The Project Gutenberg eBook, The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 10, Number 60, October 1862, by Various
This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.net
Title: The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 10, Number 60, October 1862
Release Date: November 13, 2003 [eBook #10077]
Chatacter set encoding: US-ASCII
NUMBER 60, OCTOBER 1862***
E-text prepared by Joshua Hutchinson, David Kline, and Project Gutenberg Distributed Proofreaders
Europeans coming to America are surprised by the brilliancy of our autumnal foliage. There is no account of such a phenomenon in English poetry, because the trees acquire but few bright colors there. The most that Thomson says on this subject in his "Autumn" is contained in the lines,--
"But see the fading many-colored woods, Shade deepening over shade, the country round Imbrown; a crowded umbrage, dusk and dun, Of every hue, from wan declining green to sooty dark":--
and in the line in which he speaks of
"Autumn beaming o'er the yellow woods."
The autumnal change of our woods has not made a deep impression on our own literature yet. October has hardly tinged our poetry.
A great many, who have spent their lives in cities, and have never chanced to come into the country at this season, have never seen this, the flower, or rather the ripe fruit, of the year. I remember riding with one such citizen, who, though a fortnight too late for the most brilliant tints, was taken by surprise, and would not believe that there had been any brighter. He had never heard of this phenomenon before. Not only many in our towns have never witnessed it, but it is scarcely remembered by the majority from year to year.
Most appear to confound changed leaves with withered ones, as if they were to confound ripe apples with rotten ones. I think that the change to some higher color in a leaf is an evidence that it has arrived at a late and perfect maturity, answering to the maturity of fruits. It is generally the lowest and oldest leaves which change first. But as the perfect winged and usually bright-colored insect is short-lived, so the leaves ripen but to fall.
Generally, every fruit, on ripening, and just before it falls, when it commences a more independent and individual existence, requiring less nourishment from any source, and that not so much from the earth through its stem as from the sun and air, acquires a bright tint. So do leaves. The physiologist says it is "due to an increased absorption of oxygen." That is the scientific account of the matter,--only a reassertion of the fact. But I am more interested in the rosy cheek than I am to know what particular diet the maiden fed on. The very forest and herbage, the pellicle of the earth, must acquire a bright color, an evidence of its ripeness,--as if the globe itself were a fruit on its stem, with ever a cheek toward the sun.
Flowers are but colored leaves, fruits but ripe ones. The edible part of most fruits is, as the physiologist says, "the parenchyma or fleshy tissue of the leaf" of which they are formed.
Our appetites have commonly confined our views of ripeness and its phenomena, color, mellowness, and perfectness, to the fruits which we eat, and we are wont to forget that an immense harvest which we do not eat, hardly use at all, is annually ripened by Nature. At our annual Cattle Shows and Horticultural Exhibitions, we make, as we think, a great show of fair fruits, destined, however, to a rather ignoble end, fruits not valued for their beauty chiefly. But round about and within our towns there is annually another show of fruits, on an infinitely grander scale, fruits which address our taste for beauty alone.
October is the month of painted leaves. Their rich glow now flashes round the world. As fruits and leaves and the day itself acquire a bright tint just before they fall, so the year near its setting. October is its sunset sky; November the later twilight.
I formerly thought that it would be worth the while to get a specimen leaf from each changing tree, shrub, and herbaceous plant, when it had acquired its brightest characteristic color, in its transition from the green to the brown state, outline it, and copy its color exactly, with paint, in a book, which should be entitled, "October, or Autumnal Tints";--beginning with the earliest reddening,--Woodbine and the lake of radical leaves, and coming down through the Maples, Hickories, and Sumachs, and many beautifully freckled leaves less generally known, to the latest Oaks and Aspens. What a memento such a book would be! You would need only to turn over its leaves to take a ramble through the autumn woods whenever you pleased. Or if I could preserve the leaves themselves, unfaded, it would be better still. I have made but little progress toward such a book, but I have endeavored, instead, to describe all these bright tints in the order in which they present themselves. The following are some extracts from my notes.
By the twentieth of August, everywhere in woods and swamps, we are reminded of the fall, both by the richly spotted Sarsaparilla-leaves and Brakes, and the withering and blackened Skunk-Cabbage and Hellebore, and, by the river-side, the already blackening Pontederia.
The Purple Grass (Eragrostis pectinacea) is now in the height of its beauty. I remember still when I first noticed this grass particularly. Standing on a hill-side near our river, I saw, thirty or forty rods off, a stripe of purple half a dozen rods long, under the edge of a wood, where the ground sloped toward a meadow. It was as high-colored and interesting, though not quite so bright, as the patches of Rhexia, being a darker purple, like a berry's stain laid on close and thick. On going to and examining it, I found it to be a kind of grass in bloom, hardly a foot high, with but few green blades, and a fine spreading panicle of purple flowers, a shallow, purplish mist trembling around me. Close at hand it appeared but a dull purple, and made little impression on the eye; it was even difficult to detect; and if you plucked a single plant, you were surprised to find how thin it was, and how little color it had. But viewed at a distance in a favorable light, it was of a fine lively purple, flower-like, enriching the earth. Such puny causes combine to produce these decided effects. I was the more surprised and charmed because grass is commonly of a sober and humble color.
With its beautiful purple blush it reminds me, and supplies the place, of the Rhexia, which is now leaving off, and it is one of the most interesting phenomena of August. The finest patches of it grow on waste strips or selvages of land at the base of dry hills, just above the edge of the meadows, where the greedy mower does not deign to swing his scythe; for this is a thin and poor grass, beneath his notice. Or, it may be, because it is so beautiful he does not know that it exists; for the same eye does not see this and Timothy. He carefully gets the meadow hay and the more nutritious grasses which grow next to that, but he leaves this fine purple mist for the walker's harvest,--fodder for his fancy stock. Higher up the hill, perchance, grow also Blackberries, John's-Wort, and neglected, withered, and wiry June-Grass How fortunate that it grows in such places, and not in the midst of the rank grasses which are annually cut! Nature thus keeps use and beauty distinct. I know many such localities, where it does not fail to present itself annually, and paint the earth with its blush. It grows on the gentle slopes, either in a continuous patch or in scattered and rounded tufts a foot in diameter, and it lasts till it is killed by the first smart frosts.
In most plants the corolla or calyx is the part which attains the highest color, and is the most attractive; in many it is the seed-vessel or fruit; in others, as the Red Maple, the leaves; and in others still it is the very culm itself which is the principal flower or blooming part.
The last is especially the case with the Poke or Garget (Phytolacca decandra). Some which stand under our cliffs quite dazzle me with their purple stems now and early in September. They are as interesting to me as most flowers, and one of the most important fruits of our autumn. Every part is flower, (or fruit,) such is its superfluity of color,--stem, branch, peduncle, pedicel, petiole, and even the at length yellowish purple-veined leaves. Its cylindrical racemes of berries of various hues, from green to dark purple, six or seven inches long, are gracefully drooping on all sides, offering repasts to the birds; and even the sepals from which the birds have picked the berries are a brilliant lake-red, with crimson flame-like reflections, equal to anything of the kind,--all on fire with ripeness. Hence the lacca, from lac, lake. There are at the same time flower-buds, flowers, green berries, dark purple or ripe ones, and these flower-like sepals, all on the same plant.
We love to see any redness in the vegetation of the temperate zone. It is the color of colors. This plant speaks to blood. It asks a bright sun on it to make it show to best advantage, and it must be seen at this season of the year. On warm hill-sides its stems are ripe by the twenty-third of August. At that date I walked through a beautiful grove of them, six or seven feet high, on the side of one of our cliffs, where they ripen early. Quite to the ground they were a deep brilliant purple with a bloom, contrasting with the still clear green leaves. It appears a rare triumph of Nature to have produced and perfected such a plant, as if this were enough for a summer. What a perfect maturity it arrives at! It is the emblem of a successful life concluded by a death not premature, which is an ornament to Nature. What if we were to mature as perfectly, root and branch, glowing in the midst of our decay, like the Poke! I confess that it excites me to behold them. I cut one for a cane, for I would fain handle and lean on it. I love to press the berries between my fingers, and see their juice staining my hand. To walk amid these upright, branching casks of purple wine, which retain and diffuse a sunset glow, tasting each one with your eye, instead of counting the pipes on a London dock, what a privilege! For Nature's vintage is not confined to the vine. Our poets have sung of wine, the product of a foreign plant which commonly they never saw, as if our own plants had no juice in them more than the singers. Indeed, this has been called by some the American Grape, and, though a native of America, its juices are used in some foreign countries to improve the color of the wine; so that the poetaster may be celebrating the virtues of the Poke without knowing it. Here are berries enough to paint afresh the western sky, and play the bacchanal with, if you will. And what flutes its ensanguined stems would make, to be used in such a dance! It is truly a royal plant. I could spend the evening of the year musing amid the Poke-stems. And perchance amid these groves might arise at last a new school of philosophy or poetry. It lasts all through September.
At the same time with this, or near the end of August, a to me very interesting genus of grasses, Andropogons, or Beard-Grasses, is in its prime. Andropogon furcatus, Forked Beard-Grass, or call it Purple-Fingered Grass; Andropogon scoparius, Purple Wood-Grass; and Andropogon (now called Sorghum) nutans, Indian-Grass. The first is a very tall and slender-culmed grass, three to seven feet high, with four or five purple finger-like spikes raying upward from the top. The second is also quite slender, growing in tufts two feet high by one wide, with culms often somewhat curving, which, as the spikes go out of bloom, have a whitish fuzzy look. These two are prevailing grasses at this season on dry and sandy fields and hill-sides. The culms of both, not to mention their pretty flowers, reflect a purple tinge, and help to declare the ripeness of the year. Perhaps I have the more sympathy with them because they are despised by the farmer, and occupy sterile and neglected soil. They are high-colored, like ripe grapes, and express a maturity which the spring did not suggest. Only the August sun could have thus burnished these culms and leaves. The farmer has long since done his upland haying, and he will not condescend to bring his scythe to where these slender wild grasses have at length flowered thinly; you often see spaces of bare sand amid them. But I walk encouraged between the tufts of Purple Wood-Grass, over the sandy fields, and along the edge of the Shrub-Oaks, glad to recognize these simple contemporaries. With thoughts cutting a broad swathe I "get" them, with horse-raking thoughts I gather them into windrows. The fine-eared poet may hear the whetting of my scythe. These two were almost the first grasses that I learned to distinguish, for I had not known by how many friends I was surrounded,--I had seen them simply as grasses standing. The purple of their culms also excites me like that of the Poke-Weed stems.
Think what refuge there is for one, before August is over, from college commencements and society that isolates! I can skulk amid the tufts of Purple Wood-Grass on the borders of the "Great Fields." Wherever I walk these afternoons, the Purple-Fingered Grass also stands like a guide-board, and points my thoughts to more poetic paths than they have lately travelled.
A man shall perhaps rush by and trample down plants as high as his head, and cannot be said to know that they exist, though he may have cut many tons of them, littered his stables with them, and fed them to his cattle for years. Yet, if he ever favorably attends to them, he may be overcome by their beauty. Each humblest plant, or weed, as we call it, stands there to express some thought or mood of ours; and yet how long it stands in vain! I had walked over those Great Fields so many Augusts, and never yet distinctly recognized these purple companions that I had there. I had brushed against them and trodden on them, forsooth; and now, at last, they, as it were, rose up and blessed me. Beauty and true wealth are always thus cheap and despised. Heaven might be defined as the place which men avoid. Who can doubt that these grasses, which the farmer says are of no account to him, find some compensation in your appreciation of them? I may say that I never saw them before,--though, when I came to look them face to face, there did come down to me a purple gleam from previous years; and now, wherever I go, I see hardly anything else. It is the reign and presidency of the Andropogons.
Almost the very sands confess the ripening influence of the August sun, and methinks, together with the slender grasses waving over them, reflect a purple tinge. The impurpled sands! Such is the consequence of all this sunshine absorbed into the pores of plants and of the earth. All sap or blood is now wine-colored. At last we have not only the purple sea, but the purple land.
The Chestnut Beard-Grass, Indian-Grass, or Wood-Grass, growing here and there in waste places, but more rare than the former, (from two to four or five feet high,) is still handsomer and of more vivid colors than its congeners, and might well have caught the Indian's eye. It has a long, narrow, one-sided, and slightly nodding panicle of bright purple and yellow flowers, like a banner raised above its reedy leaves. These bright standards are now advanced on the distant hill-sides, not in large armies, but in scattered troops or single file, like the red men. They stand thus fair and bright, representative of the race which they are named after, but for the most part unobserved as they. The expression of this grass haunted me for a week, after I first passed and noticed it, like the glance of an eye. It stands like an Indian chief taking a last look at his favorite hunting-grounds.
By the twenty-fifth of September, the Red Maples generally are beginning to be ripe. Some large ones have been conspicuously changing for a week, and some single trees are now very brilliant. I notice a small one, half a mile off across a meadow, against the green wood-side there, a far brighter red than the blossoms of any tree in summer, and more conspicuous. I have observed this tree for several autumns invariably changing earlier than its fellows, just as one tree ripens its fruit earlier than another. It might serve to mark the season, perhaps. I should be sorry, if it were cut down. I know of two or three such trees in different parts of our town, which might, perhaps, be propagated from, as early ripeners or September trees, and their seed be advertised in the market, as well as that of radishes, if we cared as much about them.
At present, these burning bushes stand chiefly along the edge of the meadows, or I distinguish them afar on the hill-sides here and there. Sometimes you will see many small ones in a swamp turned quite crimson when all other trees around are still perfectly green, and the former appear so much the brighter for it. They take you by surprise, as you are going by on one side, across the fields thus early in the season, as if it were some gay encampment of the red men, or other foresters, of whose arrival you had not heard.
Some single trees, wholly bright scarlet, seen against others of their kind still freshly green, or against evergreens, are more memorable than whole groves will be by-and-by. How beautiful, when a whole tree is like one great scarlet fruit full of ripe juices, every leaf, from lowest limb to topmost spire, all aglow, especially if you look toward the sun! What more remarkable object can there be in the landscape? Visible for miles, too fair to be believed. If such a phenomenon occurred but once, it would be handed down by tradition to posterity, and get into the mythology at last.
The whole tree thus ripening in advance of its fellows attains a singular preeminence, and sometimes maintains it for a week or two. I am thrilled at the sight of it, bearing aloft its scarlet standard for the regiment of green-clad foresters around, and I go half a mile out of my way to examine it. A single tree becomes thus the crowning beauty of some meadowy vale, and the expression of the whole surrounding forest is at once more spirited for it.
A small Red Maple has grown, perchance, far away at the head of some retired valley, a mile from any road, unobserved. It has faithfully discharged the duties of a Maple there, all winter and summer, neglected none of its economies, but added to its stature in the virtue which belongs to a Maple, by a steady growth for so many months, never having gone gadding abroad, and is nearer heaven than it was in the spring. It has faithfully husbanded its sap, and afforded a shelter to the wandering bird, has long since ripened its seeds and committed them to the winds, and has the satisfaction of knowing, perhaps, that a thousand little well-behaved Maples are already settled in life somewhere. It deserves well of Mapledom. Its leaves have been asking it from time to time, in a whisper, "When shall we redden?" And now, in this month of September, this month of travelling, when men are hastening to the sea-side, or the mountains, or the lakes, this modest Maple, still without budging an inch, travels in its reputation,--runs up its scarlet flag on that hill-side, which shows that it has finished its summer's work before all other trees, and withdraws from the contest. At the eleventh hour of the year, the tree which no scrutiny could have detected here when it was most industrious is thus, by the tint of its maturity, by its very blushes, revealed at last to the careless and distant traveller, and leads his thoughts away from the dusty road into those brave solitudes which it inhabits. It flashes out conspicuous with all the virtue and beauty of a Maple,--Acer rubrum. We may now read its title, or rubric, clear. Its virtues, not its sins, are as scarlet.
Notwithstanding the Red Maple is the most intense scarlet of any of our trees, the Sugar-Maple has been the most celebrated, and Michaux in his "Sylva" does not speak of the autumnal color of the former. About the second of October, these trees, both large and small, are most brilliant, though many are still green. In "sprout-lands" they seem to vie with one another, and ever some particular one in the midst of the crowd will be of a peculiarly pure scarlet, and by its more intense color attract our eye even at a distance, and carry off the palm. A large Red-Maple swamp, when at the height of its change, is the most obviously brilliant of all tangible things, where I dwell, so abundant is this tree with us. It varies much both in form and color. A great many are merely yellow, more scarlet, others scarlet deepening into crimson, more red than common. Look at yonder swamp of Maples mixed with Pines, at the base of a Pine-clad hill, a quarter of a mile off, so that you get the full effect of the bright colors, without detecting the imperfections of the leaves, and see their yellow, scarlet, and crimson fires, of all tints, mingled and contrasted with the green. Some Maples are yet green, only yellow or crimson-tipped on the edges of their flakes, like the edges of a Hazel-Nut burr; some are wholly brilliant scarlet, raying out regularly and finely every way, bilaterally, like the veins of a leaf; others, of more irregular form, when I turn my head slightly, emptying out some of its earthiness and concealing the trunk of the tree, seem to rest heavily flake on flake, like yellow and scarlet clouds, wreath upon wreath, or like snow-drifts driving through the air, stratified by the wind. It adds greatly to the beauty of such a swamp at this season, that, even though there may be no other trees interspersed, it is not seen as a simple mass of color, but, different trees being of different colors and hues, the outline of each crescent tree-top is distinct, and where one laps on to another. Yet a painter would hardly venture to make them thus distinct a quarter of a mile off.
As I go across a meadow directly toward a low rising ground this bright afternoon, I see, some fifty rods off toward the sun, the top of a Maple swamp just appearing over the sheeny russet edge of the hill, a stripe apparently twenty rods long by ten feet deep, of the most intensely brilliant scarlet, orange, and yellow, equal to any flowers or fruits, or any tints ever painted. As I advance, lowering the edge of the hill which makes the firm foreground or lower frame of the picture, the depth of the brilliant grove revealed steadily increases, suggesting that the whole of the inclosed valley is filled with such color. One wonders that the tithing-men and fathers of the town are not out to see what the trees mean by their high colors and exuberance of spirits, fearing that some mischief is brewing. I do not see what the Puritans did at this season, when the Maples blaze out in scarlet. They certainly could not have worshipped in groves then. Perhaps that is what they built meeting-houses and fenced them round with horse-sheds for.
Now, too, the first of October, or later, the Elms are at the height of their autumnal beauty, great brownish-yellow masses, warm from their September oven, hanging over the highway. Their leaves are perfectly ripe. I wonder if there is any answering ripeness in the lives of the men who live beneath them. As I look down our street, which is lined with them, they remind me both by their form and color of yellowing sheaves of grain, as if the harvest had indeed come to the village itself, and we might expect to find some maturity and flavor in the thoughts of the villagers at last. Under those bright rustling yellow piles just ready to fall on the heads of the walkers, how can any crudity or greenness of thought or act prevail? When I stand where half a dozen large Elms droop over a house, it is as if I stood within a ripe pumpkin-rind, and I feel as mellow as if I were the pulp, though I may be somewhat stringy and seedy withal. What is the late greenness of the English Elm, like a cucumber out of season, which does not know when to have done, compared with the early and golden maturity of the American tree? The street is the scene of a great harvest-home. It would be worth the while to set out these trees, if only for their autumnal value. Think of these great yellow canopies or parasols held over our heads and houses by the mile together, making the village all one and compact,--an ulmarium, which is at the same time a nursery of men! And then how gently and unobserved they drop their burden and let in the sun when it is wanted, their leaves not heard when they fall on our roofs and in our streets; and thus the village parasol is shut up and put away! I see the market-man driving into the village, and disappearing under its canopy of Elm-tops, with his crop, as into a great granary or barnyard. I am tempted to go thither as to a husking of thoughts, now dry and ripe, and ready to be separated from their integuments; but, alas! I foresee that it will be chiefly husks and little thought, blasted pig-corn, fit only for cob-meal,--for, as you sow, so shall you reap.
By the sixth of October the leaves generally begin to fall, in successive showers, after frost or rain; but the principal leaf-harvest, the acme of the Fall, is commonly about the sixteenth. Some morning at that date there is perhaps a harder frost than we have seen, and ice formed under the pump, and now, when the morning wind rises, the leaves come down in denser showers than ever. They suddenly form thick beds or carpets on the ground, in this gentle air, or even without wind, just the size and form of the tree above. Some trees, as small Hickories, appear to have dropped their leaves instantaneously, as a soldier grounds arms at a signal; and those of the Hickory, being bright yellow still, though withered, reflect a blaze of light from the ground where they lie. Down they have come on all sides, at the first earnest touch of autumn's wand, making a sound like rain.
Or else it is after moist and rainy weather that we notice how great a fall of leaves there has been in the night, though it may not yet be the touch that loosens the Rock-Maple leaf. The streets are thickly strewn with the trophies, and fallen Elm-leaves make a dark brown pavement under our feet. After some remarkably warm Indian-summer day or days, I perceive that it is the unusual heat which, more than anything, causes the leaves to fall, there having been, perhaps, no frost nor rain for some time. The intense heat suddenly ripens and wilts them, just as it softens and ripens peaches and other fruits, and causes them to drop.
The leaves of late Red Maples, still bright, strew the earth, often crimson-spotted on a yellow ground, like some wild apples,--though they preserve these bright colors on the ground but a day or two, especially if it rains. On causeways I go by trees here and there all bare and smoke-like, having lost their brilliant clothing; but there it lies, nearly as bright as ever, on the ground on one side, and making nearly as regular a figure as lately on the tree. I would rather say that I first observe the trees thus flat on the ground like a permanent colored shadow, and they suggest to look for the boughs that bore them. A queen might be proud to walk where these gallant trees have spread their bright cloaks in the mud. I see wagons roll over them as a shadow or a reflection, and the drivers heed them just as little as they did their shadows before.
Birds'-nests, in the Huckleberry and other shrubs, and in trees, are already being filled with the withered leaves. So many have fallen in the woods, that a squirrel cannot run after a falling nut without being heard. Boys are raking them in the streets, if only for the pleasure of dealing with such clean crisp substances. Some sweep the paths scrupulously neat, and then stand to see the next breath strew them with new trophies. The swamp-floor is thickly covered, and the Lycopodium lucidulum looks suddenly greener amid them. In dense woods they half-cover pools that are three or four rods long. The other day I could hardly find a well-known spring, and even suspected that it had dried up, for it was completely concealed by freshly fallen leaves; and when I swept them aside and revealed it, it was like striking the earth, with Aaron's rod, for a new spring. Wet grounds about the edges of swamps look dry with them. At one swamp, where I was surveying, thinking to step on a leafy shore from a rail, I got into the water more than a foot deep.
When I go to the river the day after the principal fall of leaves, the sixteenth, I find my boat all covered, bottom and seats, with the leaves of the Golden Willow under which it is moored, and I set sail with a cargo of them rustling under my feet. If I empty it, it will be full again to-morrow. I do not regard them as litter, to be swept out, but accept them as suitable straw or matting for the bottom of my carriage. When I turn up into the mouth of the Assabet, which is wooded, large fleets of leaves are floating on its surface, as it were getting out to sea, with room to tack; but next the shore, a little farther up, they are thicker than foam, quite concealing the water for a rod in width, under and amid the Alders, Button-Bushes, and Maples, still perfectly light and dry, with fibre unrelaxed; and at a rocky bend where they are met and stopped by the morning wind, they sometimes form a broad and dense crescent quite across the river. When I turn my prow that way, and the wave which it makes strikes them, list what a pleasant rustling from these dry substances grating on one another! Often it is their undulation only which reveals the water beneath them. Also every motion of the wood-turtle on the shore is betrayed by their rustling there. Or even in mid-channel, when the wind rises, I hear them blown with a rustling sound. Higher up they are slowly moving round and round in some great eddy which the river makes, as that at the "Leaning Hemlocks," where the water is deep, and the current is wearing into the bank.
Perchance, in the afternoon of such a day, when the water is perfectly calm and full of reflections, I paddle gently down the main stream, and, turning up the Assabet, reach a quiet cove, where I unexpectedly find myself surrounded by myriads of leaves, like fellow-voyagers, which seem to have the same purpose, or want of purpose, with myself. See this great fleet of scattered leaf-boats which we paddle amid, in this smooth river-bay, each one curled up on every side by the sun's skill, each nerve a stiff spruce-knee,--like boats of hide, and of all patterns, Charon's boat probably among the rest, and some with lofty prows and poops, like the stately vessels of the ancients, scarcely moving in the sluggish current,--like the great fleets, the dense Chinese cities of boats, with which you mingle on entering some great mart, some New York or Canton, which we are all steadily approaching together. How gently each has been deposited on the water! No violence has been used towards them yet, though, perchance, palpitating hearts were present at the launching. And painted ducks, too, the splendid wood-duck among the rest, often come to sail and float amid the painted leaves,--barks of a nobler model still!
What wholesome herb-drinks are to be had in the swamps now! What strong medicinal, but rich, scents from the decaying leaves! The rain falling on the freshly dried herbs and leaves, and filling the pools and ditches into which they have dropped thus clean and rigid, will soon convert them into tea,--green, black, brown, and yellow teas, of all degrees of strength, enough to set all Nature a-gossiping. Whether we drink them or not, as yet, before their strength is drawn, these leaves, dried on great Nature's coppers, are of such various pure and delicate tints as might make the fame of Oriental teas.
How they are mixed up, of all species, Oak and Maple and Chestnut and Birch! But Nature is not cluttered with them; she is a perfect husbandman; she stores them all. Consider what a vast crop is thus annually shed on the earth! This, more than any mere grain or seed, is the great harvest of the year. The trees are now repaying the earth with interest what they have taken from it. They are discounting. They are about to add a leaf's thickness to the depth of the soil. This is the beautiful way in which Nature gets her muck, while I chaffer with this man and that, who talks to me about sulphur and the cost of carting. We are all the richer for their decay. I am more interested in this crop than in the English grass alone or in the corn. It prepares the virgin mould for future cornfields and forests, on which the earth fattens. It keeps our homestead in good heart.
For beautiful variety no crop can be compared with this. Here is not merely the plain yellow of the grains, but nearly all the colors that we know, the brightest blue not excepted: the early blushing Maple, the Poison-Sumach blazing its sins as scarlet, the mulberry Ash, the rich chrome-yellow of the Poplars, the brilliant red Huckleberry, with which the hills' backs are painted, like those of sheep. The frost touches them, and, with the slightest breath of returning day or jarring of earth's axle, see in what showers they come floating down! The ground is all party-colored with them. But they still live in the soil, whose fertility and bulk they increase, and in the forests that spring from it. They stoop to rise, to mount higher in coming years, by subtle chemistry, climbing by the sap in the trees, and the sapling's first fruits thus shed, transmuted at last, may adorn its crown, when, in after-years, it has become the monarch of the forest.
It is pleasant to walk over the beds of these fresh, crisp, and rustling leaves. How beautifully they go to their graves! how gently lay themselves down and turn to mould!--painted of a thousand hues, and fit to make the beds of us living. So they troop to their last resting-place, light and frisky. They put on no weeds, but merrily they go scampering over the earth, selecting the spot, choosing a lot, ordering no iron fence, whispering all through the woods about it,--some choosing the spot where the bodies of men are mouldering beneath, and meeting them half-way. How many flutterings before they rest quietly in their graves! They that soared so loftily, how contentedly they return to dust again, and are laid low, resigned to lie and decay at the foot of the tree, and afford nourishment to new generations of their kind, as well as to flutter on high! They teach us how to die. One wonders if the time will ever come when men, with their boasted faith in immortality, will lie down as gracefully and as ripe,--with such an Indian-summer serenity will shed their bodies, as they do their hair and nails.
When the leaves fall, the whole earth is a cemetery pleasant to walk in. I love to wander and muse over them in their graves. Here are no lying nor vain epitaphs. What though you own no lot at Mount Auburn? Your lot is surely cast somewhere in this vast cemetery, which has been consecrated from of old. You need attend no auction to secure a place. There is room enough here. The Loose-strife shall bloom and the Huckleberry-bird sing over your bones. The woodman and hunter shall be your sextons, and the children shall tread upon the borders as much as they will. Let us walk in the cemetery of the leaves,--this is your true Greenwood Cemetery.
But think not that the splendor of the year is over; for as one leaf does not make a summer, neither does one fallen leaf make an autumn. The smallest Sugar-Maples in our streets make a great show as early as the fifth of October, more than any other trees there. As I look up the Main Street, they appear like painted screens standing before the houses; yet many are green. But now, or generally by the seventeenth of October, when almost all Red Maples, and some White Maples, are bare, the large Sugar-Maples also are in their glory, glowing with yellow and red, and show unexpectedly bright and delicate tints. They are remarkable for the contrast they often afford of deep blushing red on one half and green on the other. They become at length dense masses of rich yellow with a deep scarlet blush, or more than blush, on the exposed surfaces. They are the brightest trees now in the street.
The large ones on our Common are particularly beautiful. A delicate, but warmer than golden yellow is now the prevailing color, with scarlet cheeks. Yet, standing on the east side of the Common just before sundown, when the western light is transmitted through them, I see that their yellow even, compared with the pale lemon yellow of an Elm close by, amounts to a scarlet, without noticing the bright scarlet portions. Generally, they are great regular oval masses of yellow and scarlet. All the sunny warmth of the season, the Indian summer, seems to be absorbed in their leaves. The lowest and inmost leaves next the bole are, as usual, of the most delicate yellow and green, like the complexion of young men brought up in the house. There is an auction on the Common to-day, but its red flag is hard to be discerned amid this blaze of color.
Little did the fathers of the town anticipate this brilliant success, when they caused to be imported from farther in the country some straight poles with their tops cut off, which they called Sugar-Maples; and, as I remember, after they were set out, a neighboring merchant's clerk, by way of jest, planted beans about them. Those which were then jestingly called bean-poles are to-day far the most beautiful objects noticeable in our streets. They are worth all and more than they have cost,--though one of the selectmen, while setting them out, took the cold which occasioned his death,--if only because they have filled the open eyes of children with their rich color unstintedly so many Octobers. We will not ask them to yield us sugar in the spring, while they afford us so fair a prospect in the autumn. Wealth in-doors may be the inheritance of few, but it is equally distributed on the Common. All children alike can revel in this golden harvest.
Surely trees should be set in our streets with a view to their October splendor; though I doubt whether this is ever considered by the "Tree Society." Do you not think it will make some odds to these children that they were brought up under the Maples? Hundreds of eyes are steadily drinking in this color, and by these teachers even the truants are caught and educated the moment they step abroad. Indeed, neither the truant nor the studious is at present taught color in the schools. These are instead of the bright colors in apothecaries' shops and city windows. It is a pity that we have no more Red Maples, and some Hickories, in our streets as well. Our paint-box is very imperfectly filled. Instead of, or beside, supplying such paint-boxes as we do, we might supply these natural colors to the young. Where else will they study color under greater advantages? What School of Design can vie with this? Think how much the eyes of painters of all kinds, and of manufacturers of cloth and paper, and paper-stainers, and countless others, are to be educated by these autumnal colors. The stationer's envelopes may be of very various tints, yet not so various as those of the leaves of a single tree. If you want a different shade or tint of a particular color, you have only to look farther within or without the tree or the wood. These leaves are not many dipped in one dye, as at the dye-house, but they are dyed in light of infinitely various degrees of strength, and left to set and dry there.
Shall the names of so many of our colors continue to be derived from those of obscure foreign localities, as Naples yellow, Prussian blue, raw Sienna, burnt Umber, Gamboge?--(surely the Tyrian purple must have faded by this time)--or from comparatively trivial articles of commerce,--chocolate, lemon, coffee, cinnamon, claret?--(shall we compare our Hickory to a lemon, or a lemon to a Hickory?)--or from ores and oxides which few ever see? Shall we so often, when describing to our neighbors the color of something we have seen, refer them, not to some natural object in our neighborhood, but perchance to a bit of earth fetched from the other side of the planet, which possibly they may find at the apothecary's, but which probably neither they nor we ever saw? Have we not an earth under our feet,--ay, and a sky over our heads? Or is the last all ultramarine? What do we know of sapphire, amethyst, emerald, ruby, amber, and the like,--most of us who take these names in vain? Leave these precious words to cabinet-keepers, virtuosos, and maids-of-honor,--to the Nabobs, Begums, and Chobdars of Hindostan, or wherever else. I do not see why, since America and her autumn woods have been discovered, our leaves should not compete with the precious stones in giving names to colors; and, indeed, I believe that in course of time the names of some of our trees and shrubs, as well as flowers, will get into our popular chromatic nomenclature.
But of much more importance than a knowledge of the names and distinctions of color is the joy and exhilaration which these colored leaves excite. Already these brilliant trees throughout the street, without any more variety, are at least equal to an annual festival and holiday, or a week of such. These are cheap and innocent gala-days, celebrated by one and all without the aid of committees or marshals, such a show as may safely be licensed, not attracting gamblers or rum-sellers, nor requiring any special police to keep the peace. And poor indeed must be that New-England village's October which has not the Maple in its streets. This October festival costs no powder, nor ringing of bells, but every tree is a living liberty-pole on which a thousand bright flags are waving.
No wonder that we must have our annual Cattle-Show, and Fall Training, and perhaps Cornwallis, our September Courts, and the like. Nature herself holds her annual fair in October, not only in the streets, but in every hollow and on every hill-side. When lately we looked into that Red-Maple swamp all a-blaze,--where the trees were clothed in their vestures of most dazzling tints, did it not suggest a thousand gypsies beneath,--a race capable of wild delight,--or even the fabled fawns, satyrs, and wood-nymphs come back to earth? Or was it only a congregation of wearied wood-choppers, or of proprietors come to inspect their lots, that we thought of? Or, earlier still, when we paddled on the river through that fine-grained September air, did there not appear to be something new going on under the sparkling surface of the stream, a shaking of props, at least, so that we made haste in order to be up in time? Did not the rows of yellowing Willows and Button-Bushes on each side seem like rows of booths, under which, perhaps, some fluviatile egg-pop equally yellow was effervescing? Did not all these suggest that man's spirits should rise as high as Nature's,--should hang out their flag, and the routine of his life be interrupted by an analogous expression of joy and hilarity?
No annual training or muster of soldiery, no celebration with its scarfs and banners, could import into the town a hundredth part of the annual splendor of our October. We have only to set the trees, or let them stand, and Nature will find the colored drapery,--flags of all her nations, some of whose private signals hardly the botanist can read,--while we walk under the triumphal arches of the Elms. Leave it to Nature to appoint the days, whether the same as in neighboring States or not, and let the clergy read her proclamations, if they can understand them. Behold what a brilliant drapery is her Woodbine flag! What public-spirited merchant, think you, has contributed this part of the show? There is no handsomer shingling and paint than this vine, at present covering a whole side of some houses. I do not believe that the Ivy never sear is comparable to it. No wonder it has been extensively introduced into London. Let us have a good many Maples and Hickories and Scarlet Oaks, then, I say. Blaze away! Shall that dirty roll of bunting in the gun-house be all the colors a village can display? A village is not complete, unless it have these trees to mark the season in it. They are important, like the town-clock. A village that has them not will not be found to work well. It has a screw loose, an essential part is wanting. Let us have Willows for spring, Elms for summer, Maples and Walnuts and Tupeloes for autumn, Evergreens for winter, and Oaks for all seasons. What is a gallery in a house to a gallery in the streets, which every market-man rides through, whether he will or not? Of course, there is not a picture-gallery in the country which would be worth so much to us as is the western view at sunset under the Elms of our main street. They are the frame to a picture which is daily painted behind them. An avenue of Elms as large as our largest and three miles long would seem to lead to some admirable place, though only C---- were at the end of it.
A village needs these innocent stimulants of bright and cheering prospects to keep off melancholy and superstition. Show me two villages, one embowered in trees and blazing with all the glories of October, the other a merely trivial and treeless waste, or with only a single tree or two for suicides, and I shall be sure that in the latter will be found the most starved and bigoted religionists and the most desperate drinkers. Every wash-tub and milk-can and gravestone will be exposed. The inhabitants will disappear abruptly behind their barns and houses, like desert Arabs amid their rocks, and I shall look to see spears in their hands. They will be ready to accept the most barren and forlorn doctrine,--as that the world is speedily coming to an end, or has already got to it, or that they themselves are turned wrong side outward. They will perchance crack their dry joints at one another and call it a spiritual communication.
But to confine ourselves to the Maples. What if we were to take half as much pains in protecting them as we do in setting them out,--not stupidly tie our horses to our dahlia-stems?
What meant the fathers by establishing this perfectly living institution before the church,--this institution which needs no repairing nor repainting, which is continually enlarged and repaired by its growth? Surely they
"Wrought in a sad sincerity;
Themselves from God they could not free; They planted better than they knew;--
The conscious trees to beauty grew."
Verily these Maples are cheap preachers, permanently settled, which preach their half-century, and century, ay, and century-and-a-half sermons, with constantly increasing unction and influence, ministering to many generations of men; and the least we can do is to supply them with suitable colleagues as they grow infirm.
Belonging to a genus which is remarkable for the beautiful form of its leaves, I suspect that some Scarlet-Oak leaves surpass those of all other Oaks in the rich and wild beauty of their outlines. I judge from an acquaintance with twelve species, and from drawings which I have seen of many others.
Stand under this tree and see how finely its leaves are cut against the sky,--as it were, only a few sharp points extending from a midrib. They look like double, treble, or quadruple crosses. They are far more ethereal than the less deeply scolloped Oak-leaves. They have so little leafy terra firma that they appear melting away in the light, and scarcely obstruct our view. The leaves of very young plants are, like those of full-grown Oaks of other species, more entire, simple, and lumpish in their outlines; but these, raised high on old trees, have solved the leafy problem. Lifted higher and higher, and sublimated more and more, putting off some earthiness and cultivating more intimacy with the light each year, they have at length the least possible amount of earthy matter, and the greatest spread and grasp of skyey influences. There they dance, arm in arm with the light,--tripping it on fantastic points, fit partners in those aerial halls. So intimately mingled are they with it, that, what with their slenderness and their glossy surfaces, you can hardly tell at last what in the dance is leaf and what is light. And when no zephyr stirs, they are at most but a rich tracery to the forest-windows.
I am again struck with their beauty, when, a month later, they thickly strew the ground in the woods, piled one upon another under my feet. They are then brown above, but purple beneath. With their narrow lobes and their bold deep scollops reaching almost to the middle, they suggest that the material must be cheap, or else there has been a lavish expense in their creation, as if so much had been cut out. Or else they seem to us the remnants of the stuff out of which leaves have been cut with a die. Indeed, when they lie thus one upon another, they remind me of a pile of scrap-tin.
Or bring one home, and study it closely at your leisure, by the fireside. It is a type, not from any Oxford font, not in the Basque nor the arrow-headed character, not found on the Rosetta Stone, but destined to be copied in sculpture one day, if they ever get to whittling stone here. What a wild and pleasing outline, a combination of graceful curves and angles! The eye rests with equal delight on what is not leaf and on what is leaf,--on the broad, free, open sinuses, and on the long, sharp, bristle-pointed lobes. A simple oval outline would include it all, if you connected the points of the leaf; but how much richer is it than that, with its half-dozen deep scollops, in which the eye and thought of the beholder are embayed! If I were a drawing-master, I would set my pupils to copying these leaves, that they might learn to draw firmly and gracefully.
Regarded as water, it is like a pond with half a dozen broad rounded promontories extending nearly to its middle, half from each side, while its watery bays extend far inland, like sharp friths, at each of whose heads several fine streams empty in,--almost a leafy archipelago.
But it oftener suggests land, and, as Dionysius and Pliny compared the form of the Morea to that of the leaf of the Oriental Plane-tree, so this leaf reminds me of some fair wild island in the ocean, whose extensive coast, alternate rounded bays with smooth strands, and sharp-pointed rocky capes, mark it as fitted for the habitation of man, and destined to become a centre of civilization at last. To the sailor's eye. It is a much-indented shore. Is it not, in fact, a shore to the aerial ocean, on which the windy surf beats? At sight of this leaf we are all mariners,--if not vikings, buccaneers, and filibusters. Both our love of repose and our spirit of adventure are addressed. In our most casual glance, perchance, we think, that, if we succeed in doubling those sharp capes, we shall find deep, smooth, and secure havens in the ample bays. How different from the White-Oak leaf, with its rounded headlands, on which no light-house need be placed! That is an England, with its long civil history, that may be read. This is some still unsettled New-found Island or Celebes. Shall we go and be rajahs there?
By the twenty-sixth of October the large Scarlet Oaks are in their prime, when other Oaks are usually withered. They have been kindling their fires for a week past, and now generally burst into a blaze. This alone of our indigenous deciduous trees (excepting the Dogwood, of which I do not know half a dozen, and they are but large bushes) is now in its glory. The two Aspens and the Sugar-Maple come nearest to it in date, but they have lost the greater part of their leaves. Of evergreens, only the Pitch-Pine is still commonly bright.
But it requires a particular alertness, if not devotion to these phenomena, to appreciate the wide-spread, but late and unexpected glory of the Scarlet Oaks. I do not speak here of the small trees and shrubs, which are commonly observed, and which are now withered, but of the large trees. Most go in and shut their doors, thinking that bleak and colorless November has already come, when some of the most brilliant and memorable colors are not yet lit.
This very perfect and vigorous one, about forty feet high, standing in an open pasture, which was quite glossy green on the twelfth, is now, the twenty-sixth, completely changed to bright dark scarlet,--every leaf, between you and the sun, as if it had been dipped into a scarlet dye. The whole tree is much like a heart in form, as well as color. Was not this worth waiting for? Little did you think, ten days ago, that that cold green tree would assume such color as this. Its leaves are still firmly attached, while those of other trees are falling around it. It seems to say,--"I am the last to blush, but I blush deeper than any of ye. I bring up the rear in my red coat. We Scarlet ones, alone of Oaks, have not given up the fight."
The sap is now, and even far into November, frequently flowing fast in these trees, as in Maples in the spring; and apparently their bright tints, now that most other Oaks are withered, are connected with this phenomenon. They are full of life. It has a pleasantly astringent, acorn-like taste, this strong Oak-wine, as I find on tapping them with my knife.
Looking across this woodland valley, a quarter of a mile wide, how rich those Scarlet Oaks, embosomed in Pines, their bright red branches intimately intermingled with them! They have their full effect there. The Pine-boughs are the green calyx to their red petals. Or, as we go along a road in the woods, the sun striking endwise through it, and lighting up the red tents of the Oaks, which on each side are mingled with the liquid green of the Pines, makes a very gorgeous scene. Indeed, without the evergreens for contrast, the autumnal tints would lose much of their effect.
The Scarlet Oak asks a clear sky and the brightness of late October days. These bring out its colors. If the sun goes into a cloud, they become comparatively indistinct. As I sit on a cliff in the southwest part of our town, the sun is now getting low, and the woods in Lincoln, south and east of me, are lit up by its more level rays; and in the Scarlet Oaks, scattered so equally over the forest, there is brought out a more brilliant redness than I had believed was in them. Every tree of this species which is visible in those directions, even to the horizon, now stands out distinctly red. Some great ones lift their red backs high above the woods, in the next town, like huge roses with a myriad of fine petals; and some more slender ones, in a small grove of White Pines on Pine Hill in the east, on the very verge of the horizon, alternating with the Pines on the edge of the grove, and shouldering them with their red coats, look like soldiers in red amid hunters in green. This time it is Lincoln green, too. Till the sun got low, I did not believe that there were so many redcoats in the forest army. Theirs is an intense burning red, which would lose some of its strength, methinks, with every step you might take toward them; for the shade that lurks amid their foliage does not report itself at this distance, and they are unanimously red. The focus of their reflected color is in the atmosphere far on this side. Every such tree becomes a nucleus of red, as it were, where, with the declining sun, that color grows and glows. It is partly borrowed fire, gathering strength from the sun on its way to your eye. It has only some comparatively dull red leaves for a rallying-point, or kindling-stuff, to start it, and it becomes an intense scarlet or red mist, or fire, which finds fuel for itself in the very atmosphere. So vivacious is redness. The very rails reflect a rosy light at this hour and season. You see a redder tree than exists.
If you wish to count the Scarlet Oaks, do it now. In a clear day stand thus on a hill-top in the woods, when the sun is an hour high, and every one within range of your vision, excepting in the west, will be revealed. You might live to the age of Methuselah and never find a tithe of them, otherwise. Yet sometimes even in a dark day I have thought them as bright as I ever saw them. Looking westward, their colors are lost in a blaze of light; but in other directions the whole forest is a flower-garden, in which these late roses burn, alternating with green, while the so-called "gardeners," walking here and there, perchance, beneath, with spade and water-pot, see only a few little asters amid withered leaves.
These are my China-asters, my late garden-flowers. It costs me nothing for a gardener. The falling leaves, all over the forest, are protecting the roots of my plants. Only look at what is to be seen, and you will have garden enough, without deepening the soil in your yard. We have only to elevate our view a little, to see the whole forest as a garden. The blossoming of the Scarlet Oak,--the forest-flower, surpassing all in splendor (at least since the Maple)! I do not know but they interest me more than the Maples, they are so widely and equally dispersed throughout the forest; they are so hardy, a nobler tree on the whole;--our chief November flower, abiding the approach of winter with us, imparting warmth to early November prospects. It is remarkable that the latest bright color that is general should be this deep, dark scarlet and red, the intensest of colors. The ripest fruit of the year; like the cheek of a hard, glossy, red apple from the cold Isle of Orleans, which will not be mellow for eating till next spring! When I rise to a hill-top, a thousand of these great Oak roses, distributed on every side, as far as the horizon! I admire them four or five miles off! This my unfailing prospect for a fortnight past! This late forest-flower surpasses all that spring or summer could do. Their colors were but rare and dainty specks comparatively, (created for the nearsighted, who walk amid the humblest herbs and underwoods,) and made no impression on a distant eye. Now it is an extended forest or a mountain-side, through or along which we journey from day to day, that bursts into bloom. Comparatively, our gardening is on a petty scale,--the gardener still nursing a few asters amid dead weeds, ignorant of the gigantic asters and roses, which, as it were, overshadow him, and ask for none of his care. It is like a little red paint ground on a saucer, and held up against the sunset sky. Why not take more elevated and broader views, walk in the great garden, not skulk in a little "debauched" nook of it? consider the beauty of the forest, and not merely of a few impounded herbs?
Let your walks now be a little more adventurous; ascend the hills. If, about the last of October, you ascend any hill in the outskirts of our town, and probably of yours, and look over the forest, you may see--well, what I have endeavored to describe. All this you surely will see, and much more, if you are prepared to see it,--if you look for it. Otherwise, regular and universal as this phenomenon is, whether you stand on the hill-top or in the hollow, you will think for threescore years and ten that all the wood is, at this season, sear and brown. Objects are concealed from our view, not so much because they are out of the course of our visual ray as because we do not bring our minds and eyes to bear on them; for there is no power to see in the eye itself, any more than in any other jelly. We do not realize how far and widely, or how near and narrowly, we are to look. The greater part of the phenomena of Nature are for this reason concealed from us all our lives. The gardener sees only the gardener's garden. Here, too, as in political economy, the supply answers to the demand. Nature does not cast pearls before swine. There is just as much beauty visible to us in the landscape as we are prepared to appreciate,--not a grain more. The actual objects which one man will see from a particular hill-top are just as different from those which another will see as the beholders are different The Scarlet Oak must, in a sense, be in your eye when you go forth. We cannot see anything until we are possessed with the idea of it, take it into our heads,--and then we can hardly see anything else. In my botanical rambles, I find, that, first, the idea, or image, of a plant occupies my thoughts, though it may seem very foreign to this locality,--no nearer than Hudson's Bay,--and for some weeks or months I go thinking of it, and expecting it unconsciously, and at length I surely see it. This is the history of my finding a score or more of rare plants, which I could name. A man sees only what concerns him. A botanist absorbed in the study of grasses does not distinguish the grandest Pasture Oaks. He, as it were, tramples down Oaks unwittingly in his walk, or at most sees only their shadows. I have found that it required a different intention of the eye, in the same locality, to see different plants, even when they were closely allied, as Juncaceoe and Gramineoe: when I was looking for the former, I did not see the latter in the midst of them. How much more, then, it requires different intentions of the eye and of the mind to attend to different departments of knowledge! How differently the poet and the naturalist look at objects!
Take a New-England selectman, and set him on the highest of our hills, and tell him to look,--sharpening his sight to the utmost, and putting on the glasses that suit him best, (ay, using a spy-glass, if he likes,)--and make a full report. What, probably, will he spy?--what will he select to look at? Of course, he will see a Brocken spectre of himself. He will see several meeting-houses, at least, and, perhaps, that somebody ought to be assessed higher than he is, since he has so handsome a wood-lot. Now take Julius Caesar, or Immanuel Swedenborg, or a Fegee-Islander, and set him up there. Or suppose all together, and let them compare notes afterward. Will it appear that they have enjoyed the same prospect? What they will see will be as different as Rome was from Heaven or Hell, or the last from the Fegee Islands. For aught we know, as strange a man as any of these is always at our elbow.
Why, it takes a sharp-shooter to bring down even such trivial game as snipes and woodcocks; he must take very particular aim, and know what he is aiming at. He would stand a very small chance, if he fired at random into the sky, being told that snipes were flying there. And so is it with him that shoots at beauty; though he wait till the sky falls, he will not bag any, if he does not already know its seasons and haunts, and the color of its wing,--if he has not dreamed of it, so that he can anticipate it; then, indeed, he flushes it at every step, shoots double and on the wing, with both barrels, even in cornfields. The sportsman trains himself, dresses and watches unweariedly, and loads and primes for his particular game. He prays for it, and offers sacrifices, and so he gets it. After due and long preparation, schooling his eye and hand, dreaming awake and asleep, with gun and paddle and boat he goes out after meadow-hens, which most of his townsmen never saw nor dreamed of, and paddles for miles against a headwind, and wades in water up to his knees, being out all day without his dinner, and therefore he gets them. He had them half-way into his bag when he started, and has only to shove them down. The true sportsman can shoot you almost any of his game from his windows: what else has he windows or eyes for? It comes and perches at last on the barrel of his gun; but the rest of the world never see it with the feathers on. The geese fly exactly under his zenith, and honk when they get there, and he will keep himself supplied by firing up his chimney; twenty musquash have the refusal of each one of his traps before it is empty. If he lives, and his game-spirit increases, heaven and earth shall fail him sooner than game; and when he dies, he will go to more extensive, and, perchance, happier hunting-grounds. The fisherman, too, dreams of fish, sees a bobbing cork in his dreams, till he can almost catch them in his sink-spout. I knew a girl who, being sent to pick huckleberries, picked wild gooseberries by the quart, where no one else knew that there were any, because she was accustomed to pick them up country where she came from. The astronomer knows where to go star-gathering, and sees one clearly in his mind before any have seen it with a glass. The hen scratches and finds her food right under where she stands; but such is not the way with the hawk.
These bright leaves which I have mentioned are not the exception, but the rule; for I believe that all leaves, even grasses and mosses, acquire brighter colors just before their fall. When you come to observe faithfully the changes of each humblest plant, you find that each has, sooner or later, its peculiar autumnal tint; and if you undertake to make a complete list of the bright tints, it will be nearly as long as a catalogue of the plants in your vicinity.
It was late. Palmer, unhitching his horse from the fence, mounted and rode briskly down the hill. He would lose the girl: saw the loss, faced it. Besides the love he bore her, she had made God a truth to him. He was jaded, defeated, as if some power outside of himself had taken him unexpectedly at advantage to-night, and wrung this thing from him. Life was not much to look forward to,--the stretch it had been before: study, and the war, and hard common sense,--the theatre,--card-playing. Not being a man, I cannot tell you how much his loss amounted to. I know, going down the rutted wagon-road, his mild face fell slowly into a haggard vacancy foreign to it: one or two people at the tavern where he stopped asked him if he were ill: I think, too, that he prayed once or twice to whatever God he had, looking up with dry eye and shut lips,--dumb prayers, wrung out of some depth within, such as Christian sent out of the slough, when he was like to die. But he did stop at the tavern, and there drank some brandy to steady his nerves; and he did not forget that there was an ambuscade of Rebels at Blue's Gap, and that he was to share in the attack on them at daylight: he spurred his horse, as he drew nearer Romney. Dode, being a woman, thinking love lost, sat by the fire, looking vacantly at nothing. Yet the loss was as costly to him as to her, and would be remembered as long.
He came up to the church where the meeting had been held. It was just over; the crowded room was stifling with the smoke of tobacco and tallow-candles; there was an American flag hanging over the pulpit, a man pounding on a drum at the door, and a swarm of loafers on the steps, cheering for the Union, for Jeff Davis, etc. Palmer dismounted, and made his way to the pulpit, where Dyke, a lieutenant in his company, was.
"All ready, Dyke?"
"All right, Capt'n."
Palmer lingered, listening to the talk of the men. Dyke had been an Ohio-River pilot; after the troubles began, had taken a pork-contract under Government; but was lieutenant now, as I said. It paid better than pork, he told Palmer,--a commission, especially in damp weather. Palmer did not sneer. Dykes, North and South, had quit the hog-killing for the man-killing business, with no other motive than the percentage, he knew; but he thought the rottenness lay lower than their hearts. Palmer stood looking down at the crowd: the poorer class of laborers,--their limbs cased in shaggy blouses and green baize leggings,--their faces dogged, anxious as their own oxen.
"'Bout half on 'em Secesh," whispered Jim Dyke. "'T depends on who burned their barns fust."
Jim was recruiting to fill up some vacancies in Palmer's company. He had been tolerably successful that day; as he said, with a wink, to the Captain,--
"The twenty dollars a month on one side, an' the test-oath on t' other, brought loyalty up to the scratch."
He presented some of the recruits to Palmer: pluming himself, adjusting the bogus chains over his pink shirt.
"Hyur's Squire Pratt. Got two sons in th' army,--goin' hisself. That's the talk! Charley Orr, show yerself! This boy's father was shot in his bed by the Bushwhackers."
A mere boy, thin, consumptive, hollow-chested: a mother's-boy, Palmer saw, with fair hair and dreamy eyes. He held out his hand to him.
"Charley will fight for something better than revenge. I see it in his face."
The little fellow's eyes flashed.
He watched Palmer after that with the look one of the Cavaliers might have turned to a Stuart. But he began to cough presently, and slipped back to the benches where the women were. Palmer heard one of them in rusty black sob out,--"Oh, Charley! Charley!"
There was not much enthusiasm among the women; Palmer looked at them with a dreary trail of thought in his brain. They were of the raw, unclarified American type: thick-blooded, shrewish, with dish-shaped faces, inelastic limbs. They had taken the war into their whole strength, like their sisters, North and South: as women greedily do anything that promises to be an outlet for what power of brain, heart, or animal fervor they may have, over what is needed for wifehood or maternity. Theodora, he thought, angrily, looked at the war as these women did, had no poetic enthusiasm about it, did not grasp the grand abstract theory on either side. She would not accept it as a fiery, chivalric cause, as the Abolitionist did, nor as a stern necessity, like the Union-saver. The sickly Louisianian, following her son from Pickens to Richmond, besieging God for vengeance with the mad impatience of her blood, or the Puritan mother praying beside her dead hero-boy, would have called Dode cowardly and dull. So would those blue-eyed, gushing girls who lift the cup of blood to their lips with as fervid an abandon as ever did French bacchante. Palmer despised them. Their sleazy lives had wanted color and substance, and they found it in a cant of patriotism, in illuminating their windows after slaughter, in dressing their tables with helmets of sugar, (after the fashion of the White House,)--delicate souvenirs de la guerre!
But Theodora and these women had seen their door-posts slopped with blood,--that made a difference. This woman in front had found her boy's half-charred body left tied to a tree by Rebel scouts: this girl was the grandchild of Naylor, a man of seventy,--the Federal soldiers were fired at from his house one day,--the next, the old man stood dumb upon its threshold; in this world, he never would call to God for vengeance. Palmer knew these things were true. Yet Dode should not for this sink to low notions about the war. She did: she talked plain Saxon of it, and what it made of men; said no cause could sanctify a deed so vile,--nothing could be holy which turned honest men into thieves and assassins. Her notions were low to degradation, Palmer thought, with the quickening cause at his heart; they had talked of it the last time he was here. She thought they struck bottom on some eternal truth, a humanity broader than patriotism. Pah! he sickened at such whining cant! The little Captain was common-sensed to the backbone,--intolerant. He was an American, with the native taint of American conceit, but he was a man whose look was as true as his oath; therefore, talking of the war, he never glossed it over,--showed its worst phases, in Virginia and Missouri; but he accepted it, in all its horror, as a savage necessity. It was a thing that must be, while men were men, and not angels.
While he stood looking at the crowd, Nabbes, a reporter for one of the New-York papers, who was lounging in the pulpit, began to laugh at him.
"I say, Captain, you Virginia Loyalists don't go into this war with vim. It's a bitter job to you."
Palmer's face reddened.
"What you say is true, thank God,"--quietly.
Nabbes stuck his hands into his pockets, whistling. He shrewdly suspected Palmer wasn't "sound." No patriot would go into the war with such a miserable phiz as that. Yet he fought like a tiger up in the mountains. Of course, the war was a bad business,--and the taxes--whew! Last summer things were smashed generally, and when Will (his brother) sailed in Sherman's expedition, it was a blue day enough: how his mother and the girls did carry on! (Nabbes and Will supported the family, by the way; and Nabbes, inside of his slang, billiards, etc., was a good, soft-hearted fellow.) However, the country was looking up now. There were our victories,--and his own salary was raised. Will was snug down at Port Royal,--sent the girls home some confoundedly pretty jewelry; they were as busy as bees, knitting socks, and--What, the Devil! were we to be ridden over rough-shod by Davis and his crew? Northern brain and muscle were toughest, and let water find its own level. So he tore out a fly-leaf from the big Bible, and jotted down notes of the meeting,--"An outpouring of the loyal heart of West Virginia,"--and yawned, ready for bed, contented with the world, himself, and God.
Dyke touched Palmer's arm.
"Lor', Capt'n," he whispered, "ef thar a'n't old Scofield! 'n the back o' th' house, watchin' you. Son killed at Manassas,--George,--d' ye know?"
"Danged ef I don't respect Secesh like them," broke out Dyke. "Ye'll not sin his soul with a test-oath. Thar's grit thar. Well, God help us!"
Palmer stepped down from the pulpit; but the old man, seeing him coming, turned and shouldered his way out of the crowd, his haggard face blood-red.
"What'll the old chap say to Gaunt's enlistin'?" said Dyke.
"Gaunt in? Bully for the parson!" said Squire Pratt.
"Parson 'listed?" said the reporter. "They and the women led off in this war. I'm glad of it,--brings out the pith in 'em."
"I dunno," said Dyke, looking round. "Gaunt's name brought in a dozen; but----It's a dirty business, the war. I wish 'n somebody's hands hed stayed clean of it."
"It's the Lord's work," said Pratt, with a twang, being a class-leader.
"Ye-s? So 'ud Bishop Polk say. Got a different Lord down thar? 'S likely. Henry Wise used to talk of the 'God of Virginia.'"
"Was a fellow," said Nabbes, nursing one foot, "that set me easy about my soul, and the thing. A chaplain in Congress: after we took down that bitter Mason--and--Slidell pill, it was. Prayed to Jesus to keep us safe until our vengeance on England was ripe,--to 'aid us through the patient watch and vigil long of him who treasures up a wrong.' Old boy, thinks I, if that's Christianity, it's cheap. I'll take stock in it. Going at half-price, I think."
"I am tired of this cant of Christians refusing to join in the war," said Palmer, impatiently. "God allows it; it helps His plans."
"Humph! So did Judas," muttered Dyke, shrewdly. "Well, I a'n't a purfessor myself.--Boys, come along! Drum-call time. You're in luck. We'll have work afore mornin',--an' darned ef you sha'n't be in it, in spite of rules!"
When the recruits went out, the meeting broke up. Palmer put on his hat, and made his way out of a side-door into the snow-covered field about the church, glancing at his watch as he went. He had but little time to spare. The Federal camp lay on a distant hill-side below Romney: through the dim winter shadows he could see points of light shifting from tent to tent; a single bugle-call had shrilled through the mountains once or twice; the regiments ordered for the attack were under arms now, he concluded. They had a long march before them: the Gap, where the Confederate band were concealed, lay sixteen miles distant. Unless the Union troops succeeded in surprising the Rebels, the fight, Palmer knew, would be desperate; the position they held was almost impregnable, --camped behind a steep gash in the mountain: a handful of men could hold it against Dunning's whole brigade, unshielded, bare. A surprise was almost impossible in these mountains, where Rebel guerrillas lurked behind every tree, and every woman in the village-shanties was ready to risk limbs or life as a Rebel spy. Thus far, however, he thought this movement had been kept secret: even the men did not know where they were going.
Crossing the field hurriedly, he saw two men talking eagerly behind a thorn-bush. One of them, turning, came towards him, his hat slouched over his face. It was Scofield. As he came into the clear starlight, Palmer recognized the thick-set, sluggish figure and haggard face, and waited for him,--with a quick remembrance of long summer days, when he and George, boys together, had looked on this man as the wisest and strongest, sitting at his side digging worms or making yellow flies for him to fish in the Big Cacapon,--how they would have the delicate broiled trout for supper,--how Dode was a chubby little puss then, with white apron and big brown eyes, choosing to sit on his lap when they went to the table, and putting her hand slyly into his coffee. An odd thing to think of then and there! George lay stiff now, with a wooden board only at his head to tell that he once lived. The thoughts struck through Palmer's brain in the waiting moment, making his hand unsteady as he held it out to the old man.
"Uncle Scofield! Is the war to come between you and me? For George's sake! I saw him at Harper's Ferry before--before Manassas. We were no less friends then than ever before."
The old man's eyes had glared defiance at Palmer under their gray brows when he faced him, but his big bony hand kept fumbling nervously with his cravat.
"Yes, Dougl's. I didn't want to meet yer. Red an' white's my colors,--red an' white, so help me God!"
"I know," said Palmer, quietly.
There was a silence,--the men looking steadily at each other.
"Ye saw George?" the old man said, his eyes falling.
"Yes. At Harper's Ferry. I was making my way through the Confederate lines; George took me over, risking his own life to do it, then reported himself under arrest. He did not lose his commission; your general was just"----
Scofield's face worked.
"That was like my boy! Thar's not a grandfather he hes in the country whar he's gone to that would believe one of our blood could do a mean thing! The Scofields ar'n't well larned, but they've true honor, Dougl's Palmer!"
Palmer's eyes lighted. Men of the old lion-breed know each other in spite of dress or heirship of opinion.
"Ye've been to th' house to-night, boy?" said the old man, his voice softened. "Yes? That was right. Ye've truer notions nor me. I went away so 's not till meet yer. I'm sorry for it. George's gone, Dougl's, but he'd be glad till think you an' me was the same as ever,--he would!" He held out his hand. Something worthy the name of man in each met in the grasp, that no blood spilled could foul or embitter. They walked across the field together, the old man leaning his hand on Palmer's shoulder as if for support, though he did not need it. He had been used to walk so with George. This was his boy's friend: that thought filled and warmed his heart so utterly that he forgot his hand rested on a Federal uniform. Palmer was strangely silent.
"I saw Theodora," he said at last, gravely.
Scofield started at the tone, looked at him keenly, some new thought breaking in on him, frightening, troubling him. He did not answer; they crossed the broad field, coming at last to the hill-road. The old man spoke at last, with an effort.
"You an' my little girl are friends, did you mean, Dougl's? The war didn't come between ye?"
"Nothing shall come between us,"--quietly, his eye full upon the old man's. The story of a life lay in the look.
Scofield met it questioningly, almost solemnly. It was no time for explanation. He pushed his trembling hand through his stubby gray hair.
"Well, well, Dougl's. These days is harrd. But it'll come right! God knows all."
The road was empty now,--lay narrow and bare down the hill; the moon had set, and the snow-clouds were graying heavily the pale light above. Only the sharp call of a discordant trumpet broke the solitude and dumbness of the hills. A lonesome, foreboding night. The old man rested his hand on the fence, choking down an uncertain groan now and then, digging into the snow with his foot, while Palmer watched him.
"I must bid yer good-bye, Dougl's," he said at last. "I've a long tramp afore me to-night. Mebbe worse. Mayhap I mayn't see you agin; men can't hev a grip on the next hour, these days. I'm glad we 're friends. Whatever comes afore mornin', I'm glad o' that!"
"Have you no more to say to me?"
"Yes, Dougl's,--'s for my little girl,--ef so be as I should foller my boy sometime, I'd wish you'd be friends to Dode, Dougl's. Yes! I would,"--hesitating, something wet oozing from his small black eye, and losing itself in the snuffy wrinkles.
Palmer was touched. It was a hard struggle with pain that had wrung out that tear. The old man held his hand a minute, then turned to the road.
"Whichever of us sees Geordy first kin tell him t' other's livin' a true-grit honest life, call him Yankee or Virginian,--an' that's enough said! So good bye, Dougl's!"
Palmer mounted his horse and galloped off to the camp, the old man plodding steadily down the road. When the echo of the horse's hoofs had ceased, a lean gangling figure came from out of the field-brush, and met him.
"Why, David boy! whar were ye to-night?" Scofield's voice had grown strangely tender in the last hour.
Gaunt hesitated. He had not the moral courage to tell the old man he had enlisted.
"I waited. I must air the church,--it is polluted with foul smells."
Scofield laughed to himself at David's "whimsey," but he halted, going with the young man as he strode across the field. He had a dull foreboding of the end of the night's battle: before he went to it, he clung with a womanish affection to anything belonging to his home, as this Gaunt did. He had not thought the poor young man was so dear to him, until now, as he jogged along beside him, thinking that before morning he might be lying dead at the Gap. How many people would care? David would, and Dode, and old Bone.
Gaunt hurried in,--he ought to be in camp, but he could not leave the
house of God polluted all night,--opening the windows, even carrying the
flag outside. The emblem of freedom, of course,--but----He hardly knew
why he did it. There were flags on every Methodist chapel, almost: the
sect had thrown itself into the war con amore. But Gaunt had fallen
into that sect by mistake; his animal nature was too weak for it: as for
his feeling about the church, he had just that faint shade of Pantheism innate in him that would have made a good Episcopalian. The planks of the floor were more to him than other planks; something else than sunshine had often shone in to him through the little panes,--he touched them gently; he walked softly over the rag-carpet on the aisle. The LORD was in His holy temple. With another thought close behind that, of the time when the church was built, more than a year ago; what a happy, almost jolly time they had, the members giving the timber, and making a sort of frolic of putting it up, in the afternoons after harvest. They were all in one army or the other now: some of them in Blue's Gap. He would help ferret them out in the morning. He shivered, with the old doubt tugging fiercely at his heart. Was he right? The war was one of God's great judgments, but was it his place to be in it? It was too late to question now.
He went up into the pulpit, taking out the Bible that lay on the shelf, lighting a candle, glancing uneasily at the old man on the steps. He never had feared to meet his eye before. He turned to the fly-leaf, holding it to the candle. What odd fancy made him want to read the uncouth, blotted words written there? He knew them well enough. "To my Dear frend, David Gaunt. May, 1860. the Lord be Betwien mee And thee. J. Scofield." It was two years since he had given it to Gaunt, just after George had been so ill with cholera, and David had nursed him through with it. Gaunt fancied that nursing had made the hearts of both son and father more tender than all his sermons. He used to pray with them in the evenings as George grew better, hardly able to keep from weeping like a woman, for George was very dear to him. Afterwards the old man came to church more regularly, and George had quit swearing, and given up card-playing. He remembered the evening when the old man gave him the Bible. He had been down in Wheeling, and when he came home brought it out to Gaunt in the old corn-field, wrapped up in his best red bandanna handkerchief,--his face growing red and pale. "It's the Book, David. I thort ef you'd use this one till preach from. Mayhap it wouldn't be right till take it from a sinner like me, but--I thort I'd like it, somehow,"--showing him the fly-leaf. "I writ this,--ef it would be true,--what I writ,--'The Lord he between me and thee'?"
Gaunt passed his fingers now over the misspelled words softly as he would stroke a dead face. Then he came out, putting out the candle, and buttoning the Bible inside of his coat.
Scofield waited for him on the steps. Some trouble was in the old fellow's face, Gaunt thought, which he could not fathom. His coarse voice choked every now and then, and his eyes looked as though he never hoped to see the church or Gaunt again.
"Heh, David!" with a silly laugh. "You'll think me humorsome, boy, but I hev an odd fancy."
He stopped abruptly.
"What is it?"
"It's lonesome here,"--looking around vaguely. "God seems near here on the hills, d' ye think? David, I'm goin' a bit out on the road to-night, an' life's uncertain these times. Whiles I think I might never be back to see Dode agin,--or you. David, you're nearer to Him than me; you brought me to Him, you know. S'pose,--you'll think me foolish now,--ef we said a bit prayer here afore I go; what d'ye think? Heh?"
Gaunt was startled. Somehow to-night he did not feel as if God was near on the hills, as Scofield thought.
"I will,"--hesitating. "Are you going to see Dode first, before you go?"
"Dode? Don't speak of her, boy! I'm sick! Kneel down an' pray,--the Lord's Prayer,--that's enough,--mother taught me that,"--baring his gray head, while Gaunt, his worn face turned to the sky, said the old words over. "Forgive," he muttered,--"resist not evil,"--some fragments vexing his brain. "Did He mean that? David boy? Did He mean His people to trust in God to right them as He did? Pah! times is different now,"--pulling his hat over his forehead to go. "Good bye, David!"
"Where are you going?"
"I don't mind tellin' you,--you'll keep it. Bone's bringin' a horse yonder to the road. I'm goin' to warn the boys to be ready, an' help 'em,--at the Gap, you know?"
"The Gap? Merciful God, no!" cried Gaunt. "Go back"----
The words stopped in his throat. What if he met this man there?
Scofield looked at him, bewildered.
"Thar's no danger," he said, calmly. "Yer nerves are weak. But yer love for me's true, David. That's sure,"--with a smile. "But I've got to warn the boys. Good bye,"--hesitating, his face growing red. "Ye'll mind, ef anything should happen,--what I writ in the Book,--once,--'The Lord be between me an' thee,' dead or alive? Them's good, friendly words. Good bye! God bless you, boy!"
Gaunt wrung his hand, and watched him as he turned to the road. He saw Bone meet him, leading a horse. As the old man mounted, he turned, and, seeing Gaunt, nodded cheerfully, and going down the hill began to whistle. "Ef I should never come back, he kin tell Dode I hed a light heart at th' last," he thought. But when he was out of hearing, the whistle stopped, and he put spurs to the horse.
Counting the hours, the minutes,--a turbid broil of thought in his brain, of Dode sitting alone, of George and his murderers, "stiffening his courage,"--right and wrong mixing each other inextricably together. If, now and then, a shadow crossed him of the meek Nazarene leaving this word to His followers, that, let the world do as it would, they should resist not evil, he thrust it back. It did not suit to-day. Hours passed. The night crept on towards morning, colder, stiller. Faint bars of gray fell on the stretch of hill-tops, broad and pallid. The shaggy peaks blanched whiter in it. You could hear from the road-bushes the chirp of a snow-bird, wakened by the tramp of his horse, or the flutter of its wings. Overhead, the stars disappeared, like flakes of fire going out; the sky came nearer, tinged with healthier blue. He could see the mountain where the Gap was, close at hand, but a few miles distant.
He had met no pickets: he believed the whole Confederate camp there was asleep. And behind him, on the road he had just passed, trailing up the side of a hill, was a wavering, stealthy line, creeping slowly nearer every minute,--the gray columns under Dunning. The old man struck the rowels into his horse,--the boys would be murdered in their sleep! The road was rutted deep: the horse, an old village hack, lumbered along, stumbling at every step. "Ef my old bones was what they used to be, I'd best trust them," he muttered. Another hour was over; there were but two miles before him to the Gap: but the old mare panted and balked at every ditch across the road. The Federal force was near; even the tap of their drum had ceased long since; their march was as silent as a tiger's spring. Close behind,--closer every minute! He pulled the rein savagely,--why could not the dumb brute know that life and death waited on her foot? The poor beast's eye lightened. She gathered her whole strength, sprang forward, struck upon a glaze of ice, and fell. The old man dragged himself out. "Poor old Jin! ye did what ye could!" he said. He was lamed by the fall. It was no time to think of that; he hobbled on, the cold drops of sweat oozing out on his face from pain. Reaching the bridge that crosses the stream there, he glanced back. He could not see the Federal troops, but he heard the dull march of their regiments,--like some giant's tread, slow, muffled in snow. Closer,--closer every minute! His heavy boots clogged with snow; the pain exhausted even his thick lungs,--they breathed heavily; he climbed the narrow ridge of ground that ran parallel with the road, and hurried on. Half an hour more, and he would save them!
A cold, stirless air: Gaunt panted in it. Was there ever night so silent? Following his lead, came the long column, a dark, even-moving mass, shirred with steel. Sometimes he could catch glimpses of some vivid point in the bulk: a hand, moving nervously to the sword's hilt; faces,--sensual, or vapid, or royal, side by side, but sharpened alike by a high purpose, with shut jaws, and keen, side-glancing eyes.
He was in advance of them, with one other man,--Dyke. Dyke took him, as knowing the country best, and being a trustworthy guide. So this was work! True work for a man. Marching hour after hour through the solitary night, he had time to think. Dyke talked to him but little: said once, "P'raps 't was as well the parsons had wakened up, and was mixin' with other folks. Gettin' into camp 'ud show 'em original sin, he guessed. Not but what this war-work brought out good in a man. Makes 'em, or breaks 'em, ginerally." And then was silent. Gaunt caught the words. Yes,--it was better preachers should lay off the prestige of the cloth, and rough it like their Master, face to face with men. There would be fewer despicable shams among them. But this?--clutching the loaded pistol in his hand. Thinking of Cromwell and Hedley Vicars. Freedom! It was a nobler cause than theirs. But a Face was before him, white, thorn-crowned, bent watchful over the world. He was sent of Jesus. To do what? Preach peace by murder? What said his Master? "That ye resist not evil." Bah! Palmer said the doctrine of nonresistance was whining cant. As long as human nature was the same, right and wrong would be left to the arbitrament of brute force. And yet--was not Christianity a diviner breath than this passing through the ages? "Ye are the light of the world." Even the "roughs" sneered at the fighting parsons. It was too late to think now. He pushed back his thin yellow hair, his homesick eyes wandering upwards, his mouth growing dry and parched.
They were nearing the mountain now. Dawn was coming. The gray sky heated and glowed into inner deeps of rose; the fresh morning air sprang from its warm nest somewhere, and came to meet them, like some one singing a heartsome song under his breath. The faces of the columns looked more rigid, paler, in the glow: men facing death have no time for fresh morning thoughts.
They were within a few rods of the Gap. As yet there was no sign of sentinel,--not even the click of a musket was heard. "They sleep like the dead," muttered Dyke. "We'll be on them in five minutes more." Gaunt, keeping step with him, pressing up the hill, shivered. He thought he saw blood on his hands. Why, this was work! His whole body throbbed as with one pulse. Behind him, a long way, came the column; his quickened nerves felt the slow beat of their tread, like the breathing of some great animal. Crouching in a stubble-field at the road-side he saw a negro,--a horse at a little distance. It was Bone; he had followed his master: the thought passing vaguely before him without meaning. On! on! The man beside him, with his head bent, his teeth clenched, the pupils of his eyes contracted, like a cat's nearing its prey. The road lay bare before them.
"Halt!" said Dyke. "Let them come up to us."
Gaunt stopped in his shambling gait.
"Look!" hissed Dyke,--"a spy!"--as the figure of a man climbed from a ditch where he had been concealed as he ran, and darted towards the rebel camp. "We'll miss them yet!"--firing after him with an oath. The pistol missed,--flashed in the pan. "Wet!"--dashing it on the ground. "Fire, Gaunt!--quick!"
The man looked round; he ran lamely,--a thick, burly figure, a haggard face. Gaunt's pistol fell. Dode's father! the only man that loved him!
"Damn you!" shouted Dyke, "are you going to shirk?"
Why, this was the work! Gaunt pulled the trigger; there was a blinding flash. The old man stood a moment on the ridge, the wind blowing his gray hair back, then staggered, and fell,--that was all.
The column, sweeping up on the double-quick, carried the young disciple of Jesus with them. The jaws of the Gap were before them,--the enemy. What difference, if he turned pale, and cried out weakly, looking back at the man that he had killed?
For a moment the silence was unbroken. The winter's dawn, with pink blushes, and restless soft sighs, was yet wakening into day. The next, the air was shattered with the thunder of the guns among the hills, shouts, curses, death-cries. The speech which this day was to utter in the years was the old vexed cry,--"How long, O Lord? how long?"
A fight, short, but desperate. Where-ever it was hottest, the men crowded after one leader, a small man, with a mild, quiet face,--Douglas Palmer. Fighting with a purpose: high,--the highest, he thought: to uphold his Government. His blows fell heavy and sure.
You know the end of the story. The Federal victory was complete. The Rebel forces were carried off prisoners to Romney. How many, on either side, were lost, as in every battle of our civil war, no one can tell: it is better, perhaps, we do not know.
The Federal column did not return in an unbroken mass as they went. There were wounded and dying among them; some vacant places. Besides, they had work to do on their road back: the Rebels had been sheltered in the farmers' houses near; the "nest must be cleaned out": every homestead but two from Romney to the Gap was laid in ashes. It was not a pleasant sight for the officers to see women and children flying half-naked and homeless through the snow, nor did they think it would strengthen the Union sentiment; but what could they do? As great atrocities as these were committed by the Rebels. The war, as Palmer said, was a savage necessity.
When the fight was nearly over, the horse which Palmer rode broke from the melee and rushed back to the road. His master did not guide him. His face was set, pale; there was a thin foam on his lips. He had felt a sabre-cut in his side in the first of the engagement, but had not heeded it: now, he was growing blind, reeling on the saddle. Every bound of the horse jarred him with pain. His sense was leaving him, he knew; he wondered dimly if he was dying. That was the end of it, was it? He hoped to God the Union cause would triumph. Theodora,--he wished Theodora and he had parted friends. The man fell heavily forward, and the horse, terrified to madness, sprang aside, on a shelving ledge on the road-side, the edge of a deep mountain-gully. It was only sand beneath the snow, and gave way as he touched it. The animal struggled frantically to regain his footing, but the whole mass slid, and horse and rider rolled senseless to the bottom. When the noon-sun struck its peering light that day down into the dark crevice, Palmer lay there, stiff and stark.
When the Federal troops had passed by that morning, Scofield felt some one lift him gently, where he had fallen. It was Bone.
"Don't yer try ter stan', Mars' Joe," he said. "I kin tote yer like a fedder. Lor' bress yer, dis is nuffin'. We'll hev yer roun' 'n no time,"--his face turning ash-colored as he talked, seeing how dark the stain was on the old man's waistcoat.
His master could not help chuckling even then.
"Bone," he gasped, "when will ye quit lyin'? Put me down, old fellow. Easy. I'm goin' fast."
Death did not take him unawares. He had thought all day it would end in this way. But he never knew who killed him,--I am glad of that.
Bone laid him on a pile of lumber behind some bushes. He could do little,--only held his big hand over the wound with all his force, having a vague notion he could so keep in life. He did not comprehend yet that his master was dying, enough to be sorry: he had a sort of pride in being nearest to Mars' Joe in a time like this,--in having him to himself. That was right: hadn't they always been together since they were boys and set rabbit-traps on the South-Branch Mountain? But there was a strange look in the old man's eyes Bone did not recognize,--a new and awful thought. Now and then the sharp crack of the musketry jarred him.
"Tink dem Yankees is gettin' de Debbil in de Gap," Bone said, consolingly. "Would yer like ter know how de fight is goin', Mars'?"
"What matters it?" mumbled the old man. "Them things is triflin', after all,--now,--now."
"Is dar anyting yer'd like me ter git, Mars' Joe?" said Bone, through his sobs.
The thought of the dying man was darkening fast; he began to mutter about Dode, and George at Harper's Ferry,--"Give Coly a warm mash to-night, Bone."
"O Lord!" cried the negro, "ef Mist' Dode was hyur! Him's goin', an' him's las' breff is given ter de beast! Mars' Joe," calling in his ear, "fur God's sake say um prayer!"
The man moved restlessly, half-conscious.
"I wish David was here,--to pray for me."
The negro gritted his teeth, choking down an oath.
"I wish,--I thort I'd die at home,--allays. That bed I've slep' in come thirty years. I wish I was in th' house."
His breath came heavy and at long intervals. Bone gave a crazed look toward the road, with a wild thought of picking his master up and carrying him home. But it was nearly over now. The old man's eyes were dull; they would never see Dode again. That very moment she stood watching for him on the porch, her face colorless from a sleepless night, thinking he had been at Romney, that every moment she would hear his "Hillo!" round the bend of the road. She did not know that could not be again. He lay now, his limbs stretched out, his grizzly old head in Bone's arms.
"Tell Dode I didn't fight. She'll be glad o' that. Thar's no blood on my hands." He fumbled at his pocket. "My pipe? Was it broke when I fell? Dody 'd like to keep it, mayhap. She allays lit it for me."
The moment's flash died down. He muttered once or twice, after that,--"Dode,"--and "Lord Jesus,"--and then his eyes shut. That was all.
They had buried her dead out of her sight. They had no time for mourning or funeral-making now. They only left her for a day alone to hide her head from all the world in the coarse old waistcoat, where the heart that had been so big and warm for her lay dead beneath,--to hug the cold, haggard face to her breast, and smooth the gray hair. She knew what the old man had been to her--now! There was not a homely way he had of showing his unutterable pride and love for his little girl that did not wring her very soul. She had always loved him; but she knew now how much warmer and brighter his rough life might have been, if she had chosen to make it so. There was not a cross word of hers, nor an angry look, that she did not remember with a bitterness that made her sick as death. If she could but know he forgave her! It was too late. She loathed herself, her coldness, her want of love to him,--to all the world. If she could only tell him she loved him, once more!--hiding her face in his breast, wishing she could lie there as cold and still as he, whispering, continually, "Father! Father!" Could he not hear? When they took him away, she did not cry nor faint. When trouble stabbed Dode to the quick, she was one of those people who do not ask for help, but go alone, like a hurt deer, until the wound heals or kills. This was a loss for life. Of course, this throbbing pain would grieve itself down; but in all the years to come no one would take just the place her old father had left vacant. Husband and child might be dearer, but she would never be "Dody" to any one again. She shut the loss up in her own heart. She never named him afterwards.
It was a cold winter's evening, that, after the funeral. The January wind came up with a sharp, dreary sough into the defiles of the hills, crusting over the snow-sweeps with a glaze of ice that glittered in the pearly sunlight, clear up the rugged peaks. There, at the edge of them, the snow fretted and arched and fell back in curling foam-waves with hints of delicate rose-bloom in their white shining. The trees, that had stood all winter bare and patient, lifting up their dumb arms in dreary supplication, suddenly, to-day, clothed themselves, every trunk and limb and twig, in flashing ice, that threw back into the gray air the royal greeting of a thousand splendid dyes, violet, amber, and crimson,--to show God they did not need to wait for summer days to praise Him. A cold afternoon: even the seeds hid in the mould down below the snow were chilled to the heart, and thought they surely could not live the winter out: the cows, when Bone went out drearily to feed them by himself, were watching the thin, frozen breath steaming from their nostrils with tears in their eyes, he thought.
A bleak, heartless day: coldest of all for Dode, lying on the floor of her little room. How wide and vacant the world looked to her! What could she do there? Why was she born? She must show her Master to others,--of course; but--she was alone: everybody she loved had been taken from her. She wished that she were dead. She lay there, trying to pray, now and then,--motionless, like some death in life; the gray sunlight looking in at her, in a wondering way. It was quite contented to be gray and cold, till summer came.
Out in the little kitchen, the day had warmed up wonderfully. Dode's Aunt Perrine, a widow of thirty years' standing, had come over to "see to things durin' this murnful affliction." As she had brought her hair-trunk and bonnet-box, it was probable her stay would be indefinite. Dode was conscious of her as she would be of an attack of nettle-rash. Mrs. Perrine and her usual burying-colleague, "Mis' Browst," had gotten up a snug supper of fried oysters, and between that and the fresh relish of horror from the funeral were in a high state of enjoyment.
Aunt Perrine, having officiated as chief mourner that very morning, was not disposed to bear her honors meekly.
"It was little Jane Browst knew of sorrer. With eight gells well married,--well married, Jane,--deny it, ef you can,--what can you know of my feelins this day? Hyur's Mahala's husband dead an' gone,--did you say tea or coffee, Jane?--Joseph Scofield, a good brother-in-law to me's lives, laid in the sod this day. You may well shake yer head! But who 'll take his place to me? Dode there's young an' 'll outgrow it. But it 's me that suffers the loss,"--with a fresh douse of tears, and a contemptuous shove of the oyster-plate to make room for her weeping head. "It's me that's the old 'n' withered trunk!"
Mis' Browst helped herself freely to the oysters just then.
"Not," said Aunt Perrine, with stern self-control, "that I don't submit, an' bear as a Christian ought."
She took the spoon again.
"'N' I could wish," severely, raising her voice, "'s all others could profit likewise by this dispensation. Them as is kerried off by tantrums, 'n' consorts with Papishers 'n' the Lord knows what, might see in this a judgment, ef they would."
Mis' Browst groaned in concert.
"Ye needn't girn that away, Jane Browst," whispered Aunt Perrine, emphatically. "Dode Scofield's a different guess sort of a gell from any Browst. Keep yer groans for yer own nest. Ef I improve the occasion while she's young an' tender, what's that to you? Look at home, you'd best, I say!"
Mis' Browst was a woman of resources and English pluck. She always came out best at last, though her hair was toffy-colored and her eyes a washed-out blue, and Aunt Perrine was of the color of a mild Indian. Two of Mis' Browst's sons-in-law had been "burned out" by the Yankees; another was in the Union army: these trump-cards of misery she did now so produce and flourish and weep over that she utterly routed the enemy, reduced her to stolid silence.
"Well, well," she muttered, getting breath. "We'll not talk of our individooal sorrers when affliction is general, Jane Browst. S'pose we hev Bone in, and hear the perticklers of the scrimmage at Blue's Gap. It's little time I've hed for news since,"--with a groan to close the subject finally.
Mis' Browst sighed an assent, drinking her coffee with a resigned gulp, with the firm conviction that the civil war had been designed for her especial trial and enlargement in Christian grace.
So Bone was called in from the cow-yard. His eyes were quite fiery, for the poor stupid fellow had been crying over the "warm mash" he was giving to Coly. "Him's las' words was referrin' ter yer, yer pore beast," he had said, snuffling out loud. He had stayed in the stables all day, "wishin' all ole she-cats was to home, an' him an' Mist' Dode could live in peace."
However, he was rather flattered at the possession of so important a story just now, and in obedience to Aunt Perrine's nod seated himself with dignity on the lowest step of the garret-stairs, holding carefully his old felt hat, which he had decorated with streaming weepers of crape.
Dode, pressing her hands to her ears, heard only the dull drone of their voices. She shut her eyes, sometimes, and tried to fancy that she was dreaming and would waken presently,--that she would hear her father rap on the window with his cowhide, and call, "Supper, Dody dear?"--that it was a dream that Douglas Palmer was gone forever, that she had put him away. Had she been right? God knew; she was not sure.
It grew darker; the gray afternoon was wearing away with keen gusts and fitful snow-falls. Dode looked up wearily: a sharp exclamation, rasped out by Aunt Perrine, roused her.
"Dead? Dougl's dead?"
"Done gone, Mist'. I forgot dat--ter tell yer. Had somefin' else ter tink of."
"Down in the gully?"
"Saw him lyin' dar as I went ter git Flynn's cart ter--ter bring Mars' Joe, yer know,--home. Gone dead. Like he's dar yit. Snow 'ud kiver him fast, an' de Yankees hedn't much leisure ter hunt up de missin',--yi! yi!"--with an attempt at a chuckle.
"Dougl's dead!" said Aunt Perrine. "Well!--in the midst of life--Yer not goin', Jane Browst? What's yer hurry, woman? You've but a step across the road. Stay to-night. Dode an' me'll be glad of yer company. It's better to come to the house of murnin' than the house of feastin', you know."
"You may be thankful you've a house to cover you, Ann Perrine, an'"----
"Yes,--I know. I'm resigned. But there's no affliction like death.--Bone, open the gate for Mis' Browst. Them hasps is needin' mendin', as I've often said to Joseph,--um!"
The women kissed each other as often as women do whose kisses are--cheap, and Mis' Browst set off down the road. Bone, turning to shut the gate, felt a cold hand on his arm.
"Gor-a'mighty! Mist' Dode, what is it?"
The figure standing in the snow wrapt in a blue cloak shook as he touched it. Was she, too, struck with death? Her eyes were burning, her face white and clammy.
"Where is he, Uncle Bone? where?"
The old man understood--all.
"Gone dead, darlin'."--holding her hand in his paw, tenderly. "Don't fret, chile! Down in de Tear-coat gully. Dead, chile, dead! Don't yer understan'?"
"He is not dead," she said, quietly. "Open the gate," pulling at the broken hasp.
"Fur de Lor's sake, Mist' Dode, come in 'n' bathe yer feet 'n' go to bed! Chile, yer crazy!"
Common sense, and a flash of something behind to give it effect, spoke out of Dode's brown eyes, just then.
"Go into the stable, and bring a horse after me. The cart is broken?"
"Yes, 'm. Dat cussed Ben"----
"Bring the horse,--and some brandy, Uncle Bone."
"Danged ef yer shall kill yerself! Chile, I tell yer he's dead. I'll call Mist' Perrine."
Her eyes were black now, for an instant; then they softened.
"He is not dead. Come, Uncle Bone. You're all the help I have, now."
The old man's flabby face worked. He did not say anything, but went into the stable, and presently came out, leading the horse, with fearful glances back at the windows. He soon overtook the girl going hurriedly down the road, and lifted her into the saddle.
"Chile! chile! yer kin make a fool of ole Bone, allays."
She did not speak; her face, with its straight-lidded eyes, turned to the mountain beyond which lay the Tear-coat gully. A fair face under its blue hood, even though white with pain,--an honorable face: the best a woman can know of pride and love in life spoke through it.
"Mist' Dode," whined Ben, submissively, "what are yer goin' ter do? Bring him home?"
"Fur de lub o' heben!"--stopping short. "A Yankee captain in de house, an' Jackson's men rampin' over de country like devils! Dey'll burn de place ter de groun', ef dey fin' him."
Bone groaned horribly, then went on doggedly. Fate was against him: his gray hairs were bound to go down with sorrow to the grave. He looked up at her wistfully, after a while.
"What'll Mist' Perrine say?" he asked.
Dode's face flushed scarlet. The winter mountain night, Jackson's army, she did not fear; but the staring malicious world in the face of Aunt Perrine did make her woman's heart blench.
"It doesn't matter," she said, her eyes full of tears. "I can't help that, Uncle Bone,"--putting her little hand on his shoulder, as he walked beside her. The child was so utterly alone, you know.
The road was lonely,--a mere mountain-path striking obliquely through the hills to the highway: darkening hills and sky and valleys strangely sinking into that desolate homesick mood of winter twilight. The sun was gone; one or two sad red shadows lay across the gray. Night would soon be here, and he lay stiff-cold beneath the snow. Not dead: her heart told her that imperiously from the first. But there was not one instant to lose.
"I cannot wait for you, Uncle Bone. I must go alone."
"Debbil de step! I'll take yer 'cross fields ter Gentry's, an' ride on myself."
"You could not find him. No one could find him but me."
Something possessed the girl, other than her common self. She pushed his hand gently from the reins, and left him. Bone wrung his hands.
"'N' de guerrillas,--'n' de rest o' de incarnate debbils!"
She knew that. Dode was no heroine,--a miserable coward. There was not a black stump of a tree by the road-side, nor the rustle of a squirrel in the trees, that did not make her heart jump and throb against her bodice. Her horse climbed the rocky path slowly. I told you the girl thought her Helper was alive, and very near. She did to-night. She thought He was beside her in this lonesome road, and knew she would be safe. She felt as if she could take hold of His very hand. It grew darker: the mountains of snow glowered wan like the dead kings in Hades; the sweeps of dark forests whispered some broken mysterious word, as she passed; sometimes, in a sudden opening, she could see on a far hill-side the red fires of a camp. She could not help the sick feeling in her throat, nor make her hand steady; but the more alone she was, the nearer He came,--the pale face of the Nazarene, who loved His mother and Mary, who took the little children in His arms before He blessed them. Nearer than ever before; so she was not afraid to tell Him, as she went, how she had suffered that day, and that she loved this man who lay dying under the snow: to ask that she might find him. A great gulf lay between them. Would He go with her, if she crossed it? She knew He would.
A strange peace came to the girl. She untied her hood and pushed it back, that her whole head might feel the still air. How pure it was! God was in it,--in all. The mountains, the sky, the armies yonder, her own heart, and his under the snow, rested in Him, like motes in the sunshine.
The moon, rising behind a bank of cloud, threw patches of light now and then across the path: the girl's head, as she rode through them, came into quick relief. No saint's face,--a very woman's, its pale, reserved beauty unstrung with pain, her bosom full of earthly love, but in her eyes that look which Mary must have given, when, after she thought her Lord was dead, He called her, "Mary!" and she, looking up, said, "Master!"
She had reached the highway at last. She could see where, some distance yet beyond, the gully struck black across the snow-covered fields. The road ran above it, zigzag along the hill-side. She thought, as her horse galloped up the path, she could see the very spot where Douglas was lying. Not dead,--she knew he was not dead! She came to it now. How deathly still it was! As she tied the horse to the fence, and climbed down the precipice through the snow, she was dimly conscious that the air was warmer, that the pure moonlight was about her, genial, hopeful. A startled snow-bird chirped to her, as she passed. Why, it was a happy promise! Why should it not be happy? He was not dead, and she had leave to come to him.
Yet, before she gained the level field, the pulse in her body was weak and sick, and her eyes were growing blind. She did not see him. Half covered by snow, she found his gray horse, dead, killed by the fall. Palmer was gone. The gully was covered with muddy ice; there was a split in it, and underneath, the black water curdled and frothed. Had he fallen there? Was that thing that rose and fell in the roots of the old willow his dead hand? There was a floating gleam of yellow in the water,--it looked like hair. Dode put her hand to her hot breast, shut her dry lips. He was not dead! God could not lie to her!
Stooping, she went over the ground again, an unbroken waste of white: until, close to the water's edge, she found the ginseng-weeds torn and trampled down. She never afterwards smelt their unclean, pungent odor, without a sudden pang of the smothered pain of this night coming back to her. She knelt, and found foot-marks,--one booted and spurred. She knew it: what was there he had touched that she did not know? He was alive: she did not cry out at this, or laugh, as her soul went up to God,--only thrust her hand deep into the snow where his foot had been, with a quick, fierce tenderness, blushing as she drew it back, as if she had forgotten herself, and from her heart caressed him. She heard a sound at the other side of a bend in the hill, a low drone, like somebody mumbling a hymn.
She pushed her way through the thicket: the moon did not shine there; there was a dark crevice in the hill, where some farmer's boy had built a shed. There was a fire in it, now, smouldering, as though whoever made it feared its red light would be seen by the distant pickets. Coming up to it, she stood in the door-way. Douglas Palmer lay on a heap of blankets on the ground: she could not see his face, for a lank, slothful figure was stooping over him, chafing his head. It was Gaunt. Dode went in, and knelt down beside the wounded man,--quietly: it seemed to her natural and right she should be there. Palmer's eyes were shut, his breathing heavy, uncertain; but his clothes were dried, and his side was bandaged.
"It was only a flesh-wound," said Gaunt, in his vague way,--"deep, though. I knew how to bind it. He'll live, Douglas will."
He did not seem surprised to see the girl. Nothing could be so bizarre in the world, that his cloudy, crotchety brain did not accept it, and make a commonplace matter out of it. It never occurred to him to wonder how she came there. He stood with folded arms, his bony shoulders bolstering up the board wall, watching her as she knelt, her hands on Palmer's pillow, but not touching him. Gaunt's lean face had a pitiful look, sometimes,--the look of the child he was in his heart,--hungry, wistful, as though he sought for something, which you might have, perhaps. He looked at Dode,--the child of the man that he had killed. She did not know that. When she came in, he thought of shaking hands with her, as he used to do. That could never be again,--never. The man that he had killed? Whatever that meant to him, his artist eye took keen note of Dode, as she knelt there, in spite of remorse or pain below: how her noble, delicate head rose from the coarse blue drapery, the dark rings of her curling hair, the pale, clear-cut face, the burning lips, the eyes whose earthly soul was for the man who lay there. He knew that, yet he never loved her so fiercely as now,--now, when her father's blood lay between them.
"Did you find him?" she asked, without looking up. "I ought to have done it. I wish I had done that. I wish I had given him his life. It was my right."
One would think she was talking in her sleep.
"Why was it your right?" he asked, quietly.
"Because I loved him."
Gaunt raised his hand to his head suddenly.
"Did you, Dode? I had a better right than that. Because I hated him."
"He never harmed you, David Gaunt,"--with as proud composure as that with which a Roman wife would defend her lord.
"I saved his life. Dode, I'm trying to do right: God knows I am. But I hated him; he took from me the only thing that would have loved me."
She looked up timidly, her face growing crimson.
"I never would have loved you, David."
"No? I'm sorry you told me that, Dode."
That was all he said. He helped her gently, as she arranged the carpets and old blanket under the wounded man; then he went out into the fresh air, saying he did not feel well. She was glad that he was gone; Palmer moved uneasily; she wanted his first look all to herself. She pushed back his fair hair: what a broad, melancholy forehead lay under it! The man wanted something to believe in,--a God in life: you could see that in his face. She was to bring it to him: she could not keep the tears back to think that this was so. The next minute she laughed in her childish fashion, as she put the brandy to his lips, and the color came to his face. He had been physician before; now it was her turn to master and rule. He looked up at last, into her eyes, bewildered,--his face struggling to gather sense, distinctness. When he spoke, though, it was in his quiet old voice.
"I have been asleep. Where is Gaunt? He dressed my side."
"He is out, sitting on the hill-side."
"And you are here, Theodora?"
He was silent. He was weak from loss of blood, but his thoughts were sharp, clear as never before. The years that were gone of his life seemed clogged into one bulk; how hungry they had been, hard, cruel! He never had felt it as now, while he lay helpless, his sultry look reading the woman's eyes bent on his. They were pure and restful; love and home waited in them; something beyond,--a peace he could not yet comprehend. But this life was not for him,--he remembered that; the girl was nothing to him now: he was not fool enough to taunt himself with false hopes. She came there out of pity: any woman would do as much for a wounded man. He would never fool himself to be so balked again. The loss cut too deep. So he forced his face to be cool and critical, while poor Dode waited, innocently wondering that he did not welcome her, pity her now that her father was dead, forgetting that he knew nothing of that. For him, he looked at the fire, wondering if the Rebel scouts could see it,--thinking it would not be many days before Lander would dislodge Jackson,--trying to think of anything rather than himself, and the beautiful woman kneeling there.
Her eyes filled with tears at last, when he did not speak, and she turned away. The blood rushed to Palmer's face: surely that was more than pity! But he would not tempt her,--he would never vex her soul as he had done before: if she had come to him, as a sister might, because she thought he was dying, he would not taunt her with the old love she had for him.
"I think I can stand up," he said, cheerfully; "lend me your arm, Theodora."
Dode's arm was strong-nerved as well as fair; she helped him rise, and stood beside him as he went to the door, for he walked unsteadily. He took his hand from her shoulder instantly,--did not look at her: followed with his eye the black line of the fretted hills, the glimmer of the distant watch-fires. The path to the West lay through the Rebel camps.
"It is a long trail out of danger," he said, smiling.
"You are going? I thought you needed rest."
Calm, icy enough now: he was indifferent to her. She knew how to keep the pain down until he was gone.
"Rest? Yes. Where did you mean I should find it?"--facing her, sudden and keen. "Where am I to be sheltered? In your home, Theodora?"
"I thought that. I see now that it was a foolish hope, Douglas."
"How did you hope it? What brought you here?"--his voice thick, tremulous with passion. "Were you going to take me in as a Sister of Charity might some wounded dog? Are pity and gratitude all that is left between you and me?"
She did not answer,--her face pale, unmoving in the moonlight, quietly turned to his. These mad heats did not touch her.
"You may be cold enough to palter with fire that has burned you, Theodora. I am not."
She did not speak.
"Sooner than have gone to you for sisterly help and comfort, such as you gave just now, I would have frozen in the snow, and been less cold. Unless you break down the bar you put between us, I never want to see your face again,--never, living or dead! I want no sham farce of friendship between us, benefits given or received: your hand touching mine as it might touch Bone's or David Gaunt's; your voice cooing in my ear as it did just now, cool and friendly. It maddened me. Rest can scarcely come from you to me, now."
"I understand you. I am to go back, then? It was a long road,--and cold, Douglas."
He stopped abruptly, looked at her steadily.
"Do not taunt me, child! I am a blunt man: what words say, they mean, to me. Do you love me, Theodora?"
She did not speak, drawn back from him in the opposite shadow of the door-way. He leaned forward, his breath coming hurried, low.
"Are you cold? See how shaggy this great cloak is,--is it wide enough for you and me? Will you come to me, Theodora?"
"I did come to you. Look! you put me back: 'There shall be no benefits given or received between us.'"
"How did you come?"--gravely, as a man should speak to a woman, childish trifling thrust aside. "How did you mean to take me home? As a pure, God-fearing woman should the man she loved? Into your heart, into your holiest thought? to gather strength from my strength, to make my power your power, your God my God? to be one with me? Was it so you came?"
He waited a minute. How cold and lonely the night was! How near rest and home came to him in this woman standing there! Would he lose them? One moment more would tell. When he spoke again, his voice was lower, feeble.
"There is a great gulf between you and me, Theodora. I know that. Will you cross it? Will you come to me?"
She came to him. He gathered her into his arms as he might a little child, never to be cold again; he felt her full heart throb passionately against his own; he took from her burning lips the first pure, womanly kiss: she was all his. But when she turned her head, there was a quick upward glance of her eyes, he knew not whether of appeal or thanks. There was a Something in the world more near and real to her than he; he loved her the better for it: yet until he found that Unknown God, they were not one.
It was an uncertain step broke the silence, cracking the crusted snow.
"Why, Gaunt!" said Palmer, "what are you doing in the cold? Come to the fire, boy!"
He could afford to speak cordially, heartily, out of the great warmth in big own breast. Theodora was heaping shavings on the ashes. Gaunt took them from her.
"Let me do it," he muttered. "I'd like to make your whole life warm, Dode,--your life, and--any one's you love."
Dode's face flushed with a happy smile. Even David never would think of her as alone again. Poor David! She never before had thought how guileless he was,--how pitiful and solitary his life.
"Come home with us," she said, eagerly, holding out her hand.
He drew back, wiping the sweat from his face.
"You cannot see what is on my hand. I can't touch you, Dode. Never again. Let me alone."
"She is right, Gaunt," said Palmer. "You stay here at the risk of your life. Come to the house. Theodora can hide us; and if they discover us, we can protect her together."
Gaunt smiled faintly.
"I must make my way to Springfield to-morrow. My work is there,--my new work, Palmer."
Palmer looked troubled.
"I wish you had not taken it up. This war may be needed to conquer a way for the day of peace and good-will among men; but you, who profess to be a seer and actor in that day, have only one work: to make it real to us now on earth, as your Master did, in the old time."
Gaunt did not speak,--fumbled among the chips at the fire. He raised himself at last.
"I'm trying to do what's right," he said, in a subdued voice. "I haven't had a pleasant life,--but it will come right at last, maybe."
"It will come right, David!" said the girl.
"Are you going now, Gaunt?" asked Palmer, seeing him button his thin coat. "Take my blanket,--nay, you shall. As soon as I am strong enough, I'll find you at Springfield."
He wished he could hearten the poor unnerved soul, somehow.
Gaunt stopped outside, looking at them,--some uncertain thought coming and going in his face.
"I'll speak it out, whatever you may think. Dode, I've done you a deadly hurt. Don't ask me what it is,--God knows. I'd like, before I go, to show you I love you in a pure, honorable way, you and your husband"----
The words choked in his throat; he stopped abruptly.
"Whatever you do, it will be honorable, David," said Palmer, gently.
"I think--God might take it as expiation,"--holding his hand to his head.
He did not speak again for a little while, then he said,----
"I will never see these old Virginian hills again. I am going West; they will let me nurse in one of the hospitals;--that will be better than this that is on my hand."
Whatever intolerable pain lay in these words, he smothered it down, kept his voice steady.
"Do you understand, Douglas Palmer? I will never see you again. Nor Dode. You love this woman; so did I,--as well as you. Let me make her your wife before I go,--here, under this sky, with God looking down on us. Will you? I shall be happier to know that I have done it."
He waited while Douglas spoke eagerly to the girl, and then said,----
"Theodora, for God's sake don't refuse! I have hurt you,--the marks of it you and I will carry to the grave. Let me think you forgive me before I go. Grant me this one request."
Did she guess the hurt he had done her? Through all her fright and blushes, the woman in her spoke out nobly.
"I do not wish to know how you have wronged me. Whatever it be, it was innocently done. God will forgive you, and I do. There shall be peace between us, David."
But she did not offer to touch his hand again: stood there, white and trembling.
"It shall be as you say," said Palmer.
So they were married, Douglas and Dode, in the wide winter night. A few short words, that struck the very depths of their being, to make them one: simple words, wrung out of the man's thin lips with what suffering only he knew.
"Those whom God hath joined together let no man put asunder." Thus he shut himself out from her forever. But the prayer for a blessing on them came from as pure a heart as any child's that lives. He bade them good-bye, cheerfully, when he had finished, and turned away, but came back presently, and said good-night again, looking in their faces steadily, then took his solitary way across the hills. They never saw him again.
Bone, who had secured two horses by love or money or--confiscation, had stood mutely in the background, gulping down his opinion of this extraordinary scene. He did not offer it now, only suggested it was "high time to be movin'," and when he was left alone, trudging through the snow, contented himself with smoothing his felt hat, and a breathless, "Ef dis nigger on'y knew what Mist' Perrine would say!"
A June day. These old Virginia hills have sucked in the winter's ice and snow, and throbbed it out again for the blue heaven to see in a whole summer's wealth of trees quivering with the luxury of being, in wreathed mosses, and bedded fern: the very blood that fell on them speaks in fair, grateful flowers to Him who doeth all things well. Some healthy hearts, like the hills, you know, accept pain, and utter it again in fresher-blooded peace and life and love. The evening sunshine lingers on Dode's little house to-day; the brown walls have the same cheery whim in life as the soul of their mistress, and catch the last ray of light,--will not let it go. Bone, smoking his pipe at the garden-gate, looks at the house with drowsy complacency. He calls it all "Mist' Dode's snuggery," now: he does not know that the rich, full-toned vigor of her happiness is the germ of all this life and beauty. But he does know that the sun never seemed so warm, the air so pure, as this summer,--that about the quiet farm and homestead there is a genial atmosphere of peace: the wounded soldiers who come there often to be cured grow strong and calm in it; the war seems far-off to them; they have come somehow a step nearer the inner heaven. Bone rejoices in showing off the wonders of the place to them, in matching Coly's shiny sides against the "Government beastesses," in talking of the giant red beets, or crumpled green cauliflower, breaking the rich garden-mould. "Yer've no sich cherries nor taters nor raspberries as dem in de Norf, I'll bet!" Even the crimson trumpet-flower on the wall is "a Virginny creeper, Sah!" But Bone learns something from them in exchange. He does not boast so often now of being "ole Mars' Joe's man,"--sits and thinks profoundly, till he goes to sleep. "Not of leavin' yer, Mist' Dode, I know what free darkies is, up dar; but dar's somefin' in a fellah's 'longin' ter hisself, af'er all!" Dode only smiles at his deep cogitations, as he weeds the garden-beds, or fodders the stock. She is a half-Abolitionist herself, and then she knows her State will soon be free.
So Dode, with deeper-lit eyes, and fresher rose in her cheek, stands in the door this summer evening waiting for her husband. She cannot see him often; he has yet the work to do which he calls just and holy. But he is coming now. It is very quiet; she can hear her own heart beat slow and full; the warm air holds moveless the delicate scent of the clover; the bees hum her a drowsy good-night, as they pass; the locusts in the lindens have just begun to sing themselves to sleep; but the glowless crimson in the West holds her thought the longest. She loves, understands color: it speaks to her of the Day waiting just behind this. Her eyes fill with tears, she knows not why: her life seems rounded, complete, wrapt in a great peace; the grave at Manassas, and that planted with moss on the hill yonder, are in it; they only make her joy in living more tender and holy.
He has come now; stops to look at his wife's face, as though its fairness and meaning were new to him always. There is no look in her eyes he loves so well to see as that which tells her Master is near her. Sometimes she thinks he too----But she knows that "according to her faith it shall be unto her." They are alone to-night; even Bone is asleep. But in the midst of a crowd, they who love each other are alone together: as the first man and woman stood face to face in the great silent world, with God looking down, and only their love between them.
The same June evening lights the windows of a Western hospital. There is not a fresh meadow-scented breath it gives that does not bring to some sick brain a thought of home, in a New-England village, or a Georgia rice-field. The windows are open; the pure light creeping into poisoned rooms carries with it a Sabbath peace, they think. One man stops in his hurried work, and looking out, grows cool in its tranquil calm. So the sun used to set in old Virginia, he thinks. A tall, slab-sided man, in the dress of a hospital-nurse: a worn face, but quick, sensitive; the patients like it better than any other: it looks as if the man had buried great pain in his life, and come now into its Indian-summer days. The eyes are childish, eager, ready to laugh as cry,--the voice warm, chordant,--the touch of the hand unutterably tender.
A busy life, not one moment idle; but the man grows strong in it,--a healthy servant, doing a healthy work. The patients are glad when he comes to their ward in turn. How the windows open, and the fresh air comes in! how the lazy nurses find a masterful will over them! how full of innermost life he is! how real his God seems to him!
He looks from the window now, his thought having time to close upon himself. He holds up his busy, solitary life to God, with a happy smile. He goes back to that bitter past, shrinking; but he knows its meaning now. As the warm evening wanes into coolness and gray, the one unspoken pain of his life comes back, and whitens his cheerful face. There is blood on his hands. He sees the old man's gray hairs blown again by the wind, sees him stagger and fall. Gaunt covers his bony face with his hands, but he cannot shut it out. Yet he is learning to look back on even that with healthy, hopeful eyes. He reads over again each day the misspelled words in the Bible,--thinking that the old man's haggard face looks down on him with the old kindly, forgiving smile. What if his blood be on his hands? He looks up now through the gathering night, into the land where spirits wait for us, as one who meets a friend's face, saying,--
"Let it be true what you have writ,--'The Lord be between me and thee,' forever!"
"I will not longer
Loosen your hold on
Hand and on ringlet.
Girdle and garment;
Leave them: they're mine!"
"Bethink thee, bethink thee
To whom thou belongest!
Say, wouldst thou wound us,
Threefold the beauty,--
Mine, his, and thine?"
Nay, fold your arms, beloved Friends,
Above the hearts that vainly beat!
Or catch the rainbow where it bends,
And find your darling at its feet;
Or fix the fountain's varying shape,
The sunset-cloud's elusive dye,
The speech of winds that round the cape Make music to the sea and sky:
So may you summon from the air
The loveliness that vanished hence,
And Twilight give his beauteous hair,
And Morning give his countenance,
And Life about his being clasp
Her rosy girdle once again:--
But no! let go your stubborn grasp
On some wild hope, and take your pain!
For, through the crystal of your tears, His love and beauty fairer shine;
The shadows of advancing years
Draw back, and leave him all divine.
And Death, that took him, cannot claim The smallest vesture of his birth,-- The little life, a dancing flame
That hovered o'er the hills of earth,--
The finer soul, that unto ours
A subtle perfume seemed to be,
Like incense blown from April flowers
Beside the scarred and stormy tree,--
The wondering eyes, that ever saw
Some fleeting mystery in the air,
And felt the stars of evening draw
His heart to silence, childhood's prayer!
Our suns were all too fierce for him;
Our rude winds pierced him through and through; But Heaven has valleys cool and dim,
And boscage sweet with starry dew.
There knowledge breathes in balmy air, Not wrung, as here, with panting breast: The wisdom born of toil you share;
But he, the wisdom born of rest.
For every picture here that slept,
A living canvas is unrolled;
The silent harp he might have swept
Leans to his touch its strings of gold.
Believe, dear Friends, they murmur still Some sweet accord to those you play, That happier winds of Eden thrill
With echoes of the earthly lay;
That he, for every triumph won,
Whereto your poet-souls aspire,
Sees opening, in that perfect sun,
Another blossom's bud of fire!
Each song, of Love and Sorrow born,
Another flower to crown your boy,--
Each shadow here his ray of morn,
Till Grief shall clasp the hand of Joy!
Because our architecture is bad, and because the architecture of our forefathers in the Middle Ages was good, Mr. Ruskin and others seem to think there is no salvation for us until we build in the same spirit as they did. But that we should do so no more follows than that we should envy those geological ages when the club-mosses were of the size of forest-trees, and the frogs as big as oxen. There are many advantages to be had in the forests of the Amazon and the interior of Borneo,--inexhaustible fertility, endless water-power,--but no one thinks of going there to live.
No age is without its attractions. There would be much to envy in the Greek or the Roman life, if we could have them clear of drawbacks. Many persons would be glad always to find Emerson in State Street, or sauntering in the Mall, ready to talk with all comers,--or to hear the latest words of Bancroft or Lowell from their own lips at the cattle-show or the militia-muster. The Roman villas had some excellent features,--the peristyle of statues, the cryptoporticus with its midnight coolness and shade of a July noon, the mosaic floor, and the glimmering frescoes of the ceiling. But we are content to get our poets and historians in their books, and to take the pine-grove for our noonday walk, or to wait till night has transformed the street into a cryptoporticus nobler than Titus's. It is as history that these things charm us; but the charm vanishes, when, even in fancy, we bring them into contact with our actual lives. So it is with the medieval architecture. It is true, in studying these wonderful fossils, a regret for our present poverty, and a desire to appropriate something from the ancient riches, will at times come over us. But this feeling, if it be more than slight and transient, if it seriously influence our conduct, is somewhat factitious or somewhat morbid. Let us be a little disinterested in our admiration, and not, like children, cry for all we see. We have our share: let us leave the dead theirs.
The fallacy lies in the supposition, that, besides all their advantages, they had all ours too. It is with our mental as with our bodily vision,--we see only what is remote; and the image to the mind depends, not only upon seeing, but upon not seeing. In the distant star, all foulness and gloom are lost, and only the pure splendor reaches us. Inspired by Mr. Ruskin's eloquence, the neophyte sets forth with contrition to put his precepts into practice. But the counterstatement which he had overlooked does not, therefore, cease to exist. At the outset, he finds unexpected sacrifices are demanded. And, as money is the common measure of the forces disposable, the hindrances take the form of increase of cost. Before the first step can be taken towards doing anything as Mr. Ruskin would have it done, he discovers that at least it will cost enormously more to do it in that way. The lamps of truth and sacrifice demand such expensive nourishment, that he is forced to ask himself whether they are of themselves really sufficient to live by.
It is not that we are poorer or more penurious than our ancestors, but that we have more wants than they, and that the new wants overshadow the old. What is spent in one direction must be spared in another. The matter-of-course necessaries of our life were luxuries or were unknown to them. First of all, the luxury of freedom,--political, social, and domestic,--with the habits it creates, is the source of great and ever-increasing expense. We are still much behindhand in this matter, and shall by-and-by spend more largely upon it. But, compared with our ancestors, individual culture, to which freedom is the means, absorbs a large share of our expenditure. The noble architecture of the thirteenth century was the work of corporations, of a society that knew only corporations, and where individual culture was a crime. Dante had made the discovery that it is the man that creates his own position, not the accident of birth. But his life shows how this belief isolated him. Nor was the coincidence between the artistic spirit of the age and its limitations accidental. Just in proportion as the spirit of individualism penetrated society, and began to show itself as the Renaissance, architecture declined. The Egyptian pyramids are marvels to us, because we are accustomed to look upon the laborer as a man. But once allow that he is only so much brute force,--cheap, readily available, and to be had in endless supply, but as a moral entity less to be respected than a cat or a heron, and the marvel ceases. Should not the building be great to which man himself is sacrificed? Later, the builders are no longer slaves; but man is still subordinate to his own work, adores the work of his hands. This stands for him, undertakes to represent him, though, from its partial nature, it can only typify certain aspects or functions of him. A Gothic cathedral is an attempt at a universal expression of humanity, a stone image of society, in which each particle, insignificant by itself, has its meaning in the connection. It was the fresh interest in the attempt that gave birth to that wonderful architecture. This is the interest it still has, but now only historical, since the discovery was made that the particle is greater than the mass,--that it is for the sake of the individual that society and its institutions exist. Ever since, a process of disintegration has been going on, resulting in a progressive reversal of the previous relation. Not the private virtues of the structure, but its uses, are now uppermost, and ever more and more developed. Even in our own short annals something of this process may be traced. Old gentlemen complain of the cost of our houses. The houses of their boyhood, they say, were handsomer and better built, yet cost less. There is some truth in this, for the race of architect-builders hardly reaches into this century. But if the comparison be pushed into details, we soon come to the conviction that the owners of these houses were persons whose habits were, in many respects, uncouth and barbarous. It is easy to provide in the lump; but with decency, privacy, independence,--in short, with a high degree of respect on the part of the members of the household for each other's individuality,--expense begins. Letarouilly says it is difficult to discover in the Roman palaces of the Renaissance any reference to special uses of the different apartments. It was to the outside, the vestibule, courtyard, and staircase, that care and study were given: the inside was intended only as a measure of the riches and importance of the owner, not as his habitation. The part really inhabited by him was the mezzanino,--a low, intermediate story, where he and his family were kennelled out of the way. Has any admiring traveller ever asked himself how he could establish himself, with wife and children, in the Foscari or the Vendramin palace? To live in them, it would be necessary to build a house inside.
Nor is there any ground for saying that the fault is in the builders,--that the old builders met the demands of their time, and would equally satisfy the demands of our time, without sacrifice of their art. The first demand in the days of good architecture was, that the building should have an independent artistic value beyond its use. This is what architecture requires; for architecture is building, pure,--building for its own sake, not as means. What Mr. Garbett says is, no doubt, quite true,--that nothing was ever made, for taste's sake, less efficient than it might have been. But many things were made more efficient than they might have been; or, rather, this is always the character of good architecture. It is in this surplus of perfection, above bare necessity, that its claim to rank among the fine arts consists. This character the builders of the good times, accordingly, never left out of sight; so that, if their means were limited, they lavished all upon one point,--made that overflow with riches, and left the rest plain and bare; never did they spread their pittance thin to cover the whole, as we do. It is for this reason that so few of the great cathedrals were finished, and that in buildings of all kinds we so often find the decoration in patches, sharply marked off from the rest of the structure. This noble profuseness is not, indeed, necessarily decoration; the essence of it is an independent value and interest in the building, aside from the temporary and accidental employment. The spires and the flying-buttresses of the Northern cathedrals cannot be defended on the ground of thrifty construction. The Italian churches accomplished that as well without either. How remote the reference to use in the mighty portals of Rheims, or the soaring vaultings of Amiens and Beauvais! Does anybody suppose that Michel Angelo, when he undertook to raise the dome of the Pantheon into the air, was thinking of the most economical way of roofing a given space? These fine works have their whole value as expression; it is with their visible contempt of thrift that our admiration begins. They pared away the stone to the minimum that safety demanded, and beyond it,--yet not from thrift, but to make the design more preeminent and necessary, and to owe as little as possible to the inert strength of the material.
But though we admire the result, we have grown out of sympathy with the cause, the state of mind that produced it, and so the root wherefrom the like should be produced is cut off. There is no reason to suppose that the old builders were men of a different kind from ours, more earnest, more poetical. The stories about the science of the medieval masons are rubbish. All men are in earnest about something; our men are as good as they, and would have built as well, had they been born at the right time for it. But now they are thinking of other things. The Dilettanti Society sent Mr. Penrose to Athens to study in the ancient remains there the optical corrections which it was alleged the Greeks made in the horizontal lines of their buildings. Mr. Penrose made careful measurements, establishing the fact, and a folio volume of plates was published to illustrate the discovery, and evince the unequalled nicety of the Greek eye. But the main point, namely, that a horizontal line above the level of the eye, in order to appear horizontal, must bend slightly upwards, was pointed out to me years ago by a common plasterer.
It is not that our builders are degenerate, but that their art is a trade, occupies only their hands, not their minds, and this by no fault in them or in anybody, but by the natural progress of the world. In each age by turn some one mental organ is in a state of hypertrophy; immediately that becomes the medium of expression,--not that it is the only possible or even the best, but that its time has come,--then it gives place to another. Architecture is dead and gone to dust long ago. We are not called upon to sing threnodies over it, still less to attempt to galvanize a semblance of life into it. If we must blame somebody, let it not be the builder, but his employers, who, caring less even than he for the reality of good architecture, (for the material itself teaches him something,) force him into these puerilities in order to gratify their dissolute fancies.
If these views seem to any one low and prosaic, let me remind him that poetry does not differ from prose in being false. We must respect the facts. If there were in this country any considerable number of persons to whom the buildings they daily enter had any positive permanent value besides convenience,--who looked upon the church, the bank, or the house, as upon a poem or a statue,--the birth of a national architecture would be assured. But as the fact stands, while utility, and that of a temporary and makeshift sort, is really the first consideration, we are not yet ready to acknowledge this to others or to ourselves, and so fail to get from it what negative advantage we might, but blunder on under some fancied necessity, spending what we can ill spare, to the defrauding of legitimate demands, as a sort of sin-offering for our aesthetic deficiency, or as a blind to conceal it. The falsehood, like all falsehood, defeats itself; the pains we take only serve to make the failure more complete.
This is displayed most fully in the doings of "Building Committees." Here we see what each member (perhaps it would be more just to say the least judicious among them) would do in his own case, were he free from the rude admonitions of necessity. He has at least to live in his own house, and so cannot escape some attention to the substantial requirements of it; though some houses, too, seem emancipated from such considerations, and to have been built for any end rather than to live in. But in catering for the public, it is the outsiders alone that seem to be consulted, the careless passer-by, who for once will pause a moment to commend or to sneer at the facade,--not the persons whose lives for years, perhaps, are to be affected by the internal arrangement. It is doubtless from a suspicion, more or less obscure, of the incoherency of their purpose, that such committees usually fall into the hands of a "practical man,"--that is, a man impassive to principles, of hardihood or bluntness of perception enough to carry into effect their vague fancies, and spare them from coming face to face with their inconsistencies. Thus fairly adrift and kept adrift from the main purpose, there is no vagary impossible to them,--churches in which there is no hearing, hospitals contrived to develop disease, museums of tinder, libraries impossible to light or warm. And what gain comes to beauty from these sacrifices, let our streets answer. Good architecture requires before all things a definite aim, long persisted in. It never was an invention, anywhere, but always a gradual growth. What chance of that here?
The only chance clearly is to cut away till we come to the solid ground of real, not fancied, requirement. As long as it is our whims, and not our necessities, that build, it matters little how much pains we take, how learned and assiduous we are. I have no hope of any considerable advantage from the abundant exhortation to frankness and genuineness in the use of materials, unless it lead first of all to a more frank and genuine consideration of the occasion for using the materials at all. If it lead only to open timber roofs and stone walls in place of the Renaissance stucco, I think the gain very questionable. The stucco is more comfortable, and at least we had got used to it. These are matters of detail: suppose your details are more genuine, if the whole design is a sham, if the aim be only to excite the admiration of bystanders, the thing is not altered, whether the bystanders are learned in such matters or ignorant. The more excellent the work is in its kind, the more insidious and virulent the falsity, if the whole occasion of it be a pretence. If it must be false, let it by all means be gross and glaring,--we shall be the sooner rid of it.
It may be asked whether, then, I surrender the whole matter of appearance,--whether the building may as well be ugly as beautiful. By no means; what I have said is in the interest of beauty, as far as it is possible to us. Positive beauty it may be often necessary to forego, but bad taste is never necessary. Ugliness is not mere absence of beauty, but absence of it where it ought to be present. It comes always from a disappointed expectation,--as where the lineaments that do not disgust in the potato meet us in the human face, or even in the hippopotamus, whom accordingly Nature kindly puts out of sight. It is bad taste that we suffer from,--not plainness, not indifference to appearance, but features misplaced, shallow mimicry of "effects" where their causes do not exist, transparent pretences of all kinds, forcing attention to the absence of the reality, otherwise perhaps unnoticed. The first step toward seemly building is to rectify the relation between the appearance and the uses of the building,--to give to each the weight that it really has with us, not what we fancy or are told it ought to have. Mr. Ruskin too often seems to imply that fine architecture is like virtue or the kingdom of Heaven: that, if it be sought first, all other things will be added. A sounder basis for design, beyond what is necessary to use, seems to me that proposed by Mr. Garbett, (to whom we are indebted for the most useful hints upon architecture,) namely, politeness, a decent regard for the eyes of other people (and for one's own, for politeness regards one's self as well). Politeness, however, as Mr. Garbett admits, is chiefly a negative art, and consists in abstaining and not meddling. The main character of the building being settled by the most unhesitating consideration of its uses, we are to see that it disfigures the world as little as possible.
Let me, at the risk of tediousness, proceed to bring these generalities to a point by a few instances,--not intending to exhaust the topic, but only to exemplify the method of approaching it.
The commonest case for counsel, and more common here than anywhere else, is where a man is to build for himself a house, especially in the country,--for town-houses are more governed by extraneous considerations. The first point is the aspect,--that the living-rooms be well open to the sun. Let no fancied advantages of view or of symmetrical position interfere with this. For they operate seldom and strike most at first, but the aspect tells on body and mind every day. It is astonishing how reckless people are of this vital point, suffering it to be determined for them by the direction of a road, or even of a division-fence,--as if they had never looked at their houses with their own eyes, but only with the casual view of a stranger. It does not follow, however, that the entrance must be on the sunny side, though this is generally best, as the loss of space in the rooms is more than made up by the cheeriness of the approach. For the same reason, unless you are sailing very close to the wind, let your entrance-hall be roomy. It is in no sense an unproductive outlay, for it avails above in chambers, and below in the refuge it affords to the children from the severer rules of the parlor.
As to number and distribution of rooms, the field is somewhat wide. Here the differences of income, of pursuits, and the idiosyncrasies of taste come in; and more than all, not only are the circumstances originally different, but constantly varying. I speak not of the fluctuations of fortune, but of normal and expected changes. The young couple, or the old, are easily lodged. But in middle life,--since we are not content, like our forefathers, with bestowing our children out of sight,--it takes a great deal of room to provide for them on both floors, without either neglect or oppression, and to keep up the due oversight without sacrificing ourselves or them. For children are rather exclusive, and spoil for other use more room than they occupy. Here I counsel every man who must have a corner to himself to fix his study in the attic, for the only way to avoid noise without wasteful complication is to be above it.
The smallest house must provide some escape from the dining-room. If dining-room and sitting-room are on the sunny side, and the entrance be also on that side, they will be separated, as indeed they always may be, without loss. The notion that the rooms must immediately connect is one of those whims to which houses are sacrificed. The only advantage is the facility for receiving company. But if the occasions when the guests will be too many for one room are likely to be frequent, rather than permanently spoil the living-room, it is better to set apart rooms for reception. Our position in this matter is in truth rather embarrassing. Formerly (and the view is not yet wholly obsolete) the whole house was a reception-hall, the domestic life of the inmates being a secondary matter, swept into some corner, such as the cells of the mediaeval castles or the mezzanino of the Italian palaces. But the austere aspect of the shut-up "best parlor" of our grandfathers, with its closed blinds and chilly chintz covers, showed that the tables were beginning to turn, and the household to assert its rights and civilly to pay off the guest for his usurpations. Henceforth he is welcome, but he is secondary; it was not for him that the house was built; and if it comes to choosing, he can be dispensed with. It would be very agreeable to unite with all the new advantages all the old,--the easy hospitality, the disengaged suavity of the ancient manners. Now the brow of the host is clouded, he has too much on his mind to play his part perfectly. It is not that good-will is wanting, but that life is more complicated. The burdens are more evenly distributed, and no class is free and at leisure. But to fret over our disadvantages, and to extol the past, is only to ignore the price that was paid for those advantages we covet. There was always somebody to sweat for that leisure. Would a society divided into castes be better? Or again, who would like to have his children sleep three in a bed, and live in the kitchen, in order that the best rooms should always be swept and garnished for company?
In every case, unless a man is rich enough to have two houses in one, it comes to choice between domestic comfort and these occasional facilities. Direct connection of rooms usually involves the sacrifice of the chimney-corner, on one or both sides; for it is not pleasant to sit in a passage-way, even if it be rarely used. For use in cold weather the available portion of a room may be reckoned as limited by the door nearest the fireplace.
It will be noticed that this supposes the use of open fireplaces. The open fireplace is not a necessary of life, but it is one of the first luxuries, and one that no man who can afford to eat meat every day can afford to dispense with. No furnace can supply the place of it; for, though the furnace is an indispensable auxiliary in severe cold, and though, well managed, it need not vitiate the air, yet, like all contrivances for supplying heated air instead of heat, it has the insurmountable defect of not warming the body directly, nor until all the surrounding air be warmed first, and thus stops the natural reaction and the brace and stimulus derived from it. Used exclusively, it amounts to voluntarily incurring the disadvantage of a tropical climate.
Let the walls of the second story be upright. The recent fashion of a mansard or "French roof" is only making part of the wall of the house look like roof, at equal expense, at the sacrifice of space inside, and above all, of tightness. For, though shingles and even slates will generally keep out the rain, the innumerable cracks between the sides of them can never be made air-tight, and therefore admit heat and cold much more freely than any proper wall-covering. A covering of metal would be too good a conductor of external temperature,--while clapboarding would endanger the resemblance to a roof, which is the only gain proposed.
As to the size of the house, it is important to observe that its cost does not depend so much upon the size of the rooms (within reasonable limits) as upon the number of them, the complication of plan, and the number of doors and windows. For every door or window you can omit you may add three or four feet to your house. The height of the stories will be governed by the area of the largest rooms;--what will please each person depends very much upon what he is used to. In the old New-England houses the stories were very low, often less than eight feet in the best rooms. In favor of low rooms it is to be remembered that they are more easily lighted and warmed, and involve less climbing of stairs. Rooms are often made lofty under the impression that better ventilation is thereby secured; but there is a confusion here. A high room is less intolerable without ventilation, the vitiated air being more diluted; but a low room is usually more easily ventilated, because the windows are nearer the ceiling.
Mr. Garbett advises that the windows be many and small. This costs more; and if it be understood to involve placing the windows on different sides, the effect, I think, will be generally less agreeable than where the room is lighted wholly from one side. A capital exception, however, is the dining-room, which should always, if possible, abound in cross-lights; else one half the table will be oppressed by a glare of light, and the other visible only in silhouette.
As to material, stone is the handsomest, and the only one that constantly grows handsomer, and does not require that your creepers should be periodically disturbed for painting or repairs. But this is perhaps all that can be said in its favor. To make a stone house as good as a wooden one we must build a wooden one inside of it. Wood is our common material, and there is none better, if we take the pains to make it tight. There is a prevalent notion that it is the thinness of our cheap wooden houses that makes them pervious to heat and cold. But no wooden house, unless built of solid and well-fitted logs, could resist the external temperature by virtue of thickness. It is tightness that tells here. Wherever air passes, heat and cold pass with it. What is important, therefore, is, by good contrivance and careful execution, to stop all cracks as far as possible. For this, an outside covering of sheathing-felt, or some equivalent material, may be recommended, and especially a double plastering inside,--not the common "back-plastering," but two separate compact surfaces of lime and sand, inside the frame.
The position, the internal arrangement, and the material being determined upon, the next point is that the structure shall be as little of an eyesore as we can make it. Do what we will, every house, as long as it is new, is a standing defiance to the landscape. In color, texture, and form, it disconnects itself and resists assimilation to its surroundings. The "gentle incorporation into the scenery of Nature," that Wordsworth demands, is the most difficult point to effect, as well as the most needful. This makes the importance of a background of trees, of shrubs, and creepers, and the uniting lines of sheds, piazzas, etc., mediating and easing off the shock which the upstart mass inflicts upon the eye. Hence Sir Joshua Reynolds's rule for the color of a house, to imitate the tint of the soil where it is to stand. Hence the advantage of a well-assured base and generally of a pyramidal outline, because this is the figure of braced and balanced equilibrium, assured to all natural objects by the slow operation of natural laws, which we must take care not to violate in our haste, unless for due cause shown.
We hear much of the importance of proportions, but the main point generally is that the house be not too high. This is the most universal difficulty, particularly in small houses, the area being diminished, but not the height of stories. In this respect the old farm-houses had a great advantage, and this is a main element in their good effect,--aided as it is by the height of the roof; for a high roof will often make a building seem lower than it would with a low roof or none at all. The dreary effect of the flat-roofed houses in the neighborhood of New York is due partly to the unrelieved height, and partly to the unfinished or truncated appearance of a thing without a top. The New York fashion gives, no doubt, the most for the money; but the effect is so offensive that I think it justifies us for once in violating Mr. Garbett's canon and sacrificing efficiency to taste.
The most pleasing shape of roof, other things being equal, is the pyramidal or hipped, inclining from all sides towards the centre. The drawback is, that, if it must be pierced by windows, their lines will stick off from the roof, so that, as seen from below, they will be violently detached from the general mass. The good taste of the old builders made them avoid putting dormer-windows (at least in front) in roofs of one pitch; the windows were in the gables, carried out for this purpose; or if dormers were necessary, they made a mansard or double-pitched roof, in which the windows are less detached. Another excellent feature in the old New-England farm-houses is the long slope of the roof behind, and, in general, the habit of roofing porches, dormers, sheds, and other projections by continuing the main roof over them, with great gain to breadth and solidity of effect.
In fact, were it possible, we could not do better for the outside than to take these old houses for our model. But here, as everywhere, we find the outside depends on the inside, and that what we most admire in them will conflict with the new requirements. For instance, the massive central chimney and the expanse on the ground point to the kitchen as the common living-room of the family; they are irreconcilable with our need of more chambers and of the possibility of more separation above and below. The later and more ambitious houses, such as were built in the neighborhood of Boston at the beginning of the century, come nearer to our wants; but they sacrifice too much to a cut-and-dried symmetry to be of much use to us. After that the way is downward through one set of absurdities after another, until of late some signs of more common-sense treatment begin to be visible.
The way out of this quagmire is first of all to avoid confusion of aim. What is this that we are building? If it is a monument, let us seek only to make it beautiful. But if it is a house, let us always keep in mind that the appearance of it, being really secondary, must be seen to have been held so throughout. Else we shall not, in the long run, escape bad taste. Bad taste is not mere failure, but failure to do something which ought not to have been attempted. For instance, among the most frequent occasions for deformity in modern houses are the dormers, the windows that rise above the roof. In the Gothic buildings these are among the most attractive features. The reason is that the tendency of the outline to detach itself from the mass of the building furnishes to the Gothic a culminating point for the distinct legitimate aim at beauty of expression that pervades the whole; but to the modern builder, whose aim, as regards expression, should be wholly negative, it is at best an embarrassment, and often a snare.
The chief obstacle to a rational view of the present position of architecture comes from the number of clever men who devote their lives to putting a good face on our absurdities, and by all sorts of tricks and sophistries in wood and stone prevent us from seeing our conduct in its proper deformity. They dazzle and bewilder us with beauties plucked at haphazard from all times and ages,--as much forgeries as any that men are hanged for,--and then, when the cheat begins to peep through, they fool us again with pretences of thoroughness, consistency of style, genuineness in the use of materials, etc., as if the danger were in the execution, and not in the main intention. So they fool us for a while longer, and we praise their fine doings, and even persuade ourselves there is something liberal and ennobling in their influence. But we tire at last of these exotics. A million of them is not worth one of those sober flowers of homely growth where use has by chance, as it were, blossomed into beauty. This is the only success in that kind that can be hoped for in our day. But it must come of itself; it cannot be had for the seeking, nor if sought for its own sake. The active competition that goes on in our streets is not the way to it, unless negatively, by way of disgust and exhaustion. For some help, meantime, I commend the opinion of an architect of my acquaintance, who said the highest compliment he ever received was from a drover, who could not account for it that "he had passed that way so often and never seen that old house." Nobody expects his house will be beautiful, do what he will; why pay for the certainty of failure? Not to be conspicuous, and, to that end, to respect the plain fundamental rules of statics, of good construction, of harmonious color, and to resist sacrificing any solid advantage to show, these are our safest rules at present.
The twilight was almost gone on the Saturday night when I went back to the grave, solemn house. There was no one dead in it now. It was the first time that I had approached it without the abyss of shadow under its roof. A little elasticity came back to me. Kino came out to give his welcome: we had become friendly. Katie let me in.
"Perhaps you'd choose to wait down-stairs a bit," she said; "Mr. Abraham's getting his tea up in Miss Lettie's room."
She lighted the lamp, and left me. After my two explorations in unknown realms,--the one voluntary, looking at the painting on the wall, the other involuntary, looking at a human soul in sorrow,--I resolved to shut my eyes to all that they ought not to see; and therefore I stationed myself in the green glade of a chair, and very properly decided that the only thing I would look at should be the fire. What I might see there surely could offend no one, unless it were the deity of Coal,--and Redleaf was not near any carboniferous group.
Peculiar were the forms the fire took an elfish pleasure in assuming. Little blue flames came up into atmospheric life, through the rending fissures where so many years of ages they had been pent into the very blackness of darkness; and as they gained their freedom, they gave tiny, crackling shouts of liberty. "We're free! we're free!" they smally cried; and I wondered if a race, buried as deeply in the strata of races as these bits of burning coal had been in the geologic periods of earth, could utter such cries.
The fire grew, the liberty paeans ceased. Deep opaline content burned lambescent amid the coals. Ashy cinders fell from the grate slowly, slumberously, as the one dead, that very afternoon buried, had gone to rest, in the night-time, when the household was asleep, without any one to hold her hand whilst she took the first step in the surging sea of river. Yes, she died alone,--"in the heart of the night," Dr. Eaton said it must have been "that the bridegroom came." Had she oil in her lamp? What was she like? Like her son Abraham, or her daughter Lettie? I tried to paint her face as it must have been. It is darker still in that grave where she lies than was the night wherein she died. Miss Lettie was right: they have a fathom of earth over her,--there's not one glimmer of light down there. When I am buried, won't some one shut in one little sun-ray with me, that I may see to feel the gloom?
I looked down upon the gravelly earth lying above her, as I had looked across at it when I left the parsonage at night fall, and passed by the church-yard. All the while, my eyes were in the depths of the fire. I went down through stone and soil to the coffin there. All was unutterable blackness. I put out my hand to feel. It was a cold, marbleized face that my warm, living fingers wandered over. I touched the forehead: it was very stony, granite-like,--not a woman's forehead. The eyes were large,--I felt them under the half-closed lids. The mouth--Yes, Miss Lettie was right. Love for Abraham had covered up this mother-love for her. And confession unto her dead was, it must have been, better than unto her living. The answer would have been much the same.
Shudderingly, I picked up my hand, the one that had been lying upon the arm of the chair, whilst its life and spirit had gone out on their mission of discovery. It was very cold. I warmed it before the fire, and began to think that Aaron was right,--this House of Axtell was stealing away my proper self, or, at least, this hand of mine had been unlawfully employed, through occasion of them. As the warmth of burning coals revivified my hand, I saw something in the fire,--a face,--the very one these live fingers had just been tracing in yonder church-yard. Its eyes were open now,--large, luminous, earnest, with a wave of solid pride sweeping on through the irides and almost overwhelming the pupils. The mouth,--oh, those lips! ever uttered they a prayer? They look, trembling the while, so unutterably unforgiving! When they come to stand before the I AM, will they ever plead? It is hard to think the Deity maketh such souls. Doth He? I looked a little farther on in the fiery group. Other forms of coal took the human face. I saw two. Whose were they? One was like unto my mother. How little I remember of her! and yet this was like my memory,--sweetly gentle, loving past expression's power, no taint of earth therein. Another came up. I did not know it. Something whispered, "It is of you." I almost heard the words with my outward ears. I looked around the room. No one was with me. Stillness reigned in the house.
"It takes Mr. Axtell a very long time to take his tea," I thought; "he must know more of hunger's power than I.--I will look at the fire no more," I said, slowly, to myself, and closed my eyelids, somewhat willing to drop after all that they had endured that day.
A soft, silver, "swimming sound" floated through the room. It was the clock upon the mantel sending out tones of time-hours. I looked up. It was eleven of the clock. "I must have fallen asleep," I thought, and threw off the folds of a shawl which I surely left on the sofa over there when I seated myself in this chair. My head was upon a pillow, downy and white, instead of the green vale of chair in which I had laid it down. I sprang up. There was little of lamp-light in the room. I saw something that looked marvellously like somebody, near the sofa. It was Katie, my good little friend Katie. She was sitting on a footstool with her head upon her hands, and, poor, tired child! fast asleep. I awoke her.
"Who covered me up, Katie?" I asked.
"Mr. Abraham," said Katie; and her waking senses came back.
"And how did the pillow get under my head?"
"Mr. Abraham said 'he was sorry that you had come.' You looked very white in your sleep, and he said 'you wouldn't wake up'; so I lifted your head just a mite, and he fixed the pillow under it. He told me to stay here until you awoke."
"Which I have most decidedly done, Katie," I said; and I fully determined to take no more naps in this house.
How could it have happened? I accounted for the fact in the most reasonable way I knew,--I, who rejoice in being reasonable,--by thinking it occurred in consequence of my long watchfulness, and sombreness of thought and soul.
"I am sorry that you didn't wake me," I said to Katie, as she moved the chairs in the room to their respective places.
With the most childlike implicitness in the world, the little maid stood still and looked at me.
"I couldn't, you know, Miss Percival, when Mr. Abraham told me not to," were the positive words she used in giving her reason.
I forgave Katie, and wondered what the secret of this man's commanding power could be, as on this Saturday night.
I left the world, and went up to take my last watch with the convalescing lady. Her brother was with her. He looked a little surprised, when I went in; but the cloud of anger had gone away: folded it up he had, I fancied, all ready to shake out again upon the slightest provocation; and I did not care to see its folds waving around me, so I did not speak to him. Miss Axtell seemed pleased to see me; said "she trusted that this would be the last occasion on which she should require night-care."
Her beauty was lovely now. A roseate hue was over her complexion: a little of the old fever rising, I suppose it must have been.
"I've been talking with Abraham," she said, when I spoke of it.
Why should a conversation with her brother occasion return of fever? Perhaps it was not that, but the mention of the fact, which increased the glow wonderfully.
Mr. Axtell bade his sister good-night.
"You will do it to-morrow, Abraham?" she asked, as he was going from the room.
"I will think about it to-night, and give you my decision in the morning, Lettie."
Mr. Axtell must have been very absent-minded, for he turned back, hoped I had not taken cold in the library, and ended the wish with a civil "Good night, Miss Percival."
"Good night, Mr. Axtell," I said; and he was gone.
There was no need of persuasion to quietude to-night, it seemed, for Miss Axtell gave me no field for the practice of oratory: she was quite ready and willing to sleep.
"Can you not sleep, too?" she asked, as she closed her eyes; "if I need you, I can speak."
No, I could not sleep. The night grew cold: a little edge of winter had come back. I felt chilled,--either because of my sleep down-stairs, or because the mercury was cold before me. My shawl I had not brought up with me. Might I not find one? The closet-door was just ajar: it was a place for shawls. I crossed the room, and, opening it a little more, went in. I saw something very like one hanging there, but it was close beside that grave brown plaid dress, and I had resolved to intrude no farther into the affair of the tower. Results had not pleased me.
I grew colder than ever, standing hesitatingly in the closet, whence a draught blew from the dressing-room beyond. I must have the shawl. I reached forth my hand to take it down. The dress, I found, was hung over it. It must needs come off, before the shawl. I lifted it, catching, as I did so, my fingers in a rent,--was it? Yes, a piece was gone. I looked at the size and form of it, which agreed perfectly with the fragment I had found. This dress, then, had been in the tower, beyond all question.
I thought myself very fairy-like in my movements, but the fire was not. Some one--it must have been Mr. Axtell or Katie--had put upon the hearth a stick of chestnut-wood, which, suddenly igniting, snapped vigorously. This began ere I was safely outside of the closet. Miss Lettie was awakened. She arose a little wildly, sitting up in the bed. I do not know that it was the fire that aroused her.
"I've had a terrific dream, Miss Percival; don't let me fall asleep again"; and her heart beat fast and heavily. She pressed her hands upon it, and asked for some quieting medicine, which I gave. She was getting worse again, I knew; her hands wandered up to her head, in the same way that they had done when she was first ill.
"I want some one to help me," she said, as if talking to herself; "the waters are very rough. I thought they would be all smooth after the great storm."
"Perhaps it is only the healthful rising of the tide," I ventured to say.
She looked at me, took her hands down from her head, her beautiful, classic head, with its wide, heavenly arch of forehead, and sat still thus, looking at me in that fixed way, that wellnigh sent me to call Katie again, for full ten minutes. I moved about the room, arranged the fire on a more quiet basis, and then, finding nothing else to do, stood before it, hoping that Miss Axtell would lie down again. In taking something from my pocket I must have drawn out the trophy of my tower-victory, for Miss Axtell suddenly said,--
"You've dropped something, Miss Percival."
Turning, I picked it up hastily, lest she should recognize it.
She must have seen it quite well, for it had been lying in the full light of the blazing wood.
"Have you a dress like that?" she asked, when I had restored the fragment.
"I have not," I replied. "I am sorry I awakened you."
"It was a dream that awakened me," she said. "Will you have the kindness to give me that bit of cloth you picked up? I have a fancy for it."
I gave it to her.
She hastily put away the gift I had given, and said,--
"You like the old tower in the church-yard, Miss Percival, I believe?"
"Oh, yes: it is a great attraction for me. Redleaf would be Redleaf no longer, if it were away."
"Have you visited it since you've been here this time?"
"Were there any changes?" she asked.
"A few," I said. "There is another entrance to the tower than by the door, Miss Axtell."
Slowly the lady dropped back to the pillows whence she had arisen from the disturbing dream. She did not move again for many minutes; then it was a few low-spoken words that summoned me to her side.
"I know there is another entrance to the tower," she said; "but I did not think that any one else knew of it. Who told you?"
"Excuse me from answering, if you please," I said, unwilling to excite her more, for I knew that the fever was rising rapidly.
"Who knows of this besides you? You don't mind telling me that much?"
"No one knows it, I think; no person told me, and I have told no one. You seem to have more fever; can you not sleep?"
"Not with all this equinoctial storm raging, and the tide you told me of coming up with the wind."
She looked decidedly worse. Mr. Axtell let her have her own way. I thought it wise to follow his leading, and I asked,--
"What tide do you mean? You cannot hear the sea, and it isn't time for the equinoctial gale."
This question seemed to have quieted Miss Axtell beyond thought of reply. She did not speak again until the Sabbath-day had begun. Then, at the very point where she had ceased, she recommenced.
"It is a pity to let the sea in on the fertile fields of your young life," she said; "but this tide,--it is not that that is now flowing in on the far-away beach of Redcliff. It is the tide of emotion, that some one day in life begins to rise in the human heart,--and, oh, what a strange, wondrous thing it is! There are Bay-of-Fundy tides, and the uniform tides, and the tideless waters that rest around Pacific Isles; and no mortal knoweth the cause of their rise or fall. So in human hearts: some must endure the great throbbing surges that are so hard coming against one poor heart with nothing but the earth to rest upon, and yet must stand fast; then there are the many, the blessed congregation of hearts, that are only stirred by moderate, even-flowing emotions, that never rise over a tide-line, behind which the congregation are quite secure, and stand and censure the souls striving and toiling in waves that they only look upon, but never--no, never--feel. Is this right, Miss Percival?"
"It seems not," I said; "but the tideless hearts, what of them?"
"Oh, they are the hardest of all. Think! Imagine one of those serene, iridescent rings of land, moored close beside the cliff, at which the waves never rest from beating. Could the one forever at peace, with leave from wind and wave to grow its verdure and twine its tendrils just where it would,--could it feel for the life-points against which the Gulf-Stream only now and then sent up a cheering bit of warmth, whilst the soul of the cliff saw its own land of greenness, only far, far away over the waters, but could not attain unto it, not whilst north-land winds blow or the earth-time endures?"
Miss Axtell ceased, and the same fixed, absorbed expression came to her. She looked as she had done on the night, four days since, when I came in at that door for the first time. I thought of the question her brother had asked me concerning the turning of the key; and crossing the room, I turned it.
"Why did you lock the door?" she asked.
"I am constitutionally timid," was my apology.
"You have never evinced it before; why now?"
"Because I have not thought of it sooner."
"Will you unlock it, please?" she asked; and her eyes were very bright with the fever-fire that I knew was burning up, until I feared the flame would touch her mind. "I don't like being locked in; I wish to be free," she added.
This lady has something of Mr. Axtell's command of manner. I could not think it right to refuse to comply, and I unlocked the door.
She seemed restless. "Bring me the key, will you?" she asked, after a few moments of silence, in which her wandering eyes sought the door frequently.
I gave it to her. I might have locked the door before giving her the key, but I could not do it even in her approach to wildness. I hate deception as devoutly as she disguises. She thanked me for my compliance, and said, with a scintillation of coaxingness in her manner,--
"You need not be afraid; there's nothing to harm one in Redleaf."
"Why did you come, to be kind to me, sick and in sorrow?" she suddenly asked, whilst I, unseen by her, was preparing one of the soothing powders that still were left from the night wherein I forgot my duty.
I knew not how to reply. The very bit of material which she had hidden underneath a pillow was the cause; and so I answered,--
"Town-life is so different; one becomes so accustomed to a ring of changes in the all-around of life, that, when in the country, one looks for something to remind one of the life that has been left."
"Then you did not come from genuine kindness?"
"No, I am afraid not."
"Do not be afraid to be truthful, ever," she said, and added,--"Once more, will you tell me where you found the fragment you have given me?"
"I cannot, Miss Axtell."
She did not speak again, but lay looking at the ceiling until long after the moon had risen,--the waning moon, that comes up so weirdly, late in the night, like a spectre of light appointed to haunt the solemn old earth, and punish it with the remembrance of a brighter, better light gone, and a renewed consciousness of its own once unformed, chaotic existence. I saw rays from it coming in through the parted curtains, and distinctly traced tree-branches wavering to and fro out in the night-wind, set astir as the moon came up. At last she said,--
"I wish you would go to sleep. Won't you wake Katie up, and then lie down? She has had a rest."
"Poor, tired child," I said; "she had work to do yesterday; I had not."
"Abraham, then, if not Katie."
"He has been up three nights, Miss Axtell,--I only one."
"I did not know it," she said. "I forgot that I had been so long ill."
"Will you try and sleep?" once more I asked; "it is near morning."
She wished to know the hour, made me give her watch into her own keeping, and then said "she would not talk, no, she would be very quiet, if I would only gratify her by making myself comfortable on the lounge." It did not seem very unreasonable, and I consented.
"But you are looking at me," she said. "I hate to be watched; do shut your eyes."
I looked away from her. Time went on. I heard the clock strike four times, in the March night. Miss Axtell was very quiet,--better, I was convinced. I arose once to rebuild the fire. Wood-fires burn down so soon. Then I took up my watch, thinking over the strange events, all unconsummated, that had been and still were in being under this roof.
Five hours came booming up from the village-clock. The wind must have changed, or I could not have heard the strokes, so roundly full.
"How short the hour has been!" was my first thought. Kino began a furious, untimely barking. "What for?" I wondered; and I lifted up my head and listened. No sound; the room was very still. Miss Axtell had dropped the curtains of the bed. It annoyed her, I supposed, to feel herself watched. "Her breathing is very soft," I thought; "I do not even hear it. Her sleep must be pleasant, after the fever."
I laid my head down to its resting-place, listening still. Kino kept up a low, ominous growl, quite different from his first barking. Nothing more came. "I'm glad he doesn't waken Miss Axtell," I thought; and gradually Kino dropped his growls into low, plaintive moans, which in time died away. As they did so, another sound, not outside, but in the house, set my poor, weak heart into violent throbbings. Footsteps were in the upper hall, I felt sure. Miss Axtell might not hear them, if she had not heard Kino's louder noise. Slowly they came,--not heavy, with a stout, manly tread, but muffled. They came close to the door. If the key were only in it! But I could not move. I heard a hand going over it, just as I had heard that hand three days before in the dark tower. A moment's awful pour of feeling, and then came the gentlest, softest of knocks. Why did I not get up and see who it was? Simply because Nature made me cowardly, and meant me, therefore, to bear cowardice bravely. I never moved. A second time came the knock, but no more nerve of sound in it than at the first. A hand touched the knob after that, and turning it gently, the door was carefully pushed open, and a figure, looking very much like Mr. Axtell, only the long, dark hair fell over his face, came noiselessly in. I could not tell at the moment who it was. I watched him cautiously. He stood still, looking first at the bed, whose curtains were down, then around the room. For one moment I thought him looking at me, and involuntarily my eyelids closed, lest he might know himself watched. He put up his hand, and pushed back the heavy hair from his forehead. It was only Mr. Axtell. The relief was so great that I spoke,--softly, it is true.
"What is it?" I asked. "Is anything wrong, Mr. Axtell?"
"It seems not," he said. "Kino's barking aroused me,--it is so unusual. How has she slept?"
"Very well. For the last hour she has not spoken."
Kino began again his low, dismal howling.
"Did not the dog disturb her when he barked?"
Mr. Axtell had walked to the lounge from which I had risen, still speaking in the voice that has much of tone without much sound.
"No,--she did not seem to hear it."
"She must be sleeping very deeply," the brother said; and as he spoke, he cautiously uplifted a fold of the hangings.
What was it that came over his face, made visible even in the gloom of the room? Something terrible.
"What is it?" I asked, springing up; "what has happened?" and I put out my hand to take the look at the sleeper in there that he had done.
He stayed my hand, waved it back, folded his arms, as if nothing unusual had occurred, and questioned me.
"What has she talked about to-night?"
"She has said very little."
"Tell me something that she has said, immediately"; and he looked fearfully agitated.
"What has happened?" I asked; and again I caught at the hangings which concealed the fearful thing that he had seen.
"Answer me!" Two words only, but tremendously uttered.
"She asked me if I liked the tower in the church-yard," I said.
"You told her what?"
"That I did like it."
"Has she seemed worried about anything?" and Mr. Axtell threw up a window-sash, letting the cold March wind into this room of sickness. As he did so, I lifted the folds that the wind rudely swayed. Miss Axtell was not there.
He turned around. I stood speechless.
"How long have you been asleep?" he asked, coolly, as if nothing had occurred.
"Not at all," I answered. Then I thought, "I must have slept, else she could not have gone out without my knowing it."--"I heard the stroke of four and of five," I said.
He looked up and down the street, only a little lighted by the feeble, old, fading moon.
"Have you any idea where she would go?" he asked.
"She may be in the house," I said; "why not look?"
"No; I found the front-door unfastened. I thought Katie might have forgotten it, when I went to see. She has gone out, I know."
He looked for the wrappings she might have put on, searching, as he did so, for the small lamp that always was placed beside the larger one upon the table. It was gone. It had been there at four o'clock, when I put wood on the fire.
"Where would she carry a lamp?" Mr. Axtell asked, as he went on, searching, in known places, for articles of apparel that were not in their wonted homes. Having found them, he went out hurriedly, went to his own room, came out thence a moment after, with boots on his feet in place of the slippers he had frightened me with, and an overcoat across his arm. He did not seem to see me, as I stood waiting in the hall.
"Where are you going?" I asked of him, but he did not answer. He went straight on by me, and down, out of the house, closing the great hall-door after him with a force that shook the walls.
I went into the deserted room, put down the window-sash that he had left open, laid more wood upon the dying embers, caught up Miss Axtell's shawl, and, throwing it over my head, started down the stairs. It was pitch-dark, not even moonlight, there. I went back for a lamp: the only one was the heavy bronze, in the lone room. Mr. Axtell's door was open. He had left a light. I went in and took it up, with a box of matches lying near, and once more started down the stairs. How full of trembling I was! yet not afraid: there was a life, perhaps, to save. I opened the heavy oaken door. The wind put out my light. I did not need it longer. The shred of moon, hanging prophetic of doom, let out its ghastly whiteness to ghost the village.
Kino did not bark. The wind came down the street from churchward, whence I had heard the stroke of the village-clock. Ten minutes past five: it would be morning soon. I listened. The wind brought me footsteps, going farther and farther on: or was it the fluttering of my own garments that I heard? "I will know," I thought; and I ran a little way, then listened again. They seemed less far than before, but still going on. I ran again, farther than at first. I saw a figure before me, but, oh, so far! It seemed that I should never catch it. I tried, and called. I might as well have shouted to my father, miles away; for the wind carried my voice nearer to him than to Mr. Axtell, hurrying on. Where would he go? I tried to keep him in sight. He turned a corner, and the wind tormented me; it was almost a gale that blew, and I had the shawl to hold over my head. I came to the corner that he had turned: it was near the parsonage,--only two or three houses away. There was less of wind. I went on, half-breathless with the intensity of the effort I made to breathe. The stars looked cold. I was near the church-yard. First the church,--then the place of graves,--after that, the long, sloping garden, and the parsonage higher up. I passed by the last house. I drew near to the church. How fearful! I stopped. It was only a momentary weakness: a life was concerned; it was no place for idle fears. I crept on, shivering with the cold, and the night, and the loneliness, and the awful thought that the Deity was punishing me for having gone, in imagination, down to the cradle of His dead, by sending me out this night among graves. I heard the church-windows rattling coarse, woody tunes; but I tried not to hear, and went past. A low paling ran along the interval between the church and the parsonage-garden. I had crossed the street when I came up to the church; now I moved along opposite this fearful spot. The paling was white. I listened. No sound. A shadow from a tall pine-tree fell across a part of the paling. Therein I thought I saw what might be Mr. Axtell, leaning on the fence. I went a little of the distance across the street. Whatever it was, it stirred. I ran back, and started on, thinking to gain the parsonage. The figure--it was Mr. Axtell--came after me. As soon as I knew, for he called, "Lettie," I stopped and turned toward him.
"It isn't your sister," I said.
"You, Miss Percival? Why are you out?" and he seemed anxious. He said, "You are suffering too much from the 'strange people.'"
How could he mention my hasty words at such a time? and I remembered the unforgiving face that I had touched a fathom deep under the hard ground.
"I'm glad I've found you," I said. "Have you the church-key?"
He told me that he had. I said,--
"Come and open it."
"What for?" and he still peered over among the tombstones, as if expecting to find Miss Lettie there.
"It is not there that she would go, I think; come quickly with me," I said.
We walked to the church-entrance, hastily. He searched for the key. He hadn't it. I put my hand out, and touched it in the door.
"See here! I'm right!" and as I spoke, I drew a match across the stone step. The wind put out the flame. I guarded the second one with my shawl, and lighted the lamp.
"Open quickly, before I lose it," I said.
He did, and we went in,--in through the vestibule, where I first had seen this man, tolling the bell for his mother's death,--up the aisle, where I had gone the day I saw the thirsty, hungry, little mouse. I felt afraid, even with this strong man, for I did not know where I was going. We drew near the pulpit,--the pulpit in which Aaron preached.
"She is not here," Mr. Axtell said; and he looked about the empty pews, feebly lighted from my small flame.
He started forward as he spoke.
"Don't leave me," I said; and I put my hand within his arm.
What we saw was a change in the pulpit, an opening, as if some one had destroyed the panelled front of it.
"Come," I said; and I drew near, and put the lamp through the opening, showing a few stone steps; perhaps there were a dozen of them; at least, they went down into undefined darkness.
"What is this, Miss Percival?"
"I don't know,--I have never seen it before; but I think it leads to the tower. You will find her there. Come!" and I went down the first step, with a feeling far stronger than the prisoner's doomed to step off into interminable depths, in that Old-World castle famous for wrongs to mankind,--for I knew my danger: he does not, as he comes to the last step, from off which he goes down to a deep, watery death.
Mr. Axtell was aroused. He took the lamp from my unsteady hand, and, bidding me come back, went down before me. At the foot we found ourselves in a stone passage-way. It seemed below the reach of rains, and not very damp. Once I hit my foot against a stone, and fell. As Mr. Axtell turned back to see if I was hurt, he let the light fall distinctly on the ground. I saw a letter. He went on. I groped for it, one moment, then found it, and put it, with the torn piece of envelope to which it might belong, within my pocket. We came, at last,--a long distance it seemed for only a hundred feet,--to steps again. There were only three of them. Mr. Axtell held the lamp up; there was an opening. I shaded the light immediately, and whispered,--
"She's up there, I'm sure. Don't alarm her."
"How can I help it?" he asked.
I had as little of wisdom on the point as he; but I heard a noise. I saw a glimmer of light, as I looked up; then it was gone. I put my head through the opening, then reached down for the lamp. I held it up, and called,--
"We shall have to go up," her brother said.
I entered the tower, the place I had so loved before,--and now seemed destined to atone for my love by suffering.
"Don't let the light go out, Mr. Axtell," were all the words spoken; and we went up the long, winding stairway.
At the top stood Miss Axtell, fixed and statue-like, with fever-excited eyes. She looked not at us, but far away, through the rough wood inside, through the stone of the tower: her gaze seemed limitless.
"Come, Lettie! come, sister! come home with me," her brother said.
She heeded not; the only seeming effect was a convulsion of the muscles used in holding the lamp. I ventured to take it from her.
"Where did you find it?" she asked, in determined tones; "will you tell me now?"
"Whom is she speaking to?" asked Mr. Axtell.
"Yes, Miss Axtell, it was in here."
"Where is the rest?" and her beautiful eyes were coruscant.
I handed to her the last of the trophies of my first visit. She seized it eagerly.
"Don't do that," said Mr. Axtell, as she lighted it from the lamp he held. But she was not to be stayed; she held it aloft until the fire came down and touched her fingers; then she dropped it, burning still, down to the stone floor, far below.
She seemed helpless then; she looked as she did when a few hours before she had said, "I want some one to help me."
"Oh!--I've--lost--something!" and she tolled the words out, as slowly as the notes of the passing bell.
"What is it, Lettie? Come home; the day is breaking"; and Mr. Axtell put his arm about her.
I thought of the letter that I had picked up in the passage-way.
"What have you lost, Miss Axtell? Is it anything that I could find for you?" and I laid my hand upon hers, as the only method of drawing away her eyes from their terrible immutation of expression.
"You? No, I should think not; how could you? you only found a piece of it."
"What is this?" I asked; and I held up the letter: the superscription was visible only to herself.
What a change came over her! Soft, dewy tears melted in those burning eyes, and sent a mist of sweet effluence over her face. Mr. Axtell was still supporting her; she did not touch the letter I held; she reached out both of her hands, bent a little toward me,--for she was much taller than I am,--took my cold, shivering face in those two burning hands, and touched my forehead with her lips.
"God has made you well," she said; "thank Him."
She did not ask for the letter. I put it whence I had taken it. She evidently trusted me with it.
"Abraham, I'm sick," she said; and she laid her head upon his shoulder, passively as an infant might have done.
Her strength was gone; she could no longer support herself, and the day was breaking. Mr. Axtell, strong, vigorous, full-souled man as I knew him to be, looked at me, and his look said, "What am I to do with her?"
I answered it by throwing off the shawl and putting it upon the floor where we were standing, and saying,--
"Let her rest here, until I come."
I took the still burning lamp and went down,--down through the entrance into the deep, walled passage-way, on, step after step, through this black tunnel, built, when, I knew not, or by whom; but I was brave now. I had won the trust of a soul: it was light unto my feet. I reached the twelve stone steps leading into the church. I ran lightly up them, and, stooping, crept into this still house of God. Silence held the place. The next reign would be that of worship. Is it thus in the church-yard, after the silence of Death,--the long waiting, listening for the slowly gathering voice of praise, that, one fair day in time, time, shall transfuse the reverent souls, until the voice of the dew God sends down shall be heard dropping on the grassy sod, and welcomed as the prelude to the archangel's grand semibreve that will usher in the sublime Psalm of Everlasting Life?
Wait on, souls! it is good to wait the voice of the Lord God Almighty, who holdeth the earth in the hollow of His hand,--His hand, that we may feel for, when the way is dark, whose living fibres thrill both heart and soul. Yes, God's hand is never away from earth. I reached out anew for it in that dismal pathway through which I had come, and it guided me into this quiet, peaceful place, full of morning rays.
I did not stop to think all this; I felt it; for feeling is swifter than thought. Thought is the tree; feeling, the blossom thereof. I closed the panelling behind me, leaving the church as it had been on the day when, I saw the little hungry mouse treading sacred places. I went down the aisle; and as I passed by the hempen rope in the vestibule that so often had set the bell a-ringing, a longing came to do it now, to tell the village-people, by voice of sacred bell, that there was a new-born worship come down from Heaven. But I did not. I hurried on, and went out, locking the door after me. The March morning was cold. I missed the shawl I had left. My hair was as much astir as Aaron's had been one morning, not long before, and I truly believe there was as much of theology in it. No one was abroad. People sleep late on Sunday mornings. The east was blossoming into a magnificent sunflower.
Looking at myself, as I began my walk, I laughed aloud. I was still carrying a lighted lamp,--for the wind, like the village-people, slept at sunrise. I comforted myself by thinking of a predecessor somewhat famous for a like deed, and bent upon a like errand. The man that I searched for I should surely find, and honest, too; for it was Aaron.
The parsonage was cruelly inhospitable. No door was left unfastened. I knocked at a window opening on the veranda. I gave the signal-knock that Sophie and I had listened and opened to, unhesitatingly, for many years. It needed nothing more. Instantly I heard Sophie say,--"That's Anna's knock"; and immediately thereafter the curtain was put aside, and Sophie's precious face and azure eyes peeped out. She looked in amazement to see me thus, and in one moment more had let me in.
"Wake Aaron," I said, without giving her time to question me.
"He is awake. What has happened? Is Miss Axtell dying?" she questioned.
"No," I said; "but I want to speak to Aaron, directly. I'm going to my room one moment."
I went up. The tower-key was hanging where I had left it. I took it down, and made myself respectable by covering up my breezy hair with a hood, with the further precaution of a cloak. I had not long to wait for Aaron's coming; but it was long enough to remind me to carry some restorative with me. Aaron came.
"Miss Axtell is very ill," I said; "she is quite wild, and left the house in the night. She's up in the church-yard tower. Will you help her brother take her home, as soon as you possibly can?"
"How strange!" were his only words; and as I went the garden way, Aaron started to arouse his horse from morning sleep.
"No one need to know the church entrance," I thought; and as I went in, I tried to close down the heavy stone, which fitted in so well, that it seemed, like all the others, built to stay.
I could not stir it. Perhaps Aaron would not look, when he came in; but doubting his special blindness, I asked Mr. Axtell to put it back. He seemed to comprehend my meaning. I took his place beside Miss Axtell. She was no longer wilful or determined. Her strength was gone. Her head drooped upon my shoulder, and when I held a spoon, filled with the restorative that I had brought, to her lips, they opened, and she took that which I gave, mechanically. Her eyelids were down. I looked at the fair, beautiful face that lay so near to my eyes. It was full of the softest pencillings; little golden sinuosities of light were woven all over it; and the blue lines along which emotion flies were wonderfully arrowy and sky-like in their wanderings, for they left no trace to tell whence they came or whither led. I heard the heavy, ponderous weight let fall. It was the same sound as that which I heard on that memorable night. Miss Axtell shivered a little; or was it but the effect of the concussion?
The brother came up; he looked down, kindly at me, lovingly at his sister.
"Shall I relieve you?" he asked.
I folded my arm only a little more tightly for answer, and said,--
"Mr. Wilton will be here soon; he is getting the carriage, to take your sister home."
"I will go and help him, if you don't mind being left"; and he looked inquiringly.
"There's no danger. I shall not fall asleep," I said.
"She's harmless now, poor child! If we can only get her back safely!" And with these words he left me again.
Sophie came up soon, quite fearless now. She brought a variety of comforting things, among them a pillow. Miss Axtell was too much exhausted to open her eyes, or speak. I thought two or three times that she had ceased to breathe. What if she should die here? They came. She was lifted up, and borne down to the carriage, that waited outside the graveyard. Helpless ones are carried in often: never before (it might be) had one been taken thence. And still the village-people seemed to be buried in rest.
Sophie and I walked on, whilst slowly the carriage proceeded to the gable-roofed, high-chimneyed house, that arose, well defined and clear, in the early sunlight. Smoke was rising from the kitchen-fire. Sophie and I went in, just as the carriage stopped. She waited to receive the invalid, whilst I went up to see if the absence had been discovered. It was but little more than an hour since Mr. Axtell and I had gone out. Evidently there had been no visitors. The wood that had been put on the fire before I left had gone down into glowing coals that looked warm and inviting. I kneeled and stirred them to a brighter glow, and put on more wood, my fingers very stiff the while. I drew back the curtains from the bed, smoothed the pillows, and the disorder occasioned by our hasty exodus, and went down. Aaron and Mr. Axtell had carried the poor invalid to the library, and laid her upon the sofa there, but it was very cold. The fire was not yet built.
There was a sound of some one coming from the kitchen-way. Mr. Axtell looked at me. "You know how to keep a secret," he said, and motioned me in the direction whence came the sound, I hurried out, closing the door, and met Katie running up to know "what had happened?"
I sent her back on some slight pretext, and followed whither she went. I heard the cook mumblingly scolding about "noises in the night, dogs barking and doors shutting, she knew; such a house as it was, with people dying, getting sick, and putting every sort of a bothersome dream into a quiet body's head, that wanted to rest, just as she worked, like a Christian." And all the while she went on making preparations for a future breakfast.
"What was 't now that ye heard? Kate, you're easy enough at hearing o' noises in the broad daylight: I wish 't ye would be as harksome at night."
"Hush, Cooky!" said Katie; "Miss Percival is here."
I went up to Cooky and soothed her, told her that I had heard the dog barking too, and that I thought that I did hear something like the shutting of a door in the night. Cooky rewarded my efforts at sympathy by expressing gladness "that there was one sensible person in the house that had ears fit for Christian purposes."
"Don't mind her, Miss Percival," Katie said; "she's cross because I wakened her too early; she'll get over it when she has had her breakfast"
I gave Katie something to do, telling her to make coffee for Miss Axtell as soon as possible; and with a few more words, meant to be conciliating to Cooky, I took up the glass Katie brought me, and went back.
They had carried Miss Axtell up-stairs. Sophie was taking her wrappings off. How carefully she had guarded herself, even in her illness, for the walk! and now, all the nerve of fever gone, she lay as white and strengthless as she had done in the tower. I went for Doctor Eaton, on my own responsibility.
"He would come in a few minutes," was the message to me.
Sophie said "that she would stay, for I must go home."
As she said so, a little wavering cloud of doubt went across her forehead, eclipsing, for a moment, its light; then all was bright again.
"What is it?" I asked. "Something for Aaron, I know."
Sophie looked the least bit like a rather old child asking for sugar-candy; but she said,--
"Just you tie his cravat for him, there's a good sister; don't forget; that's all. After that you may go to sleep, and sleep all day. You look as if you needed it."
She came to say one more forgotten thing,--
"Just see that Aaron gets a white handkerchief: he's fond of gay colors, you know. Two Sundays ago, when I wasn't looking, he carried off to church one of Chloe's turbans, and deliberately shook out the three-cornered article, and never knew the difference till his face told him it was cotton instead of silk."
I promised extra caution on the second point, and had just closed the lower door--Aaron was already holding the gate open for me--when the softly purplish bands of hair came again into the wind.
"One thing more, Anna: do see what he takes for a sermon. The text is in the fifth chapter of First Thessalonians. He will certainly pick up a Fast-day or a Thanksgiving sermon, if you don't put the right one into his hands."
"Hasn't he two sermons on the same chapter?" I asked.
"Yes, half a dozen. You'll know the one for to-day; I wrote it for him the day he had the headache; the text is"--and there was a little moment of thought; then she said--"'Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.' Aaron's waiting; don't keep him; good bye!" and she was closed in.
I felt faint and weary, now that there was no more to be done. The village-people were awake. Village-sounds were abroad in the Sunday atmosphere, vibrant with holiness. The farmers stopped in their care for their animals, and spent a moment in innocent wonder of the reason why their pastor should be abroad thus early.
Chloe's turban welcomed us first, then Chloe's self. Breakfast, that morning, had a rare charm about it for me. I felt that I had a right to it; in some wise it was a breakfast earned. Aaron looked melancholy; his coffee was not charmful, I knew; the chemical changes that sugar and milk wrought were not the same as when Sophie presided over the laboratory of the breakfast-tray. I am not an absorbent, and so I reflected Aaron's discomfort. He was disposed to question me for a reason for Miss Axtell's aberration. I was not empowered to give one, and was fully determined to impart no information until such time as I could with honor tell all. Aaron desisted after a while, and changed interrogation for information.
"We're to have a new sexton," he said.
"Why, Aaron?" I asked,--and, in my surprise, put sugar, destined for my coffee, into a glass of water.
"Because Abraham Axtell has resigned."
"This very morning."
"He will be sexton until you find another, will he not?"
"For one week only," he said.
I remembered that my pocket held the church-key. I could not send it to him without exciting question. Aaron would surely ask how I came by it, if I trusted him to restore it. So, sleepy, weary, I sat down at the window from which Sophie and her sister Anna had watched the strange man digging in the frosty earth,--sat down to my last watching, waiting to see Mr. Axtell come up to ring the first bell.
I found I was an hour too early; so I went and talked to Chloe a little, scattered crumbs for the first-come birds and corn for the chickens, and looked down the deep, deep well, with its curb lichened over, into the dark pupil of water, whose iris is never disturbed, unless by the bucket that hung in such gibbety repose on the lofty extreme of the great sweep, that creaked dismally, uttering a pitiful cry of complaint. If it hadn't been Sunday, I would have coaxed Aaron to pour some oil on its turbulence; but since Sunday it was, I was to be content to let it screech on. It was not a "sheep fallen into a pit," only a disturbed well-sweep. Do well-sweeps feel, I wonder? Why not? Mr. Axtell asked how I knew that the dead cannot hear.
Aaron came out in search of me. He had been assiduously trying to make a ministerial disposition of his cravat, until it was creased and wrinkled beyond repair.
"I did not know that you put on the paraphernalia of pastorhood so early," I said, "or I would have come in."
"I shall be very thankful, if you'll give me a respectable appearance," he said, which I faithfully tried to do.
I gave him the sermon and the proper handkerchief, then left him to his hour of seclusion before service, when even Sophie never went nigh.
Half-past nine of the clock came. It was the time for the ringing of the first bell. No sexton appeared. I looked far down the street, having walked to the corner of the church for the purpose. Perhaps Mr. Axtell was searching for the key. What if I should ring the bell? I had wished to, still earlier in the morning. No one would see me go in.
The third time I entered within the church. The bell-rope swayed to and fro with a mimic oscillation; a sort of admonitory premonition of what it must shortly do ran up its fibres. I had left the entrance into the place devoted to worship open. I closed it now. There was nothing very alarming in standing there. The floor was oaken and old; the walls were gray, and seamed with crevices; there were steps, at either extreme, leading into galleries,--one for the choir, two for happy children excluded by numbers from the straight family-pews, right under Aaron's gray eyes, that saw everything, except the few items that Sophie must watch for him, such as neckties, handkerchiefs, and sermons.
There was a smooth place on the rope. The roughness had been worn away by contact of human hands. Abraham Axtell's hands--the same that covered his face before the young girl's picture, that digged the grave, and so gently soothed his sister that very morning--had worn it smooth. It was out of my reach, too high up for me to attain unto; and so I held it tightly lower down. The ungrateful rope was very prickly; it hurt me, but I held fast, and slowly, surely drew it down. Too slowly; there was not sound enough to frighten a bird out of the belfry, had one been there to listen; but Aaron, on his knees within his study, praying for the gift of healing, that he might restore sick souls, would hear. Once more I drew the rope, with a tiny persistence that was childish, amusing. A baby-tone came to me from the bell, accustomed to other things. I had gained courage from the two attempts; it grew rapidly; and soon, out into the people's homes, the sounding strokes were ringing, clear, sonorous, and true. I had never noticed how long a time the "first bell" rang. It was the last Sunday morning's service of the sexton. He might be expected to linger a little in the net-work of memory; and thus, anxious to do my duty well, I rang on.
The neighbor's boy opened the door and put his head inside; and then he opened his eyes wondrously wide at me, and, frightened, ran away. I left my bell to tone itself to silence, with little sighing notes, like a child sobbing itself into sleep, and called after him. The rough boy came to me. I asked "if he would do me a favor." He said, "of course he would."
"I wish you to build the church-fires; and don't tell any one that you saw me ringing the bell."
"If you tell me not to, I sha'n't," was his laconic reply.
I went home, my latest duty done. I saw, far down the willow-arched street, Mr. Axtell coming.
With closed blinds, and room of silence, I ought to have found rest; but I did not. I heard Aaron go out. I trusted that he had got the proper sermon. I heard the second bell ring. It was so near, how could I help it? I heard the congregation singing. Triumphant joy was the impression that the song brought to my darkened room. I thought of the letter that was in my pocket. It did not please me to feel that it was out of my keeping. I took it thence, and held it in my hands. It had no envelope. It was written upon soft, white paper, and was addressed to some one: to whom I would not see. Not if my happiness depended upon it, would I sacrifice the trust reposed in me. Holding the letter thus, a face came to memory. It was the third face of the three that had been painted in anthracite. I could not tell where I had known it in life. It did not seem as if it belonged to mortal time. I got up, opened the blinds for a moment, and looked in the glass. I saw myself,--and yet,--yes, there was a similitude to that I saw in memory; and then that strange, sad seeming of soul-sense, that says, "Such as you are, you have been somewhere for ages," overwhelmed and sent shakings of solemn ague to me.
"I'm getting ill," I thought; "I'll have no more of this."
I looked at a bottle of chloroform standing conveniently near, took it up, and drew out the stopper. Lifting it to the light, I looked at it. Quiet and calm and peaceful it reposed, unconscious of ill done or to be done by itself. It was so innocent that I could not let it sin by hurting me. I gazed again at my reflection in the glass, and a sudden intuition taught me a startling truth.
It may have been, nay, must have been, the innocence born of the lucent chloroform, reflected in my own face; but I was certain that the mirror and the Axtell house contained two pictures that were the one like the other. I smiled at the fancy. The illusion, if illusion it was, fled. The picture on the wall never smiled from out the canvas. I took dark winding-cloths and bound them about my head, covering the hair and forehead, all the while watching the effect produced in the mirror. The result was somewhat striking, it is true, but not of the agreeable style. I unbound my frontlet, taking off the black phylactery, whose memorable sentence, written in white letters, had been visible to myself alone. A contrast suggested itself to me. I would try white; and so I materialized the suggestion, and stood looking the least bit in the world like a nun, bound about with my white vestments, and had obtained only one very unsatisfactory glimpse of the effect produced upon the sensitive heart of quicksilver, when I found that that subtile heart responded to influences other than mine. What I discovered was another face, not in the most remote degree like mine,--as different as it could possibly be,--a face belonging to the carboniferous strata of the human ages. Had it been imitating me? Its race are eminent for imitative genius. A queer sort of a nun it was, wearing neither black nor white, but high tropical hues. Repose of being did not belong to this face. It darted around, and looked into my eyes.
"Goodness o' mercy Miss Anna, what ails thee's little head? is it quite turned with being up o' nights? Lie down, little honey! let old Chloe bathe it for thee." And Chloe hummed around the room like a bee; she folded up the petals of light that I had unbudded when I wanted to see what manner of face I had. Strange fancy it is that the extra fairy gives to mortals, this breaking up of roses and dolls and joys, to find what is in them!
I was pleased to have Chloe come in, to take charge of me. I had gone a little way beyond my own proper realm, and it was grateful to feel my centrifugal tendencies overcome by this sable centripetency of force, that took off my strange habitings,--only the paraphernalia of headache to her. Pillowing the head supposed to be tormented with pain, Chloe went about to remedy the evil by drowning it in lavender-water. I let her think what she pleased, and bravely lifted up the mount of my head, like Ararat of old unto the great deluge; but she would not let me talk as I pleased. Chloe was half a century old, with a warm, affectionate, red heart under her black seeming; and it pulsated around me now, as I lay there, under her care, in absolute quiet, hushed to content by her humming ways and words.
The second hymn of the church-service was sending its voice of worship up unto the Lord of all the earth, and Chloe and I, two of the children of that Lord, upon His earth, were awed by it. "The neighbor's boy must have left a window open," I thought. The fruitage of song blossomed on, the petalled notes withered and fell, and Chloe garnered in her harvest from the field, with a quaintly expressed regret that she "wasn't in the meadows of the land of Canaan, where taller songs were growing."
"Never mind, Chloe," I said; "the hymns of earth are very sweet; you can wait a little longer, can't you?"
"Don't you talk, child; you'll make your head ache again. Yes, old Chloe is willing to wait; there's honey and sugar left on the ground for her to find, only she's old now, she can't stoop to pick it up as well as she could once."
"What do you mean, Chloe?"
"Didn't I tell ye you mustn't talk, Miss Anna? Don't be trying to trouble yourself with old Chloe's meanings: they haven't any understanding in them for other people to find out."
"Why not, Chloe?"
"Thee's talking again, Miss Anna. It's the Lord's thoughts that are given to black Chloe, and she hasn't anything to dress them up in but her own, poor, old, ragged words, that a'n't fit to use any way; so Chloe'll wait until she gets something better to make 'em 'pear to belong to the Lord that owns 'em"; and Chloe still soothingly bathed my head, which I think was aching all the while, only I should not have found it out, if she had not told me it.
"I want to ask you a question, Chloe."
"Well, just one, honey!"
"Am I much like--do I look as my mother used to?"
"Blessed child! no, no more 'n I do; only ye've both got white faces from the good Lord, and He didn't please to give Chloe anything better than a black one."
"What did she look like?"
"Thee's not to talk one word more. Chloe must go and look after Master Aaron's dinner; he doesn't like husks to feed on. Mistress Percival was like an angel, when the Lord took her from the earth. I'm afraid old Chloe wouldn't know her now, she's been so long with Seraphim and Cherubim in the Great City with the light of the Celestial Sun shining in her face. I'm afraid Chloe wouldn't dare to speak to her, if she was to meet her in the shining street of the New Jerusalem."
"She would know you, though, Chloe."
"There isn't any night there, Miss Anna; she couldn't see me; I'm black and wicked"; and Chloe dropped something upon my hand. It was a tear from her great eyes.
"Your soul will be white, Chloe. Christ will make it so."
"Well, well, honey, don't you trouble yourself 'bout my soul. The Lord made it, and I guess He'll take care of it, when it gets free from the earth"; and Chloe went down to look after a fragment of the very earth she was anxious to escape from.
I heard this child of "Afric's golden sands" singing a song to soothe her soul among the dinner-deeds that she was enacting. Then I thought me of the earth lying in the hollow of God's hand, and in some way I wished that I might get in-between the earth and the Holding Hand, and a wisp of the sweet hymn, "Nearer to Thee, my God," floated out from my heart's voice, almost with music in it. And the wishing words melted into an air of prayer. I felt the mighty Hand around me. I put myself fearlessly into the loving depths thereof, engraved with lines of life, and slept securely there. Did the divine fingers draw me a little more closely, and press the lines engraven on the Hand into my soul, and leave an impression of dreams there? I felt myself going swiftly on and up through a skyey gradient, and the soft, balmy air, displaced by my passing through, fell back into its own place with pearly music. I wanted to open my eyes and see where I was going; but I could not. I was passive in action, active in thought only. Then, the music growing fainter and fainter as the atmosphere became more celestially rarefied, I felt the supporting Hand going away from me. One after another the fingers loosened their hold, and yet I did not feel that I was falling. It was gone, and I floated on. With its absence came the wish for action. My eyes were unloosed, and I looked up. Far above me I saw the Hand that had brought me up hither. It had gone on before, and was waiting my coming. I made an effort to reach it.
A voice came; and clouds, rosy, ambient, such as angels hang around the pavilion of the sun, were unfolding their glory-woven webs and weaving me in. "It is good to be here," I whispered to my spirit's inmost sense of hearing; and the voice that I heard spake these words unto me:--
"You have been brought up hither to learn your mission upon the earth to which you go."
Old, prophetic, syllabic sounds, lisped in the place whence I had come, were given unto me, and I answered,--
"Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth!"
Then a rushing wind of sound filled my ears, and I saw the flashing of a wing of angel in among the cumulosity of clouds, and it made an opening into an ethereous region beyond. An oval, azurous picture was before me, set in this rolling, surging frame of ambient gold and silver glory.
"It is not for me to see in there," I thought; and I shut my eyes.
The voice that I had heard before spake once more:--
"Learn what thy God would have thee to do. Look up!"
Obeying the mighty behest, I beheld, and an ovaline picture, painted in the artistry of heaven, let down from the crystalline walls, that I might not see, and held fast by a cord of gold, safe in an angel's keeping, God had sent for me to look upon.
It was not such as masters of earth toil to paint. It was a living group that I saw.
Four figures stood there.
The first one was the face that I had just asked Chloe the semblance of. Loving past expression's power. The love emitted from those eyes brought tears into mine, and I heard one of them go dropping down, down into the cloudy deep below, as one day I had heard one falling elsewhere, on a cold stone.
Two hands were wafted out towards me, and the lips were just parted, as if waiting for coming words. I looked and listened, a little blinded by the glory and my tears.
"Go forth, dear child, to the work thy God appoints for thee to do!"
I looked up a little higher, just over the face of my mother, and, in holiest benediction, the Hand that had brought me up hither was laid upon her head. One stood beside her, leaning upon her shoulder. I recognized the face of the mysterious young girl.
"Will you do something for me on the earth, whence I have been called?" she asked.
The mighty voice that rang amid the clouds bade me "Answer." And tremulously, as if my poor earth-words had no place in the exceeding brightness, I gave an "I will."
"Comfort you the one afflicted. Tell him to look no longer into my grave. Let him not wander beside the marble foam that surges up from the Sea of Death, for that the Lord hath prepared another way for his footsteps. Lead him a little while on the earth, and then"----
I know not what more she would have spoken, for the Hand closed her lips. I sought my mother's face. It was gone. Another came forward. I felt involuntarily for the cold Hand that one night wandered under the sod in search of the face that now I saw in this picture let down from crystalline walls.
"I have a message for you," were the words I heard. "Tell her that I know what she would tell me: I have been made to know it here, where all things are clear: tell her that my forgiveness is as large as the heaven to which I have been permitted to enter in. Give her of the love that I did not when I might have done it."
The Hand was offered to her. Pleadingly, she looked up at it. For a moment my eyelids were heavy. When the weight was lifted, only one figure remained upon the celestial canvas. I could not see the countenance thereof: hands were clasped tightly over it.
"One more message the Lord permits for earth," said a touching, trembling, praying voice. "Say unto one sinning, that I have prayed unto the Christ that died for him,--that his mother is always praying for her son. Find out his sin, and solace his soul with the knowledge of my prayers."
The angel-wing that had cleaved the sky to let this picture in lifted her upon its pinions, and bore her through the azure, and I saw the great Hand open, as of one casting out many seeds upon the earth. Again an angel-wing swept its way among the clouds, and folds of opaline glow pavilioned the entrance into cerulean heights, and a solemn voice uttered these words out of the great All-Where around me:--
"I am the Lord thy God. I will show thee the way wherein I would have thee to walk. Rest thy soul in my love, and it shall satisfy thee."
With heart and soul and voice, my all of being cried out.--
"Only let Thy hand hold me!"
I awoke with one of those awful heart-exciting starts that come in sleep, such as a new planet might give when first projected into its orbit, before centrifugal and centripetal forces have time to exert their influences. I wonder what it is. Can it be a misstep, in the darkness, into the abyss between the land of waking and the land where there are nor years nor months nor days, where the soul abides in Lethe,--save when some wing troubles the waters for a little while?
I was wearied, with the weariness of one having come from long journeying. I closed my eyes again, and tried to sleep. Chloe looked in at me.
"Have you had a nice sleep, Miss Anna?" she asked, as I moved at her coming.
"I fear not, Chloe," I said; "my head doesn't behave nicely since I awoke. Bring me the bottle of chloroform: it's just there, upon the bureau."
Chloe went hurrying, bustling out of the room, and brought me the chloroform from some other part of the house.
"Where did you bring this from?" I asked; "do you use chloroform?"
"I've a horror of all pisons," said Chloe; "I didn't like to leave this near you; pisons is very bad for young people."
Smiling at Chloe's prudent fears for me, I inhaled a little of the friend, dangerous, and to be trusted only a little way, like the most of friends, and gave it back to Chloe. The honest woman restored it to her pocket in the presence of my two eyes. I had had enough of it, and I let her carry it away,--a victory she enjoyed, I knew, and it cost me nothing, save a smile at her idle fears for me. I did not know then that Chloe had, in her semi-century of life, found a reason for her dread of poisons, among which she evidently promoted chloroform to a high power in the field of active service.
I arose with a new feeling in my existence. I felt that I had been led into a strange avenue of life, constellated with the Southern Cross, which I had never yet seen. It was daylight now. I must await the coming of the hours when God maketh the darkness to curtain round the earth, that He may come down and walk in "the groves and grounds that His own feet have hallowed," that He may look near at what the children of men will to do. I must await this hour, when heaven will be thick with legions of starry eyes, that look down through the empyrean at their God walking among men.
Is it wonderful that they tremble so, when He who saith, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay," seeth so much to awaken the eye that "never slumbereth nor sleepeth" to retribution? If angels tremble so, safe in heavenly heights, how ought poor sinful man to fear for himself, lest that vengeance overtake him, ere he have time to cry, "Have mercy!"
I took up the Holy Bible, and opened it, as I often had done before, with the belief at work within my heart, that whatsoever words my eyes first fell upon would be prophetic to me. I opened and read, "I must work the works of Him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work."
And I, kneeling, prayed, "Show me, my God, what Thou wilt have me to do, or to be! Work Thou within me! Let the one little atom of Thyself that Thou hast given into my keeping be so holily guarded, so sacredly kept, that, at the fast, it may come back a fibre of Thine own Self, and be received into the Great Existence that liveth forever and ever!"
I arose and walked forth into this newness of life, enveloped with a halo of the Divine effluence, in which I hoped forever to dwell,--or if forever had any meaning to me, it was in an existent now.
I passed through Aaron's study, and an awe of reverence led me to pause before the table where he had worked for so many days, worked to make God's salvation seem harmonious with man's free-will; and, in loving all suffering human kind, newness of love for Aaron and for his cool-browed wife came to me: not that I had not loved them long, but there come neap-tides into the oceans of emotion, and work solemnly, awfully, until great frothings from the storm lie all a-tremble on the coasts of the land whither our course tends in the daily, hourly round of life.
I'm very glad Aaron didn't come in just then. It is good to be with God alone, in deep emotions. It never was meant by the Good Spirit for man to behold what is in his brother-man. I think we'd all fly--as far apart as the Universe would give us leave. Just let the effervescence of one life o'erlip the cup and fall into another, and the draught would be a drink of electricity. Who would care to taste it? Not Aaron, I'm sure. And so I shook out this crispy lace of emotion that was rather choking in my throat, and went down to where Chloe watched the elements whence all this chemistry had been evolved.
"I thought ye'd be coming after somewhat to eat," Chloe said; "but I knew, if I asked you, you'd sure say,' No, honey'"; and she went about to "do me good," in her own way.
I heard the afternoon's latest hymn sung in the church whilst I waited. I saw the great congregation come out, and, with divided ways, go each homeward. Sophie had not returned. I wanted to hear from Miss Axtell. Last of all walked Aaron. With bent head and slow musingness of step, he came to his home. I met him at the entrance.
"Are you tired with preaching, Aaron?" I asked.
He looked up, at my unusual accost; and I think there must have been somewhat unwonted about me, he looked at me so long.
"No," he said, "I've had a pleasant field to-day: there are violets, even in my pathways, Anna."
"Sophie's a pansy," I said.
"Sophie's a Sharon rose," spake Aaron.
He looked inquiringly at me, and added,--
"And you, Anna?"
"An aloe, Aaron."
He smiled the least in the world, and said,--
"Had I been asked, instead of being the asker, I should have made answer, 'She's a Japan rose.'"
"Oh, Aaron, no fragrance! that's not complimentary."
"Crush the leaves of heliotrope in the cup, Anna."
I did not understand what he meant, then; perhaps I do not now: some figure of speech from the Orient, I fancy, with a glow of meaning about it visible only to poetic vision. I lost my way, blinded in seeking to penetrate the mystery, and was brought back to Redleaf by two welcome events: the cup Chloe brought, and the letter Aaron gave, with a beseeching of pardon for having forgotten to give it in the morning.
I read my letter, interluding it with little commas of sipping at the cup. It was from my father, very brief, but somewhat stirring. Here it lies before me now.
"I want you at home. I am well; but that is no reason why I should not need your greenness on my walls. Come home, dear child, on the morrow. Do not fail me. You never have; 't would be cruel now, when spring is coming, the very time of hope. Waitingly,
"What puts you in such a turmoil, Anna?" Aaron asked. "What has happened at home?"
I thought he had been duly attending to the state of his own inward hopes and fears, instead of mine. Slightly disconcerted by his gray eyes, the very same that disturb turbulent boys in church-time, I turned away from them, went to the door, and leaning against the side thereof, looking the while up at the sky, I answered,--
"I'm going home on the morrow, Aaron."
"Going home?" he repeated, as if the words had borne an uncertain import. "Pray tell me, what has occurred?"
"It pleases my father to have me there. He gives no reason."
"What will Sophie say? She's hardly seen you since you came, you've been so usefully employed. I hope you have not hurt yourself. I wish you were going back with brighter color in your cheeks."
"There is something in Nature besides mere coloring," I said, and looked for the answer.
It was better than I thought to get.
"What?" he asked.
"Two things, Aaron,--conception and form."
Aaron mused awhile.
"What gave you the idea?" he asked, his musing over.
"Sermons in granite," I answered; and I looked at the sunshine, the afternoon radiance that fell soothingly into the winter-wearied grass lying in the graveyard, waiting like souls for the warmth of love to enlife them.
"Sandstone and limestone you mean, Anna."
"Oh, no,--granite. I mean the Axtells."
"I'm glad you've found anything comprehensible enough to call a sermon in them," he answered. "Ill, dying, and in affliction, they are impenetrable to me." And Aaron turned away and went in.
You can hardly have expected to hear from me again, (unless by invitation to the field of honor,) after those cruel and terrible notes upon my harmless article in the July Number. How could you find it in your heart (a soft one, as I have hitherto supposed) to treat an old friend and liege contributor in that unheard-of way? Not that I should care a fig for any amount of vituperation, if you had only let my article come before the public as I wrote it, instead of suppressing precisely the passages--with which I had taken most pains, and which I flattered myself were most cleverly done. The interview with the President, for example: it would have been a treasure to the future historian; and I hold you responsible to posterity for thrusting it into the fire. However, I cannot lose so good an opportunity of showing the world the placability and sweetness that adorn my character, and therefore send you another article, in which, I trust, you will find nothing to strike out,--unless, peradventure, you think that I may disturb the tranquillity of nations by my plan of annexing Great Britain, or my attempted adumbration of a fat English dowager!
In the course of several visits and stays of considerable length we acquired a homelike feeling towards Leamington, and came back thither again and again, chiefly because we had been there before. Wandering and wayside people, such as we had long since become, retain a few of the instincts that belong to a more settled way of life, and often prefer familiar and commonplace objects (for the very reason that they are so) to the dreary strangeness of scenes that might be thought much better worth the seeing. There is a small nest of a place in Leamington--at No. 16, Lansdowne Circus--upon which, to this day, my reminiscences are apt to settle as one of the coziest nooks in England, or in the world; not that it had any special charm of its own, but only that we stayed long enough to know it well, and even to grow a little tired of it. In my opinion, the very tediousness of home and friends makes a part of what we love them for; if it be not mixed in sufficiently with the other elements of life, there may be mad enjoyment, but no happiness.
The modest abode to which I have alluded forms one of a circular range of pretty, moderate-sized, two-story houses, all built on nearly the same plan, and each provided with its little grass-plot, its flowers, its tufts of box trimmed into globes and other fantastic shapes, and its verdant hedges shutting the house in from the common drive and dividing it from its equally cozy neighbors. Coming out of the door, and taking a turn round the circle of sister-dwellings, it is difficult to find your way back by any distinguishing individuality of your own habitation. In the centre of the Circus is a space fenced in with iron railing, a small play-place and sylvan retreat for the children of the precinct, permeated by brief paths through the fresh English grass, and shadowed by various shrubbery; amid which, if you like, you may fancy yourself in a deep seclusion, though probably the mark of eye-shot from the windows of all the surrounding houses. But, in truth, with regard to the rest of the town and the world at large, an abode here is a genuine seclusion; for the ordinary stream of life does not run through this little, quiet pool, and few or none of the inhabitants seem to be troubled with any business or outside activities. I used to set them down as half-pay officers, dowagers of narrow income, elderly maiden ladies, and other people of respectability, but small account, such as hang on the world's skirts rather than actually belong to it. The quiet of the place was seldom disturbed, except by the grocer and butcher, who came to receive orders, or the cabs, hackney-coaches, and Bath-chairs, in which the ladies took an infrequent airing, or the livery-steed which the retired captain sometimes bestrode for a morning ride, or by the red-coated postman who went his rounds twice a day to deliver letters, and again in the evening, ringing a hand-bell, to take letters for the mail. In merely mentioning these slight interruptions of its sluggish stillness, I seem to myself to disturb too much the atmosphere of quiet that brooded over the spot; whereas its impression upon me was, that the world had never found the way hither, or had forgotten it, and that the fortunate inhabitants were the only ones who possessed the spell-word of admittance. Nothing could have suited me better, at the time; for I had been holding a position of public servitude, which imposed upon me (among a great many lighter duties) the ponderous necessity of being universally civil and sociable.
Nevertheless, if a man were seeking the bustle of society, he might find it more readily in Leamington than in most other English towns. It is a permanent watering-place, a sort of institution to which I do not know any close parallel in American life: for such places as Saratoga bloom only for the summer season, and offer a thousand dissimilitudes even then; while Leamington seems to be always in flower, and serves as a home to the homeless all the year round. Its original nucleus, the plausible excuse for the town's coming into prosperous existence, lies in the fiction of a chalybeate well, which, indeed, is so far a reality that out of its magical depths have gushed streets, groves, gardens, mansions, shops, and churches, and spread themselves along the banks of the little river Leam. This miracle accomplished, the beneficent fountain has retired beneath a pump-room, and appears to have given up all pretensions to the remedial virtues formerly attributed to it. I know not whether its waters are ever tasted nowadays; but not the less does Leamington--in pleasant Warwickshire, at the very midmost point of England, in a good hunting neighborhood, and surrounded by country-seats and castles--continue to be a resort of transient visitors, and the more permanent abode of a class of genteel, unoccupied, well-to-do, but not very wealthy people, such as are hardly known among ourselves. Persons who have no country-houses, and whose fortunes are inadequate to a London expenditure, find here, I suppose, a sort of town and country life in one.
In its present aspect, the town is of no great age. In contrast with the antiquity of many places in its neighborhood, it has a bright, new face, and seems almost to smile even amid the sombreness of an English autumn. Nevertheless, it is hundreds upon hundreds of years old, if we reckon up that sleepy lapse of time during which it existed as a small village of thatched houses, clustered round a priory; and it would still have been precisely such a rural village, but for a certain Doctor Jephson, who lived within the memory of man, and who found out the magic well, and foresaw what fairy wealth might be made to flow from it. A public garden has been laid out along the margin of the Leam, and called the Jephson Garden, in honor of him who created the prosperity of his native spot. A little way within the garden-gate there is a circular temple of Grecian architecture, beneath the dome of which stands a marble statue of the good Doctor, very well executed, and representing him with a face of fussy activity and benevolence: just the kind of man, if luck favored him, to build up the fortunes of those about him, or, quite as probably, to blight his whole neighborhood by some disastrous speculation.
The Jephson Garden is very beautiful, like most other English pleasure-grounds; for, aided by their moist climate and not too fervid sun, the landscape-gardeners excel in converting flat or tame surfaces into attractive scenery, chiefly through the skilful arrangement of trees and shrubbery. An Englishman aims at this effect even in the little patches under the windows of a suburban villa, and achieves it on a larger scale in a tract of many acres. The Garden is shadowed with trees of a fine growth, standing alone, or in dusky groves and dense entanglements, pervaded by woodland paths; and emerging from these pleasant glooms, we come upon a breadth of sunshine, where the green sward--so vividly green that it has a kind of lustre in it--is spotted with beds of gemlike flowers. Rustic chairs and benches are scattered about, some of them ponderously fashioned out of the stumps of obtruncated trees, and others more artfully made with intertwining branches, or perhaps an imitation of such frail handiwork in iron. In a central part of the Garden is an archery-ground, where laughing maidens practise at the butts, generally missing their ostensible mark, but, by the mere grace of their action, sending an unseen shaft into some young man's heart. There is space, moreover, within these precincts, for an artificial lake, with a little green island in the midst of it; both lake and island being the haunt of swans, whose aspect and movement in the water are most beautiful and stately,--most infirm, disjointed, and decrepit, when, unadvisedly, they see fit to emerge, and try to walk upon dry land. In the latter case, they look like a breed of uncommonly ill-contrived geese; and I record the matter here for the sake of the moral,--that we should never pass judgment on the merits of any person or thing, unless we behold it in the sphere and circumstances to which it is specially adapted. In still another part of the Garden there is a labyrinthine maze, formed of an intricacy of hedge-bordered walks, involving himself in which, a man might wander for hours inextricably within a circuit of only a few yards,--a sad emblem, it seemed to me, of the mental and moral perplexities in which we sometimes go astray, petty in scope, yet large enough to entangle a lifetime, and bewilder us with a weary movement, but no genuine progress.
The Leam, after drowsing across the principal street of the town beneath a handsome bridge, skirts along the margin of the Garden without any perceptible flow. Heretofore I had fancied the Concord the laziest river in the world, but now assign that amiable distinction to the little English stream. Its water is by no means transparent, but has a greenish, goose-puddly hue, which, however, accords well with the other coloring and characteristics of the scene, and is disagreeable neither to sight nor smell. Certainly, this river is a perfect feature of that gentle picturesqueness in which England is so rich, sleeping, as it does, beneath a margin of willows that droop into its bosom, and other trees, of deeper verdure than our own country can boast, inclining lovingly over it. On the Garden-side it is bordered by a shadowy, secluded grove, with winding paths among its boskiness, affording many a peep at the river's imperceptible lapse and tranquil gleam; and on the opposite shore stands the priory-church, with its church-yard full of shrubbery and tombstones.
The business-portion of the town clusters about the banks of the Leam, and is naturally densest around the well to which the modern settlement owes its existence. Here are the commercial inns, the post-office, the furniture-dealers, the ironmongers, and all the heavy and homely establishments that connect themselves even with the airiest modes of human life; while upward from the river, by a long and gentle ascent, rises the principal street, which is very bright and cheerful in its physiognomy, and adorned with shop-fronts almost as splendid as those of London, though on a diminutive scale. There are likewise side-streets and cross-streets, many of which are bordered with the beautiful Warwickshire elm, a most unusual kind of adornment for an English town; and spacious avenues, wide enough to afford room for stately groves, with foot-paths running beneath the lofty shade, and rooks cawing and chattering so high In the tree-tops that their voices get musical before reaching the earth. The houses are mostly built in blocks and ranges, in which every separate tenement is a repetition of its fellow, though the architecture of the different ranges is sufficiently various. Some of them are almost palatial in size and sumptuousness of arrangement. Then, on the outskirts of the town, there are detached villas, inclosed within that separate domain of high stone fence and embowered shrubbery which an Englishman so loves to build and plant around his abode, presenting to the public only an iron gate, with a gravelled carriage-drive winding away towards the half-hidden mansion. Whether in street or suburb, Leamington may fairly be called beautiful, and, at some points, magnificent; but by-and-by you become doubtfully suspicious of a somewhat unreal finery: it is pretentious, though not glaringly so; it has been built, with malice aforethought, as a place of gentility and enjoyment. Moreover, splendid as the houses look, and comfortable as they often are, there is a nameless something about them, betokening that they have not grown out of human hearts, but are the creations of a skilfully applied human intellect: no man has reared any one of them, whether stately or humble, to be his life-long residence, wherein to bring up his children, who are to inherit it as a home. They are nicely contrived lodging-houses, one and all,--the best as well as the shabbiest of them,--and therefore inevitably lack some nameless property that a home should have. This was the case with our own little snuggery in Lansdowne Circus, as with all the rest: it had not grown out of anybody's individual need, but was built to let or sell, and was therefore like a ready-made garment,--a tolerable fit, but only tolerable.
All these blocks, ranges, and detached villas are adorned with the finest and most aristocratic names that I have found anywhere in England, except, perhaps, in Bath, which is the great metropolis of that second-class gentility with which watering-places are chiefly populated. Lansdowne Crescent, Lansdowne Circus, Lansdowne Terrace, Regent Street, Warwick Street, Clarendon Street, the Upper and Lower Parade: such are a few of the designations. Parade, indeed, is a well-chosen name for the principal street, along which the population of the idle town draws itself out for daily review and display. I only wish that my descriptive powers would enable me to throw off a picture of the scene at a sunny noontide, individualizing each character with a touch: the great people alighting from their carriages at the principal shop-doors; the elderly ladies and infirm Indian officers drawn along in Bath-chairs; the comely, rather than pretty, English girls, with their deep, healthy bloom, which an American taste is apt to deem fitter for a milkmaid than for a lady; the moustached gentlemen with frogged surtouts and a military air; the nursemaids and chubby children, but no chubbier than our own, and scampering on slenderer legs; the sturdy figure of John Bull in all varieties and of all ages, but ever with the stamp of authenticity somewhere about him.
To say the truth, I have been holding the pen over my paper, purposing to write a descriptive paragraph or two about the throng on the principal Parade of Leamington, so arranging it as to present a sketch of the British out-of-door aspect on a morning walk of gentility; but I find no personages quite sufficiently distinct and individual in my memory to supply the materials of such a panorama. Oddly enough, the only figure that comes fairly forth to my mind's eye is that of a dowager, one of hundreds whom I used to marvel at, all over England, but who have scarcely a representative among our own ladies of autumnal life, so thin, careworn, and frail, as age usually makes the latter. I have heard a good deal of the tenacity with which English ladies retain their personal beauty to a late period of life; but (not to suggest that an American eye needs use and cultivation before it can quite appreciate the charm of English beauty at any age) it strikes me that an English lady of fifty is apt to become a creature less refined and delicate, so far as her physique goes, than anything that we Western people class under the name of woman. She has an awful ponderosity of frame, not pulpy, like the looser development of our few fat women, but massive with solid beef and streaky tallow; so that (though struggling manfully against the idea) you inevitably think of her as made up of steaks and sirloins. When she walks, her advance is elephantine. When she sits down, it is on a great round space of her Maker's footstool, where she looks as if nothing could ever move her. She imposes awe and respect by the muchness of her personality, to such a degree that you probably credit her with far greater moral and intellectual force than she can fairly claim. Her visage is usually grim and stern, not always positively forbidding, yet calmly terrible, not merely by its breadth and weight of feature, but because it seems to express so much well-founded self-reliance, such acquaintance with the world, its toils, troubles, and dangers, and such sturdy capacity for trampling down a foe. Without anything positively salient, or actively offensive, or, indeed, unjustly formidable to her neighbors, she has the effect of a seventy-four gun-ship in time of peace; for, while you assure yourself that there is no real danger, you cannot help thinking how tremendous would be her onset, if pugnaciously inclined, and how futile the effort to inflict any counter-injury. She certainly looks tenfold--nay, a hundredfold--better able to take care of herself than our slender-framed and haggard womankind; but I have not found reason to suppose that the English dowager of fifty has actually greater courage, fortitude, and strength of character than our women of similar age, or even a tougher physical endurance than they. Morally, she is strong, I suspect, only in society, and in the common routine of social affairs, and would be found powerless and timid in any exceptional strait that might call for energy outside of the conventionalities amid which she has grown up.
You can meet this figure in the street, and live, and even smile at the recollection. But conceive of her in a ball-room, with the bare, brawny arms that she invariably displays there, and all the other corresponding development, such as is beautiful in the maiden blossom, but a spectacle to howl at in such an overblown cabbage-rose as this.
Yet, somewhere in this enormous bulk there must be hidden the modest, slender, violet-nature of a girl, whom an alien mass of earthliness has unkindly overgrown; for an English maiden in her teens, though very seldom so pretty as our own damsels, possesses, to say the truth, a certain charm of half-blossom, and delicately folded leaves, and tender womanhood shielded by maidenly reserves, with which, somehow or other, our American girls often fail to adorn themselves during an appreciable moment. It is a pity that the English violet should grow into such an outrageously developed peony as I have attempted to describe. I wonder whether a middle-aged husband ought to be considered as legally married to all the accretions that have overgrown the slenderness of his bride, since he led her to the altar, and which make her so much more than he ever bargained for! Is it not a sounder view of the case, that the matrimonial bond cannot be held to include the three-fourths of the wife that had no existence when the ceremony was performed? And as a matter of conscience and good morals, ought not an English married pair to insist upon the celebration of a Silver Wedding at the end of twenty-five years, in order to legalize and mutually appropriate that corporeal growth of which both parties have individually come into possession since they were pronounced one flesh?
The chief enjoyment of my several visits to Leamington lay in rural walks about the neighborhood, and in jaunts to places of note and interest, which are particularly abundant in that region. The high-roads are made pleasant to the traveller by a border of trees, and often afford him the hospitality of a wayside-bench beneath a comfortable shade. But a fresher delight is to be found in the foot-paths, which go wandering away from stile to stile, along hedges, and across broad fields, and through wooded parks, leading you to little hamlets of thatched cottages, ancient, solitary farm-houses, picturesque old mills, streamlets, pools, and all those quiet, secret, unexpected, yet strangely familiar features of English scenery that Tennyson shows us in his idyls and eclogues. These by-paths admit the wayfarer into the very heart of rural life, and yet do not burden him with a sense of intrusiveness. He has a right to go whithersoever they lead him; for, with all their shaded privacy, they are as much the property of the public as the dusty high-road itself, and even by an older tenure. Their antiquity probably exceeds that of the Roman ways; the footsteps of the aboriginal Britons first wore away the grass, and the natural flow of intercourse between village and village has kept the track bare ever since. An American fanner would plough across any such path, and obliterate it with his hills of potatoes and Indian corn; but here it is protected by law, and still more by the sacredness that inevitably springs up, in this soil, along the well-defined footprints of centuries. Old associations are sure to be fragrant herbs in English nostrils: we pull them up as weeds.
I remember such a path, the access to which is from Lovers' Grove, a range of tall old oaks and elms on a high hill-top, whence there is a view of Warwick Castle, and a wide extent of landscape, beautiful, though bedimmed with English mist. This particular foot-path, however, is not a remarkably good specimen of its kind, since it leads into no hollows and seclusions, and soon terminates in a high-road. It connects Leamington by a short cut with the small neighboring village of Lillington, a place which impresses an American observer with its many points of contrast to the rural aspects of his own country. The village consists chiefly of one row of contiguous dwellings, separated only by party-walls, but ill-matched among themselves, being of different heights, and apparently of various ages, though all are of an antiquity which we should call venerable. Some of the windows are leaden-framed lattices, opening on hinges. These houses are mostly built of gray stone; but others, in the same range, are of brick, and one or two are in a very old fashion,--Elizabethan, or still older,--having a ponderous framework of oak, painted black, and filled in with plastered stone or bricks. Judging by the patches of repair, the oak seems to be the more durable part of the structure. Some of the roofs are covered with earthen tiles; others (more decayed and poverty-stricken) with thatch, out of which sprouts a luxurious vegetation of grass, house-leeks, and yellow flowers. What especially strikes an American is the lack of that insulated space, the intervening gardens, grass-plots, orchards, broad-spreading shade-trees, which occur between our own village-houses. These English dwellings have no such separate surroundings; they all grow together, like the cells of a honey-comb.
Beyond the first row of houses, and hidden from it by a turn of the road, there was another row (or block, as we should call it) of small, old cottages, stuck one against another, with their thatched roofs forming a single contiguity. These, I presume, were the habitations of the poorest order of rustic laborers; and the narrow precincts of each cottage, as well as the close neighborhood of the whole, gave the impression of a stifled, unhealthy atmosphere among the occupants. It seemed impossible that there should be a cleanly reserve, a proper self-respect among individuals, or a wholesome unfamiliarity between families, where human life was crowded and massed into such intimate communities as these. Nevertheless, not to look beyond the outside, I never saw a prettier rural scene than was presented by this range of contiguous huts; for in front of the whole row was a luxuriant and well-trimmed hawthorn hedge, and belonging to each cottage was a little square of garden-ground, separated from its neighbors by a line of the same verdant fence. The gardens were chock-full, not of esculent vegetables, but of flowers, familiar ones, but very bright-colored, and shrubs of box, some of which were trimmed into artistic shapes; and I remember, before one door, a representation of Warwick Castle, made of oyster-shells. The cottagers evidently loved the little nests in which they dwelt, and did their best to make them beautiful, and succeeded more than tolerably well,--so kindly did Nature help their humble efforts with its verdure, flowers, moss, lichens, and the green things that grew out of the thatch. Through some of the open door-ways we saw plump children rolling about on the stone floors, and their mothers, by no means very pretty, but as happy-looking as mothers generally are; and while we gazed at these domestic matters, an old woman rushed wildly out of one of the gates, upholding a shovel, on which she clanged and clattered with a key. At first we fancied that she intended an onslaught against ourselves, but soon discovered that a more dangerous enemy was abroad; for the old lady's bees had swarmed, and the air was full of them, whizzing by our heads like bullets.
Not far from these two rows of houses and cottages, a green lane, overshadowed with trees, turned aside from the main road, and tended towards a square, gray tower, the battlements of which were just high enough to be visible above the foliage. Wending our way thitherward, we found the very picture and ideal of a country-church and church-yard. The tower seemed to be of Norman architecture, low, massive, and crowned with battlements. The body of the church was of very modest dimensions, and the eaves so low that I could touch them with my walking-stick. We looked into the windows, and beheld the dim and quiet interior, a narrow space, but venerable with the consecration of many centuries, and keeping its sanctity as entire and inviolate as that of a vast cathedral. The nave was divided from the side aisles of the church by pointed arches resting on very sturdy pillars: it was good to see how solemnly they held themselves to their age-long task of supporting that lowly roof. There was a small organ, suited in size to the vaulted hollow, which it weekly filled with religious sound. On the opposite wall of the church, between two windows, was a mural tablet of white marble, with an inscription in black letters,--the only such memorial that I could discern, although many dead people doubtless lay beneath the floor, and had paved it with their ancient tombstones, as is customary in old English churches. There were no modern painted windows, flaring with raw colors, nor other gorgeous adornments, such as the present taste for medieval restoration often patches upon the decorous simplicity of the gray village-church. It is probably the worshipping-place of no more distinguished a congregation than the farmers and peasantry who inhabit the houses and cottages which I have just described. Had the lord of the manor been one of the parishioners, there would have been an eminent pew near the chancel, walled high about, curtained, and softly cushioned, warmed by a fireplace of its own, and distinguished by hereditary tablets and escutcheons on the inclosed stone pillar.
A well-trodden path led across the church-yard, and the gate being on the latch, we entered, and walked round among the graves and monuments. The latter were chiefly head-stones, none of which were very old, so far as was discoverable by the dates; some, indeed, in so ancient a cemetery, were disagreeably new, with inscriptions glittering like sunshine, in gold letters. The ground must have been dug over and over again, innumerable times, until the soil is made up of what was once human clay, out of which have sprung successive crops of gravestones, that flourish their allotted time, and disappear, like the weeds and flowers in their briefer period. The English climate is very unfavorable to the endurance of memorials in the open air. Twenty years of it suffice to give as much antiquity of aspect, whether to tombstone or edifice, as a hundred years of our own drier atmosphere,--so soon do the drizzly rains and constant moisture corrode the surface of marble or freestone. Sculptured edges lose their sharpness in a year or two; yellow lichens overspread a beloved name, and obliterate it while it is yet fresh upon some survivor's heart. Time gnaws an English gravestone with wonderful appetite; and when the inscription is quite illegible, the sexton takes the useless slab away, and perhaps makes a hearthstone of it, and digs up the unripe bones which it ineffectually tried to memorialize, and gives the bed to another sleeper. In the Charter-Street burial-ground at Salem, and in the old graveyard on the hill at Ipswich, I have seen more ancient gravestones, with legible inscriptions on them, than in any English church-yard.
And yet this same ungenial climate, hostile as it generally is to the long remembrance of departed people, has sometimes a lovely way of dealing with the records on certain monuments that lie horizontally in the open air. The rain falls into the deep incisions of the letters, and has scarcely time to be dried away before another shower sprinkles the flat stone again, and replenishes those little reservoirs. The unseen, mysterious seeds of mosses find their way into the lettered furrows, and are made to germinate by the continual moisture and watery sunshine of the English sky; and by-and-by, in a year, or two years, or many years, behold the complete inscription--HERE LIETH THE BODY, and all the rest of the tender falsehood--beautifully embossed in raised letters of living green, a bas-relief of velvet moss on the marble slab! It becomes more legible, under the skyey influences, after the world has forgotten the deceased, than when it was fresh from the stone-cutter's hands. It outlives the grief of friends. I first saw an example of this in Bebbington church-yard, in Cheshire, and thought that Nature must needs have had a special tenderness for the person (no noted man, however, in the world's history) so long ago laid beneath that stone, since she took such wonderful pains to "keep his memory green." Perhaps the proverbial phrase just quoted may have had its origin in the natural phenomenon here described.
While we rested ourselves on a horizontal monument, which was elevated just high enough to be a convenient seat, I observed that one of the gravestones lay very close to the church,--so close that the droppings of the eaves would fall upon it. It seemed as if the inmate of that grave had desired to creep under the church-wall. On closer inspection, we found an almost illegible epitaph on the stone, and with difficulty made out this forlorn verse:--
And poorly died,
And no one cried."
It would be hard to compress the story of a cold and luckless life, death, and burial into fewer words, or more impressive ones; at least, we found them impressive, perhaps because we had to re-create the inscription by scraping away the lichens from the faintly traced letters. The grave was on the shady and damp side of the church, endwise towards it, the head-stone being within about three feet of the foundation-wall; so that, unless the poor man was a dwarf, he must have been doubled up to fit him into his final resting-place. No wonder that his epitaph murmured against so poor a burial as this! His name, as well as I could make it out, was Treeo,--John Treeo, I think,--and he died in 1810, at the age of seventy-four. The gravestone is so overgrown with grass and weeds, so covered with unsightly lichens, and crumbly with time and foul weather, that it is questionable whether anybody will ever be at the trouble of deciphering it again. But there is a quaint and sad kind of enjoyment in defeating (to such slight degree as my pen may do it) the probabilities of oblivion for poor John Treeo, and asking a little sympathy for him, half a century after his death, and making him better and more widely known, at least, than any other slumberer in Lillington church-yard: he having been, as appearances go, the outcast of them all.
You find similar old churches and villages in all the neighboring country, at the distance of every two or three miles; and I describe them, not as being rare, but because they are so common and characteristic. The village of Whitnash, within twenty minutes' walk of Leamington, looks as secluded, as rural, and as little disturbed by the fashions of to-day, as if Doctor Jephson had never developed all those Parades and Crescents out of his magic well. I used to wonder whether the inhabitants had ever yet heard of railways, or, at their slow rate of progress, had even reached the epoch of stage-coaches. As you approach the village, while it is yet unseen, you observe a tall, overshadowing canopy of elm-tree tops, beneath which you almost hesitate to follow the public road, on account of the remoteness that seems to exist between the precincts of this old-world community and the thronged modern street out of which you have so recently emerged. Venturing onward, however, you soon find yourself in the heart of Whitnash, and see an irregular ring of ancient rustic dwellings surrounding the village-green, on one side of which stands the church, with its square Norman tower and battlements, while close adjoining is the vicarage, made picturesque by peaks and gables. At first glimpse, none of the houses appear to be less than two or three centuries old, and they are of the ancient, wooden-framed fashion, with thatched roofs, which give them the air of birds' nests, thereby assimilating them closely to the simplicity of Nature.
The church-tower is mossy and much gnawed by time; it has narrow loop-holes up and down its front and sides, and an arched window over the low portal, set with small panes of glass, cracked, dim, and irregular, through which a bygone age is peeping out into the daylight. Some of those old, grotesque faces, called gargoyles, are seen on the projections of the architecture. The church-yard is very small, and is encompassed by a gray stone fence that looks as ancient as the church itself. In front of the tower, on the village-green, is a yew-tree of incalculable age, with a vast circumference of trunk, but a very scanty head of foliage; though its boughs still keep some of the vitality which perhaps was in its early prime when the Saxon invaders founded Whitnash. A thousand years is no extraordinary antiquity in the lifetime of a yew. We were pleasantly startled, however, by discovering an exuberance of more youthful life than we had thought possible in so old a tree; for the faces of two children laughed at us out of an opening in the trunk, which had become hollow with long decay. On one side of the yew stood a framework of worm-eaten timber, the use and meaning of which puzzled me exceedingly, till I made it out to be the village-stocks: a public institution that, in its day, had doubtless hampered many a pair of shank-bones, now crumbling in the adjacent church-yard. It is not to be supposed, however, that this old-fashioned mode of punishment is still in vogue among the good people of Whitnash. The vicar of the parish has antiquarian propensities, and had probably dragged the stocks out of some dusty hiding-place, and set them up on their former site as a curiosity.
I disquiet myself in vain with the effort to hit upon some characteristic feature, or assemblage of features, that shall convey to the reader the influence of hoar antiquity lingering into the present daylight, as I so often felt it in these old English scenes. It is only an American who can feel it; and even he begins to find himself growing insensible to its effect, after a long residence in England. But while you are still new in the old country, it thrills you with strange emotion to think that this little church of Whitnash, humble as it seems, stood for ages under the Catholic faith, and has not materially changed since Wickcliffe's days, and that it looked as gray as now in Bloody Mary's time, and that Cromwell's troopers broke off the stone noses of those same gargoyles that are now grinning in your face. So, too, with the immemorial yew-tree: you see its great roots grasping hold of the earth like gigantic claws, clinging so sturdily that no effort of time can wrench them away; and there being life in the old tree, you feel all the more as if a contemporary witness were telling you of the things that have been. It has lived among men, and been a familiar object to them, and seen them brought to be christened and married and buried in the neighboring church and church-yard, through so many centuries, that it knows all about our race, so far as fifty generations of the Whitnash people can supply such knowledge. And, after all, what a weary life it must have been for the old tree! Tedious beyond imagination! Such, I think, is the final impression on the mind of an American visitor, when his delight at finding something permanent begins to yield to his Western love of change, and he becomes sensible of the heavy air of a spot where the forefathers and foremothers have grown up together, intermarried, and died, through a long succession of lives, without any intermixture of new elements, till family features and character are all run in the same inevitable mould. Life is there fossilized in its greenest leaf. The man who died yesterday or ever so long ago walks the village-street to-day, and chooses the same wife that he married a hundred years since, and must be buried again to-morrow under the same kindred dust that has already covered him half a score of times. The stone threshold of his cottage is worn away with his hob-nailed footsteps, scuffling over it from the reign of the first Plantagenet to that of Victoria. Better than this is the lot of our restless countrymen, whose modern instinct bids them tend always towards "fresh woods and pastures new." Rather than such monotony of sluggish ages, loitering on a village-green, toiling in hereditary fields, listening to the parson's drone lengthened through centuries in the gray Norman church, let us welcome whatever change may come,--change of place, social customs, political institutions, modes of worship,--trusting, that, if all present things shall vanish, they will but make room for better systems, and for a higher type of man to clothe his life in them, and to fling them off in turn.
Nevertheless, while an American willingly accepts growth and change as the law of his own national and private existence, he has a singular tenderness for the stone-incrusted institutions of the mother-country. The reason may be (though I should prefer a more generous explanation) that he recognizes the tendency of these hardened forms to stiffen her joints and fetter her ankles, in the race and rivalry of improvement. I hated to see so much as a twig of ivy wrenched away from an old wall in England. Yet change is at work, even in such a village as Whitnash. At a subsequent visit, looking more critically at the irregular circle of dwellings that surround the yew-tree and confront the church, I perceived that some of the houses must have been built within no long time, although the thatch, the quaint gables, and the old oaken framework of the others diffused an air of antiquity over the whole assemblage. The church itself was undergoing repair and restoration, which is but another name for change. Masons were making patchwork on the front of the tower, and were sawing a slab of stone and piling up bricks to strengthen the side-wall, or enlarge the ancient edifice by an additional aisle. Moreover, they had dug an immense pit in the church-yard, long and broad, and fifteen feet deep, two-thirds of which profundity were discolored by human decay and mixed up with crumbly bones. What this excavation was intended for I could nowise imagine, unless it were the very pit in which Longfellow bids the "Dead Past bury its Dead," and Whitnash, of all places in the world, were going to avail itself of our poet's suggestion. If so, it must needs be confessed that many picturesque and delightful things would be thrown into the hole, and covered out of sight forever.
The article which I am writing has taken its own course, and occupied itself almost wholly with country churches; whereas I had purposed to attempt a description of some of the many old towns--Warwick, Coventry, Kenilworth, Stratford-on-Avon--which lie within an easy scope of Leamington. And still another church presents itself to my remembrance. It is that of Hatton, on which I stumbled in the course of a forenoon's ramble, and paused a little while to look at it for the sake of old Doctor Parr, who was once its vicar. Hatton, so far as I could discover, has no public-house, no shop, no contiguity of roofs, (as in most English villages, however small,) but is merely an ancient neighborhood of farm-houses, spacious, and standing wide apart, each within its own precincts, and offering a most comfortable aspect of orchards, harvest-fields, barns, stacks, and all manner of rural plenty. It seemed to be a community of old settlers, among whom everything had been going on prosperously since an epoch beyond the memory of man; and they kept a certain privacy among themselves, and dwelt on a cross-road at the entrance of which was a barred gate, hospitably open, but still impressing me with a sense of scarcely warrantable intrusion. After all, in some shady nook of those gentle Warwickshire slopes there may have been a denser and more populous settlement, styled Hatton, which I never reached.
Emerging from the by-road, and entering upon one that crossed it at right angles and led to Warwick, I espied the church of Doctor Parr. Like the others which I have described, it had a low stone tower, square, and battlemented at its summit: for all these little churches seem to have been built on the same model, and nearly at the same measurement, and have even a greater family-likeness than the cathedrals. As I approached, the bell of the tower (a remarkably deep-toned bell, considering how small it was) flung its voice abroad, and told me that it was noon. The church stands among its graves, a little removed from the wayside, quite apart from any collection of houses, and with no signs of a vicarage; it is a good deal shadowed by trees, and not wholly destitute of ivy. The body of the edifice, unfortunately, (and it is an outrage which the English churchwardens are fond of perpetrating,) has been newly covered with a yellowish plaster or wash, so as quite to destroy the aspect of antiquity, except upon the tower, which wears the dark gray hue of many centuries. The chancel-window is painted with a representation of Christ upon the Cross, and all the other windows are full of painted or stained glass, but none of it ancient, nor (if it be fair to judge from without of what ought to be seen within) possessing any of the tender glory that should be the inheritance of this branch of Art, revived from mediaeval times. I stepped over the graves, and peeped in at two or three of the windows, and saw the snug interior of the church glimmering through the many-colored panes, like a show of commonplace objects under the fantastic influence of a dream: for the floor was covered with modern pews, very like what we may see in a New-England meeting-house, though, I think, a little more favorable than those would be to the quiet slumbers of the Hatton farmers and their families. Those who slept under Doctor Parr's preaching now prolong their nap, I suppose, in the church-yard round about, and can scarcely have drawn much spiritual benefit from any truths that he contrived to tell them in their lifetime. It struck me as a rare example (even where examples are numerous) of a man utterly misplaced, that this enormous scholar, great in the classic tongues, and inevitably converting his own simplest vernacular into a learned language, should have been set up in this homely pulpit, and ordained to preach salvation to a rustic audience, to whom it is difficult to imagine how he could ever have spoken one available word.
Almost always, in visiting such scenes as I have been attempting to describe, I had a singular sense of having been there before. The ivy-grown English churches (even that of Bebbington, the first that I beheld) were quite as familiar to me, when fresh from home, as the old wooden meeting-house in Salem, which used, on wintry Sabbaths, to be the frozen purgatory of my childhood. This was a bewildering, yet very delightful emotion, fluttering about me like a faint summer-wind, and filling my imagination with a thousand half-remembrances, which looked as vivid as sunshine, at a side-glance, but faded quite away whenever I attempted to grasp and define them. Of course, the explanation of the mystery was, that history, poetry, and fiction, books of travel, and the talk of tourists, had given me pretty accurate preconceptions of the common objects of English scenery, and these, being long ago vivified by a youthful fancy, had insensibly taken their places among the images of things actually seen. Yet the illusion was often so powerful, that I almost doubted whether such airy remembrances might not be a sort of innate idea, the print of a recollection in some ancestral mind, transmitted, with fainter and fainter impress through several descents, to my own. I felt, indeed, like the stalwart progenitor in person, returning to the hereditary haunts after more than two hundred years, and finding the church, the hall, the farm-house, the cottage, hardly changed during his long absence,--the same shady by-paths and hedge-lanes, the same veiled sky, and green lustre of the lawns and fields,--while his own affinities for these things, a little obscured by disuse, were reviving at every step.
An American is not very apt to love the English people, as a whole, on whatever length of acquaintance. I fancy that they would value our regard, and even reciprocate it in their ungracious way, if we could give it to them in spite of all rebuffs; but they are beset by a curious and inevitable infelicity, which compels them, as it were, to keep up what they seem to consider a wholesome bitterness of feeling between themselves and all other nationalities, especially that of America. They will never confess it; nevertheless, it is as essential a tonic to them as their bitter ale. Therefore--and possibly, too, from a similar narrowness in his own character--an American seldom feels quite as if he were at home among the English people. If he do so, he has ceased to be an American. But it requires no long residence to make him love their island, and appreciate it as thoroughly as they themselves do. For my part, I used to wish that we could annex it, transferring their thirty millions of inhabitants to some convenient wilderness in the great West, and putting half or a quarter as many of ourselves into their places. The change would be beneficial to both parties. We, in our dry atmosphere, are getting too nervous, haggard, dyspeptic, extenuated, unsubstantial, theoretic, and need to be made grosser. John Bull, on the other hand, has grown bulbous, long-bodied, short-legged, heavy-witted, material, and, in a word, too intensely English. In a few more centuries he will be the earthliest creature that ever the earth saw. Heretofore Providence has obviated such a result by timely intermixtures of alien races with the old English stock; so that each successive conquest of England has proved a victory, by the revivification and improvement of its native manhood. Cannot America and England hit upon some scheme to secure even greater advantages to both nations?
The power and efficiency of an army consist in the amount of the power and efficiency of its elements, in the health, strength, and energy of its members. No army can be strong, however numerous its soldiers, if they are weak; nor is it completely strong, unless every member is in full vigor. The weakness of any part, however small, diminishes, to that extent, the force of the whole; and the increase of power in any part adds so much to the total strength.
In order, then, to have a strong and effective army, it is necessary not only to have a sufficient number of men, but that each one of these should have in himself the greatest amount of force, the fullest health and energy the human body can present.
This is usually regarded in the original creation of an army. The soldiers are picked men. None but those of perfect form, complete in all their organization and functions, and free from every defect or disease, are intended to be admitted. The general community, in civil life, includes not only the strong and healthy, but also the defective, the weak, and the sick, the blind, the halt, the consumptive, the rheumatic, the immature in childhood, and the exhausted and decrepit in age.
In the enlistment of recruits, the candidates for the army are rigidly examined, and none are admitted except such as appear to be mentally and physically sound and perfect. Hence, many who offer their services to the Government are rejected, and sometimes the proportion accepted is very small.
In Great Britain and Ireland, during the twenty years from 1832 to 1851 inclusive, 305,897 applied for admission into the British army. Of these, 97,457, or 32 per cent., were rejected, and only 208,440, or 68 per cent., were accepted.
In France, during thirteen years, 1831 to 1843 inclusive, 2,280,540 were offered for examination as candidates for the army. Of these, 182,664, being too short, though perhaps otherwise in possession of all the requisites of health, were not examined, leaving 2,097,876, who were considered as candidates for examination. Of these, 680,560, or 32.5 per cent, were rejected on account of physical unfitness, and only 1,417,316, or 67.5 per cent., were allowed to join the army.
The men who ordinarily offer for the American army, in time of peace, are of still inferior grade, as to health and strength. In the year 1852, at the several recruiting-stations, 16,114 presented themselves for enlistment, and 10,945, or 67.9 per cent., were rejected, for reasons not connected with health:--
3,162 too young,
732 too old,
1,806 too short,
2,434 could not speak English,
32 extremely ignorant,
106 of bad morals,
51 had been in armies from which
--------- they had deserted,
All of these may have been in good health.
Of the remainder, 5,169, who were subjects of further inquiry, 2,443 were rejected for reasons connected with their physical or mental condition:--
630 unsound in physical constitution, 16 unsound in mind,
314 had diseased eyes,
55 had diseased ears,
314 had hernia,
1,071 had varicose veins,
Only 2,726 were accepted, being 52.7 per cent, of those who were examined, and less than 17 per cent., or about one-sixth, of all who offered themselves as candidates for the army, in that year.
In time of peace, the character of the men who desire to become soldiers differs with the degree of public prosperity. When business is good, most men obtain employment in the more desirable and profitable avocations of civil life. Then a larger proportion of those who are willing to enter the army are unfitted, by their habits or their health, for the occupations of peace, and go to the rendezvous only as a last resort, to obtain their bread. But when business falters, a larger and a better class are thrown out of work, and are glad to enter the service of the country by bearing arms. The year 1852 was one of prosperity, and affords, therefore, no indication of the class and character of men who are willing to enlist in the average years. The Government Reports state that in some other years 6,383 were accepted and 3,617 rejected out of 10,000 that offered to enlist. But in time of war, when the country is endangered, and men have a higher motive for entering its service than mere employment and wages, those of a better class both as to character and health flock to the army; and in the present war, the army is composed, in great degree, of men of the highest personal character and social position, who leave the most desirable and lucrative employments to serve their country as soldiers.
As, then, the army excludes, or intends to exclude, from its ranks all the defective, weak, and sick, it begins with a much higher average of health and vigor, a greater power of action, of endurance, and of resisting the causes of disease, than the mass of men of the same ages in civil life. It is composed of men in the fulness of strength and efficiency. This is the vital machinery with which Governments propose to do their martial work; and the amount of vital force which belongs to these living machines, severally and collectively, is the capital with which they intend to accomplish their purposes. Every wise Government begins the business of war with a good capital of life, a large quantity of vital force in its army. So far they do well; but more is necessary. This complete and fitting preparation alone is not sufficient to carry on the martial process through weeks and months of labor and privation. Not only must the living machinery of bone and flesh be well selected, but its force must be sustained, it must be kept in the most effective condition and in the best and most available working order. For this there are two established conditions, that admit of no variation nor neglect: first, a sufficient supply of suitable nutriment, and faithful regard to all the laws of health; and, second, the due appropriation of the vital force that is thus from day to day created.
A due supply of appropriate food and of pure air, sufficient protection and cleansing of the surface, moderate labor and refreshing rest, are the necessary conditions of health, and cannot be disregarded, in the least degree, without a loss of force. The privation of even a single meal, or the use of food that is hard of digestion or innutritious, and the loss of any of the needful sleep, are followed by a corresponding loss of effective power, as surely as the slackened fire in the furnace is followed by lessened steam and power in the engine.
Whosoever, then, wishes to sustain his own forces or those of his laborers with the least cost, and use them with the greatest effect, must take Nature on her own terms. It is vain to try to evade or alter her conditions. The Kingdom of Heaven is not divided against itself. It makes no compromises, not even for the necessities of nations. It will not consent that any one, even the least, of its laws shall be set aside, to advance any other, however important. Each single law stands by itself, and exacts complete obedience to its own requirements: it gives its own rewards and inflicts its own punishments. The stomach will not digest tough and hard or old salted meats, or heavy bread, without demanding and receiving a great and perhaps an almost exhausting proportion of the nervous energies. The nutritive organs will not create vigorous muscles and effective limbs, unless the blood is constantly and appropriately recruited. The lungs will not decarbonize and purify the blood with foul air, that has been breathed over and over and lost its oxygen. However noble or holy the purpose for which human power is to be used, it will not be created, except according to the established conditions. The strength of the warrior in battle cannot be sustained, except in the appointed way, even though the fate of all humanity depend on his exertions.
Nature keeps an exact account with all her children, and gives power in proportion to their fulfilment of her conditions. She measures out and sustains vital force according to the kind and fitness of the raw material provided for her. When we deal liberally with her, she deals liberally with us. For everything we give to her she makes a just return. The stomach, the nutrient arteries, the lungs, have no love, no patriotism, no pity; but they are perfectly honest. The healthy digestive organs will extract and pay over to the blood-vessels just so much of the nutritive elements as the food we eat contains in an extractible form, and no more; and for this purpose they will demand and take just so much of the nervous energy as may be needed. The nutrient arteries will convert into living flesh just so much of the nutritive elements as the digestive organs give them, and no more. The lungs will send out from the body as many of the atoms of exhausted and dead flesh as the oxygen we give them will convert into carbonic acid and water, and this is all they can do. In these matters, the vital organs are as honest and as faithful as the boiler, that gives forth steam in the exact ratio of the heat which the burning fuel evolves and the fitness of the water that is supplied to it; and neither can be persuaded to do otherwise. The living machine of bone and flesh and the dead machine of iron prepare their forces according to the means they have, not according to the ulterior purpose to which those forces are to be applied. They do this alike for all. They do it as well for the sinner as for the saint,--as well for the traitorous Secessionist striving to destroy his country as for the patriot endeavoring to sustain it.
In neither case is it a matter of will, but of necessity. The amount of power to be generated in both living and dead machines is simply a question of quality and quantity of provision for the purpose. So much food, air, protection given produce so much strength. A proposition to reduce the amount of either of these necessarily involves the proposition to reduce the available force. Whoever determines to eat or give his men less or poorer food, or impure air, practically determines to do less work. In all this management of the human body, we are sure to get what we pay for, and we are equally sure not to get what we do not pay for.
All Governments have tried, and are now, in various degrees, trying, the experiment of privation in their armies. The soldier cannot carry with him the usual means and comforts of home. He must give these up the moment he enters the martial ranks, and reduce his apparatus of living to the smallest possible quantity. He must generally limit himself to a portable house, kitchen, cooking-apparatus, and wardrobe, and to an entire privation of furniture, and sometimes submit to a complete destitution of everything except the provision he may carry in his haversack and the blanket he can carry on his back. When stationary, he commonly sleeps in barracks; but he spends most of his time in the field and sleeps in tents. Occasionally he is compelled to sleep in the open air, without any covering but his blanket, and to cook in an extemporized kitchen, which he may make of a few stones piled together or of a hole in the earth, with only a kettle, that he carries on his back, for cooking-apparatus. In all cases and conditions, whether in fort or in field, in barrack, tent, or open air, he is limited to the smallest artificial habitation, the least amount of furniture and conveniences, the cheapest and most compact food, and the rudest cookery. He is, therefore, never so well protected against the elements, nor, when sleeping under cover, so well supplied with air for respiration, as he is at home. Moreover, when lodging abroad, he cannot take his choice of places; he is liable, from the necessities of war, to encamp in wet and malarious spots, and to be exposed to chills and miasms of unhealthy districts. He is necessarily exposed to weather of every kind,--to cold, to rains, to storms; and when wet, he has not the means of warming himself, nor of drying or changing his clothing. His life, though under martial discipline, is irregular. At times, he has to undergo severe and protracted labors, forced marches, and the violent and long-continued struggles of combat; at other times, he has not exercise sufficient for health. His food is irregularly served. He is sometimes short of provisions, and compelled to pass whole days in abstinence or on shore allowance. Occasionally he cannot obtain even water to drink, through hours of thirsty toil. No Government nor managers of war have ever yet been able to make exact and unfailing provision for the wants and necessities of their armies, as men usually do for themselves and their families at home.
From the earliest recorded periods of the world, men have gone forth to war, for the purpose of destroying or overcoming their enemies, and with the chance of being themselves destroyed or overthrown. Public authorities have generally taken account of the number of their own men who have been wounded and killed in battle, and of the casualties in the opposing armies. Gunpowder and steel, and the manifold weapons, instruments, and means of destruction in the hands of the enemy are commonly considered as the principal, if not the only sources of danger to the soldier, and ground of anxiety to his friends; and the nation reckons its losses in war by the number of those who were wounded and killed in battle. But the suffering and waste of life, apart from the combat, the sickness, the depreciation of vital force, the withering of constitutional energy, and the mortality in camp and fortress, in barrack, tent, and hospital, have not usually been the subjects of such careful observation, nor the grounds of fear to the soldier and of anxiety to those who are interested in his safety. Consequently, until within the present century, comparatively little attention has been given to the dangers that hang over the army out of the battle-field, and but little provision has been made, by the combatants or their rulers, to obviate or relieve them. No Government in former times, and few in later years, have taken and published complete accounts of the diseases of their armies, and of the deaths that followed in consequence. Some such records have been made and printed, but these are mostly fragmentary and partial, and on the authority of individuals, officers, surgeons, scholars, and philanthropists.
It must not be forgotten that the army is originally composed of picked men, while the general community includes not only the imperfect, diseased, and weak that belong to itself, but also those who are rejected from the army. If, then, the conditions, circumstances, and habits of both were equally favorable, there would be less sickness and a lower rate of mortality among the soldiers than among men of the same ages at home. But if in the army there should be found more sickness and death than in the community at home, or even an equal amount, it is manifestly chargeable to the presence of more deteriorating and destructive influences in the military than in civil life.
The amount of sickness among the people at home is not generally recognized, still less is it carefully measured and recorded. But the experience and calculations of the Friendly Societies of Great Britain, and of other associations for Health-Assurance there and elsewhere, afford sufficient data for determining the proportion of time lost in sickness by men of various ages. These Friendly Societies are composed mainly of men of the working-classes, from which most of the soldiers of the British army are drawn.
According to the calculations and tables of Mr. Ansel, in his work on "Friendly Societies," the men of the army-ages, from 20 to 40, in the working-classes, lose, on an average, five days and six-tenths of a day by sickness in each year, which will make one and a half per cent, of the males of this age and class constantly sick. Mr. Neison's calculations and tables, in his "Contributions to Vital Statistics," make this average somewhat over seven days' yearly sickness, and one and ninety-two hundredths of one per cent, constantly sick. These were the bases of the rates adopted by the Health-Assurance companies in New England, and their experience shows that the amount of sickness in these Northern States is about the same as, if not somewhat greater than, that in Great Britain, among any definite number of men.
The rate of mortality is more easily ascertained, and is generally calculated and determined in civilized nations. This rate, among all classes of males, between 20 and 40 years old, in England and Wales, is .92 per cent.: that is, 92 will die out of 10,000 men of these ages, on an average, in each year; but in the healthiest districts the rate is only 77 in 10,000. The mortality among the males of Massachusetts, of the same ages, according to Mr. Elliott's calculations, is 1.11 per cent, or 111 in 10,000. This maybe safely assumed as the rate of mortality in all New England. That of the Southern States is somewhat greater.
These rates of sickness and death--one and a half or one and ninety-two hundredths per cent, constantly sick, and seventy-seven to one hundred and eleven dying, in each year, among ten thousand living--may be considered as the proportion of males, of the army-ages, that should be constantly taken away from active labor and business by illness, and that should be annually lost by death. Whether at home, amidst the usually favorable circumstances and the average comforts, or in the army, under privation and exposure, men of these ages may be presumed to be necessarily subject to this amount, at least, of loss of vital force and life. And these rates may be adopted as the standard of comparison of the sanitary influences of civil and military life.
Soldiers are subject to different influences and exposures, and their waste and loss of life differ, in peace and war. In peace they are mostly stationary, at posts, forts, and in cantonments. They generally live in barracks, with fixed habits and sufficient means of subsistence. They have their regular supplies of food and clothing and labor, and are protected from the elements, heat, cold, and storms. They are seldom or never subjected to privation or excessive fatigue. But in war they are in the field, and sleep in tents which are generally too full and often densely crowded. Sometimes they sleep in huts, and occasionally in the open air. They are liable to exposures, hardships, and privations, to uncertain supplies of food and bad cookery.
The report of the commission appointed by the British Government to inquire into the sanitary condition, of the army shows a remarkable and unexpected degree of mortality among the troops stationed at home under the most favorable circumstances, as well as among those abroad. The Foot-Guards are the very elite of the whole army; they are the most perfect of the faultless in form and in health. They are the pets of the Government and the people. They are stationed at London and Windsor, and lodged in magnificent barracks, apparently ample for their accommodation. They are clothed and fed with extraordinary care, and are supposed to have every means of health. And yet their record shows a sad difference between their rate of mortality and that of men of the same ages in civil life. A similar excess of mortality was found to exist among all the home-army, which includes many thousand soldiers, stationed in various towns and places throughout the kingdom.
The following table exhibits the annual mortality in these classes.
|20 to 25||84||216||170|
|25 to 30||92||211||183|
|30 to 35||102||195||184|
|35 to 40||116||224||193|
Through the fifteen years from 1839 to 1853 inclusive, the annual mortality of all the army, excepting the artillery, engineers, and West India and colonial corps, was 330 among 10,000 living; while that among the same number of males of the army-ages, in all England and Wales, was 92, and in the healthiest districts only 77.
There is no official account at hand of the general mortality in the Russian army on the peace-establishment; yet, according to Boudin, in one portion, consisting of 192,834 men, 144,352 had been sick, and 7,541, or 38 per 1,000, died in one year.
The Prussian army, with an average of 150,582 men, lost by death, during the ten years 1829 to 1838, 1,975 in each year, which is at the rate of 13 per 1,000 living.
The mortality of the Piedmontese army, from 1834 to 1843 inclusive, was 158 in 10,000, while that of the males at home was 92 in the same number living.
From 1775 to 1791, seventeen years, the mortality among the cavalry was 181, and among the infantry 349, out of 10,000 living; but in the ten years from 1834 to 1843 these rates were only 108 and 215.
Colored troops are employed by the British Government in all their colonies and possessions in tropical climates. The mortality of these soldiers is known, and also that of the colored male civilians in the East Indies and in the West-India Islands and South-American Provinces. In four of these, the rate of mortality is higher among the male slaves than among the colored soldiers; but in all the others, this rate is higher in the army. In all the West-Indian and South-American possessions of Great Britain, the average rate of deaths is 25 per cent, greater among the black troops than among the black males of all ages on the plantations and in the towns. The soldiers are of the healthier ages, 20 to 40, but the civilians include both the young and the old: if these could be excluded, and the comparison made between soldiers and laborers of the same ages, the difference in favor of civil pursuits would appear much greater.
Throughout the world, where the armies of Great Britain are stationed or serve, the death-rate is greater among the troops than among civilians of the same races and ages, except among the colored troops in Tobago, Montserrat, Antigua, and Granada in America, and among the Sepoys in the East Indies.
In the army of the United States, during the period from 1840 to 1854, not including the two years of the Mexican War, there was an average of 9,278 men, or an aggregate of 120,622 years of service, equal to so many men serving one year. Among these and during this period, there were 342,107 cases of sickness reported by the surgeons, and 3,416 deaths from disease, showing a rate of mortality of 2.83 per cent., or two and a half times as great as that among the males of Massachusetts of the army-ages, and three times as great as that in England and Wales. The attacks of sickness average almost three for each man in each year. This is manifestly more than that which falls upon men of these ages at home.
Thus far the sickness and mortality of the army in time of peace only has been considered. The experience of war tells a more painful story of the dangers of the men engaged in it. Sir John Pringle states, that, in the British armies that were sent to the Low Countries and Germany, in the years 1743 to 1747, a great amount of sickness and mortality prevailed. He says, that, besides those who were suffering from wounds, "at some periods more than one-fifth of the army were in the hospitals." "One regiment had over one-half of its men sick." "In July and August, 1743, one-half of the army had the dysentery." "In 1747, four battalions," of 715 men each, "at South Beveland and Walcheren, both in field and in quarters, were so very sickly, that, at the height of the epidemic, some of these corps had but one hundred men fit for duty; six-sevenths of their numbers were sick." "At the end of the campaign the Royal Battalion had but four men who had not been ill." And "when these corps went into winter-quarters, their sick, in proportion to their men fit for duty, were nearly as four to one." In 1748, dysentery prevailed. "In one regiment of 500 men, 150 were sick at the end of five weeks; 200 were sick after two months; and at the end of the campaign, they had in all but thirty who had never been ill." "In Johnson's regiment sometimes one-half were sick; and in the Scotch Fusileers 300 were ill at one time."
The British army in Egypt, in 1801, had from 103 to 261 and an average of 182 sick in each thousand; and the French army had an average of 125 in 1,000, or one-eighth of the whole, on the sick-list.
In July, 1809, the British Government sent another army, of 39,219 men, to the Netherlands. They were stationed at Walcheren, which was the principal seat of the sickness and suffering of their predecessors, sixty or seventy years before. Fever and dysentery attacked this second army as they had the first, and with a similar virulence and destructiveness. In two months after landing,
Sept. 13, 7,626 were on the sick-list. " 19, 8,123 " " " 21, 8,684 " " " 23, 9,046 " "
In ninety-seven days 12,867 were sent home sick; and on the 22d of October there were only 4,000 effective men left fit for duty out of this army of about 40,000 healthy men, who had left England within less than four months. On the 1st of February of the next year, there were 11,513 on the sick-list, and 15,570 had been lost or disabled. Between January 1st and June of the same year, (1810,) 36,500 were admitted to the hospitals, and 8,000, or more than 20 per cent., died, which is equal to an annual rate of 48 per cent, mortality.
The British army in Spain and Portugal suffered greatly through the Peninsular War, from 1808 to 1814. During the whole of that period, there was a constant average of 209 per 1,000 on the sick-list, and the proportion was sometimes swelled to 330 per 1,000. Through the forty-one months ending May 25th, 1814, with an average of 61,511 men, there was an average of 13,815 in the hospitals, which is 22.5 per cent.; of these only one-fifteenth, or 1.5 per cent. of the whole army, were laid up on account of injuries in battle, and 21 per cent. were disabled by diseases. From these causes 24,930 died, which is an annual average of 7,296, or a rate of 11.8 per cent, mortality.
No better authority can be adduced, for the condition of men engaged in the actual service of war, than Lord Wellington. On the 14th of November, 1809, he wrote from his army in Spain to Lord Liverpool, then at the head of the British Government,--"In all times and places the sick-list of the army amounts to ten per cent of all." He seemed to consider this the lowest attainable rate of sickness, and he hoped to be able to reduce that of his own army to it: this is more than five times as great as the rate of sickness among male civilians of the army-ages. The sickness in Lord Wellington's army, at the moment of writing this despatch, was fifteen per cent., or seven and a half times as great as that at home.
In the same Peninsular War, there was of the sick in the French army a constant average of 136 per 1,000 in Spain, and 146 per 1,000 in Portugal. Mr. Edmonds says, that, just before the Battle of Talavera, the French army consisted of 275,000 men, of whom 61,000, or 22.2 per cent., were sick. Lord Wellington wrote, Sept. 19, 1809, that the French army of 225,000 men had 30,000 to 40,000 sick, which is 13.3 to 17.7 per cent. The French army in Portugal had at one time 64 per 1,000, and at another 235 per 1,000, and an average of 146 per 1,000, in the hospitals through the war.
The British army that fought the Battle of Waterloo, in 1815, had an average of 60,992 men, through the campaign of four months, June to September; of these, there was an average of 7,909, or 12.9 per cent., in the hospitals.
The British legion that went to Spain in 1836 consisted of 7,000 men. Of these, 5,000, or 71 per cent., were admitted into the hospitals in three and a half months, and 1,223 died in six months. This is equal to an annual rate of almost two and a half, 2.44, attacks for each man, and of 34.9 per cent. mortality.
"Of 115,000 Russians who invaded Turkey in 1828 and 1829, only 10,000 or 15,000 ever repassed the Pruth. The rest died there of intermittent fevers, dysenteries, and plague." "From May, 1828, to February, 1829, 210,108 patients were admitted into the general and regimental hospitals." "In October, 1828, 20,000 entered the general hospitals." "The sickness was very fatal." "More than a quarter of the fever-patients died." "5,509 entered the hospitals, and of these, 3,959 died in August, 1829, and only 614 ultimately recovered." "At Brailow the plague attacked 1,200 and destroyed 774." "Dysentery was equally fatal." "In the march across the Balkan, 1,000 men died of diarrhoea, fever, and scurvy." "In Bulgaria, during July, 37,000 men were taken sick." "At Adrianople a vast barrack was taken for a hospital, and in three days 1,616 patients were admitted. On the first of September there were 3,666, and on the 15th, 4,646 patients in the house. This was one-quarter of all the disposable force at that station." "In October, 1,300 died of dysentery; and at the end of the month there were 4,700 in the hospitals." "In the whole army the loss to the Russians in the year 1829 was at least 60,000 men."
In 1854, twenty-five years after this fatal experience of the Russian army in Bulgaria, the British Government sent an army to the same province, where the men were exposed to the same diseases and suffered a similar depreciation of vital force in sickness and death. For two years and more they struggled with these destructive influences in their own camps, in Bulgaria and the Crimea, with the usual result of such exposures in waste of life. From April 10, 1854, to June 30, 1856, 82,901 British soldiers were sent to the Black Sea and its coasts; and through these twenty-six and two-thirds months the British army had an average of 34,559 men engaged in that "War in the East" with Russia. From these there were furnished to the general and regimental, the stationary and movable hospitals 218,952 cases: 24,084, or 11 per cent, of these patients were wounded or injured in battle, and 194,868, or 89 per cent, suffered from the diseases of the camp. This is equal to an annual average of two and a half attacks of sickness for each man. The published reports give an analysis of only 162,123 of these cases of disease. Of these, 110,673, or 68 per cent., were of the zymotic class,--fevers, dysenteries, scurvy, etc., which are generally supposed to be due to exposure and privation, and other causes which are subject to human control. During the two years ending with March, 1856, 16,224 died of diseases, of which 14,476 were of the zymotic or preventable class, 2,755 were killed in battle, and 2,019 died of wounds and injuries received in battle. The annual rate of mortality, from all diseases, was 23 per cent; from zymotic diseases, 21 per cent.; from battle, 6.9 per cent. The rate of sickness and mortality varied exceedingly in different months. In April, May, and June, 1854, the deaths were at the annual rate of 8.7 per 1,000; in July, 159 per 1,000; in August and September, 310 per 1,000; in December, this rate again rose and reached 679 per 1,000; and in January, 1855, owing to the great exposures, hardships, and privations in the siege, and the very imperfect means of sustenance and protection, the mortality increased to the enormous rate of 1,142 per 1,000, so that, if it had continued unabated, it would have destroyed the whole army in ten and a half months.
We need not go abroad to find proofs of the waste of life in military camps. Our own army, in the war with Great Britain in 1812-14, suffered, as the European armies have done, by sickness and death, far beyond men in civil occupations. There are no comprehensive reports, published by the Government, of the sanitary condition and history of the army on the Northern frontier during that war. But the partial and fragmentary statements of Dr. Mann, in his "Medical Sketches," and the occasional and apparently incidental allusions to the diseases and deaths by the commanding officers, in their letters and despatches to the Secretary of War, show that sickness was sometimes fearfully prevalent and fatal among our soldiers. Dr. Mann says: "One regiment on the frontier, at one time, counted 900 strong, but was reduced, by a total want of a good police, to less than 200 fit for duty." "At one period more than 340 were in the hospitals, and, in addition to this, a large number were reported sick in camp." "The aggregate of the army at Fort George and its dependencies was about 5,000. From an estimate of the number sick in the general and regimental hospitals, it was my persuasion that but little more than half of the army was capable of duty, at one period, during the summer months" of 1813. "During the month of August more than one-third of the soldiers were on the sick-reports." Dr. Mann quotes Dr. Lovell, another army-surgeon, who says, in the autumn of 1813: "A morning report, now before me, gives 75 sick, out of a corps of 160. The several regiments of the army, in their reports, exhibit a proportional number unfit for duty." Dr. Mann states that "the troops at Burlington, Vt., in the winter of 1812-13, did not number over 1,600, and the deaths did not exceed 200, from the last of November to the last of February." But Dr. Gallup says: "The whole number of deaths is said to be not less than 700 to 800 in four months," and "the number of soldiers stationed at this encampment [Burlington] was about 2,500 to 2,800." According to Dr. Mann's statement, the mortality was at the annual rate of 50 per cent.; and according to that of Dr. Gallup, it was at the rate of 75 to 96 per cent. This is nearly equal to the severest mortality in the Crimea.
General William H. Harrison, writing to the Secretary of War from the borders of Lake Erie, Aug. 29, 1813, says: "You can form some estimate of the deadly effects of the immense body of stagnant water with which the vicinity of the lake abounds, from the state of the troops at Sandusky. Upwards of 90 are this morning reported sick, out of about 220." This is a rate of over 40 per cent. "Those at Fort Meigs are not much better."
General Wilkinson wrote from Fort George, Sept. 16, 1813: "We count, on paper, 4,600, and could show 3,400 combatants"; that is, 25 per cent, and more are sick. "The enemy, from the best information we have, have about 3,000 on paper, of whom 1,400," or 46.6 per cent., "are sick."
There was a similar waste of life among our troops in the Mexican War. There is no published record of the number of the sick, nor of their diseases. But the letters of General Scott and General Taylor to the Secretary of War show that the loss of effective force in our army was at times very great by sickness in that war.
General Scott wrote:--
"Puebla, July 25, 1847.
"May 30, the number of sick here was 1,017, of effectives 5,820."
"Since the arrival of General Pillow, we have effectives (rank and file) 8,061, sick 2,215, beside 87 officers under the latter head."
"Mexico, Dec. 5,1847.
"The force at Chapultepec fit for duty is only about 6,000, rank and file; the number of sick, exclusive of officers, being 2,041."
According to these statements, the proportions of the sick were 17.4 to 27.4 and 24.7 per cent of all in these corps at the times specified.
General Taylor wrote:--
"Camp near Monterey, July 27,1847.
"Great sickness and mortality have prevailed among the volunteer troops in front of Saltillo."
August 10th, he said, that "nearly 23 per cent, of the force present was disabled by disease."
The official reports show only the number that died, but make no distinction as to causes of death, except to separate the deaths from wounds received in battle from those from other causes.
During that war, 100,454 men were sent to Mexico from the United States. They were enlisted for various periods, but served, on an average, thirteen months and one day each, making a total of 109,104 years of military service rendered by our soldiers in that war. The total loss of these men was 1,549 killed in battle or died of wounds, 10,986 died from diseases, making 12,535 deaths. Besides these, 12,252 were discharged for disability. The mortality from disease was almost equal to the annual rate of 11 per cent., which is about ten times as great as that of men in ordinary civil life at home.
There are not as yet, and for a long time there cannot be, any full Government reports of the amount and kind of sickness in the present army of the United States. But the excellent reports of the inquiries of the Sanitary Commission give much important and trustworthy information in respect to these matters. Most of the encampments of all the corps have been examined by their inspectors; and their returns show, that the average number sick, during the seven months ending with February last, was, among the troops who were recruited in New England 74.6, among those from the Middle States 56.6, and, during six months ending with January, among those from the Western States 104.3, in 1,000 men. From an examination of 217 regiments, during two months ending the middle of February, the rate of sickness among the troops in the Eastern Sanitary Department was 74, in the Central Department, Western Virginia and Ohio, 90, and in the Western, 107, in 1,000 men. The average of all these regiments was 90 in 1,000. The highest rate in Eastern Virginia was 281 per 1,000, in the Fifth Vermont; and the lowest, 9, in the Seventh Massachusetts. In the Central Department the highest was 260, in the Forty-First Ohio; and the lowest, 17, in the Sixth Ohio. In the Western Department the highest was 340, in the Forty-Second Illinois; and the lowest, 15, in the Thirty-Sixth Illinois.
On the 22d of February, the number of men sick in each 1,000, in the several divisions of the Army of the Potomac, was ascertained to be,--
|United States Regulars,||76.0|
Probably there has been more sickness in all the armies, as they have gone farther southward and the warm season has advanced. This would naturally be expected, and the fear is strengthened by the occasional reports in the newspapers. Still, taking the trustworthy reports herein given, it is manifest that our Union army is one of the healthiest on record; and yet their rate of sickness is from three to five times as great as that of civilians of their own ages at home. Unquestionably, this better condition of our men is due to the better intelligence of the age and of our people,--especially in respect to the dangers of the field and the necessity of proper provision on the part of the Government and of self-care on the part of the men,--to the wisdom, labors, and comprehensive watchfulness of the Sanitary Commission, and to the universal sympathy of the men and women of the land, who have given their souls, their hands, and their money to the work of lessening the discomforts and alleviating the sufferings of the Army of Freedom.
The records and reports of the sickness in the army do not include all the depreciations and curtailments of life and strength among the soldiers, nor all the losses of effective force which the Government suffers through them, on account of disease and debility. These records contain, at best, only such ailments as are of sufficient importance to come under the observation of the surgeon. But there are manifold lighter physical disturbances, which, though they neither prostrate the patient, nor even cause him to go to the hospital, yet none the less certainly unfit him for labor and duty. Of the regiment referred to by Dr. Mann, and already adduced in this article, in which 700 were unable to attend to duty, 340 were in the hospital under the surgeon's care, and 360 were ill in camp. It is probable that a similar, though smaller, discrepancy often exists between the surgeon's records and the absentees from parades, guard-duty, etc.
It is improbable, and even impossible, that complete records and reports should always be made of all who are sick and unfit for duty, or even of all who come under the surgeon's care. Sir John Hall, principal Medical Officer of the British army in the Crimea, says that there were "218,952 admissions into hospital." "The general return, showing the primary admissions into the hospitals of the army in the East, from the 10th April, 1854, to the 30th June, 1856, gives only 162,123 cases of all kinds." But another Government Report states the admissions to be 162,073. Miss Nightingale says, "There was, at first, no system of registration for general hospitals, for all were burdened with work beyond their strength." Dr. Mann says, that, in the War of 1812, "no sick-records were found in the hospital at Burlington," one of the largest depositories of the sick then in the country. "The hospital-records on the Niagara were under no order." It could hardly have been otherwise. The regimental hospitals then, as frequently must be the case in war, were merely extemporized shelters, not conveniences. They were churches, houses, barns, shops, sheds, or any building that happened to be within reach, or huts, cabins, or tents suddenly created for the purpose. In these all the surgeons' time, energy, and resources were expended in making their patients comfortable, in defending them from cold and storm, or from suffering in their crowded rooms or shanties. They were obliged to devote all their strength to taking care of the present. They could take little account of the past, and were often unable to make any record for the future. They could not do this for those under their own immediate eye in the hospital; much less could they do it for those who remained in their tents, and needed little or no medical attention, but only rest. Moreover, the exposures and labors of the campaign sometimes diminish the number and force of the surgeons as well as of the men, and reduce their strength at the very moment when the greatest demand is made for their exertions. Dr. Mann says, "The sick in the hospital were between six and seven hundred, and there were only three surgeons present for duty." "Of seven surgeons attached to the hospital department, one died, three were absent by reason of indisposition, and the other three were sick." Fifty-four surgeons died in the Russian army in Turkey in the summer of 1828. "At Brailow, the pestilence spared neither surgeons nor nurses." Sir John Hall says, "The medical officers got sick, a great number went away, and we were embarrassed." "Thirty per cent. were sometimes sick and absent" from their posts in the Crimea. Seventy surgeons died in the French army in the same war. It is not reasonable, then, to suppose that all or nearly all the cases of sickness, whether in hospital or in camp, can be recorded, especially at times when they are the most abundant.
Nor do the cases of sickness of every sort, grave and light, recorded and unrecorded, include all the depressions of vital energy and all the suspensions and loss of effective force in the army. Whenever any general cause of depression weighs upon a body of men, as fatigue, cold, storm, privation of food, or malaria, it vitiates the power of all, in various degrees and with various results; the weak and susceptible are sickened, and all lose some force and are less able to labor and attend to duty. No account is taken, none can be taken, of this discount of the general force of the army; yet it is none the less a loss of strength, and an impediment to the execution of the purposes of the Government.
The loss of force by death, by sickness in hospital and camp, and by temporary depression, is not all that the army is subject to. Those who are laboring under consumption, asthma, epilepsy, insanity, and other incurable disorders, and those whose constitutions are broken, or withered and reduced below the standard of military requirement, are generally, and by some Governments always, discharged. These pass back to the general community, where they finally die. By this process the army is continually sifting out its worst lives, and at the same time it fills their places with healthy recruits. It thus keeps up its average of health and diminishes its rate of mortality; but the sum and the rates of sickness and mortality in the community are both thereby increased.
During the Crimean War, 17.34 per cent, were invalided and sent home from the British army, and 21 per cent, from the French army, as unable to do military service. By this means, 11,994 British and 65,069 French soldiers were lost to their Governments. The army of the United States, in the Mexican War, discharged and sent home 12,252 men, or 12 per cent, of the entire number engaged in that war, on account of disability.
The causes of this exhaustion of personal force are manifold and various, and so generally present that the number and proportion of those who are thus hopelessly reduced below the degree of efficient military usefulness, in the British army, has been determined by observation, and the Government calculates the rate of the loss which will happen in this way, at any period of service. Out of 10,000 men enlisted in their twenty-first year, 718 will be invalided during the first quinquennial period, or before they pass their twenty-fifth year, 539 in the second, 673 in the third, and 854 in the fourth,--making 2,784, or more than one-quarter of the whole, discharged for disability or chronic ailment, before they complete their twenty years of military service and their forty years of life.
It is further to be considered, that, during these twenty years, the numbers are diminishing by death, and thus the ratio of enfeebled and invalided is increased. Out of 10,000 soldiers who survive and remain in the army in each successive quinquennial period, 768 will be invalided in the first, 680 in the second, 1,023 in the third, and 1,674 in the fourth. In the first year the ratio is 181, in the fifth 129, in the tenth 165, in the fifteenth 276, and in the twentieth 411, among 10,000 surviving and remaining.
The depressing and exhaustive force of military life on the soldiers is gradually accumulative, or the power of resistance gradually wastes, from the beginning to the end of service. There is an apparent exception to this law in the fact, that, in the British army, the ratio of those who were invalided was 181 in 10,000, but diminished, in the second, third, and fourth years, to 129 in the fifth and sixth, then again rose, through all the succeeding years, to 411 in the twentieth. The experience of the British army, in this respect, is corroborated by that of ours in the Mexican War. From the old standing army 502, from the additional force recently enlisted 548, and from the volunteers 1,178, in 10,000 of each, were discharged on account of disability. Some part of this great difference between the regulars and volunteers is doubtless due to the well-known fact, that the latter were originally enlisted, in part at least, for domestic trainings, and not for the actual service of war, and therefore were examined with less scrutiny, and included more of the weaker constitutions.
The Sanitary Commission, after inspecting two hundred and seventeen regiments of the present army of the United States, and comparing the several corps with each other in respect of health, came to a similar conclusion. They found that the twenty-four regiments which had the least sickness had been in service one hundred and forty days on an average, and the twenty-four regiments which had the most sickness had been in the field only one hundred and eleven days. The Actuary adds, in explanation,--"The difference between the sickness of the older and newer regiments is probably attributable, in part, to the constant weeding out of the sickly by discharges from the service. The fact is notorious, that medical inspection of recruits, on enlistment, has been, as a rule, most imperfectly executed; and the city of Washington is constantly thronged with invalids awaiting their discharge-papers, who at the time of their enlistment were physically unfit for service." In addition to this, it must be remembered, that, although all recruits are apparently perfect in form and free from disease when they enter the army, yet there may be differences in constitutional force, which cannot be detected by the most careful examiners. Some have more and some have less power of endurance. But the military burden and the work of war are arranged and determined for the strongest, and, of course, break down the weak, who retire in disability or sink in death.
Two causes of depression operate, to a considerable degree in peace and to a very great degree in war, on the soldier, and reduce and sicken him more than the civilian. His vital force is not so well sustained by never-failing supplies of nutritious and digestible food and regular nightly sleep, and his powers are more exhausted in hardships and exposures, in excessive labors and want of due rest and protection against cold and heat, storms and rains. Consequently the army suffers mostly from diseases of depression,--those of the typhoid, adynamic, and scorbutic types. McGrigor says, that, in the British army in the Peninsula, of 176,007 cases treated and recorded by the surgeons, 68,894 were fevers, 23,203 diseases of the bowels, 12,167 ulcers, and 4,027 diseases of the lungs. In the British hospitals in the Crimean War, 39 per cent. were cholera, dysentery, and diarrhoea, 19 per cent. fevers, 1.2 per cent. scurvy, 8 per cent. diseases of the lungs, 8 per cent. diseases of the skin, 3.3 per cent. rheumatism, 2.5 per cent. diseases of the brain and nervous system, 1.4 per cent. frost-bite or mortification produced by low vitality and chills, 13, or one in 12,000, had sunstroke, 257 had the itch, and 68 per cent. of all were of the zymotic class, which are considered as principally due to privation, exposure, and personal neglect. The deaths from these classes of causes were in a somewhat similar proportion to the mortality from all stated causes,--being 58 per cent. from cholera, dysentery, and diarrhoea, and
In paper No. 40, p. 54, of the Sanitary Commission, is a report of the diseases that occurred in forty-nine regiments, while under inspection about forty days each, between July and October, 1861. 27,526 cases were reported; of these 67 per cent. were zymotic, 41 per cent. diseases of the digestive organs, 22 per cent. fevers 7 per cent. diseases of the lungs, 5 per cent. diseases of the brain. Among males of the army-ages the proportions of deaths from these classes of causes to those from all causes were, in Massachusetts, in 1859, zymotic 15 per cent., diseases of digestive organs 3.6 per cent., of lungs 50 per cent., fevers 9 per cent., diseases of brain 4.6 per cent. According to the mortality-statistics of the seventh census of the United States, of the males between the ages of twenty and fifty, in Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, whose deaths in the year ending June 1st, 1850, and their causes, were ascertained and reported by the marshals, 34.3 per cent. died of zymotic diseases, 8 per cent. of all the diseases of the digestive organs, 30.8 per cent. of diseases of the respiratory organs, 24.4 per cent. of fevers, and 5.7 per cent. of disorders of the brain and nervous system. In England and Wales, in 1858, these proportions were, zymotic 14 per cent., fevers 8 per cent., diseases of digestive organs 7.9 per cent., of lungs 8 per cent., and of the brain 7 per cent.
If, however, we analyze the returns of mortality in civil life, and distinguish those of the poor and neglected dwellers in the crowded and filthy lanes and alleys of cities, whose animal forces are not well developed, or are reduced by insufficient and uncertain nutrition, by poor food or bad cookery, by foul air within and stenchy atmosphere without, by imperfect protection of house and clothing, we shall find the same diseases there as in the army. Wherever the vital forces are depressed, there these diseases of low vitality happen most frequently and are most fatal.
Volumes of other facts and statements might be quoted to show that military service is exhaustive of vital force more than the pursuits of civil life. It is so even in time of peace, and it is remarkably so in time of war. Comparing the English statements of the mortality in the army with the calculations of the expectation of life in the general community, the difference is at once manifest.
Of 10,000 men at the age of twenty, there will die before they complete their fortieth year,--
|British army in time of peace,||3,058|
|England and Wales, English Life-Table,
According to tables of Amicable and
|Equitable Life-Insurance Companies,
New England and New York, according
to the tables of the New-England
|Mutual Life-Insurance Company,||1,721|
This large amount of disease and mortality in the army arises not from the battle-field, but belongs to the camp, the tent, the barrack, the cantonment; and it is as certain, though not so great, in time of peace, when no harm is inflicted by the instruments of destruction, as in time of war. The battle, which is the world's terror, is comparatively harmless. The official histories of the deadly struggles of armies show that they are not so wasteful of life as is generally supposed. Mr. William Barwick Hodge examined the records and despatches in the War-Office in London, and from these and other sources prepared an exceedingly valuable and instructive paper on "The Mortality arising from Military Operations," which was read before the London Statistical Society, and printed in the nineteenth volume of the Society's journal. Some of the tables will be as interesting to Americans as to Englishmen. On the following page is a tabular view, taken from this work, of the casualties in nineteen battles fought by the British armies with those of other nations.
BRITISH Casualties Killed in battle Officers --------------- and men Per 1000 Date. Battles. engaged Number engaged ------------------------ -------------------- ------ ---- ---- 1801, March 21, . . . . . Alexandria . . . . . 14,000 243 17.3 1806, July 4, . . . . . . Maida . . . . . . . 5,675 45 7.9 1808, August 21, . . . . Vimiciro . . . . . . 19,200 135 7. 1809, January 16, . . . . Corunna . . . . . . 16,700 158 9.4 " July 28, . . . . . Talavera . . . . . . 22,100 801 3.6 1810, September . . . . . Busaco . . . . . . . 27,800 106 3.9 1811, March 5, . . . . . Barrosa . . . . . . 5,230 202 38.6 " May 5, . . . . . . Fuentes de Onore . . 22,900 170 7.4 " " 16, . . . . . . Albuera . . . . . . 9,000 882 98. 1812, July 22, . . . . . Salamanca . . . . . 30,500 388 12.7 1813, June 21, . . . . . Vittoria . . . . . . 42,000 501 11.9 " July 25 to August 2 Pyrenees . . . . . . 30,000 559 18.6 " November 10, . . . Nivelle . . . . . . 47,600 277 5.7 1814, February 27, . . . Orthes . . . . . . . 27,000 210 7.7 " April 10, . . . . . Toulouse . . . . . . 26,800 312 11.6 1815, January 8, . . . . New Orleans . . . . 6,000 386 64.3 " June 16-18, . . . . Waterloo . . . . . . 49,900 2,126 42.6 1854, September 20, . . . Alma . . . . . . . . 26,800 353 13.1 " November 5, . . . . Inkerman . . . . . . 9,000 632 70.2 ------- ----- ---- 438,205 8,486 19.3 Estimated deaths among the wounded . . . . . . 4,894 Estimated casualties among the missing . . . . 1,137 ----- Total 14,517 33.1
TABLE 1.--NINETEEN LAND-BATTLES. (cont.)
Deaths in battle Casualties (cont.) from wounds, and Wounded among the missing. Number. Per 1000 Number. Per 1000 Battles. engaged engaged -------------------- ----- ----- ----- ----- Alexandria . . . . . 1,193 85.2 393 28.1 Maida . . . . . . . 282 49.1 87 15.3 Vimiciro . . . . . . 534 27.7 215 11.2 Corunna . . . . . . 634 37.9 257 15.4 Talavera . . . . . . 3,913 17.7 1,455 65.8 Busaco . . . . . . . 500 18. 183 6.6 Barrosa . . . . . . 1,040 198.8 360 68.8 Fuentes de Onore . . 1,043 45.5 379 16.6 Albuera . . . . . . 2,672 296.6 1,358 151. Salamanca . . . . . 2,714 89. 770 25.2 Vittoria . . . . . . 2,807 66.8 890 21.2 Pyrenees . . . . . . 3,693 123.1 1,197 39.9 Nivelle . . . . . . 1,777 37.3 675 14.2 Orthes . . . . . . . 1,411 52.2 404 15. Toulouse . . . . . . 1,795 66.9 582 21.7 New Orleans . . . . 1,516 252.6 625 104.2 Waterloo . . . . . . 8,140 163.1 3,245 65. Alma . . . . . . . . 1,619 60.4 559 20.9 Inkerman . . . . . . 1,878 208.6 883 98.1 ----- ----- ----- ----- 39,161 89.3 14,517 33. Total 91.9
TABLE 1.--NINETEEN LAND-BATTLES. (cont.)
|BRITISH AND ALLIES.|
|Maida . .||.||.||.||.||.|
|Busaco . .||.||.||.||.||.||57,000||1,300||23|
|Orthes . .||.||.||.||.||.||43,600||2,200||50|
|Alma . . .||.||.||.||.||.||55,000||3,545||64|
|among the missing||.||. . .||3,787|
Of those who were engaged in these nineteen battles one in 51.6, or 1.93 per cent., were killed. The deaths in consequence of the battles, including both those who died of wounds and those that died among the missing, were one in 30, or 3.3 per cent. of all who were in the fight. It is worth noticing here, that the British loss in the Battle of New Orleans was larger than in any other battle here adduced, except in that of Albuera, in Spain, with the French, in 1811.
In the British army, from 1793 to 1815, including twenty-one years of war, and excluding 1802, the year of peace, the number of officers varied from 3,576 in the first year to 13,248 in 1813, and the men varied from 74,500 in 1793 to 276,000 in 1813, making an annual average of 9,078 officers and 189,200 men, and equal to 199,727 officers and 4,168,500 men serving one year. During these twenty-one years of war, among the officers 920 were killed and 4,685 were wounded, and among the men 15,392 were killed and 65,393 were wounded. This is an annual average of deaths from battle of 460 officers and 369 men, and of wounded 2,340 officers and 1,580 men, among 100,000 of each class. Of the officers less than half of one per cent., or 1 in 217, were killed, and a little more than two per cent., or 1 in 42, were wounded; and among the men a little more than a third of one per cent., 1 in 271, were killed, and one and a half per cent., 1 in 63, wounded, in each year. The comparative danger to the two is, of death, 46 officers to 37 men, and of wounds, 234 officers to 158 men. A larger proportion of the officers than of the soldiers were killed and wounded; yet a larger proportion of the wounded officers recovered. This is attributed to the fact that the officers were injured by rifle-balls, being picked out by the marksmen, while the soldiers were injured by cannon- and musket-balls and shells, which inflict more deadly injuries.
It may not be out of place here to show the dangers of naval warfare, which are discussed at length by Mr. Hodge, in a very elaborate paper in the eighteenth volume of the Statistical Society's journal. From one of his tables, containing a condensed statistical history of the English navy, through the wars with France, 1792-1815, the following facts are gathered.
During those wars, the British Parliament, in its several annual grants, voted 2,527,390 men for the navy. But the number actually in the service is estimated not to have exceeded 2,424,000 in all, or a constant average force of 110,180 men. Within this time these men fought five hundred and seventy-six naval battles, and they were exposed to storms, to shipwreck, and to fire, in every sea. In all these exposures, the records show that the loss of life was less than was suffered by the soldiers on the land. There were--
|Killed in battle, officers, .||. .||346|
|" " men, .||. .||4,441
|Wounded, officers, . .||. .||935|
|" men, . .||. .||13,335
|Drowned and otherwise destroyed||in|
|battle, . . . .||. .||449|
|Estimated deaths among the wounded,||1,427|
|Total destroyed by battle, .||. .||6,663|
|Lost by shipwreck, accidental drowning|
|and by fire, . . .||. .||13,621|
|Total deaths, from other causes||than|
|disease, . . . .||. .||20,284|
Comparing the whole number of men in the naval service, during this period, with the mortality from causes incidental to the service, the average annual loss was--
|Killed in battle, . . . .
Drowned and lost in battle, and died
|of wounds . . . . .||one||in||1,292, or .077 per cent.|
|Wounded, . . . . .
Drowned and lost by shipwreck, fire,
|etc., otherwise than by battle, .
Total annual loss by battle and the
|special dangers of the sea, . .||one||in||119,||or||.836||per||cent.|
BRITISH. Guns Date. Place. Ships. Broadside. Men. 1782, April 12, West Indies 36 1,315 21,608 1794, June 1, English Channel 26 1,087 17,241 1795, March 14, Genoa 14 557 8,810 1797, February 14, Cape St. Vincent 15 620 9,508 " October 11, Camperdown 16 575 8,221 1798, August 1, Nile 14 507 7,985 1801, July 12, Algeziras 5 188 3,100 1805, July 22, Cape Finisterre 15 596 10,500 " October 21, Trafalgar 27 1,074 16,826 " November 4, Bay of Biscay 9 262 4,186 1806, February 6, San Domingo 7 257 4,094 1811, March 12, Lissa 4 59 886 " May 20, Madagascar 4 73 903 --- ----- ------- 192 7,170 113,863 TABLE II.--BATTLES BETWEEN FLEETS OR SQUADRONS (cont.) BRITISH. ENEMY. Killed. Wounded. Number. Per 1000. Number. Per 1000. West Indies 250 11 810 37 French. English Channel 290 16 858 47 do. Genoa 71 8 266 30 do. Cape St. Vincent 73 7 227 29 Spanish. Camperdown 203 24 622 75 Dutch. Nile 218 27 678 84 French. Algeziras 18 6 102 33 French and Spanish. Cape Finisterre 39 3 159 15 do. Trafalgar 449 26 1241 73 do. Bay of Biscay 24 5 111 26 French. San Domingo 74 1.8 264 64 do. Lissa 44 49 144 162 French and Italian. Madagascar 25 27 89 98 French. ---- ---- ---- ----- 1778 15.6 5571 48.9
BRITISH. Loss. Guns Duration broad- Date. of action. Ship. side. Men. Killed. Wounded. Casualties. Number. Per H. M. 1000. 1812, August. 19, 1 55 Guerriere 24 244 15 63 78 320 " September 17, 43 Frolic 9 92 15 47 62 674 " October 25, 2 40 Macedonian 24 254 31 64 95 374 " December 20, 3 Java 24 379 22 102 124 379 1813, February 14, 25 Peacock 9 110 4 33 37 336 " June 1, 15 Shannon 25 306 24 59 83 271 " August 12, 45 Pelican 9 101 2 5 7 69 1814, August 27, 45 Reindeer 9 98 25 41 66 673 1815, January 15, 5 58 Endymion 24 319 11 14 25 78 --- ----- --- --- --- --- 157 1,903 149 428 577 303
TABLE III.--BATTLES BETWEEN BRITISH AND AMERICAN SHIPS. (cont.)
|Ship. Broadside. Men.||Killed and wounded.|
|1812, August. 19,||Constitution||28||460||20||43|
|" September 17,||Wasp||9||135||16||119|
|" October 25,||United States 28||474||6||13|
|" December 20,||Constitution||28||480||34||71|
|1813, February 14,||Hornet||10||162||5||31|
|" June 1,||Chesapeake||25||376||146||389|
|" August 12,||Argus||10||122||24||397|
|1814, August 27,||Wasp||11||173||26||150|
|1815, January 15,||President||28||465||105||226|
Mr. Hodge's second table shows the conditions and casualties of thirteen battles between fleets and squadrons. This is condensed and quoted on the preceding page.
His third table includes thirty-five actions with single ships on each side, between the years 1793 and 1815. 8,542 men were engaged, and 483, or 56.5 per 1,000, were killed, and 1,230, or 144 per 1,000, wounded.
Twenty-six of these actions were with French ships, which are here omitted, and nine with American ships, which are shown in the second table on the preceding page.
There is a very remarkable difference in the loss which the British suffered in naval and in land battles:--
|Battles||One in||One in|
|28||French single ships.||19.8||10.6|
|9||American do. do. ..||12.7||4.4|
The danger both of wounds and death in these contests was three times as great in the single ships as in fleets, and about five times as great in battles with the Americans as in fleet-battles with other nations. The dangers in fleet-battles were about half as great as those in land-battles, and these were but little more than half as great as those in fights with single ships.
These records of land-battles show that the dangers from that cause are not very great; probably they are less than the world imagines; certainly they are much less than those of the camp. Of the 176,007 admitted into the regimental hospitals during the Peninsular War, only 20,886 were from wounds, the rest from diseases; fourteen-fifteenths of the burden on the hospitals in that war, through forty-two months, were diseased patients, and only one-fifteenth were wounded. In the Crimean War, 11.2 per cent. in the hospitals suffered from injuries in battle, and 88.8 per cent. from other causes. 10 per cent. of the French patients in the same war were wounded, and 90 per cent. had fevers, etc. In the autumn of 1814, there were 815 patients in the great military hospital at Burlington, Vermont. Of these 50 were wounded, and the rest had the diseases of the camp.
In the Crimean War, 16,296 died from disease, and 4,774 from injuries received in battle. In the Peninsular War, 25,304 died of disease, and 9,450 from wounds.
During eighteen years, 1840 to 1857, 19,504 were discharged from the home, and 21,325 from the foreign stations of the British army. Of these, 541, or 2.7 per cent. of those at home, and 3,708, or 17.3 per cent. abroad, were on account of wounds and fractures, and the others on account of disease, debility, and exhaustion.
Nations, when they go to war, prepare to inflict injury and death on their opponents, and make up their minds to receive the same in return; but they seem neither to look nor to prepare for sickness and death in their camps. And when these come upon their armies, they seem either to shut their eyes to the facts, or submit to the loss as to a disturbance in Nature, a storm, a drought, or an earthquake, which they can neither prevent nor provide for, and for which they feel no responsibility, but only hope that it will not happen again. Nevertheless, this waste of life has followed every army which has been made to violate the laws of health, in privations, exposures, and hardships, and whose internal history is known. The experience of such disastrous campaigns ought to induce Governments to inquire into the causes of the suffering and loss, and to learn whether they are not engaged in a struggle against Nature, in which they must certainly fail, and endeavoring to make the human body bear burdens and labors which are beyond its strength. But Governments are slow to learn, especially sanitary lessons. The British army suffered and died in great numbers at Walcheren and South Beveland, in the middle of the last century. Pringle described the sad condition of those troops, and warned his nation against a similar exposure; yet, sixty years later, the Ministry sent another army to the same place, to sink under the malarious influences and diseases in the same way. The English troops at Jamaica were stationed in the low grounds, where, "for many generations," "the average annual mortality was 13 per cent." "A recommendation for their removal from the plains to the mountains was made so far back as 1791. Numerous reports were sent to the Government, advising that a higher situation should be selected"; but it was not until 1837, after nearly half a century of experience and warning, that the Ministry opened their eyes to this cost of life and money in excessive sickness and mortality, and then removed the garrison to Maroontown, where the death-rate fell to 2 per cent., or less than one-sixth of what it had been.
The American army, in the war with Great Britain fifty years ago, suffered from the want of proper provision for their necessities and comfort, from exposures and hardships, so that sometimes half its force was unavailable; yet, at the present moment, a monstrous army is collected and sent to the field, under the same regulations, and with the same idea of man's indefinite power of endurance, and the responsibility and superintendence of their health is left, in large measure, to an accidental and outside body of men, the Sanitary Commission, which, although an institution of great heart and energy, and supported by the sympathies and cooperation of the whole people, is yet doing a work that ought to be done by the Government, and carrying out a plan of operations that should be inseparably associated with the original creation of the army and the whole management of the war.
The lesson which the experience of the Russian army of 1828 and 1829 taught the world of the mortal dangers of Bulgaria was lost on the British Government, which sent its own troops there in 1854, to be exposed to, and wither before, the same destructive influences. But at length sickness prevailed to such an extent, and death made such havoc, in the army in the East, that England's great sympathies were roused, and the Ministers' attention was drawn to the irresistible fact, that the strongest of Britain's soldiers were passing rapidly from the camp to the hospital, and from the hospital to the grave. Then a doubt occurred to the minds of the men in power, whether all was right in the Crimea, and whether something might not be done for the sanitary salvation of the army. They sent a commission, consisting of Dr. John Sutherland, one of the ablest sanitarians of the kingdom, Dr. Hector Gavin, and Robert Rawlinson, civil engineer, to the Black Sea, to inquire into the state of things there, to search out the causes of the sufferings of the army, and see if there might not be a remedy found and applied. At the same time, Miss Nightingale and a large corps of assistants, attendants, and nurses, women of station and culture and women of hire, went to that terrible scene of misery and death, to aid in any measures that might be devised to alleviate the condition of the men. Great abuses and negligence were found; and the causes of disease were manifest, manifold, and needless. But a reform was at once instituted; great changes were made in the general management of the camp and hospitals and in the condition of the soldiers. Disease began to diminish, the progress of mortality was arrested, and in the course of a few months the rate of death was as low as among men of the same ages at home.
This commission made a full report, when they returned, and described the state of things they found in the Crimea and on the shores of the Black Sea,--the camps, barracks, huts, tents, food, manner of life, and general sanitary condition of the troops, their terrible sufferings, and the means and ways of caring for the sick, the measures of reform which they had proposed and carried out, and their effects on the health of the men. This report was published by the Government.
Besides this commission, the Government sent Dr. Lyons, a surgeon and pathologist of great learning and acumen, to investigate the pathology or morbid condition of the army. According to his instructions, he spent four months in the Crimea and at the great hospitals on the Bosphorus. He examined and traced the course of disease and disturbance in the sick and wounded. He made very many thorough examinations after death, in order to determine the effects of vitiating influences upon the organization, and the condition of the textures and organs of the body in connection with the several kinds of disorders. Dr. Lyons's extremely instructive report was published by national authority as one of the Parliamentary folio volumes. After the war was over, Dr. W. Hanbury and Staff-Surgeon Matthew, under the direction of the Secretary of War, gathered, analyzed, and prepared the records of all the surgeons of the several corps of the Crimean army. To these they added a long and valuable treatise on the nature and character of the diseases, and their connection with the condition and habits of the men. These are published in two very thick folio volumes, and give a minute and almost daily history of the life, labors, exposures, privations, sufferings, sickness, and mortality of each regiment. These two works, of Dr. Lyons and Drs. Hanbury and Matthew, show the inseparable connection between the manner of living and the health, and demonstrate that the severe life of war, with its diminished creation of vital force, by imperfect and uncertain nutrition and excessive expenditure in exposures and labors, necessarily breaks down the constitution. It subjects the body to more abundant disorders, and especially to those of the depressive, adynamic type, which, from the want of the usual recuperative power, are more fatal than the diseases of civil life. These works may be considered generic as well as specific. They apply to and describe the sanitary condition and the pathological history of all armies engaged in hard and severe campaigns, as well as those of the Crimea. They should, therefore, be read by every Government that engages in or is forced into any war. They should be distributed to and thoroughly understood by every commander who directs the army, and every surgeon who superintends the sanitary condition of, and manages the sickness among, the men; and happy will it be for those soldiers whose military and sanitary directors avail themselves of the instructions contained in these volumes.
There are several other works on the Crimean War, by surgeons and other officers, written mainly to give a knowledge of the general facts of those campaigns, but all incidentally corroborating and explaining the statements in the Government Reports, in respect to the health and sufferings of the British and French armies. In this view, Dr. Bryce's book, "England and France before Sebastopol," and M. Baudens's and M. Scrive's medical works in French, are worthy of great attention and confidence.
The most important and valuable work, in this connection, is the Report of the British Commission appointed in May, 1854, "to inquire into the regulations affecting the sanitary condition of the British army, the organization of the military hospitals, and the treatment of the sick and wounded." This commission included some of the ablest and most learned physicians and surgeons in the civil and military service, some of the most accomplished statisticians, sanitarians, army-officers, and statesmen in the United Kingdom. They were authorized to inquire into the habits and duties, the moral and sanitary condition of the army, the amount and kinds of sickness, the causes and frequency of death, and the means of improvement. This commission sat for a long time in London. They called before them fifty-three witnesses, among whom were Sir Benjamin Brodie, the leading surgeon of England, Dr. Andrew Smith, Director-General of the Medical Department of the Army, Thomas Alexander, Inspector-General of Hospitals, Major-General Airey, Quartermaster-General, Dr. John Sutherland, late Crimean Commissioner, and one of the leading authorities of Great Britain in all sanitary matters, Dr. William Fair, the chief and master-spirit of the Registry-Office, and the highest authority in vital statistics, Colonel Sir Alexander Tulloch, author of the elaborate and valuable reports on the mortality in the British army, Francis G. P. Neison, author of "Contributions to Vital Statistics," Miss Nightingale, and others, surgeons, officers, purveyors, engineers, soldiers, and medical and sanitary scholars.
The commission put forth 10,070 interrogatories relating to everything connected with the army, the persons and the materiel, to officers, surgeons, physicians, health-officers, soldiers, nurses, cooks, clothing, food, cooking, barracks, tents, huts, hospitals, duties, labors, exposures, and privations, and their effects on health and life, in every climate, wherever British troops are stationed or serve, at home and abroad. The same inquiry was extended to the armies of other nations, French, Turkish, Russian, etc. To these questions the witnesses returned answers, and statements of facts and opinions, all carefully prepared, and some of great length, and elaborate calculations in respect to the whole military and sanitary science and practice of the age. A large part of the inquiry was directed to the Crimean army, whose condition had been, and was then, a matter of the most intense interest. Many of the witnesses had, in various ways, been connected with that war: they were familiar with its history, and their answers revealed much that had not before been known. The result of all this investigation is published in a folio volume of 607 pages, filled with facts and principles, the lamentable history of the past, painful descriptions of the present, and wise suggestions for the future management of the army; and the whole is worthy of the careful attention of all who, as projectors, leaders, or followers, have anything to do with the active operations of war.
The Crimean War has this remarkable interest, not that the suffering of the troops and their depreciation in effective power were greater than in many other wars, but that these happened in an age when the intelligence and philanthropy, and even the policy of the nation, demanded to know whether the vital depression and the loss of martial strength were as great as rumor reported, whether these were the necessary condition of war, and whether anything could be done to lessen them. By the investigations and reports of commissions, officers, and others, the internal history of this war is more completely revealed and better known than that of any other on record. It is placed on a hill, in the sight of all nations and governments, for their observation and warning, to be faithful to the laws of health in providing for, and in the use of, their armies, if they would obtain the most efficient service from them.
There are, and have been, faults--grievous, destructive, and costly faults--in all connected with armies, from the Governments at the head, down through all grades of officers, to the men in the ranks: they are faults of theory and faults of practice,--of plan in those who direct, and of self-management in those whose whole duty is to obey. The root of this is the failure to fully understand and count the cost, and to prepare to meet it as men generally do in the management of their common affairs. In civil life, when prudent men intend to effect any purpose by the aid of motive power, whether of water, steam, horse, or other kind, they carefully consider the means of generating that power, and the best and safest ways of applying and expending it. They include this in their plans, and make provision accordingly. Precisely determining the extent of the purpose they design to effect, and the amount of force that is and will be needed, they make their arrangements to provide or generate and maintain so much as long as they intend to do the work. During the whole process, they carefully guard and treasure it up and allow none to be wasted or applied to any other than the appointed purpose. But in the use and management of the vital machines, the human bodies, by which the purposes of war are to be accomplished, nations are less wise. There are few, perhaps no records of any Government, which, in creating, maintaining and operating with an army, has, at and during the same time, created and established the never-failing means of keeping the machinery of war in the best working order, by sustaining the health and force of the men in unfailing fulness.
War is carried on by a partnership between the Government and soldiers, to which the Government contributes money and directing skill, and assumes the responsibility of management, and the soldiers contribute their vital force. In the operation of this joint concern, both the money of the nation and the lives of the men are put at risk. Although, by the terms of the contract, the Government is presumed to expend its money and the soldiers' vital force to the extent that may be necessary to effect the objects of the association, it has no right to do this for any other purpose or on any other condition. It may send the men to battle, where they may lose in wounds or in death a part or all that they have contributed; but it has no right, by any negligence or folly on its own part or in its agents, to expend any of the soldiers' health or strength in hunger, nakedness, foul air, miasma, or disease. There is a received glory attached to wounds, and even to death, received in a struggle with the enemies of one's country, and this is offered as a part of the compensation to the warrior for the risk that he runs; but there is no glory in sickness or death from typhus, cholera, or dysentery, and no compensation of this kind comes to those who suffer or perish from these, in camp or military hospital.
Military life, with the labors, exposures, and circumstances of war, differs widely from civil life. The social and domestic machinery of home spontaneously brings within the reach of families the things that are needful for their sustenance, comfortable for their enjoyment, and favorable to their health. But this self-acting machinery follows not the soldier through his campaigns. Everything he needs or enjoys is to be a matter of special thought, and obtained with a special effort and often with difficulty. Much that was very comfortable and salutary in civil life must be given up in the camp. The government is the purveyor for and the manager of the army; it undertakes to provide and care for, to sustain and nourish the men. But, with all its wisdom, power, and means, it is not equal to the thousand or thousands of housekeepers that cared and provided for these men when at home; and certainly it does not, and probably cannot, perform these domestic offices as well and as profitably for the soldiers as their natural providers did. Nevertheless, the Government is the sole provider for the army, and assumes the main responsibility of the physical condition of its members.
Starting with the very common belief that the human body has an indefinite power of endurance, or, if it suffer from disease, or fall in death, it is from causes beyond man's control,--seeing, also, that it is impossible to carry the common means of sustaining life into the camp, Governments seem willing to try the experiment of requiring their men to do the hard work of war without a certain, full supply of sustenance. They expect from the army the largest expenditure of force, but sometimes give it the smallest means and poorest conditions of recuperating it.
The business of war is not constant and permanent, like the pursuits of peace. It therefore comes to most managers as a new and unfamiliar work, to which they can bring little or no acquaintance from experience. They enter upon untried ground with imperfect knowledge of its responsibilities and dangers, and inadequate conceptions of the materials and powers with which they are to operate. They therefore make many and some very grave mistakes, every one of which, in its due proportion, is doubly paid for in drafts on the nation's treasury and on the soldiers' vital capital, neither of which is ever dishonored.
Military life is equally new to the soldier, for which none of his previous education or experience has fitted him. He has had his mother, wife, sister, or other housekeeper, trained and appointed for the purpose, to look after his nutrition, his clothing, his personal comfort, and, consequently, his health. These do not come without thought and labor. The domestic administration of the household and the care of its members require as much talent, intelligence, and discipline as any of the ordinary occupations of men. Throughout the civilized world, this responsibility and the labor necessary for its fulfilment absorb a large portion of the mental and physical power of women.
When the new recruit enters the army, he leaves all this care and protection behind, but finds no substitute, no compensation for his loss in his new position. The Government supposes either that this is all unnecessary, or that the man in arms has an inspired capacity or an instinctive aptitude for self-care as well as for labor, and that he can generate and sustain physical force as well as expend it. But he is no more fitted for this, by his previous training and habits, than his mother and wife are for making shoes or building houses by theirs. Nevertheless he is thrown upon his own resources to do what he may for himself. The army-regulations of the United States say, "Soldiers are expected to preserve, distribute, and cook their own subsistence"; and most other Governments require the same of their men. Washing, mending, sweeping, all manner of cleansing, arrangement and care of whatever pertains to clothing and housekeeping, come under the same law of prescription or necessity. The soldier must do these things, or they will be left undone. He who has never arranged, cared for, or cooked his own or any other food, who has never washed, mended, or swept, is expected to understand and required to do these for himself, or suffer the consequences of neglect.
The want of knowledge and training for these purposes makes the soldier a bad cook, as well as an indiscreet, negligent, and often a slovenly self-manager, and consequently his nutrition and his personal and domestic habits are neither so healthy nor so invigorating as those of men in civil life; and the Government neither thinks of this deficiency nor provides for it by furnishing instruction in regard to this new responsibility and these new duties, nor does it exercise a rigid watchfulness over his habits to compel them to be as good and as healthy as they may be.
Whatever may be the excess of sickness and mortality among soldiers over those among civilians, it is manifest that a great portion is due to preventable causes; and it is equally manifest that a large part of these are owing to the negligence of the Government or its agents, the officers in command or the men themselves, in regard to encampments, tents, clothing, food, labors, exposures, etc.
The places of encampment are usually selected for strategic purposes, or military convenience, and the soldiers are exposed to the endemic influences, whatever they may be. In some localities these influences are perfectly salubrious; in others they are intensely destructive. Malaria and miasms offer to the unpractised eye of the military officer no perceptible signs of their presence. The camp is liable to be pitched and the men required to sleep in malarious spots, or on the damp earth, or over a wet subsoil, exposed to noisome and dangerous exhalations from which disease may arise. Pringle says, that, in 1798, the regiment which had 52 per cent, sick in two months, and 94 per cent, sick in one season, "were cantoned on marshes whence noxious exhalations emanated." "Another regiment encamped where meadows had been flowed all winter and just drained, and half the men became sick." Lord Wellington wrote, August 11, 1811, "Very recently, the officer commanding a brigade encamped in one of the most unwholesome situations, and every man of them is sick." One of our regiments encamped at Worcester, Massachusetts, on the Agricultural Society's grounds, where the upper soil was not dry and the subsoil was wet. The men slept in tents on the ground, consequently there were thirty to forty cases of disordered bowels a day. The surgeon caused the tents to be floored, and the disease was mitigated. The Eleventh Massachusetts Regiment were encamped on a wet soil at Budd's Ferry, in Maryland. In a week, thirty cases of fever appeared. Dr. Russell, the surgeon, ordered the camp to be removed to a dry field, and the tents to be floored with brush; no new cases of fever appeared afterward. Moltka says that "the Russian army which suffered so terribly and fatally in 1828 and 1829 was badly clothed and badly nourished, and in no way protected against the climate of the Danubian Provinces, and especially of Bulgaria, where the temperature varies from 58 deg. in the day to 29 deg. at night, and where the falling dew is like a fine and penetrating rain."
Lord Wellington was a sagacious observer and a bold speaker. His despatches to his Government frequently mention, the errors of those who should provide for the army, and the consequent sufferings of the soldiers. November 14, 1809, he says, "In the English army of 30,000 men, 6,000 are sick." "Want of proper food increases sickness." "With nothing but water for drink, with meat, but no salt, and bread very rarely for a month, and no other food; consequently, few, if any, were not affected with dysentery." Again he writes, "Men cannot perform the labors of soldiers without food. Three of General Park's brigade died of famine yesterday, on their march; and above a hundred and fifty have fallen out from weakness, many of whom must have died from the same cause." August 9, 1809, he wrote to Lord Castlereagh, "No troops can serve to any good purpose, unless they are regularly fed. It is an error to suppose that a Spaniard, or any man or animal of any country, can make an exertion without food." In February, 1811, he wrote, "The Portuguese army of 43,000 or 44,000 men has about 9,000 sick, which is rather more than a fifth. This is caused by want of proper and regular food, and of money to purchase hospital-stores. If this be continued, the whole army will be down, or must be disbanded."
The British army in Spain suffered from want of clothing as well as of food. The Duke, who did not intend to be misunderstood, nor believe that this was without somebody's fault, wrote, November 3, 1810, to General Pane, "I wish it were in my power to give you well-clothed troops or hang those who ought to have given them clothing."
The diaries of the medical officers in the Crimean army, quoted in the "Medical and Surgical History" of that war, already referred to, are full of similar complaints, and these are supported by Dr. Lyons's "Pathological Report." One says, "Some of the camps were very injudiciously chosen." "The men were very much weakened," "unable to undergo any fatigue," even "to carry their knapsacks." "At Balaklava, they built their huts on a very unhealthy site." Sir John Hall, Inspector-General of Hospitals, referring to this, said, "I protested against it, in the strongest way I could, but without effect; and the consequence was that shortly after the men had spotted fever." Dr. Hanbury says: "November, 1854. Health of the army rapidly deteriorated from defective diet, harassing duties, hardships, privations, and exposures to the inclement season." "Cholera increased; cold, wet, innutritious and irritating diet produced dysentery, congestion and disorganization of the mucous membrane of the bowels, and scurvy." January, 1855, he says, "Fever and bowel affections indicated morbid action; scurvy and gangrene indicated privation and exposures."
The surgeon of the Thirty-Fourth Regiment writes: "November, 1854. Cholera broke out. It rained constantly. Troops had no other protection from the damp ground than a single wet blanket." "Without warm clothing, on short allowance of provisions, in want of fuel." "The sanitary condition of the regiment deteriorated rapidly: 56 per cent. of the men admitted to the hospital."
Forty-First Regiment, November and December. "No respite from severe duties; weather cold and wet; clothing ill-adapted for such climate and service; disease rapidly increased; 70 per cent. of the men in the hospital in two months."
Thirty-Third Regiment, December, 1854. "Cold and wet weather, coupled with insufficient food, fuel, and clothing, and severe and arduous duties, all combined to keep up the sickness; 48.8 per cent. admitted to the hospital in this month."
Twentieth Regiment. "The impoverished condition of the blood, dependent on long use of improper diet, exposure to wet and cold, and want of sufficient clothing and rest, had become evident." "Scurvy, diarrhoea, frost-bite, and ulceration of the feet followed."
First Regiment. "December, 1854. Scarcely a soldier in perfect health, from sleeping on damp ground, in wet clothing, and no change of dress; cooking the worst; field-hospital over-crowded." "January, 1855. Type of disease becoming more unequivocally the result of bad feeding, exposure, and other hardships."
Thirtieth Regiment. "Duties and employments extremely severe; exposure protracted; no means of personal cleanliness; clothing infested with vermin; since Nov. 14, short allowance of meat, and, on some days, of biscuit, sometimes no sugar, once no rice; food sometimes spoiled in cooking; tents leaked; floors and bedding wet; sanitary efficiency deteriorated in a decided manner."
These quotations are but samples of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of similar statements, showing the immediate connection between privations, exposures, and hardships, and depression of life and abundant disease.
Dr. Sutherland went through all the camps, and makes similar statements. "The damp, unventilated, and undrained huts, in some parts of the camp, produced consequences similar to those in cellar-dwellings at home,"--that is, typhus and typhoid diseases. "The half-buried huts of the Sardinian camp furnished a large proportion of fever cases among their occupants," "That beautiful village of Balaklava was allowed to become a hot-bed of pestilence, so that fever, dysentery, and cholera, in it and its vicinity and on the ships in the harbor, were abundant." "Filth, manure, offal, dead carcasses, had been allowed to accumulate to such an extent, that we found, on our arrival, in March, 1855, it would have required the labor of three hundred men to remove the local causes of disease before the warm weather set in." General Airey said: "The French General Canrobert came to me, complaining of the condition in which his men were. He said 'they were dying in the mud.'"
Dr. Bryce, one of the army-surgeons in that war, says, in his book: "The British army was exhausted by overwork and the deficiency of everything that would sustain health and strength."
When the soldier, overcome by these morbific influences, became sick, and was taken to the hospital, he was still compelled to suffer, and often sank under, the privation of those comforts and means of restoration which the sick at home usually enjoy.
Under direction of the Sanitary Commission, the hospitals were cleansed and ventilated, and the patients allowed more room. In the first three weeks of these improvements, the mortality from diseases fell to one-half; in the second three weeks, to one-third; in the third, to one-fifth; and in the fourth and fifth periods, to one-tenth of that which prevailed be before they were begun.
The reform was carried through the whole army, camp and barracks, Government supplies, and soldiers' habits and exposures; and the mortality from diseases, which had been at the annual rate of 114 per cent. in January, and 83 per cent. in February, fell to 19 per cent. in April and May, 5 per cent. in the autumn, and 1.6 per cent. in the winter following.
The exposures, privations, and sufferings of our own army in the last war with Great Britain, heart-rending even at this distance of time, were sufficient to account for much of the terrible sickness and mortality that prostrated and destroyed the men. They were at times in want of food, clothing, and tents; and yet, in the new and unsettled country, in the wilderness and forest, they performed great labors. "Long and unremitting exposures to wet, cold, and fatigue, with a diet which, under existing circumstances, could not prove nutritious, exhausted the vital principle, and diarrhoea and typhus fever supervened. The production of animal putrefaction and excrementitious materials were also sources of these diseases. Armies always accumulate these noxious principles about their encampments in a few days, when attention is not called to their daily removal." Feeble, and destitute of clothing and provisions, they invaded Canada at the end of the autumn in 1813. "During the whole of October and part of November, most of them were subjected to excessive fatigues, and exposed in open boats on the lake, when it rained almost every day." "On the 14th of November the weather became intensely cold, and remained so all winter. In addition to their great fatigue, most of them lost their extra clothing and blankets on their march and in the battle of the 11th. Even the sick had no covering but tents until January. Provisions were scarce, and of a bad quality. Under these circumstances, sickness and mortality were very great." "Nearly one-half of the army," 47 per cent., "were unfit for duty."
"Through the following winter, the want of necessaries for the support of the enfeebled and wretched soldier was most severely felt. The poor subsistence which bread of the worst quality afforded was almost the only support which could be had for seven weeks." "The sickness, deaths, and distress at French Mills excited much alarm. This great mortality had obvious causes for its existence." "Predispositions to sickness, the effects of obvious causes, the comfortless condition of men exposed to cold, wanting the common necessaries of life to support them in their exhausted states." Dr. Lovell adds: "It was impossible for the sick to be restored with nothing to subsist upon except damaged bread." Among the causes of the abundant sickness, in March, along the Niagara frontier, given by the surgeons, were "severe duty during the inclement weather, exposure on the lake in open transports, bad bread made of damaged flour, either not nutritious or absolutely deleterious, bad water impregnated with the product of vegetable putrefaction, and the effluvia from materials of animal production with which the air was replete." "The array, in consequence of its stationary position, suffered from diseases aggravated by filth accumulated in its vicinity." "The clothing was not sufficient to protect the men on the northern frontier, and even this short allowance failed to reach them in due season." "The woollen garments have not been issued until the warm weather of summer commenced, when winter finds them either naked or clad in their summer dresses, perishing with cold."
The camps were sometimes in malarious districts. "At Fort George and the vicinity, the troops were exposed to intense heat during the day and to cold and chilly atmosphere at night." "The diseases consequent to this exposure, typhus and intermittent fever, dysentery and diarrhoea," and "but little more than half of the men were fit for duty."
Gen. Scott wrote from Mexico, February 14, 1848: "The army is also suffering from the want of necessary clothing. The new troops are as destitute as the others. They were first told that they should find abundant supplies at New Orleans, next at Vera Cruz, and finally here."
There is ever a danger of the sensibilities and perceptive faculties becoming blunted by exposure to and familiarity with offensive effluvia. "The General repeatedly called the attention of the officers at Fort George to the filthy state and foul effluvia of their camp, but they perceived no offensive odor; their olfactories had lost their acuteness, and failed to warn them of the noisome gases that pervaded the atmosphere." If the officers fail of their duty as housekeepers to see that everything in the camp and tents is clean and healthy, the men fall into negligent habits, and become dirty and sick. It was the "total want of good police" that reduced the regiment already referred to from 900 to 200 fit for duty. On the other hand, "The regiment of artillery, always subject to correct discipline, with quarters and encampments always in the best state, and the men mostly neat and clean, suffered less by disease than any on the northern frontier. Their better health may be much imputed to cleanliness."
Itch and lice, the natural progeny of negligence and uncleanness, often find their home in the army. Pringle, more than a hundred years ago, said that "itch was the most general distemper among soldiers." Personal and household vermin seem to have an instinctive apprehension of the homes that are prepared for them, and flock to the families and dwellings where washing and sweeping are not the paramount law and unfailing habit. They are found in the houses and on the bodies of the filthy and negligent everywhere. They especially delight in living with those who rarely change their body-linen and bedding. They were carried into and established themselves in the new barracks of Camp Cameron in Cambridge, Massachusetts; but they are never found in the Boston House of Correction, which receives its recruits from the filthiest dens of iniquity, because the energetic master enforces thorough cleansing on every new-comer, and continues it so long as he remains.
The camps and police of the present Union army, though better than the average of others and far above some, are yet not in as healthy condition as they might be. The Report of the Sanitary Commission to the Secretary of War, December, 1861, says: "Of the camps inspected, 5 per cent, were in admirable order, 45 per cent, fairly clean and well policed. The condition of 26 per cent, was negligent and slovenly, and that of 21 per cent, decidedly bad, filthy, and dangerous."  The same Report adds: "On the whole, a very marked and gratifying improvement has occurred during the summer." And that improvement has been going on ever since. Yet the description of a camp at Grafton, Virginia, in March, shows that there a very bad and dangerous state of things existed at that time, and "one-seventh of the regiment was sick and unfit for duty"; but the bold and clear report of Dr. Hammond of the United States Army produced a decided and favorable change, and "the regiment has now less than the average amount of sickness." 
The hospitals of the army are mostly buildings erected for other purposes, and not fitted for their present use; and the sudden influx of a large military population, with its usual amount of sickness, has often crowded these receptacles of the suffering soldiers. For want of experience on the part of the officers, surgeons, nurses, and men, in the management of such establishments, they are sometimes in very bad and unhealthy condition. In Cumberland, Maryland, fifteen buildings were occupied by about five hundred patients. These buildings had been warehouses, hotels, etc., with few or none of the conveniences for the sick. They were densely crowded; in some the men were "lying on the floor as thickly as they could be packed." One room with 960 feet of air contained four patients. Dr. Hammond's description of the eighty-three rooms and the condition of the patients in them seems to justify the terms he frequently uses. "Halls very dirty." "Rooms dismal and badly ventilated." "Utmost confusion appears to exist about each hospital; consequently, duties are neglected, and a state of the most disgusting want of cleanliness exists."  Happily, the wise and generous suggestions of the surgeon were carried out, and with the best results. This hospital was an exception; but it shows the need of intelligent watchfulness on the part of the Government.
It is to be expected that the soldier's dwelling, his tent and barrack, will be reduced to the lowest endurable dimensions in the campaign, for there is a seeming necessity for this economy of room; but in garrisons, stations, and cantonments, and even in encampments in, time of peace, this necessity ceases, and there is a power at least, if not a disposition, to give a more liberal supply of house--and lodging-room to the army, and a better opportunity for rest and recuperation. In common dwelling-houses, under favorable circumstances, each sleeper is usually allowed from 500 to 1,000 cubic feet of space: a chamber fifteen or sixteen feet square and eight feet high, with 1,800 to 2,048 feet of air, is considered a good lodging-room for two persons. This gives 900 to 1,024 feet of air for each. The prudent always have some means of admitting fresh air, or some way for the foul air to escape, by an open window, or an opening into the chimney, or both. If such a room be occupied by three lodgers, it is crowded, and the air becomes perceptibly foul in the night. Sometimes more are allowed to sleep within a room of this size; but it is a matter of necessity, or of lower sensibility, and is not healthy. They do not find sufficient oxygen to purify or decarbonize their blood through the night; they consequently are not refreshed, nor invigorated and fully prepared for the labors of the following day.
No nation has made this liberal and proper provision of lodging-room for its sleeping soldiers in peace or in war, in garrison or in the encampment.
The British army-regulations formerly allowed 400 to 500 cubic feet for each soldier in barracks in temperate climates, and 480 to 600 in tropical climates. The new regulations allow 600 feet in temperate climates. But the 356 barracks at the various military stations in Great Britain and Ireland give the soldiers much less breathing-room than the more recent regulations require. Of these,
3 allow 100 to 200 feet for each man. 27 " 200 to 300 " " 123 " 300 to 400 " " 125 " 400 to 500 " " 59 " 500 to 600 " " 19 " 600 to 800 " " 
The French Government allows 444 feet for each infantry soldier, and 518 feet for each man in the cavalry.
The British soldiers, at these home-stations, have less breathing-space and are subject to more foulness of air than the people of England in civil life; and the natural consequence was discovered by the investigation of the Military Sanitary Commission, that consumption and other diseases of the lungs were much more prevalent and fatal among these soldiers, who were originally possessed of perfect constitutions and health, than among the people at large. The mortality from consumption and other diseases of the respiratory organs, among the Household Cavalry, the Queen's Body-Guard, and the most perfectly formed men in the kingdom, was 25 per cent., among the Dragoon Guards 59 per cent., among the Infantry of the Line 115 per cent., and among the Foot-Guards 172 per cent. greater than it was among the males of the same ages throughout England and Wales, and consumption was the prevailing cause of death.
The huts of the British army are of various sizes, holding from twenty-five to seventy-two men, and allowing from 146 to 165 cubic feet for each. The "Portsmouth hut" is the favorite. It is twenty-seven feet long, fifteen feet wide, walls six feet, and ridge twelve feet high. This holds twenty-five men, and allows 146 feet of air to each man. All these huts have windows, and most of them are ventilated through openings under the eaves or just below the ridge, and some through both.
Some of the temporary barracks erected at Newport News, Virginia, are one hundred feet long, twenty-two feet wide, and twelve and a half feet high at the ridge, and accommodate seventy-six men, giving each 360 feet of air. Some are larger, and allow more space; others allow less; in one each man has only 169 feet of breathing-space. All these buildings are well supplied with windows, which serve also for ventilators.
In forts, the garrisons are usually more liberally supplied with sleeping-room, yet, on emergencies, they are densely crowded. At Fort Warren, in Boston Harbor, two regiments were temporarily stationed, in the summer of 1861. There was one large barrack divided into some large and many small rooms, and there was the usual supply of rooms in the casemates. There was one range of rooms in the barrack, each sixteen feet six inches long, seven feet four inches high, and varying in width from ten feet eight inches to thirteen feet two inches. In most of these rooms, including two of the narrowest, twelve men slept. They had from 105 to 119 feet of air for each one. There was a large window in each room, which was opened at night, and might have served for healthy ventilation, except that there was an accumulation of disgusting filth within a few feet of the building, on that side, sending forth offensive and noisome effluvia, and rendering it doubtful which was the most disagreeable and dangerous, the foul air within or the foul atmosphere without. In two of the casemate-rooms, holding sixty and seventy-five men respectively, each man had 144 and 180 feet of air. At Fort Independence, in the same harbor, a battalion was stationed, and slept in thirteen casemate-rooms, where the men had from 150 to 297 feet of air. All the casemate-rooms, being in the thick walls, and covered with earth, in both forts, were cold and damp, and many of them were kept comfortable only by fires, even in June.
The ten new barracks at Camp Cameron, in Cambridge, when full, according to the plan, give each soldier 202 feet of air for respiration; but in August last, when densely filled, as some of them were, the proportion of air for each man was reduced to 120 feet. The doors and windows were left open at night, however, and obviated in some degree the evil effects of the crowding.
The portable house must necessarily be as small as possible, and must be made to give its occupants the smallest endurable space. The English bell-tent contains 512 cubic feet, and lodges twelve to fifteen men, when on march, and eight to twelve men in camp, affording 34 to 64 feet of breathing-space for each. Quartermaster-General Airey says this is the best tent in use.
The American tents are of many varieties in shape and size. The Sibley tent gives 1,052 feet to seventeen or eighteen, and sometimes to twenty men, being 53 to 62 feet for each. The Fremont tent is somewhat larger, and, as used in the cavalry camp at Readville, gave the men more air than the Sibley. Both of these have means of ventilation. The wedge-tent, being the simplest in structure, is most easily pitched, struck, and packed by the soldiers, and therefore used by 58 per cent, of the regiments of the Union army, six me sleeping in each. But as occupied by two of the regiments in Massachusetts, in the summer of 1861, it was the most crowded and unhealthy. Those used by the Second Regiment at West Roxbury, and the Ninth at Long Island, (in Boston Harbor,) were twelve and a half feet long, eight feet wide, and six feet high to the ridge, and held twelve men. Each sleeper had 8-1/3 square feet of floor to rest upon, and 25 cubic feet of air to breathe through the night, with no ventilation, except what air passed in through the door-way, when left open, and through the porous cloth that covered the tent. Some of the tents of one of the regiments encamped at Worcester had 56 feet of floor-surface, and 160 feet of air, which was divided among six men, giving each 27 feet of air.
In all the camps of Massachusetts, and of most armies everywhere, economy, not only of room within the tents, but of ground where they are placed, seems to be deemed very important, even on those fields where there is opportunity for indefinite expansion of the encampment. The British army-regulations prescribe three plans of arranging the tents. The most liberal and loose arrangement gives to each soldier eighty square feet of ground, the next gives forty-two, and the most compact allows twenty-seven feet, without and within his tent. These are densities of population equal to having 348,000, 664,000, and 1,008,829 people on a square mile. But enormous and incredible as this condensation of humanity may seem, we, in Massachusetts, have beaten it, in one instance at least. In the camp of the Ninth Regiment at Long Island, the tents were placed in compact rows, and touched each other on the two sides and at the back. Between the alternate rows there were narrow lanes, barely wide enough for carriages to pass. Thus arranged, the men, when in their tents, were packed at the rate of 1,152,000 on a square mile, or one man on every twenty--two square feet, including the lanes between, as well as the ground under, the tents.
The city of London has 17,678 persons on a square mile, through its whole extent, including the open spaces, streets, squares, and parks. East London, the densest and most unhealthy district, has 175,816 on a mile. Boston, including East and South Boston, but not Washington Village, has 50,805 on a mile; and the Broad-Street section, densely filled with Irish families, had, when last examined for this purpose, in 1845, a density of population at the rate of 413,000 on the same space.
The errors and losses which have been adverted to are not all constant nor universal: not every army is hungry or has bad cookery; not every one encamps in malarious spots, or sleeps in crowded tents, or is cold, wet, or overworked: but, so far as the internal history of military life has been revealed, they have been and are sufficiently frequent to produce a greater depression of force, more sickness, and a higher rate of mortality among the soldiery than are found to exist among civilians. Every failure to meet the natural necessities or wants of the animal body, in respect to food, air, cleanliness, and protection, has, in its own way, and in its due proportion, diminished the power that might otherwise have been created; and every misapplication has again reduced that vital capital which was already at a discount. These first bind the strong man, and then, exposing him to morbific influences, rob him of his health. Perhaps in none of the common affairs of the world do men allow so large a part of the power they raise and the means they gather for any purpose to be lost, before they reach their object and strike their final and effective blow, as the rulers of nations allow to be lost in the gathering and application of human force to the purposes of war. And this is mainly because those rulers do not study and regard the nature and conditions of the living machines with which they operate, and the vital forces that move them, as faithfully as men in civil life study and regard the conditions of the dead machines they use, and the powers of water and steam that propel them, and form their plans accordingly.
But it is satisfactory to know that great improvements have been made in this respect. From a careful and extended inquiry into the diseases of the army and their causes, it is manifest that they do not necessarily belong to the profession of war. Although sickness has been more prevalent, and death in consequence more frequent, in camps and military stations than in the dwellings of peace, this excess is not unavoidable, but may be mostly, if not entirely, prevented. Men are not more sick because they are soldiers and live apart from their homes, but because they are exposed to conditions or indulge in habits that would produce the same results in civil as in military life. Wherever civilians have fallen into these conditions and habits, they have suffered in the same way; and wherever the army has been redeemed from these, sickness and mortality have diminished, and the health and efficiency of the men have improved.
Great Britain has made and is still making great and successful efforts to reform the sanitary condition of her army. The improvement in the health of the troops in the Crimea in 1856 and 1857 has already been described. The reduction of the annual rate of mortality caused by disease, from 1,142 to 13 in a thousand, in thirteen months, opened the eyes of the Government to the real state of matters in the army, and to their own connection with it. They saw that the excess of sickness and death among the troops had its origin in circumstances and conditions which they could control, and then they began to feel the responsibility resting upon them for the health and life of their soldiers. On further investigation, they discovered that soldiers in active service everywhere suffered more by sickness and death than civilians at home, and then they very naturally concluded that a similar application of sanitary measures and enforcement of the sanitary laws would be as advantageous to the health and life of the men at all other places as in the Crimea. A thorough reform was determined upon, and carried out with signal success in all the military stations at home and abroad. "The late Lord Herbert, first in a royal commission, then in a commission for carrying out its recommendations, and lastly as Secretary of State for War in Lord Palmerston's administration, neglecting the enjoyments which high rank and a splendid fortune placed at his command, devoted himself to the sanitary reform of the army." He saw that the health of the soldiers was perilled more "by bad sanitary arrangements than by climate," and that these could be amended. "He had some courageous colleagues, among whom I must name as the foremost Florence Nightingale, who shares without diminishing his glory." Both of these great sanitary reformers sacrificed themselves for the good of the suffering and perishing soldier. "Lord Herbert died at the age of fifty-one, broken down by work so entirely that his medical attendants hardly knew to what to attribute his death." Although he probed the evil to the very bottom, and boldly laid bare the time-honored abuses, neglects, and ignorance of the natural laws, whence so much sickness had sprung to waste the army, yet he "did not think it enough to point out evils in a report; he got commissions of practical men to put an end to them." A new and improved code of medical regulations, and a new and rational system of sanitary administration, suited to the wants and liabilities of the human body, were devised and adopted for the British army, and their conditions are established and carried out with the most happy results.
These new systems connect with every corps of the army the means of protecting the health of the men, as well as of healing their diseases.
"The Medical Department of the British army includes,--
"1. Director-General, who is the sole responsible administrative head of the medical service.
"2. Three Heads of Departments, to aid the Director-General with their advice, and to work the routine-details.
"A Medical Head, to give advice and assistance on all subjects connected with the medical service and hospitals of the army.
"A Sanitary Head, to give advice and assistance on all subjects connected with the hygiene of the army.
"A Statistical Head, who will keep the medical statistics, case-books, meteorological registers," etc.
Besides these medical officers, there are an Inspector-General of Hospitals, a Deputy Inspector-General of Hospitals, Staff and Regimental Surgeons, Staff and Regimental Assistant-Surgeons, and Apothecaries.
The British army is plentifully supplied with these medical officers. For the army of 118,000 men there were provided one thousand and seventy-five medical officers under full pay in 1859. Four hundred and seventy surgeons and assistant-surgeons were attached to the hundred regiments of infantry.
It is made the duty of the medical officer to keep constant watch over all the means and habits of life among the troops,--"to see that all regulations for protecting the health of troops, in barracks, garrisons, stations, or camps, are duly observed." "He is to satisfy himself as to the sanitary condition of barracks," "as to their cleanliness, within and without, their ventilation, warming, and lighting," "as to the drainage, ash-pits, offal," etc. "He is to satisfy himself that the rations are good, that the kitchen-utensils are sufficient and in good order, and that the cooking is sufficiently varied."
Nothing in the condition, circumstances, or habits of the men, that can affect their health, must be allowed to escape the notice of these medical officers.
In every plan for the location or movement of any body of troops, it is made the duty of the principal medical officer first to ascertain the effect which such movement or location will have upon the men, and advise the commander accordingly. It is his duty, also, to inspect all camp-sites and "give his opinion in writing on the salubrity or otherwise of the proposed position, with any recommendations he may have to make respecting the drainage, preparation of the ground, distance of the tents or huts from each other, the number of men to be placed in each tent or hut, the state of cleanliness, ventilation, and water-supply." "The sanitary officer shall keep up a daily inspection of the whole camp, and especially inform himself as to the health of the troops, and of the appearance of any zymotic disease among them; and he shall immediately, on being informed of the appearance of any such disease, examine into the cause of the same, whether such disease proceed from, or is aggravated by, sanitary defects in cleansing, drainage, nuisances, overcrowding, defective ventilation, bad or deficient water supply, dampness, marshy ground, or from any other local cause, or from bad or deficient food, intemperance, unwholesome liquors, fruit, defective clothing or shelter, exposure, fatigue, or any other cause, and report immediately to the commander of the forces, on such causes, and the remedial measures he has to propose for their removal." "And he shall report at least daily on the progress or decline of the disease, and on the means adopted for the removal of its causes."
Thus the British army is furnished with the best sanitary instruction the nation can afford, to guide the officers and show the men how to live, and sustain their strength for the most effective labor in the service of the country.
To make this system of vigilant watchfulness over the health of the men the more effectual, the medical officer of each corps is required to make weekly returns to the principal medical officer of the command, and this principal officer makes monthly returns to the central office at London. These weekly and monthly returns include all the matters that relate to the health of the troops, "to the sanitary condition of the barracks, quarters, hospitals, the rations, clothing, duties, etc., of the troops, and the effects of these on their health."
Under these new regulations, the exact condition of the army everywhere is always open to the eyes of medical and sanitary officers, and they are made responsible for the health of the soldiers. The consequence has been a great improvement in the condition and habits of the men. Camps have been better located and arranged. Food is better supplied. Cooking is more varied, and suited to the digestive powers. The old plan of boiling seven days in the week is abolished, and baking, stewing, and other more wholesome methods of preparation are adopted in the army-kitchens, with very great advantage to the health of the men and to the efficiency of the military service. Sickness has diminished and mortality very greatly lessened, and the most satisfactory evidence has been given from all the stations of the British army at home and abroad, that the great excess of disease and death among the troops over those of civilians at home is needless, and that health and life are measured out to the soldier, as well as to the citizen, according to the manner in which he fulfils or is allowed to fulfil the conditions established by Nature for his being here.
The last army medical report shows the amount and rate of sickness and mortality of every corps, both in the year 1859, under the new system of watchfulness and proper provision, and at a former period, under the old regime of neglect.
|Annual Average for|
|10||years, 1837 to 1846.||1859.|
Men in healthy
|districts of England||723|
The Foot-Guards, which lost annually 1,415 from diseases of the chest before the reform, lost only 538 in 100,000 from the same cause in 1859.
Among the infantry of the line, the annual attacks of fever were reduced to a little more than one-third, and the deaths from this cause to two-fifths of their former ratio. The cases of zymotic disease were diminished 33 per cent., and the mortality from this class of maladies was reduced 68 per cent.
The same happy accounts of improvement come from every province and every military station where the British Government has placed its armies.
Our present army is in better condition than those of other times and other nations; and more and more will be done for this end. The Government has already admitted the Sanitary Commission into a sort of copartnership in the management of the army, and hereafter the principles of this excellent and useful association will be incorporated with, and become an inseparable part of, the machinery of war, to be conducted by the same hands that direct the movements of the armies, ever present and efficient to meet all the natural wants of the soldier, and to reduce his danger of sickness and mortality, as nearly as possible, to that of men of the same age at home.
- Because thou com'st, a tired guest, Unto my tent, I bid thee rest. This cruse of oil, this skin of wine, These tamarinds and dates, are thine: And while thou eatest, Hassan, there,
Shall bathe the heated nostrils of thy mare.
- Allah il Allah! Even so An Arab chieftain treats a foe: Holds him as one without a fault, Who breaks his bread and tastes his salt; And, in fair battle, strikes him dead
With the same pleasure that he gives him bread!
You ask from me some particulars of the valued life so recently closed. Miss Sheppard was my friend of many years; I was with her to the last hour of her existence; but this is not the time for other than a brief notice of her career, and I comply with your request by sending you a slight memorial, hardly full enough for publication.
Elizabeth Sara Sheppard, the authoress of "Charles Auchester," "Counterparts," etc., was born at Blackheath, in England. Her father was a clergyman of unusual scholastic attainments, and took high honors at St. John's College, Oxford. Mr. Sheppard, on the mother's side, could number Hebrew ancestors, and this was the pride of his second daughter, the subject of this notice. Her love for the whole Hebrew race amounted to a passion, which found its expression in the romance of "Charles Auchester."
Very early she displayed a most decided poetic predisposition,--writing, when but ten years old, with surprising facility on every possible subject. No metre had any difficulties for her, and no theme seemed dull to her vivid intelligence,--her fancy being roused to action in a moment, by the barest hint given either by Nature or Art. Her first drama was written at this early age; it was called "Boadicea," and was composed immediately after she had been shown a field at Islington where this queen is said to have pitched her tent. Any one who asked was welcome to "some verses by 'Little Lizzie,'" written in her peculiar and fairy-like hand, (for when very young, her writing was remarkable for its extreme smallness and finish.) given with childlike simplicity, and artless ignorance of the worth of what she bestowed with a kiss and a smile.
Her poems were composed at once, with scarcely a correction. Her earlier ones, for the most part, were written at the corner of a large table, covered with the usual heaps of "after-lessons," in a school-room, where some twenty enfranchised girls were putting away copybooks, French grammars, etc., and getting out play-boxes and fancy-work, with the common amount of chatter and noise. Contrasted with such young persons, this child looked a strange, unearthly creature,--her large, dark gray eye full of inspiration, and every movement of her frame and tone of her voice instinct with delicate energy.
At the same age she would extemporize for hours on the organ, after wreathing the candlesticks with garden-flowers which she had brought in her hand,--their scent, she would say, suggesting the wild, sweet fancies which her fingers seemed able to call forth on the shortest notice. Persons straying into the church, as they often did, attracted by the sound of music, would declare the performer to be an experienced masculine musician.
When but a year older, she was an excellent Latin scholar, and, to use her father's words, she might then have "gone in for honors at Oxford." French she spoke and wrote fluently, besides reading Goethe and Schiller with avidity, and translating as fast as she read,--Schiller having always the preference. At fourteen she began the study of Hebrew, of which language she was a worshipper, and could not at that early age even let Greek alone. Her wonderful power of seizing on the genius of a language, and becoming for the time a foreigner in spirit, was noticed by all her teachers; her ear was so delicate that no subtile inflection ever escaped her, nor any idiom.
And now she surprised her most intimate friend by the present of a prose story, sent to her, when absent, in chapters by the post. This was succeeded by many other tales, and finally by "Charles Auchester," --which romance, as well as that of "Counterparts," was written in the few hours she could command after her teaching was over: for in her mother's school she taught music the greater part of every day,--both theoretically and practically,--and also Latin.
Her health, always delicate, suffered wofully from this constant strain, and caused her to experience the most painful exhaustion, which, however, she never permitted to be an excuse for shirking an occupation naturally distasteful to her,--and doubly so, that through all the din of practice her thousand fancies clamored like caged birds eager for liberty.
The moment her hour of leisure came, she would hide herself with her best loved work in the quietest corner she could find; sometimes it was a little room in-doors, sometimes the summer-house, sometimes under a large mulberry-tree; and thus "Charles Auchester" and "Counterparts" were written, the former without one correction,--sheet after sheet, flung from her hand in the ardor of composition, being picked up and read by the friend who was in all her literary secrets. At last this same friend, finding she had no thought of publication, in a moment of playful daring, persuaded her to send the manuscript to Benjamin Disraeli, and he introduced it to his publishers. I quote from his letter to the author, which may not be out of place here:--
"No greater book will ever be written upon music, and it will one day be recognized as the imaginative classic of that divine art."
"Counterparts" and other tales soon followed. And about the same date she presented, anonymously, a volume of stories to the young daughter of Mr. John Hullah, of "Part Music" celebrity. They were in manuscript printing, (if such a term may be used,) written by her own hand, and remarkable for their curious beauty. The heading of each story was picked out in black and gold. The stories are named "Adelaide's Dream," "Little Wonder, or, The Children's Fairy," "The Bird of Paradise," "Sproemkari," (from a Scandinavian legend,) "The First Concert," "The Concert in the Hollow Tree," "Uncle, or, Which is the Prettiest?" "Little Ernest," "The Nautilus Voyage." These stories are illustrated, and have a lovely dedication to the little lady for whom they were written.
The author had attended the "Upper Singing-Schools" for the sake of more musical experience. Yet she then sang at sight perfectly, with any number of voices. She has left three published songs, dedicated to the Marchioness of Hastings, and a large number of manuscript poems.
Her character was in perfect keeping with the high tone of her books. Noble, generous, and self-forgetting, tender and most faithful in friendship, burning with indignation at injustice shown to another, longing to find virtues instead of digging for faults,--her greatest suffering arose from pained surprise, when persons proved themselves less noble than she had deemed them.
Her rich imagination and slender purse were open to all beggars, but for herself she asked nothing, and was constantly a willing sufferer from her own inability to toady a patron or to make a good bargain with a publisher.
She felt most warmly for her friends in America, whose comprehension of her views, and honest, open appreciation of her books, inspired her with an ardent desire to write for them a romance in her very best manner. She had sketched two, and, doubtful which to proceed with first, contemplated sending both to an American friend for his decision; but constant suffering stayed her hand.
In the early spring she grew weaker day by day, and died on the 13th of March, at Brixton, in England, at the age of thirty-two.
Those who loved either her person or her works will find her place forever empty.
Among her manuscript papers I found this sketch, which has a peculiar significance now that the writer has passed away. It has never been printed.
I had been wandering, almost all day, in the cathedral of a town at some distance from London. I had sketched its carved pulpit, one or two cherub faces looking down from its columns, some of its best reliefs, and its oldest monument. It was evening, and I could no longer see to draw, though pencillings of light still fell on the pavement through the larger windows, whose colors were softened like those of the lunar rainbow; and still the edges of the stalls were gilded with the last gleams of sunset, though the seats were filled already with those phantoms which twilight seems to create in such a place. The monuments looked calmer and less formal than when daylight bared all their defects of design or finish; they seemed now worthy of their position beneath the vaulted roof, and even, adjuncts themselves to the harmony of the architecture. One among them, noticeable in the daytime for its refined workmanship, now gleamed out fresher and whiter than the rest, as was natural, for it had been placed there but a little while; but it had besides more expression, in its very simplicity, than such-like mementos of stone or marble usually contain. This was the memento of a husband's regret, and, as such, touching, however vain: a delicate form drooping on a bier, at whose head stood an angel, with an infant in his arms, which he raised to heaven with an air of triumph; while at the foot of the death-bed a figure knelt, in all the relaxed abandonment of woe. Marvellously, and out of small means, the chisel had conveyed this impression; for the kneeling figure was mantled from head to foot, and had its face hidden in the folds of the drapery which skirted the bier,--veiled, like the face of the tortured father in the old tragic tale.
While I gazed, I insensibly approached the still group; and while musing what manner of grief it might be, which could solace by perpetuating its mere image, I observed two other persons, whose entrance I had not been aware of, but whose attention was evidently directed to what had attracted mine. They were a lady and a gentleman, and the latter seemed actually supporting the former, who leaned heavily upon his arm, as it appeared from her manner of carriage, so weakly and wearily she stood. Her form was extremely slight, and the outline of her countenance sharp from attenuation, and in that uncertain light, or rather shade, she looked almost as pale as the carved faces before us. The gentleman, who was of a stately height, bent over her with an anxious air, while she gazed fixedly upon the monument. Her silence seemed to oppress him, for after a minute or two he asked her whether it was not very beautiful. "You know," she answered, in one of those low voices that are more impressive than the loudest, "You know I always suspect those memorials. I would rather have a niche in the heart."
They passed on, and left me standing there. I know not whether the fragile speaker has earned the monument she desired, whether those feeble footsteps have found their repose,--"a quiet conscience in a quiet breast,"--but her words struck me, and I have often thought of them since.
There is always something which seems less than the intention in a monument to heroism or to goodness, the patriot of the country, or the missionary of civilization. Every one feels that the graves of War, the many in the one, where link is welded to link in the chain of glory, are more sublime, more sacred, than the exceptional mausoleum. Every one has been struck with repugnant melancholy in the city church-yard, where tomb presses against tomb, and multitude in death destroys identity, saving where the little greatness of wealth or rank may provide itself a separate railing or an overtopping urn. Even in the more suggestive solitude of the country, one cannot but contrast the few hillocks here and there carefully weeded, and their trained and tended rose-bushes, with the many more neglected and sunken, whose distained stones the brier-tangle half conceals, and whose forget-me-nots have long since died for want of water. One may even muse unprofitably (despite the moralist) in our picturesque cemeteries, and as unprofitably in those abroad, with their crowds of crosses and monotony of immortal wreaths. In fact, whether on grounds philosophical or religious, it is not good to brood on mortality for itself alone; better rather to recall the living past, and in the living present prepare for the perfect future.
None die to be forgotten who deserve to be remembered. Even the fame for which some are ardent to sacrifice their lives, enjoyed early at that crisis of existence we call success, will in most cases change the desire for renown into a necessity, and stimulate the mind to the lowest motive but one, ambition,--possibly, to emulation, the lowest of all. Fame is valuable simply as the test of excellence; and there is a certain kind of popularity, sudden alike in its rise and subsidency, which deserves not the other and lasting name, for it fails to soothe that intellectual conscience which a great writer has declared to exist equally with the moral conscience. After all, it is a question whether fame is as precious to the celebrated during their lifetime as it is to those who love them, or who are attached to them by interest.
There are persons who die and are forgotten, when their exit from the stage of human affairs is a source of advantage to their survivors. Witness those possessed of large fortunes, which they have it in their power to bequeath, and over whose dwellings of mortality vigilant relations hover like the carrion-fowl above the dying battle-steed. I remember a good story to this effect, in which a lady and gentleman took a grateful vow to pic-nic annually, on the anniversary of his death, at the tomb of a relation who had greatly enriched them. They did so, actually, once; succeeding years saw them no more at the solemn tryst.
Even as to those who have excelled in art, or portrayed in language the imaginative side of life, it may be that their works abide and they not be recognized in them, that their words may be echoed in many tongues while the writer is put out of the question almost as entirely as he who carved the first hieroglyph on the archaic stone. It will ever be found, whether in works or words, that what touches the heart rather than what strikes the fancy, what draws the tear rather than excites the smile, will embalm the memory of the man of genius. But of all posthumous distinctions the noblest is that awarded to the philanthropist; even the meed of the man of science, which consists in the complete working of some great discovery skilfully applied, falls short of the reward of those who have contributed their utmost to the physical improvement and social elevation of man,--from the munificent endowment whose benefits increase and multiply in each succeeding generation, to the smallest seed of charity scattered by the frailest hand, as sure as the strong to gather together at the harvest its countless sheaves. To fill a niche in a heart, or a niche in each of a thousand hearts,--either a holier place than that of the poet, who lives in the imagination he renders restless, or that of the hero, who renders the mind more restless still for his suggestion of the glory which may surround a name, a glory rather to be dreaded than desired,--too often, in such cases, must evil be done or tolerated that good may be brought forth.
Then there is consolation for those not gifted either with worldly means or powers of mind or healthful daring. Some will ever remember and regret the man or woman who carries true feeling into the affairs of life, important or minute: gentle courtesies, heart-warm words, delicate regards,--as surely part of consummate charity as the drop is a portion of the deep whose fountains it helps to fill. Precious, too, is self-denial, not austerely invoked from conscience by the voice of duty, but welling from the heart as a natural and necessary return for all it owes to a Power it cannot reward. It has been said, that, to be respected in old age, one should be kind to little children all one's life. May we not, therefore, show just such helpful tenderness to the childlike or appealing weakness of every person with whom we have to do?--for few hearts, alas! have not a weak string. Then no burden shall be left to the last hour, except that of mortality, of which time itself relieves us kindly,--nor shall we have an account to settle with the future to which it consigns the faithful.
In the spring of 1860, a passenger left Massachusetts for the sunny South. As he passed slowly down to the Battery to embark from New York, the sun shone brightly on acres of drays awaiting their turn to approach the Southern steamers. Some of them had waited patiently from early morn for an opportunity to discharge, and it was a current rumor that twenty dollars had been paid for a chance to reach the steamers. The previous season had been a good one, and Cotton wore its robes of royalty. Southern credit stood at the highest point, while the West was out of favor; and doubtless many of the keen traders of the South, having some inkling of coming events, were preparing for future emergencies.
In the spring of 1860, the South was literally overrun with goods. Some sixteen powerful steamers were running between Savannah and New York; an equal number were on the line to Charleston; steamers and flat-boats in countless numbers were bearing down the Mississippi their tribute of flour, lard, and corn. The Northern and Western merchants were counting down their money for rice, cotton, and sugar, and giving long credits on the produce of the North and West.
Before hostilities began, the South was allowed to supply itself freely with powder and arms, and for months after they had begun, large supplies of fire-arms were drawn through Kentucky. Down to a recent period the South has continued to receive supplies from Missouri, Virginia, and Tennessee. With these resources, and with a capital drawn from a debt of two hundred millions to the North and West, it has been able to support, for the first fifteen months at least, three hundred thousand men in the field, and successfully to resist, in some cases, the advance of the Federal Army. While these resources lasted, while the blockade was ineffective, while the Confederacy could produce men to replace all who fell, while a paper currency and scrip could be floated, and while the nation hesitated to put forth its strength, the South was able to maintain a strong front, although driven successively from Maryland, Missouri, Kentucky, Western Virginia, and Tennessee, and thus deprived of nearly half the population and resources on which it originally relied.
The enlarged canal of New York, and the great railways which furnish direct routes from the West to the Atlantic, have of late years diverted from the Father of Waters a very large proportion of the exports of the West, but the steamers and flat-boats which floated down the Mississippi literally fed the Cotton States. Laden with corn, flour, and lard, with ploughs, glass, and nails, with horses and mules, and live stock of every description, they distributed their cargoes from Memphis to New Orleans, and came back freighted with sugar and cotton.
At length this great commerce has been interrupted, and the South, cut off from this almost indispensable supply of the necessaries of life, is now struggling for existence, and diverts its negroes from the remunerative culture of sugar and cotton to the cultivation of grain and corn.
There are few at the North who appreciate the sacrifice which attends this diversion, or the extent of the pressure which led to this disastrous change.
In Illinois, Iowa, or Indiana, the farmer can grow rich while selling his corn for ten cents per bushel, and it is now common for a man and a boy to cultivate a hundred acres and to gather five thousand bushels in a single season. The South does not possess the rich and exhaustless soil of the prairies, which for half a century will yield without return successive and luxuriant crops of corn. Its soil is generally light and easily exhausted, and is tilled by the rude and unwilling labor of the slave. The census apprises us that its average crop of corn is but fifteen bushels to the acre, in place of fifty to sixty in Illinois, and even this depends in part on guano or artificial stimulants. The average yield of wheat south of Tennessee is but six bushels to the acre, in place of twenty to forty in Ohio. The Southern planters, who can sell cotton with profit at ten cents per pound, cannot produce corn for less than one dollar per bushel, or tenfold the cost in the West, and in past years a dollar has been the customary price from North Carolina to Texas.
Before the war, the cotton-crop of the South had risen to five millions of bales; but now four-fifths of the land in cultivation is devoted to corn and grain. In place of five millions of bales, worth at former prices two hundred millions of dollars, and at present rates at least eight hundred millions, the South, in its folly, to the injury of the world, and the ruin of most of its planters, is now producing, in place of its cotton, less corn than could be furnished in Illinois in ordinary seasons for twenty millions of dollars. But even this is inadequate to the wants of its people and its stock. Its small farmers are diverted from the cultivation of the soil. The conscript-law is drafting all the able-bodied white men into the army.
The States from Tennessee and North Carolina to Texas have neither pasture nor mowing; their feeble stock gains but a precarious livelihood from the cane-brakes or weeds of the forests and Northern hay. Corn and grain were transported by railway more than three hundred miles into the interior. The writer has stood beside a yoke of Georgia oxen in Atlanta so small that they might well pass for calves at the North. Two Illinois steers would weigh down a half-dozen such animals. But, diminutive as they are, they, as well as the people of the South, require Northern supplies. And at this moment their last dependence is placed upon the valley of Virginia and the valleys of East Tennessee. Let us hope that the Union armies which now possess Nashville, Memphis, and Cumberland Gap may soon occupy Knoxville.
In the language of the "Richmond Examiner," "the possession of the lead, copper, and salt mines, and the pork, corn, and hay-crop of these countries, Eastern Tennessee and Western Virginia, is now vital to the existence of the Confederacy. This section of the country is the keystone of the Southern arch. It is now in great peril, as is the great artery through which the life-blood of the South now circulates. Whether the East Tennessee and Virginia railroad is to be surrendered, whether the only adequate supply of salt is to be lost, whether the only hay-crop of the South is to be surrendered, are questions of vast and pressing importance."
The wall of fire to which allusion has sometimes been made in debate is now closing in around the Southern Confederacy. The Mississippi is closed. But a single point of contact, at Vicksburg, remains between the States west of the Mississippi and the Atlantic States. Texas is insulated. The blockade is daily becoming more stringent upon the seaboard. One effort more, soon to be made, must sever the rich valleys, mines, and furnaces of Tennessee from the cotton districts, and the exhaustion of supplies of every description will soon become more and more apparent.
It is undoubtedly true that an occasional cargo escapes the blockade, that a few boat-loads of supplies are ferried by treason at the midnight hour across the Chesapeake, and sold at extravagant prices; but what does this amount to? What a contrast this trade presents to the millions of tons which used to reach the South from the Free States and Europe before it was crushed by the rebellion! And what a contrast does it present to-day to the commerce of the North,--to the barks and propellers which float down the Lakes deeply laden with grain,--to the weekly exports of New York, (twelve millions for the last three weeks,)--to its vast income from duties,--to the ships of the North visiting every ocean, earning more freight than for years past, although deprived of the carrying-trade of the South, and contending successfully with the marine of Great Britain for the supremacy on the ocean! How signal has thus far been the failure of the Southern prophecies made before the outbreak!
New York, we were told, was dependent on Southern commerce, and was to be ruined by the war; there were to be riots in the streets, and its palaces were to fall in ruins: but the riots and the ruins are to be found only in Southern latitudes.
The manufacturers of Massachusetts were to be broken down: but the woollen trade and the shoe-trade have received a new impetus,--are highly prosperous; and the cotton-spinners, with more than a year's supply of cotton, have by the rise of prices enjoyed a profit unprecedented. Having used their cotton with moderation, they have at the close of each six months seen their stocks of raw material and goods, by the rise of prices, undiminished in value, and blessed like the widow's cruse of oil. Nearly all have paid large dividends, many have earned dividends for the year to come, and are now sending their male operatives to the war, and their females to their rural homes, where they expect to perform some of the duties of brothers who have volunteered for the war. The ruin predicted falls not upon the spinner, but upon the authors of Secession.
Let us glance for a moment at the present condition of the South. General Butler found at New Orleans proof of its exhaustion in the prices of food,--with corn, for instance, at three dollars per bushel, flour twenty to thirty dollars per barrel, and hay at one hundred dollars per ton.
If we pass on to Mobile, we hear of similar prices, and learn that not a carpet can be found on the floor of any resident: they have all been cut into blankets for the army. White curtains and drapery have been converted into shirts; for cotton cloth cannot be had for a dollar a yard.
As we come on toward the North, we find the shops of Savannah nearly empty, with shoes and boots quoted at thirty dollars per pair. At such rates, what must it cost to put an army in condition to move?
At Charleston, the stores which two years since were overflowing with merchandise, and the daily recipients, of entire cargoes, are utterly empty; and when we reach Richmond, we see sugar quoted at three-fourths of a dollar, coffee at two dollars, and tea at sixteen dollars per pound, broadcloth at fifty dollars per yard, while whiskey, worth at Cincinnati twenty cents per gallon, commands at Richmond six dollars.
Such is the condition of affairs, while the South still has access to Virginia and East Tennessee, and after it has received a year's supply of Northern productions for which no payment has been made.
Having thus pictured the physical resources of the enemy, let us inquire what is the force which he can bring into the field, and his means of maintaining it.
There is conclusive evidence that at no period during the war has the Confederacy had more than three hundred and fifty thousand effective men in the field, and it has no power to carry that number beyond four hundred thousand. The population of the Union, by the census of 1860, was thirty-two millions. At the usual rate of increase it now amounts to thirty-four millions; of these, four millions are blacks, and of the residue, twenty-six millions are in the loyal districts, and but four millions in the Confederacy, if we exclude New Orleans and those portions of Virginia and Tennessee which have been subdued by the Federal arms.
In our Northern States the militia has rarely exceeded ten per cent. of the population. At least one-half of the population is composed of females; one-half of the residue is below the age of sixteen. If we deduct from the remainder three-twentieths for those below eighteen, those above forty-five, and those exempted by law or infirmity, one-tenth alone will remain.
It is said that the Confederacy has called out all the white males between sixteen and thirty-five, and proposes to summon all those between thirty-five and fifty. If it does so, we may well expect such forces to break down in heavy marches or suffer from exposure. But let us assume that it can bring into the field fourteen per cent. of its entire population--(and we must not forget that this is a high estimate, as all the able-bodied men of Massachusetts are but twelve per cent. of her population, or one hundred and fifty-five thousand): upon this assumption, the effective force of the Confederacy at the start was but five hundred and sixty thousand, and if to this we add forty thousand more for volunteers and conscripts from Maryland, Missouri, Kentucky, and East Tennessee, we have a capacity for six hundred thousand only. Of these there has been a continual waste from the outset by sickness, desertions, capture, and the casualties of war. The Union army has lost at least one-third, and been reduced from six hundred thousand to four hundred thousand by such depletion; and in the same ratio, the South, with inferior supplies and stores, and with greater exposure, must have lost at least an equal number.
In estimating its present capacity at four hundred thousand men, we undoubtedly exceed the actual resources of the South. To meet this we have at least four hundred thousand effective men now in the field, to be increased to a million by the new levies, and soon to be aided by thirty mail-clad steamers added to our present fleet on the ocean and the Mississippi,--a naval force equivalent to at least two hundred thousand more.
To sustain such forces in the field and on the water will doubtless tax all the energies of the Union; but how is the inferior force of four hundred thousand to be clad, fed, and paid by the exhausted Confederacy, with a white population less than one-sixth of that opposed to them, without commerce and the mechanic arts, and with no productive agriculture?
The pecuniary resources of the South for carrying on this war have thus far consisted principally of a paper currency and bonds, with a forced circulation. It has drawn little from taxes or forfeiture, although it has been aided by the appropriation of both public and private property of the United States.
We have no record of the currency issued, but we know that both prices and pay have been higher in Southern than in Northern armies; and if with us it has cost a thousand dollars per annum to sustain a soldier in the field, it has cost at that rate four hundred and sixty-seven millions to maintain three hundred and fifty thousand men for the last sixteen months in the Southern army, and of this at least four hundred millions has been met by the issue of paper.
Such an issue would be equivalent to an issue of seven times that amount, or of twenty-eight hundred millions, to be borne by the whites who now recognize the Union. How long can the South continue to float such a currency? Does it not already equal or exceed the paper currency of our Revolution, which became utterly worthless, notwithstanding our nation achieved its independence?
Our fathers, long before the surrender at Yorktown, resorted to specie, to the bank of Morris, and to French and Dutch subsidies: but how is the South to command bank-notes or specie, or to buy arms, powder, or provisions, or to satisfy soldiers with a currency such as has been described, or to make new issues at the rate of twenty-five millions per month?
At Richmond, the capital of the Confederacy, gold ranges from 125 to 150 per cent. premium. Must not this advance require a double or triple issue of currency, namely, fifty to seventy-five millions per month, to accomplish as much as has already been effected? And how as has already been effected? and how long can such a currency be floated within a contracting circle, and in the face of our new levies and our unbounded national credit? If the war should last another year, and this depreciating currency can be floated at all, it is safe to infer from the history of the past that the debt of the South must increase at least one thousand millions. Under the pressure of such growing weight its end may be safely predicted.
Thus far in the contest the South has possessed one great advantage. The planter's son, reared to no profession, in a region where the pursuits of trade and the mechanic arts have little honor, has been accustomed from childhood to the use of the horse and rifle. In most of the towns of the South you will find a military academy, and here the young cadet has been trained to arms and qualified for office: we have no such class in the Free States, except a few graduates from West Point. Under such officers, a motley army has been collected, composed of foreigners who have toiled in Southern cities as draymen and porters, of Northern clerks driven by coercion or sheer necessity to enlist, the poor whites, the outcasts of the South, a class the most degraded in public estimate,--a class which has the respect of neither the white man nor the negro. These people inhabit to a great extent the scrub-oak or black-jack forests, the second growth which has sprung up on exhausted plantations. Destitute of schools, churches, and newspapers, unable to read or write, without culture, generally steeped in whiskey, their sole property a cabin, and perhaps a few swine, which roam through the forests, these Pariahs of society gain a precarious subsistence by hunting, fishing, and occasional depredations upon the property of the planters. During a brief visit to Columbia, in 1860, one of these outcasts was arraigned before the Court of Sessions for stealing black-jack from a plantation and selling it in the streets of Columbia; and the judge in his flowing robes, while enlarging upon the offence, facetiously remarked, that the prisoner had doubtless swallowed the black-jack,--an allusion to the habits of the class which seemed well understood by the bar.
The position of this class has thus far been improved by the war. In the army the poor white has associated with the officer, far above him in social life. His aid has been courted, he has received high wages in Confederate notes, he has found better fare and clothing than he could procure at home, and has been lured to the contest by the eloquent appeals of the planter, by bitter attacks upon the North, and glowing pictures of the ruin which the abolitionists would bring upon the South. The Confederate notes have until recently proved sufficient for his purposes, while other classes have supplied the means to prosecute the war. But as the circle contracts and these notes prove worthless, food and clothing, tobacco and whiskey will cease to be attainable; and when the provost marshal has swept the plantation, and comes to the poor man's cabin to take his last bushel of meal and to shoot down his swine for the subsistence of the army, he will at length ask what he has to gain from the further prosecution of the war.
When this crisis arrives, and it must be approaching, how can the Southern army retain in its ranks either the poor white, the foreigner, or the Northern clerk, whose sympathies have never been with the Confederacy?
It may be said, that the Confederacy can continue the war by wealth accumulated in former years. But that wealth vested in land, slaves, or railways, now unproductive, or in banks whose funds have been advanced to planters still under protest. This wealth will not suffice to prosecute the war. Thus far it has been sustained by funds on hand, the seizure of national forts, arms, and arsenals, by the appropriation of debts due to Northern merchants, by supplies from Kentucky, Tennessee, and Missouri, and by the issue of paper already greatly depreciated. With these resources it has conducted a losing warfare while we were creating an army and a navy, and during this contest has lost three of the most important border States, nearly half of a fourth, several of its chief seaports, nearly all its shipping, and the navigation of the Mississippi.
But it may be urged, Has not McClellan retired from his intrenchments before Richmond? Have we not fought with varying results successive battles around Manassas? Are not our troops retiring to their old lines before Washington? Have not the enemy again broken into Kentucky? and do they not menace the banks of the Potomac and the Ohio? Let us concede all this. Let us admit that our new levies are for the moment inert,--that we are now marshalling, arming, and drilling our raw recruits; let us concede that the giant of the North has not yet put forth his energies,--that, although roused from his torpor, one of his arms is still benumbed, and that his lithe and active opponent is for the moment pommelling him on every side, and has a momentary advantage; let us admit that our go-ahead nation is indignant at the idea of one step backward in this great contest: still it is safe to predict that within sixty days our new army of superior men will be ready to take the field and advance upon the foe in overwhelming force,--that soon our iron fleet will be ready to batter down the fortresses of Charleston, Savannah, Mobile, Vicksburg, and Galveston, the last strongholds of the enemy. And when his army of conscripts shall have wasted away, after their last flurry and struggle, where is he to recruit or procure a new army for resistance or offence? The South is now taking the field with all its strength; but when that strength is broken, what power will remain to confront the forces of the Union?
The South has driven to the war its whole white population able to bear arms, and when that force is exhausted, at least two-thirds of the adult males of the North and the whole black population will still remain to sustain the Government, and births and emigration will soon fill the vacuum.
Let us place at the helm men of character and tried activity,--men of intelligence and forecast,--men who can appreciate the leaders of the South, reckless alike of property, character, and life, and the result cannot be doubtful.
The South is now commencing a new campaign, and is to confront a navy hourly improving, and an invulnerable fleet, armed with cannon more effective than any yet used in naval warfare. It is to encounter, with conscripts, a million of hardy volunteers, and to do this with its supplies reduced and its credit broken. It has but one reliance: a slave population of four millions, competent to maintain themselves, but incompetent to furnish to their masters a full supply of the coarsest food. While it furnishes a scanty supply, while it toils in the trenches, and feeds the horses of the cavalry, or drives the army-wagons, it is still an element of strength to the masters, and the question occurs, Shall the nation, now so severely taxed by the slaveholder, and compelled to pour forth its best blood like water to preserve its existence, remove this element of present and future strength by liberating the slave?
Can the slaveholder claim the preservation of slavery, when he relies upon it and uses it to aid him in destroying the Government? And if one-half of the population of the South is ready to sustain the Government, and to withdraw its aid from the foe, shall not the loyalist, whether white or black, be accepted and allowed the privileges of a citizen when he takes refuge under the national flag?
Can we expect future peace, unless we reduce to order lawless men, unless we draw them from the war-path by making labor and the arts of peace respected?
This is a momentous question which addresses itself to our nation at the present juncture. There are some who imagine that the negro, if liberated, would renew the scenes of San Domingo, and massacre the people of the South. But such has not been the case in the French and British Isles of the West Indies, although in those islands the proportion of the white population is far below that at the South. In the Cotton States the whites and the negroes are nearly equal in numbers; and if, in Jamaica, Barbadoes, Santa Cruz, and Martinique, the slaves, when liberated, have respected the rights of the masters, and recognized their title to the land, and have submitted to toil for moderate wages, where a handful of whites monopolized the soil, and demanded for it prices far beyond the value of the slave and land together, may we not well anticipate that the slave population, barely equal in number to the white population, trained to submission in a region where land is of little value, will, if liberated, continue to be a quiet and peaceful population?
There are some who predict that the negroes, if emancipated, will overrun the North and West. But why should they fly from the South to the cold winters and less genial climate of the North or West? It is servitude which degrades the negro; and if the stigma which he now bears is removed, why should he not cling to the region in which he was born and bred, and to which he is adapted by nature?
Should the institution of slavery survive the war into which we have been plunged by its adherents and propagators, we might well fear that our Northern and Western States would be overrun by the fugitives, who, having escaped during the war, would be disposed to place distance between themselves and their late masters, and to fly from the borders of States which would not hesitate to reduce them again to servitude; but if the institution itself should be terminated by the war, why should the free man be a fugitive from his home?
Our Western States are desirous to perpetuate in its purity the Anglo-Saxon blood, and would colonize the West with men raised under free institutions. They shrink from all contact with a race of bondmen. Our President, himself a Western man, proposes to colonize the free negro in Central America, and thriving colonies already exist on the coast of Africa. But why should we send from this country her millions of laborers? Is our land exhausted? Is there no room for the negro in the region where he lives? Has not the demand for sugar and cotton, for naval stores and timber, overtaken the supply? and has not the frank and truthful Mr. Spratt, of South Carolina, announced in the councils of that State, that the South must import more savages from Africa, to reclaim and improve its soil? Why, then, banish the well-trained laborer now on the spot?
Does not history apprise us how Spain suffered in her agriculture, and the arts of life declined, when the Moriscos were driven from her soil? how Belgium, the garden of Europe, decayed when Spanish intolerance banished to England the Protestant weavers and spinners, who laid the foundation of English opulence? how France retrograded when superstition exiled from her shores the industrious Huguenots? And are we to draw no light from history? Would we, at this moment, when our cotton-mills are closing their gates,--when the cotton-spinner of England appeals to the British minister for intervention,--when the weaver of Rouen demands the raw material of Louis Napoleon,--shall we, at a time when a single crop of cotton is worth, at current prices, nearly a thousand millions, or twice the debt contracted for the war,--impair our national strength by destroying the sources of supply? At least one crop has been lost, and this will for a term of years insure high prices. Are we to deprive our nation of these prices, and of the freights which would attend the shipments to Europe? Shall not cotton contribute to make good our losses, and to the progress of the nation?
Why is colonization necessary?
There is a belt of territory, now sparsely populated, and inhabited chiefly by negroes, extending from the Dismal Swamp to the Capes of Florida, and from these Capes to the Brazos,--generally level, and free from rocks and stones,--of the average width of nearly one hundred miles,--its area at least two hundred millions of acres,--competent to sustain forty millions of negroes, or ten times the number which now exist within the United States. Here are vast forests, unctuous with turpentine, annually producing pitch, tar, rosin, and ship-timber, with material for houses, boats, fuel, and lightwood, while the mossy drapery of the trees in suitable for pillows and cushions. Here is a soil which, with proper cultivation, can produce rice, corn, cotton, tobacco, and indigo, and is admirably adapted to the culture of the ground-nut and sweet potato. Here are rivers and inlets abounding in fish and shell-fish. Here is a climate, often fatal to the white, but suited to the negro. Here are no harsh winters or chilling snows. Along the coast we may rear black seamen for our Southern steamers,--cooks, stewards, and mariners for our West India voyages.
Has not Nature designed a black fringe for this coast? Has not the importation of the negro been designed by Providence to reclaim this coast, and to give his progeny permanent and appropriate homes? And, to use a favorite phrase of the South, does not Manifest Destiny point to this consummation? and why should the negro be exiled from these shores? Does he not cling like the white man to his native land? and are not his tastes, wishes, and attachments to be consulted,--a question so important to his race?
But it may be urged, that this is not public domain,--that it has been already appropriated, and is now the property of the Southern planter. But here is a public exigency, and the remedy should be proportioned to the exigency. The right of eminent domain should be exercised by the nation either directly after conquest, or through the States or Territories it may establish. By that right, in England and in most of our States, private property is taken for highways or railways. In New York it is thus appropriated for markets, hospitals, and other public purposes.
The land in question, if we deduct the sites of towns and villages and cities, as should be done, will not average in value three dollars per acre. Let it be valued at twice that price, and be charged with the interest of that price as a ground-rent to be paid by the settler. And if, in Barbadoes, the free negro has raised the value of land to three hundred dollars per acre, surely on this coast he can prosper upon land costing one-fiftieth part of the average price of that of Barbadoes.
If six dollars would not suffice, the land might be rated at an average value of ten dollars, and the settler charged with a quit-rent of half a dollar per acre, and allowed to convert his tenure into a fee-simple by the payment of the principal. The planter whose land should be appropriated would thus realize more than its value, and in great part the value of his slaves,--while the negro would secure at once a settled home, with an interest in the soil and the means of subsistence.
Is not this the true solution of the great problem?
If we can give to the negro a fixed tenure in the soil under the tutelage of the nation, he will soon have every incentive to exertion. With peace must come a continuous demand for all the produce of the South,--for cotton, tobacco, timber, and naval stores,--in exchange for which the negro would require at least threefold the amount of boots, shoes, clothing, and utensils which he at present consumes. Labor would then become honored and respected. Upon the uplands of the South the white man can toil effectively in the open air. In the warehouse and the workshop he can actually toil more hours during the year than in New York or New England, for his fingers will not there be benumbed by the intense cold of the North. When labor ceases to be degrading, the military school will give place to the academy, commerce will be honored, and a check be given to military aspirations; and should an insurrection again occur, the loyal population bordering the coast may be armed to resist alike insurrection at home and intervention from abroad, and unite with our navy in preserving the peace of the country.
The flags of war like storm-birds fly, The charging trumpets blow;
Yet rolls no thunder in the sky,
No earthquake strives below.
And, calm and patient, Nature keeps
Her ancient promise well,
Though o'er her bloom and greenness sweeps The battle's breath of hell.
And still she walks in golden hours
Through harvest-happy farms,
And still she wears her fruits and flowers Like jewels on her arms.
What mean the gladness of the plain,
This joy of eve and morn,
The mirth that shakes the beard of grain And yellow locks of corn?
Ah! eyes may well be full of tears,
And hearts with hate are hot;
But even-paced come round the years,
And Nature changes not.
She meets with smiles our bitter grief, With songs our groans of pain;
She mocks with tint of flower and leaf The war-field's crimson stain.
Still, in the cannon's pause, we hear
Her sweet thanksgiving-psalm;
Too near to God for doubt or fear,
She shares the eternal calm
She knows the seed lies safe below
The fires that blast and burn;
For all the tears of blood we sow
She waits the rich return.
She sees with clearer eye than ours
The good of suffering born,--
The hearts that blossom like her flowers And ripen like her corn.
Oh, give to us, in times like these,
The vision of her eyes;
And make her fields and fruited trees
Our golden prophecies!
Oh, give to us her finer ear!
Above this stormy din,
We, too, would hear the bells of cheer Ring peace and freedom in!
The Tabernacle: A Collection of Hymn-Tunes, Chants, Sentences, Motets, and Anthems, adapted to Public and Private Worship, and to the Use of Choirs, Singing-Schools, Musical Societies, and Conventions. Together with a Complete Treatise on the Principles of Musical Notation. By B.F. BAKER and W.O. PERKINS. Boston: Ticknor & Fields.
This thoroughly prepared book will prove of much service in those departments of musical study and practice for which it is intended. The style of church-music throughout the country has undergone material changes within the last five-and-twenty years. In the cities and larger towns, such societies as can afford the expense have established quartette choirs of trained vocalists, who deliver the hymns and anthems of the service to selections from the music of the great masters, which they are expected to render in a manner that shall be satisfactory to a taste educated and refined by the instruction of good teachers and the public performances of skilful musicians. In the country churches, the congregations still unite in the singing; or, where it has been the custom for those who could sing to "sit in the seats" and form a chorus choir, such custom still obtains. Some notion of city taste, however, has gone abroad in the country, and the choirs, although old-fashioned in their organization, are not quite content with the psalm-books of old time, and are constantly asking for something newer and better. A great many volumes have been published in order to supply this want, some of which have done good, while, if we say of others that they have done no harm, it is as much as they deserve.
A music-book for general use in churches which do not have quartette choirs and "classical" music must be prepared with care and good judgment. It must contain, of course, certain old standard tunes which seem justly destined to live in perpetual favor, and it must surround these with clusters of new tunes, which shall be as solid and correct in their harmony as the older, while their lightness and fluency of melody belong to the present day. There must be anthems and chants, and there must be a clear and thorough exposition of the elements of vocal music to help on the tyros who aspire to join the choir.
The work of which we are writing answers these requirements well. Its editors are practical men; they have not only taught music to city pupils, but they have conducted choirs and singing-schools, and have discovered the wants of ordinary singers by much experience in normal schools and musical conventions.
"The Tabernacle" contains the fruits of their observation and experience, and will be found to meet the requirements of many singers who have hitherto been unsatisfied. It commences with the rudiments of music and a glossary of technical terms, to which is appended a good collection of part-songs, especially prepared for social and festival occasions. Then follow the hymn-tunes, which are adapted not only to the ordinary metres, but also to all the irregular metres which are to be found in any collection of hymns which is known to be used in the country. Next come the chants and anthems: among these are arrangements from Mozart, Beethoven, Chapple, Rossini, (the "Inflammatus" from the "Stabat Mater"), Curschmann, (the celebrated trio, "Ti prego,") Lambillote, and other standard authors. Indices, remarkably full, and prepared upon an ingenious system, by which the metre and rhythm of every tune are indicated, conclude the volume.
We are confident that choristers will find "The Tabernacle" to be just such a book as they like to use in instructing and leading their choirs, and that choirs will consider it to be one of the books from which they are best pleased to sing.
The Rebellion Record: A Diary of American Events, with Documents, Narratives, Illustrative Incidents, Poetry, etc. Edited by FRANK MOORE, Author of "Diary of the American Revolution." New York: G.P. Putnam. Charles T. Evans, General Agent.
Three large volumes of this valuable record of the momentous events now transpiring on this continent have been published. The maps, diagrams, and portraits are excellent in their way. No fuller documentary history of the Great Rebellion could be desired; and as every detail is given from day-to-day's journals, the "Record" of Mr. Moore must always stand a comprehensive and accurate cyclopedia of the War. For the public and household library it is a work of sterling interest, for it gathers up every important fact connected with the struggle now pending, and presents it in a form easy to be examined. It begins as far back as December 17, 1860, and the third volume ends with the events of 1861.
The Artist's Married Life; being that of Albert Duerer. Translated from the German of Leopold Schefer, by Mrs. J.R. Stodart. Revised Edition, with Memoir. New York. James Miller. 16mo. pp. xxviii., 204. 88 cts.
The Pennimans; or, The Triumph of Genius. Boston. G.A. Fuller. 12mo. pp. 296. $1.00.
Sister Rose; or, The Ominous Marriage. By Wilkie Collins. Philadelphia. T.B. Peterson & Brothers. 8vo. paper, pp 65. 25 cts.
Rifle-Shots at Past and Passing Events. A Poem in Three Cantos. Being Hits at Time on the Wing. By an Inhabitant of the Comet of 1861. Philadelphia. T.B. Peterson & Brothers. 8vo. paper, pp. 112. 25 cts.
Agnes Stanhope. A Tale of English Life. By Miss Martha Remick. Boston, James M. Usher. 12mo. pp. 444. $1.00.
The Yellow Mask; or, The Ghost in the Ball-Room. By Wilkie Collins. Philadelphia. T. B. Peterson & Brothers. 8vo. paper, pp. 65. 25 cts.
Aden Power; or, The Cost of a Scheme. A Novel. By Farleigh Owen. Boston. T.O.H.P. Burnham. 8vo. paper, pp. 155. 50 cts.
Cursory Thoughts on some Natural Phenomena. Bearing chiefly on the Primary Cause of the Succession of New Species, and on the Unity of Force. New York. C. Scribner. 8vo. paper, pp. 32. 25 cts.
The Trail-Hunter. A Tale of the Far West. By Gustave Aimard. Philadelphia. T.B. Peterson & Brothers. 8vo. paper, pp. 175. 50 cts.
2: Report on the Sanitary Condition of the British Army, p. 498.
4: Medical Statistics of the United States Army, 1839-54, p.625.
5: _Report on the Sanitary Condition of the British Army.
7: _Traite de Geographie et de Statistique Medicales, Tom. II. p. 289.
8: Ibid. p. 286.
9: Traite de Geographie et de Statistique Medicales, Tom. II. p. 284.
10: Report on the Sanitary Condition of the British Army.
11: Medical Statistics U.S. Army, 1839-54, p. 491, etc.
12: Observations on the Diseases of the Army, p. 51.
13: Ib., p. 53.
14: Observations on the Diseases of the Army, p. 59.
15: London Statistical Journal, Vol. XIX. p. 247.
16: Edmonds in London Lancet, Vol. XXXVI. p. 143.
18: Edmonds in London Lancet, Vol. XXXVI. p. 145.
19: Edmonds in London Lancet, Vol. XXXVI. p. 148.
20: Ib., p. 219.
21: Boudin, Traite de Geographie et de Statistique Medicales, Tom. II.
22: Report on the Sanitary Condition of the British Army, p. 524.
23: Medical Sketches, p. 39.
24: Ib., p. 204.
25: Ib., p. 66.
26: Medical Sketches, p. 119.
27: Ib., p. 199.
28: On Epidemics, p. 70.
29: United States Documents, 1814.
30: Ib., 1814.
31: Executive Documents, U.S., 1847-48, Vol. VII. p. 1013.
32: Ib., p. 1033.
33: Ib., p. 1185.
34: MS. Letter of Mr. Elliott, Actuary of the Sanitary Commission.
35: Report on the Sanitary Condition of the British Army, p. 180.
36: Ib., 525.
38: Report on the Sanitary Condition of the British Army, p. 377.
39: Medical Sketches, p. 246.
40: Medical Sketches, p. 66.
42: Report on the Sanitary Condition of the British Army, p. 180.
43: Medical and Surgical History of the British Army in the East, Vol.
44: British and Foreign Medical and Surgical Journal, Vol. XXI.
45: _MS. Letter of Mr. Elliott.
46: _Medico-Chirurgical Transactions, Vol. VI. p.478, etc.
48: Calculated from the Eighteenth Registration Report.
49: Calculated from Twenty-First Report of Registrar General.
51: Diseases of the Army, p. 50.
53: Boudin, Traite de Geographie et de Statistique Medicales, Tom. II.
54: Report on the Sanitary Condition of the British Army, p. 178.
56: Report of the Sanitary Condition of the British Army, p 97.
57: Ib., p. 334.
58: Ib., p. 365.
59: Ib., p. 524.
60: Dr. Mann, Medical Sketches, p. 64.
61: Dr. Lovell, quoted by Mann, Medical Sketches, p. 119.
62: Mann, Medical Sketches, pp. 120, 121.
63: Ib., p. 78.
64: Ib., p. 92.
65: Ib., p. 124.
66: Ib., p. 204.
67: Executive Documents, U.S., 1848, Vol. VII. p. 1224.
68: Mann, Medical Sketches, p. 66.
69: Ib., p. 39.
70: p. 23.
71: Report of the Sanitary Commission, No. 41.
72: Report of the Sanitary Commission, No. 41.
73: Report of Barrack Commission, p. 160.
74: Report on the Sanitary Condition of the British Army, p. 439.
75: Dr. Farr, in Journal of the London Statistical Society, Vol. XXIV.
77: _MS. Letter of Dr. Sutherland.
78: Section Dr. Farr, _ubi supra.
79: Army Medical Regulations, p. 27, etc.
80: Report of the Army Medical Department for 1859.
81: Army Medical Regulations, p. 29.
82: Army Medical Regulations, p. 83.
83: Ib., p. 84.
84: Army Medical Regulations, p. 93.
85: Report of the Army Medical Department for 1859, p. 6.
86: Report of the Army Medical Department for 1859, p. 10.
NUMBER 60, OCTOBER 1862***
******* This file should be named 10077.txt or 10077.zip *******
This and all associated files of various formats will be found in: http://www.gutenberg.net/1/0/0/7/10077
Updated editions will replace the previous one--the old editions will be renamed.
PLEASE READ THIS BEFORE YOU DISTRIBUTE OR USE THIS WORK
To protect the Project Gutenberg-tm mission of promoting the free distribution of electronic works, by using or distributing this work (or any other work associated in any way with the phrase "Project Gutenberg"), you agree to comply with all the terms of the Full Project Gutenberg-tm License (available with this file or online at http://gutenberg.net/license).
1.A. By reading or using any part of this Project Gutenberg-tm electronic work, you indicate that you have read, understand, agree to and accept all the terms of this license and intellectual property (trademark/copyright) agreement. If you do not agree to abide by all the terms of this agreement, you must cease using and return or destroy all copies of Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works in your possession. If you paid a fee for obtaining a copy of or access to a Project Gutenberg-tm electronic work and you do not agree to be bound by the terms of this agreement, you may obtain a refund from the person or entity to whom you paid the fee as set forth in paragraph 1.E.8.
1.B. "Project Gutenberg" is a registered trademark. It may only be used on or associated in any way with an electronic work by people who agree to be bound by the terms of this agreement. There are a few things that you can do with most Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works even without complying with the full terms of this agreement. See paragraph 1.C below. There are a lot of things you can do with Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works if you follow the terms of this agreement and help preserve free future access to Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works. See paragraph 1.E below.
1.C. The Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation ("the Foundation" or PGLAF), owns a compilation copyright in the collection of Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works. Nearly all the individual works in the collection are in the public domain in the United States. If an individual work is in the public domain in the United States and you are located in the United States, we do not claim a right to prevent you from copying, distributing, performing, displaying or creating derivative works based on the work as long as all references to Project Gutenberg are removed. Of course, we hope that you will support the Project Gutenberg-tm mission of promoting free access to electronic works by freely sharing Project Gutenberg-tm works in compliance with the terms of this agreement for keeping the Project Gutenberg-tm name associated with the work. You can easily comply with the terms of this agreement by keeping this work in the same format with its attached full Project Gutenberg-tm License when you share it without charge with others.
1.D. The copyright laws of the place where you are located also govern what you can do with this work. Copyright laws in most countries are in a constant state of change. If you are outside the United States, check the laws of your country in addition to the terms of this agreement before downloading, copying, displaying, performing, distributing or creating derivative works based on this work or any other Project Gutenberg-tm work. The Foundation makes no representations concerning the copyright status of any work in any country outside the United States.
1.E. Unless you have removed all references to Project Gutenberg:
This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.net
License terms from this work, or any files containing a part of this work or any other work associated with Project Gutenberg-tm.
1.F.1. Project Gutenberg volunteers and employees expend considerable effort to identify, do copyright research on, transcribe and proofread public domain works in creating the Project Gutenberg-tm collection. Despite these efforts, Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works, and the medium on which they may be stored, may contain "Defects," such as, but not limited to, incomplete, inaccurate or corrupt data, transcription errors, a copyright or other intellectual property infringement, a defective or damaged disk or other medium, a computer virus, or computer codes that damage or cannot be read by your equipment.
1.F.2. LIMITED WARRANTY, DISCLAIMER OF DAMAGES - Except for the "Right of Replacement or Refund" described in paragraph 1.F.3, the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation, the owner of the Project Gutenberg-tm trademark, and any other party distributing a Project Gutenberg-tm electronic work under this agreement, disclaim all liability to you for damages, costs and expenses, including legal fees. YOU AGREE THAT YOU HAVE NO REMEDIES FOR NEGLIGENCE, STRICT LIABILITY, BREACH OF WARRANTY OR BREACH OF CONTRACT EXCEPT THOSE PROVIDED IN PARAGRAPH F3. YOU AGREE THAT THE FOUNDATION, THE TRADEMARK OWNER, AND ANY DISTRIBUTOR UNDER THIS AGREEMENT WILL NOT BE LIABLE TO YOU FOR ACTUAL, DIRECT, INDIRECT, CONSEQUENTIAL, PUNITIVE OR INCIDENTAL DAMAGES EVEN IF YOU GIVE NOTICE OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGE.
1.F.3. LIMITED RIGHT OF REPLACEMENT OR REFUND - If you discover a defect in this electronic work within 90 days of receiving it, you can receive a refund of the money (if any) you paid for it by sending a written explanation to the person you received the work from. If you received the work on a physical medium, you must return the medium with your written explanation. The person or entity that provided you with the defective work may elect to provide a replacement copy in lieu of a refund. If you received the work electronically, the person or entity providing it to you may choose to give you a second opportunity to receive the work electronically in lieu of a refund. If the second copy is also defective, you may demand a refund in writing without further opportunities to fix the problem.
1.F.4. Except for the limited right of replacement or refund set forth in paragraph 1.F.3, this work is provided to you 'AS-IS," WITH NO OTHER WARRANTIES OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTIBILITY OR FITNESS FOR ANY PURPOSE.
1.F.5. Some states do not allow disclaimers of certain implied warranties or the exclusion or limitation of certain types of damages. If any disclaimer or limitation set forth in this agreement violates the law of the state applicable to this agreement, the agreement shall be interpreted to make the maximum disclaimer or limitation permitted by the applicable state law. The invalidity or unenforceability of any provision of this agreement shall not void the remaining provisions.
Section 2. Information about the Mission of Project Gutenberg-tm
Project Gutenberg-tm is synonymous with the free distribution of electronic works in formats readable by the widest variety of computers including obsolete, old, middle-aged and new computers. It exists because of the efforts of hundreds of volunteers and donations from people in all walks of life.
Volunteers and financial support to provide volunteers with the assistance they need, is critical to reaching Project Gutenberg-tm's goals and ensuring that the Project Gutenberg-tm collection will remain freely available for generations to come. In 2001, the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation was created to provide a secure and permanent future for Project Gutenberg-tm and future generations. To learn more about the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation and how your efforts and donations can help, see Sections 3 and 4 and the Foundation web page at http://www.pglaf.org.
Section 3. Information about the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation
The Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation is a non profit 501(c)(3) educational corporation organized under the laws of the state of Mississippi and granted tax exempt status by the Internal Revenue Service. The Foundation's EIN or federal tax identification number is 64-6221541. Its 501(c)(3) letter is posted at http://pglaf.org/fundraising. Contributions to the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation are tax deductible to the full extent permitted by U.S. federal laws and your state's laws.
The Foundation's principal office is located at 4557 Melan Dr. S. Fairbanks, AK, 99712., but its volunteers and employees are scattered throughout numerous locations. Its business office is located at 809 North 1500 West, Salt Lake City, UT 84116, (801) 596-1887, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Email contact links and up to date contact information can be found at the Foundation's web site and official page at http://pglaf.org
For additional contact information:
Dr. Gregory B. Newby
Chief Executive and Director
Section 4. Information about Donations to the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation
Project Gutenberg-tm depends upon and cannot survive without wide spread public support and donations to carry out its mission of increasing the number of public domain and licensed works that can be freely distributed in machine readable form accessible by the widest array of equipment including outdated equipment. Many small donations ($1 to $5,000) are particularly important to maintaining tax exempt status with the IRS.
The Foundation is committed to complying with the laws regulating charities and charitable donations in all 50 states of the United States. Compliance requirements are not uniform and it takes a considerable effort, much paperwork and many fees to meet and keep up with these requirements. We do not solicit donations in locations where we have not received written confirmation of compliance. To SEND DONATIONS or determine the status of compliance for any particular state visit http://pglaf.org
While we cannot and do not solicit contributions from states where we have not met the solicitation requirements, we know of no prohibition against accepting unsolicited donations from donors in such states who approach us with offers to donate.
International donations are gratefully accepted, but we cannot make any statements concerning tax treatment of donations received from outside the United States. U.S. laws alone swamp our small staff.
Please check the Project Gutenberg Web pages for current donation methods and addresses. Donations are accepted in a number of other ways including including checks, online payments and credit card donations. To donate, please visit: http://pglaf.org/donate
Section 5. General Information About Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works.
Professor Michael S. Hart is the originator of the Project Gutenberg-tm concept of a library of electronic works that could be freely shared with anyone. For thirty years, he produced and distributed Project Gutenberg-tm eBooks with only a loose network of volunteer support.
Project Gutenberg-tm eBooks are often created from several printed editions, all of which are confirmed as Public Domain in the U.S. unless a copyright notice is included. Thus, we do not necessarily keep eBooks in compliance with any particular paper edition.
Each eBook is in a subdirectory of the same number as the eBook's eBook number, often in several formats including plain vanilla ASCII, compressed (zipped), HTML and others.
Corrected EDITIONS of our eBooks replace the old file and take over the old filename and etext number. The replaced older file is renamed. VERSIONS based on separate sources are treated as new eBooks receiving new filenames and etext numbers.
Most people start at our Web site which has the main PG search facility:
This Web site includes information about Project Gutenberg-tm, including how to make donations to the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation, how to help produce our new eBooks, and how to subscribe to our email newsletter to hear about new eBooks.
EBooks posted prior to November 2003, with eBook numbers BELOW #10000, are filed in directories based on their release date. If you want to download any of these eBooks directly, rather than using the regular search system you may utilize the following addresses and just download by the etext year.
(Or /etext 05, 04, 03, 02, 01, 00, 99, 98, 97, 96, 95, 94, 93, 92, 92, 91 or 90)
EBooks posted since November 2003, with etext numbers OVER #10000, are filed in a different way. The year of a release date is no longer part of the directory path. The path is based on the etext number (which is identical to the filename). The path to the file is made up of single digits corresponding to all but the last digit in the filename. For example an eBook of filename 10234 would be found at:
or filename 24689 would be found at:
An alternative method of locating eBooks: http://www.gutenberg.net/GUTINDEX.ALL