Infomotions, Inc.The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 07, No. 42, April, 1861 / Various



Author: Various
Title: The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 07, No. 42, April, 1861
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Tag(s): dudley venner; cotton; fort sumter; cotton dynasty
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Title: Atlantic Monthly, Volume 7, Issue 42, April, 1861

Author: Various

Release Date: February 18, 2004  [eBook #11155]

Language: English

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***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK ATLANTIC MONTHLY, VOLUME 7, ISSUE
42, APRIL, 1861***


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THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY.

A MAGAZINE OF LITERATURE, ART, AND POLITICS.

VOL. VII.--APRIL, 1861.--NO. XLII.







APRIL DAYS.


  "Can trouble dwell with April days?"

_In Memoriam._


In our methodical New England life, we still recognize some magic in
summer. Most persons reluctantly resign themselves to being decently
happy in June, at least. They accept June. They compliment its weather.
They complained of the earlier months as cold, and so spent them in
the city; and they will complain of the later months as hot, and so
refrigerate themselves on some barren sea-coast. God offers us yearly a
necklace of twelve pearls; most men choose the fairest, label it June,
and cast the rest away. It is time to chant a hymn of more liberal
gratitude.

There are no days in the whole round year more delicious than those
which often come to us in the latter half of April. On these days one
goes forth in the morning, and an Italian warmth broods over all the
hills, taking visible shape in a glistening mist of silvered azure, with
which mingles the smoke from many bonfires. The sun trembles in his
own soft rays, till one understands the old English tradition, that he
dances on Easter-Day. Swimming in a sea of glory, the tops of the hills
look nearer than their bases, and their glistening watercourses seem
close to the eye, as is their liberated murmur to the ear. All across
this broad interval the teams are ploughing. The grass in the meadow
seems all to have grown green since yesterday. The blackbirds jangle
in the oak, the robin is perched upon the elm, the song-sparrow on the
hazel, and the bluebird on the apple-tree. There rises a hawk and sails
slowly, the stateliest of airy things, a floating dream of long and
languid summer-hours. But as yet, though there is warmth enough for a
sense of luxury, there is coolness enough for exertion. No tropics can
offer such a burst of joy; indeed, no zone much warmer than our Northern
States can offer a genuine spring. There can be none where there is no
winter, and the monotone of the seasons is broken only by wearisome
rains. Vegetation and birds being distributed over the year, there is no
burst of verdure nor of song. But with us, as the buds are swelling, the
birds are arriving; they are building their nests almost simultaneously;
and in all the Southern year there is no such rapture of beauty and of
melody as here marks every morning from the last of April onward.

But days even earlier than these in April have a charm,--even days that
seem raw and rainy, when the sky is dull and a bequest of March-wind
lingers, chasing the squirrel from the tree and the children from the
meadows. There is a fascination in walking through these bare early
woods,--there is such a pause of preparation, winter's work is so
cleanly and thoroughly done. Everything is taken down and put away;
throughout the leafy arcades the branches show no remnant of last year,
save a few twisted leaves of oak and beech, a few empty seed-vessels of
the tardy witch-hazel, and a few gnawed nutshells dropped coquettishly
by the squirrels into the crevices of the bark. All else is bare, but
prophetic: buds everywhere, the whole splendor of the coming summer
concentrated in those hard little knobs on every bough; and clinging
here and there among them, a brown, papery chrysalis, from which shall
yet wave the superb wings of the Luna moth. An occasional shower patters
on the dry leaves, but it does not silence the robin on the outskirts of
the wood: indeed, he sings louder than ever, though the song-sparrow and
the bluebird are silent.

Then comes the sweetness of the nights in latter April. There is as yet
no evening-primrose to open suddenly, no cistus to drop its petals;
but the May-flower knows the hour, and becomes more fragrant in the
darkness, so that one can then often find it in the woods without
aid from the eye. The pleasant night-sounds are begun; the hylas are
uttering their shrill _peep_ from the meadows, mingled soon with hoarser
toads, who take to the water at this season to deposit their spawn. The
tree-toads soon join them; but one listens in vain for bullfrogs, or
katydids, or grasshoppers, or whippoorwills, or crickets: we must wait
for them until the delicious June.

The earliest familiar token of the coming season is the expansion of the
stiff catkins of the alder into soft, drooping tresses. These are so
sensitive, that, if you pluck them at almost any time during the winter,
a day's bright sunshine will make them open in a glass of water, and
thus they eagerly yield to every moment of April warmth. The blossom
of the birch is more delicate, that of the willow more showy, but the
alders come first. They cluster and dance everywhere upon the bare
boughs above the watercourses; the blackness of the buds is softened
into rich brown and yellow; and as this graceful creature thus comes
waving into the spring, it is pleasant to remember that the Norse Eddas
fabled the first woman to have been named Embla, because she was created
from an alder-bough.

The first wild-flower of the spring is like land after sea. The two
which, throughout the Northern Atlantic States, divide this interest are
the _Epigaea repens_ (May-flower, ground-laurel, or trailing-arbutus)
and the _Hepatica triloba_ (liverleaf, liverwort, or blue anemone). Of
these two, the latter is perhaps more immediately exciting on first
discovery; because it does not, like the epigaea, exhibit its buds all
winter, but opens its blue eyes almost as soon as it emerges from the
ground. Without the rich and delicious odor of its compeer, it has
an inexpressibly fresh and earthy scent, that seems to bring all the
promise of the blessed season with it; indeed, that clod of fresh turf
with the inhalation of which Lord Bacon delighted to begin the day must
undoubtedly have been full of the roots of our little hepatica. Its
healthy sweetness belongs to the opening year, like Chaucer's poetry;
and one thinks that anything more potent and voluptuous would be less
enchanting,--until one turns to the May-flower. Then comes a richer
fascination for the senses. To pick the May-flower is like following in
the footsteps of some spendthrift army which has scattered the contents
of its treasure-chest among beds of scented moss. The fingers sink in
the soft, moist verdure, and make at each instant some superb discovery
unawares; again and again, straying carelessly, they clutch some new
treasure; and, indeed, all is linked together in bright necklaces by
secret threads beneath the surface, and where you grasp at one, you hold
many. The hands go wandering over the moss as over the keys of a piano,
and bring forth fragrance for melody. The lovely creatures twine and
nestle and lay their glowing faces to the very earth beneath withered
leaves, and what seemed mere barrenness becomes fresh and fragrant
beauty. So great is the charm of the pursuit, that the epigaea is really
the one wild-flower for which our country-people have a hearty passion.
Every village child knows its best haunts, and watches for it eagerly
in the spring; boys wreathe their hats with it, girls twine it in their
hair, and the cottage-windows are filled with its beauty.

In collecting these early flowers, one finds or fancies singular natural
affinities. I flatter myself with being able always to find hepatica, if
there is any within reach, for I was brought up with it ("Cockatoo
he know me berry well"); but other persons, who were brought up
with May-flower, and remember searching for it with their almost
baby-fingers, can find that better. The most remarkable instance
of these natural affinities was in the case of L.T. and his double
anemones. L. had always a gift for wild-flowers, and used often to bring
to Cambridge the largest white anemones that ever were seen, from a
certain special hill in Watertown; they were not only magnificent in
size and whiteness, but had that exquisite blue on the outside of
the petals, as if the sky had bent down in ecstasy at last over its
darlings, and left visible kisses there. But even this success was
not enough, and one day he came with something yet choicer. It was a
rue-leaved anemone (_A. thalictraides_); and, if you will believe it,
each one of the three white flowers was _double,_ not merely with that
multiplicity of petals in the disk which is common with this species,
but technically and horticulturally double, like the double-flowering
almond or cherry,--the most exquisitely delicate little petals, seeming
like lace-work. He had three specimens,--gave one to the Autocrat of
Botany, who said it was almost or quite unexampled, and another to me.
As the man in the fable says of the chameleon,--"I have it yet, and can
produce it."

Now comes the marvel. The next winter L. went to New York for a year,
and wrote to me, as spring drew near, with solemn charge to visit his
favorite haunt and find another specimen. Armed with this letter of
introduction, I sought the spot, and tramped through and through its
leafy corridors. Beautiful wood-anemones I found, to be sure, trembling
on their fragile stems, deserving all their pretty names,--Wind-flower,
Easter-flower, Pasque-flower, and homeopathic Pulsatilla; rue-leaved
anemones I found also, rising taller and straighter and firmer in stem,
with the whorl of leaves a little higher up on the stalk than one
fancies it ought to be, as if there were a supposed danger that the
flowers would lose their balance, and as if the leaves must be all ready
to catch them. These I found, but the special wonder was not there for
me. Then I wrote to L. that he must evidently come himself and search;
or that, perhaps, as Sir Thomas Browne avers that "smoke doth follow the
fairest," so his little treasures had followed him towards New York.
Judge of my surprise, when, on opening his next letter, out dropped,
from those folds of metropolitan paper, a veritable double anemone. He
had just been out to Hoboken, or some such place, to spend an afternoon,
and, of course, his pets were there to meet him; and from that day to
this, I have never heard of the thing happening to any one else.

May-Day is never allowed to pass in this community without profuse
lamentations over the tardiness of our spring as compared with that
of England and the poets. Yet it is very common to exaggerate this
difference. Even so good an observer as Wilson Flagg is betrayed into
saying that the epigaea and hepatica "seldom make their appearance until
after the middle of April" in Massachusetts, and that "it is not unusual
for the whole month of April to pass away without producing more than
two or three species of wild-flowers." But I have formerly found the
hepatica in bloom at Mount Auburn, for three successive years, on the
twenty-seventh of March; and last spring it was actually found, farther
inland, where the season is later, on the seventeenth. The May-flower is
usually as early, though the more gradual expansion of the buds renders
it less easy to give dates. And there are nearly twenty species which I
have noted, for five or six years together, as found before May-Day, and
which may therefore be properly assigned to April. The list includes
bloodroot, cowslip, houstonia, saxifrage, dandelion, chickweed,
cinquefoil, strawberry, mouse-ear, bellwort, dog's-tooth violet, five
species of violet proper, and two of anemone. These are all common
flowers, and easily observed; and the catalogue might be increased by
rare ones, as the white corydalis, the smaller yellow violet, (_V.
rotundifolia_,) and the claytonia or spring-beauty.

But in England the crocus and the snowdrop--neither being probably an
indigenous flower, since neither is mentioned by Chaucer--usually open
before the first of March; indeed, the snowdrop was formerly known by
the yet more fanciful name of "Fair Maid of February." Chaucer's daisy
comes equally early; and March brings daffodils, narcissi, violets,
daisies, jonquils, hyacinths, and marsh-marigolds. This is altogether in
advance of our season, so far as the flowers give evidence,--though we
have plucked snowdrops in February. But, on the other hand, it would
appear, that, though a larger number of birds winter in England than in
Massachusetts, yet the return of those which migrate is actually earlier
among us. From journals kept during sixty years in England, and an
abstract of which is printed in Hone's "Every-Day Book," it appears that
only two birds of passage revisit England before the fifteenth of April,
and only thirteen more before the first of May; while with us the
song-sparrow and the bluebird appear about the first of March, and quite
a number more by the middle of April. This is a peculiarity of the
English spring which I have never seen explained or even mentioned.

After the epigaea and the hepatica have opened, there is a slight pause
among the wild-flowers,--these two forming a distinct prologue for their
annual drama, as the brilliant witch-hazel in October brings up its
separate epilogue. The truth is, Nature attitudinizes a little, liking
to make a neat finish with everything, and then to begin again with
_eclat_. Flowers seem spontaneous things enough, but there is evidently
a secret marshalling among them, that all may be brought out with due
effect. As the country-people say that so long as any snow is left on
the ground more snow may be expected, it must all vanish simultaneously
at last,--so every seeker of spring-flowers has observed how accurately
they seem to move in platoons, with little straggling. Each species
seems to burst upon us with a united impulse; you may search for them
day after day in vain, but the day when you find one specimen the spell
is broken and you find twenty. By the end of April all the margins
of the great poem of the woods are illuminated with these exquisite
vignettes.

Most of the early flowers either come before the full unfolding of their
leaves or else have inconspicuous ones. Yet Nature always provides for
her bouquets the due proportion of green. The verdant and graceful
sprays of the wild raspberry are unfolded very early, long before its
time of flowering. Over the meadows spread the regular Chinese-pagodas
of the equisetum, (horsetail or scouring-rush,) and the rich coarse
vegetation of the veratrum, or American hellebore. In moist copses the
ferns and osmundas begin to uncurl in April, opening their soft coils
of spongy verdure, coated with woolly down, from which the humming-bird
steals the lining of her nest.

The early blossoms represent the aboriginal epoch of our history: the
blood-root and the May-flower are older than the white man, older
perchance than the red man; they alone are the true Native Americans. Of
the later wild plants, many of the most common are foreign importations.
In our sycophancy we attach grandeur to the name _exotic_: we call
aristocratic garden-flowers by that epithet; yet they are no more exotic
than the humbler companions they brought with them, which have become
naturalized. The dandelion, the buttercup, duckweed, celandine, mullein,
burdock, yarrow, whiteweed, nightshade, and most of the thistles,--these
are importations. Miles Standish never crushed these with his heavy heel
as he strode forth to give battle to the savages; they never kissed the
daintier foot of Priscilla, the Puritan maiden. It is noticeable that
these are all of rather coarser texture than our indigenous flowers; the
children instinctively recognize this, and are apt to omit them, when
gathering the more delicate native blossoms of the woods.

There is something touching in the gradual retirement before
civilization of these delicate aborigines. They do not wait for the
actual brute contact of red bricks and curbstones, but they feel the
danger miles away. The Indians called the low plantain "the white man's
footstep"; and these shy creatures gradually disappear, the moment
the red man gets beyond their hearing. Bigelow's delightful "Florula
Bostoniensis" is becoming a series of epitaphs. Too well we know it,--we
who in happy Cambridge childhood often gathered, almost within a stone's
throw of Professor Agassiz's new Museum, the arethusa and the gentian,
the cardinal-flower and the gaudy rhexia,--we who remember the last
secret hiding-place of the rhodora in West Cambridge, of the yellow
violet and the _Viola debilis_ in Watertown, of the _Convallaria
trifolia_ near Fresh Pond, of the _Hottonia_ beyond Wellington's Hill,
of the _Cornus florida_ in West Roxbury, of the _Clintonia_ and the
dwarf ginseng in Brookline,--we who have found in its one chosen nook
the sacred _Andromeda polyfolia_ of Linnaeus. Now vanished almost or
wholly from city-suburbs, these fragile creatures still linger in
more rural parts of Massachusetts; but they are doomed everywhere,
unconsciously, yet irresistibly; while others still more shy, as the
_Linnoea_, the yellow _Cypripedium_, the early pink _Azalea_, and the
delicate white _Corydalis_ or "Dutchman's breeches," are being chased
into the very recesses of the Green and the White Mountains. The relics
of the Indian tribes are supported by the legislature at Martha's
Vineyard, while these precursors of the Indian are dying unfriended
away.

And with these receding plants go also the special insects which haunt
them. Who that knew that pure enthusiast, Dr. Harris, but remembers the
accustomed lamentations of the entomologist over the departure of these
winged companions of his lifetime? Not the benevolent Mr. John Beeson
more tenderly mourns the decay of the Indians than he the exodus of
these more delicate native tribes. In a letter which I happened to
receive from him a short time previous to his death, he thus renewed
the lament:--"I mourn for the loss of many of the beautiful plants
and insects that were once found in this vicinity. _Clethra, Rhodora,
Sanguinaria, Viola debilis, Viola acuta, Dracoena borealis, Rhexia,
Cypripedium, Corallorhiza verna, Orchis spectabilis_, with others of
less note, have been rooted out by the so-called hand of improvement.
_Cicindela rugifrons, Helluo proeusta, Sphoeroderus stenostomus,
Blethisa quadricollis, (Americana mi,) Carabus, Horia_, (which for
several years occurred in profusion on the sands beyond Mount Auburn,)
with others, have entirely disappeared from their former haunts, driven
away, or exterminated perhaps, by the changes effected therein. There
may still remain in your vicinity some sequestered spots, congenial
to these and other rarities, which may reward the botanist and the
entomologist who will search them carefully. Perhaps you may find there
the pretty coccinella-shaped, silver-margined _Omophron_, or the still
rarer _Panagoeus fasciatus_, of which I once took two specimens on
Wellington's Hill, but have not seen it since." Is not this indeed
handling one's specimens "gently as if you loved them," as Isaak Walton
bids the angler do with his worm?

There is this merit, at least, among the coarser crew of imported
flowers, that they bring their own proper names with them, and we know
precisely whom we have to deal with. In speaking of our own native
flowers, we must either be careless and inaccurate, or else resort
sometimes to the Latin, in spite of the indignation of friends. There
is something yet to be said on this point. In England, where the old
household and monkish names adhere, they are sufficient for popular
and poetic purposes, and the familiar use of scientific names seems an
affectation. But here, where many native flowers have no popular names
at all, and others are called confessedly by wrong ones,--where
it really costs less trouble to use Latin names than English, the
affectation seems the other way. Think of the long list of wild-flowers
where the Latin name is spontaneously used by all who speak of
the flower: as, Arethusa, Aster, Cistus, ("after the fall of the
cistus-flower,") Clematis, Clethra, Geranium, Iris, Lobdia, Bhodora,
Spirtea, Tiarella, Trientalis, and so on. Even those formed from proper
names (the worst possible system of nomenclature) become tolerable at
last, and we forget the man in the more attractive flower. Are those
who pick the Houstonia to be supposed thereby to indorse the Texan
President? Or are the deluded damsels who chew Cassia-buds to be
regarded as swallowing the late Secretary of State? The names have long
since been made over to the flowers, and every questionable aroma has
vanished. When the godfather happens to be a botanist, there is a
peculiar fitness in the association; the Linaea, at least, would not
smell so sweet by any other name.

In other cases the English name is a mere modification of the Latin
one, and our ideal associations have really a scientific basis: as with
Violet, Lily, Laurel, Gentian, Vervain. Indeed, our enthusiasm for
vernacular names is like that for Indian names, one-sided: we enumerate
only the graceful ones, and ignore the rest. It would be a pity to
Latinize Touch-me-not, or Yarrow, or Gold-Thread, or Self-Heal, or
Columbine, or Blue-Eyed-Grass,--though, to be sure, this last has an
annoying way of shutting up its azure orbs the moment you gather it, and
you reach home with a bare, stiff blade, which deserves no better
name than _Sisyrinchium anceps._ But in what respect is Cucumber-Root
preferable to Medeola, or Solomon's-Seal to Convallaria, or Rock-Tripe
to Umbilicaria, or Lousewort to Pedicularis? In other cases the merit
is divided: Anemone may dispute the prize of melody with Windflower,
Campanula with Harebell, Neottia with Ladies'-Tresses, Uvularia with
Bellwort and Strawbell, Potentilla with Cinquefoil, and Sanguinaria with
Bloodroot. Hepatica may be bad, but Liverleaf is worse. The pretty name
of May-flower is not so popular, after all, as that of Trailing-Arbutus,
where the graceful and appropriate adjective redeems the substantive,
which happens to be Latin and incorrect at the same time. It does seem a
waste of time to say _Chrysanthemum leucanthemum_ instead of Whiteweed;
though, if the long scientific name were an incantation to banish the
intruder, our farmers would gladly consent to adopt it.

But the great advantage of a reasonable use of the botanical name is,
that it does not deceive us. Our primrose is not the English primrose,
any more than it was our robin who tucked up the babes in the wood;
our cowslip is not the English cowslip, it is the English
marsh-marigold,--Tennyson's "wild marsh-marigold shines like fire in
swamps and hollows gray." The pretty name of Azalea means something
definite; but its rural name of Honeysuckle confounds under that name
flowers without even an external resemblance,--Azalea, Diervilla,
Lonioera, Aquilegia,--just as every bird which sings loud in deep woods
is popularly denominated a thrush. The really rustic names of both
plants and animals are very few with us,--the different species are
many; and as we come to know them better and love them more, we
absolutely require some way to distinguish them from their half-sisters
and second-cousins. It is hopeless to try to create new popular
epithets, or even to revive those which are thoroughly obsolete. Miss
Cooper may strive in vain, with benevolent intent, to christen her
favorite spring-blossoms "May-Wings" and "Gay-Wings," and "Fringe-Cup"
and "Squirrel-Cup," and "Cool-Wort" and "Bead-Ruby"; there is no
conceivable reason why these should not be the familiar appellations,
except the irresistible fact that they are not. It is impossible to
create a popular name: one might as well attempt to invent a legend or
compose a ballad. _Nascitur, non fit_.

As the spring comes on, and the densening outlines of the elm give daily
a new design for a Grecian urn,--its hue, first brown with blossoms,
then emerald with leaves,--we appreciate the vanishing beauty of the
bare boughs. In our favored temperate zone, the trees denude themselves
each year, like the goddesses before Paris, that we may see which
unadorned loveliness is the fairest. Only the unconquerable delicacy of
the beech still keeps its soft vestments about it: far into spring, when
worn to thin rags and tatters, they cling there still; and when they
fall, the new appear as by magic. It must be owned, however, that the
beech has good reasons for this prudishness, and possesses little beauty
of figure; while the elms, maples, chestnuts, walnuts, and even oaks,
have not exhausted all their store of charms for us, until we have seen
them disrobed. Only yonder magnificent pine-tree,--that pitch-pine,
nobler when seen in perfection than white-pine, or Norwegian, or Norfolk
Islander,--that pitch-pine, herself a grove, _una nemus_, holds her
unchanging beauty throughout the year, like her half-brother, the ocean,
whose voice she shares; and only marks the flowing of her annual tide of
life by the new verdure that yearly submerges all trace of last year's
ebb.

How many lessons of faith and beauty we should lose, if there were no
winter in our year! Sometimes, in following up a watercourse among our
hills, in the early spring, one comes to a weird and desolate place,
where one huge wild grapevine has wreathed its ragged arms around a
whole thicket and brought it to the ground,--swarming to the tops of
hemlocks, clenching a dozen young maples at once and tugging them
downward, stretching its wizard black length across the underbrush, into
the earth and out again, wrenching up great stones in its blind, aimless
struggle. What a piece of chaos is this! Yet come here again, two months
hence, and you shall find all this desolation clothed with beauty
and with fragrance, one vast bower of soft green leaves and graceful
tendrils, while summer-birds chirp and flutter amid these sunny arches
all the livelong day. "Out of the strong cometh forth sweetness."

To the end of April, and often later, one still finds remains of
snowbanks in sheltered woods, especially those consisting of evergreen
trees; and this snow, like that upon high mountains, has become hardened
by the repeated thawing and freezing of the surface, till it is more
impenetrable than ice. But the snow that actually falls during April is
usually only what Vermonters call "sugar-snow,"--falling in the night
and just whitening the surface for an hour or two, and taking its name,
not so much from its looks as from the fact that it denotes the
proper weather for "sugaring," namely, cold nights and warm days. Our
saccharine associations, however, remain so obstinately tropical, that
it seems almost impossible for the imagination to locate sugar in New
England trees; though it is known that not the maple only, but the birch
and the walnut even, afford it in appreciable quantities.

Along our maritime rivers the people associate April, not with
"sugaring," but with "shadding." The pretty _Amelanchier Canadensis_ of
Gray--the _Aronia_ of Whittler's song--is called Shad-bush or Shad-blow
in Essex County, from its connection with this season; and there is a
bird known as the Shad-spirit, which I take to be identical with the
flicker or golden-winged woodpecker, whose note is still held to
indicate the first day when the fish ascend the river. Upon such slender
wings flits our New England romance!

In April the creative process described by Thales is repeated, and the
world is renewed by water. The submerged creatures first feel the touch
of spring, and many an equivocal career, beginning in the ponds and
brooks, learns later to ignore this obscure beginning, and hops or
flutters in the dusty daylight. Early in March, before the first male
canker-moth appears on the elm-tree, the whirlwig beetles have begun to
play round the broken edges of the ice, and the caddis-worms to
crawl beneath it; and soon come the water-skater _(Gerris)_ and the
water-boatman _(Notonecta)_. Turtles and newts are in busy motion when
the spring-birds are only just arriving. Those gelatinous masses in
yonder wayside-pond are the spawn of water-newts or tritons: in the
clear transparent jelly are imbedded, at regular intervals, little
blackish dots; these elongate rapidly, and show symptoms of head and
tail curled up in a spherical cell; the jelly is gradually absorbed for
their nourishment, until on some fine morning each elongated dot gives
one vigorous wriggle, and claims thenceforward all the privileges
attendant on this dissolution of the union. The final privilege is often
that of being suddenly snapped up by a turtle or a snake: for Nature
brings forth her creatures liberally, especially the aquatic ones,
sacrifices nine-tenths of them as food for their larger cousins, and
reserves only a handful to propagate their race, on the same profuse
scale, next season.

It is surprising, in the midst of our Museums and Scientific Schools,
how little we yet know of the common things before our eyes. Our
_savans_ still confess their inability to discriminate with certainty
the egg or tadpole of a frog from that of a toad; and it is strange that
these hopping creatures, which seem so unlike, should coincide so nearly
in their juvenile career, while the tritons and salamanders, which
border so closely on each other in their maturer state as sometimes to
be hardly distinguishable, yet choose different methods and different
elements for laying their eggs. The eggs of our salamanders or
land-lizards are deposited beneath the moss on some damp rock, without
any gelatinous envelope; they are but few in number, and the anxious
mamma may sometimes be found coiled in a circle around them, like the
symbolic serpent of eternity.

The small number of birds yet present in early April gives a better
opportunity for careful study,--more especially if one goes armed with
that best of fowling-pieces, a small spy-glass: the best,--since how
valueless for purposes of observation is the bleeding, gasping, dying
body, compared with the fresh and living creature, as it tilts,
trembles, and warbles on the bough before you! Observe that robin in the
oak-tree's top: as he sits and sings, every one of the dozen different
notes which he flings down to you is accompanied by a separate flirt and
flutter of his whole body, and, as Thoreau says of the squirrel, "each
movement seems to imply a spectator," and to imply, further, that the
spectator is looking through a spy-glass. Study that song-sparrow: why
is it that he always goes so ragged in spring, and the bluebird so
neat? is it that the song-sparrow is a wild artist, absorbed in the
composition of his lay, and oblivious of ordinary proprieties, while the
smooth bluebird and his ash-colored mate cultivate their delicate warble
only as a domestic accomplishment, and are always nicely dressed before
sitting down to the piano? Then how exciting is the gradual arrival of
the birds in their summer-plumage! to watch it is as good as sitting at
the window on Easter Sunday to observe the new bonnets. Yonder, in that
clump of alders by the brook, is the delicious jargoning of the first
flock of yellow-birds; there are the little gentlemen in black and
yellow, and the little ladies in olive-brown; "sweet, sweet, sweet" is
the only word they say, and often they will so lower their ceaseless
warble, that, though almost within reach, the little minstrels seem far
away. There is the very earliest cat-bird, mimicking the bobolink before
the bobolink has come: what is the history of his song, then? is it a
reminiscence of last year? or has the little coquette been practising it
all winter, in some gay Southern society, where cat-birds and bobolinks
grow intimate, just as Southern fashionables from different States
may meet and sing duets at Saratoga? There sounds the sweet, low,
long-continued trill of the little hair-bird, or chipping-sparrow, a
suggestion of insect sounds in sultry summer, and produced, like them,
by a slight fluttering of the wings against the sides: by-and-by we
shall sometimes hear that same delicate rhythm burst the silence of the
June midnights, and then, ceasing, make stillness more still. Now watch
that woodpecker, roving in ceaseless search, travelling over fifty trees
in an hour, running from top to bottom of some small sycamore, pecking
at every crevice, pausing to dot a dozen inexplicable holes in a row
upon an apple-tree, but never once intermitting the low, querulous
murmur of housekeeping anxiety: now she stops to hammer with all her
little life at some tough piece of bark, strikes harder and harder
blows, throws herself back at last, flapping her wings furiously as she
brings down her whole strength again upon it; finally it yields, and
grub after grub goes down her throat, till she whets her beak after the
meal as a wild beast licks its claws, and off on her pressing business
once more.

It is no wonder that there is so little substantial enjoyment of Nature
in the community, when we feed children on grammars and dictionaries
only, and take no pains to train them to see that which is before
their eyes. The mass of the community have "summered and wintered" the
universe pretty regularly, one would think, for a good many years; and
yet nine persons out of ten in the town or city, and two out of three
even in the country, seriously suppose, for instance, that the buds upon
trees are formed in the spring; they have had them before their eyes
all winter, and never seen them. As large a proportion suppose, in good
faith, that a plant grows at the base of the stem, instead of at the
top: that is, if they see a young sapling in which there is a crotch
at five feet from the ground, they expect to see it ten feet from the
ground by-and-by,--confounding the growth of a tree with that of a man
or animal. But perhaps the best of us could hardly bear the severe test
unconsciously laid down by a small child of my acquaintance. The boy's
father, a college-bred man, had early chosen the better part, and
employed his fine faculties in rearing laurels in his own beautiful
nursery-gardens, instead of in the more arid soil of court-rooms or
state-houses. Of course the young human scion knew the flowers by name
before he knew his letters, and used their symbols more readily; and
after he got the command of both, he was one day asked by his younger
brother what the word _idiot_ meant,--for somebody in the parlor had
been saying that somebody else was an idiot. "Don't you know?" quoth
Ben, in his sweet voice: "an idiot is a person who doesn't know an
arbor-vitae from a pine,--he doesn't know anything." When Ben grows up
to maturity, bearing such terrible tests in his unshrinking hands, who
of us will be safe?

The softer aspects of Nature, especially, require time and culture
before man can enjoy them. To rude races her processes bring only
terror, which is very slowly outgrown. Humboldt has best exhibited the
scantiness of finer natural perceptions in Greek and Roman literature,
in spite of the grand oceanic anthology of Homer, and the delicate
water-coloring of the Greek Anthology and of Horace. The Oriental and
the Norse sacred books are full of fresh and beautiful allusions; but
the Greek saw in Nature only a framework for Art, and the Roman only
a camping-ground for men. Even Virgil describes the grotto of Aeneas
merely as a "black grove" with "horrid shade,"--"_Horrenti atrum
nemus imminet umbra_." Wordsworth points out, that, even in English
literature, the "Windsor Forest" of Anne, Countess of Winchelsea, was
the first poem which represented Nature as a thing to be consciously
enjoyed; and as she was almost the first English poetess, we might be
tempted to think that we owe this appreciation, like some other good
things, to the participation of woman in literature. But, on the other
hand, it must be remembered that the voluminous Duchess of Newcastle, in
her "Ode on Melancholy," describes among the symbols of hopeless gloom
"the still moonshine night" and "a mill where rushing waters run
about,"--the sweetest natural images. So woman has not so much to claim,
after all. In our own country, the early explorers seemed to find only
horror in its woods and waterfalls. Josselyn, in 1672, could only
describe the summer splendor of the White Mountain region as "dauntingly
terrible, being full of rocky hills, as thick as mole-hills in a meadow,
and full of infinite thick woods." Father Hennepin spoke of Niagara,
in the narrative still quoted in the guide-books, as a "frightful
cataract"; though perhaps his original French phrase was softer. And
even John Adams could find no better name than "horrid chasm" for the
gulf at Egg Rock, where he first saw the sea-anemone.

But we are lingering too long, perhaps, with this sweet April of smiles
and tears. It needs only to add that all her traditions are beautiful.
Ovid says well, that she was not named from _aperire_, to open, as some
have thought, but from _Aphrodite_, goddess of beauty. April holds
Easter-time, St. George's Day, and the Eve of St. Mark's. She has not,
like her sister May in Germany, been transformed to a verb and made a
synonyme for joy,--"_Deine Seele maiet den trueben Herbst_"--but April
was believed in early ages to have been the birth-time of the world.
According to Venerable Bede, the point was first accurately determined
at a council held at Jerusalem about A.D. 200, when, after much profound
discussion, it was finally decided that the world's birthday occurred on
Sunday, April eighth,--that is, at the vernal equinox and the full moon.
But April is certainly the birth-time of the year, at least, if not of
the planet. Its festivals are older than Christianity, older than the
memory of man. No sad associations cling to it, as to the month of June,
in which month, says William of Malmesbury, kings are wont to go to
war,--"_Quando solent reges ad arma procedere_,"--but it holds the Holy
Week, and it is the Holy Month. And in April Shakspeare was born, and in
April he died.




THE PROFESSOR'S STORY.


CHAPTER XXIX.

THE WHITE ASH.


When Helen returned to Elsie's bedside, it was with a new and still
deeper feeling of sympathy, such as the story told by Old Sophy might
well awaken. She understood, as never before, the singular fascination
and as singular repulsion which she had long felt in Elsie's presence.
It had not been without a great effort that she had forced herself to
become the almost constant attendant of the sick girl; and now she was
learning, but not for the first time, the blessed truth which so many
good women have found out for themselves, that the hardest duty bravely
performed soon becomes a habit, and tends in due time to transform
itself into a pleasure.

The old Doctor was beginning to look graver, in spite of himself. The
fever, if such it was, went gently forward, wasting the young girl's
powers of resistance from day to day; yet she showed no disposition
to take nourishment, and seemed literally to be living on air. It was
remarkable that with all this her look was almost natural, and her
features were hardly sharpened so as to suggest that her life was
burning away. He did not like this, nor various other unobtrusive signs
of danger which his practised eye detected. A very small matter might
turn the balance which held life and death poised against each other.
He surrounded her with precautions, that Nature might have every
opportunity of cunningly shifting the weights from the scale of death
to the scale of life, as she will often do, if not rudely disturbed or
interfered with.

Little tokens of good-will and kind remembrance were constantly coming
to her from the girls in the school and the good people in the village.
Some of the mansion-house people obtained rare flowers which they sent
her, and her table was covered with fruits--which tempted her in vain.
Several of the school-girls wished to make her a basket of their own
handiwork, and, filling it with autumnal flowers, to send it as a joint
offering. Mr. Bernard found out their project accidentally, and, wishing
to have his share in it, brought home from one of his long walks some
boughs full of variously tinted leaves, such as were still clinging
to the stricken trees. With these he brought also some of the already
fallen leaflets of the white ash, remarkable for their rich olive-purple
color, forming a beautiful contrast with some of the lighter-hued
leaves. It so happened that this particular tree, the white ash, did not
grow upon The Mountain, and the leaflets were more welcome for their
comparative rarity. So the girls made their basket, and the floor of it
they covered with the rich olive-purple leaflets. Such late flowers as
they could lay their hands upon served to fill it, and with many kindly
messages they sent it to Miss Elsie Venner at the Dudley mansion-house.

Elsie was sitting up in her bed when it came, languid, but tranquil, and
Helen was by her, as usual, holding her hand, which was strangely cold,
Helen thought, for one who--was said to have some kind of fever. The
school-girls' basket was brought in with its messages of love and hopes
for speedy recovery. Old Sophy was delighted to see that it pleased
Elsie, and laid it on the bed before her. Elsie began looking at the
flowers and taking them from the basket, that she might see the leaves.
All at once she appeared to be agitated; she looked at the basket,--then
around, as if there were some fearful presence about her which she was
searching for with her eager glances. She took out the flowers, one
by one, her breathing growing hurried, her eyes staring, her hands
trembling,--till, as she came near the bottom of the basket, she flung
out all the rest with a hasty movement, looked upon the olive-purple
leaflets as if paralyzed for a moment, shrunk up, as it were, into
herself in a curdling terror, dashed the basket from her, and fell back
senseless, with a faint cry which chilled the blood of the startled
listeners at her bedside.

"Take it away!--take it away!--quick!" said Old Sophy, as she hastened
to her mistress's pillow. "It's the leaves of the tree that was always
death to her,--take it away! She can't live wi' it in the room!"

The poor old woman began chafing Elsie's hands, and Helen to try to
rouse her with hartshorn, while a third frightened attendant gathered up
the flowers and the basket and carried them out of the apartment. She
came to herself after a time, but exhausted and then wandering. In her
delirium, she talked constantly as if she were in a cave, with such
exactness of circumstance that Helen could not doubt at all that she had
some such retreat among the rocks of The Mountain, probably fitted up in
her own fantastic way, where she sometimes hid herself from all human
eyes, and of the entrance to which she alone possessed the secret.

All this passed away, and left her, of course, weaker than before. But
this was not the only influence the unexplained paroxysm had left behind
it. From this time forward there was a change in her whole expression
and her manner. The shadows ceased flitting over her features, and the
old woman, who watched her from day to day and from hour to hour as a
mother watches her child, saw the likeness she bore to her mother coming
forth more and more, as the cold glitter died out of the diamond eyes,
and the scowl disappeared from the dark brows and low forehead.

With all the kindness and indulgence her father had bestowed upon her,
Elsie had never felt that he loved her. The reader knows well enough
what fatal recollections and associations had frozen up the springs of
natural affection in his breast. There was nothing in the world he would
not do for Elsie. He had sacrificed his whole life to her. His very
seeming carelessness about restraining her was all calculated; he knew
that restraint would produce nothing but utter alienation. Just so
far as she allowed him, he shared her studies, her few pleasures, her
thoughts; but she was essentially solitary and uncommunicative. No
person, as was said long ago, could judge him,--because his task was not
merely difficult, but simply impracticable to human powers. A nature
like Elsie's had necessarily to be studied by itself, and to be followed
in its laws where it could not be led.

Every day, at different hours, during the whole of his daughter's
illness, Dudley Venner had sat by her, doing all he could to soothe and
please her: always the same thin film of some emotional non-conductor
between them; always that kind of habitual regard and family-interest,
mingled with the deepest pity on one side and a sort of respect on the
other, which never warmed into outward evidences of affection.

It was after this occasion, when she had been so profoundly agitated
by a seemingly insignificant cause, that her father and Old Sophy were
sitting, one at one side of her bed and one at the other. She had fallen
into a light slumber. As they were looking at her, the same thought came
into both their minds at the same moment. Old Sophy spoke for both, as
she said, in a low voice,--

"It's her mother's look,--it's her mother's own face right over
again,--she never look' so before,--the Lord's hand is on her! His will
be done!"

When Elsie woke and lifted her languid eyes upon her father's face, she
saw in it a tenderness, a depth of affection, such as she remembered
at rare moments of her childhood, when she had won him to her by some
unusual gleam of sunshine in her fitful temper.

"Elsie, dear," he said, "we were thinking how much your expression was
sometimes like that of your sweet mother. If you could but have seen
her, so as to remember her!"

The tender look and tone, the yearning of the daughter's heart for the
mother she had never seen, save only with the unfixed, undistinguishing
eyes of earliest infancy, perhaps the under-thought that she might soon
rejoin her in another state of being,--all came upon her with a sudden
overflow of feeling which broke through all the barriers between her
heart and her eyes, and Elsie wept. It seemed to her father as if the
malign influence,--evil spirit it might almost be called,--which had
pervaded her being, had at last been driven forth or exorcised, and that
these tears were at once the sign and the pledge of her redeemed nature.
But now she was to be soothed, and not excited. After her tears she
slept again, and the look her face wore was peaceful as never before.

Old Sophy met the Doctor at the door and told him all the circumstances
connected with the extraordinary attack from which Elsie had suffered.
It was the purple leaves, she said. She remembered that Dick once
brought home a branch of a tree with some of the same leaves on it, and
Elsie screamed and almost fainted then. She, Sophy, had asked her, after
she had got quiet, what it was in the leaves that made her feel so bad.
Elsie couldn't tell her,--didn't like to speak about it,--shuddered
whenever Sophy mentioned it.

This did not sound so strangely to the old Doctor as it does to some
who listen to this narrative. He had known some curious examples of
antipathies, and remembered reading of others still more singular.
He had known those who could not bear the presence of a cat, and
recollected the story, often told, of a person's hiding one in a chest
when one of these sensitive individuals came into the room, so as not to
disturb him; but he presently began to sweat and turn pale, and cried
out that there must be a cat hid somewhere. He knew people who were
poisoned by strawberries, by honey, by different meats,--many who could
not endure cheese,--some who could not bear the smell of roses. If he
had known all the stories in the old books, he would have found that
some have swooned and become as dead men at the smell of a rose,--that
a stout soldier has been known to turn and run at the sight or smell of
rue,--that cassia and even olive-oil have produced deadly faintings in
certain individuals,--in short, that almost everything has seemed to be
a poison to somebody.

"Bring me that basket, Sophy," said the old Doctor, "if you can find
it."

Sophy brought it to him,--for he had not yet entered Elsie's apartment.

"These purple leaves are from the white ash," he said. "You don't know
the notion that people commonly have about that tree, Sophy?"

"I know they say the Ugly Things never go where the white ash grows,"
Sophy answered. "Oh, Doctor dear, what I'm thinkin' of a'n't true, is
it?"

The Doctor smiled sadly, but did not answer. He went directly to Elsie's
room. Nobody would have known by his manner that he saw any special
change in his patient. He spoke with her as usual, made some slight
alteration in his prescriptions, and left the room with a kind, cheerful
look. He met her father on the stairs.

"Is it as I thought?" said Dudley Venner.

"There is everything to fear," the Doctor said, "and not much, I am
afraid, to hope. Does not her face recall to you one that you remember,
as never before?"

"Yes," her father answered,--"oh, yes! What is the meaning of this
change which has come over her features, and her voice, her temper, her
whole being? Tell me, oh, tell me, what is it? Can it be that the curse
is passing away, and my daughter is to be restored to me,--such as her
mother would have had her,--such as her mother was?"

"Walk out with me into the garden," the Doctor said, "and I will tell
you all I know and all I think about this great mystery of Elsie's
life."

They walked out together, and the Doctor began:--

"She has lived a twofold being, as it were,--the consequence of the
blight which fell upon her in the dim period before consciousness. You
can see what she might have been but for this. You know that for these
eighteen years her whole existence has taken its character from that
influence which we need not name. But you will remember that few of the
lower forms of life last as human beings do; and thus it might have been
hoped and trusted with some show of reason, as I have always suspected
you hoped and trusted, perhaps more confidently than myself, that the
lower nature which had become ingrafted on the higher would die out and
leave the real woman's life she inherited to outlive this accidental
principle which had so poisoned her childhood and youth. I believe it
is so dying out; but I am afraid,--yes, I must say it, I fear it has
involved the centres of life in its own decay. There is hardly any pulse
at Elsie's wrist; no stimulants seem to rouse her; and it looks as if
life were slowly retreating inwards, so that by-and-by she will sleep as
those who lie down in the cold and never wake."

Strange as it may seem, her father heard all this not without deep
sorrow, and such marks of it as his thoughtful and tranquil nature, long
schooled by suffering, claimed or permitted, but with a resignation
itself the measure of his past trials. Dear as his daughter might become
to him, all he dared to ask of Heaven was that she might be restored to
that truer self which lay beneath her false and adventitious being. If
he could once see that the icy lustre in her eyes had become a soft,
calm light,--that her soul was at peace with all about her and with Him
above,--this crumb from the children's table was enough for him, as it
was for the Syro-Phoenician woman who asked that the dark spirit might
go out from her daughter.

There was little change the next day, until all at once she said in a
clear voice that she should like to see her master at the school,
Mr. Langdon. He came accordingly, and took the place of Helen at her
bedside. It seemed as if Elsie had forgotten the last scene with him.
Might it be that pride had come in, and she had sent for him only to
show how superior she had grown to the weakness which had betrayed her
into that extraordinary request, so contrary to the instincts and usages
of her sex? Or was it that the singular change which had come over her
had involved her passionate fancy for him and swept it away with her
other habits of thought and feeling? Or perhaps, rather, that she felt
that all earthly interests were becoming of little account to her, and
wished to place herself right with one to whom she had displayed a
wayward movement of her unbalanced imagination? She welcomed Mr.
Bernard as quietly as she had received Helen Darley. He colored at the
recollection of that last scene, when he came into her presence; but
she smiled with perfect tranquillity. She did not speak to him of any
apprehension; but he saw that she looked upon herself as doomed. So
friendly, yet so calm did she seem through all their interview, that Mr.
Bernard could only look back upon her manifestation of feeling towards
him on their walk from the school as a vagary of a mind laboring
under some unnatural excitement, and wholly at variance with the true
character of Elsie Venner, as he saw her before him in her subdued,
yet singular beauty. He looked with almost scientific closeness of
observation into the diamond eyes; but that peculiar light which he knew
so well was not there. She was the same in one sense as on that first
day when he had seen her coiling and uncoiling her golden chain, yet how
different in every aspect which revealed her state of mind and emotion!
Something of tenderness there was, perhaps, in her tone towards him;
she would not have sent for him, had she not felt more than an ordinary
interest in him. But through the whole of his visit she never lost her
gracious self-possession. The Dudley race might well be proud of the
last of its daughters, as she lay dying, but unconquered by the feeling
of the present or the fear of the future.

As for Mr. Bernard, he found it very hard to look upon her and listen to
her unmoved. There was nothing that reminded him of the stormy-browed,
almost savage girl he remembered in her fierce loveliness,--nothing of
all her singularities of air and of costume. Nothing? Yes, one thing.
Weak and suffering as she was, she had never parted with one particular
ornament, such as a sick person would naturally, as it might be
supposed, get rid of at once. The golden cord which she wore round her
neck at the great party was still there. A bracelet was lying by her
pillow; she had unclasped it from her wrist.

Before Mr. Bernard left her, she said,--"I shall never see you again.
Some time or other, perhaps, you will mention my name to one whom you
love. Give her this from your scholar and friend Elsie."

He took the bracelet, raised her hand to his lips, then turned his face
away; in that moment he was the weaker of the two.

"Good-bye," she said; "thank you for coming."

His voice died away in his throat, as he tried to answer her. She
followed him with her eyes as he passed from her sight through the door,
and when it closed after him sobbed tremulously once or twice,--but
stilled herself, and met Helen, as she entered, with a composed
countenance.

"I have had a very pleasant visit from Mr. Langdon," Elsie said. "Sit
by me, Helen, awhile without speaking; I should like to sleep, if I
can,--and to dream."


CHAPTER XXX.

THE GOLDEN CORD IS LOOSED.


The Reverend Chauncy Fairweather, hearing that his parishioner's
daughter, Elsie, was very ill, could do nothing less than come to the
mansion-house and tender such consolations as he was master of. It was
rather remarkable that the old Doctor did not exactly approve of his
visit. He thought that company of every sort might be injurious in her
weak state. He was of opinion that Mr. Fairweather, though greatly
interested in religious matters, was not the most sympathetic person
that could be found; in fact, the old Doctor thought he was too much
taken up with his own interests for eternity to give himself quite so
heartily to the need of other people as some persons got up on a rather
more generous scale (our good neighbor Dr. Honeywood, for instance)
could do. However, all these things had better be arranged to suit her
wants; if she would like to talk with a clergyman, she had a great
deal better see one as often as she liked, and run the risk of the
excitement, than have a hidden wish for such a visit and perhaps find
herself too weak to see him by-and-by.

The old Doctor knew by sad experience that dreadful mistake against
which all medical practitioners should be warned. His experience may
well be a guide for others. Do not overlook the desire for spiritual
advice and consolation which patients sometimes feel, and, with the
frightful _mauvaise honte_ peculiar to Protestantism, alone among all
human beliefs, are ashamed to tell. As a part of medical treatment, it
is the physician's business to detect the hidden longing for the food of
the soul, as much as for any form of bodily nourishment. Especially in
the higher walks of society, where this unutterably miserable false
shame of Protestantism acts in proportion to the general acuteness of
the cultivated sensibilities, let no unwillingness to suggest the sick
person's real need suffer him to languish between his want and his
morbid sensitiveness. What an infinite advantage the Mussulmans and the
Catholics have over many of our more exclusively spiritual sects in the
way they keep their religion always by them and never blush for it! And
besides this spiritual longing, we should never forget that

  "On some fond breast the parting soul relies,"

and the minister of religion, in addition to the sympathetic nature
which we have a right to demand in him, has trained himself to the art
of entering into the feelings of others.

The reader must pardon this digression, which introduces the visit of
the Reverend Chauncy Fairweather to Elsie Venner. It was mentioned
to her that he would like to call and see how she was, and she
consented,--not with much apparent interest, for she had reasons of her
own for not feeling any very deep conviction of his sympathy for persons
in sorrow. But he came, and worked the conversation round to religion,
and confused her with his hybrid notions, half made up of what he had
been believing and teaching all his life, and half of the new doctrines
which he had veneered upon the surface of his old belief. He got so
far as to make a prayer with her,--a cool, well-guarded prayer, which
compromised his faith as little as possible, and which, if devotion were
a game played against Providence, might have been considered a cautious
and sagacious move.

When he had gone, Elsie called Old Sophy to her.

"Sophy," she said, "don't let them send that cold-hearted man to me any
more. If your old minister comes to see you, I should like to hear him
talk. He looks as if he cared for everybody, and would care for me. And,
Sophy, if I should die one of these days, I should like to have that old
minister come and say whatever is to be said over me. It would comfort
Dudley more, I know, than to have that hard man here, when you're in
trouble: for some of you will be sorry when I'm gone,--won't you,
Sophy?"

The poor old black woman could not stand this question. The cold
minister had frozen Elsie until she felt as if nobody cared for her or
would regret her,--and her question had betrayed this momentary feeling.

"Don' talk so! don' talk so, darlin'!" she cried, passionately. "When
you go, Ol' Sophy'll go; 'n' where you go, Ol' Sophy'll go: 'n' we'll
both go t' th' place where th' Lord takes care of all his children,
whether their faces are white or black. Oh, darlin', darlin'! if th'
Lord should let me die fus', you shall fin' all ready for you when you
come after me. On'y don' go 'n' leave poor Ol' Sophy all 'lone in th'
world!"

Helen came in at this moment and quieted the old woman with a look. Such
scenes were just what were most dangerous, in the state in which Elsie
was lying: but that is one of the ways in which an affectionate friend
sometimes unconsciously wears out the life which a hired nurse, thinking
of nothing but her regular duties and her wages, would have spared from
all emotional fatigue.

The change which had come over Elsie's disposition was itself the cause
of new excitements. How was it possible that her father could keep away
from her, now that she was coming back to the nature and the very look
of her mother, the bride of his youth? How was it possible to refuse
her, when she said to Old Sophy that she should like to have her
minister come in and sit by her, even though his presence might perhaps
prove a new source of excitement?

But the Reverend Doctor did come and sit by her, and spoke such soothing
words to her, words of such peace and consolation, that from that hour
she was tranquil as never before. All true hearts are alike in the
hour of need; the Catholic has a reserved fund of faith for his
fellow-creature's trying moment, and the Calvinist reread those springs
of human brotherhood and chanty in his soul which are only covered over
by the iron tables inscribed with the harder dogmas of his creed. It was
enough that the Reverend Doctor knew all Elsie's history. He could not
judge her by any formula, like those which have been moulded by past
ages out of their ignorance. He did not talk with her as if she were an
outside sinner, worse than himself. He found a bruised and languishing
soul, and bound up its wounds. A blessed office,--one which is confined
to no sect or creed, but which good men in all times, under various
names and with varying ministries, to suit the need of each age, of each
race, of each individual soul, have come forward to discharge for their
suffering fellow-creatures.

After this there was little change in Elsie, except that her heart beat
more feebly every day,--so that the old Doctor himself, with all his
experience, could see nothing to account for the gradual failing of the
powers of life, and yet could find no remedy which seemed to arrest its
progress in the smallest degree.

"Be very careful," he said, "that she is not allowed to make any
muscular exertion. Any such effort, when a person is so enfeebled, may
stop the heart in a moment; and if it stops, it will never move again."

Helen enforced this rule with the greatest care. Elsie was hardly
allowed to move her hand or to speak above a whisper. It seemed to be
mainly the question now, whether this trembling flame of life would be
blown out by some light breath of air, or whether it could be so nursed
and sheltered by the hollow of these watchful hands that it would have a
chance to kindle to its natural brightness.

--Her father came in to sit with her in the evening. He had never talked
so freely with her as during the hour he had passed at her bedside,
telling her little circumstances of her mother's life, living over with
her all that was pleasant in the past, and trying to encourage her with
some cheerful gleams of hope for the future. A faint smile played over
her face, but she did not answer his encouraging suggestions. The hour
came for him to leave her with those who watched by her.

"Good-night, my dear child," he said, and, stooping down, kissed her
cheek.

Elsie rose by a sudden effort, threw her arms round his neck, kissed
him, and said, "Good-night, my dear father!"

The suddenness of her movement had taken him by surprise, or he would
have checked so dangerous an effort. It was too late now. Her arms
slid away from him like lifeless weights,--her head fell back upon her
pillow,--a long sigh breathed through her lips.

"She is faint," said Helen, doubtfully; "bring me the hartshorn, Sophy."

The old woman had started from her place, and was now leaning over her,
looking in her face, and listening for the sound of her breathing.

"She's dead! Elsie's dead! My darlin' 's dead!" she cried aloud, filling
the room with her utterance of anguish.

Dudley Venner drew her away and silenced her with a voice of authority,
while Helen and an assistant plied their restoratives. It was all in
vain.

The solemn tidings passed from the chamber of death through the family.
The daughter, the hope of that old and honored house, was dead in the
freshness of her youth, and the home of its solitary representative was
hereafter doubly desolate.

A messenger rode hastily out of the avenue. A little after this the
people of the village and the outlying farm-houses were startled by the
sound of a bell.

One,--two,--three,--four,--

They stopped in every house, as far as the wavering vibrations reached,
and listened--

--five,--six,--seven,--

It was not the little child which had been lying so long at the point of
death; that could not be more than three or four years old--

--eight,--nine,--ten,--and so on to
fifteen,--sixteen,--seventeen,--eighteen----

The pulsations seemed to keep on,--but it was the brain, and not the
bell, that was throbbing now.

"Elsie's dead!" was the exclamation at a hundred firesides.

"Eighteen year old," said old Widow Peake, rising from her chair.
"Eighteen year ago I laid two gold eagles on her mother's eyes,--he
wouldn't have anything but gold touch her eyelids,--and now Elsie's to
be straightened,--the Lord have mercy on her poor sinful soul!"

Dudley Venner prayed that night that he might be forgiven, if he had
failed in any act of duty or kindness to this unfortunate child of his,
now freed from all the woes born with her and so long poisoning her
soul. He thanked God for the brief interval of peace which had been
granted her, for the sweet communion they had enjoyed in these last
days, and for the hope of meeting her with that other lost friend in a
better world.

Helen mingled a few broken thanks and petitions with her tears: thanks
that she had been permitted to share the last days and hours of this
poor sister in sorrow; petitions that the grief of bereavement might be
lightened to the lonely parent and the faithful old servant.

Old Sophy said almost nothing, but sat day and night by her dead
darling. But sometimes her anguish would find an outlet in strange
sounds, something between a cry and a musical note,--such as none had
ever heard her utter before. These were old remembrances surging up from
her childish days,--coming through her mother from the cannibal chief,
her grandfather,--death-wails, such as they sing in the mountains of
Western Africa, when they see the fires on distant hill-sides and know
that their own wives and children are undergoing the fate of captives.

The time came when Elsie was to be laid by her mother in the small
square marked by the white stone.

It was not unwillingly that the Reverend Chauncy Fairweather had
relinquished the duty of conducting the service to the Reverend Doctor
Honeywood, in accordance with Elsie's request. He could not, by any
reasoning, reconcile his present way of thinking with a hope for the
future of his unfortunate parishioner. Any good old Roman Catholic
priest, born and bred to his faith and his business, would have found a
loop-hole into some kind of heaven for her, by virtue of his doctrine of
"invincible ignorance," or other special proviso; but a recent convert
cannot enter into the working conditions of his new creed. Beliefs must
be lived in for a good while, before they accommodate themselves to the
soul's wants, and wear loose enough to be comfortable.

The Reverend Doctor had no such scruples. Like thousands of those who
are classed nominally with the despairing believers, he had never prayed
over a departed brother or sister without feeling and expressing a
guarded hope that there was mercy in store for the poor sinner, whom
parents, wives, children, brothers and sisters could not bear to give up
to utter ruin without a word,--and would not, as he knew full well,
in virtue of that human love and sympathy which nothing can ever
extinguish. And in this poor Elsie's history he could read nothing
which the tears of the recording angel might not wash away. As the good
physician of the place knew the diseases that assailed the bodies of men
and women, so he had learned the mysteries of the sickness of the soul.

So many wished to look upon Elsie's face once more, that her father
would not deny them; nay, he was pleased that those who remembered her
living should see her in the still beauty of death. Helen and those with
her arrayed her for this farewell-view. All was ready for the sad or
curious eyes which were to look upon her. There was no painful change to
be concealed by any artifice. Even her round neck was left uncovered,
that she might be more like one who slept. Only the golden cord was left
in its place: some searching eye might detect a trace of that birth-mark
which it was whispered she had always worn a necklace to conceal.

At the last moment, when all the preparations were completed, Old Sophy
stooped over her, and, with trembling hand, loosed the golden cord. She
looked intently, for some little space: there was no shade nor blemish
where the ring of gold had encircled her throat. She took it gently away
and laid it in the casket which held her ornaments.

"The Lord be praised!" the old woman cried, aloud. "He has taken away
the mark that was on her; she's fit to meet his holy angels now!"

So Elsie lay for hours in the great room, in a kind of state, with
flowers all about her,--her black hair braided, as in life,--her
brows smooth, as if they had never known the scowl of passion,--and
on her lips the faint smile with which she had uttered her last
"Good-night." The young girls from the school looked at her, one after
another, and passed on, sobbing, carrying in their hearts the picture
that would be with them all their days. The great people of the place
were all there with their silent sympathy. The lesser kind of gentry,
and many of the plainer folk of the village, half-pleased to find
themselves passing beneath the stately portico of the ancient
mansion-house, crowded in, until the ample rooms were overflowing. All
the friends whose acquaintance we have made were there, and many from
remoter villages and towns.

There was a deep silence at last. The hour had come for the parting
words to be spoken over the dead. The good old minister's voice rose out
of the stillness, subdued and tremulous at first, but growing firmer and
clearer as he went on, until it reached the ears of the visitors who
were in the far, desolate chambers, looking at the pictured hangings and
the old dusty portraits. He did not tell her story in his prayer. He
only spoke of our dear departed sister as one of many whom Providence in
its wisdom has seen fit to bring under bondage from their cradles. It
was not for us to judge them by any standard of our own. He who made the
heart alone knew the infirmities it inherited or acquired. For all that
our dear sister had presented that was interesting and attractive in her
character we were to be grateful; for whatever was dark or inexplicable
we must trust that the deep shadow which rested on the twilight dawn of
her being might render a reason before the bar of Omniscience; for the
grace which had lightened her last days we should pour out our hearts in
thankful acknowledgment. From the life and the death of this our dear
sister we should learn a lesson of patience with our fellow-creatures in
their inborn peculiarities, of charity in judging what seem to us wilful
faults of character, of hope and trust, that, by sickness or affliction,
or such inevitable discipline as life must always bring with it, if by
no gentler means, the soul which had been left by Nature to wander into
the path of error and of suffering might be reclaimed and restored to
its true aim, and so led on by divine grace to its eternal welfare. He
closed his prayer by commending each member of the afflicted family to
the divine blessing.

Then all at once rose the clear sound of the girls' voices, in the
sweet, sad melody of a funeral hymn,--one of those which Elsie had
marked, as if prophetically, among her own favorites.

And so they laid her in the earth, and showered down flowers upon her,
and filled her grave, and covered it with green sods. By the side of it
was another oblong ridge, with a white stone standing at its head. Mr.
Bernard looked upon it, as he came close to the place where Elsie was
laid, and read the inscription,--

  CATALINA

  WIFE TO DUDLEY VENNER

  DIED

  OCTOBER 13TH 1840

  AGED XX YEARS.

A gentle rain fell on the turf after it was laid. This was the beginning
of a long and dreary autumnal storm, a deferred "equinoctial," as many
considered it. The mountain-streams were all swollen and turbulent, and
the steep declivities were furrowed in every direction by new channels.
It made the house seem doubly desolate to hear the wind howling and the
rain beating upon the roofs. The poor relation who was staying at the
house would insist on Helen's remaining a few days: Old Sophy was in
such a condition, that it kept her in continual anxiety and there were
many cares which Helen could take off from her.

The old black woman's life was buried in her darling's grave. She did
nothing but moan and lament for her. At night she was restless, and
would get up and wander to Elsie's apartment and look for her and call
her by name. At other times she would lie awake and listen to the wind
and the rain,--sometimes with such a wild look upon her face, and with
such sudden starts and exclamations, that it seemed, as if she heard
spirit-voices and were answering the whispers of unseen visitants. With
all this were mingled hints of her old superstition,--forebodings of
something fearful about to happen,--perhaps the great final catastrophe
of all things, according to the prediction current in the kitchens of
Rockland.

"Hark!" Old Sophy would say,--"don' you hear th' crackin' 'n' th'
snappin' up in 'Th' Mountain, 'n' th' rollin' o' th' big stones? The' 's
somethin' stirrin' among th' rocks; I hear th' soun' of it in th' night,
when th' wind has stopped blowin'. Oh, stay by me a little while, Miss
Darlin'! stay by me! for it's th' Las' Day, may be, that's close on us,
'n' I feel as if I couldn' meet th' Lord all alone!"

It was curious,--but Helen did certainly recognize sounds, during the
lull of the storm, which were not of falling rain or running streams,
--short snapping sounds, as of tense cords breaking,--long uneven
sounds, as of masses rolling down steep declivities. But the morning
came as usual; and as the others said nothing of these singular noises,
Helen did not think it necessary to speak of them. All day long she
and the humble relative of Elsie's mother, who had appeared, as poor
relations are wont to in the great crises of life, were busy in
arranging the disordered house, and looking over the various objects
which Elsie's singular tastes had brought together, to dispose of them
as her father might direct. They all met together at the usual hour for
tea. One of the servants came in, looking very blank, and said to the
poor relation,--

"The well is gone dry; we have nothing but rain-water."

Dudley Venner's countenance changed; he sprang to his feet and went to
assure himself of the fact, and, if he could, of the reason of it. For
a well to dry up during such a rain-storm was extraordinary,--it was
ominous.

He came back, looking very anxious.

"Did any of you notice any remarkable sounds last night," he said,--
"or this morning? Hark! do you hear anything now?"

They listened in perfect silence for a few moments. Then there came a
short cracking sound, and two or three snaps, as of parting cords.

Dudley Venner called all his household together.

"We are in danger here, as I think, to-night," he said,--"not very
great danger, perhaps, but it is a risk I do not wish you to run. These
heavy rains have loosed some of the rocks above, and they may come down
and endanger the house. Harness the horses, Elbridge, and take all the
family away. Miss Darley will go to the Institute; the others will pass
the night at the Mountain House. I shall stay here, myself: it is not
at all likely that anything will come of these warnings; but if there
should, I choose to be here and take my chance."

It needs little, generally, to frighten servants, and they were all
ready enough to go. The poor relation was one of the timid sort, and was
terribly uneasy to be got out of the house. This left no alternative, of
course, for Helen, but to go also. They all urged upon Dudley Venner to
go with them: if there was danger, why should he remain to risk it, when
he sent away the others?

Old Sophy said nothing until the time came for her to go with the second
of Elbridge's carriage-loads.

"Come, Sophy," said Dudley Venner, "get your things and go. They will
take good care of you at the Mountain House; and when we have made sure
that there is no real danger, you shall come back at once."

"No, Massa!" Sophy answered. "I've seen Elsie into th' ground, 'n' I
a'n't goin' away to come back 'n' fin' Massa Venner buried under th'
rocks. My darlin' 's gone; 'n' now, if Massa goes, 'n' th' ol' place
goes, it's time for Ol' Sophy to go, too. No, Massa Venner, we'll both
stay in th' ol' mansion 'n' wait for th' Lord!"

Nothing could change the old woman's determination; and her master, who
only feared, but did not really expect the long-deferred catastrophe,
was obliged to consent to her staying. The sudden drying of the well at
such a time was the most alarming sign; for he remembered that the same
thing had been observed just before great mountain-slides. This long
rain, too, was just the kind of cause which was likely to loosen the
strata of rock piled up in the ledges; if the dreaded event should ever
come to pass, it would be at such a time.

He paced his chamber uneasily until long past midnight. If the morning
came without accident, he meant to have a careful examination made of
all the rents and fissures above, of their direction and extent, and
especially whether, in case of a mountain-slide, the huge masses would
be like to reach so far to the east and so low down the declivity as the
mansion.

At two o'clock in the morning he was dozing in his chair. Old Sophy had
lain down on her bed, and was muttering in troubled dreams.

All at once a loud crash seemed to rend the very heavens above them: a
crack as of the thunder that follows close upon the bolt,--a rending and
crushing as of a forest snapped through all its stems, torn, twisted,
splintered, dragged with all its ragged boughs into one chaotic ruin.
The ground trembled under them as in an earthquake; the old mansion
shuddered so that all its windows chattered in their casements; the
great chimney shook off its heavy cap-stones, which came down on the
roof with resounding concussions; and the echoes of The Mountain roared
and bellowed in long reduplication, as if its whole foundations were
rent, and this were the terrible voice of its dissolution.

Dudley Venner rose from his chair, folded his arms, and awaited his
fate. There was no knowing where to look for safety; and he remembered
too well the story of the family that was lost by rushing out of the
house, and so hurrying into the very jaws of death.

He had stood thus but for a moment, when he heard the voice of Old Sophy
in a wild cry of terror:--

"It's the Las' Day! It's the Las' Day! The Lord is comin' to take us
all!"

"Sophy!" he called; but she did not hear him or heed him, and rushed out
of the house.

The worst danger was over. If they were to be destroyed, it would
necessarily be in a few seconds from the first thrill of the terrible
convulsion. He waited in awful suspense, but calm. Not more than one or
two minutes could have passed before the frightful tumult and all its
sounding echoes had ceased. He called Old Sophy; but she did not answer.
He went to the western window and looked forth into the darkness. He
could not distinguish the outlines of the landscape, but the white stone
was clearly visible, and by its side the new-made mound. Nay, what was
that which obscured its outline, in shape like a human figure? He flung
open the window and sprang through. It was all that there was left of
poor Old Sophy, stretched out, lifeless, upon her darling's grave.

He had scarcely composed her limbs and drawn the sheet over her, when
the neighbors began to arrive from all directions. Each was expecting to
hear of houses overwhelmed and families destroyed; but each came with
the story that his own household was safe. It was not until the morning
dawned that the true nature and extent of the sudden movement was
ascertained. A great seam had opened above the long cliff, and the
terrible Rattlesnake Ledge, with all its envenomed reptiles, its
dark fissures and black caverns, was buried forever beneath a mighty
incumbent mass of ruin.


CHAPTER XXXI.

MR. SILAS PECKHAM RENDERS HIS ACCOUNT.


The morning rose clear and bright. The long storm was over, and the calm
autumnal sunshine was now to return, with all its infinite repose and
sweetness. With the earliest dawn exploring parties were out in every
direction along the southern slope of The Mountain, tracing the ravages
of the great slide and the track it had followed. It proved to be not so
much a slide as the breaking off and falling of a vast line of cliff,
including the dreaded Ledge. It had folded over like the leaves of a
half-opened book when they close, crushing the trees below, piling its
ruins in a glacis at the foot of what had been the overhanging wall of
the cliff, and filling up that deep cavity above the mansion-house which
bore the ill-omened name of Dead Man's Hollow. This it was which had
saved the Dudley mansion. The falling masses, or huge fragments
breaking off from them, would have swept the house and all around it to
destruction but for this deep shelving dell, into which the stream of
ruin was happily directed. It was, indeed, one of Nature's conservative
revolutions; for the fallen masses made a kind of shelf, which
interposed a level break between the inclined planes above and below it,
so that the nightmare-fancies of the dwellers in the Dudley mansion, and
in many other residences under the shadow of The Mountain, need not keep
them lying awake hereafter to listen for the snapping of roots and the
splitting of the rocks above them.

Twenty-four hours after the falling of the cliff, it seemed as if it had
happened ages ago. The new fact had fitted itself in with all the old
predictions, forebodings, fears, and acquired the solidarity belonging
to all events which have slipped out of the fingers of Time and
dissolved in the antecedent eternity.

Old Sophy was lying dead in the Dudley mansion. If there were tears shed
for her, they could not be bitter ones; for she had lived out her full
measure of days, and gone--who could help fondly believing it?--to
rejoin her beloved mistress. They made a place for her at the foot of
the two mounds. It was thus she would have chosen to sleep, and not to
have wronged her humble devotion in life by asking to lie at the side of
those whom she had served so long and faithfully. There were very few
present at the simple ceremony. Helen Darley was one of these few. The
old black woman had been her companion in all the kind offices of which
she had been the ministering angel to Elsie.

After it was all over, Helen was leaving with the rest, when Dudley
Venner begged her to stay a little, and he would send her back: it was
a long walk; besides, he wished to say some things to her, which he had
not had the opportunity of speaking. Of course Helen could not refuse
him; there must be many thoughts coming into his mind which he would
wish to share with her who had known his daughter so long and been with
her in her last days.

She returned into the great parlor with the wrought cornices and the
medallion-portraits on the ceiling.

"I am now alone in the world," Dudley Venner said.

Helen must have known that before he spoke. But the tone in which he
said it had so much meaning, that she could not find a word to answer
him with. They sat in silence, which the old tall clock counted out in
long seconds; but it was a silence which meant more than any words they
had ever spoken.

"Alone in the world! Helen, the freshness of my life is gone, and there
is little left of the few graces which in my younger days might have
fitted me to win the love of women. Listen to me,--kindly, if you can;
forgive me, at least. Half my life has been passed in constant fear and
anguish, without any near friend to share my trials. My task is done
now; my fears have ceased to prey upon me; the sharpness of early
sorrows has yielded something of its edge to time. You have bound me to
you by gratitude in the tender care you have taken of my poor child.
More than this. I must tell you all now, out of the depth of this
trouble through which I am passing. I have loved you from the moment
we first met; and if my life has anything left worth accepting, it is
yours. Will you take the offered gift?"

Helen looked in his face, surprised, bewildered.

"This is not for me,--not for me," she said. "I am but a poor faded
flower, not worth the gathering of such a one as you. No, no,--I have
been bred to humble toil all my days, and I could not be to you what
you ought to ask. I am accustomed to a kind of loneliness and
self-dependence. I have seen nothing, almost, of the world, such as you
were born to move in. Leave me to my obscure place and duties; I shall
at least have peace;--and you--you will surely find in due time some one
better fitted by Nature and training to make you happy."

"No, Miss Darley!" Dudley Venner said, almost sternly. "You must not
speak to a man who has lived through my experiences of looking about for
a new choice after his heart has once chosen. Say that you can never
love me; say that I have lived too long to share your young life; say
that sorrow has left nothing in me for Love to find his pleasure in; but
do not mock me with the hope of a new affection for some unknown object.
The first look of yours brought me to your side. The first tone of your
voice sunk into my heart. From this moment my life must wither out or
bloom anew. My home is desolate. Come under my roof and make it bright
once more,--share my life with me,--or I shall give the halls of the old
mansion to the bats and the owls, and wander forth alone without a hope
or a friend!"

To find herself with a man's future at the disposal of a single word of
hers!--a man like this, too, with a fascination for her against which
she had tried to shut her heart, feeling that he lived in another sphere
than hers, working as she was for her bread, a poor operative in the
factory of a hard master and jealous overseer, the salaried drudge of
Mr. Silas Peckham! Why, she had thought he was grateful to her as a
friend of his daughter; she had even pleased herself with the feeling
that he liked her, in her humble place, as a woman of some cultivation
and many sympathetic! points of relation with himself; but that he
_loved_ her,--that this deep, fine nature, in a man so far removed from
her in outward circumstance, should have found its counterpart in one
whom life had treated so coldly as herself,--that Dudley Venner should
stake his happiness on a breath of hers,--poor Helen Darley's,--it was
all a surprise, a confusion, a kind of fear not wholly fearful. Ah, me!
women know what it is,--that mist over the eyes, that trembling in the
limbs, that faltering of the voice, that sweet, shame-faced, unspoken
confession of weakness which does not wish to be strong, that sudden
overflow in the soul where thoughts loose their hold on each other and
swim single and helpless in the flood of emotion,--women know what it
is!

No doubt she was a little frightened and a good deal bewildered, and
that her sympathies were warmly excited for a friend to whom she had
been brought so near, and whose loneliness she saw and pitied. She lost
that calm self-possession she had hoped to maintain.

"If I thought that I could make you happy,--if I should speak from my
heart, and not my reason,--I am but a weak woman,--yet if I can be to
you--What can I say?"

What more could this poor, dear Helen say?

       *       *       *       *       *

"Elbridge, harness the horses and take Miss Darley back to the school."

What conversation had taken place since Helen's rhetorical failure is
not recorded in the minutes from which this narrative is constructed.
But when the man who had been summoned had gone to get the carriage
ready, Helen resumed something she had been speaking of.

"Not for the world! Everything must go on just as it has gone on, for
the present. There are proprieties to be consulted. I cannot be
hard with you, that out of your very affliction has sprung
this--this--well--you must name it for me,--but the world will never
listen to explanations. I am to be Helen Darley, lady assistant in Mr.
Silas Peckham's school, as long as I see fit to hold my office. And I
mean to attend to my scholars just as before; so that I shall have very
little time for visiting or seeing company. I believe, though, you are
one of the Trustees and a Member of the Examining Committee; so that, if
you should happen to visit the school, I shall try to be civil to you."

Every lady sees, of course, that Helen was quite right; but perhaps here
and there one will think that Dudley Venner was all wrong,--that he was
too hasty,--that he should have been too full of his recent grief for
such a confession as he has just made, and the passion from which it
sprung. Perhaps they do not understand the sudden recoil of a strong
nature long compressed. Perhaps they have not studied the mystery of
_allotropism_ in the emotions of the human heart. Go to the nearest
chemist and ask him to show you some of the dark-red phosphorus which
will not burn, without fierce heating, but at 500 deg., Fahrenheit, changes
back again to the inflammable substance we know so well. Grief seems
more like ashes than like fire; but as grief has been love once, so it
may become love again. This is emotional allotropism.

Helen rode back to the Institute and inquired for Mr. Peckham. She had
not seen him during the brief interval between her departure from the
mansion-house and her return to Old Sophy's funeral. There were various
questions about the school she wished to ask.

"Oh, how's your haaelth, Miss Darley?" Silas began. "We've missed you
consid'able. Glad to see you back at the post of dooty. Hope the Squire
treated you hahnsomely,--liberal pecooniary compensation,--hey? A'n't
much of a loser, I guess, by acceptin' his propositions?"

Helen blushed at this last question, as if Silas had meant something by
it beyond asking what money she had received; but his own double-meaning
expression and her blush were too nice points for him to have taken
cognizance of. He was engaged in a mental calculation as to the amount
of the deduction he should make under the head of "damage to the
institootion,"--this depending somewhat on that of the "pecooniary
compensation" she might have received for her services as the friend of
Elsie Venner.

So Helen slid back at once into her routine, the same faithful, patient
creature she had always been. But what was this new light which seemed
to have kindled in her eyes? What was this look of peace, which nothing
could disturb, which smiled serenely through all the little meannesses
with which the daily life of the educational factory surrounded
her,--which not only made her seem resigned, but overflowed all her
features with a thoughtful, subdued happiness? Mr. Bernard did not
know,--perhaps he did not guess. The inmates of the Dudley mansion were
not scandalized by any mysterious visits of a veiled or unveiled lady.
The vibrating tongues of the "female youth" of the Institute were not
set in motion by the standing of an equipage at the gate, waiting for
their lady teacher. The servants at the mansion did not convey numerous
letters with superscriptions in a bold, manly hand, sealed with the arms
of a well-known house, and directed to Miss Helen Darley; nor, on the
other hand, did Hiram, the man from the lean streak in New Hampshire,
carry sweet-smelling, rose-hued, many-layered, criss-crossed,
fine-stitch-lettered packages of note-paper directed to Dudley Venner,
Esq., and all too scanty to hold that incredible expansion of the famous
three words which a woman was born to say,--that perpetual miracle which
astonishes all the go-betweens who wear their shoes out in carrying a
woman's infinite variations on the theme, "I love you."

But the reader must remember that there are walks in country-towns where
people are liable to meet by accident, and that the hollow of an old
tree has served the purpose of a post-office sometimes; so that he has
her choice (to divide the pronouns impartially) of various hypotheses to
account for the new glory of happiness which seemed to have irradiated
our poor Helen's features, as if her dreary life were awakening in the
dawn of a blessed future.

With all the alleviations which have been hinted at, Mr. Dudley Venner
thought that the days and the weeks had never moved so slowly as through
the last period of the autumn that was passing. Elsie had been a
perpetual source of anxiety to him, but still she had been a companion.
He could not mourn for her; for he felt that she was safer with her
mother, in that world where there are no more sorrows and dangers, than
she could have been with him. But as he sat at his window and looked at
the three mounds, the loneliness of the great house made it seem more
like the sepulchre than these narrow dwellings where his beloved and her
daughter lay close to each other, side by side,--Catalina, the bride
of his youth, and Elsie, the child whom he had nurtured, with poor Old
Sophy, who had followed them like a black shadow, at their feet, under
the same soft turf, sprinkled with the brown autumnal leaves. It was not
good for him to be thus alone. How should he ever live through the long
months of November and December?

The months of November and December did, in some way or other, get
rid of themselves at last, bringing with them the usual events of
village-life and a few unusual ones. Some of the geologists had been up
to look at the great slide, of which they gave those prolix accounts
which everybody remembers who read the scientific journals of the time.
The engineers reported that there was little probability of any further
convulsion along the line of rocks which overhung the more thickly
settled part of the town. The naturalists drew up a paper on the
"Probable Extinction of the _Crotalus Durissus_ in the Township of
Rockland." The engagement of the Widow Rowens to a Little Millionville
merchant was announced,--"Sudding 'n' onexpected," Widow Leech
said,--"waaelthy, or she wouldn't ha' looked at him,--fifty year old, if
he is a day, _'n' ha'n't got a white hair in his head."_ The Reverend
Chauncy Fairweather had publicly announced that he was going to join the
Roman Catholic communion,--not so much to the surprise or consternation
of the religious world as he had supposed. Several old ladies forthwith
proclaimed their intention of following him; but, as one or two of them
were deaf, and another had been threatened with an attack of that mild,
but obstinate complaint, _dementia senilis_, many thought it was not so
much the force of his arguments as a kind of tendency to jump as the
bellwether jumps, well known in flocks not included in the Christian
fold. His bereaved congregation immediately began pulling candidates on
and off, like new boots, on trial. Some pinched in tender places; some
were too loose; some were too square-toed; some were too coarse, and
didn't please; some were too thin, and wouldn't last;--in short, they
couldn't possibly find a fit. At last people began to drop in to hear
old Doctor Honeywood. They were quite surprised to find what a human old
gentleman he was, and went back and told the others, that, instead of
being a case of confluent sectarianism, as they supposed, the good old
minister had been so well vaccinated with charitable virus that he was
now a true, open-souled Christian of the mildest type. The end of all
which was, that the liberal people went over to the old minister almost
in a body, just at the time that Deacon Shearer and the "Vinegar-Bible"
party split off, and that not long afterwards they sold their own
meeting-house to the malecontents, so that Deacon Soper used often to
remind Colonel Sprowle of his wish that "our little man and him [the
Reverend Doctor] would swop pulpits," and tell him it had "pooty nigh
come trew."--But this is anticipating the course of events, which were
much longer in coming about; for we have but just got through that
terribly long month, as Mr. Dudley Venner found it, of December.

On the first of January, Mr. Silas Peckham was in the habit of settling
his quarterly accounts, and making such new arrangements as his
convenience or interest dictated. New-Year was a holiday at the
Institute. No doubt this accounted for Helen's being dressed so
charmingly,--always, to be sure, in her own simple way, but yet with
such a true lady's air that she looked fit to be the mistress of any
mansion in the land.

She was in the parlor alone, a little before noon, when Mr. Peckham came
in.

"I'm ready to settle my account with you now, Miss Darley," said Silas.

"As you please, Mr. Peckham," Helen answered, very graciously.

"Before payin' you your selary," the Principal continued, "I wish to
come to an understandin' as to the futur'. I consider that I've been
payin' high, very high, for the work you do. Women's wages can't be
expected to do more than feed and clothe 'em, as a gineral thing, with
a little savin', in case of sickness, and to bury 'em, if they
break daown, as all of 'em are liable to do at any time. If I a'n't
misinformed, you not only support yourself out of my establishment, but
likewise relatives of yours, who I don't know that I'm called upon to
feed and clothe. There is a young woman, not burdened with destitoot
relatives, has signified that she would be glad to take your dooties for
less pecooniary compensation, by a consid'able amaount, than you now
receive. I shall be willin', however, to retain your services at sech
redooced rate as we shall fix upon,--provided sech redooced rate be as
low or lower than the same services can be obtained elsewhere."

"As you please, Mr. Peckham," Helen answered, with a smile so sweet that
the Principal (who of course had trumped up this opposition-teacher for
the occasion) said to himself she would stand being cut down a quarter,
perhaps a half, of her salary.

"Here is your accaount, Miss Darley, and the balance doo you,"
said Silas Peckham, handing her a paper and a small roll of
infectious-flavored bills wrapping six poisonous coppers of the old
coinage.

She took the paper and began looking at it. She could not quite make up
her mind to touch the feverish bills with the cankering copper in them,
and left them airing themselves on the table.

The document she held ran as follows:

  _Silas Peckham, Esq., Principal of the Apollinean Institute,
  In Account with Helen Darley, Assist. Teacher._

  _Dr._
  To Salary for quarter ending Jan. 1st,
  @ $75 per quarter  .  .  .  .  .  . $75.00

  ______
  $75.00

  _Cr._
  By Deduction for absence, 1 week 8
  days   .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . $10.00
  " Board, lodging, etc., for 10 days,
  @ 75 cts. per day  .  .  .  .  .  .   7.50
  " Damage to Institution by absence
  of teacher from duties, say .  .  .  25.00
  " Stationery furnished .  .  .  .  .    43
  " Postage-stamp  .  .  .  .  .  .  .    01
  " Balance due Helen Darley   .  .   $32.06
  ______
  $75.00

  ROCKLAND, Jan. 1st, 1859.

Now Helen had her own private reasons for wishing to receive the
small sum which was due her at this time without any unfair
deduction,--reasons which we need not inquire into too particularly,
as we may be very sure that they were right and womanly. So, when she
looked over this account of Mr. Silas Peckham's, and saw that he had
contrived to pare down her salary to something less than half its
stipulated amount, the look which her countenance wore was as near to
that of righteous indignation as her gentle features and soft blue eyes
would admit of its being.

"Why, Mr. Peckham," she said, "do you mean this? If I am of so much
value to you that you must take off twenty-five dollars for ten days'
absence, how is it that my salary is to be cut down to less than
seventy-five dollars a quarter, if I remain here?"

"I gave you fair notice," said Silas. "I have a minute of it I took down
immed'ately after the intervoo."

He lugged out his large pocket-book with the strap going all round it,
and took from it a slip of paper which confirmed his statement.

"Besides," he added, slyly, "I presoom you have received a liberal
pecooniary compensation from Squire Venner for nussin' his daughter."

Helen was looking over the bill while he was speaking.

"Board and lodging for ten days, Mr. Peckham,--_whose_ board and
lodging, pray?"

The door opened before Silas Peckham could answer, and Mr. Bernard
walked into the parlor. Helen was holding the bill in her hand, looking
as any woman ought to look who has been at once wronged and insulted.

"The last turn of the thumbscrew!" said Mr. Bernard to himself. "What is
it, Helen? You look troubled."

She handed him the account.

He looked at the footing of it. Then he looked at the items. Then he
looked at Silas Peckham.

At this moment Silas was sublime. He was so transcendency unconscious of
the emotions going on in Mr. Bernard's mind at the moment, that he had
only a single thought.

"The accaount's correc'ly cast, I presoom;--if the' 's any mistake
of figgers or addin' 'em up, it'll be made all right. Everything's
accordin' to agreement. The minute written immed'ately after the
intervoo is here in my possession."

Mr. Bernard looked at Helen. Just what would have happened to Silas
Peckham, as he stood then and there, but for the interposition of a
merciful Providence, nobody knows or ever will know; for at that moment
steps were heard upon the stairs, and Hiram threw open the parlor-door
for Mr. Dudley Venner to enter.

He saluted them all gracefully with the good-wishes of the season, and
each of them returned his compliment,--Helen blushing fearfully, of
course, but not particularly noticed in her embarrassment by more than
one.

Silas Peckham reckoned with perfect confidence on his Trustees, who had
always said what he told them to, and done what he wanted. It was a good
chance now to show off his power, and, by letting his instructors know
the unstable tenure of their offices, make it easier to settle his
accounts and arrange his salaries. There was nothing very strange in Mr.
Venner's calling; he was one of the Trustees, and this was New Year's
Day. But he had called just at the lucky moment for Mr. Peckham's
object.

"I have thought some of makin' changes in the department of
instruction," he began. "Several accomplished teachers have applied to
me, who would be glad of sitooations. I understand that there never have
been so many fust-rate teachers, male and female, out of employment as
doorin' the present season. If I can make sahtisfahctory arrangements
with my present corpse of teachers, I shall be glad to do so; otherwise
I shell, with the permission of the Trustees, make sech noo arrangements
as circumstahnces compel."

"You may make arrangements for a new assistant in my department, Mr.
Peckham," said Mr. Bernard, "at once,--this day,--this hour. I am not
safe to be trusted with your person five minutes out of this lady's
presence,--of whom I beg pardon for this strong language. Mr. Venner, I
must beg you, as one of the Trustees of this Institution, to look at the
manner in which its Principal has attempted to swindle this faithful
teacher, whose toils and sacrifices and self-devotion to the school
have made it all that it is, in spite of this miserable trader's
incompetence. Will you look at the paper I hold?"

Dudley Venner took the account and read it through, without changing a
feature. Then he turned to Silas Peckham.

"You may make arrangements for a new assistant in the branches this lady
has taught. Miss Helen Darley is to be my wife. I had hoped to announce
this news in a less abrupt and ungraceful manner. But I came to tell
you with my own lips what you would have learned before evening from my
friends in the village."

Mr. Bernard went to Helen, who stood silent, with downcast eyes, and
took her hand warmly, hoping she might find all the happiness she
deserved. Then he turned to Dudley Venner, and said,--

"She is a queen, but has never found it out. The world has nothing
nobler than this dear woman, whom you have discovered in the disguise of
a teacher. God bless her and you!"

Dudley Venner returned his friendly grasp, without answering a word in
articulate speech.

Silas remained dumb and aghast for a brief space. Coming to himself
a little, he thought there might have been some mistake about the
items,--would like to have Miss Darley's bill returned,--would make it
all right,--had no idee that Squire Venner had a special int'rest in
Miss Darley,--was sorry he had given offence,--if he might take that
bill and look it over--

"No, Mr. Peckham," said Mr. Dudley Venner; "there will be a full meeting
of the Board next week, and the bill, and such evidence with reference
to the management of the Institution and the treatment of its
instructors as Mr. Langdon sees fit to bring forward, will be laid
before them."

Miss Helen Darley became that very day the guest of Miss Arabella
Thornton, the Judge's daughter. Mr. Bernard made his appearance a week
or two later at the Lectures, where the Professor first introduced him
to the reader.

He stayed after the class had left the room.

"Ah, Mr. Langdon! how do you do? Very glad to see you back again. How
have you been since our correspondence on Fascination and other curious
scientific questions?"

It was the Professor who spoke,--whom the reader will recognize as
myself, the teller of this story.

"I have been well," Mr. Bernard answered, with a serious look which
invited a further question.

"I hope you have had none of those painful or dangerous experiences you
seemed to be thinking of when you wrote; at any rate, you have escaped
having your obituary written."

"I have seen some things worth remembering. Shall I call on you this
evening and tell you about them?"

"I shall be most happy to see you."

       *       *       *       *       *

This was the way in which I, the Professor, became acquainted with some
of the leading events of this story. They interested me sufficiently
to lead me to avail myself of all those other extraordinary methods of
obtaining information well known to writers of narrative.

Mr. Langdon seemed to me to have gained in seriousness and strength of
character by his late experiences. He threw his whole energies into
his studies with an effect which distanced all his previous efforts.
Remembering my former hint, he employed his spare hours in writing for
the annual prizes, both of which he took by a unanimous vote of the
judges. Those who heard him read his Thesis at the Medical Commencement
will not soon forget the impression made by his fine personal appearance
and manners, nor the universal interest excited in the audience, as
he read, with his beautiful enunciation, that striking paper entitled
"Unresolved Nebulas in Vital Science." It was a general remark of the
Faculty,--and old Doctor Kittredge, who had come down on purpose to hear
Mr. Langdon, heartily agreed to it,--that there had never been a diploma
filled up, since the institution which conferred upon him the degree of
_Doctor Medicinae_ was founded, which carried with it more of promise to
the profession than that which bore the name of

Bernardus Caryl Langdon


CHAPTER XXXII

CONCLUSION.


Mr. Bernard Langdon had no sooner taken his degree, than, in accordance
with the advice of one of his teachers whom he frequently consulted, he
took an office in the heart of the city where he had studied. He had
thought of beginning in a suburb or some remoter district of the city
proper.

"No," said his teacher,--to wit, myself,--"don't do any such thing. You
are made for the best kind of practice; don't hamper yourself with an
outside constituency, such as belongs to a practitioner of the second
class. When a fellow like you chooses his beat, he must look ahead a
little. Take care of all the poor that apply to you, but leave the
half-pay classes to a different style of doctor,--the people who spend
one half their time in taking care of their patients, and the other half
in squeezing out their money. Go for the swell-fronts and south-exposure
houses; the folks inside are just as good as other people, and the
pleasantest, on the whole, to take care of. They must have somebody, and
they like a gentleman best. Don't throw yourself away. You have a
good presence and pleasing manners. You wear white linen by inherited
instinct. You can pronounce the word _view_. You have all the elements
of success; go and take it. Be polite and generous, but don't undervalue
yourself. You will be useful, at any rate; you may just as well be
happy, while you are about it. The highest social class furnishes
incomparably the best patients, taking them by and large. Besides, when
they won't get well and bore you to death, you can send 'em off to
travel. Mind me now, and take the tops of your sparrowgrass. Somebody
must have 'em,--why shouldn't you? If you don't take your chance, you'll
get the butt-ends as a matter of course."

Mr. Bernard talked like a young man full of noble sentiments. He wanted
to be useful to his fellow-beings. Their social differences were nothing
to him. He would never court the rich,--he would go where he was called.
He would rather save the life of a poor mother of a family than that of
half a dozen old gouty millionnaires whose heirs had been yawning and
stretching these ten years to get rid of them.

"Generous emotions!" I exclaimed. "Cherish 'em; cling to 'em till you
are fifty,--till you are seventy,--till you are ninety! But do as I tell
you,--strike for the best circle of practice, and you'll be sure to get
it!"

Mr. Langdon did as I told him,--took a genteel office, furnished it
neatly, dressed with a certain elegance, soon made a pleasant circle
of acquaintances, and began to work his way into the right kind of
business. I missed him, however, for some days, not long after he had
opened his office. On his return, he told me he had been up at Rockland,
by special invitation, to attend the wedding of Mr. Dudley Venner and
Miss Helen Darley. He gave me a full account of the ceremony, which
I regret that I cannot relate in full. "Helen looked like an
angel,"--that, I am sure, was one of his expressions. As for her dress,
I should like to give the details, but am afraid of committing blunders,
as men always do, when they undertake to describe such matters. White
dress, anyhow,--that I am sure of,--with orange-flowers, and the most
wonderful lace veil that was ever seen or heard of. The Reverend Doctor
Honeywood performed the ceremony, of course. The good people seemed to
have forgotten they ever had had any other minister,--except Deacon
Shearer and his set of malecontents, who were doing a dull business in
the meeting-house lately occupied by the Reverend Mr. Fairweather.

"Who was at the wedding?"

"Everybody, pretty much. They wanted to keep it quiet, but it was of no
use. Married at church. Front pews, old Doctor Kittredge and all the
mansion-house people and distinguished strangers,--Colonel Sprowle and
family, including Matilda's young gentleman, a graduate of one of
the fresh-water colleges,--Mrs. Pickins (late Widow Rowens) and
husband,--Deacon Soper and numerous parishioners. A little nearer the
door, Abel, the Doctor's man, and Elbridge, who drove them to church in,
the family-coach. Father Fairweather, as they all call him now, came in
late, with Father McShane."

"And Silas Peckham?"

"Oh, Silas had left The School and Rockland. Cut up altogether too
badly in the examination instituted by the Trustees. Had moved over
to Tamarack, and thought of renting a large house and 'farming' the
town-poor."

       *       *       *       *       *

Some time after this, as I was walking with a young friend along by the
swell-fronts and south-exposures, whom should I see but Mr. Bernard
Langdon, looking remarkably happy, and keeping step by the side of a
very handsome and singularly well-dressed young lady? He bowed and
lifted his hat as we passed.

"Who is that pretty girl my young doctor has got there?" I said to my
companion.

"Who is that?" he answered. "You don't know? Why, that is neither more
nor less than Miss Letitia Forester, daughter of--of--why, the great
banking-firm, you know, Bilyuns Brothers & Forester. Got acquainted with
her in the country, they say. There's a story that they're engaged, or
like to be, if the firm consents."

"Oh!" I said.

I did not like the look of it in the least. Too young,--too young. Has
not taken any position yet. No right to ask for the hand of Bilyuns
Brothers & Co.'s daughter. Besides, it will spoil him for practice, if
he marries a rich girl before he has formed habits of work.

I looked in at his office the next day. A box of white kids was lying
open on the table. A three-cornered note, directed in a very delicate
lady's-hand, was distinguishable among a heap of papers. I was just
going to call him to account for his proceedings, when he pushed
the three-cornered note aside and took up a letter with a great
corporation-seal upon it. He had received the offer of a professor's
chair in an ancient and distinguished institution.

"Pretty well for three-and-twenty, my boy," I said. "I suppose you'll
think you must be married one of these days, if you accept this office."

Mr. Langdon blushed.--There had been stories about him, he knew. His
name had been mentioned in connection with that of a very charming young
lady. The current reports were not true. He had met this young lady,
and been much pleased with her, in the country, at the house of her
grandfather, the Reverend Doctor Honeywood,--you remember Miss Letitia
Forester, whom I have mentioned repeatedly? On coming to town, he found
his country-acquaintance in a social position which seemed to discourage
his continued intimacy. He had discovered, however, that he was a not
unwelcome visitor, and had kept up friendly relations with her. But
there was no truth in the current reports,--none at all.

Some months had passed, after this visit, when I happened one evening to
stroll into a box in one of the principal theatres of the city. A small
party sat on the seats before me: a middle-aged gentleman and his lady,
in front, and directly behind them my young doctor and the same very
handsome young lady I had seen him walking with on the side-walk before
the swell-fronts and south-exposures. As Professor Langdon seemed to be
very much taken up with his companion, and both of them looked as if
they were enjoying themselves, I determined not to make my presence
known to my young friend, and to withdraw quietly after feasting my eyes
with the sight of them for a few minutes.

"It looks as if something might come of it," I said to myself.

At that moment the young lady lifted her arm accidentally, in such a way
that the light fell upon the clasp of a chain which encircled her wrist.
My eyes filled with tears as I read upon the clasp, in sharp-cut Italic
letters, _E.V._ They were tears at once of sad remembrance and of joyous
anticipation; for the ornament on which I looked was the double
pledge of a dead sorrow and a living affection. It was the golden
bracelet,--the parting-gift of Elsie Venner.

       *       *       *       *       *


BUBBLES.


I.

  I stood on the brink in childhood,
  And watched the bubbles go
  From the rock-fretted sunny ripple
  To the smoother lymph below;

  And over the white creek-bottom,
  Under them every one,
  Went golden stars in the water,
  All luminous with the sun.

  But the bubbles brake on the surface,
  And under, the stars of gold
  Brake, and the hurrying water
  Flowed onward, swift and cold.


II.

  I stood on the brink in manhood,
  And it came to my weary heart,--
  In my breast so dull and heavy,
  After the years of smart,--

  That every hollowest bubble
  Which over my life had passed
  Still into its deeper current
  Some sky-sweet gleam had cast;

  That, however I mocked it gayly,
  And guessed at its hollowness,
  Still shone, with each bursting bubble,
  One star in my soul the less.




CITIES AND PARKS:

WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO THE NEW YORK CENTRAL PARK.


The first murderer was the first city-builder; and a good deal of
murdering has been carried on in the interest of city-building ever
since Cain's day. Narrow and crooked streets, want of proper sewerage
and ventilation, the absence of forethought in providing open spaces for
the recreation of the people, the allowance of intramural burials,
and of fetid nuisances, such as slaughter-houses and manufactories of
offensive stuffs, have converted cities into pestilential inclosures,
and kept Jefferson's saying--"Great cities are great sores"--true in its
most literal and mortifying sense.

There is some excuse for the crowded and irregular character of
Old-World cities. They grew, and were not builded. Accumulations
of people, who lighted like bees upon a chance branch, they found
themselves hived in obdurate brick and mortar before they knew it; and
then, to meet the necessities of their cribbed, cabined, and confined
condition, they must tear down sacred landmarks, sacrifice invaluable
possessions, and trample on prescriptive rights, to provide
breathing-room for their gasping population. Besides, air, water, light,
and cleanliness are modern innovations. The nose seems to have acquired
its sensitiveness within a hundred years,--the lungs their objection to
foul air, and the palate its disgust at ditch-water like the Thames,
within a more recent period. Honestly dirty, and robustly indifferent to
what mortally offends our squeamish senses, our happy ancestors fattened
on carbonic acid gas, and took the exhalations of graveyards and gutters
with a placidity of stomach that excites our physiological admiration.
If they died, it was not for want of air. The pestilence carried, them
off,--and that was a providential enemy, whose home-bred origin nobody
suspected.

It must seem to foreigners of all things the strangest, that, in a
country where land is sold at one dollar and twenty-five cents the acre
by the square mile, there should in any considerable part of it be a
want of room,--any necessity for crowding the population into pent-up
cities,--any narrowness of streets, or want of commons and parks. And
yet it is an undeniable truth that our American cities are all suffering
the want of ample thoroughfares, destitute of adequate parks and
commons, and too much crowded for health, convenience, or beauty. Boston
has for its main street a serpentine lane, wide enough to drive the cows
home from their pastures, but totally and almost fatally inadequate
to be the great artery of a city of two hundred thousand people.
Philadelphia is little better off with her narrow Chestnut Street,
which purchases what accommodation it affords by admitting the parallel
streets to nearly equal use, and thus sacrificing the very idea of a
metropolitan thoroughfare, in which the splendor and motion and life
of a metropolis ought to be concentrated. New York succeeds in making
Broadway what the Toledo, the Strand, the Linden Strasse, the Italian
Boulevards are; but the street is notoriously blocked and confused, and
occasions more loss of time and temper and life and limb than would
amply repay, once in five years, the widening of it to double its
present breadth.

It is a great misfortune, that our commercial metropolis, the
predestined home of five millions of people, should not have a single
street worthy of the population, the wealth, the architectural ambition
ready to fill and adorn it. Wholesale trade, bankers, brokers, and
lawyers seek narrow streets. There must be swift communication between
the opposite sides, and easy recognition of faces across the way. But
retail trade requires no such conditions. The passers up and down on
opposite sides of Broadway are as if in different streets, and neither
expect to recognize each other nor to pass from one to the other without
set effort. It took a good while to make Broad and Canal Streets
attractive business-streets, and to get the importers and jobbers out
of Pearl Street; but the work is now done. The Bowery affords the only
remaining chance of building a magnificent metropolitan thoroughfare in
New York; and we anticipate the day--when Broadway will surrender its
pretensions to that now modest Cheapside. Already, about the confluence
of the Third and Fourth Avenues at Eighth Street are congregated some
of the chief institutions of the city,--the Bible House, the Cooper
Institute, the Astor Library, the Mercantile Library. Farther down,
the continuation of Canal Street affords the most commanding sites for
future public edifices; while the neighborhoods of Franklin and Chatham
Squares ought to be seized upon to embellish the city at imperial points
with its finest architectural piles. The capacities of New York, below
Union Square, for metropolitan splendor are entirely undeveloped; the
best points are still occupied by comparatively worthless buildings, and
the future will produce a now unlooked-for change in the whole character
of that great district.

The huddling together of our American cities is due to the recentness
of the time when space was our greatest enemy and sparseness our chief
discouragement. Our founders hated room as much as a backwoods farmer
hates trees. The protecting walls, which narrowed the ways and cramped
the houses of the Old-World cities, did not put a severer compress
upon them, than the disgust of solitude and the craving for "the sweet
security of streets" threw about our city-builders. In the Western towns
now, they carefully give a city air to their villages by crowding the
few stores and houses of which they are composed into the likeliest
appearance of an absolute scarcity of space.

They labor unconsciously to look crowded, and would sooner go into a
cellar to eat their oysters than have them in the finest saloon above
ground. And so, if a peninsula like Boston, or a miniature Mesopotamia
like New York, or a basin like Cincinnati, could be found to tuck away
a town in, in which there was a decent chance of covering over the
nakedness of the land within a thousand years, they rejoiced to seize
on it and warm their shivering imaginations in the idea of the possible
snugness which their distant posterity might enjoy.

Boston owes its only park worth naming--the celebrated Common--to
the necessity of leaving a convenient cow-pasture for the babes and
sucklings of that now mature community. Forty acres were certainly
never more fortunately situated for their predestined service, nor more
providentially rescued for the higher uses of man. May the memory of the
weaning babes who pleaded for the spot where their "milky mothers" fed
be ever sacred in our Athens, and may the cows of Boston be embalmed
with the bulls of Egypt! A white heifer should be perpetually grazing,
at her tether, in the shadow of the Great Elm. Would it be wholly
unbecoming one born in full view of that lovely inclosure to suggest
that the straightness of the lines in which the trees are planted on
Boston Common, and the rapidly increasing thickness of their foliage,
destroy in the summer season the effect of breadth and liberty, hide
both the immediate and the distant landscape, stifle the breeze, and
diminish the attractiveness of the spot? Fewer trees, scattered in
clumps and paying little regard to paths, would vastly improve the
effect. The colonnades of the malls furnish all the shade desirable in
so small an inclosure.

For the most part, the proper laying-out of cities is both a matter of
greater ease and greater importance in America than anywhere else. We
are much in the condition of those old Scriptural worthies, of whom it
could be so coolly said, "So he went and built a city," as if it were
a matter of not much greater account than "So be went and built a
log-house." Very likely some of those Biblical cities, extemporized
so tersely, were not much more finished than those we now and then
encounter in our Western and Southern tours, where a poor shed at four
cross-roads is dignified with the title. We believe it was Samuel
Dexter, the pattern of Webster, who, on hanging out his shingle in a
New England village, where a tavern, a schoolhouse, a church, and a
blacksmith's shop constituted the whole settlement, gave as a reason,
that, having to break into the world somewhere, he had chosen the
weakest place. He would have tried a new Western city, had they then
been in fashion, as a still softer spot in the social crust. But this
rage for cities in America is prophetic. The name is a spell; and most
of the sites, surveyed and distributed into town-lots with squares and
parks staked out, are only a century before their time, and will redound
to the future credit, however fatal to the immediate cash of their
projectors. Who can doubt that Cairo of Illinois--the standing joke of
tourists, (and the standing-water of the Ohio and Mississippi,) though
no joke to its founders--will one day rival its Egyptian prototype?
America runs to cities, and particularly in its Northern latitudes.
As cities have been the nurses of democratic institutions and ideas,
democratic nations, for very obvious reasons, tend to produce them. They
are the natural fruits of a democracy. And with no people are great
cities so important, or likely to be so increasingly populous, as with
a great agricultural and commercial nation like our own, covered with
a free and equal population. The vast wealth of such a people, evenly
distributed, and prevented from over-accumulation in special families by
the absence of primogeniture and entail,--their general education
and refined tastes,--the intense community of ideas, through the
all-pervading influence of a daily press reaching with simultaneous
diffusion over thousands of square miles,--the facilities of
locomotion,--all inevitably cooperate with commercial necessities to
create great cities,--not merely as the homes of the mercantile and
wealthy class, but as centres where the leisure, the tastes, the
pride, and the wants of the people at large repair more and more for
satisfaction. Free populations, educated in public schools and with an
open career for all, soon instinctively settle the high economies of
life.

Many observers have ascribed the rapid change which for twenty years
past has been going on in the relative character of towns and villages
on the one hand, and cities on the other, to the mere operation of the
railroad-system. But that system itself grew out of higher instincts.
Equal communities demand equal privileges and advantages. They tend
to produce a common level. The country does not acquiesce in the
superiority of the city in manners, comforts, or luxuries. It demands
a market at its door,--first-rate men for its advisers in all medical,
legal, moral, and political matters. It demands for itself the
amusements, the refinements, the privileges of the city. This is to
be brought about only by the application, at any cost, of the most
immediate methods of communication with the city; and behold our
railroad system,--the Briarean shaking of hands which the country gives
the city! The growth of this system is a curious commentary on the
purely mercenary policy which is ordinarily supposed to govern the
investments of capital. The railroads of the United States are as much
the products of social rivalries and the fruits of an ineradicable
democratic instinct for popularizing all advantages, as of any
commercial emulation. The people have willingly bandaged their own eyes,
and allowed themselves to believe a profitable investment was made,
because their inclinations were so determined to have the roads,
profitable or not. Their wives and daughters _would_ shop in the city;
the choicest sights and sounds were there; there concentrated themselves
the intellectual and moral lights; there were the representative
splendors of the state or nation;--and a swift access to them was
essential to true equality and self-respect.

One does not need to be a graybeard to recall the time when every
county-town in New England had, because it needs must have, its
first rate lawyer, its distinguished surgeon, its comprehensive
business-man,--and when a fixed and unchanging population gave to our
villages a more solid and a more elegant air than they now possess. The
Connecticut river-villages, with a considerable increase in population,
and a vast improvement in the general character of the dwellings, have
nevertheless lost their most characterizing features,--the large and
dignified residences of their founders, and the presence of the once
able and widely known men that were identified with their local
importance and pride. The railroads have concentrated the ability of all
the professions in the cities, and carried thither the wealth of all the
old families. To them, and not to the county-town, repair the people for
advice in all critical matters, for supplies in all important purchases,
for all their rarest pleasures, and all their most prized and memorable
opportunities.

Cities, and the immediate neighborhood of cities, are rapidly becoming
the chosen residences of the enterprising, successful, and intelligent.
As might be supposed, the movement works both ways: the locomotive
facilities carry citizens into the country, as well as countrymen into
the city. But those who have once tasted the city are never wholly
weaned from it, and every citizen who moves into a village-community
sends two countrymen back to take his place. He infects the country with
civic tastes, and acts as a great conductor between the town and the
country. It is apparent, too, that the experience of ten years, during
which some strong reaction upon the centripetal tendencies of the
previous ten years drove many of the wealthy and the self-supposed
lovers of quietude and space into the country, has dispersed several
very natural prejudices, and returned the larger part of the truants
to their original ways. One of these prejudices was, that our ordinary
Northern climate was as favorable to the outdoor habits of the leisurely
class as the English climate; whereas, besides not having a leisurely
class, and never being destined to have any, under our wise
wealth-distributing customs, and not having any out-door habits, which
grow up only on estates and on hereditary fortunes, experience has
convinced most who have tried it that we have only six months when
out-of-doors allows any comfort, health, or pleasure away from the city.
The roads are sloughs; side-walks are wanting; shelter is gone with the
leaves; non-intercourse is proclaimed; companionship cannot be found;
leisure is a drug; books grow stupid; the country is a stupendous bore.
Another prejudice was the anticipated economy of the country. This has
turned out to be, as might have been expected, an economy to those who
fall in with its ways, which citizens are wholly inapt and unprepared to
do. It is very economical not to want city comforts and conveniences.
But it proves more expensive to those who go into the country to want
them there than it did to have them where they abound. They are not to
be had in the country at any price,--water, gas, fuel, food, attendance,
amusement, locomotion in all weathers; but such a moderate measure of
them as a city-bred family cannot live without involves so great an
expense, that the expected economy of life in the country to those not
actually brought up there turns out a delusion. The expensiveness of
life in the city comes of the generous and grand scale on which it there
proceeds, not from the superior cost of the necessaries or comforts of
life. They are undoubtedly cheaper in the city, all things considered,
than anywhere in the country. Where everything is to be had, in the
smallest or the largest quantities,--where every form of service can be
commanded at a moment's notice,--where the wit, skill, competition of a
country are concentrated upon the furnishing of all commodities at the
most taking rates,--there prices will, of course, be most reasonable;
and the expensiveness of such communities, we repeat, is entirely due to
the abundant wealth which makes such enormous demands and secures such
various comforts and luxuries;--in short, it is the high standard of
living, not the cost of the necessaries of life. This high standard
is, of course, an evil to those whose social ambition drives them to a
rivalry for which they are not prepared. But no special pity is due to
hardships self-imposed by pride and folly. The probability is, that,
proportioned to their income from labor, the cost of living in the city,
for the bulk of its population, is lighter, their degree of comfort
considered, than in the country. And for the wealthy class of society,
no doubt, on the whole, economy is served by living in the city. Our
most expensive class is that which lives in the country after the manner
of the city.

A literary man, of talents and thorough respectability, lately informed
us, that, after trying all places, cities, villages, farmhouses,
boarding-houses, hotels, taverns, he had discovered that keeping house
in New York was the cheapest way to live,--vastly the cheapest, if
the amount of convenience and comfort was considered,--and absolutely
cheapest in fact. To be sure, being a bachelor, his housekeeping was
done in a single room, the back-room of a third-story, in a respectable
and convenient house and neighborhood. His rent was ninety-six dollars a
year. His expenses of every other kind, (clothing excepted,) one dollar
a week. He could not get his chop or steak cooked well enough, nor his
coffee made right, until he took them in hand himself,--nor his bed
made, nor his room cleaned. His conveniences were incredibly great. He
cooked by alcohol, and expected to warm himself the winter through on
two gallons of alcohol at seventy-five cents a gallon. This admirable
housekeeping is equalled in economy only by that of a millionnaire, a
New-Yorker, and a bachelor also, whose accounts, all accurately kept by
his own hand, showed, after death, that (1st) his own living, (2d) his
support of religion, (3d) his charities, (4th) his gifts to a favorite
niece, had not averaged, for twenty years, over five hundred dollars.
Truly, the city is a cheap place to live in, for those who know how! And
what place is cheap for those who do not?

Contrary to the old notion, the more accurate statistics of recent times
have proved the city, as compared with the country, the more healthy,
the more moral, and the more religious place. What used to be considered
the great superiority of the country--hardship, absence of social
excitements and public amusements, simple food, freedom from moral
exposure--a better knowledge of the human constitution, considered
either physically or morally, has shown to be decidedly opposed to
health and virtue. More constitutions are broken down in the hardening
process than survive and profit by it. Cold houses, coarse food
unskilfully cooked, long winters, harsh springs, however favorable to
the heroism of the stomach, the lungs, and the spirits, are not found
conducive to longevity. In like manner, monotony, seclusion, lack of
variety and of social stimulus lower the tone of humanity, drive to
sensual pleasures and secret vices, and nourish a miserable pack of
mean and degrading immoralities, of which scandal, gossip, backbiting,
tale-bearing are the better examples.

In the Old World, the wealth of states is freely expended in the
embellishment of their capitals. It is well understood, not only that
loyalty is never more economically secured than by a lavish appeal to
the pride of the citizen in the magnificence of the public buildings
and grounds which he identifies with his nationality, but that popular
restlessness is exhaled and dangerous passions drained off in the
roominess which parks and gardens afford the common people. In the
New World, it has not yet proved necessary to provide against popular
discontents or to bribe popular patriotism with spectacles and
state-parade; and if it were so, there is no government with an interest
of its own separate from that of the people to adopt this policy. It has
therefore been concluded that democratic institutions must necessarily
lack splendor and great public provision for the gratification of the
aesthetic tastes or the indulgence of the leisure of the common people.
The people being, then, our sovereigns, it has not been felt that they
would or could have the largeness of view, the foresight, the sympathy
with leisure, elegance, and ease, to provide liberally and expensively
for their own recreation and refreshment. A bald utility has been the
anticipated genius of our public policy. Our national Mercury was to be
simply the god of the post-office, or the sprite of the barometer,--our
Pan, to keep the crows from the corn-fields,--our Muses, to preside over
district-schools. It begins now to appear that the people are not likely
to think anything too good for themselves, or to higgle about the
expense of whatever ministers largely to their tastes and fancies,--that
political freedom, popular education, the circulation of newspapers,
books, engravings, pictures, have already created a public which
understands that man does not live by bread alone,--which demands
leisure, beauty, space, architecture, landscape, music, elegance, with
an imperative voice, and is ready to back its demands with the necessary
self-taxation. This experience our absolute faith in free institutions
enabled us to anticipate as the inevitable result of our political
system; but let us confess that the rapidity with which it has developed
itself has taken us by surprise. We knew, that, when the people truly
realized their sovereignty, they would claim not only the utilitarian,
but the artistic and munificent attributes of their throne,--and that
all the splendors and decorations, all the provisions for leisure,
taste, and recreation, which kings and courts have made, would be found
to be mere preludes and rehearsals to the grander arrangements and
achievements of the vastly richer and more legitimate sovereign, the
People, when he understood his own right and duty. As dynasties and
thrones have been predictions of the royalty of the people, so old
courts and old capitals, with all their pomp and circumstance, their
parks and gardens, galleries and statues, are but dim prefigurings of
the glories of architecture, the grandeur of the grounds, the splendor
and richness of the museums and conservatories with which the people
will finally crown their own self-respect and decorate their own
majesty. But we did not expect to see this sure prophecy turning itself
into history in our day. We thought the people were too busy with the
spade and the quill to care for any other sceptres at present. But it
is now plain that they have been dreaming princely dreams and thinking
royal thoughts all the while, and are now ready to put them into costly
expression.

Passing by all other evidences of this, we come at once to the most
majestic and indisputable witness of this fact, the actual existence
of the Central Park in New York,--the most striking evidence of
the sovereignty of the people yet afforded in the history of free
institutions,--the best answer yet given to the doubts and fears which
have frowned on the theory of self-government,--the first grand proof
that the people do not mean to give up the advantages and victories of
aristocratic governments, in maintaining a popular one, but to engraft
the energy, foresight, and liberality of concentrated powers upon
democratic ideas, and keep all that has adorned and improved the past,
while abandoning what has impaired and disgraced it. That the American
people appreciate and are ready to support what is most elegant,
refined, and beautiful in the greatest capitals of Europe,--that they
value and intend to provide the largest and most costly opportunities
for the enjoyment of their own leisure, artistic tastes, and rural
instincts, is emphatically declared in the history, progress, and
manifest destiny of the Central Park; while their competency to use
wisely, to enjoy peacefully, to protect sacredly, and to improve
industriously the expensive, exposed, and elegant pleasure-ground they
have devised, is proved with redundant testimony by the year and more of
experience we have had in the use of the Park, under circumstances far
less favorable than any that can ever again arise. As a test of the
ability of the people to know their own higher wants, of the power of
their artistic instincts, their docility to the counsels of their most
judicious representatives, their superiority to petty economies, their
strength to resist the natural opposition of heavy tax-payers to
expensive public works, their gentleness and amenableness to just
authority in the pursuit of their pleasures, of their susceptibility to
the softening influences of elegance and beauty, of their honest pride
and rejoicing in their own splendor, of their superior fondness for what
is innocent and elevating over what is base and degrading, when
brought within equal reach, the Central Park has already afforded most
encouraging, nay, most decisive proof.

The Central Park is an anomaly to those who have not deeply studied the
tendencies of popular governments. It is a royal work, undertaken and
achieved by the Democracy,--surprising equally themselves and their
skeptical friends at home and abroad,--and developing, both in its
creation and growth, in its use and application, new and almost
incredible tastes, aptitudes, capacities, and powers in the people
themselves. That the people should be capable of the magnanimity of
laying down their authority, when necessary to concentrate it in
the hands of energetic and responsible trustees requiring large
powers,--that they should be willing to tax themselves heavily for the
benefit of future generations,--that they should be wise enough to
distrust their own judgment and defer modestly to the counsels of
experts,--that they should be in favor of the most solid and substantial
work,--that they should be willing to have the better half of their
money under ground and out of sight, invested in drains and foundations
of roads,--that they should acquiesce cheerfully in all the restrictions
necessary to the achievement of the work, while admitted freely to the
use and enjoyment of its inchoate processes,--that their conduct and
manners should prove so unexceptionable,--their disposition to trespass
upon strict rules so small,--their use and improvement of the work so
free, so easy, and so immediately justificatory of all the cost of so
generous and grand an enterprise: these things throw light and cheer
upon the prospects of popular institutions, at a period when they are
seriously clouded from other quarters.

We do not propose to enter into any description of the Central Park.
Those who have not already visited it will find a description,
accompanying a study for the plan submitted for competition in 1858, by
Messrs. Olmsted and Vaux, and published among the Documents of the New
York Senate, which will satisfy their utmost expectations. We wish
merely to throw out some replies to the leading objections we have met
in the papers and other quarters to the plan itself. We need hardly say
that the Central Park requires no advocate and no defence. Its great
proprietor, the Public, is perfectly satisfied with his purchase and his
agents. He thinks himself providentially guided in the choice of his
Superintendent, and does not vainly pique himself upon his sagacity in
selecting Mr. Frederick Law Olmsted for the post. This gentleman, in his
place, offsets at least a thousand square plugs in round holes. He is
precisely the man for the place,--and that is precisely the place for
the man. Among final causes, it would be difficult not to assign the
Central Park as the reason of his existence. To fill the duties of his
office as he has filled them,--to prove himself equally competent as
original designer, patient executor, potent disciplinarian, and model
police-officer,--to enforce a method, precision, and strictness, equally
marked in the workmanship, in the accounts, and in the police of the
Park,--to be equally studious of the highest possible use and enjoyment
of the work by the public of to-day, and of the prospects and privileges
of the coming generations,--to sympathize with the outside people,
while in the closest fellowship with the inside,--to make himself
equally the favorite and friend of the people and of the workmen:
this proves an original adaptation, most carefully improved, which we
seriously believe not capable of being paralleled in any other public
work, of similar magnitude, ever undertaken. The union of prosaic
sense with poetical feeling, of democratic sympathies with refined
and scholarly tastes, of punctilious respect for facts with tender
hospitality for ideas, has enabled him to appreciate and embody, both in
the conception and execution of the Park, the beau-ideal of a people's
pleasure-ground. If he had not borne, as an agriculturist, and as the
keenest, most candid, and instructive of all our writers on the moral
and political economy of our American Slavery, a name to be long
remembered, he might safely trust his reputation to the keeping of New
York city and all her successive citizens, as the author and achiever of
the Central Park,--which, when completed, will prove, we are confident,
the most splendid, satisfactory, and popular park in the world.

Two grand assumptions have controlled the design from the inception.

First, That the Park would be the only park deserving the name, for a
town of twice or thrice the present population of New York; that
this town would be built compactly around it (and in this respect
of centrality it would differ from any extant metropolitan park of
magnitude); and that it would be a town of greater wealth and more
luxurious demands than any now existing.

Second, That, while in harmony with the luxury of the rich, the Park
should and would be used more than any existing park by people of
moderate wealth and by poor people, and that its use by these people
must be made safe, convenient, agreeable; that they must be expected
to have a pride and pleasure in using it rightly, in cherishing and
protecting it against all causes of injury and dilapidation, and that
this is to be provided for and encouraged.

A want of appreciation of the first assumption is the cause of all
sincere criticism against the Transverse Roads. Some engineers
originally pronounced them impracticable of construction; but all their
grounds of apprehension have been removed by the construction of two of
them, especially by the completion of the tunnel under Vista Rock, and
below the foundation of the Reservoir embankment and wall. They were
planned for the future; they are being built solidly, massively,
permanently, for the future. Less thoroughly and expensively
constructed, they would need to be rebuilt in the future at enormously
increased cost, and with great interruption to the use of the Park; and
the grounds in their vicinity, losing the advantage of age, would need
to be remodelled and remade. An engineer, visiting the Park for the
first time, and hearing the criticism to which we refer applied to the
walls and bridges of the Transverse Roads, observed,--"People in this
country are so unaccustomed to see genuine substantial work, they do not
know what it means when they meet with it." We think he did not do the
people justice.

The Transverse Roads passing through the Park will not be seen from
it; and although they will not be, when deep in the shadow of the
overhanging bridges and groves, without a very grand beauty, this will
be the beauty of utility and of permanence, not of imaginative grace.
The various bridges and archways of the Park proper, while equally
thorough in their mode of construction, and consequently expensive,
are in all cases embellished each with special decorations in form and
color. These decorations have the same quality of substantiality and
thorough good workmanship. Note the clean under-cutting of the leaves,
(of which there are more than fifty different forms in the decorations
of the Terrace arch,) and their consequent sharp and expressive shadows.
Admitting the need of these structures, and the economy of a method of
construction which would render them permanent, the additional cost of
their permanent decoration in this way could not have been rationally
grudged.

Regard for the distant future has likewise controlled the planting; and
the Commissioners, in so far as they have resisted the clamor of the
day, that the Park must be immediately shaded, have done wisely. Every
horticulturist knows that this immediate shade would be purchased at an
expense of dwarfed, diseased, and deformed trees, with stinted shade, in
the future. No man has planted large and small trees together without
regretting the former within twenty years. The same consideration
answers an objection which has been made, that the trees are too much
arranged in masses of color. Imagine a growth of twenty years, with the
proper thinnings, and most of these masses will resolve each into one
tree, singled out, as the best individual of its mass, to remain. There
is a large scale in the planting, as in everything else.

Regard to the convenience, comfort, and safety of those who cannot
afford to visit the Park in carriages has led to an unusual extent and
variety of character in the walks, and also to a peculiar arrangement by
which they are carried in many instances beneath and across the line of
the carriage-roads. Thus access can be had by pedestrians to all parts
of the Park at times when the roads are thronged with vehicles, without
any delays or dangers in crossing the roads, and without the humiliation
to sensitive democrats of being spattered or dusted, or looked down upon
from luxurious equipages.

The great irregularity of the surface offers facilities for this
purpose,--the walks being carried through the heads of valleys which are
crossed by the carriage-ways upon arches of masonry. Now with regard to
these archways, if no purposes of convenience were to be served by them,
the Park would not, we may admit, be beautified by them. But we assume
that the population of New York is to be doubled; that, when it is so,
if not sooner, the walks and drives of the Park will often be densely
thronged; and, for the comfort of the people, when that shall be the
case, we consider that these archways will be absolutely necessary.[A]
Assuming further, then, that they are to be built, and, if ever, built
now,--since it would involve an entirely new-modelling of the Park to
introduce them in the future,--it was necessary to pay some attention to
make them agreeable and unmonotonous objects, or the general impression
of ease, freedom, and variety would be interfered with very materially.
It is not to make the Park architectural, as is commonly supposed, that
various and somewhat expensive _design_ is introduced; on the contrary,
it is the intention to plant closely in the vicinity of all the arches,
so that they may be unnoticed in the general effect, and be seen only
just at the time they are being used, when, of course, they must come
under notice. The charge is made, that the features of the natural
landscape have been disregarded in the plan. To which we answer, that on
the ground of the Lower Park there was originally no landscape, in the
artistic sense. There were hills, and hillocks, and rocks, and swampy
valleys. It would have been easy to flood the swamps into ponds, to
clothe the hillocks with grass and the hills with foliage, and leave the
rocks each unscathed in its picturesqueness. And this would have been a
great improvement; yet there would be no landscape: there would be
an unassociated succession of objects,--many nice "bits" of scenery,
appropriate to a villa-garden or to an artist's sketch-book, but no
scenery such as an artist arranges for his broad canvas, no composition,
no _park-like_ prospect. It would have afforded a good place for
loitering; but if this were all that was desirable, forty acres would
have done as well as a thousand, as is shown in the Ramble. Space,
breadth, objects in the distance, clear in outline, but obscure,
mysterious, exciting curiosity, in their detail, were wanting.

[Footnote A: The length of roads, walks, etc., completed, will be found
in the last Annual Report, pp. 47-52.

The length of the famous drive in Hyde Park (the King Road) is 2 1/2
miles. There is another road, straight between two gates, 1 1/4 miles in
length. "Rotten Bow" (the Ride) is a trifle over a mile in length.

The length of Drive in Central Park will be 9 1/3 miles; the length of
Bridle Roads, 5 1/3 miles; the length of Walks, 20 miles.

Ten miles of walk, gravelled and substantially underlaid, are now
finished.

Eighteen archways are planned, beside those of the Transverse Roads,
equal 1 to 46 acres. When the planting is well-grown, no two of the
archways will be visible from the same point.]

To their supply there were hard limitations. On each side, within half
a mile of each other, there were to be lines of stone and brick houses,
cutting off any great lateral distance. Suppose one to have entered
the Park at the south end, and to have moved far enough within it to
dispossess his mind of the sentiments of the streets: he will have
threaded his way between hillocks and rocks, one after another,
differing in magnitude, but never opening a landscape having breadth or
distance. He ascends a hill and looks northward: the most distant
object is the hard, straight, horizontal line of the stone wall of the
Reservoir, flanked on one side by the peak of Vista Rock. It is a little
over a mile distant,--but, standing clear out against the horizon,
appears much less than that. Hide it with foliage, as well as the houses
right and left, and the limitation of distance is a mile in front and a
quarter of a mile upon each side. Low hills or ridges of rock in a great
degree cut off the intermediate ground from view: cross these, and the
same unassociated succession of objects might be visited, but no one of
them would have engaged the visitor's attention and attracted him onward
from a distance. The plan has evidently been to make a selection of
the natural features to form the leading ideas of the new scenery, to
magnify the most important quality of each of these, and to remove or
tone down all the irregularities of the ground between them, and by all
means to make the limit of vision undefined and obscure. Thus, in the
central portion of the Lower Park the low grounds have been generally
filled, and the high grounds reduced; but the two largest areas of low
ground have been excavated, the excavation being carried laterally into
the hills as far as was possible, without extravagant removal of rock,
and the earth obtained transferred to higher ground connecting hillocks
with hills. Excavations have also been made about the base of all the
more remarkable ledges and peaks of rock, while additional material has
been conveyed to their sides and summits to increase their size and
dignity.

This general rule of the plan was calculated to give, in the first
place, breadth, and, in the second, emphasis, to any general prospect
of the Park. A want of unity, or rather, if we may use the word, of
assemblage, belonged to the ground; and it must have been one of the
first problems to establish some one conspicuous, salient idea which
should take the lead in the composition, and about which all minor
features should seem naturally to group as accessories. The straight,
evidently artificial, and hence distinctive and notable, Mall, with its
terminating Terrace, was the resolution of this problem. It will be,
when the trees are fully grown, a feature of the requisite importance,
--and will serve the further purpose of opening the view toward, and, as
it were, framing and keeping attention directed upon, Vista Rock, which
from the southern end of the Mall is the most distant object that can be
brought into view.

For the same purpose, evidently, it was thought desirable to insist,
as far as possible, upon a pause at the point where, to the visitor
proceeding northward, the whole hill-side and glen before Vista Rock
first came under view, and where an effect of distance in that direction
was yet attainable. This is provided for by the Terrace, with its
several stairs and stages, and temptations to linger and rest. The
introduction of the Lake to the northward of the Terrace also obliges a
diversion from the direct line of proceeding; the visitor's attention is
henceforth directed laterally, or held by local objects, until at length
by a circuitous route he reaches and ascends (if he chooses) the summit
of Vista Rock, when a new landscape of entirely different character, and
one not within our control, is opened to him. Thus the apparent distance
of Vista Rock from the lower part of the Park (which is increased
by means which we have not thought it necessary to describe) is not
falsified by any experience of the visitor in his subsequent journey to
it.

There was a fine and completely natural landscape in the Upper Park. The
plan only simplifies it,--removing and modifying those objects which
were incongruous with its best predominating character, and here and
there adding emphasis or shadow.

The Park (with the extension) is two and three quarter miles in length
and nearly half a mile wide. It contains 843 acres, including the
Reservoir (136 acres).

  Original cost of land to 106th Street,             $5,444,369.90
  Of this, assessed on adjoining property,            1,657,590.00
                                                      ____________
  To be paid by corporation direct,                   3,786,779.90
  Assessed value of extension land, (106th to 110th,) 1,400,000.00
                                                      ____________
  Total cost of land,                                $6,800,000.00[B]

[Footnote B: The amount thus far expended in construction and
maintenance is nearly $3,000,000. The plan upon which the work is
proceeding will require a further expenditure of $1,600,000. The
expenditure is not squandered. Much the larger part of it is paid for
day-labor. Account with laborers is kept by the hour, the rate of wages
being scarcely above the lowest contractor's rates, and 30 per cent.
below the rate of other public works of the city; always paid directly
into the laborer's hands,--in specie, however.

The thorough government of the work, and the general efficiency of its
direction, are indicated by the remarkable good order and absence of
"accidents" which have characterized it. See p. 64 of Annual Report,
1860. For some particulars of cost, see pp. 61, 62, of same Report.]

In all European parks, there is more or less land the only use of which
is to give a greater length to the roads which pass around it,--it being
out of sight, and, in American phrase, unimproved. There is not an acre
of land in Central Park, which, if not wanted for Park purposes, would
not sell for at least as much as the land surrounding the Park and
beyond its limits,--that is to say, for at least $60,000, the legal
annual interest of which is $4,200. This would be the ratio of the
annual waste of property in the case of any land not put to use; but,
in elaborating the plan, care has been taken that no part of the Park
should be without its special advantages, attractions, or valuable uses,
and that these should as far as possible be made immediately available
to the public.

The comprehensiveness of purpose and the variety of detail of the plan
far exceed those of any other park in the world, and have involved, and
continue to involve, a greater amount of study and invention than has
ever before been given to a park. A consideration of this should enforce
an unusually careful method of maintenance, both in the gardening and
police departments. Sweeping with a broom of brush-wood once a week is
well enough for a hovel; but the floors of a palace must needs be daily
waxed and polished, to justify their original cost. We are unused to
thorough gardening in this country. There are not in all the United
States a dozen lawns or grass-plots so well kept as the majority of
tradesmen's door-yards in England or Holland. Few of our citizens have
ever seen a really well-kept ground. During the last summer, much of the
Park was in a state of which the Superintendent professed himself to be
ashamed; but it caused not the slightest comment with the public, so far
as we heard. As nearly all men in office, who have not a personal taste
to satisfy, are well content, if they succeed in satisfying the public,
we fear the Superintendent will be forced to "economize" on the keeping
of the Park, as he was the past year, to a degree which will be as far
from true economy as the cleaning of mosaic floors with birch brooms.
The Park is laid out in a manner which assumes and requires cleanly and
orderly habits in those who use it; much of its good quality will be
lost, if it be not very neatly kept; and such negligence in the keeping
will tend to negligence in the using.

In the plan, there is taken for granted a generally good inclination, a
cleanly, temperate, orderly disposition, on the part of the public which
is to frequent the Park, and finally to be the governors of its keeping,
and a good, well-disposed, and well-disciplined police force, who would,
in spite of "the inabilities of a republic," adequately control the
cases exceptional to the assumed general good habits of that public,--at
the same time neglecting no precaution to facilitate the convenient
enforcement of the laws, and reduce the temptation to disorderly
practices to a minimum.

How thoroughly justified has been this confidence in the people, taking
into account the novelty of a good public ground, of cleanliness in our
public places, and indeed the novelty of the whole undertaking, we have
already intimated. How much the privileges of the Park in its present
incomplete condition are appreciated, and how generally the requirements
of order are satisfied, the following summary, compiled from the
Park-keeper's reports of the first summer's use after the roads of the
Lower Park were opened, will inadequately show.

  Number of visitors in six months.    Foot.    Saddle.    Carriages.
  May,                                184,450    8,017       26,500
  June,                               294,300    9,050       31,300
  July,                                71,035    2,710        4,945
  August,                              63,800      875       14,905
  September,                           47,433    2,645       20,708
  October,                            160,187    3,014       26,813
  Usual number of visitors on a
                 fine summer's day,     2,000       90        1,200
  Usual number of visitors on a
                       fine Sunday,    35,000       60        1,500
             (Men 20,000, Women 13,000, Children 2,000.)
  Sunday, May 29, entrances counted,   75,000      120        3,200
  Usual number of visitors,
                 fine Concert day,      7,500      180        2,500
  Saturday, Sept. 22, (Concert day,)
                  entrances counted,   13,000      225        4,650

During this time, (six months,) but thirty persons were detected upon
the Park tipsy. Of these, twenty-four were sufficiently drunk to justify
their arrest,--the remainder going quietly off the grounds, when
requested to do so. That is to say, it is not oftener than once a week
that a man is observed to be the worse for liquor while on the Park; and
this, while three to four thousand laboring men are at work within it,
are paid upon it, and grog-shops for their accommodation are all along
its boundaries. In other words, about one in thirty thousand of the
visitors to the Park has been under the influence of drink when induced
to visit it.

On Christmas and New-Year's Days, it was estimated by many experienced
reporters that over 100,000 persons, each day, were on the Park,
generally in a frolicksome mood. Of these, but one (a small boy) was
observed by the keepers to be drunk; there was not an instance of
quarrelling, and no disorderly conduct, except a generally good-natured
resistance to the efforts of the police to maintain safety on the ice.

The Bloomingdale Road and Harlem Lane, two famous trotting-courses,
where several hundred famously fast horses may be seen at the top of
their speed any fine afternoon, both touch an entrance to the Park. The
Park roads are, of course, vastly attractive to the trotters, and for
a few weeks there were daily instances of fast driving there: as soon,
however, as the law and custom of the Park, restricting speed to a
moderate rate, could be made generally understood, fast driving became
very rare,--more so, probably, than in Hyde Park or the Bois de
Boulogne. As far as possible, an arrest has been made in every case
of intentionally fast driving observed by the keepers: those arrested
number less than one to ten thousand of the vehicles entering the Park
for pleasure-driving. In each case a fine (usually three dollars) has
been imposed by the magistrate.

In six months there have been sixty-four arrests for all sorts of
"disorderly conduct," including walking on the grass after being
requested to quit it, quarrelling, firing crackers, etc.,--one in
eighteen thousand visitors. So thoroughly established is the good
conduct of people on the Park, that many ladies walk daily in the Ramble
without attendance.

A protest, as already intimated, is occasionally made against the
completeness of detail to which the Commissioners are disposed to
carry their work, on the ground that the habits of the masses of our
city-population are ill-calculated for its appreciation, and that loss
and damage to expensive work must often be the result. To which we
would answer, that, if the authorities of the city hitherto have so far
misapprehended or neglected their duty as to allow a large industrious
population to continue so long without the opportunity for public
recreations that it has grown up ignorant of the rights and duties
appertaining to the general use of a well-kept pleasure-ground, any
losses of the kind apprehended, which may in consequence occur, should
be cheerfully borne as a necessary part of the responsibility of a
good government. Experience thus far, however, does not justify these
apprehensions.

To collect exact evidence showing that the Park is already exercising a
good influence upon the character of the people is not in the nature of
the case practicable. It has been observed that rude, noisy fellows,
after entering the more advanced or finished parts of the Park, become
hushed, moderate, and careful. Observing the generally tranquil and
pleased expression, and the quiet, sauntering movement, the frequent
exclamations of pleasure in the general view or in the sight of some
special object of natural beauty, on the part of the crowds of idlers in
the Ramble on a Sunday afternoon, and recollecting the totally opposite
character of feeling, thought, purpose, and sentiment which is expressed
by a crowd assembled anywhere else, especially in the public streets of
the city, the conviction cannot well be avoided that the Park already
exercises a beneficent influence of no inconsiderable value, and of a
kind which could have been gained in no other way. We speak of Sunday
afternoons and of a crowd; but the Park evidently does induce many a
poor family, and many a poor seamstress and journeyman, to take a day or
a half-day from the working-time of the week, to the end of retaining
their youth and their youthful relations with purer Nature, and to their
gain in strength, good-humor, safe citizenship, and--if the economists
must be satisfied--money-value to the commonwealth. Already, too, there
are several thousand men, women, and children who resort to the Park
habitually: some daily, before business or after business, and women
and children at regular hours during the day; some weekly; and some at
irregular, but certain frequent chances of their business. Mr. Astor,
when in town, rarely misses his daily ride; nor Mr. Bancroft; Mr. Mayor
Harper never his drive. And there are certain working-men with their
families equally sure to be met walking on Sunday morning or Sunday
afternoon; others on Saturday. The number of these _habitues_ constantly
increases. When we meet those who depend on the Park as on the butcher
and the omnibus, and the thousands who are again drawn by whatever
impulse and suggestion of the hour, we often ask, What would they have
done, where would they have been, to what sort of recreation would they
have turned, _if to any_, had there been no park? Of one sort the answer
is supplied by the keeper of a certain saloon, who came to the Park, as
he said, to see his old Sunday customers. The enjoyment of the ice had
made them forget their grog.

Six or seven years ago, an opposition brought down the prices and
quadrupled the accommodations of the Staten Island ferry-boats. Clifton
Park and numerous German gardens were opened; and the consequence was
described, in common phrase, as the transformation of a portion of the
island, on Sunday, to a Pandemonium. We thought we would, like Dante,
have a cool look at it. We had read so much about it, and heard it
talked about and preached about so much, that we were greatly surprised
to find the throng upon the sidewalks quite as orderly and a great deal
more evidently good-natured than any we ever saw before in the United
States. We spent some time in what we had been led to suppose the
hottest place, Clifton Park, in which there was a band of music and
several thousand persons, chiefly Germans, though with a good sprinkling
of Irish servant-girls with their lovers and brothers, with beer
and ices; but we saw no rudeness, and no more impropriety, no more
excitement, no more (week-day) sin, than we had seen at the church in
the morning. Every face, however, was foreign. By-and-by came in three
Americans, talking loudly, moving rudely, proclaiming contempt for
"lager" and yelling for "liquor," bantering and offering fight, joking
coarsely, profane, noisy, demonstrative in any and every way, to the end
of attracting attention to themselves, and proclaiming that they were
"on a spree" and highly excited. They could not keep it up; they became
awkward, ill at ease, and at length silent, standing looking about them
in stupid wonder. Evidently they could not understand what it meant:
people drinking, smoking in public, on Sunday, and yet not excited, not
trying to make it a spree. It was not comprehensible. We ascertained
that one of the ferry-boat bars had disposed of an enormous stock of
lemonade, ginger-beer, and soda-water before three o'clock,--but, till
this was all gone, not half a dozen glasses of intoxicating drinks.
We saw no quarrelling, no drunkenness, and nothing like the fearful
disorder which had been described,--with a few such exceptions as we
have mentioned of native Americans who had no conception of enjoyment
free from bodily excitement.

To teach and induce habits of orderly, tranquil, contemplative, or
social amusement, moderate exercises and recreation, soothing to the
nerves, has been the most needed "mission" for New York. We think we
see daily evidence that the Park accomplishes not a little in this way.
Unfortunately, the evidence is not of a character to be expressed in
Federal currency, else the Commissioners would not be hesitating about
taking the ground from One-Hundred-and-Sixth to One-Hundred-and-Tenth
Street, because it is to cost half a million more than was anticipated.
What the Park is worth to us to-day is, we trust, but a trifle to what
it will be worth when the bulk of our hard-working people, of our
over-anxious Marthas, and our gutter-skating children shall live nearer
to it, and more generally understand what it offers them,--when its
play-grounds are ready, its walks more shaded,--when cheap and wholesome
meals, to the saving, occasionally, of the dreary housewife's daily
pottering, are to be had upon it,--when its system of cheap cabs shall
have been successfully inaugurated,--and when a daily discourse of sweet
sounds shall have been made an essential part of its functions in the
body-politic.

We shall not probably live to see "the gentility of Sir Philip Sidney
made universal," but we do hope that we shall live to know many
residents of towns of ten thousand population who will be ashamed to
subscribe for the building of new churches while no public play-ground
is being prepared for their people.




LIFE IN THE IRON-MILLS.

  "Is this the end?
  O Life, as futile, then, as frail!
  What hope of answer or redress?"


A cloudy day: do you know what that is in a town of iron-works? The sky
sank down before dawn, muddy, flat, immovable. The air is thick, clammy
with the breath of crowded human beings. It stifles me. I open the
window, and, looking out, can scarcely see through the rain the grocer's
shop opposite, where a crowd of drunken Irishmen are puffing Lynchburg
tobacco in their pipes. I can detect the scent through all the foul
smells ranging loose in the air.

The idiosyncrasy of this town is smoke. It rolls sullenly in slow folds
from the great chimneys of the iron-foundries, and settles down in
black, slimy pools on the muddy streets. Smoke on the wharves, smoke on
the dingy boats, on the yellow river,--clinging in a coating of greasy
soot to the house-front, the two faded poplars, the faces of the
passers-by. The long train of mules, dragging masses of pig-iron through
the narrow street, have a foul vapor hanging to their reeking sides.
Here, inside, is a little broken figure of an angel pointing upward from
the mantel-shelf; but even its wings are covered with smoke, clotted
and black. Smoke everywhere! A dirty canary chirps desolately in a
cage beside me. Its dream of green fields and sunshine is a very old
dream,--almost worn out, I think.

From the back-window I can see a narrow brick-yard sloping down to
the river-side, strewed with rain-butts and tubs. The river, dull and
tawny-colored, _(la belle riviere!)_ drags itself sluggishly along,
tired of the heavy weight of boats and coal-barges. What wonder? When I
was a child, I used to fancy a look of weary, dumb appeal upon the face
of the negro-like river slavishly bearing its burden day after day.
Something of the same idle notion comes to me to-day, when from the
street-window I look on the slow stream of human life creeping past,
night and morning, to the great mills. Masses of men, with dull,
besotted faces bent to the ground, sharpened here and there by pain
or cunning; skin and muscle and flesh begrimed with smoke and ashes;
stooping all night over boiling caldrons of metal, laired by day in
dens of drunkenness and infamy; breathing from infancy to death an air
saturated with fog and grease and soot, vileness for soul and body. What
do you make of a case like that, amateur psychologist? You call it an
altogether serious thing to be alive: to these men it is a drunken jest,
a joke,--horrible to angels perhaps, to them commonplace enough. My
fancy about the river was an idle one: it is no type of such a life.
What if it be stagnant and slimy here? It knows that beyond there waits
for it odorous sunlight,--quaint old gardens, dusky with soft, green
foliage of apple-trees, and flushing crimson with roses,--air, and
fields, and mountains. The future of the Welsh puddler passing just now
is not so pleasant. To be stowed away, after his grimy work is done, in
a hole in the muddy graveyard, and after that,--_not_ air, nor green
fields, nor curious roses.

Can you see how foggy the day is? As I stand here, idly tapping the
window-pane, and looking out through the rain at the dirty back-yard and
the coal-boats below, fragments of an old story float up before me,--a
story of this old house into which I happened to come to-day. You may
think it a tiresome story enough, as foggy as the day, sharpened by no
sudden flashes of pain or pleasure.--I know: only the outline of a dull
life, that long since, with thousands of dull lives like its own, was
vainly lived and lost: thousands of them,--massed, vile, slimy lives,
like those of the torpid lizards in yonder stagnant water-butt.--Lost?
There is a curious point for you to settle, my friend, who study
psychology in a lazy, _dilettante_ way. Stop a moment. I am going to be
honest. This is what I want you to do. I want you to hide your disgust,
take no heed to your clean clothes, and come right down with me,--here,
into the thickest of the fog and mud and foul effluvia. I want you to
hear this story. There is a secret down here, in this nightmare fog,
that has lain dumb for centuries: I want to make it a real thing to you.
You, Egoist, or Pantheist, or Arminian, busy in making straight paths
for your feet on the hills, do not see it clearly,--this terrible
question which men here have gone mad and died trying to answer. I dare
not put this secret into words. I told you it was dumb. These men, going
by with drunken faces and brains full of unawakened power, do not ask it
of Society or of God. Their lives ask it; their deaths ask it. There is
no reply. I will tell you plainly that I have a great hope; and I bring
it to you to be tested. It is this: that this terrible dumb question is
its own reply; that it is not the sentence of death we think it, but,
from the very extremity of its darkness, the most solemn prophecy which
the world has known of the Hope to come. I dare make my meaning no
clearer, but will only tell my story. It will, perhaps, seem to you as
foul and dark as this thick vapor about us, and as pregnant with death;
but if your eyes are free as mine are to look deeper, no perfume-tinted
dawn will be so fair with promise of the day that shall surely come.

My story is very simple,--only what I remember of the life of one
of these men,--a furnace-tender in one of Kirby & John's
rolling-mills,--Hugh Wolfe. You know the mills? They took the great
order for the Lower Virginia railroads there last winter; run usually
with about a thousand men. I cannot tell why I choose the half-forgotten
story of this Wolfe more than that of myriads of these furnace-hands.
Perhaps because there is a secret underlying sympathy between that story
and this day with its impure fog and thwarted sunshine,--or perhaps
simply for the reason that this house is the one where the Wolfes lived.
There were the father and son,--both hands, as I said, in one of Kirby
& John's mills for making railroad-iron,--and Deborah, their cousin, a
picker in some of the cotton-mills. The house was rented then to half
a dozen families. The Wolfes had two of the cellar-rooms. The old man,
like many of the puddlers and feeders of the mills, was Welsh,--had
spent half of his life in the Cornish tin-mines. You may pick the Welsh
emigrants, Cornish miners, out of the throng passing the windows, any
day. They are a trifle more filthy; their muscles are not so brawny;
they stoop more. When they are drunk, they neither yell, nor shout, nor
stagger, but skulk along like beaten hounds. A pure, unmixed blood, I
fancy: shows itself in the slight angular bodies and sharply-cut facial
lines. It is nearly thirty years since the Wolfes lived here. Their
lives were like those of their class: incessant labor, sleeping in
kennel-like rooms, eating rank pork and molasses, drinking--God and the
distillers only know what; with an occasional night in jail, to atone
for some drunken excess. Is that all of their lives?--of the portion
given to them and these their duplicates swarming the streets to-day?
--nothing beneath?--all? So many a political reformer will tell
you,--and many a private reformer, too, who has gone among them with a
heart tender with Christ's charity, and come out outraged, hardened.

One rainy night, about eleven o'clock, a crowd of half-clothed women
stopped outside of the cellar-door. They were going home from the
cotton-mill.

"Good-night, Deb," said one, a mulatto, steadying herself against the
gas-post. She needed the post to steady her. So did more than one of
them.

"Dah's a ball to Miss Potts' to-night. Ye'd best come."

"Inteet, Deb, if hur 'll come, hur 'll hef fun," said a shrill Welsh
voice in the crowd.

Two or three dirty hands were thrust out to catch the gown of the woman,
who was groping for the latch of the door.

"No."

"No? Where's Kit Small, then?"

"Begorra! on the spools. Alleys behint, though we helped her, we dud.
An wid ye! Let Deb alone! It's ondacent frettin' a quite body. Be
the powers, an' we'll have a night of it! there'll be lashin's o'
drink,--the Vargent be blessed and praised for 't!"

They went on, the mulatto inclining for a moment to show fight, and drag
the woman Wolfe off with them; but, being pacified, she staggered away.

Deborah groped her way into the cellar, and, after considerable
stumbling, kindled a match, and lighted a tallow dip, that sent a yellow
glimmer over the room. It was low, damp,--the earthen floor covered with
a green, slimy moss,--a fetid air smothering the breath. Old Wolfe lay
asleep on a heap of straw, wrapped in a torn horse-blanket. He was a
pale, meek little man, with a white face and red rabbit-eyes. The woman
Deborah was like him; only her face was even more ghastly, her lips
bluer, her eyes more watery. She wore a faded cotton gown and a
slouching bonnet. When she walked, one could see that she was deformed,
almost a hunchback. She trod softly, so as not to waken him, and went
through into the room beyond. There she found by the half-extinguished
fire an iron saucepan filled with cold boiled potatoes, which she put
upon a broken chair with a pint-cup of ale. Placing the old candlestick
beside this dainty repast, she untied her bonnet, which hung limp and
wet over her face, and prepared to eat her supper. It was the first
food that had touched her lips since morning. There was enough of it,
however: there is not always. She was hungry,--one could see that easily
enough,--and not drunk, as most of her companions would have been found
at this hour. She did not drink, this woman,--her face told that,
too,--nothing stronger than ale. Perhaps the weak, flaccid wretch had
some stimulant in her pale life to keep her up,--some love or hope, it
might be, or urgent need. When that stimulant was gone, she would take
to whiskey. Man cannot live by work alone. While she was skinning the
potatoes, and munching them, a noise behind her made her stop.

"Janey!" she called, lifting the candle and peering into the darkness.
"Janey, are you there?"

A heap of ragged coats was heaved up, and the face of a young girl
emerged, staring sleepily at the woman.

"Deborah," she said, at last, "I'm here the night."

"Yes, child. Hur's welcome," she said, quietly eating on.

The girl's face was haggard and sickly; her eyes were heavy with sleep
and hunger: real Milesian eyes they were, dark, delicate blue, glooming
out from black shadows with a pitiful fright.

"I was alone," she said, timidly.

"Where's the father?" asked Deborah, holding out a potato, which the
girl greedily seized.

"He's beyant,--wid Haley,--in the stone house." (Did you ever hear the
word _jail_ from an Irish mouth?) "I came here. Hugh told me never to
stay me-lone."

"Hugh?"

"Yes."

A vexed frown crossed her face. The girl saw it, and added quickly,--

"I have not seen Hugh the day, Deb. The old man says his watch lasts
till the mornin'."

The woman sprang up, and hastily began to arrange some bread and flitch
in a tin pail, and to pour her own measure of ale into a bottle. Tying
on her bonnet, she blew out the candle.

"Lay ye down, Janey dear," she said, gently, covering her with the old
rags. "Hur can eat the potatoes, if hur 's hungry."

"Where are ye goin', Deb? The rain 's sharp."

"To the mill, with Hugh's supper."

"Let him hide till th' morn. Sit ye down."

"No, no,"--sharply pushing her off. "The boy'll starve."

She hurried from the cellar, while the child wearily coiled herself up
for sleep. The rain was falling heavily, as the woman, pail in hand,
emerged from the mouth of the alley, and turned down the narrow street,
that stretched out, long and black, miles before her. Here and there a
flicker of gas lighted an uncertain space of muddy footwalk and gutter;
the long rows of houses, except an occasional lager-bier shop, were
closed; now and then she met a band of mill-hands skulking to or from
their work.

Not many even of the inhabitants of a manufacturing town know the vast
machinery of system by which the bodies of workmen are governed, that
goes on unceasingly from year to year. The hands of each mill are
divided into watches that relieve each other as regularly as the
sentinels of an army. By night and day the work goes on, the unsleeping
engines groan and shriek, the fiery pools of metal boil and surge. Only
for a day in the week, in half-courtesy to public censure, the fires are
partially veiled; but as soon as the clock strikes midnight, the great
furnaces break forth with renewed fury, the clamor begins with fresh,
breathless vigor, the engines sob and shriek like "gods in pain."

As Deborah hurried down through the heavy rain, the noise of these
thousand engines sounded through the sleep and shadow of the city like
far-off thunder. The mill to which she was going lay on the river, a
mile below the city-limits. It was far, and she was weak, aching from
standing twelve hours at the spools. Yet it was her almost nightly walk
to take this man his supper, though at every square she sat down to
rest, and she knew she should receive small word of thanks.

Perhaps, if she had possessed an artist's eye, the picturesque oddity
of the scene might have made her step stagger less, and the path seem
shorter; but to her the mills were only "summat deilish to look at by
night."

The road leading to the mills had been quarried from the solid rock,
which rose abrupt and bare on one side of the cinder-covered road, while
the river, sluggish and black, crept past on the other. The mills for
rolling iron are simply immense tent-like roofs, covering acres of
ground, open on every side. Beneath these roofs Deborah looked in on a
city of fires, that burned hot and fiercely in the night. Fire in every
horrible form: pits of flame waving in the wind; liquid metal-flames
writhing in tortuous streams through the sand; wide caldrons filled with
boiling fire, over which bent ghastly wretches stirring the strange
brewing; and through all, crowds of half-clad men, looking like
revengeful ghosts in the red light, hurried, throwing masses of
glittering fire. It was like a street in Hell. Even Deborah muttered, as
she crept through, "'T looks like t' Devil's place!" It did,--in more
ways than one.

She found the man she was looking for, at last, heaping coal on a
furnace. He had not time to eat his supper; so she went behind the
furnace, and waited. Only a few men were with him, and they noticed her
only by a "Hyur comes t' hunchback, Wolfe."

Deborah was stupid with sleep; her back pained her sharply; and her
teeth chattered with cold, with the rain that soaked her clothes and
dripped from her at every step. She stood, however, patiently holding
the pail, and waiting.

"Hout, woman! ye look like a drowned cat. Come near to the fire,"--said
one of the men, approaching to scrape away the ashes.

She shook her head. Wolfe had forgotten her. He turned, hearing the man,
and came closer.

"I did no' think; gi' me my supper, woman."

She watched him eat with a painful eagerness. With a woman's quick
instinct, she saw that he was not hungry,--was eating to please her.
Her pale, watery eyes began to gather a strange light.

"Is't good, Hugh? T'ale was a bit sour, I feared."

"No, good enough." He hesitated a moment. "Ye're tired, poor lass! Bide
here till I go. Lay down there on that heap of ash, and go to sleep."

He threw her an old coat for a pillow, and turned to his work. The
heap was the refuse of the burnt iron, and was not a hard bed; the
half-smothered warmth, too, penetrated her limbs, dulling their pain and
cold shiver.

Miserable enough she looked, lying there on the ashes like a limp,
dirty rag,--yet not an unfitting figure to crown the scene of hopeless
discomfort and veiled crime: more fitting, if one looked deeper into the
heart of things,--at her thwarted woman's form, her colorless life, her
waking stupor that smothered pain and hunger,--even more fit to be a
type of her class. Deeper yet if one could look, was there nothing worth
reading in this wet, faded thing, half-covered with ashes? no story of a
soul filled with groping passionate love, heroic unselfishness, fierce
jealousy? of years of weary trying to please the one human being whom
she loved, to gain one look of real heart-kindness from him? If anything
like this were hidden beneath the pale, bleared eyes, and dull,
washed-out-looking face, no one had ever taken the trouble to read its
faint signs: not the half-clothed furnace-tender, Wolfe, certainly. Yet
he was kind to her: it was his nature to be kind, even to the very rats
that swarmed in the cellar: kind to her in just the same way. She knew
that. And it might be that very knowledge had given to her face its
apathy and vacancy more than her low, torpid life. One sees that
dead, vacant look steal sometimes over the rarest, finest of women's
faces,--in the very midst, it may be, of their warmest summer's day; and
then one can guess at the secret of intolerable solitude that lies hid
beneath the delicate laces and brilliant smile. There was no warmth, no
brilliancy, no summer for this woman; so the stupor and vacancy had time
to gnaw into her face perpetually. She was young, too, though no one
guessed it; so the gnawing was the fiercer.

She lay quiet in the dark corner, listening, through the monotonous din
and uncertain glare of the works, to the dull plash of the rain in the
far distance,--shrinking back whenever the man Wolfe happened to look
towards her. She knew, in spite of all his kindness, that there was that
in her face and form which made him loathe the sight of her. She felt by
instinct, although she could not comprehend it, the finer nature of
the man, which made him among his fellow-workmen something unique, set
apart. She knew, that, down under all the vileness and coarseness of
his life, there was a groping passion for whatever was beautiful and
pure,--that his soul sickened with disgust at her deformity, even when
his words were kindest. Through this dull consciousness, which never
left her, came, like a sting, the recollection of the dark blue eyes and
lithe figure of the little Irish girl she had left in the cellar. The
recollection struck through even her stupid intellect with a vivid glow
of beauty and of grace. Little Janey, timid, helpless, clinging to Hugh
as her only friend: that was the sharp thought, the bitter thought, that
drove into the glazed eyes a fierce light of pain. You laugh at it? Are
pain and jealousy less savage realities down here in this place I am
taking you to than in your own house or your own heart,--your heart,
which they clutch at sometimes? The note is the same, I fancy, be the
octave high or low.

If you could go into this mill where Deborah lay, and drag out from the
hearts of these men the terrible tragedy of their lives, taking it as a
symptom of the disease of their class, no ghost Horror would terrify
you more. A reality of soul-starvation, of living death, that meets you
every day under the besotted faces on the street,--I can paint nothing
of this, only give you the outside outlines of a night, a crisis in the
life of one man: whatever muddy depth of soul-history lies beneath you
can read according to the eyes God has given you.

Wolfe, while Deborah watched him as a spaniel its master, bent over the
furnace with his iron pole, unconscious of her scrutiny, only stopping
to receive orders. Physically, Nature had promised the man but little.
He had already lost the strength and instinct vigor of a man, his
muscles were thin, his nerves weak, his face (a meek, woman's face)
haggard, yellow with consumption. In the mill he was known as one of the
girl-men: "Molly Wolfe" was his _sobriquet_. He was never seen, in
the cockpit, did not own a terrier, drank but seldom; when he did,
desperately. He fought sometimes, but was always thrashed, pommelled to
a jelly. The man was game enough, when his blood was up: but he was no
favorite in the mill; he had the taint of school-learning on him,--not
to a dangerous extent, only a quarter or so in the free-school in fact,
but enough to ruin him as a good hand in a fight.

For other reasons, too, he was not popular. Not one of themselves, they
felt that, though outwardly as filthy and ash-covered; silent, with
foreign thoughts and longings breaking out through his quietness in
innumerable curious ways: this one, for instance. In the neighboring
furnace-buildings lay great heaps of the refuse from the ore after the
pig-metal is run. _Korl_ we call it here: a light, porous substance, of
a delicate, waxen, flesh-colored tinge. Out of the blocks of this korl,
Wolfe, in his off-hours from the furnace, had a habit of chipping and
moulding figures,--hideous, fantastic enough, but sometimes strangely
beautiful: even the mill-men saw that, while they jeered at him. It was
a curious fancy in the man, almost a passion. The few hours for rest he
spent hewing and hacking with his blunt knife, never speaking, until his
watch came again,--working at one figure for months, and, when it was
finished, breaking it to pieces perhaps, in a fit of disappointment. A
morbid, gloomy man, untaught, unled, left to feed his soul in grossness
and crime, and hard, grinding labor.

I want you to come down and look at this Wolfe, standing there among the
lowest of his kind, and see him just as he is, that you may judge him
justly when you hear the story of this night. I want you to look back,
as he does every day, at his birth in vice, his starved infancy; to
remember the heavy years he has groped through as boy and man,--the
slow, heavy years of constant, hot work. So long ago he began, that he
thinks sometimes he has worked there for ages. There is no hope that it
will ever end. Think that God put into this man's soul a fierce thirst
for beauty,--to know it, to create it; to _be_--something, he knows not
what,--other than he is. There are moments when a passing cloud, the sun
glinting on the purple thistles, a kindly smile, a child's face, will
rouse him to a passion of pain,--when his nature starts up with a mad
cry of rage against God, man, whoever it is that has forced this vile,
slimy life upon him. With all this groping, this mad desire, a great
blind intellect stumbling through wrong, a loving poet's heart, the man
was by habit only a coarse, vulgar laborer, familiar with sights and
words you would blush to name. Be just; when I tell you about this
night, see him as he is. Be just,--not like man's law, which seizes on
one isolated fact, but like God's judging angel, whose clear, sad
eye saw all the countless cankering days of this man's life, all the
countless nights, when, sick with starving, his soul fainted in him,
before it judged him for this night, the saddest of all.

I called this night the crisis of his life. If it was, it stole on him
unawares. These great turning-days of life cast no shadow before, slip
by unconsciously. Only a trifle, a little turn of the rudder, and the
ship goes to heaven or hell.

Wolfe, while Deborah watched him, dug into the furnace of melting iron
with his pole, dully thinking only how many rails the lump would yield.
It was late,--nearly Sunday morning; another hour, and the heavy work
would be done,--only the furnaces to replenish and cover for the next
day. The workmen were growing more noisy, shouting, as they had to do,
to be heard over the deep clamor of the mills. Suddenly they grew less
boisterous,--at the far end, entirely silent. Something unusual had
happened. After a moment, the silence came nearer; the men stopped their
jeers and drunken choruses. Deborah, stupidly lifting up her head,
saw the cause of the quiet. A group of five or six men were slowly
approaching, stopping to examine each furnace as they came. Visitors
often came to see the mills after night: except by growing less noisy,
the men took no notice of them. The furnace where Wolfe worked was near
the bounds of the works; they halted there hot and tired: a walk over
one of these great foundries is no trifling task. The woman, drawing out
of sight, turned over to sleep. Wolfe, seeing them stop, suddenly roused
from his indifferent stupor, and watched them keenly. He knew some
of them: the overseer, Clarke,--a son of Kirby, one of the
mill-owners,--and a Doctor May, one of the town-physicians. The other
two were strangers. Wolfe came closer. He seized eagerly every chance
that brought him into contact with this mysterious class that shone down
on him perpetually with the glamour of another order of being. What made
the difference between them? That was the mystery of his life. He had
a vague notion that perhaps to-night he could find it out. One of the
strangers sat down on a pile of bricks, and beckoned young Kirby to his
side.

"This _is_ hot, with a vengeance. A match, please?"--lighting his cigar.
"But the walk is worth the trouble. If it were not that you must have
heard it so often, Kirby, I would tell you that your works look like
Dante's Inferno."

Kirby laughed.

"Yes. Yonder is Farinata himself in the burning tomb,"--pointing to some
figure in the shimmering shadows.

"Judging from some of the faces of your men," said the other, "they bid
fair to try the reality of Dante's vision, some day."

Young Kirby looked curiously around, as if seeing the faces of his hands
for the first time.

"They're bad enough, that's true. A desperate set, I fancy. Eh, Clarke?"

The overseer did not hear him. He was talking of net profits just
then,--giving, in fact, a schedule of the annual business of the firm to
a sharp peering little Yankee, who jotted down notes on a paper laid on
the crown of his hat: a reporter for one of the city-papers, getting up
a series of reviews of the leading manufactories. The other gentlemen
had accompanied them merely for amusement. They were silent until the
notes were finished, drying their feet at the furnaces, and sheltering
their faces from the intolerable heat. At last the overseer concluded
with--"I believe that is a pretty fair estimate, Captain."

"Here, some of you men!" said Kirby, "bring up those boards. We may as
well sit down, gentlemen, until the rain is over. It cannot last much
longer at this rate."

"Pig-metal,"--mumbled the reporter,--"um!--coal facilities,--um!--hands
employed, twelve hundred,--bitumen,--um!--'all right, I believe, Mr.
Clarke;--sinking-fund,--what did you say was your sinking-fund?"

"Twelve hundred hands?" said the stranger, the young man who had first
spoken. "Do you control their votes, Kirby?"

"Control? No." The young man smiled complacently. "But my father brought
seven hundred votes to the polls for his candidate last November. No
force-work, you understand,--only a speech or two, a hint to form
themselves into a society, and a bit of red and blue bunting to make
them a flag. The Invincible Roughs,--I believe that is their name. I
forget the motto: 'Our country's hope,' I think."

There was a laugh. The young man talking to Kirby sat with an amused
light in his cool gray eye, surveying critically the half-clothed
figures of the puddlers, and the slow swing of their brawny muscles. He
was a stranger in the city,--spending a couple of months in the
borders of a Slave State, to study the institutions of the South,--a
brother-in-law of Kirby's,--Mitchell. He was an amateur gymnast,--hence
his anatomical eye; a patron, in a _blase_ way, of the prize-ring; a man
who sucked the essence out of a science or philosophy in an indifferent,
gentlemanly way; who took Kant, Novalis, Humboldt, for what they were
worth in his own scales; accepting all, despising nothing, in heaven,
earth, or hell, but one-idead men; with a temper yielding and brilliant
as summer water, until his Self was touched, when it was ice, though
brilliant still. Such men are not rare in the States.

As he knocked the ashes from his cigar, Wolfe caught with a quick
pleasure the contour of the white hand, the blood-glow of a red ring he
wore. His voice, too, and that of Kirby's, touched him like music,--low,
even, with chording cadences. About this man Mitchell hung the
impalpable atmosphere belonging to the thorough-bred gentleman. Wolfe,
scraping away the ashes beside him, was conscious of it, did obeisance
to it with his artist sense, unconscious that he did so.

The rain did not cease. Clarke and the reporter left the mills; the
others, comfortably seated near the furnace, lingered, smoking
and talking in a desultory way. Greek would not have been more
unintelligible to the furnace-tenders, whose presence they soon forgot
entirely. Kirby drew out a newspaper from his pocket and read aloud some
article, which they discussed eagerly. At every sentence, Wolfe listened
more and more like a dumb, hopeless animal, with a duller, more stolid
look creeping over his face, glancing now and then at Mitchell, marking
acutely every smallest sign of refinement, then back to himself, seeing
as in a mirror his filthy body, his more stained soul.

Never! He had no words for such a thought, but he knew now, in all the
sharpness of the bitter certainty, that between them there was a great
gulf never to be passed. Never!

The bell of the mills rang for midnight. Sunday morning had dawned.
Whatever hidden message lay in the tolling bells floated past these men
unknown. Yet it was there. Veiled in the solemn music ushering the risen
Saviour was a key-note to solve the darkest secrets of a world gone
wrong,--even this social riddle which the brain of the grimy puddler
grappled with madly to-night.

The men began to withdraw the metal from the caldrons. The mills were
deserted on Sundays, except by the hands who fed the fires, and those
who had no lodgings and slept usually on the ash-heaps. The three
strangers sat still during the next hour, watching the men cover the
furnaces, laughing now and then at some jest of Kirby's.

"Do you know," said Mitchell, "I like this view of the works better than
when the glare was fiercest? These heavy shadows and the amphitheatre
of smothered fires are ghostly, unreal. One could fancy these red
smouldering lights to be the half-shut eyes of wild beasts, and the
spectral figures their victims in the den."

Kirby laughed. "You are fanciful. Come, let us get out of the den. The
spectral figures, as you call them, are a little too real for me to
fancy a close proximity in the darkness,--unarmed, too."

The others rose, buttoning their overcoats, and lighting cigars.

"Raining, still," said Doctor May, "and hard. Where did we leave the
coach, Mitchell?"

"At the other side of the works.--Kirby, what's that?"

Mitchell started back, half-frightened, as, suddenly turning a corner,
the white figure of a woman faced him in the darkness,--a woman, white,
of giant proportions, crouching on the ground, her arms flung out in
some wild gesture of warning.

"Stop! Make that fire burn there!" cried Kirby, stopping short.

The flame burst out, flashing the gaunt figure into bold relief.

Mitchell drew a long breath.

"I thought it was alive," he said, going up curiously.

The others followed.

"Not marble, eh?" asked Kirby, touching it.

One of the lower overseers stopped.

"Korl, Sir."

"Who did it?"

"Can't say. Some of the hands; chipped it out in off-hours."

"Chipped to some purpose, I should say. What a flesh-tint the stuff has!
Do you see, Mitchell?"

"I see."

He had stepped aside where the light fell boldest on the figure, looking
at it in silence. There was not one line of beauty or grace in it: a
nude woman's form, muscular, grown coarse with labor, the powerful limbs
instinct with some one poignant longing. One idea: there it was in the
tense, rigid muscles, the clutching hands, the wild, eager face, like
that of a starving wolf's. Kirby and Doctor May walked around it,
critical, curious. Mitchell stood aloof, silent. The figure touched him
strangely.

"Not badly done," said Doctor May. "Where did the fellow learn that
sweep of the muscles in the arm and hand? Look at them! They are
groping,--do you see?--clutching: the peculiar action of a man dying of
thirst."

"They have ample facilities for studying anatomy," sneered Kirby,
glancing at the half-naked figures.

"Look," continued the Doctor, "at this bony wrist, and the strained
sinews of the instep! A working-woman,--the very type of her class."

"God forbid!" muttered Mitchell.

"Why?" demanded May. "What does the fellow intend by the figure? I
cannot catch the meaning."

"Ask him," said the other, dryly. "There he stands,"--pointing to Wolfe,
who stood with a group of men, leaning on his ash-rake.

The Doctor beckoned him with the affable smile which kind-hearted men
put on, when talking to these people.

"Mr. Mitchell has picked you out as the man who did this,--I'm sure I
don't know why. But what did you mean by it?"

"She be hungry."

Wolfe's eyes answered Mitchell, not the Doctor.

"Oh-h! But what a mistake you have made, my fine fellow! You have given
no sign of starvation to the body. It is strong,--terribly strong. It
has the mad, half-despairing gesture of drowning."

Wolfe stammered, glanced appealingly at Mitchell, who saw the soul of
the thing, he knew. But the cool, probing eyes were turned on himself
now,--mocking, cruel, relentless.

"Not hungry for meat," the furnace-tender said at last.

"What then? Whiskey?" jeered Kirby, with a coarse laugh.

Wolfe was silent a moment, thinking.

"I dunno," he said, with a bewildered look. "It mebbe. Summat to make
her live, I think,--like you. Whiskey ull do it, in a way."

The young man laughed again. Mitchell flashed a look of disgust
somewhere,--not at Wolfe.

"May," he broke out impatiently, "are you blind? Look at that woman's
face! It asks questions of God, and says, 'I have a right to know.' Good
God, how hungry it is!"

They looked a moment; then May turned to the mill-owner:--

"Have you many such hands as this? What are you going to do with them?
Keep them at puddling iron?"

Kirby shrugged his shoulders. Mitchell's look had irritated him.

"_Ce n'est pas mon affaire_. I have no fancy for nursing infant
geniuses. I suppose there are some stray gleams of mind and soul among
these wretches. The Lord will take care of his own; or else they can
work out their own salvation. I have heard you call our American system
a ladder which any man can scale. Do you doubt it? Or perhaps you want
to banish all social ladders, and put us all on a flat table-land,--eh,
May?"

The Doctor looked vexed, puzzled. Some terrible problem lay hid in this
woman's face, and troubled these men. Kirby waited for an answer, and,
receiving none, went on, warning with his subject.

"I tell you, there's something wrong that no talk of '_Liberte_' or
'_Egalite_' will do away. If I had the making of men, these men who
do the lowest part of the world's work should be machines,--nothing
more,--hands. It would be kindness. God help them! What are taste,
reason, to creatures who must live such lives as that?" He pointed to
Deborah, sleeping on the ash-heap. "So many nerves to sting them to
pain. What if God had put your brain, with all its agony of touch, into
your fingers, and bid you work and strike with that?"

"You think you could govern the world better?" laughed the Doctor.

"I do not think at all."

"That is true philosophy. Drift with the stream, because you cannot dive
deep enough to find bottom, eh?"

"Exactly," rejoined Kirby. "I do not think. I wash my hands of all
social problems,--slavery, caste, white or black. My duty to my
operatives has a narrow limit,--the pay-hour on Saturday night. Outside
of that, if they cut korl, or cut each other's throats, (the more
popular amusement of the two,) I am not responsible."

The Doctor sighed,--a good honest sigh, from the depths of his stomach.

"God help us! Who is responsible?"

"Not I, I tell you," said Kirby, testily. "What has the man who pays
them money to do with their souls' concerns, more than the grocer or
butcher who takes it?"

"And yet," said Mitchell's cynical voice, "look at her! How hungry she
is!"

Kirby tapped his boot with his cane. No one spoke. Only the dumb face of
the rough image looking into their faces with the awful question, "What
shall we do to be saved?" Only Wolfe's face, with its heavy weight of
brain, its weak, uncertain mouth, its desperate eyes, out of which
looked the soul of his class,--only Wolfe's face turned towards Kirby's.
Mitchell laughed,--a cool, musical laugh.

"Money has spoken!" he said, seating himself lightly on a stone with the
air of an amused spectator at a play. "Are you answered?"--turning to
Wolfe his clear, magnetic face.

Bright and deep and cold as Arctic air, the soul of the man lay tranquil
beneath. He looked at the furnace-tender as he had looked at a rare
mosaic in the morning; only the man was the more amusing study of the
two.

"Are you answered? Why, May, look at him! '_De profundis clamavi_.' Or,
to quote in English, 'Hungry and thirsty, his soul faints in him.' And
so Money sends back its answer into the depths through you, Kirby!
Very clear the answer, too!--I think I remember reading the same words
somewhere:--washing your hands in Eau de Cologne, and saying, 'I am
innocent of the blood of this man. See ye to it!'"

Kirby flushed angrily.

"You quote Scripture freely."

"Do I not quote correctly? I think I remember another line, which may
amend my meaning: 'Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of the least of these,
ye did it unto me.' Deist? Bless you, man, I was raised on the milk of
the Word. Now, Doctor, the pocket of the world having uttered its
voice, what has the heart to say? You are a philanthropist, in a small
way,--_n'est ce pas_? Here, boy, this gentleman can show you how to cut
korl better,--or your destiny. Go on, May!"

"I think a mocking devil possesses you to-night," rejoined the Doctor,
seriously.

He went to Wolfe and put his hand kindly on his arm. Something of a
vague idea possessed the Doctor's brain that much good was to be done
here by a friendly word or two: a latent genius to be warmed into life
by a waited-for sunbeam. Here it was: he had brought it. So he went on
complacently:--

"Do you know, boy, you have it in you to be a great sculptor, a great
man?--do you understand?" (talking down to the capacity of his hearer:
it is a way people have with children, and men like Wolfe,)--"to live a
better, stronger life than I, or Mr. Kirby here? A man may make himself
anything he chooses. God has given you stronger powers than many
men,--me, for instance."

May stopped, heated, glowing with his own magnanimity. And it was
magnanimous. The puddler had drunk in every word, looking through the
Doctor's flurry, and generous heat, and self-approval, into his will,
with those slow, absorbing eyes of his.

"Make yourself what you will. It is your right."

"I know," quietly. "Will you help me?"

Mitchell laughed again. The Doctor turned now, in a passion,--

"You know, Mitchell, I have not the means. You know, if I had, it is in
my heart to take this boy and educate him for"----

"The glory of God, and the glory of John May."

May did not speak for a moment; then, controlled, he said,--

"Why should one be raised, when myriads are left?--I have not the money,
boy," to Wolfe, shortly.

"Money?" He said it over slowly, as one repeals the guessed answer to a
riddle, doubtfully. "That is it? Money?"

"Yes, money,--that is it," said Mitchell, rising, and drawing his
furred coat about him. "You've found the cure for all the world's
diseases.--Come, May, find your good-humor, and come home. This damp
wind chills my very bones. Come and preach your Saint-Simonian doctrines
to-morrow to Kirby's hands. Let them have a clear idea of the rights of
the soul, and I'll venture next week they'll strike for higher wages.
That will be the end of it."

"Will you send the coach-driver to this side of the mills?" asked Kirby,
turning to Wolfe.

He spoke kindly: it was his habit to do so. Deborah, seeing the puddler
go, crept after him. The three men waited outside. Doctor May walked up
and down, chafed. Suddenly he stopped.

"Go back, Mitchell! You say the pocket and the heart of the world speak
without meaning to these people. What has its head to say? Taste,
culture, refinement? Go!"

Mitchell was leaning against a brick wall. He turned his head
indolently, and looked into the mills. There hung about the place a
thick, unclean odor. The slightest motion of his hand marked that he
perceived it, and his insufferable disgust. That was all. May said
nothing, only quickened his angry tramp.

"Besides," added Mitchell, giving a corollary to his answer, "it would
be of no use. I am not one of them."

"You do not mean"--said May, facing him.

"Yes, I mean just that. Reform is born of need, not pity. No vital
movement of the people's has worked down, for good or evil; fermented,
instead, carried up the heaving, cloggy mass. Think back through
history, and you will know it. What will this lowest deep--thieves,
Magdalens, negroes--do with the light filtered through ponderous Church
creeds, Baconian theories, Goethe schemes? Some day, out of their bitter
need will be thrown up their own light-bringer,--their Jean Paul, their
Cromwell, their Messiah."

"Bah!" was the Doctor's inward criticism. However, in practice, he
adopted the theory; for, when, night and morning, afterwards, he prayed
that power might be given these degraded souls to rise, he glowed at
heart, recognizing an accomplished duty.

Wolfe and the woman had stood in the shadow of the works as the coach
drove off. The Doctor had held out his hand in a frank, generous way,
telling him to "take care of himself, and to remember it was his right
to rise." Mitchell had simply touched his hat, as to an equal, with a
quiet look of thorough recognition. Kirby had thrown Deborah some money,
which she found, and clutched eagerly enough. They were gone now, all
of them. The man sat down on the cinder-road, looking up into the murky
sky.

"'T be late, Hugh. Wunnot hur come?"

He shook his head doggedly, and the woman crouched out of his sight
against the wall. Do you remember rare moments when a sudden
light flashed over yourself, your world, God? when you stood on a
mountain-peak, seeing your life as it might have been, as it is? one
quick instant, when custom lost its force and every-day usage? when your
friend, wife, brother, stood in a new light? your soul was bared, and
the grave,--a foretaste of the nakedness of the Judgment-Day? So it came
before him, his life, that night. The slow tides of pain he had borne
gathered themselves up and surged against his soul. His squalid daily
life, the brutal coarseness eating into his brain, as the ashes into
his skin: before, these things had been a dull aching into his
consciousness; to-night, they were reality. He griped the filthy red
shirt that clung, stiff with soot, about him, and tore it savagely from
his arm. The flesh beneath was muddy with grease and ashes,--and the
heart beneath that! And the soul? God knows.

Then flashed before his vivid poetic sense the man who had left
him,--the pure face, the delicate, sinewy limbs, in harmony with all he
knew of beauty or truth. In his cloudy fancy he had pictured a Something
like this. He had found it in this Mitchell, even when he idly scoffed
at his pain: a Man all-knowing, all-seeing, crowned by Nature,
reigning,--the keen glance of his eye falling like a sceptre on other
men. And yet his instinct taught him that he too--He! He looked at
himself with sudden loathing, sick, wrung his hands with a cry, and then
was silent. With all the phantoms of his heated, ignorant fancy, Wolfe
had not been vague in his ambitious. They were practical, slowly built
up before him out of his knowledge of what he could do. Through years
he had day by day made this hope a real thing to himself,--a clear,
projected figure of himself, as he might become.

Able to speak, to know what was best, to raise these men and women
working at his side up with him: sometimes he forgot this defined hope
in the frantic anguish to escape,--only to escape,--out of the wet, the
pain, the ashes, somewhere, anywhere,--only for one moment of free air
on a hill-side, to lie down and let his sick soul throb itself out in
the sunshine. But to-night he panted for life. The savage strength of
his nature was roused; his cry was fierce to God for justice.

"Look at me!" he said to Deborah, with a low, bitter laugh, striking his
puny chest savagely. "What am I worth, Deb? Is it my fault that I am no
better? My fault? My fault?"

He stopped, stung with a sudden remorse, seeing her hunchback shape
writhing with sobs. For Deborah was crying thankless tears, according to
the fashion of women.

"God forgi' me, woman! Things go harder wi' you nor me. It's a worse
share."

He got up and helped her to rise; and they went doggedly down the muddy
street, side by side.

"It's all wrong," he muttered, slowly,--"all wrong! I dunnot
understan'. But it'll end some day."

"Come home, Hugh!" she said, coaxingly; for he had stopped, looking
around bewildered.

"Home,--and back to the mill!" He went on saying this over to himself,
as if he would mutter down every pain in this dull despair.

She followed him through the fog, her blue lips chattering with cold.
They reached the cellar at last. Old Wolfe had been drinking since she
went out, and had crept nearer the door. The girl Janey slept heavily In
the corner. He went up to her, touching softly the worn white arm with
his fingers. Some bitterer thought stung him, as he stood there. He
wiped the drops from his forehead, and went into the room beyond, livid,
trembling. A hope, trifling, perhaps, but very dear, had died just then
out of the poor puddler's life, as he looked at the sleeping, innocent
girl,--some plan for the future, in which she had borne a part. He gave
it up that moment, then and forever. Only a trifle, perhaps, to us: his
face grew a shade paler,--that was all. But, somehow, the man's soul, as
God and the angels looked down on it, never was the same afterwards.

Deborah followed him into the inner room. She carried a candle, which
she placed on the floor, dosing the door after her. She had seen the
look on his face, as he turned away: her own grew deadly. Yet, as she
came up to him, her eyes glowed. He was seated on an old chest, quiet,
holding his face in his hands.

"Hugh!" she said, softly.

He did not speak.

"Hugh, did hur hear what the man said,--him with the clear voice? Did
hur hear? Money, money,--that it wud do all?"

He pushed her away,--gently, but he was worn out; her rasping tone
fretted him.

"Hugh!"

The candle flared a pale yellow light over the cobwebbed brick walls,
and the woman standing there. He looked at her. She was young, in deadly
earnest; her faded eyes, and wet, ragged figure caught from their
frantic eagerness a power akin to beauty.

"Hugh, it is true! Money ull do it! Oh, Hugh, boy, listen till me! He
said it true! It is money!"

"I know. Go back! I do not want you here."

"Hugh, it is t' last time. I 'II never worrit hur again."

There were tears in her voice now, but she choked them back.

"Hear till me only to-night! If one of t' witch people wud come, them we
heard of t' home, and gif hur all hur wants, what then? Say, Hugh!"

"What do you mean?"

"I mean money.".

Her whisper shrilled through his brain.

"If one of t' witch dwarfs wud come from t' lane moors to-night, and gif
hur money, to go out,--_out_, I say,--out, lad, where t' sun shines, and
t' heath grows, and t' ladies walk in silken gownds, and God stays all
t' time,--where t' man lives that talked to us to-night,--Hugh knows,
--Hugh could walk there like a king!"

He thought the woman mad, tried to check her, but she went on, fierce in
her eager haste.

"If _I_ were t' witch dwarf, if I had f money, wud hur thank me? Wud hur
take me out o' this place wid hur and Janey? I wud not come into the
gran' house hur wud build, to vex hur wid t' hunch,--only at night, when
t' shadows were dark, stand far off to see hur."

Mad? Yes! Are many of us mad in this way?

"Poor Deb! poor Deb!" he said, soothingly.

"It is here," she said, suddenly jerking into his hand a small roll.
"I took it! I did it! Me, me!--not hur! I shall be hanged, I shall be
burnt in hell, if anybody knows I took it! Out of his pocket, as he
leaned against t' bricks. Hur knows?"

She thrust it into his hand, and then, her errand done, began to gather
chips together to make a fire, choking down hysteric sobs.

"Has it come to this?"

That was all he said. The Welsh Wolfe blood was honest. The roll was a
small green pocket-book containing one or two gold pieces, and a check
for an incredible amount, as it seemed to the poor puddler. He laid it
down, hiding his face again in his hands.

"Hugh, don't be angry wud me! It's only poor Deb,--hur knows?"

He took the long skinny fingers kindly in his.

"Angry? God help me, no! Let me sleep. I am tired."

He threw himself heavily down on the wooden bench, stunned with pain and
weariness. She brought some old rags to cover him.

It was late on Sunday evening before he awoke. I tell God's truth, when
I say he had then no thought of keeping this money. Deborah had hid it
in his pocket. He found it there. She watched him eagerly, as he took it
out.

"I must gif it to him," he said, reading her face.

"Hur knows," she said with a bitter sigh of disappointment. "But it is
hur right to keep it."

His right! The word struck him. Doctor May had used the same. He washed
himself, and went out to find this man Mitchell. His right! Why did this
chance word cling to him so obstinately? Do you hear the fierce devils
whisper in his ear, as he went slowly down the darkening street?

The evening came on, slow and calm. He seated himself at the end of
an alley leading into one of the larger streets. His brain was clear
to-night, keen, intent, mastering. It would not start back, cowardly,
from any hellish temptation, but meet it face to face. Therefore the
great temptation of his life came to him veiled by no sophistry, but
bold, defiant, owning its own vile name, trusting to one bold blow for
victory.

He did not deceive himself. Theft! That was it. At first the word
sickened him; then he grappled with it. Sitting there on a broken
cart-wheel, the fading day, the noisy groups, the church-bells' tolling
passed before him like a panorama, while the sharp struggle went on
within. This money! He took it out, and looked at it. If he gave it
back, what then? He was going to be cool about it.

People going by to church saw only a sickly mill-boy watching them
quietly at the alley's mouth. They did not know that he was mad, or they
would not have gone by so quietly: mad with hunger; stretching out his
hands to the world, that had given so much to them, for leave to live
the life God meant him to live. His soul within him was smothering to
death; he wanted so much, thought so much, and _knew_--nothing. There
was nothing of which he was certain, except the mill and things there.
Of God and heaven he had heard so little, that they were to him what
fairy-land is to a child: something real, but not here; very far off.
His brain, greedy, dwarfed, full of thwarted energy and unused powers,
questioned these men and women going by, coldly, bitterly, that night.
Was it not his right to live as they,--a pure life, a good, true-hearted
life, full of beauty and kind words? He only wanted to know how to use
the strength within him. His heart warmed, as he thought of it. He
suffered himself to think of it longer. If he took the money?

Then he saw himself as he might be, strong, helpful, kindly. The night
crept on, as this one image slowly evolved itself from the crowd of
other thoughts and stood triumphant. He looked at it. As he might be!
What wonder, if it blinded him to delirium,--the madness that underlies
all revolution, all progress, and all fall?

You laugh at the shallow temptation? You see the error underlying
its argument so clearly,--that to him a true life was one of full
development rather than self-restraint? that he was deaf to the higher
tone in a cry of voluntary suffering for truth's sake than in the
fullest flow of spontaneous harmony? I do not plead his cause. I only
want to show you the mote in my brother's eye: then you can see clearly
to take it out.

The money,--there it lay on his knee, a little blotted slip of paper,
nothing in itself; used to raise him out of the pit; something straight
from God's hand. A thief! Well, what was it to be a thief? He met the
question at last, face to face, wiping the clammy drops of sweat
from his forehead. God made this money--the fresh air, too--for his
children's use. He never made the difference between poor and rich. The
Something who looked down on him that moment through the cool gray sky
had a kindly face, he knew,--loved his children alike. Oh, he knew that!

There were times when the soft floods of color in the crimson and purple
flames, or the clear depth of amber in the water below the bridge, had
somehow given him a glimpse of another world than this,--of an infinite
depth of beauty and of quiet somewhere,--somewhere,--a depth of quiet
and rest and love. Looking up now, it became strangely real. The sun had
sunk quite below the hills, but his last rays struck upward, touching
the zenith. The fog had risen, and the town and river were steeped in
its thick, gray damp; but overhead, the sun-touched smoke-clouds opened
like a cleft ocean,--shifting, rolling seas of crimson mist, waves of
billowy silver reined with blood-scarlet, inner depths unfathomable of
glancing light. Wolfe's artist-eye grew drunk with color. The gates of
that other world! Fading, flashing before him now! What, in that world
of Beauty, Content, and Right, were the petty laws, the mine and thine,
of mill-owners and mill-hands?

A consciousness of power stirred within him. He stood up. A man,--he
thought, stretching out his hands,--free to work, to live, to love!
Free! His right! He folded the scrap of paper in his hand. As his
nervous fingers took it in, limp and blotted, so his soul took in the
mean temptation, lapped it in fancied rights, in dreams of improved
existences, drifting and endless as the cloud-seas of color. Clutching
it, as if the tightness of his hold would strengthen his sense of
possession, he went aimlessly down the street. It was his watch at the
mill. He need not go, need never go again, thank God!--shaking off the
thought with unspeakable loathing.

Shall I go over the history of the hours of that night? how the
man wandered from one to another of his old haunts, with a
half-consciousness of bidding them farewell,--lanes and alleys and
back-yards where the mill-hands lodged,--noting, with a new eagerness,
the filth and drunkenness, the pig-pens, the ash-heaps covered with
potato-skins, the bloated, pimpled women at the doors,--with a new
disgust, a new sense of sudden triumph, and, under all, a new, vague
dread, unknown before, smothered down, kept under, but still there? It
left him but once during the night, when, for the second time in his
life, he entered a church. It was a sombre Gothic pile, where the
stained light lost itself in far-retreating arches; built to meet the
requirements and sympathies of a far other class than Wolfe's. Yet it
touched, moved him uncontrollably. The distances, the shadows, the
still, marble figures, the mass of silent kneeling worshippers, the
mysterious music, thrilled, lifted his soul with a wonderful pain. Wolfe
forgot himself, forgot the new life he was going to live, the mean
terror gnawing underneath. The voice of the speaker strengthened the
charm; it was clear, feeling, full, strong. An old man, who had lived
much, suffered much; whose brain was keenly alive, dominant; whose heart
was summer-warm with charity. He taught it to-night. He held up Humanity
in its grand total; showed the great world-cancer to his people. Who
could show it better? He was a Christian reformer; he had studied the
age thoroughly; his outlook at man had been free, world-wide, over all
time. His faith stood sublime upon the Rock of Ages; his fiery zeal
guided vast schemes by which the gospel was to be preached to all
nations. How did he preach it to-night? In burning, light-laden words he
painted the incarnate Life, Love, the universal Man: words that became
reality in the lives of these people,--that lived again in beautiful
words and actions, trifling, but heroic. Sin, as he defied it, was a
real foe to them; their trials, temptations, were his. His words passed
far over the furnace-tender's grasp, toned to suit another class of
culture; they sounded in his ears a very pleasant song in an unknown
tongue. He meant to cure this world-cancer with a steady eye that
had never glared with hunger, and a hand that neither poverty nor
strychnine-whiskey had taught to shake. In this morbid, distorted heart
of the Welsh puddler he had failed.

Wolfe rose at last, and turned from the church down the street. He
looked up; the night had come on foggy, damp; the golden mists had
vanished, and the sky lay dull and ash-colored. He wandered again
aimlessly down the street, idly wondering what had become of the
cloud-sea of crimson and scarlet. The trial-day of this man's life was
over, and he had lost the victory. What followed was mere drifting
circumstance,--a quicker walking over the path,--that was all. Do you
want to hear the end of it? You wish me to make a tragic story out of
it? Why, in the police-reports of the morning paper you can find a dozen
such tragedies: hints of ship-wrecks unlike any that ever befell on the
high seas; hints that here a power was lost to heaven,--that there a
soul went down where no tide can ebb or flow. Commonplace enough the
hints are,--jocose sometimes, done up in rhyme.

Doctor May, a month after the night I have told you of, was reading to
his wife at breakfast from this fourth column of the morning-paper: an
unusual thing,--these police-reports not being, in general, choice
reading for ladies; but it was only one item he read.

"Oh, my dear! You remember that man I told you of, that we saw at
Kirby's mill?--that was arrested for robbing Mitchell? Here he is; just
listen:--'Circuit Court. Judge Day, Hugh Wolfe, operative in Kirby &
John's Loudon Mills. Charge, grand larceny. Sentence, nineteen years
hard labor in penitentiary.'--Scoundrel! Serves him right! After all
our kindness that night! Picking Mitchell's pocket at the very time!"

His wife said something about the ingratitude of that kind of people,
and then they began to talk of something else.

Nineteen years! How easy that was to read! What a simple word for Judge
Day to utter! Nineteen years! Half a lifetime!

Hugh Wolfe sat on the window-ledge of his cell, looking out. His ankles
were ironed. Not usual in such cases; but he had made two desperate
efforts to escape. "Well," as Haley, the jailer, said, "small blame
to him! Nineteen years' imprisonment was not a pleasant thing to look
forward to." Haley was very good-natured about it, though Wolfe had
fought him savagely.

"When he was first caught," the jailer said afterwards, in telling the
story, "before the trial, the fellow was cut down at once,--laid there
on that pallet like a dead man, with his hands over his eyes. Never saw
a man so cut down in my life. Time of the trial, too, came the queerest
dodge of any customer I ever had. Would choose no lawyer. Judge gave him
one, of course. Gibson it was. He tried to prove the fellow crazy; but
it wouldn't go. Thing was plain as daylight: money found on him. 'Twas a
hard sentence,--all the law allows; but it was for 'xample's sake. These
mill-hands are gettin' onbearable. When the sentence was read, he just
looked up, and said the money was his by rights, and that all the world
had gone wrong. That night, after the trial, a gentleman came to see him
here, name of Mitchell,--him as he stole from. Talked to him for an
hour. Thought he came for curiosity, like. After he was gone, thought
Wolfe was remarkable quiet, and went into his cell. Found him very low;
bed all bloody. Doctor said he had been bleeding at the lungs. He was as
weak as a cat; yet, if ye'll b'lieve me, he tried to get a-past me and
get out. I just carried him like a baby, and threw him on the pallet.
Three days after, he tried it again: that time reached the wall. Lord
help you! he fought like a tiger,--giv' some terrible blows. Fightin'
for life, you see; for he can't live long, shut up in the stone crib
down yonder. Got a death-cough now. 'T took two of us to bring him down
that day; so I just put the irons on his feet. There he sits, in there.
Goin' to-morrow, with a batch more of 'em. That woman, hunchback, tried
with him,--you remember?--she's only got three years. 'Complice. But
_she's_ a woman, you know. He's been quiet ever since I put on irons:
giv' up, I suppose. Looks white, sick-lookin'. It acts different on 'em,
bein' sentenced. Most of 'em gets reckless, devilish-like. Some prays
awful, and sings them vile songs of the mills, all in a breath. That
woman, now, she's desper't'. Been beggin' to see Hugh, as she calls him,
for three days. I'm a-goin' to let her in. She don't go with him. Here
she is in this next cell. I'm a-goin' now to let her in."

He let her in. Wolfe did not see her. She crept into a corner of the
cell, and stood watching him. He was scratching the iron bars of the
window with a piece of tin which he had picked up, with an idle,
uncertain, vacant stare, just as a child or idiot would do.

"Tryin' to get out, old boy?" laughed Haley. "Them irons will need a
crowbar beside your tin, before you can open 'em."

Wolfe laughed, too, in a senseless way.

"I think I'll get out," he said.

"I believe his brain's touched," said Haley, when he came out.

The puddler scraped away with the tin for half an hour. Still Deborah
did not speak. At last she ventured nearer, and touched his arm.

"Blood?" she said, looking at some spots on his coat with a shudder.

He looked up at her. "Why, Deb!" he said, smiling,--such a bright,
boyish smile, that it went to poor Deborah's heart directly, and she
sobbed and cried out loud.

"Oh, Hugh, lad! Hugh! dunnot look at me, when it wur my fault! To think
I brought hur to it! And I loved hur so! Oh, lad, I dud!"

The confession, even in this wretch, came with the woman's blush through
the sharp cry.

He did not seem to hear her,--scraping away diligently at the bars with
the bit of tin.

Was he going mad? She peered closely into his face. Something she saw
there made her draw suddenly back,--something which Haley had not seen,
that lay beneath the pinched, vacant look it had caught since the trial,
or the curious gray shadow that rested on it. That gray shadow,--yes,
she knew what that meant. She had often seen it creeping over women's
faces for months, who died at last of slow hunger or consumption. That
meant death, distant, lingering: but this--Whatever it was the woman
saw, or thought she saw, used as she was to crime and misery, seemed to
make her sick with a new horror. Forgetting her fear of him, she caught
his shoulders, and looked keenly, steadily, into his eyes.

"Hugh!" she cried, in a desperate whisper,--"oh, boy, not that! for
God's sake, not _that!_"

The vacant laugh went off his face, and he answered her in a muttered
word or two that drove her away. Yet the words were kindly enough.
Sitting there on his pallet, she cried silently a hopeless sort of
tears, but did not speak again. The man looked up furtively at her now
and then. Whatever his own trouble was, her distress vexed him with a
momentary sting.

It was market-day. The narrow window of the jail looked down directly on
the carts and wagons drawn up in a long line, where they had unloaded.
He could see, too, and hear distinctly the clink of money as it changed
hands, the busy crowd of whites and blacks shoving, pushing one another,
and the chaffering and swearing at the stalls. Somehow, the sound, more
than anything else had done, wakened him up,--made the whole real to
him. He was done with the world and the business of it. He let the tin
fall, and looked out, pressing his face close to the rusty bars. How
they crowded and pushed! And he,--he should never walk that pavement
again! There came Neff Sanders, one of the feeders at the mill, with
a basket on his arm. Sure enough, Neff was married the other week. He
whistled, hoping he would look up; but he did not. He wondered if Neff
remembered he was there,--if any of the boys thought of him up there,
and thought that he never was to go down that old cinder-road again.
Never again! He had not quite understood it before; but now he did. Not
for days or years, but never!--that was it.

How clear the light fell on that stall in front of the market! and how
like a picture it was, the dark-green heaps of corn, and the crimson
beets, and golden melons! There was another with game: how the light
flickered on that pheasant's breast, with the purplish blood dripping
over the brown feathers! He could see the red shining of the drops, it
was so near. In one minute he could be down there. It was just a step.
So easy, as it seemed, so natural to go! Yet it could never be--not in
all the thousands of years to come--that he should put his foot on that
street again! He thought of himself with a sorrowful pity, as of some
one else. There was a dog down in the market, walking after his master
with such a stately, grave look!--only a dog, yet he could go backwards
and forwards just as he pleased: he had good luck! Why, the very vilest
cur, yelping there in the gutter, had not lived his life, had been free
to act out whatever thought God had put into his brain; while he--No, he
would not think of that! He tried to put the thought away, and to listen
to a dispute between a countryman and a woman about some meat; but it
would come back. He, what had he done to bear this?

Then came the sudden picture of what might have been, and now. He knew
what it was to be in the penitentiary,--how it went with men there. He
knew how in these long years he should slowly die, but not Until soul
and body had become corrupt and rotten,--how, when he came out, if he
lived to come, even the lowest of the mill-hands would jeer him,--how
his hands would be weak, and his brain senseless and stupid. He believed
he was almost that now. He put his hand to his head, with a puzzled,
weary look. It ached, his head, with thinking. He tried to quiet
himself. It was only right, perhaps; he had done wrong. But was there
right or wrong for such as he? What was right'? And who had ever taught
him? He thrust the whole matter away. A dark, cold quiet crept through
his brain. It was all wrong; but let it be! It was nothing to him more
than the others. Let it be!

The door grated, as Haley opened it.

"Come, my woman! Must lock up for t'night. Come, stir yerself!"

She went up and took Hugh's hand.

"Good-night, Deb," he said, carelessly.

She had not hoped he would say more; but the Sired pain on her mouth
just then was bitterer than death. She took his passive hand and kissed
it.

"Hur 'll never see Deb again!" she ventured, her lips growing colder and
more bloodless.

What did she say that for? Did he not know it'! Yet he would not
impatient with poor old Deb. She had trouble of her own, as well as he.

"No, never again," he said, trying to be cheerful.

She stood just a moment, looking at him. Do you laugh at her, standing
there, with her hunchback, her rags, her bleared, withered face, and the
great despised love tugging at her heart?

"Come, you!" called Haley, impatiently.

She did not move.

"Hugh!" she whispered.

It was to be her last word. What was it?

"Hugh, boy, not THAT!"

He did not answer. She wrung her hands, trying to be silent, looking in
his face in an agony of entreaty. He smiled again, kindly.

"It is best, Deb. I cannot bear to be hurted any more."

"Hur knows," she said, humbly.

"Tell my father good-bye; and--and kiss little Janey."

She nodded, saying nothing, looked in his face again, and went out of
the door. As she went, she staggered.

"Drinkin' to-day?" broke out Haley, pushing her before him. "Where the
Devil did you get it? Here, in with ye!" and he shoved her into her
cell, next to Wolfe's, and shut the door.

Along the wall of her cell there was a crack low down by the floor,
through which she could see the light from Wolfe's. She had discovered
it days before. She hurried in now, and, kneeling down by it, listened,
hoping to hear some sound. Nothing but the rasping of the tin on the
bars. He was at his old amusement again. Something in the noise jarred
on her ear, for she shivered as she heard it. Hugh rasped away at the
bars. A dull old bit of tin, not fit to cut korl with.

He looked out of the window again. People were leaving the market now.
A tall mulatto girl, following her mistress, her basket on her head,
crossed the street just below, and looked up. She was laughing; but,
when she caught sight of the haggard face peering out through the bars,
suddenly grew grave, and hurried by. A free, firm step, a clear-cut
olive face, with a scarlet turban tied on one side, dark, shining eyes,
and on the head the basket poised, filled with fruit and flowers, under
which the scarlet turban and bright eyes looked out half-shadowed. The
picture caught his eye. It was good to see a face like that. He would
try to-morrow, and cut one like it. _To-morrow_! He threw down the tin,
trembling, and covered his face with his hands. When he looked up again,
the daylight was gone.

Deborah, crouching near by on the other side of the wall, heard no
noise. He sat on the side of the low pallet, thinking. Whatever was the
mystery which the woman had seen on his face, it came out now slowly, in
the dark there, and became fixed,--a something never seen on his face
before. The evening was darkening fast. The market had been over for an
hour; the rumbling of the carts over the pavement grew more infrequent:
he listened to each, as it passed, because he thought it was to be for
the last time. For the same reason, it was, I suppose, that he strained
his eyes to catch a glimpse of each passer-by, wondering who they were,
what kind of homes they were going to, if they had children,--listening
eagerly to every chance word in the street, as if--(God be merciful to
the man! what strange fancy was this?)--as if he never should hear human
voices again.

It was quite dark at last. The street was a lonely one. The last
passenger, he thought, was gone. No,--there was a quick step: Joe Hill,
lighting the I Joe was a good old chap; never passed a fellow without
some joke or other. He remembered once seeing the place where he lived
with his wife. "Granny Hill" the boys called her. Bedridden she was; but
so kind as Joe was to her! kept the room so clean!--and the old woman,
when he was there, was laughing at "some of t' lad's foolishness." The
step was far down the street; but he could see him place the ladder, run
up, and light the gas. A longing seized him to be spoken to once more.

"Joe!" he called, out of the grating. "Good-bye, Joe!"

The old man stopped a moment, listening uncertainly; then hurried on.
The prisoner thrust his hand out of the window, and called again,
louder; but Joe was too far down the street. It was a little thing; but
it hurt him,--this disappointment.

"Good-bye, Joe!" he called, sorrowfully enough.

"Be quiet!" said one of the jailers, passing the door, striking on it
with his club.

Oh, that was the last, was it?

There was an inexpressible bitterness on his face, as he lay down on the
bed, taking the bit of tin, which he had rasped to a tolerable degree
of sharpness, in his hand,--to play with, it may be. He bared his arms,
looking intently at their corded veins and sinews. Deborah, listening in
the next cell, heard a slight clicking sound, often repeated. She shut
her lips tightly, that she might not scream; the cold drops of sweat
broke over her, in her dumb agony.

"Hur knows best," she muttered at last, fiercely clutching the boards
where she lay.

If she could have seen Wolfe, there was nothing about him to frighten
her. He lay quite still, his arms outstretched, looking at the pearly
stream of moonlight coming into the window. I think in that one hour
that came then he lived back over all the years that had gone before.
I think that all the low, vile life, all his wrongs, all his starved
hopes, came then, and stung him with a farewell poison that made him
sick unto death. He made neither moan nor cry, only turned his worn face
now and then to the pure light, that seemed so far off, as one that
said, "How long, O Lord? how long?"

The hour was over at last. The moon, passing over her nightly path,
slowly came nearer, and threw the light across his bed on his feet. He
watched it steadily, as it crept up, inch by inch, slowly. It seemed to
him to carry with it a great silence. He had been so hot and tired there
always in the mills! The years had been so fierce and cruel! There was
coming now quiet and coolness and sleep. His tense limbs relaxed, and
settled in a calm languor. The blood ran fainter and slow from his
heart. He did not think now with a savage anger of what might be and was
not; he was conscious only of deep stillness creeping over him. At first
he saw a sea of faces: the mill-men,--women he had known, drunken and
bloated,--Janeys timid and pitiful,--poor old Debs: then they floated
together like a mist, and faded away, leaving only the clear, pearly
moonlight.

Whether, as the pure light crept up the stretched-out figure, it brought
with it calm and peace, who shall say? His dumb soul was alone with
God in judgment. A Voice may have spoken for it from far-off Calvary,
"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!" Who dare say?
Fainter and fainter the heart rose and fell, slower and slower the moon
floated from behind a cloud, until, when at last its full tide of white
splendor swept over the cell, it seemed to wrap and fold into a deeper
stillness the dead figure that never should move again. Silence deeper
than the Night! Nothing that moved, save the black, nauseous stream of
blood dripping slowly from the pallet to the floor!

There was outcry and crowd enough in the cell the next day. The coroner
and his jury, the local editors, Kirby himself, and boys with their
hands thrust knowingly into their pockets and heads on one side, jammed
into the corners. Coming and going all day. Only one woman. She came
late, and outstayed them all. A Quaker, or Friend, as they call
themselves. I think this woman was known by that name in heaven. A
homely body, coarsely dressed in gray and white. Deborah (for Haley had
let her in) took notice of her. She watched them all--sitting on the
end of the pallet, holding his head in her arms--with the ferocity of
a watch-dog, if any of them touched the body. There was no meekness,
sorrow, in her face; the stuff out of which murderers are made, instead.
All the time Haley and the woman were laying straight the limbs and
cleaning the cell, Deborah sat still, keenly watching the Quaker's face.
Of all the crowd there that day, this woman alone had not spoken to
her,--only once or twice had put some cordial to her lips. After they
all were gone, the woman, in the same still, gentle way, brought a vase
of wood-leaves and berries, and placed it by the pallet, then opened the
narrow window. The fresh air blew in, and swept the woody fragrance over
the dead face. Deborah looked up with a quick wonder.

"Did hur know my boy wud like it? Did hur know Hugh?"

"I know Hugh now."

The white fingers passed in a slow, pitiful way over the dead, worn
face. There was a heavy shadow in the quiet eyes.

"Did hur know where they'll bury Hugh?" said Deborah in a shrill tone,
catching her arm.

This had been the question hanging on her lips all day.

"In t' town-yard? Under t'mud and ash? T'lad 'll smother, woman! He wur
born on t'lane moor, where t'air is frick and strong. Take hur out, for
God's sake, take hur out where t'air blows!"

The Quaker hesitated, but only for a moment. She put her strong arm
around Deborah and led her to the window.

"Thee sees the hills, friend, over the river? Thee sees how the
light lies warm there, and the winds of God blow all the day? I live
there,--where the blue smoke is, by the trees. Look at me." She turned
Deborah's face to her own, clear and earnest. "Thee will believe me? I
will take Hugh and bury him there to-morrow."

Deborah did not doubt her. As the evening wore on, she leaned against
the iron bars, looking at the hills that rose far off, through the thick
sodden clouds, like a bright, unattainable calm. As she looked, a shadow
of their solemn repose fell on her face: its fierce discontent faded
into a pitiful, humble quiet. Slow, solemn tears gathered in her eyes:
the poor weak eyes turned so hopelessly to the place where Hugh was to
rest, the grave heights looking higher and brighter and more solemn than
ever before. The Quaker watched her keenly. She came to her at last, and
touched her arm.

"When thee comes back," she said, in a low, sorrowful tone, like one
who speaks from a strong heart deeply moved with remorse or pity, "thee
shall begin thy life again,--there on the hills. I came too late; but
not for thee,--by God's help, it may be."

Not too late. Three years after, the Quaker began her work. I end my
story here. At evening-time it was light. There is no need to tire
you with the long years of sunshine, and fresh air, and slow, patient
Christ-love, needed to make healthy and hopeful this impure body and
soul. There is a homely pine house, on one of these hills, whose windows
overlook broad, wooded slopes and clover-crimsoned meadows,--niched into
the very place where the light is warmest, the air freest. It is the
Friends' meeting-house. Once a week they sit there, in their grave,
earnest way, waiting for the Spirit of Love to speak, opening their
simple hearts to receive His words. There is a woman, old, deformed, who
takes a humble place among them: waiting like them: in her gray dress,
her worn face, pure and meek, turned now and then to the sky. A woman
much loved by these silent, restful people; more silent than they, more
humble, more loving. Waiting: with her eyes turned to hills higher and
purer than these on which she lives,--dim and far off now, but to be
reached some day. There may be in her heart some latent hope to meet
there the love denied her here,--that she shall find him whom she lost,
and that then she will not be all-unworthy. Who blames her? Something
is lost in the passage of every soul from one eternity to the
other,--something pure and beautiful, which might have been and was not:
a hope, a talent, a love, over which the soul mourns, like Esau deprived
of his birthright. What blame to the meek Quaker, if she took her lost
hope to make the hills of heaven more fair?

Nothing remains to tell that the poor Welsh puddler once lived, but this
figure of the mill-woman cut in korl. I have it here in a corner of my
library. I keep it hid behind a curtain,--it is such a rough, ungainly
thing. Yet there are about it touches, grand sweeps of outline, that
show a master's hand. Sometimes,--to-night, for instance,--the curtain is
accidentally drawn back, and I see a bare arm stretched out imploringly
in the darkness, and an eager, wolfish face watching mine: a wan, woful
face, through which the spirit of the dead korl-cutter looks out, with
its thwarted life, its mighty hunger, its unfinished work. Its pale,
vague lips seem to tremble with a terrible question, "Is this the End?"
they say,--"nothing beyond?--no more?"

Why, you tell me you have seen that look in the eyes of dumb
brutes,--horses dying under the lash. I know.

The deep of the night is passing while I write. The gas-light wakens
from the shadows here and there the objects which lie scattered through
the room: only faintly, though; for they belong to the open sunlight. As
I glance at them, they each recall some task or pleasure of the coming
day. A half-moulded child's head; Aphrodite; a bough of forest-leaves;
music; work; homely fragments, in which lie the secrets of all eternal
truth and beauty. Prophetic all! Only this dumb, woful face seems to
belong to and end with the night. I turn to look at it Has the power of
its desperate need commanded the darkness away? While the room is yet
steeped in heavy shadow, a cool, gray light suddenly touches its head
like a blessing hand, and its groping arm points through the broken
cloud to the far East, where, in the nickering, nebulous crimson, God
has set the promise of the Dawn.

       *       *       *       *       *


THE REIGN OF KING COTTON.


To every age and to all nations belong their peculiar maxims and
political or religious cries, which, if collected by some ingenious
philosopher, would make a striking compendium of universal history.
Sometimes a curious outward similarity exists between these condensed
national sentences of peoples dissimilar in every other respect. Thus,
to-day is heard in the senescent East the oft-repeated formula of the
Mussulman's faith, "There is no God but Allah, and Mahomet is his
Prophet," while in the youthful West a new cry, as fully believed, not
less devout, and scarcely less often repeated, arises from one great
and influential portion of the political and social thinkers of this
country,--the cry that "There is no King but Cotton, and the African is
its High-Priest." According to the creed of philosophy, philanthropy,
and economy in vogue among the sect whose views take utterance in this
formula, King Cotton has now reigned supreme over the temporal affairs
of the princes, potentates, and people of this earth for some thirty
years. Consequently, it is fair to presume that its reign has fully
developed its policy and tendencies and is producing its fruit for good
or evil, especially in the land of its disciples. It is well, therefore,
sometimes to withdraw a little from the dust and smoke of the battle,
which, with us at least, announces the spread of this potentate's power,
and to try to disentangle the real questions at issue in the struggle
from the eternal complications produced by short-sighted politicians and
popular issues. Looking at the policy and tendency of the reign of King
Cotton, as hitherto developed and indicated by its most confidential
advisers and apostles and by the lapse of time in the so-called Slave
States, to what end does it necessarily tend? to what results must it
logically lead?

What is coarsely, but expressively, described in the political slang of
this country as "_The Everlasting Nigger Question_" might perhaps fairly
be considered exhausted as a topic of discussion, if ever a topic was.
Is it exhausted, however? Have not rather the smoke and sweat and dust
of the political battle in which we have been so long and so fiercely
engaged exercised a dimming influence on our eyes as to the true
difficulty and its remedy, as they have on the vision of other angry
combatants since the world began? It is easy to say, in days like these,
that men seem at once to lose their judgment and reason when they
approach this question,--to look hardly an arm's length before
them,--to become mere tools of their own passions; and all this is true,
and, in conceding it all, no more is conceded than that the men of the
present day are also mortal. How many voters in the last election,
before they went to the polls, had seriously thought out for themselves
the real issue of the contest, apart from party names and platforms and
popular cries and passionate appeals to the conscience and the purse?
In all parties, some doubtless were impelled by fanaticism,--many were
guided by instinct,--more by the voice of their leaders,--most by party
catchwords and material interests,--but how many by real reflection and
the exercise of reason? Was it every fifth man, or every tenth? Was it
every fiftieth? Let every one judge for himself. The history of the
reigning dynasty, its policy and tendency, are still open questions, the
discussion of which, though perhaps become tedious, is not exhausted,
and, if conducted in a fair spirit, will at least do no harm. What,
then, is all this thirty years' turmoil, of which the world is growing
sick, about? Are we indeed only fighting, as the party-leaders at the
North seem trying to persuade us, for the control, by the interests of
free labor or of slave-labor, of certain remaining national territories
into which probably slavery never could be made to enter?--or rather
is there not some deep innate principle,--some strong motive of
aggrandizement or preservation,--some real Enceladus,--the cause of this
furious volcano of destructive agitation? If, indeed, the struggle
be for the possession of a sterile waste in the heart of the
continent,--useless either as a slave-breeding or a slave-working
country,--clearly, whatever the politician might say to the contrary,
the patriot and the merchant would soon apply to the struggle the
principle, that sometimes the game is not worth the candle. If, however,
there be an underlying principle, the case is different, and the cost of
the struggle admits of no limit save the value of the motive principle.
He who now pretends to discuss this question should approach it neither
as a Whig, a Democrat, nor a Republican, but should look at it by the
light of political philosophy and economy, forgetful of the shibboleth
of party or appeals to passion. So far as may be, in this spirit it is
proposed to discuss it here.

"By its fruits ye shall know it." Look, then, for a moment, at the
fruits of the Cotton dynasty, as hitherto developed in the working of
its policy and its natural tendency,--observe its vital essence and
logical necessities,--seek for the result of its workings, when brought
in contact with the vital spirits and life-currents of our original
policy as a people,--and then decide whether this contest in which we
are engaged is indeed an irrepressible and inextinguishable contest,
or whether all this while we have not been fighting with shadows. King
Cotton has now reigned for thirty years, be the same less or more. To
feel sure that we know what its policy has wrought in that time, we must
first seek for the conditions under which it originally began its work.

Ever since Adam and Eve were forced, on their expulsion from Paradise,
to try the first experiment at self-government, their descendants have
been pursuing a course of homoeopathic treatment. It was the eating of
the fruit of the tree of knowledge which caused all their woes; and
in an increased consumption of the fruit of that tree they have
persistently looked for alleviation of them. Experience seems to prove
the wisdom of the treatment. The greater the consumption of the fruit,
the greater the happiness of man. Knowledge has at last become the basis
of all things,--of power, of social standing, of material prosperity,
and, finally, in America, of government itself. Until within a century
past, political philosophy in the creation of government began at the
wrong end. It built from the pinnacle downward. The stability of the
government depended on the apex,--the one or the few,--and not on the
base,--the foundation of the many. At length, in this country, fresh
from the hand of Nature, the astonished world saw a new experiment
tried,--a government systematically built up from the foundation of
the many,--a government drawing its being from, and dependent for its
continued existence on, the will and the intelligence of the governed.
The foundation had first been laid deep and strong, and on it a goodly
superstructure of government was erected. Yet, even to this day, the
very subjects of that government itself do not realize that they, and
not the government, are the sources of national prosperity. In times of
national emergency like the present,--amid clamors of secession and
of coercion,--angry threats and angrier replies,--wars and rumors of
wars,--what is more common than to hear sensible men--men whom the
people look to as leaders--picturing forth a dire relapse into barbarism
and anarchy as the necessary consequence of the threatened convulsions?
They forget, if they ever realized, that the people made this
government, and not the government the people. Destroy the intelligence
of the people, and the government could not exist for a day;--destroy
this government, and the people would create another, and yet another,
of no less perfect symmetry. While the foundations are firm, there need
be no fears of the superstructure, which may be renewed again and again;
but touch the foundations, and the superstructure must crumble at once.
Those who still insist on believing that this government made the people
are fond of triumphantly pointing to the condition of the States of
Mexico, as telling the history of our own future, let our present
government be once interrupted in its functions. Are Mexicans Yankees?
Are Spaniards Anglo-Saxons? Are Catholicism and religious freedom, the
Inquisition and common schools, despotism and democracy, synonymous
terms? Could a successful republic, on our model, be at once instituted
in Africa on the assassination of the King of Timbuctoo? Have two
centuries of education nothing to do with our success, or an eternity of
ignorance with Mexican failure? Was our government a lucky guess, and
theirs an unfortunate speculation? The one lesson that America is
destined to teach the world, or to miss her destiny in failing to teach,
has with us passed into a truism, and is yet continually lost sight of;
it is the magnificent result of three thousand years of experiment: the
simple truth, that no government is so firm, so truly conservative, and
so wholly indestructible, as a government founded and dependent for
support upon the affections and good-will of a moral, intelligent, and
educated community. In our politics, we hear much of State-rights and
centralization,--of distribution of power,--of checks and balances,--of
constitutions and their construction,--of patronage and its
distribution,--of banks, of tariffs, and of trade,--all of them subjects
of moment in their sphere; but their sphere is limited. Whether they be
decided one way or the other is of comparatively little consequence:
for, however they are decided, if the people are educated and informed,
the government will go on, and the community be prosperous, be they
decided never so badly,--and if decided badly, the decision will he
reversed; but let the people become ignorant and debased, and all the
checks and balances and wise regulations which the ingenuity of man
could in centuries devise would, at best, but for a short space defer
the downfall of a republic. A well-founded republic can, then, be
destroyed only by destroying its people,--its decay need be looked for
only in the decay of their intelligence; and any form of thought or
any institution tending to suppress education or destroy intelligence
strikes at the very essence of the government, and constitutes a treason
which no law can meet, and for which no punishment is adequate.

Education, then, as universally diffused as the elements of God, is the
life-blood of our body politic. The intelligence of the people is the
one great fact of our civilization and our prosperity,--it is the
beating heart of our age and of our land. It is education alone which
makes equality possible without anarchy, and liberty without license. It
is this--which makes the fundamental principles of our Declaration of
Independence living realities in New England, while in France they still
remain the rhetorical statement of glittering generalities. From this
source flow all our possibilities. Without it, the equality of man is a
pretty figure of speech; with it, democracy is possible. This is a path
beaten by two hundred years of footprints, and while we walk it we are
safe and need fear no evil; but if we diverge from it, be it for never
so little, we stumble, and, unless we quickly retrace our steps, we fall
and are lost. The tutelary goddess of American liberty should be the
pure marble image of the Professor's Yankee school-mistress. Education
is the fundamental support of our system. It was education which made us
free, progressive, and conservative; and it is education alone which can
keep us so.

With this fact clearly established, the next inquiry should be as to
the bearing and policy of the Cotton dynasty as touching this
question of general intelligence. It is a mere truism to say that the
cotton-culture is the cause of the present philosophical and economical
phase of the African question. Throughout the South, whether justly or
not, it is considered as well settled that cotton can be profitably
raised only by a forced system of labor. This theory has been denied by
some writers, and, in experience, is certainly subject to some marked
exceptions; but undoubtedly it is the creed of the Cotton dynasty,
and must here, therefore, be taken for true.[A] With this theory, the
Southern States are under a direct inducement, in the nature of a bribe,
to the amount of the annual profit on their cotton-crop, to see as
many perfections and as few imperfections as possible in the system of
African slavery, and to follow it out unflinchingly into all its logical
necessities. Thus, under the direct influence of the Cotton dynasty, the
whole Southern tone on this subject has undergone a change. Slavery is
no longer deplored as a necessary evil, but it is maintained as in
all respects a substantial good. One of the logical necessities of a
thorough slave-system is, in at least the slave-portion of the people,
extreme ignorance. Whatever theoretically may be desirable in this
respect among the master-class, ignorance, in its worst form,--ignorance
of everything except the use of the tools with which their work is to
be done,--is the necessary condition of the slaves. But it is said that
slaves are property, without voice or influence in the government, and
that the ignorance of the black is no obstacle to the intelligence
of the white. This possibly may be true; but a government founded on
ignorance, as the essential condition of one portion of its people, is
not likely long to regard education as its vital source and essence.
Still the assertion that the rule of education does not apply to slaves
must be allowed; for we must deal with facts as we find them; and
undoubtedly the slave has no rights which the master is bound to
respect; and in speaking of the policy of the Cotton dynasty, the
servile population must be regarded as it is, ignoring the question of
what it might be; it must be taken into consideration only as a terrible
inert mass of domesticated barbarism, and there left. The question
here is solely with the policy and tendency of the Cotton dynasty
as affecting the master-class, and the servile class is in that
consideration to be summarily disposed of as so much labor owned by so
much capital.

[Footnote A: "In truth," the institution of slavery, as an agency for
cotton-cultivation, "is an expensive luxury, a dangerous and artificial
state, and, even in a-worldly point of view, an error. The cost of a
first-class negro in the United States is about L800, and the interest
on the capital invested in and the wear and tear of this human chattel
are equal to 10 per cent., which, with the cost of maintaining,
clothing, and doctoring him, or another 5 per cent, gives an annual cost
of L45; and the pampered Coolies in the best paying of all the tropical
settlements, Trinidad, receive wages that do not exceed on an average
on the year round 6s. per week, or about two-fifths, while in the East
Indies, with perquisites, they do not receive so much as two-thirds of
this. In Cuba, the Chinese emigrants do not receive so much even as
one-third of this."--_Cotton Trade of Great Britain_, by J.A. MANN.
--In India, labor is 80 per cent cheaper than in the United States.]

The dynasty of Cotton is based on the monopoly of the cotton-culture in
the Cotton States of the Union; its whole policy is directed to the two
ends of making the most of and retaining that monopoly; and economically
it reduces everything to subserviency to the question of cotton-supply;
--thus Cotton is King. The result necessarily is, that the Cotton States
have turned all their energies to that one branch of industry. All other
branches they abandon or allow to languish. They have no commerce of
their own, few manufactories, fewer arts; and in their abandonment of
self in their devotion to their King, they do not even raise their
own hay or corn, dig their own coal, or fell their own timber; and at
present, Louisiana is abandoning the sugar-culture, one of the few
remaining exports of the South, to share more largely in the monopoly of
cotton. Thus the community necessarily loses its fair proportions; it
ceases to be self-sustaining; it exercises one faculty alone, until all
the others wither and become impotent for very lack of use. This intense
and all-pervading devotion to one pursuit, and that a pursuit to which
the existence of a servile class is declared essential, must, in a
republic more than in any other government, produce certain marked
politico-philosophical and economical effects on the master-class as a
whole. In a country conducted on a system of servile labor, as in one
conducted on free, the master-class must be divided into the two great
orders of the rich and poor,--those who have, and those who have not.
That the whole policy of the Cotton dynasty tends necessarily to making
broader the chasm between these orders is most apparent. It makes the
rich richer, and the poor poorer; for, as, according to the creed of the
dynasty, capital should own labor, and the labor thus owned can alone
successfully produce cotton, he who has must be continually increasing
his store, while he who has not can neither raise the one staple
recognized by the Cotton dynasty, nor turn his labor, his only property,
to other branches of industry; for such have, in the universal
abandonment of the community to cotton, been allowed to languish and
die. The economical tendency of the Cotton dynasty is therefore to
divide the master-class yet more distinctly into the two great opposing
orders of society. On the one hand we see the capitalist owning the
labor of a thousand slaves, and on the other the laboring white unable,
under the destructive influence of a profitable monopoly, to make any
use of that labor which is his only property.

What influence, then, has the Cotton dynasty on that portion of the
master-class who are without capital? Its tendency has certainly
necessarily been to make their labor of little value; but they are still
citizens of a republic, free to come and go, and, in the eye of the law,
equal with the highest;--on them, in times of emergency, the government
must rest; their education and intelligence are its only sure
foundations. But, having made this class the vast majority of the
master-caste, what are the policy and tendency of the Cotton dynasty
as touching them? The story is almost too old to bear even the
shortest repetition. Philosophically, it is a logical necessity
of the Cotton dynasty that it should be opposed to universal
intelligence;--economically, it renders universal intelligence an
impossibility. That slavery is in itself a positive good to society is
a fundamental doctrine of the Cotton dynasty, and a proposition
not necessary to be combated here; but, unfortunately, universal
intelligence renders free discussion a necessity, and experience tells
us that the suppression of free discussion is necessary to the existence
of slavery. We are but living history over again. The same causes have
often existed before, and they have drawn after them the necessary
effects. Other peoples, at other times, as well as our Southern brethren
at present, have felt, that the suppression of general discussion was
necessary to the preservation of a prized and peculiar institution.
Spain, Italy, Germany, France, the Netherlands, England, and Scotland
have all, at different times, experienced the forced suppression of
some one branch of political or religious thought. Their histories have
recorded the effect of that suppression; and the rule to be deduced
therefrom is simply this: If the people among whom such suppression is
attempted are ignorant, and are kept so as part of a system, the attempt
may be successful, though in its results working destruction to
the community;--if, however, they are intelligent, and the system
incautiously admits into itself any plan of education, the attempt
at suppression will be abandoned, as the result either of policy or
violence. In this respect, then, on philosophical grounds, the Cotton
dynasty is not likely to favor the education of the masses. Again, it
is undoubtedly the interest of the man who has not, that all possible
branches of industry should be open to his labor, as rendering that
labor of greater value; but the whole tendency of the Cotton monopoly is
to blight all branches of industry in the Cotton States save only that
one. General intelligence might lead the poor white to suspect this fact
of an interest of his own antagonistic to the policy of the Cotton King,
and therefore general intelligence is not part of that monarch's policy.
This the philosophers of the Cotton dynasty fairly avow and class high
among those dangers against which it behooves them to be on their guard.
They theorize thus:--

"The great mass of our poor white population begin to understand that
they have rights, and that they, too, are entitled to some of the
sympathy which falls upon the suffering. They are fast learning that
there is an almost infinite world of industry opening before them, by
which they can elevate themselves and their families from wretchedness
and ignorance to competence and intelligence. It is this great upheaving
of our masses which we have to fear, so far as our institutions are
concerned."[B]

[Footnote B: _De Bow's Review_, January, 1850. Quoted in Olmsted's _Back
Country_, p. 451.]

Further, the policy of the Cotton King, however honestly in theory it
may wish to encourage it, renders general education and consequent
intelligence an impossibility. A system of universal education is made
for a laboring population, and can be sustained only among a laboring
population; but if that population consist of slaves, universal
education cannot exist. The reason is simple; for the children of all
must be educated, otherwise the scholars will not support the schools.
It is an absolute necessity of society that in agricultural districts
cultivated by slave-labor the free population should be too sparsely
scattered to support a system of schools, even on starvation wages for
the cheapest class of teachers.

Finally, though it is a subject not necessary now to discuss, the effect
of the Cotton monopoly and dynasty in depressing the majority of the
whites into a species of labor competition in the same branch of
industry as the blacks, because the only branch open to all, can
hardly have a self-respect-inspiring influence on that portion of the
community, but should in its results rather illustrate old Falstaff's
remark,--that "there is a thing often heard of, and it is known to many
in our land, by the name of pitch; this pitch, as ancient writers do
report, doth defile: so doth the company thou keepest."

Such, reason tells us, should be the effect on the intelligence and
education of the free masses of the South of the policy and dynasty of
King Cotton. That experience in this case verifies the conclusions
of reason who can doubt who has ever set foot in a thorough Slave
State,--or in Kansas, or in any Free State half-peopled by the poor
whites of the South?--or who can doubt it, that has ever even talked on
the subject with an intelligent and fair-minded Southern gentleman? Who
that knows them will deny that the poor whites of the South make the
worst population in the country? Who ever heard a Southern gentleman
speak of them, save in Congress or on the hustings, otherwise than with
aversion and contempt?[C]

[Footnote C: Except when used by the accomplished statistician, there is
nothing more fallacious than the figures of the census. As the author of
this article is a disciple neither of Buckle nor De Bow, they have not
been used at all; but a few of the census figures are nevertheless
instructive, as showing the difference between the Free and the Servile
States in respect to popular education. According to the census of 1850,
the white population of the Slave States amounted to 6,184,477 souls,
and the colored population, free and slave, brought the total population
up to an aggregate of 9,612,979, of which the whole number of
school-pupils was 581,861. New York, with a population of 3,097,894
souls, numbered 675,221 pupils, or 98,830 more than all the Slave
States. The eight Cotton States, from South Carolina to Arkansas, with
a population of 2,137,264 whites and a grand total of 3,970,337 human
beings, contained 141,032 pupils; the State of Massachusetts, with a
total population of 994,514, numbered 176,475, or 35,443 pupils more
than all the Cotton States. In popular governments the great sources
of general intelligence are newspapers and periodicals; in estimating
these, metropolitan New York should not be considered; but of these
the whole number, in 1850, issued annually in all the Slave States was
61,038,698, and the number in the not peculiarly enlightened State of
Pennsylvania was 84,898,672, or 3,859,974 more than in all the Slave
States. In the eight Cotton States, the whole number was 30,041,991; and
in the single State of Massachusetts, 64,820,564, or 34,778,573 more,
and in the single State of Ohio, 30,473,407, or 431,416 more, than in
all the above eight States.]

Here, then, we come at once to the foundation of a policy and the cause
of this struggle. Whether it will or no, it is the inevitable tendency
of the Cotton dynasty to be opposed to general intelligence. It is
opposed to that, then, without which a republic cannot hope to exist;
it is opposed to and denies the whole results of two thousand years of
experience. The social system of which the government of to-day is
the creature is founded on the principle of a generally diffused
intelligence of the people; but if now Cotton be King, as is so boldly
asserted, then an influence has obtained control of the government of
which the whole policy is in direct antagonism with, the very elementary
ideas of that government. History tells us that eight bags of cotton
imported into England in 1784 were seized by the custom-house officers
at Liverpool, on the ground that so much cotton could not have been
produced in these States. In 1860, the cotton-crop was estimated at
3,851,481 bales. Thus King Cotton was born with this government, and
has strengthened with its strength; and to-day, almost the creature of
destiny, sent to work the failure of our experiment as a people, it has
led almost one-half of the Republic to completely ignore, if not to
reject, the one principle absolutely essential to that Republic's
continued existence. What two thousand years ago was said of Rome
applies to us:--"Those abuses and corruptions which in time destroy a
government are sown along with the very seeds of it and both grow up
together; and as rust eats away iron, and worms devour wood, and both
are a sort of plagues born and bred with the substance they destroy; so
with every form and scheme of government that man can invent, some vice
or corruption creeps in with the very institution, which grows up along
with and at last destroys it." No wonder, then, that the conflict
is irrepressible and hot; for two instinctive principles of
self-preservation have met in deadly conflict: the South, with the eager
loyalty of the Cavalier, rallies to the standard of King Cotton, while
the North, with the earnest devotion of the Puritan, struggles hard in
defence of the fundamental principles of its liberties and the ark of
its salvation.

Thus over nearly half of the national domain and among a large minority
of the citizens of the Republic, the dynasty of Cotton has worked a
divergence from original principle. Wherever the sway of King Cotton
extends, the people have for the present lost sight of the most
essential of our national attributes. They are seeking to found a great
and prosperous republic on the cultivation of a single staple product,
and not on intelligence universally diffused: consequently they
have founded their house upon the sand. Among them, cotton, and
not knowledge, is power. When thus reduced to its logical
necessities,--brought down, as it were, to the hard pan,--the experience
of two thousand years convincingly proves that their experiment as a
democracy must fail. It is, then, a question of vital importance to
the whole people,--How can this divergence be terminated? Is there any
result, any agency, which can destroy this dynasty, and restore us as a
people to the firm foundations upon which our experiment was begun? Can
the present agitation effect this result? If it could, the country might
joyfully bid a long farewell to "the canker of peace," and "hail the
blood-red blossom of war with a heart of fire"; but the sad answer, that
it cannot, whether resulting in the successor Democrat or Republican,
seems almost too evident for discussion. The present conflict is good so
far as it goes, but it touches only the surface of things. It is well to
drive the Cotton dynasty from the control of the national government;
but the aims of the Republican party can reach no farther, even if it
meet with complete success in that. But even that much is doubtful. The
danger at this point is one ever recurring. Those Northern politicians,
who, in pursuit of their political objects and ambition, unreservedly
bind up their destinies with those of the Cotton dynasty,--the Issachars
of the North, whose strong backs are bowed to receive any burden,--the
men who in the present conflict will see nought but the result of the
maudlin sentimentality of fanatics and the empty cries of ambitious
demagogues,--are not mistaken in their calculations. While Cotton is
King, as it now is, nothing but time or its own insanity can permanently
shake its hold on the national policy. In moments of fierce convulsion,
as at present, the North, like a restive steed, may contest its
supremacy. Let the South, however, bend, not break, before the storm,
and history is indeed "a nurse's tale," if the final victory does not
rest with the party of unity and discipline. While the monopoly of
cotton exists with the South, and it is cultivated exclusively by native
African labor, the national government will as surely tend, in spite of
all momentarily disturbing influences, towards a united South as the
needle to the pole. But even if the government were permanently wrested
from its control, would the evil be remedied? Surely not. The disease
which is sapping the foundations of our liberty is not eradicated
because its workings are forced inward. What remedy is that which leaves
a false and pernicious policy--a policy in avowed war with the whole
spirit of our civilization and in open hostility to our whole experiment
as a government--in full working, almost a religious creed with near
one-half of our people? As a remedy, this would be but a quack medicine
at the best. The cure must be a more thorough one. The remedy we must
look for--the only one which can meet the exigencies of the case--must
be one which will restore to the South the attributes of a democracy. It
must cause our Southern brethren of their own free will to reverse their
steps,--to return from their divergence. It must teach them a purer
Christianity, a truer philosophy, a sounder economy. It must lead them
to new paths of industry. It must gently persuade them that a true
national prosperity is not the result of a total abandonment of
the community to the culture of one staple. It must make them
self-dependent, so that no longer they shall have to import their
corn from the Northwest, their lumber-men and hay from Maine, their
manufactures from Massachusetts, their minerals from Pennsylvania, and
to employ the shipping of the world. Finally, it must make it impossible
for one overgrown interest to plunge the whole community unresistingly
into frantic rebellion or needless war. They must learn that a
well-conditioned state is, so far as may be, perfect in itself,--and,
to be perfect in itself, must be intelligent and free. When these
lessons are taught to the South, then will their divergence cease,
and they will enter upon a new path of enjoyment, prosperity, and
permanence. The world at present pays them an annual bribe of some
$65,000,000 to learn none of these lessons. Their material interest
teaches them to bow down to the shrine of King Cotton. Here, then, lies
the remedy with the disease. The prosperity of the country in general,
and of the South in particular, demands that the reign of King Cotton
should cease,--that his dynasty should be destroyed. This result can
be obtained but in one way, and that seemingly ruinous. The present
monopoly in their great staple commodity enjoyed by the South must be
destroyed, and forever. This result every patriot and well-wisher of the
South should ever long for; and yet, by every Southern statesman and
philosopher, it is regarded as the one irremediable evil possible to
their country. What miserable economy! what feeble foresight! What
principle of political economy is better established than that a
monopoly is a curse to both producer and consumer? To the first it pays
a premium on fraud, sloth, and negligence; and to the second it supplies
the worst possible article, in the worst possible way, at the highest
possible price. In agriculture, in manufactures, in the professions, and
in the arts, it is the greatest bar to improvement with which any branch
of industry can be cursed. The South is now showing to the world an
example of a great people borne down, crushed to the ground, cursed, by
a monopoly. A fertile country of magnificent resources, inhabited by a
great race, of inexhaustible energy, is abandoned to one pursuit;--the
very riches of their position are as a pestilence to their prosperity.
In the presence of their great monopoly, science, art, manufactures,
mining, agriculture,--word, all the myriad branches of industry
essential to the true prosperity of a state,--wither and die, that
sanded cotton may be produced by the most costly of labor. For love of
cotton, the very intelligence of the community, the life-blood of their
polity, is disregarded and forgotten. Hence it is that the marble and
freestone quarries of New England alone are far more important sources
of revenue than all the subterranean deposits of the Servile States.
Thus the monopoly which is the apparent source of their wealth is in
reality their greatest curse; for it blinds them to the fact, that, with
nations as with individuals, a healthy competition is the one essential
to all true economy and real excellence. Monopolists are always blind,
always practise a false economy. Adam Smith tells us that "it is not
more than fifty years ago that some of the counties in the neighborhood
of London petitioned the Parliament against the extension of the
turnpike roads into the remoter counties. Those remoter counties, they
pretended, from the cheapness of labor, would be able to sell their
grass and corn cheaper in the London market than themselves, and would
thereby reduce their rents and ruin their cultivation." The great
economist significantly adds,--"Their rents, however, have risen, and
their cultivation has been improved, since that time." Finally, to-day,
would the cultivation of cereals in the Northwest be improved, if made
a monopoly? would its inhabitants be richer? would their economy be
better? Certainly not. Yet to-day they undersell the world, and, in
spite of competition, are far richer, far more contented and prosperous,
than their fellow-citizens in the South in the full enjoyment of their
boasted dynasty of Cotton.

"Here," said Wellington, on the Eton football ground, "we won the battle
of Waterloo." Not in angry declamation and wordy debate, in threats of
secession and cries for coercion, amid the clash of party-politics, the
windy declamation of blatant politicians, or the dirty scramble for
office, is the destruction of the dynasty of King Cotton to be looked
for. The laws of trade must be the great teacher; and here, as
elsewhere, England, the noble nation of shopkeepers, must be the agent
for the fulfilment of those laws. It is safe to-day to say, that,
through the agency of England, and, in accordance with those laws, under
a continuance of the present profit on that staple, the dynasty of King
Cotton is doomed,--the monopoly which is now the basis of his power will
be a monopoly no more. If saved at all from the blight of this
monopoly, the South will be saved, not in New York or Boston, but in
Liverpool,--not by the thinkers of America, but by the merchants of
England. The real danger of the Cotton dynasty lies not in the hostility
of the North, but in the exigencies of the market abroad; they struggle
not against the varying fortunes of political warfare, but against the
irreversible decrees of Fate. It is the old story of the Rutulian hero;
and now, in the very crisis and agony of the battle, while the Cotton
King is summoning all his resources and straining every nerve to cope
successfully with its more apparent, but less formidable adversary, in
the noisy struggle for temporary power, if it would listen for a moment
to the voice of reason, and observe the still working of the laws of our
being, it, too, might see cause to abandon the contest, with the
angry lament, that, not by its opponent was it vanquished, but by the
hostility of Jupiter and the gods. The operation of the laws of
trade, as touching this monopoly, is beautifully simple. Already the
indications are sufficient to tell us, that, under the sure, but
silent working of those laws, the very profits of the Southern planter
foreshadow the destruction of his monopoly. His dynasty rests upon the
theory, that his negro is the only practical agency for the production
of his staple. But the supply of African labor is limited, and the
increased profit on cotton renders the cost of that labor heavier in
its turn,--the value of the negro rising one hundred dollars for every
additional cent of profit on a pound of cotton. The increased cost of
the labor increases the cost of producing the cotton. The result is
clear; and the history of the cotton-trade has twice verified it. The
increased profits on the staple tempt competition, and, in the increased
cost of production, render it possible. Two courses only are open to the
South: either to submit to the destruction of their monopoly, or to try
to retain it by a cheaper supply of labor. They now feel the pressure of
the dilemma; and hence the cry to reopen the slave-trade. According to
the iron policy of their dynasty, they must inundate their country with
freshly imported barbarism, or compete with the world. They cry out for
more Africans; and to their cry the voice of the civilized world returns
its veto. The policy of King Cotton forces them to turn from the
daylight of free labor now breaking in Texas. On the other hand, it is
not credible that all the land adapted to the growth of the cotton-plant
is confined to America; and, at the present value of the commodity, the
land adapted to its growth would be sought out and used, though buried
now in the jungles of India, the wellnigh impenetrable wildernesses of
Africa, the table-lands of South America, or the islands of the Pacific.
Already the organized energy of England has pushed its explorations,
under Livingstone, Barth, and Clegg, into regions hitherto unknown.
Already, under the increased consumption, one-third of the cotton
consumed at Liverpool is the product of climes other than our own.
Hundreds of miles of railroad in India are opening to the market vast
regions to share in our profits and break down our monopoly. To-day,
India, for home-consumption and exportation, produces twice the amount
of cotton produced in America; and, under the increased profit of late
years, the importation into England from that country has risen from
12,324,200 pounds in 1830, to 77,011,839 pounds in 1840, and, finally,
to 250,338,144 pounds in 1857, or nearly twenty per cent of the whole
amount imported, and more than one-fourth of the whole amount imported
from America. The staple there produced does not, indeed, compare in
quality with our own; but this remark does not apply to the staple
produced in Africa,--the original home of the cotton-plant, as of the
negro,--or to that of the cotton-producing islands of the Pacific. The
inexhaustible fertility of the valley of the Nile--producing, with a
single exception, the finest cotton of the world,--lying on the same
latitude as the cotton-producing States of America, and overflowing
with unemployed labor--will find its profit, at present prices, in the
abandonment of the cultivation of corn, its staple product since the
days of Joseph, to come in competition with the monopoly of the South.
Peru, Australia, Cuba, Jamaica, and even the Feejee Islands, all are
preparing to enter the lists. And, finally, the interior of Africa, the
great unknown and unexplored land, which for centuries has baffled the
enterprise of travellers, seems about to make known her secrets under
the persuasive arguments of trade, and to make her cotton, and not her
children, her staple export in the future. In the last fact is to be
seen a poetic justice. Africa, outraged, scorned, down-trodden, is,
perhaps, to drag down forever the great enslaver of her offspring.

Thus the monopoly of King Cotton hangs upon a thread. Its profits must
fall, or it must cease to exist. If subject to no disturbing influence,
such as war, which would force the world to look elsewhere for its
supply, and thus unnaturally force production elsewhere, the growth of
this competition will probably be slow. Another War of 1812, or any
long-continued civil convulsions, would force England to look to other
sources of supply, and, thus forcing production, would probably be the
death-blow of the monopoly. Apart from all disturbing influences arising
from the rashness of his own lieges, or other causes, the reign of King
Cotton at present prices may be expected to continue some ten years
longer. For so long, then, this disturbing influence may be looked for
in American politics; and then we may hope that this tremendous material
influence, become subject, like others, to the laws of trade and
competition, will cease to threaten our liberties by silently sapping
their very foundation. As in the course of years competition gradually
increases, the effect of this competition on the South will probably be
most beneficial. The change from monopoly to competition, distributed
over many years, will come with no sudden and destructive shock, but
will take place imperceptibly. The fall of the dynasty will be gradual;
and with the dynasty must fall its policy. Its fruits must be eradicated
by time. Under the healing influence of time, the South, still young and
energetic, ceasing to think of one thing alone, will quickly turn its
attention to many. Education will be more sought for, as the policy
which resisted it, and made its diffusion impossible, ceases to exist.
With the growth of other branches of industry, labor will become
respectable and profitable, and laborers will flock to the country; and
a new, a purer, and more prosperous future will open upon the entire
Republic. Perhaps, also, it may in time be discovered that even
slave-labor is most profitable when most intelligent and best
rewarded,--that the present mode of growing cotton is the most wasteful
and extravagant, and one not bearing competition. Thus even the African
may reap benefit from the result, and in his increased self-respect and
intelligence may be found the real prosperity of the master. And thus
the peaceful laws of trade may do the work which agitation has attempted
in vain. Sweet concord may come from this dark chaos, and the world
receive another proof, that material interest, well understood, is
not in conflict, but in beautiful unison with general morality,
all-pervading intelligence, and the precepts of Christianity. Under
these influences, too, the very supply of cotton will probably be
immensely increased. Its cultivation, like the cultivation of their
staple products by the English counties mentioned by Smith, will
not languish, but flourish, under the influence of healthy
competition.--These views, though simply the apparently legitimate
result of principle and experience, are by no means unsupported by
authority. They are the same results arrived at from the reflections of
the most unprejudiced of observers. A shrewd Northern gentleman, who has
more recently and thoroughly than any other writer travelled through the
Southern States, in the final summary of his observations thus covers
all the positions here taken. "My conclusion," says Mr. Olmsted, "is
this,--that there is no physical obstacle in the way of our country's
supplying ten bales of cotton where it now does one. All that is
necessary for this purpose is to direct to the cotton-producing region
an adequate number of laborers, either black or white, or both. No
amalgamation, no association on equality, no violent disruption of
present relations is necessary. It is necessary that there should
be more objects of industry, more varied enterprises, more general
intelligence among the people,--and, especially, that they should
become, or should desire to become, richer, more comfortable, than they
are."

It is not pleasant to turn from this, and view the reverse of the
picture. But, unless our Southern brethren, in obedience to some great
law of trade or morals, return from their divergence,--if, still being
a republic in form, the South close her ears to the great truth, that
education is democracy's first law of self-preservation,--if the dynasty
of King Cotton, unshaken by present indications, should continue
indefinitely, and still the South should bow itself down as now before
its throne,--it requires no gift of prophecy to read her future. As you
sow, so shall you reap; and communities, like individuals, who sow the
wind, must, in the fulness of time, look to reap the whirlwind. The
Constitution of our Federal Union guaranties to each member composing it
a republican form of government; but no constitution can guaranty that
universal intelligence of the people without which, soon or late, a
republican government must become, not only a form, but a mockery. Under
the Cotton dynasty, the South has undoubtedly lost sight of this great
principle; and unless she return and bind herself closely to it, her
fate is fixed. Under the present monopolizing sway of King Cotton,--soon
or late, in the Union, or out of the Union,--her government must
cease to be republican, and relapse into anarchy, unless previously,
abandoning the experiment of democracy in despair, she take refuge in a
government of force. The Northern States, the educational communities,
have apparently little to fear while they cling closely to the
principles inherent in their nature. With the Servile States, or away
from them, the experiment of a constitutional republic can apparently be
carried on with success through an indefinite lapse of time; but
though, with the assistance of an original impetus and custom, they
may temporarily drag along their stumbling brethren of the South, the
catastrophe is but deferred, not avoided. Out of the Union, the more
extreme Southern States--those in which King Cotton has already firmly
established his dynasty--are, if we may judge by passing events, ripe
for the result. The more Northern have yet a reprieve of fate, as having
not yet wholly forgotten the lessons of their origin. The result,
however, be it delayed for one year or for one hundred years, can hardly
admit of doubt. The emergency which is to try their system may not arise
for many years; but passing events warn us that it maybe upon them now.
The most philosophical of modern French historians, in describing the
latter days of the Roman Empire, tells us that "the higher classes of
a nation can communicate virtue and wisdom to the government, if they
themselves are virtuous and wise: but they can never give it strength;
for strength always comes from below; it always proceeds from the
masses." The Cotton dynasty pretends not only to maintain a government
where the masses are slaves, but a republican government where the vast
majority of the higher classes are ignorant. On the intelligence of the
mass of the whites the South must rely for its republican permanence, as
on their arms it must rely for its force; and here again, the words of
Sismondi, written of falling Rome, seem already applicable to the South:
--"Thus all that class of free cultivators, who more than any other
class feel the love of country, who could defend the soil, and who ought
to furnish the best soldiers, disappeared almost entirely. The number
of small farmers diminished to such a degree, that a rich man, a man of
noble family, had often to travel more than ten leagues before falling
in with an equal or a neighbor." The destruction of the republican form
of government is, then, almost the necessary catastrophe; but what will
follow that catastrophe it is not so easy to foretell. The Republic,
thus undermined, will fall; but what shall supply its place? The
tendency of decaying republics is to anarchy; and men take refuge from
the terrors of anarchy in despotism. The South least of all can indulge
in anarchy, as it would at once tend to servile insurrection. They
cannot long be torn by civil war, for the same reason. The ever-present,
all-pervading fear of the African must force them into some government,
and the stronger the better. The social divisions of the South, into the
rich and educated whites, the poor and ignorant whites, and the
servile class, would seem naturally to point to an aristocratic or
constitutional-monarchical form of government. But, in their transition
state, difficulties are to be met in all directions; and the
well-ordered social distinctions of a constitutional monarchy seem
hardly consistent with the time-honored licentious independence and
rude equality of Southern society. The reign of King Cotton, however,
conducted under the present policy, must inevitably tend to increase and
aggravate all the present social tendencies of the Southern system,--
all the anti-republican affinities already strongly developed. It makes
deeper the chasm dividing the rich and the poor; it increases vastly the
ranks of the uneducated; and, finally, while most unnaturally forcing
the increase of the already threatening African infusion, it also tends
to make the servile condition more unendurable, and its burdens heavier.

The modern Southern politician is the least far-seeing of all our
short-sighted classes of American statesmen. In the existence of a
nation, a generation should be considered but as a year in the life of
man, and a century but as a generation of citizens. Soon or late, in the
lives of this generation or of their descendants, in the Union or out
of the Union, the servile members of this Confederacy must, under the
results of the prolonged dynasty of Cotton, make their election either
to purchase their security, like Cuba, by dependence on the strong arm
of external force, or they must meet national exigencies, pass through
revolutions, and destroy and reconstruct governments, making every
movement on the surface of a seething, heaving volcano. All movements of
the present, looking only to the forms of government of the master, must
be carried on before the face of the slave, and the question of class
will ever be complicated by that of caste. What the result of the
ever-increasing tendencies of the Cotton dynasty will be it is therefore
impossible to more than dream. But is it fair to presume that the
immense servile population should thus see upturnings and revolutions,
dynasties rising and falling before their eyes, and ever remain quiet
and contented? "Nothing," said Jefferson, "is more surely written in the
Book of Fate than that this people must be free." Fit for freedom at
present they are not, and, under the existing policy of the Cotton
dynasty, never can be. "Whether under any circumstances they could
become so is not here a subject of discussion; but, surely, the day will
come when the white caste will wish the experiment had been tried. The
argument of the Cotton King against the alleviation of the condition of
the African is, that his nature does not admit of his enjoyment of true
freedom consistently with the security of the community, and therefore
he must have none. But certainly his school has been of the worst. Would
not, perhaps, the reflections applied to the case of the French peasants
of a century ago apply also to them?" It is not under oppression that
we learn how to use freedom. The ordinary sophism by which misrule is
defended is, when truly stilted, this: The people must continue in
slavery, because slavery has generated in them all the vices of slaves;
because they are ignorant, they must remain under a power which has made
and which keeps them ignorant; because they have been made ferocious by
misgovernment, they must be misgoverned forever. If the system under
which they live were so mild and liberal that under its operation they
had become humane and enlightened, it would be safe to venture on a
change; but, as this system has destroyed morality, and prevented the
development of the intellect,--as it has turned men, who might, under
different training, have formed a virtuous and happy community, into
savage and stupid wild beasts, therefore it ought to last forever.
Perhaps the counsellors of King Cotton think that in this case it will;
but all history teaches us another lesson. If there be one spark of love
for freedom in the nature of the African,--whether it be a love common
to him with the man or the beast, the Caucasian or the chimpanzee,--the
love of freedom as affording a means of improvement or an opportunity
for sloth,--the policy of King Cotton will cause it to work its way out.
It is impossible to say how long it will be in so doing, or what weight
the broad back of the African will first be made to bear; but, if the
spirit exist, some day it must out. This lesson is taught us by the
whole recorded history of the world. Moses leading the Children of
Israel up out of Egypt,--Spartacus at the gates of Rome,--the Jacquerie
in France,--Jack Cade and Wat Tyler in England,--Nana Sahib and the
Sepoys in India,--Toussaint l'Ouverture and the Haytiens,--and, finally,
the insurrection of Nat Turner in this country, with those in Guiana,
Jamaica, and St. Lucia: such examples, running through all history,
point the same moral. This last result of the Cotton dynasty may come at
any moment after the time shall once have arrived when, throughout any
great tract of country, the suppressing force shall temporarily, with
all the advantages of mastership, including intelligence and weapons, be
unequal to coping with the force suppressed. That time may still be far
off. Whether it be or not depends upon questions of government and
the events of the chapter of accidents. If the Union should now be
dissolved, and civil convulsions should follow, it may soon be upon us.
But the superimposed force is yet too great under any circumstances, and
the convulsion would probably be but temporary. At present, too, the
value of the slave insures him tolerable treatment; but, as numbers
increase, this value must diminish. Southern statesmen now assert that
in thirty years there will be twelve million slaves in the South; and
then, with increased numbers, why should not the philosophy of the
sugar-plantation prevail, and it become part of the economy of the
Cotton creed, that it is cheaper to work slaves to death and purchase
fresh ones than to preserve their usefulness by moderate employment?
Then the value of the slave will no longer protect him, and then the
end will be nigh. Is this thirty or fifty years off? Perhaps not for
a century hence will the policy of King Cotton work its legitimate
results, and the volcano at length come to its head and defy all
compression.

In one of the stories of the "Arabian Nights" we are told of an Afrite
confined by King Solomon in a brazen vessel; and the Sultana tells
us, that, during the first century of his confinement, he said in his
heart,--"I will enrich whosoever will liberate me"; but no one liberated
him. In the second century he said,--"Whosoever will liberate me, I will
open to him the treasures of the earth"; but no one liberated him. And
four centuries more passed, and he said,--"Whosoever shall liberate me,
I will fulfil for him three wishes"; but still no one liberated him.
Then despair at his long bondage took possession of his soul, and, in
the eighth century, he swore,--"Whosoever shall liberate me, him will
I surely slay!" Let the Southern statesmen look to it well that the
breaking of the seal which confines our Afrite be not deferred till long
bondage has turned his heart, like the heart of the Spirit in the fable,
into gall and wormwood; lest, if the breaking of that seal be deferred
to the eighth or even the sixth century, it result to our descendants
like the breaking of the sixth seal of Revelation,--"And, lo! there was
a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and
the moon became as blood, and the heaven departed as a scroll, when it
is rolled together; and the kings of the earth, and the great men, and
the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every free
man hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains, and
said to the mountains and rocks, 'Fall on us and hide us, for the great
day of wrath is come'" On that day, at least, will end the reign of King
Cotton.

       *       *       *       *       *


GLIMPSES OF GARIBALDI.


FIRST GLIMPSE.


It is a sultry morning in October, and we are steaming in a small
Sardinian boat from Leghorn towards Naples. This city has fallen into
the power of Garibaldi, who is concentrating his forces before Capua,
while the King of Sardinia bears down with a goodly army from the North.

The first object of special interest which comes into view, after we
pass the island of Elba, is Gaeta. Though care is taken not to run near
enough to invite a chase from the Neapolitan frigates, we are yet able
to obtain a distinct view of the last stronghold--the jumping-off place,
as we hope it will prove--of Francis II. The white walls of the fortress
rise grimly out of the sea, touching the land only upon one side, and
looking as though they might task well the resources of modern warfare
to reduce them. We soon make out the smoke of four or five steamers,
which we suppose to be armed vessels, heading towards Gaeta.

About two o'clock we glide into the far-famed Bay of Naples, in company
with the cool sea-breeze which there each afternoon sends to refresh
the heated shore. As we swing round to our moorings, we pass numerous
line-of-battle-ships and frigates bearing the flags of England,
France, and Sardinia, but look in vain and with disappointment for the
star-spangled banner. A single floating representative of American
nationality is obliged to divide the favor of her presence between the
ports of both the Two Sicilies, and at this time she is at the island
portion of the kingdom.

Our craft is at once beset by boats, their owners pushing, vociferating,
and chaffering for fares, as though Mammon, and not Moloch, were the
ruling spirit. Together with a chance companion of the voyage, Signor
Alvigini, _Intendente_ of Genoa, and his party, we are soon in the hands
of the _commissionnaire_ of the Hotel de Rome. As we land, our passports
are received by the police of Victor Emmanuel, who have replaced those
of the late _regime_.

As we enter our carriage, we expect to see streets filled with crowds of
turbulent people, or dotted with knots of persons conversing ominously
in suppressed tones; and streets deserted, with shops closed; and
streets barricaded. But in this matter we are agreeably disappointed.
The shops are all open, the street venders are quietly tending their
tables, people go about their ordinary affairs, and wear their
commonplace, every-day look. The only difference apparent to the eye
between the existing state of things and that which formerly obtained
is, that there are few street brawls and robberies, though every one
goes armed,--that the uniform of the soldiers of Francis II. is replaced
by the dark gray dress of the National Guard,--and that the Hag of
the Tyrant King no longer waves over the castle-prison of Sant' Elmo.
Garibaldi, on leaving Naples, had formally confided the city to the
National Guard; and they had nobly sustained the trust reposed in them.

A letter of introduction to General Orsini, brought safely with us,
though not without adventure, through the Austrian dominions, gains
a courteous reception from General Turr, chief aide-de-camp to the
"Dictator," and a pass to the camp. General Turr, an Hungarian refugee,
is a person of distinguished appearance, not a little heightened by
his peculiar dress, which consists of the usual Garibaldian uniform
partially covered with a white military cloak, which hangs gracefully
over his elegant figure.

After a brief, but pleasant, interview with this gentleman, we climb to
the Castle of Sant' Elmo, built on a high eminence commanding the town,
and with its guns mounted, not so as to defend it against an invading
enemy, but to hurl destruction on the devoted subjects of the Bourbon.
We are told that the people Lad set their hearts on seeing this
fortress, which they look upon as a standing menace, razed to the
ground, and its site covered with peaceful dwellings. And it is not
without regret that we have since learned that Victor Emmanuel has
thought it inexpedient to comply with this wish. Nor, in our ignorance,
can we divest ourselves entirely of the belief that it would have been a
wise as well as conciliatory policy to do so.

We are politely shown over the castle by one of the National Guard, who
hold it in charge, and see lounging upon one of its terraces, carefully
guarded, but kindly allowed all practicable liberty, several officers of
the late power, prisoners where they had formerly held despotic sway. We
descend into the now empty dungeons, dark and noisome as they have been
described, where victims of political accusation or suspicion have pined
for years in dreary solitude. It produces a marked sensation in the
minds of our Italian companions in this sad tour of inspection, when
we tell them, through our guide Antonio, that these cells are the
counterpart of the dungeons of the condemned in the prison of the Doges
of Venice, as we had seen them a few days before,--save that the latter
were better, in their day, in so far as in them the cold stone was
originally lined and concealed by wooden casings, while in those before
us the helpless prisoner in his gropings could touch only the hard rock,
significant of the relentless despotism which enchained him. The walls
are covered with the inscriptions of former tenants. In One place we
discover a long line of marks in groups of fives,--like the tallies of
our boyish sports,--but here used for how different a purpose! Were
these the records of days, or weeks, or months? The only furniture of
the cells is a raised platform of wood, the sole bed of the miserable
inmate. The Italian visitors, before leaving, childishly vent their
useless rage at the sight of these places of confinement, by breaking to
pieces the windows and shutters, and scattering their fragments on the
floor.

We have returned from Sant' Elmo, and, evening having arrived, are
sitting in the smoking-room of the Hotel de Grande Bretagne, conversing
with one of the English Volunteers, when our friend General J--n of the
British Army, one of the lookers-on in Naples, comes in, having just
returned from "the front." He brings the news of a smart skirmish which
has taken place during the day; of the English "Excursionists" being
ordered out in advance; of their rushing with alacrity into the thickest
of the fight, and bravely sustaining the conflict,--being, indeed,
with difficulty withheld by their officers from needlessly exposing
themselves. But this inspiring news is tinged with sadness. One of their
number, well known and much beloved, had fallen, killed instantly by a
bullet through the head. Military ardor, aroused by the report of
brave deeds, is for a few moments held in abeyance by grief, and
then rekindled by the desire of vengeance. Hot blood is up, and the
prevailing feeling is a longing for a renewal of the fight. We are told,
if we wish to see an action, to go to "the front" to-morrow. Accordingly
we decide to be there.

The following day, our faithful _commissionnaire_, Antonio, places us
in a carriage drawn by a powerful pair of horses, and headed for the
Garibaldian camp. A hamper of provisions is not forgotten, and before
starting we cause Antonio to double the supplies: we have a presentiment
that we may find with whom to share them.

There are twelve miles before us to the nearest point in the camp, which
is Caserta. Our chief object being to see the hero of Italy, if we do
not find him at Caserta, we shall push on four miles farther, to Santa
Maria; and, missing him there, ride still another four miles to Sant'
Angelo, where rests the extreme right of the army over against Capua.

As we ride over the broad and level road from Naples to Caserta,
bordered with lines of trees through its entire length, we are surprised
to see not only husbandmen quietly tilling the fields, but laborers
engaged in public works upon the highway, as if in the employ of a long
established authority, and making it difficult to believe that we are
in the midst of civil war, and under a provisional government of a few
weeks' standing. But this and kindred wonders are fruits of the spell
wrought by Garibaldi, who wove the most discordant elements into
harmony, and made hostile factions work together for the common good,
for the sake of the love they bore to him.

About mid-day we arrive at a redoubt which covers a part of the road,
leaving barely enough space for one vehicle to pass. We are of course
stopped, but are courteously received by the officer of the guard.
We show our pass from General Turr, giving us permission "freely to
traverse all parts of the camp," and being told to drive on, find
ourselves within the lines. As we proceed, we see laborers busily
engaged throwing up breastworks, soldiers reposing beneath the trees,
and on every side the paraphernalia of war.

Garibaldi is not here, nor do we find him at Santa Maria. So we prolong
our ride to the twentieth mile by driving our reeking, but still
vigorous horses to Sant' Angelo.

We are now in sight of Capua, where Francis II. is shut up with a strong
garrison. The place is a compact walled town, crowned by the dome of a
large and handsome church, and situated in a plain by the side of the
Volturno. Though, contrary to expectation, there is no firing to-day, we
see all about us the havoc of previous cannonadings. The houses we pass
are riddled with round shot thrown by the besieged, and the ground is
strewn with the limbs of trees severed by iron missiles. But where is
Garibaldi? No one knows. Yonder, however, is a lofty hill, and upon its
summit we descry three or four persons. It is there, we are told, that
the Commander-in-Chief goes to observe the enemy, and among the forms we
see is very probably the one we seek.

We have just got into our carriage again, and are debating as to whither
we shall go next, when we are addressed from the road-side in English.
There, dressed in the red shirt, are three young men, all not far from
twenty years of age, members of the British regiment of "Excursionists."
They are out foraging for their mess, and ask a ride with us to Santa
Maria. We are only too glad of their company; and off we start, a
carriage-full. Then commences a running fire of question and response.
We find the society of our companions a valuable acquisition. They are
from London,--young men of education, and full of enthusiasm for
the cause of Italian liberty. One of them is a connection of our
distinguished countrywoman, Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe. Before going to
Santa Maria, they insist on doing the honors, and showing the objects
of interest the vicinity. So they take us to their barrack, a large
farm-house, and thence to "the front." To the latter spot our coachman
declines driving, as his horses are not bullet-proof, and the enemy is
not warranted to abstain from firing during our visit. So, proceeding on
foot, we reach a low breastwork of sand-bags, with an orchard in advance
of it. Here, our companions tell us, was the scene of yesterday's
skirmish, in which they took an active part. The enemy had thrown out a
detachment of sharp-shooters, who had entered the wood, and approached
the breastwork. A battalion of the English Volunteers was ordered up. As
they marched eagerly forwards, a body of Piedmontese, stationed a little
from the road, shouted, "_Vivano gl' Inglesi! Vivano gl' Inglesi!_"
At the breastworks where we are standing, the word was given to break
ranks, and skirmish. Instantly they sprang over the wall, and took
position behind the trees, to shoot "wherever they saw a head." Each
soldier had his "covering man,"--a comrade stationed about ten feet
behind him, whose duty it was to keep his own piece charged ready to
kill any of the enemy who might attempt to pick off the leading man
while the latter was loading. One of my young friends had the hammer of
his rifle shot off in his hand. He kept his position till another weapon
was passed out to him. The action lasted till evening, when the enemy
drew off, there being various and uncertain reports as to their loss.
Our British cousins had some ten wounded, besides the one killed.
Fighting royalists, we will mention here, was no fancy-work about that
time, as the Neapolitans had an ugly trick of extinguishing the eyes of
their prisoners, and then putting their victims to death.

We return to our carriage, drive into a sheltered spot, and give the
word of command to Antonio to open the hamper and deploy his supplies,
when hungry soldiers vie with the ravenous traveller in a knife-and-fork
skirmish. No fault was found with the _cuisine_ of the Hotel de Grande
Bretagne.

The rations disposed of, we set off again for Santa Maria. Arrived at
the village, at the request of our companions, we visit with them a
hospital, to see one of their comrades, wounded in the action of the
preceding day, and, as we are known to profess the healing art, to give
our opinion as to his condition. We enter a large court-yard surrounded
with farm-buildings, one wing of which is devoted to hospital purposes.
We find the wards clean and well ventilated, and wearing the look of
being well attended. This favorable condition is owing in great measure
to the interposition and supervision of several ladies, among whom are
specially mentioned the two daughters of an English clergyman, without
omitting the name of the Countess della Torres. The wounded comrade of
our friends had been struck by a ball, which had not been readied by the
probe, and was supposed to have entered the lung. The poor young fellow
draws his rapid breath with much pain, but is full of pluck, and meets
the encouraging assurances of his friends with a smile and words of
fortitude. Some time afterwards we learn that he is convalescent, though
in a disabled state.

It now becomes necessary to say our mutual farewells, which we do as
cordially as though we had been old friends. We go our respective ways,
to meet once more in Italy, and to renew our acquaintance again in
London, where we subsequently spend a pleasant evening together by a
cheerful English fireside.

Scarcely have we parted with these new-found friends of kindred blood
and common language, when we are provided with another companion.
An Italian officer asks a seat with us to Caserta. Our letter of
introduction to General Orsini being shown to him, he volunteers to
assist us in attaining our object, that of seeing the hero of Italy.
At five, we are before the palace of Caserta, now a barrack, and the
head-quarters of the Commander-in-Chief. The building is one of great
size and beauty of architecture. A lofty arch, sustained by elegant and
massive marble pillars, bisects the structure, and on either side one
may pass from the archway into open areas of spacious dimensions, from
which lead passages to the various offices. We approach a very splendid
marble staircase leading to the state apartments. A sentinel forbids us
to pass. This is, then, perhaps, the part of the building occupied by
the Commander-in-Chief. Not so. The state apartments are unoccupied, and
are kept sacred from intrusion, as the property of the nation to which
they are to belong. Garibaldi's apartments are among the humblest in the
palace. We go on to the end of the archway, and see, stretching as far
as the eye can reach, the Royal Drive, leading through a fine avenue of
trees, and reminding us of the "Long Walk" at Windsor Castle. Retracing
our steps, and crossing one of the court-yards, we ascend a modest
staircase, and are in the antechamber of the apartments of the
Commander-in-Chief. There are sentinels at the outer door, others at
the first landing, and a guard of honor, armed with halberds, in the
antechamber. Our courteous companion, by virtue of his official rank,
has passed us without difficulty by the sentries, and quits us to
discharge the duty which brought him to Caserta.

We are now eagerly expectant of the arrival of him whose face we have so
long sought The hour is at hand when he joins his military family at an
unostentatious and very frugal dinner. In about half an hour there is
a sudden cessation in the hum of conversation, the guard is ordered to
stand to arms, and in a moment more, amid profound silence, Garibaldi
has passed through the antechamber, leaving the place, as it were,
pervaded by his presence. We had beheld an erect form, of rather low
stature, but broad and compact, a lofty brow, a composed and thoughtful
face, with decision and reserved force depicted on every line of it.
In the mien and carriage we had seen realized all that we had read and
heard of the air of one born to command.

Our hero wore the characteristic red shirt and gray trousers, and,
thrown over them, a short gray cloak faced with red. When without the
cloak, there might be seen, hanging upon the back, and fastened around
the throat, the party-colored kerchief usually appertaining to priestly
vestments.

Returning to Naples, and sitting that night at our window, with the most
beautiful of bays before us, we treasure up for perpetual recollection
the picture of Garibaldi at head-quarters.


GARIBALDI AT POMPEII.


It is Sunday, the 21st of October. We have to-day observed the people,
in the worst quarters of the city as well as in the best, casting their
ballots in an orderly and quiet manner, under the supervision of the
National Guard, for Victor Emmanuel as their ruler. To-morrow we have
set apart for exploring Pompeii, little dreaming what awaits us there.
Our friend, General J--n, of the British Army, learning that there is no
likelihood of active operations at "the front," proposes to join us in
our excursion.

We are seated in the restaurant at the foot of the acclivity which
leads to the exhumed city, when suddenly Antonio appears and exclaims,
"Garibaldi!" We look in the direction he indicates, and, in an avenue
leading from the railway, we behold the Patriot-Soldier of Italy
advancing toward us, accompanied by the Countess Pallavicini, the wife
of the Prodictator of Naples, and attended by General Turr, with several
others of his staff. We go out to meet them. General J--n, a warm
admirer of Garibaldi, gives him a cordial greeting, and presents us as
an American. We say a few words expressive of the sympathy entertained
by the American people for the cause of Italy and its apostle. He whom
we thus address, in his reply, professes his happiness in enjoying the
good wishes of Americans, and, gracefully turning to our friend, adds,
"I am grateful also for the sympathy of the English." The party then
pass on, and we are left with the glowing thought that we have grasped
the hand of Garibaldi.

Half an hour later, we are absorbed in examining one of the structures
of what was once Pompeii, when suddenly we hear martial music. We follow
the direction of the sound, and presently find ourselves in the ancient
forum. In the centre of the inclosure is a military band playing the
"Hymn of Garibaldi"; while at its northern extremity, standing, facing
us, between the columns of the temple of Jupiter, with full effect given
to the majesty of his bearing, is Garibaldi. Moved by the strikingly
contrasting associations of the time and the place, we turn to General
J--n, saying, "Behold around us the symbols of the death of Italy, and
there the harbinger of its resurrection." Our companion, fired with a
like enthusiasm, immediately advances to the base of the temple, and,
removing his hat, repeats the words in the presence of those there
assembled.


GARIBALDI AT "THE FRONT."


Once again we look in the eye of this wonderful man, and take him by the
hand. This time it is at "the front." On Saturday, the 27th of October,
we are preparing to leave Naples for Rome by the afternoon boat, when we
receive a message from General J--n that the bombardment of Capua is to
begin on the following day at ten o'clock, and inviting us to join his
party to the camp. Accordingly, postponing our departure for the North,
we get together a few surgical instruments, and take a military train
upon the railway in the afternoon for the field of action.

Our party consists of General J--n, General W., of Virginia, Captain
G., a Scotch officer serving in Italy, and ourself. Arrived at Caserta,
Captain G., showing military despatches, is provided with a carriage, in
which we all drive to the advanced post at Sant' Angelo. We reach this
place at about eight o'clock, when we ride and walk through the camp,
which presents a most picturesque aspect, illuminated as it is by a
brilliant moon. We see clusters of white tents, with now and then the
general silence broken by the sound of singing wafted to us from among
them,--here and there tired soldiers lying asleep on the ground, covered
with their cloaks,--horses picketed in the fields,--camp-fires burning
brightly in various directions; while all seems to indicate the profound
repose of men preparing for serious work on the morrow. We pass and
repass a bridge, a short time before thrown across the Volturno. A
portion of the structure has broken down; but our English friends
congratulate themselves that the part built by their compatriots has
stood firm. We exchange greetings with Colonel Bourdonne, who is on duty
here for the night, superintending the repairs of the bridge, and who
kindly consigns us to his quarters.

Arrived at the farm-house where Colonel Bourdonne has established
himself, and using his name, we are received with the utmost attention
by the servants. The only room at their disposal, fortunately a large
one, they soon arrange for our accommodation. To General J---n, the
senior of the party, is assigned the only bed; an Italian officer
occupies a sofa; while General W., Captain G., and ourself are ranged,
"all in a row," on bags of straw placed upon the floor. Of the
merriment, prolonged far into the night, and making the house resound
with peals of laughter,--not at all to the benefit, we fear, of several
wounded officers in a neighboring room,--we may not write.

Sunday is a warm, clear, summer-like day, and our party climb the
principal eminence of Sant' Angelo to witness the expected bombardment.
We reach the summit at ten minutes before ten, the hour announced for
opening fire. We find several officers assembled there,--among them
General H., of Virginia. Low tone of conversation and a restrained
demeanor are impressed on all; for, a few paces off, conferring with
two or three confidential aids, is the man whose very presence is
dignity,--Garibaldi.

Casting our eye over the field, we cannot realize that there are such
hosts of men under arms about us, till a military guide by our side
points out their distribution to us.

"Look there!" says General H., pointing to an orchard beneath. "Under
those trees they are swarming thick as bees. There are ten thousand men,
at least, in that spot alone."

With an opera-glass we can distinctly scan the walls of Capua, and
observe that they are not yet manned. But the besieged are throwing out
troops by thousands into the field before our lines. We remark one large
body drawn up in the shelter of the shadow cast by a large building.
Every now and then, from out this shadow, a piercing ray of light is
shot, reflected from the helm or sword-case of the commanding officer,
who is gallantly riding up and down before his men, and probably
haranguing them in preparation for the expected conflict. All these
things strike the attention with a force and meaning far different from
the impression produced by the holiday pageantry of mimic war.

The Commander-in-Chief is now disengaged, and our party approach him
to pay their respects. By the advice of General J---n, we proffer our
medical services for the day; and we receive a pressure of the hand, a
genial look, and a bind acknowledgment of the offer. But we are told
there will be no general action to-day. Our report of these words, as
we rejoin our companions, is the first intimation given that the
bombardment is deferred. But, though, there is some disappointment,
their surprise is not extreme. For Garibaldi never informs even his
nearest aide-de-camp what he is about to do. In fact, he quaintly says,
"If his shirt knew his plans, he would take it off and burn it." Some
half-hour later, having descended from the eminence, we take our last
look of Garibaldi. He has retired with a single servant to a sequestered
place upon the mount, whither he daily resorts, and where his mid-day
repast is brought to him. Here he spends an hour or two secure from
interruption. What thoughts he ponders in his solitude the reader may
perhaps conjecture as well as his most intimate friend. But for us, with
the holy associations of a very high mountain before our mind, we can
but trust that a prayer, "uttered or unexpressed," invokes the divine
blessing upon the work to which Garibaldi devotes himself,--the
political salvation of his country.

       *       *       *       *       *


TWO OR THREE TROUBLES.

[Concluded.]


Every day, and twice a day, came Mr. Sampson,--though I have not said
much about it; and now it was only a week before our marriage. This
evening he came in very weary with his day's work,--getting a wretched
man off from hanging, who probably deserved it richly. (It is said,
women are always for hanging: and that is very likely. I remember, when
there had been a terrible murder in our parlors, as it were, and it was
doubtful for some time whether the murderer would be convicted, Mrs.
Harris said, plaintively, "Oh, do hang somebody!") Mr. Sampson did
not think so, apparently, but sat on the sofa by the window, dull and
abstracted.

If I had been his wife, I should have done as I always do now in such a
case: walked up to him, settled the sofa-cushion, and said,--"Here, now!
lie down, and don't speak a word for two hours. Meantime I will tell you
who has been here, and everything." Thus I should rest and divert him by
idle chatter, bathing his tired brain with good Cologne; and if, in the
middle of my best story and funniest joke, he fairly dropped off to
sleep, I should just fan him softly, keep the flies away, say in my
heart, "Bless him! there he goes! hands couldn't mend him!"--and then
look at him with as much more pride and satisfaction than, at any other
common wide-awake face as it is possible to conceive.

However, not being married, and having a whole week more to be silly
in, I was both silly and suspicious. This was partly his fault. He was
reserved, naturally and habitually; and as he didn't tell me he was
tired and soul-weary, I never thought of that. Instead, as he sat on the
sofa, I took a long string of knitting-work and seated myself across the
room,--partly so that he might come to me, where there was a good seat.
Then, as he did not cross the room, but still sat quietly on the sofa,
I began to wonder and suspect. Did he work too hard? Did he dread
undertaking matrimony? Did he wish he could get off? Why did he not come
and speak to me? What had I done? Nothing! Nothing!

Here Laura came in to say she was going to Mrs. Harris's to get the
newest news about sleeves. Mrs. Harris for sleeves; Mrs. Gore for
bonnets; and for housekeeping, recipes, and all that, who but Mrs.
Parker, who knew that, and a hundred other things? Many-sided are we
all: talking sentiment with this one, housekeeping with that, and to a
third saying what wild horses would not tear from us to the two first!

Laura went. And presently he said, wearily, but _I_ thought drearily,--

"Delphine, are you all ready to be married?"

The blood flushed from my heart to my forehead and back again. So, then,
he thought I was ready and waiting to drop like a ripe plum into his
mouth, without his asking me! Am I ready, indeed? And suppose I am
not? Perhaps I, too, may have my misgivings. A woman's place is not a
sinecure. Troubles, annoyances, as the sparks fly upward! Buttons to
begin with, and everything to end with! What did Mrs. Hemans say, poor
woman?

  "Her lot is on you! silent tears to weep,
  And patient smiles to wear through suffering's hour,
  And sumless riches from affection's deep
  To pour on"--something--"a wasted shower!"

Yes, wasted, indeed! I hadn't answered a word to his question.

"It seems warm in this room," said he again, languidly; "shall we walk
on the piazza?"

"I think not," I answered, curtly; "I am not warm."

Even that, did not bring him to me. He still leaned his head on his hand
for a minute or two, and then rose from the sofa and sat by the window,
looking at the western sky, where the sun had long gone down. I could
see his profile against the outer light, however, and it did not look
placid. His brow was knit and mouth compressed. So, then, it was all
very likely!

Having set out on my race of suspecting, my steeds did not lag. They
were winged already, and I goaded them continually with memories. There
was nothing I did not think of or accuse him of,--especially, the last
and worst sin of breaking off our engagement at the eleventh hour!--and
I, who had suffered silently, secretly, untold torments about that name
of his,--nobody, no man, could ever guess how keenly, because no man can
ever feel as a woman does about such things! Men,--they would as soon
marry Tabitha as Juliana. They could call her "Wife." It made no matter
to them. What did any man care, provided she chronicled small beer,
whether she had taste, feeling, sentiment, anything? Here I was wrong,
as most passionate people are at some time in their lives. Some men do
care.

At the moment I had reached the top-most pinnacle of my wrath, and was
darting lightnings on all mankind, Polly showed in Lieutenant Herbert,
with his book of promised engravings.

With a natural revulsion of temper, I descended rapidly from my
pinnacle, and, stepping half-way across the room, met the Lieutenant
with unusual cordiality. Mr. Sampson bowed slightly and sat still. I
drew two chairs towards the centre-table, lighted the argand, and seated
myself with the young officer to examine and admire the beautiful
forms in which the gifted artist has clothed the words rather than the
thoughts of the writer,--out of the coarse real, lifting the scenes into
the sweet ideal,--and out of the commonest, rudest New-England life,
bringing the purest and most charming idyllic song. We did not say this.

I looked across at the window, where still sat the figure, motionless.
Not a word from him. I looked at Lieutenant Herbert. He was really very
handsome, with an imperial brow, and roseate lips like a girl's. Somehow
he made me think of Claverhouse,--so feminine in feature, so martial in
action! Then he talked,--talked really quite well,--reflected my own
ideas in an animated and eloquent manner.

Why it was,--whether Herbert suspected we had had a lovers' quarrel,--or
whether his vanity was flattered at my attention to him, which was
entirely unusual,--or whether my own excited, nervous condition led me
to express the most joyous life and good-humor, and shut down all my
angry sorrow and indignant suspicions, while I smiled and danced over
their sepulchre,--however it was, I know not,--but a new sparkle
came into the blue eyes of the young militaire. He was positively
entertaining. Conscious that he was talking well, he talked better. He
recited poetry; he was even witty, or seemed so. With the magnetism of
cordial sympathy, I called out from his memory treasures new and old. He
became not only animated, but devoted.

All this time the figure at the window sat calm and composed. It was
intensely, madly provoking. He was so very sure of me, it appeared, he
would not take the trouble to enter the lists to shiver a lance with
this elegant young man with the beautiful name, the beautiful lips, and
with, for the last half-hour at least, the beautiful tongue. He would
not trouble himself to entertain his future wife. He would not trouble
himself even to speak. Very well! Very well indeed! Did the Lieutenant
like music? If "he" did not care a jot for me, perhaps others did. My
heart beat very fast now; my cheeks burned, and my lips were parched. A
glass of water restored me to calmness, and I sat at the piano. Herbert
turned over the music, while I rattled off whatever came to my fingers'
ends,--I did not mind or know what. It was very fine, I dare say. He
whispered that it was "so beautiful!"--and I answered nothing, but kept
on playing, playing, playing, as the little girl in the Danish story
keeps on dancing, dancing, dancing, with the fairy red shoes on. Should
I play on forever? In the church,--out of it,--up the street,--down the
street,--out in the fields,--under the trees,--by the wood,--by the
water,--in cathedrals,--I heard something murmuring,--something softly,
softly in my ear. Still I played on and on, and still something murmured
softly, softly in my ear. I looked at the window. The head was leaned
down, and resting on both arms. Fast asleep, probably. Then I played
louder, and faster, and wilder.

Then, for the first time, as deaf persons are said to hear well in
the noise of a crowded street, or in a rail-car, so did I hear in the
musical tumult, for the first time, the words of Herbert. They had been
whispered, and I had heard, but not perceived them, till this moment.

I turned towards him, looked him full in the face, and dropped both
hands into my lap. Well might I be astonished! He started and blushed
violently, but said nothing. As for me, I was never more calm in my
life. In the face of a real mistake, all imaginary ones fell to the
ground, motionless as so many men of straw. With an instinct that went
before thought, and was born of my complete love and perfect reliance on
my future husband, I pushed back the music-stool, and walked straight
across the room to the window.

His head was indeed leaned on his arms; but he was white and insensible.

"Come here!" I said, sternly and commandingly, to Herbert, who stood
where I had left him. "Now, if you can, hold him, while I wheel this
sofa;--and now, ring the bell, if you please."

We placed him on the couch, and Polly came running in.

"Now, good-night, Sir; we can take care of him. With very many thanks
for your politeness," I added, coldly; "and I will send home the book
to-morrow."

He muttered something about keeping it as long as I wished, and I turned
my back on him.

"Oh! oh!--what had _he_ thought all this time?--what had he suffered?
How his heart must have been agonized!--how terribly he must have felt
the mortification,--the distress! Oh!"

We recovered him at length from the dead faint into which he had fallen.
Polly, who thought but of the body, insisted on bringing him "a good
heavy-glass of Port-wine sangaree, with toasted crackers in it"; and
wouldn't let him speak till he had drunken and eaten. Then she went out
of the room, and left me alone with my justly incensed lover.

I took a _brioche_, and sat down humbly at the head of the sofa. He held
out his hand, which I took and pressed in mine,--silently, to be
sure; but then no words could tell how I had felt, and now felt,--how
humiliated! how grieved! How wrongly I must have seemed to feel and to
act! how wrongly I must have acted,--though my conscience excused me
from feeling wrongly,--so to have deluded Herbert!

At last I murmured something regretful and tearful about Lieutenant
Herbert--Herbert! how I had admired that name!--and now, this Ithuriel
touch, how it had changed it and him forever to me! What was in a
name?--sure enough! As I gazed on the pale face on the couch, I should
not have cared, if it had been named Alligator,--so elevated was I
beyond all I had thought or called trouble of that sort! so real was the
trouble that could affect the feelings, the sensitiveness, of the noble
being before me!

At length he spoke, very calmly and quietly, setting down the empty
tumbler. I trembled, for I knew it must come.

"I was so glad that fool came in, Del! For, to tell the truth, I felt
really too weak to talk. I haven't slept for two nights, and have been
on my feet and talking for four hours,--then I have had no dinner"--

"Oh!"

"And a damned intelligent jury, (I beg your pardon, but it's a great
comfort to swear, sometimes,) that I can't humbug. But I must! I must,
to-morrow!" he exclaimed, springing up from the sofa and walking
hurriedly across the room.

"Oh, do sit down, if you are so tired!"

"I cannot sit down, unless you will let me stop thinking. I have but one
idea constantly."

"But if the man is guilty, why do you want to clear him?" said I.

Not a word had he been thinking of me or of Herbert all this time! But
then he had been thinking of a matter of life and death. How all, all my
foolish feelings took to flight! It was some comfort that my lover had
not either seen or suspected them. He thought he must have been nearly
senseless for some time. The last he remembered was, we were looking at
some pictures.

Laura came in from Mrs. Harris's, and, hearing how the case was,
insisted on having a chicken broiled, and that he should eat some
green-apple tarts, of her own cooking,--not sentimental, nor even
wholesome, but they suited the occasion; and we sat, after that, all
three talking, till past twelve o'clock. No danger now, Laura said, of
bad dreams, if he did go to bed.

"But why do you care so very much, if you don't get him off?--you
suppose him guilty, you say?"

"Because, Delphine, his punishment is abominably disproportioned to his
offence. This letter of the law killeth. And then I would get him off,
if possible, for the sake of his son and the family. And besides all
that, Del, it is not for me to judge, you know, but to defend him."

"Yes,--but if you do your best?" I inquired.

"A lawyer never does his best," he replied, hastily, "unless he
succeeds. He must get his client's case, or get him off, I must get some
sleep to-night," he added, "and take another pull. There's a man on the
jury,--he is the only one who holds out. I know I don't get him. And I
know why. I see it in the cold steel of his eyes. His sister was left,
within a week of their marriage-day, by a scoundrel,--left, too, to
disgrace, as well as desertion,--and his heart is bitter towards all
offences of the sort. I must get that man somehow!"

He was standing on the steps, as he spoke, and bidding me good-night;
but I saw his head and heart were both full of his case, _and nothing
else._

The words rang in my ear after he went away: "Within a week of their
marriage-day!" In a week we were to have been married. Thank Heaven, we
were still to be married in a week. And he had spoken of the man as "a
scoundrel," who left her. America, indeed! what matters it? Still, there
would be the same head, the same heart, the same manliness, strength,
nobleness,--all that a woman can truly honor and love. Not military, and
not a scoundrel; but plain, massive, gentle, direct. He would do. And a
sense of full happiness pressed up to my very lips, and bubbled over in
laughter.

"You are a happy girl, Del. Mrs. Harris says the court and everybody is
talking of Mr. Sampson's great plea in that Shore case. Whether he gets
it or not, his fortune is made. They say there hasn't been such an
argument since Webster's time,--so irresistible. It took every body off
their feet."

I did not answer a word,--only clothed my soul with sackcloth and ashes,
and called it good enough for me.

We went to bed. But in the middle of the night I waked Laura.

"What's the matter?" said she, springing out of bed.

"Don't, Laura!--nothing," said I.

"Oh, I thought you were ill! I've been sleeping with one eye open, and
just dropped away. What is it?"

"Do lie down, then. I only wanted to ask you a question."

"Oh, _do_ go to sleep! It's after three o'clock now. We never shall get
up. Haven't you been asleep yet?"

"No,--I've been thinking all the time. But you are impatient. It's no
matter. Wait till to-morrow morning."

"No. I am awake now. Tell me, and be done with it, Del."

"But I shall want your opinion, you know."

"Oh, _will_ you tell me, Del?"

"Well, it is this. How do you think a handsome, a _very_ handsome
chess-table would do?"

"Do!--for what?"

"Why,--for my aunt's wedding-gift, you know."

"Oh, that! And you have waked me up, at this time of night, from the
nicest dream! You cruel thing!"

"I am so sorry, Laura! But now that you are awake, just tell me how you
like the idea;--I won't ask you another word."

"Very well,--very good,--excellent," murmured Laura.

In the course of the next ten minutes, however, I remembered that Laura
never played chess, and that I had heard Mr. Sampson say once that he
never played now,--that it was too easy for work, and too hard for
amusement. So I put the chess-table entirely aside, and began again.

A position for sleep is, unluckily, the one that is sure to keep one
awake. Lying down, all the blood in my body kept rushing to my brain,
keeping up perpetual images of noun substantives. If I could have spent
my fifty dollars in verbs, in taking a journey, in giving a _fete
champetre_! (Garden lighted with Chinese lanterns, of course,--house
covered inside and out with roses.) Things enough, indeed, there were to
be bought. But the right thing!

A house, a park, a pair of horses, a curricle, a pony-phaeton. But how
many feet of ground would fifty dollars buy?--and scarcely the hoof of
a horse.

There was a diamond ring. Not for me; because "he" had been too poor
to offer me one. But I could give it to him. No,--that wouldn't do. He
wouldn't wear it,--nor a pin of ditto. He had said, simplicity in dress
was good economy and always good taste. No. Then something else,--that
wouldn't wear, wouldn't tear, wouldn't lose, rust, break.

As to clothes, to which I swung back in despair,--this very Aunt Allen
had always sent us all our clothes. So it would only be getting
more, and wouldn't seem to be anything. She was an odd kind of
woman,--generous in spots, as most people are, I believe. Laura and
I both said, (to each other,) that, if she would allow us a hundred
dollars a year each, we could dress well and suitably on it. But,
instead of that, she sent us every year, with her best love, a
trunk full of her own clothes, made for herself, and only a little
worn,--always to be altered, and retrimmed, and refurbished: so that,
although worth at first perhaps even more than two hundred dollars,
they came, by their unfitness and non-fitness, to be worth to us only
three-quarters of that sum; and Laura and I reckoned that we lost
exactly fifty dollars a year by Aunt Allen's queerness. So much for our
gratitude! Laura and I concluded it would be a good lesson to us about
giving; and she had whispered to me something of the same sort, when
I insisted on dressing Betsy Ann Hemmenway, a little mulatto, in an
Oriental caftan and trousers, and had promised her a red sash for her
waist. To be sure, Mrs. Hemmenway despised the whole thing, and said she
"wouldn't let Betsy Ann be dressed up like a circus-rider, for nobody";
and that she should "wear a bonnet and mantilly, like the rest of
mankind." Which, indeed, she did,--and her bonnet rivalled the
_coiffures_ of Paris in brilliancy and procrastination; for it never
came in sight till long after its little mistress. However, of that
by-and-by. I was only too glad that Aunt Allen had not sent me another
silk gown "with her best love, and, as she was only seventy, perhaps it
might be useful." No,--here was the fifty-dollar note, thank Plutus!

But then, what to do with it? Sleeping, that was the question. Waking,
that was the same.

At twelve o'clock Mr. Sampson came to dine with us, and to say he was
the happiest of men.

"That is, of course, I shall be, next week," said he, smiling and
correcting himself. "But I am rather happy now; for I've got my case,
and Shore has sailed for Australia. Good riddance, and may he never
touch _these_ shores any more!"

He had been shaking hands with everybody, he said,--and was so glad to
be out of it!

"Now that it is all over, I wish you would tell me why you are so glad,
when you honestly believe the man guilty," said I.

"Oh, my child, you are supposing the law to be perfect. Suppose the old
English law to be in force now, making stealing a capital offence. You
wouldn't hang a starving woman or child who stole the baker's loaf from
your window-sill this morning before Polly had time to take it in, would
you? Yet this was the law until quite lately."

"After all, I don't quite see either how you can bear to defend him, if
you think him guilty, or be glad to have him escape, if he is,--I mean,
supposing the punishment to be a fair one."

"Because I am a frail and erring man, Delphine, and like to get my case.
If my client is guilty,--as we will suppose, for the sake of argument,
he is,--he will not be likely to stop his evil career merely because he
has got off now, and will be caught and hanged next time, possibly.
If he does stop sinning, why, so much the better to have time for
repentance, you know."

"Don't laugh,--now be serious."

"I am. Once, I made up my mind as to my client's guilt from what he told
and did not tell me, and went into court with a heavy heart. However, in
the course of the trial, evidence, totally unexpected to all of us, was
brought forward, and my client's innocence fully established. It was a
good lesson to me. I learned by experience that the business of counsel
is to defend or to prosecute, and not to judge. The judge and jury are
stereoscopic and see the whole figure."

How wise and nice it sounded! Any way, I wasn't a stereoscope, for I saw
but one side,--the one "he" was on.

Monday morning. And we were to be married in the evening,--by ourselves,
--nobody else. That was all the stipulation my lover made.

"I will be married morning, noon, or night, as you say, and dress and
behave as you say; but not in a crowd of even three persons."

"Not even Laura?"

"Oh, yes! Laura."

"Not even Polly?"

"Oh, yes! the household."

And then he said, softly, that, if I wanted to please him,--and he knew
his darling Del did,--I would dress in a white gown of some sort, and
put a tea-rose in my beautiful dark hair, and have nobody by but just
the family and old Mr. Price, the Boynton minister.

"I know that isn't what you thought of, exactly. You thought of being
married in church"----

"Oh, dear, dear! old Mr. Price!"--but I did not speak.

"But if you would be willing?"----

"I supposed it would be more convenient," I muttered.

Visions of myself walking up the aisle, with a white silk on, tulle
veil, orange-flowers, of course, (so becoming!) house crowded with
friends, collation, walking under the trees,--all faded off with a
mournful cry.

It was of no use talking. Whatever he thought best, I should do, if it
were to be married by the headsman, supposing there were such a person.
This was all settled, then, and had been for a week.

Nobody need say that lovers, or even married lovers, have but one mind.
They have two minds always. And that is sometimes the best of it; since
the perpetual sacrifices made to each other are made no sacrifices, but
sweet triumphs, by their love. Still, just as much as green is composed
of yellow and blue, and purple of red and blue, the rays can any time
be separated, and they always have a conscious life of their own. Of
course, I had a sort of pleasure even in giving up my marriage in
church; but I kept my blue rays, for all that,--and told Laura I dreaded
the long, long prayer in that evening's service, and that I hoped in
mercy old Mr. Price would have his wits about him, and not preach a
funeral discourse.

"Old Mr. Price is eighty-nine years old, Laura says," said I.

"Yes. He was the minister who married my father and mother, and has
always been our minister," answered my lover.

And so it was settled.

Laura was rolling up tape, Monday morning, as quietly as if there were
to be no wedding. For my part, I wandered up and down, and could not set
myself about anything.

"Old Mr. Price! and a great long prayer! And that is to be the end
of it! My wedding-dress all made, and not to be worn! Flowers ditto!
Nowhere to go, and so I shall stay at home. He has no house; so Taffy is
to come to mine!"

And here I burst out laughing; for it was as well to laugh as cry; and
besides, I said a great many things on purpose to have Laura say what
she always did,--and which, after all, it was sweet to me to hear. Those
were silly days!

"No, Del,--that is not the end of it,--only the beginning of it,--of a
happy, useful, good life,--your path growing brighter and broader every
year,--and--and--we won't talk of the garlands, dear; but your heart
will have bridal-blossoms, whether your head has or not."

Laura kissed me, with tears in her sisterly eyes. She never talks fine,
and went directly out of the room after this.

I thought that women shouldn't swear at all, or, if they did, should
break their oaths as gracefully as I did mine, when I whispered it was
"_so_ good of him, to be willing I should stay in the cottage where I
had always lived, and where every rose-tree and lilac knew me!" And that
was true, too. But not all the truth. What need to be telling truths all
the time? And what had women tongues for, but to hold them sometimes?
Perhaps "he," too, would have preferred a journey to Europe, and a house
on the Mill-Dam.

Things gradually settled themselves. My troubles seemed coming to a
close by mechanical pressure. As to the name, it was better than Fire,
Famine, and Slaughter,--and I was to take it into consideration, any
way, and get used to it, if I could. The other trouble I put aside
for the moment. After it was concluded on that the wedding should be
strictly private, it was not necessary to buy my aunt's present under
a few days, and I could have the decided advantage, in that way, of
avoiding a duplicate.

The Monday of my marriage sped away swiftly. Polly had come up early to
say to "Laury" (for Polly was a free and independent American girl of
forty-five) that "there'd be so much goin' to the door, and such, Betsy
Ann had best be handy by, to answer the bell. Fin'ly, she's down there
with her bunnet off, and goin' to stay."

As usual, Polly's plans were excellent, and adopted. There would be all
the wedding-presents to arrive, congratulatory notes, etc. Everything to
arrange, and a thousand and one things that neither one nor three pairs
of hands could do. How I wished Betsy Ann would consent to dress like an
Oriental child, and look pretty and picturesque,--like a Barbary slave
bearing vessels of gold and silver chalices, instead of her silly
pointed waist and "mantilly," which she persisted in wearing, and which,
of course, gave the look only of a stranger and sojourner in the land!

I hoped she was a careful child,--there were so many things which might
be spoiled, even if they came in boxes. Betsy Ann was instructed, on
pain of--almost death, to be very, very careful, and to put everything
on the table in the library. She was by no means to unpack an article,
not even a bouquet. Laura and myself preferred to arrange everything
ourselves. We proposed to place each of the presents, for that evening
only, in the library, and spread them out as usual; but the very next
day, we determined, they should all be put away, wherever they were to
go,--of course, we could not tell where, till we saw them. That was
Laura's taste, and had come, on reflection, to be mine.

Laura said she should make me presents only of innumerable stitches:
which she had done. Polly, whom it is both impossible and irrelevant to
describe, took the opportunity to scrub the house from top to bottom.
Her own wedding-present to me, homely though it was, I wrapped in silver
paper, and showed it to her lying in state on the library-table, to her
infinite amusement.

Like the North American Indian, the race of Pollies is fast going out
of American life. You read an advertisement of "an American servant who
wants a place in a genteel family," and visions of something common in
American households, when you were children, come up to your mind's eye.
Without considering the absurdity of an American girl calling herself by
such a name, your eyes fill with tears at the thought of the faithful
and loving service of years ago, when neither sickness, nor sorrow, nor
death itself separated the members of the household, but the nurse-maid
was the beloved friend, living and dying under the same roof that
witnessed her untiring and faithful devotion.

So, when you look after this "American servant," you find alien blood,
lip-service, a surface-warmth that flatters, but does not delude,--a
fidelity that fails you in sickness, or increased toil, or the prospect
of higher wages; and you say to the "American servant,"--

"How long have you been in Boston?"

"Born in Boston, Ma'm,--in Eliot Street, Ma'm."

So was not Polly. Polly had lived with us always. She had a farm of her
own, and needn't have "lived out" five minutes, unless she had chosen.
But she did choose it, and chose to keep her place. And that was a true
friend,--in a humble position, possibly, yet one of her own choosing.
She rejoiced and wept with us, knew all about us,--corresponded
regularly with us when away, and wrote poetry. She had a fair
mind, great shrewdness, and kept a journal of facts. We loved her
dearly,--next to each other, and a hundred times better than we did Aunt
Allen or any of them.

Of course, as the day wore on, and afternoon came, and then almost night
came, and still the bell had not once rung,--not once!--Polly was
not the person to express or to permit the least surprise. Not Caleb
Balderstone himself had a sharper eye to the "honor of the family."
_Why_ it was left to the doctrine of chances to decide. _That_ it was
grew clearer and clearer every hour, as every hour came slowly by,
unladen with box or package, even a bouquet.

Betsy Ann had grinned a great many times, and asked Polly over and over,
"Where the presents all was?" and, "When I was to Miss Russell's, and
Miss Sally was merried, the things come in with a rush,--silver, and
gold, and money, ever so much!"

However, here Polly snubbed her, and told her to "shet up her head
quick. Most of the presents was come long ago."

"Such a piece of work as I hed to ghet up that critter's mouth!" said
Polly, laughing, as she assisted Laura in putting the last graces to my
simple toilet before tea.

"There, now, Miss Sampson to be! I declare to man, you never looked
better.

  "'Roses red, violets blue,
  Pinks is pootty, and so be you.'"

"How did you shut it, Polly?" said Laura, who was very much surprised,
like myself, at the non-arrivals, and who constantly imagined she
heard the bell. Ten arrivals we had both counted on,--ten,
certainly,--fifteen, probably.

"Well, I told her the presents was all locked up; and if she was a
clever, good child, and went to school regular, and got her learnin'
good, I'd certain show 'em to her some time. I told her," added Polly,
whisperingly, and holding her hand over her mouth to keep from loud
laughter,--"I told her I'd seen a couple on 'em done up in beautiful
silver paper!"

The bell rang at last, and we all sprang as with an electric shock. It
was old Mr. Price, led in reverently by Mr. Sampson. Tea was ready; so
we all sat down to it.

I don't know what other people think of, when they are going to be
married,--I mean at the moment. Books are eloquent on the subject. For
my part. I must confess, I thought of nothing. And let that encourage
the next bride, who will imagine herself a dunce, because she isn't
thinking of something fine and solemn. Perhaps I had so many ideas
pressing in, in all directions, that the mind itself couldn't act. Be
it as it may, I stood as if stupefied,--while old Mr. Price talked and
prayed, it seemed, an age. I was roused, however, and glad enough I
wasn't in church, when he called out,--

"_Ameriky!_ do you take this woman for your wedded wife?" and still more
rejoiced when he added, sternly,--

"_Delphiny!_" (using the long _i_,) "do you take _Ameriky?_"

We both said "Yes." And then he commended us affectionately and
reverently to the protection and love of Him who had himself come to a
wedding. He then came to a close, to Polly's delight, who said she "had
expected nothin' but what the old gentleman would hold on an hour,
--missionaries to China, and all."

Old Mr. Price took a piece of cake and a full glass of wine, and wished
us joy. He was fast passing away, and with him the old-class ministers,
now only traditional, who drank their half-mug of flip at funerals, went
to balls to look benignantly on the scene of pleasure, came home at ten
o'clock to write "the improvement" to their Sunday's sermon, took the
other half-mug, and went to bed peaceably and in charity with the whole
parish. They have gone, with the stagecoaches and country-newspapers;
and the places that knew them will know them no more.

Betsy Ann, who was mercifully admitted to the wedding, pronounced
it without hesitation the "flattest thing she ever see,"--and was
straightway dismissed by Polly, with an extra frosted cake, and a charge
to "get along home with herself." Then Mr. Sampson walked slowly home
with Mr. Price, and Laura and myself were left looking at each other.

"Delphiny!" said Laura.

"Ameriky!" said I.

"Well,--it's over now. If you had happened to be Mrs. Conant's daughter,
you know, your name would have been Keren-happuch!"

"On the whole, I am glad it wasn't in church," said I.

Mr. Sampson returned before we had finished talking of that. And then
Laura, said, suddenly,--

"But you _must_ decide on Aunt Allen's gift, Del. What shall it be? What
will be pretty?"

"You shall decide," said I, amiably, turning to my husband.

"Oh, I have no notion of what is pretty,--at least of but one
thing,--and that is not in Aunt Allen's gift."

He laughed, and I blushed, of course, as he pointed the compliment
straight at me.

"But you _must_ think. I cannot decide, I have thought of five hundred
things already."

"Well, Laura,--what do you say?" said he.

"I think a silver salver would be pretty, and useful, too."

"Pretty and useful. Then let it be a silver salver, and be done with
it," said he.

This notion of being "done with it" is so mannish! Here was my Gordian
knot cut at once! However, there was no help for it,--though now, more
than ever, since there was no danger of a duplicate, did I long for the
fifty thousand different beautiful things the fifty dollars would buy.

Circumstances aided us, too, in coming to a conclusion. I was rather
tired of rocking on these billows of uncertainty, even with the chance
of plucking gems from the depths. And Mrs. Harris was coming the next
day to tea, and to go away early to see Piccolomini sing and sparkle.

When we sat down that next day at the table, I poured the tea into a
cup, and placed it on the prettiest little silver tray, and Polly handed
it to Mrs. Harris as if she had done that particular thing all her life.

"Beautiful!" said Mrs. Harris, as it sparkled along back; "one of your
wedding-gifts?"

"Yes," I answered, carelessly,--"Aunt Allen's."

So much was well got over. My hope was that Mrs. Harris, who talked
well, and was never weary of that sort of well-doing, would keep on her
own subjects of interest, to the exclusion of mine. Therefore, when she
said pleasantly, _en passant_,--

"By the way, Delphine, I see you have taken my advice about
wedding-presents. You know I always abominated that parading of gifts."

Laura hastened to the rescue, saying,--

"Yes, we quite agree with you, and remember your decided opinions on
that subject. Did you say you had been to the Aquarial Gardens?"

How I wished I had been self-possessed enough to tell the whole story,
with its ridiculous side out, and make a good laugh over it, as it
deserved!--for Mrs. Harris wouldn't stay in the Aquarial Gardens, which
she pronounced a disgusting exhibition of "Creep and Crawl," and that
it was all a set of little horrors; but swung back to wedding-gifts and
wedding-times.

  "'When I was young,--ah! woful _when!_--
  That I should say _when_ I was young!'

"it wasn't fashionable, or, I should say, necessary, to buy something for
a bride," said Mrs. Harris, meditatively, and looking back--as we could
see by her eyes--a long way.

For my part, I thought she had much better choose some other subject,
considering everything. Certainly she had been one of the ten I had
counted on. But she suddenly collected herself!

"I never look at a great needle-book, ('housewife,' we used to call
it,) full of all possible and impossible contrivances and conveniences,
without recalling my Aunt Hovey's patient smile when she gave it to me.
She was rheumatic, and confined for twenty years to her chair; and these
'housewives' she made exquisitely, and each of her young friends on her
wedding-day might count on one. Then Sebiah Collins,--she brought me a
bag of holders,--poor old soul! And Aunt Patty Hobbs gave me a bundle of
rags! She said, 'Young housekeepers was allers a-wantin' rags, and, in
course, there wa'n't nothin' but what was bran'-new out of the store.'
Can I ever forget the Hill children, with their mysterious movements,
their hidings, and their unaccountable absences? and then the
work-basket on my toilet-table, on my wedding-morning! the little
pin-cushions and emery-sacks, the fantastic thimble-cases, and the
fish-shaped needle-books! all as nice as their handy little fingers
could make, and every stitch telling of their earnest love and bright
faces!--Every one of those children is dead. But I keep the work-basket
sacred. I don't know whether it is more pleasure or pain."

She looked up again, as if before her passed a long procession. I had
often seen that expression in the eyes of old, and even of middle-aged
persons, who had had much mental vicissitude, but I had not interpreted
it till now. It was only for a moment; and she added, cheerfully,--

"The future is always pleasant; so we will look that way."

Just then a gentleman wished to see Mr. Sampson on business, and they
two went into the library.

Mrs. Harris talked on, and I led the way to the parlor. She said she
should be called for presently; and then Laura lighted the argand, and
dropped the muslin curtains.

"Oh, isn't this sweet?" exclaimed Mrs. Harris, rapturously, approaching
the table. "How the best work of Art pales before Nature!"

It was only a tall small vase of ground glass, holding a pond-lily,
fully opened. But it was perfect in its way, and I knew by the smile on
Laura's lips that it was her gift.

"Mine is in that corner, Delphine," said Mrs. Harris. "I wouldn't have
it brought here till to-night, when I could see Laura, for fear you
should have a duplicate. So here is my Mercury, that I have looked at
till I love it. I wouldn't give you one that had only the odor of the
shop about it; but you will never look at this, Del, without thoughts of
our little cozy room and your old friend."

"Beautiful! No, indeed! Always!" murmured I.

She drew a little box from her pocket, and took out of it a taper-stand
of chased silver.

"Mrs. Gore asked me to bring it to you, with her love. She wouldn't send
it yesterday, she said, because it would look so like nothing by the
side of costly gifts. Pretty, graceful little thing! isn't it? It is an
evening-primrose, I think,--'love's own light,'--hey, Delphine?"

We had scarcely half admired the taper-stand and the Mercury when the
carriage came for Mrs. Harris, who insisted on taking away Laura with
her to the opera.

"No matter whether you thought of going or not; and, happily, there's
no danger of Delphine being lonely. 'Two are company,' you know Emerson
says, 'but three are a congregation.' So they will be glad to spare you.
There, now! that is all you want,--and this shawl."

After they went, I sat listening for nearly half an hour to the low
murmurs in the next room, and wishing the stranger would only go, so
that I might exhibit my new treasures. At last the strange gentleman
opened the door softly, talking all the way, across the room, through
the entry, and finally whispering himself fairly out-of-doors. When my
husband came in, I was eager to show him the Mercury, and the lily, and
the taper-stand.

"And do you know, after all, I hadn't the real nobleness and
truthfulness and right-mindedness to tell Mrs. Harris that these and
Aunt Allen's gift were all I had received! I am ashamed of myself, to
have such a mean mortification about what is really of no importance.
Certainly, if my friends don't care enough for me to send me something,
I ought to be above caring for it."

"I don't know that, Del. Your mortification is very natural. How can we
help caring? Do you like your Aunt Allen very much?" added he, abruptly.

"Because she gave me fifty dollars? Yes, I begin to think I do," said I,
laughing.

He looked at me quickly.

"Your Aunt Allen is very rich, is she not?"

"I believe so. Why? You look very serious. I neither respect nor love
her for her riches; and I haven't seen her these ten years."

He looked sober and abstracted; but when I spoke, he smiled a little.

"Do you remember Ella's chapter on Old China?" said he, sitting down on
the sofa, and--I don't mind saying--putting one arm round my waist.

"Yes,--why?"

"Do you remember Bridget's plaintive regret that they had no longer
the good old times when they were poor? and about the delights of the
shilling gallery?"

"Yes,--what made you think of it?"

"What a beautiful chapter that is!--their gentle sorrow that they could
no longer make nice bargains for books! and his wearing new, neat, black
clothes, alas! instead of the overworn suit that was made to hang on
a few weeks longer, that he might buy the old folio of Beaumont and
Fletcher! Do you remember it, Delphine?"

"Yes, I do. And I think there is a deal of pleasure in considering and
contriving,--though it's prettier in a book"--

"For my part," interrupted my husband, as though he had not heard me
speak,--"for my part, I am sorry one cannot have such an exquisite
appreciation of pleasure but through pain; for--I am tired of
labor--and privation--and, in short, poverty. To work so hard, and so
constantly!--with such a long, weary vista before one!--and these petty
gains! Don't you think poverty is the one thing hateful, Delphine?"

He sprang up suddenly, and began walking up and down the room,--up and
down,--up and down; and without speaking any more, or seeming to wish me
to answer.

"Why, what is it? What do you mean?" said I, faintly; for my heart felt
like lead in my bosom.

He did not answer at first, but walked towards me; then, turning
suddenly away, sprang out of the window at the side of the room, saying,
with a constrained laugh,--

"I shall be in again, presently. In the mean time I leave you to
meditations on the shilling gallery!"

What a strange taunting sound his voice had! There was no insane blood
among the Sampsons, or I might have thought he had suddenly gone crazy.
Or if I had believed in demoniacal presences, I might have thought the
murmuring, whispering old man was some tempter. Some evil influence
certainly had been exerted over him. Scarcely less than deranged could I
consider him now, to be willing thus to address me. It was true, he was
poor,--that he had struggled with poverty. But had it not been my pride,
as I thought it was his, that his battle was bravely borne, and would be
bravely won? I could not, even to myself, express the cruel cowardice of
such words as he had used to his helpless wife. That he felt deeply and
gallingly his poverty was plain. Even in that there was a weakness which
induced more of contempt than pity for him; but was it not base to tell
me of it now? Now, when his load was doubled, he complained of the
burden! Why, I would have lain down and died far sooner than he should
have guessed it of me. And he had thought it--and--said it!

There are emotions that seem to crowd and supersede each other, so
that the order of time is inverted. I came to the point of disdainful
composure, even before the struggle and distress began. I sat quietly
where my husband left me,--such a long, long time! It seemed hours.
I remembered how thoughtful I had determined to be of all our
expenses,--the little account-book in which I had already entered some
items; how I had thought of various ways in which I could assist him;
yes, even little I was to be the most efficient and helpful of wives.
Had I not taken writing-lessons secretly, and formed a thorough
business-hand, and would I not earn many half-eagles with my eagle's
quill? I remembered how I had thought, though I had not said it, (and
how glad now I was I had not!) that we would help each other in sickness
and health,--that we would toil up that weary hill where wealth stands
so lusciously and goldenly shining. But then, hand in hand we were
to have toiled,--hopefully, smilingly, lovingly,--not with this cold
recrimination, nor, hardest of all, with--reproach!

Suddenly, a strange suspicion fell over me. It fell down on me like a
pall. I shuddered with the cold of it.

I knew it wasn't so. I knew he loved me,--that Le meant nothing,--that
it was a passing discontent, a hateful feeling engendered by the sight
of the costly trifles before us. Yes,--I knew that. But, good heavens!
to tell his wife of it!

I sat, with my head throbbing, and holding my hands, utterly tearless;
for tears were no expression of the distressful pain, and blank
disappointment of a life, that I felt. I said I felt this damp, dark
suspicion. It was there like a presence, but it was as indefinite as
dark; and I had a sort of control, in the midst of the tumult in my
brain and heart, as to what thoughts I would let come to me. Not that!
Faults there might be,--great ones,--but not that, the greatest! At
least, if I could not respect, I could forgive,--for he loved me.
Surely, surely, that must be true!

It would come, that flash, like lightning, or the unwilling memories of
the drowning. I remembered the rich Miss Kate Stuart, who, they said,
liked him, and that her father would have been glad to have him for a
son-in-law. And I had asked him once about it, in the careless
gayety of happy love. He had said, he supposed it might have
happened--perhaps--who knows?--if he had not seen me. But he had seen
me! Could it be that he was thinking of?

My calmness was giving way. As soon as I spoke, though it was only in a
word of ejaculation, my pity for myself broke all the flood-gates down,
and I fell on my face in a paroxysm of sobs.

A very calm, loving voice, and a strong arm raising me, brought me back
at once from the wild ocean of passion on which I was tossing. I had not
heard him come in. I was too proud and grieved to speak or to weep. So I
dried my tears and sat stiffly silent.

"You are tired, dear!" said my husband, tenderly.

"No,--it's no matter."

"Everything is matter to me that concerns you. You know that,--you
believe that, Delphine?"

"Why, what a strange sound! just as it used to sound!" I said to myself,
whisperingly.

I know not what possessed me; but I was determined to have the truth,
and the whole truth. I turned towards him and looked straight into his
eyes.

"Tell me, truly, as you hope God will save you at your utmost need, _do_
you love me? Did you marry me from any motive but that of pure, true
love?"

"From no other," answered he, with a face of unutterable surprise; and
then added, solemnly, "And may God take me, Delphine, when you cease to
love me!"

It was enough. There was truth in every breath, in every glance of his
deep eyes. A delicious languor took the place of the horrible tension
that had been every faculty,--a repose so sweet and perfect, that, if
reason had placed the clearest possible proofs of my husband's perfidy
before me, I should simply have smiled and fallen asleep on his true
heart, as I did.

When I opened my eyes, I met his anxious look.

"Why, what has come over you, Del? I did not know you were nervous."

And then remembering, that, although I might be weakest among the weak,
yet that it was his wisdom that was to sustain and comfort me, I said,--

"By-and-by I will tell you all about it,--certainly I will. I must tell
you some time, but not to-night."

"And--I had thought to keep a secret from you, to-night, Del; but, on
the whole, I shall feel better to tell you."

"Yes,--perhaps,--perhaps."

"Oh, yes! Secrets are safest, told. First, then, Del, I will tell you
this secret. I am very foolish. Don't tell of it, will you? See here!"

He held up his closed hand before my face, laughingly.

That man's name, Del, is Drake"----

"And not the Devil!" said I to myself.

"Solitude Drake."

"Really? Is that it, truly? What's in your hand?"

"Truly,--really. He lives in Albany. He is the son of a queer man, and
is something of a humorist himself. I have seen one of his sons. He has
two. One's name is Paraclete, and the other Preserved. His daughter is
pretty, very, and her name is Deliverance. They call her Del, for short.
They do, on my word! Worse than Delphine, is it not?"

"Why, don't you like my name?" stammered I, with astonishment.

"Yes, very well. I don't care much about names. But I can tell you,
Uncle Zabdiel and Aunt Jerusha, 'from whom I have expectations,' Del,
think it is 'just about the poorest kind of a name that ever a girl
had.' And our Cousin Abijah thought you were named Delilah, and that
it was a good match for Sampson! I rectified him there; but he still
insists on your being called 'Finy,' in the family, to distinguish you
from the Midianitish woman."

"And so Uncle _Zabdiel_ thinks I have a poor name?" said I, laughing
heartily. "The shield looks neither gold nor silver, from which side
soever we gaze. But I think _he_ might put up with _my_ name!"

My husband never knew exactly what I was laughing at. And why should he?
I was fast overcoming my weakness about names, and thinking they were
nothing, compared to things, after all.

When our laugh (for his was sympathetic) had subsided into a quiet
cheerfulness, he said, again holding up his hand,--

"Not at all curious, Del? You don't ask what Mr. Solitude Drake wanted?"

"I don't think I care what he wanted: company, I suppose."

And I went on making bad puns about solitude sweetened, and ducks and
drakes, as happy people do, whose hearts are quite at ease.

"And you don't want to know at all, Del?" said he, laughing a little
nervously, and dropping from his hand an open paper into mine. "It shall
be my wedding-present to you. It is Mr. Drake's retainer. Pretty stout
one, is it not? This is what made me jump out of the window,--this and
one other thing."

"Why, this is a draft for five hundred dollars!" said I, reading and
staring stupidly at the paper.

"Yes, and I am retained in that great Albany land-case. It involves
millions of property. That is all, Del. But I was so glad, so happy,
that I was likely to do well at last, and that I could gratify all the
wishes, reasonable and unreasonable, of my darling!"

"Is it a good deal?" said I, simply; for, after all, five hundred
dollars did not seem such an Arabian fortune.

"Yes, Del, a good deal. Whichever way it is decided, it will make my
fortune. And now--the other thing. You are sure you are very calm, and
all this won't make you sleepless?"

"Oh, no! I am calm as a clock."

"Well, then,--your Aunt Allen is dead."

"Dead! Is she? Did she leave us all her money?"

"Why, no, you little cormorant. She has left it all about: Legacies, and
Antioch College, and Destitute Societies. But I believe you have some
clothes left to you and Laura. Any way, the will is in there, in the
library: Mr. Drake had a copy of it. And the best of all is, I am to be
the executor, which is enough better than residuary legatee."

"It is very strange!" said I, thinking of the multitude of old gowns I
should have to alter over.

"Yes, it is, indeed, very strange. One of the strangest things about
the matter is, that my good friend Solitude was so taken with 'my queer
name,' as he calls it, that he 'took a fancy to me out of hand.' To be
sure, he listened through my argument in the Shore case, and that may
have helped his opinion of me as a lawyer.--Here comes Laura. Who would
have thought it was one o'clock?"

And who would have thought that my little ugly chrysalis of troubles
would have turned out such beautiful butterflies of blessings?

       *       *       *       *       *


MARION DALE.


  Marion Dale, I remember you once,
  In the days when you blushed like a rose half-blown,
  Long ere that wealthy respectable dunce
  Sponged up your beautiful name in his own.

  I remember you, Marion Dale,
  Artless and cordial and modest and sweet:
  You never walked in that glittering mail
  That covers you now from your head to your feet.

  Well I remember your welcoming smile,
  When Alice and Annie and Edward and I
  Came over to see you;--you lived but a mile
  From my uncle's old house, and the grove that stood nigh.

  I was no lover of yours, (pray, excuse me!)--
  Our minds were different in texture and hue:
  I never gave you a chance to refuse me;
  Already I loved one less changeful than you.

  Still it was ever a pride and a pleasure
  Just to be near you,--the Rose of our vale.
  Often I thought, "Who will own such a treasure?
  Who win the rich love of our Marion Dale?"

  I wonder now if you ever remember,
  Ever sigh over fifteen years ago,--
  Whether your June is all turned to December,--
  Whether your life now is happy or no.

  Gone are those winters of chats and of dances!
  Gone are those summers of picnics and rides!
  Gone the aroma of life's young romances!
  Gone the swift flow of our passionate tides!

  Marion Dale,--no longer our Marion,--
  You have gone your way, and I have gone mine:
  Lowly I've labored, while fashion's gay clarion
  Trumpets your name through the waltz and the wine.

  And when I meet you, your smile it is colder;
  Statelier, prouder your features have grown;
  Rounder each white and magnificent shoulder;
  (Rather too low-necked your waist, I must own.)

  Jewelled and muslined, your rich hair gold-netted,
  Queenly 'mid flattering voices you move,--
  Half to your own native graces indebted,
  Half to the station and fortune you love.

  "Marion" we called you; my wife you called "Alice";
  I was plain "Phil";--we were intimate all:
  Strange, as we leave now our cards at your palace,
  On Mrs. Prime Goldbanks of Bubblemere Hall!

  Six golden lackeys illumine the doorway:
  Sure, one would think, by the glances they throw,
  That we were fresh from the mountains of Norway,
  And had forgotten to shake off the snow!

  They will permit us to enter, however;
  Usher us into her splendid saloon:
  There we sit waiting and waiting forever,
  As one would watch for the rise of the moon.

  Or it may be to-day's not her "reception":
  Still she's at home, and a little unbends,--
  Framing, while dressing, some harmless deception,
  How she shall meet her "American" friends.

  Smiling you meet us,--but not quite sincerely;
  Low-voiced you greet us,--but this is the _ton_:
  This, we must feel it, is courtesy merely,--
  Not the glad welcome of days that are gone.

  You are in England,--the land where they freeze one,
  When they've a mind to, with fashion and form:
  Yet, if you choose, you can thoroughly please one:
  Currents run through you still youthful and warm.

  So one would think, at least, seeing you moving,
  Radiant and gay, at the Countess's _fete_.
  Say, was that babble so sweeter than loving?
  Where was the charm, that you lingered so late?

  Ah, well enough, as you dance on in joyance!
  Still well enough, at your dinners and calls!
  Fashion and riches will mask much annoyance.
  Float on, fair lady, whatever befalls!

  Yet, Lady Marion, for hours and for hours
  You are alone with your husband and lord.
  There is a skeleton hid in yon flowers;
  There is a spectre at bed and at board.

  Needs no confession to tell there is acting
  Somewhere about you a tragedy grim.
  All your bright rays have a sullen refracting;
  Everywhere looms up the image of _him_:

  Him,--whom you love not, there is no concealing.
  How _could_ you love him, apart from his gold?
  Nothing now left but your fire-fly wheeling,--
  Flashing one moment, then pallid and cold!

  Yet you've accepted the life that he offers,--
  Sunk to his level,--not raised him to yours.
  All your fair flowers have their roots in his coffers:
  Empty the gold-dust, and then what endures?

  So, then, we leave you! Your world is not ours.
  Alice and I will not trouble you more.
  Almost too heavy the scent of these flowers
  Down the broad stairway. Quick, open the door!

  Here, in the free air, we'll pray for you, lady!
  You who are changed to us,--gone from us,--lost!
  Soon the Atlantic shall part us, already
  Parted by gulfs that can never be crossed!




CHARLESTON UNDER ARMS.


On Saturday morning, January 19, 1861, the steamer Columbia, from New
York, lay off the harbor of Charleston in full sight of Fort Sumter. It
is a circumstance which perhaps would never have reached the knowledge
of the magazine-reading world, nor have been of any importance to it,
but for the attendant fact that I, the writer of this article, was on
board the steamer. It takes two events to make a consequence, as well as
two parties to make a bargain.

The sea was smooth; the air was warmish and slightly misty; the low
coast showed bare sand and forests of pines. The dangerous bar of the
port, now partially deprived of its buoys, and with its main channel
rendered perilous by the hulks of sunken schooners, revealed itself
plainly, half a mile ahead of us, in a great crescent of yellow water,
plainly distinguishable from the steel-gray of the outer ocean. Two
or three square-rigged vessels were anchored to the southward of us,
waiting for the tide or the tugs, while four or five pilot-boats tacked
up and down in the lazy breeze, watching for the cotton-freighters which
ought at this season to crowd the palmetto wharves.

"I wish we could get the duties on those ships to pay some of our
military bills," said a genteel, clean-spoken Charlestonian, to a long,
green, kindly-faced youth, from I know not what Southern military
academy.

We had arrived off the harbor about midnight, but had not entered, for
lack of a beacon whereby to shape our course. Now we must wait until
noon for the tide, standing off and on the while merely to keep up our
fires. A pilot came under our quarter in his little schooner, and told
us that the steamer Nashville had got out the day before with only a
hard bumping. No other news had he: Fort Sumter had not been taken, nor
assaulted; the independence of South Carolina had not been recognized;
various desirable events had not happened. In short, the political world
had remained during our voyage in that chaotic _status quo_ so loved by
President Buchanan. At twelve we stood for the bar, sounding our way
with extreme caution. Without accident we passed over the treacherous
bottom, although in places it could not have been more than eighteen
inches below our keel. The shores closed in on both sides as we passed
onward. To the south was the long, low, gray Morris Island, with its
extinguished lighthouse, its tuft or two of pines, its few dwellings,
and its invisible batteries. To the north was the long, low, gray
Sullivan's Island, a repetition of the other, with the distinctions of
higher sand-rolls, a village, a regular fort, and palmettos. We passed
the huge brown Moultrie House, in summer a gay resort, at present a
barrack; passed the hundred scattered cottages of the island, mostly
untenanted now, and looking among the sand-drifts as if they had been
washed ashore at random; passed the low walls of Fort Moultrie,
once visibly yellow, but now almost hidden by the new _glacis_, and
surmounted by piles of barrels and bags of sand, with here and there
palmetto stockades as a casing for the improvised embrasures; passed its
black guns, its solidly built, but rusty barracks, and its weather-worn
palmetto flag waving from a temporary flag-staff. On the opposite side
of the harbor was Fort Johnstone, a low point, exhibiting a barrack, a
few houses, and a sand redoubt, with three forty-two pounders. And
here, in the midst of all things, apparent master of all things, at the
entrance of the harbor proper, and nearly equidistant from either shore,
though nearest the southern, frowned Fort Sumter, a huge and lofty
and solid mass of brickwork with stone embrasures, all rising from
a foundation of ragged granite boulders washed by the tides. The
port-holes were closed; a dozen or so of monstrous cannon peeped from
the summit; two or three sentinels paced slowly along the parapet; the
stars and stripes blew out from the lofty flag-staff. The plan of Fort
Sumter may be briefly described as five-sided, with each angle just so
much truncated as to give room for one embrasure in every story. Its
whole air is massive, commanding, and formidable.

Eighty or a hundred citizens, volunteers, cadets from the military
academy, policemen, and negroes, greeted the arrival of the Columbia at
her wharf. It was a larger crowd than usual, partly because a report had
circulated that we should be forced to bring to off Fort Sumter and give
an account of ourselves, and partly because many persons in Charleston
have lately been perplexed with an abundant leisure. As I drove to my
hotel, I noticed that the streets showed less movement of business
and population than when I knew them four years ago. The place seemed
dirtier, too,--worse paved, shabbier as to its brick-work and stucco,
and worse painted,--but whether through real deterioration, or by
comparison with the neatly finished city which I had lately left, I
cannot decide. There was surely not a third of the usual shipping, nor a
quarter of the accustomed cotton. Here and there were wharves perfectly
bare, not only of masting and of freight, but even of dust, as if they
had not been used for days, or possibly for weeks.

My old hotel was as well kept, and its table as plentiful and excellent
as ever. I believe we are all aware by this time that Charleston has
not suffered from hunger; that beef has not sold at thirty-five cents a
pound, but rather at ten or fifteen; that its Minute Men have not
been accustomed to come down upon its citizens for forced dinners and
dollars; that the State loan was taken willingly by the banks, instead
of unwillingly by private persons; that the rich, so far from being
obliged to give a great deal for the cause of Secession, have generally
given very little; that the streets are well-policed, untrodden by mobs,
and as orderly as those of most cities; that, in short, the revolution
so far has been political, and not social. At the same time exports
and imports have nearly ceased; business, even in the retail form, is
stagnant; the banks have suspended; debts are not paid.

After dinner I walked up to the Citadel square and saw a drill of the
Home Guard. About thirty troopers, all elderly men, and several with
white hair and whiskers, uniformed in long overcoats of homespun gray,
went through some of the simpler cavalry evolutions in spite of their
horses' teeth. The Home Guard is a volunteer police force, raised
because of the absence of so many of the young men of the city at the
islands, and because of the supposed necessity of keeping a strong hand
over the negroes. A malicious citizen assured me that it was in training
to take Fort Sumter by charging upon it at low water. On the opposite
side of the square from where I stood rose the Citadel, or military
academy, a long and lofty reddish-yellow building, stuccoed and
castellated, which, by the way, I have seen represented in one of our
illustrated papers as the United States Arsenal. Under its walls
were half a dozen iron cannon which I judged at that distance to be
twenty-four pounders. A few negroes, certainly the most leisurely part
of the population at this period, and still fewer white people, leaned
over the shabby fence and stared listlessly at the horsemen, with the
air of people whom habit had made indifferent to such spectacles. Near
me three men of the middle class of Charleston talked of those two
eternal subjects, Secession and Fort Sumter. One of them, a rosy-faced,
kindly-eyed, sincere, seedy, pursy gentleman of fifty, congratulated the
others and thanked God because of the present high moral stand of South
Carolina, so much loftier than if she had seized the key to her main
harbor, when she had the opportunity. Her honor was now unspotted; her
good faith and her love of the right were visible to the whole world;
while the position of the Federal Government was disgraced and sapped by
falsity. Better Sumter treacherously in the hands of the United States
than in the hands of South Carolina; better suffer for a time under
physical difficulties than forever under moral dishonor.

Simple-hearted man, a fair type of his fellow-citizens, he saw but his
own side of the question, and might fairly claim in this matter to
be justified by his faith. His bald crown, sandy side-locks, reddish
whiskers, sanguineous cheeks, and blue eyes were all luminous with
confidence in the integrity of his State, and with scorn for the
meanness and wickedness of her enemies. No doubt had he that the fort
ought to be surrendered to South Carolina; no suspicion that the
Government could show a reason for holding it, aside from low
self-interest and malice. He was the honest mouthpiece of a most
peculiar people, local in its opinions and sentiments beyond anything
known at the North, even in self-poised Boston. Changing his subject, he
spoke with hostile, yet chivalrous, respect of the pluck of the Black
Republicans in Congress. They had never faltered; they had vouchsafed no
hint of concession; while, on the other hand, Southerners had shamed him
by their craven spirit. It grieved, it mortified him, to see such a man
as Crittenden on his knees to the North, begging, actually with tears,
for what he ought to demand as a right, with head erect and hands
clenched. He departed with a mysterious allusion to some secret of his
for taking Fort Sumter,--some disagreeably odorous chemical
preparation, I guessed, by the scientific terms in which he beclouded
himself,--something which he expected would soon be called for by the
Governor. May he never smell anything worse, even in the other world,
than his own compounds! Unionist, and perhaps Consolidationist, as I
am, I could not look upon his honest, persuaded face, and judge him a
traitor, at least not to any sentiment of right that was in his own
soul.

Our hotel was full of legislators and volunteer officers, mostly
planters or sons of planters, and almost without exception men of
standing and property. South Carolina is an oligarchy in spirit, and
allows no plebeians in high places. Two centuries of plenteous feeding
and favorable climate showed their natural results in the _physique_ of
these people. I do not think that I exaggerate, when I say that they
averaged six feet or nearly in height, and one hundred and seventy
pounds or thereabouts in weight. One or two would have brought in money,
if enterprisingly heralded as Swiss or Belgian giants. The general
physiognomy was good, mostly high-featured, often commanding, sometimes
remarkable for massive beauty of the Jovian type, and almost invariably
distinguished by a fearless, open-eyed frankness, in some instances
running into arrogance and pugnacity. I remember one or two elderly
men, in particular, whose faces would help an artist to idealize a
Lacedaemonian general, or a baron of the Middle Ages. In dress somewhat
careless, and wearing usually the last fashion but one, they struck me
as less tidy than the same class when I saw it four years ago; and I
made a similar remark concerning the citizens of Charleston,--not only
men, but women,--from whom dandified suits and superb silks seem to have
departed during the present martial time. Indeed, I heard that economy
was the order of the day; that the fashionables of Charleston bought
nothing new, partly because of the money pressure, and partly because
the guns of Major Anderson might any day send the whole city into
mourning; that patrician families had discharged their foreign cooks and
put their daughters into the kitchen; that there were no concerts, no
balls, and no marriages. Even the volunteers exhibited little of the
pomp and vanity of war. The small French military cap was often the only
sign of their present profession. The uniform, when it appeared, was
frequently a coarse homespun gray, charily trimmed with red worsted, and
stained with the rains and earth of the islands. One young dragoon in
this sober dress walked into our hotel, trailing the clinking steel
scabbard of his sabre across the marble floor of the vestibule with a
warlike rattle which reminded me of the Austrian officers whom I used
to see, yes, and hear, stalking about the _cafe's_ of Florence. Half a
dozen surrounded him to look at and talk about the weapon. A portly,
middle-aged legislator must draw it and cut and thrust, with a smile of
boyish satisfaction between his grizzled whiskers, bringing the point so
near my nose, in his careless eagerness, that I had to fall back upon
a stronger, that is, a more distant position. Then half a dozen others
must do likewise, their eyes sparkling like those of children examining
a new toy.

"It's not very sharp," said one, running his thumb carefully along the
edge of the narrow and rather light blade.

"Sharp enough to cut a man's head open," averred the dragoon.

"Well, it's a dam' shame that sixty-five men tharr in Sumter should make
such an expense to the State," declared a stout, blonde young rifleman,
speaking with a burr which proclaimed him from the up-country. "We
haven't even troyed to get 'em out. We ought at least to make a troyal."

All strangers at Charleston walk to the Battery. It is the extreme point
of the city peninsula, its right facing on the Ashley, its left on the
Cooper, and its outlook commanding the entire harbor, with Fort Sumter,
Port Pinckney, Fort Moultrie, and Fort Johnstone in the distance. Plots
of thin clover, a perfect wonder in this grassless land; promenades,
neatly fenced, and covered with broken shells instead of gravel; a
handsome bronze lantern-stand, twenty-five feet high, meant for a
beacon; a long and solid stone quay, the finest sea-walk in the United
States; a background of the best houses in Charleston, three-storied and
faced with verandas: such are the features of the Battery. Lately
four large iron guns, mounted like field-pieces, form an additional
attraction to boys and soldierly-minded men. Nobody knew their calibre;
the policemen who watched them could not say; the idlers who gathered
about them disputed upon it: they were eighteen pounders; they were
twenty-fours; they were thirty-sixes. Nobody could tell what they were
there for. They were aimed at Fort Sumter, but would not carry half way
to it. They could hit Fort Pinckney, but that was not desirable. The
policeman could not explain; neither could the idlers; neither can I.
At last it got reported about the city that they were to sink any boats
which might come down the river to reinforce Anderson; though how the
boats were to get into the river, whether by railroad from Washington,
or by balloon from the Free States, nobody even pretended to guess.
Standing on this side of the Ashley, and looking across it, you
naturally see the other side. The long line of nearly dead level, with
its stretches of thin pine-forest and its occasional glares of open
sand, gives you an idea of nearly the whole country about Charleston,
except that in general you ought to add to the picture a number of noble
evergreen oaks bearded with pendent, weird Spanish moss, and occasional
green spikes of the tropical-looking Spanish bayonet. Of palmettos there
are none that I know of in this immediate region, save the hundred or
more on Sullivan's Island and the one or two exotics in the streets
of Charleston. In the middle of the Ashley, which is here more than a
quarter of a mile wide, lies anchored a topsail schooner, the nursery
of the South Carolina navy. I never saw it sail anywhere; but then my
opportunities of observation were limited. Quite a number of boys are on
board of it, studying maritime matters; and I can bear witness that they
are sufficiently advanced to row themselves ashore. Possibly they are
moored thus far up the stream to guard them from sea-sickness, which
might be discouraging to young sailors. However, I ought not to talk on
this subject, for I am the merest civilian and land-lubber.

My first conversation in Charleston on Secession was with an estimable
friend, Northern-born, but drawing breath of Southern air ever since he
attained the age of manhood. After the first salutation, he sat down,
his hands on his knees, gazing on the floor, and shaking his head
soberly, if not sadly.

"You have found us in a pretty fix,--in a pretty fix!"

"But what are you going to do? Are you really going out? You are not a
politician, and will tell me the honest facts."

"Yes, we are going out,'--there is no doubt of it, I have not been a
seceder,--I have even been called one of the disaffected; but I am
obliged to admit that secession is the will of the community. Perhaps
you at the North don't believe that we are honest in our professions and
actions. We are so. The Carolinians really mean to go out of the Union,
and don't mean to come back. They say that they _are_ out, and they
believe it. And now, what are you going to do with us? What is the
feeling at the North?"

"The Union must and shall be preserved, at all hazards. That famous
declaration expresses the present Northern popular sentiment. When I
left, people were growing martial; they were joining military companies;
they wanted to fight; they were angry."

"So I supposed. That agrees with what I hear by letter. Well, I am very
sorry for it. Our people here will not retreat; they will accept a war,
first. If you preserve the Union, it must be by conquest. I suppose you
can do it, if you try hard enough. The North is a great deal stronger
than the South; it can desolate it,--crush it. But I hope it won't be
done. I wish you would speak a good word for us, when you go back. You
can destroy us, I suppose. But don't you think it would be inhuman?
Don't you think it would be impolitic? Do you think it would result in
sufficient good to counterbalance the evident and certain evil?"

"Why, people reason in this way. They say, that, even if we allow the
final independence of the seceding States, we must make it clear that
there is no such thing as the right of secession, but only that of
revolution or rebellion. We must fix a price for going out of the Union,
which shall be so high that henceforward no State will ever be willing
to pay it. We must kill, once for all, the doctrine of peaceable
secession, which is nothing else than national disintegration and ruin.
Lieutenant-Governor Morton of Indiana declares in substance that England
never spent blood and money to wiser purpose than when she laid down
fifty thousand lives and one hundred millions of pounds to prevent her
thirteen disaffected colonies from having their own way. No English
colony since has been willing to face the tremendous issue thus offered
it. Just so it is the interest, it is the sole safety of the Federal
Government, to try to hold in the Cotton States by force, and, if they
go out, to oblige them to pay an enormous price for the privilege.
Revolution is a troublesome luxury, and ought to be made expensive. That
is the way people talk at the North and at Washington. They reason thus,
you see, because they believe that this is not a league, but a nation."

"And our people believe that the States are independent and have a right
to recede from the Confederation without asking its leave. With few
exceptions, all agree on that; it is honest, common public opinion. The
South Carolinians sincerely think that they are exercising a right, and
you may depend that they will not be reasoned nor frightened out of it;
and if the North tries coercion, there will be war. I don't say this
defiantly, but sadly, and merely because I want you to know the truth.
War is abhorrent to my feelings,--especially a war with our own
brethren: and then _we_ are so poorly prepared for it!"

Such was the substance of several conversations. The reader may rely, I
think, on the justness of my friend's opinions, founded as they are on
his honesty of intellect, his moderation, and his opportunities for
studying his fellow-citizens. All told me the same story, but generally
with more passion, sometimes with defiance; defiance toward the
Government, I mean, and not toward me personally; for the better classes
of Charleston are eminently courteous. South Carolina had seceded
forever, defying all the hazards; she would accept nothing but
independence or destruction; she did not desire any supposable
compromise; she had altogether done with the Union. Yet her desire was
not for war; it was simply and solely for escape. She would forget all
her wrongs and insults, she would seek no revenge for the injurious
past, provided she were allowed to depart without a conflict. Nearly
every man with whom I talked began the conversation by asking if the
North meant coercion, and closed it by deprecating hostilities and
affirming the universal wish for _peaceable_ secession. In case of
compulsion, however, the State would accept the gage of battle; her
sister communities of the South would side with her, the moment they saw
her blood flow; Northern commerce would be devoured by privateers of all
nations under the Southern flag; Northern manufactures would perish for
lack of Southern raw material and Southern consumers; Northern banks
would suspend, and Northern finances go into universal insolvency; the
Southern ports would be opened forcibly by England and France, who must
have cotton; the South would flourish in the struggle, and the North
decay.

"But why do you venture on this doubtful future?" I asked of one
gentleman. "What is South Carolina's grievance? The Personal-Liberty
Bills?"

"Yes,--they constitute a grievance. And yet not much of one. Some of us
even--the men of the 'Mercury' school, I mean--do not complain of the
Union because of those bills. They say that it is the Fugitive-Slave Law
itself which is unconstitutional; that the rendition of runaways is
a State affair, in which the Federal Government has no concern; that
Massachusetts, and other States, were quite right in nullifying an
illegal and aggressive statute. Besides, South Carolina has lost very
few slaves."

"Is it the Territorial Question which forces you to quit us?"

"Not in its practical issues. The South needs no more territory; has not
negroes to colonize it. The doctrine of 'No more Slave States' is an
insult to us, but hardly an injury. The flow of population has settled
that matter. You have won all the Territories, not even excepting New
Mexico, where slavery exists nominally, but is sure to die out under the
hostile influences of unpropitious soil and climate. The Territorial
Question has become a mere abstraction. We no longer talk of it."

"Then your great grievance is the election of Lincoln?"

"Yes."

"And the grievance is all the greater because he was elected according
to all the forms of law?"

"Yes."

"If he had been got into the Presidency by trickery, by manifest
cheating, your grievance would have been less complete?"

"Yes."

"Is Lincoln considered here to be a bad or dangerous man?"

"Not personally. I understand that he is a man of excellent private
character, and I have nothing to say against him as a ruler, inasmuch as
he has never been tried. Mr. Lincoln is simply a sign to us that we are
in danger, and must provide for our own safety."

"You secede, then, solely because you think his election proves that the
mass of the Northern people is adverse to you and your interests?"

"Yes."

"So Mr. Wigfall of Texas hit the nail on the head, when he said
substantially that the South cannot be at peace with the North until the
latter concedes that slavery is right?"

"Well,--I admit it; that is precisely it."

I desire the reader to note the loyal frankness, the unshrinking honesty
of these avowals, so characteristic of the South Carolina _morale_.
Whenever the native of that State does an act or holds an opinion, it is
his nature to confess it and avow the motives thereof, without quibbling
or hesitation. It is a persuaded, self-poised community, strikingly like
its negative pole on the Slavery Question, Massachusetts. All those
Charlestonians whom I talked with I found open-hearted in their
secession, and patient of my open-heartedness as an advocate of the
Union, although often astonished, I suspect, that any creature capable
of drawing a conclusion from two premises should think so differently
from themselves.

"But have you looked at the platform of the Republicans?" I proceeded.
"It is not adverse to slavery in the States; it only objects to its
entrance into the Territories; it is not an Abolition platform."

"We don't trust in the platform; we believe that it is an incomplete
expression of the party creed,--that it suppresses more than it utters.
The spirit which keeps the Republicans together is enmity to slavery,
and that spirit will never be satisfied until the system is extinct."

"Finally,--yes; gradually and quietly and safely,--that is possible. I
suppose that the secret and generally unconscious _animus_ of the party
is one which will abolitionize it after a long while."

"When will it begin to act in an abolition sense, do you think?"

"I can't say: perhaps a hundred years from now; perhaps two hundred."

There was a general laugh from the half-dozen persons who formed the
group.

"What time do _you_ fix?" I inquired.

"Two years. But for this secession of ours, there would have been bills
before Congress within two years, looking to the abolition of slavery in
the navy-yards, the District of Columbia, etc. That would be only the
point of the wedge, which would soon assume the dimensions of an attack
on slavery in the States. Look how aggressive the party has been in the
question of the Territories."

"The questions are different. When Congress makes local laws for Utah,
it does not follow that it will do likewise for South Carolina. You
might as well infer, that, because a vessel sails from Liverpool to New
York in ten days, therefore it will sail overland to St. Louis in five
more."

Incredulous laughter answered me again. The South has labored under two
delusions: first, that the Republicans are Abolitionists; second, that
the North can be frightened. Back of these, rendering them fatally
effective, lies that other delusion, the imagined right of peaceable
secession, founded on a belief in the full and unresigned sovereignty of
the States. Let me tell a story illustrative of the depth to which
this belief has penetrated. Years ago, a friend of mine, talking to a
Charleston boy about patriotism, asked him, "What is the name of your
country?" "South Carolina!" responded the eight-year-old, promptly and
proudly. What Northern boy, what Massachusetts boy even, would not have
replied, "The United States of America"?

South Carolina, I am inclined to think, has long been a disunionist
community, or nearly so, deceived by the idea that the Confederation is
a bar rather than a help to her prosperity, and waiting only for a good
chance to quit it. Up to the election of Lincoln all timid souls were
against secession; now they are for it, because they think it less
dangerous than submission. For instance, when I asked one gentleman what
the South expected to gain by going out, he replied, "First, safety.
Our slaves have heard of Lincoln,--that he is a black man, or black
Republican, or black something,--that he is to become ruler of this
country on the fourth of March,--that he is a friend of theirs, and will
free them. We must establish our independence in order to make them
believe that they are beyond his help. We have had to hang some of them
in Alabama,--and we expect to be obliged to hang others, perhaps many."

This was not the only statement of the sort which I heard in Charleston.
Other persons assured me of the perfect fidelity of the negroes, and
declared that they would even fight against Northern invaders, if
needful. Skepticism in regard to this last comfortable belief is,
however, not wanting.

"If it comes to a war, you have one great advantage over us," said to me
a military gentleman, lately in the service of the United States. "Your
working-class is a fighting-class, and will constitute the rank and file
of your armies. Our working-class is not a fighting-class. Indeed, there
is some reason to fear, that, if it take up arms at all, it will be on
the wrong side."

My impression is, that a prevalent, though not a universal fear, existed
lest the negroes should rise in partial insurrections on or about the
fourth of March. A Northern man, who had lived for several years in
the back-country of South Carolina, had married there, and had lately
travelled through a considerable portion of the South, informed me that
many of the villages were lately forming Home Guards, as a measure of
defence against the slave population. The Home Guard is frequently a
cavalry corps, and is always composed of men who have passed the usual
term of military service; for it is deemed necessary to reserve the
youth of the country to meet the "Northern masses," the "Federal
mercenaries," on the field of possible battle. By letters from
Montgomery, Alabama, I learn that unusual precautions have been common
during the last winter, many persons locking up their negroes over
night in the quarters, and most sleeping with arms at hand, ready for
nocturnal conflict. Whoever considers the necessarily horrible nature
of a servile insurrection will find in it some palliation for Southern
violence toward suspected incendiaries and Southern precipitation in
matters of secession, however strongly he may still maintain that
lynch-law should not usurp the place of justice, nor revolution the
place of regular government If you live in a powder-magazine, you
positively must feel inhospitably inclined towards a man who presents
himself with a cigar in his mouth. Even if he shows you that it is but a
tireless stump, it still makes you uneasy. And if you catch sight of
a multitude of smokers, distant as yet, but apparently intent on
approaching, you will be very apt to rush toward them, deprecate their
advance, forbid it, or possibly threaten armed resistance, even at the
risk of being considered aggressive.

Are all the South Carolinians disunionists? It seemed so when I was
there in January, 1861, and yet it did not seem so when I was there in
1855 and '56. At that time you could find men in Charleston who held
that the right of secession was but the right of revolution, of
rebellion,--well enough, if successful, but inductive to hanging, if
unfortunate. Now those same men nearly all argue for the right of
peaceable secession, declaring that the State has a right to go out at
will, and that the Federal Government has no right to coerce or punish
it. These turncoats are the sympathetic, who are carried away by a
rush of popular enthusiasm, and the fearful or peaceable, who dread or
dislike violence. Let us see how a timid Unionist can be converted into
an advocate of the right of secession. Let us suppose a boat with three
men on board, which is hailed by a revenue-cutter, with a threat of
firing, if she does not come to. Two of these men believe that the
revenue-officer is performing a legal duty, and desire to obey him; but
the third, a reckless, domineering fellow, seizes the helm, lets the
sail fill, and attempts to run by, meantime declaring at the top of his
voice that the cutter has no business to stop his progress. The others
dare not resist him and cannot persuade him. Now, then, what position
will they take as to the right of the revenue-officer to fire? Ten to
one they will join their comrade whom they lately opposed; they will cry
out, that the pursuer was wrong in ordering them to stop, and ought not
to punish them for disobedience; in short, they will be converted by the
instinct of self-preservation into advocates of the right of peaceable
secession. I understand, indeed I know, that there are a few opponents
of disunion remaining In South Carolina; but, although they are wealthy
people and of good position, it is pretty certain that they have not an
atom of political influence.

Secession peaceable! It is what is most particularly desired at
Charleston, and, I believe, throughout the Cotton States. Certainly,
when I was there, the war-party, the party of the "Mercury," was not in
the ascendant, unless in the sense of having been "hoist with its own
petard" when it cried out for immediate hostilities. Not only Governor
Pickens and his Council, but nearly all the influential citizens, were
opposed to bloodshed. They demanded independence and Fort Sumter, but
desired and hoped to get both by argument. They believed, or tried to
believe, that at last the Administration would hearken to reason and
grant to South Carolina what it seemed to them could not be denied her
with justice. The battle-cry of the "Mercury," urging precipitation
even at the expense of defeat, for the sake of uniting the South, was
listened to without enthusiasm, except by the young and thoughtless.

"We shall never attack Fort Sumter," said one gentleman. "Don't you see
why? I have a son in the trenches, my next neighbor has one, everybody
in the city has one. Well, we shan't let our boys fight; we can't bear
to lose them. We don't want to risk our handsome, genteel, educated
young fellows against a gang of Irishmen, Germans, British deserters,
and New York roughs, not worth killing, and yet instructed to kill to
the best advantage. We can't endure it, and we shan't do it."

This repugnance to stake the lives of South Carolina patricians against
the lives of low-born, mercenaries was a feeling that I frequently heard
expressed. It was betting guineas against pennies, and on a limited
stock of guineas.

Other men, anti-secessionists even, assured me that war was inevitable,
that Fort Sumter would be attacked, that the volunteers were panting for
the strife, that Governor Pickens was excessively unpopular because of
his peaceful inclinations, and that he would soon be forced to give the
signal for battle. Once or twice I was seriously invited to stay a few
days longer, in order to witness the struggle and victory of South
Carolina. However, it was clear that the enthusiasm and confidence of
the people were no longer what they had been. Several dull and costly
weeks had passed since the passage of the secession ordinance.
Stump-speeches, torchlight-processions, fireworks, and other
jubilations, were among bygone things. The flags were falling to pieces,
and the palmettos withering, unnoticed except by strangers. Men had
begun to realize that a hurrah is not sufficient to carry out a great
revolution successfully; that the work which they had undertaken was
weightier, and the reward of it more distant, if not more doubtful, than
they had supposed. The political prophets had been forced, like the
Millerites, to ask an extension for their predictions. The anticipated
fleet of cotton-freighters had not arrived from Europe, and the expected
twelve millions of foreign gold had not refilled the collapsed banks.
The daily expenses were estimated at twenty thousand dollars; the
treasury was in rapid progress of depletion; and as yet no results. It
is not wonderful, that, under these circumstances, the most enthusiastic
secessionists were not gay, and that the general physiognomy of the city
was sober, not to say troubled. It must not be understood, however,
that there was any visible discontent or even discouragement. "We are
suffering in our affairs," said a business-man to me; "but you will
hear no grumbling." "We expect to be poor, very poor, for two or three
years," observed a lady; "but we are willing to bear it, for the sake of
the noble and prosperous end." "Our people do not want concessions,
and will never be tempted back into the Union," was the voice of every
private person, as well as of the Legislature. "I hope the Republicans
will offer no compromise," remarked one excellent person who has not
favored the revolution. "They would be sure to see it rejected: that
would humiliate them and anger them; then there would be more danger of
war."

Hatred of Buchanan, mingled with contempt for him, I found almost
universal. If any Northerner should ever get into trouble in South
Carolina because of his supposed abolition tendencies, I advise him to
bestow a liberal cursing on our Old Public Functionary, assuring him
that he will thereby not only escape tar and feathers, but acquire
popularity. The Carolinians called the then President double-faced
and treacherous, hardly allowing him the poor credit of being a
well-intentioned imbecile. Why should they not consider him false? Up to
the garrisoning of Fort Sumter he favored the project of secession full
as decidedly as he afterwards crossed it. Did he think that he was
laying a train to blow the Republicans off their platform, and leave off
his labor in a fright, when he found that the powder-bags to be exploded
had been placed under the foundations of the Union? The man who could
explain Mr. Buchanan would have a better title than Daniel Webster to be
called The Great Expounder.

During the ten days of my sojourn, Charleston was full of surprising
reports and painful expectations. If a door slammed, we stopped talking,
and looked at each other; and if the sound was repeated, we went to
the window and listened for Fort Sumter. Every strange noise was
metamorphosed by the watchful ear into the roar of cannon or the rush of
soldiery. Women trembled at the salutes which were fired in honor of the
secession of other States, fearing lest the struggle had commenced and
the dearly-loved son or brother in volunteer uniform was already under
the storm of the columbiads. One day, a reinforcement was coming to
Anderson, and the troops must attack him before it arrived; the next
day, Florida had assaulted Fort Pickens, and South Carolina was bound
to dash her bare bosom against Fort Sumter. The batteries were strong
enough to make a breach; and then again, the best authorities had
declared them not strong enough. A columbiad throwing a ball of one
hundred and twenty pounds, sufficient to crack the strongest embrasures,
was on its way from some unknown region. An Armstrong gun capable of
carrying ten miles had arrived or was about to arrive. No one inquired
whether Governor Pickens had suspended the law of gravitation in South
Carolina, in view of the fact that ordinarily an Armstrong gun will not
carry five miles,--nor whether, in such case, the guns of Fort Sumter
might not also be expected to double their range. Major Anderson was
a Southerner, who would surrender rather than shed the blood of
fellow-Southerners. Major Anderson was an army-officer, incapable by his
professional education of comprehending State rights, angry because he
had been charged with cowardice in withdrawing from Fort Moultrie, and
resolved to defend himself to the death.

In the mean time, the city papers were strangely deficient in local news
concerning the revolution,--possibly from a fear of giving valuable
military information to the enemy at Washington. Uselessly did I study
them for particulars concerning the condition of the batteries, and
the number of guns and troops,--finding little in them but mention
of parades, soldierly festivities, offers of service by enthusiastic
citizens, and other like small business. I thought of visiting the
islands, but heard that strangers were closely watched there, and that
a permit from authority to enter the forts was difficult to obtain.
Fortune, or rather, misfortune, favored me in this matter.

After passing six days in Charleston, hearing much that was
extraordinary, but seeing little, I left in the steamer Columbia for New
York. The main opening to the harbor, or Ship Channel, as it is called,
being choked with sunken vessels, and the Middle Channel little known,
our only resource for exit was Maffitt's Channel, a narrow strip of deep
water closely skirting Sullivan's Island. It was half-past six in the
morning, slightly misty and very quiet Passing Fort Sumter, then Fort
Moultrie, we rounded a low break-water, and attempted to take the
channel. I have heard a half-dozen reasons why we struck; but all I
venture to affirm is that we did strike. There was a bump; we hoped it
was the last:--there was another; we hoped again:--there was a third; we
stopped. The wheels rolled and surged, bringing the fine sand from
the bottom and changing the green waters to yellow; but the Columbia
remained inert under the gray morning sky, close alongside of the brown,
damp beach of Sullivan's Island. There was only a faint breeze, and a
mere ripple of a sea; but even those slight forces swung our stern far
enough toward the land to complete our helplessness. We lay broadside to
the shore, in the centre of a small crescent or cove, and, consequently,
unable to use our engines without forcing either bow or stern higher
up on the sloping bottom. The Columbia tried to advance, tried to back
water, and then gave up the contest, standing upright on her flat
flooring with no motion beyond an occasional faint bumping. The tugboat
Aid, half a mile ahead of us, cast off from the vessel which it was
taking out, and came to our assistance. Apparently it had been engaged
during the night in watching the harbor; for on deck stood a score of
volunteers in gray overcoats, while the naval-looking personage with
grizzled whiskers who seemed to command was the same Lieutenant Coste
who transferred the revenue-cutter Aiken from the service of the United
States to that of South Carolina. The Aid took hold of us, broke a large
new hawser after a brief struggle, and then went up to the city to
report our condition.

The morning was lowery, with driving showers running through it from
time to time, and an atmosphere penetratingly damp and cheerless. On the
beach two companies of volunteers were drilling in the rain, no doubt
getting an appetite for breakfast. Without uniforms, their trousers
tucked into their boots, and here and there a white blanket fastened
shawl-like over the shoulders, they looked, as one of our passengers
observed, like a party of returned Californians. Their line was uneven,
their wheeling excessively loose, their evolutions of the simplest and
yet awkwardly executed. Evidently they were newly embodied, and from the
country; for the Charleston companies are spruce in appearance and well
drilled. Half a dozen of them, who had been on sentinel duty during the
night, discharged their guns in the air,--a daily process, rendered
necessary by the moist atmosphere of the harbor at this season; and
then, the exercise being over, there was a general scamper for the
shelter of a neighboring cottage, low-roofed and surrounded by a veranda
after the fashion of Sullivan's Island. Within half an hour they
reappeared in idle squads, and proceeded to kill the heavy time
by staring at us as we stared at them. One individual, learned in
sea-phrase, insulted our misfortune by bawling, "Ship ahoy!" A fellow
in a red shirt, who looked more like a Bowery _bhoy_ than like a
Carolinian, hailed the captain to know if he might come aboard;
whereupon he was surrounded by twenty others, who appeared to
question him and confound him until he thought it best to disappear
unostentatiously. I conjectured that he was a hero of Northern birth,
who had concluded to run away, if he could do it safely.

When we tired of the volunteers, we looked at the harbor and its
inanimate surroundings. A ship from Liverpool, a small steamer from
Savannah, and a schooner or two of the coasting class passed by us
toward the city during the day, showing to what small proportions the
commerce of Charleston had suddenly shrunk. On shore there seemed to be
no population aside from the volunteers, Sullivan's Island is a summer
resort, much favored by Charlestonians in the hot season, because of its
coolness and healthfulness, but apparently almost uninhabited in winter,
notwithstanding that it boasts a village called Moultrieville. Its
hundred cottages are mostly of one model, square, low-roofed, a single
story in height, and surrounded by a veranda, a portion of which is in
some instances inclosed by blinds so as to add to the amount of shelter.
Paint has been sparingly used, when applied at all, and is seldom
renewed, when weather-stained. The favorite colors, at least those which
most strike the eye at a distance, are green and yellow. The yards are
apt to be full of sand-drifts, which are much prized by the possessors,
with whom it is an object to be secured from high tides and other
more permanent aggressions of the ocean. The whole island is but a
verdureless sand-drift, of which the outlines are constantly changing
under the influence of winds and waters. Fort Moultrie, once close to
the shore, as I am told, is now a hundred yards from it; while, half
a mile off, the sea flows over the site of a row of cottages not long
since washed away. Behind Fort Moultrie, where the land rises to its
highest, appears a continuous foliage of the famous palmettos, a low
palm, strange to the Northern eye, but not beautiful, unless to those
who love it for its associations. Compared with its brothers of the
East, it is short, contracted in outline, and deficient in waving grace.

The chill mist and drizzling rain frequently drove us under
cover. "While enjoying my cigar in the little smoking-room on the
promenade-deck, I listened to the talk of four players of euchre, two of
them Georgians, one a Carolinian, and one a pro-slavery New-Yorker.

"I wish the Cap'n would invite old Greeley on board his boat in New
York," said the Gothamite, "and then run him off to Charleston. I'd give
ten thousand dollars towards paying expenses; that is, if they could do
what they was a mind to with him."

"I reckon a little more'n ten thousand dollars'd do it," grinned
Georgian First.

"They'd cut him up into little bits," pursued the New-Yorker.

"They'd worry him first like a cat does a mouse," added the Carolinian.

"I'd rather serve Beecher or--what's his name?--Cheever, that trick,"
observed Georgian Second. "It's the cussed parsons that's done all the
mischief. Who played that bower? Yours, eh? My deal."

"I want to smash up some of these dam' Black Republicans," resumed the
New-Yorker. "I want to see the North suffer some. I don't care, if New
York catches it. I own about forty thousand dollars' worth of property
in ---- Street, and I want to see the grass growing all round it.
Blasted, if I can get a hand any way!"

"I say, we should be in a tight place, if the forts went to firing now,"
suggested the Carolinian. "Major Anderson would have a fair chance at
us, if he wanted to do us any harm."

"Damn Major Anderson!" answered the New-Yorker. "I'd shoot him myself,
if I had a chance. I've heard about Bob Anderson till I'm sick of it."

Of this fashion of conversation you may hear any desired amount at the
South, by going among the right sort of people. Let us take it for
granted, without making impertinent inquiry, that nothing of the kind
is ever uttered in any other country, whether in pot-house or parlor.
I suppose that such remarks seem very horrid to ladies and other
gentle-minded folk, who perhaps never heard the like in their lives,
and imagine, when they see the stuff on paper, that it is spoken with
scowling brows, through set teeth, and out of a heart of red-hot
passion. The truth is, that these ferocious phrases are generally
drawled forth in an _ex-officio_ tone, as if the speaker were rather
tired of that sort of thing, meant nothing very particular by it, and
talked thus only as a matter of fashion. It will be observed that the
most violent of these politicians was a New-Yorker. I am inclined to
pronounce, also, that the two Georgians were by birth New-Englanders.
The Carolinian was the most moderate of the company, giving his
attention chiefly to the game, and throwing out his one remark
concerning the worrying of Greeley with an air of simply civil assent
to the general meaning of the conversation, as an exchange of
anti-abolition sentiments. "If you will play that card," he seemed to
say, "I follow suit as a mere matter of course."

There was a second attempt to haul us off at sunset, and a third in the
morning, both unsuccessful. Each tide, though stormless, carried the
Columbia a little higher up the beach; and the tugs, trying singly
to move her, only broke their hawsers and wasted precious time.
Fortunately, the sea continued smooth, so that the ship escaped a
pounding. On Saturday, at eleven, twenty-eight hours after we struck,
all hope of getting off without discharging cargo having been abandoned,
we passengers were landed on Sullivan's Island, to make our way back
to Charleston. Our baggage was forwarded to the ferry in carts, and
we followed at leisure on foot. In company with Georgian First and a
gentleman from Brooklyn, I strolled over the sand-rolls, damp and
hard now with a week's rain, passed one or two of the tenantless
summer-houses, and halted beside the _glacis_ of Fort Moultrie. I do not
wonder that Major Anderson did not consider his small force safe within
this fortification. It is overlooked by neighboring sand-hills and by
the houses of Moultrieville, which closely surround it on the land side,
while its ditch is so narrow and its rampart so low that a ladder of
twenty-five feet in length would reach from the outside of the former to
the summit of the latter. A fire of sharp-shooters from the commanding
points, and two columns of attack, would have crushed the feeble
garrison. No military movement could be more natural than the retreat to
Fort Sumter. What puzzles one, especially on the spot, and what nobody
in Charleston could explain to me, is the fact that this manoeuvre could
be executed unobserved by the people of Moultrieville, few as they are,
and by the guard-boats which patrolled the harbor.

On the eastern side of the fort two or three dozen negroes were engaged
in filling canvas bags with sand, to be used in forming temporary
embrasures. One lad of eighteen, a dark mulatto, presented the very
remarkable peculiarity of chest-nut hair, only slightly curling. The
others were nearly all of the true field-hand type, aboriginal black,
with dull faces, short and thick forms, and an air of animal contentment
or at least indifference. They talked little, but giggled a great deal,
snatching the canvas bags from each other, and otherwise showing their
disbelief in the doctrine of all work and no play. When the barrows were
sufficiently filled to suit their weak ideal of a load, a procession of
them set off along a plank causeway leading into the fort, observing a
droll semblance of military precision and pomp, and forcing a passage
through lounging unmilitary buckras with an air of, "Out of de way, Ole
Dan Tucker!" We glanced at the yet unfinished ditch, half full of water,
and walked on to the gateway. A grinning, skipping negro drummer was
showing a new pair of shoes to the tobacco-chewing, jovial youth who
stood, or rather sat, sentinel.

"How'd you get hold of _them?_" asked the latter, surveying the articles
admiringly.

"Got a special order frum the Cap'm fur 'um. That ee way to do it. Won't
wet through, no matter how it rain. He, he! I'm all right now."

Here he showed ivory to his ears, cut a caper, and danced into the fort.

"D-a-m' nig-ger!" grinned the sentinel, approvingly, looking at us to
see if we also enjoyed the incident. Thus introduced to the temporary
guardian of the fort, we told him that we were from the Columbia, which
he was glad to bear of, wanting to know if she was damaged, how she went
ashore, whether she could get off, etc., etc. He was a fair specimen of
the average country Southerner, lounging, open to address, and fond of
talk.

"I've no authority to let you in," he said, when we asked that favor;
"but I'll call the corporal of the guard."

"If you please."

"Corporal of the guard!"

Appeared the corporal, who civilly heard us, and went for the lieutenant
of the guard. Presently a blonde young officer, with a pleasant face,
somewhat Irish in character, came out to us, raising his forefinger in
military salute.

"We should like to go into the fort, if it is proper," I said. "We ask
hospitality the more boldly, because we are shipwrecked people."

"It is against the regulations. However, I venture to take the
responsibility," was the obliging answer.

We passed in, and wandered unwatched for half an hour about the
irregular, many-angled fortress. One-third of the interior is occupied
by two brick barracks, covered with rusty stucco, and by other brick
buildings, as yet incomplete, which I took to be of the nature of
magazines. On the walls, gaping landward as well as seaward, are thirty
or thirty-five iron cannon, all _en barbette_, but protected toward the
harbor by heavy piles of sand-bags, fenced up either with barrels of
sand or palmetto-logs driven firmly into the rampart. Four eight-inch
columbiads, carrying sixty-four pound balls, pointed at Fort Sumter. Six
other heavy pieces, Paixhans, I believe, faced the neck of the harbor.
The remaining armament of lighter calibre, running, I should judge, from
forty-twos down to eighteens. Only one gun lay on the ground destitute
of a carriage. The place will stand a great deal of battering; for the
walls are nearly bidden by the sand-covered _glacis_, which would catch
and smother four point-blank shots out of five, if discharged from a
distance. Against shells, however, it has no resource; and one mortar
would make it a most unwholesome residence.

"What's this?" asked a volunteer, in homespun gray uniform, who, like
ourselves, had come in by courtesy.

"That's the butt of the old flag-staff," answered a comrade. "Cap'n
Foster cut it down before he left the fort, damn him I It was a dam'
sneaking trick. I've a great mind to shave off a sliver and send it to
Lincoln."

The idea of getting a bit of the famous staff as a memento struck
me, and I attempted to put it in practice; but the exceedingly tough
pitch-pine defied my slender pocket-knife.

"Jim, cut the gentleman a piece," said one of the volunteers, Jim drew a
toothpick a foot long and did me the favor, for which I here repeat my
thanks to him.

They were good-looking, healthy fellows, these two, like most of their
comrades, with a certain air of frank gentility and self-respect about
them, being probably the sons of well-to-do planters. It would be a
great mistake to suppose that the volunteers are drawn, to any extent
whatever, from the "poor white trash." The secession movement, like all
the political action of the State at all times, is independent of the
crackers, asks no aid nor advice of them, and, in short, ignores them
utterly.

"I was here when the Star of the West was fired on," the Lieutenant told
us. "We only had powder for two hours. Anderson could have put us out in
a short time, if he had chosen."

"How rapidly can these heavy guns be fired?"

"About ten times an hour."

"Do you think the defences will protect the garrison against a
bombardment?"

"I think the palmetto stockades will answer. I don't know about that
enormous pile of barrels, however. If a shot hits the mass on the top, I
am afraid it will come down, bags and barrels together, bury the gun and
perhaps the gunners."

"What if Sumter should open now?" I suggested.

"We should be here to help," answered the Georgian.

"We should be here to run away," amended my comrade from Brooklyn.

"Well, I suppose we should be of mighty little use, and might as well
clear out," was the sober second-thought of the Georgian.

Having satisfied our curiosity, we thanked the Lieutenant and left Fort
Moultrie. The story of our visit to it excited much surprise, when we
recounted it in the city. Members of the Legislature and other men high
in influence had desired the privilege, but had not applied for it,
expecting a repulse.

A walk down a winding street, bordered by scattered cottages, inclosed
by brown board-fences or railings, and tracked by a horse-railroad built
for the Moultrie House, led us to the ferry-wharf, where we found our
baggage piled together, and our fellow-passengers wandering about in a
state of bored expectation. Sullivan's Island in winter is a good spot
for an economical man, inasmuch as it presents no visible opportunities
of spending money. There were houses of refreshment, as we could see
by their signs; but if they did business, it was with closed doors
and barred shutters. After we had paid a newsboy five cents for the
"Mercury," and five more for the "Courier," we were at the end of our
possibilities in the way of extravagance. At half-past one arrived the
ferry-boat with a few passengers, mostly volunteers, and a deck-load of
military stores, among which I noticed Boston biscuit and several dozen
new knapsacks. Then, from the other side, came the "dam' nigger," that
is to say, the drummer of the new shoes, beating his sheepskin at the
head of about fifty men of the Washington Artillery, who were on their
way back to town from Fort Moultrie. They were fine-looking young
fellows, mostly above the middle size of Northerners, with spirited and
often aristocratic faces, but somewhat more devil-may-care in expression
than we are accustomed to see in New England. They poured down the
gangway, trailed arms, ascended the promenade-deck, ordered arms,
grounded arms, and broke line. The drill struck me as middling, which
may be owing to the fact that the company has lately increased to about
two hundred members, thus diluting the old organization with a large
number of new recruits. Military service at the South is a patrician
exercise, much favored by men of "good family," more especially at this
time, when it signifies real danger and glory.

Our rajpoots having entered the boat, we of lower caste were permitted
to follow. At two o'clock we were steaming over the yellow waters of the
harbor. The volunteers, like everybody else in Charleston, discussed
Secession and Fort Sumter, considering the former as an accomplished
fact, and the latter as a fact of the kind called stubborn. They talked
uniform, too, and equipments, and marksmanship, and drinks, and cigars,
and other military matters. Now and then an awkwardly folded blanket was
taken from the shoulders which it disgraced, refolded, packed carefully
in its covering of India-rubber, and strapped once more in its place,
two or three generally assisting in the operation. Presently a firing at
marks from the upper deck commenced. The favorite target was a conical
floating buoy, showing red on the sunlit surface of the harbor, some
four hundred yards away. With a crack and a hoarse whiz the minie-balls
flew towards it, splashing up the water where they first struck and then
taking two or three tremendous skips before they sank. A militiaman from
New York city, who was one of my fellow-passengers, told me that he
"never saw such good shooting." It seemed to me that every sixth ball
either hit the buoy full, or touched water but a few yards this side of
it, while not more than one in a dozen went wild.

"It is good for a thousand yards," said a volunteer, slapping his
bright, new piece, proudly.

A favorite subject of argument appeared to be whether Fort Sumter ought
to be attacked immediately or not. A lieutenant standing near me talked
long and earnestly regarding this matter with a civilian friend,
breaking out at last in a loud tone,--

"Why, good Heaven, Jim! do you want that place to go peaceably into the
hands of Lincoln?"

"No, Fred, I do not. But I tell you, Fred, when that fort is attacked,
it will be the bloodiest day,--the bloodiest day!--the bloodiest----!!"

And here, unable to express himself in words, Jim flung his arms wildly
about, ground his tobacco with excitement, spit on all sides, and walked
away, shaking his head, I thought, in real grief of spirit.

We passed close to Fort Pinckney, our volunteers exchanging hurrahs with
the garrison. It is a round, two-storied, yellow little fortification,
standing at one end of a green marsh known as Shute's Folly Island.
What it was put there for no one knows: it is too close to the city to
protect it; too much out of the harbor to command that. Perhaps it might
keep reinforcements for Anderson from coming down the Ashley, just as
the guns on the Battery were supposed to be intended to deter them from
descending the Cooper.

On the wharf of the ferry three drunken volunteers, the first that I had
seen in that condition, brushed against me. The nearest one, a handsome
young fellow of six feet two, half turned to stare back at me with a--

"How are ye, Cap'm? Gaw damn ye! Haw, haw, aw!"--and reeled onward,
brimful of spirituous good-nature.

Four days more had I in Charleston, waiting from tide to tide for a
chance to sail to New York, and listening from hour to hour for the guns
of Fort Sumter. Sunday was a day of excitement, a report spreading that
the Floridians had attacked Fort Pickens, and the Charlestonians feeling
consequently bound in honor to fight their own dragon. Groups of earnest
men talked all day and late into the evening under the portico and in
the basement-rooms of the hotel, besides gathering at the corners and
strolling about the Battery. "We must act." "We cannot delay." "We ought
not to submit." Such were the phrases that fell upon the ear oftenest
and loudest.

As I lounged, after tea, in the vestibule of the reading-room, an
eccentric citizen of Arkansas varied the entertainment. A short, thin
man, of the cracker type, swarthy, long-bearded, and untidy, he was
dressed in well-worn civilian costume, with the exception of an old
blue coat showing dim remnants of military garniture. Heeling up to a
gentleman who sat near me, he glared stupidly at him from beneath a
broad-brimmed hat, demanding a seat mutely, but with such eloquence of
oscillation that no words were necessary. The respectable person thus
addressed, not anxious to receive the stranger into his lap, rose and
walked away, with that air of not, having seen anything so common to
disconcerted people who wish to conceal their disturbance. Into the
vacant place dropped the stranger, stretching out his feet, throwing
his head back against the wall, and half closing his eyes with the
drunkard's own leer of self-sufficiency. During a few moments of
agonizing suspense the world waited. Then from those whiskey-scorched
and tobacco-stained lips came a long, shrill "Yee-p!"

It was his exordium; it demanded the attention of the company; and
though he had it not, he continued:--

"I'm an Arkansas man, _I_ am. I'm a big su-gar planter, _I_ am. All
right! Go a'ead! I own fifty niggers, _I_ do. Yee-p!"

He lifted both feet and slammed them on the floor energetically, pausing
for a reply. He had addressed all men; no one responded, and he went
on:--

"I'm for straightout, immedit shession, _I_ am. I go for 'staining
coursh of Sou' Car'lina, _I_ do. I'm ready to fight for Sou' Car'lina.
I'm a Na-po-le-on Bonaparte. All right! Go a'ead! Yee-p! Fellahs don't
know me here. I'm an Arkansas man, I am. Sou' Car'lina won't kill an
Arkansas man. I'm an immedit shessionist. Hurrah for Sou' Car'lina! All
right! Yee-p!"

There was a lingering, caressing accent on his "_I_ am," which told how
dear to him was his individuality, drunk or sober. He looked at no one;
his hat was drawn over his eyes; his hands were deep in his pockets;
his feet did all needful gesturing. I stepped in front of him to get
a fuller view of his face, and the action aroused his attention. He
surveyed my gray Inverness wrapper and gave me a chuckling nod of
approbation.

"How are ye, Bub? I like that blanket, _I_ do."

In spite of this noble stranger's goodwill and prowess, we still found
Fort Sumter a knotty question. In a country which for eighty years has
not seen a shot fired in earnest, it is not wonderful that a good
deal of ignorance should exist concerning military matters, and
that second-class plans should be hatched for taking a first-class
fortification. While I was in Charleston, the most popular proposition
was to bombard continuously for two whole days and nights, thereby
demoralizing the garrison by depriving it of sleep and causing it to
surrender at the first attempt to escalade. Another plan, not in general
favor, was to smoke Anderson out by means of a raft covered with burning
mixtures of a chemical and bad-smelling nature. Still another, with
perhaps yet fewer adherents, was to advance on all sides in such a vast
number of row-boats that the fort could not sink them all, whereupon
the survivors should land on the wharf and proceed to take such further
measures as might be deemed expedient. The volunteers from the country
always arrived full of faith and defiance. "We want to get a squint at
that Fort Sumter," they would say to their city friends. "We are going
to take it. If we don't plant the palmetto on it, it's because there's
no such tree as the palmetto." Down the harbor they would go in the
ferry-boats to Morris or Sullivan's Island. The spy-glass would be
brought out, and one after another would peer through it at the object
of their enmity. Some could not sight it at all, confounded the
instrument, and fell back on their natural vision. Others, more lucky,
or better versed in telescopic observations, got a view of the fortress,
and perhaps burst out swearing at the evident massiveness of the walls
and the size of the columbiads.

"Good Lord, what a gun!" exclaimed one man. "D'ye see that gun? What an
almighty thing! I'll be ----, if I ever put my head in front of it!"

The difficulties of assault were admitted to be very great, considering
the bad footing, the height of the ramparts, and the abundant store of
muskets and grenades in the garrison. As to breaches, nobody seemed to
know whether they could be made or not. The besieging batteries were
neither heavy nor near, nor could they be advanced as is usual in
regular sieges, nor had they any advantage over the defence except in
the number of gunners, while in regard to position and calibre they were
inferior. To knock down a wall nearly forty feet high and fourteen feet
thick at a distance of more than half a mile seemed a tough undertaking,
even when unresisted. It was discovered also that the side of the
fortification towards Fort Johnstone, its only weak point, had been
strengthened so as to make it bomb-proof by means of interior masonry
constructed from the stones of the landing-place. Then nobody wanted to
knock Fort Sumter down, inasmuch as that involved either the labor
of building it up again, or the necessity of going without it as a
harbor-defence. Finally, suppose it should be attacked and not taken?
Really, we unlearned people in the art of war were vastly puzzled as we
thought tins whole matter over, and we sometimes doubted whether our
superiors were not almost equally bothered with ourselves.

This fighting was a sober, sad subject; and yet at times it took a turn
toward the ludicrous. A gentleman told me that he was present when the
steamer Marion was seized with the intention of using her in pursuing
the Star of the West. A vehement dispute arose as to the fitness of the
vessel for military service.

"Fill her with men, and put two or three eighteen-pounders in her," said
the advocates of the measure.

"Where will you put your eighteen-pounders?" demanded the opposition.

"On the promenade-deck, to be sure."

"Yes, and the moment you fire one, you'll see it go through the bottom
of the ship, and then you'll have to go after it."

During the two days previous to my second and successful attempt to quit
Charleston, the city was in full expectation that the fort would shortly
be attacked. News had arrived that Federal troops were on their way with
reinforcements. An armed steamer had been seen off the harbor, both by
night and day, making signals to Anderson. The Governor went down
to Sullivan's Island to inspect the troops and Fort Moultrie. The
volunteers, aided by negroes and even negro women, worked all night on
the batteries. Notwithstanding we were close upon race-week, when the
city is usually crowded, the streets had a deserted air, and nearly
every acquaintance I met told me he had been down to the islands to
see the preparations. Yet the whole excitement, like others which had
preceded, ended even short of smoke. News came that reinforcements had
not been sent to Anderson; and the destruction of that most inconvenient
person was once more postponed. People fell back on the old hope that
the Government would be brought to listen to reason,--that it would
give up to South Carolina what it could not keep from her with justice,
--that it would grant, in short, the incontrovertible right of peaceable
secession. For, in the midst of all these labors and terrors, this
expense and annoyance, no one talked of returning into the Union, and
all agreed in deprecating compromise.

Once more, this time in the James Adger, I set sail from Charleston. The
boat lost one tide, and consequently one day, because at the last
moment the captain found himself obliged to take out a South Carolina
clearance. As I passed down the harbor, I counted fourteen square-rigged
vessels at the wharves, and one lying at anchor, while three others had
just passed the bar, outward-bound, and two were approaching from the
open sea. Deterred from the Ship Channel by the sunken schooners, and
from Maffitt's Channel by the fate of the Columbia, we tried the Middle
Channel, and glided over the bar without accident.

"Sailing to Charleston is very much like going foreign," I said to a
middle-aged sea-captain whom we numbered among our passengers. "What
with heaving the lead, and doing without beacons, and lying off the
coast o' nights, it makes one think of trading to new countries."

I had, it seems, unintentionally pulled the string which jerked him.
Springing up, he paced about excitedly for a few moments, and then broke
out with his story.

"Yes,--I know it,--I know as much about it as anybody, I reckon. I lay
off there nine days in a nor'easter and lost my anchors; and here I am
going on to New York to buy some more; and all for those cursed Black
Republicans!"

In South Carolina they see but one side of the shield,--which is quite
different, as we know, from the custom of the rest of mankind.




REVIEWS AND LITERARY NOTICES.


1. _Descriptive Ethnology._ By R.G. LATHAM. 2 vols. London. 1859.

2. _Anthropologie der Naturvoelker._ Von Dr. T. WAIZ. 2 Baender. Leipzig.
1860.

Some writers have the remarkable faculty of making the subject which
they may happen to treat forever more distasteful and wearisome to their
readers. Whether the cause be in the style, or the point of view, or
the method of treatment, or in all together, they seem able to force the
student away in disgust from the whole field on which they labor, with
vows never again to cross it.

Such an author, it seems to us, is pre-eminently R.G. Latham, in his
treatment of Ethnology. Happy the man who has any such philosophic
interest in Human Races, that he can ever care to hear again of the
subject, after perusing Mr. Latham's various volumes on "Descriptive
Ethnology." We wonder that the whole English reading public; has not
consigned the science to the shelf of Encyclopedias of Useful Knowledge,
or of Year-Books of Fact, or any other equally philosophic and connected
works, after the treatment which this modern master of Ethnology has
given to the subject.

Such disconnected masses of facts are heaped together in these works,
such incredible dulness is shown in presenting them, such careful
avoidance of any generalization or of any interesting particular, such
a bald and conceited style, and such a cockneyish and self-opinionated
view of human history, as our soul wearies even to think of. Mr. Latham
disdains any link of philosophy, or any classification, among his "ten
thousand facts," as being a fault of the "German School" (whatever that
may be) of Ethnology. It seems to him soundly "British" to disbelieve
all the best conclusions of modern scholarship, and to urge his own
fanciful or shallow theories. He treats all human superstitions and
mythologies as if he were standing in the Strand and judging them by the
ideas of modern London. His is a Cockney's view of antiquity. He cannot
imagine that a barbarous and infant people, groping in the mysteries of
the moral universe, might entertain some earnest and poetic views which
were not precisely in the line of thought of the Londoners of the
nineteenth century, and yet which might be worth investigating. To his
mind, there is no grand march of humanity, slow, but certain, towards
higher ideals, through the various lines of race,--but rather
innumerable ripples on the surface of history, which come and pass away
without connection and without purpose.

The reader wades slowly through his books, and leaves them with a
feeling of intense disgust. Such a vast gathering of facts merely to
produce this melancholy confusion of details! You feel that his eminence
in the science must be from the circumstance that no one else is dull
enough and patient enough to gather such a museum of facts in regard
to human beings. The mind is utterly confused as to divisions of human
races, and is ready to conclude that there must be almost as many
varieties of man as there are tribes or dialects, and that Ethnology has
not yet reached the position of a science.

The reader must pardon the bitterness of our feelings; but we are just
smarting from a prolonged perusal of all Mr. Latham's works, especially
the two volumes whose title is given above; and that we may have
sympathy, if only in a faint degree, from our friends, we quote a few
passages, taken at random, though we cannot possibly thus convey an
adequate conception of the infinite dulness of the work.

The following is his elegant introduction:--

  "I follow the Horatian rule, and plunge, at
  once, _in medias res_. I am on the Indus, but
  not on the Indian portion of it. I am on the
  Himalayas, but not on their southern side. I
  am on the northwestern ranges, with Tartary
  on the north, Bokhara on the west, and Hindostan
  on the south. I am in a neighborhood
  where three great religions meet: Mahometanism,
  Buddhism. Brahminism. I _must_ begin
  somewhere; and here is my beginning."--
  Vol. i. p. 1.

The following is his analysis of the beautiful Finnish Kalevala:--

"Wainamoinen is much of a smith, and more of a harper. Illmarinen is
most of a smith. Lemminkainen is much of a harper, and little of a
smith. The hand of the daughter of the mistress of Pohjola is what, each
and all, the three sons of Kalevala strive to win,--a hand which the
mother of the owner will give to any one who can make for her and
for Pohjola _Sampo_, Wainamoinen will not; but he knows of one who
will,--Illmarinen. Illmarinen makes it, and gains the mother's consent
thereby. But the daughter requires another service. He must hunt down
the elk of Tunela. We now see the way in which the actions of the heroes
are, at one and the same time, separate and connected. Wainamoinen
tries; Illmarinen tries (and eventually wins); Lemminkainen tries. There
are alternations of friendship and enmity. Sampo is made and presented.
It is then wanted back again.

"'Give us,' says Wainamoinen, 'if not the whole, half.'

"'Sampo,' says Louki, the mistress of Pohjola,' cannot be divided.'

"'Then let us steal it,' says one of the three.

"'Agreed,' say the other two.

"So the rape of Sampo takes place. It is taken from Pohjola, whilst the
owners are sung to sleep by the harp of Lemminkainen; sung to sleep,
but not for so long a time as to allow the robbers to escape. They are
sailing Kalevalaward, when Louki comes after them on the wings of the
wind, and raises a storm. Sampo is broken, and thrown into the sea. Bad
days now come. There is no sun, no moon. Illmarinen makes them of silver
and gold. He had previously made his second wife (for he lost his first)
out of the same metals. However, Sampo is washed up, and made whole.
Good days come. The sun and moon shine as before, and the sons of
Kalevala possess Sampo."--Vol. i., pp. 433, 434.

This, again, is Mr. Latham's profound and interesting view of
_Buddhism:--_

"Buddhism is one thing. Practices out of which Buddhism may be developed
are another. It has been already suggested that the ideas conveyed by
the terms _Sramanoe_ and _Gymnosophistoe_ are just as Brahminic as
Buddhist, and, _vice versa_, just as Buddhist as Brahminic.

"The earliest dates of specific Buddhism are of the same age as the
earliest dates of specific Brahminism.

"Clemens of Alexandria mentions Buddhist pyramids, the Buddhist habit of
depositing certain bones in them, the Buddhist practice of foretelling
events, the Buddhist practice of continence, the Buddhist Semnai or holy
virgins. This, however, may he but so much asceticism. He mentions this
and more. He supplies the name Bouta; Bouta being honored as a god.

"From Cyril of Jerusalem we learn that Samnaism was, more or less,
Manichaean,--Manichaeanism being, more or less, Samanist. Terebinthus,
the preceptor of Manes, took the name Baudas. In Epiphanius, Terebinthus
is the pupil of Scythianus.

"Suidas makes Terebinthus a pupil of Baudda, who pretended to be the
son of a virgin. And here we may stop to remark, that the Mongol
Tshingiz-Khan is said to be virgin-born; that, word for word, Scythianus
is Sak; that Sakya Muni (compare it with Manes) is a name of Buddha.

"Be this as it may, there was, before A.D. 300,--

  "1. Action and reaction between Buddhism
  and Christianity.

  "2. Buddhist buildings.

  "3. The same cultus in both Bactria and
  India.

  "Whether this constitute Buddhism is another
  question."--Vol. ii. p. 317.

And more of an equally attractive and comprehensible character.

We assure the reader that these extracts are but feeble exponents of the
peculiar power of Mr. Latham's works,--a power of unmitigated dulness.
What his views are on the great questions of the science--the origin
of races, the migrations, the crossings of varieties, and the like--no
mortal can remember, who has penetrated the labyrinth of his researches.

An author of a very different kind is Professor Waiz, whose work on
Anthropology has just reached this country: a writer as philosophic as
Mr. Latham is disconnected; as pleasing and natural in style as the
other is affected; as simply open to the true and good in all customs or
superstitions of barbarous peoples as the Englishman is contemptuous of
everything not modern and European. Waiz seems to us the most careful
and truly scientific author in the field of Ethnology whom we have
had since Prichard, and with the wider scope which belongs to the
intellectual German.

The bane of this science, as every one knows, has been its theorizing,
and its want of careful inductive reasoning from facts. The
classifications in it have been endless, varying almost with the fancies
of each new student; while every prominent follower of it has had some
pet hypothesis, to which he desired to suit his facts. Whether the
_a priori_ theory were of modern miraculous origin or of gradual
development, of unity or of diversity of parentage, of permanent and
absolute divisions of races or of a community of blood, it has equally
forced the author to twist his facts.

Perhaps the basest of all uses to which theory has been put in this
science was in a well-known American work, where facts and fancies in
Ethnology were industriously woven together to form another withe about
the limbs of the wretched African slave.

Waiz has reasoned slowly and carefully from facts, considering in
his view all possible hypotheses,--even, for instance, the
development-theory of Darwin,--and has formed his own conclusion on
scientific data, or has wisely avowed that no conclusion is possible.

The classification to which he is forced is that which all profound
investigators are approaching,--that of language interpreted by history.
He is compelled to believe that no physiological evidences of race can
be considered as at all equal to the evidences from language. At the
same time, he is ready to admit that even this classification is
imperfect, as from the nature of the case it must be; for the source of
the confusion lies in the very unity of mankind. He rejects _in toto_
Professor Agassiz's "realm-theory," as inconsistent with facts. The
hybrid-question, as put by Messrs. Gliddon and Nott, meets with a
searching and careful investigation, with the conclusion that nothing
in facts yet ascertained proves any want of vitality or power of
propagation in mulattoes or in crosses of any human races.

The unity of origin and the vast antiquity of mankind are the two
important conclusions drawn.

His second volume is entirely devoted to the negro races, and is the
most valuable treatise yet written on that topic.

The whole work is mainly directed towards _Naturvoelker_, or "Peoples in
a State of Nature," and therefore cannot be recommended for translation,
as a general text-book on the science of Ethnology,--a book which is
now exceedingly needed in all our higher schools and colleges; but as
a general treatise, with many new and important facts, scientifically
treated, it can be most highly commended to the general scholar.


_Il Politecnico. Repertorio Mensile di Studi applicati alia Prosperita e
Coltura Sociale._ Milano, 1860. New York: Charles B. Norton, Agent for
Libraries, 596, Broadway.

Among the best first-fruits of Italian liberty are the free publication
and circulation of books; and it is a striking indication of the new
order of things in Lombardy, that the publishers at Milan of the monthly
journal, "Il Politecnico," should at once have established an American
agency in New York, and that in successive numbers of their periodical
during the present year they should have furnished lists of some of the
principal American publications which they are prepared to obtain for
Italian readers. It will be a fortunate circumstance for the people of
both countries, should a ready means be established for the interchange
of their contemporaneous works in literature and science.

The "Politecnico" is not altogether a new journal. Seven volumes of it
bad been published, and had acquired for it a high reputation and a
considerable circulation, when political events put a stop to its
issue. The Austrian system of government after 1849 repressed alt free
expression of thought in Lombardy; and no encouragement was afforded for
the publication of any work not under the control of the administration.
With the beginning of the present year the "Politecnico" was
reestablished, mainly through the influence and under the direction of
Dr. Carlo Cattaneo, who had been the chief promoter of the preceding
original series. The numbers of the new series give evidence of talent
and independence in its conductors and contributors, and contain
articles of intrinsic value, beside that which they possess as
indications of the present intellectual condition and tendencies of
Italy. The journal is wholly devoted to serious studies, its object
being the cultivation of the moral and physical sciences with the arts
depending on them, and their practical application to promote the
national prosperity. That it will carry out its design with ability is
guarantied by the character of Cattaneo.

Carlo Cattaneo is a man of unquestioned power of intellect, of strong
character, and resolute energy. Already distinguished, not only as a
political economist, but as a forcible reasoner in applied politics, he
took a leading part in the struggle of 1848 in Milan, and, inspired by
ill-will towards Charles Albert and the Piedmontese, was one of the
promoters of the disastrous Lombard policy which defeated the hopes of
the opponents of Austria at that day. Though an Italian liberal, and
unquestionably honest in his patriotic intentions, he was virtually an
ally of Radetzky. When the Austrians retook Milan, he was compelled to
fly, and took refuge in Lugano, where he compiled three large volumes
on the affairs of Italy, from the accession of Pius IX. to the fall of
Venice, in which he exhibited his political views, endeavoring to show
that the misfortunes of Lombardy were due to the ambitious and false
policy of the unhappy Charles Albert. His distrust of the Piedmontese
has not diminished with the recent changes in the affairs of Italy; and
although Lombardy is now united to Piedmont, and the hope of freedom
seems to lie in a hearty and generous union of men of all parties in
support of the new government, Cattaneo, when in March last he was
elected a member of the National Parliament, refused to take his seat,
that he might not be obliged to swear allegiance to the King and the
Constitution. His political desire seems to be to see Italy not brought
under one rule, but composed of a union of states, each preserving
its special autonomy. He is a federalist, and does not share in the
unitarian view which prevails with almost all the other prominent
Italian statesmen, and which at this moment appears to be the only
system that can create a strong, united, independent Italy. It was to
him, perhaps, more than to any other single man, that the difficulties
which lately arose in the settling of the mode of annexation of Sicily
and Naples to the Sardinian kingdom were due; and the small party in
Parliament which recently refused to join in the vote of confidence in
the ministry of Cavour was led by Ferrari, the disciple of the Milanese
Doctor.

But however impracticable Cattaneo may be, and however mistaken and
extravagant his political views, he is a man of such vigor of mind, that
a journal conducted by him becomes, from the fact of his connection with
it, one of the important organs of Italian thought. We trust that the
"Politecnico" will find subscribers among those in our country who
desire to keep up their knowledge of Italian affairs at a time of such
extraordinary interest as the present.


_Elsie Venner_. A Romance of Destiny. By OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES. 2 vols.
Boston: Ticknor & Fields. 1861.

English literature numbers among its more or less distinguished authors
a goodly number of physicians. Sir Thomas Browne was, perhaps, the
last of the great writers of English prose whose mind and style were
impregnated with imagination. He wrote poetry without meaning it, as
many of his brother doctors have meant to write poetry without doing it,
in the classic style of

  "Inoculation, heavenly maid, descend!"

Garth's "Dispensary" was long ago as fairly buried as any of his
patients; and Armstrong's "Health" enjoys the dreary immortality of
being preserved in the collections, like one of those queer things they
show you in a glass jar at the anatomical museums. Arbuthnot, a truly
genial humorist, has hardly had justice done him. People laugh over his
fun in the "Memoirs of Scriblerus," and are commonly satisfied to think
it Pope's. Smollett insured his literary life in "Humphrey Clinker";
and we suppose his Continuation of Hume is still one of the pills which
ingenuous youth is expected to gulp before it is strong enough to
resist. Goldsmith's fame has steadily gained; and so has that of Keats,
whom we may also fairly reckon in our list, though he remained harmless,
having never taken a degree. On the whole, the proportion of doctors who
have positively succeeded in our literature is a large one, and we
have now another very marked and beautiful case in Dr. Holmes. Since
Arbuthnot, the profession has produced no such wit; since Goldsmith, no
author so successful.

Five years ago it would have been only Dr. Holmes's intimate friends
that would have considered the remarkable success he has achieved not
only possible, but probable. They knew, that, if the fitting opportunity
should only come, he would soon show how much stuff he had in
him,--sterner stuff, too, than the world had supposed,--stuff not
merely to show off the iris of a brilliant reputation, but to block out
into the foundations of an enduring fame. It seems an odd thing to say
that Dr. Holmes had suffered by having given proof of too much wit; but
it is undoubtedly true. People in general have a great respect for those
who scare them or make them cry, but are apt to weigh lightly one who
amuses them. They like to be tickled, but they would hardly take the
advice of their tickler on any question they thought serious. We have
our doubts whether the majority of those who make up what is called "the
world" are fond of wit. It rather puts them out, as Nature did Fuseli:
They look on its crinkling play as men do at lightning; and while they
grant it is very fine, are teased with an uncomfortable wonder as to
where it is going to strike next. They would rather, on the whole,
it were farther off. They like well-established jokes, the fine old
smoked-herring sort, such as the clown offers them in the circus,
warranted never to spoil, if only kept dry enough. Your fresh wit
demands a little thought, perhaps, or at least a kind of negative wit,
in the recipient. It is an active, meddlesome--quality, forever putting
things in unexpected and somewhat startling relations to each other;
and such new relations are as unwelcome to the ordinary mind as poor
relations to a _nouveau riche_. Who wants to be all the time painfully
conceiving of the antipodes walking like flies on the ceiling? Yet wit
is related to some of the profoundest qualities of the intellect. It is
the reasoning faculty acting _per saltum_, the sense of analogy brought
to a focus; it is generalization in a flash, logic by the electric
telegraph, the sense of likeness in unlikeness, that lies at the root
of all discoveries; it is the prose imagination, common-sense at fourth
proof. All this is no reason why the world should like it, however; and
we fancy that the Question, _Ridentem dicere verum quid vetat?_ was
plaintively put in the primitive tongue by one of the world's gray
fathers to another without producing the slightest conviction. Of
course, there must be some reason for this suspicion of wit, as there
is for most of the world's deep-rooted prejudices. There is a kind of
surface-wit that is commonly the sign of a light and shallow nature.
It becomes habitual _persiflage_, incapable of taking a deliberate and
serious view of anything, or of conceiving the solemnities that environ
life. This has made men distrustful of all laughers; and they are apt to
confound in one sweeping condemnation with this that humor whose base
is seriousness, and which is generally the rebound of the mind from
over-sad contemplation. They do not see that the same qualities that
make Shakspeare the greatest of tragic poets make him also the deepest
of humorists.

Dr. Holmes was already an author of more than a quarter of a century's
standing, and was looked on by most people as an _amusing_ writer
merely. He protested playfully and pointedly against this, once or
twice; but, as he could not help being witty, whether he would or no,
his audience laughed and took the protest as part of the joke. He felt
that he was worth a great deal more than he was vulgarly rated at, and
perhaps chafed a little; but his opportunity had not come. With the
first number of the "Atlantic" it came at last, and wonderfully he
profited by it. The public were first delighted, and then astonished. So
much wit, wisdom, pathos, and universal Catharine-wheeling of fun and
fancy was unexampled. "Why, good gracious," cried Madam Grundy, "we've
got a _genius_ among us fit last! I always knew what it would come to!"
"Got a fiddlestick!" says Mr. G.; "it's only rockets." And there was no
little watching and waiting for the sticks to come down. We are afraid
that many a respectable skeptic has a crick in his neck by this time;
for we are of opinion that these are a new kind of rocket, that go
without sticks, and _stay up_ against all laws of gravity.

We expected a great deal from Dr. Holmes; we thought he had in him the
makings of the best magazinist in the country; but we honestly confess
we were astonished. We remembered the proverb, "'Tis the pace that
kills," and could scarce believe that such a two-forty gait could be
kept up through a twelvemonth. Such wind and bottom were unprecedented.
But this was Eclipse himself; and he came in as fresh as a May morning,
ready at a month's end for another year's run. And it was not merely
the perennial vivacity, the fun shading down to seriousness, and the
seriousness up to fun, in perpetual and charming vicissitude;--here was
the man of culture, of scientific training, the man who had thought as
well as felt, and who had fixed purposes and sacred convictions. No, the
Eclipse-comparison is too trifling. This was a stout ship under press
of canvas; and however the phosphorescent star-foam of wit and fancy,
crowding up under her bows or gliding away in subdued flashes of
sentiment in her wake, may draw the eye, yet she has an errand of duty;
she carries a precious freight, she steers by the stars, and all her
seemingly wanton zigzags bring her nearer to port.

When children have made up their minds to like some friend of the
family, they commonly besiege him for a story. The same demand is made
by the public of authors, and accordingly it was made of Dr. Holmes. The
odds were heavy against him; but here again he triumphed. Like a good
Bostonian, he took for his heroine a _schoolma'am_, the Puritan Pallas
Athene of the American Athens, and made her so lovely that everybody was
looking about for a schoolmistress to despair after. Generally, the best
work in imaginative literature is done before forty; but Dr. Holmes
should seem not to have found out what a Mariposa grant Nature had made
him till after fifty.

There is no need of our analyzing "Elsie Venner," for all our readers
know it as well as we do. But we cannot help saying that Dr. Holmes has
struck a new vein of New-England romance. The story is really a romance,
and the character of the heroine has in it an element of mystery; yet
the materials are gathered from every-day New-England life, and that
weird borderland between science and speculation where psychology and
physiology exercise mixed jurisdiction, and which rims New England as
it does all other lands. The character of Elsie is exceptional, but not
purely ideal, like Cristabel and Lamia. In Doctor Kittredge and his
"hired man," and in the Principal of the "Apollinean Institoot," Dr.
Holmes has shown his ability to draw those typical characters that
represent the higher and lower grades of average human nature; and in
calling his work a Romance he quietly justifies himself for mingling
other elements in the composition of Elsie and her cousin. Apart from
the merit of the book as a story, it is full of wit, and of sound
thought sometimes hiding behind a mask of humor. Admirably conceived are
the two clergymen, gradually changing sides almost without knowing it,
and having that persuasion of consistency which men always feel, because
they must always bring their creed into some sort of agreement with
their dispositions.

There is something melancholy in the fact, that, the moment Dr. Holmes
showed that he felt a deep interest in the great questions which concern
this world and the next, and proved not only that he believed in
something, but thought his belief worth standing up for, the cry of
_Infidel_ should have been raised against him by people who believe in
nothing but an authorized version of Truth, they themselves being the
censors. For our own part, we do not like the smell of Smithfield,
whether it be Catholic or Protestant that is burning there; though,
fortunately, one can afford to smile at the Inquisition, so long as its
Acts of Faith are confined to the corners of sectarian newspapers.
But Dr. Holmes can well afford to possess his soul in patience. The
Unitarian John Milton has won and kept quite a respectable place in
literature, though he was once forced to say, bitterly, that "new
Presbyter was only old Priest writ large." One can say nowadays, _E pur
si muove_, with more comfort than Galileo could; the world does move
forward, and we see no great chance for any ingenious fellow-citizen to
make his fortune by a "Yankee Heretic-Baker," as there might have been
two centuries ago.

Dr. Holmes has proved his title to be a wit in the earlier and higher
sense of the word, when it meant a man of genius, a player upon thoughts
rather than words. The variety, freshness, and strength which he has
lent to our pages during the last three years seem to demand of us that
we should add our expression of admiration to that which his countrymen
have been so eager and unanimous in rendering.




RECENT AMERICAN PUBLICATIONS

RECEIVED BY THE EDITORS OF THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY.


History of the United Netherlands: from the Death of William the Silent
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By John Lothrop Motley, LL.D. New York. Harper & Brothers. 2 vols. 8vo.
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History of Latin Christianity, including that of the Popes to the
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Chambers's Encyclopaedia: A Dictionary of Universal Knowledge for the
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The Historical Magazine, and Notes and Queries concerning the
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Notes on Screw-Propulsion; Its Rise and Progress. By W.M. Walker. New
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The Great Preparation; or Redemption Draweth Nigh. By Rev. John Cumming,
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A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language, for the Use of Schools.
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Fast-Day Sermons; or the Pulpit on the State of the Country. New York.
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Abridgment of the Debates of Congress, from 1789 to 1856. By the Author
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Flirtation, and What Comes of It. A Comedy, in Five Acts. By Frank B.
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Euripides ex Recensione Frederici A. Paley. Accessit Verborum et Nominum
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