"Klosterheim" is from beginning to end only the development, through regular stages, of an intricately involved mystery of this subtile nature. Oftentimes De Quincey deals with the horrid tragedy of murder; but the mere fact of a murder, however shocking, was not sufficient to arrest him. With the celebrated Williams murders, on the contrary, he was entirely taken up, since these proceeded in accordance with designs not traceable to the cursory glance, but which tasked the skill of a decipherer to interpret and reduce to harmony. Here were murders that revolved musically, that modulated themselves to master-principles, and that at every stage of progress sought alliance with the hidden mysteries of universal human nature. I know of no writer but De Quincey who invests mysteries of this tragic order with their appropriate drapery, so that they shall, to our imaginations, unfold the full measure of their capacities for striking awe into our hearts.
This sort of mystery is always connected with dreams. They owe their very existence to darkness, which withdraws them from the material limitations of every-day life; they are shifted to an ideal proscenium; their dramatis personae, however familiar nominally, and however much derived from material suggestions, are yet in all their motions obedient to an alien centre as opposite as is possible to the ordinary centre about which the mere mechanism of life revolves. We should therefore expect beforehand in De Quincey an overruling tendency towards this remote architecture of dreams. The careful reader of his "Autobiographic Sketches" will remember, that, at the early age of seven, and before he knew of even the existence of opium, the least material hint which bordered on the shadowy was sufficient to lift him up into aerial structures, and to lead his infant footsteps amongst the clouds. Such hints, after his little sister's death, were furnished by certain expressions of the Litany, by pictures in the stained windows of the church, and by the tumult of the organ. Nor were the dreams thus introduced mere fantasies, irregular and inconsistent. Throughout, they were self-sustained and majestic.
The natural effects of opium were concurrent with preexisting tendencies of De Quincey's mind. If, instead of having his restless intellect, he had been indolent,—if, instead of loving the mysterious, because it invited a Titanic energy to reduce its anarchy to order, he had loved it as simply dark or obscure,—if his natural subtilty of reflection had been less, or if he had been endowed with inferior powers in the sublime architecture of impassioned expression,—then might he as well have smoked a meerschaum, taken snuff or grog or any other stimulant, as to have gone out of his way for the more refined pleasures of opium.
The reader will indulge us in a single philosophical distinction, at this point, by which we mean to classify the effects of opium under two heads: first, the external, and, secondly, the internal. Properly speaking, all the positive effects of opium must be internal; for all its movements are inward in their direction, being refluent upon the focal centres of life. Thus, one of the most noticeable phenomena connected with opium-eating is the burden of life resting back upon the heart, which deliberately pulsates the moments of existence, as if the most momentous issues depended upon each separate throb. But this very reflux of sensibility will produce great effects at the surface, which are purely negative. This latter class of effects Homer has indicated with considerable accuracy, in the ninth Odyssey, (82-105,) where he notices specifically an air of carelessness regarding external things,—carelessness as to the mutual interchange of conversation by question and answer, and as to the ordinary pursuits of life as disturbing an inward peace. The same characteristics are more fully developed in Tennyson's "Lotos-Eaters":—
"Branches they bore of that enchanted stem, Laden with flower and fruit, whereof they gave To each; but whoso did receive of them, And taste, to him the gushing of the wave, Far, far away, did seem to mourn and rave On alien shores; and if his fellows spake, His voice was thin, as voices from the grave; And deaf-asleep he seemed, yet all awake, And music in his ears his beating heart did make."
By causing the life to flow inward upon a more ideal centre, opium deepens the consciousness, and compels it to give testimony to processes and connections that in ordinary moments escape unrecorded. It is as if new materials were found for a history of the individual life,—materials which, like freshly discovered records, sound the deepest meanings of the present and measure the abysses of the past. Thus it is that the fugitive imagery of sense is interpreted as a scroll which hides infinite truths under the most fleeting of symbols,—symbols which are not sufficiently enduring to call them words, or even syllables of words, since the most trivial hint or whisper of them has hardly reached us ere they have perished. Thus it is that even the still more intangible record of memory, where are preserved only images and echoes of that which undeniably has perished, is revivified and enlarged.
There is, then, in the opium-eater a most marked, a polar antithesis between his every-day life and the central manifestations of his genius. In the latter, there is beautiful order, as in a symphony of Beethoven's; but in the former, looked upon from without, all seems confusion. There is the same antithesis in every meditative mind; but here opium has heightened each part of the contrast. The more we admire the encentric harmonies of inwrapt power, the more do we find to draw forth laughter in the eccentricities of outward habit. The very same agencies which undisguised and unveiled the deep, divine heaven, masked the earth with desert sands; and De Quincey's outward life was thus masked and rendered abnormal, that the blue heaven in which he revelled might be infinitely exalted.
Thus is it possible for the seemingly ludicrous to harmonize with transcendent sublimity. We smile at De Quincey's giving in "copy" on the generous margins of a splendid "Somnium Scipionis"; but the precious words, that might perhaps have found some more fit vehicle to the composer's eye, could have found no deeper place in our hearts. We look at the hatless sleeper among the mountains: his face seems utterly blank and meaningless, and to all intents and purposes he seems as good as dead; but let us ascend with him in his dreams, and we shall soon forget that under God's heavens there exists mortality or the commonplace uses of mortality.
As we ascend from grotesque features to such as are more intellectual, that peculiarity of his character which most strikes us is his inimitable courtesy. Mr. F.,—to whom I am indebted for the most novel and interesting portions of this memorial,—from his own personal interviews with the man, among many other things, retains this chiefly in remembrance,—that De Quincey was the perfectest gentleman he had ever seen.
I take the liberty here of particularizing somewhat in regard to one visit which this friend of De Quincey's paid him, particularly as it introduces us to the man towards the last of his life (1851). Mr. F., curious as it may seem, found but one person in Edinburgh who could inform him definitely as to De Quincey's whereabouts. In return to a note, giving De Quincey information of his arrival, etc., the latter replies in a letter which is very characteristic, and which may well be highly prized, so rarely was it that any friend was able to obtain from him such a memento. The style, perhaps, is as familiar as it was ever his habit to indulge in; and it shows how impossible it was for him, even on the most temporary summons, to dispense with his usual regularity of expression or with any logical nicety of method. The letter runs thus:—
Thursday evening, August 26, 1851.
"My dear Sir,—The acccompanying billet from my daughter, short at any rate under the pressure of instant engagements, has been cut shorter by a sudden and very distressing headache; I, therefore, who (from a peculiar nervousness connected with the act of writing) so rarely attempt to discharge my own debts in the letter-writing department of life, find myself unaccountably, I might say mysteriously, engaged in the knight-errantry of undertaking for other people's. Wretched bankrupt that I am, with an absolute refusal on the part of the Commissioner to grant me a certificate of the lowest class, suddenly, and by a necessity not to be evaded, I am affecting the large bounties of supererogation. I appear to be vaporing in a spirit of vainglory; and yet it is under the mere coercion of 'salva necessitas' that I am surprised into this unparalleled instance of activity. Do you walk? That is, do you like walking for four hours 'on end'—(which is our archaic expression for continuously)? If I knew that, I would arrange accordingly for meeting you. The case as to distance is this. The Dalkeith railway, from the Waverley station, brings you to Esk Bank. That is its nearest approach,—its perihelion, in relation to ourselves; and it is precisely two and three-quarters miles distant from Mavis Bush,—the name of our cottage. Close to us, and the most noticeable object for guiding your inquiries, is Mr. Annandale's Paper-Mills.
"Now, then, accordingly as you direct my motions, I will—rain being supposed absent—join you at your hotel in Edinburgh any time after 11 A.M. and walk out the whole distance, (seven miles from the Scott monument,) or else I will meet you at Esk Bank; or, if you prefer coming out in a carriage, I will await your coming here in that state of motionless repose which best befits a philosopher. Excuse my levity; and believe that with sincere pleasure we shall receive your obliging visit.
"Ever your faithful servant,
"THOMAS DE QUINCEY."
In order to appreciate the physical powers of him who proposed a walk of the distance indicated in the letter, we must remember that he was then just sixty-six years plus ten days old. He was now living with his daughters, in the utmost simplicity. On his arrival, Mr. F. found De Quincey awaiting him at the door of his cottage,—a short man, with small head, and eyes that were absolutely indescribable as human features, with a certain boyish awkwardness of manner, but with the most urban-like courtesy and affability. From noon till dark, the time is spent in conversation, continued, various, and eloquent. What a presence is there in this humble, unpretending cottage! And as the stream of Olympian sweetness moves on, now in laughing ripples, and again in a solemn majestic flood, what a past do we bring before ourselves! what a present! For this is he that talked with Coleridge, that was the friend of Wilson,—and—what furnishes a more sublime suggestion—this is he that knows by heart the mountain-fells and the mysterious recesses of hidden valleys for miles around; and we think, if he could convey us from the haunts of this Lasswade of his old age to those which glorified the Grasmere of his youth, what new chords he might touch,—of human love, for there it was that the sweetness of his wedded life had been buried and embalmed in a thousand outward memorials of happy hours long gone by,—and of human sadness, for there it was that he had experienced the reversal of every outward fortune, and the alienations of friendships which he most highly valued. But the remembrances of Grasmere and of youth seem now to have been removed as into some other life: the man of a past generation walks alone, and amid other scenes. And yonder is the study in which he spends hours that are most holy,—hours consecrated to what specific employments is known to none, since across its threshold no feet save his have passed for years. Now and then some grand intellectual effort proceeds forth from its sacred precincts; but that only happens when pecuniary necessities compel the exertion. How is it that the time not thus occupied is spent?—in what remembrances, in what hidden thoughts, what passing dreams?
As it grows dark, De Quincey's guest, having spent most precious moments which he feels ought never to cease, signifies the necessity of his taking his departure. To take leave of this strange man, however, is not so easy a matter as one might rashly suppose. There is a genius of procrastination about him. Was he ever known to make his appearance at any dinner in season, or indeed at any entertainment? Yes, he did once, at the recital of a Greek tragedy on the Edinburgh stage; but that happened through a trick played on him by an acquaintance, who, to secure some remote chance of his seeing the performance, told him that the doors opened at half-past six, whereas, in fact, they opened at seven. How preposterous, then, to suppose that he would let an opportunity pass for procrastinating other people, and putting all manner of snares about their feet! It is dangerous with such a man to hint of late hours; for just that lateness is to him the very jewel of the thing. In mentioning the circumstance, you only suggest to him the infinite pleasure connected with the circumstance. Perhaps he will deliberately set to work to prove that candle-light is the one absolutely indispensable condition to genial intercourse,—which would doubtless suggest a great contrast, in that respect, between the ancient and modern economy,—and where, then, is there to be an end? All attempts to extricate yourself by unravelling the net which is being woven about you are hopelessly vain; you cannot keep pace with him. The thought of delay enchants him, and he dallies with it, as a child with a pet delicacy. Thus, he is at the house of a friend; it storms, and a reasonable excuse is furnished for his favorite experiment. The consequence is, that, once started in this direction, the delay is continued for a year. Late hours were particularly potent to "draw out" De Quincey; and, understanding this, Professor Wilson used to protract his dinners almost into the morning, a tribute which De Quincey doubtless appreciated.
So that it is better to be on the sly about saying "Good bye" to this host of yours. When, however, it was absolutely necessary to be gone, De Quincey forthwith insisted on accompanying his guest. What, then, was to be done? Ominously the sky looked down upon them, momently threatening a storm. No resource was there but to give the man his way, and accept his offer of companionship for a short distance, painfully conscious though you are of the fact that every step taken forwards must, during this same August night, be retraced by the weary-looking old man at your side, who now lacks barely four years of life's average allotment. Thus you move on: and the heavens move on their hurricanes by nearer approaches, warnings of which propagate themselves all around you in every sound of the wind and every rustle of the forest-leaves. Meanwhile, there is no rest to the silvery vocal utterances of your companion: every object by the way furnishes a ready topic for conversation. Just now you are passing an antiquated old mansion, and your guide stops to tell you that in this house may have been committed most strange and horrible murders, that, in spite of the tempestuous mutterings heard on every side, ought now and here to be specially and solemnly memorialized by human relation. A woman passes by, a perfect stranger, but De Quincey steps entirely out of the road to one side, takes off his hat, and in the most reverent attitude awaits her passage,—and you, poor astonished mortal that you are, lest you should yourself seem scandalously uncourteous, are compelled to do likewise. In this incident we see what infinite majesty invested the very semblance of humanity in De Quincey's thoughts: and something of the same remarkable courtesy was manifested by Rufus Choate, who uniformly addressed the lowest of women in the witness-box as if they were every one of them worthy of the most queenly consideration.
Onward you proceed,—one,—two,—three miles, and you can endure no longer the thought that your friend shall go on farther, increasing thus at every step the burden of his journey back. You have, reached the Esk bank and the bridge which spans the stream; the storm so long threatened begins now to let loose its rage against all unsheltered mortals. Here De Quincey consents to bid you good-bye,—to you his last good-bye; and as here you leave him, so is he forever enshrined in your thoughts, together with the primal mysteries of night and of storm, of human tragedies and of the most pathetic human tenderness.
But this paper, already sufficiently prolonged, should draw to a close. It is a source of great mortification to me that I cannot find some very disagreeable thing to say of De Quincey, merely as a matter of poetic justice; for assuredly he was in the habit of saying all the malicious things he could about his friends. If there was anything in a man's face or shape particularly uncouth, you might trust De Quincey for noticing that. Even Wordsworth he could not let off without a Parthian shot at his awkward legs and round shoulders; Dr. Parr he rated soundly on his mean proportions; and one of the most unfortunate things which ever happened to the Russian Emperor Alexander was to have been seen in London by De Quincey, who, even amid the festivities of national and international congratulation on the fall of Napoleon, could not forget that this imperial ally was a very commonplace-looking fellow, after all. But, in regard to physical superiority, De Quincey lived in a glass house too fragile to admit of his throwing many stones at his neighbors. The very fact that he valued personal appearance at so low an estimate takes away the sting from his remarks on the deformities of other people: he could not have meant any detraction, but simply wished to present a perfect picture to the eye, preserving the ugly features with the faultless, just as we all insist on doing in regard to those we love. De Quincey and myself, therefore, are likely to part good friends. Surely, if there was anything which vexed the tender heart of this man, it was "the little love and the infinite hate" which went to make up the sum of life. If morbid in any direction, it was not in that of spite, but of love; and as an instance of almost unnatural intensity of affection, witness his insane grief over little Kate Wordsworth's grave,—a grief which satisfied itself only by reasonless prostrations, for whole nights, over the dark mould which covered her from his sight.
It only remains for us to look in upon De Quincey's last hours. We are enabled to take almost the position of those who were permitted really to watch at his bedside, through a slight unpublished sketch, from the hand of his daughter, in a letter to an American friend. I tremble almost to use materials that personally are so sacred; but sympathy, and the tender interest which is awakened in our hearts by such a life, are also sacred, and in privilege stand nearest to grief.
During the few last, days of his life De Quincey wandered much, mixing up "real and imaginary, or apparently imaginary things." He complained, one night, that his feet were hot and tired. His daughter arranged the blankets around them, saying, "Is that better, papa?" when he answered, "Yes, my love, I think it is; you know, my dear girl, these are the feet that Christ washed."
Everything seemed to connect itself in his mind with little children. He aroused one day, and said suddenly,—"You must know, my dear, the Edinburgh cabmen are the most brutal set of fellows under the sun. I must tell you that I and the little children were all invited to supper with Jesus Christ. So, as you see, it was a great honor. I thought I must buy new dresses for the little ones; and—would you believe it possible?—when I went out with the children, these wretches laughed at their new dresses."
"Of my brothers he often spoke, both those that are dead and those that are alive, as if they were his own brothers. One night he said, when I entered the room,—
"'Is that you, Horace?'
"'Oh, I see! I thought you were Horace; for he was talking to me just now, and I suppose has just left the room.'"
Speaking of his father, one day, suddenly and without introduction, he exclaimed,—"There is one thing I deeply regret, that I did not know my dear father better; for I am sure a better, kinder, or juster man could never have existed."
When death seemed approaching, the physician recommended that a telegram should be sent to the eldest daughter,[A] who resided in Ireland, but he forbade any mention of this fact to the patient. De Quincey seemed to have a prophetic feeling that she was on her way to him, saying, "Has M. got to that town yet, that we stopped at when we went to Ireland? How many hours will it be before she can be here? Let me see,—there are eight hours before I can see her, and three added to that!" His daughter came sooner than the family expected; but the time tallied very nearly with the computation he had made. On the morning his daughter arrived occurred the first intimation his family had seen that the hand of death was laid upon him. He had passed a quiet, but rather sleepless night, appearing "much the same, yet more than ordinarily loving." After greeting his child, he said, "And how does mamma's little girl like her leaving her?" "Oh, they were very glad for me to come to grandpapa, and they sent you this kiss,—which they did of their own accord." He seemed much pleased. It was evident that M. presented herself to him as the mother of children, the constant theme of his wanderings. Once when his daughter quitted the room, he said, "They are all leaving me but my dear little children." "I heard him call, one day, distinctly, 'Florence! Florence! Florence!'—again, 'My dear, dear mother!'—and to the last he called us 'my love,' and it sounded like no other sound ever uttered. I never heard such pathos as there was in it, and in every tone of his voice. It gave me an idea of a love that passeth all understanding."
[Footnote A: De Quincey, at his death, had two sons and three daughters. The, eldest of the daughters became the wife of Robert Craig of Ireland. It was this one, and the youngest, who were present during his last hours. The second daughter, Florence, was with her husband (a colonel of the British army) in India. The two sons were both absent: one in India, a captain in the army; the other, a physician, in Brazil.]
During the next night he was thought dying, "but he lingered on and on till half past nine the next morning. He told me something about 'to-morrow morning,' and something about sunshine; but the thought that he was talking about what he would never see drove the exact idea out of my head, though I am sure it was morning in another world he was talking of."
"There was an extraordinary appearance of youth about him, both for some time before and after death. He looked more like a boy of fourteen, and very beautiful. We did not like to let in the morning light, and the candle was burning at nine o'clock, when the post brought the following letter, which my sister and myself glanced over by the candle-light, just as we were listening to his decreasing breath. At the moment it did not strike me with the astonishment, at such an extraordinary coincidence, that when we came to read it afterwards it did.
"'Brighton, Dec. 7th, 1859.
"'My Dear De Quincey,—Before I quit this world, I most ardently desire to see your handwriting. In early life, that is, more than sixty years ago, we were school-fellows together and mutually attached; nay, I remember a boyish paper ("The Observer") in which we were engaged. Yours has been a brilliant literary career, mine far from brilliant, but I hope not unuseful as a theological student. It seems a pity we should not once more recognize one another before quitting the stage. I have often read your works, and never without remembering the promise of your talents at Winkfield. My life has been almost a domestic tragedy. I have four children in lunatic-asylums. Thank God, it is now drawing to a close; but it would cheer the evening of my days to receive a line from you, for I am, with much sincerity,
"'Your old and attached friend,
"I do not remember the name of G., but the name of Edward constantly recurred in his wanderings.
"Half an hour after the reading of that letter we heard those last pathetic sighs, so terrible from their very softness, and saw the poor, worn-out garment laid aside." Just before he died, he looked around the room, and said very tenderly to the nurse, the physician, and his daughters, who were present, "Thank you,—thank you all!" Sensible thus to the very last of kindness, he breathed out his life in simple thanks, swayed even in death by the spirit of profound courtesy that had ruled his life.
A STORY IN THREE PARTS.
"Here's something Gus Lewis would like to send by you, mother," said my hasty boy John, plunging into the room at nine in the evening, and stumbling over two trunks, three valises, and bandboxes countless.
The floor was strewn with bundles, and the mantel-piece adorned with letters, directed to Springfield, Hartford, New Haven, and New York.
"Oh! ah! yes. Any packages, if not too large," said I, wistfully eying the box, (a foot square,) full of fresh maple-sugar, with its card of direction to "Mrs. Lulu L., by the politeness of Mrs. Prince." Boy-like.
"First of all, my John, go you to bed, where Charley has been this half-hour, and say good-bye, for we shall be off before you are up."
"See, then, father, if you are!" retorted the wide-awake youth, going out of the room in ground and lofty tumbling, and up-stairs in somersets.
"I don't see," said I, pettishly, "how I am to get this bundle into my trunk, nor where in the world this great box of sugar is to go. See! not a direction! but I suppose she is in New York somewhere."
"We shall see her at all events, which is something. I should like to know what she is like,—not to look after her boy for two mortal years," said the Dominie.
"I hope not like Gus. He'd make an ugly woman, with his black hair and heavy eyebrows, and his big, black eyes always staring. He don't look like an American child."
"If we could only say what an American type is. At present, it is a little of everything."
"I mean a New-Englander,—an original American."
"Well, he don't.—What do you say to these trunks? Shall we try again to compress the gigantic genie into the copper vessel? I thought it was a dangerous move, that last one of yours, taking out Tirzah White's quilted coat. And what's to be done with these three packages?"
"Well! we can't sit here!" said I, briskly; "half-past nine already, and only one trunk packed! Never mind. You can put these three bundles in with your clothes."
"Bursting the lock, now."
"How easy 'tis to pack other people's things! But what, then, have you in there,—I mean, besides your shirts, etc.?"
"Imprimis. Eight volumes of Scott's Commentaries, brought by Deacon Boardman. I am to exchange them. They are imperfect. Item. A dozen of 'Sinbad the Sailor,' sent by mistake to the Association, instead of Doddridge. These books won't press nor give, more than sound doctrine; and I must have room for my gown, without which I am nothing."
The clock struck ten, and we were still struggling with unabated ardor to compress Lorana Briggs's shawl, and the flat packages from Burt's, into the largest carpet-bag, that there might be room for the seventeen letters on top of the minister's luggage, inside the sanctuary of his silk gown.
"We can carry a good deal in your coat-pocket, my dear," said I, cheerfully; for really we seemed to be coming to daylight, a little.
The knocker sounded.
"My galoches at last! Deacon, I can't ask you to come in, we are so untidy; but I couldn't pack as I meant to, this afternoon."
How we dreaded his coming in,—half deacon, half shoemaker, and two-thirds missionary, with his "Panoplist" sticking out of his coat-pocket, and his ears evermore pricked up for the latest news from Bombay! and how angry I had been for three weeks because I couldn't get those indispensable galoches!
It seemed as if he never would go from the half-open door. He reckoned the York folks would stare to see so many patches; he expected ministers down to York warn't quite so carfle and troubled about many things, as they be to Weston; but he added, with a grim joyfulness,—
"We took up a good collection, though, last Sabbath! eight dollars and fifteen cents, clear!"
"Yes, Deacon," responded the minister, with as much heartiness as he could muster, between the pushings, puffings, and pressings at the carpet-bag; "a cup of cold water shall in no wise lose its reward, we're told.—These carpet-bags stretch well!"
"Them poor, dear heathen!" groaned the Deacon.
"Oh, dreadful!" chimed I; "give me that biggest shawl, will you?—no, the other,—Ursula Drury's! Shall we ever finish packing?"
"S'pose ye'll see th' A.B.C.F.M.!—Lucina Rand's put in 'the avails of a hen,'—and Semela Briggs sold the silver thimble her aunt gin her. 'T all helps the good work. I told the Widow Rand she'd ough' to do somethin' for the heathen, so she's gone to raisin' mustard. She said she hadn't more 'n a grain o' that to spare, she was so poor; but I told her 't would be blest, I guessed. Widow Rand's rather worldly-minded, I'm afraid."
A minute more and we should have had Hindostan, Harriet Newell, and Juggernaut. Happily, somebody came for the Deacon, and we were left to our packing again.
This was the second week in May, in the year 1830. We were a promising country, but had not yet performed. Neither railroads, telegraphs, nor cheap postage had been established. Enthusiastic inventors yet sucked their fingers in garrets, waiting for the good time coming; and philanthropic statesmen aired their vocabularies in vain, in Congressional halls, built in defiance of acoustics. Their words rose, their fine sentiments curled up and down the pillars of the temple of eloquence, and fell flat to the floor. Meanwhile human nature travelled by stage-coaches; and postage for over a hundred miles rose to eighteen cents. Not a lover's sigh for a cent less; and it took a fortune for persons of sensibility to exchange sentiments.
The consequence to country-people of this last-mentioned fact was, that everybody who went anywhere took everybody's letters, and, as there were no expresses, added, of course, everybody's packages and messages. And the consequence of this was, that everybody made everybody's purchases, whether gowns, books, bonnets, or what not. It mattered little who did errands, so only they were done. Generally, the one store-keeper bought our bonnets when he went to Boston for his yearly stock of goods, and our one bonnet lasted in those days a year, being retrimmed for winter weather. I remember, too, when our one store-keeper, mingling in the aesthetic conversation at one of our parties, where Art was on the tapis, made a comical mistake, but one natural enough, too,—stating that he could buy, and had bought, Vandykes for ten dollars. We were not thinking of exactly the same kind of Vandyke that he was.
Many a time have I carried in my trunk more letters than the mail-bag did to Boston, and conscientiously finished all the parish's business before touching my own.
A certain amount of self-complacency and satisfaction is felt, and laudably earned, by being intrusted with commissions; and I flatter myself few persons ever set off for New York with such an array of them as I did on this occasion.
Looking over my list, I must confess to a flush of real enjoyment at finding carte blanche for a scarf. "Now, that is something like!" said I. "I can see now how pleasantly an artist feels, or would feel, at an order for a picture,—'your own subject,—your own terms.' Miss Patty Jones knows what is what, and shall be my patroness."
And did I not vindicate triumphantly Miss Patty's confidence? I knew better than to buy her a gray and brown thing, merely because she, too, was gray and brown. I wreathed her with lilies and hyacinths and French green leaves, and she blossomed under it like a rose. If she were not the garland, she wore it, and so borrowed bloom and gay freshness. She extolled my taste to all Weston.
Then Mrs. Eben Loring had concluded on the whole that I should buy her a hat, in Maiden Lane, at the very tip-top milliner's. The thought of my return was somewhat embittered by the prospective necessity of carrying two very large bandboxes in my lap, in case of rain. Rain might not unreasonably be expected in the course of a three days' journey. Think of all the bandboxes that in such a case would be put in at the coach-window by the driver, to be held in the hapless laps of the nine passengers! Almost I was persuaded to leave my own black satin bonnet, and perambulate the streets of New York in my travelling-calash, which looked exactly like, and was nearly of the size of, a "bellows-top shay."
I was thinking of this last sacrifice, when my husband said, in a dreamy, bewildered way,—
"Here are five boxes, mother, two bundles, and the rest of these books. I give up!"
"Give up? Not I! Now, where a man's energies are exhausted, a woman's just begin to show themselves. First and foremost, lock this trunk, and let me put the key in my pocket. That's one thing done, and can't be undone."
He stepped back from the trunk.
"What's this? all your clothes on the floor!"
"Well, yes, my dear, most of 'em. You see, I couldn't leave Zipporah Haven's shawl out, which she sends to her grandmother; and I must put in these bundles of the Burts's, and Mary Skinner's box of linen thread. If my own things are lost, why, they must be replaced, you know, my dear; that is all."
"And we must keep a good lookout, ourselves, that our bandboxes and bundles don't fall off behind," replied the Dominie, faintly.
"Yes; and you can put the small trunk under my feet, and the big basket under your own, and you will keep an eye on my red shawl,—and pray don't lose the umbrella, nor your great-coat, nor your cane. I will, on my part, see to these three small bundles, and my parasol. Doubtless we shall go on smoothly as need be, only I am afraid you won't be able to think up many sermons on the highway. There! I forgot the jar of currant-jelly to go to Ruth Hoyt's aunt! However, we must manage somehow. You are sure our names are down at the stage-office?"
But, like Charles XII., "after Pultowa's dreadful day," when the tale-teller listened for his sympathy,
"The king had been an hour asleep."
I am ashamed to say that I must have lost myself after that, though I thought I was only thinking of the Day of Judgment. But I must have dreamed it, or how should I have thought it the last trumpet, when it was only the stage-driver's warning knock?
It was delightful to hear the knock, and the simultaneous clang of pots and pans which assured us, that, though night had been no night to us, the dark morning would usher in our breakfast with coffee by the faithful Polly. The driver coming in again before we had finished, we seduced him without scruple into taking a cup of boiling comfort, while we guiltily collected the waifs and strays of our multifarious luggage. Many a time I have waited, myself, in the coach, while similar orgies were going on among the unready, so I know just how vexed and impatient the passengers were. But what use to go on without the driver? At last we squeezed into the full stage.
No sooner in than out, however. I was determined not to die before my time, as I was sure to do on the back-seat of an overloaded stage, with nine passengers, besides numerous, because gratuitously earned, children. "For who," as it was sometimes pertinently asked, "would charge anything for a poor little innocent child?" The younger, the more innocent, of course, and the more numerous.
"If you'll set up here 'long o' me, Miss Prince, there's a plenty o' room,—and for you, too, Parson," said the good-natured driver.
Extricating ourselves from the Black Hole, we delightedly clambered to the heights above, regardless of risk, and catching at wheel and step like Alpine hunters. How comfortable the seat was, with the fresh, early morning air blowing freely in our faces! How small the horses looked in the dim light of three o'clock! How oddly the wheel-horses looked, all backs and no legs!—and how mysteriously many were the reins that were tied round and round the iron lantern-rod!
"Just let me put the mail-bag under your feet, Miss Prince. Here we are, now, all right, and nothin' to do but go along!"
"Come up! come! come!"
But in vain were caresses; in vain were chirrups, duckings, and kisses, wafted to the nigh leader. Like the rebellious South of to-day, he had taken his attitude, and stood now on four legs, now on two, pawing only the dark air, and regardless of the general welfare behind him.
"Now what will you do, driver?" said cowardly I, who, always mortally afraid of horse-flesh, felt on this occasion a strange confidence: partly in the staid, heavy mass of determination beside me, who looked so calm and good-natured; and partly in the queer, elfin look of the beast, who seemed so far off as to have no necessary connection with our safety or ultimate progress. It seemed quite possible for us to get on with the other three pulling, while our demoniacal friend ornamented the occasion by plunges, rearings, and kickings.
Still gathering the reins lightly in his large hand, the stable and sure intelligence beside me calmly chirruped, and then as calmly switched his long whip at the distant rebel brute. How the switching and snapping galled his proud neck! How his black back curved, and his small head tossed! Still, he would not pull an ounce, but just pawed like a fairy horse, or as if he were born to tread on clouds alone, or to herald in the morning.
"He'll start by-'m-by,—he's a devil of a spirit in him, when he doos start," remarked our Phoebus, composedly, giving, through the darkness, the unerring switch every half minute.
What acted on the capricious thing at last,—whether the Inevitability behind him, or the folly exhausting itself, nobody knows; but the "beautiful disdain" left his black back and tossing mane in a moment, and he buckled down to his work with an energy worthy of the cause, and with a good-will that was an example to the other three.
"There! you see he can do well enough, 'f he's jest a mind to! nothin' wantin' but the will! There's a pair on 'em," said the driver, "but I won't never drive 'em together. Staples drove the pair last summer. He says they'd run till they dropped down dead. I guess they would. He's a putty critter enough, and well made, but dreadful ugly. Now, I like that 'ere wheeler!"—he pointed his whip towards the horse below my foot. "She's kind,—that mare is; and she's fast enough, and handsome. Broad back,—short legs,—goes like a duck!"
In such pleasant chat (and why not? for wasn't the driver a cousin of my own?—a man of means,—owning his team,—and with more knowledge of his district than most members of Congress have? Indeed, I believe he's in Congress this minute!) we pulled up hill and tore down dale. Nobody knows a hill by experience but New-Hampshire travellers. The Green Mountains are full of comparatively gentle slopes, and verdure crowns their highest and tallest tops; but the hills of New Hampshire are Alpine in their steepness and barrenness, and the roads of old time made by the Puritans took the Devil by the horns. There was no circuitous, soothing, easy passage. The road ran straight over mountains and pitched deep down ravines, the surveyors having evidently kept only in view the shortest air-line between places.
Sometimes we chained the wheels, but not often. Oftenest we ran down a steep place, and the impetus carried us up the opposite hill. At the foot of a long hill, of a two-mile stretch, the driver generally stopped, to indicate the propriety of the male passengers, at least, ascending the hill on foot. And often the whole stage-load gladly availed itself of the permission. It was handy for the owners of bandboxes, to pick them up from the rocky road, as they tumbled off now and then; and the four beasts, like those in Revelation, said "Amen" to the kindly impulse of humanity that lightened their load, and left them to scramble comfortably from one side to the other of the still ascending path. When they did get to the top of some of those Walpole hills, would they could have taken in the living glory and beauty of the far-reaching and most magnificent landscape!
We had the mails to change at the post-offices, and a seemingly inexhaustible store, intrusted to the care and courtesy of the driver, and surrounding him like a rampart,—of newspapers, bundles, cans, pillow-cases full of dried apples, and often letters.
At the red house near the mill below Surrey, a sweet-looking girl ran out, as we passed, holding her hand forward for a letter, which our driver pretended to drop half a dozen times, on purpose to tantalize her. It was pretty to see her blushing, sparkling face, as the blood danced to her brow with hope, and back with the baffled expectancy to her heart.
"Neouw, Sil, be still! give to me, yeouw!"
If it hadn't been Yankee, it was soft and melodious enough for an Italian peasant. As picturesque, too, was her short, blue woollen petticoat, and white short-gown, that "half hid and half revealed" the unconstrained grace of healthy mountain-nature; and more modest the happy look with which she received the letter at last, and flew with it like a bird back to the red nest.
"A love-letter, I suppose," said I, answering the twinkle of the driver's good-natured eye.
"Wal, I expect 's likely. They've been sparking now over a year. And it's a pity, too, such a real clever girl as that is! She a'n't so dreadful bright, but she's real clever, and ough' to hev a better chance 'n Jim Ruggles."
"A bad match for her?"
"Wal, Jim's a good feller enough, but he drinks. I don't mean to say nothin' agin moderate drinkin'. I drink myself moderately. But Jim's a real sponge. He'd drink all day hard and never show it, without it is bein' cross, maybe, and paler 'n common. Now I say,—and I a'n't no 'reformed inebriate,' nor Father Matthew sort,—but I do say, and will hold to it, such a man at twenty-one makes a poor beginnin'. If he lives, he'll be a poor shote, and no mistake. I'm sorry for the gal."
"Somebody ought to tell her. Why not you?"
"Wal, what's the good on 't? She wouldn't hear a word. When a woman's once sot her mind, don't do no good to talk. For that matter, talkin' never did do much, I'm thinkin',—exceptin' preachin'. We're bound to hear that, Parson," he added, laughing, and with a nod which might seem respectful.
In three hours we had driven thirteen miles. Pretty good progress this of a warm day, and with a full complement of passengers. We had watched the sun rise over Walpole hills, and the specks in the distance where the early farmers were ploughing and sowing. The breaking day, the bursting spring, and all the outward melodies with which the welcoming day rings as we toil on, are so many incentives to appetite, and we are all sharp for the ready breakfast, at six o'clock.
Then, as I am talking of the past, and not of the present, there was time enough: time enough for the comfortable discussion of breakfast, for the changing of raiment among the babies, for chatting in the bar-room, for the interchange of news among the men, and even for glasses of milk-punch. Tell it not in modern Gath that even the Dominie spiced his half-mug of flip with an anecdote, and that every man and woman took cider as well as coffee.
How can I describe the events and vicissitudes that befell us during this journey of three days and a half to New York? Modern travellers, who are, or are not, as it happens, run off the track, smashed up, or otherwise suddenly and summarily disposed of, have little notion of our successive and amusing accidents, and of how they diversified and occupied the mind, so as entirely to preclude the ennui which comes from railroad-travelling, with its ninety-nine chances of safety to one of accident.
That we were tipped out and over repeatedly,—that one of the leaders had fits, (which amiable weakness was understood and allowed for by our driver, who was in hopes the critter wouldn't have 'em that day,)—that the coach wholly collapsed once, letting all the patient passengers into a promiscuous heap of unbroken bones,—this, and such as this, will be easily believed by any New-England traveller who remembers thirty years back. But how we fell so softly that the brains were never damaged,—why falling into ditches at night wasn't an unhealthy process,—and, above all, how the driver's stock of leathern straps, strings, and nails should always prove exhaustless, and be always so wonderfully adapted to every emergency,—that was a wonder, and is a wonder still to me. No amount of mechanical skill, though the Yankee has made machines that almost think, and altogether do, for him, has superseded or exhausted his natural tact, expediency, and invention. With string and nail in his pocket, I would defy the horses of Phoebus to get away from a Yankee, or his chariot to get out of gear; and if Phaeton had only been a Vermonter, the deserts of Ethiopia might to this day have been covered with roses instead of sand. Our driver, though he didn't know his own powers, knew all about Phoebus, and had read Virgil and Ovid by the light of a pine-knot in his father's kitchen. This rude culture is the commonest fact among our mountaineers.
We "stopped over" one day in Hartford, to see the deaf-mutes. Their bright, concentrated, eager looks haunted me long after. I should like to know who would stop anywhere now to see anything! One might as well be put into a gun and fired off to New York as go there now by steam-cars. Line a gun with red plush, and it is not unlike a "resonant steam-eagle." And you would see as much in one as in the other.
But travelling in 1830 enlarged your mind. A journey then was one as was a journey. You saw people, you made their acquaintance, you entered their hearts and took lodgings,—sometimes for life.
Then the country! You saw that, too,—not the poorest part of it, scooting round wherever it is most level, till you pronounce the whole way flat, and are glad to shut your eyes and listen to the engine, rather than have them ache with seeing everything you would never wish to look at!
All these days were full of great, beautiful pictures. From the time we leave the Granite State, with it a wild, fierce grandeur, its long, dreary reaches of unfertile pastures, and its wealth of stone wall,—so abundant that travellers wonder where the stones came from to build it, seeing no lack in the road or field,—from the time we enter on trim, well-kept Massachusetts, the panorama shifts with ever new interest and beauty. We leave the pretentious brick houses, or the glaring white ones, which mark the uncultivated taste of the American Switzerland, and enter for the first time regions impressed with the necessary element of fine landscape, maturity. With and under the old oaks and birches rest the sad-colored houses that have held life and experience,—birth, death, and old historic adventure.
Looking over the broad meadows that skirt the Connecticut by Hadley and Northampton, one seems to see under the distant oaks spectral shapes of Indian struggle, or wandering regicides, hiding their noble heads in caves, or bursting out like white spirits to lead and avenge. The air is peopled with traditions far back from the present, but with which the grave, imposing, characteristic landscape seems still to sympathize.
In two days we emerged from the brown chrysalis of a New-Hampshire spring into the exultant richness of the winged butterfly,—into white, fragrant fields of blossoming fruit, and the odor of tree-lilacs.
In my enchantment at the bounteous panorama that spread out before me in ever varying abundance, I forgot to cultivate any interest in my fellow-passengers, and, except in listening to some communicative old women, might really, as far as society was concerned, as well have been travelling in the style of to-day. Beyond the casual acquaintances I made when rain compelled me to indoor chat, I saw nobody who interested me until we reached Springfield. There, at the top of the first short hill outside the town, after looking back on the white houses standing in the river-mist like so many ghosts in white muslin, I saw somebody whom my prophetic soul announced as a companion, looking wholly unlike a ghost, and very unlike a mist. He raised his hand, just as we were about passing him, as if signalling an omnibus, and our driver suddenly reined in his team.
A full, hearty voice, not a bit nasal, but fresh from the broad chest, showed us a traveller by the road-side, waiting to be taken up.
He sprang with two bounds to the top of the coach, and made room for himself just above us among the countless boxes.
"Don't let me disturb you, Madam All right. Just room for my bag. Go on, driver."
"Fine day," said we.
"A warm morning. I have been walking for the last fifteen miles,—but the sun is too hot for me."
He took off his travelling-hat of weather-beaten Panama, and dried his broad brow with his handkerchief. Then he looked at us with clear blue eyes, and tossed back his curling brown hair. He had a gray travelling-dress, such as everybody wears now, but which was then a novelty; and something in his curt, clear accents, and his crimson lips, and the fresh life in his limbs and action, betrayed that he was not an American. So much the better.
I said he looked sharply at us two. He seemed to have a habit of investigating, at least to a certain extent; and he took us in at once, evidently. A country-parson and his wife. If I say his pretty wife, I will promise faithfully that it shall be the last time I will refer to myself or my prettiness, the whole way, further than may be absolutely necessary; and it isn't every woman who will do as much. For with this man and his belongings I came to have much to do in the course of the next five years. Little thought I, as I heard him chatting soberly with my husband, and nodding from time to time gravely at me, as If to take me into the conversation,—little thought I of the shadow he would one day cast over both of our lives!
He showed us his travelling-apparatus for making a cup of tea in ten minutes, toasting bread, and boiling eggs. It was like a doll's cooking-stove six inches square, a curious invention, new then, and a wonderful convenience.
"With my tea and this," said he, "I can go over the United States. Good bread and sweet butter I can always get at your farm-houses, and I often walk fifty miles together."
We looked and spoke our New-English astonishment. In our part of the world nobody walked anywhere. Everybody, however poor, had a wagon, if not a chaise; and he must be miserable indeed who did not own at least one horse. Nobody in his sober senses demeaned himself to walking. Perhaps it was the climate. Perhaps our fathers instituted the custom, to be as unlike the British as possible,—as they did of making their houses like lanterns, to show they had no window-tax to pay.
This man's hearty voice and healthy frame, charged, as it seemed, with fresh air, jollity, and strength, made us think better of walking. We looked at his six feet of height, his broad chest, and his firmly knit limbs, and fancied how Antaeus gained supernatural vigor from natural contact: he trod the earth with a loving and free step, as a child approaches and caresses his mother. So, too, his voice, and the topics he chose in talking, gave us the feeling of out-door existence always connected with him: of singing-birds, and the breeze of mountain-tops, of great walnut- and chesnut-trees, and children gathering nuts beneath; never of the solemn hush of pines, or twilight, or anything "sough"-ing or whispering: no, all about him sounded like the free, dashing, rushing water. So were his bright blue eyes, merry lips, and wind-crimsoned cheeks, interpreters of his nature. They linked him firmly to the outward. The man's soul was made up of joyfulness, strength, and a sort of purposeless activity,—energy for its own sake. While his energies harmonized with the right, or were exercised in the pursuit of knowledge, one felt that he would have much power for good. But suppose his activities to take a wrong direction, all his powers would help him to be and enjoy the wrong. In either case, his nature would have the same harmonious energy, and the moral part of him would not disturb the balance of his character. He had no special liking for evil, I am sure; yet, according to all the theories, his intense love of Nature ought to have elevated and refined him far more than it had done.
Before we had been an hour together, I had also observed that he was good-natured, impulsive, and, in a sort, kindly,—that he loved himself and his own enjoyment too well ever knowingly to annoy or distress another. There is a little difference between this and kindness. No matter how I found him out. He who runs may read, if he looks sharply enough; and in travelling, people betray and assert character continually. I was also as sure as I was years afterwards, that he would walk rough-shod over heart-violets and -daisies, nor once notice them bleeding under his heel. It was in the grain of the man's nature. He had lived at least thirty-five years, and was too old to be made over into anything else by any experience.
His bag was half full of tulip-bulbs which he had bought and begged, he said. He had a passion at present for cultivating tulips, and was quite sure, that, if he had lived in the seventeenth instead of the nineteenth century, he would have ruined himself twenty times over for a favorite bulb, even without being a Dutchman.
His dominant idea, to which for the first hour he sacrificed without scruple every other, was flowers. I had a mischievous pleasure in professing a similar passion, on purpose to confound him with a description of a Weston flower-garden. If he talked of jessamine and Daphne odora, I talked of phlox and bachelor's-buttons. If he raved of azaleas and gladioluses, I told him of our China-asters, sunflowers, and hollyhocks.
"Ah, now I see you are laughing at me!" said he, good-humoredly, after I had said, that, after all, I could not get up an admiration for day-lilies or tulips; "promise me that I may show you my tulips, and I will promise you that you shall like botany hereafter."
We agreed at last to bury the hatchet at the foot of a rose-bush, which I said I would allow, excused the existence of other flowers. The bulbs he gave me on the top of the stage-coach that day made a revolution in the taste of Weston; and some climbing plants, from his house afterwards, took root in our rude homes, and have displaced the old glaring colors with soft beauty and grace. Before I left Weston, which happened in time, we had prairie-roses, honeysuckles, and woodbine clambering over half the houses in the place, and bouncing-Bets were extinguished forever.
I forgot that we had never heard this man's name, though it did not matter at all. He was a cultivated gentleman, and we had no occasion for introduction. We met freely on that platform, and it was pleasant to us to talk on so many subjects outside of personal interest. He had travelled, and gave us results, in a sketchy, off-hand way, of much that he had observed that was extremely entertaining in foreign manners.
Suddenly his loud, cheery voice rang out,—
"Halloo, old boy, get up here!"
He did get up, a languid, pale man, with sharp features, and a frame so attenuated that I involuntarily placed a soft bag for him to lean against, and removed a cane and umbrella that seemed likely to hurt his bones.
It was about half an hour before I saw that the new man was not at all an invalid, but of the natural gaunt frame and pallid complexion of my countrymen. My eyes had become so full of the fresh, rosy life of the Englishman's face, that the new man's face was bleached and unhealthy to me. I happened to glance back from him to the Dominie, and saw, that, allowing for green spectacles, they were both of a color. We were so arranged on the top of the coach, that with reasonable twisting of necks we were able to maintain an animated conversation, and soon found our account in the new element.
"Where from now?"
"From Niagara, and home by the White Hills."
"And what of the last, or of both?"
"Miss Rugg has fallen into the one, and Miss Somebody has been to the top of the other. Had to be brought down, though. Women shouldn't climb mountains."
"There has been some talk of a road, or practicable path at least, to the top of Mount Washington."
"Never'll be done. Impossible on the face of the thing."
"Nothing is impossible to Yankees, Remington."
"This is. And now, Lewis, whence come you, and whither go?"
"From Weston, and to New York."
Here was a denouement! We looked at him with new interest, and saw at once, such was the force of imagination, the very eyes and eyebrows of Gus Lewis. However, it proved afterwards to be only imagination. When we told him we came from Weston only two days and a half before, the conversation assumed the native style of New England, and for the next quarter of an hour we talked of each other and each other's affairs.' Mr. Lewis was delighted to see us, had stayed only an hour in Weston, and there heard of our trip from Auguste,—profanely called Gus,—took the box of maple-sugar in charge at once, laughed at the boy-like direction without even a surname, and ended with recommending us to go at once to Miss Post's, on Broadway, where himself and his wife were at present boarding. All the particulars of life, character, and relative interests were discussed between ourselves and Mr. Lewis with the relish and zest of compatriots. I had forgotten how close a tie was that of Yankee birth, and how like an unknown tongue our talk was to the Englishman, till we stopped and turned to him to say something, and found him fast asleep. Then I was glad that he hadn't heard my satirical description of "donation-parties" at Weston, nor the account I gave of our two boys, our salary of five hundred dollars, and the various comical shifts we had to make to live comfortably on that sum and support aged parents and graceless relations. Little touches told Mr. Lewis the whole story. I knew very well that Mr. Remington would be entirely abroad about such a social existence as ours in Weston, travel he ever so long or widely.
Mr. Lewis had black eyes and hair, and bent like an habitual student. He had a scar on his right eyebrow, which he had got by a fall, and by which he had saved the life of Mr. Remington, who was a connection of his wife's. This he told us, afterwards, and I amused myself with drawing parallels between his face and his mind. One side was gentle, sweet-humored, sentimental, with a touch of melancholy. The other, disfigured with the scar, seemed to have been turned harsh, suspicious, proud, reserved, and unrelenting. These were many qualities, all to depend on a scar, to be sure; but they generally herd together, and he might be one man or another, as life presented its dark or sunny side to him. To me, he was very interesting, from the first; and my husband was delighted with him. The Dominie starved in Weston for congenial intellectual nutriment. Nobody but myself could tell what a drain it was on him always to impart, always to simplify, to descend, to walk on the ground with wings folded flat to his back, and the angel in him habitually kept out of view. The most he could do was to insinuate now and then a thought above the farming interest, and in a direction aside from Bombay. More than that exposed him to suspicion, and hindered his usefulness in Cooes County.
Somehow, we got talking of Mr. Remington, which we might well do, seeing him there before us, sleeping like a baby.
"That he could always do, like Napoleon," said Mr. Lewis, "and so can accomplish much without fatigue."
"Is he married?" said I.
"Yes. His wife is in delicate health."
I was surprised to hear that he was married.
"He hasn't a married look, has he?"
"You are talking about me," said Remington, waking up. "I felt it mesmerically. And, to give you a good opportunity, I will walk a mile or two. Give me a good character, Lewis. Hold up, driver!"
Springing down, he went on, laughing, before us, now and then calling back to ask if we were nearly through?
"He has not the 'subdued domestic smile upon his features mild', that marks the man who has a wife at home," said I.
"No. He is a man, however, born under a lucky star, and his cup filled with good-fortune to the brim. His self-lordship has been to him no heritage of woe, thus far."
"A certain happiness, but necessarily of a poor quality, comes from being able to gratify our wishes. If he has no more, it is poor enough."
"Do you mean that pleasure must be an outgrowth of pain to be properly appreciated?" said Mr. Lewis.
"Somewhat,—mostly," said the minister; "since the insensibility that protects one from pain prevents also delicate picture. I think, indeed, a rational being must suffer in order to enjoy, after infancy."
"His eyes don't look as if they had been in training of any sort," said I, without knowing what my words implied, till I saw the harsh expression on Mr. Lewis's face.'
"I mean that they have a sort of undisciplined expression, as if he had never been tamed by suffering or sorrow of any sort," said I.
"That sadness is the true human look," said the minister, "the look that redeems us from the mere animal expression of enjoyment. It is the stamp God puts on those He loves. He chastens them; after that, they are no more servants, but sons of the house."
I saw by Mr. Lewis's eyes that he understood and felt this. Also, that from his nature he bought his enjoyments every step of the way of life. How differently his cousin laid hold on the cornucopia of enjoyment, and covered himself with bountiful beauty, drinking in at every sense pleasure! The former, as could be seen too, held his title to happiness by the most uncertain tenure; the nervous quiver betraying, and the sensitive blood witnessing, how keenly he felt and how dearly he paid for every passing pleasure. I remember, as I saw his purple, thrilling face, that I hoped his home-life was happy, feeling that to such a man it must be everything. Yet I was sure, from what he did not say, with eye or lips, that he had not learned religious trust. Still, he did not listen to the mere minister, but to the friend; and there sprang up between the two the corresponding interest and respect belonging to natures kindred in depth and sensibility, though of widely differing experience. In after-years, he who had already attained was able frequently to hold out a helping hand to his younger brother; but now, only a smile and a look told much. This acquaintance of the soul is very fascinating. In the two or three steps we take together, with cognizance and measure of each other, what a long path opens before us of alternate shade and sunshine, and how imagination borders every step of the way with richest heart-blossoms! In friendship, all is glowing and enriching. As it has not the depth of love, it neither anticipates nor requires sacrifice. We do not think of doing or suffering for a friend; but the friend ministers to our weakness, and exalts our strength. He sympathizes gently with our self-love, he magnifies every excellence. He is perpetually charmed, alike with the novelty and the similarity of our experience, and unwearied in comparing thoughts and balancing opinions. All, and more, that he gives us, he receives; and so an incipient friendship is one of the most intoxicating delights of life. What long leaps in acquaintance we took during our first hour, and while Mr. Remington still walked up-hill before us!
"You will probably have an opportunity to see and judge for yourselves of Mr. Remington, as we are together a great deal, and he is a cousin of Mrs. Lewis's. This will be better than for me to attempt a description, I think, and, on the whole, more satisfactory. He annoys me, and offends me frequently; and then I am not just to him, of course. But he is a fine fellow, honorable and agreeable; and with a love of natural science that leads him, for the time, like a dog. Just now, he is wild with floriculture. Last year, it was geology. You will see."
And then, as if he feared to trust himself with his cousin's character, or that it was a distasteful subject for some reason, he turned to the minister, and began talking about Cherry Mountain and the scenery in Cooes.
Mr. Remington called out, at the top of the hill,—
"Now it is my turn! Let me ride, and I will give your character!"
"Oh! we don't need it, I assure you," said I; "we understand him entirely."
"Not a bit of it!" said he, shaking his brown curls; "I am the transparent one."
He stepped up on the wheel-hub to get his bag, and to say he should strike off for Middleton on foot. He would see us very soon in New York, and claim our promise to visit him.
Being relieved from the fascination of personal beauty and presence, with only the impression of character remaining, I was a little ashamed to find how much I had liked, without being at all able to esteem him. It was with a very different feeling that I looked at Mr. Lewis, whose ugly, positively ugly face was being perpetually transfigured with emotion and variety. Without grace of feature or figure, he impressed one as a living soul; and this inward light gave a translucent beauty to the frail, chance-shapen vase, which all Mr. Remington's personal advantages of form and color failed to impress us with. Only dark eyes of un-sounded depth, and a voice whose rich cadences had an answering rhythm in the inward man, showed what his attractions might be, or were, to a woman. We became curious to see Mrs. Lewis, of whom we gained no idea from his casual references to her.
* * * * *
LYRICS OF THE STREET.
From yon den of double-dealing, With its Devil's host, Come I, maddened out of healing: All is lost!
So the false wine cannot blind me, Nor the braggart toast; But I know that Hell doth bind me: All is lost!
Where the lavish gain attracts us, And the easy cost, While the damning dicer backs us, All is lost!
Blest the rustic in his furrows, Toil- and sweat-embossed; Blest are honest souls in sorrows. All is lost!
Wifely love, the closer clinging When men need thee most, Shall I come, dishonor bringing? All is lost!
Babe in silken cradle lying, To low music tossed, Will they wake thee for my dying? All is lost!
Yonder where the river grimly Whitens, like a ghost, Must I plunge and perish dimly; All is lost!
INTERESTING MANUSCRIPTS OF EDMUND BURKE.
Macaulay opens his most remarkable article on Milton by saying, "The dexterous Capuchins never choose to preach on the life and miracles of a saint, till they have awakened the devotional feelings of their auditors by exhibiting some relic of him,—a thread of his garment, a lock of his hair, or a drop of his blood." If we were in the mood, we might take advantage of interesting manuscripts of Edmund Burke, which are now before us, to say something of this remarkable character. But we shall confine ourselves for the present to a passing glance at the manuscripts which have strayed across the Atlantic.[A]
[Footnote A: These manuscripts are now in the possession of the Hon. Charles Sumner, who is also the fortunate owner of the Album Amicorum containing the autograph of John Milton.—ED.]
The authentic manuscripts of Burke have passed through several hands. On his death, they were intrusted to the eminent civilian, Dr. French Lawrence, of Doctors' Commons, and to Dr. King, afterwards Bishop of Rochester. To these two gentlemen we are indebted for the first eight volumes of the London octavo edition of Burke's Works. The career of Dr. Lawrence was cut short by death in 1809. His associate had the exclusive charge of the papers till 1812, when the venerable widow of Burke died at Beaconsfield, and by her last will gave to Earl Fitzwilliam, the Bishop of Rochester, and the Right Honorable William Elliott the entire direction of the printing and publishing of such parts of the works of her late husband as were not published before her decease,—bequeathing to them all the printed and manuscript papers for this purpose. Eight more volumes were published by the Bishop, who died in 1828, a few months after the publication of the fifteenth and sixteenth volumes. Mr. Elliott had already died in 1818. The papers now came into the sole possession of Earl Fitzwilliam, the distinguished nobleman associated with the latter portion of Burke's life, from whom they descended to his son, the late Earl Fitzwilliam, who, in conjunction with Sir Richard Bourke, published, in 1844, the four volumes of correspondence, with a few notes of unpublished speeches.
We have personal reason to know that there are yet other unpublished manuscripts of Burke in the hands of Lord Fitzwilliam, some of which it was our fortune many years ago to inspect. Mr. Macknight, it appears, applied to the present Earl for permission to publish some of those which are preserved in the archives of Wentworth House, but, "out of obedience to the expressed wish of his father, who published all he thought necessary, he declined to sanction any further publication of these documents."[A]
[Footnote A: Macknight's Life of Burke, Vol. III. p. 737.]
There are also letters of Burke which from time to time have seen the light, as they were communicated by their possessors. Among these none equals in interest that addressed to Pitt with regard to his pension, which has been printed recently by Lord Stanhope, in his small, but rich and rare collection, entitled "Miscellanies." This important letter came to light among the papers of Pitt, and has been described by Macaulay as "interesting and very characteristic."
The manuscripts now before us are none of these. They have a history of their own.
They constitute a thin volume in folio, neatly bound, having a book-mark, and arms with the name of Fillingham. Here are four familiar autograph-letters from Burke to his amanuensis, Swift, all of them written from Margate, on the sea-shore, and bearing Burke's frank as a member of Parliament. According to habit with us, the frank of a member of Congress is written in the right-hand upper corner of the superscription, while the old English frank is in the left-hand lower corner. But English law, while the privilege of franking existed, required also that the name of the place where the letter was pasted, and the day on which it was posted, written at length, should appear in the superscription. Take, for instance, the following frank of Burke in this collection:—
"Margate July seventeenth, 1791 "Mr Swift, "Mr Burke's Chambers "4 Stone Buildings "Lincoln's Inn "London.
These letters have been recently published by Mr. Macknight, who says of them that "they show how kind and familiar Burke was to the humblest dependants with whom he was thrown into any human relationship"; they also "show the statesman, when at the height of literary fame, as busy and anxious in sending his sheets through the press, and making corrections and alterations, as any young author with his first proofs"; and he adds, "These letters seem to me quite as important, as illustrations of Burke's private character, as those which he wrote to the Nagles in former years." It seems that the amanuensis to whom they were addressed had at his death other similar letters in his possession; but his wife, ignorant of their value, deliberately committed them to the names, and the four now before us are all that were saved. Mr. Macknight adds, in a note,—"These letters I owe to the kindness of John Fillingham, Esq., of Hoxton, who allowed me to inspect and copy the originals."[A]
[Footnote A: Life of Burke, Vol. III. p. 410.]
Of one of these letters there is an accurate fac-simile, which will be found in the third volume of Mr. Macknight's elaborate biography of Burke.
But the main paper in the collection is none other than the manuscript of the "Observations on the Conduct of the Minority," being the identical copy from which the surreptitious publication was made which disturbed the last hours of Burke. The body of it is in the handwriting of the amanuensis to whom the familiar letters were addressed; but it shows the revision of Burke, and on several pages most minute and elaborate corrections and additions, with changes of sections. Of one of these pages there is an accurate fac-simile in the third volume of Mr. Macknight, who says that "the manuscript was given by Swift's sister, after his death, to the gentleman who kindly permitted him to inspect it." [A]
[Footnote A: Lifo of Burke, Vol. III. p. 700.]
These manuscripts—both the letters and the Observations—all concern the closing period of Burke's life, after the unhappy feud between himself and Fox, to which they directly relate. In order to appreciate their value, we must glance at the scene by which the memorable friendship of these men was closed.
Few political events in English history are read with more interest than the separation of Burke and Fox. They had been friends and allies; but the French Revolution, which separated so many persons in France, reached across the Channel to separate them. They differed so radically with regard to this portentous, undeveloped movement, that their relations, both political and personal, were rudely severed. Burke, in the House of Commons, openly announced this result. He was most earnestly inveighing against France, when he said, "It may be indiscreet in me at my time of life to provoke enemies, and give occasion to friends to desert me." Fox whispered, "There is no loss of friends." Burke for a moment paused, and then exclaimed, "Yes, there is a loss of friends; I know the price of my conduct. I have done my duty at the expense of my friend. Our friendship is at an end." As he finished, Burke walked across the floor of the House, and squeezed himself between Pitt and Dundas on the Treasury Bench. Fox rose to reply, while tears streamed down his face. In the course of his remarks he intimated that Burke had heaped upon him the most ignominious terms. Burke at once said that he did not recollect having used any; when Fox replied, "My right honorable friend does not recollect the epithets. They are out of his mind. Then they are completely and forever out of mine. I cannot cherish a recollection so painful; and from this moment they are obliterated and forgotten."
But the difference was too intense. A few days later it broke forth again. "I complain," said Burke, "of being obliged to stand upon my defence by the right honorable gentleman, who, when a young man, was brought to me and evinced the most promising talents, which I used my best endeavors to cultivate; and this man, who has arrived at the maturity of being the most brilliant and powerful debater that ever existed, has described me as having deserted and abandoned every one of my principles!" Fox replied, but alluded to Burke no longer as "friend", but as "the right honorable gentleman", and said, in a taunting style, that "all he had to do was to repent, and his friends would be ready to receive him back and love him as they had previously done". Burke was indignant. He said,—"I have gone through my youth without encountering any party disgrace, and though in my age I have been so unfortunate as to meet it, I do not solicit the right honorable gentleman's friendship, nor that of any other man, either on one side of the House or the other." [A] This most important and historic friendship was at an end.
[Footnote A:Parliamentary History Vol. XXIX. p. 426.]
The larger part of the Whigs at that time sided with Fox. But Burke turned away from Parliament and politicians in one of the most masterly productions of his pen, entitled, "An Appeal from the New to the Old Whigs." One of the autograph-letters in the collection before us, addressed to the amanuensis, Swift, relates to the last corrections of this tract, and contains the title, arranged for the printer. It is the letter of which a fac-simile is given by Mr. Macknight.
Meanwhile, the difference between the two statesmen became more fixed and intense. The Whig Club declared, "that their confidence in Mr. Fox was confirmed, strengthened, and increased by the calumnies against him." Burke and some forty-five noblemen and gentlemen withdrew from the club. It was then that Burke, in justification of himself and his friends, took the pen, and drew up what his biographer Prior calls the "famous" paper, entitled, "Observations on the Conduct of the Minority, particularly in the Last Session of Parliament, addressed to the Duke of Portland and Lord Fitzwilliam, 1793," which will be found in the third volume of Bonn's edition of his Works.
This paper presents, in fifty-four articles, duly numbered, objections to the course and policy of Fox. It was, in brief, an arraignment of that distinguished gentleman. But it was not intended for publication, at least at that time. It was transmitted to the Duke of Portland, with a letter, asking that it might not even be read at once, but that the Duke would keep it locked in the drawer of his library-table, and when a day of compulsory reflection came, then be pleased to turn to it. Communicated thus in confidence, it might have remained indefinitely, if not always, unknown to the public, locked in the ducal drawer, if the amanuensis whom Burke employed in copying it had not betrayed him. This was none other than Swift, to whom the familiar letters were addressed. Unknown to his employer, he had appropriated to himself a copy in his own handwriting, with corrections and additions by Burke, which seems to have come between the original rough draught and the final copy transmitted to the Duke of Portland. Some time afterwards, while Burke was in his last illness, feeble and failing fast, this faithless scrivener communicated this copy to an equally faithless publisher, by whom it was advertised as "Fifty-Four Articles of Impeachment against the Eight Honorable C.J. Fox." When this was seen by Mrs. Burke, she felt it her duty to keep all newspapers and letters from her husband, that he might know nothing of the treachery, at least until it was relieved so far as it could be. Dr. Lawrence and Dr. King, assisted by the affidavit of Mr. Rivington, succeeded in obtaining an injunction against the publisher on the very day when the tract appeared. But two thousand copies had already stolen abroad.
It was not until Mrs. Burke, on opening a letter from Dr. Lawrence to her husband, learned that the injunction had been obtained, that, at two o'clock in the afternoon of the 15th of February, 1797, she delivered to him his newspapers and correspondence for the past week. He was less disturbed than had been expected. "This affair does vex me," he said; "but I am not in a state of health at present to be deeply vexed at anything. Had I intended it for the public, I should have been more exact and full. Many temperaments and explanations there would have been, if ever I had had a notion that it should meet the public eye." He was justly indignant at the knavish publisher, whose conduct surpassed that of the Dublin pirates, or Edmund Curll. But he was at a loss to know how the publisher obtained a copy. He did not suppose that the Duke of Portland had given up his, and he remembered only "the rough and incorrect papers" constituting the first draught, which, it seems, Dr. Lawrence, about a year before, had paid the false Swift a guinea to deliver back. He had forgotten the intermediate copy made by Swift and corrected by himself.
This illicit publication, especially under such a title, was calculated to attract attention. Its author was dying, so that it seemed to be his last words. Pitt read it with delight, and declared it to be a model in that style of composition. But his latest biographer says of it, that "it may, perhaps, be regretted that Burke ever wrote the 'Observations on the Conduct of the Minority.' It is certainly the least pleasing of all his compositions."[A] In style, it is direct, terse, and compact, beyond any other composition of Burke's. Perhaps, as it was not intended for the public, he was less tempted to rhetorical indulgence. But the manuscript now before us exhibits the minute care with which it was executed. Here also may be traced varieties of expression, constituting the different forms which a thought assumed, not unlike the various drawings of Raffaelle for the same wonderful picture.
[Footnote A: Macknight, Vol. III. p. 532.]
But we must stop. It is only as a literary curiosity that we are now dealing with this relic.
The stranger who enters the nave of St. Paul's Cathedral in London cannot fail to notice the superb pulpit which stands at the angle of the choir. It is composed of rare and costly marbles and other precious stones. But, beautiful and fitting as it is, its greatest value lies in the circumstance which placed it there. It is a memorial, the tribute of affection. It was erected by his surviving comrades in arms to a noble officer of the Indian army. Yet this, from its position a [Greek: ktema es aei], is only one among numberless like monuments which the traveller in England meets at every turn. In public squares, in parish churches, in stately cathedrals,—wherever the eye of the wayfarer can be arrested, whereever the pride of country is most deeply stirred, wherever the sentiment of loyalty is consecrated by religion,—the Englishman loves to guard from oblivion the names of his honored dead. There is in this both a cause and a consequence of that intense local pride and affection by which the men of Great Britain are bound to the scenes of their early lives.
"It will never do for us to be beaten," said the Duke at Waterloo; "think what they will say of us at home!"—and this simple sentence went straight to the heart of every man who heard. What they will say at home is the prevailing thought in each young soldier's heart as he goes into his first fight. And "home" does not mean for him so much broad England as it does the little hamlet where he was born, the school where he was trained, the county in which his forefathers were honored in times gone by. He thinks of his name, henceforward linked with a glorious victory! whispered around among the groups who linger in the church-yard after the morning service. He trusts, that, if he fall nobly, there will be for him the memorial window through whose blazoned panes the sunlight will fall softly across the "squire's pew," where as a boy he knelt and worshipped, or touch with a crimson and azure gleam the marble effigies of his knightly sires recumbent on their tombs. Or he thinks of a place among the lettered names high up on the old oaken wall of the school-room at Winchester or Harrow or Westminster,—that future boys, playing where he played, shall talk of him whom they never knew as "one of ours." For he is well aware that he is making fame not for himself alone, but to be prized where he himself has been most loved and happiest.
We, in this new land of ours, have but a very faint experience of the intense working of such influences upon a people in whom the local association and sentiment are ingrained. We are but just beginning where Englishmen began eight centuries and more ago. Hence our glorifying of the past has been a little indiscriminate, and withal has sought to commemorate events more than individuals. But the last two years have taken us through one of those great periods which, in their concentrated energy, compress the work of years into days, and which mark the water-sheds of history. The United States of 1865 will be as unlike the same land in 1855 as the youth is unlike the child. Life is measured by action, not duration. The brilliant epoch of the first Persian invasion was more to Greece than its slumbering centuries under Turkish rule, and "fifty years of Europe" more "than a cycle of Cathay." We shall look back upon a past. We shall have a truly national existence. It will be but natural, as it will be most wise, that we take heed of those elements which have ever been so potent in strengthening national character. One of these has been briefly hinted at above. Yet it may be undesirable to perpetuate the memory of events in which the whole country cannot participate, which will not for the remainder of this century be thought of by one section without shame and confusion of face, and which will only tend to keep alive the sad old jealousies and hates. We shall be very loath to place our monumental columns upon the fields of Antietam and Gettysburg. We should not tolerate them upon the slopes of Manassas or the bluffs of Edwards' Ferry. When the war is ended, and the best guardian of our internal commerce is the loyalty of the returning citizens to their old allegiance, we shall do wisely to level the earthworks of Vicksburg and Port Hudson. In the city where mob-violence is crushed under the force of armed law, no one cares to keep for a day the crumbling walls and the shattered barricade, though they may have witnessed heroism as splendid as Arcola or Wagram, for they witness also to a wickedness and a terror which all would gladly forget. The only memorial that a wise and high-souled nation can erect after this war will be the single monument which shall commemorate the hour of peace restored.
But while we are debarred from thus recording upon tablets more lasting than brass the story of our mournful triumphs over erring brethren, we are doubly bound in gratitude to keep green the memory of the men who have deserved well of their country in the hour of utmost need. We ought to do this also in that temper which shall look most singly to the noble end of forming heroic traditions for the youth of our future land. I know no place where this can be more fitly carried out than in New-England's foremost university. Coeval with the commonwealth itself, the starry roll of its heroes links it with all the fortunes of our history. Men who sat in the Long Parliament, and who may have seen the Battles of Worcester and Dunbar, took their early degrees upon Harvard's first Commencement-stage. Her sons fought against King Philip, were colonels and captains in the "old French War," went forth in the days of Wolfe and Amherst, and exchanged the lexicon for the musket in the eight years' struggle which gave to the Thirteen Colonies their independence. Alumni still survive who did military duty in the second war with England. The men of Harvard were with Taylor at Buena Vista, and helped Scott in his victorious march upon the Aztec capital. Of these the only record is in the annual necrology and the quaint Latin of the "Triennial."
For the young heroes who dropped the oar and took up the sword, who laid aside the gown for the sash and shoulder-strap, who, first in the bloodless triumphs of the regatta and in "capital training" for the great race of life where literary and professional fame are the prizes, went forth to venture all for honor and country, the Alma Mater surely should have a special commemoration. For her own sake, because of her high responsibility in the education of "ingenuous youth," she can do no less. I will venture to say that not a Harvard man, among all the loyal thousands of her surviving Alumni, but feels his heart beat quicker as he reads the story of her children amid their "baptism of fire." There is a notable peculiarity about this the most purely New-England of our colleges,—the continual recurrence of familiar patronymics. I take up the last semi-annual catalogue, and there among the five hundred names I can almost make out my own classmates of twenty years ago. Abbots, Bigelows, Lawrences, Masons, Russells,—they come with every Commencement-season. Some families have had for every generation in a hundred and fifty years a representative in her halls. There is a patent of nobility in this, such peerage as a republic can rightly confer, the coronet which marks the union of birth and worth. We cannot, we, the Alumni, suffer these our brothers to sleep unhonored. Those who shall come after us, who shall fill our places in dear Old Harvard, shall occupy our ancient rooms in Hollis and Massachusetts and Stoughton and Holworthy, have a right not only to count the academic wreaths which have been won in past days by their namesakes, but also to be taught the inspiring lesson of holy love of country, of highest courage and truth and soldierly virtue.
And how shall this be done? Let these few remaining lines suggest at least one plan. Harvard's chief want is a hall for her Alumni, one worthy, in architecture and convenience, of her children's fame, which Harvard Hall is not. That long, awkward room, very hot and cramped to dine in at midsummer, hotter and more cramped still for the Class-day dances, is just fit for one purpose,—the declamation-exercises of the Sophomore year. Let us have a hall fit for Commencements, for Alumni and Phi-Beta orations, for our annual dinners, worthy of the "Doctor's" poems and the "General's" speeches, with a wainscot, not of vulgar plaster, but of noble oak, against which Copley's pictures and Story's busts may properly be placed.
Then let its windows be filled, as in the glorious halls and chapels of England, with memorial glass. Let one of these, if no more, be formed, of the costliest and most perfect workmanship our art can compass, to the memory of the Heroes of Harvard. It shall be the gift of every class which counts among its members one of these. There, amid the gorgeous emblazonry, shall be read their names, their academic year, their battles.
Or, if this may not be, because our Alma Mater is still too poor or too humble to offer to her returning children such banqueting-place,—if there is no Wykcham or Waynflete or Wolsey to arch for us the high-embowed roof, let us place our memorial in the Library, along its shaded alcoves and above its broad portals. There the bright shadows shall sleep and pass with the sliding day, where the young scholars mused and studied. There the future student, as he walks, shall read as noble a lesson as he can glean from any of the groaning shelves and dusty tomes. There shall be for Harvard her Libro d'Oro wherein she has written the names of her best-beloved.
Some token let us have that they are unforgotten. It was no quarrel of vulgar ambition in which they fell. It was the sacred strife for which the mother armed them when she sent them forth. For her they fought, for culture, generous learning, noble arts, for all that makes a land great and glorious, against the barbarism of anarchy and the baseness of a system founded upon wrong and oppression. We cannot, indeed, forget them while we live to come up to our annual gathering, and see the vacant places amid familiar ranks. There will then be question and reply, saddening, but proud. "He fell at Port Hudson, cheering on the forlorn hope." "He lies beneath the forest-trees of Chancellorsville." "He was slain upon the glacis of Fredericksburg." "He died in the foul prisons of Richmond." We cannot forget them, and we would fain leave the memorial of them to future generations. Their fame belongs to Harvard; for what they learned there could not be other than noble, inspiring, manly. Let Harvard make the plan, and give the call, and all of us, from our distant homes and according to our ability, will offer our gifts with gladness. Let the graduates who have leisure and taste and means, and who are still dwelling under the pleasant shades of the Cambridge elms, come together and take up the matter while love and gratitude and pride are fresh.
WHO IS ROEBUCK?
An inquiring American mind, seeking the solution of this momentous question, would naturally turn to Appleton's "New Cyclopaedia," Vol. XIV., page 131. The inquiring mind would be enlightened in a somewhat bewildering manner by the description there laid down of a little animal, some of whose qualities are thus set forth in the first article on the page indicated above:—
"ROEBUCK. A small European deer of the genus Capreolus.... The skull has a very small, shallow suborbital pit, ... tear-bag indistinct, hoofs narrow and triangular.... The color in summer is reddish brown, in winter olive, with paler shades; inside of the ears fulvous, and a black spot at the angles of the mouth.... It is about four feet long.... The horns are used for knife-handles.... They congregate in small families, but not in herds.... From their strong scent they are easily hunted; though they frequently escape by their speed, doublings, springing to cover, and other artifices.... The roebucks are represented in North America by the Virginia deer."
Inquiring mind, not wishing for researches in the direction of Natural History, albeit the subject of parallelisms is a somewhat curious study and in special cases infinitely amusing, passes on to the next article in the Cyclopaedia.
* * * * *
It is sufficiently obvious that it requires neither fame nor greatness to excite public curiosity. A notorious criminal or an unusually eccentric lunatic frequently gives rise to a larger share of newspaper-comment and general discussion than the wisest and most virtuous of mankind. It must be well remembered by those who have read Tom Taylor's Life of Haydon that a dwarf was attracting thousands to the Egyptian Hall in Piccadilly, London, while the historical painter, stung to madness by the neglect of the frivolous crowd, committed the hideous and ghastly suicide which threw a tragic darkness over the close of his strange and troubled existence. The desperate and dangerous frequently succeed in placing themselves on a bad eminence, from which they are conspicuous enough; and if to be talked of and pointed at be the sole object of their ambition, they can, of course, be congratulated on their success. Virtue may sit in humble and obscure usefulness at a thousand quiet firesides, while the work of the incendiary may be seen to spread widely, and the tumult of his mischief be heard from afar. And so any public man or politician, whose taste is so morbidly depraved and whose aim in life is so debased as to prefer notoriety to honest, useful service, may revel in the questionable enjoyment of being the especial theme of public debate and private conversation. Hence it happens that so many of our fellow-countrymen are at this moment asking the question with which we head these pages,—"Who is Roebuck?"
An unhappy culprit, who combined with an innocent taste for green peas a thievish method of acquiring their usual savory accompaniment, is reported to have been addressed by an English judge in the following felicitous terms:—"Prisoner at the bar, Providence has endowed you with health and strength, instead of which you go about the country stealing ducks." Providence has endowed John Arthur Roebuck, member of the Parliament of Great Britain, with fair talents and some power of speech, instead of which (to use the accurate judicial ellipsis) he goes about using violent and vulgar words of menace against those who have never offended him, and scattering firebrands as if there were no gun-powder anywhere to ignite and explode. This would be a mean and mischievous occupation for the dullest man; but for one who has proved by his very failures that he is not devoid of intellect or energy, it is a monstrous perversion of mental gifts, even if they are small.
A portion of the fiery heat of his nature may be traced, perhaps, to the fact that he was born at Madras; but as on the mother's side he is descended from the poet Tickell, the friend of Addison, it would not be altogether unreasonable to have expected in him some few of the amenities of the literae humaniores. He soon, however, exchanged the torrid scenes of Oriental life for the snows of Canada, where he received his education; and when we remember what the bizarre oddities of his subsequent career have been, it might be interesting, if we had the materials for the purpose, to inquire what that education was. The British Provinces, however, were not deemed a sufficiently ample theatre of action for the energy of the capacious soul that dwelt in that not over-capacious body; and so, at the age of twenty-three, he repaired to England and commenced his studies for the profession of the law.
He was called to the bar in 1832. He had, however, by no means paid an exclusive attention to the study of the law, or his success in his profession might have been greater, and the world might have had a good lawyer instead of a bad politician. The period of his Inner-Temple student-life was a very stirring time in England. Old principles were dying out, and wrestling in death-struggle with newer and wider theories of human liberty and human progress. The young East-Indian Canadian rushed with natural impetuosity into the arena, and was one of the most reckless and noisy debating-club spouters of the day. In speaking of the Reform Bill at a meeting at a tavern in London, he said, that, if the bill did not pass, he for one should like to "wade the streets of the capital knee-deep in blood." It was consoling to reflect, even at the time, that the atrocious aspiration was mitigated by the reflection that it would not require a deluge of gore to reach the knees of such a Zacchaeus as Roebuck. "Pretty wicious that for a child of six!" said the amiable Mr. Squeers on one occasion; and pretty sanguinary that, say we, for a rising little demagogue of thirty.