Lady Eureka; or, The Mystery: A Prophecy of the Future. Volume 2 by Williams, Robert Folkestone
LADY EUREKA; OR, THE MYSTERY: A PROPHECY OF THE FUTURE.
BY THE AUTHOR OF "MEPHISTOPHELES IN ENGLAND."
IN THREE VOLUMES. VOL. II.
LONDON: LONGMAN, REES, ORME, BROWN, GREEN, & LONGMANS, PATERNOSTER-ROW. 1840.
I. A CONVERSATION UPON THE PAST, THE PRESENT, AND THE FUTURE. II. AUSTRALIAN CIVILISATION. III. POSTHUMOUS AND HIS MUSEUM. IV. A CONVERSAZIONE. V. THE PHILANTHROPIST IN TROUBLE. VI. CHINA, ITS LAWS, CUSTOMS, AND PEOPLE. VII. A CHINESE POET. VIII. THE MONSOON. IX. GAME LAWS IN INDIA. X. ILLUSTRATIONS OF THE DANGER OF GOOD INTENTIONS. XI. ATHENIA.
A PROPHECY OF THE FUTURE.
A CONVERSATION UPON THE PAST, THE PRESENT, AND THE FUTURE.
"Now, doctor, you know my secret, and the whole of it," said Zabra, at the conclusion of a long and interesting narrative he had communicated to Dr. Tourniquet, upon one of his professional visits. "Let not a word pass from your lips concerning what I have told you, for it would do me irreparable mischief. Be in your behaviour to me exactly as you have been. The slightest alteration would create suspicion, and that I am most anxious to avoid. May I rely upon you?"
"Rely upon me!" cried the surgeon, while his good-natured countenance was glowing with benevolence. "If you ever catch me saying a word, I'll allow any body to make a preparation of me before I'm dead. I'd sooner demonstrate upon my own skeleton, don't you see, than betray your secret. By all that's good, you're an extraordinary creature--a more extraordinary creature than ever I met with in the whole course of my practice. I always thought there was something strange about you, don't you see--a mystery I could not exactly understand--but now every thing appears as simple as the first rudiments of medicine."
"You gratify me exceedingly by this assurance," observed the youth, "and I am delighted by your ready acquiescence with my wishes. How can I best express my gratitude?"
"Tush, tush--don't talk about that," replied the other kindly. "Knowing what I do of you, I would do any thing in the world to serve you, don't you see. Consider me from this time as your father, your brother, or your friend, and whenever my advice or assistance can be useful, apply to me, and I will do all in my power to forward your interests."
"You overpower me with your goodness," said his young companion, returning the cordial pressure of the hand he had received. "Can I ever repay----"
"Tush, tush, never mind repaying," hastily rejoined the doctor. "I am well repaid by the pleasure it gives me to assist in your noble intentions, don't you see. But if I may be allowed to give you a little advice, I should strongly recommend you not to be so careless of your life as you have been. You are not formed for fighting, don't you see. You are not strong enough; but notwithstanding that, to my certain knowledge you paid off many of the piratical rascals pretty handsomely, and showed them to what profit you could apply the lessons they had given you. When I think of you finishing some of the scoundrels so dexterously as you did, I am filled with wonder. However, it is not right. You stand no chance in the midst of a set of strong ferocious men intent upon destroying all who oppose them. Your escape is a miracle; but you should remember that you cannot be spared."
"Ah, doctor!" replied his patient, with a languid smile, "what made you join in the conflict? Consider if _you_ had been killed, what would have become of the wounded."
"True, true," responded Tourniquet; "I never gave that a thought. But I had no time to think. I saw every one preparing to fight, and I knew we should all be massacred if we didn't succeed. Although it was a sort of trade to which I was quite unused, the examples I saw before me made me valiant, and when I got fairly into the fray, I found myself obliged to cut away as hard as I could, don't you see. Fortyfolios, too, didn't do amiss. It's wonderful how the prospect of being cut to pieces, if one don't fight, _makes_ a fellow fight. The professor went at it as if he was at one of his old arguments; and I must say this for him, he convinced his opponents then much more perfectly than he does in his verbal disputes."
"He is not hurt, I hope?" inquired Zabra earnestly.
"No, but he had a narrow escape," replied the doctor. "A ball grazed his ear, and a cutlass has scratched his ribs. I should have been sorry if either had taken the effect intended; for although he is somewhat dogmatical and intemperate in his manner of arguing, he possesses no ordinary share of learning, don't you see."
"How are the rest of the wounded getting on?" asked his patient.
"Famously," said the surgeon cheerfully; "I think they are all doing well. I may add, as well as it is possible for them to do. Two or three of them have been severely used; on one I shall be obliged to perform an operation. Climberkin's wounds are beginning to heal; Ardent has returned to his duty. Many have received but trifling hurts, and Hearty, Boggle, and Master Porphyry have escaped without a scratch. This is rather surprising, considering that the old man Hearty--Captain Hearty we must call him now, I suppose--fine old fellow! hacked his way through the pirates with a cool, steady, determined courage that nothing could withstand; and as for Oriel Porphyry, he fought like a hero. I never saw such a change in any man, don't you see. He looked as if he'd been born a conqueror, and for the first time in his life had ventured into his right element. There was such a fire in his eyes, and such a grandeur in his appearance. It was extraordinary. His very looks seemed to kill; none could resist him."
"Is he not a noble creature?" said Zabra, his eyes again glowing with all their accustomed animation.
"Indeed he is," replied Dr. Tourniquet, with emphasis: "I don't wonder at your enthusiasm, don't you see. I shall begin to look upon him with a similar admiration myself. I never could have supposed that the mere appearance of daring valour was so grand and imposing; but there is something of the cause of this in his tall manly figure, and handsome countenance, don't you see."
"Hush! there is his footstep," exclaimed the youth earnestly, as he arranged with his unwounded arm the bed-clothes closely around him. "This place is too dark for him to see very accurately, which is what I require. There! be feeling my pulse when he enters."
"How is he now, doctor," inquired Oriel Porphyry, advancing towards the hammock near which the surgeon stood, seemingly intent upon his professional duties.
"His pulse is getting more firm," said Dr. Tourniquet, assuming an air of great seriousness, "and his wound is suppurating healthily. He cannot be doing better. But you must apply to the patient for further information, as I am obliged to go my rounds, don't you see." So saying, the doctor departed.
"Are you better, Zabra?" affectionately asked Master Porphyry, seating himself by the hammock of his wounded friend.
"Much better, Oriel," replied the youth, as he held out his hand to clasp that of his patron. The merchant's son felt that the small hand within his own was dry and hot, and that the flesh had lost much of the roundness by which it had previously been distinguished.
"Your skin feels feverish," remarked his companion. "But not so much so, I think, as it was yesterday; and your eyes look more brilliant. I shall be delighted when you recover, not only because I miss the rich melody of your voice, and the stirring eloquence of your conversation, but because I know the confinement and inaction consequent upon this indisposition can scarcely be endurable to such a nature as yours. But when you do recover, which I hope will be speedily, I will take care you shall not again run into such risks. Who could have supposed that you were planning such an admirable scheme! I had not the slightest idea of such a thing. Far from it, I thought, and I blame myself exceedingly for having entertained a suspicion to your prejudice, that you had some sinister intention in your behaviour to the pirates. It is only an act of justice on my part to acknowledge that I have thought unworthily of you, without a cause; but I am too well aware that such an avowal forms an inadequate reparation, you must therefore allow me to express my regrets for the injury I have done you, in a manner more in accordance with my own sense of right. I am indebted to you not only for life and liberty, but for all that render them in my case more than usually endurable; for this I can never be sufficiently grateful: and when my father comes to know, as know he soon shall, how much you assisted in rescuing his ship from the pirates, and his son from their weapons, I am quite sure that he will rather seek to increase than diminish the measure by which I would show the extent of the obligation you have rendered. But, besides this, I have a natural affection for you, which has been created by a knowledge of your amiable disposition and noble character; and I should wish you always to be with me, that I might as much as possible profit by the example of your good qualities; therefore you must submit to the necessity of sharing my fortune, and of becoming in every respect the equal of myself."
"This cannot be, Oriel," said the other mildly. "Allow me still the same opportunities I have enjoyed of watching over your safety; and if, through my care and attention you are enabled to return unharmed to Eureka, and your sentiments in my favour remain the same, and she shows no disinclination to their indulgence, I will offer no further opposition."
"This is very strange of you," remarked Oriel Porphyry. "Very strange: I cannot account for it, except I imagine that there is a sort of pride in your nature that cannot accommodate itself to any thing in the shape of favours from another."
"It is not that," replied the youth languidly. "Indeed, it is not that. Your kindness has made upon me so deep an impression, and your friendship has become so intimately commingled with all my sympathies, that now I should find it a difficult matter to exist without them. But there are causes which I cannot explain, that prevent my accepting your generous proposals, independently of which there is nothing in what I have done that deserves such a return. Remember that my duty here is to endeavour to preserve you from every danger by which you may be threatened. I have accepted an office, and I am bound to fulfil its duties. In the part I played to effect your escape out of the power of those wretches, I only performed what I had engaged myself to do; and although my efforts to deceive your captors were repugnant to my feelings, I continued the deception because I saw that there was no way of effecting your liberation, but by practising deceit. Again, I assure you, that Eureka will amply reward me (if a reward be necessary) for any service I may be so fortunate as to be able to render you."
"But why am not I to be allowed to acknowledge the obligation according to my own sense of your merit?" asked his patron.
"Because it is Eureka's chief pleasure," replied Zabra, with a faltering voice, "to reward after her own fashion those whom she employs to serve him to whom she is devoted; and surely you would not wish to deprive her of a gratification to the enjoyment of which she puts forth, as you acknowledge, so good a title."
"Well, well, I must reserve my gratitude for her then, I suppose," said Oriel Porphyry. "But, of course, you will remain with me as you have hitherto done."
"Till there shall be no longer any occasion for my stay," responded the other. "While you love Eureka, there will always appear to me to be a necessity for my remaining with you; but when your love for her disappears, there will be no longer occasion for my presence."
"Love her I always shall, for I always must; so if your stay with me depends upon the duration of my affection for her, we are not likely to separate in this life," observed the young merchant.
"I would I were certain of it," murmured his companion.
"Of nothing ought you to be more assured," replied Oriel. "Were I entirely to forget the dazzling beauty of her features, there is an earnestness of purpose in her character which will make itself remembered at all times. The nobility of her sentiments I honoured, by endeavouring to become worthy of her greatness, and the confidence with which I was treated excited in me a desire to act in such a manner as should give her no cause to withdraw it. In her person there appeared to me the avatar of all things noble, fond, and beautiful, and I did it homage with so earnest a devotion that my respect soon became an idolatry. I had no enjoyment except in her presence; I could find no excellence from which she was absent. I honoured her above all honour. I regarded her as the best as well as the dearest of human beings. I was eloquent in her praise, and devout in her worship; and thus from day to day passed the joyous time, teeming with happiness, and prodigal of honours, till there seemed in the eyes of each to be no wealth and no distinction worthy to be desired, which the other did not possess. Truly was Eureka all the world to me. An empire was in her love, and all honourable things were in her gift."
Zabra had listened attentively, but nothing save a brighter glow in his lustrous eyes expressed the interest he took in the conversation. He did not attempt to interrupt the speaker, and when the last sentence was concluded he made no reply.
"Can you add nothing in her praise, Zabra?" asked Oriel Porphyry, after a pause of a few minutes.
"She requires no praise, Oriel, certainly none from me," replied the youth. "Your applause is no doubt gratifying to her--for the heart that truly loves cannot exist but in the estimation of the lover. But there is an eulogy beyond mere praise, for which the devoted are ever desirous--the strong and earnest love, whose voice is action, and whose language is sympathy."
"And that does she possess," rejoined his companion earnestly. "My sympathies are with her at all times, and at every place, and there is no act that I perform in which I do not consider the interpretation I would have it bear in her affections. I am afraid, Zabra, this encounter with the pirates has stirred up again all those ambitious notions I have fostered with the design of achieving a renown worthy of her greatness. Certainly my first efforts in traffic, among such mean scoundrels as Boor and his brethren, did not give me so exalted an opinion of my father's profession as he and others possess. But any opportunity like the one which has thus accidentally fallen in my way will throw my blood into a ferment, and make my spirit yearn after a fair field in which to develope its energies, as they now exist. Yes, I feel as if I could only live in a life of enterprise. Inaction seems to chain me down into a slavish bondage; but when the weapon is in my grasp, and the motive within my soul, an atmosphere of freedom breathes around me, and I rise above the herd into something nearer the superiority to which I aspire."
"From what I saw of you in our late affray, I cannot help acknowledging your capability for a leader," said the youth. "You looked as if you were born to conquer. Your bearing was such as would induce thousands to follow in your footsteps--and your weapon flashed annihilation in your path."
"Pooh! it was a paltry enemy," replied Oriel disdainfully, "and they were easily crushed; but let me be at the head of armies; let my battle-field be a kingdom, and my enemy a tyrant, and then I will show of what spirit I am made."
"That cannot be, Oriel," added the other. "You must be satisfied with what you are; and as that condition is sufficiently honourable in the eyes of Eureka, you ought not to indulge in more ambitious aspirations. The risk you run in this life of enterprise should also be considered. Remember that you would hourly be in danger of immediate death, and if that were to happen where would be your ambition, and where would be Eureka's happiness? No! it is a subject of congratulation that there are no armies for you to lead, and no tyrants for you to conquer."
"There I think you are mistaken," cried his companion eagerly. "If I do not misinterpret the signs of the times, there is a spirit stirring in Columbia which will soon make itself evident in appearances that will not a little alarm its weak and despotic ruler. There is a cloud over the face of the whole country, and it will not be long before it break out into a mighty storm. Then let them look to themselves. It will come with a rush that must sweep away every obstacle before it. The whole of our complicated machinery of misgovernment will be broken up into fragments so small, that no future tyrant shall be able to patch it together again--and then will come the day of reckoning for the people. The task-masters will themselves be brought to task, and have to con the lessons they have set others. I only wish to live to see that day. I only wish to put myself forward in the movement--and lead the way that shall give freedom to my fellow-citizens. I am confident of the result. No power on earth can resist a mass of men struggling to break the bonds by which they have been fettered, when the impetus by which they are set in motion is properly directed; and for their chief I know, I feel I have all the necessary qualifications. Then I should be in my proper place. Then would the energies which now render my nature restless and dissatisfied have ample scope for their developement--and then, Zabra, my friend and brother, you should behold me performing such actions as shall more worthily excite your admiration, than the inglorious one of destroying a few wretched pirates."
"You almost convince me of the desirableness of seeing your visions of glory realised," remarked Zabra, with increased animation. "I did not imagine it would be possible; but when I listen to you, I find myself wishing you to play the noble part for which you are so well fitted: but then the thought of the dangers to which you will be exposed fills me with dread. I know that in you Eureka has concentrated all her hopes of happiness; and when I reflect upon the perils of the sort of life you are desirous of leading, I fear that it will end in no good to either her or you. But we will talk of this again at a future time. In what state have you found the ship and her cargo?"
"The ship is as much changed as it is possible for any vessel to be," replied the merchant's son. "I scarcely knew the Albatross again. Externally she has not suffered, but her interior accommodations have been completely altered. She has been pierced for thirty guns, all of which are ready for immediate use--a powder magazine has been formed out of one of the cabins, which is abundantly stored with ammunition--weapons of every description are piled up in immense chests--and provisions for a long voyage have been carefully provided. The cargo has not been touched. It is evident to me, that that scoundrel Compass, or Death, or whatever his name was, imagined that I would join him in his nefarious scheme to entrap my father's vessels; and as he knew he could not find so good a market for his plunder by any other plan, he fancied that I could be induced to assist him in its disposal. Propositions of this nature he made to me; and although every time he spoke on the subject I felt an inclination to hack him into shreds, seeing the uselessness of any attempt at resistance, I concealed my indignation as well as I could, till you communicated to me your plan for our deliverance. I saw that it could not fail of success, if ordinary vigilance was used; and my hatred of the miscreants by whom I was detained led me to play my part in the deception, which was attended with all the result we anticipated. Your wound is the only drawback to the delight I feel at our escape."
"Oh, think not of that!" exclaimed the youth warmly: "it will soon be healed."
"I hope so," responded Oriel. "As for the captain of the gang, I am only sorry that I had not an opportunity of acknowledging to him my obligations. But I think I have spoiled his career of piracy, that is one subject for congratulation. His retreat is destroyed--he has no vessel--and one half of his men are as well provided for as if the hangman had done his duty. But he was a bold villain. If what he has said of himself be true, he was fitted for better things; and from what I remarked in him, I conclude his narrative was true, at least a considerable portion of it. It appeared to me as if he only affected the vulgarity of his associates; for there were times when his conversation rose into something much superior to his ordinary language. It is evident that his intention was to put to sea almost immediately, and commence a new career of plunder and violence--happily we have been enabled to disappoint him; and I intend, at the first port we touch at, to add to our crew a sufficient number of able-bodied seamen, as will not only work the ship effectively during her voyage, but will defend her with resolution in case she should be attacked. Although I have not more inclination for a mercantile life than when I first came on board this vessel, I will not, in any way, unless it be unavoidable, diverge from the path my father wishes me to pursue, until I return, and then I shall expect to be allowed to follow my own inclinations, and choose my own road to distinction."
"It must be so, I suppose," remarked Zabra. "Any opposition on my part would be fruitless--nay, if it were not for the dangers which you must encounter in a life of active warfare, I should be among the first to approve of your ambitious desires--I should love to see you the creator of your own glory--I should delight in the honours you would achieve--I should rejoice in your renown--but I must think of her whom I serve, who, although she would equally admire your greatness, could not avoid thinking of the perils of the path by which only it can be acquired, and must live in a state of constant anxiety while you were pursuing your dangerous career. You do not think sufficiently of her feelings. Why can you not be satisfied with inheriting the fame and wealth of your admirable father, and the happiness which must surely be your own as long as you prove yourself anxious for its possession?"
"Why does the sun shine?--why does the tide ebb and flow?" said Oriel hastily. "They follow the end for which they were made, and the same absolute law compels me to make out the purposes for which I was created. There is nothing so unreasonable as expecting one human being to become like another whose nature is entirely opposite to his. I have known inconsiderate persons say to one whose disposition is restless and dissatisfied, and whose inclinations are violent and ungovernable, 'Look at such a one--he is content with his condition, and goes on his own quiet way, creating no desire that cannot easily be indulged; why cannot you be like him?'--as easily might the mountain torrent be made like the stream of the valley. One flows on its own level course, meeting with no obstruction, and the other, at every portion of its path, is forced to dash itself against the unrelenting rocks that oppose its progress. And how unjust is the manner in which each individual is regarded! one is praised for continuing its unvarying tranquillity--and the other is censured for the unceasing turmoil in which it exists. This is preposterous. No more have such characters made their own dispositions than the stream made the level land through which it flows, or the torrent created the rocks over which it leaps. Dam up the gentle rivulet with huge masses of stone, and see how quickly it will become as much troubled as its unjustly abused associate of the mountain; and take the rocks from the path of the torrent, and the quietude with which it will pursue its course will rival the tranquillity of its over-lauded brother of the valley. If there is any praise due at all it is to him who struggles on against all impediments, and shows that his spirit is not to be put down by the obstacles that retard his progress. Complain of his being restless and dissatisfied--how can he be any thing else, when his soul is kept in a constant fret by the worry of continual opposition? Say that his inclinations are violent and ungovernable--can it ever be otherwise, when they are daily accumulating in force, because they are allowed no opportunity for indulgence? Nothing can be more unjust to a man thus situated than to tell him to endeavour to be like another, whose situation is as opposite to his as are the poles to one another; and nothing can be more unwise than to complain of this man, because his disposition does not resemble that of another, whose way of life, and habits of thinking, and hopes and passions, are as different to his as any two sets of things can possibly be made. As for me, I am what I am--neither better nor worse. Let those who think me worse than I am keep to themselves their evil thoughts, that the force of ill opinion does not make me become what they unjustly imagine me to be; but let those who think me better than I am proclaim to me their flattering testimonials, that, knowing what excellences they fancy I possess, I may use every exertion to deem myself worthy of their good opinion, and at last succeed in obtaining the very qualities for which I was undeservedly honoured by their too indulgent regard."
"Ah, Oriel!" replied his young companion affectionately, "you know it would be difficult for any one who knows you well to imagine a quality of good you have not made your own."
"If I listen to you, I must be content to remain what I am," said Oriel Porphyry, as he rose to take his leave. "And as such a state of things does not satisfy me, to prevent myself being spoiled for any better purpose, I must, for the present, leave you--of course with my best wishes for your speedy recovery."
"Thank you, Oriel, thank you!" exclaimed Zabra warmly, returning the affectionate pressure of the hand he at that moment received, and following, with his eyes overflowing with his friendly feelings, the retreating form of his kind and generous patron.
Time had passed. The vessel had gone gallantly on her voyage, and was now quietly riding at anchor in the port of Sydney, the magnificent metropolis of the great empire of Australia. Oriel Porphyry had landed to transact business with an individual of some note in that part of the world. Posthumous was an extensive manufacturer, who had amassed an immense fortune by a mechanical discovery he had purchased, by means of which one machine was made to do the work of ten; and the funds at his disposal he employed in forming a museum, which he intended leaving, at his death, for the benefit of his country. His love of fame was his ruling passion; and to acquire it he seemed inclined to make any sacrifice. He accumulated every thing which he considered rare or curious for his museum; but, as he was no judge of the value of the collection he was forming, he often purchased things perfectly worthless, merely because they were recommended to him as objects that might be regarded with the greatest interest by posterity. To all who visited him, his pride was to exhibit his collection; and, although none were more ignorant of its real nature than himself, none could expatiate so much at length upon its merits. He was a walking catalogue--a talking index--a living table of contents; and he seemed as if he knew of no pleasure that did not allow him to display his museum and gossip about every specimen it contained.
Oriel and Zabra were walking together to the residence of the person thus described, when the former, doubtful as to whether he was pursuing the right direction, observing a man leaning against a post near a crossing at a short distance, went up to him for the purpose of making inquiries as to the exact locality of the place of which he was in search. The man was a street sweeper. His broom was beside him; and he was so intent upon a book he appeared to be studying, that Oriel noticed its title. It was "Geometry for Beggars."
"Pray can you direct me to Botany Square?" inquired the young merchant.
"Botany Square is an ellipsis," replied the matter-of-fact sweeper; "but if the transverse, conjugate, and abscissa are known, it is easy to find the ordinate. To proceed to it from this point requires a right line to where the next street appears at a right angle with it, whence, going along any part of its superficies, you will approach where the sides of three streets form an isosceles triangle; take the one side nearest to you in its whole extent, which having found, describe the area of a trapezium, whose diagonal is equal to twice its perpendiculars; and from the centre continue a right line till you approach a trapezoid whose sides are parallel; and from this, diverging in such a manner as to construct a hyperbola, if straight lines be drawn from the centre through the extremities of its conjugate axis, these will lead direct to the ellipsis you are desirous of finding."
"Can you direct me to Botany Square?" again asked Oriel Porphyry, puzzled to think whether the man was mad or did not understand his question.
"Botany Square is an ellipsis, I tell you again," said the geometrician rather sharply; "and Euclid himself could not have described to you a more accurate method of finding it than that you have just heard from me. Work the problem properly, and the result must be what you require. All the parts are equal to the whole; the greater includes the less; and of several equal parts all are alike: and these propositions are not more true than is the answer I have given to your query; therefore allow me to hope that you will, in consideration of the accuracy of my analysis, find the perpendicular of your pocket, subtract from its base any circle whose circumference is a known quantity, and place it within the superficies of my hand."
"He's mad!" exclaimed Oriel, walking on.
"He's minus!" cried the beggar, and returned to his geometry.
The two pedestrians continued on their way, wondering not a little at meeting with the strange character with whom they had just parted, when, upon entering the next street, they observed a confused mass of people running to and fro, shouting and making a most discordant uproar.
"Can you tell me the cause of this disturbance?" inquired Oriel Porphyry, addressing a respectable looking mechanic who was hurrying past him.
"The cause?" replied the stranger, immediately stopping in his career. "The cause is always the phenomenon which precedes the effect. Philosophers have disputed about the most appropriate definition of the term; but in any system of transcendental ideas there must always be an antecedency and a subsequency; and although they have been considered synchronous in their existence, in my opinion the effect is to the cause what the shadow is to the light--the shadow is not in the light, but is produced by the operation of the light upon an object; so the effect is not in the cause, but is produced by the action of the cause upon an agent. Some metaphysicians conceive that the relation of cause and effect should be considered as a synthetical judgment _à priori_--a postulate of pure reason. In my opinion, this idea is open to many objections; but I will avoid all argument on that point for the present, and merely go into an analysis of the nature of causation. There are three indispensable conditions to any philosophical theory of causation. In the first place, there are two objects--the agent and the patient. Secondly, there are three changes, which are--that of the agent, reason of the effect; that of the patient, effect of the action; that which is produced by the patient on the agent, and the effect of re-action. And, thirdly, there are four distinct moments, which are--that which leads to the action, that which commences with it, that of the re-action, and that which immediately follows the re-action. And----"
"And pray, sir, what has all this to do with the disturbance about which I inquired?" said the young merchant, as much puzzled with the mechanic as he was by the beggar.
"You asked for the cause, and I am explaining to you all the phenomena which a cause may produce," responded the other. "But I regret I cannot stop to describe to you my original ideas on the subject. If you are anxious to apply your mind to their investigation, you will find them in the Philosophical Chimney-sweep's Penny Magazine; and if I can be of service to you in any other way, you can always command me on the shortest notice, and on the most reasonable terms." So saying, he placed a card in Oriel's hand, and was very quickly out of sight. The card was of a pink colour, was glazed and embossed; and on it was elegantly engraved, "Leibnitz Kant Chummy, Chimney-sweep and Nightman to the Royal Family, in all its branches." The two friends found quite as much wonder as amusement in what they had heard.
"I had been told that these Australians were the most enlightened people on the earth," remarked Oriel; "but I certainly never expected to be mystified after this fashion by two individuals belonging to the very lowest ranks, upon merely asking a simple question."
"Perhaps they are exceptions to the mass," replied Zabra; "and every one else we meet we shall doubtless find as common-place as we require. Try this old fish-woman: it will be extraordinary, indeed, if you meet with either geometry or metaphysics in her."
Oriel approached a female whose sex was scarcely distinguishable, as she squatted by a basket of fish, in a man's old great coat and hat. She observed a stranger advancing towards her; and, believing him to be a customer, she held up one of her fish so as to put all its good qualities into the best situation for minute inspection.
"Fine and fresh--worthy to make a dinner for a prince!" she exclaimed.
"My good woman, can you tell me the attraction which brings all these people together?" asked Oriel Porphyry.
In a moment the old hag put down her fish, and, with the seriousness of a Socrates, replied, "There are three kinds of attraction; which are, the mathematical, the mathematico-physical, and the physical attraction: of which of these do you require a definition?"
"Confound the people, they're all alike!" exclaimed the young merchant; but the old dame, without noticing the exclamation, continued:--
"Suppose A to be a glass of any comfortable liquor with which you may feel inclined to treat me, and B my mouth, which is at all times very desirous of a coalition with the same. When A moves towards B, it is evident that B has the power directly or indirectly of drawing or attracting A; and when you notice this, and measure the law of the motion, and discover that A moves as if attracted towards B by some simple law, you will easily be enabled to ascertain what will take place if the motion continue. This is mathematical attraction. When it becomes evident that A not only moves towards B, but that B is an agent in the motion created, as, to satisfy the thirst or inclination of B, A is attracted towards it, A always moving where there is thirst or inclination, but never where neither exist, then this is called mathematico-physical attraction. And when, by a power existing in B, A is drawn towards it without any other exciting cause; thus, if nothing else in the world existed but A and B in a state of rest, and A move towards B by some influence which is as much a part of its nature as its thirst or inclination, then would be created what is called physical attraction. And now, for a trifle, I will give you the most convincing demonstration of the _modus operandi_ of all these phenomena."
"Perdition seize your A and B, I say!" cried Oriel, as he hastily left the old woman to her philosophy.
"An exemplification of repulsion!" muttered she, as she again commenced endeavouring to dispose of her fish.
Oriel and his companion had entered a street of shops, in which they had no sooner made their appearance than they were surrounded by a crowd of tradespeople, bawling in their ears the excellence and cheapness of their commodities, and endeavouring to pull or entice them into their warehouses, the exteriors of which were covered with immense placards, proclaiming the ruin of the sellers, and the advantages which in consequence would accrue to the fortunate buyers.
"Full fifty per cent. under cost price!" cried one.
"A hundred per cent. below the cost, be assured!" shouted another.
"I must be ruined in a week, sir!" proclaimed a third, as if rejoicing at the near approach of his destruction.
"I _am_ ruined!" screamed a fourth, in a tone of emphatic exultation.
"My family must starve!" exclaimed a fifth, without the slightest expression of regret.
"My family _are_ starving!" confessed a sixth, as if it was a subject of the greatest congratulation.
"I have seven children, sir!" whispered a little man, apparently as the most enticing recommendation of his goods.
"I have a wife and ten!" bawled a companion, in a voice of triumph that seemed to silence all competition.
"This way, sir!"
"No; this way!"
"The best goods!"
"The very best!"
"Mine are the cheapest!"
"Mine are much cheaper!"
And thus they went on shouting at and pulling the two young men about, till they were obliged to seek refuge in one of the shops; but immediately they entered the threshold, the whole body of eager applicants for custom left the strangers to the care of their more fortunate fellow-tradesman.
"Really you shopkeepers seem inclined to tear your customers to pieces," observed Oriel Porphyry with considerable indignation.
"Merely the effect of competition, sir," coolly replied the chapman, spreading out his wares for inspection.
"Then it is a competition that must be exceedingly disagreeable to the purchaser," said the young merchant.
"Can't be helped, sir," added the man in the same careless tone. "When the supply exceeds the demand, the value of this overproduction must greatly diminish; and every attempt will be made to produce, at any loss, an increased consumption. How many pairs of these gloves would you like to have, sir? You shall have them at a small advance beyond the cost of their carriage from the place in which they were manufactured."
"But I have no cash about me," acknowledged Oriel, thinking it would be sufficient to avoid a purchase that was not necessary.
"Not of the slightest consequence, sir. I will gladly give you credit to any amount," said the obliging tradesman.
"Indeed! why I am a perfect stranger in the country," observed his unwilling customer with much surprise.
"No matter, sir," added the other; "public credit must be supported; all business transactions are done upon its responsibility. Ready money is destructive of all the true interests of trade; for, as capital in a state overcrowded in population can never be created in a supply sufficient for the wants of the community, the surest way of preventing those dangerous revolutions which so often affect the monied interests of a great commercial nation is to trade entirely with fictitious capital. This is credit, sir; and we use every means within our power to create it to an extent sufficient to supply all our wants, and to support it in all its sufficiency when it is established. The manufacturer supplies the wholesale dealer; the wholesale dealer provides the retail tradesman; and the retail tradesman carries on his business with his customers upon the sure foundation of credit. Not a coin is seen in the hands of either party from one year's end to the other; and a man's wealth is known not by the mere exchangeable property he possesses, but by the extent of the credit he is allowed. Political economy is a wonderful science, sir; and the ancients were entirely ignorant of its true principles. Shall I put you up a few dozen of these stockings? the price, I assure you, does not pay for the raw material."
"Well, well; as you seem desirous of ruining yourself, I do not see that I ought to stand in your way; so you may let me have a dozen pairs of the stockings and of the gloves," said Master Porphyry.
"Thank you, sir," replied the tradesman. "But as for ruin, sir, is it not done for the public good? Think what a man having a wife and ten children to support must feel when he knows that he has reduced them and himself to absolute starvation for the advantage of the community--for the greatest happiness of the greatest number, sir. Beautiful feeling, sir; exquisite consolation; a perfect patriotism! He knows that he becomes a martyr for his country. Think of that, sir! He is conscious of being made a victim for the general advantage. Think of that, sir! And while his skin and bones hang together, he feels the sweet solace that he is allowed to make himself a sacrifice for the wants of those who never heard of his name. Think of that, sir! Any other article, sir?"
"Not at present. It is wonderful to me how, in such a state of things, men can be brought to enter into the pursuits of trade," observed his customer.
"All the effect of competition, sir," answered the man quietly. "Fine thing competition. We should none of us enjoy the satisfaction of being ruined, if it was not for competition; and the beautiful principle of it is, sir, that it makes a man consider that he is greatest honoured who is soonest ruined; therefore we all run a race--and a very anxious race it is, I assure you. We undersell each other--we dispose of our goods at a certain loss--we even give them away--and happy is the man who is ruined before his rivals. Admirable thing, competition! Where shall I send them, sir?"
"Send them to Master Porphyry, on board the ship Albatross, now in the harbour, and I will call and pay you before I depart," replied the young merchant.
"Don't hurry yourself, sir," said the tradesman. "Don't hurry yourself, I entreat. Nay, I should be just as well pleased were you to forget it altogether, for then I shall be a step nearer to the honour I so much covet--the distinction of being ruined before any other person in the same line of business in my immediate neighbourhood. I am grateful to you for your favours. Any thing you may require, sir--the most extensive order you can give me I shall be happy to supply on the same advantageous terms. Any thing you like to accept, sir, is at your disposal. I implore you to have the generosity to assist in my ruin."
Zabra and his companion, at last, with great difficulty, got out of the shop, and proceeded, unmolested, on their way, till they came to an opening in the street, where several men seemed to be preaching from little elevations, each to his own separate congregation, yet frequently alluding to their coadjutors, in such terms as clearly proved that they were rivals in the trade they had adopted.
"Come, my children, to me, and I will expound to you the law by which alone you can be saved from everlasting punishment," exclaimed a fat faced little old man to his audience. "Fly from the things of this world--pay your teachers liberally--care not for eating or drinking, or amusing yourselves with idle pleasures, and you shall live in eternal happiness!"
"Fire and brimstone! Flame and torment! Prepare for these, my beloved brethren!" shouted a lank fellow with a most hypocritical physiognomy. "Ye who are the elect shall enjoy the good things, but scorching and burning shall be the everlasting portion of those who are not of our communion."
"Heed not the voices of ungodly men, to whom the evangelical grace has not descended," cried a stern-visaged preacher. "Our way is a way of mercy, a way of charity, and a way of peace. But rejoice, oh my hearers! for the time is not afar off when we will smite the unbelievers from shoulder to hip, till their name be utterly removed from the land."
"Hear a voice which none can understand, but which is sent to enlighten the universe," screamed one, whose brilliant eyes and wild expression of countenance seemed marked by the influence of insanity--"Hu--ugh--hullabaloo--scrikey-smash--drido--snolk--hi ha botherum--pickwickicksicceriggidiggy----"
"I tell thee, friend, thy way is the way of perdition, humph," exclaimed another, with a nasal twang, and a clean sleek appearance. "Verily it is the way of the bottomless pit. There is no virtue save under a beaver with a broad brim, humph! and the spirit can only be found in vestments of a formal cut, and of a drab colour, humph!"
"Leave those heretics, my children, who can only hurry you on the road of iniquity, and enter the bosom of the true church," shouted a brawny fellow in the dress of a mendicant. "Here is holy water, and here are relics that have the power of saving your souls from purgatory."
"Abominations--abominations--the abominations of the scarlet one of Babylon!" cried one opposite to him with looks of horror and indignation. "Leave them, and I will sprinkle water upon you, which will render you a sheep of our fold."
"Sprinkling is of no avail!" shrieked a melancholy fanatic. "Come and be dipped--come and be dipped into the waters of everlasting righteousness."
"Oh, Fader Aprahams!--Fader Aprahams!" said a dark visaged old man with a long beard, as he smote his breast, and turned up his eyes to heaven. "How long shall these obstacles remain in the way of thy chosen!"
"Down with the Jew!" bawled the rest in hideous chorus--"Down with the unrelenting Jew! Our religion is one of universal love. Cut the Jew into a thousand pieces, and cast him to the dogs!"
"Let us leave these miserable brawlers," exclaimed Oriel, hurrying his companion from the spot. "Truly has my father said that the only religion is philanthropy, and the only worship of God consists in doing good to man. Nothing annoys me so much as observing a parcel of noisy fellows sowing dissension around them on the hypocritical pretence of teaching the surest means of saving sinners from perdition. Disputes about religion, entered into by persons professing different forms of faith, may be compared to the wranglings of a party of men concerning the excellence of different roads in a country of the geography of which all are ignorant."
"You should not judge of the whole class of teachers by such examples as we have just passed," remarked Zabra. "That the general influence of the clerical profession is beneficial has been denied by some narrow-minded men, who, because there have been a few instances of unworthiness obtaining distinction in the church, and of vicious propensities disgracing a professed teacher of virtue, denounce the institution that created them as unlikely to produce any real good to the community. But who condemns a fruitful tree, because, while it bears a profitable crop, a handful of blighted fruit may occasionally be found on its branches? The clergy are but a section of the vast mass of the social fabric; and it is as absurd for any one with a knowledge of human nature, to expect that every individual member of its body should be led into the profession by no other motive than the love of virtue, as to imagine that every soldier should be brave and join the ranks only from a desire for glory--or, that every lawyer should be honest, and embrace the law exclusively to advocate the principles of justice. It is, certainly, a natural expectation, that all who affect to show others the road to heaven should travel that way themselves, and to satisfy this expectation is the grand object of the institution of priesthood; but it is as rare that the allurements of the world can be prevented producing vicious effects upon those who are obliged to mingle in them, as it is difficult to guard against the encroachments of a disease by those who are forced to inhale an infectious atmosphere. The wonder should be, not that any fall, but that so many escape. When we come to consider the immense contributions to the general stock of intelligence afforded by the clergy, which embrace every branch of human learning and scientific acquirement--the active benevolence of at least a large majority--their unceasing endeavours to instil into the hearts of the people the refreshing influence of a pure system of morals--and the effect of their individual respectability in commanding attention to the great object for which they labour--illiberal indeed must he be who denies the utility of an establishment productive of so much good. To despise a sporting parson, a political priest, or a fashionable divine, is both right and natural, and they must receive condemnation from all who know how to appreciate the actions of a servant who serves any master but his own; but while an acknowledgment must be regretfully made of the existence of such hypocritical pretenders in the ranks of the church, when we reflect upon the vast fund of real piety, of pure philanthropy, and of sound learning it possesses, the influence of which cannot be otherwise than beneficial in the highest degree, we should rejoice that there is a class of men in existence that provides so liberally for the moral wants of the people, which, both by the precept and example of its worthiest members, affords such admirable means for counteracting the evil effects likely to be produced by its inefficient or immoral brethren. That the clergy produce good, it is impossible to deny; and that they do not produce so much good as is desirable, arises more from inaptitude in the community to be taught, than from want of ability in the clergy to instruct."
"You deserve a rich benefice for your defence, Zabra," said Oriel Porphyry, with a smile; "and I have no doubt if those sentiments continue, and you embrace the profession, you will become one of the highest dignitaries of the church. But what is this fellow talking about so earnestly? More wonders, I suppose."
He was a man ill-clad and ill-looking, who carried a bundle of papers in his hand, which he was trying to sell to the persons who were listening attentively to some intelligence he was bawling in the street with all the strength of his lungs.
"Extraordinary example of combustion!" shouted the fellow. "All the materials of matter which made up the bodies of Cutandrun, the famous inventor of infallible fire-escapes, and his family, have been placed in a state of decomposition by the action of phlogiston upon his house and stock. Here is a philosophical account, detailing the causes and effects of the phenomena--giving a scientific analysis of the ashes found in different situations--with an entirely new theory of the laws which render combustion so destructive in its agency upon inflammable matter. Only one penny."
"Well, that is certainly one way of describing a fire," observed Oriel Porphyry. "But chemistry, I suppose, is as well understood here as other branches of science appear to be. However, we must be proceeding, or we shall never arrive at our destination. As I am very doubtful about the right direction, I think we had better avail ourselves of one of these vehicles."
The director of a small light carriage for two persons was then hailed; and the two friends were about to enter it, when several boys, carrying bundles of papers, ran up to them, and commenced vociferating with loud voices entreaties to purchase their goods.
"Buy the Sydney Philosophical and Critical Quarterly Review. Only one penny," cried one little urchin.
"Here's the Universal Encyclopædia of Useful Knowledge, only one halfpenny," exclaimed a second.
"Neither are to be compared to these treatises by the Society for the Diffusion of Science among the Insane, sir,--only one farthing!" bawled a third.
"Away with you!" shouted Oriel Porphyry, as he sprang into the carriage, followed by his companion.
"At what velocity shall I apply the power?" inquired the conductor very civilly.
"Oh, moderate; and put me down at the house of Posthumous, in Botany Square," said his customer.
"Yes, sir," replied the man.
"Here's an article on the ponderability of imponderable substances; worth double the money for the whole review," cried one of the little booksellers.
"Here's a treatise on----" but what it was on must remain unknown; for both Zabra and his patron were far out of sight and hearing of their tormentors before the last sentence was concluded; and, in a few minutes, they found themselves opposite a stately mansion, which they stopped some time to examine. It seemed an edifice of more modern date than any near it on either side. A flight of broad steps led, under a small portico supported by pillars which in thickness seemed to rival their length, to an entrance by folding doors large enough to admit a regiment of soldiers, over which was placed three draperied figures in marble, sculptured as large as life, blowing trumpets towards three points of the compass, and dropping each a wreath upon the bust of a man with a foolish countenance, upon the base of which, in large letters, was conspicuously placed the name "POSTHUMOUS." Small windows were on each side, and above the door. Over the portico was placed a row of caryatidæ, resembling opera dancers making a pirouette, that supported an entablature, upon which a cumbrous attic was raised, forming an elevation as heavy and incongruous as it is possible to conceive.
POSTHUMOUS AND HIS MUSEUM.
With considerable parade Oriel Porphyry and his companion were ushered through long passages containing a variety of monstrous antiquities, into a small room filled with books and curiosities, where, at a curiously shaped table covered with a number of strange things, sat the original of the bust over the door--a man much beyond the middle age, with a short body, long legs and arms, broad shoulders, a clumsy head, and a foolish face. He was dressed in a tawdry morning gown, and was examining some articles of rarity brought him by several dealers, who were waiting till he had made his purchases.
"You tell me that this is a very rare copy," said Posthumous, appearing to regard with much attention a large book he held in his hand.
"The only copy in existence, sir, I assure you," replied the bookseller. "It fetched thirty guineas at the sale of Bookworm's library."
"And you are quite convinced that it is the stupidest book that ever was published?" inquired the collector.
"I have abundant testimonials to prove it, sir," rejoined the other. "The fact is, that the work, when published, which was as much as a thousand years ago, was so generally attacked by the reviewers for the incomprehensible nonsense with which it was filled, that the author, in a fit of shame, tried to buy up all the copies; and in this design he succeeded, with the exception of the one you have, which had fortunately fallen into the hands of a person celebrated for collecting works of a similar nature. All the rest were destroyed."
"And how much do you want for it?" asked the buyer.
"As you are a particular customer, and as I am very desirous that it should enrich the Posthumous Library, for which it is admirably adapted, I shall only ask you twenty pounds," said the seller.
"'Tis mine--and there's the money!" exclaimed the former, as if delighted with his purchase. "And you are quite sure it is decidedly the stupidest book in existence?" he added.
"I am positive," replied the other.
"Inestimable treasure!" cried the collector, clasping the volume in an ecstasy. "Now has the Posthumous Library a jewel which the whole world could not rival. Have you anything else?"
"Here is an unique copy of a very rare work, called 'The Philosophy of Flea-catching,' in sheets, clean and uncut. The learned Scribble-gossip says that this volume has now become so scarce that there is only one other copy extant, which is in the public library in India. This, however, has one important advantage over the other, which renders it of incalculably more value; for, if you notice, it has the Finis at the end printed backwards."
"Wonderful!" muttered his patron, as he noticed the extraordinary feature. "And what shall I pay you for it?"
"Only ten guineas, sir."
"There they are; and much reason will posterity have to congratulate itself that I am the fortunate possessor of 'The Philosophy of Flea-catching,' with the Finis printed backwards."
"Exactly so, sir, exactly. Your observations are always full of meaning. I wish you good morning."
"Good morning, Catalogue, good morning--and mind you show me everything rare that comes into your possession," cried Posthumous.
"Depend upon it, sir, you shall always have the first refusal," replied Catalogue; and he took his departure.
"And what have you brought me wrapt up in that green baize, Marble?" inquired the wealthy manufacturer, of a little shrivelled old man, who had been waiting for an opportunity to exhibit the article he had for sale.
"An antique--a real antique, sir!" said the little fellow, hastily taking off the covering. "The bust of a beautiful lady of rank, from the the chisel of the immortal Chantrey."
"Why she hasn't any nose!" exclaimed the virtuoso in a tone of disappointment. "Her face is battered to pieces, and she has lost half her shoulder."
"All the more valuable for that, sir," replied the man very coolly. "It shows its antiquity. I could have brought you many things more handsome to look upon, but so rare a piece of sculpture I have never yet had in my possession. Look how exquisitely that neck is formed! Charming, sir. Though not a feature is visible, the bust breathes an air of grace which it is impossible to look on without admiring. Sawdust, the great timber merchant, offered me fifty guineas for it to adorn his gallery, but I remembered that my generous and enlightened patron Posthumous was forming a museum, and, knowing that this was the very thing he required, refused the offer."
"Very good of you, Marble. I detest that Sawdust; he has no taste," remarked the collector. "But are you sure this is an antique?"
"Am I sure of my existence, sir?" replied the little man, looking as dignified as he could. "My judgment in these matters is infallible. But as you do not seem to appreciate the merit of this beautiful example of art, I shall take it to Sawdust."
"Not for the world, Marble!" exclaimed Posthumous, producing the money. "Here's the price; but, I must say, I should have liked it all the better if it had possessed something like a human countenance."
"Take my word for it, sir, that is not of the slightest consequence," said the man, as he pocketed the money. "The spirit of a great artist is upon it, and that is all that a connoisseur should look to."
"And what have you there?" inquired the purchaser, perceiving that the dealer was uncovering another specimen.
"A picture, sir--and _such_ a picture!" responded the man emphatically, as he proceeded to place a small old oil painting in what he considered the most advantageous light. "A _chef d'oeuvre_, sir; a work of one of the old masters. An undoubted original. Don't you feel a sort of emotion overpower you as you stand before it?"
"Why, I do feel rather queer; but I thought it was indigestion," replied the connoisseur, closely examining the picture.
"Psha!" exclaimed the little man rather contemptuously. "You ought to feel the all-pervading influence of superior genius. You are looking upon a master-piece. Do you remark the harmony with which the colours are blended in that wonderful production, the poetical treatment of the subject, and the sweet repose that pervades the picture?"
"To tell you the truth," said the patron, looking a little puzzled, "I have been examining it very closely, and I can see nothing at all."
"The effect of the great age of the picture, sir," responded the dealer. "The influence of time has destroyed every vestige of colour on the canvass; and it is impossible to make out a single feature in the painting. But be assured, sir, it is a wonderful production--an invaluable work of art. Emperors would be glad of such an addition to their collections; and artists would travel over half the world to gaze upon an example so unique. I have had many handsome offers for it, sir. Sawdust bid very high. He knew its value, sir. But I resolved that it should enrich the invaluable Posthumous collection of paintings; and I therefore offer it to you at the low price of two hundred guineas."
"Humph! I'm obliged to you, Marble," remarked the manufacturer, still poking his foolish face as close to the canvass as he could, and apparently hesitating about making the purchase. "That fellow Sawdust has no soul for these things. But what is it about, Marble? I should like to know the subject. Tell me what it is about, Marble."
"Why, sir, it is about--as far as I and all the best judges can ascertain--it is about the most ancient painting in the world," replied the dealer.
"A very fine subject," said the connoisseur; "and now I do begin to perceive a sort of a what's-a-name. But do you think posterity would applaud my giving such a price for such a painting with such a subject?"
"They could not do otherwise than greatly applaud your fine discrimination and admirable liberality," responded the little man with all the enthusiasm of a picture-dealer.
"Then I must have it," remarked Posthumous, as he paid the money; "posterity will reward my exertions."
"There is no doubt of it, sir. I wish you good morning," cried the man, bustling out of the room with an air of peculiar satisfaction.
"Good morning to you, Marble," exclaimed the collector, still closely examining the painting; "and if you have any thing rare, be sure to let me know. But, if it be in sculpture, I should prefer seeing something with a nose to it; and if it be a painting, although this is a capital subject, I should like it to be a little more easily made out."
"I will endeavour to meet your wishes," said the dealer; and he made his bow.
"Capital subject!" continued the connoisseur, still intently poring over his puzzling purchase: "capital subject--but I don't see it very clearly yet. There is a something there, and there is a something here; but--hullo, gentlemen!" he exclaimed, noticing his visitors for the first time. "I beg pardon; but I really did not know you were in the room. Have you brought me any curiosities--any thing rare or antique?"
"This letter will explain to you our business," replied Oriel Porphyry, handing a note across the table.
"Sit down, my good sir, sit down," cried the antiquarian; and, on his visitors complying with his request, he proceeded slowly to read the letter; and, during the period he took in its perusal, Oriel amused himself with examining the extraordinary contents of the room in which he was sitting. The chamber was low and dark, and every corner in it was filled with books heaped up together, without the slightest attempt at arrangement; some glittering with handsome bindings, new and unsoiled; and others old and ragged, covered with dirt, and dark with age. With these were pictures, some leaning against the wall, some upon chairs, others one upon another upon the floor, surrounded by huge fragments of stone, broken pieces of statuary, bronzes, ancient weapons, specimens of pottery, and a variety of other antiquities. Here was a full-length statue deprived of a leg, there an antique bust with half a nose; in one place a vase gaping with a conspicuous fracture, in another a sepulchral urn chipped out of all resemblance to what it once was. Of all the varied contents of the room, there remained nothing that had not in some manner been rendered useless, if at any time it had been considered of value, or, if perfect, had the slightest pretensions to be considered antique. But the most amusing piece of antiquity in this collection was evidently the proprietor, whose face and head expressed a more perfect appearance of want of intellect than the most skilful sculptor could have produced. His nose was a bulging lump of flesh, that looked like any thing but the thing for which it was intended; his eyes were deep set in his head, and were continually gazing in a settled stare of foolish wonder and delight; and his mouth, which was more than usually large, when its possessor was not talking stood invitingly half open, as if to ensnare all the flies in its neighbourhood. And with these characteristics there was a pompous manner with which he said his foolish nothings, that rendered the man more highly ridiculous.
"So you have come to purchase, instead of to sell," exclaimed he with much astonishment. "I had rather you had brought me some rare antiques to enrich my museum--the Posthumous Museum, as it is called. Do they talk of it in Columbia?"
"I cannot say I ever heard it mentioned," said Oriel, endeavouring to conceal a smile.
"Ah! posterity will do me honour; and it is for posterity I labour," added the manufacturer. "But I will give orders about what you require by and by. In the meantime, you must take up your abode with me, that you may be enabled to appreciate all the wonderful things I have collected in my museum for the benefit of posterity, that, when you return to your country, you may say how invaluable is the Posthumous Museum, and how enlightened and liberal is he who has spent a large fortune in collecting together its precious contents! I shall have a conversazione this evening, when you will meet with some of the most celebrated literati in this great empire; till then, I will endeavour to amuse you by making you aware of the value of this unrivalled collection of antiquities. In the first place, you behold this dagger," said he, showing an ordinary weapon of that description. "Well, this is the identical dagger that Macbeth saw in the air when he exclaimed, 'Is this a dagger that I see before me?' and so on."
"But Macbeth merely imagined that he beheld such a weapon," observed Oriel, amused at the credulity of his host.
"Exactly so; and this is the very weapon Macbeth imagined he beheld," replied the antiquarian. "It is undoubtedly genuine: I have documents to prove it. This is the very seal with which Magna Charta signed King John--no!--King John signed Runnemede--no, that's not it either--Runnemede signed the Barons--I am not just sure I have it now, but it must be one or the other. And this is the very seal;" and he produced a seal about the size of a small lantern. "Here is an undoubted Jew's harp--a great rarity. I don't know what Jew it belonged to; but its genuineness is placed beyond suspicion."
"It bears no resemblance to the harps in present use, either in size or appearance," remarked Zabra.
"A proof of its great antiquity," replied Posthumous. "You see it has but one string. Now, it is upon record that, at a remote age, there was a fiddler called Pagan Ninny. Whether he was called a pagan because he was a ninny, or a ninny because he was a pagan, it is impossible to prove; but certain it is that he played upon one string; and he played so well, that instruments upon one string came into fashion both among the Pagans and the Jews; and that is the reason why there is but one string to this Jew's harp. You observe this cake of mineral substance," he continued, pointing to a small bluish mass. "There is a deep interest attached to this specimen. I never look at it without feeling emotions of--that is to say, emotions of a what's-a-name, with which every monied man must sympathise. It is the remains of a great man--of a very great man--of a man whose credit with the world was exceeded by none in his day. It is the ashes of Abraham Newland!"
The manufacturer turned away, but whether to conceal a tear or to produce another curiosity was doubtful; however he was only a few seconds before he again approached his visitors, bearing a large fragment of wood crumbling into decay. "But here, gentlemen," said he, "here is an object that cannot fail to awaken--to awaken--that is to say, it cannot fail to awaken, but what it ought to awaken I do not exactly remember now; however, that is not of the slightest consequence. You have, no doubt, read of England, a very ancient island. Well, the inhabitants being very industrious did not like being disturbed by their neighbours, an idle dishonest set of rascals, who were continually coming upon their territory and doing a great deal of damage; so to keep out these troublesome marauders--marauders--marauders?--yes, that's the word, and having very fine forests of timber in their country, they surrounded their island with wooden walls; and this specimen, gentlemen, is an unquestionable fragment of the wooden walls of old England, procured for me at great expense by a traveller, who being in that part of the world found it in the remains of a wall within a very short distance of the sea-coast. It is the only antiquity of the kind in existence. None but the Posthumous Museum can boast of such an invaluable relic of the ancient ages: for posterity I acquired it, and for having become its fortunate possessor posterity will not fail to do justice to my memory."
Posthumous continued to give descriptions of a great variety of similar objects in the same fashion, till he approached some pictures, one of which he selected with great care, and placed in a favourable light.
"Look at this picture, gentlemen!" he exclaimed, as his foolish face endeavoured to express something like wonder and admiration. "Observe the chiaro-scuro--the chiaro-scuro?--yes, that's the word, though I don't exactly remember what it means. Admire the foreshortening--the harmony--the repose--the expression, and all that. Fine effect--admirable picture! The subject is Joshua commanding his son to stand still. Excellent subject! The son was a very restless boy, gentlemen, who required to be ruled with rather a high hand; so Mister Joshua, a good sort of father too, by all accounts, was obliged to teach him to be quiet in a manner boys don't in general admire. It is painted by the immortal Snooks. Talk of Rubens, and Raphael, and Corregio, and Titian, and others of the ancients,--they were never to be compared to the immortal Snooks--the sublime, the incomparable, the illustrious Snooks. He had such a miraculous--such an extraordinary--such an unrivalled--I don't know what it was; but he had something, at any rate, that was very fine, and gave a sort of wonderful incomprehensible--you understand me--to such a degree, that seven-and-twenty cities have carried on a most violent dispute about which had the honour of giving him birth, and each erected a stupendous monument, having nothing else upon it but this sublime inscription, 'HERE SNOOKS WAS BORN!' But when he died, gentlemen, there was a regular scramble for his remains, and one carried away an arm, another a leg, a third took possession of the head, a fourth of the body, and many rejoiced in being so fortunate as to be able to screw off a toe nail, or punch out one of his teeth; and on the strength of this some forty different towns and cities have raised most magnificent mausolea, bearing these excruciating words, 'HERE SNOOKS DIED!'"
"He must have enjoyed a great degree of fame indeed," remarked Oriel.
"Yes, sir," replied the connoisseur; "and although he has shared the fate of many, who, though popular when living, get pulled to pieces immediately they are dead, his reputation has only increased by it. Now, gentlemen, let me show you this painting. It is a sea piece, you will observe, and possesses all that amazing freshness and transparency, and--and--what d'ye call 'em, which is considered so admirable by the best judges. You may actually feel the moisture of the water, gentlemen, if you stay long enough; and that is the reason I put my hat on whenever I look at it, to prevent catching cold. Poor Tipple! his was a different fate from that of the immortal Snooks. No one thought of disputing about the honour of his birth or burial. He enjoyed no post mortem--post mortem?--yes, that's it--he enjoyed no post mortem gratifications. The nails were left upon his unhappy toes, and the teeth remained undisturbed in his miserable jaws. But he was a great artist,--who could paint water as he did? None! There was a sort of an indescribable, inimitable--and--and a whatso'name in his water, that nobody else's water ever looked like. You could see your face in it, Sir. But somehow or other while he was--not a hewer of wood--but a drawer of water, whether the sight of such a pure, sweet, refreshing beverage made him continually thirsty, I'm not certain, but he drank, gentlemen, not his own water, even when he drew it ever so mild, but strong waters, till they overpowered his weak constitution, got into his upper story by an hydraulic--hydraulic? Yes, that's the word--by an hydraulic power of their own, till he created a deluge in his own body, without the use of colours, which spoiled his palate, and made him obliged to brush. Ah! Tipple was a great artist. There was a sort of a truth, a nature, a thingembob about every thing he attempted, which gave to all his paintings a certain, a--you understand, which is perfectly delightful to look upon. He has not been appreciated by his cotempop--contompo--contempo--confound it, I forget the word, but however he was not appreciated by somebody. But perhaps, like me, he looked to posterity; and although he has not created a Posthumous museum, as some of his best productions form a portion of its invaluable contents, it is very possible that when posterity does me justice it will not forget the merits of Tipple."
After Posthumous had detailed at sufficient length his description of the contents of his library, he led the two friends into a suite of several rooms, not at all suitable for the purpose for which they had been erected, in which objects in natural history were arranged, if arrangement it might be called, for here were animals, vegetables, minerals, and fossils, mingled together as if they belonged to the same family, but the specimens, like those in the library, were every one imperfect--they were all deficient in something or other, which rendered them comparatively useless to the student and valueless to the collector. This defect, however, was not observed by the owner, who imagined that there was not a collection in the world that could boast of so many unique specimens from the stores of nature and art, as the Posthumous museum.
"You see, gentlemen, before you, the wonders of nature, from a tadpole to an elephant!" exclaimed the manufacturer, in a tone of exultation. "I have collected these--I have collected them for the benefit of posterity, and not without considerable expense and labour, as you may believe. But when a man is excited into action--yes, excited into action--by an idea so comprehensive, so universal--so whatso'name, as forming a museum for the benefit of posterity, he thinks not of the trouble to which he may be put, or the money he may be out of pocket, when he is endeavouring to develope--yes, that's it--endeavouring to develope his own philosophical conceptions. Well--this is an--this is a--this is an animal of some kind, but the name I do not at present remember. You can at once perceive how much it differs from all other animals: in the first place, it has four legs--two behind and two before--an extraordinary coincidence--coincidence? Yes, that's the word--and it possesses a tail, which, marvellous as it may seem, is invariably placed upon the rump of the animal, and as nearly opposite to its head as head and tail can be. Now you will notice the head. It has, you see--two jaws, one above and the other below; and, though it may appear strange, the upper jaw never sinks below the under jaw even if the poor beast be ever so chap-fallen--and the under never rises above the upper jaw. Very curious that. That animal, you will observe by the teeth--I don't know how though, is carnivorous--carnivorous? Yes, that's the word, which means that it eats nothing but grass. It's called by zoologists one of the roomy--roomy--roomy--one of the roomy something, but I'll be hanged if I can remember what--and I suppose it is because it requires a sort of an expanse--an extensive, a--whatdyecallem, to move about in. Now _this_ animal is a different species altogether. It is what they call a--you understand. It has the same number of legs, the same number of tails, and the same number of heads as the other animal, and yet their natures are entirely, absolutely, and something else which I've forgot, different. Isn't it wonderful? This is a grani--yes, a granivorous quadruped, and consequently eats flesh, mutton chops, beef steaks, or anything else of the same sort. You see these hoofs, how admirably adapted they are for tearing their prey, much better than knives and forks, when they, under the influence of a certain impulse or instinct, or whatso'name, roam about the wilds looking after their eatables. Wonderful, isn't it? Both these animals belong to the class mammalia; yes--mammalia--a word that signifies that their mothers are called mammies."
"You quite enlighten me on the subject," observed Oriel Porphyry, endeavouring to suppress a laugh.
"Ay, Sir, I've studied it for a very long length of time," replied his host. "I know it thoroughly, you may depend upon it. Now, Sir, here is a fish. Fishes swim, you know, Sir."
"I was aware of that," remarked Oriel, as gravely as he could.
"But they don't swim when they're dead, Sir," rejoined the manufacturer, as if desirous of making his auditors wonder at the extraordinary fact. "Curious phenomenon--phenomenon? Yes, that's the word--curious phenomenon that. Well, this fish is dead, and were you to try ever so, you could not induce it to swim. You will observe that it has scales. Now the animals we have just examined have no scales. Singular, isn't it? That peculiarity in its organiza--organi--organ something, which I have forgot, is a wise provision of nature--a sort of whatsoname to prevent the fish from getting wet through when exposed to the continual action of the watery element--yes, of the watery element. So these scales are very important in its animal economy--ay, animal economy--and you will remember, as a remarkable coincidence that completely proves the value of these things, that Justice is always represented with scales, Isn't it wonderful?"
"Wonderful!" replied both the young men in a breath.
"Now this is a reptile, you will observe," said Posthumous, pointing to a small snake in a glass case. "This has scales, and yet it is not a fish. Strange, isn't it? Here's the name. It is the _Bipède cannelé_. The first word signifies that it's a biped, like man, though it's got no legs; and the other word denotes that it's found in canals. Here are some shells: this one is called _Coriocella nigra_, because it always frequents the cellars of the blacks; and this is the _Velutina capulöidea_, the first word of which means that it was discovered by Veluti, a chonchologist--a chonchologist?--yes, a chonchologist, celebrated in his day for the ardour with which he investigated--I mean the spirit with which he penetrated--no, that's not it; but, at any rate, it was a peculiar whatso'name with which he made his researches; and what the other word implies I am not quite certain; but it appears by the last syllables to mean some low idea which it isn't worth inquiring into."
"And what are these things?" inquired Zabra, looking at a confused mass of insects lying together in a case.
"Those are the Chalcididæ," replied the manufacturer, reading from a paper affixed to it; "a family of hymenopterous insects, which the heathens made sacred to their god Hymen, because they were very much given to the marriage state; and this belongs to the section Pupivora, because they are always found upon puppies. You will observe that they have wings, and these wings are used for flying. But all insects have not got wings, consequently some of them cannot fly. Wonderful, isn't it? As I said before, it is a wise provision of nature to give them a sort of a facility--a convenience--a thingembob, for the purpose of more easily transporting them from place to place. Isn't it strange?"
"What bird is this?" asked Oriel, pointing to a stuffed specimen.
"Ha! now you will observe another extraordinary thing," exclaimed his host. "This creature also possesses wings, and yet it is not an insect. Marvellous coincidence! This is one of the Agami, so called because it is considered excellent game; and has the scientific name of _Psophia crepitans_, from its fondness of creeping upon sofas. You observe that this animal has but two legs: the first animals we noticed had four, and the fish had none; yet all of them, by that sort of natural a--you understand, are enabled to go about wherever they like, and indulge themselves in every kind of--something I don't remember, according to their individual capacities--their individual capacities?--yes, their individual capacities. Isn't it wonderful?"
"And pray what stones are these?" inquired Zabra, directing attention to two or three large fragments of stone leaning against the wall.
"They are not stones, but fossils," replied Posthumous, trying to look amazingly sagacious; "and the difference between a stone and a fossil is a--the difference between a fossil and a stone. Isn't it strange?"
"Wonderful!" exclaimed his visitors.
"You see it is very hard," continued their companion, "and has the skeleton of an animal long since extinct--extinct? yes, extinct--long since extinct, plainly marked upon it. It is said that, once upon a time, long before I can remember, there was a shower of rain came down, that not only wetted every one to the skin, in spite of their umbrellas, but actually drowned all the animals in the world, except those--yes, except those who were not drowned. Well, the poor things when they were dead couldn't move in the least; and, in course of time, by the continual deposit of--of whatso'name upon their bodies, they became squeezed into the earth round about them, and that becoming hard, they became hard also. Now these are minerals. The earth, you know, is made like a bread and butter pudding; a layer of bread and butter, then a layer of currants, and so on; in what are called _strata_--yes, _strata_, because they're always straight;--and sometimes they find coal, and sometimes stone, and sometimes clay, and sometimes something I don't remember, and sometimes something I have forgot; and all these things are kept together in their proper places by a sort of--you understand--which holds the world firmly together, so that people may walk upon it without fear of its tumbling to pieces. Wonderful, isn't it?"
In this way Posthumous proceeded describing to his visitors the contents of his museum. Every object was noticed, and all relating to it he knew, which appeared at all times more novel than authentic, was minutely detailed, with a look and a manner marked by self-approbation and stupidity, that were exceedingly amusing, till the hour arrived for dinner; when he seemed, with considerable reluctance, to leave its many attractions, and led the way into a dining-room, which was also crammed with every species of antiquity he had considered sufficiently valuable for his collection, where, with a mummy at his feet, and a statue without a head at his elbow, he did the honours of hospitality, mingling them with liberal allusions to the benefit he was intent upon doing posterity.
It was evening, and every part of the Posthumous museum was brilliantly lit up and filled with visitors. The manufacturer gave a conversazione, and his rooms were filled with some of the most celebrated characters in the world of wealth, fashion, and literature of Sydney. Some turned over the leaves of books--others looked through portfolios of prints--some examined the paintings--and others scrutinised the antiquities--a few appeared intent upon studying the appearances of the different specimens of natural history, and others seemed equally desirous of becoming acquainted with the disposition of their companions. Some in little circles were arguing upon various subjects, and in a room by themselves were a more select party enjoying the performance of some excellent music. Posthumous did not seem on terms of intimacy with many of his guests, for they passed him with as much indifference as if he was some one not worthy to be known; but he was remarkably attentive to Oriel and his companion, describing, as they passed along, the different persons that crowded his rooms, and only occasionally stopping in his remarks to exchange a few words with some of his visitors with whom he knew he might be familiar.
"You see that person before you in the brown and yellow thingembob, with a long nose and a remarkable sort of a whatso'name in his appearance," said Posthumous. The two friends saw who was meant, but did not recognise him by the description. "There, he's examining that Chinese idol. He's a clever man--decidedly a clever man. He lived most part of his life in China, because, he said, the country always suited him to a T; and has written ever so many books about its geography and use of the globes, habits, customs, laws, antiquities, and something else I don't remember. He says their chronolo--chronology?--yes, chronology, that's the word--he says their chronology is the most ancient in the world; but I'll be bound to say that there's a more ancient chronology in my museum, only I can't tell exactly where to lay my hands upon it. But a very learned writer is Chopstick--very learned. It was he who discovered that the tea-plant was originally cultivated in England, as he found there a river called _Tees_, and ascertained that the ancient name of the people was _Celtæ_, so called from their selling teas. That little man in the snuff-coloured--you understand, knows more about antiquities than any body in Australia. It was he who proved so clearly that our city was originally built by Sir Philip Sydney, an architect who was very partial to erecting arcades, so much so that he wrote a work about them called Arcadia, and from him our metropolis has derived its name. Talking of antiquities, do you know I met in a book the other day something about a psychological--psychological? yes, that was the word--something about a psychological curiosity; and although I have offered any price for a psychological curiosity, I have not been able to procure one. But let us hear what Dustofages is saying about that piece of ancient brickwork. It has an inscription upon it which has puzzled me completely."
Posthumous and his young visitors approached the table on which rested a considerable piece of brickwork that had attracted the attention of the little antiquarian.
"I am tolerably certain," said Dustofages with a grave face, to a few anxious students of the art in which he was so famous, that thronged near him, "I am tolerably certain that this inscription is in the English language, and from its appearance I should pronounce it to be cotemporaneous with the Georgian dynasty."
"Wonderful!" murmured Posthumous.
"The first three letters are evidently a T, an R, and a Y, which make the word TRY," continued the antiquarian: "and the letters of the next word, though nearly obliterated, taken together, form the name WARRENS--and this ancient inscription, therefore, is 'Try Warrens'--but what it means I am not so confident. Perhaps this Warrens was a notorious offender whom the people wished to have tried and punished; and therefore expressed their wishes in a conspicuous manner, that the government might notice it, and _try Warrens_: this was a way the populace then had of making their sentiments known to their rulers as may be ascertained by an antique fragment in the Australian Museum, on which is inscribed the words, 'Down with the Whigs!'"
"Extraordinary!" exclaimed Posthumous.
"But as in the whole course of my reading I have met with no allusion to any notorious character of the name of Warrens," continued the little man, "it is quite as probable that some obscure individual made the inscription as a sort of memento to attract the attention of his mistress, expressive of his love and fidelity--he wished her to _try Warrens_. In the English anthology, from a very ancient poem, I met with these lines, addressed by a lover to his mistress--
"Try me, try me, Prove ere you deny me"--
which proves that lovers were desirous of being tried; and as so many inscriptions exist in which the ancients showed their attachment to their females by inscriptions on wood and stone, declaring their wishes, there can be but little doubt that these words were placed here by some enamoured youth who was desirous that a particular female, whose name has not come down to us, should 'Try Warrens.'"
"Isn't it wonderful?" cried the delighted Posthumous, and without waiting for an answer hurried his companions to another room. "How do you do, Bluey?" he exclaimed, addressing a tall thin lady with a bilious complexion, who appeared to be examining some minerals.
"Rather say, how does my will do," replied the lady, very gravely; "for it is my will that does every thing. I must have the will to do, before the action can be done. If you mean merely to inquire into the state of the mere animal machine, I must reply, that of the chemical combinations now in process, the acids overpower the alkalis, and produce an acetous fermentation in the natural laboratory, that disturbs the sanatory functions of my particular system, and tends to create new combinations injurious in their action upon the animal fibre; but as I know that as a sufficient proportion of the earthy salts, either in carbonates or sulphates, held in solution, or in any other form that may be most convenient, operating upon the acids, will counteract their unhealthy tendency and render them inert, I do not care for the disorder of my organic substances. It is not of sufficient importance to distract my attention from the interesting study of chemical affinities."
"Well, I'm sorry you're so bad," remarked the inquirer, in a tone of regret.
"Bad is the antagonist of good," said the lady, sharply; "and I beg to say that I am not bad. Bad is evil--I am not evil--therefore I am not bad. Bad is base--I am not base--therefore I am not bad. In fact, bad is a very unphilosophical term to apply upon such an occasion. You should have said that you regretted that there should exist any chemical combinations in my system of natural processes that support life, which are not characteristic of a state of health."
"At any rate, I hope you will soon get better," responded her host.
"Better is worse than bad," replied his guest with additional severity. "To be better, implies an antecedent state of badness, and I tell you again I am not bad, I have not been bad, and I do not intend to be bad."
"Well, good bye--good bye," he exclaimed, attempting to hurry away.
"There is no sense in the phrase 'good bye;' it means nothing," said the lady hastily: "it is an abbreviation of 'good be with you.' Now, if you mean to say that I am good, I deny it. I deny that I am either good or bad; good and bad being qualities not existing in the object, for what appears good to one may seem bad to another; but they arise in the idea of the individual."
Posthumous and his companions were glad when they were out of hearing of the lady, whose metaphysics and chemistry they could not appreciate in the way she desired.
"Ah, do you see that tall man behind his whiskers?" inquired the manufacturer, pointing to a person who answered to such a description. "He has got a very remarkable, stately sort of whatso'name, hasn't he? He's a member of the government, a great patron of literature and science, and--and something I forget. He's been known to spend as much as sixpence a week in the cheap publications; and many a miserable starving author, who has sent him his works, he has actually enriched with his good wishes. Great patron, isn't he? The person he's talking to in the beautiful head of hair, is a political writer on the ministerial side, who has a wonderful, incomprehensible--a--you understand, that's very delightful. He writes about the glorious constitution, our admirable government, and--and something with a fine name I don't remember, in a style that's absolutely, completely, and downright thingembob. That lady, that seems to be looking after her youth and beauty, is the authoress of a work which has been very popular, called, 'The whole Duty of Man,' which is filled with long chapters upon short commons or fasting, praying, sneezing, the cultivation of carrots and virtue, the bringing up children and mustard and cress, and directions about paying bills and visits. The young man, trying to admire himself in the glass, is a novelist famous for the splendour of his imaginative conceptions--yes, of his imaginative conceptions. His books are like the rooms of a dealer in fashionable furniture; or-molu and mother-of-pearl, rosewood and ivory, buhl and something I forget, meet one in every page; and he writes about gold, and silver, and precious stones, as if he had been an apprentice to a jeweller. Then his stories are always celebrated for a certain pathetic whatso'name, which is much admired. Now let us go into the music room."
The three associates passed through the crowd which filled the rooms to the great danger of the more breakable antiquities, Posthumous stopping occasionally to talk to one or welcome another, till they arrived in the music room, where they took some refreshments as they entered. A beautiful girl was accompanying herself while singing the following words, to which all seemed to listen with the greatest attention:--
The lunar tide began to flow, The tidal wave moved to and fro, Bright shone each constellation; Except where in th' horizon's space Some planets, with reluctant pace, Commenced their declination.
Then Coma unto Stella came, To show to her his ardent flame, Apparent in aphelion; As had been done for many years, In their peculiar hemispheres, While placed in perihelion.
"Ah, Stella!" said the glowing swain, "My flame to thee I bring again, In hopes thou wilt absorb it: My course, eccentric though it be, Moves near as it may come to thee In my peculiar orbit."
"Away!" cried Stella, "come not here; Go, shine within another sphere, I feel not thy attraction; I have beheld thy parallax, And noticed thy erratic tracks, Thy action and reaction."
A cloud on Coma's face appeared, And when its atmosphere was cleared, In rapid execution Of Stella's dark command, he set, And strove for ever to forget Her radiant revolution.
"Beautiful!" cried a dozen voices in a breath, as soon as the song was concluded.
"So exquisitely pathetic!" murmured one.
"So perfectly natural!" exclaimed another.
"It is admirable; is it not, sir?" said a young lady with a remarkable pair of languishing eyes, as she directed their eloquent gaze full upon the handsome face of Oriel Porphyry.
"No doubt it is, madam, if you think so," replied the merchant's son, with more politeness than sincerity.
"Ah! our opinions are the same--the effect of a mutual sympathy. How charming!" observed the young beauty languidly. "Do you believe in the theory of mutual sympathies?"
"I must confess I know nothing about it," acknowledged Oriel.
"Innocence exemplified!" exclaimed his companion, regarding him with more evident admiration. "I will explain it to you. There exists in every human creature in one sex a decided inclination towards some human creature in the other sex, which is never developed till those two meet together, and then it immediately becomes manifest. Now suppose, for example, I possess a certain amicable feeling, which remains perfectly unknown until I meet with you for the first time, when an immediate consciousness tells me that my sympathy is excited."
"Wonderful, isn't it?" said Posthumous.
Oriel was at a loss what to reply; but Zabra's dark eyes appeared flashing with indignation.
"Now, these sympathies ought to be indulged; or why are they created?" asked the fair sophist. "If we observe nature, which is always the best guide, we shall find all her impulses followed out to their purpose, to the great increase of the pleasures of the individual. Nature never can be wrong; therefore, if we follow nature, we shall always be right."
"Exactly so!" responded the manufacturer. "I remember seeing a puppy running after his own tail, and he was delighted at the fun. Yes, follow nature, certainly."
Oriel Porphyry with great difficulty refrained from laughing. Zabra, on the contrary, looked upon the young lady with an expression of scorn that made his countenance appear darker than ever.
"It was a conviction of the truth of this theory that made me write my work on the philosophy of mutual communion," continued their companion, "where you will find proved, by arguments that cannot be confuted, that there is no happiness in the world except in love--that love is this mutual sympathy between two individuals of the two sexes--and that this sympathy should invariably be indulged as often as it exists."
"Well, I have always had something of the same notion about love," remarked Posthumous, gravely. "I consider love to be a sort of a very beautiful, interesting--a--you understand, in one person, for a peculiar, charming, delightful--a--whatsoname in another."
"I should imagine, from what I have observed, that the true nature of love is perfectly unknown to either of you," observed Zabra, with some asperity; "it only dwells in the breasts of those whose qualities assimilate with its own. It is the principle of truth, of purity, and of excellence; and whomsoever it touches it makes true, and pure, and excellent in the eyes of the lover. There is wisdom in it; for wisdom is ever an emanation of truth. There is beauty in it; for beauty is the essential spirit of purity. And there is in it an omnipotent power; for in excellence will always be found the greatest degree of greatness. Love, being true, enlightens; being pure, sanctifies; and being excellent, strengthens all by whom it is possessed. It is a virtue from which all virtues proceed. It is the nobility of nature. It is the humanity of life. Without it the sun would be black, and the heavens a void; a strife would be among all things, and a devouring death consume the universe. With it the power of a perfecting will fills the glad heart; and in whatever corner of the earth there breathes the principle of existence, love will enter into its most secret depths; infuse into them a purpose hitherto unknown; fill them with a power to suffer and to conquer that cannot be set aside, and render the individual, the atmosphere he inhales, and all things he sees, touches, or hears, the receptacle of a perfect felicity, that endures even unto the very threshold of oblivion. It is this feeling, and this feeling alone, that has created whatever is admirable around us; we admire, because we love; and we love, only to produce a continuation of the qualities we have admired."
Oriel regarded the animated countenance of his youthful companion with his usual affection. The young lady gazed upon his beautiful features with apparently more sympathy than his friend had excited; and Posthumous opened his mouth, rubbed his eyes, and stared, and looked all the wonder and admiration his foolish face was capable of expressing; and when he did find language, which was not for some minutes after the speaker had concluded, he exclaimed--
"Yes, sir, that's exactly what I said. It is nothing in the world more than a simple, a--something I have forgot, arising entirely in the organisation of the individual--organisation of the individual?--yes, organisation of the individual, that produces a peculiar sort of feeling in the a--whatsoname."
THE PHILANTHROPIST IN TROUBLE.
Oriel Porphyry made a considerable stay in Australia, visiting most of the principal cities, the manufacturing and agricultural districts, in fact, whatever part of the country was considered most worthy of notice; bartering his merchandise, and making purchases of such articles of traffic as might be advantageously disposed of during his voyage. Before he left the country he received from his father the following communication:--
"I hope by this time, my dear Oriel, you are completely reconciled to the way of life I wish you to follow, and I am quite sure that the longer you live the more cause you will have to rejoice at pursuing a path so honourable. Every day I exist, I the more fervently congratulate myself upon having forsaken the deceitful splendour of a false ambition, for wherever I look around among those who belong to that undeservedly honoured section of society I was forced to leave in disgust, I observe so much of envy, inquietude, pride, folly, hatred, ignorance, ambition, and tyranny, I wonder that such things the prejudices of custom can regard with homage. I see the title of majesty applied to an individual who is the very reverse of majestic; his highness is diminutive; his grace awkward; a fellow, though he be a notorious cheat, may still be a nobleman; and however unworthy or ignorant be a person of rank, he is allowed to take precedence of virtue, of intellect, and of every species of human excellence, undistinguished by the title he possesses. I do not mean to assert that a man is in any way the worse for having this sort of distinction, for I have found many real noble men among our aristocracy; what I maintain is, that they are in no way exalted by it. And when I compare the good effected by this class with the good effected by those who do not belong to it, the disproportion is so immense that I must always call in question the advantage of maintaining a section of society in an acknowledged state of superiority to the rest, who, to the rest, are of so little utility.
"The next thing to be considered is--are they a happier race of individuals than those whom they think beneath them? Most of them are in the enjoyment of many luxuries; but luxury and happiness are far from being synonymous: and when we come to look into the artificial state of life in which these people exist, and notice their exclusiveness, their rivalries, their ostentatious splendour, and their prodigal meannesses, we can afford them only a low place on the scale of happiness--one certainly much beneath that possessed by persons whom they are in the habit of thinking their inferiors. Yet this is the sort of greatness, Oriel, you seemed so desirous of possessing. That desire, I hope, has given place to better and nobler aspirations. There is a wider field now open to you; from which the landscape shows every attraction which ought to allure you forward. Go on, Oriel, go on and prosper. Let me see you a philanthropist, and I shall die content.
"There have been some stirring doings in Columbia since you left the country. Our rulers seem desperately intent upon working their own destruction. I regret this. I regret it for the sake of these inconsiderate men--I regret it more for the sake of the community at large, who, if they are driven into open opposition and strife, and bloodshed ensue, must be the immediate sufferers. Public meetings have been held in various parts of the empire, particularly in the northern provinces, and resolutions reflecting very strongly upon the ministers have been agreed to in the presence of immense multitudes of the people. Some disturbances have taken place, which were put down only at the sacrifice of several lives, and many of the most influential of the public prints, notwithstanding the ruinous prosecutions, fines, and imprisonments, with which all who advocated the cause of the people are punished, denounced the measures of the government in a very bold tone. The meetings in the metropolis were equally important, and their proceedings were conducted with a similar degree of energy.
"As the highest municipal officer--as a legislator of considerable experience, independent of my reputation as a private individual, I naturally enjoyed much influence among my fellow-citizens. They looked up to me for advice, and were always anxious for my countenance. It was with great uneasiness that I observed the mischievous policy pursued by the Emperor's advisers. I saw that its tendency was to fill the hearts of the people with a spirit of resistance, that must eventually lead to a fierce and relentless civil war, that might deluge the country with blood, and destroy its prosperity by the withering blast of flame and the sword. What to do in this fearful crisis was not a subject to be dismissed without deep reflection. To its consideration I gave anxious days and sleepless nights. I knew that, if the existing feeling continued, a struggle would commence that could not easily be stopped; it would continue while there was hope on one side, and power on the other; and to the true patriot there can be nothing so horrible as the prospect of a savage warfare around him, in which the children of the same soil must be set to slaughter one another. On the other hand, it was equally evident that, if the government were allowed to carry on their despotic proceedings, every citizen would be obliged to give up the privilege of his manhood, and become a slave; and I had so much of the mighty impulses of freedom in my nature as would not allow me to look tamely on, while the chains were riveting around my subjected country.
"I saw that there was but one way to secure my fellow-countrymen from the approaching degradation without having recourse to deeds of violence. From my place in the legislature I continually described the alarming state of the empire, and foretold the fearful consequences which must result if ministers proceeded in the course they were pursuing. With all the eloquence of which I was master, I implored them to desist. I entreated that the obnoxious measures might be abandoned, and offered to become security for the immediate return of the public tranquillity if the desire I expressed was complied with. At the same time, whenever I was called upon to direct or attend a popular assembly, which was almost daily, I strongly advised the propriety of refraining from violence. I recommended continual public meetings, in which the voice of the nation might be spoken without intemperance; and that the ministers might be made sufficiently aware of the state of opinion, I advocated the policy of petitioning the legislature for redress, in firm but respectful language, throughout every part of the united empire. The government paid no attention to my labours. I was listened to with inattention, and my arguments were treated with disdain. Proud in the use of a slavish and corrupt majority, proud in the exercise of a power they wished to render irresponsible, and proud in the possession of an immense standing army, whose services they retained by profligate expenditure of the public money, they attempted to stifle the voice of opinion, by constant endeavours to prevent the meetings of the people, and by treating their petitions with studied contempt.
"The effect these proceedings had upon me I leave you to imagine. I never could have supposed any set of men could have been found so indifferent to their own interests. But the emperor resolved to render his power absolute, and his advisers had urged the necessity of pursuing what they called strong measures, arguing that, if they stopped now at the clamour that had been raised, it would be impossible for them to resume their measures at any future time. In vain I preached patience and resignation, peace and temperance. Prosecutions and persecutions were going on in every direction. The presses that laboured to diffuse among the people a knowledge of their true situation were seized and destroyed, and the persons connected with them were incarcerated in dungeons; private dwellings were invaded, on the most frivolous pretexts, in search of imaginary conspiracies, and their inmates were subjected to every kind of indignity--mulcted in heavy penalties, or carried off from their homes and never more heard of; spies appeared to lurk in every house; and no sooner was a public meeting announced than measures were taken to prevent its being held, by filling the place with heavily armed troops. My anxiety grew more intense every day. I saw the storm must burst; I knew that the strife must begin; and when I beheld the almost countless masses of military that filled the country, ready to act on the first emergency, and knew that they would oppose men undisciplined and imperfectly armed, I shuddered at the mere anticipation of the consequences.
"Among those who took a part with me in opposing, in a constitutional manner, the proceedings of the government, might be found many of the most enlightened, the most admirable, and the most wealthy men in the empire; men whose characters were unimpeachable, and whose property formed an important stake in the country; and they were earnest in their philanthropy, and sincere in their patriotism. They agreed with me in opinion that peace ought to be preserved till they were absolutely forced to take up arms. But there were others amongst us, young and headstrong politicians, or crafty and deceitful spies, who appeared most anxious to provoke an immediate collision. That the strife was about to commence was the general impression, for many provided themselves with arms, and others endeavoured to secure their property. This state of things continued from day to day, creating the most tyrannical laws, and making the indignation more general. All expected a blow to be struck; but having no acknowledged leader, and no settled plan of action, none were ready to strike. At last, as a final resource, I thought of once more calling a public meeting; and to avoid its being prevented by the government, as others had been, it was kept secret among known friends till the last moment, when each communicated it to a separate circle with such excellent effect, that the assembly was one of the most crowded that had ever been held.
"It was my duty to open the business of the day. Much as I feared the coming warfare, knowing that success could only be gained at the expense of incalculable misery and suffering, I felt the painful truth that the end justified the means, and endeavoured to prepare myself, as well as my excited feelings would allow me, to take my share in the approaching struggle. I abhor bloodshed; from my heart and soul I loathe it. I would have sacrificed myself willingly to obtain justice for my fellow-citizens; but justice seemed a thing only to be procured by force. I addressed the meeting. I felt that the labours of a long life, endured to create a more general happiness, were about to be risked in a strife of brother against brother. All that I had endeavoured to avoid would now become unavoidable--the reign of discord would commence--the wounds I had healed would break out afresh--the good I had done would be turned to evil--the felicity I had created would end in wretchedness. With these convictions of the mind, the sympathies of the heart may easily be imagined. I at first addressed the meeting as if mourning at the funeral of my own hopes. I related all that had been endured, and the eyes of my attentive auditors seemed to burn with indignation, and their brows scowled with resentment. I described the patience with which all had been endured, and their looks were restless and gloomy. I detailed every instance of contempt with which that patience had been regarded, and the breasts of the strong men heaved with passion, and their glances were stern and fierce. I told them how much I lamented the blindness and obstinacy of their rulers, and showed them the deep and just cause I had for that regret; but having stated that all had been attempted that the most patriotic philanthropist could have suggested to escape unshackled from the evils with which we were threatened, I told them that nothing now was to be done to preserve our liberties but to maintain them by force of arms. Twenty thousand eager voices, joining in one continued cheer, testified their readiness to follow the suggestion. 'A long life has been devoted to your service,' said I, 'whose greatest pleasure has been created by the pleasures it has been enabled to diffuse. I would much rather that the life had been prolonged to continue its enjoyment in the same gladdening labour; but our rulers have willed it otherwise. I cannot end my existence as hitherto it has proceeded--not in the sweet indulgence of my friendly feelings towards my species--not in the observance of the tranquil bliss they have produced. No matter! I have ever been devoted to your service; my life must end in pursuing the same duty. I will stand by you in the struggle you must now commence; and all the power and wealth and influence I possess shall aid you in obtaining its successful issue.' Cheers rent the air--such cheers as, if they had heard them, and seen the immense multitude from whom they proceeded, emulating each other in the expression of their grateful enthusiasm, would have made our ministers glad on any terms to undo the mischievous work they had executed.
"Many influential persons spoke to the same effect; and it was agreed that as large a body of men as could be got together should go to the emperor's palace, and desire the instant abrogation of the unpopular edicts. If they met with force, it was to be resisted; and as soon as the struggle became inevitable, the bells of the different churches were to be rung to arms, and a simultaneous attack made on all the military positions, so as to prevent the troops leaving their barracks while the emperor's palace was stormed. This plan was no sooner agreed upon than it was resolved to be put in immediate execution, to prevent the government taking measures to prevent its success; and a general rendezvous having been appointed, every man left the meeting with the intention of preparing himself for the fray. I had returned home, melancholy, I must acknowledge; for I could not reflect upon the dangers to which the mass of my fellow-citizens would soon be exposed without feelings of the deepest anguish; and I had scarcely crossed my own threshold before I saw that the place was filled and surrounded by armed men, by whom I was immediately seized, treated with every indignity, dragged through the streets to a dungeon, and, after having been loaded with heavy chains, there left to the contemplation of darkness and filth.
"The promptness and secrecy of my seizure I had not expected, or I should have been prepared for resistance; and now I had but little hope of ever being of the slightest service to any individual; for if my friends succeeded in their exertions, they knew not the place where I was confined, and were not likely during my existence to discover it, so that my prospect was but a cheerless one. It was some hours before I could distinguish with any accuracy the features of my prison. At last, when my eyes got used to the darkness, I noticed that it was a narrow cell, built of huge masses of stone. On one side, at the top, was a small grating of iron, through which sufficient light entered to make the darkness evident. The door was of iron, and it opened inwardly. The floor was of stone, damp and cold. It was about seven feet by five in size, and about ten feet in height. The place seemed never to have been cleansed: it was fouled with every abomination, and vermin, toads, and other loathsome objects abounded within its walls. Disgusting as such a place must be to one used to comfort and convenience, I began to grow careless of its horrors, and thought only of the effect my incarceration would have upon my fellow-citizens. It was not so secretly done as to prevent all knowledge of the transaction, and the few to whom it was known, I knew would lose no time in making their intelligence public. There would then, I felt convinced, commence a desperate struggle; and which ever side had the victory, it could not be gained but at the expense of a degree of human suffering, the imagination of which filled me with pain and fear.
"While engaged in these thoughts, I heard footsteps approaching--they stopped at the door--the strong bolts were undrawn, and a man, muffled up in a large cloak and high slouched hat, entered the cell. He stopped before me. I thought he was going to put me to death. I could see nothing of his face but two large dark eyes glaring upon me with a malignity I should have thought it impossible any human being could feel. He spoke, and I knew the voice. It was Philadelphia.
"'So ho, old plotter of treason!' he exclaimed exultingly, 'you are now in safe keeping, I think. Nothing would serve your plebeian soul but to hatch rebellion. You could leave your beggarly buying and selling to plot the overthrow of the state. You thought, doubtless, it would be an easy matter to exterminate the power of the government, and felt assured you should have but little difficulty in seating yourself upon the throne of the Emperor. Ha ha! A fine plot truly: and a most admirable successor you would make to our gracious monarch. But I had due notice of your infamous designs. I have watched you long, old traitor! and only waited an opportunity for putting an end to your ambitious career. The object I sought is accomplished. How like you this dungeon? it is not exactly the palace you expected. And these chains, they are not so comfortable as the robe of state with which you imagined your vulgar limbs would be adorned?'
"Truly the dungeon is not agreeable, and the chains do feel rather heavy," said I, mildly.
"'Be satisfied,' replied he in a tone of mockery; 'you will get used to them, and they will last your time. I came to gratify myself by observing how you bore this sudden change in your fortunes. You are tired of lamenting your miserable fate; you have exhausted your imprecations upon me and my coadjutors in the government; you--'
"Common sense forbid that I should curse myself or any one, for it could do no one any good, and might do myself harm," said I.
"''Tis all hypocrisy!' exclaimed Philadelphia, 'your heart is now ready to burst with vexation--your soul is full of hatred--your mind is intent upon revenge.'
"Indeed you wrong me," I replied.
"'No doubt, I do,' he added with a sneer. 'You are very much wronged. You are quite a martyr to your patriotic intentions. Never was man so ill used. Perhaps you are not a traitor--possibly you are not a rebel--it may be you did not treacherously plot the destruction of the peace of my family, by aiding in the elopement of my daughter.'
"A traitor I certainly am not--a rebel I am not--and as for your daughter's elopement, I know no more than public rumour has declared, which was, that she left your house to avoid a marriage you were attempting to bring about against her inclinations," I responded.
"''Tis a lie! 'Tis a low, vulgar, designing lie!' shouted the enraged noble, as part of his cloak falling from his face disclosed his proud features distorted by passion. 'You have been scheming to bring about an alliance between Eureka and your son--a base hound, unfit to breathe in her presence. Tell me where she is--tell me where you have secreted her; and wherever she may be, I will tear her limb from limb, rather than allow her to disgrace herself by any connection with your accursed family.'
"I know not her asylum," said I. "But I acknowledge I did wish that our children should be united."
"'And how dared you so presume?' fiercely inquired he. 'Could you not have found among your own vile money-getting crew some fit companion for your cub, that you must needs think of uniting him with a daughter of one of the noblest families in the empire? The world is indeed in a sorry condition if it can tolerate such things. But that you know where she is concealed I am assured, and I will have the secret out of you, if torture can force it from your custody. Your nerves shall be racked, your flesh lacerated; you shall starve, and die, and rot in this hole.'
"I had been standing before him supporting my chains, as well as I could, and listening unmoved to his angry speeches; but there now appeared such a remorseless cruelty in his countenance, that I gazed in astonishment, almost doubting the possibility that the lamb I had known could have become so wolfish. To have told him my real name, I plainly perceived, would only incense him the more. If he hated me at that moment (and I grieved to think he should regard me with such unsocial feelings), with such a disposition as he possessed, he would detest me a thousandfold more, when he knew how much I could injure him. I can safely say I had no such inclination; and had I been so inclined, which I gladly affirm was not the case, being so entirely in his power, I saw that any intimation of such intentions would only have the effect of hastening my destruction, or of adding to my discomfort; I therefore still retained my secret. He had folded his arms across his breast, and was looking sternly upon my face.
"'Then you will not acquaint me with the place of Eureka's concealment?' he demanded.
"'I could not acquaint you with it if I would, for it is unknown to me,' I replied; 'and this I have already told you.'
"'I will crush it out of you,' he savagely muttered. 'Think not of ever being carried alive out of this place. Dream not of rescue. I have taken care that the swinish mob you were so desirous of leading shall be cut to pieces by the soldiery wherever they appear in arms. Horse and foot are ready to act at a moment's notice, and the most destructive artillery command all the principal streets, and defend every important building. I defy the whole city; and the first attempt at disturbance shall be so punished, that the poor deluded fools who are left alive will be very glad to gain the shelter of their homes. Anticipate no assistance from that quarter. The short time you have to live will be passed here, where you can see no human being, and no human being can see you; where your shrieks cannot be heard, were you to split your heart in the attempt. Enjoy yourself as you can; prolong your existence _if_ you can; but, if you are wise, you will strive to escape the death prepared for you by dashing your traitorous scull against the wall.' Then fixing on me a threatening scowl, he strode out of the cell.
"'Who could have supposed this possible?' thought I: how strange it seemed that the child I had known so innocent, and so affectionate, should have become so guilty and ferocious a man. _Man!_ it libelled human nature to call him by the name. He was a mere animal, and the worst of animals; for he gave himself up to the indulgence of his passions, and pride and prejudice, and ignorance and cruelty, and all the tribe of evil influences which arose from an engrossing selfishness, became the principal ingredients of his nature. How I regretted this! I never yet saw a human being pursuing a path which led to misery, but I regretted the blindness that made him so obstinately bent on punishing himself: for I am quite certain that he who wilfully produces suffering in another must eventually be made to experience the pain he has created. No one can erect his own happiness upon so wretched a foundation, without finding the superstructure give way, till it leave him grovelling in the very wretchedness upon which he ventured to build. I therefore regret that he should possess such evil inclinations, as must make him a scourge to himself and others.
"Hours passed on; the evening approached; and, not having tasted food since the morning, I naturally felt desirous of some refreshment. But no one came near me. I began to listen for approaching footsteps; but I heard nothing but a confused rumbling sound, which vibrated through the prison. The desire for food increased during the night. I tried to sleep; but the inconvenience of my chains, the coldness and filth of the floor, and a sensation of gnawing at the stomach, made the enjoyment of sleep impossible. I walked about; but the heavy irons hurt my legs, and they soon fatigued me too much to be endured. I leaned against the wall for support, as I began to feel faint and sick. 'Surely,' thought I, 'it is not intended that I should be left here to famish?' I could not think so ill of any of my fellow creatures as to imagine that they would designedly allow me to die the lingering and terrible death of starvation. But no one approached my cell, and it was noon of the second day. To the pangs of hunger were added the torments of thirst: my tongue and throat became parched, and my skin dry as a cinder. Still I thought that my jailors had forgotten me. Towards evening, the sufferings I experienced were almost unendurable: I had pains in every limb; I felt weak as a child, and my skin was burning hot. I endeavoured to think of some plan by which I might draw my attention from the agony I endured; and fancied that, if I could bring my mind to the contemplation of the happiness I had been enabled to create, I should forget the worst part of my sufferings. So I attempted to remember every instance in which I had fortunately been the means of securing the enjoyments of some fellow creature; and, going back as far as my memory could trace, I recalled the recollection of a poor old blind man, whom, when a boy, I had met sitting on a bank, weeping and moaning, with the dead body of his faithful dog, the companion and guide of all his travels, in his lap. I had with me a beautiful spaniel, of which I was particularly fond; and, when I heard the poor man lamenting, in a tone that melted me to tears, that the death of his dog had left him helpless and forlorn, I comforted him as well as I could. I undid the string that was affixed to the dead animal, and fastened it to the collar of my own little favourite; gave him all the money I had about me, and promised to bury his old companion very carefully in a corner of my garden. To say that he was grateful would be to make use of too weak a term: his delight appeared to me extraordinary. He wept more than ever; and the fervour of his blessing is as fresh upon my ear, after the lapse of more than half a century, as it was when first uttered. From this commencement I proceeded through a long list of similar remembrances, each accompanied by a thousand pleasurable associations, till I found myself regardless of the terrible wants that had so long been preying on my vitals.
"I had noticed that the only sounds I had heard during my confinement had seemed gradually to approach the building I inhabited. Louder and louder they reverberated through the massive walls; and at last I was enabled to distinguish the deep roar of artillery, that appeared to shake the prison to its foundations. 'The struggle has commenced,' thought I: 'blood is flowing like water; the relentless sword is ploughing its way through the flesh of my fellow-citizens, and thousands are being shattered and pierced by showers of murderous balls and shells.' If the words of that fierce man were true, their chances of success, I knew, could be but slight. 'They are being slaughtered like sheep,' I cried; and every concussion produced by the report of the thundering cannon made me shudder with fear. All night the conflict proceeded. I had sunk exhausted upon the floor. I could remember nothing; I could think of nothing. I was rapidly sinking into insensibility, in the early part of the morning, when I became roused by hearing the uproar of cannon and musketry, and the shouts of infuriated men, so near, that I was convinced that the people had attacked the prison. I felt the concussion of the artillery most distinctly, which sounded as if the besiegers were battering down the walls; and the continued burst of volleys of musketry was evidence of the spirit with which the attack was carried on. About an hour passed without the slightest cessation of the tumult,--and to me it was an age of agonising suspense,--when the firing slackened; but whether the attacking party had been beaten off, or had gained possession of the building, I knew not. Some minutes, which seemed hours, passed; and I thought I could distinguish voices approaching. In a moment, I heard them distinctly.
"'Where are you, my benefactor?' shouted one.
"'Speak to us, my preserver!' cried another.
"'Porphyry! Porphyry, our friend, we come to your rescue!' exclaimed a dozen others; and I could hear them traversing the prison in every direction in search of me. My heart was so full at the kindness of these good men, that, had my strength been unimpaired, I could not have uttered a word; and I allowed my deliverers to pass the door without attempting to communicate to them the place of my concealment. A few moments passed, and they again approached. My heart beat more rapidly. I tried to husband all my remaining strength.
"'Porphyry! Porphyry!' shouted a hundred anxious voices.
"'Porphyry! Porphyry!' was echoed in every cell.
"'Here, my friends!' I exclaimed, as loudly as my feebleness would allow.
"'That is him!' they all cried.
"'I know his voice among a thousand,' said one; 'and I am certain it came from within this chamber.'
"'Down with the door!' shouted others.
"In a moment a thousand hammers seemed to be vigorously driven against the door. The men cheered each other on in the labour: each exerted all his force; and in a few seconds the heavy bolts were shivered to splinters, and, with a piercing hurra! a crowd of eager friends burst into the cell. As soon as they saw my condition, their hearts were filled with commiseration.
"'It isn't a place to turn a dog in,' said one, indignantly.
"'The miscreants!' muttered another.
"'Look at these terrible chains!' cried a third.
"'The tyrants!' exclaimed several.
"'Let us carry him from this miserable hole; he is too weak to move,' said a man whom I had befriended.
"'I will bear a hand: he rescued me from a prison!' exclaimed one.
"'And I: he saved me from ruin,' shouted another. And by these grateful creatures I was carefully carried into the open air, with my chains still about me, and in the wretched plight in which I had been found; where, on being shown to the multitudes of armed citizens that thronged the streets, I was received with shouts of triumph mingled with imprecations on my oppressors; and, accompanied by an escort of a hundred thousand men, I was conveyed in safety to my own house; my chains were taken off; and the most skilful physicians being immediately in attendance, I rapidly recovered to my usual state of health.
"I ascertained that, as soon as my seizure became known, the church bells were rung to arms, the stones in the streets were torn up, and barricades, which served to block up the thoroughfare from the advance of horse, and as intrenchments from which a galling fire could be poured upon the approaching troops, were formed across the streets. The first day, although there was great slaughter on both sides, no important advantage was gained by either party; and at night the soldiery remained under arms, and the people were busily employed in preparing to renew the conflict. Leaders were appointed of tens, of hundreds, and of thousands; and the grand point of attack was the arsenal and the ammunition magazines; while, at the same time, the military were kept sufficiently employed at all the posts they occupied. After a most obstinate resistance, the arsenal was carried; and the arms there found soon obtained owners willing to use them. Ammunition was acquired in a similar manner; and the result of these attacks gave to the popular cause a vast accession of strength. The barracks of the military, and the prison in which political offenders were incarcerated, were next sought out. The object of the attack on the former was to harass the soldiery as much as possible; and the aim of the latter was to find out my concealment, for the purpose of effecting my liberation. It was impossible to exceed the enthusiasm of the people when approaching the places where they imagined I was confined. They shouted my name, and rushed through the thickest fire with a valour that nothing could resist. Many of the prisons were pulled down after a fruitless search for the object they sought; and then they proceeded from these to others, till the day was spent. It was found impossible to approach the palace, as a chain of posts was established all round it, supported by an immense strength of artillery and powerful bodies of horse and foot, from which the citizens had been several times repulsed during the day; but at night, when the tired soldiery were endeavouring to snatch that repose which two days' constant fighting rendered necessary, a simultaneous attack was made at every available point by a countless myriad of armed citizens; and, although they obtained possession of many pieces of cannon, after fighting desperately till daybreak, they found themselves compelled to retreat, with very considerable loss. After this, it was resolved to draw a line of strong intrenchments round this chain of posts, so as to prevent any communication or supplies reaching them from other parts of the city, or from the surrounding country, and then to crush in detail the resistance that might be offered at other positions; and this plan was being put in practice when my concealment was discovered, and I was set at liberty.
"The knowledge of the treatment I had received, while it inflamed the hearts of my countrymen, created for me even a more powerful sympathy than I had previously excited. As soon as I was able to attend to what was going forward, the leading men of the movement waited upon me, and communicated all that had transpired since my imprisonment; and, after assuring me that the enemy must surrender in a few days, or, if they moved from their position, be cut to pieces, they stated that they were commissioned by the people to offer me the chief authority of the nation, under whatever name or character I should judge most beneficial to the state. I need scarcely add that I refused the flattering gift. I did more; I told them the many attempts the late Emperor had made to force on me his distinctions, and their result. I told them that my object had been to live as a private individual, endeavouring to effect among my fellow men as much good as I had the power to create; that I had lived happily as one of themselves, and, as one of themselves, I wished happily to die. I told them that, as far as my advice and assistance could tend to their advantage, they might always command them. I endeavoured to prove to them the danger of changing the form of government, without being prepared with a better; and strived to convince them that it was much more to the interest of humanity, and to the advantage of the citizens, not to drive to desperation the powerful army still remaining, to which they were opposed; but, with the superiority they possessed, to attempt to bring about an adjustment of the quarrel between the government and the people, on such terms as should leave the latter nothing to desire, and the former no power to tyrannise.
"My suggestions were not received with the cordiality which they deserved. The deputation talked of the merciless slaughter of the citizens--the cruelty that had been exercised upon me--and the necessity of making an example of the offenders. I answered, that it would only be treading in the steps of our oppressors by desiring vengeance for injuries--that those who had been wronged could receive no benefit by the death of those who had injured them--that the evils the government had committed could not be remedied by their destruction--and that it was the most unwise policy a community could follow, to punish an offence that had been committed by taking a life, for it made it impossible that the offender should ever make amends to society for the mischief done. 'Prevent as effectively as possible,' said I, 'the evil doer from repeating a wrong, and let him, by the exercise of virtuous inclinations among the community, outweigh the evil he has effected, and you will do more good than has been done by punishment since the creation of the world.'
"I regretted to observe a disinclination to follow my advice. The hearts of my companions seemed filled with resentment, and their minds with prejudice. Again they pressed on me the offers of the people, and again I refused; and then they took their leave of me, expressing their intention of acquainting the citizens with my resolution. I was most anxiously desirous that the warfare should terminate; and, knowing that the time was opportune for exacting the most favourable conditions for the nation from the government, I was eager to bring about an accommodation. The mass of my countrymen I found too much heated by the conflict to listen with a proper feeling to the peaceful measures it was my aim to accomplish. Arms were still in their hands, and the blood of their friends still stained the public streets. I published my sentiments among them in the most convincing form of which I was master; and, in addition to the opinions I have already stated, I offered, if they would intrust me with the office, to act as mediator, having powers to effect an arrangement between the contending parties on such conditions as would secure the liberties of the people on the most firm and enlarged basis, and reduce the influence of the crown to an extent which would not be dangerous to the community.
"Five days had elapsed since the contest commenced; and the troops were hemmed in around the palace, deprived of sufficient provisions, and harassed in every way that the valour and ingenuity of the citizens could devise. The ministers had now become as humble as they had before been intolerant. They attempted to bring about a reconciliation. They offered largely, and promised more. There they were, in the midst of sixty thousand picked men, trembling for the consequences of their own misgovernment; for they saw that the whole country was in the hands of the citizens, and that it would be impossible much longer to continue a resistance. Hitherto all their efforts at accommodation had been treated with studied indifference; but, having succeeded in procuring from the people the office I desired, I immediately set about communicating with the government the only terms upon which peace could be restored; and these were, that the ministers by whom the Emperor had been advised in his late measures should be banished from the court--never again to exert any authority over the people--and that half their estates should be confiscated to the relations of those who had perished in the conflict--that the Emperor should grant a charter to the people, by which all the privileges of freemen--right of opinion--liberty of conscience--a perfect representation of the popular will--unshackled trade--a liberal patronage of genius and industry--and the abolition of oppressive taxes and undeserved pensions should be preserved to them and their posterity for ever--that a standing army, beyond what was necessary to maintain security from foreign invasion, should no longer exist--and that no attempt should be made by the Crown either to punish any citizen who had assisted in the late struggle, or to repossess itself of the power which had been found so dangerous to the welfare of the people.
"I suppose these conditions seemed hard; for some days elapsed, and frequent attempts were made to have them rendered more agreeable. Not only did I refuse to alter them in the slightest degree, but I at last gave them four and twenty hours for consideration, at which time, if they were not accepted, I stated that I should insist upon unconditional surrender. Before the day was over, the conditions were agreed to--the charter signed and sworn to by the Emperor, in the presence of an almost countless multitude of citizens--the ministers, among whom, of course, was that unpitying man, Philadelphia, were banished from the city; half their estates were confiscated, and a new and more liberal administration chosen in their place--and, as the intelligence extended from one end of this mighty empire to the other, nothing was heard but sounds of congratulation and gladness, of thankfulness for the past, and hope for the future. All that I had desired was accomplished. The marks of the recent strife were soon erased. The citizens, returning to their social duties, ceased to think of the wounds they had received and inflicted; and all the blessings of peace began to flow in their accustomed channels. Had the struggle continued with the design of overpowering all opposition, and changing the form of government, the war would have been resumed in the provinces; might have been prolonged from father to son in efforts to restore the fallen dynasty; and, as a change, when attempted in a settled form of government, always produces an unsettled state of the public mind, the country would have been continually disturbed, and the happiness of the people rendered exceedingly insecure.
"All Columbia are satisfied with my exertions: they acknowledge the worth of what I have done. Even the Emperor seems desirous of paying me attention; and, although I have not much faith in his sincerity, his conduct serves to keep up the harmony which prevails. And, by my refusal to accept power at the expense of the happiness of my fellow-citizens, I have now the gratification of seeing the country prosperous, the people enjoying a greater degree of liberty than they have known for centuries, and the whole population vying with each other to show their estimation of my services. There is one thing that gives me peculiar satisfaction; and that is, your absence from the country at this eventful period. I know that, had you been here, your impetuous spirit would have hurried you into every wild and rash undertaking, and that you would have effected more mischief in a day than I should ever have been enabled to efface. Proceed with your voyage, Oriel, and when you return you will have reason to rejoice at the change which has been produced during your absence."
Oriel Porphyry had read the preceding communication with intense interest; every moment stopping to regret that he should have been so far away at a period so important.
"Oh, had I but been there!" he exclaimed at the conclusion. "Here is a golden opportunity lost! The very moment for which I have so anxiously looked has escaped me. The great battle has been fought, and I not in the field. Surely, such a disappointment is enough to make one curse one's destiny. My father's notions are too chimerical. He is good--ay, the very best among the good; but his spirit is not young enough for the age. He should have crushed the hydra when he had it at his feet. Had I but been there! He will find, too late, that it is no use patching things that are radically bad: they cannot be mended; they are worn out, rotten, and useless. And that proud tyrant to have used him so inhumanly! Had I but been there! What a field there was for exertion, what splendid opportunities for daring valour! Perhaps a body of two hundred thousand armed citizens, all eager, all desperate, wanting only a leader to make them irresistible. Oh, this wretched fate, that kept me here like an inactive slave, while glory is to be won by a mere effort! And he was offered the supreme authority, and refused it? Noble, but unwise. He could confer more good on the people in a year than this thing, called an Emperor, can effect during the whole of his useless existence. Now the time is gone. The renown after which I yearn, the distinction and the power, would have been mine, had I been in the place where it might have been acquired. Had I but been there! How long am I to carry on this profitless existence? How long must I be forced to stifle my own energies, and live, from day to day, in the same dull round of inactivity? Must the wings of that spirit, that soars so far above the unambitious herd, still continue to be pinioned, leaving me to crawl upon the earth, following out the same ignoble purposes as those around me? Oh, deplorable fate! The rock to which Prometheus was chained, and the bird that pierced his vitals, are but types of the barrenness of my prospects, and the disappointed hopes that prey upon my peace. Oh, wretched destiny! The thirst with which Tantalus was devoured was a blessing, compared with the curse with which I am tormented. Eureka! Eureka! The greatness I have desired so earnestly, to make me more worthy of your excellence, has been waiting for my eager grasp, while I was far, far from its reach. Oh, had I but been there!"
CHINA, ITS LAWS, CUSTOMS, AND PEOPLE.
The Albatross was just entering the Chinese sea, and making way in gallant style through the heavy waves. Her crew were numerous, and of picked men, chosen at the different ports at which the ship had touched since her departure from the pirates' haunt on the Madagascar coast, by the experienced judgment of Captain Hearty. Several promotions had taken place among the old hands. Climberkin, who had distinguished himself on many occasions as a brave and skilful seaman, became second in command. Boggle, though liable to confuse his understanding with abstract speculations, was always to be depended upon in an emergency, and was honest, persevering, and well acquainted with the management of a ship at sea, and he was made second lieutenant. Loop was created a midshipman. Oriel Porphyry had offered to settle Ardent in comfortable circumstances in his native country; but he stated that having lost all that made dear to him the land of his birth, and having found so many kind friends on board the Albatross, he should prefer remaining in the vessel in any capacity in which he could be of service, and as he was known to be well qualified for the office, to him were assigned the duties of purser and captain's clerk. As for Roly Poly, the offer of an empire would not have induced him to resign the custody of the roast and boiled; and he therefore continued absolute and undisputed sovereign of the cook-house. He seemed to be getting fatter every day. His back appeared to bend beneath the load of flesh it carried, and his huge black cheeks had become so large as to threaten to close up his eyes. To gain his good opinion, nothing was necessary but to praise his cookery; but as soon as any poor fellow attempted to find fault with the viands, or the way in which they were dressed, the abuse he received for what was considered his presumption and ignorance, made him glad to make his peace with the indignant cook upon any terms. For all this Roly Poly was held in much estimation by his shipmates. The important service he rendered with his mop was not forgotten; and though he was continually relating in a manner peculiarly his own, the way in which he had served out "dat ignorant jackmorass who sulted him by telling diclus impossumbilities," the story was invariably received with the same hearty laugh and boisterous praise that marked the first hearing.
Although the manners of Captain Hearty and his officers were rather unpolished, the education which was common to all Columbians, and the experience they had gained in their profession, made them perfectly qualified to fulfil the duties they had undertaken; and the ship was as skilfully navigated, as if under the superintendence of the most gentlemanly officers in the service. As has before been stated, the commercial character of the Albatross had been changed by skilful hands for one of a more threatening aspect, nor was the alteration at all displeasing to the taste of Oriel. The only pleasure he seemed to enjoy with any zest, was in seeing the men exercised at the guns, practising at a mark, or engaged in improving themselves in the use of the broadsword; and in these pursuits he would join with intense interest, encouraging those who seemed anxious to excel, and rewarding those who evinced the most skill. His satisfaction at the arming of the vessel was increased when he considered the possibility of being attacked by pirates in the different seas that lay in the ship's course, who might easily, as Captain Death and his associates had done, have made themselves masters of the Albatross; but who would now find it a matter very difficult to be accomplished.
"Come Zabra, I am plagued to death by my own thoughts. Cheer me with a song:" said Oriel Porphyry to his young friend as they sat together in the cabin.
"That you shall have, Oriel," replied the handsome musician, as his hand ran lightly over the chords of the harp; "and I will try to humour your martial feelings to keep you in good temper with yourself. Listen to
"THE SONG OF THE HERO TO HIS SWORD.
"'FOE SMITER! To the light thy blade I draw, To gaze enraptured on thy glitt'ring sheen: I see thee still, thou gem without a flaw! Sharp, strong, and shining, as thou'st ever been Since that proud day when first the spoilers came, Reddening my own fair land with blood and flame, With vig'rous arm I pluck'd thee from thy sheath, And made thee drink the crimson draught of death!
"'DEATH DEALER! Here I have thee once again! I see thy fatal lightning flashing near, As round me rise the spirits of the slain, And the dark shadows, shudd'ring, disappear. Who ever stood unscathed before thy path? Who ever lived to babble of thy wrath? Annihilation must thy deeds proclaim, And conquest grant thy memory to fame!
"'FAME WINNER! Let me grasp thee firmer yet; New fields are to be fought, new foes to dare; I must have glory ere the sun hath set; I yearn new triumphs, noble spoils to share. See where th' insulting enemy advance! And as they come, with dark and scornful glance, Waving thy brilliant steel I seek the fray, And pierce the quiv'ring flesh that stops my way!'"
"By all that's glorious, 'tis a noble strain!" exclaimed Oriel, while his brilliant eyes flashed with excitement; "a strain fit to stir the heart to noble deeds. I feel my soul thrilled with an heroic spirit that would do battle even with the fierce enemy--Death! Give me a fair field and a good cause--a band of warlike brothers moved by the same mighty impulse as that by which I am now excited--and let us have fit weapons and enough of them, and we would sweep the oppressors of the world from the earth, like rotten reeds before a whirlwind. Wisely did the ancients honour their bards above all human greatness. Well was it that they gave them precedence and dignity and wealth in abundance--the gold chain round the neck, and the seat of honour near the throne. If they possessed but the power you have evinced, they were worthy of the first place and the richest gifts: for they must have been the leading spirits of the age--the movers of armies--the winners of triumph. What nature, with the common energies of manhood, could resist such a stimulus? Stone walls, the crushing iron, and the penetrating steel--would these be as obstacles in its way? Straws! Had I lived in those days, the leader of a warlike generation, and heard a song such as you have sung, I should have felt inclined to have exalted the bard above my own dignity, knowing that his influence upon the dispositions over which I ruled could be rendered far more effective for the purposes that gave me supremacy, than my own."
"I expected it would move you in some measure," said Zabra, gazing with affectionate interest upon the flushed cheek of his patron.
"Move me! would a mælstrom move me?" cried the young merchant. "It seems to have stirred the sluggish blood in every hidden vein and artery. My brain throbs as if it would move up the scalp in which it is confined, and the pulsations of my heart appear to have acquired the action of a boiling torrent."
"I am afraid I have done mischief," observed the musician anxiously; "I did not count upon producing so violent an effect. Let me undo the evil I have created by singing to you some lyric of an opposite tendency."
"Where got you this power?" asked his companion, fixing a searching glance upon the lustrous eyes before him. "By what means gained you the rare art which you practise with such wondrous effect? Your's is no common skill for the ignorant to admire; it is an influence which the most tutored in worldly wisdom must feel and worship. You never could have gained it while employed in the laborious idleness of a page. You are too young to have acquired it by study. What mystery is this you have gathered around you which gives you such a mastery over the affections of your associates?"
A slight tremor passed over the graceful form of the young musician: his eyes shrunk before the earnest gaze of Oriel Porphyry, and, shaded by their long dark lashes, were fixed upon the floor.
"I will tell you;" said he at length. "Although great care was taken with my education, from a very early age I was left much to my own inclinations; and being gifted with an extraordinary love for knowledge, and a rare facility in its acquirement, and a powerful tendency towards that knowledge which was most ennobling, I rapidly obtained a degree of intelligence which was rarely found even in a more mature period of life. There were two particular objects of study to which I for years dedicated an intense degree of attention: these were music and poetry. Music was a source of the most exquisite gratification to me at all times, and I applied diligently to make myself master of all its difficulties. In this, after constant application, superintended by the best masters, I succeeded, so as to be able to create at pleasure any effect I was desirous of producing. In the study of poetry I had no teachers, excepting the only teacher capable of giving instruction--Nature. I went amid the stir of leaves in the heart of the primeval forest; I stood beneath the dazzling glances of the countless eyes of heaven; I looked down upon the waters of the great deep, till I knew how to interpret its mighty voices; and the whisper of the wind to the blushing flower became to me a lesson full of an exquisite and impressive eloquence. There was not a sound in the air--a light upon the skies--a splendour on the earth--or a motion in the sea, that did not assist me in my study; for there were beauty and truth and power; and these are the constituents of all natural poetry. But there was something still wanting to breathe the spirit of life into the new conceptions that had been created in my nature. This I found; and from that time there has been a gladness in what I knew, and a purpose in what I did. Now let me remove the too powerful impression I have produced, by something more in accordance with my own sympathies. You shall hear 'The Poet's Song to his Mistress.'"
A symphony, full of the most touching interest, preceded a melody so impassioned, yet so sweet in its expression, and harmonised in so rich and masterly a manner, that the young merchant had soon all his faculties engaged in deep and earnest attention.
"That I should love thee is not strange, For excellence doth love create; But that my love should die or change Can never be--'tis not in Fate: For as thy worth, in heaven's bright view, Must ever hold its glorious stature; Shall not that bliss which from it grew Partake of its immortal nature?
"Nor can exist a taint of schism In these fond feelings thou hast made; For, like the colours in the prism, They cannot change, they never fade. Thus is it, then, sweet friend! my love From thy fond worth Time ne'er can sever; And must a natural goodness prove: Things made from gold are sterling ever."
At the conclusion of this song, which Zabra sang with a thrilling pathos which must have reached the heart of his auditor, the two friends were interrupted by a message from the captain, to acquaint Oriel that a pilot had come on board to conduct the vessel up the river to Canton; and that if he wished to observe the Chinese coast, there was now an excellent opportunity. All thought of poetry and music seemed forgotten for the time; for the musician and the young merchant immediately hastened upon deck.
The Albatross was passing Macao, and steering her course towards Whampoa; and a group were on the quarter-deck noticing the appearance of the country, the junks and other strange vessels they were passing, and making observations upon what they saw.
"We are approaching a people," said Fortyfolios, "who, if they are not the most ancient that exist, lay claim to an antiquity of which few could boast. They are the most extraordinary race on the globe, and the most unchangeable in their habits. Though they preceded the rest of the world in the march of civilisation; though they invented the arts of printing, and of manufacturing silk fabrics and porcelain goods; though they discovered the composition of gunpowder and the use of the magnetic compass; they have never progressed beyond these advances. Thousands of years have passed--nations that were not then in existence, in intelligence have left them far behind--and still they remain exactly as they were, and are not only indifferent to the improvements around them, but look upon all other nations as barbarians unworthy of their association. In vain have they been conquered: conquest could make no change in their habits or opinions. Among the most celebrated of their masters were the Manchews, a people doubtless so called from their attachment to cannibalism, by whom they were held in subjection for several centuries; and the English, who made a conquest of their empire when in the zenith of their greatness. Their subjugation by the latter was caused by their own pride and insolence. The Chinese were so impressed with an opinion of their own superior greatness, that they behaved to all foreigners who visited their shores for the purposes of traffic with humiliating insolence. They were only allowed to trade at one port, their merchandise was subjected to the most arbitrary duties, and their merchants were treated with every kind of insult. This was borne for a considerable period by the mercantile world, in consideration of the importance of their commerce, and the impossibility of finding their exports in other countries. But toleration only increased the audacity of the Chinese authorities. They proceeded to acts of violence: several vessels were plundered, and their crews were murdered, or carried away, and never heard of after. At last the English, having endured this treatment without being able to procure the slightest redress, determined on retaliation. From their possessions in India they invaded the Chinese territory with a powerful army, and at the same time ravaged their coasts with a naval armament that destroyed their shipping, plundered their towns, and laid their defences in ashes. The Chinese, as cowardly as they had been insolent, though possessed of an immense population and extraordinary resources, made but a feeble resistance, and were glad to purchase peace upon any terms they could make; but the English had discovered the weakness of their enemy, and had not forgotten the oppressions they had endured, and did not desist from the conflict till they had annexed the mighty empire of China to their immense dominions in India."
"All very true," added Tourniquet. "They were ignorant, bigoted, and slavish, but for all that they were the most prosperous nation under the sun, don't you see."
"Their prosperity was occasioned by the laws by which they were governed," said the professor. "Industry was encouraged. Agriculture was pursued as the most honourable occupation, as one in which the emperor delighted; and obedience was inculcated as the first duty of a citizen."
"But what was the spirit of their laws?" inquired Oriel Porphyry.
"Every father of a family was despotic in his own household: the emperor was regarded by his subjects with the same reverence that a family looked up to its domestic ruler; and an offence against the monarch was punished in a similar manner as an offence against the parent;" replied Fortyfolios.
"I can imagine no state of things so arbitrary and so contrary to common sense, don't you see;" observed the doctor. "By such a law, whether a man be a drunkard or a profligate, a fool or a knave, he has unlimited supremacy over his offspring; he can punish with death when he pleases, and the poor wretches who acknowledge his relationship, dare not murmur. He is a father; and fatherhood, like charity, covereth a multitude of sins. There is nothing so ridiculous as this notion. No individual in the great family of nature is entitled to the slightest respect, unless he is respectable in his conduct. All relationship is an accident. A father has no right to the obedience of his child, because he is his father: that can only be the most absurd of claims; for he produced the child to please himself, and at the time could have no sympathy towards an object that was not in existence."
"That cannot be disputed;" replied the professor. "But I must maintain, that obedience in a child, to a reasonable extent, ought to exist as a natural consequence of the care and anxiety of parentage."
"Granted, with the limitations;" said the surgeon. "When a father brings up his child with a proper affection, affection from the offspring ought to be expected; but in no case has the parent a right to implicit obedience, unless he has so acted, and the law he wishes to make absolute is such as will not affect the welfare of the child. In many instances the son possesses more intelligence than the father; and yet, if parental subjugation were allowed, the wise must be held in subjection by the opinion of the ignorant."
"I should imagine such a form of government likely to be very ancient;" observed Oriel.
"It is unquestionably of great antiquity, and derived from the patriarchal ages, when the oldest member of the family held supreme authority over the rest;" responded Fortyfolios.
"About as much as the ocean has originated from the drops of rain that fell from the sky, don't you see;" added the doctor.
"I maintain that the progenitors of the Chinese were a nomadic race;" said the professor rather sharply.
"Granted; and what then?" inquired the surgeon, in his usual good-humoured manner.
"That they were a collection of single families," continued Fortyfolios.
"So are all nations at the present time, don't you see;" remarked the doctor.
"Not in the manner which existed at the age to which I allude;" rejoined his antagonist. "Every man dwelt in his own tent, surrounded by his children and his children's children, and wandered with his herds and flocks, to wherever he could find them sufficient pasturage. He governed as a monarch with power of life and death, and the rules he found necessary to preserve his government he transmitted to his successor; till, the family increasing, it was found necessary that they should separate into distinct divisions, each having its own father or ruler, and, residing for mutual protection near each other, they constituted tribes. The rules, which the experience of the first father had found necessary for maintaining his authority, had been conveyed with modifications and additions through his successors, till they became possessed by the elders of the tribe, in whom all wisdom and government resided; until the increase of their numbers, and the want of sufficient accommodation, induced them to invade the more desirable territory of other tribes; and then it was that he who distinguished himself most in this warfare obtained supremacy over the rest, and having conquered other tribes, and rendered himself by his superior bravery the object of fear and admiration, he became king of all the people who acknowledged his rule, and governed them by the laws that had existed previously in his own particular family or tribe."
"A very plausible hypothesis, but nothing more, don't you see;" replied the doctor. "Doubtless all societies originated in one family, the supreme head of which did what he thought fit; but I doubt much whether he exercised such an authority as could sacrifice a life for an offence real or imaginary; or created any code of laws for the government of his relations. He did only what he thought necessary for the time; and whether that constituted a precedent or not, it is not easy to determine. The punishment which would be necessary at one time, might not be thought necessary at another, don't you see. Where the judge is absolute, and has no constitution to guide him, it is the mood in which he may be when called upon to judge, that makes the sentence severe or mild; and every judge, being independent of any higher authority, and liable to act from prejudice or partiality, would create nothing but inconsistent decisions, which could never be tolerated as a code of laws. It is opinion that creates law. The heterogeneous mass of absurdities that the few promulgate to hold the many in subjection would not be tolerated except in a state of perfect slavery. Where there is any intelligence among the people, and intelligence must make its appearance sooner or later, every law that is found existing passes the ordeal of public opinion, and if it be unwise or unjust, it will not be regarded or its abrogation will be enforced. The multitude have a better notion of the difference between right and wrong, than is generally supposed; and nothing is so productive of a clearness of distinction in these things among the people than a proper simplicity and applicability of the laws by which they are governed. It is intelligence that produces opinion, don't you see--and opinion that creates law--and law cannot long exist in opposition to opinion."
While the disputants were intently engaged in their argument, Oriel Porphyry and Zabra had walked to another part of the deck, where the captain and his lieutenant were giving orders about the management of the vessel.
"Fine old country, this, captain;" said the young merchant.
"Yes, sir," replied Hearty: "fine old country, certainly. They do say it's as old as Methusalem; but I never was in sight o' that coast, therefore can't say what difference there may be between 'em."
"You have been in this part of the world before, I should suppose?" inquired Oriel.
"Many times," responded the old man: "I knows the place well. I've been afloat ever since I was a small craft as could hardly steer without capsizing; and there arn't many seas in the world as I haven't been over. John Chinaman and I are 'ticular acquaintances, because I've seen a good deal on him. He's rather smart in his own notions o' himself, but he makes a good reefer when aboard, and he'll carry like a steam engine when ashore. Often when I've landed at this port from one or other o' your father's ships, I've seen him bearing sich loads as 'ould make a horse's back bone unkimmen ticklish. We're enterin' the river now; and after sailing a few points west of north, we shall be nigh upon the first bar, from whence we must steer due west to Whampoa, where we shall cast anchor. You'll have then to go about ten miles to the Factories, to which you must proceed in boats."
"What strange looking ships these are;" remarked Zabra, pointing to several vessels they were passing.
"Ay, they are very queer shaped craft," said the captain. "But John Chinaman's no great shakes at ship-buildin', although he thinks he's wonderful. Look at that heavy lumbering junk. She looks like a great thick-headed old muff, as does'n't know his helm from his taffrail. The Albatross would take the conceit out o' her in no time. And look at these here outlandish looking barges--there's no sense in 'em."
"The country has rather an interesting character;" observed Oriel.
"It's all accordin' to taste," replied Hearty.
"These here islands o' sand ar'nt 'ticularly lovely to my thinking; and I can't abide the ugliness o' the craft."
"In what manner do these people now behave to foreigners?" inquired Zabra.
"Why it ar'nt quite so bad as what I've read on in ancient history;" said the captain. "They've had a sick'ner for coming that sort o' fun; but they coil up their noses pretty stiffish even now. They allow travellers to wander about and examine their notables, which they did'nt use to do; but I should recommend any fellow, who's more nor ordinary 'quisitive, to look out for squalls. I have heard say as people ha' been missed who was axing their way through the country; and not a spar or a bolt-rope on 'em ever heard on again."
"About five years ago I was in this here part o' the world," said Climberkin, joining in the conversation; "and I had a very narrow escape o' bein' done for in that fashion. I was bo'sun aboard the Whittington, a reg'lar tip top merchantman, as Master Porphyry had in the China trade at that time, and after a wearisome cruise I had been jollificating up the country with a few mates, when I came alongside as smart a piece o' China ware as ever I clapped my eyes on. Well, she did'nt understand none o' my lingo, and I could'nt circumnavigate any o' her'n; but we had signals flying at our eyes like winkin', and we pretty soon heaved to, and were yard arm and yard arm, and looked at each other till all was blue again. I discovered that she belonged to the crew o' a man-tea-maker's 'stablishment, and got her livin' pretty comfortable, by alays 'turnin' over a new leaf (though she never did nuffin wrong to sinnify); and so I thought as how if that was the way o' sailin', I might bring her to book wi' her own leave, without any botheration whatsomdever. Just as I was making way in the business, I received a 'munication from one o' my mates, who was up to their lingo, that some half a dozen o' the Chinamen with whom she 'sociated, were on a reg'lar take in about my consortin' wi' her, and had entered into a 'spiracy to nail down the hatches on my goings on. Me and my little frigate were in the habit o' cruisin' in a grove o' prime timber, by the side o' a rice field, and it was here-about's that the man-tea-makers thought o' dishing me as strong as could be; but I took care that they should meet wi' a mighty difference. After preparin' every thin' as was necessary, I got my mates to lie in ambush, and began a courtin' a way in a style as would make the jealousy rise out o' a dead nigger. I had'nt been long at this here fun, when up comes the whole lot on 'em screechin' like mad, and they bears down upon me threatenin' the most completest spiflification as you can imagine. Their eyes flared up most immensely. Their teeth seemed playing at knives to grind; and they whirled about monstrous bludgeons that would have made no bones o' me, had I suffered 'em to scrape my acquaintance. My cretur struck her flag and down she went; but before the teapots came to close quarters, I put my bo'sun's whistle into play; and pulled out a pair of 'do-for-you's,' as my mates coming up and showing the same signs o' welcome, surrounded the poor devils in such a way as they could'nt move no how."
"And what did you do with your rivals?" inquired Oriel, considerably amused by the lieutenant's narrative.
"Why, I'd al'ays heard it recommended to do as you'd be done by," replied Climberkin; "so we got the sticks from the Chinamen, and took the flavour out on 'em in a manner as left 'em nuffin to complain of. But we wern't satisfied with such an act o' justice. You must know that each o' these tea-dealers has a tail to his head, from two to three feet long, o' which he is as proud as is a peacock o' his tail, and shaves all the rest o' his cranium as smooth as glass. Knowin' this, we'd brought lots o' rosin and twine; and, while some o' our chaps made 'em lump it if they didn't like it most considerably, we spliced them all together from the small ends down'ards, for several inches, strong and tight as a patent cable; then, seeing a tree close at hand with the loveliest fork possible for our purpose, we hauled 'em up wi' ropes over the branch till half on 'em hung on one side and half on the tother, by nuffin in the world but their own precious tails. Didn't they raise a bit of a shindy! Such howlin', such squallin'--such kickin', such scratchin'--such a reg'lar rowdy-dow no set o' humans ever made afore. And there we left 'em, as the ancient poet says, wi' each partic'lar hair standin' on end, while we crowded all sail to our own ship."
"It was rather too bad of you, lieutenant," said the merchant's son, attempting unsuccessfully to look grave; "and I wonder you did not get yourself into trouble in consequence."
"Why it did raise a smartish bit o' a bobbery," replied Climberkin; "but we all kept so snug aboard, and sailed so soon arter, that not one on us were diskivered."
"We shall anchor immediately," said the captain, returning to the group he had left to speak to the pilot. "Is it your wish, sir, to go ashore?"
"I must be at Canton without delay," rejoined Oriel Porphyry.
"Man the galley, and get a boat's crew ready to proceed up the river," shouted Hearty to the second lieutenant.
"Ay, ay, sir," was the ready reply; and while the boat was lowered into the sea, and all her appurtenances provided, Zabra and his patron made their arrangements for landing on the Chinese territory.
A CHINESE POET.
In an elegant room, the floor of which was covered with clean white matting, while the furniture, consisting principally of a divan or sofa, mirrors, pictures, couches, Japan tables, and large porcelain vases, was of a superior description, cross-legged on the divan, eating sweetmeats from a small silver saucer, richly chased, which he held in his hand, sat a young man, of less than the ordinary stature, with a countenance that seemed possessed of a perpetual melancholy. He was dressed with the most studied effect. He wore a robe of dark rich silk, and over it a vest of delicate blue satin, beautifully figured. Upon his head, which was shaved, with the exception of a long lock of hair that hung from the crown over the shoulder, was a small black cap of fine felt, with the brim turned up, and the crown, of a conical shape, covered with a fringe of scarlet silk, having a peculiar button in front. Below wide trowsers were seen stockings of silk, remarkably thin, having their feet cased in small slippers of embroidered satin; and round his waist was a girdle, drawn very tight, to which was appended a small gold case, a purse, and a pouch of silk. Opposite to him sat Oriel Porphyry and Zabra, in their usual dresses, also eating sweetmeats from similar saucers.
"What an ineffable felicity I enjoy in being able to speak your language," observed the young Chinese.
"I have no doubt you find it an advantage in your communication with foreigners," replied the merchant's son.
"An advantage!" exclaimed the other rapturously. "By the great Fo, 'tis the most superlative of enjoyments. I bless the gods that my mother was an Anglo-Indian, and that she conferred on me the exquisite gratifications arising from proficiency in the use of her language. My father passed a great portion of his life in India, and acquired a facility in its pronunciation which is rarely obtained by a Chinese; so that I was born with extraordinary advantages."
"You were fortunate, certainly," added Oriel.
"Fortunate! By the immaculate tail of Confucius, I was favoured beyond all experience," cried his host.
There being nothing more to say on that subject, at least so the young merchant thought, he inquired--"Your father, I suppose, will be here shortly?"
"He is paying his devotions at the neighbouring temple. Long Chi enjoys a religious reputation, and he loves the society of holy men. But I was telling you of the indescribable happiness I possess in having acquired a proficiency in my mother tongue," added Long Chi the younger. "I am blest with a poetic genius."
"Indeed!" exclaimed Zabra, with some surprise.
"Wonderful as it may appear, the fact is what I have stated," replied the young poet, putting down the silver saucer on a small japanned table before him, and opening the pouch at his side, from which he took a bundle of papers. "I may say that my compositions have attracted an extraordinary degree of attention in the world of letters. They are considered phenomena in literature, I assure you. Do not imagine I wish to overrate their value. I should not think of such a thing for the thousandth part of a moment; and to prove this to you, allow me to enrapture you with some of my effusions."
"Certainly," said Oriel, expecting at least to be amused.
"The effort of a profound sublimity I am about to breathe into your enlightened ears, you will have the intellectual discrimination to observe, is a perfect specimen of the true Anglian pastoral," remarked Long Chi. "It has been created by that etherial sense of delicious enjoyment which your ancient poets called love. She for whose immaculate glorification it was called into existence, is a combination of miraculous excellencies--an incarnation of inconceivable perfections; and therefore your superior sagacities must not deem it at all more than ordinary extraordinary, if the merits of this indestructible conception fill you with a ravishing amazement."
"From what you have said I should expect something particularly clever," observed Zabra, evidently considerably amused by the poet's phraseology.
"Clever!" exclaimed the young Chinese, with emphatic fervour. "By the great Fo you will find it supernaturally perfect." Then arranging a rumple in his vest, and taking a glance of satisfaction at the reflection of his person in a large mirror beside him, with a slow and careful enunciation of each word, and a peculiar wave of the hand to mark the measure, the melancholy poet read the following verses:--
"Have you seen my Fee Fo Fum, Tell me did she this way come? She it is of whom I speak Hath a pink on either cheek; In the middle of her face Is a flower of nameless grace, Which the name of nose hath known, And blooms the brightest when 'tis blown. And her eyes are garden plots Filled with young forget-me-nots, That by lovers' eyes are found Flow'ring all the seasons round. Shepherds did she this way come? Have you seen my Fee Fo Fum?
"If below her nose you look, There's a little rosy nook; Two twin buds half open ask, Smiling, for some fondling task, While within, in each row, The lilies of the valley grow. Just beneath them both begins The blossom of the best of chins; Fair and round, and smooth as silk, And like a peach fresh bathed in milk. Shepherds, did she this way come? Have you seen my Fee Fo Fum?
"Breast of mutton, breast of veal, All your merits now conceal; What can ye afford to taste Half so pleasant, half so chaste, As the dainty bits that lie Hid from epicurean eye? What to them compared are ye, Calipash and calipee? Go! the sweeter flesh I've known Wants no sauce to coax it down. Shepherds, did she this way come? Have you seen my Fee Fo Fum?
"She of whom I'm in pursuit Hath to these a foot 'to boot;' Such a foot! 'tis like a rose, Budding out with five small toes. Calf's foot, likened as a treat, To a jelly it would beat: She hath two--but my regard Makes each foot excel a yard-- Go any lengths it might reveal, Save when she turns upon her heel. Shepherds, did she this way come? Have you seen my Fee Fo Fum?"
"It certainly is a superlative composition," remarked Zabra, attempting to conceal a laugh.
"I can safely say I never heard any thing like it," added Oriel in a similar tone.
"I entertained an incipient conviction that you would find it marvellously admirable," replied the poet, elevating his head, and stroking his mustachios. "'Tis ineffably divine, is it not?"
"Beautiful!" exclaimed both, looking at each other with a smile of peculiar meaning.
"Beautiful!" echoed Long Chi, raising his voice and eyebrows. "By the invulnerable tail of Confucius, 'tis something for which a name cannot be found. But exquisitely perfect as it may be, here is a production that excels it in the very unapproachableness of its excellence."
While the two friends listened with admirable patience, the young Chinese unfolded another paper, and read with the same gravity these lines:--
"When first we met 'twas in the spring, When dicky birds begin to sing, When nature dishes up her greens To make removes for rural scenes; And teaches, with unaltered brows, When trees take leaf, to make their boughs; Then first I met thee passing by, Then first I had thee--in my eye.
"When next we met 'twas summer time, When trees, well loaded, seemed to prime; And other plants just taking root, Meaning no harm, began to shoot; When beans their hollow 'shells' would doff, And marrow fats were going off; Then first our hearts were growing warm, Then first I had thee--arm in arm.
"'Twas autumn when we met again, When sunshine parched the peas and plain; When plums are blooming on the wall, And into flour would gladly fall; When apples are to fritters torn, And earth's square feet feel many a corn: Then first did I forget my fears, Then first I had thee--box my ears.
"I saw thee last when winter, nice In eating, loves to have his ice; When 'cold without' comes near and far, And all his sweetmeats frosted are, To ballot when the white balls roll Unask'd for, hastening to the poll: Then first I 'broke the ice,' and then Was I the happiest of men."
"That exceeds the last certainly," said Oriel Porphyry, amused with the perfect gravity with which the poet read his verses.
"It appears to me quite a new style of poetry," remarked Zabra, with as much seriousness as he could assume.
"Unquestionably! it is novel in the novelest degree," replied Long Chi, smiling with all the graciousness of gratified vanity. "I may with the most complete justice lay claim to be the origin in which originated its originality. I have studied sublimity. By the great Fo, I may say that; and I have found the sublime in every individual natural thing that is in nature; but in cookery and confectionary it predominates, as must be evident to the inquisitive investigation of any man of taste. It is the opinion of the most discriminative judges, that no writer of serious poetry can compete with me."
"In that opinion every one must coincide," observed Zabra.
"There can be no question on the subject," added Oriel.
"Who shall say you are barbarians, when you exhibit such a superabundant knowledge of the beautiful?" exclaimed the Chinese, with all the energy he could assume. "I am immeasurably enraptured to notice such an admirable judgment; and, as an additional proof of the satisfaction I receive from your friendly attention, I will still, to a much more infinite extent, delight your auditory nerves with one of the most serious of my efforts in serious poetry. Mark the true sublime; mark it well, and see how splendidly it agrees with the magnificent subject. It is an ode to a sugarplum."
The poet unfolded another paper; and the young merchant shrugged up his shoulders, as he heard its contents read with the same tone and manner as its predecessors.
"How shall I grasp a subject so immense? No power of human sense, Not all the vast Ideas within the Present and the Past-- Not algebra's most unknown quantity could give the sum Of greatness in a sugar plum!
"What with its sweetness can compete? How much it beats the beet! Shall manna dare, Wanting in manners, with it to compare? And honey's linked sweetness, long drawn out, is all a hum, 'Tis nothing to a sugar plum!
"Who can deny the sense of truth It gives the tongue of youth? It hath the praise Of being always candied in its ways, And stops the carping critic's mouth till he becometh dumb, Delighted with a sugar plum!
"Comfit, come fit my mouth, and I In thy sweet praise will try My hand at feet, With anxious aim to make the metre meet, Till Arabic, or any other diff'rent sort of gum, Shall water for a sugar plum.
"Muse, if thy musings can prevail, I'll at it tooth and nail; I have no nerves Of taste for syrups, jellies, or preserves; Oh, let them go to pot, say I, as so much worthless scum, They cannot make a sugar plum.
"Bull's eyes may stick within the shop, And so may lollapop, Elecampane Unsucked within its bottles may remain; And barley sugar, brandy balls, or even balls of rum, I'd spurn to get a sugar plum.
"Plums from the trees I do not find So plummy to my mind; Orleans or egg Unnoticed for my patronage may beg; And damsons may be da--; ah, I'm in a passion, I say mum, I'll swear not for a sugar plum."
"You excel yourself, sir," said Oriel Porphyry, with something of sarcasm in the tone of his voice, arising, perhaps, from his becoming a little out of patience.
"By the unsophisticated tail of Confucius, you may say that," replied the poet with the same seriousness he had from the first evinced. "Having, in so unutterable a manner, obtained the precedency of my promiscuous cotemporaries, I had no alternative but to enter into competition with myself. That I have to so wonderful an extent exceeded my own super-excellence, therefore, cannot be considered strange; but, as you are evidently gratified in a manner perfectly unparalleled by the unimaginable superiority of my poetic genius, I will show my consideration of your admirable sagacity by enrapturing you still more completely by a more transcendental attempt at the sublime;" and the young Chinese began unfolding another paper.
"Not now, I'm very much obliged to you," said Oriel, rising as if to depart. "I have business of importance that requires my immediate attendance; and, having waited for Long Chi so long, I am afraid I cannot protract my visit."
"Not to be ravished by the immortal praises of the adorable Fee Fo Fum?" exclaimed the melancholy poet in the utmost astonishment.
"I cannot allow myself that pleasure at present," said the merchant's son, courteously, yet looking as if he was impatient to be gone.
"I've written an indestructible epos in fifty cantos, descriptive of all her beauties, with a due regard of anatomy. I'll read you the whole of it, if you will stay," added the lover.
"I'm infinitely thankful; but my time is precious," observed Oriel, making rapid strides to the door.
"I will enrapture you with a thousand hexameters declaratory of my incommunicable affections," shouted the prolific versifier.
"Good morning to you, Long Chi," exclaimed Oriel Porphyry, as he opened the door, evidently very desirous of making his escape. He was on the point of leaving the room, accompanied by Zabra, when he was stopped in his progress by the appearance of a stout elderly Chinese, wearing the appearance of profound gravity. No sooner had he entered, than the poet shuffled his papers hastily into his pouch, jumped off the divan, and approached the stranger with looks of veneration and awe.
"Father, here are the barbarians you expected," said he. The ceremony of introduction was soon over; the two friends returned to their seats; and old Long Chi, seating himself cross-legged on the divan, commenced a conversation with his visitors, while his son remained standing beside him in respectful attention. He was dressed in a fashion somewhat similar to that of the younger Chinese; but the materials were not so gay, nor were they formed with so much neatness; and he wore boots of black satin instead of slippers, and a short cloak of fine cloth trimmed with fur.
"I have been sacrificing at the temple, which has detained me longer than I anticipated," said Long Chi the elder. "But religion is the first concern of life. Nothing should stand in the way of religion. The Bonzes are the only teachers of truth; and the worship of Fo is the only way that leads to virtue."
Neither Zabra nor his patron attempted to dispute this doctrine.
"I have been reading, father," falteringly uttered the poet--"I have been reading----"
"Hold your tongue, Long Chi," exclaimed his parent sharply.
"Father, I obey," murmured the obedient youth.
"Obedience is the first of virtues, and duty to parents the first of all obedience," remarked the old man, with a tone that seemed to his son more infallible than the sentence. "Children, obey your parents, saith our religion; and if they are disobedient we give them a touch of the bamboo." The poet at this moment looked remarkably grave. "Subjects, obey your rulers, saith the law; and if we become unruly _we_ get a touch of the bamboo." And the father looked as grave as his son.
"That is, I suppose, what is called being bamboo-zled," observed Oriel Porphyry with a smile.
"It is no laughing matter to us, I can assure you," added the old man feelingly; "but it is a fine thing for children. Our religion says, Spare the bamboo, and spoil the child: and I'm attentive to religion."
"I wish it said, Spoil the bamboo, and----"
"Hold your tongue, Long Chi!" thundered out the parent.
"Father, I obey," tremblingly replied the son.
"The bastinado is the best thing in the world for children," continued the elder, frowning upon his offspring. "We are obliged to provide for their bodies, and it is but proper we should do what we can for their soles. When a schism occurs in the family, I always punish it in that way."
"Then it becomes a sole-cism," added the young man, sorrowfully.
The old Chinese snatched up a heavy bamboo cane with which he had been walking, and swung it furiously round his head, with the intention of dealing a severe blow upon the poet's shoulders, but the lover of the adorable Fee Fo Fum jumped out of the way with more agility than submission, and the blow chipped off a corner of the japanned table.
"Is this the way you show your obedience, you undutiful wretch?" shouted Long Chi, as he jumped off the divan, in a rage after the offender. "Where's your religion? Where's your duty to parents? Spare the bamboo and spoil the child! Come and be bastinadoed, you ungrateful youth!" So saying, he waddled after his son as rapidly as he could, making desperate attempts to knock him down; but as Long Chi the younger not only was not so dutiful as to wait to be bastinadoed, but jumped out of the way of the blows as fast as they were aimed at him, Long Chi the elder, much fatigued by his exertions, at last returned to the divan, after having afforded infinite diversion to his visitors.
"I wonder the roof doesn't fall in and cover you, you unnatural offspring!" exclaimed the father, shaking the bamboo at his son, who stood trembling at a respectful distance; then wiping the perspiration from his shaven crown, he added, addressing the young friends, and the poet, by turns, "You are shocked, no doubt, at this instance of youthful depravity--Oh the graceless scoundrel! to run away from his affectionate father, who was going to beat him black and blue!--But I am happy to say, that there are few children in China so indifferent to the mild virtues of paternal government.--Come here, and let me knock your undutiful head into a thousand pieces, you vagabond!--It is a sad thing, I acknowledge, for the father of a family, who is anxious to bring up a child in the way it should go, to find it so insensible of his loving-kindness.--Oh, if I had you near enough, I'd smash you into a custard, you graceless varlet!--but you see a parent's heart is always overflowing with natural affection for his own flesh and blood.--By the great Fo, I should be delighted to bastinado you within an inch of your life!--Religion and morality, in these atheistical times, are thought nothing of by some children.--Haven't I brought you up, you heathen! on purpose to knock you down?--But this isn't the worst of it--they have become rank republicans. They have no proper notion of law, order, or government. When the father takes to his bamboo, the son takes to his heels--abominable rebel!--and when one flies in a passion the other flies in his face--unparalleled traitor!"
The entrance of servants, announcing that dinner was ready, put an end to the altercation; and Long Chi the elder, with much suavity, pressed his visitors to remain his guests for the remainder of the day; which invitation Oriel Porphyry, imagining that he should be free from all persecution from the rhyming propensities of his host's son, and expecting some amusement from the peculiarities of the two, forgot his engagements, and agreed to prolong his visit. Long Chi the elder then took one hand of each of his guests in his own and proceeded with them into a handsome apartment, furnished in a style similar to the one they had left. In the centre was a small low table, having four seats or cushions at its sides. The father and son sat opposite each other, cross-legged: and their visitors sat as comfortably as they could, facing each other, at the other sides of the table. Before each was placed three elegant porcelain saucers, one containing soy, another a small quantity of vinegar, and the other was empty; and, beside these, were two little ivory sticks. The other part of the table was covered with similar porcelain saucers, filled with various specimens of Chinese cookery in fish, flesh, and fowl, cut small; and servants handed round these with dishes of vegetables, such as cabbages, cucumbers, rice, and cauliflowers; and pastry of many different kinds, as they were directed by the host.
Both Oriel and Zabra watched with considerable surprise the two Chinese take the little ivory sticks in the three first fingers of the right hand, and, placing the head forward, and opening the mouth wide, dip them in the saucers, catching up pieces of flesh, which they flavoured with the vinegar, and dexterously flinging them into their mouths; and repeating the process so rapidly, that the eye could scarcely follow their movements. The guests attempted the same manoeuvres; but, as may easily be imagined, they were not so successful: for one piece that went into the mouth, a dozen went out; and, rapidly as the different saucers were handed to them, by the desire of the master of the house, they found that their appetites were not in any thing like the same degree becoming satisfied. Pieces of silver paper were frequently placed near them, with which they as frequently wiped their mouths and fingers, and not before such an operation was required; for their awkward attempts at imitating their entertainers occasioned them to deposit on their persons a considerable portion of the gravy or sauces in which the meat was dressed. Old Long Chi was indefatigable in endeavouring to make his visiters taste the contents of every saucer upon the table; in which effort they would gladly have seconded him, had their ability kept pace with their inclinations; but, to their exceeding disappointment, they found that the more they tried the less they swallowed; and, although they dipped their sticks and bobbed their heads after the savoury viands as they dropped from their treacherous hold, they had the mortification of finding, when the saucers were cleared away, that they were left in the enjoyment of quite as much appetite as they possessed when they first sat down to dinner.
Several kinds of soups were now brought on table, in curious boat-shaped vessels of porcelain; and with these, to the great gratification of the guests, appeared ivory spoons. Every one of the soups was tasted; and gladly would Oriel have made use of his spoon upon the more substantial cookeries that had been carried away: but he saw no more of them; and, the table having been cleared of the soups, fruits, and preserves, with glasses of a spirit made from rice were handed round. At this time, Long Chi the elder bent his head reverentially, and said, in a fervent manner, and with an audible voice,
"Grant, O Fo, that the good things thou hast so bountifully provided for us do not interfere with our digestion, or trouble us with apoplexy!" and left the apartment to change his dress; soon after which the guests, preceded by the younger Long Chi, returned to the saloon, where they partook of tea and sweetmeats.
"Now that the old boy has gone," said the melancholy poet, as soon as he had seated himself on the divan, "I will give you the felicitous gratification of hearing the perusal of my great epic in praise of the adorable Fee Fo Fum."
"Not for the world!" exclaimed Oriel Porphyry, with remarkable emphasis; "I would not trouble you on any account."
"Trouble!" cried the lover, as he commenced searching in his pouch; "by the inconceivable tail of Confucius, 'tis to me the most superlatively exquisite of extraordinary gratifications; and, when you come to entertain a proper consciousness of the inestimable treasures of intellectual greatness, which I have lavished with so profuse a liberality for the purpose of giving immortality to the unrivalled attractions of the adorable Fee Fo Fum, you will acknowledge, with that profound sagacity which you have already evinced by your commendation of my incorruptible effusions, that the particular portions of the diurnal revolution you have passed in obtaining an adequate knowledge of its innumerable excellences, has appeared to you to proceed with such an agreeable velocity, that you cannot, with any particular positiveness, assert that you have, during that period, been in a state which is vulgarly called existence."
"There is no doubt of it," replied Oriel, with considerable uneasiness, as he observed his tormentor unfolding a paper for perusal; "but I can only enjoy such things at certain periods; and at present I am positive that the merits of your productions would be entirely lost upon me."
"By the great Fo, impossible!" exclaimed the poet. "In what corner of the world hides the wretch so lost to every noble feeling--so lost to every sense of excellence--so inhuman, unnatural, and preposterously ignorant--as to listen to the incorruptible wisdom with which I can enlighten him, and not become transported into the very heaven of heavens?"
"You have already enlightened us to an extent as far as our limited intellects allow us to be enlightened by such productions as those you have read," observed Zabra, with an earnest attempt to be serious; "and it would be only throwing away the talents you possess on persons utterly incompetent to appreciate their merits, if you continue the perusal of your effusions."
"All imaginary," said the persevering versifier; "and you will forget it in your sense of the sublime which must be excited by hearing the perusal of the following passage." Long Chi the younger had opened his manuscript, had made a preparatory flourish of his hand, and had commenced some description, with the ordinary exclamation, "Oh!" when, happening to cast his eye towards the door, he encountered the frowning visage of his father. His hand dropped from its elevation: he quickly whipped his papers into his pouch, and jumped off the divan, with a celerity particularly acceptable to Zabra and his companion.
Old Long Chi appeared in a dress much more splendid than the one he had previously worn; and, gravely fixing himself in the seat his son had vacated, he commenced a conversation upon the business and voyage of his guests. Old Long Chi was a merchant of considerable experience and great wealth, with whom Master Porphyry had long had commercial dealings. He was remarkable for a profound gravity, a pair of moustachios the points of which descended to his chin, and a tail of hair which was the admiration of all his countrymen. Although he had passed the early part of his life in India, and had married an Anglo-Indian, on his return, like all Chinese, he continued the customs of his country, and gloried in its fancied superiority over the rest of the world. He had always been distinguished as a severe moralist. He seemed desirous of acquiring the praise of the Bonzes for the regularity of his attendance at the temples; and sought to be respected in society for the liberality of his contributions towards religious objects. Oriel and he were a considerable time agreeing about some merchandise that both had to barter; during which the melancholy poet stood at a respectful distance, looking at his parent, and then at the bamboo, with more dread than affection; while Zabra amused himself by taking notice of the scene before him.
"You have not seen much of our incomparable country, I suppose?" inquired the old man as he sipped a strong infusion of the tea leaf from a beautiful porcelain cup.
"I have only landed this morning," replied his guest.
"Ah! then you have much to see," added the other. "It is the most ancient government under the sun; and such a government! such laws, such institutions, and such a religion! The Emperor is quite a father to his subjects."
"With the bamboo, father?" asked his son tremblingly.
"Hold you tongue, Long Chi!" bawled out the old man.
"Father, I obey!" murmured the youth submissively.
"Are the laws mild in their operation?" inquired Zabra.
"Remarkably so," replied Long Chi the elder. "When punishment is inflicted, it is done on the most humane principles: you may get bastinadoed till you faint with pain; and then you will get bastinadoed till you recover."
"How very paternal!" exclaimed the young Long Chi emphatically.
"Silence, Long Chi!" shouted the old man.
"Father, I obey!" said his obedient son.
Both Zabra and his patron seemed much amused by this description of the mildness of the Chinese laws; but, fearing, if he pressed the subject much farther, the bamboo might come into operation in the domestic sovereignty with a similar character, Oriel Porphyry said,--
"I was much surprised with the great variety of dishes that appeared at dinner."
"Our preparations for the table are endless," responded his host. "In our cookery books we have fifty different ways of dressing dogs' ears."
"I could find a way of dressing dogs' ears in any book," muttered the melancholy poet at a distance.
"I'll give yours a dressing, you puppy! if you don't hold your tongue," bawled his father.
"Dogs' ears!" exclaimed Zabra in surprise: "we had none to-day, had we?"
"We had six different varieties, of each of which you partook," replied the other.
"Bah!" said Oriel Porphyry, with a countenance expressing any thing but pleasure.
"But that was not the only delicacy brought on table," continued the old man. "You seemed particularly to enjoy a fricassee of the rats of Loo Choo."
"Rats! we haven't been eating rats, surely?" demanded Zabra, as if horrorstruck at the idea.
"And you swallowed nearly the whole of the soup made from the large slugs of Japan!" he added.
"Ugh!" exclaimed both his visiters in a breath, looking in the highest degree disgusted at the idea of such fare.
"It is dangerous," said the melancholy poet, gravely, "to load either the stomach or your arms with slugs; especially----" He was not allowed time to finish the sentence; for, seeing his father snatch up the dreaded bamboo, and spring off the divan towards him, with a look threatening utter extermination, he dived under a table, leaped over an ottoman, dodged round several vases, and then rapidly made his exit out at the door, closely pursued by his parent; and their visiters, fancying that they had had quite enough of Chinese hospitality, hastened their departure.
They were proceeding through the narrow streets of Canton, bounded by the gloomy walls that shut out the houses from public view, experiencing some very disagreeable sensations, when they heard a violent altercation, and thought they distinguished voices familiar to them. They listened.
"Oh! oh! oh! This is not arguing logically. Oh! oh! This is demonstration without reason. Oh! oh! oh!" was heard amid a shower of blows.
"Oh! oh! you're breaking my back--don't you see! Ah! murder! help!" was shouted with similar accompaniments; and a door in the wall opening, out ran Fortyfolios and Tourniquet, making a desperate outcry, and vainly striving to save themselves from the thick sticks of half a dozen infuriated Chinese, who were belabouring them without mercy. Oriel, as soon as he saw the state of the case, rushed in amongst the attacking party; quickly deprived one of his weapon, and laid about him with such dexterity and vigour, that three out of the six were left senseless on the ground, and the rest had vanished before the philosophers discovered to whom they were indebted for their rescue.
"I am astonished that I should have found you in such a situation," remarked the young merchant to the professor and his companion, who, with most rueful visages, were busily engaged in rubbing their legs, shoulders, arms, and backs.
"Why, I will explain it to you as logically as I can," said Fortyfolios, moving his features and body into an abundance of contortions. "Oh, this pain! it certainly is a physical evil."
"That I deny!" eagerly exclaimed the other, writhing from the effects of his beating. "Pain is a perception of the mind, and cannot exist independently of mental perceptions--don't you see?"
"Impossible!" replied the professor, limping along as if every bone in his body was broken. "I maintain that it is a sensation purely corporeal, as there never yet was any pain where there was no body."
"You know nothing about it," sharply rejoined the doctor, cautiously feeling with his hands to discover his fractures. "There is mental anguish, in which the physical has no connection--don't you see?"
"But, gentlemen, what has this argument to do with the information I required?" asked the young merchant.
"I was about to enter into the subject in a proper manner, when Doctor Tourniquet interrupted me," observed Fortyfolios.
"I deny that!" eagerly exclaimed the surgeon.
"Doctor Tourniquet, you ought to be ashamed of yourself!" said the professor, assuming all his dignity.
"I deny that!" repeated the pertinacious disputant.
"Doctor, you are more than usually disputative," remarked Zabra.
"I deny that!" continued he: and it now became evident to Oriel Porphyry and his young friend, that both the professor and the doctor were exhilarated into a state nearly approaching intoxication.
"Demonstration! demonstration! Give me accurate demonstration: I'll not be convinced without it--don't you see?" said the surgeon.
"Argument is thrown away upon you: you are unreasonable, illogical, and inconvincible," muttered the other.
"Prove it! prove it! Give me the proof positive--let me behold the proof circumstantial," exclaimed his antagonist.
"Doctor Tourniquet, I beg you'll be silent," said the young merchant, in a tone that admitted of no dispute; and the doctor seemed only anxious to discover the extent of the hurts he had received. "And now, Professor Fortyfolios," he continued, "you can proceed."
"To come to a proper understanding of the case, you must be made aware that we left the Albatross on purpose to see whatever was worthy of observation in the city," observed the professor; "and, as I possessed a letter of introduction to a Columbian resident, there we first proceeded. We were heartily welcomed, and treated with a national hospitality; and were shown several remarkable things, of which the world will hear at a fitting opportunity. In returning from a place we had visited together, our friend suddenly left us to talk to some acquaintance he saw at the end of the street; and we thought we saw him go into a house, where we knocked. We were admitted; and I began explaining to the fellows, by whom we were immediately surrounded, that I desired to see my friend; but, without the slightest attempt at argument, the unreasonable brutes commenced beating us with heavy cudgels, till they were dispersed by your appearance."
"Let us see if I have killed these poor wretches," said Oriel, turning back to the place where he had left the three prostrate Chinese; but, to his great astonishment, and to the amazement of his companions, not a trace of either of them was to be seen. The dead men had taken advantage of their enemy being at a distance to scamper off from the field of battle as fast as their legs could carry them; and when the conqueror came to examine the destruction he had committed, he had the mortification of discovering that his triumph might take same note of "the missing," but the number of killed and wounded was not so easily ascertained.
After paying short visits to some of the principal ports in the flourishing kingdoms of Borneo and Sumatra, the Albatross was gallantly pursuing her voyage through the Strait of Malacca. There had been no wind for several days, and the sky had continued without a cloud. There was an oppressive sultriness in the atmosphere; and so great appeared the heat of the sun's rays, that the pitch oozed out of the seams of the vessel, and the timber became scorched and blistered. This continued, with very little variation, till the ship, approaching the coast of India, entered the Bay of Bengal. A little speck was first observed upon the horizon, which gradually enlarged; and soon afterwards several other dark vapours appearing on the heavens, rapidly increased in size, till vast masses of clouds came from the north-east, thickening, and darkening, and swallowing up the whole of the bright sky which had but a short time since been visible. The sea, from a state of calm, suddenly became stirred in all its depths: its billows rose into hills, the hills into mountains; and the vast waves, as they acquired additional magnitude, lashed each other with such a violence, that their tops were crested with foam. Almost at the same moment came on powerful gusts of wind, that kept continually increasing in force, till each drove the mountainous waves before it, as if they were grains of dust, and swept the Albatross over them with as much ease as if it were but a feather. Her spars bent--her timbers creaked; and occasionally some part of the rigging would be stripped off like dead leaves from a tree.
Floods of rain poured down, as if there was a sea in the sky that was being emptied into the waters of the earth; and the lightning, flashing in streaks of lurid fire, exhibited the black tempest gathering in the clouds in all its terrors. Then came the thunder, booming in deafening peals, that seemed to shake the world to its centre. The desperate wind rushed on with all its might--then came the deluge--then flashed the electric light--and then the thunder burst again with renewed fury. This succession of forces was exerted upon the ship, without intermission, the whole of the night, as she scudded rapidly along under close-reefed foresail and maintop-sail; but, although it was evident to the oldest sailors in the vessel, from the manner in which she behaved during the tempest, that a more admirable boat had never been built, she suffered very severely in many places. Several of the ports were stove in, the gangways torn away, the quarter galleries crushed; ropes were snapped like threads, and a few of the spars were splintered into fragments. The water rushed in through the gaping ports, till the lee side of the main deck was a complete pool, several feet in depth; and the monstrous waves swept over the ship in such immense masses, that many of the crew every moment expected that she would be overwhelmed.
Towards morning, the fury of the elements in some degree abated; but the broken spars, and the torn rigging, had scarcely been repaired, before the storm recommenced with renewed vigour. Nothing seemed capable of withstanding its destructive violence. The wind howled, and the thunder boomed, and the lightning flashed, and the big waves came rushing on with more fury than ever. Every timber creaked, and the ship was leaking at every seam. The exertions of the old captain had not ceased since the commencement of the tempest. In the loudest roar of the storm, his voice might be heard shouting his orders through a speaking-trumpet. He was everywhere where he thought his presence was necessary; and, forgetting his superiority in the necessities of the moment, he bore a hand in the most laborious and dangerous duties. He was ably seconded by his officers; and, although the crew had been harassed by constant exertion, they cheerfully continued their efforts to work the vessel, and save her from the violence with which she was assailed. To add to their disquietude, they discovered that she had been forced a considerable way from her course, and that there was an alarming depth of water in the hold: the fore-mast bent like a mere twig; and every instant the fore-topmast threatened to go by the board.
The engine was immediately set to work to reduce the leak; and, a sufficient power having been applied, the water began to diminish. The helm was now directed towards Bengal. The men laboured indefatigably to repair the injuries the ship had sustained; and hopes were entertained that, if the masts remained secure, the Albatross might ride out the monsoon, and reach her destination in safety. Towards the afternoon, there was a lull, and the men got both refreshment and repose. Oriel Porphyry had not left the deck during the whole of the time the danger was most imminent; and Zabra, as usual, had continued by his side. Both seemed to take a sort of fearful interest in watching the progress of the tempest; and, although the water dashed over them in torrents, and they were frequently obliged to hold on with all their strength, to prevent being swept away by the wind, they remained in nearly the same position, observing the vivid flashes of light that played amid the rigging, and looking into the black depths of the foaming ocean, as they descended into the trough of some mighty wave. Neither spoke: at least, rarely was a word uttered; and, if the friends had attempted to converse, the uproar that raged around them would have prevented any other sound from being heard. Several times Captain Hearty approached, and earnestly advised them to go below, as they exposed themselves to much unnecessary danger; but Zabra remained, with his head resting upon the shoulder of his patron, and his hand clasped in Oriel's, as if he knew of no protection where he was not; and the merchant's son, as if pleased with the affection of his youthful friend, would not be persuaded to leave the deck.
"Does any thing ail you, Zabra?" at last asked Master Porphyry, during an intermission of the storm, noticing that his companion had made two or three short hysteric sobs.
"No; I am well, I am quite well, Oriel," murmured the youth, as he raised his head, and looked in the face of his associate.
"Why, your eyes are filled with tears, Zabra! How is this?" exclaimed the other affectionately.
"I know not. A feeling has come over me, which I could not control," replied he in a whisper, as his delicate frame trembled with emotion. "I was thinking--I was thinking that, if the ship was swallowed up in these huge waves, that--that I should like--that I should like to die--that I should like to die with you thus;" and, with many sobs, he flung his arms round the neck of his patron, and let his head droop upon his breast.
"And so you shall, Zabra, if such fate be ours," said Oriel Porphyry, much moved by the devotion of his young friend. "But I see no reason to despair yet. The gallant Albatross bears it bravely; and, unless we lose the masts, or ship one of these overwhelming seas, we shall ride into port by to-morrow, or the next day at latest. But this is childish of you, Zabra, to give way to such feelings. You behaved not in this way when we were fighting side by side amid the pirates. Come, come! be more like yourself; and when the storm is over, which I hope will soon be, you shall laugh at these apprehensions; and you shall sing me one of your stirring songs, all about the glory and the freedom to be found upon the mighty waters of the deep; and I shall be enraptured, and you will rejoice."
Zabra raised his head, shook back the clustering curls that shadowed his face, and looked earnestly upon his patron.
"I will do as you wish me," he replied. "I have been wrong in disturbing your contemplations with my foolish fears: but, however proud the heart may be,--however great, and brave, and noble be all its tendencies,--there comes a time when all superiority and all valour are lost in a sense of overpowering humility and apprehension. But, hark! The elements are again let loose upon us. Hear how the wind howls, like a lion roaring for his prey! And look at this mountain of water sweeping up to ingulf us within its dark devouring jaws. Cling to the mast, Oriel! cling to the mast! or you will be swept into the sea."
Oriel Porphyry held one arm tightly round the waist of Zabra: with the other he grasped the mainmast, as the towering billow, forced onward by a violent gust of wind, broke on the deck, carrying away two of the sailors, who were inattentive to its advance, and pouring through every opening into the lower parts of the ship.
"A man overboard!" was the immediate cry: but the vessel was proceeding at so rapid a rate, that no effort could be made to save them. When the fury of the tempest had abated, the two friends descended to the cabin; where Oriel, observing that Zabra seemed ill and faint, wanted him to take such refreshment as his exhausted frame needed, and tried to strengthen the effect of his command by setting before him a good example. A long fast, and the excitement of danger, continued for such a period of time, required nourishment; and the young merchant seemed desirous of showing his companion that his fatigues had not spoiled his appetite; but though he pressed him frequently to partake liberally of the different things he had ordered for him, he could not induce him to follow his directions to any thing like the extent he desired. In fact, Zabra appeared to have suffered too much from the state of feeling in which he had existed during the recent tempest to be able to realise the kind wishes of his patron.
"My dear Zabra you are not well," observed Oriel Porphyry, finding his endeavours and example so little attended to. "You look perfectly exhausted. Go to your hammock and endeavour to sleep off your fatigues. If I do not see that you take proper care of yourself, I shall deserve censure from Eureka. So if you do not wish to get me into trouble, you will do as I desire you."
"She will not blame you," murmured his youthful associate, as he proceeded to his little cabin.
"What an extraordinary creature he is!" he exclaimed, as soon as Zabra had left him; and he was reflecting upon the cause of that mystery in which the character of his youthful friend seemed enveloped, when he was disturbed by the entrance of the two philosophers. Fortyfolios looked somewhat paler than usual, nor did Tourniquet appear quite at his ease. They had also suffered from the effects of the storm, though neither of them had appeared on deck while it lasted.
"It is extraordinary to me, Dr. Tourniquet," said the professor gravely, as he entered the cabin--"It is extraordinary to me that you will argue from wrong premises."
"It is as extraordinary to me that you will argue to wrong conclusions, don't you see," replied the surgeon good humouredly.
"What is the matter in dispute now, gentlemen?" inquired the young merchant.
"We differ in our ideas concerning the true nature of happiness," responded Fortyfolios. "Now, I maintain that happiness consists in virtue; for there can be no true happiness without the existence of virtuous inclinations; and virtue is but another name for purity--a state of being perfectly free from the pollution of vice."
"And I maintain a very different sort of thing altogether, don't you see," replied the doctor. "But first of all let us examine the idea that happiness consists in virtue--by which I suppose is meant that virtue produces happiness. There are a thousand instances of virtuous people being as miserable as a bear with his fur shaved off. One from disappointed love--another from the death of a friend or relative, and a third from constitutional irritability. One finds misery in the past--another meets with it in the present--a third looks for it in the future; and although all these are virtuous in the common acceptation of the word, they are far from being happy, don't you see. But there is a stronger case against the argument that virtue produces happiness in the instance of----Suppose a noble spirited youth, or an amiable and excellent girl, who may be, in thought or action, the beau ideals of virtue, yet if they are disgraced in their own eyes by their near relationship to individuals notorious for some degrading vice, their very notions of virtue create in them a continual misery. They have done no evil, yet they are ashamed of themselves--they have a most decided inclination for sincerity; and yet, knowing that if the world knew of their connection with vice, they would be considered to be vicious as a natural consequence (for such is the unjust conduct of the world), they are obliged to practise deception; and the practice of deception soon becomes habitual--they deceive all around them. Their principles are thus continually warring with their actions; and the dread of their deceit being discovered, and the disgrace which attaches to them becoming known, creates a state of misery not easily to be exceeded."
"But I cannot imagine such a state of things," remarked Oriel Porphyry. "No child can be made answerable for the criminality of its relatives; and a well educated mind will care little for an opinion by which it is sought to be degraded, if that opinion is unjust."
"Certainly," observed the professor approvingly.
"We must take society as we find it, don't you see," added the doctor, "with all its prejudices and all its injustice. If the circle in which moves a youth of either sex, whose conduct is irreproachable and whose motives are admirable, discover that the father of their young associate was hanged for murder, or that the mother was noted for profligacy, they will shrink from him as if he was as vile as his origin; but to the young female this sort of connection bears with a most cruel severity. There are many children born out of wedlock, of mothers of infamous characters, which the father, who may be of a somewhat higher rank of life, with a laudable anxiety for the welfare of his offspring, takes from the mother and educates. Imagine a child thus originated, carefully instructed in virtuous principles till she approaches the period of womanhood, when, with the knowledge of her mother's infamy, she ventures into a society in which her beauty and intelligence would render her one of its best ornaments, she is acutely sensitive of her own disgraceful position in the eyes of the world, and enters into companionship with individuals of her own sex whom she is well aware would consider themselves contaminated by her presence if they knew her secret; or becomes beloved by a youth of the other sex, who, thinking her what she appears to be, honours her above all human beings, with a continual dread that the truth will be disclosed, and that she will be pointed at, avoided, insulted, and abandoned by those now so eager to seek her society. There is no state of misery so deplorable as this. In time, the constant anxiety and fear in which she exists will affect her health, and she gradually wastes away with the bitter consciousness that she is the victim of a prejudice: although perfectly innocent, is punished as if she was the vilest of criminals; and, although formed to diffuse happiness around her, is obliged, from day to day, to endure the crushing agonies of an unceasing misery. And this is an example of virtue without happiness, don't you see."
"But possibly the dread of insult, or a sense of shame," continued the doctor, "prevents her from entering the society in which she ought to find an honourable place. She is confined to a narrow circle, out of which she dare not step, and is obliged to associate with the worthless of her own sex and the profligate of the other. Her companions are the vulgar and the vile. They having no proper conception of the value of either truth or virtue, and she looking on the world that has abandoned her as unjust, and smarting under the wrong it inflicts, begins to think them as much ill treated as herself, and believes that a false interpretation has been given to their conduct. Gradually she parts with her conviction of what is honourable. One by one she acquires the mean and contemptible vices of her associates. She sees them dissimulate, and practises deception. Falsehood becomes habitual. She loses all self-respect. She becomes criminal, degraded, and depraved. In fact, by an atrocious verdict, she is at first considered one of the very Pariahs of society, don't you see, and is at last forced to be the vile thing the world had thought her."
"The prejudice which so punishes is a disgrace to any civilised community," exclaimed Oriel with warmth, "and the laws which press so cruelly upon natural children are both impolitic and inhuman."
"They are undoubtedly severe," observed Fortyfolios; "but their severity is caused by the detestation of society for vice."
"That I deny," eagerly replied Tourniquet. "Change the condition of the child. Suppose it to be the offspring of a prince; and, although the mother be a sink of iniquity, the girl will be eagerly sought after by honourables and right honourables, most nobles, and others that entertain the highest notions about virtue. So much for the community's detestation of vice, don't you see. Now for my conception of the true nature of happiness. I consider happiness, in the first place, to be the result of a peculiar temperament. There must be a disposition to be happy in the individual before any happiness can be created. In some persons this disposition is so strong, that the most afflicting things will scarcely, if at all, affect it; in others, the disposition is so weak that it is continually overpowered by external circumstances; and in others, the disposition is not to be traced, for it does not exist. That virtue is necessary to a state of happiness there is no doubt; but what is called virtue by different communities appears in so many various shapes, that it requires a more catholic sense attached to it than it possesses to make it universally understood. I consider virtue to be a moderate indulgence in our inclinations when they do no injury to the individual, to the object, and to any other person, with a perfect and exclusive sympathy of an individual of one sex for an individual of the other. Modesty is called a virtue, chastity is called a virtue, and sobriety is called a virtue; but they are only distinct features of the virtue I have described."
"That is clearly enough defined; and I should think could not be disputed," remarked Oriel.
The professor said nothing.
"Now this virtue does not create happiness any more than does the virtue of my learned friend," continued the doctor; "but in by far the majority of instances it is necessary to its existence. The happiness that arises from alleviating suffering has often been found in an individual possessing no pretensions to virtue. But happiness itself is pleasure. There is the pleasure of creating enjoyment in an object, and there is the pleasure which succeeds it in the individual. There never was happiness without pleasure; there ought not to be pleasure without happiness. There is no pleasure like that of doing good; consequently, there is no happiness like that of making others happy: and wherever there is a disposition to be happy, it will exhibit itself in a desire to create happiness in others; and wherever there is no disposition to be happy, the individual will be just as careless of the happiness of those around him as he is regardless of his own. That's my idea of happiness, don't you see."
"And it appears to me a very rational one," observed the young merchant. "But how does the disposition to happiness arise?"
"There are some very curious phenomena connected with the origin and growth of these dispositions," replied the surgeon. "In the first place, all dispositions are formed in the individual by the pressure of external circumstances, no matter how or from whence directed: evil dispositions and good, and they arise at different times and sometimes in succession. When created, they set with a certain impetus in a certain direction; and as in these the extremes meet, if another impetus is given, they will proceed from bad to good to the same distance they advanced from good to bad. This is the cause of individuals having been notorious for vice becoming eminent for virtue. Water flowing from the top of a mountain is capable by its own power of finding its level on a mountain of a similar elevation; and the impetus of vice being carried down a certain way ascends by the impetus of good a like height. This accounts for the old proverb, 'The greater the sinner the greater the saint;' that is to say, the force in one produces a like force in the other. Again, the disposition to love has frequently been followed by the disposition to hate, as nearly as possible to the same extent; and the disposition to happiness may as frequently be succeeded by the disposition to misery."
"But supposing the impetus to be carried down, it will want the application of no other power to carry it up; and if carried up, will unassisted carry itself down," remarked the professor.
"Not so," replied the doctor: "Evil is of a heavy nature; and when it descends, clings to the soil at the bottom, unless it receive another impetus: and good is of a light nature, that naturally rises, and when it has attained its highest elevation would there remain, were it not sent down with a similar force."
"The idea is ingenious, certainly," said the young merchant.
"And that is all the merit it possesses," observed Fortyfolios, whose more orthodox notions could not tolerate such an hypothesis. "Were such a theory generally adopted, its mischief would be incalculable. It would loosen our sense of the moral obligations, and utterly destroy all the established ideas of right and wrong."
"As for the moral obligations, don't you see," replied Tourniquet, "I am perfectly convinced that it would place them on a much more secure footing than they now possess; and if established notions on the subject are erroneous, which I can prove them to be, the sooner they are knocked on the head the better. I have already shown to you, in the instance of the natural child, that the idea of virtue in the community is very vague, unsettled, and unphilosophical, and creates more mischief than it does good; and if we take the ideas of the same principle existing at different times and in different communities, we shall find even this confusion worse confounded. Things the most opposite to the true character of virtue have been considered worthy of general adoption as virtues. Thieving has existed as a virtue; drunkenness has existed as a virtue; profligacy has existed as a virtue; murder has existed as a virtue; and many others of the most abominable vices have, at various intervals, with various people, been practised, avowed, and defended, as if they were the most admirable of virtues. It is not many centuries since the natives, on the coast of Guinea, and the inhabitants of other countries, were taught to steal, and the cleverest thief was an object of as much admiration among them as the most virtuous member of the community; but there is no necessity to go to a state of barbarism for an illustration of the honour with which dishonesty has been regarded; for in all speculations, in all trading dealings, in all gambling transactions, and in all appropriations of property acquired by one party from another by a certain cunning or skill, of which the other is not possessed, there is nothing else but stealing; and yet a person acquiring property by such means is generally thought to be respectable, and respectability is considered a virtue."
"I am afraid, if your argument be true, that there is but little real honesty in the world," remarked Oriel.
"It is as I have stated," replied the doctor. "I have read of states in which the man who could swallow some half a dozen bottles of wine, and make his friends follow his example--in other words, a man who practised habitual intoxication--had the reputation of being 'a good fellow,' when amongst the same people goodness was considered virtue; but even at the present day, in some parts of the world, intemperance is regarded as a thing to be applauded rather than censured, although it is not only a vice, but being the most direct channel to all other vices ought to be held in detestation as the most vicious of evil inclinations."
Oriel Porphyry thought of the scene he had witnessed at Canton; but he smiled, and said nothing.
"With regard to the next of these vices which are considered as virtues," continued the doctor, "there are few so destructive to happiness. What is vulgarly called virtue in the government or indulgence of the affections, in a majority of instances, should go by an opposite name. It is upon record, that a certain king of Ashantee was possessed of 3333 wives: other monarchs have been equally affectionate towards their female subjects; and it is very rare, indeed, to find these potentates, even with the wise king Solomon at their head, possessing any pretensions to this identical virtue; and yet they have been honoured more than the most virtuous character in their dominions. But I maintain that all marriages against the inclination of one or both parties, such as those formed for convenience, from state policy, or by the authority of parents and guardians, is a state of absolute vice; and yet the individuals so existing are regarded as if living in a state of perfect virtue."
"Undoubtedly they live in a state of perfect virtue as long as they have no vicious inclinations," said the professor.
"But it frequently happens that one of these parties has entertained an inclination for another before marriage," replied Tourniquet. "An inclination perfectly virtuous, but circumstances over which either have no control, force them into a marriage, and then in the opinion of the world that inclination (which is rarely destroyed) is considered vicious, though perfectly virtuous in itself, and the state in which the individual exists, against his or her inclination, is considered virtuous, though perfectly vicious in itself, because it tends either to destroy the virtuous inclination, or if that inclination is indulged under those circumstances, it creates a state of things which is just as far removed from virtue. The same species of vice is created by an inclination after marriage--which is likely to occur when the marriage has taken place without an inclination."
"At one time the punishment used to be very severe for endeavouring to effect a marriage or a similar state of things against the inclination of one of the parties," remarked the young merchant. "And I imagine that if the mis-marriages to which you have alluded were punished after the same fashion, both the public morals and the public happiness would be much increased."
"No doubt of it, don't you see," responded the doctor. "And now for an examination of the manner in which murder has been regarded. About a thousand years since there was a religious community in India who practised murder as a virtue. They were called Thugs, and after long watching for an opportunity, with abundance of prayers and other holy ceremonies, they fell upon their victims and strangled them with a cord. Previous to this, there arose a military and religious order in Persia, called Assassins, who stabbed or poisoned in secrecy and without shame; and by both these communities murder was practised as the highest kind of virtue. But they were not the only people who entertained similar notions. The heathens murdered the Christians, and the Christians slaughtered the heathens. The Catholics destroyed heretics, and heretics waged a religious war upon one another. The Mahometans killed Jews or Christians, or any other sect not professing their form of faith; and the Jews, Christians, and others, retaliated to the best of their ability; and under the name of religion nearly all religious sects have murdered by wholesale, and, practising this inhuman vice, each party has conceived that they were exhibiting the highest kind of virtue. But at the present day, murder in a variety of shapes exists, and is regarded as a virtue of a very high order. Even in an offender, the destruction of human life is murder, unless, which is a very extreme case, it be impossible for the security of society, to allow the offender to exist; yet the sanguinary executions that disgrace the penal codes of many communities, boasting a superior degree of civilisation, is called justice, which is but another name for virtue. Killing a man in a duel is murder. All warfare is murder; yet he who distinguishes himself most in the destruction of those to whom he is opposed is honoured as being peculiarly brave--and bravery is considered a virtue."
"Occasions arise when warfare is absolutely necessary," said Oriel Porphyry; "and I cannot help the conviction, that the man who signalises himself in the defence of his country, and in the destruction of his enemies, is entitled to rank with the most virtuous characters."
"Certainly," observed Fortyfolios.
"With regard to wars being necessary, don't you see, in the present state of the world they may be," replied the surgeon. "But in an improved order of things they would not be required, for then the force of opinion would be much more effective than the force of arms; and as to the superior character of valour, although few can admire heroic actions more than myself, I know that the courage by which they are created is an impulse which may exist to the same extent in the savage and in the brute. This is not necessary to virtue, for in some organisations the want of physical energy renders the existence and the exhibition of martial courage impossible; and it is not produced by virtue, for it is often found existing in persons of the most vicious inclinations. Now I think I have said enough to show the want of clearness in the ideas of virtue that have existed and do exist in the world, and the danger which must arise from attempting to build any happiness upon so insecure a foundation."
"I differ with you _in toto_," exclaimed the professor, with more than his usual seriousness. "And glad I am that such is the case; for your heathenish theories are destructive of every religious principle that the human mind possesses."
"Pish!" muttered the doctor.
"It is an argument, the tendency of which goes directly to level all the existing distinctions between right and wrong, and to weaken the influence of those sacred truths which have been professed by mankind for so many generations," continued Fortyfolios.
"Bah!" exclaimed Tourniquet.
"You may profess what opinions you please," he added; "but the opinions on which multitudes of people rest their expectations of future happiness ought not to be disturbed by the contemplation of such vain and idle speculations as those in which you indulge."
"Nonsense, don't you see," said the other.
"I tell you, Dr. Tourniquet, it is rank atheism," exclaimed the professor, rather warmly.
"I tell you, Professor Fortyfolios, you're a goose," replied his antagonist.
"As usual, gentlemen, your argument ends in a dispute," observed Oriel Porphyry. "But you must excuse me for the present. I am really tired out, and have been yawning in a manner that would have silenced any disputants less eager than yourselves. I shall go to my berth, which example I should advise you to follow; and let us hope that the terrible monsoon will allow us some repose."
The philosophers took the advice that was offered; and in less than half an hour all three were fast asleep in their hammocks.
GAME LAWS IN INDIA.
"Pooh, pooh! Come and hunt. Come and hunt. There is no use in looking after a parcel of buildings, and running to see sights: now you are in this part of the country you ought to enjoy the pleasures it affords. Come and hunt, man. Come and hunt."
This was said by a fine, stout, middle-aged man, dressed in a light jean jacket and full lower garments of a similar fabric, with a very broad brimmed hat of fine straw, which he was then putting on. Although his complexion was sallow, his features were lively and intelligent; and there was a bluff, free, careless manner with him that seemed particularly agreeable to his companions. They were in a handsome chamber with an open veranda, through which the slight breeze that was stirring, entered; and the furniture, though rather faded, still possessed an air of elegance. Wines, fruits, and sweetmeats were on a large table in the centre, near which Oriel Porphyry and the speaker stood. Zabra was leaning over the back of a cane-bottomed seat, watching the motions of a lizard crawling up part of the framework of the veranda. Fortyfolios was busily engaged endeavouring to beat off several mosquitoes that seemed to have taken a fancy to his bald head; and Dr. Tourniquet was examining the tusk of an elephant that lay, with several skins, in a corner of the room.
"Ah, but, Sir Curry Rajah," replied the young merchant, "when you kindly invited us to your country house, I told you our stay could be but brief. The period I intended to pass with you has elapsed; and though delighted with your hospitality, I must really be thinking of my departure."
"Nonsense, nonsense!" exclaimed his host. "You wo'n't be thinking of any thing of the kind. There is no business waiting for you. My people in the city will take care that every thing you required shall be shipped safely without loss of time; and, therefore, there can be no occasion for your troubling your young brains about profit and loss for a day or two at least. Come and hunt, I tell you. Come and hunt."
"Is there any good hunting in this part of the world, then?" inquired Oriel.
"Hunting! The best hunting in the universe," replied Sir Curry Rajah. "I've got the finest preserves in all India."
"And what game have you?" asked his visitor.
"Game?--Game of all kinds, and plenty of it; especially tigers," responded the other.
"Tigers!" exclaimed the young merchant in so loud a voice that his companions started with surprise. "Why, what could induce you to preserve such animals?"
"The sport, to be sure, man," replied Sir Curry; "and we are obliged to be very strict in the application of our game laws; for the rascally poachers will often destroy the game."
"I should think the game more likely to destroy the poachers," observed his guest with a smile.
"That's their look out," said the other. "I only know it's a most difficult thing to preserve tigers. My tenants shoot them if they happen to attack their flocks; and the peasants combine to kill them, for the purpose of procuring their skins. But our game laws punish the scoundrels severely if they are caught in the fact--imprisonment and hard labour for every offence, and very just these laws are. Why, gentlemen would have no sport if they were to allow their game to be cut up by every fellow who has a desire for sport, or thinks his life or the lives of his cattle of more value than a tiger. I have been at great expense with my preserves; for the animal has long been exceedingly scarce: and I have improved the breed a great deal by importing some new varieties. The cross which has ensued has altered the game wonderfully. They are infinitely more savage, far more daring, and in speed and cunning are not to be excelled. In fact, my tigers have a reputation all over the country; and the ablest hunters are very glad to get a day's sport with me, as they know they will meet with the best tigers that are to be found any where."
"And how do you hunt them?" inquired Oriel.
"On elephants principally," replied Sir Curry. "The hunter sits upon an elephant, with an air gun, fixed upon a swivel, before him. These animals are well trained. I've got some of the finest elephants in the world, thorough-bred--and they go into the preserve, and rouse the tiger from his cover. If he goes off, the elephant follows; if he shows fight, the hunter fires: and sometimes the game is not killed till fine sport has been enjoyed--a man or two killed, and other exciting pleasures enjoyed."
"And did these skins belong to animals of your killing?" inquired Tourniquet, who had been an attentive listener to the conversation, as he turned over two or three large tiger skins.
"Yes, I killed them, and fine sport they gave," said his host. "That one you have in your hand belonged to a noble fellow. The day in which he was killed was a memorable one. My late neighbour, Lord Muligatawny, was very proud of his preserves, and used to boast he had the best tigers in India. So to take the conceit out of his lordship, I invited him to a hunt on my grounds. Well, he came on his elephant, for he enjoyed the sport as much as any man, and we proceeded together with our attendants to a jungle in which I knew the greatest quantity of game was to be found. He and I kept close together, he boasting all the time of the superiority of his preserves, till as we entered this particular place, I thought it would be most advisable to be at a short distance from him, so we separated, but without my losing sight of him. Now Lord Muligatawny used a peculiar kind of snuff-box, and was a fierce looking sort of man; and he used to say that no tiger could ever look him in the face. He said the brute always bolted when he tried the experiment. Well, we saw lots of game, and had some capital sport, but as we were proceeding along in high spirits at our success, I started a magnificent animal. I had a shot at him, but was not near enough to do him any mischief. As the tiger was stealing off towards Lord Muligatawny, he fired; but whether it was his mismanagement of the gun, or proceeded from his elephant's suddenly backing at the approach of the tiger, I cannot say; but certain it is Lord Muligatawny was tumbled off his elephant, and in another moment the tiger was upon him. 'Now we shall see if the tiger will bolt,' thought I; and he did bolt: but he bolted with Lord Muligatawny! He grasped his lordship by the nape of his neck at the time he was looking as fierce as a ferret, and flinging his body over his shoulder, he was out of sight before any one could get a shot at him."
"And what became of him?" inquired Oriel.
"That was the last we ever saw of Lord Muligatawny," replied Sir Curry. "But about a week afterwards I was hunting in the neighbourhood, when, after a capital run, and a desperate contest, I succeeded in killing one of the finest tigers I ever saw. I had his body taken home to show him to my friends, and upon opening him, among the best part of a sheep, a dog's hind quarters, and a litter of sucking pigs, we found the identical snuff-box of poor Lord Muligatawny, proving beyond the possibility of a doubt that not only had the tiger bolted _with_ his lordship, but that he had had the audacity to make a bolt _of_ him. But come and hunt--come and hunt--I will show you some capital sport."
"Such as you showed Lord Muligatawny, I suppose," said the young merchant, laughing.
"Oh no, there's no danger," replied his host; and then taking an air-gun of a peculiar construction towards his visitor, added, "Now, look at this weapon--one of the best of the kind ever made. This is fixed on a swivel in the carriage in which you sit on the elephant; and you are quite safe, and, if you are a tolerable marksman, are sure to wound your game. Besides this, the hunter generally has a strong short sword, like this," said he, producing a weapon of that description. "Very sharp and very useful too, for if the tiger leaps on the elephant, which he will frequently do, the hunter with a good blow at his head may settle his business. Come and hunt, man, come and hunt."
"Confound these mosquitoes!" exclaimed the professor in a rage, vainly endeavouring to drive the insects from about him, and making the most ludicrous grimaces, as in spite of his exertions they succeeded in biting the exposed part of his head. "These horrible things will torment me to death. Ever since I have been in this deplorable country, my head has been besieged by thousands of them. They don't let me rest a minute. Ah! What a gripe! I shall go mad! They'll torment me to death; I can't endure it, Sir Curry."
"You'll soon get used to it," said his host, quietly. "This is the way they always use strangers. You are fresh meat to them. But come and hunt--come and hunt; I'll have the elephants got ready for you immediately, and it's a capital day for the sport."
"What say you, gentlemen? Shall we hunt the tiger?" asked Oriel Porphyry.
"I would rather you would hunt the musquitoes," said Fortyfolios, seriously.
"What say you, Zabra?"
"If you wish it, Oriel," replied the youth.
"I have not the slightest objection, don't you see," observed the doctor.
"Then let it be, Sir Curry," said Oriel.
Orders were instantly given to the servants, a crowd of dark Hindoos, in white turbans, short frocks fastened round the middle with a sash, and with bare arms and legs, who lost no time in making the necessary preparations.
Three elephants were caparisoned and led round to the front of the house. Sir Curry mounted the largest, and Fortyfolios and Tourniquet, after some trouble, managed to get firm sitting on another. While these preparations were making, Zabra had been amusing himself by feeding the remaining elephant with sweetmeats. She was a small but exceedingly docile animal; and seemed to enjoy the sort of food with which she was indulged with a particular gusto, swinging her body with a regular oscillatory movement, and twisting her trunk up and down with ceaseless activity. The order having been given her to kneel, the two friends mounted; and, accompanied by a few attendants, skilful in the management of the hunt, the party moved forward into an open park, in which several blue-skinned buffaloes and humped bullocks, with here and there a few deer, were seen endeavouring to find a cool place in the shadows of the trees. The day was excessively hot; and the oppressive sultriness of the atmosphere seemed to be felt by every living thing, except the mosquitoes, who flew about in myriads, plaguing both man and beast. In passing a large tank the cattle were frequently seen rushing into it, where they would remain with nothing but their noses above the water, in hopes of escaping from those tormenting insects; but Fortyfolios appeared to be the especial object of their attacks, for his hands were constantly employed in trying to drive them from his face. They passed many clumps of lofty cocoa-nut trees, in which troops of monkeys were skipping about from branch to branch, and chattering at the hunters with more volubility than harmony; and, after proceeding along fields of rice, indigo, and Indian corn, surrounded by hedges of aloes and bamboo, they approached a marsh, watered by a branch of the Ganges, in which several large crocodiles, troops of adjutants, and different species of snakes were observed.
"There's plenty of game here, you see!" remarked Sir Curry to his companions. "But it's wonderful the difficulty I have to preserve it; poaching prevails to a great extent in spite of the severity of our game laws."
No reply was made to the observation; and the party passed on, making their way with great difficulty through a forest of banyans, occasionally taking a shot at a stray jackal or a wandering vulture, till they descended a steep declivity, overgrown with thick underwood, over which trees of immense proportions spread their gigantic branches.
"Now we shall soon beat up the game," said Sir Curry: "we are entering a famous preserve of tigers. About half a mile further in the jungle we shall come to the very place where I lost poor Lord Muligatawny. Very interesting spot."
Fortyfolios at least did not seem to care for the interest of the place, and he regretted ever having left the safe quarters of Sir Curry Rajah's country-house, to wander on the back of an elephant through marshes, and forests, and jungles, infested with every species of venomous and savage creatures.
"I cannot see what pleasure there can be in exposing one's life in this way. It's the most foolish thing I ever heard of," said he to his companion.
"The ancients were much greater fools, don't you see," replied Tourniquet. "They would break their necks after a wretched fox."
"But the fox couldn't eat the hunter, and the tiger can," added the other seriously.
"Then there is the greater necessity for killing the tiger, don't you see," rejoined the doctor.
"But why not exterminate the breed? They must be very destructive to the flocks and herds as well as to human beings who happen to fall in their way; yet this man actually preserves them for the sake of the sport they afford," said the professor, with unfeigned astonishment.
"Just so did the ancients with their foxes," replied his companion. "They were very destructive to the poultry of the neighbouring farmers; they were perfectly worthless; their skins were of no value, and their flesh not eatable; yet they were carefully preserved for the sport they afforded."
"A tiger!" exclaimed Sir Curry, who was a little in advance of the party, as he pointed to some animal, the form of which could not be clearly distinguished, stealing through the high grass and reeds with which they were surrounded. Several shots were fired at him; but he bounded away as if unhurt, and the elephants proceeded in pursuit.
"A tiger!" again shouted their host, and another was observed making off in a contrary direction; but he escaped before a gun could be discharged.
Oriel Porphyry began to feel a little excited, and took more interest in the hunt than he had previously experienced.
"Oh!" exclaimed Fortyfolios, as loud as he could scream; and, upon looking round to observe what was the matter, the hunters beheld a large monkey, as the professor was passing underneath the branch of a tree, swinging by his tail, dart down, and snatch the straw hat that Fortyfolios wore to shield his head from the sun's rays, with which he made an immediate retreat, grinning and chattering among his companions as if congratulating himself on the cleverness by which he had acquired the prize. The whole troop were immediately in commotion, scrambling with one another for possession of the spoil; till the thief, finding he was likely to lose the result of his dexterity, placed the hat on his own head, and darted off, from branch to branch, with inconceivable rapidity, pursued by the other monkeys with a chorus of yells absolutely deafening.
Fortyfolios looked the very picture of mute despair when he found his bald head exposed to the attacks of the relentless mosquitoes, and was obliged to bind it with a handkerchief. His disquietude did not decrease, when, a few paces farther on, his eyes fell upon the form of a monstrous snake, twined round the stem of an immense tree, which, with arched head, glaring eyes, and protruded sting, seemed about to spring upon the unhappy professor.
"Plenty of game here, gentlemen; capital preserve," observed Sir Curry very coolly.
"Heaven preserve me!" emphatically exclaimed Fortyfolios, trembling in every joint.
Tourniquet fired at the monster, and he immediately glided away into the deepest recesses of the jungle.
"A tiger!" shouted Sir Curry, as one made its appearance within a few yards of his elephant. Oriel fired, and hit him. Sir Curry fired at the same time, and lodged a bullet in his shoulder. The animal, smarting with the pain and howling with rage, made a spring at Sir Curry, which brought him within reach of his "tiger-slayer," as he called it; and a ferocious blow, well directed, sent him with another howl to the feet of the elephant, who kept him between her hind legs and her fore legs till she had kicked him to death.
"Fine beast!" said Sir Curry Rajah, noticing its size; "but this place is famous for such game. By the bye, this is the identical spot in which I lost poor Lord Muligatawny. He was sitting on his elephant just where sits our friend the professor----"
"Oh!" groaned Fortyfolios.
"When he fell into the jaws of the tiger."
The professor shuddered and looked very pale.
"A tiger!" shouted Sir Curry.
"Murder!" screamed Fortyfolios; and if Tourniquet had not laid hold of him he would have tumbled off his seat.
"I'm surprised a man of your sense should show so much fear, don't you see," observed the doctor.
"It is not fear, Doctor Tourniquet," replied the professor, endeavouring to conceal his alarm with all the philosophy he possessed. "I do not care about death, but I have a reasonable objection to being devoured. As for the quality, impression, or emotion, which is usually called fear, in a philosophical sense, I deny that in me it has ever had existence."
"A tiger!" again shouted Sir Curry.
"Murder!" again screamed the professor; and he trembled so violently that he caught hold of the framework of the seat to secure his position on the elephant. The game now became very plentiful; and the hunt was followed from one jungle through open vistas into another. Oriel entered into the pursuit with ardour, but Zabra did not appear to join in it with the least interest. He seemed to entertain the same objection to being devoured as Fortyfolios, or else his anxiety for the safety of his companion destroyed all pleasure in the chase. He became restless and uneasy; but Oriel was so actively engaged in looking for and despatching the game, that he did not notice the disquietude of his friend. They had killed several tigers; and, having pursued a very large one out of the jungle into an open valley, he there made a stand before a large banyan tree. The hunters surrounded him, and he was crouching, lashing himself with his tail, and preparing for a spring, as they approached. As soon as they came within shooting distance, Oriel, Sir Curry, and Dr. Tourniquet, fired; instantly, with a low half-stifled growl, the tiger gave two or three prodigious bounds, and leaped upon the elephant upon which Zabra was sitting; and immediately afterwards both were rolling together among the long grass. The elephant, as soon as she observed Zabra's danger, as if in gratitude for the attentions she had received from him before starting for the hunt, turned round and ran at the tiger as if with the intention of trampling him down. The young merchant, in the anguish of the moment, at seeing his friend in the power of the ferocious beast, had at first lost his presence of mind, but observing that the elephant had succeeded in drawing the attention of the tiger from his victim, he slipped off her back, and, with no other weapon than his hunting sword, advanced to the place where the animal stood. The elephant had made two or three rushes at the tiger, but had not succeeded in getting him under her feet, and he was still crouching beside the prostrate body of Zabra, when he observed the approach of Oriel.
"Let me have a shot at him, Master Porphyry," exclaimed his host.
"You will be killed, don't you see, if you attack him with such a useless weapon?" shouted Tourniquet. Oriel still advanced with his sword firmly grasped, his arm raised, and his gaze fixed upon that of the tiger. The savage beast curved his back and lashed his tail; his fur became erect, and his eyes seemed flashing with an expression of the most terrible ferocity. Oriel Porphyry still moved forward; and as the tiger, with a low sharp growl, made a bound towards him, he leaped on one side, and turning quickly round dealt a blow with all his force, that severed the tendons of the animal's leg, as he reached the ground. The brute howled with pain, and rushed with open mouth upon his antagonist. The wound he had received prevented him from making a spring, but he dashed furiously forward upon three legs, with looks intent upon mischief.
At this instant, the elephant made a rush at the tiger, and tumbled him over to a considerable distance. Oriel again advanced towards him; and lashing himself into a fiercer rage, the wounded beast prepared to dig his claws and teeth into the body of his pursuer; but the young merchant avoided all the desperate attempts the savage creature made to fasten upon him, and inflicted upon his head and legs several severe wounds; then, watching his opportunity, he brought down the sword with all his strength upon his skull, and the tiger fell dead at his feet.
When he turned round to hasten to Zabra's assistance, he found the elephant trying to raise him from the ground with her trunk: and she seemed as much concerned at the accident as any person there, and moved him as gently, and looked in his face as anxiously, as the tenderest nurse could have done.
"Bravely fought, Master Porphyry!" exclaimed Sir Curry. "I never saw finer sport; and you have shown yourself one of the best hunters I ever met with. You shall have the skin, for you've well deserved it."
"Are you much hurt, my dear Zabra?" he anxiously inquired, without attending to his host's commendations, as he bent over the prostrate body of his friend. A low groan was all the reply he received. "Dr. Tourniquet!" shouted Oriel: but the doctor was standing at his side, having hastened to the spot when he saw that his services were likely to be required.
"See what can be done immediately," added the young merchant earnestly. "I'm almost afraid the brute has killed him."
"It's not so bad as that, don't you see, for he breathes," observed the surgeon.
"But his dress is all over blood; therefore he must have received some dangerous wounds," added Oriel. "Here; I'll undo his vest; and then we can see the extent of the injury he has received."
"Oh, no!" said the doctor, unceremoniously pushing him away.
"Doctor Tourniquet, you behave very strangely, I think," said the other, seemingly much offended.
"I beg pardon, Master Porphyry," responded the doctor, apparently with much confusion; "but it would be very dangerous to meddle with the wounds now, don't you see."
"They surely ought to be dressed without loss of time," remarked the young merchant.
"The patient has received a severe shock; and the state of the atmosphere, and--and not having with me things necessary to dress the wound, and--and many other things, make it advisable that the patient should be put to bed before his hurts are examined," said the doctor, attempting to hide his perplexity as well as he could.
"I must say, I think it very strange," observed Oriel, not being able to account for the embarrassment under which the doctor was evidently labouring.
"No harm done, I hope?" inquired Sir Curry, as he approached upon his elephant. "I should be sorry to have another Lord Muligatawny affair."
"There's no knowing what harm has been done; for I really cannot get my surgeon to ascertain," replied the young merchant.
"No! ah! that's strange," responded his host: "I always like to know the worst. It's a great consolation."
"Let us get out of this horrid place, or we shall all be eaten up by wild beasts," exclaimed Fortyfolios, who was sitting, disconsolate and uneasy on the top of his elephant.
"Such a thing might be. I've known several persons whose ardour in pursuit of game has made them food for tigers," remarked Sir Curry. "Poor Lord Muligatawny was only one instance out of many."
"Oh!" groaned the professor.
"See, he revives!" exclaimed the doctor, directing attention to his patient, whose eyes were gently unclosing.
"Zabra! my dear Zabra! are you better?" asked Oriel, as he supported his young friend's head on his shoulder.
Zabra looked about him with a wild stare, till his eyes fell upon the elephant, who had all the time been an attentive spectator of the scene, and then, as if remembering what he had suffered, he gave a slight convulsive shudder, and sunk back into the arms of his patron.
"The tiger is dead, Zabra!" exclaimed Oriel.
"I wish all tigers were dead," muttered Fortyfolios.
"I think we had better place the patient on yonder elephant, and I will accompany him till we return from whence we set out, when he can have his wounds dressed, don't you see," said Dr. Tourniquet, who had recovered from his confusion.
"Yes, send him forward with some of my people," added Sir Curry Rajah; "and you come with me, Master Porphyry, and I'll show you a preserve where the tigers are as thick as monkeys on a cocoanut tree."
"I've had quite enough of tiger hunting, I thank you," replied Oriel Porphyry, very seriously; then directing his attention to his young friend, he exclaimed--"Zabra! are you better now?"
The youth opened his long eye-lashes, and gazed upon his patron, as if recognising his voice, and then in a low whisper said, "Yes, I am better, Oriel."
"Will you let Dr. Tourniquet examine your wounds, Zabra? We want to know how much you are hurt."
"Oh no! oh no!" he replied hastily, "Not now, not now, Oriel. Not now."
"This is very strange," observed the young merchant, unable to find a reason for an objection to a thing that seemed so requisite. "Very strange--but you can let us know what injury you have received."
"My back and arms are lacerated," responded Zabra. "But they do not pain me so much as they did. Dr. Tourniquet shall see to them when I return, and perhaps you can allow him to remain with me in case I should want his assistance before. You can then return with the professor."
Oriel Porphyry appeared surprised, but he gave orders to the attendants, who had been unconcerned spectators of the scene; and, having lifted Zabra upon the elephant, who seemed delighted to regain his burthen, the whole party returned to the country house of Sir Curry Rajah.
ILLUSTRATIONS OF THE DANGER OF GOOD INTENTIONS.
"I tell you what it is, Boggle," said Climberkin to his friend, as they were pacing the quarter-deck together, "You're al'ays getting yourself into scrapes. You've got a notion as you can do things in the most tip top manner, and you make a reg'lar mommock of every thin' you sets about."
"All I knows o' the matter is, that I likes to ha' 'ticular notions o' things in general, as every man as is a man, and thinks like a man, should," replied the other. "But I arn't such a stoop as to allow every body to come his handy dandy sugarcandy over me. I knows a marlin spike from a gun carriage."
"But there was no 'casion for you to 'noy the cap'ain by comin' the high and mighty over his nevey," observed Climberkin.
"Well, I did it for the best," responded his companion. "You see the young chap arn't quite up to his dooty; so I thought, as I was his superior officer, it was the most properest thing in natur for me to tell him what's what. But I recomembered as young people has feelings, and that it would be best to make my 'munication as pleasant as possible; so the next time I comed alongside Mr. Midshipman Loop, I says, quite delicately, says I, you're a lubberly young son of a sea cow, as arn't fit to do nuffin but to count your fingers, or cut your toe-nails. You're al'ays a skylarking arter some precious mischief or another. No matter whether you're aloft among the reefers, or down below, right-fol-de-dolin' at the mess, you're up to no sort o' good whatsomdever. I arn't no patience wi' sich varmint; and if you don't do your dooty in a less 'jectionable sort o' fashion, I'm pretty considerably spiflicated if I don't make sich a report o' your wagabondisings as shall make you catch more toko than you'll be able to digest in a month. Well, instead of the fellow being grateful for the handsome way in which I'd tried not to hurt none o' his feelins, he looks at me w' as much water in his eyes as 'ould do to wash his face in; and in a short time arterwards up comes the cap'ain, and gives me sich a sittin' down as didn't leave me a leg to stand on."
"You'd been too hard upon the young un," observed Climberkin: "there was no necessity for speaking so sharp."
"It's always the way I gets served out whenever I attempts to do a good action," replied Boggle. "Nobody has better intentions nor I have; but, somehow or another, whenever I've 'tempted to do a fellow a good turn, the end on it is the treatment I meets wi' gives me sich a turn as puts me into a perfect 'stonishment."
"You don't go the right way to work, Boggle--that's it, depend on't," replied his companion.
"The right way!" exclaimed Boggle. "Why, I've been this way, and that way, and t'other way--backards and forards--right and left--upside down and round the corners; and I should like to know what other way there is in this here univarsal world? No; the thing is this: there's a plank started some where. Natur don't go right wi' me. I've had a deal o' 'sperience in my time, and every 'dividual thing has been sarved up to me wi' the same sauce."
"I should like to hear the long and the short o' your goin's on," said Climberkin.
"Why, as to that, I've a notion the whole circumbendibus o' my history is as good as a sermon," replied the other.
"Well, let's hear it then, Boggle, if you've no objection," added his companion.
"Then here goes, if you'll sit down on this gun; for, though I've heard o' a standin' joke, I should think a standin' story would be rather a tiresome sort o' thing. It's no matter when or where I was launched," continued Boggle; "and about my parentage, its only necessary to say, I had a father and a mother, like other folks. Well, in due time I was bound a 'prentice to a ship's carpenter. I very early entertained a desire to set people to rights as was goin' wrong. I thought there was nuffin so pleasant as tryin' to do good, and I took hold of every 'portunity to benefit my fellow-creturs. Master was a punch-your-head sort o' character, wi' one eye and a leg-o'-mutton fist; and missus was a spirited little ooman, mighty famous in her way; but if you did get in her way, she pretty soon made you get out of it. Well, when master wasn't a punchin' my head, missus was a boxin' my ears; and when missus wasn't a boxin' my ears, master was a punchin' my head; and when they were tired o' sarvin' me out, they turned to and sarved each other out. I led a lovely life, as you may suppose."
"A dog would ha' been better off, I should think," observed Climberkin.
"I had a heart overflowin' wi' the buttermilk o' human kindness," continued the lieutenant; "and I didn't like sich a state o' things, no how. I entertained a notion that the only way to change this here strife was to endeavour to create feelin's o' love betwixt the parties; but how to get 'em to like each other, instead of to lick each other, was the difficulty. 'If I can make 'em believe each other's affection, I shall make a reg'lar Cupid and physic business of it,' thought I. But how could I make 'em believe? Where was the proof? I had always heard as jealousy was a proof o' love; so I determined to make 'em as jealous as was possible. Well, I took a 'casion to hint to master as missus was unkimmonly amiable to Brisket, the butcher over the way; and, although Brisket, the butcher over the way, warn't no more a object o' love nor a rhinoceros, I could see master's one eye flashin' about like a bundle o' crackers in a kitchen fire; and he told me to watch their canouvres and 'municate to him any thing as was likely to interfere wi' his conjugalities; and, as a more nor ordinary mark o' his 'preciation o' my regard for his matrimonial blessedness, he took me a punch o' the head twice as hard as ever he'd given me afore."
"You had the luck of it!" remarked his companion.
"Then I went to missus, and, in the most delicatest manner as could be, I gave her to suppose that there was a monstrous deal o' improperiety going forard betwixt master and Mrs. Brisket, the butcher's wife over the way; and, although Mrs. Brisket, the butcher's wife over the way, was about as good looking as a toad-fish, missus seemed quite done brown o' both sides; and, tellin' me to gi' her due notice o' their clandasterous proceedin's, she fetched me a box o' the ear, as made the inside o' my head seem turned into curds and whey. Well, I continued this sort o' game till, if jealousy be a proof o' love, they ought to ha' been convinced beyond a doubt, and, as a matter o' course, should have been as lovin' as turtle-doves: but, 'straordinary to relate, he punched her head, and she boxed his ears, more earnestly than ever, all the time throwing out 'sinuations that stirred each other up into the most tarnationest fury. One unfortunit day, when I was workin' away in the shop, and they were workin' away in the same place, they suddenly stopped their hands to make use o' their tongues.
"'I knows your goin's on over the way, you wretch,' squeaked missus.
"'And I knows _your_ goin's on over the way, you trollope,' bawled master.
"'I'll kill that woman,' cried one.
"'And I'll murder Brisket!' said the other.
"'It's false, you villain! I defy you to prove your words. But you know my suspicions are well founded,' exclaimed the wife.
"'It's false, you hussy! and you know it,' shouted the husband.
"'I had the intelligence from the best authority, sir.'
"'I had mine from a source that dared not deceive me, madam.'
"'Who told you?' was simultaneously asked by both; and 'Boggle!' was the reply in almost the same breath. Immediately they turned upon me. I could see master's eye lookin' at me as if he was about to walk down my throat; and missus--but it's only necessary to say that I made a sudden bolt between master's legs, managed to tumble him over her; and while they were sprawlin' together, I was crossin' all manner o' streets, at a pace that sent every body out o' my way. That was the end o' my 'prenticeship; and thus my good intentions were so 'bominably frusterated."
"And what did you do then?" inquired Climberkin.
"I went to live wi' an uncle," replied Boggle. "He kept a knife-and-forkery. Meat of all kinds, ready cooked, was waiting for the hungry at any hour, with vegetables in season and out o' season; soups of all sorts, and some of very strange sorts; with mustard, bread, pepper, and salt. I continued at this business a considerable time, and liked it much better nor the ship carpenterin'; and I gained a good many 'ticular notions o' things in general: indeed, I may say, without any sinnivation against the sort o' meat we sold, as how I became a slap bang judge o' horse-flesh. I still continued 'deavourin' to set things right as was goin' t'other way; but the same sort o' fun al'ays happened as when I 'tempted to make jealousy become a proof o' love: I got no more gratitude nor would serve a flea to lie down upon. Well, it so happened as our customers was frequently in the habit o' complainin' o' dyspepsia. Every body had dyspepsia: long or short, little or big, fat or lean, every mortal cretur talked o' nothin' else but his dyspepsia. Some said it was all acause o' their diet, and they detarmined to make a reg'lar change in their eatables; so havin' been used to nothin' else but mutton and beef, they directly began to eat nothin' else but beef and mutton. And some said it was one thing, and some said it was another; and some said it was just exactly neither. Now, I knowed about as much o' dyspepsia as I did o' the top o' the moon; but I seed as there was a screw loose somewhere, and I was nat'rally anxious to put it in proper order. So I got hold of a book as gived explanations in the most popular incomprehensible manner about diet and regimen, and what you should eat and what you shouldn't eat; and how much you might put in your bread-room, and how much you might let alone; and there I met with the whole complete circumbendibus about dyspepsia."
"And what was it?" inquired his companion.
"Why, I can't exactly say what it was," replied Boggle, "acause the book didn't exactly tell me; but I found out as every fellow as had it should be reg'lar as clock-work in his eatables, and should have no more nor a sartain quantity at no time. So I began 'deavourin' to cure the dyspepsia. I hadn't the power to make 'em reg'late their jaw tackle accordin' to the book; but I took precious good care as every one should have a sartain quantity. Whether a fellow could eat a horse, or hadn't a appetite no more nor a blue bottle, I sarved 'em all wi' a sartain quantity. Acause why? It was good for their dyspepsia. But they kicked up such a bobbery! The big eaters got into a devourin' rage, and they left the shop, swearing I was a tryin' to pick their pockets. Ungrateful wretches! I was only a tryin' to cure their dyspepsia. And the little eaters were so very few in comparison, that, if they had remained satisfied wi' my treatment, their custom would have been of no sort o' significance; but, acause I gived them more nor their money's worth, they quitted the place, saying it was too cheap to be good, and that I was only a wantin' to poisen 'em. Ignorant creturs! I was only a wantin' to cure their dyspepsia! Well, my uncle was in a reg'lar take in at the loss o' his business: it put him into as complete a botheration as ever you seed. He was a man o' very few words, but was unkimmon handy upon occasions; and, seein' or fancyin' summut wasn't correct, he watched my goin's on; and one day he cotched me a sarving out a sartain quantity to a fellow who didn't want quite so much. So he axed me what I was arter; and I up and I told him all about the dyspepsia; and all about my attemptin' to cure it; and all about my sarvin' out a sartain quantity to every body as comed to the shop. Well, afore I'd got to the end o' my story, my uncle, in the most unnat'ral way as could be, took up a stick as was handy, and he sarved _me_ out wi' a sartain quantity, till I was obligated to make all sail out o' the shop."
"Accordin' to my notions, it wasn't a bit more nor you deserved," remarked the unsympathising Climberkin.
"What, not for trying to cure the dyspepsia!" loudly exclaimed the other.
"Not for trying to cure nothin'," was the reply. "But what became o' you arter that?"
"Why, my friends thought my notions o' things in general not likely to come to no good ashore, so they took it into their heads to send me afloat," responded his companion. "My first voyage lasted long enough to give me a tolerable smartish insight into the nautical; but I was continually wantin' to set things right, and my good intentions were as continually a sarving me out wi' a sartain quantity. Now, this might ha' made any fellow but me tired o' tryin' to benefit his fellow-creturs: but I wasn't a chap o' that sort; and I still went on, as sarcumstances required, 'tempting to do lots o' good, and gettin' in return nothin' but lots o' bad. Well, when I came ashore in my native place, I was rather a hold-your-head-up sort o' young chap; and, havin' some money to spend, I swaggered about the streets most consumedly, and fancied as every gal I cotched sight on was thinkin' o' nothin' in natur' but lookin' arter me. So I thought as a matter o' course I'd look arter them. I just did. As I had 'ticular notions o' things in general, as every man as is a man, and thinks like a man, should have, I thought it would be cruel to the rest o' the she creturs if I confined my attentions to one: consequently, I went a courtin' away like a steam-engine to all as I could meet. I had 'em o' all sorts and sizes, colours and complexions--scraggy or squab--longs or shorts--it made not a bit o' difference--as long as they were inclined to be fond o' me, I was inclined to be fond o' them. I had the best intentions--I thought o' nothin' but makin' 'em happy; and the more happiness as I could make, the more good I thought I was a doing. Well, somehow or other, things began to look queer, and every one on 'em was a wantin' me to marry 'em. Now, there was a law again a fellow marryin' more nor one wife; and I knew as if I married one it would be unkimmonly unjust to the rest. This my 'ticular notion o' things in general wouldn't allow. I still entertained the best intentions; so thinkin' as if they knowed the rights o' the case they would see the impossibility o' my agreein' to their wishes, I, unbeknown to the others, invited every one to meet me under a large tree, a little way out o' the town, in the branches o' which I hid myself very snug, to diskiver the upshot. First one came--then came another--and number one looked at number two in all sorts o' ways. Then came a third, and the two looked at number three in all sorts o' ways. Then came a fourth, a fifth, a sixth--ay, I may as well acknowledge at once as how they came to a matter o' twenty; and they all looked at one another in all sorts o' ways. At last, one on 'em, as I knowed to be a bit o' a spit-fire, spoke up.
"'Ladies,' says she, 'may I ask what brought you all here?'
"'I came to meet Boggle,' said one.
"'I came to meet Boggle,' said another.
"'I came to meet Boggle,' said all.
"'You came to meet Boggle, you hussy!' exclaimed every one in the whole lot; and, in less than a jiffy, caps flew about, dresses were torn, and there was the most considerable shindy that ever was known in this here univarsal world. Now, I had the best intentions. I only thought o' creatin' as much happiness as I could. I never had no suspicion as my notions o' things in general could ha' led to such a revolution. And when I seed 'em all one a top o' t' other, a pummelling, a scratching, and screeching like so many wild cats, I was taken quite comical; and, missing my hold upon the bough, I tumbled right down into the very midst on 'em. Directly as they caught eyes o' me they left off fighting. 'I shall settle the matter comfortably at last,' thought I. Miserable Boggle that I was! how I did deceive myself! In the next moment they all flew at me like a lot o' tigers, and they scratched me up, and they scratched me down, and they scratched me sideways--they pulled every hair out o' my head, and they tore my clothes into bits not big enough to cover a pincushion; and they didn't leave my unfortunate body till they thought they had killed me out and out."
"I should think that ought to have sickened you o' goin' a courtin'," remarked Climberkin, unable to restrain his mirth.
"Sickened!" exclaimed the other; "the very sight o' a she cretur makes me as good as done for. Why, I was obliged to be laid up in lavender for a month. I became as tender as a chicken, and every bone I possessed seemed to have been smashed into porridge. And this was all in return for my 'deavourin' to make 'em happy! If this arn't a most ungrateful world I'm a nigger!"
"And what followed this adventure?" inquired his companion.
"Oh, don't ask me!" replied Boggle, very gravely: "I haven't the heart to go on. But it was all the same. Still from time to time I thought o' setting things to rights; and on every 'portunity I was rewarded for my good intentions wi' exactly a similar sort o' treatment."
"Here comes the governor!" said the other, as he noticed Oriel and his party approaching; and the two young men hastily left their seats on the gun-carriage to attend to their duty in the ship.
"What coast is this, captain," asked the young merchant, pointing to the shore that lay at the distance of a few miles.
"That is the coast of Arabia," replied Hearty.
"A part of the world rendered particularly interesting to the philosopher by the many important incidents which, from the early history of the world, have there occurred," added the professor. "Here the chariots of Pharaoh, pursuing the fugitive Jews, were ingulfed in the waters of the Red Sea; and yonder is the land where, after their escape, the children of Israel wandered during their weary pilgrimage."
"Yes, the religion of Moses may be said to have had its origin here; and here, also, the religion of Mahomet was created, don't you see," remarked the doctor. "This is the land of Mecca and Medina: this is the land which, during the darkness of the middle ages, evinced the first dawn of civilisation that gave light to the world--the land of Arabian literature--of Arabian chivalry--of Arabian science and art. I cannot say that I honour the character of their prophet; and I detest the way in which his religion was promulgated as I detest every religion or every form of faith that may be called a religion, which has had its foundation upon bloodshed, rapine, and persecution. But, looking to the effects produced by the diffusion of the absurdities of the Koran wherever the arms of the Mahometans could penetrate, I must say that it has created more good than many religions which have since obtained more consideration."
"What! shall the Barbarians who destroyed the Alexandrian library be held up to admiration?" exclaimed Fortyfolios, indignantly. "Shall they who desolated wherever they went, among those who would not acknowledge their pretended prophet, be considered benefactors to their species? I cannot think you are in earnest, Doctor Tourniquet."
"But I am in earnest, don't you see," replied the doctor. "I would take and compare the state of Mahometanism in Arabia, with the state of Christianity at the same time in any part of the world--suppose we say from the commencement of the seventh century, during the rule of the Abbaside caliphs, till as late as the reign of the Ommeyide caliphs in Spain?"
"But we must look to the opposite shore for the land from which all intelligence proceeded," observed the professor. "Egypt was the cradle of the arts and sciences; and her advances in knowledge preceded those of Arabia by many centuries."
"And, doubtless, the advances made in India and China preceded those of Egypt by about the same time, don't you see," added the doctor. "If we would seek the origin of philosophy, we must, of course, find it among the first people; and there is every reason to suppose that the earliest inhabitants of this globe were located in India."
"That is doubtful," replied Fortyfolios. "But the Egyptians are at least entitled to the credit of having, at an early period, carried the mechanical arts to purposes the magnitude of which have never been exceeded; and the degree of excellence they attained in philosophy and learning is sufficient to make us regard them with a profound veneration."
"We can only judge of the tree by the fruit, don't you see," responded Tourniquet. "All I know is, that the Egyptians distinguished themselves by erecting the most magnificent fooleries that had ever been conceived. Of what use were their pyramids--their colossal statues and stupendous monuments--their gigantic idols--their vast temples, and elaborate sculptures? Superior knowledge did exist certainly, for they were the teachers of the Jews and of the Greeks; and, although the latter surpassed their instructors, they have still a claim upon our admiration. But the priests were the depositors of this knowledge, and they wrapped it up in mystery so cleverly, that it was of no use to the people, among whom it ought to have been distributed, and was of just the same advantage to posterity when both priests and people were crumbling into dust."
"Are we not approaching the grand water communication that carries the Red Sea into the Mediterranean?" inquired Oriel Porphyry.
"Ah! there's some sense in that!" exclaimed the doctor. "It beats the wonders of Thebes to nothing; and yet there could not have been more labour employed upon it than must have been used to erect that vast city."
"Under what circumstances did it originate?" asked the young merchant.
"After the Russians had made themselves masters of Constantinople," said Fortyfolios, "the Turkish empire gradually dwindled into insignificance; but the territory of their conquerors had become so immense, that it was impossible, even at the expense of a military power scarcely ever equalled, to keep it together. Symptoms of dissolution began to show themselves. The native Russians, who had gradually risen from a state of abject servitude to one in which a strong love of liberty became its greatest characteristic, grew restless and dissatisfied with their government, and were continually endeavouring to force it to become more liberal. The frequent disturbances which arose in consequence kept the country very unsettled; and there was a powerful party in the state, that, being opposed to the policy of those in authority, aided in creating the public disaffection. At this time, when the government was fully employed by its own internal disorganisation, several of the conquered provinces threw off their allegiance. Of these, the most successful were Poland and Greece. There arose amongst the Greeks a man of extraordinary valour, wisdom, and soldiership, who, from the petty leader of an insurrection, had become the chief of the national armies; and, having succeeded in driving the Russians from his country, was unanimously elected its king. But the independence of Greece did not satisfy the ambition of this conqueror. He knew that the military ardour of his countrymen required to be constantly exercised; and, leaving his kingdom to the wisdom of his counsellors, he led a mighty armament into the enemy's possessions in Turkey. Battle after battle was here fought with the same result. The heroic Greeks drove all before them; besieged and took Constantinople, in which they planted a colony; conquered their way through Asia Minor, and, entering the subjected province of Persia, excited the inhabitants to revolt: nor did they desist from their triumphant career till they had become masters of the walls of Petersburgh. At the same time the Poles, having taken up arms, they not only succeeded in relieving their country from the iron bondage in which it had so long been enslaved, but, in concert with the Greeks, invaded the lands of their conquerors, and in many a sanguinary battle revenged the wrongs they had endured."
"Did the Greek conqueror stop when he had subdued the Russians?" inquired Oriel Porphyry, who seemed to listen with intense interest.
"No conqueror will halt in his career while he imagines there is any thing to subdue," replied Fortyfolios. "The devotion with which the Greeks regarded their chief gave him absolute power over the lives and liberties of his subjects, and they wanted no inducement to follow him in the pursuit of glory. Wherever he led they crowded to his standard. He had but to declare his wish and armies were at his command. At this period Egypt was a fertile and flourishing kingdom. The English and French had vainly endeavoured to subdue it. They had made conquests and formed settlements: but when these two great empires decayed, the conquests were given up, and the settlements abandoned. Since then, under its own rulers, the people had advanced in prosperity, and had become powerful among the surrounding nations. This country the Greeks invaded. They met with desperate resistance; but after a frightful destruction of human life, and making the prosperous kingdom a wilderness, they succeeded in bringing the Egyptians into subjection, and planted a colony near the mouths of the Nile. This new colony throve rapidly; as after the death of the conqueror a long interval of peace ensued, and the population increasing rapidly, thousands emigrated to the shores of Egypt and of Turkey. In little more than a century the colonies threw off the supremacy of the mother-country, and although many attempts were made to force them to acknowledge their dependency, they did not succeed, and now they have become free states, scarcely inferior in importance to the great empires of Columbia and Australia; while of the great European nations that flourished a thousand years ago, Spain, Italy, and Portugal, are in a semi-barbarous condition; France, after having tried a hundred different forms of government, is split into a dozen little republics, each trying to destroy the other, and all acknowledging the supremacy of the German empire, the most powerful of the European states, having a territory stretching from the Rhine to the Vistula and from the English channel to the Adriatic sea. The state of England you will be better able to comprehend during the visit you are about to make to its shores than any description I can give you: but I must return to the Greek colony in Egypt. Its population increased rapidly, and the intelligence of the people seemed to increase with their numbers. They built many new cities, but by far the largest and most magnificent of them is the city of Athenia, which was erected on the borders of the lake Menzaleb. The colonists having turned their attention to commerce, for many years had considered the advantages that would accrue to their city if they could open a communication with the Mediterranean on one side, and with the Gulf of Suez on the other. This idea, if it were practicable, they saw would give them facilities of traffic which no country could surpass; and all their thoughts were anxiously turned towards the realisation of this splendid scheme. But the project was so gigantic that the most skilful engineers pronounced it impracticable. At last, one more bold than the rest published a plan by which he said it might be accomplished, with an enormous capital, a considerable interval of time, and the application of immense labour. The plan was considered, and, after much discussion, approved of. Funds were collected, a multitude of labourers were employed, and the work commenced by cutting a broad channel through the Isthmus of Suez, and from the Lake to the Mediterranean. In twenty years from its commencement the waters mingled together, and in fifty years Athenia was one of the busiest sea-ports, and one of the most magnificent cities in the world."
"And its inhabitants are the wisest and the happiest people on the globe, don't you see," added the doctor. "They allow no superstitious follies to cramp the energies of their minds. They act and think as become men and not slaves. Their laws are simple, few, and admirably adapted to their wants. Their sociality is perfect, their morality unrivalled, their intelligence exceeds that of any other people beneath the sun. As for their form of faith, nothing can equal its philosophy, for they maintain that philanthropy is the only religion, and that the true worship of God is doing good to man."
"Those are the principles my father entertains," observed the young merchant.
"They may truly be called a nation of philanthropists," continued the surgeon. "There is philanthropy in their laws--there is philanthropy in their government--there is philanthropy in their dealings one with another. From the cradle to the grave the object of all is to teach good or to practise it; and such things as hate, deceit, envy, avarice, and all the black catalogue of vices that stain other nations are to them unknown."
"They are a people worthy of being studied," said Oriel.
"Studied! they ought to be got by heart, by every nation on the face of the globe, don't you see," replied Dr. Tourniquet. "There is nothing in nature so refreshing to the sight. It makes one in love with humanity. It dissolves all the freezing selfishness that the prejudices of education have created upon our feelings, and allows us to enjoy the sunshine and the gladness of a free and unalterable sympathy for all our race. It is under such circumstances, and under such only, that man becomes what he was created to be--a creature eminently happy, enjoying moderately all his inclinations, pleased with the pleasures of others, and liberally sharing his own: knowing neither fear, nor crime, nor want, nor folly; suffering from few diseases, and those only the most ordinary afflictions of existence; entertaining no idea of emulation but that of endeavouring to exceed one another in doing good; having no interest in any property apart from the interest of the community; possessing no attachment to any object or place which is not shared by those around him--and while looking neither to the past nor to the future with either hope or fear, endeavouring to make the present as beneficial to himself and others, as with a kind, a just, and a reasonable way of life the present can be made. And this is what I call a perfect state of society, don't you see."
A party, consisting of the two philosophers, Oriel Porphyry, Zabra, and a stranger, were proceeding in an elegant open carriage through the crowded streets of Athenia. The stranger was a man of about fifty, of noble mien, and lofty stature. There was a classic purity in the outline of his face, that became more pleasing to the gazer from its being accompanied by features of the most benevolent expression. A mild and graceful spirit seemed shining in every look; and none could behold his clear expansive forehead without feeling a conviction that he stood in the presence of an intelligence of the highest order. A white turban was carefully folded over his brows, covering the lower portion of a small velvet cap that fitted close to the head. The upper part of his body was robed in several vests, or short jackets, made of different stuffs, in elegant patterns, each being of a different fabric and colour; and beneath these an under garment, of remarkably fine linen, might be observed. The waist was bound round with a rich silken sash, the ends of which hung down on the left side; and below it, in very full folds, descended to the knees a garment of a thick fabric, of a white colour till near the skirt, where there appeared three narrow bands of light blue: leggings of thin silk descended to the feet, which were cased in shoes of fine leather; and an ample robe of embroidered purple cloth hung loose from the shoulders.
"This is a magnificent street," remarked the young merchant, noticing a line of palaces that stretched for a considerable distance on each side of him.
"What noble porticoes--what lofty domes--what a beauty and harmony there is in the arrangement of every building!" exclaimed Zabra. "Surely they are inhabited by a race of princes."
"Of what are usually called princes, we know nothing," said the stranger mildly. "This is the street of our great men. Here dwell our most illustrious poets, philosophers, artists, and men of science."
"Can it be possible?" asked Fortyfolios. "How do they manage to acquire such splendid dwellings?"
"When a citizen has shown by his works," resumed the stranger, "that he possesses those intellectual powers that most ennoble human nature, the public, out of gratitude for the gratifications they receive from his superior intelligence, place him in a situation where he can be most honoured, and where his own pleasures may correspond in degree with the pleasures he is creating."
"Nothing can be more wise, don't you see," said the doctor; "and it has been a disgrace to all civilised nations that their men of intellect, the only nobles that any society can possess, have been so little cared for, that few have ever enjoyed an adequate return for the labour and the wealth they were bestowing upon their country. Rarely have they been held in the estimation which their superiority in the only true greatness which can distinguish humanity ought to command; and a vast number have been left to battle with a selfish world, till, having endured every species of suffering that can most afflict their sensitive natures, steeped to the lips in poverty, weary and heartbroken, they lie down in some obscure corner and die."
"We could not practise such injustice," observed the stranger; "and I am surprised that any people should exist who know so little of their true interests as to act in so unwise a manner. It is our object to enlighten the community as much as may be possible; and knowing that the increase of intelligence, when properly directed, is productive of a similar increase of happiness, we naturally endeavour to testify to those who are labouring to produce our felicity the interest we take in the creation of theirs: we therefore consider them as benefactors, clothe them with dignity, surround them with honour, allow them to have no want ungratified, and convey within their reach every enjoyment that can make their lives glide on without a care, a regret, or a disappointment. The consequence has been, that the gifted, observing the estimation in which excellence is held, strive with all their energies to become worthy of the same distinction. From this cause our buildings have become the finest in the world--our works of art have become the finest in the world--the most wonderful discoveries exceed each other in every branch of science--and in every department of philosophy some new and amazing effort of genius is continually making itself manifest."
"What a desirable state of things!" exclaimed Oriel.
"But how do the people profit by their generosity?" inquired the professor.
"Rather say by their gratitude," observed the stranger. "Knowledge is imparted freely. There are free lectures, in which our great men make public all the information that may most enlighten a community; books are published on every subject, and distributed freely to those who require them; and their authors, having no inclination ungratified, and finding their greatest pleasure in diffusing the intelligence they possess, employ their powers with nobler feelings than in other nation the desire of money as an object of reward, or a means of existence, can under any circumstances create; and the people, enjoying the wholesome pleasures thus liberally conveyed to them, have neither inclination nor time to contract vicious propensities, and follow the daily business of life with pure hearts, and minds open to every ennobling impression."
"They must enjoy an extraordinary amount of happiness," observed Zabra.
"With what is usually called misery they are entirely ignorant," replied the stranger; "for as all their time is employed in the right application of the means of enjoyment, they create no wrong; consequently they cannot produce anything but happiness."
"Worthy Sophos!" exclaimed Fortyfolios. "In the streets through which we have passed, although I have noticed every sort of warehouse and shop for the purposes of trade, I have not seen any place for the sale of intoxicating liquors; and among all the public buildings I have beheld, I have not met with any thing which, from its appearance, I could consider a prison."
"Intoxicating liquors we neither buy nor sell," replied Sophos. "The pure beverage which nature has provided so liberally for our enjoyment, confers upon us both health and pleasure; and although the indulgence of every natural inclination is allowed, any intemperance in the enjoyment of an appetite is punished with immediate and general disgrace; the sensualist, the glutton, or the drunkard is avoided as unworthy to associate with his fellow men, and the instances of such offences being committed are so rare, that they are now looked upon as altogether unnatural. As for prisons we do not want them; we have no use for them. Such offences as crimes against life, or crimes against property; crimes against the individual, or crimes against the state, are so few that if we were to build a prison, we should find some difficulty in getting in it a single inhabitant. We have long known that prisons do not prevent crime. We are aware that wherever there have been the most prisons, there have been the greatest number of criminals; and beholding in the experience of ages the inutility of punishment as a preventive to criminality, we came to the conclusion, that the only sure way of preventing a man becoming a criminal, is to remove from his path all temptations to crime. Every citizen having the free enjoyment of every inclination, cannot possibly have a want that interferes with the interests of the community; and we are exceedingly careful throughout the educational course of life to prevent the existence of any inclination that may be hurtful either to the individual or to the society to which he belongs."
"Is this one of your religious edifices?" inquired Oriel, pointing to a large building supported by elegant pillars, and having the appearance of the highest degree of architectural excellence.
"It is, and it is not," replied Sophos, with a smile. "It is a religious edifice, inasmuch as it is well calculated to assist in establishing religious impressions, and it is used for the purpose of conveying moral instruction to the hearts of those who enter its walls: and it is not a religious edifice, because it is connected with no mystery, and is no place for monks and priests, grovelling superstitions, and unmeaning ceremonies. But you shall examine the interior." With these words he ordered the carriage to be driven up to the gates, and the party alighting, entered the edifice.
Having passed through lofty folding doors, they were ushered along a vaulted hall of immense extent and admirable proportions. It was lighted from the top by windows that spread around the whole circumference of the dome in a series of circles, between which the roof was supported by gigantic figures of white marble. The walls were painted in fresco, with a variety of subjects executed in the first style of art, and the object of every painting appeared to be to elevate the human mind into a love of practical benevolence. Nothing barbarous, nothing cruel, nothing unjust, nothing coarse, nothing that could create an unpleasant feeling, had here been introduced; but all that was affectionate and true, and pure and excellent, had been seized by the plastic genius of the artist, and fixed in undying colours upon the wall.
In the different divisions that separated these pictures appeared short moral maxims and philosophical sentences. Every religion seemed to have furnished some portion of the instruction here conveyed. Near the truths of Christianity might be observed the wisdom of Islamism; the Proverbs of Solomon had a place by the side of the maxims of Zoroaster, and the wisdom of Confucius was inscribed opposite the philosophy of Socrates. Wherever the eye turned it caught something worthy of contemplation, and whatever the mind contemplated it found impressive, unanswerable, and impossible to be forgotten.
"What place do you call this?" inquired Oriel of his conductor.
"It is called the Hall of Wisdom and of Humanity," replied the stranger. "And here, if the soul is fretted by pain or sorrow, or the heart yearns for some refreshing influence, comes the citizen from the busy toils of life, and gazing on these tokens of a benevolent power, and studying these signs of a comprehensive intelligence, he finds that both his heart and mind are strengthened--a love of excellence pervades all his nature, and he passes back to the world with a cheerful spirit, giving and partaking gladness."
"What are the principles of your religion?" asked Fortyfolios.
"The principles of our religion are the best principles of every religion that has existed from the creation of the world," responded Sophos. "We found every variety of faith could produce something profitable. The worst religion has brought forth good men, good women, and good citizens, and surrounded by the most degrading superstitions, we invariably found some truth worthy of general appreciation. We also found that the most enlightened religions produced bad men, bad women, and bad citizens, and discovered amid the most wholesome truths they endeavoured to inculcate, some pernicious superstition that destroyed the efficacy of their doctrines. This led to a consideration of their separate natures, and upon careful examination we discovered that from the earliest ages, all people had been doing the same thing under different names. They had personified two opposing principles--the principle of good and the principle of evil, which they had worshipped. In many religious systems the machinery was more complicated than in others, but all were easily traced to the same source."
"Impossible!" exclaimed the professor.
"The names of God and Devil," continued Sophos, "are so obviously modified from good and evil, and the attributes of each power are so completely the attributes of each principle, that nothing more need be said of their connection. They are the same things: as principles they are the light and shadow of the moral world; as deities, the Alpha and Omega of Christianity and Judaism. Vishnu the Preserver, and Siva the Destroyer, the most important members of the Hindoo Pantheon--the Ahrimanes and Ormuzd of Zoroaster, and the Fire Worshippers of Persia--the Osiris and Typhon of the Egyptians--the Jupiter and Pluto of the Greeks--and the great idols of every form of worship that had at any time of the world existed, are but personifications of the opposing principles good and evil."
"Not a doubt of it, don't you see," remarked Doctor Tourniquet.
"I do not believe anything of the kind," observed Fortyfolios: "it's heathenish, abominable, and atheistical."
"Having made this analysis," continued the stranger, without attending to the interruptions he had received, "we came to the determination of making these principles our form of faith; that is to say, we made our doctrines those of benevolence. Good was our God--Philanthropy was our religion; and doing good became the way in which we endeavoured to worship the Deity. The good principle is around us at all times while we live, and creates our felicity, and produces the pleasures of those around us; and death is the evil principle, which puts an end to the happiness we were enjoying and creating."
"What is your form of government?" inquired Oriel.
"Our supreme head is called the Optimus, or the Best," replied Sophos. "He is addressed by the title of our Benefactor the Optimus, and is elevated to that dignity in consequence of his having distinguished himself above his fellow-citizens by the superior excellence of his wisdom and greatness of his philanthropy. He is assisted in the duties of the government by an assembly of two hundred of the most experienced, the wisest, and the best of his fellow-countrymen, who are called Fathers; and from this assembly the people always choose their Optimus, who reigns as long as his faculties permit him to exercise his judgment for the benefit of the people, and his reign is called his Optimate. Inferior in dignity to the assembly of Fathers, is a parliament of five hundred, who are distinguished by the name of Brothers; and they represent the interests of certain communities or disciples into which our great family is divided. It must not be imagined from these divisions and distinctions that there are any exclusive advantages or separate interests amongst us. Any individual may obtain the highest offices of the legislature by passing through the parliament of Brothers and the assembly of Fathers, for which he must show himself well qualified by knowledge, virtue, and benevolence. He gains neither advantage nor profit--nothing but the esteem of his fellow-citizens; and the people are classed into distinct communities of disciples, merely that the interests of the whole shall receive a proper degree of attention from the legislative."
"And do you find such a form of government answer the purpose for which it was designed?" inquired Oriel.
"All," replied Sophos. "The laws are simple and few, and admirably adapted to satisfy the wants of the people. We have no monopolies to protect; we have no exclusive privileges to confer. There is no legislative enactment passed which does not take into consideration the happiness of each and all."
"It is wonderful to observe with how few laws a nation may be governed," said the doctor; "and it is equally surprising to notice with how many laws a nation may be misgoverned, don't you see."
"Now let us enter the Hall of Public Benefactors," said the stranger; and passing through a succession of elegant arches, he led the way to another magnificent hall, similar in grandeur and beauty to the one they had recently left. Statues, rather larger than life, were placed in separate niches round the wall; and these statues represented individuals who had rendered themselves illustrious by their virtues or intelligence. In one place stood the figure of the immortal Howard; in another that of the admirable Pestalozzi. Opposite these philanthropists were the patriots Alfred, Leonidas, Sobieski, William Tell, and Hofer. Here stood the impetuous Körner, and there the amiable Shelley. Jeremy Bentham, Oberlin, Owen of Lanark, Sir Samuel Romilly, and Wilberforce had places near Harvey, the discoverer of the circulation, Galileo, Fenelon, Plato, Socrates, Newton, Bacon, and La Place; and Tasso, and Petrarch, and Göthe, and Walter Scott, and Coleridge, and Wordsworth, were seen by the side of Shakspeare, and Milton, and Cicero, and Demosthenes, and Aristotle, and Plutarch. The most commanding intellects, the noblest natures, the wisest, the best, and kindest of human beings were here all represented in the plastic marble, and raised high above the heads of those who were gazing upon them, as if to show how elevated were such spirits above the common mass of mankind.
"Look! look!" exclaimed Zabra to his patron, with his eyes shining with pleasure, pointing to a statue that was placed in one of the most conspicuous situations in the chamber. Oriel looked in the required direction, and, with a delight that kept him dumb, recognised the statue of his father.
"Yes, the statue of your father has been considered worthy of a place in the Hall of Public Benefactors," observed Sophos; "and even here, in that nobleness of heart which all good men should honour, he will scarcely meet with a superior. Master Porphyry has deserved well of the world, and the world should honour him above the ambitious crowd who strive for their notice. He has made of his great wealth a great blessing. He has been a doer of good from his youth upward; and the love which he has evinced for his fellow-creatures has been universal in its object. Had he been born amongst us, or were his virtues transplanted into our society, I have no doubt that upon the first occasion he would be promoted to the rank of Optimus; but whether in Athenia or in Columbus, or in whatever part of the world he may chance to be, there he will be The Best, and there he will have sovereignty over all good men."
Oriel Porphyry listened with feelings of the most exquisite pleasure to this eulogium, and he gazed, with a happiness in his eyes it was long since he had experienced, upon the marble figure which had been sculptured into a resemblance of his parent; but the delight of Zabra seemed still more intense, and he turned from the statue to his friend, and from his friend to the statue, as if he never could be tired of gazing upon their noble countenances.
"It is here our great and good men come and meditate," continued the stranger; "and, gazing upon the greatness and goodness they see around them, standing in their places of honour, an impulse of emulation fills their souls, their hearts are brimming over with generous sympathies, and they return to the senate or the public hall with eloquence that carries conviction to the hearer, and a purpose that can only be satisfied by the production of some general and lasting benefit."
The party proceeded into other halls, some for public instruction, others for social intercourse, and others for the deliberations of the legislature, and in all they observed the same happy adaptation of the means to the end, the same beautiful appearances, the same spirit of benevolence, and the same admirable harmony in the disposition of the different parts of the chamber, as they had noticed in the chambers through which they had passed. After which they resumed their ride.
"There is nothing I have seen in my travels that has afforded me so much pleasure as what I have observed during the brief stay I have made in this city;" observed the young merchant.
"And as yet you have seen scarcely any thing of us, of our manners, or of our institutions;" replied Sophos. "Let me now take you to a musical entertainment given in the open air by an orchestra of at least a thousand performers, and it will give you an opportunity of not only hearing the best music performed in the most expressive manner, but of mingling with the people of Athenia in their hours of relaxation and amusement."
Permission having been readily granted, the carriage was driven off to an open park, beautifully planted with noble trees and flowering plants, (amongst which carriage ways and footpaths wound in graceful sweeps), and possessing every variety of hill and dale, lake and rivulet to increase its attractions.
"This is one of the public parks that have been planted to secure the health and improve the pleasures of the citizens;" said the stranger. "Here you see are thronging the young and the old, the philosopher and the student, the statesman and the mechanic, all with happy faces, and each intent that his neighbour shall share in his happiness."
"And who are yonder group of beautiful girls that seem so much delighted with one another. It is strange that they should appear in a public place without some male friends or relations;" observed Oriel.
"Not at all;" replied Sophos. "Who can look upon them without respect? They want no protectors, for there is here no one who would even think them harm. They are probably proceeding to the concert for the purpose of joining in the choruses, and are the daughters of the noblest of our citizens. We have made music a part of our system of education, and not unwisely; for there is no source of gratification so capable of refining and intellectualising the feelings. Each individual possesses the power of distributing pleasure to the rest, and here, when they can escape from the necessary labours of life, come all,--from the humblest to the highest, from the most ignorant to the most enlightened, and tuning their instruments and their voices into one grand harmonious concert, they create such a powerful and delicious music as I should imagine it would be impossible to excel."
The party had now arrived at the top of a hill, from which they had a splendid view of the scene before them. Down to the very base of the hill on which they stood, at least twenty thousand citizens, men, women, and children, clad in a costume, varying in some degree from that worn by Sophos, were reclining on the grass. Opposite to them was a hill of smaller dimensions, upon which an immense orchestra was being arranged. At the top, on each side, were a pair of gigantic drums, between which were several smaller ones. Below these were the brass instruments, then the flutes, bassoons, oboes and clarionets: the double basses and violincellos flanked the violins, and outside the stringed instruments, the choruses were stationed; a place was left at bottom for the principal singers, in the centre of which stood the conductor, ready to give the time of the performance.
The spectators had hitherto carried on a conversation each in his own circle; but immediately the conductor's bâton was seen in motion, every one was in an attitude of attention, and then among the whole mass of listeners not a sound arose. The first piece performed was for instruments only. It commenced with a movement remarkable for the solemnity of its character and the richness of its harmonies, which changed into a sweet and graceful subject in quicker time, wherein several beautiful phrases were worked up by the musician in a variety of pleasing shapes. The piece ended with a more lively movement, introducing a magnificent fugue, in which the different instruments followed each other with an effect astonishing for its grandeur and beauty. To say it was well played, would convey only a feeble conception of the excellence of the performance: it was played with that perfect precision, and exquisite attention to the expression required in the composition, which can only characterise the very best performances. As soon as it was over there arose from the delighted multitude who thronged the hill a loud and continued burst of applause, mingled with exclamations expressive of the approbation of the listeners, and every one seemed to turn to his neighbour to observe if he was as well gratified as himself.
A song, or rather descriptive scene for a bass voice, with orchestral accompaniments, followed, in which the poet and musician sought to describe the temptations to evil, its committal, and its evil consequences; and the piece ended with a most harrowing picture of madness and death. After this there was a dramatic duet between a treble and tenor, delineating the first appearance and confession of a mutual affection. This was succeeded by a vocal air for a female voice, marked by a simple and exquisite pathos that seemed to touch every heart; and its subject was the despair of the heart, when, having for a long time believed itself beloved, it awakes to the full conviction that it is deceived. A grand chorus in praise of nature followed; and the effect of so many hundred voices swelling out the harmonies, was grand in the extreme; and the act concluded by a descriptive symphony for the orchestra, full of sweet pastoral effect, and admirable instrumentation.
Each composition was performed in a manner as nearly approaching perfection as was attainable, and this the audience seemed to acknowledge by the liberality of their plaudits. Upon Zabra the effect seemed to be extraordinary. He drank in every sound as if his life depended upon its enjoyment, and he listened with a sense of pleasure beaming in his features that nothing but the most intense gratification could have created. The rest of the performance was of a similar degree of merit, and the party left the hill impressed with the conviction that they had seen and enjoyed more rational pleasure than they had ever known at any public place of amusement.
"I would not have missed the exquisite delight I have received, on any consideration;" remarked Zabra. "Enraptured as I am with music, I have known nothing in my experience that bears a comparison with the enjoyments of this day. And what could create more pleasure? It would be sufficient, one would suppose, to be made familiar with the skill of ordinary musicians; but you could take no interest in their performances, they are drilled to do them, and they can do nothing else: but here is a multitudinous family of musicians, hastening from the loom, the study, the workshop, the laboratory and the warehouse, who each has a distinct business to which he must devote his attention, to join, from a desire to please his fellow-citizens, in the execution of the most difficult and beautiful productions of the musical art; and every one takes his part, caring not, however unimportant it may be, so that he is allowed to share in producing the general happiness. Of all the arts of civilised life there can be none so humanising in its tendency, so refreshing in its influence; so pure, exalting, and subduing in its effects as music. The man who is insensible to its charms is afflicted with a most pitiable blindness. There can be no harmony in his nature. His feelings must be in an unchangeable state of discord. But point out any human creature sensitive to all musical impressions, and I would affirm that you might mould him into any good purpose. Music, as a means of educating the feelings, can never be excelled. The experience of a hundred ages has proved its power as an instrument for creating or subduing the passions; and yet never till now have I seen any attempt made to try its beneficial effects on a large scale, and by making good musicians, to endeavour to create good men."
There was no time for a reply to be made to these observations, as the carriage stopped at the door of a handsome mansion, and the party prepared to alight.
"I must introduce you into our social circle," said Sophos, as he led the way into his dwelling; "and I hope you will be able to find in it the same happiness that I have so long enjoyed."
They followed him through several apartments furnished with superior taste, till they entered a room of more moderate proportions ornamented with a variety of elegant decorations, in which two females were reclining on an ottoman, with a handsome youth standing before them reading from an open book. The females were the wife and daughter of their host; and both possessed countenances of exceeding beauty: the maternal dignity of the one contrasting admirably with the affectionate playfulness of the other; and the youth was the betrothed of the daughter. As soon as Sophos entered they hastened to meet him, and welcomed him with their endearments. These being over he introduced his guests to their notice, who received from them such marks of kindness and attention as made them instantly at ease. After an interesting conversation, describing what had been witnessed during their morning's ride, the party were summoned to the dining-room, where they partook of wholesome food of exquisite flavour, served up without ostentation or extravagance, and partaken of without epicureanism or gluttony.
"Zoe," said Sophos to his daughter, "has nothing transpired since my absence that is worthy of recital?"
"I have something to communicate to you, my father," replied the beautiful girl, as she pushed back from her eyes the dark ringlets that seemed to have fallen from the little velvet cap embroidered with gold which was worn tight upon the upper part of her head; "but I know not whether it would interest your guests."
"I will excuse you, Zoe, if it should not," observed the father.
"I had gone to perform my customary duties, as nurse, at the Hospital of Invalids," said Zoe, "when my attentions were required by a youth who was in a state of intense delirium. He raved, he shouted and wept; he entreated with all the eloquence of frantic excitement; and then upbraided with the unsocial energy of despair: but most conspicuous in all his ravings was the name of Lusa, which appeared to belong to some maiden by whom he was enamoured, who did not return his attachment. In his delirium he mistook me for the object of his passion, and by turns praised me as the kindest of all created beings, and upbraided me as the most cruel of my sex. To such an extent did these paroxysms arrive, that, unless some plan was put into operation which would lessen the excitement under which he laboured, there appeared no hopes of saving his life. I knew nothing of him or of his history; and I knew as little of Lusa and of the cause which prevented their mutual happiness; but there was no doubt that the indifference of the maiden had created the malady which threatened the youth's life; and I felt convinced, that if I could make him imagine that a mutual sympathy existed, a healthy action would ensue, and a recovery follow. Being addressed as Lusa, I thought it would be advisable, under the character thus imposed upon me, to give the sufferer hopes of a more blissful termination to his affections; and, therefore, I cautiously and kindly made him imagine that the heart he thought so unrelenting had been subdued by a wish to alleviate his sufferings. You will pardon me this deception, dear father, as it was done to save a life which might be made valuable to the community."
"There was nothing wrong in it, Zoe; and these are deceptions that not only become necessary, but are not to be avoided without inhumanity," said the father.
"The youth listened to me as if there was the power of life and death upon my lips," continued Zoe; "every word seemed to sink into his heart: his frenzy became subdued; the feverish fire fled from his eyes--he grew calm, and blessed me with a fervour impossible to be described. After this he fell into a profound sleep. Then I found myself placed in a difficult and distressing position. I knew, that when he woke, he would discover the deception that had been practised upon him, and I feared that the result would be a relapse, from which there could be no recovery. While I was vainly endeavouring to conceive some plan by which I might escape from the embarrassing situation in which I was placed, a young and handsome female entered that portion of the hospital in which my duties were performed. She approached me, and inquired after the health of the patient committed to my charge. She did not tell me who she was, and I imagined her to be a relative. I therefore acquainted her with the exact state of the case; and related the way in which I had discovered the origin of his malady. I described to her the distressing situation in which I had placed myself by the deception I had practised, as I knew, that on his awaking, he must discover how cruelly he had been imposed upon. I had noticed during my recital that the maiden had appeared confused, had looked distressed, anxious, and full of sympathy for the sufferer; but I was not prepared for the avowal she made when I had told her all I had to communicate. She was Lusa."
"And how did you manage to arrange the matter, my Zoe?" inquired Sophos.
"I immediately made an appeal to her sympathies," replied his daughter. "I described to her the positive danger in which the youth was placed by her indifference--and endeavoured to awaken her feelings to a sense of the pleasures she would be storing for herself if she resolved upon rescuing him from the perils by which he was threatened. She replied that he was amiable and good, and had given her no cause for her apparent unkindness; but that she had not loved him in return for his affections, because he had excited in her no similar feeling; and, that hearing of his danger, her heart had been filled with tenderness, and that she had come to the hospital for the express purpose of endeavouring to tranquillise his mind with happier thoughts. This confession rejoiced me more than I can possibly express; and I bade her take my place at his bedside, while I remained at a distance to notice the effect her appearance would have upon him when he awoke. I had not waited long before I observed his head move on the pillow. His eyes looked clearer--his countenance calm and intelligent.
"'Is it a dream?' he said, as his gaze wandering round fell upon the blushing face of his Lusa. The look with which she answered the question seemed to have subdued him.
"'Lusa!' he murmured, as he gazed upon her with a kindling eye and quivering lip. 'Lusa, my beloved! My soul is on my lips--let me bless you! My hope, my guide, my consolation! the very breath of my being--the aim and glory of my dreams! in all earnestness, in all sincerity, and in all love, I bless you; and may the blessing I confer remain upon you, gladden the atmosphere you breathe, and fill with beauty every scene upon which you gaze!'
"Lusa's eyes were filled with tears; and bending her head down to his face, her lips rested upon his. She then moved away her head to conceal her tears; and, taking his hand in hers, she talked to him of hope and happiness; and assured him that she would endeavour to return the affection he had lavished on her so liberally. To this he made no reply. She looked upon his face and saw that his eyes were fixed and glassy. A scream brought me to her side; and, gazing in fear and pity, we discovered that he was dead."
"How dreadful!" exclaimed Zabra.
"He died happy," observed Sophos, "and his life had been blameless: there is nothing dreadful in such a dissolution. I should say that, under such circumstances, Death was robbed of all his terrors. The heart of the affectionate youth was too full; he died of excessive happiness; his breath passed away in a blessing, and his soul took flight in a caress. Is there any other way of passing from existence which, to a lover, could afford so much and so true an enjoyment?"
"I should think not," here remarked Zoe's betrothed. "It appeared as if all the happiness of his existence had been concentrated into one moment, and that its intensity destroyed him."
"He was young," said the matron; "and in youth, when the soul is attached to one object, though there be no return to the passion, and no hope except what the lover creates, he will love the more, the more despairing becomes his attachment. As the individual acquires experience, he loves more wisely; or, perhaps, I might say, he becomes more selfish: he thinks of himself much more than his passion; and an instance of devotion without a return is rarely, if ever, met with beyond the period of youth. Manhood is prouder--age more cautious; and as life passes on, the impulses which might have been wakened by a breath are not to be stirred even by a whirlwind."
"Whence go you when you leave our shores?" inquired Sophos of the young merchant, as if desirous of changing the conversation.
"I pass from here to Constantinople; and from there, after touching at some of the principal ports in Europe, I intend visiting the classic shores of England;" replied Oriel.
"'Tis an interesting voyage," observed his host; "especially your intended visit to the English shores: it is an ancient country, and to the philanthropist is connected with many associations that make it regarded with peculiar interest. The brightest page in her book of honour records the efforts she made to extinguish the slave trade throughout the world. It was a great boast of the Englishmen of those days, that a slave, as soon as he set his foot upon the honoured land of England, became a free man."
"And look at the efforts it made for the regeneration of every other country;" added Fortyfolios. "For how long a period did it take the lead in civilisation! Its learning enriched the whole world; its manufactures produced clothing for almost every people by whom clothing was required; and its mechanical improvements conferred wealth and power on every nation that adopted them."
"But the picture to be true to nature requires a little shadow, don't you see;" observed the doctor. "There are some accounts of cruelty, and oppression, and bigotry, which ought to find a place in their history. We must not forget the manner in which they acquired their possessions in India; the tyranny and slaughter they introduced among the natives of Southern Africa; the infamous system of slavery they encouraged in the West Indies; and the destructive and unjust warfare they waged with their colonists in America."
"Although I cannot defend the manner in which the English acquired new territory abroad," said the professor; "when I compare it with the more savage policy of the Spaniards, the Portuguese, the Dutch, the French, and other nations who endeavoured to add to their possessions by conquering distant lands and massacring the natives, I think England comparatively blameless. Their behaviour to the Africans in the interior of the Cape of Good Hope was produced by the colonists they found there, not by the colonists they introduced there; the evils of West Indian slavery ought to be forgotten in consideration of their constant efforts to ameliorate the conditions of their own slaves, and the great sacrifices they made to put down slavery in every part of the world; and their treatment of their colonists in America should only be remembered as the cause--the glorious cause--which created one of the most important empires that ever existed upon the face of the globe."
"There are certainly a few blots upon the fame of this great people," remarked Sophos; "but the good they effected--a good which is enjoyed by every portion of the civilised world at this moment--was attempted on so grand a scale, and produced such magnificent results, that, in justice, we ought not to look too narrowly upon their errors. And now, Zoe, as the strangers are about to visit the shores of England, endeavour to delight them, as you have done me, with that ancient song which appears to be so great a favourite of yours."
"I will, O my father, if you will ask Alcibiades to join me; for it is more fit for his voice than for mine;" replied Zoe.
"Alcibiades does not require an invitation, dear Zoe, for so delightful a purpose;" said the youth, looking all that his words expressed.
With rich harmonious voices that blended together with exquisite effect, and with a manner so expressive that it stirred the hearts of those around them to feelings of the most intense gratification, the two commenced the following song:--
"Hurra for merry England, the island of the blest, Where gen'rous thoughts, and loving hopes, are nursed in ev'ry breast; Where valleys green, and mountains high, and rivers strong and deep, Are fill'd with blissful memories Time cannot set to sleep. Hurra for merry England! Confusion on her foe! And gladness shine upon her homes--for merry England ho!
"Hurra for mighty England! the island of the brave! Whose conquering flag hath waved its pride o'er ev'ry shore and wave; From eastern hills arose the sun, he kiss'd the western streams, And still he found that English swords were flashing in his beams. Hurra for mighty England! Destruction on her foe! And triumph dwell within her hearts--for mighty England ho!
"Hurra for noble England! the island of the free! Where coward souls and slavish minds were never known to be; Who, proudly as they look'd upon their own unfetter'd gains, Gave other lands their bravery, and dash'd away their chains. Hurra for noble England! Dishonour on her foe! And glory rest upon her lands--for noble England ho!"
END OF THE SECOND VOLUME.
LONDON: Printed by A. SPOTTISWOODE, New-Street-Square.
A table of Contents has been added.
Text in italics has been placed between _underscores_ and text in small capitals has been changed to all capitals.
Some punctuation errors have been corrected silently. Inconsistent use of quotation marks in some parts of the book has not been changed.
The following corrections have been made, on page
31 "immemediately" changed to "immediately" (the stranger, immediately stopping in his career)
55 "exexception" changed to "exception" (with the exception of the one you have)
118 "hyprocrisy" changed to "hypocrisy" ('Tis all hypocrisy!)
197 "incompent" changed to "incompetent" (utterly incompetent to appreciate their merits)
207 "wetches" changed to "wretches" (if I have killed these poor wretches).
Otherwise the original was preserved, including archaic and inconsistent spelling and hyphenation.