, is, albeit couched in uncouth and grotesque language, as pathetic as the tragedy of "Romeo and Juliet." Robson gave every stanza a nonsensical refrain of "Right tooral lol looral, right tooral lol lay." At times, when his audience was convulsed with merriment, he would come to a halt, and gravely observe, "This is not a comic song"; but London, was soon unanimous that such exquisite comicality had not been heard for many a long year. "Vilikins and his Dinah" created a _furore_. My countrymen are always going mad about something; and Englishmen and Englishwomen all agreed to go crazy about "Vilikins." "Right tooral lol looral" was on every lip. Robson's portrait as _Jem Baggs_ was in every shop-window. A newspaper began an editorial with the first line in "Vilikins,"--
"It's of a liquor-merchant who in London did dwell."
A Judge of Assize absolutely fined the High Sheriff of a county one hundred pounds for the mingled contempt shown in neglecting to provide him with an escort of javelin-men and introducing the irrepressible "Right tooral lol looral" into a speech delivered at the opening of circuit. Nor was the song all that was wonderful in _Jem Baggs_. His "make-up" was superb. The comic genius of Robson asserted itself in an inimitable lagging gait, an unequalled snivel, a coat and pantaloons every patch on and every rent in which were artistic, and a hat inconceivably battered, crunched, and bulged out of normal, and into preternatural shape.
New triumphs awaited him. In the burlesque of "The Yellow Dwarf," he showed a mastery of the grotesque which approached the terrible. Years before, in _Macbeth_, he had personated a red-headed, fire-eating, whiskey-drinking Scotchman,--and in _Shylock_, a servile, fawning, obsequious, yet, when emergency arose, a passionate and vindictive Jew. In the _Yellow Dwarf_ he was the jaundiced embodiment of a spirit of Oriental evil: crafty, malevolent, greedy, insatiate,--full of mockery, mimicry, lubricity, and spite,--an Afrit, a Djinn, a Ghoul, a spawn of Sheitan. How that monstrous orange-tawny head grinned and wagged! How those flaps of ears were projected forwards, like unto those of a dog! How balefully those atrabilious eyes glistened! You laughed, and yet you shuddered. He spoke in mere doggerel and slang. He sang trumpery songs to negro melodies. He danced the Lancashire clog-hornpipe; he rattled out puns and conundrums; yet did he contrive to infuse into all this mummery and buffoonery, into this salmagundi of the incongruous and the _outré_, an unmistakably tragic element,--an element of depth and strength and passion, and almost of sublimity. The mountebank became inspired. The Jack Pudding suddenly drew the _cothurnus_ over his clogs. You were awe-stricken by the intensity, the vehemence, he threw into the mean balderdash of the burlesque-monger. These qualities were even more apparent in his subsequent personation of _Medea_, in Robert Brough's parody of the Franco-Italian tragedy. The love, the hate, the scorn, of the abandoned wife of _Jason_, the diabolic loathing in which she holds _Creüsa_, the tigerish affection with which she regards the children whom she is afterwards to slay,--all these were portrayed by Robson, through the medium, be it always remembered, of doggerel and slang, with astonishing force and vigor. The original _Medea_, the great Ristori herself, came to see Robson, and was delighted with and amazed at him. She scarcely understood two words of English, but the actor's genius struck her home through the bull's-hide target of an unknown tongue. _"Uomo straordinario!"_ she went away saying.
I have anticipated the order of his successes, but at this distance of time and places I can keep no chronological count of them. Robson has always alternated the serio-comic burlesque with pure farce, and after _Jem Baggs_ his brightest hits have been in the deaf ostler in "Boots at the Swan" and the discharged criminal in "Retained for the Defence." In the burlesque of "Masaniello," he had an opportunity--which some thought would prove a magnificent one to him--of showing the grotesque side of insanity; but, for some reason or other, the part seemed distasteful to him. It may have been repugnant to his eminently sensitive spirit to exhibit the ludicrous aspect of the most dreadful of human infirmities. _A peste, fame, bello, et dementia libera nos, Domine!_ Perhaps the piece itself was weak. At all events, "Masaniello" had but a brief run. A drunken man, a jealous man, a deaf man, a fool, a vagabond, a demon, a tyrant, Robson could marvellously depict: in the crazy Neapolitan fisherman he either failed or was unwilling to excel. I had been for a long period extremely solicitous to see Robson undertake the part of _Sir Giles Overreach_ in "A New Way to pay Old Debts." You know that _Sir Giles_, after the discovery of the obliterated deed, goes stark staring mad. I should have wished to see him assume Edmund Kean's own character in the real play itself; but Robson was nervous of venturing on a purely "legitimate" _rôle_. I was half persuaded to write a burlesque on "A New Way to pay Old Debts," and Robson had promised to do his very best with _Sir Giles_; but a feeling, half of laziness, and half of reverence for the fine old drama, came over me, and I never got farther than the first scene.
By this time some of the foremost dramatists in London thought they could discern in Robson latent characteristics of a nature far more elevated than those which his previous performances had brought into play. It was decided by those who had a right to render an authoritative verdict, that he would shine best in that which we call the "domestic drama." Here it was thought his broad fun, rustic waggery, and curious mastery of provincial dialect might admirably contrast with the melodramatic intensity, and the homely, but touching pathos of which in so eminent a degree he was the master. Hence the dramas, written expressly and deliberately to his measure and capacity, of "Daddy Hardacre," "The Porter's Knot," and "The Chimney-Corner." When I say written, I mean, of course, translated. Our foremost dramatists have not yet ceased to borrow from the French; but, like the gypsies, they so skilfully mutilate the children they have stolen, that the theft becomes almost impossible to detect. Not one person in five hundred, for instance, would discover at first sight that a play so apparently English in conception and structure as the "Ticket-of-Leave Man" is, in reality, a translation from the French.
The success achieved by Robson in the dramas I have named was extended, and was genuine. In _Daddy Hardacre_, a skilful adaptation of the usurer in Balzac's "Eugénie Grandet," he was tremendous. It made me more than ever wishful to see him in the griping, ruthless _Overreach_, foiled at last in his wicked ambition and driven to frenzy by the destruction of the document by which he thought to satisfy his lust of gain. Molière's _Avare_ I thought he would have acted wonderfully; Ben Jonson's _Volpone_, in "The Fox," he would surely have understood, and powerfully rendered. In the devoted father of "The Porter's Knot" he was likewise most excellent: quiet, unaffected, unobtrusive, never forcing sentiment upon you, never obtaining tears by false pretences, but throughout solid, sterling, natural, admirable. I came at last, however, to the conviction, that, marked as was the distinction gained by this good actor in parts such as these, and as the lighthouse-keeper--the character originally sustained in private by Charles Dickens--in Wilkie Collins's play, domestic drama was not his _forte_; or, rather, that it was not his _fortissimo_. In fantastic burlesque, in the comic-terrible, he was unrivalled and inimitable. In the domestic drama he could hardly be surpassed, but he might be approached. Webster, Emery, Addison, could play _Daddy Hardacre_, or the father in "The Porter's Knot"; but none but himself could at once awe and convulse in _Medea_ and _the Yellow Dwarf_. These domestic dramas interested, however, as much by their subject as by the excellence of his acting. Moreover, the public are apt sometimes to grow weary of burlesques,--their eternal grimacing and word-torturing and negro-singing and dancing. Themes for parody become exhausted, and, without long surcease, would not bear repetition. You may grow puns, like tobacco, until the soil is utterly worn out. The burlesque-writers, too, exhibited signs of weariness and feebleness. Planché retired into the Heralds' College. The cleverest of the Broughs died. His surviving brother was stupid. Talfourd went to the law before he found an early grave. Hale went to India. The younger generation were scarcely fit to write pantomimes, and it was not always Christmas. Besides, Robson had become a manager, and thought, perhaps, that weightier parts became him. In copartnership with Mr. Emden, he had succeeded Alfred Wigan as lessee of the Olympic, and there I hope he has realized a fortune. But whenever his brief vacations occurred, and actor-like he proceeded to turn them into gold by devoting to performances in country-theatres those days and nights which should properly have been given to rest and peace, he proved faithful to his old loves, and _Jem Baggs_ and _Boots at the Swan_, _Medea_ and _the Yellow Dwarf_, continued to be his favorite parts.
The popularity attained in England by this most remarkable of modern actors has never, since the public were first aware of his qualities, decreased. Robson is always sure to draw. The nights of his playing, or of his non-playing, at the Olympic, are as sure a gauge of the receipts as the rising and falling of the mercury in the thermometer are of the variations of the temperature. A month's absence of Robson from London always brought about an alarming depletion in the Olympic treasury. Unhappily, these absences have of late years become more frequent, and more and more prolonged. The health of the great tragi-comedian has gradually failed him. I have been for a long period without news from him; but I much fear that the heyday of his health and strength is past. The errors which made Edmund Kean, in the prime of life, a shattered wreck, cannot be brought home to Frederick Robson. Rumors, the wildest and the wickedest, have been circulated about him, as about every other public man; but, to the best of my knowledge and belief, they are wholly destitute of foundation. _Don Basilio_, in Beaumarchais's play, might have added some very pregnant advice to his memorable counsel, "_Calomniez, calomniez, il en résultera toujours quelque chose_." He should have taught the world--if the world wants teaching--_how_ to calumniate. The following recipe will be found, I think, infallible. If your enemy be a man of studious and retired habits, hint that he has gone mad; if you see him alone at a theatre or at church, report that he is separated from his wife; _and in any case, declare that he drinks_. He can't disprove it. If he drinks water out-of-doors, he may drink like a fish at home. If he walks straight on the street, he may reel in the parlor.
Thus, scores of times, the gossip-mongers of English provincial papers--the legion of "our own correspondents," who are a nuisance and a curse to reputable society, wherever that society is to be found--have attributed the vacillating health and the intermittent retirements from the stage of the great actor to an over-fondness for brandy-and-water. The sorrowful secret of all this is, I apprehend, that poor Robson has for years been overworking himself,--and that latterly prosperity has laid as heavy a tax upon his time and energy as necessity imposed upon them when he was young. Dame Fortune, whether she smile, or whether she frown, never ceases to be a despot. Over Dives and over Lazarus she equally tyrannizes. In wealth and in poverty does she exact the pound of flesh or the pound of soul. There are seasons in a man's life when Fortune with a radiant savageness cries out to him, "Confound you! you _shall_ make fifty thousand a year"; and she drives him onward to the goal quite as remorselessly as ever slave-owner drove negro into a rice-ground. The whip that is made of golden wire hurts quite as much, I opine, as the cowhide. And when, at last, the fortunate man cries out, "I am rich, I have enough, _Sat me lusistis, ludite nunc alios_, I will work and fret myself no more, I will retire on my dividends, and sit me down under my own fig-tree,"--Fortune dismisses him with a sneer: "Retire, if you like!" cries the implacable, "but take hypochondria and _ennui_, take gout and the palsy, with you."
I should be infinitely rejoiced to hear, when I go back, that Robson is once more a hale and valid man. It is the tritest of platitudes to say that he could ill be spared by the English stage. We never _can_ spare a good actor. As well can we spare a good book or a good picture. But there would be much cause for gratulation, if Robson were spared, ere his powers definitively decline, to visit the United States. The American people ought to see Robson. They have had our tragedians, good, bad, and indifferent. They have filled the pockets of William Macready and of Charles Kean with dollars. They have heard our men-singers and our women-singers,--the birds that can sing, and the birds that can't sing, but _will_ sing. The most notable of our drolls, Buckstone and Keeley, have been here, and have received a cordial welcome. But Robson has hitherto been lacking on this side the Atlantic. That he would be thoroughly appreciated by the theatrical public of America I cannot for one instant doubt. It is given to England to produce eccentrics, but for other nations to understand them better than the English do. The Germans are better critics of the satire of Hogarth, the French of the humor of Sterne, and the Americans of the philosophy of Shakspeare, than we to whose country those illustrious belong. In Boston, in New York, in Philadelphia, crowded and enthusiastic audiences would, I venture to foretell, hang on the utterances of Robson, and expound to their own entire satisfaction his most eloquent by-play, his subtlest gestures. It would be idle, in the endeavor to give him something like a palpable aspect to people who have never seen him, to compare him with other great actors yet extant, or who have gone before. In his bursts of passion, in his vehement soliloquies, in the soul-harrowing force of his simulated invective, he is said to resemble Edmund Kean; but how are you to judge of an actor who in his comic moments certainly approaches the image we have formed to ourselves of Munden and Dowton, of Bannister and Suett? To say that he is a Genius, and the Prince of Eccentrics, is perhaps the only way to cut the Gordian knot of criticism in his instance.
Let me add, in conclusion, that Robson, off the stage, is one of the mildest, modestest, most unassuming of men. Painfully nervous he always was. I remember, a dozen years since, and when I was personally unacquainted with him, writing in some London newspaper a eulogistic criticism on one of his performances. I learned from friends that he had read the article, and had expressed himself as deeply grateful to me for it. I just knew him by sight; but for months afterwards, if I met him in the street, he used to blush crimson, and made as sudden a retreat round the nearest corner as was possible. He said afterwards that he hadn't the courage to thank me. I brought him to bay at last, and came to know him very well; and then I discovered how the nervousness, the bashfulness, the _mauvaise honte_, which made him so shy and retiring in private, stood him in wonderful stead on the stage. The nervous man became the fretful and capricious tyrant of mock tragedy; the bashful man warmed at the foot-lights with passion and power. The manner which in society was a drawback and a defect became in the pursuit of his art a charm and an excellence. What new parts may be created for Robson, and how he will acquit himself in them, I cannot presume to prophesy; but it is certain that he has already done enough to win for himself in the temple of dramatic fame a niche all the more to be envied, as its form and pattern must be, like its occupant, unprecedented and original.
THE PARALLEL ROADS OF GLEN ROY, IN SCOTLAND.
There are phenomena in Nature which give the clue to so many of its mysteries that their correct interpretation leads at once to the broadest generalizations and to the rapid advance of science in new directions. The explanation of one very local and limited problem may clear up many collateral ones, since its solution includes the answer to a whole set of kindred inquiries. The "parallel roads" of Glen Roy offer such a problem. For half a century they have been the subject of patient investigation and the boldest speculation. To them natural philosophers have returned again and again to test their theories, and until they are fully understood no steady or permanent advance can be made in the various views which they have suggested to different observers. The theory of the formation of lakes by barriers, presented by McCulloch and Sir T. Lauder-Dick, that of continental upheavals and subsidences, advocated by Sir Charles Lyell and Charles Darwin, that of inundations by great floods, maintained by Professor H. D. Rogers and Sir George Mackenzie, that of glacial action, brought forward by myself, have been duly discussed with reference to this difficult case; all have found their advocates, all have met with warm opposition, and the matter still remains a mooted point; but the one of all these theories which shall stand the test of time and repeated examination and be eventually accepted will explain many a problem besides the one it was meant to solve, and lead to farther progress in other directions.
I propose here to reconsider the facts of the case, and to present anew my own explanation of them, now more than twenty years old, but which I have never had an opportunity of publishing in detail under a popular form, though it appeared in the scientific journals of the day.
Before considering, however, the phenomena of Glen Roy, or the special glacial areas scattered over Scotland and the other British Isles, let us see what general evidence we have that glaciers ever existed at all in that realm. The reader will pardon me, if, at the risk of repetition, I sum up here the indications which, from our knowledge of glaciers as they at present exist, must be admitted, wherever they are found, as proof of their former existence. Such a summary may serve also as a guide to those who would look for glacial traces where they have not hitherto been sought.
In the first place, we have to consider the singular abrasion of the surfaces over which the glacier has moved, quite unlike that produced by the action of water. We have seen that such surfaces, wherever the glacier-marks have not been erased by some subsequent action, have several unfailing characteristics: they are highly polished, and they are also marked with scratches or fine _striæ_, with grooves and deeper furrows. Where best preserved, the smooth surfaces are shining; they have a lustre like stone or marble artificially polished by the combined friction and pressure of some harder material than itself until all its inequalities have been completely levelled and its surface has become glossy. Any marble mantel-piece may serve as an example of this kind of glacier-worn surface.
The levelling and abrading action of water on rock has an entirely different character. Tides or currents driven powerfully and constantly against a rocky shore, and bringing with them hard materials, may produce blunt, smooth surfaces, such as the repeated blows of a hammer on stone would cause; but they never bring it to a high polish, because, the grinding materials not being held steadily down, in firm, permanent contact with the rocky surfaces against which they move, as is the case with the glacier, but, on the contrary, dashed to and fro, they strike and rebound, making a succession of blows, but never a continuous, uninterrupted pressure and friction. The same is true of all the marks made on rocky shores against which loose materials are driven by water-currents. They are separate, disconnected, fragmentary; whereas the lines drawn by the hard materials set in the glacier, whether light and fine or strong and deep, are continuous, often unbroken for long distances, and rectilinear. Indeed, we have seen[A] that we have beneath every glacier a complete apparatus adapted to all the results described above. In the softer fragments ground to the finest powder under the incumbent mass we have a polishing paste; in the hard materials set in that paste, whether pebbles, or angular rocky fragments of different sizes, or grains of sand, we have the various graving instruments by which the finer or coarser lines are drawn. Not only are these lines frequently uninterrupted for a distance of many yards, but they are also parallel, except when some change takes place in the thickness of the ice, which may slightly modify the trend of the mass, or where lines in a variety of directions are produced by the intermittent action of separate glaciers running successively at different angles over the same surfaces. The deeper grooves sometimes present a succession of short staccato touches, just as when one presses the finger vertically along some surface where the resistance is sufficient to interrupt the action without actually stopping it,--a kind of grating motion, showing how firmly the instrument which produced it must have been held in the moving mass. No currents or sudden freshets carrying hard materials with them, even moving along straight paths down hill-sides or mountain-slopes, have ever been known to draw any such lines. They could be made only by some instrument held fast as in a vice by the moving power. Something of the kind is occasionally produced by the drag of a wheel grating over rocks covered with loose materials.
It has been said that grounded ice or icebergs floating along a rocky shore might produce similar marks; but they will chiefly be at the level of high-water mark, and, if grounded, they will trend in various directions, owing to the rocking or rotating movement of the iceberg. It has also been urged, that, without admitting any general glacier-period, icebergs and floating ice from more northern latitudes might account for the extensive transportation of the loose materials scattered in a continuous sheet over a large portion of the globe. There can be no doubt that an immense amount of _débris_ of all sorts is carried to great distances by floating ice; where their presence is due to this cause, however, they are everywhere stranded along the shore or dropped to the sea-bottom. Large boulders are frequently left by the ice along the New-England coast, and we shall trace them hereafter among the sand-dunes of Cape Cod. But before it can be admitted that the drift-phenomena, and the polished and engraved surfaces with which they are everywhere intimately associated, are owing to floating ice or icebergs, it must be shown that all these appearances have been produced by some agency moving from the sea-board towards the land, and extending up to the very summits of the mountains, or else that all the countries exhibiting glacial phenomena have been sunk below the ocean to the greatest height at which glacier-marks are found, and have since gradually emerged to their present level. Now, though geologists are lavish of immersions when something is to be accounted for which they cannot otherwise explain, and a fresh baptism of old Mother Earth is made to wash away many obstacles to scientific theories, yet the common sense of the world will hardly admit the latter assumption without positive proof, and all the evidence of the kind we have, at the period under consideration, indicates only a comparatively slight change of relative level between sea and land within a narrow belt along the shores; and even this is shown to be posterior, not anterior, to the glacial phenomena. As to the supposition that the motion proceeded from the sea towards the land, all the facts are against it, since the whole trend of these phenomena is from inland centres toward the shore, instead of being from the coast upward.
Certainly, no one familiar with the facts could suppose that floating ice or icebergs had abraded, polished, and furrowed the bottom of narrow valleys as we find them worn, polished, and grooved by glaciers. And it must be remembered that this is a theory founded not upon hypothesis, but upon the closest comparison. I have not become acquainted with these marks in regions where glaciers no longer exist, and made a theory to explain their presence. I have, on the contrary, studied them where they are in process of formation. I have seen the glacier engrave its lines, plough its grooves and furrows in the solid rock, and polish the surfaces over which it moved, and was familiar with all this when I found afterwards appearances corresponding exactly to those which I had investigated in the home of the present glaciers. I could therefore say, and I think with some reason, that "this also is the work of the glacier acting in ancient times as it now acts in Switzerland."
There is another character of glacial action distinguishing it from any abrasions caused by water, even if freighted with a large amount of loose materials. On any surface over which water flows we shall find that the softer materials have yielded first and most completely. Hard dikes will be left standing out, while softer rocks around them are worn away,--furrows will be eaten into more deeply,--fissures will be widened,--clay-slates will be wasted,--while hard sandstone or limestone and granite will show greater resistance. Not so with surfaces over which the levelling plough of the glacier has passed. Wherever softer and harder rocks alternate, they are brought to one outline; where dikes intersect softer rock, they are cut to one level with it; where rents or fissures traverse the rock, they do not seem to have been widened or scooped out more deeply, but their edges are simply abraded on one line with the adjoining surfaces. Whatever be the inequality in the hardness of the materials of which the rock consists, even in the case of pudding-stone, the surface is abraded so evenly as to leave the impression that a rigid rasp has moved over all the undulations of the land, advancing in one and the same direction and levelling all before it.
Among the inequalities of the glacier-worn surfaces which deserve especial notice, are the so-called "_roches moutonnées_." They are knolls of a peculiar appearance, frequent in the Alps, and first noticed by the illustrious De Saussure, who designated them by that name, because, where they are numerous and seen from a distance, they resemble the rounded backs of a flock of sheep resting on the ground. These knolls are the result of the prolonged abrasion of masses of rocks separated by deep indentations wide enough to be filled up by large glaciers, overtopping the summits of the intervening prominences, and passing over them like a river, or like tide-currents flowing over a submerged ledge of rock. It is evident that water rushing over such sunken hills or ledges, adapting itself readily to all the inequalities over which it flows, and forming eddies against the obstacles in its course, will scoop out tortuous furrows upon the bottom, and hollow out rounded cavities against the walls, acting especially along preëxisting fissures and upon the softer parts of the rock,--while the glacier, moving as a solid mass, and carrying on its under side its gigantic file set in a fine paste, will in course of time abrade uniformly the angles against which it strikes, equalize the depressions between the prominent masses, and round them off until they present those smooth bulging knolls known as the "_roches moutonnées_" in the Alps, and so characteristic everywhere of glacier-action. A comparison of any tide-worn hummock with such a glacier-worn mound will convince the observer that its smooth and evenly rounded surface was never produced by water.
Besides their peculiar form, the _roches moutonnées_ present all the characteristic features of glacier-action in their polished surfaces accompanied with the straight lines, grooves, and furrows above described. But there are two circumstances connected with these knolls deserving special notice. They frequently present the glacial marks only on one side, while the opposite side has all the irregularities and roughness of a hill-slope not acted upon by ice. It is evident that the polished side was the one turned towards the advancing glacier, the side against which the ice pressed in its onward movement,--while it passed over the other side, the lee side as we may call it, without coming in immediate contact with it, bridging the depression, and touching bottom again a little farther on. As an additional evidence of this fact, we frequently find on the lee side of such knolls accumulations of the loose materials which the glacier carries with it. It is only, however, when the knolls are quite high, and abrupt enough to allow any rigid substance to bridge over the space in its descent from the summit to the surface below, that we find these conditions; when the knolls are low and slope gently downward in every direction, they present the characteristic glacier-surfaces equally on all sides. This circumstance should be borne in mind by all who investigate the traces of glacier-action; for this inequality in the surfaces presented by the opposite sides of any obstacle in the path of the ice is often an important means of determining the direction of its motion.
The other characteristic peculiarity of these _roches moutonnées_ consists in the direction of the glacier-scratches, which ascend the slope to its summit in a direct line on one side, while they deviate to the right and left on the other sides of the knoll, more or less obliquely according to its steepness. Occasionally, large boulders may be found perched on the very summit of such prominences. Their position is inexplicable by the supposition of currents as the cause of their transportation. Any current strong enough to carry a boulder to such a height would of course sweep it on with it. This phenomenon finds, however, an easy explanation in the glacial theory. The thickness of such a sheet of ice is of course less above such a hill or mound than over the lower levels adjoining it. Not only will the ice melt, therefore, more readily at this spot, but, as ice is transparent to heat, the summit of the prominence will become warmed by the rays of the sun, and will itself facilitate the melting of the ice above it. On the breaking up of the ice, therefore, such a spot will be the first to yield, and allow the boulders carried on the back of the glacier to fall into the hollow thus formed, where they will rest upon the projecting rock left uncovered. This is no theoretical explanation; there are such cases in Switzerland, where holes in the ice are formed immediately above the summit of hills or prominences over which the glacier passes, and into which it drops its burdens. Of course, where the ice is constantly renewed over such a spot by the onward progress of the glacier, these materials may be carried off again; but if we suppose such a case to occur at the breaking up of the glacier-period, when the ice was disappearing forever from such a spot, it is easy to account for the poising of these large boulders on prominent peaks or ledges.
The appearances about the _roches moutonnées_, especially the straight scratches and grooves on the side up which the ice ascended, have led to a mistaken view of the mode in which large boulders are transported by ice. It has been supposed, by those who, while they accepted the glacial theory, were not wholly conversant with the mode of action of glaciers, that, in passing through the bottom of a valley, for instance, the glacier would take up large boulders, and, carrying them along with it, would push them up such a slope and deposit them on its summit. It is true that large boulders may sometimes be found in front of glaciers among the materials of their terminal moraines, and may, upon any advance of the glacier, be pushed forward by it. But I know of no example of erratic boulders being carried to considerable distances and raised from lower to higher levels by this means. All the angular boulders perched upon prominent rocks must have fallen upon the surface of the glacier in the upper part of its course, where rocky ledges rise above its surface and send down their broken fragments. The surface of any boulder carried under the ice, or pushed along for any distance at its terminus, would show the friction and pressure to which it had been subjected. In this connection it should be remembered that in the case of large glaciers low hills form no obstacle to their onward progress, especially when the glacier is thick enough to cover them completely, and even to rise far above them. The _roches moutonnées_ about the Grimsel show that hills many hundred feet high have been passed over by the great glacier of the Aar, when it descended as far as Meyringen, without having seemingly influenced its onward progress.
But in enumerating the evidences of glacier-action, we have to remember not only the effects produced upon the surface of the ground by the ice itself, but also the deposits it has left behind it. The loose materials scattered over the face of the earth may point as distinctly to the source of their distribution as does the character of the rocky surfaces on which they rest indicate the different causes of abrasion. In characteristic localities the loose materials deposited by glaciers may readily be recognized at first sight, and distinguished from water-worn pebbles; nor is it difficult to distinguish both from loose materials resulting from the decomposition of rocks on the spot,--the latter always agreeing with the rocks on which they rest, while the decomposition to which they owe their separation from the solid rock is often still going on. Such _débris_ are found everywhere about disintegrating rocks, and they constantly mingle with the loose fragments brought from a distance by various agencies. They are found upon and among the glacier-worn pebbles, especially where the latter have themselves been disturbed since their accumulation. They are also found among water-worn pebbles, wherever the rocky beds of our rivers or the rocky bluffs of our sea-shores crumble down. In investigating the character of loose materials transported from greater or less distances, either by the agency of glaciers or by water-currents, it is important at the very outset to discriminate between these deposits of older date and the local accessions mingling with them.
Occasionally we may have also to distinguish between all these deposits and the _débris_ brought down by land-slides, or by sudden freshets transporting to a distance a vast amount of loose materials which are neither ice-worn nor water-worn. At Rossberg, for instance, in the Canton of Schwitz, the land-slide which buried the village of Goldau under a terrific avalanche, and filled a part of the Lake of Lauertz, spread an immense number of huge boulders across the valley, some of which even rolled up the opposite side to a considerable height. Many of these boulders might easily be mistaken for erratic boulders, were not the aggregate of these loose materials traceable to the hills from which they descended. In this case water had no part in loosening or bringing down this mass of fragments. They simply rolled from the declivity, and stopped when they had exhausted the momentum imparted to them by their weight. In the case of the _débâcle_ of Bagnes, above Martigny, in a valley leading to the St. Bernard, the circumstances were very different. A glacier, advancing beyond its usual limits and rising against the opposite mountain-slope, dammed up the waters of the torrent and caused a lake to be formed. The obstruction gave way in the course of time, and the waters of the lake rushed out, carrying along with them huge boulders and a mass of loose materials of all sorts, and scattering them over the plain below. Such an accumulation of _débris_ differs from the pebbles and loose fragments found in river-beds. The comparatively short distance over which they are carried, and the suddenness of the transportation, allow no time for the abrasion which produces the smooth surfaces of water-worn pebbles or the polished and scratched surfaces of glacier-worn ones. In the latter case, we have seen that the pebbles, being so set in the ice as to expose only one side, may be only partially polished, while others, more loosely held and turning in their sockets, may receive the same high polish on every side. In such a case the lines will intersect one another, in consequence of the different position in which the stone has been held at different times. No such appearances exist in the water-worn pebbles: their blunt surfaces, smoothed and rounded uniformly by the action of the water in which they have been rolled or tossed about, present everywhere the same aspect.
The correlation between these different loose materials and the position in which they are found helps us also to detect their origin. The loose materials bearing glacier-marks are always found resting upon surfaces which have been worn, abraded, and engraved in the same manner, while the water-worn pebbles are everywhere found resting upon rocks the abrasion of which may be traced to water. It is true that in some localities, as, for instance, in the gravel-pit of Mount Auburn, near Cambridge, large masses of glacier-worn pebbles alternate with beach-shingle; but it is easy to show that there was here a glacier advancing into the sea, crowding its front moraine and the materials carried under it over and into the shingle washed up by the waves upon the beach. Not infrequently, also, river-pebbles may be found among glacial materials. This is especially the case where, after the disappearance of large glaciers, rivers have occupied their beds. Examples of this kind may be seen in all the valleys of the Alps.
But, besides the special character of the individual fragments, the true origin of any accumulation of glacier-_débris_, commonly called drift, may be detected by the total absence of stratification, so essential a feature in all water-deposits. This absence of stratification throughout its mass is, after all, the great and important characteristic of the drift; and though I have alluded to it before, I reiterate it here, as that which distinguishes it from all like accumulations under water. I may be pardoned for dwelling upon this point, because the great controversy among geologists respecting the nature and origin of the sheet of loose materials scattered over a great part of the globe turns upon it. The _débris_ of which the drift consists are thrown together pell-mell, without any arrangement according to size or weight, larger and smaller fragments being mixed so indiscriminately that the heaviest materials may be on the very summit of the mass, and the lightest at the bottom in immediate contact with the underlying rock, or the larger pieces may stand at any level in the mass of finer ones. Impalpable powder, coarse sand, rounded, polished, and scratched fragments of every size are mixed together in a homogeneous paste, in which the larger materials are imbedded, to use a homely, but expressive comparison, like raisins and currants in a pudding. The adhesive paste holding all these fragments together is, no doubt, the result of the friction to which the whole was subjected under the glacier, and which has worked some of the softer materials into a kind of cement.
The mode of aggregation of water-worn materials is very different. Examine the shingle along our beaches: we find it so distributed as to show that the fading tide-wave has carried the lighter materials farther than the heavier ones, and the successive deposits exhibit an imperfect cross-stratification resulting from changes in the height of the tide and the direction of the wind. Moreover, in any materials collected under water we find the heavier ones at the bottom, the lighter on the top. It is true that large angular boulders may occasionally be found resting upon beach-shingle, but their presence in such a connection is easily explained. They may have been dropped there by floating icebergs, or have fallen from crumbling drift-cliffs.
I should add, in speaking of drift-materials, that, while we find the large angular boulders resting above them, we occasionally find boulders of unusual size mingled with them; but, when this is the case, such massive fragments are more or less rounded, polished, and marked in the same way as the smaller pebbles, or as the surfaces over which the glacier has passed. This is important to remember, because, when we examine the drift in countries where the ice, during the glacier-period, overtopped nearly all the mountains, so that few fragments could fall from them upon its surface, we find scarcely any angular boulders, while the drift is interspersed with larger fragments of this character, carried under the ice, instead of on its back. Another distinction between water-worn deposits and drift consists in the fact that the former are washed clean, while the latter always retains the mud gathered during its journey and spread throughout its mass.
In summing up the glacial evidences, I must not omit the moraines, though I have described them so fully in a previous article that I need not do more than allude to them here; but any argument for the glacial theory which did not include these characteristic walls erected by glaciers would be most imperfect. We need hardly discuss the theory of currents with reference to the formation of terminal moraines, extending across the valleys from side to side. Any current powerful enough to bring the boulders and _débris_ of all sorts of which these walls are composed to the places where they are found would certainly not build them up with such regularity, but would sweep them away or scatter them along the bottom of the valley. That this is actually the case is seen in the lower course of the valley of the Rhone, where there are no transverse moraines, while they are frequent and undisturbed in the upper part of the valley. This is no doubt owing to the fact, that, when the main glacier had already retreated considerably up the valley, the lateral glaciers from the chains of the Combin and the Diablerets still reached the valley of the Rhone at a lower point, and barred the outlet of the waters from the glaciers above. A lake was thus formed, which, when the lower glaciers retreated up the lateral valleys, swept away all the lower transverse moraines, and formed the flat bottom of Martigny. In this case, the moraines were totally obliterated; but there are many other instances in which the materials have been only broken up and scattered over a wider surface by currents. In such remodelled moraines, the glacier-mud has, of course, been more or less washed away. We have here a blending of the action of water with that of the glacier; and, indeed, how could it be otherwise, when the colossal glaciers of past ages gradually disappeared or retreated to the mountain-heights? The wasting ice must have occasioned immense freshets, the action of which we shall trace hereafter, when examining the formation of our drift-ponds, of our river-beds and estuaries, as well as the river-terraces standing far above the present water-level.
And now, if it be asked how much of this evidence for the former existence of glaciers is to be found in Great Britain, I answer, that there is not a valley in Switzerland where all these traces are found in greater perfection than in the valleys of the Scotch Highlands, or of the mountains of Ireland and Wales, or of the lake-region in England. Not a link is wanting to the chain. Polished surfaces, traversed by striæ, grooves, and furrows, with a sheet of drift resting immediately upon them, extend throughout the realm,--the _roches moutonnées_ raise their rounded backs from the ground there as in Switzerland,--transverse moraines bar their valleys and lateral ones border them, and the boulders from the hill-sides are scattered over the plains as thickly as between the Alps and the Jura, and are here and there perched upon the summits of isolated hills. This being the case, let us examine a little more closely the local phenomena connected with the ancient extension of glaciers in this region, and especially the parallel roads of Glen Roy.
G. R. Glen Roy. M. Moeldhu Hill. S. Spean River. G. S. Glen Spean. L. Loch Laggan. T. Loch Treig. G. Glen Gloy. L. O. Loch Lochy. A. Loch Arkeig. E. Loch Eil. N. Ben Nevis. 1,2,3. The three parallel roads.]
Among the Grampian Hills, a little to the northeast of Ben Nevis, lies the valley of Glen Roy, a winding valley trending in a northeasterly direction, and some ten miles in length. Across the mouth of this valley, at right angles with it, runs the valley of Glen Spean, trending from east to west, Glen Roy thus opening directly at its southern extremity into Glen Spean. Around the walls of the Glen Roy valley run three terraces, one above the other, at different heights, like so many roads artificially cut in the sides of the valley, and indeed they go by the name of the "parallel roads." These three terraces, though in a less perfect state of preservation, are repeated for a short distance at exactly the same levels on the southern wall of the valley of Glen Spean, just opposite the opening of the Glen Roy valley; that is, they make the whole circuit of Glen Roy, stop abruptly, on both sides, at its southern extremity, and reappear again on the opposite wall of Glen Spean. I should add, however, that all three do not come to this sudden termination; for the lowest of these terraces turns eastward into the valley of Glen Spean, following the whole curve of the eastern half of the valley, while, of the two upper terraces, there is no trace whatever, nor is there any indication that either of the three ever existed in the western half of the valley. When I first visited the region, these phenomena had already been the subject of earnest discussion among English geologists. The commonly accepted explanation of the facts was that these terraces marked ancient sea-levels at a time when the ocean penetrated much farther into the interior, and Glen Roy and the adjoining valleys were as many fiords or estuaries. And though the present elevation of the locality made such an interpretation improbable at first sight, the first or highest of the terraces being eleven hundred and forty-four feet above the present sea-level, the second eighty-two feet below the first, and the third and lowest two hundred and twelve feet below the second, or eight hundred odd feet above the level of the sea, it was thought that the oscillations of the land, its alternate subsidences and upheavals, proved by the modern results of geology to have been so great and so frequent, might account even for so remarkable a change. There are, however, other objections to this theory not so easily explained away. There are no traces of organic life upon these terraces. If they were ancient sea-beaches, we should expect to find upon them the remains of marine animals, shells, crustacea, and the like. All the explanations given to lessen the significance of this absence of organic remains are futile. Again, why should the lower terrace alone be continued into the eastern end of the valley of Glen Spean, while there are no terraces at all in its western part, since both must have been as fully open to the sea as Glen Roy valley itself? This seemed the more inexplicable since all the terraces exist on the valley-wall opposite the outlet of Glen Roy, showing that this sheet of water, wherever it came from, filled the valley itself and the space between it and the southern wall of Glen Spean, but failed to spread, on either side of that space, into the eastern and western extension of Glen Spean. It is evident, that, at the time the water filled Glen Roy, some obstruction blocked the valley of Glen Spean, both to the east and west, leaving, however, that space in the centre free into which Glen Roy opens, while, by the time the water had sunk to the level of the lowest terrace, one of these barriers, that to the east, must have been removed, for the lowest terrace, as I have said, is continuous throughout the eastern part of Glen Spean.[B]
Prepossessed as I was with the idea of glacial agency in times anterior to ours, these phenomena appeared to me under a new aspect. I found the bottom of Glen Spean so worn by glacial action as to leave no doubt in my mind that it must have been the bed of a great glacier, and Dr. Buckland fully concurred with me in this impression. Indeed, the face of the country throughout that region presents not only the glacier-marks in great perfection, but other evidences of the ancient presence of glaciers. There are moraines at the lower end of Glen Spean, remodelled, it is true, by the action of currents, but still retaining enough of their ancient character to be easily recognized; and some of the finest examples of the _roches moutonnées_ I have seen in Scotland are to be found at the entrance of the valley of Loch Treig, a lateral valley opening into Glen Spean on its southern side, and, as we shall see hereafter, intimately connected with the history of the parallel roads of Glen Roy. These _roches moutonnées_ may very fairly be compared with those of the Grimsel, and exhibit all the characteristic features of the Alpine ones. One of them, lying on the western side of the valley where it opens into Glen Spean, is crossed by a trap-dike. The general surface of the hill, consisting of rather soft mica, has been slightly worn down by atmospheric agencies, so that the dike stands out some three-quarters of an inch above it. On the dike, however, the glacier-marks extend for its whole length in great perfection, while they have entirely disappeared from the surrounding surfaces, so as to leave the dike thus standing out in full relief. This is an instructive case, showing how little disintegration has gone on since the drift-period. All the currents that have swept over it, all the rains that have beaten upon it, have not worn away one inch from the original surface of the hill. I have observed many other _roches moutonnées_ in Scotland, especially about the neighborhood of Loch Awe, Loch Fyne, and Loch Etive. In fact, they may be found in almost all the glens of Scotland, in the lake-region of England, and in the valleys of Wales and Ireland.
Following the glacial indications wherever we could find them in the country about Glen Roy, it became evident to me that the whole western range of the Grampian Hills had once been a great centre of glaciers, that they had come down toward Glen Spean through all the valleys on the mountain-slopes to the north and south of it, so that this valley had become, as it were, the great drainage-bed for the masses of ice thus poured into it laterally, and moving down the valley from east to west as one immense glacier. It is natural to suppose, that, at the breaking-up of the great sheet of ice which, if my view of the case is correct, must have covered the whole country at this time, the ice would yield more readily in a valley like that of Glen Roy, lying open to the south and receiving the full force of the sun, than in those on the opposite side of Glen Spean, opening to the north. At all events, it is evident that at some time posterior to this universal glacial period, when the ice began to retreat, Glen Roy became the basin of a glacial lake such as we now find in the Alps of Switzerland, where occasionally a closed valley becomes a trough, as it were, into which the water from the surrounding hills is drained. In such a lake no animals are found, such as exist in any other sheet of fresh water, and this would account for the absence of any organic remains on the terraces of Glen Roy. But at first sight it seemed that this theory was open in one respect to the same objection as the other. What prevented this sheet of water from spreading east and west in Glen Spean? If it not only filled Glen Roy, but extended to the southern side of Glen Spean immediately opposite the opening of Glen Roy, what prevented it from filling the whole of that valley also? In endeavoring to answer this question, I found the solution of the mystery.
The bed of Glen Spean, through its whole extent from east to west, is marked, as I have said, by glacial action, in rectilinear scratches and furrows. This westward track of the main glacier is crossed transversely near the centre of the valley by two other glacier-tracks cutting it at right angles. Upon tracing these cross-tracks carefully, I became satisfied, that, after the surrounding ice had begun to yield, after the masses of ice which descended from the northern and southern slopes of the mountains into Glen Spean had begun to retreat, and to form local limited glaciers, two of those lateral glaciers, one coming down from Ben Nevis on the southwest, the other from Loch Treig on the southeast, extended farther than the others and stretched across Glen Spean.[C] These two glaciers for a long time formed barriers across the western and eastern extension of this valley, damming back the waters which filled Glen Roy and the central part of Glen Spean.
Evidently the glacier descending from Loch Treig was the first to yield, for, by the time the Glen Roy lake had sunk to the level of the lowest terrace, the entrance to the eastern extension of the valley must have been free, otherwise the water could not have spread throughout that basin as we find it did; but it would seem that by the time the western barrier, or the glacier from Ben Nevis, was removed, the sheet of water was too far reduced to have left permanent marks of its outflow into the Great Glen, except by disturbing and remodelling the large moraines of the older Glen Spean glacier. There are faint indications of other terraces in Glen Roy, even at a higher level than the uppermost parallel road, owing their origin probably to the short duration of a higher level of the glacier-lake, when the great general glacier had not yet been lowered to a more permanent level determined by a limited circumscription within the walls of the valleys. There are other terraces in neighboring valleys at still different levels,--in Glen Gloy, for instance, where the one horizontal road was no doubt formed in consequence of the damming of the valley by a glacier from Loch Arkeig. Mr. Darwin has seen another in Glen Kinfillen, which I would explain by the presence of a glacier in the Great Glen, the marks of which are particularly distinct about the eastern end of Glen Garry.
The evidence of the ancient presence of glaciers is no less striking in other parts of the Scotch Highlands. Between the southeastern range of the Grampian Hills, in Forfarshire and Perthshire, and the opposite ridge of Sidlaw Hills, stretches the broad valley of Strathmore. At the time when Glen Spean received the masses of ice from the slopes of the western Grampian range, the glaciers descended from the valleys on the southern slope of the southeastern range and from those on the northern slope of Sidlaw Hills into the capacious bed of the valley which divides them. The glacial phenomena of this region present a striking resemblance in their general relations to those of the Alps and the Jura. The Grampian range on the northern side of Strathmore valley occupies the same position in reference to that of the Sidlaw Hills opposite, as does the range of the Alps to that of the Jura, while the intervening valley may be compared to the plain of Switzerland. As from the Bernese Oberland and from the valleys of the Reuss and Limmath gigantic glaciers came down and stretched across the plain of Switzerland to the Jura, scattering their erratic boulders over its summit and upon its slopes at the time of their greater extension, and, as they withdrew into the higher Alpine valleys, leaving them along their retreating track at the foot of the Jura and over the whole plain, so did the glaciers from Glen Prossen and parallel valleys on the Grampian Mountains extend across the valley of Strathmore, dropping their boulders not only on the slopes and along the base of the Sidlaw Hills, but scattering them in their retreat throughout the valley, until they were themselves reduced to isolated glaciers in the higher valleys. At the same time other glaciers came down from the heights of Schihallion on the west, and, descending through the valley of the Tay, joined the great masses of ice in the valley of Strathmore, thus combining with the eastern ice-field, just as the glacier from Mont Blanc and the valley of the Rhone formerly combined in the western part of Switzerland with those of the Bernese Oberland. The relations are identical, though the geographical position is reversed,--the higher range, or the Grampian Hills, lying to the north in Scotland, and the lower one, or the Sidlaw Hills, to the south, while in Switzerland, on the contrary, the higher range lies to the south and the lower to the north. I have alluded especially to Glen Prossen because the glacial marks in that valley are remarkably distinct, the whole bed of the valley being scratched, polished, and furrowed by the great rasp which has moved over it, while the concentric moraines at its lower extremity are very striking. But these signs, so perfectly preserved in Glen Prossen, recur with greater or less intensity in all the corresponding valleys, leaving no doubt that the same phenomena existed over the whole region.
Among the localities of Scotland where the indications of glacial action are most marked is the region about Stirling. Near Stirling Castle the polished surfaces of the rocks with their distinct grooves and scratches show us the path followed by the ice as it moved down in a northeasterly direction toward the Frith of Forth from the mountains on the northwest. To the west of Edinburgh, also, there is a broad glacier-track, showing that here also the ice was ploughing its way eastward to find an outlet on the shore.
The western slope of the great Scotch range is no less remarkable for its glacier-traces. The heads of Loch Long, Loch Fyne, Loch Awe, and Loch Leven everywhere show upon their margins the most distinct glacial polish and furrows, while from the trend of these marks and the distribution of the moraines, especially about Ben Cruachan, it is obvious that in this part of the country the glaciers moved westward and southward. About Aberdeen, on the contrary, they moved eastward, while in the vicinity of Elgin they advanced toward the north.
It thus appears that the whole range of the Grampians formed a great centre for the distribution of glaciers, and that a colossal ice-field spread itself over the whole country, extending in every direction toward the lower lands and the sea-shore. As the glaciers which now descend through all the valleys of the Alps, along their northern as well as their southern slopes, and in their eastern as well as their western prolongation, though limited, in our days, within the valley-walls, nevertheless once covered the plain of Switzerland and that of Northern Italy, so did the ice-fields of the Grampians during the greatest extension of the Scotch glaciers spread over the whole country. They also were, in course of time, reduced to local glaciers, circumscribed within the higher valleys of the more mountainous parts of the country, until they totally disappeared, as those of Switzerland would also have done, had it not been for the greater elevation of that country above the level of the sea. Scotland nowhere rises above the present level of perpetual snow, while in Switzerland the whole Alpine range has an altitude favorable to the preservation of glaciers. In the range of the Jura, however, which had at one time its local glaciers also, but which nowhere now rises above the line of perpetual snow, they have disappeared as completely as in the Grampian Hills.
It would lead me too far, were I to give here a special account of all the investigations I made in 1840 upon the distribution of glaciers in Great Britain. I will therefore only point out a few of the more distinct areas of distribution. The region surrounding Ben Wyvis formed such a centre of dispersion from which glaciers radiated, and we have another in the Pentland Hills about Edinburgh. In Northumberland, the Cheviot Hills present a glacial centre of the same kind, and in the Westmoreland Hills we have still another. In the last-named locality, the glacial tracks can be followed in various directions, some of them descending toward the northwest from the heights of Helvellyn, others moving southward toward Ambleside. In Wales the same kind of glacial distribution has been observed; but, as Professor Ramsay has treated this subject in full, I would refer my readers to his masterly work for a further account of the ancient Welch glaciers. In Ireland I had also opportunities of making extensive local investigations of glacial action. I observed the centres of distribution in the neighborhood of Belfast, in the County of Wicklow, and in Cavan.
But nowhere are these phenomena more striking than in Fermanagh County about the neighborhood of Enniskillen, and more especially in the immediate vicinity of Florence Court, the seat of the Earl of Enniskillen. On the northern slope of Ben Calcagh are five valleys lying parallel with each other and opening into the valley of Loch Nilly, which runs from east to west at the base of the mountain. A road now passes through this valley, and, where it crosses the mouth of either of the five valleys rising towards the mountain-slope, it cuts alternately through the two horns of a crescent-shaped wall which bars the lower end of every one of them. These crescent-shaped mounds are so many terminal moraines, built up by the five glaciers formerly descending through these lateral valleys into the valley of Loch Nilly. They bore the same relation to each other as the glaciers de Tour and d'Argentière, the Glacier des Bois with the Mer de Glace, the Glacier des Bossons and the Glacier de Taconet, now bear to each other in the valley of Chamouni; and were it not for the smaller dimensions of the whole, any one familiar with the tracks of ancient glaciers might easily fancy himself crossing the ancient moraines at the foot of the northern slope of the range of Mont Blanc, through which the Arve has cut its channel, the valley of Chamouni standing in the same relation to Mont Blanc as the valley of Loch Nilly does to Ben Calcagh.
I have dwelt thus at length on the glaciers of Great Britain because they have been the subject of my personal investigations. But the Scotch Highlands and the mountains of Wales and Ireland are but a few of the many centres of glacial distribution in Europe. From the Scandinavian Alps glaciers descended also to the shores of the Northern Ocean and the Baltic Sea. There is not a fiord of the Norway shore that does not bear upon its sides the tracks of the great masses of ice which once forced their way through it, and thus found an outlet into the sea, as in Scotland. Indeed, under the water, as far as it is possible to follow them through the transparent medium, I have noticed in Great Britain and in the United States the same traces of glacial action as higher up, so that these ancient glaciers must have extended not only to the sea-shore, but into the ocean, as they do now in Greenland. Nor is this all. Scandinavian boulders, scattered upon English soil and over the plains of Northern Germany, tell us that not only the Baltic Sea, but the German Ocean also, was bridged across by ice, on which these masses of rock were transported. In short, over the whole of Northern Europe, from the Arctic Ocean to the northern borders of its southern promontories, we find all the usual indications of glacial action, showing that a continuous sheet of ice once spread over nearly the whole continent, while from all the mountain-ranges descended those more limited glacial tracks terminating frequently in transverse moraines across the valleys, showing, that, as the general ice-sheet broke up and contracted into local glaciers, every cluster or chain of hills became a centre of glacial dispersion, such as the Alps are now, such as the Jura, the Highlands of Scotland, the mountains of Wales and Ireland, the Alps of Scandinavia, the Hartz, the Black Forest, the Vosges, and many others have been in ancient times.
* * * * *
In the next article we shall consider the glacial phenomena as they exist in America.
[A] See January No., p. 61.
[B] Having enumerated the characteristic features of the glacial phenomena in the preceding pages, I throw into this note some explanation which may render my views of the parallel roads more intelligible, not to interrupt again the exposition with details. It would be desirable, however, that the reader should first make himself thoroughly familiar with the localities concerned, before proceeding any farther. I would therefore state here, that, in the wood-cut opposite, G. R. indicates the valley of Glen Roy, with the three parallel roads marked 1, 2, 3. Glen Spean is designated by G. S., and the river flowing at its bottom by S. Loch Laggan, out of which the River Spean rises, is marked L. G. indicates Glen Gloy, a little valley to the northwest of Glen Roy, with a single terrace. Loch Treig is designated by T., Loch Lochy by L. O., Loch Arkeig by A., and Moeldhu Hill by M., while E. indicates Loch Eil. The Great Glen of Scotland, through which the Caledonian Canal runs, extends in the direction of L. O. and E. The position of Ben Nevis is designated by N. The dotted area between N. and M. marks the place occupied by the great glacier of Ben Nevis, when it extended as far as Moeldhu; while the close continuous lines in front of Loch Treig indicate the direction of the glacial scratches left across Glen Spean by the glacier of Loch Treig, when it extended as far as the eastern termination of the two upper terraces. It ought to be remembered, in this connection, that the bottom of the valley of the Spean, as well as that of Glen Roy, is occupied by loose materials, partly drift, that is, materials acted upon by glaciers, and partly decomposed fragments of rocks brought down by the torrents, greatly impeding the observation of the polished surfaces. The river-bed is cut through this deposit, and here and there through the underlying rock. Besides the parallel roads, there are also peculiar accumulations of loose materials in Glen Roy and Glen Spean, more particularly connected with the lowest terrace, which Mr. Darwin and Professor Jamieson have shown to be little deltas formed during the existence of the lake of Glen Roy at the bottom of the gullies intersecting the shelves of the upper roads. The outlet for the water at the period during which the second terrace was formed, not known when I visited Glen Roy, has been discovered by Mr. Milne-Holme, and also observed by Professor Jamieson. During the formation of the upper terrace, the waters escaped through the westernmost tributary of the River Spey, in the direction of the northeast corner of the wood-cut, and during that of the lowest terrace, at the eastern end of Loch Laggan, also through the valley of the Spey. The state of preservation of the parallel roads is such as to prove that no disturbance of any importance can have taken place in the country since they were formed. Far from believing, therefore, that these remarkable shelves are ancient sea-beaches, I am prepared to maintain, that, had the area occupied by them been submerged only for a few days, under an ocean rising and falling for several feet with every tide, no vestige would have been left of their former existence.
[C] The wood-cut on p. 730 is a reproduction of the little map accompanying a paper of mine upon "The Glacial Theory and its Recent Progress," printed in the "Edinburgh New Philosophical Journal" for October, 1842. I might have greatly improved the topography, and represented more accurately the details of the phenomenon, by availing myself of the much larger and very minute map recently published by Professor Thomas F. Jamieson, of Aberdeen; but I thought it advisable to leave my first sketch as I presented it twenty-two years ago, in order to show that Sir Charles Lyell is mistaken in ascribing (see "Antiquity of Man," pp. 260, 261) the discovery of the glacier of Loch Treig to Professor Jamieson. A comparison of his statements with mine will show that the solution of the problem offered by him is identical with that proposed by me, as he himself candidly admits ("Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society" for August, 1863, p. 239). I have only one fault to find with his observations, and, as I have never revisited the locality since, this remark may satisfy him that my examination of its features was not so hurried as he supposes. Professor Jamieson confounds the effects of two distinct glaciers moving in different valleys as the action of one and the same glacier. In my paper, it is true, I made no allusion to the great glacier of Glen Spean, the existence of which I had recognized along the river from Loch Laggan nearly to the Caledonian Canal. I publish my observations upon this great central glacier for the first time in the present article, having omitted them in my contributions upon this subject to the scientific periodicals of the day simply because I thought best not to complicate my exposition of the facts concerning the parallel roads by considerations foreign to their origin, convinced as I was, from the manner in which the glacial theory was then received, that they would not be understood, and still less admitted. But now that all the geologists of Great Britain seem to have given their adhesion to it, I may be permitted to state that I already knew then, what Professor Jamieson has overlooked in his latest paper, that a separate glacier had occupied the valley of the Spean _prior_ to the formation of the parallel roads, and that at that time the glacier of Loch Treig was only a lateral tributary of the same, just as the glacier of the Thierberg is a tributary of the glacier of the Aar. It was not until the Glen Spean glacier had retreated to the hills east of Loch Laggan that the glacier of Loch Treig could form a barrier across Glen Spean, and thus dam the waters in Glen Roy which produced the parallel roads. The marks left by the great Glen Spean glacier in the valley are mistaken by Professor Jamieson for indications, that, in its greatest extension, the glacier of Loch Treig not only advanced across Glen Spean, but divided into two branches, one moving westward down Glen Spean, the other eastward up Glen Spean, as far as Loch Laggan. Any one sufficiently familiar with existing glaciers to compare their action with the phenomena referred to above will at once see the impossibility of such a course for any glacier coming down from Loch Treig. At the time the Grampians had become a separate centre of glacial action a great glacier must have moved down, towards the Caledonian Canal, through Glen Spean, receiving as tributaries lateral glaciers not only from Loch Treig and Glen Roy, but also from all the other minor lateral valleys emptying into Glen Spean, the largest of which must have come from the range of Ben Nevis,--just as the great glacier of the valley of the Rhone once received as tributaries all the glaciers coming down into that valley from the southern slope of the Bernese Oberland, and from the northern slope of the Valesian Alps, and at one time also from the eastern slopes of the range of Mont Blanc. And when the large glacier occupying the lower, and therefore warmer, level gradually disappeared and retreated far away to levels where it could maintain itself against the effect of a returning milder climate, the opening spring of our era, as we may call it, the lateral glaciers, arising from the nearer high grounds, could extend across the valleys, but not before.
UNDER THE CLIFF.
"Still ailing, Wind? Wilt be appeased or no? Which needs the other's office, thou or I? Dost want to be disburthened of a woe, And can, in truth, my voice untie Its links, and let it go?
"Art thou a dumb, wronged thing that would be righted, Intrusting thus thy cause to me? Forbear! No tongue can mend such pleadings; faith, requited With falsehood,--love, at last aware Of scorn,--hopes, early blighted,--
"We have them; but I know not any tone So fit as thine to falter forth a sorrow: Dost think men would go mad without a moan, If they knew any way to borrow A pathos like thy own?
"Which sigh wouldst mock, of all the sighs? The one So long escaping from lips starved and blue, That lasts while on her pallet-bed the nun Stretches her length; her foot comes through The straw she shivers on,--
"You had not thought she was so tall; and spent, Her shrunk lids open; her lean fingers shut Close, close; their sharp and livid nails indent The clammy palm; then all is mute: That way, the spirit went.
"Or wouldst thou rather that I understand Thy will to help me?--like the dog I found Once, pacing sad this solitary strand, Who would not take my food, poor hound, But whined and licked my hand."
* * * * *
All this, and more, comes from some young man's pride Of power to see, in failure and mistake, Relinquishment, disgrace, on every side, Merely examples for his sake, Helps to his path untried:
Instances he must--simply recognize? Oh, more than so!--must, with a learner's zeal, Make doubly prominent, twice emphasize, By added touches that reveal The god in babe's disguise.
Oh, he knows what defeat means, and the rest, Himself the undefeated that shall be! Failure, disgrace, he flings them you to test,-- His triumph in eternity Too plainly manifest!
Whence judge if he learn forthwith what the wind Means in its moaning,--by the happy, prompt, Instinctive way of youth, I mean,--for kind Calm years, exacting their accompt Of pain, mature the mind:
And some midsummer morning, at the lull Just about daybreak, as he looks across A sparkling foreign country, wonderful To the sea's edge for gloom and gloss Next minute must annul,--
Then, when the wind begins among the vines, So low, so low, what shall it mean but this? "Here is the change beginning, here the lines Circumscribe beauty, set to bliss The limit time assigns."
Nothing can be as it has been before; Better, so call it, only not the same. To draw one beauty into our hearts' core, And keep it changeless! such our claim; So answered,--Never more!
Simple? Why, this is the old woe o' the world, Tune to whose rise and fall we live and die. Rise through it, then! Rejoice that man is hurled From change to change unceasingly, His soul's wings never furled!
That's a new question; still remains the fact, Nothing endures: the wind moans, saying so; We moan in acquiescence: there's life's pact, Perhaps probation,--do _I_ know? God does: endure His act!
Only, for man, how bitter not to grave On his soul's hands' palms one fair, good, wise thing Just as he grasped it! For himself, death's wave; While time first washes--ah, the sting!-- O'er all he'd sink to save.
SEVEN WEEKS IN THE GREAT YO-SEMITE.
It is as hard to leave San Francisco as to get there. To a traveller paying his first visit it has the interest of a new planet. It ignores the meteorological laws which govern the rest of the world. There is no snow there. There are no summer showers. The tailor recognizes no aphelion or perihelion in his custom: the thin woollen suit which his patron had made in April is comfortably worn until April again. The only change of stockings there is from wet to dry, or from soiled to clean. Save that in so-called winter frequent rainfalls alternate with spotless intervals of amber weather, and that _soi-disant_ summer is one entire amber mass, its unbroken divine days concrete in it, there is no inequality on which to forbid the banns between May and December. In San Francisco there is no work for the scene-shifter of Nature: the wealth of that great dramatist, the year, resulting in the same manner as the poverty of dabblers in private theatricals,--a single flat doing service for the entire play. Thus, save for the purpose of notes-of-hand, the Almanac of San Francisco might replace its mutable months and seasons with one great kindly, constant, sumptuous All The Year Round.
Out of this benignant sameness what glorious fruits are produced! Fruit enough metaphorical: for the scientific man or artist who cannot make hay while such a sun shines from April to November must be a slothful laborer indeed. But fruit also literal: for what joy of vegetation is lacking to the man who every month in the year can look through his study-window on a green lawn, and have strawberries and cream for his breakfast,--who can sit down to this royal fruit, and at the same time to apricots, peaches, nectarines, blackberries, raspberries, melons, figs both yellow and purple, early apples, and grapes of three kinds?
Another delightful fact of San Francisco is the Occidental Hotel. Its comfort is like that of a royal home. There is nothing inn-ish about it. Remembering the chief hotels of many places, I am constrained to say that I have never, even in New York, seen its equal for elegance of appointment, attentiveness of servants, or excellence of _cuisine_. Having come to this extreme of civilization from the extreme of barbarism, we found that it actually needed an exertion to leap from the lap of luxury, after a fortnight's pleasaunce, and take to the woods again in flannel and corduroys.
But far more seductive than the beautiful bay, the heavenly climate, the paradisiacal fruits, and the royal hotel of San Francisco, were the old friends whom we found, and the new ones we made there. With but one exception, (and that an express-company, not a man,) we were received by all our San-Francisco acquaintance in a kind and helpful manner, with a welcome and a cheer as delightful to ourselves as it was honorable to them. Need I say whose brotherly hands were among the very first outstretched to us, in whose happy home we found our sweetest rest, by whose radiant face and golden speech we were most lovingly detained evening after evening and far into the night? A few days ago when we read that dreadful message, "_Starr King is dead_," the lightning that carried it seemed to end in our hearts. We withered under it; California had lost its soul for us; at noon or in dreams that balmy land would nevermore be the paradise it once was to us. The last hand that pressed our own, when we sailed for the Isthmus on our way home, was the same that had been first to give us our California welcome. Just before the lines were cast off, Starr King stood at the door of our state-room, and said,--
"I could not bear to have you go away without one more good-bye. Here are the _cartes-de-visite_ I promised. They look hard-worked, but they look like me. Good bye! God bless you! I hope to make a visit to the East next summer, and then we will get together somewhere by the sea. Good bye!"
He went down the ladder. When the steamer glided off, his bright face sent benedictions after us as far as we could see; and then, for the last time on earth, that great, that good, that beloved man faded from our sight,--but, oh! never from our hearts, either in the here or the hereafter. "We shall see him, but not now." We shall be together with him "in the summer, by the sea"; but that summer shall have other glory than the sun to lighten it, and the sea shall be of crystal.
King was to have joined us in our Yo-Semite trip. We little knew that we were losing, for this world, our last opportunity of close daily intercourse with his sweet spirit, though we were grievously disappointed when he told us, on the eve of our setting out, that work for the nation must detain him in San Francisco, after all.
If report was true, we were going to the original site of the Garden of Eden,--into a region which out-Bendemered Bendemere, out-valleyed the valley of Rasselas, surpassed the Alps in its waterfalls, and the Himmal'yeh in its precipices. As for the two former subjects of comparison, we never met any tourist who could adjust the question from his own experience; but the superiority of the Yo-Semite to the Alpine cataracts was a matter put beyond doubt by repeated judgments, and a couple of English officers who had explored the wildest Himmal'yeh scenery told Starr King that there was no precipice in Asia to be compared for height or grandeur with Tu-toch-anula and Tis-sa-ack.
We were going into the vale whose giant domes and battlements had months before thrown their photographic shadow through Watkins's camera across the mysterious wide continent, causing exclamations of awe at Goupil's window, and ecstasy in Dr. Holmes's study. At Goupil's counter and in Starr King's drawing-room we had gazed on them by the hour already,--I, let me confess it, half a Thomas-a-Didymus to Nature, unwilling to believe the utmost true of her till I could put my finger in her very prints. Now we were going to test her reported largess for ourselves.
No Saratoga affair, this! A total lack of tall trunks, frills, and curling-kids. Driven by the oestrum of a Yo-Semite pilgrimage, the San-Francisco belle forsakes (the Western vernacular is "goes back on") her back-hair, abandons her capillary "waterfalls" for those of the Sierra, and, like John Phoenix's old lady who had her whole osseous system removed by the patent tooth-puller, departs, leaving her "skeleton" behind her. The bachelor who cares to see unhooped womanhood once more before he dies should go to the Yo-Semite. The scene was three or four times presented to us during our seven weeks' camp there,--though the trip is one which might well cost a feeble woman her life.
Our male preparations were of the most pioneer description. One wintry day since my return I was riding in a train on the New-York Central, when an undaunted herdsman, returning Westward, flushed with the sale of beeves, accosted me with the question,--"Friend, yeou've travelled consid'able, and believe in the religion of Natur', don't ye?" "Why so?" I responded. "_Them boots_," replied my new acquaintance, pointing at a pair with high knee-caps, like those our party wore to the Yo-Semite. Otherwise, we took the oldest clothes we had,--and it is not difficult to find that variety in the trunk of a recent overland stager. We were armed with Ballard rifles, shot-guns, and Colt's revolvers which had come with us across the continent; our ammunition we got in San Francisco, together with all such commissariat-luxuries as were worth transportation: our necessaries we left to be purchased at that jumping-off place of civilization, Mariposa, whence we were to start our pack-mules into the wilderness. Let me recommend tourists like ourselves to include in the former catalogue plenty of canned fruits, sardines, and apple-butter,--in the latter, a jug of sirup for the inevitable camp slapjacks. No woodsman, as will presently appear in our narrative, can tell when a slapjack may be the last plank between him and starvation; and to this plank how powerfully sirup enables him to stick!
The only portion of our outfit which would have pleased an exquisite (and he must be rather of the Count-Devereux than the Foppington-Flutter school) was our horseflesh. That greatest of luxuries, a really good saddle-animal, is readily and reasonably attainable in California. Everybody rides there; if you wish to create a sensation with your horsemanship in the streets of San Francisco, you must ride ill, not well: everybody does this last. Even since the horse-railroad has begun to clutter Montgomery Street (the San-Franciscan Boulevards) with its cars, it is a daily matter to see capitalists and statesmen charging through that thoroughfare on a gallop, which, if repeated in Broadway by Henry G. Stebbins, would cost him his reputation on 'Change and his seat in the next Congress. The nation of beggars-on-horseback which first colonized California has left behind it many traditions unworthy of conservation, and multitudinous fleas not at all traditional, but even less keepworthy; but all honor be to the Spaniards, Greasers, and Mixed-Breeds for having rooted the noble idea of horsemanship so firmly in the country that even street-railroads cannot uproot it, and that Americans who never sat even so little as an Atlantic-State's pony, on coming here presently take to the saddle with all their hearts. In most of the smaller Californian towns, a very serviceable half- or quarter-breed saddle-horse is to be had for forty dollars,--the "breed" portion of his blood being drawn from an Eastern stallion, the remaining fraction being native or Mustang stock. This animal, if need be, will live on road-side croppings nearly as well as a mule,--travel all day long on an easy "lope," never offering to stop till fatigue makes him fall,--and, if you let him, will take you through _chaparrals_, and up and down precipices at whose bare suggestion an Eastern horse would break his legs. Our party, seeking rather more ambitious mounts, supplied itself, after a tour through the San-Francisco stables, with saddle-animals at an average of seventy dollars apiece. This, payable in gold, then amounted to one hundred dollars in notes; but the New-York market could not have furnished us with such horses for one hundred and fifty dollars.
It may seem as if, like most cavalcades, we should never get started, but I must linger a moment to do justice to our accoutrements. If there be a more perfect saddle than the Californian, I would ride bare-back a good way to get it. Anything more unlike the slippery little pad on which we of the East amble about parks and suburban roads cannot be imagined. It is not for a day, but for all time, and for those who spend nearly the latter in it. Its wooden skeleton is as scientifically fitted to the rider's form as an old "_incroyable's_" pair of pantaloons. There is no such thing as getting tired in or of it. Rising to the lower lumbar vertebrae behind, and in front terminating gracefully in a broad-topped pommel, it enables one to lean back in descending, forward in climbing, the great ridges on the path of California travel,--thus affording capital relief both to one's self and one's horse, and bringing in both from a fifty-miles' march comparatively unjaded.
The stirrups of this saddle are broad hickory hoops, shaped nearly like an Omega upside-down (U)[Transcriber's note: upside down Omega], left unpolished so as to afford the most unshakable footing, covered with a half-shoe of the stoutest leather, which renders it impossible for the toe to slip through or the ankle to foul under any circumstances. Attached to the straps from which these swing is a wide and neatly ornamented stirrup-leather, which effectually prevents the grazing of the rider's leg. The surcingle, or, _Californicè_, the _cinch_, is a broad strip of hair-cloth with a padded ring at either end through which you reeve and fasten with a half-hitch stout straps sewed to other rings under the saddle-flaps. This arrangement is not only far securer than our Eastern buckle, but enables you to graduate the tightness of your girth much more delicately, and make a far snugger fit.
The only particular in which I could not commend and adopt the native practice was the Mexican bit. It is a dreadful instrument of torture, putting immense leverage in the rider's hands, and enabling him at will to tear the mouth of his horse to pieces; indeed, the horse on which it is used is guided entirely by pressure on the opposite side of the neck from that in which one seeks to turn him. Our Eastern way of drawing his head around would so lift the bit as to drive him frantic. There are very few horses of any breed, even the Mustang, that _never_ stumble; and as I prefer lifting my horse to letting him break his knees or neck, I want a bridle I can pull upon without tearing his mouth. So, in spite of its handsome appearance and the very manageable single white cord into which its two reins are braided, I eschewed the Mexican head-gear, and took the ordinary Eastern snaffle and curb. Immense spurs completed our accoutrement,--whips being here unknown.
I may as well make a word-map of our route before going farther. Pilgrims to the Yo-Semite ship themselves and their horses from San Francisco by steamer to Stockton. This town is on the San Joaquin, the most northerly of a series of rivers fed directly from the Sierra Nevada water-shed, and here through the middle portion of the State,--a series, indeed, continued through much of the still lower Pacific coast to the Isthmus of Nicaragua. The Sacramento drains quite a different region, that of the broad plains between the Sierra and Coast ranges, occupying the northern portion of the State,--resembling in its physical features, much more than any of the Pacific streams beside, the large isolated trunks which drain the east slope of the Alleghanies. The Colorado is almost the only other large river created from many tributaries, which debouches between the Columbia and the Isthmus,--and that rises east of the mathematical axis of the Rocky Mountains. The Yo-Semite valley is one of the cradles through which the short Sierra-draining rivers reach the ocean; its threading stream is the Merced; and if on any good United-States Survey-map you will please to follow that river back to the mountains, when your finger-nail touches the Sierra it will be (or would, were the maps somewhat correcter) in the Great Yo-Semite. You will then see that our course led us across three streams, after leaving the San Joaquin at Stockton _en route_ for Mariposa,--the Stanislaus, the Tuolomne, and the Main Merced. The distance from Stockton to Mariposa is about one hundred miles, a small part of the way between fenced ranches, a much greater part on wide, open, rolling plains, somewhat like those of Nebraska, embraced between the two great ranges of the State. Here and there you find an isolated herdsman or a small settlement dropped down in this not unfruitful waste, and thrice you come to a hybrid town, with a Spanish _plaza_, and Yankee notions sold around it. We went the distance leisurely, consuming four days to Mariposa, for we stopped here and there to sketch, "peep, and botanize"; besides, we were dragging with us a Jersey wagon, bought second-hand in Stockton, in which we carried our heavier outfit till we should get our extra pack-beasts at Mariposa, and to which we had harnessed for their first time an implacable white mule with an incapable white horse, to neither of which each other's society or their own new trade was congenial.
I shall not linger here as we did there. To an ornithologist the whole road is interesting,--especially to one making a specialty of owls. The only game within easy reach is the dove and the California ground-squirrel,--a big fellow, much like our Northeastern gray, barring the former's subterranean habits. On the plains threaded by the road the pasture is good, save in the extremest drought of summer, when the great herds which usually feed at large on and between the river-bottoms are driven to the rich green grass in the high valleys of the Sierra,--or ought to be: many cattle died along the San Joaquin last summer for want of this care. Occasionally the road winds through the refreshing shadow of a grove of live-oaks, standing far from any water on a sandy knoll. But the most magnificent trees of the oak family that I ever beheld were growing on the banks of the Tuolomne River, where we forded it at Roberts's Ferry. They were not merely in dimension superior to the finest white-oaks of the East, but surpassed in beauty every tradition of their genus. Their vast gnarled branches followed as exquisite curves as belong to any elm on a New-England meadow, and wept at the extremities like those of that else matchless tree,--possessing, moreover, a sumptuous affluence of leafage, an arboreal _embonpoint_, unknown to their graceful sister of our lowlands. Be sure that we lingered long among their shadows with book and pencil, and look for a desirable acquaintance with new Dryads when they grow into the life of color from our artists' hands.
At Princeton, a thriving suburb of Mariposa, we completed our cavalcade of pack-animals, transferred our wagon-load to their backs, (the average mule-pack weighs from two hundred and fifty to three hundred pounds,) roped it there in the most approved _muletero_-fashion, and started into the wilderness.
Let us call the roll. Beside Bierstadt and the two other gentlemen who with myself had formed the original overland-party, we numbered two young artists of great merit now sojourning for a short time in California, Williams, an old Roman, and Perry, an ancient Düsseldorf friend,--also a highly scientific metallurgist and physicist generally, Dr. John Hewston of San Francisco.
To serve the party we secured a man and a boy. Regarding the former, perhaps the more truthful assertion would be that he secured us; for, as will shortly appear, though we bought his services, he sold us in return. We picked him up in a San-Francisco employment-office, after looking all over the city for a respectable groom and camp-cook, and finding that in a scarce-labor country like California even fifty gold dollars per month, with keep and expenses, were no sufficient bait for the catch we wanted. He was a meagre, wiry fellow, with sandy hair, serviceable-looking hands, and no end to self-recommendations; but then it was impossible to ask after him at his "last place," that having been General Johnston's camp during Buchanan's forcible-feeble occupation of Utah. As he said he had been a teamster, and knew that soup-meat went into cold water, we rushed blindly into an engagement with him, marriage-service fashion, and took him for better or worse. The thing which I think finally "fired our Northern hearts" and clinched the matter was his assertion of nephewship to the Secession Governor Vance, whose name he bore, combined with unswerving personal loyalty. Lest by some future D'Israeli this be written down among the traditional greennesses of learned men, let me say that he was our _pis-aller_,--we finding ourselves within two hours of the Stockton boat, with nobody to help pack our mules or care for them and the horses.
The boy we obtained near Mariposa. He was an independent squire to the man of whom we got the extra animals, and accompanied them as a sort of trustee and _prochein amy_ to an orphan family of mules. At fifteen years and in jackets, he was one of the keenest speculators in fire-arms I ever saw; could swap horses or play poker with anybody; and, take him for all in all, in the Eastern States, at least, I shall never look upon his like again.
Thus manned, and leading, turn-about, four or five pack-beasts by as many tow-lines, we struck up into the well-wooded Sierra foot-hills, commencing our climb at the very outset from Mariposa. The whole distance to the Valley was fifty miles. For twelve of these we pursued a road in some degree practicable to carts, and leading to one of those inevitable steam saw-mills with which a Yankee always cuts his first swath into the tall grass of Barbarism. Passing the saw-mill in the very act of astonishing the wilderness with a dinner-whistle, we struck a trail and fell into single file. Thenceforward our way was almost a continuous alternation of descent and climb over outlying ridges of the Sierra. Our raw-recruited mules, and the elementary condition of our intellects in the science of professional packing, spun out this portion of our journey to three days,--though allowance is to be made for the fact of our stopping at noon of the second day and not resuming our trail till the morning of the third. This interim we spent in visiting the Big Trees, which are situated four or five miles off the Yo-Semite track.
"Clark's," where tourists stop for this purpose, is just half-way between Mariposa and the great Valley. "Clark" himself is one of the best-informed men, one of the very best guides, I ever met in the Californian or any other wilderness. He is a fine-looking, stalwart old grizzly-hunter and miner of the '49 days, wears a noble full beard hued like his favorite game, but no head-covering of any kind since he recovered from a fever which left his head intolerant of even a slouch. He lives among folk, near Mariposa, in the winter, and in summer occupies a hermitage built by himself in one of the loveliest lofty valleys of the Sierra. Here he gives travellers a surprise by the nicest poached eggs and rashers of bacon, home-made bread and wild-strawberry sweetmeats, which they will find in the State.
Before reaching Clark's we had been astonished at the dimensions of the ordinary pines and firs, our trail for miles at a time running through forests where trees one hundred and fifty feet high were very common and trees of two hundred feet by no means rare, while some of the very largest must have considerably surpassed the latter measurement.
But these were in their turn dwarfed by the Big Trees proper, as thoroughly as themselves would have dwarfed a common Green-Mountain forest. I find no one on this side the continent who believes the literal truth which travellers tell about these marvellous giants. People sometimes think they do, but that is only because they fail to realize the proposition. They have no concrete idea of how the asserted proportions look. Tell a carpenter, or any other man at home with the look of dimensions, what you have seen in the Mariposa-County groves, and his eye grows incredulous in a moment. I freely confess, that, though I always thought I _had_ believed travellers in their recitals on this subject, when I saw the trees I found I had bargained to credit no such story as that, and for a moment felt half-reproachful towards the friends who had cheated me of my faith under a misapprehension.
Take the dry statistics of the matter. Out of one hundred and thirty-two trees which have been measured, not one underruns twenty-eight feet in circumference; five range between thirty-two and thirty-six feet; fifty-eight between forty and fifty feet; thirty-four between fifty and sixty; fourteen between sixty and seventy; thirteen between seventy and eighty; two between eighty and ninety; two between ninety and one hundred; two are just one hundred; and one is one hundred and two. This last, before the storms truncated it, had a height of four hundred feet. I found a rough ladder laid against its trunk,--for it is prostrate,--and climbed upon its side by that and steps cut in the bark. I mounted the swell of the trunk to the butt and there made the measurement which ascertained its diameter as thirty-four feet,--its circumference one hundred and two feet _plus_ a fraction. Of course the thickness of its bark is various, but I cut off some of it to a foot in depth and there was evidently plenty more below that.
To make some rough attempt at a conception of what these figures amount to, suppose the tree fallen at the gable of an ordinary two-story house. You propose to cross by a plank laid from your roof to the upper side of the tree. That plank would perceptibly slope _up_ from your roof-peak. Through another tree, lying prostrate also, and hollow from end to end, our whole cavalcade charged at the full trot for a distance of one hundred and fifty feet. The entire length of this tree before truncation had been about three hundred and fifty feet. In the hollow bases of trees still standing we easily sheltered ourselves and horses. We tried throwing to the top of some of them with ludicrous unsuccess, and finally came to the monarch of them all, a glorious monster not included in the above table of dimensions, as most of those measured are still living, and all have the bark upon them still, while _the_ tree is to some extent barked and charred. When it stood erect in its live wrappings, it measured forty feet in diameter,--over one hundred and twenty in circumference! Estimates, grounded on the well-known principle of yearly cortical increase, indisputably throw back the birth of these largest giants as far as 1200 B. C. Thus their tender saplings were running up just as the gates of Troy were tumbling down, and some of them had fulfilled the lifetime of the late Hartford Charter-Oak when Solomon called his master-masons to refreshment from the building of the Temple. We cannot realize time-images as we can those of space by a reference to dimensions within experience, so that the age of these marvellous trees still remains to me an incomprehensible fact, though with my mind's eye I continue to see how mountain-massy they look, and how dwarfed is the man who leans against them. We lingered among them half a day, the artists making color-studies of the most picturesque, the rest of us _izing_ away at something scientific,--Botany, Entomology, or Statistics. In Geology and Mineralogy there is nothing to do here or in the Valley,--the formation all being typical Sierra-Nevada granite, with no specimens to keep or problems to solve. Of course our artists neither made nor expected to make anything like a realizing picture of the groves. The marvellous of size does not go into gilt frames. You paint a Big Tree, and it only looks like a common tree in a cramped coffin. To be sure, you can put a live figure against the butt for comparison; but, unless you take a canvas of the size of Haydon's, your picture is quite as likely to resemble Homunculus against an average timber-tree as a large man against _Sequoia gigantea_. What our artists did do was to get a capital transcript of the Big Trees' color,--a beautifully bright cinnamon-brown, which gives peculiar gayety to the forest, "making sunshine in the shady place"; also, their typical figure, which is a very lofty, straight, and branchless trunk, crowned almost at the summit by a mass of colossal gnarled boughs, slender plumy fronds, delicate thin leaves, and smooth cones scarce larger than a plover's egg. Perhaps the best idea of their figure may be obtained by fancying an Italian stone-pine grown out of recollection.
Between all the ridges we had hitherto crossed, silvery streams leaped down intensely cold through the granite chasms,--all of them fed from the snow-peaks, and charmingly picturesque,--most of them good trout-brooks, had we possessed time to try a throw; and now, on leaving Clark's, we crossed the largest of these, a fork of the Merced which flows through his valley. For twelve miles farther a series of tremendous climbs tasked us and our beasts to the utmost, but brought us quite _apropos_ at dinner-time to a lovely green meadow walled in on one side by near snow-peaks. A small brook running through it speedily furnished us with frogs enough for an _entrée_. Between two and three in the afternoon we set out upon the last stage of our pilgrimage. We were now nearly on a plane with the top of the mighty precipices which wall the Yo-Semite Valley, and for two hours longer found the trail easy, save where it crossed the bogs of summit-level springs.
Immediately after leaving the meadow where we dined we plunged again into the thick forest, where every now and then some splendid grouse or the beautiful plume-crowned California quail went whirring away from before our horses. Here and there a broad grizzly "sign" intersected our trail. The tall purple deer-weed, a magnificent scarlet flower of name unknown to me, and another blossom like the laburnum, endlessly varied in its shades of roseate, blue, or the compromised tints, made the hill-sides gorgeous beyond human gardening. All these were scentless; but one other flower, much rarer, made fragrance enough for all. This was the "Lady Washington," and much resembled a snowy day-lily with an odor of tuberoses. Our dense leafy surrounding hid from us the fact of our approach to the Valley's tremendous battlement, till our trail turned at a sharp angle and we stood on "Inspiration Point."
That name had appeared pedantic, but we found it only the spontaneous expression of our own feelings on the spot. We did not so much seem to be seeing from that crag of vision a new scene on the old familiar globe as a new heaven and a new earth into which the creative spirit had just been breathed. I hesitate now, as I did then, at the attempt to give my vision utterance. Never were words so beggared for an abridged translation of any Scripture of Nature.
We stood on the verge of a precipice more than three thousand feet in height,--a sheer granite wall, whose terrible perpendicular distance baffled all visual computation. Its foot was hidden among hazy green _spiculæ_--they might be tender spears of grass catching the slant sun on upheld aprons of cobweb, or giant pines whose tops that sun first gilt before he made gold of all the Valley.
There faced us another wall like our own. How far off it might be we could only guess. When Nature's lightning hits a man fair and square, it splits his yardstick. On recovering from this stroke, mathematicians have ascertained the width of the Valley to vary between half a mile and five miles. Where we stood the width is about two.
I said a wall like our own; but as yet we could not know that certainly, for of our own we saw nothing. Our eyes seemed spell-bound to the tremendous precipice which stood smiling, not frowning at us, in all the serene radiance of a snow-white granite Boodh,--broadly burning, rather than glistening, in the white-hot splendors of the setting sun. From that sun, clear back to the first _avant-courier_ trace of purple twilight flushing the eastern sky-rim--yes, as if it were the very butment of the eternally blue Californian heaven--ran that wall, always sheer as the plummet, without a visible break through which squirrel might climb or sparrow fly,--so broad that it was just faint-lined like the paper on which I write by the loftiest waterfall in the world,--so lofty that its very breadth could not dwarf it, while the mighty pines and Douglas firs which grew all along its edge seemed like mere cilia on the granite lid of the Great Valley's upgazing eye. In the first astonishment of the view, we took the whole battlement at a sweep, and seemed to see an unbroken sky-line; but as ecstasy gave way to examination, we discovered how greatly some portions of the precipice surpassed our immediate _vis-à-vis_ in height.
First, a little east of our off-look, there projected boldly into the Valley from the dominant line of the base a square stupendous tower that might have been hewn by the diamond adzes of the Genii for a second Babel-experiment, in expectance of the wrath of Allah. Here and there the tools had left a faint scratch, only deep as the width of Broadway and a bagatelle of five hundred feet in length; but that detracted no more from the unblemished four-square contour of the entire mass than a pin-mark from the symmetry of a door-post. A city might have been built on its grand flat top. And, oh! the gorgeous masses of light and shadow which the falling sun cast on it,--the shadows like great waves, the lights like their spumy tops and flying mist,--thrown up from the heaving breast of a golden sea! In California at this season the dome of heaven is cloudless; but I still dream of what must be done for the bringing-out of Tu-toch-anula's coronation-day majesties by the broken winter sky of fleece and fire. The height of his precipice is nearly four thousand feet perpendicular; his name is supposed to be that of the Valley's tutelar deity. He also rejoices in a Spanish _alias_,--some Mission Indian having attempted to translate by "_El Capitan_" the idea of divine authority implied in Tu-toch-anula.
Far up the Valley to the eastward there rose far above the rest of the sky-line, and nearly five thousand feet above the Valley, a hemisphere of granite, capping the sheer wall, without an apparent tree or shrub to hide its vast proportions. This we immediately recognized as the famous To-coy-æ, better known through Watkins's photographs as the Great North Dome. I am ignorant of the meaning of the former name, but the latter is certainly appropriate. Between Tu-toch-anula and the Dome, the wall rose here and there into great pinnacles and towers, but its sky-line is far more regular than that of the southern side, where we were standing.
We drew close to the edge of the precipice and looked along over our own wall up the Valley. Its contour was a rough curve from our stand-point to a station opposite the North Dome, where the Valley dwindles to its least width, so that all the intermediate crests and pinnacles which topped the perpendicular wall stood within our vision like the teeth of a saw, clear and sharp-cut against the blue sky. There is the same plumb-line uprightness in these mighty precipices as in those of the opposite side; but their front is much more broken by bold promontories, and their tabular tops, instead of lying horizontal, slope up at an angle of forty-five degrees or more from the spot where we were standing, and make a succession of oblique prism-sections whose upper edges are between three and four thousand feet in height. But the glory of this southern wall comes at the termination of our view opposite the North Dome. Here the precipice rises to the height of nearly one sheer mile with a parabolic sky-line, and its posterior surface is as elegantly rounded as an acorn-cup. From this contour results a naked semi-cone of polished granite, whose face would cover one of our smaller Eastern counties, though its exquisite proportions make it seem a thing to hold in the hollow of the hand. A small pine-covered _glacis_ of detritus lies at its foot, but every yard above that is bare of all life save the palæozoic memories which have wrinkled the granite Colossus from the earliest seethings of the fire-time. I never could call a Yo-Semite crag _inorganic_, as I used to speak of everything not strictly animal or vegetal. In the presence of the Great South Dome that utterance became blasphemous. Not living was it? Who knew but the _débris_ at its foot was merely the cast-off sweat and _exuviæ_ of a stone life's great work-day? Who knew but the vital changes which were going on within its gritty cellular tissue were only imperceptible to us because silent and vastly secular? What was he who stood up before Tis-sa-ack and said, "Thou art dead rock!" save a momentary sojourner in the bosom of a cyclic period whose clock his race had never yet lived long enough to hear strike? What, too, if Tis-sa-ack himself were but one of the atoms in a grand organism where we could see only by monads at a time,--if he and the sun and the sea were but cells or organs of some one small being in the fenceless _vivarium_ of the Universe? Let not the ephemeron that lights on a baby's hand generalize too rashly upon the non-growing of organisms! As we thought on these things, we bared our heads to the barer forehead of Tis-sa-ack.
I have spoken of the Great South Dome in the masculine gender, but the native tradition makes it feminine. Nowhere is there a more beautiful Indian legend than that of Tis-sa-ack. I will condense it into a few short sentences from the long report of an old Yo-Semite brave. Tis-sa-ack was the tutelar goddess of the Valley, as Tu-toch-anula was its fostering god,--the former a radiant maiden, the latter an ever-young immortal,--
"amorous as the month of May."
Becoming desperately fascinated with his fair colleague, Tu-toch-anula spent in her arms all the divine long days of the California summer, kissing, dallying, and lingering, until the Valley-tribes began to starve for lack of the crops which his supervision should have ripened, and a deputation of venerable men came from the dying people to prostrate themselves at the foot of Tis-sa-ack. Full of anguish at her nation's woes, she rose from her lover's arms, and cried for succor to the Great Spirit. Then, with a terrible noise of thunder, the mighty cone split from heaven to earth,--its frontal half falling down to dam the snow-waters back into a lake, whence to this day the beautiful Valley-stream takes one of its loveliest branches,--its other segment remaining erect till this present, to be the Great South Dome under the _in-memoriam_ title of Tis-sa-ack. But the divine maiden who died to save her people appeared on earth no more, and in his agony Tu-toch-anula carved her image on the face of the mile-high wall, as he had carved his own on the surface of El Capitan,--where a lively faith and good glasses may make out the effigies unto this day.
Sometimes these Indian traditions, being translated according to the doctrine of correspondences, are of great use to the scientific man,--in the present instance, as embalming with sweet spices a geological fact, and the reason of a water-course which else might become obscured by time. You may lose a rough fact because everybody is handling it and passing it around with the sense of a liberty to present it next in his own way; but a fact with its facets cut--otherwise a poem--is unchangeable, imperditable. Seeing it has been manufactured once, nobody tries to make it over again. The fact is regarded subject to liberal translation; poems circulate virgin and _verbatim_. In some future article I may recur to this topic with reference to the Columbia River, and the capital light afforded to delvers in its wondrous trap-rock by the lantern of Indian legend.
Let us leave the walls of the Valley to speak of the Valley itself, as seen from this great altitude. There lies a sweep of emerald grass turned to chrysoprase by the slant-beamed sun,--chrysoprase beautiful enough to have been the tenth foundation-stone of John's apocalyptic heaven. Broad and fair just beneath us, it narrows to a little strait of green between the butments that uplift the giant domes. Far to the westward, widening more and more, it opens into the bosom of great mountain-ranges,--into a field of perfect light, misty by its own excess,--into an unspeakable suffusion of glory created from the phoenix-pile of the dying sun. Here it lies almost as treeless as some rich old clover-mead; yonder, its luxuriant smooth grasses give way to a dense wood of cedars, oaks, and pines. Not a living creature, either man or beast, breaks the visible silence of this inmost paradise; but for ourselves, standing at the precipice, petrified, as it were, rock on rock, the great world might well be running back in stone-and-grassy dreams to the hour when God had given him as yet but two daughters, the crag and the clover. We were breaking into the sacred closet of Nature's self-examination. What if, on considering herself, she should of a sudden, and us-ward unawares, determine to begin the throes of a new cycle,--spout up remorseful lavas from her long-hardened conscience, and hurl us all skyward in a hot concrete with her unbosomed sins? Earth below was as motionless as the ancient heavens above, save for the shining serpent of the Merced, which silently to our ears threaded the middle of the grass, and twinkled his burnished back in the sunset wherever for a space he gilded out of the shadow of woods.
To behold this Promised Land proved quite a different thing from possessing it. Only the _silleros_ of the Andes, our mules, horses, and selves, can understand how much like a nightmare of endless roof-walking was the descent down the face of the precipice. A painful and most circuitous dug-way, where our animals had constantly to stop, lest their impetus should tumble them headlong, all the way past steeps where the mere thought of a side-fall was terror, brought us in the twilight to a green meadow, ringed by woods, on the banks of the Merced.
Here we pitched our first Yo-Semite camp,--calling it "Camp Rosalie," after a dear absent friend of mine and Bierstadt's. Removing our packs and saddles, we dismissed their weary bearers to the deep green meadow, with no farther qualification to their license than might be found in ropes seventy feet long fastened to deep-driven pickets. We soon got together dead wood and pitchy boughs enough to kindle a roaring fire,--made a kitchen-table by wedging logs between the trunks of a three-forked tree, and thatching these with smaller sticks,--selected a cedar-canopied piece of flat sward near the fire for our bed-room, and as high up as we could reach despoiled our fragrant _baldacchini_ for the mattresses. I need not praise to any woodsman the quality of a sleep on evergreen-strewings.
During our whole stay in the Valley, most of us made it our practice to rise with the dawn, and, immediately after a bath in the ice-cold Merced, take a breakfast which might sometimes fail in the game-department, but was an invariable success, considered as slapjacks and coffee. Then the loyal nephew of the Secesh governor and the testamentary guardian of the orphan mules brought our horses up from picket; then the artists with their camp-stools and color-boxes, the sages with their goggles, nets, botany-boxes, and bug-holders, the gentlemen of elegant leisure with their naked eyes and a fish-rod or a gun, all rode away whither they listed, firing back Parthian shots of injunction about the dumpling in the grouse-fricassee.
Sitting in their divine workshop, by a little after sunrise our artists began labor in that only method which can ever make a true painter or a living landscape, _color_-studies on the spot; and though I am not here to speak of their results, I will assert that during their seven weeks' camp in the Valley they learned more and gained greater material for future triumphs than they had gotten in all their lives before at the feet of the greatest masters. Meanwhile the other two vaguely divided orders of gentlemen and sages were sight-seeing, whipping the covert or the pool with various success for our next day's dinner, or hunting specimens of all kinds,--_Agassizing_, so to speak.
I cannot praise the Merced to that vulgar, yet extensive, class of sportsmen with whom fishing means nothing but catching fish,--to that select minority of _illuminati_ who go trouting for intellectual culture, because they cannot hear Booth or a _Sonata_ of Beethoven's,--who write rhapsodies of much fire and many pages on the divine superiority of the curve of an hyperbola over that of a parabola in the cast of a fly,--who call three little troutlings "_a splendid day's sport, me boy_!" because those rash and ill-advised infants have been deceived by a feather-bug which never would have been of any use to them, instead of a real worm which would. We, who can make prettier curves and deceive larger game in a dancing-party at home, did not go to the Yo-Semite for that kind of sport. When I found that the best bait or fly caught only half a dozen trout in an afternoon,--and those the dull, black, California kind, with lined sides, but no spots,--I gave over bothering the unambitious burghers of the flood with invitations to a rise in life, and took to the meadows with a butterfly-net.
My experience teaches that no sage (or gentleman) should chase the butterfly on horseback. You are liable to put your net over your horse's head instead of the butterfly. The butterfly keeps rather ahead of the horse. You may throw your horse when you mean to throw the net. The idea is a romantic one; it carries you back to the days of chivalry, when court-butterflies _were_ said to have been netted from the saddle,--but it carries you nowhere else in particular, unless perhaps into a small branch of the Merced, where you don't want to go. Then, too, if you slip down and leave your horse standing while you steal on a giant _Papilio_ which is sucking the deer-weed in _such_ a sweet spot for a cast, your horse (perhaps he has heard of the French general who said, "Asses and _savans_ to the centre!") may discover that he also is a sage, and retire to botanize while you are butterflying,--a contingency which entails your wading the Merced after him five several times, and finally going back to camp in wet disgust to procure another horse and a lariat. An experience faintly hinted at in the above suggestions soon convinced me that the great arm of the service in butterfly-warfare is infantry. After I had turned myself into a modest Retiarius, I had no end to success. Mariposa County is rightly named. The honey of its groves and meadows is sucked by some of the largest, the most magnificent, and most widely varied butterflies in the world.
At noon those of us who came back to camp had a substantial dinner out of our abundant stores, reinforced occasionally with grouse, quail, or pigeons, contributed by the sportsmen. The artists mostly dined _à la fourchette_, in their workshop,--something in a pail being carried out to them at noon by our Infant Phenomenon. He was a skeleton of thinness, and an incredibly gaunt mustang was the one which invariably carried the lunch; so we used to call the boy, when we saw him coming, "Death on the Pail-Horse." At evening, when the artists returned, half an hour was passed in a "private view" of their day's studies; then came another dinner, called a supper; then the tea-kettle was emptied into a pan, and brush-washing with talk and pipes led the rest of the genial way to bed-time.
In his charming "Peculiar," Epes Sargent has given us an episode called the "Story of Estelle." It is the greatest of compliments to him that I could get thoroughly interested in her lover, when he bore the name of one of the most audacious and _picaresque_ mortals I ever knew,--our hired man, who sold us--our----But hear my episode: it is
THE STORY OF VANCE.
Vance. The cognomen of the loyal nephew with the Secesh uncle. I will be brief. Our stores began to fail. One morning we equipped Vance with a horse, a pack-mule to lead behind him, a list of purchases, and eighty golden dollars, bidding him good-speed on the trail to Mariposa. He was to return laden with all the modern equivalents for corn, wine, and oil, on the fifth or sixth day from his departure. Seven days glided by, and the material for more slapjacks with them. We grew perilously nigh our bag-bottoms.
One morning I determined to save the party from starvation, and with a fresh supply of the currency set out for Mariposa. At Clark's I learned that our man had camped there about noon on the day he left us, turned his horse and mule loose, instead of picketing them, and spent the rest of the sunlight in a _siesta_. When he arose, his animals were undiscoverable. He accordingly borrowed Clark's only horse to go in search of them, and the generous hermit had not seen him since.
Carrying these pleasant bits of intelligence, I resumed my way toward the settlements. Coming by the steam saw-mill, I recognized Vance's steed grazing by the way-side, threw my lariat over his head, and led him in triumph to Mariposa. There I arrived at eight in the evening of the day I left the Valley,--having performed fifty miles of the hardest mountain-trail that was ever travelled in a little less than twelve hours, making allowance for our halt and noon-feed at Clark's. If ever a California horse was tried, it was mine on that occasion; and he came into Mariposa on the full gallop, scarcely wet, and not galled or jaded in the least.
Here I found our mule, whose obstinate memory had carried him home to his old stable,--also the remaining events in Vance's brief, but brilliant career. That ornament of the Utah and Yo-Semite expeditions had entered Mariposa on Clark's horse,--lost our eighty golden dollars at a single session of bluff,--departed gayly for Coulterville, where he sold Clark's horse at auction for forty dollars, including saddle and bridle, and immediately at another game of bluff lost the entire purchase-money to the happy buyer, (Clark got his horse again on proving title,)--and finally vanished for parts unknown, with nothing in his pocket but buttons, or in his memory but villanies. Nowhere out of California or Old Spain can there exist such a modern survivor of the days of Gil Blas!
Too happy in the recovery of Clark's and our own animals to waste time in hue-and-cry, I loaded my two reclaimed pack-beasts with all that our commissariat needed,--nooned at Clark's, on my way back, the third day after leaving the Valley for Mariposa, and that same night was among my rejoicing comrades at the head of the Great Yo-Semite. That afternoon they had come to the bottom of the flour-bag, after living for three days on unleavened slapjacks without either butter or sirup. I have seen people who professed to relish the Jewish Passover-bread; but, after such an experience as our party's, I venture to say they would have regarded it worthy of a place among the other abolished types of the Mosaic dispensation. As for me and the mule, we felt our hearts swell within us as if we had come to raise the siege of Leyden. In that same enthusiasm shared our artists, _savans_, and gentlemen, embracing the shaggy neck of the mule as he had been a brother what time they realized that his panniers were full. Can any one wonder at my early words, "A slapjack may be the last plank between the woodsman and starvation"?
Just before I started after supplies our party moved its camp to a position five miles up the Valley beyond Camp Rosalie, in a beautiful grove of oaks and cedars, close upon the most sinuous part of the Merced margin, with rich pasture for our animals immediately across the stream, and the loftiest cataract in the world roaring over the bleak precipice opposite. This is the Yo-Semite Fall proper, or, in the Indian, "Cho-looke." By the most recent geological surveys this fall is credited with the astounding height of twenty-eight hundred feet. At an early period the entire mass of water must have plunged that distance without break. At this day a single ledge of slant projection changes the headlong flood from cataract to rapids for about four hundred feet; but the unbroken upper fall is fifteen hundred feet, and the lower thirteen hundred. In the spring and early summer no more magnificent sight can be imagined than the tourist obtains from a stand-point right in the midst of the spray, driven, as by a wind blowing thirty miles an hour, from the thundering basin of the lower fall. At all seasons Cho-looke is the grandest mountain-waterfall in the known world.
While I am speaking of waterfalls, let me not omit "Po-ho-nó," or "The Bridal Veil," which was passed on the southern side in our way to the second and about a mile above the first camp. As Tis-sa-ack was a good, so is Po-ho-nó an evil spirit of the Indian mythology. This tradition is scientifically accounted for in the fact that many Indians have been carried over the fall by the tremendous current both of wind and water forever rushing down a _cañon_ through which the stream breaks from its feeding-lake twelve or fifteen miles before it falls. The savage lowers his voice to a whisper and crouches trembling past Po-ho-nó; while the very utterance of the name is so dreaded by him that the discoverers of the Valley obtained it with great difficulty. This fall drops on a heap of giant boulders in one unbroken sheet of a thousand feet perpendicular, thus being the next in height among all the Valley-cataracts to the Yo-Semite itself, and having a width of fifty feet. Its name of "The Bridal Veil" is one of the few successes in fantastic nomenclature; for, to one viewing it in profile, its snowy sheet, broken into the filmy silver lace of spray and falling quite free of the brow of the precipice, might well seem the veil worn by the earth at her granite wedding,--no commemorator of any fifty-years' bagatelle like the golden one, but crowning the one-millionth anniversary of her nuptials.
On either side of Po-ho-nó the sky-line of the precipice is magnificently varied. The fall itself cuts a deep gorge into the crown of the battlement. On the southwest border of the fall stands a nobly bold, but nameless rock, three thousand feet in height. Near by is Sentinel Rock, a solitary truncate pinnacle, towering to thirty-three hundred feet. A little farther are "Eleachas," or "The Three Brothers," flush with the front-surface of the precipice, but their upper posterior bounding-planes tilted in three tiers, which reach a height of thirty-four hundred and fifty feet.
One of the loveliest places in the Valley is the shore of Lake Ah-wi-yah,--a crystal pond of several acres in extent, fed by the north fork of the Valley-stream, and lying right at the mouth of the narrow strait between the North and South Domes. By this tranquil water we pitched our third camp, and when the rising sun began to shine through the mighty cleft before us, the play of color and _chiaroscuro_ on its rugged walls was something for which an artist apt to oversleep himself might well have sat up all the night. No such precaution was needed by ourselves. Painters, sages, and gentlemen at large, all turned out by dawn; for the studies were grander, the grouse and quail plentier, and the butterflies more gorgeous than we found in any other portion of the Valley. After passing the great cleft eastward, I found the river more enchanting at every step. I was obliged to penetrate in this direction entirely on foot,--clambering between squared blocks of granite dislodged from the wall beneath the North Dome, any one of which might have been excavated into a commodious church, and discovering, for the pains cost by a reconnoissance of five miles, some of the loveliest shady stretches of singing water and some of the finest minor waterfalls in our American scenery.
Our last camp was pitched among the crags and forests behind the South Dome,--where the Middle Fork descends through two successive waterfalls, which, in apparent breadth and volume, far surpass Cho-looke, while the loftiest is nearly as high as Po-ho-nó. About three miles west of the Domes, the south wall of the Valley is interrupted by a deep _cañon_ leading in a nearly southeast direction. Through this _cañon_ comes the Middle Fork, and along its banks lies our course to the great "Pi-wi-ack" (senselessly Englished as "Vernal") and the Nevada Falls. For three miles from our camp opposite the Yo-Semite Fall the _cañon_ is threaded by a trail practicable for horses. At its termination we dismounted, sent back our animals, and, strapping their loads upon our own shoulders, struck nearly eastward by a path only less rugged than the trackless crags around us. In some places we were compelled to squeeze sideways through a narrow crevice in the rocks, at imminent danger to our burden of blankets and camp-kettles; in others we became quadrupedal, scrambling up acclivities with which the bald main precipice had made but slight compromise. But for our light marching order,--our only dress being knee-boots, hunting-shirt, and trowsers,--it would have been next to impossible to reach our goal at all.
But none of us regretted pouring sweat or strained sinews, when, at the end of our last terrible climb, we stood upon the oozy sod which is brightened into eternal emerald by the spray of Pi-wi-ack. Far below our slippery standing steeply sloped the walls of the ragged chasm down which the snowy river charges roaring after its first headlong plunge; an eternal rainbow flung its shimmering arch across the mighty caldron at the base of the fall; and straight before us in one unbroken leap came down Pi-wi-ack from a granite shelf nearly four hundred feet in height and sixty feet in perfectly horizontal width. Some enterprising speculator, who has since ceased to take the original seventy-five cents' toll, a few years ago built a substantial set of rude ladders against the perpendicular wall over which Pi-wi-ack rushes. We found it still standing, and climbed the dizzy height in a shower of spray, so close to the edge of the fall that we could almost wet our hands in its rim. Once at the top, we found that Nature had been as accommodating to the sight-seer as man himself; for the ledge we landed on was a perfect breastwork, built from the receding precipices on either side of the _cañon_ to the very crown of the cataract. The weakest nerves need not have trembled, when once within the parapet, on the smooth, flat rampart, and looking down into the tremendous boiling chasm whence we had just climbed.
Above Pi-wi-ack the river runs for a mile at the bottom of a granite cradle, sloping upward from it on each side at an angle of about forty-five degrees, in great tabular masses slippery as ice, without a crevice in them for thirty yards at a stretch where even the scraggiest _manzanita_ may catch hold and grow. This tilted formation, broken here and there by spots of scanty alluvium and stunted pines, continues upward till it intersects the posterior cone of the South Dome on one side and a colossal castellated precipice on the other,--creating thus the very typical landscape of sublime desolation. The shining barrenness of these rocks, and the utter nakedness of that vast glittering dome which hollows the heavens beyond them, cannot be conveyed by any metaphor to a reader knowing only the wood-crowned slopes of the Alleghany chain.
Climbing between the stunted pines and giant blocks along the stream's immediate margin,--getting glimpses here and there of the snowy fretwork of churned water which laced the higher rocks, and the black whirls which spun in the deep pits of the roaring bed beneath us,--we came at last to the base of "Yo-wi-ye," or Nevada Fall.
This is the most voluminous, and next to Pi-wi-ack, perhaps, the most beautiful of the Yo-Semite cataracts. Its beauty is partly owing to the surrounding rugged grandeur which contrasts it, partly to its great height (eight hundred feet) and surpassing volume, but mainly to its exquisite and unusual shape. It falls from a precipice the highest portion of whose face is as smoothly perpendicular as the wall overleapt by Pi-wi-ack; but invisibly beneath its snowy flood a ledge slants sideways from the cliff about a hundred feet below the crown of the fall, and at an angle of about thirty degrees from the plumb-line. Over this ledge the water is deflected upon one side and spread like a half-open fan to the width of nearly two hundred feet.
At the base of Yo-wi-ye we seem standing in a _cul-de-sac_ of Nature's grandest labyrinth. Look where we will, impregnable battlements hem us in. We gaze at the sky from the bottom of a savage granite _barathrum_, whence there is no escape but return through the chinks and over the crags of an Old-World convulsion. We are at the end of the stupendous series of Yo-Semite _effects_; eight hundred feet above us, could we climb there, we should find the silent causes of power. There lie the broad, still pools that hold the reserved affluence of the snow-peaks; thence might we see, glittering like diamond lances in the sun, the eternal snow-peaks themselves. But these would still be as far above us as we stood below Yo-wi-ye on the lowest valley-bottom whence we came. Even from Inspiration Point, where our trail first struck the battlement, we could see far beyond the Valley to the rising sun, towering mightily above Tis-sa-ack herself, the everlasting snow-forehead of Castle Rock, his crown's serrated edge cutting the sky at the topmost height of the Sierra. We had spoken of reaching him,--of holding converse with the King of all the Giants. This whole weary way have we toiled since then,--and we know better now. Have we endured all these pains only to learn still deeper Life's saddest lesson,--"Climb forever, and there is still an Inaccessible"?
Wetting our faces with the melted treasure of Nature's topmost treasure-house, Yo-wi-ye answers us ere we turn back from the Yo-Semite's last precipice toward the haunts of men:--
"Ye who cannot go to the Highest, lo, the Highest comes down to you!"
HOUSE AND HOME PAPERS.
BY CHRISTOPHER CROWFIELD.
"My dear Chris," said my wife, "isn't it time to be writing the next 'House and Home Paper'?"
I was lying back in my study-chair, with my heels luxuriously propped on an ottoman, reading for the two-hundredth time Hawthorne's "Mosses from an Old Manse," or his "Twice-Told Tales," I forget which,--I only know that these books constitute my cloud-land, where I love to sail away in dreamy quietude, forgetting the war, the price of coal and flour, the rates of exchange, and the rise and fall of gold. What do all these things matter, as seen from those enchanted gardens in Padua where the weird Rappaccini tends his enchanted plants, and his gorgeous daughter fills us with the light and magic of her presence, and saddens us with the shadowy allegoric mystery of her preternatural destiny? But my wife represents the positive forces of time, place, and number in our family, and, having also a chronological head, she knows the day of the month, and therefore gently reminded me that by inevitable dates the time drew near for preparing my--which is it now, May or June number?
"Well, my dear, you are right," I said, as by an exertion I came head-uppermost, and laid down the fascinating volume. "Let me see, what was I to write about?"
"Why, you remember you were to answer that letter from the lady who does her own work."
"Enough!" said I, seizing the pen with alacrity; "you have hit the exact phrase:--
"'The _lady_ who _does her own work_.'"
* * * * *
America is the only country where such a title is possible,--the only country where there is a class of women who may be described as _ladies_ who do their own work. By a lady we mean a woman of education, cultivation, and refinement, of liberal tastes and ideas, who, without any very material additions or changes, would be recognized as a lady in any circle of the Old World or the New.
What I have said is, that the existence of such a class is a fact peculiar to American society, a clear, plain result of the new principles involved in the doctrine of universal equality.
When the colonists first came to this country, of however mixed ingredients their ranks might have been composed, and however imbued with the spirit of feudal and aristocratic ideas, the discipline of the wilderness soon brought them to a democratic level; the gentleman felled the wood for his log-cabin side by side with the ploughman, and thews and sinews rose in the market. "A man was deemed honorable in proportion as he lifted his hand upon the high trees of the forest." So in the interior domestic circle. Mistress and maid, living in a log-cabin together, became companions, and sometimes the maid, as the more accomplished and stronger, took precedence of the mistress. It became natural and unavoidable that children should begin to work as early as they were capable of it. The result was a generation of intelligent people brought up to labor from necessity, but turning on the problem of labor the acuteness of a disciplined brain. The mistress, outdone in sinews and muscles by her maid, kept her superiority by skill and contrivance. If she could not lift a pail of water, she could invent methods which made lifting the pail unnecessary,--if she could not take a hundred steps without weariness, she could make twenty answer the purpose of a hundred.
Slavery, it is true, was to some extent introduced into New England, but it never suited the genius of the people, never struck deep root, or spread so as to choke the good seed of self-helpfulness. Many were opposed to it from conscientious principle,--many from far-sighted thrift, and from a love of thoroughness and well-doing which despised the rude, unskilled work of barbarians. People, having once felt the thorough neatness and beauty of execution which came of free, educated, and thoughtful labor, could not tolerate the clumsiness of slavery. Thus it came to pass that for many years the rural population of New England, as a general rule, did their own work, both out doors and in. If there were a black man or black woman or bound girl, they were emphatically only the _helps_, following humbly the steps of master and mistress, and used by them as instruments of lightening certain portions of their toil. The master and mistress with their children were the head workers.
Great merriment has been excited in the Old Country, because years ago the first English travellers found that the class of persons by them denominated servants were in America denominated _help_ or helpers. But the term was the very best exponent of the state of society. There were few servants, in the European sense of the word; there was a society of educated workers, where all were practically equal, and where, if there was a deficiency in one family and an excess in another, a _helper_, not a servant, was hired. Mrs. Browne, who has six sons and no daughters, enters into agreement with Mrs. Jones, who has six daughters and no sons. She borrows a daughter, and pays her good wages to help in her domestic toil, and sends a son to help the labors of Mr. Jones. These two young people go into the families in which they are to be employed in all respects as equals and companions, and so the work of the community is equalized. Hence arose, and for many years continued, a state of society more nearly solving than any other ever did the problem of combining the highest culture of the mind with the highest culture of the muscles and the physical faculties.
Then were to be seen families of daughters, handsome, strong females, rising each day to their in-door work with cheerful alertness,--one to sweep the room, another to make the fire, while a third prepared the breakfast for the father and brothers who were going out to manly labor; and they chatted meanwhile of books, studies, embroidery, discussed the last new poem, or some historical topic started by graver reading, or perhaps a rural ball that was to come off the next week. They spun with the book tied to the distaff; they wove; they did all manner of fine needle-work; they made lace, painted flowers, and, in short, in the boundless consciousness of activity, invention, and perfect health, set themselves to any work they had ever read or thought of. A bride in those days was married with sheets and table-cloths of her own weaving, with counterpanes and toilet-covers wrought in divers embroidery by her own and her sisters' hands. The amount of fancy-work done in our days by girls who have nothing else to do will not equal what was done by these, who performed besides, among them, the whole work of the family.
For many years these habits of life characterized the majority of our rural towns. They still exist among a class respectable in numbers and position, though perhaps not as happy in perfect self-satisfaction and a conviction of the dignity and desirableness of its lot as in former days. Human nature is above all things--lazy. Every one confesses in the abstract that exertion which brings out all the powers of body and mind is the best thing for us all; but practically most people do all they can to get rid of it, and as a general rule nobody does much more than circumstances drive him to do. Even I would not write this article, were not the publication-day hard on my heels. I should read Hawthorne and Emerson and Holmes, and dream in my arm-chair, and project in the clouds those lovely unwritten stories that curl and veer and change like mist-wreaths in the sun. So, also, however dignified, however invigorating, however really desirable are habits of life involving daily physical toil, there is a constant evil demon at every one's elbow, seducing him to evade it, or to bear its weight with sullen, discontented murmurs.
I will venture to say that there are at least, to speak very moderately, a hundred houses where these humble lines will be read and discussed, where there are no servants except the ladies of the household. I will venture to say, also, that these households, many of them, are not inferior in the air of cultivation and refined elegance to many which are conducted by the ministration of domestics. I will venture to assert, furthermore, that these same ladies who live thus find quite as much time for reading, letter-writing, drawing, embroidery, and fancy-work, as the women of families otherwise arranged. I am quite certain that they would be found on an average to be in the enjoyment of better health, and more of that sense of capability and vitality which gives one confidence in one's ability to look into life and meet it with cheerful courage, than three-quarters of the women who keep servants,--and that on the whole their domestic establishment is regulated more exactly to their mind, their food prepared and served more to their taste. And yet, with all this, I will _not_ venture to assert that they are satisfied with this way of living, and that they would not change it forthwith, if they could. They have a secret feeling all the while that they are being abused, that they are working harder than they ought to, and that women who live in their houses like boarders, who have only to speak and it is done, are the truly enviable ones. One after another of their associates, as opportunity offers and means increase, desert the ranks, and commit their domestic affairs to the hands of hired servants. Self-respect takes the alarm. Is it altogether genteel to live as we do? To be sure, we are accustomed to it; we have it all systematized and arranged; the work of our own hands suits us better than any we can hire; in fact, when we do hire, we are discontented and uncomfortable,--for who will do for us what we will do for ourselves? But when we have company! there's the rub, to get out all our best things and put them back,--to cook the meals and wash the dishes ingloriously,--and to make all appear as if we didn't do it, and had servants like other people.
There, after all, is the rub. A want of hardy self-belief and self-respect,--an unwillingness to face with dignity the actual facts and necessities of our situation in life,--this, after all, is the worst and most dangerous feature of the case. It is the same sort of pride which makes Smilax think he must hire a waiter in white gloves, and get up a circuitous dinner-party on English principles, to entertain a friend from England. Because the friend in England lives in such and such a style, he must make believe for a day that he lives so too, when in fact it is a whirlwind in his domestic establishment equal to a removal or a fire, and threatens the total extinction of Mrs. Smilax. Now there are two principles of hospitality that people are very apt to overlook. One is, that their guests like to be made at home, and treated with confidence; and another is, that people are always interested in the details of a way of life that is new to them. The Englishman comes to America as weary of his old, easy, family-coach life as you can be of yours; he wants to see something new under the sun,--something American; and forthwith we all bestir ourselves to give him something as near as we can fancy exactly like what he is already tired of. So city-people come to the country, not to sit in the best parlor, and to see the nearest imitation of city-life, but to lie on the hay-mow, to swing in the barn, to form intimacy with the pigs, chickens, and ducks, and to eat baked potatoes exactly on the critical moment when they are done, from the oven of the cooking-stove,--and we remark, _en passant_, that nobody has ever truly eaten a baked potato, unless he has seized it at that precise and fortunate moment.
I fancy you now, my friends, whom I have in my eye. You are three happy women together. You are all so well that you know not how it feels to be sick. You are used to early rising, and would not lie in bed, if you could. Long years of practice have made you familiar with the shortest, neatest, most expeditious method of doing every household office, so that really for the greater part of the time in your house there seems to a looker-on to be nothing to do. You rise in the morning and despatch your husband, father, and brothers to the farm or wood-lot; you go sociably about chatting with each other, while you skim the milk, make the butter, turn the cheeses. The forenoon is long; it's ten to one that all the so-called morning work is over, and you have leisure for an hour's sewing or reading before it is time to start the dinner-preparations. By two o'clock your house-work is done, and you have the long afternoon for books, needle-work, or drawing,--for perhaps there is among you one with a gift at her pencil. Perhaps one of you reads aloud while the others sew, and you manage in that way to keep up with a great deal of reading. I see on your book-shelves Prescott, Macaulay, Irving, besides the lighter fry of poems and novels, and, if I mistake not, the friendly covers of the "Atlantic." When you have company, you invite Mrs. Smith or Brown or Jones to tea; you have no trouble; they come early, with their knitting or sewing; your particular crony sits with you by your polished stove while you watch the baking of those light biscuits and tea-rusks for which you are so famous, and Mrs. Somebody-else chats with your sister, who is spreading the table with your best china in the best room. When tea is over, there is plenty of volunteering to help you wash your pretty India teacups, and get them back into the cupboard. There is no special fatigue or exertion in all this, though you have taken down the best things and put them back, because you have done all without anxiety or effort, among those who would do precisely the same, if you were their visitors.
But now comes down pretty Mrs. Simmons and her pretty daughter to spend a week with you, and forthwith you are troubled. Your youngest, Fanny, visited them in New York last fall, and tells you of their cook and chambermaid, and the servant in white gloves that waits on table. You say in your soul, "What shall we do? they never can be contented to live as we do; how shall we manage?" And now you long for servants.
This is the very time that you should know that Mrs. Simmons is tired to death of her fine establishment, and weighed down with the task of keeping the peace among her servants. She is a quiet soul, dearly loving her ease, and hating strife; and yet last week she had five quarrels to settle between her invaluable cook and the other members of her staff, because invaluable cook, on the strength of knowing how to get up state-dinners and to manage all sorts of mysteries which her mistress knows nothing about, asserts the usual right of spoiled favorites to insult all her neighbors with impunity, and rule with a rod of iron over the whole house. Anything that is not in the least like her own home and ways of living will be a blessed relief and change to Mrs. Simmons. Your clean, quiet house, your delicate cookery, your cheerful morning tasks, if you will let her follow you about, and sit and talk with you while you are at your work, will all seem a pleasant contrast to her own life. Of course, if it came to the case of offering to change lots in life, she would not do it; but very likely she _thinks_ she would, and sighs over and pities herself, and thinks sentimentally how fortunate you are, how snugly and securely you live, and wishes she were as untrammelled and independent as you. And she is more than half right; for, with her helpless habits, her utter ignorance of the simplest facts concerning the reciprocal relations of milk, eggs, butter, saleratus, soda, and yeast, she is completely the victim and slave of the person she pretends to rule.
Only imagine some of the frequent scenes and rehearsals in her family. After many trials, she at last engages a seamstress who promises to prove a perfect treasure,--neat, dapper, nimble, skilful, and spirited. The very soul of Mrs. Simmons rejoices in heaven. Illusive bliss! The new-comer proves to be no favorite with Madam Cook, and the domestic fates evolve the catastrophe, as follows. First, low murmur of distant thunder in the kitchen; then a day or two of sulky silence, in which the atmosphere seems heavy with an approaching storm. At last comes the climax. The parlor-door flies open during breakfast. Enter seamstress, in tears, followed by Mrs. Cook with a face swollen and red with wrath, who tersely introduces the subject-matter of the drama in a voice trembling with rage.
"Would you be plased, Ma'am, to suit yersilf with another cook? Me week will be up next Tuesday, and I want to be going."
"Why, Bridget, what's the matter?"
"Matter enough, Ma'am! I niver could live with them Cork girls in a house, nor I won't; them as likes the Cork girls is welcome for all me; but it's not for the likes of me to live with them, and she been in the kitchen a-upsettin' of me gravies with her flat-irons and things."
Here bursts in the seamstress with a whirlwind of denial, and the altercation wages fast and furious, and poor, little, delicate Mrs. Simmons stands like a kitten in a thunder-storm in the midst of a regular Irish row.
Cook, of course, is sure of her victory. She knows that a great dinner is to come off Wednesday, and that her mistress has not the smallest idea how to manage it, and that, therefore, whatever happens, she must be conciliated.
Swelling with secret indignation at the tyrant, poor Mrs. Simmons dismisses her seamstress with longing looks. She suited her mistress exactly, but she didn't suit cook!
Now, if Mrs. Simmons had been brought up in early life with the experience that _you_ have, she would be mistress in her own house. She would quietly say to Madam Cook, "If my family-arrangements do not suit you, you can leave. I can see to the dinner myself." And she _could_ do it. Her well-trained muscles would not break down under a little extra work; her skill, adroitness, and perfect familiarity with everything that is to be done would enable her at once to make cooks of any bright girls of good capacity who might still be in her establishment; and, above all, she would feel herself mistress in her own house. This is what would come of an experience in doing her own work as you do. She who can at once put her own trained hand to the machine in any spot where a hand is needed never comes to be the slave of a coarse, vulgar Irish-woman.
So, also, in forming a judgment of what is to be expected of servants in a given time, and what ought to be expected of a given amount of provisions, poor Mrs. Simmons is absolutely at sea. If even for one six months in her life she had been a practical cook, and had really had the charge of the larder, she would not now be haunted, as she constantly is, by an indefinite apprehension of an immense wastefulness, perhaps of the disappearance of provisions through secret channels of relationship and favoritism. She certainly could not be made to believe in the absolute necessity of so many pounds of sugar, quarts of milk, and dozens of eggs, not to mention spices and wine, as are daily required for the accomplishment of Madam Cook's purposes. But though now she does suspect and apprehend, she cannot speak with certainty. She cannot say, "_I_ have made these things. I know exactly what they require. I have done this and that myself, and know it can be done, and done well, in a certain time." It is said that women who have been accustomed to doing their own work become hard mistresses. They are certainly more sure of the ground they stand on,--they are less open to imposition,--they can speak and act in their own houses more as those "having authority," and therefore are less afraid to exact what is justly their due, and less willing to endure impertinence and unfaithfulness. Their general error lies in expecting that any servant ever will do as well for them as they will do for themselves, and that an untrained, undisciplined human being ever _can_ do house-work, or any other work, with the neatness and perfection that a person of trained intelligence can. It has been remarked in our armies that the men of cultivation, though bred in delicate and refined spheres, can bear up under the hardships of camp-life better and longer than rough laborers. The reason is, that an educated mind knows how to use and save its body, to work it and spare it, as an uneducated mind cannot; and so the college-bred youth brings himself safely through fatigues which kill the unreflective laborer. Cultivated, intelligent women, who are brought up to do the work of their own families, are labor-saving institutions. They make the head save the wear of the muscles. By forethought, contrivance, system, and arrangement, they lessen the amount to be done, and do it with less expense of time and strength than others. The old New-England motto, _Get your work done up in the forenoon_, applied to an amount of work which would keep a common Irish servant toiling from daylight to sunset.
A lady living in one of our obscure New-England towns, where there were no servants to be hired, at last by sending to a distant city succeeded in procuring a raw Irish maid-of-all-work, a creature of immense bone and muscle, but of heavy, unawakened brain. In one fortnight she established such a reign of Chaos and old Night in the kitchen and through the house, that her mistress, a delicate woman, incumbered with the care of young children, began seriously to think that she made more work each day than she performed, and dismissed her. What was now to be done? Fortunately, the daughter of a neighboring farmer was going to be married in six months, and wanted a little ready money for her _trousseau_. The lady was informed that Miss So-and-so would come to her, not as a servant, but as hired "help." She was fain to accept any help with gladness. Forthwith came into the family-circle a tall, well-dressed young person, grave, unobtrusive, self-respecting, yet not in the least presuming, who sat at the family-table and observed all its decorums with the modest self-possession of a lady. The new-comer took a survey of the labors of a family of ten members, including four or five young children, and, looking, seemed at once to throw them into system, matured her plans, arranged her hours of washing, ironing, baking, cleaning, rose early, moved deftly, and in a single day the slatternly and littered kitchen assumed that neat, orderly appearance that so often strikes one in New-England farm-houses. The work seemed to be all gone. Everything was nicely washed, brightened, put in place, and stayed in place; the floors, when cleaned, remained clean; the work was always done, and not doing; and every afternoon the young lady sat neatly dressed in her own apartment, either quietly writing letters to her betrothed, or sewing on her bridal outfit. Such is the result of employing those who have been brought up to do their own work. That tall, fine-looking girl, for aught we know, may yet be mistress of a fine house on Fifth Avenue; and if she is, she will, we fear, prove rather an exacting mistress to Irish Biddy and Bridget; but _she_ will never be threatened by her cook and chambermaid, after the first one or two have tried the experiment.
* * * * *
Having written thus far on my article, I laid it aside till evening, when, as usual, I was saluted by the inquiry, "Has papa been writing anything to-day?" and then followed loud petitions to hear it; and so I read as far, reader, as you have.
"Well, papa," said Jennie, "what are you meaning to make out there? Do you really think it would be best for us all to try to go back to that old style of living you describe? After all, you have shown only the dark side of an establishment with servants, and the bright side of the other way of living. Mamma does not have such trouble with her servants; matters have always gone smoothly in our family; and if we are not such wonderful girls as those you describe, yet we may make pretty good housekeepers on the modern system, after all."
"You don't know all the troubles your mamma has had in your day," said my wife. "I have often, in the course of my family-history, seen the day when I have heartily wished for the strength and ability to manage my household matters as my grandmother of notable memory managed hers. But I fear that those remarkable women of the olden times are like the ancient painted glass,--the art of making them is lost; my mother was less than her mother, and I am less than my mother."
"And Marianne and I come out entirely at the little end of the horn," said Jennie, laughing; "yet I wash the breakfast-cups and dust the parlors, and have always fancied myself a notable housekeeper."
"It is just as I told you," I said. "Human nature is always the same. Nobody ever is or does more than circumstances force him to be and do. Those remarkable women of old were made by circumstances. There were, comparatively speaking, no servants to be had, and so children were trained to habits of industry and mechanical adroitness from the cradle, and every household process was reduced to the very minimum of labor. Every step required in a process was counted, every movement calculated; and she who took ten steps, when one would do, lost her reputation for 'faculty.' Certainly such an early drill was of use in developing the health and the bodily powers, as well as in giving precision to the practical mental faculties. All household economies were arranged with equal niceness in those thoughtful minds. A trained housekeeper knew just how many sticks of hickory of a certain size were required to heat her oven, and how many of each different kind of wood. She knew by a sort of intuition just what kinds of food would yield the most palatable nutriment with the least outlay of accessories in cooking. She knew to a minute the time when each article must go into and be withdrawn from her oven; and if she could only lie in her chamber and direct, she could guide an intelligent child through the processes with mathematical certainty. It is impossible, however, that anything but early training and long experience can produce these results, and it is earnestly to be wished that the grandmothers of New England had only written down their experiences for our children; they would have been a mine of maxims and traditions, better than any other traditions of the elders which we know of."
"One thing I know," said Marianne,--"and that is, I wish I had been brought up so, and knew all that I should, and had all the strength and adroitness that those women had. I should not dread to begin housekeeping, as I now do. I should feel myself independent. I should feel that I knew how to direct my servants, and what it was reasonable and proper to expect of them; and then, as you say, I shouldn't be dependent on all their whims and caprices of temper. I dread those household storms, of all things."
Silently pondering these anxieties of the young expectant housekeeper, I resumed my pen, and concluded my paper as follows.
* * * * *
In this country, our democratic institutions have removed the superincumbent pressure which in the Old World confines the servants to a regular orbit. They come here feeling that this is somehow a land of liberty, and with very dim and confused notions of what liberty is. They are for the most part the raw, untrained Irish peasantry, and the wonder is, that, with all the unreasoning heats and prejudices of the Celtic blood, all the necessary ignorance and rawness, there should be the measure of comfort and success there is in our domestic arrangements. But, so long as things are so, there will be constant changes and interruptions in every domestic establishment, and constantly recurring interregnums when the mistress must put her own hand to the work, whether the hand be a trained or an untrained one. As matters now are, the young housekeeper takes life at the hardest. She has very little strength,--no experience to teach her how to save her strength. She knows nothing experimentally of the simplest processes necessary to keep her family comfortably fed and clothed; and she has a way of looking at all these things which makes them particularly hard and distasteful to her. She does not escape being obliged to do house-work at intervals, but she does it in a weak, blundering, confused way, that makes it twice as hard and disagreeable as it need be.
Now what I have to say is, that, if every young woman learned to do house-work and cultivated her practical faculties in early life, she would, in the first place, be much more likely to keep her servants, and, in the second place, if she lost them temporarily, would avoid all that wear and tear of the nervous system which comes from constant ill-success in those departments on which family health and temper mainly depend. This is one of the peculiarities of our American life which require a peculiar training. Why not face it sensibly?
The second thing I have to say is, that our land is now full of motorpathic institutions to which women are sent at great expense to have hired operators stretch and exercise their inactive muscles. They lie for hours to have their feet twigged, their arms flexed, and all the different muscles of the body worked for them, because they are so flaccid and torpid that the powers of life do not go on. Would it not be quite as cheerful and less expensive a process, if young girls from early life developed the muscles in sweeping, dusting, ironing, rubbing furniture, and all the multiplied domestic processes which our grandmothers knew of? A woman who did all these, and diversified the intervals with spinning on the great and little wheel, never came to need the gymnastics of Dio Lewis or of the Swedish motorpathist, which really are a necessity now. Does it not seem poor economy to pay servants for letting our muscles grow feeble, and then to pay operators to exercise them for us? I will venture to say that our grandmothers in a week went over every movement that any gymnast has invented, and went over them to some productive purpose too.
Lastly, my paper will not have been in vain, if those ladies who have learned and practise the invaluable accomplishment of doing their own work will know their own happiness and dignity, and properly value their great acquisition, even though it may have been forced upon them by circumstances.
APRIL 23, 1864.
"Who claims our Shakspeare from that realm unknown, Beyond the storm-vexed islands of the deep, Where Genoa's deckless caravels were blown? Her twofold Saint's-day let our England keep; Shall warring aliens share her holy task?" The Old-World echoes ask.
O land of Shakspeare! ours with all thy past, Till these last years that make the sea so wide, Think not the jar of battle's trumpet-blast Has dulled our aching sense to joyous pride In every noble word thy sons bequeathed The air our fathers breathed!
War-wasted, haggard, panting from the strife, We turn to other days and far-off lands, Live o'er in dreams the Poet's faded life, Come with fresh lilies in our fevered hands To wreathe his bust, and scatter purple flowers,-- Not his the need, but ours!
We call those poets who are first to mark Through earth's dull mist the coming of the dawn,-- Who see in twilight's gloom the first pale spark, While others only note that day is gone; For him the Lord of light the curtain rent That veils the firmament.
The greatest for its greatness is half known, Stretching beyond our narrow quadrant-lines,-- As in that world of Nature all outgrown Where Calaveras lifts his awful pines, And cast from Mariposa's mountain-wall Nevada's cataracts fall.
Yet heaven's remotest orb is partly ours, Throbbing its radiance like a beating heart; In the wide compass of angelic powers The instinct of the blindworm has its part; So in God's kingliest creature we behold The flower our buds infold.
With no vain praise we mock the stone-carved name Stamped once on dust that moved with pulse and breath, As thinking to enlarge that amplest fame Whose undimmed glories gild the night of death: We praise not star or sun; in these we see Thee, Father, only Thee!
Thy gifts are beauty, wisdom, power, and love: We read, we reverence on this human soul,-- Earth's clearest mirror of the light above,-- Plain as the record on Thy prophet's scroll, When o'er his page the effluent splendors poured, Thine own, "Thus saith the Lord!"
This player was a prophet from on high, Thine own elected. Statesman, poet, sage, For him Thy sovereign pleasure passed them by,-- Sidney's fair youth, and Raleigh's ripened age, Spenser's chaste soul, and his imperial mind Who taught and shamed mankind.
Therefore we bid our hearts' _Te Deum_ rise, Nor fear to make Thy worship less divine, And hear the shouted choral shake the skies, Counting all glory, power, and wisdom Thine,-- For Thy great gift Thy greater name adore, And praise Thee evermore!
In this dread hour of Nature's utmost need, Thanks for these unstained drops of freshening dew! Oh, while our martyrs fall, our heroes bleed, Keep us to every sweet remembrance true, Till from this blood-red sunset springs new-born Our Nation's second morn!
HOW TO USE VICTORY.
The policy of the nation, since the war began, has been eminently the Anglo-Saxon policy. That is to say, we have not adapted our actions to any preconceived theory, nor to any central idea. From the President downward, every one has done as well as he could in every single day, doubtful, and perhaps indifferent, as to what he should do the next day. This is the method dear to the Anglo-Saxon mind. The English writers acknowledge this; they call it the "practical system," and make an especial boast that it is the method of their theology, their philosophy, their physical science, their manufactures, and their trade. In the language of philosophy, it directs us "to do the duty that comes next us"; in a figure drawn from the card-table, it bids us "follow our hand." The only branch of the Keltic race which adopts it expresses it in the warlike direction, "When you see a head, hit it."
We have no objection to make to this so-called practical system in the present case, if it only be broadly and generously adopted. If it reduce us to a war of posts, to hand-to-mouth finance, and to that wretched bureau-administration which thinks the day's work is done when the day's letters have been opened, docketed, and answered, it becomes, it is true, a very unpractical system, and soon reduces a great state to be a very little one. But if the men who direct any country will, in good faith, enlarge their view every day, from their impressions of yesterday to the new realities of to-day,--if they will rise at once to the new demands of to-day, and meet those demands under the new light of to-day,--all the better is it, undoubtedly, if they are not hampered by traditionary theories, if they are even indifferent as to the consistency of their record, and are, thus, as able as they are willing to work out God's present will with all their power. For it must be that the present light of noonday will guide us better at noonday than any prophecies which we could make at midnight or at dawn.
The country, at this moment, demands this broad and generous use of its great present advantages. In three years of sacrifice we have won extraordinary victories. We have driven back the beach-line of rebellion so that its territory is now two islands, both together of not half the size of the continent which it boasted when it began. We have seen such demonstrations of loyalty and the love of liberty that we dare say that this is to be one free nation, as we never dared say it before the war began. We are on the edge, as we firmly believe, of yet greater victories, both in the field and in the conscience of the nation. The especial demand, then, made on our statesmen, and on that intelligent people which, as it appears, leads the statesmen, instead of being led by them, is, "How shall we use our victories?" We have no longer the right to say that the difficult questions will settle themselves. We must not say that Providence will take care of them. We must not say that we are trying experiments. The time for all this has gone by. We have won victories. We are going to win more. We must show we know how to use them.
As our armies advance, for instance, very considerable regions of territory come, for the time, under the military government of the United States. If we painted a map of the country, giving to the Loyal States each its individual chosen color, and to the Rebel States their favorite Red or Black, we should find that the latter were surrounded by a strip of that circumambient and eternal Blue which indicates the love and the strength of the National Government. The strip is here broad, and there narrow. It is broad in Tennessee, Arkansas, and Louisiana. It stretches up in a narrow line along the Sea Islands and the Atlantic coast. What do we mean to do with this strip, while it is in the special charge of the nation? Do we mean to leave it to the chapter of accidents, as we have done? A few charitable organizations have kept the Sea Islands along, so that they are a range of flourishing plantations, as they used to be. A masterly inactivity, on the other hand, leaves the northern counties of Virginia, this summer, within the very sight of the Capitol, to be the desert and disgrace which they were when they were the scenes of actual war. A handful of banditti rides through them when it chooses, and even insults the communications of our largest army. The people of that State are permitted to point at this desolation, and to say that such are the consequences of Federal victories. For another instance, take the "Four-Million question." These four million negroes, from whose position the war has sprung, are now almost all set free, in law. A very large number of them--possibly a quarter part of them--are free in fact. One hundred and thirty thousand of them are in the national army. With regard to these men the question is not, "What are you going to do with them when the war is done?" but, "What will you do with them to-day and to-morrow?" Your duty is to use victory in the moment of victory. You are not to wait for its last ramification before you lead in peace and plenty, which ought to follow close in its first footsteps.
To an observing and sensitive nation it seems as if all these questions, and many others like them, were not yet fully regarded. Yet they are now the questions of the hour, because they are a part of the great central question, "How will you break down the armed power of the Rebel States?" To maintain the conquered belt between us and our "wayward sisters" as a land of plenty, and not as a desert,--to establish on system the blacks whose masters desert them, or who take refuge within our lines,--and also to maintain in that border-strip a resident peasantry, armed and loyal,--these are not matters of sentiment, which may be postponed to a more convenient season, but they are essential to the stiff, steady, and successful prosecution of our campaigns. It is not, therefore, simply for charity Boards of Education to discuss such subjects. It is for the Government to determine its policy, and for the people, who make that Government, to compel it so to determine. The Government may not shake off questions of confiscated lands, pay of negro troops, superintendence of fugitives, and the like, as if they were the unimportant details of a halcyon future. Because this is the moment of impending victory, because that victory should be used on the instant, the Government is bound to attend to such provisions now. It is said, that, when General McClellan landed below Yorktown, now two years ago, the Washington Post-Office had made the complete arrangements for resuming the mail-service to Richmond. Undoubtedly the Post-Office Department was right in such foresight. At the present moment, it is equally right for the Government to be prepared for the immediate use of the victories for which, as we write, we are all hoping.
The experiments which we have had to try, in the care and treatment of liberated blacks, have been tried under very different conditions. When the masters on the Sea Islands escaped from their slaves, leaving but one white man behind them, in the midst of fifteen thousand negroes, those negroes were, in general, in their old familiar homes. They had, indeed, trusted themselves to the tender mercies of the "Yankees" because they would not abandon home. The islands on which they lived were easily protected, and, thanks to the generous foresight of those who early had the charge of them, a body of humane and intelligent superintendents soon appeared, to watch over all their interests. In the District of Columbia, on the other hand, the blacks whom the war first liberated had themselves fled from their masters. They found themselves in cities where every condition of life was different from their old home. It was hardly to be expected that in one of these cases the results should be as cheerful or as favorable as in the other. Nor was it to be supposed that the policy to be pursued, in two such cases, should be in outward form the same.
But the country has, on the whole, in the various different conditions of these questions, had the advantage of great administrative ability. General Butler, General Banks, and General Saxton are three men who may well be satisfied with their military record, if it shall bear the test of time as well as their administrative successes in this department bid fair to do. We can be reconciled, in a measure, to gross failure and want of system in other places, when we observe the successes which have been wrought out for the blacks, in different ways, under the policy of these three statesmen. For we believe that in that policy the principles are to be found by which the Government ought at once to direct all its policy in the use of its victories. We believe those principles are most adequately stated in General Butler's General Order No. 46, issued at Fort Monroe on the fifth of December last. For General Banks has had his hands tied, from the beginning, by the unfortunate exemption from the Emancipation Proclamation of the first two districts in Louisiana. Considering the difficulties by which he was thus entangled, we have never seen but he used to the best his opportunities. General Saxton's island-district has been so small, and in a measure so peculiar, that it may be urged that the result learned there would not be applicable on the mainland, on a large scale. But General Butler has had all the negroes of the sea-board of Virginia and North Carolina to look after. He has given us a census of them,--and we have already official returns of their _status_. There seems no reason why what has been done there may not be done anywhere.
In General Butler's department, there were, in the beginning of April, sixty-eight thousand eight hundred and forty-seven negroes. Of these, eight thousand three hundred and forty-four were soldiers, who had voluntarily enlisted into the service of the United States. These men enlisted with no bounty but what the General so well named as the "great boon awarded to each of them, the result of the war,--Freedom for himself and his race forever." They enlisted, knowing that at that time the Government promised them but ten dollars a month. In view of these facts, we consider the proportion of soldiers, nearly one in eight, extraordinary,--though we are aware that the number includes many who had not lived in those counties, who came into our lines with the purpose of enlisting. These simple figures involve the first feature of the true policy in the "Four-Million question." The war offers the negroes this priceless bounty. Let them fight for it. Let us enlist them, to the last man we can persuade to serve.
"If you do that," says Brazen-Face, "you have left on your hands a horde of starving imbeciles, women, and orphans, to support, from whom you have cruelly separated their able-bodied men." No, Brazen-Face, we have no such thing. In the month of March the Government had to supply rations in the district we have named to only seven thousand eight hundred and fifty persons who were members of the families of these soldiers,--the cost being about one dollar a month for each of them. Now the State of Massachusetts, dear Brazen-Face, supplies "State-aid" to the families of its soldiers; and for this support, in this very city of yours, it pays on the average five times as much in proportion as the United States has to pay for the families of these colored soldiers. Nay, you may even take all the persons relieved by Government in General Butler's district,--the number is sixteen thousand seven hundred and sixteen,--count them all as the families of soldiers, which not one-half of them are, and the whole support which they all receive from Government is not half as much as the families of the same number of soldiers are costing the State of Massachusetts. So much for the expense of this system. There is no money-bounty, and the "family-aid" is but one-fifth of that we pay in the case of our own brothers. The figures in General Saxton's district are as gratifying. We have not the Louisiana statistics at hand. And we have not learned that anybody has attempted any statistics in the District of Columbia, or on the Mississippi River. But this illustration, in two districts where the enlistment of colored troops has been pushed to the very edge of its development, is enough to make out another point in the policy of victory, which is, that the colored soldier is the cheapest soldier whom we have in our lines, though we pay him, as of course we should do, full pay.
How is this cheapness of administration gained? The answer is in the second great principle which belongs to the policy of using our victories. Change the homes of the people as little as possible. The families of negroes in the Virginia district are put upon separate farms as far as possible,--on land, and for crops, as nearly as possible, the same as they were used to. These people are conservative. They are fond of home. They are used to work; and they can take care of themselves. Every inducement is given them, therefore, to establish themselves. Farms of eight or ten acres each from abandoned property are allotted them. Where the Government employs any of them, it employs them only at the same rate as the soldier is paid,--so that, if the negro can earn more than that, he does so, and is urged, as well as permitted to do so. He is not bound to the soil, except by merely temporary agreement. What follows is that he uses the gift of freedom to his own best advantage. "Political freedom," says the philosophical General, "rightly defined, is liberty to work." The negroes in his command show that they understand the definition. And this is the reason why, as we have explained, the "family-relief" costs but one-fifth what it does here in Boston.
"But," says Grunnio, at this point, "how will you protect your ten-acre farms from invidious neighbors, from wandering guerrillas?" We will advise them, dear grumbler, to protect themselves. That is one of the responsibilities which freemen have to take as the price of freedom. In the department of Norfolk, where seventeen thousand blacks are supporting themselves on scattered farms, we believe not a pig has been stolen nor a fence broken down on their little plantations by semi-loyal neighbors, who had, perhaps, none too much sympathy, at the first, with their prosperity. These amiable neighbors were taught, from the first, that the rights of the colored farmers were just the same as their own, and that they would be very apt to retaliate in kind for injuries. Of such a system one result is that no guerrilla-warfare has yet been known in the counties of Virginia where such a peasantry is establishing itself. It is near our posts, it is true,--not nearer, however, than some of the regions where Mosby has won his laurels. We believe that this system deserves to be pressed much farther. We can see that the farmers on such farms may have to be supplied in part with arms for their defence. They may have to be taught to use them. Without providing depots of supplies for an enemy, however, we believe there might be a regular system of establishing the negro in his own home, on or near the plantation where he was born, which would give us from the beginning the advantages of a settled country, instead of a desert in the regions in the rear of our lines.
These three suggestions are enough to determine a general policy which shall give us, in all instances, the immediate use of our victories. Let us enlist all the able-bodied men we can from the negroes. Let us establish the rest as near their old homes as we can,--not in poor-houses or phalansteries, but on their own farms. Let us appoint for each proper district a small staff of officers sufficient to see that their rights are respected by their neighbors, and that they have means to defend themselves against reckless or unorganized aggression. There seems to be no need of sending them as fugitives to our rear. There seems to be no need of leaving the country we pass a desert. There seems to be no need of waiting a year or two before we find for them their places. God has found for them their places. Let them stay where they were born. We have made them freemen. Let them understand that they must maintain their freedom.
More simply stated, such a policy amounts merely to this: "Treat them as you would treat white people."
"What would you do with the blacks?" said a Commission of Inquiry to an intelligent jurist who had made some very brilliant decisions at New Orleans.
"I would not do anything with them," was his very happy and suggestive reply.
He would let them alone. If we could free ourselves of the notion that we must huddle them together, or that we must carry them to some strange land,--in short, that they have no rights of home and fireside,--we should find that we had a much smaller problem to deal with. Keep them where you find them, unless they will go on and fight with you. Whether they go or stay, let them understand that they are your friends and you are theirs, and that they must defend themselves, if they expect you to defend them.
The education and the civilization will follow. "The church and the school," as John Adams says, "belong with the town and the militia." The statistics of General Butler's department begin to show that a larger proportion of blacks are at school there than of whites. As we write these words, we receive General Banks's Order No. 38, issued March 22, providing for a board of education, and a tax upon property to establish schools for black and for white children. We have no fears that such results will be slow, if the enfranchised peasantry, one million or four million, have the right to work on their own land, or to accept the highest wage that offers,--if they find they are not arbitrarily removed from their old homes,--and if the protection of those homes is, in the first instance, intrusted to themselves.
These are the first-fruits of freedom for them. For us they are the legitimate use of victory. It only remains that we shall mildly, but firmly, instruct all officers of the Government that it is time for some policy to be adopted which shall involve such uses of victory. The country will be encouraged, the moment it sees that the freedmen are finding their proper places in the new civilization. The country expects its rulers not to wait for chapters of accidents or for volunteer boards to work out such policy, but themselves to provide the system of administration, and the intelligent men who shall promptly and skilfully avail themselves of every victory.
REVIEWS AND LITERARY NOTICES.
_History of the Romans under the Empire._ By CHARLES MERIVALE, B. D., late Fellow of St. John's College, Cambridge. From the Fourth London Edition. With a Copious Analytical Index. New York: D. Appleton & Co. 8vo. Vols. I. & II.
People of the last century had a very easy time with their Roman history, and any gentleman could pick up enough of it "in course of his morning's reading" to answer the demands of a lifetime. Men read and believed. They had no more doubt of the existence of Romulus and Remus than of the existence of Fairfax and Cromwell. As to the story of those dropped children being nursed by a she-wolf, had it not been established that wolves did sometimes suckle humanity's young? and why should it be supposed that no lupine nursery had ever existed at the foot of the Palatine Hill? After swallowing the wolf-story, everything else was easy; and the history of the Roman Kings was as gravely received as the history of the Roman Emperors. The Brutus who upset the Tarquins was as much an historical character as the Brutus who assassinated Cæsar and killed himself. Tullia had lived and sinned, just like Messallina. The Horatii were of flesh and blood, like the Triumvirs. So was it with regard to the Empire. The same short work that was made with Regal Rome and the early Republican period was applied to the Imperial age. Julius Cæsar was the destroyer of Roman liberty, and Pompeius was the unlucky champion of his country's constitution. With few exceptions, the Emperors were the greatest moral monsters that ever had lived and reigned. It is true that two or three critical writers had so handled historical subjects as to create some doubts as to the exact correctness of the popular view of Roman history; but those doubts were monopolized by a few scholars, and by no means tended to shake the faith which even the educated classes had in the vulgar view of the actions of the mighty conquering race of antiquity.
But all has been changed. For half a century, learned men have been busily employed in pulling down the edifice of Roman history, until they have unsettled everybody's faith in that history. No one now pretends, seriously, to believe anything that is told of the Romans farther back than the time of Pyrrhus. Clouds and darkness rest over the earlier centuries, and defy penetration. What Sir Thomas Browne says of Egypt is not inapplicable to early Rome. History mumbleth something to the inquirer, "but what it is he heareth not." Not even the story of Curtius now finds believers. He must have been a contractor, who made an enormous fortune at the time of the secession of the plebs, and ruined himself by the operation. So far as relates to early Roman history, want of faith is very natural; for what documents have we to go upon in making up an opinion concerning it? None to speak of. But it is strange, at the first thought, that there should be any difficulty in making up a judgment concerning the history of the last century or two of the Republic, and of the Imperial period. Of those times much that was then written still survives, and many of the works that were familiar to the Romans are even more familiar to the moderns. Yet there is a wide difference of sentiment as to the character of the Roman Revolution, and the objects and the actions of the eminent men who figured in that Revolution are yet in dispute; and the contention is almost as fierce, at times, as it was in the days of Pharsalia and Philippi. There are Pompeians and Cæsarians now, as there were nineteen centuries ago, only that the pen with them is indeed mightier than the sword. Cæsar's case has been reviewed, and the current of opinion is now setting strongly in his favor. Instead of being looked upon as a mere vulgar usurper, who differed from other usurpers only in having a greater stage, and talents proportioned to that stage, he is held up as the man of his times, and as the only man who could fulfil the demands of the crisis that existed after the death of Sulla. According to Mr. Merivale, who is a very moderate Cæsarian, Cæsar was "the true captain and lawgiver and prophet of the age" in which he lived. When such an assertion can be made by an English gentleman of well-balanced mind, we may form some idea of the intensity of that Cæsarism which prevails in fiercer minds, and which is intended to have an effect on contemporary rule. For the controversy which exists relative to the merits of Romans "dead, and turned to clay," is not merely critical and scholastic, but is enlivened by its direct bearing upon living men and contending parties. Cæsarism means Napoleonism. The Bonaparte family is the Julian family of to-day. Napoleon I. stood for the great Julius, and Napoleon III. is the modern (and very Gallic) Cæsar Augustus, the avenger of his ill-used uncle, and the crusher of the Junii and the Crassi, and all the rest of the aristocrats, who overthrew him, and caused his early death. It is not necessary to point out the utter absurdity of this attempt to justify modern despotism by referring to the action of men who lived and acted in the greatest of ancient revolutions; and those men who admire Julius Cæsar, but who are not disposed to see in his conduct a justification of the conduct of living men, object to the French Imperial view of his career. Mommsen, whose admiration of Cæsar is as ardent as his knowledge of Roman history is great, speaks with well-deserved scorn of the efforts that are made to defend contemporary usurpation by misrepresentation of the history of antiquity. One of his remarks is curious, read in connection with that history which daily appears in our journals. Writing before our civil war began, he declared, that, if ever the slaveholding aristocracy of the Southern States of America should bring matters to such a pass as their counterparts in the Rome of Sulla, Cæsarism would be pronounced legitimate there also by the spirit of history,--an observation that derived new interest from the report that General Lee was to be made Dictator of the Confederacy, and Mr. Davis allowed to go into that retirement which is so much admired and so little sought by all politicians. Mommsen, after the remark above quoted, proceeds to say, that, whenever Cæsarism "appears under other social conditions, it is at once a usurpation and a caricature. History, however, will not consent to curtail the honor due to the true Cæsar, because her decision, in the presence of false Cæsars, may give occasion to simplicity to play the fool and to villany to play the rogue. She, too, is a Bible, and if she can as little prevent herself from being misunderstood by the fool and quoted by the Devil, she ought as little to be prejudiced by either." Strong words, but very natural as coming from a learned German who finds his own theory turned to account by the supporters of a house which Germany once helped to overthrow, and which she would gladly aid in overthrowing again. Perhaps Dr. Mommsen will soon have an opportunity to speak more at length of French Cæsarism, for the first two volumes of Napoleon III.'s "Life of Julius Cæsar" are announced as nearly ready for publication, and their appearance cannot fail to be the signal for a battle royal, as few scholars, we presume, will be content to take historical law from an Emperor. The modern master of forty legions will not be as fortunate as Hadrian in finding philosophers disinclined to question his authority in letters; and he may fare even worse at their hands than he fared at those of Mr. Kinglake. The republic of letters is not to be mastered by a _coup d'état_.
The opponents of Cæsarism have not been silent, and it would be neither uninteresting nor unprofitable, did time permit, to show how well they have disposed of most of the arguments of their foes. The question is not the old one, whether the party of Cæsar or that of Pompeius was the better one, for at bottom the two were very much the same, the struggle being for supremacy over the whole Roman dominion; and it is certain that there would have been no essential change of political procedure, had the decision at Pharsalia been reversed. On that field Cæsar was the nominal champion of the liberal faction, and Pompeius was the nominal champion of the _optimates_. Had Cæsar lost the day, the plebeian Pompeian house would have furnished an imperial line, instead of that line proceeding from the patrician Julii. Pompeius would have been as little inclined to abandon the fruits of his victory to the aristocrats as Cæsar showed himself to set up the rule of the Forum-populace, to whose support he owed so much. It was to free himself from the weight of his equals that Pompeius selected the East for the seat of war, when there were so many strong military reasons why he should have proceeded to the West, to Romanized Spain, where he had veteran legions that might under his lead have been found the equals of Cæsar's small, but most efficient army. He wished to get out of the Republican atmosphere, and into a country where "the one-man power" was the recognized idea of rule. He acted as a politician, not as a soldier, when he sailed from Brundisium to the East, and the nobility were not blind to the fact, and were not long in getting their revenge; for it was through their political influence that Pompeius was forced to deliver battle at Pharsalia, when there were strong military reasons for refusing to fight. That they were involved in their chief's fall was only in accordance with the usual course of things, there being nothing to equal the besotted blindness of faction, as our current history but too clearly proves.
As between Cæsar and Pompeius, therefore, it is natural and just that modern liberals should sympathize with the former, and contemplate his triumph with pleasure, as he was by far the abler and better man, and did not stain his success by bloodshed and plunder, things which the Pompeians had promised themselves on a scale that would have astonished Marius and Sulla, and which the Triumvirs never thought of equalling. But when we are asked to behold as the result of the Roman Revolution the deliverance of the provincials, and that as of purpose on the part of the victor, we are inclined, in return, to ask of the Cæsarians whether they think mankind are such fools as not to be able to read and to understand the Imperial history. That Cæsar's success was beneficial to Rome's subjects we do not dispute; but that the change he effected was of the sweeping character claimed for it, or that Cæsar ever thought of being the reformer that his admirers declare him to have been, are things yet to be proved. The change that came from the substitution of the Imperial polity for the Republican was the result of circumstances, and it was of slow growth. Imperialism was an Octavian, not a Julian creation, as any reader will be able to understand who goes through the closing chapters of Mr. Merivale's third volume. The first Cæsar's imperial career was too short, and too full of hard military work, to admit of much being done by him of a political character; nor would it have been possible for him, had he been a much younger man, and had he lived for years, to accomplish what was effected by Augustus. The terrible crisis that followed his death, and which lasted until the decision of "the world's debate" at Actium gave a master to the Roman world, prepared the way for the work that was done by his grand-nephew and adopted son. The severe discipline which the Romans went through between the day of Munda and that of Actium made them more acquiescent in despotism than they would have been found, if Julius Cæsar's mild sway had been continued through that interval. It has been said that the Triumvirate converted Cæsar's sword into daggers, and the expression is by no means too strong, as the world has never witnessed such another reign of terror as followed from the union of Octavius, Antonius, and Lepidus. If that union was formed for the purpose of reconciling men to despotic rule, it must be allowed the merit that belongs to a perfect invention. Without it the Roman Empire might never have had an existence.
Mr. Merivale's work may be considered as forming the text-book of moderate Cæsarism. An Englishman, he cannot be an advocate of despotism; but he sees that the time had come for a change, and that under Cæsar's direction the change could be better made than under that of Pompeius or his party. This is something very different from blind advocacy of Cæsarism; and we can follow him through his clear and vigorous narrative of the events of the Revolution with general acquiescence in his views. His first and second volumes, which are immediately under consideration, may be said to form the history of the career of Cæsar, and to present the best account of that career which has been published in our language. Introductory matter apart, his book opens with the appearance of the first Emperor on the political stage, and the second volume closes at the date of his assassination. His various political actions, his achievements in Gaul and Britain, his marvellous exploits in Italy, Spain, Macedonia, Greece, and Africa in the Civil War, and the character of his legislation, are here told and set forth in a manner that comes very near to perfection. There is a vividness in the narrative, and a bringing-out of individual portraits, that make the work read like a history of contemporary events. Nor does the author's just admiration of Cæsar's extraordinary intellect and wonderful deeds cause him to be unjust to the eminent men on the other side, though as a rule he deals severely with those Romans whom the world admires, when treating of the effects of their conduct. It has been objected to his history, that he speaks with freedom of Cicero's conduct on many occasions, but we think that he has not exceeded the bounds of just criticism when considering the course of the Roman orator; and in his third volume, when summing up his character, he employs the most generous and lofty language in speaking of him. "After all the severe judgments we are compelled to pass on his conduct," he says, "we must acknowledge that there remains a residue of what is amiable in his character and noble in his teaching beyond all ancient example. Cicero lived and died in faith. He has made converts to the belief in virtue, and had disciples in the wisdom of love. There have been dark periods in the history of man, when the feeble ray of religious instruction paled before the torch of his generous philanthropy. The praise which the great critic pronounced upon his excellence in oratory may be justly extended to the qualities of his heart; and even in our enlightened days it may be held no mean advance in virtue to venerate the master of Roman philosophy." An intelligent admirer of the most illustrious victim of the Triumvirate will consider these words something far better than anything that can be found in Middleton's "lying legend in honor of St. Tully." It may be observed that admiration of Cicero and sympathy with the Roman aristocratical party mostly go together; and yet the Roman aristocracy disliked Cicero, and their writers treated him harshly, while he received kind treatment from writers on the other side. Livy, whom Augustus himself called the _Pompeian_, says of Cicero that "he bore none of his calamities as a man should, except his death"; and "Lucan denounces his perverse impolicy." Mr. Merivale, in a note, observes that it can hardly be accidental that Tacitus, in his historical works, never mentions him, and adds, "The most glowing tribute to Cicero's merits is the well-known passage in Juvenal, and this is written in the spirit of a Marian, or anti-oligarch." Velleius, who is generally spoken of as a sort of literary flunky of the Cæsars, warmly panegyrizes Cicero. Had the Pompeians triumphed, Cicero would not have found Italy the safe place that it was to him under Cæsar's rule. He would have fared as badly at their hands as he did at those of the Clodian rabble, and Pompeius might have been to him what Antonius became after Cæsar's death.
The portrait which Mr. Merivale has drawn of Cato does not meet with the approval of those persons who admire old Roman virtue, of which Cato was the impersonation; but they would find it difficult to show that he has done that stubborn Stoic any injustice. Cato modelled himself on his great-grandfather, Cato the Censor, a mean fellow, who sold his old slaves in order that they might not become a charge upon him; but, as our author remarks, the character of the Censor had been simple and true to Nature, while that of his descendant was a system of elaborate, though unconscious affectations. Cato behaved as absurdly as an American would behave who should attempt to imitate his great-grandfather, the old gentleman having died a loyal subject of George II. He was an honest man, according to the Roman standard of honesty, which allowed a great margin for the worst villany, provided it were done for the public good, or what was supposed to be the public good. Like some politicians of our time, he thought, that, when he had made it appear that a certain course would be in accordance with ancient precedent, it should be adopted,--making no allowance for the thousand disturbing causes which the practical politician knows must be found on any path that may be selected. Of all the men whose conduct brought about the Civil War, he was the most virtuous, and he had the sagacity to oppose a resort to arms; though how he succeeded in reconciling his aversion to war with his support of a policy that led directly to its existence is one of the mysteries of those days. The Pompeians found him a bore, and, had they been victorious, would have saved him the trouble of killing himself, by cutting off his head. Cato was one of the very few persons for whom Cæsar felt a strong dislike; but he would not have harmed him, had he got his own consent to live. From Cato he had experienced no such insult as he had met with from M. Marcellus, and Marcellus received permission to return to Rome; but Cato was of an unmalleable nature, and preferred, to an ignoble silence in Italy, the noble silence of the grave. He died "after the high Roman fashion." Suicide might be called the natural death of a Roman leader of that age, and nothing but the violence of enemies could dispute the title with it. Cato, Brutus, Cassius, Antonius, and others fell by their own hands, or by the hands of persons who acted by their orders. Cæsar, Pompeius, Cicero, and Crassus were murdered. Nothing serves more to show how much Augustus differed from most Romans of his century than the fact that he died in his bed at extreme old age.
That Mr. Merivale's Cæsarism does not prevent him from doing justice to the opponents of Cæsar is proved by his portrait of Q. Lutatius Catulus, the best leader of the _optimates_, and whom he pronounces to have been the most moderate and disinterested of all the great men of his day,--"indeed," he adds, "there is perhaps no character in the history of the Commonwealth which commanded more general esteem, or obtained more blameless distinction in political life." Yet Catulus was one of those men with whom Cæsar came earliest in collision, each as the representative of his party on vital points of difference. Our historian's estimate of the life, labors, purposes, and character of Pompeius is singularly correct, when we consider the temptation that he has to underrate the man with whom Cæsar has stood in direct opposition for nineteen centuries. There are few more emphatic passages in the historical literature of our language than the account which is given in Vol. II. ch. 18, of the last days and death of Pompeius, and which is followed by a most judicious summing-up of his history and position as a Roman leader. The historian's mind appears to be strongly affected by the fate of the Pompeian house, as much so as was the imagination of the Romans, which it seems to have haunted. This is in part due, we presume, to the free use which he has made of Lucan's "Pharsalia," a work of great value to those who would understand how the grand contest for supremacy was viewed by the beaten party in after times. That poem is the funeral wail of the Roman aristocracy, and it embodies the ideas and traditions of the vanquished as they existed far down into the Imperial age. It testifies to the original vitality of the aristocratical faction, when we find a youthful contemporary of Nero dedicating his genius to its service more than a century after the contest had been decided on the battlefield. Whether Lucan was a patriot, or a selfish, but disappointed courtier, we may feel certain that he never could have written in the Pompeian spirit, if that spirit was not still dominant in the minds of a large number of those men and women who formed the most cultivated portion of Roman society. To a critical historian, such as Mr. Merivale is, his poem must be very useful, though it would be dangerous authority in unskilful hands.
The leading merit of this history is that it supplies a want, and supplies it effectually. Opening about sixty years before the beginning of the Christian era, it terminates with the death of M. Aurelius Antoninus, the point where Gibbon's work begins. We still need a work beginning with the close of the Second Punic War and ending with the death of Sulla, to connect Merivale with Arnold; but Mr. George Long is about to supply the want, at least in part. The first two volumes, as we have said, end at the date of Cæsar's death. The third and fourth embrace the long period in which Augustus was the principal character, and when the Roman Empire was formed. The fifth and sixth cover the reigns of Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, Nero, Galba, Otho, and Vitellius, and a portion of the reign of Vespasian. The seventh and last volume is devoted to the first Flavian house,--Vespasian, Titus, and Domitian,--and to those "five good Emperors"--Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, and the Antonines--whose reigns are renowned in the history of monarchy for their excellence. The materials of the work are, for the most part, ample, and they have been well employed by the historian, a man of extensive scholarship and of critical sagacity. Whether we subscribe to his opinions or not, there can be no doubt of his having presented a brilliant picture of the civilized world during about two and a half eventful centuries. His is the only readable work that we have which affords a continuous narrative of the history of Rome from the appearance of Cæsar to the appearance of Commodus. Had it no other claim upon us, this alone would justify us in recommending it to the closest attention of all who desire to become acquainted with the facts that make up the sum of Roman Imperial history. But it has other claims to the consideration of readers. It makes Roman Imperial history thoroughly intelligible, because events are philosophically treated, and their bearing upon each other is rendered clear. It is written with vivacity, force, and elegance. The style is the style of a gentleman, and the sentiments are those of a Christian scholar. There is not a paragraph in it which we could wish to see omitted, or essentially changed. It has won for its author a place in the list of first-rate English historians, and he is to be ranked with Macaulay, Grote, Hallam, Froude, Kinglake, and others of those great writers who have done so much to illustrate the English name and to advance the cause of humanity. Being familiar with the work from the time that the first and second volumes were published in England, in 1850, we have always desired that it should be placed before the American reading public, confident that here its high merits would secure for it a great and deserved popularity; and it is with a sense of personal gratification that we have seen its publication begun in New York, in a form that pleases the eye and gratifies good taste.
_Church Pastorals_: Hymns and Tunes for Public and Social Worship. Collected and Arranged by NEHEMIAH ADAMS, D. D. Boston: Ticknor & Fields.
The Rev. Dr. Bushnell, in August, 1852, delivered an address upon "Religious Music" before the Beethoven Society of Yale College at the opening of their new organ. In the peroration of this address, after remarking upon the great assistance which Christian feeling receives in the praise of God from "things without life giving sound," he goes on to say,--"Let me suggest, also, in this connection, the very great importance of the cultivation of religious music. Every family should be trained in it; every Sunday or common school should have it as one of its exercises. The Moravians have it as a kind of ordinance of grace for the children: not without reason; for the powers of feeling and imagination, and the sense of spiritual realities, are developed as much by a training of childhood in religious music as by any other means. We complain that choirs and organs take the music to themselves in our churches, and that nothing is left to the people but to hear their undistinguishable piping, which no one else can join or follow or interpret. This must always be the complaint, till the congregations themselves have exercise enough in singing to make the performance theirs. As soon as they are able to throw in masses of sound that are not barbarous, but Christian, and have a right enjoyment of their feeling in it, they will have the tunes and the style of the exercise in their own way,--not before.... The more sorrowful is it, that, in our present defect of culture, there are so many voices which are more incapable of the right distinctions of sound than things without life, and which, when they attempt to sing, contribute more to the feeling of woe than of praise."
These words are as true to-day as when they were uttered twelve years ago. Congregations which do not desire, or cannot afford, to resign the musical portion of their service to professional singers, have something more to do than to complain that the music is bad, or that they do not like paid vocalists to troll out psalmody for them. They must go to work and make their own music,--real music; for in these days unharmonious sounds are almost as much out of place in the worship of God as an uncatholic spirit and an heretical doctrine. The truth of this principle many societies admit, and some, like the Rev. Henry Ward Beecher's, have already put it into practice; the majority, however, wait for help to free themselves from the customs which have kept them listeners when they should be creators of vocal praise. The great obstacle to congregational singing has been that the range of tunes already familiar was very limited, while the providing a whole society with the paraphernalia of music-books involved great expense to small purpose, since a large portion of the tunes contained in these books are unavailable for such use, being prepared with a view to the wants of thoroughly trained singers; besides which, the reference to two books, one for the words and the other for the music, is to many persons perplexing, and to all inconvenient.
"Church Pastorals" is an attempt to overcome this obstacle, and to extend that help which is wanted. Other attempts have been made before, but we regard this as the most successful, and consider that Dr. Adams has prepared the best hymn-and-tune-book that has yet been issued, as we propose briefly to illustrate by a recapitulation of his plan and his manner of executing it.
The hymns, which are nine hundred and eighty-eight in number, are selected from the great mass of hymn-writers; although Watts and the Wesleys furnish the foundation, and the materials of the superstructure are largely drawn from Doddridge, Cowper, Toplady, Montgomery, and others of kindred spirit, yet many beautiful things have been added from the later religious poetry, which are no less fervid in feeling, while less pronounced in doctrinal expression. These hymns are arranged in judicious general divisions, which are again analytically separated into special topics placed in logical sequence. After the hymns follow thirty-eight doxologies, the editor having added to the short list of common ones others which are fine enough to become standard at once.
But it is less as a hymn- than as a tune-book that "Church Pastorals" merits the notice of societies and individuals who are truly interested in religious music, and we pass at once to our remarks upon this portion of the work. The compiler, although holding himself personally responsible for every selection, has availed himself of the advice and assistance of persons professionally eminent in sacred music, one of whom placed at his disposal a library which is unique in this country, containing works of which few Americans have owned or seen duplicates, such as rare "Choral-Bücher" of German cathedrals, and curious collections of English ecclesiastical compositions, a partial list of which is included in the volume, for the benefit of those who are curious in such matters, or wish to know how far Dr. Adams's researches have led him. To ascertain how many new melodies of the purest devotional character have been derived from these rich sources a careful examination is necessary, as also to comprehend with what skill the harmony has been preserved or adapted, in order to secure the two desirable results,--absolute freshness and beauty of treatment, and practicability for ordinary use; but a casual inspection will give sufficient indication of the spirit in which the work was undertaken, and of the faithfulness with which it has been completed.
While originality has been properly sought, the old, familiar elements have not been neglected, and those simple songs which were upon the lips of our parents and grandparents, and are yet dear to us from association and intrinsic worth, are set in among the newer strains. The first lines only are given of such as need merely to be recalled to the memory of any who ever sing; but of others, equally prized, but less likely to be remembered, the full score is given.
The doxologies are for the most part set to noble chorals of such strong, straightforward character that they cannot fail to become friends and intimates at once. In them, as in all the tunes, the compass of ordinary voices has been considered; and although nothing has been left undone which could give beauty to melody or scholarly variousness to harmony, the whole has been brought within the range of all singers.
A novel and peculiar feature of the book is its "Stanzas to be sung _impromptu_." Occasions often arise at social meetings or special services, when it becomes desirable to sing a portion, or even the whole, of some homely, hearty hymn, but, while "the spirit moves," the opportunity is lost in the search for the words or the fit air, or in an attempt to "set the tune." To meet this want, Dr. Adams has brought together a variety of such stanzas, suited to all times and places, and, coupled with each, the first line of a familiar melody, that the propitious moment may be enjoyed and improved.
It will of course be understood that the tune appointed for each hymn is printed directly above it, all four parts being given at length, the two trebles printed in a not unusual way upon one staff, the tenor and bass having each separate lines. Therefore no difficulty in singing the hymns can be felt even by the inexperienced, especially as one stanza is printed with the notes to show the exact adaptation.
In fine, "Church Pastorals" is a work worthy of an extended circulation and capable of great usefulness. It can serve every purpose of public worship, for it embraces all services of the Sabbath congregation or the week-day gathering, and it touches upon all thoughts and feelings of religious assemblies; it is not above the tastes and abilities of an earnest congregation, nor beneath the notice and use of the independent choir. More than this, it has a particular value for the home and the fireside. Every household knows some quiet hour when the family-voices seek to join in the happy harmony of some unpretending hymn, and when the only limit to such grateful music is the failure of memory or the meagreness of the library, which furnishes only the hymns, or, giving the tunes, supplies only a part of the words,--for few families possess both sorts of books in plenty for their convenient use. This volume offers all,--the hymn, solemn, hopeful, sad, or jubilant, and united to it a tune, perhaps remembered from recollection's earliest days, perhaps unknown and untried, but suiting well the spirit of the words, and ready at an instant's desire to express the sentiment or emotion that rises for utterance. If "Church Pastorals" had no other merit, this alone would make it worth possessing by all who love and ever practise sacred music.
A thorough and elaborate index includes in one ingenious list all references, whether to hymns, tunes, or metres; and the inaccuracies which will creep into even as handsome typography as this are unimportant, and rectified as quickly as observed. The size is convenient, and the shape comely.
_Illustrations of Progress_: A Series of Discussions by HERBERT SPENCER. With a Notice of Spencer's "New System of Philosophy." New York: D. Appleton & Co.
Mr. Herbert Spencer is already a power in the world. Yet it is not the vulgar apprehension of power which is associated with notoriety that we claim for him. He holds no position of civil authority, neither do his works compete with Miss Braddon's poorest novel in the circulating-libraries. But he has already influenced the silent life of a few thinking men whose belief marks the point to which the civilization of the age must struggle to rise. In America, we may even now confess our obligations to the writings of Mr. Spencer, for here sooner than elsewhere the mass feel as utility what a few recognize as truth. The reader acquainted with the admirable papers upon Education, which have been republished and extensively circulated in this country, has recognized their author's fresh and vigorous spirit, his power of separating the essential from the accidental, as well as his success in grasping the main features of a subject divested of frivolous and subordinate details. That he possesses a thinking faculty of rare comprehensiveness, as well as acuteness, will be allowed by all who will study his other works now in course of republication in New York.
Mr. Spencer is at present engaged in an heroic attempt to construct a sufficing system of philosophy, which shall include Biology, Psychology, Sociology, and Morality. The great interest to mankind of the discussion proposed, as well as Mr. Spencer's claims to be intrusted with it, are set forth with singular clearness and felicity in the essay which introduces the present volume. Whatever success the latest discoveries in science render possible to solid intellectual force assisted by the keenest instruments of logic will doubtless be attained. As far as the frontiers of knowledge where the intellect may go, there is no living man whose guidance may more safely be trusted. Mr. Spencer represents the scientific spirit of the age. He makes note of all that comes within the range of sensuous experience, and declares whatever may be derived therefrom by a careful induction. As a philosopher he does not go farther. Yet beyond this the heart of humanity must ever penetrate. Let it be true, as it doubtless is, that, when the understanding by process of logic seeks to demonstrate the Cause of All, it finds a barren abstraction destitute of personality. It is no less true that God reveals Himself to the human feeling without intermediate agency. For the religious _sentiment_ Mr. Spencer finds an indestructible foundation. While maintaining that man can grasp and know only the finite, he yet holds that science does not fill the whole region of mental activity. Man may realize in consciousness what he may not grasp in thought.
Of the other doctrines of Mr. Spencer we attempt no exposition. His attitude towards theology is to us more satisfactory than that of any recent thinker of the first class. But whatever his conclusions, every true man will respect and encourage that rectitude of mind which follows the issues of its reasoning at any cost. It was not the philosopher in his brain, but the fool _in his heart_, who said, "There is no God." It is of little matter what inappropriate name narrow people may have chosen for Mr. Spencer. Here is a conscientious investigator who finds duty everywhere, who labors to give men truths which shall elevate and reform their lives; but he believes that the hope of humanity was potentially shut in an egg, and never in an ark. And there is the "reader upon the sofa,"--church-member he may be,--who tosses aside "Vanity Fair" with the reflection that a gossiping of London snobs is human life, and that the best thing to be done is to pay pew-rates and lie still and gird at it. Which of these two, think you, is the modern representative of King David's "fool"?
We would not be charged with the superfluity of commending to scholars the writings of Mr. Spencer. They have long ago found them out. It is to the mass of working men and women who make time for a solid book or two in the course of the year that we submit their claims. While those who have the leisure and training to realize Mr. Spencer's system as a developed unity must necessarily be few, no reader of tolerable intelligence can fail to find much of interest and suggestion in its several parts. With a common allowance for the abstruse nature of the subjects of which he treats, Mr. Spencer may be called a _popular_ writer. His philosophical terminology will not be found troublesome in those of his writings which will first attract the reader. The "Social Statics," the "Essays," and the treatise on "Education" are very clearly, as well as most gracefully, written. And after these have been mastered, most readers will not be repelled by the less easy reading of the "Principles of Psychology," and the "New System of Philosophy." All these works are rich in materials for forming intelligent opinions, even where we are unable to agree with those put forward by the author. Much may be learnt from them in departments in which our common educational system is very deficient. The active citizen may derive from them accurate, systematized information concerning his highest duties to society, and the principles on which they are based. He may gain clearer notions of the value and bearing of evidence, and be better able to distinguish between facts and inferences. He may find common things suggestive of wiser thought--nay, we will venture to say, of truer emotion--than before. For Mr. Spencer is not of that school of "philosophy" which teaches the hopelessness of human effort, and, by implication, the abandonment of moral dignity. From profound generalizations upon society, he rises to make the duty of the individual most solemn and imperative. Above all, he has this best prerogative of really great thinkers,--he is able to change sentiments to convictions.
If we have not particularized the claims of the single volume whose title is at the head of our notice, it is because all that Mr. Spencer has written moves towards one end and is equally worthy of attention. The essays here given are selected from two series, the first published in 1857, the second in 1863. The present arrangement has been chosen by the author as more suitable to develop the general purpose which governs his work. While the doctrine of Evolution is more or less illustrated in each of these papers, the variety of subjects discussed must touch at some point the taste and pursuit of any reader. From "Manners and Fashion" to "The Nebular Hypothesis" is a sweep bold enough to include most prominent topics with which we are concerned. Indeed, we can recall no modern volume of the same size which so thoroughly credits its author with that faculty of looking about him which Pope thought it was man's business to exercise. There are the current phrases, "seeing life," and "knowing the world," which generally used to signify groping in the dirtiest corners of the one and fattening lazily upon the other; but if it were possible to rescue such expressions from their vulgar associations, we think that a candid reader would apply the best conceptions they suggested to the writer of the discussions here collected. The world as it is to-day is seen by Mr. Spencer as by few living men. The sciences, which taken singly too often seem only good to expel the false, have been summoned together to declare the true. Not Nature alone, but Humanity, which is greater than Nature, must be interrogated for answers that shall satisfy the ripest reason of the age. By the rare gifts of comparison which turn to account his wide observations, Mr. Spencer has already established principles which, however compelled for a time to compromise with prejudices and vested interests, will become the recognized basis of an improved society.
Our only interest in recommending this author to our countrymen comes from the conviction that he is peculiarly capable of impressing for good the present condition of our national character. By giving us fuller realizations of liberty and justice his writings will tend to increase our self-reliance in the great emergency of civilization to which we have been summoned. "Our Progressive Independence," so brilliantly illustrated by Dr. Holmes, emancipating us from foreign fine-writing, leaves us free to welcome the true manhood and mature wisdom of Europe. In the time of our old prosperity, amusing a leisure evening over Kingsley or Ruskin, we were tempted to exclaim, with Sir Peter Teazle, "There's nothing half so noble as a man of sentiment!" But in these latter days we have seen "Mr. Gradgrind" step from Dickens's wretched caricature to bring his "facts" to the great cause of humanity, while "Joseph Surface" reserved his "sentiments" for the bloody business by which Slavery sought to subject all things to herself. We have seen the belles-lettres literature of England more deeply disgraced than when it smirked before the harlots of the second Charles, or chanted a blasphemous benediction over George IV. But the thought and science of the Old World it is still our privilege to recognize. And it can hardly be necessary to say that the sympathies of Mr. Spencer, like those of Mill and Cochin, have been with the government and loyal people of the United States. And so we take especial pleasure in mentioning that a considerable interest in the American copyright of his writings has been secured to the author, and also, despite the facilities of reading-clubs and circulating-libraries, that they are emphatically _books to own_.
_Poems._ By FREDERICK GODDARD TUCKERMAN. Boston: Ticknor and Fields.
These poems show by internal evidence that they are the productions of a man of refined organization and delicate sensibility to beauty, who has lived much in solitude and tasted of the cup of sorrow. Of decided originality in intellectual construction it cannot be said that they give emphatic proof: the poet, as Schiller has said, is the child of his age, and Mr. Tuckerman's poetry not unfrequently shows that he has been a diligent student of those masters in his art who have best caught and reproduced the spirit of the times in which we dwell. It has one quality to a high degree,--and that is, a minute knowledge of the peculiarities of the natural world as it appears in New England. In his long woodland walks, he has kept open an eye of observation as practised as that of the naturalist. The trees, the shrubs, the flowers of New England are known to him as they are to few. He is tempted to draw too largely upon this source of interest: in other words, there is too much of description in his volume. Life is hardly long enough for such elaborate painting. We may admire the skill of the delineation, but we cannot pause sufficiently before the canvas to do full justice to the painter. Those poems in which Mr. Tuckerman expresses the emotions of bereavement and sorrow are those which have the highest merit in point of thought and expression. They are full of tenderness and sensibility; but the poet should bear in mind that strings which vibrate such music should be sparingly struck.
It may be somewhat paradoxical to say so, but it appears to us that the poetry of Mr. Tuckerman would be improved, if it had more of prose in it. It does not address itself to common emotions and every-day sympathies. His flour is bolted too fine. One must almost be a poet himself to enter into full communion with him. In intellectual productions the refining process should not be carried too far: beyond a certain point, what is gained in delicacy is lost in manliness and power.
_Possibilities of Creation; or, What the World might have been._ A Book of Fancies. London: Simpkin, Marshall, & Co.
The author describes his work as a treatise of the Bridgewater class. We should rather describe it as a _reductio ad absurdum_ in Natural Philosophy. A great deal of humor, ingenuity, and information are brought into play to turn the world upside-down, for the very laudable purpose of demonstrating that it is better to be right side up,--a method of demonstration curious and interesting enough, if comprised in a single essay, but rather long-drawn-out, when spread over four hundred pages. Suppose, for instance, is the writer's mode of argument, a malicious demon let loose, with power to set the earth topsy-turvy, on condition of keeping it still an earth. With what exultation does he bestride the Himalayas to watch the convulsions which he causes! How does he kick his heels against the mountain-flanks, in ecstasy at seeing men bleached and blistered with the chlorine or nauseated with the sulphuretted hydrogen which he has substituted for our wholesome and pleasant air! Or what should we do, if potato-roots had happened to be moistened with gin instead of water? What if men, instead of standing god-like erect, had been great balls of flesh, rolling along the ground as best they could,--if Young's poetical figure had been a practical truth, and this globe were the Bedlam of the universe,--if the fixity of Nature had been shattered, and we sat down at our feasts to find the soup bitter as strychnine, the wine changed into vinegar, and mild ale fiery as vitriol? What if wrinkles and gray hairs came in the twinkling of an eye,--if children were born with matured minds,--if no one were capable of anger,--and men started at the same point to arrive at the same conclusions? In short,--
"If all the world was apple-pie, And all the sea was ink, And all the trees were bread and cheese, What should we have for drink?"
To all which startling inquiries we are fain to say, that, if Merrie England sits under her present squally skies in such a frame of bliss that she must have recourse to her imagination, when she wishes to contemplate a nice little _imbroglio_, she must be awarded the palm for being what Mark Tapley would call "jolly under creditable circumstances." For ourselves, we frankly confess that we find quite trouble enough in steering among the realities of creation, without caring to venture far out among its possibilities.
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Four American Poems, metrically translated into German. By Charles Theodore Eben. Philadelphia. F. Leypoldt. 16mo. paper. pp. 51. 25 cts.
The Art of Conversation; with Directions for Self-Education. New York. G. W. Carleton. 12mo. pp. 234. $1.25.
Tales from the Operas. Edited by George Frederick Pardon. New York. G. W. Carleton. 12mo. pp. 263. $1.00.
Historical Memoir of Joan of Arc, the Maid of Orleans. Compiled from Authentic Sources. Boston. Patrick Donahoe. 16mo. pp. 344. $1.00.
Report on the Organization and Campaigns of the Army of the Potomac: to which is added an Account of the Campaign in Western Virginia, with Plans of Battle-Fields. By George B. McClellan, Major-General United States Army. New York. Sheldon & Co. 8vo. pp. 480. $2.50.
The Laws and Principles of Whist stated and explained, and its Practice illustrated on an Original System, by Means of Hands played completely through. By Cavendish. New York. D. Appleton & Co. 16mo. pp. 94. $1.25.
Mount Vernon, and other Poems. By Harvey Rice. New York. D. Appleton & Co. 12mo. pp. 221. $1.00.
La Gaviolta: A Spanish Novel. By Fernan Caballero. Translated by J. Leander Starr. New York. John Bradburn. 12mo. pp. 281. $1.25.
The Color-Guard: being a Corporal's Notes of Military Service in the Nineteenth Army Corps. By James K. Hosmer, of the Fifty-Second Regiment Massachusetts Volunteers. Boston. Walker, Wise, & Co. 16mo. pp. xii., 244. $1.25.
Life of William Hickling Prescott. By George Ticknor. Boston. Ticknor & Fields. 4to. pp. x., 491. $7.50.
Tales of a Wayside Inn. By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Boston. Ticknor & Fields. 12mo. pp. viii., 225. $1.25.
A Woman's Ransom. By Frederick William Robinson, Author of "Grandmother's Money," etc. Boston. T. O. H. P. Burnham. 12mo. pp. viii., 412. $1.50.
Sunshine: A New Name for a Popular Lecture on Health. By Mrs. Dall, Author of "Woman's Right to Labor," etc. Boston. Walker, Wise, & Co. 16mo. paper. pp. 64. 35 cts.
The Wife's Secret. By Mrs. Ann S. Stephens. Philadelphia. T. B. Peterson & Brothers. 12mo. pp. 480. $1.50.
Lyrics of a Day; or, Newspaper Poetry. By a Volunteer in the United States Service. New York. G. W. Carleton. 16mo. pp. xii., 160. 75 cts.
Work and Play; or, Literary Varieties. By Horace Bushnell. New York. Charles Scribner. 12mo. pp. 464. $1.50.
The School-Girl's Garland. A Selection of Poetry. In Four Parts. By Mrs. C. M. Kirkland. Second Series. Parts Third and Fourth. New York. Charles Scribner. 16mo. pp. 360. $1.25.
England's Liability for Indemnity: Remarks on the Letter of "Historicus," dated November 4th, 1863; printed in the London "Times," November 7th; and reprinted in the "Boston Daily Advertiser," November 25th. By Charles G. Loring. Boston. W. V. Spencer. 8vo. paper. pp. viii., 46. 25 cts.
Satan's Devices and the Believer's Victory. By Rev. William L. Parsons, A. M. Boston. Gould & Lincoln. 12mo. pp. 312. $1.25.
Hints to Riflemen. By H. W. S. Cleveland. New York. D. Appleton & Co. 12mo. pp. 260. $1.25.
Illustrations of Universal Progress; A Series of Discussions. By Herbert Spencer, Author of "The Principles of Psychology," etc. With a Notice of Spencer's "New System of Philosophy." New York. D. Appleton & Co. 12mo. pp. xxxi., 446. $1.75.
The National Almanac and Annual Record for the Year 1864. Philadelphia. G. W. Childs. 12mo. pp. 641. $1.50.
Annual of Scientific Discovery; or, Year-Book of Facts in Science and Art for 1864. Exhibiting the most Important Discoveries and Improvements in Mechanics, Useful Arts, Natural Philosophy, Chemistry, Astronomy, Geology, Zoölogy, Botany, Mineralogy, Meteorology, Geography, Antiquities, etc. Together with Notes on the Progress of Science during the Year 1863; a List of Recent Scientific Publications; Obituaries of Eminent Scientific Men, etc. Edited by David A. Wells, A. M., M. D. Boston. Gould & Lincoln. 12mo. pp. 351. $1.50.
The Red Track. A Tale of Life in Mexico. By Gustave Aimard. Philadelphia. T. B. Peterson & Brothers. 8vo. paper. pp. 157. 50 cts.
Dangerfield's Rest; or, Before the Storm. A Novel of American Life and Manners, New York. Sheldon & Co. 12mo. pp. 392. $1.50.
The Philanthropic Results of the War in America. Collected from Official and other Authentic Sources. By an American Citizen. New York. Sheldon & Co. 18mo. pp. 160. 50 cts.
A Treatise on Military Surveying, Theoretical and Practical. Including a Description of Surveying Instruments. By G. H. Mendell, Captain of Engineers. New York. D. Van Nostrand. 12mo. pp. 193. $2.00.
The Blennerhassett Papers. Embodying the Private Journal of Harman Blennerhassett, and the hitherto Unpublished Correspondence of Burr, Alston, Comfort Tyler, Devereaux, Dayton, Adair, Miro, Emmett, Theodosia Burr Alston, Mrs. Blennerhassett, and others, their Contemporaries; developing the Purposes and Aims of those engaged in the Attempted Wilkinson and Burr Revolution; embracing also the First Account of the "Spanish Association of Kentucky," and a Memoir of Blennerhassett. By William H. Safford. Cincinnati. Moore, Wilstach, & Baldwin, 8vo. pp. 665. $3.00.
Church Essays. By George Cumming McWhorter, Author of "A Popular Hand-Book of the New Testament." New York. D. Appleton & Co. 12mo. pp. 175. $1.00.
My Cave-Life in Vicksburg. With Letters of Trial and Travel. By a Lady. New York. D. Appleton & Co. 16mo. pp. 196. $1.00.
Field Tactics for Infantry: comprising the Battalion Movements and Brigade Evolutions Useful in the Field, on the March, and in the Presence of the Enemy. By Brigadier-General William H. Morris. New York. D. Van Nostrand. 18mo. pp. 146. 75 cts.
Christian Memorials of the War; or, Scenes and Incidents Illustrative of Religious Faith and Principle, Patriotism and Bravery, in our Army. With Historical Notes. By Horatio B. Hackett, Professor of Biblical Literature and Interpretation in Newton Theological Institute. Boston. Gould & Lincoln. 12mo. pp. 252. $1.50.
Family Pride. By the Author of "Pique." Philadelphia. T. B. Peterson & Brothers. 12mo. pp. 396. $1.50.
America and her Commentators. With a Critical Sketch of Travel in the United States. By Henry T. Tuckerman. New York. C. Scribner. 8vo. pp. viii., 460. $2.50.
Synonymes of the New Testament. By Richard Chevenix Trench, D. D. Second Part. New York. C. Scribner. 12mo. pp. iv., 214. $1.00.
The Management of Steel, including Forging, Hardening, Tempering, Annealing, Shrinking, and Expansion; also the Case-Hardening of Iron. By George Ede, employed in the Royal Gun Factories Department, Woolwich Arsenal. First American, from Second London Edition. New York. D. Appleton & Co. 12mo. pp. 41. 50 cts.
Thoughts for the Christian Life. By Rev. James Drummond. With an Introduction by Rev. J. G. Holland. New York. C. Scribner. 12mo. pp. xxi., 371. $1.50.
History of the Romans under the Empire. By Charles Merivale, B. D., late Fellow of St. John's College, Cambridge. From the Fourth London Edition. With a Copious Analytical Index. Vol. III. New York. D. Appleton & Co. 12mo. pp. 431. $2.00.
The Federalist. A Commentary on the Constitution of the United States. A Collection of Essays, by Alexander Hamilton, Jay, and Madison. Also, The Continentalist and other Papers, by Hamilton. Edited by John C. Hamilton, Author of "The History of the Republic of the United States." Philadelphia. J. B. Lippincott & Co. 8vo. pp. clxvi., 660, vi. $3.50.