The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 14, No. 84, October, 1864

By Various

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October, 1864, by Various

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Title: Atlantic Monthly, Volume 14, No. 84, October, 1864
       A Magazine Of Literature, Art, And Politics

Author: Various

Release Date: June 18, 2005 [EBook #16087]

Language: English


Produced by Cornell University, Joshua Hutchinson, Josephine
Paolucci and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at

[Transcriber's note: Footnotes moved to end of text.]





Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1864, by TICKNOR AND
FIELDS, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of

       *       *       *       *       *


That was a pleasant life on picquet, in the delicious early summer of
the South, and among the endless flowery forests of that blossoming
isle. In the retrospect, I seem to see myself adrift upon a horse's back
amid a sea of roses. The various outposts were within a five-mile
radius, and it was one long, delightful gallop, day and night. I have a
faint impression that the moon shone steadily every night for two
months; and yet I remember certain periods of such dense darkness that
in riding through the wood-paths it was really unsafe to go beyond a
walk, for fear of branches above and roots below; and one of my officers
was once shot at by a Rebel scout who stood unperceived at his horse's

We lived in a dilapidated plantation-house, the walls scrawled with
capital charcoal-sketches by R., of the New Hampshire Fourth, with a
good map of the island and its paths by C. of the First Massachusetts
Cavalry; there was a tangled garden, full of neglected roses and
camellias, and we filled the great fireplace with magnolias by day and
with logs by night; I slept on a sort of shelf in the corner, bequeathed
to me by Major F., my jovial predecessor,--and if I waked up at any
time, I could put my head through the broken window, arouse my orderly,
and ride off to see if I could catch a picquet asleep. I spell the word
with a _q_, because such was the highest authority, in that Department
at least, and they used to say at post head-quarters that so soon as the
officer in command of the outposts grew negligent, and was guilty of a
_k_, he was instantly ordered in.

To those doing outpost-duty on an island, however large, the main-land
has all the fascination of forbidden fruit, and on a scale bounded only
by the horizon. Emerson says that every house looks ideal until we enter
it,--and it is certainly so, if it be just the other side of the hostile
lines. Every grove in that blue distance appears enchanted ground, and
yonder loitering gray-back, leading his horse to water in the farthest
distance, makes one thrill with a desire to hail him, to shoot at him,
to capture him, to do anything to bridge this inexorable dumb space that
lies between. A boyish feeling, no doubt, and one that time diminishes,
without effacing; yet it is a feeling which lies at the bottom of many
rash actions in war, and of some brilliant ones. For one, I could never
quite outgrow it, though restricted by duty from doing many foolish
things in consequence, and also restrained by reverence for certain
confidential advisers whom I had always at hand, and who considered it
their mission to keep me always on short rations of personal adventure.
Indeed, most of that sort of entertainment in the army devolves upon
scouts detailed for the purpose, volunteer aides-de-camp and
newspaper-reporters,--other officers being expected to be about business
more prosaic.

All the excitements of war are quadrupled by darkness; and as I rode
along our outer lines at night, and watched the glimmering flames which
at regular intervals starred the opposite river-shore, the longing was
irresistible to cross the barrier of dusk, and see whether it were men
or ghosts who hovered round those dying embers. I had yielded to these
impulses in boat-adventures by night,--for it was a part of my
instructions to obtain all possible information about the Rebel
outposts,--and fascinating indeed it was to glide along, noiselessly
paddling, with a dusky guide, through the endless intricacies of those
Southern marshes, scaring the reed-birds, which wailed and fled away
into the darkness, and penetrating several miles into the interior,
between hostile fires, where discovery might be death. Yet there were
drawbacks as to these enterprises, since it is not easy for a boat to
cross still water, even on the darkest night, without being seen by
watchful eyes; and, moreover, the extremes of high and low tide
transform so completely the whole condition of those rivers that it
needs very nice calculation to do one's work at precisely the right
time. To vary the experiment, I had often thought of trying a personal
reconnaissance by swimming, at a certain point, whenever circumstances
should make it an object.

The opportunity at last arrived, and I shall never forget the glee with
which, after several postponements, I finally rode forth, a little
before midnight, on a night which seemed made for the purpose. I had, of
course, kept my own secret, and was entirely alone. The great Southern
fire-flies were out, not haunting the low ground merely, like ours, but
rising to the loftiest tree-tops with weird illumination, and anon
hovering so low that my horse often stepped the higher to avoid them.
The dewy Cherokee roses brushed my face, the solemn "Chuck-will's-widow"
croaked her incantation, and the rabbits raced phantom-like across the
shadowy road. Slowly in the darkness I followed the well-known path to
the spot where our most advanced outposts were stationed, holding a
causeway which thrust itself far out across the separating river,--thus
fronting a similar causeway on the other side, while a channel of
perhaps three hundred yards, once traversed by a ferry-boat, rolled
between. At low tide this channel was the whole river, with broad, oozy
marshes on each side; at high tide the marshes were submerged, and the
stream was a mile wide. This was the point which I had selected. To
ascertain the numbers and position of the picquet on the opposite
causeway was my first object, as it was a matter on which no two of our
officers agreed.

To this point, therefore, I rode, and dismounting, after being duly
challenged by the sentinel at the causeway-head, walked down the long
and lonely path. The tide was well up, though still on the flood, as I
desired; and each visible tuft of marsh-grass might, but for its
motionlessness, have been a prowling boat. Dark as the night had
appeared, the water was pale, smooth, and phosphorescent, and I remember
that the phrase "wan water," so familiar in the Scottish ballads, struck
me just then as peculiarly appropriate. A gentle breeze, from which I
had hoped for a ripple, had utterly died away, and it was a warm,
breathless Southern night. There was no sound but the faint swash of the
coming tide, the noises of the reed-birds in the marshes, and the
occasional leap of a fish; and it seemed to my over-strained ear as if
every footstep of my own must be heard for miles. However, I could have
no more postponements, and the thing must be tried now or never.

Reaching the farther end of the causeway, I found my men couched, like
black statues, behind the slight earthwork there constructed. I expected
that my proposed immersion would rather bewilder them, but knew that
they would say nothing, as usual. As for the lieutenant on that post, he
was a steady, matter-of-fact, perfectly disciplined Englishman, who wore
a Crimean medal, and never asked a superfluous question in his life. If
I had casually remarked to him, "Mr. Hooker, the General has ordered me
on a brief personal reconnaissance to the Planet Jupiter, and I wish you
to take care of my watch, lest it should be damaged by the Precession of
the Equinoxes," he would have responded with a brief "All right, Sir,"
and a quick military gesture, and have put the thing in his pocket. As
it was, I simply gave him the watch, and remarked that I was going to
take a swim.

I do not remember ever to have experienced a greater sense of
exhilaration than when I slipped noiselessly into the placid water, and
struck out into the smooth, eddying current for the opposite shore. The
night was so still and lovely, my black statues looked so dream-like at
their posts behind the low earthwork, the opposite arm of the causeway
stretched so invitingly from the Rebel main, the horizon glimmered so
low around me,--for it always appears lower to a swimmer than even to an
oarsman,--that I seemed floating in some concave globe, some magic
crystal, of which I was the enchanted centre. With each little ripple of
my steady progress all things hovered and changed; the stars danced and
nodded above; where the stars ended, the great Southern fire-flies
began; and closer than the fire-flies, there clung round me a halo of
phosphorescent sparkles from the soft salt water.

Had I told any one of my purpose, I should have had warnings and
remonstrances enough. The few negroes who did not believe in alligators
believed in sharks; the skeptics as to sharks were orthodox in respect
to alligators; while those who rejected both had private prejudices as
to snapping-turtles. The surgeon would have threatened intermittent
fever, the first assistant rheumatism, and the second assistant
congestive chills; non-swimmers would have predicted exhaustion, and
swimmers cramp; and all this before coming within bullet-range of any
hospitalities on the other shore. But I knew the folly of most alarms
about reptiles and fishes; man's imagination peoples the water with many
things which do not belong there, or prefer to keep out of his way, if
they do; fevers and congestions were the surgeon's business, and I
always kept people to their own department; cramp and exhaustion were
dangers I could measure, as I had often done; bullets were a more
substantial danger, and I must take the chance,--if a loon could dive at
the flash, why not I? If I were once ashore, I should have to cope with
the Rebels on their own ground, which they knew better than I; but the
water was my ground, where I, too, had been at home from boyhood.

I swam as swiftly and softly as I could, although it seemed as if water
never had been so still before. It appeared impossible that anything
uncanny should hide beneath that lovely mirror; and yet when some
floating wisp of reeds suddenly coiled itself around my neck, or some
unknown thing, drifting deeper, coldly touched my foot, it gave that
undefinable sense of shudder which every swimmer knows, and which
especially appeals to the imagination by night. Sometimes a slight sip
of brackish water would enter my lips,--for I naturally tried to swim as
low as possible,--and then would follow a slight gasping and contest
against choking, such as seemed to me a perfect convulsion; for I
suppose the tendency to choke and sneeze is always enhanced by the
circumstance that one's life may depend on keeping still, just as
yawning becomes irresistible where to yawn would be social ruin, and
just as one is sure to sleep in church, if one sits in a conspicuous
pew. At other times, some unguarded motion would create a splashing
which seemed, in the tension of my senses, to be loud enough to be heard
at Richmond, although it really mattered not, since there are fishes in
those rivers which make as much noise on special occasions as if they
were misguided young whales.

As I drew near the opposite shore, the dark causeway projected more and
more distinctly, to my fancy at least, and I swam more softly still,
utterly uncertain as to how far, in the stillness of air and water, my
phosphorescent course could be traced by eye or ear. A slight ripple
would have saved me from observation, I was more than ever sure, and I
would have whistled for a fair wind as eagerly as any sailor, but that
my breath was worth more than anything it was likely to bring. The water
became smoother and smoother, and nothing broke the dim surface except a
few clomps of rushes and my unfortunate head. The outside of this member
gradually assumed to its inside a gigantic magnitude; it had always
annoyed me at the hatter's from a merely animal bigness, with no
commensurate contents to show for it, and now I detested it more than
ever. A physical fooling of turgescence and congestion in that region,
such as swimmers often feel, probably increased the impression. I
thought with envy of the Aztec children, of the headless horseman of
Sleepy Hollow, of Saint Somebody with his head tucked under his arm.
Plotinus was less ashamed of his whole body than I of this inconsiderate
and stupid appendage. To be sure, I might swim for a certain distance
under water. But that accomplishment I had reserved for a retreat, for I
knew that the longer I stayed down the more surely I should have to
snort like a walrus when I came up again, and to approach an enemy with
such a demonstration was not to be thought of.

Suddenly a dog barked. We had certain information that a pack of hounds
was kept at a Rebel station a few miles off, on purpose to hunt
runaways, and I had heard from the negroes almost fabulous accounts of
the instinct of these animals. I knew, that, although water baffled
their scent, they yet could recognize in some manner the approach of any
person across water as readily as by land; and of the vigilance of all
dogs by night every traveller among Southern plantations has ample
demonstration. I was now so near that I could dimly see the figures of
men moving to and fro upon the end of the causeway, and could hear the
dull knock, when one struck his foot against a piece of timber.

As my first object was to ascertain whether there were sentinels at that
time at that precise point, I saw that I was approaching the end of my
experiment. Could I have once reached the causeway unnoticed, I could
have lurked in the water beneath its projecting timbers, and perhaps
made my way along the main shore, as I had known fugitive slaves to do,
while coming from that side. Or had there been any ripple on the water,
to confuse the aroused and watchful eyes, I could have made a circuit
and approached the causeway at another point, though I had already
satisfied myself that there was only a narrow channel on each side of
it, even at high tide, and not, as on our side, a broad expanse of
water. Indeed, this knowledge alone was worth all the trouble I had
taken, and to attempt much more than this, in the face of a curiosity
already roused, would have been a waste of future opportunities. I could
try again, with the benefit of this new knowledge, on a point where the
statements of the negroes had always been contradictory.

Resolving, however, to continue the observation a very little longer,
since the water felt much warmer than I had expected, and there was no
sense of chill or fatigue, I grasped at some wisps of straw or rushes
that floated near, gathering them round my face a little, and then,
drifting nearer the wharf in what seemed a sort of eddy, was able,
without creating further alarm, to make some additional observations on
points which it is not best now to particularize. Then, turning my back
upon the mysterious shore which had thus far lured me, I sank softly
below the surface and swam as far as I could under water.

During this unseen retreat, I heard, of course, all manner of gurglings
and hollow reverberations, and could fancy as many rifle-shots as I
pleased. But on rising to the surface all seemed quiet, and even I did
not create as much noise as I should have expected. I was now at a safe
distance, since they were always chary of showing their boats, and they
would hardly take personally to the water. What with absorbed attention
first, and this submersion afterwards, I had lost all my bearings but
the stars, having been long out of sight of my original point of
departure. However, the difficulties of the return were nothing; making
a slight allowance for the flood-tide, which could not yet have turned,
I should soon regain the place I had left. So I struck out freshly
against the smooth water, feeling just a little stiffened by the
exertion, and with an occasional chill running up the back of the neck,
but with no nips from sharks, no nudges from alligators, and not a
symptom of fever-and-ague.

Time I could not, of course, measure,--one never can, in a novel
position; but, after a reasonable amount of swimming, I began to look,
with a natural interest, for the pier which I had quitted. I noticed,
with some solicitude, that the woods along the friendly shore made one
continuous shadow, and that the line of low bushes on the long causeway
could scarcely be relieved against them, yet I knew where they ought to
be, and the more doubtful I felt about it, the more I put down my
doubts, as if they were unreasonable children. One can scarcely conceive
of the alteration made in familiar objects by bringing the eye as low as
the horizon, especially by night; to distinguish foreshortening is
impossible, and every low near object is equivalent to one higher and
more remote. Still I had the stars; and soon my eye, more practised, was
enabled to select one precise line of bushes as that which marked the
causeway, and for which I must direct my course.

As I swam steadily, but with some sense of fatigue, towards this
phantom-line, I found it difficult to keep my faith steady and my
progress true; everything appeared to shift and waver, in the uncertain
light. The distant trees seemed not trees, but bushes, and the bushes
seemed not exactly bushes, but might, after all, be distant trees. Could
I be so confident, that, out of all that low stretch of shore, I could
select the one precise point where the friendly causeway stretched its
long arm to receive me from the water? How easily (some tempter
whispered at my ear) might one swerve a little, on either side, and be
compelled to flounder over half a mile of oozy marsh on an ebbing tide,
before reaching our own shore and that hospitable volley of bullets with
which it would probably greet me! Had I not already (thus the tempter
continued) been swimming rather unaccountably far, supposing me on a
straight track for that inviting spot where my sentinels and my drapery
were awaiting my return?

Suddenly I felt a sensation as of fine ribbons drawn softly across my
person, and I found myself among some rushes. But what business had
rushes there, or I among them? I knew that there was not a solitary spot
of shoal in the deep channel where I supposed myself swimming, and it
was plain in an instant that I had somehow missed my course, and must be
getting among the marshes. I felt confident, to be sure, that I could
not have widely erred, but was guiding my course for the proper side of
the river. But whether I had drifted above or below the causeway I had
not the slightest clue to tell.

I pushed steadily forward, with some increasing sense of lassitude,
passing one marshy islet after another, all seeming strangely out of
place, and sometimes just reaching with my foot a soft tremulous shoal
which gave scarce the shadow of a support, though even that shadow
rested my feet. At one of these moments of stillness, it suddenly
occurred to my perception (what nothing but this slight contact could
have assured me, in the darkness) that I was in a powerful current, and
that this current set _the wrong way_. Instantly a flood of new
intelligence came. Either I had unconsciously turned and was rapidly
nearing the Rebel shore,--a suspicion which a glance at the stars
corrected,--or else it was the tide itself which had turned, and which
was sweeping me down the river with all its force, and was also sucking
away at every moment the narrowing water from that treacherous expanse
of mud out of whose horrible miry embrace I had lately helped to rescue
a shipwrecked crew. Either alternative was rather formidable. I can
distinctly remember that for about one half-minute the whole vast
universe appeared to swim in the same watery uncertainty in which I
floated. I began to doubt everything, to distrust the stars, the line of
low bushes for which I was wearily striving, the very land on which they
grew, if such visionary tiring could be rooted anywhere. Doubts trembled
in my mind like the weltering water, and that awful sensation of _having
one's feet unsupported_, which benumbs the spent swimmer's heart, seemed
to clutch at mine, though not yet to enter it. I was more absorbed in
that singular sensation of nightmare, such as one may feel equally when
lost by land or by water, as if one's own position were all right, but
the place looked for had somehow been preternaturally abolished out of
the universe. At best, might not a man in the water lose all his power
of direction, and so move in an endless circle until he sank exhausted?
It required a deliberate and conscious effort to keep my brain quite
cool. I have not the reputation of being of an excitable temperament,
but the contrary; yet I could at that moment see my way to a condition
in which one might become insane in an instant. It was as if a fissure
opened somewhere, and I saw my way into a mad-house; then it closed, and
everything went on as before. Once in my life I had obtained a slight
glimpse of the same sensation, and then too, strangely enough, while
swimming,--in the mightiest ocean-surge into which I had ever dared
plunge my mortal body. Keats hints at the same sudden emotion, in a wild
poem written among the Scottish mountains. It was not the distinctive
sensation which drowning men are said to have, that spasmodic passing in
review of one's whole personal history. I had no well-defined anxiety,
felt no fear, was moved to no prayer, did not give a thought to home or
friends; only it swept over me, as with a sudden tempest, that, if I
meant to get back to my own camp, I must keep my wits about me. I must
not dwell on any other alternative, any more than a boy who climbs a
precipice must look down. Imagination had no business here. That way
madness lay. There was a shore somewhere before me, and I must get to
it, by the ordinary means, before the ebb laid bare the flats, or swept
me below the lower bends of the stream. That was all.

Suddenly a light gleamed for an instant before me, as if from a house in
a grove of great trees upon a bank; and I knew that it came from the
window of a ruined plantation-building, where our most advanced outposts
had their head-quarters. The flash revealed to me every point of the
situation. I saw at once where I was, and how I got there: that the tide
had turned while I was swimming, and with a much briefer interval of
slack-water than I had been led to suppose,--that I had been swept a
good way down-stream, and was far beyond all possibility of regaining
the point I had left. Could I, however, retain my strength to swim one
or two hundred yards farther, of which I had no doubt, and if the water
did not ebb too rapidly, of which I had more fear, then I was quite
safe. Every stroke took me more and more out of the power of the
current, and there might even be an eddy. I could not afford to be
carried down much farther, for there the channel made a sweep toward
the wrong side of the river; but there was now no reason why this should
happen. I could dismiss all fear, indeed, except that of being fired
upon by our own sentinels, many of whom were then new recruits, and with
the usual disposition to shoot first and investigate afterwards.

I found myself swimming in shallow and shallower water, and the flats
seemed almost bare when I neared the shore, where the great gnarled
branches of the live-oaks hung far over the muddy bank. Floating on my
back for noiselessness, I paddled rapidly in with my hands, expecting
momentarily to hear the challenge of the picquet, and the ominous click
so likely to follow. I knew that some one should be pacing to and fro,
along that beat, but could not tell at what point he might be at that
precise moment. Besides, there was a faint possibility that some chatty
corporal might have carried the news of my bath thus far along the line,
and they might be partially prepared for this unexpected visitor.
Suddenly, like another flash, came the quick, quaint challenge,--

"Halt! Who's go dar?"

"F-f-friend with the c-c-countersign," retorted I, with chilly, but
conciliatory energy, rising at full length out of the shallow water, to
show myself a man and a brother.

"Ac-vance, friend, and give de countersign," responded the literal
soldier, who at such a time would have accosted a spirit of light or
goblin damned with no other formula.

I advanced and gave it, he recognizing my voice at once. And then and
there, as I stood, a dripping ghost, beneath the trees before him, the
unconscionable fellow, wishing to exhaust upon me the utmost resources
of military hospitality, deliberately _presented arms_.

Now a soldier on picquet, or at night, usually presents arms to nobody;
but a sentinel on camp-guard by day is expected to perform that ceremony
to anything in human shape that has two rows of buttons. Here was a
human shape, but so utterly buttonless that it exhibited not even a rag
to which a button could by any earthly possibility be appended,
buttonless even potentially; and my blameless Ethiopian presented arms
to even this. Where, then, are the theories of Carlyle, the axioms of
"Sartor Resartus," the inability of humanity to conceive "a naked Duke
of Windlestraw addressing a naked House of Lords?" Cautioning my
adherent, however, as to the proprieties suitable for such occasions
thenceforward, I left him watching the river with renewed vigilance, and
awaiting the next merman who should report himself.

Finding my way to the building, I hunted up a sergeant and a blanket,
got a fire kindled in the dismantled chimney, and sat before it in my
single garment, like a moist, but undismayed Choctaw, until my horse and
clothing could be brought round from the Causeway. It seemed strange
that the morning had not yet dawned, after the uncounted periods that
must have elapsed; but when my wardrobe arrived, I looked at my watch
and found that my night in the water had lasted precisely one hour.

Galloping home, I turned in with alacrity, and without a drop of
whiskey, and waked a few hours after in excellent condition. The rapid
changes of which that Department has seen so many--and, perhaps, to so
little purpose--soon transferred us to a different scene. I have been on
other scouts since then, and by various processes, but never with a zest
so novel as was afforded by that night's experience. The thing soon got
wind in the regiment, and led to only one ill consequence, so far as I
know. It rather suppressed a way I had of lecturing the officers on the
importance of reducing their personal baggage to a minimum. They got a
trick of congratulating me, very respectfully, on the thoroughness with
which I had once conformed my practice to my precepts.

       *       *       *       *       *


The red flag--not the red flag of the loathed and deadly pestilence that
has destroyed so many lives and disfigured so many fair and so many
manly countenances, but (in some circumstances) the scarcely less
ominous flag of the auctioneer--has been displayed from the handsome and
substantial red-brick house in Kensington-Place Gardens, London, in
which Thackeray lately lived, and in which he wrote the opening chapters
of his last and never-to-be-completed work, which we are all reading
with mingled pleasure and regret.

I rejoice to see the flags and pennants gracefully waving from the masts
of the outward or the inward bound ship; to see our beautiful national
ensign,--the ensign that is destined sooner or later, so all loyal and
patriotic men and women hope and believe, triumphantly to float over the
largest, the freest, the happiest, the most prosperous country in the
whole wide world,--to see the stars and stripes fluttering in the breeze
from the city flag-staff and the village liberty-pole; to see the
dancing banners and the fluttering pennons of a regiment of brave and
stalwart men marching in all the pride, pomp, and circumstance of war to
the defence of their country in this her hour of danger and of need. As
a child, I loved to see the colors of the holiday-soldiers flapping in
the wind and flaunting in the sun on "muster-day." Nay, was not an uncle
of mine (he is an old man now, and is fond of bragging of the brave days
of old, when he was a gay and gallant sunshine-soldier) the
standard-bearer of a once famous company of fair-weather soldiers?--dead
now, most of them, and their

                "bones are dust,
    And their good swords rust";

--and did not this daring and heroic uncle of mine, while bravely
upbearing his gorgeous silken banner (a gift of the beautiful and
all-accomplished ladies of Seaport) in a well-contested sham fight,
receive, from the accidental discharge of a field-piece, an honorable
and soldier-like wound, and of which he ever after boasted louder, and
took more pride in, than the bravest veteran in Grant's gallant army of
the scars and injuries received at the siege of Vicksburg? And no wonder
at that, perhaps. For you will find hundreds who have been cut by the
sword or pierced by the bullet of a Rebel, to one who has been ever so
slightly wounded upon a holiday training-field.

But I never could, and I never shall, abide the sight of the red and
ruthless flag of the vendue-master. 'Tis a signal that death is still
busy, and that to many the love of money is greater than the love of
friends and of those nearer and dearer than friends,--that fortune is
fickle and that prosperity has fled,--that humbugs and sharpers are
alive and active. 'Tis a reminder--and therefore may have its use in the
world--of our mortality, an admonisher of our pride, a represser of our
love of greed and gain. 'Tis evidently an invention of Satan's, this
selling by vendue; and perhaps the first auction was that by which Cain
sold the house and furniture of his brother Abel, then lately deceased.
If there were no such thing in the world as death and misfortune and
humbug, that bit of blood-colored bunting would be but seldom flaunting
in the wind.

Charles Lamb counsels those who would enjoy true peace and quiet to
retire into a Quaker meeting; and if our sentimental readers (and for
such only is this paper written) would find wherewithal to feed and
pamper their melancholy, let them follow the mercenary flags, and become
haunters of auctions,--let them attend the sales of the effects of their
deceased friends and acquaintances,--let them see A's favorite horse, or
B's favorite country-seat, or C's favorite books and pictures knocked
down, amid the laughter of the crowd and the smart sayings and witty
retorts of the auctioneer, to the highest bidder,--and they will be
sadder, if not wiser, men than they were before. Such scenes should have
more effect on them than all the fine sermons on the vanities and
nothings of life ever preached. Sir Richard Steele, in his beautiful
paper, in the "Tatler," on "The Death of Friends," says, in speaking of
his mother's sorrow for his father's death, there was a dignity in her
grief amidst all the wildness of her transport that made pity the
weakness of his heart ever since; and perhaps it is owing to the
impressions I received at the first auction I ever attended that I am
now an inveterate sentimentalist.

How well I remember that auction! Looking back "through the dim posterns
of the mind" into the far-off days of my childhood, I see, among other
things, the large and comfortable mansion--it was the home of plenty and
the temple of hospitality--in which I passed some of the goldenest hours
of my boyhood. But the finest play has an end, and the sweetest feasts
and the merriest pastimes do not last forever. Very suddenly, indeed,
did my visits to that happy home cease. For my good friends of the
"great house"--the dearest old lady and the kindest and merriest old
gentleman that ever patted a little boy on the head--were both seized
(oh, woe the day!) by a terrible disease, and died in spite of all that
the great doctor from Boston did to cure them. The last time I entered
the dear old house was on a beautiful balmy summer morning; the birds
were singing as I have never heard them sing since, and all Nature
seemed as glad and exultant as if death, misfortune, and auctioneers
were banished from the world. I found there, in place of the late kind
host and hostess, a crowd--so they seemed to me--of rude and
coarse-minded people; and I saw the hateful red flag of the auctioneer
hanging over the door.

An eagle in a dove-cot, a fox in a barn-yard, a wolf among sheep, is
mild, merciful, and humane, when compared with the flock of human
vultures that had invaded this once happy residence, and were greedily
stripping it of all that the taste and the wealth of its late occupants
had furnished it with. Should I live to be a thousand years old, I do
not think I should forget the unladylike proceedings of sundry old women
at that auction. With what a free and contemptuous manner they examined
the fine old furniture, and handled the fine old china, and coolly
rummaged and ransacked every nook and corner, and peeped and pried into
every box, chest, and closet that was not locked! And their tongues, you
may be sure, were not idle the while!

The auctioneer was a little dried-up mummy of a man, the ugliness of
whose countenance was, as it were, emphasized by a disagreeable leer
which would ever and anon deepen into a broad grin; this man, with his
dreary jokes and vapid small-talk, was equally repulsive to me.

Oh, the tap of his little hammer did knock against my very heart!

Of all the hammers in this busy and hammering world, from the huge
forge-hammer with which the brawny blacksmith deals telling blows upon
the glowing iron and beats it into shape, to the tiny hammer that the
watchmaker so deftly handles, the ivory-headed, ebony-handled instrument
of the auctioneer is the most potent. From the day it was first upraised
by the original auctioneer--the nameless and unknown founder of a mighty
line of auctioneers--over the chattels of some unfortunate mortal, to
the present time, when the red flag is constantly waving in all the
great cities and towns of the world, what an immense amount of property
of all kinds and descriptions has come under that little instrument! At
its fall the ancestral acres of how many spendthrift heirs have passed
away from their families forever into the hands of wealthy plebeian
parvenus! By a few strokes Dives's splendid mansion, and Croesus's
magnificent country-seat, and Phaëton's famous fast horses become the
property of others. At its tap human beings have been sold into worse
than Egyptian bondage.

Horace Walpole confidently hoped that his famous collection of _virtù_
would be the envy and admiration of the relic-mongers and the
curiosity-seekers of two or three hundred years hence; but he had not
been dead fifty years before the red flag was waving over Strawberry
Hill, and it was not taken down till the villa had been despoiled of all
the curious and costly toys and bawbles with which it was packed and
crammed. At each stroke of the hammer,--and for four-and-twenty days the
quaint Gothic mansion resounded with the "Going, going, gone" of the
auctioneer,--at every stroke of the hammer Walpole must have turned
uneasily in his grave; for at every stroke of that fatal implement some
beautiful miniature, or rare engraving, or fine painting, or precious
old coin, or beloved old vase, or bit of curious old armor, or equally
curious relic of the olden time, passed into the possession of some
unknown person or other.

And the Duke of Roxburghe's magnificent collection of rare, curious, and
valuable books, in the gathering of which he spent a goodly portion of
his life, and evinced the policy and finesse of the most wily statesman
and the shrewdness and cunning of a Jew money-lender, was soon after his
decease scattered, by the hammer of Evans, over England and the
Continent. A circumstantial history of this memorable sale was written
by Dibdin the bibliomaniac.

I do not, however, grieve much--indeed, to state the precise truth, I do
not grieve at all--at the dismantling of Strawberry Hill, or at the sale
of the Roxburghe library; but at the vendition of Samuel Johnson's dusty
and dearly loved books (they were sold by Mr. Christie, "at his Great
Room in Pall-Mall," on Wednesday, February 16, 1785) I own to being a
trifle sad and sentimental. For Walpole, with all his cleverness, is a
man one cannot love; and as for the bibliographical Duke, he evidently
thought more of a rare edition or a unique copy than of all the charms
of wit, poetry, or eloquence. I suspect that a splendid binding would
please him more than a splendid passage. Whereas Johnson (he was never
without a book in his pocket to read at by-times when he had nothing
else to do) had a scholar's love for books, and liked them for what they
contained, and not merely because they were rare and costly.

Neither can I think unmoved of the dispersion "under the hammer" of the
fine library at Greta Hall, which Southey had taken so much pains and
pleasure in collecting, and which was, as his son has observed, the
pride of his eyes and the joy of his heart,--a library which contained
many a "monarch folio," and many a fine old quarto, and thousands of
small, but precious volumes of ancient lore, and which was particularly
rich in rare old Spanish and Portuguese books. Many of the old volumes
in this library had seen such hard service, and had been so roughly
handled by former owners, that they were in a very ragged condition when
they came into Southey's possession; and as he could not afford to have
them equipped in serviceable leather, his daughters and female friends
comfortably and neatly clothed them in colored cotton prints. The twelve
or fourteen hundred volumes thus bound filled an entire room, which the
poet designated as the "Cottonian Library." I saw, a year or two ago,
among the costly and valuable works upon the shelves of a Boston
bookstore, two or three volumes of this "Cottonian Library." They are
not there now. Perhaps the lucky purchaser of them may be a reader of
this article. If so, let me congratulate him upon possessing such rare
and interesting memorials of the famous and immortal biographer of
Doctor Daniel Dove of Doncaster.

And sure I am that no gentle reader can contemplate the fate of Charles
Lamb's library without becoming a prey to

    "Mild-eyed melancholy."

Elia's books,--his "midnight darlings," his "folios," his "huge
Switzer-like tomes of choice and massy divinity," his "kind-hearted
play-books," his book of "Songs and Posies," his rare old treatises, and
quaint and curious tractates,--the rich gleanings from the old London
book-stalls by one who knew a good book, as Falstaff knew the Prince, by
instinct,--books that had been the solace and delight of his life, the
inspirers and prompters of his best and noblest thoughts, the food of
his mind, and the nourishers of his fancies, ideas, and feelings,--these
books, with the exception of those retained by some of Elia's personal
friends, were, after Mary Lamb's death, purchased by an enterprising
New-York bookseller, and shipped to America, where Lamb has ever had
more readers and truer appreciators than in England. The arrival in New
York of his "shivering folios" created quite a sensation among the
Cisatlantic admirers of "the gentle Elia." The lovers of rare old books
and the lovers of Charles Lamb jostled each other in the way to Bartlett
and Welford's shop, where the treasures (having escaped the perils of
the sea) were safely housed, and where a crowd of _literati_ was
constantly engaged in examining them.

The sale was attended by a goodly company of book-collectors and
book-readers. All the works brought fair prices, and were purchased by
(or for) persons in various parts of the country. Among the bidders were
(I am told) Geoffrey Crayon,--Mr. Sparrowgrass,--Clark, of the
"Knickerbocker" magazine,--that lover of the angle and true disciple of
Izaak Walton, the late Rev. Dr. Bethune,--Burton, the comedian,--and
other well-known authors, actors, and divines. The black-letter
Chaucer--Speght's edition, folio, London, 1598,--the identical copy
spoken of by Elia in his letter to Ainsworth, the novelist--was knocked
down to Burton for twenty-five dollars. I know not who was the fortunate
purchaser of "The Works of Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of
Newcastle,"--an especial favorite of Lamb's. Neither do I know the name
of the buyer of "The Works of Michael Drayton." They brought
twenty-eight dollars. A number of volumes (one of them my correspondent
opines was "The Dunciad," _variorum_ edition) were bought by an
enthusiastic lover of Elia who came all the way from St. Louis on
purpose to attend this auction. The English nation should have purchased
Lamb's library. But instead of comfortably filling an alcove or two in
the British Museum, it crossed the Atlantic and was widely scattered
over the United States of America. Will it ever be brought together
again? Ah, me! such things do not happen in the annals of books.

'Tis no wonder that the old blind scholar, Bardo de' Bardi, in George
Eliot's grand story of "Romola," knowing as he did the usual fate of
private libraries, manifested a constant fear that his noble collection
of books would be merged in some other library after his death. Every
generous soul must heartily despise Tito Melema for basely disposing of
Bardo's library for lucre. There are plenty of good people, however, who
would uphold him in that transaction. Indeed, do not most of us with
unseemly haste and unnatural greed dispose of the effects of our
deceased friends and relations? The funeral is hardly over before we
begin to get ready for the auction. "I preserve," says Montaigne, "a bit
of writing, a seal, a prayer-book, a particular sword, that has been
used by my friends and predecessors, and have _not_ thrown the long
staves my father carried in his hand out of my closet." If the essayist
lived in these days, and followed the customs that now obtain, he would
send the sword and the staves, along with the other useless and (to him)
worthless tokens and remembrancers of the dead and gone Montaignes, to
the auction-room, and cheerfully pocket the money they brought.

Thackeray had been dead but a few weeks when a scene similar to the one
he has so truthfully described in the seventeenth chapter of "Vanity
Fair" occurred at his own late residence. The voice of "Mr. Hammerdown"
was heard in the house, and the rooms were filled with a motley crowd of
auction-haunters and relic-hunters, (among whom, of course, were Mr.
Davids and Mr. Moses,)--a rabble-rout of thoughtless and unfeeling men
and women, eager to get an "inside view" of the home of the great
satirist. The wine in his cellars,--the pictures upon his walls,--the
books in his library,--the old "cane-bottomed chair" in which he sat
while writing many of his best works, and which he has immortalized in a
fine ballad,--the gifts of kind friends, liberal publishers, and
admiring readers,--yea, his house itself, and the land it stands
on,--passed under the hammer of the auctioneer. O good white head, low
lying in the dust of Kensal Green! it matters little to thee now what
becomes of the red brick mansion built so lovingly in the style of Queen
Anne's time, and filled with such admirable taste from cellar to roof;
but many a pilgrim from these shores will step aside from the roar of
London and pay a tribute of remembrance to the house where lived and
died the author of "Henry Esmond" and "Vanity Fair."

       *       *       *       *       *


    When all the leaves were red or brown,
      Or golden as the summer sun,
      And now and then came flickering down
    Upon the grasses hoar and dun,
      Through which the first faint breath of frost
      Had as a scorching vapor run,
    I rode, in solemn fancies lost,
      To join my troop, whose low tents shone
      Far vanward to our camping host.
    Thus as I slowly journeyed on,
      I was made suddenly aware
      That I no longer rode alone.
    Whence came that strange, incongruous pair?
      Whether to make their presence plain
      To mortal eyes from earth or air
    The essence of these spirits twain
      Had clad itself in human guise,
      As in a robe, is question vain.
    I hardly dared to turn my eyes,
      So faint my heart beat; and my blood,
      Checked and bewildered with surprise,
    Within its aching channels stood,
      And all the soldier in my heart
      Scarce mustered common hardihood.
    But as I paused, with lips apart,
      Strong shame, as with a sturdy arm,
      Shook me, and made my spirit start,
    And all my stagnant life grew warm;
    Till, with my new-found courage wild,
      Out of my mouth there burst a storm
    Of song, as if I thus beguiled
      My way with careless melody:
      Whereat the silent figures smiled.
    Then from a haughty, asking eye
      I scanned the uninvited pair,
      And waited sternly for reply.
    One shape was more than mortal fair;
      He seemed embodied out of light;
      The sunbeams rippled through his hair;
    His cheeks were of the color bright
      That dyes young evening, and his eyes
      Glowed like twin planets, that to sight
    Increase in lustre and in size,
      The more intent and long our gaze.
      Full on the future's pain and prize,
    Half seen through hanging cloud and haze,
      His steady, far, and yearning look
      Blazed forth beneath his crown of bays.
    His radiant vesture, as it shook,
      Dripped with great drops of golden dew;
      And at each step his white steed took,
    The sparks beneath his hoof-prints flew,
      As if a half-cooled lava-flood
      He trod, each firm step breaking through.
    This figure seemed so wholly good,
      That as a moth which reels in light,
      Unknown till then, nor understood,
    My dazzled soul swam; and I might
      Have swooned, and in that presence died,
      From the mere splendor of the sight,
    Had not his lips, serene with pride
      And cold, cruel purpose, made me swerve
      From aught their fierce curl might deride.
    A clarion of a single curve
      Hung at his side by slender bands;
      And when he blew, with faintest nerve,
    Life burst throughout those lonely lands;
      Graves yawned to hear, Time stood aghast,
      The whole world rose and clapped its hands.
    Then on the other shape I cast
      My eyes. I know not how or why
      He held my spellbound vision fast.
    Instinctive terror bade me fly,
      But curious wonder checked my will.
      The mysteries of his awful eye,
    So dull, so deep, so dark, so chill,
      And the calm pity of his brow
      And massive features hard and still,
    Lovely, but threatening, and the bow
      Of his sad neck, as if he told
    Earth's graves and sorrows as they grow,
    Cast me in musings manifold
      Before his pale, unanswering face.
      A thousand winters might have rolled
    Above his head. I saw no trace
      Of youth or age, of time or change,
      Upon his fixed immortal grace.
    A smell of new-turned mould, a strange,
      Dank, earthen odor from him blew,
      Cold as the icy winds that range
    The moving hills which sailors view
      Floating around the Northern Pole,
      With horrors to the shivering crew.
    His garments, black as minèd coal,
      Cast midnight shadows on his way;
      And as his black steed softly stole,
    Cat-like and stealthy, jocund day
      Died out before him, and the grass,
      Then sear and tawny, turned to gray.
    The hardy flowers that will not pass
      For the shrewd autumn's chilling rain
      Closed their bright eyelids, and, alas!
    No summer opened them again.
      The strong trees shuddered at his touch,
      And shook their foliage to the plain.
    A sheaf of darts was in his clutch;
      And wheresoe'er he turned the head
      Of any dart, its power was such
    That Nature quailed with mortal dread,
      And crippling pain and foul disease
      For sorrowing leagues around him spread.
    Whene'er he cast o'er lands and seas
      That fatal shaft, there rose a groan;
      And borne along on every breeze
    Came up the church-bell's solemn tone,
      And cries that swept o'er open graves,
      And equal sobs from cot and throne.
    Against the winds she tasks and braves,
      The tall ship paused, the sailors sighed,
      And something white slid in the waves.
    One lamentation, far and wide,
      Followed behind that flying dart.
      Things soulless and immortal died,
    As if they filled the self-same part;
      The flower, the girl, the oak, the man,
      Made the same dust from pith or heart,
    Then spoke I, calmly as one can
      Who with his purpose curbs his fear,
      And thus to both my question ran:--
    "What two are ye who cross me here,
      Upon these desolated lands,
      Whose open fields lie waste and drear
    Beneath the tramplings of the bands
      Which two great armies send abroad,
      With swords and torches in their hands?"
    To which the bright one, as a god
      Who slowly speaks the words of fate,
      Towards his dark comrade gave a nod,
    And answered:--"I anticipate
      The thought that is your own reply.
      You know him, or the fear and hate
    Upon your pallid features lie.
      Therefore I need not call him Death:
      But answer, soldier, who am I?"
    Thereat, with all his gathered breath,
      He blew his clarion; and there came,
      From life above and life beneath,
    Pale forms of vapor and of flame,
      Dim likenesses of men who rose
      Above their fellows by a name.
    There curved the Roman's eagle-nose,
      The Greek's fair brows, the Persian's beard,
      The Punic plume, the Norman bows;
    There the Crusader's lance was reared;
      And there, in formal coat and vest,
      Stood modern chiefs; and one appeared,
    Whose arms were folded on his breast,
      And his round forehead bowed in thought,
      Who shone supreme above the rest.
    Again the bright one quickly caught
      His words up, as the martial line
      Before my eyes dissolved to nought:--
    "Soldier, these heroes all are mine;
      And I am Glory!" As a tomb
      That groans on opening, "Say, were thine,"
    Cried the dark figure. "I consume
      Thee and thy splendors utterly.
      More names have faded in my gloom
    Than chronicles or poesy
      Have kept alive for babbling earth
      To boast of in despite of me."
    The other cried, in scornful mirth,
      "Of all that was or is thou curse,
      Thou dost o'errate thy frightful worth!
    Between the cradle and the hearse,
      What one of mine has lived unknown,
      Whether through triumph or reverse?
    For them the regal jewels shone,
      For them the battled line was spread;
      Victorious or overthrown,
    My splendor on their path was shed.
      They lived their life, they ruled their day:
      I hold no commerce with the dead.
    Mistake me not, and falsely say,
    'Lo, this is slow, laborious Fame,
      Who cares for what has passed away,'--
    My twin-born brother, meek and tame,
      Who troops along with crippled Time,
      And shrinks at every cry of shame,
    And halts at every stain and crime;
      While I, through tears and blood and guilt,
      Stride on, remorseless and sublime.
    War with his offspring as thou wilt;
      Lay thy cold lips against their cheek.
      The poison or the dagger-hilt
    Is what my desperate children seek.
      Their dust is rubbish on the hills;
      Beyond the grave they would not speak.
    Shall man surround his days with ills,
      And live as if his only care
      Were how to die, while full life thrills
    His bounding blood? To plan and dare,
      To use life is life's proper end:
      Let death come when it will, and where!"--
    "You prattle on, as babes that spend
      Their morning half within the brink
      Of the bright heaven from which they wend;
    But what I am you dare not think.
      Thick, brooding shadow round me lies;
      You stare till terror makes you wink;
    I go not, though you shut your eyes.
      Unclose again the loathful lid,
      And lo, I sit beneath the skies,
    As Sphinx beside the pyramid!"
      So Death, with solemn rise and fall
      Of voice, his sombre mind undid.
    He paused; resuming,--"I am all;
      I am the refuge and the rest;
      The heart aches not beneath my pall.
    O soldier, thou art young, unpressed
      By snarling grief's increasing swarm;
      While joy is dancing in thy breast,
    Fly from the future's fated harm;
      Rush where the fronts of battle meet,
      And let me take thee on my arm!"
    Said Glory,--"Warrior, fear deceit,
      Where Death gives counsel. Run thy race;
      Bring the world cringing to thy feet!
    Surely no better time nor place
      Than this, where all the Nation calls
      For help, and weakness and disgrace
    Lag in her tents and council-halls,
      And down on aching heart and brain
      Blow after blow unbroken falls.
    Her strength flows out through every vein;
      Mere time consumes her to the core;
    Her stubborn pride becomes her bane.
    In vain she names her children o'er;
      They fail her in her hour of need;
      She mourns at desperation's door.
    Be thine the hand to do the deed,
      To seize the sword, to mount the throne,
      And wear the purple as thy meed!
    No heart shall grudge it; not a groan
      Shall shame thee. Ponder what it were
      To save a land thus twice thy own!"
    Use gave a more familiar air
      To my companions; and I spoke
      My heart out to the ethereal pair:--
    "When in her wrath the Nation broke
      Her easy rest of love and peace,
      I was the latest who awoke.
    I sighed at passion's mad increase.
      I strained the traitors to my heart.
      I said, 'We vex them; let us cease.'
    I would not play the common part.
      Tamely I heard the Southrons' brag:
      I said, 'Their wrongs have made them smart.'
    At length they struck our ancient flag,--
      Their flag as ours, the traitors damned!--
      And braved it with their patchwork-rag.
    I rose, when other men had calmed
      Their anger in the marching throng;
      I rose, as might a corpse embalmed,
    Who hears God's mandate, 'Right my wrong!'
      I rose and set me to His deed,
      With His great Spirit fixed and strong.
    I swear, that, when I drew this sword,
      And joined the ranks, and sought the strife,
      I drew it in Thy name, O Lord!
    I drew against my brother's life,
      Even as Abraham on his child
      Drew slowly forth his priestly knife.
    No thought of selfish ends defiled
      The holy fire that burned in me;
      No gnawing care was thus beguiled.
    My children clustered at my knee;
      Upon my braided soldier's coat
      My wife looked,--ah, so wearily!--
    It made her tender blue eyes float.
      And when my wheeling rowels rang,
      Or on the floor my sabre smote,
    The sound went through her like a pang.
      I saw this; and the days to come
      Forewarned me with an iron clang,
    That drowned the music of the drum,
      That made the rousing bugle faint;
      And yet I sternly left my home,--
    Haply to fall by noisome taint
      Of foul disease, without a deed
      To sound in rhyme or shine in paint;
    But, oh, at least, to drop a seed,
      Humble, but faithful to the last,
      Sown by my Country in her need!
    O Death, come to me, slow or fast;
      I'll do my duty while I may!
      Though sorrow burdens every blast,
    And want and hardship on me lay
      Their bony gripes, my life is pledged,
      And to my Country given away!
    Nor feel I any hope, new-fledged,
      Arise, strong Glory, at thy voice.
      Our sword the people's will has edged,
    Our rule stands on the people's choice.
      This land would mourn beneath a crown,
      Where born slaves only could rejoice.
    How should the Nation keep it down?
      What would a despot's fortunes be,
      After his days of strength had flown,
    Amidst this people, proud and free,
      Whose histories from such sources run?
      The thought is its own mockery.
    I pity the audacious one
      Who may ascend that thorny throne,
      And bide a single setting sun.
    Day dies; my shadow's length has grown;
      The sun is sliding down the west.
      That trumpet in my camp was blown.
    From yonder high and wooded crest
      I shall behold my squadron's camp,
      Prepared to sleep its guarded rest
    In the low, misty, poisoned damp
      That wears the strength, and saps the heart,
      And drains the surgeon's watching lamp.
    Hence, phantoms! in God's peace depart!
      I was not fashioned for your will:
      I scorn the trump, and brave the dart!"
    They grinned defiance, lingering still.
      "I charge ye quit me, in His name
      Who bore His cross against the hill!--
    By Him who died a death of shame,
      That I might live, and ye might die,--
      By Christ the Martyr!"--As a flame
    Leaps sideways when the wind is high,
      The bright one bounded from my side,
      At that dread name, without reply;
    And Death drew in his mantle wide,
      And shuddered, and grew ghastly pale,
      As if his dart had pricked his side.
    There came a breath, a lonely wail,
    Out of the silence o'er the land;
      Whether from souls of bliss or bale,
    What mortal brain may understand?
      Only I marked the phantoms went
      Closely together, hand in hand,
    As if upon one errand bent.

       *       *       *       *       *


A white dove flew down into the market-place one summer morning, and,
undisturbed among all the wheels and hoofs, followed the footsteps of

He carried in one hand a sunflower, and thoughtlessly, while it hung
there, with nervous fingers scattered the seeds as he went his way. So
that the dove cooed in her little swelling throat, gathered what Luigi
spilled, and, startled at last by a frisking hound, flew up and alighted
on the tray which Luigi's other hand poised airily on his head, and was
borne along with all the company of fair white things there in the

The street-urchins warned Luigi of the intruder among his wares, and
then, slyly putting up his hand, the boy tossed the seeds in a shower
about the tray. Off flew the dove, and back with the returning gust she
fluttered, and, pausing only to catch her seed, she came and went,
wheeling in flashing circles round his head as he pursued his path.

It was at the pretty picture he thus presented, as, having left the
market-place, he came upon the higher streets of the town, that a lady,
looking from her window, made exclaim. The kind face, the pleasant
voice, attracted him; in a moment after, while she was yet thinking of
it, the door was pushed partly open, a dark boy, smiling, appeared,
followed by the unslung tray, and a voice like a flute said,--

"_Sono io_,--it is I. Will the lady buy?"

And then the image-vender showed his wares.

The lady chaffered with him a moment, and at its close he was evidently
paying no attention to what she said, but was listening to a voice from
the adjoining room, the clear voice of a girl singing her Italian

His face was in a glow, he bent to catch the words with signalling
finger and glittering eyes; it was plainly neither the deftly sweet
accompaniment nor the melody that charmed him, but the language: the
language was his own.

With the cadence of the measure the sound was broken capriciously, the
book had been thrown down, and the singer herself stood balancing in the
doorway between the rooms, a hand on either side,--still lightly
trilling her scales, smiling, beaming, blue-eyed, rosy. The sunbeam that
entered behind the shade swinging in the wind fell upon the beautiful
masses of her light-brown hair, and illumined all the shifting color
that played with such delicate suffusion upon her cheek and chin; her
face was a deep, innocent smile of joy; she would have been dazzling but
for the blushes that seemed to go and come with her breath and make her
human; and so much did she embody one's ideal of the first woman that no
one wondered when all called her Eve, although her name was Rosamond,
and she was the Rose of the World.

Directly Eve saw the boy kneeling there over his tray, the cast
suspended in his hand, as he leaned intently forward with the rich
carmine deepening the golden tint of his brow and with that yellow fire
in his wine-dark eyes, she ceased singing, and, not hesitating to mimic
the well-known call, cried,--


Then Luigi remembered where he was, and answered the question asked five
minutes since.

"Signora, seven shillings."

"That is reasonable, now," said the lady. "I will have it for that sum.
Do you cast these things yourself?"

"My master and I."

"Have you been long here?"

"Alas! much, much time," said he, with melancholy earnestness.

"And from what part of Italy did you come?" she kindly asked.

"_Vengo da Roma_" replied the boy, drawing himself up proudly.

"The Roman peasant is a prince, mamma," said Eve quickly, in an

Luigi glanced up instantly and smiled, and offered to her a little
plaster cherub, silver-gilt, just spreading wings for flight.

"It is for her," said he, with an appealing look at the mother. "For
her,--_la principessina_. I myself made it."

No one perceived his adroit under-meaning; but Eva bethought herself of
her school-phrases, and venturously selected one.

"_È grazioso_!" said she.

Luigi's face kindled anew; it seemed as if the sound of his native
tongue were like some magic wand that called the blind blood to his
cheek or drove it into the pools of his heart; the smile broke all over
his face as light dances on burnished gold; he turned to her boldly with
outstretched hands, like some one asking an alms.

"Give to me a song," he said.

"_Volontieri_" quoth Eve, in hesitating accent, and flitted back to her
piano. Without a thought, he followed.

It was a little song of flowers and sunshine that Eve began to carol
over the carolling keys; the words fell into the sweetness of the air,
that seemed laden with the morning murmur of bees and blossoms; it was
but a verse or two, with a refrain that went repeating all the honeyed
burden, till Luigi's face fairly burned with pleasure, where he stood at
timid distance in the doorway.

"_Ciò mi fa bene!_ That does me good!" cried he, as she rose. "Ah,
Signorina, I am happy here!"

Then he turned and found the elder lady counting out his money. He
received the seven shillings quietly, as his due; but when she would
have paid him for the cherub, he pushed the silver swiftly back.

"It is a gift!" said he, with spirit.

"No, no," said Eve. "I should like it, but I must pay for it. You will
be so kind as to take the price?" she asked, her hand extended, and a
winning grace irradiating all her changing rosy countenance.

A shadow fell over the boy's face, like that of a cloud skimming down a
sunny landscape.

"_A Lei non posso dar un rifiuto_," said he, meeting her shining eyes;
and he gravely gathered the money and slung his tray.

As he raised it, Eve laid along its side a branch of unsullied
day-lilies that had been filling the room with their heavy fragrance.
The image-boy interested her; he was a visible creature of those foreign
fairy-shores of which she had dreamed; that she did anything but show
kindness to a vagrant whom she would not see again never crossed her
mind; perhaps, too, she liked that Italy, in his person, should admire
her,--that was pardonable. But, at the action, the shadow swept away
from the boy's face again, all his lights and darks came flashing out,
eyes and teeth and color sparkling in his smile, like sunshine after
rain; he made his low obeisance, poised the tray upon his head, and,
with a wave of his hand, went out.

"_A rivederla_!" he called back to her from the door, and was gone.

And soon far down the street they heard his musical cry again; and
perhaps the little distant dove, who had forsaken him on entrance, also
caught the sound, and was reminded by it, as he pecked along the dusty
thoroughfare, of some remote and pleasant memory of morning and the

       *       *       *       *       *

It was a week afterward, that, as Eve and her mother loitered over
luncheon, the door again softly opened, and they saw Luigi standing
erect on the threshold, and holding with both hands above the brightly
bronzed face a tall, slender, white jar of ancient and exquisite shape,
carefully painted, and having a glass suspended within, lest any water
it might receive should penetrate the porous plaster.

He did not look at Eve, but marched to her mother, and deposited it upon
the floor at her feet.

"For the Signora's lilies," said he.

And remembering the silver pieces of the week before, and fearing lest
she should really grieve him, the Signora perforce accepted it with
admiring words; while Eve ran to fill it from the garden, into which
abode of bliss--as gardens always are--the long casement of the
music-room opened. Luigi hesitated, his hand upon the door, wistful
wishes in his face; then he cast a smiling, deprecating glance at the
mother, lightly crossed the floor, was over the sill, and stood beside
Eve in the walk.

To right and left the long, straight stems rose in rank, and bore their
floral crown of listening lilies, calm, majestic, pure, and only
stirring now and then when the wind shook a waft of gold-dust down the
shining leaf, or rifled the inmost heart of its delicious wealth of
odor; on either side of the path the snowy bloom lay like a fallen

"It is a company of angels," said Luigi, brokenly, "a cloud of seraphs
with their gold harps! If they should sing," hazarded he, "it would be
the song the Signorina gave me,--alas, it is long since!"

"It is a week," said she, laughing and lingering.

"Eve!" came a warning voice.

"That is the Signorina's name?" questioned Luigi, as he bent to help her
cut the stems.

"Eve,--yes, they call me so."

"Certainly I had not thought it," he repeated to himself.

"Why, what did you suppose it was?" she heedlessly asked.

"_Luigia!_" said he. And his low, rapt tone was indescribably simple,
sweet, and intense.

Eve did not know what the boy himself was called.

"I wish it were," said she. "That is a pleasant sound."

And rising with her armful, she went in and heaped the jar with honor,
while Luigi, pleased and proud, lifted it to the level of the
black-walnut bracket.

"Signora, behold what is beautiful!" said he, stepping back.

The Signora looked at the lilies, but Luigi looked at Eve.

They had lunched. Eve went into the other room to her exercises. Her
mother poured out a glass of wine for the unbidden guest. He repulsed it
with an angry eye and a disdainful gesture. But then there rose the
sound of Eve's voice just beyond;--while he stayed, he could listen.
With sudden change from frown to smile, he stepped forward and took the

"To the Signora's health," said he, with a courtesy that sat well on the
supple shape and the dark beauty of the boy, whose homely garb, whose
poverty, and whose profession seemed only the disguise of some young
prince,--and sipped the wine, and broke the fine, white bread, while his
cheek was scarlet with delight at recurrence of the familiar sounds,
even though in such simple phrase.

"That is a proud boy," said Eve's mother, when he had gone, and she
paused a moment to see how Eve went on. "He urges no one."

"Italy is full of its troubles, _mia madre_. He is the exile of a noble
family,--no other beggar would be so haughty," looked up and answered
Eve, laughing between her bars. "Mamma, what different beings different
meridians make!" she exclaimed, dropping her music. "Is he so sweet and
lofty and fiery because he has lived in the shadow of old
temples,--because, if he stumbled over a pebble in the street, it was
the marble fragment of a goddess,--because the clay of which he is made
has so many times been moulded into heroes?"

"Are there no further fancies with which you can invest an

"But he is unique. Did you ever see any one like him? Daily beauty has
made him beautiful. Is that what the Doctor means, when he says a
Corinthian pillar in the market-place would educate a generation better
than a pulpit would?"

"They have both in Rome," said her mother, with meaning.

"And, in spite of them, perhaps our hero cannot spell! Yet he is more
accomplished than we, mamma. He speaks Italian beautifully," said she,
with _espièglerie_.

"But hardly Tuscan."

"Silver speech for all that. I have reached the end of my idioms,
though. I always said school was good for something, if one could only
find it out," she archly cried, her little fingers running in arpeggios
up the keys. "To think he understood them so! Then Dante's women would."

"Heaven forbid!"

"How his face glows at them,--like a light behind a mask! It is quite
the opera, when he comes. I will sing to him an aria, and then it will
make a scene."

"You are a madcap. What do you want a scene for?"

"Spice. When my voice fills his handsome eyes with tears, he makes me an
artist; when he turns upon you in that sudden, ardent air, he brings a
sting of foreign fire into this quiet summer noon."

"Amuse yourself sparingly with other people's emotions, Eve."

"Especially when they are suave as olive-oil, pungent as cherry-cordial,
and ready to blaze with a spark, you know. Ah, it is all as interesting
to me as when the little sweep last year looked out from the chimney-top
and made the whole sky brim over with his wild music."

Here a clock chimed silverly from below.

"There is the half-hour striking, and you have lost all this time," said
the caressing mother, her fingers lost in the bright locks she lifted.

"Never mind, mother mine," said she, turning in elfish mood to brush her
lips across the frustrated fingers. "Art is long, if time is fleeting,"
she sang to the measure of her _Non più mesta_, beginning again to
shower its diamonds about till all the air seemed bright with her young
and sparkling voice.

       *       *       *       *       *

Summer days are never too long for the fortunes of health and happiness,
and at the sunset following this same morning Eve leaned from the
casement, watching the retiring rays as if she fain would pursue. A
tender after-glow impurpled all the heaven like a remembered passion,
and bathed field and fallow in its bloom. It gave to her a kind of
aureole, as if her beauty shed a lustre round her. The window where she
leaned was separated from the street only by a narrow inclosure, where
grew a single sumach, whose stem went straight and bare to the eaves,
and there branched out, like the picture of a palm-tree, in tossing
plumes. Blossoming honeysuckles wreathed this stem and sweetened every

A figure came sauntering down the street, an upright and pliant form,
laden with green boughs. It was Luigi, with whom it had been a holiday,
and who, roaming in the woods, had come across a wild stock on whose
rude flavor the kindly freak of some wayfarer had grafted that of pulpy
wax-heart cherries, tart ruddiness and sugared snow. Pausing before Eve,
he gazed at her lingeringly, then sprang half-way up the adjacent
door-steps, and proffered her his fragrant freight. Eve deliberated for
a moment, but the fruit was tempting, the act would be kind. As he stood
there, he wore a certain humility, and yet a certain assurance,--the
lover's complicate timidity, that seems to say he will defend her
against all the world, for there is nothing in the world he fears except
herself. Eve bent and broke a little spray of the nearest branch.

"They are all for you," pleaded he,--"all."

"I have enough," said Eve.

"I brought them for the Signorina from the wood. Behold! the tints are
hers. The cream upon Madonna's shoulder,--here; the soft red flame upon
her cheek is there."

"Ah! I thank you," said Eve. "Good night."

"_Scusi_,--I beg that the Signorina take them."

"No, no," answered Eve, obliged to speak, and, hanging on her foot, half
turned away, a moment before flight; "why should I rob you so?"

"It is not take,--but give! Why? Only that to me you are so kind. _O
quanta bontà_! You speak the speech I love. You sing its songs. I was a
wanderer. _Io era solo_. Alone and sad. But since I heard your voice, I
am at home again, and life is sweet!"

And suddenly and dexterously he flung the boughs past her in at the open
window, laughed at his success till the teeth flashed again in his dusky
face, kissed both his hands and ran down the steps, singing in a ringing
recitative something where the _bella bellas_ echoed and reëchoed each
other through the evening as far as they could be heard at all.

Eve smiled to herself, gathered up the scattered boughs, and went into
the lighted room behind, where her gay companions clustered, appearing
at the door thus laden, and with a blush upon her brow.

"Mamma," said she, her lovely head bent on one side and ringed with
gloss beneath the burner, "the fruit is fresh, whether you call it
cherry or _ciriegia_." And straightway planting herself at her mother's
feet, taper fingers twinkled among shadowy leaves till the boughs were
bare of their juicy burden, and they all made merry together upon the
spoils of Luigi.

       *       *       *       *       *

July was following June in sunshine down the slope of the year, and Eve,
pursuing her pleasures, might almost have forgotten that an image-boy
existed, had Luigi allowed her to forget. But he was omnipresent as a

As she walked from church on the next Sunday afternoon alone, gazing at
her shadow by the way, she started to see another shadow fall beside it.
In spite of his festal midsummer attire of white linen, a sidelong
glance assured her that it was Luigi; yet she did not raise her eyes. He
continued by her, in silence, several steps.

"Signorina Eve," said he then, "I went that I might worship with you."

But Eve had no reply.

"My prayer mounted with yours,--may he forgive, _il padre mio_," said
Luigi. "_Ebbene!_ It is not lovely there. It is cold. Your heaven would
be a dreary place, perhaps. Come rather to mine!" For they approached a
little chapel, the crystallization in stone of a devout fancy, and
through the open doors rolling organ, purple incense, and softened light
invited entrance. "It is the holy vespers," said the boy. "_Ciascuno
alia sua volta._ The Signorina enters,--_forse?_"

"Not to-day," answered Eve, gently.

"Kneel we not," then faltered he, "before one shrine,--although," and he
grew angry with his hesitation, "at different gates?"

"Ah, certainly," said Eve. "But now I must go home."

"The Signorina refuses to come with me, then!" he exclaimed, springing
forward so that he opposed her progress. "Her foot is too holy! she
herself has said it. Her eyes are too lofty,--_gli occhi azzurri!_! It
is true; stood she there, who would look at the blessed saints? Ah! you
have a fair face, but it is--_traditrice_!"

And as he confronted her, with his clenched hands slightly raised and
advanced from his side, the lithe figure drawn back, the swarthy cheek,
the eager eyes, aglow, and made more vivid by his spotless attire, Eve
bethought herself that a scene in public had fewer charms than one in
private, and, casting about for escape, quietly stepped across the
street. For an instant Luigi gazed after her like one thunderstruck;
then he dashed into the vestibule and was lost in its shadows.

It was at midnight that Eve's mother, rising to close an open window,
caught sight of an outline in the obscurity, and discerned Luigi leaning
on the railing below, with one arm supporting his upturned face. "Ah,
the sad day! the sad day!" he was sighing in his native speech. "Pardon,
pardon, Signorina! Alas! I was beside myself!"

And on the next twilight Eve stood at the gate, her arms and hands full
of a flush of rosy wild azaleas from the swamps, bounty that had been
silently laid upon her by a fast and fleeting shadow. She doubted for a
moment, then dropped them where she stood. But a tint as deep as theirs
was broken by the arch and dimpling smile that flickered round her mouth
as she went in, laughing because this devotion was so strange, and
blushing because it was so genuine. "Mamma," said she, her eyes cast
down, her head askant like a shy bird's, "I am afraid I have a lover!"
And then to think of it the child grew sad. It pained her to grieve him
with the beautiful pink blossoms she had dropped, and which she knew he
would return to find; but better trivial sting than lasting ache, she
had heard. And perhaps in his tropical nature the passion would be brief
as the pain.

       *       *       *       *       *

The broad, bright river flowing past the town by summer noon or night
was never left unflecked with sails. And of all who loved its swinging
bridge, its stately shores, its breezy expanses, none sought them more
frequently than Eve.

She had gone out one day with her companions--who, beside her, seemed
like the moss that clusters on a rose-bud--to watch the shoal in the
weir as the treacherous ebb forsook it. It was a favorite diversion of
Eve's,--for she always felt as if she were Scheherazade looking into the
pools of her fancy, and viewing the submerged city with its princes and
its populace transformed to fish, when, having entered the heart-shaped
inclosure, she leaned over the boat-side and noted the twin tides of
life whose facile and luminous career followed all the outline of the
weir. For the mackerel, swimming in at the two eddies of the mouth,
struck straight across in transverse courses till they met the barrier
on either side, and then each slowly felt the way along to the end of
the lobe, where, instead of escaping, they struck freely across again,
and thus pursued their round in everlasting interchase of
lustre,--through the darkly transparent surface each current glancing on
its swift and silent way, an arrow of emerald and silver. Curving,
racing, rippling with tints, they circled, till, warned by some subtile
instinct that the river was betraying them, fresh fear swept faster and
faster their lines of light, the rich dyes deepened in the splendid
scales, and some huddled into herds, and some, more frantic than the
rest, leaped from the water in shining streaks, and darted away like
stars into outer safety. There the sail-boat already had preceded them,
and the master of the weir, having taken its place, from the dip-net was
loading his dory with massive fare of frosted silver and fusing jewel.
As Eve and her friends lingered yet a moment there, watching the
picturesque figure splashing barelegged in the shallow water, one of the
droll little craft known as Joppa-chaises came up beside them, a fulvous
face appeared at its helm, a tawny hand was extended, and they left
Luigi bargaining for fish, and stringing these simulations of massed
turquoise and scale-ruby at a penny apiece.

What little wind there was that day blew from the southeast, and
sheathed the brightness of the noonday sky in a soft veil of haze; and
having made this pretty sight their own, Eve's party spread their sail
for tacking to and fro, meaning to reach the sea. This, for some hidden
reason, the wind refused to let them do, and when it found them
obstinate brought an accomplice upon the scene, and they suddenly
surprised themselves rocking this side the bar, and caught in the vapory
fringes of a dark sea-turn, that, creeping round about, had soon so
wrapped and folded them that they could scarcely see the pennon drooping
at their mast-head. This done, the wind fell altogether, and they lay
there a part of the great bank of mist that all day brooded above the
bar. Everywhere around them the gray cloud hung and curled and curdled;
it was impossible to see an oar's-length on either side; their very
faces were unfamiliar, and seemed to be looking like the faces of
spirits from a different atmosphere; their little boat was the whole
world, and beyond it was only void. Now and then an idle puff parted the
bank to right and left, their sail flapped impatiently, and in the
sudden space they saw the barge that dashed along with the great white
seine-boat heaped high with nets towering in its midst, the oars of the
six red-shirted rowers flashing in the sun as it cut the channel and
rushed by to join the fishing-fleet outside,--or they caught a glimpse
of some little gunning-float, covered with wisps of hay and carrying its
single occupant couched _perdu_ along its length,--or, while they
lunched and trifled and jested, Eve with her crumbs tolled about them
the dwellers in the depths, and in the falling flake of sunshine laughed
to see a stately aldermanic flounder, that came paddling after a
chicken-bone, put to rout by a satanic sculpin, whereat an eel swiftly
snaked the prize away, and the frost-fish, collecting at a chance of
civil war, mingled in the _mêlée_, tooth and nail, or rather fin and
tail. Then the vapors would darken round them again, till, with the
stray rays caught and refracted in their fleece, it seemed like living
in an opal full of cloudy color and fire. Far off they heard the great
ground-swell of the surf upon the beach, or there came the dull report
of the sportsmen in the marsh, or they exchanged first a laugh and then
a yawn with some other unseen party becalmed in the fog and drifting
with the currents; and all day long, on this side and on that, the cloud
rang with near and distant music, as if Ariel and his sprites had lost
their way in it, the tinkling of a mandolin, the singing of a clear,
rich voice that had the tenor's golden strain, and yet, in floating
through the mist, was sweet and sighing as a flute. The melody and the
undistinguished words it bore upon its wings, delicious tune and
passionate meaning, seemed the speech of another planet, an orb of song,
the delicate sound lost when at sunset the threaded mist broke up and
streamed away in fire, but coming again, as if they were haunted by the
viewless voices of the air, when star-beam and haze tangled together at
last in the dusk of summer night and found them still rocking on the
swell, vainly whistling for the wind, and slowly tiding up with the

It was one of those days so long in the experience, but so charming to
remember. Eve, with her wilful, fearless ways, her quips and joyousness,
had been the life and the delight of it; now, chilled and weary, she
hailed the sight of the lamps that seemed to be hung out along the shore
to light them home: for their boatmen were inexperienced, and, though
wind failed them, had not dared before to lift the oars, ignorant as
they were of their precise whereabouts, and even now made no progress
like that of the unseen voice still hovering around them. There had been
a season of low tides, and when, to save the weary work of rowing a
heavy sail-boat farther, it was decided to make the shore, they were
hindered by a length of shallow water and weedy flat, through which the
ladies of the party must consent to be carried. A late weird moon was
rising down behind the light-houses, all red and angry in the mist still
brooding over the horizon, the boat lay in the deep shade it cast, the
river beyond was breaking into light, reach after reach, like a blossom
into bloom. Two of her friends had already been taken to the bank; Eve
stood in the bow, awaiting her bearers, and watching the distant bays of
the stream, each one of which seemed just on the verge of opening into
an impossible midnight glory. She heard the plash of feet in the water,
but did not heed it other than to fold her cloak more conveniently about
her, her eye caught the contour of a vague approaching form, and then
shadowy arms were reaching up to encircle her. She was bending, and just
yielding herself to the clasp, when the hearty voice of her bearers
sounded at hand, bidding her be of good cheer; the adumbration shrank
back into the gloom, and, before she recovered from her start, firm arms
had borne her to firm land.

"Well, Eve," said one of her awaiting friends, "is the earth going up
and down with you? As for me, my head swims like a buoy. I feel as if I
had waltzed all day."

"Nympholeptic, then," said Eve,--

          "'When you do dance, I wish you
    A wave of the sea, that you might ever do
    Nothing but that.'"

"I thought they threw out the anchor down there," said the other. "Are
they tying her up for the night, too? How long it takes them! Oh, for an
inquisition and a rack,--I am so cramped! Eve, here, is extinguished.
What a day it has been!"

    "'Oh, sweet the flight, at dead of night,
    When up the immeasurable height
    The thin cloud wanders with the breeze
    That shakes the splendor from the star,
    That stoops and crisps the darkling seas,
    And drives the daring keel afar
    Where loneliness and silence are!
    To cleave the crested wave, and mark
    Drowned in its depth the shattered spark,
    On airy swells to soar, and rise
    Where nothing but the foam-bell flies,
    O'er freest tracts of wild delight,
    Oh, sweet the flight at dead of night!'"

sang Eve. "Ah, there they are! I am so tired that I could fall asleep
here, if there were but a reed to lean against!"

"_Appoggiatevi a me_" sighed a murmurous voice in her ear, with musical

A little shiver ran over Eve, but no soul saw it; in an instant she knew
the sound that had all day haunted the sea-turn; yet she could neither
smile nor be angry at Luigi's simplicity; with a peremptory motion of
her hand, she only waved him away, and fortified herself among her
companions, who, thoroughly awakened, made the night ring as they wended
along. They rallied Eve, then grew vexed that she refused the sport, and
kept silence awhile, only to break it with gayer laughter, elate with
life while half the world was stretched in white repose. At length they
paused to rest in the lee of a cottage that seemed more like a hulk
drawn up on shore than any house, but matted from ground to chimney in a
smother of woodbine.

"A picturesque place," said one of the chevaliers.

"And a picturesque body lives in it," replied another. "The beauty of
the fisher-maidens. I have seen her out upon the flats at low tide
digging for clams, barefooted, the short petticoats fluttering, a
handkerchief across her ears,--and outline could do no more."

"I have seen her, too," said Eve. "Though she lives in the belt of
sunburn, she is white as snow,--milk-white, with hazel eyes. She has
hair like Sordello's Elys. She is a girl that dreams. Let us serenade
her till she sees visions."

And Eve's voice went warbling lightly up, till the others joined, as if
the oriole in his hanging nest not far away had stirred to sing out the
seasons of the dark.

    "The hours that bear thy beauty prize
      Star after star sinks numbering,--
    The laden wind at thy lattice sighs
      To find thee slumbering, slumbering!

    "Ah, wantonly why waste these hours
      That love would fain be borrowing?
    Soon youth and joy must fall like flowers,
      And leave thee sorrowing, sorrowing!

    "Ye fleeting hours, ye sacred skies,
      Sweet airs around her hovering,
    Oh, open me the envied eyes
      Your spells are covering, covering!

    "Or only, while the dew's soft showers
      Shake slowly into glistening,
    Let her, O magic midnight hours,
      In dreams be listening, listening!"

And their voices blended so together as they sang, and the plunge of the
sea came on the east-wind in such chiming chord, that they never heeded
the old mandolin whose strings in humble remoteness Luigi struck to
their tune. But mingling the sound of the sea and the sound of the
strings in her memory, it seemed to Eve that Luigi was fast becoming the
undertone of her life.

       *       *       *       *       *

But Luigi was not to be abashed. Faint heart never won fair lady, he
said to himself, in some answering apophthegm. And thereat he summoned
his reserves.

At noon of the next day, Eve, having run down-stairs into the room where
her mother sat, stood before her during the inspection of the attire she
had proposed as possible for an approaching masquerade some weeks hence.
She wore a white robe of classic make, and over its trailing folds her
bright hair, all unbound from the heavy braids, streamed in a thousand
ripples of scattered lustre, the brown breaking into gold, the gloss
lurking in tremulous jacinth shadows, tresses like a cascade of ravelled
light falling to her feet, shrouding her in a long and luminous
veil,--such "sweet shaken hair" as was never seen since Spenser and
Ariosto put their heads together.

"_Come sta_?" said some one in the doorway. And there stood Luigi,
having deposited his tray of images on the steps, holding up a long
string of birds'-eggs blown, tiny varicolored globes plundered from the
thrushes, bobolinks, blue-jays, and cedar-birds, and trembling upon the
thread as if their concrete melody quivered to open into tune.

For an indignant instant Eve felt her seclusion unwarrantably violated;
she turned upon the invader with her blushes, and the venturesome Luigi
blenched before the gaze. Still, though he retreated, a part of him
remained: a slender brown hand, that stretched back in relief against
the white door-post, yet suspended the pretty rosary; and there it
caught Eve's eye.

Now it was Euterpe that Eve was to represent at the masquerade; and what
ornament so fit and fanciful as this amulet of spring-time, whose charm
commanded all that hour of freshness, fragrance, and dew, when the
burdened heart of the dawn bubbles over with music? Yet the enticement
was brief. Eve looked and longed, and then hurriedly turned her back
upon the tempting treasure, her two hands thrusting it off. "Behind me,
Satan!" cried she, tossing a laugh at her mother; and Paula, the stately
servant who had followed her down, signified to Luigi that the door
awaited his movements.

Then the hand quietly withdrew, and his footstep was heard upon the
threshold. It was arrested by a sound: Eve stood in the doorway,
gathering her locks in one hand, and blushing and smiling upon him like
sunshine, whether she would or no.

"You are very kind," said she, hesitating, and fluttering out the broad,
snowy love-ribbon that was to ornament her lute, "but, if you

"Indeed, the Signorina cares not for such bawbles," said Luigi, sadly,
covering her with his gaze. Then he turned, mounted his tray again, and
went slowly down the street, forgetting to cry his wares.

Perhaps, after this, Luigi felt that his situation was desperate;
perhaps despair made him bold,--for, having already spoiled Eve's
pleasure for the day, that same evening found him in her mother's
garden, half hidden in the grape-vines, and watching the movements in
the lighted room opposite, through the long window, whose curtain was
seldom dropped.

It was a gay old town in those days, kind to its lads and lasses, and if
the streets were grass-grown, it seemed only that so they might give
softer footing to the young feet that trod them. Almost every night
there was a festival at one house or another, and this evening the
rendezvous was with Eve. The guests gathered and dallied, the dancers
floated round the room, the lovers uttered their weighty trifles in such
seclusion or shadow as they could secure, the voices melted in happy
unison. Eve, with snowy shoulders and faultless arms escaping from the
ruffle of her rosy gauzes, where skirt over skirt, like clinging petals,
made her seem the dryad of a wild rose-tree just rising and looking from
her blushing cup, Eve flitted to and fro among them, and, all the time,
Luigi's gaze brooded over the scene. Sometimes her shadow fell in the
lighted space of turf, and then Luigi went and laid his cheek upon it;
it passed, and he returned once more to his hiding-place, and the dark,
motionless countenance, with its wandering, glittering eyes, appeared to
hang upon the dense leafage that sheltered all the rest of him like a
vizard in whose cavities glowworms had gathered. And more than once, in
passing, Eve delayed a moment, and almost caught that gaze; she was
sensible of his presence there, felt it, as she might have felt an
apparition, as if the eyes were those of a basilisk and she were
fascinated to look and look again, till filled with a strange fear and
unrest. It grew late; by-and-by, before they separated, Eve sang. It
would have been impossible for her to say why she chose a luscious
little Italian air, one that many a time at home, perhaps, Luigi had
heard some midnight lover sing. Through it, as he listened now, he could
fancy the fountain's fall, the rustle of the bough, the half-checked
gurgle of the nightingale, upon the scented waft almost the slow
down-floating of the scattered corolla of the full-blown flower. The
tears sparkled over his face, first of delight, and then of anger.
Something was wanting in the song,--he missed the passionate utterance
of the lover standing by the gate and pouring his soul in his singing.

Suddenly the room was startled by the ring of a voice from the garden, a
voice that outbroke sweet and strong, that snatched the measure from
Eve's lips, flung a fervor into its flow, a depth into its burden, and
carried it on with impetuous fire, lingering with tenderness here, swift
with ardor there, till all hearts bounded in quicker palpitation when
the air again was still. For deep feeling has a potency of its own, and
all that careless group felt as if some deific cloud had passed by.

As for Eve, what coquetry there was in her nature was but the innocent
coruscation of happy spirits, the desire to see her power, the necessity
of being dear to all she touched. Far from pleasant was this vehemence
of devotion; the approach of it oppressed her; she comprehended Luigi as
a creature of another species, another race, than herself; she shrank
before him now with a kind of horror. That night in a nervous excitation
she did not close an eye, and in the morning she was wan as a flower
after rain.

This state of things found at least one observer, a personage of no less
authority in household matters than Paula, the tall and stately woman of
Nubian lineage who had been the nurse of Eve, and who every morning now
stood behind her chair at breakfast, familiarly joining in and gathering
what she chose of the conversation. Erect as a palm-tree, slender,
queenly, with her thin and clearly cut features, and her head like that
of some Circassian carved in black marble, she had a kinship of
picturesqueness with Luigi, and could meet him more nearly on his own
ground than another, for her voice was as sweet as his, and he was only
less dark than she. Breakfast over, she took her way into the garden,
set open the gate, and busied herself pinching the fresh shoots of the
grape-vine, too luxuriant in leaves. She did not wait long before Luigi
came up the side-street, his tray upon his head, his gait less elastic
than beseemed the fresh, fragrant morning. Paula stepped forward and
gave him pause, with a gesture.

"Sir!" said she, commandingly.

Luigi looked up at her inquiringly. Then a pleasant expectation overshot
his gloomy face; he smiled, and his teeth glittered, and his eyes.
Instantly he unslung his tray and set it upon the level gate-post.

"Sir," said Paula, "do you come here often?"

"_Tutti i giorni_," answered Luigi, scarcely considering her worth
wasting his sparse and precious English upon.

"You come here often," said Paula. "Will you come here no more?"

Luigi opened his eyes in amaze.

"You will come here no more," said Paula.

"_Chi lo_,--who wishes it?" stammered Luigi.

"My mistress," answered Paula, proudly, as if to be her servant were
more than enough distinction, and to mention her name were sovereign.

"Who commands?" he demanded, imperatively.

"Still my mistress."

"She said--Tell me that!"

"She said, 'Paula, if the boy disturbs us further, we must take

"The Signorina?"

"Her mother."

"Not the Signorina, then!" And Luigi's gloomy face grew radiant.

"She and her mother are one," replied Paula.

Luigi was silent for a moment. One could see the shadows falling over
him. Then he said, softly,--

"My Paula, you will befriend me?"

Paula bridled at the address; arrogant in family-place, she would have
assured him plainly that she was none of his, to begin with, had he been
an atom less disconsolate.

"Never more than now!" said she, loftily.

Luigi did not understand her; her tone was kind, but there was a "never"
in her words.

"I should be the most a friend," said Paula, unbending, "in urging you
to forget us."

"Ah, never!"

"Let me say. Can you read?"

"Some things," replied Luigi quickly, his brow brightening.

"Can you write?"

"It may be. Alas! I have not tried."

"You see."

There was no appeal from Paula's dictatorial demeanor.

"_Dio_! I am unfit! Ah, Jesu, I am unfit! But if she cared not--if I
learned"--and he paused, striving now for the purest, most intelligible
speech, while his face beamed with his smiling hope.

"Listen," interposed Paula, with the dignity of the headsman. "You have
no truer friend than me at this moment, as some day you will discover.
Come, now, will you do me a favor?"

"_Di tutto cuore_!"

"Then leave us to ourselves."

"Not possible!" cried Luigi, stung with disappointment.

"What would you do, then? Would you wear her life out? Would you keep
her in a terror? She has said to me that she must go away. It suffocates
one to be pursued in this manner. You are not pleasant to her. Hark. She
dislikes you!" And Paula bent toward him with uplifted finger, and,
having delivered her stroke, after watching its effect a moment, reared
herself and adjusted her gay turban with internal satisfaction.

Luigi cast his eyes slowly about him; they fell on the smooth
grass-plats rising with webs of shaking sparkle, the opening flowers
half-bowed beneath the weight of the shining spheres they held, the
brilliant garden bathed in dew, the waving boughs tossing off light
spray on every ravaging gust, the far fair sky bending over all. Then he
hid his face against the great gate-post, murmuring only in a dry and
broken sob,--

"_C' è sole_?"

Paula herself was touched. She put her hand on his shoulder.

"It is a silly thing," said she. "Do not take it so to heart. Put it out
of sight. There is many a pretty tambourine-tosser to smile upon you,
I'll warrant!"

But Luigi vouchsafed no response.

"Come," said she, "pluck up your courage. You will soon be better of

"_Non sarò meglio_!" answered Luigi. "I shall never be better."

He lifted his head and looked at her where she stood in the light,
black, but comely, transfixing her on the burning glances of his bold
eyes. "In your need," said he, "may you find just such friend as I have
found!" The words were of his native language, but the malediction was
universal. Paula half shivered, and fingered the amulet that her
princely Nubian ancestor had fingered before her, while he spoke. Then
he bowed his head to its burden, fastened the straps, and went bent and
stooping upon his way, repeating sadly to himself, "And does the sun

       *       *       *       *       *

A week passed. Part of another. Eve saw no more of Luigi, but was yet
all the time uncomfortably conscious of his espionage. He was hardly a
living being to her, but, as soon as night fell, the soft starry nights
now in which there was no moon, she felt him like a darker film of
spirit haunting the shadow. In the daytime, sunshine reassured her, and
she remained almost at peace.

She was sitting one warm afternoon at the open window up-stairs, looking
over a box of airy trifles, flowers and bows and laces, searching for a
parcel of sheer white love-ribbon, a slip of woven hoarfrost that was
not to be found. There was none like it to be procured; this was the
night of the little masquerade; it was indispensable; and immediately
she proceeded to raise the house. In answer to her descriptive inquiry,
Paula, who every noon nestled as near the sun as possible, responded in
a high key from the attic a descriptive negative; neither had her
mother, waking from a _siesta_ in the garden, seen any white gauze
folderols. The three voices made the air well acquainted with the

However, Eve was not to be baffled; she remembered distinctly having had
the love-ribbon in her hands on the day she first proposed the dress; it
must be found, and she sat down again at the open casement, intrenched
behind twenty boxes of like treasure, in any one of which the thing
might have hidden itself away, while her mother came up and established
herself with a fan at the other window, and Paula, descending from her
perch, rummaged the neighboring dressing-room.

On the opposite side of the street stretched a long strip of shaven
turf, known as the Parade, yet seldom used for anything but
summer-evening strolls, and below its velvet terraces, in a green
dimple, lay a pool, borrowing all manner of umberous stains from the
shore, and yet in its very heart contriving to reflect a part of heaven.
Languishing elm-trees lined its edge, and beneath the boughs, whose
heavily drooping masses seemed like the grapes of Eshcol, rude benches
offered rest to the weary.

On one of these benches now sat a person profoundly occupied in carving
something into its seat. If he could easily have heard the voices in the
dwelling opposite, he had not once glanced up. Now and then he paused
and leaned his head upon the arm that lay along the rail, then again he
pursued his task. Once, when his progress, perhaps, had exceeded
expectation, or the striking of a clock beneath some distant spire
announced no need of haste, he laid down his knife, left his occupation,
and came to lean against the low fence beneath Eve's window and gaze
daringly up. Eve did not see him. Her mother did, and held her breath
lest Eve should turn that way, and, having directed Eve's glance
elsewhere, shook her fan at the bold boy. But there was no insolence in
Luigi's gaze. He seemed merely wishing that his work should be marked;
and, having attracted fit attention, he returned quietly to the bench
and the carving once more.

At length the sun hung high over the west, preparing to fall into his
hidden resting-place that colored all the cloudless heaven with its
mounting tinge. Luigi rose and inspected his work. Then again he crossed
the street and stood below Eve's window. It was a long time that he
leaned with his arms folded on the bar of the low paling. Perhaps he
meant that she should look at him. She had closed the last of her
receptacles, and, dismissing the matter, for want of better employment,
her scissors were tinkering upon a tiny hand-glass with a setting
thickly crusted in crystals, a trifle that one clear day a sailor diving
from her father's ship had found upon the bottom of the sea,--a very
mermaid's glass dropped in some shallow place for Eve herself, a glass
that had reflected the rushing of the storm, the sliding of the keel
above, the face of many a drowning mariner. Careless of all that, at the
moment, she held it up now to the light to see if further furbishing
could brighten it, and as she did so was hastily checked. She had caught
sight of a dark face just framed and mirrored, the sad eyes raised and
resting on her own, luminous no more, but heavy, and longing, and dull
with a weight of woe. At the same moment, Paula, who had by no means
abandoned the lost love-ribbon, cried from within,--

"Well, Miss, the lutestring has been spirited away, and no less. I've
searched the house through, and nobody has it."

"_Qualcheduno l' ha_," breathed a sweet, melancholy tone from below; and
they turned and saw it in Luigi's hands, the frosty film of gossamer. He
held it up a moment, pressed it to his lips, folded it again into his
breast; and if it was plain that somebody had it, it was plainer still
that somebody meant to keep it. And then, as if twin stars were bending
over him out of the bluest deeps of heaven, Luigi kept Eve's eyes awhile
suspended on his despairing gaze, and without other word or gesture
turned and went away.

       *       *       *       *       *

Many days afterward, when it was certain that the little foreign
image-vender had indeed departed, Eve stole over to the bench beneath
the lofty arches of the elm-tree, all checkered with flickering
sunlight, and endeavored to read the sentence carved thereon. It was at
first undecipherable, and then, the text conquered, not easy for her to
comprehend. But when she had made it hers, she rose, bathed with
blushes, and stole away home again, feeling only as if Luigi had laid a
chain upon her heart.

Years have fled. The little legend yet remains cut deep into the wood,
though he returns no more, and though, since then, her

    "Part in all the pomp that fills
    The circuit of the summer hills
    Is that her grave is green."

Rain and snow have not effaced its _intaglio_, nor summer's dust, nor
winter's wind; and if you ever pass it, you yet may read,--


       *       *       *       *       *


_Whether virtue can be taught_ is a question over which Plato lingers
long. And it is a curious illustration of the different eyes with which
different men read, that some students of Plato are confident he answers
the question in the affirmative, while others are equally sure that he
gives it an unqualified negative. "Plato," says Schwegler, "holds fast
to the opinion that virtue is science, and therefore to be imparted by
instruction." "We are told," says Burgess, one of Bohn's translators,
"that, as virtue is not a science, it cannot, like a science, be made a
subject of teaching." Professor Blackie, again, an open-minded and
eloquent scholar, cannot doubt that virtue may be verbally imparted,
nor, therefore, that the great Athenian thinker so believed and

What is the voice of common sense and the teaching of history touching
this matter? Can a liberal and lofty nature be included in words, and so
passed over to another? Elevation of character, nobility of spirit,
wealth of soul,--is any method known, or probably ever to be known,
among men, whereby these can be got into a text-book, and then out of
the text-book into a bosom wherein they had no dwelling before? Alas, is
not the story of the world too full of cases in which the combined
eloquence of verbal instruction, vital influence, and lustrous example,
aided even by all the inspirations of the most majestic and moving
presence, have failed utterly to shape the character of disciples? Did
Alcibiades profit greatly by the conversation of Socrates? Was Judas
extremely ennobled by the companionship of Jesus? Was it to any
considerable purpose that the pure-minded, earnest, affluent Cicero
strewed the seeds of Stoic culture upon the wayside nature of his son?
Did Faustina learn much from Antoninus Pius, or Commodus from Marcus

I think we must assume it as the judgment of common sense that there
neither is nor is likely to be any educational mortar wherein a fool may
be so brayed that he shall come forth a wise man. The broad, unequivocal
sentence of history seems to be that whoever is not noble by nature will
hardly be rendered so by art. Education can do much; it can foster
nobilities, it can discourage vices; but literal conveyance of lofty
qualities, can it effect that? Can it create opulence of soul in a
sterile nature? Can it cause a thin soil to do the work of a deep one?
We have seen harsh natures mellowed, violent natures chastened, rough
ones refined; but who has seen an essentially mean nature made
large-hearted, self-forgetful, fertile of grandest faiths and greatest
deeds? Who has beheld a Thersites transformed into an Achilles? Who a
Shylock, Iago, or Regan changed into an Antonio, Othello, or Cordelia,
or a Simon Magus into a Paul? What virtue of nature is in a man culture
may bring out; but to put nature into any man surpasses her competence.

Nay, it would even seem that in some cases the finest openings and
invitations for what is best in man must operate inversely, and elicit
only what is worst in him. Every profoundest truth, when uttered with
fresh power in history, polarizes men, accumulating atheism at one pole,
while collecting faith and resolve at the other. As the sun bleaches
some surfaces into whiteness, but tans and blackens others, so the sweet
shining of Truth illumines some countenances with belief, but some it
darkens into a scowl of hate and denial. The American Revolution gave us
George Washington; but it gave us also Benedict Arnold. One and the same
great spiritual emergency in Europe produced Luther's Protestantism and
Loyola's Jesuitism. Our national crisis has converted General Butler;
what has it done for Vallandigham?

It were easy to show that the deepest intelligence of the world concurs
with common sense in this judgment. Its declaration ever is, in effect,
that, though Paul plant and Apollos water, yet fruit can come only out
of divine and infinite Nature,--only, that is, out of the native,
incommunicable resources of the soul. "No man can come to me," said
Jesus, "except the Father draw him." "To him that hath shall be given."
The frequent formula, "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear," is a
confession that no power of speech, no wisdom of instruction, can
command results. The grandest teacher, like the humblest, can but utter
his word, sure that the wealthy and prepared spirits will receive it,
and equally sure that shallow, sterile, and inane natures will either
not receive it at all, or do so to extremely little purpose.

And such, as I read, is the judgment of Plato; though, ever disposed to
explore the remote possibilities of education, he discusses the subject
in a tentative spirit, as if vaguely hoping that more might, through
some discovery in method, be accomplished by means of doctrine. But in
the "Republic" his permanent persuasion is shown. He there bases his
whole scheme of polity, as Goethe in the second part of "Wilhelm
Meister" bases his scheme of education, upon a primary inspection of
natures, in which it is assumed that culture must begin by humbly
accepting the work of Nature, forswearing all attempt to add one jot or
tittle to the native virtue of any human spirit.

It is always, however, less important for us to know what another thinks
upon any high matter than to know what is our own deepest and inevitable
thought concerning it; for, as the man himself thinketh, not as another
thinketh for him, so is he: his own thoughts are forces and engines in
his nature; those of any other are at best but candidates for these
profound effects. I propose, therefore, that we throw open the whole
question of man's benefit to man by means of words. Let us inquire--if
possible, with somewhat of courage and vigor--what are the limits and
what the laws of instructive communication.

And our first discovery will be that such communication has adamantine
limitations. The off-hand impression of most persons would probably be
that we are able to make literal conveyance of our thought. But, in
truth, one could as soon convey the life out of his veins into the veins
of another as transfer from his own mind to that of another any belief,
thought, or perception whatsoever.

Words are simply the signs, they are not the vehicles, of thought. Like
all signs, they convey nothing, but only suggest. Like all signs, they
are intelligible to none but the initiated. One man, having a certain
mental experience, hoists, as it were, a signal, like ships at sea,
whereby he would make suggestion of it to another; and if in the mental
experience of that other be somewhat akin to this, which, by virtue of
that kindred, can interpret its symbol, then only, and to the extent of
such interpretation, does communication occur. But the mental experience
itself, the thought itself, does not pass; it only makes the sign.

If, for example, I utter the word _God_, it conveys nothing out of my
mind into the mind of you, the reader; it simply appeals to your
conception of divinity. If I attempt to explain, then every word of the
explanation must be subject to the same conditions; not one syllable of
it can do more than merely appeal to somewhat already in your mind. For
instance, suppose I say, _God is love_; what then is done? The appeal is
shifted to another sign; that is all. What my own soul, fed from the
vital resources and incited by the vital relationships of my life, has
learned of love, that my thought may connect with the word; but of all
this nothing passes when it is uttered; and the sound, arriving at your
ear, can do no more than invite you to summon and bring before the eye
of your consciousness that which your own soul, out of its divine depths
and through the instruction of vital relationship, has learned and has
privily whispered to you of this sacred mystery, love. Just so much as
each one, in the inviolable solitudes of his own consciousness, has
learned to connect with this, or with any great word, just that, and
never a grain more, it can summon. And if endeavor be made to explain
any such by others, the explanation can come no nearer; it can only send
words to your ear, each of which performs its utmost office by inviting
you to call up and bring before your cognizance this or that portion of
your mental experience. But always what answers the call is your mental
experience, no less yours, no less wedded to your life, than the blood
in your arteries; it cannot be that of any other.

And the same is true, or nearly the same, respecting the most obvious
outside matters. Suppose one to make merely this statement, _I see a
house_. Now, if the person addressed has ever had experience of the act
of vision, if he has ever seen anything, he will know what _see_ means;
otherwise not. If, again, he has ever seen a house, he will know what
_house_ denotes; not otherwise. Or suppose, that, not knowing, he ask
what a house is, and that the first speaker attempt to explain by
telling him that it is such and such a structure, built of brick, wood,
or stone; then it is assumed that he has seen stone, wood, or brick,
that he has seen the act of building, or at least its result;--and in
fine, the explanation, every syllable of it, can do no more than appeal
to perceptions of which the questioner is assumed to have had

We do, indeed, gain an approximate knowledge of things we have never
seen. For example, I have an imperfect notion of a banian-tree, though I
have never seen one; but it is only by having seen other trees, and by
having also had the perceptions to which appeal is made in describing
the peculiarities of the banian. So he who is born blind may learn so
much concerning outward objects as the senses of touch, hearing, smell,
and taste can impart to him; and he may profit by verbal information to
such extent as these perceptions enable him. But the perception itself,
and so thought, faith, and in fine all mental experience whatsoever,
whether of high order or low, whether relating to objects within us or
to objects without, take place only in the privacy of our own minds, and
are in their substance not to be transferred.

Observe with precision what is here said. The mental experience of each
man, if it be of any spiritual depth, has transacted itself in his
nature in virtue, to a most important degree, of spiritual relationship
with other human beings. There never was an act of development in any
man's soul that did not imply a humanity, and involve the virtue of
social affinity. I should be dumb, but for the ears of others; I should
be deaf, that is, my human ear would be closed, but for human voices;
and there is no particle of human energy, and no tint of human coloring,
for which we are not, in part, indebted to vital human fellowship.
Nevertheless, of this experience, though in the absence of social
connection it could not have occurred, not one jot nor tittle can be
made over to another by means of words. It can hoist its verbal signal,
and the like experience in other souls may interpret the sign; it can do
no more.

Men may, indeed, _commune_; that is, they may by verbal conference enter
mutually into a sense of an already existing unity of inward experience;
and there are other and eminent uses of words, of which more anon; but
here let it be noted with sufficient emphasis that of minds there can be
no mixture, and that speech can make no substantive conveyance of any
mental product from one mind to another. Each soul must draw from its
native fountains; though we must never forget that without conversation
and social relationship its divine thirst would not have been excited.

Therefore, in the midst of all warmest and quickest verity of social
nearness, there is a kind of sacred and inviolable solitude of the soul.
We speak across to each other, as out of different planets in heaven;
and the closest intimacy of souls is like that of double stars which
revolve about each other, not like that of two lumps of clay which are
squeezed and confounded together.

So much, then, concerning the limits of verbal communication. Words, we
say, are not vehicles. No perception, no mental possession, passes from
mind to mind. You can impart to another no piece of knowledge whose main
elements were not already in his mind, no thought which was not
substantially existent in his consciousness before your voice began to
seek his ear. Instructors may, indeed, put a pupil in the way to obtain
fresh perceptions, and more rarely a wise man may put an apt disciple in
the way to obtain deeper insights; but, after all, the learner must
_learn_; the learner must for himself behold the fact, with the eyes of
body or of soul; and he must behold it as it is in itself, not merely as
it is in words.

Hence the new scheme of school-education. Agassiz says, in
substance,--"If you would teach a boy geography, take him out on the
hills, and make the earth herself his instructor. If you would teach him
respecting tigers or turtles, _show_ him tiger or turtle. Take him to a
Museum of Natural History; let him always, so far as possible, learn
about facts from the facts themselves." Judicious and important advice.
And the basis of it we find in what has been set forth above, namely,
that words convey no perception, whether of physical or of spiritual

It follows, therefore, that only he whose soul is eloquent within him
will gain much from any eloquence of his fellow. Only he whose heart is
a prophet will hear the prophet. A divine preparation of the nature,
divine activities of the soul, precede all high uses of communication.
Though Demosthenes or Phillips speak, it is the hearer's own spirit that
convinces him. Conviction cannot be forced upon one from without. Hence
the well-known futility of belligerent controversy. No possible logic
will lead a man ahead of his own intelligence; neither will any take
from him the persuasions which correspond to his mental condition. A
good logical _pose_ may sometimes serve to lower the crest of an
obstreperous sophist, as boughs of one species of ash are said to quell
the rattlesnake; but with both these sinuous animals the effect is
temporary, and the quality of the creature remains unchanged.

Even though one be sincerely desirous of advancing his intelligence, it
is seldom, as Mr. Emerson has somewhere said, of much use for him to
carry his questions to another. He of whom insight is thus asked may be
sage, eloquent, apt to teach; but it will commonly be found,
nevertheless, that his words, for some reason, do not seem to suit the
case in hand: admirable words they are, perhaps, for some cases closely
analogous to this, it may be for all such cases, and it is a thousand
pities that the present one does not come within their scope; but this,
as ill luck will have it, is that other case which they do _not_ fit.

And yet, despite these iron limits, communication is not only one of the
especial delights, but also one of the chief uses, of human life. As
every spiritual activity implies fellowship, so does almost every
thought, almost every result of spiritual activity, imply some speech of
our fellows. Voices and books,--who would be himself without them? I do
not believe myself to have now in my mind one valuable thought which
owes nothing to the written or spoken thought of other men, living or

How, then, is it that the speech of our fellows renders us aid? What are
to us the uses of the words of others?

And here be it first of all frankly acknowledged, that there is much
speech of no remarkable import, in itself considered, which yet serves
good ends. There is much speech whose office is simply to refresh the
sense of fellowship. It will not make a good leading article; but the
leading article which subserves equal uses is not to be contemned. So
much are men empowered by each other, that any careless, kindly chat
which gives them the sense of cordial nearness gives also warmth and
invigoration. Better than most ambitious conversation is the light,
happy, bubbling talk which means at bottom simply this:--"We are at home
together; we believe in each other." Words are good, if they only
festoon love and trust. Words are good, if they merely show us that
worthy natures do not suspect us, do not lock their closets when we are
in the house, do not put their souls in dress-costume to meet us, but
leave their thoughts and hearts naked in our presence, and are not
ashamed. Be it mine sometimes to sit with my friend when our mere
nearness and unity of spirit are felt by us both to be so utterly
eloquent, that, without silence, we forbear to set up any rivalry to
them by grave and meditated speech,--observing, it may be, a falling
leaf toyed with by the wind, and speaking words that drop from the lips
like falling leaves, and float down a zephyr that knows not which way to
blow. Some of the sweetest and most fruitful hours of life are these in
which we speak half-articulate nothings, merely airing the sense of
fellowship, and so replete with this wealth of vital intimacy that we
have room for nothing more.

But our aim is to regard communication as an instruction, and to
consider the more explicit and definite uses of words.

And of these the first, and one of the chief, is based upon the very
limitations which have been set forth,--upon the very fact that words
are _not_ vehicles. I have said that there is a certain divine solitude
of the soul; and of this solitude the uses are infinitely great. The
absolute soul of humanity, we hold, seeks to insphere itself in each
person, though in each giving itself a peculiar or individual
representation; and only as this insphering takes place are the ends of
creation attained, only so is man made indeed a _human_ life. Therefore
must we draw out of that, out of that alone; therefore truth is
permitted to come to us only out of these infinite depths, albeit
incitement, invitation, and the ability to draw from these native
fountains may be due to social connection. Because our life is really
enriched only as the absolute soul gives itself to us, therefore will it
suffer us no otherwise than by its gift to supply our want. And as it
cannot give itself to us save in response to a felt want, a seeking, an
inward demand, it belongs to the chief economies of our life to bring us
to this attitude of inward request, to this call and claim upon the
resources of our intelligence.

Now words come to us as empty vessels, which we are to fill from within;
and in making for this purpose a requisition upon the perpetual contents
of reason, conscience, and imagination, we open a valve through which
new spiritual powers enter, and add themselves to our being. If the word
_God_ be sometimes spoken simply and spontaneously, a youth who hears it
will be sure upon some day, when the sense of the infinite and divine
stirs vaguely within him, to ask himself what this word means, to
require his soul to tell him what is the verity corresponding thereto;
and precisely this requisition is what the soul desires, for only when
sought may its riches be found. The utilities of words in this kind are
deserving of very grave estimation. Words teach us much, but they teach
less by what is in them than by what is not in them,--less by what they
give to us than by what they demand from us.

It is, therefore, one of the grand services of communication to bring us
to the limits of communication, making us feel, that, ere it can go
farther, there must occur in us new stretches of thought, new energies
of hope, faith, and all noble imagining. It were well, therefore, that,
among other things, we should sometimes thank God for our ignorance and
weakness,--thank Him for what we do _not_ understand and are not equal
to; for with every fresh recognition of these, with every fresh approach
to the borders of our intelligence, we are prepared for new requisitions
upon the soul. As in a pump the air is exhausted in order that the water
may rise, so a void in our intelligence _caused by its own energy_
precedes every enrichment. Hence he who will not admit to his heart the
sense of ignorance will always be a fool; he who is perpetually filled
with self-sufficiency will never be filled with much else. And from this
point of view one may discern the significance of that doctrine of
humility which belongs equally to Socratic thinking and Christian

It follows, too, that we need not laboriously push and foist upon the
young our faith and experience. Aside from direct vital influence, which
is a powerful propagandist, our simple, natural, inevitable speech will
cause them to do much better than learn from us, it will cause them to
learn from their own souls. And however uncertain may be a harvest from
questions asked of others, a great question rightly put to one's self
not only must be fruitful, but carries in it a capacity for infinite
fruitfulness; while the longer and more patiently and persistently one
can wait for an answer, the richer his future is to be. I am sure of him
who can put to his heart the great questions of life, and wait serenely
and vigilantly for a response, one, two, ten years, a lifetime, wellnigh
an eternity, if need be, not falling into despondencies and despairing
skepticisms because the universe forbears to babble and tattle its
secret ere yet he half or a thousandth part guesses how deep and holy
that secret is, but quietly, heroically asking and waiting. And toward
this posture of asking the profound and vital words assist us by being
heard,--which is their first eminent use to us.

Secondly, they serve us greatly, when they simply cause a preëxisting
community of thought to be mutually recognized. It is much to bring like
to like, brand to brand, believing soul to believing soul. As several
pieces of anthracite coal will together make a powerful heat, but
separately will not burn at all, so in the conjunction of similar faiths
and beliefs there is a wholly new effect; it is not at all the mere sum
of the forces previously in operation, but a pure product of union. "My
confidence in my own belief," said Novalis, "is increased _infinitely_
the moment another shares it with me. The reason is obvious. You and I
have grown up apart, and have never conferred together; our
temperaments, culture, circumstances are different; we have come to have
certain thoughts which seem to us true and deep, but each of us doubts
whether these thoughts may not be due to his peculiarities of mind,
position, and influence. But to-day we come together, and discover,
that, despite these outward diversities in which we are so widely
unlike, our fundamental faiths are one and the same; the same thoughts,
the same beliefs have sprung into life in our separate souls. Instantly
is suggested a unity underlying our divided being, a law of thought
abiding in mind itself,--not merely in your mind or mine, but in the
mind and soul of man. What we arrive at, therefore, is not merely the
sum of you and me, the aggregate of two men's opinions, but the
universal, the absolute, and spiritually necessary. Such is always the
suggestion which spontaneous unity of faith carries with it; hence it
awakens religion, and gives total peace and rest."

But the faiths which are to be capable of these divine embraces must
indeed be spontaneous and native. Hence those who create factitious
unity of creed render these fructifications impossible. If we agree, not
because the absolute soul has uttered in both of us the same word, but
because we have both been fed with dust out of the same catechism, our
unity will disgust and weary us rather than invigorate. Dr. Johnson said
he would compel men to believe as he and the Church of England did,
"because," he reasoned, "if another differs from me, he weakens my
confidence in my own scheme of faith, and so injures me." Now this
speech is good just so far as it asserts social dependence in belief; it
is bad, it is idiotic or insane, so far as it advocates the substitution
of a factitious and artificial unity for one of spiritual depth and
reality. The fruits of the tree of life are not to be successfully
thieved. In dishonest hands they become ashes and bitterness. He who has
more faith in an Act of Parliament than in God and the universe may be a
good conventional believer; but, in truth, the choice he makes is the
essence of all denial and even of all atheism and blasphemy.

Let each, then, bring up out of his own soul its purest, broadest,
simplest faith; and when any ten or ten thousand find that the same
faith has come to birth in their several souls, each one of them all
will be exalted to a divine confidence, and will make new requisitions
upon the soul which he has so been taught to trust. Thus, though we tell
each nothing new, though we merely demonstrate our unity of
consciousness, yet is the force of each many times multiplied,--dimless
certitude and dauntless courage being bred in hearts where before,
perhaps, were timorous hesitation and wavering.

The third service of words may be compared to the help which the smith
renders to the fire on his forge. True it is that no blowing can
enkindle dead coals, and make a flame where was no spark. True it is
that both spark and bellows will be vain, if the fuel is stone or clay.
And so no blowing will enkindle a nature which does not bring in itself
the fire to be fanned and the substance that may support it. But in our
being, as at the forge, the flame that languishes may be taught to leap,
and the spark that was hidden may be wrought into blaze.

Simple attraction and encouragement,--there is somewhat of the
marvellous in their effects. Physiologists tell us, that, if two liquids
in the body are separated by a moist membrane, and if one of these
fluids be in motion and the other at rest, that which rests will of its
own accord force its way through the membrane and join the one which
flows. So it is in history. Any man who represents a spiritual streaming
will command and draw into the current of his soul those whose condition
is one of stagnancy or arrest. Now courage and belief are streamings
forward; skepticism and timidity are stagnancies; panic, fear, and
destructive denial are streamings backward. True, now, it is, that any
swift flowing, forward or backward, attracts; but progressive or
affirmative currents have this vast advantage, that they are health, and
therefore the healthy humanity in every man's being believes in them and
belongs to them; and they accordingly are like rivers, which, however
choked up temporarily and made refluent, are sure in the end to force
their way; while negative and backward currents are like pestilences and
conflagrations, which of necessity limit themselves by exhaustion, if
not mastered by happier means.

We may, indeed, note it as a nicety, that the membrane must be moist
through which this transudation is to take place; and I admit that there
are men whose enveloping sheath of individualism and egotism is so hard
and dry, so little interpenetrated by candor and the love of truth, as
to be nearly impervious to noble persuasion; and were whole Missouris of
tidings from the highest intelligence rushing past them, they would
still yawn, and say, "Do you get any news?" as innocently as ever.

Nevertheless, history throbs with the mystery of this influence. A
little girl slumping by her mother's side awoke in a severe
thunder-storm, and, nestling in terror near to the mother, and shrinking
into the smallest possible space, said, trembling, "Mother, are you
afraid?" "No, my dear," answered the lady, calmly. "Oh, well," said the
child, assuming her full proportions, and again disposing herself for
sleep, "if you're not afraid, I'm not afraid," and was soon slumbering
quietly. What volumes of gravest human history in that little incident!
So infinitely easy are daring and magnanimity, so easy is transcendent
height of thought and will, when exalted spiritually, when imperial
valor and purpose breathe and blow upon our souls from the lips of a
living fellow! Not, it may be, that anything new is said. That is not
required. What another now thrills, inspires, transfigures us by saying,
we probably knew before, only dared not let ourselves think that we knew
it. The universe, perhaps, had not a nook so hidden that therein we
could have been solitary enough to whisper that divine suggestion to our
own hearts. But now some childlike man stands up and speaks it to the
common air, in serenest unconsciousness of doing anything singular. He
has said it,--and lo, he lives! By the help of God, then, we too, by
word and deed, will utter our souls.

Get one hero, and you may have a thousand. Create a grand impulse in
history, and no fear but it will be reinforced. Obtain your champion in
the cause of Right, and you shall have indomitable armies that charge
for social justice.

More of the highest life is suppressed in every one of us than ever gets
vent; and it is this inward suppression, after making due account of all
outward oppressions and injuries, which constitutes the chief tragedy of
history. Daily men cast to the ground the proffered beakers of heaven,
from mere fear to drink. Daily they rebuke the divine, inarticulate
murmur that arises from the deeps of their being,--inarticulate only
because denied and reproved. And he is greatest who can meet with a
certain pure intrepidity those suggestions which haunt forever the
hearts of men.

No greater blunder, accordingly, was ever made than that of attempting
to render men brave and believing by addressing them as cowards and
infidels. Garibaldi stands up before his soldiers in Northern Italy, and
says to them, (though I forget the exact words,) "I do not call you to
fortune and prosperity; I call you to hardship, to suffering, to death;
I ask you to give your toil without reward, to spill your blood and lie
in unknown graves, to sacrifice all for your country and kind, and hear
no thanks but the _Well done_ of God in heaven." Did they cower and go
back? Ere the words had spent their echoes, every man's will was as the
living adamant of God's purpose, and every man's hand was as the hand of
Destiny, and from the shock of their onset the Austrians fled as from
the opening jaws of an earthquake. Demosthenes told Athens only what
Athens knew. He merely blew upon the people's hearts with their own best
thoughts; and what a blaze! True, the divine fuel was nearly gone,
Athens wellnigh burnt out, and the flame lasted not long; but that he
could produce such effects, when half he fanned was merest ashes, serves
all the more to show how great such effects may be.

Before passing to the last and profoundest use of communication, I must
not omit to mention that which is most obvious, but not most
important,--the giving of ordinary informations and instructions. These
always consist in a suggestion to another of new combinations of his
notions, new societies in his mind. Thus, if I say, _Fire burns_, I
simply assert a connection between fire and burning,--the notion of both
these being assumed as existing in the mind of the person addressed. Or
if I say, _God is just_, I invite him to associate in his mind the
sentiment of justice and the sense of the infinite and omnipotent. Now
in respect to matters of mere external form we usually confide in the
representations of others, and picture to ourselves, so far as our
existing perceptions enable us, the combinations they affirm,--provided
always these have a certain undefined conformity with our own
experience. But in respect to association, not of mere notions, but _of
spiritual elements in the soul_,--of truths evolved by the spiritual
nature of man,--the case is quite different Thus, if the fool who once
said in his heart, "There is no God," should now say openly, (of course
by some disguising euphemism,) "God is an egotist," I may indeed shape
an opinion accordingly, and fall into great confusion in consequence;
but my spiritual nature does not consent to this representation; no
_real_ association takes place within me between the sense of the
divine and the conception of egotism. Such opinion may have immense
energy in history, but it has no efficiency in the eliciting and
outbuilding of our personal being; these representations, however we may
trust and base action upon them, serve us inwardly only to such degree
as our spiritual nature can ally itself with them and find expression in
them. It is simply impossible for any man to associate the idea of
divinity with the conception of selfishness; but he may associate the
notion of Zeus or Allah or the like with that or any other conception of
baseness, and out of the result may form a sort of crust over his
spiritual intelligence, which shall either imprison it utterly, or force
it to oblique and covert expression. And of this last, by the way,--and
we may deeply rejoice over the fact,--history is full.

Yet in this suggestion toward new societies in the soul, in this formal
introduction to each other of kindred elements in the consciousness,
there may be eminent service. It is only formal, it does not make
friendship, it leaves our spirits to their own action; but it may
prepare the way for inward unities and communities whose blessedness
neither speech nor silence can tell.

Finally, there is an effect of words profounder and more creative than
any of these. As a brand which burns powerfully may at last ignite even
green wood, so divine faiths, alive and awake in one soul, may appeal to
the mere elements, to mere possibilities, of such faiths in other souls,
and at length evoke them by that appeal. The process is slow; it
requires a celestial heat and persistency in the moving spirit; it is
one of the "all things" that are possible only with God: but it occurs,
and it is the most sacred and precious thing in history.

Every human soul has the absolute soul, has the whole truth,
significance, and virtue of the universe, as its lawful and native
resource. Therefore says Jesus, "The kingdom of heaven is within you";
therefore Antoninus, "Look inwards, within is the fountain of truth";
therefore Eckart, "Ye have all truth potentially within you." All ideas
of truth dwell in every soul, but in every soul they are at first
wrapped in deep sleep, in an infinite depth of sleep; while the base
incense of brutish lives is like chloroform, or the fumes of some
benumbing drug, to steep them ever more and more in oblivion. But to
awaken truth thus sleeping in the soul is the highest use of discipline,
the noblest aim of culture, and the most eminent service which man can
render to man. The scheme of our life is providentially arranged with
reference to that end; and the thousand shocks, agitations, and moving
influences of our experience, the supreme invitations of love, the venom
of calumny, and all toil, trial, sudden bereavement, doubt, danger,
vicissitude, joy, are hands that shake and voices that assail the
lethargy of our deepest powers. Now it is in the power of truth divinely
awakened in one soul to assist its awakening in another. For as nothing
so quickly arouses us from slumber as hearing ourselves called upon by
name, so is it with this celestial inhabitant: whoever by virtue of
elder brotherhood can rightly name him shall cause his spirit to be
stirred and his slumber to be broken.

Let him, therefore, in whom any great truth is alive and awake,
enunciate, proclaim it steadily, clearly, cheerily, with a serene and
cloudless passion; and wherever a soul less mature than his own lies
open to the access of his tones, there the eye-fast angels of belief and
knowledge shall hear that publication of their own hearts, and, hearing,
lift their lids, and rise into wakefulness and power.

Seldom, indeed, is any voice, though it be in its origin a genuine voice
of the soul, pure and impartial enough, enough delivered from the masks
of egotism and accident, to be greatly competent for these effects.
Besides which, there are not a few that have closed their ears, lest
they should hear, not a few that are even filled with base astonishment
and terror, and out of this with base wrath, to find their deafness
assailed. And still further, it must be freely owned that our natures
have mysterious elections, and though one desire openness of soul as
much as folly fears it, yet may it happen that some tint of peculiarity
in the tone of a worthy voice shall render it to him opaque and

Yet let us not fear that the product of any sacred and spiritual
sincerity will fail of sufficient uses. If a deep, cordial, and
clarified nature will but give us his heart in a pure and boundless
bravery of confession,--if, like autumn plants, that cast forth their
seeds, winged with down, to the four winds of heaven, or like the
blossoms of spring and early summer, that yield up their preciousness of
pollen to the forage of bees, and even by being so robbed attain to the
hearts of neighbor-blossoms, and accomplish that mystery of
fructification which is to make glad the maturer year,--if so this
inflorescence of eternity that we name a Noble Man will yield up the
golden pollen of his soul, even to those that in visiting him seek but
their own ends, and if so he will intrust winged words, words that are
indeed spiritual _seeds_, purest, ripest, and most vital products of his
being, to the winds of time,--he will be sure to reach some, and they to
reach others, and there is no telling how far the seminal effect may go;
there is no telling what harvests may yellow in the limitless fields of
the future, what terrestrial and celestial reapers may go home
rejoicing, bearing their sheaves with them, what immortal hungers may be
fed at the feasts of earth and heaven, in final consequence of that
lonely and faithful sowing. As in the still mornings of summer the
earliest awakened bird hesitates to utter, yet utters, his solitary
pipe, timidly rippling the silence, but is not long alone, for quickly
the melodious throb begins to beat in every tree-top, and soon the whole
rapturous grove gushes and palpitates into song,--even so, thus to
appearance alone and unsupported, begins that chant of belief which is
destined to heave and roll in billows of melodious confession over a
continent, over a world. Thus does a faith that has lain long silent in
the hearts of nations suddenly answer to the note of its kind,
astonishing all bystanders, astonishing most of all the heart it
inhabits. For, lo! the tree-tops of human life are full of slumbering
melodies, and if a song-sparrow pipe sincerely on the hill-sides of
Judea, saying, after his own fashion of speech, "Behold, the divine dawn
hath visited my eyes," be sure that the forests of far-off America, then
unknown, will one day reply, and ten thousand thousand throats throbbing
with high response will make it mutually known all round the world that
this auroral beam is not for any single or private eye, but that the
broad amber beauty of spiritual morning belongs to man's being, and that
in man's heart, by virtue of its perennial nature, is prophesied the day
whose sun shall be God and its earth heaven.

       *       *       *       *       *




In the course of my papers various domestic revolutions have occurred.
Our Marianne has gone from us with a new name to a new life, and a
modest little establishment not many squares off claims about as much of
my wife's and Jennie's busy thoughts as those of the proper mistress.

Marianne, as I always foresaw, is a careful and somewhat anxious
housekeeper. Her tastes are fastidious; she is made for exactitude: the
smallest departures from the straight line appear to her shocking
deviations. She had always lived in a house where everything had been
formed to quiet and order under the ever-present care and touch of her
mother; nor had she ever participated in these cares more than to do a
little dusting of the parlor-ornaments, or wash the best china, or make
sponge-cake or chocolate-caramels. Certain conditions of life had always
appeared so certain that she had never conceived of a house without
them. It never occurred to her that such bread and biscuit as she saw at
the home-table would not always and of course appear at every
table,--that the silver would not always be as bright, the glass as
clear, the salt as fine and smooth, the plates and dishes as nicely
arranged as she had always seen them, apparently without the thought or
care of any one,--for my wife is one of those housekeepers whose touch
is so fine that no one feels it. She is never heard scolding or
reproving,--never entertains her company with her recipes for cookery or
the faults of her servants. She is so unconcerned about receiving her
own personal share of credit for the good appearance of her
establishment, that even the children of the house have not supposed
that there is any particular will of hers in the matter,--it all seems
the natural consequence of having very good servants.

One phenomenon they had never seriously reflected on,--that, under all
the changes of the domestic cabinet which are so apt to occur in
American households, the same coffee, the same bread and biscuit, the
same nicely prepared dishes and neatly laid table always gladdened their
eyes; and from this they inferred only that good servants were more
abundant than most people had supposed. They were somewhat surprised
when these marvels were wrought by professedly green hands, but were
given to suppose that these green hands must have had some remarkable
quickness or aptitude for acquiring. That sparkling jelly, well-flavored
ice-creams, clear soups, and delicate biscuits could be made by a raw
Irish girl, fresh from her native Erin, seemed to them a proof of the
genius of the race; and my wife, who never felt it important to attain
to the reputation of a cook, quietly let it pass.

For some time, therefore, after the inauguration of the new household,
there was trouble in the camp. Sour bread had appeared on the
table,--bitter, acrid coffee had shocked and astonished the
palate,--lint had been observed on tumblers, and the spoons had
sometimes dingy streaks on the brightness of their first bridal
polish,--beds were detected made shockingly awry,--and Marianne came
burning with indignation to her mother.

"Such a little family as we have, and two strong girls," said
she,--"everything ought to be perfect; there is really nothing to do.
Think of a whole batch of bread absolutely sour! and when I gave that
away, then this morning another exactly like it! and when I talked to
cook about it, she said she had lived in this and that family, and her
bread had always been praised as equal to the baker's!"

"I don't doubt she is right," said I. "Many families never have anything
but sour bread from one end of the year to the other, eating it
unperceiving, and with good cheer; and they buy also sour bread of the
baker, with like approbation,--lightness being in their estimation the
only virtue necessary in the article."

"Could you not correct her fault?" suggested my wife.

"I have done all I can. I told her we could not have such bread, that it
was dreadful; Bob says it would give him the dyspepsia in a week; and
then she went and made exactly the same;--it seems to me mere

"But," said I, "suppose, instead of such general directions, you should
analyze her proceedings and find out just where she makes her
mistake,--is the root of the trouble in the yeast, or in the time she
begins it, letting it rise too long?--the time, you know, should vary so
much with the temperature of the weather."

"As to that," said Marianne, "I know nothing. I never noticed; it never
was my business to make bread; it always seemed quite a simple process,
mixing yeast and flour and kneading it; and our bread at home was always

"It seems, then, my dear, that you have come to your profession without
even having studied it."

My wife smiled, and said,--

"You know, Marianne, I proposed to you to be our family bread-maker for
one month of the year before you married."

"Yes, mamma, I remember; but I was like other girls; I thought there was
no need of it. I never liked to do such things; perhaps I had better
have done it."

"You certainly had," said I; "for the first business of a housekeeper in
America is that of a teacher. She can have a good table only by having
practical knowledge, and tact in imparting it. If she understands her
business practically and experimentally, her eye detects at once the
weak spot; it requires only a little tact, some patience, some clearness
in giving directions, and all comes right. I venture to say that your
mother would have exactly such bread as always appears on our table, and
have it by the hands of your cook, because she could detect and explain
to her exactly her error."

"Do you know," said my wife, "what yeast she uses?"

"I believe," said Marianne, "it's a kind she makes herself. I think I
heard her say so. I know she makes a great fuss about it, and rather
values herself upon it. She is evidently accustomed to being praised for
her bread, and feels mortified and angry, and I don't know how to manage

"Well," said I, "if you carry your watch to a watch-maker, and undertake
to show him how to regulate the machinery, he laughs and goes on his own
way; but if a brother-machinist makes suggestions, he listens
respectfully. So, when a woman who knows nothing of woman's work
undertakes to instruct one who knows more than she does, she makes no
impression; but a woman who has been trained experimentally, and shows
she understands the matter thoroughly, is listened to with respect."

"I think," said my wife, "that your Bridget is worth teaching. She is
honest, well-principled, and tidy. She has good recommendations from
excellent families, whose ideas of good bread it appears differ from
ours; and with a little good-nature, tact, and patience, she will come
into your ways."

"But the coffee, mamma,--you would not imagine it to be from the same
bag with your own, so dark and so bitter; what do you suppose she has
done to it?"

"Simply this," said my wife. "She has let the berries stay a few moments
too long over the fire,--they are burnt, instead of being roasted; and
there are people who think it essential to good coffee that it should
look black, and have a strong, bitter flavor. A very little change in
the preparing will alter this."

"Now," said I, "Marianne, if you want my advice, I'll give it to you
gratis:--Make your own bread for one month. Simple as the process seems,
I think it will take as long as that to give you a thorough knowledge of
all the possibilities in the case; but after that you will never need to
make any more,--you will be able to command good bread by the aid of all
sorts of servants; you will, in other words, be a thoroughly prepared

"I did not think," said Marianne, "that so simple a thing required so
much attention."

"It is simple," said my wife, "and yet requires a delicate care and
watchfulness. There are fifty ways to spoil good bread; there are a
hundred little things to be considered and allowed for that require
accurate observation and experience. The same process that will raise
good bread in cold weather will make sour bread in the heat of summer;
different qualities of flour require variations in treatment, as also
different sorts and conditions of yeast; and when all is done, the
baking presents another series of possibilities which require exact

"So it appears," said Marianne, gayly, "that I must begin to study my
profession at the eleventh hour."

"Better late than never," said I. "But there is this advantage on your
side: a well-trained mind, accustomed to reflect, analyze, and
generalize, has an advantage over uncultured minds even of double
experience. Poor as your cook is, she now knows more of her business
than you do. After a very brief period of attention and experiment, you
will not only know more than she does, but you will convince her that
you do, which is quite as much to the purpose."

"In the same manner," said my wife, "you will have to give lessons to
your other girl on the washing of silver and the making of beds. Good
servants do not often come to us; they must be made by patience and
training; and if a girl has a good disposition and a reasonable degree
of handiness, and the housekeeper understands her profession, she may
make a good servant out of an indifferent one. Some of my best girls
have been those who came to me directly from the ship, with no
preparation but docility and some natural quickness. The hardest cases
to be managed are not of those who have been taught nothing, but of
those who have been taught wrongly,--who come to you self-opinionated,
with ways that are distasteful to you, and contrary to the genius of
your housekeeping. Such require that their mistress shall understand a
least so much of the actual conduct of affairs as to prove to the
servant that there are better ways than those in which she has hitherto
been trained."

"Don't you think, mamma," said Marianne, "that there has been a sort of
reaction against woman's work in our day? So much has been said of the
higher sphere of woman, and so much has been done to find some better
work for her, that insensibly, I think, almost everybody begins to feel
that it is rather degrading for a woman in good society to be much tied
down to family-affairs."

"Especially," said my wife, "since in these Woman's-Rights Conventions
there is so much indignation expressed at those who would confine her
ideas to the kitchen and nursery."

"There is reason in all things," said I. "Woman's-Rights Conventions are
a protest against many former absurd, unreasonable ideas,--the mere
physical and culinary idea of womanhood as connected only with puddings
and shirt-buttons, the unjust and unequal burdens which the laws of
harsher ages had cast upon the sex. Many of the women connected with
these movements are as superior in everything properly womanly as they
are in exceptional talent and culture. There is no manner of doubt that
the sphere of woman is properly to be enlarged, and that republican
governments in particular are to be saved from corruption and failure
only by allowing to woman this enlarged sphere. Every woman has rights
as a human being first, which belong to no sex, and ought to be as
freely conceded to her as if she were a man,--and first and foremost,
the great right of doing anything which God and Nature evidently have
fitted her to excel in. If she be made a natural orator, like Miss
Dickenson, or an astronomer, like Mrs. Somerville, or a singer, like
Grisi, let not the technical rules of womanhood be thrown in the way of
her free use of her powers. Nor can there be any reason shown why a
woman's vote in the State should not be received with as much respect as
in the family. A State is but an association of families, and laws
relate to the rights and immunities which touch woman's most private and
immediate wants and dearest hopes; and there is no reason why sister,
wife, and mother should be more powerless in the State than in the home.
Nor does it make a woman unwomanly to express an opinion by dropping a
slip of paper into a box, more than to express that same opinion by
conversation. In fact, there is no doubt, that, in all matters relating
to the interests of education, temperance, and religion, the State would
be a material gainer by receiving the votes of women.

"But, having said all this, I must admit, _per contra_, not only a great
deal of crude, disagreeable talk in these conventions, but a too great
tendency of the age to make the education of women anti-domestic. It
seems as if the world never could advance, except like ships under a
head-wind, tacking and going too far, now in this direction, and now in
the opposite. Our common-school system now rejects sewing from the
education of girls, which very properly used to occupy many hours daily
in school a generation ago. The daughters of laborers and artisans are
put through algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and the higher mathematics,
to the entire neglect of that learning which belongs distinctively to
woman. A girl cannot keep pace with her class, if she gives any time to
domestic matters; and accordingly she is excused from them all during
the whole term of her education. The boy of a family, at an early age,
is put to a trade, or the labors of a farm; the father becomes impatient
of his support, and requires of him to care for himself. Hence an
interrupted education,--learning coming by snatches in the winter months
or in the intervals of work. As the result, the females in our
country-towns are commonly, in mental culture, vastly in advance of the
males of the same household; but with this comes a physical delicacy,
the result of an exclusive use of the brain and a neglect of the
muscular system, with great inefficiency in practical domestic duties.
The race of strong, hardy, cheerful girls, that used to grow up in
country-places, and made the bright, neat, New-England kitchens of old
times,--the girls that could wash, iron, brew, bake, tackle a horse and
drive him, no less than braid straw, embroider, draw, paint, and read
innumerable books,--this race of women, pride of olden time, is daily
lessening; and in their stead come the fragile, easily fatigued, languid
girls of a modern age, drilled in book-learning, ignorant of common
things. The great danger of all this, and of the evils that come from
it, is that society by-and-by will turn as blindly against female
intellectual culture as it now advocates it, and, having worked
disproportionately one way, will work disproportionately in the opposite

"The fact is," said my wife, "that domestic service is the great problem
of life here in America; the happiness of families, their thrift,
well-being, and comfort, are more affected by this than by any one thing
else. Our girls, as they have been brought up, cannot perform the labor
of their own families, as in those simpler, old-fashioned days you tell
of; and what is worse, they have no practical skill with which to
instruct servants, and servants come to us, as a class, raw and
untrained; so what is to be done? In the present state of prices, the
board of a domestic costs double her wages, and the waste she makes is a
more serious matter still. Suppose you give us an article upon this
subject in your 'House and Home Papers.' You could not have a better

So I sat down, and wrote thus on


Many of the domestic evils in America originate in the fact, that, while
society here is professedly based on new principles, which ought to make
social life in every respect different from the life of the Old World,
yet these principles have never been so thought out and applied as to
give consistency and harmony to our daily relations. America starts with
a political organization based on a declaration of the primitive freedom
and equality of all men. Every human being, according to this principle,
stands on the same natural level with every other, and has the same
chance to rise according to the degree of power or capacity given by the
Creator. All our civil institutions are designed to preserve this
equality, as far as possible, from generation to generation: there is no
entailed property, there are no hereditary titles, no monopolies, no
privileged classes,--all are to be as free to rise and fall as the waves
of the sea.

The condition of domestic service, however, still retains about it
something of the influences from feudal times, and from the near
presence of slavery in neighboring States. All English literature, all
the literature of the world, describes domestic service in the old
feudal spirit and with the old feudal language, which regarded the
master as belonging to a privileged class and the servant to an inferior
one. There is not a play, not a poem, not a novel, not a history, that
does not present this view. The master's rights, like the rights of
kings, were supposed to rest in his being born in a superior rank. The
good servant was one who, from childhood, had learned "to order himself
lowly and reverently to all his betters." When New England brought to
these shores the theory of democracy, she brought, in the persons of the
first pilgrims, the habits of thought and of action formed in
aristocratic communities, Winthrop's Journal, and all the old records of
the earlier colonists, show households where masters and mistresses
stood on the "right divine" of the privileged classes, howsoever they
might have risen up against authorities themselves.

The first consequence of this state of things was a universal rejection
of domestic service in all classes of American-born society. For a
generation or two, there was, indeed, a sort of interchange of family
strength,--sons and daughters engaging in the service of neighboring
families, in default of a sufficient working-force of their own, but
always on conditions of strict equality. The assistant was to share the
table, the family sitting-room, and every honor and attention that might
be claimed by son or daughter. When families increased in refinement and
education so as to make these conditions of close intimacy with more
uncultured neighbors disagreeable, they had to choose between such
intimacies and the performance of their own domestic toil. No wages
could induce a son or daughter of New England to take the condition of a
servant on terms which they thought applicable to that of a slave. The
slightest hint of a separate table was resented as an insult; not to
enter the front-door, and not to sit in the front-parlor on
state-occasions, was bitterly commented on as a personal indignity.

The well-taught, self-respecting daughters of farmers, the class most
valuable in domestic service, gradually retired from it. They preferred
any other employment, however laborious. Beyond all doubt, the labors of
a well-regulated family are more healthy, more cheerful, more
interesting, because less monotonous, than the mechanical tolls of a
factory; yet the girls of New England, with one consent, preferred the
factory, and left the whole business of domestic service to a foreign
population; and they did it mainly because they would not take positions
in families as an inferior laboring-class by the side of others of their
own age who assumed as their prerogative to live without labor.

"I can't let you have one of my daughters," said an energetic matron to
her neighbor from the city, who was seeking for a servant in her summer
vacation; "if you hadn't daughters of your own, maybe I would; but my
girls a'n't going to work so that your girls may live in idleness."

It was vain to offer money. "We don't need your money, Ma'am, we can
support ourselves in other ways; my girls can braid straw, and bind
shoes, but they a'n't going to be slaves to anybody."

In the Irish and German servants who took the place of Americans in
families, there was, to begin with, the tradition of education in favor
of a higher class; but even the foreign population became more or less
infected with the spirit of democracy. They came to this country with
vague notions of freedom and equality, and in ignorant and uncultivated
people such ideas are often more unreasonable for being vague. They did
not, indeed, claim a seat at the table and in the parlor, but they
repudiated many of those habits of respect and courtesy which belonged
to their former condition, and asserted their own will and way in the
round, unvarnished phrase which they supposed to be their right as
republican citizens. Life became a sort of domestic wrangle and struggle
between the employers, who secretly confessed their weakness, but
endeavored openly to assume the air and bearing of authority, and the
employed, who knew their power and insisted on their privileges. From
this cause domestic service in America has had less of mutual kindliness
than in old countries. Its terms have been so ill understood and defined
that both parties have assumed the defensive; and a common topic of
conversation in American female society has often been the general
servile war which in one form or another was going on in their different
families,--a war as interminable as would be a struggle between
aristocracy and common people, undefined by any bill of rights or
constitution, and therefore opening fields for endless disputes. In
England, the class who go to service _are_ a class, and service is a
profession; the distance between them and their employers is so marked
and defined, and all the customs and requirements of the position are so
perfectly understood, that the master or mistress has no fear of being
compromised by condescension, and no need of the external voice or air
of authority. The higher up in the social scale one goes, the more
courteous seems to become the intercourse of master and servant; the
more perfect and real the power, the more is it veiled in outward
expression,--commands are phrased as requests, and gentleness of voice
and manner covers an authority which no one would think of offending
without trembling.

But in America all is undefined. In the first place, there is no class
who mean to make domestic service a profession to live and die in. It is
universally an expedient, a stepping-stone to something higher; your
best servants always have something else in view as soon as they have
laid by a little money,--some form of independence which shall give them
a home of their own is constantly in mind. Families look forward to the
buying of landed homesteads, and the scattered brothers and sisters work
awhile in domestic service to gain the common fund for the purpose; your
seamstress intends to become a dress-maker, and take in work at her own
house; your cook is pondering a marriage with the baker, which shall
transfer her toils from your cooking-stove to her own. Young women are
eagerly rushing into every other employment, till female trades and
callings are all overstocked. We are continually harrowed with tales of
the sufferings of distressed needle-women, of the exactions and
extortions practised on the frail sex in the many branches of labor and
trade at which they try their hands; and yet women will encounter all
these chances of ruin and starvation rather than make up their minds to
permanent domestic service. Now what is the matter with domestic
service? One would think, on the face of it, that a calling which gives
a settled home, a comfortable room, rent-free, with fire and lights,
good board and lodging, and steady, well-paid wages, would certainly
offer more attractions than the making of shirts for tenpence, with all
the risks of providing one's own sustenance and shelter.

I think it is mainly from the want of a definite idea of the true
position of a servant under our democratic institutions that domestic
service is so shunned and avoided in America, that it is the very last
thing which an intelligent young woman will look to for a living. It is
more the want of personal respect toward those in that position than the
labors incident to it which repels our people from it. Many would be
willing to perform these labors, but they are not willing to place
themselves in a situation where their self-respect is hourly wounded by
_the implication of an inferiority which does not follow any other kind
of labor or service in this country but that of the family_.

There exists in the minds of employers an unsuspected spirit of
superiority, which is stimulated into an active form by the resistance
which democracy inspires in the working-class. Many families think of
servants only as a necessary evil, their wages as exactions, and all
that allowed them as so much taken from the family; and they seek in
every way to get from them as much and to give them as little as
possible. Their rooms are the neglected, ill-furnished, incommodious
ones,--and the kitchen is the most cheerless and comfortless place in
the house. Other families, more good-natured and liberal, provide their
domestics with more suitable accommodations, and are more indulgent; but
there is still a latent spirit of something like contempt for the
position. That they treat their servants with so much consideration
seems to them a merit entitling them to the most prostrate gratitude;
and they are constantly disappointed and shocked at that want of sense
of inferiority on the part of these people which leads them to
appropriate pleasant rooms, good furniture, and good living as mere
matters of common justice.

It seems to be a constant surprise to some employers that servants
should insist on having the same human wants as themselves. Ladies who
yawn in their elegantly furnished parlors, among books and pictures, if
they have not company, parties, or opera to diversify the evening, seem
astonished and half indignant that cook and chambermaid are more
disposed to go out for an evening gossip than to sit on hard chairs in
the kitchen where they have been toiling all day. The pretty
chambermaid's anxieties about her dress, the time she spends at her
small and not very clear mirror, are sneeringly noticed by those whose
toilet-cares take up serious hours; and the question has never
apparently occurred to them why a serving-maid should not want to look
pretty as well as her mistress. She is a woman as well as they, with all
a woman's wants and weaknesses; and her dress is as much to her as
theirs to them.

A vast deal of trouble among servants arises from impertinent
interferences and petty tyrannical exactions on the part of employers.
Now the authority of the master and mistress of a house in regard to
their domestics extends simply to the things they have contracted to do
and the hours during which they have contracted to serve; otherwise than
this, they have no more right to interfere with them in the disposal of
their time than with any mechanic whom they employ. They have, indeed, a
right to regulate the hours of their own household, and servants can
choose between conformity to these hours and the loss of their
situation; but, within reasonable limits, their right to come and go at
their own discretion, in their own time, should be unquestioned.

As to the terms of social intercourse, it seems somehow to be settled in
the minds of many employers that their servants owe them and their
family more respect than they and the family owe to the servants. But do
they? What is the relation of servant to employer in a democratic
country? Precisely that of a person who for money performs any kind of
service for you. The carpenter comes into your house to put up a set of
shelves,--the cook comes into your kitchen to cook your dinner. You
never think that the carpenter owes you any more respect than you owe to
him because he is in your house doing your behests; he is your
fellow-citizen, you treat him with respect, you expect to be treated
with respect by him. You have a claim on him that he shall do your work
according to your directions,--no more. Now I apprehend that there is a
very common notion as to the position and rights of servants which is
quite different from this. Is it not a common feeling that a servant is
one who may be treated with a degree of freedom by every member of the
family which he or she may not return? Do not people feel at liberty to
question servants about their private affairs, to comment on their dress
and appearance, in a manner which they would feel to be an impertinence,
if reciprocated? Do they not feel at liberty to express dissatisfaction
with their performances in rude and unceremonious terms, to reprove them
in the presence of company, while yet they require that the
dissatisfaction of servants shall be expressed only in terms of respect?
A woman would not feel herself at liberty to talk to her milliner or her
dress-maker in language as devoid of consideration as she will employ
towards her cook or chambermaid. Yet both are rendering her a service
which she pays for in money, and one is no more made her inferior
thereby than the other. Both have an equal right to be treated with
courtesy. The master and mistress of a house have a right to require
respectful treatment from all whom their roof shelters; but they have no
more right to exact it of servants than of every guest and every child,
and they themselves owe it as much to servants as to guests.

In order that servants may be treated with respect and courtesy, it is
not necessary, as in simpler patriarchal days, that they sit at the
family-table. Your carpenter or plumber does not feel hurt that you do
not ask him to dine with you, nor your milliner and mantua-maker that
you do not exchange ceremonious calls and invite them to your parties.
It is well understood that your relations with them are of a mere
business character. They never take it as an assumption of superiority
on your part that you do not admit them to relations of private
intimacy. There may be the most perfect respect and esteem and even
friendship between them and you, notwithstanding. So it may be in the
case of servants. It is easy to make any person understand that there
are quite other reasons than the assumption of personal superiority for
not wishing to admit servants to the family-privacy. It was not, in
fact, to sit in the parlor or at the table, in themselves considered,
that was the thing aimed at by New-England girls,--these were valued
only as signs that they were deemed worthy of respect and consideration,
and, where freely conceded, were often in point of fact declined.

Let servants feel, in their treatment by their employers, and in the
atmosphere of the family, that their position is held to be a
respectable one, let them feel in the mistress of the family the charm
of unvarying consideration and good manners, let their work-rooms be
made convenient and comfortable, and their private apartments bear some
reasonable comparison in point of agreeableness to those of other
members of the family, and domestic service will be more frequently
sought by a superior and self-respecting class. There are families in
which such a state of things prevails; and such families, amid the many
causes which unite to make the tenure of service uncertain, have
generally been able to keep good permanent servants.

There is an extreme into which kindly disposed people often run with
regard to servants, which may be mentioned here. They make pets of them.
They give extravagant wages and indiscreet indulgences, and, through
indolence and easiness of temper, tolerate negligence and neglect of
duty. Many of the complaints of the ingratitude of servants come from
those who have spoiled them in this way; while many of the longest and
most harmonious domestic unions have sprung from a simple, quiet course
of Christian justice and benevolence, a recognition of servants as
fellow-beings and fellow-Christians, and a doing to them as we would in
like circumstances that they should do to us.

The mistresses of American families, whether they like it or not, have
the duties of missionaries imposed upon them by that class from which
our supply of domestic servants is drawn. They may as well accept the
position cheerfully, and, as one raw, untrained hand after another
passes through their family, and is instructed by them in the mysteries
of good housekeeping, comfort themselves with the reflection that they
are doing something to form good wives and mothers for the Republic.

The complaints made of Irish girls are numerous and loud; the failings
of green Erin, alas! are but too open and manifest; yet, in arrest of
judgment, let us move this consideration: let us imagine our own
daughters between the ages of sixteen and twenty-four, untaught and
inexperienced in domestic affairs as they commonly are, shipped to a
foreign shore to seek service in families. It may be questioned whether
as a whole they would do much better. The girls that fill our families
and do our house-work are often of the age of our own daughters,
standing for themselves, without mothers to guide them, in a foreign
country, not only bravely supporting themselves, but sending home in
every ship remittances to impoverished friends left behind. If our
daughters did as much for us, should we not be proud of their energy and

When we go into the houses of our country, we find a majority of
well-kept, well-ordered, and even elegant establishments where the only
hands employed are those of the daughters of Erin. True, American women
have been their instructors, and many a weary hour of care have they had
in the discharge of this office; but the result on the whole is
beautiful and good, and the end of it, doubtless, will be peace.

In speaking of the office of the American mistress as being a missionary
one, we are far from recommending any controversial interference with
the religious faith of our servants. It is far better to incite them to
be good Christians in their own way than to run the risk of shaking
their faith in all religion by pointing out to them the errors of that
in which they have been educated. The general purity of life and
propriety of demeanor of so many thousands of undefended young girls
cast yearly upon our shores, with no home but their church, and no
shield but their religion, are a sufficient proof that this religion
exerts an influence over them not to be lightly trifled with. But there
is a real unity even in opposite Christian forms; and the Roman Catholic
servant and the Protestant mistress, if alike possessed by the spirit of
Christ, and striving to conform to the Golden Rule, cannot help being
one in heart, though one go to mass and the other to meeting.

Finally, the bitter baptism through which we are passing, the life-blood
dearer than our own which is drenching distant fields, should remind us
of the preciousness of distinctive American ideas. They who would seek
in their foolish pride to establish the pomp of liveried servants in
America are doing that which is simply absurd. A servant can never in
our country be the mere appendage to another man, to be marked like a
sheep with the color of his owner; he must be a fellow-citizen, with an
established position of his own, free to make contracts, free to come
and go, and having in his sphere titles to consideration and respect
just as definite as those of any trade or profession whatever.

Moreover, we cannot in this country maintain to any great extent large
retinues of servants. Even with ample fortunes they are forbidden by the
general character of society here, which makes them cumbrous and
difficult to manage. Every mistress of a family knows that her cares
increase with every additional servant. Two keep the peace with each
other and their employer; three begin a possible discord, which
possibility increases with four, and becomes certain with five or six.
Trained housekeepers, such as regulate the complicated establishments of
the Old World, form a class that are not, and from the nature of the
case never will be, found in any great numbers in this country. All such
women, as a general thing, are keeping, and prefer to keep, houses of
their own.

A moderate style of housekeeping, small, compact, and simple domestic
establishments, must necessarily be the general order of life in
America. So many openings of profit are to be found in this country,
that domestic service necessarily wants the permanence which forms so
agreeable a feature of it in the Old World.

American women must not try with three servants to carry on life
in the style which in the Old World requires sixteen,--they must
thoroughly understand, and be prepared _to teach_, every branch of
housekeeping,--they must study to make domestic service desirable, by
treating their servants in a way to lead them to respect themselves and
to feel themselves respected,--and there will gradually be evolved from
the present confusion a solution of the domestic problem which shall be
adapted to the life of a new and growing world.

       *       *       *       *       *


    When I beheld a lover woo
      A maid unwilling,
    And saw what lavish deeds men do,
      Hope's flagon filling,--
    What vines are tilled, what wines are spilled,
      And madly wasted,
    To fill the flask that's never filled,
      And rarely tasted:

    Devouring all life's heritage,
      And inly starving;
    Dulling the spirit's mystic edge,
      The banquet carving;
    Feasting with Pride, that Barmecide
      Of unreal dishes;
    And wandering ever in a wide,
      Wide world of wishes:

    For gain or glory lands and seas
      Endlessly ranging,
    Safety and years and health and ease
      Freely exchanging;
    Chiselling Humanity to dust
      Of glittering riches,
    God's blood-veined marble to a bust
      For Fame's cold niches:

    Desire's loose reins, and steed that stains
      The rider's raiment;
    Sorrow and sacrifice and pains
      For worthless payment:--
    When, ever as I moved, I saw
      The world's contagion,
    Then turned, O Love! to thy sweet law
      And compensation,--

    Well might red shame my cheek consume!
      O service slighted!
    O Bride of Paradise, to whom
      I long was plighted!
    Do I with burning lips profess
      To serve thee wholly,
    Yet labor less for blessedness
      Than fools for folly?

    The wary worldling spread his toils
      Whilst I was sleeping;
    The wakeful miser locked his spoils,
      Keen vigils keeping:
    I loosed the latches of my soul
      To pleading Pleasure,
    Who stayed one little hour, and stole
      My heavenly treasure.

    A friend for friend's sake will endure
      Sharp provocations;
    And knaves are cunning to secure,
      By cringing patience,
    And smiles upon a smarting cheek,
      Some dear advantage,--
    Swathing their grievances in meek
      Submission's bandage.

    Yet for thy sake I will not take
      One drop of trial,
    But raise rebellious hands to break
      The bitter vial.
    At hardship's surly-visaged churl
      My spirit sallies;
    And melts, O Peace! thy priceless pearl
      In passion's chalice.

    Yet never quite, in darkest night,
      Was I forsaken:
    Down trickles still some starry rill
      My heart to waken.
    O Love Divine! could I resign
      This changeful spirit
    To walk thy ways, what wealth of grace
      Might I inherit!

    If one poor flower of thanks to thee
      Be truly given,
    All night thou snowest down to me
      Lilies of heaven!
    One task of human love fulfilled,
      Thy glimpses tender
    My days of lonely labor gild
      With gleams of splendor!

    One prayer,--"Thy will, not mine!"--and bright,
      O'er all my being,
    Breaks blissful light, that gives to sight
      A subtler seeing;
    Straightway mine ear is tuned to hear
      Ethereal numbers,
    Whose secret symphonies insphere
      The dull earth's slumbers.

    "Thy will!"--and I am armed to meet
      Misfortune's volleys;
    For every sorrow I have sweet,
      Oh, sweetest solace!
    "Thy will!"--no more I hunger sore,
      For angels feed me;
    Henceforth for days, by peaceful ways,
      They gently lead me.

    For me the diamond dawns are set
      In rings of beauty,
    And all my paths are dewy wet
      With pleasant duty;
    Beneath the boughs of calm content
      My hammock swinging,
    In this green tent my eves are spent,
      Feasting and singing.

       *       *       *       *       *



As the most beautiful woman of her day, Madame Récamier is widely known;
as the friend of Châteaubriand and De Staël, she is scarcely less so. An
historic as well as literary interest is attached to her name; for she
lived throughout the most momentous and exciting period of modern times.
Her relations with influential and illustrious men of successive
revolutions were intimate and confidential; and though the _rôle_ she
played was but negative, the influence she exerted has closely connected
her with the political history of her country.

But interesting as her life is from this point of view, in its social
aspect it has a deeper significance. It is the life of a beautiful
woman,--and so varied and romantic, so fruitful in incident and rich in
experience, that it excites curiosity and invites speculation. It is a
life difficult, if not impossible, to understand. Herein lies its
peculiar and engrossing fascination. It is a curious web to unravel, a
riddle to solve, a problem at once stimulating and baffling. Like the
history of the times, it is full of puzzling contradictions and striking
contrasts. The daughter of a provincial notary, Madame Récamier was the
honored associate of princes. A married woman, she was a wife only in
name. A beauty and a belle, she was as much admired by her own as by the
other sex. A coquette, she changed passionate lovers into lifelong
friends. Accepting the open and exclusive homage of married men, she
continued on the best of terms with their wives. One day the mistress of
every luxury that wealth can command,--the next a bankrupt's wife. One
year the reigning "Queen of Society,"--the next a suspected exile. As
much flattered and courted when she was poor as while she was rich. Just
as fascinating when old and blind as while young and beautiful. Loss of
fortune brought no loss of power,--decline of beauty, no decrease of
admiration. Modelled by artists, flattered by princes, adored by women,
eulogized by men of genius, courted by men of letters,--the beloved of
the chivalric Augustus of Prussia, and the selfish, dreamy
Châteaubriand,--with the high-toned Montmorencys for her friends, and
the simple-minded Ballanche for her slave. Such were some of the
triumphs, such some of the contrasts in the life of this remarkable

It is hard to conceive of a more brilliant career, or of one more
calculated from its singularity to give rise to contradictory
impressions. This natural perplexity is much increased by the character
of Madame Récamier's memoirs, published in 1859, ten years after her
death. They are from the pen of Madame Lenormant, the niece of Monsieur
Récamier, and the adopted daughter of his wife. To her Madame Récamier
bequeathed her papers, with the request that she should write the
narrative of her life. Madame Lenormant had a delicate and difficult
task to execute. The life she was to portray was strictly a social one.
It was closely interwoven with the lives of other persons still living
or lately dead. She owed heavy obligations to both. It is, therefore,
not surprising, if her narrative is at times broken and obscure, and she
a too partial biographer. Not that Madame Lenormant can be called
untrustworthy. She cannot be accused of misrepresenting facts, but she
does what is almost as bad,--she partially states them. Her vague
allusions and half-and-half statements excite curiosity without
gratifying it. We also crave to know more than she tells us of the
heart-history of this woman who so captivated the world,--to see her
sometimes in the silence of solitude, alone with her own thoughts,--to
gain an insight into the inner, that we may more perfectly comprehend
the outward life which so perplexes and confounds. Instead of all this,
we have drawing-room interviews with the object of our interest. We see
her chiefly as she appeared in society. We have to be content with what
others say of her, in lieu of what she might say for herself. We hear of
her conquests, her social triumphs, we listen to panegyrics, but are
seldom admitted behind the scenes to judge for ourselves of what is gold
and what is tinsel. We, moreover, seek in vain for those unconscious
revelations so precious in divining character. The few letters of Madame
Récamier that are published have little or no significance. She was not
fond of writing, still she corresponded regularly with several of her
friends; but her correspondence, it seems, has not been obtained by her
biographer. The best insight we get, therefore, into the emotional part
of her nature is from indirect allusions in letters addressed to her,
and from conclusions drawn from her course of conduct in particular
cases. Some of the incidents of her life are so dramatic, that, if fully
and faithfully told, they would of themselves reveal the true character
of the woman, but as it is we have but little help from them. It is
impossible to resist the conviction that Madame Lenormant would not
hesitate to suppress any circumstances that might cast a shadow on the
memory of her aunt. It is true that she occasionally relates facts
tending to injure Madame Récamier, but it is plain to be seen that she
herself is totally unconscious of the nature and tendency of these
disclosures. Upon the publication of her book, these indiscretions
excited the displeasure of Madame Récamier's warm personal friends. One
of them, Madame Möhl, by birth an Englishwoman, undertook her defence.
This lady corrects a few slight inaccuracies of the "Souvenirs," and
since she cannot controvert its more important facts, she attempts to
explain them. Her sketch[A] of Madame Récamier is pleasant, from its
personal recollections, but far inferior to one by Sainte-Beuve,[B]
which is eminently significant. Neither, as sources of information, can
supply the place of the more voluminous and explicit "Souvenirs." It is
a little singular that this work has not been translated into English,
for, in spite of its lack of method, its diffuseness and
disproportionate developments, it is very attractive and interesting. It
is also highly valuable for its large collection of letters from
distinguished people. In the sketch we propose to make of Madame
Récamier's life, we shall rely mainly upon it for our facts, giving in
connection our own view of her character and career.

The beauty which first won celebrity for Madame Récamier was hers by
inheritance. Her father was a remarkably handsome man, but a person of
narrow capacity, who owed his advancement in life solely to the
exertions of his more capable wife. Madame Bernard was a beautiful
blonde. She was lively and _spirituelle_, coquettish and designing.
Through her influence with Calonne, minister under Louis XVI., Monsieur
Bernard was made _Receveur des Finances_. Upon this appointment, in
1784, they came to Paris, leaving their only child, Juliette, then seven
years old, at Lyons, in the care of an aunt, though she was soon
afterward placed in a convent, where she remained three years. Monsieur
and Madame Bernard's style of living in Paris was both elegant and
generous. Their house became the resort of the Lyonnese, and also of
literary men,--the latter being especially courted by Madame Bernard.
But, though seemingly given up to a life of gayety and pleasure, she did
not neglect her own interests. Her cleverness was of the Becky-Sharp
order. She knew how to turn the admiration she excited to her own
advantage. Having a faculty for business, she engaged in successful
speculations and amassed a fortune, which she carried safely through the
Reign of Terror. This is the more remarkable as Monsieur Bernard was a
known Royalist. He and his family and his wife's friends escaped not
only death, but also persecution; and Madame Lenormant attributes this
rare good-fortune to the agency of the infamous Barrère. Barrère's
cruelty was equalled only by his profligacy, his cunning by his
selfishness. Macaulay said of him, that "he approached nearer than any
person mentioned in history or fiction, whether man or devil, to the
idea of consummate and total depravity"; and everybody must remember the
famous comparison by which he illustrated Barrère's faculty of lying.
But even taking a much milder view of Barrère's character, it is a
matter of history by what terms the unfortunate victims of the
Revolution purchased of him their own lives and those of their friends,
and it is certain that his friendship and protection were no honor to
any woman. This view of their intimacy is confirmed by Madame Möhl. In
speaking of a rumor current in Madame Récamier's lifetime, which
reflected severely upon her mother, she says that Madame Bernard's
reputation had nothing to lose by this story, and mentions the favors
she received at the hands both of Calonne and Barrère.

Juliette Bernard was ten years old when she joined her parents in Paris,
where she was placed under the care of masters. She played with skill on
the harp and piano, and being passionately fond of music, it became her
solace and amusement at an advanced age. In her youth dancing was
equally a passion with her. The grace with which she executed the
shawl-dance suggested to Madame de Staël the dance-scene in "Corinne."
It is said that great care was bestowed upon her education; but as it is
also stated that long hours were passed at the toilette, that she was
the pet of all her mother's friends, who, as proud of her daughter's
beauty as she was of her own, took her constantly to the theatre and
public assemblies, little time could have been devoted to systematic
instruction. There is no mention made throughout her life of any
favorite studies or favorite books, and she was, moreover, married at

Monsieur Récamier was forty-four years old when he proposed for the hand
of Juliette Bernard. She accepted him without either reluctance or
distrust. Much sympathy has been lavished upon Madame Récamier on
account of this marriage, and her extreme youth is urged as an excuse
for this false step of her life. Still she did not take it blindly. Her
mother thought it her duty to lay before her all the objections to a
union where there existed such a disparity of age. No undue influence
was exerted, therefore, in favor of the marriage. Nor was Mademoiselle
Bernard as unsophisticated as French girls usually are at that age. Her
childhood had not been passed in seclusion. Since she was ten years old
she had been constantly in the society of men of letters and men of the
world. Under such influences girls ripen early, and in marrying Monsieur
Récamier she at least realized all her expectations. She did not look
for mutual affection; she expected to find in him a generous and
indulgent protector, and this anticipation was not disappointed. If she
discovered too late that she had other and greater needs, she was deeply
to be pitied, but the responsibility of the step must remain with her.
Madame Lenormant says of the union,--"It was simply an apparent one.
Madame Récamier was a wife only in name. This fact is astonishing. But I
am not bound to explain it, only to attest its truth, which all of
Madame Récamier's friends can confirm. Monsieur Récamier's relations to
his wife were strictly of a paternal character. He treated the young and
innocent child who bore his name as a daughter whose beauty charmed him
and whose celebrity flattered his vanity."

As an explanation of these singular relations, Madame Möhl states that
it was the general belief of Madame Récamier's contemporaries that she
was the own daughter of Monsieur Récamier, whom the unsettled state of
the times had induced him to marry; but there is not a shadow of
evidence in support of this hypothesis,--though, to make it more
probable, Madame Möhl adds, that "Madame Lenormant rather confirms than
contradicts this rumor." In this she is strangely mistaken. Madame
Lenormant does not allude to the report at all. Still she tacitly
contradicts it. Her account of Monsieur Récamier's course with regard to
the divorce proposed between him and his wife is of itself a sufficient
refutation of this idle story.

Monsieur Récamier was a tall, vigorous, handsome man, of easy, agreeable
manners. Perfectly polite, he was deficient in dignity, and preferred
the society of his inferiors to that of his equals. He wrote and spoke
Spanish with fluency, had some knowledge of Latin, and was fond of
quoting Horace and Virgil. "It would be difficult to find," says his
niece, "a heart more generous than his, more easily moved, and yet more
volatile. Let a friend need his time, his money, his advice, it was
immediately at his service; but let that same friend be taken away by
death, he would scarcely give two days to regret: '_Encore un tiroir
fermé'_, he would say, and there would end his sensibility. Always ready
to give and willing to serve, he was a good companion, and benevolent
and gay in his temper. He carried his optimism to excess, and was always
content with everybody and everything. He had fine natural abilities,
and the gift of expression, being a good story-teller." He was married
in 1793, the most gloomy period of the Reign of Terror, and went every
day to see the executions, wishing, he said, to familiarize himself with
the fate he had every reason to fear would be his own.

The first four years of her marriage were passed by Madame Récamier in
retirement, but when the government was settled under the Consulate she
mingled freely and gayly in society. This was probably the happiest
period of her life. Her husband was at the height of financial
prosperity, and lavished every luxury upon his beautiful wife. Both
their country-seat at Clichy and their town-house in the Rue Mont Blanc
were models of elegant taste. Large dinner-parties and balls were given
at the latter, but all the intimate friends went to Clichy, where Madame
Récamier chiefly resided with her mother. Her husband only dined there,
driving in to Paris every night. She was very fond of flowers, and
filled her rooms with them. At that time floral decorations were a
novelty, and another attraction was added to the charms of Clichy. Not
only there, but in society, Madame Récamier reigned a queen. She had
been pronounced by acclamation "the most beautiful," and she enjoyed her
triumphs with all the gayety and freshness of youth. Madame Lenormant
asserts that she was unconscious of her beauty, and yet, with an amusing
inconsistency, she adds that Madame Récamier always dressed in white and
wore pearls in preference to other jewels, that the dazzling whiteness
of her skin might eclipse their softness and purity. It was, in fact,
impossible to be unconscious of a beauty so ravishing that it
intoxicated all beholders. At the theatre, at the promenade, at public
assemblies, she was followed by admiring throngs.

"She was sensible," writes one who knew her well, "of every look, every
word of admiration,--the exclamation of a child or a woman of the
people, equally with the declaration of a prince. In crowds from the
side of her elegant carriage, which advanced slowly, she thanked each
for his admiration by a motion of the head and a smile."

As an instance of the effect she produced, Madame Lenormant gives the
testimony of a contemporary, Madame Regnauld de Saint-Jean d'Angely,
who, talking over her own beauty and that of other women of her youth,
named Madame Récamier. "Others," she said, "were more truly beautiful,
but none produced so much effect. I was in a drawing-room where I
charmed and captivated all eyes. Madame Récamier entered. The brilliancy
of her eyes, which were not, however, very large, the inconceivable
whiteness of her shoulders, crushed and eclipsed everybody. She was
resplendent. At the end of a moment, however, the true amateurs returned
to me."

It was not her own countrymen alone who raved about her beauty. The
sober-minded English people were quite as much impressed. When she
visited England during the short peace of Amiens, she created intense
excitement. The journals recorded her movements, and on one occasion in
Kensington Gardens the crowd was so great that she narrowly escaped
being crushed. At the Opera she was obliged to steal away early to avoid
a similar annoyance, and then barely succeeded in reaching her carriage.
Châteaubriand tells us that her portrait, engraved by Bartolozzi, and
spread throughout England, was carried thence to the isles of Greece.
Ballanche, remarking on this circumstance, said that it was "beauty
returning to the land of its birth."

Years after, when the allied sovereigns were in Paris, and Madame
Récamier thirty-eight years old, the effect of her beauty was just as
striking. Madame de Krüdener, celebrated for her mysticism and the power
she exerted over the Emperor Alexander, then held nightly reunions,
beginning with prayer and ending in a more worldly fashion. Madame
Récamier's entrance always caused distraction, and Madame de Krüdener
commissioned Benjamin Constant to write and beseech her to be less
charming. As this piquant note will lose its flavor by translation, we
give it in the original.

"Je m'acquitte avec un peu d'embarras d'une commission que Mme. de
Krüdener vient de me donner. Elle vous supplie de venir la moins belle
que vous pourrez. Elle dit que vous éblouissez tout le monde, et que par
là toutes les âmes sont troublées, et toutes les attentions impossibles.
Vous ne pouvez pas déposer votre charme, mais ne le rehaussez pas."

Madame Récamier's personal appearance at eighteen is thus described by
her niece:--

"A figure flexible and elegant; neck and shoulders admirably formed and
proportioned; a well-poised head; a small, rosy mouth, pearly teeth,
charming arms, though a little small, and black hair that curled
naturally. A nose delicate and regular, but _bien français_, and an
incomparable brilliancy of complexion. A countenance full of candor, and
sometimes beaming with mischief, which the expression of goodness
rendered irresistibly lovely. There was a shade of indolence and pride
in her gestures, and what Saint Simon said of the Duchess of Burgundy is
equally applicable to her: 'Her step was that of a goddess on the

Madame Récamier retained her beauty longer than is usual even with
Frenchwomen, nor did she seek to repair it by any artificial means. "She
did not struggle," says Sainte-Beuve, "she resigned herself gracefully
to the first touch of Time. She understood, that, for one who had
enjoyed such success as a beauty, to seem yet beautiful was to make no
pretensions. A friend who had not seen her for many years complimented
her upon her looks. 'Ah, my dear friend,' she replied, 'it is useless
for me to deceive myself. From the moment I noticed that the little
Savoyards in the street no longer turned to look at me, I comprehended
that all was over.'" There is pathos in this simple acknowledgment, this
quiet renunciation. Was it the result of secret struggles which taught
her that all regret was vain, and that to contrast the present with the
past was but a useless and torturing thing for a woman?

But at the time of which we write Madame Récamier had no sad realities
to ponder. She was surrounded by admirers, with the liberty which French
society accords to married women, and the freedom of heart of a young
girl. She was still content to be simply admired. She understood neither
the world nor her own heart. Her life was too gay for reflection, nor
had the time arrived for it: "all analysis comes late." It is not until
we have in a measure ceased to be actors, and have accepted the more
passive _rôle_ of spectators, that we begin to reflect upon ourselves
and upon life. And Madame Récamier had not tired of herself, or of the
world. She was too young to be heart-weary, and she knew nothing yet of
the burdens and perplexities of life. All her wishes were gratified
before they were fairly expressed, and she had neither anxieties nor

Her first vexation came with her first lover. It was in the spring of
1799 that Madame Récamier met Lucien Bonaparte at a dinner. He was then
twenty-four, and she twenty-two. He asked permission to visit her at
Clichy, and made his appearance there the next day. He first wrote to
her, declaring his love, under the name of Romeo, and she, taking
advantage of the subterfuge, returned his letter in the presence of
other friends, with a compliment on its cleverness, while she advised
him not to waste his ability on works of imagination, when it could be
so much better employed in politics. Lucien was not thus to be repulsed.
He then addressed her in his own name, and she showed the letters to her
husband, and asked his advice. Monsieur Récamier was more politic than
indignant. His wife wished to forbid Lucien the house, but he feared
that such extreme measures toward the brother of the First Consul might
compromise, if not ruin, his bank. He therefore advised her neither to
encourage nor repulse him. Lucien continued his attentions for a
year,--the absurd emphasis of his manners at times amusing Madame
Récamier, while at others his violence excited her fears. At last,
becoming conscious that he was making himself ridiculous, he gave up the
pursuit in despair. Some time after he had discontinued his visits he
sent a friend to demand his letters; but Madame Récamier refused to give
them up. He sent a second time, adding menace to persuasion; but she was
firm in her refusal. It was rumored that Lucien was a favored lover, and
he was anxious to be so considered. His own letters were the strongest
proof to the contrary, and as such they were kept and guarded by Madame
Récamier. But the unpleasant gossip to which his attentions gave rise
was a source of great annoyance to her. If it was her first vexation, it
was not the only one of the same kind. Madame Lenormant makes no
allusion, to any other, but in the lately published correspondence of
Madame de Staël[C] we find among the letters to Madame Récamier one
which consoles her under what was probably a somewhat similar trouble.
"I hear from Monsieur Hochet that you have a chagrin. I hope by the time
you have read this letter it will have passed away.... There is nothing
to dread but truth and material persecution; beyond these two things
enemies can do absolutely nothing. And what an enemy! only a
contemptible woman who is jealous of your beauty and purity united."

It was at a _fête_ given by Lucien that Madame Récamier had her first
and only interview with the First Consul. On entering the drawing-room,
she mistook him for his brother Joseph, and bowed to him. He returned
her salutation with _empressement_ mingled with surprise. Looking at her
closely, he spoke to Fouché, who leaned over her chair and whispered,
"The First Consul finds you charming." When Lucien approached, Napoleon,
who was no stranger to his brother's passion, said aloud, "And I, too,
would like to go to Clichy!" When dinner was announced, he rose and left
the room alone, without offering his arm to any lady. As Madame Récamier
passed out, Eliza (Madame Bacciocchi), who did the honors in the absence
of Madame Lucien, who was indisposed, requested her to take the seat
next to the First Consul. Madame Récamier did not understand her, and
seated herself at a little distance, and on Cambacères, the Second
Consul, occupying the seat by her side, Napoleon exclaimed, "_Ah, ah,
citoyen consul, auprès de la plus belle_!" He ate very little and very
fast, and at the end of half an hour left the table abruptly, and
returned to the drawing-room. He afterward asked Madame Récamier why she
had not sat next to him at dinner. "I should not have presumed," she
said. "It was your place," he replied; and his sister added, "That was
what I said to you before dinner." A concert following, Napoleon stood
alone by the piano, but, not fancying the instrumental part of the
performance, at the end of a piece by Jadin, he struck on the piano and
cried, "Garat! Garat!" who then sang a scene from "Orpheus." Music
always profoundly moved Madame Récamier, but whenever she raised her
eyes she found those of the Consul fixed upon her with so much intensity
that she became uncomfortable. After the concert, he came to her and
said, "You are very fond of music, Madame," and would probably have
continued the conversation, had not Lucien interrupted. Madame Récamier
confessed that she was prepossessed by Napoleon at this interview. She
was evidently gratified by his attentions, scanty and slight as they
seem to us. Indeed, his whole conduct during the dinner and concert was
decidedly discourteous, if not positively rude. Madame Lenormant
attributes Napoleon's subsequent attempt to attach Madame Récamier to
his court to the strong impression she made upon him at this interview,
and gives Fouché as her authority. Still, if this were the case, it is
rather strange that Napoleon did not follow up the acquaintance more
speedily. It was not until five years afterwards that he made the
overtures to which Madame Lenormant refers,--and then Madame Récamier
had long been in the ranks of the Opposition. It was Napoleon's policy
to conciliate, if possible, his political opponents. He had succeeded in
gaining over Bernadotte, of whose intrigues against him Madame Récamier
had been the _confidante_, and he concluded that she also could be as
easily won. He accordingly sent Fouché to her, who, after several
preliminary visits, proposed that she should apply for a position at
court. As Madame Récamier did not heed his suggestions, he spoke more
openly. "He protested that the place would give her entire liberty, and
then, seizing with finesse upon the inducements most powerful with a
generous spirit, he dwelt upon the eminent services she might render to
the oppressed of all classes, and also the good influence so attractive
a woman would exert over the mind of the Emperor. 'He has not yet,' he
added, 'found a woman worthy of him, and no one knows what the love of
Napoleon would be, if he attached himself to a pure person,--assuredly
she would obtain a power over him which would be entirely beneficent.'"
If Madame Récamier listened with politic calmness to these disgraceful
overtures, she gave Fouché no encouragement. But he was not easily
discouraged. He planned another interview with her at the house of the
Princess Caroline, who added her persuasions to his. The conversation
turning on Talma, who was then performing at the French theatre, the
Princess put her box, which was opposite the Emperor's, at Madame
Récamier's disposal; she used it twice, and each time the Emperor was
present, and kept his glass so constantly in her direction that it was
generally remarked, and it was reported that she was on the eve of high
favor. Upon further persistence on the part of Fouché, Madame Récamier
gave him a decided refusal. He was vehemently indignant, and left Clichy
never to return thither. In the St. Helena Memorial, Napoleon attributes
Madame Récamier's rejection of his overtures to personal resentment on
account of her father. In 1800 Monsieur Bernard had been appointed
_Administrateur des Postes_; being implicated in a Royalist conspiracy,
he was imprisoned, but finally set at liberty through the intercession
of Bernadotte. Napoleon believed that Madame Récamier resented her
father's removal from office, but she was too thankful at his release
from prison to expect any further favors. Her dislike of the Emperor
was caused by his treatment of her friends, more particularly of the one
dearest to her, Madame de Staël.

The friendship between these women was highly honorable to both, though
the sacrifices were chiefly on Madame Récamier's side. She espoused
Madame de Staël's cause with zeal and earnestness; and when the latter
was banished forty leagues from Paris, she found an asylum with her.
Among the few fragments of autobiography preserved by Madame Lenormant
is this account of the first interview between the friends.

"One day, which I count an epoch in my life, Monsieur Récamier arrived
at Clichy with a lady whom he did not introduce, but whom he left alone
with me while he joined some other persons in the park. This lady came
about the sale and purchase of a house. Her dress was peculiar. She wore
a morning-robe, and a little dress-hat decorated with flowers. I took
her for a foreigner, and was struck with the beauty of her eyes and of
her expression. I cannot analyze my sensations, but it is certain I was
more occupied in divining who she was than in paying her the usual
courtesies, when she said to me, with a lively and penetrating grace,
that she was truly enchanted to know me; that her father, Monsieur
Necker.... At these words, I recognized Madame de Staël! I did not hear
the rest of her sentence. I blushed. My embarrassment was extreme. I had
just read with enthusiasm her letters on Rousseau, and I expressed what
I felt more by my looks than by my words. She intimidated and attracted
me at the same time. I saw at once that she was a perfectly natural
person, of a superior nature. She, on her side, fixed upon me her great
black eyes, but with a curiosity full of benevolence, and paid me
compliments which would have seemed too exaggerated, had they not
appeared to escape her, thus giving to her words an irresistible
seduction. My embarrassment did me no injury. She understood it, and
expressed a wish to see more of me on her return to Paris, as she was
then on the eve of starting for Coppet. She was at that time only an
apparition in my life, but the impression was a lively one. I thought
only of Madame de Staël, I was so much affected by her strong and ardent

The sweet serenity of Madame Récamier's nature soothed the more restless
and tumultuous spirit of her friend. The unaffected veneration, too, of
one so beautiful touched and gratified the woman of genius. Still, this
intimacy was not unmixed with bitterness for Madame de Staël. But it
troubled only her own heart, not the common friendship. She continually
contrasted Madame Récamier's beauty with her own plain appearance, her
friend's power of fascination with her own lesser faculty of
interesting, and she repeatedly declared that Madame Récamier was the
most enviable of human beings. But in comparing the lives of the two, as
they now appear to us, Madame de Staël seems the more fortunate. If her
married life was uncongenial, she had children to love and cherish, to
whom she was fondly attached. Madame Récamier was far more isolated.
Years had made her entirely independent of her husband, and she had no
children upon whom to lavish the wealth of her affection. Her mother's
death left her comparatively alone in the world, for she had neither
brother nor sister, and her father seems to have had but little hold on
her heart, all her love being lavished on her mother. She had a host of
friends, it is true, but the closest friendship is but a poor substitute
for the natural ties of affection. Both these women sighed for what they
had not. The one yearned for love, the other for the liberty of loving.
Madame Récamier was dependent for her enjoyments on society, while
Madame de Staël had rich and manifold resources within herself, which no
caprice of friends could materially affect, and no reverse of fortune
impair. Her poetic imagination and creative thought were inexhaustible
treasures. Solitude could never be irksome to her. Her genius brought
with it an inestimable blessing. It gave her a purpose in
life,--consequently she was never in want of occupation; and if at
intervals she bitterly felt that heart-loneliness which Mrs. Browning
has so touchingly expressed in verse,--

    "'My father!'--thou hast knowledge, only thou!
    How dreary 't is for women to sit still
    On winter nights by solitary fires,
    And hear the nations praising them far off,
    Too far! ay, praising our quick sense of love,
    Our very heart of passionate womanhood,
    Which could not beat so in the verse without
    Being present also in the unkissed lips,
    And eyes undried because there's none to ask
    The reason they grew moist,"--

in the excitement and ardor of composition such feelings slumbered,
while in the honest and pure satisfaction of work well done they were
for the time extinguished. Madame Récamier, though beautiful and
beloved, had no such precious compensations. She depended for her
happiness upon her friends, and they who rely upon others for their
chief enjoyments must meet with bitter and deep disappointments. Madame
Récamier had great triumphs which secured to her moments of rapture.
When the crowd worshipped her beauty, she probably experienced the same
delirium of joy, the same momentary exultation, that a _prima donna_
feels when called before an excited and enthusiastic audience. But
satiety and chagrin surely follow such triumphs, and she lived to feel
their hollowness.

In a letter to her adopted daughter, she says,--"I hope you will be more
happy than I have been"; and she confessed to Sainte-Beuve, that more
than once in her most brilliant days, in the midst of _fêtes_ where she
reigned a queen, she disengaged herself from the crowd surrounding her
and retired to weep in solitude. Surely so sad a woman was not to be

Another friend of Madame Récamier's youth, whose friendship in a marked
degree influenced her life, was Matthieu de Montmorency. He was
seventeen years older than she, and may with emphasis be termed her best
friend. A devout Roman Catholic, he awakened and strengthened her
religious convictions, and constantly warned her of the perils
surrounding her. Much as he evidently admired and loved her, he did not
hesitate to utter unwelcome truths. Vicomte, afterward Duc de
Montmorency, belonged to one of the oldest families of France, but,
espousing the Revolutionary cause, he was the first to propose the
abolition of the privileges of the nobility. He was married early in
life to a woman without beauty, to whom he was profoundly indifferent,
and soon separated from her, though from family motives the tie was
renewed in after-years. In his youth he had been gay and dissipated; but
the death of a favorite brother, who fell a victim to the Revolution,
changed and sobered him. From an over-sensibility, he believed himself
to be the cause of his brother's death on account of the part he had
taken in hastening the Revolution, and he strove to atone for this
mistake, as well as for his youthful follies, by a life of austerity and
piety. While his letters testify his great affection for Madame
Récamier, they are entirely free from those lover-like protestations and
declarations of eternal fidelity so characterise of her other masculine
correspondents. He always addressed her as "_amiable amis_", and his
nearest approach to gallantry is the expression of a hope that "in
prayer their thoughts had often mingled, and might continue so to do."
He ends a long letter of religious counsel with this grave warning:--"Do
what is good and amiable, what will not rend the heart or leave any
regrets behind. But in the name of God renounce all that is unworthy of
you, and which under no circumstances can ever render you happy."

Adrien de Montmorency, Duke of Laval, if not so near and dear a friend,
was quite as devoted an admirer of Madame Récamier as his cousin
Matthieu. His son also wore her chains, and frequently marred the
pleasure of his father's visits by his presence. In reference to the
family's devotion, Adrien wrote to her,--"My son is fascinated by you,
and you know that I am so also. It is the fate of the Montmorencys,--

    "'Ils ne mouraient pas tous, mais tout étaient frappés.'"

Adrien was a man of wit, and he had more ability than Matthieu. "Of all
your admirers," writes Madame de Staël, in a letter given in
Châteaubriand's Memoirs, "you know that I prefer Adrien de Montmorency.
I have just received one of his letters, which is remarkable for wit and
grace, and I believe in the durability of his affections,
notwithstanding the charm of his manners. Besides, this word durability
is becoming in me, who have but a secondary place in his heart. But you
are the heroine of all those sentiments out of which grow tragedies and

Other admirers succeeded the Montmorencys. The masked balls, fashionable
under the Empire, were occasions for fresh conquests. Madame Récamier
attended them regularly under the protection of an elder brother of her
husband, and had many piquant adventures. Prince Metternich was devoted
to her one season, and when Lent put an end to festivity, he visited her
privately in the morning, that he might not incur the Emperor's
displeasure. Napoleon's animosity had now become marked and positive. On
one occasion, when three of his ministers met accidentally at her house,
he heard of it, and asked petulantly how long since had the council been
held at Madame Récamier's? He was especially jealous of foreign
ministers, and treated with so much haughtiness any who frequented her
_salon_, that, as a matter of prudence, they saw her only in society or
visited her by stealth. The Duke of Mecklenburg, whom she met at one of
the masked balls, was extremely anxious to keep up her acquaintance. She
declined the honor, alleging the Emperor's jealousy as reason for her
refusal. He persuaded her, however, to grant him an interview, and she
appointed an evening when she did not generally receive visitors.
Stealing into the house in an undignified manner, the Duke was collared
by the _concierge_, who mistook him for a thief. This ill-fortune did
not deter him, however, from visiting her frequently. Years after, he
wrote,--"Among the precious souvenirs which I owe to you is one I
particularly cherish. It is the eminently noble and generous course you
pursued toward me, when Napoleon had said openly, in the _salon_ of the
Empress Josephine, that he 'should regard as his personal enemy any
foreigner who frequented the _salon_ of Madame Récamier.'"

Madame Récamier was to feel yet more severely the effects of the
Emperor's displeasure. In the autumn of 1806 the banking-house of
Monsieur Récamier became embarrassed, through financial disorders in
Spain. Their difficulties would have been temporary, had the Bank of
France granted them a loan on good security. This favor was refused, and
the house failed. While the decision of the bank was yet uncertain,
Monsieur Récamier confided to his wife the desperate state of his
affairs, and deputed her to do, the next day, the honors of a large
dinner-party, which could not be postponed, lest suspicion should be
excited. He went into the country, completely overwhelmed, and awaited
there the result of his application. Madame Récamier forced herself to
appear as usual. No one suspected the agony of her mind. She afterwards
said that she felt the whole evening as though she were a prey to some
horrible nightmare. In contrasting the conduct of the husband and wife,
Madame Lenormant is scarcely just to the former. Acutely as Madame
Récamier dreaded the impending ruin, it could not be to her what it was
to her husband. A fearful responsibility rested upon him. The failure of
his house was not only disaster and possible dishonor, but the ruin of
thousands who had confided in him. A strong intellect might well be
bowed down under the apprehension of such a catastrophe. Women, too, are
proverbially calmer in such emergencies than men. To them it simply
means sacrifice, but to men it is infinitely more than that.

When the blow fell, Monsieur Récamier met it manfully. He gave up
everything to his creditors, who had so much confidence in his integrity
that they put him at the head of the settlement of liquidation. Madame
Récamier was equally honorable. She sold all her jewels. They disposed
of their plate, and offered the house in the Rue Mont Blanc for sale. As
a purchaser could not immediately be found, they removed to the
ground-floor and let the other stories. This reverse of fortune involved
more than personal sacrifices. Madame Récamier was both generous and
charitable, and had dispensed her benefits with an open hand. She had,
with the aid of friends, founded a school for orphans, and had numerous
claims upon her bounty. To be restricted in her charities must have been
a sore trial. Further mortifications she was spared, for she was treated
with greater deference than ever. Her friends redoubled their
attentions, her door was besieged by callers, who vied with each other
in showing sympathy and respect. Junot was one of her firmest friends at
this crisis. Witnessing, in Paris, the attentions she received, he spoke
of them to the Emperor, when he rejoined him in Germany. He was checked
by Napoleon, who pettishly remarked that they could not have paid more
homage to the widow of a marshal of France fallen on the field of

Junot was not the only general of the Emperor who was concerned at her
reverse of fortune. Bernadotte, whom Sainte-Beuve numbers among her
lovers, and whose letters confirm this idea, wrote to her from Germany,
expressing his sympathy. Madame de Staël was sensibly afflicted. "Dear
Juliette," she writes, "we have enjoyed the luxury which surrounded you.
Your fortune has been ours, and I feel ruined because you are no longer

Another anxiety now weighed heavily upon Madame Récamier. Her mother's
health had long been failing, and the misfortunes of her son-in-law were
more than her shattered constitution could bear. She died six months
after the failure, leaving her fortune to her daughter, though her
husband was still living. To the last she was devoted to dress and
society. Throughout her illness she insisted upon being becomingly
dressed every day, and supported to a couch, where she received her
friends for several hours.

After Madame Bernard's death, her daughter passed six months in
retirement, but, her grief affecting her health, she was induced by
Madame de Staël to visit her at Coppet. Here she met the exiled Prince
Augustus of Prussia, nephew of Frederick the Great. We find in the
"Seaforth Papers," lately published in England, an allusion to this
Prince, who visited London in the train of the allied sovereigns in
1814. A lady writes, "All the ladies are desperately in love with
him,--his eyes are so fine, his moustaches so black, and his teeth so
white." Madame Lenormant describes him as extremely handsome, brave,
chivalric, and loyal. He was twenty-four when he fell passionately in
love with Madame de Staël's beautiful guest, to whom he at once proposed
a divorce and marriage. We give Madame Lenormant's account of his

"Three months passed in the enchantments of a passion by which Madame
Récamier was profoundly touched, if she did not share it. Everything
conspired to favor Prince Augustus. The imagination of Madame de Staël,
easily seduced by anything poetical and singular, made her an eloquent
auxiliary of the Prince. The place itself, those beautiful shores of
Lake Geneva, peopled by romantic phantoms, had a tendency to bewilder
the judgment. Madame Récamier was moved. For a moment she welcomed an
offer of marriage which was not only a proof of the passion, but of the
esteem of a prince of a royal house, deeply impressed by the weight of
its own prerogatives and the greatness of its rank. Vows were exchanged.
The tie which united the beautiful Juliette to Monsieur Récamier was one
which the Catholic Church itself proclaimed null. Yielding to the
sentiment with which she inspired the Prince, Juliette wrote to Monsieur
Récamier, requesting the rupture of their union. He replied that he
would consent to a divorce, if it was her wish, but he made an appeal to
her feelings. He recalled the affection he had shown her from childhood.
He even expressed regret at having respected her susceptibilities and
repugnances, thus preventing a closer bond of union, which would have
made all thoughts of a separation impossible. Finally he requested,
that, if Madame Récamier persisted in her project, the divorce should
not take place in Paris, but out of France, where he would join her to
arrange matters."

This letter had the desired effect. Madame Récamier concluded not to
abandon her husband, and returned to Paris, but without undeceiving the
Prince, who started for Berlin. According to her biographer, Madame
Récamier trusted that absence would soften the disappointment she had in
store for him; but, if this was the case, the means she took to
accomplish it were very inadequate. She sent him her portrait soon after
her return to Paris, which the Prince acknowledged in a letter, of which
the following is an extract:--

    "_April 24th_, 1808.

    "I hope that my letter of the 31st has already been received. I
    could only very feebly express to you the happiness I felt on the
    receipt of your last, but it will give you some idea of my
    sensations when reading it, and in receiving your portrait. For
    whole hours I looked at this enchanting picture, dreaming of a
    happiness which must surpass the most delicious reveries of
    imagination. What fate can be compared to that of the man whom you

When Madame Récamier subsequently wrote to him more candidly, the Prince
was astonished. "Your letter was a thunderbolt," he replied; but he
would not accept her decision, and claimed the right of seeing her
again. Three years passed in uncertainty, and in 1811 Madame Récamier
consented to meet him at Schaffhausen; but she did not fulfil her
engagement, giving the sentence of exile which had just been passed upon
her as an excuse. The Prince, after waiting in vain, wrote indignantly
to Madame de Staël, "I hope I am now cured of a foolish love, which I
have nourished for four years." But when the news of her exile reached
him, he wrote to her expressing his sympathy, but at the same time
reproaching her for her breach of faith. "After four years of absence I
hoped to see you again, and this exile seemed to furnish you with a
pretext for coming to Switzerland. But you have cruelly deceived me. I
cannot conceive, if you could not or would not see me, why you did not
condescend to tell me so, and I might have been spared a useless journey
of three hundred leagues."

Madame Récamier's conduct to the Prince, even viewed in the light of her
biographer's representations, is scarcely justifiable. Madame Möhl
attempts to defend her. She alleges, that, at the time Prince Augustus
was paying his addresses to her, he had contracted a left-handed
marriage at Berlin. Even if this story be true, there is no evidence
that Madame Récamier was then acquainted with the fact, and if she had
been, there was only the more reason for breaking with the Prince at
once, instead of keeping him so long alternating between hope and
despair. In speaking of him to Madame Möhl, Madame Récamier said that he
was desperately in love, but he was very gallant and had many other
fancies. The impression she made upon him, however, seems to have been
lasting. Three months before his death, in 1845, he wrote to her that
the ring she had given him should follow him to the tomb, and her
portrait, painted by Gérard, was, at his death, returned to her by his
orders. Either the Prince had two portraits of Madame Récamier, or else
Madame Lenormant's statements are contradictory. She says that her aunt
sent him her portrait soon after her return to Paris, and the date of
the Prince's letter acknowledging the favor confirms this statement. It
is afterward asserted that Madame Récamier gave him her portrait in
exchange for one of Madame de Staël, painted by Gérard, as Corinne.

The next important event in Madame Récamier's life is her exile, caused
by a visit she paid Madame de Staël when the surveillance exercised over
the latter by the government had become more rigorous. Montmorency had
been already exiled for the same offence. But, disregarding this
warning, Madame Récamier persisted in going to Coppet, and though she
only remained one night there, she was exiled forty leagues from Paris.

She bore her exile with dignity. She would not solicit a recall, and she
forbade those of her friends, who, like Junot, were on familiar terms
with the Emperor, to mention her name in his presence. She doubtless
felt all its deprivations, even more keenly than Madame de Staël, though
she made no complaints. Her means were narrow, as she does not appear to
have been in the full possession of her mother's fortune until after the
Restoration. She had lived, with scarcely an interruption, a life of
society; now she was thrown on her own resources, with little except
music to cheer and enliven her. It was not only the loss of Paris that
exiles under the Empire had to endure. They were subjected to an
annoying surveillance by the police, and even the friends who paid them
any attention became objects of suspicion.

The first eight months of her exile Madame Récamier passed at Chalons.
She had for companionship a little niece of her husband's, whom she had
previously adopted. At the suggestion of Madame de Staël, she removed to
Lyons, where Monsieur Récamier had many influential relatives. Here she
formed an intimacy with a companion in misfortune, the high-spirited
Duchess of Chevreuse, whose proud refusal to enter into the service of
the captive Spanish Queen was the cause of her exile. "I can be a
prisoner," she replied, when the offer was made to her, "but I will
never be a jailer."

Though the society of friends offered Madame Récamier many diversions,
she was often a prey to melancholy. The Duchess D'Abrantes, who saw her
here, casually mentions her dejection in her Memoirs, and Châteaubriand
says that the separation from Madame de Staël weighed heavily upon her
spirits. He also alludes to a coolness between the friends, caused by
Madame de Staël's marriage with Monsieur de Rocca. The desire to keep
this connection secret induced Madame de Staël to write to her friend,
declining a proposed visit from her, on the plea that she was about to
leave Switzerland. Châteaubriand asserts that Madame Récamier felt this
slight severely, but Madame Lenormant makes no allusion to the

At Lyons Madame Récamier met the author, Monsieur Ballanche. He was
presented to her by Camille Jordan, and, in the words of her biographer,
"from that moment Monsieur Ballanche belonged to Madame Récamier." He
was the least exacting of any of her friends. All he asked was to devote
his life to her, and to be allowed to worship her. His friends called
her his Beatrice. As he was an extremely awkward and ugly man, the two
might have been termed with equal propriety "Beauty and the Beast."
Monsieur Ballanche's face had been frightfully disfigured by an
operation, and though his friends thought that his fine eyes and
expression redeemed his appearance, he was, to strangers, particularly
unprepossessing. He was, moreover, very absent-minded. When he joined
Madame Récamier at Rome, she noticed, during an evening walk with him,
that he had no hat. In reply to her questions, he quietly said, "Oh,
yes, he had left it at Alexandria." He had, in fact, forgotten it; and
it never occurred to him to replace it by another. Madame Lenormant
relates an anecdote of his second interview with Madame Récamier, which
is illustrative of his simplicity.

"He found her alone, working on embroidery. The conversation at first
languished, but soon became interesting,--for, though Monsieur Ballanche
had no chit-chat, he talked extremely well on subjects which interested
him, such as philosophy, morals, politics, and literature.
Unfortunately, his shoes had an odor about them which was very
disagreeable to Madame Récamier. It finally made her faint, and,
overcoming with difficulty the embarrassment she felt in speaking of so
prosaic an annoyance, she timidly avowed to him that the smell of his
shoes was unpleasant. Monsieur Ballanche apologized, humbly regretting
that she had not spoken before, and then went out of the room. He
returned in a few moments without his shoes, resumed his seat, and
continued the conversation. Other persons came in, and noticing him in
this situation, he said, by way of explanation, 'The smell of my shoes
annoyed Madame Récamier, so I left them in the antechamber.'"

After the death of his father, Monsieur Ballanche left Lyons, and passed
the rest of his life in the society of her whom he worshipped with so
single-minded a devotion.

Madame Récamier subsequently left Lyons for Italy, and the next new
admirer whose attentions we have to chronicle is Canova. During her stay
in Rome he wrote a note to her every morning, and the heat of the city
growing excessive, he invited her to share his lodgings at Albano.
Taking with her her niece and waiting-maid, she became his guest for two
months. A Roman artist painted a picture of this retreat, with Madame
Récamier sitting near a window, reading. Canova sent the picture to her
in 1816. When she left Rome for a short absence, Canova modelled two
busts of her from memory, in the hope of giving her a pleasant
surprise,--one with the hair simply arranged, the other with a veil.
Madame Récamier was not pleased, and her annoyance did not escape the
penetrating eye of the artist. She tried in vain to efface the
unfavorable impression he had received, but he only half forgave her. He
added a crown of olives to the one with the veil, and when she asked him
about it, he replied, "It did not please you, so I made a Beatrice of

Madame Récamier left Rome for Naples when Napoleon's power was on the
decline. The sovereigns Murat and Caroline Bonaparte treated her with
marked distinction, especially the Queen, who was not only gracious, but
confidential. Madame Récamier was with Caroline the day that Murat
pledged himself to the allied cause. He returned to the palace in great
agitation, and, stating the case to her without telling her that he had
already made his decision, asked what course he ought to pursue. She
replied, "You are a Frenchman, Sire. It is to France that you owe
allegiance." Murat turned pale, and, throwing open the window, showed
her the English fleet entering the harbor, and exclaimed, "I am, then, a
traitor!" He threw himself on a couch, burst into tears, covering his
face with his hands. Madame Récamier's candor did not affect their
friendly relations. When the Queen acted as Regent in the absence of her
husband, she signed the pardon of a condemned criminal at her request,
and, upon her return to Rome, wrote, begging her to come back to Naples.
She did so, though her stay was necessarily short. Paris was again open
to her by the overthrow of Napoleon, and she hastened to rejoin her
friends. Still she was not unmindful of the princess who had shown her
such marks of friendship. She did many kind services for her in Paris,
and after the execution of Murat, when Caroline lived in obscurity as
the Countess of Lipona, she paid her a visit, which cheered the
neglected woman whose prosperity had been of such short duration.

The Restoration was the beginning of a new era in the life of Madame
Récamier, one even more brilliant and animated, if not so thoughtlessly
gay as that of her youth. Her husband had, in a measure, retrieved his
fallen fortunes. She was in possession of her mother's property, able to
have a box at the Opera, and to keep her carriage, which was a
necessity, as she never walked in the street. Her exile had made her
more famous, while her joy at being restored to Paris and her friends
lent another charm to the seduction of her manners. Her association with
the Montmorencys, who were in high favor with the new court, increased
her political influence. She held nightly receptions after the Opera,
and her _salon_ was neutral ground, the resort of persons of all
parties. Paris was full of foreigners of distinction, who were curious
to know a person of so much celebrity, and they swelled the ranks of her
admirers. Among them was the Duke of Wellington, who, if Madame
Récamier's vanity did not mislead her, was willing and anxious to wear
her chains. But she never forgave his boastful speech after the Battle
of Waterloo. Remembering her personal dislike of the Emperor, and
forgetting that she was a Frenchwoman, he said to her, on his return to
Paris, "_Je l'ai bien battu_." The next time he called he was not
admitted. The Duke complained to Madame de Staël, and when he next met
Madame Récamier in society treated her with coldness, and devoted
himself to a young English lady. They rarely met afterward, though the
Duke came once to the Abbaye-aux-Bois.

Madame Récamier had at this time a much more earnest admirer in Benjamin
Constant. As common friends of Madame de Staël, they had been acquainted
for years, and had played together in private theatricals at Coppet.
Still it was not until 1814, when Madame Récamier had an interview with
him in regard to the affairs of the King and Queen of Naples, that the
relations between them assumed a serious aspect. He left her at the end
of this interview violently enamored. According to Madame Lenormant,
Benjamin Constant had not the slightest encouragement to justify his
madness, but it is clear from other testimony that Madame Récamier was
not free from blame in respect to him. Sainte-Beuve hints that the
subject is unpleasant, and summarily dismisses it; and Madame Möhl, ever
ready to defend Madame Récamier, acknowledges that in this case she was
to blame, and that Madame Récamier thought so herself, and wished
Constant's letters to be published after her death, in order to justify
him. She adds, that it was a mistake not to publish them, as their
suppression has given occasion for surmises utterly false. There is
nothing in the "Souvenirs" to explain either the vague hints of
Sainte-Beuve or the obscure allusions of Madame Möhl; and the
biographical sketches of Constant throw no light upon the subject: they
are chiefly narratives of his political career.

If we except Châteaubriand, who was more loved than loving, Benjamin
Constant stands last on the list of Madame Récamier's conquests; for,
after the author of "Atala" and of the "Genius of Christianity" crossed
her path, we hear of no more flirtations, no more despairing lovers.
Châteaubriand and Madame Récamier first met, familiarly, at the
death-bed of Madame de Staël, whose loss they mutually deplored. It was
not, however, until the next year, 1818, when Madame Récamier had
retired to the Abbaye-aux-Bois, that the acquaintance ripened into
intimacy. A second reverse of fortune was the cause of this retirement,
to which we shall briefly refer before entering upon the more
complicated subject of this friendship.

New and unfortunate speculations on the part of Monsieur Récamier had
not only left him penniless, but had to some extent involved his wife's
fortune, which she had confided to him. In this emergency, Madame
Récamier acted with her usual promptitude and decision. She had two
objects in view in her plans for the future,--economy, and a separation
from her husband. An asylum in the Abbaye-aux-Bois secured to her both
advantages. She established her husband and father in the vicinity of
the Convent, and they with Ballanche dined with her every day. From
Monsieur Récamier she exacted a promise to engage in no more
speculations, while she supplied his wants. "She anticipated his needs
with a filial affection, and until the last studied to make his life
mild and pleasant,--a singularly easy task on account of his optimism."
Monsieur Récamier had need to be a philosopher. The nominal husband of a
beautiful woman, with whom he had shared his prosperity, he had not only
to bear her indifference, but to see her form friendships and make plans
from which he was excluded. When his misfortunes left him a dependent
upon her bounty, he was a mere cipher in her household,--kindly treated,
but with a kindness that savored more of toleration than affection.
Monsieur Récamier died at the advanced age of eighty. Shortly before his
death, his wife obtained permission from the Convent to remove him to
the Abbaye, where he was tenderly cared for by her in his last moments.

The retirement forced upon Madame Récamier by her husband's reverses was
far from being seclusion. "_La petite cellule_" as Châteaubriand called
her retreat, was as much frequented as her brilliant _salons_ in Paris
had been, and she was even more highly considered. Châteaubriand visited
her regularly at three o'clock; they passed an hour alone, when other
persons favored by him were admitted. In the evening her door was open
to all. She no longer mingled in society, people came to her, and
nothing could be more delightful than her receptions. All parties and
all ranks met there, and her _salon_ gradually became a literary centre
and focus. Delphine Gay (Madame Émile de Girardin) recited her first
verses there, Rachel declaimed there, and Lamartine's "Méditations" were
read and applauded there before publication. Among distinguished
strangers who sought admittance to the Abbaye, we notice the names of
Humboldt, Sir Humphry Davy, and Maria Edgeworth. De Tocqueville,
Monsieur Ampére, and Sainte-Beuve were frequent visitors. Peace and
serenity reigned there, for Madame Récamier softened asperities and
healed dissensions by the mere magnetism of her presence. "It was
Eurydice," said Sainte-Beuve, "playing the part of Orpheus." But while
she was the presiding genius of this varied and brilliant society,
Châteaubriand was the controlling spirit. Everybody deferred to him, if
not for his sake, then for the sake of her whose greatest happiness was
to see him pleased and amused.

Madame Récamier has frequently been called cold and heartless. English
reviewers have doubted whether she was capable of any warm, deep
attachment. Sainte-Beuve even, with all his insight, believed that the
desire to be loved had satisfied her heart, and that she herself had
never loved. But he formed this opinion before the publication of Madame
Récamier's memoirs. Châteaubriand's letters, together with other
corroborating facts, warrant a totally different conclusion. It is very
evident that Madame Récamier loved Châteaubriand with all the strength
of a reticent and constant nature. That he was the only man she did
love, we think is also clear. Prince Augustus captivated her for a time,
but her conduct toward him, in contrast with that toward Châteaubriand,
proves that her heart had not then been touched. The one she treated
with caprice and coldness, the other with unvarying consideration and
tenderness. There is no reason to conclude that the Prince ever made her
unhappy, while it is certain that Châteaubriand made her miserable, and
a mere friendship, however deep, does not render a woman wretched. This
attachment not only shaped and colored the remainder of Madame
Récamier's life, but it threatened at one time to completely subvert all
other interests. She who was so equable, such a perfect mistress of
herself, so careful to give every one due meed of attention, became
fitful and indifferent. Her friends saw the change with alarm, and
Montmorency remonstrated bitterly with her. "I was extremely troubled
and ashamed," he writes, "at the sudden change in your manner toward
others and myself. Ah, Madame, the evil that your best friends have been
dreading has made rapid progress in a few weeks! Does not this thought
make you tremble? Ah, turn, while yet there is time, to Him who gives
strength to them who pray for it! He can cure all, repair all. God and a
generous heart are all-sufficient. I implore Him, from the bottom of my
heart, to sustain and enlighten you."

Ballanche, equally concerned and jealous, strove to interest her in
literature, and urged her to translate Petrarch. Madame Récamier
speedily recovered herself. She listened graciously to the admonitions
of Montmorency, and she consented to undertake Petrarch, but made little
progress in the work. Still, as far as her feelings for Châteaubriand
were concerned, the efforts of her friends were in vain. He occupied the
first place in her affections, and she regulated her time and pursuits
to please and accommodate him, though for a long time he but poorly
repaid her devotion. He admired and perhaps loved her, as well as he was
capable of loving anybody but himself, but it was not until
disappointments had sobered him that he fully appreciated her worth. At
the time their intimacy commenced he was the pet and favorite of the
whole French nation. "The Genius of Christianity" had been received with
acclamations by a people just recovering from the wild skepticism of the
Revolution. The reaction had taken place, the Goddess of Reason was
dethroned, and the burning words and vivid eloquence of Châteaubriand
appealed at once to the heart and the imagination of his countrymen.
They did not criticise, they only admired. Politically he was also a
rising man. The world, or at least the French world, expected great
things from the writer of the pamphlet, "De Buonaparte et des Bourbons."
His manners were courtly and distinguished, and women especially
flattered and courted him. Their attentions fostered his natural vanity,
and his fancy, if not his heart, wandered from Madame Récamier, and she
knew it. The tables were turned: she who had been so passionately
beloved was now to feel some of the pangs she had all her life been
unconsciously inflicting. Wounded and jealous, she stooped to
reproaches. The following extracts from letters addressed to her by
Châteaubriand while he was ambassador at London clearly betray the state
of her mind.

    "I will not ask you again for an explanation, since you will not
    give it. I have written you by the last courier a letter which
    ought to content you, if you still love me."

       *       *       *       *       *

    "Do not delude yourself with the idea that you can fly from me. I
    will seek you everywhere. But if I go to the Congress, it will be
    an occasion to put you to the proof. I shall see then if you keep
    your promises."

       *       *       *       *       *

    "_Allons_,--I much prefer to understand your folly than to read
    mysterious and angry notes. I comprehend now, or at least I think
    I do. It is apparently that woman of whom the friend of the Queen
    of Sweden has spoken to you. But, tell me, have I the means to
    prevent Vernet, Mademoiselle Levert, who writes me declarations,
    and thirty _artistes_, men and women, from coming to England in
    order to get money? And if I have been culpable, do you think that
    such fancies can do you the least injury, or take from you
    anything which I have given you? You have been told a thousand
    falsehoods. Herein I recognize my friends. But tranquillize
    yourself: the lady leaves, and will never return to England. But
    perhaps you would like me to remain here on that account: a very
    useless precaution; for, whatever happens, Congress or no
    Congress, I cannot live so long separated from you, and am
    determined to see you at any cost."

The letters from which we quote are very characteristic of their author.
While protesting eternal fidelity, and declaring his intention to
renounce the world and live but for Madame Récamier, he begs her at the
same time to use all her influence to get him sent to the approaching
Congress at Vienna as one of the French representatives,--an appointment
which would necessarily separate him still longer from her. "_Songez au
Congrès_" is the refrain to all his poetical expressions of attachment.

It is to be hoped that Madame Récamier did not perceive the
inconsistency of which he was totally unconscious. Though Châteaubriand
was perpetually analyzing himself and his emotions, no man had less
self-knowledge. He was too much absorbed by his "self-study,
self-wonder, and self-worship," as one of his critics styles his
egotism, to be clear-sighted. He had generous impulses, but no uniform
generosity of heart; and while glorying in the few ostentatious
sacrifices he made to pet ideas, he had no perception of the nature of
self-sacrifice. Much, therefore, as he was gratified at the devotion of
a woman of Madame Récamier's position and influence, he did not value it
sufficiently to make any sacrifices to secure it, and consequently she
was continually annoyed and distressed. Her life was also embittered by
his political differences with Mathieu de Montmorency, to whom, by means
which can scarcely be deemed honorable, he had succeeded as Minister of
Foreign Affairs. The confidential friend of both parties, her position
was a very difficult one; but she was equal to the emergency. She
satisfied each, without being false to, or unmindful of, the interests
of either.

But her relations to Châteaubriand were fast becoming intolerable, and
she resolved to break her chains and leave Paris. He regarded this
resolution as a mere threat. "No," he wrote, "you have not bid farewell
to all earthly joys. If you go, you will return." She did go, however,
taking with her Ballanche and her adopted daughter, whose delicate
health was the ostensible cause of her departure. What it cost her to
leave Paris may well be conjectured, and nothing is more indicative of
her power of self-control than this voluntary withdrawal from a
companionship which fascinated while it tortured her. Châteaubriand sent
letters after her full of protestations and upbraidings; but after a
while he wrote less frequently, and for a year they ceased to
correspond. To a friend who urged her to return Madame Récamier
wrote,--"If I return at present to Paris, I shall again meet with the
agitations that induced me to leave it. If Monsieur Châteaubriand were
unhappy on my account, I should be grieved; if he were not, I should
have another trouble, which I am determined henceforth to avoid. I find
here diversion in art, and a support in religion which shall shelter me
from all these storms. It is painful to me to remain absent six months
longer from my friends; but it is better to make this sacrifice, and I
confess to you that I feel it to be necessary."

There was much to make a stay in Italy attractive to Madame Récamier, if
she could have forgotten Châteaubriand, Her old admirer, the Duc de
Laval, was ambassador at Rome, and put his horses and servants at her
disposal. She renewed her acquaintance with the celebrated Duchess of
Devonshire, (Lady Elizabeth Foster,) whose career was quite as singular
as her own, while it was more open to reproach. The Duchess was a
liberal patron of the fine arts, and the devoted friend of Cardinal
Gonsalvi, from the shock of whose death she never recovered. Madame
Récamier also found at Rome the Duchess of Saint-Leu, whom she had
slightly known when she was Queen of Holland. For political reasons it
was unwise for them to visit openly, so they contrived private and
romantic interviews. Their friendship seems to have been close and
sincere. Subsequently, Madame Récamier was able, through her political
influence, to serve Hortense in many ways. She also took an interest in
her son Louis Napoleon, and visited him in prison after his
unsuccessful attempt at Strasbourg, which kindness he afterwards
acknowledged in several notes preserved by Madame Lenormant.

But while accepting all the diversions offered her by the pleasant
society at, Rome, Madame Récamier was not unmindful of Châteaubriand.
She ordered from the artist Tenerani a bas-relief, the subject to be
taken from Châteaubriand's poem of "The Martyrs." She wrote constantly
to her friends in Paris for intelligence respecting him, and watched his
course from afar with interest and anxiety. It was not one to
tranquillize her. He had quarrelled with the President of the Council,
Villèle; and being also personally disliked by the King, he was
peremptorily dismissed, and he bore this disgrace with neither dignity
nor composure. Turning his pen against the government, he did as much by
his persistent savage opposition, clothed as it was in the language of
superb invective, to bring about the final overthrow of the elder
Bourbon dynasty, as either the stupid arrogance of Charles X. or the
dogged tyranny of Polignac. Yet no man was more concerned and disgusted
than he was at the result of the Revolution of 1830. So far true to his
convictions, he refused office under Louis Philippe, priding himself
greatly on his allegiance to the exiled princes, when neither his
loyalty nor his services could be of any use. The truth is, that, though
Châteaubriand was fond of meddling and making a noise, he had none of
the fundamental qualities of a statesman. By the inspiration of his
genius, he could seize the right moment for making a telling speech, or
he could promulgate in a pamphlet a striking truth, calculated to
electrify and convince. But he could not be calmly deliberate. Always
enthusiastic, he was never temperate. He was the slave of his
partialities and prejudices. Harriet Martineau, who for keen analysis
and nice discrimination of character has few equals among historians,
characterizes him as "the wordy Châteaubriand," and Guizot says of him,
"It was his illusion to think himself the equal of the most consummate
statesmen, and his soul was filled with bitterness because men would not
admit him to be the rival of Napoleon as well as of Milton." It was this
bitterness with which Madame Récamier had to contend, for his literary
successes did not console him for his political disappointments, and his
temper, never very equable, was now more variable and uncertain.

After an absence of eighteen months she returned to Paris. She apprised
Châteaubriand of her arrival by a note. He came immediately to see her,
and was rapturous with delight. No word of reproach passed between them,
and he fell at once into his old habits. From this time his behavior was
respectful and devoted. Absence and his disappointments had taught him
the inestimable value of such a friend. She daily became more and more
necessary to him. After his resignation of the Roman embassy in 1829,
which had been secured to him through her instrumentality, he no longer
engaged actively in politics, and, deprived of the stimulus of ambition,
he looked to her for excitement. She encouraged his literary exertions,
drew him out from his fits of depression, and soothed his wounded
self-love. This was no light task; for Châteaubriand's self-complacency
was not of that imperturbable sort which, however intolerable to others,
has at least the merit of keeping its possessor content and tranquil.
With him it partook more of the nature of egotism than of self-conceit,
and it therefore made him always restless and continually dissatisfied.
But no effort was too great for Madame Récamier's devotion. Her friends
looked upon her sacrifices with feelings of mingled regret and
admiration, but she herself was unconscious of them. They were simply a
labor of love; and much as her tranquillity must have been disturbed at
times by the caprices and exactions of this moody, melancholy man, she
was probably happy in being allowed to sacrifice herself. Of the
success of her efforts Sainte-Beuve thus gracefully speaks:--"Madame de
Maintenon was never more ingenious in amusing Louis XIV. than Madame
Récamier in interesting Châteaubriand. 'I have always remarked,' said
Boileau, on returning from Versailles, 'that, when the conversation does
not turn on himself, the King directly gets tired, and is either ready
to yawn or to go away.' Every great poet, when he is growing old, is a
little like Louis XIV. in this respect. Madame Récamier had each day a
thousand pleasant contrivances to excite and flatter him. She assembled
from all quarters friends for him,--new admirers. She chained us all to
the feet of her idol with links of gold."

One of her most successful efforts in amusing him was the reading of
"Les Mémoires d'Outre-Tombe" to a select and admiring audience at the
Abbaye. He first read them in private to Madame Récamier, who passed
judgment upon them, and they were then read aloud by M. Charles
Lenormant. This device worked like a charm; everybody applauded, and the
author was content. The personal interest attached to the chief parties
concerned, no doubt, made these readings very delightful. But it would
now be impossible for any reader to be enthusiastic about the Memoirs
themselves. Out of France it would be difficult to find a more
egotistical piece of self-portraiture. Châteaubriand is not quite so
ostentatious in his egotism as the Prince de Ligne, who headed the
chapters in his "Mémoires et Mélanges," "De moi pendant le jour," "De
moi pendant la nuit," "De moi encore," "Mémoirs pour mon coeur"; still
he parades himself on every possible occasion, and not always to his own
advantage. His conduct in passing himself off as a single man in an
English family who were kind to him during his exile, thereby engaging
the daughter's affections, is entirely inexcusable. That a person of
Madame Récamier's good judgment did not perceive the discredit that must
attach to such revelations is only to be accounted for by supposing her
blind to Châteaubriand's follies. But with all her partiality, it is
still surprising that she should have given her sanction to his
deliberate and cold analysis of the character of his parents, and his
equally heartless and selfish reflections on his marriage.

Châteaubriand married simply to please his sisters, feeling that he "had
none of the qualifications of a husband," and for years he seemed
entirely oblivious of his wife's existence. After he gave up his
wandering life, and became distinguished, he treated her with more
consideration. Madame de Châteaubriand was a pretty, delicate woman, of
quick natural intelligence. M. Danielo, Châteaubriand's secretary, has
written an interesting sketch of her, which is affixed to her husband's
memoirs. She was a person of eccentric habits, but of a warm heart and
lively sensibilities, and was devoted to her religious duties and the
Infirmary of Maria Theresa. She professed a great contempt for
literature, and asserted that she had never read a line of her husband's
works; but this was regarded as an affectation. Madame de Châteaubriand
was not an amiable person, but very frank and sincere. She often
reproached herself for her faults and love of contradiction. Though she
appears to have loved her husband, she was not blind to his weaknesses,
and he was afraid of her sallies. So vain and sensitive a man could not
feel comfortable in the society of a woman of her keen penetration, and
her wit was not always tempered by discretion. Madame Récamier gained by
the contrast. She believed in him, and "there are few things so
pleasant," says a writer in Fraser, "as to have a woman at hand that
believes in you." Madame Récamier's insight never disturbed
Châteaubriand, for it was of the heart, not of the intellect. It was not
a critical analysis that probes and dissects, but a sympathy that
cheered and tranquillized. There could be but little in common between
two such women, though they were on friendly terms; and when
Châteaubriand left his wife in Paris, he always commended her to Madame
Récamier's care. On one occasion he writes,--"I must again request you
to go and see Madame de Châteaubriand, who complains that she has not
seen you. What would you have? Since you have become associated in my
life, it is necessary to share it fully."

There is nothing to indicate Madame Récamier's sentiments toward the
wife of her friend, except a significant passage in one of
Châteaubriand's letters:--"Your judgments are very severe on the Rue du
Bac.[D] But think of the difference of habit. If you look upon her
occupations as trifles, she may on her side think the same with regard
to yours. It is only necessary to change the point of view."

Madame de Châteaubriand died in February, 1847, from the effects of
dieting. A few months after her death her husband offered himself in
marriage to Madame Récamier, who rejected him. "Why should we marry?"
she said. "There can be no impropriety in my taking care of you at our
age. If you find solitude oppressive, I am willing to live with you. The
world, I am confident, will do justice to the purity of our friendship,
and sanction all my efforts to render your old age comfortable and
happy. If we were younger, I would not hesitate,--I would accept with
joy the right to consecrate my life to you. Tears and blindness have
given me that right. Let us change nothing."

We have heard this refusal of Madame Récamier's urged as a proof that
she did not love Châteaubriand; but when we consider their respective
ages at the time, this objection has little weight. Châteaubriand was
seventy-nine; Madame Récamier seventy. The former was tottering on the
brink of the grave. He had lost the use of his limbs, and his mind was
visibly failing. Madame Récamier was keenly sensible of the decay of his
faculties, though she succeeded so well in concealing the fact from
others that few of the habitual visitors at the Abbaye recognized its
extent. The reason she gave to her friends for refusing him was
undoubtedly the true one. She said that his daily visit to her was his
only diversion, and he would lose that, if she married him.

The record of these last years of Madame Récamier's life is
inexpressibly touching, telling as it does of self-denial, patient
suffering, and silent devotion. To avert the blindness which was
gradually stealing upon her, she submitted to an operation, which might
have been successful, had she obeyed the injunctions of her physicians.
But Ballanche lay dying in the opposite house, and, true to the noble
instincts of her heart, she could not let the friend who had loved her
so long and well die alone. She crossed the street, and took her place
by his bedside, thus sealing her own fate, for all hopes of recovering
her sight were lost. Her health also was extremely delicate; but, much
as she needed quiet and repose, she kept up her relations with society
and held her receptions for Châteaubriand's sake. But both their lives
were fast approaching to a close. Châteaubriand died on the 4th of July,
1848. For some time before his death he was speechless, but kept his
dying eyes fixed upon Madame Récamier. She could not see him, and this
dark, dreary silence filled her soul with despair.

Madame Récamier shed no tears over her loss, and uttered no
lamentations. She received the condolences of her friends with
gratitude, and strove to interest herself in their pursuits. But a
deadly paleness, which never left her, spread over her face, and "the
sad smile on her lips was heart-breaking." Sightless and sad, it was
time for her to die. Madame de Staël and Montmorency, the friends of her
youth, had long since departed. Ballanche was gone, and now
Châteaubriand. She survived the latter only eleven months. Stricken with
cholera the following summer, her illness was short, but severe, and her
last words to Madame Lenormant, who bent over her, were, "_Nous nous
reverrons,--nous nous reverrons_."

So impalpable was the attraction that brought the world to the feet of
Madame Récamier that it is interesting to analyze it. It did not lie in
her beauty and wealth alone; for she lost the one, while time blighted
the other. Nor was it due to power of will; for she was not great
intellectually. And had she been a person of strong convictions, she
would never have been so universally popular. As it was, she pleased
equally persons of every shade of opinion and principle. Her instinctive
coquetry can partly account for her sway over men, but not over women.
What, then, was the secret of her influence? It lay in the subtile power
of a marvellous tact. This tact had its roots deep in her nature. It was
part and parcel of herself, the distinguishing trait in a rare
combination of qualities. Though nurtured and ripened by experience, it
was not the offspring of art. It was an effect, not a cause,--not simply
the result of an intense desire to please, regulated by a fine intuitive
perception, but of higher, finer characteristics, such as natural
sweetness of temper, kindness of heart, and forgetfulness of self. Her
successes were the triumph of impulse rather than of design. In order to
please she did not study character, she divined it. Keenly alive to
outward influences, and losing in part her own personality when coming
in contact with that of others, she readily adapted herself to their
moods,--and her apprehension was quick, if not profound. It is always
gratifying to feel one's self understood, and every person who talked
with Madame Récamier enjoyed this pleasant consciousness. No one felt a
humiliating sense of inferiority in her presence, and this was owing as
much to the character of her intellect as to her tact. Partial friends
detected genius in her conversation and letters, and tried to excite her
to literary effort; but other and stronger evidence forces us to look
upon such praise as mere delicate flattery. A woman more beautiful than
gifted was far more likely to be gratified by a compliment to her
intellect than to her personal charms, as Madame de Staël was more
delighted at an allusion to the beauty of her neck and arms than to the
merits of "L'Allemagne" or "Corinne." But if Madame Récamier did not
possess genius, she had unerring instincts which stood her in lieu of
it, and her mind, if not original, was appreciative. The genuine
admiration she felt for her literary friends stimulated as well as
gratified them. She drew them out, and, dazzled by their own brilliancy,
they gave her credit for thoughts which were in reality their own. To
this faculty of intelligent appreciation was joined another still more
captivating. She was a good listener. "_Bien écouter c'est presque
répondre_," quotes Jean Paul from Marivaux, and Sainte-Beuve said of
Madame Récamier that she listened "_avec séduction_." She was also an
extremely indulgent and charitable person, and was severe neither on the
faults nor on the foibles of others. "No one knew so well as she how to
spread balm on the wounds that are never acknowledged, how to calm and
exorcise the bitterness of rivalry or literary animosity. For moral
chagrins and imaginary sorrows, which are so intense in some natures,
she was, _par excellence_, the Sister of Charity." The repose of her
manner made this sympathy more effective. Hers was not a stormy nature,
but calm and equable. If she had emotion to master, it was mastered in
secret, and not a ripple on the surface betrayed the agitation beneath.
She had no nervous likes or dislikes, no changeful humors, few unequal
moods. She did not sparkle and then die out. The fire was always kindled
on the hearth, the lamp serenely burning. Some women charm by their
mutability; she attracted by her uniformity. But in her uniformity there
was no monotony. Like the continuous murmur of a brook, it gladdened as
well as soothed.

It was probably these sweet womanly qualities, together with the
meekness with which she bore her honors, that endeared her to her
feminine friends. All her life had been a series of triumphs, which were
not won by any conscious effort on her part, but were spontaneous gifts
of fortune,--

    "As though a shower of fairy wreaths
    Had fallen upon her from the sky."

Yet her manner was entirely free from pretension or self-assertion.

It is not one of the least remarkable things about Madame Récamier, that
one who had been so petted from childhood, so exposed to pernicious
influences, should have continued unspoiled by adulation, uncorrupted by
example. The gay life she led was calculated to make her selfish and
arrogant, yet she was to an eminent degree self-sacrificing and gentle.
Constant in her affections, she never lost a friend through waywardness,
or alienated any by indifference. It has been prettily said of her, that
she brought the art of friendship to perfection. Coquettish she
was,--seldom capricious. Her coquetry was owing more to an instinctive
desire to please than to any systematic attempt to swell the list of her
conquests. She had received the gift of fascination at her birth: and
can a woman be fascinating who has not a touch of coquetry? It was as
natural in Madame Récamier to charm as it was to breathe. It was a
necessity of her nature, which her unnatural position developed and
fostered to a reprehensible extent. But while she permitted herself to
be loved, and rejoiced in the consciousness of this power, she never
carried her flirtations so far as to lose her own self-respect or the
respect of her admirers. She was ever dignified and circumspect, though
gracious and captivating. To most of her lovers, therefore, she was more
a goddess whom they worshipped than a woman whom they loved. Ballanche
compared her to the solitary phoenix, nourished by perfumes, and
living in the purest regions of the air,--

    "Who sings to the last his own death-lay,
    And in music and perfume dies away."

It is a singular fact, that the men who began by loving her passionately
usually ended by becoming her true friends. Still there were exceptions
to this rule, exceptions which her biographer does not care to dwell
upon, but which the more candid Sainte-Beuve acknowledges, giving as his
authority Madame Récamier, who was fond of talking over the past with
her new friends. "'_C'est une manière_,' disait-elle, '_de mettre du
passé devant l'amitié_.'" The subtile and piquant critic cannot resist
saying, in regard to these reminiscences, that "_elle se souvenait avec
goût_." Still, pleasant as her recollections were, she often looked back
self-reproachfully upon passages of her youth; and Sainte-Beuve, though
he calls her coquetry "_une coquetterie angelique_," recognizes it as a
blemish. "She, who was so good, brought sorrow to many hearts, not only
to indignant and soured men, but to poor feminine rivals, whom she
sacrificed and wounded without knowing it. It is the dark side of her
life, which she lived to comprehend."

This "dark side" suggests itself. It is impossible to read the record of
Madame Récamier's conquests without thinking of women slighted and
neglected for her sake. The greater number of her admirers were married
men. That their wives did not hate this all-conquering woman is strange
indeed; that they witnessed her triumphs unmoved is scarcely credible.
For, while French society allows great laxity in such matters, and a
domestic husband, as we understand the term, is a rarity, still French
wives, we imagine, differ very little from other women in wishing to be
considered a first object. Public desertion is rarely relished even
where there is no affection to be wounded, for it is not necessary to
love to be jealous. But whatever heart-aches and jealousies were caused
by Madame Récamier's conquests, they do not appear on the surface. In
her voluminous correspondence we find tender letters from husbands side
by side with friendly notes from their wives. Her biographer parades the
latter with some ostentation, as a proof of the friendship these women
entertained for Madame Récamier. That they respected her is evident;
that they loved her is not so apparent. Mere complimentary notes prove
but little. He must be but a superficial judge of life who draws decided
conclusions simply from appearances. Madame Lucien Bonaparte might
invite Madame Récamier to her _fêtes_; but the consciousness that all
her world knew that her husband was _épris_ with her beautiful guest did
not tend to make her cordial at heart. Madame Moreau, young and lovely,
might visit her intimately, and even cherish friendship for her; but she
could scarcely be an indifferent spectator, when the great General
demanded a white ribbon from her friend's dress as a favor, and
afterward wrote to her that he had worn it in every battle, and that it
had been the talisman that led him on to victory. Nor is it probable
that Madame de Montmorency and Madame de Châteaubriand, unloved wives,
saw without a pang another woman possess the influence which they
exerted in vain. But, if they suffered, it was in secret; and, moreover,
they did justice to the character of their rival. Madame Récamier's
reputation was compromised neither in their eyes nor in the eyes of the
world. Society is seldom just to any woman whose career in life is
exceptional; but to her it was not only just, but indulgent. When we
reflect upon her peculiar position, so exposed to injurious suspicions,
the doubtful reputation of some of her associates, the character for
gallantry possessed by many of her avowed admirers, it seems scarcely
possible that she should have escaped calumny. The few scandals caused
by some of her early indiscretions were soon dissipated, and she lived
down all unpleasant rumors. She, indeed, seemed to possess some
talisman, as potent as the magic ring that bewitched King Charlemagne,
by whose spell she disarmed envy and silenced detraction. This attaching
power she exercised on every person who came within the sphere of her
influence. Even the gossiping Duchess D'Abrantes has only words of
respectful admiration for her. The preconceived prejudices of Madame
Swetchine, whom Miss Muloch numbers among her "Good Women," vanished at
a first interview. She wrote to her,--"I found myself a captive before I
dreamt of defending myself. I yielded at once to that penetrating and
undefinable charm which you exert even over those persons to whom you
are indifferent." Madame de Genlis, equally prejudiced, was alike
subdued. She made Madame Récamier the heroine of a novel, and addressed
letters to her full of affectionate admiration and extravagant flattery.
"You are one of the phenomena of the age," she writes, "and certainly
the most amiable.... You can look back upon the past without remorse. At
any age this is the most beautiful of privileges, but at our time of
life it is invaluable." Madame Lenormant, even more enthusiastic, calls
her a saint, which she certainly was not, but a gracious woman of the
world. Some acts of her life it is impossible to defend. They tarnish
the lustre of an otherwise irreproachable career. Still, when we think
of the low tone of morals prevalent in her youth, together with her many
and great temptations, it is surprising that she should have preserved
her purity of heart, and earned the respect and love of the best and
wisest of her contemporaries. No woman has ever received more universal
and uniform homage, or has been more deeply lamented. Her death left a
void in French society that has never been filled. The _salon_, which,
from its origin in the seventeenth century, was so vital an element in
Paris life, no longer exists. That of the Hôtel de Rambouillet was the
first; that of the Abbaye-aux-Bois the last. "_On se réunit encore, on
donne des fêtes splendides, on ne cause plus_."

       *       *       *       *       *


Having walked about eight miles since we struck the beach, and passed
the boundary between Wellfleet and Truro, a stone post in the sand,--for
even this sand comes under the jurisdiction of one town or another,--we
turned inland over barren hills and valleys, whither the sea, for some
reason, did not follow us, and, tracing up a hollow, discovered two or
three sober-looking houses within half a mile, uncommonly near the
eastern coast. Their garrets were apparently so full of chambers that
their roofs could hardly lie down straight, and we did not doubt that
there was room for us there. Houses near the sea are generally low and
broad. These were a story and a half high; but if you merely counted the
windows in their gable-ends, you would think that there were many
stories more, or, at any rate, that the half-story was the only one
thought worthy of being illustrated. The great number of windows in the
ends of the houses, and their irregularity in size and position, here
and elsewhere on the Cape, struck us agreeably,--as if each of the
various occupants who had their _cunabula_ behind had punched a hole
where his necessities required it, and according to his size and
stature, without regard to outside effect. There were windows for the
grown folks, and windows for the children,--three or four apiece: as a
certain man had a large hole cut in his barn-door for the cat, and
another smaller one for the kitten. Sometimes they were so low under the
eaves that I thought they must have perforated the plate-beam for
another apartment, and I noticed some which were triangular, to fit that
part more exactly. The ends of the houses had thus as many muzzles as a
revolver; and if the inhabitants have the same habit of staring out of
the windows that some of our neighbors have, a traveller must stand a
small chance with them.

Generally, the old-fashioned and unpainted houses on the Cape looked
more comfortable, as well as picturesque, than the modern and more
pretending ones, which were less in harmony with the scenery, and less
firmly planted.

These houses were on the shores of a chain of ponds, seven in number,
the source of a small stream called Herring River, which empties into
the Bay. There are many Herring Rivers on the Cape: they will, perhaps,
be more numerous than herrings soon. We knocked at the door of the first
house, but its inhabitants were all gone away. In the mean while we saw
the occupants of the next one looking out of the window at us, and
before we reached it an old woman came out and fastened the door of her
bulkhead, and went in again. Nevertheless, we did not hesitate to knock
at her door, when a grizzly-looking man appeared, whom we took to be
sixty or seventy years old. He asked us, at first, suspiciously, where
we were from, and what our business was; to which we returned plain

"How far is Concord from Boston?" he inquired.

"Twenty miles by railroad."

"Twenty miles by railroad," he repeated.

"Didn't you ever hear of Concord of Revolutionary fame?"

"Didn't I ever hear of Concord? Why, I heard the guns fire at the Battle
of Bunker Hill." (They hear the sound of heavy cannon across the Bay.)
"I am almost ninety: I am eighty-eight year old. I was fourteen year old
at the time of Concord Fight,--and where were you then?"

We were obliged to confess that we were not in the fight.

"Well, walk in, we'll leave it to the women," said he.

So we walked in, surprised, and sat down, an old woman taking our hats
and bundles, and the old man continued, drawing up to the large,
old-fashioned fireplace,--

"I am a poor good-for-nothing crittur, as Isaiah says; I am all broken
down this year. I am under petticoat-government here."

The family consisted of the old man, his wife, and his daughter, who
appeared nearly as old as her mother,--a fool, her son, (a
brutish-looking, middle-aged man, with a prominent lower face, who was
standing by the hearth when we entered, but immediately went out,) and a
little boy of ten.

While my companion talked with the women, I talked to the old man. They
said that he was old and foolish, but he was evidently too knowing for

"These women," said he to me, "are both of them poor good-for-nothing
critturs. This one is my wife. I married her sixty-four years ago. She
is eighty-four years old, and as deaf as an adder, and the other is not
much better."

He thought well of the Bible,--or at least he _spoke_ well, and did not
_think_ ill, of it, for that would not have been prudent for a man of
his age. He said that he had read it attentively for many years, and he
had much of it at his tongue's end. He seemed deeply impressed with a
sense of his own nothingness, and would repeatedly exclaim,--

"I am a nothing. What I gather from my Bible is just this: that man is a
poor good-for-nothing crittur, and everything is just as God sees fit
and disposes."

"May I ask your name?" I said.

"Yes," he answered,--"I am not ashamed to tell my name. My name is ----.
My great-grandfather came over from England and settled here."

He was an old Wellfleet oysterman, who had acquired a competency in that
business, and had sons still engaged in it.

Nearly all the oyster-shops and stands in Massachusetts, I am told, are
supplied and kept by natives of Wellfleet, and a part of this town is
still called Billingsgate, from the oysters having been formerly planted
there; but the native oysters are said to have died in 1770. Various
causes are assigned for this, such as a ground frost, the carcasses of
black-fish kept to rot in the harbor, and the like; but the most common
account of the matter is,--and I find that a similar superstition with
regard to the disappearance of fishes exists almost everywhere,--that,
when Wellfleet began to quarrel with the neighboring towns about the
right to gather them, yellow specks appeared in them, and Providence
caused them to disappear. A few years ago sixty thousand bushels were
annually brought from the South and planted in the harbor of Wellfleet
till they attained "the proper relish of Billingsgate"; but now they are
imported commonly full-grown, and laid down near their markets, at
Boston and elsewhere, where the water, being a mixture of salt and
fresh, suits them better. The business was said to be still good and

The old man said that the oysters were liable to freeze in the winter,
if planted too high; but if it were not "so cold as to strain their
eyes," they were not injured. The inhabitants of New Brunswick have
noticed that "ice will not form over an oyster-bed, unless the cold is
very intense indeed; and when the bays are frozen over, the oyster-beds
are easily discovered by the water above them remaining unfrozen, or, as
the French residents say, _degèle_." Our host said that they kept them
in cellars all winter.

"Without anything to eat or drink?" I asked.

"Without anything to eat or drink," he answered.

"Can the oysters move?"

"Just as much as my shoe."

But when I caught him saying that they "bedded themselves down in the
sand, flat side up, round side down," I told him that my shoe could not
do that, without the aid of my foot in it; at which he said that they
merely settled down as they grew; if put down in a square, they would be
found so; but the clam could move quite fast. I have since been told by
oystermen of Long Island, where the oyster is still indigenous and
abundant, that they are found in large masses attached to the parent in
their midst, and are so taken up with their tongs; in which case, they
say, the age of the young proves that there could have been no motion
for five or six years at least. And Buckland, in his "Curiosities of
Natural History," (page 50,) says,--"An oyster, who has once taken up
his position and fixed himself when quite young, can never make a
change. Oysters, nevertheless, that have not fixed themselves, but
remain loose at the bottom of the sea, have the power of locomotion;
they open their shells to their fullest extent, and then suddenly
contracting them, the expulsion of the water forwards gives a motion
backwards. A fisherman at Guernsey told me that he had frequently seen
oysters moving in this way."

Some still entertain the question whether the oyster was indigenous in
Massachusetts Bay, and whether Wellfleet Harbor was a natural habitat of
this fish; but, to say nothing of the testimony of old oystermen, which,
I think, is quite conclusive, though the native oyster may now be
extinct there, I saw that their shells, opened by the Indians, were
strewn all over the Cape. Indeed, the Cape was at first thickly settled
by Indians on account of the abundance of these and other fish. We saw
many traces of their occupancy, after this, in Truro, near Great Hollow,
and at High-Head, near East-Harbor River,--oysters, clams, cockles, and
other shells, mingled with ashes and the bones of deer and other
quadrupeds. I picked up half a dozen arrow-heads, and in an hour or two
could have filled my pockets with them. The Indians lived about the
edges of the swamps, then probably in some instances ponds, for shelter
and water. Moreover, Champlain, in the edition of his "Voyages" printed
in 1613, says that in the year 1606 he and Poitrincourt explored a
harbor (Barnstable Harbor?) in the southerly part of what is now called
Massachusetts Bay, in latitude 42°, about five leagues south, one point
west of _Cap Blanc_, (Cape Cod,) and there they found many good oysters,
and they named it _Le Port aux Huistres_ (Oyster-Harbor). In one edition
of his map, (1632,) the "_R. aux Escailles_" is drawn emptying into the
same part of the Bay, and on the map "_Novi Belgii_" in Ogilby's
"America," (1670,) the words "_Port aux Huistres_" are set against the
same place. Also William Wood, who left New England in 1633, speaks, in
his "New England's Prospect," published in 1634, of "a great
oyster-bank" in Charles River, and of another in the Mystic, each of
which obstructed the navigation. "The oysters," he says, "be great ones,
in form of a shoe-horn; some be a foot long; these breed on certain
banks that are bare every spring-tide. This fish without the shell is so
big that it must admit of a division before you can well get it into
your mouth." Oysters are still found there. (See, also, Thomas Morton's
"New English Canaan," page 90.)

Our host told us that the sea-clam, or hen, was not easily obtained; it
was raked up, but never on the Atlantic side, only cast ashore there in
small quantities in storms. The fisherman sometimes wades in water
several feet deep, and thrusts a pointed stick into the sand before him.
When this enters between the valves of a clam, he closes them on it, and
is drawn out. The clam has been known to catch and hold coot and teal
which were preying on it. I chanced to be on the bank of the Acushnet at
New Bedford one day, watching some ducks, when a man informed me, that,
having let out his young ducks to seek their food amid the samphire
(_Salicornia_) and other weeds along the river-side at low tide that
morning, at length he noticed that one remained stationary amid the
weeds, something preventing it from following the others, and on going
to it he found its foot tightly shut in a quahaug'a shell. He took up
both together, carried them home, and his wife, opening the shell with
a knife, released the duck and cooked the quahaug. The old man said that
the great clams were good to eat, but that they always took out a
certain part, which was poisonous, before cooking them. "People said it
would kill a cat." I did not tell him that I had eaten a large one
entire that afternoon, but began to think that I was tougher than a cat.
He stated that peddlers came round there, and sometimes tried to sell
the women-folks a skimmer, but he told them that their women had got a
better skimmer than _they_ could make, in the shell of their clams; it
was shaped just right for this purpose. They call them "skim-alls" in
some places. He also said that the sun-squawl was poisonous to handle,
and when the sailors came across it, they did not meddle with it, but
hove it out of their way. I told him that I had handled it that
afternoon, and had felt no ill effects as yet. But he said it made the
hands itch, especially if they had previously been scratched,--or if I
put it into my bosom, I should find out what it was.

He informed us that ice never formed on the back side of the Cape, or
not more than once in a century, and but little snow lay there, it being
either absorbed or blown or washed away. Sometimes in winter, when the
tide was down, the beach was frozen, and afforded a hard road up the
back side for some thirty miles, as smooth as a floor. One winter, when
he was a boy, he and his father "took right out into the back side
before daylight, and walked to Provincetown and back to dinner."

When I asked what they did with all that barren-looking land, where I
saw so few cultivated fields,--

"Nothing," he said.

"Then why fence your fields?"

"To keep the sand from blowing and covering up the whole."

"The yellow sand," said he, "has some life in it, but the white little
or none."

When, in answer to his questions, I told him that I was a surveyor, he
said that those who surveyed his farm were accustomed, where the ground
was uneven, to loop up each chain as high as their elbows; that was the
allowance they made, and he wished to know if I could tell him why they
did not come out according to his deed, or twice alike. He seemed to
have more respect for surveyors of the old school, which I did not
wonder at. "King George the Third," said he, "laid out a road four rods
wide and straight the whole length of the Cape"; but where it was now he
could not tell.

This story of the surveyors reminded me of a Long-Islander, who once,
when I had made ready to jump from the bow of his boat to the shore, and
he thought that I underrated the distance and would fall short,--though
I found afterward that he judged of the elasticity of my joints by his
own,--told me, that, when he came to a brook which he wanted to get
over, he held up one leg, and then, if his foot appeared to cover any
part of the opposite bank, he knew that he could jump it. "Why," I told
him, "to say nothing of the Mississippi, and other small watery streams,
I could blot out a star with my foot, but I would not engage to jump
that distance," and asked how he knew when he had got his leg at the
right elevation. But he regarded his legs as no less accurate than a
pair of screw-dividers or an ordinary quadrant, and appeared to have a
painful recollection of every degree and minute in the arc which they
described; and he would have had me believe that there was a kind of
hitch in his hip-joint which answered the purpose. I suggested that he
should connect his two ankles by a string of the proper length, which
should be the chord of an arc measuring his jumping ability on
horizontal surfaces,--assuming one leg to be a perpendicular to the
plane of the horizon, which, however, may have been too bold an
assumption in this case. Nevertheless, this was a kind of geometry in
the legs which it interested me to hear of.

Our host took pleasure in telling us the names of the ponds, most of
which we could see from his windows, and making us repeat them after
him, to see if we had got them right. They were Gull Pond, (the largest
and a very handsome one, clear and deep, and more than a mile in
circumference,) Newcomb's, Swett's, Slough, Horse-Leech, Round, and
Herring Ponds,--all connected at high-water, if I do not mistake. The
coast-surveyors had come to him for their names, and he told them of one
which they had not detected. He said that they were not so high as
formerly. There was an earthquake about four years before he was born,
which cracked the pans of the ponds, which were of iron, and caused them
to settle. I did not remember to have read of this. Innumerable gulls
used to resort to them; but the large gulls were now very scarce, for,
as he said, the English robbed their nests far in the North, where they
breed. He remembered well when gulls were taken in the gull-house, and
when small birds were killed by means of a frying-pan and fire at night.
His father once lost a valuable horse from this cause. A party from
Wellfleet having lighted their fire for this purpose, one dark night, on
Billingsgate Island, twenty horses which were pastured there, and this
colt among them, being frightened by it, and endeavoring in the dark to
cross the passage which separated them from the neighboring beach, and
which was then fordable at low tide, were all swept out to sea and
drowned. I observed that many horses were still turned out to pasture
all summer on the islands and beaches in Wellfleet, Eastham, and
Orleans, as a kind of common. He also described the killing of what he
called "wild hens" here, after they had gone to roost in the woods, when
he was a boy. Perhaps they were "Prairie hens" (pinnated grouse).

He liked the beach pea, (_Lathyrus maritimus_,) cooked green, as well as
the cultivated. He had seen them growing very abundantly in
Newfoundland, where also the inhabitants ate them, but he had never been
able to obtain any ripe for seed. We read, under the head of Chatham,
that, "in 1555, during a time of great scarcity, the people about
Orford, in Sussex (England) were preserved from perishing by eating the
seeds of this plant, which grew there in great abundance on the
sea-coast. Cows, horses, sheep, and goats eat it." But the writer who
quoted this could not learn that they had ever been used in Barnstable

He had been a voyager, then?

Oh, he had been about the world in his day. He once considered himself a
pilot for all our coast; but now, they had changed the names so, he
might be bothered.

He gave us to taste what he called the Summer Sweeting, a pleasant apple
which he raised, and frequently grafted from, but had never seen growing
elsewhere, except once,--three trees on Newfoundland, or at the Bay of
Chaleur, I forget which, as he was sailing by. He was sure that he could
tell the tree at a distance.

At length the fool, whom my companion called the wizard, came in,
muttering between his teeth, "Damn book-peddlers,--all the time talking
about books. Better do something. Damn 'em, I'll shoot 'em. Got a doctor
down here. Damn him, I'll get a gun and shoot him"; never once holding
up his head. Whereat the old man stood up and said in a loud voice, as
if he were accustomed to command, and this was not the first time he had
been obliged to exert his authority there,--"John, go sit down, mind
your business,--we've heard you talk before,--precious little you'll
do,--your bark is worse than your bite." But, without minding, John
muttered the same gibberish over again, and then sat down at the table
which the old folks had left. He ate all there was on it, and then
turned to the apples which his aged mother was paring, that she might
give her guests some apple-sauce for breakfast; but she drew them away,
and sent him off.

When I approached this house the next summer, over the desolate hills
between it and the shore, which are worthy to have been the birthplace
of Ossian, I saw the wizard in the midst of a cornfield on the
hillside, but, as usual, he loomed so strangely that I mistook him for a

This was the merriest old man that we had ever seen, and one of the
best-preserved. His style of conversation was coarse and plain enough to
have suited Rabelais. He would have made a good Panurge. Or rather he
was a sober Silenus, and we were the boys Chromis and Mnasilus who
listened to his story.

    "Not by Hæmonian hills the Thracian bard,
    Nor awful Phoebus was on Pindus heard
    With deeper silence or with more regard."

There was a strange mingling of past and present in his conversation,
for he had lived under King George, and might have remembered when
Napoleon and the moderns generally were born. He said that one day, when
the troubles between the Colonies and the mother-country first broke
out, as he, a boy of fifteen, was pitching hay out of a cart, one Doane,
an old Tory, who was talking with his father, a good Whig, said to him,
"Why, Uncle Bill, you might as well undertake to pitch that pond into
the ocean with a pitchfork as for the Colonies to undertake to gain
their independence." He remembered well General Washington, and how he
rode his horse along the streets of Boston, and he stood up to show us
how he looked.

"He was a r-a-ther large and portly-looking man, a manly and
resolute-looking officer, with a pretty good leg, as he sat on his
horse.--There, I'll tell you, this was the way with Washington." Then he
jumped up again, and bowed gracefully to right and left, making show as
if he were waving his hat. Said he, "_That_ was Washington."

He told us many anecdotes of the Revolution, and was much pleased when
we told him that we had read the same in history, and that his account
agreed with the written.

"Oh," he said, "I know, I know! I was a young fellow of sixteen, with my
ears wide open; and a fellow of that age, you know, is pretty wide
awake, and likes to know everything that's going on. Oh, I know!"

He told us the story of the wreck of the Franklin, which took place
there the previous spring: how a boy came to his house early in the
morning to know whose boat that was by the shore, for there was a vessel
in distress; and he, being an old man, first ate his breakfast, and then
walked over to the top of the hill by the shore, and sat down there,
having found a comfortable seat, to see the ship wrecked. She was on the
bar, only a quarter of a mile from him, and still nearer to the men on
the beach, who had got a boat ready, but could render no assistance on
account of the breakers, for there was a pretty high sea running. There
were the passengers all crowded together in the forward part of the
ship, and some were getting out of the cabin-windows and were drawn on
deck by the others.

"I saw the captain get out his boat," said he; "he had one little one;
and then they jumped into it, one after another, down as straight as an
arrow. I counted them. There were nine. One was a woman, and she jumped
as straight as any of them. Then they shoved off. The sea took them
back, one wave went over them, and when they came up there were six
still clinging to the boat: I counted them. The next wave turned the
boat bottom upward, and emptied them all out. None of them ever came
ashore alive. There were the rest of them all crowded together on the
forecastle, the other parts of the ship being under water. They had seen
all that happened to the boat. At length a heavy sea separated the
forecastle from the rest of the wreck, and set it inside of the worst
breaker, and the boat was able to reach them, and it saved all that were
left, but one woman."

He also told us of the steamer Cambria's getting aground on his shore a
few months before we were there, and of her English passengers who
roamed over his grounds, and who, he said, thought the prospect from the
high hill by the shore "the most delightsome they had ever seen," and
also of the pranks which the ladies played with his scoop-net in the
ponds. He spoke of these travellers, with their purses full of guineas,
just as our Provincial fathers used to speak of British bloods in the
time of King George III.

_Quid loquar?_ Why repeat what he told us?

    "Aut Scyllam Nisi, quam fama secuta est,
    Candida succinctam latrantibus inguina monstris,
    Dulichias vexâsse rates, et gurgite in alto
    Ah timidos nautas canibus lacerâsse marinis?"

In the course of the evening I began to feel the potency of the clam
which I had eaten, and I was obliged to confess to our host that I was
no tougher than the cat he told of; but he answered, that he was a
plain-spoken man, and he could tell me that it was all imagination. At
any rate, it proved an emetic in my case, and I was made quite sick by
it for a short time, while he laughed at my expense. I was pleased to
read afterward, in Mourt's Relation of the Landing of the Pilgrims in
Provincetown Harbor, these words:--"We found great muscles," (the old
editor says that they were undoubtedly sea-clams,) "and very fat and
full of sea-pearl; but we could not eat them, for they made us all sick
that did eat, as well sailors as passengers, ... but they were soon well
again." It brought me nearer to the Pilgrims to be thus reminded by a
similar experience that I was so like them. Moreover, it was a valuable
confirmation of their story, and I am prepared now to believe every word
of Mourt's "Relation." I was also pleased to find that man and the clam
lay still at the same angle to one another. But I did not notice
sea-pearl. Like Cleopatra, I must have swallowed it. I have since dug
these clams on a flat in the Bay, and observed them. They could squirt
full ten feet before the wind, as appeared by the marks of the drops on
the sand.

"Now I am going to ask you a question," said the old man, "and I don't
know as you can tell me; but you are a learned man, and I never had any
learning, only what I got by natur."--It was in vain that we reminded
him that he could quote Josephus to our confusion.--"I've thought, if I
ever met a learned man, I should like to ask him this question. Can you
tell me how _Axy_ is spelt, and what it means? _Axy_," says he; "there's
a girl over here is named _Axy_. Now what is it? What does it mean? Is
it Scriptur? I've read my Bible twenty-five years over and over, and I
never came across it."

"Did you read it twenty-five years for this object?" I asked.

"Well, _how_ is it spelt? Wife, how is it spelt?"

She said,--"It is in the Bible; I've seen it."

"Well, how do you spell it?"

"I don't know. A c h, ach, s e h, seh,--Achseh."

"Does that spell Axy? Well, do _you_ know what it means?" asked he,
turning to me.

"No," I replied,--"I never heard the sound before."

"There was a schoolmaster down here once, and they asked him what it
meant, and he said it had no more meaning than a bean-pole."

I told him that I held the same opinion with the schoolmaster. I had
been a schoolmaster myself, and had had strange names to deal with. I
also heard of such names as Zoheth, Beriah, Amaziah, Bethuel, and
Shearjashub, hereabouts.

At length the little boy, who had a seat quite in the chimney-corner,
took off his stockings and shoes, warmed his feet, and went off to bed;
then the fool followed him; and finally the old man. He proceeded to
make preparations for retiring, discoursing meanwhile with Panurgic
plainness of speech on the ills to which old humanity is subject. We
were a rare haul for him. He could commonly get none but ministers to
talk to, though sometimes ten of them at once, and he was glad to meet
some of the laity at leisure. The evening was not long enough for him.
As I had been sick, the old lady asked if I would not go to bed,--it was
getting late for old people; but the old man, who had not yet done his
stories, said,--

"You a'n't particular, are you?"

"Oh, no," said I,--"I am in no hurry. I believe I have weathered the
Clam cape."

"They are good," said he; "I wish I had some of them now."

"They never hurt me," said the old lady.

"But then you took out the part that killed a cat," said I.

At last we cut him short in the midst of his stories, which he promised
to resume in the morning. Yet, after all, one of the old ladies who came
into our room in the night to fasten the fire-board, which rattled, as
she went out took the precaution to fasten us in. Old women are by
nature more suspicious than old men. However, the winds howled around
the house, and made the fire-boards as well as the casements rattle well
that night. It was probably a windy night for any locality, but we could
not distinguish the roar which was proper to the ocean from that which
was due to the wind alone.

The sounds which the ocean makes must be very significant and
interesting to those who live near it. When I was leaving the shore at
this place the next summer, and had got a quarter of a mile distant,
ascending a hill, I was startled by a sudden, loud sound from the sea,
as if a large steamer were letting off steam by the shore, so that I
caught my breath and felt my blood run cold for an instant, and I turned
about, expecting to see one of the Atlantic steamers thus far out of her
course; but there was nothing unusual to be seen. There was a low bank
at the entrance of the Hollow, between me and the ocean, and suspecting
that I might have risen into another stratum of air in ascending the
hill, which had wafted to me only the ordinary roar of the sea, I
immediately descended again, to see if I lost the sound; but, without
regard to my ascending or descending, it died away in a minute or two,
and yet there was scarcely any wind all the while. The old man said that
this was what they called the "rut," a peculiar roar of the sea before
the wind changes, which, however, he could, not account for. He thought
that he could tell all about the weather from the sounds which the sea

Old Josselyn, who came to New England in 1638, has it among his
weather-signs, that "the resounding of the sea from the shore, and
murmuring of the winds in the woods, without apparent wind, sheweth wind
to follow."

Being on another part of the coast one night afterwards, I heard the
roar of the surf a mile distant, and the inhabitants said it was a sign
that the wind would work round east, and we should have rainy weather.
The ocean was heaped up somewhere at the eastward, and this roar was
occasioned by its effort to preserve its equilibrium, the wave reaching
the shore before the wind. Also the captain of a packet between this
country and England told me that he sometimes met with a wave on the
Atlantic coming against the wind, perhaps in a calm sea, which indicated
that at a distance the wind was blowing from an opposite quarter, but
the undulation had travelled faster than it. Sailors tell of "tide-rips"
and "ground-swells," which they suppose to have been occasioned by
hurricanes and earthquakes, and to have travelled many hundred, and
sometimes even two or three thousand miles.

Before sunrise the next morning they let us out again, and I ran over to
the beach to see the sun come out of the ocean. The old woman of
eighty-four winters was already out in the cold morning wind,
bare-headed, tripping about like a young girl, and driving up the cow to
milk. She got the breakfast with despatch, and without noise or bustle;
and meanwhile the old man resumed his stories.

After breakfast we looked at his clock, which was out of order, and
oiled it with some "hen's grease," for want of sweet oil, for he
scarcely could believe that we were not tinkers or peddlers; meanwhile
he told a story about visions, which had reference to a crack in the
clock-case made by frost one night. He was curious to know to what
religious sect we belonged. He said that he had been to hear thirteen
kinds of preaching in one month, when he was young, but he did not join
any of them,--he stuck to his Bible: there was nothing like any of them
in his Bible. While I was shaving in the next room, I heard him ask my
companion to what sect he belonged, to which he answered,--

"Oh, I belong to the Universal Brotherhood."

"What's that?" he asked,--"Sons o' Temperance?"

Finally, filling our pockets with doughnuts, which he was pleased to
find that we called by the same name that he did, and paying for our
entertainment, we took our departure; but he followed us out of doors,
and made us tell him the names of the vegetables which he had raised
from seeds that came out of the Franklin. They were cabbage, broccoli,
and parsley. As I had asked him the names of so many things, he tried me
in turn with all the plants which grew in his garden, both wild and
cultivated. It was about half an acre, which he cultivated wholly
himself. Besides the common garden-vegetables, there were Yellow-Dock,
Lemon-Balm, Hyssop, Gill-go-over-the-ground, Mouse-ear, Chickweed, Roman
Wormwood, Elecampane, and other plants. As we stood there, I saw a
fish-hawk stoop to pick a fish out of his pond.

"There," said I, "he has got a fish."

"Well," said the old man, who was looking all the while, but could see
nothing, "he didn't dive, he just wet his claws."

And, sure enough, he did not this time, though it is said that they
often do, but he merely stooped low enough to pick him out with his
talons; but as he bore his shining prey over the bushes, it fell to the
ground, and we did not see that he recovered it. That is not their

Thus, having had another crack with the old man, he standing bareheaded
under the eaves, he directed us "athwart the fields," and we took to the
beach again for another day, it being now late in the morning.

It was but a day or two after this that the safe of the Provincetown
Bank was broken open and robbed by two men from the interior, and we
learned that our hospitable entertainers did at least transiently harbor
the suspicion that we were the men.

       *       *       *       *       *



"I remember," says "The Spectator," "upon Mr. Baxter's death, there was
published a sheet of very good sayings, inscribed, 'The Last Words of
Mr. Baxter.' The title sold so great a number of these papers that about
a week after there came out a second sheet, inscribed, 'More Last Words
of Mr. Baxter.'" And so kindly and gladly did the public--or at least
that portion of the public that read the "Atlantic Monthly"--receive the
specimens of Charles Lamb's uncollected writings, published somewhile
since in these pages, that I am induced to print another paper on the
same pleasant and entertaining subject.

The success of that piece of "ingenious nonsense," that gem of
biographical literature, the unique and veracious "Memoir of Liston,"
over which the lovers of wit and the lovers of Charles Lamb have had
many a good laugh, was so great that Lamb was encouraged to try his hand
at another theatrical memoir, and produced a mock and mirthful
autobiography of his old friend and favorite comedian, Munden, whom he
had previously immortalized in one of the best and most admired of the
"Essays of Elia."

Those who enjoyed the biography of Liston will chuckle over the
autobiography of Munden. It was certainly a happy idea to represent
Munden as writing a sketch of his life,--not to gratify his own vanity,
or for the pleasure and entertainment of the public, but solely and
purposely to prevent the truthful and matter-of-fact biographer of
Liston from making the old player the subject of a biographical work.
The veteran actor's vehement protests against being represented as a
Presbyterian or Anabaptist, and his brief, but pungent comments on
certain passages in the Liston biography, are delightful. Methinks I see
the old man,--

    "The gray-haired man of glee,"--

the great and wonderful impersonator of the "Cobbler of Preston" and
"Old Dozey,"--methinks I see this fine actor, this genial and jovial
comedian, and his son, gravely and carefully examining the great map of
Kent in search of Lupton Magna!

Leigh Hunt, in his Autobiography, speaking of some of Elia's
contributions to the "London Magazine," thus mentions these two
"he-children" of Lamb's:--

"He wrote in the same magazine two lives of Liston and Munden, which the
public took for serious, and which exhibit an extraordinary jumble of
imaginary facts and truth of by-painting. Munden he made born at "Stoke
Pogis"; the very sound of which was like the actor speaking and digging
his words."

       *       *       *       *       *


_In a Letter to the Editor of the "London Magazine."_

Hark'ee, Mr. Editor. A word in your ear. They tell me you are going to
put me in print,--in print, Sir; to publish my life. What is my life to
you, Sir? What is it to you whether I ever lived at all? My life is a
very good life, Sir. I am insured at the Pelican, Sir. I am threescore
years and six,--six; mark me, Sir: but I can play Polonius, which, I
believe, few of your corre--correspondents can do, Sir. I suspect
tricks, Sir; I smell a rat: I do, I do. You would cog the die upon us:
you would, you would, Sir. But I will forestall you, Sir. You would be
deriving me from William the Conqueror, with a murrain to you. It is no
such thing, Sir. The town shall know better, Sir. They begin to smoke
your flams, Sir. Mr. Liston may be born where he pleases, Sir; but I
will not be born at Lup--Lupton Magna for anybody's pleasure, Sir. My
son and I have looked over the great map of Kent together, and we can
find no such place as you would palm upon us, Sir,--palm upon us, I say.
Neither Magna nor Parva, as my son says; and he knows Latin,
Sir,--Latin. If you write my life true, Sir, you must set down, that I,
Joseph Munden, comedian, came into the world upon Allhallows Day, Anno
Domini 1759,--1759; no sooner nor later, Sir: and I saw the first
light--the first light, remember, Sir--at Stoke Pogis,--Stoke Pogis,
_comitatu_ Bucks, and not at Lup--Lup Magna, which I believe to be no
better than moonshine,--moonshine; do you mark me, Sir? I wonder you can
put such flim-flams upon us, Sir: I do, I do. It does not become you,
Sir: I say it,--I say it. And my father was an honest tradesman, Sir: he
dealt in malt and hops, Sir; and was a Corporation-man, Sir; and of the
Church of England, Sir; and no Presbyterian, nor Ana--Anabaptist, Sir;
however you may be disposed to make honest people believe to the
contrary, Sir. Your bams are found out, Sir. The town will be your
stale puts no longer, Sir; and you must not send us jolly fellows,
Sir,--we that are comedians, Sir,--you must not send us into groves and
Charn--Charnwoods a-moping, Sir. Neither Charns, nor charnel-houses,
Sir. It is not our constitutions, Sir: I tell it you,--I tell it you. I
was a droll dog from my cradle. I came into the world tittering, and the
midwife tittered, and the gossips spilt their caudle with tittering; and
when I was brought to the font, the parson could not christen me for
tittering. So I was never more than half baptized. And when I was little
Joey, I made 'em all titter; there was not a melancholy face to be seen
in Pogis. Pure nature, Sir. I was born a comedian. Old Screwup, the
undertaker, could tell you, Sir, if he were living. Why, I was obliged
to be locked up every time there was to be a funeral at Pogis. I was, I
was, Sir. I used to _grimace_ at the mutes, as he called it, and put 'em
out with my mops and my mows, till they couldn't stand at a door for me.
And when I was locked up, with nothing but a cat in my company, I
followed my bent with trying to make her laugh; and sometimes she would,
and sometimes she would not. And my schoolmaster could make nothing of
me: I had only to thrust my tongue in my cheek,--in my cheek, Sir,--and
the rod dropped from his fingers; and so my education was limited, Sir.
And I grew up a young fellow, and it was thought convenient to enter me
upon some course of life that should make me serious; but it wouldn't
do, Sir. And I articled to a dry-salter. My father gave forty pounds
premium with me, Sir. I can show the indent--dent--dentures, Sir. But I
was born to be a comedian, Sir: so I ran away, and listed with the
players, Sir; and I topt my parts at Amersham and Gerrard's Cross, and
played my own father to his face, in his own town of Pogis, in the part
of Gripe, when I was not full seventeen years of age; and he did not
know me again, but he knew me afterwards; and then he laughed, and I
laughed, and, what is better, the dry-salter laughed, and gave me up my
articles for the joke's sake: so that I came into court afterwards with
clean hands,--with clean hands; do you see, Sir?

[Here the manuscript becomes illegible for two or three sheets onwards,
which we presume to be occasioned by the absence of Mr. Munden, jun.,
who clearly transcribed it for the press thus far. The rest (with the
exception of the concluding paragraph, which seemingly is resumed in the
first handwriting) appears to contain a confused account of some lawsuit
in which the elder Munden was engaged; with a circumstantial history of
the proceedings on a case of breach of promise of marriage, made to or
by (we cannot pick out which) Jemima Munden, spinster, probably the
comedian's cousin, for it does not appear he had any sister; with a few
dates, rather better preserved, of this great actor's engagements,--as
"Cheltenham, [spelt Cheltnam,] 1776," "Bath, 1779," "London,
1789,"--together with stage-anecdotes of Messrs. Edwin, Wilson, Lee,
Lewis, etc.; over which we have strained our eyes to no purpose, in the
hope of presenting something amusing to the public. Towards the end, the
manuscript brightens up a little, as we have said, and concludes in the
following manner.]

---- stood before them for six-and-thirty years, [we suspect that Mr.
Munden is here speaking of his final leave-taking of the stage,] and to
be dismissed at last. But I was heart-whole,--heart-whole to the last,
Sir. What though a few drops did course themselves down the old
veteran's cheeks? who could help it, Sir? I was a giant that night, Sir,
and could have played fifty parts, each as arduous as Dozey. My
faculties were never better, Sir. But I was to be laid upon the shelf.
It did not suit the public to laugh with their old servant any longer,
Sir. [Here some moisture has blotted a sentence or two.] But I can play
Polonius still, Sir: I can, I can.

    Your servant, Sir,

       *       *       *       *       *

In the "Reflector," a short-lived periodical set up by Leigh Hunt, and
in which Lamb's quaint and beautiful poem, "A Farewell to Tobacco," and
his masterly critical essays on "The Tragedies of Shakspeare," and on
"The Genius of Hogarth," and other of his early writings, appeared, I
find the following characteristic article from Elia's pen.

The reader will observe (and smile as he observes) that there is a great
difference between the "good clerk" of fifty years ago and the "good
clerk" of to-day. He of yesterday is a wonderfully simple, humble,
automaton-like person, in comparison with the brisk, dashing,
independent "votaries of the desk" of the year eighteen hundred and

       *       *       *       *       *


THE GOOD CLERK.--He writeth a fair and swift hand, and is
competently versed in the four first rules of arithmetic, in the Rule of
Three, (which is sometimes called the Golden Rule,) and in Practice. We
mention these things that we may leave no room for cavillers to say that
anything essential hath been omitted in our definition; else, to speak
the truth, these are but ordinary accomplishments, and such as every
understrapper at a desk is commonly furnished with. The character we
treat of soareth higher.

He is clean and neat in his person, not from a vainglorious desire of
setting himself forth to advantage in the eyes of the other sex,--with
which vanity too many of our young sparks nowadays are infected,--but to
do credit, as we say, to the office. For this reason, he evermore taketh
care that his desk or his books receive no soil; the which things he is
commonly as solicitous to have fair and unblemished as the owner of a
fine horse is to have him appear in good keep.

He riseth early in the morning,--not because early rising conduceth to
health, (though he doth not altogether despise that consideration,) but
chiefly to the intent that he may be first at the desk. There is his
post, there he delighteth to be, unless when his meals or necessity
calleth him away; which time he alway esteemeth as lost, and maketh as
short as possible.

He is temperate in eating and drinking, that he may preserve a clear
head and steady hand for his master's service. He is also partly induced
to this observation of the rules of temperance by his respect for
religion and the laws of his country; which things, it may once for all
be noted, do add especial assistances to his actions, but do not and
cannot furnish the main spring or motive thereto. His first ambition, as
appeareth all along, is to be a good clerk; his next, a good Christian,
a good patriot, etc.

Correspondent to this, he keepeth himself honest, not for fear of the
laws, but because he hath observed how unseemly an article it maketh in
the day-book or ledger when a sum is set down lost or missing; it being
his pride to make these books to agree and to tally, the one side with
the other, with a sort of architectural symmetry and correspondence.

He marrieth, or marrieth not, as best suiteth with his employer's views.
Some merchants do the rather desire to have married men in their
counting-houses, because they think the married state a pledge for their
servants' integrity, and an incitement to them to be industrious; and it
was an observation of a late Lord-Mayor of London, that the sons of
clerks do generally prove clerks themselves, and that merchants
encouraging persons in their employ to marry, and to have families, was
the best method of securing a breed of sober, industrious young men
attached to the mercantile interest. Be this as it may, such a character
as we have been describing will wait till the pleasure of his employer
is known on this point, and regulateth his desires by the custom of the
house or firm to which he belongeth.

He avoideth profane oaths and jesting, as so much time lost from his
employ. What spare time he hath for conversation, which in a
counting-house such as we have been supposing can be but small, he
spendeth in putting seasonable questions to such of his fellows (and
sometimes _respectfully_ to the master himself) who can give him
information respecting the price and quality of goods, the state of
exchange, or the latest improvements in book-keeping; thus making the
motion of his lips, as well as of his fingers, subservient to his
master's interest. Not that be refuseth a brisk saying, or a cheerful
sally of wit, when it comes unforced, is free of offence, and hath a
convenient brevity. For this reason, he hath commonly some such phrase
as this in his mouth,--

    "It's a slovenly look
    To blot your book."


    "Red ink for ornament, black for use:
    The best of things are open to abuse."

So upon the eve of any great holiday, of which he keepeth one or two at
least every year, he will merrily say, in the hearing of a confidential
friend, but to none other,--

    "All work and no play'
    Makes Jack a dull boy."


    "A bow always bent must crack at last."

But then this must always be understood to be spoken confidentially,
and, as we say, _under the rose_.

Lastly, his dress is plain, without singularity,--with no other ornament
than the quill, which is the badge of his function, stuck behind the
dexter ear, and this rather for convenience of having it at hand, when
he hath been called away from his desk, and expecteth to resume his seat
there again shortly, than from any delight which he taketh in foppery or
ostentation. The color of his clothes is generally noted to be black
rather than brown, brown rather than blue or green. His whole deportment
is staid, modest, and civil. His motto is "Regularity."

       *       *       *       *       *

This character was sketched in an interval of business, to divert some
of the melancholy hours of a counting-house. It is so little a creature
of fancy, that it is scarce anything more than a recollection of some of
those frugal and economical maxims which about the beginning of the last
century (England's meanest period) were endeavored to be inculcated and
instilled into the breasts of the London apprentices[E] by a class of
instructors who might not inaptly be termed "The Masters of Mean
Morals." The astonishing narrowness and illiberality of the lessons
contained in some of those books is inconceivable by those whose studies
have not led them that way, and would almost induce one to subscribe to
the hard censure which Drayton has passed upon the mercantile spirit,--

    "The gripple merchant, born to be the curse
    Of this brave isle."

In the laudable endeavor to eke out "a something contracted income,"
Lamb, in his younger days, essayed to write lottery-puffs,--(Byron, we
know, was accused of writing lottery-puffs,)--but he did not succeed
very well in the task. His samples were returned on his hands, as "done
in too severe and terse a style." Some Grub-Street hack--a
nineteenth-century Tom Brown or Mr. Dash--succeeded in composing these
popular and ingenious productions; but the man who wrote the Essays of
Elia could not write a successful lottery-puff. At this exult, O
mediocrity! and take courage, man of genius!

Although Elia was an unsuccessful lottery-puffer, he always took special
interest in lotteries, and was present at the drawing of many of them.

Mr. Bickerstaff, we remember,--though I fear that in these days the
pleasant and profitable pages of "The Father" are hardly more known to
the generality of readers than the lost books of Livy or the missing
cantos of the "Faërie Queene,"--possibly we may remember, I say, that
the wise, witty, learned, eloquent, delightful Mr. Bickerstaff, in order
to raise the requisite sum to purchase a ticket in the (then) newly
erected lottery, sold off a couple of globes and a telescope (the
venerable Isaac was a Professor of Palmistry and Astrology, as well as
Censor of Great Britain); and finding by a learned calculation that it
was but a hundred and fifty thousand to one against his being worth one
thousand pounds for thirty-two years, he spent many days and nights in
preparing his mind for this change of fortune.

And albeit I do not believe that Lamb, in his poorest and most needy
days, was ever tempted by any Alnaschar-dreams of wealth to exchange the
raggedest and least valuable of his "midnight darlings" for the
wherewithal to purchase lottery-tickets, I dare say the money which Elia
had saved for the purchase of some choice and long-coveted old folio or
other went into the coffers of the lottery-dealers. Though Lamb drew
nothing but blanks, "or those more vexatious tantalizers of the spirit,
denominated small prizes," yet he held himself largely indebted to the
Lottery, and, upon its abolition in England in 1825, he wrote a long,
eloquent, pathetic discourse on the great departed. It appeared in
Colburn's "New Monthly Magazine," and is, I think, a very pleasant,
entertaining paper, worthy of its subject, and not unworthy of the pen
of Charles Lamb. I take great pleasure in introducing the article to the
readers of the "Atlantic."

       *       *       *       *       *


    "Nought but a blank remains, a dead void space,
    A step of life that promised such a race."


Napoleon has now sent us back from the grave sufficient echoes of his
living renown: the twilight of posthumous fame has lingered long enough
over the spot where the sun of his glory set; and his name must at
length repose in the silence, if not in the darkness of night. In this
busy and evanescent scene, other spirits of the age are rapidly snatched
away, claiming our undivided sympathies and regrets, until in turn they
yield to some newer and more absorbing grief. Another name is now added
to the list of the mighty departed,--a name whose influence upon the
hopes and fears, the fates and fortunes of our countrymen, has rivalled,
and perhaps eclipsed, that of the defunct "child and champion of
Jacobinism," while it is associated with all the sanctions of legitimate
government, all the sacred authorities of social order and our most holy
religion. We speak of one, indeed, under whose warrant heavy and
incessant contributions were imposed upon our fellow-citizens, but who
exacted nothing without the signet and the sign-manual of most devout
Chancellors of the Exchequer. Not to dally longer with the sympathies of
our readers, we think it right to premonish them that we are composing
an epicedium upon no less distinguished a personage than the Lottery,
whose last breath, after many penultimate puffs, has been sobbed forth
by sorrowing contractors, as if the world itself were about to be
converted into a blank. There is a fashion of eulogy, as well as of
vituperation, and, though the Lottery stood for some time in the latter
predicament, we hesitate not to assert that "_multis ille bonis flebilis
occidit_." Never have we joined in the senseless clamor which condemned
the only tax whereto we became voluntary contributors, the only
resource which gave the stimulus without the danger or infatuation of
gambling, the only alembic which in these plodding days sublimized our
imaginations, and filled them with more delicious dreams than ever
flitted athwart the sensorium of Alnaschar.

Never can the writer forget, when, as a child, he was hoisted upon a
servant's shoulder in Guildhall, and looked down upon the installed and
solemn pomp of the then drawing Lottery. The two awful cabinets of iron,
upon whose massy and mysterious portals the royal initials were
gorgeously emblazoned, as if, after having deposited the unfulfilled
prophecies within, the King himself had turned the lock, and still
retained the key in his pocket,--the blue-coat boy, with his naked arm,
first converting the invisible wheel, and then diving into the dark
recess for a ticket,--the grave and reverend faces of the commissioners
eying the announced number,--the scribes below calmly committing it to
their huge books,--the anxious countenances of the surrounding
populace,--while the giant figures of Gog and Magog, like presiding
deities, looked down with a grim silence upon the whole
proceeding,--constituted altogether a scene which, combined with the
sudden wealth supposed to be lavished from those inscrutable wheels, was
well calculated to impress the imagination of a boy with reverence and
amazement. Jupiter, seated between the two fatal urns of good and evil,
the blind goddess with her cornucopia, the Parcæ wielding the distaff,
the thread of life, and the abhorred shears, seemed but dim and shadowy
abstractions of mythology, when I had gazed upon an assemblage
exercising, as I dreamt, a not less eventful power, and all presented to
me in palpable and living operation. Reason and experience, ever at
their old spiteful work of catching and destroying the bubbles which
youth delighted to follow, have indeed dissipated much of this illusion;
but my mind so far retained the influence of that early impression, that
I have ever since continued to deposit my humble offerings at its
shrine, whenever the ministers of the Lottery went forth with type and
trumpet to announce its periodical dispensations; and though nothing has
been doled out to me from its uudiscerning coffers but blanks, or those
more vexatious tantalizers of the spirit denominated small prizes, yet
do I hold myself largely indebted to this most generous diffuser of
universal happiness. Ingrates that we are, are we to be thankful for no
benefits that are not palpable to sense, to recognize no favors that are
not of marketable value, to acknowledge no wealth unless it can be
counted with the five fingers? If we admit the mind to be the sole
depositary of genuine joy, where is the bosom that has not been elevated
into a temporary Elysium by the magic of the Lottery? Which of us has
not converted his ticket, or even his sixteenth share of one, into a
nest-egg of Hope, upon which he has sat brooding in the secret
roosting-places of his heart, and hatched it into a thousand fantastical

What a startling revelation of the passions, if all the aspirations
engendered by the Lottery could be made manifest! Many an impecuniary
epicure has gloated over his locked-up warrant for future wealth, as a
means of realizing the dream of his namesake in the "Alchemist":--

    "My meat shall all come in in Indian shells,--
    Dishes of agate set in gold, and studded
    With emeralds, sapphires, hyacinths, and rubies;
    The tongues of carps, dormice, and camels' heels,
    Boiled i' the spirit of Sol, and dissolved in pearl
    (Apicius' diet 'gainst the epilepsy);
    And I will eat these broths with spoons of amber
    Headed with diamant and carbuncle.
    My footboy shall eat pheasants, calvered salmons,
    Knots, goodwits, lampreys. I myself will have
    The beards of barbels served; instead of salads,
    Oiled mushrooms, and the swelling unctuous paps
    Of a fat pregnant sow, newly cut off,
    Dressed with an exquisite and poignant sauce,
    For which I'll say unto my cook, 'There's gold:
    Go forth, and he a knight.'"

Many a doting lover has kissed the scrap of paper whose promissory
shower of gold was to give up to him his otherwise unattainable Danaë;
Nimrods have transformed the same narrow symbol into a saddle by which
they have been enabled to bestride the backs of peerless hunters; while
nymphs have metamorphosed its Protean form into

    "Rings, gauds, conceits,
    Knacks, trifles, nosegays, sweetmeats,"

and all the braveries of dress, to say nothing of the obsequious
husband, the two-footmaned carriage, and the opera-box. By the simple
charm of this numbered and printed rag, gamesters have, for a time at
least, recovered their losses, spendthrifts have cleared off mortgages
from their estates, the imprisoned debtor has leaped over his lofty
boundary of circumscription and restraint and revelled in all the joys
of liberty and fortune, the cottage-walls have swelled out into more
goodly proportion than those of Baucis and Philemon, poverty has tasted
the luxuries of competence, labor has lolled at ease in a perpetual
armchair of idleness, sickness has been bribed into banishment, life has
been invested with new charms, and death deprived of its former terrors.
Nor have the affections been less gratified than the wants, appetites,
and ambitions of mankind. By the conjurations of the same potent spell,
kindred have lavished anticipated benefits upon one another, and charity
upon all. Let it be termed a delusion,--a fool's Paradise is better than
the wise man's Tartarus; be it branded as an _ignis-fatuus_,--it was at
least a benevolent one, which, instead of beguiling its followers into
swamps, caverns, and pitfalls, allured them on with all the
blandishments of enchantment to a garden of Eden, an ever-blooming
Elysium of delight. True, the pleasures it bestowed were evanescent: but
which of our joys are permanent? and who so inexperienced as not to know
that anticipation is always of higher relish than reality, which strikes
a balance both in our sufferings and enjoyments? "The fear of ill
exceeds the ill we fear"; and fruition, in the same proportion,
invariably falls short of hope. "Men are but children of a larger
growth," who may amuse themselves for a long time in gazing at the
reflection of the moon in the water; but, if they jump in to grasp it,
they may grope forever, and only get the farther from their object. He
is the wisest who keeps feeding upon the future, and refrains as long as
possible from undeceiving himself by converting his pleasant
speculations into disagreeable certainties.

The true mental epicure always purchased his ticket early, and postponed
inquiry into its fate to the last possible moment, during the whole of
which intervening period he had an imaginary twenty thousand locked up
in his desk: and was not this well worth all the money? Who would
scruple to give twenty pounds interest for even the ideal enjoyment of
as many thousands during two or three months? "_Crede quod habes, et
habes_"; and the usufruct of such a capital is sorely not dear at such a
price. Some years ago, a gentleman, in passing along Cheapside, saw the
figures 1,069, of which number he was the sole proprietor, flaming on
the window of a lottery-office as a capital prize. Somewhat flurried by
this discovery, not less welcome than unexpected, he resolved to walk
round St. Paul's that he might consider in what way to communicate the
happy tidings to his wife and family; but, upon repassing the shop, he
observed that the number was altered to 10,069, and, upon inquiry, had
the mortification to learn that his ticket was a blank, and had only
been stuck up in the window by a mistake of the clerk. This effectually
calmed his agitation; but he always speaks of himself as having once
possessed twenty thousand pounds, and maintains that his ten-minutes'
walk round St. Paul's was worth ten times the purchase-money of the
ticket. A prize thus obtained has, moreover, this special advantage: it
is beyond the reach of fate; it cannot be squandered; bankruptcy cannot
lay siege to it; friends cannot pull it down, nor enemies blow it up; it
bears a charmed life, and none of woman born can break its integrity,
even by the dissipation of a single fraction. Show me the property in
these perilous times that is equally compact and impregnable. We can no
longer become enriched for a quarter of an hour; we can no longer
succeed in such splendid failures: all our chances of making such a miss
have vanished with the last of the Lotteries.

Life will now become a flat, prosaic routine of matter-of-fact; and
sleep itself, erst so prolific of numerical configurations and
mysterious stimulants to lottery-adventure, will be disfurnished of its
figures and figments. People will cease to harp upon the one lucky
number suggested in a dream, and which forms the exception, while they
are scrupulously silent upon the ten thousand falsified dreams which
constitute the rule. Morpheus will stifle Cocker with a handful of
poppies, and our pillows will be no longer haunted by the book of

And who, too, shall maintain the art and mystery of puffing in all its
pristine glory, when the lottery-professors shall have abandoned its
cultivation? They were the first, as they will assuredly be the last,
who fully developed the resources of that ingenious art,--who cajoled
and decoyed the most suspicious and wary reader into a perusal of their
advertisements by devices of endless variety and cunning,--who baited
their lurking schemes with midnight murders, ghost-stories, crim-cons,
bon-mots, balloons, dreadful catastrophes, and every diversity of joy
and sorrow, to catch newspaper-gudgeons. Ought not such talents to be
encouraged? Verily the abolitionists have much to answer for!

And now, having established the felicity of all those who gained
imaginary prizes, let us proceed to show that the equally numerous class
who were presented with real blanks have not less reason to consider
themselves happy. Most of us have cause to be thankful for that which is
bestowed; but we have all, probably, reason to be still more grateful
for that which is withheld, and more especially for our being denied the
sudden possession of riches. In the Litany, indeed, we Call upon the
Lord to deliver us "in all time of our wealth"; but how few of us are
sincere in deprecating such a calamity! Massinger's _Luke_, and Ben
Jonson's _Sir Epicure Mammon_, and Pope's _Sir Balaam_, and our own
daily observation, might convince us that the Devil "now tempts by
making rich, not making poor." We may read in the "Guardian" a
circumstantial account of a man who was utterly ruined by gaining a
capital prize; we may recollect what Dr. Johnson said to Garrick, when
the latter was making a display of his wealth at Hampton Court,--"Ah,
David! David! these are the things that make a death-bed terrible"; we
may recall the Scripture declaration as to the difficulty a rich man
finds in entering into the kingdom of heaven; and, combining all these
denunciations against opulence, let us heartily congratulate one another
upon our lucky escape from the calamity of a twenty or thirty thousand
pound prize! The fox in the fable, who accused the unattainable grapes
of sourness, was more of a philosopher than we are generally willing to
allow. He was an adept in that species of moral alchemy which turns
everything to gold, and converts disappointment itself into a ground of
resignation and content. Such we have shown to be the great lesson
inculcated by the Lottery, when rightly contemplated; and if we might
parody M. de Châteaubriand's jingling expression, "_Le Roi est mort:
vive le Roi_!" we should be tempted to exclaim, "The Lottery is no more:
long live the Lottery!"

       *       *       *       *       *

The foregoing article, as the reader may possibly remember, was not
Lamb's only contribution to the "New Monthly Magazine." Indeed, it was
in that pleasant and popular periodical,--then at the height of its
popularity, with many of the most admired writers in Great Britain among
its contributors, and edited by the elegant and polished poet who sang
the "Pleasures of Hope,"--it was in this magazine that Elia's admirable
"Popular Fallacies" were first given to the world. (I fear, however,
that the exquisite grace, beauty, and polish of these delightful papers
were hardly appreciated by the readers of the "New Monthly.") And it was
for this publication that he undertook to write a novel. Although Elia
had but little fancy for novels himself, and in the writing of them
would not have done justice, perhaps, to his rare genius, yet,
nevertheless, I suspect that all admirers of "Rosamund Gray," if not all
readers of novels, regret that he did not complete the work of fiction
he began for the "New Monthly Magazine." Judging from the specimen that
was published, it would have been, had the author seen fit to finish it,
quite an original and very characteristic production. Here is the first
chapter of the story. Though advertised to be continued, this is all of
it that ever appeared.

       *       *       *       *       *


I am the only son of a considerable brazier in Birmingham, who, dying in
1803, left me successor to the business, with no other incumbrance than
a sort of rent-charge, which I am enjoined to pay out of it, of
ninety-three pounds sterling _per annum_, to his widow, my mother, and
which the improving state of the concern, I bless God, has hitherto
enabled me to discharge with punctuality. (I say, I am enjoined to pay
the said sum, but not strictly obligated: that is to say, as the will is
worded, I believe the law would relieve me from the payment of it; but
the wishes of a dying parent should in some sort have the effect of
law.) So that, though the annual profits of my business, on an average
of the last three or four years, would appear to an indifferent
observer, who should inspect my shop-books, to amount to the sum of one
thousand three hundred and three pounds, odd shillings, the real
proceeds in that time have fallen short of that sum to the amount of the
aforesaid payment of ninety-three pounds sterling annually.

I was always my father's favorite. He took a delight, to the very last,
in recounting the little sagacious tricks and innocent artifices of my
childhood. One manifestation thereof I never heard him repeat without
tears of joy trickling down his cheeks. It seems, that, when I quitted
the parental roof, (August 27th, 1788,) being then six years and not
quite a month old, to proceed to the Free School at Warwick, where my
father was a sort of trustee, my mother--as mothers are usually
provident on these occasions--had stuffed the pockets of the coach,
which was to convey me and six more children of my own growth that were
going to be entered along with me at the same seminary, with a
prodigious quantity of gingerbread, which I remember my father said was
more than was needed: and so, indeed, it was; for, if I had been to eat
it all myself, it would have got stale and mouldly before it had been
half spent. The consideration whereof set me upon my contrivances how I
might secure to myself as much of the gingerbread as would keep good for
the next two or three days, and yet none of the rest in a manner be
wasted. I had a little pair of pocket-compasses, which I usually carried
about me for the purpose of making draughts and measurements, at which I
was always very ingenious, of the various engines and mechanical
inventions in which such a town as Birmingham abounded. By the means of
these, and a small penknife which my father had given me, I cut out the
one half of the cake, calculating that the remainder would reasonably
serve my turn; and subdividing it into many little slices, which were
curious to see for the neatness and niceness of their proportion, I sold
it out in so many pennyworths to my young companions as served us all
the way to Warwick, which is a distance of some twenty miles from this,
town: and very merry, I assure you, we made ourselves with it, feasting
all the way. By this honest stratagem, I put double the prime cost of
the gingerbread into my purse, and secured as much as I thought would
keep good and moist for my next two or three days' eating. When I told
this to my parents, on their first visit to me at Warwick, my father
(good man) patted me on the cheek, and stroked my head, and seemed as if
he could never make enough of me; but my mother unaccountably burst into
tears, and said "it was a very niggardly action," or some such
expression, and that "she would rather it would please God to take
me"--meaning, God help me, that I should die--"than that she should live
to see me grow up a _mean man_": which shows the difference of parent
from parent, and how some mothers are more harsh and intolerant to their
children than some fathers,--when we might expect quite the contrary. My
father, however, loaded me with presents from that time, which made me
the envy of my school-fellows. As I felt this growing disposition in
them, I naturally sought to avert it by all the means in my power; and
from that time I used to eat my little packages of fruit and other nice
things in a corner, so privately that I was never found out. Once, I
remember, I had a huge apple sent me, of that sort which they call
_cats'-heads_. I concealed this all day under my pillow; and at night,
but not before I had ascertained that my bed-fellow was sound
asleep,--which I did by pinching him rather smartly two or three times,
which he seemed to perceive no more than a dead person, though once or
twice he made a motion as if he would turn, which frightened me,--I say,
when I had made all sure, I fell to work upon my apple; and though it
was as big as an ordinary man's two fists, I made shift to get through
it before it was time to get up. And a more delicious feast I never
made,--thinking all night what a good parent I had (I mean my father) to
send me so many nice things, when the poor lad that lay by me had no
parent or friend in the world to send him anything nice; and thinking of
his desolate condition, I munched and munched as silently as I could,
that I might not set him a-longing, if he overheard me. And yet, for all
this considerateness and attention to other people's feelings; I was
never much a favorite with my school-fellows; which I have often
wondered at, seeing that I never defrauded any one of them of the value
of a halfpenny, or told stories of them to their master, as some little
lying boys would do, but was ready to do any of them all the services in
my power that were consistent with my own well-doing. I think nobody can
be expected to go further than that.--But I am detaining my reader too
long in the recording of my juvenile days. It is time that I should go
forward to a season when it became natural that I should have some
thoughts of marrying, and, as they say, settling in the world.
Nevertheless, my reflections on what I may call the boyish period of my
life may have their use to some readers. It is pleasant to trace the man
in the boy, to observe shoots of generosity in those young years, and to
watch the progress of liberal sentiments, and what I may call a genteel
way of thinking, which is discernible in some children at a very early
age, and usually lays the foundation of all that is praiseworthy in the
manly character afterwards.

With the warmest inclinations towards that way of life, and a serious
conviction of its superior advantages over a single one, it has been the
strange infelicity of my lot never to have entered into the respectable
estate of matrimony. Yet I was once very near it. I courted a young
woman in my twenty-seventh year,--for so early I began to feel symptoms
of the tender passion! She was well to do in the world, as they call
it, but yet not such a fortune as, all things considered, perhaps I
might have pretended to. It was not my own choice altogether; but my
mother very strongly pressed me to it. She was always putting it to me,
that I "had comings-in sufficient,--that I need not stand upon a
portion"; though the young woman, to do her justice, had considerable
expectations, which yet did not quite come up to my mark, as I told you
before. She had this saying always in her mouth: that I "had money
enough; that it was time I enlarged my housekeeping, and to show a
spirit befitting my circumstances." In short, what with her
importunities, and my own desires _in part_ coöperating,--for, as I
said, I was not yet quite twenty-seven, a time when the youthful
feelings may be pardoned, if they show a little impetuosity,--I
resolved, I say, upon all these considerations, to set about the
business of courting in right earnest. I was a young man then, and
having a spice of romance in my character, (as the reader doubtless has
observed long ago,) such as that sex is apt to be taken with, I had
reason in no long time to think my addresses were anything but

Certainly the happiest part of a young man's life is the time when he is
going a-courting. All the generous impulses are then awake, and he feels
a double existence in participating his hopes and wishes with another
being. Return yet again for a brief moment, ye visionary views,
transient enchantments! ye moonlight rambles with Cleora in the Silent
Walk at Vauxhall,--(N.B.--About a mile from Birmingham, and resembling
the gardens of that name near London, only that the price of admission
is lower,)--when the nightingale has suspended her notes in June to
listen to our loving discourses, while the moon was overhead! (for we
generally used to take our tea at Cleora's mother's before we set out,
not so much to save expenses as to avoid the publicity of a repast in
the gardens,--coming in much about the time of half-price, as they call
it)--ye soft intercommunions of soul, when, exchanging mutual vows, we
prattled of coming felicities! The loving disputes we have had under
those trees, when this house (planning our future settlement) was
rejected, because, though cheap, it was dull, and the other house was
given up, because, though agreeably situated, it was too
high-rented,--one was too much in the heart of the town, another was too
far from business. These minutiæ will seem impertinent to the aged and
the prudent. I write them only to the young. Young lovers, and
passionate as being young, (such were Cleora and I then,) alone can
understand me. After some weeks wasted, as I may now call it, in this
sort of amorous colloquy, we at length fixed upon the house in the High
Street, No. 203, just vacated by the death of Mr. Hutton of this town,
for our future residence. I had till that time lived in lodgings (only
renting a shop for business) to be near to my mother,--near, I say: not
in the same house with her, for that would have been to introduce
confusion into our housekeeping, which it was desirable to keep
separate. Oh, the loving wrangles, the endearing differences I had with
Cleora, before we could quite make up our minds to the house that was to
receive us!--I pretending, for argument's sake, that the rent was too
high, and she insisting that the taxes were moderate in proportion, and
love at last reconciling us in the same choice. I think at that time,
moderately speaking, she might have had anything out of me for asking. I
do not, nor shall ever, regret that my character at that time was marked
with a tinge of prodigality. Age comes fast enough upon us, and, in its
good time, will prune away all that is inconvenient in these excesses.
Perhaps it is right that it should do so. Matters, as I said, were
ripening to a conclusion between us, only the house was yet not
absolutely taken. Some necessary arrangements, which the ardor of my
youthful impetuosity could hardly brook at that time (love and youth
will be precipitate)--some preliminary arrangements, I say, with the
landlord, respecting fixtures,--very necessary things to be considered
in a young man about to settle in the world, though not very accordant
with the impatient state of my then passions,--some obstacles about the
valuation of the fixtures,--had hitherto precluded (and I shall always
think providentially) my final closes with his offer, when one of those
accidents, which, unimportant in themselves, often arise to give a turn
to the most serious intentions of our life, intervened, and put an end
at once to my projects of wiving and of housekeeping.

I was never much given to theatrical entertainments,--that is, at no
time of my life was I ever what they call a regular play-goer; but on
some occasion of a benefit-night, which was expected to be very
productive, and indeed turned out so, Cleora expressing a desire to be
present, I could do no less than offer, as I did very willingly, to
squire her and her mother to the pit. At that time it was not customary
in our town for tradesfolk, except some of the very topping ones, to
sit, as they now do, in the boxes. At the time appointed I waited upon
the ladies, who had brought with them a young man, a distant relation,
whom it seems they had invited to be of the party. This a little
disconcerted me, as I had about me barely silver enough to pay for our
three selves at the door, and did not at first know that their relation
had proposed paying for himself. However, to do the young man justice,
he not only paid for himself, but for the old lady besides,--leaving me
only to pay for two, as it were. In our passage to the theatre, the
notice of Cleora was attracted to some orange-wenches that stood about
the doors vending their commodities. She was leaning on my arm; and I
could feel her every now and then giving me a nudge, as it is called,
which I afterwards discovered were hints that I should buy some oranges.
It seems, it is a custom at Birmingham, and perhaps in other places,
when a gentleman treats ladies to the play, especially when a full night
is expected, and that the house will be inconveniently warm, to provide
them with this kind of fruit, oranges being esteemed for their cooling
property. But how could I guess at that, never having treated ladies to
a play before, and being, as I said, quite a novice at these kind of
entertainments? At last she spoke plain out, and begged that I would buy
some of "those oranges," pointing to a particular barrow. But when I
came to examine the fruit, I did not think that the quality of it was
answerable to the price. In this way I handled several baskets of them;
but something in them all displeased me. Some had thin rinds, and some
were plainly over-ripe, which is as great a fault as not being ripe
enough; and I could not (what they call) make a bargain. While I stood
haggling with the women, secretly determining to put off my purchase
till I should get within the theatre, where I expected we should have
better choice, the young man, the cousin, (who, it seems, had left us
without my missing him,) came running to us with his pockets stuffed out
with oranges, inside and out, as they say. It seems, not liking the look
of the barrow-fruit any more than myself, he had slipped away to an
eminent fruiterer's, about three doors distant, which I never had the
sense to think of, and had laid out a matter of two shillings in some of
the best St. Michael's, I think, I ever tasted. What a little hinge, as
I said before, the most important affairs in life may turn upon! The
mere inadvertence to the fact that there was an eminent fruiterer's
within three doors of us, though we had just passed it without the
thought once occurring to me, which he had taken advantage of, lost me
the affections of my Cleora. From that time she visibly cooled towards
me, and her partiality was as visibly transferred to this cousin. I was
long unable to account for this change in her behavior; when one day,
accidentally discoursing of oranges to my mother, alone, she let drop a
sort of reproach to me, as if I had offended Cleora by my _nearness_, as
she called it, that evening. Even now, when Cleora has been wedded some
years to that same officious relation, as I may call him, I can hardly
be persuaded that such a trifle could have been the motive to her
inconstancy; for could she suppose that I would sacrifice my dearest
hopes in her to the paltry sum of two shillings, when I was going to
treat her to the play, and her mother too, (an expense of more than four
times that amount,) if the young man had not interfered to pay for the
latter, as I mentioned? But the caprices of the sex are past finding
out: and I begin to think my mother was in the right; for doubtless
women know women better than we can pretend to know them.

       *       *       *       *       *


                 --"Ritorna a tua scienza!
    Che vuol, quanto la cosa è più perfetta,
    Più senta il bene, e così la doglienza."--DANTE.

    Record, O Muse! and let the record stand,
    That, when Bellona ravaged half the land,
    When even these groves, from bloody fields afar,
    Oft shook and shuddered at the sounds of war,
    When the drum drowned the music of the flail,
    And midnight marches broke the peace of Yale,
    Then gathered here amid these vacant bowers
    A band of scholars, men of various powers,
    Various in motion, but with one desire,
    Through wreck and war to watch the sacred fire,
    The authentic fire that great forethoughted Mind
    Stole from the gods for good of humankind.

    Say, Terebinthia, from thy tree of pine,
    Nymph of New England! Muse beyond the Nine!
    Great Berkeley's goddess! giver oftentimes
    Of strength to him, and now and then of rhymes,--
    Whose tears were balsam to the Bishop's brain,
    To cheer, but not infuriate his vein,--
    Tell me, sad virgin, who came after terms
    In these dry fields to stir the slumbering germs?

    Their names were few,--but Agassiz was one,
    And Peirce, the lord of numbers, and alone:
    Arithmeticians many more will be,
    But when another to outrival thee?
    Then those Professors,--Philadelphian pair,
    Winlock, the wise, and watchful as a hare,
    Bright Benjamin that bears the golden name,
    (Apthorp the quick,) Augustus of the same,
    And that strict student, evermore exact,
    One of the Wymans,--both such men of fact,--
    If observation with extensive view
    More such observers can observe, they're few.

    Ye sacred shades where Silliman made gray
    Those hairs that greet him eighty-five to-day!
    Good names be these! good names to stand with his,--
    Fit to record with Yale's old histories,
    When sage Timotheus woke the Western lyre
    That Hillhouse touched, and Percival with fire!

    Declare now, Clio! 'mid this gifted band,
    Who held the reins?--what scientific hand?
    Did He preside? did Franklin's honored heir
    With wonted influence possess the chair?
    No: bowed with cares, a servant of the State,
    In loftier fields he held his watch sedate:
    Bache could not come,--for us a mighty void!
    Yet well for him,--for he was best employed
    High on his tented mountain's breezy slope,
    Might but those maidens meet him--Health and Hope!

    Yet wouldst thou know who stood superior there,
    Where all seemed equal, this I may declare:--
    Of all the wise that wandered from the East
    Or West or South to sit in solemn feast,
    Two men did mostly fascinate the Muse,
    Differing in genius, but with equal views:
    One measuring heaven, in starry lore supreme;
    The other lighting, like the morning beam,
    Old Ocean's bed, or his fresh Alpine snows,
    Reading the laws whereby the glacier grows,
    Or life, through some half-intimated plan,
    Rose from a star-fish to the race of man:
    Choose thine own monarch! either well might reign!
    I knew but one before,--and now but twain.

      Now shut the gates,--the fields have drunk enough
    The time demands a Muse of sterner stuff;
    No more one bard, exempt from vulgar throng,
    May sing through Roman towns the Ascræan song,
    Or court in Learning's elmy bowers relief
    From individual shame or general grief:
    Silence is music to a soul outworn
    With the wild clangor of the warlike horn,
    The paltry fife, the brain-benumbing drum.
    When, white Astræa! will thy kingdom come,--
    The chaster period that our boyhood saw,--
    Arts above arms, and without conquest, Law,--
    Rights well maintained without the strength of steel
    And milder manners for the gentle weal,--
    That Freedom's promise may not come to blight,
    And Wisdom fail, and Knowledge end in night?

NEW HAVEN, _August 8_.

       *       *       *       *       *


Ingham and his wife have a habit of coming in to spend the evening with
us, unless we go there, or unless we both go to Haliburton's, or unless
there is something better to do elsewhere.

We talk, or we play besique, or Mrs. Haliburton sings, or we sit on the
stoup and hear the crickets sing; but when there is a new Trollope or
Thackeray,--alas, there will never be another new Thackeray!--all else
has always been set aside till we have read that aloud.

When I began the last sentence of the last Thackeray that ever was
written, Ingham jumped out of his seat, and cried,--

"There, I said I remembered this _Duval_, and you made fun of me. Go
on,--and I will tell you all about him, when you have done."

So I read on to the sudden end:--

"We had been sent for in order to protect a fleet of merchantmen that
were bound to the Baltic, and were to sail under the convoy of our ship
and the Countess of Scarborough, commanded by Captain Piercy. And thus
it came about, that, after being twenty-five days in His Majesty's
service, I had the fortune to be present at one of the most severe and
desperate combats that have been fought in our or in any time.

"I shall not attempt to tell that story of the battle of the 23d of
September, which ended in our glorious captain striking his own colors
to our superior and irresistible enemy." (This enemy, as Mr. Thackeray
has just said, is "Monsieur John Paul Jones, afterwards Knight of His
Most Christian Majesty's Order of Merit.") "Sir Richard [Pearson, of the
English frigate Serapis] has told the story of his disaster in words
nobler than any I could supply, who, though indeed engaged in that fatal
action, in which our flag went down before a renegade Briton and his
motley crew, saw but a very small portion of the battle which ended so
fatally for us. It did not commence till nightfall. How well I remember
the sound of the enemy's gun, of which the shot crashed into our side in
reply to the challenge of our captain who hailed her! Then came a
broadside from us,--the first I had ever heard in battle."[G]

Ingham did not speak for a little while. None of us did. And when we
did, it was not to speak of Denis Duval, so much as of the friend we
lost, when we lost the monthly letter, or at least, Roundabout Paper,
from Mr. Thackeray. How much we had prized him,--how strange it was that
there was ever a day when we did not know about him,--how strange it was
that anybody should call him cynical, or think men must apologize for
him:--of such things and of a thousand more we spoke, before we came
back to Denis Duval.

But at last Fausta said,--"What do you mean, Fred, by saying you
remember Denis Duval?"

And I,--"Did you meet him at the Battle of Pavia, or in Valerius
Flaccus's Games in Numidia?" For we have a habit of calling Ingham "The
Wandering Jew."

But he would not be jeered at; he only called us to witness, that, from
the first chapter of Denis Duval, he had said the name was
familiar,--even to the point of looking it out in the Biographical
Dictionary; and now that it appeared Duval fought on board the Serapis,
he said it all came back to him. His grandfather, his mother's father,
was a "volunteer"-boy, preparing to be midshipman, on the Serapis,--and
he knew he had heard him speak of Duval!

Oh, how we all screamed! It was so like Ingham! Haliburton asked him if
his grandfather was not _best-man_ when Denis married Agnes. Fausta
asked him if he would not continue the novel in the "Cornhill." I said
it was well known that the old gentleman advised Montcalm to surrender
Quebec, interpreted between Cook and the first Kamehameha, piloted La
Pérouse between the Centurion and the Graves in Boston harbor, and
called him up with a toast at a school-dinner;--that I did not doubt,
therefore, that it was all right,--and that he and Duval had sworn
eternal friendship in their boyhood, and now formed one constellation in
the southern hemisphere. But after we had all done, Ingham offered to
bet Newport for the Six that he would substantiate what he said. This is
by far the most tremendous wager in our little company; it is never
offered, unless there be certainty to back it; it is, therefore, never
accepted; and the nearest approach we have ever made to Newport, as a
company, was one afternoon when we went to South-Boston Point in the
horse-car, and found the tide down. Silence reigned, therefore, and the
subject changed.

The next night we were at Ingham's. He unlocked a ravishing old black
mahogany secretary he has, and produced a pile of parchment-covered
books of different sizes, which were diaries of old Captain Heddart's.
They were often called log-books,--but, though in later years kept on
paper ruled for log-books, and often following to a certain extent the
indications of the columns, they were almost wholly personal, and
sometimes ran a hundred pages without alluding at all to the ship on
which he wrote. Well! the earliest of these was by far the most elegant
in appearance. My eyes watered a little, as Ingham showed me on the
first page, in the stiff Italian hand which our grandmothers wrote in,
when they aspired to elegance, the dedication,--

    _who will write something here every day, because he loves his_

That old English gentleman, whom I just remember, when Ingham first went
to sea, as the model of mild, kind old men, at Ingham's mother's
house,--then he went to sea once himself for the first time,--and he had
a mother himself,--and as he went off, she gave him the best album-book
that Thetford Regis could make,--and wrote this inscription in ink that
was not rusty then!

Well, again! in this book, Ingham, who had been reading it all day, had
put five or six newspaper-marks.

The first was at this entry,--

    "A new boy came into the mess. They said he was a French boy, but
    the first luff says he is the Capptain's own nef-few."

Two pages on,--

    "The French boy fought Wimple and beat him. They fought seeventeen

Farther yet,--

    "Toney is offe on leave. So the French boy was in oure watch. He
    is not a French boy. His name is Doovarl."

In the midst of a great deal about the mess, and the fellows, and the
boys, and the others, and an inexplicable fuss there is about a
speculation the mess entered into with some illicit dealer for an
additional supply, not of liquor, but of sugar,--which I believe was
detected, and which covers pages of badly written and worse spelled
manuscript, not another distinct allusion to the French boy,--not near
so much as to Toney or Wimple or Scroop, or big Wallis or little Wallis.
Ingham had painfully toiled through it all, and I did after him. But in
another volume, written years after, at a time when the young officer
wrote a much more rapid, though scarcely more legible hand, he found a
long account of an examination appointed to pass midshipmen, and, to our
great delight, as it began, this exclamation:--

"When the Amphion's boat came up, who should step up but old Den, whom I
had not seen since we were in the Rainbow. We were together all
day,--and it was very good to see him."

And afterwards, in the detail of the examination, he is spoken of as
"Duval." The passage is a little significant.

Young Heddart details all the questions put to him, as thus:--

"'Old Saumarez asked me which was the narrowest part of the Channel, and
I told him. Then he asked how Silly [_sic_] bore, if I had 75 fathom,
red sand and gravel. I said, 'About N.W.,' and the old man said, 'Well,
yes,--rather West of N.W., is not it so, Sir Richard?' And Sir Richard
did not know what they were talking about, and they pulled out
Mackenzie's Survey," etc., etc., etc.,--more than any man would delve
through at this day, unless he were searching for Paul Jones or Denis
Duval, or some other hero. "What is the mark for going into Spithead?"
"What is the mark for clearing Royal Sovereign Shoals?"--let us hope
they were all well answered. Evidently, in Mr. Heddart's mind, they were
more important than any other detail of that day, but fortunately for
posterity then comes this passage:--

"After me they called up Brooke, and Calthorp, and Clements,--and then
old Wingate, Tom Wingate's father, who had examined them, seemed to get
tired, and turned to Pierson, and said, 'Sir Richard, you ought to take
your turn." And so Sir Richard began, and, as if by accident, called up

"'Mr. Duval,' said he, 'how do you find the variation of the compass by
the amplitudes or azimuths?'

"Of course any fool knew that. And of course he could not ask all such
questions. So, when he came on _practice_, he said,--

"'Mr. Duval, what is the mark for Stephenson's Shoal?'

"Oh, dear! what fun it was to hear Den answer,--Lyd Church and the ruins
of Lynn Monastery must come in one. The Shoal was about three miles from
Dungeness, and bore S.W. or somewhere from it. The Soundings were red
sand--or white sand or something,--very glib. Then--

"'How would you anchor under Dungeness, Mr. Duval?'

"And Duval was not too glib, but very certain. He would bring it to bear
S.W. by W., or, perhaps, W.S.W.; he would keep the Hope open of Dover,
and he would try to have twelve fathoms water.

"'Well, Mr. Duval, how does Dungeness bear from Beachy Head?'--and so
on, and so on.

"And Den was very good and modest, but quite correct all the same, and
as true to the point as Cocker and Gunter together. Oh, dear! I hope the
post-captains did not know that Sir Richard was Den's uncle, and that
Den had sailed in and out of Winchelsea harbour, in sight of Beachy Head
and Dungeness, ever since the day after he was born!

"But he made no secret of it when we passed-mids dined at the Anchor.

"A jolley time we had! I slept there."

With these words, Denis Duval vanishes from the Diary.

Of course, as soon as we had begged Ingham's pardon, we turned back to
find the battle with the Bon Homme Richard. Little enough was there. The
entry reads thus,--this time rather more in log-book shape.

On the left-hand page, in columns elaborately ruled,--

Week-days. |Sept. 1779.|Wind.|Courses.    |Dist.|Lat.  |Long.  | Bearings.
           |           |     |Waiting for |     |      |       | Flamboro.
Wednesday,\|  22.23.   | S.E.|Convoy till |None.|54° 9'|0°5' E.| H.
Thursday. /|           |     |11 of       |     |      |       | N. by W.
           |           |     |Thursday.   |     |      |       |

The rest of that page is blank. The right page, headed, "_Remarks, &c.,
on board H.M.S. Serapis_," in the boy's best copy-hand, goes on with
longer entries than any before.

"42 vessels reported for the convoy. Mr. Mycock says we shall not wait
for the rest."

"10 o'clock, A.M. Thursday. Two men came on board with news of the
pirate Jones. Signal for a coast-pilot,--weighed and sailed as soon as
he came. As we pass Flamboro' Head, two sails in sight S.S.W., which the
men say are he and his consort."

Then, for the next twenty-four hours,--

Week-days.|Sept. 1779.|Wind. |Courses.|Dist.   |Lat.  |Long.   | Bearings.
          |           |      |        |        |      |        |Flamb. H.
Thursday,\|  23.24.   |S.S.W.| E.S.E. |Nothing.|52.13.|0.11. E.|W. aftern.
Friday.  /|           |      | W.S.W. |        |      |        |W. by N.

"Foggy at first,--clear afterwards.

"At 1 P.M. beat to quarters. All my men at quarters but West, who was on
shore when we sailed, the men say on leave,--and Collins in the sick
bay. (MEM. _shirked_.) The others in good spirits. Mr. Wallis made us a
speech, and the men cheered well. Engaged the enemy at about 7.20 P.M.
Mr. Wallis had bade me open my larboard ports, and I did so; but I did
not loosen the stern-guns, which are fought by my crew, when necessary.
The captain hailed the stranger twice, and then the order came to fire.
Our gun No. 2 (after-gun but one) was my first piece. No. 1 flashed, and
the gunner had to put on new priming. Fired twice with those guns, but
before we had loaded the second time, for the third fire, the enemy ran
into us. One of my men (Craik) was badly jammed in the shock,--squeezed
between the gun and the deck. But he did not leave the gun. Tried to
fire into the enemy, but just as we got the gun to bear, and got a new
light, he fell off. It was very bad working in the dark. The lanthorns
are as bad as they can be. Loaded both guns, got new portfires, and we
ran into the enemy. We were wearing, and I believe our jib-boom got into
his mizzen rigging. The ships were made fast by the men on the upper
deck. At first I could not bring a gun to bear, the enemy was so far
ahead of me. But as soon as we anchored, our ship forged ahead a
little,--and by bringing the hind axle-trucks well aft, I made both my
starboard guns bear on his bows. Fired right into his forward ports. I
do not think there was a man or a gun there. In the second battery,
forward of me, they had to blow our own ports open, because the enemy
lay so close. Stopped firing three times for my guns to cool. No. 2
cools quicker than No. 1, or I think so. Forward we could hear
musket-shot, and grenadoes,--but none of these things fell where we were
at work. A man came into port No. 5, where little Wallis was, and said
that the enemy was sinking, and had released him and the other
prisoners. But we had no orders to stop firing. Afterwards there was a
great explosion. It began at the main hatch, but came back to me and
scalded some of my No. 2 men horribly. Afterwards Mr. Wallis came and
took some of No. 2's men to board. I tried to bring both guns to bear
with No. 1's crew. No. 2's crew did not come back. At half-past ten all
firing stopped on the upper deck. Mr. Wallis went up to see if the enemy
had struck. He did not come down,--but the master came down and said we
had struck, and the orders were to cease firing.

"We had struck to the Richard, 44, Commodore Jones, and the Alliance,
40, which was the vessel they saw from the quarter-deck. Our consort,
the Countess Scarborough, had struck to the enemy's ship Pallas. The
officers and crew of the Richard are on board our ship. The mids talk
English well, and are good fellows. They are very sorry for Mr. Mayrant,
who was stabbed with a pike in boarding us, and Mr. Potter, another
midshipman, who was hurt.

Week-days.|Sept., 1779.|Wind. |Courses.|Dist.|Lat.   |Long.  |Bearings.
Friday,  \|24th, 25th. |S.S.W.|        |None.|As     |As     |As above.
Saturday./|            |      |        |     |above. |above. |

"The enemy's sick and wounded and prisoners were brought on board. At
ten on the 25th, his ship, the Richard, sank. Played chess with Mr.
Merry, one of the enemy's midshipmen. Beat him twice out of three.

"There is a little French fellow named Travaillier among their
volunteers. When I first saw him he was naked to his waist. He had used
his coat for a wad, and his shirt wet to put out fire. Plenty of our men
had their coats burnt off, but they did not live to tell it."

Then the diary relapses into the dreariness of most ship-diaries, till
they come into the Texel, when it is to a certain extent relieved by
discussions about exchanges.

       *       *       *       *       *

Such a peep at the most remarkable frigate-action in history, as that
action was seen by a boy in the dark, through such key-hole as the
after-ports of one of the vessels would give him, stimulated us all to
"ask for more," and then to abuse Master Robert Heddart, "volunteer," a
little, that he had not gone into more detail. Ingham defended his
grandfather by saying that it was the way diaries always served you,
which is true enough, and that the boy had literally told what he saw,
which was also true enough, only he seemed to have seen "mighty little,"
which, I suppose, should be spelled "mity little." When we said this,
Ingham said it was all in the dark, and Haliburton added, that "the
battle-lanterns were as bad as they could be," Ingham said, however,
that he thought there was more somewhere,--he had often heard the old
gentleman tell the story in vastly more detail.

Accordingly, a few days after, he sent me a yellow old letter on long
foolscap sheets, in which the old gentleman had written out his
recollections for Ingham's own benefit, after some talk of old times on
Thanksgiving evening. It is all he has ever found in his grandfather's
rather tedious papers about the battle, and one passing allusion in it
drops the curtain on Denis Duval.

Here it is.

    "JAMAICA PLAIN, NOV. 29, 1824.

    "MY DEAR BOY,--I am very glad to comply with your request
    about an account of the great battle between the Serapis and the
    Bon Homme Richard and her consort. I had rather you should write
    out what I told you all on Thanksgiving evening at your mother's,
    for you hold a better pen than I do. But I know my memory of the
    event is strong, for it was the first fight I ever saw; and
    although it does not compare with Rodney's great fight with De
    Grasse, which I saw also, yet there are circumstances connected
    with it which will always make it a remarkable fight in history.

    "You said, at your mother's, that you had never understood why the
    men on each side kept inquiring if the others had struck. The
    truth is, we had it all our own way below. And, as it proved, when
    our captain, Pearson, struck, most of his men were below. I know,
    that, in all the confusion and darkness and noise, I had no idea,
    aft on the main deck, that we were like to come off second best.
    On the other hand, at that time, the Richard probably had not a
    man left between-decks, unless some whom they were trying to keep
    at her pumps. But on her upper deck and quarter-deck and in her
    tops she had it all her own way. Jones himself was there; by that
    time Dale was there; and they had wholly cleared our upper deck,
    as we had cleared their main deck and gun-room. This was the
    strangeness of that battle. We were pounding through and through
    her, while she did not fight a gun of her main battery. But Jones
    was working his quarter-deck guns so as almost to rake our deck
    from stem to stern. You know, the ships were foul and lashed
    together. Jones says in his own account he aimed at our main-mast
    and kept firing at it. You can see that no crew could have lived
    under such a fire as that. There you have the last two hours of
    the battle: Jones's men all above, our men all below; we pounding
    at his main deck, he pelting at our upper deck. If there had not
    been some such division, of course the thing could not have lasted
    so long, even with the horrid havoc there was. I never saw
    anything like it, and I hope, dear boy, you may never have to."

    [_Mem._ by Ingham. I had just made my first cruise as a midshipman
    in the U.S. navy on board the Intrepid, when the old gentleman
    wrote this to me. He made his first cruise in the British navy in
    the Serapis. After he was exchanged, he remained in that service
    till 1789, when he married in Canso, N.S., resigned his
    commission, and settled there.]

The letter continues:--

    "I have been looking back on my own boyish journal of that time.
    My mother made me keep a log, as I hope yours does. But it is
    strange to see how little of the action it tells. The truth is, I
    was nothing but a butterfly of a youngster. To save my conceit,
    the first lieutenant, Wallis, told me I was assigned to keep an
    eye on the after-battery, where were two fine old fellows as ever
    took the King's pay really commanding the crews and managing the
    guns. Much did I know about sighting or firing them! However, I
    knew enough to keep my place. I remember tying up a man's arm with
    my own shirt-sleeves, by way of showing I was not frightened, as
    in truth I was. And I remember going down to the cockpit with a
    poor wretch who was awfully burned with powder,--and the sight
    there was so much worse than it was at my gun that I was glad to
    get back again. Well, you may judge, that, from two
    after-portholes below, first larboard, then starboard, I _saw_
    little enough of the battle. But I have talked about it since,
    with Dale, who was Jones's first lieutenant, and whom I met at
    Charlestown when he commanded the yard there. I have talked of it
    with Wallis many times. I talked of it with Sir Richard Pearson,
    who was afterwards Lt.-Gov. of Greenwich, and whom I saw there.
    Paul Jones I have touched my hat to, but never spoke to, except
    when we all took wine with him one day at dinner. But I have met
    his niece, Miss Janet Taylor, who lives in London now, and
    calculates nautical tables. I hope you will see her some day. Then
    there is a gentleman named Napier in Edinburgh, who has the
    Richard's log-book. Go and see it, if you are ever there,--Mr.
    George Napier. And I have read every word I could find about the
    battle. It was a remarkable fight indeed. 'All of which I was,
    though so little I saw.'"

    [_Mem._ by F.C. And dear Ingham's nice old grandfather is a little
    slow in getting into action, _me judice_. It was a way they had in
    the navy before steam.]

The letter continues:--

    "I do not know that Captain Pearson was a remarkable man; but I do
    know he was a brave man. He was made Sir Richard Pearson by the
    King for his bravery in this fight. When Paul Jones heard of that,
    he said Pearson deserved the knighthood, and that he would make
    him an earl the next time he met him. Of course, I only knew the
    captain as a midshipman (we were 'volunteers' then) knows a
    post-captain, and that for a few months only. We joined in summer
    (the Serapis was just commissioned for the first time). We were
    taken prisoners in September, but it was mid-winter before we were
    exchanged. He was very cross all the time we were in Holland. I do
    not suppose he wrote as good a letter as Jones did. I have heard
    that he could not spell well. But what I know is that he was a
    brave man.

    "Paul Jones is one of the curiosities of history. He certainly was
    of immense value to your struggling cause. He kept England in
    terror; he showed the first qualities as a naval commander; he
    achieved great successes with very little force. Yet he has a
    damaged reputation. I do not think he deserves this reputation;
    but I know he has it. Now I can see but one difference between him
    and any of your land-heroes or your water-heroes whom all the
    world respects. This is, that he was born on our side, and they
    were born on the American side. This ought not to make any
    difference. But in actual fact I think it did. Jones was born in
    the British Islands. The popular feeling of England made a
    distinction between the allegiance which he owed to King George
    and that of born Americans. It ought not to have done so, because
    he had in good faith emigrated to America before the Rebellion,
    and took part in it with just the same motives which led any other
    American officer.[H]

    "He had a fondness for books and for society, and thought himself
    gifted in writing. I should think he wrote too much. I have seen
    verses of his which were very poor."

    [_Mem_. by F.C. I should think Ingham's grandfather wrote too
    much. I have seen letters of his which were very long, before they
    came to their subject.]

The letter continues:--

    "To return. The Serapis, as I have said, was but just built. She
    had been launched that spring. She was one of the first 44-gun
    frigates that were ever built in the world. We (the English) were
    the first naval power to build frigates, as now understood, at
    all. I believe the name is Italian, but in the Mediterranean it
    means a very different thing. We had little ships-of-the-line,
    which were called fourth-rates, and which fought sixty, and even
    as low as fifty guns; they had two decks, and a quarter-deck
    above. But just as I came into the service, the old Phoenix and
    Rainbow and Roebuck were the only 44s we had: they were successful
    ships, and they set the Admiralty on building 44-gun frigates,
    which, even when they carried 50 guns, as we did, were quite
    different from the old fourth-rates. Very useful vessels they
    proved. I remember the Romulus, the Ulysses, the Actæon, and the
    Endymion: the Endymion fought the President forty years after. As
    I say, the Serapis was one of a batch of these vessels launched in
    the spring of 1779.

    "We had been up the Cattegat that summer, waiting for what was
    known as the Baltic fleet.[I] If there were room and time, I could
    tell you good stories of the fun we had at Copenhagen. At last we
    got the convoy together, and got to sea,--no little job in that
    land-locked sailing. We got well across the North Sea, and, for
    some reason, made Sunderland first, and afterwards Scarborough.

    "We were lying close in with Scarborough, when news came off that
    Paul Jones, with a fleet, was on the coast. Captain Pearson at
    once tried to signal the convoy back,--for they were working down
    the coast towards the Humber,--but the signals did no good till
    they saw the enemy themselves, and then they scud fast enough,
    passing us, and running into Scarborough harbor. We had not a
    great deal of wind, and the other armed vessel we had, the
    Countess of Scarborough, was slow, so that I remember we lay to
    for her. Jones was as anxious as we were to fight. We neared each
    other steadily till seven in the evening or later. The sun was
    down, but it was full moon,--and as we came near enough to speak,
    we could see everything on his ship. At that time the Poor Richard
    was the only ship we had to do with. His other ships were after
    our consort. The Richard was a queer old French Indiaman, you
    know. She was the first French ship-of-war I had ever seen. She
    had six guns on her lower deck, and six ports on each side
    there,--meaning to fight all these guns on the same side. On her
    proper gun-deck, above these, she had fourteen guns on each
    side,--twelves and nines. Then she had a high quarter, and a high
    forecastle, with eight more guns on these,--having, you know, one
    of those queer old poops you see in old pictures. She was,
    therefore, a good deal higher than we; for our quarter-deck had
    followed the fashion and come down. We fought twenty guns on our
    lower deck, twenty on our upper deck, and on the forecastle and
    quarter-deck we had ten little things,--fifty guns,--not unusual,
    you know, in a vessel rated as a forty-four. We had twenty-two in
    broadside. I remember I supposed for some time that all French
    ships were black, because the Richard was.

    "As I said, I was on the main deck, aft. We were all lying
    stretched out in the larboard ports to see and hear what we could,
    when Captain Pearson himself hailed, "What ship is that?" I could
    not hear their answer, and he hailed again, and then said, if they
    did not answer, he would fire. We all took this as good as an
    order, and, hearing nothing, tumbled in and blazed away. The Poor
    Richard fired at the same time. It was at that first broadside of
    hers, as you remember, that two of Jones's heavy guns, below his
    main deck, burst. We could see that as we sighted for our next
    broadside, because we could see how they hove up the gun-deck
    above them. As for our shot, I suppose they all told. We had ten
    eighteen-pounders in that larboard battery below. I do not see why
    any shot should have failed.

    "However, he had no thought of being pounded to pieces by his own
    firing and ours, and so he bore right down on us. He struck our
    quarter, just forward of my forward gun,--struck us hard, too. We
    had just fired our second shot, and then he closed, so I could not
    bring our two guns to bear. This was when he first tried to fasten
    the ships together. But they would not stay fastened. He could not
    bring a gun to bear,--having no forward ports that served
    him,--till we fell off again, and it was then that Captain Pearson
    asked, in that strange stillness, if he had struck. Jones
    answered, 'I have not begun to fight.' And so it proved. Our sails
    were filled, he backed his top-sails, and we wore short round. As
    he laid us athwart-hawse, or as we swung by him, our jib-boom ran
    into his mizzen-rigging. They say Jones himself then fastened our
    boom to his mainmast. Somebody did, but it did not hold, but one
    of our anchors hooked his quarter, and so we fought, fastened
    together, to the end,--both now fighting our starboard batteries,
    and being fixed stern to stem.

    "On board the Serapis our ports were not open on the starboard
    side, because we had been firing on the other. And as we ran
    across and loosened those guns, the men amidships actually found
    they could not open their ports, the Richard was so close. They
    therefore fired their first shots right through our own port-lids,
    and blew them off. I was so far aft that my port-lids swung free.

    "What I said, in beginning this letter, will explain to you the
    long continuance of the action after this moment, when, you would
    say, it must be ended by boarding, or in some other way, very
    soon. As soon as we on our main deck got any idea of the Richard's
    main deck, we saw that almost nobody replied to us there. In
    truth, two of the six guns which made her lower starboard battery
    had burst, and Jones's men would not fight what were left, nor do
    I blame them. Above, their gun-deck had been hoisted up, and, as
    it proved the next day, we were cutting them right through. We
    pounded away at what we could see,--and much more at what we could
    not see,--for it was now night, and there was a little smoke, as
    you may fancy. But above, the Richard's upper deck was a good deal
    higher than ours, and there Jones had dragged across upon his
    quarter a piece from the larboard battery, so that he had three
    nine-pounders, with which he was doing his best, almost raking us,
    as you may imagine. No one ever said so to me, that I know, but I
    doubt whether we could get elevation enough from any of our light
    guns on our upper deck (nines) to damage his battery much, he was
    so much higher than we. As for musketry, there is not much
    sharp-shooting when you are firing at night in the smoke, with the
    decks swaying under you.

    "Many a man has asked me why neither side boarded,--and, in fact,
    there is a popular impression that Jones took our ship by
    boarding, as he did not. As to that, such questions are easier
    asked than answered. This is to be said, however: about ten
    o'clock, an English officer, who had commanded the Union
    letter-of-marque, which Jones had taken a few days before, came
    scrambling through one of our ports from the Richard. He went up
    aft to Captain Pearson at once, and told him that the Richard was
    sinking, that they had had to release all her prisoners (and she
    had hundreds) from the hold and spar-deck, himself among them,
    because the water came in so fast, and that, if we would hold on a
    few minutes more, the ship was ours. Every word of this was true,
    except the last. Hearing this, Captain Pearson--who, if you
    understand, was over my head, for he kept the quarter-deck almost
    throughout--hailed to ask if they had struck. He got no answer,
    Jones in fact being at the other end of his ship, on his quarter,
    pounding away at our main-mast. Pearson then called for boarders;
    they were formed hastily, and dashed on board to take the prize.
    But the Richard had not struck, though I know some of her men had
    called for quarters. Her men were ready for us,--under cover,
    Captain Pearson says in his despatch,--Jones himself seized a pike
    and headed his crew, and our men fell back again. One of the
    accounts says we tried to board earlier, as soon as the vessels
    were made fast to each other. But of this I knew nothing.

    "Meanwhile Jones's people could not stay on his lower deck,--and
    could not do anything, if they had stayed there. They worked their
    way above. His main deck (of twelves) was fought more
    successfully, but his great strength was on his upper deck and in
    his tops. To read his own account, you would almost think he
    fought the battle himself with his three quarter-deck cannon, and
    I suppose it would be hard to overstate what he did do. Both he
    and Captain Pearson ascribe the final capture of the Serapis to
    this strange incident.

    "The men in the Richard's tops were throwing hand-grenades upon
    our decks, and at last one fellow worked himself out to the end of
    the main-yard with a bucket filled with these missiles, lighted
    them one by one, and threw them fairly down our main hatchway.
    Here, as our ill luck ordered, was a row of our eighteen-gun
    cartridges, which the powder-boys had left there as they went for
    more,--our fire, I suppose, having slackened there:--cartridges
    were then just coming into use in the navy. One of these grenades
    lighted the row, and the flash passed--bang--bang--bang--back to
    me. Oh, it was awful! Some twenty of our men were fairly blown to
    pieces. There were other men who were stripped naked, with nothing
    on but the collars of their shirts and their wristbands. Farther
    aft there was not so much powder, perhaps, and the men were
    scorched or burned more than they were wounded. I do not know how
    I escaped, but I do know that there was hardly a man forward of my
    guns who did escape,--some hurt,--and the groaning and shrieking
    were terrible. I will not ask you to imagine all this,--in the
    utter darkness of smoke and night below-decks, almost every
    lantern blown out or smashed. But I assure you I can remember it.
    There were agonies there which I have never trusted my tongue to
    tell. Yet I see, in my journal, in a boy's mock-man way, this is
    passed by, as almost nothing. I did not think so or feel so, I can
    tell you.

    "It was after this that the effort was made to board. I know I had
    filled some buckets of water from our lee ports, and had got some
    of the worst hurt of my men below, and was trying to understand
    what Brooks, who was jammed, but not burned, thought we could do,
    to see if we could not at least clear things enough to fight one
    gun, when boarders were called, and he left me. Cornish, who had
    really been captain of the other gun, was badly hurt, and had gone
    below. Then came the effort to board, which, as I say, failed; and
    that was really our last effort. About half-past ten, Captain
    Pearson struck. He was not able to bring a gun to bear on the
    Alliance, had she closed with us; his ship had been on fire a
    dozen times, and the explosion had wholly disabled our main
    battery, which had been, until this came, our chief strength. But
    so uncertain and confused was it all, that I know, when I heard
    the cry, 'They've struck,' I took it for granted it was the
    Richard. In fact, Captain Pearson had struck our flag with his own
    hands. The men would not expose themselves to the fire from the
    Richard's tops. Mr. Mayrant, a fine young fellow, one of Jones's
    midshipmen, was wounded in boarding us after we struck, because
    some of our people did not know we had struck. I know, when
    Wallis, our first lieutenant, heard the cry, he ran
    up-stairs,--supposing that Jones had struck to us, and not we to

    "It was Lieutenant Dale who boarded us. He is still living, a fine
    old man, at Philadelphia. He found Captain Pearson on the lee of
    our quarter-deck again, and said,--

    "'Sir, I have orders to send you on board the ship along-side.'

    "Up the companion comes Wallis, and says to Captain Pearson,--

    "'Have they struck?'

    "'No, Sir,' said Dale,--'the contrary: he has struck to us.'

    "Wallis would not take it, and said to Pearson,--

    "'Have you struck, Sir?'

    "And he had to say he had. Wallis said, 'I have nothing more to
    say,' and turned to come down to us, but Dale would not let him.
    Wallis said he would silence the lower-deck guns, but Dale sent
    some one else, and took them both aboard the Richard. Little
    Duval--a volunteer on board, not yet rated as midshipman--went
    with them. Jones gave back our captain's sword, with the usual
    speech about bravery,--but they quarrelled awfully afterwards.

    "I suppose Paul Jones was himself astonished when daylight showed
    the condition of his ship. I am sure we were. His ship was still
    on fire: ours had been a dozen times, but was out. Wherever our
    main battery could hit him, we had torn his ship to
    pieces,--knocked in and knocked out the sides. There was a
    complete breach from the main-mast to the stern. You could see the
    sky and sea through the old hulk anywhere. Indeed, the wonder was
    that the quarter-deck did not fall in. The ship was sinking fast,
    and the pumps would not free her. For us, our jib-boom had been
    wrenched off at the beginning; our main-mast and mizzentop fell as
    we struck, and at day-break the wreck was not cleared away. Jones
    put Lieutenant Lunt on our vessel that night, but the next day he
    removed all his wounded, and finally all his people, to the
    Serapis, and at ten the Poor Richard went to the bottom. I have
    always wondered that your Naval Commissioners never named another
    frigate for her.

    "And so, my dear boy, I will stop. I hope in God, it will never be
    your fate to see such a fight, or any fight, between an English
    and an American frigate.

    "We drifted into Holland. Our wounded men were sent into hospital
    in the fort of the Texel. At last we were all transferred to the
    French Government as prisoners, and that winter we were exchanged.
    The Serapis went into the French navy, and the only important
    result of the affair in history was that King George had to make
    war with Holland. For, as soon as we were taken into the Texel,
    the English minister claimed us of the Dutch. But the Dutch
    gentlemen said they were neutrals, and could not interfere in the
    Rebel quarrel. "Interfere or fight," said England,--and the first
    clause of the manifesto which makes war with Holland states this
    grievance, that the Dutch would not surrender us when asked for.
    That is the way England treats neutrals who offer hospitality to

So ends the letter. I suppose the old gentleman got tired of writing. I
have observed that the end of all letters is more condensed than the
beginning. Mr. Weller, indeed, pronounces the "sudden pull-up" to be the
especial charm of letter-writing. I had a mind to tell what the old
gentleman saw of Kempenfelt and the Royal George, but this is enough. As
Denis Duval scrambles across to Paul Jones's quarter-deck, at eleven
o'clock of that strange moonlight night, he vanishes from history.

       *       *       *       *       *


    Summer in all! deep summer in the pines,
    And summer in the music on the sands,
    And summer where the sea-flowers rise and fall
    About the gloomy foreheads of stern rocks
    And the green wonders of our circling sphere.

    Can mockery be hidden in such guise,
    To peep, like sunlight, behind shifting leaves,
    And dye the purple berries of the field,
    Or gleam like moonlight upon juniper,
    Or wear the gems outshining jewelled pride?
    Can mockery do this, and we endure
    In Nature's rounded palace of the world?

    Where, then, has fled the summer's wonted peace?
    Sweeter than breath borne on the scented seas,
    Over fresh fields, and brought to weary shores,
    It should await the season's worshipper;
    But as a star shines on the daisy's eye,
    So shines great Conscience on the face of Peace,
    And lends it calmer lustre with the dew:
    When that star dims, the paling floweret fades!

    Yet there be those who watch a serpent crawl
    And, blackening, sleep within a blossom's heart,
    Who will not slay, but call their gazing "Peace."
    Even thus within the bosom of our land
    Creeps, serpent-like, Sedition, and hath gnawed
    In silence, while a timid crowd stood still.

    O suffering land! O dear long-suffering land,
    Slay thou the serpent ere he slime the core!
    Take thou our houses and amenities,
    Take thou the hand that parting clings to ours,
    And going bears our heart into the fight;
    Take thou, but slay the serpent ere he kill!

    Now, as a lonely watcher on the strand,
    Hemmed by the mist and the quick coming waves,
    Hears but one voice, the voice of warning bell,
    That solemn speaks, "Beware the jaws of death!"
    Death on the sea, and warning on the strand!
    Such is our life, while Summer, mocking, broods.

    O mighty heart! O brave, heroic soul!
    Hid in the dim mist of the things that be,
    We call thee up to fill the highest place!
    Whether to till thy corn and give the tithe,
    Whether to grope a picket in the dark,
    Or, having nobly served, to be cast down,
    And, unregarded, passed by meaner feet,
    Or, happier thou, to snatch the fadeless crown,
    And walk in youth and beauty to God's rest,--
    The purpose makes the hero, meet thy doom!

    We call to thee, where'er thy pillowed head
    Rests lonely for the brother who has gone,
    To fix thy gaze on Freedom's chrysolite,
    Which rueful fate can neither crack nor mar,
    And, hand in hand indissolubly bound
    To thy next fellow, hand and purpose one,
    Stretch thus, a living wall, from the rock coast
    Home to our ripe and yellow heart of the West,
    Impenetrable union triumphing.

    The solemn Autumn comes, the gathering-time!
    Stand we now ripe, a harvest for the Right!
    That, when fair Summer shall return to earth,
    Peace may inhabit all her sacred ways,
    Lap in the waves upon melodious sands,
    And linger in the swaying of the corn,
    Or sit with clouds upon the ambient skies,--
    Summer and Peace brood on the grassy knolls
    Where twilight glimmers over the calm dead,
    While clustered children chant heroic tales.

       *       *       *       *       *


The interest which foreign peoples take in our civil war proceeds from
two causes chiefly, though there are minor causes that help swell the
force of the current of feeling. The first of these causes is the
contemplation of the check which has been given by the war's occurrence
to our march to universal American dominion. For about seventy-two years
our "progress," as it was called, was more marvellous than the dreams of
other nations. In spite of Indian wars, of wars with France and England
and Mexico, of depredations on our commerce by France and England and
Barbary, of a currency that seemed to have been created for the
promotion of bankruptcy and the organization of instability, of biennial
changes in our tariffs and systems of revenue, of competition that ought
to have been the death of trade,--in spite of these and other evils,
this country, in the brief term of one not over-long human life,
increased in all respects at a rate to excite the gravest fears in the
minds of men who had been nursed on the balance-of-power theory. A new
power had intruded itself into the old system, and its disturbing force
was beyond all calculation. Between the day on which George Washington
took the Presidential oath and the day when South Carolina broke her
oath, our population had increased from something like three millions to
more than thirty-one millions; and in all the elements of material
strength our increase had far exceeded our growth in numbers. When the
first Congress of the old Union met, our territory was confined to a
strip of land on the western shore of the Atlantic,--and that territory
was but sparsely settled. When the thirty-sixth Congress broke up, our
territory had extended to the Pacific, on which we had two States, while
other communities there were preparing to become States. It did seem as
if Coleridge's "august conception" was about to become a great fact.
"The possible destiny of the United States of America," said that mighty
genius, "as a nation of a hundred millions of freemen, stretching from
the Atlantic to the Pacific, living under the laws of Alfred, and
speaking the language of Shakspeare and Milton, is an august
conception." To all appearance in 1860, there would be a hundred
millions of freemen here, and not far from twenty millions of slaves, at
the close of the nineteenth century; and middle-aged men were not
unreasonable in their expectation of seeing the splendid spectacle. The
rate of increase in population that we had known warranted their most
sanguine hopes. Such a nation,--a nation that should grow its own food,
make its own cloths, dig or pick up its own gold and silver and
quicksilver, mine its own coal and iron, supply itself, and the rest of
the world too, with cotton and tobacco and rice and sugar, and that
should have a mercantile tonnage of not less than fifteen millions, and
perhaps very much more,--such a nation, we say, it was reasonable to
expect the United States would become by the year 1900. But because the
thought of it was pleasing to us, we are not to conclude that it would
be so to European sovereigns and statesmen. On the contrary, they had
abundant reason to dread the accumulation of so much strength in one
empire. Even in 1860 we had passed the point at which it was possible
for us to have any fear of European nations, or of a European alliance.
We had but to will it, and British America, and what there was left of
Spanish America and Mexico, would all have been gathered in, reaped by
that mowing-machine, the American sword. Had our rulers of that year
sought to stave off civil war by plunging us into a foreign war, we
could have made ourselves masters of all North America, despite the
opposition of all Europe, had all Europe been ready to try the question
with us, whether the Monroe doctrine were a living thing or a dirty
skeleton from the past. But all Europe would not have opposed us, seeing
that England would have been the principal sufferer from our success;
and England is unpopular throughout Continental Europe,--in France, in
Germany, and in Russia. Probably the French Emperor would have preferred
a true cordial understanding with us to a nominal one with England, and,
confining his labors to Europe and the East, would have obtained her
"natural boundaries" for France, and supremacy over Egypt. The war might
have left but three great powers in the world, namely, France, Russia,
and America, or the United States, the latter to include Canada and
Mexico, with the Slave-Power's ascendency everywhere established in
North America. It was on the cards that we might avoid dissension and
civil strife by extending the Union, and by invading and conquering the
territories of our neighbors. Why this course was not adopted it is not
our purpose now to discuss; but that it would have been adopted, if the
Secession movement had been directed from the North against the rule of
the Democratic party, we are as firmly convinced as we are of the
existence of the tax-gatherer,--and no man in this country can now
entertain any doubt of his existence, or of his industry and exactions.

When, therefore, our Union was severed in twain by the action of the
Southern Secessionists, and the Confederacy was established, it was the
most natural thing in the world that most European governments, and by
far the larger part of the governing classes in most European nations,
should sympathize with the Rebels: not because they altogether approved
of what the Rebels avowed to be their principles, or of their scandalous
actions in the cause of lawlessness; but because their success would
break down a nation that was becoming too strong to have any regard for
European opinion, and the continuance and growth of which were believed
to be incompatible with the safety of Europe, and the retention of its
controlling position in the world. England was relieved of her fears
with regard to her North-American possessions; and Spain saw an end put
to those insulting demands that she should sell Cuba, which for years
had proceeded from Democratic administrations,--President Buchanan, in
the very last days of his term, and while the Union was falling to
pieces around him, persisting in a demand which then had become as
ridiculous as it had ever been wicked. Austria and Prussia could have no
objection to the breaking-up of a nation which had sympathized with
Poland, Hungary, and Italy, and which, so far as it acted at all, had
acted in behalf of European Liberalism. France, which would have been
willing to act with us, had we remained in condition to render our
action valuable, had no idea of risking anything in our behalf, and
turned her attention to Mexico, as a field well worthy of her
cultivation, and which our troubles had laid open to her enterprise and
ambition. The kingdom of Italy was of too recent birth to have much
influence; and, though its sympathies were with us, it was forced by
circumstances to conform to the example of France and England. Even
Russia, though unquestionably our friend, and sincerely anxious for our
success, probably did not much regret that something had here occurred
which might teach us to become less ready to prompt Poles to rebel, and
not so eager to help them when in rebellion. Most of the lesser
governments of Europe saw our difficulties with satisfaction, because
generally they are illiberal in their character, and our example was
calculated to render their subjects disaffected.

The feeling of which we speak is one that arose from the rapid growth of
this country, and of the fears that that growth had created as to the
safety of European States. It had nothing to do with the character of
our national polity, or with the political opinions of our people. It
would have existed all the same, if we had been governed by an Autocrat
or a Stratocrat, instead of having a movable President for our chief. It
would have been as strong, if our national legislature had been as
quiescent as Napoleon I.'s Senate, instead of being a reckless and an
undignified Congress. It owed its existence to our power, our growth,
our ambition, our "reannexing" spirit, our disposition to meddle with
the affairs of others, our restlessness, and our frequent avowals of an
intention to become masters of all the Occident. We might have been
regarded as even more dangerous than we were, had our government been as
firmly founded as that of Russia, or had it, like that of France, the
power that proceeds at once from the great intellect and the great name
of its chief. A Napoleon or a Nicholas at the head of a people so
intelligent and so active as Americans would indeed have been a most
formidable personage, and likely to employ his power for the disturbance
of mankind.

But in addition to the fear that was created by our rapid growth in
greatness, the rulers of foreign nations regarded us with apprehension
because of our political position. We stood at the head of the popular
interest of Christendom, and all that we effected was carried to the
credit of popular institutions. We stood in antagonism to the
monarchical and aristocratical polities of Europe. The greater our
success, the stronger was the testimony borne by our career against the
old forms of government. Our example was believed to have brought about
that French movement which had shaken the world. The French Revolution
was held to be the child of the American Revolution; and if we had
accomplished so much in our weak youth, what might not be expected from
our example when we should have passed into the state of ripened
manhood? Our existence in full proportions would be a protest against
hereditary rule and exclusiveness. Imitation would follow, and every
existing political interest in Europe was alarmed at the thought of the
attacks to which it was exposed, and which might be precipitated at any
moment. On the other hand, if our "experiment" should prove a failure,
if democracy should come to utter grief in America, if civil war, debt,
and the lessening of the comforts of the masses should be the final
result of our attempt to establish the sovereignty of the people, would
not the effect be fatal to the popular cause in Europe? Certainly there
would be a great reaction, perhaps as great, and even as permanent, as
that Catholic reaction which began in the generation that followed the
death of Luther, and which has been so forcibly painted by the greatest
literary artists of our time. This was the second cause of that interest
in our conflict which has prevailed in Europe, which still prevails
there, and which has compelled Europeans of all classes, our foes as
well as our friends, to turn their attention to our land. "The eyes of
the world are upon us!" is a common saying with egotistical communities
and parties, and mostly it is ridiculously employed; but it was the
soberest of facts for the three years that followed the Battle of Bull
Run. If that gaze has latterly lost some of its intensity, it is because
the thought of intervention in our quarrel has, to appearance, been
abandoned even by the most inveterate of Tories who are not at the same
time fools or the hireling advocates of the Confederate cause.
Intervention in Mexico, too, whatever its success, has proved a more
difficult and a more costly business than was expected, and has
indisposed men who wish our fall to be eager in taking any part in
bringing it about. It may be, too, that the opinion prevails in Europe
that the Rebels are quite equal to the work which there it is desired
should here be wrought, and that policy requires that both parties
should be allowed to bleed to death, perishing by their own hands. If
American democracy is bent upon suicide, why should European aristocrats
interfere openly in the conflict?

We admit that the inference which the European foes of freedom are
prepared to draw from our unhappy quarrel would be perfectly correct, if
they started from a correct position. If our polity is a democratic
polity, and if the end thereof is disunion, civil war, debt, immense
suffering, and the fear of the conflict assuming even a social character
before it shall have been concluded and peace restored, then is the
conclusion inevitable that a democracy is no better than any other form
of government, and is as bad as aristocracy or pure monarchy, under both
of which modes of governing states there have been civil wars, heavy
expenditures, much suffering for all classes of men, and great
insecurity for life and property. Assuredly, democracy never could hope
for a fairer field than has here existed; and if here it has failed, the
friends of democracy must suffer everywhere, and the cause of democracy
receive a check from which it cannot hope to recover for generations. As
"the horrors of the French Revolution" have proved most prejudicial to
the popular cause for seventy years, so must the failure of the American
"experiment" prove prejudicial to that cause throughout Christendom. Our
failure must be even more prejudicial than that of France; for the
French movement was undertaken under circumstances that rendered failure
all but certain, whereas ours was entered upon amid the most favoring
conditions, such as seemed to make failure wellnigh impossible. But we
do not admit that the position assumed by our European enemies is a
sound one, and therefore we hold that the conclusion to which they have
come, and from which they hope to effect so much for the cause of
oppression, is entirely erroneous. Whether we have failed or not, the
democratic principle remains unaffected. As we never have believed that
our example was fairly quotable by European democrats, even when we
appeared to be, and in most respects were, the most successful of
constitutionally governed nations, so do we now deny that our failure to
preserve peace in the old Union can be adduced in evidence against the
excellence of democracy, as that is understood by the advanced liberals
of Europe. As there is nothing in the history of the French Revolution
that should make reflecting men averse to constitutional liberty, so is
there nothing in the history of our war that should cause such men to
become hostile to that democratic idea which, as great observers assure
us, is to overcome and govern the world.

If we have failed, _if_ our conflict is destined to end in a "general
break-down," so unhappy a close to a grand movement will not be due to
the ascendency of democracy here, but rather to democracy having by us
been kept down and depressed. Our polity is not a democratic polity. It
was never meant that it should be a democratic polity. Judging from the
history of the doings of the national convention which made the Federal
Constitution, and of the State conventions which ratified it, we should
be justified in saying that the chief object of "the fathers" was to
prevent the existence of a democracy in America. Their words and deeds
are alike adverse to the notion that democracy had many friends here in
the years that followed the achievement of our nationality. What might
have happened, had the work of constitution-making been entered upon two
or three years later, so that we should have had to read of Frenchmen
and Americans engaged at the same time in the same great business, it
might be interesting to inquire, as matter of curiosity; but our
government under the Constitution had been fairly organized some days
before the last States-General of France met, and, much as this country
was subsequently influenced by considerations that proceeded from the
French Revolution, they did not affect our polity, while they largely
affected our policy. Some eminent men, who were much under the influence
of French ideas, and others who were democratically inclined by their
mental constitution, did not altogether approve of the polity which had
been formed and ratified, and they represented the extreme left of the
country,--as others, who thought that polity too liberal, (too feeble,
they would have said,) represented the extreme right. These men agreed
in nothing but this, that the Federal Constitution was but a temporary
contrivance, and destined to last only until one extreme party or the
other should succeed in overthrowing it, and substituting for it a
polity in which either liberty or power should embody a complete
triumph. Probably not one of their number ever dreamed that it would
have seventy-two years of unbroken existence, or that the first serious
attack made on it would proceed from the quarter whence that attack was
destined to come.

That our polity ever should have been looked upon as democratical in its
character, as well at home as abroad, is one of the strangest facts in
political history. Probably it is owing to some popular expressions in
the Constitution itself. "We, the People of the United States," are the
first words of the instrument, and they are represented as ordaining and
establishing the Constitution. Some of the provisions of the
Constitution are of a popular character, beyond doubt; but they are, in
most instances, not inspirations, but derived from English
experience,--and it will hardly be pretended that England was an armory
from which democracy would think of drawing special weapons. Our
fathers, as it were, codified English ideas and practices, because they
knew them well, and knew them to be good. The two legislative chambers,
the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, the good-behavior tenure of
judges, and generally the modes of procedure, were taken from England;
and they are not of democratic origin, while they are due to the action
of aristocrats. The English Habeas-Corpus Act has been well described as
"the most stringent curb that ever legislation imposed on tyranny"; and
that act was the work of the English Whigs, the most aristocratical
party that ever existed, and it was as dear to Tories as to Whigs.
Democracy had no more to do with its existence than with the existence
of the earth. No democratic movement has ever aimed to extend this
blessing to other countries. In forming our judicial system, the men of
1787-'91 paid little regard to democracy, making judges practically
independent. There have been but two Chief Justices of the United States
for wellnigh sixty-four years, though it is well known that
Chief-Justice Marshall was as odious to the Jeffersonians of the early
part of the century as Chief-Justice Taney is to the ascendent party of
the last four years. Mansfield did not hold his seat more securely in
England than Marshall held his in America, though Mansfield was as
emphatically a favorite of George III. as Marshall was detestable in the
eyes of President Jefferson, who seems to have looked upon the Federal
Supreme Court with feelings not unlike to those with which James II.
regarded the Habeas-Corpus Act. Had he been the head of a democratic
polity, as he was the head of the democratic party, President Jefferson
would have got rid of the obnoxious Chief Justice as summarily as ever a
Stuart king ridded himself of an independent judge. And he would have
been supported by his political friends,--democrats being quite as ready
to support tyranny, and to punish independent officials, as ever were
aristocrats or monarchists.

The manner in which Congress is constituted ought alone to suffice to
show that our polity is thoroughly anti-democratic. The House of
Representatives has the appearance of being a popular body; but a
popular body it is not, in any extended sense. The right to vote for
members of the House is restricted, in some States essentially so. As
matters stood during the whole period between the first election of
Representatives and the closing days of 1860, a large number of members
were chosen as representatives of property in men, a number sufficiently
large to decide the issue of more than one great political question. In
the Congress that met in December, 1859, the last Congress of the old
_régime_, one eleventh part of the Representatives, or thereabout,
represented slaves! Could anything be more opposed to democratic ideas
than such a basis of representation as that? Does any one suppose it
would be possible to incorporate into a democratic constitution that
should be formed for a European nation a provision giving power in the
legislature to men because they were slaveholders, allowing them to
treat their slaves as beasts from one point of view, and to regard them
as men and women from another point of view? Even in the Free States,
and down to recent times, large numbers of men have been excluded from
voting for Members of Congress because of the closeness of State laws.
At this very time, the State of Rhode Island--a State which in opinion
has almost invariably been in advance of her sisters--maintains a
suffrage-system that is considered illiberal, if not odious, in
Massachusetts; and Massachusetts herself is very careful to guard the
polls so jealously that she will not allow any man to vote who does not
pay roundly for the "privilege" of voting, while she provides other
securities that operate so stringently as sometimes to exclude even men
who have paid their money. Universal suffrage exists nowhere in the
United States, nor has its introduction ever been proposed in any part
of this country. The French imperial system of voting approaches much
nearer to universality than anything that ever has been known in
America; and yet England manages to get along tolerably well with her
imperial and democratic neighbor. Perhaps imperialism sweetens democracy
for her, just as democracy salts imperialism in France.

But our House of Representatives, as originally constituted, was a
democratic body, when compared with "the upper chamber," the Senate. The
very existence of an "upper chamber" was an invasion of democratic
ideas. If the people are right, why institute a body expressly for the
purpose of checking their operations? Yet, in making our Constitution,
not only was such a body instituted, but it was rendered as
anti-democratic and as aristocratical as it could possibly be made. Its
members were limited to two from each State, so that perfect equality
between the States existed in the Senate, though one State might have
four million inhabitants, and its neighbor not one hundred thousand. How
this worked in practice will appear from the statement of a few facts.
The year before the war began, the three leading States of the Union,
New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, had, in round numbers, ten millions of
people, and they sent six members to the Senate, or the same number with
Delaware, Florida, and Oregon, which had not above a twelfth part as
many. Massachusetts had seven times as many people as Rhode Island, and
each had two Senators. And so on through the whole roll of States. The
Senators are not popularly elected, but are chosen by the State
legislatures, and for the long term of six years, while Representatives
are elected by the people, every two years. The effect was, that the
Senate became the most powerful body in the Republic, which it really
ruled during the last twelve years of the old Union's existence, when
our Presidents were of the Forcible-Feeble order of men. The English
have Mr. Mason in their country, and they make much of him; and he will
tell them, if asked, that the Senate was the chief power of the American
State in its last days. That it was so testifies most strongly to the
fact that our polity is not democratic. Yet it was to the peculiar
constitution of the Senate that the seventy-two years of the Union were
due; and had nothing occurred to disturb its formation, we should have
had no Secession War. There was no danger that Secession could happen
but what came from the existence of Slavery; and so long as the number
of Slave States and of Free States remained the same, it was impossible
to convince any large portion of the slaveholders that their beloved
institution could be put in danger. But latterly the Free States got
ahead of the Slave States, and then the Secessionists had an opportunity
to labor to some purpose, and that opportunity they did not neglect. It
was to preserve the relative position of the two "sections" that the
Missouri Compromise was repealed in 1854, in the hope and expectation
that several new States might be made that should set up Slavery, and be
represented by slaveholders. Had this nefarious scheme succeeded, it
would have saved us from the Secession War; but it would have brought
other evils upon the country, which, in the long run, might have proved
as great as those under which we are now suffering. We were reduced to a
choice of evils; and though we chose blindly, it is by no means certain
that we did not choose wisely. As in all other cases, the judgment must
depend upon the event,--and the judges are gentlemen who sit in

The manner in which the President and Vice-President of the United
States were chosen was the reverse of democratical. Each State had the
right to cast as many Electoral votes as it had Representatives in
Congress, which was a democratic arrangement up to a certain point; but
as a score and upward of the Representatives owed their existence to the
existence of Slavery, the equality of the arrangement was more apparent
than real. Yet farther in the direction of inequality: each State was
allowed two Electors who answered to its Senators, which placed New
Jersey on a footing with New York, Delaware with Pennsylvania, and
Florida with Ohio, in utter disregard of all democratic ideas. The
simple creation of Electoral Colleges was an anti-democratic proceeding.
The intention of the framers of the Constitution was that the Electors
of each State should be a perfectly independent body, and that they
should vote according to their own sense of duty. We know that they
never formed an independent body, and that they became at once mere
agents of parties. This failure was in part owing to a sort of
Chalcedonian blindness in the National Convention of 1787. That
convention should have placed the choice of Electors where it placed the
choice of Senators,--in the State legislatures. This would not have made
the Electors independent, but it would have worked as well as the plan
for choosing Senators, which has never been changed, and which it has
never been sought to change. The mode of choosing a President by the
National House of Representatives, when the people have failed to elect
one, is thoroughly anti-democratic. The voting is then by States, the
small States being equal to the great ones. Delaware then counts for as
much as New York, though Delaware has never had but one Representative,
and during one decennial term New York's Representatives numbered forty!
Twice in our history--in 1801 and in 1825--have Presidents been chosen
by the House of Representatives.

The manner in which it is provided that amendments to the Constitution
shall be effected amounts to a denial of the truth of what is considered
to be an American truism, namely, that the majority shall rule.
Two-thirds of both Houses of Congress, or two-thirds of the legislatures
of the several States, must unite in the first instance, before
amendments can be proposed, or a convention called in which to propose
them. If thus far effected, they must be ratified by three-fourths of
the States, before they can be incorporated into the Constitution. The
process is as difficult as that which awaited the proposer of an
amendment to the legislation of the Locrian lawgiver, who made his
motion with a rope round his neck, with which he was strangled, if that
motion was negatived. The provisions of Article V. pay no more attention
to the mere majority of the people than Napoleon III would pay to a
request from the majority of Frenchmen to abdicate that imperial
position which he won for himself, and which it is his firm purpose
shall remain in his family.

It would be no difficult matter to point out other anti-democratic
provisions in our National Constitution; and it would be easy to show
that in the Constitutions of most of our States, if not in all of them,
there are provisions which flagrantly violate the democratic principle,
and of which European democrats never could approve. All through the
organic laws of the Nation and the States there are to be found
restraints on numbers, as if the leading idea of the Constitution-makers
of America were aversion to mere majorities, things that fluctuate from
year to year,--almost from day to day,--and therefore are not to be
trusted. We are stating the fact, and it does not concern our purpose to
discuss the wisdom of what has here been done. How happened it, then,
that our polity was so generally regarded as purely democratical in its
character? Partly this was owing to the extremely popular nature of all
our political action, and to the circumstances of the country not
admitting of any struggle between the rich and the poor. Because there
was no such struggle, it was inferred that the rich had been conquered
by the poor, when the truth was, that, outside of the cities and large
towns, there were no poor from whom to form a party. Degrees of wealth,
and of means below wealth, there were, and there were poor men; but
there was no class of poor people, and hence no material from which to
form a proletarian party. In all our great party-conflicts the wealth
and talents of the country were not far from equally divided, the wealth
and ability of the South being mostly with the democratic party, while
those of the North were on the side of their opponents; but to this rule
there were considerable exceptions. Foreigners could not understand
this; and their conclusion was that the masses had their own way in
America, and that property was at their mercy, as it is said by some
writers to have been at the mercy of the democracy of Athens.[J] We
were said to have established universal suffrage, when in fact suffrage
was limited in every State, and in some States essentially limited, the
abuses that from time to time occurred happening in great towns for the
most part. Most citizens were legal voters in the larger number of the
States; but this was owing, not altogether to the liberal character of
our polity or legislation, but to the general prosperity of the country,
which made tax-paying easy and intelligence common, and hence caused
myriads of men to take a warm interest in politics who in other
countries never would have thought of troubling themselves about
politics, save in times of universal commotion. The political appearance
presented by the country was that of a democracy, beyond all question.
America seemed to be a democratic flat to the foreigner. To him the
effect was much the same as follows from looking upon a map. Look upon a
map, and there is nothing but flatness to be seen, the most perfect
equality between all parts of the earth. There are neither mountains nor
villages, neither elevations nor chasms, nothing but conventional marks
to indicate the existence of such things. The earth is a boundless
plain, on which the prairie is as high as Chimborazo. The observer of
the real earth knows that such is not the case, and that inequality is
the physical world's law. So was it here, to the foreign eye. All
appeared to be on the same level, when he looked upon us from his home;
but when he came amongst us, he found that matters here differed in no
striking respect from those of older nations. Yet so wedded were
foreigners to the notion that we were all democrats, and that here the
majority did as it pleased them to do, that, but a short time before his
death,--which took place just a year before the beginning of the
Secession movement,--Lord Macaulay wrote a letter in which he expressed
his belief that we should fall because of a struggle between the rich
and the poor, for which we had provided by making suffrage universal! He
could not have been more ignorant of the real sources of the danger that
threatened us, if he had been an American who resolutely closed his
eyes, and then would not believe in what he would not see. When such a
man could make such a mistake, and supposed that we were to perish from
an agrarian revolt,--we being then on the eve of a revolt of the
slaveholders,--it cannot be matter for wonder that the common European
belief was that the United States constituted a pure and perfect
democracy, or that most Europeans of the higher classes should have
considered that democracy as the most impure and imperfect of political

The long and almost unbroken ascendency of the democratic party in this
country had much to do with creating the firm impression that our system
was democratic in its character,--men not discriminating closely between
that party and the polity of which it had charge. Originally, some
reproach attached to the word _Democrat_, considered as a party-name;
and it was not generally accepted until after the Jeffersonian time had
passed away. Men who would now be called _Democrats_ were known as
_Republicans_ in the early part of the century. But the word conquered a
great place for itself, and became the most popular of political names,
so that even respectable Whigs did not hesitate to appropriate it to
their own use. Whatever name it was known by, the democratic party took
possession of the Federal Government in 1801, and held it through an
unbroken line of Virginia Presidents for twenty-four years. The
Presidential term of Mr. J.Q. Adams was no breach of democratic
party-rule in fact, whatever it was in name, for almost every man who
held high office under Mr. Adams was a Jeffersonian democrat. In 1829
the new democratic party came into power, and held office for twelve
successive years. The Whig victory of 1840 hardly interrupted that rule,
as President Harrison's early death threw power into the hands of Mr.
Tyler, who was an ultra-Jeffersonian democrat, a Pharisee of the
Pharisees. Mr. Polk, a Jacksonian democrat, was President from 1845 to
1849. The four years that followed saw the Presidential chair filled by
Whigs, General Taylor and Mr. Fillmore; and those four years form the
only time in which men who had had no connection with the democratic
party wielded the executive power of the United States. General Pierce
and Mr. Buchanan, both democrats, were at the head of the Government for
the eight years that followed Mr. Fillmore's retirement. Thus, during
the sixty years that followed Mr. Jefferson's inauguration in 1801, the
Presidency was held by democrats for fifty-six years, President Harrison
himself being a democrat originally,--and if he is to be counted on the
other side, the counting would not amount to much, as he was President
less than five weeks. Even in those years in which the democrats did not
have the Presidency, they were powerful in Congress, and generally
controlled Federal legislation. It was natural, when the democratic
party was so successful under our polity, that that polity should itself
be considered democratic. In point of fact, the polity was as democratic
as the party,--our democrats seldom displaying much sympathy with
liberal ideas, and in their latter days becoming even servilely
subservient to Slavery. It is but fair to add, that down to 1854 their
sins with respect to Slavery were rather those of position than of
principle, and that their action was no worse than would have been that
of their opponents, had the latter been the ruling party. But, as the
democratic party did rule here, and was supposed to hold to democratic
principles, the conclusion was not unreasonable that we were living
under a democratic polity, the overthrow of which would be a warning to
the Liberals of Europe.

Our polity was constitutional in its character, strictly so; and if it
has failed,--which we are far indeed from admitting,--the inference
would seem fairly to be, that Constitutionalism has received a blow, not
Democracy. As England is the greatest of constitutional countries, our
failure, supposing it to have occurred, tells with force against her,
from whose system we have drawn so much, and not adversely to the cause
of European democracy, from whose principles and practice we have taken
little. To us it seems that our war bears hard upon no government but
our own, upon no people but ourselves, upon no party but American
parties. It is as peculiar in its origin as in its modes. It had its
origin in the existence of Slavery, and Slavery here existed in the
worst form ever known among men. Until Slavery shall be found elsewhere
in combination with Constitutionalism or Democracy, it would be unfair
to quote our contest as a warning to other liberally governed lands. We
were a nation with a snake in its bosom; and as no other nation is
similarly afflicted, our misfortune cannot be cited in the case of any
other community. Free institutions are to be judged by their effect when
they have had fair play, and not by what has happened in a republic
which sought to have them in an unnatural alliance with the most
detestable form of tyrannical oppression. REVIEWS AND LITERARY NOTICES.

_A Summer Cruise on the Coast of New England._ By Robert Carter. Boston:
Crosby & Nichols, pp. 261.

In these days, when the high price of paper makes it easy for authors to
sell by the pound what no one would take by the single copy, he is
luckiest who has made the heaviest book. Our morning newspaper nowadays
is a kind of palimpsest, and one cannot help wondering how many dead
volumes, how many hopes and disappointments, lie buried under that
surface made smooth for the Telegraph (sole author who is sure of
readers) to write upon. We seem to detect here and there a flavor of
Jones's Poem or Smith's History, something like the rhythm of the one
and the accuracy of the other. _Quot libras autore summo invenies?_ is
the question for booksellers now.

In a metaphysical sense, one is apt to find many heavy books for one
weighty one, and it is as difficult to make light reading that shall
have any nutriment in it as to make light bread. Mr. Carter has
succeeded in giving us something at once entertaining and instructive.
One who introduces us to a new pleasure close by our own doors, and
tells us how we may have a cheap vacation of open air, with fresh
experience of scenery and adventure at every turn, deserves something of
the same kind of gratitude as he who makes two blades of grass grow
where one grew before. Americans, above all other men, need to be taught
to take a vacation, and how to spend one so as to find in it the rest
which mere waste of time never gives. Mr. Carter teaches us how we may
have all the pleasure without any of the responsibilities of yachting,
and, reversing the method of our summer migration, shows us the shore
from the sea.

Hakluyt and Purchas have made us familiar with, the landscape of our
coast to the early voyagers,--with its fringe of forest to the water's
edge, its fair havens, its swarms of wild fowl, its wooded islets
tangled with grape-vines, its unknown mountains looming inland, and its
great rivers flowing out of the realm of dream; but its present aspect
is nearly as unfamiliar to us as to them. We know almost as little of
the natives as Gosnold. Mr. Carter's voyage extends from Plymouth to
Mount Desert, and he lands here and there to explore a fishing-village
or seaport town, with all the interest of an outlandish man. He
describes scenery with the warmth of a lover of Nature and the accuracy
of a geographer. Acting as a kind of volunteer aide-de-camp to a
naturalist, he dredges and fishes both as man of science and amateur,
and makes us more familiarly acquainted with many queer denizens of
fin-land. He mingles with our fishermen, and finds that the schoolmaster
has been among them also. His book is lively without being flippant, and
full of information without that dulness which is apt to be the evil
demon of statistics. The moral of it is, that, as one may travel from
Dan to Beersheba and see nothing, so one needs but to open his eyes to
the life and Nature around him to find plenty of entertainment and

_Azarian_: An Episode. By Harriet E. Prescott, Author of "The Amber
Gods," etc. Boston: Ticknor & Fields.

If one opened the costly album of some rare colorist, and became
bewildered amid successive wreaths of pictured flowers, with hues that
seemed to burn, and freshness that seemed fragrant, one could hardly
quarrel with a few stray splashes of purple or carmine spilt heedlessly
on the pages. Such a book is "Azarian"; and if few are so lavish and
reckless with their pigments as Harriet Prescott, it is because few have
access to such wealth. If one proceeds from the theory that all life in
New England is to be pictured as bare and pallid, it must seem very
wrong in her to use tints so daring; but if one believes that life here,
as elsewhere, may be passionate as Petrarch and deep as Beethoven, there
appears no reason why all descriptive art should be Quaker-colored.

Nature and cultivation gave to this writer a rare inventive skill, an
astonishing subtilty in the delineation of character, and a style
perhaps unequalled among contemporaries in a certain Keats-like
affluence. Yet her plots have usually been melodramatic, her characters
morbid, and her descriptions overdone. These are undoubtedly great
offences, and have grievously checked her growing fame. But the American
public, so ready to flatter early merit, has itself to thank, if that
flattery prove a pernicious atmosphere. That fatal cheapness of
immediate reputation which stunts most of our young writers, making the
rudiments of fame so easy to acquire, and fame itself so
difficult,--which dwarfs our female writers so especially that not one
of them, save Margaret Fuller, has ever yet taken the pains to train
herself for first-class literary work,--has no doubt had a transient
influence on Harriet Prescott. Add to this, perhaps, the common and
fatal necessity of authorship which pushes even second-best wares into
the market. It is evident, that, with all the instinct of a student and
an artist, she has been a sensation-writer against her will. The whole
structure of "Azarian," which is evidently a work of art and of love,
indicates these higher aspirations, and shows that she is resolved to
nourish them, not by abandoning her own peculiar ground, but by training
her gifts and gradually exorcising her temptations. Like her "Amber
Gods," the book rests its strength on its descriptive and analytic
power, not on its events; but, unlike that extraordinary story, it is
healthful in its development and hopeful in its ending. The name of "An
Episode" seems to be given to it, not in affectation, but in humility.
It is simply a minute study of character, in the French style, though
with a freshness and sweetness which no Frenchman ever yet succeeded in
transferring into language, and which here leave none of that bad taste
in the mouth of which Charlotte Brontè complained. The main situation is
one not new in fiction, being simply unequal love and broken troth, but
it is one never to be portrayed too often or too tenderly, and it is not
desecrated, but ennobled by the handling. It is refreshing to be able to
say for Miss Prescott that she absolutely reaches the end of the book
without a suicide or a murder, although the heroine for a moment
meditates the one and goes to the theatre to behold the other. The
dialogue, usually a weak point with this writer, is here for better
managed than usual, having her customary piquancy, with less of
disfigurement from flippancy and bad puns. The plot shows none of those
alarming pieces of incongruity and bathos which have marred some of her
stories. And one may fancy that it is not far to seek for the originals
of Azarian, Charmian, and Madame Sarator.

It is the style of the book, however, to which one must revert with
admiration, not unmingled with criticism, and, it may be, a trifle of
just indignation. There are not ten living writers in America of whom it
can be said that their style is in itself a charm,--that it has the
range, the flexibility, the delicacy, the ease, the strength, which
constitute permanent power,--that it is so saturated with life, with
literary allusion, with the symbolism of Nature, as to make us dwell on
the mere sentences with delight, apart from all thought of argument or
theme. This it is to be a literary artist; and as Miss Prescott may
justly claim to rank among these favored ones, she must be tried by the
code which befits her station. There is not, perhaps, another individual
among us who could have written the delicious descriptions of external
Nature which this book contains,--not one of the multitude of young
artists, now devoting their happy hours to flower-painting, who can
depict color by color as she depicts it by words. We hold in our hands
an illuminated missal, some Gospel of Nature according to June or
October, as the case may be. The price she pays for this astonishing
gift is to be often overmastered by it, to be often betrayed into
exuberant and fantastic phrases, and wanderings into the realm of words
unborn. One fancies the dismay of the accomplished corrector of the
University Press, as his indignant pencil hung over "incanting" and
"reverizing" and "cose." Yet closer examination always shows that she,
too, has studied grammar and dictionary, algebra and the Greek alphabet;
and her most daring verbal feats are never vague or wayward, for there
is always an eager and accurate brain behind them. She dares too much to
escape blunders, yet, after all, commits fewer in proportion than those
who dare less. The basis of all good writing is truth in details; and
her lavish wealth of description would be a gaudy profanation, were it
not based on a fidelity of observation which is Thoreau-like, so far as
it goes. "Sabbatia sprays, those rosy ghosts that haunt the Plymouth
ponds,"--"the cardinal, with the very glitter of the stream it loves
meshed like a silver mist behind its scarlet sheen,"--"the wide rhodora
marshes, where some fleece of burning mist seemed to be fallen and
caught and tangled in countless filaments upon the bare twigs,"--such
traits as these are not to be found in the newspapers nor in the
botanies. With all her seeming lavishness, she rarely wastes a word.
Though she may sometimes heap upon a frail hepatica some greater
accumulation of fine-spun fancies than its slender head will bear, she
yet can so characterize a flower with a touch that any one of its lovers
would know it without the name. If she hints at "those slipshod little
anemones that cannot stop to count their petals, but take one from their
neighbor or leave another behind them," it is because she knows how
peculiarly this fantastic variableness belongs to the rue-leaved
species, so unlike the staid precision of its cousin, the wind-flower,
from which not one pedestrian in a hundred can yet distinguish it. If
she simply says, "great armfuls of blue lupines," she has said enough,
because this is almost the only wild-flower whose size, shape, and
abundance naturally tempt one to gather it thus: imagine her speaking of
armfuls of violets or wild roses! From this basis of accurate fact her
fancy can safely unfold its utmost wings, as in her fancied
illustrations for the Garden-Song in "Maud," or in the wonderful
descriptions of Azarian's lonely nights on the water. "He leaned over
his boat-side, miles away from any shore, a star looked down from far
above, a star looked up from far below, the glint passed as instantly,
and left him the sole spirit between immense concaves of void and
fulness, shut in like the flaw in a diamond." How the subscribers to the
Circulating Library of the enterprising Mr. Loring must catch their
breaths in amazement, when that courteous gentleman hands them for the
last new novel--sandwiched between "Pique" and "Woodburn"--thoughts of
such a compass as that!

There are sometimes fictitious writers who sweep across the land in a
great wave of popularity and then pass away,--as Frederika Bremer twenty
years ago,--and leave no visible impression behind. But Harriet
Prescott's fame rests on a foundation of sure superiorities, so far as
she possesses it; and no one has impaired or can impair it, except
herself. If it has not grown as was at first anticipated, it has been
her own doing, and "Azarian" has come none too soon to give a better
augury for the future. There is no literary laurel too high for her to
grasp, if her own will, and favoring circumstances, shall enable her to
choose only noble and innocent themes, and to use canvas firm and pure
enough for the rare colors she employs.

_The Wrong of Slavery, the Right of Emancipation, and the Future of the
African Race in the United States_. By Robert Dale Owen. Philadelphia:
J.B. Lippincott & Co. 12mo.

"Book, Sir, book! It's the _title_!" This is the reputed saying of
Longman, the publisher, when asked for the key to bookselling. It is a
pity that Mr. Owen's book has so cumbrous a name to carry; for
everything else about it is compact and portable. Few American works on
statistics or political economy possess either brevity or an index, and
this combines both treasures. "In this small volume, which a busy man
may read in a few hours," the author condenses an immense deal,--and it
is a blessed sign, if a man who has been in Congress can still be so
economical of words. If his brother Congressmen would only imitate his
precious example, what a blessed hope! How gladly would one subscribe
for the "Congressional Globe," with the assurance that it would
henceforth be the only tedious book in his library, that all the chaff
would hereafter be safely winnowed into that, and all the sense put into
comfortable little duo-decimos like this!

Mr. Owen's opportunities, as Chairman of the American Freedmen's
Commission, have been very great, and he has used them well. The history
of slavery and the slave-trade,--the practical consequences of
both,--the constitutionality of emancipation,--the present condition of
the freed slaves, and their probable future,--all this ground is
comprehended within two hundred and fifty pages. The points last named
have, of course, the most immediate value, and his treatment of these
is exceedingly manly and sensible. He shows conclusively that the whole
demeanor of the freed slaves has done them infinite credit, and that the
key to their successful management is simply to treat them with justice.
That this justice includes equal rights of citizenship he fully asserts,
and states the gist of the matter in one of the most telling paragraphs
of the book. "God, who made the liberation of the negro the condition
under which alone we could succeed in this war, has now, in His
providence, brought about a position of things under which it would seem
that a full recognition of that negro's rights as a citizen becomes
indispensable to stability of government in peace." For, as Mr. Owen
shows, even if under any other circumstances we might excuse ourselves
for delaying the recognition of the freedman's right to suffrage,
because of his ignorance and inexperience, yet it would be utterly
disastrous to do so now, when two-thirds of the white population will
remain disloyal, even when conquered. We cannot safely reorganize a
republican government on the basis of one-sixth of its population, and
shall be absolutely compelled to avail ourselves of that additional
three-sixths which is loyal and black. Fortunately, as a matter of fact,
there are no obstacles to the citizenship of the Southern negro greater
than those in the way of the average foreign immigrant. The emancipated
negro is at least as industrious and thrifty as the Celt, takes more
pride in self-support, is far more eager for education, and has fewer
vices. It is impossible to name any standard of requisites for the full
rights of citizenship which will give a vote to the Celt and exclude the

Much as has been written on this point, Mr. Owen has yet some
astonishing facts to contribute. He shows, for instance, by the official
statements, that, amidst the great distress produced in the city of St.
Louis at the beginning of the war, by the gathering of white and black
refugees from all parts of the State, when ten thousand persons received
public aid, only two out of that whole vast number were of negro blood.
These two were all who applied, one being lame, the other bedridden, and
both women. He shows, upon similar authority, that the free colored
people of Louisiana, under serious civil disabilities, are, on the
average, richer, by seven and a half per cent., than the people of the
Northern States. Their average wealth in 1860 was five hundred and
twenty dollars, while the average wealth in the loyal Free States is
only four hundred and eighty-four dollars. Such facts show how utterly
gratuitous is the frequent assumption that the emancipated slave does
not sufficiently know the value of a dollar.

Upon some disputed points Mr. Owen does not, perhaps, make his facts
quite cover his inferences, as, for instance, on the vexed question of
the vigor and vitality of the mulatto, upon which the more extended
observations of the last three years have as yet shed little light. It
is the same with the whole obscure problem of amalgamation; indeed, he
slips into an absolute contradiction, in pronouncing judgment rather too
hastily here. "I believe," he says, "that the effect of general
emancipation will be to discourage amalgamation. It is rare in Canada."
(p. 219.) But, however it may be in Canada, he has already admitted,
four pages before, that "the proportion of mulattoes among the free
colored is much greater than among the slaves," which is, doubt less,
true, except, perhaps, in a few large cities of the South. It is a
subject of common remark that the Southern colored regiments are
generally of far darker complexion than those recruited at the North,
and this is inexplicable except on the supposition that freedom, even
more than slavery, tends thus far to amalgamation. What further step in
reasoning this suggests, it is, fortunately, not needful to inquire;
like all other mysteries of human destiny, this will safely work itself
out. It is not for nothing that the black man thrives in contact with
the white, while the red man dies; and there certainly are practical
anxieties enough to last us for a month or two, without borrowing any
from the remoter future.

_Enoch Arden_, etc. By ALFRED TENNYSON, D.C.L., Poet-Laureate. Boston:
Ticknor & Fields.

In his new volume Tennyson has thrown out some verses, graceful,
defiant, triumphant, and yet a little touched with sadness, in which he
assails the thieves who have stolen his seed of poetry, and made the
flower so common that the people call it--as, indeed, they did when
first it blossomed--a weed. It may be for the reason here indicated that
he has chosen for his later poems a form--that of the Idyl--the
versification, construction, and use of which he has made his own by a
delicate and yet indisputable stamp of sovereignty: whatever may be the
reason, let us be thankful for the choice. He has worked in no field of
whose resources he was more completely master, or which has yielded him
more full and varied development of his rare genius. The work of his
riper years, with the results of his fidelity in discipline, his
generous culture, his catholic and earnest intercourse with men, and his
clear and thoughtful observation lying ready for his use, he has crowned
the green glory of his past with a chaplet that will grow more sure of
permanence with the scrutiny of every succeeding year. In his "Idyls of
the King" we recognized the best moral qualities of many of his previous
works; and in "Enoch Arden," which gives the title to his last volume,
he has turned the full light of his perfected genius on the simple
scenes of domestic joy and sorrow.

We have always deemed it one of the greatest of Tennyson's great and
good qualities, that he is unfaltering in the tribute of honor which he
pays to the sterling virtues and to the beauty and heroism which he
rejoices to point us to in the daily walk of the humblest life. A
blameless character, pure desire, manly ambition, a fervent faith, and a
strong will, resting on the firm innermost foundation of a Christian
spirit, are as real to him in the fisherman as in the peerless prince.
The temptations, the strength, and the temper of the hero are so common
to both, and so clearly brought out in each, that we feel the Man in the
Prince, and the high aim of the Prince in the true Man. There is the
"grand, heroic soul" in Enoch as in Arthur,--

    "Who reverenced his conscience as his king;
    Whose glory was redressing human wrong;
    Who spoke no slander, no, nor listened to it;
    Who loved one only, and who clave to her."

Our poet never strays from Nature; which has for him two sides,--the old
duality, which is also forever,--the real and the ideal. To the one he
brings the most patient fidelity of study; the other he reflects in
every part of his poems in glowing imagery. "Enoch Arden" contains
scenes which a Pre-Raphaelite might draw from,--as that "cup-like hollow
in the down" which held the hazel-wood, with the children nutting
through its reluctant boughs, or the fireside of Philip, on which Enoch
looked and was desolate. On the other hand, no poet has so planted our
literature with gorgeous gardens from which generations of lesser
laborers will be enriched and prospered. The figures in which Tennyson
uses Nature are not, moreover, strained or artificial; they do not
distort or cover the inner meaning, but bloom from it, revealing its
beauty and its sweetness. All bear the mark of loving thought,--now so
delicate that its very faintness thrills and holds us, now strong and
spirited and solemn.

In this latest poem we find also the old surpassing skill of language, a
skill dependent on the faculty of penetrating to the inmost significance
both of words and of things, so that there is no waste, and so that
single words in single sentences stamp on the brain the substance of
long experiences. Witness this: Enoch lies sick, distant from home and
wife and children; here is one word crowded with pathos, telling of the
weary loss of livelihood, the burden slowly growing more intolerably
irksome to the bold and careful worker wrestling with pain, and to the
fragile mother of the new-born babe:--

    "Another hand _crept_, too, across his trade,
    Taking her bread and theirs."

See, again, how one line woven in the context shows where the tears
came. Enoch, wrecked, solitary, almost hopeless, found that

    "A phantom made of many phantoms moved
    Before him, haunting him,--or he himself
    Moved, haunting people, things, and places known
    Far in a darker isle beyond the line:
    The babes, their babble, Annie, the small house,
    The climbing street, the mill, the leafy lanes,
    The peacock-yewtree and the lonely Hall,
    The horse he drove, the boat he sold, the chill
    November dawns and dewy glooming of the downs,
    The gentle shower, _the smell of dying leaves_,
    And the low moan of leaden-colored seas."

We know of no more perfect rendering of an unlearned and trustful faith
in God than this which Tennyson puts in the mouth of Enoch as he departs
on the voyage from which he never returns to his wife:--

      "If you fear,
    Cast all your fears on God: that anchor holds.
    Is He not yonder in those uttermost
    Parts of the morning? if I flee to these,
    Can I go from Him? And the sea is His,
    The sea is His: He made it."

In the repetition in the last line one can almost hear the sob welling
up from the heart of the strong sailor, as he speaks of God to one
beloved, in time of trial,--the feeling of bitterness in parting
starting with the impulse of the stronger faith.

In "Enoch Arden," as in "In Memoriam," Tennyson shows the sweet and sure
sympathy which informs him of all the ways of grief. In its sacred
experiences, where the slightest variance from the simplicity of actual
feeling would jostle all, he holds his way unquestioned.

It is a test, unembarrassed and complete, of genius, this treatment of
grief, the emotion which least of all brooks exaggeration or
sentimentalism. It is the test of human purity, too, and the hand must
be very tender and very clean which leaves thus exact and clear the
picture of the crowning phase of human life. If "In Memoriam" has
appropriated to itself, by its sublime supremacy, a phrase which, though
in daily use, is never heard without suggesting the poem, Tennyson shows
in "Enoch Arden" that he understands the sad and perfect reign of grief
in the life of the sailor and of the sailor's wife struck with a great
sorrow for the loss of the latest born, as well as in the broad and
varied range of his own cultured nature.

Coupled with the knowledge of grief is this of prayer,--"that mystery
when God in man is one with man-in-God,"--which is said when Enoch had
resolved to surrender his Annie rather than to break in upon her

      "His resolve
    Upbore him, and firm faith, and evermore
    Prayer, from a living source within the will,
    And beating up through all the bitter world,
    Like fountains of sweet water in the sea,
    Kept him a living soul."

And so we close the poem, which touches us again more than we deemed
possible, till each renewal of the reading stirs again the depths of
passionate sympathy. A pure manhood among the poets, a heart simple as
the simplest, an imperial fancy, whose lofty supremacy none can
question, a high faith, and a spirit possessed with the sublimest and
most universal of Christ's truths, a tender and strong humanity, not
bounded by a vague and misty sentiment, but pervading life in all its
forms, and with these great skill and patience and beauty in
expression,--these are the riper qualities to which "Enoch Arden"
testifies. They are qualities whose attainment and retention are
singularly rare, and whose value we cannot easily overrate.

And thus much having been said of "Enoch Arden," we find no space for
consideration of the other poems contained in the new volume. "Aylmer's
Field" is in some respects, perhaps, more remarkable than the poem which
precedes it, since the poet never loses sight of England, in its course,
nor the old familiar scenes, but tugs at the fetid roots of shallow
aristocracy with the relentless clutch of one of God's noblemen laboring
for the right.

Shut in these few pages we find the substance of a three-volume novel;
and while the mind sways slowly to the music of its "sculptured lines,"
the lives of men move on from birth to death, leaving their meaning
stamped in rhythmic beauty on our heart and brain.

Nor must we forget, while contemplating the two principal poems in the
volume,--finished heroic lessons of the poet's mature life,--the songs,
singing themselves like summer ripples on the strand, which are their
melodious companions. Among them we dare to mention "In the Valley of

    "Sweeter thy voice, though every sound is sweet."


[A] _Madame Récamier, with a Sketch of the History of Society in
France_. By Madame M----. London. 1862.

[B] _Causeries de Lundi_.

[C] _Coppet et Weimar: Madame de Staël et la Grande Duchesse Louise_.

[D] Madame de Châteaubriand.

[E] This term designated a larger class of young men than that to which
it is now confined. It took in the articled clerks of merchants and
bankers, the George Barnwells of the day.

[F] Since writing this article, we have been informed that the object of
our funeral oration is not definitively dead, but only moribund. So much
the better: we shall have an opportunity of granting the request made to
Walter by one of the children in the wood, and "kill him two times." The
Abbé de Vertot, having a siege to write, and not receiving the materials
in time, composed the whole from his invention. Shortly after its
completion, the expected documents arrived, when he threw them aside,
exclaiming, "You are of no use to me now: I have carried the town."

[G] _Cornhill Magazine_, June, 1864, Vol. IX. p. 654.

[H] Gates was an Englishman, and has a damaged reputation. Lee was
another, who has no reputation at all. Conway was an Irishman, and the
same is true of him. But these men all did something to forfeit esteem.
Jones never did. Montgomery died in the full flush of his deserved
honors. He was Irish by birth.

[I] Not bound to the Baltic, as Mr. Thackeray supposes. Cf. Beatson's
_Naval Memoirs_, Vol. IV. pp. 550-553.

[J] The bad character that is commonly given to the Athenian polity by
the enemies of popular government is by no means deserved if we can
trust the definition of that polity by Pericles, as reported by
Thucydides, and translated by that eminent scholar and great historian,
Mr. Grote. "We live under a constitution," says Pericles, in the
famous funeral speech, "such as noway to envy the laws of our
neighbors,--ourselves an example to others, rather than mere imitators.
It is called a democracy, since its permanent aim tends toward the Many
and not toward the Few: in regard to private matters and disputes, the
laws deal equally with every man: while looking to public affairs and to
claims of individual influence, every man's chance of advancement is
determined, not by party favor, but by real worth, according as his
reputation stands in his own particular department: nor does poverty, or
obscure station, keep him back, if he really has the means of benefiting
the city." This wellnigh makes a political Arcadia of Athens. Yet there
is no good reason, after making due allowance for the imperfection of
human action, when compared with the theory of a given polity, for
doubting the correctness of the picture.

[K] One of our English Friends, a man of well-earned eminence, says that
"extracts from the contemporary literature of America seem to show,
that, if the result of the Presidential election of 1860 had been
different, separation would have come, not from the South, but from the
North." (See _Essays on Fiction_, by Nassau W. Senior, p. 397.) Mr.
Senior is mistaken, as much so as when he says that "a total abstinence
from novel-reading pervades New England," where there is more
novel-reading than in any other community of the same numbers in the
world. With the exception of "the old Abolitionists," there were not
five hundred disunionists in all the Free States in 1860; and the
Abolitionists would neither fight nor vote, and, though possessed of
eminent abilities, they had no influence. If Mr. Senior were right, we
do not see how the South could be blamed for what it has done; for, if
we could secede because of Mr. Lincoln's defeat, it follows that the
South could secede because of his election.

End of the Project Gutenberg EBook of Atlantic Monthly, Volume 14, No. 84,
October, 1864, by Various


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