The Project Gutenberg eBook, The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 2, Number 9, July, 1858, 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 2, Number 9, July, 1858
Chatacter set encoding: ISO-8859-1
NUMBER 9, JULY, 1858***
E-text prepared by Anne Soulard, Cornell University, Joshua Hutchinson, and the Project Gutenberg Online Distributed Proofreading Team
Supponato capiti lapidem, Curistoque quiescam. PAULINUS OF NOLL
Et factus est in pace locus ejus et halitatio in Sion. Ps. LXXV. 2
Rome is preëminently the city of monuments and inscriptions, and the lapidary style is the one most familiar to her. The Republic, the Empire, the Papacy, the Heathens, and the Christians have written their record upon marble. But gravestones are proverbially dull reading, and inscriptions are often as cold as the stone upon which they are engraved.
The long gallery of the Vatican, through which one passes to enter the famous library, and which leads to the collection of statues, is lined on one side with heathen inscriptions, of miscellaneous character, on the other with Christian inscriptions, derived chiefly from the catacombs, but arranged with little order. The comparison thus exhibited to the eye is an impressive one. The contrast of one class with the other is visible even in external characteristics. The old Roman lines are cut with precision and evenness; the letters are well formed, the words are rightly spelt, the construction of the sentences is grammatical. But the Christian inscriptions bear for the most part the marks of ignorance, poverty, and want of skill. Their lines are uneven, the letters of various sizes, the words ill-spelt, the syntax often incorrect. Not seldom a mixture of Greek and Latin in the same sentence betrays the corrupt speech of the lower classes, and the Latin itself is that of the common people. But defects of style and faults of engraving are insufficient to hide the feeling that underlies them.
Besides this great collection of the Vatican, there is another collection now being formed in the loggia of the Lateran Palace, in immediate connection with the Christian Museum. Arranged as the inscriptions will here be in historic sequence and with careful classification, it will be chiefly to this collection that the student of Christian antiquity will hereafter resort. It in in the charge of the Cavaliere de Rossi, who is engaged in editing the Christian inscriptions of the first six centuries, and whose extraordinary learning and marvellous sagacity in deciphering and determining the slightest remains of ancient stone-cutting give him unexampled fitness for the work. Of these inscriptions, about eleven thousand are now known, and of late some forty or fifty have been added each year to the number previously recorded. But a very small proportion of the eleven thousand remain in situ in the catacombs, and besides the great collections of the Vatican and the Lateran, there are many smaller ones in Rome and in other Italian cities, and many inscriptions originally found in the subterranean cemeteries are now scattered in the porticos or on the pavements of churches in Rome, Ravenna, Milan, and elsewhere. From the first period of the desecration of the catacombs, the engraved tablets that had closed the graves were almost as much an object of the greed of pious or superstitious marauders as the more immediate relics of the saints. Hence came their dispersion through Italy, and hence, too, it has happened that many very important and interesting inscriptions belonging to Rome are now found scattered through the Continent.
It has been, indeed, sometimes the custom of the Roman Church to enhance the value of a gift of relics by adding to it the gift of the inscription on the grave from which they were taken. A curious instance of this kind, connected with the making of a very popular saint, occurred not many years since. In the year 1802 a grave was found in the Cemetery of St. Priscilla, by which were the remains of a glass vase that had held blood, the indication of the burial-place of a martyr. The grave was closed by three tiles, on which were the following words painted in red letters: LVMENA PAXTE CVMFL. There were also rudely painted on the tiles two anchors, three darts, a torch, and a palm-branch. The bones found within the grave, together with the tiles bearing the inscription, were placed in the Treasury of Relics at the Lateran.
On the return of Pius VII., one of the deputation of Neapolitan clergy sent to congratulate him sought and received from the Pope these relics and the tiles as a gift for his church. The inscription had been read by placing the first tile after the two others, thus,--PAX TECUM FILUMENA, Peace be with thee, Filumena; and Filumena was adopted as a new saint in the long list of those to whom the Roman Church has given this title. It was supposed, that, in the haste of closing the grave, the tiles had been thus misplaced.
Very soon after the gift, a priest, who desired not to be named on account of his great humility, had a vision at noonday, in which the beautiful virgin with the beautiful name appeared to him and revealed to him that she had suffered death rather than yield her chastity to the will of the Emperor, who desired to make her his wife. Thereupon a young artist, whose name is also suppressed, likewise had a vision of St. Filomena, who told him that the emperor was Diocletian; but as history stands somewhat opposed to this statement, it has been suggested that the artist mistook the name, and that the Saint said Maximian. However this may be, the day of her martyrdom was fixed on the 10th of August, 303. Her relics were carried to Naples with great reverence; they were inclosed, after the Neapolitan fashion, in a wooden doll of the size of life, dressed in a white satin skirt and a red tunic, with a garland of flowers on its head, and a lily and a dart in its hand. This doll, with the red- lettered tiles, was soon transferred to its place in the church of Mugnano, a small town not far from Naples. Many miracles were wrought on the way, and many have since been wrought in the church itself. The fame of the virgin spread through Italy, and chapels were dedicated to her honor in many distant churches; from Italy it reached Germany and France, and it has even crossed the Atlantic to America. Thus a new saint, a new story, and a new exhibition of credulity had their rise not long ago from a grave and three words in the catacombs.
One of the first differences which are obvious, in comparing the Christian with the heathen mortuary inscriptions, is the introduction in the former of some new words, expressive of the new ideas that prevailed among them. Thus, in place of the old formula which had been in most common use upon gravestones, D.M., or, in Greek, [Greek: TH.K.], standing for Dis Manibus, or [Greek: Theois karachthoniois], a dedication of the stone to the gods of death, we find constantly the words In pace. The exact meaning of these words varies on different inscriptions, but their general significance is simple and clear. When standing alone, they seem to mean that the dead rests in the peace of God; sometimes they are preceded by Requiescat, "May he rest in peace"; sometimes there is the affirmation, Dormit in pace, "He sleeps in peace"; sometimes a person is said recessisse in pace, "to have departed in peace." Still other forms are found, as, for instance, Vivas in pace, "Live in peace," or Suscipiatur in pace, "May he be received into peace,"--all being only variations of the expression of the Psalmist's trust, "I will lay me down in peace and sleep, for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety." It is a curious fact, however, that on some of the Christian tablets the same letters which were used by the heathens have been found. One inscription exists beginning with the words Dis Manibus, and ending with the words in pace. But there is no need of finding a difficulty in this fact, or of seeking far for an explanation of it. As we have before remarked, in speaking of works of Art, the presence of some heathen imagery and ideas in the multitude of the paintings and inscriptions in the catacombs is not so strange as the comparatively entire absence of them. Many professing Christians must have had during the early ages but an imperfect conception of the truth, and can have separated themselves only partially from their previous opinions, and from the conceptions that prevailed around them in the world. To some the letters of the heathen gravestones, and the words which they stood for, probably appeared little more than a form expressive of the fact of death, and, with the imperfect understanding natural to uneducated minds, they used them with little thought of their absolute significance.
[Footnote 1: It is probable that most of the gravestones upon which this heathen formula is found are not of an earlier date than the middle of the fourth century. At this time Christianity became the formal religion of many who were still heathen in character and thought, and cared little about the expression of a faith which they had adopted more from the influence of external motives than from principle or conviction.]
Another difference in words which is very noticeable, running through the inscriptions, is that of depositus, used by the Christians to signify the laying away in the grave, in place of the heathen words situs, positus, sepultus, conditus. The very name of coemeterium, adopted by the Christians for their burial-places, a name unknown to the ancient Romans, bore a reference to the great doctrine of the Resurrection. Their burial-ground was a cemetery, that is, a sleeping-place; they regarded the dead as put there to await the awakening; the body was depositus, that is, intrusted to the grave, while the heathen was situs or sepultus, interred or buried,--the words implying a final and definitive position. And as the Christian dormit or quiescit, sleeps or rests in death, so the heathen is described as abreptus, or defunctus, snatched away or departed from life.
Again, the contrast between the inscriptions is marked, and in a sadder way, by the difference of the expressions of mourning and grief. No one who has read many of the ancient gravestones but remembers the bitter words that are often found on them,--words of indignation against the gods, of weariness of life, of despair and unconsoled melancholy. Here is one out of many:--
DEVM QVI ME INNOCENTEM SVS
TVLIT QVAE VIXI ANNOS XX.
I, Procope, who lived twenty years, lift up my hands against God, who took me away innocent. Proclus set up this.
But among the Christian inscriptions of the first centuries there is not one of this sort. Most of them contain no reference to grief; they are the very short and simple words of love, remembrance, and faith,--as in the following from the Lateran:--
ETQVIESCE HIC IN PACE IVBENTE XPO EJUS
To Adeodata, a worthy and deserving Virgin, and rests here in peace, her Christ commanding.
On a few the word dolens is found, simply telling of grief. On one to the memory of a sweetest daughter the word irreparable is used, Filiae dulcissimae inreparabili. Another is, "To Dalmatius, sweetest son, whom his unhappy father was not permitted to enjoy for even seven years." Another inscription, in which something of the feeling that was unchecked among the heathens finds expression in Christian words, is this: "Sweet soul. To the incomparable child, who lived seventeen years, and undeserving [of death] gave up life in the peace of the Lord." Neither the name of the child nor of the parents is on the stone, and the word immeritus, which is used here, and which is common in heathen use, is found, we believe, on only one other Christian grave. One inscription, which has been interpreted as being an expression of unresigned sorrow, is open to a very different signification. It is this:--
JOVIANO QVI VIXIT ANN· VII
ET MENSES VI NON MERENTES
THEOCTISTVS ET THALLVSA PARENTES
To their sweetest boy Jovian, of the most innocent age, who lived seven years and six months, his undeserving [or unlamenting] parents Theoctistus and Thallusa.
Here, without forcing the meaning, non merentes might be supposed to refer to the parents' not esteeming themselves worthy to be left in possession of such a treasure; but the probability is that merentes is only a misspelling of maerentes for otherwise immerentes would have been the natural word.
But it is thus that the Christian inscriptions must be sifted, to find expressions at variance with their usual tenor, their general composure and trust. The simplicity and brevity of the greater number of them are, indeed, striking evidence of the condition of feeling among those who set them upon the graves. Their recollections of the dead feared no fading, and Christ, whose coming was so near at hand, would know and reunite his own. Continually we read only a name with in pace, without date, age, or title, but often with some symbol of love or faith hastily carved or painted on the stone or tiles. Such inscriptions as the following are common:--
--SEVERA IN DEO VIVAS,--
or, with a little more fulness of expression,--
BENEMERENTI QVI VIXIT
ANNOS II MENSE VNV
DIES XX IN PACE
To the sweetest son Endelechius, the well- deserving, who lived two years, one month, twenty days. In peace.
The word benemerenti is of constant recurrence. It is used both of the young and the old; and it seems to have been employed, with comprehensive meaning, as an expression of affectionate and grateful remembrance.
Here is another short and beautiful epitaph. The two words with which it begins are often found.
BENEDICTA QVE VIXIT ANN: XXX
DORMIT IN PACE
Sweet Soul. The Blessed Virgin Aufenia, who lived thirty years. She sleeps in peace.
But the force and tenderness of such epitaphs as these is hardly to be recognized in single examples. There is a cumulative pathos in them, as one reads, one after another, such as these that follow:--
To Angelica well in peace.
To Currentius, the servant of God, laid in the grave on the sixteenth of the Kalends of November.
Maximin, who lived twenty-three years, the friend of all.
IN PACE QUE BICSIT MECV
ANNOS XVII. DORMIT IN PACE
Septimus to Marciana in peace. Who lived with me seventeen years. She sleeps in peace.
SPIRITVS ANNORVM II
Gaudentia rests. Sweet spirit of two years and three months.
Here is a gravestone with the single word VIATOR; here one that tells only that Mary placed it for her daughter; here one that tells of the light of the house,--[Greek: To phos thaes Oikias].
Nor is it only in these domestic and intimate inscriptions that the habitual temper and feeling of the Christians is shown, but even still more in those that were placed over the graves of such members of the household of faith as had made public profession of their belief, and shared in the sufferings of their Lord. There is no parade of words on the gravestones of the martyrs. Their death needed no other record than the little jar of blood placed in the mortar, and the fewest words were enough where this was present. Here is an inscription in the rudest letters from a martyr's grave:--
To the well-deserving Sabatias, who lived forty years.
And here another:--
To Prosperus, innocent soul, in peace.
And here a third, to a child who had died as one of the Innocents:--
QVI VIXIT ANNO VNO, MENS. VIII D. XXVIII DORMIT IN PACE
Aemilian, sweet soul of marvellous innocence, who lived one year, eight months, twenty-eight days. He sleeps in peace.
At this grave was found the vase of blood, and on the gravestone was the figure of a dove.
Another inscription, which preserves the name of one of those who suffered in the most severe persecution to which the ancient Church was exposed, and which, if genuine, is, so far as known, the only monument of the kind, is marked by the same simplicity of style:--
RTIR HC*[Hic?] REQVIESC
IT SVR [E-P-S] DIOCLITI ANO PASSVS
Lannus Martyr of Christ here rests. He suffered under Diocletian.
The three letters EPS have been interpreted as standing for the words et posteris suis, and as meaning that the grave was also for his successors. Not yet, then, had future saints begun to sanctify their graves, and to claim the exclusive possession of them.
But there is another point of contrast between the inscriptions of the un- Christianized and the Christian Romans, which illustrates forcibly the difference in the regard which they paid to the dead. To the one the dead were still of this world, and the greatness of life, the distinctions of class, the titles of honor still clung to them; to the other the past life was as nothing to that which had now begun. The heathen epitaphs are loaded with titles of honor, and with the names of the offices which the dead had borne, and, like the modern Christian (?) epitaphs whose style has been borrowed from them, the vanity of this world holds its place above the grave. But among the early Christian inscriptions of Rome nothing of this kind is known. Scarcely a title of rank or a name of office is to be found among them. A military title, or the name of priest or deacon, or of some other officer in the Church, now and then is met with; but even these, for the most part, would seem to belong to the fourth century, and never contain any expression of boastfulness or flattery.
CENTVRIO CHOR. X VRB.
QVI VIXIT AH XXVII
Flavius Olius Paternus, Centurion of the Tenth Urban Cohort, who lived twenty-seven years. In peace.
It is true, no doubt, that among the first Christians there were very few of the rich and great. The words of St. Paul to the Corinthians were as true of the Romans as of those to whom they were specially addressed: "For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called." Still there is evidence enough that even in the first two centuries some of the mighty and some of the noble at Rome were among those called, but that evidence is not to be gathered from the gravestones of the catacombs. We have seen, in a former article, that even the grave of one of the early bishops,--the highest officer of the Church,--and one who had borne witness to the truth in his death, was marked by the words,
The Martyr Cornelius, Bishop.
Compare this with the epitaphs of the later popes, as they are found on their monuments in St. Peter's,--"flattering, false insculptions on a tomb, and in men's hearts reproach,"--epitaphs overweighted with superlatives, ridiculous, were it not for their impiety, and full of the lies and vanities of man in the very house of God.
With this absence of boastfulness and of titles of rank on the early Christian graves two other characteristics of the inscriptions are closely connected, which bear even yet more intimate and expressive relation to the change wrought by Christianity in the very centre of the heathen world.
"One cannot study a dozen monuments of pagan Rome," says Mr. Northcote, in his little volume on the catacombs, "without reading something of servus or libertus, libertis libertabusque posterisque eorum; and I believe the proportion in which they are found is about three out of every four. Yet, in a number of Christian inscriptions exceeding eleven thousand, and all belonging to the first six centuries of our era, scarcely six have been found containing any allusion whatever--and even two or three of these are doubtful--to this fundamental division of ancient Roman society.
"No one, we think, will be rash enough to maintain, either that this omission is the result of mere accident, or that no individual slave or freedman was ever buried in the catacombs. Rather, these two cognate facts, the absence from ancient Christian epitaphs of all titles of rank and honor on the one hand, or of disgrace and servitude on the other, can only be adequately explained by an appeal to the religion of those who made them. The children of the primitive Church did not record upon their monuments titles of earthly dignity, because they knew that with the God whom they served 'there was no respect of persons'; neither did they care to mention the fact of their bondage, or of their deliverance from bondage, to some earthly master, because they thought only of that higher and more perfect liberty wherewith Christ had set them free; remembering that 'he that was called, being a bondman, was yet the freeman of the Lord, and likewise he that was called, being free, was still the bondman of Christ.'
"And this conclusion is still further confirmed by another remarkable fact which should be mentioned, namely, that there are not wanting in the catacombs numerous examples of another class of persons, sometimes ranked among slaves, but the mention of whose servitude, such as it was, served rather to record an act of Christian charity than any social degradation; I allude to the alumni, or foundlings, as they may be called. The laws of pagan Rome assigned these victims of their parents' crimes or poverty to be the absolute property of any one who would take charge of them. As nothing, however, but compassion could move a man to do this, children thus acquired were not called servi, as though they were slaves who had been bought with money, nor vernae, as though they had been the children of slaves born in the house, but alumni, a name simply implying that they had been brought up (ab alendo) by their owners. Now it is a very singular fact, that there are actually more instances of alumni among the sepulchral inscriptions of Christians than among the infinitely more numerous inscriptions of pagans, showing clearly that this was an act of charity to which the early Christians were much addicted; and the alumni, when their foster-parents died, very properly and naturally recorded upon their tombs this act of charity, to which they were themselves so deeply indebted."
So far Mr. Northcote. It is still further to be noted, as an expression of the Christian temper, as displayed in this kind of charity, that it never appears in the inscriptions as furnishing a claim for praise, or as being regarded as a peculiar merit. There is no departure from the usual simplicity of the gravestones in those of this class.
TOS EN THEO]
Peter, sweetest foster-child, in God.
And a dove is engraved at either side of this short epitaph.
Eutropius made this for the dear foster-child Vitalian.
FELLICISSIMVS ALVMNVS VALERIE CRESTENI MATRI BIDVE ANORVM XVIII INTET SANCTOS
Antonius Discolius her son, and Bibius Felicissimus her foster-child, to Valeria Crestina
their mother, a widow for eighteen years. [Her grave is] among the holy.
[Footnote 2: This inscription is not of earlier date than the fourth century, as is shown by the words, Inter sancios,--referring, as we heretofore stated, to the grave being made near that of some person esteemed a saint.]
These inscriptions lead us by a natural transition to such as contain some reference to the habits of life or to the domestic occupations and feelings of the early Christians. Unfortunately for the gratification of the desire to learn of these things, this class of inscriptions is far from numerous,--and the common conciseness is rarely, in the first centuries, amplified by details. But here is one that tells a little story in itself:--
INNOCENTISSINAE ET DVLCISSIMAE COIVGI
QVAE VIXIT ANN XVI M. IIII ET FVIT
IMARITATA ANN. DVOBVS M. IIII D. VIIII
CVM QVA SON LICVIT FVISSE PROPTER
NISI MENEIE VI
QVO TEMPORE VT EGO SENSI ET EXHBVI
NVLLI SV ALII SIC DILEXERVNT
DEPOSIT XV KAL. IVN.
To Domnina, my most innocent and sweetest wife; who lived sixteen years and four months, and was married two years, four months, and nine days; with whom, on account of my journeys, I was permitted to be
only six months; in which time, as I felt, so I showed my love. No others have so loved one another. Placed in the grave the 15th of the Kalends of June.
Who was this husband whose far-off journeys had so separated him from his lately married wife? Who were they who so loved as no others had loved? The tombstone gives only the name of Domnina. But in naming her, and in the expression of her husband's love, it gives evidence, which is confirmed by many other tokens in the catacombs, of the change introduced by Christianity in the position of women, and in the regard paid to them. Marriage was invested with a sanctity which redeemed it from sensuality, and Christianity became the means of uniting man and woman in the bonds of an immortal love.
Here is an inscription which, spite of the rudeness of its style, preserves the pleasant memory of a Roman child:--
FLORENTIO QVI VIXIT ANIS XIII
QVAM SI FILIVM SVVM ET COTDEVS
MATER FILIO BENEMERETI FECERVNT.
To the good and holy spirit Florentius, who lived thirteen years, Coritus, his master, who loved him more than if he were his own son, and Cotdeus, his mother, have made this for her well-deserving son.
[Footnote 3: Compare an inscription from a heathen tomb:--
ANN. II. M. V.
QVID MIHI TAM SVBITO MAXIMVS ERIPITVR
QVI MODO JVCVNDVS GREMIO SVPERESSE SOLEBAT HIC LAPIS TN TVMVLO NVNC JACET ECCE MATER
- Julius Maximus, Two years, five months old.
Harsh Fortune, that in cruel death finds't joy, Why is my Maximus thus sudden reft,
So late the pleasant burden of my breast? Now in the grave this stone lies: lo, his mother!]
And Coritus, his master, and Cotdeus, his mother, might have rejoiced in knowing that their poor, rough tablet would keep the memory of her boy alive for so many centuries; and that long after they had gone to the grave, the good spirit of Florentius should still, through these few words, remain to work good upon the earth.--Note in this inscription (as in many others) the Italianizing of the old Latin,--the ispirito, and the santo; note also the mother's strange name, reminding one of Puritan appellations,--Cotdeus being the abbreviation of Quod vult Deus, "What God wills."
[Footnote 4: Other names of this kind were Deogratias, Habetdeum, and Adeodatus.]
Here is an inscription set up by a husband to his wife, Dignitas, who was a woman of great goodness and entire purity of life:--
ANNOS XV FILIOS AVTEM PROCREAVIT VII
EX QVIBVS SECV ABET AD DOMINVM IIII
Who, without ever wounding my soul, lived with me for fifteen years, and bore seven children, four of whom she has with her in the Lord.
We have already referred to the inscriptions which bear the name of some officer of the early Church; but there is still another class, which exhibits in clear letters others of the designations and customs familiar to the first Christians. Thus, those who had not yet been baptized and received into the fold, but were being instructed in Christian doctrine for that end, were called catechumens; those who were recently baptized were called neophytes; and baptism itself appears sometimes to have been designated by the word illuminatio. Of the use of these names the inscriptions give not infrequent examples. It was the custom also among the Christians to afford support to the poor and to the widows of their body. Thus we read such inscriptions as the following:--
VENERIGINE MATRI VIDVAE QVE SE
DIT VIDVA ANNOS LX ET ECLESA
VIXIT ANNOS LXXX MESIS V
Her daughter Reneregina made this for her well-deserving mother Regina, a widow, who sat a widow sixty years, and never burdened the church, the wife of one husband, who lived eighty years, five months, twenty-six days.
The words of this inscription recall to mind those of St. Paul, in his First Epistle to Timothy, (v. 3-16,) and especially the verse, "If any man or woman that believeth have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the church be charged."
Some of the inscriptions preserve a record of the occupation or trade of the dead, sometimes in words, more often by the representation of the implements of labor. Here, for instance, is one which seems like the advertisement of a surviving partner:--
POLLECLA QVE ORDEV BENDET DE
From New Street. Pollecla, who sold barley on New Street.
Others often bear a figure which refers to the name of the deceased, an armoirie parlante as it were, which might be read by those too ignorant to read the letters on the stone. Thus, a lion is scratched on the grave of a man named Leo; a little pig on the grave of the little child Porcella, who had lived not quite four years; on the tomb of Dracontius is a dragon; and by the side of the following charming inscription is found the figure of a ship:--
QVI BIXIT ANOS XVI M V
APARENTES SIGNVM NABE
Navira in peace. Sweet soul, who lived sixteen years, five months. Soul honey-sweet.
This inscription made by her parents. The sign a ship.
The figures that are most frequent upon the sepulchral slabs are, however, not such as bear relation to a name or profession, but the commonly adopted symbols of the faith, similar in design and character to those exhibited in the paintings of the catacombs. The Good Shepherd is thus often rudely represented; the figure of Jonah is naturally, from its reference to the Resurrection, also frequently found; and the figure of a man or woman with arms outstretched, in the attitude of prayer, occurs on many of the sepulchral slabs. The anchor, the palm, the crown, and the dove, as being simpler in character and more easily represented, are still more frequently found. The varying use of symbols at different periods has been one of the means which have assisted in determining approximate dates for the inscriptions upon which they are met with. It is a matter of importance, in many instances, to fix a date to an inscription. Historical and theological controversies hang on such trifles. Most of the early gravestones bear no date; and it was not till the fourth century, that, with many other changes, the custom of carving a date upon them became general. The century to which an inscription belongs may generally be determined with some confidence, either by the style of expression and the nature of the language, or by the engraved character, or some other external indications. Among these latter are the symbols. It has, for instance, been recently satisfactorily proved by the Cavaliere de Rossi that the use of the emblem of the fish in the catacombs extended only to the fourth century, so that the monuments upon which it is found may, with scarcely an exception, be referred to the preceding period. As this emblem went out of use, owing perhaps to the fact that the Christians were no longer forced to seek concealment for their name and profession, the famous monogram of Christ, [Symbol] the hieroglyphic, not only of his name, but of his cross, succeeded to it, and came, indeed, into far more general use than that which the fish had ever attained. The monogram is hardly to be found before the time of Constantine, and, as it is very frequently met with in the inscriptions from the catacombs, it affords an easy means, in the absence of a more specific date, for determining a period earlier than which any special inscription bearing it cannot have originated. Its use spread rapidly during the fourth century. It "became," says Gibbon, with one of his amusing sneers, "extremely fashionable in the Christian world." The story of the vision of Constantine was connected with it, and the Labarum displayed its form in the front of the imperial army. It was thus not merely the emblem of Christ, but that also of the conversion of the Emperor and of the fatal victory of the Church.
It is a remarkable fact, and one which none of the recent Romanist authorities attempt to controvert, that the undoubted earlier inscriptions afford no evidence of any of the peculiar doctrines of the Roman Church. There is no reference to the doctrine of the Trinity to be found among them; nothing is to be derived from them in support of the worship of the Virgin; her name even is not met with on any monument of the first three centuries; and none of the inscriptions of this period give any sign of the prevalence of the worship of saints. There is no support of the claim of the Roman Church to supremacy, and no reference to the claim of the Popes to be the Vicars of Christ. As the third century advances to its close, we find the simple and crude beginning of that change in Christian faith which developed afterward into the broad idea of the intercessory power of the saints. Among the earlier inscriptions prayers to God or to Christ are sometimes met with, generally in short exclamatory expressions concerning the dead. Thus we find at first such words as these:--
Amerimnus to his dearest wife Rufina well- deserving. May God refresh thy spirit!
And, in still further development,--
[Greek: AUR. AIANOS PAPHLAGON THEOU
EKOIMNON EN EIPNIN MINSON
O THEOS EIS TOUS AIONAS]
Aurelius Aelianus, a Paphlagonian, faithful servant of God. He sleeps in peace. Remember him, O God, forever!
Again, two sons ask for their mother,--
O Lord, let not the spirit of Venus be shadowed at any time!
From such petitions as these we come by a natural transition to such as are addressed to the dead themselves, as being members of the same communion with the living, and uniting in prayers with those they had left on earth and for their sake.
Mayst thou live in peace and ask for us!
Or, as in another instance,--
QVE VIXIT AN. I. DI. LII.
Pray for thy parents, Matronata Matrona! Who lived one year, fifty-two days.
And as we have seen how in the fourth century the desire arose of being buried near the graves of those reputed holy, so by a similar process we find this simple and affectionate petition to the dead passing into a prayer for the dead to those under whose protection it was hoped that they might be. In the multitude of epitaphs, however, these form but a small number. Here is one that begins with a heathen formula:--
AVRELIVS GEMELLVS QVI BIXIT AN--
ET MESES VIII DIES XVIII MATER FILIO
CARISSIMO BENAEMERENTI FECIT IN PA--
- ONMANDO BASSILA INNOCENTIA GEMELLI
In Eternal Sleep. Aurelius Gemellus, who lived --- years, and eight months, eighteen days. His mother made this for her dearest well-deserving son in peace. I commend to Basilla the innocence of Gemellus.
Basilla was one of the famous martyrs of the time of Valerian and Gallienus.
Here again is another inscription of a curious character, as interposing a saint between the dead and his Saviour. The monogram marks its date.
LIS BIBET IN NOMINE PETRI
Ruta, subject and affable to all, shall live in the name of Peter, in the peace of Christ.
But it would seem from other inscriptions as if the new practice of calling upon the saints were not adopted without protest. Thus we read, in contrast to the last epitaph, this simple one:--
O Zosimus, mayst thou live in the name of Christ!
And again, in the strongest and most direct words:--
May God alone protect thy spirit, Alexander!
One more inscription and we have done; it well closes the long list:--
Whoever shall read this, may he live in Christ!
As the fourth century advanced, the character of the inscriptions underwent great change. They become less simple; they exhibit less faith, and more worldliness; superlatives abound in them; and the want of feeling displays itself in the abundance of words.
We end here our examinations of the testimony of the catacombs regarding the doctrine, the faith, and the lives of the Christians of Rome in the first three centuries. The evidence is harmonious and complete. It leaves no room for skepticism or doubt. There are no contradictions in it. From every point of view, theologic, historic, artistic, the results coincide and afford mutual support. The construction of the catacombs, the works of painting found within them, the inscriptions on the graves, all unite in bearing witness to the simplicity of the faith, the purity of the doctrine, the strength of the feeling, the change in the lives of the vast mass of the members of the early church of Christ. A light had come into the world, and the dark passages of the underground cemeteries were illuminated by it, and manifest its brightness. Wherever it reached, the world was humanized and purified. To the merely outward eye it might at first have seemed faint and dim, but "the kingdom of God cometh not with observation."
Such a spring day as it was!--the sky all one mild blue, hazy on the hills, warm with sunshine overhead; a soft south-wind, expressive, and full of new impulses, blowing up from the sea, and spreading the news of life all over our brown pastures and leaf-strewn woods. The crocuses in Friend Allis's garden-bed shot up cups of gold and sapphire from the dark mould; slight long buds nestled under the yellow-green leafage of the violet-patch; white and sturdy points bristled on the corner that in May was thick with lilies-of-the-valley, crisp, cool, and fragrant; and in a knotty old apricot-tree two bluebirds and a robin did heralds' duty, singing of summer's procession to come; and we made ready to receive it both in our hearts and garments.
Josephine Boyle, Letty Allis, and I, Sarah Anderson, three cousins as we were, sat at the long window of Friend Allis's parlor, pretending to sew, really talking. Mr. Stepel, a German artist, had just left us; and a little trait of Miss Josephine's, that had occurred during his call, brought out this observation from Cousin Letty:--
"Jo, how could thee let down thy hair so before that man?"
Jo laughed. "Thee is a little innocent, Letty, with your pretty dialect! Why did I let my hair down? For Mr. Stepel to see it, of course."
"That is very evident," interposed I; "but Letty is not so innocent or so wise as to have done wondering at your caprices, Jo; expound, if you please, for her edification."
"I do not pretend to be wise or simple, Sarah; but I didn't think Cousin Josephine had so much vanity."
"You certainly shall have a preacher-bonnet, Letty. How do you know it was vanity, my dear? I saw you show Mr. Stepel your embroidery with the serenest satisfaction; now you made your crewel cherries, and I didn't make my hair; which was vain?"
Letty was astounded. "Thee has a gift of speech, certainly, Jo."
"I have a gift of honesty, you mean. My hair is very handsome, and I knew Mr. Stepel would admire it with real pleasure, for it is a rare color. I took down those curls with quite as simple an intention as you brought him that little picture of Cole's to see."
Josephine was right,--partly, at least. Her hair was perfect; its tint the exact hue of a new chestnut-skin, with golden lights, and shadows of deep brown; not a tinge of red libelled it as auburn; and the light broke on its glittering waves as it does on the sea, tipping the undulations with sunshine, and scattering rays of gold through the long, loose curls, and across the curve of the massive coil, that seemed almost too heavy for her proud and delicate head to bear. Mr. Stepel was excusably enthusiastic about its beauty, and Jo as cool as if it had been a wig. Sometimes I thought this peculiar hair was an expression of her own peculiar character.
Letty said truly that Jo had a gift of speech; and she, having said her say about the hair, dismissed the matter, with no uneasy recurring to it, and took up a book from the table, declaring she was tired of her seam;-- she always was tired of sewing! Presently she laughed.
"What is it, Jo?" said I.
"Why, it is 'Jane Eyre,' with Letty Allis's name on the blank leaf. That is what I call an anachronism, spiritually. What do you think about the book, Letty?" said she, turning her lithe figure round in the great chair toward the little Quakeress, whose pretty red head and apple-blossom of a face bloomed out of her gray attire and prim collar with a certain fascinating contrast.
"I think it has a very good moral tendency, Cousin Jo."
The clear, hazel eyes flashed a most amused comment at me.
"Well, what do you call the moral, Letty?"
"Why,--I should think,--I do not quite know that the moral is stated, Josephine,--but I think thee will allow it was a great triumph of principle for Jane Eyre to leave Mr. Rochester when she discovered that he was married."
Jo flung herself back impatiently in the chair, and began an harangue.
"That is a true world's judgment! And you, you innocent little Quaker girl! think it is the height of virtue not to elope with a married man, who has entirely and deliberately deceived you, and adds to the wrong of deceit the insult of proposing an elopement! Triumph of principle! I should call it the result of common decency, rather,--a thing that the instinct of any woman would compel her to do. My only wonder is how Jane Eyre could continue to love him."
"My dear young friend," said I, rather grimly, "when a woman loves a man, it is apt, I regret to say, to become a fact, not a theory; and facts are stubborn things, you know. It is not easy to set aside a real affection."
"I know that, ma'am," retorted Jo, in a slightly sarcastic tone; "it is a painful truth; still, I do think a deliberate deceit practised on me by any man would decapitate any love I had for him, quite inevitably."
"So it might, in your case," replied I; "for you never will love a man, only your idea of one. You will go on enjoying your mighty theories and dreams till suddenly the juice of that 'little western flower' drips on your eyelids, and then I shall have the pleasure of seeing you caress 'the fair large ears' of some donkey, and hang rapturously upon its bray, till you perhaps discover that he has pretended, on your account solely, to like roses, when he has a natural proclivity to thistles; and then, pitiable child! you will discover what you have been caressing, and--I spare you conclusions; only, for my part, I pity the animal! Now Jane Eyre was a highly practical person; she knew the man she loved was only a man, and rather a bad specimen at that; she was properly indignant at this further development of his nature, but reflecting in cool blood, afterward, that it was only his nature, and finding it proper and legal to marry him, she did so, to the great satisfaction of herself and the public. You would have made a new ideal of St. John Rivers, who was infinitely the best material of the two, and possibly gone on to your dying day in the belief that his cold and hard soul was only the adamant of the seraph, encouraged in that belief by his real and high principle,-- a thing that went for sounding brass with that worldly-wise little philosopher, Jane, because it did not act more practically on his inborn traits."
"Bah!" said Josephine, "when did you turn gypsy, Sally? You ought to sell dukkeripen, and make your fortune. Why don't you unfold Letty's fate?"
"No," said I, laughing. "Don't you know that the afflatus always exhausts the priestess? You may tell Letty's fortune, or mine, if you will; but my power is gone."
"I can tell yours easily, O Sibyl!" replied she. "You will never marry, neither for real nor ideal. You should have fallen in love in the orthodox way, when you were seventeen. You are adaptive enough to have moulded yourself into any nature that you loved, and constant enough to have clung to it through good and evil. You would have been a model wife, and a blessed mother. But now--you are too old, my dear; you have seen too much; you have not hardened yourself, but you have learned to see too keenly into other people. You don't respect men, 'except exceptions'; and you have seen so much matrimony that is harsh and unlovable, that you dread it; and yet--Don't look at me that way, Sarah! I shall cry!--My
dear! my darling! I did not mean to hurt you.--I am a perfect fool!--Do
please look at me with your old sweet eyes again!--How could I!"----
"Look at Letty," said I, succeeding at last in a laugh. And really Letty was comical to look at; she was regarding Josephine and me with her eyes wide open like two blue larkspur flowers, her little red lips apart, and her whole pretty surface face quite full of astonishment.
"Wasn't that a nice little tableau, Letty?" said Josephine, with preternatural coolness. "You looked so sleepy, I thought I'd wake you up with a bit of a scene from 'Lara Aboukir, the Pirate Chief'; you know we have a great deal of private theatricals at Baltimore; you should see me in that play as Flashmoria, the Bandit's Bride."
Letty rubbed her left eye a little, as if to see whether she was sleepy or not, and looked grave; for me, the laugh came easily enough now. Jo saw she had not quite succeeded, so she turned the current another way.
"Shall I tell your fortune now, Letty? Are you quite waked up?" said she.
"No, thee needn't, Cousin Jo; thee don't tell very good ones, I think."
"No, Letty, she shall not vex your head with nonsense. I think your fate is patent; you will grow on a little longer like a pink china-aster, safe in the garden, and in due time marry some good Friend,--Thomas Dugdale, very possibly,--and live a tranquil life here in Slepington till you arrive at a preacher-bonnet, and speak in meeting, as dear Aunt Allis did before you."
Letty turned pale with rage. I did not think her blonde temperament held such passion.
"I won't! I won't! I never will!" she cried out. "I hate Thomas Dugdale, Sarah! Thee ought to know better about me! thee knows I cannot endure him, the old thing!"
This climax was too much for Jo. With raised brows and a round mouth, she had been on the point of whistling ever since Letty began; it was an old, naughty trick of hers; but now she laughed outright.
"No sort of inspiration left, Sally! I must patch up Letty's fate myself. Flatter not yourself that she is going to be a good girl and marry in meeting; not she! If there's a wild, scatter-brained, handsome, dissipated, godless youth in all Slepington, it is on him that testy little heart will fix,--and think him not only a hero, but a prodigy of genius. Friend Allis will break her heart over Letty; but I'd bet you a pack of gloves, that in three years you'll see that juvenile Quakeress in a scarlet satin hat and feather, with a blue shawl, and green dress, on the arm of a fast young man with black hair, and a cigar in his mouth."
"Why! where did thee ever see him, Josey?" exclaimed Letty, now rosy with quick blushes.
The question was irresistible. Jo and I burst into a peal of laughter that woke Friend Allis from her nap, and, bringing her into the parlor, forced us to recover our gravity; and presently Jo and I took leave.
Letty was an orphan, and lived with her cousin, Friend Allis. I, too, was alone; but I kept a tiny house in Slepington, part of which I rented, and Jo was visiting me.
As we walked home, along the quiet street overhung with willows and sycamores, I said to her, "Jo, how came you to know Letty's secret?"
"My dear, I did not know it any more than you; but I drew the inference of her tastes from her character. She is excitable,--even passionate; but her formal training has allowed no scope for either trait, and suppression has but concentrated them. She really pines for some excitement;--what, then, could be more natural than that her fancy should light upon some person utterly diverse from what she is used to see? That is simple enough. I hit upon the black hair on the same principle, 'like in difference.' The cigar seemed wonderful to the half-frightened, all-amazed child; but who ever sees a fast young man without a cigar?"
"I am afraid it is Henry Malden," said I, meditatively; "he is all you describe, but he is also radically bad; besides, having been in the Mexican war, he will have the prestige of a hero to Letty. How can the poor girl be undeceived before it is quite too late?"
"What do you want to undeceive her for, Sally? Do you suppose that will prevent her marrying Mr. Malden?"
"I should think so, most certainly!"
"Not in the least. If you want Letty to marry him, just judiciously oppose it. Go to her, and say you come as a friend to tell her Mr. Malden's faults, and the result will be, she will hate you, and be deeper in love with him than ever."
"You don't give her credit for common sense, Jo."
"Just as much as any girl of her age has in love. Did you ever know a woman who gave up a man she loved because she was warned against him?--or even if she knew his character well, herself? I don't know but there are women who could do it, from sheer religious principle. I believe you might, Sarah. It would be a hard struggle, and wear you to a shadow in mind and body; but you have a conscience, and, for a woman with a heart as soft as pudding, the most thoroughly rigid streak of duty in you; none of which Letty has to depend on. No; if you want to save her, take her away from Slepington; take her to Saratoga, to Newport, to Washington; turn her small head with gayety: she is pretty enough to have a dozen lovers at any watering-place; it is only propinquity that favors Mr. Malden here."
"I can't do that, Josephine. I have not the means, and Miss Allis would not have the will, even if she believed in your prescription."
"Then Letty must stay here and bide her time. You believe in a special Providence, Sarah, don't you?"
"Yes, of course I do."
"Then cannot you leave her to that care? Circumstances do not work for you. Perhaps it is best that she should marry him, suffer, live, love, and be refined by fire."
My heart sunk at the prospect of these possibilities. Josephine put her arm round me. "Sally," said she, in her softest tone, "I grieved you, dear, this afternoon. I did not mean to. I grieved myself most. Please forgive me!"
"I haven't anything to forgive, Jo," said I. "What you said to me was true, painfully true,--and, being so, for a moment pained me. I should have been much happier to be married, I know; but now I daren't think of it. I have lost a great deal. I have
"--'lost my place,
My sweet, safe corner by the household fire, Behind the heads of children';
"and yet I do not know that I have not gained a little. It is something, Jo, to know that I am not in the power of a bad, or even an ill-tempered man. I can sit by my fire and know that no one will come home to fret at me,--that I shall encounter no cold looks, no sneers, no bursts of anger, no snarl of stinginess, no contempt of my opinion and advice. I know that now men treat me with respect and attention, such as their wives rarely, if ever, receive from them. Sensitive and fastidious as I am, I do not know whether my gain is not, to me, greater than my loss. I know it ought not to be so,--that it argues a vicious, an unchristian, almost an uncivilized state of society; but that does not affect the facts."
"You frighten me, Sarah. I cannot believe this is always true of men and their wives."
"Neither is it. Some men are good and kind and gentle, gentle-men, even in their families; and every woman believes the man she is to marry is that exception. Jo,--bend your ear down closer,--I thought once I knew such a man,--and,--dear,--I loved him."
"My darling!--but, Sarah, why"--
"Because, as you said, Josey, I was too old; I had seen too much; I would not give way to an impulse. I bent my soul to know him; I rang the metal on more than one stone, and every time it rang false. I knew, if I married him, I should live and die a wretched woman. Was it not better to live alone?"
"But, Sarah,--if he loved you?"
"He did not,--not enough to hurt himself; he could not love anything so much better than his ease as to suffer, Josey: he was safe. He thought, or said, he loved me; but he was mistaken."
"Safe, indeed! He ought to have been shot!"
There was a long pause. It was as when you lift a wreck from the tranquil sea and let it fall again to the depths, useless to wave or shore; the black and ghastly hulk is covered; it is seen no more; but the water palpitates with circling rings, trembles above the grave, dashes quick and apprehensive billows upon the sand, and is long in regaining its quiet surface.
"I wonder if there ever was a perfect man," said Jo, at length, drawing a deep sigh.
"You an American girl, Jo, and don't think at once of Washington?"
"My dear, I am bored to death with Washington à l'Américain. A man!-- how dare you call him a man?--don't you know he is a myth, an abstraction, a plaster-of-Paris cast? Did you ever hear any human trait of his noticed? Weren't you brought up to regard him as a species of special seraph, a sublime and stainless figure, inseparable from a grand manner and a scroll? Did you ever dare suppose he ate, or drank, or kissed his wife? You started then at the idea: I saw you!"
"You are absurd, Jo. It is true that he is exactly, among us, what demigods were to the Greeks,--only less human than they. But when I once get my neck out of the school-yoke, I do not start at such suggestions as yours; I believe he did comport himself as a man of like passions with others, and was as far from being a hero to his valet-de-chambre as anybody."
By this time we were at home, and Jo flung her parasol on the bench in the porch, and sat down beside it with a gesture of weariness and disgust mingled.
"Why will you, of all people, Sarah, quote that tinkling, superficial trash of a proverb, so palpably French, when the true reason why a man is not a hero to his lackey is only because he is seen with a lackey's eyes, --the sight of a low, convention-ridden, narrow, uneducated mind, unable to take a broad enough view to see that a man is a hero because he is a man, because he overleaps the level of his life, and is greater than his race, being one of them? If he were of the heroic race, what virtue in being heroic? it is the assertion of his trivial life that makes his speciality evident,--the shadow that throws out the bas-relief. We chatter endlessly about the immense good of Washington's example: I believe its good would be more than doubled, could we be made, nationally, to see him as a human being, living on 'human nature's daily food,' having mortal and natural wants, tastes, and infirmities, but building with and over all, by the help of God and a good will, the noble and lofty edifice of a patriot manhood, a pure life of duty and devotion, sublime for its very strength and simpleness, heroic because manly and human."
The day had waned, and the sunset lit Josephine's excited eyes with fire: she was not beautiful, but now, if ever, beauty visited her with a transient caress. She looked up and met my eyes fixed on her.
"What is it, Sally?--what do I look like?"
"Very pretty, just now, Jo; your eyes are bright and your cheek flushed: the sunshine suits you. I admire you tonight."
"I am glad," said she, naively. "I often wish to be pretty."
"A waste wish, Jo!--and yet I have entertained it myself."
"It's not so much matter for you, Sarah; for people love you. And besides, you have a certain kind of beauty: your eyes are beautiful,--rather too sad, perhaps, but fine in shape and tint; and you have a good head, and a delicately outlined face. Moreover, you are picturesque: people look at you, and then look again,--and, any way, love you, don't they?"
"People are very good to me, Jo."
"Oh, yes! we all know that people as a mass are kindly, considerate, and unselfish; that they are given to loving and admiring disagreeable and ugly people; in short, that the millennium has come. Sally, my dear, you are a small hypocrite,--or else--But I think we won't establish a mutual- admiration society to-night, as there are only two of us; besides, I am hungry: let us have tea."
The next day, Josephine left me. As we walked together toward the landing of the steamer, Letty Allis emerged from a green lane to say good-bye, and down its vista I discerned the handsome, lazy person of Henry Malden, but I did not inform Letty of my discovery.
A year passed away,--to me with the old monotonous routine; full of work, not wanting in solace; barren, indeed, of household enjoyments and vicissitudes; solitary, sometimes desolate, yet peaceful even in monotony. But this new spring had not come with such serene neglect to the other two of us three. Against advice, remonstrance, and entreaty from her good friends, Letty Allis had married Henry Malden, and, in attire more tasteful, but quite as far from Quakerism as Josephine had predicted, beamed upon the inhabitants of Slepington from the bow-window, or open door, of a cottage very ornée indeed; while the odor of a tolerable cigar served as Mr. Malden's exponent, wherever he abode. And to Josephine had come a loss no annual resurrection should repair: her mother was dead; she, too, was orphaned,--for she had never known her father; her only sister was married far away; and I kept an old promise in going to her for a year's stay at least.
Aunt Boyle's property had consisted chiefly in large cotton mills owned by herself and her twin brother,--who, dying before her, left her all his own share in them. These mills were on a noisy little river in the western part of Massachusetts,--in a valley, narrow, but picturesque, and so far above the level of the sea that the air was keen and pure as among mountains. Mrs. Boyle had removed here from Baltimore, a few years before her own death, that she might be with her brother through his long and fatal illness; and, finding her health improved by change of air, had occupied his house ever since, until one of those typhoid fevers that infest such river-gorges at certain seasons of the year entered the village about the mills, when, in visiting the sick, she took the epidemic herself and died. Josephine still retained the house endeared to her by sad and glad recollections; and it was there I found her, when, after renting the whole of my little tenement at Slepington, I betook myself to Valley Mills at her request.
The cottage where she lived was capacious enough for her wants, and though plain, even to an air of superciliousness, without, was most luxurious within,--made to use and live in; for Mr. Brown, her uncle, was an Englishman, and had never arrived at that height of Transatlantic ton which consists in shrouding and darkening all the pleasant rooms in the house, and skulking through life in the basement and attic. Sunshine, cushions, and flowers were Mr. Brown's personal tastes; and plenty of these characterized the cottage. A green terrace between hill and river spread out before the door for lawn and garden, and a tiny conservatory abutted upon the brink of the terrace slope, from a bay-window in the library, that opened sidewise into this winter-garden.
I found Jo more changed than I had expected: this last year of country life had given strength and elasticity to the tall and slender figure; a steady rose of health burned on either cheek; and sorrow had subdued and calmed her quick spirits.
I was at home directly, and a sweeter summer never glowed and blushed over earth than that which installed me in the Nook Cottage. Out of doors the whole country was beautiful, and attainable; within, I had continual resources in my usual work and in Jo's society: for she was one of those persons who never are uninteresting, never fatiguing; a certain salient charm pervaded her conversation, and a simplicity quite original startled you continually in her manner and ways. I liked to watch her about the house; dainty and fastidious in the extreme about some things, utterly careless about others, you never knew where or when either trait would show itself next. She was scrupulous as to the serving of meals, for instance,--almost to a fault; no carelessness, no slight neglect, was admitted here, and always on the spotless damask laid with quaint china stood a tapered vase of white Venice glass, with one, or two, or three blossoms, sometimes a cluster of leaves, the spray of a wild vine, or the tasselled branch of a larch-tree jewelled with rose-red cones, arranged therein with an artist's taste and skill: but perhaps, while she sharply rebuked the maid for a dim spot on her chocolate-pitcher or a grain of sugar spilt on the salver, her white India shawl lay trailed over the divan half upon the floor, and her gloves fluttered on the doorstep till the wind carried them off to find her parasol hanging in the honeysuckle boughs.
But, happily, it is not one's duty to make other people uncomfortable by perpetually tinkering at that trait in them which most offends our own nature; and I thought it more for my good and hers to learn patience myself than undertake to beat her into order; the result of which was peace and good-will that vindicated my wisdom to myself; and I found her, faults and all, sufficiently fascinating and lovable.
A year passed away serenely; and when spring came again, Josephine refused to let me leave her. Our life was quiet enough, but, with such beautiful Nature, and plenty to do, we were not lonely,--less so because Jo's hands were as open as her heart, and to her all the sick and poor looked, not only for help, but for the rarer consolations of living sympathy and counsel. Her shrewd common sense, her practical capacity, her kindly, cheerful face, her power of appreciating a position of want and perplexity and seeing the best way out of it, and, above all, her deep and fervent religious feeling, made her an invaluable friend to just that class who most needed her.
In the course of this spring we gained an addition to our society, in the person of Mr. Waring, the son of the gentleman who had bought the mills at Mrs. Boyle's death, but who had hitherto conducted them by an overseer. He had recently bought a little island in the middle of the river, just below the dam, and proposed erecting a new mill upon it; but as the Tunxis (the Indian name of our river) was liable to rapid and destructive freshets, the mill required a deep and secure foundation and a lower story of stone.
This implied some skilful engineering, and Mr. Arthur Waring, having studied this subject fully abroad, came on from Boston, and took up his abode in Valley Mills village. Of course, we being his only hope of society in the place, he made our acquaintance early. I rather liked him; his manner was good, his perceptions acute, his tastes refined, and he had a certain strength of will that gave force to a character otherwise common-place. Josephine liked him at once; she laid his shyness and brusquerie, which were only the expression of a dominant self- consciousness, to genuine modesty. He was depressed and moody, because he was bored for want of acquaintance, and missed the adulation and caresses that he received at home as an only child; but Jo's swift imagination painted this as the trait of a reflective and melancholy nature disgusted with the world, and pitied him accordingly; a mild way of misanthropic speech, that is apt to infest young men, added to this delusion; and, with all the energy of her sweet, earnest disposition, Josephine undertook his education,--undertook to teach him faith and hope and charity, to set right his wayward soul, to renovate his bitter opinions, to make him a better and a happier man.
It is a well-known fact in the philosophy of the human mind, that it is apt to gain more by imparting than by receiving; and since philosophy, where it becomes fact, does not mercifully adjust its results to circumstance, but rushes on in implacable grooves, and clears its own track of whatever lies thereon by the summary process of crushing it to dust, it did not pause now for the pure intentions and tender heart which, in teaching another love to men, taught herself love to a man, and learnt far better than her pupil.
Mr. Waring was but a man; he did not love Josephine,--he admired her; he loved nothing but himself, his quiet, his pleasure; and while she ministered to either, he regarded her with a species of affection that put on the mask of a diviner passion and used its language. A thousand little things showed the man fully to me, a cool spectator; but she who needed most the discerning eye regarded this gay bubble as if it had been a jewel.
Perhaps I blame him too severely, for it was against the very heart of my heart that he sinned; possibly I do not allow for the temptation it was to a young man, quite alone in a country village, without resources, and accustomed to the flattery and caresses of a devoted mother, to find himself agreeable in the eyes of a noble and lovable woman. Possibly, in his place, a better man might have sought her society, drawn her out of her reserve for his own delectation, confided in her, worked upon her pity, claimed her care, played on her simplicity and ignorance of the world, crept into her heart and won its strength of emotion and its generous affection,--in short, made love to her, without saying so, honestly and openly. Yet there are some men who would not have done it; and even yet, while I try to regard Arthur Waring with Christian charity, I feel that I cannot trust him, that I do not respect him,--that, if I dared despise anything God has made, my first contempt would light on him.
In the autumn, while all this was going on, I received a painful and wretched letter from Letty Malden, begging me to come to her. I could not resist such an appeal; and one of Josephine's little nieces having come to spend the winter with her, I hurried to Slepington,--not, I am sure, in the least regretted by Mr. Waring, who had begun to look at me with uneasy and sometimes defiant eyes.
I found a miserable household here. Mr. Malden had in no way reformed. When did marriage ever reform a bad man? On the contrary, he was more dissipated than ever; and whenever he came home, the welcome that waited for him was one little calculated to make home pleasant; for Letty's quick temper blazed up in reproach and reviling that drew out worse recrimination; and even the little, wailing, feeble baby, that filled Letty's arms and consoled her in his absence, was only further cause of strife between her and her husband. Often, as I came down the street and saw the pretty outside of the cottage, waving with creepers, and hedged about with thorns, whose gay berries decked it as if for a festival, I thought of what a good old preacher among the Friends once said to me: "Sarah, thee will live to find shows are often seems; thee sees many a quiet house, with gay windows, that is hell inside."
I soon found that I must stay all winter at Slepington. I had a hard task before me,--to try and teach Letty that she had no right to neglect her own duties because her husband ignored his. But six months of continual dropping seemed to wear a tiny channel of perception; and my presence, as well as the efforts we made together to preserve order, if not serenity, in the house, restored a certain dim hope to Letty's mind, and I began to see that the "purification by fire" was doing its work, in slow pain, but to a sure end.
Selfish as it was, I cannot say that I felt sorry to return to Jo, who wrote for me in April, urging me to come as soon as I could, for Mr. Waring had fallen from the mill-wall and broken his leg, and the workmen, in their confusion, had carried him to her house, and she wanted me to help her. I learned, on reaching Valley Mills, that the new building on the island had not been completed far enough to resist a heavy freshet, that had swept away part of the first story, where the mortar was not yet hardened; and it was in traversing these wet stones to ascertain the extent of the damage that Mr. Waring had slipped, and, unable to recover his footing, fallen on a heap of stones and received his injury.
My first question to Josephine was, "Where is Mr. Waring's mother?"
"He would not send for her, Sally," said she, "because she is not well, and he feared to startle her."
"H'm!" said I, very curtly.
Josephine looked at me with innocent, grave eyes,--dear, simple child!-- and yet, for anybody but herself she would have been sufficiently discerning. This love seemed to have remodelled her nature, to have taken from her all the serpent's wisdom, to have destroyed her common sense, and distorted her view of everything in which Arthur Waring was concerned. She had certainly got on very fast in my absence. I had returned too late.
I had little to do with the care of the invalid; that devolved on Jo; my offers of service were kindly received, but always declined. Nobody could read to him so well as Miss Boyle. Nobody else understood his moods, his humors, his whims; she knew his tastes with ominous exactness. It was she who arranged his meals on the salver with such care and grace, nay, even cooked them at times; for Jo believed, like a rational woman, that intellect and cultivation increase one's capacity for every office,--that a woman of intelligence should be able to excel an ignorant servant in every household duty, by just so much as she excels her in mind. In fact, this was a pleasant life to two persons, but harassing enough for me. Had I been confident of Arthur Waring's integrity, I should have regarded him with friendly and cordial interest; but I had every reason to distrust him. I perceived he had so far insinuated himself into Jo's confidence, that his whole artillery of expressive looks, broken sentences, even caresses, were received by her with entire good faith; but when I asked her seriously if I was to regard Mr. Waring as her lover, she burst into indignant denial, colored scarlet, and was half inclined to be angry with me,--though a certain tremulous key, into which her usually sweet and steady voice broke while she declared he had never spoken to her of love, it was only friendship, witnessed against her that she was apprehensive, sad, perhaps visited with a tinge of that causeless shame which even in a pure and good woman conventionality constrains, when she has loved a man before he says in plain English, "I love you," though every act and look and tone of his may have carried that significance unmistakably for years. Thank God, there is a day of sure judgment coming, when conventions and shields of usage will save no man from the due vengeance of truth upon falsehood, justice upon smooth and plausible duplicity!
In due time Mr. Waring recovered. If there was any change in his manner to Jo, it was too slight to be seen, though it was felt, and was, after all, the carelessness of a person certain of his foothold in her good graces, rather than the evident withdrawal of attention,--which I could have pardoned even then, had it been the result of honest regret for past carelessness, and stern resolution to repair that past. Whatever it was, Jo perceived that her ideal man was become a real man; but, with a tenacity of nature, for which in my fate-telling I had not given her credit, she was as constant to the substance as she had been to the dream; and while she lost both health and spirits in the contemplation of Arthur Waring's fitful and heedless manner toward her, and was evidently pained by the discovery of his selfish and politic traits,--to call them by no harsher name,--it was inexpressibly touching to hear the excuses she made for him, to see the all-shielding love with which she veiled his faults, and kept him as a mother would keep her graceless, yet dearest child from animadversion and reproach.
In the mean time I heard often from Letty,--no good news of her husband, but that her child grew more and more a comfort, that her friends were very kind, and always in a tiny postscript some such phrase as this: "I try to be patient, Sarah," or "I don't scold Harry so much as I did, dear." I hoped for Letty, for she persevered.
That summer we saw less than ever of Mr. Waring; he was very busy at the mill in order that it might be far enough advanced to resist the inevitable spring freshets; and besides, we were absent from the Valley some weeks, endeavoring to recruit Jo's failing health at the sea-side. But this was a vain endeavor; that which sapped the springs of her life was past outward cure. She inherited her father's delicate and unreliable constitution, and a nervous organization, whose worst disease is ever the preying of doubt, anxiety, or regret. As winter drew on, she grew no better; a dim, dreamy abstraction brooded over her. She said to me often, with a vague alarm, "Sally, how far off you seem! Do come nearer!" She ceased to talk when we were alone, her step grew languid, her eye deeper, --and its bright expression, when you roused her, was longer in shooting back into the clouded sphere than ever before. She sat for hours by the window, her lovely head resting on its casement, looking out, always out and away, beyond the hills, into the deep spaces of blue air, past cloud and vapor, to the stars. Sudden noises startled her to an extreme degree; a quick step flushed her cheek with fire and fluttered her breath. How I longed for spring! I hoped all from the delicate ministrations of Nature; though the physician we called gave me no hope of her final recovery. Mr. Waring himself seemed struck with her aspect, and many little signs of friendly interest came from him. As often as he could, he returned to his old haunts; and while the pleasure of his presence and the excitement of his undisguised anxiety wrought on her, Jo became almost her old self for the moment, gay, cheerful, blooming,--alas! with the bloom of feverishness and vain hope.
So spring drew near. The mill was nearly finished. One day in March a warm south-wind "quieted the earth" after a long rain, the river began to stir, its mail of ice to crack and heave under the sun's rays. I persuaded Jo to take a little drive, and once in the carriage the air reanimated her; she rested against me and talked more than I had known her for weeks.
"What a lovely day!" said she; "how balmy the air is! there is such an expression of rest without despair, such calm expectation! I always think of heaven such days, Sally!--they are like the long sob with which a child finishes weeping. Only to think of never more knowing tears!--that is life indeed!"
A keen pang pierced me at the vibration of her voice as she spoke. I thought to soothe her a little, and said, "Heaven can be no more than love, Jo, and we have a great deal of that on earth."
"Do we?" answered she, in a tone of grief just tipped with irony,--and then went on: "I believe you love me, Sally. I would trust you with--my heart, if need were. I think you love me better than any one on earth does."
"I love you enough, dear," said I; more words would have choked me in the utterance.
Soon we turned homeward.
"Tell John to drive down by the river," said Josephine,--"I want to see the new mill."
"But you cannot see it from the road, Jo; the hemlocks stand between."
"Never mind, Sally; I shall just walk through them; don't deny me! I want to see it all again; and perhaps the arbutus is in bloom."
"Not yet, Jo."
"I can get some buds, then; I want to have some just once."
We left the carriage, and on my arm Jo strolled through the little thicket of hemlock-trees, green and fragrant. She seemed unusually strong. I began to hope. After much searching, we found the budded flowers; she loved most of all wild blossoms; no scent breathed from the closed petals; they were not yet kissed by the odor-giving south-wind into life and expression; but Jo looked at them with sad, far-reaching eyes. I think she silently said good-bye to them.
Presently we came out on the steep bank of the river, directly opposite the mill. A heavy timber was thrown across from the shore to the island, on which the workmen from the west side had passed and repassed; it was firm enough for its purpose, but now, wet with the morning's rain, and high above the grinding ice, it seemed a hazardous bridge. As we stood looking over at the new mill, listening to the slight stir within it, apparently the setting to rights by some lingering workman of such odds and ends as remain after finishing the great whole of such a building, suddenly the cool wind, which had shifted to the north, brought on its waft a most portentous roar. We stood still to listen. Nearer and nearer it swelled, crashing and hissing as it approached. Josephine grasped my arm with convulsive energy, and at that instant we perceived Mr. Waring's plaid cap pass an open casement. She turned upon me like a wild creature driven to bay. I looked up-stream;--the ice had gathered in one high barrier mixed with flood-wood and timber, and, bearing above all the uprooted trunk of a huge sycamore, was coming down upon the dam like a battering-ram. Jo gasped. "The river is broken up and Arthur is on the island," said she, in a fearfully suppressed tone, and, swifter than I could think or guess her meaning, she had reached the timber, she was on it,--and with light, untrembling steps half across, when both she and I simultaneously caught sight of Mr. Waring running for dear life to the other and stronger bridge. Jo turned to come back; but the excitement was past that had sustained her; she trembled, she tottered. I ran to meet and aid her. Just then the roots of the great sycamore thundered against the dam; the already heavily pressed structure gave way; with the freed roar of a hurricane, the barrier, the dam, the foot-bridge swept down toward us. She had all but reached the end of the timber,--I stood there to grasp her hand,--when the old tree, whirled down by the torrent, struck the other end of the beam and threw Josephine forward to the bank, dashing her throbbing, panting breast, with all the force of her fall, against the hard ground. I lifted her in my arms. She was white with pain. Presently she opened her eyes and looked up, a flush of rapture glowed all over her face, and then the awful mist of death, gray and rigid, veiled it. Her head dropped on my shoulder; a sharp cry and a rush of scarlet blood passed her lips together; the head lay more heavily,--she was dead. But Arthur Waring never knew how or for what she died!
Five years have passed since that day. Still I live at Nook Cottage; but not alone. Of us three, Josephine is in heaven. Letty is still troubled upon earth; her husband tests her patience and her temper every hour, but both temper and patience are in good training; and if ever Henry Malden is reclaimed, as I begin to see reasons to hope he will be, he will owe it to the continual example and gentle goodness of his wife, who has grown from a petulant, thoughtless girl into a lovely, unselfish, religious woman, a devoted mother and wife, "refined by fire." For me, the last,--whenever now I say, as I used to say, "Three of us," I mean a new three,--Paul, baby, and me; for Jo was not a prophet. Four years ago, while my heart- ache for her was fresh and torturing, a new pastor came to the little village church of Valley Mills. Mr. Lyman was very good; I have seen other men with as fine natural traits, but I have never seen a man or woman so entirely good. He came to me to console me; for he, too, had just lost a sister, and in listening to his story I for a moment forgot my own, as he meant I should. But I did not love him,--no, not till I discovered, months afterward, that he suffered incessantly from ill-health, and was all alone in the world. I was too much a woman to resist such a plea. I pitied him; I tried to take care of him; and when he asked me if I liked the office of sick-nurse, I told him I liked it well enough to wish it were for life; and now, when he wants to light my eyes out of that dreamy expression that tells him I am re-living the past, and thinking of the dead, he tells me, for the sake of the flash that follows, that I offered myself to him! Perhaps I did. But he is well now; the air of the Tunxis hills, and the rest of a quiet life, partly, I hope, good care also, have restored to him his lost health. And I am what Jo said I should have been,--a blessed mother, as well as a happy wife. The baby that lies across my lap has traits that endear her to me doubly,--traits of each of us three cousins: Josephine's hair on her little nestling head, Letty's apple-blossom complexion, and my eyes, except that they are serene when they are not smiling. I ask only of the love that has given me all this unexpected joy, that my little Jo may have one better trait,--her father's heart; a stronger, tenderer, and purer heart than belonged to any one among "Three of us!"
All the broad East was laced with tender rings
Of widening light; the Daybreak shone afar;
Deep in the hollow, 'twixt her fiery wings,
Fluttered the morning star.
And fell upon the sunshine, penitent,
And burning up with shame.
The grass was wet with dew; the sheep-fields lay
Lapping together far as eye could see;
And the great harvest hung the golden way
Of Nature's charity.
My house was full of comfort; I was propped
With life's delights, all sweet as they could be,
When at my door a wretched woman stopped,
And, weeping, said to me,--
"Its rose-root in youth's seasonable hours
Love in thy bosom set, so blest wert thou;
Hence all the pretty little red-mouthed flowers
That climb and kiss thee now!
"I loved, but I must stifle Nature's cries
With old dry blood, else perish, I was told;
Hence the young light shrunk up within my eyes,
And left them blank and bold.
"I take my deeds, all, bad as they have been,--
The way was dark, the awful pitfall bare;--
In my weak hands, up through the fires of sin,
I hold them for my prayer."
"The thick, tough husk of evil grows about
Each soul that lives," I mused, "but doth it kill?
When the tree rots, the imprisoned wedge falls out,
Rusted, but iron still.
"Shall He who to the daisy has access,
Reaching it down its little lamp of dew
To light it up through earth, do any less,
Last and best work, for you?"
Not Dibdin's; not Barry Cornwall's; not Tom Campbell's; not any of the "Pirate's Serenades" and "I'm afloats!" which appear in the music-shop- windows, illustrated by lithographic vignettes of impossible ships in impracticable positions. These are sung by landsmen yachting in still waters and in sight of green fields, by romantic young ladies in comfortable and unmoving drawing-rooms to the tinkling of Chickering's pianos. What are the songs the sailor sings to the accompaniment of the thrilling shrouds, the booming double-bass of the hollow topsails, and the multitudinous chorus of Ocean? What does the coaster, in his brief walk "three steps and overboard," hum to himself, as he tramps up and down his little deck through the swathing mists of a Bank fog? What sings the cook at the galley-fire in doleful unison with the bubble of his coppers? Surely not songs that exult in the life of the sea. Certainly not, my amateur friend, anything that breathes of mastery over the elements. The sea is a real thing to him. He never is familiar with it, or thinks of it or speaks of it as his slave. It is "a steed that knows his rider," and, like many another steed which the men of the forecastle have mounted, knows that it can throw its rider at pleasure, and the riders know it too. Now and then a sailor will utter some fierce imprecation upon wind or sea, but it is in the impotence of despair, and not in the conscious, boastful mastery which the land-songs attribute to him. What, then, does the sailor sing?--and does he sing at all?
Certainly the sailor sings. Did you ever walk through Ann Street, Boston, or haunt the purlieus of the Fulton Market? and when there did you never espy a huckster's board covered with little slips of printed paper of the size and shape of the bills-of-fare at the Commonwealth Hotel? They are printed on much coarser paper, and are by no means as typographically exact as the aforesaid carte, or as this page of the "Atlantic Monthly," but they are what the sailor sings. I know they are there, for I once spent a long summer's day in the former place, searching those files for a copy of the delightful ballad sung (or attempted to be sung) by Dick Fletcher in Scott's "Pirate,"--the ballad beginning
"It was a ship, and a ship of fame,
Launched off the stocks, bound for the main."
I did not find my ballad, and to this day remain in ignorance of what fate befell the "hundred and fifty brisk young men" therein commemorated. But I found what the sailor does sing. It was a miscellaneous collection of sentimental songs, the worn-out rags of the stage and the parlor, or ditties of highwaymen, or ballad narratives of young women who ran away from a rich "parient" with "silvier and gold" to follow the sea. The truth of the story was generally established by the expedient of putting the damsel's name in the last verse,--delicately suppressing all but the initial and final letters. The only sea-songs that I remember were other ballads descriptive of piracies, of murders by cruel captains, and of mutinies, with a sprinkling of sea-fights dating from the last war with England.
The point of remark is, that all of these depend for their interest upon a human association. Not one of them professes any concern with the sea or ships for their own sake. The sea is a sad, solemn reality, the theatre upon which the seaman acts his life's tragedy. It has no more of enchantment to him than the "magic fairy palace" of the ballet has to a scene-shifter.
But other songs the sailor sings. The Mediterranean sailor is popularly supposed to chant snatches of opera over his fishing-nets; but, after all, his is only a larger sort of lake, with water of a questionable saltness. It can furnish dangerous enough storms upon occasion, and, far worse than storms, the terrible white-squall which lies ambushed under sunny skies, and leaps unawares upon the doomed vessel. But the Mediterranean is not the deep sea, nor has it produced the best and boldest navigators. Therefore, although we still seek the sources of our maritime law amid the rock-poised huts (once palaces) of Amalfi, we must go elsewhere for our true sea-songs.
The sailor does not lack for singing. He sings at certain parts of his work;--indeed, he must sing, if he would work. On vessels of war, the drum and fife or boatswain's whistle furnish the necessary movement-regulator. There, where the strength of one or two hundred men can be applied to one and the same effort, the labor is not intermittent, but continuous. The men form on either side of the rope to be hauled, and walk away with it like firemen marching with their engine. When the headmost pair bring up at the stern or bow, they part, and the two streams flow back to the starting-point, outside the following files. Thus in this perpetual "follow-my-leader" way the work is done, with more precision and steadiness than in the merchant-service. Merchant-men are invariably manned with the least possible number, and often go to sea shorthanded, even according to the parsimonious calculations of their owners. The only way the heavier work can be done at all is by each man doing his utmost at the same moment. This is regulated by the song. And here is the true singing of the deep sea. It is not recreation; it is an essential part of the work. It mastheads the topsail-yards, on making sail; it starts the anchor from the domestic or foreign mud; it "rides down the main tack with a will"; it breaks out and takes on board cargo; it keeps the pumps (the ship's,--not the sailor's) going. A good voice and a new and stirring chorus are worth an extra man. And there is plenty of need of both.
I remember well one black night in the mid-Atlantic, when we were beating up against a stiff breeze, coming on deck near midnight, just as the ship was put about. When a ship is tacking, the tacks and sheets (ropes which confine the clews or lower corners of the sails) are let run, in order that the yards may be swung round to meet the altered position of the ship. They must then be hauled taut again, and belayed, or secured, in order to keep the sails in their place and to prevent them from shaking. When the ship's head comes up in the wind, the sail is for a moment or two edgewise to it, and then is the nice moment, as soon as the head-sails fairly fill, when the main-yard and the yards above it can be swung readily, and the tacks and sheets hauled in. If the crew are too few in number, or too slow at their work, and the sails get fairly filled on the new tack, it is a fatiguing piece of work enough to "board" the tacks and sheets, as it is called. You are pulling at one end of the rope, but the gale is tugging at the other. The advantages of lungs are all against you, and perhaps the only thing to be done is to put the helm down a little, and set the sails shaking again before they can be trimmed properly.--It was just at such a time that I came on deck, as above mentioned. Being near eight bells, the watch on deck had been not over spry; and the consequence was that our big main-course was slatting and flying out overhead with a might that shook the ship from stem to stern. The flaps of the mad canvas were like successive thumps of a giant's fist upon a mighty drum. The sheets were jerking at the belaying-pins, the blocks rattling in sharp snappings like castanets. You could hear the hiss and seething of the sea alongside, and see it flash by in sudden white patches of phosphorescent foam, while all overhead was black with the flying scud. The English second-mate was stamping with vexation, and, with all his ills misplaced, storming at the men:--"'An'somely the weather main- brace,--'an'somely, I tell you!--'Alf a dozen of you clap on to the main sheet here,--down with 'im!--D'y'see 'ere's hall like a midshipman's bag,--heverythink huppermost and nothing 'andy.--'Aul 'im in, Hi say!" --But the sail wouldn't come, though. All the most forcible expressions of the Commination-Service were liberally bestowed on the watch. "Give us the song, men!" sang out the mate, at last,--"pull with a will! --together, men!--haltogether now!"--And then a cracked, melancholy voice struck up this chant:
"Oh, the bowline, bully bully bowline, Oh, the bowline, bowline, HAUL!"
At the last word every man threw his whole strength into the pull,--all singing it in chorus, with a quick, explosive sound. And so, jump by jump, the sheet was at last hauled taut.--I dare say this will seem very much spun out to a seafarer, but landsmen like to hear of the sea and its ways; and as more landsmen than seamen, probably, read the "Atlantic Monthly," I have told them of one genuine sea-song, and its time and place.
Then there are pumping-songs. "The dismal sound of the pumps is heard," says Mr. Webster's Plymouth-Rock Oration; but being a part of the daily morning duty of a well-disciplined merchant-vessel,--just a few minutes' spell to keep the vessel free and cargo unharmed by bilge-water,--it is not a dismal sound at all, but rather a lively one. It was a favorite amusement with us passengers on board the ---- to go forward about pumping-time to the break of the deck and listen. Any quick tune to which you might work a fire-engine will serve for the music, and the words were varied with every fancy. "Pay me the money down," was one favorite chorus, and the verse ran thus:--
Solo. Your money, young man, is no object to me.
Chorus. Pay me the money down!
Solo. Half a crown's no great amount.
Chorus. Pay me the money down!
Solo and Chorus. (Bis) Money down, money down, pay me the money down!
Not much sense in all this, but it served to man and move the brakes merrily. Then there were other choruses, which were heard from time to time,--"And the young gals goes a-weepin',"--"O long storm, storm along stormy"; but the favorite tune was "Money down," at least with our crew. They were not an avaricious set, either; for their parting ceremony, on embarking, was to pitch the last half-dollars of their advance on to the wharf, to be scrambled for by the land-sharks. But "Money down" was the standing chorus. I once heard, though not on board that ship, the lively chorus of "Off she goes, and off she must go,"--
"Highland day and off she goes,
Off she goes with a flying fore-topsail, Highland day and off she goes."
It is one of the most spirited things imaginable, when well sung, and, when applied to the topsail-halyards, brings the yards up in grand style.
These are some of the working-songs of the sea. They are not chosen for their sense, but for their sound. They must contain good mouth-filling words, with the vowels in the right place, and the rhythmic ictus at proper distances for chest and hand to keep true time. And this is why the seaman beats the wind in a trial of strength. The wind may whistle, but it cannot sing. The sailor does not whistle, on shipboard at least, but does sing.
Besides the working-day songs, there are others for the forecastle and dog-watches, which have been already described. But they are seldom of the parlor pattern. I remember one lovely moonlight evening, off the Irish coast, when our ship was slipping along before a light westerly air,--just enough of it for everything to draw, and the ship as steady as Ailsa Crag, so that everybody got on deck, even the chronically sea-sick passengers of the steerage. There was a boy on board, a steerage passenger, who had been back and forth several times on this Liverpool line of packets. He was set to singing, and his sweet, clear voice rang out with song after song,-- almost all of them sad ones. At last one of the crew called on him for a song which he made some demur at singing. I remember the refrain well (for he did sing it at last); it ran thus:--
"My crew are tried, my bark's my pride,
I'm the Pirate of the Isles."
It was no rose-water piracy that the boy sang of; it was the genuine pirate of the Isle of Pines,--the gentleman who before the days of California and steamers was the terror of the Spanish Main. He was depicted as falling in deadly combat with a naval cruiser, after many desperate deeds. What was most striking to us of the cabin was, that the sympathy of the song, and evidently of the hearers, was all on the side of the defier of law and order. There was no nonsense in it about "islands on the face of the deep where the winds never blow and the skies never weep," which to the parlor pirate are the indications of a capital station for wood and water, and for spending his honeymoon. It was downright cutting of throats and scuttling of ships that our youngster sang of, and the grim faces looked and listened approvingly, as you might fancy Ulysses's veterans hearkening to a tale of Troy.
There is another class of songs, half of the sea, half of the shore, which the fishermen and coasters croon in their lonely watches. Such is the rhyme of "Uncle Peleg," or "Pillick," as it is pronounced,--probably an historical ballad concerning some departed worthy of the Folger family of Nantucket. It begins--
"Old Uncle Pillick he built him a boat On the ba-a-ck side of Nantucket P'int; He rolled up his trowsers and set her afloat From the ba-a-ck side of Nantucket P'int."
Like "Christabel," this remains a fragment. Not so the legend of "Captain Cottington," (or Coddington,) which perhaps is still traditionally known to the young gentlemen at Harvard. It is marked by a bold and ingenious metrical novelty.
"Captain Cottington he went to sea,
Captain Cottington he went to sea,
Captain Cottington he went to sea-e-e,
Captain Cottington he went to sea."
The third verse of the next stanza announces that he didn't go to sea in a schoo-oo-ooner,--of the next that he went to sea in a bri-i-ig,--and so on. We learn that he got wrecked on the "Ba-ha-ha-hamys," that he swam ashore with the papers in his hat, and, I believe, entered his protest at the nearest "Counsel's" (Anglicé. Consul's) dwelling.
For the amateur of genuine ballad verse, here is a field quite as fertile as that which was reaped by Scott and Ritson amid the border peels and farmhouses of Liddesdale. It is not unlikely that some treasures may thus be brought to light. The genuine expression of popular feeling is always forcible, not seldom poetic. And at any rate, these wild bits of verse are redolent of the freshness of the sea-breeze, the damps of the clinging fog, the strange odors of the caboose-cookery, of the curing of cod, and of many another "ancient and fish-like smell." Who will tell us of these songs, not indeed of the deep sea, but of soundings? What were the stanzas which Luckie Mucklebackit sang along the Portanferry Sands? What is the dredging-song which the oyster "come of a gentle kind" is said to love?
These random thoughts may serve to indicate to the true seeker new and unworked mines of rhythmic ore. We are crying continually, that we have no national literature, that we are a nation of imitators and plagiarists. Why will not some one take the trouble to learn what we have? This does not mean that amateurs should endeavor to write such ballad fragments and popular songs,--because that cannot be done; such things grow,--they are not made. If the sea wants songs, it will have them. It is only suggested here that we look about us and ascertain of what lyric blessings we may now be the unconscious possessors. Can it be that oars have risen and fallen, sails flapped, waves broken in thunder upon our shores in vain? that no whistle of the winds, or moan of the storm-foreboding seas has waked a responsive chord in the heart of pilot or fisherman? If we are so poor, let us know our poverty.
And now to bring these desultory remarks to a practical conclusion. I have written these seemingly trifling fragments with a serious purpose. It is to show that the seaman has little or no art or part in the poetry of the seas. I have put down facts, have given what experience I have had of some of the idiosyncrasies of the forecastle. The poetry of the sea has been written on shore and by landsmen. Falconer's "Shipwreck" is a clever nautical tract, written in verse,--or if it be anything more, it is but the solitary exception which proves and enforces the rule. Midshipmen have written ambitious verses about the sea; but by the time the young gentlemen were promoted to the ward-room they have dropped the habit or found other themes for their stanzas. In truth, the stern manliness of his calling forbids the seaman to write poetry. He acts it. His is a profession which leaves no room for any assumed feeling or for any reflective tendencies. His instincts are developed, rather than his reason. He has no time to speculate. He must be prepared to lay his hand on the right rope, let the night be the darkest that ever came down upon the waves. He obeys orders, heedless of consequences; he issues commands amid the uproar and tumult of pressing emergencies. There is no chance for quackery in his work. The wind and the wave are infallible tests of all his knots and splices. He cannot cheat them. The gale and the lee-shore are not pictures, but fierce realities, with which he has to grapple for life or death. The soldier and the fireman may pass for heroes upon an assumed stock of courage; but the seaman must be a brave man in his calling, or Nature steps in and brands him coward. Therefore he cares little about the romance of his duties. If you would win his interest and regard, it must be on the side of his personal and human sensibilities. Cut off during his whole active life from any but the most partial sympathy with his kind, he yearns for the life of the shore, its social pleasures and its friendly greetings. Captains, whose vessels have been made hells-afloat by their tyranny, have found abundant testimony in the courts of law to their gentle and humane deportment on land. Therefore, when you would address seamen effectively, either in acts or words, let it be by no shallow mimicry of what you fancy to be their life afloat. It will be at best but "shop" to them, and we all know how distasteful that is in the mouth of a stranger to our pursuits. They laugh at your clumsy imitations, or are puzzled by your strange misconceptions. It is painful to see the forlorn attempts which are made to raise the condition of this noble race of men, to read the sad nonsense that is perpetrated for their benefit. If you wish really to benefit them, it must be by raising their characters as men; and to do this, you must address them as such, irrespectively of the technicalities of their calling.
"Mildred, my daughter, I am faint. Run and get me a glass of cordial from the buffet."
The girl looked at her father as he sat in his bamboo chair on the piazza, his pipe just let fall on the floor, and his face covered with a deadly pallor. She ran for the cordial, and poured it out with a trembling hand.
"Shan't I go for the doctor, father?" she asked.
"No, my dear, the spasm will pass off presently." But his face grew more ashy pale, and his jaw drooped.
"Dear father," said the frightened girl, "what shall I do for you? Oh, dear, if mother were only at home, or Hugh, to run for the doctor!"
"Mildred, my daughter," he gasped with difficulty, "the blacksmith,--send
for Ralph Hardwick,--quick! In the ebony cabinet, middle drawer, you will
find----Oh! oh!--God bless you, my daughter!--God bless"----
The angels, only, heard the conclusion of the sentence; for the speaker, Walter Kinloch, was dead, summoned to the invisible world without a warning and with hardly a struggle.
But Mildred thought he had fainted, and, raising the window, called loudly for Lucy Ransom, the only female domestic then in the house.
Lucy, frightened out of her wits at the sudden call, came rushing to the piazza, flat-iron in hand, and stood riveted to the spot where she first saw the features on which the awful shadow of death had settled.
"Rub his hands, Lucy!" said Mildred. "Run for some water! Get me the smelling-salts!"
Lucy attempted to obey all three orders at once, and therefore did nothing.
Mildred held the unresisting hand. "It is warm," she said. "But the pulse,--I can't find it."
"Deary, no," said Lucy, "you won't find it."
"Why, you don't mean"----
"Yes, Mildred, he's dead!" And she let fall her flat-iron, and covered her face with her apron.
But Mildred kept chafing her father's temples and hands,--calling piteously, in hopes to get an answer from the motionless lips. Then she sank down at his feet, and clasped his knees in an agony of grief.
A carriage stopped at the door, and a hasty step came up the walk.
"Lucy Ransom," said Mrs. Kinloch, (for it was she, just returned from her drive,) "Lucy Ransom, what are you blubbering about? Here on the piazza, and with your flat-iron! What is the matter?"
"Matter enough!" said Lucy. "See!--see Mr."----But the sobs were too
frequent. She became choked, and fell into an hysterical paroxysm.
By this time Mrs. Kinloch had stepped upon the piazza, and saw the drooping head, the dangling arms, and the changed face of her husband. "Dead! dead!" she exclaimed. "My God! what has happened? Mildred, who was with him? Was the doctor sent for? or Squire Clamp? or Mr. Rook? What did he say to you, dear?" And she tried to lift up the sobbing child, who still clung to the stiffening knees where she had so often climbed for a kiss.
"Oh, mother! is he dead?--no life left?"
"Calm yourself, my dear child," said Mrs. Kinloch. "Tell me, did he say anything?"
Mildred replied, "He was faint, and before I could give him the cordial he asked for he was almost gone. 'The blacksmith,' he said, 'send for Ralph Hardwick'; then he said something of the ebony cabinet, but could not speak the words which were on his lips." She could say no more, but gave way to uncontrollable tears and sobs.
By this time, Mrs. Kinloch's son, Hugh Branning, who had been to the stable with the horse and carriage, came whistling through the yard, and cutting off weeds or twigs along the path with sharp cuts of his whip.
"Which way is the wind now?" said he, as he approached; "the governor asleep, Mildred crying, and you scolding, mother?" In a moment, however, the sight of the ghastly face transfixed the thoughtless youth, as it had done his mother; and, dropping his whip, he stood silent, awe-struck, in the presence of the dead.
"Hugh," said Mrs. Kinloch, speaking in a very quiet tone, "go and tell Squire Clamp to come over here."
In a few minutes the dead body was carried into the house by George, the Asiatic servant, aided by a villager who happened to pass by. Squire Clamp, the lawyer of the town, came and had a conference with Mrs. Kinloch respecting the funeral. Neighbors came to offer sympathy, and aid, if need should be. Then the house was put in order, and crape hung on the door- handle. The family were alone with their dead.
On the village green the boys were playing a grand game of "round ball," for it was a half-holiday. The clear, silvery tones of the bell were heard, and we stopped to listen. Was it a fire? No, the ringing was not vehement enough. A meeting of the church? In a moment we should know. As the bell ceased, we looked up to the white taper spire to catch the next sound. One stroke. It was a death, then,--and of a man. We listened for the age tolled from the belfry. Fifty-five. Who had departed? The sexton crossed the green on his way to the shop to make the coffin, and informed us. Our bats and balls had lost their interest for us; we did not even ask our tally-man, who cut notches for us on a stick, how the game stood. For Squire Walter Kinloch was the most considerable man in our village of Innisfield. Without being highly educated, he was a man of reading and intelligence. In early life he had amassed a fortune in the China trade, and with it he had brought back a deeply bronzed complexion, a scar from the creese of a Malay pirate, and the easy manners which travel always gives to observant and sensible men. But his rather stately carriage produced no envy or ill-will among his humbler neighbors, for his superiority was never questioned. Men bowed to him with honest good-will, and boys, who had been flogged at school for confounding Congo and Coromandel, and putting Borneo in the Bight of Benin, made an awkward obeisance and stared wonderingly, as they met the man who had actually sailed round the world, and had, in his own person, illustrated the experiment of walking with his head downwards among the antipodes. His house had no rival in the country round, and his garden was considered a miracle of art, having, in popular belief, all the fruits, flowers, and shrubs that had been known from the days of Solomon to those of Linnaeus. Prodigious stories were told of his hoard of gold, and some of the less enlightened thought that even the outlandish ornaments of the balustrade over the portico were carven silver. Curious vases adorned the hall and side-board; and numberless quaint trinkets, whose use the villagers could not even imagine, gave to the richly-furnished rooms an air of Oriental magnificence. Tropical birds sang or chattered in cages, and a learned but lawless parrot talked, swore, or made mischief, as he chose. The tawny servant George, brought by Mr. Kinloch from one of the islands of the Pacific, completed his claims upon the admiration of the untravelled.
He was just ready to enjoy the evening of life, when the night of death closed upon him with tropic suddenness. He left one child only, his daughter Mildred, then just turned of eighteen; and as Mrs. Kinloch had only one son to claim her affection, the motherless girl would seem to be well provided for. Mildred was sweet-tempered, and her step-mother had hitherto been discreet and kind.
The funeral was over, and the townspeople recovered from the shock which the sudden death had caused. Administration was granted to the widow conjointly with Squire Clamp, the lawyer, and the latter was appointed guardian for Mildred during her minority.
Squire Clamp was an ill-favored man, heavy-browed and bald, and with a look which, in a person of less consequence, would have been called "hang- dog,"--owing partly, no doubt, to the tribulation he had suffered from his vixen spouse, whose tongue was now happily silenced. He was the town's only lawyer, (a fortunate circumstance,) so that he could frequently manage to receive fees for advice from both parties in a controversy. He made all the wills, deeds, and contracts, and settled all the estates he could get hold of. But no such prize as the Kinloch property had ever before come into his hands.
If Squire Clamp's reputation for shrewdness had belonged to an irreligious man, it would have been of questionable character; but as he was a zealous member of the church, he was protected from assaults upon his integrity. If there were suspicions, they were kept close, not bruited abroad.
He was now an almost daily visitor at the widow Kinloch's. What was the intricate business that required the constant attention of a legal adviser? The settlement of the estate, so far as the world knew, was an easy matter. The property consisted of the dwelling-house, a small tract of land near the village, a manufactory at the dam, by the side of Ralph Hardwick's blacksmith's shop, and money, plate, furniture, and stocks. There were no debts. There was but one child, and, after the assignment of the widow's dower, the estate was Mildred's. Nothing, therefore, could be simpler for the administrators. The girl trusted to the good faith of her stepmother and the justice of the lawyer, who now stood to her in the place of a father. She was an orphan, and her innocence and childlike dependence would doubtless be a sufficient spur to the consciences of her protectors. So the girl thought, if she thought at all,--and so all charitable people were bound to think.
How wearily the days passed during the month after the funeral! The shadow of death seemed to darken everything. Doors creaked dismally when they were opened. The room where the body had been laid seemed to have grown a century older than the other parts of the once bright and cheerful house, --its atmosphere was so stagnant and full of mould. The family spoke only in suppressed tones; their countenances were as sad as their garments. All this was terrible to the impressible, imaginative, and naturally buoyant temper of Mildred. It was like dwelling in a tomb, and her heart cried out for very loneliness. She must do something to take her mind out of the sunless vault,--she must resume her relations with the dwellers in the upper air. All at once she thought of her father's last words,--of Ralph Hardwick, and the ebony cabinet. It was in the next room. She opened the door, half expecting to see some bodiless presence in the silent space. She could hear her own heart beat between the tickings of the great Dutch clock, as she stepped across the floor. How still was everything! The air tingled in her ears as though now disturbed for the first time.
She opened the cabinet, which was not locked, and pulled out the middle drawer. She found nothing but a dried rose-bud and a lock of sunny hair wrapped in a piece of yellowed paper. Was it her mother's hair? As Mildred remembered her mother, the color of her hair was dark, not golden. Still it might have been cut in youth, before its hue had deepened. And what a world of mystery, of feeling, of associations there was in that scentless and withered rose-bud! What fair hand had first plucked it? What pledge did it carry? Was the subtile aroma of love ever blended with its fragrance? Had her father borne it with him in his wanderings? The secret was in his coffin. The struggling lips could not utter it before they were stiffened into marble. Yet she could not believe that these relics were the sole things to which he had referred. There must have been something that more nearly concerned her,--something in which the blacksmith or his nephew was interested.
In order to show the position of Mrs. Kinloch and her son in our story, it will be necessary to make the reader acquainted with some previous occurrences.
Six years before this date, Mrs. Kinloch was the Widow Branning. Her husband's small estate had melted like a snow-bank in the liquidation of his debts. She had only one child, Hugh, to support; but in a country town there is generally little that a woman can do to earn a livelihood; and she might often have suffered from want, if the neighbors had not relieved her. If she left her house for any errand, (locks were but seldom used in Innisfield,) she would often on her return find a leg of mutton, a basket of apples or potatoes, or a sack of flour, conveyed there by some unknown hands. In winter nights she would hear the voices of Ralph Hardwick, the village blacksmith, and his boys, as they drew sled-loads of wood, ready cut and split, to keep up her kitchen fire. Other friends ploughed and planted her garden, and performed numberless kind offices. But, though aided in this way by charity, Mrs. Branning never lost her self-respect nor her standing in the neighborhood.
Everybody knew that she was poor, and she knew that everybody knew it; yet so long as she was not in absolute want, and the poor-house, that bugbear of honest poverty, was yet far distant, she managed to keep a cheerful heart, and visited her neighbors on terms of entire equality.
At this period Walter Kinloch's wife died, leaving an only child. During her sickness, Mrs. Branning had been sent for to act as nurse and temporary house-keeper, and, at the urgent request of the widower, remained for a time after the funeral. Weeks passed, and her house was still tenantless. Mildred had become so much attached to the motherly widow and her son, that she would not allow the servants to do anything for her. So, without any definite agreement, their relations continued. By-and-by the village gossips began to query and surmise. At the sewing- society the matter was fully discussed.
Mrs. Greenfield, the doctor's wife, admitted that it would be an excellent match, "jest a child apiece, both on 'em well brought up, used to good company, and all that; but, land's sakes! he, with his mint o' money, a'n't a-goin' to marry a poor widder that ha'n't got nothin' but her husband's pictur' and her boy,--not he!"
Others insinuated that Mrs. Branning knew what she was about when she went to Squire Kinloch's, and his wife was 'most gone with consumption. "'Twasn't a mite strange that little Mildred took to her so kindly; plenty of women could find ways to please a child, if so be they could have such a chance to please themselves."
The general opinion seemed to be that Mrs. Branning would marry the Squire, if she could get him; but that as to his intentions, the matter was quite doubtful. Nevertheless, after being talked about for a year, the parties were duly published, married, and settled down into the quiet routine of country life.
Doubtless the accident of daily contact was the secret of the match. Had Mrs. Branning been living in her own poorly-furnished house, Mr. Kinloch would hardly have thought of going to seek her. But as mistress of his establishment she had an opportunity to display her house-wifely qualities, as well as to practise those nameless arts by which almost any clever woman knows how to render herself agreeable.
The first favorable impression deepened, until the widower came to believe that the whole parish did not contain so proper a person to be the successor of Mrs. Kinloch, as his housekeeper. Their union, though childless, was as happy as common; there was nothing of the romance of a first attachment,--little of the tenderness that springs from fresh sensibilities, for she at least was of a matter-of-fact turn. But there was a constant and hearty good feeling, resulting from mutual kindness and deference.
If the step-mother made any difference in her treatment of the two children, it was in favor of the gentle Mildred. And though the Squire naturally felt more affection for his motherless daughter, yet he was proud of his step-son, gave him the advantages of the best schools, and afterwards sent him for a year to college. But the lad's spirits were too buoyant for the sober notions of the Faculty. He was king in the gymnasium, and was minutely learned in the natural history and botany of the neighborhood; at least, he knew all the haunts of birds, rabbits, and squirrels, as well as the choicest orchards of fruit.
After repeated admonitions without effect, a letter was addressed to his stepfather by vote at a Faculty-meeting. A damsel at service in the President's house overheard the discussion, and found means to warn the young delinquent of his danger; for she, as well as most people who came within the sphere of his attraction, felt kindly toward him.
The stage-coach that conveyed the next morning's mail to Innisfield carried Hugh Branning as a passenger. Alighting at the post-office, he took out the letter superscribed in the well-known hand of the President, pocketed it, and returned by the next stage to college. This prank only moved the Squire to mirth, when he heard of it. He knew that Hugh was a lad of spirit,--that in scholarship he was by no means a dunce; and as long as there was no positive tendency to vice, he thought but lightly of his boyish peccadilloes. But it was impossible for such irregularities to continue, and after a while Mr. Kinloch yielded to his step-son's request and took him home.
Next year it was thought best that the young man should go to sea, and a midshipman's commission was procured for him. Now, for the second time, after an absence of three years, Hugh was at home in all the dignity of navy blue, anchor buttons, glazed cap, and sword.
"I have brought you the statement of the property, Mrs. Kinloch," said Mr. Clamp. "It is merely a legal form, embracing the items which you gave to me; it must be returned at the next Probate term."
Mrs. Kinloch took the paper and glanced over it.
"This statement must be sworn to, Mrs. Kinloch."
"We are joined in the administration, and both must swear to it."
There was a pause. Mrs. Kinloch, resting her hands on her knee, tossed the hem of her dress with her foot, as though meditating.
"I shall of course readily make oath to the schedule," he continued,--"at least, after you have done so; for I have no personal knowledge of the effects of the deceased."
His manner was decorous, but he regarded her keenly. She changed the subject.
"People seem to think I have a mint in the house; and such bills as come in! Sawin, the cabinet-maker, has sent his to-day, as soon as my husband is fairly under ground: forty dollars for a cherry coffin, which he made in one day. Cleaver, the butcher, too, has sent a bill running back for five years or more. Now I know that Mr. Kinloch never had an ounce of meat from him that he didn't pay for. If they all go on in this way, I sha'n't have a cent left. Everybody tries to cheat the widow"----
"And orphan," interposed Mr. Clamp.
She looked at him quietly; but he was imperturbable.
"We must begin to collect what is due," she continued.
"Did you refer to the notes from Ploughman?" asked Mr. Clamp. "He is perfectly good; and he will pay the interest till we want to use the money."
"I wasn't thinking of Ploughman," she replied, "but of Mark Davenport, Uncle Ralph Hardwick's nephew. They say he is a teacher in one of the fashionable schools in New York,--and he must be able to pay, if he's ever going to."
"Well, when he comes on here, I will present the notes."
"But I don't intend to wait till he comes; can't you send the demands to a lawyer where he is?"
"Certainly, if you wish it; but that course will necessarily be attended with some expense."
"I choose to have it done," said Mrs. Kinloch, decisively. "Mildred, who has always been foolishly partial to the young upstart, insists that her father intended to give up the notes to Mark, and she thinks that was what he wanted to send for Uncle Ralph about, just before he died. I don't believe it, and I don't intend to fling away my money upon such folks."
"You are quite right, ma'am," said the lawyer. "The inconsiderate generosity of school-children would be a poor basis for the transactions of business."
"And besides," continued Mrs. Kinloch, "I want the young man to remember the blacksmith's shop that he came from, and get over his ridiculous notion of looking up to our family."
"Oh ho!" said Mr. Clamp, "that is it? Well, you are a sagacious woman,"-- looking at her with unfeigned admiration.
"I can see through a millstone, when there is a hole in it," said Mrs. Kinloch. "And I mean to stop this nonsense."
"To be sure,--it would be a very unequal match in every way. Besides, I'm told that he isn't well-grounded in doctrine. He even goes to Brooklyn to hear Torchlight preach." And Mr. Clamp rolled up his eyes, interlocking his fingers, as he was wont when at church-meeting he rose to exhort.
"I don't pretend to be a judge of doctrine, further than the catechism goes," said the widow; "but Mr. Rook says that Torchlight is a dangerous man, and will lead the churches off into infidelity."
"Yes, Mrs. Kinloch, the free-thinking of this age is the fruitful parent of all evil,--of Mormonism, Unitarianism, Spiritualism, and of all those forms of error which seek to overthrow"----
There was a crash in the china-closet. Mrs. Kinloch went to the door, and leading out Lucy Ransom, the maid, by the ear, exclaimed, "You hussy, what were you there for? I'll teach you to be listening about in closets," (giving the ear a fresh tweak,) "you eavesdropper!"
"Quit!" cried Lucy. "I didn't mean to listen. I was there rubbin' the silver 'fore you come. Then I didn't wanter come out, for I was afeard."
"What made the smash, then?" demanded Mrs. Kinloch.
"I was settin' things on the top shelf, and the chair tipped over."
"Don't make it worse by fibbing! If that was so, how came the chair to tip the way it did? You were trying to peep over the door. Go to the kitchen!"
Lucy went out with fallen plumes. Mr. Clamp took his hat to go also.
"Don't go till I get you the notes," said Mrs. Kinloch.
As she brought them, he said, "I will send these by the next mail, with instructions to collect."
While his hand was on the latch, she spoke again:--
"Mr. Clamp, did you ever look over the deed of the land we own about the dam where the mill stands?"
"No, ma'am, I have never seen it."
"I wish you would have the land surveyed according to this title," she said. "Quite privately, you know. Just have the line run, and let me know about it. Perhaps it will be as well to send over to Riverbank and get Gunter to do it; he will keep quiet about it."
Mr. Clamp stood still a moment. Here was a woman whom he was expecting to lead like a child, but who on the other hand had fairly bridled and saddled him, so that he was driven he knew not whither.
"Why do you propose this, may I ask, Mrs. Kinloch?"
"Oh, I have heard," she replied, carelessly, "that there was some error in the surveys. Mr. Kinloch often talked of having it corrected, but, like most men, put it off. Now, as we may sell the property, we shall want to know what we have got."
"Certainly, Mrs. Kinloch, I will follow your prudent suggestions,"--adding to himself, as he walked away, "I shall have to be tolerably shrewd to get ahead of that woman. I wonder what she is driving at."
Ralph Hardwick was the village blacksmith. His shop stood on the bank of the river, not far from the dam. The great wheel below the flume rolled all day, throwing over its burden of diamond drops, and tilting the ponderous hammer with a monotonous clatter. What a palace of wonders to the boys was that grim and sooty shop!--the roar of the fires, as they were fed by the laboring bellows; the sound of water, rushing, gurgling, or musically dropping, heard in the pauses; the fiery shower of sparkles that flew when the trip-hammer fell; and the soft and glowing mass held by the smith's tongs with firm grasp, and turning to some form of use under his practised eye! How proud were the young amateur blacksmiths when the kind-hearted owner of the shop gave them liberty to heat and pound a bit of nail-rod, to mend a skate or a sled-runner, or sharpen a pronged fish- spear! Still happier were they, when, at night, with his sons and nephew, they were allowed to huddle on the forge, sitting on the bottoms of old buckets or boxes, and watching the fire, from the paly blue border of flame in the edge of the damp charcoal, to the reddening, glowing column that shot with an arrowy stream of sparks up the wide-throated chimney. How the dark rafters and nail-pierced roof grew ruddy as the white-hot ploughshare or iron bar was drawn from the fire!--what alternations of light and shadow! No painter ever drew figure in such relief as the blacksmith presented in that wonderful light, with his glistening face, his tense muscles, and his upraised arm.
Alas! the hammer is still; the wheel dashes no more the glittering spray; the fire has died out in the forge; the blacksmith's long day's work is done!
He settled in Innisfield when it was but a district attached to a neighboring town. There were but three or four houses in the now somewhat populous village. He came on foot, driving his cow; his wife following in the wagon, with their little stock of household goods,--not forgetting his hammer, more potent than Prospero's wand. The minister, the doctor, and Squire Kinloch, who constituted the aristocracy, yielded precedence in date to Ralph Hardwick, Knight of the Ancient Order of the Anvil.
So he toiled, faithful to his calling. By day the din of his hammer rarely ceased, and by night the flame and sparks from his chimney were a Pharos to all travellers approaching the town. Children were born to him, for which he blessed God, and worked the harder. He attained a moderate prosperity, secure from want, but still dependent upon labor for bread. At length his wife died; he wept like a true and faithful husband as he was, and thenceforth was both mother and father to his babes.
During all his life he kept Sunday with religious scrupulousness, and with his family went to the house of worship in all weathers. From the very first he had been leader of the choir, and had given the pitch with a fork hammered and tuned by his own hands. With a clear and sympathetic voice, he had such an instinctive taste and power of expression, that his song of penitence or praise was far more devotional than the labored efforts of many more highly cultivated singers. Music and poetry flowed smoothly and naturally from his lips, but in uttering the common prose of daily life his organs were rebellious. The truth must be spoken,--he stammered badly, incurably. Whether it was owing to the attempt to overcome his impediment by making his speech musical, or to the cadences of his hammer beating time while his brain was shaping its airy fancies, his thoughts ran naturally in verse.
Do not smile at the thought of Vulcan's callused fingers touching the chords of the lyre to delicate music. The sun shone as lovingly upon the swart face of the blacksmith in his shop-door, as upon the scholar at his library-window. "Poetry was an angel in his breast," making his heart glad with her heavenly presence; he did not "make her his drudge, his maid-of- all-work," as professional verse-makers do.
Mr. Hardwick's younger sister was married to a hard-working, stern, puritanical man named Davenport, (not her first love,) who removed to a Western State when it was almost a wilderness, cleared for himself a farm, and built a log-house. The toil and privations of frontier life soon wrought their natural effects upon Mrs. Davenport's delicate constitution. She fell into a rapid decline and died. Her husband was seized with a fever the summer after, and died also, leaving two children, Mark and Anna. The blacksmith had six motherless children of his own; but he set out for the West, and brought the orphans home with him. He thenceforth treated them like his own offspring, manifesting a woman's tenderness as well as a father's care for them.
Mark was a comely lad, with the yellow curling hair, the clear blue eyes, and the marked symmetry of features that belonged to his uncle. He had an inborn love of reading and study; he was first in his class at every winter's school, and had devoured all the books within his reach. Then he borrowed an old copy of Adam's Latin Grammar from Dr. Greenfield, and committed the rules to memory without a teacher. That was his introduction to the classics.
But Mr. Hardwick believed in the duty and excellence of work, and Mark, as well as his cousins, was trained to make himself useful. So the Grammar was studied and Virgil read at chance intervals, when a storm interrupted out-door work, or while waiting at the upper mill for a grist, or of nights at the shop by the light of the forge fire. The paradigms were committed to memory with an anvil accompaniment; and long after, he never could scan a line of Homer, especially the oft-repeated
[Greek: Tou d'au | Taelema | chos pep | numenos | antion | aeuda],
without hearing the ringing blows of his uncle's hammer keeping tune to the verse.
At sixteen years of age he was ready to enter college, though he had received little aid in his studies, except when some schoolmaster who was versed in the humanities chanced to be hired for the winter. But his uncle was not able to support him at any respectable university, and the lad's prospects for such an education as he desired seemed to be none of the best.
At this point an incident occurred which changed the course of our hero's life, and as it will serve to explain how he came to give his notes to Mr. Kinloch, on which the administrators are about to bring suit, it should properly be related here.
Mark Davenport was at work on a farm a short distance from the village. He hoped to enter college the following autumn, and he knew no means to obtain money for a portion of his outfit except by the labor of his hands. He could get twenty dollars a month for the summer season. Sixty, or possibly seventy dollars!--what ideas of opulence were suggested by the sound of those words!
It was a damp, drizzly day; there was not a settled rain, yet it was too wet to work in the corn. Mark was therefore busy in picking loose stones from the surface of a field cultivated the year before, and now "seeded down" for grass. A portion of the field bordered on a pond, and the alders upon its margin formed a dense green palisade, over which might be seen the gray surface of the water freckled by the tiny drops of rain. Low clouds trailed their gauzy robes over the top of Mount Quobbin, and flecks of mist swept across the blue sides of the loftier Mount Elizabeth.
"What a perfect day for fishing!" thought Mark. "If I had my tackle here, and a frog's leg or a shiner, I would soon have a pickerel out from under those lilypads."
But he kept at work, and, having his basket full of stones, carried them to the pond and plumped them in. A growl of anger came up from behind the bushes.
"What the Devil do you mean, you lubber, throwing stones over here to scare away the fish?"
The bushes parted at the same time, showing Hugh Branning sitting in the end of his boat, and apparently just ready to fling out his line.
"If I had known you were there fishing," said Mark, "I shouldn't have thrown the stones into the water. But," he continued, while every fibre tingled with indignation, "I will have you to know that I am not to be talked to in that way by you or anybody else."
"I would like to know how you are going to help yourself," said Hugh, stepping ashore and advancing.
"You will find out, Mr. Insolence, if you don't leave this field. You a'n't on the quarter-deck yet, bullying a tar with his hat off."
"Bless me! how the young Vulcan talks!"
"I have talked all I am going to. Now get into your boat and be off!"
"I don't propose to be in a hurry," said Hugh, with provoking coolness, standing with his arms a-kimbo.
The remembrance of Hugh's usual patronizing airs, together with his insulting language, was too much for Mark's impetuous temper. He was in a delirium of rage, and he rushed upon his antagonist. Hugh stood warily upon the defensive, and parried Mark's blows with admirable skill; he had not the muscle nor the endurance of the young blacksmith, but he had considerable skill in boxing, and was perfectly cool; and though Mark finally succeeded in grappling and hurling to the ground his lithe and resolute foe, it was not until he had been pretty severely pommelled himself, especially in his face. Mark set his knee on the breast of his adversary and waited to hear "Enough." Hugh ground his teeth, but there was no escape; no feint nor sudden movement could reverse their positions; and, out of breath, he gave up in sullen despair.
"Let me up," he said, at length. Mark arose, and being by this time thoroughly sobered, he walked off without a word and picked up his basket.
Hugh, on the other hand, was more and more angry every minute. The indignity he had suffered was not to be tamely submitted to. He got into the boat and took his oar; he looked back and saw Mark commencing work again; the temptation was too strong. He picked up one of the largest of the stones that Mark had emptied into the shallow margin of the pond; he threw it with all his force, and hurriedly pushed off from shore without stopping to ascertain the extent of the mischief he had done. He knew that the stone did not miss, for he saw Mark fall heavily to the ground, and that was enough. The injury was serious. Mark was carried to the farm- house and was confined to his bed for six weeks with a brain fever, being delirious for the greater part of the time. Hugh Branning found the town quite uncomfortable; the eyes of all the people he met seemed to scorch him. He was bold and self-reliant; but no man can stand up singly against the indignation of a whole community. He went on a visit to Boston, and not long after, to the exceeding grief of his mother, entered the navy.
When Mark was recovering, Mr. Rook,
the clergyman, called and offered to aid him in his college course, if he would agree to study for the ministry. But the young man declined the proposal, because he thought himself unfitted for the sacred calling.
"No," he added, with a smile, "I'm not made for an evangelist; not much like the beloved disciple at all events, but rather like peppery Peter,-- ready, if provoked, to whisk off an ignoble ear."
Mr. Rook returned home sorrowful; and at the next meeting of the sewing- circle the unfortunate Mark received a full share of attention; for the offer of aid came partly from this society. When this matter had been the talk of the village for a day or two, Squire Kinloch made some errand to the house where Mark was. What passed between them the young man did not choose to relate, but he showed his Uncle Hardwick the Squire's check for two hundred and fifty dollars, and told him he should receive a similar sum each year until he finished his collegiate course.
The promise was kept; the yearly supply was furnished; and Mark graduated with honor, having given notes amounting to a thousand dollars. With cheerful alacrity he commenced teaching in a popular seminary, intending to pay his debts before studying a profession.
It was Saturday night, and Mr. Hardwick was closing his shop. A customer was just leaving, his horse's feet newly rasped and white, and a sack of harrow-teeth thrown across his back. The boys, James and Milton, had been putting a load of charcoal under cover, for the wind was southerly and there were signs of rain. Of course they had become black enough with coal-dust,--not a streak of light was visible, except around their eyes. They were capering about and contemplating each other's face with uproarious delight, while the blacksmith, though internally chuckling at their antics, preserved a decent gravity, and prepared to go to his house. He drew a bucket of water, and bared his muscular arms, then, after washing them, soused his curly hair and begrimed face, and came out wonderfully brightened by the operation. The boys continued their sports, racing, wrestling, and putting on grotesque grimaces.
Charlotte, the youngest child, now came to the shop to say that supper was ready.
"C-come, boys, you've ha-had play enough," said Mr. Hardwick. "J-James, put Ch-Charlotte down. M-M-Milton, it's close on to S-Sabba'day. Now w- wash yourselves."
Just as the merriment was highest, Charlotte standing on James's shoulders, and Milton chasing them, while the blacksmith was looking on,-- his honest face glistening with soap and good-humor,--Mildred Kinloch passed by on her way home from a walk by the river. She looked towards the shop-door and bowed to Mr. Hardwick.
"G-good evenin', M-Miss Mildred," said he; "I'm g-glad to see you lookin' so ch-cheerful."
The tone was hearty, and with a dash of chivalrous sentiment rarely heard in a smithy. His look of half-parental, half-admiring fondness was touching to see.
"Oh, Uncle Ralph," she replied, "I am never melancholy when I see you. You have all the cheerfulness of this spring day in your face."
"Y-yes, I hev to stay here in the old shop; b-but I hear the b-birds in the mornin', and all day I f-feel as ef I was out under the b-blue sky, an' rejoicin' with all livin' creaturs in the sun and the s-sweet air of heaven."
"I envy you your happy frame; everything has some form or hue of beauty for you. I must have you read to me again. I never take up Milton without thinking of you."
"I c-couldn't wish to be remembered in any p-pleasanter way."
"Well, good evening. I must hurry home, for it grows damp here by the mill-race. Tell Lizzy and Anna to come and see me. We are quite lonesome now."
"P-p'raps Mark'll come with 'em."
"Mark? Is he here? When did he come?"
"H-he'll be here t-to-night."
"You surprise me!"
"'Tis rather s-sudden. He wrote y-yes-terday 't he'd g-got to come on urgent b-business."
"Urgent business?" she repeated, thoughtfully. "I wonder if Squire Clamp"----
The blacksmith nodded, with a gesture towards his children, as though he would not have them hear.
"Yes," he added, in a low tone, "I g-guess that is it."
"I must go home," said Mildred, hurriedly.
"Well, G-God bless you, my daughter! D-don't forgit your old sooty friend. And ef ever y-you want the help of a s-stout hand, or of an old gray head, don't fail to come to the ber-blacksmith's shop."
"Thank you, Uncle Ralph! thank you with all my heart! Good-night!"
She walked lightly up the hill towards the principal street. But she had not gone half a dozen yards before a hand grasped her arm. She turned with a start.
"Mark Davenport!" she exclaimed, "Is it you? How you frightened me!"
"Yes, Mildred, it is Mark, your old friend" (with a meaning emphasis). "I couldn't resist the temptation of giving you a little surprise."
"But when did you come to town?"
"I have just reached here from the station at Riverbank. I went to the house first, and was just going to see Uncle at the shop, when I caught sight of you."
Mark drew her arm within his own, and noticed, not without pleasure, how she yet trembled with agitation.
"I am very glad to see you," said Mildred; "but isn't your coming sudden?"
"Yes, I had some news from home yesterday which determined me to come, and I started this morning."
"Quick and impetuous as ever!"
"Yes, I don't deliberate long."
There was a pause.
"I wish you had only been here to see father before he died."
"I wish I might have seen him."
"I am sure he would never have desired to put you to any trouble."
"I suppose he would not have troubled me, though I never expected to do less than repay him the money he was so good as to lend me; but I don't think he would have been so abrupt and peremptory as Squire Clamp."
"Why, what has he done?"
"This is what he has done. A lawyer's clerk, as I supposed him to be, called upon me yesterday morning with a statement of the debt and interest, and made a formal demand of payment. I had only about half the amount in bank, and therefore could not meet it. Then the clerk appeared in his true character as a sheriff's officer, drew out his papers, and served a writ upon me, besides a trustee process on the principal of the school, so as to attach whatever might be due to me."
"Oh, Mark, were you treated so?"
"Just so,--entrapped like a wild animal. To be sure, it was a legal process, but one designed only for extreme cases, and which no gentleman ever puts in force against another."
"I don't know what this can mean. Squire Clamp is cruel enough, I know; but mother, surely, would never approve such conduct."
"After all, the mortification is the principal thing; for, with what I have, and what Uncle can raise for me, I can pay the debt. I have said too much already, Mildred. I don't want to put any of my burdens on your little shoulders. In fact, I am quite ashamed of having spoken on the subject at all; but I have so little concealment, that it popped out before I thought twice."
They were approaching the house, both silent, neither seeming to be bold enough to touch the tenderer chords that thrilled in unison.
"Mildred," said Mark, "I don't know how much is meant by this suit. I don't know that I shall be able to see you again, unless it be casually, in the street, as to-night, (blessed accident!)--but remember, that, whatever may happen, I am always the same that I have been to you."
Here his voice failed him. With such a crowd of memories,--of hopes and desires yet unsatisfied,--with the crushing burden of debt and poverty,-- he could not command himself to say what his heart, nevertheless, ached in retaining. Here he was, with the opportunity for which during all his boyhood he had scarcely dared to hope, and yet he was dumb. They were at the gate, under the dense shade of the maples.
"Good-night, dear Mildred!" said Mark.
He took her hand, which was fluttering as by electrical influence, and raised it tenderly to his lips.
"Good-night," he said again.
She did not speak, but grasped his hand with fervor. He walked away slowly towards his uncle's house, but often stopped and looked back at the slender figure whose outlines he could barely see in the gateway under the trees. Then, as he lost sight of her, he remembered with shame the selfish prominence he had given to his own troubles. He was ashamed, too, of the cowardice which had kept him from uttering the words which had trembled on his lips. But in a moment the thought of the future checked that regret. Gloomy as his own lot might be, he could bear it; but he had no right to involve another's happiness. Thus he alternated between pride and abasement, hope and dejection, as many a lover has done before and since.
Sunday was a great day in Innisfield; for there, as in all Puritan communities, religion was the central and engrossing idea. As the bell rang for service, every ear in town heard it, and all who were not sick or kept at home by the care of young children turned their steps towards the house of God. The idea that there could be any choice between going to hear preaching and remaining at home was so preposterous, that it never entered into the minds of any but the openly wicked. Whatever might be their inclinations, few had the hardihood to absent themselves from meeting, still less to ride out for pleasure, or to stroll through the woods or upon the bank of the river. A steady succession of vehicles-- "thorough-braced" wagons, a few more stylish carriages with elliptic springs, and here and there an ancient chaise--tended from all quarters to the meeting-house. The horses, from the veteran of twenty years' service down to the untrimmed and half-trained colt, knew what the proprieties of the day required. They trotted soberly, with faces as sedate as their drivers', and never stopped to look in the fence-corners as they passed along, to see what they could find to be frightened at. Nor would they often disturb worship by neighing, unless they became impatient at the length of the sermon.
Mr. Hardwick and his family, as we have before mentioned, went regularly to meeting; Lizzy and Mark sat with him in the singers' seats, the others in a pew below. The only guardian of the house on Sundays was a large ungainly cur, named Caesar. The habits of this dog deserve a brief mention. On all ordinary occasions he followed his master or others of the family, seeming to take a human delight in their company. Whenever it was desirable to have him remain at home, nothing short of tying him would answer the purpose. After a time he came to know the signs of preparation, and would skulk. Upon setting out, Mr. Hardwick would tell one of the boys to catch Caesar so that he should not follow, but he was not to be found; and in the course of ten minutes he would be trotting after his master as composedly as if nothing had ever happened to interrupt their friendly relations. It was impossible to resist such persevering affection, and at length Mr. Hardwick gave up the contest, and allowed Caesar to travel when and where he chose. But on Sunday he sat on the front-door step, erect upon his haunches, with one ear dropping forward, and the other upright like the point of a starched shirt-collar; and though on week-days he was fond of paying the usual courtesies to his canine acquaintances, and (if the truth must be told) of barking at strange horses occasionally, yet nothing could induce him either to follow any of the family, or accost a dog, or chase after foreign vehicles, on the day of rest. Once only he forgot what was due to his character, and gave a few yelps in holy time. But James, with a glance at his father, who was stoutly orthodox, averred that Caesar's conduct was justifiable, inasmuch as the man he barked at was one of a band of new-light fanatics who worshipped in the school- house, and the horse, moreover, was not shod at a respectable place, but at a tinker's shop in the verge of the township. A dog with such powers of discrimination certainly merits a place in this true history.
The services of Sunday were finished. Those who, with dill and caraway, had vainly struggled against drowsiness, had waked up with a jerk at the benediction, and moved with their neighbors along the aisles, a slow and sluggish stream. The nearest friends passed out side by side with meekly composed faces, and without greeting each other until they reached the vestibule. So slow and solemn was the progress out of church, that merry James Hardwick averred that he saw Deacon Stone, a short fat man, actually dozing, his eyes softly shutting and opening like a hen's, as he was borne along by the crowd. The Deacon had been known to sleep while he stood up in his pew during prayer, but perhaps James's story was rather apocryphal.
Mark Davenport, of course, had been the object of considerable attention during the day, and at the meeting-house-door numbers of his old acquaintances gathered round him. No one was more cordial in manner than Squire Clamp. His face was wrinkled into what were meant for smiles, and his voice was even smoother and more insinuating than usual. It was only by a strong effort that Mark gulped down his rising indignation, and replied civilly.
Sunday in Innisfield ended at sunset, though labor was not resumed until the next day; but neighbors called upon each other in the twilight, and talked over the sermons of the day, and the affairs of the church and parish. That evening, while Mr. Hardwick's family were sitting around the table reading, a long growl was heard from Caesar at the door, followed by an emphatic "Get out!" The growls grew fiercer, and James went to the door to see what was the matter. Squire Clamp was the luckless man. The dog had seized his coat-tail, and had pulled it forward, so that he stood face to face with the Squire, who was vainly trying to free himself by poking at his adversary with a great baggy umbrella. James sent away the dog with a reprimand, but laughed as he followed the angry man into the house. He always cited this afterwards as a new proof of the sagacity of the grim and uncompromising Caesar.
"S-sorry you've had such a t-time with the dog," said Mr. Hardwick; "he don't g-ginerally bark at pup-people."
"Oh, no matter," said the Squire, contemplating the measure of damage in the skirt of his coat. "A good, sound sermon Mr. Rook gave us to-day. The doctrines of the decrees and sovereignty, and the eternal destruction of the impenitent, were strongly set forth."
"Y-yes, I sp-spose so. I d-don't profit so m-much by that inst-struction, however. I th-think more of the e-every-day religion he u-usually preaches."--Mr. Hardwick trotted one foot with a leg crossed and with an air which showed to his children and to Mark plainly enough how impatient he was of the Squire's beginning so far away from what he came to say.
"Why, you don't doubt these fundamental points?" asked Mr. Clamp.
"No, I don't d-doubt, n-nor I don't th-think much about 'em; they're t-too deep for me, and I ler-let 'em alone. We shall all un-know about these things in God's goo-good time. I th-think more about keepin' peace among n-neighbors, bein' kuh-kindly to the poor, h-helpin' on the cause of eddication, and d-doin' ginerally as I would be done by."--Mr. Hardwick's emphasis could not be mistaken, and Squire Clamp was a little uneasy.
"Oh, yes, Mr. Hardwick," he replied, "all the town knows of your practical religion." Then turning to Mark, he said, blandly, "So you came home yesterday. How long do you propose to stay?"
The young man never had the best control of his temper, and it was now rapidly coming up to the boiling-point. "Mr. Clamp," said he, "if you had asked a pickerel the same question, he would probably tell you that you knew best how and when he came on shore, and that for himself he expected to get back into water as soon as he got the hook out of his jaws."
"I am sorry to see this warmth," said Mr. Clamp; "I trust you have not been put to any trouble."
"Really," said Mark, bitterly, "you have done your best to ruin me in the place where I earn my living, but 'trust I have not been put to any trouble'! Your sympathy is as deep as your sincerity."
"Mark," said Mr. Hardwick, "you're sa-sayin' more than is necess-ssary."
"Indeed, he is quite unjust," rejoined the lawyer. "I saw an alteration in his manner to-day, and for that reason I came here. I prefer to keep the friendship of all men, especially of those of my townsmen and brethren in the church whose piety and talents I so highly respect."
"S-sartinly, th-that's right. I don't like to look around, wh-when I take the ker-cup at the Sacrament, and see any man that I've wronged; an' I don't f-feel comf'table nuther to see anybody der-drinkin' from the same cup that I think has tried to w-wrong me or mine."
"You can save yourself that anxiety about Mr. Clamp, Uncle," said Mark. "He is not so much concerned about our Christian fellowship as he is about his fees. He couldn't live here, if he didn't manage to keep on both sides of every little quarrel in town. Having done me what mischief he could, he wants now to salve the wound over."
"My young friend, what is the reason of this heat?" asked Mr. Clamp, mildly.
"I don't care to talk further," Mark retorted. "I might as well explain the pathology of flesh bruises to a donkey who had maliciously kicked me."
Mr. Clamp wiped his bald head, on which the perspiration was beginning to gather. His stock of pious commonplaces was exhausted, and he saw no prospect of calming Mark's rage, or of making any deep impression on the blacksmith. He therefore rose to depart. "Good evening," said he. "I pray you may become more reasonable, and less disposed to judge harshly of your friend and brother."
Mark turned his back on him. Mr. Hardwick civilly bade him good-night. Lizzy and Anna, who had retreated during the war of words, came back, and the circle round the table was renewed.
"Yer-you'll see one thing," said Mr. Hardwick. "He'll b-bring you, and p'r'aps me, too, afore the church for this talk."
"The sooner, the better," said Mark.
"I d'no," said Mr. Hardwick. "Ef we must live in f-fellowship, a der- diffi-culty in church isn't per-pleasant. But 'tis uncomf'table for straight wood to be ker-corded up with such ker-crooked sticks as him."
[To be continued.]
It is a pleasant June morning out on the Beauport slopes; the breeze comes laden with perfume from shady Mount Lilac; and it is good to bask here in the meadows and look out upon the grand panorama of Quebec, with its beautiful bay sweeping in bold segments of shoreline to the mouth of the River St Charles. The king-bird, too lazy to give chase to his proper quarry, the wavering butterfly, sways to and fro upon a tall weed; and there, at the bend of the brook, sits an old kingfisher on a dead branch, gorged with his morning meal, and regardless of his reflected image in the still pool beneath. The _goguelu_ rises suddenly up from his tuft of grass, and, having sung a few staves of his gurgling song, drops down again like a cricket-ball and is no more seen. Smooth-plumaged wax-wings are pruning their feathers in the tamarac-trees; and high up over the waters of the bay sails a long-winged fish-hawk, taking an extended and generally liberal view of sundry important matters connected with the fishery question.
[Footnote 1: This name is given by the French Canadians to the bobolink or rice bunting. It is an old, I believe an obsolete, French word, and means "braggart."]
Many a year has gone by since I last looked upon this picture, and then it was a winter scene; for it was near the end of March, which is winter enough in this region, and the blue water of the bay there was flagged over with a rough white pavement of crisp snow. I think I see it now, faintly ruled with two lines of sapins, or young fir saplings,--one marking out the winter road to the Island of Orleans, and the other that from Quebec to Montmorency; and this memory recalls to me how it fell upon a certain day, the incidents of which are expanding upon my mind like those dissolving views that come up out of the dark, I set up a camp-fire just where that wood-barge nods drowsily at anchor, about a mile this side of the town. It was a sort of bivouac a man is not likely to forget in a hurry; not that it makes much of a story, after all,--but a trifling scratch will sometimes leave its mark on a man for life. I was quartered in Quebec then; didn't go much into society, though, because I devoted much of my young energies to shooting and fishing, which were worth any expenditure of energy in those days. And so I restricted my evening rounds of duty to one or two houses which were conducted on the always-at-home principle, walking in and hanging up my wide-awake when it suited me, and staying away when it didn't,--which was about the oftener.
In the winter of eighteen hundred and no matter what, I got three months' leave of absence, with the intention of devoting a great portion of it to a long-planned expedition, an invasion of the wild mountain-region lying north of Quebec, towards the head-waters of the Saguenay,--a district seldom disturbed by the presence of civilized man, but abandoned to the semi-barbarous hunter and trapper, and frequented much by that prince of roving bucks, the shy but stately caribou. I need not go into the details of my two-months' hunt. It was like any other expedition of the sort, about which so much information has already been given to the world in the pleasant narratives of the wandering family of MacNimrod. I succeeded in procuring many hairy and horned trophies of trap and rifle, as well as in converting myself from some semblance of respectability into the veriest looking cannibal that ever breakfasted on an underdone enemy. The return from the chase furnished the little adventure I have alluded to,--a very small adventure, but deeply impressed upon a memory now a good deal cut up with tracks and traces of strange beasts of accidents, quaint "vestiges of creation," ineffaceably stamped upon what poor Andrew Romer used to call the "old red sandstone," in playful allusion to what his friends well knew was a heart of hearts.
The snow lay heavy in the woods, wet and heavy with the breath of coming spring, as I tramped out of them one March morning, and found myself on the queen's highway, within short rifle-shot of the rushing Montmorency, whose roar had reached us through the forest an hour or two before. In the early days of our hunt I had been so lucky as to run down and kill a large moose, whose antlered head was a valuable trophy; and so I confided it to the especial charge of my faithful follower, Zachary Hiver, a brulé or half-breed of the Chippewa nation, who had hunted buffaloes with me on the plains of the Saskatchewan and gaffed my salmon in the swift waters of the Mingan and Escoumains. I had promised him powder and lead enough to maintain his rifle for the probable remainder of his earthly hunting- career, if he succeeded in safely conveying to Quebec the hide and horns of the mammoth stag of the forest. These he had concealed, accordingly, in a safe hiding-place, or cache, to be touched at on our return; and now as he emerged from the dark pine copse, with his ropy locks tasselling his flat skull, and a tattered blanket-coat fluttering in ribbons from his brown and brawny chest, his interest in the venture appeared in the careful manner in which he drew after him a long, slender tobaugan, heavily packed with the hard-won proceeds of trap and gun. Foremost among these were displayed the broad antlers of the moose of my affections, whose skin served as a tarpaulin for the remainder of the baggage, round which it was snugly tucked in with thongs of kindred material.
We halted on a broad ledge of rock by the western verge of the bay of the Falls, glad of an opportunity of enjoying my independence to the last, unfettered by the conventionalities for which I was beginning to be imbued with a savage contempt. Here we set up a primitive kitchen-range, and, having feasted upon cutlets of the caribou, scientifically treated by a skewer process with which Zach was familiar, we lounged like "lazy shepherds" in the sun, and the eye of the Indian flashed as I produced from the folds of my sash a leather-covered flask which did not look as if it was meant to contain water. During the weeks of the chase I had been very careful to conceal this treasure from Zach, knowing how helpless an Indian becomes under the influence of the "fire-water"; and as I had had a pull at it myself only two or three times, under circumstances of unusual adversity and hardship, there still remained in it a very respectable allowance for two, from which I subtracted a liberal measure, handing over the balance to Zach, who gulped down the skiltiwauboh with a fiendish grin and a subsequent inhuman grunt. As I lit my pipe after this satisfactory arrangement, the roar of the mighty Montmorency, whirling down its turbulent perpendicular flood behind a half-drawn curtain of green and azure ice, sounded like exquisite music to my ears, and I looked towards Quebec and blinked at its fire-flashing tin spires and house-tops burning through the coppery morning fog, until my mind's eye became telescopic, and my thoughts, unsentimental though I be, reverted to civilized society and its agréments, and particularly to a certain steep-roofed cottage situated on a suburban road, in the boudoirs of which I liked to imagine one pined for my return. If memory has its pleasures, has it not also its glimpses of regret?--and who can say that the former compensate for the latter? Even now I see her as she used to step out on the veranda,--the lithe Indian girl, rivalling the choicest "desert- flower" of Arabia in the rich darkness of her eyes and hair, and in the warm mantling of her golden-ripe complexion,--unutterably graceful in the thorough-bred ease of her elastic movements,--Zosime MacGillivray, perfect type and model of the style and beauty of the brulée. She was the only child of a retired trader of the old North-West Fur Company and his Indian wife; had been partly educated in England; possessed rather more than the then average Colonial allowance of accomplishments; and was, altogether, so much in harmony with my roving forest-inclinations, that I sometimes thought, half seriously, how pleasant and respectable it would be to have one such at the head of one's camp-equipage, and how much nicer a companion she would be on a hunt than that disreputable old scoundrel, Zach Hiver.
"Pack the tobaugan, Zach! The sun will come out strong by and by, and the longer we tarry here, the heavier the snow will be for our stretch to the Citadel. Up, there! lève-toi, cochon!" shouted I, in the elegant terms of address which experience had taught me were the only ones that had any effect upon the stolid sensibilities of the half-breed,--at the same time administering to him a kick that produced a thud and a grunt, as if actually bestowed on the unclean quadruped to which I had just likened him. The ragamuffin was very slow this time in getting the traps together on the tobaugan, and, if I had not attended to the matter myself, the moose trophy, at least, would in all probability have been left to perish, and would never have pointed a moral and adorned a tale, as it now does, in its exalted position among the reminiscences of things past. At length we got under way, and, as a walk over the open plain offered a pleasing variety to a man who had been feeling his way so long through the dim old woods, I determined to descend from the ridge of Beauport, and proceed over the snow-covered surface of the bay, in a bird's-eye line, to our point of destination. Winding down the almost perpendicular declivity, sometimes sliding down on our snow-shoes, with the tobaugan running before us, "on its own hook," at a fearful pace, and sometimes obliged to descend, hand under hand, by the tangled roots and shrubs, we soon found ourselves on the great white winter-prairie of the grand St. Lawrence, upon which I strode forward with renewed energy, steering my course, like the primitive steeple-chasers of my boyhood's home, upon the highest church-tower looming up from the heterogeneous huddle of motley houses that just showed their gable-tops over the low ring of mist which mingled with the smoke of the Lower Town.
After a progress of about five miles, I found I had very materially widened the distance between myself and Zach, who, encumbered by the baggage, and by the spring snow which each moment accumulated in wet heavy cakes upon his snow-shoes, was now a good mile in my rear. This I was surprised at, as he generally outwalked me, even when carrying on his back a heavy load, with perhaps a canoe on his head, cocked-hat fashion, as he was often obliged to do in our fishing-excursions to the northern lakes. It now occurred to me, however, that I had incautiously left the brandy- flask in his charge, and when he came up with me I gathered from his fishy eye, and the thick dribblings of his macaronic gibberish,--which was compounded of sundry Indian dialects and French-Canadian patois, coarsely ground up with bits of broken English,--that the modern Circe, who changes men into beasts, had wrought her spells upon him; a circumstance at which I was terribly annoyed, as foreboding an ignominious entry into the city by back-lane and sally-port, instead of my long- anticipated triumphal progress up St. Louis Street, bearded in splendor, bristling with knife and rifle, and followed by my wild Indian coureur- des-bois, drawing my antlered trophies after him upon the tobaugan as upon a festival car.
"Kaween nishishin! kaw-ween!" howled the big monster, in his mixed-pickle macaronio,--"je me sens saisi du mal-aux-raquettes, je ne pouvons plus. Why you go so dam fast, when hot sun he make snow for tire, eh? Sacr-r-ré raquettes! il me semble qu'ils se grossissent de plus en plus à chaque démarche. Stop for smoke, eh?--v'là! good place for camp away there, kitchee hogeemaus endaut, big chief's house may-be!" grinned he, as he indicated with Indian instinct and a wavering finger a structure of some kind that peered through the fog at a short distance on our left.
We were now within about a mile of Quebec. The Indian's intoxication had increased to a ludicrous extent, so that to have ventured into the town with him must have resulted in a reckless exposure of myself to the just obloquy and derision of the public; while, on the other hand, if I left him alone upon the wide world of ice, and dragged the tobaugan to town myself, the unfortunate brulé must inevitably have stepped into some treacherous snow-drift or air-hole, and thus miserably perished. So I made up my mind for a camp on the ice; and, diverging from our course in the direction pointed out by the Indian, we soon arrived at the object indicated by him, which proved to be a stout framework about twelve feet square, constructed of good heavy timber solidly covered with deal boarding, and conveying indubitable evidence, to my thinking, of the remains of one of the cabanes or shanties commonly erected on the ice by those engaged in the "tommy-cod" fishery,--portable structures, so fitted together as to admit of being put up and removed piecemeal, to suit the convenience of their proprietors. I blessed mentally the careless individual who had thus unconsciously provided for our especial shelter; and as the wind had now suddenly arisen sharp from the west, driving the fog before it with clouds of fine drifting snow, I was glad to get under the lee of the providential wall, in the hospitable shelter of which, before two minutes had elapsed, "Stephano, my drunken butler," was snoring away like a phalanx of bullfrogs, with his head bolstered up somehow between the great moose-horns, and his brawny limbs rolled carelessly in the warm but somewhat unsavory skin of the dead monarch of the forest. I gloried in his calm repose; for the day was yet young, and I flattered myself that a three-hours' snooze would restore his muddled intellects to their normal mediocrity of useful instinct, and that I might still achieve my triumphal entry into the city,--a procession I had been so much in the habit of picturing to myself over the nocturnal camp-fire, that it had become a sort of nightmare with me. Indeed, I had idealized it roughly in my pocket-book, intending to transfer the sketches, for elaboration on canvas, to Tankerville, the regimental Landseer, whose menagerie of living models, consisting of two bears, one calf-moose, one loup-cervier, three bloated raccoons, and a bald eagle, formed at once the terror and delight of the rising generation of the barracks.
Having got up a small fire with the assistance of the chips and scraps of wood that were plentifully scattered around, I placed my snow-shoes one on top of the other, and sat down on them,--a sort of preparatory step in my transition to civilization, for they had somewhat the effect of a cane- bottomed chair minus the legs and without a back. Then I filled my short black pipe from the seal-skin tobacco-pouch, the contents of which had so often assuaged my troubled spirit when I brooded over griefs which then were immature, if not imaginary. It was a very pleasant smoke, I recollect,--so pleasant, that I rather congratulated myself upon my position; the only drawback to it being that I was shut out from a view of the town, as the wind and drift rendered it indispensable for comfort in smoking that I should keep strictly to leeward of my bulwark. Tobacco is notoriously a promoter of reflection; there must be something essentially retrospective in the nature of the weed. I retired upon the days of my boyhood, my legs and feet becoming clairvoyant of the corduroys and highlows of that happy period of my existence, as the revolving curls of pale smoke exhibited to me, with marvellous fidelity, many quaint successive tableaux of the old familiar scenes of home,--sentimental, some of them,--comic, others,--like the domestic incidents revealed with exaggerations on the hazy field of a magic-lantern. I thought of my poor mother, and of the excellent parting advice she gave me,--but more particularly of the night-caps with strings, which she extracted such a solemn promise from me to wear carefully every night in all climates, and which, on the second evening of my sojourn in barracks, were so unceremoniously reduced to ashes in a noisy auto-da-fé. These retrospective pictures were succeeded by others of more modern date, coming round in a progressive series, until I had painted myself up to within a few weeks of my present position, the foreground of my existence. Then I remembered promises made by me of contributions to a certain album,--further contributions,--for I had already furnished several pages of it with food for mind and eye in the form of melancholy verses and "funny" sketches, with brief dramatic dialogues beneath the latter, to elucidate the "story." I particularly recollected having volunteered a translation or imitation of a pretty song in Ruy Blas; and as the fit was upon me, I produced my pocketbook, to commit to paper a version of it which I had mentally devised. The leaves of my book were all filled, however; some with memoranda,--a sort of savage diary it was,--some with sketches of scenes in the wilderness: there was not a corner vacant. Turning towards the planking of my bulwark, I perceived that it was smoothly planed and clean, and to work on it I went, pencil in hand. First I wrote "Zosime MacGillivray," in several different styles of chirography, flourished and plain, and even in old text. Then I sketched out a rough design for an ornamental heading, with a wreath of flowers encircling the words "To Zozzy," and beneath this work of Art I inscribed the effort of my muse, which ran thus:--
Fields and forests rejoice
In their silver-toned throng;
I hear but the voice
Of the bird in thy song!
In April's glad shower
Flash petals and leaves,
Less bright than the flower
Round thy heart that weaves!
Stars waken, stars slumber,
Stars wink in the sky,
Bright numberless number;
But none like thine eye!
For bird-song and flower
And star from above
Combine in thy bower;
Their union is love!
My mind being considerably relieved by this gush of sentiment, I felt myself entitled to unbend a little, and, turning my attention to artistic pursuits, principally of a humorous character, I developed successively many long-pent-up imaginings in the way of severe studies of sundry garrison notables. There was "Bendigo" Phillips, with boxing-gloves fearfully brandished, appearing in the attitude in which he polished off young Thurlow of the R.A., under the pretence of giving him a lesson in the noble art of self-defence, but in reality to revenge himself upon him for an ill-timed interference in a certain affaire du coeur. The agony of young Thurlow, pretending to look pleased, was depicted by a very successful stroke of Art. To the extreme right you might have beheld Vegetable Warren, the staff-surgeon, slightly exaggerated in the semblance of a South-Down wether nibbling at a gigantic Swedish turnip. Written lampoons of the fiercest character accompanied the illustrations. But my boldest effort was an atrocious and libellous cartoon of the commandant of the garrison, popularly known as "Old Wabbles,"--I believe from the preternatural manner in which his wide Esquimaux boots vacillated about his long, lean shanks. This chef d'oeuvre was executed upon a rather large scale, and I imparted considerable force and breadth to the design by "coaling in" the shadows with a charred stick. Then calling color to my aid, as far as my limited means admitted, I scraped from the edges of the moose-hide a portion of the red-streaked fat, and, having impasted therewith the bacchanalian nose of my subject, I stepped back a few paces to contemplate the effect. So ludicrous was the resemblance, that I laughed outright in the pride of my success,--a transient hilarity, nipped suddenly in the bud by the loud boom of a cannon, accompanied rather than followed by a rushing sound a few feet above my head, and a thundering bump and splutter upon the ice some thirty or forty yards beyond me, as the heavy shot skipped and ricochetted away with receding bounds to its vanishing-point somewhere in the neighborhood of the Island of Orleans. Two strides to the front, and a glance at the broad, black ring emblazoned on the hitherto disregarded face of my bulwark, and the truth flashed upon my staggering senses.
I was encamped in the lee of the bran-new artillery target, and they were just commencing practice, on this fine bright afternoon, by pitching thirty-two-pound shot into and about it, at intervals--as I pretty well knew--of distressingly uncertain duration. With frantic strength I grasped the Indian by the neck, and, plunging madly through the snow, dragged him after me a few paces in the direction of our former track; but, hampered as he was by the moose-trappings, the weight was too much for me, and I dropped him, instinctively continuing to run with breathless speed, until, having gained a considerable distance away from any probable line of fire, I flung myself down upon the snow, and was somewhat startled at finding Zach very close upon my tracks, tearing along on all fours with a vague sense of danger of some kind, and looking, in his strange envelope, like an infuriated bull-moose in the act of charging a hunter. A shot struck the corner of the target just as we got away from it, slightly splintering it, so as to give the bewildered Indian a pleasant practical lesson in the science of gunnery and fortification.
Two minutes elapsed,--three minutes,--five minutes,--not another shot; but it might commence again at any moment, and I stood at a respectful distance from the danger, uncertain what course to pursue for the recovery of my traps, all of which, rifle, snow-shoes, and tobaugan loaded with spoils, lay in pledge with the two-faced friend whose treacherous shelter had no longer any charm for me, when I beheld several sleighs approaching us from the town at a fearful pace, in the foremost of which, when within range of rifle, I recognized Old Wabbles, the commandant.
"Who the Devil are you?" shouted he, as he drove right at us. "Two Indians, ha!--somebody said it was one Indian with a moose after him, a man and a moose. Where's Thurlow?--he had the telescope, and asserted there was a man running round the target and a moose after him. I don't see the moose." Zach had dropped the hide and horns from his "recreant limbs," and was seated solemnly upon the snow, in all the majesty of his native dirt.
"By Jove, it's Kennedy!" cried Tankerville, whose artistical eye detected me through my hirsute and fluttering disguise. "What a picturesque object!--I congratulate you, old fellow!--easiest and pleasantest way in the world of making a living!--lose no time about it, but send in your papers at once!--continue assiduously to neglect your person, and you're worth a guinea an hour for the rest of your prime, as a living model on the full pay of the Academies!"
I was soon bewildered by a torrent of inquiries from all sides: as to how I came behind the target,--what success I had had in the woods,--how many miles I had come to-day,--whether I had got the martin-skin I had promised to this one, and the silver fox I undertook to trap for that,--when, suddenly, a diversion was created by a roar from Phillips, who had proceeded to inspect my spoils behind the target, and now stood looking at my portrait-gallery of living celebrities, his great chest heaving with laughter; and before I could satisfy my inquiring friends, the whole crowd had rushed pell-mell to the exhibition.
"Caught, by all that's lovely!" shouted Phillips, repeating my verses at the top of his voice,--
"The bird-song and flower
And star from above
Combine in thy bower;
Their union is love!"
"Ritoorala loorala loorala loo, ritoorala loorala loorala loo!" chorused everybody, as he sang the last verse to the vulgar melody of 'Tatter Jack Welch,' knocking the poetry out of my constitution at once and forever, like the ashes out of a pipe. "Hooray for Miss Mac! Who should have thought it, Darby?"--That was my pet name in the regiment.
"How like!--how very like!--That's Warren there, nibbling the turnip. And there's Thurlow,--ha! ha! ha! how good! And that--that--that's me, by Jingo!--he he! he! he!--not so good that, somehow,--neck too long by half a foot. But the Colonel!--only look at his boots!--He must'n't see this, though, by Jove!--Choke the Colonel off, boys!--take him round to the front!--do something!" whispered good-natured Symonds, anxious to keep me clear of the scrape.
But it was too late. The last objects that met my view were the ghastly legs of the Commandant, as he strode through the circle in front of my Art-exhibition. I saw no more. A soldier is but a mortal man. Rushing to the nearest cariole,--it was the Commandant's,--I leaped into it, and, lashing the horse furiously towards the town, never pulled rein until I got up to my long-deserted quarters in the Citadel. There I barricaded myself into my own room, directing my servant to proceed to the target for my scattered property. I had still a month's leave of absence before me, availing myself of which, I started next morning for New York, subsequently obtained an extension of leave, sailed for England, and there negotiating an exchange from a regiment whose facings no longer suited my taste for colors, I soon found myself gazetted into a less objectionable one lying at Corfu.
I have never seen Tankerville's famous picture of my triumphal entry into Quebec.
The dead leaves their rich mosaics,
Of olive and gold and brown,
Had laid on the rain-wet pavements,
Through all the embowered town.
They were washed by the Autumn tempest,
They were trod by hurrying feet,
And the maids came out with their besoms
And swept them into the street,
To be crushed and lost forever
'Neath the wheels, in the black mire lost,--
The Summer's precious darlings,
She nurtured at such cost!
Must I see in the leaves a symbol
Of the fate which awaiteth you?
Again has come the Spring-time,
With the crocus's golden bloom,
With the smell of the fresh-turned earth-mould,
And the violet's perfume.
--"I have only enriched my garden
With the black mire from the street."
What is a Gaucho?
That is precisely what I am going to tell you.
Take my hand, if you please. Shod with the shoes of swiftness, we have annihilated space and time. We are standing in the centre of a boundless plain. Look north and south and east and west: for five hundred miles beyond the limit of your vision, the scarcely undulating level stretches on either hand. Miles, leagues, away from us, the green of the torrid grass is melting into a misty dun; still further miles, and the misty dun has faded to a shadowy blue; more miles, it rounds at last away into the sky. A hundred miles behind us lies the nearest village; two hundred in another direction will bring you to the nearest town. The swiftest horse may gallop for a day and night unswervingly, and still not reach a dwelling-place of man. We are placed in the midst of a vast, unpeopled circle, whose radii measure a thousand miles.
But see! a cloud arises in the South. Swiftly it rolls towards us; behind it there is tumult and alarm. The ground trembles at its approach; the air is shaken by the bellowing that it covers. Quick! let us stand aside! for, as the haze is lifted, we can see the hurrying forms of a thousand cattle, speeding with lowered horns and fiery eyes across the plain. Fortunately, they do not observe our presence; were it otherwise, we should be trampled or gored to death in the twinkling of an eye. Onward they rush; at last the hindmost animals have passed; and see, behind them all there scours a man!
He glances at us, as he rushes by, and determines to give us a specimen of his only art. Shaking his long, wild locks, as he rises in the stirrup and presses his horse to its maddest gallop, he snatches from his saddle-bow the loop of a coil of rope, whirls it in his right hand for an instant, then hurls it, singing through the air, a distance of fifty paces. A jerk and a strain,--a bellow and a convulsive leap,--his lasso is fast around the horns of a bull in the galloping herd. The horseman flashes a murderous knife from his belt, winds himself up to the plunging beast, severs at one swoop the tendon of its hind leg, and buries the point of his weapon in the victim's spinal marrow. It falls dead. The man, my friend, is a Gaucho; and we are standing on the Pampas of the Argentine Republic.
Let us examine this dexterous wielder of the knife and cord. He, Juan de Dios! Come hither, O Centaur of the boundless cattle-plains! We will not ask you to dismount,--for that you never do, we know, except to eat and sleep, or when your horse falls dead, or tumbles into a bizcachero; but we want to have a look at your savage self, and the appurtenances thereunto belonging.
And first, you say, the meaning of his name. The title, Gaucho, is applied to the descendants of the early Spanish colonists, whose homes are on the Pampa, instead of in the town,--to the rich estanciero, or owner of square leagues of cattle, in common with the savage herdsman whom he employs,--to Generals and Dictators, as well as to the most ragged Pampa- Cossack in their pay. Our language is incapable of expressing the idea conveyed by this term; and the Western qualification "backwoodsman" is perhaps the nearest approach to a synonyme that we can attain.
The head of our swarthy friend is covered with a species of Neapolitan cap, (let me confess, in a parenthesis, that my ideas of such head- coverings are derived from the costume of graceful Signor Brignoli in "Masaniello,") which was once, in all probability, of scarlet hue, but now almost rivals in color the jet-black locks which it confines. His face-- well, we will pass that over, and, on our return to civilized life, will refer the curious inquirer for a fac-simile to the first best painting of Salvator, there to select at pleasure the most ferocious bandit countenance that he can find. And now the remainder of his person. He wears an open jacket of dirt-crusted serge, covered in front with a gorgeous eruption of plated buttons, and a waistcoat of the same material, adorned with equal profuseness, and showing at the neck a substratum of dubious crimson, supposed to be a flannel shirt. So far, you may say, there is nothing suspicious or very outlandish about his rig; but turpiter desinit formosus superne,--there is something highly remarkable á continuacion. Do you see that blanket which is drawn tightly up, fore and aft, toward his waist, and, there confined by means of a belt which his querida has richly ornamented for him, falls over in uneven folds like an abbreviated kilt? That is the famous chiripá, or Gaucho petticoat, which, like the bracae of the Northern barbarians some nineteen hundred years ago, distinguishes him from the inhabitants of civilized communities. Below the chiripá, his limbs are cased in calzoncillos, stout cotton drawers or pantalets, which terminate in a fringe (you should see the elaborate worsted-work that adorns the hem of his gala-pair) an inch or two above the ankle. His feet are thrust into a pair of botas de potro, or colt's-foot boots, manufactured from the hide of a colt's fore-leg, which he strips off whole, chafes in his hand until it becomes pliable and soft, sews up at the lower extremity,--and puts on, the best riding-boot that the habitable world can show. Add a monstrous spur to each heel of this chaussure, and you will have fully equipped the worthy Juan de Dios for active service.--But stay! his accoutrements! We must not forget that Birmingham-made butcher-knife, which, for a dozen years, has never been for a moment beyond his reach; nor the coiling lasso, and the bolas, or balls of iron, fastened at each end of a thong of hide, which he can hurl a distance of sixty feet, and inextricably entangle around the legs of beast or man; nor the recado, or saddle, his only seat by day, and his pillow when he throws himself upon the ground to sleep under the canopy of heaven. Neither must we omit the mate gourd which dangles at his waist, in readiness to receive its infusion of yerba, or Paraguay tea, which he sucks through that tin tube, called bombilla, and looking for all the world like the broken spout of an oil- can with a couple of pieces of nutmeg-grater soldered on, as strainers, at the lower end; nor the string of sapless charque beef, nor the pouchful of villanous tobacco, nor the paper for manufacturing it into cigarritos, nor the cow's-horn filled with tinder, and the flint and steel attached. Thus mounted, clothed, and equipped, he is ready for a gallop of a thousand leagues.
He is a strange individual, this Gaucho Juan. Born in a hut built of mud and maize-stalks somewhere on the superficies of these limitless plains, he differs little, in the first two years of his existence, from peasant babies all the world over; but so soon as he can walk, he becomes an equestrian. By the time he is four years old there is scarcely a colt in all the Argentine that he will not fearlessly mount; at six, he whirls a miniature lasso around the horns of every goat or ram he meets. In those important years when our American youth are shyly beginning to claim the title of young men, and are spending anxious hours before the mirror in contemplation of the slowly-coming down upon their lip, young Juan (who never saw a dozen printed books, and perhaps has only heard of looking- glasses) is galloping, like a portion of the beast he rides, over a thousand miles of prairie, lassoing cattle, ostriches, and guanacos, fighting single-handed with the jaguar, or lying stiff and stark behind the heels of some plunging colt that he has too carelessly bestrid.
At twenty-one he is in his glory. Then we must look for him in the pulperías, the bar-rooms of the Pampas, whither he repairs on Sundays and fiestas, to get drunk on aguardiente or on Paraguay rum. There you may see him seated, listening open-mouthed to the cantor, or Gaucho troubadour, as he sings the marvellous deeds of some desert hero, persecuted, unfortunately, by the myrmidons of justice for the numerous misfortunes (Anglicé, murders) upon his head,--or narrates in impassioned strain, to the accompaniment of his guitar, the circumstances of one in which he has borne a part himself,--or chants the frightful end of the Gaucho Attila, Quiroga, and the punishment that overtook his murderer, the daring Santos Perez. When the song is over, the cards are dealt. Seated upon a dried bull's-hide, each man with his unsheathed knife placed ostentatiously at his side, the jolly Gauchos commence their game. Suddenly Manuel exclaims, that Pedro or Estanislao or Antonio is playing false. Down fly the cards; up flash the blades; a ring is formed. Manuel, to tell the truth, has accused his friend Pedro only for the sake of a little sport; he has never marked a man yet, and thinks it high time that that honor were attained. So the sparks fly from the flashing blades, and Pedro's nose has got another gash in it, and Manuel is bleeding in a dozen places, but he will not give in just yet. Unfortunate Gaucho! Pedro the next moment slips in a sticky pool of his own blood, and Manuel's knife is buried in his heart! "He is killed! Manuel has had a misfortune!" exclaim the ring; "fly, Manuel, fly!" In another minute, and just as the vigilantes are throwing themselves upon their horses to pursue him, he has galloped out of sight.
Twenty miles from the pulpería he draws rein, dismounts, wipes his bloody knife on the grass, and slices off a collop of charque, which he munches composedly for his supper. Very likely this misfortune will make him a Gaucho malo. The Gaucho malo is an outlaw, at home only in the desert, intangible as the wind, sanguinary, remorseless, swift. His brethren of the estancia pronounce his name occasionally, but in lowered tones, and with a mixture of terror and respect; he is looked up to by them as a sort of higher being. His home is a movable point upon an area of twenty thousand square miles; his horse, the finest steed that he can find upon the Pampas between Buenos Ayres and the Andes, between the Gran Chaco and Cape Horn; his food, the first beef that he captures with his lasso; his dainties, the tongues of cows which he kills, and abandons, when he has stripped them of his favorite titbit, to the birds of prey. Sometimes he dashes into a village, drinks a gourdful of aguardiente with the admiring guests at the pulpería, and spurs away again into obscurity, until at length the increasing number of his desgracias tempts the mounted emissaries of justice to pursue him, in the hope of extra reward. If suddenly beset by seven or eight of these desert police, the Gaucho malo slashes right and left with his redoubted knife,--kills one, maims another, wounds them all. Perhaps he reaches his horse and is off and away amid a shower of harmless balls;--or he is taken; in which case, all that remains, the day after, of the Gaucho malo, is a lump of soulless clay.
Then there is the guide, or vaqueano. This man, as one who knows him well informs us, is a grave and reserved Gaucho, who knows by heart the peculiarities of twenty thousand leagues of mountain, wood, and plain! He is the only map that an Argentinian general takes with him in a campaign; and the vaqueano is never absent from his side. No plan is formed without his concurrence. The army's fate, the success of a battle, the conquest of a province, is entirely dependent upon his integrity and skill; and, strange to say, there is scarcely an instance on record of treachery on the part of a vaqueano. He meets a pathway which crosses the road upon which he is travelling, and he can tell you the exact distance of the remote watering-place to which it leads; if he meet with a thousand similar pathways in a journey of five hundred miles, it will still be the same. He can point out the fords of a hundred rivers; he can guide you in safety through a hundred trackless woods. Stand with him at midnight on the Pampa,--let the track be lost,--no moon or stars; the vaqueano quietly dismounts, examines the foliage of the trees, if any are near, and if there are none, plucks from the ground a handful of roots, chews them, smells and tastes the soil, and tells you that so many hours' travel due north or south will bring you to your destination. Do not doubt him; he is infallible.
A mere vaqueano was General Rivera of Uruguay,--but he knew every tree, every hillock, every dell, in a region extending over more than 70,000 square miles! Without his aid, Brazil would have been powerless in the Banda Oriental; without his aid, the Argentinians would never have triumphed over Brazil. As a smuggler in 1804, as a custom-house officer a few years later, as a patriot, a freebooter, a Brazilian general, an Argentinian commander, as President of Uruguay against Lavalleja, as an outlaw against General Oribe, and finally against Rosas, allied with Oribe, as champion of the Banda Oriental del Uruguay, Rivera had certainly ample opportunities for perfecting himself in that study of which he was the ardent devotee.
Cooper has told us how and by what signs, in years that have forever faded, the Huron tracked his flying foe through the forests of the North; we read of Cuban bloodhounds, and of their frightful baying on the scent of the wretched maroon; we know how the Bedouin follows his tribe over pathless sands;--and yet all these are bunglers, in comparison with the Gaucho rastreador!
In the interior of the Argentine every Gaucho is a trailer or rastreador. On those vast feeding-grounds of a million cattle, whose tracks intersect each other in every direction, the herdsman can distinguish with unerring accuracy the footprints of his own peculiar charge. When an animal is missing from the herd, he throws himself upon his horse, gallops to the spot where he remembers having seen it last, gazes for a moment upon the trampled soil, and then shoots off for miles across the waste. Every now and then he halts, surveys the trail, and again speeds onward in pursuit. At last he reaches the limits of another estancia, and the pasturage of a stranger herd. His eagle eye singles out at a glance the estray; rising in his stirrup, he whirls the lasso for a moment above his head, launches it through the air, and coolly drags the recalcitrant beast away on the homeward trail. He is nothing but a common, comparatively unskilled, rastreador.
The official trailer is of another stamp. Like his kinsman, the vaqueano, he is a personage well convinced of his own importance; grave, reserved, taciturn, whose word is law. Such a one was the famous Calébar, the dreaded thief-taker of the Pampas, the Vidocq of Buenos Ayres. This man during more than forty years exercised his profession in the Republic, and a few years since was living, at an advanced age, not far from Buenos Ayres. There appeared to be concentrated in him the acuteness and keen perceptions of all the brethren of his craft; it was impossible to deceive him; no one whose trail he had once beheld could hope to escape discovery. An adventurous vagabond once entered his house, during his temporary absence on a journey to Buenos Ayres, and purloined his best saddle. When the robbery was discovered, his wife covered the robber's trail with a kneading-trough. Two months later Calébar returned, and was shown the almost obliterated footprint. Months rolled by; the saddle was apparently forgotten; but a year and a half later, as the rastreador was again at Buenos Ayres, a footprint in the street attracted his notice. He followed the trail; passed from street to street and from plaza to plaza, and finally entering a house in the suburbs, laid his hand upon the begrimed and worn-out saddle which had once been his own montura de fiesta!
In 1830, a prisoner, awaiting the death-penalty, effected his escape from jail. Calébar, with a detachment of soldiers, was put upon the scent. Expecting this, and knowing that the gallows lay behind him, the fugitive had adopted every expedient for baffling his pursuers: he had walked long distances upon tiptoe; had scrambled along walls; had walked backwards, crawled, doubled, leaped; but all in vain! Calébar's blood was up; his reputation was at stake; to fail now would be an indelible disgrace. If now and then he found himself at fault, he as often recovered the trail, until the bank of a water-course was reached, to which the flying criminal had taken. The trail was lost; the soldiers would have turned back; but Calébar had no such thought. He patiently followed the course of the acequia for a few rods, and suddenly halting, said to his companions, "Here is the spot at which he left the canal; there is no trail,--not a footprint,--but do you see those drops of water upon the grass?" With this slight clue they were led towards a vineyard. Calébar examined it at every side, and bade the soldiers enter, saying, "He is there!" The men obeyed him, but shortly reported that no living being was within the walls. "He is there!" quietly reiterated Calébar; and, in fact, a second more thorough examination resulted in the capture of the trembling fugitive, who was executed on the following day.--There can be no doubt regarding the literal exactness of this anecdote.
At another time, we are told, a party of political prisoners, incarcerated by General Rosas, had contrived a plan of escape, in which they were to be aided by friends outside. When all was ready, one of the party suddenly exclaimed,--
"But Calébar! you forget him!"
"Calébar!" echoed his friends; "true, it is useless to escape while he can pursue us!"
Nor was any flight attempted until the dreaded trailer had been bribed to fall ill for a few days, when the prisoners succeeded in making good their escape.
He who would learn more of Calébar and his brother-trailers, let him procure a copy of the little work that now lies before us, in the shape of a tattered duo-decimo, which has come to us across the Andes and around Cape Horn, from the most secluded corner of the Argentine Confederation. Badly printed and barbarously bound, this "Life of Juan Facundo Quiroga" is nevertheless replete with the evidence of genius, and bears the stamp of a generously-cultivated mind. Its author, indeed, the poet-patriot- philosopher, Don Domingo F. Sarmiento, may be called the Lamartine of South America, whose eventful career may some day invite us to an examination. Suffice it now to say, that he was expelled by Rosas in 1840 from Buenos Ayres, and that he took his way to Chile, with the intention in that hospitable republic of devoting his pen to the service of his oppressed country. At the baths of Zonda he wrote with charcoal, under a delineation of the national arms: On ne tue point les idées! which inscription, having been reported to the Gaucho chieftain, a committee was appointed to decipher and translate it. When the wording of the significant hint was conveyed to Rosas, he exclaimed,--"Well, what does it mean?" The answer was conveyed to him in 1852; and the sentence serves as epigraph to the present life of his associate and victim, Facundo Quiroga.
[Footnote 1: Vida de Juan Facundo Quiroga, etc., por Domingo F. Sarmiento. Santiago, 1845.]
In this extraordinary character we see the quintessence of that desert- life some types of which we have endeavored to delineate. As one who, rising from the lowest station to heights of uncontrolled power, as a representative of a class of rulers unfortunately too common in the republics that descend from Spain, and as a remarkable instance of brutal force and barbaric stubbornness triumphing over reason, science, education, and, in a word, civilization, he is admirably portrayed by Sr. Sarmiento. Ours be the task to condense into a few pages the story of his life and death.
The Argentine province of La Rioja embraces vast tracts of sandy desert. Destitute of rivers, bare of trees, it is only by means of artificial and scanty irrigation that the peasant can cultivate a narrow strip of land. Inclosed by these arid wastes lies, nevertheless, a fertile region entitled the Plains, which, in despite of its name, is broken by ridges of hills, and supports a luxuriant vegetation with pastures trodden by unnumbered herds. The character of the people is Oriental; their appearance actually recalls, as we are told, that of the ancient dwellers about Jerusalem; their very customs have rather an Arabic than a Spanish tinge.
Somewhere upon these Llanos, and toward the close of the eighteenth century, Don Prudencio Quiroga, as a well-to-do estanciero or grazier, was gladdened (doubtless) by the birth of a lusty son. He called him Juan Facundo. For the first few years of his existence, we may safely believe, the future general was scarcely distinguishable from a common baby. Obstinate he doubtless was, and fierce and cruel in his tiny way; were his mother still alive, the good woman could doubtless tell us of many a bitter moment spent in lamenting her infant's waywardness; but we hear nothing of him until the year 1799, when he was sent to San Juan, a town then celebrated for its schools and learning, to acquire the rudiments of knowledge. At the age of eleven the boy already manifested the character of the future man. Solitary, disdainful, rebellious, his intercourse with his schoolfellows was limited to the interchange of blows, his only amusement lay in the annoyance of those with whom he was brought in contact. He is already a perfect Gaucho; can wield the lasso, and the bolas, and the knife; is a fearless ginete, a consummate horseman. One day at school, the master, irritated beyond endurance, exhibits a new rod, bought expressly, so he says, "for flogging Facundo." When the boy is called up to recite, he blunders, stammers, hesitates, on purpose. Down comes the rod; with a vigorous kick Facundo upsets the pedagogue's rickety throne, and takes to his heels. After a three-days' search, he is discovered secreted in a vineyard outside the town.
This little incident, of so trifling import at the time, was remembered in after years as an early indication of the ferocious and uncontrollable caudillo's character. But it was soon eclipsed by the reckless deeds that followed each other in quick succession between his fifteenth and twentieth years. He speedily became notorious in the little town for his wild moroseness, for his savage ferocity when excited, for his inordinate love of cards. Gaming, a passion with many, was a necessary of life to him; it was the only pursuit to which he was ever constant; it gave rise to the quarrel in which, while yet a schoolboy, he for the first time spilt blood.
By and by we lose sight of the student of San Juan. He has absolutely sunk out of sight. Yet, if we peer into filthy pulperías here and there between San Luis and San Juan, we may catch a glimpse of a shaggy, swarthy savage, gambling, gambling as if for life; and we may also hear of more than one affray in which his dagger has "come home richer than it went." A little later, the son of wealthy Don Prudencio has become--not a common laborer--but a comrade of common laborers. He chooses the most toilsome, the most unintellectual, but, at the same time, the most remunerative handicraft,--that of the tapiador, or builder of mud walls. At San Juan, in the orchard of the Godoys,--at Fiambalá, in La Rioja, in the city of Mendoza,--they will show you walls which the hands of General Facundo Quiroga, Comandante de Campaña, etc., etc., put together. Wherever he works, he is noted for the ascendency which he maintains over the other peons. They are entirely subject to his will; they do nothing without his advice; he is worth, say his employers, a dozen overseers. Ah, he is yet to rule on a larger scale!
Did these people ever think,--as they watched the sombre, stubborn Gaucho sweating over a tapia, subjecting a drove of peons to his authority, or, stretched upon a hide, growing ferocious as the luck went against him at cards,--that here was one of those forces which mould or overturn the world? Could it ever have occurred to the Godoys of San Juan, to the worthy municipality of Mendoza, that this scowling savage was yet to place his heel upon their prostrate forms, and most thoroughly to exhibit, through weary, sanguinary years, the reality of that tremendous saying,-- "The State? I am the State!"?
Doubtless no. Little as the comrades of Maximin imagined that the truculent Goth was yet to wear the blood-stained purple, little as the clients of Robespierre dreamed of the vortex toward which he was being insensibly hurried by the stream of years, did the men, whose names are thrown out from their obscurity by the glare of his misdeeds, conceive that their fortunes, their lives, all things but their souls, were shortly to depend upon the capricious breath of this servant who so quietly pounds away upon their mud inclosures.
He does not long, however, remain the companion of peons. Eighteen hundred and ten has come, bringing with it liberty, and bloodshed, and universal discord. The sun of May beams down upon a desolated land. For the mild, although repressive viceregal sway is substituted that of a swarm of military chieftains, who, fighting as patriots against Liniers and his ill-fated troops, as rivals with each other, or as montanero-freebooters against all combined, swept the plains with their harrying lancers from the seacoast to the base of the Cordillera.
In this period of anarchy we catch another glimpse of Juan Facundo. He has worked his way down to Buenos Ayres, nine hundred miles from home, and enlists in the regiment of Arribeños, raised by his countryman, General Ocampo, to take part in the liberation of Chile. But even the infinitesimal degree of discipline to which his fellow-soldiers had been reduced was too much for his wild spirit; already he feels that command, and not obedience, is his birthright; there is soon a vacancy in the ranks.
With three companions Quiroga took to the desert. He was followed and overtaken by an armed detachment, or partida; summoned to surrender; the odds are overpowering. But this man bids defiance to the world; he is yet, in this very region, to rout well-appointed and disciplined armies with a handful of men; and he engages the partida. A sanguinary conflict is the result, in which Quiroga, slaying four or five of his assailants, comes off victorious, and pursues his journey in the teeth of other bands which are ordered to arrest him. He reaches his native plains, and, after a flying visit to his parents, we again lose sight of the Gaucho malo. Blurred rumors of his actions have, indeed, been preserved; accounts of brutality toward his gray-haired father, of burnings of the dwelling in which he first saw the light, of endless gaming, and plentiful shedding of blood; but we hear nothing positive concerning him until the year 1818. Somewhere in that year he determines to join the band of freebooters under Ramirez, which was then devastating the eastern provinces. And here--O deep designs of Fate!--the very means intended to check his mad career serve only to accelerate its development. Dupuis, governor of San Luis, through which province he is passing on his way to join Ramirez, arrests the Gaucho malo, and throws him into the common jail, there to rot or starve as Fortune may direct.
But she had other things in store for him. A number of Spanish officers, captured by San Martin in Chile, were confined within the same walls. Goaded to the energy of despair by their sufferings, and convinced that after all they could die no more than once, the Spaniards rose one day, broke open the doors of their prison, and proceeded to that part of the building where the common malefactors, and among them Juan Facundo, were confined. No sooner was Facundo set at liberty, than he snatched the bolt of the prison-gate, from the very hand which had just withdrawn it to set him free, crushed the Spaniard's skull with the heavy iron, and swung it right and left, until, according to his own statement, made at a later date, no less than fourteen corpses were stiffening on the ground. His example incited his companions to aid him in subduing the revolt of their fellow-prisoners; and, as a reward for "loyal and heroic conduct," he was restored to his privileges as a citizen.
Thus, in the energetic language of his biographer, was his name ennobled, and cleansed, but with blood, from the stains that defiled it. Persecuted no longer, nay, even caressed by the government, he returned to his native plains, to stalk with added haughtiness and new titles to esteem among his brother Gauchos of La Rioja.
Having in this manner taken a rapid survey of the most salient points in his private career up to the year 1820, we may pause for a moment, before studying his public life, to glance at the condition of his native country in the first decade of its independence. The partial separation from Spain, which was effected on the 25th May, 1810, was followed by a long and bloody struggle, in all the southern provinces, between the royal forces and the adherents of the Provisional Junta. Such framework of government as had been in existence was practically annihilated, and the various provinces of the late Viceroyalty of Buenos Ayres fell a prey to the military chieftains who could attract around them the largest number of Gaucho cavalry,--while civilization, commerce, and every peaceful art, declined at a rapid rate. No alteration in this state of affairs was effected by the final Declaration of Independence, made at Tucuman, July 9, 1816; and in 1820, Buenos Ayres, the seat of the government which claimed to be supreme, was seized by a confederacy of the provincial chiefs, who secured, by the destruction of the Directorial Government, complete and unchallenged independence for themselves. During this anarchical period, the famous Artigas was harrying the Banda Oriental; Rosas and Lopez were preparing for their blood-stained careers; Bustos, Ibarra, and a host of other caudillos, ruled the interior provinces; and Juan Facundo Quiroga was raised to irresponsible power.
In his native province of La Rioja the mastery had for many years been disputed by two powerful houses, the Ocampos and the Dávilas, both descended from noble families in Spain. In the year 1820 the former were triumphant, and possessed all the authority then wielded in the province. From them Facundo received the appointment of Sergeant-Major of Militia, with the powers of Comandante de Campaña, or District Commandant.
In any other country the nomination to such a post of a man rendered notorious by his contempt for authority, who already boasted of no less than thirty murders, and who had voluntarily placed himself in the lowest ranks of society, would be a thing absolutely incredible; but the Ocampos probably felt the insecurity of their authority, and were sufficiently sagacious to attempt, at least, to render that man a useful adherent or ally, who might, if allured by their foes, prove a terrible weapon against them. But they found in Quiroga no submissive servant. So openly did he disregard the injunctions of his superiors, that a corps of the principal officers in the army entreated their general, Ocampo, to seize upon and execute the rebellious Gaucho, but failed in inducing him to adopt their advice. It was not long before he had occasion to repent his leniency, or his weakness.
A mutiny having occurred among some troops at San Juan, a detachment was sent against them, and with it Quiroga and his horsemen. The mutineers proved victorious, and, headed by their ringleaders, Aldao and Corro, continued their line of march towards the North. While Ocampo with his beaten troops fell back to wait for reinforcements, Quiroga pursued the retreating victors, harassed their rear, clogged their every movement, and proved so formidable to the enemy, that Aldao, abandoning his companion, made an arrangement with the government of La Rioja, by which he was to be allowed free passage into San Luis, whither Quiroga was ordered to conduct him. He joined Aldao.
And here, close upon the summit of the steep he has so easily ascended, we cannot help pausing for an instant to reflect upon the singular manifestation of destiny in his life. History acquaints us with no similar character who displayed so little forethought with such astonishing results. He premeditated nothing, unless now and then a murder. He took no trouble to form a plan of government, yet his authority was unquestioned during many years in Mendoza, Córdova, and San Juan. Even his most monstrous acts of perfidy appear to have been committed on the spur of the moment, with less calculation than he gave to a game at cards. Thrown upon the world with brutal passions scarcely controlled by a particle of reason, whirled hither and thither in a general and fearful cataclysm, he shows us preëminently the wonderful designs of Providence carried into effect, as it were, by a succession of blind and sudden impulses. In a community of established order the gallows would have put a speedy check upon his misdeeds; in the Argentine Confederation of 1820 he was gradually lifted, by an ever-rising tide of blood, to the eminence of lawless power.
Only for a while, however; for the stream did not cease to rise. The flood that had elevated him alone disregarded his commands. For a few moments he might maintain his footing upon the fearful peak; and then--
But as yet he is only Comandante de Campaña, escorting the rebel Aldao into San Luis. He took no pains to conceal his discontent with the government of Ocampo, nor was Aldao slow in noticing or availing himself of his disaffection. He offered Quiroga a hundred men, if he chose to overturn the government and seize upon La Rioja. Quiroga eagerly accepted, marched upon the city, took it by surprise, threw the Ocampos and their subordinates into prison, and sent them confessors, with the order to prepare for death. The remainder of Aldao's force was subsequently induced to join his cause, and, on the intercession of some of its leaders, the incarcerated Ocampos were suffered to escape with their lives.
Their banished enemy, Don Nicolas Dávila, was called from Tucuman to the nominal governorship of La Rioja, while Quiroga retained, with his old title, the actual rule of the province. But Dávila was not long content with this mere semblance of authority. During the temporary absence of Quiroga, he concerted with Araya, one of the men of Aldao, a plan for the capture of their master. Quiroga heard of it,--he heard of everything,-- and his answer was the assassination of Captain Araya! Summoned by the government which he himself had created to answer the accusation of instigated murder, he advanced upon the Dávilas with his Llanista horsemen. Miguel and Nicolas Dávila hastily assembled a body of troops, and prepared for a final struggle. While the two armies were in presence of each other, a commissioner from Mendoza endeavored to effect a peaceable arrangement between their chiefs. Passing from one camp to the other with propositions and conditions, he inspired the soldiers of the Dávilas with a fatal security. Quiroga, falling suddenly upon them in the midst of the negotiations, routed them with ease, and slew their general, who, with a small body of devoted followers, made a fierce onslaught upon him personally, and succeeded in inflicting upon him a severe wound before he was shot down. Thenceforth,--from the year 1823,--Quiroga was despot of La Rioja.
His government was simple enough. His two engrossing objects--if objects, indeed, he may be said to have possessed--were extortion and the uprooting of the last vestiges of civilization and law; his instruments, the dagger and the lash; his amusement, the torture of unwitting offenders; his serious occupation, the shuffling of cards. For gambling the man had an insatiable thirst; he played once for forty hours without intermission; it was death to refuse a game with him; no one might cease playing without his express commands; no one durst win the stakes; and as a consequence, he accumulated at cards in a few years almost all the coined money then existing in the province. Not content with this source of revenue, he became a farmer of the diezmo or tithes, appropriated to himself the mostrenco or unbranded cattle, by which means he speedily became proprietor of many thousand head, even established a monopoly of beef in his own favor,--and woe to the luckless fool who should dare to infringe upon the terrible barbarian's prerogative!
[Footnote 2: Thus the Monagas, the late rulers of Venezuela, are accused of denuding their country of specie in order to accumulate a vast treasure abroad in expectation of a rainy day.]
What was the state of society, it will undoubtedly be inquired, in which the defeat of a handful of men could result in such a despotism? We have already glanced at the people of La Rioja,--at their dreamy, Oriental character, at their pastoral pursuits. A community of herdsmen, scattered over an extensive territory, and deprived at one blow of the two great families to whom they had been accustomed to look up, with infantine submission, as their God-appointed chiefs,--these were not the men to stand up, unprompted by a single master-mind, to rid themselves of one whose oppression was, after all, only a new form of the treatment to which, for an entire generation, they had been subjected. La Rioja and San Juan were the only two provinces in which Quiroga's heavy hand was felt continuously; in the others he ruled rather by influence than in person; and the Gauchos, as a matter of course, were enthusiastic for a man who exalted the peasant at the expense of the citizen, whose exactions were actually burdensome only to the wealthy, and who permitted every license to his followers, with the single exception of disobedience to himself.
He was not without--it is impossible that he should have lacked--some of those instinctive and personal attributes with which almost every savage chieftain who has maintained so extraordinary an ascendency over his fellows has been endowed. Sarmiento tells us that he was tall, immensely powerful, a famous ginete or horseman, a more adroit wielder of the lasso and the bolas than even his rival, Rosas, capable of great endurance, and abstinent from intoxicating drinks.
His eye and voice were dreaded more by his soldiers than the lances of their antagonists. He could wring a Gaucho's secret from his breast; it was useless to attempt a subterfuge before him. Some article, we are told, was once stolen from a company of his troops, and every effort for its recovery proved fruitless. It was reported to Quiroga. He paraded the men, and, having procured a number of sticks, exactly equal in length, gave to each man one, proclaiming that the soldier whose stick should be found longer than the others next morning had been the thief. Next morning he again drew up his troops. The sticks were mustered by Quiroga himself. Not one had grown since the previous day; but there was one which was shorter than the rest. With a terrible roar, Quiroga seized the trembling Gaucho to whom the stick belonged. "Thou art the thief!" he exclaimed. It was so; the fellow had cut off a portion of the wood, hoping thus to escape detection by its growth!--
[Footnote 3: Since the above was written, we have heard of the adoption of an expedient identical with that of Quiroga, under similar circumstances, and with the same result. The detector was, however, an English seaman, now captain of a well-known steam-vessel, who forming part of a crew one of whom had lost a sum of money, broke off ten twigs of equal length from a broom, and distributed them among his shipmates, with the same observation as was used by the Argentine chief. Two hours later he examined them, and found that the negro steward had shortened his allotted twig. The money was restored.--The coincidence is instructive.]
Another time, one of his soldiers had been robbed of some trappings, and no trace of the thief could be discovered. Quiroga ordered the detachment to file past him, one by one. He stood, himself, with folded arms and terrible eyes, perusing each man as he passed. At length he darted forward, pounced upon one of the soldiers, and shouted, "Where is the montura?" "In yonder thicket!" stammered out the self-convicted thief. "Four musketeers this way!" and the commander was not out of sight before the wretched Gaucho was a corpse. In these instinctive qualities, so awful to untutored minds, lay the secret of the power of Quiroga,--and of how many others of the world's most famous names!
Already in 1825 he was recognized as a lawful authority by the government of Buenos Ayres, and invited to take part in a Congress of Generals at that city. At the same time, however, he received a military errand. The Province of Tucuman having been seized by a young Buenos Ayrean officer, Colonel Madrid, Quiroga was requested to march against the successful upstart, and to restore the cause of law and order,--an undertaking scarcely congruous with his own antecedents. The chief of La Rioja, however, eagerly accepted the mission, marched with a small force into Tucuman, routed Madrid, (and this literally, for his army ran away, leaving the Colonel to charge Quiroga's force alone, which he did, escaping by a miracle with his life,) and returned to La Rioja and San Juan. Into the latter town he made a triumphal entry, through streets lined on both sides with the principal inhabitants, whom he passed by in disdainful silence, and who humbly followed the Gaucho tyrant to his quarters in a clover-field, where he allowed them to stand in anxious humiliation while he conversed at length with an old negress whom he seated by his side. Not ten years had elapsed since these very men might have beheld him pounding tapias on this spot!
We do not propose following the blood-stained career of Juan Facundo through all its windings and episodes of cruelty and blood. Suffice it to say, that, with the title of Comandante de Campaña, he retained in La Rioja every fraction of actual power,--nominating, nevertheless, a shadowy governor, who, if he attempted any independent action, was instantly deposed. His influence gradually extended over the neighboring provinces; thrice he encountered and defeated Madrid; while at home he gambled, levied contributions, bastinadoed, and added largely to his army. He excelled his contemporary, Francia, in the art of inspiring terror; he only fell short of Rosas in the results. A wry look might at any time call down upon a luckless child a hundred lashes. He once split the skull of his own illegitimate son for some trifling act of disobedience. A lady, who once said to him, while he was in a bad humor, Adios, mi General, was publicly flogged. A young girl, who would not yield to his wishes, he threw down upon the floor, and kicked her with his heavy boots until she lay in a pool of blood. Truly, a ruler after the Russian sort!
Dorrego, meanwhile, was at the head of affairs at Buenos Ayres. Opposed to the "Unitarianism" of Lavalle and Paz, who would have made of their country, not a republic "one and indivisible," but a confederation after the model in the North, Dorrego was chiefly anxious to consolidate his power in the maritime state of Buenos Ayres, leaving the interior provinces to their own devices, and to the tender mercies of Lopez, Quiroga, Bustos, with a dozen other Gaucho chiefs. Rosas, the incarnation of the spirit which was then distracting the entire Confederation, was made Commandant General by Dorrego, who, however, frequently threatened to shoot "the insolent boor," but who, unfortunately for his country, never fulfilled the threat. As for himself, he, indeed, met with that fate at the hands of Lavalle, who landed with an army from the opposite coast of Uruguay, defeated Dorrego and Rosas in a pitched battle at the gates of Buenos Ayres, and entered the city in triumph a few hours later.
With the ascendency of Lavalle came the inauguration--and, alas! only the inauguration--of a new system. Paz, one of the few Argentinians who really deserved the name of General that they bore, was sent to Córdova, with eight hundred veterans of his old command. He defeated Bustos, the tyrant of Córdova, took possession of the city, (one of the most important strategic points upon the Pampas,) and restored that confidence and security to which its inhabitants had so long been strangers. This action was at the same time a challenge to Quiroga in his neighboring domain. It was a warning that right was beginning to assert its supremacy over might; nor was the hero of La Rioja slow to understand it. Collecting a band of four thousand Gaucho lancers, he marched upon Córdova with the assurance of an easy victory. The boleado General! The idea of his opposing the Tiger of the Plains!
What followed this movement is a matter of general history. The battle of the Tablada has had European, and therefore American, celebrity. It is known to those who think of Chacabuco and Maipú, of Navarro and Monte Caseros, only as of spots upon the map; let it, therefore, suffice to say that Quiroga was beaten decisively, unmistakably, terribly. The serried veterans of Paz, schooled in the Brazilian wars, stood grimly to the death before the fiery onslaught of Quiroga; in vain did his horsemen shatter themselves against the Unitarian General's scanty squares; the tactics of civilized warfare proved for the first time successful on these plains against wild ferocity and a larger force; Quiroga was driven back at length with fearful slaughter, with the loss of arms, ammunition, reputation, and of seventeen hundred men. He returned to La Rioja, with the disorganized remnant of his band, marking his path with blood and the infliction of atrocious chastisements. Even in adversity he is terrible and is obeyed.
For nearly two years he divided his time between the provinces of San Juan, Tucuman, and La Rioja, engaged in the prosecution of his designs, chief among which was the destruction of Paz, who remained at Córdova, intending to act only on the defensive. At length, in 1830, he considered himself sufficiently strong for an attack on his recent conqueror. Paz was unwilling to shed blood a second time; he offered advantageous terms to Quiroga; but the boastful Gaucho, full of confidence in his savage lancers, refused to negotiate, and marched against his skilful but unpresuming antagonist. Paz secretly evacuated Córdova, and, moving westward, hazarded a feat which is alone sufficient to establish his character as the best tactician of the New World,--San Martin alone, perhaps, excepted. Splitting his little army into a dozen brigades, he occupied the entire mountain-range behind the town, operated, with scarce five thousand men, upon a front of two hundred miles in extent, held in his own unwavering grasp the reins which controlled the movements of every division, and gradually inclosed, as in a net, the forces of Quiroga and Villafañe. In vain they struggled and blindly sought an exit; every door was closed; until, finally, after a campaign of fifteen days, the narrowing battalions of Paz surrounded, engaged, and utterly defeated at Oncativo the bewildered army on whose success Quiroga had staked his all.
The Gaucho himself again escaped. After seven years of dictatorial power, he is once more reduced to the level upon which we saw him standing in 1818, a vagabond at Buenos Ayres, although from that level he may raise his head a trifle higher.
And here we might conclude, having seen his rocket-like ascent, and the swiftly-falling night of his career,--having seen him a laborer, a deserter, a General, a Dictator, a fugitive; but much remains to be narrated. Passing over, with the barest mention, his temporary return to power, which he accomplished by one of those lightning-like expeditions that even among Gaucho horsemen rendered him conspicuous, let us hasten on to the great dramatic crisis of his history; and taking no notice of the five years of marching and countermarching, scheming, fighting, and negotiating, that intervened between his defeat at the Laguna Larga and 1835, draw to a close our hasty sketch.
In that year, after taking part in a disorderly and fruitless expedition planned by Rosas to secure the southern frontier against Indian attacks, he suddenly made his appearance at Buenos Ayres, with a body of armed satellites, who inspired the newly-seated Dictator--the famous Juan Manuel de Rosas, who has been already so often mentioned in these pages--with vivid apprehensions. Rosas, Quiroga, Lopez--the Triumvirate of La Plata-- were bound together, it is true, by a potent tie,--by the strongest, indeed,--that of self-interest; but as each of the three, and especially Rosas, was in continual dread lest that consideration in his colleagues should clash with his own intentions, the presence of Quiroga at Buenos Ayres was far from satisfactory to the remaining two. His influence over half a dozen of the despotic governors in the interior was still immense; the Pampa was his own, after all his defeats; and it was shrewdly suspected that his indifference to power in La Rioja, and his mysterious visit to the maritime capital, were indications of a design to seize upon the government of Buenos Ayres itself. Nor were the actions of Quiroga suited to remove these apprehensions. The sanguinary despot of the interior bloomed in the Buenos Ayrean cafés into a profound admirer of Rivadavia, Lavalle, and Paz, his ancient Unitarian enemies; Buenos Ayres, the Confederation, he loudly proclaimed, must have a Constitution; conciliation must supplant the iron-heeled tyranny under which the people had groaned so long; the very jaguar of the Pampa, said the Porteño wits, --not yet wholly muzzled by the dread Mazorca, or Club, of Rosas,--was to be stripped of his claws, and made to live on matagusano twigs and thistles! Redeunt Saturnia regna! The reign of blood, according to Quiroga, its chief evangelist, was approaching its termination.
In order to form a conception of the effect produced by these transactions, we must imagine Pelissier or Walewski entertaining, twenty- three years later, the cercles at Paris with discourses from the beauty of the last régime, with eulogies of Lamartine, and apotheoses of Louis Blanc; sneering at Espinasse, and eulogizing Cavaignac; vowing that France can be governed only under a liberal constitution, and paying a visit to his Majesty, the Elect of December, with a rough-and-tumble suite of Republican bravos. Assuredly, were such a thing possible in Paris, the gentlemen in question would very shortly be reviling English hospitality under its protecting aegis, if not dying of fever at Cayenne. Nor could Rosas, who was at that time far less firmly seated on his throne than is at present the man who wields the destinies of France, endure so powerful a rival in his vicinity. But how to get rid of him? Assassination, by which a minor offender was so speedily put out of the way, could not safely be attempted with a man who yet retained a singular mastery over the minds of thousands of brutal and strong-armed horsemen; a false step would result in inevitable destruction; and many anxious days were spent by the gloomy tyrant ere he could decide upon a plan for disposing of his inconvenient friend.
In the midst of this perplexity intelligence was received of a disagreement between the governments of Salta, Tucuman, and Santiago, provinces of the interior, which threatened to expand into warlike proceedings. Rosas sent for Quiroga. No one but the hero of La Rioja, he insinuated, had sufficient influence to bring about a settlement of these disputes; no one but he had power to prevent a war; would he not, therefore, hasten to Tucuman, and obviate so dire a calamity? Quiroga hesitated, refused, consented, wavered, and again declined the task. With a vacillation to which he had hitherto been a stranger, he remained for many days undecided; a suspicion of deceit appears to have presented itself to his mind; but at length he resolved to accept the commission. His hesitation, meanwhile, had completed his ruin; it had given time for the maturing of deadly plans.
In midsummer, 1835, (December 18th,) the Gaucho chieftain commenced his fateful journey. As he entered the carriage which was to be his home for many days, and bade farewell to the adherents who were assembled to witness his departure, he turned toward the city with a wild expression and words that were remembered afterwards. Si salgo bien, he said, te volevré á ver; si no, adios para siempre! "If I succeed, I shall see thee again; if not, farewell forever!" Was it a presentiment of the truth which came upon him, like that which clouded the great mind of the first Napoleon as he left the Tuileries when the Hundred Days were running out?
One hour before his departure, a mounted messenger had been dispatched from Buenos Ayres in the same direction as that he was about to follow; and the city was scarcely out of sight when Quiroga manifested the most feverish anxiety to overtake this man. His travelling companions were his secretary, Dr. Ortiz, and a young man of his acquaintance, bound for Córdova, to whom he had given a seat in his vehicle. The postilions were incessantly admonished to make haste. At a shallow stream which they forded, in the mud of which the wheels became imbedded, resisting every effort for their release, Quiroga actually hooked the postmaster of the district, who had hastened to the spot, to the carriage, and made him join his exertions to those of the horses until the vehicle was extricated, when he sped onward with fearful velocity, asking at every post-station, "When did the chasquí from Buenos Ayres pass? An hour ago! Forward, then!" and the carriage swept onward, on unceasingly, across the lonely Pampa,--racing, as it afterwards proved, with Death.
At last, Córdova, nearly six hundred miles from his starting-point, was reached, just one hour after the arrival of the hunted courier. Quiroga was besought by the cringing magistracy to spend the night in their city. His only answer was, "Give me horses!" and two hours before midnight he rolled out of Córdova, having beaten in the grisly race.
Beaten, inasmuch as he was yet alive. For Córdova was ringing with the details of his intended assassination. Such and such men were to have done the deed; at such a shop the pistol had been bought; at such a spot it was to have been fired;--but the marvellous swiftness of the intended victim had ruined all.
Meanwhile, Quiroga sped onward more at ease toward Tucuman. Arrived there, he speedily arranged the matters in dispute, and was entreated by the governors of that province and of Santiago to accept of an escort on his return; he was besought to avoid Córdova, to avoid Buenos Ayres; he was counselled to throw off the mask of subservience, and to rally his numerous adherents in La Rioja and San Juan;--but remonstrance and advice were alike thrown away upon him. In vain was the most circumstantial account of the preparations for his murder sent by friends from Córdova; he appeared as foolhardy now in February as in December he had been panic- stricken. "To Córdova!" he shouted, as he entered his galera; and for Córdova the postilions steered.
At the little post-hut of Ojos del Agua, in the State of Córdova, Quiroga, with his secretary, Ortiz, halted one night on the homeward journey. Shortly before reaching the place, a young man had mysteriously stopped the carriage, and had warned its hurrying inmates that at a spot called Barranca Yaco a partida, headed by one Santos Perez, was awaiting the arrival of Quiroga. There the massacre was to take place. The youth, who had formerly experienced kindness at the hands of Ortiz, begged him to avoid the danger. The unhappy secretary was rendered almost insane with terror, but his master sternly rebuked his fears.--"The man is not yet born," he said, "who shall slay Facundo Quiroga! At a word from me these fellows will put themselves at my command, and form my escort into Córdova!"
The night at Ojos del Agua was passed sleeplessly enough by the unhappy Ortiz, but Quiroga was not to be persuaded into ordinary precautions. Confident in his mastery over the minds of men, he set out unguarded, on the 18th of February, at break of day. The party consisted of the chieftain and his trembling secretary, a negro servant on horseback, two postilions,--one of them a mere lad,--and a couple of couriers who were travelling in the same direction.
Who that has been on the Pampas but can picture to himself this party as it left the little mud-hut on the plain? The cumbrous, oscillating galera, with its shaggy, straggling four-in-hand,--the caracoling Gaucho couriers,--the negro pricking on behind,--the tall grass rolling out on every side,--the muddy pool that forms the watering-place for beasts and men scattered over a hundred miles of brookless plain,--the great sun streaming up from the herbage just in front, awakening the voices of a million insects and the carols of unnumbered birds in the thickets here and there! Look long, Quiroga, on that rising sun! listen to the well- known melody that welcomes his approach! gaze once more upon the rolling Pampa! look again upon those flying hills! Thou who hast said, "There is no life but this life," who didst "believe in nothing," shalt know these things no more! five minutes hence thy statecraft will be over, thy long apprenticeship will have expired! thou shalt be standing--where thou mayst learn the secret that the wisest man of all the bookworms thou despisest will never know alive!
Barranca Yaco is reached. The warning was well founded. A crack is heard, --there is a puff of smoke,--and two musket-balls pass each other in the carriage, yet without inflicting injury on its occupants. From either side the road, however, the partida dashes forth. In a moment the horses are disabled, the postilions, the negro, and the couriers cut down. Ortiz trembles more violently than ever; Quiroga rises above himself. Looking from the carriage while the butchery is going on, he addresses the murderers with a few unfaltering words. There is glamour in his speech; the ensanguined assassins hesitate,--another instant, only one moment more, and they will be on their knees before him; but Santos Perez, who was at one side, comes up, raises his piece,--and the body of Juan Fecundo Quiroga falls in a soulless heap with a bullet in the brain! Ortiz was immediately hacked to pieces; and the tragedy of Córdova is at an end.
Such were the life, misdeeds, and death of the Terror of the Pampas. Having in the most rapid and imperfect manner sketched the career of this extraordinary Fortune's-child, his rise from the most abject condition to unbridled power, his ferocious rule, and his almost heroic end, we may surely exclaim, that "nothing in his life became him like the leaving of it," and, presenting this bare résumé of facts as a mere outline, a mere pen-and-ink sketch of the terrible chieftain, refer the curious student to the impassioned narrative whence our facts are mainly derived.
It may be well to add, that Santos Perez, who was actively pursued by the government of Buenos Ayres, which itself had instigated him to the commission of the crime, was finally, after many hairbreadth escapes, betrayed by his mistress to the agents of Rosas, and suffered death at Buenos Ayres with savage fortitude. The Lord have mercy on his soul!
The heroine of our tale is one so famous in history that her proper name never appears in it. The seeming paradox is the soberest fact. To us Americans, glory lies in the abundant display of one's personal appellation in the newspapers. Our heroine lived in the most gossiping of all ages, herself its greatest gossip; yet her own name, patronymic or baptismal, never was talked about. It was not that she sank that name beneath high-sounding titles; she only elevated the most commonplace of all titles till she monopolized it, and it monopolized her. Anne Marie Louise d'Orléans, Souveraine de Dombes, Princesse Dauphine d'Auvergne, Duchesse de Montpensier, is forgotten, or rather was never remembered; but the great name of MADEMOISELLE, La Grande Mademoiselle, gleams like a golden thread shot through and through that gorgeous tapestry of crimson and purple which records for us the age of Louis Quatorze.
In May of the year 1627, while the Queen and Princess of England lived in weary exile at Paris,--while the slow tide of events was drawing their husband and father to his scaffold,--while Sir John Eliot was awaiting in the Tower of London the summoning of the Third Parliament,--while the troops of Buckingham lay dying, without an enemy, upon the Isle of Rhé,-- while the Council of Plymouth were selling their title to the lands of Massachusetts Bay,--at the very crisis of the terrible siege of Rochelle, and perhaps during the very hour when the Three Guardsmen of Dumas held that famous bastion against an army, the heroine of our story was born. And she, like the Three Guardsmen, waited till twenty years after for a career.
The twenty years are over. Richelieu is dead. The strongest will that ever ruled France has passed away; and the poor, broken King has hunted his last badger at St. Germain, and meekly followed his master to the grave, as he had always followed him. Louis XIII., called Louis Le Juste, not from the predominance of that particular virtue (or any other) in his character, but simply because he happened to be born under the constellation of the Scales, has died like a Frenchman, in peace with all the world except his wife. That beautiful and queenly wife, Anne of Austria, (Spaniard though she was,)--no longer the wild and passionate girl who fascinated Buckingham and embroiled two kingdoms,--has hastened within four days to defy all the dying imprecations of her husband, by reversing every plan and every appointment he has made. The little prince has already shown all the Grand Monarque in his childish "Je suis Louis Quatorze," and has been carried in his bib to hold his first parliament. That parliament, heroic as its English contemporary, though less successful, has reached the point of revolution at last. Civil war is impending. Condé, at twenty-one the greatest general in Europe, after changing sides a hundred times in a week, is fixed at last. Turenne is arrayed against him. The young, the brave, the beautiful cluster around them. The performers are drawn up in line,--the curtain rises,--the play is "The Wars of the Fronde,"--and into that brilliant arena, like some fair circus equestrian, gay, spangled, and daring, rides Mademoiselle.
Almost all French historians, from Voltaire to Cousin, (St. Aulaire being the chief exception,) speak lightly of the Wars of the Fronde. "La Fronde n'est pas sérieuse." Of course it was not. If it had been serious, it would not have been French. Of course, French insurrections, like French despotisms, have always been tempered by epigrams; of course, the people went out to the conflicts in ribbons and feathers; of course, over every battle there pelted down a shower of satire, like the rain at the Eglinton tournament. More than two hundred pamphlets rattled on the head of Condé alone, and the collection of Mazarinades, preserved by the Cardinal himself, fills sixty-nine volumes in quarto. From every field the first crop was glory, the second a bon-mot. When the dagger of De Retz fell from his breast-pocket, it was "our good archbishop's breviary"; and when his famous Corinthian troop was defeated in battle, it was "the First Epistle to the Corinthians." While, across the Channel, Charles Stuart was listening to his doom, Paris was gay in the midst of dangers, Madame de Longueville was receiving her gallants in mimic court at the Hôtel de Ville, De Retz was wearing his sword-belt over his archbishop's gown, the little hunchback Conti was generalissimo, and the starving people were pillaging Mazarin's library, in joke, "to find something to gnaw upon." Outside the walls, the maids-of-honor were quarrelling over the straw beds which annihilated all the romance of martyrdom, and Condé, with five thousand men, was besieging five hundred thousand. No matter, they all laughed through it, and through every succeeding turn of the kaleidoscope; and the "Anything may happen in France," with which La Rochefoucauld jumped amicably into the carriage of his mortal enemy, was not only the first and best of his maxims, but the key-note of French history for all coming time.
But behind all this sport, as in all the annals of the nation, were mysteries and terrors and crimes. It was the age of cabalistic ciphers, like that of De Retz, of which Guy Joli dreamed the solution; of inexplicable secrets, like the Man in the Iron Mask, whereof no solution was ever dreamed; of poisons, like that diamond-dust which in six hours transformed the fresh beauty of the Princess Royal into foul decay; of dungeons, like that cell at Vincennes which Madame de Rambouillet pronounced to be "worth its weight in arsenic." War or peace hung on the color of a ball-dress, and Madame de Chevreuse knew which party was coming uppermost, by observing whether the binding of Madame de Hautefort's prayer-book was red or green. Perhaps it was all a little theatrical, but the performers were all Rachels.
And behind the crimes and the frivolities stood the Parliaments, calm and undaunted, with leaders, like Molé and Talon, who needed nothing but success to make their names as grand in history as those of Pym and Hampden. Among the Brienne Papers in the British Museum there is a collection of the manifestoes and proclamations of that time, and they are earnest, eloquent, and powerful, from beginning to end. Lord Mahon alone among historians, so far as our knowledge goes, has done fit and full justice to the French parliaments, those assemblies which refused admission to the foreign armies which the nobles would gladly have summoned in,--but fed and protected the banished princesses of England, when the court party had left those descendants of the Bourbons to die of cold and hunger in the palace of their ancestors. And we have the testimony of Henrietta Maria herself, the only person who had seen both revolutions near at hand, that "the troubles in England never appeared so formidable in their early days, nor were the leaders of the revolutionary party so ardent or so united." The character of the agitation was no more to be judged by its jokes and epigrams, than the gloomy glory of the English Puritans by the grotesque names of their saints, or the stern resolution of the Dutch burghers by their guilds of rhetoric and symbolical melodrama.
But popular power was not yet developed in France, as it was in England; all social order was unsettled and changing, and well Mazarin knew it. He knew the pieces with which he played his game of chess: the king powerless, the queen mighty, the bishops unable to take a single straightforward move, and the knights going naturally zigzag; but a host of plebeian pawns, every one fit for a possible royalty, and therefore to be used shrewdly, or else annihilated as soon as practicable. True, the game would not last forever; but after him the deluge.
Our age has forgotten even the meaning of the word Fronde; but here also the French and Flemish histories run parallel, and the Frondeurs, like the Gueux, were children of a sarcasm. The Counsellor Bachaumont one day ridiculed insurrectionists, as resembling the boys who played with slings (frondes) about the streets of Paris, but scattered at the first glimpse of a policeman. The phrase organized the party. Next morning all fashions were à la fronde,--hats, gloves, fans, bread, and ballads; and it cost six years of civil war to pay for the Counsellor's facetiousness.
That which was, after all, the most remarkable characteristic of these wars might be guessed from this fact about the fashions. The Fronde was preëminently "the War of the Ladies." Educated far beyond the Englishwomen of their time, they took a controlling share, sometimes ignoble, as often noble, always powerful, in the affairs of the time. It was not merely a courtly gallantry which flattered them with a hollow importance. De Retz, in his Memoirs, compares the women of his age with Elizabeth of England. A Spanish ambassador once congratulated Mazarin on obtaining temporary repose. "You are mistaken," he replied, "there is no repose in France, for I have always women to contend with. In Spain, women have only love- affairs to employ them; but here we have three who are capable of governing or overthrowing great kingdoms: the Duchess de Longueville, the Princess Palatine, and the Duchess de Chevreuse." And there were others as great as these; and the women who for years outwitted Mazarin and outgeneralled Condé are deserving of a stronger praise than they have yet obtained, even from the classic and courtly Cousin.
What men of that age eclipsed or equalled the address and daring of those delicate and highborn women? What a romance was their ordinary existence! The Princess Palatine gave refuge to Mme. de Longueville when that alone saved her from sharing the imprisonment of her brothers Condé and Conti,-- then fled for her own life, by night, with Rochefoucauld. Mme. de Longueville herself, pursued afterwards by the royal troops, wished to embark in a little boat, on a dangerous shore, during a midnight storm so wild that not a fisherman could at first be found to venture forth; the beautiful fugitive threatened and implored till they consented; the sailor who bore her in his arms to the boat let her fall amid the furious surges; she was dragged senseless to the shore again, and, on the instant of reviving, demanded to repeat the experiment; but as they utterly refused, she rode inland beneath the tempest, and travelled for fourteen nights before she could find another place of embarkation.
Madame de Chevreuse rode with one attendant from Paris to Madrid, fleeing from Richelieu, remaining day and night on her horse, attracting perilous admiration by the womanly loveliness which no male attire could obscure. From Spain she went to England, organizing there the French exiles into a strength which frightened Richelieu; thence to Holland, to conspire nearer home; back to Paris, on the minister's death, to form the faction of the Importants; and when the Duke of Beaufort was imprisoned, Mazarin said, "Of what use to cut off the arms while the head remains?" Ten years from her first perilous escape, she made a second, dashed through La Vendée, embarked at St. Malo for Dunkirk, was captured by the fleet of the Parliament, was released by the Governor of the Isle of Wight, unable to imprison so beautiful a butterfly, reached her port at last, and in a few weeks was intriguing at Liège again.
The Duchess de Bouillon, Turenne's sister, purer than those we have named, but not less daring or determined, after charming the whole population of Paris by her rebel beauty at the Hôtel de Ville, escaped from her sudden incarceration by walking through the midst of her guards at dusk, crouching in the shadow of her little daughter, and afterwards allowed herself to be recaptured, rather than desert that child's sick-bed.
Then there was Clémence de Maille, purest and noblest of all, niece of Richelieu and hapless wife of the cruel ingrate Condé, his equal in daring and his superior in every other high quality. Married a child still playing with her dolls, and sent at once to a convent to learn to read and write, she became a woman the instant her husband became a captive; while he watered his pinks in the garden at Vincennes, she went through France and raised an army for his relief. Her means were as noble as her ends. She would not surrender the humblest of her friends to an enemy, or suffer the massacre of her worst enemy by a friend. She threw herself between the fire of two hostile parties at Bordeaux, and, while men were falling each side of her, compelled them to peace. Her deeds rang through Europe. When she sailed from Bordeaux for Paris at last, thirty thousand people assembled to bid her farewell. She was loved and admired by all the world, except that husband for whom she dared so much,--and the Archbishop of Taen. The respectable Archbishop complained, that "this lady did not prove that she had been authorized by her husband, an essential provision, without which no woman can act in law." And Condé himself, whose heart, physically twice as large as other men's, was spiritually imperceptible, repaid this stainless nobleness by years of persecution, and bequeathed her, as a life-long prisoner, to his dastard son.
Then, on the royal side, there was Anne of Austria, sufficient unto herself, Queen Regent, and every inch a queen, (before all but Mazarin,)-- from the moment when the mob of Paris filed through the chamber of the boy-king, in his pretended sleep, and the motionless and stately mother held back the crimson draperies, with the same lovely arm which had waved perilous farewells to Buckingham,--to the day when the news of the fatal battle of Gien came to her in her dressing-room, and "she remained undisturbed before the mirror, not neglecting the arrangement of a single curl."
In short, every woman who took part in the Ladies' War became heroic,-- from Marguerite of Lorraine, who snatched the pen from her weak husband's hand and gave De Retz the order for the first insurrection, down to the wife of the commandant of the Porte St. Roche, who, springing from her bed to obey that order, made the drums beat to arms and secured the barrier; and fitly, amid adventurous days like these, opened the career of Mademoiselle.
Grandchild of Henri Quatre, niece of Louis XIII., cousin of Louis XIV., first princess of the blood, and with the largest income in the nation, (500,000 livres,) to support these dignities, Mademoiselle was certainly born in the purple. Her autobiography admits us to very gorgeous company; the stream of her personal recollections is a perfect Pactolus. There is almost a surfeit of royalty in it; every card is a court-card, and all her counters are counts. "I wore at this festival all the crown-jewels of France, and also those of the Queen of England." "A far greater establishment was assigned to me than any fille de France had ever had, not excepting any of my aunts, the Queens of England and of Spain, and the Duchess of Savoy." "The Queen, my grandmother, gave me as a governess the same lady who had been governess to the late King." Pageant or funeral, it is the same thing. "In the midst of these festivities we heard of the death of the King of Spain; whereat the Queens were greatly afflicted, and we all went into mourning." Thus, throughout, her Memoirs glitter like the coat with which the splendid Buckingham astonished the cheaper chivalry of France: they drop diamonds.
But for any personal career Mademoiselle found at first no opportunity, in the earlier years of the Fronde. A gay, fearless, flattered girl, she simply shared the fortunes of the court; laughed at the festivals in the palace, laughed at the ominous insurrections in the streets; laughed when the people cheered her, their pet princess; and when the royal party fled from Paris, she adroitly secured for herself the best straw-bed at St. Germain, and laughed louder than ever. She despised the courtiers who flattered her; secretly admired her young cousin Condé, whom she affected to despise; danced when the court danced, and ran away when it mourned. She made all manner of fun of her English lover, the future Charles II., whom she alone of all the world found bashful; and in general she wasted the golden hours with much excellent fooling. Nor would she, perhaps, ever have found herself a heroine, but that her respectable father was a poltroon.
Lord Mahon ventures to assert, that Gaston, Duke of Orléans, was "the most cowardly prince of whom history makes mention." A strong expression, but perhaps safe. Holding the most powerful position in the nation, he never came upon the scene but to commit some new act of ingenious pusillanimity; while, by some extraordinary chance, every woman of his immediate kindred was a natural heroine, and became more heroic through disgust at him. His wife was Marguerite of Lorraine, who originated the first Fronde insurrection; his daughter turned the scale of the second. But, personally, he not only had not the courage to act, but he had not the courage to abstain from acting; he could no more keep out of parties than in them; but was always busy, waging war in spite of Mars, and negotiating in spite of Minerva.
And when the second war of the Fronde broke out, it was in spite of himself that he gave his name and his daughter to the popular cause. When the fate of the two nations hung trembling in the balance, the royal army under Turenne advancing on Paris, and almost arrived at the city of Orléans, and that city likely to take the side of the strongest,--then Mademoiselle's hour had come. All her sympathies were more and more inclining to the side of Condé and the people. Orléans was her own hereditary city. Her father, as was his custom in great emergencies, declared that he was very ill and must go to bed immediately; but it was as easy for her to be strong as it was for him to be weak; so she wrung from him a reluctant plenipotentiary power; she might go herself and try what her influence could do. And so she rode forth from Paris, one fine morning, March 27, 1652,--rode with a few attendants, half in enthusiasm, half in levity, aiming to become a second Joan of Arc, secure the city, and save the nation. "I felt perfectly delighted," says the young girl, "at having to play so extraordinary a part."
The people of Paris had heard of her mission, and cheered her as she went. The officers of the army, with an escort of five hundred men, met her half way from Paris. Most of them evidently knew her calibre, were delighted to see her, and installed her at once over a regular council of war. She entered into the position with her natural promptness. A certain grave M. de Rohan undertook to tutor her privately, and met his match. In the public deliberation, there were some differences of opinion. All agreed that the army should not pass beyond the Loire: this was Gaston's suggestion, and nevertheless a good one. Beyond this all was left to Mademoiselle. Mademoiselle intended to go straight to Orléans. "But the royal army had reached there already." Mademoiselle did not believe it. "The citizens would not admit her." Mademoiselle would see about that. Presently the city government of Orléans sent her a letter, in great dismay, particularly requesting her to keep her distance. Mademoiselle immediately ordered her coach, and set out for the city. "I was naturally resolute," she naïvely remarks.
Her siege of Orléans is perhaps the most remarkable on record. She was right in one thing; the royal army had not arrived: but it might appear at any moment; so the magistrates quietly shut all their gates, and waited to see what would happen.
Mademoiselle happened. It was eleven in the morning when she reached the Porte Bannière, and she sat three hours in her state carriage without seeing a person. With amusing politeness, the governor of the city at last sent her some confectionery,--agreeing with John Keats, who held that young women were beings fitter to be presented with sugar-plums than with one's time. But he took care to explain that the bonbons were not official, and did not recognize her authority. So she quietly ate them, and then decided to take a walk outside the walls. Her council of war opposed this step, as they did every other; but she coolly said (as the event proved) that the enthusiasm of the populace would carry the city for her, if she could only get at them.
So she set out on her walk. Her two beautiful ladies-of-honor, the Countesses de Fiesque and de Frontenac, went with her; a few attendants behind. She came to a gate. The people were all gathered inside the ramparts. "Let me in," demanded the imperious young lady. The astonished citizens looked at each other and said nothing. She walked on,--the crowd inside keeping pace with her. She reached another gate. The enthusiasm was increased. The captain of the guard formed his troops in line and saluted her. "Open the gate," she again insisted. The poor captain made signs that he had not the keys. "Break it down, then," coolly suggested the daughter of the House of Orléans; to which his only reply was a profusion of profound bows, and the lady walked on.
Those were the days of astrology, and at this moment it occurred to our Mademoiselle, that the chief astrologer of Paris had predicted success to all her undertakings, from the noon of this very day until the noon following. She had never had the slightest faith in the mystic science, but she turned to her attendant ladies, and remarked that the matter was settled; she should get in. On went the three, until they reached the bank of the river, and saw, opposite, the gates which opened on the quay. The Orléans boatmen came flocking round her, a hardy race, who feared neither queen nor Mazarin. They would break down any gate she chose. She selected one, got into a boat, and sending back her terrified male attendants, that they might have no responsibility in the case, she was rowed to the other side. Her new allies were already at work, and she climbed from the boat upon the quay by a high ladder, of which several rounds were broken away. They worked more and more enthusiastically, though the gate was built to stand a siege, and stoutly resisted this one. Courage is magnetic; every moment increased the popular enthusiasm, as these highborn ladies stood alone among the boatmen; the crowd inside joined in the attack upon the gate; the guard looked on; the city government remained irresolute at the Hôtel de Ville, fairly beleaguered and stormed by one princess and two maids-of-honor.
A crash, and the mighty timbers of the Porte Brûlée yield in the centre. Aided by the strong and exceedingly soiled hands of her new friends, our elegant Mademoiselle is lifted, pulled, pushed, and tugged between the vast iron bars which fortify the gate; and in this fashion, torn, splashed, and dishevelled generally, she makes entrance into her city. The guard, promptly adhering to the winning side, present arms to the heroine. The people fill the air with their applauses; they place her in a large, wooden chair, and bear her in triumph through the streets. "Everybody came to kiss my hands, while I was dying with laughter to find myself in so odd a situation."
Presently our volatile lady told them that she had learned how to walk, and begged to be put down; then she waited for her countesses, who arrived bespattered with mud. The drums beat before her, as she set forth again, and the city government, yielding to the feminine conqueror, came to do her homage. She carelessly assured them of her clemency. She "had no doubt that they would soon have opened the gates, but she was naturally of a very impatient disposition, and could not wait." Moreover, she kindly suggested, neither party could now find fault with them; and as for the future, she would save them all trouble, and govern the city herself,-- which she accordingly did.
By confession of all historians, she alone saved the city for the Fronde, and, for the moment, secured that party the ascendency in the nation. Next day the advance-guard of the royal forces appeared,--a day too late. Mademoiselle made a speech (the first in her life) to the city government; then went forth to her own small army, by this time drawn near, and held another council. The next day she received a letter from her father, (whose health was now decidedly restored,) declaring that she had "saved Orléans and secured Paris, and shown yet more judgment than courage." The next day Condé came up with his forces, compared his fair cousin to Gustavus Adolphus, and wrote to her that "her exploit was such as she only could have performed, and was of the greatest importance."
Mademoiselle staid a little longer at Orléans, while the armies lay watching each other, or fighting the battle of Bléneau, of which Condé wrote her an official bulletin, as being generalissimo. She amused herself easily, went to mass, played at bowls, received the magistrates, stopped couriers to laugh over their letters, reviewed the troops, signed passports, held councils, and did many things "for which she should have thought herself quite unfitted, if she had not found she did them very well." The enthusiasm she had inspired kept itself unabated, for she really deserved it. She was everywhere recognized as head of affairs; the officers of the army drank her health on their knees, when she dined with them, while the trumpets sounded and the cannons roared; Condé, when absent, left instructions to his officers, "Obey the commands of Mademoiselle, as my own"; and her father addressed a despatch from Paris to her ladies of honor, as Field-Marshals in her army: "À Mesdames les Comtesses Maréchales de Camp dans l'Armée de ma Fille contre le Mazarin."
Mademoiselle went back to Paris. Half the population met her outside the walls; she kept up the heroine, by compulsion, and for a few weeks held her court as Queen of France. If the Fronde had held its position, she might very probably have held hers. Condé, being unable to marry her himself, on account of the continued existence of his invalid wife, (which he sincerely regretted,) had a fixed design of marrying her to the young King. Queen Henrietta Maria cordially greeted her, lamented more than ever her rejection of the "bashful" Charles II., and compared her to the original Maid of Orléans,--an ominous compliment from an English source.
The royal army drew near; on July 1, 1652, Mademoiselle heard their drums beating outside. "I shall not stay at home to-day," she said to her attendants, at two in the morning; "I feel convinced that I shall be called to do some unforeseen act, as I was at Orléans." And she was not far wrong. The battle of the Porte St. Antoine was at hand.
Condé and Turenne! The two greatest names in the history of European wars, until a greater eclipsed them both. Condé, a prophecy of Napoleon, a general by instinct, incapable of defeat, insatiable of glory, throwing his marshal's baton within the lines of the enemy, and following it; passionate, false, unscrupulous, mean. Turenne, the precursor of Wellington rather, simple, honest, truthful, humble, eating off his iron camp-equipage to the end of life. If it be true, as the ancients said, that an army of stags led by a lion is more formidable than an army of lions led by a stag, then the presence of two such heroes would have given lustre to the most trivial conflict. But that fight was not trivial upon which hung the possession of Paris and the fate of France; and between these two great soldiers it was our Mademoiselle who was again to hold the balance, and to decide the day.
The battle raged furiously outside the city. Frenchman fought against Frenchman, and nothing distinguished the two armies except a wisp of straw in the hat, on the one side, and a piece of paper on the other. The people of the metropolis, fearing equally the Prince and the King, had shut the gates against all but the wounded and the dying. The Parliament was awaiting the result of the battle, before taking sides. The Queen was on her knees in the Carmelite Chapel. De Retz was shut up in his palace, and Gaston of Orléans in his,--the latter, as usual, slightly indisposed; and Mademoiselle, passing anxiously through the streets, met nobleman after nobleman of her acquaintance, borne with ghastly wounds to his residence. She knew that the numbers were unequal; she knew that her friends must be losing ground. She rushed back to her father, and implored him to go forth in person, rally the citizens, and relieve Condé. It was quite impossible; he was so exceedingly feeble; he could not walk a hundred yards. "Then, Sir," said the indignant Princess, "I advise you to go immediately to bed. The world had better believe that you cannot do your duty, than that you will not."
Time passed on, each moment registered in blood. Mademoiselle went and came; still the same sad procession of dead and dying; still the same mad conflict, Frenchman against Frenchman, in the three great avenues of the Faubourg St. Antoine. She watched it from the city walls till she could bear it no longer. One final, desperate appeal, and her dastard father consented, not to act himself, but again to appoint her his substitute. Armed with the highest authority, she hastened to the Hôtel de Ville, where the Parliament was in irresolute session. The citizens thronged round her, as she went, imploring her to become their leader. She reached the scene, exhibited her credentials, and breathlessly issued demands which would have made Gaston's hair stand on end.
"I desire three things," announced Mademoiselle: "first, that the citizens shall be called to arms."
"It is done," answered the obsequious officials.
"Next," she resolutely went on, "that two thousand men shall be sent to relieve the troops of the Prince."
They pledged themselves to this also.
"Finally," said the daring lady, conscious of the mine she was springing, and reserving the one essential point till the last, "that the army of Condé shall be allowed free passage into the city."
The officials, headed by the Maréchal de l'Hôpital, at once exhibited the most extreme courtesy of demeanor, and begged leave to assure her Highness that under no conceivable circumstances could this request be granted.
She let loose upon them all the royal anger of the House of Bourbon. She remembered the sights she had just seen; she thought of Rochefoucauld, with his eye shot out and his white garments stained with blood,--of Guitant shot through the body,--of Roche-Giffard, whom she pitied, "though a Protestant." Condé might, at that moment, be sharing their fate; all depended on her; and so Conrart declares, in his Memoirs, that "Mademoiselle said some strange things to these gentlemen": as, for instance, that her attendants should throw them out of the window; that she would pluck off the Marshal's beard; that he should die by no hand but her's, and the like. When it came to this, the Maréchal de l'Hôpital stroked his chin with a sense of insecurity, and called the council away to deliberate; "during which time," says the softened Princess, "leaning on a window which looked on the St. Esprit, where they were saying mass, I offered up my prayers to God." At last they came back, and assented to every one of her propositions.
In a moment she was in the streets again. The first person she met was Vallon, terribly wounded. "We are lost!" he said. "You are saved!" she cried, proudly. "I command to-day in Paris, as I commanded in Orléans." "Vous me rendez la vie," said the reanimated soldier, who had been with her in her first campaign. On she went, meeting at every step men wounded in the head, in the body, in the limbs,--on horseback, on foot, on planks, on barrows,--besides the bodies of the slain. She reached the windows beside the Porte St. Antoine, and Condé met her there; he rode up, covered with blood and dust, his scabbard lost, his sword in hand. Before she could speak, that soul of fire uttered, for the only recorded time in his career, the word Despair: "Ma cousine, vous voyez un homme au désespoir,"--and burst into tears. But her news instantly revived him, and his army with him. "Mademoiselle is at the gate," the soldiers cried; and, with this certainty of a place of refuge, they could do all things. In this famous fight, five thousand men defended themselves against twelve thousand, for eight hours. "Did you see Condé himself?" they asked Turenne, after it was over. "I saw not one, but a dozen Condés," was the answer; "he was in every place at once."
But there was one danger more for Condé, one opportunity more for Mademoiselle, that day. Climbing the neighboring towers of the Bastille, she watched the royal party on the heights of Charonne, and saw fresh cavalry and artillery detached to aid the army of Turenne. The odds were already enormous, and there was but one course left for her. She was mistress of Paris, and therefore mistress of the Bastille. She sent for the governor of the fortress, and showed him the advancing troops. "Turn the cannon under your charge, Sir, upon the royal army." Without waiting to heed the consternation she left behind her, Mademoiselle returned to the gate. The troops had heard of the advancing reinforcements, and were drooping again; when, suddenly, the cannon of the Bastille, those Spanish cannon; flamed out their powerful succor, the royal army halted and retreated, and the day was won.
The Queen and the Cardinal, watching from Charonne, saw their victims escape them. But the cannon-shots bewildered them all. "It was probably a salute to Mademoiselle," suggested some comforting adviser. "No," said the experienced Maréchal de Villeroi, "if Mademoiselle had a hand in it, the salute was for us." At this, Mazarin comprehended the whole proceeding, and coldly consoled himself with a bon-mot that became historic. "Elle a tué son mari," he said,--meaning that her dreams of matrimony with the young king must now be ended. No matter; the battle of the Porte St. Antoine was ended also.
There have been many narratives of that battle, including Napoleon's; they are hard to reconcile, and our heroine's own is by no means the clearest; but all essentially agree in the part they ascribe to her. One brief appendix to the campaign, and her short career of heroism fades into the light of common day.
Yet a third time did Fortune, showering upon one maiden so many opportunities at once, summon her to arm herself with her father's authority, that she might go in his stead into that terrible riot which, two days after, tarnished the glories of Condé, and by its reaction overthrew the party of the Fronde ere long. None but Mademoiselle dared to take the part of that doomed minority in the city government, which, for resisting her own demands, were to be terribly punished on that fourth-of- July night. "A conspiracy so base," said the generous Talon, "never stained the soil of France." By deliberate premeditation, an assault was made by five hundred disguised soldiers on the Parliament assembled in the Hôtel de Ville; the tumult spread; the night rang with a civil conflict more terrible than that of the day. Condé and Gaston were vainly summoned; the one cared not, the other dared not. Mademoiselle again took her place in her carriage and drove forth amid the terrors of the night. The sudden conflict had passed its cruel climax, but she rode through streets slippery with blood; she was stopped at every corner. Once a man laid his arm on the window, and asked if Condé was within the carriage. She answered "No," and he retreated, the flambeaux gleaming on a weapon beneath his cloak. Through these interruptions, she did not reach the half-burned and smoking Hôtel de Ville till most of its inmates had left it; the few remaining she aided to conceal, and emerged again amid the lingering, yawning crowd, who cheered her with, "God bless Mademoiselle! all she does is well done."
At four o'clock that morning she went to rest, weary with these days and nights of responsibility. Sleep soundly, Mademoiselle, you will be troubled with such no longer. An ignominious peace is at hand; and though peace, too, has her victories, yours is not a nature grand enough to grasp them. Last to yield, last to be forgiven, there will yet be little in your future career to justify the distrust of despots, or to recall the young heroine of Orléans and St Antoine.
Like a river which loses itself, by infinite subdivision, in the sands, so the wars of the Fronde disappeared in petty intrigues at last. As the fighting ended and manoeuvring became the game, of course Mazarin came uppermost,--Mazarin, that super-Italian, finessing and fascinating, so deadly sweet, l'homme plus agréable du monde, as Madame de Motteville and Bussy-Rabutin call him,--flattering that he might win, avaricious that he might be magnificent, winning kings by jewelry and princesses by lapdogs,--too cowardly for any avoidable collision,--too cool and economical in his hatred to waste an antagonist by killing him, but always luring and cajoling him into an unwilling tool,--too serenely careless of popular emotion even to hate the mob of Paris, any more than a surgeon hates his own lancet when it cuts him; he only changes his grasp and holds it more cautiously. Mazarin ruled. And the King was soon joking over the fight at the Porte St. Antoine, with Condé and Mademoiselle; the Queen at the same time affectionately assuring our heroine, that, if she could have got at her on that day, she would certainly have strangled her, but that, since it was past, she would love her as ever,--as ever; while Mademoiselle, not to be outdone, lies like a Frenchwoman, and assures the Queen that really she did not mean to be so naughty, but "she was with those who induced her to act against her sense of duty!"
The day of civil war was over. The daring heroines and voluptuous blonde beauties of the Frondeur party must seek excitement elsewhere. Some looked for it in literature; for the female education of France in that age was far higher than England could show. The intellectual glory of the reign of the Grand Monarque began in its women. Marie de Médicis had imported the Italian grace and wit,--Anne of Austria the Spanish courtesy and romance; the Hôtel de Rambouillet had united the two, and introduced the genre précieux, or stately style, which was superb in its origin, and dwindled to absurdity in the hands of Mlle. de Scudéry and her valets, before Molière smiled it away forever. And now that the wars were done, literary society came up again. Madame de Sablé exhausted the wit and the cookery of the age in her fascinating entertainments,--pâtés and Pascal, Rochefoucauld and ragoûts,--Mme. de Brégy's Epictetus, Mme. de Choisy's salads,--confectionery, marmalade, elixirs, Des Cartes, Arnould, Calvinism, and the barometer. Mme. de Sablé had a sentimental theory that no woman should eat at the same table with a lover, but she liked to see her lovers eat, and Mademoiselle, in her obsolete novel of the "Princesse de Paphlagonie," gently satirizes this passion of her friend. And Mademoiselle herself finally eclipsed the Sablé by her own entertainments at her palace of the Luxembourg, where she offered no dish but one of gossip, serving up herself and friends in a course of "Portraits" so appetizing that it became the fashion for ten years, and reached perfection at last in the famous "Characters" of La Bruyère.
Other heroines went into convents, joined the Carmelites, or those nuns of Port-Royal of whom the Archbishop of Paris said that they lived in the purity of angels and the pride of devils. Thither went Madame de Sablé herself, finally,--"the late Madame," as the dashing young abbés called her when she renounced the world. Thither she drew the beautiful Longueville also, and Heaven smiled on one repentance that seemed sincere. There they found peace in the home of Angélique Arnould and Jacqueline Pascal. And thence those heroic women came forth again, when religious war threatened to take the place of civil: again they put to shame their more timid male companions, and by their labors Jesuit and Jansenist found peace.
But not such was to be the career of our Mademoiselle, who, at twenty, had tried the part of devotee for one week and renounced it forever. No doubt, at thirty-five, she "began to understand that it is part of the duty of a Christian to attend High Mass on Sundays and holy days"; and her description of the deathbed of Anne of Austria is a most extraordinary jumble of the next world and this. But thus much of devotion was to her only a part of the proprieties of life, and before the altar of those proprieties she served, for the rest of her existence, with exemplary zeal. At forty, she was still the wealthiest unmarried princess in Europe; fastidious in toilette, stainless in reputation, not lovely in temper, rigid in etiquette, learned in precedence, an oracle in court traditions, a terror to the young maids-of-honor, and always quarrelling with her own sisters, younger, fairer, poorer than herself. Her mind and will were as active as in her girlhood, but they ground chaff instead of wheat. Whether her sisters should dine at the Queen's table, when she never had; who should be her trainbearer at the royal marriage; whether the royal Spanish father-in-law, on the same occasion, should or should not salute the Queen-mother; who, on any given occasion, should have a tabouret, who a pliant, who a chair, who an arm-chair; who should enter the King's ruelle, or her own, or pass out by the private stairway; how she should arrange the duchesses at state-funerals: these were the things which tried Mademoiselle's soul, and these fill the later volumes of that autobiography whose earlier record was all a battle and a march. From Condé's "Obey Mademoiselle's orders as my own," we come down to this: "For my part, I had been worrying myself all day; having been told that the new Queen would not salute me on the lips, and that the King had decided to sustain her in this position. I therefore spoke to Monsieur the Cardinal on the subject, bringing forward as an important precedent in my favor, that the Queen-mother had always kissed the princesses of the blood"; and so on through many pages. Thus lapsed her youth of frolics into an old age of cards.
It is a slight compensation, that this very pettiness makes her chronicles of the age very vivid in details. How she revels in the silver brocades, the violet-colored velvet robes, the crimson velvet carpets, the purple damask curtains fringed with gold and silver, the embroidered fleurs de lis, the wedding-caskets, the cordons of diamonds, the clusters of emeralds en poires with diamonds, and the Isabelle-colored linen, whereby hangs a tale! She still kept up her youthful habit of avoiding the sick-rooms of her kindred, but how magnificently she mourned them when they died! Her brief, genuine, but quite unexpected sorrow for her father was speedily assuaged by the opportunity it gave her to introduce the fashion of gray mourning, instead of black; it had previously, it seems, been worn by widows only. Servants and horses were all put in deep black, however, and "the court observed that I was very magnifique in all my arrangements." On the other hand, be it recorded, that our Mademoiselle, chivalrous royalist to the last, was the only person at the French court who refused to wear mourning for the usurper Cromwell!
But, if thus addicted to funeral pageants, it is needless to say that weddings occupied their full proportion of her thoughts. Her schemes for matrimony fill the larger portion of her history, and are, like all the rest, a diamond necklace of great names. In the boudoir, as in the field, her campaigns were superb, but she was cheated of the results. Her picture should have been painted, like that of Justice, with sword and scales,-- the one for foes, the other for lovers. She spent her life in weighing them,--monarch against monarch, a king in hand against an emperor in the bush. We have it on her own authority, which, in such matters, was unsurpassable, that she was "the best match in Europe, except the Infanta of Spain." Not a marriageable prince in Christendom, therefore, can hover near the French court, but this middle-aged sensitive-plant prepares to close her leaves and be coy. The procession of her wooers files before our wondering eyes, and each the likeness of a kingly crown has on: Louis himself, her bright possibility of twenty years, till he takes her at her own estimate and prefers the Infanta,--Monsieur, his younger brother, Philip IV. of Spain, Charles II. of England, the Emperor of Germany, the Archduke Leopold of Austria,--prospective king of Holland,--the King of Portugal, the Prince of Denmark, the Elector of Bavaria, the Duke of Savoy, Condé's son, and Condé himself. For the last of these alone she seems to have felt any real affection. Their tie was more than cousinly; the same heroic blood of the early Bourbons was in them, they were trained by the same precocious successes, only six years apart in age, and beginning with that hearty mutual aversion which is so often the parent of love, in impulsive natures like theirs. Their flirtation was platonic, but chronic; and whenever poor, heroic, desolate Clémence de Maille was sicker than usual, these cousins were walking side by side in the Tuileries gardens, and dreaming, almost in silence, of what might be, while Mazarin shuddered at the thought of mating two such eagles together.--So passed her life, and at last, like many a matchmaking lady, she baffled all the gossips, and left them all in laughter when her choice was made.
The tale stands embalmed forever in the famous letter of Madame de Sévigné to her cousin, M. de Coulanges, written on Monday, December 15, 1670. It can never be translated too often, so we will risk it again.
"I have now to announce to you the most astonishing circumstance, the most surprising, most marvellous, most triumphant, most bewildering, most unheard-of, most singular, most extraordinary, most incredible, most unexpected, most grand, most trivial, most rare, most common, most notorious, most secret, (till to-day,) most brilliant, most desirable; indeed, a thing to which past ages afford but one parallel, and that a poor one; a thing which we can scarcely believe at Paris; how can it be believed at Lyons? a thing which excites the compassion of all the world, and the delight of Madame de Rohan and Madame de Hauterive; a thing which is to be done on Sunday, when those who see it will hardly believe their eyes; a thing which will be done on Sunday, and which might perhaps be impossible on Monday: I cannot possibly announce it; guess it; I give you three guesses; try now. If you will not, I must tell you. M. de Lauzun marries on Sunday, at the Louvre,--whom now? I give you three guesses,-- six,--a hundred. Madame de Coulanges says, 'It is not hard to guess; it is Madame de la Vallière.' Not at all, Madame! 'Mlle. de Retz?' Not a bit; you are a mere provincial. 'How absurd!' you say; 'it is Mlle. Colbert.' Not that, either. 'Then, of course, it is Mlle. de Créqui.' Not right yet. Must I tell you, then? Listen! he marries on Sunday, at the Louvre, by his Majesty's permission, Mademoiselle,--Mademoiselle de,--Mademoiselle (will you guess again?)--he marries MADEMOISELLE,--La Grande Mademoiselle,-- Mademoiselle, daughter of the late Monsieur,--Mademoiselle, grand- daughter of Henri Quatre,--Mademoiselle d'Eu,--Mademoiselle de Dombes,-- Mademoiselle de Montpensier,--Mademoiselle d'Orléans,--Mademoiselle, the King's own cousin,--Mademoiselle, destined for the throne,--Mademoiselle, the only fit match in France for Monsieur [the King's brother];--there's a piece of information for you! If you shriek,--if you are beside yourself,--if you say it is a hoax, false, mere gossip, stuff, and nonsense,--if, finally, you say hard things about us, we do not complain; we took the news in the same way. Adieu; the letters by this post will show you whether we have told the truth."
Poor Mademoiselle! Madame de Sévigné was right in one thing,--if it were not done promptly, it might prove impracticable. Like Ralph Roister Doister, she should ha' been married o' Sunday. Duly the contract was signed, by which Lauzun took the name of M. de Montpensier and the largest fortune in the kingdom, surrendered without reservation, all, all to him; but Mazarin had bribed the notary to four hours' delay, and during that time the King was brought to change his mind, to revoke his consent, and to contradict the letters he had written to foreign courts, formally announcing the nuptials of the first princess of the blood. In reading the Memoirs of Mademoiselle, one forgets all the absurdity of all her long amatory angling for the handsome young guardsman, in pity for her deep despair. When she went to remonstrate with the King, the two royal cousins fell on their knees, embraced, "and thus we remained for near three quarters of an hour, not a word being spoken during the whole time, but both drowned in tears." Reviving, she told the King, with her usual frankness, that he was "like apes who caress children and suffocate them"; and this high-minded monarch soon proceeded to justify her remark by ordering her lover to the Castle of Pignerol, to prevent a private marriage,--which had probably taken place already. Ten years passed, before the labors and wealth of this constant and untiring wife could obtain her husband's release; and when he was discharged at last, he came out a changed, soured, selfish, ungrateful man. "Just Heaven," she had exclaimed in her youth, "would not bestow such a woman as myself upon a man who was unworthy of her." But perhaps Heaven was juster than she thought. They soon parted again forever, and he went to England, there to atone for these inglorious earlier days by one deed of heroic loyalty which it is not ours to tell.
And then unrolled the gorgeous tapestry of the maturer reign of the Grand Monarque,--that sovereign whom his priests in their liturgy styled "the chief work of the Divine hands," and of whom Mazarin said, more honestly, that there was material enough in him for four kings and one honest man. The "Moi-même" of his boyish resolution became the "L'état, c'est moi" of his maturer egotism; Spain yielded to France the mastery of the land, as she had already yielded to Holland and England the sea; Turenne fell at Sassbach, Condé sheathed his sword at Chantilly; Bossuet and Bourdaloue, preaching the funeral sermons of these heroes, praised their glories, and forgot, as preachers will, their sins; Vatel committed suicide because his Majesty had not fish enough for breakfast; the Princess Palatine died in a convent, and the Princess Condé in a prison; the fair Sévigné chose the better part, and the fairer Montespan the worse; the lovely La Vallière walked through sin to saintliness, and poor Marie de Mancini through saintliness to sin; Voiture and Benserade and Corneille passed away, and Racine and Molière reigned in their stead; and Mademoiselle, who had won the first campaigns of her life and lost all the rest, died a weary old woman at sixty-seven.
Thus wrecked and wasted, her opportunity past, her career a disappointment, she leaves us only the passing glimpse of what she was, and the hazy possibility of what she might have been. Perhaps the defect was, after all, in herself; perhaps the soil was not deep enough to produce anything but a few stray heroisms, bright and transitory;--perhaps otherwise. What fascinates us in her is simply her daring, that inborn fire of the blood to which danger is its own exceeding great reward; a quality which always kindles enthusiasm, and justly,--but which is a thing of temperament, not necessarily joined with any other great qualities, and worthless when it stands alone--But she had other resources,--weapons, at least, if not qualities; she had birth, wealth, ambition, decision, pride, perseverance, ingenuity; beauty not slight, though not equalling the superb Longuevilles and Chevreuses of the age; great personal magnetism, more than average cultivation for that period, and unsullied chastity. Who can say what these things might have ended in, under other circumstances? We have seen how Mazarin, who read all hearts but the saintly, dreaded the conjunction of herself and Condé; it is scarcely possible to doubt that it would have placed a new line of Bourbons on the throne. Had she married Louis XIV., she might not have controlled that steadier will, but there would have been two Grand Monarques instead of one; had she accepted Charles II. of England, she might have only increased his despotic tendencies, but she would easily have disposed of the Duchess of Portsmouth; had she won Ferdinand III., Germany might have suffered less by the Peace of Westphalia; had she chosen Alphonso Henry, the House of Braganza would again have been upheld by a woman's hand. But she did none of these things, and her only epitaph is that dreary might-have-been.
Nay, not the only one,--for one visible record of her, at least, the soil of France cherishes among its chiefest treasures. When the Paris butterflies flutter for a summer day to the decaying watering-place of Dieppe, some American wanderer, who flutters with them, may cast perchance a longing eye to where the hamlet of Eu stands amid its verdant meadows, two miles away, still lovely as when the Archbishop Laurent chose it out of all the world for his "place of eternal rest," six centuries ago. But it is not for its memories of priestly tombs and miracles that the summer visitor seeks it now, nor because the savant loves its ancient sea- margin or its Roman remains; nor is it because the little Bresle winds gracefully through its soft bed, beneath forests green in the sunshine, glorious in the gloom; it is not for the memories of Rollo and William the Conqueror, which fill with visionary shapes, grander than the living, the corridors of its half-desolate château. It is because these storied walls, often ruined, often rebuilt, still shelter a gallery of historic portraits such as the world cannot equal; there is not a Bourbon king, nor a Bourbon battle, nor one great name among the courtier contemporaries of Bourbons, that is not represented there; the "Hall of the Guises" contains kindred faces, from all the realms of Christendom; the "Salon des Rois" holds Joan of Arc, sculptured in marble by the hand of a princess; in the drawing- room, Père la Chaise and Marion de l'Orme are side by side, and the angelic beauty of Agnes Sorel floods the great hall with light, like a sunbeam; and in this priceless treasure-house, worth more to France than almost fair Normandy itself, this gallery of glory, first arranged at Choisy, then transferred hither to console the solitude of a weeping woman, the wanderer finds the only remaining memorial of La Grande Mademoiselle.
When the reaper's task was ended, and the summer wearing late, Parson Avery sailed from Newbury with his wife and children eight, Dropping down the river harbor in the shallop Watch and Wait.
Pleasantly lay the clearings in the mellow summer-morn, And the newly-planted orchards dropping their fruits first-born, And the homesteads like brown islands amidst a sea of corn.
Broad meadows reaching seaward the tided creeks between, And hills rolled, wave-like, inland, with oaks and walnuts green: A fairer home, a goodlier land, his eye had never seen.
Yet away sailed Parson Avery, away where duty led, And the voice of God seemed calling, to break the living bread To the souls of fishers starving on the rocks of Marblehead!
Blotted out was all the coast-line, gone were rock and wood and sand; Grimly anxious stood the helmsman with the tiller in his hand, And questioned of the darkness what was sea and what was land.
And the preacher heard his dear ones, nestled round him, weeping sore: "Never heed, my little children! Christ is walking on before To the pleasant land of Heaven, where the sea shall be no more!"
All at once the great cloud parted, like a curtain drawn aside, To let down the torch of lightning on the terror far and wide; And the thunder and the whirlwind together smote the tide.
There was wailing in the shallop, woman's wail and man's despair, A crash of breaking timbers on the rocks so sharp and bare, And through it all the murmur of Father Avery's prayer.
From the struggle in the darkness with the wild waves and the blast, On a rock, where every billow broke above him as it passed, Alone of all his household the man of God was cast.
There a comrade heard him praying in the pause of wave and wind: "All my own have gone before me, and I linger just behind; Not for life I ask, but only for the rest thy ransomed find!
"In this night of death I challenge the promise of thy Word! Let me see the great salvation of which mine ears have heard! Let me pass from hence forgiven, through the grace of Christ, our Lord!
"In the baptism of these waters wash white my every sin, And let me follow up to Thee my household and my kin! Open the sea-gate of thy Heaven and let me enter in!"
The ear of God was open to his servant's last request; As the strong wave swept him downward the sweet prayer upward pressed, And the soul of Father Avery went with it to his rest.
There was wailing on the mainland from the rocks of Marblehead, In the stricken church of Newbury the notes for prayer were read, And long by board and hearthstone the living mourned the dead.
And still the fishers out-bound, or scudding from the squall, With grave and reverent faces the ancient tale recall, When they see the white waves breaking on the "Rock of Avery's Fall!"
It is the privilege of authors and artists to see and to describe; to "see clearly and describe vividly" gives the pass on all state occasions. It is the "cap of darkness" and the talaria, and wafts them whither they will. The doors of boudoirs and senate-chambers open quickly, and close after them,--excluding the talentless and staring rabble. I, who am one of the humblest of the seers,--a universal admirer of all things beautiful and great,--from the commonwealths of Plato and Solon, severally, expulsed, as poet without music or politic, and a follower of the great,--I, from my dormitory, or nest, of twelve feet square, can, at an hour's notice, or less, enter palaces, and bear away, unchecked and unquestioned, those imagines of Des Cartes which emanate or are thrown off from all forms,-- and this, not in imagination, but in the flesh.
Whether it was the "tone of society" which pervaded my "Florentine letters," or my noted description of the boudoir of Egeria Mentale, I could not just now determine; but these, and other humble efforts of mine, made me known in palaces as a painter of beauty and magnificence; and I have been in demand, to do for wealth what wealth cannot do for itself,-- namely, make it live a little, or, at least, spread as far, in fame, as the rings of a stone-plash on a great pond.
I enjoy friendships and regards which would satisfy the most fastidious. Are not the Denslows enormously rich? Is not Dalton a sovereign of elegance? It was I who gave the fame of these qualities to the world, in true colors, not flattered. And they know it, and love me. Honoria Denslow is the most beautiful and truly charming woman of society. It was I who first said it; and she is my friend, and loves me. I defy poverty; the wealth of all the senses is mine, without effort. I desire not to be one of those who mingle as principals and sufferers; for they are less causes than effects. As the Florentine in the Inferno saw the souls of unfortunate lovers borne upon a whirlwind, so have I seen all things fair and precious,--outpourings of wealth,--all the talents,--all the offerings of duty and devotion,--angelic graces of person and of soul,--borne and swept violently around on the circular gale. Wealth is only an enlargement of the material boundary, and leaves the spirit free to dash to and fro, and exhaust itself in vain efforts.--But I am philosophizing,--oddly enough,--when I should describe.
An exquisite little note from Honoria, sent at the last moment, asking me to be present that evening at a "select" party, which was to open the "new house,"--the little palace of the Denslows,--lay beside me on the table. It was within thirty minutes of nine o'clock, the hour I had fixed for going. A howling winter out of doors, a clear fire glowing in my little grate. My arm-chair, a magnificent present from Honoria, shaming the wooden fixtures of the poor room, invited to meditation, and perhaps the composition of some delicate periods. They formed slowly. Time, it is said, devours all things; but imagination, in turn, devours time,--and, indeed, swallowed my half-hour at a gulp. The neighboring church-clock tolled nine. I was belated, and hurried away.
It was a reunion of only three hundred invitations, selected by my friend Dalton, the intimate and adviser of Honoria. So happy were their combinations, scarce a dozen were absent or declined.
At eleven, the guests began to assemble. Introductions were almost needless. Each person was a recognized member of "society." One-half of the number were women,--many of them young, beautiful, accomplished,-- heiresses, "charming widows," poetesses of real celebrity, and, rarer still, of good repute,--wives of millionnaires, flashing in satin and diamonds. The men, on their side, were of all professions and arts, and of every grade of celebrity, from senator to merchant,--each distinguished by some personal attribute or talent; and in all was the gift, so rare, of manners and conversation. It was a company of undoubted gentlemen, as truly entitled to respect and admiration as if they stood about a throne. They were the untitled nobility of Nature, wealth, and genius.
As I stood looking, with placid admiration, from a recess, upon a brilliant tableau of beautiful women and celebrated men that had accidentally arranged itself before me, Dalton touched my arm.
"I have seen," said he, "aristocratic and republican réunions of the purest mode in Paris, the court and the banker's circle of London, conversazioni at Rome and Florence. Every face in this room is intelligent, and nearly all either beautiful, remarkable, or commanding. Observe those five women standing with Denslow and Adonaïs,--grandeur, sweetness, grace, form, purity; each has an attribute. It is a rare assemblage of superior human beings. The world cannot surpass it. And, by the by, the rooms are superb."
They were, indeed, magnificent: two grand suites, on either side a central hall of Gothic structure, in white marble, with light, aërial staircases and gilded balconies. Each suite was a separate miracle: the height, the breadth, the columnal divisions; the wonderful delicacy of the arches, upon which rested ceilings frescoed with incomparable art. In one compartment the arches and caryatides were of black marble; in another, of snowy Parian; in a third, of wood, exquisitely carved, and joined like one piece, as if it were a natural growth; vines rising at the bases of the walls, and spreading under the roof. There was no forced consistency. Forms suitable only for the support of heavy masses of masonry, or for the solemn effects of church interiors, were not here introduced. From straight window-cornices of dark wood, slenderly gilt, but richly carved, fell cataracts of gleaming satin, softened in effect with laces of rare appreciation.
The frescoes and panel-work were a study by themselves, uniting the classic and modern styles in allegorical subjects. The paintings, selected by the taste of Dalton, to overpower the darkness of the rooms by intensity of color, were incorporated with the walls. There were but few mirrors. At the end of each suite, one, of fabulous size, without frame, made to appear, by a cunning arrangement of dark draperies, like a transparent portion of the wall itself, extended the magnificence of the apartments.
Not a flame nor a jet was anywhere visible. Tinted vases, pendent, or resting upon pedestals, distributed harmonies and thoughts of light rather than light itself; and yet all was visible, effulgent. The columns which separated the apartments seemed to be composed of masses of richly-colored flames, compelled, by some ingenious alchemy, to assume the form and office of columns.
In New York, par excellence the city of private gorgeousness and petite magnificence, nothing had yet been seen equal to the rooms of the glorious Denslow Palace. Even Dalton, the most capricious and critical of men, whose nice vision had absorbed the elegancies of European taste, pronounced them superb. The upholstery and ornamentation were composed under the direction of celebrated artists. Palmer was consulted on the marbles. Page (at Rome) advised the cartoons for the frescoes, and gave laws for the colors and disposition of the draperies. The paintings, panelled in the walls, were modern, triumphs of the art and genius of the New World.
Until the hour for dancing, prolonged melodies of themes modulated in the happiest moments of the great composers floated in the perfumed air from a company of unseen musicians, while the guests moved through the vast apartments, charmed or exalted by their splendor, or conversed in groups, every voice subdued and intelligent.
At midnight began the modish music of the dance, and groups of beautiful girls moved like the atoms of Chladni on the vibrating crystal, with their partners, to the sound of harps and violins, in pleasing figures or inebriating spirals.
When supper was served, the ivory fronts of a cabinet of gems divided itself in the centre,--the two halves revolving upon silver hinges,--and discovered a hall of great height and dimensions, walled with crimson damask, supporting pictures of all the masters of modern art. The dome- like roof of this hall was of marble variously colored, and the floor tessellated and mosaicked in grotesque and graceful figures of Vesuvian lavas and painted porcelain.
The tables, couches, chairs, and vis-a-vis in this hall were of plain pattern and neutral dead colors, not to overpower or fade the pictures on the walls, or the gold and Parian service of the cedar tables.
But the chief beauty of this unequalled supper-room was an immense bronze candelabrum, which rose in the centre from a column of black marble. It was the figure of an Italian elm, slender and of thin foliage, embraced, almost enveloped, in a vine, which reached out and supported itself in hanging from all the branches; the twigs bearing fruit, not of grapes, but of a hundred little spheres of crimson, violet, and golden light, whose combination produced a soft atmosphere of no certain color.
Neither Honoria, Dalton, nor myself remained long in the gallery. We retired with a select few, and were served in an antechamber, separated from the grand reception-room by an arch, through which, by putting aside a silk curtain, Honoria could see, at a distance, any that entered, as they passed in from the hall.
My own position was such that I could look over her shoulder and see as she saw. Vis-a-vis with her, and consequently with myself, was Adonaïs, a celebrated author, and person of the beau monde. On his left, Dalton, always mysteriously elegant and dangerously witty. Denslow and Jeffrey Lethal, the critic, completed our circle. The conversation was easy, animated, personal.
"You are fortunate in having a woman of taste to manage your entertainments," said Lethal, in answer to a remark of Denslow's,--"but in bringing these people together she has made a sad blunder."
"And what may that be?" inquired Dalton, mildly.
"Your guests are too well behaved, too fine, and on their guard; there are no butts, no palpable fools or vulgarians; and, worse, there are many distinguished, but no one great man,--no social or intellectual sovereign of the occasion."
Honoria looked inquiringly at Lethal. "Pray, Mr. Lethal, tell me who he is? I thought there was no such person in America," she added, with a look of reproachful inquiry at Dalton and myself, as if we should have found this sovereign and suggested him.
"You are right, my dear queen; Lethal is joking," responded Dalton; "we are a democracy, and have only a queen of"----
"Water ices," interrupted Lethal; "but, as for the king you seek, as democracies finally come to that,"----
"Good Heavens!" exclaimed Honoria, raising the curtain, "it must be he that is coming in."
Honoria frowned slightly, rose, and advanced to meet a new-comer, who had entered unannounced, and was advancing alone. Dalton followed to support her. I observed their movements,--Lethal and Adonaïs using my face as a mirror of what was passing beyond the curtain.
The masses of level light from the columns on the left seemed to envelope the stranger, who came toward us from the entrance, as if he had divined the presence of Honoria in the alcove.
He was about the middle height, Napoleonic in form and bearing, with features of marble paleness, firm, and sharply defined. His hair and magnificent Asiatic beard were jetty black, curling, and naturally disposed. Under his dark and solid brows gleamed large eyes of abysmal blackness and intensity.
"Is it Lord N----?" whispered Lethal, moved from his habitual coldness by the astonishment which he read in my face.
"Senator D----, perhaps," suggested Denslow, whose ideas, like his person, aspired to the senatorial.
"Dumas," hinted Adonaïs, an admirer of French literature. "I heard he was expected."
"No," I answered, "but certainly in appearance the most noticeable man living. Let us go out and be introduced."
"Perhaps," said Lethal, "it is the d----."
All rose instantly at the idea, and we went forward, urged by irresistible curiosity.
As we drew near the stranger, who was conversing with Honoria and Dalton, a shudder went through me. It was a thrill of the universal Boswell; I seemed to feel the presence of "the most aristocratic man of the age."
Honoria introduced me. "My Lord Duke, allow me to present my friend, Mr. De Vere; Mr. De Vere, the Duke of Rosecouleur."
Was I, then, face to face with, nay, touching the hand of a highness,--and that highness the monarch of the ton? And is this a ducal hand, white as the albescent down of the eider-duck, which presses mine with a tender touch, so haughty and so delicately graduated to my standing as "friend" of the exquisite Honoria? It was too much; I could have wept; my senses rather failed.
Dalton fell short of himself; for, though his head stooped to none, unless conventionally, the sudden and unaccountable presence of the Duke of Rosecouleur annoyed and perplexed him. His own sovereignty was threatened.
Lethal stiffened himself to the ordeal of an introduction; the affair seemed to exasperate him. Denslow alone, of the men, was in his element. Pompous and soft, he "cottoned" to the grandeur with the instinct of a born satellite, and his eyes grew brighter, his body more shining and rotund, his back more concave. His bon-vivant tones, jolly and conventional, sounded a pure barytone to the clear soprano of Honoria, in the harmony of an obsequious welcome.
The Duke of Rosecouleur glanced around him approvingly upon the apartments. I believed that he had never seen anything more beautiful than the petite palace of Honoria, or more ravishing than herself. He said little, in a low voice, and always to one person at a time. His answers and remarks were simple and well-turned.
Dalton allowed the others to move on, and by a slight sign drew me to him.
"It is unexpected," he said, in a thoughtful manner, looking me full in the eyes.
"You knew the Duke of Rosecouleur in Europe?"
"At Paris, yes,--and in Italy he was a travel friend; but we heard lately that he had retired upon his estates in England; and certainly, he is the last person we looked for here."
"That is a part of the singularity."
"His name was not in the published list of arrivals; but he may have left England incognito. Is a mistake possible?"
"No! there is but one such man in Europe;--a handsomer or a richer does not live."
"An eye of wonderful depth."
"And his dress and manner."
"Not a shadow of pretence;--the essence of good-breeding founded upon extensive knowledge, and a thorough sense of position and its advantages; --in fact, the Napoleon of the parlor."
"But, Dalton," said I, nervously, "no one attends him."
"No,--I thought so at first; but do you see that Mephistophelean figure, in black, who follows the Duke a few paces behind, and is introduced to no one?"
"Yes. A singular creature, truly!--how thin he is!"
"That shadow that follows his Highness is, in fact, the famous valet, Rêve de Noir,--the prince of servants. The Duke goes nowhere without this man as a shadow. He asserts that Rêve de Noir has no soul; and I believe him. The face is that of a demon. It is a separate creation, equally wonderful with the master, but not human. He was condensed out of the atmosphere of the great world."
As we were speaking, we observed a crowd of distinguished persons gathered about and following his Highness, as he moved. He spoke now to one; now to another. Honoria, fascinated, her beauty every instant becoming more radiant, just leaned, with the lightest pressure, upon the Duke's arm. They were promenading through the rooms. The music, soft and low, continued, but the groups of dancers broke up, the loiterers in the gallery came in, and as the sun draws his fifty, perhaps his hundreds of planets, circling around and near him, this noble luminary centred in himself the attention of all. If they could not speak with him, they could at least speak of him. If they could not touch his hand, they could pass before him and give one glance at his eyes. The less aristocratic were even satisfied for the moment with watching the singular being, Rêve de Noir,--who caught no one's eye, seemed to see no one but his master,--and yet was not here nor there, nor in any place,--never in the way, a thing of air, and not tangible, but only black.
At a signal, he would advance and present to his master a perfume, a laced handkerchief, a rose of rubies, a diamond clasp; of many with whom he spoke the liberal Duke begged the acceptance of some little token, as an earnest of his esteem. After interchanging a few words with Jeffrey Lethal,--who dared not utter a sarcasm, though he chafed visibly under the restraint,--the Duke's tasteful generosity suggested a seal ring, with an intaglio head of Swift cut in opal, the mineral emblem of wit, which dulls in the sunlight of fortune, and recovers its fiery points in the shade of adversity;--Rêve de Noir, with a movement so slight, 'twas like the flitting of a bat, placed the seal in the hand of the Duke, who, with a charming and irresistible grace, compelled Lethal to receive it.
To Denslow, Honoria, Dalton, and myself he offered nothing.--Strange?--Not at all. Was he not the guest, and had not I been presented to him by Honoria as her "friend?"--a word of pregnant meaning to a Duke of Rosecouleur!
To Adonaïs he gave a lock of hair of the great novelist, Dumas, in a locket of yellow tourmaline,--a stone usually black. Lethal smiled at this. He felt relieved.
"The Duke," thought he, "must be a humorist."
From my coarse way of describing this, you would suppose that it was a farcical exhibition of vulgar extravagance, and the Duke a madman or an impostor; but the effect was different. It was done with grace, and, in the midst of so much else, it attracted only that side regard, at intervals, which is sure to surprise and excite awe.
Honoria had almost ceased to converse with us. It was painful to her to talk with any person. She followed the Duke with her eyes. When, by some delicate allusion or attention, he let her perceive that she was in his thoughts, a mantling color overspread her features, and then gave way to paleness, and a manner which attracted universal remark. It was then Honoria abdicated that throne of conventional purity which hitherto she had held undisputed. Women who were plain in her presence outshone Honoria, by meeting this ducal apparition, that called itself Rosecouleur,--and which might have been, for aught they knew, a fume of the Infernal, shaped to deceive us all,--with calm and haughty propriety.
The sensation did not subside. The music of the waltz invited a renewal of that intoxicating whirl which isolates friends and lovers, in whispering and sighing pairs, in the midst of a great assemblage. All the world looked on, when Honoria Denslow placed her hand upon the shoulder of the Duke of Rosecouleur, and the noble and beautiful forms began silently and smoothly turning, with a dream-like motion. Soon she lifted her lovely eyes and steadied their rays upon his. She leaned wholly upon his arm, and the gloved hands completed the magnetic circle. At the close of the first waltz, she rested a moment, leaning upon his shoulder, and his hand still held hers,--a liberty often assumed and permitted, but not to the nobles and the monarchs of society. She fell farther, and her ideal beauty faded into a sensuous.
Honoria was lost. Dalton saw it. We retired together to a room apart. He was dispirited; called for and drank rapidly a bottle of Champagne;--it was insufficient.
"De Vere," said he, "affairs go badly."
"This cursed thing that people call a duke--it kills me."
"Of course you did;--the world saw; the servants saw. Honoria has fallen to-night. I shall transfer my allegiance."
"A born sycophant;--he thinks it natural that his wife should love a duke, and a duke love his wife."
"So would you, if you were any other than you are."
"Faugh! it is human nature."
"Not so; would you not as soon strangle this Rosecouleur for making love to your wife in public, as you would another man?"
"Pooh! I give you up. If you had
simply said, 'Yes,' it would have satisfied me."
Dalton seemed perplexed. He called a servant and sent him with an order for Nalson, the usher, to come instantly to him.
Nalson appeared, with his white gloves and mahogany face.
"Nalson, you were a servant of the Duke in England?"
"Is the person now in the rooms the Duke of Rosecouleur?"
"I have not seen him, Sir."
"Go immediately, study the man well,--do you hear?--and come to me. Let no one know your purpose."
I was alarmed. If "the Duke" should prove to be an impostor, we were indeed ruined.
In five minutes,--an hour, it seemed,--Nalson stood before us.
"Is it he?" said Dalton, looking fixedly upon the face of the usher.
"Speak the truth; you need not be afraid."
"I cannot tell, Sir."
"Nonsense! go and look again."
"It is of no use, Mr. Dalton; you, who are as well acquainted with the personal appearance of his Highness as I am, you have been deceived,--if I have."
"Nalson, do you believe that this person is an impostor?" said Dalton, pointing at myself.
"Who? Mr. De Vere, Sir?"
"If, then, you know at sight that this gentleman is my friend Mr. De Vere, why do you hesitate about the other?"
"But the imitation is perfect. And there is Rêve de Noir."
"Yes, did Rêve de Noir recognize you?"
"I have not caught his eye. You know, Sir, that this Rêve is not, and never was, like other men; he is a devil. One knows, and one does not know him."
"Were you at the door when the Duke entered?"
"I think not; at least--I cannot tell. When I first saw him, he was in the room, speaking with Madam Denslow."
"Nalson, you have done wrong; no one should have entered unannounced. Send the doorkeeper to me."
The doorkeeper came; a gigantic negro, magnificently attired.
"Jupiter, you were at the door when the Duke of Rosecouleur entered?"
"Did the Duke and his man come in a carriage?"
"Yes, Sir,--a hack."
"You may go. They are not devils," said Dalton, musingly, "or they would not have come in a carriage."
"You seem to have studied the spiritual mode of locomotion," said I.
Dalton frowned. "This is serious, De Vere."
"What mean you?"
"I mean that Denslow is a bankrupt."
"You know what an influence he carries in political circles. The G----rs, the S----es, and their kind, have more talent, but Denslow enjoys the secret of popularity."
"Well, I know it."
"In the middle counties, where he owns vast estates, and has been liberal to debtors and tenants, he carries great favor; both parties respect him for his ignorance and pomposity, which they mistake for simplicity and power, as usual. The estates are mortgaged three deep, and will not hold out a year. The shares of the Millionnaire's Hotel and the Poor Man's Bank in the B----y are worthless. Denslow's railroad schemes have absorbed the capital of those concerns."
"But he had three millions."
"Nominally. This palace has actually sunk his income."
"Wisdom, if you will listen."
"I am all attention."
"The use of money is to create and hold power. Denslow was certain of the popular and county votes; he needed only the aristocratic support, and the A---- people would have made him Senator."
"Fool, why was he not satisfied with his money?"
"Do you call the farmer fool, because he is not satisfied with the soil, but wishes to grow wheat thereon? Money is the soil of power. For much less than a million one may gratify the senses; great fortunes are not for sensual luxuries, but for those of the soul. To the facts, then. The advent of this mysterious duke,--whom I doubt,--hailed by Denslow and Honoria as a piece of wonderful good-fortune, has already shaken him and ruined the prestige of his wife. They are mad and blind."
"Tell me, in plain prose, the how and the why."
"De Vere, you are dull. There are three hundred people in the rooms of the Denslow Palace; these people are the 'aristocracy.' They control the sentiments of the 'better class.' Opinion, like dress, descends from them. They no longer respect Denslow, and their women have seen the weakness of Honoria."
"Yes, but Denslow still has 'the people.'"
"That is not enough. I have calculated the chances, and mustered all our available force. We shall have no support among the 'better class,' since we are disgraced with the 'millionnaires.'"
At this moment Denslow came in.
"Ah! Dalton,--like you! I have been looking for you to show the pictures. Devil a thing I know about them. The Duke wondered at your absence."
"Where is Honoria?"
"Ill, ill,--fainted. The house is new; smell of new wood and mortar; deused disagreeable in Honoria. If it had not been for the Duke, she would have fallen. That's a monstrous clever fellow, that Rosecouleur. Admires Honoria vastly. Come,--the pictures."
"Mr. John Vanbrugen Denslow, you are an ass!"
The large, smooth, florid millionnaire, dreaming only of senatorial honors, the shouts of the multitude, and the adoration of a party press, cowered like a dog under the lash of the "man of society."
"Rather rough,--ha, De Vere? What have I done? Am I an ass because I know nothing of pictures? Come, Dalton, you are harsh with your old friend."
"Denslow, I have told you a thousand times never to concede position."
"Yes, but this is a duke, man,--a prince!"
"This from you? By Jove, De Vere, I wish you and I could live a hundred years, to see a republican aristocrat. We are still mere provincials," added Dalton, with a sigh.
Denslow perspired with mortification.
"You use me badly,--I tell you, Dalton, this Rosecouleur is a devil. Condescend to him! be haughty and--what do you call it?--urbane to him! I defy you to do it, with all your impudence. Why, his valet, that shadow that glides after him, is too much for me. Try him yourself, man."
"Who, the valet?"
"No, the master,--though I might have said the valet."
"Did I yield in Paris?"
"No, but you were of the embassy, and--and--no one really knew us, you know."
Dalton pressed his lips hard together.
"Come," said he, "De Vere, let us try a fall with this Titan of the carpet."
Denslow hastened back to the Duke. I followed Dalton; but as for me, bah! I am a cipher.
The room in which we were adjoined Honoria's boudoir, from which a secret passage led down by a spiral to a panel behind hangings; raising these, one could enter the drawing-room unobserved. Dalton paused midway in the secret passage, and through a loop or narrow window concealed by architectural ornaments, and which overlooked the great drawing-rooms, made a reconnaissance of the field.
Nights of Venice! what a scene was there! The vine-branch chandeliers, crystal-fruited, which depended from the slender ribs of the ceiling, cast a rosy dawn of light, deepening the green and crimson of draperies and carpets, making an air like sunrise in the bowers of a forest. Form and order were everywhere visible, though unobtrusive. Arch beyond arch, to fourth apartments, lessening in dimension, with increase of wealth;-- groups of beautiful women, on either hand, seated or half reclined; the pure or rich hues of their robes blending imperceptibly, or in gorgeous contrasts, with the soft outlines and colors of their supports; a banquet for the eyes and the mind; the perfect work of art and culture;--gliding about and among these, or, with others, springing and revolving in that monarch of all measures, which blends luxury and purity, until it is either the one or the other, moved the men.
"That is my work," exclaimed Dalton, unconsciously.
"Not all, I think."
"I mean the combinations,--the effect. But see! Honoria will again accept the Duke's invitation. He is coming to her. Let us prevent it."
He slipped away; and I, remaining at my post of observation, saw him, an instant later, passing quickly across the floor among the dancers, toward Honoria. The Duke of Rosecouleur arrived at the same instant before her. She smiled sorrowfully upon Dalton, and held out her hand in a languid manner toward the Duke, and again they floated away upon the eddies of the music. I followed them with eyes fixed in admiration. It was a vision of the orgies of Olympus,--Zeus and Aphrodite circling to a theme of Chronos.
Had Honoria tasted of the Indian drug, the weed of paradise? Her eyes, fixed upon the Duke's, shone like molten sapphires. A tress of chestnut hair, escaping from the diamond coronet, sprang lovingly forward and twined itself over her white shoulder and still fairer bosom. Tints like flitting clouds, Titianic, the mystery and despair of art, disclosed to the intelligent eye the feeling that mastered her spirit and her sense. Admirable beauty! Unrivalled, unhappy! The Phidian idol of gold and ivory, into which a demon had entered, overthrown, and the worshippers gazing on it with a scorn unmixed with pity!
The sullen animal rage of battle is nothing to the livor, the burning hatred of the drawing-room. Dalton, defeated, cast a glance of deadly hostility on the Duke. Nor was it lost. While the waltz continued, for ten minutes, he stood motionless. Fearing some untoward event, I came down and took my place near him.
The Duke led Honoria to a sofa. But for his arm she would again have fallen. Dalton had recovered his courage and natural haughtiness. The tone of his voice, rich, tender, and delicately expressive, did not change.
"Honoria, you sent for me; and the Duke wishes to see the pictures. The air of the gallery will relieve your faintness."
He offered his arm, which she, rising mechanically, accepted. A deep blush crimsoned her features, at the allusion to her weakness. Several of the guests moved after us, as we passed into the gallery. The Duke's shadow, Rêve de Noir, following last, closed the ivory doors. We passed through the gallery,--where pyramids of sunny fruits, in baskets of fine porcelain, stood relieved by gold and silver services for wine and coffee, disposed on the tables,--and thence entered another and smaller room, devoid of ornament, but the crimson tapestried walls were covered with works or copies of the great masters of Italy.
Opposite the entrance there was a picture of a woman seated on a throne, behind which stood a demon whispering in her ear and pointing to a handsome youth in the circle of the courtiers. The design and color were in the style of Correggio. Denslow stood close behind me. In advance were Honoria, Dalton, and the Duke, whose conversation was addressed alternately to her and Dalton. The lights of the gallery burst forth in their full refulgence as we approached the picture.
The glorious harmony of its colors,--the force of the shadows, which seemed to be converging in the rays of a single unseen source of light,-- the unity of sentiment, which drew all the groups together, in the idea;-- I had seen all this before, but with the eyes of supercilious criticism. Now the picture smote us with awe.
"I have the original of this excellent work," said the Duke, "in my house at A----, but your copy is nearly as good."
The remark, intended for Honoria, reached the pride of her companion, who blandly replied,--
"Your Highness's exquisite judgment is for once at fault. The piece is original. It was purchased from a well-known collection in Italy, where there are none others of the school."
Honoria was gazing upon the picture, as I was, in silent astonishment.
"If this," said she, "is a copy, what must have been the genuine work? Did you never before notice the likeness between the queen, in that picture, and myself?" she asked, addressing Dalton.
The remark excited general attention. Every one murmured, "The likeness is perfect."
"And the demon behind the queen," said Denslow, insipidly, "resembles your Highness's valet."
There was another exclamation. No sooner was it observed, than the likeness to Rêve de Noir seemed to be even more perfect.
The Duke made a sign.
Rêve de Noir placed himself near the canvas. His profile was the counterpart of that in the painting. He seemed to have stepped out of it.
"It was I," said the Duke, in a gentle voice, and with a smile which just disclosed the ivory line under the black moustache, "who caused this picture to be copied and altered. The beauty of the Hon. Mrs. Denslow, whom it was my highest pleasure to know, seemed to me to surpass that of the queen of my original. I first, with great secrecy, unknown to your wife," continued the Duke, turning to Denslow, "procured a portrait from the life by memory, which was afterwards transferred to this canvas. The resemblance to my attendant is, I confess, remarkable and inexplicable."
"But will you tell us by what accident this copy happened to be in Italy?" asked Dalton.
"You will remember," replied the Duke, coldly, "that at Paris, noticing your expressions of admiration for the picture, which you had seen in my English gallery, I gave you a history of its purchase at Bologna by myself. I sent my artist to Bologna, with orders to place the copy in the gallery and to introduce the portrait of the lady; it was a freak of fancy; I meant it for a surprise; as I felt sure, that, if you saw the picture, you would secure it.
"It seems to me," replied Dalton, "that the onus of proof rests with your Highness."
The Duke made a signal to Rêve de Noir, who again stepped up to the canvas, and, with a short knife or stiletto, removed a small portion of the outer layer of paint, disclosing a very ancient ground of some other and inferior work, over which the copy seemed to have been painted. The proof was unanswerable.
"Good copies," remarked the Duke, "are often better than originals."
He offered his arm to Honoria, and they walked through the gallery,--he entertaining her, and those near him, with comments upon other works. The crowd followed them, as they moved on or returned, as a cloud of gnats follow up and down, and to and fro, a branch tossing in the wind.
"Beaten at every point," I said, mentally, looking on the pale features of the defeated Dalton.
"Yes," he replied, seeing the remark in my face; "but there is yet time. I am satisfied this is the man with whom we travelled; none other could have devised such a plan, or carried it out. He must have fallen in love with Honoria at that time; and simply to see her is the object of his visit to America. He is a connoisseur in pictures as in women; but he must not be allowed to ruin us by his arrogant assumptions."
"Excepting his manner and extraordinary personal advantages, I find nothing in him to awe or astonish."
"His wealth is incalculable; he is used to victories; and that manner which you affect to slight,--that is everything. 'Tis power, success, victory. This man of millions, this prince, does not talk; he has but little use for words. It is manner, and not words, that achieves social and amatory conquests."
"Bah! You are like the politicians, who mistake accidents for principles. But even you are talking, while this pernicious foreigner is acting. See! they have left the gallery, and the crowd of fools is following them. You cannot stem such a tide of folly."
"I deny that they are fools. Why does that sallow wretch, Lethal, follow them? Or that enamelled person, Adonaïs? They are at a serpent-charming, and Honoria is the bird-of-paradise. They watch with delight, and sketch as they observe, the struggles of the poor bird. The others are indifferent or curious, envious or amused. It is only Denslow who is capped and antlered, and the shafts aimed at his foolish brow glance and wound us."
We were left alone in the gallery. Dalton paced back and forth, in his slow, erect, and graceful manner; there was no hurry or agitation.
"How quickly," said he, as his moist eyes met mine, "how like a dream, this glorious vision, this beautiful work, will fade and be forgotten! Nevertheless, I made it," he added, musingly. "It was I who moulded and expanded the sluggish millions."
"You will still be what you are, Dalton,--an artist, more than a man of society. You work with a soft and perishable material."
"A distinction without a difference. Every man is a politician, but only every artist is a gentleman."
"Denslow, then, is ruined."
"Yes and no;--there is nothing in him to ruin. It is I who am the sufferer."
"It was I who formed her manners, and guided her perceptions of the beautiful. It was I who married her to a mass of money, De Vere."
"Did you never love Honoria?"
"Loved? Yes; as Praxiteles may have loved the clay he moulded,--for its smoothness and ductility under the hand."
"The day has not come for such men as you, Dalton."
"Come, and gone, and coming. It has come in dream-land. Let us follow your fools."
The larger gallery was crowded. The pyramids of glowing fruit had disappeared; there was a confused murmur of pairs and parties, chatting and taking wine. The master of the house, his wife, and guest were nowhere to be seen. Lethal and Adonaïs stood apart, conversing. As we approached them unobserved, Dalton checked me. "Hear what these people are saying," said he.
"My opinion is," said Lethal, holding out his crooked forefinger like a claw, "that this soi-disant duke--what the deuse is his name?"
"Rosecouleur," interposed Adonaïs, in a tone of society.
"Right,--Couleur de Rose is an impostor,--an impostor, a sharper. Everything tends that way. What an utter sell it would be!"
"You were with us at the picture scene?" murmured Adonaïs.
"Yes. Dalton looked wretchedly cut up, when that devil of a valet, who must be an accomplice, scraped the new paint off. The picture must have been got up in New York by Dalton and the Denslows."
"Perhaps the Duke, too, was got up in New York, on the same principle," suggested Adonaïs. "Such things are possible. Society is intrinsically rotten, you know, and Dalton"----
"Is a fellow of considerable talent," sneered Lethal,--"but has enemies, who may have planned a duke."
Adonaïs coughed in his cravat, and hinted,--"How would it do to call him 'Barnum Dalton'?"
Adonaïs appeared shocked at himself, and swallowed a minim of wine to cleanse his vocal apparatus from the stain of so coarse an illustration.
"Do you hear those creatures?" whispered Dalton. "They are arranging scandalous paragraphs for the 'Illustration.'"
A moment after, he was gone. I spoke to Lethal and Adonaïs.
"Gentlemen, you are in error about the picture and the Duke; they are as they now appear;--the one, an excellent copy, purchased as an original,-- no uncommon mistake; the other, a genuine highness. How does he strike you?"
Lethal cast his eyes around to see who listened.
"The person," said he, "who is announced here to-night as an English duke seemed to me, of all men I could select, least like one."
"Pray, what is your ideal of an English duke, Mr. Lethal?" asked Adonaïs, with the air of a connoisseur, sure of himself, but hating to offend.
"A plain, solid person, well dressed, but simple; mutton-chop whiskers;
and the manners of a--a----"
"Bear!" said a soft female voice.
"Precisely,--the manners of a bear; a kind of gentlemanly bear, perhaps,--
but still, ursine and heavy; while this person, who seems to have walked out of ----- or a novel, affects me, by his ways and appearance, like a-- a--h'm"----
"Gambler!" said the same female voice, in a conclusive tone.
There was a general soft laugh. Everybody was pleased. All admired, hated, and envied the Duke. It was settled beyond a doubt that he was an impostor,--and that the Denslows were either grossly taken in, or were "selling" their friends. In either case, it was shocking and delightful.
"The fun of the thing," continued Lethal, raising his voice a little, "is, that the painter who got up the old picture must have been as much an admirer of the Hon. Mrs. Denslow as--his--Highness; for, in touching in the queen, he has unconsciously made it a portrait."
The blow was final. I moved away, grieved and mortified to the soul, cursing the intrusion of the mysterious personage whose insolent superiority had overthrown the hopes of my friends.
At the door of the gallery I met G----, the painter, just returned from London. I drew him with me into the inner gallery, to make a thorough examination of the picture. I called his attention to the wonderful resemblance of the queen to Honoria. He did not see it; we looked together, and I began to think that it might have been a delusion. I told the Duke's story of the picture to G----. He examined the canvas, tested the layers of color, and pronounced the work genuine and of immense value. We looked again and again at the queen's head, viewing it in every light. The resemblance to Honoria had disappeared; nor was the demon any longer a figure of the Duke's valet.
"One would think," said G----, laughing, "that you had been mesmerized. If you have been so deceived in a picture, may you not be equally cheated in a man? I am loath to offend; but, indeed, the person whom you call Rosecouleur cannot be the Duke of that title, whom I saw in England. I had leave to copy a picture in his gallery. He was often present. His manners were mild and unassuming,--not at all like those of this man, to whom, I acknowledge, the personal resemblance is surprising. I am afraid our good friends, the Denslows, and Mr. Dalton,--whom I esteem for their patronage of art,--have been taken in by an adventurer."
"But the valet, Rêve de Noir?"
"The Duke had a valet of that name who attended him, and who may, for aught I know, have resembled this one; but probability is against concurrent resemblances. There is also an original of the picture in the Duke's gallery; in fact, the artist, as was not unusual in those days, painted two pictures of the same subject. Both, then, are genuine."
Returning my cordial thanks to the good painter for his timely explanation, I hastened to find Dalton. Drawing him from the midst of a group whom he was entertaining, I communicated G----'s account of the two pictures, and his suspicions in regard to the Duke.
His perplexity was great. "Worse and worse, De Vere! To be ruined by a common adventurer is more disgraceful even than the other misfortune. Besides, our guests are leaving us. At least a hundred of them have gone away with the first impression, and the whole city will have it. The journal reporters have been here. Denslow's principal creditors were among the guests to-night; they went away soon, just after the affair with the picture; to-morrow will be our dark day. If it had not been for this demon of a duke and his familiar, whoever they are, all would have gone well. Now we are distrusted, and they will crush us. Let us fall facing the enemy. Within an hour I will have the truth about the Duke. Did I ever tell you what a price Denslow paid for that picture?"
"No, I do not wish to hear."
"You are right. Come with me."
The novel disrespect excited by the scandal of Honoria and the picture seemed to have inspired the two hundred people who remained with a cheerful ease. Eating, drinking excessively of Denslow's costly wines, dancing to music which grew livelier and more boisterous as the musicians imbibed more of the inspiriting juice, and, catching scraps of the scandal, threw out significant airs, the company of young persons, deserted by their scandalized seniors, had converted the magnificent suite of drawing-rooms into a carnival theatre. Parties of three and four were junketing in corners; laughing servants rushed to and fro as in a café; the lounges were occupied by reclining beauties or languid fops overpowered with wine, about whom lovely young women, flushed with Champagne and mischief, were coquetting and frolicking.
"I warrant you, these people know it is our last night," said Dalton; "and see what a use they make of us! Denslow's rich wines poured away like water; everything soiled, smeared, and overturned; our entertainment, at first stately and gracious as a queen's drawing-room, ending, with the loss of prestige, in the riot of a bal masqué. So fades ambition! But to this duke."
Denslow, who had passed into the polite stage of inebriation, evident to close observers, had arranged a little exclusive circle, which included three women of fashionable reputation, his wife, the Duke, Jeffrey Lethal, and Adonaïs. Rêve de Noir officiated as attendant. The fauteuils and couches were disposed around a pearl table, on which were liquors, coffee, wines, and a few delicacies for Honoria, who had not supped. They were in the purple recess adjoining the third drawing-room. Adonaïs talked with the Duke about Italy; Lethal criticized; while Honoria, in the full splendor of her beauty, outshining and overpowering, dropped here and there a few musical words, like service-notes, to harmonize.
There is no beauty like the newly-enamored. Dalton seemed to forget himself, as he contemplated her, for a moment. Spaces had been left for us; the valet placed chairs.
"Dalton," cried Lethal, "you are in time to decide a question of deep interest;--your friend, De Vere, will assist you. His Highness has given preference to the women of America over those of Italy. Adonaïs, the exquisite and mild, settles his neck-tie against the Duke, and objects in that bland but firm manner which is his. I am the Duke's bottle-holder; Denslow and wife accept that function for the chivalrous Adonaïs."
"I am of the Duke's party," replied Dalton, in his most agreeable manner. "To be in the daily converse and view of the most beautiful women in America, as I have been for years, is a privilege in the cultivation of a pure taste. I saw nothing in Italy, except on canvas, comparable with what I see at this moment. The Duke is right; but in commending his judgment, I attribute to him also sagacity. Beauty is like language; its use is to conceal. One may, under rose-colored commendations, a fine manner, and a flowing style, conceal, as Nature does with personal advantages in men, the gross tastes and vulgar cunning of a charlatan."
Dalton, in saying this, with a manner free from suspicion or excitement, fixed his eyes upon the Duke's.
"You seem to have no faith in either men or women," responded the rich barytone voice of his Highness, the dark upper lip disclosing, as before, the row of square, sharp, ivory teeth.
"Little, very little," responded Dalton, with a sigh. "Your Highness will understand me,--or if not now, presently."
Lethal trod upon Adonaïs's foot; I saw him do it. Adonaïs exchanged glances with a brilliant hawk-faced lady who sat opposite. The lady smiled and touched her companion. Honoria, who saw everything, opened her magnificent eyes to their full extent. Denslow was oblivious.
"In fact," continued Dalton, perceiving the electric flash he had excited, "skepticism is a disease of my intellect. Perhaps the most noticeable and palpable fact of the moment is the presence and identity of the Duke who is opposite to me; and yet, doubting as I sometimes do my own existence, is it not natural, that, philosophically speaking, the presence and identity of your Highness are at moments a subject of philosophical doubt?"
"In cases of this kind," replied the Duke, "we rest upon circumstantial evidence."
So saying, he drew from his finger a ring and handed it to Dalton, who went to the light and examined it closely, and passed it to me. It was a minute cameo, no larger than a grain of wheat, in a ring of plain gold; a rare and beautiful work of microscopic art.
"I seem to remember presenting the Duke of Rosecouleur with a similar ring, in Italy," said Dalton, resuming his seat; "but the coincidence does not resolve my philosophic doubt, excited by the affair of the picture. We all supposed that we saw a portrait of the Hon. Mrs. Denslow in yon picture; and we seemed to discover, under the management of your valet, that Denslow's picture, a genuine duplicate of the original by the author, was a modern copy. Since your Highness quitted the gallery, those delusions have ceased. The picture appears now to be genuine. The likeness to Mrs. Denslow has vanished."
An exclamation of surprise from all present, except the Duke, followed this announcement.
"And so," continued Dalton, "it may be with this ring, which now seems to be the one I gave the Duke at Rome, but to-morrow may be different."
As he spoke, Dalton gave back the ring to the Duke, who received it with his usual grace.
"Who knows," said Lethal, with a deceptive innocence of manner, "whether aristocracy itself be not founded in mesmerical deceptions?"
"I think, Lethal," observed Adonaïs, "you push the matter. It would be impossible, for instance, even for his Highness, to make Honoria Denslow appear ugly."
We all looked at Honoria, to whom the Duke leaned over and said,--
"Would you be willing for a moment to lose that exquisite beauty?"
"For my sake, Honoria," said Dalton, "refuse him."
The request, so simply made, was rewarded by a ravishing smile.
"Edward, do you know that you have not spoken a kind word to me to-night, until now?"
Their eyes met, and I saw that Dalton trembled with a deep emotion. "I will save you yet," he murmured.
A tall, black hound, of the slender breed, rose up near Honoria, and, placing his fore-paws upon the edge of the pearl table, turned and licked her face and eyes.
It was the vision of a moment. The dog sprang upon the sofa by the Duke's side, growling and snapping.
"Rêve de Noir," cried Lethal and Adonaïs, "drive the dog away!"
The valet had disappeared.
"I have no fear of him, gentlemen," said the Duke, patting the head of the hound; "he is a faithful servant, and has a faculty of reading thoughts. Go bring my servant, Demon," said the Duke.
The hound sprang away with a great bound, and in an instant Rêve de Noir was standing behind us. The dog did not appear again.
Honoria looked bewildered. "Of what dog were you speaking, Edward?"
"The hound that licked your face."
"You are joking. I saw no hound."
"See, gentlemen," exclaimed Lethal, "his Highness shows us tricks. He is a wizard."
The three women gave little shrieks,--half pleasure, half terror.
Denslow, who had fallen back in his chair asleep, awoke and rubbed his eyes.
"What is all this, Honoria?"
"That his Highness is a wizard," she said, with a forced laugh, glancing at Dalton.
"Will his Highness do us the honor to lay aside the mask, and appear in his true colors?" said Dalton, returning Honoria's glance with an encouraging look.
"Gentlemen," said the Duke, haughtily, "I am your guest, and by hospitality protected from insult."
"Insult, most noble Duke!" exclaimed Lethal, with a sneer,--"impossible, under the roof of our friend, the Honorable Walter Denslow, in the small hours of the night, and in the presence of the finest women in the world. Dalton, pray, reassure his Highness!"
"Edward! Edward!" murmured Honoria, "have a care,--even if it be as you think."
Dalton remained bland and collected.
"Pardon, my Lord, the effect of a little wine, and of those wonderful fantasies you have shown us. Your dog, your servant, and yourself interest us equally; the picture, the ring,--all are wonderful. In supposing that you had assumed a mask, and one so noble, I was led into an error by these miracles, expecting no less than a translation of yourself into the person of some famous wonder-worker. It is, you know, a day of miracles, and even kings have their salaried seers, and take counsel of the spiritual world. More!--let us have more!"
The circle were amazed; the spirit of superstitious curiosity seized upon them.
"Rêve de Noir," said the Duke, "a carafe, and less light."
The candelabra became dim. The Duke took the carafe of water from the valet, and, standing up, poured it upon the air; it broke into flames, which mounted and floated away, singly or in little crowds. Still the Duke poured, and dashing up the water with his hand, by and by the ceiling was illuminated with a thousand miniature tongues of violet-colored fire. We clapped our hands, and applauded,--"Beautiful I marvellous! wonderful, Duke!--your Highness is the only magician,"--when, on a sudden, the flames disappeared and the lights rose again.
"The world is weary of skepticism," remarked Lethal; "there is no chemistry for that. It is the true magic, doubtless,--recovered from antiquity by his Highness. Are the wonders exhausted?"
The Duke smiled again. He stretched out his hand toward Honoria, and she slept. It was the work of an instant.
"I have seen that before," said Dalton.
"Not as we see it," responded his Highness. "Rêve de Noir, less light!" The room was dark in a moment. Over the head of Honoria appeared a cloud, at first black, and soon in this a nucleus of light, which expanded and shaped itself into an image and took the form of the sleeper, nude and spiritual, a belt of rosy mist enveloping and concealing all but a head and bust of ravishing beauty. The vision gazed with languid and beseeching eyes upon Dalton, and a sigh seemed to heave the bosom. In scarce a breathing-time, it was gone. Honoria waked, unconscious of what had passed.
Deep terror and amazement fell upon us all.
"I have seen enough," said Dalton, rising slowly, and drawing a small riding-whip, "to know now that this person is no duke, but either a charlatan or a devil. In either case, since he has intruded here, to desecrate and degrade, I find it proper to apply a magic more material."
At the word, all rose exclaiming,--"For God's sake, Dalton!" He pressed forward and laid his hand upon the Duke. A cry burst from Rêve de Noir which rent our very souls; and a flash followed, unspeakably bright, which revealed the demoniacal features of the Duke, who sat motionless, regarding Dalton's uplifted arm. A darkness followed, profound and palpable. I listened in terror. There was no sound. Were we transformed? Silence, darkness, still. I closed my eyes, and opened them again. A pale, cold light became slowly perceptible, stealing through a crevice, and revealing the walls and ceiling of my narrow room. The dream still oppressed me. I went to the window, and let in reality with the morning light. Yet, for days after, the images of the real Honoria and Dalton, my friends, remained separated from the creatures of the vision; and the Denslow Palace of dreamland, the pictures, the revelry, and the magic of the Demon Duke haunted my memory, and kept with them all their visionary splendors and regrets.
Since Love within my heart made nest,
With the fond trust of brooding bird,
I find no all-embracing word
To say how deeply I am blest.
Though wintry clouds are in the air
And the dead leaves unburied lie,
Nor open is the violet's eye,
I see new beauty everywhere.
I hear a murmur as of bees,--
The bees that in love's morning rise
From tender eyes and lips to drain,
In ecstasies of blissful pain,
The sweets that bloomed in Paradise.
There twines a joy with every care
That springs within this sacred ground; But, oh! to give what I have found
Doth thrill me with divine despair.
If distant, thou dost rise a star
Whose beams are with my being wrought, And curvest all my teeming thought
With sweet attractions from afar.
As a winged ship, in calmest hour,
Still moves upon the mighty sea
To some deep ocean melody,
I feel thy spirit and thy power.
How far men go for the material of their houses! The inhabitants of the most civilized cities, in all ages, send into far, primitive forests, beyond the bounds of their civilization, where the moose and bear and savage dwell, for their pine-boards for ordinary use. And, on the other hand, the savage soon receives from cities iron arrow-points, hatchets, and guns to point his savageness with.
The solid and well-defined fir-tops, like sharp and regular spear-heads, black against the sky, gave a peculiar, dark, and sombre look to the forest. The spruce-tops have a similar, but more ragged outline,--their shafts also merely feathered below. The firs were somewhat oftener regular and dense pyramids. I was struck by this universal spiring upward of the forest evergreens. The tendency is to slender, spiring tops, while they are narrower below. Not only the spruce and fir, but even the arbor-vitae and white pine, unlike the soft, spreading second-growth, of which I saw none, all spire upwards, lifting a dense spear-head of cones to the light and air, at any rate, while their branches straggle after as they may; as Indians lift the ball over the heads of the crowd in their desperate game. In this they resemble grasses, as also palms somewhat. The hemlock is commonly a tent-like pyramid from the ground to its summit.
After passing through some long rips and by a large island, we reached an interesting part of the river called the Pine-Stream Dead-Water, about six miles below Ragmuff, where the river expanded to thirty rods in width and had many islands in it, with elms and canoe-birches, now yellowing, along the shore, and we got our first sight of Katadn.
Here, about two o'clock, we turned up a small branch three or four rods wide, which comes in on the right from the south, called Pine Stream, to look for moose signs. We had gone but a few rods before we saw very recent signs along the water's edge, the mud lifted up by their feet being quite fresh, and Joe declared that they had gone along there but a short time before. We soon reached a small meadow on the east side, at an angle in the stream, which was for the most part densely covered with alders. As we were advancing along the edge of this, rather more quietly than usual, perhaps, on account of the freshness of the signs,--the design being to camp up this stream, if it promised well,--I heard a slight crackling of twigs deep in the alders, and turned Joe's attention to it; whereupon he began to push the canoe back rapidly; and we had receded thus half a dozen rods, when we suddenly spied two moose standing just on the edge of the open part of the meadow which we had passed, not more than six or seven rods distant, looking round the alders at us. They made me think of great frightened rabbits, with their long ears and half-inquisitive, half- frightened looks; the true denizens of the forest, (I saw at once,) filling a vacuum which now first I discovered had not been filled for me, --_moose-_men, wood-eaters, the word is said to mean,--clad in a sort of Vermont gray, or homespun. Our Nimrod, owing to the retrograde movement, was now the farthest from the game; but being warned of its neighborhood, he hastily stood up, and, while we ducked, fired over our heads one barrel at the foremost, which alone he saw, though he did not know what kind of creature it was; whereupon this one dashed across the meadow and up a high bank on the north-east, so rapidly as to leave but an indistinct impression of its outlines on my mind. At the same instant, the other, a young one, but as tall as a horse, leaped out into the stream, in full sight, and there stood cowering for a moment, or rather its disproportionate lowness behind gave it that appearance, and uttering two or three trumpeting squeaks. I have an indistinct recollection of seeing the old one pause an instant on the top of the bank in the woods, look toward its shivering young, and then dash away again. The second barrel was levelled at the calf, and when we expected to see it drop in the water, after a little hesitation, it, too, got out of the water, and dashed up the hill, though in a somewhat different direction. All this was the work of a few seconds, and our hunter, having never seen a moose before, did not know but they were deer, for they stood partly in the water, nor whether he had fired at the same one twice or not. From the style in which they went off, and the fact that he was not used to standing up and firing from a canoe, I judged that we should not see anything more of them. The Indian said that they were a cow and her calf, --a yearling, or perhaps two years old, for they accompany their dams so long; but, for my part, I had not noticed much difference in their size. It was but two or three rods across the meadow to the foot of the bank, which, like all the world thereabouts, was densely wooded; but I was surprised to notice, that, as soon as the moose had passed behind the veil of the woods, there was no sound of foot-steps to be heard from the soft, damp moss which carpets that forest, and long before we landed, perfect silence reigned. Joe said, "If you wound 'em moose, me sure get 'em."
We all landed at once. My companion reloaded; the Indian fastened his birch, threw off his hat, adjusted his waistband, seized the hatchet, and set out. He told me afterward, casually, that before we landed he had seen a drop of blood on the bank, when it was two or three rods off. He proceeded rapidly up the bank and through the woods, with a peculiar, elastic, noiseless, and stealthy tread, looking to right and left on the ground, and stepping in the faint tracks of the wounded moose, now and then pointing in silence to a single drop of blood on the handsome, shining leaves of the Clintonia Borealis, which, on every side, covered the ground, or to a dry fern-stem freshly broken, all the while chewing some leaf or else the spruce gum. I followed, watching his motions more than the trail of the moose. After following the trail about forty rods in a pretty direct course, stepping over fallen trees and winding between standing ones, he at length lost it, for there were many other moose- tracks there, and, returning once more to the last bloodstain, traced it a little way and lost it again, and, too soon, I thought, for a good hunter, gave it up entirely. He traced a few steps, also, the tracks of the calf; but, seeing no blood, soon relinquished the search.
I observed, while he was tracking the moose, a certain reticence or moderation in him. He did not communicate several observations of interest which he made, as a white man would have done, though they may have leaked out afterward. At another time, when we heard a slight crackling of twigs and he landed to reconnoitre, he stepped lightly and gracefully, stealing through the bushes with the least possible noise, in a way in which no white man does,--as it were, finding a place for his foot each time.
About half an hour after seeing the moose, we pursued our voyage up Pine Stream, and soon, coming to a part which was very shoal and also rapid, we took out the baggage, and proceeded to carry it round, while Joe got up with the canoe alone. We were just completing our portage and I was absorbed in the plants, admiring the leaves of the aster macrophyllus, ten inches wide, and plucking the seeds of the great round-leaved orchis, when Joe exclaimed from the stream that he had killed a moose. He had found the cow-moose lying dead, but quite warm, in the middle of the stream, which was so shallow that it rested on the bottom, with hardly a third of its body above water. It was about an hour after it was shot, and it was swollen with water. It had run about a hundred rods and sought the stream again, cutting off a slight bend. No doubt, a better hunter would have tracked it to this spot at once. I was surprised at its great size, horse- like, but Joe said it was not a large cow-moose. My companion went in search of the calf again. I took hold of the ears of the moose, while Joe pushed his canoe down stream toward a favorable shore, and so we made out, though with some difficulty, its long nose frequently sticking in the bottom, to drag it into still shallower water. It was a brownish black, or perhaps a dark iron-gray, on the back and sides, but lighter beneath and in front. I took the cord which served for the canoe's painter, and with Joe's assistance measured it carefully, the greatest distances first, making a knot each time. The painter being wanted, I reduced these measures that night with equal care to lengths and fractions of my umbrella, beginning with the smallest measures, and untying the knots as I proceeded; and when we arrived at Chesuncook the next day, finding a two- foot rule there, I reduced the last to feet and inches; and, moreover, I made myself a two-foot rule of a thin and narrow strip of black ash which would fold up conveniently to six inches. All this pains I took because I did not wish to be obliged to say merely that the moose was very large. Of the various dimensions which I obtained I will mention only two. The distance from the tips of the hoofs of the fore-feet, stretched out, to the top of the back between the shoulders, was seven feet and five inches. I can hardly believe my own measure, for this is about two feet greater than the height of a tall horse. The extreme length was eight feet and two inches. Another cow-moose, which I have since measured in those woods with a tape, was just six feet from the tip of the hoof to the shoulders, and eight feet long as she lay.
When afterward I asked an Indian at the carry how much taller the male was, he answered, "Eighteen inches," and made me observe the height of a cross-stake over the fire, more than four feet from the ground, to give me some idea of the depth of his chest. Another Indian, at Oldtown, told me that they were nine feet high to the top of the back, and that one which he tried weighed eight hundred pounds. The length of the spinal projections between the shoulders is very great. A white hunter, who was the best authority among hunters that I could have, told me that the male was not eighteen inches taller than the female; yet he agreed that he was sometimes nine feet high to the top of the back, and weighed a thousand pounds. Only the male has horns, and they rise two feet or more above the shoulders,--spreading three or four, and sometimes six feet,-- which would make him in all, sometimes, eleven feet high! According to this calculation, the moose is as tall, though it may not be as large, as the great Irish elk, Megaceros Hibernicus, of a former period, of which Mantell says that it "very far exceeded in magnitude any living species, the skeleton" being "upward of ten feet high from the ground to the highest point of the antlers." Joe said, that, though the moose shed the whole horn annually, each new horn has an additional prong; but I have noticed that they sometimes have more prongs on one side than on the other. I was struck with the delicacy and tenderness of the hoofs, which divide very far up, and the one half could be pressed very much behind the other, thus probably making the animal surer-footed on the uneven ground and slippery moss-covered logs of the primitive forest. They were very unlike the stiff and battered feet of our horses and oxen. The bare, horny part of the fore-foot was just six inches long, and the two portions could be separated four inches at the extremities.
The moose is singularly grotesque and awkward to look at. Why should it stand so high at the shoulders? Why have so long a head? Why have no tail to speak of? for in my examination I overlooked it entirely. Naturalists say it is an inch and a half long. It reminded me at once of the camelopard, high before and low behind,--and no wonder, for, like it, it is fitted to browse on trees. The upper lip projected two inches beyond the lower for this purpose. This was the kind of man that was at home there; for, as near as I can learn, that has never been the residence, but rather the hunting-ground of the Indian. The moose will perhaps one day become extinct; but how naturally then, when it exists only as a fossil relic, and unseen as that, may the poet or sculptor invent a fabulous animal with similar branching and leafy horns,--a sort of fucus or lichen in bone,--to be the inhabitant of such a forest as this!
Here, just at the head of the murmuring rapids, Joe now proceeded to skin the moose with a pocket-knife, while I looked on; and a tragical business it was,--to see that still warm and palpitating body pierced with a knife, to see the warm milk stream from the rent udder, and the ghastly naked red carcass appearing from within its seemly robe, which was made to hide it. The ball had passed through the shoulder-blade diagonally and lodged under the skin on the opposite side, and was partially flattened. My companion keeps it to show to his grandchildren. He has the shanks of another moose which he has since shot, skinned and stuffed, ready to be made into boots by putting in a thick leather sole. Joe said, if a moose stood fronting you, you must not fire, but advance toward him, for he will turn slowly and give you a fair shot. In the bed of this narrow, wild, and rocky stream, between two lofty walls of spruce and firs, a mere cleft in the forest which the stream had made, this work went on. At length Joe had stripped off the hide and dragged it trailing to the shore, declaring that it weighed a hundred pounds, though probably fifty would have been nearer the truth. He cut off a large mass of the meat to carry along, and another, together with the tongue and nose, he put with the hide on the shore to lie there all night, or till we returned. I was surprised that he thought of leaving this meat thus exposed by the side of the carcass, as the simplest course, not fearing that any creature would touch it; but nothing did. This could hardly have happened on the bank of one of our rivers in the eastern part of Massachusetts; but I suspect that fewer small wild animals are prowling there than with us. Twice, however, in this excursion I had a glimpse of a species of large mouse.
This stream was so withdrawn, and the moose-tracks were so fresh, that my companions, still bent on hunting, concluded to go farther up it and camp, and then hunt up or down at night. Half a mile above this, at a place where I saw the aster puniceus and the beaked hazel, as we paddled along, Joe, hearing a slight rustling amid the alders, and seeing something black about two rods off, jumped up and whispered, "Bear!" but before the hunter had discharged his piece, he corrected himself to "Beaver!"--"Hedgehog!" The bullet killed a large hedgehog, more than two feet and eight inches long. The quills were rayed out and flattened on the hinder part of its back, even as if it had lain on that part, but were erect and long between this and the tail. Their points, closely examined, were seen to be finely bearded or barbed, and shaped like an awl, that is, a little concave, to give the barbs effect. After about a mile of still water, we prepared our camp on the right side, just at the foot of a considerable fall. Little chopping was done that night, for fear of scaring the moose. We had moose- meat fried for supper. It tasted like tender beef, with perhaps more flavor,--sometimes like veal.
After supper, the moon having risen, we proceeded to hunt a mile up this stream, first "carrying" about the falls. We made a picturesque sight, wending single-file along the shore, climbing over rocks and logs,--Joe, who brought up the rear, twirling his canoe in his hands as if it were a feather, in places where it was difficult to get along without a burden.
We launched the canoe again from the ledge over which the stream fell, but after half a mile of still water, suitable for hunting, it became rapid again, and we were compelled to make our way along the shore, while Joe endeavored to get up in the birch alone, though it was still very difficult for him to pick his way amid the rocks in the night. We on the shore found the worst of walking, a perfect chaos of fallen and drifted trees, and of bushes projecting far over the water, and now and then we made our way across the mouth of a small tributary on a kind of net-work of alders. So we went tumbling on in the dark, being on the shady side, effectually scaring all the moose and bears that might be thereabouts. At length we came to a standstill, and Joe went forward to reconnoitre; but he reported that it was still a continuous rapid as far as he went, or half a mile, with no prospect of improvement, as if it were coming down from a mountain. So we turned about, hunting back to the camp through the still water. It was a splendid moonlight night, and I, getting sleepy as it grew late,--for I had nothing to do,--found it difficult to realize where I was. This stream was much more unfrequented than the main one, lumbering operations being no longer carried on in this quarter. It was only three or four rods wide, but the firs and spruce through which it trickled seemed yet taller by contrast. Being in this dreamy state, which the moonlight enhanced, I did not clearly discern the shore, but seemed, most of the time, to be floating through ornamental grounds,--for I associated the fir-tops with such scenes;--very high up some Broadway, and beneath or between their tops, I thought I saw an endless succession of porticos and columns, cornices and façades, verandas and churches. I did not merely fancy this, but in my drowsy state such was the illusion. I fairly lost myself in sleep several times, still dreaming of that architecture and the nobility that dwelt behind and might issue from it; but all at once I would be aroused and brought back to a sense of my actual position by the sound of Joe's birch horn in the midst of all this silence calling the moose, ugh, ugh, oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo, and I prepared to hear a furious moose come rushing and crashing through the forest, and see him burst out on to the little strip of meadow by our side.
But, on more accounts than one, I had had enough of moose-hunting. I had not come to the woods for this purpose, nor had I foreseen it, though I had been willing to learn how the Indian manoeuvred; but one moose killed was as good, if not as bad, as a dozen. The afternoon's tragedy, and my share in it, as it affected the innocence, destroyed the pleasure of my adventure. It is true, I came as near as is possible to come to being a hunter and miss it, myself; and as it is, I think that I could spend a year in the woods, fishing and hunting, just enough to sustain myself, with satisfaction. This would be next to living like a philosopher on the fruits of the earth which you had raised, which also attracts me. But this hunting of the moose merely for the satisfaction of killing him,--not even for the sake of his hide,--without making any extraordinary exertion or running any risk yourself, is too much like going out by night to some wood-side pasture and shooting your neighbor's horses. These are God's own horses, poor, timid creatures, that will run fast enough as soon as they smell you, though they are nine feet high. Joe told us of some hunters who a year or two before had shot down several oxen by night, somewhere in the Maine woods, mistaking them for moose. And so might any of the hunters; and what is the difference in the sport, but the name? In the former case, having killed one of God's and your own oxen, you strip off its hide,--because that is the common trophy, and, moreover, you have heard that it may be sold for moccasins,--cut a steak from its haunches, and leave the huge carcass to smell to heaven for you. It is no better, at least, than to assist at a slaughter-house.
This afternoon's experience suggested to me how base or coarse are the motives which commonly carry men into the wilderness. The explorers and lumberers generally are all hirelings, paid so much a day for their labor, and as such they have no more love for wild nature than wood-sawyers have for forests. Other white men and Indians who come here are for the most part hunters, whose object is to slay as many moose and other wild animals as possible. But, pray, could not one spend some weeks or years in the solitude of this vast wilderness with other employments than these,-- employments perfectly sweet and innocent and ennobling? For one that comes with a pencil to sketch or sing, a thousand come with an axe or rifle. What a coarse and imperfect use Indians and hunters make of Nature! No wonder that their race is so soon exterminated. I already, and for weeks afterward, felt my nature the coarser for this part of my woodland experience, and was reminded that our life should be lived as tenderly and daintily as one would pluck a flower.
With these thoughts, when we reached our camping-ground, I decided to leave my companions to continue moose-hunting down the stream, while I prepared the camp, though they requested me not to chop much nor make a large fire, for fear I should scare their game. In the midst of the damp fir-wood, high on the mossy bank, about nine o'clock of this bright moonlight night, I kindled a fire, when they were gone, and, sitting on the fir-twigs, within sound of the falls, examined by its light the botanical specimens which I had collected that afternoon, and wrote down some of the reflections which I have here expanded; or I walked along the shore and gazed up the stream, where the whole space above the falls was filled with mellow light. As I sat before the fire on my fir-twig seat, without walls above or around me, I remembered how far on every hand that wilderness stretched, before you came to cleared or cultivated fields, and wondered if any bear or moose was watching the light of my fire; for Nature looked sternly upon me on account of the murder of the moose.
Strange that so few ever come to the woods to see how the pine lives and grows and spires, lifting its evergreen arms to the light,--to see its perfect success; but most are content to behold it in the shape of many broad boards brought to market, and deem that its true success! But the pine is no more lumber than man is, and to be made into boards and houses is no more its true and highest use than the truest use of a man is to be cut down and made into manure. There is a higher law affecting our relation to pines as well as to men. A pine cut down, a dead pine, is no more a pine than a dead human carcass is a man. Can he who has discovered only some of the values of whalebone and whale oil be said to have discovered the true use of the whale? Can he who slays the elephant for his ivory be said to have "seen the elephant"? These are petty and accidental uses; just as if a stronger race were to kill us in order to make buttons and flageolets of our bones; for everything may serve a lower as well as a higher use. Every creature is better alive than dead, men and moose and pine-trees, and he who understands it aright will rather preserve its life than destroy it.
Is it the lumberman, then, who is the friend and lover of the pine, stands nearest to it, and understands its nature best? Is it the tanner who has barked it, or he who has boxed it for turpentine, whom posterity will fable to have been changed into a pine at last? No! no! it is the poet; he it is who makes the truest use of the pine,--who does not fondle it with an axe, nor tickle it with a saw, nor stroke it with a plane,--who knows whether its heart is false without cutting into it,--who has not bought the stumpage of the township on which it stands. All the pines shudder and heave a sigh when that man steps on the forest floor. No, it is the poet, who loves them as his own shadow in the air, and lets them stand. I have been into the lumber-yard, and the carpenter's shop, and the tannery, and the lampblack-factory, and the turpentine clearing; but when at length I saw the tops of the pines waving and reflecting the light at a distance high over all the rest of the forest, I realized that the former were not the highest use of the pine. It is not their bones or hide or tallow that I love most. It is the living spirit of the tree, not its spirit of turpentine, with which I sympathize, and which heals my cuts.
Ere long, the hunters returned, not having seen a moose, but, in consequence of my suggestions, bringing a quarter of the dead one, which, with ourselves, made quite a load for the canoe.
After breakfasting on moose-meat, we returned down Pine Stream on our way to Chesuncook Lake, which was about five miles distant. We could see the red carcass of the moose lying in Pine Stream when nearly half a mile off. Just below the mouth of this stream were the most considerable rapids between the two lakes, called Pine-Stream Falls, where were large flat rocks washed smooth, and at this time you could easily wade across above them. Joe ran down alone while we walked over the portage, my companion collecting spruce gum for his friends at home, and I looking for flowers. Near the lake, which we were approaching with as much expectation as if it had been a university,--for it is not often that the stream of our life opens into such expansions,--were islands, and a low and meadowy shore with scattered trees, birches, white and yellow, slanted over the water, and maples,--many of the white birches killed, apparently by inundations. There was considerable native grass; and even a few cattle--whose movements we heard, though we did not see them, mistaking them at first for moose--were pastured there.
On entering the lake, where the stream runs southeasterly, and for some time before, we had a view of the mountains about Katadn, (Katahdinauquoh one says they are called,) like a cluster of blue fungi of rank growth, apparently twenty-five or thirty miles distant, in a southeast direction, their summits concealed by clouds. Joe called some of them the Souadneunk mountains. This is the name of a stream there, which another Indian told us meant "Running between mountains." Though some lower summits were afterward uncovered, we got no more complete view of Katadn while we were in the woods. The clearing to which we were bound was on the right of the mouth of the river, and was reached by going round a low point, where the water was shallow to a great distance from the shore. Chesuncook Lake extends northwest and southeast, and is called eighteen miles long and three wide, without an island. We had entered the northwest corner of it, and when near the shore could see only part way down it. The principal mountains visible from the land here were those already mentioned, between southeast and east, and a few summits a little west of north, but generally the north and northwest horizon about the St. John and the British boundary was comparatively level.
Ansell Smith's, the oldest and principal clearing about this lake, appeared to be quite a harbor for bateaux and canoes; seven or eight of the former were lying about, and there was a small scow for hay, and a capstan on a platform, now high and dry, ready to be floated and anchored to tow rafts with. It was a very primitive kind of harbor, where boats were drawn up amid the stumps,--such a one, methought, as the Argo might have been launched in. There were five other huts with small clearings on the opposite side of the lake, all at this end and visible from this point. One of the Smiths told me that it was so far cleared that they came here to live and built the present house four years before, though the family had been here but a few months.
I was interested to see how a pioneer lived on this side of the country. His life is in some respects more adventurous than that of his brother in the West; for he contends with winter as well as the wilderness, and there is a greater interval of time at least between him and the army which is to follow. Here immigration is a tide which may ebb when it has swept away the pines; there it is not a tide, but an inundation, and roads and other improvements come steadily rushing after.
As we approached the log-house, a dozen rods from the lake, and considerably elevated above it, the projecting ends of the logs lapping over each other irregularly several feet at the corners gave it a very rich and picturesque look, far removed from the meanness of weather- boards. It was a very spacious, low building, about eighty feet long, with many large apartments. The walls were well clayed between the logs, which were large and round, except on the upper and under sides, and as visible inside as out, successive bulging cheeks gradually lessening upwards and tuned to each other with the axe, like Pandean pipes. Probably the musical forest-gods had not yet cast them aside; they never do till they are split or the bark is gone. It was a style of architecture not described by Vitruvius, I suspect, though possibly hinted at in the biography of Orpheus; none of your frilled or fluted columns, which have cut such a false swell, and support nothing but a gable end and their builder's pretensions,--that is, with the multitude; and as for "ornamentation," one of those words with a dead tail which architects very properly use to describe their flourishes, there were the lichens and mosses and fringes of bark, which nobody troubled himself about. We certainly leave the handsomest paint and clapboards behind in the woods, when we strip off the bark and poison ourselves with white-lead in the towns. We get but half the spoils of the forest. For beauty, give me trees with the fur on. This house was designed and constructed with the freedom of stroke of a forester's axe, without other compass and square than Nature uses. Wherever the logs were cut off by a window or door, that is, were not kept in place by alternate overlapping, they were held one upon another by very large pins driven in diagonally on each side, where branches might have been, and then cut off so close up and down as not to project beyond the bulge of the log, as if the logs clasped each other in their arms. These logs were posts, studs, boards, clapboards, laths, plaster, and nails, all in one. Where the citizen uses a mere sliver or board, the pioneer uses the whole trunk of a tree. The house had large stone chimneys, and was roofed with spruce-bark. The windows were imported, all but the casings. One end was a regular logger's camp, for the boarders, with the usual fir floor and log benches. Thus this house was but a slight departure from the hollow tree, which the bear still inhabits,--being a hollow made with trees piled up, with a coating of bark like its original.
The cellar was a separate building, like an ice-house, and it answered for a refrigerator at this season, our moose-meat being kept there. It was a potato-hole with a permanent roof. Each structure and institution here was so primitive that you could at once refer it to its source; but our buildings commonly suggest neither their origin nor their purpose. There was a large, and what farmers would call handsome, barn, part of whose boards had been sawed by a whip-saw; and the saw-pit, with its great pile of dust, remained before the house. The long split shingles on a portion of the barn were laid a foot to the weather, suggesting what kind of weather they have there. Grant's barn at Caribou Lake was said to be still larger, the biggest ox-nest in the woods, fifty feet by a hundred. Think of a monster barn in that primitive forest lifting its gray back above the tree-tops! Man makes very much such a nest for his domestic animals, of withered grass and fodder, as the squirrels and many other wild creatures do for themselves.
There was also a blacksmith's shop, where plainly a good deal of work was done. The oxen and horses used in lumbering operations were shod, and all the iron-work of sleds, etc., was repaired or made here. I saw them load a bateau at the Moosehead carry, the next Tuesday, with about thirteen hundred weight of bar iron for this shop. This reminded me how primitive and honorable a trade was Vulcan's. I do not hear that there was any carpenter or tailor among the gods. The smith seems to have preceded these and every other mechanic at Chesuncook as well as on Olympus, and his family is the most widely dispersed, whether he be christened John or Ansell.
Smith owned two miles down the lake by half a mile in width. There were about one hundred acres cleared here. He cut seventy tons of English hay this year on this ground, and twenty more on another clearing, and he uses it all himself in lumbering operations. The barn was crowded with pressed hay and a machine to press it. There was a large garden full of roots, turnips, beets, carrots, potatoes, etc., all of great size. They said that they were worth as much here as in New York. I suggested some currants for sauce, especially as they had no apple-trees set out, and showed how easily they could be obtained.
There was the usual long-handled axe of the primitive woods by the door, three and a half feet long,--for my new black-ash rule was in constant use,--and a large, shaggy dog, whose nose, report said, was full of porcupine quills. I can testify that he looked very sober. This is the usual fortune of pioneer dogs, for they have to face the brunt of the battle for their race, and act the part of Arnold Winkelried without intending it. If he should invite one of his town friends up this way, suggesting moose-meat and unlimited freedom, the latter might pertinently inquire, "What is that sticking in your nose?" When a generation or two have used up all the enemies' darts, their successors lead a comparatively easy life. We owe to our fathers analogous blessings. Many old people receive pensions for no other reason, it seems to me, but as a compensation for having lived a long time ago. No doubt, our town dogs still talk, in a snuffling way, about the days that tried dogs' noses. How they got a cat up there I do not know, for they are as shy as my aunt about entering a canoe. I wondered that she did not run up a tree on the way; but perhaps she was bewildered by the very crowd of opportunities.
Twenty or thirty lumberers, Yankee and Canadian, were coming and going,-- Aleck among the rest,--and from time to time an Indian touched here. In the winter there are sometimes a hundred men lodged here at once. The most interesting piece of news that circulated among them appeared to be, that four horses belonging to Smith, worth seven hundred dollars, had passed by further into the woods a week before.
The white-pine-tree was at the bottom or further end of all this. It is a war against the pines, the only real Aroostook or Penobscot war. I have no doubt that they lived pretty much the same sort of life in the Homeric age, for men have always thought more of eating than of fighting; then, as now, their minds ran chiefly on the "hot bread and sweet cakes"; and the fur and lumber trade is an old story to Asia and Europe. I doubt if men ever made a trade of heroism. In the days of Achilles, even, they delighted in big barns, and perchance in pressed hay, and he who possessed the most valuable team was the best fellow.
We had designed to go on at evening up the Caucomgomoc, whose mouth was a mile or two distant, to the lake of the same name, about ten miles off; but some Indians of Joe's acquaintance, who were making canoes on the Caucomgomoc, came over from that side, and gave so poor an account of the moose-hunting, so many had been killed there lately, that my companions concluded not to go there. Joe spent this Sunday and the night with his acquaintances. The lumberers told me that there were many moose hereabouts, but no caribou or deer. A man from Oldtown had killed ten or twelve moose, within a year, so near the house that they heard all his guns. His name may have been Hercules, for aught I know, though I should rather have expected to hear the rattling of his club; but, no doubt, he keeps pace with the improvements of the age, and uses a Sharpe's rifle now; probably he gets all his armor made and repaired at Smith's shop. One moose had been killed and another shot at within sight of the house within two years. I do not know whether Smith has yet got a poet to look after the cattle, which, on account of the early breaking up of the ice, are compelled to summer in the woods, but I would suggest this office to such of my acquaintances as love to write verses and go a-gunning.
After a dinner, at which apple-sauce was the greatest luxury to me, but our moose-meat was oftenest called for by the lumberers, I walked across the clearing into the forest, southward, returning along the shore. For my dessert, I helped myself to a large slice of the Chesuncook woods, and took a hearty draught of its waters with all my senses. The woods were as fresh and full of vegetable life as a lichen in wet weather, and contained many interesting plants; but unless they are of white pine, they are treated with as little respect here as a mildew, and in the other case they are only the more quickly cut down. The shore was of coarse, flat, slate rocks, often in slabs, with the surf beating on it. The rocks and bleached drift-logs, extending some way into the shaggy woods, showed a rise and fall of six or eight feet, caused partly by the dam at the outlet. They said that in winter the snow was three feet deep on a level here, and sometimes four or five,--that the ice on the lake was two feet thick, clear, and four feet, including the snow-ice. Ice had already formed in vessels.
We lodged here this Sunday night in a comfortable bed-room, apparently the best one; and all that I noticed unusual in the night--for I still kept taking notes, like a spy in the camp--was the creaking of the thin split boards, when any of our neighbors stirred.
Such were the first rude beginnings of a town. They spoke of the practicability of a winter-road to the Moosehead carry, which would not cost much, and would connect them with steam and staging and all the busy world. I almost doubted if the lake would be there,--the self-same lake,-- preserve its form and identity, when the shores should be cleared and settled; as if these lakes and streams which explorers report never awaited the advent of the citizen.
The sight of one of these frontier-houses, built of these great logs, whose inhabitants have unflinchingly maintained their ground many summers and winters in the wilderness, reminds me of famous forts, like Ticonderoga, or Crown Point, which have sustained memorable sieges. They are especially winter-quarters, and at this season this one had a partially deserted look, as if the siege were raised a little, the snow- banks being melted from before it, and its garrison accordingly reduced. I think of their daily food as rations,--it is called "supplies"; a Bible and a great coat are munitions of war, and a single man seen about the premises is a sentinel on duty. You expect that he will require the countersign, and will perchance take you for Ethan Allen, come to demand the surrender of his fort in the name of the Continental Congress. It is a sort of ranger service. Arnold's expedition is a daily experience with these settlers. They can prove that they were out at almost any time; and I think that all the first generation of them deserve a pension more than any that went to the Mexican war.
[To be continued.]
Aquí está encerrada el alma del licenciado Pedro Garcias.
If I should ever make a little book out of these papers, which I hope you are not getting tired of, I suppose I ought to save the above sentence for a motto on the title-page. But I want it now, and must use it. I need not say to you that the words are Spanish, nor that they are to be found in the short Introduction to "Gil Blas," nor that they mean, "Here lies buried the soul of the licentiate Pedro Garcias."
I warned all young people off the premises when I began my notes referring to old age. I must be equally fair with old people now. They are earnestly requested to leave this paper to young persons from the age of twelve to that of four-score years and ten, at which latter period of life I am sure that I shall have at least one youthful reader. You know well enough what I mean by youth and age;--something in the soul, which has no more to do with the color of the hair than the vein of gold in a rock has to do with the grass a thousand feet above it.
I am growing bolder as I write. I think it requires not only youth, but genius, to read this paper. I don't mean to imply that it required any whatsoever to talk what I have here written down. It did demand a certain amount of memory, and such command of the English tongue as is given by a common school education. So much I do claim. But here I have related, at length, a string of trivialities. You must have the imagination of a poet to transfigure them. These little colored patches are stains upon the windows of a human soul; stand on the outside, they are but dull and meaningless spots of color; seen from within, they are glorified shapes with empurpled wings and sunbright aureoles.
My hand trembles when I offer you this. Many times I have come bearing flowers such as my garden grew; but now I offer you this poor, brown, homely growth, you may cast it away as worthless. And yet--and yet--it is something better than flowers; it is a seed-capsule. Many a gardener will cut you a bouquet of his choicest blossoms for small fee, but he does not love to let the seeds of his rarest varieties go out of his own hands.
It is by little things that we know ourselves; a soul would very probably mistake itself for another, when once disembodied, were it not for individual experiences that differed from those of others only in details seemingly trifling. All of us have been thirsty thousands of times, and felt, with Pindar, that water was the best of things. I alone, as I think, of all mankind, remember one particular pailful of water, flavored with the white-pine of which the pail was made, and the brown mug out of which one Edmund, a red-faced and curly-haired boy, was averred to have bitten a fragment in his haste to drink; it being then high summer, and little full-blooded boys feeling very warm and porous in the low-"studded" school-room where Dame Prentiss, dead and gone, ruled over young children, many of whom are old ghosts now, and have known Abraham for twenty or thirty years of our mortal time.
Thirst belongs to humanity, everywhere, in all ages; but that white-pine pail and that brown mug belong to me in particular; and just so of my special relationships with other things and with my race. One could never remember himself in eternity by the mere fact of having loved or hated any more than by that of having thirsted; love and hate have no more individuality in them than single waves in the ocean;--but the accidents or trivial marks which distinguished those whom we loved or hated make their memory our own forever, and with it that of our own personality also.
Therefore, my aged friend of five-and-twenty, or thereabouts, pause at the threshold of this particular record, and ask yourself seriously whether you are fit to read such revelations as are to follow. For observe, you have here no splendid array of petals such as poets offer you,--nothing but a dry shell, containing, if you will get out what is in it, a few small seeds of poems. You may laugh at them, if you like. I shall never tell you what I think of you for so doing. But if you can read into the heart of these things, in the light of other memories as slight, yet as dear to your soul, then you are neither more nor less than a POET, and can afford to write no more verses during the rest of your natural life,-- which abstinence I take to be one of the surest marks of your meriting the divine name I have just bestowed upon you.
[May I beg of you who have begun this paper, nobly trusting to your own imagination and sensibilities to give it the significance which it does not lay claim to without your kind assistance,--may I beg of you, I say, to pay particular attention to the brackets which enclose certain paragraphs? I want my "asides," you see, to whisper loud to you who read my notes, and sometimes I talk a page or two to you without pretending that I said a word of it to our boarders. You will find a very long "aside" to you almost as soon as you begin to read. And so, dear young friend, fall to at once, taking such things as I have provided for you; and if you turn them, by the aid of your powerful imagination, into a fair banquet, why, then, peace be with you, and a summer by the still waters of some quiet river, or by some yellow beach, where, as my friend, the Professor, says, you can sit with Nature's wrist in your hand and count her ocean-pulses.]
I should like to make a few intimate revelations relating especially to my early life, if I thought you would like to hear them.
[The schoolmistress turned a little in
her chair, and sat with her face directed partly towards me.--Half- mourning now;--purple ribbon. That breastpin she wears has gray hair in it; her mother's, no doubt;--I remember our landlady's daughter telling me, soon after the school-mistress came to board with us, that she had lately "buried a payrent." That's what made her look so pale,--kept the poor sick thing alive with her own blood. Ah! long illness is the real vampyrism; think of living a year or two after one is dead, by sucking the life-blood out of a frail young creature at one's bedside!--Well, souls grow white, as well as cheeks, in these holy duties; one that goes in a nurse may come out an angel.--God bless all good women!--to their soft
hands and pitying hearts we must all come at last!----The schoolmistress
has a better color than when she came.---- ---- Too late!----"It might
----How many thoughts go to a dozen heart-beats, sometimes! There was no long pause after my remark addressed to the company, but in that time I had the train of ideas and feelings I have just given flash through my consciousness sudden and sharp as the crooked red streak that springs out of its black sheath like the creese of a Malay in his death-rage, and stabs the earth right and left in its blind rage.
I don't deny that there was a pang in it,--yes, a stab; but there was a prayer, too,--the "Amen" belonged to that.--Also, a vision of a four-story brick house, nicely furnished,--I actually saw many specific articles,-- curtains, sofas, tables, and others, and could draw the patterns of them at this moment,--a brick house, I say, looking out on the water, with a fair parlor, and books and busts and pots of flowers and bird-cages, all complete; and at the window, looking on the water, two of us.--"Male and female created He them."--These two were standing at the window, when a
little boy that was playing near them looked up at me with such a look
that I---- ----poured out a glass of water, drank it all down, and then
I said I should like to tell you some things, such as people commonly never tell, about my early recollections. Should you like to hear them?
Should we like to hear them?--said the schoolmistress;--no, but we should love to.
[The voice was a sweet one, naturally, and had something very pleasant in its tone, just then.--The four-story brick house, which had gone out like a transparency when the light behind it is quenched, glimmered again for a moment; parlor, books, busts, flower-pots, bird-cages, all complete,--and the figures as before.]
We are waiting with eagerness, Sir,--said the divinity-student.
[The transparency went out as if a flash of black lightning had struck it.]
If you want to hear my confessions, the next thing--I said--is to know whether I can trust you with them. It is only fair to say that there are a great many people in the world that laugh at such things. I think they are fools, but perhaps you don't all agree with me.
Here are children of tender age talked to as if they were capable of understanding Calvin's "Institutes," and nobody has honesty or sense enough to tell the plain truth about the little wretches: that they are as superstitious as naked savages, and such miserable spiritual cowards--that is, if they have any imagination--that they will believe anything which is taught them, and a great deal more which they teach themselves.
I was born and bred, as I have told you twenty times, among books and those who knew what was in books. I was carefully instructed in things temporal and spiritual. But up to a considerable maturity of childhood I believed Raphael and Michel Angelo to have been super-human beings. The central doctrine of the prevalent religious faith of Christendom was utterly confused and neutralized in my mind for years by one of those too common stories of actual life, which I overheard repeated in a whisper.-- Why did I not ask? you will say.--You don't remember the rosy pudency of sensitive children. The first instinctive movement of the little creatures is to make a cache, and bury in it beliefs, doubts, dreams, hopes, and terrors. I am uncovering one of these caches. Do you think I was necessarily a greater fool and coward than another?
I was afraid of ships. Why, I could never tell. The masts looked frightfully tall,--but they were not so tall as the steeple of our old yellow meeting-house. At any rate, I used to hide my eyes from the sloops and schooners that were wont to lie at the end of the bridge, and I confess that traces of this undefined terror lasted very long.--One other source of alarm had a still more fearful significance. There was a great wooden HAND,--a glove-maker's sign, which used to swing and creak in the blast, as it hung from a pillar before a certain shop a mile or two outside of the city. Oh, the dreadful hand! Always hanging there ready to catch up a little boy, who would come home to supper no more, nor yet to bed,--whose porringer would be laid away empty thenceforth, and his half- worn shoes wait until his small brother grew to fit them.
As for all manner of superstitious observances, I used once to think I must have been peculiar in having such a list of them, but I now believe that half the children of the same age go through the same experiences. No Roman soothsayer ever had such a catalogue of omens as I found in the Sibylline leaves of my childhood. That trick of throwing a stone at a tree and attaching some mighty issue to hitting or missing, which you will find mentioned in one or more biographies, I well remember. Stepping on or over certain particular things or spots--Dr. Johnson's especial weakness--I got the habit of at a very early age.--I won't swear that I have not some tendency to these not wise practices even at this present date. [How many of you that read these notes can say the same thing!]
With these follies mingled sweet delusions, which I loved so well I would not outgrow them, even when it required a voluntary effort to put a momentary trust in them. Here is one which I cannot help telling you.
The firing of the great guns at the Navy-yard is easily heard at the place where I was born and lived. "There is a ship of war come in," they used to say, when they heard them. Of course, I supposed that such vessels came in unexpectedly, after indefinite years of absence,--suddenly as falling stones; and that the great guns roared in their astonishment and delight at the sight of the old warship splitting the bay with her cutwater. Now, the sloop-of-war the Wasp, Captain Blakely, after gloriously capturing the Reindeer and the Avon, had disappeared from the face of the ocean, and was supposed to be lost. But there was no proof of it, and, of course, for a time, hopes were entertained that she might be heard from. Long after the last real chance had utterly vanished, I pleased myself with the fond illusion that somewhere on the waste of waters she was still floating, and there were years during which I never heard the sound of the great guns booming inland from the Navy-yard without saying to myself, "The Wasp has come!" and almost thinking I could see her, as she rolled in, crumpling the water before her, weather-beaten, barnacled, with shattered spars and threadbare canvas, welcomed by the shouts and tears of thousands. This was one of those dreams that I nursed and never told. Let me make a clean breast of it now, and say, that, so late as to have outgrown childhood, perhaps to have got far on towards manhood, when the roar of the cannon has struck suddenly on my ear, I have started with a thrill of vague expectation and tremulous delight, and the long-unspoken words have articulated themselves in the mind's dumb whisper, The Wasp has come!
----Yes, children believe plenty of queer things. I suppose all of you have had the pocket-book fever when you were little?--What do I mean? Why, ripping up old pocket-books in the firm belief that bank-bills to an immense amount were hidden in them.--So, too, you must all remember some splendid unfulfilled promise of somebody or other, which fed you with hopes perhaps for years, and which left a blank in your life which nothing has ever filled up.--O.T. quitted our household carrying with him the passionate regrets of the more youthful members. He was an ingenious youngster; wrote wonderful copies, and carved the two initials given above with great skill on all available surfaces. I thought, by the way, they were all gone; but the other day I found them on a certain door which I will show you some time. How it surprised me to find them so near the ground! I had thought the boy of no trivial dimensions. Well, O.T. when he went, made a solemn promise to two of us. I was to have a ship, and the other a mar_tin_-house (last syllable pronounced as in the word tin). Neither ever came; but, oh, how many and many a time I have stolen to the corner,--the cars pass close by it at this time,--and looked up that long avenue, thinking that he must be coming now, almost sure, as I turned to look northward, that there he would be, trudging toward me, the ship in one hand and the mar_tin_-house in the other!
[You must not suppose that all I am going to say, as well as all I have said, was told to the whole company. The young fellow whom they call John was in the yard, sitting on a barrel and smoking a cheroot, the fumes of which came in, not ungrateful, through the open window. The divinity- student disappeared in the midst of our talk. The poor relation in black bombazine, who looked and moved as if all her articulations were elbow- joints, had gone off to her chamber, after waiting with a look of soul- subduing decorum at the foot of the stairs until one of the male sort had passed her and ascended into the upper regions. This is a famous point of etiquette in our boarding-house; in fact, between ourselves, they make such an awful fuss about it, that I, for one, had a great deal rather have them simple enough not to think of such matters at all. Our land-lady's daughter said, the other evening, that she was going to "retire"; where- upon the young fellow called John took up a lamp and insisted on lighting her to the foot of the staircase. Nothing would induce her to pass by him, until the schoolmistress, saying in good plain English that it was her bed-time, walked straight by them both, not seeming to trouble herself about either of them.
I have been led away from what I meant the portion included in these brackets to inform my readers about. I say, then, most of the boarders had left the table about the time when I began telling some of these secrets of mine, all of them, in fact, but the old gentleman opposite and the schoolmistress. I understand why a young woman should like to hear these homely but genuine experiences of early life, which are, as I have said, the little brown seeds of what may yet grow to be poems with leaves of azure and gold; but when the old gentleman pushed up his chair nearer to me, and slanted round his best ear, and once, when I was speaking of some trifling, tender reminiscence, drew a long breath, with such a tremor in it that a little more and it would have been a sob, why, then I felt there must be something of nature in them which redeemed their seeming insignificance. Tell me, man or woman with whom I am whispering, have you not a small store of recollections, such as these I am uncovering, buried beneath the dead leaves of many summers, perhaps under the unmelting snows of fast-returning winters,--a few such recollections, which, if you should write them all out, would be swept into some careless editor's drawer, and might cost a scanty half-hour's lazy reading to his subscribers,--and yet, if Death should cheat you of them, you would not know yourself in eternity?]
----I made three acquaintances at a
very early period of life, my introduction to whom was never forgotten. The first unequivocal act of wrong that has left its trace in my memory was this: it was refusing a small favor asked of me,--nothing more than telling what had happened at school one morning. No matter who asked it; but there were circumstances which saddened and awed me. I had no heart to speak;--I faltered some miserable, perhaps petulant excuse, stole away, and the first battle of life was lost. What remorse followed I need not tell. Then and there; to the best of my knowledge, I first consciously took Sin by the hand and turned my back on Duty. Time has led me to look upon my offence more leniently; I do not believe it or any other childish wrong is infinite, as some have pretended, but infinitely finite. Yet, oh if I had but won that battle!
The great Destroyer, whose awful shadow it was that had silenced me, came near me,--but never, so as to be distinctly seen and remembered, during my tender years. There flits dimly before me the image of a little girl, whose name even I have forgotten, a schoolmate, whom we missed one day, and were told that she had died. But what death was I never had any very distinct idea, until one day I climbed the low stone wall of the old burial-ground and mingled with a group that were looking into a very deep, long, narrow hole, dug down through the green sod, down through the brown loam, down through the yellow gravel, and there at the bottom was an oblong red box, and a still, sharp, white face of a young man seen through an opening at one end of it. When the lid was closed, and the gravel and stones rattled down pell-mell, and the woman in black, who was crying and wringing her hands, went off with the other mourners, and left him, then I felt that I had seen Death, and should never forget him.
One other acquaintance I made at an earlier period of life than the habit of romancers authorizes.--Love, of course.--She was a famous beauty afterwards.--I am satisfied that many children rehearse their parts in the drama of life before they have shed all their milk-teeth.--I think I won't tell the story of the golden blonde.--I suppose everybody has had his childish fancies; but sometimes they are passionate impulses, which anticipate all the tremulous emotions belonging to a later period. Most children remember seeing and adoring an angel before they were a dozen years old.
[The old gentleman had left his chair opposite and taken a seat by the schoolmistress and myself, a little way from the table.--It's true, it's true,--said the old gentleman.--He took hold of a steel watch-chain, which carried a large, square gold key at one end and was supposed to have some kind of timekeeper at the other. With some trouble he dragged up an ancient-looking, thick, silver, bull's-eye watch. He looked at it for a moment,--hesitated,--touched the inner corner of his right eye with the pulp of his middle finger,--looked at the face of the watch,--said it was getting into the forenoon,--then opened the watch and handed me the loose outside case without a word.--The watch-paper had been pink once, and had a faint tinge still, as if all its tender life had not yet quite faded
out. Two little birds, a flower, and, in small school-girl letters, a
date,--17...--no matter.--Before I was thirteen years old,--said the old
gentleman.--I don't know what was in that young schoolmistress's head, nor
why she should have done it; but she took out the watch-paper and put it
softly to her lips, as if she were kissing the poor thing that made it so
long ago. The old gentleman took the watch-paper carefully from her, replaced it, turned away and walked out, holding the watch in his hand. I saw him pass the window a moment after with that foolish white hat on his head; he couldn't have been thinking what he was about when he put it on. So the schoolmistress and I were left alone. I drew my chair a shade nearer to her, and continued.]
And since I am talking of early recollections, I don't know why I shouldn't mention some others that still cling to me,--not that you will attach any very particular meaning to these same images so full of significance to me, but that you will find something parallel to them in your own memory. You remember, perhaps, what I said one day about smells. There were certain sounds also which had a mysterious suggestiveness to me,--not so intense, perhaps, as that connected with the other sense, but yet peculiar, and never to be forgotten.
The first was the creaking of the wood-sleds, bringing their loads of oak and walnut from the country, as the slow-swinging oxen trailed them along over the complaining snow, in the cold, brown light of early morning. Lying in bed and listening to their dreary music had a pleasure in it akin to that which Lucretius describes in witnessing a ship toiling through the waves while we sit at ease on shore, or that which Byron speaks of as to be enjoyed in looking on at a battle by one "who hath no friend, no brother there."
There was another sound, in itself so sweet, and so connected with one of those simple and curious superstitions of childhood of which I have spoken, that I can never cease to cherish a sad sort of love for it.--Let me tell the superstitious fancy first. The Puritan "Sabbath," as everybody knows, began at "sundown" on Saturday evening. To such observance of it I was born and bred. As the large, round disk of day declined, a stillness, a solemnity, a somewhat melancholy hush came over us all. It was time for work to cease, and for playthings to be put away. The world of active life passed into the shadow of an eclipse, not to emerge until the sun should sink again beneath the horizon.
It was in this stillness of the world without and of the soul within that the pulsating lullaby of the evening crickets used to make itself most distinctly heard,--so that I well remember I used to think that the purring of these little creatures, which mingled with the batrachian hymns from the neighboring swamp, was peculiar to Saturday evenings. I don't know that anything could give a clearer idea of the quieting and subduing effect of the old habit of observance of what was considered holy time, than this strange, childish fancy.
Yes, and there was still another sound which mingled its solemn cadences with the waking and sleeping dreams of my boyhood. It was heard only at times,--a deep, muffled roar, which rose and fell, not loud, but vast,--a whistling boy would have drowned it for his next neighbor, but it must have been heard over the space of a hundred square miles. I used to wonder what this might be. Could it be the roar of the thousand wheels and the ten thousand footsteps jarring and tramping along the stones of the neighboring city? That would be continuous; but this, as I have said, rose and fell in regular rhythm. I remember being told, and I suppose this to have been the true solution, that it was the sound of the waves, after a high wind, breaking on the long beaches many miles distant. I should really like to know whether any observing people living ten miles, more or less, inland from long beaches,--in such a town, for instance, as Cantabridge, in the eastern part of the Territory of the Massachusetts,-- have ever observed any such sound, and whether it was rightly accounted for as above.
Mingling with these inarticulate sounds in the low murmur of memory, are the echoes of certain voices I have heard at rare intervals. I grieve to say it, but our people, I think, have not generally agreeable voices. The marrowy organisms, with skins that shed water like the backs of ducks, with smooth surfaces neatly padded beneath, and velvet linings to their singing-pipes, are not so common among us as that other pattern of humanity with angular outlines and plane surfaces, arid integuments, hair like the fibrous covering of a cocoa-nut in gloss and suppleness as well as color, and voices at once thin and strenuous,--acidulous enough to produce effervescence with alkalis, and stridulous enough to sing duets with the katydids. I think our conversational soprano, as sometimes overheard in the cars, arising from a group of young persons, who may have taken the train at one of our great industrial centres, for instance,-- young persons of the female sex, we will say, who have bustled in full- dressed, engaged in loud strident speech, and who, after free discussion, have fixed on two or more double seats, which having secured, they proceed to eat apples and hand round daguerreotypes,--I say, I think the conversational soprano, heard under these circumstances, would not be among the allurements the old Enemy would put in requisition, were he getting up a new temptation of St. Anthony.
There are sweet voices among us, we all know, and voices not musical, it may be, to those who hear them for the first time, yet sweeter to us than any we shall hear until we listen to some warbling angel in the overture to that eternity of blissful harmonies we hope to enjoy.--But why should I tell lies? If my friends love me, it is because I try to tell the truth. I never heard but two voices in my life that frightened me by their sweetness.
----Frightened you?--said the school-mistress.--Yes, frightened me. They
made me feel as if there might be constituted a creature with such a chord
in her voice to some string in another's soul, that, if she but spoke, he
would leave all and follow her, though it were into the jaws of Erebus.
Our only chance to keep our wits is, that there are so few natural chords between others' voices and this string in our souls, and that those which at first may have jarred a little by and by come into harmony with it.-- But I tell you this is no fiction. You may call the story of Ulysses and the Sirens a fable, but what will you say to Mario and the poor lady who followed him?
----Whose were those two voices that bewitched me so?--They both belonged
to German women. One was a chambermaid, not otherwise fascinating. The key
of my room at a certain great hotel was missing, and this Teutonic maiden
was summoned to give information respecting it. The simple soul was
evidently not long from her mother-land, and spoke with sweet uncertainty of dialect. But to hear her wonder and lament and suggest, with soft, liquid inflexions, and low, sad murmurs, in tones as full of serious tenderness for the fate of the lost key as if it had been a child that had strayed from its mother, was so winning, that, had her features
and figure been as delicious as her accents,--if she had looked like the
marble Clytie, for instance,--why, all I can say is----
[The schoolmistress opened her eyes so wide, that I stopped short.]
I was only going to say that I should have drowned myself. For Lake Erie was close by, and it is so much better to accept asphyxia, which takes only three minutes by the watch, than a mésalliance, that lasts fifty years to begin with, and then passes along down the line of descent, (breaking out in all manner of boorish manifestations of feature and manner, which, if men were only as short-lived as horses, could be readily traced back through the square-roots and the cube-roots of the family stem, on which you have hung the armorial bearings of the De Champignons or the De la Morues, until one came to beings that ate with knives and said "Haow?") that no person of right feeling could have hesitated for a single moment.
The second of the ravishing voices I have heard was, as I have said, that of another German woman.--I suppose I shall ruin myself by saying that such a voice could not have come from any Americanized human being.
----What was there in it?--said the schoolmistress,--and, upon my word,
her tones were so very musical, that I almost wished I had said three
voices instead of two, and not made the unpatriotic remark above
reported.--Oh, I said, it had so much woman in it,--muliebrity, as
well as femineity;--no self-assertion, such as free suffrage introduces into every word and movement; large, vigorous nature, running back to those huge-limbed Germans of Tacitus, but subdued by the reverential training and tuned by the kindly culture of fifty generations. Sharp business habits, a lean soil, independence, enterprise, and east winds, are not the best things for the larynx. Still, you hear noble voices among us,--I have known families famous for them,--but ask the first person you meet a question, and ten to one there is a hard, sharp, metallic, matter- of-business clink in the accents of the answer, that produces the effect of one of those bells which small trades-people connect with their shop- doors, and which spring upon your ear with such vivacity, as you enter, that your first impulse is to retire at once from the precincts.
----Ah, but I must not forget that dear little child I saw and heard in a French hospital. Between two and three years old. Fell out of her chair and snapped both thigh-bones. Lying in bed, patient, gentle. Rough students round her, some in white aprons, looking fearfully business-like; but the child placid, perfectly still. I spoke to her, and the blessed little creature answered me in a voice of such heavenly sweetness, with that reedy thrill in it which you have heard in the thrush's even-song, that I hear it at this moment, while I am writing, so many, many years afterwards.--C'est tout comme un serin, said the French student at my side.
These are the voices which struck the key-note of my conceptions as to what the sounds we are to hear in heaven will be, if we shall enter through one of the twelve gates of pearl. There must be other things besides aërolites that wander from their own spheres to ours; and when we speak of celestial sweetness or beauty, we may be nearer the literal truth than we dream. If mankind generally are the shipwrecked survivors of some pre-Adamitic cataclysm, set adrift in these little open boats of humanity to make one more trial to reach the shore,--as some grave theologians have maintained,--if, in plain English, men are the ghosts of dead devils who have "died into life," (to borrow an expression from Keats,) and walk the earth in a suit of living rags that lasts three or four score summers,-- why, there must have been a few good spirits sent to keep them company, and these sweet voices I speak of must belong to them.
----I wish you could once hear my sister's voice,--said the
If it is like yours, it must be a pleasant one,--said I.
I never thought mine was anything,--said the schoolmistress.
How should you know?--said I.--People never hear their own voices,--any more than they see their own faces. There is not even a looking-glass for the voice. Of course, there is something audible to us when we speak; but that something is not our own voice as it is known to all our acquaintances. I think, if an image spoke to us in our own tones, we should not know them in the least.--How pleasant it would be, if in another state of being we could have shapes like our former selves for playthings,--we standing outside or inside of them, as we liked, and they being to us just what we used to be to others!
----I wonder if there will be nothing like what we call "play," after our earthly toys are broken,--said the schoolmistress.
Hush,--said I,--what will the divinity-student say?
[I thought she was hit, that time;--but the shot must have gone over her, or on one side of her; she did not flinch.]
Oh,--said the schoolmistress,--he must look out for my sister's heresies; I am afraid he will be too busy with them to take care of mine.
Do you mean to say,--said I,--that it is your sister whom that student----
[The young fellow commonly known as John, who had been sitting on the barrel, smoking, jumped off just then, kicked over the barrel, gave it a push with his foot that set it rolling, and stuck his saucy-looking face in at the window so as to cut my question off in the middle; and the schoolmistress leaving the room a few minutes afterwards, I did not have a chance to finish it.
The young fellow came in and sat down in a chair, putting his heels on the top of another.
Pooty girl,--said he.
A fine young lady,--I replied.
Keeps a fust-rate school, according to accounts,--said he,--teaches all sorts of things,--Latin and Italian and music. Folks rich once,--smashed up. She went right ahead as smart as if she'd been born to work. That's the kind o' girl I go for. I'd marry her, only two or three other girls would drown themselves, if I did.
I think the above is the longest speech of this young fellow's which I have put on record. I do not like to change his peculiar expressions, for this is one of those cases in which the style is the man, as M. de Buffon says. The fact is, the young fellow is a good-hearted creature enough, only too fond of his jokes,--and if it were not for those heat-lightning winks on one side of his face, I should not mind his fun much.]
[Some days after this, when the company were together again, I talked a little.]
----I don't think I have a genuine hatred for anybody. I am well aware that I differ herein from the sturdy English moralist and the stout American tragedian. I don't deny that I hate the sight of certain people; but the qualities which make me tend to hate the man himself are such as I am so much disposed to pity, that, except under immediate aggravation, I feel kindly enough to the worst of them. It is such a sad thing to be born a sneaking fellow, so much worse than to inherit a hump- back or a couple of club-feet, that I sometimes feel as if we ought to love the crippled souls, if I may use this expression, with a certain tenderness which we need not waste on noble natures. One who is born with such congenital incapacity that nothing can make a gentleman of him is entitled, not to our wrath, but to our profoundest sympathy. But as we cannot help hating the sight of these people, just as we do that of physical deformities, we gradually eliminate them from our society,--we love them, but open the window and let them go. By the time decent people reach middle age they have weeded their circle pretty well of these unfortunates, unless they have a taste for such animals; in which case, no matter what their position may be, there is something, you may be sure, in their natures akin to that of their wretched parasites.
----The divinity-student wished to know what I thought of affinities, as well as of antipathies; did I believe in love at first sight?
Sir,--said I,--all men love all women. That is the primâ-facie aspect of the case. The Court of Nature assumes the law to be, that all men do so; and the individual man is bound to show cause why he does not love any particular woman. A man, says one of my old black-letter law-books, may show divers good reasons, as thus; He hath not seen the person named in the indictment; she is of tender age, or the reverse of that; she hath certain personal disqualifications,--as, for instance, she is a blackamoor, or hath an ill-favored countenance; or, his capacity of loving being limited, his affections are engrossed by a previous comer; and so of other conditions. Not the less is it true that he is bound by duty and inclined by nature to love each and every woman. Therefore it is that each woman virtually summons every man to show cause why he doth not love her. This is not by written document, or direct speech, for the most part, but by certain signs of silk, gold, and other materials, which say to all men,--Look on me and love, as in duty bound. Then the man pleadeth his special incapacity, whatsoever that may be,--as, for instance, impecuniosity, or that he hath one or many wives in his household, or that he is of mean figure, or small capacity; of which reasons it may be noted, that the first is, according to late decisions, of chiefest authority.--So far the old law-book. But there is a note from an older authority, saying that every woman doth also love each and every man, except there be some good reason to the contrary; and a very observing friend of mine, a young unmarried clergyman, tells me, that, so far as his experience goes, he has reason to think the ancient author had fact to justify his statement.
I'll tell you how it is with the pictures of women we fall in love with at first sight.
----We a'n't talking about pictures,--said the landlady's daughter,--
we're talking about women.
I understood that we were speaking of love at sight,--I remarked, mildly. --Now, as all a man knows about a woman whom he looks at is just what a picture as big as a copper, or a "nickel," rather, at the bottom of his eye can teach him, I think I am right in saying we are talking about the pictures of women.--Well, now, the reason why a man is not desperately in love with ten thousand women at once is just that which prevents all our portraits being distinctly seen upon that wall. They all are painted there by reflection from our faces, but because all of them are painted on each spot, and each on the same surface, and many other objects at the same time, no one is seen as a picture. But darken a chamber and let a single pencil of rays in through a key-hole, then you have a picture on the wall. We never fall in love with a woman in distinction from women, until we can get an image of her through a pin-hole; and then we can see nothing else, and nobody but ourselves can see the image in our mental camera-obscura.
----My friend, the Poet, tells me he has to leave town whenever the anniversaries come round.
What's the difficulty?--Why, they all want him to get up and make speeches, or songs, or toasts; which is just the very thing he doesn't want to do. He is an old story, he says, and hates to show on these occasions. But they tease him, and coax him, and can't do without him, and feel all over his poor weak head until they get their fingers on the fontanelle, (the Professor will tell you what this means,--he says the one at the top of the head always remains open in poets,) until, by gentle pressure on that soft pulsating spot, they stupefy him to the point of acquiescence.
There are times, though, he says, when it is a pleasure, before going to some agreeable meeting, to rush out into one's garden and clutch up a handful of what grows there,--weeds and violets together,--not cutting them off, but pulling them up by the roots with the brown earth they grow in sticking to them. That's his idea of a post-prandial performance. Look here, now. These verses I am going to read you, he tells me, were pulled up by the roots just in that way, the other day.--Beautiful entertainment, --names there on the plates that flow from all English-speaking tongues as familiarly as and or the; entertainers known wherever good poetry and fair title-pages are held in esteem; guest a kind-hearted, modest, genial, hopeful poet, who sings to the hearts of his countrymen, the British people, the songs of good cheer which the better days to come, as all honest souls trust and believe, will turn into the prose of common life. My friend, the Poet, says you must not read such a string of verses too literally. If he trimmed it nicely below, you wouldn't see the roots, he says, and he likes to keep them, and a little of the soil clinging to them.
This is the farewell my friend, the Poet, read to his and our friend, the Poet:--
Brave singer of the coming time,
Sweet minstrel of the joyous present,
Crowned with the noblest wreath of rhyme,
The holly-leaf of Ayrshire's peasant,
Good-bye! Good-bye!--Our hearts and hands,
Our lips in honest Saxon phrases,
Cry, God be with him, till he stands
His feet among the English daisies!
'Tis here we part;--for other eyes
The busy deck, the fluttering streamer,
The dripping arms that plunge and rise,
The waves in foam, the ship in tremor,
The kerchiefs waving from the pier,
The cloudy pillar gliding o'er him,
The deep blue desert, lone and drear,
With heaven above and home before him!
His home!--the Western giant smiles,
And twirls the spotty globe to find it;--
This little speck the British Isles?
'Tis but a freckle,--never mind it!--
He laughs, and all his prairies roll,
Each gurgling cataract roars and chuckles,
And ridges stretched from pole to pole
Heave till they crack their iron knuckles!
But Memory blushes at the sneer,
And Honor turns with frown defiant,
And Freedom, leaning on her spear,
Laughs louder than the laughing giant:--
"An islet is a world," she said,
"When glory with its dust has blended,
And Britain keeps her noble dead
Till earth and seas and skies are rended!"
Beneath each swinging forest-bough
Some arm as stout in death reposes,--
From wave-washed foot to heaven-kissed brow
Her valor's life-blood runs in roses;
Nay, let our brothers of the West
Write smiling in their florid pages,
One-half her soil has walked the rest
In poets, heroes, martyrs, sages!
Hugged in the clinging billow's clasp,
From sea-weed fringe to mountain heather,
The British oak with rooted grasp
Her slender handful holds together;--
With cliffs of white and bowers of green,
And Ocean narrowing to caress her,
And hills and threaded streams between,--
Our little mother isle, God bless her!
In earth's broad temple where we stand,
Fanned by the eastern gales that brought us,
We hold the missal in our hand,
Bright with the lines our Mother taught us;
Where'er its blazoned page betrays
The glistening links of gilded fetters,
Behold, the half-turned leaf displays
Her rubric stained in crimson letters!
Enough! To speed a parting friend
'Tis vain alike to speak and listen;--
Yet stay,--these feeble accents blend
With rays of light from eyes that glisten.
Good-bye! once more,--and kindly tell
In words of peace the young world's story,--
And say, besides,--we love too well
Our mother's soil, our fathers' glory!
When my friend, the Professor, found that my friend, the Poet, had been coming out in this full-blown style, he got a little excited, as you may have seen a canary, sometimes, when another strikes up. The Professor says he knows he can lecture, and thinks he can write verses. At any rate, he has often tried, and now he was determined to try again. So when some professional friends of his called him up, one day, after a feast of reason and a regular "freshet" of soul which had lasted two or three hours, he read them these verses. He introduced them with a few remarks, he told me, of which the only one he remembered was this: that he had rather write a single line which one among them should think worth remembering than set them all laughing with a string of epigrams. It was all right, I don't doubt; at any rate, that was his fancy then, and perhaps another time he may be obstinately hilarious; however, it may be that he is growing graver, for time is a fact so long as clocks and watches continue to go, and a cat can't be a kitten always, as the old gentleman opposite said the other day.
You must listen to this seriously, for I think the Professor was very much in earnest when he wrote it.
As Life's unending column pours,
Two marshalled hosts are seen,--
Two armies on the trampled shores
That Death flows black between.
One marches to the drum-beat's roll,
The wide-mouthed clarion's bray,
And bears upon a crimson scroll,
"Our glory is to slay."
One moves in silence by the stream,
With sad, yet watchful eyes,
Calm as the patient planet's gleam
That walks the clouded skies.
Along its front no sabres shine,
No blood-red pennons wave;
Its banner bears the single line,
"Our duty is to save."
For those no death-bed's lingering shade;
At Honor's trumpet-call,
With knitted brow and lifted blade
In Glory's arms they fall.
For these no clashing falchions bright,
No stirring battle-cry;
The bloodless stabber calls by night,--
Each answers, "Here am I!"
For those the sculptor's laurelled bust,
The builder's marble piles,
The anthems pealing o'er their dust
Through long cathedral aisles.
For these the blossom-sprinkled turf
That floods the lonely graves,
When Spring rolls in her sea-green surf
In flowery-foaming waves.
Two paths lead upward from below,
And angels wait above,
Who count each burning life-drop's flow,
Each falling tear of Love.
Though from the Hero's bleeding breast
Her pulses Freedom drew,
Though the white lilies in her crest
Sprang from that scarlet dew,--
While Valor's haughty champions wait
Till all their scars are shown,
Love walks unchallenged through the gate
To sit beside the Throne!
There was no apologue more popular in the Middle Ages than that of the hermit, who, musing on the wickedness and tyranny of those whom the inscrutable wisdom of Providence had intrusted with the government of the world, fell asleep and awoke to find himself the very monarch whose abject life and capricious violence had furnished the subject of his moralizing. Endowed with irresponsible power, tempted by passions whose existence in himself he had never suspected, and betrayed by the political necessities of his position, he became gradually guilty of all the crimes and the luxury which had seemed so hideous to him in his hermitage over a dish of water-cresses.
The American Tract Society from small beginnings has risen to be the dispenser of a yearly revenue of nearly half a million. It has become a great establishment, with a traditional policy, with the distrust of change and the dislike of disturbing questions (especially of such as would lessen its revenues) natural to great establishments. It had been poor and weak; it has become rich and powerful. The hermit has become king.
If the pious men who founded the American Tract Society had been told that within forty years they would be watchful of their publications, lest, by inadvertence, anything disrespectful might be spoken of the African Slave- trade,--that they would consider it an ample equivalent for compulsory dumbness on the vices of Slavery, that their colporteurs could awaken the minds of Southern brethren to the horrors of St. Bartholomew,--that they would hold their peace about the body of Cuffee dancing to the music of the cart-whip, provided only they could save the soul of Sambo alive by presenting him a pamphlet, which he could not read, on the depravity of the double-shuffle,--that they would consent to be fellow-members in the Tract Society with him who sold their fellow-members in Christ on the auction-block, if he agreed with them in condemning Transubstantiation, (and it would not be difficult for a gentleman who ignored the real presence of God in his brother man to deny it in the sacramental wafer,)-- if those excellent men had been told this, they would have shrunk in horror, and exclaimed, "Are thy servants dogs, that they should do these things?"
Yet this is precisely the present position of the Society.
There are two ways of evading the responsibility of such inconsistency. The first is by an appeal to the Society's Constitution, and by claiming to interpret it strictly in accordance with the rules of law as applied to contracts, whether between individuals or States. The second is by denying that Slavery is opposed to the genius of Christianity, and that any moral wrongs are the necessary results of it. We will not be so unjust to the Society as to suppose that any of its members would rely on this latter plea, and shall therefore confine ourselves to a brief consideration of the other.
In order that the same rules of interpretation should be considered applicable to the Constitution of the Society and to that of the United States, we must attribute to the former a solemnity and importance which involve a palpable absurdity. To claim for it the verbal accuracy and the legal wariness of a mere contract is equally at war with common sense and the facts of the case; and even were it not so, the party to a bond who should attempt to escape its ethical obligation by a legal quibble of construction would be put in Coventry by all honest men. In point of fact, the Constitution was simply the minutes of an agreement among certain gentlemen, to define the limits within which they would accept trust- funds, and the objects for which they should expend them.
But if we accept the alternative offered by the advocates of strict construction, we shall not find that their case is strengthened. Claiming that where the meaning of an instrument is doubtful, it should be interpreted according to the contemporary understanding of its framers, they argue that it would be absurd to suppose that gentlemen from the Southern States would have united to form a society that included in its objects any discussion of the moral duties arising from the institution of Slavery. Admitting the first part of their proposition, we deny the conclusion they seek to draw from it. They are guilty of a glaring anachronism in assuming the same opinions and prejudices to have existed in 1825 which are undoubtedly influential in 1858. The Antislavery agitation did not begin until 1831, and the debates in the Virginia Convention prove conclusively that six years after the foundation of the Tract Society, the leading men in that State, men whose minds had been trained and whose characters had been tempered in that school of action and experience which was open to all during the heroic period of our history, had not yet suffered such distortion of the intellect through passion, and such deadening of the conscience through interest, as would have prevented their discussing either the moral or the political aspects of Slavery, and precluded them from uniting in any effort to make the relation between master and slave less demoralizing to the one and less imbruting to the other.
Again, it is claimed that the words of the Constitution are conclusive, and that the declaration that the publications of the Society shall be such as are "satisfactory to all Evangelical Christians" forbids by implication the issuing of any tract which could possibly offend the brethren in Slave States. The Society, it is argued, can publish only on topics about which all Evangelical Christians are agreed, and must, therefore, avoid everything in which the question of politics is involved. But what are the facts about matters other than Slavery? Tracts have been issued and circulated in which Dancing is condemned as sinful; are all Evangelical Christians agreed about this? On the Temperance question; against Catholicism;--have these topics never entered into our politics? The simple truth is, that Slavery is the only subject about which the Publishing Committee have felt Constitutional scruples. Till this question arose, they were like me in perfect health, never suspecting that they had any constitution at all; but now, like hypochondriacs, they feel it in every pore, at the least breath from the eastward.
If a strict construction of the words "all Evangelical Christians" be insisted on, we are at a loss to see where the Committee could draw the dividing line between what might be offensive and what allowable. The Society publish tracts in which the study of the Scriptures is enforced and their denial to the laity by Romanists assailed. But throughout the South it is criminal to teach a slave to read; throughout the South, no book could be distributed among the servile population more incendiary than the Bible, if they could only read it. Will not our Southern brethren take alarm? The Society is reduced to the dilemma of either denying that the African has a soul to be saved, or of consenting to the terrible mockery of assuring him that the way of life is to be found only by searching a book which he is forbidden to open.
If we carry out this doctrine of strict construction to its legitimate results, we shall find that it involves a logical absurdity. What is the number of men whose outraged sensibilities may claim the suppression of a tract? Is the taboo of a thousand valid? Of a hundred? Of ten? Or are tracts to be distributed only to those who will find their doctrine agreeable, and are the Society's colporteurs to be instructed that a Temperance essay is the proper thing for a total-abstinent infidel, and a sermon on the Atonement for a distilling deacon? If the aim of the Society be only to convert men from sins they have no mind to, and to convince them of errors to which they have no temptation, they might as well be spending their money to persuade schoolmasters that two and two make four, or mathematicians that there cannot be two obtuse angles in a triangle. If this be their notion of the way in which the gospel is to be preached, we do not wonder that they have found it necessary to print a tract upon the impropriety of sleeping in church.
But the Society are concluded by their own action; for in 1857 they unanimously adopted the following resolution: "That those moral duties which grow out of the existence of Slavery, as well as those moral evils and vices which it is known to promote, and which are condemned in Scripture, and so much deplored by Evangelical Christians, undoubtedly do fall within the province of this Society, and can and ought to be discussed in a fraternal and Christian spirit." The Society saw clearly that it was impossible to draw a Mason and Dixon's line in the world of ethics, to divide Duty by a parallel of latitude. The only line which Christ drew is that which parts the sheep from the goats, that great horizon-line of the moral nature of man which is the boundary between light and darkness. The Society, by yielding (as they have done in 1858) to what are pleasantly called the "objections" of the South, (objections of so forcible a nature that we are told the colporteurs were "forced to flee,") virtually exclude the black man, if born to the southward of a certain arbitrary line, from the operation of God's providence, and thereby do as great a wrong to the Creator as the Episcopal Church did to the artist when they published Ary Scheffer's Christus Consolator with the figure of the slave left out.
The Society is not asked to disseminate antislavery doctrines, but simply to be even-handed between master and slave, and, since they have recommended Sambo and Toney to be obedient to Mr. Legree, to remind him in turn that he also has duties toward the bodies and souls of his bondmen. But we are told that the time has not yet arrived, that at present the ears of our Southern brethren are closed against all appeals, that God in his good time will turn their hearts, and that then, and not till then, will be the fitting occasion to do something in the premises. But if the Society is to await this golden opportunity with such exemplary patience in one case, why not in all? If it is to decline any attempt at converting the sinner till after God has converted him, will there be any special necessity for a tract society at all? Will it not be a little presumptuous, as well as superfluous, to undertake the doing over again of what He has already done? We fear that the studies of Blackstone, upon which the gentlemen who argue thus have entered in order to fit themselves for the legal and constitutional argument of the question, have confused their minds, and that they are misled by some fancied analogy between a tract and an action of trover, and conceive that the one, like the other, cannot be employed till after an actual conversion has taken place.
The resolutions reported by the Special Committee at the annual meeting of 1857, drawn up with great caution and with a sincere desire to make whole the breach in the Society, have had the usual fate of all attempts to reconcile incompatibilities by compromise. They express confidence in the Publishing Committee, and at the same time impliedly condemn them by recommending them to do precisely what they had all along scrupulously avoided doing. The result was just what might have been expected. Both parties among the Northern members of the Society, those who approved the former action of the Publishing Committee, and those who approved the new policy recommended in the resolutions, those who favored silence and those who favored speech on the subject of Slavery, claimed the victory, while the Southern brethren, as usual, refused to be satisfied with anything short of unconditional submission. The word Compromise, as far as Slavery is concerned, has always been of fatal augury. The concessions of the South have been like the "With all my worldly goods I thee endow" of a bankrupt bridegroom, who thereby generously bestows all his debts upon his wife, and as a small return for his magnanimity consents to accept all her personal and a life estate in all her real property. The South is willing that the Tract Society should expend its money to convince the slave that he has a soul to be saved so far as he is obedient to his master, but not to persuade the master that he has a soul to undergo a very different process so far as he is unmerciful to his slave.
We Americans are very fond of this glue of compromise. Like so many quack cements, it is advertised to make the mended parts of the vessel stronger than those which have never been broken, but, like them, it will not stand hot water,--and as the question of Slavery is sure to plunge all who approach it, even with the best intentions, into that fatal element, the patched-up brotherhood, which but yesterday was warranted to be better than new, falls once more into a heap of incoherent fragments. The last trial of the virtues of the Patent Redintegrator by the Special Committee of the Tract Society has ended like all the rest, and as all attempts to buy peace at too dear a rate must end. Peace is an excellent thing, but principle and pluck are better; and the man who sacrifices them to gain it finds at last that he has crouched under the Caudine yoke to purchase only a contemptuous toleration that leaves him at war with his own self-respect and the invincible forces of his higher nature.
But the peace which Christ promised to his followers was not of this world; the good gift he brought them was not peace, but a sword. It was no sword of territorial conquest, but that flaming blade of conscience and self-conviction which lightened between our first parents and their lost Eden,--that sword of the Spirit that searcheth all things,--which severs one by one the ties of passion, of interest, of self-pride, that bind the soul to earth,--whose implacable edge may divide a man from family, from friends, from whatever is nearest and dearest,--and which hovers before him like the air-drawn dagger of Macbeth, beckoning him, not to crime, but to the legitimate royalties of self-denial and self-sacrifice, to the freedom which is won only by surrender of the will. Christianity has never been concession, never peace; it is continual aggression; one province of wrong conquered, its pioneers are already in the heart of another. The mile-stones of its onward march down the ages have not been monuments of material power, but the blackened stakes of martyrs, trophies of individual fidelity to conviction. For it is the only religion which is superior to all endowment, to all authority,--which has a bishopric and a cathedral wherever a single human soul has surrendered itself to God. That very spirit of doubt, inquiry, and fanaticism for private judgment, with which Romanists reproach Protestantism, is its stamp and token of authenticity,--the seal of Christ, and not of the Fisherman.
We do not wonder at the division which has taken place in the Tract Society, nor do we regret it. The ideal life of a Christian is possible to very few, but we naturally look for a nearer approach to it in those who associate together to disseminate the doctrines which they believe to be its formative essentials, and there is nothing which the enemies of religion seize on so gladly as any inconsistency between the conduct and the professions of such persons. Though utterly indifferent to the wrongs of the slave, the scoffer would not fail to remark upon the hollowness of a Christianity which was horror-stricken at a dance or a Sunday-drive, while it was blandly silent about the separation of families, the putting asunder whom God had joined, the selling Christian girls for Christian harems, and the thousand horrors of a system which can lessen the agonies it inflicts only by debasing the minds and souls of the race on whom it inflicts them. Is your Christianity, then, he would say, a respecter of persons, and does it condone the sin because the sinner can contribute to your coffers? Was there ever a Simony like this,--that does not sell, but withholds, the gift of God for a price?
The world naturally holds the Society to a stricter accountability than it would insist upon in ordinary cases. Were they only a club of gentlemen associated for their own amusement, it would be very natural and proper that they should exclude all questions which would introduce controversy, and that, however individually interested in certain reforms, they should not force them upon others who would consider them a bore. But a society of professing Christians, united for the express purpose of carrying both the theory and the practice of the New Testament into every household in the land, has voluntarily subjected itself to a graver responsibility, and renounced all title to fall back upon any reserved right of personal comfort or convenience.
We say, then, that we are glad to see this division in the Tract Society, --not glad because of the division, but because it has sprung from an earnest effort to relieve the Society of a reproach which was not only impairing its usefulness, but doing an injury to the cause of truth and sincerity everywhere. We have no desire to impugn the motives of those who consider themselves conservative members of the Society; we believe them to be honest in their convictions, or their want of them; but we think they have mistaken notions as to what conservatism is, and that they are wrong in supposing it to consist in refusing to wipe away the film on their spectacle-glasses which prevents their seeing the handwriting on the wall, or in conserving reverently the barnacles on their ship's bottom and the dry-rot in its knees. We yield to none of them in reverence for the Past; it is there only that the imagination can find repose and seclusion; there dwells that silent majority whose experience guides our action and whose wisdom shapes our thought in spite of ourselves;--but it is not length of days that can make evil reverend, nor persistence in inconsistency that can give it the power or the claim of orderly precedent. Wrong, though its title-deeds go back to the days of Sodom, is by nature a thing of yesterday,--while the right, of which we became conscious but an hour ago, is more ancient than the stars, and of the essence of Heaven. If it were proposed to establish Slavery to-morrow, should we have more patience with its patriarchal argument than with the parallel claim of Mormonism? That Slavery is old is but its greater condemnation; that we have tolerated it so long, the strongest plea for our doing so no longer. There is one institution to which we owe our first allegiance, one that is more sacred and venerable than any other,--the soul and conscience of Man.
What claim has Slavery to immunity from discussion? We are told that discussion is dangerous. Dangerous to what? Truth invites it, courts the point of the Ithuriel-spear, whose touch can but reveal more clearly the grace and grandeur of her angelic proportions. The advocates of Slavery have taken refuge in the last covert of desperate sophism, and affirm that their institution is of Divine ordination, that its bases are laid in the nature of man. Is anything, then, of God's contriving endangered by inquiry? Was it the system of the universe, or the monks, that trembled at the telescope of Galileo? Did the circulation of the firmament stop in terror because Newton laid his daring finger on its pulse? But it is idle to discuss a proposition so monstrous. There is no right of sanctuary for a crime against humanity, and they who drag an unclean thing to the horns of the altar bring it to vengeance and not to safety.
Even granting that Slavery were all that its apologists assume it to be, and that the relation of master and slave were of God's appointing, would not its abuses be just the thing which it was the duty of Christian men to protest against, and, as far as might be, to root out? Would our courts feel themselves debarred from interfering to rescue a daughter from a parent who wished to make merchandise of her purity, or a wife from a husband who was brutal to her, by the plea that parental authority and marriage were of Divine ordinance? Would a police-justice discharge a drunkard who pleaded the patriarchal precedent of Noah? or would he not rather give him another month in the House of Correction for his impudence?
The Antislavery question is not one which the Tract Society can exclude by triumphant majorities, nor put to shame by a comparison of respectabilities. Mixed though it has been with politics, it is in no sense political, and springing naturally from the principles of that religion which traces its human pedigree to a manger, and whose first apostles were twelve poor men against the whole world, it can dispense with numbers and earthly respect. The clergyman may ignore it in the pulpit, but it confronts him in his study; the church-member, who has suppressed it in parish-meeting, opens it with the pages of his Testament; the merchant, who has shut it out of his house and his heart, finds it lying in wait for him, a gaunt fugitive, in the hold of his ship; the lawyer, who has declared that it is no concern of his, finds it thrust upon him in the brief of the slave-hunter; the historian, who had cautiously evaded it, stumbles over it at Bunker Hill. And why? Because it is not political, but moral,--because it is not local, but national, --because it is not a test of party, but of individual honesty and honor. The wrong which we allow our nation to perpetrate we cannot localize, if we would; we cannot hem it within the limits of Washington or Kansas; sooner or later, it will force itself into the conscience and sit by the hearthstone of every citizen.
It is not partisanship, it is not fanaticism, that has forced this matter of Anti-slavery upon the American people; it is the spirit of Christianity, which appeals from prejudices and predilections to the moral consciousness of the individual man; that spirit elastic as air, penetrative as heat, invulnerable as sunshine, against which creed after creed and institution after institution have measured their strength and been confounded; that restless spirit which refuses to crystallize in any sect or form, but persists, a Divinely-commissioned radical and reconstructor, in trying every generation with a new dilemma between case and interest on the one hand, and duty on the other. Shall it be said that its kingdom is not of this world? In one sense, and that the highest, it certainly is not; but just as certainly Christ never intended those words to be used as a subterfuge by which to escape our responsibilities in the life of business and politics. Let the cross, the sword, and the arena answer, whether the world, that then was, so understood its first preachers and apostles. Caesar and Flamen both instinctively dreaded it, not because it aimed at riches or power, but because it strove to conquer that other world in the moral nature of mankind, where it could establish a throne against which wealth and force would be weak and contemptible. No human device has ever prevailed against it, no array of majorities or respectabilities; but neither Caesar nor Flamen ever conceived a scheme so cunningly adapted to neutralize its power as that graceful compromise which accepts it with the lip and denies it in the life, which marries it at the altar and divorces it at the church-door.
In our first article on the Roman Catacombs we expressed the belief that "a year was now hardly likely to pass without the discovery" of new burial-places of the early Christians,--the fresh interest in Christian archaeology leading to fresh explorations in the hollow soil of the Campagna. A letter to us from Rome, of the 2lst of April, confirms the justness of this expectation. We quote from it the following interesting passage:--
"The excavations on the Via Appia Nuova, which I mentioned in a former letter, prove very interesting, and have already resulted in most important discoveries. The spot is at the second milestone outside of the gate of St. John Lateran. The field is on the left of the road going towards Albano, and in it are several brick tombs of beautiful fine work, now or formerly used as dwellings or barns. You and I crossed the very field on a certain New Year's Day, and lingered to admire the almost unrivalled view of the Campagna, the mountains, and Rome, which it affords.
"The first discovery was an ancient basilica, satisfactorily ascertained to be the one dedicated to St. Stephen, built by Santa Demetria,--the first nun,--at the instigation of the pope, St. Leo the Great. [A.D. 440- 461.] Sig. Fortunati, who made the discovery and directs the excavations, told me at great length how he was led to the investigation; but as he has published this and much more in a pamphlet, which I shall send to you, I will not repeat it here.
"Twenty-two columns have been found, many of rare and beautiful marble, one of verde antico, most superb, others of breccia and of cipollino marino, said to be rare, and certainly very beautiful. Forty bases and over thirty capitals of various styles have also been found, as well as architectural ornaments without number, many of them carved with Greek or Roman crosses. The rare and superb fragments of marble show that there must have been costly and beautiful linings and finish. There are also numerous inscriptions of great interest, which connect this church with illustrious families and famous martyrs.
"Subsequently, portions of villas were found, with ruined baths, and mosaics and frescoes, with various pieces of sculpture, some perfect and of most excellent style. There is also a sarcophagus with bas-relief of a Bacchic procession, remarkably fine. The government has bought all for the Museum, and intends spending a large sum in building a basilica over the remains of the old one, in honor of St. Stephen.
"But the most remarkable discovery is an old Roman tomb, by far the finest I have seen in its preservation and perfection. It is about eighteen feet square, has been lined and paved with white marble, some of which still remains. The lofty ceiling is covered with bas-reliefs in stucco, of charming grace and spirit, representing various mythological subjects, in square compartments united by light and elegant arabesques. They are really of wonderful merit, and so perfectly preserved, so fresh, that they seem as if done last year. A massive marble doorway, beautifully corniced, gives entrance to this superb chamber, in which were found three huge sarcophagi, containing the bones of nine bodies;--which bones are left to lie exposed, because the bones of pagans! These sarcophagi are of splendid workmanship, but, unhappily, broken by former barbarians. Present barbarians (said to be Inglesi and Americani) have stolen two skulls, and pick up everything not closely watched. Opposite to this chamber is another, smaller and more modest in adornment, and by the side of this descend two flights of steps in perfect repair. Many vases of colored glass and two very handsome rings were found at the foot of these steps. This tomb is supposed to be of about 160 of our era.
"These stairways descend from the ancient Via Latina, which has been excavated for some distance, and is found with wide sidewalks of stone (lava) similar to the sidewalks in Pompeii. The narrow carriage-way is deeply rutted, which makes one think that the old Romans had hard bumps to contend with.
"Another tomb with perfect stairway has been discovered, but it is much more plain. Foundations of villas, and baths with leaden pipes in great quantity, have been exposed. I hear to-day that the government has ordered the excavation of a mile and a half of the old Via Latina in this neighborhood, and much interesting discovery is anticipated."
We will only add to our correspondent's account the fact that the Basilica of St. Stephen had been sought for in vain previously to this discovery by Signor Fortunati. The great explorer, Bosio, failed to find it, and Aringhi, writing just two hundred years ago, says, "Formerly upon the Via Latina stood the church erected with great pains in honor of the most blessed Stephen, the first martyr, by Demetria, a woman of pristine piety; of which the Bibliothecarius, in his account of Pope Leo the First, thus makes mention: 'In these days, Demetria, the handmaid of God, made the Basilica of St. Stephen on the Latin Way, at the third mile-stone, on her estate:... which afterward, being decayed and near to ruin through the long course of years, was restored by Pope Leo the Third.' Of this most noble church, which was one of the chief monuments of the Christian religion, as well as an ornament of the city of Rome, no vestige at this day remains."
It is remarkable that a church restored so late as the time of Leo III. [A.D. 795-816] should have been so lost without being utterly destroyed, and so buried under the slowly-accumulating soil of the Campagna, that the very tradition of the existence of its remains should have disappeared, and its discovery have been the result of scientific archæeological investigation.
The disappearance and the forgetting of the Church of St. Alexander were less remarkable, because of its far greater distance from the city, and its comparative inconspicuousness and poverty. Scarcely a more striking proof exists of the misery and lowness of Rome during many generations in the Dark Ages than that she should thus have forgotten the very sites of the churches which had stood around her walls, the outpost citadels of her faith.
The Aquarium: An Unveiling of the Wonders of the Deep Sea. By P.H. GOSSE. Second Edition, revised and enlarged. With Illustrations. London: 1866.
The Common Objects of the Seashore; including Hints for an Aquarium. By the REV. J.G. WOOD. With Illustrations. London: Routledge & Co. 1857.
We trust that many of our readers, stimulated by the account of an Aquarium which was given in our number for February, are proposing to set one up for themselves.
Let no one who has been to Barnum's Museum, to look at what the naming advertisement elegantly and grammatically terms "an aquaria," fancy that he has seen the beauty of the real aquarium. The sea will not show its treasures in a quarter of an hour, or be made a sight of for a quarter of a dollar. An aquarium is not to be exhausted in a day, but, if favorably placed where it may have sufficient direct sunshine, and well stocked with various creatures, day after day developes within it new beauties and unexpected sights. It becomes like a secret cave in the ocean, where the processes of Nature go on in wonderful and silent progression, and the coy sea displays its rarer beauties of life, of color, and of form before the watching eyes. Look at it on some clear day, when the sun is bright, and see the broad leaves of ulva, their vivid green sparkling with the brilliant bubbles of oxygen which float up to the surface like the bubbles of Champagne; see the glades of the pink coralline, or the purple Iceland- moss covered with its plum-like down, in the midst of which the transparent bodies of the shrimps or the yellow or banded shells of the sea-snails are lying half hid. See on the brown rock, whose surface is covered with the softest growth, the white anemone stretching its crown of delicate tentacles to the light; or the long winding case of the serpula, from the end of which appear the purple, brown, or yellow feathers that decorate the head of its timid occupant. Or watch the scallop with his turquoise eyes; or the comic crabs, or the minnows playing through the water, in and out of the recesses of the rocks or the thickets of the seaweed. There is no end of the pleasant sights. And day after day the creatures will grow more tame, the serpula will not dart back into his case when you approach, nor the pecten close his beautiful shell as your shadow passes over it. Moreover, the habits of the creatures grow more entertaining as you become familiar with them, and even the dull oyster begins at last to show some signs of individual character.
And it is easy to have all this away from the seashore. The best tanks, so far as we know, that are made in this country, are those of Mr. C.E. Hammett, of Newport, Rhode Island. But the tank is of little importance, if one cannot get the water, the seaweed, and the stock; and therefore Mr. Hammett undertakes to supply these also. He will send, not the water itself, but the salts obtained by evaporation from the quantity of water necessary for each aquarium. These are to be dissolved in clear spring- water, (previously boiled, to insure its containing no injurious living matter,) and then the aquarium, having first had a bed of cleanly-washed sand put upon its bottom for about an inch or an inch and a half in depth, and this in turn covered with a thin layer of small pebbles,--though these last are not essential,--is to be filled with it. Then the seaweed, which is sent so packed as to preserve its freshness, is to be put in. It will be attached to small bits of rock, and these should be supported by or laid upon other pieces of stone, so raised as to secure a free passage for the water about them, and so afford places of retreat for the animals. The stock will be sent, if it is to go to any distance, in jars, and anemones, crabs, shell-fish of various kinds, and many other creatures, will be found among it. The seaweed should be a day or two in the tank before the creatures are put into it.
And now, having got the aquarium in order, comes the point how to keep it in order,--how to keep the creatures alive, and how to prevent the water from growing cloudy and thick. The main rule is to secure sunlight,--hot enough to raise the water to a temperature above that of the outer air,-- to remove all dirt and floating scum, and to furnish the tank on every cloudy day with a supply of air and with motion by means of a syringe. The creatures should never be fed in warm weather with any animal substance, its decay being certain to corrupt the water. A little meal or a few crumbs of bread may now and then be given; but even this is not necessary; for Nature furnishes all the food that is needed, in the spores thrown off by the seaweed, in the seaweed itself, whose growth is generally sufficiently rapid to make up for the ravages committed upon it, and in the host of infusoria constantly produced in the water. If any of the creatures die, their bodies should be immediately removed,--though sometimes the omnivorous crabs will do this work rapidly enough. As the water evaporates, it should be filled up to its original level with fresh spring-water,--the salts in it undergoing no diminution by evaporation. If, suddenly, the water should grow thick, it should be taken from the tank, a portion at a time, and filtered back into it slowly through pounded charcoal, the process being repeated till the purity seems to be returning, and at the same time the rocks and seaweed should be removed and carefully washed in fresh water. If, however, the water should by any ill chance grow tainted and emit a bad odor, nothing can be done to restore it, and, unless it is at once changed, the creatures will die. To meet such an emergency, which is of rare occurrence, it is well to have a double quantity of the salts sent with the tank to secure a new supply of water. But we have known aquariums that have kept in order for more than a year with no change of the water, a supply of spring-water being put in from time to time as we have directed; and at this moment, as we write, there is an aquarium at our side which has been in active operation for six months, and the water is as clear as it was the day it was put in. If, spite of everything, the seawater fail, then try a fresh-water aquarium. Use your tank for the pond instead of the ocean; and in the spotted newt, the tortoise, the tadpole, the caddis-worm, and the thousand other inhabitants of our inland ponds and brooks, with the weeds among which they live, you will find as much entertainment as in watching the wonders of the great sea.
A camel's-hair brush, a bent spoon on a long handle, a sponge tied to a stick, and one or two other instruments which use will suggest, are all that are needed for keeping the sides of the tank free from growth or removing obnoxious substances from its bottom.
If, on receiving the animals, any of them should appear exhausted by the journey, they may sometimes be revived by aerating the water in which they are by means of a syringe. It should always be remembered, that, though living in the water, they need a constant supply of air. And it would be well, in getting an aquarium, to have the tank and the seaweeds sent a few days in advance of the stock, so that on the arrival of the creatures they may be at once transferred to their new abode.
There are no American books upon the subject, and, in the present want of them, the two whose names are given above are the best that can be obtained. Mr. Gosse's is expensive, costing between four and five dollars. "The Common Objects of the Seashore," to be got for a quarter of a dollar, contains much accurate, unpretending, and pleasant information.
The American Drawing-Book: a Manual for the Amateur, and a Basis of Study for the Professional Artist. Especially adapted to the Use of Public and Private Schools, as well as Home Instruction. By J.G. CHAPMAN, N.A. New York: J.S. Redfield. 4to. pp. 304.
Drawing-books, in general, deserve to be put into the same category with the numerous languages "without a master" which have deluded so many impatient aspirants to knowledge by royal (and cheap) roads. A drawing- book, at its very best, is only a partial and lame substitute for a teacher, giving instruction empirically; so that, be it ever so correct in principle, it must lack adaptation to the momentary and most pressing wants of the pupil and to his particular frame of mind; it is too Procrustean to be of any ultimate use to anybody, except in comparatively unimportant matters. It is well enough for those who need only amusement in their drawing, and whose highest idea of Art is copying prints and pictures; but for those who want assistance from Art in order to the better understanding of Nature, no man, be he ever so wise, can, by the drawing-book plan, do much to smooth the way of study.
All that another mind could do for us by way of teaching Art would be to save us time,--first, by its experience, in anticipating our failures; second, by its trained accuracy, to correct our errors of expression more promptly than our afterthought would do it,--and to systematize our perceptions for us by showing us the relative and comparative importance of truths in Nature. In the first two respects, which are merely practical, the drawing-book, if judiciously prepared, might do somewhat to assist us; but in the last and most important, only the experienced and thoughtful artist, standing with us before Nature, can give us further insight into her system of expression. A good picture may do a little, but it is Nature's own face we need to study, and that neither book nor picture can very deeply interpret for our proper and peculiar perception.
In the practical part, again, the drawing-book can give us no real assistance in regard to color. And thus the efficacy of it is reduced to the communication of methods of drawing in white and black. This Chapman's book does to the best purpose possible under the circumstances, in what is technically termed the right-line system of drawing,--that is, the reduction of all forms to their approximate geometrical figures in order to facilitate the measurements of the eye. Thus, it is easier by far to determine the proportion which exists between the sides of a triangle formed by the lines connecting the three principal points in any figure than any curvilinear connections whatever. The application of the rectilinear system consists in the use, as a basis of the drawing, of such a series of triangles as shall at once show the exact relation of the points of definition or expression to each other; but the successful application of this depends much on the assistance of the trained eye and hand of a master watching every step we make.
When we leave this section of the "American Drawing-Book," we leave all that is of practical value to the young artist. The prescription of any particular mode of execution is always injurious, (if in any degree effective,) for the reason that the student must not think of execution at all, but simply what the form is which he wants to draw, and how he can draw it most plainly and promptly. Decision of execution should always be the result of complete knowledge of the thing to be drawn; if from any other source, it will assuredly be only heedless scrawling, bad in proportion as it is energetic and decided.
The chapter on Perspective is full and well illustrated, and useful to architectural or mechanical draughtsmen, may-be, but little so to artists. There are, indeed, no laws of perspective which the careful draughtsman from Nature need ever apply, for his eye will show him the tendency of lines and the relative magnitude of bodies quicker than he can find them by the application of the rules of perspective,--and with much better result, since all application of science directly to artistic work endangers its poetic character, and almost invariably gives rise to a hardness and formalism the reverse of artistic, leading the artist to depend on what he knows ought to be rather than on what he really sees, a tendency more to be deprecated than any want of correctness in drawing.
The book contains chapters on artistic processes and technical matters generally, making it a useful hand-book to amateurs; but all that is really valuable to a young student of Art might be compressed into a very few pages of this ponderous book. To follow its prescriptions seriatim would be to him a serious loss of time and heart.
The New American Cyclopaedia. A Popular Dictionary of General Knowledge, Edited by GEORGE RIPLEY and CHAS. A. DANA. Vol. II. New York: D. Appleton & Co. 8vo.
We have spoken so fully of the purpose and general character of this work, in noticing the first volume, that it is hardly necessary for us to speak at length of the second. In a rapid glance at its contents, it appears fully to bear out the promise of the first. We have noticed a few omissions, and some mistakes of judgment. It is, perhaps, impossible to preserve the gradation of reputations in such a work; but a zoologist must be puzzled when he sees Von Baer, the great embryologist, who made a classification of animals, founded on their development, which substantially agrees with that of Cuvier, founded on their structure, occupy about one tenth of the space devoted to Peter T. Barnum; however, we suppose, that, as Barnum created new animals, he is a more wonderful personage than Von Baer, who simply classified old ones. These occasional omissions and disturbances of the scale of reputations are, however, more than offset by the new information the editors have been able to incorporate into most of their biographies of the living, and not a few of those of the dead. Many persons who were mere names to the majority of the public are here, for the first time, recognized as men engaged in living lives as well as in writing books. Some of these biographies must have been obtained at the expense of much time and correspondence. Samuel Bayley, the author of "Essays on the Formation of Opinions," is one of these well-known names but unknown men; but in the present volume he has been compelled to come out of his mysterious seclusion, and present to the public those credentials of dates and incidents which prove him to be a positive existence on the planet.
The papers on Arboriculture, Architecture, Arctic Discovery, Armor, Army, Asia, Atlantic Ocean, Australia, Balance of Power, Bank, and Barometer, are excellent examples of compact and connected statement of facts and principles. The biographies of Aristotle, Aristophanes, Augustine, Ariosto, and Arnold, and the long article on Athens, are among the most striking and admirable papers in the volume. As the purpose of the work is to supply a Cyclopaedia for popular use, it is inevitable that students of special sciences or subjects should be occasionally disappointed at the comparatively meagre treatment of their respective departments of knowledge. In regard to the articles in the present volume, it may be said that such subjects as Astronomy and the Association of Ideas should have occupied more space, even if the wants of the ordinary reader were alone consulted. But still, when we consider the vast range and variety of topics included in this volume, and the fact that it comprehends a dozen subjects which a dozen octavos devoted to each would not exhaust, we are compelled to award praise to the editors for contriving to compress into so small a space an amount of information so great.
NUMBER 9, JULY, 1858***
******* This file should be named 10079-8.txt or 10079-8.zip *******
This and all associated files of various formats will be found in: http://www.gutenberg.net/1/0/0/7/10079
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