It will be seen that Mr. Jefferson's political system was that which, in the language of the modern schools, is called individual theory. It has been said, that it is based upon too favorable an estimate of human character, and that he obtained it from the French philosophers.
It seems to us that the reproach of Utopian opinions may more justly be thrown upon his opponents. The latter do not escape the evil from which they fly. They proceed upon the belief that man is unfit for self-government; but since every government is one of men, if he cannot control himself, how shall he rule over others? Whatever may be said about the superiority of men of genius, it is certain that there never has existed an intellect capable of providing for all the minute and varying necessities of each individual among many millions. The history of legislation shows that the best-disciplined minds find it difficult to devise a single statute affecting a single interest which will be precise in its terms and equal in its operation. These railers at the majority of their kind seem to expect in the minority a greater than human perfection. Mr. Jefferson proceeded upon a mere moderate estimate of the abilities, and a more just appreciation of the weakness of men. It is because we are easily led astray and blinded by passion, that he thought us unfit to govern others, and that we should limit our efforts to self-government. His confidence in man was no greater than that which is the foundation of Christianity. The whole Christian scheme is one of the broadest democracy. The most important truths are there submitted to the general judgment and conscience of mankind, with no other recommendation than their value and the force of the evidence by which they are attested. Can it be said that we are not fit to decide upon a tax, yet are fit to decide our fate for all the mysterious future? If Jefferson was an enthusiast, every clergyman who calls his bearers to repentance must be mad. He did have confidence in his fellows,—he did believe that we are not helpless slaves of sin, that the evils which afflict us are not inevitable,—and that we have power to lead lives of justice and virtue. Who will accuse him because of this confidence?
The charge of French principles originated in a political contest. It was true in the narrow application which it had at first, but false in that which was afterwards given to it. There is a marked distinction between him and the politicians of France. Rousseau, perhaps the ablest, certainly the most popular, of those who preceded the Revolution, is an example. The Contrat Social constantly carries the idea, that the government is the seat of all power and the source of all national action. No suggestion is made, that there are individual functions with which the state cannot interfere to advantage. The same opinions prevailed among the Encyclopedists and Economists, they were announced by the Gironde and the Mountain, and practically carried out by Robespierre and Barras. The Girondists made cautious approaches towards federalism, but one looks in vain through the speeches of Vergniaud for an intimation of individualism. The modern doctrinaires have retained the same principles. Legitimists, Imperialists, Republicans, Socialists, and Communists are all in favor of a centralized and unlimited government. The last two classes wish to exercise the governing power upon the minutest details of life,—to establish public baths, shops, theatres, dwellings, to control the amusements and direct the occupations of the citizen, and to divide his social status by law. Comte himself, whose general system might be expected to lead him to a different conclusion, outdoes them all, and proposes to prescribe creeds, establish fasts, feasts, and forms of worship, and even to name those who shall receive divine honors. There is no trace here of that scrupulous regard for personal independence and that invincible distrust of governmental action which characterized Jefferson. It is true, he and the Gallic writers agreed upon certain fundamental propositions; but they were peculiar neither to him nor them. Some of the same principles were announced by Locke and Beccaria, by Hobbes, who maintained the omnipotence of the state, and by Grotius, who insisted upon the divine right of kings. To agree with another upon certain matters does not make one his disciple. No one mistakes the doctrines of Paul for those of Mohammed, because both taught the immortality of the soul. To confound Jefferson with Rousseau or Condorcet is about as reasonable as to confound Luther with Loyola, or Ricardo with Jeremy Bentham.
Although we deny that Jefferson was indebted to France for his political system, it cannot be claimed that he was the author of it. He himself used to assert, that the scheme of a limited and decentralized government was produced by the events which caused the settlement of the country and the subsequent union of the colonies. The emigration to America was stimulated by the great Protestant and Catholic dispute which occupied Europe nearly two centuries, and during which time the original thirteen colonies were founded. The sentiment of religious freedom was the active principle of all the alliances, wars, intrigues, and adventures of that stormy period. The rights of conscience were maintained, in defiance of the rack and the stake. They were stubbornly asserted in regard to the smallest matters. Lines of separation, so fine as hardly to be perceptible, were defended to the last. The Catholic was not more irreconcilably opposed to the Protestant, than the Lutheran to the Quaker, or the Puritan to the Baptist. Men who differed merely about the meaning of a single passage of Scripture thought each other unfit to sit at the same table. The immigrants were exiles. By the conditions under which they acted, as being from the defeated party, and as being among those whom defeat did not subdue, they must have had the enthusiasm of their time in its most earnest form. Each man came here intent upon his right to worship God in his own way. That he could never forget. It had been impressed upon him by everything which can affect the understanding or touch the heart of man,—by the memory of success and defeat,—by his own sufferings and the martyrdom of his brethren,—by Bunyan's fable and by Milton's song.
But they did not lack bigotry. They were as ready to persecute those who differed with them here as they had been at home. The last and greatest social truth, that the surest way of protecting our own liberties is by respecting those of others, was forced upon the colonists. So general had been the stimulants to emigration, that every European sect and party was represented in America. Hither came Calvinists and Lutherans, Cavaliers and Roundheads, Conformists and Non-Conformists, the precise Quaker and the elegant Huguenot, those who fled from the tyranny of Louis and those who fled from the tyranny of Charles, worshippers of the Virgin and men who believed that to kneel before a crucifix was as idolatrous as to kneel before the seven-headed idols of Hindostan. These sects and parties were so equally balanced that toleration became a necessity. Seeing that they could not oppress, men were led to think oppression wrong, and toleration was exalted to a virtue. The theocratic spirit which prevailed at first passed away, and the great principle was established that governments have nothing to do with religion. It does not require much penetration to discover that a government which has unlimited power over the person and property of the citizen will not long respect the scruples of his conscience. Religious liberty gave birth to political freedom. The separation of the settlements from each other, even in the same establishment, made local provisions necessary for defence, and for the transaction of local business, and led to the division of the government.
When united action was necessary, the colonies did not attempt to reconcile their differences; they made a union for those purposes which were common to all. The general principles which were asserted during the Revolution were logical necessities of that event. It was a rebellion against an unjust exercise of power. Why unjust? For no other reason than because the Americans had an equal right with Englishmen to govern themselves. But that right must be one which was common to all men. The rebels knew this. They did not follow Burke through his labored argument to prove that the measures of the British ministry were inexpedient. They could not defend their conduct before the world upon the narrow ground of a violation of the relations between a dependency and its mother country. Those relations were not understood, and such a defence would not have been listened to. They appealed at once to the laws of God, and for their justification addressed those universal human instincts which give us our ideas of national and individual freedom. The declaration that men are created equal excited no surprise then. They believed it without a thought that it had entered the mind of a fantastic recluse in the retirement of l'Hermitage, and, in obedience to that belief, they severed the ties of tradition and kindred, exposed their homes and the lives of those whose lives were dearer to them than their own to the rage of civil war, and placed all they hoped for and everything they loved upon the perilous hazard of the sword.
At such a time Jefferson was led to the pursuit of politics. He was not in the situation of one who, in disgust at the misery which surrounds him, retires to his study, and, from the impulses of a kind heart, the dreams of poets, and the speculations of philosophers, fashions a society in which there is neither envy, anger, ambition, nor avarice, but where, amid Arcadian joys, all men live in peace and happiness. He was compelled to think because he had need to act, —to make real laws for real societies. To do this, he did not meditate upon human frailty and perfectibility; he did not attempt to frame institutions carefully graduated to suit the dissimilar dispositions, faculties, and desires of men. In the spirit with which he had observed the phenomena of Nature in order to discover the laws which produced them, he inspected the social phenomena of his country to learn the laws by which it might be governed. He studied the processes by which a few hamlets, hastily built upon a savage shore, had grown into powerful communities,—by which the heirs to centuries of bitter recollections had been made to forget the jealousies of race, the enmities of party, the bad hatred of sect, and united into one brotherhood for the accomplishment of a common and noble purpose. He took man as he found him, and believed he could govern himself because he had done so. He endeavored to give symmetry to the system which was already established. It is not strange that in this way he arrived at rules of policy, and assisted to put in operation a government, more perfectly adapted to our wants, more nicely adjusted to our strength and our weakness, giving freer opportunity to individual effort, and more firmly establishing national prosperity, better able to resist sedition or foreign assault, than any which painful toil has created, or the imaginations of the benevolent conceived, from the days of Plato to those of Fourier.
In our next number we shall allude to certain questions, raised by Mr. Randall's book, connected with the early politics of the country; and we shall likewise undertake the more pleasing task of describing the domestic life and the character of Jefferson.
* * * * *
A PRISONER OF WAR.
Ruegen is a small island, and its chief town is named Ruegen also. They are both part of Prussia, as they were in 1807, when Prussia and France were at war. At that time Herr Grosshet was burgomaster, and a very important burgomaster, it should be understood,—taking in proof thereof Herr Grosshet's own opinion on the subject. According to the same high authority the burgomaster was also wondrously sharp; and the consequence of the burgomaster's sharpness was, that an amount of smuggling went on in the town which was simply audacious. None knew better than the burgomaster that the smuggling was audacious; scarcely a shopkeeper he knew, but laughed to his nose; but his dignity was so great, and he had made the central authority believe so strongly in him, that he could not lay a complaint; and the consequence of that was, that, though the townspeople laughed at their mayor, they would not have parted with him on any account. Not a soul in the town but knew of the smuggling, —not a soul who, publicly, was in the least aware of that illegality.
Bertha, as she was commonly called, did not positively belong to the town, but she had lived in it for sixteen years,—at the beginning of which time a very great commotion was created by her discovery, at the age of three, sitting staring on the sea-beach.
She was adopted by the town generally; for there were kind hearts in it,—as most towns have, for that matter; but she was specially adopted by Frau Klass, who took her home and straightway reared her, under the name of Bertha,—for the reason that she had once had a daughter with that name. The new Bertha in time met with a proposal from a flaxen-haired young sailor named Daniel, who left Ruegen the next day with a considerably lightened heart. When the foundling had reached nineteen, three things had happened:—Dan had been away three years, and the town had given him up forever; Bertha's mother was no more; and Bertha rather found it her duty to submit to be married to the most odious of his sex, Jodoque by name,—a man who was detested by no one more heartily than by Bertha herself.
I say Bertha found it her duty to be married, and thus:—Frau Klass called Jodoque her nephew, and tried to justify a testament in Bertha's favor by suggesting to her the compensation to her nephew of marrying him. Thus Frau Klass tried to follow both her inclination and her duty, and died serenely at a great age,—assuring Bertha with her last breath that Daniel must be dead, and that Jodoque was an admirable youth, when known, and not at all poor.
So Bertha came into possession of a little farm and a little house. She tried to reconcile duty with inclination by suggesting to Jodoque the propriety of waiting; and he had waited, till he began to question the probability of his ever entering upon the tenancy of his late aunt's farm.
But Bertha at last yielded a consent; and the entire town, ever bearing in mind its universal parentage of Bertha, determined to go to great lengths of rejoicing on the wedding-day; and the burgomaster, a fool and a good man, was certainly not indifferent.
I have said France and Prussia were at war at this time; and, indeed, there were a score of young French prisoners at the fort,—or rather, nineteen, for one got away the very day before that mentioned as Bertha's wedding-day. Two hours after his escape he was kissing the hand of Bertha herself, who had promised him her protection, and hidden him in Frau Klass's own dark room.
Bertha had served the young Frenchman—who shall be called Max—with his breakfast, and was sitting in her porch, wondering about a good many things, when Herr Jodoque arrived. She was thinking how she should get the prisoner away,—what would be said of her, if found out,—how decidedly odious Jodoque was,—how handsome the Frenchman was,—and how she thought he was better-looking even than Daniel, the sailor who had been away three years.
So Herr Jodoque came up to the door of the little cottage, bringing with him a basket. Jodoque believed in the burgomaster as a grand man, and though nobody knew better than Jodoque that he was not very clever, he rather tried in manner to imitate the important mayor.
It is, and was, the custom in Ruegen for the bridegroom to make a present, in a fancy basket, to the bride; and that the town might not talk, Jodoque brought his bride a basket, though it was not particularly large, nor was it particularly heavy.
Here is an inventory of its contents, which, with itself, Jodoque laid down with considerable effect:—Imprimis,—one piece of cloth, on the use of which Jodoque gave an essay. Item,—three cards of knitting-wool, for mittens. Item and finis,—one white rabbit, the skin of which, Jodoque suggested, would make him a cap.
"Good!" said Bertha;—"Jodoque," she added.
"You know Madame Kurrig's?"
"At the very other end of the town?"
"Go there, angel?—why?"
"The silver teapot"—
"My sil—my aunt's silver teapot?"
"Just so,—Madame Kurrig"—
"Has got it?—I go!—My aunt's silver teapot!"
He ran down the little road towards the silver teapot,—for, indeed, Madame Kurrig did not bear a superior character,—but he had not proceeded far when he came upon the burgomaster, who was in great tribulation. Only nineteen prisoners were at the fort, and the governor had sent down a rather imperative message to the mayor, who, replying that his loyal town could not conceal a fugitive, met with such an answer as he had never received before in all his life. It is a deplorable fact that he and the town were recommended to go to a place, a visit to which the burgomaster at least hoped he should not be compelled to make.
The burgomaster was in the habit of asking people's opinions and never listening to their answers, and he now asked Jodoque what he was to do. Jodoque suggesting that the mayor could not want advice, the mayor admitted there was something in that,—but still a word was a word. Things, in fact, were in a pretty state, for the burgomaster, now he had to do with the escape of a French prisoner. And this was the case. The French were off the town, and at that time the French had the luck to be generally sure in the matter of victory. Now if the French took the town, and learned that the burgomaster had taken a Frenchman, (for the burgomaster felt sure he could recover the runaway, if he chose,) the burgomaster would perform that pas seul upon the ambient air which is far from a pleasant feat; while if the French did not take the town, and it was brought home to him that he had neglected the duties of his office, he would lose the position of burgomaster and be a degraded man.
Jodoque sadly wanted to reach Madame Kurrig's, but the burgomaster sadly wanted help,—though he would not confess it openly;—so he hooked himself on to Jodoque and uttered this sentence,—"And this detested smuggler, too!"—The effect of which was, that Jodoque became utterly pale and trembled violently. This behavior the burgomaster attributed to his own proper presence, and asked himself, —Could he survive degradation? No, better the tight-rope performance! So he made up his mind to recapture the missing Frenchman.
He, meantime, being a blithe, courageous young midshipman, was gayly chattering with his protectress. There he was laughing at her good-naturedly as she trembled for his sake, and chattering broken German as best he could. Wealth is a good thing, and health a better; but surely high spirited hope is worth more than the philosopher's stone.
"No, Mademoiselle,—I could bear the dark room no longer. Better an hour in the light of your blue eyes than an age in that dark room!"
"Still—nevertheless—it is dangerous to leave the room. The burgomaster"—
"Cannot see all the way here from the town; besides, if he could, your presence would dazzle him, and I should be safe."
"So you can trust your secret with me,—a woman?"
"I would trust it with two women,—three,—for with every disclosure there would be a fear the less that I should be found. You cannot comprehend that,—now consider."
"La! I cannot."
"How good you are! How would they punish you, if they learned the truth?"
"Oh, a good heart—I do think I have a good heart—don't weigh this way and that when there is a good action to be done."
"And done for the sake of a poor stranger."
"Stranger? Nonsense! I meet you,—you are in misfortune; therefore we are old friends. And an old friend may surely lend a room to her old friend."
"And your name?"
"They call me Bertha."
"And you are single?"
"If you ask me that question an hour hence, I shall say, 'No.'"
"No!—the only harsh word you have used."
"Well, shut up in a dark room, you have your thoughts to yourself; and you think, and think, and think again; and you always think of the same thing; and then—then you wake up, and there's an end to your dream."
"And how do you know I have not dreamt?—The clothes I got for you fit you well; you look a German. Ah, you make a grimace!"
"So, you are going to be married."
"In one hour—less five minutes."
"Ah! which way am I to go?"
"Straight back into the house."
"Nonsense!—I should compromise you."
"The house is mine; surely I may do as I like with it."
"And when may I reach the coast?"
"When the night reaches us."
"Well,—yes,—good-bye, I suppose,—and—and promise me one thing?"
"I do promise."
"Don't look at him."
"My husband—who is coming."
"He is so handsome?"
"Oh, magnificent! Good-bye! good-bye!"
Here he ran back into the dark room, while Bertha, who was a spoilt child, if the truth may be told, pulled moodily at one of the two long, black plaits of hair she wore. And it must be set down, sad as it is, that, seeing Jodoque coming up the road to claim her, accompanied by a sailorly-looking personage, she went in and shut the door with a deal of vigor.
The sailorly-looking personage was young, broad-chested, handsome, and had not been in that part of Prussia for some six years. Jodoque, prompted to sudden hospitality, had offered the sailorly personage a seat at his marriage dinner-table, and he, with a great laugh, accepted the invitation. He strolled leisurely on by the side of the bridegroom, until he heard the bride's name, when behold the effect produced! For he started back, and at first showed signs of choking his informant. However, after an awkward stare, he moved on again.
They soon came up to the door, and Jodoque was wondering why his bride did not open it wide to him, when a bright, stout little woman, dressed out in her best, came tripping through the garden-gate, through which the two had just passed. This little woman's name was Doome;—nobody knew why she was called Doome, but everybody called her Doome, all over the little town.
"Good morning, gentlemen! God preserve you, Jodoque! Good morning, Bertha!"—for here the door opened.
As she opened and appeared at the door, the sailor looked hard at her; but she did not start as she returned his look. He thought all women were alike and forgot; but if this broad-chested sailor could have seen his own blue jacket of six years before, perhaps it would have been a good argument to induce him to pardon Bertha's forgetfulness.
"Good day, Miss!" said he, and brushed his cap from his head.
The same explanation touching the sailor's presence was then given to Bertha that I have given to you,—given as the whole party were welcomed into the plain little house by its very far from plain mistress.
"Do you remember faces, Mistress?" said the sailor to Doome.
"Yes, friend sailor."
"Do you remember them for six years?"
"La! no woman can remember for six years," said Doome.
"I think you could, Mistress," said the sailor.
And thereupon the stout little Doome blushed and curtsied.
Meanwhile the bride was thinking of the young Frenchman, and how she could keep her secret, with half the town at the house and about it, as there would be in another half-hour. She thought more of the young stranger every moment, and especially when she gazed upon her future,—which seemed to grow more disagreeable each time she looked at it.
The young sailor, keeping his eyes away from Bertha,—who set to work drawing a huge mug of beer, in which piece of hospitality Jodoque hoveringly helped her,—and addressing himself to Doome, said,— "Do you know, I was nearly snapped up by a shark some months ago?"
With a sympathetic shudder the little woman replied, "The shark was doubly cruel—who could—who could take out of the world so—so fine a young man!"
"Ah! I wish he had!"
"Wish he had?"
"Yes,—his teeth wouldn't have been half so sharp as the teeth biting away at my heart now!"
"Have you ever had a lover?"
Here the little woman laughed outright. A lover! She could have honestly answered, "Yes," if the handsome sailor had asked her if she had had several score. A lover, indeed!
"Ah! well, suppose you only had one, when you were a poor girl, and he left you, what then?"
"Oh, I'd kill him first, and cry myself dead afterwards."
"Well, my sweetheart has gone from me."
"What! what!—given you up for any one?"
"Yes, and—and—I don't think he's my master,—unless it's in dollars."
"Ah!—And who saved you from the shark?"
"A young French officer,—bless him! He harpooned my sealy friend, and found a friend for life,—though it a'n't much a poor sailor-fellow can do for an officer. And, though we're at war with the French, I'd be hanged sooner than fire at his ship."
Here Bertha, assisted by Jodoque, set the big jug down upon the table with a bang. And here, too, something fell down in a neighboring room,—precisely as though a person, journeying in a dark chamber, had upset a heavy wooden chair. The noise sent Doome right into the sailor's arms, and also sent Jodoque right behind Bertha, who turned pale.
"There's some one in the room," said Jodoque.
"No, no!" said Bertha—"'tis poor aunt's room; no one goes there. It's only the rats,—that's all,—only the rats."
For a stranger, the sailor showed a great deal of curiosity; for he turned very red, and said, "Suppose you look and see."
"Oh, no, no! Never mind. 'Tis only rats. No one ever goes into that room. My dear, dear guardian died in that room."
"Yes, Mistress," said the sailor, "but rats don't throw down chairs and tables."
"No, surely no!" said Jodoque.
"And if the house were mine," said the sailor, suiting the action to the word, "why, I'd go up to the door like this,—and I'd put my hand on the latch, and click it should go,—and—"
Bertha ran up to the door too, laid her hand upon the sailor's arm, and drew him away, as he quite willingly let her. Indeed, he trembled and looked pleadingly at her, as she touched him; and he murmured to himself, "Six years make a good deal of change."
"You, a guest, have no right to touch that door."
"If I were your husband, I should have."
"Surely,—but you are not."
"Yes, but this honest man here is as good as your husband."
"No?" said the other three; and Jodoque, but for presence of mind, might have overthrown the big jug of beer.
"No,—for, truly, I'm not going to marry Jodoque."
"Not going to marry me?"
"Not going to marry him?—Why, as sure as you call me Doome, there are the townsfolk, and the musicians, and the good father, and the burgomaster, all with their faces already turned this way, I would wager these new ribbons of mine!"
"Let them all come!"
"To send them back again?"
"No, to witness my marriage."
"And who's the bridegroom?"
"Somebody all of you have forgotten."
"No," said Doome, "I never forget a soul."
"Do you remember the poor sailor-boy Daniel?"
"I never saw him," said Doome. "No, friend sailor, you need not squeeze my hand,—I never did see him."
"Well, he has grown a man, and has come home."
"Then," said Jodoque, "I suppose I may go home."
"Come home?—where is he?—Still, my sailor friend, I can't tell why you should tremble."
"Yes, he has come home; and if he will have me, I will marry him."
"And he'll have a good wife, Bertha," said the sailor, and he made a movement as though about to run to the girl; but little Doome, too impulsive to think about the Fraeulein Grundei, enthusiastically clasped the arms of her friend's eulogizer.
"Yes,—marry him!—and at this moment he is in that room! And now any one of you may open the door."
"Open the door?—I'll smash the door!" said the sailor, roughly pushing the girl away from him. "So, Daniel is there, is he? Well, let him come!"
He ran up to the door, threw it open, and there, standing just within, was the young French prisoner of war.
"Good morning, all!" he said.
"You are Daniel, are you?" said the sailor, drawing the other forward to the light. "You are Daniel, are you?"
He dragged him near the window and looked quickly at him. Then he turned pale himself, and wrung his hand.
"Yes!" said he, "yes!—it is Daniel himself,—the very Daniel!"
"Ah! so much the better!" said Doome.
"Daniel? the very Daniel?" said Bertha, faintly, and turned paler yet.
"I know you, comrade," said the sailor, aside,—"I know you. You are the French officer who has escaped, but I'm down in your log for a lump of gratitude; and so, you are Daniel. When a fellow saves you from a shark, perhaps you'll be as willing to give him your name."
"And why am I to take your name?"
"To give it to Bertha, there!"
"Give it to Bertha?"
"Yes! Sign the contract, which the burgomaster has in his pocket; sign it as Daniel;—'tis your only chance. And when you are gone, I have paid my debt. And don't let us cross each other again. You gave me my life, but that is no reason you should rob me of my wife!"
"Rob you of your wife?"
"Yes, of Bertha, who loved me six years ago!"
"Why, she has barely known me six hours!"
"True, but she loves you six times as much as she does the memory of Daniel!"
"But I do not care for her, beyond gratitude for sheltering me from pursuit."
"Oh, she has enough love for two of you!"
"Well, to me, one wife or another,—and she is a nice girl,—and, friend Daniel, where shall we go?"
"My wife and I," said the other, laughing
"You, comrade? I will manage for you; but your wife will stop here."
"Why, you don't suppose I can give up the good girl I have loved for the six years I've been rolling over the seas! 'Tis true, she doesn't remember me, and thinks me dead; but when she learns the truth, all the old love will come back; and she will like me none the less for aiding you. The burgomaster, who shall be in the plot, shall marry you to my wife,—and when you are gone, God speed you! The burgomaster will set all that right, as he can; and Bertha and I will often talk, in our seaside cot, of the French officer that we saved."
Here Doome interrupted the dialogue; for she could not conquer her curiosity farther. So she came up, and complimented the French officer (who was to be called Daniel) on his marriage. "To be sure, he had almost forgotten German; for, as Bertha said, he had left home almost before he could speak like a man, and had been in the French service,—and so there it was! No doubt, now he had come back to Germany, he would soon learn German again, and speak it like a native;—eh, friend sailor?" "What, little one? I didn't hear you."
The "little one," not dissatisfied at that term, flounced round, and then gave a little scream,—for all the neighbors, with the burgomaster at their head, were approaching the little house. When they arrived, and the change of husbands was announced, not a neighbor but framed a little mental history,—and, indeed, Jodoque cut rather a ridiculous figure. As for the burgomaster,—who knew the real Daniel, having discoursed with him about the French fleet riding off the island, that very morning,—his dignity prevented him from suddenly spoiling matters. Before he could sufficiently recover himself from the blow which his dignity had received, Daniel came up to him and said these two words,—"Your neck!"
"What do you mean, young man?"
"Suppose the French took Ruegen?"
"Well, suppose they did?"
"And suppose you had caused the recapture of a French officer?"
"I haven't the least idea that I have caused a recapture; but suppose so?"
"Well, and if he was hung, and if the French took the place, you'd be hung too."
"What do you mean, young man?"
"That man over there is the French officer who has escaped."
"Good gracious me!"
"Yes, and you must suppose him to be me. Marry him to Bertha, and help him to escape to the French fleet."
"No!—on the faith of a burgomaster, no!—on the word of a German, no!"
"But your neck?"
"I don't care. The French may not take the place."
"And the French may. Who'll be the wiser, burgomaster?"
"My conscience, young sailor."
"And you'll save a man."
"Oh, dear! dear! dear!"
"Here! the best table for the burgomaster! The handsomest chair for the burgomaster! Make a good pen for the burgomaster!"
"Oh, dear! dear! dear!"
The burgomaster then, in the homely German fashion, asked the usual questions, filled up the marriage-contract, and then handed the pen to the bride. She trembled rather as she put her name to the paper, but not so much as the young sailor.
As for the Frenchman, he hesitated before he put his name down,—and when he had done so, he flung the pen away, as though he had done wrong. One hour after that, these two young people were married in the village church.
The little village festivities which followed need not be dwelt upon; but imagine the summer-evening come, and Daniel and the French officer stealing down to the rocky beach. The young sailor showed a deal of doubtful feeling as he saw the tearful energy with which little Bertha parted with her make-believe husband; and when little Doome, who had been let into all the secrets, except the one that Daniel kept to himself—namely, that he was Daniel,—when little Doome crept up to condole with him on the hard case of the newly-married pair, it must be said that he pushed her away quite roughly.
Soon the two men reached the shore. Daniel instinctively went to a little cove where he knew of old a boat would be,—and as darkness came on, the plashing of a couple of oars sounded near the little cove where the boat had been.
"Mind, comrade, I have paid my debt! You may be taken, and you run your chance; though if you get to your ship, you know, one gun, as you promised your wife, fired eastward."
"All right, Daniel. You will like me as well as ever, Daniel, in a few days."
"No, comrade, there's a woman between us."
So the French officer went on his venturesome pull of a couple of miles to the French fleet, and the sailor returned to the little cottage, where were sitting Bertha and Doome. The latter, for his cleverness and perhaps good looks, had begun to consider the sailor as worth far more than those sixty youths who had caused her to laugh when he referred to only one of them. But it is a deplorable fact, that, while Doome welcomed Daniel back with a great deal of heartiness, Fraeulein Bertha rather looked upon him as cruel; for what need was there that her husband should have gone? He could have hidden till the French took the place, and then he would have been free. For love conflicts with patriotism woefully, and, though nobody could be more grateful than Bertha for the good service Daniel had done her, yet somehow she could not be over-pleased with him. She thanked him, however, very warmly; but it was Doome who set the chair for him, and Doome who got the beer for him, and Doome who proposed the sailor's solace of a pipe. As the pipe was lit by that young woman, Bertha got up to leave the room.
"Where are you going, Bertha?"
"Into the garden. My head aches."
And she went out.
"I think, Doome,—they call you Doome, don't they? and a tidy name, too,—I think, Doome, Bertha doesn't like pipes."
"I think the smell of a pipe delicious."
"And what do you think of this pipe?"
"Oh! I think it a beautiful pipe!"
"Hum,—so you've lots of lovers?"
"Well,—I have a few."
"Ah!—do they smoke?"
"Yes,—some of them."
"You queer little Doome!—Are any of them rich?"
"Oh, I don't care a bit for money!"
"And what are they?—farmers?"
"I shouldn't like to marry a farmer."
"I suppose Bertha has sat down. I don't hear her step."
"No,—I shouldn't like to marry a farmer,—farmers are such quiet people."
"Don't you marry a sailor!"
"Law, sailor-friend, (I don't know your name,) why?"
"Why? Because, if he went away for six years, you would forget him; and that's what Fritz says."
"No, Mr. Fritz, I should not forget him,—but I should not let him go away for six years."
"But suppose the king ordered him?"
"Then the king don't deserve to have a wife."
"And yet he has."
"So much the worse!"
"Bertha must have sat down."
"You know I don't think I care for one of my lovers. I think I could give them all up,—yes, every one,—if I met with anybody that I could love."
"Yes, and then suppose he didn't care for you?"
As Doome had never considered the probability of any such situation, its suggestion rather startled her. She held her tongue, while Daniel puffed gravely.
Soon Bertha came slowly into the room. "I think he ought to have got there by this time; don't you, Sir?"
"He's named Fritz, Bertha,—call him Fritz."
"Don't you think he ought to be there by this time, Mr. Fritz?"
"Surely, Mistress! You will soon hear the cannon;—'tis not more than two miles, and he left the shore a good hour ago."
So she went up to the window.
"I suppose, Mistress, if he did not come back for six years, you would forget him,—wouldn't you?"
She was so lost in thought, that she didn't answer; so Doome took the answer upon herself. "You are very hard upon us women, Fritz,—Mr. Fritz. No, of course she would not forget him; no wife ever forgets her husband. Why, do you think I should forget you, Fritz,—Mr. Fritz,—if you were my husband, and if you went away for six years?"
"There are women and women, Doome, Fraeulein Doome,"—
At this moment the sound of a cannon-shot swept over the little cottage, and Daniel, running to the window, and putting his hand out to feel the breeze, declared that it was fired east-ward.
Now Bertha was at the window, and, as the sailor spoke, he looked into her face. She quickly put her arm round his neck in the German fashion, kissed him gratefully, and said, "You good, good man!"
He kissed her in turn, and looked eagerly at her,—but she didn't recognize him, though he kissed her in precisely the manner of six years ago.
He sat down again, and again smoked,—and as, in the most heroic poem, people eat and drink, and as Anne Boleyn would have thought it hard to starve while her trial was going on, surely, as this is only the chronicle of people such as you may meet any day, and not at all heroic, it may not be wrong to state, that plain-spoken, every-day, love-making little Doome got supper ready.
Bertha had saved a prisoner, Daniel had assisted, and little Doome rather liked Daniel, yet nobody ate much; and when Daniel (at the suggestion of Doome) was furnished with a mattress and blanket on the floor, he did not make use of it, but sat smoking,—smoking for hours after the two women had gone off to Bertha's room.
But when the tobacco-pouch was empty, and the pipe was cold, the sailor fell asleep in his chair; and though he had done a good act the preceding day, he did not sleep well, but sighed heavily as he slumbered on.
And now it was that Jodoque, the Discomfited, again came upon the stage. Having been laughed at by every soul in the village, that poor bachelor went to his lonely house, took a small mug of consolatory weak beer, felt convinced that all women were deceivers, vowed that from that time forth he would think no more of matrimony, and went to bed in the dark,—prompted thereto by the power of economy in candles. He had fallen asleep, and slept soundly, when thrift prompted him to remember that one piece of cloth, several balls of wool, and one white rabbit,—his property,—were at that moment at the deceiver Bertha's. Why should he, the deceived, make the married pair happy, with one piece of cloth, several balls of wool, and a white rabbit? And Jodoque woke up to the terrible truth in a cold sweat. The articles in question were at the deceiver Bertha's. At the first break of day he would go and demand his property. Being unable to sleep through the remainder of the dark hours, he presented but a disreputable appearance when he clapped to the little door of his house.
It was barely light, and it was not an overpowering distance for Jodoque to walk from his house to Bertha's. He knew the household would not be up, but he determined to sit down before it,—besiege it, in fact,—and carry off the cloth, the wool, and the white rabbit, when the enemy should first be moving.
And this is what he saw, as he came up to the cottage:—A young officer in the French uniform was getting in at Bertha's kitchen-window. Jodoque seized the idea, as though it were the white rabbit,—this was the French officer who had escaped yesterday, endeavoring to hide himself in Bertha's house.
Jodoque did not instantly rush forward to re-arrest this prisoner; but it struck him there must be a reward for the recapture; so, determining upon taking the prisoner and the basket at one fell swoop, he tore away to the burgomaster's to inform him of the discovery. He reached the official residence, and drew the pompous little burgomaster to his bedroom-window in a moment. The burgomaster was rather scandalized that such a respectable man as Jodoque should be out at such an hour; but when he heard the information, he grew considerably cold, and rather wished the French fleet would successfully challenge the place at once, and relieve him of his admirable chance of the halter.
Was ever burgomaster in such a fix? He wished his ardent longing for that position had been strangled at his birth. No,—he had saved his neck from the French, he thought to himself, by conniving at the escape of a French officer the day previous, and now his neck was in danger for having very properly tried to save it on that previous day.
But action, action! Whatever came of it, he must appear a patriotic burgomaster; so he took his night-cap off, and, in spite of the energetic remonstrances of the burgomaster's lady, was soon down in the street, surrounded by half a dozen men, and making for Bertha's eventful little mansion—
Within which was passing a terrible scene.
The fact is, that, when the false Daniel arrived at the fleet and reported himself, he found that he had escaped with only part of himself, and rather wanted the rest; and as at that time the French navy was allowed a liberty which it has not now, the young officer laid a statement of the whole case before his commander. That daring personage thus recommended:—A French boat to start away for shore with this young officer, and several more in her; that it should touch near Bertha's house; that Bertha should receive the merest hint, and then take passage for the French fleet herself.
The French officer, attended by half-a-dozen more youths, came back to the shore, and, just as day was peeping, came up to the little right-hand window; and as no one answered his tap, he raised the sash and jumped lightly in.
This Jodoque saw and reported to the burgomaster; but he could not tell the remainder.
For Daniel, waked by the tapping on the window-pane, saw who it was, and believing that he had come to steal his wife from him, he clenched his fists, and, as the slim young man jumped down into the room, crushed him almost dead in his strong arms.
"Not a word, or I'll stifle you!"
"Not a word,—and don't Daniel me, you thief!"
"Don't speak loud."
"You would steal my wife from me."
"How your wife?"
"Why, Bertha;—she promised to marry me six long years ago, and she would have married me, if you had not come and stolen her heart."
"Why, you yourself gave her to me!"
"Ah! I owed you a debt I had to pay. 'Tis paid now. I thought you gone, and the marriage knocked on the head; but now, you've come back, and won't go again!"
"Don't Daniel me, I say, and don't speak loud; at least, she sha'n't see you taken off. Lie quiet for her sake, and show your love for her that way."
"And so you'll give me up, old friend, whose life I saved?"
"Saved!—you saved it once, and I saved yours. You took away my hope when you robbed me of my wife;—now I give you a like return."
"And you yourself, Daniel, who harbored me yesterday"—
"That's nothing to you.—Lie still till some one passes."
For the strong sailor had tipped the officer on to the mattress. There he lay,—not from want of courage, but because he did not know what to do.
The sailor felt for his pipe, but he remembered that all the tobacco was smoked up; so he set the pipe down again and bit his nails.
He had not waited a quarter of an hour when a voice said,—"This way, Herr Burgomaster!—this way!"
The sailor and his prisoner both started to their feet; and the burgomaster, coming to the open window, lost the last faint hopes he had had that this said French officer might not, after all, be the French officer at whose escape he, the respected burgomaster and butcher, had assisted.
"Mr. Burgomaster, here is a French prisoner,—and I hand him to you as the fit personage to place him in the hands of the commander."
Thus spoke Daniel, and, as he spoke, Bertha appeared at the door of her room, and with her Doome, who hearing this little speech, all her liking for the sailor vanished on the instant. She was ready to utterly exterminate him, and more than ready to cry, which she did, straightway.
As this is only a little comedy, and by no means tragical, we pass over the next scene, and simply state, that Bertha, before all those neighbors, forgot everybody but her husband,—if he may be called so, —and the church had said so; that Daniel felt great remorse at what he had done; that he told Doome again that he wished the shark had finished him; that Doome didn't or wouldn't hear, for her idol was broken,—and so was Doome's heart, nearly.
The authorities took away the prisoner, and left Bertha and Doome wretched and alone. As for Daniel, he went out wandering by himself, —for he rather felt ashamed to look upon anybody.
At this time, a little boat with a white flag at its prow put off from the French fleet, and bravely approached the bristling fort of Ruegen. Nearer and nearer it comes,—nearer and nearer; and in half an hour there is great cheering over the island of Ruegen, for peace between Prussia and France is declared.
'Tis true, the peace did not last very long; but it lasted long enough to save the French officer. He was set at liberty at once, and an hour afterwards Daniel could look people in the face again, —all except Doome, who would not cease to be incensed.
"But then," said Daniel, "you know I'd been waiting six years."
"How?" exclaimed Bertha.
"Yes, Bertha,—I'm the real Daniel. Look here!"—and half a little silver cross came forward.
"And you didn't say it when you came!—and you actually gave her to him!—and you saved his life!—and oh! you, you CAPTAIN of a man!"
Thus Doome spoke and was comforted.
And Bertha went up to her old sweetheart and kissed him, saying, she thought she knew of a better wife for him than she could ever have made,—for, now that Ernest (the French officer) had suffered so much for her sake, she had no right to leave him. And, indeed, they were re-married that day.
It was after Bertha had said she knew of a better wife for him, that Daniel looked at Doome, who, picking up that pipe of his, handed it to him.
"Will you take care of it, Doome?"
"Save when you want it."
"Oh! I mean to come with it."
"'Tis the handsomest pipe in all Germany,—and—and I won't part with it till I part with you."
Hence, you see, there were two marriages that morning. Doome parted with the pipe a good deal,—for Daniel loved the sea as heartily as he had loved Bertha and grew to love Doome, who assured him many times that she was a far better wife for him than Bertha would have made. Whereupon Daniel would kiss her,—so you can draw your own conclusion as to his motive. For my part, I say first love is only heart-love,—and you see the heart is not so wise as the head.
By the time the long war was over,—with Waterloo for the last act, —Ernest had made not a little money; so he and Bertha—now a grand lady—came to Ruegen. Ernest learned German, perfectly, from his own children and Doome's, and turned his sword into a ploughshare.
As for Daniel,—he gave up the sea and took a wine-shop.
Those four people are now still alive; and if Bertha and Daniel did not marry, their children have,—though it was rather lowering to those grand young ladies and gentlemen, Bertha's children.
Those four, when they meet and clapper their friendly old tongues, can hardly believe that once upon a time they were all at sixes and sevens,—and that Ernest himself was once in that very place a Prisoner of War.
THE "WASHING OF THE FEET," ON HOLY THURSDAY, IN ST. PETER'S.
Once more the temple-gates lie open wide: Onward, once more, Advance the Faithful, mounting like a tide That climbs the shore.
What seek they? Blank the altars stand today, As tombstones bare: Christ of his raiment was despoiled; and they His livery wear.
Today the puissant and the proud have heard The "mandate new": That which He did, their Master and their Lord, They also do.
Today the mitred foreheads, and the crowned, In meekness bend: New tasks today the sceptred hands have found; The poor they tend.
Today those feet which tread in lowliest ways, Yet follow Christ, Are by the secular lords of power and praise Both washed and kissed.
Hail, ordinance sage of hoar antiquity, Which She retains, That Church who teaches man how meek should be The head that reigns!
[Footnote 1: Mandatum Novum:—hence the name of "Maundy Thursday."]
* * * * *
The Romans had a military machine, called a balista, a sort of vast crossbow, which discharged huge stones. It is said, that, when the first one was exhibited, an athlete exclaimed, "Farewell henceforth to all courage!" Montaigne relates, that the old knights, in his youth, were accustomed to deplore the introduction of fencing-schools, from a similar apprehension. Pacific King James predicted, but with rejoicing, the same result from iron armor. "It was an excellent thing," he said,—"one could get no harm in it, nor do any." And, similarly, there exists an opinion now, that the combined powers of gunpowder and peace are banishing physical courage, and the need of it, from the world.
Peace is good, but this result of it would be sad indeed. Life is sweet, but it would not be sweet enough without the occasional relish of peril and the luxury of daring deeds. Amid the changes of time, the monotony of events, and the injustice of mankind, there is always accessible to the poorest this one draught of enjoyment,—danger. "In boyhood," said the Norwegian enthusiast, Ole Bull, "I loved to be far out on the ocean in my little boat, for it was dangerous, and in danger one draws near to God." Perhaps every man sometimes feels this longing, has his moment of ardor, when he would fain leave politics and personalities, even endearments and successes, behind, and would exchange the best year of his life for one hour at Balaklava with the "Six Hundred." It is the bounding of the Berserker blood in us, —the murmuring echo of the old death-song of Regnar Lodbrog, as he lay amid vipers in his dungeon:—"What is the fate of a brave man, but to fall amid the foremost? He who is never wounded has a weary lot."
This makes the fascination of war, which is in itself, of course, brutal and disgusting. Dr. Johnson says, truly, that the naval and military professions have the dignity of danger, since mankind reverence those who have overcome fear, which is so general a weakness. The error usually lies in exaggerating the difference, in this respect, between war and peace. Madame de Sevigne writes to her cousin, Bussy-Rabutin, after a campaign, "I cannot understand how one can expose himself a thousand times, as you have done, and not be killed a thousand times also." To which the Count answers, that she overrates the danger; a soldier may often make several campaigns without drawing a sword, and be in a battle without seeing an enemy, —as, for example, where one is in the second line, or rear guard, and the first line decides the contest. He finally quotes Turenne, and Maurice, Prince of Orange, to the same effect, that a military life is less perilous than civilians suppose.
It is, therefore, a foolish delusion to suppose, that, as the world grows more pacific, the demand for physical courage passes away. It is only that its applications become nobler. In barbarous ages, men fight against men and animals, and need, like Achilles, to be fed on the marrow of wild beasts. As time elapses, the savage animals are extirpated, the savage men are civilized; but Nature, acting through science, commerce, society, is still creating new exigencies of peril, and evoking new types of courage to meet them. Grace Darling at her oars, Kane in his open boat, Stephenson testing his safety-lamp in the terrible pit,—what were the trophies of Miltiades to these? The ancient Agamemnon faced no danger so memorable as that ocean-storm which beset his modern namesake, bearing across the waters a more priceless treasure than Helen, pride of Greece. And, indeed, setting aside these sublimities of purpose, and looking simply at the quantity and quality of peril, it is doubtful whether any tale of the sea-kings thrills the blood more worthily than the plain newspaper narrative of Captain Thomas Bailey, in the Newburyport schooner, "Atlas," beating out of the Gut of Canso, in a gale of wind, with his crew of two men and a boy, up to their waists in the water.
It is easy to test the matter. Let any one, who believes that the day of daring is past, beg or buy a ride on the locomotive of the earliest express-train, some cold winter-morning. One wave of the conductor's hand, and the live engine springs snorting beneath you, as no Arab steed ever rushed over the desert. It is not like being bound to an arrow, for that motion would be smoother; it is not like being hurled upon an ocean crest, for that would be slower. You are rushing onward, and you are powerless; that is all. The frosty air gives such a brittle and slippery look to the two iron lines which lie between you and destruction, that you appreciate the Mohammedan fable of the Bridge Herat, thinner than a hair, sharper than a scimitar, which stretches over hell and leads to paradise. Nothing has passed over that perilous track for many hours; the cliffs may have fallen and buried it, the frail bridges may have sunk beneath it, or diabolical malice put obstructions on it, no matter how trivial, equally fatal to you; each curving embankment may hide unknown horrors, from which, though all others escape, you, on the engine, cannot; and yet, still the surging locomotive bounds onward, beneath your mad career. You draw a long breath, as you dismount at last, a hundred miles away, as if you had been riding with Mazeppa or Brunechilde, and yet escaped alive. And there, by your side, stands the quiet, grimy engineer, turning already to his tobacco and his newspaper, and unconscious, while he reads of the charge at Balaklava, that his life is Balaklava every day.
Physical courage is not, therefore, a thing to be so easily set aside. Nor is it, as our reformers appear sometimes to assume, a mere corollary from moral courage, and, ultimately, to be merged in that. Moral courage is rare enough, no doubt,—probably the rarer quality of the two, as it is the nobler; but they are things diverse, and not necessarily united. There have been men, and still are such, leaders of their age in moral courage, and yet physically timid. This is not as it should be. God placed man at the head of the visible universe, and if he is to be thrown from his control, daunted by a bullet, or a wild horse, or a flash of lightning, or a lee shore, then man is dishonored, and the order of the universe deranged. No matter what the occasion of the terror is, a mouse or a martyrdom, fear dethrones us. "He that lives in fear of death," said Caesar, "at every moment feels its tortures. I will die but once."
Having claimed thus much, we can still readily admit that we cannot yet estimate the precise effect upon physical courage of a state of permanent national peace, since indeed we are not yet within sight of that desirable consummation. Meanwhile, let us attempt some slight sketch and classification of the different types of physical courage, as already existing, among which are to be enumerated the spontaneous courage of the blood,—the courage of habit,—magnetic or transmitted courage,—and the courage inspired by self-devotion.
There is a certain innate fire of the blood, which does not dare perils for the sake of principle, nor grow indifferent to them from familiarity, nor confront them under support of a stronger will,—but loves them for their own sake, without reference to any ulterior object. There is no special merit in it, for it is a matter of temperament. Yet it often conceals itself under the finer names of self-devotion and high purpose,—as George Borrow convinced himself that he was actuated by evangelical zeal to spread the Bible in Spain, though one sees, through every line of his narrative, that it was chiefly the adventure which allured him, and that he would as willingly have distributed the Koran in London, had it been equally contraband. No surplices, no libraries, no counting-house desks can eradicate this natural instinct. Achilles, disguised among the maidens, was detected by the wily Ulysses, because he chose arms, not jewels, from the travelling merchant's stores. In the most placid life, a man may pant for danger; and we know quiet, unobtrusive men who have confessed to us that they never step into a railroad-car without the secret hope of a collision.
This is the courage of heroic races, as Highlanders, Circassians, Montenegrins, Afghans, and those Arabs among whom Urquhart finely said that peace could not be purchased by victory. Where destined to appear at all, it is likely to be developed in extreme youth, which explains such instances as the gamins de Paris, and that of Sir Cloudesley Shovel, who in boyhood conveyed a dispatch during a naval engagement, swimming through double lines of fire. Indeed, among heroic races, young soldiers are preferable for daring; such, at least, is the testimony of the highest authorities, as Ney and Wellington. "I have found," said the Duke, "that raw troops, however inferior to the old ones in manoeuvring, may be superior to them in downright hard fighting with the enemy. At Waterloo, the young ensigns and lieutenants, who had never before seen an enemy, rushed to meet death, as if they were playing at cricket."
But though youth is good for an onset, it needs habit and discipline to give steadiness. A boy will risk his life where a veteran will be too circumspect to follow him; but to perform a difficult manoeuvre in face of an enemy requires Sicinius with forty-five scars on his breast. "The very apprehension of a wound," said Seneca, "startles a man when he first bears arms; but an old soldier bleeds boldly, for he knows that a man may lose blood and yet win the day." Before the battle of Preston Pans, Mr. Ker of Graden, "an experienced officer," mounted on a gray pony, coolly reconnoitred all the difficult ground between the two armies, crossed it in several directions, deliberately alighted more than once to lead his horse through gaps made for that purpose in the stone walls,—under a constant shower of musket-balls. He finally returned unhurt to Charles Edward, and dissuaded him from crossing. Undoubtedly, any raw Highlander in the army would have incurred the same risk, with or without a sufficient object; but not one of them would have brought back so clear a report, —if, indeed, he had brought himself back.
The most common evidence of this dependence of many persons' courage on habit is in the comparative timidity of brave men against novel dangers,—as of sailors on horseback, and mountaineers at sea. Nay, the same effect is sometimes produced merely by different forms of danger within the same sphere. Sea-captains often attach an exaggerated sense of peril to small boats; Conde confessed himself a coward in a street-fight; and William the Conqueror is said to have trembled exceedingly (rehementer tremens) during the disturbance which interrupted his coronation. It was probably from the same cause, that Mrs. Inchbald, the most fearless of actresses, was once entirely overcome by timidity on assuming a character in a masquerade.
On a larger scale, the mere want of habitual exposure to danger will often cause a whole population to be charged with greater cowardice than really belongs to them. Thus, after the coronation of the Chevalier, in the Scottish insurrection of 1745, although the populace of Edinburgh crowded around him, kissing his very garments when he walked abroad, yet scarcely a man could be enlisted, in view of the certainty of an approaching battle with General Cope. And before this, when the Highlanders were marching on the city, out of a volunteer corps of four hundred raised to meet them, all but forty-five deserted before the gate was passed. Yet there is no reason to doubt that these frightened citizens, after having once stood fire, might have been as brave as the average. It was a saying in Kansas, that the New England men needed to be shot at once or twice, after which they became the bravest of the brave.
This habitual courage mingles itself, doubtless, with the third species, the magnetic, or transmitted. No mental philosopher has yet done justice to the wondrous power of leadership, the "art Napoleon." The ancients stated it best in their proverb, that an army of stags led by a lion is more formidable than an army of lions led by a stag. It was for this reason that the Greeks used to send to Sparta, not for soldiers, but for a general. When Crillon, l'homme sans peur, defended Quilleboeuf with a handful of men against Marshal Villars, the latter represented to him, that it was madness to resist such superiority of numbers, to which the answer was simply,—"Crillon est dedans, et Villars est dehors." The event proved that the hero inside was stronger than the army outside.
Every one knows that there is a certain magnetic power in courage, apart from all physical strength. In a family of lone women, there is usually some one whose presence is held to confer safety on the house; she may be a delicate invalid, but she is not afraid. The same quality explains the difference in the demeanor of different companies of men and women, in great emergencies of danger. Read one narrative of shipwreck, and human nature seems all sublime; read another, and, under circumstances equally desperate, it appears base, selfish, grovelling. The difference lies simply in the influence of a few leading spirits. Ordinarily, as is the captain, so are the officers, so are the passengers, so are the sailors. Bonaparte said, that at the beginning of almost every battle there was a moment when the bravest troops were liable to sudden panic; let the personal control of the general once lead them past that, and the field was half won.
The courage of self-devotion, lastly, is the faculty evoked by special exigencies, in persons who have before given no peculiar evidence of courage. It belongs especially to the race of martyrs and enthusiasts, whose personal terrors vanish in the greatness of the object, so that Joan of Arc, listening to the songs of the angels, does not feel the flames. This, indeed, is the accustomed form in which woman's courage proclaims itself at last, unsuspected until the crisis comes. This has given us the deeds of Flora Macdonald, Jane Lane, and the Countess of Derby; the rescue of Lord Nithisdale by his wife, and that planned for Montrose by Lady Margaret Durham; the heroism of Catherine Douglas, thrusting her arm within the stanchions of the doorway to protect James I. of Scotland, till his murderers shattered the frail barrier; and that sublimest narrative of woman's devotion, Gertrude Van der Wart at her husband's execution. It is possible that all these women may have been timid and shrinking, before the hour of trial; and every emergency, in peace or war, brings out some such instances. At the close of the troubles of 1856, in Kansas, a traveller chanced to be visiting a lady in Lawrence, who, in opening her work-basket, accidentally let fall a small pistol. She smiled and blushed, and presently acknowledged, that, when she had first pulled the trigger experimentally, six months before, she had shut her eyes and screamed, although there was only a percussion-cap to explode. Yet it afterwards appeared that she was one of the few women who remained in their houses, to protect them by their presence, when the town was entered by the Missourians,—and also one of the still smaller number who brought their rifles to aid their husbands in the redoubt, when two hundred were all that could be rallied against three thousand, in September of that eventful year. Thus easily is the transition effected!
This is the courage, also, of Africans, as manifested among ourselves, —the courage created by desperate emergencies. Suppled by long slavery, softened by mixture of blood, the black man seems to pass at one bound, as women do, from cowering pusillanimity to the topmost height of daring. The giddy laugh vanishes, the idle chatter is hushed, and the buffoon becomes a hero. Nothing in history surpasses the bravery of the Maroons of Surinam, as described by Stedman, or of those of Jamaica, as delineated by Dallas. Agents of the "Underground Railroad" report that the incidents which daily come to their knowledge are beyond all Greek, all Roman fame. These men and women, who have tested their courage in the lonely swamp against the alligator and the bloodhound, who have starved on prairies, hidden in holds, clung to locomotives, ridden hundreds of miles cramped in boxes, head downward, equally near to death if discovered or deserted, —and who have then, after enduring all this, gone voluntarily back to risk it over again, for the sake of wife or child,—what are we pale faces, that we should claim a rival capacity with theirs for heroic deeds? What matter, if none, below the throne of God, can now identify that nameless negro in the Tennessee iron-works, who, during the last insurrection, said "he knew all about the plot, but would die before he would tell? He received seven hundred and fifty lashes and died." Yet where, amid the mausoleums of the world, is there carved an epitaph like that?
The courage of blood, of habit, or of imitation is not necessarily a very exalted thing. But the courage of self-devotion cannot be otherwise than noble, however wasted on fanaticism or delusion. It enters the domain of conscience. Yet, although the sublimest, it is not necessarily the most undaunted form of courage. It is vain to measure merit by martyrdom, without reference to the temperament, the occasion, and the aim. There is no passion in the mind of man so weak, said Lord Bacon, but it mates and masters the fear of death. Sinner, as well as saint, may be guillotined or lynched, and endure it well. A red Indian or a Chinese robber will dare the stake as composedly as an early Christian or an abolitionist. One of the bravest of all death-scenes was the execution of Simon, Lord Lovat, who was unquestionably one of the greatest scoundrels that ever burdened the earth. We must look deeper. The test of a man is not in the amount of his endurance, but in its motive; does he love the right, he may die in glory on a bed of down; is he false and base, these things thrust discord into his hymn of dying anguish, and no crown of thorns can sanctify his drooping head. Physical courage is, after all, but a secondary quality, and needs a sublime motive to make it thoroughly sublime.
Among all these different forms of courage it is almost equally true that it is the hardest of all qualities to predict or identify, in an individual case, before the actual trial. Many a man has been unable to discover, till the critical moment, whether he himself possessed it or not. It is often denied to the healthy and strong, and given to the weak. The pugilist may be a poltroon, and the bookworm a hero. We have seen the most purely ideal philosopher in this country face the black muzzles of a dozen loaded revolvers with his usual serene composure. And on the other hand, we have known a black-bearded backwoodsman, whose mere voice and presence would quell any riot among the lumberers,—yet this man, nicknamed by his employees "the black devil," confessed himself to be in secret the most timid of lambs.
One reason of this difficulty of estimate lies in the fact, that courage and cowardice often complicate themselves with other qualifies, and so show false colors. For instance, the presence or absence of modesty may disguise the genuine character. The unpretending are not always timid, nor always brave. The boaster is not always, but only commonly, a coward. Were it otherwise, how could we explain the existence of courage in Frenchmen or Indians? Barking dogs sometimes bite, as many a small boy, too trustful of the proverb, has found to his cost. "If that be a friend of yours," says Branteme's brave Spanish Cavalier, "pray for his soul, for he has quarrelled with me." Indeed, the Gascons, whose name is identified with boasting, (gasconade,) were always among the bravest races in Europe.
Again, the mere quality of caution is often mistaken for cowardice, while heedlessness passes for daring. A late eminent American sculptor, a man of undoubted courage, is said to have always taken the rear car in a railroad train. Such a spirit of prudence, where well-directed, is to be viewed with respect. We ought not to reverence the blind recklessness which sits on the safety-valve during a steamboat-race, but the cool composure which neither underrates a danger nor shrinks from it. The best encomium is that of Malcolm M'Leod upon Charles Edward:—"He was the most cautious man, not to be a coward, and the bravest man, not to be rash, that I ever saw"; or that of Charles VII. of France upon Pierre d'Aubusson:—"Never did I see united so much fire and so much wisdom."
Still again, men vary as to the form of danger which tests them most severely. The Irish are undoubtedly a brave nation, but their courage is apt to vanish in presence of sickness. They are not, however, alone in this, if we may judge from the newspaper statements, that, after the recent quarantine riots in New York, a small-pox patient lay all day untended in the Park, because no one dared to go near him. It is said of Dr. Johnson, that he was a hero against pain, but a coward against death. Probably the contrary emotion is quite as common. To a believer in immortality, death, even when premature, can scarcely be regarded as an unmitigated evil, but pain enforces its own recognition. We can hardly agree with the frightened recruit in the farce, who thinks "Victory or Death" a forbidding war-cry, but "Victory or Wooden Legs" a more appetizing alternative.
Beside these complications, there are those arising from the share which conscience has in the matter. "Thrice is he armed that hath his quarrel just," and the most resolute courage will sometimes quail in a bad cause, and even die in its armor, like Bois-Guilbert. It was generally admitted, on both sides, in Kansas, that the "Border Ruffians" seldom dared face an equal number; yet nobody asserted that these men were intrinsically deficient in daring; it was only conscience which made cowards of them all.
But it is, after all, the faculty of imagination which, more than all else, confuses the phenomena of courage and cowardice. A very imaginative child is almost sure to be reproached with timidity, while mere stolidity takes rank as courage. The bravest boy may sometimes be most afraid of the dark, or of ghosts, or of the great mysteries of storms and the sea. Even the mighty Charlemagne shuddered when the professed enchanter brought before him the vast forms of Dietrich and his Northern companions, on horseback. We once saw a party of boys tested by an alarm which appealed solely to the imagination. The only one among them who stood the test was the most cowardly of the group, who escaped the contagion through sheer lack of this faculty. Any imaginative person can occasionally test this on himself by sleeping in a large lonely house, or by bathing alone in some solitary place by the great ocean; there comes a thrill which is not born of terror, and the mere presence of a child breaks the spell,—though it would only enhance the actual danger, if danger there were.
This explains the effect of darkness on danger. "Let Ajax perish in the face of day." Who has not shuddered over the description of that Arkansas duel, fought by two naked combatants, with pistol and bowie-knife, in a dark room? One thrills to think of those first few moments of breathless, sightless, hopeless, hushed expectation, —then the confused encounter, the slippery floor, the invisible, ghastly terrors of that horrible chamber. Many a man would shrink from that, who would march coolly up to the cannon's mouth by daylight.
It is probably this mingling of imaginative excitement which makes the approach of peril often more terrible than its actual contact. "A true knight," said Sir Philip Sidney, "is fuller of gay bravery in the midst than at the beginning of danger." The boy Conde was reproached with trembling, in his first campaign. "My body trembles," said the hero, "with the actions my soul meditates." And it is said of Charles V., that he often trembled when arming for battle, but in the conflict was as cool as if it were impossible for an emperor to be killed.
These stray glimpses into the autobiography of heroism are of inestimable value, and they are scanty at best. It is said of Turenne, that he was once asked by M. de Lamoignon, at the dinner-table of the latter, if his courage was never shaken at the commencement of a battle? "Yes," said Turenne, "I sometimes undergo great nervous excitement; but there are in the army a great multitude of subaltern officers and soldiers who experience none whatever." This goes to illustrate the same point.
To give to any form of courage an available or working value, it is essential that it have two qualities, promptness and persistency. What Napoleon called "two-o'clock-in-the-morning courage" is rare. It requires great enthusiasm or great discipline to be proof against a surprise. It is said that Suwarrow, even in peace, always slept fully armed, boots and all. "When I was lazy," he said, "and wanted to enjoy a comfortable sleep, I usually took off one spur." In regard to persistency, history is full of instances of unexpected reverses and eleventh-hour triumphs. The battle of Marengo was considered hopeless, for the first half of the day, and a retreat was generally expected, on the part of the French; when Desaix, consulted by Bonaparte, looked at his watch and said,—"The battle is completely lost, but it is only two o'clock, and we shall have time to gain another." He then made his famous and fatal cavalry-charge, and won the field. It was from a noble appreciation of this quality of persistency, that, when the battle of Cannae was lost, and Hannibal was measuring by bushels the rings of the fallen Roman knights, the Senate of Rome voted thanks to the defeated general, Consul Terentius Varro, for not having despaired of the republic.
Thus armed at all points, incapable of being either surprised or exhausted, courage achieves results which seem miraculous. It is an element of inspiration, something superadded and incalculable, when all the other forces are exhausted. When we consider how really formidable becomes the humblest of quadrupeds, cat or rat, when it grows mad and desperate and throws all personal fear behind, it is clear that there must be a reserved power in human daring which defies computation and equalizes the most fearful odds. Take one man, mad with excitement or intoxication, place him with his back to the wall, a knife in his hand, and the fire of utter frenzy in his eyes,—and who, among the thousand bystanders, dares make the first attempt to disarm him? Desperate courage makes one a majority. Baron Trenck nearly escaped from the fortress of Glatz at noonday, snatching a sword from an officer, passing all the sentinels with a sudden rush, and almost effecting his retreat to the mountains; "which incident will prove," he says, "that adventurous and even rash daring will render the most improbable undertakings successful, and that desperate attempts may often make a general more fortunate and famous than the wisest and best-concerted plans."
It is this miraculous quality which helps to explain the extraordinary victories of history: as where the army of Lucullus at Tigranocerta slew one hundred thousand barbarians with the loss of only a hundred men,—or where Cortes conquered Mexico with six hundred foot and sixteen horse. The astounding narratives in the chivalry romances, where the historian risks his Palmerin or Amadis as readily against twenty giants as one, secure of bringing him safely through,—or the corresponding modern marvels of Alexandre Dumas,—seem scarcely exaggerations of actual events. A Portuguese, at the siege of Goa, inserted a burning match in a cask of gunpowder, then grasped it in his arms, and, crying to his companions, "Stand aside, I bear my own and many men's lives," threw it among the enemy, of whom a hundred were killed by the explosion, the bearer being left unhurt. John Haring, on a Flemish dyke, held a thousand men at bay, saved his army, and finally escaped uninjured. And the motto of Bayard, Vires agrainis unus habet, was given him after singly defending a bridge against two hundred Spaniards. Such men appear to bear charmed lives, and to be identical with the laws of Fate. "What a soldier, what a Roman, was thy father, my young bride! How could they who never saw him have discoursed so rightly upon virtue?"
From popular want of faith in these infinite resources of daring, it is a common thing for persons of eminent courage to be stigmatized as rash. This has been strikingly the case, for instance, in modern times, with the Marquis of Wellesley and Sir Charles Napier. When the Duke of Wellington was in the Peninsula in 1810, the City of London addressed the throne, protesting against the bestowal of "honorable distinctions upon a general who had thus far exhibited, with equal rashness and ostentation, nothing but an useless valor."
But if bravery is liable to exist in excess, on the one side, it is a comfort to think that it is capable of cultivation, where deficient. There may be a few persons born absolutely without the power of courage, as without the susceptibility to music,—but very few; and, no doubt, the elements of daring, like those of musical perception, can be developed in almost all. Once rouse the enthusiasm of the will, and courage can be systematically disciplined. Emerson's maxim gives the best regimen: "Always do what you are afraid to do." If your lot is laid amid scenes of peace, then carry the maxim into the arts of peace. Are you afraid to swim that river? then swim it. Are you afraid to leap that fence? then leap it. Do you shrink from the dizzy height of yonder magnificent pine? then climb it, and "throw down the top," as they do in the forests of Maine. Goethe cured himself of dizziness by ascending the lofty stagings of the Frankfort carpenters. Nothing is insignificant that is great enough to alarm you. If you cannot think of a grizzly bear without a shudder, then it is almost worth your while to travel to the Rocky Mountains in order to encounter the reality. It is said that Van Amburgh attributed all his power over animals to the similar rule given him by his mother in his boyhood: "If anything frightens you, walk up and face it." Applying this maxim boldly, he soon satisfied himself that man possessed a natural power of control over all animals, if he dared to exercise it. He said that every animal divined by unerring instinct the existence of fear in his ruler, and a moment's indecision might cost one's life. On being asked, what he should do, if he found himself in the desert, face to face with a lion, he answered, "If I wished for certain death, I should turn and run away."
Physical courage may be educated; but it must be trained for its own sake. We say again, it must not be left to moral courage to include it, for the two faculties have different elements,—and what God has joined, human inconsistency may put asunder. The disjunction is easy to explain. Many men, when committed on the right side of any question, get credit for a "moral courage," which is, in their case, only an intense egotism, isolating them from all demand for human sympathy. In the best cause, they prefer to belong to a party conveniently small, and, on the slightest indications of popular approbation, begin to suspect themselves of compromise. The abstract martyrdom of unpopularity is therefore clear gain to them; but when it comes to the rack and the thumbscrew, the revolver and the bowie-knife, the same habitual egotism makes them cowards. These men are annoying in themselves, and still worse because they throw discredit on the noble and unselfish reformers with whom they are identified in position. But even among this higher class there are differences of temperament, and it costs one man an effort to face the brute argument of the slung-shot, while another's fortitude is not seriously tested till it comes to facing the newspaper editors.
We have given but a few aspects of a rich and endless theme, and have depicted these more by examples than analysis, mindful of the saying of Sidney, that Alexander received more bravery of mind by the example of Achilles than by hearing the definition of fortitude. If we have seemed to draw illustrations too profusely from the records of battles, it is to be remembered, that, even if war be not the best nurse of heroisms, it is their best historian. The chase, for instance, though perhaps as prolific in deeds of daring as the camp, has found few Cummings and Gerards for annalists, and the more trivial aim of the pursuit diminishes the permanence of its records. The sublime fortitude of hospitals, the bravery shown in infected cities, the fearlessness of firemen and of sailors, these belong to those times of peace which have as yet few historians. But we have sought to exhibit the deep foundations and instincts of courage, and it matters little whence the illustrations come. Doubtless, for every great deed ever narrated, there were a hundred greater ones untold; and the noblest valor of the world may sleep unrecorded, like the heroes before Homer.
But there are things which, once written, the world does not willingly let die; embalmed in enthusiasm, borne down on the unconquerable instincts of childhood, they become imperishable and eternal. We need not travel to visit the graves of the heroes: they are become a part of the common air; their line is gone out to all generations. Shakspeares are but their servants; no change of time or degradation of circumstance can debar us from their lesson. The fascination which every one finds in the simplest narrative of daring is the sufficient testimony to its priceless and permanent worth. Human existence finds its range expanded, when Demosthenes describes Philip of Macedon, his enemy: "I saw this Philip, with whom we disputed for empire. I saw him, though covered with wounds, his eye struck out, his collar-bone broken, maimed in his hands, maimed in his feet, still resolutely rush into the midst of dangers, ready to deliver up to Fortune any part of his body she might require, provided he might live honorably and gloriously with the rest." Would it not be shameful, that war should leave us such memories as these, and peace bequeathe us only money and repose? True, "peace hath her victories, no less renowned than war." No less! but they should be infinitely greater. Esto miles pacificus, "Be the soldier of peace," was the priestly benediction of mediaeval knights; and the aspirations of humaner ages should lead us into heroisms such as Plutarch never portrayed, and even Bayard and Sidney only prophesied, but died without the sight of.
[Footnote 1: It is worth mentioning, that among the deserters was one valorous writing-master, who had previously prepared a breastplate of two quires of his-own foolscap, inscribing thereon, in his best penmanship,—"This is the body of J.M.; pray, give it Christian burial."]
* * * * *
Much have I spoken of the faded leaf; Long have I listened to the wailing wind, And watched it ploughing through the heavy clouds; For autumn charms my melancholy mind.
When autumn comes, the poets sing a dirge: The year must perish; all the flowers are dead; The sheaves are gathered; and the mottled quail Runs in the stubble, but the lark has fled!
Still, autumn ushers in the Christmas cheer, The holly-berries and the ivy-tree: They weave a chaplet for the Old Year's heir; These waiting mourners do not sing for me!
I find sweet peace in depths of autumn woods, Where grow the ragged ferns and roughened moss; The naked, silent trees have taught me this,— The loss of beauty is not always loss!
A VISIT TO THE AUTOCRAT'S LANDLADY.
By the Special Reporter of the "Oceanic Miscellany".
The door was opened by a stout, red-armed lump of a woman, who, in reply to my question, said her name was Bridget, but Biddy they calls her mostly. There was a rickety hat-stand in the entry, upon which, by the side of a schoolboy's cap, there hung a broad-brimmed white hat, somewhat fatigued by use, but looking gentle and kindly, as I have often noticed good old gentlemen's hats do, after they have worn them for a time. The door of the dining-room was standing wide open, and I went in. A long table, covered with an oil-cloth, ran up and down the length of the room, and yellow wooden chairs were ranged about it. She showed me where the Gentleman used to sit, and, at the last part of the time, the Schoolmistress next to him. The chairs were like the rest, but it was odd enough to notice that they stood close together, touching each other, while all the rest were straggling and separate. I observed that peculiar atmospheric flavor which has been described by Mr. Balzac, (the French story-teller who borrows so many things from some of our American loading writers,) under the name of odeur de pension. It is, as one may say, an olfactory perspective of an endless vista of departed breakfasts, dinners, and suppers. It is similar, if not identical, in all temperate climates; a kind of neutral tint, which forms the perpetual background upon which the banquet of today strikes out its keener but more transitory aroma. I don't think it necessary to go into any further particulars, because this atmospheric character has the effect of making the dining-rooms of all boarding-houses seem very much alike; and the accident of a hair-cloth sofa, cold, shiny, slippery, prickly,—or a veneered sideboard, with a scale off here and there, and a knob or two missing,—or a portrait, with one hand half under its coat, the other resting on a pious-looking book, —these accidents, and such as these, make no great difference.
The landlady soon presented herself, and I followed her into the parlor, which was a decent apartment, with a smart centre-table, on which lay an accordion, a recent number of the "Pactolian," a gilt-edged, illustrated book or two, and a copy of the works of that distinguished native author, to whom I feel very spiteful, on account of his having, some years ago, attacked a near friend of mine, and whom, on Christian principles, I do not mention,—though I have noticed, that, where there is an accordion on the table, his books are apt to be lying near it.
The landlady was a "wilted," (not exactly withered,) sad-eyed woman, of the thin-blooded sort, but firm-fibred, and sharpened and made shrewd by her calling, so that the look with which she ran me over, in the light of a possible boarder, was so searching, that I was half put down by it. I informed her of my errand, which was to make some inquiries concerning two former boarders of hers, in whom a portion of the public had expressed some interest, and of whom I should be glad to know certain personal details,—as to their habits, appearance, and so on. Any information she might furnish would be looked upon in the light of a literary contribution to the pages of the "Oceanic Miscellany," and be compensated with the well-known liberality of the publishers of that spirited, enterprising, and very popular periodical.
Up to this point, the landlady's countenance had kept that worried, watchful look, which poor women, who have to fight the world single-handed, sooner or later grow into. But now her features relaxed a little. The blow which had crushed her life had shattered her smile, and, as the web of shivered expression shot off its rays across her features, I fancied that Grief had written her face all over with 'Ws', to mark her as one of his forlorn flock of Widows.
The report here given is partly from the conversation held with the landlady at that time, and partly from written notes which she furnished me; for, finding that she was to be a contributor to the "Oceanic Miscellany," and that in that capacity she would be entitled to the ample compensation offered by the liberal proprietors of that admirably conducted periodical,—which we are pleased to learn has been growing in general favor, and which, the public may be assured, no pains will be spared to render superior in every respect,—I say, finding that she was to be handsomely remunerated, she entered into the subject with great zeal, both verbally and by letter. The reader will see that I sometimes follow her orthography, and sometimes her pronunciation, as I may have taken it from writing or from speech.
THE LANDLADY'S ACCOUNT.
There is two vacant places at my table, which I should be pleased to fill with two gentlemen, or with a gentleman and his wife, or any respectable people, be they merried or single. It is about the gentleman and the lady that used to set in them places, that inquiries is bein' made. Some has wrote, and some has spoke, and a good many folks, that was unbeknown to me, has come in and wanted to see the place where they used to set, and some days it's been nothin' but ring, ring, ring, from mornin' till night.
Folks will be curious about them that has wrote in the papers. There's my daughter couldn't be easy no way till she'd got a profeel of one of them authors, to hang up right over the head of her bed. That's the gentleman that writes stories in the papers, some in the same way this gentleman did, I expect, that inquiries is made about.
I'm a poor woman, that tries to get an honest livin', and works hard enough for it;—lost my husband, and buried five children, and have two livin' ones to support. It's a great loss to me, losin' them two boarders; and if there's anything in them papers he left in that desk that will fetch anything at any of the shops where they buy such things, I'm sure I wish you'd ask the printer to step round here and stop in and see what any of 'em is worth. I'll let you have one or two of 'em, and then you can see whether you don't know anybody that would take the lot. I suppose you'll put what I tell you into shape, for, like as not, I sha'n't write it out nor talk jest as folks that make books do.
This gentleman warn't no great of a gentleman to look at. Being of a very moderate dimension,—five foot five he said, but five foot four more likely, and I've heerd him say he didn't weigh much over a hundred and twenty pound. He was light-complected rather than darksome, and was one of them smooth-faced people that keep their baird and wiskers cut close, jest as if they'd be very troublesome if they let 'em grow,—instead of layin' out their face in grass, as my poor husband that's dead and gone used to say. He was a well-behaved gentleman at table, only talked a good deal, and pretty loud sometimes, and had a way of turnin' up his nose when he didn't like what folks said, that one of my boarders, who is a very smart young man, said he couldn't stand, no how, and used to make faces and poke fun at him whenever he see him do it.
He never said a word aginst any vittles that was set before him, but I mistrusted that he was more partickerlar in his eatin' than he wanted folks to know of, for I've know'd him make believe to eat, and leave the vittles on his plate when he didn't seem to fancy 'em; but he was very careful never to hurt my feelin's, and I don't belief he'd have spoke, if he had found a tadpole in a dish of chowder. But nothin' could hurry him when he was about his vittles. Many's the time I've seen that gentleman keepin' two or three of 'em settin' round the breakfast-table after the rest had swallered their meal, and the things was cleared off, and Bridget was a-waitin' to get the cloth away,—and there that little man would set, with a tumbler of sugar and water,—what he used to call O Sukray, —a-talkin' and a-talkin',—and sometimes he would laugh, and sometimes the tears would come into his eyes,—which was a kind of grayish blue eyes,—and there he'd set and set, and my boy Benjamin Franklin hangin' round and gettin' late for school and wantin' an excuse, and an old gentleman that's one of my boarders a-listenin' as if he wa'n't no older than my Benj. Franklin, and that schoolmistress settin' jest as if she'd been bewitched, and you might stick pins into her without her hollerin'. He was a master hand to talk when he got a-goin'. But he never would have no disputes nor long argerments at my table, and I liked him all the better for that; for I had a boarder once that never let nothin' go by without disputin' of it, till nobody knowed what he believed and what he didn't believe, only they was pretty sure he didn't believe the side he was a-disputin' for, and some of 'em said, that, if you wanted him to go any partickerlar way, you must do with him just as folks do that drive—well, them obstinate creeturs that squeal so,— for I don't like to name such creeturs in connexion with a gentleman that paid his board regular, and was a very smart man, and knowed a great deal, only his knowledge all laid crosswise, as one of 'em used to say, after t'other one had shet him up till his mouth wa'n't of no more use to him than if it had been a hole in the back of his head. This wa'n't no sech gentleman. One of my boarders used to say that he always said exactly what he was a mind to, and stuck his idees out jest like them that sells pears outside their shop-winders, —some is three cents, some is two cents, and some is only one cent, and if you don't like, you needn't buy, but them's the articles and them's the prices, and if you want 'em, take 'em, and if you don't, go about your business, and don't stand mellerin' of 'em with your thumbs all day till you've sp'ilt 'em for other folks.