When I went into the room, a tall, spare form arose to meet me. She was evidently a full-blooded African, and though now aged and worn with many hardships, still gave the impression of a physical development which in early youth must have been as fine a specimen of the torrid zone as Cumberworth's celebrated statuette of the Negro Woman at the Fountain. Indeed, she so strongly reminded me of that figure, that, when I recall the events of her life, as she narrated them to me, I imagine her as a living, breathing impersonation of that work of art.
I do not recollect ever to have been conversant with any one who had more of that silent and subtle power which we call personal presence than this woman. In the modern Spiritualistic phraseology, she would be described as having a strong sphere. Her tall form, as she rose up before me, is still vivid to my mind. She was dressed in some stout, grayish stuff, neat and clean, though dusty from travel. On her head she wore a bright Madras handkerchief, arranged as a turban, after the manner of her race. She seemed perfectly self-possessed and at her ease,—in fact, there was almost an unconscious superiority, not unmixed with a solemn twinkle of humor, in the odd, composed manner in which she looked down on me. Her whole air had at times a gloomy sort of drollery which impressed one strangely.
"So, this is you," she said.
"Yes," I answered.
"Well, honey, de Lord bless ye! I jes' thought I'd like to come an' have a look at ye. You's heerd o' me, I reckon?" she added.
"Yes, I think I have. You go about lecturing, do you not?"
"Yes, honey, that's what I do. The Lord has made me a sign unto this nation, an' I go round a-testifyin', an' showin' on 'em their sins agin my people."
So saying, she took a seat, and, stooping over and crossing her arms on her knees, she looked down on the floor, and appeared to fall into a sort of reverie.
Her great gloomy eyes and her dark face seemed to work with some undercurrent of feeling; she sighed deeply, and occasionally broke out,—
"O Lord! O Lord! Oh, the tears, an' the groans, an' the moans! O Lord!"
I should have said that she was accompanied by a little grandson of ten years,—the fattest, jolliest woolly-headed little specimen of Africa that one can imagine. He was grinning and showing his glistening white teeth in a state of perpetual merriment, and at this moment broke out into an audible giggle, which disturbed the reverie into which his relative was falling.
She looked at him with an indulgent sadness, and then at me.
"Laws, Ma'am, he don't know nothin' about it,—he don't. Why, I've seen them poor critters, beat an' 'bused an' hunted, brought in all torn,—ears hangin' all in rags, where the dogs been a-bitin' of 'em!"
This set off our little African Puck into another giggle, in which he seemed perfectly convulsed.
She surveyed him soberly, without the slightest irritation.
"Well, you may bless the Lord you can laugh; but I tell you, 't wa'n't no laughin' matter."
By this time I thought her manner so original that it might be worth while to call down my friends; and she seemed perfectly well pleased with the idea. An audience was what she wanted,—it mattered not whether high or low, learned or ignorant. She had things to say, and was ready to say them at all times, and to any one.
I called down Dr. Beecher, Professor Allen, and two or three other clergymen, who, together with my husband and family, made a roomful. No princess could have received a drawing-room with more composed dignity than Sojourner her audience. She stood among them, calm and erect, as one of her own native palm-trees waving alone in the desert. I presented one after another to her, and at last said,—
"Sojourner, this is Dr. Beecher. He is a very celebrated preacher."
"Is he?" she said, offering her hand in a condescending manner, and looking down on his white head. "Ye dear lamb, I'm glad to see ye! De Lord bless ye! I loves preachers. I'm a kind o' preacher myself."
"You are?" said Dr. Beecher. "Do you preach from the Bible?"
"No, honey, can't preach from de Bible,—can't read a letter."
"Why, Sojourner, what do you preach from, then?"
Her answer was given with a solemn power of voice, peculiar to herself, that hushed every one in the room.
"When I preaches, I has jest one text to preach from, an' I always preaches from this one. My text is, 'WHEN I FOUND JESUS.'"
"Well, you couldn't have a better one," said one of the ministers.
She paid no attention to him, but stood and seemed swelling with her own thoughts, and then began this narration:—
"Well, now, I'll jest have to go back, an' tell ye all about it. Ye see, we was all brought over from Africa, father an' mother an' I, an' a lot more of us; an' we was sold up an' down, an' hither an' yon; an' I can 'member, when I was a little thing, not bigger than this 'ere," pointing to her grandson, "how my ole mammy would sit out o' doors in the evenin', an' look up at the stars an' groan. She'd groan an' groan, an' says I to her,—
"'Mammy, what makes you groan so?'
"An' she'd say,—
"'Matter enough, chile! I'm groanin' to think o' my poor children: they don't know where I be, an' I don't know where they be; they looks up at the stars, an' I looks up at the stars, but I can't tell where they be.
"'Now,' she said, 'chile, when you're grown up, you may be sold away from your mother an' all your ole friends, an' have great troubles come on ye; an' when you has these troubles come on ye, ye jes' go to God, an' He'll help ye.'
"An' says I to her,—
"'Who is God, anyhow, mammy?'
"An' says she,—
"'Why, chile, you jes' look up dar! It's Him that made all dem!'
"Well, I didn't mind much 'bout God in them days. I grew up pretty lively an' strong, an' could row a boat, or ride a horse, or work round, an' do 'most anything.
"At last I got sold away to a real hard massa an' missis. Oh, I tell you, they was hard! 'Peared like I couldn't please 'em, nohow. An' then I thought o' what my old mammy told me about God; an' I thought I'd got into trouble, sure enough, an' I wanted to find God, an' I heerd some one tell a story about a man that met God on a threshin'-floor, an' I thought, 'Well an' good, I'll have a threshin'-floor, too.' So I went down in the lot, an' I threshed down a place real hard, an' I used to go down there every day, an' pray an' cry with all my might, a-prayin' to the Lord to make my massa an' missis better, but it didn't seem to do no good; an' so says I, one day,—
"'O God, I been a-askin' ye, an' askin' ye, an' askin' ye, for all this long time, to make my massa an' missis better, an' you don't do it, an' what can be the reason? Why, maybe you can't. Well, I shouldn't wonder ef you couldn't. Well, now, I tell you, I'll make a bargain with you. Ef you'll help me to git away from my massa an' missis, I'll agree to be good; but ef you don't help me, I really don't think I can be. Now,' says I, 'I want to git away; but the trouble's jest here: ef I try to git away in the night, I can't see; an' ef I try to git away in the daytime, they'll see me, an' be after me.'
"Then the Lord said to me, 'Git up two or three hours afore daylight, an' start off.'
"An' says I, 'Thank 'ee, Lord! that's a good thought.'
"So up I got, about three o'clock in the mornin', an' I started an' travelled pretty fast, till, when the sun rose, I was clear away from our place an' our folks, an' out o' sight. An' then I begun to think I didn't know nothin' where to go. So I kneeled down, and says I,—
"'Well, Lord, you've started me out, an' now please to show me where to go.'
"Then the Lord made a house appear to me, an' He said to me that I was to walk on till I saw that house, an' then go in an' ask the people to take me. An' I travelled all day, an' didn't come to the house till late at night; but when I saw it, sure enough, I went in, an' I told the folks that the Lord sent me; an' they was Quakers, an' real kind they was to me. They jes' took me in, an' did for me as kind as ef I'd been one of 'em; an' after they'd giv me supper, they took me into a room where there was a great, tall, white bed; an' they told me to sleep there. Well, honey, I was kind o' skeered when they left me alone with that great white bed; 'cause I never had been in a bed in my life. It never came into my mind they could mean me to sleep in it. An' so I jes' camped down under it, on the floor, an' then I slep' pretty well. In the mornin', when they came in, they asked me of I hadn't been asleep; an' I said, 'Yes, I never slep' better.' An' they said, 'Why, you haven't been in the bed!' An' says I, 'Laws, you didn't think o' sech a thing as my sleepin' in dat 'ar' bed, did you? I never heerd o' sech a thing in my life.'
"Well, ye see, honey, I stayed an' lived with 'em. An' now jes' look here: instead o' keepin' my promise an' bein' good, as I told the Lord I would, jest as soon as everything got a-goin' easy, I forgot all about God.
"Pretty well don't need no help; an' I gin up prayin.' I lived there two or three years, an' then the slaves in New York were all set free, an' ole massa came to our house to make a visit, an' he asked me ef I didn't want to go back an' see the folks on the ole place. An' I told him I did. So he said, ef I'd jes' git into the wagon with him, he'd carry me over. Well, jest as I was goin' out to git into the wagon, I met God! an' says I, 'O God, I didn't know as you was so great!' An' I turned right round an' come into the house, an' set down in my room; for 't was God all around me. I could feel it burnin', burnin', burnin' all around me, an' goin' through me; an' I saw I was so wicked, it seemed as ef it would burn me up. An' I said, 'O somebody, somebody, stand between God an' me! for it burns me!' Then, honey, when I said so, I felt as it were somethin' like an amberill [umbrella] that came between me an' the light, an' I felt it was somebody,—somebody that stood between me an' God; an' it felt cool, like a shade; an' says I, 'Who's this that stands between me an' God? Is it old Cato?' He was a pious old preacher; but then I seemed to see Cato in the light, an' he was all polluted an' vile, like me; an' I said, 'Is it old Sally?' an' then I saw her, an' she seemed jes' so. An' then says I, 'Who is this?' An' then, honey, for a while it was like the sun shinin' in a pail o' water, when it moves up an' down; for I begun to feel 't was somebody that loved me; an' I tried to know him. An' I said, 'I know you! I know you! I know you!'—an' then I said, 'I don't know you! I don't know you! I don't know you!' An' when I said, 'I know you, I know you,' the light came; an' when I said, 'I don't know you, I don't know you,' it went, jes' like the sun in a pail o' water. An' finally somethin' spoke out in me an' said, 'This is Jesus !' An' I spoke out with all my might, an' says I, 'This is Jesus! Glory be to God!' An' then the whole world grew bright, an' the trees they waved an' waved in glory, an' every little bit o' stone on the ground shone like glass; an' I shouted an' said, 'Praise, praise, praise to the Lord!' An' I begun to feel sech a love in my soul as I never felt before,—love to all creatures. An' then, all of a sudden, it stopped, an' I said, 'Dar's de white folks, that have abused you an' beat you an' abused your people,—think o' them!' But then there came another rush of love through my soul, an' I cried out loud,—'Lord, Lord, I can love even de white folks!'
"Honey, I jes' walked round an' round in a dream. Jesus loved me! I knowed it,—I felt it. Jesus was my Jesus. Jesus would love me always. I didn't dare tell nobody; 't was a great secret. Everything had been got away from me that I ever had; an' I thought that ef I let white folks know about this, maybe they'd get Him away,—so I said, 'I'll keep this close. I won't let any one know.'"
"But, Sojourner, had you never been told about Jesus Christ?"
"No, honey. I hadn't heerd no preachin',—been to no meetin'. Nobody hadn't told me. I'd kind o' heerd of Jesus, but thought he was like Gineral Lafayette, or some o' them. But one night there was a Methodist meetin' somewhere in our parts, an' I went; an' they got up an' begun for to tell der 'speriences; an' de fust one begun to speak. I started, 'cause he told about Jesus. 'Why,' says I to myself, 'dat man's found him, too!' An' another got up an' spoke, an' I said, 'He's found him, too!' An' finally I said, 'Why, they all know him!' I was so happy! An' then they sung this hymn": (Here Sojourner sang, in a strange, cracked voice, but evidently with all her soul and might, mispronouncing the English, but seeming to derive as much elevation and comfort from bad English as from good):—
"There is a holy city, A world of light above. Above the stairs and regions,[A] Built by the God of love.
"An everlasting temple, And saints arrayed in white There serve their great Redeemer And dwell with him in light.
"The meanest child of glory Outshines the radiant sun; But who can speak the splendor Of Jesus on his throne?
"Is this the man of sorrows Who stood at Pilate's bar, Condemned by haughty Herod And by his men of war?
"He seems a mighty conqueror, Who spoiled the powers below, And ransomed many captives From everlasting woe.
"The hosts of saints around him Proclaim his work of grace, The patriarchs and prophets, And all the godly race,
"Who speak of fiery trials And tortures on their way; They came from tribulation To everlasting day.
"And what shall be my journey, How long I'll stay below, Or what shall be my trials, Are not for me to know.
"In every day of trouble I'll raise my thoughts on high, I'll think of that bright temple And crowns above the sky."
[Footnote A: Starry regions.]
I put in this whole hymn, because Sojourner, carried away with her own feeling, sang it from beginning to end with a triumphant energy that held the whole circle around her intently listening. She sang with the strong barbaric accent of the native African, and with those indescribable upward turns and those deep gutturals which give such a wild, peculiar power to the negro singing,—but above all, with such an overwhelming energy of personal appropriation that the hymn seemed to be fused in the furnace of her feelings and come out recrystallized as a production of her own.
It is said that Rachel was wont to chant the "Marseillaise" in a manner that made her seem, for the time, the very spirit and impersonation of the gaunt, wild, hungry, avenging mob which rose against aristocratic oppression; and in like manner, Sojourner, singing this hymn, seemed to impersonate the fervor of Ethiopia, wild, savage, hunted of all nations, but burning after God in her tropic heart, and stretching her scarred hands towards the glory to be revealed.
"Well, den ye see, after a while I thought I'd go back an' see de folks on de ole place. Well, you know, de law had passed dat de culled folks was all free; an' my old missis, she had a daughter married about dis time who went to live in Alabama,—an' what did she do but give her my son, a boy about de age of dis yer, for her to take down to Alabama? When I got back to de ole place, they told me about it, an' I went right up to see ole missis, an' says I,—
"'Missis, have you been an' sent my son away down to Alabama?'
"'Yes, I have,' says she; 'he's gone to live with your young missis.'
"'Oh, Missis,' says I, 'how could you do it?'
"'Poh!' says she, 'what a fuss you make about a little nigger! Got more of 'em now than you know what to do with.'
"I tell you, I stretched up. I felt as tall as the world!
"'Missis,' says I, 'I'll have my son back agin!'
"'You will, you nigger? How you goin' to do it? You ha'n't got no money.'
"'No, Missis,—but God has,—an' you'll see He'll help me!'—an' I turned round an' went out.
"Oh, but I was angry to have her speak to me so haughty an' so scornful, as ef my chile wasn't worth anything. I said to God, 'O Lord, render unto her double!' It was a dreadful prayer, an' I didn't know how true it would come.
"Well, I didn't rightly know which way to turn; but I went to the Lord, an' I said to Him, 'O Lord, ef I was as rich as you be, an' you was as poor as I be, I'd help you,—you know I would; and, oh, do help me!' An' I felt sure then that He would.
"Well, I talked with people, an' they said I must git the case before a grand jury. So I went into the town when they was holdin' a court, to see ef I could find any grand jury. An' I stood round the court-house, an' when they was a-comin' out, I walked right up to the grandest-lookin' one I could see, an' says I to him,—
"'Sir, be you a grand jury?'
"An' then he wanted to know why I asked, an' I told him all about it; an' he asked me all sorts of questions, an' finally he says to me,—
"'I think, ef you pay me ten dollars, that I'd agree to git your son for you.' An' says he, pointin' to a house over the way, 'You go 'long an' tell your story to the folks in that house, an' I guess they'll give you the money.'
"Well, I went, an' I told them, an' they gave me twenty dollars; an' then I thought to myself, 'Ef ten dollars will git him, twenty dollars will git him sartin.' So I carried it to the man all out, an' said,—
"'Take it all,—only be sure an' git him'
"Well, finally they got the boy brought back; an' then they tried to frighten him, an' to make him say that I wasn't his mammy, an' that he didn't know me; but they couldn't make it out. They gave him to me, an' I took him an' carried him home; an' when I came to take off his clothes, there was his poor little back all covered with scars an' hard lumps, where they'd flogged him.
"Well, you see, honey, I told you how I prayed the Lord to render unto her double. Well, it came true; for I was up at ole missis' house not long after, an' I heerd 'em readin' a letter to her how her daughter's husband had murdered her,—how he'd thrown her down an' stamped the life out of her, when he was in liquor; an' my ole missis, she giv a screech, an' fell flat on the floor. Then says I, 'O Lord, I didn't mean all that! You took me up too quick.'
"Well, I went in an' tended that poor critter all night. She was out of her mind,—a-cryin', an' callin' for her daughter; an' I held her poor ole head on my arm, an' watched for her as ef she 'd been my babby. An' I watched by her, an' took care on her all through her sickness after that, an' she died in my arms, poor thing!"
"Well, Sojourner, did you always go by this name?"
"No, 'deed! My name was Isabella; but when I left the house of bondage, I left everything behind. I wa'n't goin' to keep nothin' of Egypt on me, an' so I went to the Lord an' asked Him to give me a new name. And the Lord gave me Sojourner, because I was to travel up an' down the land, showin' the people their sins, an' bein' a sign unto them. Afterwards I told the Lord I wanted another name, 'cause everybody else had two names; and the Lord gave me Truth, because I was to declare the truth to the people.
"Ye see some ladies have given me a white satin banner," she said, pulling out of her pocket and unfolding a white banner, printed with many texts, such as, "Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof," and others of like nature. "Well," she said, "I journeys round to camp-meetins, an' wherever folks is, an' I sets up my banner, an' then I sings, an' then folks always comes up round me, an' then I preaches to 'em. I tells 'em about Jesus, an' I tells 'em about the sins of this people. A great many always comes to hear me; an' they 're right good to me, too, an' say they want to hear me agin."
We all thought it likely; and as the company left her, they shook hands with her, and thanked her for her very original sermon; and one of the ministers was overheard to say to another, "There's more of the gospel in that story than in most sermons."
Sojourner stayed several days with us, a welcome guest. Her conversation was so strong, simple, shrewd, and with such a droll flavoring of humor, that the Professor was wont to say of an evening, "Come, I am dull, can't you get Sojourner up here to talk a little?" She would come up into the parlor, and sit among pictures and ornaments, in her simple stuff gown, with her heavy travelling-shoes, the central object of attention both to parents and children, always ready to talk or to sing, and putting into the common flow of conversation the keen edge of some shrewd remark.
"Sojourner, what do you think of Women's Rights?"
"Well, honey, I 's ben to der meetins, an' harked a good deal. Dey wanted me fur to speak. So I got up. Says I,—'Sisters, I a'n't clear what you'd be after. Ef women want any rights more 'n dey 's got, why don't dey jes' take 'em, an' not be talkin' about it?' Some on 'em came round me, an' asked why I didn't wear Bloomers. An' I told 'em I had Bloomers enough when I was in bondage. You see," she said, "dey used to weave what dey called nigger-cloth, an' each one of us got jes' sech a strip, an' had to wear it width-wise. Them that was short got along pretty well, but as for me"—She gave an indescribably droll glance at her long limbs and then at us, and added,—"Tell you, I had enough of Bloomers in them days."
Sojourner then proceeded to give her views of the relative capacity of the sexes, in her own way.
"S'pose a man's mind holds a quart, an' a-woman's don't hold but a pint; ef her pint is full, it's as good as his quart."
Sojourner was fond of singing an extraordinary lyric, commencing,—
"I'm on my way to Canada, That cold, but happy land; The dire effects of Slavery I can no longer stand. O righteous Father, Do look down on me And help me on to Canada, Where colored folks are free!"
The lyric ran on to state, that, when the fugitive crosses the Canada line,
"The Queen comes down unto the shore, With arms extended wide, To welcome the poor fugitive Safe onto Freedom's side."
In the truth thus set forth she seemed to have the most simple faith.
But her chief delight was to talk of "glory," and to sing hymns whose burden was,—
"O glory, glory, glory, Won't you come along with me?"
and when left to herself, she would often hum these with great delight, nodding her head.
On one occasion, I remember her sitting at a window singing and fervently keeping time with her bead, the little black Puck of a grandson meanwhile, amusing himself with ornamenting her red-and-yellow turban with green dandelion-curls, which shook and trembled with her emotions, causing him perfect convulsions of delight.
"Sojourner," said the Professor to her, one day, when he heard her singing, "you seem to be very sure about heaven."
"Well, I be," she answered, triumphantly.
"What makes you so sure there is any heaven?"
"Well, 'cause I got such a hankerin' arter it in here," she said,—giving a thump on her breast with her usual energy.
There was at the time an invalid in the house, and Sojourner, on learning it, felt a mission to go and comfort her. It was curious to see the tall, gaunt, dusky figure stalk up to the bed with such an air of conscious authority, and take on herself the office of consoler with such a mixture of authority and tenderness. She talked as from above,—and at the same time, if a pillow needed changing or any office to be rendered, she did it with a strength and handiness that inspired trust. One felt as if the dark, strange woman were quite able to take up the invalid in her bosom, and bear her as a lamb, both physically and spiritually. There was both power and sweetness in that great warm soul and that vigorous frame.
At length, Sojourner, true to her name, departed. She had her mission elsewhere. Where now she is I know not; but she left deep memories behind her.
To these recollections of my own I will add one more anecdote, related by Wendell Phillips.
Speaking of the power of Rachel to move and bear down a whole audience by a few simple words, he said he never knew but one other human being that had that power, and that other was Sojourner Truth. He related a scene of which he was witness. It was at a crowded public meeting in Faneuil Hall, where Frederick Douglas was one of the chief speakers. Douglas had been describing the wrongs of the black race, and as he proceeded, he grew more and more excited, and finally ended by saying that they had no hope of justice from the whites, no possible hope except in their own right arms. It must come to blood; they must fight for themselves, and redeem themselves, or it would never be done.
Sojourner was sitting, tall and dark, on the very front seat, facing the platform; and in the hush of deep feeling, after Douglas sat down, she spoke out in her deep, peculiar voice, heard all over the house,—
"Frederick, is God dead?"
The effect was perfectly electrical, and thrilled through the whole house, changing as by a flash the whole feeling of the audience. Not another word she said or needed to say; it was enough.
It is with a sad feeling that one contemplates noble minds and bodies, nobly and grandly formed human beings, that have come to us cramped, scarred, maimed, out of the prison-house of bondage. One longs to know what such beings might have become, if suffered to unfold and expand under the kindly developing influences of education.
It is the theory of some writers, that to the African is reserved, in the later and palmier days of the earth, the full and harmonious development of the religious element in man. The African seems to seize on the tropical fervor and luxuriance of Scripture imagery as something native; he appears to feel himself to be of the same blood with those old burning, simple souls, the patriarchs, prophets, and seers, whose impassioned words seem only grafted as foreign plants on the cooler stock of the Occidental mind.
I cannot but think that Sojourner with the same culture might have spoken words as eloquent and undying as those of the African Saint Augustine or Tertullian. How grand and queenly a woman she might have been, with her wonderful physical vigor, her great heaving sea of emotion, her power of spiritual conception, her quick penetration, and her boundless energy! We might conceive an African type of woman so largely made and moulded, so much fuller in all the elements of life, physical and spiritual, that the dark hue of the skin should seem only to add an appropriate charm,—as Milton says of his Penseroso, whom he imagines
"Black, but such as in esteem Prince Memnon's sister might beseem, Or that starred Ethiop queen that strove To set her beauty's praise above The sea-nymph's."
But though Sojourner Truth has passed away from among us as a wave of the sea, her memory still lives in one of the loftiest and most original works of modern art, the Libyan Sibyl, by Mr. Story, which attracted so much attention in the late World's Exhibition. Some years ago, when visiting Rome, I related Sojourner's history to Mr. Story at a breakfast at his house. Already had his mind begun to turn to Egypt in search of a type of art which should represent a larger and more vigorous development of nature than the cold elegance of Greek lines. His glorious Cleopatra was then in process of evolution, and his mind was working out the problem of her broadly developed nature, of all that slumbering weight and fulness of passion with which this statue seems charged, as a heavy thunder-cloud is charged with electricity.
The history of Sojourner Truth worked in his mind and led him into the deeper recesses of the African nature,—those unexplored depths of being and feeling, mighty and dark as the gigantic depths of tropical forests, mysterious as the hidden rivers and mines of that burning continent whose life-history is yet to be. A few days after, he told me that he had conceived the idea of a statue which he should call the Libyan Sibyl. Two years subsequently, I revisited Rome, and found the gorgeous Cleopatra finished, a thing to marvel at, as the creation of a new style of beauty, a new manner of art. Mr. Story requested me to come and repeat to him the history of Sojourner Truth, saying that the conception had never left him. I did so; and a day or two after, he showed me the clay model of the Libyan Sibyl. I have never seen the marble statue; but am told by those who have, that it was by far the most impressive work of art at the Exhibition.
A notice of the two statues from the London "Athenaeum" must supply a description which I cannot give.
"The Cleopatra and the Sibyl are seated, partly draped, with the characteristic Egyptian gown, that gathers about the torso and falls freely around the limbs; the first is covered to the bosom, the second bare to the hips. Queenly Cleopatra rests back against her chair in meditative ease, leaning her cheek against one hand, whose elbow the rail of the seat sustains; the other is outstretched upon her knee, nipping its forefinger upon the thumb thoughtfully, as though some firm, wilful purpose filled her brain, as it seems to set those luxurious features to a smile as if the whole woman 'would.' Upon her head is the coif, bearing in front the mystic uraeus, or twining basilisk of sovereignty, while from its sides depend the wide Egyptian lappels, or wings, that fall upon her shoulders. The Sibilla Libica has crossed her knees,—an action universally held amongst the ancients as indicative of reticence or secrecy, and of power to bind. A secret-keeping looking dame she is, in the full-bloom proportions of ripe womanhood, wherein choosing to place his figure the sculptor has deftly gone between the disputed point whether these women were blooming and wise in youth, or deeply furrowed with age and burdened with the knowledge of centuries, as Virgil, Livy, and Gellius say. Good artistic example might be quoted on both sides. Her forward elbow is propped upon one knee; and to keep her secrets closer, for this Libyan woman is the closest of all the Sibyls, she rests her shut mouth upon one closed palm, as if holding the African mystery deep in the brooding brain that looks out through mournful, warning eyes, seen under the wide shade of the strange horned (ammonite) crest, that bears the mystery of the Tetragrammaton upon its upturned front. Over her full bosom, mother of myriads as she was, hangs the same symbol. Her face has a Nubian cast, her hair wavy and plaited, as is meet."
We hope to see the day when copies both of the Cleopatra and the Libyan Sibyl shall adorn the Capitol at Washington.
Horticulture in the United States has, except in a commercial sense, been subordinate to the pursuit of wealth. Before man can indulge in objects of elegance and refinement, he must have secured the comforts of life: the utile must lead the dulce, a well-stocked kitchen-garden precede the parterre. We have now, however, in the older sections of the Union, at least, passed through the ordeal of a young nation: elegance is following the plain and practical; the spacious mansion, with its luxurious appurtenances, is succeeding the cottage, as this in turn was the successor of the cabin. The perception of the picturesque is a natural result of earlier steps in the path of refinement: man may build from a vulgar ambition for distinction, but he seldom plants unless prompted by love of Nature and elevated impulses. Lord Bacon, in his essay "Of Gardens," says, "When ages grow to civility and elegancy, men come to build stately sooner than to garden finely; as if gardening were the greater perfection." A case which seems to confirm this position occurs to us. The site of a noble building, erected for our Government, was adorned by wide-spreading trees, the growth of generations, which, after the building was completed, the architect cut down before his axe could be arrested. On being reproached for his Vandalism, he retorted,— "Trees may be seen everywhere, but such a Grecian portico as that—where?"
Among a young people like ourselves, the nursery and the market-garden hold prominent places in horticultural pursuits; the latter yields a prompt return for the investment of capital and labor, and just in proportion as demand increases, so will be the exertion to meet it. Thus we find the markets of the cities amply supplied with every luxury of fruit and vegetable: the seasons are anticipated by artificial means, glass is brought into requisition, and the tables of the wealthy are furnished with a profusion unknown to royalty in an earlier age.
The capacity of Americans to mould circumstances to themselves rather than adapt themselves to circumstances, to remove obstacles, to accomplish by the aid of machinery much that other peoples reach through toil alone, has passed into a proverb: hence it need hardly cause surprise, if unexampled success attend efforts at market-gardening, bringing to the very doors of the comparatively poor vegetables and fruits which in Europe are enjoyed only by the higher classes. As an illustration,—where but in America are peaches planted by a single individual by tens of thousands, and carried to market on steamboats chartered for the special purpose, in quantities of one or two thousand bushels at a trip?
The earlier American nurseries were few in number, and, compared with some now existing, of quite limited extent,—though equal, perhaps, in proportion to population. The first of which there is any record, and probably the earliest established, was that of John Bartram, near Philadelphia, about the year 1730. Here were congregated many of the prominent native plants and trees, preparatory to exportation to Europe,—also the fruits and plants of the other hemisphere, obtained in exchange for American productions. The specimen trees planted by the elder Bartram and his descendants still adorn the grounds, classic to the botanist and the lover of Nature: long may they stand, living memorials of generations passed away, our earliest evidence of a taste for horticulture!
The next nursery in the order of date is that of Prince, in Flushing, New York, established, we believe, prior to the Revolution, and continued by the family to the present day. Flushing has become a centre in the nursery-trade, and many acres thereabout are covered with young trees intended for transplantation. A stroll round the village would lead one to suppose the chief interest of the inhabitants was bound up in the nursery-business, as is that of Lynn in shoes, and of Lowell in cotton goods. Prominent among the Flushing nurseries are those of Parsons, which, though of comparatively recent origin, abound in rich treasures.
The nurseries of the brothers David and Cuthbert Landreth appear to have been the third in the order of succession. They were established at Philadelphia shortly after the Revolution, and within the limits of the city. The increase of population and their expanding trade caused a removal to another and more ample field of culture, which, for nearly half a century, was the resort of most people of taste who visited Philadelphia.
Nurseries are now found everywhere. The Far West has some which count the young trees by millions, and fruit-trees of single kinds by the hundred thousand. The Hoveys, of Boston, have long been prominent, not only as nurserymen, but as writers on horticulture. Elwanger and Barry, of Rochester, New York, have a large breadth of land, we forbear to state our impression of the number of acres, covered by nursery-stock. Professional florists also have multiplied to an unlimited extent, exhibiting the growth of refining taste. Plants suited to window-culture, and bouquets of choice flowers, are sold on street-corners, and carried from door to door. Cameilias, of which we recollect single flowers having been sold at a dollar, can now be purchased at fifty cents the plant.
It might be curious, in reference to this subject of horticulture, to institute an inquiry as to cause and effect. Have the increased means of gratifying taste expanded it, or has taste rapidly developed created the means of supply? Doubtless there has been reaction from both directions, each operating on the other. One striking exhibition of pure taste among us is the formation of picturesque arboretums, especially of terebinthinate trees, and others allied to the Coniferae. This taste, so diligently cultivated in England, has found zealous worshippers among us, and some admirable collections have been formed. The cemetery of Laurel Hill, at Philadelphia, under the critical eye and taste of the proprietor, Mr. John Jay Smith, that of Mount Auburn, in Cambridge, of Greenwood, New York, and the cemetery in Cincinnati, have afforded fine specimens of rare trees, though, from the nature of their purposes, picturesque effect could not be reached, except so far as aided by irregularity of surface. And here we would remark, in connection with this subject, that one regulation of the Cincinnati cemetery is worthy of imitation. No arbitrary railings or ill-kept hedges bound the individual lots; all is open, and the visitor, as he drives through the grounds, is charmed by the effect,—a park studded with monuments: the social distinctions, which, perhaps, necessarily separated in life, have disappeared in death.
In connection with landscape-gardening, one American name stands conspicuous,—the name of one who, if not, in point of time, the first teacher of the art in this country, has at least done more than any other to direct attention to it,—to exhibit defects, suggest improvements, create beauties, and invest his subject with such a charm and interest as to captivate many minds which might otherwise have been long insensible to the dormant beauty within their reach, or that which they themselves had the power to produce: we refer, of course, to the late Andrew J. Downing. With naturally fine artistic perceptions, his original occupation of a nurseryman gave direction to his subsequent pursuits. Under different circumstances, his taste might, perhaps, have been turned to painting, sculpture, or architecture: indeed, to the last he paid no inconsiderable attention; and as the result, many a rural homestead, which might otherwise have been a bleak house, is conspicuous as the abode of taste and elegance.
Among the prominent private arboretums in our country may be mentioned that of Mr. Sargent at Wodeneshe. Mr. Sargent, as may be seen by his supplement to Downing's "Landscape-Gardening," is an enthusiast in the culture of conifers; he is reputed to have made liberal importations, and the results of his attempts at acclimation, given to the public, have aided others in like endeavors. Judge Field, of Princeton, New Jersey, has a pinetum of much value; some of his specimens are of rare excellence. He, also, has been a diligent importer.
* * * * *
Though our sketch of the present state of horticulture among us is quite imperfect, affording but an indistinct glimpse of the ample field which invites our view, it would scarcely be pardonable, were we to overlook a branch of rural industry in which horticultural success is interested, and without which the practical pleasures and family-comfort of rural homes would be greatly abridged. We refer to garden-seed culture. It may be that the purchaser of a paper of seed for the kitchen-garden seldom stops to consider the minute care which has been required to secure its purity; most probably, in many cases, he makes the purchase as though it were the mere product of mechanical skill, which, after the machinery is perfected, and the steam-engine has been set in motion, turns out the finished article, of use or ornament, with scarcely an effort of mind to direct its movements. Not so in the production of seeds: many are the hours of watchful care to be bestowed upon it, and stern and unyielding are its demands on the skilled eye and the untiring hand. It is because in some cases the eye is not skilled, and the hand often tires, that so many seeds of more than doubtful worth are imposed upon the market, filling the village and cross-road shops with the germs of disappointment. The history of the seed-culture in the United States is not without interest to those who, like many readers of the "Atlantic," reside in the quiet country; to every family thus situated the certainty of obtaining seeds of trustworthy quality—certain to vegetate, and sure to prove true to name—is of more importance than can be appreciated by those who rely upon the city-market, and have at all times and seasons ample supplies of vegetables within easy reach. On looking round for some individual establishment which we may use as the representative of this branch of industry, we naturally turn to Bloomsdale, as the most prominent and widest-known of seed-farms; and if the reader will join us in a trip thither, we shall be pleased with his company, and perchance he may not wholly regret the time occupied in the excursion. The period we shall choose for the visit is the close of the month of June.
On a bright day we take our seats in the cars at Jersey City, provided with the talisman to insure an attentive reception. Onward we whirl through fertile fields and smiling villages; Newark, Brunswick, Princeton, are successively passed; shortly we reach the Delaware at Trenton; a run of a few miles through Penn's Manor, the garden-spot of the Proprietary Governor, brings us to Bristol, the station from which we most readily reach our destination. As we approach the grounds from the front, a prominent object meets the eye, a noble white pine of gigantic proportions, somewhat the worse for many a winter's storm, but which still stands in all its majestic grandeur, as it has stood whilst generations have come and passed away. On entering the premises, we find ourselves in the midst of a lawn of ten acres in the English style. To enumerate the various trees, in groups or single specimens, which most invite our notice, would interfere with the main object of our visit. We have come for a special purpose, and we can only allude to a very few of the species to which our attention may be supposed to be directed. A white spruce, in rich luxuriance, measuring, as the branches trail upon the sward, upwards of sixty feet in circumference; the Himalayan white pine, with its deep fringe-like foliage, twenty-five feet in height; the Cephalonian fir, with leaves as pungent as an Auricaria, twenty feet high, and many specimens of the same kind of nearly equal magnitude; yews, of more than half a century's growth; a purple beech, of thirty feet in height, its branches as many in circumference, contrasting with the green around; numerous specimens of balm of Gilead, silver firs, and Norway spruces, unsurpassed in beauty of form, the last presenting every variety of habit in which it delights to sport: these are some of the gems of the lawn. But we must hurry onward to the practical business in view.
The harvest, which, in seed-culture, lasts for many consecutive weeks, has just commenced. The first important crop that ripens is the turnip,—which is now being cut. The work is performed by the use of grass-hooks or toothless sickles; stem after stem is cut, until the hand is full, when they are deposited in canvas sheets; as these are filled, boys stand ready to spread others; men follow to tie up those which have been filled; others succeed, driving teams, and loading wagons, with ample shelvings, with sheet-full piled on sheet-full, until the sturdy oxen are required to test their strength in drawing them to the drying-houses; arrived there, each sheet-full is separately removed by rope and tackle, and the contents deposited on the skeleton scaffolding within the building, there to remain until the seed is sufficiently cured and dry enough to thresh. These drying-houses are buildings of uniform character, two stories in height and fifty feet square, constructed so as to expose their contents to sun and air, and each provided with a carefully laid threshing-floor, extending through the building, with pent-house for movable engine. When the houses are full and the hulm in a fit state for threshing, the engine is started and the work begun. One man, relieved by others from time to time, (for the labor requires activity, and consequently is exhausting,) feeds the thresher, which, with its armed teeth, moves with such velocity as to appear like a solid cylinder. Here there is no stopping for horses to take breath and rest their weary limbs,—puff, puff, onward the work,—steam as great a triumph in threshing as in printing or spinning. Men and boys are stationed at the rear of the thresher to remove the straw, and roughly separate the seed from the shattered hulm,—others again being engaged in thrusting the dried crop from the scaffolds, and placing it in suitable position for the feeders. When one drying-house has thus been emptied, the engine is removed to another; the same process is pursued until the circuit of the buildings has been made, and thus the ceaseless round (ceaseless at least for a season) is continued. As soon as the crop in the first house has been threshed, the work of winnowing is commenced, and skilled hands thus engaged follow on in the track of the engine. As each crop is cleaned and put in merchantable order, it is placed in bags of two bushels each and carried to the storehouses and granaries, there to await a requisition from the city-warehouse.
We have just witnessed the process of saving the crop of turnip-seed. And how much may that reach? is a natural inquiry. Of all the varieties, including the ruta-baga, about one thousand bushels, is the response. We should have thought a thousand pounds would supply the entire Union; but we are reminded it is in part exported to far distant lands. And what is the crop so much like turnip, but still green, and apparently of more vigorous growth? That is one of the varieties of cabbage, of which several standard kinds are under cultivation. Another adjoining is radish; still another, beet; and thus we pass from kind to kind, until we have exhausted a long catalogue of sorts.
Let us stop our walk over the grounds for a few moments, taking seats under the shadow of a tree, and make some inquiries as to the place itself, its extent, the course of culture, the description of manures used, etc. Our cicerone assents to the proposal, and proceeds to answer our general inquiries. Bloomsdale contains in round numbers four hundred acres; it has a frontage on the Delaware of upwards of a mile, is bounded on the west by the Delaware Canal, and is divided into two nearly equal parts by the Philadelphia and Trenton Railroad. The soil is a light loam, easily worked, suited to rapid percolation, admitting of labor immediately after heavy rain, and not liable to suffer by drought. The manures used are principally crude, obtained from the city, and landed on the premises from shallops continually plying, laden with the "sinews of farming." Street-scrapings are more used than stable-manure; bone-dust and guano enter largely into the account; and the aggregate annual expenditure foots up a sum almost equivalent to the fee-simple of an ordinary farm. The culture is that denominated drill; but of course much of it is simply straight lines drawn by the plough, in which the roots for seeding are planted by hand. The ground, with the exception of the lawn and a portion occupied from time to time by grass for home use, is divided by wagon-roads into squares and parallelograms; cross fences are not used; and each crop forms a distinct feature, accessible at any stage of growth. The several varieties of each kind, as, for instance, those of turnip, cabbage, beet, lettuce, are planted widely apart, to guard against possible admixture; but the chances of that result must be much less than is popularly supposed, efforts having been used experimentally to test its practicability, and that between kindred closely allied, without success. Although the extent of the grounds would appear to be formidable, even for a farm conducted in the usual mode, it is insufficient for the demands on the proprietors, without diligent exertion and prompt recropping,—two crops in each year being exacted, only a small part of the land escaping double duty, the extent annually ploughed thus amounting to nearly twice the area of the farm. The heavy hauling is performed by oxen, the culture principally by mules, which are preferred to horses, as being less liable to injury, and better adapted to the narrow drill culture practised.
The seeds of Bloomsdale have attained a world-wide reputation, and, to quote an expression used in reference to them, "are almost as well known on the Ganges as on the Mississippi or Ohio." They are regularly exported to the British possessions in India, to the shores of the Pacific, throughout the West Indies, and occasionally to Australia. The drier atmosphere of this country ripens them better than the humid climate of England, adapting them to exportation; and it is no slight triumph to see them preferred by Englishmen on English soil. At home, thousands of hamlets, south and west of Philadelphia, until interrupted by the war, were supplied with Landreth's seeds. The business, founded nearly three-quarters of a century ago, is now conducted by the second and third generations of the family with which it originated. Thus has success been achieved through long and patient industry steadily directed to the same pursuit, and a reputation built up for American seeds, despite the want of national protection.
THE EAST AND THE WEST.
[This poem was written by THEODORE WINTHROP seven years ago, and after his death was found among his unpublished papers.]
We of the East spread our sails to the sea, You of the West stride over the land; Both are to scatter the hopes of the Free, As the sower sheds golden grain from his hand.
'Tis ours to circle the stormy bends Of a continent, yours its ridge to cross; We must double the capes where a long world ends, Lone cliffs where two limitless oceans toss.
They meet and are baffled 'mid tempest and wrath, Breezes are skirmishing, angry winds roar, While poised on some desperate plunge of our path We count up the blackening wrecks on the shore.
And you through dreary and thirsty ways, Where rivers are sand and winds are dust, Through sultry nights and feverish days, Move westward still as the sunsets must:
Where the scorched air quivers along the slopes, Where the slow-footed cattle lie down and die, Where horizons draw backward till baffled hopes Are weary of measureless waste and sky.
Yes, ours to battle relentless gales, And yours the brave and the patient way; But we hold the storms in our trusty sails, And for you the life-giving fountains play.
There are stars above us, and stars for you,— Rest on the path, and calm on the main: Storms are but zephyrs, when hearts are true; We are no weaklings, quick to complain,
When lightnings flash bivouac-fires into gloom, And with crashing of forests the rains sheet down,— Or when ships plunge onward where night-clouds loom, Defiant of darkness and meeting its frown.
These are the days of motion and march; Now we are ardent, and young, and brave: Let them that come after us build the arch Of our triumph, and plant with the laurel our grave.
Time enough to rear temples when heroes are dead, Time enough to sing paeans after the fight: Prophets urge onward the future's tread; We,—we are to kindle its beacon-light.
Our sires lit torches of quenchless flame To illumine our darkness, if night should be; But day is a friend to our standards, and shame Be ours, if we win not a victory!
Man is nobler than men have been, Souls are vaster than souls have dreamed; There are broader oceans than eyes have seen, Noons more glowing than yet have beamed.
Creeping shadows cower low on our land; These shall not dim our grander day: Stainless knights must be those who stand Full in the van of a world's array!
When shall we cease our meagre distrust? When to each other our true hearts yield? To make this world an Eden, we must Fling away each weapon and shield,
And meet each man as a friend and mate, Trample and spurn and forget our pride, Glad to accept an equal fate, Laboring, conquering side by side.
PERSONAL REMINISCENCES OF THE LATE HENRY THOMAS BUCKLE.
Cairo, Egypt, February 6th, 1862. I am afraid I repeat myself in talking about the beauty of the climate here, but to-day is so lovely that I cannot refrain from recurring to the subject. While you are shivering under the blasts of winter, we have a genuine June morning: the air soft and pure, the atmosphere clear, innumerable birds chirping in the trees opposite the windows, (for the Arabs never interfere with birds,) and the aspect of things from our balcony overlooking the Esbekieh, or public square, as pleasant as one could wish. The beautiful weather, too, is constant.
But I must tell you of my dining yesterday with Mrs. R., to meet Mr. Buckle, the author of the History of Civilization, who has just returned from his two or three months' voyage upon the Nile, in which he pushed as far as Nubia. He is now staying for a little while in Cairo, or rather in his dahabieh, or boat, (which he says is more comfortable than any hotel,) moored in the river at Boolak, the port of the town. Mrs. R., the daughter of Lady Duff Gordon, and granddaughter of Mrs. Austin, is a most attractive and accomplished young lady; her husband is the manager in Egypt of the great banking-house of Briggs and Company, in which he is a partner. Their usual residence is at Alexandria; but at this season "all the world" of Egypt comes to Cairo, to enjoy the beautiful weather here, while it is raining incessantly in Alexandria, only a hundred and thirty miles distant. Mrs. R. in asking Mr. Thayer, our Consul-General, to meet Mr. Buckle, with very great kindness included me in the invitation. The only other lady present was Miss P., a niece of the late Countess of Blessington, herself the author of several pleasant stories, and of a poem which gained a prize in competition with one by Mrs. Browning and another by Owen Meredith: she is spending the winter with Mrs. R. There were also present C., who conducts the house of Briggs and Company in Cairo; O., another banker; and Hekekyan Bey, an Armenian, a well-read and intelligent man, formerly Minister of Public Instruction under Mehemet Ali, and still, I believe, in receipt of a pension from the Viceroy's government, in consideration of his public services, which have been valuable.
The dinner was at an hotel called the Restaurant d'Auric. We assembled in Mrs. R.'s drawing-room, an apartment in the banking-house at a little distance, and walked to the hotel. The company fell into two groups, each lighted by a swarthy boab or lackey carrying a mushal or lantern; and I happened to walk with Mr. Buckle, so that I had a brief talk with him in the street, before the general conversation began at the table. He remarked upon the extraordinary devotion exhibited by Delane of the London Times to the interests and politics of Lord Palmerston. Becoming interested in our conversation, we strayed away from the rest, and were walking about a quarter of a mile down the bazaar, when (are you surprised to hear?) Mr. Buckle was missed, the two boabs came running after us, and we were cited to the dinner-table.
Buckle, of course, was the card. He talked with a velocity and fulness of facts that was wonderful. The rest of us could do little but listen and ask questions. And yet he did not seem to be lecturing us; the stream of his conversation flowed along easily and naturally. Nor was it didactic; Buckle's range of reading has covered everything in elegant literature, as well as the ponderous works whose titles make so formidable a list at the beginning of his History, and, as he remembers everything he has read, he can produce his stores upon the moment for the illustration of whatever subject happens to come up.
In the first place, let me say how delightful it was to discover his cordial interest in our own country. He expresses a strong hope that England will take no part against us, and do nothing to break the blockade. He is going to write about America; indeed, his next volume, besides containing a complete view of the German philosophy, will treat of the United States. But he will visit us before he writes. Although appreciating the great work of De Tocqueville, he complains of the general inadequacy of European criticism upon America. Gasparin's books, by the way, he has not seen. For his own part, he considers the subject too vast, he says, and the testimony too conflicting, to permit him to write upon it before he has seen the country; and meanwhile he scrupulously refrains from forming any conclusive opinions.
Subject to this reservation of judgment, however, he remarked that he was inclined to think that George III forced us prematurely into democracy, although the natural tendency of things both in America and England was towards it; and he thought that perhaps we had established a political democracy without having yet achieved an intellectual democracy: the two ought to go hand in hand together. The common people in England, he said, are by far the most useful class of society. He had been especially pleased by the numerous letters he had received from working-men who had read his book. These letters often surprised him by the acuteness and capacity displayed by their writers. The nobility would perish utterly, if it were not constantly recruited from commoners. Lord Brougham was the first member of the secular peerage who continued after his elevation to sign his name in full, "H. Brougham," which he did to show his continued sympathy with the class from which he sprang. Buckle remarked that the history of the peasantry of no European country has ever been written, or ever can be written, and without it the record of the doings of kings and nobles is mere chaff. Surnames were not introduced until the eleventh century, and it is only since that period that genealogy has become possible.
Another very pleasant thing is Mr. Buckle's cordial appreciation of young men. He repeated the story, which I believe is in his book, that, when Harvey announced to the world his great discovery of the circulation of the blood, among the physicians who received it was none above the age of forty. Mr. Thayer described to Buckle some of our friends who have read his book with especial satisfaction. He evidently took pleasure in this proof of appreciation, and said that this was the class of readers he sought. "In fact, the young men," he said, "are the only readers of much value; it is they who shape the future." He said that Thackeray and Delane had told him he would find Boston very like England. He knows but few Bostonians. He had corresponded with Theodore Parker, whom he considered a remarkable man; he had preserved but one of his letters, which he returned to Mrs. Parker, in answer to her request for materials to aid her in preparing the memoir of her late husband. Buckle says that he does not generally preserve other than business-letters.
Mr. Buckle gave an amusing account of the origin of the wigs which the lawyers wear in England, and which, by the way, struck me as infinitely ludicrous when I saw them on the heads of the judges and counsel in Westminster Hall. Originally the clergy were forbidden to practise law, and, as they were the best lawyers, the wig was worn to conceal the tonsure. He had anecdotes to tell of Johnson, Lamb, Macaulay, Voltaire, Talleyrand, etc., and quoted passages from Burke and from Junius at length in the exact words. Junius he considers proved to be Sir Philip Francis. He told a good story against Wordsworth, contained in a letter from Lamb to Talfourd, which the latter showed to Buckle, but had considered among the things too personal to be published. Wordsworth was decrying Shakspeare. "Pooh!" he said, "it is all very easy: I could write like Shakspeare myself, if I had a mind to!" "Precisely so," rejoined Lamb,—"if you had a mind to."
Mr. Buckle does not think much of the ancient Egyptian civilization, differing in this respect toto caelo from Hekekyan Bey, who finds in the monuments proofs of the existence of an expansive popular government. Buckle declares that the machines, as figured in the hieroglyphics, are of the most primitive kind,—and that the learning, by all accounts, was confined to the priests, and covered a very narrow range, exhibiting no traces of acquaintance with the higher useful arts. He says it is a fallacy to suppose that savages are bodily superior to civilized men. Captain Cook found that his sailors could outwork the islanders. I remarked, in confirmation, that our Harvard boat-clubs won the prizes in rowing-matches against all comers. Buckle seemed interested, and asked for a more particular account, which, of course, I took great pleasure in giving. C., like a true Englishman, doubted the general fact, and said the Thames watermen out-rowed their university-clubs.
For Turkish civilization Mr. Buckle has not the slightest respect,—said he could write the whole of it on the back of his hand; and here Hekekyan Bey cordially agreed with him. Buckle is very fond of chess, and can play two games at once blindfold. He inquired very particularly about a native here who it is said can play four or six in this manner, and said he should like to try a game with him. He had seen Paulsen, but not Morphy.
Mr. Thayer asked him if in England he had been subjected to personal hostility for his opinions, or to anything like social ostracism. He said, generally not. A letter from a clergyman to an acquaintance in England, expressing intense antipathy to him, although he had never seen the writer, was the only evidence of this kind of opposition. "In fact," said he, naively, "the people of England have such an admiration of any kind of intellectual splendor that they will forgive for its sake the most objectionable doctrines." He told us that the portion of his book which relates to Spain, although by no means complimentary to that country, has been translated and published separately there. T. remarked that to this circumstance, no doubt, we may ascribe some part of the modern regeneration of Spain, the leading statesmen being persuaded to a more liberal policy; but this view Buckle disclaimed with an eagerness seeming to be something more than the offspring of modesty.
After dinner we returned to Mrs. R.'s apartments, where we had tea. Buckle and Hekekyan now got into an animated discussion upon the ancient Egyptian civilization, which scarcely gave the rest of us a chance to put in a single word. It was, however, exceedingly interesting to sit and listen. Indeed, although there was nothing awful about Buckle, one felt a little abashed to intrude his own remarks in such a presence. You will be amused to hear that Mrs. R., who had seen me but once before, told T. that she did not think I seemed to have much to say for myself. Pray tell this in circles where they accuse me of monopolizing the conversation. We stayed until nearly midnight, and then, taking our leave, Buckle accompanied T. and myself as far as the door of our hotel. Buckle received most kindly all suggestions made to him of books to be read upon American affairs, and people to be seen in the United States.
February 7th. To-day we made a party to drive to see the Howling Dervishes, who howl on Fridays. Friday is sometimes called "the Mahometan Sunday," which is a correct phrase, if the especial celebration of religious services is meant; but it is not at all a day of rest: we found the people continuing their various avocations as usual. At the mosque we met Mr. Buckle, a little careless in his dress,—in this respect affording a not disagreeable contrast to the studied jauntiness which Englishmen are apt to affect in their travelling-gear. Nobody is allowed to press the floor of the mosque with shoes upon the feet. T. and I, warned by our former experience, had brought pieces of cotton cloth to tie over our shoes; and some cloth slippers of a bright orange color, such as the Arabs are fond of using, had been provided, which Miss P. slipped directly over her walking-boots. Buckle, with careless indifference, pulled off his shoes and walked in in his stockinged feet. His figure is tall and slender, although he is a large man; he stoops a little in standing; his head, well-shaped, is partly bald; and although his features are not striking in themselves, they are rendered so by his animated expression. The photograph which I have seen is a wretched caricature.
The performances of the Dervishes were precisely the same as those which I witnessed in the same place a fortnight ago, and may be found most exactly described by Mr. Trollope (who saw them two or three years since) in his admirable novel of "The Bertrams," Chapter 38. If I desired to tell you what we saw, I could not do better than to adopt Mr. Trollope's language without alteration. This will prove to you the sameness of this singular religious rite. Driving back, Miss P. helped us to recall some of the incidents of the dinner of the preceding day. She used to see almost all the distinguished literary characters at the house of her aunt; but she told us that she never met anybody whose conversation could bear comparison with that of Buckle, excepting Lord Brougham and Alexander Dumas. The latter disgusts by his insufferable egotism. Miss P. also gave us a very entertaining account of an Arab wedding which she attended a day or two ago in company with Mrs. R. As soon as they were inside the house they were separated from their escort, and were admitted to the apartment where the bride was obliged to sit in state for three days, covered with jewelry, clusters of diamonds literally plastered upon her cheeks and forehead.
February 10th. Yesterday Mr. Thayer entertained Mr. Buckle at dinner. The party included Mrs. R. and some of the guests whom we had met at her table. We had hoped also for the presence of Mr. R., who was expected to come up from Alexandria; but the train failed to bring him. Mr. Thayer also invited Sir James Outram, but he is too unwell to come, although expressing himself pleased with the invitation. The landlord of the hotel where the consul-general is staying (Hotel des Ambassadeurs) was very proud of the occasion, and the entertainment, although simple, was elegant. An oval table was found of exactly the right size to seat eight. Buckle was in excellent spirits, and, as before, was the life of the party. We had been terribly afraid lest he and Hekekyan should get into another long disputation, for the excellent Bey has fortified himself with new materials; but the ladies were taken into our confidence to aid in turning the conversation, if it should be necessary, all of which made a great deal of entertainment; but there proved to be no occasion for anything of the sort.
Buckle told some capital stories: among them, one against Alison, almost too good to be true, namely, that in the first edition of his History he mentioned among the causes of the French Devolution "the timber-duty," because he had read in a French pamphlet that there were popular discontents about the droits de timbre.[A] Alison's History, he said, is the very worst that ever was written. He cited a good definition, (Addison's, I believe,) that "fine writing is that which is true without being obvious." In the course of the conversation, in which, as before, Buckle touched points in the whole circle of literature and science, giving us quotations even in Hebrew from the Talmud and the Bible, he made a very pretty compliment to our host, introduced as adroitly as from the lips of a professed courtier, but evidently spoken on the moment. It was something in this way. Hekekyan and Buckle were in an argument, and Buckle said, "Ah, you mistake a necessary condition for the cause." "What is cause but necessary condition?" asked Hekekyan. "Very different: two men can't fight a duel without meeting, but every two men who meet don't fight a duel." "But they couldn't fight a duel without meeting," persisted Hekekyan. "Yes," rejoined Buckle; "but the meeting isn't the cause of the duel. Why, there could not be a dinner-party, unless the company met; but our meeting here to-day isn't the cause of the dinner: the cause of the dinner is the kindness of our host." "Or rather, of the landlord," said N. "Oh, no! of the American government," said C. "Ah," said Buckle, "those things are not the cause: the cause of our good dinner, I maintain, is only the charming hospitality of the consul-general." Is not this metaphysics made easy, and prettily employed?
[Footnote A: It is fair to say that an examination of the chapter on the causes of the French Revolution, in several editions of Alison's History, including the first, gives this story no support.]
After dinner we had tea and coffee; the ladies, in Egypt, could scarcely do less than allow tobacco, and Mr. Buckle particularly enjoyed some choice cigars which T. was able to offer him. The party did not break up until nearly midnight, when all the guests retired together.
February 11th. To my pleasure, the train from Alexandria yesterday afternoon brought Mr. B., of New York, and his very agreeable family, with whom I crossed the Atlantic in the Persia last October. They went at first to another hotel, but to-day they have determined to come to that at which we are staying. I called upon them on their arrival, and asked the gentlemen to join us at dinner, and afterwards in going, in company with Mr. Buckle, whom Mr. Thayer had previously invited, to attend a fantasia, or exhibition of singing and dancing, by Arab professionals, at the house of Mr. Savallan, a wealthy French banker, who has lived a long time in the Levant and has in some degree adopted Oriental customs. He has lately sold to the Viceroy a tooth-brush, comb, and hair-brush, for the handsome price of fourteen thousand dollars. They were doubtless richly set with jewels; but the profit on these transactions is immense. Mr. B. accepted the invitation for dinner, and Mr. W. joined us afterwards.
At dinner I was seated next to Mr. Buckle, and thus had an opportunity for private conversation. He asked about American books, and told me his opinion of those he had read. He said that Quincy's History of Harvard University was the latest book on America he received before leaving England. He preferred Kent's exposition of the United States Constitution to Story's, although this also he had consulted and used. He had not seen Mr. Charles Francis Adams's complete edition of the works of his grandfather, nor Parton's Life of Jackson, both of which I begged him to read, particularly the chapters in the former in which are traced the steps in the progress of making the American Constitutions. He told me about his library in London, which is surpassed (among private libraries) only by that belonging to Mr. Van de Weyer, the Belgian Minister, whose wife is the daughter of our Bostonian Mr. Bates, of Barings. Buckle has twenty-two thousand volumes, all selected by himself; and he takes great pleasure in them. He spends eight or nine hundred pounds a year upon his library. He owns copies of all the books referred to in his History; some of them are very old and rare. He also possesses a considerable collection, made likewise by himself, of curiosities in natural history; he has added largely to it in Egypt, where, in fact, he has been buying with open hands. He said he could not be perfectly happy in leaving the country, if obliged to go away without a crocodile's egg, a trophy which as yet he has been unable to obtain.
He told me his plan of travel in America. He will not set out until our domestic troubles are composed, for he desires to see the practical working of our institutions in their normal state, not confused and disturbed by the excitements of war. He would go first to Boston and New York, the intellectual and commercial heads (as he said) of the republic,—and to Washington, the political capital. He would then like to pass from the Northern into the Southern States, but asked if he could travel safely in the latter, in view of his extreme opinions in detestation of slavery. I assured him that nobody would dare to molest one so well known, even if our war did not abate forever the nuisance of lynching, to say nothing of its probable effect in promoting the extinction of slavery. From the Southern States he said he would wish to pass into Mexico, thence to Peru and to Chili; then to cross the Pacific Ocean to Japan, to China, to India, and so back by the overland route to England. This magnificent scheme he has seriously resolved upon, and proposes to devote to it two or three years. He undertakes it partly for information and partly for relaxation of his mental faculties, which he has injured by overwork, and which imperatively demand repose. He asked many questions with regard to matters of detail,—whether he would find conveyance by steamers in the Pacific, and of what sort would be the accommodations in them and in sailing-vessels. He asked at what season he had best arrive in the United States, and whether he had better land at New York or at Boston. Boston he said he regarded as "the intellectual head of the country, and New York, you know, for trade." I answered his questions as well as I could, and told him he must not omit seeing our Western country, and some of the new cities, like Chicago. He asked me if I knew "a Mrs. Child," who had written him a letter and sent him her book about the history of religion. I knew of course that he meant "The Progress of Religious Ideas," by Mrs. L. Maria Child. He had been pleased with the letter, and with the book.
The conversation becoming general, Mr. B., of New York, told a story of an old Congressional debate in which John Randolph derisively compared Edward Everett to Richelieu: Buckle at once said he should regard it as a compliment of the very highest kind to be compared to Richelieu. You will smile, perhaps, if I tell you that I could not resist asking Buckle if he had read Dumas's historical novels, and he said he had not, although he had felt an inclination to do so. He asked one or two questions about them, and gave a rapid generalization of the history of France at that time.
This conversation at the dinner-table of course was by far the pleasantest part of the evening, for the fantasia did not amount to much, although the house was a fine one, the host most cordial, and the novelty of the entertainment was enjoyable.
February 12th. Mr. Buckle called upon T. and myself in the afternoon, and sat talking between two and three hours. I wish I could give you a full report of all that he said. He told us of the only lecture he ever delivered; it was before the Royal Institution, March 19, 1858, and was printed in "Fraser's Magazine" for April, just afterwards. It may be found reprinted in America in "Littell's Living Age," No. 734. The subject was "The Influence of Women on the Progress of Knowledge." Murchison, Owen, and Faraday told him afterwards, separately, that they were perfectly satisfied with it, which is certainly a strong combination of authority. He told us all about his education, which is interesting, for he has been most truly self-taught. When he was a boy, he was so delicate that it was thought he could not live; the celebrated Dr. Abernethy, who was a particular friend of his father, saw how important it was to keep him from mental excitement, and begged that he might not be troubled by lessons. Accordingly, he was never sent to school at any time, except for a brief period to a clergyman who had directions not to make him study; and he was never regularly taught anything. Until eight years of age he hardly knew his letters. At the age of fifteen he found out Shakespeare and read it with great zest. At seventeen he conceived the plan of his book, and resolved to do two things to make himself fit to write it: first, he resolved to devote four hours a day to the study of physical science, in order that he might be able fully to understand and to unfold its relations with history; secondly, he resolved to devote an equal portion of each day to the study of English composition and practice in writing, in order that he might be able to set forth his opinions with force and perspicuity. To these resolutions he adhered for twelve years. Every day, after breakfast, he shut himself up for four hours with his experiments and his investigations; and afterwards devoted four hours to analyzing the style of the best English authors, inquiring (as he said) "where it was that I wrote worse than they." He studied not only in England, but in Germany and other European countries. He learned all the languages which he knows (and he knows nearly all I ever heard of) without the aid of a master in any, excepting German, in which he began with a master, but soon dismissed him, because he hindered more than he helped. He read Hebrew with a Jewish rabbi, but that was after he had learned the language. He considers the knowledge of languages valuable only as the stepping-stone to other learning, and spoke with contempt of a person in Egypt who was mentioned to him as speaking eight languages familiarly.
"Has he done anything?"
"Then he is only fit to be a courier."
Buckle is not a university-man, although both his father and grandfather were educated at Cambridge.
He has long since abandoned the practice of writing at night, and now does not put pen to paper after three o'clock in the afternoon. When at home, in London, he walks every day, for about an hour and a half, at noon; frequently dines out and reads perhaps an hour after coming home. He goes exclusively to dinner-parties, because they take less time than others. When he is engaged in composition, he walks about the room, sometimes excitedly, his mind engrossed with his subject, until he has composed an entire paragraph, when he sits down and writes it, never retouching, nor composing sentence by sentence, which he thinks has a tendency to give an abrupt and jerky effect to what is written. Traces of this, he thinks, may be found in Macaulay's style.
Mr. Thayer showed him the little stock of books he happened to have with him at Cairo. Mr. Buckle looked them over with interest, expressing his opinions upon them. One of them, Mr. Bayle St. John's little book on the Turkish question, he borrowed, although he said that he denied himself all reading on this journey, undertaken for mental rest, and had brought no books with him. We got upon the inevitable subject of international copyright, which he discussed in a spirit of remarkable candor. His own experience was this: that the Messrs. Appleton reprinted his first volume without compensation, asking him to furnish materials for a prefatory memoir, of which request he took no notice; afterwards, when the second volume was published, they sent him something, I believe fifty pounds. In due course of time, receiving a request from Theodore Parker to that effect, he wrote a letter to aid him in the preparation of a memoir for the Messrs. Appleton's Cyclopaedia.[B]
[Footnote B: In this memoir it is stated that Mr. Buckle was born at Lee, November 24,1822. If this date be correct, his age, at the time of his death at Damascus, May 29, 1862, fell short of forty years by five days less than six months. In conversation, however, at this time, February, 1862, he spoke of his age as thirty-eight, notwithstanding the surprise that was expressed, for he appeared several years older. Mr. Glennie, in his letter describing the circumstances of Mr. Buckle's death, mentions his age as thirty-nine.]
I pointed out to Mr. Buckle the very important distinction between copyright for the British author and monopoly for the British publisher. I told him that the American people and their representatives in Congress would not have the least objection to paying a trifling addition to the cost of books, which would make, upon the immense editions sold of the popular books, a handsome compensation to the foreign authors,—but that they have very decided objections to the English system of enormously high prices for books. I instanced to him several books which can be bought in the United States for a quarter or half a dollar, while in England they cannot be purchased for less than a guinea and a half, that is, for seven or eight dollars,—although the author gains very little by these high prices, which, indeed, would be absolutely prohibitory of the circulation of the books in the United States. And since the great literary market of the United States has been created at the public expense, by the maintenance of the system of universal education, it is perhaps not unreasonable that our legislators should insist upon preserving, by the competition among publishers, the advantages of low prices of books, in pursuance of a policy which looks to a wide circulation. In Great Britain the publishers follow a different policy and insist on selling books at high prices to a comparatively small circle of readers.
Mr. Buckle was kind enough to listen attentively to this sort of reasoning and had the candor to admit that it is entitled to some degree of weight. Indeed, he said at once that he had earnestly wished to bring out a cheap edition of his own book in England, omitting the notes and references, for the use of the working-classes, of whose appreciation, as I have previously mentioned, he had received many gratifying proofs; he had made his arrangements for this purpose, but was prevented from carrying them out by the opposition of his publishers, who objected that such an edition would injure their interest in the more costly edition. But Mr. Buckle freely declared that he would, in his circumstances, rather forego the profit on the sale of his book than restrict its circulation.
I may, perhaps, be permitted to mention that another English author related to me his home experience, precisely to the same effect, in which the vested interests of his publishers thwarted him in his wish to publish an edition of his writings at a low price for general circulation. It is quite certain that the British public must themselves be disenthralled from the tyranny of high prices with which they are now burdened, before they can ask to bring another land under the dominion of their exclusive system in literature.
This conversation led to a description of the reading public in America,—of the intelligence and independence of our working-people,—of their habits of life and of thought,—about which Buckle manifested great interest, asking many intelligent questions.
Mr. Buckle is in easy circumstances, and attends personally to the management of his money. He finds no difficulty in letting it upon first-class mortgages, at five per cent., and does not expect a higher rate of interest.
February 13th. To-night there was a religious celebration, including an illumination, in the mosque at the Citadel. We had expected to go and see it; and Mr. T. had invited Mr. B. and his party, as well as Mr. Buckle, and the two lads by whom he is accompanied in his journeyings, to go with us. These young gentlemen are sons of a dear friend of Mr. Buckle's, no longer living.
But at the last moment before dinner the advice was strongly given on all sides that we should not go, lest some bigoted Mussulmans should take offence, and there might be a disturbance. Not long ago, a party of Englishmen behaved very badly in the mosque on a similar occasion, from which has resulted a disturbed state of feeling. It of course cannot be pleasant to people of any religious belief to have their ceremonies made a spectacle for curiosity; and although the moudier (mayor of the city) promised ample protection, the plan was given up, and the company being gathered, we had a pleasant evening together. The presence of the ladies of Mr. B.'s party gave the opportunity to see Mr. Buckle again under the inspiration of ladies' society, which he especially enjoys, and in the lighter conversation suited to which he shines with not less distinction than when conversing upon abstruse topics.
In the course of the evening, in the midst of conversation in which he was taking an animated part, Mr. Buckle exhibited symptoms of faintness. Fresh air was at once admitted to the room, which was full of cigar-smoke; water and more powerful restoratives were brought, but these he declined. After a few minutes' repose upon the divan, he declared that he was perfectly recovered, and half an hour afterwards took his leave with the boys. We were quite anxious until we heard that he had safely reached his boat, in which he is still living.
February 14th. Returning from the Turkish bath, I found a valentine in the shape of a telegraphic despatch only thirteen days from Boston,—thirty-six hours from Liverpool. It was dated at Boston the 1st, forwarded from Liverpool at 10 A.M. of the 13th, and reached Alexandria at 11.55 A.M. of the 14th, whence it was transmitted to Cairo without delay. This is almost equal to the Arabian Nights. The distance travelled by the despatch is about six thousand miles.
February 15th. This day we had an excursion to the Petrified Forest. It was got up partly to give us all a taste of camel-riding, and it was originally expected that everybody would go on camels; then it was agreed that half should go on camels, and "ride-and-tie." In this view, one camel and one donkey were ordered for T. and myself. But Mr. B. was subsequently persuaded that with four horses he could have a carriage dragged through the desert to the forest, which would be more comfortable for the ladies; and he made that arrangement in his own and their behalf. Freddy B. is a first-rate horseman, and an Arab steed was ordered for him. Mr. Buckle was determined to go in a thing called a mazetta, a sort of huge bedstead with curtains, borne on the back of a camel, big enough to carry a small family, in which he expected to find room for himself and the two boys travelling with him. Besides these, the party included the Reverend Mr. Lansing, the excellent head of the American mission here, the Honorable W.S., a young Englishman, and his tutor, the Reverend Mr. S., whose agreeable company had been bespoken when the camel-project was in full strength.
On looking down from the balcony at the transportation-train marshalled for the occasion, amid the admiring gaze of all the idlers of Cairo, I was at first a little chagrined to find, as the final result of the various arrangements, that, besides the camels, the mazetta, the carriage-and-four, and the proud-stepping horse, there appeared but one donkey, that selected for me. But I was, in truth, very well off. To begin with, it was not thought prudent that Mr. Buckle should use the mazetta until the procession had got beyond the narrow streets of Cairo, lest the camel bearing it should take fright and knock the whole thing to pieces against the wall of a house. Accordingly, he and his charges took donkeys, and I rode off with them, at the head of the column. By-and-by Mr. Buckle changed to the conveyance originally proposed, but a very short experiment (literally, I suspect) sickened him of the mazetta, whose motion is precisely that of a ship in a storm, and he sent back to the town for donkeys. At the next halt the ladies took him into the carriage, where he found himself, as he said, "in clover," and that was the end of his greatness in camel-riding. This remark, by the way, suggested a name ("Clover") for our boat in our voyage up the Nile just afterwards; but patriotism prevailed, and we named her "Union." It pretty soon appeared that the camel which T. was riding was young and frisky; the animal was accordingly pronounced unsafe, and T. changed to a donkey which had fortunately been brought along for a reserve. The Honorable W.S.'s camel, from the saddle becoming unfastened, pitched rider and saddle to the ground, a fall of five or six feet: fortunately no harm was done, and he bravely mounted again. The saddle upon the camel which the Reverend Mr. S. rode split in two, and the seat must have been a torture; but he bore it like a martyr, never flinching. But camel-stock had so far depreciated, and donkeys gone up, that I was able to try as much as I liked of camel-riding now and then, at the same time obliging a friend by the use of my donkey meanwhile. Riding a camel at a walk is the same sort of thing as riding a very hard-trotting horse without stirrups, and with no chance to grasp the animal fairly to hold your seat. When the camel trots, you may imagine yourself on a treadmill.
The journey to the forest, about ten miles, was safely accomplished. We found the petrifactions duly wonderful. An excellent luncheon was laid out, after which we had an hour and a half of very entertaining conversation, in which Mr. Buckle and Rev. Mr. S. held the leading parts,—all around us as desolate and silent as one could imagine. It was interesting to observe the manner in which Buckle estimated eminent names, grouping them in some instances by threes, a favorite conceit with him. John Stuart Mill, of all living men, he considers as possessing the greatest mind in the world. Aristotle, Newton, and Shakspeare are the greatest the world has produced in past times. Homer, Dante, and Shakspeare are the only three great poets. Johnson, Gibbon, and Parr are the three writers who have done the greatest harm to the English language. Of Hallam he has a strong admiration. He spoke of Sydney Smith as the greatest English wit, and of Selwyn as next to him, and described Macaulay's memory as unequalled in conversation.
For the return-trip, the donkeys generally were preferred. Miss B., with spirit, tried camel-riding for a while, and so did Master F. We stopped to look at the tombs of the Caliphs, and reached the hotel at nightfall, somewhat fatigued, but satisfied with the day's expedition.
February 16th. The morning was gratefully devoted to rest. In the afternoon, attended service at the Mission, where Rev. Mr. S. preached an interesting discourse from John xv. 1-4. On the way home met Mr. Buckle, who came in, and was persuaded to stay to dinner. In speaking of religion, he said that there is no doctrine or truth in Christianity that had not been announced before, but that Christianity is by far the noblest religion in existence. The chief point of its superiority is the prominence it gives to the humane and philanthropic element; and in giving this prominence lies its originality. He believes in a Great First Cause, but does not arrive at his belief by any process of reasoning satisfactory to himself. Paley's argument, from the evidence of design, he regards as futile: if the beauty of this world indicates a creating cause, the beauty of that great cause would suggest another, and so on. He believes in a future state, and declared most impressively that life would be insupportable to him, if he thought he were forever to be separated from one person,—alluding, it is probable, to his mother, to whose memory he dedicates the second volume of his book.[C] He has no doubt that in the future state we shall recognize one another; whether we shall have the same bodies he has no opinion, although he regards matter as indestructible. He declares himself unable to form any judgment as to the mode of future existence. Religion, he says, is on the increase in the world, but theology is declining.
[Footnote C: The words he uses are,—"To the memory of my mother I consecrate this volume."]
Mr. Buckle characterized as the sublimest passage in Shakspeare the lines in the "Merchant of Venice,"—
"Look how the floor of heaven Is thick inlaid with patines of bright gold! There's not the smallest orb which thou behold'st But in his motion like an angel sings, Still quiring to the young-eyed cherabims: Such harmony is in immortal souls! But whilst this muddy vesture of decay Doth grossly close it in, we cannot hear it."
Mr. Thayer suggested the similarity between the closing part of this passage, about our deafness to the music of the stars, owing to the "muddy vesture," and the sonnet of Blanco White which speaks of the starry splendors to which our eyes are blinded by the light of day:—
"Mysterious Night! when our first parent knew Thee, from report divine, and heard thy name, Did he not tremble for this lovely frame, This glorious canopy of light and blue? Yet 'neath the curtain of translucent dew, Bathed in the rays of the great setting flame, Hesperus with the host of heaven came, And lo! creation widened in man's view. Who could have thought such darkness lay concealed Within thy beams, O Sun? or who could find, Whilst fly and leaf and insect stood revealed, That to such countless orbs thou mad'st us blind? Why do we, then, shun Death with anxious strife? If Light can thus deceive, wherefore not Life?"
Mr. Buckle seemed to be struck by the comparison. He proceeded to speak of Blanco White's memoirs as painfully interesting, and said that he had always liked Archbishop Whately for adhering to White after the desertion of the latter by old friends on account of his change of belief.
* * * * *
The next few days were occupied in preparations for the voyage up the Nile in company with my New York friends. Mr. Buckle had very kindly taken great interest in our plans, and had earnestly advised me to go. "You will do very wrong indeed," he said, "if you do not go." On the 19th of February we embarked; and as we saluted his boat, lying just below us in the Nile, while our own shoved off, I little thought that I should never see him again,—that his brilliant career was so shortly to come to an untimely end. The serious conversation just recorded was the last in which I took part with him.