Project Gutenberg's Continental Monthly, Vol. I, No. V, May, 1862, by Various This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.net Title: Continental Monthly, Vol. I, No. V, May, 1862 Devoted To Literature And National Policy Author: Various Release Date: January 13, 2005 [EBook #14680] Language: English Character set encoding: UTF-8 *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK CONTINENTAL MONTHLY, VOL. I, *** Produced by Cornell University, Joshua Hutchinson, Josephine Paolucci and the PG Online Distributed Proofreading Team.
VOL. I.—May, 1862.—No. V.
The first blood that was shed in our Revolutionary struggle, was in Boston, in March, 1770. The next at Lexington, in June, 1775.
The interval was filled with acts of coercion and oppression on the one side and with complaints and remonstrances on the other. But the thought of Independence was entertained by very few of our people, even for some time after the affair at Lexington. Loyalty to the mother country was professed even by those most clamorous in their complaints, and sincerely so, too. The great majority thought that redress of grievances could be obtained without severance from Great Britain.
But events hurried the people on, and that which was scarcely spoken of at the beginning of the struggle, soon became its chief object.
Is it not the same with our present contest with the South? We took up arms to defend the Constitution, to sustain our Government, to maintain the Union; and in the course of performing that work, it would seem as if Emancipation was forced upon us, and as if it was yet to be the prime object in view.
Lo! how much has already been done toward that end, even though not originally intended! As our armies advance into the enemies' country, thousands of slaves are practically emancipated by the flight and desertion of their rebel masters. The rules and articles of war have been so altered by Congress as to forbid our military forces from returning to bondage any who flee from it. The President has proposed, and Congress has entertained, the proposition of aiding the States in emancipation. Fremont, who has been regarded as the representative of the emancipation feeling, has been restored to active command. And multitudes of our people, who have hitherto considered themselves as bound by the Constitution not to interfere with the subject, have become open in the avowal that as slavery has been the cause of the evil, so it must now be wiped out forever.
It would seem, therefore, as if it was inevitable that the question of emancipation is to be thrust upon us, and we must be prepared to meet it. It is in this view, and irrespective of the question of right and wrong in slavery, that some considerations present themselves, which can not be ignored.
The difference of race between the white and the negro will ever keep them apart, and forbid their amalgamation. One or the other must ultimately go to the wall, and it is worth our while to see what time is doing with the question: 'Which must it be in this country?'
Hence it is important to note the progress of both the races with us.
In the course of seventy years, that is, from the census of 1790 to that of 1860, the slave population has increased from 697,897 to 4,002,996. So that our colored population is now six times as great as when our Government was formed.
During the same period the free population has increased from 3,231,975 to 27,280,070, or nearly nine times as great as in 1790. Of this increase about 3,000,000 is the result of emigration; so that the native-born population has increased to about 24,000,000, or about eight times as many as in the beginning of our Government. If due allowance be made for those born of emigrant parents,1 it would seem that the two races have about kept pace with each other in their natural increase.
A more minute examination, however, will show that the natural increase of the colored race has been in a greater ratio than that of the whites, native-born to the soil.
The following tables will show how this is, both as to the colored and the white races.
|Years.||No. of Slaves.||Increase.||Per ct. of Increase.|
The average increase in every ten years during the seventy years has been about 28 per cent.
|Years||Population||Increase||Per ct. of Increase.|
The average increase in every ten years would be about 35 per cent.
Deducting from this latter table the slaves, the emigrants, and children born of emigrants, now included in it, and the ratio of increase is below 27 per cent every ten years. So that if anything should occur to check the tide of emigration, the blacks in this country would increase in a faster ratio than the whites.
We can form some idea as to the danger of such a check, when we advert to the fact that the emigration which in 1854 was 427,833, fell off in 1858 to 144,652.
To finish the picture which these figures present to us, let us carry the mind forward a decade or two. At the average rate of increase of the blacks, namely, 28 per cent, we shall have, of the slave population alone, and excluding the free blacks, 5,060,585 in 1870, and 6,577,584 in 1880. And by that time they will be increasing at the rate of 150,000 to 200,000 a year.
Carl Schurz, in his speech at the Cooper Institute, in New-York, put to his audience a pertinent inquiry: 'You ask me, What shall we do with our negroes, who are now 4,000,000? And I ask you, What will you do with them when they will be 8,000,000—or rather, what will they do with you?
Surely, surely the question involves the greatest problem of the age.
If our fathers had met the question seventy years ago, we should not now behold the spectacle of 6,000,000 of our people in rebellion, and an army of 400,000 men arrayed against the integrity of the Union. And we may well profit by the example so far as to ask ourselves the question, What will be the condition of our country and of our posterity, fifty years hence, if we, too, shirk the question as painful and difficult of solution?
Whether ultimate and universal emancipation will be one of the necessary modes of dealing with it, time must show. In the mean time there is a question immediately pressing upon us. Day by day our armies are advancing among them, and every news of a contest that comes, brings us accounts of the swarms of 'contrabands' who are flocking to us for protection. At one place alone, Port Royal, S.C., the Government Agent reports that there are at least fifteen thousand slaves deserted by their masters, and thus practically emancipated. Untaught and unwonted to take care of themselves—our armies consuming the fruits of the earth and finding no employment for these 'National Freedmen'—the danger is great that want, and temptation, and the absence of the government to which they have been accustomed, may yet drive them to become lawless hordes, preying on all.
The same state of things must of necessity exist wherever the slave-owner flies from the approach of our armies; and we have now presented to us the alternative of either allowing their state to be worse by reason of their emancipation, or better, according as the wise and the humane among us may deal with the subject.
Some measures, we learn, have already been initiated for the emergency. 'The Educational Commission' of Boston, at the head of which is Governor Andrews; 'The Freedman's Relief Association,' in New-York, with Judge Edmonds as its President; and a similar society in Philadelphia, of which Stephen Colwell is Chairman, are societies of large-hearted men and women, banded together, as they express it, to 'teach the freedmen of the colored race civilization and Christianity; to imbue them with notions of order, industry, economy and self-reliance, and to elevate them in the scale of humanity, by inspiring them with self-respect.'
The task is certainly a high and holy one, and eminently necessary. How far it will be sustained by the Government or the people, or how far the purpose can be carried out with a race who have been intentionally kept in profound ignorance, is part of the great problem that we are to solve. But not all of it, by any means. There is much more for enlightened patriotism and wise humanity yet to do, before the task shall be accomplished and the work begun by the Revolution shall be finished; and to prevent a conflict of races, which can end only in the extermination of one or the other.
The 16,000,000 of natives who were once masters of this whole continent are now dwindled into a few insignificant tribes, 'away among the mountains.' Is such to be the fate of the negro also? Or has the spirit of God's charity so far progressed among us that, unlike our fathers, we can redeem rather than destroy, can emancipate rather than enslave?
Be the answer to those questions what it may, there are other considerations, immediately affecting ourselves as a nation and a race.
Slavery would seem to retard our advancement in both respects.
During the ten years from 1850 to 1860, the total population of our country increased about 37 per cent.
In 1790, there were seventeen States in the Union, and of those seventeen, eight are now slave States, and the following table of those States will show how the increase of slavery retards the advance of the whites:
|Free Whites.||Ratio of Increase.||Slaves.||Ratio of Increase.|
From these facts, it would seem that, in the two States in which slavery has decreased, the increase of the whites has been 55 and 56 per cent, exceeding the average ratio of increase in the whole nation. While in all the other States, where slavery has increased, none of them have come up to the average national ratio of increase, and in one of them, (South-Carolina,) the increase is not one quarter the national average.
In respect to South-Carolina, it is a remarkable fact that while she has now nearly four tunes as many slaves as she had in 1790, her whole population (slaves and all) is not three times what it then was, and her free population is only a little more than twice its number in 1790. In other words, while in seventy years her slave population has increased four-fold, her free population has only a little more than doubled.2
These facts teach their own lesson; but they compel all who value the Union and the peace of the nation, to ask how far they have had to do with the troubles of nullification and secession, which for thirty years have been plaguing us, and have now culminated in a terrible rebellion!
The great financial storm that swept over our country and Europe, in the 'fall of 1857,' overwhelming so many large and apparently staunch vessels, did not disdain to capsize and send to the bottom many smaller craft; my own among the number. She was not as heavily freighted (to continue for a moment the nautical metaphor) as some that sunk around her; but as she bore my all, it looked at first pretty much like a life-and-death business, especially the latter. For a time, all was horror and confusion; but as the wreck cleared away, I soon discovered that there would, at any rate, remain to me the consolation that others would not lose through my misfortunes; that the calamity, if such it were, would affect no one but myself. My own experience, and my observation of those around me, has led me, naturally enough, to ponder a good deal on the subject of reverses in life, and as no page of genuine experience can be considered wholly valueless, it may do no harm to record my own. Though many have undergone reverses, few, with the exception of ministers, ever seem to have written about them, a class of men who, whatever their other troubles, in these days of bronchitis and fastidious parishes, have usually been exempt from trials of this peculiar character.
Bishop Butler, in one of his sermons on Human Nature, alludes to a sect in philosophy, representing, I suppose, the 'selfish system,' one of whose ideas is that men are naturally pleased on hearing of the misfortunes of others. La Rochefoucauld expresses the same sentiment as his own. Couched in plain language, this appears to be a gloomy and heartless doctrine; but probably nothing more is meant than a refinement of the common adage, 'Misery loves company,' and that very good and benevolent persons, if themselves overtaken by misfortune, can not but feel some alleviation for their sorrows, in reflecting that others have trials equally great and that they are but partakers of a common though bitter lot. If there be really any consolation in reflections of this kind, history furnishes us many striking examples, and, as far as great changes in worldly condition are concerned, the prince and the plebeian, the emperor and the exile, have often found themselves for a time on the same level.
The wheel of fortune, in its revolutions, generally produces changes of two descriptions, either exalting the lowly or pulling down the great. In rarer instances, not satisfied with giving the individual a single turn, it grants him the benefit of a more varied experience. It carries the country-boy to wealth and power, and then transports him back to his native fields, whose pure air is not less wholesome, after all, than the heated atmosphere of the ball-room or caucus-chamber; or it may roll the wave of revolution over a kingdom, banishing the prince to wander an exile, perhaps a schoolmaster, in distant lands, to contend with poverty or duns, and then, on its receding tide, landing him once more safely on his throne. Frequent revolutions have, however, taught princes wisdom in this respect. Most of them now seem to be well provided for in foreign countries, beyond the reach of contingencies in their own, and if time is given them to escape with their lives, it is generally found that they have 'laid up treasure' where at any rate the thieves of the new dynasty can not 'break through and steal.' A very recent instance is afforded us by his majesty Faustin I., who, notwithstanding his confidence in the affection of his subjects, seems to have preferred taking the Bank of England as collateral security.
The first French Revolution probably affords as striking examples of change in worldly condition as any other period, and among those whom it affected for the time, few were more remarkable than two persons whom it sent to our own shores, Talleyrand and Chateaubriand. During the residence of the former in Philadelphia, he appears at one time to have been in the most abject poverty. We read of his pawning a watch and smaller articles, to provide himself and his companion with food; any care for their wardrobes, beyond the faded garments they were then wearing, being apparently out of the question. If one who then met the needy foreigner walking the wide streets of that respectable city, had predicted that in a few years this shabby Frenchman would be looked up to as the leader of the diplomacy of Europe, he might with perfect justice have been regarded as a fit subject for one of that city's excellent asylums. But a few years did witness this change, and saw him powerful and the possessor of millions; unfortunately for the Abbé's reputation, much of the latter being the wages of corruption.3
Chateaubriand speaks feelingly of the sufferings he and his companion underwent in London, about the same period. Lodged in a dismal garret, they were at one time obliged to economize their food almost as closely as the inhabitants of a beleaguered town. He speaks of walking the streets for hours together, utterly uncertain what to do, passing stately houses and groups of blooming English children, and then returning late at night to his attic, where his companion, 'trembling with cold,' would rise from his ill-clad bed to open the door for him. He strikingly contrasts his position then with his approach to London twenty years later, as ambassador from France, driving in coach-and-four through towns whose authorities came out to welcome him in the usual pompous manner, and, while in London, giving magnificent balls in one of the stately houses, and perhaps numbering among his guests some of the blooming children he had once passed, now expanded into full-blown and gorgeous flowers of aristocracy. These are, of course, uncommon instances; but they teach that the most brilliant present may have had the darkest past; that there is always ground for hope, and that the caprices of fortune, if we take no higher view of them, are mysterious enough.
The man who has been overtaken by reverses, need not look far abroad to see that a system of compensation is pretty generally dealt out in this life. Set him adrift in the world, with scarcely a dollar; let him walk, almost a beggar, through the same streets he once trod, a man of wealth, and it would be idle to assert that he will not be almost overwhelmed by the force of bitter recollections. In proportion as other days were happy, will these be miserable. As Dante has truly said, the memory of former joys, so far from affording relief to the wretched, serves only to embitter the present, as they feel that these joys have forever passed away. But unless his lot be one of unusual calamity, as time blunts the keenest edge of sorrow, he must be devoid of both philosophy and religion, if he does not feel that life with a mere competence still has many joys. It is unquestionably true that one's style of living has not much to do with the sum of his happiness, though this is said with no disposition to undervalue even the luxuries of life. So far from the finest houses in a city having the greatest air of comfort about them, I think rather the reverse is the case. No dwellings have a snugger look than many of the plain, two-story houses in all our cities; no children merrier than those that play around their doors; no manlier fathers than those that struggle bravely for their support. One would suppose that Stafford House, with its wealth of pictures and furniture, and its beautiful views over Hyde Park, must contain much to add to the pleasure of its possessors; but probably the sum of happiness enjoyed by this noble family has been very little increased by these things. I believe that palaces are more envied by 'outsiders' than enjoyed by their owners. In proportion to the number of each, probably far more of those dreadful tragedies that cast ineffaceable gloom over whole families, have occurred in these splendid houses than in plainer ones. Our Fifth Avenue, with all its grandeur, is one of the gloomiest looking streets in the world, as strangers generally remark. But as all preaching is vain against many a besetting sin, so will all the talking in the world do little to convince men that happiness does not lie in externals. One generation does not learn much from its predecessors in this respect; it seems to have been intended that each should acquire its own experience. The task of talking beforehand is therefore an unprofitable one; but it is a satisfaction to feel that when much that is thought indispensable has been taken from us, there still remains that which can afford us happiness.
It is easy to recall instances in which it seemed as if adversity was really required to bring out the noblest qualities in man, and enable him to set an example calculated to console and stimulate those who are treading the sometimes difficult path of duty. Portions of the diary of Scott, written during the last and most troubled years of his life, have for many a deeper interest than the most brilliant pages of his novels. In these days of 'compromise,' which seems to be too often the cant term for an eternal adieu to all previous obligations, no matter how just, and no matter what good fortune the future may have in reserve for the debtor, it is refreshing to read this record of perfect integrity and long-continued sacrifice. Though carried, in his case, to a point beyond the strictest requirements of honor, inasmuch as it involved the ruin of his health, the example is noble and strengthening. It may be said, on the other hand, that Scott was the possessor of a 'magic wand,' and did right in attempting what to other men would be impossible. Carlyle, if I remember his article, attributes Scott's conduct partly to worldly pride, and thinks he should have owned at once that he had made a great mistake, involving others in his ruin, and should have abandoned the tremendous struggle still to bear up under such a weight. This is a singular view of the matter, and one that a man of Scott's sense of honor never would have felt satisfied in taking. The lives of Scott and Charlotte Bronté are worth more than their novels, after all.
One of the minor evils of loss of fortune has, I think, been exaggerated, and that is the idea that persons are frequently slighted, sometimes even cut, by their fashionable acquaintances; and connected with this is the other idea, that what some sneeringly call 'fashionable society,' is generally more heartless than any other. For the honor of human nature, I am glad to believe that the first is not the case, nor does the second exactly stand to reason. In every city, there is a class of persons, moneyed or not as the case may be, who, living only for selfish enjoyment, pay court to those that can yield it to them, and are sometimes rude enough to slight those who can not. Whether the companionship of such persons is very desirable, or their loss much to be deplored, each man must decide for himself. Persons who, when rich themselves, have been overbearing to others, are perhaps those who notice most difference when misfortunes overtake them. What is called fashionable society, generally comprises a good deal of the education and refinement of a city; with a portion of what is hollow and worthless, it includes much that is substantial and true. Certainly, the finer and more delicate feelings of our nature, and those which lead us to sympathize with the unfortunate, are partly the result of education, and we should naturally expect to find these in the higher rather than in the humbler walks of life. There is a vast deal of genuine charity in humble life, and the poor of every city derive a large part of their support from those but moderately blessed with worldly goods themselves; but many a well-meaning man will unintentionally make a remark that wounds your feelings and makes you uncomfortable for hours afterwards, while a person whose perceptions and sympathies have been more nicely trained would spare you the infliction. A certain fortune is indispensable to those who wish to keep with the party-going world, and those who have not this competence can not indulge much in this more expensive mode of life; but that they are forgotten is not because persons wish to neglect them, but because men naturally forget those they are not often in the habit of meeting. Might not the aged, even if wealthy, say they are forgotten, excepting by their immediate connection? They are forgotten because, in the rush and turmoil of life, every thing is soon forgotten. The dead, who were beloved and honored while living, are soon comparatively forgotten beyond their families and familiar circle. This is not exactly owing to the heartlessness of men, but rather to the fact that their minds are occupied with the persons and things they see every day around them, and this is probably as much the case with the poor as with the rich; but it seems to have become a sort of custom to speak of the heartlessness of society. It is rather owing to the imperfection of our constitution. Loss of fortune renders us more sensitive, and we are apt to fancy slights where none were intended; but we may be pretty certain that the better men and women of society do not make money the index of their treatment of others.
Persons sometimes speak lightly and hastily of reverses sustained by others as mere trifles, compared with loss of friends. I hold that these persons are wrong, and believe that to many, and those not particularly selfish and narrow-minded people either, loss of fortune may prove a greater and more lasting sorrow than loss of dear friends; nay, that a great reverse, such as a plunge from prosperity into utter poverty, (and many such instances can be cited,) is perhaps the heaviest trial that can be imposed on man. Let any one call up the instances he has known of the tenderest ties being severed, and except in those rare cases we sometimes meet with of persons pining away and following the beloved object to the grave, do we not see the overwhelming grief gradually subsiding into a gentler sorrow, and, as was intended by a merciful providence, other objects closing in, and though not entirely filling up the void, still furnishing other sources of happiness? This happens with the best and tenderest beings on earth. The departed one is not forgotten, nor have the survivors ceased to mourn him; but their feelings now cling more affectionately than before to the remaining members of the circle. This is not so in the case of a reverse such as I have imagined, and many of us have seen. Where, as in the failure of some great bank or 'Life and Trust Company,' reckoned perfectly impregnable, the fortune of delicate ladies, always accustomed to luxury, has been swept away; where there are no relatives able or willing to render much assistance, and daughters have to seek employment that will give themselves and an aged mother a bare competence, with all my disposition to bear things bravely and philosophically, I contend that human nature can hardly be visited with a heavier trial. For men, it is comparatively easy; but there are instances, in every large city, of ladies, once wealthy, now reduced to a sort of genteel beggary, that a man would shrink from, but that women can not very well avoid. Fancy the bitterness of such a life; the constant memory of happier days contrasted with the present condition, which has no prospect of improvement; the keenness of present sorrow rendered more acute by education and refinement; the necessity not merely of economy, for most of us can bear a large portion of this pretty cheerfully; but the difficulty, with close economy, of supplying the decent comforts of life, and tell me, as some who have never been visited by any trial of this kind would tell me, if it is selfish and sordid to compare this lasting sorrow with that great ordinance of death and separation which all must share alike? Alas! these are objects not generally reached by charitable societies; but not less deserving, and subjected to trials no less hard than those whose lot has always been one of poverty.
Having admitted that, under some circumstances, the loss of property may occasion grief so deep and lasting as to make it worthy of comparison even with loss of dear friends, I would say, on the other hand, that instances often occur where no comparison can be made between the two evils. We hear sometimes of dreadful calamities at sea, where entire families are swept away; where, as on the 'Austria,' the only alternative is the mode of death, whether it shall be on the burning ship or beneath the cold, dark billow. What experience can be more awful, in the life of any man, than that which compelled this father to throw child after child into the sea, not with any hope of rescue, but merely to prolong for a few moments a life that could no longer be endured on the burning deck? Different, but scarcely less painful, the burial of hope in a father's breast, as in the death of the sons of Hallam. Industry may repair the wrecks of fortune; but the hopes and affections that have centered here must be laid aside forever.
Are there many of us, after all, who would care for a career of unbroken prosperity? Men of talent and worth have been crushed and hurried to their graves by the iron hand of poverty; but for one such, there have probably been ten who have passed through life with energies and talents never fully called forth; because easy circumstances have never demanded any great exertion from them. This leaves out a class larger probably in our country than in any other, of children of fortune, who have plunged headlong into ruin, finding an early and dishonored death, who, had they been compelled to work, would at least have acquitted themselves decently in life. Some of the most dreadful death-scenes on record are those of men who have had few earthly trials to bear, men of wealth, who have wrought their own ruin, and half of whose lives have been passed in efforts to work the ruin of the young and innocent of the other sex. If Chatterton and Otway are sad instances of genius subdued and crushed by adversity, Beckford and many others show where the too lavish gifts of fortune have perverted talent and rendered its possessor far worse than a merely useless member of society.
The world-wide Burns Celebration probably caused many humble men to think of the number of great minds who have been compelled to undergo this ordeal of poverty. How perfectly, in some instances, does the man's soul and intellect seem to have been separated from the man himself. It does seem a marvel that seventy years ago this man should have been in want and harassed by fears for the family he was to leave behind him, when now so many hundred thousand men seem ready to worship him. How many envy fame! and how proud men are, for generations afterward, who can trace back their descent to one who, while on earth, may have suffered all the annoyances and discomforts of penury! The poet seemed to know that he would be more highly esteemed after he had left the world than while he was in it; but did this thought really afford him much consolation, or would he have been willing, if possible, to sacrifice a more prosperous present for a great posthumous fame? How many great men have languished long years in dungeons, as some languish in them even now. How many have borne years of bodily infirmity. How many have died just as they seemed about to realize the fruit of years of preparation and exertion. These reflections tend to make us contented with a comparatively humble lot, as all great trials tend to lessen our undue attachment to life.
Finally, it occurs to me that very few men have lost fortunes, without spending too much time in unavailing regrets that they should have lost them just in the manner they did. If they had only avoided this or that particular investment, all would have been well. This is nonsense. Undoubtedly, a great deal of money is lost very foolishly, but though no fatalist, I do not believe that all the care and prudence in the world will materially alter the great Scriptural law, that the riches of this world will often take wings to themselves and flee away. There is far too much recklessness, far too much of what is called in business circles 'expansion;' but the time will never come, in our country, when generation after generation, in one family, will keep on in the path of success. Great fortunes will still melt away, and the shrewdest maxims of those who built them up will fail sometimes. Nothing can be considered certain in regard to worldly goods, beyond the fact that industry, good principles, and average capacity will always, in the long run, secure a competence; but wealth will still be the prize that only a few need expect to draw.
I have endeavored to call up a few of the reflections that may console a man under adversity, remembering that drooping fortunes may revive, that many of the noblest men have suffered the same privations, and remembering how much lighter this form of affliction generally is than some others that Providence often sees fit to lay upon us. Trite as it is, I can not help echoing the remark, how vastly the sum of human happiness would be increased, if men could only learn to prize more highly the blessings they have. Those of us who are in moderate circumstances find it so much easier to envy our rich neighbors than to think with gratitude of our happy lot, contrasted with the many thousand of our needier brethren. We enjoy so many blessings, that we become unmindful of them. We rarely think at all about our health, until a few days' sickness reminds us of the boon we have been enjoying so unconsciously. In the darkest days of the great crisis, accounts reached us every week from India, telling us that refined and delicately-reared English men and women were being brutally slaughtered or exposed to the loathsome horrors of a lingering siege. What a paradise the humblest cottage at home would have seemed to these poor creatures, though some of them had been accustomed to 'stately homes.'
How beautifully this sentiment of gratitude for the common blessings of life has been expressed by Emile Souvestre, one of the purest and noblest writers of our time, and one whose early history presents an instance of great obstacles and trials nobly met and overcome!
'If a little dry sand be all that is left us, may we not still make it blossom with the small joys we now trample under foot. Ah! if it be the will of God, let my labor be still more hard, my home less comfortable, my table more frugal; let me even assume a workman's blouse, and I can bear it all willingly and cheerfully, provided I can see the loved faces around me happy, provided I can feast upon their smiles and strengthen myself with their joy. O holy contentment with poverty! it is thy presence I invoke. Grant me the cheerful gayety of my wife, the free, unrestrained laughter of my children, and take in exchange, if necessary, all that is yet left me.'
When Dogberry brought Conrade before Leonato, the only offense he seems to have had a clear idea of, was the one against himself: 'Moreover, sir, this plaintiff here, the offender, did call me ass. I beseech you, let it be remembered in his punishment.' Shakspeare has, by this 'one touch of nature,' made Dogberry kin to the whole world. It would be the most terrible of punishments to run the gauntlet of a company, every one of which you had called an ass; whatever may have been the original offense, this would be the one most remembered in your punishment, I don't think it would be possible to believe any thing good of one who had given you this appellation; on the contrary, the reputed long ears would be worse than the famous 'diabolical trumpet' for collecting and distorting the merest whispers of evil against him who planted them, or discovered them peeping through the assumed lion's skin. Apollo's music probably sounded no sweeter to Midas after he received his 'wonderful ear.'
But my object in introducing Dogberry was not to give a dissertation on this greatest of insults, but to illustrate our selfishness. Our patience will bear great crimes against others, but how it gives way under the slightest insult to ourselves. Now I am not going to denounce selfishness; I'd as soon think of denouncing gravitation. There is, in the best of us, an under-current of selfishness; indeed, selfishness and unselfishness are convertible terms; this is a higher kind of that, as the upper-current of the ocean is but the under-current risen to the surface.
Saint James says: 'The love of money is the root of all evil.' I am not exactly prepared to agree with him; it is a great branch, almost the trunk; but I think selfishness is the root. You know Hahnemann thought all diseases but a modification of one disease—psora. However it may be with his theory, the one moral disease is not an itching palm. This is but a modification of selfishness, which is not merely cutaneous.
But the form it is supposed to take in the system of Yankees, is the above-named plebeian form. The supposition may be correct. Don't we most feel our national troubles, the shock of the great national earthquake, when it causes an upheaval from the depths of the pocket? If Uncle Sam's sentiments are, as they are supposed to be, only a concentration of those of the majority, isn't his lamentation over his run-away South, who has changed her name without his consent, that of Shylock: 'My daughter! Oh! my ducats!'? Though not exactly connected with this branch of selfishness, I may as well, while speaking of our national difficulties, mention what struck me very forcibly: It is said, that on the eminence from which the spectators of the Bull Run battle so precipitately fled, were found sandwiches and bottles of wine; and that these refreshments actually lined the road to Washington. From this might be inferred that 'to-day's dinner' not only 'subtends a larger visual angle than yesterday'srevolution,' but that it also subtends a larger angle than to-day's revolution. If one could ever forget one's own personal gratifications and comforts, it would be, I should think, in overlooking a nation's battle-field—our nation's battle-field. But it is not for a humble lay member, whose business it is to practice rather than preach, to criticise. Are not the honorable members representatives of the people; and when they are cheered and refreshed, are not the 'dear people' through them cheered and refreshed? Besides, they may have so reluctantly dropped the wine and sandwiches because they were loth to leave them to 'give aid and comfort to the enemy.' There are always envious people to rail at those above them; pawns on the world's chess-board, they pride themselves on their own straightforward course; but let them push their way to the highest row, how soon do they exchange this course for the 'crooked policy of the knight,' or jump over principles with queen, castle, or bishop! Woe to the poor pawn in their way.
How I have skipped! what connection can there be between members of Congress and crooked policy, or jumping over principles? yet there must have been a train of association that led me off the track; doubtless it was purely arbitrary. Well, we'll let it go; poor pawn as I am, I have but stepped aside to nab an idea.
But to return to the Yankee. The form which selfishness takes in his system is not that of the most intensified exclusiveness. You know the story of Rosicrucius' sepulcher, with its ever-burning lamp, guarded by an armor-encased, truncheon-armed statue, which statue, on the entrance of a man who accidentally discovered the sepulcher, arose, and at his advance, raised its truncheon and shivered the lamp to atoms, leaving the intruder in darkness. On examination, under the floor springs were found, connecting with others within the statue. Rosicrucius wished thus to inform the world that he had reïnvented the ever-burning lamp of the ancients, but meant that the world shouldn't profit by the information. Had a Yankee reïnvented those lamps, he would have got out a patent, and some brother Yankee would have improved upon it, and invented one warranted to burn 'forever and a day.' They would probably have thus raked together a great deal of the 'filthy lucre;' possibly this would have been their main object; but the world would have been benefited by them. All selfishness, to be sure, but exclusive selfishness benefits the world.
[Speaking of filthy lucre, I begin to see why those who have lost it all are said to be 'cleaned out.' But this is only par parenthèse.]
But exclusiveness is not peculiar to the Rosicrucians; there is too much of it in even the religious sects of this enlightened age; it is too much, 'Lord, bless me and my sect;' 'Lord, bless us, and no more.' There are self-constituted mountain-tops that would extract all the mercy and grace with which the winds come freighted from the great ocean of Love, so that they would pass over beyond them hot, dry winds of wrath. But I am glad that this is impossible; that in the moral world there are no Andes, no rainless regions.
I fear that I have not stuck very closely to the text furnished me by thick-headed, thick-tongued Dogberry.
Allow me to compress into closing sentences, a few general remarks.... Those lakes that have no outlet, grow salt and bitter; we all know the ennui and bitterness of those souls that receive many blessings, sending forth none; better drain your soul out for others, than have it become a Dead Sea.... Black, that absorbs all rays, reflecting none, is an anomaly in nature; it is true, but one earthly character has reflected all the rays of goodness, absorbing none, making the common light 'rich, like a lily in bloom;' yet every man can reflect at least one ray to gladden the earth.... It is not necessary, even in the cold atmosphere of this world, to become contractedly selfish; cold expands noble natures as it does water.... Lastly ...
Yours, MOLLY O'MOLLY.
The old trout knows enough to keep off the fisherman's hook; the squirrel never cracks an empty nut; the crow soon learns the harmlessness of the scarecrow. But man, though he may have twenty times wriggled off the hook, the patient angler catches him at last. He always cracks the empty shell, then cries: 'Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.' This cry he might be spared would he learn a lesson from the squirrel, who weighs his nuts and throws away the light, hollow shell.... And there are scarescrows, the harmlessness of which the human biped learns not in a a lifetime. How long is it since that horned, cloven-footed monster whom the monks made of Pan theos and called him Devil, was an object of fear? How 'the real, genuine, no mistake' (savin' his presence) must have laughed at his own effigy! Then there is Grim Death, too, a creation of the Dark Ages, for in no age of light could this horror have been ever conceived. Unlike the other, against him no exorcism avails.... As if the soul about to be launched on the dim sea Eternity, after all lights and forms of the loved shore have become indistinct, must be cut loose from her moorings by this phantom. The idea that 'Death comes to set us free,' would hardly make us 'meet him cheerily, as our true friend,' were this his real shape. But were I disposed to enumerate our scarecrows, the list would be incomplete; as there are doubtless many that I have not the shrewdness to recognize as such.
The only humbugs are not those that work on our fears. There are humbugs that work on our hopes. These have been likened to bubbles that dance on the wave, burst, and are no more. They are too often like bomb-shells, that in exploding scatter ruin on all around. They have also been named air-castles, chateaux en Espagne, 'baseless fabrics of a vision.' The baseless fabric of a vision is built of 'airy nothingness;' but men found on a wish, structures that tower to heaven, put real, solid material into them, and when they fall, as fall they must—I'll not attempt to give an idea of the utter desolation they leave, of thewaste place they make of the heart, lest you should think I have thus humbugged myself; for self-humbug it certainly is; and this is the most intensely human. Not a fish, or reptile, bird, or beast; not a thing crawling, swimming, flying, or walking, but the human creature, humbugs himself. 'Man was made to mourn,' I would change into, Man was made to be humbugged. It is better to be greatly gullible, than a 'cunning dog,' for gulled we will be. It is better to be caught at once, than to have our gills torn by wriggling off the hook the twenty times, to be caught at last. It is better to walk straight into the net than to fatigue ourselves by coming to it in a roundabout way. A Nova-Scotian once rallied a Down-Easter on the famous wooden hams. 'Yaas,' was the reply, 'and they say that one of you actilly ateone and didn't know the difference.' Well, it is better to swallow our humbugs, as the Nova-Scotian did the Connecticut-cured ham, without detecting any thing peculiar in their flavor, than it is to find our mistake at the first cut or saw. By the way, saltpeter is so needed for other purposes, that probably the Virginia cured will not now have as fine a flavor as formerly.
But, in the way: You dissent from some of these remarks? You've cut your eye-teeth, have you? Possibly you forget that trip in the cars, when you 'cutely passed by the swell in flashy waistcoat and galvanized jewelry, and took a seat by a 'plain blunt man' in snuff-color; and after he had left the cars at the first station, and the conductor came to you and demanded, 'Your ticket, sir!' you probably forgot how in fumbling for it in your pocket, you found it, but not your porte-monnaie. You perhaps set down in your mental memorandum, under the head of Appearances, not to be deceived by plain bluntness and snuff-color. There you were wrong; your boasted reason is of no avail in detecting humbugs; there is no such thing as classifying them. Then, too, we are in greater danger of being humbugged by another class of appearances.
In material things we are compelled to acknowledge that things the most reliable are the most unpretending. The star, by which the mariner has steered for ages, is not a 'bright particular star;' the needle of his compass is shaped from one of the baser metals, (though in a figurative sense gold is highly magnetic.) The inner bears such a relation to the outer, that the inner senses are named from the outer; we are slow to perceive that also all objects of the outer senses, are but types of those of the inner. You see how I have been obliged to borrow from the outer vocabulary. I give this idea, in a nebular state, trusting that you will consolidate it. Were we, in a figurative sense, to choose a guiding-star, it would be a comet, we are so taken with flash and show. A great truth, though angels heralded its birth, and a star were drawn from its orbit to stand over its cradle, if that cradle were a manger, we would reject it; if it assumed not the 'pomp and circumstance' of royalty, though it worked miracles, we would cry, Away with it. Eighteen hundred years have not completely transformed or transmuted the world; we are yet ready to reject the true, and be humbugged by the false. More than eighteen hundred and sixty-two years may yet elapse before the bells that 'ring out the old and ring in the new,' will 'ring out the false and ring in the true.' Then farewell humbug.
Yes, it is altogether probable that long before humbug is no more, you and I will—I was about to say be in the narrow house, but prefer an expression of Carlyle's—we will have 'vanished into infinite space.' I prefer this for the same reason that one of Hood's characters was thankful that 'Heaven was boundless.' She it was whom the physician pronounced 'dying by inches.' 'Only think,' exclaimed the consternatedhusband, 'how long she will be dying!' I suppose to the poor man Grim Death appeared to hold in his skeleton fingers, instead of an hour-glass, a twenty-year glass.
That the sands of his glass may, for you, married or single, neither run too fast nor too slow, is sincerely the wish of
Old friends and dear! it were ungentle rhyme,
If I should question of your true hearts, whether
Ye have forgotten that far, pleasant time,
The good old time when we were all together.
Our limbs were lusty and our souls sublime;
We never heeded cold and winter weather,
Nor sun nor travel, in that cheery time,
The brave old time when we were all together.
Pleasant it was to tread the mountain thyme;
Sweet was the pure and piny mountain ether,
And pleasant all; but this was in the time,
The good old time when we were all together.
Since then I've strayed through many a fitful clime,
(Tossed on the wind of fortune like a feather,)
And chanced with rare good fellows in my time;
But ne'er the time that we have known together:
But none like those brave hearts, (for now I climb
Gray hills alone, or thread the lonely heather,)
That walked beside me in the ancient time,
The good old time when we were all together.
Long since, we parted in our careless prime,
Like summer birds no June shall hasten hither;
No more to meet as in that merry time,
The sweet spring-time that shone on all together.
Some to the fevered city's toil and grime,
And some o'er distant seas, and some—ah! whither?
Nay, we shall never meet as in the time,
The dear old time when we were all together.
And some—above their heads, in wind and rime,
Year after year, the grasses wave and wither;
Ay, we shall meet!—'tis but a little time,
And all shall lie with folded hands together.
And if, beyond the sphere of doubt and crime,
Lie purer lands—ah! let our steps be thither;
That, done with earthly change and earthly time,
In God's good time we may be all together.
Alone in the world! alone in the great city of Paris, a world in itself! alone, and with scarcely a livre in my purse!
Such were my reflections as I turned away from the now empty house, in which for two-and-twenty years I had dwelt with my poor, wasteful, uncalculating father. My father was a scholar of most stupendous attainments, particularly in Oriental literature, but a perfect child in all that related to the ordinary affairs of life. Absorbed in his studies, he let his pecuniary matters take care of themselves. Consequently, when death suddenly laid him low, and deprived me of my only friend and protector, his affairs were found to be in a state of inextricable confusion. His effects, including the noble library of Eastern lore which it had been the labor of his life to collect, were seized, and sold to pay his debts, and were found insufficient.
My mother had died when I was a child, and my father had educated me himself, pouring into my young and eager mind the treasures of knowledge he possessed. I was—I say it without boasting—a prodigy of learning; but in all that relates to domestic economy, as well as to the ordinary attainments of woman, I was as ignorant as my father himself.
I lingered in the house until the sale was over and the last cart-load of goods had been removed. Then I repaired to a wretched garret in the Rue du Temple, where I had found a refuge, and where I designed to remain until such time as I could, by the exercise of my talents, replenish my purse and procure a better lodging. Here I sat down, took a calm survey of my position, and questioned myself as to what employment I was fit for.
Of the usual feminine accomplishments, I possessed none. I could neither draw nor paint; I could not play a note of music on any instrument; I could sing, it is true, but knew nothing of the science of vocal music; I did not know a word of Spanish, or Italian, or German, or English; even with the literature of France I was but little acquainted; but I could read the cuneiform characters of Babylon and Persepolis as readily as you read this page, while Sanscrit, Hebrew, Arabic, Syriac, and Chaldaic, flowed from my tongue as freely as a nursery rhyme. As an instructress of young ladies, therefore, I could not hope to find a livelihood, but as an assistant to some learned man or body of men, I knew that my attainments would be invaluable.
Full of hope, therefore, and with a cheerful heart, I set about obtaining a situation.
Hearing that the Oriental department of the Bibliothèque du Roi was about to undergo some alterations, and that an assistant librarian was wanted to reärrange and re-catalogue the books, I applied at once for the situation. I was closely examined as to my qualifications, and much surprise manifested at the proficiency I had attained in these unwonted studies; but my application was refused, because—I was a woman.
I next answered by letter the advertisement of a distinguished savant who was about to undertake the translation of the Sacred Vedas, and was in want of an amanuensis. To this I received the following reply:
'MADEMOISELLE: If your attainments in Sanscrit are such as you represent them, I am convinced that you would exactly suit me, were you a young man. But I am a bachelor; there is not a single female in my establishment; your sex, therefore, renders it impossible for me to employ you as my amanuensis.'
My sex again! Discouraged, but not daunted, I applied successively to the Société Asiatique, to the librarian of the Institute, and to three or four private individuals of more or less note. From all of them I received the same answer—the situation was not open to women.
Meantime the few francs I had had at my father's death vanished, one by one. The woman from whom I hired my room became clamorous for the rent. I had a few superfluous articles of clothing. I disposed of them at the Mont-de-Piété, and thus kept the wolf from the door a little longer. When they were all gone, what should I do?
I persevered in my quest for employment. It was all in vain. Many people added insults to their harsh refusal of my application, accusing me of being an impostor; for who ever heard, said they, of a young girl like me being acquainted with these abstruse studies! Day after day, week after week, I plodded on through the mire and dirt, for it was winter, the weeping winter of Paris, and the obscure and narrow streets (traversed by a filthy kennel in the center, and destitute of sidewalks) through which my researches led me, were in a dreadful condition. And evermore the question recurred to me, What shall I do?
As day after day passed, and still no opening appeared, I thought of the river, rolling darkly through the heart of the city, in whose silent tide so many a poor unfortunate has sought a refuge from present misery. One day, as in the course of my peregrinations I passed the Morgue, I saw the dead body of a young woman which had been taken that morning from the river, and laid out for recognition by her friends. As I looked on her livid, bloated face, her drenched and tattered garments, her long dark hair hanging in dank matted masses, and streaming over the edge of the table on which she lay, my heart was moved with pity. Yet I half envied her position, and might have followed her example, but for my belief in a future state. Her body was free from every mortal ill, but her poor soul, where was it?
But besides, looking at it from a merely human point of view, there is in my nature a certain stern and rugged resolution, a sort of 'never-give-up' feeling, which induces me to hope and struggle on, and leads me to think, with the great Napoleon, that suicide is the act of a coward, since it is an attempt to fly from those evils which God has laid upon us, rather than to bear them with a brave, enduring trust in Providence.
Still, as I passed by the river, spanned by its noble bridges, and covered with those innumerable barges in which the washerwomen of Paris ply their unceasing trade, eating, sleeping, and living constantly in their floating dwellings, I would think, with a shudder, that unless relief soon arrived, I must choose between its silent waters and a lingering death by starvation.
True, there are in Paris many employments open to women, but what was that to me? Could I stand behind a counter and set forth with a glib tongue the merits of ribbons and laces; or bend over the rich embroidered robe of the fashionable lady; or even, like those poor washerwomen, earn my scanty livelihood by arduous manual labor? I knew nothing of business; I knew nothing of embroidery; and I had neither the strength nor the capital necessary to set up the establishment of ablanchicheuse.
I had returned home, one evening, after another weary tramp. As I looked from my lofty attic, and saw Paris glittering with her million lights, I said to myself: 'Must I perish of hunger in these streets? Must I starve in the midst of that abundance which might be mine but for the fact that I am a woman? No! I shall abjure my sex, and in the semblance of themselves, win from men that subsistence which they deny to a woman.'
The thought was no sooner conceived than executed. Tearing off part of my woman's attire, I threw around me an old cloak of my father's, which now served as a coverlet to my lowly bed, and descended the long flights of stairs to the street. Determined to have legal sanction for what I was about to do, I went straight to the Prefecture of Police. It was not yet very late, and the Prefect was still in his bureau. I entered his presence, told him my story, and demanded permission to put on male attire, and assume a masculine name, in order to obtain the means of subsistence. He heard me respectfully, treated me kindly, and advised me to ponder well before I took a step so unusual and unseemly. But I was firm. Seeing my determination, he granted me a written permission.
Early next morning I took what remained of my feminine wardrobe and hastened to the Marché de Vieux Linge, (old clothes market,) which was not far distant from my place of abode. Built on the site of the ancient Temple, the princely residence of the Knights Templar of old, and in later times the prison of Louis XVI. previous to his execution—this vast market, with its eighteen hundred and eighty-eight stalls, hung with the cast-off garments of both sexes, and of every age, condition and clime, presents the appearance of a miniature city. Men's apparel, women's apparel, garments for children of all sizes, boots and shoes, hats and bonnets, tawdry finery of every description, sheets and blankets, carpets, tattered and stained, military accouterments, swords and belts, harness, old pots and kettles, and innumerable other articles, attract attention in the different stalls. There, on every side, sharp-faced and shrill-voiced dealers haggle with timid customers over garments more or less decayed. There the adroit thief finds a ready market for the various articles he has procured from chamber and entry, or purloined from the pockets of the unwary. There the petted lady's maid disposes of the rich robe which her careless mistress has given her, and the Parisian grisette, with the money her nimble fingers have earned, purchases it to adorn her neat and pretty form for the Bal paré et masqué, to which her lover takes her, at Belleville or Montmartre. In yonder stall hangs a tattered coat which once belonged to a marquis, but has gone through so many hands since then, and accumulated so much dirt and grease in the process, that one wonders how the dealer would have ventured to advance the few sous which its last wretched owner had raised upon it.
In this place I exchanged, without much difficulty, my female habiliments for a suit of respectable masculine attire. I took it home, and with a feeling of shame of which I could not get rid, but yet with unflinching resolution, arrayed myself in it. As a woman I know I am not handsome; my mouth is large and my skin dark; but this rather favored my disguise; for had I been very pretty, my beardless face and weak voice might have awakened more suspicion. I cut my hair off short, parted it at one side, brushed it with great care, and crowned it with a jaunty cap, which, I must say, was very becoming to me. In this dress I appeared a tolerably well-looking youth of nineteen or thereabout, for the change of garments made me look younger than I was.
As I surveyed myself in the little cracked looking-glass which served me as a mirror, I could not forbear laughing at the transformation. Certainly no one would have recognized me, for I could scarcely recognize myself.
Folding the old cloak around me, I sallied forth. With the long, thick braid of hair I had cut from my head, I purchased a breakfast, the best I had eaten in a long time.
Then I went direct to the residence of the gentleman who had said I would suit him exactly, if I were a young man. There had been something in the tone of this gentleman's letter that attracted me, I could not tell why. To my great joy, he had not yet found the person he wanted; and after a short conversation he engaged me, at what seemed to me a princely salary.
He told me laughingly that a young woman had applied for the situation a short time previous; and seemed very much amused at the circumstance.
My employer was a man already past his prime. His hair was slightly sprinkled with gray, and his form showed that tendency to fullness so frequently found in persons of sedentary habits. But in his fine, thoughtful eyes, and expansive brow, one saw evidence of that noble intellect for which he was distinguished, while his beaming smile and pleasant voice showed a genial and benevolent heart. The kindness of his voice and manner went straight to my lonely and desolate heart, and affected me so much that I almost disgraced my manhood by bursting into tears.
He occupied a modest but commodious house in the Quartier Latin. His domestic affairs were administered by a respectable-looking elderly man, who performed the part of cook, to his own honor and the entire satisfaction of his master; while a smart but mischievous imp of a boy ran of errands, tended the fires, swept the rooms, and kept old Dominique in a continual fret, by his tricks and his short-comings.
Here, in the well-furnished library of my new master, with every convenience for annotation and elucidation, the translation of the Vedas was commenced. Like my father, my employer was possessed of vast erudition; but, unlike him, he was also a man of the world, high in favor at court, wealthy, honored, and enjoying the friendship of all the most noted savans and other celebrities of the metropolis. During the progress of the work some of these would occasionally enter the study where I sat writing almost incessantly, and I saw more than one to whom I had applied in the days of my misery, and been rejected. But happily no one recognized me.
My kind master expressed great astonishment at my proficiency in Sanscrit, and frequently declared my services to be invaluable to him. I was sometimes able to render a passage which he had given up as intractable; and he more than once asserted that my name should appear on the title-page as well as his own. My name? Alas! I had no name.
My master frequently chid me for my unceasing devotion to my work; and would sometimes playfully come behind, as I sat writing, snatch the manuscript from my desk, and substitute in its place some new and popular book, or some time-honored French classic, to which he would command me to give my whole attention for the next two hours, on pain of his displeasure.
His kindness to me knew no bounds. He ordered Dominique and the boy Jean to treat me with as much respect as himself. He took me with him to the Oriental lectures of the Bibliothèque du Roi. He procured for me the entrée to the discussions of several literary and scientific bodies, and afforded me every facility for the improvement of my mind and the development of my powers. He introduced me to all that was noblest and best in the great aristocracy of intellect, and constantly spoke of me as a young man of great promise, who would one day be heard of in the world.
He used to rally me on my studious habits, and often expressed surprise that a young man of my years should not seek the society of his compeers, and especially of that other sex, to which the heart of youth usually turns with an irresistible, magnet-like attraction. Little did he dream that the person he addressed belonged to that very sex of which he spoke.
One day he startled me by saying: 'What pretty hair you have, Eugene; it is as soft and fine as that of a young girl.'
The conscious blush rushed to my face, for I thought he had surely discovered my secret; but one glance at his calm countenance reassured me. In his large, open, honest heart there never entered a suspicion of the 'base deception' that had been practiced upon him.
He did not notice my emotion, and I answered, in as calm a voice as I could command: 'My mother had fine, soft hair; I have inherited it from her.'
Thus passed a year, the happiest I had ever known. My master became kinder and more affectionate every day. He would often address me as 'mon fils,' and seemed indeed to regard me with feelings as warm as those of a father to a son.
And I—what were my sentiments toward this good and noble man who was so kind to me? I worshiped him; he was every thing to me. Father and mother were gone, sisters and brothers I had none, other friends I had never known. My master was all the world to me. To serve him was all I lived for. To love him, though with a love that could never be known, never be returned, was enough for me.
I have said that I was happy; but there was one drawback to my happiness. It lay in the self-reproach I felt for the deception practiced on my benefactor. Many times I resolved to resume my woman's garments, (a suit of which I always kept by me, safe under lock and key,) fall at his feet, and confess all. But the fear that he would spurn me, the certainty that he would drive me from his presence, restrained me. I could not exist under his displeasure; I could not endure life away from him.
Although he was, of course, unconscious of the intensity of the feeling with which I regarded him, he knew—for I did not conceal it—that I was much attached to him; and I was aware that I, or rather Eugene, was very dear to him. On one occasion, as we sat together in the study, he said to me, abruptly:
'How old are you, Eugene?'
'Twenty-two,' I answered.
He sat silent for some moments; then he said:
'If I had married in my early years, I might have had a son as old as you. Take my advice, Eugene, marry early; form family ties; then your old age will not be lonely as mine is.'
'O my dear master!' cried I, safe under my disguise, 'no son could love you as dearly as I do. A son would leave you to win a place for himself in the world; but your faithful Eugene will cling to you through life; he only asks to remain with you always—always.'
'My good Eugene!' said my master, grasping my hand warmly, 'your words make me happy. I am a lonely man, and the affection which you, a stranger youth, entertain for me, fills me with profound and heart-felt joy.'
Ah! then my trembling heart asked itself the question: 'What would he think if he knew that it was a young girl who felt for him this pure and tender affection?' Something whispered me that he would be rather pleased than otherwise, and a wild temptation seized me to tell him all—but I could not—I could not.
As my labors approached their completion, a gloomy feeling of dread oppressed me. I feared that when the Vedas were finished my master would no longer require my services. But he relieved my fears by reëngaging me, and expressing a desire to retain me as his secretary until I became too famous and too proud to fill the office contentedly.
Scarcely was this cause of dread removed when another, more terrible still, overtook me.
One evening he took me with him to a literary reünion, at which every bel-espritof the capital was to be present. At first I refused to go, for I feared that the eyes of some of my own sex might penetrate my disguise; but he seemed so much hurt at my refusal that I was forced to withdraw it. The soirée was a very brilliant one. But little notice was taken of the shy, awkward, silent youth, who glided from room to room, hovering ever near the spot where his beloved, master stood or sat, in conversation with the gifted of both sexes. How I envied the ladies whose hands he touched, and to whom his polite attentions were addressed. For, as I have said, my master was a man of the world, wealthy and distinguished; and notwithstanding his advanced years, ladies still courted his attentions.
There was one lady in particular, who spared no pains to attract him to herself. She was the widow of a celebrated litterateurand was herself well known as a brilliant but shallow writer. She was not young, but she was well-preserved, and owed much to the arts of the toilet. I saw her lavishing her smiles and blandishments on my dear master; I saw that he was not insensible to the power of her charms, artificial as they were; and a cruel jealousy fastened, like the vulture of Prometheus, on my vitals.
Could I but have entered the lists with her on equal ground; could I but have appeared before him in my own proper person, arrayed in appropriate and maidenly costume, I felt sure of gaining the victory, for I had youth on my side; I had already an interest in his heart; but, alas! I could not do this without first announcing myself as an impostor, as a liar and deceiver, to the man whose good opinion I prized above all earthly things.
A dreadful thought now rested on my mind day and night: What if this woman should accomplish her designs? What if my master should marry her? What would then become of me?
But I was spared this trial.
The translation was finished; it was in the hands of the publisher; and the proof-sheets had been carefully revised, partly by my master, partly by myself. He had insisted on putting my name with his own on the title-page; but I refused my consent with a pertinacity which he could not comprehend, and which came nearer making him angry than any thing that had ever transpired between us.
One day, as I sat in the library, I saw my master come home, accompanied by two gentlemen. He did not, as was his custom with his intimates, bring them into the library, but received them in the little used reception-room. They remained some time.
When they left, my master came into the library, rubbing his hands and looking exceedingly well-pleased. But at sight of me, his countenance fell. He approached me, and in a tone of regret, said:
'My poor Eugene! we must part.'
Part? It seemed as if the sun was suddenly blotted from the heavens.
I started up, and looked at him with a face so white and terror-stricken that he came up to me and laid his hand kindly on my shoulder.
'My poor Eugene!' he repeated, 'it is too true—we must part.'
I tried to speak. 'Part!' I cried. 'O my master—'
Tears and sobs choked my utterance, in spite of all my efforts to restrain them. I sat down again, and gave free vent to my irrepressible grief.
My master was much affected by the sight of my emotion; and for some minutes the silence was unbroken, save by my heart-wrung sobs.
'Nay, Eugene, this is womanish; bear it like a man,' said he, wiping the tears from his own eyes. 'Most gladly would I spare you this sorrow; most gladly retain you near me; but in this matter I am powerless. I have received an appointment from government, to travel in Northern Asia, in order to study the dialects of that vast region. Every individual who is to accompany me has been officially specified, and there is no place left for my poor Eugene.'
'O my dear, dear master!' cried I, with clasped hands and streaming eyes, 'take me with you—I shall die if you, leave me—put me in the place of some one else.'
'Impossible,' said he. 'The government has filled up every place with its own creatures—except,' he added, with a faint smile, 'that they have left provision for my wife—if married. I would I had the wand of an enchanter, Eugene, that I might transform you to a woman, and make you my wife.'
His wife! his wife! Had I heard the words aright? I sprang to my feet. I tried to say, 'I am a woman—I will be your wife!' but my tongue refused its utterance—there was a rushing sound in my ears—I grasped the air wildly—I heard my master cry, 'Eugene! Eugene!' as he rushed forward to support me, and the next moment I lost consciousness.
* * * * *
When I recovered my senses, I was still in the arms of my master. He had borne me to the window, and torn open my vest and shirt-collar. I looked up in his face. One glance revealed to me that my secret was discovered.
Blushing and trembling, I tried to raise myself from his arms; but he held me fast.
'Eugene,' said he, in earnest tones, 'tell me the truth. Are you indeed a woman?'
'I am. My name is Eugenie D——, O my dear master! forgive the deception I have practiced. Do not despise me.'
'Eugenie!' cried he, in joyful accents, 'you shall go with me to the East! You shall go as my wife! Vive I' Empereur!
'But wherefore this disguise?' he added.
I told him my story in few words; and informed him that I was that veryyoung woman who had applied to him for the office I now held.
'Is it possible?' exclaimed he. 'But, Eugenie, tell me—do you really love me as you have so often protested you did?'
'Yes, my dear master,' I whispered.
'Vive l' Empereur!' cried he again; 'but for his strictness I should never have found it out. Now go; array yourself in your woman's gear, and let me see you as you really are.'
I went; and resumed, with a pleasure I can not describe, the garments I had for a whole year forsworn.
When I returned, my master caught me to his heart, and thanked Heaven for the 'charming wife' so unexpectedly sent him.
There was an indefinable charm, to a lively man like Caper, in spending a day in the open country around Rome. Whether it was passed, gun in hand, near the Solfatara, trying to shoot snipe and woodcock, or, with paint-box and stool, seated under a large white cotton umbrella, sketching in the valley of Poussin or out on the Via Appia, that day was invariably marked down to be remembered.
On one of those golden February mornings, when the pretty English girls tramp through the long grass of the Villa Borghese, gathering the perfumed violets into those modest little bouquets, that peep out from their setting of green leaves, like faith struggling with jealousy, Caper, Rocjean, and a good-natured German, named Von Bluhmen, made an excursion out in the Campagna.
They hired a one-horse vetturo in the piazza di Spagna, and packing in their sketching materials and a basket well filled with luncheon and bottles of red wine, started off, soon reaching the Saint Sebastian gate. Further on, they passed the tomb of Cecilia Metella, and saw streaming over the Campagna the Roman hunt-hounds, twenty couples, making straight tails after a red fox, while a score of well-mounted horsemen—here and there a red coat and white breeches—came riding furiously after. Along the road-side were handsome open carriages, filled with wit and beauty, talent and petticoats; and bright were the blue eyes, and red the healthy cheeks of the English girls, as they saw how well their countrymen and lovers led off the chase. Englishmen havegood legs.
Continuing along the Appian way, either side of which was bordered by tombs crumbling to decay; some of them covered with nature's lace, the graceful ivy, others with only a pile of turf above them, others with shattered column and mutilated statue at their base—the occupants of the vetturo were silent. They saw before them the wide plain, shut in on the horizon by high mountains, with snow-covered peaks and sides, while they were living in the warmth of an American June morning; the breeze that swept over them was gentle and exhilarating; in the long grass waving by the way-side, they heard the shrill cries of the cicadas; while the clouds, driven along the wide reach of heaven, assuming fantastic forms, and in changing light and shadow mantling the distant mountains, gave our trio a rare chance to study cloud-effects to great advantage.
'I say, driver, what's your name?' asked Rocjean of the vetturino.
'Cæsar, padrone mio,' answered the man.
'Are you descended from the celebrated Julius?' asked Caper, laughing.
'Yes, sir, my grandfather's name was Julius.'
'"That every like is not the same, O Cæsar!
The heart of Brutus yearns to think upon,"
soliloquized Caper; and as by this time they had reached a place where both he and Rocjean thought a fine view of the ruined aqueduct might be taken, they ordered the driver to stop, and taking out their sketching materials, sent him back to Rome, telling him to come out for them about four o'clock, when they would be ready to return.
While they were yet in the road, there came along a very large countryman, mounted on a very small jackass; he was sitting side-saddle fashion, one leg crossed over the other, the lower leg nearly touching the ground; one hand held a pipe to his mouth, while the other held an olive branch, by no means an emblem of peace to the jackass, who twitched one long ear and then the other, in expectation of a momentary visit from it on either side of his head. Following, at a dutiful distance behind, came a splendid specimen of a Roman peasant-woman, a true contadina: poised on her head was a very large round basket, from over the edge of which sundry chickens' heads and cocks' feathers arose, and while Caper was looking at the basket, he saw two tiny little arms stuck up suddenly above the chickens, and then heard a faint squall—it was her baby. An instantaneous desire seized Caper to make a rough sketch of the family group, and hailing the man, he asked him for a light to his cigar. The jackass was stopped by pulling his left ear—the ears answering for reins—and after giving a light, the man was going on, when Caper, taking a scudo from his pocket, told him that if he would let him make a sketch of himself, wife, and jackass, he would give it to him, telling him also that he would not detain them over an hour.
'If you'll give me a buona mano besides the scudo, I'll do it,' he answered.
The buona mano is the ignis fatuus that leads on three fourths of the Italians; it is the bright spark that wakes them up to exertion. No matter what the fixed price for doing any thing may be, there must always be a something undefined ahead of it, to crown the work when accomplished. It makes labor a lottery; it makes even sawing wood a species of gambling. Caper promised a buona mano.
The man told his wife that the Signore was to make a ritratto, a picture of them all, including the jackass, at which she laughed heartily, showing a splendid set of brilliantly white teeth. A finer type of woman it would be hard to find, for she was tall, straight, with magnificent bust and broad hips. Her hair, thick and black, was drawn back from her forehead like a Chinese, and was confined behind her head with two long silver pins, the heads representing flowers; heavy, crescent-shaped, gold earrings hung from her ears; around her full throat circled two strings of red coral beads. Her boddice of crimson cloth was met by the well-filled out-folds of her white linen shirt, the sleeves of which fell from her shoulders below her elbows, in full, graceful folds; her skirt was of heavy white woolen stuff, while her blue apron, of the same material, had three broad stripes of golden yellow, one near the top and the other two near each other at the bottom; the folds of the apron were few, and fell in heavy, regular lines. A full, liquid-brown pair of eyes gazed calmly on the painter, as she stood beside her husband, easily, gracefully; without a sign from the artist, taking a position that the most studied care could not have improved.
'Benissimo!' cried Caper, 'the position couldn't be better;' and seizing his sketch-book and pencils, unfolding his umbrella and planting its spiked end in the ground, and arranging his sketching-stool, he was in five minutes hard at work. As soon as he could draw the basket, he told the woman she might take it from her head and put it on the ground, for he believed the weight must incommode her. This done, she resumed her position, and Caper, working with all his might, had his sketch sufficiently finished before the hour was over to tell his group that it was finished, at the same time handing the man a scudo and a handsome buona mano.
Rocjean and Von Bluhmen, who had assiduously looked on, now and then joking with the contadino and his wife, proposed, after the sketch was finished, that Caper should ask his friends to help them finish their luncheon; this was joyously agreed to, and the party, having left the road and found a pleasant spot, under a group of ilex-trees, were soon busy finishing the eatables. It was refreshing to see how the handsomecontadina emptied glass after glass of red wine. The husband did his share of drinking; but his wife eclipsed him. Having learned from Caper that his first name was Giacomo, she shouted forth a rondinella, making up the words as she went along, and in it gave a ludicrous account of Giacomo, the artist, who took a jackass's portrait, herself and husband holding him, and the baby squalling in harmony. This met with an embarrassment of success, and amid the applause of Rocjean, Caper, and Von Bluhmen, the contadino, wife, and baggage departed. She, however, told Caper where she lived in the Campagna, and that she had a beautiful little sister, whose ritratta he should take, if he would come to see her.
[It is needless to inform the reader that he went.]
Lighting cigars, Rocjean and Caper declared they must have a siesta, even if they had to doze on their stools, for neither of them ever could accustom himself to the Roman fashion of throwing one's self on the ground, and sleeping with their faces to the earth. Von Bluhmen, a fiery amateur of sketching, walked off to take a 'near view' of the aqueduct, and the two artists were left to repose.
'I say, Caper, does it ever come into your head to people all this broad Campagna with old Romans?' asked Rocjean.
'Yes, all the time. Do you know that when I am out here, and stumble over the door-way of an old Roman tomb, or find one of those thousand caves in the tufa rock, I often have a curious feeling that from out that tomb or cave will stalk forth in broad daylight some old Roman centurion or senator, in flowing robe.'
'Do you ever think,' asked Rocjean, 'of those seventy thousand poor devils of Jews who helped build the Coliseum and the Arch of Titus? Do you ever reflect over the millions of slaves who worked for these same poetical, flowing-robed, old senators and centurions?Ma foi! for a Republic, you men of the United States have a finished education for any thing but republicans. The great world-long struggle of a few to crush and destroy the many, you learn profoundly; you know in all its glittering cruelty and horror the entire history, and you weave from it no god-like moral. Nothing astonished me more, during my residence in the United States, than this same lack of drawing from the experience of ages the deduction that you were the only really blessed and happy nation in the world. Your educated men know less of the history of their own country, and feel less its sublime teachings, than any other race of men in the world. The instruction your young men receive at school and college, in what way does it prepare them to become men fit for a republic?'
'You are preaching a sermon,' said Caper.
'I am reciting the text; the sermon will be preached by the god of battles to the roar of cannons and the crack of rifles, and I hope you'll profit by it after you hear it.'
'Well,' interrupted Caper, 'what do you think of the English?'
'For a practical people, they are the greatest fools on the earth. Thoroughly convinced at heart that they have noesprit, they rush in to show the world that they have a superabundance of it.... It interferes with their principles, no matter; it touches their pockets, behold it is gone, and the cold, flat, dead reality stares you in the face.'
'You are a Frenchman, Rocjean, and you do them injustice. Had Shakspeare no esprit?' asked Caper.
'Shakspeare was a Frenchman,' replied Rocjean.
'Prove to me that he was not?'
'Prove to me that he was!'
'Certainly. The family of Jacques Pierre was as certainly French as Raimond de Rocjean's. Jacques Pierre became Shakspeare at once, on emigrating to England, and the 'Immortal Williams,' recognizing the advantages to a poor man of living in a country where only the guineas dance, took up his abode there and made the music for the money to jump into his pockets.'
'Very ingenious. But in relation to Byron, Shelley, Keats, Tennyson, and—as we are in Italy—Rogers?'
'Mon ami, if you seriously prefer ice-cream and trifle to venison and dindon aux truffes, choose. If either one of the four poets—I do not include Rogers among poets—ever conceived in his mind, and then produced on paper, a work, composed from his memory, of things terrible in nature, more sublime than Dante's Inferno, I will grant you that he had esprit and imagination; otherwise, not. It is of the English as a nation, however, that I make my broad and sweeping assertion, one that was fixed in my mind yesterday, when I saw a well-dressed and well-educatedEnglishman deliberately pick up a stone, knock off the head of a figure carved on a sarcophagus, found in one of those newly-discovered tombs on the Via Latina, and put the broken head in his pocket.... What man, with one grain of esprit or imagination in his head, would mutilate a work of ancient art, solely that he might possess a piece of stone, when memory had already placed the entire work forever in his mind. Basta! enough. Look at the effect of the sunlight on the Albanian mountains. How proudly Mount Gennaro towers over the desolate Campagna! Hallo! Von Bluhmen down there is in trouble. Come along.'
Throwing down his umbrella, under which he had been sitting in the shade, Rocjean grasped the iron-pointed shaft, into which the handle of the umbrella fitted, and, accompanied by Caper, rushed to the rescue of the German. It was none too soon. While sketching, a shepherd, with a very large flock of sheep, had gradually approached nearer and nearer the spot where the artist was sitting at his task; his dogs, eight or ten in number, fierce, shaggy, white and black beasts, with slouching gait and pointed ears and noses, followed near him. As Von Bluhmen paid no attention to them, the shepherd had wandered off; but one or two of his dogs hung back, and the artist, dropping a pencil, suddenly stooped to pick it up, when one of the savage creatures, thinking or 'instincting' that a stone was coming at him, rushed in, with loud barking, to make mince-meat of the German noble. He seized his camp-stool, and kept the dog at bay; but in a moment the whole pack were down on him. Just at this instant, in rushed Rocjean, staff in hand, beating the beasts right and left, and shouting to the shepherd, who was but a short distance off, to call off his dogs. But the pecorajo, evidently a cross-grained fellow, only blackguarded the artists, until Rocjean, whose blood was up, swore if he did not call them off, he would shoot them, pulling a revolver from his pocket and aiming at the most savage dog as he spoke. The shepherd only blackguarded him the more, and, just as the dog grabbed him by the pantaloons, Rocjean pulled the trigger, and with foaming jaws and blood pouring from his mouth, the dog fell dead at his feet. The shot scared the other dogs, who fled, tails under. The shepherd ran for the entrance of a cave, and came out in a minute with a single-barreled gun: coming down to within twenty feet of Rocjean, he cocked it, and taking aim, screamed out: 'Give me ten scudi for that dog, or I fire.'
'Do you see that pistol?' said Rocjean to the shepherd, while he held up his revolver, 'I have five loads in it yet.' And then advancing straight toward him, with death in his eyes, he told him to throw down his gun, or he was a dead man.... Down fell the gun. Rocjean picked it up. 'To-morrow,' said he, 'inquire of the chief of police in Rome for this gun and for the tenscudi!'
They were never called for.
'You see,' said Caper, as, shortly after this little excitement, the one-horse vetturo, bearing Cæsar and his fortunes, hove in sight, and they entered and returned to Rome; 'you see how charming it is to sketch on the Campagna.'
'Very,' replied Von Bluhmen; 'but, my dear Rocjean, how long were you in America?'
'Main Gott! they were not wasted.'
It is not at all astonishing that a god who was born to the tune of Jove's thunderbolts, should have escaped scot-free from the thunders of the Vatican, and should prove at the present time one of the strongest opponents to the latter kind of fire-works. We read, in the work of that learned Jesuit, Galtruchius, that—
'Bacchus was usually painted with a mitre upon his head, an ornament proper to Women. He never had other Priests but Satyrs and Women; because the latter had followed him in great Companies in his Journeys, crying, singing, and dancing continually. Titus Livius relates a strange story of the Festivals of Bacchus in Rome. Three times in a year, the Women of all qualities met in a Grove called Simila, and there acted all sorts of Villainies; those that appeared most reserved were sacrificed to Bacchus; and that the cries of the ravished Creatures might not be heard, they did howl, sing, and run up and down with lighted Torches.'
The May and October Festivals in Rome, at present, are substituted for the Bacchanalian orgies, and are, of course, not so objectionable, in many particulars, as the ancient ceremonies; still, no stranger in Rome, at these times, should neglect to attend them. Caper entered Rome at night, during the October festival, and the carriage-loads of Roman women, waving torches and singing tipsily, forcibly reminded him that the Bacchante still lived, and only needed a very little encouragement to revive their ancient rites in full.
Sentimental travelers tell you that the Romans are a temperate people—they have never seen the people. They have never seen the delight that reigns in the heart of the plebs, when they learn that the vintage has been good, and that good wine will be sold in Rome for three or four cents la foglietta, (about a pint, American measure.) They have never visited the spacii di vini, the wine-shops; they have never heard of the murders committed when the wine was in and the wit out. None of these things ever appear in the Giornale di Roma or in the Vero Amico delPopolo, the only newspapers published in Rome.
'Roman newspapers,' said an intelligent Roman to Caper, 'were invented to conceal the news.'
The first thing that a foreigner does on entering Rome is to originate a derogatory name for the juice of the grape native to the soil, the vino nostrale. He calls it, if red wine, red ink, pink cider, red tea; if white wine, balm of gooseberries, blood of turnips, apple-juice, alum-water, and slops for babes; finally ... if not killed off with a fever, from drinking the adulterated foreign wines, spirits, and liqueurs sold in the city, he takes kindly to the Roman wines, and does not worry his great soul about them.
The truth is, that while other nations have done every thing to improve wine-making, Italy follows the same careless way she has done for centuries. Far more attention was bestowed on the grape, too, in ancient times than now; and we read that vineyards were so much cultivated, to the neglect of agriculture, that, under Domitian, an edict forbade the planting of any new vineyards in Italy.
One brilliant morning, in October, Caper, who was then living in a town perched atop of a conical mountain, descended five or six miles on foot, and passed a day in a vineyard, in order to see the vintage. The vines were trained on trees or on sticks of cane, and the peasant-girls and women were busy picking the great bunches of white or purple grapes, which were thrown into copper conche or jars; these conche, when filled, were carried on the head to a central spot where they were emptied on fern leaves, placed on the ground to receive them. And from these piles, the wooden barrels of the mules returning from the town were filled with the grapes which were carried up there to be pressed.
The grape-crop had been so affected by the malattia or blight, that the yield being small, the fruit to an extent was not pressed in the vineyards, and the juice only brought up to the town in goat-skins as usual; but the fruit itself was carried up, by those having the proper places, and was pressed in tubs in the cantine or rooms on the ground-floor, where the wine is kept. Across the huge saddles of the mules, they swung a couple of truncated cone-shaped barrels, and filled them with grapes; these were tumbled into tubs, ranged in the cantina, good, bad and indifferent fruit all together; and when enough were poured in, in jumped thepistatore d'uve or grape-presser, with bare legs and feet, and began pressing and stamping, until the juice ran out in a tolerable stream. This juice was then poured into a headless hogshead, and when more than half-full, they piled on the grapeskins and stones and stems that had undergone the pressure, until the hogshead was full to the top. A weight was then placed over all. In twenty days, fermentation having taken place, they drew from the hogshead the new wine, which was afterward clarified with whites of eggs.
In this rough-and-ready way, the common wine is made. Without selection, all grapes, ripe, unripe, and rotten, sweet and sour, are mashed up together, hurriedly and imperfectly pressed, and the wine is sent to market, to sell for what it will bring. Having thus seen it made, let us see it disposed of.
Of all the monuments to Bacchus, in Rome, the one near the pyramid of Caius Cestius, and still nearer the Protestant burying-ground, is by far the most noticeable. Jealous of the lofty manner in which it lifts its head above the surrounding fields and walls of the city, the church has seen fit to crown its head with a cross, which it seems inclined to shake off. This small mountain of a monument is conical in shape, and is composed entirely of broken crockery; hence its name, Testaccio. In its crockery sides, they have found a certain coolness and evenness of temperature exactly suited to the storage of wine, and to maturing it; hence, all around the mountain are deep vaults, filled with red and white wines, working themselves up for a fit state to enter into the joy and the gullets of the Roman minenti.
If the reader of this sketch is at all of a philosophical frame of mind, and should ever visit Rome, it is the writer's advice that, in the first place, having learned Italian enough, and in the second place, having his purse fairly filled—silver will do—he should, during the month of October, on a holyday, go out to Monte Testaccio alone, or at least in company with some one who knows enough to let him he alone when he wants to be with somebody else, and then and there fraternizing for a few hours with the Roman plebs, let him at his ease see what he shall see. Then shall he sit him down at the door of theAntica Osteria di Cappanone, at the rough wood table, on a rougher wooden bench; talk right and left, with tailors, shoemakers, artists, soldiers, and God knows what, drinking the cool, amber-colored wine of Monte Rotonda, gleaming brightly in the sunlight that dashes through his glass, and so cheerfully winning the good-will of them all—and of some of the young women who are with them—that he shall find himself at some future time either the sheath for a Roman knife, or the recipient of a great deal of affection, and the purchaser of indefinite bottiglie of vino nostrale.
In his ardent pursuit of natural art, Caper believed it his duty to hunt up the picturesque wherever it could be found, and it was while pursuing this duty, in company with Rocjean, that he found himself at Monte Testaccio, one October day, and there made his débût. After a luncheon of raw ham, bread, cheese, sausage, and a bottiglia of wine, they ascended the mountain, and sitting down at the foot of the cross, they quietly smoked and communed with nature unreservedly.
Crumbling old walls of Rome that lay below them; wild, uncultivated Campagna; purple range of mountains, snow-tipped; thousand-legged, ruined aqueducts; distant sea, but faintly revealed through the vail of haze-bounded horizon; yellow Tiber, flowing along crumbling banks; dome of St. Peter's, rising above the hill that shuts the Vatican from sight; pyramid of Caius Cestius; Protestant burying-ground, with the wind sighing through the trees a lullaby over the graves of Shelley and Keats; distant view of Rome, slumbering artistically, and not manufacturingly, in the sunlight of that morning—ye taught one man of the two wild hopes for Rome of the future.
At the foot of the mountain, and adjoining the Protestant burying-ground, there is a powder-magazine. Here a French soldier, acting as sentry, paced his weary round. It was not long before a couple of Roman women passed him. They saluted him; he saluted them. They passed behind the magazine. The sentry, with the courtesy which distinguishes Frenchmen, evidently desired to make his compliments and pay his addresses to the dames. How could this be done? Before long, two of his compatriots, evidently out for a holiday, passed him. He beckoned to one of them, who at once took his gun and turned sentry, while the relieved guard flew to display to thedames his national courtesy. Before Caper had time to smoke a second cigar, the soldier returned to duty, and the one who had relieved him sprung to pay his addresses. During the two hours that Caper and Rocjean studied the scenery, guard was relieved four times.
'Ah!' said Rocjean, 'we are a gallant nation. Let us therefore descend and mingle with what the high-minded John Bulls call 'the lower orders.''
Down they went, and at the first table they came to, they found their shoemaker, the Signore Eugenio Calzolajo, artist in leather, seated with three Roman women. They all resembled each other like three pins. The eldest one held a baby, the caro bambino, in her arms; she was probably twenty years old. The next one was not over eighteen; while the youngest had evidently not passed her sixteenth year.
The artist in leather saluted Caper and Rocjean with the title of Illustrissimi, (they both paid their bills punctually,) and, as he saw that the other tables were full, he at once made room for them, introducing them to his wife and her two sisters. Caper, who saw that the party had just arrived, and had not as yet had time to order any thing from the waiters, told them that the day being his birthday, it was customary among the North-American Indians always to celebrate it with a feast of roast dogs and bottled porter; but, as neither of these articles were to be found at Monte Testaccio, he should command what they had; and arresting a waiter, he ordered such a supply of food and wine, that the eyes of the three Roman girls opened wide as owls'. Their tongues were all unloosened at once, as if by magic, and Caper had the satisfaction of seeing that for what a bottle of Hotel Champaigne costs in the United States, he had provided joy unadulterated, and happy memories for many days, for several descendants of the Caesars.
While the wine circulated freely, the eldest, of the unmarried girls, named Eliza, began joking Caper about his being a heretic and 'a little devil,' and asked him to take off his hat, to see if he had horns. Caper told her he was as yet unmarried, ... and that among the Indians, bachelors were never allowed to take their hats off before maidens. 'But,' said he, 'what makes you think I am a heretic? Wasn't I at Saint Peter's yesterday, and at the confessionals?'
'Yes, you were at them like an old German gentleman I once knew,' said Eliza. 'Some of his friends saw him one morning at the German confessional-box, and knowing that he was a heretic, asked him what he was doing there? 'Diavolo!' said he, 'can't a man have a comfortable mouthful of German, without changing religions?''
'For my part,' said Rita, the youngest sister, 'I only go to confessional, because I have to, and I only confess what I want to.'
'Bravo!' exclaimed Rocjean, 'I mustpaint your portrait.'
'Benissimo! and who will paint mine?' asked Eliza.
'I will,' said Caper, 'but on condition that you let me keep a copy of it.'....
Arrangements completed, Rocjean ordered more wine; and then the artist in leather ordered more; then Caper's turn came. After this, the party—which had been gradually growing jolly and jollier, would have danced, had they not all had a holy horror of the prison of San Angelo. The married sister, Dominica, was a full-bloodedTrasteverina, in her gala dress, and had one of those beautiful-shaped heads that Caper could only compare to a quail's; her jet-black hair, smoothed close to her head, was gathered in a large roll that fell low on her neck behind, and held by a silver spadina or pin, that, if occasion demanded, would make a serviceable stiletto; her full face was brown, while the red blood shone through her cheeks, and her lips were full and ripe. Her eyes of deep gray, shaded with long black lashes, sparkled with light when she was aroused. Her sisters resembled her strikingly, except Rita, the youngest, whose face was of that singularly delicate hue of white, the color of the magnolia-flower, as one of our American writers has it; or like the white of a boiled egg next to the yolk, as Caper expressed it. Be this as it may, there was something very attractive in this pallor, since it was accompanied by anembonpoint indicating any thing but romantic meagerness of constitution.
Dominica had, without exaggeration, the value of a dozen or two pairs of patent-leather boots hung on her neck, arms, fingers, ears, and bosom, in the shape of furious-sized pieces of gold jewelry; and it was solid gold. The Roman women, from the earliest days—from the time when Etruscan artists made those ponderous chains and bracelets down to this present date—have had the most unbridled love for jewelry. Do we not know4 that—
|Sabina's garters were worth||$200,000|
|Calpurina's (Cæsar's wife) earrings, 'above suspicion'||1,200,000|
And after this, is it at all astonishing that the desire remains for it, even if the substance has been plundered and carried off by those forestieri, the Huns, Vandals, Goths, Visigoths, Norsemen, and other heretics who have visited Rome?
While they were all busily drinking and talking, Caper had noticed that the wine was beginning to have its effects on the large crowd who had assembled at the Osterias and Trattorias around the foot of the Bacchic mountain. Laughing and talking, shouting and singing, began to be in the ascendant, and gravity was voted indecent.
'Ha!' said Rocjean, 'for one hour of the good old classic days!'
'What!' answered Caper, 'with those seventy thousand old Jews you were preaching about the other day?'
'Never!—with the Bacchante. But here our friends are off: let us help them into the carriage.'
As the sun went down, the minentibegan to crowd toward Rome. More than one spadina flashed in the hands of the slightly-tight maidens who were on foot. Those of the men who had carriages, foreseeing the inflammable spirit aroused, packed the women in by themselves, gave them lighted torches, and cut them adrift, to float down the Corso; they following in separate carriages.
* * * * *
'Ah! really, and pray, Mrs. Jobson, don't you think that it's—ah! a beautiful sight; they tell me—ah! it's the peasants returning from visiting the shrine of the—ah! Madonna—ah?'
'And I think it is most charming, Mister Lushington; and I remember me now that Lady Fanny Errol, poor thing, said it would be a charming sight. And the poor creatures seem much happier than our own lower orders; they do, to be sure.'
* * * * *
'O Lord!' groaned Caper, as he overheard the above dialogue, 'allow me to retire.'
As an animal-painter, Mr. Caper was continually hunting up materials for sketches. He made excursions into the Campagna, to see the long-horned gray oxen and the hideous buffaloes; watching the latter along the yellow Tiber, when, in the spring-time, they coquetted in the mud and water. He sketched goats and sheep, tended by the picturesquely-dressed shepherds and guarded by the fierce dogs that continually encircled them. In four words, he studied animal-ated nature.
On his first arrival in Rome, he had purchased one of those sprightly littlevetturo dogs, all wool and tail, that the traveler remarks mounted on top of the traveling carriages that enter and leave Rome. With a firm foothold, they stand on the very top of all the baggage that may be piled on the roof of the coach; and there, standing guard and barking fiercely, seem to thoroughly enjoy the confusion attendant on starting the horses or unloading the baggage. They are seen around the carriage-stands where public hacks are hired, and as soon as one moves off, up jumps the vetturo dog alongside the driver, and never leaves the vehicle until it stops; then, if he sees another hack returning to the city, he will jump into that, and be carried back triumphant. This sounds like fiction; but its truth will be confirmed by any one who has ever noticed the peculiarities of this breed of dogs, which love to ride.
Caper kept this dog in his studio, and had already made several very life-like studies of him. One morning, leaving his lodgings earlier than usual, he met on the stairway of his house a countryman driving a goat up-stairs to be milked; the Romans thus having good evidence that when they buy goat's milk, they don't purchase water from the fountains. As Caper was going out of the door that led into the street, he saw among the flock of goats assembled there, a patriarchal old Billy, whose beard struck him with delight. He was looking at him in silent veneration, when the goats'-milk man came down-stairs, driving the ewe before him. He asked the man if he would sell the patriarch; but found that he would not. He promised, however, to lend him to Caper until the next day, for a good round sum, to be paid when the goat was delivered at the studio, which the man said would be in the course of an hour.
Our artist then went down to the Greco, where he breakfasted; and there met Rocjean, who proposed to him to go that morning to the Piazza Navona, as it was market-day, and they would have a fine chance to take notes of the country-people, their costumes, etc. They first went around to Caper's studio, where they had only to wait a short time before the milk-man came, driving the old Billy-goat up-stairs before him. Caper made him fast with a cord to a heavy table, the top of which was a vast receptacle of sketch-books, oil-colors, books, and all kinds of odds and ends.
Rocjean and he then strolled down to the Piazza Navona, where, while walking around, Caper suddenly stumbled over the smallest and most comical specimen of a donkey he had ever seen. The man who owned him, and who had brought in a load of vegetables on the donkey's back, offered to sell him very cheap. The temptation was great, and our animal artist bought him at once for five scudi, alias dollars; but with the understanding that the countryman would deliver him at his studio at once. In twenty minutes' time, the donkey was climbing up a long flight of stairs to Caper's studio, as seriously as if he were crossing the pons asinorum. Once in his studio, Caper soon made arrangements to have the donkey kept in a stable near by, when he was not sketching him. This matter finished, Rocjean helped Caper pen him up in a corner of the studio, where he could begin sketching him as soon as he had finished portraying the billy-goat. The patriarch had made several attempts to rush at the vetturo-dog; but the string held him fast to the table. Rocjean mentioned to Caper that he ought to feed his menagerie, and the porter being called and sent out for some food for the goat and donkey, soon returned with a full supply.
Both artists now set to work in earnest; Caper with paints and brushes, and Rocjean with crayons and sketch-book, determined to take the patriarch's portrait while he was in a peaceful frame of body and spirit.
With an intermission for luncheon, they worked until nearly four o'clock in the afternoon, when Rocjean proposed taking a walk out to the Villa Borghese, and as they returned, on their way to dinner, they could stop in at the studio, and see that the donkey and goat were driven out to the stable, where they could be kept until wanted again. Accordingly, both artists walked out to the villa, and had only taken a short turn toward the Casino, when they met a New-York friend of theirs, alone in a carriage, taking a ride. He ordered the driver to stop, and begged them both to get in with him, and after passing through the villa and around the Pincio, to come and take dinner with him sociably in his rooms in the Via Frattina. They accepted; and at ten o'clock that night, while going home in a very happy frame of mind, it suddenly occurred to Caper that his menagerie ought to have been attended to. Rocjean consoled him with the reflection that, having the key in his pocket, they could not possibly get out; so the former thought no more about it.
Early in the morning, having met as usual at the Greco, and breakfasted together, Caper and Rocjean walked round to the former's studio. Before they entered the door of the building, they noticed a small assembly of old women surrounding the porter, and as Caper entered the passage-way, they poured a broadside into him.
'Accidente, Signore, nobody around here has been able to sleep a wink all night long. Santa Maria! such yells have come from your studio, such groans, such horrible noises, as if all the devils had broken loose. We are going to the police; we are going to thegendarmeria; we are going to—'
'Go there—and be hanged!' shouted Caper, breaking through the crowd, and running up-stairs two steps at a time, he nearly walked into the lap of a tall female model, named Giacinta, dressed in Ciociara costume, who was calmly seated on the stair-case, glaring at another female model, named Nina, who stood leaning against the door of his studio.
'Signor Giacomo, good morning!' said Giacinta, 'didn't you tell me to be here at nine o'clock?'
'To be sure I did,' replied he.
'Then,' continued she, 'what is that person there taking the bread out of my mouth for? Cospetto!'
'Iddio giusto!' cried Nina, 'hear her; she calls me, ME, a person! I who have a watch and chain, and wear a hooped petticoat! I take the bread out of her mouth. I a person! I'm a lady, per Bacco!'
'Tace!' said Rocjean to Nina, 'or the Signore Giacomo will send you flying. What do you want, Nina?'
'I only wanted to see if the Signore intended to paint the Lady Godeeva, that he told me about the other day.'
'Wait till I open the studio-door, and get out of this noise. Those old women down below, and you young ones up here, are howling like a lot of hyenas. Here, come in!' ... As Caper said this, he unlocked the studio-door and threw it open; the two models were close at his elbows, while Rocjean drew to one side to let them pass in.
In the next minute, Caper, the two models, a he-goat, a dirty little donkey, and a yelping dog, were rolling head over heels down-stairs, one confused mass of petticoats and animals.
Rocjean roared with laughter; he could do nothing but hold his sides, fearful of having an apopletic fit or bursting a blood-vessel.
The small donkey slid down-stairs on his back, slowly, gradually, meekly; his long ears rubbing the way before him. But the billy-goat was on his feet in an instant, and was charging, next thing, full force into the knot of old women at the foot of the stairs, who, believing that their last hour had come, and that it was old Nick in person, yelled out,' 'Tis he; the devil! the devil!' and fled before the horns to come.
Giacinta was the first one on her legs, and after picking up the caro Giacomo,alias Caper, and finding he was not hurt, she then good-naturedly helped Nina to arrange her tumbled garments.
Rocjean rushed to open the studio-windows, to air the room, for it had not the odors of the Spice Islands in it. Caper hastened to pick up paints, brushes, books, easel; but they were too many for him, and at last, giving it up in despair, he sat down on a chair.
'Well!' said he, 'there has been a HARD fight here! The dog must have tackled the billy-goat; the goat must have upset this table, broken his string, and pitched into that dirty little donkey; and the donkey must have put his heels through that canvas; and all three must have broken loose and upset us ... I say, Rocjean, send out for some wine; I am dry, and these girls are, I know.'
Peace was soon made. Nina was promised that she should sit for Lady Godiva, as soon as the donkey was caught; for she was to be represented seated on him instead of a horse. Giacinta poséd for a contadina at a fountain. Rocjean passed round the wine, and helped put the studio in order; and Caper, brush in hand, painted away, determining that under any circumstances, he never would open another menagerie, until he was able to pay a keeper to look after the animals.
Our fathers, when the race was young,
And therefore some say better,
With fresh simplicity, believed
In Dryad, Faun, and Satyr.
The Zephyrs breathéd throughout the air,
And when the scene was fitting,
The Naiads combed their golden hair,
Beside the waters sitting.
And we ourselves in childhood loved
A faith so sweet as this is;
We felt the touch of rose-leaf palms,
And almost felt their kisses:
We tracked them through the shadowy grass,
Or when the evening glistened,
We lay in wait to see them pass,
And to their singing listened.
The hawthorn stretches wide its arms,
And all the woods are fragrant,
But Fancy walks in high-heeled shoes,
And is no more a vagrant.
No Satyrs from the greenwood peer,
No more we see at gloaming,
The Naiads sit, their golden hair
Beside the waters combing.
Alas! our early faith is cold,
And all things are so real!
Now, grown too wise, we shut our eyes,
And laugh at the ideal.
The charméd dusk still settles down
Upon the happy prairies;
But twilight's chiefest charm is flown,
For where are now the fairies?
The late misunderstanding between this country and Great Britain, relative to Mason and Slidell, elicited a free expression of opinion from the statesmen of the mother country, as to the contest now proceeding in this country; and while we regretted to witness so many proofs of the prejudice and jealousy which seem to hold possession of the minds of our transatlantic cousins, we were gratified by the heroic and brilliant defense of our cause by one so eminent in intellectual and moral qualities as JOHN BRIGHT. The boldness and vigor of his efforts to dispel the hostility of his compatriots toward America, and the masterly ability with which he disarmed the weapons of our opponents, elicited the respect of our people and have made his name one of veneration among them. His position in our favor, amid the many discouragements which beset him, justifies an attempt to lay before our readers an account of his career and character, which, we doubt not, they will be interested to hear.
John Bright, Member of Parliament for the great city of Birmingham, is the son of respectable Quaker parents, and was born at Greenbank, near Rochdale, in the year 1811. His family being largely interested in the cotton manufacture, he was bred to a participation in this employment, and is now the senior member of an extensive and enterprising firm, in company with his brothers. It is hardly to be expected that one whose early youth had been devoted to the restricted sphere of a counting-room, would be remarkable for an extensive knowledge of men and events, liberal opinions, freshness of intellect, and vigorous brilliancy of declamation; and yet Mr. Bright has always manifested superiority in these qualities. Known, while occupied exclusively in the details of his proper avocation, for skill, promptness, and enterprise, he has also been distinguished, since his sphere of usefulness has been extended to the national councils, for the scope and accuracy of his general information, the comprehensiveness of his mind, the richness of his imagination, and the effective energy of his eloquence. He early manifested an interest in politics, which was intensified by the agitation of questions nearly affecting his own business interests. The celebrated Anti-Corn-Law League, which was instituted in the time of Lord Melbourne's ministry, by some eminent Whigs, for the purpose of opposing the tariff erected by the corn-laws, excited his enthusiastic coöperation, and afforded him an early opportunity of entering political life. The enlightened ideas of the Reformers had already effected a glorious renovation in the machinery of the government; and the regeneration of the commercial system was next to be accomplished, by a successful resistance to the selfish restrictions imposed upon trade by the landed proprietors. In such a cause, John Bright embarked in his twenty-seventh year; and his subsequent career has been a consistent adherence to the same views which marked his entrance into public notice. He espoused with ardor the principles avowed by the League, and leaving the management of his private interests in the hands of the junior members of the firm, began to discuss them publicly, with great force and effect. The League soon perceived the valuable acquisition they had made in the young Quaker, and not only encouraged him to exertion but gave him opportunities to appear before many important assemblages. On the list of orators whom the League commissioned to go into the agricultural districts to advocate their cause, Mr. Bright's name soon became prominent. By the irresistible cogency and energetic expression which characterized his speech before many thousands in Drury Lane Theatre, his reputation became national, and printed copies being distributed throughout England, a desire to hear him on the important question of the day became every where manifest. He went about among the farmers and gentry, instilling with ability the principles of free trade, developing arguments with telling effect, and rapidly organizing branches of the League throughout the kingdom. The distrust of the lower classes, which was awakened in some degree against the nobles and nabobs who sustained the League, did not operate against him, who, as a man directly from the people, educated in the stern school of labor, and as the daily witness of and sympathizer with the suffering of the poor, at once elicited their confidence in his honesty and their respect for his intellectual power. Political advantage, which might be sought by life-long politicians and hereditary nobles, could, they well knew, offer no inducement to nor corrupt the ingenuous principles of one who showed so little respect to party distinction, and who was entirely independent of great connections.
The statesmen with whom he acted, in favor of free trade, were unwilling to be without so valuable an ally on the floor of the House of Commons; and, in April, 1843, he was placed in nomination by his numerous friends at Durham, for the seat to which that city was entitled.
On the first trial, he was defeated; but a new election for the same city becoming necessary in the following July, he was returned, by a gratifying majority, to represent a place noted for its conservative proclivities. He continued the member for Durham until 1847.
His first efforts, after entering Parliament, were directed to the repeal of the Corn-Laws, in which beneficent measure he coöperated with such men as Charles P. Villiers, brother of Lord Clarendon, Lord Morpeth, now Earl of Carlisle, Lord John Russell, and his friend, Mr. Richard Cobden. Sir Robert Peel, who was at that time Prime Minister, had always adhered to the protective doctrines of Pitt and Wellington; and it was mainly due to the clear and cogent reasoning of Bright and his associates, that the illustrious statesman at the head of the Treasury finally yielded, with a magnanimity never surpassed in the annals of ministerial history, to the enlightened policy of free trade in respect to corn. The distress which had for years resulted from the stringent enactments of Lord Liverpool's government to the lower class, was, by this patriotic sacrifice of the first minister, done away with; and not least among those who contributed to the accomplishment of so auspicious a result, we must reckon the subject of this sketch. The Tory party, headed by such chiefs as Wellington and Lyndhurst, in the Lords, and Stanley and Disraeli, in the Commons, made a stern and pertinacious resistance to the repeal; and no one was more feared by the intellectual giants of that party than was Bright. His severe wit, his plain, blunt manner of exposing the defects of his opponents, and his impulsive and overwhelming declamation, were hardly exceeded by the fluent exuberance of Stanley and the keen sarcasm of the Hebrew novelist, Disraeli.
While he generally acted with the party of which Lord Russell and Lord Landsdowne were the chiefs, he did not place himself supinely under the dictation of the caucus-room. Professing to be bound by the precepts of no faction, acting frequently with the conservatives, although oftener with the liberals, independent of ministerial control, and disdaining to attain power by the sacrifice of any principle, he was excluded from a participation in the government, when those with whom he in general sympathized succeeded to the administration in 1846. He early adopted ultra-liberal views, and has always been known as the advocate of universal suffrage, the separation of Church and State, and the diminution of the influence of hereditary nobles; and although he could not but be aware that many of his doctrines were repugnant to those of his auditors, and a majority of his countrymen, he has not hesitated to uphold and express them with great perseverance and ingenuousness.
Had he lived in the days of Russell and Sidney, he had perhaps shared their fate, and paid the penalty of unpopular politics on the scaffold. That bold spirit which he has ever manifested, exciting his great talents in the advocacy of repugnant theories, would not have feared the restraints which a ruder age encouraged despotic kings to put upon freedom of political action. Luckily, he has been living in an age which respects independent thought and proscribes the conscience of no man. While he is certainly premature in his theories of equality, the tendency of popular feeling is toward him rather than from him. Tory policy to-day was Whig policy a century ago. Walpole would have sustained the younger Pitt, and Derby and Lyndhurst will hardly dispute the benefits of the reform of 1832.
Mr. Bright was returned to Parliament for Manchester, in 1847, and again in 1852. This great town, which is the market for Rochdale, and consequently in which he was well known, sent him to the Commons by a handsome majority of eleven hundred. In the early session of 1857, Mr. Cobden introduced a motion condemning the war into which the administration had entered with China, on which the government was defeated. Mr. Bright, though absent on account of ill-health, used his influence in favor of the motion, by reason of which, on the appeal of Lord Palmerston to the country, during the summer of that year, he was defeated in his constituency by over five thousand votes; his successful opponent, though agreeing with him in general, being a supporter of the Chinese war.
In 1859, he was reinstated in Parliament, by the electors of Birmingham, of whose manufacturing interests he had always shown himself a consistent and ardent friend. For this constituency he is now member. He has been twice married; first, to the daughter of Jonathan Priestley, Esq., of Newcastle-on-Tyne, who died in 1841; and secondly, to his present wife, the eldest daughter of W. Leatham, Esq., of Wakefield, York.
His career of nineteen years in the House of Commons has been a series of successful efforts, not only contributing to his lasting fame as an orator and legislator, but achieving many important modifications in the commercial system and in public sentiment. He has been the life of the radical party, leading them on in their crusades against existing abuses with fearless audacity, encouraging them to renewed contests, animating them by the hopefulness and enthusiasm of his own soul, and by his lucid logic attracting new converts to his views with every year. The Radicals who, when he entered Parliament, were a mere handful, are already assuming, under the vigorous lead of Bright, Cobden, and Villiers, the proportions of a systematic and powerful element in the lower house. Caring little for the impotent sneers of an aristocracy in its dotage, and mindful only to advance systems of popular improvement and alleviation, he has become a nucleus around which has gathered the extreme wing of the liberal party. The last century beheld the profligate Wilkes and the shallow Burdett at the head of the ultraists; our own time is more fortunate in superseding vicious and unprincipled radical leaders by men more virtuous and ingenuous. The great manufacturing towns and districts, composed mainly of the lower orders of society, and devoted to the interests of commerce, as opposed to the narrow demands of the agricultural interest, have, owing in a great degree to Mr. Bright's exertions, become pillars of his party. Lord Palmerston, than whom a more sagacious politician does not or has not existed, testified his knowledge of the influence of the Bright party, by offering Mr. Cobden a seat in the Cabinet, and afterward by sending him as special agent of England to negotiate a commercial treaty with France.
John Bright has always shown himself a staunch friend to the prosperity of the United States. Whenever an opportunity offered in which to propose this country as an example worthy of the imitation of his own countrymen, he has never failed to urge the superiority of our system. His political ideas, approaching to republicanism, and abhorring the dominance of hereditary aristocrats, and a political Church, have found their theories realized in the admirable machinery of our own government. Untainted with that jealous prejudice which appears to animate many of his fellow-citizens, he can discern, and is ready to acknowledge, the superior efficacy of the principles which underlie our Constitution. No one has, of late, been more earnest in denunciation of the irritating policy of Great Britain toward America, than Mr. Bright.
His personal appearance is that of a hearty, good-natured, and yet determined Englishman, and both his form and face betoken the John Bull as much as any member of the House. His morals are of a high order, his honesty proverbial, his courage undoubted, his social character amiable, and calculated to make him welcome to every circle. It is said, that although opposed in the extreme to the political doctrines of Lord Derby, his personal relations with that aristocratic nobleman are not only friendly, but intimate; and that, after abusing one another lustily at Westminster, they retire together arm in arm, chatting and laughing as familiarly as if there never had been the least difference of opinion between them. Like Fox, in this particular, he never allows his partisan views to interfere with his social relations; and although he is a fierce and bitter antagonist on the benches of Parliament, no one is a more constant or a more zealous friend in private life. His efforts have always been enlisted in behalf of the education of the masses; conceiving that this is the foundation of a thoroughly popular political system, such as he is desirous to introduce into the British Constitution. Bred among a timid and peaceful sect, his opposition to wars has been determined and earnest; and he was one of those who, in 1854, sent a deputation to the Emperor Nicholas to urge an abandonment of his war policy, and the maintenance of peace, as the duty of a Christian race. He is, however, rather fitted to be a reformer and agitator than a statesman. He has all that enthusiasm, all that energy, all that courage, all that stubborn perseverance in the pursuit of his purpose, which distinguish the characters of those men who have conducted the great revolutions of society to a successful issue. Perhaps he would be found deficient in judging how far to proceed in innovation; but this, though an important, is not an essential element in the composition of the mere reformer. It is for him to lead on the people to great and startling changes, to overturn tyrannies, to break down old forms, to inculcate novel precepts, to regenerate public sentiment. These rather require an impetuous spirit, a bold heart, an active and restless mind, than calmness, judgment, and deliberation. It is when a new polity is to be erected, when revolution has passed away, and the crisis reached and left, when a constitution is to be framed, and new principles are to be brought to their test, that the steady process of a sound judgment is called into requisition. Then it is that the reformer yields to the statesman; that impulse retires before reason; that passion and confusion become subordinated to the elements of order and the authority of intellect. Many have been both the reformers producing and the statesmen correcting, revolutions; minds which, with the fire of enthusiasm, and the hot impulse of indignation at wrongs done, have united a judicious discrimination, a cool faculty of reflection, and the power of separating the benefits from the evils of revolution.
It is certain that Mr. Bright would be a fearless and zealous reformer; it is doubtful whether he would not give place to others in the after-work. Well qualified to lead an enthusiastic faction to a crusade against precedent and authority, he has thus far failed to show himself capable of conducting an administration. Among the statesmen of modern times, honesty and enthusiasm are not qualities which control the policy of the state. Compare the crafty demeanor, the dubious expressions, the cautious statements of Earl Russell, with the plain, rude, blunt harangues of Mr. Bright, and we perceive the qualities which have elevated the former, and those which have kept the latter in the background. Lord Russell thinks what is for his interest to think; Mr. Bright thinks what that homely monitor, his conscience, urges on him. Lord Russell might adopt all the consequences of universal suffrage, and the principles of free trade, if he could still sit at the council-board, and dictate dispatches with a double meaning to foreign governments; but he fears to go beyond, though he nearly approaches, the line which separates the popular from the unpopular reformer. Expediency, on the contrary, forms no part of Mr. Bright's creed; and, not being a scion of a noble and illustrious house, nor having attained a position in the state which might have made him a conservative, he has no hesitation in announcing his opinions in favor of universal suffrage and free trade, in opposition of a dominant aristocracy, and in defiance of a religious establishment, and dares with provoking coolness the retaliation of the great and powerful of the land.
Mr. Bright's oratory is of a fresh, vigorous, and versatile character, and never fails to draw a multitude to the House when it is announced that he is to speak. Unlike the hesitating and timid delivery of Russell, the rapid jargon of Palmerston, the rich and graceful intonation of Gladstone, or the splendid sarcasm of Disraeli, his eloquence is bold, masculine, and ringing, and gives a better idea of intellectual and physical strength than any other speaker in the House. Although blunt, and careless of the feelings of others, there is a certain elegance in every sentence, which softens the rude sentiment into a vigorous anathema. Accurate in fact, naturally easy in delivery, bitter in irony, and ingenuous in argument, few are ready to meet him on the floor of the Commons. He is a fair specimen of what we hear called 'the fine old English gentleman,' without the ignorance, the bigotry, the awkwardness, and the peevishness, which go to make up the characters of a large proportion of the country baronets and gentry; that is, he is hearty, cordial, and merry, entering with enthusiasm into whatever he proposes to do, and determined to leave no stone unturned to accomplish it. If he should live to see the day when his countrymen shall adopt the views of which he is the foremost champion, no honor of the state will be denied him, and his name will rank with those of William of Orange, and Lord Grey, as the regenerators of the British Constitution; and if he does not, he can not but be respected, as Milton and Sidney are, by future generations, for his honesty, his patriotism under difficulty, and his fearless spirit.
The reader who would ascertain by the map whether it was likely that at an early period intercourse could have taken place between Eastern Asia and Western America, will have no difficulty in deciding on the geographical possibility of such transit. At Behring's Straits only forty miles of water intervene between the two continents, while routes by the Aleutian Islands, or through the Sea of Ochotsk, present no great difficulties, even to a timid navigator. And the Chinese and Japanese of earlier ages were by no means timid in their voyages. It is only within two centuries that their governments, alarmed by the growing power of the Western world, and desirous of keeping their subjects at home, prohibited the construction of strictly sea-worthy and sea-faring vessels. Even within the memory of man, Japanese junks have been driven to the California coasts.
Impressed by the probability of such intercommunication, Johann Friedrich Neumann, a learned German Orientalist, while residing in China, during the years 1829-30, for the purpose of collecting Chinese works, after investigating the subject, published its results in a work, subsequently translated by me, under his supervision. Among the first results of his inquiries, was the fact that 'during the course of many centuries, the Chinese acquired a surprisingly accurate knowledge of the north-east coast of Asia, extending, as their records in astronomy and natural history prove, to the sixty-fifth degree of latitude, and even to the Arctic Ocean.' From the Chinese Book of Mountains and Seas, it appears that the Esquimaux and their country were well known to the Chinese, and that in the sixth century, natives of the North and of the islands bordering on America, came with Japanese embassies to China. When it is borne in mind that the early Chinese geographers and astronomers determined on the situations of these northern regions, with an accuracy which has been of late years surprisingly verified by eminent European men of science, and when we learn that the Year Books or annals of China continually repeat these observations, and that their accounts of the natives of the islands within a few miles of the American shore are as undoubtedly correct as they are minute, we certainly have good reason for assuming that their description of the main land and its inhabitants is well worthy, if not of implicit belief, at least of an investigation by the savans of the Western World. Be it borne in mind, also, that during the first eight centuries of our own Christian era, a spirit of discovery in foreign lands was actively at work all over the East. In the words of Neumann:
'In the first century of our reckoning, the pride and vanity induced by the Chinese social system was partly broken by the progress of Buddhism over all Eastern Asia. He who believed in the divine mission of the son of the King of Kaphilapura, must recognize every man as his brother and equal by birth; yes, must strive (for the old Buddhism has this in common with the Christian religion) to extend the joyful mission of salvation to all the nations on the earth, and to attain this end must suffer, like the type of the God Incarnate, all earthly pain and persecution. So we find that a number of Buddhist monks and preachers have at distant times wandered to all known and unknown parts of the world, either to obtain information with regard to their distant co-religionists, or to preach the doctrine of the Holy Trinity to unbelievers. The official accounts which these missionaries have rendered of their travels, and of which we possess several entire, considered as sources of information with regard to different lands and nations, belong to the most instructive and important part of Chinese literature. From these sources we have derived, in a great degree, that information which we possess regarding North-eastern Asia and the Western coasts of America during centuries which have been hitherto vailed in the deepest obscurity.'
The earliest account, given of extended travels on the North-American continent describes a journey from Tahan or Aloska to a distance, and into a region which indicates the north-west coast of Mexico and the vicinity of San Blas. The following is a literal translation made from the original Chinese report, by Neumann:
'During the reign of the dynasty Tsi, in the first year of the year-naming5 'Everlasting Origin,' (Anno Domini 499,) came a Buddhist priest from this kingdom, who bore the cloister name of Roci-schin, that is, Universal Compassion, (Allgemeins Mitleiden: according to King-tscheu it signifies 'an old name,6') to the present district of Hukuang, and those surrounding it, who narrated that 'Fusang is about twenty thousand Chinese miles in an easterly direction from Tahan, and east of the middle kingdom. Many Fusang-trees grow there, whose leaves resemble the Dryanda Cordifolia;7the sprouts, on the contrary, resemble those of the bamboo-tree,8 and are eaten by the inhabitants of the land. The fruit is like a pear in form, but is red. From the bark they prepare a sort of linen, which they use for clothing, and also a sort of ornamented stuff.9 The houses are built of wooden beams; fortified and walled places a unknown.
'They have written characters in this land, and prepare paper from the bark of the Fusang. The people have no weapons, and make no wars, but in the arrangements of the kingdom they have a northern and a southern prison. Trifling offenders were lodged in the southern, but those confined for greater offenses in the northern; so that those who were about to receive grace could be placed in the southern prison, and those to the contrary in the northern. Those men and women who were imprisoned for life were allowed to marry. The boys resulting from these marriages were, at the age of eight years, sold for slaves; the girls not until their ninth year. If a man of any note was found guilty of crimes, an assembly was held: it must be in an excavated place, (Grabe.) There they strewed ashes over him, and bade him farewell, as if he were dying. If the offender were one of a lower class, he alone was punished; but when of rank, the degradation was extended to his children and grandchildren. With those of the highest rank it attained to the seventh generation.
'The name of the king is pronounced Ichi. The nobles of the first class are termed Tuilu; of the second, Little Tuilu; and of the third, Na-to-scha. When the prince goes forth he is accompanied by horns and trumpets. The color of his clothes changes with the different years. In the first two of the ten-year cyclus they are blue; in the two next, red; in the two following, yellow; in the two next, red; and in the last two, black.
'The horns of the oxen are so large that they contain ten bushels, (Schaeffel.) They use them to hold all manner of things. Horses, oxen and stags, are harnessed to their wagons. Stags are used here as cattle are used in the Middle Kingdom, and from the milk of the hind they make butter. The red pears of the Fusang tree keep good throughout the year. Moreover, they have apples and reeds; from the latter they prepare mats. No iron is found in this land; but copper, gold, and silver are not prized, and do not serve as a medium of exchange in the market.
'Marriage is determined upon in the following manner. The suitor builds himself a hut before the door of the house where the one longed for dwells, and waters and cleans the ground every morning and evening. When a year has passed by, if the maiden is not inclined to marry him, he departs; should she he willing, it is completed. When the parents die, they fast seven days. For the death of the paternal or maternal grandfather they lament five days; at the death of elder or younger sisters or brothers, uncles or aunts, three days. They then sit from morning to evening before an image of the ghost, absorbed in prayer, but wear no mourning clothes. When the king dies, the son who succeeds him does not busy himself for three years with state affairs.
'In earlier times these people lived not according to the laws of Buddha. But it happened that in the second year-naming 'Great Light,' of song, (A.D. 458,) five beggar monks, from the kingdom Kipin, went to this land, extended over it the religion of Buddha, and with it his holy writings and images. They instructed the people in the principles of monastic life, and so changed their manners.'
Such is the account of Mexico, as given by the old Buddhist monk Hoei-schin. What is there authentically known of ancient America and its inhabitants which confirms his account?
In the Fusang tree we have, according to the opinion of Neumann, theAgave Americana or Great American Aloe, called by the Indians Maguey, which is remarkably abundant in the plains of 'New-Spain,' and which supplies so many of the wants of its inhabitants even at the present day. An intoxicating drink, paper, thread, ropes, pins, and needles, (from the thorns,) and clothing, are all furnished by it, so that a traveler, observing the ease with which these are obtained, declares that in Mexico the Maguey plant must first be exterminated ere the sloth and idleness which now so generally afflict them, can be checked. Such a curious plant, supplying to such an extent, and so exclusively, so many of the needs of life, would naturally be the first object noted by an explorer.
Very remarkable is the observation that 'in this land no iron is found, and that copper, gold, and silver, are not prized;' from which we may infer that they were known, and probably abundant, and that they 'do not serve as a medium of exchange in the market.' It is needless to point out the fact that this was the case not only in ancient Mexico, but also in Peru, and that these were probably the only countries on the face of the earth where 'the precious metals' were held in such indifference. Be it observed that the monk Hoei-schin says nothing of the abundance of gold and silver; he simply remarks as a curious fact, that they were not used as a circulating medium.
In commenting on this record, Neumann judiciously reminds the reader that the information given by Hoei-schin and other Buddhist travelers, goes back into a period long anterior to the most remote periods alluded to in the wavering legends of the Aztecs, resting upon uncertain interpretations of hieroglyphics. One thing we know, that in America as in Europe, one wave of emigration and conquest swept after another, each destroying in a great measure all traces of its predecessor. Thus in Peru, the Inca race ruled over the lower caste, and would in time have probably extinguished it. But the Incas themselves were preceded by another and more gifted race, since it is evident that these unknown predecessors were far more gifted than themselves as architects. 'Who this race were,' says Prescott, (Conquest of Peru, chap. i. pp. 12, 13, ed. 1847,) 'and whence they came, may afford a tempting theme for inquiry to the speculative antiquarian. But it is a land of darkness that lies far beyond the domain of history.'
But as the American waves of conquest flowed South, it is no extravagant hypothesis to assume that the race of men whom the monk encountered in Mexico may possibly have had something in common with what was afterward found further south, in the land of the Incas. One thing is certain; that there is a singularly Peruvian air in all that this short narrative tells us of the land 'Fusang.' Fortified places, he says, were unknown; and Prescott speaks of the system of fortifications established through the empire as though it had originated—as it most undoubtedly did—with the Incas. Most extraordinary, however, is the remark of the monk, that the houses are built with wooden beams. As houses the world over are constructed in this manner, the remark might seem almost superfluous. It is worth observing that the Peruvians built their houses with wooden beams, and as Prescott tells us, 'knew no better way of holding the beams together than tying them with thongs of maguey.' Now be it observed, that the monk makes a direct transition from speaking of the textile fiber and fabric of the maguey to the wooden beams of the houses—a coïncidence which has at least a color of proof. It may be remarked, by the way, that this construction of houses 'tied up,' was admirably adapted to a land of earthquakes, as in Mexico, and that Prescott himself testifies that a number of them 'still survive, while the more modern constructions of the conquerors are buried in ruins.'
Most strikingly Peruvian is the monk's account of 'the Kingdom and the Nobles.' The name Ichi, is strikingly suggestive of the natural Chinese pronunciation of the word Inca. The stress laid on the three grades of nobles, suggests the Peruvian Inca castes of lower grade, as well as the Mexican; while the stately going forth of the king, 'accompanied by horns and trumpets,' vividly recalls Prescott's account of the journeyings of the Peruvian potentate. The change of the color of his garments according to the astronomical cycle, is, however, more thoroughly in accordance with the spirit of the institutions of the Children of the Sun than any thing which we have met in the whole of this strange and obsolete record. 'The ritual of the Incas,' says Prescott, 'involved a routine of observances as complex and elaborate as ever distinguished that of any nation, whether pagan or Christian. Each month had its appropriate festival, or rather festivals. The four principalhad reference to the Sun, and commemorated the great periods of his annual progress, the solstices and equinoxes. Garments of a peculiar wool, and feathers of a peculiar color, were reserved to the Incas. I can not identify the blue, red, yellow, and black, but it is worthy of remark that the rainbow was his special attribute or scutcheon, and that the mere fact that his whole life was passed in accordance with the requisitions of astronomical festivals, and that different colors were reserved to him and identified with him, establishes a strange analogy with the narrative of Hoei-schin.
'Of this subject of the cycles and change of colors corresponding to astronomical mutations, it is worth noting that Montesinos10 expressly asserts that the Peruvians threw their years into cycles of ten; a curious fact which has escaped the notice of Neumann, who conjectures that 'it may have been a subdivision of the Aztec period, or have even been used as an independent period, as was indeed the case by the Chinese, who term their notations 'stems.' It is worthy of remark,' he adds, 'that among the Mongols and Mantchous these 'stems' are named after colors which perhaps have some relation to the several colors of the royal clothing in the cycles of 'Fusang.' These Tartaric tribes term the first two years of the ten-yearcyclus, 'green and greenish,' the two next, 'red and reddish,' and soon, yellow and yellowish, white and whitish, and finally, black and blackish.'
I am perfectly aware that Peru is not Mexico; but I beg the reader to keep in mind my former observation, that Mexicomight have been at one time peopled by a race who had Peruvian customs, which in after-years were borne by them far to the South. The ancient mythology and ethnography of Mexico presents, however, a mass of curious identities with that of Asia. Both Mexico and Peru had the tradition of a deluge, from which seven prisoners escaped; in the hieroglyphs of the former country, these seven are represented as issuing from an egg.
It is remarkable that a Peruvian tradition declares the first missionaries of civilization who visited them to have been white and bearded. 'This may remind us,' says Prescott, 'of the tradition existing among the Aztecs, in respect to Quetzalcoatl, the good deity, who, with a similar garb and aspect, came up the great plateau from the East, on a like benevolent mission to the natives.' In like manner the Aesir, children of Light, or of the Sun, came from the East to Scandinavia, and taught the lore of the Gods.
The Peruvian embalming of the royal dead takes us back to Egypt; the burning of the wives of the deceased Incas, reveals India; the singularly patriarchal character of the whole Peruvian policy is like that of China in the olden time; while the system of espionage, of tranquillity, of physical well-being, and the iron-like immovability in which the whole social frame was cast, brings before the reader Japan, as it even now exists. In fact, there is something strangely Japanese in the entire cultusof Peru, as described by all writers.
It is remarkable that the Supreme Being of the Peruvians was worshiped under the names of Pachacomac, 'he who sustains, or gives life to the universe,' and of Viracocha, 'Foam of the Sea,' a name strikingly recalling that of Venus Aphrodité, the female second principle in all ancient mythologies. Not less curious was the institution of the Vestal Virgins of the Sun, who were buried alive if detected in an intrigue, and whose duty it was to keep burning the sacred fire obtained at the festival of Raymi.
'Vigilemque sacraverat ignem
Excubias divûm æternas.'
This fire was obtained as by the ancient Romans, on a precisely similar occasion, by means of a concave mirror of polished metal. The Incas, in order to preserve purity of race, married their own sisters, as did the kings of Persia and other Oriental nations, urged by a like feeling of pride. Among the Peruvians,Mama, signified 'mother,' whilePapa, was applied to the chief priest. 'With both, the term seems to embrace in its most comprehensive sense, the paternal relation, in which it is more familiarly employed by most of the nations of Europe.'
It should be borne in mind, that as in the case of the Green Corn festival, many striking analogies can be established between the Indian tribes of North-America and the Peruvians. Gallatin has shown the affinity of languages between all the American nations; at the remote age when the monk visited Mexico, it is possible that the first racewhich subsequently spread southward occupied the entire north.
Let the reader also remember that while the proofs of the existence or residence of Orientals in America are extremely vague and uncertain, and supported only by coïncidences, (singular and inexplicable as the latter may be,) the antecedent probability of their having come hither, is far stronger than that of the Norse discovery of this country, or even that of Columbus himself. When we see an aggressive nation, with a religious propaganda, boasting a commerce and gifted with astronomers and geographers of no mean ability, (and the accuracy of the old Chinese men of science has been frequently verified,) advancing century after century in a certain direction, chronicling correctly every step made, and accurately describing the geography and ethnography of a certain region, we have no good ground to deny the last advance which their authentic history claims to have made, however indisposed we may be to admit it. One thing, at least, will probably be cheerfully conceded by the impartial reader; that the subject well deserves further investigation, and that it is to be hoped that it will obtain it from those students who are at present so earnestly occupied in exploring the mysteries of Oriental literature.
The theory of State Rights, as expounded by its advocates in its application to the several States of the American Union, is subversive of all government, and calculated to destroy our political organization. Its tendency is to weaken the central government by minute division of the power necessary for its maintainance. Without power to make its authority respected, no government can live. The doctrine of State Sovereignty detracts from this authority by lessening the power which upholds it. Thirty-four-States, each claiming exclusive authority to act independently on any given subject, have only one thirty-fourth part of the strength that they would have, were they all acting under and controlled by one central head. That central head in our Union is the Federal Government, formed by and growing out of the Constitution, and it must exist for the protection of each of its thirty-four members, as well as for itself, the connecting power. Its acts must not be disputed by any one of the States or by any number of them acting in concert. If one or more States may defy the central authority or attempt to withdraw from its government, any other States may do likewise, to the ruin of the political fabric erected at so much cost, and in its place would spring up scores of weak and unprotected communities. But, says the State rights advocate, this central power will have too much authority, too much control over the States; will become despotic, and in time destroy the liberties of the people. How? By whom will those liberties be destroyed? This central power, styled the Federal Government, is formed by the people, is of the people, is for the people, and has only such power as the people gave it; and thus being of and from the people, it (or they) can not destroy its (or their) own liberties. Were our government hereditary instead of elective; were our institutions monarchical instead of republican; had we privileged classes perpetuated by primogeniture, there might be some danger of placing too much power in the hands of the Federal Government; but formed as our institutions are, framed as our Constitution is, educated as our people are, there can be no fear of having the central power or general Federal Government too strong, or its authority supreme. Without strength there can be no authority; without authority there can be no respect; without respect there can be no government; without government there can be no civilization. The doctrine of State rights as applied to the communities forming the American Union, elevates the State over the nation, demands that the Federal shall yield to the State laws, and completely ignores the supremacy of the united authority of the whole people. This theory carried out logically, would make counties equal to States; towns equal to counties; wards and districts equal to towns; neighborhoods equal to districts and wards; and to come down to the last application of the principle, every one man in a neighborhood equal to the whole, in fact, superior, if the State rights doctrine be true, that the State is supreme within its own limits. The application of this principle ends society by destroying the order based on authority, and placing the State above the Nation, and the individual above the State. Civilized societies are but the aggregation of persons coming or remaining together for mutual interest and protection. This mutual interest requires certain rules for the protection of the weak from the encroachments of the strong in the society, as well as from outside enemies. These rules take the form of laws. These laws must be administered; their administration requires power. This power is placed in the hands of certain members of this society, community, or State, as the case may be, for the good of the whole State, and each individual claiming protection from the State, or whose interest is promoted by being a member thereof, is under moral as well as legal obligations to submit to this authority thus exercised by the chosen executors of the public will. Rights that might pertain to one man on an island by himself, do not attach to man in civilized communities. There he must not go beyond the landmarks established by law, and he agrees to this arrangement by remaining in the State or community. The same principle is equally applicable to the States of the American Union. Before the adoption of the Federal Constitution, they were separate, distinct, and so far as any central head or supreme governing power was concerned, independent States, or, in fact, sovereignties. True, they had tried to get along under a sort of confederation agreement, a kind of temporary alliance for offensive and defensive ends, but which failed from its own inherent weakness, from the lack of that cohesiveness which nothing but centralization can give. Prior to the adoption of the Federal Constitution, these different States were like so many different individuals outside of any regular society; were merely so many isolated aggregations of non-nationalized individuals. Experience showed them their unfortunate condition; as separate States they had no strength to repel a common enemy, no credit, no money, no authority, commanded no respect. So it is with an individual outside of society. These States were then in the enjoyment—no, not in the enjoyment but merely in possession—of State rights to the fullest extent. They had the right to be poor; the right to be weak; the right to get in debt; the right to issue bills of credit, (was any one found who thought it right to take them?) the right to wage war with any of their neighbors; the right to do any and all acts pertaining to an independent sovereignty; but these rights were not all that the people of these States desired; and after trying the independent and the confederate State policy until experience had shown the utter fallacy of both, they met in convention and passed the present Constitution, and formed themselves into ONE NATION. This Constitution, compact, copartnership, confederation, combination, or whatever it may be called, was and is the written foundation (voluntarily made) on which the NATION is built and maintained.
The charter, instrument, or Constitution, defines, by common consent and mutual agreement of the parties voluntarily forming it, the powers, rights, and duties of the national government growing out of and based on this Constitution. Among the powers thus delegated to the National or Federal Government, and to be used by the legislative authority thereof, are the following:
'The Congress shall have power—
'1. To lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises, to pay the debts, and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States; but all duties, imposts, and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States.
'2. To borrow money on the credit of the United States.
'3. To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian tribes.
'4. To establish a uniform rule of naturalization, and uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcies, throughout the United States.
'5. To coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin, and fix the standard of weights and measures.
'6. To provide for the punishment of counterfeiting the securities and current coin of the United States.
'7. To establish post-offices and post-roads.
'8. To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing, for limited times, to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.
'9. To constitute tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court.
'10. To define and punish piracies and felonies committed on the high seas, and offenses against the law of nations.
'11. To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water.
'12. To raise and support armies; but no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years.
'13. To provide and maintain a navy.
'14. To make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces.
'15. To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the Union, suppress insurrections, and repel invasions.
'16. To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the militia, according to the discipline proscribed by Congress.
'18. To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof.'
The first two words in this section—'the Congress'—completely annul the separate integrity of States. The Congress of what, and for what? The Congress of the UNITED STATES, acting for the UNITED States, as a UNIT, a WHOLE, a UNION. The only allusion in this section to any thing like a right existing in any State after the adoption of the Constitution, is the right to officer the militia, and these officers are to 'train' the militia, under the direction of Congress, and not under State laws—a clause which of itself strikes a decisive blow at the theory of independent State rights. In no one of these specifications is there a single allusion to any 'State.' Every power enumerated is given to the 'United States,' to the 'Union' formed by virtue of the Constitution. Never was there a more perfect absorption of atoms into one mass, than in these specifications; but to make the principle still stronger, and as if to remove any doubt as to 'State rights,' the first clause of the Ninth Section of the same Article expressly prohibits any State from importing certain persons after a given date, which, when it arrived, (in 1808,) Congress passed a national law stopping the slave-trade—a trade that some of the States would have been glad to encourage, or at least, allow, if they had had authority to do so. This right was taken from them by the Constitution, in the year 1808; up to that time they had that right; but after that date the right no longer existed, and Congress passed the law referred to, in accordance with the power given them by this clause of the Constitution.
But this First Article of Section Nine is not all in that section that smothers State rights; for Article Five declares that vessels bound to or from one State need not enter, clear, or pay duties in another. Why this specification, if the States were to be supreme in their own limits? (and this doctrine of State rights is, in its essence, supremacy.) Independent states exact clearances and entrances, and demand duties from foreign vessels, but never from their own. State rights are ignored in this Article. But to prevent any possibility of any State ever exercising the rights of sovereignty now claimed by the advocates of this most pernicious doctrine, from which has grown the present gigantic rebellion, Section Ten, of the same Article, goes on to declare that—
'1. No State shall enter into any treaty, alliance, or confederation; grant letters of marque and reprisal; coin money; emit bills of credit; make any thing but gold and silver coin a tender in payment of debts; pass any bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law impairing the obligation of contracts; or grant any title of nobility.
'2. No State shall, without the consent of Congress, lay any imposts or duties on imports or exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing its inspection laws; and the net produce of all duties and imposts laid by any State on imports or exports, shall be for the use of the treasury of the United States; and all such laws shall be subject to the revision and control of the Congress. No State shall, without the consent of Congress, lay any duty on tonnage, keep troops or ships of war in time of peace, enter into any agreement or compact with another State or with a foreign power, or engage in war.'
Language can not be stronger; intentions were never more clearly expressed; thoughts were never more explicitly set forth in words. Nothing is left for doubt; all is concise, positive, and binding. Nothing is left to be guessed at; nothing left that could be construed to mean that States 'may' or 'may not.' 'SHALL' and 'SHALL NOT,' are the words used to define what the States are to do or not to do. The very slight 'right' given to the States to lay duties for executing their inspection laws, carries with it a proviso, or command, that the proceeds of such duties must be paid into the National Treasury, and the very laws that the States might pass for this purpose must be approved by 'THE CONGRESS.' What Congress? The Congress of the UNITED STATES—of the UNION. Every vestige of State sovereignty, of 'State rights,' is utterly annihilated in these clauses.
Independent, sovereign states may and do make treaties, alliances, grant letters of marque, or coin money; in fact, no 'State' or sovereignty can exist without these powers; and the fact that these powers are all taken from and denied to the States of the American Union, is conclusive proof that the framers of the Constitution did not intend to allow the States the sovereignty now claimed for them, and which the rebellious States are endeavoring to maintain. This heresy must be exorcised now and forever.
Is there any thing more in the Constitution (and bear in mind that no right is claimed for any State except in accordance with this instrument, which is still in full force except in those rebellious States where this disorganizing doctrine of 'State rights' has uncontrolled sway) making the Union supreme and the States subordinate? What says the following section?
'Full faith and credit shall be given in each State to the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may, by general laws, prescribe the manner in which such acts, records, and proceedings shall be proved, and the effect thereof.'
A State, therefore, may so legislate, that is, it may have acts and records, but each other State SHALL give to the records and proceedings of all the rest 'full faith and credit.' Does not this enactment thoroughly negative all theories of the exclusive supremacy of State rights? Independent sovereign States do not, in the absence of treaties, give any faith or credit to the records or proceedings of other independent states. Our States are not only compelled to do this, by this section, but must do so in accordance with the manner prescribed by 'the Congress' of the UNITED STATES, of the UNION, and of the NATION. No other congress is mentioned.
'The citizens of each State shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States.'
By this clause a native or naturalized citizen of Maine can conduct business, hold and convey real estate (the highest civil, social, and judicial tests of citizenship) in the State of Georgia. The citizen of Minnesota can do likewise in New-York, and so of each and in all the States. Independent states or supreme sovereignties do not allow these privileges to any but their own citizens. The United States do not, neither do other nations. Citizenship must precede the right to hold and convey real estate. All governments are naturally jealous of the alien. By this clause, no American citizen can be an alien in any State of the American Union. He is a citizen of the nation. No State can pass any law demanding more of a citizen not born, though residing within its limits, than from one born therein, or place him under any restrictions not common to the native or other citizen of such State. Not a vestige of 'State' exclusiveness is there in the clause. Every idea of State supremacy is blotted out by it. A heavier blow is, however, dealt at State rights in the following section:
'The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a republican form of government, and shall protect each of them against invasion, and, on application of the Legislature, or of the Executive, (when the Legislature can not be convened,) against domestic violence.'
The greatest of all rights that an independent state can or may have, is the right to adopt its own form of government; but this clause completely destroys such right on the part of any State of this Union to frame its own form of government. No State, for example, can have a monarchical government; since the United States are to guarantee a republican form: and no State can adopt an hereditary or theocratic government, because the UNITED STATES are bound to give each State a republican government. In like manner we might run through all the forms of government that have ever blessed or cursed our race, without finding one which can he adopted by any State of this Union, except the single form of 'republican,' named in the Constitution. But can a State bereft of the right to frame its own mode of government be said to be possessed of 'sovereign' 'State rights,' or could a more effectual provision against their development have been formed than this?
'This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof, and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby; any thing in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.
'The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several STATE LEGISLATURES, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the SEVERAL STATES, shall be bound by oath or affirmation to support this Constitution.'
This Constitution, these laws, these treaties, shall be the supreme law, no matter what 'State' constitutions and 'State' laws may declare. 'Shall!' is the word, and there can be no doubt as to its meaning. Again, members of the State Legislatures, and all officers of the several States 'shall' be bound to support the 'Constitution.' Where are the 'State rights' in these clauses? Every State and every State official is made subordinate to and an executive of the acts of the 'United States,' and the United States constitutes a 'nation'. That is the only word which meets our case. WE ARE A NATION, not 'a tenant-at-will sort of confederacy.'
The waters of the Bay of New-York and of the Hudson river flow entirely within the States of New-York and New-Jersey. One of the vested rights of an independent state, is that known as 'eminent domain,' or supreme ownership, implying control. Apply this doctrine of State rights in this case, or rather, allow it to be applied by the States named above, and they could prevent the navigation of these waters by any but their own citizens or those to whom they might grant that privilege. If this doctrine of State rights is sound, these two States would have the right to levy tolls or duties on every vessel that sails those waters, as the State of New-York exacts tolls on her canals. Such power thus exercised, would cripple commerce, inconvenience the public, and utterly destroy all comity between the States. This exacting tolls for navigation of waters is one of the most offensive systems left us by past generations. It is so odious that modern governments decline to submit to it in cases where there is no doubt as to 'State rights,' as in that of the 'Sound Dues' exacted by Denmark. If, however, the State is supreme within its limits, it has a perfect right to exact such tolls. But no State in this nation has any such right under the Constitution. Its existence would destroy the Union by placing each State under the laws and exactions of either one of the others. The troubles growing out of such exactions would beget dispute; these disputes would beget open strife, which would end in open rupture and the downfall of the NATIONAL UNION.
The 'UNITED STATES,' 'the Union,' 'the Nation,' are supreme. The States, as States, are subordinate; as 'parts,' they are inferior to the 'whole.' The 'State rights' doctrine is wrong, disorganizing, destructive of national life, and must be destroyed.
Again, one grand evidence of a nation's or a people's civilization, is found in the correspondence, written and printed, conducted by the citizens. Barbarians have and need no correspondence. Civilization needs it, and can not exist without it. A migratory people like ours have more correspondence than older and less migratory nations. A citizen emigrating from Vermont to Illinois must correspond with the friends of his old home. The old friend in Vermont must know how the absent one 'gets along in the world.' To conduct this correspondence, the postal or mail service was devised. Before its existence the communication between separated friends and business people was uncertain, irregular, and mere matter of chance, to be conveyed by stray travelers, or not interchanged at all. The necessities of civilization brought the postal or mail service into action. To conduct this service over a nation, requires the right of passage through the entire limits of the nation. This right, to be available, must have power to enforce its own requirements. It must be central, CONTROLLING, SUPREME. Without these, there would be no safety, no system, no uniformity, no regularity. To insure these to all the people of the States, the Constitution has wisely placed these powers in 'THE CONGRESS' of the Union, of the 'NATION.' In accordance with the powers thus vested in Congress, our present postal or mail service has been created. No State has a right to set up its own mail or postal system. No State has a right to interfere with the transportation of the national mails. 'The UNITED STATES MAIL,' is the term used. If any State had a right to establish a mail within its own limits, it would also have the right to prohibit or curtail the transportation of other States' mails through its limits. This right would destroy the entire system, and break up the interchange of correspondence so essential to our civilization. If the States had any such right, they could affix discriminating tariffs on the correspondence of other States passing through them. The State of New-York could, if this right existed, make the letters sent over its roads by the people of Massachusetts to the people of Ohio, pay just such tariffs for the 'right of passage' as it might choose. The absurdity and utter unreasonableness of this claimed right is so apparent as to need no argument against it.
The exercise of this pretended right by the Southern States has caused the present rebellion. But for this doctrine we should not be expending a million a day in supporting six hundred thousand men in camp, who ought to be producers for the support of life instead of missionaries of death. This war is the legitimate result of this heresy of 'State rights.' If this doctrine had never been put in practice, we should not now have slavery to curse us with its degrading, inhumanizing influences. Slavery exists in violation of the Constitution. Slavery was never established by that document. The States violated it in their attempts at legalizing it. All their laws declaring that the status of the child must be that of the mother, are but so many 'BILLS OF ATTAINDER,' working 'CORRUPTION OF BLOOD;' and every State, as well as Congress itself, was and is positively prohibited by the Constitution from passing any such bill or law; and should we ever succeed in having any but a pro-slavery, slave-catching Supreme Court, all these laws will be annulled by their own most positive unconstitutionally. True, there were slaves at the time the Constitution was adopted, but all then living are now dead; and but for this doctrine of 'State rights,' there never would have been any State law making the child of a slave mother also a slave; but for this doctrine no such bill of attainder would have been passed, or if passed, it never could have been enforced; and we should not to-day be listening to the cries of four millions of slaves, nor have the homes of thousands of honest citizens made desolate by the absence of loved ones. But for this terrible doctrine, 'the click of hammers closing rivets up,' would not now be giving 'dreadful note of preparation.' But for this heresy, subversive of all law, of all order, of all nationality, we should not to-day be at war for our existence. But for this doctrine, and the right claimed by some of the States to extend their 'bills of attainder,' working corruption of blood over the entire Union, we should not have our homes filled with grief and our streets covered with the funeral pageants of brave men killed in defense of the Union. We want no more evidence of the accursed nature of the doctrine of 'State rights.' We are a UNION—a NATION. We must have NATIONAL LAWS, NATIONAL INSTITUTIONS, NATIONAL FREEDOM. We have had too much of State law, too much of State rights, too much of State slavery. The NATION MUST BE SUPREME. The States must be subordinate. As we uphold and perpetuate the National authority, so will be our existence as a people. As we detract from this, so will be our weakness and downfall.
GOD PRESERVE THE NATION!
'I know that historians do borrow of poets, not only much of their ornament but somewhat of their substance.'—Raleigh's History of the World.
The name of Roanoke Island awakens in the mind of every lover of American history, sentiments of veneration and respect. It carries us back to the days of England's great Queen, to ruffs and rapiers, and calls up the memories of the gallant but unfortunate Raleigh, and of the brave knights, Grenville, Lane, and White, men who made their mark in history even in that golden era of chivalry and enterprise.
Let us go back through the vista of nearly three centuries, and trace the history of this spot where our language was first spoken and written on this continent. When we recall the first occupation of this island by the English, and picture to ourselves the Indians in their normal state, with their dress, habitations, and implements, so picturesque and unique, as well as the gallant gentlemen in the costume of that picturesque age, it seems almost to border on romance. But there is a dark side to the picture. The sombre veil of uncertainty hangs over the fate of two entire colonies, which, if lifted, would consecrate this spot to the extremes of suffering and bloodshed. It was, no doubt, better to have these scenes buried in oblivion, and for each succeeding historian to fill up this chapter with his own fancies, than to be able to give the minute details of long days and months of probable famine, pestilence, war, captivity, and torture, which have occurred here or in the immediate vicinity. The certain knowledge of them would have awakened in their countrymen sentiments of retaliation and vengeance, and a fearful retribution would have been meted but to the natives, and have fallen upon the innocent as well as the guilty.
It was not until about the commencement of the sixteenth century that England could be considered one of the great maritime powers in Europe. Although Henry the Seventh had authorized Cabot to prosecute a voyage of discovery as early as 1497, in which he discovered the continent, thus actually anticipating Columbus, who did not discover it till the succeeding year, no real attempts at colonization took place until a century afterward. In 1578, Sir Humphrey Gilbert obtained a patent from Queen Elizabeth to colonize such parts of North-America as were not then occupied by any of her allies. Soon after, he, assisted and accompanied by his step-brother, Sir Walter Raleigh, fitted out an expedition and sailed for America; but they were intercepted by a Spanish fleet, and returned unsuccessful.
In 1583, they equipped a new squadron, in which Raleigh did not embark. This enterprise failed, and Sir Humphrey perished at sea. Still Raleigh was not disheartened. He had been a soldier in the religious war then raging in France, and associated with the Protestant admiral, Coligny, and many of his officers, whose ill-fated colony met so bloody a fate near the river St. John. Doubtless, during his intercourse with these men, their experience in Florida often became the theme of discourse, and it may be that from it he imbibed that passion for discovery and colonization in America, which ended only with his life. He doubtless learned of the voyage of Verranzo, who, in the employ of France, had, in 1524, coasted from Cape Fear to Rhode Island; but still our shores were hardly more than a myth, and the country north of the peninsula of Florida a terra incognita. Early in 1584, Raleigh, then a gallant courtier, received a grant from Elizabeth to 'discover and find out such remote and heathen lands, not actually possessed or inhabited by any Christian King, or his subjects, and there to have, hold, fortify, and possess, in fee-simple to him and his associates and their heirs forever, with privileges of allegiance to the crown of all that might there reside; they and their descendants.'
This grant would apply to any portion of the globe not claimed or inhabited by the subjects of a Christian prince. The grant bears date March 25th, in the twenty-sixth year of the reign of Queen Elizabeth, 1584. Raleigh anticipated its passing the great seal, and probably had for some months been making preparations for a voyage of discovery under this patent. So energetic was he, that two barks were prepared and dispatched from the west of England on the 27th of April. They were under the commands of Captains Amidas and Barlow, with Simeon Fernando as pilot, who, it may be presumed from the name, was a Spaniard, and no doubt had been on this coast before. They took the route by way of the Canaries and West-India Islands, and by the tenth of May had reached the former, and by the tenth of June the latter, where they staid twelve days.
Continuing their voyage, on the second of July they found shoal water, where they say11: 'We smelled so sweet and strange a smell, as if we had been in the midst of a delicate garden, abounding with all kinds of odoriferous herbs and flowers, so we were assured that the land could not be far distant; and keeping good watch, and bearing but slack sail, the fourth of the same month we arrived upon the coast, which we supposed to be a continent, and firm land; and we sailed along the same a hundred and twenty miles, before we could find any entrance or river issuing into the sea.'
They entered the first inlet which appeared, 'but not without difficulty, and anchored on the left-hand side.' Subsequent historians have written much to settle the long-disputed question, by what channel or inlet the earliest English navigators entered. After a careful examination of the early and of later authorities, and with some practical acquaintance with the localities, I am of the opinion that they must have entered by what is now known as Hatteras Inlet. 'The island twenty miles long and not over six miles broad,' was that part of the banks or shore between this inlet and that now known as Ocracoke.
So soon as they had given thanks to God for their safe arrival, they landed, and took possession in 'the right of the Queen's most excellent majesty,' and afterward delivered it over to the use of the grantee. They found the land sandy and low, and expressed their admiration of the abundance of wild grapes, as well as the pines and cedars; but saw no inhabitants. The third day, they espied a small boat, with three persons, who came to the shore. There they were met by the two captains and the pilot, and one of the natives boldly commenced a conversation entirely unintelligible to the Englishmen, but most friendly in its tones. Having received a shirt and hat, the Indian, after viewing the vessels, fell to fishing, and in less than half an hour loaded his boat as deep as she could swim with fishes, which he soon landed on the shore and divided between the ship and pinnace. The next day, there came divers boats, containing forty or fifty natives, 'a very handsome and goodly people, and in their behavior and manners as civil as any in Europe.' Among them was the king's brother, 'Grangamimeo,' who said the king was called Winginia. They commenced trading with the Indians, no doubt greatly to their own advantage. The natives were, of course, much astonished at the splendor and profusion of the articles offered; but of all things which he saw, a bright tin dish most pleased Grangamimeo. He clapped it on his breast, and after drilling a hole in the brim, hung it about his neck, making signs that it would defend him from his enemies. This tin dish was exchanged for twenty deerskins, worth twenty crowns, and a copper kettle for fifty skins. In a few days, they were visited by the king and his family. The women had bracelets of pearl and ornaments of copper; the pearl was probably nothing but pieces of shell, and the copper must have been obtained from near Lake Superior, where the mines had been worked ages before the advent of the white man. The Indians told them of a ship that had been wrecked near there twenty-six years previously, and that the crew attempted to escape in their boat, but probably perished, as the boat was afterward found on another island. This story has usually been looked upon with doubt; but recent researches in the Spanish archives have shown that they had a fort and colony at Port Royal in 1557, and about the same period, another in the Chesapeake. There can be but little doubt that the story was true, and that the ship contained Spaniards passing between these two places. They also told curious stories of a great river 'Cipo,' where pearl was obtained, which has puzzled later historians to locate; but we now know that Cipo or Sepo, in the Algonquin language, which was spoken from Maine to about this point, means simply a river, and probably referred to either the Moratio, now called the Roanoke, or to the Chowan.
These narratives give a glowing account of the natives and of their ability to construct their houses and canoes and weirs for fish. As this was their first intercourse with Europeans, it undoubtedly shows what their true condition was and had been for centuries. Situated, as this territory is, under a mild climate, where corn, beans, and melons can be so easily raised, and having a great abundance of game and fish, it must have been a paradise for the Indians. Of the king's brother, it is said:
'He was very just of his promise; for many times we delivered him merchandise upon his word, but ever he came within the day and performed his promise. He sent us every day a brace or two of fat bucks, conies, hares, and fish, the best in the world. He sent us divers kinds of fruits, melons, walnuts, cucumbers, gourds, peas, and divers roots and fruits, very excellent and good; and of their country corn, which is very white, fair, and well-tasted, and grows three times in five months. In May, they sow; in July, they reap: in June, they sow; in August, they reap: in July, they sow; in September, they reap. They cast the corn into the ground, breaking a little of the soft turf with a wooden mattock. Ourselves proved the soil, and put some of our peas into the ground, and in ten days they were fourteen inches high. They have also beans, very fair, of divers colors, and wonderful plenty; some growing naturally and some in their gardens.'
Their advent to Roanoke Island is thus described:
'After they had been divers times aboard our vessels, myself with seven others went twenty miles into the river that runs toward the city of Skicoak, which river they call Occum, and the evening following, we came to an island which they call Roanoke, distant from the harbor by which we entered seven leagues. At the north end thereof was a village of nine houses, built of cedar and fortified round about with sharp trees, to keep out their enemies; and the entrance into it made like a turnpike, very artificially. When we came toward it, standing near unto the water side, the wife of Grangamimeo, the king's brother, came running out to meet us very cheerfully and friendly; her husband was not then in the village. Some of her people she commanded to draw our boat on shore; others she appointed to carry us on their backs to the dry ground, and others to bring our oars into the house, for fear of stealing. When we were come to the outer room, having five rooms in her house, she caused us to sit down by a great fire, and afterward took off our clothes and washed them and dried them again. Some of the women washed our feet in warm water, and she took great pains to see all things ordered in the best manner, making great haste to dress some meat for us to eat. After we had dried ourselves, she brought us into the inner room, when she sat on the board standing alongside the house, and placed before us some wheat fermented, sodden venison, and fish, sodden, boiled, and roasted, melons, raw and sodden, roots of divers kinds, and fruits. We were entertained with all love and kindness, and with as much bounty as we could possibly desire. We found these people most gentle, loving, and faithful; void of all guile and treason, and such as live after the manner of the golden age.'
'Beyond this island, called Roanoke, a main stands, very plentiful in fruits and other natural increase, together with many towns and villages alongside the continent, some bordering upon the islands, and some standing further into the land.'
'When we first had sight of this country, some thought the first land we saw to be a continent; but after we entered into the haven, we saw before us another mighty long sea, for there lieth along the coast a tract of island two hundred miles in extent.'
Thus they picture the country with the rosy tint so natural to all discoverers. They speak of the island as being sixteen miles long, which recent surveys show nearly correct. Many of the trees, animals, and fish were new to them, and like all travelers, they did not neglect to give a fair embellishment in their report to Raleigh. Their stay in the country was brief, less than sixty days, and on their return, they carried with them two of the Indians, named Wanchese and Mantco, who were regarded as a great curiosity by the English. They were exhibited at London to thousands, and gave Raleigh great satisfaction, as they were the first natives of America who had visited England.
The return of Amidas and Barlow, with their flattering report of the discovery and beauty of Virginia, created great excitement throughout England, and with it a desire to visit the new land. The soldiers of fortune, of which that reign was fruitful, were ready to embark in any cause that promised wealth or fame; and the nobility and merchants, with sanguine views of trade and extensive domains containing the precious metals, were ready to furnish the means to transport a colony to the new El Dorado. It was not difficult to procure men, under such dazzling aspects; a sufficient number was soon enrolled, but the material was not of a kind to make a successful and permanent settlement. Disbanded soldiers from foreign service, and London tradesmen out of business, and enlisting only with the hope of soon obtaining wealth, and returning home to enjoy it, were not the men to clear away forests, cultivate the soil, or develop industry, the only true source for success in America. The fleet consisted of seven vessels, the 'Tiger' and 'Roebuck,' each of one hundred and forty tons; the 'Lion,' of one hundred; and the 'Elizabeth,' of fifty tons; with a small bark and two pinnaces, which were without decks.
In this fleet were several, eminent among the gallant men who have contributed so much to render the reign of the Virgin Queen illustrious in history. The commander, Sir Richard Grenville, distinguished himself at the battle of Lepanto, and afterward lost his life in a desperate encounter with a Spanish fleet off the Azores. He was a cousin of Raleigh, and always his friend. The next in real rank was Ralph Lane, to whom was delegated the office of governor, and of whom we shall speak hereafter. Thomas Cavendish commanded one of the vessels. He was a wealthy and dashing adventurer, who, after his return, fitted out an expedition and captured some Spanish ships with great treasure; but after a reckless life, he found an early grave. Lewis Stukely, another cousin of Raleigh, had some prominent station. He proved a base character, and assisted, by his intrigues, in bringing his patron to the block. Amidas, who was in the first voyage, also found place here, with the title of 'admiral.' Simeon Fernando, the former pilot, was now in command of the 'Tiger.'
The fleet sailed from Plymouth on the ninth of April, 1585, and made one of the West-India Islands, where they had many adventures, on the fourteenth of May. Thence proceeding on their voyage, they reached the coast of Florida on the twentieth of June; on the twenty-third, they barely escaped wreck on Cape Fear shoals; and on the twenty-sixth anchored at Wocokon, now known as Ocracoke. Three days afterward, in attempting to cross the bar, the 'Tiger' struck, and remained for some time; the first of many similar accidents on that wild and dangerous spot. On the third of July, they sent word of their arrival to Winginia, the Indian king at Roanoke; and the same day dispatched Captain Arundell across the sound to the main land, where he found two men who had arrived twenty days before, in one of the smaller vessels. For the next ten days, they were engaged in visiting the Indian towns on the main. Here one of the Indians stole a silver cup. To recover it, a party visited a town, and not obtaining the cup, burned the houses and spoiled the corn; 'a mean revenge,' destined to meet a bloody retaliation.
Soon after, the fleet sailed to Hatorask; not the cape or the inlet which we now call by nearly the same name, but an inlet then nearly opposite Roanoke, where all those intending to remain were probably landed. On the twenty-fifth of August, the fleet sailed for England.
The colony, landed on Roanoke, consisted of one hundred and seven persons, of whom Ralph Lane was the Governor, Amidas, the admiral, Hariot, the historian and chaplain, and John White the artist. So soon as they were settled at the island, they began the exploration of the country. This was done in boats, and entirely toward the south. Visiting the Neuse and the western shore of Pamlico Sound, they explored Currituck, on the east; while on the north, they penetrated to the distance of one hundred and sixty miles, and ascended Moratio, now known as the Roanoke river, probably more than fifty miles from its mouth. This was done with extreme labor and peril, as the Indians had deluded them with a story of mines of gold, and having notice of Lane's coming, were prepared to attack him. So sanguine were the party of finding mines, and yet so reduced, that they still pushed on, though they once found that they had but a half-pint of corn for a man, besides two mastiffs, upon the pottage of which, with sassafras leaves, they might subsist for two days. They returned safe, however, without any of the precious metals which they had made such exertions to find. Lane also explored the Chowan, or, as he called it, the Chowanook. The king of this country gave him much information respecting the territory, which proved to be perfectly truthful.
From the Indians, Lane had received intimations of the existence of Chesapeake Bay,12 and was desirous of visiting it.
The story of this 'king' of the Chesapeans was full of interest, he knowing well the route, which Lane communicates, with the plans he intended to carry out, but which the sudden departure of the colony left unfulfilled, so that the great bay remained for a few years longer a mere myth to the English. Of this native king, Lane says:
'He is called Menatonon, a man impotent in his limbs, but otherwise, for a savage, a very grave and wise man, and of a very singular good discourse in matters concerning the state, not only in his own country, and the disposition of his own men, but also of his neighbors round about him, as well far as near, and of the commodities that each country yielded. When I had him prisoner with me for two days that we were together, he gave me more understanding and light of the country than I have received by all the searches and savages that I or any of my company have had conference with.' 'He told me that by going three days' journey up the Chowanook, (Chowan,) you are within four days' journey over land north-east to a certain king's country, which lays upon the sea; but his greatest place of strength is an island,13 as he described to me, in a bay, the water round about it very deep.
... He also signified to me that this king had so great a quantity of pearl as that not only his own skins that he wears and his gentlemen and followers are full set with the pearl, but also his beds and houses are garnished with them.' 'He showed me certain pearl the said king brought him two years before, but of the worst sort. He gave me a rope of the same pearl,14 but they were black and nought;—many of them were very large, etc. It seemed to me that the said king had traffic with white men that had clothes as we have.' ... 'The king of Chowanook promised to give me guides to go into that king's country, but he advised me to take good store of men and victual with me.' ... 'And I had resolved, had supplies have come in a reasonable time, to have undertaken it.'
He goes on to state that he would have sent two small pinnaces to the northward, to have discovered the bay he speaks of, while he, with all the small boats and two hundred men, would have gone up the Chowanook with the guides, whom he would have kept in manacles, to the head of the river, where he would have left his boats, and raised a small trench with a palisado on it, and left thirty men to guard the boats and stores. Then he would have marched two days' journey, and raised another 'sconce,' or small fort, and left fifteen or twenty men near a corn-field, so that they might live on that. Then, in two days more, he would have reached the bay, where he would have built his main fort, and removed his colony.
It is interesting, at this time, to see how Lane would, with the caution and boldness of a good soldier, have passed up the broad estuary of the Chowan to 'where it groweth to be as narrow as the Thames between Lambeth and Westminster,' and so on, and turning into the Blackwater, which he would have navigated probably to where it is now crossed by the railroad, he would have been within fifty or sixty miles of the bay. While we write, General Burnside is pursuing the same route, not to capture from a savage tribe, but from a rebellious and traitorous people, the same domain.
The same chief or king gave Lane a fanciful account of the Moratio river, which we now call the Roanoke. He says:
'This river opens into the broad sound of Weapomeiok, (Albemarle,) and the other rivers and sounds show no current, but in calm weather are moved by the wind. This river of Moratio has so swift a current from the West, that I thought it would with oars scarce be navigable; the current runs as strong as at London bridge. The savages do report strange things of the head of the river, which was thirty days' voyage; that it springs out of a great rock, and makes a most violent stream; and that this rock stands so near unto the South Sea, that in storms the waves beat into the stream and make it brackish.'
This river he afterward explored. But ere long, either from oppression or fear of the English, the Indians assumed a hostile attitude, and laid plans to surprise them. The English had to be continually on their guard, and in the mean time famine compelled them to leave Roanoke in large parties, to obtain subsistence from the corn-fields, or proceed along the coast for shell-fish.
About the first of June, 1586, Lane, with a party, left the island, proceeding across the sound, and by a stratagem, hardly authorized in an honorable soldier, captured and killed the chief of the country and many of his people.
In the mean time, he was on the look-out for ships from England, with supplies, and had sent Captain Stafford, with a party, to 'Croatan,' probably at or near what is now known as Cape Lookout, to discover their approach. Suddenly, he reported a great fleet of twenty sail in sight, which proved to be the squadron commanded by the celebrated Sir Francis Drake, who was returning from one of his expeditions among the Spanish settlements in the West-Indies. When Drake left England, he was directed to look after Raleigh's colony, and had accordingly brought a letter to Lane. He anchored his fleet opposite Roanoke, (probably just off 'Nagg's Head,' now celebrated as the scene of the temporary sojourn and flight of Governor Wise,) and supplied them with the needed provisions. He also made them an offer of one of his small vessels, which they very gladly accepted.
But a storm, which continued for many days, came upon them; the promised bark was driven to sea; the open roadstead, where the larger ships were compelled to anchor, made Roanoke an undesirable location, and as the time had long expired when the promised reinforcements should have arrived from England, this disappointment, together with the hostilities of the Indians, so discouraged the leaders of the colony, that they solicited and obtained from Drake a passage to England. On the nineteenth of June, after a little less than a year's residence in the new land, they all sailed for home, and Roanoke Island was left in solitude.
It is somewhat singular that with all the wars, famine, and privations of these adventurers, not a solitary death occurred during the time they spent here.
It certainly speaks much for the salubrity of the climate, as well as for the care of the officers who were in command. They all arrived safely in England, about the last of July.15
Among the eminent men who accompanied Lane, and passed nearly a year at Roanoke, was Thomas Hariot, an Oxford scholar and a celebrated mathematician. He went out in the expedition as historian and naturalist, to make a topographical and scientific survey and report of the country and its commodities, duties fulfilled by him in the most faithful manner. His report was published in London, in 1588, under the title of A Brief and True Report of the New-found Land in Virginia, of the Commodities found there, etc. It was, in 1590, put into Latin, and published by Theodore de Bry, at Frankfort, with about thirty curious engravings, from the designs of John White, the artist who accompanied the expedition. These pictures are exceedingly well executed, by eminent Dutch artists, and a number of them give undoubtedly the exact portraits of many of the principal Indians, with their costumes and habits, as they were before they were changed by intercourse with the Europeans, showing us their original condition.
The Aborigines were certainly further advanced in agriculture and civilization than has been generally supposed, and probably much more than the tribes who resided further north. To all who are curious in the history of the early inhabitants of North-America, this work will be found of extraordinary interest. It may be observed that the maps of the coast which it contains are remarkably correct, and at the same time indicate many important changes to have since occurred. But its greatest value is its description of the 'commodities' or valuable productions, of daily use and commercial value, which were found here. Thus, under the Indian name of Uppowoc, Hariot gives a description of the tobacco-plant,16 which had been previously known to the Spaniards. This, however, seems to have been its earliest introduction to the English, and it was carried home by them 'to the nobility.' In the account of this plant, we are told that it is so esteemed by the Indians that they even think their gods are delighted with it. Our chronicler further says: 'We were in the habit of using this plant for our diseases, as the natives did, and have continued the practice since our return.' It was only used to smoke; the natives were never guilty of chewing it.' Among the roots, it mentions Openauk, which must have been what we call the pea-nut, which is now largely cultivated along that coast, and is quite an article of commerce. They also found here the sweet potato and various kinds of squashes and melons, as well as many varieties of beans, some of which are still cultivated extensively in that region.
It also describes a root which grows sometimes as large as a human head; this must have been what is now known as the tanger. But the greatest discovery of all was the potato, which has been of such inestimable benefit to mankind. This, which they carried home, was cultivated by Raleigh, on his estate in Ireland, and thence disseminated through Europe. Doubt has been thrown over this statement by the fact that botanists have been unable to find this plant in North-America in an indigenous state, and so have concluded that it never grew here at all. Our volume, however, proves that it was cultivated by the natives, as were corn, beans, and tobacco. Of it, Hariot speaks as follows:
'Kaishuopenauk is a kind of white root of the size of a hen's egg, and almost similar in form; it did not seem to be of a very pleasant taste, and consequently we did not take any particular pains to learn its history, yet the natives cook and eat them.'
Scarcely any part of our country has a greater variety of plants and trees than this vicinity. It will be found an interesting field for botanists.
Only a few days had elapsed after the departure of the colonists, when a ship, prepared and furnished with supplies from Raleigh, arrived at Roanoke. After some days spent by her commander in searching for his countrymen, he set sail for home. Fifteen days after the departure of this supply-ship, three vessels, under the command of Sir Richard Grenville, made their appearance before the place, and when he ascertained the state of affairs, his disappointment was extreme. He, however, made extensive explorations, and leaving fifteen men to reside at Roanoke and keep possession of the country, departed for home. One would suppose that Raleigh, by this time, would have become disheartened by his disappointments in America; but he was now at the hight of his prosperity, and seemed never to despair of the final success of this his favorite project. The following year, 1587, a new expedition was fitted out under the charge of John White, as Governor, with twelve assistants. They were to found the city of Raleigh, in Virginia. This fleet of three ships left Plymouth on the fifth of May, and after making a short stay at the West-India Islands, sailed for our coast, reaching it on the sixteenth of July. They a second time barely escaped a wreck on Cape Fear shoals, but anchored safely at Hatorask, on the twenty-seventh of the same month. They had been directed by Raleigh to visit Roanoke, and then proceed to the Chesapeake and there land the colony which they had transported. The Governor and party landed on Roanoke Island, and proceeded to the place (probably on the side next the sea) where Sir Richard Grenville left fifteen men the year previous. They found, however, only the skeleton of one, who with his companions had probably been slain by the savages. The next day they repaired to the south end of the island, where Lane had built his fort and houses. No human being was to be seen, and thus the fate of the fifteen was confirmed.
The commander of this fleet was Simeon Fernando, a prominent officer in the two previous expeditions, who no doubt had given satisfaction to Lane, for his name was given to the fort at Roanoke. But the chronicles, in this instance, have charged him with treachery, he having refused to proceed to the Chesapeake. In consequence of this refusal, the colony remained here, occupying the buildings erected by Lane. The Indians soon gave proof of hostility by attacking and murdering one of the assistants. Master Stafford, who had previously been with Lane, accompanied by the Indian Manteo, (who came with them from England,) with twenty others, passed over to the mainland, and renewed their former intercourse with the Indians. The natives claimed to be friendly, and related how the fifteen were murdered by the tribe that once inhabited Roanoke. This party again visited the mainland on the ninth of August, and falling in with a party of natives, whom they supposed to be hostile, attacked and killed a number, but subsequently learned that they were of a friendly tribe. On the thirteenth of August Manteo was christened and announced as Lord of Roanoke, in reward for his faithful service. How far he understood the meaning or value of the rite, we are unable to state; but the tendency of the act to influence the natives to regard the Europeans with more favor, can be readily implied.
The first child of English blood born upon this continent, (August 18th,) was 'Virginia' Dare, a granddaughter of the Governor. At the expiration of the time when the ships were to return home, it was thought advisable to send one of the principal men with them to make sure that supplies should be forwarded by their friends; but so satisfied were the majority with their present prospects, that it was a difficult matter to find one willing to go. At the last moment, finding all else so reluctant to leave, the Governor, John White, decided to return in person, and sailed, in company with the returning ships, on the twenty-fifth of August, leaving at Roanoke one hundred and seventeen persons to an unknown fate. He, with his vessel and her consorts, arrived safely in England.
The ship in which the Governor embarked, reached England in November, 1587. The succeeding year was, perhaps, as trying for that country as any it had ever experienced, the fear of the Spanish invasion and its consequences, being the absorbing theme of public attention. No doubt White had in view the best interests of his colony; he knew the condition of the colonists, and that their prosperity and perhaps their lives depended on his reinforcing them. But the war was imperative, and demanded the services of all. Raleigh, Lane, and White had important positions assigned them, and all gained a reputation for valor. It was not, therefore, till two years later, that White was able to embark for the colony, and then without either men or provisions; as he expresses it, 'with only myself and my chest.'
The ships put to sea on the twentieth of March, and lingered among the West-India Islands till the last of July, when, proceeding on their voyage, they anchored off old Hatorask Inlet on the fifteenth of August. Here they descried a great smoke issuing from Roanoke, which gave White great hopes of meeting the friends he had left three years before. The party landed with much difficulty, explored the island, and found that the smoke proceeded from the burning of grass and dead trees. Footprints of savages were seen in the sand, but to the sound of their voices and their trumpet-calls there was no response.
Circumnavigating the island, they went to the north end, where a colony had been left, and where they saw letters cut in the bark of a tree, indicating that the settlers had gone to Croatan, (Cape Lookout.)
They found the fort deserted and dilapidated, and within it, guns, bars of iron, and lead, thrown on the ground, with weeds growing over them; and they afterward discovered buried in a trench, several chests, some containing property of White, and among it his own armor.
He was now anxious to proceed to Croatan, but a severe storm coming on compelled the ships, after losing men and anchors, to put to sea. As it continued, they bore away for home, leaving Roanoke to solitude.
It is probable that the colony found the Indians hostile, and despairing of relief from home, abandoned the island and proceeded to Croatan, where they ultimately perished. However, a writer who resided in the country more than a century after, says there were traditions among a tribe that inhabited the coast, that their ancestors were white people, and could talk in a book, and many of the children had gray eyes, which are never seen among natives of pure blood.
Raleigh is said to have sent three several times to ascertain their fate, but without any success. In some of the memoirs of the later Virginia settlements, which have recently been printed, there are references to persons said to have been recovered from Raleigh's colony on Roanoke, but they are indirect, and only show that tradition was busy with their fate. There can be no doubt every soul perished on this isolated coast.
The ancient history of Roanoke closed with the departure of Raleigh's last ship, and the natives resumed possession of their favorite spots.
The Chesapeake was entered, and Jamestown settled, in 1607; and although the bold explorer of the bay and rivers, Captain John Smith, was desirous of sending a party to look after the lost colony, it was never done. Years passed away, and the grant of Carolina embraced all the country once claimed and occupied by Raleigh and his colonists.
In 1653, an adventurer from Virginia, with a small craft, entered Currituck Inlet and visited Roanoke. Here he found residing a great Indian chief, with whom he made a treaty of peace and alliance, which led to a purchase of land and to a long intimacy. A house for the chief was built like the English dwellings, and his son was confided to the English to be educated. The young chief embraced Christianity, and was baptized.
At this time the ruins of Lane's fort were plainly visible, and the natives were familiar with its history.
The first permanent settlement in what is now North-Carolina, can not be traced to an earlier date than 1656. It was on the shores of Albermarle Sound, some forty miles from Roanoke.
Almost coëval with this came small vessels from New-England, to trade, first for furs and peltry, and soon after to exchange their own productions and those of the West-Indies for the tobacco, corn, naval stores, and lumber of the country; and for the succeeding century our people were almost entirely the merchants and carriers of all this region. As a consequence some of them permanently settled here, and many of the merchants of Boston held extensive tracts of land obtained by grants or purchase.
Our public records contain many references to these, and among others we find a grant of the Island of Roanoke, as early as 1676, to Joshua Lamb, of New-England. It would seem that it was then settled, and had houses and buildings,17 and probably had been occupied for many years, and perhaps antedated the settlements before referred to, thus making it the first place permanently settled in North-Carolina.
Lawson, the very truthful historian of this country, who wrote about 1700, says:
'A settlement had been begun on that part of Roanoke Island, where the ruins of a fort are to be seen this day, as well as some old English coins, which have been lately found, and a brass gun, and a powder-horn, and one small quarter-deck gun, made of iron staves, hooped with the same material, which method of making guns might probably be used in those days for infant colonies.'
In time, the settlers extended over the Island, and slowly and quietly partially cultivated it. They were from the humblest class. Slavery, with its consequences, never came here, and the small farms were 'worked' by their owners and their sons.
Many years ago the writer visited Roanoke. It was then, to a great extent, covered with its original growth of pines and oaks; the whole population, being only three or four hundred, a simple, industrious community, who alternated their agricultural labors with fishing in the adjacent waters, and sometimes navigating their small vessels to neighboring ports. He then visited the site of Lane's fort, the present remains of which are very slight, being merely the wreck of an embankment. This has at times been excavated by parties who hoped to find some deposit which would repay the trouble, but with little success, a vial of quicksilver being the only relic said to have been found. This article was doubtless to be used in discovering deposits of the precious metals by the old adventurers. While walking through the lonely forests the mind of the visitor is involuntarily carried back to the scenes that took place there, as well as to the actors who centuries ago passed away. Now silence broods over the place once so active with life, and nothing but nature remains, while the distant surf is ever sounding an everlasting requiem to the memory of the brave colonists.
If this brief history had been penned a year ago, the task would have ended here; but Roanoke has now another chapter to add to the annals of our country. The great rebellion of 1861 had overshadowed the land, and its instigators were endeavoring to overthrow a Government whose power had only been felt by them as the dew of heaven, and with as beneficent results. The authority of Government was called into action, and Roanoke Island once more felt the tread of armed men. Hatteras Inlet, now the principal entrance to these sounds, and well fortified by the insurgents, was in August of 1861, captured by the Federal forces. The rebels then concentrated at Roanoke, which is the key to Albemarle Sound, and an important military position. Here they assembled a large body of troops and erected strong fortifications, deeming themselves secure against any force that could be sent against them. General Burnside left the Chesapeake with a large fleet, and having succeeded in passing Hatteras Inlet and the bars which encircle it, sailed up the sound and came to anchor off the lower end of the Island on the sixth of February, 1862.
On the morning of the seventh the fleet under the command of Captain Goldsborough, attacked that of the enemy, and after a sharp cannonade, the rebel vessels were, with one exception, captured or destroyed. As soon as the naval action ceased, General Burnside landed his troops at the lower part of the island, where they were forced to wade through mud and water; but nothing could retard the valor of these New-England soldiers, who, pressing on toward the centre of the Island, carried the entrenchments and drove the enemy before them. The rebels retreated to the northern end of the island and surrendered as prisoners of war, in number about twenty-five hundred men, with all their stores and implements.
The fleet and army subsequently visited Edenton, Pascotank, the Chowan, Neuse, and Roanoke rivers, and planted the National flag over them—visiting nearly the same shores so long ago explored by Lane and his adventurers, and like him returning victorious to the headquarters at Roanoke Island.
'You are an unbelieving set of fellows, and though you admire my rings, my breastpin, and my studs, and though you willingly accept any stray gems that I occasionally offer you, still you sneer and laugh at my mine; but it is no laughing matter, and now that we are all here together, I suppose I may as well gratify you by telling you all about it. However, as the yarn is a long one, I will first of all put the cigars and the wine within reach, so that you can help yourselves during the recital.
'Soon after our forces had evacuated Mexico, on my return from a long, tedious journey across the Cordilleras, I hired, what for the city of Mexico, might be deemed sumptuous apartments, overlooking the Cathedral Square; so luxurious, in fact, that my Mexican friends were lavish in their praises, though I confess my American visitors said much less. But my domicil consisted of only two 'pieces,' one answering for both bedroom and parlor, while in the other I dressed. Never mind the latter, for it contained little else than one shelf, which was adorned with a brown earthen pitcher and a gourd cut in two, for all my washing. My drawing-room, however, deserves a more elaborate description. The walls were frescoed, in a peculiarly gorgeous style; garlands of flowers were represented as twining around piles of fruit, and it was hard to say whether the profusion of the fruit, or the colors of the flowers, were the severest tax on the imagination, though I always thought myself, that they were both surpassed by incredible swarms of impossible humming-birds, with very gold and silver wings. The floor was covered with bran new matting, and the bedstead of cedar-wood was also new, though the bullock-skin on which the mattress rested, had rather an antiquated air. Moreover, Ihad a pair of sheets which were not of a bad color, although slightly patched. In addition, there was a Madonna hanging on one wall, and a Saint looking at her from the other; and against a door near the foot of my bed, stood a rocking-chair, which on my conscience I believe must have been worth at least a dollar and a half. As the door was fastened up, this rocking-chair was the favorite resort of my first morning visitor, all subsequent callers having to choose between the window-sill, the matting, and the bedstead.
'As for the neatness and cleanliness of my sanctum, it was marvelous—for Mexico. I don't remember ever seeing more than ten scorpions at one time there, and two or three tarantulas on the ceiling were too much a matter of course to attract notice. Still, I had been so long away from civilized society, and endured so many privations, that I confess, notwithstanding the attractions that my home offered, I spent but little of my time there, for I was warmly received by several American families, and gladly availed myself of their hospitality and friendly attentions. To own the honest truth, ere a month had elapsed, I had so well compensated myself for past privations, that I had a serious attack of illness.
'To this illness was I indebted for my second interview with my worthy landlady, Donna Teresa Lopez, who had been invisible since the day on which my lucky stars first guided me to her roof. This worthy woman, who was somewhere between forty and sixty years of age, (Mexican women, be it understood, when once they pass thirty, enter on a career of the most ambiguous antiquity,) had two branches of business, of which she claimed a thorough knowledge—tobacco and medicine. My sickness, therefore, was to her a source of intense gratification. She was everlastingly bringing me some new remedy of her own invention, in spite of which, thanks be to God, and a good constitution, I at length rallied, and grew gradually convalescent.
'One night, while lying half-asleep and half-awake, dreamily promising myself, if the weather were favorable on the morrow, that I would venture out of doors, I fancied I heard a voice, muttering words in my own mother tongue. I rose, and resting on my elbow, listened attentively—but then a profound silence reigned around me. Persuaded, that feeble as I still was, I had mistaken a dream for a reality, I languidly let my head fall back upon my pillow. Scarcely a minute, however, had elapsed, ere a voice whose tone denoted anguish and distress, and which seemed to come from the middle of the room, exclaimed, in distinct English: 'My God! my God! take pity on my anguish, and in mercy help me!'
'Assured this time that I was no longer dreaming, I started up again, and laboring under much excitement, cried out: 'Who is there?'
'Again all was perfectly silent. Just as I was about to jump out of bed and explore the mystery, my eye fell upon a faint streak of light, which glimmered through a crack in the door behind my rocking-chair, near the foot of my bed. From the same direction, also, came the sound of a nervous, unequal, jerking tread, which fully explained a portion of the mystery. It was pretty evident, first, that I had a neighbor; secondly, that he spoke English; and thirdly, that he was either a somnambulist or a soliloquist.
'This discovery, ordinary and common-place enough in itself, for Englishmen and Americans are plentiful enough in Mexico now-a-days, still made a very serious impression on my mind, for the words I had overheard, and above all, the tone in which they were uttered, seemed to imply something mysterious, and to be the key-note of some dramatic fragment. For hours I tossed about, pondering over those words, and day was dawning ere I fell asleep.
'The entrance of my learned landlady with a cup brimful of her latest concoction, awoke me.
''Here, Señor,' said she, presenting the dose to me with a serene air of matronly confidence, 'Here, Señor, is a tea containing no less than seventeen different ingredients; and I have a presentiment that this is the very thing to perfect your cure.'
''Thank you a thousand times,' I said, 'but I feel perfectly well this morning.'
''That is no matter—'
''No matter! what is no matter?'
''Why, no matter how well you fancy you feel; this is a sovereign remedy, so just drink it off to please me.'
''For mercy's sake, Señora, put down your medicine, sit down in the rocking-chair and draw near to the bedside, for I have several questions to ask.
''How long has my present neighbor lodged with you, Señora,' said I, when she had duly ensconced herself. She gazed inquiringly at me, but when I pointed to the door behind her, she replied, with apparent nonchalance:
''Somewhere about three months.'
''And who is he?'
''That is a question I can not answer?'
''Because, over and above his rent, he paid me five dollars to hold my tongue.'
''If I were to offer you ten to let it go, how would it be then?'
''Ten dollars!' replied my hostess, in a ruminating tone of voice.
''Yes, ten dollars.'
''I should feel it my duty to my fatherless children to speak,' said this excellent mother of the bereaved heirs of the defunct Lopez. 'Yes—holy Virgin, forgive me—but I should feel bound to speak.'
''It is a bargain, then; Señora, proceed.'
''Your neighbor, Señor,' replied my hostess, in a low voice, 'is a heretic—an Englishman.'
''Not an American?'
''English or American—what is the difference, any way? I tell you he is a heretic, and you know we Mexicans make no difference between those heathens—we call them all Inglez.''
'The fair Teresa, I may remark, had always taken me for one of her fellow-countrymen, as I spoke the language fluently, and had been thoroughly sun-burnt years before.
''He arrived here, as I have already had the honor of saying, about three months since. He appears very sickly and exhausted, and from the look of his clothing I judge he had just returned from a long journey in the interior. 'Señora,' said he, when paying his bill in advance, 'I wish you to speak to no one of my residence in this house. I have no family, no country, and no name; I hate the world; I do not know a soul in this city, and I do not want to. I expect two inquiries to be made for me, one by a man, the other will be by a woman. I will not see any others. Should either of them call, their first salutation to you will be: 'The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.' Without that pass-word, I forbid you to allow any one to have access to my room.''
''Well, Señora Lopez, have these folks with the eternal pass-word turned up yet?'
''No, Excellency, during the whole three months he has not had a single visitor. Every morning when I take him his chocolate, he promises a dollar if I can find him a letter at the post-office. So every day I go, but unfortunately I have only found two for him in all that time.'
''But, of course, if you go for his letters, you must know his name, and surely you noticed where the two came from, which you received for him.'
''They were addressed to Albert Pride, and bore the stamp, 'New-Orleans.' But who knows whether that is his real name?'
''How does he spend his time?'
''He alone can answer that question. Since the first hour of his entering the house he has shut himself up in that room, and no one has seen him quit it. Between you and me, I confess candidly, that my opinion of him is by no means favorable. Why, would you believe, that though he is as thin as a rail and as pale as a ghost, he won't admit that he is even slightly indisposed. If I ask him about his symptoms, he gets angry; and if I offer him any of my specifics, he has the ill-manners to exclaim: 'Bosh! Oh! that man is a wicked fellow; I have no confidence in him!'
''Many thanks, Señora Lopez, for your information,' said I, handing her the promised reward'—vaya vm; con Dios!'
'After her departure I began to reflect that my own conduct had not been much less dishonorable than hers. What right had I to tear aside the vail of mystery in which my neighbor wished to wrap himself? I owned to myself that I was very clearly in the wrong. And yet, having made this concession to the claims of conscience, my fancy was busy putting together the scraps I had gleaned. The field of speculation was so vast and unbounded that I knew not where to stop. The starting-point was easy. Curiosity began by asking, Why the deuce, Albert Pride was so carefully hiding himself away in the city of Mexico? He must be a fellow-countryman; because an Englishman, no matter how branded at home, by fraud or dishonor, could boldly strut about New-Orleans or New-York, without submitting to voluntary self-imprisonment in the city of Mexico. Was he a fraudulent merchant, or a bank-defaulter? Good heavens! such gentlemen generally assume such a gracefulnonchalance, or else laugh at their little transactions so good-naturedly that such a supposition was ridiculous. Well, then, perhaps he had had a personal difficulty? I think that is the phrase, is it not, for sending a fellow-mortal on his last long journey? What of that? that even would be no reason for concealment, for once in Mexico, what had he to dread? Thus I went on, tormenting my mind with suppositions and conjectures without end, until at last I resolved to dispel my apparently inextricable tangle of mystery by taking a walk, as soon as I had finished my breakfast. Accordingly I sallied forth, turned my steps toward the Alameda, and at no great distance from one of the fountains I sat down on a bench, beneath the shade of one of the grand old trees.
'The Alameda, during the early part of the day, is perhaps the most unfrequented spot in the whole city of Mexico; in fact, almost deserted. It would be, therefore, unsafe to traverse, were it not that the absence of victims insured the stray loiterer against any well-grounded fear of robbers. Great, therefore, was my surprise at hearing, shortly after I had taken my seat, two persons in animated conversation behind the spot which I had selected. A thicket of climbing plants and prickly cactuses alone separated me from them; but while it prevented me from catching even a glimpse of their persons, I lost not one word of their conversation.
''Pedro,' said a full, sonorous voice, 'I am by no means satisfied with you. In the management of this business, you have shown a carelessness that I can not tolerate. Why, zounds! your acquaintance with Pepito was a most excellent pretext for gaining access to the enemy's camp. You might have pretended to be very anxious about Pepito, who I most heartily wish was at the devil, and what could be more natural than going to make inquiry after him?'
''Well, General, the fact is this,' said the invisible individual, who had been addressed as Pedro, 'much as I am attached to Pepito, I am by no means anxious to have a bullet through my brains.'
''Bullet through your brains! what do you mean?'
''Simply what I say. Now, look here, Señor General, the other day, last Friday, I succeeded in slipping, during the old woman's absence, to the door of the fellow's room. 'Who is there?' exclaimed the 'Inglez,' in a loud voice, just as I was about to give the third kick at his door. 'Me, Pedro,' I replied. 'Don't know you,' was the answer, 'you must have mistaken the room,' 'Not at all, Señor,' said I, 'I come to seek some tidings of my compadre, Pepito.' 'Tidings of Pepito,' repeated the Inglez, 'tidings of Pepito—wait—' So I did wait, congratulating myself on the success of my scheme, and handling my knife with a confident expectation of making sure work of my man, when I heard the floor creak, and looking through the key-hole, I saw the confounded Inglez cocking a pistol and putting a fresh cap on it. And do you know, General, it somehow happened that when he opened the door, I was at the bottom of the stairs.'
''Which means, Pedro, that you ran away like a coward as you are.'
''Coward!—nay, General, you must be joking. The truth is, I experienced a new sensation; I felt for the first time the emotion of fear; yes, that must have been what passed over me. It was something quite new to me, and for the moment I did not know what ailed me.'
''Idiot! do you suppose a foreigner would be fool enough to amuse himself by shooting a Mexican at mid-day, in the very heart of the capital?'
''Oh! I know very well, General, that it would cost him a small fortune, if he was rich, and his life if he was poor. But then these Inglez are so imprudent, so rash, so headstrong, and I felt that I had no wish to have a bullet in my head, just to put money into the pocket of the best judge in the city.'
''Nonsense; but about those papers. I must have them. What steps do you propose taking?'
''General and chief, were I to put my hand upon my heart, and tell you the sacred truth, I should say that I propose for a time to lie quiet and—do nothing.'
''Do nothing—lie quiet! Do you forget that I have paid you already one hundred dollars in advance, and that four hundred more are ready for you when your job is finished?'
''Oh! I know our bargain, General, and I have the greatest confidence in your honor. As for abandoning the enterprise, that I have never dreamed of; but the fact is, my motive in remaining inactive for a season is, that I am certain if I make a move now I shall be undoubtedly checked, perhaps mated.'
''Well—because I find at the monte-table, where I usually try my luck, that there has been for nearly a week a run on odd numbers. Now, I always remark that when there is a run on odds, I always lose in every thing I put my hand to. Stop, then, General, till the tables turn, and when I strike a new vein, you shall hear from your servant, Pedro.'
'Of course I waited, expecting to hear the General burst forth in violent denunciations on his servant, Pedro, or at any rate supposed he would ridicule such an excuse; but I was deceived.
''Well, Pedro, your excuse is not so bad; had you explained yourself at the outset, I should not have been so angry.'
'The Mexicans, it may be remarked, are influenced in the most important and momentous actions of their life, by superstition; this fact is readily explained, when we reflect that the vast majority of them are utterly devoid of the very first rudiments of education, and owe the position they occupy to the fortune of civil war or of the gambling-table. Except in the mere texture and richness of their costume, nothing else in that strange country of the grotesque and picturesque, distinguishes the man of rank from the beggar or the lazzaroni. In every class, in every rank, you meet with the same simplicity, the same vanity, the same prejudices, the same superstition, the same purity of language, the same grace of elocution. The beggar, wrapped in his tatters, displays the self-same exquisite polish of manners, the same courteous bearing, as the senator or the millionaire, in velvet and gold. After all, it must be ever remembered that perhaps the senator was once a beggar, and that ere long the beggar may be a senator. One or two lucky hits at monte, and in a few, short hours, lo! the metamorphosis is complete.'
'You can readily believe that the conversation I had thus overheard interested me greatly; however the promptings of curiosity would have riveted me to my seat, the dictates of prudence warned me to retire as quickly and stealthily as possible.
'With a tread as noiseless as practicable, I therefore turned my footsteps to the main avenue, and keeping an eye always on the spot I had left, I took another seat near the main entrance. Not much more than a quarter of an hour could have elapsed, when along the same path I had myself taken, I saw two men approaching. One of them was a tall and very handsome man; he flourished in his hand a cane with massive gold head, and walked with a military air, in fact, with the air of a hero and a conqueror; perfectly well-dressed, in the latest European fashion; indeed, had it not been for the immense profusion of gold chain, and sparkling rings upon his fingers, instead of gloves, you might have almost mistaken him for agentleman. His companion presented the most striking contrast. His face, shaded by a torn, slouched hat, was dirty and coffee-colored. Of short stature, slight build, and round-shouldered, he followed his master, with an humble, abject look, and from his tread, you would almost have imagined that he was anxious not to leave any track behind, of his footsteps on the gravel walk. A velvet cloak, so worn and patched that a lazzaroni would only have yielded to the temptation of stealing it, from a love of art and not from any hope of its being of any earthly use to him, was thrown across his shoulders, beneath which appeared pantaloons ornamented on the outer seam of each leg with long-shanked brass buttons, covered with verdigris, and boots of Spanish leather, outrageously dilapidated.
'As they drew nearer to my seat, I became more and more impressed that the handsome flourisher of the gold-headed cane was not unknown to me. I was not mistaken, for as he passed me his eye caught mine, and with a friendly wave of the hand, he honored me with a most polite recognition. It was General Valiente, one of the most celebrated or rather notorious 'ladies' men' in Mexico.
'From the fact of his companion having addressed him as General, and from the direction in which I had watched them come, I was at no loss to identify General Valiente and his companion with the invisible talkers who had so unwittingly imparted their secrets to me.
'I noticed that immediately on leaving the Alameda, General Valiente and his friend Pedro separated, without further parley, and each took directly opposite roads.
'This adventure took firm hold of my mind, and for nearly two hours I remained seated in the Alameda, revolving it over and over. Personally, I knew but little of this General Valiente; but by hearsay, much. His name was connected with various strange stories, in which jealous husbands, duels, poniards, and poison figured very largely, and it had been hinted that had Eugene Sue been acquainted with Valiente, there might have been forthcoming one of the most intensely interesting histories relative to the mysteries of Mexico.
'Time passed on, until the promptings of an empty stomach began to remind me that my dinner-hour was at hand, if not already passed; but I still sat there, ruminating. At last, however, I arose, and slowly walked up the magnificent Calle des Plateros, which leads directly into the Cathedral Square. Whilst thus sauntering along, my gaze fell on a young and lovely female, whose eyes were intently fixed on me, and who, I fancied, to my extreme surprise, was preparing to address me. Fearing, however, that I might be laboring under a delusion, and dreading to involve myself in a ridiculous dilemma, although I had instinctively almost halted, I quickened my step, when, to my great delight, she stepped toward me, her lovely face suffused with blushes.
'Doubt was at an end. Raising my hat, and approaching her most respectfully, I inquired if fortune had so favored me as to enable me to be of any possible service to her, and if so, I was at her orders.
''Señor, I have simply to beg some information; can you direct me which street will lead me to the Cathedral Square?'
''I am myself going thither, Señora, and if you will permit me to walk beside you, I shall be most happy to show you the way.'
'For a few moments, she hesitated, and I seized the opportunity to examine her more attentively. Hair as black as the raven's wing, large blue eyes, a face perfectly oval, a mouth of the smallest and the most expressive mold, lips the reddest and most faultless it is possible to imagine, composed the details of the lovely whole, which at the first glimpse had dazzled and attracted me. Probably my respectful admiration was legible on my countenance, for after a few seconds, the youthful beauty accepted my proffered guidance.
''Would you deem me too impertinent, were I to ask you one question, Señora?' said I, after we had proceeded a few steps.
''Of course that will in a great measure depend on the question you are about to ask,' she replied, giving at the same time a sweet smile.
''Are you a native of Mexico, Señora?'
''No, Señor,' answered she, after a momentary pause, 'I am not a Mexican; but may I, in return, inquire what induced you to doubt it?'
''Madame, if you will excuse my candor, my doubts were excited by your Spanish.'
''O Señor! I am aware that I speak it very poorly.'
''If I am not greatly mistaken, you are a native of la belle France.'
'The beautiful stranger turned pale. 'What possible interest, Señor, can it be to you as to who or what I am?' This she asked with an earnest look, so piercing and fixed as to astonish me in any woman.
''No interest, madame, but it would be a pleasure; for my mother's ancestors were French, and I am, therefore, ever happy to have an opportunity to be of any service to one whom I am permitted to look upon as in some degree a country-woman.'
''I am not from France, Señor, although my ancestry, like yours, is French. I am a native of New-Orleans.'
''Better still, madame,' Said I, 'for then I am indeed your fellow-countryman; for I was born in the Sunny South, not far distant from Mobile—but, madame, I fear you feel ill?'
''Oh! no—ill—it is nothing—the heat—and I am fatigued, sir; pray, are we far from the Cathedral Square?'
''Three minutes more will bring us to it, madame; you can already see the steps of the cathedral.'
''Then, sir, I have only to thank you for your kindness,' she replied, bowing her head most gracefully.
'There was no mistaking her thanks for any thing but a desire to dismiss me, so I once more bowed to her, and she, to dispel every possibility of doubt, quickened her pace, so as to be rid of me as soon as possible.
'Without altering my gait, I pursued the even tenor of my way, when, what was my surprise to see her stop before the door of my domicile.
'As she was in the act of ascending the steps, she turned round, and as I was not many yards behind her, it happened that I was the first person who met her eye. I noticed she seemed for a few moments to hesitate, and then apparently obeying some sudden impulse, she walked toward me.
''Sir,' said she, with the same earnest, piercing glance, which had before struck me; 'Sir, this conduct is neither polite nor honorable, and if you really are an American, you must know that to play the spy on a lone female is not manly.'
''Good heavens! madame,' said I, as coolly as possible, 'perhaps you will allow me to explain, that my conduct is simply that of a man who is returning home to dine.'
''Home! why, is this your residence?'
''Exactly so, madame.'
'This explanation evidently annoyed her, but she added coldly:
''Excuse, then, sir, the error into which my hastiness has betrayed me. I regret my ill-judged impetuosity. May I inquire, sir, if you are acquainted with any of the persons dwelling in this house?'
''With the exception of Donna Lopez, the landlady, I do not know a single soul.'
''Would you inform her, sir, that I wish to speak with her?'
''With much pleasure.'
'Opening the door, I immediately proceeded to summon Donna Teresa.
''Señora,' said I, 'here is a lady who is anxious to see you.'
'My beauteous countrywoman gave a most expressive look, which very clearly signified that my instant departure would be satisfactory to her feelings, but my curiosity was so far kindled that I pretended not to understand, but remained standing near the door. My want of tact seemed once more to vex her, but after a moment's reflection, she addressed the worthy Teresa.
''Señora,' said she, in a low voice, but still not so low but I could overhear, 'The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.'
''If you will follow me, Señora, I will show you to Mr. Albert Pride's rooms,' said mine hostess, as she led the way up-stairs.
''Well, Doctor of mine,' said I, addressing the disinterested Teresa, when after a delay of some twenty minutes she appeared with my dinner, 'what do you think of our last new arrival? Matters are beginning to grow a little complicated.'
''What do I think? Why, I think that she is marvelously beautiful; such a perfect beauty I never saw before. But yet, her eye displeases me.'
''That, allow me to remark, is not a very logical conclusion.'
''Oh! as for a logical conclusion, I don't know what that is; but I know just what I feel, though perhaps I can't tell you in words, why I do feel so; but I am candid, I am; and I tell you, I don't like her eye.'
'After Donna Teresa's departure, I sat with the book which usually served me as a companion at meal-times, wide open on the table, but it remained unread. My strange encounter with this beautiful stranger had taken entire possession of my mind. What could be the link between her and this Albert Pride, who had for three months been awaiting her arrival? Why should she be as anxious as he to avoid recognition? For every thing conspired to prove this—her emotion when I asked if she were French, her pallor and faintness when I claimed to be a fellow-citizen, her indignation at the thought of my playing the spy upon her, and her hesitation to speak in my presence to Donna Lopez—all tended to show she desired to preserve the strictest incognito.
'The convent-bells of all Mexico were ringing the Angelus, and I was still seated at the dinner-table, absorbed in deep thought. My imagination had been so racked that it passed from the domain of the real, and reveled in the most fantastic regions of the ideal, and it required a strong effort of the will to bring back my mind to the dull matter-of-fact aspects of actual life.
'As the evening promised to be magnificent, I determined to refresh my mind by taking a brisk walk.
'Passing down the Calle del Arco, I met an acquaintance, at whose solicitation I entered one of the most fashionably-frequented gambling-houses in the city; it was about nine o'clock, and quite a number of players were assembled.
'Soon after taking my stand at the board of green cloth, so as to have a good view of the game, and to watch the conflicting emotions depicted on the countenances of these devotees of the fickle goddess, I felt a gentle tap on the shoulder, and turning round, beheld at my side General Valiente.
''Would you, Señor Rideau, have the goodness to give me an ounce in exchange for sixteen dollars?'
''Certainly, General.' And I immediately handed it to him, placing the dollars he gave me in return, on the table immediately before me.
''You had better see if it is all right,' said he.
''It is not necessary, General.'
''Oh! I beg of you to count them, an error is so easily committed.'
'Accordingly I counted the pile, and found there were only fifteen.
''You see now, Señor, how necessary it is to be particular. I am delighted now that I pressed upon you to examine them; you see I owe you a dollar.' Saying which, he turned to the table and put down his stake.
'After two or three games, I suggested to my friend that it was about time to leave, but before retiring, I just put down five dollars as my one offering to chance. A very short suspense was all that I had to endure, for in a minute my card won.
'The croupier, after raking in his winnings and paying two or three of his losses, took up my stake, and after quietly glancing at each coin, held them out toward me, and said:
''I do not feel bound to pay.'
''Why not, I should like to know?'
''Because, Caballero, your dollars are spurious.'
''General Valiente,' said I, raising my voice, 'here is this croupier pretending that the money I received from you just now, is false.'
''The croupier is an impertinent rascal, whose ears I would crop off if I had him any where else than where we are,' said the General. 'As for your dollars, my dear Caballero, I really can not vouch for their purity, you know there are such gangs of counterfeiters throughout the country. You see how far I was right in begging you to examine them just now. This little accident now will impress it on your mind and make you more cautious in future.'
'I knew too much of Mexican life to be surprised at this cool reply. As for resenting the General's conduct, I did not for an instant dream of it. Military men in Mexico assume, and in fact enjoy such extensive privileges, that to have made a fuss about such a trifle would been looked on by all civilians as sheer madness. I therefore merely examined my pile very carefully, and congratulated myself at finding that three out of the fifteen were genuine. It was very evident that despite his very sound advice, my friend General Valiente had neglected to examine them with any great nicety.
'While thus engaged, the clocks struck ten, and at the sound the players arose to stretch their legs and take part in the interlude. Servants appeared with what passed for refreshments, that is to say, tumblers and decanters containing three or four different kinds of liquor, all of domestic manufacture, and which differed only in their colors. Glasses and decanters soon circulated freely, and each man helped himself without stint.
'Seated near the door, chatting to two or three Americans, my attention was attracted by the entrance of a ranchero, gayly dressed in the rich national costume of the country. His jaunty air amused me, and I moreover fancied I recognized his features. After running his eye over the assemblage, his countenance brightened up, and with an air of boldness he walked directly toward a window, where with his back to us, was standing my delectable friend, the General.
'I can scarcely define the feeling which prompted me, but instinctively I changed my seat for one not far distant from the window.
'On beholding the ranchero, Valiente was unable to suppress an outburst of ill-humor.
''What do you come here for, Pedro?' said he, lowering his voice; 'you know well enough that I have forbidden you to accost me in public.'
'This flattering reception, however, did not disturb Pedro's equanimity.
''Before you fly off into a passion, General,' said he, 'perhaps you will deign to cast a glance at my change of attire. How does it strike you?'
''Oh! good enough, good enough, Pedro, but—'
''Suits me admirably, I think, don't you? I need not say it's the first-fruits of a lucky hit. The run on the odds gave up, and I went in and won twice running on the evens. I find it impossible to express to you, General, my delight, the intense joy I experienced, when I threw that villainous old suit of mine out of the window, it was a hideous abomination, and I really felt ashamed to walk with you this morning across the Alameda. But now luck has changed; Pedro and the evens win, and I feel ready to undertake what other men might deem impossibilities.'
''I am very glad your luck has turned, Pedro, and I appreciate your willingness to act; but as I before told you, you must not be seen talking to me, thus publicly, so be off quickly.'
''Yes, I know all that, General, but first let me hand you a letter that I received just now from Brown and Hunt.'
''Hush! Are you drunk or mad, to mention names in such a place as this?'
'The General looked around him, but the precision with which I was comparing my watch with the clock over the mantelpiece, saved me from suspicion, and he resumed his conversation, in a voice which evidently betokened suppressed rage.
''Listen, Pedro; twice have I expressly forbidden you holding any communication with that firm; beware, lest I find you daring again to disobey me. This once more I will overlook it; but keep this well in mind, that it is far better to have me for your friend than your enemy. Now not another word; begone!'
'Pedro, whose consequential air had gradually faded into one of deep humility, as soon as the General ceased speaking, bowed very low and left without uttering a sound. The voice of the croupier was soon heard announcing that the monte would recommence, and yielding to the pressing invitation of those around me, I resumed my position at the table.
'It was past midnight ere the bank closed, and I rose the winner of some ten ounces. Not being at all ambitious of exciting the cupidity of the less fortunate brethren around me, I was very particular in intrusting all my money to the croupier and taking his receipt for it, payable to my order. This precaution settled in the most public manner, I bade my friends good night.
'At the foot of the stairs I found General Valiente waiting for me, apparently, for he accosted me in the most gracious tone, and bowed with the most exquisite air of well-bred politeness.
''Believe me, Señor Rideau, I feel extremely mortified about that little affair of the counterfeit dollars.'
''You are altogether too considerate, General, to think about the matter in any way.'
''O Señor! such a circumstance jars upon my feelings; those confounded villains! we must have a strong government, and make an example of some of them. I feel anxious to make amends to you—something more than a mere apology. Now an idea struck me as I came down-stairs. Will you oblige me by allowing me to buy the spurious dollars? Well, now, suppose I give you four good ones, it will be so much out of the fire.'
''Willingly, General, most willingly; but the fact is, I can only return you twelve; I have a particular use for the other three.'
''Ah! you sly rogue, you passed off three on the croupier, eh? Well, that is not so bad.'
''General, you flatter me too highly. I assure you I have a special purpose for three of them.'
''Oh! well,' said he, 'it is not of the least importance; I happen to have four dollars in my pocket, and I will give them to you in exchange for your twelve, rather than see a friend lose all.'
''General, I thank you a thousand times; here are your twelve counterfeits.'
''O Señor! pray do not mention thanks; between caballeros, there is no need for thanks; I have only done the right thing; here are four genuine dollars. Good-night—pleasant dreams.'
'Half-past twelve was striking as I reached, without further adventure, the door of my habitation.
''Who is there?' cried I, as I suddenly beheld, a few steps from the door, wrapped in a large cloak, leaning against the railing, a tall man.
'The unknown made no reply. I therefore stepped back and drew out my revolver. Dialogues carried on by knives and fire-arms are by no means of rare occurrence at mid-night in the streets of Mexico; but I was anxious, ere proceeding to extremities, to have a good look at my antagonist. Although the Cathedral Square was illumined by a magnificent moonlight, still I could not succeed. His hat was forced down over his brow; his ample cloak was raised, and the folds covered the lower portion of his face entirely. I could distinguish only a pair of glaring eyes, and also discover that his long hair, which nearly reached his shoulders, was almost perfectly white.
'The contemptuous silence and disdainful listlessness of my cloaked adversary tended rather to enrage than calm me; so, with my revolver in full view, and my arm stretched forth, I advanced toward him.
''I have already once demanded who you are, and you have not seen fit to answer me. As I intend entering this house, and can not do so in safety, since you block my passage, and may have a dagger hidden beneath your cloak, I warn you, unless you clear the way, I shall be obliged to proceed to violent means to enforce my demand.'
'Whether the unknown was duly impressed with wholesome prudence, by the tone of my voice and the sight of my pistol; whether, finding he had woke up the wrong customer, he determined to change his tactics; or whether he had no sinister motives, I could not then determine; suffice it to say, he evacuated the disputed territory, and with a measured and majestic step, moved away some eight or ten paces, reminding me of a stage bandit, in some Bowery melodrama.
'Keeping my face toward him, and letting no movement of his body escape me, I knocked loudly at the door, and in a minute more Donna Lopez herself opened it, and I entered.
'Mexican houses all are provided with two doors, and my hostess and I had not crossed the vestibule leading to the inner one, when the knocker fell on the outer door, with a force that fairly startled the obese Teresa.
''Holy Virgin!' exclaimed she, 'who can be there at this hour? But angels defend us, why, Señor, have you your pistol in your hand?'
'In a few words, I explained to her the adventure which had befallen me at the door; but ere I had fairly ended, the door shook with the increased violence with which the knocker now fell upon it. I rushed forward to open it.
''For mercy's sake, Señor, be prudent; do not open it,' said my terrified hostess, 'wait—wait, I will go myself.'
'Poor Donna Teresa, overpowered by fear, was slower than even was her custom, in obeying the impetuous summons, and as she reached the door, it shook for the third time beneath the rapid blows of the knocker.
'Who is there?' said she, in a faltering tone, opening a little slide which was so protected by bars and cross-bars as to prevent the intrusion of a dagger or even the muzzle of a pistol; 'who is there?'
''The price of liberty is eternal vigilance,' was the answer from without.
'Donna Lopez looked at me with terror and amazement.
''This must be the man Señor Pride has been so impatiently waiting for during the past three months,' said she, 'he must be admitted.'
''One moment, Señora, let me first put one question to this impetuous stranger; perchance he may have uttered these words without knowing their full import.'
''Friend,' said I, approaching the grating, 'it is very true that 'the price of liberty is eternal vigilance;' but allow me to suggest that this is not a very appropriate hour for uttering truisms, however excellent, especially in the way you do. Let peaceable people retire to rest, and take my advice and get you to your own home.'
''I must see Albert Pride without delay; imminent danger threatens him. If you persist in refusing me admittance, on your head be the consequences.'
'This reply dissipated all doubt. I opened the door immediately. A man, wrapped in a large cloak, entered, whom I instantly recognized as the same person I had found leaning against the rails. His face, no longer concealed, betrayed evidence of deep emotion.
'Taking a small lamp in her hand, Donna Teresa, after casting a piteous glance toward me, as though she were begging me not to lose sight of them, told the stranger to follow her, and she would show him the way. He followed, without uttering a word.
''This is the door of Señor Pride's room,' said she, on reaching the head of the stairs.
''Señora,' said the stranger, 'it may be that he is a sound sleeper, and may not answer my first rap. I will therefore, with your permission, take the lamp, and will not detain you longer.'
'How far this proposition suited my worthy hostess, I can not say; at any rate, she made no opposition. As we retired, we heard a firm hand rattling the handle of Pride's door.
'The sleeping-room I occupied, although contiguous to and on the same floor with Albert Pride's, was reached by another staircase. It was very narrow; but I was so familiar now with the house, that I did not wait for my hostess to bring a light, especially as I had candles in my room. As I entered my room, I fancied I heard a gentle tapping at the door, which was closed up near the foot of my bed, and to which I have already alluded. If opened, I knew it must lead into Pride's apartments.
'Again I heard the tapping, and exclaimed: 'Who is there?'
''Open the door, for Heaven's sake, open the door,' was the reply, in a low tone; 'quick, my life is in danger!'
'I approached the door, and in equally low tones asked: 'Who are you?'
''A woman—but quick, open—open the door, for every moment is precious. I tell you my life is at stake!'
'It seemed to me it was rather a time for action than for explanations, so, taking an excellent Spanish dagger, which I had had in my possession many years, I succeeded in wrenching out the two staples which fastened the door on my side, and then putting my mouth to the key-hole, I asked: 'Have you the key?'
''Then unlock the door, and bring the key with you to this side.'
'A few moments more, and a woman, to judge from the lightness of the tread, for I was still without light, precipitated herself into, rather than entered, the room.
''Oh! thanks; from my heart I thank you, Señor, whoever you are; I owe my life to your kind assistance.'
'The sound of her voice, which I at once recognized, changed the suspicion which had from the first moment flashed upon my mind, into full assurance.
''Do not be afraid, madame,' said I, 'you are in perfect safety here. Do you lock the door, while I look to my candles.'
'The first object my candle brought to light was the pale but still charming face of my beautiful country-woman.
''You, sir!' she exclaimed, scarcely able to suppress her astonishment. 'In mercy I implore you, save me from the fury of my husband.'
''Of Mr. Albert Pride?'
''No, sir, Albert is not my husband; but, listen!—do you not hear?—they are quarreling—they are struggling.'
'I listened. She was not mistaken. In spite of the two partitions which separated us from the scene of this angry interview, we distinctly heard the furious accents of passion. All at once a violent shock made the wall—thin enough, it is true—creak and rattle; then, a moment afterward, we heard the fall as of a body, accompanied with a low moan.
''Albert is dead! He has murdered him; but woe be to him. I will be revenged yet,' exclaimed my companion, her eyes glaring with unearthly fire.
'At this moment, hasty footsteps sounded in the adjoining room, which I subsequently discovered was Pride's bed-chamber.
''Sir,' said a voice choked with anger, 'you are a coward, and shall give me satisfaction for this insult.'
''You brought it on yourself, by your own obstinacy. Had you not opposed my entrance to this room, I should not have used violence towardyou, at any rate. As for the satisfaction you claim, I will think about that.'
''Well, you see that your wife is not here,' replied Albert, after a short silence, during which we could hear the furniture being moved, closets opened, and the curtain-rings rattle.
''True, sir; but her absence only proves one thing, that in one particular I have been misinformed.'
''Confess rather, egregiously duped.'
''Duped!—nay, you are the dupe. Will you, Arthur Livermore, give me your word of honor as a gentleman, that my wife, Adéle Percival, has not followed you to Mexico? Will you deny that she is now your mistress?'
''Yes, sir, I give you my word of honor,' replied Albert or Arthur, in a low, husky voice.
''And I tell you, Arthur Livermore, to your teeth, you are a miserable, contemptible liar! Nay, seek not to deny it, it is useless; for I hold here the proof, in your own writing. Look, here is your last letter; it arrived two days after Adéle left New-Orleans. You acknowledge that—for you turn pale at your own treachery. I bribed the tool who acted as your go-between, so you see I attached some importance to securing proof. You spoke, I think, of being duped. Arthur, I am amazed at your effrontery; but I wait to hear your defense.'
'A fresh silence followed this outburst of the outraged husband, a silence which was only broken by the heavy, rapid breathing of the two adversaries.
''You must indeed have passionately loved that woman, or you, Arthur, could never have been led to forswear your word of honor. O Arthur, Arthur! be warned; I swear to you before heaven, that woman, with all her beauty—a beauty that I once deemed angelic—is possessed by devils whose name is legion; her heart is the receptacle of a monstrous, hideous crowd of vices—vices the most opposite, there nestle together: brazen effrontery and cringing cowardice; sordid cupidity and the most lavish, reckless prodigality. With her, every act is the result of deep, cool calculation. No generous impulse ever beat within her breast; and love, except for self, never yet was awakened from its deathlike torpor. She married me because I was reputed rich; she deserted me because she deemed me ruined. What motive impelled her to follow you to Mexico, I know not. But of this I warn you, rest assured it is not love for you—you perchance, may be useful to her; the necessary instrument to further some new scheme. But remember General Ramiro's fate, and take heed lest you be the next dupe—the next victim.'
'I turned involuntarily toward the youthful creature beside me, as her husband's voice ceased to ring on my ears. Despite the mastery she exercised over her feelings, I nevertheless perceived she trembled; but who, save the Judge of all, can tell whether it arose from fear, rage, or the first emotion of repentance.
''Mr. Percival,' replied my neighbor, in a constrained voice, 'this interview, after the violence which commenced it, must naturally be most painful to me, and I presume equally so to you. Allow me, in as few words as possible, to bring it to a close. I own that I was wrong in pledging my word of honor to what was not wholly true. Until you claimed Adéle here this night, as your wife, I had for months supposed you had abandoned all title to the name of husband; that you had mutually consented to a divorce, and under that impression I denied that Adéle was my mistress, for in February last, I was married to her at Baton Rouge. In presence of the proofs you possess, it were useless to deny that Adéle is at this moment in this city. I have seen her this very day, and I own that I know where she resides. More than this, it will be useless for you to attempt to extort from me. I refuse beforehand to answer any further interrogatory. I can fully conceive the hatred my presence must inspire within your breast; I will not even pretend to regret it; for this hatred, springing from a sense of dishonor, will preclude the possibility of any thing save the death of one of us, terminating the appeal for satisfaction which I have already claimed. I have done, sir, and wait your reply.'
'Some seconds elapsed ere Adéle's husband replied. His voice had grown calmer and more restrained, and I imagined that he had recovered his self-control.
''Arthur,' said he, 'I shall not challenge you, neither will I accept a challenge from you.'
''You refuse to meet me,' said my neighbor, 'and for what reason?'
''Because I do not hate, I merely pity you; because he who first defiled my home, lies in his sandy grave beside the waters of Lake Ponchartrain; because beside that grave I vowed to my Maker and my God never again to dare to take into these blood-stained hands the holy scales of justice. Yes, Arthur, it is four long years since I sent that wretched victim of that woman to his last solemn reckoning. Look at me to-day; my locks are white; 'tis not with age: I have not yet lived out the half of man's allotted span on earth. But that bleeding corpse; the trickling, oozing drops from out that breast; the gurgling sound of the unuttered death-words of Adéle's first seducer—these have made me prematurely old. Oh! woe to him who dares to seek and takes revenge. Vengeance has been claimed as Heaven's sole, supreme prerogative. Arthur, I must, I do refuse your challenge.'
''Sir, I shall not deign to notice your calumnies about Adéle, for I am anxious to terminate this interview. May I ask why you seek to prolong it, and why, if you so loathe Adéle, you persecute me by following her?'
''Because I am resolved on two points—to see her, and to learn from her where she has secreted our child.'
''Unless you pledge yourself, Mr. Percival, not to make any further attempt to see Adéle, you shall not, if I can prevent, leave this room alive.'
''Oh! oh! finding I won't fight, you fancy you can frighten me by threats of assassination. It is rather creditable to your ingenuity, Mr. Livermore, but I had provided for such a contingency. The United States Minister has been apprized of my arrival, and I left certain papers with his Secretary to be opened to-morrow, in case I should not return by noon, explaining our mutual relations very concisely yet definitely. Now you know that the Mexican idea of justice, though lenient in the extreme to natives, is just as extremely severe to foreigners, so that I would hardly advise you to tempt the gallows, unless, indeed, you have less objection to suicide, for I really think that is the only way you can possibly cheat the hangman, unless you condescend to allow me to pay my respects to the American Legation to-morrow, in the forenoon.'
'On the stage, especially in the sanguinary melodrama, it is astonishing how little respect is paid to the gallows; but somehow in the humbler walks of every day life, it exercises a very salutary, deterring influence on a very large class of minds; and I was, therefore, in no way surprised to hear my neighbor resume the conversation in a tone decidedly an octave or two lower.
''You have entirely misinterpreted my meaning. I may have thought of here forcing a quarrel on you, but the commission of the crime you dare insinuate, never entered my brain. But, now, sir, one last question: Why do you persist in seeking an interview with the woman you pretend to hate?'
''Pretend to hate! nay, there is no pretense, I hate, detest, and loathe her; not because she betrayed me; not because she stained an honorable name; not because she made me kill her lover; not because she has ruined my happiness; but because knowing—feeling all this, and more than words have power to convey—because knowing her infamy and shame, I still, still love her.'
''You love her still!' cried Arthur. 'Oh! thanks for that one avowal; that explains fully the bitterness with which you calumniate her.'
''Calumniate her! oh! that were impossible for the very basest fiend to do. But I was wrong to desecrate the word, and say I love her. No, no; I tell you I hate her, I loathe her; but in spite of hatred, in spite of loathing, she exercises over my imagination an irresistible fascination—a fascination you can never feel in that intensity which haunts my dreams of early manhood. You knew her not a guileless, artless girl just blooming into early maidenhood. But enough of these maddening memories of the past. It were better, doubtless, that I never see her more, for in my hatred I might kill her. But mark you, Arthur, I will find my child; she is now the only tie that binds me to humanity; the only link that chains me to this mortal coil which men call life. I must have my darling child. The day after to-morrow I will return here to know where she is secreted; if that be divulged to me, I swear by all that men hold as sacred, whether in heaven or earth, to depart in peace, and leave you to your fate, and Adéle to the vengeance of the Most High. Adieu.'
''Farewell. You shall be told all that you require,' said my neighbor.
''Oh! excuse me,' said Percival, returning, 'where does this door lead to?'
''To some room to which I have never had access.'
''Occupied by whom?'
''I do not know.'
'A violent blow, which we had not expected, was given on the door, close to which we were standing, listening. I instantly retreated to my bed. Adéle remained motionless as a statue; and when the second blow fell upon the panels, I cried out most lustily:
''Who the deuce is there?' mingling therewith, moreover, sundry forcible Spanish expletives.
''No one. Excuse me, Señor, I mistook the door.'
''Well, clear out, and don't do it again!' I retorted.
''Please show me the way out of this house, Mr. Livermore,' was all we heard, until after a painful pause the street-door was closed, and Arthur's footstep sounded returning up-stairs. I looked fixedly at my companion; her face wore a deathlike pallor, but a soft, melancholy smile played upon her lips.
''Poor Edmund!' said she, in a sad, soft tone, 'despite the wrongs I have endured at his hands, the jealousy he has now evinced is such a proof of his undying love, that I am almost constrained to forgive his former cruelty.' Adéle gave vent to a sigh, and added, with downcast eyes:
''The world, doubtless, will blame me; they will believe every charge, scout every palliative plea. For a season, I must endure its frown, and resign my will to drink the bitter cup of scorn and contumely; for I have gone astray, I have sinned against the judgment of my fellow-mortals; and yet, oh! it were so easy to gain sympathy, were I to disclose the secrets of the inner dungeons of my prison-house—that spot which poets sing as blessed—Home! O man, man! there is no place like home, but how readily may it be turned into a hell—for—a wife!'
'I was still weak—nervous; and her words breathed such tones of bitter anguish, and her whole frame evinced such tokens of emotion, that in spite of all that I had overheard, tears welled up to my eyelids, and compassion overcame my still lurking distrust; her sobs alone broke the silence which ensued, and I was never in my life more painfully embarrassed. Fortunately the return of my neighbor relieved me from my peculiar predicament. No sooner did Adéle hear him enter the adjoining room, than she opened the door of communication, and threw herself upon his breast.
''Dearest Arthur,' said she, the tears still running down her cheeks, 'how fearfully you must have suffered throughout this long interview!'
''Oh! fear not, Adéle, all will yet be well. I will protect you and avenge your wrongs.'
''Fear not?' said she, 'do you think that I dread death for my own sake? No, Arthur, death is nothing terrible to me now.'
'Then suddenly appearing to become conscious of my presence, they both seized me by the hands and overwhelmed me with the profusion of their thanks.
''Any one would have acted precisely as I have, under similar circumstances. I therefore beg you to spare me from further thanks. But, my dear sir, do you feel ill? Madame, allow me to support Mr. Livermore.'
'A sudden change came over his features; a deathlike paleness overspread his countenance, his eyelids became half-closed, his breathing grew short, his hands clenched, and a nervous tremor shook his entire frame. For a few moments I feared he was at the point of death. I promptly assisted him to his couch.
''Are you surgeon enough to bleed him?' inquired Adéle.
''Yes, I will not hesitate if you desire me to do so.'
'We soon divested Arthur of his coat, stripped his arm, and while I went in search of an impromptu lancet, Adéle prepared the needful bandages.
''Be quick, I implore you,' said she. 'Once before I saw him as he now is; there is not a moment to be lost.'
'Need I confess that the entrance of a guardian angel in the shape of a skillful disciple of Esculapius would have been hailed by me as an especial joy? However, no such angel came, neither was he within call; so as the danger struck me as imminent, and his condition appeared growing every moment more critical, I argued, without bleeding he would undoubtedly die, whereas by my attempt, however clumsy, he might rally. I plucked up my courage to the sticking-point, and stuck my patient. I drew several ounces of blood. My fair assistant displayed the most undeniable, I can hardly say irreproachable, coolness, for really, to my fancy, she was a little too much self-possessed. As soon as the bandages were applied, Arthur's consciousness returned.
''Ah! thanks, thanks,' said he, addressing me in a low, faltering tone. 'The crisis has now passed.'
''Over-excitement, doubtless, produced it?'
''Yes,' said he, 'any excitement is dangerous for one like me. You see in me a man condemned to death by every member of the faculty that I have ever consulted. I dare say you mean kindly, and by that look of incredulity, you would seek to comfort me.'
''Well, doctors are often mistaken,' I said.
''True; but I am convinced their predictions in my case will be literally fulfilled, for when this terrible disease of the heart once lays its hold upon a man, it never relaxes its deadly grasp. But,' said he, raising himself to a sitting posture, 'but I will not die, I must live. One fixed purpose, one great aim sustains me, and I feel that till I have accomplished this, the thread of life, frail as I know it is, strained as I feel it oft to be, still, still I have a firm presentiment it will hold out.'
''Arthur, dear Arthur!' broke in the voice of Adéle, as she leaned over his shoulder, 'you know after such a paroxysm, repose is necessary. No more conversation to-night; strive to calm your nerves, and to enjoy the tranquil influence of sleep. Do this, I beg, I implore you.'
'With the docility of a petted child he yielded, and reclining his head upon his pillow, soon sank into a deep sleep. It was now verging upon three o'clock, and at my solicitation Adéle retired to my apartment, while I kept watch beside my patient's couch.
'The mysterious individual whose conduct had so puzzled me, and to whom I had been so strangely introduced, seemed to be a man of about thirty, decidedly handsome, and of striking mien, of elegant manners, and evidently accustomed to refined society. His hair, which curled naturally, was, however, growing thin; a few deep lines were furrowed on his brow, and the corners of his mouth wore, as it were, unconsciously, at times, a disdainful air, and as he slept I could trace how the fire of youthful passion had brought his manhood to premature decay.
'Although the veil of mystery had been rent, my curiosity was only whetted, by no means gratified. Who could this man be for whose arrival, according to my hostess' account, he had been waiting with such feverish impatience? What journey could he have returned from, in such shattered health; and finally, what was this great purpose, on the successful issue of which, he seemed to stake his all, on which he declared his life to hang?
'Again the undefinable spell that seemed to attach to the fascinating Adéle, filled my mind with reveries of wondrous interest. What was her part in this drama that was enacting so close beside me? Was she the victim or the enchantress? During the long vigils of that night, I asked this question of myself many a time and oft, and yet could arrive at no solution of my doubts. The soft, regular sound, produced by her breathing, in the next room, the door of which remained ajar—for she had thrown herself upon my bed, without removing her apparel—fell upon my ear, and proved she slept in all the tranquillity of innocence. And yet the very tranquillity of that sleep almost excited my displeasure; for it seemed to evince a listless, reckless indifference to danger, a lack of tender, womanly sympathy for suffering and sickness, that might indeed arise from a heart untouched by any love, save that of self.
'I was just rolling up another cigarette, when, as the day dawned, Adéle entered. She was lovely, and radiant with smiles. The closest and most sagacious observer would have failed to discern the slightest trace of the excitement through which she had passed but a few short hours before. She thanked me for my kind assistance, with a bewitching grace, almost girlish in its simplicity, and begged me to retire, and take the rest she felt assured I must need. Before so doing, however, it was agreed that the door leading to my room should in future remain unfastened, in case of a recurrence of the danger that had menaced her the previous night.
'Feeling no drowsiness, but rather a desire for fresh air, I mounted to the cupola that adorned the roof of our house, and for a couple of hours I sat there, enjoying the delicious breeze and the picturesque panorama that lay beneath my feet, and the motley groups that swarmed to early prayers up the Cathedral steps.
'At last, I felt like strengthening the inner man, and determined to step down as far as Véroley's, the fashionable café of the city, and there to take a right good breakfast. I returned to my room to replenish my purse, and to take my dagger and revolver. I found the purse and revolver on the shelf where I had left them, untouched, but my search for the dagger proved fruitless. Yet with it I had wrenched out the staples that fastened the door, and to my knowledge no one had had access to my room since that time, save Adéle.
'After taking my breakfast, and calling for my letters, I paid one or two visits, and ere I returned home, it was well nigh three in the afternoon.
'I had not been seated long, ere Mr. Livermore entered. He appeared to have completely recovered from his attack.
''Of two evils, the adage advises us to choose the lesser. I would, therefore, prefer to appear intrusive rather than ungrateful; so excuse me if I trespass on your time or your patience. After the generous devotion you displayed last night, and after what Adéle moreover has told me, I feel I am bound to inform you whom you have thus befriended; for, as you have already learned, Albert Pride is not my real name.'
'I hastened to offer to my neighbor the seat of honor, my magnificent rocking-chair, not only as a mark of politeness, but thinking that as he was about to tell me something, if he were only comfortably ensconced, very interesting, he might find himself so much at his ease that he would make a much cleaner breast of it.
'My little surmise proved correct; he accepted my proffered civility, and proceeded to give me a long and very interesting account of his parentage and youth. Suffice it to say, that he was a native of Tennessee, and being left an orphan at an early age, had, like thousands of others, passed through a brief career of folly and extravagance. He had become acquainted with Adéle and her family some two years previously, and had been married to her about four months, under the impression, as he had told her husband on the previous night, that a divorce had been obtained.
'What most excited my surprise, in his recital, was, that while Percival had accused her of having deserted him because she deemed him ruined, Arthur told me that she married him, knowing him to be almost penniless. But I will give you his own words:
''I explained to her my desperate position, when she replied: 'It matters not; in return for the fortune you have squandered, I will give you that which shall produce an income far beyond your boyish dreams.'
''A horrible suspicion flashed across my mind; I feared her reason was impaired.
'''Adéle,' I exclaimed, 'in mercy, jest not; but explain yourself.'
'''I will, Arthur; but first of all, I must exact from you the most solemn vow, that under no circumstances will you divulge to mortal man or woman, the secret I am about to confide to you.''
'At this point, Mr. Livermore checked himself suddenly, as if he had said too much, and then added:
''I regret, my dear sir, that I can merely add, that I gave Adéle the solemn pledge she required, and that my presence here, in the city of Mexico, to-day, is merely the result of the secret then intrusted to me.'
'I was still under the impression that this narrative had produced, when Adéle softly entered the apartment.
''Arthur,' said she, in a low whisper, 'there is some one knocking at the door of the ante-chamber.'
''Remain here,' said he, rising from his seat, 'I will go and open it.'
''Do not let him go alone, I beg of you,' said Adéle. 'Who knows of what service your presence may be to-day, or of what value your testimony may be hereafter? Possibly, it may save money, if not life; but why go without your hat and gloves?' she added, as I was leaving the room bare-headed, 'you must pass for a visitor, not for a fellow-lodger.'
'Lost in admiration of her ready tact and coolness, I reached Arthur Livermore's sitting-room, just as he opened the door.
''Pepito,' exclaimed he.
''Ay, Caballero, Pepito himself, in perfect health, and ever your most devoted servant.''
[TO BE CONCLUDED.]
I can not tell what change has come to you,
Since when, amid the pine-trees' murmurous stir,
You spoke to me of love most deep and true:
I only know you are not as you were.
It is not that you fail in tender speech;
You speak to me as kindly as of old;
But yet there is a depth I do not reach,
A doubt that makes my heart grow sick and cold.
True, there has been no anger and no strife;
I only feel, with dreary discontent,
That something bright has vanished from my life;
I know not what it is, nor where it went.
You chide my grief, and wipe my frequent tears;
But to my pain what art can minister?
Oh! I would give all life's remaining years
If you would be again as once you were!
As, dipped in fabled fountains far away,
All living things are hardened into stone,
So strange and frozen seems your love to-day,
Its sweet, spontaneous growth and life are gone:
And it is changed into a marble ghost,
Driving away all happiness and rest;
In whose chill arms I shiver faint and lost,
Bruising my heart against its rocky breast.
Nay, no regrets, no vows: it is too late,
Too late for you to speak, or me to hear:
We can not mend torn roses: we must wait
For the new blossoms of another year.
I have seen on the stage several Hamlets, more or less successful in that sublime dramatic creation of Shakspeare, to say nothing of small-calfed personifications at private fancy balls. Young Booth, in these days, is doubtless the most ideal and accurate interpreter of the great Dane; although Mrs. Kemble's rendition is certainly beyond the reach of hostile criticism.
In this paper I propose to consider Hamlet not as he is represented on the stage, but as he is described in the original text. At the theatre, he usually appears as a dark-complexioned, black-haired, beetle-browed, and slender young man, wearing an intensely gloomy wig, eyebrows corked into the blackness of preternatural bitterness, while on thin and romantic legs, imprisoned in black silk tights, he struts across the stage, the counterfeit presentment of the veritable prince.
I once read a brief line or two in a work by Goethe, alleging that Hamlet was 'a fat man.' At first I was inclined to regard this as a joke of the majestic German. Later reflection induced me to examine this surmise in detail, and to conclude finally that the theory is true, and that the enigma of Hamlet's character can be solved through calculations of pinguitude.
[Greek: Eurêka]. Perfect tense, indicative mood, 'I have found it!' In fact, the whole Hamlet problem must be regarded in an obese, or adipose point of view. The Prince of Denmark is not the conventional Hamlet of the theatre, nor the Hamlet of Shakspeare. He was a Northman, and like the greater number of the inhabitants of Northern Europe, was, doubtless, a blue-eyed and flaxen-haired blonde. My lord was far from appearing thin or delicate; on the contrary, he carried on his belly a large portmanteau well-rounded by the swell of the digesting nutriment.
That our honored prince was a fat man, is proved by his own confession, as well as by the evidence of the queen. Tossed about in a hot desert of doubt and despair, he exclaims in one of his incomparable soliloquies:
'Oh! that this too, too solid flesh WOULD MELT!'
What thin man would melt away even in the hot solstice of June? In the fencing scene, (Act IV.,) his flabby muscles are soon fatigued, and the queen exclaims:
'He's fat, and scant of breath:
Here, Hamlet, take my napkin, rub thy brows.'
However, to be serious, it must be confessed that there are splendid traits in the mental character of the prince; every grandeur or folly can be found in him. From the lowest pit of despair, his soul debates the question of suicide as a logical proposition, forgetting the divine prohibition against 'self-slaughter.' Eloquence, genius, and brilliant fancies, are constantly manifested, and also a gorgeous imagination.
It may be mentioned, incidentally, that Hamlet's character has been contrasted with that of Orestes, the Greek, who, when he arrived at years of manhood, avenged his father's death by assassinating his mother, Clytemnestra, and her adulterer, OEgisthus. In other words, he avenged a crime by a crime.
And now let us drop these serious comments, and return to the more humorous side of our theory—the plumpness of the prince, overlooked as a mere accident, by critics and actors. It is a physiological propriety that he should be of a phlegmatic temperament—a temperament often united to an acute intellect, but also, to a sluggish and heavy person. A weak, wavering inactivity, fickleness of purpose, a keen sensibility, or sensitiveness, are also noticeable; while the subtlety of his theories is sharply penetrating, and forms the keystone to the arch of his character.
Truly, Hamlet's intellect is that of a giant; his strength of will, that of a child. He has, so to speak, no executive talent. He is the doubting philosopher, the subtle metaphysician, the self-analyzer, always 'thinking too precisely upon the event.' He sees so far into the consequences of human action that he is fearful of taking decided steps. He has the nerve to kill neither his uncle nor himself, although he debates the latter question with great dexterity. He never effected any one of the plans upon which he had deliberated. Any one who reads Hamlet, under the influence of this theory, will see that it is confirmed by every incident in the tragedy.
A series of accidents hurried the prince to the final catastrophe. His was a lovely, great, and noble nature; but it lacked one element of heroism—strength of will. It was an exquisite touch in the mighty poet to make Hamlet gross in figure, as he was phlegmatic, inactive, and irresolute in temperament. Had he been a thin, brown, choleric, and nervous man, the tragedy would have ended in the first Act. Had he been a fiery Italian, instead of a doubting, deliberating Dane; had he been of a passionate, or yellow complexion, instead of a calm blonde; had he possessed a wiry, high-strung, and nervous constitution; had he, in a word, proved himself a man of action, and not a man of metaphysical tendencies, his sword would have soon cut the perplexing meshes which surrounded him, and he would have executed instant vengeance upon the authors of his misfortune and disgrace. Else he would have put an end to a life too wretched to be endured.
The conventional critic may smile at the conceit of a fat Hamlet, but I am satisfied that my theory is amply sustained by the text, as well as by the true solution of the alleged knotty points of Shakspeare's mental character, over which the ponderous but inflated brain of Dr. Johnson stultified itself. He accuses the Avon bard of introducing spirits, ghosts, myths, and fairies; of being guilty of exaggerations, absurdities, vulgar expressions, and other naughtiness. (Boswell's Johnson, Vol. IV. pp. 258, etc.) All of which proves that the Doctor was sometimes prejudiced, ill-natured, jealous, and ponderously silly on certain points.
But they who have cracked the kernel of this grand tragedy, and formed a just conception of the real disposition and peculiarities of the true hero, must admire and appreciate the marvelous skill of the great bard who understands the relations between physiology and the passions, and can analyze the temperament physical, as well as dissect the soul immortal.
Within a very few years, the friends of Emancipation in the North and West, as well as all opposed to the increase of 'Southern power' in our national policy, have been from time to time interested by rumors of a secret association termed that of the Knights of the Golden Circle, or as it is familiarly described, 'the K.G.C.' It was understood to be a secret society, instituted for the purpose of extending, by the most desperate means and measures, the institution of slavery, and with it, of Southern Secession and all those social and political principles which have been of late years so unscrupulously advocated by Southern statesmen. It is, however, only of late that any thing definite relative to this order has been published.
In July, 1861, the Louisville Journalgave a full exposé of the order, which has been recently republished in a pamphlet, by 'the U.S. National U.C.,' a copy of which now lies before us. 'Of the authenticity of this exposition,' says the introduction, 'there can be no doubt.' George D. Prentice, Esq., the editor of the Journal, gives his solemn assurance, as an editor and as a man, that the documents from which he derived his information are authentic. He asserts, moreover, that he received them from a prominent Knight of the Third Degree. The genuineness of these documents has never yet been denied by any man whose word can be regarded as valid testimony in the case. Corroborative testimony was furnished in a violent newspaper quarrel which occurred soon after the first publication was made, in which several 'Knights of the Third Degree' were participants, the question in dispute being as to the authorship of the revelations made to Mr. Prentice. After the warfare had subsided, he informed them that they were all mistaken, and that each one of the parties implicated was equally guiltless.
On the first page of the introduction referred to, the editor, after a succinct statement that the K.G.C. is the direct descendant of the order of the Lone Star and other secret fillibustering societies, and that many of the 'old landmarks' of those unions may be traced in its organization, quotes from an article in the CONTINENTAL MONTHLY for January, 1862, as follows:
'This organization, which was instituted by John C. Calhoun, William L. Porcher, and others, as far back as 1835, had for its sole object the dissolution of the Union and the establishment of Southern Empire—Empire is the word, not Confederacy or Republic—and it was solely by means of its secret but powerful machinery, that the Southern States were plunged into revolution, in defiance of the will of a majority of their voting population. Nearly every man of influence at the South, (and many a pretended Union man at the North,) is a member of this organization, and sworn, under the penalty of assassination, to labor, 'in season and out of season, by fair means and by foul, at all times and on all occasions, for the accomplishment of its object.'
The editor of the pamphlet in question declares that he knows not upon what evidence the above statement from the CONTINENTAL is based, but admits that there can be no reasonable doubt that these men and their associates did resort to secret and powerful means for the spread of their views and for the instruction of the Southern mind in the doctrines of disunion and treason which they originated.
As regards our source of information, let it suffice to say that we derived it from a gentleman who was himself a K.G.C., who was familiar with its history, and of whose character for honor and veracity strict inquiries made by us of men of high standing in the community left no shadow of room for doubt. From his statements, it was transferred by one of our establishment to the author of the article in question.
To the eye of the student of history, who has closely traced in many ages and countries the vast action of secret societies in events, the whole Southern movement bears, however, intrinsic evidence of that peculiar form of hidden political power. The prompt and vigorous action of the whole Secession movement, by which States with a majority attached to the Union were hurled, scarce knowing how, into rebellion, would never have been accomplished save by a long established and perfectly drilled organization. It is not enough to sway millions that the leaders simply know what they wish to do, or that they have the power to do it. There must be organization and subordination, if only to control the independent action of demagogues and of selfish politicians, who abound in the South as elsewhere. Had the existence of the K.G.C. never been revealed, the historian would have detected it by its results, and been compelled in fairness to admit that it was admirably instituted to fulfill its ends—evil as they were—and that its work was well done.
The editor of the pamphlet has good grounds for asserting that the K.G.C. embraces among its members thousands of secretly disloyal men in the North, and that these are of all grades of society. Let it, however, be remembered that previous to the breaking out of this war there were many who did not see Disunion as they now view it, and that their ties with the South were often of the most brotherly kind. Indeed, when Secession was first openly agitated, and until Sumter fired the Northern heart, myriads who would now gladly disown those words were wont to say: 'Well, if they are determined to go, I suppose we must lose them.' Would Fernando Wood have ever dared at that time to publish a proclamation recommending the secession of New-York as a free city had there not then existed a singular apathy, or rather a strange blindness, to the horrible results which must flow from disunion? In those days the country was blind—it has seen many an old error and delusion dispelled since then—unfortunately too many among us have still much to learn! Let those who still oppose Emancipation remember that a day will come when they, too, will unavoidably appear as the tories of the great Revolution now in progress!
Our informant declared that should he write an exposition of the K.G.C., it would differ in many respects from that given in the Journal, forgetting apparently, that Mr. Prentice had already explicitly stated that since the great question of Disunion sprung up, the K.G.C. had materially changed its character, and must unavoidably, from its very nature, continue to change and modify details to suit new exigencies. The whole history of secret society, whether in its forms Masonic, Templar, Illuminée, Carbonari, Philadelphian, or Marianne; whether universal, political, social, military, or revolutionary, is a history of modifications of mere detail, compelled by circumstances. The mere forms of initiation, the Ritual of the Order, pass-words, grips, and signs, are of comparatively small importance, in fact, they appear supremely silly; and were it not undoubtedly true that the mass of the initiated were correspondingly silly, though very wicked, fellows, we might almost wonder that such rococo nonsense should be deemed essential to the management of a powerful political organization. The weaker brethren, unable to penetrate by the strong will and by 'spontaneous secresy,' to coöperation with the leaders and to the arcana, have always required the tomfoolery of ceremony, and among the K.G.C. it has not been spared. Those desirous of learning what the forms were or are in which the action of the Order has been enveloped, we refer to pamphlet itself, premising that, of its kind, it is quite curious, ingenious, and interesting. The formula of the Obligation of the First Degree, as given by Mr. Prentice, shows that the first field of operation, as originally intended, was Mexico, but that it is also held to be a duty to offer service to any Southern State to aid in repelling a Northern army. 'Whether the Union is reconstructed or not, the Southern States must foster any scheme having for its object the Americanization and Southernization of Mexico, so that, in either case, our success will be certain.' The initiation of the Second Degree is unimportant, save that it declares that the head-quarters of the Organization are at Monterey. From the Third Degree we learn that 'candidates must be familiar with the work of the two former degrees; must have been born in '58,' (meaning a slave State,) or if in 59, (a free State,) he must be a citizen; 60, (a Protestant,) and 61, (a slaveholder.) A candidate who was born in 58, (a slave State,) need not be 61, (a slaveholder,) provided he can give 62, (evidence of character as a Southern man.)' The 'object' of it all is 'to form a council for the K.G.C., and organize a government for Mexico.' It is to be remarked that a stanch '57,' or knight of the Golden Circle, is made to swear that he will never dishonor the wife or daughter of a brother K.G.C., knowing them to be such, that he be made to kneel and say his prayers to God, and immediately after is requested to pay ten dollars, and to declare that he will to the utmost of his ability oppose the admission of any confirmed drunkard, professional gambler, rowdy, convict, felon, abolitionist, negro, Indian, minor, or foreigner to membership in any department of the Circle.
Abolitionists are to be found out, and reported to George Bickley, a miserable quack and 'confidence man,' a person long familiarly spoken of by the press as a mere Jeremy Diddler, but who has been a useful tool to shrewder men in managing for them this precious Order. The member is to do all in his power to 'build up a public sentiment in his State favorable to the K.G.C., and to aid in the expulsion of free negroes from the South, that they may be sent to Mexico.' Roman Catholics, foreigners, abolitionists, and Yankee teachers are all to be watched and reported. In ease of success in conquering Mexico, every thing possible is to be done in order to prevent any Roman Catholic from being appointed to any office of profit or trust. 'I will endeavor to cause to be opened to the public all nunneries, monasteries, or convents. Any minister, holding any place under government, must be Protestant.' When we reflect on the fact that the Southern system aims at a perfectly oligarchic unity and consolidation of power, this dread of any external possible influence, whether religious or civic, will appear natural enough. Mexico is, however, to be the great field of future action, and Mexico must be cleared of its priests. Thepeon system is to be reduced to '89,' (perpetual slavery.) The successor of 'quack and confidence Bickley' has a most unenviable task. For this Coming Man—the present incumbent being occupied with other duties—is expected to extend slavery over the whole of Central America, with the judicious saving clause, 'if it be in his power;' to, acquire Cuba, and to control the Gulf of Mexico. Having sworn himself to all this, and much other nonsense, and last—not by any means least—also taken oath to forward to Confidence Bickley all the fees of every candidate whom he may initiate, the new Knight listens to the following specimen of elegant oratory from the Secretary:
'You had better hear the whole degree, and then sign; for unless we have your entire approbation, we do not wish to commit you to any thing. I am well aware that this whole scheme is a bold and daring one, that can but surprise you at first, as it did me, and for this reason I beg to state a few facts for your consideration. In the rise and progress of democracy in America, we have seen its highest attainment. In the very outset it was based on high religious principles, and adopted as a refuge from despotism. In the North, Puritanism molded it, and went so far as to leave out the natural conservative element of all democracies—domestic slavery. As a result, we have presented now social, religious, and domestic anarchy. From Millerism, and Spiritualism, every Utopian idea has numerous advocates. The manufacturer is an aristocrat, while the working-man is a serf. The latter class, constantly goaded by poverty, seek a change—they care not what it may be. Democracy unrestrained by domestic slavery, multiplies the laboring classes indefinitely, but it debases the mechanic. Whoever knew a practical shoemaker, or a maker of pin-heads, to have a man's ambition? They own neither land nor property, and have no ties to the institutions of the country. The Irishman emigrates, and the Frenchman stays at home. The one hates his country, the other adores his. The Frenchman, is a slaveholder and a man—the Irishman is a serf and an outcast. The South is naturally agricultural; and the farmer being most of the time in the midst of his growing crops, seeing the open operation of nature, his mind expands, he grows proud and ambitious of all around, and feels himself a man. He wants no change, either in civil, religious, or political affairs. He cultivates the soil, and it yields him means to purchase labor. He becomes attached to home and its associations, and remains forever a restrained Democrat, restrained by moral and civil laws from any and all overt acts. He needs and makes a centralized government, because his property is at stake when anarchy prevails.'
The reader is doubtless by this time well weary of this vulgar trash of the K.G.C., which is only not absolutely ridiculous, because so nearly connected with most sanguinary aims. Be it borne in mind that the Southern character has always been eminently receptive of the puerile and nonsensical, while the vast proportion of semi-savage, semi-sophomorical minds in Dixie, half-educated and altogether idle and debauched, has made their land a fertile field for quack Bickleys, brutal and arrogant Pikes, and other petty tools of greater and more powerful knaves. The Order becomes, however, a matter for more serious consideration, when we reflect on the number of Northern men who, to testify their Southern principles, have become 'Knights,' 'There is ample and positive proof that the order of K.G.C. is thoroughly organized in every Northern State as auxiliary to the Southern rebellion.' It has acted here, as is well known, directly or indirectly, under different names, such as the Peace Society, the Union Party, the Constitutional Party, the Democratic Society, Club, or Association, the Mutual Protection and Self Protection. For much information relative to these traitors among us, who, whether sworn to the K.G.C. or not, are working continually to further its aims, we refer our readers to the pamphlet itself. There can be little doubt that those self-styled democrats who continually inveigh against Emancipation in every form, even to the condemning of the moderate and judicious Message of President Lincoln, are all either the foolish dupes or allies of this widespread Southern league, many being desirous of directly reinstating the old Southern tyranny, while the mass simply hope to keep their record clear of accusation as Abolitionists, in case Secession should succeed. 'I was a K.G.C. during the war,' would in such case be a most valuable evidence of fidelity for these bat-like birds-among-birds and beasts-among-beasts. Deluded by the hope of being all right, no matter which side may conquer, thousands have sought to pay the initiation fee, and we need not state have been most gladly received. It is at least safe to beware of all men who, in times like these, impudently avow principles identically the same with those which constitute the real basis of Secession. We refer to all who continually inveigh against Abolition as though that were the great cause of all our troubles, who cry out that Abolitionists must be put down ere the war can come to an end, and clamor for the immediate imprisonment of all who are opposed to slavery.
And while on this subject, we venture to speak a few words on this oft-reiterated accusation, that the Abolitionists have directly caused this war, and from which they themselves by no means shrink. Whatever influence or aid they may have given, it is now becoming clear as day that no opposition to slavery was ever half so conducive to Secession and rebellion asSlavery itself. Had there never been an Abolitionist in the North, the self-generated arrogance of the 'institution' must have spontaneously impelled the Southern party to treason. The exuberant insolence which induced the most biting expressions of contempt for labor and serfs, was fully developed in the South long before the days of Garrison; long even before the Quakers of Pennsylvania put forth their protest against slavery, a full century ago. The North was accused by the Southern wolf of troubling the stream, though its course was directly toward the wished-for victim. It is time that the absurd cry ceased, and that the South be made to bear its own load of guilt. Ever arrogant, chafing at the intellectual supremacy of the North, envious of its prosperity, despising with all the rancor of a lawless 'chivalry' our regard for the rights of persons, prone to dissipation, and densely ignorant of the great tendencies to progress which characterize the civilization of the nineteenth century, the Southerner has ever felt the same tendency to break away, and be off, which a raw, fiery, conceited youth feels to sunder wholesome domestic ties. The stimulus was within, not from without.
It is to be regretted that the editor of this, in so many respects valuable, pamphlet, in speaking of Northern men of influence who belong to the K.G.C., or its other aids, should have cited under the vague heading of 'said to be,' the New-York Herald, Journal of Commerce, Express, 'and a French newspaper' in New-York City, the BostonCourier and Post, the Hartford Times, the Albany Atlas and Argus, the RochesterUnion, the Buffalo Courier, the Cincinnati Enquirer, the Detroit Free Press, the Chicago Times, and the MilwaukeeNews. While we entertain no doubt that among the editors of these newspapers are men who are at heart as traitorous and as Southern as their colleagues of any Richmond journal, [we have ourself seen a small Secession flag paraded on the desk of an editor of one of the above-mentioned publications,] we must still protest against any other than definite charges, even against men whose daily deeds and utterances of treason have been of more real service to the South than all the trash and trickery of Quack Bickley himself. It is indeed charged that 'these are the principal names on the lists of traveling messengers for those States,' but it should be remembered that such accusation requires clear proof. With this single exception, we commend the pamphlet in question as a document well worth perusal and investigation. The subject, as it stands, appears trashy and melodramatic; but be it remembered the Southern mind is prone to trash and romance, and quacks and adventurers would be more likely to be found actively working to aid treason founded on folly than would men of real ability.
Where lies thy strength, my Country—where alone?
Let ages past declare—
Nay, let thine own brief history make known,
Thy sure dependence, where.
'Tis not in boasting—that's the poltroon's wit,
The coward's shield of glass,
A coin whose surface, silver's counterfeit,
With fools alone shall pass.
'Tis not in threats—these are the weapons light
Of brutes, and not of men:
A barking dog's despised; but if he bite,
Wo to his clamors then!
'Tis not in bargains made to cover wrong!
There open weakness lies;
A righteous cause is in itself most strong,
And needs no compromise.
Ten thousand bulwarks which should mock the might
Of armies compassing,
Secure not those, who hold one human right
A secondary thing.
There are some souls so fearful to offend,
They lay their courage low;
And sooner trample o'er a prostrate friend,
Than fail t' embrace a foe.
Safety proceeds from Him alone who lays
Foundations formed to last:
This simple truth concentres all the rays
Of all the ages past.
Th' omnipotence of right, its own shall save,
Though hell itself oppose;
One faithful Abdiel may fearless brave
Unnumbered rebel foes.
Faith, Freedom, Conscience—these are words which give
The true metallic ring!
For these to die, were evermore to live—
Man's noblest offering.
Rise, then! Columbia's sacred rights restore!
Bid all her foes to flee,
Or perish! Then shall Washington once more
His country's Father be.
'Once, I went with a giant and a dwarf, to see a bear.'
'Fiddlestick! what a story to tell!' retorted Aunt Hepsibah, 'and these children, just as like's not, will believe every word of it.'
'O cousin Dick!' chirped those innocents, [strepitu avido, multum nido minuriente], 'tell us all about it; it sounds just like a fairy-tale!'
'Why, there isn't much to tell. Late one evening, not in a great wood, but a great city, I fell in with an old couple, a huge, hulking fellow, nearly eight feet high, with a heavy, loutish air, and the most pitiful little woman you ever saw, hardly taller than his knee. Her arms were not longer, than a baby's, and her poor little legs trotted along as fast as they could, to keep up with his sluggish stride. In a clownish, lubberly sort of way, he seemed to be taking good, kind care of her. They were on exhibition, it appeared, and (their own show being over for the night) were going, poor things, to see a certain famous performing bear.
'Of course, I went with them. We found the showroom nearly deserted. The bear, a monstrous fellow, bigger than Samson by half, lay on his back, his huge, hairy chest heaved up like a bullock's, and a great paw, holding lazily on to one of his bars. His owner, quite fatigued, and apparently a trifle in liquor, brightened up when he saw his strange audience, and at once volunteered to repeat the performance.
''This animal, gentlemen,' said he, 'is considerable tired, for I've been a workin' on him mighty hard to-day. He knows that he's done his work for the night, and I wouldn't go in with him again for a fifty-dollar bill, but I shall do it, seeing I've got such distinguished company,' and he made a sweeping obeisance, comprehending the giant, the dwarf, and my humble person.
'The performance was really quite remarkable; but I was more interested in observing my fellow visitors. The dwarf looked up with her bright little eyes, and the giant looked down with his great leaden ones, while the bear jumped over the man's head, and pretended to fight him and hug him, and finally, walking on his hind-feet, stooped down, and took his head into the horrid cavern of those great jaws. Out of breath, and red in the face, the enthusiastic operator wound up by plucking a handful of long hair from the flank of the much-enduring creature, and presented it to us, as a souvenir of our visit.'
'I say, when he had him in his mouth, it was 'bear and forbear,' wasn't it?' put in that scapegrace, Tom, who is always doing something of the sort.
'Silence! and don't interrupt the court, unless you can say something better than that. Well, let me tell you, I have been in very genteel society, without feeling any thing so human, so catholic, so pantheistical, (in the right sense,) as I did in making one of that queer company. The great lout of a giant, with not soul enough in him to fill out his circumference; the sad little dwarf, with not room enough for hers; the poor, patient, necromanted savage of a bear; the smart, steely, grog-loving, praise-loving keeper; the curious, bookish, indolent traveler. Expressions, all of the grand, never-weary Life-Intention, how widely variant! yet all children, and equally beloved, of the Infinite Father.
'In four of the five cases, it should seem, the creative energy had set about to fashion its supposed ultimate and perfect work, and with what result? At first blush, the failure seemed most conspicuous in my companions, especially the big and the little one; but a small introspection might, perhaps, have disclosed a deeper disappointment in a nobler aim. The bear was the only success among us. He was perfect in his line, though sadly at a disadvantage; ravished from his forest-world, and bedeviled with alien civilization. And note (as that splendid prig, Ruskin, would say) with what mathematical accuracy nature, in her less ambitious essays, goes to the proposed end. The bee's flight—a specimen wonder—is not straighter than her course. In her lower business, she needs no backers. Meddling only monsters her. It is only when she comes to the grand, resulting combination, for which she has so long been fussing and preparing—when she tries her hand ('her 'prentice han', I fear,) on man, that she falters, hesitates, and lastly compromises for something lamentably less than she bargained for.
'Her apparent purpose seems almost inevitably thwarted by some influence—shall we call it malign? or rather shall we consider (as perhaps we should in all short-comings) that 'tis only a matter of time and the comparative degree? a piece of circuition needed for variety of development, and, of necessity, to eventuate in forms fresher, more prononcés, nearer perfect than any thing we now wot or conceive of.
'To my thinking, the hitch is, that just at this point, she has got complicated with the wills and motions of intelligences already individualized and eliminated, and forever alienated from her immediate impulse. And if this be so, depend on it, the onus of the attempted perfection comes a good deal upon us. The mighty Mother, unsatisfied in her fantastic longings, and troubled generally [Greek: dia to tiktein], should be helped and not bothered by her children. We can remove vexations, can arrange conditions, keep the house quiet generally. At any rate, we can take such care as may be of the smaller young ones, help them up-stairs, or at least keep them from tumbling down again—we bigger babies that have crawled or been pushed a few steps up the awful stairway of the Inconceivable Ascending-Spiral.'
'I say, Dick, stop your metaphysics.'
'You are quite right, Tom, they are threadbare enough; but these happen to be physics. I don't mean such as you had to take last week, after that sleigh-ride. Well, I remember feeling this intense communism, this voltaicrapport with nature in a like way once before, on seeing a covey of strange creatures, Aztecs, Albinos, wild Africans, busied, by chance, in a game of romps together, the pure overflow of animal spirits. It was a curious scene. They made eerie faces at each other; they feigned assaults; they wove a maze, more fantastic and bizarre than any thing in Faust or Freysehutz. It was the mirth of Fauns, the mischief of Elves and Brownies. The glee, that lighted up those strange faces was not of this earth; but a thrill, pulsated through infinitude, of that joy of life which wells forever from the exhaustless fountain of the Central Heart; a scintillation, from how afar off! of the Immeasurable Love, of the Eternal Pity; though it seemed hardly more human than the play of kits and puppies, or than the anerithmon gelasma (the soulless, uncontrollable titter) of the tossed spring spray, or the blue, breezy ripple, for which overhaul your Prometheus, master Tom, and when found, make a note of it.'
'Well, that's not so bad,' allowed Hepsibah, a good deal mollified. Greek, I have observed, always has an excellent effect upon her.
'And it has a good moral, my dears,' said grandmother, 'I always like a good moral.'
'And was the bear always good to him?'
'Well, my dear, I am sorry to say that he had once bitten off three of his fingers. You may think this was proceeding to extremities; but, on the whole, I give him credit for great moderation. They will bite sometimes, however—me teste, who once in my proper person verified the old proverb, which I had always taken for a bit of unnatural history.'
'I know; 'been a bear, 'twould a bit you,' eh?'
'Your customary sagacity, Tom, is not at fault. Yes, the bear bit me.'
'Dick,' said my uncle, 'it strikes me, all this wouldn't make a bad magazine article, if you'd only leave out your confounded speculations; and Tom, as your cousin says, I wish you would stick a little closer to your classics.'
'Well, little No-no!'
'You tell a real good story.'
'Do I? then come and pay me for it.'
'No-o! you sha-a-ant! aeou!! there now, tell us another; tell us about the bear that bit you?'
'There isn't much to tell about that either. It was on a steamer, in the Gulf. On the forecastle lay a stout oaken box, and in it—all his troubles to come—was a young bear. In the top of it was an inch auger-hole, and at this small port the poor devil used to keep his eye all day so pitifully, that I had compassion on him, saw he would get etiolated, and besought the captain to let him out.
''Not if I know it,' responded Dux, severely, 'he'd clear the decks in a minute! We had one aboard once before—a big rascal, in a cage, 'tween decks—and one dark, stormy night, he broke adrift and stowed himself away so snug that we never found him till next day. You may judge what a hurrah's nest there was, every body knowing this d——d bear was somewhere aboard, and afraid of running foul of him in the dark. No, no, better let him alone!'
'Howbeit, I over-persuaded him. We managed to get hold of a bit of chain fastened to his collar, bent a line on to it, gave him reasonable scope, belayed the bight, and knocked off one end of his box. Out he bolted! It was a change from that dark den to the glaring tropical sunshine, the blue sea foaming under the trades, the rolling masts, and the hundreds of curious eyes that surrounded him. Sensible to the last, he tried to go aloft, but the line soon brought him up. Down he came, and steered for'ard. The cooks and stewards, their hands on the combing, filled the fore-hatch. He made a dive for them, and they tumbled ignominiously down the hatchway. We laughed consumedly. Then he cruised aft, the dress-circle considerately widening. He came up to me, as if knowing his benefactor by instinct, looking curiously about him, and curling and retracting his flexile snout and lip, after the manner of his kind. Now, I had often dealt with bears, tame and semi-tame, had 'held Sackerson by the chain,' as often as Master Slender, had known them sometimes to strike or hug, (which they always do standing,) but had never known one to bite. So I didn't take the trouble to move, and—the first I knew—the villain had me by the leg!'
'Sarved yer right, for lettin' on him out,' interposed that grim utilist Jonas, our hired man. He had entered, pending the narrative, and stood, arrectis auribus, by the door.
'Mercy on us! didn't it hurt?'
'Yes; but not more than might easily be borne. It didn't seem like biting—more like the strong, hard grip of a vice than any thing else—puncture quite lost in constriction. My viznomy, I am told, was a study: supreme disgust, tempered with divine philosophy.'
'And how on earth did you get away from him?'
'By not trying to; kept as still as a mouse, till he had bitten all he wanted to, which took about a minute. Then he let go, and walked quietly off, to see if he couldn't bite somebody else. I afterward improved our acquaintance by giving him sugar-cane and a licking or two; but he was always an ill-conditioned brute, not amenable to reason, and when we came to New York, gave no end of trouble, by getting over the side and running up the North River on the ice—I dare say he scented the Catskills—the whole waterside whooping and hallooing in chase after him. Ah! I could tell you a better story than that, of a wild beast aboard a ship!'
'It was told me by an ancient mariner, who knows how many years ago? for I'm getting to be an old fellow myself, children.'
'What nonsense, Dick! talk aboutyour being old.'
'Well, never mind. I'll try to give it to you in his own words. Said he:
"I never see a nigger turn white but once, and that was aboard of the old 'Emperor.' We was bound from Calcutta, to Boston, and had aboard an elephant, a big Bengal tiger, and a lot of other wild creturs, for a menagerie. Well, one forenoon, blowing a good topsail breeze, as it might be to-day, but more sea than wind, we was going large, and I up on the main-yard, turning in a splice. All to once, I heerd a strange noise, and looked down. There was the black cook, shinning of it up, making a great hullibaloo, and shaking the tormentors behind him—that's a big iron fork he has in the galley. His face was as white as a table-cloth. Close behind him was the tiger, who had got out of his cage somehow, and, snuffing the grub, had made tracks for the coppers.
"All the watch, by this time, was tumbling up the rigging, fore and aft. The tiger he tried two or three of the ratlins, but thought it onsafe, so he let himself down, mighty careful, to the deck. The companion-way was open, and he dived into the cabin. The captain lay asleep on the transom, and never waked up. The cretur didn't touch him, but come up agin, and poked his nose into, the door of the mate's room, that was a little on the jar. The mate see him, and gin him a kick in the face, and slammed the door agin him. That made him mad, and he tried to get in at the little window; but his head was so big, he couldn't begin. Did you ever mind what eyes them devils has? They've got a kind of cruel, murderin' look that no other beast has, that I ever see. Well, he give it up, and went aft. Then, a kind of a sick feelin' come over me; for, d'ye see, there was one man that couldn't leave no way!'
"The man at the wheel?'
"Ay, shipmet! He saw the tiger comin', for he turned as pale as death; but he didn't look at him, and never stirred tack or sheet. He stuck right on to the spokes, and steered her as true as a die; and well he did, for if he hadn't, we'd a broached to in five seconds, and that would a been wuss than the tiger. Well, the cussed beast went close up to him, and actually snuffed at him. You may judge what a relief it was to us when he left him, at last, and come for'ard. There was a sheep in the long-boat, and, as he was cruising about decks, he smelt it, and grabbed it, and was suckin' its blood in a jiffy; so we managed to get a slip-knot over him, and hauled taut on it from aloft. Then a young fellow went down with a line, and wound it round and round him, till he couldn't stir, and at last, with a heap of trouble, we got him stowed in his cage again, sheep and all; for he never let go on it.'
"And what was done for the man at the wheel?'
"Well, sir, nothing; he was only doing his duty."
'That was too bad! Now tell us another—tell us some more about shows?'
'Shows, chickabiddy? I've not seen any of late. The last was the What-Is-It.'
'Well, and what was it?'
'That is more than I can tell you. The proprietor is constantly asking the question, and has even gone to the expense of repeatedly advertising. I shouldn't wonder if, by this time, he had gotten a satisfactory response. I went and listened to the customary description. The silence that ensued was broken by a miserable skeptic, whose ill-regulated aspirations betrayed his insular prejudice, 'Vot is it? arf hanimal, eh? t'other day, I stuck a pin into him, and ses he, 'Dam yez!' Vot is it, eh?' Thus did this wretch, by implication, endeavor to unsettle the opinions of the audience, none too definite, perhaps, before.
'It is singular the distrust with which a thankless public has long come to regard the efforts of one whose aim it has ever been to combine instruction with amusement. Do you remember an itinerant expedition sent forth, years ago, by the same grand purveyor? There was a Car of Juggernaut, you may recollect, drawn by twenty little pigs of elephants. That show I also attended, and was well repaid for going. Near the entrance of the tent was a large cage, peopled with the gayest denizens of tropic life, macaws, cockatoos, paroquets—what know I?—a feathered iridescence, that sulked prehensile or perched paradisiacal in their iron house. Two youths entered; one paused admiringly. 'Come along, Jack,' remonstrated the other, hurrying him on by the arm, 'them darned things is only painted.' He wasn't going to see his friend imposed upon and his admiration extorted under false pretenses. Not if he knew it! Mr. B—— couldn't do him!
'Painted! Ay, Jonathan—and if Church or Kensett, look you, could only get at those pigments! could find the oil-and-color men that filled that order! ah me! what opaline skies! what amethystine day-breaks! what incarnadine sunsets we should have! The palette for that work was laid by angels, from tubes long hidden in the choicest crypts of the vast elaboratory, and those transcendent tints.
'Nature's own sweet and cunning hand laid on,'
Painted! to be sure.
'For this wicked specimen of infidelity, I was presently overpaid by a charming bit of belief. At the further end of the great tent was a case, containing divers wax effigies of eminent personages; the Czar, Prince Albert, General Spitzentuyfel—what know I? You may see them any day, (if you happen to have two York shillings,) at the sumptuous home to which they have returned from those travels. There they stood, side by side, an imposing company, forever shiny in the face, like Mrs. Wittitterly's page, and with eyes magnificently superior to any thing so sordid as speculation. All were finely befrogged, and ruched, and epauletted, and, for the most part, they sported moustaches. It happened that I had the latter adornment—a variety then—on my own mug.
While recognizing them—they were old acquaintances—I felt a gentle pull at my skirt, and looking down, was aware of a little tot, some three years old, who asked, pointing to the counterfeit presentments in the show-case: 'Didyou come out o' there?' The innocent! he little knew what an extinguisher he was clapping on me. 'No, sonny,' said I, looking down on the little nose, itself a bit of wax, between two peaches. The soft impeachment proceeded—'Well, where do yer belong? do yer belong in with the bear?' for there was a plantigrade there too. But I reckon that will do for bears, this time.'
'I should think so! They'll be dreaming about 'em all night.'
'Dick, how much of all this is true?'
'The whole, barring a few verbal interpolations.'
'Wal, I've seed shows,' moralized Jonas, 'a good many on 'em; but I couldn't tell the yarns about 'em that Mr. Richard, here, does. He figurs on 'em considerable, I 'xpect.''
A distinguished French writer once remarked, that the position of the colored race in America includes in itself every element of romance. The fortunes of this great human family; its relations to the white race, with which it is growing up side by side; its developments, its struggles, and its coming destiny, must hold in the future an historic interest of which it would be difficult beforehand to form an intelligent appreciation. The political events of the last few months have fairly opened this new historic page; and though, for the most part, its recording lines still lie behind the cloud, the first few words, charged with deep import to us and to all men, are becoming legible to every eye.
We can no longer view the colored race as a mere mass of ignorance and degradation lying quiescent beneath the white man's foot, and, except as a useful species of domestic animal, of little consequence to us or to the world. We see to-day, its fortunes and those of our own race blended together in a great struggle based on political, moral, and religious questions, and leading to a series of events of which not one of us as yet can foretell the conclusion.
The collective romance of the race is now but just opening to us; but its individual romance dawned upon us years ago. Long as we can remember, we have heard of one and another of that depressed people struggling to escape from an overwhelming bondage. We have known that such attempts were marked by scenes of thrilling interest, by intense earnestness of purpose, by the most powerful emotions of hope and fear, by startling adventures, ending sometimes in hopeless tragedy, sometimes in a dearly-bought success. Before the fugitive lay on one hand death, or worse than death; on the other, liberty beneath the cold North-star.
Some years ago, these elements of romance, with the moral principles lying at their root, were laid hold of by Mrs. Stowe. The wonderful enthusiasm with which her work was received, the avidity with which it was read all the world over, showed how wide and deep was the sympathy which the position of the colored race in America was calculated to excite.
I suppose there are few people living on the border-line dividing the North from the South, who can not recall exciting incidents and scenes of painful interest connected with the fugitive slave, occurring within their own knowledge, and often beneath their own eyes. During the few years when I grew from childhood to youth, in the neighborhood of Cincinnati, I can recall many such incidents. I remember being startled, from time to time, by sorrowful events of this nature that so frequently occur in Western cities, owing to their close proximity to the South, and to the continual arrival of steamboats from the slaveholding States. Once I remember, it was a family of half-caste children, brought to the very levee by their white father. He had made the journey during his death-struggle, hoping to leave his children free men upon free ground: but just as he approached the levee, he died; and his heir, in eager pursuit, seized the children around their father's lifeless form, before they had time to land, and hurried them away, his hopeless, helpless slaves. Then it was a woman with a child in her arms, flying through the great thoroughfares of the city, with her pursuers behind her—a mad, wild, brutal chase. Then it was a pretty mulatto child, the pride and delight of its parents, abstracted in the evening by prowling thieves, from a colored family in our immediate vicinity. Lost forever! never more to be heard of by its terrified and sorrowing parents! Then came the terrible tragedy of that poor mother who, being seized as she was escaping with her children, and thrown into jail, 'preferred for her dear ones the guardianship of angels to the oppression of man,' and killed them in the prison with her own hands, one by one, the jailer only entering in time to arrest the knife as she was about to strike it into her own despairing heart.
But though from time to time circumstances such as these were noised abroad and made known to all, I knew that there were innumerable thrilling stories, often less tragic in their conclusion, known only to the more successful fugitive and his own immediate friends. I heard rumors of an underground railway, as it was termed, a mysterious agency keeping watch for fugitives, and assisting them on their journey, passing them on secretly and speedily from point to point on their way to Canada. I knew that such a combination existed on my right hand and on my left, and under my very eyes; but who might be concerned in it, or how it might be managed, I could not in the least divine. One day a gleam of light came to me upon the subject. Our minister, a good old man, who preached with great eloquence on the subject of human depravity, and pointedly enough upon many of the sins of the age, but who had never taken any clear and open ground on the subject of slavery, had a daughter who was warmly and avowedly anti-slavery in principle. We became friends; and as my intimacy with her increased, we sometimes spoke of the fugitives.
One day she owned to me that she had some connection with this underground railway, principally in the way of providing with old clothing the destitute creatures who were arriving—generally at unexpected moments—barefoot, and with scarce a rag upon their backs to protect them from the bitter cold of the Canadian winter, which even under the best circumstances is so sadly trying to the negro constitution.
She told me that as the agents in the neighborhood were few and poor, and as these sudden calls admitted of no delay, they were sometimes unable to provide the required clothing; and she asked me, in case of such an emergency, if she might sometimes apply to me for some of the articles of which they might be in especial need. From that time Canada became the ultimate destination of all my old clothes. I could imagine superannuated cloaks and shawls wrapped around dusky and shivering shoulders, and familiar bonnets walking about Canada in their old age on the woolly heads of poor fugitive negro women.
It was but a short time after our conversation that the first call came. One bitter winter's night, word was sent me that a family had arrived—father, mother, and several young children, all utterly destitute. The articles which their friends were least able to provide, and which would therefore be particularly acceptable, were shoes for the boys, and warm clothing of every kind for the woman. The latter requirement was soon provided for. An old purple bonnet that had already seen good service in the world, a quilted skirt, and sundry other articles were soon looked up and repaired to meet the poor creature's necessities—but shoes for the boys! The message had been very urgent upon that point. Shoes! shoes! any sort of shoes! Now our boys had, for the most part, grown up and departed, and in vain I rummaged through the garret—that receptacle of ancient treasures—for relics of the past, in the way of masculine shoes and boots. I was giving it up in despair, when suddenly an idea occurred to me. It had happened, in days long past, that a French lady of our acquaintance had broken up housekeeping, and we had stored a part of her furniture in our spacious garrets. Ere long it had all been reclaimed except two articles, which had somehow or other remained behind. The first was a handsomely mounted crayon drawing, representing a remarkably ugly young man with heavy features and a most unprepossessing expression of countenance. Below this drawing, maternal pride and affection had caused to be inscribed in clear, bold letters, these two words: 'My Son.' The second piece of property remaining behind with 'my son's portrait, were 'my son's elegant French boots—a wonderful pair, shiny as satin, and of some peculiar and exquisite style, long and narrow, with sharp-pointed and slightly turned-up toes. They were of beautiful workmanship, but being made of a firm and unaccommodating material, and in form utterly unadapted to any possible human foot, they had probably pinched 'my son's feet so unendurably that no amount of masculine vanity or fortitude could long support the torture, and with a sigh of regret he had no doubt been forced to relinquish them ere their first early bloom had departed, or the beautiful texture of the sole-leather had lost its delicate, creamy tint. These two articles had long lain in a corner of the garret, to the infinite amusement of the children of the family, who were never weary of allusions to 'my son,' and 'my son's boots. In process of time the portrait also was reclaimed, but the deserted boots still occupied their corner of the garret, year after year, until there were no children left to crack their jokes at their comical and dandified appearance. Upon these elegant French boots I pounced, in this sore dilemma, and as my messenger was waiting, without time for a moment's reflection, I bundled them in with the rest of the articles, and dispatched them at once to their destination.
Scarcely had the messenger departed than I sat down to laugh. I thought of the brother, who had especially distinguished himself in his boyish days, by witticisms upon those famous boots, and I recalled to mind, also, a slightly exaggerated description of the negro foot, with which he had been wont to indulge his young companions. This foot he would describe as very broad and flat, with the leg planted directly in the centre, leaving an equal length for the toes in front and for the heel behind.
Now, although I had never given credence to these exact proportions, I still remained under the impression that there was a peculiarity in the negro foot, that the heel was somewhat more protuberant than in the European foot, and rather broad, it might also well be supposed to be, in its natural and unpinched condition. The whole scene came vividly before my imagination; the unfortunate family handing round in dismay those exquisite French boots, vainly striving, one after another, to insert their toes into them, but finding among their number no Cinderella whom the wonderful shoe would fit. I figured them at last descending to a little fellow six years old, or thereabouts, whose poor little feet might possibly be planted in the centre of the boots, and thus, in default of any other protection, be saved for a time from frost and snow. My mind was divided between amusement at the final destination of these celebrated relics, and regret that I had nothing more suitable to send. I could only hope that this part of the poor fugitives' outfit might be more successfully provided for from some other quarter.
Winter passed by; spring came, succeeded by long, hot mid-summer days of the western summer. Our neighbors, for the most part, were scattered to the North and East—gone to the lakes, to New-York, to Boston, or to some summer resort upon the Atlantic coast—all who could, breaking the long-continued and oppressive heat by a pleasant excursion to some cooler clime. My friend, the minister's daughter, and most of our own family, had gone like the rest, and I was left in a somewhat solitary state to while away the long hours of those burning summer days, in the monotony of a large and empty country-house.
One day at noon, I strolled to the door, seeking a breath of air. I stood within the doorway, and looked out. Before me extended a level tract of green grass, thinly planted with young shade-trees. At some distance beyond, melting away in haze beneath the glowing sun, a little wood extended toward the north-east, meeting at its extremity another and denser wood of much greater extent. This first little wood had been in our young days our favorite resort. We had explored every turn in it again and again; we knew well every tree upon its outskirts, beneath whose shade some little patch of green grass might serve for a resting-place, or a pic-nic ground; we were familiar with every old trunk with wide-extending roots, in whose protecting cavities that little, speckled, pepper-and-salt-looking flower, the spring harbinger, nestled, peeping forth toward the end of March, ere the ice and snow had well melted, or any other green thing dared show itself. Deeper in the shade lay the soft beds of decaying leaves, where somewhat later the spring beauties would start forth, clothing the brown and purple tints of the ground with touches of delicate pink. With them would come that fair little wind-flower, the white anemone, and the blue and yellow violets, soon to be followed by that loveliest of all Ohio wild flowers, called by the country people, 'Dutchman's breeches,' but in more refined parlance, denominated 'pantalettes,' looking for all the world as if the fairies had just done a day's washing and hung out their sweet little nether garments to dry, suspended in rows from the tiny rods that so gracefully bend beneath the pretty burden. Pure white are they, or of such a delicate flesh-tint, the fairy washerwoman might well be proud of her work. Other spots were sacred to the yellow lily, with its singular, fierce-looking leaf, spotted like a panther's hide, growing in solitary couples, protecting between them the slender stalk with its drooping yellow bell. Later in the season come the larger and more brilliantly tinted flowers, the wild purple larkspur, the great yellow buttercup, and the lilac flox. There were dusky depths in the wood, too, into which, book in hand, we sometimes retreated from the mid-summer heat into an atmosphere of moist and murky coolness. There we found the Indian pipe, or ghost-flower—leaf, stem, and flower, all white as wax, turning to coal-black if long brought into light, or if pressed between the leaves of a book.
This first little wood, then, though somewhat dark and damp, had its pleasant and cheerful associations; but the wood beyond was weird and dismal, with its dense shade, its fallen trees rotting in dark gullies, its depth of decaying leaves, into which your feet sank down and down, until in alarm you doubted whether there were really any footing beneath, or if it would be possible ever to extricate yourself again. These two woods touched only at one point, included in an angle between a little burying-ground, whose solemn associations increased the gloom of the farther wood. As children, we had been wont, in adventurous moods, to cross one corner of the burying-ground, and striking into a ravine within this wood, down which trickled a little dark stream, wade up it barefoot, with grave, half-awe-stricken faces, until the stream sank again beneath the dead leaves, emptying itself I know not where. We had given wild and fantastic names to some of the ways and places about this ravine, but the rest of the wood was so little attractive and enjoyable that we generally avoided it, unless in some ramble of unusual length, we wished to strike across one portion of it, making thereby a somewhat shorter cut into the turnpike road a mile or two beyond.
As I stood this hot summer-day looking toward the woods, suddenly there stood before me a strongly-made middle-aged negro woman. Whether she had glided round the house, or in what way she had come so suddenly and quietly before me, I do not know; but there she stood, bare-headed, and humbly asking for a piece of bread, or any cold food that I could spare. Her appearance struck me with surprise; her skin was of a deep, rich, yellow brown, her face soft and kindly in expression, but wonderfully swollen, and with the appearance of being one mass of bruises. Her red, inflamed eyes seemed to weep incessantly and involuntarily; whatever might be the expression of her mouth, so inflamed and suffering were they, that they were pitiful to see; and to complete the picture, the stump of one of her arms, which had been severed at some former period, close to the shoulder, was but partially hidden by her ragged, low-necked dress. Her whole appearance struck me as the most pathetic I had ever beheld.
I speedily brought the poor thing some bread and cold meat, which she received with warm expressions of gratitude; and she then told me that she was a fugitive slave, and having come here at night with her husband, at the approach of day they had hidden themselves within the wood.
'And oh!' she said, 'you would be sorry if you could see my husband. He is not an old man at all, but you would think he was very old, if you could see him; his hair is so white, his face is so wrinkled, and his back all bowed down. He is so cowed and frightened that he doesn't dare come out of the wood, though he is almost starving. We ran away a little while ago, and they caught us and took us down the river to Louisville; and there they just knocked us down on the ground like beeves that they were going to kill, and beat us until we could neither stand nor move. The moment we got a chance, we ran away again. But my poor husband shakes like a leaf, and can not travel far at once, he is so frightened.'
Then she spoke of her bruised face, and said that the sun hurt her eyes so dreadfully, begging me to give her some old thing to cover them with and keep off the light. 'It would be such a mercy,' she said, and 'Heaven will bless you for helping us when we are so distressed.'
I betook myself again to the garret; there were plenty of old bonnets, to be sure; but, alas! all of them were of such a style that they might serve, indeed, to adorn the back of the head, but were none of them of any manner of use to shelter a pair of distressed eyes. While rummaging about, I came at length upon something which struck me as just the thing required; it was an ancient relic, more venerable even than 'my son's boots,' but in excellent preservation. It was a head-dress that had been manufactured for my mother, some twenty years ago, before the invention of sun-bonnets, or broad hats. It was called a calash, and was constructed of green silk outside and white silk within, reeved upon cane, similar in fashion to the 'uglies,' which, at the present day, English ladies are wont to prefix to the front of their bonnets when traveling or rusticating by the seaside; but instead of being something to attach to the bonnet, it was a complete bonnet in itself, gigantic and bow-shaped, which would fold together flat as a pancake, or opening like an accordeon, it could be drawn forward over the face to any required extent, by means of a ribbon attached to the front. It was effective, light, and cool, and the green tint afforded a very pleasant shade to the eyes. I seized upon it and carried it to the poor woman, who received it with transport, clapped it immediately upon her head and drew it well down over her face. She took up the bread and meat, telling me with many thanks, that as soon as she and her husband had eaten, they should continue on their way, not waiting for the night, as they were very anxious to find themselves further from the Kentucky border. I wished her God speed, and watched her as she crossed the open turf, her bundle in her hand, and the great green calash nodding forward upon her head, until she disappeared within the wood.
She had scarce been ten minutes out of my sight when a very unpleasant misgiving came over me. That great green calash that she had been so glad to receive—what an odd and unusual head-dress it was! Surely, it would attract attention; it would render her a marked object. If her pursuers should once get upon her traces, it would enable them to track her from point to point. I wished, with all my heart, it had been less conspicuous, and I began to think that my researches in the garret were not destined to be particularly fortunate. I wished exceedingly that my friend the minister's daughter, had been at home, that I might have taken counsel with her and have had the benefit of her experience in such matters.
As I was still standing in the doorway, ruminating upon the subject with a troubled soul, I saw in the distance the figure of a student of theology, whom I knew to be a friend of our old minister and his daughter, and thoroughly anti-slavery in principle. I hastened after him, told him the circumstances of the case, and imparted to him my misgivings. He promised me to put the matter into safe hands, and to have a look-out kept for the wanderers. After a few hours he returned to me with the welcome intelligence that the fugitives had been overtaken on the turnpike road a mile or two beyond, by one of the emissaries of the underground railway in a covered cart, in which they had been comfortably stowed, and safely forwarded on their way, and that from that time forth they would be speedily and quietly passed from point to point and from friend to friend, until they reached their destination.
A weight was lifted from my heart, I could have danced for joy; and I learned with astonishment, that the agent, who had come like an angel to the relief of the poor fugitives, was no other than a little ugly negro man, who had often worked in our garden, and who was usually employed to do the roughest and dirtiest work in the neighborhood. His crooked figure, his bandy legs, and little ape-like head, had always led me to regard him as the most unpromising specimen of his race that I had ever beheld; but from that time forth I regarded him with respect. The poor crooked form, distorted by hard toil, contained a heart, and the little ape-like head a brain, to help his outcast brethren in the hour of need.
As time passed on, the borders of the wood of which I have already spoken, began to be invaded by the woodman. Rough, ragged bits were cleared, and cheap, slight, frame houses sprang up, some of them erected and owned by the workmen in the neighborhood, some of them put up by speculators, and rented to a poor class of tenants. Playing about outside one of these shanties, a pretty child might soon be seen, a fair-haired, blue-eyed boy of five years old or thereabouts. So regular were his features, so white his skin, it would hardly have been suspected that he had any but European blood in his veins, had it not been known that the house was occupied by colored people, to whom he seemed to belong. An old man was said to be lying ill in the house, which was rented by two colored women, who were anxious to get work in the neighborhood, or washing and sewing to do at home. At that time I was preparing for rather a long journey; and on inquiring for some one to sew for me, Sallie Smith was sent to me. When she came, I learned that she was an inmate of one of the new cottages, and the grandmother of the pretty child of whom we have spoken.
Sallie Smith came and went, carrying home pieces of work, which she dispatched quickly and well. She was a fine-looking mulatto-woman, in the prime of life, with wavy black hair and sparkling eyes, though her features preserved the negro cast. Her manners had a warmth and geniality belonging to good specimens of her race, with a freedom that was odd and amusing, but never offensive. When she brought home her work, with some comical expression of fatigue, she would sink upon the ground, as if utterly exhausted by the walk and the heat, and sitting at my feet, would play with the hem of my dress, as she talked over what she had done, and what still remained to be done; or related to me, in answer to my inquiries, scraps of her past history, her thoughts about her race in general, her religious experiences, and the affairs of her church in Cincinnati, of which she was an enthusiastic member.
On inquiring about the health of her old, bed-ridden husband, I learned, to my surprise, that he was a white man.
'You see,' she said, 'he wasn't a gentleman at all; he was one of those mean whites down South.' As she said this, the scornful emphasis on mean whiteswas something quite indescribable. Truly, the condition of poor whites at the South must be pitiable indeed, to be regarded with such utter contempt by the very slaves themselves.
'We lived,' she continued, 'in a miserable little hut, in a pine wood, and I was his only slave. I kept house, and worked for him. He was one of the shiftless kind, and there was nothing hecould do. Oh! he was a poor, miserable creature, I tell you, always in debt! Well, we had two children, a girl and a boy.'
'Did he ever have any other wife?' I inquired.
She fired up, indignantly. 'No, indeed; I guess I'd never have stood that! Well, he was always promising to come to a Free State; but he was always in debt, and couldn't get the money to come, and Jane, she was growing up a very pretty girl, and when she was about seventeen, the creditors came and seized her, and sold her for a slave, to pay his debts.'
'What! sold his own daughter!' I exclaimed.
'Why, yes. She was my daughter, too, you know; so she was his property, and so he couldn't hinder them from taking her.'
'How he must have felt!' I exclaimed.
She caught me up quickly. 'Felt!why, you know how a father must feel in such a case. It broke him down worse than ever. Yes, we felt bad enough when they carried Jane away. Well, she was bought by the principal creditor; he was a rich man, with a large plantation, and a wife and children, and lots of slaves, and he kept Jane at the house, to sew for him, and by-and-by she had a child that was almost as white as his other children. You see,' she added apologetically, 'Jane didn't know it was wrong; she was only a poor sinner, who didn't know nothing. She had never been to church or learned any thing, and I didn't know much either then. It was only when I came North and joined the church, that I began to know about such things. But I grieved day and night for Jane, that I couldn't get her back. Well, for a time we were out of debt, you see, and I persuaded my husband to come right up North, for fear he should get into debt again, and they should seize the boy too; so we came to Cincinnati, and we got the boy a place there, and he's doing very well.
'There I joined the Church; but I couldn't help thinking of Jane, and grieving after her all the time, and I prayed to the Lord for her, and I prayed and prayed, and by-and-by, I don't know how it happened, but her master let her bring the child and come and pay me a visit. It seemed as if the Lord had blinded him, so that he did not know that if she came North, she might be free. He was that stupid, he had not the least suspicion that she'd stay; he thought she'd come right back to him. And when she did not come, he wrote to her, and wrote again; and when still she didn't come, he came himself to fetch her. But I took care to have Jane out of the way, and saw him myself. And he coaxed and persuaded, and he stormed and he threatened; oh! he was awful mad. But I jist shook my fist in his face, and said, 'You ole slaveholder, you, you jist go back to ole Virginny; you niver git my daughter agin!''
As she uttered these words, Sallie compressed her mouth with a look of dogged resolution; her black eyes glowed with smothered anger, and she shook her fist energetically in the air, as if the phantom of the Virginian slaveholder were still before her. After a pause, she recovered herself and continued:
'How he did go on! He cursed and he swore; but it was of no manner of use; I'd nothin' else to say to him, and by-and-by he had to go away; you see, he couldn't do nothin', because Jane had come North with his consent. So Jane and I, we came up here, and we get what work we can, and take care of the child, and nurse the old man. He's miserable! he don't often leave his bed, and he's not likely to get much better, for he's old and completely broke.'
So Sallie had told me her history; but she had not done. Her active mind had found an outlet in the little negro church at Cincinnati, of which she was a member. Her intense religious enthusiasm mingled with her deep perception of the wrongs and cruelties inflicted upon her race. Her soul lay like a glowing volcano beneath that easy, careless Southern manner, which might have led one at first to regard her as merely a jolly, ignorant, negro-woman.
At a word which one day touched upon this chord, her work fell from her hands, her eyes flashed, and she poured forth, in old Scripture phraseology, her indignation, her aspirations, and her glowing faith. She wholly identified her race with the Jews in their wanderings and their captivity, and the old descriptive and prophetic words fell from her lips, as if wrung from her heart, startling one by the wondrous fitness of the application. There was such magnetic power in her intense earnestness, her strong emotions, and her certain and exultant trust in God and his providence, that it held me spell-bound. I listened, as if one of the old prophets had risen before me. I never heard eloquence like it; for I never witnessed such an intense sense of the reality and force of the cause which had called it forth. I can not recall her words; but I remember, after describing the cruelty and apparent hopelessness of her people's captivity, their groans, their prayers to the Lord, day after day and year after year, their darkness and despair, their still-continued crying unto God for help, she concluded by describing how the Lord at length would appear for their relief. 'He will come,' she said; 'he will shake and shake the nations, and will say: 'Let my people go free.' And though there should seem to be no way, he shall open the way before them, and they shall go forth free. They shall sing and give thanks, for in the Lord have they trusted, and they shall never be confounded.' She paused. Her words made a deep impression upon me. At that time, how dark and hopeless seemed the way! nothing then pointed to a coming deliverance. Blind faith in God alone was left us; but how cold seemed the faith and trust of the warmest advocate of Emancipation among us, to the glowing certainty of God's help, which possessed the soul of this poor, ignorant negro-woman. Sallie took up her shawl and bonnet, and was about to go. I roused myself, and looking at her with a half-smile, 'You speak in church?' I said.
An instant change passed over her face. Her eyes twinkled a moment, with a shrewd appreciation of my guess. She drew herself up, with a gleam of pride and pleasure; she nodded an assent, and wrapping her shawl around her, she turned away.
I have never seen her since; but her truly prophetic words often recur to me now, when the Lord is shaking the nations; when, if we fail to listen to his words, and to let his poor, oppressed people go, he must surely shake and shake again. Every day, our concern in the negro race becomes a clearer and more self-evident fact. Every bulletin impresses it anew upon our thoughts. Every soldier laid to rest upon the battle-field engraves it still deeper upon the nation's heart.
Principles and Practice of Early and Infant School Education. By James Currie, A.M. Third edition. Edinburgh: 1861.
Papers for the Teacher. No. 1: American Contributions to Pedagogy. Edited by Henry Barnard, LL.D. New York: 1860.
Education; Intellectual, Moral, and Physical. By Herbert Spencer. New York: 1861.
A Series of School and Family Readers. Compiled by Marcius Willson. New York: 1860-1.
Primary Object Lessons, for a Graduated Course of Development. By N.A. Calkins. New York: 1861.
Annual Reports of Superintendents of Schools: City of New York, 1861; Oswego, 1860; Chicago, 1861.
The New York Teacher. Monthly. Albany, Vols. 7-10: 1858-61.
'The most certain means,' Beccaria wrote in the preceding century, 'of rendering a people free and happy, is, to establish a perfect method of education.' If, in this conclusion, Beccaria only reiterates an opinion at least tacitly held long before his time by some of the Grecian sages, still, the later assertion of the principle should, it seems, derive some additional weight from the circumstance of the time allowed in the interim for repeated reconsiderations of the question. The theologian may interpose, that, toward rendering a people free and happy, the influences of religion must constitute the most efficacious, the dominant agency. But when we admit that man isone,—that heart and hand are not only alike, but together subjects for culture,—then it will be seen that religion falls into its place in the one comprehensive scheme of human education; and we discover that Beccaria's position, instead of being assailed from this point of view, becomes, according as our conception of the case is truthful and clear, correspondingly strengthened.
The ease, however, with which we utter those little qualifiers, 'free' and 'happy,' observed to stand here in the positive or absolute degree, and not in any degree of comparison, is noticeable. For 'degrees of comparison' are always concessions of steps down, even when they most stoutly present themselves as steps up. Were all men simply wise and just, all predicating of certain men that they were more, or most, wiseor just, would be at once absurd and without utility. It is our intensified adjective that confesses fatally the prior fact of a coming short, and by an amount indefinitely great, of the simple, absolute standard. So, to come once for all to ridding ourselves of comparative forms of speech, and to be warranted to look for the rendering of a people, in the simple, positive sense, free and happy, would be, in the expressive language of one 'aunt Chloe' respecting the 'glory' to which she aspired, 'a mighty thing!' On the other hand, so far have our race, up to this moment, and without a single decided instance in exception, fallen short of aught that could be styled a perfect method of education, and so closely must educational training affect every nascent man or woman in those vitalest particulars,—character and capability,—that, could the perfect method sought once be brought into effective operation on the plastic child-manhood of a nation, or of all nations, we are not prepared to deny the possibility of any results therefrom to humanity, even the grandest utterable or conceivable. Admitting such method found, and in process, Beccaria could have dispensed with his tell-tale 'most,' and written, The certain means of rendering a people free and happy, is, to establish a perfect method of education.
To secure, therefore, so great an end: First, find—the perfect educational method! The recipe is brief; the labor it imposes is more than Herculean. To measure it, we should have to find the ratio in which mind transcends matter, or that in which the broad generalizations of genius in the materials of science surpass the poor conceptions that the wild Australian must almost utter audibly in his own ear to realize that he at all possesses them.
In the 5,865 years which the most unquestioned belief accords to the history of man on our planet, could we suppose the average duration of life throughout equal to that of a generation now, there would have been time for 177 generations of working, planning, inventive men—of men desiring at each period the best they could conceive of, and framing the best schemes they were capable of to attain it. Here has been space for the slow rise and fall of nation after nation,—vast solitary tides heaving at long intervals the face of a wide, living, sullen sea: and history reports that the nations have actually risen, flourished, and fallen. Here has been space for exquisite triumphs of art; for the late birth, and nevertheless large progress, of the sciences concerned about phenomena of physical nature; the art triumphs have been achieved, and the germs of sciences are in our possession. Here has been space for the multiplication, upon all imaginable themes, of books, to a number and volume utterly beyond the powers of the most prolonged and assiduous life even to peruse; and the books crowd our alcoves, and meet us wherever men are wont to make their abode or transit. Here has been space for the organization, though so long impracticable and late conceived, of a system of daily diffusion of intelligence, and to such a pitch as almost to bring the world freshly photographed to our eyes with each returning sun; and, lo! the photographs are here; they await us at the breakfast or the counting table. Here has been space for the springing up among the people, at distances of years or centuries, of profound educating intellects, marked by clear insight, large human love, and patient self-sacrifice, and contributing to the growth of humanity by worthy examples, and by propounding successively more and more rational modes for the informing and developing of youthful minds; and, see! Confucius, Socrates and Plato, Petrarch, Bacon, Comenius, Pestalozzi, Père Girard, Arnold of Rugby, and Horace Mann—to make no mention of many co-laborers among the dead, and earnest successors among the living—stepping from their niches in the vanishing corridors of history, lay at our feet the treasures accumulated through their patient and clear thought and their faithful experience.
Will it then readily be believed—and yet it is unquestionably true—that, to this hour, neither the schools nor the teachers can be found that are in possession and practice of a well-defined, positively guiding, and always trustworthymethod of intellectual, and other means and steps by which to conduct and consummate the education of our children? Note, we do not here declare the want of the true and universal method of educating, if there can be such a thing; but we distinctly assert that no school and no living teacher employs or conforms to any well-defined, positive, and, in and for its purposes, completed method of educating the young; nor, since this latter is a supposition better pleasing certain critically-minded gentlemen, have we in anything like clear delineation and positive practice the several methods that may be imagined requisite for minds of varying bent and capacity. If we sum up in one word the most pervading, constant, and obvious characteristic of our schools, and of the teaching and the learning in them to this day, that word must be, immethodical. Although admitting that the education of the young should distinctly embrace the four departments of a training, physical, intellectual, moral, and social, yet, for the sake of clearness in our discussion and its results, not less than through the necessities of a restricted space, we shall here confine our remarks wholly to education in its intellectual aspect.
To move, for each subject, and for each part of it essayed, always along the right way, and by the true character and order of steps,—that is the thing to be desired, and which is, as yet, unattained. As a consequence, the prosecution of studies is by attempts and in ways that are generally imperfect, at best make-shift or provisional, often radically erroneous or worthless. Doubtless, the defects in method are now less glaring and influential at the two extremes of the sensibly-conducted infant school, and the well-appointed and leisurely collegiate course. There is no true study that is not what the origin of the word implies—STUDIUM, a work ofzeal, fondness, eager desire, voluntary endeavor, interest. Such study has two essential characteristics; where these are wanting, study does not exist; the appearance of it is a sham; and though results disconnected and partial are attained, real acquisition is meager, and apparent progress deceptive.
Of these characteristics, the first is what the word directly expresses—zealous exertion on the part of the student's own intellectual powers, a zeal literally pre-venting all other incentives, or, at the least, subordinating them, through pure love of finding out that which is new and curious, or true. In two words, this first essential of study, and fraught with all the desirable results of study, is genuine INTELLECTUAL WORK. It is the nisusof the intelligent principle to bring itself into ascertained and well-ordered relations with the facts, agencies, and uses of nature, alike in her physical and spiritual domains. The bright-minded boy or girl who may not comprehend the feeling or thought when so uttered, neverthelessknows it, and, for his or her range of effort, as keenly as does the adult explorer.
But, when a mind thus works, the truth that it can never advance beyond missing or unfound links in the chain of thought does not need to be taught to it. The impossibility of so doing has become a matter of experience and of certain conviction. The mathematician knows, that, beyond that form of his equation containing an actual mis-step, or a positively irresoluble expression, all subsequent forms or values involving that step or expression are vitiated, and the results they seem to show substantially worthless. Now, every actually working mind, and at every stage, from schoolboy perplexities over algebraic signs, up to philosophic ventures in quest of one remove further of solid ground, in respect to the interrelations of physical forces, or the law of development of organized forms, finds itself in precisely the predicament of the mathematician: it feels no footing and accomplishes no advance beyond that link in the chain of fact and thought, which, to its comprehension, stands as uncertain, erroneous, wanting, or inexplicable. This is so from the very nature of our knowing faculties and of knowledge. The true intellectual worker, encountering interruption through any of these conditions, goes back to view his difficulty from a better vantage ground, or attempts to approach it from either side, or, failing these resources, bows to the necessity, and suffers no harm, other than stoppage and loss of time. Thus, the second characteristic of true study is in the rigidly natural and unfailing CONSECUTION of the steps and processes by which the intellectual advance is made. A mind so advancing never flatters itself of being able to grasp that which, in the nature of knowledge, must be a consequent truth, until the antecedent or antecedents german to the question in hand have first been possessed by it. But in our schools, how vastly much is supposed to be taught, in which consequents come before antecedents, or are promiscuously jumbled up with them, or assert themselves, without so much as the grace to say to antecedents of any sort, 'By your leave.' Obviously, however, such could not be the character of so much of our teaching, did not the character of most of our books for schools exactly correspond with it. And the books do correspond: they not only give to a faulty teaching its cue, but, now that the theory of education is being so much discussed, and in good degree improved, they constitute one of the most influential causes of the almost hopeless lagging of its practice.
Now, how is it that pupils get on at all with such lessons and such books? The explanation is a simple one; but the consequences it is fraught with are not trifling. The simple fact is, pupils are not yet allowed to study (in the best sense and manner of that process) the subjects they are prosecuting. When, now, they undertake in earnest to study, they are but too constantly confused and delayed by the no-method of the treatises they are being carried through. In a course of earnest intellectual work, the pupil must too often, with his present aids, become aware of absence of comprehension; he is ever and anon brought to stand still and cast about for the unsupplied preliminary facts and truths, for the unhinted hypotheses and inferences, which his situation and previous study do not enable him to supply, but which are necessary to a comprehension of the results set down for him to deal with. Barren results, per se, our learners are now too much required to ingest; and such they are expected to assimilate into intellectual life and power! As well feed a boy on bare elements of tissue—carbon, sulphur, oxygen, and the rest; or, yet more charitably, dissect out from his allowance of tenderloin, lamb, or fowl, a due supply of ready-made nerve and muscular fiber, introduce and engraft these upon the nerve and muscle he has already acquired, and then assure ourprotegé, that, as the upshot of our masterly provision for his needs, we expect him to become highly athletic and intellectual—that so he is to evolve larger streams of muscular energy and more vivid flashes of spiritual force!
As it is, we too nearly put the pupil's intellect asleep by our false method; and he endures it because of his unnatural condition. He thinks he 'gets on' with it; and in an imperfect way and degree does so. Rarely, we find, does such a one get so far as into the 'conics;' and he is not certain to be in the habit of reading reviews: if we were sure, however, that he could comprehend and would meet with our simile, we would say to him, that the tardy inclination up which he now plods painfully, must, if graphically represented, be shown by an oblique line descending, in fact, below the curve of his possibilities, more rapidly even than it ascends above the horizontal cutting through the point of his setting out. True, with pupils who are spontaneously active-minded from the first, or who at some point in their course become positively awakened to brain-work, very much of the repressive influence of imperfect methods is prevented or overcome. The number of those so fortunate is doubtless small in the comparison. The few who wouldknow, by a necessity as imperative as that by which they must feed, and sleep, and probably toil with hands or head for subsistence, are able to supplement many of the deficiencies, and supersede some erroneous processes of our methods, by the play of their own powers of investigation upon and about their subject. To these, a false method can bring perplexity and delay, but not repression nor veritable intellectual torpor.
We assert, then, that from a course or manner of instruction from which those characteristics of true study—real work of the learner's faculties, and a just consecution of steps—are largely omitted or excluded, the best sort of intellectual education can not, in the majority of instances, accrue. On the other hand, the method embodying these characteristics must present that unity, certainty, and guiding force hinted at in the outset. Concisely summed up, it is a method proceeding throughout by discovery, or, as we may say, by re-discovery of the truths and results to be acquired in each department of knowledge undertaken by the learner. In the absence of the one true method of intellectual advance, what should we expect but a confusion of clashing, imperfect, or tentative processes of instruction? He who could, to-day, ciceroned by some pedagogic Asmodeus, visit one hundred of our schools, or listen successively to a recitation on a given topic, conducted by one hundred qualified and faithful instructors, would find the methods and no-methods of introducing to the century of classes the truths of this self-same subject to be—and we do not mean in the personal element, which ought to vary, but in the radical substance and order of the theme—quite as numerous as the workmen observed; in fact, a conflicting and confusing display. Now, do causes, in any realm of being, forbear to produce fruit in effects? Are the laws of psychologic sequence less rigid and certain than those laws of physical sequence which determine in material nature every phenomenon, from planet-paths in space to the gathering of dew-drops on a leaf? If it were so, falsity or confusion in intellectual method might be pronounced a thing of trifling import, or wholly indifferent. But such suppositions are the seemings only of postulates floating through the brains of Ignorance or Un-heed, who really postulate nothing at all. If, on the contrary, we admit this inflexible relation of cause and result in the mental, as well as in the material world, and if we admit also that our school-methods are yet fragmentary, varying and tentative, then we are compelled to the conclusion, that at least the greater number of our schools are falling short, in the time and with the outlay invested, of doing their best and largest work, while in very many of our schools there must be steadily going forward a positive and potent mis-education!
If it be urged that these are in a degree deductive conclusions, let them be submitted to the test of fact. At least two important circumstances, it is admitted, will come in to complicate the inquiry: first, one purpose of school training is to divert the forming mind in a degree from sense toward thought, the latter being a less observable sort of product than that curiosity and store of facts attendant on activity of the merely perceptive powers; secondly, there is the growing absorption of the mental powers with increase of age in the practical, in meeting the necessities of life, which more and more displaces intellectual activity as a set pursuit, and leaves it to be manifested rather in the means than the ends, rather in the quality than in the products of one's thinking, and, at the best, rather as an embellishment than as the business of a career. And yet, in the mind which has passed through a proper school-training, there should be apparent certain decided qualities and results, which are manifested as, and as often as, opportunity for their exercise presents itself. The schooled mind should surely not possess a less active curiosity to observe and to know than did the same mind before entering school, but even a stronger, more self-directed, purposive and efficient zeal in such direction. Intellectual vivacity and point, clearness of conception, and truthfulness of generalization and of inference,—all these should appear in more marked degree, along with the increased sobriety and judgment, and the improved facility of practical adaptation, which properly characterize maturity of mind and habit. Now, we suggest the careful observation of any number of children, not yet sent to school, and that are favored with ordinarily sensible parents, and ordinarily happy homes; and then, the equally careful study of a like number who have just emerged from their school course, or have fairly entered on the business of life; and we warn the really acute and discriminating observer to look forward (in the majority of instances) to a disheartening result from his investigation! We are convinced that the net product of our immensely expansive, patient, and ardently sought schooling will, in a large proportion of all the cases, be found to consist in the imperfect acquirement and uncertain tenure of knowledge, upon a few rudimentary branches, often without definite understanding or habit of applying even so much to its uses, and usually without the conception or desire to make it the point of departure for life-long acquisition; and all this accompanied, too often, with actual loss of that spontaneous intellectual activity which began to manifest itself in the child, and which should have been fruiting now in, at the least, some degree of sound and true intellectuality. So, we are still left to expect mainly of Nature not only the germs of capacity, but the maturing of them; the latter, a work which Education surely ought to be competent to. Meanwhile, like a wearied and fretted pedagogue, Education complains of the bad materials Nature gives her, when she ought to be questioning whether she has yet learned to bring out the excellence of the material she has.
Is it not an expensive process, that thus amasses a certain quantity of knowledge at cost of the disposition, sometimes of the ability, to add to it through the whole of life? Really, schooling is short, and, contrasted with it, life is long; but what mischiefs may not the latter experience from the former! Let us clearly conceive, once, the aversion many of our boys and girls persistently feel toward the school, and of their leaving it, at the last, with rejoicing! Are we astonished that when they have fairly escaped, frivolity is, with the young woman, too apt to replace mental culture, and with the young man, vulgarity or exclusive living for 'the main chance?' That the men and women so educated are too receptive, credulous, pliant and unstable; that in too large a degree they lack discrimination, judgment, and the good sense and executive talent which plan understandingly, and work without sacrifice of honor, manhood, or spiritual culture, to a true success? But, if our instructors could find out, or if some other could find out for them, just howand by what steps it is that the young mind engages with nature and harvests knowledge, and if they should see, therefore, how to strike in better with the current of the young, knowing and thinking, to move with it, enlarge, direct and form it aright, properly insuring that the mind under their charge shall do its own work, and hence advance by consecutive and comprehended steps, we ask with confidence whether much of the notorious short-comings now manifest in the results of our patient efforts might not be replaced by an approach toward an intellectual activity, furnishing, completeness, and bent, more worthy of the name and the idea of education? We are not alone in questioning the tendencies of existing methods. Other pens have raised the note of alarm. Speaking on the character of the productof the English schools, Faraday says, 'The whole evidence appears to show that the reasoning faculties [mark, it is here the failure occurs, and here that it shows itself], in all classes of the community, are very imperfectly and insufficiently developed—imperfectly, as compared with the natural abilities, insufficiently, when considered with reference to the extent and variety of information with which they are called upon to deal.' Does not this strong language find equally strong warrant in current facts of individual conduct and of our social life?
That there is yet no recognized complete method in, and no ascertained science of education, the latest writings on the subject abundantly reiterate and confirm. The best of our annual School Reports, and the most recent treatises,—among which, notwithstanding the abatement we must make for their having been, through adventitious circumstances, pushed in our country to a sudden and not wholly merited prominence, Sir. Spencer's republished essays may be named,—while they acknowledge some progress in details, disclose an undertone of growing conviction of the incompetency and unsatisfactoriness of our present modes of teaching and training. The Oswego School Report, speaking of primary education, tells us 'There has been too much teaching by formulas;' and that 'We are quite too apt, in the education of children, to "sail over their heads," to present subjects that are beyond their comprehension,' etc. Its way of escape 'out of the rut' is by importation into our country of the object-lesson system, as improved from the Pestalozzian original through the labors of Mr. Kay, now Sir J.K. Shuttleworth, and his co-laborers, of the Home and Colonial Infant and Juvenile School Society, London. In the report of Mr. Henry Kiddle, one of the four making up the collective School Report of the City of New York for 1861, the radical error of our present teachers is very forcibly characterized, where the danger of the teachers is pointed out as that of becoming 'absorbed in the mechanical routine of their office, losing sight of the end in their exclusive devotion to what is only themeans—teaching the THING, but failing to instruct the PERSON—eager to pour in knowledge, but neglecting to bring out mind.' Is there not indicated in these words a real and a very grave defect of the manner in which subjects are now presented, studied, recited, and finished up in our schools? We think there is. And then, what is the effect of this study and teaching, with so much less thought toward the end than about thematerial?—what the result of this overlooking of the mind, the individuality, the person?—what the fruitage, at last, of having given so much time to the 'finishing up' of arithmetic, geography, and the rest, as to have failed to bring out the mind that was dealing with these topics, and is hereafter to have so many others to deal with? The physiologists have to tell us of a certain ugly result, occurring only in rare instances in the bodily organization, such that in a given young animal or human form the developing effort ceases before completion of the full structure; the individual remaining without certain fingers or limbs, sometimes without cranium or proper brain. They name this result one of 'arrest of development.' Is it not barely possible that our studies and recitations are yet in general so mal-adapted to the habitudes of the tender brain and opening faculties of childhood, as not merely often to allow, but even to inflict on the intellectual and moral being of the child a positive arrest of development? And if it be possible, what question can take precedence of one concerning the means of averting such a mischief? Pestalozzi intuitively saw and deeply felt the existence of this evil in his day, when, we may admit, it was somewhat more glaring than now. But Mr. Spencer truly characterizes Pestalozzi as, nevertheless, 'a man of partial intuitions, a man who had occasional flashes of insight, rather than a man of systematic thought;' as one who 'lacked the ability logically to co-ordinate and develop the truths he from time to time laid hold of;' and, at the same time, he accredits the great modern leader with a true idea of education, 'the due realization of [which] remains to be achieved.' How doubly important every rational attempt to achieve such realization—every well-considered effort to improve the method of the studies and the lessons—becomes but too apparent when we note the early age at which, as a rule, pupils must leave the schools, and the consequent brief space within which to evoke the faculties and to establish right intellectual habitudes. As an illustration drawn from the cities, where of course the school period is soonest ended, take the incidental fact disclosed by Mr. Randall in the New York School Report, that in that city the course of studies must be so framed as to allow of its completion, with many, at the preposterously early age of fourteen years—really the age at which study and mental discipline in the best sense just begin to be practicable!
In all directions, in the educational world, we are struck with the feeling and expression of a great need, though the questions as to just what it is, and just how to be met, have not been so distinctly answered. Let us agree with Mr. Currie, that 'Practical teaching can not be learned from books, even from the most exact "photographing" of lessons: it must be learned, like any other art or profession, by imitation of good models, and by practice under the eye of a master.' Yet it is true, however paradoxical the statement may appear, that practical teaching will gain quite as much when the school-books shall have been cast into the right form and method, as when all the teachers shall have been obliged to imitate good models, in a system of sound normal and model schools. What has given to the teaching of geometry its comparatively high educating value through centuries, and in the hands of teachers of every bent, caliber, and culture? What but the well-nigh inevitable, because highly perfected and crystalline method of one book—Euclid's Elements? Doubtless we want 'live' men and women, and those trained to their work, to teach: quite as imperatively we then want the right kind of text-books, in the pupils' hands, with which to carry forward their common work. If mind is the animating spirit, and knowledge the shapeless matter, still method—and to the pupil largely the method of the books—is the organizing force or formunder which the knowledge is to be organized, made available and valuable. We shall suffer quite as much from any lack of the best form, as through lack of the best matter, or of the most earnest spirit. In education, the teacher is the fluent element, full of present resources; the book should be the fixed element, always bringing back the discursive faculties to the rigid line of thought and purpose of the subject. We have now the fluent element in better forwardness and command than the fixed. We have much of the spirit; an almost overwhelming supply of the matter; but the ultimate and best form is yet largely wanting, and being so, it is now our most forcible and serious want.
But, rightly understood, all that we have said in reference to the short-comings of our modes of educating the young, constitutes by no necessity any sort of disparagement of teachers, or of the conductors of our school system. If a re-survey of the ground seems to show very much yet to be done, it is in part but the necessary result of an enlarging comprehension as to what, all the while, should have been done. It is by looking from an eminence that we gain a broader prospect, and coincidently receive the conviction of a larger duty. Much that we deplore in present methods is the best to which investigation has yet conducted us, or that the slow growth of a right view among the patrons of schools will allow. Then, how hard it is to foresee, in any direction of effort, the effects our present appliances and plans shall be producing a score of years hence, or in the next generation—hardest of all to those whose work is directly upon that extremely variable quantity, mind! And in what other human business, besides that of education, are there not in like manner remissnesses and errors to point out? Justice, in truth, requires the acknowledgment that probably no other body of men and women can take precedence of the teaching class, in devotion to their work, in self-sacrifice, or, indeed, in willingness to adopt the new when it shall also commend itself to them as serviceable; while, in a world of rough, material interests and successes, like ours, the teacher's avocation still remains by far underpaid, and by parents, and even by the very pupils on whom its benefits are conferred, too rarely appreciated at anything like its just deserts.
If further extenuation of present short-comings should be deemed needful, the history of science—and let us not forget that this history is almost wholly a very recent one—presents it in abundant force. Though practical arts have led to sciences, yet they have never advanced far until after they have felt the reactive benefits of the sciences springing from them. Finally, in its highest phases, the art becomes subordinated to the science; thenceforth, the former can approach perfection only as the latter prepares its way. Education has advanced beyond this turning point: the art is henceforward dependent on the sciences. But a science of education is an outgrowth from the science of mind; and among sciences, the latter is one of the latest and most difficult. Thus, our investigations result, not in casting blame upon educators, but in revealing, we may say, what is still the intellectual 'situation' of the most cultivated and advanced nations. We have our place still, not at any sort of consummation, but at a given stage in a progress. And still, as ever in the past, the things that in reality most closely touch our interests are farthest removed from our starting-points of sense and reason, and by a necessity of the manner and progress of our knowing, are longest in being found. And in this we have at least the assurance that the perfection of our race is to occur by no sudden bound or transformation, but by a toilsome and patient insight and growth.
Granting, however, all that has now been said in palliation of existing defects in education, that the whole business is a thing remote from immediate interests, and not less so from immediate perceptions and reasonings—a thing that, to all eyes capable of seeing in it something more than so many days devoted to spelling, penmanship, and arithmetic, begins at once to recede from the vision, and to lie in the hazy distance, obscure and incomprehensible—granting all this, and yet any one who realizes what education is, a formative and determining process, that for so many years is to operate persistently upon the plastic and intrinsically priceless mind, will assuredly be surprised in view of the actually existing indifference about questions as to the method or methodsby which the work can most fully and satisfactorily be accomplished. We have enacted laws, built school-houses, provided libraries, employed teachers, and in a tolerable degree insisted on the attendance of pupils, duly equipped with treatises of knowledge. We have lavished money on a set of instrumentalities, more or less vaguely considered requisite to insure qualification of the young for active life, and the perpetuity of the national virtue and liberty. What we, in America, however, have least essayed and most needed, has been to getbeneath the surface of the great educational question; to look less after plans of school buildings, and the schemes of school-districts and funds, and more into the structure of the lessons and studies, and the relationships, applications, and value of the ideas secured or attempted during the daily sessions of the school classes. It will be a great day for us, when our principals and schoolmasters cease to put forward so prominently, at the end of the quarter or term, its smartest compositions and declamations, and when the over-generous public shall begin to attend on 'examinations' with a less allowance of eyes and ears, and a more vigorous and active use of the discriminating and judging powers of their own minds. In the externals of education, England, France, and Germany must take rank after some of the States of our country; but in the matter of seeking the right interior qualities and tendencies of instruction, they have been in advance of us; though just now the anti-progressive spirit of their governments is interposing itself to hinder the largest practicable results by the schools, and to what extent it will emasculate them of their best qualities, time only can show. Among our teaching class, the apathy is not confined to the ill-rewarded incumbents of the lower positions; with rare exceptions, it is even more decided at the other extreme of the scale. Of all the gentlemen holding place in our over-numerous college faculties, and commanding, one would expect, the very passes to theterra incognita of the human soul, how few seem disposed to prove their individualfaculties by any thoroughgoing and successful incursions into unknown regions of the psychologic and pedagogic realm! The spirit of this should-be influential and leading class among us is one of serene assent in the iteration of the old steps, with of course some minor improvements, but with no attempts at a grand investigation and synthesis, such as gave to philosophy her new method, and to the world her growing fruitage of physical sciences.
If proof were needed of the comparative apathy under which we labor in respect to activities and progress in the more abstract and higher planes of intellectual effort, we find it in the contrast between the rewards meted out to the successful in this and in more material fields, in the general estimation awarded to the two classes of workers, and in the present expressions of the public bereavement when leading representatives of the two classes are removed from the scenes of their labors. Compare the quiet with which the ordinary wave of business interests and topic closed almost immediately over the announcement of the death of Horace Mann, with the protracted eulogy and untiring reminiscence of person, habits, work, and success, that, after the decease of William H. Prescott, kept the great wave of current topics parted for weeks—as if another Red Sea were divided, and the spirit of the historian, lingering to the chanting of solemn requiems, should pass over it dry-shod! For the great historian this was indeed no excess of honor, because grand human natures are worthy of all our praises; but was there not a painful want of respect and requital to the equally great educator? Prescott wrote admirable volumes, and in our libraries they will be 'a joy forever.' Horace Mann secured admirable means of instruction, made admirable schools, awakened to their best achievements the souls of our children; and his work is one to be measured by enlarging streams of beauty and joy that flow down through the generations. Would that, in the midst of so much justice as we willingly render to self-sacrifice and worth, we could less easily forget those whose labor it is directly to fit mankind for a higher nobleness, and for higher appreciation of it when enacted in their behalf!
Every life has been a battle
That has won a noble guerdon—
Every soul that furls its pinions
In proud Fame's serene dominions,
Wearily has borne its burden.
Through long years of toil and darkness,
Years of trial and of sorrow—
Days of longing, nigh to madness,
Nights of such deep, rayless sadness,
Hope herself scarce dared to-morrow.
Therefore bear up, O brave toiler
In the world's benighted places!
Though Truth's glory light your forehead,
Purer souls than yours have sorrowed,
Tears have flowed on angel-faces.
Therefore, bear up, O ye toilers!
Teachers of the earth's dull millions.
Keep Truth's glory on each forehead,
And the way so blank and sorrowed
Shall lead on to heaven's pavilions.
LEISURE HOURS IN TOWN. By the Author of 'The Recreations of a Country Parson.' Boston: Ticknor and Fields. 1862.
'The Country Parson' is one of those writers whose hap it generally is to be overpraised by friendly reviewers, and unduly castigated by those who appreciate their short-comings. Incurably limited to a certain range of ideas, totally incapable of mastering the great circle of thought, unpleasantly egotistical, jaunty, and priggish, he is any thing but attractive to the large-hearted cosmopolite and scholar of broad views, while even to many more general readers, he appears as a man whom one would rather read than be. On the other hand, the generous critic, remembering that small minds must exist, and that great excellence may be developed within extremely confined bounds, will perhaps take our Parson cordially for just what he is, and do justice to his many excellencies.
And they are indeed many, the principal being a humanity, a sensitiveness to the sufferings of others, and a tenderness which causes keen regret that we can not 'just for once,' by a few amiable pen-strokes, give him nothing but praise, and thereby leave him, by implication, as one of the million ne plus ultra authors so common—in reviews. We can hardly recall a writer who to so much firmness and real energy, allies such warm sympathy for suffering in its every form. The trials and troubles of young people awake in him a pity and a noble generosity which, could they be impressed on the minds of all who control the destinies of youth, would make the world far happier than it is. Had he written only Concerning the Sorrows of Childhood, the Country Parson would have well deserved the vast 'popularity' which his writings have so justly won. 'Covenanting austerity' and Puritanical ultra-propriety are repulsive to him and, he deals them many a brave blow. He sees life as it is with singular shrewdness, catches its lights and shadows with artistic talent, and like all tender and genial writers, keenly appreciates humor, and conveys it to us either delicately or energetically, as the point may require. He writes well, too, always. Clear as a bell, always to the point, refined enough for the most fastidious gentleman and scholar, and yet intelligible and interesting to any save the very illiterate. If any young aspirant for literary honor wishes to touch the hearts of the people, and secure the first elements of popularity, we know of no living writer from whom he may draw more surely for success than from the Country Parson. Pity that when we come to higher criticism, to the appreciation of truly great and broadly genial views, he should fail as he does. Out of his canny Scotch-English corner of thought, he is sadly lost. Thus, in one place we have the following avowal, which is only notnaïf because evidently put in to please the prejudices of sympathetically narrow readers. After arguing, with most amusing ignorance of the very first principles of a general æsthetic education, that there is really no appeal beyond individual taste, or beyond 'what suitsyou,' he says:
'For myself, I confess with shame, and I know the reason is in myself, I can not for my life see any thing to admire in the writings of Mr. Carlyle. His style of thought and language is to me insufferably irritating. I tried to read Sartor Resartus, and could not do it.'
Almost in the same paragraph our Parson proclaims for all the world that 'no man is a hero to his valet,' and says that there are two or three living great men whom he would be sorry to see, since 'no human being can bear a too close inspection.' 'Here,' he declares, 'is a sad circumstance in the lot of a very eminent man: I mean such a man as Mr. Tennyson or Professor Longfellow. As an elephant walks through a field, crushing the crop at every step, so do these men advance through life, smashing, every time they dine out, the enthusiastic fancies of several romantic young people.'
Is this just? Is it true? The Parson, be it observed, speaks not solely for 'romantic young people,' but for 'you' and for himself. Had he read Carlyle's Sartor Resartus, he might there have learned that no man is a hero to his valet, not because he is not always great, but because that valet has a poor, flunkey, valet's soul. He who quotes such an aphorism as a truth, calls himself a valet.
But let the reader forget and forgive these drawbacks, which are rarely manifested, and bear in mind that our pleasantly gossiping, earnest, honest writer is, within his scope, one of the most delightful essayists in our English tongue. A man need not be a far-reaching thinker and scholar to be kind, good, andtrue, manly and agreeable. He may have his self-unsuspected limits and weaknesses, and yet do good service and be a delightful writer, cheering many a weary hour, and benefiting the world in many ways. Such a writer is the Country Parson, and as such we commend him to all who are not as yet familiar with his essays.
CADET LIFE AT WEST-POINT. By an Officer of the United States Army. With a Descriptive Sketch of West-Point, by BENSON J. LOSSING. Boston: T.O.H.P. Burnham. 1862.
The American public has long needed a work on West-Point, and we have here a very clever volume, by one who has retained with great accuracy in his memory its predominant characteristics, and repeated them in a very readable form. Occasional stiffness and 'mannerism' are in it compensated for by many vivid pictures of cadet-life, and we can well imagine the interest with which every page will be perused by old graduates of the institution, and others familiar with its details.
We regret to say that, on the whole, the work has not left with us a pleasant impression of the system of instruction followed at West-Point. There appear to be too many studies, too little time to master them, and too much stress laid on trifles. Certainly a strictly military school must be different from others, and there can be no doubt that old officers know better than civilians how young men should be trained for the army. But we cannot resist the impression that if this work be truthful, the author has, often unconsciously, shown that there is much room for reform at West-Point.
A DISCOURSE ON THE LIFE, CHARACTER, AND POLICY OF COUNT CAVOUR. By VINCENZO BOTTA, Phil. D. New-York: G.P. Putnam, No. 532 Broadway. 1862.
This excellent address which, in its present form embraces 108 octavo pages, first delivered in the Hall of the New-York Historical Society, has since been repeated to one of the most cultivated audiences ever assembled in Boston, on both occasions eliciting the most cordial admiration from all who were so fortunate as to be present. Of the ability of the eminent Dr. Botta to write on this subject, it is almost needless to speak. A late member of the Italian Parliament, and formerly Professor of Philosophy in the College of Sardinia, intimately acquainted with the great men of modern Italy, as with those of the past, in their writings, and cast by personal experience amid stirring scenes, he is singularly well qualified to write of Cavour, for whom it was reserved to achieve, in a great measure, the work which the vain longings of an enslaved people, and the heroic efforts of centuries, had been unable to accomplish.' The work before us is, in fact, far more than its very modest title would lead us to infer. It is, in fact, a comprehensive and excellent history of all that great political revival of Italy of which Cavour was the centre—a work as admirable for scholarly clearness as for the evidently vast knowledge on which it is based. It is needless to say that we commend its perusal, with right good-will, to all who take the slightest interest in historical studies or in the politics of modern Europe.
THE KORAN. Translated by GEORGE SALE. With a Life of Mohammed. Boston: T.O.H.P. Burnham. 1862.
Good authority in Arabic has declared that, after all the many versions of the Koran extant, there is none better than that by 'George Sale, Gentleman,' first published in 1734. We therefore welcome the present edition, and with it even the very old-fashioned Life of Mohammed given with it—a 'life' so very narrow in its views and antiquated in its expression, that it has acquired a certain relish as a relic or literary curiosity. We learn with pleasure that this is the first of a series of the Holy Books of every nation, to embrace translations of the Vedas, the Zend-Avesta, the Edda, and many others. Thoreau suggested many years ago—we think in Walden—that such a collection should be published together for the world's use, and we rejoice to see his wish realized.
JEFFERSON AT MONTICELLO. The Private Life of Thomas Jefferson. From entirely new materials, with numerous fac-similes. By Rev. HAMILTON W. PIERSON, D.D., President of Columbia College, Ky. New-York: Charles Scribner, No. 124 Grand street. Boston: A.K. Loring. 1862.
'The Private Life of Jefferson at Monticello' is too ambitious a title for a little work of 138 pages, octavo though they be. It is, however, an extremely valuable and interesting collection of anecdotes, fac-simile documents, and casual reminiscences of Thomas Jefferson, as preserved by Captain Edmund Bacon, now a wealthy and aged citizen of Kentucky, and who was for twenty years the chief overseer and business-manager of Jefferson's estate at Monticello. In it we see the author of the Declaration and the statesman as he was at home, generous, peculiar, and far-sighted. Very striking is the following reminiscence of Captain Bacon:
'Mr. Jefferson did not like slavery. I have heard him talk a great deal about it. I have heard him prophesy that we should have just such trouble with it as we are having now.'
A BOOK ABOUT DOCTORS. By J. CORDY JEAFFRESON. From the English edition. New-York; Rudd and Carleton. Boston: A. Williams and Company. 1862.
An amusing and interesting collection of anecdotes of English physicians of all ages, copious enough in detail, and well enough written to escape the charge of being a mere pièce de manufactureand deserve place among the curiosities of literature. It is a work which will find place in the library of many amedico, and doubtless prove a profitable investment to the publisher. Hogarth's 'Undertaker's Arms' forms its appropriate and humorous vignette.
A POPULAR TREATISE ON DEAFNESS, ITS CAUSES AND PREVENTION. By Drs. LIGHTHILL. Edited by E. BUNFORD LIGHTHILL, M.D. With Illustrations. New-York: Carleton, Publisher, No. 413 Broadway, (late Rudd and Carleton.) Boston: A. Williams and Company. 1862.
Many persons suffer from defective hearing, or lose it entirely, from want of proper attention to the subject, or knowledge of the structure of the auricular organs. Thus the old often become incapable of hearing, yet let it pass without recourse to medical advice, believing the calamity to be inseparable from the due course of nature. The present work will, we imagine, prove useful both to practitioner and patient, and be the means of preserving to many a sense which, in value, ranks only next to that of sight.
If any one doubts that there is a powerful Southern influence in active operation in the Union, let him reflect over the movement in Washington 'for the purpose of reviving the Democratic party.' A more treacherous, traitorous, contemptible political intrigue was never organized in this country; and the historian of a future day will record with amazement the fact, that in the midst of a war of tremendous magnitude, when our national existence and our whole prosperity were threatened, the enemy were still allowed to plot and plan unharmed among us, under so shallow a disguise that its mockery is even more insulting than would be open, brazen opposition.
They have ingeniously taken advantage of the cry against the management of the war by McClellan, these covert disunionists, to form a McClellan party, and 'to support General McClellan's war policy'! A more ingenious and more iniquitous scheme of fomenting disunion could not be devised. By resolving to resist President Lincoln's moderate, judicious, and wise Message, while on the other hand they indorsed in express contrast McClellan, these treacherous disunion Democrats hoped to foment discord among us and thereby extend important aid to the enemy.
If the people would know where their foes are most active, let them look at home. Months ago they were warned that this very trick would be tried among us on behalf of the South. Months ago the Louisville Journal, in speaking of the manner in which Southern spies in the North were working by treachery, declared that 'they wound a net-work of influences around Congress and the powers that be, to retain men in the departments and to get others in—especially in the War Department—who were shining lights in the 'castles' of the K.G.C. for the avowed and express purpose of aiding the enemy by treacherously watching and conveying the secrets of the Government to the rebel army.'
Has not this accusation been abundantly proved? Does not the whole country know that traitors, 'democratic' traitors, have acted so successfully as spies that nothing has been kept secret from the enemy?
'Men were selected in the States and sent hundreds of miles to Washington, with strong influences to back them for this purpose. Better to carry out their project, they adroitly raised the 'No Party' cry, and by professing the most exalted and devoted loyalty, claimed the best places in which to betray the Union cause.' 'They claim a large number of the officers of companies, regiments, brigades, and divisions, and even have the audacity to whisper that General McClellan understands their programme and is not unfavorable to working up to it.'
Fortunately the great mass of the Northern people can not be affected by such traitorous tricks. There is but one party in the country, and that is the Union and the War party. Here and there a coward may waver and be frightened at the prospect of a Democratic opposition raising its head successfully to withstand the great onward movement, but his quavering voice will be unheard in the great cry for battle. We have accepted this war with all its fearful risks, and we will abide by it. We will be true to our principle of a united country, we will be true to our word to crush rebellion, and we will be true to our brave soldiers who are fighting manfully for the right. If we adhere steadfastly to these resolutions, we shall have no cause to dread traitors within or foes without the loyal Union.
When the World's Fair was held in 1851, in London, Punch, moved by the intensest spirit of British conceit, politely suggested that it would be a good plan to have placards containing the words, 'It is good to have the conceit taken out of us,' in all languages, hung all over the Exhibition—the intention being to courteously intimate to foreigners their general inferiority to John Bull. Certainly it is a good thing to have the conceit taken out of us—with the saving clause added by our contributor, H.P.L.—'so that it be not done with the corkscrew of ignorance,' or of conceit itself, as is generally the case when English wit attempts such extraction. Yet it must be admitted that in one thing Brother Jonathan has very fairly had the conceit taken out of him—which need not have been, had he only attended to the lessons taught him by John Bull and Jean Crapaud.
We refer to the matter of iron-clad vessels of war. England already had her 'Warrior,' and France her 'Gloire,' with all their resistant powers fully tested by experiment, and yet this war had progressed one year without finding our Government in possession of a single iron-mail steamer. Our foes, with many disadvantages, had more wit, and gained a victory the more galling, because in naval matters we of the North claim in ability to rank with England herself. Perhaps history contains no parallel instance of such negligence, such weakness. It is a matter calling for investigation and exemplary punishment. The guilt lies somewhere, and must be atoned for.
It is, however, interesting to remark, that in this, as in so many other matters, science is very rapidly changing the character of warfare. In a few years the war-navies of the world will consist almost exclusively of iron-mail steamers, since no other vessel can resist their attacks. Yet these steamers, though far more expensive than the old wooden hulks—so expensive that the 'Warrior' alone caused an outcry in England as a national burden—can readily sink one another in a few minutes by the use of the prow, or by returning to the primitive cock-fighting fashion in vogue among the iron-beaked galleys of earliest antiquity.
Will it pay, under such extraordinary conditions of naval warfare, to fight at all? will probably be the next question, asked. When a few minutes may witness the literal sinking of a few millions of dollars, tax-paying people will begin to stand aghast. The very idea of England and America playing a game of war with such checks, is as terrible as it is startling; it is like the suggestion to fight out a duel with columbiads, or as the two Kentucky engineers are said to have done, with full-steamed locomotives in collision. No patriotism, no wealth, no sacrifice, can endure such drafts as the loss of iron-clad navies would involve. War would eat itself up.
Possibly genius may contrive vulcanized gutta-percha or other resistant steamers which can neither be billed nor gaffed, shot nor slashed into sinking—vessels beyond all capacity for bathos, and no more to be persuaded into going under than was the black Baptist convert of David Crockett's story. What would naval battles amount to between such invulnerables? The Roman mythology had a fable of a hare which had received from the gods the gift that it was never to be caught, while at the same time there was a hound which was destined to catch every thing he pursued. One day the hound began to chase the hare; Jupiter settled the question by changing them both to stone. Paradoxes can only be solved by annihilation. When war becomes, by the aid of science, all-destructive, yet all-resistant, it must perish. History shows a gradual decrease of deaths in proportion to improvements in destruction of life. It is gratifying to reflect, that this war, by developing the full capacities of iron-plated vessels, has made a most important advance toward the impossibility of warfare.
It is amusing to see how decisively, yet with what preposterous ignorance of any thing like the true state of affairs in this country, the English press informs the public as to the 'ex or inexpediency' of President Lincoln's Message.
Not one of its editors has, as yet, had the grace or wit to discover that, simply as a precedent and as a record, it puts an entirely new face on the war, by manifesting a policy on the part of Government. Not one seems to appreciate that the slaveholder who, after its publication, loses his human chattels by the hap of war, has only himself to thank for his loss. If Cuffy runs away, when the army comes, by what earthly show of sense or justice does the master complain, who has refused to accept payment for him? Dans la guerre, comme a la guerre—in war-time, people must accept of war's chances.
To voluntarily offer to literally ease the fall of the enemy, as Mr. Lincoln has done, is a stretch of magnanimity which would be incomprehensible to any Old World rulers. How long would a Napoleon or a Wellington, unembarrassed by aught save the direst military conduct of a war, have hesitated to free the blacks, and win victory by every or any means? Mr. Lincoln has had more difficult and complicated elements to deal with. He has the enemy not only in the field, but by myriads at home, among those who pretend to urge on the war. He has them 'spying and lying' every where—promoting cabals in favor of a General, and exciting opposition, in order to eventually crush him—urging Southern rights and amnesties—deluding and confounding every thing. No wonder, after all, that the LondonTimes, comprehending nothing, should have been so wildly asinine as to see in the Message only a bid to conciliate the South!—a timid, making-up measure. The Times is behind our times, and no wonder, when a Russell flounders about for it among us, becoming more densely befogged and confused with every new idea which entangles itself with his pre-conceived English opinions.
The country is rejoiced to hear that General Wool has ordered Russell away from Fortress Monroe. When the latter quits the country, it will be as though it had heard some very good news for our nation's benefit.
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We were not at first disposed to believe in the many revolting stories so generally circulated, stating that the rebels had actually, in many instances, boiled the bodies of the Federal dead, for the purpose of obtaining the bones as relics. So frequently, however, has the story been repeated, and from so many trustworthy quarters, that we are reluctantly compelled to admit that such paragraphs as the following, from the Southern correspondence of the BostonJournal and Transcript, are very possibly founded in fact:
'The certainty that the graves of the members of the Chelsea and Boston Fusilier companies who fell in the advance on Bull Run, last July, have all been despoiled, with a probability that their bones were sent South, as relics, causes a deep feeling of indignation here.
'A citizen of Cambridge, Mass., who went to Bull Run to recover the remains of his brother, who belonged to a Boston company, gives a sad account of the sacrilege committed upon the graves of our soldiers by the rebels. About twenty of a Boston company and a Chelsea company had been buried near each other, but every skull had been taken away, and nearly all the principal bones of the bodies were gone. Some of the bodies had been dug out, and others pried out of the graves with levers, and in some the sleeves of uniforms were split to obtain the bones of the arms. It was described as a sickening spectacle.'
When we recall the savage, half-Indian nature of many of the lower Southern troops, and the threats of scalping and mutilating, in which they so often indulged; and when we remember that even in Richmond, the body of John Brown's son is still exposed, as the label on it intimates, not as a scientific preparation, but as a warning to Abolitionists; we see nothing extraordinary in such tales. If professors, men of science, and 'gentlemen' can wreak vengeance on the harmless bodies of the dead, and place a placard, expressing the hope that it may be thus with those who simply differ with them in political opinions, it is not to be wondered at that their rude and ignorant confrèresshould dig up dead bodies, and send the bones home as relics. It is just possible, however, that we do not appreciate the true motives of these Ghouls. When Scanderbeg died, his enemies fought among themselves to obtain the smallest fragment of his bones, believing that their possession would confer on the lucky wearer some of the courage of the great hero himself. And so it may be that these craven savages hope to get a little real Northern pluck and stubborn endurance.
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We cheerfully find place for the following, dated from 'Willard's, Washington, D.C., April 2d:'
'DEAR CONTINENTAL: I know that the CONTINENTAL publishes nothing but original articles, and therefore beg you, at the request of your large and highly respectable Washington constituency, to find a shelf for the following, which is original with Bill H. Polk and the LouisvilleDem'docrat:'
THE EXPERIENCES OF GEORGE N. SANDERS—HOW HE LEFT NASHVILLE, AND HOW HE HOPES TO GET TO RICHMOND.
'There is no one better known in the country as a scholar, a politician, and a wit, than Wm. H. Polk, of Tennessee. He has a plantation some forty miles from Nashville, lives comfortably, has a joke for every one, and is, withal, a resolute man in his opinions. He was the opponent of the evanescent Harris, who has disappeared mysteriously, and voted for by the coöperationists in the election for Governor of that State. About a month ago notice came to him that he must leave the State: a notice which, however, he did not obey. His description of the terror of the rebels on the taking of Nashville is said to be supremely rich. Among other incidents, is one of peculiar interest to us Kentuckians, concerning the fate of the late Provisional Government.
'Colonel Polk, a few days before the arrival of our army at Nashville, and, indeed, before he heard of the fall of Fort Donelson, in going down the road from his farm, descried a fat, ragged, bushy-headed, tangled-mustached, dilapidated-looking creature, (something like an Italian organ-grinder in distress,) so disguised in mud as to be scarcely recognizable. What was his surprise, on a nearer approach, to see that it was the redoubtable George N. Sanders.
'George had met the enemy, and he was theirs—not in person, but in feeling. His heart was lost, his breeches were ragged, and his boots showed a set of fat, gouty toes protruding from them. The better part of him was gone, and gone a good distance.
''In the name of God, George, is that you?' said the ex-Congressman.
''Me!' said the immortal George; 'I wish it wasn't; I wish I was any thing but me. But what is the news here? is there any one running? They are all running back there,' (pointing over his shoulder with his thumb.)
''No,' said Mr. Polk; 'not that I know of. You needn't mind pulling up the seat of your pantaloons; I'm not noticing. What in the —— are you doing here, looking like a muddy Lazarus in the painted cloth?'
''Bill,' said George to the Tennesseean confidentially, and his tones would have moved a heart of stone: 'Bill, you always was a friend of mine. I know'd you a long while ago, and honored you—cuss me, if I didn't. I said you was a man bound to rise. I told Jimmy Polk so—me and Jimmy was familiar friends. I intended to get up a biographical notice of you in the Democratic Review, but that —— Corby stopped it I'm glad to see you; I'll swear I am.'
''Of course, old fellow,' said the charitable Tennesseean, more in pity of his tones than even of the flattering eloquence: 'but what is the matter?'
''Matter!' said George; 'the d——d Lincolnites have seized Bowling-Green, Fort Donelson, and have by this time taken Nashville. Why,' continued he, in a burst of confidence, 'when I left, hacks was worth a hundred dollars an hour, and, Polk, (in a whisper,) I didn't have a d——d cent.'
'The touching pathos of this last remark was added to by the sincere vehemence with which it was uttered, and the mute eloquence with which he lifted up a ragged flap in the rear of his person that some envious rail or brier had torn from its position of covering a glorious retreat.
''Not a d——d cent,' repeated he; 'and, Polk, I walked that hard-hearted town up and down, all day, with bomb-shells dropping on the street at every lamp-post—I'll swear I did—trying to borrow some money; and Polk, do you think, there wasn't a scoundrel there would lend any thing, not even Harris, and he got the money out of the banks, too?'
''No?' said Polk, who dropped in a word occasionally, as a sort of encourager.
''Bill,' repeated Sanders: 'Bill, I said you was a friend of mine—and a talented one—always said so, Bill. I didn't have a red, and I've walked forty-five miles in the last day, by the mile-stones, and I haven't had any thing to buy a bit to eat; and,' he added with impassioned eloquence, 'what is a cursed sight worse, not a single drop to drink.'
'This is complete. It is unnecessary to tell how the gallant and clever Tenneseean took the wayfarer home, gave him numerous, if not innumerable, drinks, and filled him with fruits of fields and flesh of flocks. When George was filled, however, he signified by numerous signs, and finally by words, that he wished the servants to leave the room. 'Polk,' said he, 'I knew you were a man with a heart in your bosom; I told 'em so. I said no better man than Bill Polk could be found. I told 'em so.'
''Told who so?' asked Mr. Polk, rather surprised at the sudden and mysterious language, accompanied by the removal of the servants.
''Mr. Polk,' said Sanders, 'I want your horses and carriage for a time.'
''Certainly, Mr. Sanders, if you wish them.'
''Mr. Polk,' said George, 'I do not appear before you in any ordinary character to-day; I am clothed with higher authority; I am an emissary.'
'The tone and manner indicated something fearful—perhaps to arrest his host.
''I am an emissary,' repeated Mr. Sanders, speaking in very large capitals, 'from the State of Kentucky, and hope to be received as such. The fact is,' continued he, coming down to the level of familiar conversation, 'I left the Provisional Government of Kentucky a mile or so back, on foot, finding its way southwardly, and I demand your horses and carriage in the name of that noble State.'
'Of course, the carriages were harnessed up at once, and Mr. Sanders proceeded to bring the Provisional Government to Mr. Polk's house.
'How shall we describe this part? Hon. George W. Johnson, as much a Clay man as the sacred soil of Tennessee could afford, but still preserving his light and active step; McKee, late of the Courier, following; Walter N. Haldeman, with all his industry and perseverance, trying to keep up with his associate; and Willis B. Machen, vigorous, active, slightly sullen, but in earnest, with every boot he drew out of the snowy, muddy soil giving a groan of fatigue. Imagine them safely ensconced at Mr. Polk's, on their road South.
''Mr. Sanders,' said the Governor with dignified suavity, after the walnuts and wine, 'claimed to be an acquaintance of yours, and we were very glad to send him forward.'
'The Honorable Governor maintained throughout that easy, self possessed manner which characterizes the gentleman.
'The emissary—for he ought to be so known—shortly after suggested to the Provisional Government that he was 'broke,' and wished to represent the Seventh Congressional District of Kentucky, that is, the Louisville District: 'For,' said he, in his persuasive, confidential tones, 'that is the only way I know of for a man without money to get to Richmond.'
'A session was at once held of the State Council, and it is our pleasure to record that Mr. Sanders is now authorized by the Provisional Government to proceed to Richmond and represent our interest in the Rebel Congress, vice H.W. Bruce, removed or resigned.
'Mr. Polk at this time addressed the new Congressman, saying that he had a particular favor to ask.
''Bill,' said George to his host, speaking out of a full heart and a full chest: 'Bill, you are a boy after my own heart; whatever request you make I grant.'
''It is only a trifle,' said Mr. Polk, 'which you can easily grant, and which will please you.'
''It is granted,' interrupted the grateful Sanders.
''I may be arrested,' continued Mr. Polk, 'within a few minutes, for disagreeing with some measures which Governor Harris has urged upon the people.'
''Never mind that,' said the impetuous Sanders; 'I'll stand by you.'
''All I want,' continued Mr. Polk, 'is for you to return to Nashville as a hostage for my wife and family.'
''Bill Polk,' said George gravely, but firmly, 'you are a man I love; I love you, and I love your wife and family; but if ever I go back to Nashville, may I be d——d!'
'Of course, there was no reply to this, and the redoubtable George and the Provisional Government soon went on their way rejoicing.
'We do not pretend to give this in the language or manner of Mr. Polk, which is said to be inimitable; neither do we claim him as a 'Union man.' He has remained quietly at home, and taken no part in the contest; but we are indebted to him, or to some one who has reported it as coming from him, for a genial and laughable account of the exit of what once promised to be very injurious to our State, and still more for his characterization of that wise, pushing, incomprehensible character, George N. Sanders, Member of Congress from the Seventh District of Kentucky to Richmond.'
We have long wondered what became of Sanders, the illustrious author of that excellent term, 'the Tobacco States,' which so exactly defines the Southern border. The last time we saw him was while talking with Arctic Dr. Hayes, a few days before his departure for the Unknown Sea. Just then Sanders went by arrayed in all the glory of a perfectly new pareil partoutsuit of spring clothes. Days passed by, and we heard of him as frantically endeavoring to galvanize the C.S.A. at Montgomery, Alabama, into faith in his exceeding Southern proclivities. It was up-hill work, as we were told—almost as hard as several other small renegade literati and politicians found it, when they, too, went over into Dixie about a year ago. In vain did George N. Sanders utter the largest size secession words—no office rewarded him, no foreign mission fell into the fat fingers of the deserter. The change from the comfortable quarters of the New-York Hotel to hurried war-marches and wild retreats must have been indeed trying; only that so many politicians have of late fared quite as badly, that pity would seem wasted. Meanwhile we would suggest, as a good question for youthful democratic debating-societies: 'When we catch the enemy, what shall be done with George N. Sanders?'
* * * * *
Notwithstanding our war—to say nothing of our want—we have had the OPERA this winter; had it in great variety and perfection, and, as many a reader can testify, with by no means thin houses. Grau has been busy—the most courteous and indefatigable polyglot and active of impresarios, with the good-natured Gosche, heralding a troupe of all the stars, D'Angri, Hinckley, Kellogg, Brignoli, Susini, and all the rest, including divers new singing birds. Maretzek has led, and we have had a range from Mozart to Verdi, which was, on the whole, well-chosen. We have had Brignoli singing, if possible, better, and acting, if possible, worse than usual—a nightingale imprisoned in a pump; Mme. D'Angri, with her embonpointvoice, pouring forth like an inexhaustible fountain of Maraschino; Miss Hinckley, pleasant and pretty as ever, steadily singing her way star-ward; and Susini, who combines German strength with Italian fire—a true Tedesco Italiana-zato. Something, too, we would say of Mancusi, whose clear and rapid execution, in Figaro, and whose real Spanish majo rollicking style of acting were quite spirited enough, even for that very spirited part. Formes was indeed under the impression that he himself was the Figaro Figarorum, the incarnate half-Spanish ideal of that wonderful barbaresque conception; but then, the Formes Figaro was 'developed from the depths of his subjective moral consciousness,' whereas the Figaro of a Southern European is the thing itself—like Charles Mathews playing the part of Charles Mathews, or like the Greek comedian's imitation of a pig's voice, by pinching a veritable pork-let, which he bore concealed within his mantle.
Perhaps no character is so little appreciated by Anglo-Saxon audiences as this of Figaro. To them he is little more than a buffoon. To Southern Europe, he is the bold, prompt, shrewd, popular ideal, suiting himself by craft to every superior, regarding all things with a shoulder-shrugging, quizzical philosophy; a democratic Mephistopheles; a lurking devil, equalizing himself, and the people with him, by wit and insolence, with nobility itself. Among the Latin races, as in the East, such Figaros often rise, like Oliver le Daim, to power, and the people understand it.
Fast-Day, in Boston, was operatically fêted with 'the light and melodiousMartha,' by that arch-thief of melodies, Flotow. Would not—considering the day in question—I Puritani have been more appropriate for 'a day of fasting and prayer'? It has already been discovered (by the sagacious Ullman, we believe) that the Huguenotswas appropriate to sacred concerts. A friend suggests that Masaniello for high mass, and Don Giovanni for St. John's day would be a great advance in these dramatic unities.
* * * * *
We are indebted to a new contributor for the following sketch:
We are all familiar with Hayden's dinner-party, and the Comptroller of Stamps, and Charles Lamb's 'Diddle diddle dumpling,' and 'Allow me to look at the gentleman's phrenological development.' I am always reminded by it of a circumstance which occurred between the Rocky and Alleghany mountains. A certain witty professor of a certain Western college, had been invited to deliver a poem before the Phi Beta Society of Athens—not the capital of Greece, nor the Athens of America, but a sort of no-town, without even the advantages of an established groggery, or mutual admiration society. The poet, not having attained that celebrity which is incompatible with keeping one's word with small towns, small lyceums, and small profits, and the roads not being stopped up, in short, 'Providence permitting, and nothing happening to prevent,' the poet made his appearance at the proper hour, like any ordinary mortal, and acquitted himself with such rhythmical eloquence, such keen, silvery humor, as brought the house down, and himself vice versa.
The audience having dispersed in a state like the afflatus of laughing-gas, the poet and a privileged clique proceeded to the house of the Baptist elder, to prolong the night with metaphysical wassail. From the froth of poetry, they rose to a contemplation of the old classics; Homer, Euripides, Sophocles, Virgil, rising grandly from their dust, ensphered in vibratory eloquence.
The elder, whose, education had been accomplished simply by a New Testament and three-inch rope, sat, or rather twisted through the rhapsody, as a dunce twists through his Greek roots, and at the first pause, drawing himself erect with the self-complacent air of a man who applies the clincher, ejaculated, with the Western twang: 'What do you think of Hi-awathy?' The professor, giving him one look, to be sure of his sanity, and a second to be sure of his obtusity, answered gravely, above a convulsion of laughter: 'Hi-awathy was a genius!'
Athens has since then grown to be some town, with an aristocracy composed of a few old maids, who attain the distinction from being the oldest inhabitants, and a poet of its own. The latter has immortalized himself by a poem in the Chatterton obsolete style, on 'Ye Cobwebs in my Attick,' supposed to be an 'Allegory on my Brain,' and from having once astonished one of the very élite of the aristocracy by requesting her to lend him her book, 'On the Dogs of Venice.' Her ladyship assured him that she was not in possession of the volume; but, on his insisting, conducted him to her library, (six shelves, one and a half by four,) where he seized upon a moth-eaten volume, illustrated on the front page by a man of obesity, clad in very flowing robes, and an immense crown, in the act of casting a ring into a black little stream ornamented by six rushes and two swans, with this inscription beneath: 'Venice wedding the Adriatic through the person of her Doge.' A wit having suggested to this votary of the muse that he should compose an epic on the royal canine of Venice, he is now zealously devoting himself to the task, as the literary public are respectfully invited to observe.
The Athenians were not long since electrified by the patriotic eloquence of an itinerant Methodist evangelist, who wound up a burst of rhapsodical patriotism with this, climax: 'If this glorious Union is dissolved, what will become of the American Eagle, that splendid bird with 'E Pluribus Unum' in his bill, the shafts of Peace in his talons, and 'Yankee Doodle' tied to his tail?'
One more bon mot, and I leave Athens to the plaudits of an appreciative public.
The Presbyterian divine, running his thin fingers through his thin hair, exclaimed, in a thin voice: 'Brethren! ye are the salts of the earth.' 'The salts,' though as old as the Gospel, have not yet lost their freshness.'
Exit Athens and fresh salt.
A veray parfit gentil knight,
Thatte of ye Golden Cyrcle hight,
One day yridden forth;
But ne to finde a fayre mayde,
He went on errants of his trade,
To fight or filch ye North.
He was a wight of grisly fronte,
And muckle berd ther was upon 't,
His lockes farre down did laye:
Ful wel he setten on his hors,
Thatte fony felaws calléd Mors,
For len it was and grai.
Ilk knight he hadde ne vizor on,
His busynes were then undone,
All time was for attack;
More than, he hadde ne mail, either,
But arméd with a revolvér,
He like-Wise chawed toback.
He sayde his was a mightie hond,
Ne better in ye Southron lond
To yearn anly battail:
Mony a dewel hadde he fought,
And put his foe alway to rout,
Withouten ony fail.
Eke fro his sheld ther stroke the ee,
These letters golden, 'F.F.V.,'
Thatte mony a clerk did pain;
Which guessed it, 'Forte Fuor Vi!'
The people giggled, 'l' your ey;
It's Fume and Fight in Vain!'
Eftsoons hire cloke ye awful Night,
Yspreaden roun ilk warrihour wight,
Ye glasse of chivalrie;
But nothing daunt, he kept his course,
As well as mote his sorry hors,
Farre to the North countrée.
And thus in darkesse all yclad,
He hied him, gif he weren mad,
O'er feld and eke through thicket;
When 'Stop, by God!' some one began,
'You'er mine—'or any other man!''
Jesu! a Yankee picket!
'Gent knight, yclept of Golden Cyrcle!
Why in the devil don't one dirk all?
Where now's your chivalrie?'
'Goode sir,' quod he, 'twas ne for fight
I hied me out ilk murkie night,
It was for poulterie!'
'Wal, damn your 'poulterie'—and you!
Such deed no generous knight would do!
So I mote thee deter!
I'll show thee, though, the coop, sir knight,
Where chickens such as thee are blight—
You are my prisoner!'
Mony maydens weren grieved—
Darksome maydes of work all;
And mony felaws of much might
Ydrink the hades of ye Knight
Of ye grete Golden Cyrcle.
We much fear that it may be said of the chief cavalier of the Golden Circle, what the old German lanzknecht, in Rabelais, said of the Gascon adventurer: 'The knight pretends that he wants to fight, but is much more inclined to steal; therefore, good people, look out for your property.'
* * * * *
The following story, it is averred, can be vouched for, to any reasonable extent, by a large crowd of witnesses.
DEAR CONTINENTAL: Possibly you would not give 'a Continental dime' for that which I am about to pen. Possibly, too, you may damn it into the waste-basket. I have oftenheard of a 'Continental damn'—it never occurred to me before what the article really was. Dante has, I know, provided a corner for those who were in-continentally condemned; but it was reserved for you to abridge the word, and so make a vice of a virtue!
I once lived in a village: to that village came an itinerant dramatic company; and that company advertised to play a grand moral temperance drama, entitled Down the Hill.
The principal actor called himself Eglantine Mowbray. I believe that the latter syllable of the last name was the only portion thereof to which he was really entitled. He did bray.
The bills appeared, with the following heading:
On Monday Evening,
THE YOUTHFUL ROSCUSS!
Will appear in his great rôle,
DOWN THE HILL.
Our simple villagers had seen circuses; but youthful Roscusses were entirely beyond their experience. Quite as unfamiliar was the word rôle, which, to their badly-lettered fancy, stood for movement, by 'turning on the surface, or with a circular motion, in which all parts of the surface are successively applied to a plane, 'as to roll a barrel or puncheon.' [You use Webster?]
So, when the 'show' opened, there was a large attendance, and in that vast multitude of two hundred and thirty men, women, and children, there was not one who did not anticipate an acrobatic performance.
The play pleased them, however. Temperance was rife among us in those days; it was 'in our midst,' as people ought not to say, and the drunken disgraces of John the Inebriate were appreciated. Still, there was an evident feeling of unsatisfied anticipation, which grew with every act, and in all the house there was not a soul who did not murmur to his or her neighbor, 'I wonder when he's goin' to roll down-hill.'
The play terminated. The Inebriate died, under a strong pressure of delirium tremens, groaning and braying loud enough to scare away the fiends which gathered around. But, to the amazement of all parties upon the stage and behind the scenes, the fall of the curtain was accompanied by a thunder-roar of disgust, and the rain-like sound of numerous hisses.
The audience voted the play a humbug. The village was disgusted. Eglantine Mowbray stock went down to nothing.
But the manager was a shrewd fellow. He found out what was wanting, and resolved to remedy it. So, the next morning's posters announced that on that evening Mr. Eglantine Mowbray would perform, at the conclusion, his terrific and unparalleled feat of rolling down the hill!
And he did. At the last moment, the Inebriate appeared, bottle in hand, agonizing and howling on the summit of a high rock, from which a slope, at an angle of forty-five degrees, went down to a mysterious craggy pit, thickly grown around with briers and shrubs, all bearing spiky thorns of the most fish-hooky and ten-penny nail description imaginable. The flat or back-scene, suddenly lighted up from behind, presented, as a transparency, that terrible collection of devils which you may have witnessed in a popular engraving entitled, 'Delirium Tremens.' The Inebriate, taking one parting drink, staggered—fell—rolled over and over down the hill into the abyss, from which flames burst forth, red, green, and blue, and the audience were wild with delight. Three times was Eglantine Mowbray compelled, by the rapturous encores, to roll down that hill into the fiery pit. No wonder that, at the last trial, there rose from the abyss a wild cry of 'I'll be blessed if I do it again.'
MORAL.—When in country villages, don't talk about rôle-ing, unless you mean to do it!
* * * * *
Since the gilet de matin has superseded the robe de châmbre, or dressing-gown, it is marvelous to see with what wrath the fast men, club-men, and other highly civilized forms of humanity, pursue the ancient garment. One of the most vigorous assaults on the gabardine in question, comes to us as
My name is Albert Fling. I am an active, business, married man, that is, wedded to Mrs. Fling, and married to business. I had the misfortune, some time since, to break a leg; and before it was mended Madame Fling, hoping to soothe my hours of convalescence, caused to be made for me a dressing-gown, which, on due reflection, I believe was modeled after the latest style of strait-jacket. This belief is confirmed by the fact that when I put it on, I am at once confined to the house, 'get mad,' and am soberly convinced that if any of my friends were to see me walking in the street, clad in this apparel, they would instantly entertain ideas of my insanity.
In the hours of torture endured while wearing it, I have appealed to my dear wife to truly tell me where she first conceived the thought that there was a grain of comfort to be found in bearing it on my back? She has candidly answered that she first read about it in divers English novels and sundry American novels, the latter invariably a rehash of the first. In both of these varieties of the same species of books, the hero is represented as being very comfortable the instant he dons this garment, puts his feet in slippers, picks up a paper and—goes to sleep.
A friend of mine who has discovered that Shakspeare knew all about steam-engines, electric telegraphs, cotton-gins, the present rebellion, and gas-lights, assures me that dressing-gowns are distinctly alluded to inThe Tempest:
'TRINCULO: O King Stephano! look, what a wardrobe here is for thee!
CALIBAN: Let it alone, thou fool; it is but trash.
Having thus proved its age, let us next prove that it is in its dotage, and is as much out of place in this nineteenth century as a monkey in a bed of tulips.
We find in the Egyptian temples paintings of priests dressed in these gowns: proof that they are antiquely heathenish. And as we always associate a man who wears one with Mr. Mantilini, this proves that they are foolish. Ergo, as they are old and foolish, they are in their dotage.
I have three several times, while wearing this gown, been mistaken for Madame Fling by people coming to the house. The first time I was shaving in my chamber: in bounced Miss X——, who believed, as it was rather late, that I had gone down-town. She threw up her hands, exclaiming:
'Good gracious, Fanny! do you shave?'
N.B.—Fanny is my wife's first name.
The second time I had brought the woodsaw and horse up from the cellar, and was exercising myself sawing up my winter's wood, in the summer-kitchen, according to Doctor Howl's advice, when the Irishman from the grocery entered, bearing a bundle. My back was to him, and only seeing the gay and flowery gown, he exclaimed, in an awfully audible whisper to the cook:
'Shure yer mistriss has the power in her arms, jist!'
Think of my wife, my gentle Fanny, having it shouted around the neighborhood that her brute of a husband made her saw all their winter's wood—yes! and split it, and pile it too, and make all the fires, and so on and cetera, and oh! I am glad my husband isn't such a monster!'
I turned on the Irishman, and when he saw my whiskers, he quailed!
The third time, I was blacking my boots, according to Dr. Howl's advice, 'expands the deltoid muscles, is of benefit to the metacarpis, stretches the larynx, opens the oilsophagers, and facilitates expectoration!' I had chosen what Fanny calls her conservatory for my field of operation—the conservatory has two dried fish-geraniums, and a dead dog-rose, in it, besides a bad-smelling cat-nip bush; when, who should come running in but the identical Miss X—— who caught me shaving.
'Poor Fanny,' said she, before I could turn round; 'do you have to black the boots of that odious brute?'
'Miss X——,' said I, turning toward her, folding my arms over my dressing-gown, spite of having a damp, unpolished boot on one arm and a wet blacking-brush in the other hand, for I wished to strike a position and awe at the same time; 'Miss X——, I am that odious brute himself!'
If you had observed her wilt, droop, stutter, fly!
My wife went to the sea-shore last summer. I kept the house open, and staid in town; cause, business. When she returned, Miss X——, who lives opposite, called to see her. In less than five minutes, my wife was a sad, moaning, desolate, injured, disconsolate, afflicted, etcet. woman.
'How-ow-ow c-could you d-do it, Al-lal-bert?' she ejaculated, flooding every word as it came out with tears.
Miss X—— here thought proper to leave, casting from her eyes a small hardware-shop in the way of daggers at me, as much as to say, You are vicious, and I hate cheese! (theatrical for hate ye.)
Fanny, left to herself, revealed all to me. Miss X——, through the Venetian blinds, had seen a—gown in my room, late at night.
'It is too true,' said I, 'too, too true.'
'Al-lal-al-bert! you will b-b-break my h-heart. I c-could tear the d-d-destroy-oy-yer of my p-p-peace to p-p-pieces!'
'Come on,' said I, 'you shall behold the destroyer of your peace. You shall tear her to pieces, or I'll be d—dashed if I don't. I am tired of the blasted thing.'
I grasped her hand, and led her to the back-chamber. 'There, against the wall.'
'It is—'said she.
'It is,' said I, 'my dressing-gown! I will never again put it on my shoulders, never. Here goes!' Rip it went from the tails up the back to the neck.
'Hold, Albert! I will send it to the wounded soldiers.'
'Never! they are men, bricks, warriors. Such female frippery as this shall never degrade them. Into the rag-bag with it, and sell it to the Jews for a pair of China sheep or a crockery shepherd. Vamos!'
The age for dressing-gowns has passed away, Rococo shams are hastening to decay!
* * * * *
He who writes a book on Boston should have something to say on the ladies at lectures, in the libraries, and at Loring's—at which latter celebrated institution for the dissemination of belles lettres lettered belles do vastly congregate of Saturday, providing themselves with novel—no, we mean novelties [of course of a serious sort] for their Sunday reading. Which may serve as an introduction to the following characteristic of
The Boston belle is a reader, and knoweth what hath lately appearyd in ye worlde of bookes as welle as in that of bonetts. Shee whispereth of Signore Brignoli and of Hinkley, and of ye Philharmonic, or of Zerrahn his concertes, and eftsoones of aeriall pleasures att parties and concertes, and anon flitteth to Robertus Browning his poetrie, or to Emerson hys laste discourse att ye Musicke Halle. Whan so be itt that twentie of ye sisterhode be gatheren together, lo! seven thereof wyll haue blonde tresses and nineteen be of fayre ruddie complexion, whych a man wolde gife hys lyfe to kisse—yea, and itt oftwhyles passeth that ye twentieth also hath more whyte and rudd in hir sweete face thann ye wolde see in other landes.
Ye Boston demoisselle weareth an waterproof guyascutus, [for so methinketh I haue hearde them calld,] and whan that itt rayneth or snoweth, shee rusheth forth as to a carnavall, and heedeth not yf ye powderie snowe-flakes falle on hir daintie littyl nose, or pile up like untoe a chancellor's wigg on hir hed. Arounde hir whyte necke shee ever bindeth a scarlett scarfe, to shewe thatt she ys an well-redd woman; and whan shee turneth homewardes, she aye beareth in one hande a pamflet, whyle the other holdeth a bouquet of flowres or a pacquette of sugirplummes or confitures. Whyles that she is yett younge and reckeless, and gif shee bee faste, and hathe naughte to beare homewards, lo! shee stiketh bothe tinie fistes intoe hir small syde-pockets, and propelleth onward mightilie independente, caring naught for nobodie. I haue herd from dyvers graue and reuerend menn, who oughte to know, [sith that ther wyves hadd tolde them,] that manie of these demoiselles do wear verie longe bootes, but howe long they may bee I knowe not.
Hee who walketh in Beacon streete on Sundaye, whan thatt the skies be fayre, seeth, after church out-letting, manie of these sweete maydens walking wyth ther cavalleros up and doune hille, talkyng of manie thynges. For ye Boston demoiselle is a notable talker, and doth itt welle, knowing manie thynges whereof ye firste is de omnibus rebus, ye seconde et quibusdam aliis, and ye third alterum tantum. He who complayneth thatt women know nothinge, and haue noe witte, hathe nott mett ye Boston Yonge Lady; if that he dothe, and telleth hir soe, he wyll probablie remember for manie dayes what shee saide in answere. For shee holdeth dixi et solvavi animam meam to bee a goode rule, and thatt it is nott a goode thinge to goe away with wrathe pente up in ye boosum.
She worketh harde for ye armie; yea, she knitteth stockyngs and maketh shertes for ye contrabandes, whereof I haue scene one whiche a contrabande with his wyfe and children didde all were at once, so nobly greate was it. And shee belyveth in ye warre with alle hir braue little hearte and soule, for shee is Uncle Samuel hys oune daughter, if there ever was one, having greate loue for ye Union, alwaies hoping firstly for ye Union politicall, and secondlie for ye wedding union of hertes and ye union of handes, whych is nedeful, that ye countrie shall not perishe for lacke of sturdie urchins to growe upp into soldieres. And thatt theye aye all thus become goode wives and brave mothers, and bee bleste and happie in alle thynges, is ye heartes prayer of
The following extract from the Washington correspondence of the PhiladelphiaPress is significant:
'As pertinent to these questions, let me ask if you have ever gone back to the time when most of the Breckinridge papers in the free States were in danger of being mobbed and torn out after the fall of Fort Sumter?
'I will not ask why these demonstrations occurred, but I will ask if you can point to any one of these journals that is not nowfilled with strong denunciations of the Administration and its friends, and timid reproaches of the rebels in arms? Are they not all clamorous for the reörganization of the Democratic party? Are they not all against any combination of patriotic men under the name of a Union party? Their object is as plain as their early treason was notorious, and the end of their victory will be the recognition of the armed rebels, or their full forgiveness. The armed rebels are watching their movements with eagerness and joy.'
That they are doing so, is amply evidenced by the recent 'democratic' and treasonable movements in Washington. In time of war, and especially of such a war as this, there can be, as Mr. Douglas said, 'but patriots and traitors.' Away with all parties—till the enemy are ours, the only parties should be those of the North and South.
* * * * *
The municipal authorities at Nashville met Governor Johnson's appeal, urging them to take the oath of allegiance, by a prompt refusal—falling back 'for reasons' on State rights. There should be, in these times, but one way of dealing with all such State rights gentlemen—arrest as traitors, and trial under military law. This is no day for dilly-dallying and quibbling about 'State rights.' There is only one right in such cases—the right of the Union, and fidelity to it. This rebuff is generally spoken of by the press as 'the Nashville Snag.' There be such things as snag-extractors, and we trust that our Government is free enough from red-tape do-nothingism and circumlocution, to make short work of these insolent rebels, whatever they be.
Boston, April 1st.
DEAR EDITOR: I jot down the following as one of the most melancholy results of this wicked and cruel war:
The Captain at our house believes in General Butler. The Lawyer don't. Such is the state of parties at our table. As I said before, the hand of brother is uplifted against brother, and either may become a fratri-cider—as the fellow did when he squeezed his brother to death in the press, among the apples.
The captain said, the other day, that Butler had a great deal of dash.
'U—m!' growled the lawyer; 'one kind of dash he certainly has—to perfection.'
'And what is that?'
'Balder-dash!' was the annihilating reply.
I report this for the special consideration of Governor Andrew.
Nor less illustrative of the terrible tendencies of civil war, is the following:
'We have a whole navy of gun-boats at Island Number Ten,' said the Colonel, reflectively.
'Yes,' was the unwary reply.
'Then how comes it that if the knave can take the Ten, a navy can't?'
Yours in grief,
* * * * *
The Legislature of Kentucky has, probably, by this time, made it a criminal offence for any person to join the K.G.C. As soon as the lists shall have been published of all those Northern men who have belonged to the order, the traitors will find themselves in quite as enviable a situation as though 'escaped convict' were branded on their foreheads.
* * * * *
From one now far away in the South—albeit not on the Southern side—we have an ornithological reminiscence which may be of interest to those who endeavor to solve the problem, whether animals ever rise to reasoning.
* * * * *
I have amused myself the past year raising a brood of chickens in my little backyard. Being 'tenderly brought up,' they are, of course, very tame, particularly a little brown pullet, that lays an egg in the cellar every morning. A few days ago, as I was leaving the house after breakfast, my wife cried out for me to come into the kitchen. I did so, and found the little brown hen standing quietly by the door at the head of the cellar-stairs, evidently waiting for it to be opened. Going outside, I found the servant had neglected to open the 'bulkhead' door, as usual, and my wise little biddy had concluded to go down-cellar through the kitchen. When I drove her out and opened the outer-door, she went down and laid, as usual. She was never in the house before, to my knowledge, and has not been since. This is a fact, and is only one more instance added to many I could adduce, which go to show that the 'dumb creatures' think and reason.
* * * * *
Poetry on bells is divisible into two kinds, the tintinnabulistic, which refers to little hand-tinklers, sleigh-bells, and the kind which oriental mothers were wont, of old, to sew to the hems of their daughters' garments, [that they might tell by the sound whether the young ladies were at mischief or no,] and thecampanologistic, descriptive solely of large church ringers, Big Toms of Oxford, and the regular vivos voco, fulgura frango giants, such as Mr. Meneely makes and sends all over the country, to factories, churches, dépôts, and steamboats. The sleigh-bell song, according to this classification, is tintinnabulistic; so, too, is the Russian troika,
'I kolokolchick dor voltaia,'
as is also the immortal line which speaks of
That tocsin of the soul—the dinner-bell.'
But Schiller's great ringing poem is superbly campanologistic; so is Southey's 'Inch Cope Bell,' and to this division belong all tollings, fire-alarms, and knells in verse whatever.
The following lyric is, however, far above either, as it ambitiously embraces the whole subject, and therefore, so far as comprehensiveness is concerned, must of course take precedence even of Tennyson's 'Ring Out!'
I was sitting, one night, in my easy-chair,
When a bell's clear notes rung out on the air;
And a few stray thoughts, as this ballad tells,
Came into my mind, about sundry bells:
About church-going bells, whose solemn chime
Calls, far and near, 'It's time! it's time!'
While the worshiper goes, with a faith that is strong,
For he knows he can trust their clear 'Ding-dong!'
Of deified bells, like Bel of old,
With silver tongues and a ring of gold;
While the many who run at their silvery call,
Never reach the goal—d; but tire and fall!
Of modest bells, by the river's side,
As they meekly hang o'er the liquid tide;
But are tongueless all, and their changes few,
For they ever appear in a dress of blue.
Of modern Belles, which the world well knows,
Go all the ways that the fashion goes;
And ring their chimes through an endless range,
As they change their rattle, and rattle their 'change.'
Of divers' bells, which are made to go,
With their living freight, to the depths below;
And are quiet quite, on their water ways,
Save hen they are trying to 'make a raise.'
Of door-bells, which our callers ring
By a kind of a sort of a wire of a string;
Answered oft, as wire-pullers ought to be—
'Not at home!' meaning, 'Not in order to see!'
About John Bells, one of whom, we know,
Politicians rung not long ago;
An unlucky Bell, and to-day a wreck,
But fit, even now, to be wrung—by the neck!
About Isabelles, so diverse in kind,
That the one you prefer isn't hard to find;
Yet hard 'tis to be in this all agreed—
Isabelle by name is a belle in-deed!
And thus, as I sat in my easy-chair,
While the bell's clear notes rung through the air,
Did a few stray thoughts, as this ballad tells,
Come into my mind, about sundry bells.
'Is this 'dreadful bad'?' inquires a correspondent. Gentle writer, it is not dreadful, neither is it bad; and we appeal to the reader to decide. To our thought, it is as brave and wild a love-poem as we have seen for many a day:
A Health to the King—my king!
But not in the ruby wine,
Too pale for the name I sing;
Too weak for such love as mine!
How shall I pledge thee, my king?
What nectar shall fill the bowl?
Hope herself can not bring
A wine—like that in my soul!
Then take for a pledge, my king!
A life—it is wholly thine;
And quaff from the cup, O king!
A soul—not the ruby wine!
Happy the gentleman who is crowned king with the garland of song and consecrated with the wine of life and of love.
The sentinel sounds the dread note that alarms,
Each man springs up from his sleep to arms!
There's an onward dash
And a sudden flash;
There's a sigh and a groan,
And the quick feet have flown—
A picket is dying alone.
For men must fight for the sleeping Right,
And who can stop to reckon?
The newspaper tells what the President thought,
What Stanton did or Seward taught,
In columns long,
With capitals strong;
And the paper is filled
As the editor willed:
'SLIGHT SKIRMISH!—one man killed.'
But men must fight for the sleeping Right,
And who can stop to reckon?
A wife sits sad in her fireside chair,
And thinks of the husband so brave to dare,
And dreams once more
That the war is o'er;
While the South-birds trill
Near the picket-camp still,
And the picket lies dead on the hill.
For men must fight for the sleeping Right,
And God stands by to reckon.
But the account is kept in eternity—there are none lost, no, not one—and the time will come when all shall be found and known who were brave in this world's battles.
* * * * *
We gladly find a corner for the following, by one known to us of old, as no indifferent poet:
[Greek: all oupôs ama pánta Theoi dosan anthrôpoisin.]—Iliad.
Lift up your faces to the golden dawn
That ushers in your year of Jubilee,
Ye who to unrequited toil have gone
In this great land, in this proud century.
The clock of time has beat its seconds slow,
But lo the hour of your release has come;
Ay, strikes, and thrills the world with every blow
That rings Oppression out, and Freedom home.
Not, not in vain, 'How long, O Lord: how long?'
Have ye inquired of Him who knew your needs;
For those who prospered by your ancient wrong,
Invoked the vengeance that upon their heads
Is raining ruin. Lo! the Lord is just:
Through the Red Sea of War ye, ye alone
Come up unharmed; while all the oppressor's host
In their mid-passage shall be overthrown.
* * * * *
For the benefit of those desiring to obtain the celebrated K.G.C. pamphlet, we may state that it is published by the National Union Club, communications for which may be addressed to Post-office Box No. 1079, Louisville, Ky.
* * * * *
Owing to our enlarged edition obliging us to send this number of the Magazine to press at an earlier date than usual, we are unable to give this month the commencement of Mr. Kimball's new novel, and the continuation of 'Among the Pines.' Both articles will appear in the next issue.
There are periods in the world's history marked by extraordinary and violent crises sudden as the breaking forth of a volcano, or the bursting of a storm on the ocean. These crises sweep away in a moment the landmarks of generations. They call out fresh talent, and give to the old a new direction. It is then that new ideas are born, new theories developed. Such periods demand fresh exponents, and new men for expounders.
This Continent has lately been convulsed by an upheaving so sudden and terrible that the relations of all men and all classes to each other are violently disturbed, and people look about for the elements with which to sway the storm direct the whirlwind. Just at present, we do not know, what all this is to bring forth; but we do know that great results MUST flow from such extraordinary commotions.
At a juncture so solemn and so important, there is a special need that the intellectual force of the country should be active and efficient. It is a time for great minds to speak their thoughts boldly, and to take position as the advance guard. To this end, there is a special want unsupplied, it is that of an Independent Magazine, which shall be open to the first intellects of the land, and which shall treat the issues presented, and to be presented to the country, in a tome no way tempered by partisanship, or influences be fear, favor or the hope of reward; which shall seize and grapple with the momentous subjects that the present disturbed state of affairs heave to the surface, and which CAN NOT be laid aside or neglected.
To meet this want, the undersigned has commenced, under the editorial charge of CHARLES GODFREY LELAND, the publication of a new Magazine, devoted to Literature and National Policy.
In POLITICS, it will advocate, with all the force at its command, measures best adapted to preserve the oneness and integrity of these Unites States. It will never yield to the idea of any disruption of this Republic peaceably or otherwise; and it will discuss with honesty and impartiality what must be done to save it. In this department, some of the most eminent statesmen of the time will contribute regularly to its pages.
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Among its attractions will be presented, in the June Number, a NEW SERIAL of American Life, by RICHARD B. KIMBALL, Esq., the very popular author 'The Revelations of Wall-Street,' 'St. Leger,' etc. A series of papers by Hon. HORACE GREELEY, embodying the distinguished author's observations on the growth and development of the Great West. A series of articles by the author of 'Through the Cotton States,' containing the result of an extended tour in the seaboard Slave States, just prior to the breaking out of the war, and presenting a startling and truthful picture of the real condition of that region. No pains will be spared to render the literary attractions of the CONTINENTAL both brilliant and substantial. The lyrical or descriptive talents of the most eminentliterati have been promised to it; and nothing will be admitted which will not be distinguished by marked energy, originality, and solid strength. Avoiding every influence or association partaking of clique or coterie, it will be open to all contributions of real merit, even from writers differing materially in their views; the only limitation required being that of devotion to the Union, and the only standard of acceptance that of intrinsic excellence.
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THE CONTINENTAL MONTHLY has passed its experimental ordeal, and stands firmly established in popular regard. It was started at a period when any new literary enterprise was deemed almost foolhardy, but the publisher believed that the time had arrived for just such a Magazine. Fearlessly advocating the doctrine of ultimate and gradual Emancipation, for the sake of the UNION and the WHITE MAN, it has found favor in quarters where censure was expected, and patronage where opposition only was looked for. While holding firmly to its own opinions, it has opened its pages to POLITICAL WRITERS of widely different views, and has made a feature of employing the literary labors of the younger race of American writers. How much has been gained by thus giving, practically, the fullest freedom to the expression of opinion, and by the infusion of fresh blood into literature, has been felt from month to month in its constantly increasing circulation.
The most eminent of our Statesmen have furnished THE CONTINENTAL many of its political articles, and the result is, it has not given labored essays fit only for a place in ponderous encyclopedias, but fresh, vigorous, and practical contributions on men and things as they exist.
It will be our effort to go on in the path we have entered, and as a guarantee of the future, we may point to the array of live and brilliant talent which has brought so many encomiums on our Magazine. The able political articles which have given it so much reputation will be continued in each issue, and in the next number will be commenced a New Serial by Richard B. Kimball, the eminent author of the 'Under-Currents of Wall-Street,' 'St. Leger,' etc., entitled,
WAS HE SUCCESSFUL?
An account of the Life and Conduct of Hiram Meeker, one of the leading men in the mercantile community, and 'a bright and shining light' in the Church, recounting what he did, and how he made his money.
A work which will excel the previous brilliant productions of this author.
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By the Seventh Census, (that of 1850,) it appears that 2,210,828 of our then population, were of foreign birth. We have not at hand the means of saying how that appears in the Census of 1860.
Some of the contrasts which the census shows are startling. While South-Carolina has, in seventy years, only about doubled her free population, New-York, in the same period, has increased hers nearly ten-fold. Ohio, in ten years less time, has increased hers fifty-two fold, Indiana, in the same period, increased hers two hundred and eighty fold! and Illinois, in fifty years, increased hers one hundred and forty fold!
Chance threw in our way, many years ago, in Philadelphia, a man whose life boasted one event. While a boy, he had for some time been sent every morning by his employer to inquire after the health of 'Mr. TALLEYRAND.' When a few years shall have passed, there will only be here and there one who can remember having met in New York or Philadelphia JOSEPH BONAPARTE or LOUIS NAPOLEON.—NOTE BY THE EDITOR.
Vide Gems and Jewels. By Madame de Barrera.
King-tscheu is the sixth of the nine provinces which are described in the tax-roll of Ju, (which contains the sixth of the included divisions of the Annal-book.) It extended from the north side of the hill Hong. Compare Hongingta, the celebrated expounder of King in the times of Tang, with the already mentioned extracts from the Annal-book.
In the Leang-schu we find an error in the writing, (a very frequent occurrence in Chinese transcriptions.) Instead of the character Tong (4233 Bas) we have Tang, (11,444 B.) which signifies copper, and according to which we must read, 'Their leaves resemble copper,' which is evidently an error.
This is also the case in China with the bamboo sprouts, on which account they are termed Sun, (7449 B.) that is, the buds of the first ten days, since they only keep for that time.
The year-books of Leans have a variation; instead of the character Kin, (11,492 B.) 'embroidered stuff,' (meaning, of course, embroidered or ornamented stuff in general,) we have Mien, which signifies 'fine silk.'
Montesinos, Mem. Antiguas, MS. lib. 2, cap. 7. Vide Prescott's Conquest of Peru, Book I. p. 128.
The narrative of these early voyages is preserved in Hakluyt's greatHistory of the Voyages and Discoveries of the English Nation, and this and the following extracts are taken from Vol. III., published in 1600. Americana are under great obligations to this faithful old chronicler.
Lane often refers to the Chesapeans, a tribe who dwelt on the Elizabeth River, probably at about the present site of Norfolk, and down to Old Point Comfort. The word Chesapeake is compounded from Che, great, sepe or sepo, river, and peak, a white shell, meaning 'great river of shells,' and probably referred to the mouth of James River. Roanoak means a black shell.
This was no doubt what is now known as 'Old Point Comfort.' The position would have been well chosen for defense against his enemies. The Indians knew no difference between an island and a peninsula, and Old Point has but a very narrow connection with the main land.
This was undoubtedly Wampum or Wampeage.
After Lane returned home, he obtained some celebrity as a soldier, in various wars, and was knighted. His narrative, addressed to Raleigh, as printed in Hakluyt, would prove him possessed of much energy. As the first Governor of an American colony, his name has been kept in remembrance. Had the supply-ship arrived but a few weeks sooner, he might have remained, and his colony have been the progenitors of the English race on this continent.
A celebrated traveler asserts that tobacco, now extended over both hemispheres, is an evidence of civilization.
'To all Christian People to whom these Presents shall come, Greeting, know ye that I Sr William Berkeley Knt Capt Generall and chief Governor of Virginia and One of the Proprietors of Carolina and Albemarle Send Greeting Know ye that I the sd Sr William Berkeley for and in consideration of ye Sum of one hundred pounds sterling to me in hand already paid or secured to be paid, have bargained, sold, agreed, alienated, enfeoffed and confirmed and by these presents Do fully, clearly and absolutely bargain, sell, alienate enfoeffe and confirm unto Joshua Lamb of New England, Merchant, the whole Island of Roanoke Situate and being in the county of Albemarle in the province of Carolina, Together with what is thereon standing growing or being, with all ye profits, privileges and advantages thereto belonging or in any wise appertaining and also all the cattle, hoggs and other stock, with the marshes, houses and buildings thereon to the sd Joshua Lamb. To Have and to Hold the premises and every part and parcel thereof to him his heirs Execrs and Admrs and assigns forever Free from any let, hinderance or molestation of me the said Sr William Berkeley or any other person or persons whatever. And I do hereby further Authorize and impower the sd Joshua Lamb his heirs Execrs and Admrs and assigns to enter upon and possess himself of all and every of the premises and to Oust, eject and expel any person or persons whatsoever pretending any right, title or interest thereto,
'In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and seal this 17th day of April, 1676.
'WILLIAM BERKELEY, L.S.'
In 1785, more than a century after, the following appears in the inventory of the estate of a resident of Boston:
'In the State of North Carolina—one half of Roanoke Island, valued at £184 6s. 8d.'
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