"His father dead, and in London?" I stammered, completely confounded at this extraordinary news, and fearing lest I had been too stupid in misunderstanding him.
"Yes," he said, "it is too true that his father Vellintoni is dead. I read it in the Diario di Roma."
But better than this was the ingenious argument of a Frate, whom I met on board a steamer in going from Leghorn to Genoa, and who, having pumped out the fact that I was an American, immediately began to "improve" it in a discourse on Columbus. So he informed me that Columbus was an Italian, and that he had discovered America, and was a remarkable man; to all of which I readily assented, as being true, if not new. But now a severe abstract question began to tax my friend's powers. He said, "But how could he ever have imagined that the continent of America was there? That's the question. It is extraordinary indeed!" And so he sat cogitating, and saying, at intervals, "Curioso! Straordinario!" At last "a light broke in upon his brain." Some little bird whispered the secret. His face lightened, and, looking at me, he said, "Perhaps he may have read that it was there in some old book, and so went to see if it were or no." Vainly I endeavored to show him that this view would deprive Columbus of his greatest distinction. He answered invariably, "But without having read it, how could he ever have known it?"—thus putting the earth upon the tortoise and leaving the tortoise to account for his own support.
Imagine that I have told you these stories sitting under the vine and fig-tree of some villetta, while Angiolina has gone to call the padrone, who will only be too glad to see you. But, ecco! at last our padrone comes. No, it is not the padrone, it is the vignarualo, who takes care of his grapes and garden, and who recognizes us as friends of the padrone, and tells us that we are ourselves padroni of the whole place, and offers us all sorts of fruits.
One old custom, which existed in Rome some fifteen years ago, has now passed away with other good old things. It was the celebration of the Fravolata or Strawberry-Feast, when men in gala-dress at the height of the strawberry-season went in procession through the streets, carrying on their heads enormous wooden platters heaped with this delicious fruit, accompanied by girls in costume, who, beating their tamburelli, danced along at their sides and sung the praises of the strawberry. After threading the streets of the city, they passed singing out of the gates, and at different places on the Campagna spent the day in festive sports and had an out-door dinner and dance.
One of these festivals still exists, however, in the picturesque town of Genzano, which lies above the old crater now filled with the still waters of Lake Nemi, and is called the Infiorata di Genzano, "The Flower-Festival of Genzano." It takes place on the eighth day of the Corpus Domini, and receives its name from the popular custom of spreading flowers upon the pavements of the streets so as to represent heraldic devices, figures, arabesques, and all sorts of ornamental designs. The people are all dressed in their effective costumes,—the girls in busti and silken skirts, with all their corals and jewels on, and the men with white stockings on their legs, their velvet jackets dropping over one shoulder, and flowers and rosettes in their conical hats. The town is then very gay, the bells clang, the incense steams from the censer in the church, where the organ peals and mass is said, and a brilliant procession marches over the strewn flower-mosaic, with music and crucifixes and Church-banners. Hundreds of strangers, too, are there to look on; and on the Cesarini Piazza and under the shadow of the long avenues of ilexes that lead to the tower are hundreds of handsome girls, with their snowy tovaglie peaked over their heads. The rub and thrum of tamburelli and the clicking of castanets are heard, too, as twilight comes on, and the salterello is danced by many a group. This is the national Roman dance, and is named from the little jumping step which characterizes it. Any number of couples dance it, though the dance is perfect with two. Some of the movements are very graceful and piquant, and particularly that where one of the dancers kneels and whirls her arms on high, clicking her castanets, while the other circles her round and round, striking his hands together, and approaching nearer and nearer, till he is ready to give her a kiss, which she refuses: of course it is the old story of every national dance,—love and repulse, love and repulse, until the maiden yields. As one couple panting and rosy retires, another fresh one takes its place, while the bystanders play on the accordion the whirling, circling, never-ending tune of the Tarantella, which would "put a spirit of youth in everything."
If you are tired of the festival, roam up a few paces out of the crowd, and you stand upon the brink of Lake Nemi. Over opposite, and crowning the height where the little town of Nemi perches, frowns the old feudal castle of the Colonna, with its tall, round tower, where many a princely family has dwelt and many an unprincely act has been done. There, in turn, have dwelt the Colonna, Borgia, Piccolomini, Cenci, Frangipani, and Braschi, and there the descendants of the last-named family still pass a few weeks in the summer. Below you, silent and silvery, lies the lake itself,—and rising around it, like a green bowl, tower its richly wooded banks, covered with gigantic oaks, ilexes, and chestnuts. This was the ancient grove dedicated to Diana, which extended to L'Ariccia; and here are still to be seen the vestiges of an ancient villa built by Julius Caesar. Here, too, if you trust some of the antiquaries, once stood the temple of Diana Nemorensis, where human sacrifices were offered, and whose chief-priest, called Rex Nemorensis, obtained his office by slaying his predecessor, and reigned over these groves by force of his personal arm. Times have, indeed, changed since the priesthood was thus won and baptized by blood; and as you stand there, and look, on the one side, at the site of this ancient temple, which some of the gigantic chestnut-trees may almost have seen in their youth, and, on the other side, at the campanile of the Catholic church at Genzano, with its flower-strewn pavements, you may have as sharp a contrast between the past and the present as can easily be found.
[Footnote 1: On the Genzano side stands the castellated villa of the Cesarini Sforza, looking peacefully across the lake at the rival tower, which in the old baronial days it used to challenge,—and in its garden-pond you may see stately white swans oaring their way with rosy feet along.]
[Footnote 2: The better opinion of late seems to be that it was on the slopes of the Val d'Ariccia. But "who shall decide, when doctors disagree?"]
ADDRESSED TO ALFRED TENNYSON, P.L., IN RESPONSE TO VERSES OF HIS "ON A LATE EVENT IN ENGLAND."
I heard you In your English home,— I read you by my little brook, Thousands of miles from British foam, Hid in my dear New England nook: But heard you with a sullen look; But read you with a gloomy brow; And thus unto my Muse I spoke:— Who is there to write history now?
Hallam is dead! and Prescott gone! And Irving sleeps at Sunnyside! And now that Lord has wandered on, Whose laurels must with theirs abide: I greatly mourned the man who died First on this dismal roll of death,— And him, of all observers eyed, My townsman here, who spent his breath
In telling of the things of Spain, And doing friendly things to friends, Prescott, well known beyond the main And past the Pillars, to earth's ends: Both had my tears: but England sends Another word across the seas, Might rouse the dying from his bed: Oh, bear it gently, ocean-breeze! That bitter word,—Thy friend is dead!
Macaulay dead, who made to live Past kingdoms, with his vivid brain! Who could such warmth to shadows give, By the mere magic of his pen, That Charles and England rose again! Well sleeps he 'mid the Abbey's dust: And, Laureate! thy funereal verse Shall have such echo as it must From hearts just wrung at Irving's hearse.
These are two names to mark the year As one of memorable woe, Two men to the two nations dear Laid in one fatal winter low! About the streets the mourners go; But I within my chamber rest, Or walk the room with measured tread, Murmuring, with head upon my breast, My God! and is Macaulay dead?
GENERAL MIRANDA'S EXPEDITION.
In November, 1805, a good-looking foreigner, gentlemanlike in dress and in manner, and apparently fifty years of age, arrived in New York from England, and took lodgings at Mrs. Avery's, State Street. He called himself George Martin; but this incognito was intended only for the vulgar. Some of the principal citizens of New York, who recollected his first visit to this country twenty years before, knew him as Don Francisco de Miranda of Caracas, one of the most distinguished adventurers of that revolutionary era,—a favorite of the Empress of Russia, a friend of Mr. Pitt, and second in command under Dumouriez in the Belgian campaign of 1793. To these gentlemen he avowed that for many years he had meditated the independence of the Spanish-American Colonies, and meant to make an attempt to carry out his plans. On Evacuation Day, a New York festival, which is now nearly worn out, they invited him to a Corporation dinner, as a foreign officer of rank, and toasted him, wishing him the same success in South America that we had had here. He then went to Washington, under the name of Molini. There, as everywhere, he was received by the best society as General Miranda. The President and the Secretary of State, Mr. Madison, granted him several private interviews. In January he returned to New York,—and on the 2d of February departed thence mysteriously in the Leander, a ship belonging to Mr. Samuel G. Ogden, merchant.
While the Leander lay at anchor off Staten Island, a gentleman notified the Naval Officer of the Port, that large quantities of arms and ammunition had been taken on board of her in boats, at night. He was informed in return, that the Leander was cleared for Jacquemel, and that no law existed to prevent her from sailing. No other attempt was made to detain her; but a few weeks later, rumors affecting the character of the ship broke out in a more decided form. It was generally believed at the Tontine Coffee-House that the Leander had been fitted out by Miranda to attack the Spanish possessions in the West India Islands or on the Main. And yet the New York journals took no notice of her until the 21st of February, nineteen days after she sailed. In the mean time the Marquis Yrujo, backed by the French Ambassador, had made a formal complaint to Government, and had caused the insertion in the "Philadelphia Gazette" of a series of interrogatories to Mr. Madison, which indirectly accused the Administration of encouraging Miranda's preparations, or at least of conniving at the expedition. This perverse Marquis, who gave Mr. Jefferson a taste of the annoyance which Genet, Adet, and Fauchet had inflicted upon the previous administrations, was clamorous and persisting. The authorities in Washington thought it proper to order the arrest of Mr. Ogden, and of Colonel William Smith, son-in-law of John Adams and Surveyor of the Port of New York, under the Act of 1794. The prisoners were taken before Judge Tallmadge of the United States District Court. They were refused counsel, and were forced by threats of imprisonment to submit to a searching examination. They were then held to bail, both as principals and witnesses, in the sum of twenty thousand dollars. Soon after, the President removed Colonel Smith from his office.
Such a waste of editorial raw-material appears very singular to newspaper-readers of the present day, accustomed as they are to see in print everything that has happened or that might have happened; but we must recollect that our grandfathers found the excitement necessary to civilized man in party politics, national and local. This game they played with a fierce eagerness which is now limited to a small class of inferior men.
To the violence and personal spitefulness of their newspaper articles we have fortunately nothing comparable, even in the speeches of Honorable Members on Helper and John Brown. The "Tu quoque" and the "Vos damnamini" were their favorite logical processes, and "Fool" and "Liar" the simple and conclusive arguments with which they established a principle. Not that these ancients suffered at all from a lack of stirring news. Bonaparte's wonderful campaigns, (Austerlitz had just been heard of in New York,) the outrages on our sailors by English cruisers, our merchantmen plundered by French and Spanish privateers, the irritating behavior of the Dons in Louisiana, kept them abundantly supplied with this staff of mental life. But they did not care much for news in the abstract as news, unless they could work it up into political ammunition and discharge it at each other's heads. We must not forget, too, that newspaper-editing, the "California of the spiritually vagabond," as Carlyle calls it, was a recent discovery, and that the rich mine was but surface-worked. "Our own Reporter" was, like Milton's original lion, only half unearthed; and deep hidden from mortal eyes as yet lay the sensation-items-man, who has made the last-dying-speech-and-confession style of literature the principal element of our daily press.
At last the Federal editors gave tongue. It was high time; the town was in an uproar. They perceived that Miranda might become a useful ally against Mr. T. Jefferson. His expedition came opportunely, as the Mammoth Cheese and Black Sally were beginning to grow stale. Mr. Lang opened the cry in the "New York Gazette" by asserting the complicity of Government, on the authority of a "gentleman of the first respectability,"—meaning Mr. Rufus King.—Cheetham, of the "Citizen," barked back at Lang, a would-be "Solomon," "a foul and abominable slanderer." Mr. King, he could prove, had been examined, and had nothing to reveal.—Tom Paine wrote to the "Citizen" to mention that he had known Miranda in New York in 1783 and in Paris in 1793. Mr. Littlepage of Virginia, Chamberlain to the King of Poland, had then informed him that the Empress Catharine had given Miranda four thousand pounds "as a retaining fee," and that Mr. Pitt had also paid him twelve hundred pounds for his services in the Nootka Sound business.—All the Federal papers charged the Government with connivance. You knew the destination of the Leander; you did not prevent her from sailing; you nourished the offence until it attained maturity, and then, after permitting the principals to go upon this expedition, you seize upon the accessories who remain at home. And in how shameful and illegal a way! You examine them before a single judge, with no counsel to advise them. You force them to criminate themselves, and to sign their confessions, by the threat of imprisonment; and you punish Colonel Smith before you have tried him, by depriving him of his office. Why, such a proceeding is worse than any "Inquisitorial Tribunal" or "Star-Chamber Court."—Nonsense! answered the Democrats. Ogden's and Smith's testimony does not implicate the Government in the least. It only proves that Smith has been the dupe of Miranda. The President knew nothing about the matter. If the object of the Leander's outfit was so generally spoken of, why did it escape the notice of the Marquis Yrujo? Why did he not demand her seizure before she sailed? This charge against the Government is a mere Federal trick. Your friends, the British, are at the bottom of the expedition, and they have artfully employed Rufus King, a Federal chief, to throw the blame upon the Executive of the United States. By ascribing to those who administer the government the atrocities committed by Transatlantic rulers, you aim a deadly blow at the character of our system; and your conduct, base in any view we can take of it, is particularly reprehensible in the delicate state of our relations with Spain.
Mr. Cadwallader Golden, of counsel for the defendants, made a motion before Judge Tallmadge for an order to prevent the District Attorney from using the preliminary evidence taken at the private examinations. "It was a proceeding," he said, "arbitrary and subversive of the first principles of law and liberty,"—"which would have disgraced the reign of Charles and stained the character of Jeffries." The District Attorney was heard in opposition, and was successful.
On the 7th of April, the Grand Jury found a bill against Smith, Ogden, Miranda, and Thomas Lewis, captain of the Leander, for "setting on foot and beginning with force and arms a certain military enterprise or expedition, to be carried on from the United States against the dominions of a foreign prince: to wit, the dominions of the King of Spain; the said King of Spain then and there being at peace with the United States." The Grand Jury, as an evidence of their impartiality, or of the public feeling, also handed the Judge a presentment of himself, which he put into his pocket, censuring his conduct in the private examinations, because "unusual, oppressive, and contrary to law."
The trial was set down for the 14th of July. Messrs. Ogden and Smith did not wait so long for a hearing. They laid their case at once before the public, in two memorials addressed to Congress, complaining bitterly of the prosecution, not to say persecution, instituted against them by the authorities in Washington, and of the cruel and oppressive measures taken by Judge Tallmadge to carry out the mandates of his superiors. If they had done wrong, they urged, it was innocently. A war with Spain was imminent. The critical position of the Louisiana Boundary question, the President's Message of the 6th of December, and the documents accompanying it, left no doubts on that point. Were they not right, then, in supposing, that, under these circumstances, the President would encourage an expedition against the colonies of a hostile power? As evidence of Mr. Jefferson's knowledge of Miranda's schemes, they stated that the General had brought with him from England a letter to "a gentleman of the first consequence in New York," (Mr. King,) which contained a sketch of his project: this letter was forwarded to the Secretary of State and laid before the President by him. Miranda then went to Washington, saw the President and the Secretary, and wrote to the memorialists that he had fully unfolded his plans to both. In the course of a long conversation with Mr. Madison, he asked for pecuniary assistance and for open encouragement, on the ground that individuals might not be willing to join in the enterprise, if Government did not approve it,—particularly as a bill was then before Congress to prohibit the exportation of arms. He also requested leave of absence for Colonel Smith, who wished to accompany him. Mr. Madison answered, that the sentiments of the President could not be doubted, but that the Government of the United States could afford no assistance of any kind. Private individuals were at liberty to act as they pleased, provided they did not violate the laws; and New York merchants would always advance money, if they saw their advantage in it. As to the bill Miranda had spoken of, it was unlikely that it would pass,—and, in fact, it did not. It was impossible, Mr. Madison added, to grant leave of absence to Colonel Smith, although he thought him better fitted for military employment than for the custom-house. He closed the interview by recommending the greatest discretion.
Miranda, continued the memorialists, remained fourteen days in Washington after this conversation, and returned to New York confident of the silent approval of Government. Eleven days before the Leander sailed, he sent a letter to Mr. Madison, inclosing another to Mr. Jefferson, both of which he read to Ogden and to Smith. He assured Mr. Madison that he had conformed in every way to the intentions of Government, and requested him to keep the secret. To Mr. Jefferson he wrote in a strain more fashionable ten years before than then, but well adapted to the sentimentality, both scientific and political, of the "Philosophic President." Here it is:—
"I have the honor to send you, inclosed, the 'Natural and Civil History of Chili,' of which we conversed at Washington,—and in which you will, perhaps, find more than in those which have been before published on the same subject, concerning this beautiful country.
"If ever the happy prediction, which you have pronounced on the future destiny of our dear Columbia, is to be accomplished in our day, may Providence grant that it may be under your auspices, and by the generous efforts of her own children! We shall then, in some sort, behold the revival of that age, the return of which the Roman bard invoked in favor of the human race:—
"'The last great age foretold by sacred rhymes Renews its finished course; Saturnian times Roll round again; and mighty years, begun From this first orb, in radiant circles run.'"
On Miranda's reports, these letters, and the fact that the Leander had not been seized, they rested their case, and prayed for the interference of Congress in their behalf.
Congress unanimously granted the petitioners leave to withdraw. Such evidence as this, not only hearsay, but heard from the party most interested in misrepresenting the Administration, was not entitled to much consideration. It had, moreover, the additional disadvantage of proving nothing against the President and Secretary, even if every word of it were admitted as true.
Public attention was diverted from the Leander, Captain Lewis, to the Leander, Captain Whitby. This English frigate was cruising off Sandy Hook, bringing to inward and outward bound vessels, searching them for articles contraband of war, and helping herself to able-bodied seamen who looked like British subjects. All of which was meekly submitted to in 1806. Mr. Jefferson could not overcome his doubts as to the constitutionality of a fleet, and the Opposition had the twofold pleasure of chuckling over the insults offered by John Bull to a government with French proclivities, and of reproaching the party in power with its supineness and want of spirit.
But the accident of the 25th of April brought the American people to a proper sense of their situation, for the moment. On that day, His British Majesty's ship Leander fired a round-shot into the sloop Richard, bound to New York, and killed the man at the helm, John Pierce. The body was brought to the city and borne through the principal streets, in the midst of universal excitement, anger, and cries for vengeance. Black streamers were displayed from the houses; shops were closed; the newspapers appeared in mourning. A public funeral was attended by the whole population. Captain Whitby was indicted for murder, and took care to keep out of the reach of United States law-officers. This homicide happened just in time for the May election in New York. Both parties attempted to make use of it. The Federalists proclaimed that the blood of Pierce was on the head of Jefferson and his followers. These retorted, that the English pirates were the friends and comrades of the Federalists. Cheetham had seen the first lieutenant of the Leander, disguised, in company with eight or ten of them, some days after the murder!!! And the Democratic Republicans, as was and is still usual, had a majority at the polls.
From time to time short paragraphs appeared in the papers, advertising Miranda's success. "His flag was flying on every fort from Cumana to Laguayra." "The whole of this fine country may be considered as lost to Spain." Then came tidings of sadder complexion. He had been beaten off with the loss of forty men, taken prisoners. The Spaniards had threatened to hang them as pirates, but they would not dare to do it. The British had furnished Miranda with forty Spanish prisoners, as hostages, "to avenge the threatened insult to the feelings of every friend to the rights of self-government in every part of the world." At last, news arrived from the Gulf which left Miranda's failure in his first attempt to land no longer doubtful. This, of course, made the position of Ogden and Smith more dangerous, and their case more difficult to manage.
When the trial of Colonel Smith came on, public interest revived, and became stronger than before. The court-room was crowded by intelligent spectators during the whole course of the proceedings, The case was peculiar, and had almost a dramatic interest. Here was a Government prosecution against a man well known in the community, for an offence new to our courts; and the heads of that Government, Jefferson and Madison, were indirectly on trial at the same time:—"For, if Smith and Ogden are acquitted," said the Federal papers, "then must the whole guilt rest on the Administration." Apart from the political interest of the trial, the eminence of the counsel employed would have commanded an audience anywhere. Never, since New York has had courts of justice, have so many distinguished lawyers adorned and dignified her bar as in the first twenty years of this century. In this case, nearly all of the leaders were retained: Nathan Sandford, District Attorney, and Pierrepoint Edwards, for the prosecution; for the defence, Cadwallader Colden, Josiah Ogden Hoffman, Thomas Addis Emmet, Richard Harrison, and Washington Morton.[*]
[Footnote *: Judge Patterson, of the United States Court, occupied the bench with Judge Tallmadge, until ill-health obliged him to withdraw. He died soon after.]
Mr. Colden handed the Clerk a list of his witnesses, and requested him to call their names. Among them were those of Madison, Dearborn, Gallatin, Granger, and Robert Smith, all members of the Government. He then read the affidavit of service of subpoenas upon them on the 25th of May, and, inasmuch as these gentlemen had not obeyed the subpoena, and as Colonel Smith could not safely proceed to trial without their testimony, he moved that an attachment issue against them.
The District Attorney opposed the motion, on the ground that the testimony of these witnesses could not possibly be of any use to the defendant. None of them were present in New York when the Leander was fitted out. And even if it could be shown by these witnesses that the Administration had approved of this illegal expedition, it would not help the defendant. This is a country governed by laws, and not by arbitrary edicts. If Colonel Smith had violated these laws, he had rendered himself liable to punishment. He could not escape by making the President a particeps criminis. An amusing letter was read from Madison, Dearborn, and Smith, which stated, "that the President, taking into view the state of our public affairs, has specially signified to us that our official duties cannot consistently therewith be at this juncture dispensed with." They suggested that a commission should issue for the purpose of taking their respective testimonies.
Colden insisted that this was an attempt of the Executive to interfere with the Judiciary, which ought not to be tolerated. Counsel in criminal cases had always the right to stand face to face with witnesses. It was outrageous that the President should first approve of the conduct of Colonel Smith, then order a prosecution against him and forbid his witnesses to attend the trial.
The Court refused to grant an attachment. And later in the trial, when the defence offered Rufus King to prove the President's knowledge and approbation of the enterprise, the Court decided against the admission of the evidence.
The history of the expedition in New York, as shown by the testimony, was briefly this:—Colonel Smith introduced Miranda to Ogden; and Ogden agreed to furnish his armed ship Leander, and to load her with the necessary provisions, stores, arms, and ammunition. He estimated his expenditure at seventy thousand dollars. Miranda had brought with him from London a bill of exchange on New York for eight hundred pounds, which had been paid, and had drawn bills on England and on Trinidad for seven thousand pounds, which had not been paid. This was all that Ogden had received. But if the enterprise were successful, he was to be paid two hundred per cent, advance on the ship and cargo. Smith had engaged fifteen or twenty officers, without informing them of the object of the expedition, but expressly stipulating in writing that they would not be employed against England or France, and giving them a general verbal assurance that they would speedily make their fortunes. In this he was sincere, for he took his son from college and sent him with Miranda. Smith had employed John Fink, a Bowery butcher, to engage men who could serve on horseback. Fink enlisted twenty-three at fifteen dollars a month, and fifteen more as a bounty. They were not to be taken out of the territory of the United States. Some of them were told that the President was raising a mounted guard; others, that they were to guard the mail from Washington to New Orleans. One of Fink's papers was shown on the trial, indorsed, "Muster-Roll for the President's Guard." Smith had furnished the bounty-money, but it did not appear that he had authorized these misrepresentations of Fink, who developed a talent in this business which forty years later would have made his fortune as an emigrant-runner. Abundant proofs of the purchase of military clothing, arms, powder, shot, and cannon were produced.
The Counsel for Colonel Smith, unable to get the connivance of the Administration before the Jury in the shape of evidence, coolly assumed it as established, and urged it in defence of their client. They used his memorial to Congress as their brief, enlarged upon the arbitrary conduct of the Judge in the examinations and upon the tyrannical interference of the President with their witnesses. As Mr. Emmet cleverly and classically remarked, quoting from Tacitus's description of the funeral of Junia, "Perhaps their very absence rendered them more decided witnesses in our favor." They also maintained that the Act of 1794, under which the prisoner was indicted, did not prohibit an enterprise of this character. Even if it did, no proof existed that this expedition was organized in New York. On the contrary, it was known that Miranda had gone hence to Jacquemel, and had made his preparations there, in a port out of our jurisdiction.
This point made, they boldly went a step farther, and declared that the United States were actually at war with Spain. The affair of the Kempers, and of Flanagan in Louisiana, the obstruction of the Mobile Kiver, the depredations upon our commerce by Spanish privateers, were sufficient proof of a state of war. We had a right to meet force by force. The President must have been of this opinion, else he could not have violated his trust by authorizing this expedition.
The case for the defence, considered in a logical point of view, was desperate; but no case is desperate before a Jury; and when Mr. Colden, Mr. Hoffman, and Mr. Emmet had each in his own peculiar mode of eloquence appealed to the Jury to protect their client, already punished by removal from his place, without a trial or even a hearing, for an offence committed with, the sanction of his superior officers,—when they compared this State prosecution to the attempts made by despotic European governments to crush innocent men by the machinery of law, and asserted that it was instituted solely to gratify the malice of the King of Spain, a bitter enemy to the United States,—and when they enlarged upon the grandeur of an undertaking to give liberty to the down-trodden victims of Colonial tyranny, comparing Miranda and his friends to our own Revolutionary heroes, there could be but little doubt of the verdict. But there was an uneasy feeling after the District Attorney had closed. He demolished with ease the arguments of the other side, for not one of them had sufficient strength to stand alone. Smith's perpetual excuse, that he had been led astray by the belief of connivance in Washington, was preposterous. If he had been anxious to know the sentiments of Government on the subject, he might at any time within six days have ascertained whether Miranda told him truth or not. He spoke of the cruelty and reckless folly of all such attempts upon a neighboring people; asked the Jury how they would like to see an armed force landed upon our shores to take part with one or the other of the great political parties; and closed with a few strong words, as true at this day as then:—"If you acquit the defendant, you say to the world that the United States have renounced the law of nations,—that they permit their citizens not only to violate their own laws with impunity, but to invade the people of other countries with hostile force in a time of peace, as avarice, ambition, or the thought of plunder may dictate. Such a decision would justify the acts of the pirate on the ocean, and would sink our national character to the barbarism of savage tribes."
The Jury were out two hours, and brought in a verdict of not guilty, which gave great satisfaction to Federal editors. A few days afterward, Mr. Ogden was acquitted.
[Footnote 1: Mr. Jefferson, after the expiration of his second term, wrote to Don Valentino de Fornonda as follows:—
"Your predecessor [Yrujo] wished it to be believed that we were in unjustifiable cooeperation in Miranda's expedition.
"I solemnly and on my personal truth and honor declare to you that this was entirely without foundation, and that there was neither cooeperation nor connivance on our part. He informed us he was about to attempt the liberation of his native country from bondage, and intimated a hope of our aid, or connivance at least. He was at once informed, that, though we had great cause of complaint against Spain, and even of war, yet, whenever we should think proper to act as her enemy, it should be openly and aboveboard, and that our hostility should never be exercised by such petty means. We had no suspicion that he expected to engage men here, but merely to purchase military stores. Against this there was no law, nor, consequently, any authority for us to interpose. On the other hand, we deemed it improper to betray his voluntary communication to the agents of Spain. Although his measures were many days in preparation at New York, we never had the least intimation or suspicion of his engaging men in his enterprise until he was gone; and I presume that the secrecy of his proceedings kept them equally unknown to the Marquis Yrujo and to the Spanish Consul at New York, since neither of them gave us any information of the enlistment of men until it was too late for any measures taken at Washington to prevent their departure."]
This is a brief account of the first filibuster-trial in the United States. Other heroes of this profession, compared with whom Smith and Ogden were spotless, have since come before our courts only to be turned loose upon the world again. No other result is to be anticipated. It is an established principle with our fellow-citizens, that no man is happy, or ought to be, who lives under any other system of government than our own. Let a lawyer pronounce the magic formula, "Liberty to the oppressed," or "Free institutions to the victims of despotism," and, presto!—rascality is metamorphosed into merit. After all, it makes such a difference, when it is only our neighbor's ox that is gored!
Here closed the first act of the expedition. Colonel Smith lost his office, and Mr. Ogden stopped payment. The passengers by the Leander fared worse. There were two hundred men on board: one hundred and twenty belonged to the ship; the others had been engaged by Smith and his agent Fink as officers, dragoons, printers, and armorers. With the exception of two or three, none of them had seen their commander or knew their destination. The officers, all gentlemen "of crooked fortunes," supposed that they were sailing to enlarge the area of freedom somewhere in America; but what particular region of the Spanish dominions was to be subjected to this wholesome treatment they neither knew nor cared, provided they could improve their own financial condition. Both officers and privates were for the most part serviceable, steady men, worthy of a more efficient leader.
On the 12th of February, they were overhauled and searched by H.B.M. ship Cleopatra. Nineteen men with American protections were carried off in the frigate's boat, and twelve native Americans taken out of prizes sent back to replace them. The Leander's papers were examined and pronounced unsatisfactory. Miranda was obliged to go on board the Cleopatra, where he had a long private conversation with the captain. He returned with full liberty to proceed, and with a written pass to prevent detention or search by British cruisers. This adventure was made to give an air of respectability to the enterprise; and Miranda hinted to his suite that the English captain had promised to join him with his frigate. A day or two later, the Leander took other airs upon herself. Meeting a small Spanish schooner, laden with logwood, off the Haytian coast, Lewis fired into her, and ordered the captain on board with his papers, for the mere pleasure of exercising power. The Spaniard, as soon as he got back to his own craft, made the best of his way home and gave the first alarm.
On the 18th of February, they cast anchor at Jacquemel. Lewis went immediately to Port au-Prince, to engage the Emperor, a ship commanded by his brother, to join the expedition. Miranda remained behind to organize his followers. He at last announced to them that he intended to land near Caracas; the whole country would rise at his name; his brave Americans would form the nucleus and the heart of a great army; there was no Spanish force in the province to resist him. In a general order, "Parole, America; Countersign, Liberty," he assigned to his officers their rank in the Columbian army, distributing them into the Engineers, Artillery, Dragoons, Riflemen, and Foot. Another general order, "Parole, Warren; Countersign, Bunker's Hill," fixed the uniforms of the different corps,—to be distinguished by blue, yellow, or green facings. All hands were set to work upon the crowded deck. Printers struck off proclamations and blank commissions in the name of "Don Francisco de Miranda, Commander-in-Chief of the Columbian Army"; carpenters made pike-handles; armorers repaired the arms bought in New York; (they had cost little, and were worth less;) the regimental tailor and his disciples stitched the gay facings upon the new uniforms; files of awkward fellows were put through the manual exercise by an old drill-sergeant; and the young gentlemen officers read diligently in treatises on war, or listened to the discourses of their general upon the noble art. In the midst of this stir of preparation, Lewis returned unsuccessful, without the ship Emperor; but Miranda seemed in no hurry to depart. He continued his lectures and his drilling until the 28th of March. At last he hoisted the new Columbian flag,—a tricolor, blue, yellow, and red,—fired a grand salute, and stood gallantly out of the harbor, where he had wasted six precious weeks.
Captain Lewis had chartered at Port-au-Prince the Bee, a small, unarmed schooner, and had bought the Bacchus, a vessel of the same class, last from Laguayra, whose captain and men disappeared mysteriously after their arrival at Jacquemel. Some of the Leander's hands volunteered for the schooners, to get out of the crowded ship; others were forced on board, to make up a crew. The little fleet steered for Bonair, but, through the ignorance of their pilot, or of their captain, found themselves, after a ten-days' cruise, seventy miles to leeward, off the Gulf of Venezuela. The Leander was a dull sailer; and, with the wind and current against her, it took them four days to beat up to the Island of Aruba, and seven more to reach Bonair. On the evening of the 27th of April, they were lying to off Puerto Cabello, preparing to land, and sure of success, when they made out two Spanish guardacostas close in shore, beating up to windward. Miranda thought them unworthy of attention, and gave the order to stand in. But the pilot mistook the landmarks, owing to the darkness, and missed the point agreed upon for landing. The Bacchus was sent in to reconnoitre and did not return, although signals of recall were repeated throughout the night. About midnight signals were noticed passing between the fort at Puerto Cabello and the guardacostas; Captain Lewis beat to quarters, and kept his men at their guns until morning. At daybreak the Bacchus was seen close in shore, carrying a press of sail and closely pursued by the Spanish vessels. The Leander bore down with a flowing sheet upon the enemy, fired a few ineffective shot, and then, for some reason best known to her captain, or to Miranda, hauled on to the wind, and sailed away, leaving the schooners to take care of themselves. The guardacostas soon took possession of both, and carried their prizes, with sixty prisoners, into Puerto Cabello, before the eyes of their astonished and indignant comrades, who could not understand such a want of courage or conduct on the part of their chief.
[Footnote 1: The unfortunate men taken in the schooners were tried at Puerto Cabello for piracy. Ten officers were hanged, their heads cut off and stuck upon poles, and six of them sent to Caracas, two to Laguayra, and two set up at Puerto Cabello. The other prisoners were sentenced to the chain-gang. The execution took place on the 21st of July, the day before Smith was acquitted in New York.]
After this disaster, the Leander sailed for Bonair for water. Miranda still assumed a confident tone, and called a council of war to deliberate whether they should attempt a landing at Coro. The council decided, that, in view of the loss they had sustained, it would be advisable to make for Trinidad in search of reinforcements. With wind and tide against them, and a slow ship, the voyage was long. They were reduced to their last barrel of bread, when they fell in with the English sloop-of-war Lily, Captain Campbell, who was looking for Miranda, and who sent supplies of all kinds on board. On the 6th of June, they ran into Bridgetown, Barbadoes. Admiral Cochrane, who commanded on that station, gave Miranda every assistance in his power, and offered to put some of his smaller vessels under his orders, upon condition that all goods imported into the new state of Columbia in British bottoms should be assessed ten per cent, lower than the products of any other nation, except the United States. Miranda signed a formal agreement to this effect, and sailed for Trinidad, accompanied by H.B.M. ships Lily and Express, and the Trimmer, a transport schooner. Captain Lewis, whose repeated quarrels with Miranda had affected the discipline of the force, resigned at Barbadoes. He was succeeded by Captain Johnson, a daring fellow, who risked and lost life and property in this expedition.
The Governor of Trinidad, like all the English of the Gulf, was well disposed to aid in an attack on the Spanish Provinces. Eighty volunteers of all nations, most of them worthless fellows and candidates for a commission, joined the fleet at this place. Miranda was once more in high spirits. His army amounted to four hundred men, and he had secured the cooperation of the English. Success seemed certain. He issued a new proclamation to his followers, headed "To Victory and Wealth," and set sail, accompanied by seven small British war-vessels and three transports.
On the 2d of August, the fleet anchored within nine miles of La Vela de Coro. The next day two hundred and ninety men were landed in the boats of the squadron. They were all "Mirandanians," the English furnishing only the means of transportation and the necessary supplies. As the boats approached the shore, they were fired upon from the bushes which lined the beach. The Columbians jumped into the water and charged; the Spaniards retreated to a fort near the shore. This was carried, sword in hand,—the Spaniards leaping from the walls and flying in all directions. Miranda then formed his party, and marched to the town, a quarter of a mile distant, which was evacuated by the Spaniards with such precipitation that they left their cannon loaded. The inhabitants had fled, as well as the military, carrying off all their movable property. The Columbian colors were hoisted, flags of truce sent in all directions, the printed proclamations distributed about the neighboring country; but in vain; nobody appeared.
The same evening the Liberators marched twelve miles in a northwesterly direction to Coro. They arrived an hour before dawn, and found the town silent and deserted. Dividing themselves into two parties, they entered cautiously on opposite sides, for fear of an ambuscade,—but, unfortunately, when the detachments met in the Grand Plaza, they mistook each other, in the dusk of the morning, for the enemy, and fired. Miranda's most efficient officer fell, shot through both thighs. One man was killed, and seven others badly wounded. Not a soul was found in the place, except those who were too old or too ill to move, and the occupants of the prison. The jailer presented himself, surrendered his keys, and informed the General that the Governor had forced the citizens to leave their homes. Miranda remained in the deserted town for five days, endeavoring, by the most alluring proclamations, to bring the inhabitants back. But it was useless. Not a man presented himself. He then lost heart, and, instead of advancing into the country, ordered a retreat to La Vela, and reembarked on the 19th.
Those he left behind in the Leander had been still more unfortunate. Captain Johnson had gone in the boats to a river three or four miles to the eastward, for water, and, while filling his casks, was set upon by a party of Spanish soldiers. He was killed, fighting bravely, with fifteen of his men. The remainder escaped with difficulty.
The discomfited invaders sailed for the Island of Aruba, where their English allies, pretty well satisfied that nothing could be done with this expedition, left them. Miranda landed his men and took formal possession of the island. He sent an ambassador to the Governor of the neighboring island of Curacoa, requesting him to surrender. This request was declined. He was equally unsuccessful in a mission to Jamaica, begging for assistance from Admiral Dacres. Dacres refused, on the ground that he had no orders from his Government.
Miranda remained at Aruba, drilling, issuing proclamations, and holding courts martial, until the want of provisions brought the enterprise to an end. An English ship-of-war, which touched at the island, offered him a safe means of escape. On the 29th of October, after a passage of twenty-five days, the Liberators arrived at Trinidad, and disbanded in disgrace. The blue and yellow uniforms they had worn with pride, as "Columbians," on their last visit, were hastily laid aside to escape the scoff of the rabble, who jeered them as adventurers and merry-andrews. Miranda kept out of sight until he could get the opportunity of a passage to England. All his followers who could find means to quit the island made their way home as best they could. To conclude the business, the Leander was sold by order of the courts, and the few poor fellows who had remained by her received a small share of the proceeds. Nobody else was paid the smallest fraction of the sums the General had so liberally promised.
That a commander, safely landed with three hundred fighting men, in possession of Coro, whose peninsular situation might have afforded him an inexpugnable position, master of the sea, and backed by an English fleet, should have retreated, without effecting anything, from a country ripe for rebellion since the conspiracy of 1797, can be explained only in one way: he must have been ignorant of the real feelings of the people, and totally unfit to lead such an expedition. Miranda had what we may call a pretty talent for war. He had studied the principles of the art, and had seen some service. Excited by the splendid career of Washington, he, like a certain distinguished Frenchman, determined to imitate him and become the liberator of his country. When the Giant at a show bends the iron bar, it seems so easy that every strong man in the crowd thinks he can do as much, until he tries. It needs a Giant of the first class to handle a people in revolution. Miranda was not made of that kind of stuff. He was weak and inefficient, fond of mystery and pomp, easily affected by flattery, loving dearly to hear himself talk, and unable to control his temper. His incessant quarrels with Captain Lewis were one cause of the loss of the schooners off Puerto Cabello. A want of quickness and energy was felt in all his operations. Delays are proverbially dangerous, but in a coup de main fatal. The time wasted by him at Jacquemel and at Aruba was employed by the Spaniards in making preparations for defence. They had few troops, and did not dare to trust the natives with arms, but they succeeded in persuading them that Miranda and his men were pagans and pirates, whose triumph would be ten times more insufferable than the rule of the mother country.
If Miranda was incompetent to carry out a liberating expedition, he had wonderful success in talking it up. For twenty years he had carried this project about with him in America and in Europe. It was elaborated to perfection in every part, and there were answers prepared to every objection. The new government was to be modelled upon the English Constitution,—an hereditary chief, to be called Inca,—a senate, nominated by the chief, composed of nobles, but not hereditary,—and a chamber elected by suffrage, limited by a property qualification. He had collected all the statistics of population and of trade, to show what commercial advantages the world might expect from a free South American government. And, "rising upon a wind of prophecy," he already saw in the future a ship-canal across the Isthmus of Panama, and the Nicaragua route opened. He had laid these plans before Catharine of Russia, who gave him money to help them on. Mr. Pitt listened, promised him assistance in return for commercial privileges, and kept him in pay for years. The French Revolutionists were eager to furnish him with an army and a fleet. Rufus King, American Ambassador at London, sent word of the scheme to Hamilton and Knox, who both approved of it. Miranda seems to have made the same impression upon everybody. His extensive travels and acquaintance with distinguished men, his knowledge of facts, dates, and figures, his retentive and ready memory, his wonderful cleverness in persuading his hearers, are spoken of in the same terms by all. Dr. Rush wrote to a friend, that Miranda had dined with him, and had talked about European politics as if he had been "in the inside of all the kings and princes." He might have been a second Count de St. Germain, if he had lived in the reign of Louis XIV., instead of in an era when men had abandoned the philosopher's stone, and were seeking in politics for a new magnum opus, Constitutions, as the certain means of perfecting the human species.
Everybody was mistaken in him. Although he talked "like an angel," in action he was worthless. If he had never undertaken to carry out his plans, he might have left an excellent reputation, and have remained in South American memory as the possible Father of his Country: Capax imperii, nisi imperasset. A short sketch of his career may be interesting, before we dismiss him again to the oblivion from which we have evoked him for this month.
Miranda entered the Spanish army in America at the age of seventeen, and was advanced to be Colonel, a grade seldom or never before reached by a Creole. He left the service before the close of the Revolutionary War, travelled in the United States, and was admitted to the society of Washington and of the leading men of the day. Here, his attainments, quickness, and insatiable curiosity attracted attention. He knew the topography and strategy of every battle fought during the war better than our officers who had been on the field, and soon made himself familiar with parties, and even with family connections in this country. His constant topic was the independence of South America. After the peace of 1783, Miranda went to England: Colonel Smith was then Secretary of John Adams, the American Minister, and the acquaintance between them began in London, which ended so disastrously twenty years later in New York. Leaving England, he travelled over Europe. At Cherson, he attracted the notice of Prince Potemkin, who presented him to the Empress at Kiew. In 1790, when the dispute about Nootka Sound[*] threatened to produce a war between Great Britain and Spain, he reappeared in London, and proposed to Mr. Pitt his scheme for revolutionizing the American Colonies. Pitt at once engaged his services, but Spain yielded, and the project could not be carried out. Miranda crossed to France, accepted a command in the Republican army, and served, with credit, in the Netherlands, under Dumouriez, until the Battle of Neerwinden. In November, 1792, the French rulers conceived the idea of revolutionizing Spain, both in Europe and in America. Brissot suggested Miranda as the fittest person for this purpose. He was to take twelve thousand troops of the line from St. Domingo, enlist, in addition, ten or fifteen thousand "braves mulatres," and make a descent, with this force, upon the Main. "Le nom de Miranda," wrote Brissot to Dumouriez, "lui vaudra une armee; et ses talens, son courage, son genie, tout nous repond du succes." Monge, Gensonne, Claviere, Petion, were pleased with the plan, but Miranda started difficulties. The French system was too democratic for his taste, and the pressure of affairs in Europe soon turned the attention of Brissot and his friends in another direction.
[Footnote *: In May, 1789, the Spanish sloop-of-war Princesa seized four English vessels engaged in a trade with the natives of Vancouver's Island, and took them into a Mexican port as prizes, on the ground that they had violated the Spanish Colonial laws. The English government denied the claim of Spain to those distant regions, and insisted upon ample satisfaction. The King of Spain was obliged to submit to avoid war, but the question of territory was left open.]
After the disastrous affair of Neerwinden, Miranda was accused of misconduct, arrested, and sent to Paris for trial, but was acquitted by the Tribunal Revolutionnaire, and conducted home in triumph. He was again imprisoned for incivisme, during the Reign of Terror, and did not recover his liberty until the general jail-delivery which followed the death of Robespierre. He was seized for the third time in 1797, by the Directory, as an adherent of the Pichegru faction, and banished from France.
In January, 1798, Mr. Pitt again sent for Miranda, and a new plan was arranged for the emancipation of South America. On this occasion, the cooeperation of the United States was confidently relied upon. Both Pitt and our own rulers foresaw that Spain must inevitably fall a prey to France, and that the whole of her American possessions would probably share her fate. Our relations with France were in so critical a condition, that we were making preparations for defence; and it was, of course, of the highest importance to our safety, that the Floridas and Louisiana should not fall into the hands of a powerful enemy. It was proposed, consequently, to form a commercial and defensive alliance between England, the United States, and South America. We were to get the Floridas and Louisiana to the Mississippi, and in return to furnish a land-force of ten thousand men. Great Britain would provide the fleet, in consideration of certain important advantages in trade. Miranda kept his friends in the United States fully advised of the progress of affairs. Hamilton and Knox were in favor of the project, provided war were declared. Our provisional army might then have played a brilliant part. But there was no war. President Adams refused to listen to Miranda's communications, and patched up our difficulties with France. Nothing was done by the English.
In 1801 Lord Sidmouth revived Miranda's hopes, but the Peace of Amiens put a stop to the preparations. In 1804 Mr. Pitt was again at the head of affairs, and renewed his intercourse with Miranda. Orders were given to prepare ships and to enrol men, when the hopes of the third coalition again suspended the execution of the project.
It was after this last blow from Fortune that Miranda came to New York and fitted out the expedition we have undertaken to describe. His disastrous failure seemed neither to destroy his hopes, nor to shake the confidence of his English friends in his pretensions. When he returned to England from Trinidad, he found ministers prepared to embark with energy in the South American scheme. This time a fleet and an army were really assembled at Cork, and Sir Arthur Wellesley was to command them,—when the Spanish Revolution broke out, altered at once the face of affairs in Europe, and turned Sir Arthur and his army toward Portugal, to begin that brilliant series of campaigns which drove the French out of the Peninsula.
Few men fix their minds pertinaciously upon an object, and adhere to the pursuit through life, without at least a partial attainment of it. Miranda, the victim of so many bitter disappointments, at last found himself for a few months in the position he had so often dreamed of. When the news of the fall of Seville, and of the dispersion of the Junta who governed in the name of Ferdinand VII., reached South America, open rebellion broke out at Caracas. King Joseph Bonaparte had sent over a proclamation, imploring his trusty and well-beloved South Americans to come to his paternal arms,—or, if they would not do that, at least to set up a government for themselves, and not take part with Ferdinand and England. His emissaries were hunted down and hanged, wherever caught. Revolutionary Juntas were established all over the country. On the 19th of April, 1810, the American Confederation of Venezuela, in Congress assembled, undertook to rule in the name of Ferdinand VII., but in reality as an independent government. Miranda was called to the command of the native army. On the 5th of July, 1811, the Congress published their Declaration of Independence, and a Constitution, both of them remarkable state-papers. In point of liberality of sentiment and elegance of style they will bear comparison with our own celebrated documents of '76 and '87. Indeed, in all these Spanish political plays, the plot has been good, the text admirable, but the actors so poor as to spoil the piece. So it fell out in Venezuela. At first the Patriots were successful; Miranda defeated the Royalists and took Valencia. The principal towns fell into the hands of the insurgents. Then, came the terrible earthquake of 1812, which not only shattered the resources of the Patriots, but was skilfully used by the Church as a proof that Providence had taken sides against the rebels. Monteverde, the Spanish general, recaptured Valencia. Congress placed the dictatorship with unlimited power in Miranda's hands, but he was not the man for desperate situations. On the 6th of July, the Royalists took Puerto Cabello; Caracas fell on the 28th; and Miranda, betrayed by his own party into the hands of the Spaniards, was sent a prisoner to Cadiz in October. Simon Bolivar and others, men of different mettle, regained all that had been lost, and cut loose the Colonies from Spain. From California to Cape Horn the inestimable system of self-government was established. According to the theory, the South Americans should have been prosperous and happy; but, unfortunately, the result has been murder, robbery, and general ruin. The burden of taking care of one's self, which the North American had the strength to bear, has crushed the poor half-caste Spaniard. There are persons who assert that a political regimen which agrees so well with us must therefore be good for all others. It may be instructive to such believers in system to compare Humboldt's narrative of the cultivation shown by the great Colonial Universities of Mexico, Quito, and Lima, of the pleasing Creole society that entertained him, and the peaceful quiet and security he noticed throughout country, with the relations of modern travellers or newspaper-correspondents who visit those semi-barbarous regions.
Don Francisco de Miranda did not live to hear of the freedom of his "Columbia." Before the close of the year 1812 he died in prison, at Cadiz. Thus perished the most gentlemanlike of filibusters, since the days when Jason sailed in the Argo to extend the blessing of Greek institutions over Colchis and to appropriate the Golden Fleece.
* * * * *
THE PROFESSOR'S STORY.
THE MORNING AFTER.
Colonel Sprowle's family arose late the next morning. The fatigues and excitements of the evening and the preparation for it were followed by a natural collapse, of which somnolence was a leading symptom. The sun shone into the window at a pretty well opened angle when the Colonel first found himself sufficiently awake to address his yet slumbering spouse.
"Sally!" said the Colonel, in a voice that was a little husky,—for he had finished off the evening with an extra glass or two of "Madary," and had a somewhat rusty and headachy sense of renewed existence, on greeting the rather advanced dawn,—"Sally!"
"Take care o' them custard-cups! There they go!"
Poor Mrs. Sprowle was fighting the party over in her dream; and as the visionary custard-cups crashed down through one lobe of her brain into another, she gave a start as if an inch of lightning from a quart Leyden jar had jumped into one of her knuckles with its sudden and lively poonk!
"Sally!" said the Colonel,—"wake up, wake up! What 'r' y' dreamin' abaout?"
Mrs. Sprowle raised herself, by a sort of spasm, sur son seant, as they say in France,—up on end, as we have it in New England. She looked first to the left, then to the right, then straight before her, apparently without seeing anything, and at last slowly settled down, with her two eyes, blank of any particular meaning, directed upon the Colonel.
"What time is't?" she said.
"Ten o'clock. What 'y' been dreamin' abaout? Y' giv a jump like a hoppergrass. Wake up, wake up! Th' party's over, and y' been asleep all the mornin'. The party's over, I tell ye! Wake up!"
"Over!" said Mrs. Sprowle, who began to define her position at last,—"over! I should think 'twas time 'twas over! It's lasted a hundud year. I've been workin' for that party longer 'n Methuselah's lifetime, sence I been asleep. The pies wouldn' bake, and the blo'monge wouldn' set, and the ice-cream wouldn' freeze, and all the folks kep' comin' 'n' comin' 'n' comin',—everybody I ever knew in all my life,—some of 'em's been dead this twenty year 'n' more,—'n' nothin' for 'em to eat nor drink. The fire wouldn' burn to cook anything, all we could do. We blowed with the belluses, 'n' we stuffed in paper 'n' pitch-pine kindlin's, but nothin' could make that fire burn; 'n' all the time the folks kep' comin', as if they'd never stop,—'n' nothin' for 'em but empty dishes, 'n' all the borrowed chaney slippin' round on the waiters 'n' chippin' 'n' crackin'. I wouldn' go through what I been through t'-night for all th' money in th' Bank,—I do believe it's harder t' have a party than t'"——
Mrs. Sprowle stated the case strongly.
The Colonel said he didn't know how that might be. She was a better judge than he was. It was bother enough, anyhow, and he was glad that it was over. After this, the worthy pair commenced preparations for rejoining the waking world, and in due time proceeded down-stairs.
Everybody was late that morning, and nothing had got put to rights. The house looked as if a small army had been quartered in it over night. The tables were of course in huge disorder, after the protracted assault they had undergone. There had been a great battle evidently, and it had gone against the provisions. Some points had been stormed, and all their defences annihilated, but here and there were centres of resistance which had held out against all attacks,—large rounds of beef, and solid loaves of cake, against which the inexperienced had wasted their energies in the enthusiasm of youth or uninformed maturity, while the longer-headed guests were making discoveries of "shell-oysters" and "patridges" and similar delicacies.
The breakfast was naturally of a somewhat fragmentary character. A chicken that had lost his legs in the service of the preceding campaign was once more put on duty. A great ham stuck with cloves, as Saint Sebastian was with arrows, was again offered for martyrdom. It would have been a pleasant sight for a medical man of a speculative turn to have seen the prospect before the Colonel's family of the next week's breakfasts, dinners, and suppers. The trail that one of these great rural parties leaves after it is one of its most formidable considerations. Every door-handle in the house is suggestive of sweetmeats for the next week, at least. The most unnatural articles of diet displace the frugal but nutritious food of unconvulsed periods of existence. If there is a walking infant about the house, it will certainly have a more or less fatal fit from overmuch of some indigestible delicacy. Before the week is out, everybody will be tired to death of sugary forms of nourishment and long to see the last of the remnants of the festival.
The family had not yet arrived at this condition. On the contrary, the first inspection of the tables suggested the prospect of days of unstinted luxury; and the younger portion of the household, especially, were in a state of great excitement as the account of stock was taken with reference to future internal investments, Some curious facts came to light during these researches.
"Where's all the oranges gone to?" said Mrs. Sprowle. "I expected there'd be ever so many of 'em left. I didn't see many of the folks eatin' oranges. Where's the skins of 'em? There ought to be six dozen orange-skins round on the plates, and there a'n't one dozen. And all the small cakes, too, and all the sugar things that was stuck on the big cakes.—Has anybody counted the spoons? Some of 'em got swallered, perhaps. I hope they was plated ones, if they did!"
The failure of the morning's orange-crop and the deficit in other expected residual delicacies were not very difficult to account for. In many of the two-story Rockland families, and in those favored households of the neighboring villages whose members had been invited to the great party, there was a very general excitement among the younger people on the morning after the great event. "Did y' bring home somethin' from the party? What is it? What is it? Is it frut-cake? Is it nuts and oranges and apples? Give me some! Give me some!" Such a concert of treble voices uttering accents like these had not been heard since the great Temperance Festival with the celebrated "colation" in the open air under the trees of the Parnassian Grove,—as the place was christened by the young ladies of the Institute. The cry of the children was not in vain. From the pockets of demure fathers, from the bags of sharp-eyed spinsters, from the folded handkerchiefs of light-fingered sisters, from the tall hats of sly-winking brothers, there was a resurrection of the missing oranges and cakes and sugar-things in many a rejoicing family-circle, enough to astonish the most hardened "caterer" that ever contracted to feed a thousand people under canvas.
The tender recollection of those dear little ones whom extreme youth or other pressing considerations detain from scenes of festivity—a trait of affection by no means uncommon among our thoughtful people —dignifies those social meetings where it is manifested, and sheds a ray of sunshine on our common nature. It is "an oasis in the desert,"—to use the striking expression of the last year's "Valedictorian" of the Apollinean Institute. In the midst of so much that is purely selfish, it is delightful to meet such disinterested care for others. When a large family of children are expecting a parent's return from an entertainment, it will often require great exertions on his part to provide himself so as to meet their reasonable expectations. A few rules are worth remembering by all who attend anniversary dinners in Faneuil Hall or elsewhere. Thus: Lobsters' claws are always acceptable to children of all ages. Oranges and apples are to be taken one at a time, until the coat-pockets begin to become inconveniently heavy. Cakes are injured by sitting upon them; it is, therefore, well to carry a stout tin box of a size to hold as many pieces as there are children in the domestic circle. A very pleasant amusement, at the close of one of these banquets, is grabbing for the flowers with which the table is embellished. These will please the ladies at home very greatly, and, if the children are at the same time abundantly supplied with fruits, nuts, cakes, and any little ornamental articles of confectionery which are of a nature to be unostentatiously removed, the kind-hearted parent will make a whole household happy, without any additional expense beyond the outlay for his ticket.
There were fragmentary delicacies enough left, of one kind and another, at any rate, to make all the Colonel's family uncomfortable for the next week. It bid fair to take as long to get rid of the remains of the great party as it had taken to make ready for it.
In the mean time Mr. Bernard had been dreaming, as young men dream, of gliding shapes with bright eyes and burning cheeks, strangely blended with red planets and hissing meteors, and, shining over all, the white, unwandering star of the North, girt with its tethered constellations.
After breakfast he walked into the parlor, where he found Miss Darley. She was alone, and, holding a school-book in her hand, was at work with one of the morning's lessons. She hardly noticed him as he entered, being very busy with her book,—and he paused a moment before speaking, and looked at her with a kind of reverence. It would not have been strictly true to call her beautiful. For years,—since her earliest womanhood,—those slender hands had taken the bread which repaid the toil of heart and brain from the coarse palms that offered it in the world's rude market. It was not for herself alone that she had bartered away the life of her youth, that she had breathed the hot air of school-rooms, that she had forced her intelligence to posture before her will, as the exigencies of her place required,—waking to mental labor,—sleeping to dream of problems,—rolling up the stone of education for an endless twelvemonth's term, to find it at the bottom of the hill again when another year called her to its renewed duties,—schooling her temper in unending inward and outward conflicts, until neither dulness nor obstinacy nor ingratitude nor insolence could reach her serene self-possession. Not for herself alone. Poorly as her prodigal labors were repaid in proportion to the waste of life they cost, her value was too well established to leave her without what, under other circumstances, would have been a more than sufficient compensation. But there were others who looked to her in their need, and so the modest fountain which might have been filled to its brim was continually drained through silent-flowing, hidden sluices.
Out of such a life, inherited from a race which had lived in conditions not unlike her own, beauty, in the common sense of the term, could hardly find leisure to develop and shape itself. For it must be remembered, that symmetry and elegance of features and figure, like perfectly formed crystals in the mineral world, are reached only by insuring a certain necessary repose to individuals and to generations. Human beauty is an agricultural product in the country, growing up in men and women as in corn and cattle, where the soil is good. It is a luxury almost monopolized by the rich in cities, bred under glass like their forced pine-apples and peaches. Both in city and country, the evolution of the physical harmonics which make music to our eyes requires a combination of favorable circumstances, of which alternations of unburdened tranquillity with intervals of varied excitement of mind and body are among the most important. Where sufficient excitement is wanting, as often happens in the country, the features, however rich in red and white, get heavy, and the movements sluggish; where excitement is furnished in excess, as is frequently the case in cities, the contours and colors are impoverished, and the nerves begin to make their existence known to the consciousness, as the face very soon informs us.
Helen Darley could not, in the nature of things, have possessed the kind of beauty which pleases the common taste. Her eye was calm, sad-looking, her features very still, except when her pleasant smile changed them for a moment, all her outlines were delicate, her voice was very gentle, but somewhat subdued by years of thoughtful labor, and on her smooth forehead one little hinted line whispered already that Care was beginning to mark the trace which Time sooner or later would make a furrow. She could not be a beauty; if she had been, it would have been much harder for many persons to be interested in her. For, although in the abstract we all love beauty, and although, if we were sent naked souls into some ultramundane warehouse of soul-less bodies and told to select one to our liking, we should each choose a handsome one, and never think of the consequences,—it is quite certain that beauty carries an atmosphere of repulsion as well as of attraction with it, alike in both sexes. We may be well assured that there are many persons who no more think of specializing their love of the other sex upon one endowed with signal beauty, than they think of wanting great diamonds or thousand-dollar horses. No man or woman can appropriate beauty without paying for it,—in endowments, in fortune, in position, in self-surrender, or other valuable stock; and there are a great many who are too poor, too ordinary, too humble, too busy, too proud, to pay any of these prices for it. So the unbeautiful get many more lovers than the beauties; only, as there are more of them, their lovers are spread thinner and do not make so much show.
The young master stood looking at Helen Darley with a kind of tender admiration. She was such a picture of the martyr by the slow social combustive process, that it almost seemed to him he could see a pale lambent aureole round her head.
"I did not see you at the great party last evening," he said, presently.
She looked up and answered, "No. I have not much taste for such large companies. Besides, I do not feel as if my time belonged to me after it has been paid for. There is always something to do, some lesson or exercise,—and it so happened, I was very busy last night with the new problems in geometry. I hope you had a good time."
"Very. Two or three of our girls were there. Rosa Milburn. What a beauty she is! I wonder what she feeds on! Wine and musk and chloroform and coals of fire, I believe; I didn't think there was such color and flavor in a woman outside the tropics."
Miss Darley smiled rather faintly; the imagery was not just to her taste: femineity often finds it very hard to accept the fact of muliebrity.
She stopped short; but her question had asked itself.
"Elsie there? She was, for an hour or so. She looked frightfully handsome. I meant to have spoken to her, but she slipped away before I knew it."
"I thought she meant to go to the party," said Miss Darley. "Did she look at you?"
"She did. Why?"
"And you did not speak to her?"
"No. I should have spoken to her, but she was gone when I looked for her. A strange creature! Isn't there an odd sort of fascination about her? You have not explained all the mystery about the girl. What does she come to this school for? She seems to do pretty much as she likes about studying."
Miss Darley answered in very low tones. "It was a fancy of hers to come, and they let her have her way. I don't know what there is about her, except that she seems to take my life out of me when she looks at me. I don't like to ask other people about our girls. She says very little to anybody, and studies, or makes believe study, almost what she likes. I don't know what she is," (Miss Darley laid her hand, trembling, on the young master's sleeve,) "but I can tell when she is in the room without seeing or hearing her. Oh, Mr. Langdon, I am weak and nervous, and no doubt foolish,—but—if there were women now, as in the days of our Saviour, possessed of devils, I should think there was something not human looking out of Elsie Venner's eyes!"
The poor girl's breast rose and fell tumultuously as she spoke, and her voice labored, as if some obstruction were rising in her throat.
A scene might possibly have come of it, but the door opened. Mr. Silas Peckham. Miss Darley got away as soon as she well could.
"Why did not Miss Darley go to the party last evening?" said Mr. Bernard.
"Well, the fact is," answered Mr. Silas Peckham, "Miss Darley, she's pootty much took up with the school. She's an industris young woman,—yis, she is industris,—but perhaps she a'n't quite so spry a worker as some. Maybe, considerin' she's paid for her time, she isn't fur out o' the way in occoopyin' herself evenin's,—that is, if so be she a'n't smart enough to finish up all her work in the daytime. Edoocation is the great business of the Institoot. Amoosements are objec's of a secondary natur', accordin' to my v'oo." [The unspellable pronunciation of this word is the touchstone of New England Brahminism.]
Mr. Bernard drew a deep breath, his thin nostrils dilating, as if the air did not rush in fast enough to cool his blood, while Silas Peckham was speaking. The Head of the Apollinean Institute delivered himself of these judicious sentiments in that peculiar acid, penetrating tone, wadded with a nasal twang, which not rarely becomes hereditary after three or four generations raised upon east winds, salt fish, and large, white-bellied, pickled cucumbers. He spoke deliberately, as if weighing his words well, so that, during his few remarks, Mr. Bernard had time for a mental accompaniment with variations, accented by certain bodily changes, which escaped Mr. Peckham's observation. First there was a feeling of disgust and shame at hearing Helen Darley spoken of like a dumb working animal. That sent the blood up into his cheeks. Then the slur upon her probable want of force—her incapacity, who made the character of the school and left this man to pocket its profits—sent a thrill of the old Wentworth fire through him, so that his muscles hardened, his hands closed, and he took the measure of Mr. Silas Peckham, to see if his head would strike the wall in case he went over backwards all of a sudden. This would not do, of course, and so the thrill passed off and the muscles softened again. Then came that state of tenderness in the heart, overlying wrath in the stomach, in which the eyes grow moist like a woman's, and there is also a great boiling-up of objectionable terms out of the deep-water vocabulary, so that Prudence and Propriety and all the other pious Ps have to jump upon the lid of speech to keep them from boiling over into fierce articulation. All this was internal, chiefly, and of course not recognized by Mr. Silas Peckham. The idea, that any full-grown, sensible man should have any other notion than that of getting the most work for the least money out of his assistants, had never suggested itself to him.
Mr. Bernard had gone through this paroxysm, and cooled down, in the period while Mr. Peckham was uttering these words in his thin, shallow whine, twanging up into the frontal sinuses. What was the use of losing his temper and throwing away his place, and so, among the consequences which would necessarily follow, leaving the poor lady-teacher without a friend to stand by her ready to lay his hand on the grand-inquisitor before the windlass of his rack had taken one turn too many?
"No doubt, Mr. Peckham," he said, in a grave, calm voice, "there is a great deal of work to be done in the school; but perhaps we can distribute the duties a little more evenly after a time. I shall look over the girls' themes myself, after this week. Perhaps there will be some other parts of her labor that I can take on myself. We can arrange a new programme of studies and recitations."
"We can do that," said Mr. Silas Peckham. "But I don't propose mater'lly alterin' Miss Darley's dooties. I don't think she works to hurt herself. Some of the Trustees have proposed interdoosin' new branches of study, and I expect you will be pootty much occoopied with the dooties that belong to your place. On the Sabbath you will be able to attend divine service three times, which is expected of our teachers. I shall continoo myself to give Sabbath Scriptur'-readin's to the young ladies. That is a solemn dooty I can't make up my mind to commit to other people. My teachers enjoy the Lord's day as a day of rest. In it they do no manner of work,—except in cases of necessity or mercy, such as fillin' out diplomas, or when we git crowded jest at the end of a term, or when there is an extry number of poopils, or other Providential call to dispense with the ordinance."
Mr. Bernard had a fine glow in his cheeks by this time,—doubtless kindled by the thought of the kind consideration Mr. Peckham showed for his subordinates in allowing them the between-meeting-time on Sundays except for some special reason. But the morning was wearing away; so he went to the school-room, taking leave very properly of his respected principal, who soon took his hat and departed.
Mr. Peckham visited certain "stores" or shops, where he made inquiries after various articles in the provision-line, and effected a purchase or two. Two or three barrels of potatoes, which had sprouted in a promising way, he secured at a bargain. A side of feminine beef was also obtained at a low figure. He was entirely satisfied with a couple of barrels of flour, which, being invoiced "slightly damaged", were to be had at a reasonable price.
After this, Silas Peckham felt in good spirits. He had done a pretty stroke of business. It came into his head whether he might not follow it up with a still more brilliant speculation. So he turned his steps in the direction of Colonel Sprowle's.
It was now eleven o'clock, and the battlefield of last evening was as we left it. Mr. Peckham's visit was unexpected, perhaps not very well timed, but the Colonel received him civilly.
"Beautifully lighted,—these rooms last night!" said Mr. Peckham. "Winter-strained?"
The Colonel nodded.
"How much do you pay for your winter-strained?"
The Colonel told him the price.
"Very hahnsome supper,—very hahnsome! Nothin' ever seen like it in Rockland. Must have been a great heap of things left over."
The compliment was not ungrateful, and the Colonel acknowledged it by smiling and saying, "I should think the' was a trifle! Come and look."
When Silas Peckham saw how many delicacies had survived the evening's conflict, his commercial spirit rose at once to the point of a proposal.
"Colonel Sprowle," said he, "there's meat and cakes and pies and pickles enough on that table to spread a hahnsome colation. If you'd like to trade reasonable, I think perhaps I should be willin' to take 'em off your hands. There's been a talk about our havin' a celebration in the Parnassian Grove, and I think I could work in what your folks don't want and make myself whole by chargin' a small sum for tickets. Broken meats, of course, a'n't of the same valoo as fresh provisions; so I think you might be willin' to trade reasonable."
Mr. Peckham paused and rested on his proposal. It would not, perhaps, have been very extraordinary, if Colonel Sprowle had entertained the proposition. There is no telling beforehand how such things will strike people. It didn't happen to strike the Colonel favorably. He had a little red-blooded manhood in him.
"Sell you them things to make a colation out of?" the Colonel replied. "Walk up to that table, Mr. Peckham, and help yourself! Fill your pockets, Mr. Peckham! Fetch a basket, and our hired folks shall fill it full for ye! Send a cart, if y' like, 'n' carry off them leavin's to make a celebration for your pupils with! Only let me tell ye this:—as sure's my name's Hezekiah Spraowle, you'll be known through the taown 'n' through the caounty, from that day forrard, as the Principal of the Broken-Victuals Institoot!"
Even provincial human-nature sometimes has a touch of sublimity about it. Mr. Silas Peckham had gone a little deeper than he meant, and come upon the "hard pan," as the well-diggers call it, of the Colonel's character, before he thought of it. A militia-colonel standing on his sentiments is not to be despised. That was shown pretty well in New England two or three generations ago. There were a good many plain officers that talked about their "rigiment" and their "caounty" who knew very well how to say "Make ready!" "Take aim!" "Fire!"—in the face of a line of grenadiers with bullets in their guns and bayonets on them. And though a rustic uniform is not always unexceptionable in its cut and trimmings, yet there was many an ill-made coat in those old times that was good enough to be shown to the enemy's front rank, too often to be left on the field with a round hole in its left lapel that matched another going right through the brave heart of the plain country captain or major or colonel who was buried in it under the crimson turf.
Mr. Silas Peckham said little or nothing. His sensibilities were not acute, but he perceived that he had made a miscalculation. He hoped that there was no offence,—thought it might have been mutooally agreeable, conclooded he would give up the idee of a colation, and backed himself out as if unwilling to expose the less guarded aspect of his person to the risk of accelerating impulses.
The Colonel shut the door,—cast his eye on the toe of his right boot, as if it had had a strong temptation,—looked at his watch, then round the room, and, going to a cupboard, swallowed a glass of deep-red brandy and water to compose his feelings.
THE DOCTOR ORDERS THE BEST SULKY.
(With a Digression on "Hired Help")
"Abel! Slip Cassia into the new sulky, and fetch her round."
Abel was Dr. Kittredge's hired man. He was born in New Hampshire, a queer sort of a State, with fat streaks of soil and population where they breed giants in mind and body, and lean streaks which export imperfectly nourished young men with promising but neglected appetites, who may be found in great numbers in all the large towns, or could be until of late years, when they have been half driven out of their favorite basement-stories by foreigners, and half coaxed away from them by California. New Hampshire is in more than one sense the Switzerland of New England. The "Granite State" being naturally enough deficient in pudding-stone, its children are apt to wander southward in search of that deposit,—in the unpetrified condition.
Abel Stebbins was a good specimen of that extraordinary hybrid or mule between democracy and chrysocracy, a native-born New-England serving-man. The Old World has nothing at all like him. He is at once an emperor and a subordinate. In one hand he holds one five-millionth part (be the same more or less) of the power that sways the destinies of the Great Republic. His other hand is in your boot, which he is about to polish. It is impossible to turn a fellow-citizen whose vote may make his master—say, rather, employer—Governor or President, or who may be one or both himself, into a flunky. That article must be imported ready-made from other centres of civilization. When a New-Englander has lost his self-respect as a citizen and as a man, he is demoralized, and cannot be trusted with the money to pay for a dinner.
It may be supposed, therefore, that this fractional emperor, this continent-shaper, finds his position awkward when he goes into service, and that his employer is apt to find it still more embarrassing. It is always under protest that the hired man does his duty. Every act of service is subject to the drawback, "I am as good as you are." This is so common, at least, as almost to be the rule, and partly accounts for the rapid disappearance of the indigenous "domestic" from the basements above mentioned. Paleontologists will by-and-by be examining the floors of our kitchens for tracks of the extinct native species of serving-man. The female of the same race is fast dying out; indeed, the time is not far distant when all the varieties of young woman will have vanished from New England, as the dodo has perished in the Mauritius. The young lady is all that we shall have left, and the mop and duster of the last Almira or Loizy will be stared at by generations of Bridgets and Noras as that famous head and foot of the lost bird are stared at in the Ashmolean Museum.
Abel Stebbins, the Doctor's man, took the true American view of his difficult position. He sold his time to the Doctor, and, having sold it, he took care to fulfil his half of the bargain. The Doctor, on his part, treated him, not like a gentleman, because one does not order a gentleman to bring up his horse or run his errands, but he treated him like a man. Every order was given in courteous terms. His reasonable privileges were respected as much as if they had been guarantied under hand and seal. The Doctor lent him books from his own library, and gave him all friendly counsel, as if he were a son or a younger brother.
Abel had Revolutionary blood in his veins, and though he saw fit to "hire out," he could never stand the word "servant," or consider himself the inferior one of the two high contracting parties. When he came to live with the Doctor, he made up his mind he would dismiss the old gentleman, if he did not behave according to his notions of propriety. But he soon found that the Doctor was one of the right sort, and so determined to keep him. The Doctor soon found, on his side, that he had a trustworthy, intelligent fellow, who would be invaluable to him, if he only let him have his own way of doing what was to be done.
The Doctor's hired man had not the manners of a French valet. He was grave and taciturn for the most part, he never bowed and rarely smiled, but was always at work in the daytime and always reading in the evening. He was hostler, and did all the housework that a man could properly do, would go to the door or "tend table," bought the provisions for the family,—in short, did almost everything for them but get their clothing. There was no office in a perfectly appointed household, from that of steward down to that of stable-boy, which he did not cheerfully assume. His round of work not consuming all his energies, he must needs cultivate the Doctor's garden, which he kept in one perpetual bloom, from the blowing of the first crocus to the fading of the last dahlia.
This garden was Abel's poem. Its half-dozen beds were so many cantos. Nature crowded them for him with imagery such as no Laureate could copy in the cold mosaic of language. The rhythm of alternating dawn and sunset, the strophe and antistrophe still perceptible through all the sudden shifts of our dithyrambic seasons and echoed in corresponding floral harmonies, made melody in the soul of Abel, the plain serving- man. It softened his whole otherwise rigid aspect. He worshipped God according to the strict way of his fathers; but a florist's Puritanism is always colored by the petals of his flowers,—and Nature never shows him a black corolla.
Perhaps he may have little or nothing to do in this narrative; but as there must be some who confound the New-England hired man, native-born, with the servant of foreign birth, and as there is the difference of two continents and two civilizations between them, it did not seem fair to let Abel bring round the Doctor's mare and sulky without touching his features in half-shadow into our background.
The Doctor's mare, Cassia, was so called by her master from her cinnamon color, cassia being one of the professional names for that spice or drug. She was of the shade we call sorrel, or, as an Englishman would perhaps say, chestnut,—a genuine "Morgan" mare, with a low forehand, as is common in this breed, but with strong quarters and flat hocks, well ribbed up, with a good eye and a pair of lively ears,—a first-rate doctor's beast,—would stand until her harness dropped off her back at the door of a tedious case, and trot over hill and dale thirty miles in three hours, if there was a child in the next county with a bean in its windpipe and the Doctor gave her a hint of the fact. Cassia was not large, but she had a good deal of action, and was the Doctor's show-horse. There were two other animals in his stable: Quassia or Quashy, the black horse, and Caustic, the old bay, with whom he jogged round the village.
"A long ride to-day?" said Abel, as he brought up the equipage.
"Just out of the village,—that's all.—There's a kink in her mane,—pull it out, will you?"
"Goin' to visit some of the great folks," Abel said to himself. "Wonder who it is."—Then to the Doctor,—"Anybody get sick at Sprowles's? They say Deacon Soper had a fit, after eatin' some o' their frozen victuals."
The Doctor smiled. He guessed the Deacon would do well enough. He was only going to ride over to the Dudley mansion-house.
THE DOCTOR CALLS ON ELSIE VENNER.
If that primitive physician, CHIRON, M.D., appears as a Centaur, as we look at him through the lapse of thirty centuries, the modern country-doctor, if he could be seen about thirty miles off, could not be distinguished from a wheel-animalcule. He inhabits a wheel-carriage. He thinks of stationary dwellings as Long Tom Coffin did of land in general; a house may be well enough for incidental purposes, but for a "stiddy" residence give him a "kerridge." If he is classified in the Linnaean scale, he must be set down thus: Genus Homo; Species Rotifer infusorius,—the wheel-animal of infusions.
The Dudley mansion was not a mile from the Doctor's; but it never occurred to him to think of walking to see any of his patients' families, if he had any professional object in his visit. Whenever the narrow sulky turned in at a gate, the rustic who was digging potatoes, or hoeing corn, or swishing through the grass with his scythe in wave-like crescents, or stepping short behind a loaded wheel-barrow, or trudging lazily by the side of the swinging, loose-throated, short-legged oxen, rocking along the road as if they had just been landed after a three-months' voyage,—the toiling native, whatever he was doing, stopped and looked up at the house the doctor was visiting.