The next Governor sent by De Poincy to Tortuga was a Catholic, the Chevalier Fontenay. The religion of this stronghold changed, but not its habits. The Spaniards planned a second attack upon it in 1653, and succeeded by dragging a couple of light cannon up the mountain so as to command the donjon built by Levasseur. The French took refuge upon the coast of San Domingo, where they waited for an opportunity to repossess their little island. This soon followed upon an application made by De Rausset, one of Levasseur's old comrades, to the French West India Company for a sufficient force to drive out the Spaniards. De Rausset's plan succeeded, Tortuga passed permanently into French hands, and the Spaniards confined themselves for the future to annoying the new colonies of Buccaneers which overflowed upon San Domingo. But their efforts disappear after a terrible defeat inflicted upon them in 1665, which the Flibustiers followed up by the sack and destruction of Santiago, the town second in importance to San Domingo. Henceforth the history of the island belongs to France.
[To be continued.]
[Footnote 6: This musket was afterwards called fusil boucanier. Fusil demi-boucanier was the same kind, with a shorter barrel.]
[Footnote 7: Histoire des Avanturiers Flibustiers, avec la Vie, les Moeurs, et les Coutumes des Boucaniers, par A.O. Oexmelin, who went out to the West Indies as a poor Engag, and became a Buccaneer. Four Volumes. New Edition, printed in 1744: Vol. III., containing the Journal of a Voyage made with Flibustiers in the South Sea in 1685, by Le Sieur Ravenau de Lussan; and Vol. IV., containing a History of English pirates, with the Lives of two Female Pirates, Mary Read and Ann Bonny, and Extracts from Pirate-Codes: translated from the English of Captain Charles Johnson.—Charlevoix, Histoire de St. Domingue, Vols. III. and IV.—The History of the Bucaniers of America, from the First Original down to this Time; written in several Languages, and now collected into One Volume. Third Edition, London, 1704: containing Portraits of all the Celebrated Flibustiers, and Plans of some of their Land-Attacks.—Nouveaux Voyages aux Isles Franoises de l'Amrique, par le Pre Labat, 1724, Tom. V, pp. 228-230. See also Archenholtz.]
[Footnote 8: Not to be confounded with the Tortugas, the westernmost islands of the Florida Keys (Cayos, Spanish for rocks, shoals, or islets).]
[Footnote 9: Charlevoix will have it reversed, and derives flibustier from freebooter; but this English word is not old enough to have been a vagrom in those seas at that time. Webster derives it from the Dutch Vrijbuiter; but that and the corresponding German word were themselves derived. Schoelcher says that it is a corruption of an English word, fly-boater, one who manages a fly-boat; and he adds,—"Our flibot, a small and very fast craft, draws its origin from the English fly-boat, bateau mouche, bateau volant." But this is only a kind of pun. Perhaps the Dutch named it so, not from its swiftness, but from its resemblance, with its busy oars and darting motions, to a slender-legged fly. There appears to be no ground for saying that the boat was so called because it first came into use upon the river Vlie in Holland. It might have been a boat used by the inhabitants of Vlieland, a town on the island of the same name, north of Texel. Freebooter is such a good word for flibustier that it was easy to accuse it of the parentage.]
[Footnote 10: Pinnaces of five or six tons, which could be packed on shipboard in pieces and put together when wanted, were built in the reign of Elizabeth. The name is of Spanish origin, from the pine used for material.]
[Footnote 11: See a contract of this kind in Histoire Gnrale des Antilles, Du Tertre, Tom. I. p. 464.]
[Footnote 12: Bancroft's United States, Vol. I. p. 14.]
[Footnote 13: Buckle's History of Civilization, Vol. II. chap. 1.]
A COMPLAINT OF FRIENDS.
If things would not run into each other so, it would be a thousand times easier and a million times pleasanter to get on in the world. Let the sheepiness be set on one side and the goatiness on the other, and immediately you know where you are. It is not necessary to ask that there be any increase of the one or any diminution of the other, but only that each shall preempt its own territory and stay there. Milk is good, and water is good, but don't set the milk-pail under the pump. Pleasure softens pain, but pain embitters pleasure; and who would not rather have his happiness concentrated into one memorable day that shall gleam and glow through a lifetime, than have it spread out over a dozen comfortable, commonplace, humdrum forenoons and afternoons, each one as like the others as two peas in a pod? Since the law of compensation obtains, I suppose it is the best law for us; but if it had been left with me, I should have made the clever people rich and handsome, and left poverty and ugliness to the stupid people; because—don't you see?—the stupid people won't know they are ugly, and won't care if they are poor, but the clever people will be hampered and tortured. I would have given the good wives to the good husbands, and made drunken men marry drunken women. Then there would have been one family exquisitely happy, instead of two struggling against misery. I would have made the rose-stem downy, and put all the thorns on the thistles. I would have gouged out the jewel from the toad's head, and given the peacock the nightingale's voice, and not set everything so at half and half.
But that is the way it is. We find the world made to our hand. The wise men marry the foolish virgins, and the splendid virgins marry dolts, and matters in general are so mixed up that the choice lies between nice things about spoiled and vile things that are not so bad after all, and it is hard to tell sometimes which you like best or which you loathe least.
I expect to lose every friend I have in the world by the publication of this paper—except the dunces who are impaled in it. They will never read it, and if they do, will never suspect I mean them; while the sensible and true friends, who do me good and not evil all the days of their lives, will think I am driving at their noble hearts, and will at once haul off and leave me inconsolable. Still I am going to write it. You must open the safety-valve once in a while, even if the steam does whiz and shriek, or there will be an explosion, which is fatal, while the whizzing and shrieking are only disagreeable.
Doubtless friendship has its advantages and its pleasures; doubtless hostility has its isolations and its revenges: still, if called upon to choose once for all between friends and foes, I think, on the whole, I should cast my vote for the foes. Twenty enemies will not do you the mischief of one friend. Enemies you always know where to find. They are in fair and square perpetual hostility, and you keep your armor on and your sentinels posted; but with friends you are inveigled into a false security, and, before you know it, your honor, your modesty, your delicacy are scudding before the gales. Moreover, with your friend you can never make reprisals. If your enemy attacks you, you can always strike back and hit hard. You are expected to defend yourself against him to the top of your bent. He is your legal opponent in honorable warfare. You can pour hot-shot into him with murderous vigor; and the more he wriggles, the better you feel. In fact, it is rather refreshing to measure swords once in a while with such a one. You like to exert your power and keep yourself in practice. You do not rejoice so much in overcoming your enemy as in overcoming. If a marble statue could show fight, you would just as soon fight it; but as it cannot, you take something that can, and something, besides, that has had the temerity to attack you, and so has made a lawful target of itself. But against your friend your hands are tied. He has injured you. He has disgusted you. He has infuriated you. But it was most Christianly done. You cannot hurl a thunderbolt, or pull a trigger, or lisp a syllable, against those amiable monsters who with tenderest fingers are sticking pins all over you. So you shut fast the doors of your lips, and inwardly sigh for a good, stout, brawny, malignant foe, who, under any and every circumstance, will design you harm, and on whom you can lavish your lusty blows with a hearty will and a clear conscience.
Your enemy keeps clear of you. He neither grants nor claims favors. He awards you your rights,—no more, no less,—and demands the same from you. Consequently there is no friction. Your friend, on the contrary, is continually getting himself tangled up with you "because he is your friend." I have heard that Shelley was never better pleased than when his associates made free with his coats, boots, and hats for their own use, and that he appropriated their property in the same way. Shelley was a poet, and perhaps idealized his friends. He saw them, probably, in a state of pure intellect. I am not a poet; I look at people in the concrete. The most obvious thing about my friends is their avoirdupois; and I prefer that they should wear their own cloaks and suffer me to wear mine. There is no neck in the world that I want my collar to span except my own. It is very exasperating to me to go to my bookcase and miss a book of which I am in immediate and pressing need, because an intimate friend has carried it off without asking leave, on the score of his intimacy. I have not, and do not wish to have, any alliance that shall abrogate the eighth commandment. A great mistake is lying round loose hereabouts,—a mistake fatal to many friendships that did run well. The common fallacy is, that intimacy dispenses with the necessity of politeness. The truth is just the opposite of this. The more points of contact there are, the more danger of friction there is, and the more carefully should people guard against it. If you see a man only once a month, it is not of so vital importance that you do not trench on his rights, tastes, or whims. He can bear to be crossed or annoyed occasionally. If he does not have a very high regard for you, it is comparatively unimportant, because your paths are generally so diverse. But you and the man with whom you dine every day have it in your power to make each other exceedingly uncomfortable. A very little dropping will wear away rock, if it only keep at it. The thing that you would not think of, if it occurred only twice a year, becomes an intolerable burden when it happens twice a day. This is where husbands and wives run aground. They take too much for granted. If they would but see that they have something to gain, something to save, as well as something to enjoy, it would be better for them; but they proceed on the assumption that their love is an inexhaustible tank, and not a fountain depending for its supply on the stream that trickles into it. So, for every little annoying habit, or weakness, or fault, they draw on the tank without being careful to keep the supply open, till they awake one morning to find the pump dry, and, instead of love, at best, nothing but a cold habit of complacence. On the contrary, the more intimate friends become, whether married or unmarried, the more scrupulously should they strive to repress in themselves everything annoying, and to cherish both in themselves and each other everything pleasing. While each should draw on his love to neutralize the faults of his friend, it is suicidal to draw on his friend's love to neutralize his own faults. Love should be cumulative, since it cannot be stationary. If it does not increase, it decreases. Love, like confidence, is a plant of slow growth, and of most exotic fragility. It must be constantly and tenderly cherished. Every noxious and foreign element must be carefully removed from it. All sunshine, and sweet airs, and morning dews, and evening showers must breathe upon it perpetual fragrance, or it dies into a hideous and repulsive deformity, fit only to be cast out and trodden under foot of men, while, properly cultivated, it is a Tree of Life.
Your enemy keeps clear of you not only in business, but in society. If circumstances thrust him into contact with you, he is curt and centrifugal. But your friend breaks in upon your "saintly solitude" with perfect equanimity. He never for a moment harbors a suspicion that he can intrude, "because he is your friend." So he drops in on his way to the office to chat half an hour over the latest news. The half-hour isn't much in itself. If it were after dinner, you wouldn't mind it; but after breakfast every moment "runs itself in golden sands," and the break in your time crashes a worse break in your temper. "Are you busy?" asks the considerate wretch, adding insult to injury. What can you do? Say yes and wound his self-love forever? But he has a wife and family. You respect their feelings, smile and smile, and are villain enough to be civil with your lips, and hide the poison of asps under your tongue, till you have a chance to relieve your o'ercharged heart by shaking your fist in impotent wrath at his retreating form. You will receive the reward of your hypocrisy as you richly deserve, for ten to one he will drop in again when he comes back from his office, and arrest you wandering in Dreamland in the beautiful twilight. Delighted to find that you are neither reading nor writing,—the absurd dolt! as if a man weren't at work unless he be wielding a sledge-hammer!—he will preach out, and prose out, and twaddle out another hour of your golden even-tide, "because he is your friend." You don't care whether he is judge or jury,—whether he talks sense or nonsense; you don't want him to talk at all. You don't want him there any way. You want to be alone. If you don't, why are you sitting there in the deepening twilight? If you wanted him, couldn't you send for him? Why don't you go out into the drawing-room, where are music, and lights, and gay people? What right have I to suppose, that, because you are not using your eyes, you are not using your brain? What right have I to set myself up as judge of the value of your time, and so rob you of perhaps the most delicious hour in all your day, on pretence that it is of no use to you?—take a pound of flesh clean out of your heart and trip on my smiling way as if I had not earned the gallows?
And what in Heaven's name is the good of all this ceaseless talk? To what purpose are you wearied, exhausted, dragged out and out to the very extreme of tenuity? A sprightly badinage,—a running fire of nonsense for half an hour,—a tramp over unfamiliar ground with a familiar guide,—a discussion of something with somebody who knows all about it, or who, not knowing, wants to learn from you,—a pleasant interchange of commonplaces with a circle of friends around the fire, at such hours as you give to society: all this is not only tolerable, but agreeable,—often positively delightful; but to have an indifferent person, on no score but that of friendship, break into your sacred presence, and suck your blood through indefinite cycles of time, is an abomination. If he clatters on an indifferent subject, you can do well enough for fifteen minutes, buoyed up by the hope that he will presently have a fit, or be sent for, or come to some kind of an end. But when you gradually open to the conviction that vis inertiae rules the hour, and the thing which has been is that which shall be, you wax listless; your chariot-wheels drive heavily; your end of the pole drags in the mud, and you speedily wallow in unmitigated disgust. If he broaches a subject on which you have a real and deep living interest, you shrink from unbosoming yourself to him. You feel that it would be sacrilege. He feels nothing of the sort. He treads over your heart-strings in his cow-hide brogans, and does not see that they are not whip-cords. He pokes his gold-headed cane in among your treasures, blind to the fact that you are clutching both arms around them, that no gleam of flashing gold may reveal their whereabouts to him. You draw yourself up in your shell, projecting a monosyllabic claw occasionally as a sign of continued vitality; but the pachyderm does not withdraw, and you gradually lower into an indignation,—smothered, fierce, intense.
Why, why, WHY will people inundate their unfortunate victims with such "weak, washy, everlasting floods"? Why will they haul everything out into the open day? Why will they make the Holy of Holies common and unclean? Why will they be so ineffably stupid as not to see that there is that which speech profanes? Why will they lower their drag-nets into the unfathomable waters, in the vain attempt to bring up your pearls and gems, whose lustre would pale to ashes in the garish light,—whose only sparkle is in the deep sea-soundings? Procul, O procul este, profani!
Oh, the matchless power of silence! There are words that concentrate in themselves the glory of a lifetime; but there is a silence that is more precious than they. Speech ripples over the surface of life, but silence sinks into its depths. Airy pleasantnesses bubble up in airy, pleasant words. Weak sorrows quaver out their shallow being and are not. When the heart is cleft to its core, there is no speech nor language.
Do not now, Messrs. Bores, think to retrieve your characters by coming into my house and sitting mute for two hours. Heaven forbid that your blood should be found on my skirts! but I believe I shall kill you, if you do. The only reason why I have not laid violent hands on you heretofore is that your vapid talk has operated as a wire to conduct my electricity to the receptive and kindly earth; but if you intrude upon my magnetisms without any such life-preserver, your future in this world is not worth a crossed six-pence. Your silence would break the reed that your talk but bruised. The only people with whom it is a joy to sit silent are the people with whom it is a joy to talk. Clear out!
Friendship plays the mischief in the false ideas of constancy which are generated and cherished in its name, if not by its agency. Your enemies are intense, but temporary. Time wears off the edge of hostility. It is the alembic in which offences are dissolved into thin air, and a calm indifference reigns in their stead. But your friends are expected to be a permanent arrangement. They are not only a sore evil, but of long continuance. Adhesiveness seems to be the head and front, the bones and blood of their creed. It is not the direction of the quality, but the quality itself, which they swear by. Only stick, it is no matter what you stick to. Fall out with a man, and you can kiss and be friends as soon as you like; the recording angel will set it down on the credit side of his books. Fall in, and you are expected to stay in, ad infinitum, ad nauseam. No matter what combination of laws got you there, there you are, and there you must stay, for better, for worse, till merciful Death you do part,—or you are—"fickle." You find a man entertaining for an hour, a week, a concert, a journey, and presto! you are saddled with him forever. What preposterous absurdity! Do but look at it calmly. You are thrown into contact with a person, and, as in duty bound, you proceed to fathom him: for every man is a possible revelation. In the deeps of his soul there may lie unknown worlds for you. Consequently you proceed at once to experiment on him. It takes a little while to get your tackle in order. Then the line begins to run off rapidly, and your eager soul cries out, "Ah! what depth! What perpetual calmness must be down below! What rest is here for all my tumult! What a grand, vast nature is this!" Surely, surely, you are on the high seas. Surely, you will now float serenely down the eternities! But by-and-by there is a kink. You find, that, though the line runs off so fast, it does not go down,—it only floats out. A current has caught it and bears it on horizontally. It does not sink plumb. You have been deceived. Your grand Pacific Ocean is nothing but a shallow little brook that you can ford all the year round, if it does not utterly dry up in the summer heats, when you want it most; or, at best, it is a fussy little tormenting river, that won't and can't sail a sloop. What are you going to do about it? You are going to wind up your lead and line, shoulder your birch canoe as the old sea-kings used, and thrid the deep forests, and scale the purple hills, till you come to water again, when you will unroll your lead and line for another essay. Is that fickleness? What else can you do? Must you launch your bark on the unquiet stream, against whose pebbly bottom the keel continually grates and rasps your nerves—simply that your reputation suffer no detriment? Fickleness? There was no fickleness about it. You were trying an experiment which you had every right to try. As soon as you were satisfied, you stopped. If you had stopped sooner, you would have been unsatisfied. If you had stopped later, you would have been dissatisfied. It is a criminal contempt of the magnificent possibilities of life not to lay hold of "God's occasions floating by." It is an equally criminal perversion of them to cling tenaciously to what was only the simulacrum of an occasion. A man will toil many days and nights among the mountains to find an ingot of gold, which, found, he bears home with infinite pains and just rejoicing; but he would be a fool who should lade his mules with iron-pyrites to justify his labors, however severe.
Fickleness! what is it, that we make such an ado about it? And what is constancy, that it commands such usurious interest? The one is a foible only in its relations. The other is only thus a virtue. "Fickle as the winds" is our death-seal upon a man; but should we like our winds un-fickle? Would a perpetual Northeaster lay us open to perpetual gratitude? or is a soft South gale to be orisoned and vespered forevermore?
I am tired of this eternal prating of devotion and constancy. It is senseless in itself and harmful in its tendencies. The dictate of reason is to treat men and women as we do oranges. Suck all the juice out and then let them go. Where is the good of keeping the peel and pulp-cells till they get old, dry, and mouldy? Let them go, and they will help feed the earth-worms and bugs and beetles who can hardly find existence a continued banquet, and fertilize the earth which will have you give before you receive. Thus they will ultimately spring up in new and beautiful shapes. Clung to with constancy, they stain your knife and napkin, impart a bad odor to your dining-room, and degenerate into something that is neither pleasant to the eye nor good for food. I believe in a rotation of crops, morally and socially, as well as agriculturally. When you have taken the measure of a man, when you have sounded him and know that you cannot wade in him more than ankle-deep, when you have got out of him all that he has to yield for your soul's sustenance and strength, what is the next thing to be done? Obviously, pass him on; and turn you "to fresh woods and pastures new." Do you work him an injury? By no means. Friends that are simply glued on, and don't grow out of, are little worth. He has nothing more for you, nor you for him; but he may be rich in juices wherewithal to nourish the heart of another man, and their two lives, set together, may have an endosmose and exosmose whose result shall be richness of soil, grandeur of growth, beauty of foliage, and perfectness of fruit; while you and he would only have languished into aridity and a stunted crab-tree.
For my part, I desire to sweep off my old friends with the old year and begin the new with a clean record. It is a measure absolutely necessary. The snake does not put on his new skin over the old one. He sloughs off the first, before he dons the second. He would be a very clumsy serpent, if he did not. One cannot have successive layers of friendships any more than the snake has successive layers of skins. One must adopt some system to guard against a congestion of the heart from plethora of loves. I go in for the much-abused fair-weather, skin-deep, April-shower friends,—the friends who will drop off, if let alone,—who must be kept awake to be kept at all,—who will talk and laugh with you as long as it suits your respective humors and you are prosperous and happy,—the blessed butterfly-race who flutter about your June mornings, and when the clouds lower, and the drops patter, and the rains descend, and the winds blow, will spread their gay wings and float gracefully away to sunny southern lands where the skies are yet blue and the breezes violet-scented. They are not only agreeable, but deeply wise. So long as a man keeps his streamer flying, his sails set, and his hull above water, it is pleasant to paddle alongside; but when the sails split, the yards crack, and the keel goes staggering down, by all means paddle off. Why should you be submerged in his whirlpool? Will he drown any more easily because you are drowning with him? Lung is lung. He dies from want of air, not from want of sympathy. When, a poor fellow sits down among the ashes, the best thing his friends can do is to stand afar off. Job bore the loss of property, children, health, with equanimity. Satan himself found his match there; and for all his buffetings, Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly. But Job's three friends must needs make an appointment together to come and mourn with him and to comfort him, and after this Job opened his mouth, and cursed his day,—and no wonder.
Your friends have an intimate knowledge of you that is astonishing to contemplate. It is not that they know your affairs, which he who runs may read, but they know you. From a bit of bone, Cuvier could predicate a whole animal, even to the hide and hair. Such moral naturalists are your dear five hundred friends. It seems to yourself that you are immeasurably reticent. You know, of a certainty, that you project only the smallest possible fragment of yourself. You yield your universality to the bond of common brotherhood; but your individualism—what it is that makes you you—withdraws itself naturally, involuntarily, inevitably, into the background,—the dim distance which their eyes cannot penetrate. But, from the fraction which you do project, they construct another you, call it by your name, and pass it around for the real, the actual you. You bristle with jest and laughter and wild whims, to keep them at a distance; and they fancy this to be your every-day equipment. They think your life holds constant carnival. It is astonishing what ideas spring up in the heads of sensible people. There are those who assume that a person can never have had any grief, unless somebody has died, or he has been disappointed in love,—not knowing that every avenue of joy lies open to the tramp of pain. They see the flashing coronet on the queen's brow, and they infer a diamond woman, not recking of the human heart that throbs wildly out of sight. They see the foam-crest on the wave, and picture an Atlantic Ocean of froth, and not the solemn sea that stands below in eternal equipoise. You turn to them the luminous crescent of your life, and they call it the whole round globe; and so they love you with a love that is agate, not pearl, because what they love in you is something infinitely below the highest. They love you level: they have never scaled your heights nor fathomed your depths. And when they talk of you as familiarly as if they had taken out your auricles and ventricles, and turned them inside out, and wrung them, and shaken them,—when they prate of your transparency and openness, the abandonment with which you draw aside the curtain and reveal the inmost thoughts of your heart,—you, who are to yourself a miracle and a mystery, you smile inwardly, and are content. They are on the wrong scent, and you may pursue your plans in peace. They are indiscriminate and satisfied. They do not know the relation of what appears to what is. If they chance to skirt along the coasts of your Purple Island, it will be only chance, and they will not know it. You may close your port-holes, lower your draw-bridge, and make merry, for they will never come within gun-shot of the "Round Tower of your heart."
There is no such thing as knowing a man intimately. Every soul is, for the greater part of its mortal life, isolated from every other. Whether it dwell in the Garden of Eden or the Desert of Sahara, it dwells alone. Not only do we jostle against the street-crowd unknowing and unknown, but we go out and come in, we lie down and rise up, with strangers. Jupiter and Neptune sweep the heavens not more unfamiliar to us than the worlds that circle our own hearth-stone. Day after day, and year after year, a person moves by your side; he sits at the same table; he reads the same books; he kneels in the same church. You know every hair of his head, every trick of his lips, every tone of his voice; you can tell him far off by his gait. Without seeing him, you recognize his step, his knock, his laugh. "Know him? Yes, I have known him these twenty years." No, you don't know him. You know his gait, and hair, and voice. You know what preacher he hears, what ticket he voted, and what were his last year's expenses; but you don't know him. He sits quietly in his chair, but he is in the temple. You speak to him; his soul comes out into the vestibule to answer you, and returns,—and the gates are shut; therein you cannot enter. You were discussing the state of the country; but, when you ceased, he opened a postern-gate, went down a bank, and launched on a sea over whose waters you have no boat to sail, no star to guide. You have loved and reverenced him. He has been your concrete of truth and nobleness. Unwittingly you touch a secret spring, and a Blue-Beard Chamber stands revealed. You give no sign; you meet and part as usual; but a Dead Sea rolls between you two forevermore.
It must be so. Not even to the nearest and dearest can one unveil the secret place where his soul abideth, so that there shall be no more any winding ways or hidden chambers; but to your indifferent neighbor, what blind alleys, and deep caverns, and inaccessible mountains! To him who "touches the electric chain wherewith you're darkly bound," your soul sends back an answering thrill. Our little window is opened, and there is short parley. Your ships speak each other now and then in welcome, though imperfect communication; but immediately you strike out again into the great, shoreless sea, over which you must sail forever alone. You may shrink from the far-reaching solitudes of your heart, but no other foot than yours can tread them, save those
"That, eighteen hundred years ago, were nailed, For our advantage, to the bitter cross."
Be thankful that it is so,—that only His eye sees whose hand formed. If we could look in, we should be appalled at the vision. The worlds that glide around us are mysteries too high for us. We cannot attain to them. The naked soul is a sight too awful for man to look at and live. There are individuals whose topography we would like to know a little better, and there is danger that we crash against each other while roaming around in the dark; but, for all that, would we not have the Constitution broken up. Somebody says, "In heaven there will be no secrets," which, it seems to me, would be intolerable. (If that were a revelation from the King of Heaven, of course I would not speak flippantly of it; but, though towards Heaven we look with reverence and humble hope, I do not know that Tom, Dick, and Harry's notions of it have any special claim to our respect.) Such publicity would destroy all individuality, and undermine the foundations of society. Clairvoyance—if there be any such thing—always seemed to me a stupid impertinence. When people pay visits to me, I wish them to come to the front-door, and ring the bell, and send up their names. I don't wish them to climb in at the window, or creep through the pantry, or, worst of all, float through the keyhole, and catch me in undress. So I believe that in all worlds thoughts will be the subjects of volition,—more accurately expressed when expression is desired, but just as entirely suppressed when we will suppression.
After all, perhaps the chief trouble arises from a prevalent confusion of ideas as to what constitutes a man your friend. Friendship may stand for that peaceful complacence which you feel towards all well—behaved people who wear clean collars and use tolerable grammar. This is a very good meaning, if everybody will subscribe to it. But sundry of these well-behaved people will mistake your civility and complacence for a recognition of special affinity, and proceed at once to frame an alliance offensive and defensive while the sun and the moon shall endure. Oh, the barnacles that cling to your keel in such waters! The inevitable result is, that they win your intense rancor. You would feel a genial kindliness towards them, if they would be satisfied with that; but they lay out to be your specialty. They infer your innocent little inch to be the standard-bearer of twenty ells, and goad you to frenzy. I mean you, you desperate little horror, who nearly dethroned my reason six years ago! I always meant to have my revenge, and here I impale you before the public. For three months, you fastened yourself upon me; and I could not shake you off. What availed it me, that you were an honest and excellent man? Did I not, twenty times a day, wish you had been a villain, who had insulted me, and I a Kentucky giant, that I might have the unspeakable satisfaction of knocking you down? But you added to your crimes virtue. Villany had no part or lot in you. You were a member of a church, in good and regular standing; you had graduated with all the honors worth mentioning; you had not a sin, a vice, or a fault that I knew of; and you were so thoroughly good and repulsive that you were a great grief to me. Do you think, you dear, disinterested wretch, that I have forgotten how you were continually putting yourself to horrible inconveniences on my account? Do you think I am not now filled with remorse for the aversion that rooted itself ineradicably in my soul, and which now gloats over you, as you stand in the pillory where my own hands have fastened you? But can Nature be crushed forever? Did I not ruin my nerves, and seriously injure my temper, by the overpowering pressure I laid upon them to keep them quiet when you were by? Could I not, by the sense of coming ill through all my quivering frame, presage your advent as exactly as the barometer heralds the approaching storm? Those three months of agony are little atoned for by this late vengeance: but go in peace!
Mysterious are the ways of friendship. It is not a matter of reason or of choice, but of magnetisms. You cannot always give the premises nor the argument, but the conclusion is a palpable and stubborn fact. Abana and Pharpar may be broad, and deep, and blue, and grand; but only in Jordan shall your soul wash and be clean. A thousand brooks are born of the sunshine and the mountains: very, very few are they whose flow can mingle with yours, and not disturb, but only deepen and broaden the current.
Your friend! Who shall describe him, or worthily paint what he is to you? No merchant, nor lawyer, nor farmer, nor statesman claims your suffrage, but a kingly soul. He comes to you from God,—a prophet, a seer, a revealer. He has a clear vision. His love is reverence. He goes into the penetralia of your life,—not presumptuously, but with uncovered head, unsandalled feet, and pours libations at the innermost shrine. His incense is grateful. For him the sunlight brightens, the skies grow rosy, and all the days are Junes. Wrapped in his love, you float in a delicious rest, rocked in the bosom of purple, scented waves. Nameless melodies sing themselves through your heart. A golden glow suffuses your atmosphere. A vague, fine ecstasy thrills to the sources of life, and earth lays hold on heaven. Such friendship is worship. It elevates the most trifling services into rites. The humblest offices are sanctified. All things are baptized into a new name. Duty is lost in joy. Care veils itself in caresses. Drudgery becomes delight. There is no longer anything menial, small, or servile. All is transformed
"Into something rich and strange."
The homely household-ways lead through beds of spices and orchards of pomegranates. The daily toil among your parsnips and carrots is plucking May violets with the dew upon them to meet the eyes you love upon their first awaking. In the burden and heat of the day you hear the rustling of summer showers and the whispering of summer winds. Everything is lifted up from the plane of labor to the plane of love, and a glory spans your life. With your friend, speech and silence are one,—for a communion mysterious and intangible reaches across from heart to heart. The many dig and delve in your nature with fruitless toil to find the spring of living water: he only raises his wand, and, obedient to the hidden power, it bends at once to your secret. Your friendship, though independent of language, gives to it life and light. The mystic spirit stirs even in commonplaces, and the merest question is an endearment. You are quiet because your heart is over-full. You talk because it is pleasant, not because you have anything to say. You weary of terms that are already love-laden, and you go out into the highways and hedges, and gather up the rough, wild, wilful words, heavy with the hatreds of men, and fill them to the brim with honey-dew. All things great and small, grand or humble, you press into your service, force them to do soldier's duty, and your banner over them is love.
With such a friendship, presence alone is happiness; nor is absence wholly void,—for memories, and hopes, and pleasing fancies sparkle through the hours, and you know the sunshine will come back.
For such friendship one is grateful. No matter that it comes unsought, and comes not for the seeking. You do not discuss the reasonableness of your gratitude. You only know that your whole being bows with humility and utter thankfulness to him who thus crowns you monarch of all realms.
And the kingdom is everlasting. A thin, pale love dies weakly with the occasion that gave it birth; but such friendship is born of the gods, and is immortal. Clouds and darkness may sweep around it, but within the cloud the glory lives undimmed. Death has no power over it. Time cannot diminish, nor even dishonor annul it. Its direction may have been unworthy, but itself is eternal. You go back into your solitudes: all is silent as aforetime, but you cannot forget that a Voice once resounded there. A Presence filled the valleys and gilded the mountain-tops, —breathed upon the plains, and they sprang up in lilies and roses,—flashed upon the waters, and they flowed to spheral melody,—swept through the forests, and they, too, trembled into song. And though now the warmth has faded out, though the ruddy tints and amber clearness have paled to ashen hues, though the murmuring melodies are dead, and forest, vale, and hill look hard and angular in the sharp air, you know that it is not death. The fire is unquenched beneath. You go your way not disconsolate. There needs but the Victorious Voice. At the touch of the Prince's lips, life shall rise again and be perfected forevermore.
THE LIFE OF BIRDS.
When one thinks of a bird, one fancies a soft, swift, aimless, joyous thing, full of nervous energy and arrowy motions,—a song with wings. So remote from ours their mode of existence, they seem accidental exiles from an unknown globe, banished where none can understand their language; and men only stare at their darting, inexplicable ways, as at the gyrations of the circus. Watch their little traits for hours, and it only tantalizes curiosity. Every man's secret is penetrable, if his neighbor be sharp-sighted. Dickens, for instance, can take a poor condemned wretch, like Fagin, whose emotions neither he nor his reader has experienced, and can paint him in colors that seem made of the soul's own atoms, so that each beholder feels as if he, personally, had been the man. But this bird that hovers and alights beside me, peers up at me, takes its food, then looks again, attitudinizing, jerking, flirting its tail, with a thousand inquisitive and fantastic motions,—although I have power to grasp it in my hand and crush its life out, yet I cannot gain its secret thus, and the centre of its consciousness is really farther from mine than the remotest planetary orbit. "We do not steadily bear in mind," says Darwin, with a noble scientific humility, "how profoundly ignorant we are of the condition of existence of every animal."
What "sympathetic penetration" can fathom the life, for instance, of yonder mysterious, almost voiceless, Humming-Bird, smallest of feathery things, and loneliest, whirring among birds, insect-like, and among insects, bird-like, his path untraceable, his home unseen? An image of airy motion, yet it sometimes seems as if there were nothing joyous in him. He seems like some exiled pigmy prince, banished, but still regal, and doomed to wings. Did gems turn to flowers, flowers to feathers, in that long-past dynasty of the Humming-Birds? It is strange to come upon his tiny nest, in some gray and tangled swamp, with this brilliant atom perched disconsolately near it, upon some mossy twig; it is like visiting Cinderella among her ashes. And from Humming-Bird to Eagle, the daily existence of every bird is a remote and bewitching mystery.
Pythagoras has been charged, both before and since the days of Malvolio, with holding that "the soul of our grandam might haply inhabit a fowl,"—that delinquent men must revisit earth as women, and delinquent women as birds. Malvolio thought nobly of the soul, and in no way approved his opinion; but I remember that Harriet Rohan, in her school-days, accepted this, her destiny, with glee. "When I saw the Oriole," she wrote to me, "from his nest among the plum-trees in the garden, sail over the air and high above the Gothic arches of the elm, a stream of flashing light, or watched him swinging silently on pendent twigs, I did not dream how near akin we were. Or when a Humming-Bird, a winged drop of gorgeous sheen and gloss, a living gem, poising on his wings, thrust his dark, slender, honey-seeking bill into the white blossoms of a little bush beside my window, I should have thought it no such bad thing to be a bird, even if one next became a bat, like the colony in our eaves, that dart and drop and skim and skurry, all the length of moonless nights, in such ecstasies of dusky joy." Was this weird creature, the bat, in very truth a bird, in some far primeval time? and does he fancy, in unquiet dreams at nightfall, that he is one still? I wonder whether he can enjoy the winged brotherhood into which he has thrust himself,—victim, perhaps, of some rash quadruped-ambition,—an Icarus doomed forever not to fall.
I think, that, if required, on pain of death, to name instantly the most perfect thing in the universe, I should risk my fate on a bird's egg. There is, first, its exquisite fragility of material, strong only by the mathematical precision of that form so daintily moulded. There is its absolute purity from external stain, since that thin barrier remains impassable until the whole is in ruins,—a purity recognized in the household proverb of "An apple, an egg, and a nut." Then, its range of tints, so varied, so subdued, and so beautiful,—whether of pure white, like the Martin's, or pure green, like the Robin's, or dotted and mottled into the loveliest of browns, like the Red Thrush's, or aqua-marine, with stains of moss-agate, like the Chipping-Sparrow's, or blotched with long weird ink-marks on a pale ground, like the Oriole's, as if it bore inscribed some magic clue to the bird's darting flight and pensile nest. Above all, the associations and predictions of this little wonder,—that one may bear home between his fingers all that winged splendor, all that celestial melody, coiled in mystery within these tiny walls! Even the chrysalis is less amazing, for its form always preserves some trace, however fantastic, of the perfect insect, and it is but moulting a skin; but this egg appears to the eye like a separate unit from some other kingdom of Nature, claiming more kindred with the very stones than with feathery existence; and it is as if a pearl opened and an angel sang.
The nest which is to contain these fair things is a wondrous study also, from the coarse masonry of the Robin to the soft structure of the Humming-Bird, a baby-house among nests. Among all created things, the birds come nearest to man in their domesticity. Their unions are usually in pairs, and for life; and with them, unlike the practice of most quadrupeds, the male labors for the young. He chooses the locality of the nest, aids in its construction, and fights for it, if needful. He sometimes assists in hatching the eggs. He feeds the brood with exhausting labor, like yonder Robin, whose winged picturesque day is spent in putting worms into insatiable beaks, at the rate of one morsel in every three minutes. He has to teach them to fly, as among the Swallows, or even to hunt, as among the Hawks. His life is anchored to his home. Yonder Oriole fills with light and melody the thousand branches of a neighborhood; and yet the centre for all this divergent splendor is always that one drooping dome upon one chosen tree. This he helped to build in May, confiscating cotton as if he were a Union provost-martial, and singing many songs, with his mouth full of plunder; and there he watches over his household, all through the leafy June, perched often upon the airy cradle-edge, and swaying with it in the summer wind. And from this deep nest, after the pretty eggs are hatched, will he and his mate extract every fragment of the shell, leaving it, like all other nests, save those of birds of prey, clean and pure, when the young are flown. This they do chiefly from an instinct of delicacy; since wood-birds are not wont to use the same nest a second time, even if they rear several broods in a season.
The subdued tints and notes which almost always mark the female sex, among birds,—unlike insects and human beings, of which the female is often more showy than the male,—seem designed to secure their safety while sitting on the nest, while the brighter colors and louder song of the male enable his domestic circle to detect his whereabouts more easily. It is commonly noticed, in the same way, that ground-birds have more neutral tints than those which build out of reach. With the aid of these advantages, it is astonishing how well these roving creatures keep their secrets, and what sharp eyes are needed to spy out their habitations,—while it always seems as if the empty last-year's nests were very plenty. Some, indeed, are very elaborately concealed, as of the Golden-Crowned Thrush, called, for this reason, the Oven-Bird,—the Meadow-Lark, with its burrowed gallery among the grass,—and the Kingfisher, which mines four feet into the earth. But most of the rarer nests would hardly be discovered, only that the maternal instinct seems sometimes so overloaded by Nature as to defeat itself, and the bird flies and chirps in agony, when she might pass unnoticed by keeping still. The most marked exception which I have noticed is the Red Thrush, which, in this respect, as in others, has the most high-bred manners among all our birds: both male and female sometimes flit in perfect silence through the bushes, and show solicitude only in a sob which is scarcely audible.
Passing along the shore-path by our lake, one day in June, I heard a great sound of scuffling and yelping before me, as if dogs were hunting rabbits or woodchucks. On approaching, I saw no sign of such disturbances, and presently a Partridge came running at me through the trees, with ruff and tail expanded, bill wide open, and hissing like a Goose,—then turned suddenly, and with ruff and tail furled, but with no pretence of lameness, scudded off through the woods in a circle,—then at me again fiercely, approaching within two yards, and spreading all her furbelows, to intimidate, as before,—then, taking in sail, went off again, always at the same rate of speed, yelping like an angry squirrel, squealing like a pig, occasionally clucking like a hen, and, in general, so filling the woods with bustle and disturbance that there seemed no room for anything else. Quite overawed by the display, I stood watching her for some time, then entered the underbrush, where the little invisible brood had been unceasingly piping, in their baby way. So motionless were they, that, for all their noise, I stood with my feet among them, for some minutes, without finding it possible to detect them. When found and taken from the ground, which they so closely resembled, they made no attempt to escape; but, when replaced, they presently ran away fast, as if conscious that the first policy had failed, and that their mother had retreated. Such is the summer-life of these little things; but come again in the fall, when the wild autumnal winds go marching through the woods, and a dozen pairs of strong wings will thrill like thunder through the arches of the trees, as the full-grown brood whirrs away around you.
Not only have we scarcely any species of birds which are thoroughly and unquestionably identical with European species, but there are certain general variations of habit. For instance, in regard to migration. This is, of course, a Universal instinct, since even tropical birds migrate for short distances from the equator, so essential to their existence do these wanderings seem. But in New England, among birds as among men, the roving habit seems unusually strong, and abodes are shifted very rapidly. The whole number of species observed in Massachusetts is about the same as in England,—some three hundred in all. But of this number, in England, about a hundred habitually winter on the island, and half that number even in the Hebrides, some birds actually breeding in Scotland during January and February, incredible as it may seem. Their habits can, therefore, be observed through a long period of the year; while with us the bright army comes and encamps for a month or two and then vanishes. You must attend their dress-parades, while they last; for you will have but few opportunities, and their domestic life must commonly be studied during a few weeks of the season, or not at all.
Wonderful as the instinct of migration seems, it is not, perhaps, so altogether amazing in itself as in some of its attendant details. To a great extent, birds follow the opening foliage northward, and flee from its fading, south; they must keep near the food on which they live, and secure due shelter for their eggs. Our earliest visitors shrink from trusting the bare trees with their nests; the Song-Sparrow seeks the ground; the Blue-Bird finds a box or a hole somewhere; the Red-Wing haunts the marshy thickets, safer in spring than at any other season; and even the sociable Robin prefers a pine-tree to an apple-tree, if resolved to begin housekeeping prematurely. The movements of birds are chiefly timed by the advance of vegetation; and the thing most thoroughly surprising about them is not the general fact of the change of latitude, but their accuracy in hitting the precise locality. That the same Cat-Bird should find its way back, every spring, to almost the same branch of yonder larch-tree,—that is the thing astonishing to me. In England, a lame Redstart was observed in the same garden for sixteen successive years; and the astonishing precision of course which enables some birds of small size to fly from Australia to New Zealand in a day—probably the longest single flight ever taken—is only a part of the same mysterious instinct of direction.
In comparing modes of flight, the most surprising, of course, is that of the Swallow tribe, remarkable not merely for its velocity, but for the amazing boldness and instantaneousness of the angles it makes; so that eminent European mechanicians have speculated in vain upon the methods used in its locomotion, and prizes have been offered, by mechanical exhibitions, to him who could best explain it. With impetuous dash, they sweep through our perilous streets, these wild hunters of the air, "so near, and yet so far"; they bathe flying, and flying they feed their young. In my immediate vicinity, the Chimney-Swallow is not now common, nor the Sand-Swallow; but the Cliff-Swallow, that strange emigrant from the Far West, the Barn-Swallow, and the white-breasted species, are abundant, together with the Purple Martin. I know no prettier sight than a bevy of these bright little creatures, met from a dozen different farm-houses to picnic at a way-side pool, splashing and fluttering, with their long wings expanded like butterflies, keeping poised by a constant hovering motion, just tilting upon their feet, which scarcely touch the moist ground. You will seldom see them actually perch on anything less airy than some telegraphic wire; but, when they do alight, each will make chatter enough for a dozen, as if all the rushing hurry of the wings had passed into the tongue.
Between the swiftness of the Swallow and the stateliness of the birds of prey, the whole range of bird-motion seems included. The long wave of a Hawk's wings seems almost to send a slow vibration through the atmosphere, tolling upon the eye as yon distant bell upon the ear. I never was more impressed with the superior dignity of these soarings than in observing a bloodless contest in the air, last April. Standing beside a little grove, on a rocky hill-side, I heard Crows cawing near by, and then a sound like great flies buzzing, which I really attributed, for a moment, to some early insect. Turning, I saw two Crows flapping their heavy wings among the trees, and observed that they were teasing a Hawk about as large as themselves, which was also on the wing. Presently all three had risen above the branches, and were circling higher and higher in a slow spiral. The Crows kept constantly swooping at their enemy, with the same angry buzz, one of the two taking decidedly the lead. They seldom struck at him with their beaks, but kept lumbering against him, and flapping him with their wings, as if in a fruitless effort to capsize him; while the Hawk kept carelessly eluding the assaults, now inclining on one side, now on the other, with a stately grace, never retaliating, but seeming rather to enjoy the novel amusement, as if it were a skirmish in balloons. During all this, indeed, he scarcely seemed once to wave his wings; yet he soared steadily aloft, till the Crows refused to follow, though already higher than I ever saw Crows before, dim against the fleecy sky; then the Hawk flew northward, but soon after he sailed over us once again, with loud, scornful chirr, and they only cawed, and left him undisturbed.
When we hear the tumult of music from these various artists of the air, it seems as if the symphony never could be analyzed into its different instruments. But with time and patience it is not so difficult; nor can we really enjoy the performance, so long as it is only a confused chorus to our ears. It is not merely the highest form of animal language, but, in strictness of etymology, the only form, if it be true, as is claimed, that no other animal employs its tongue, lingua, in producing sound. In the Middle Ages, the song of birds was called their Latin, as was any other foreign dialect. It was the old German superstition, that any one who should eat the heart of a bird would thenceforth comprehend its language; and one modern philologist of the same nation (Masius declares) has so far studied the sounds produced by domestic fowls as to announce a Goose-Lexicon. Dupont de Nemours asserted that he understood eleven words of the Pigeon language, the same number of that of Fowls, fourteen of the Cat tongue, twenty-two of that of Cattle, thirty of that of Dogs, and the Raven language he understood completely. But the ordinary observer seldom attains farther than to comprehend some of the cries of anxiety and fear around him, often so unlike the accustomed carol of the bird,—as the mew of the Cat-Bird, the lamb-like bleating of the Veery and his impatient yeoick, the chaip of the Meadow-Lark, the towyee of the Chewink, the petulant psit and tsee of the Red-Winged Blackbird, and the hoarse cooing of the Bobolink. And with some of our most familiar birds the variety of notes is so great as really to promise difficulties in the American department of the bird-lexicon. I have watched two Song-Sparrows, perched near each other, in whom the spy-glass could show not the slightest difference of marking, even in the characteristic stains upon the breast, who yet chanted to each other, for fifteen minutes, over and over, two elaborate songs which had nothing in common. I have observed a similar thing in two Wood-Sparrows, with their sweet, distinct, accelerating lay; nor can I find it stated that the difference is sexual. Who can claim to have heard the whole song of the Robin? Taking shelter from a shower beneath an oak-tree, the other day, I caught a few of the notes which one of those cheery creatures, who love to sing in wet weather, tossed down to me through the drops.
(Before noticing me,) chirrup, cheerup (pausing in alarm, at my approach,) che, che, che; (broken presently by a thoughtful strain,) caw, caw, (then softer and more confiding,) see, see, see; (then the original note, in a whisper,) chirrup, cheerup; (often broken by a soft note,) see, wee; (and an odder one,) squeal; (and a mellow note,) tweedle.
And all these were mingled with more complex combinations, and with half-imitations, as of the Blue-Bird, so that it seemed almost impossible to doubt that there was some specific meaning, to him and his peers, in this endless vocabulary. Yet other birds, as quick-witted as the Robins, possess but one or two chirping notes, to which they seem unable to give more than the very rudest variation of accent.
The controversy between the singing-birds of Europe and America has had various phases and influential disputants. Buffon easily convinced himself that our Thrushes had no songs, because the voices of all birds grew harsh in savage countries, such as he naturally held this continent to be. Audubon, on the other hand, relates that even in his childhood he was assured by his father that the American songsters were the best, though neither Americans nor Europeans could be convinced of it. MacGillivray, the Scottish naturalist, reports that Audubon himself, in conversation, arranged our vocalists in the following order:—first, the Mocking-Bird, as unrivalled; then, the Wood-Thrush, Cat-Bird, and Red Thrush; the Rose-Breasted, Pine, and Blue Grosbeak; the Orchard and Golden Oriole; the Tawny and Hermit Thrushes; several Finches, —Bachmann's, the White-Crowned, the Indigo, and the Nonpareil; and finally, the Bobolink.
Among those birds of this list which frequent Massachusetts, Audubon might well put the Wood-Thrush at the head. As I sat the other day in the deep woods beside a black brook which dropped from stone to stone beneath the shadow of our Rattlesnake Rocks, the air seemed at first as silent above me as the earth below. The buzz of summer sounds had not begun. Sometimes a bee hummed by with a long swift thrill like a chord of music; sometimes a breeze came resounding up the forest like an approaching locomotive, and then died utterly away. Then, at length, a Veery's delicious note rose in a fountain of liquid melody from beneath me; and when it was ended, the clear, calm, interrupted chant of the Wood-Thrush fell like solemn water-drops from some source above—I am acquainted with no sound in Nature so sweet, so elevated, so serene. Flutes and flageolets are Art's poor efforts to recall that softer sound. It is simple, and seems all prelude; but the music to which it is the overture must belong to other spheres. It might be the Angelus of some lost convent. It might be the meditation of some maiden-hermit, saying over to herself in solitude, with recurrent tuneful pauses, the only song she knows. Beside this soliloquy of seraphs, the carol of the Veery seems a familiar and almost domestic thing; yet it is so charming that Audubon must have designed to include it among the Thrushes whose merits he proclaims.
But the range of musical perfection is a wide one; and if the standard of excellence be that wondrous brilliancy and variety of execution suggested by the Mocking-Bird, then the palm belongs, among our New-England songsters, to the Red Thrush, otherwise called the Mavis or Brown Thrasher. I have never heard the Mocking-Bird sing at liberty; and while the caged bird may surpass the Red Thrush in volume of voice and in quaintness of direct imitation, he gives me no such impression of depth and magnificence. I know not how to describe the voluble and fantastic notes which fall like pearls and diamonds from the beak of our Mavis, while his stately attitudes and high-born bearing are in full harmony with the song. I recall the steep, bare hill-side, and the two great boulders which guard the lonely grove, where I first fully learned the wonder of this lay, as if I had met Saint Cecilia there. A thoroughly happy song, overflowing with life, it gives even its most familiar phrases an air of gracious condescension, as when some great violinist stoops to the "Carnival of Venice." The Red Thrush does not, however, consent to any parrot-like mimicry, though every note of wood or field—Oriole, Bobolink, Crow, Jay, Robin, Whippoorwill—appears to pass in veiled procession through the song.
Retain the execution of the Red Thrush, but hopelessly impair his organ, and you have the Cat-Bird. This accustomed visitor would seem a gifted vocalist, but for the inevitable comparison between his thinner note and the gushing melodies of the lordlier bird. Is it some hopeless consciousness of this disadvantage which leads him to pursue that peculiar habit of singing softly to himself very often, in a fancied seclusion? When other birds are cheerily out-of-doors, on some bright morning of May or June, one will often discover a solitary Cat-Bird sitting concealed in the middle of a dense bush, and twittering busily, in subdued rehearsal, the whole copious variety of his lay, practising trills and preparing half-imitations, which, at some other time, sitting on the topmost twig, he shall hilariously seem to improvise before all the world. Can it be that he is really in some slight disgrace with Nature, with that demi-mourning garb of his,—and that his feline cry of terror, which makes his opprobrium with boys, is part of some hidden doom decreed? No, the lovely color of the eggs which his companion watches on that laboriously builded staging of twigs shall vindicate this familiar companion from any suspicion of original sin. Indeed, it is well demonstrated by our American ologist, Dr. Brewer, that the eggs of the Cat-Bird affiliate him with the Robin and the Wood-Thrush, all three being widely separated in this respect from the Red Thrush. The Red Thrush builds on the ground, and has mottled eggs; while the whole household establishment of the Wood-Thrush is scarcely distinguishable from that of the Robin, and the Cat-Bird differs chiefly in being more of a carpenter and less of a mason.
The Rose-Breasted Grosbeak, which Audubon places so high on his list of minstrels, comes annually to one region in this vicinity, but I am not sure of having heard it. The young Pine Grosbeaks come to our woods in winter, and have then but a subdued twitter. Every one knows the Bobolink; and almost all recognize the Oriole, by sight at least, even if unfamiliar with all the notes of his cheery and resounding song. The Red-Eyed Flycatcher, heard even more constantly, is less generally identified by name; but his note sounds all day among the elms of our streets, and seems a sort of piano-adaptation, popularized for the million, of the rich notes of the Thrushes. He is not mentioned by Audubon among his favorites, and has no right to complain of the exclusion. Yet the birds which most endear summer are not necessarily the finest performers; and certainly there is none whose note I could spare less easily than the little Chipping-Sparrow, called hereabouts the Hair-Bird. To lie half-awake on a warm morning in June, and hear that soft insect-like chirp draw in and out with long melodious pulsations, like the rising and falling of the human breath, condenses for my ear the whole luxury of summer. Later in the day, among the multiplicity of noises, the chirping becomes louder and more detached, losing that faint and dream-like thrill.
The bird-notes which have the most familiar fascination are perhaps simply those most intimately associated with other rural things. This applies especially to the earliest spring songsters. Listening to these delicious prophets upon some of those still and moist days which slip in between the rough winds of March and fill our lives for a moment with anticipated delights, it has seemed to me that their varied notes were sent to symbolize all the different elements of spring association. The Blue-Bird seems to represent simply spring's faint, tremulous, liquid sweetness, the Song-Sparrow its changing pulsations of more positive and varied joy, and the Robin its cheery and superabundant vitality. The later birds of the season, suggesting no such fine-drawn sensations, yet identify themselves with their chosen haunts, so that we cannot think of the one without the other. In the meadows, we hear the languid and tender drawl of the Meadow-Lark,—one of the most peculiar of notes, almost amounting to affectation in its excess of laborious sweetness. When we reach the thickets and wooded streams, there is no affectation in the Maryland Yellow-Throat, that little restless busybody, with his eternal which-is-it, which-is-it, which-is-it, emphasizing each syllable at will, in despair of response. Passing into the loftier woods, we find them resounding with the loud proclamation of the Golden-Crowned Thrush,—scheat, scheat, scheat, scheat,—rising and growing louder in a vigorous way that rather suggests some great Woodpecker than such a tiny thing. And penetrating to some yet lonelier place, we find it consecrated to that life-long sorrow, whatever it may be, which is made immortal in the plaintive cadence of the Pewee.
There is one favorite bird,—the Chewink, or Ground-Robin,—which, I always fancied, must have been known to Keats when he wrote those few words of perfect descriptiveness,—
"If an innocent bird Before my heedless footsteps _stirred and stirred _In little journeys_."
What restless spirit is in this creature, that, while so shy in its own personal habits, it yet watches every visitor with a Paul-Pry curiosity, follows him in the woods, peers out among the underbrush, scratches upon the leaves with a pretty pretence of important business there, and presently, when disregarded, ascends some small tree and begins to carol its monotonous song, as if there were no such thing as man in the universe? There is something irregular and fantastic in the coloring, also, of the Chewink: unlike the generality of ground-birds, it is a showy thing, with black, white, and bay intermingled, and it is one of the most unmistakable of all our feathery creatures, in its aspect and its ways.
Another of my favorites, perhaps from our sympathy as to localities, since we meet freely every summer at a favorite lake, is the King-Bird or Tyrant-Flycatcher. The habits of royalty or tyranny I have never been able to perceive,—only a democratic habit of resistance to tyrants; but this bird always impresses me as a perfectly well-dressed and well-mannered person, who amid a very talkative society prefers to listen, and shows his character by action only. So long as he sits silently on some stake or bush in the neighborhood of his family-circle, you notice only his glossy black cap and the white feathers in his handsome tail; but let a Hawk or a Crow come near, and you find that he is something more than a mere lazy listener to the Bobolink: far up in the air, determined to be thorough in his chastisements, you will see him, with a comrade or two, driving the bulky intruder away into the distance, till you wonder how he ever expects to find his own way back again. He speaks with emphasis, on these occasions, and then reverts, more sedately than ever, to his accustomed silence.
After all the great labors of Audubon and Wilson, it is certain that the recent visible progress of American ornithology has by no means equalled that of several other departments of Natural History. The older books are now out of print, and there is actually no popular treatise on the subject to be had: a destitution singularly contrasted with the variety of excellent botanical works which the last twenty years have produced. Nuttall's fascinating volumes, and Brewer's edition of Wilson, are equally inaccessible; and the most valuable contributions since their time, so far as I know, are that portion of Dr. Brewer's work on eggs printed in the eleventh volume of the "Smithsonian Contributions," and four admirable articles in this very magazine. But the most important observations are locked up in the desks or exhibited in the cabinets of private observers, who have little opportunity of comparing facts with other students, or with reliable printed authorities. What do we know, for instance, of the local distribution of our birds? I remember that in my latest conversation with Thoreau, last December, he mentioned most remarkable facts in this department, which had fallen under his unerring eyes. The Hawk most common at Concord, the Red-Tailed species, is not known near the sea-shore, twenty miles off,—as at Boston or Plymouth. The White-Breasted Sparrow is rare in Concord; but the Ashburnham woods, thirty miles away, are full of it. The Scarlet Tanager's is the commonest note in Concord, except the Red-Eyed Flycatcher's; yet one of the best field-ornithologists in Boston had never heard it. The Rose-Breasted Grosbeak is seen not infrequently at Concord, though its nest is rarely found; but in Minnesota Thoreau found it more abundant than any other bird, far more so than the Robin. But his most interesting statement, to my fancy, was, that, during a stay of ten weeks on Monadnock, he found that the Snow-Bird built its nest on the top of the mountain, and probably never came down through the season. That was its Arctic; and it would probably yet be found, he predicted, on Wachusett and other Massachusetts peaks. It is known that the Snow-Bird, or "Snow-Flake," as it is called in England, was reported by Audubon as having only once been proved to build in the United States, namely, among the White Mountains, though Wilson found its nests among the Alleghanies; and in New England it used to be the rural belief that the Snow-Bird and the Chipping-Sparrow were the same.
After July, most of our birds grow silent, and, but for the insects, August would be almost the stillest month in the year,—stiller than the winter, when the woods are often vocal with the Crow, the Jay, and the Chickadee. But with patient attention one may hear, even far into the autumn, the accustomed notes. As I sat in my boat, one sunny afternoon of last September, beneath the shady western shore of our quiet lake, with the low sunlight striking almost level across the wooded banks, it seemed as if the last hoarded drops of summer's sweetness were being poured over all the world. The air was full of quiet sounds. Turtles rustled beside the brink and slid into the water,—cows plashed in the shallows,—fishes leaped from the placid depths,—a squirrel sobbed and fretted on a neighboring stump,—a katydid across the lake maintained its hard, dry croak,—the crickets chirped pertinaciously, but with little fatigued pauses, as if glad that their work was almost done,—the grasshoppers kept up their continual chant, which seemed thoroughly melted and amalgamated into the summer, as if it would go on indefinitely, though the body of the little creature were dried into dust. All this time the birds were silent and invisible, as if they would take no more part in the symphony of the year. Then, as if by preconcerted signal, they joined in: Crows cawed anxiously afar; Jays screamed in the woods; a Partridge clucked to its brood, like the gurgle of water from a bottle; a Kingfisher wound his rattle, more briefly than in spring, as if we now knew all about it and the merest hint ought to suffice; a Fish-Hawk flapped into the water, with a great rude splash, and then flew heavily away; a flock of Wild Ducks went southward overhead, and a smaller party returned beneath them, flying low and anxiously, as if to pick up some lost baggage; and, at last, a Loon laughed loud from behind a distant island, and it was pleasant to people these woods and waters with that wild shouting, linking them with Katahdin Lake and Amperzand.
But the later the birds linger in the autumn, the more their aspect differs from that of spring. In spring, they come, jubilant, noisy, triumphant, from the South, the winter conquered and the long journey done. In autumn, they come timidly from the North, and, pausing on their anxious retreat, lurk within the fading copses and twitter snatches of song as fading. Others fly as openly as ever, but gather in flocks, as the Robins, most piteous of all birds at this season,—thin, faded, ragged, their bold note sunk to a feeble quaver, and their manner a mere caricature of that inexpressible military smartness with which they held up their heads in May.
Yet I cannot really find anything sad even in November. When I think of the thrilling beauty of the season past, the birds that came and went, the insects that took up the choral song as the birds grew silent, the procession of the flowers, the glory of autumn,—and when I think, that, this also ended, a new gallery of wonder is opening, almost more beautiful, in the magnificence of frost and snow, there comes an impression of affluence and liberality in the universe, which seasons of changeless and uneventful verdure would never give. The catkins already formed on the alder, quite prepared to droop into April's beauty,—the white edges of the May-flower's petals, already visible through the bud, show in advance that winter is but a slight and temporary retardation of the life of Nature, and that the barrier which separates November from March is not really more solid than that which parts the sunset from the sunrise.
[Footnote 14: "Our Birds and their Ways" (December, 1857); "The Singing-Birds and their Songs" (August, 1858); "The Birds of the Garden and Orchard" (October, 1858); "The Birds of the Pasture and Forest" (December, 1853);—the first by J. Elliot Cabot, and the three last by Wilson Flagg.]
THE NEW OPPOSITION PARTY.
In the rapid alternations of opinion produced by the varying incidents of the present war, a few days effect the work of centuries. We may therefore be pardoned for giving an antique coloring to an event of recent occurrence. Accordingly we say, once upon a time, (Tuesday, July 1, 1862) a great popular convention of all who loved the Constitution and the Union, and all who hated "niggers," was called in the city of New York. The place of meeting was the Cooper Institute, and among the signers to the call were prominent business and professional men of that great metropolis. At this meeting, that eminently calm and learned jurist, the Honorable W.A. Duer, interrupted the course of an elaborate argument for the constitutional rights of the Southern rebels by a melodramatic exclamation, that, if we hanged the traitors of the country in the order of their guilt, "the next man who marched upon the scaffold after Jefferson Davis would be Charles Sumner."
The professed object of the meeting was to form a party devoted to the support of "the Constitution as it is and the Union as it was." Its practical effect was to give the Confederates and foreign powers a broad hint that the North was no longer a unit. The coincidence of the meeting with the Federal reverses before Richmond made its professed object all the more ridiculous. The babbling and bawling of the speakers about "the rights of the South," and "the infamous Abolitionists who disgraced Congress," were but faint echoes of the Confederate cannon which had just ceased to carry death into the Union ranks. Both the speeches and the cannon spoke hostility to the National Cause. The number of the dead, wounded, "missing," and demoralized members of the great Army of the Potomac exceeded, on that Tuesday evening, any army which the United States had ever, before the present war, arrayed on any battle-field. Jefferson Davis, on that evening, was safer at Richmond than Abraham Lincoln was at Washington. A well-grounded apprehension, not only for the "Union," but for the safety of loyal States, was felt on that evening all over the North and West. It was, in fact, the darkest hour in the whole annals of the Republic. Even the authorities at Washington feared that the Army of the Potomac was destroyed. This was exactly the time for the Honorable Mr. Wickliffe and the Honorable Mr. Brooks, for the Honorable W. A. Duer and the Honorable Fernando Wood, to delight the citizens of New York with their peculiar eloquence. This was the appropriate occasion to stand up for the persecuted and down-trodden South! This was the grand opportunity to assert the noble principle, that, by the Constitution, every traitor had the right to be tried by a jury of traitors! This was the time to dishonor all the New England dead! This was the time to denounce the living worthies of New England! Hang Jeff. Davis? Oh, yes! We all know that he is secure behind his triumphant slayers of the real defenders of the Constitution and the Union. Neither hangman nor Major-General can get near him. But Charles Sumner is in our power. We can hang him easily. He has not two or four hundred thousand men at his back. He travels alone and unattended. Do we want a constitutional principle for combining the two men in one act of treason? Here is a calm jurist,—here, gentlemen of the party of the Constitution and the Laws, is the Honorable W. A. Duer. What does he say? Simply this: "Hang Jeff. Davis and Charles Sumner." Davis we cannot hang, but Sumner we can. Let us take one-half of his advice; circumstances prevent us from availing ourselves of the whole. There is, to be sure, no possibility of hanging Charles Sumner under any law known to us, the especial champions of the laws. But what then? Don't you see the Honorable W. A. Duer appeals, in this especial case, to "the higher law" of the mob? Don't you see that he desires to shield Jeff. Davis by weaving around his august person all the fine cobwebs of the Law, while he proposes to have Sumner hanged on "irregular" principles, unknown to the jurisprudence of Marshall and Kent?
But enough for the New York meeting. It was of no importance, except as indicating the existence, and giving a blundering expression to the objects, of one of the most malignant and unpatriotic factions which this country has ever seen. The faction is led by a few cold-blooded politicians universally known as the meanest sycophants of the South and the most impudent bullies of the North; but they have contrived to array on their side a considerable number of honest and well-meaning dupes by a dexterous appeal to conservative prejudice and conservative passion, so that hundreds serve their ends who would feel contaminated by their companionship. Never before has Respectability so blandly consented to become the mere instrument and tool of Rascality. The rogues trust to inaugurate treason and anarchy under the pretence of being the special champions of the Constitution and the Laws. Their real adherents are culled from the most desperate and dishonest portions of our population. They can hardly indite a leading article, or make a stump speech, without showing their proclivities to mob-law. To be sure, if a known traitor is informally arrested, they rave about the violation of the rights of the citizen; but they think Lynch-law is good enough for "Abolitionists." If a General is assailed as being over prudent and cautious in his operations against the common enemy, they immediately laud him as a Hannibal, a Caesar, and a Napoleon; they assume to be his special friends and admirers; they adjure him to persevere in what they conceive to be his policy of inaction; and, as he is a great master in strategy, they hint that his best strategic movement would be a movement, la Cromwell, on the Abolitionized Congress of the United States. Disunion, anarchy, the violation of all law, the appeal to the lowest and fiercest impulses of the most ignorant portions of the Northern people,—these constitute the real stock-in-trade of "the Hang-Jeff.-Davis-and-Charles-Sumner" party; but the thing is so managed, that, formally, this party appears as the special champion of the Union, the Constitution, and the Laws.
Those politicians who personally dislike the present holders of political power, those politicians who think that the measures of confiscation and emancipation passed by the Congress which has just adjourned are both unjust and impolitic, unconsciously slide into the aiders and abettors of the knaves they individually despise and distrust. The "radicals" must, they say, at all events, be checked; and they lazily follow the lead of the rascals. The rascals intend to ruin the country. But then they propose to do it in a constitutional way. The only thing, it seems, that a lawyer and a jurist can consider is Form. If the country is dismembered, if all its defenders are slain, if the Southern Confederacy is triumphant, not only at Richmond, but at Washington and New York, if eight millions of people beat twenty millions, and the greatest of all democracies ignominiously succumbs to the basest of all aristocracies, the true patriots will still have the consolation, that the defeat, the "damned defeat," occurred under the strictest forms of Law. Better that ten Massachusetts soldiers should be killed than that one negro should be illegally freed! Better that Massachusetts should be governed by Jeff. Davis than that it should be represented by such men as Charles Sumner and Henry Wilson, notoriously hostile to the constitutional rights of the South! Subjection, in itself, is bad; but the great American idea of local governments for local purposes, and a general government for general purposes, still, thank God! may survive it. To be sure, we may be beaten and enslaved, The rascals, renegades, and liberticides may gain their object. This object we shall ever contemn. But if they gain it fairly, under the forms of the Constitution, it is the duty of all good citizens to submit. Our Southern opponents, we acknowledge, committed some "irregularities"; but nobody can assert, that, in dealing with them, we deviated, by a hair's-breadth, from the powers intrusted to the Government by the Fathers of the Republic. While the country is convulsed by a rebellion unprecedented in the whole history of the world, we are compelled by our principles to look upon it as lawyers, and not as statesmen. We apply to it the same principles which our venerated forefathers applied to Shay's Rebellion in Massachusetts and the Whiskey Insurrection in Pennsylvania. To be sure, the "circumstances" are different; but we need not remind the philanthropic inhabitants of our section of the country, that "principles are eternal." We judge the existing case by these eternal principles. We may fail, and fail ignominiously; but, in our failure, nobody can say that we violated any sacred form of the ever-glorious Constitution of the United States. The Constitution has in it no provisions to secure its own existence by unconstitutional means. It is therefore our duty, as lawyers as well as legislators, to allow the gentlemen who have repudiated it, because they were defeated in an election, to enjoy all its benefits. That they do not seem to appreciate these benefits, but shoot, in a shockingly "irregular" manner, all who insist on imposing on them its blessings, furnishes no reason why we should partake in their guilt by violating its provisions. It is true that the Government established by the Constitution may fall by a strict adherence to our notions of the Constitution; but even in that event we shall have the delicious satisfaction of contemplating it in memory as a beautiful idea, after it has ceased to exist as a palpable fact. As the best constitution ever devised by human wisdom, we shall always find a more exquisite delight in meditating on the mental image of its perfect features than in enjoying the practical blessings of any other Government which may be established after it is dead and gone; and our feeling regarding it can be best expressed in the words in which the lyric poet celebrates his loyalty to the soul of the departed object of his affection:—
"Though many a gifted mind we meet, And fairest forms we see, To live with them is far less sweet Than to remember thee!"
It is fortunate both for our safety and the safety of the Constitution, that these politico-sentimental gentlemen represent only a certain theory of the Constitution, and not the Constitution itself. Their leading defect is an incapacity to adjust their profound legal intellects to the altered circumstances of the country. Any child in political knowledge is competent to give them this important item of political information,—that by no constitution of government ever devised by human morality and intelligence were the rights of rascals so secured as to give them the privilege of trampling on the rights of honest men. Any child in political knowledge is competent to inform them of this fundamental fact, underlying all laws and constitutions,—that, if a miscreant attempts to cut your throat, you may resist him by all the means which your strength and his weakness place in your power. Any child in political knowledge is further competent to furnish them with this additional bit of wisdom,—that every constitution of government provides, under the war-power it confers, against its own overthrow by rebels and by enemies. If rebels rise to the dignity and exert the power of enemies, they can be proceeded against both as rebels and as enemies. As rebels, the Government is bound to give them all the securities which the Constitution may guaranty to traitors. As enemies, the Government is restricted only by the vast and vague "rights of war," of which its own military necessities must be the final judge.
"But," say the serene thinkers and scholars whom the rogues use as mouthpieces, "our object is simply to defend the Constitution. We do not believe that the Government has any of the so-called 'rights of war' against the rebels. If Jefferson Davis has committed the crime of treason, he has the same right to be tried by a jury of the district in which his alleged crime was committed that a murderer has to be tried by a similar jury. We know that Mr. Davis, in case the rebellion is crushed, will not only be triumphantly acquitted, but will be sent to Congress as Senator from Mississippi. This is mortifying in itself, but it still is a beautiful illustration of the merits of our admirable system of government. It enables the South to play successfully the transparent game of 'Heads I win, tails you lose,' and so far must be reckoned bad. But this evil is counterbalanced by so many blessings, that nobody but a miserable Abolitionist will think of objecting to the arrangement. We, on the whole, agree with the traitors, whose designs we lazily aid, in thinking that Jeff. Davis and Charles Sumner are equally guilty, in a fair estimate of the causes of our present misfortunes. Hang both, we say; and we say it with an inward confidence that neither will be hanged, if the true principles of the Constitution be carried out."
The political rogues and the class of honest men we have referred to are, therefore, practically associated in one party to oppose the present Government. The rogues lead; the honest men follow. If this new party succeeds, we shall have the worst party in power that the country has ever known. Buchanan as President, and Floyd as Secretary of War, were bad enough. But Buchanan and Floyd had no large army to command, no immense material of war to direct. As far as they could, they worked mischief, and mischief only. But their means were limited. The Administration which will succeed that of Abraham Lincoln will have under its control one of the largest and ablest armies and navies in the world. Every general and every admiral will be compelled to obey the orders of the Administration. If the Administration be in the hands of secret traitors, the immense military and naval power of the country will be used for its own destruction. A compromise will be patched up with the Rebel States. The leaders of the rebellion will be invited back to their old seats of power. A united South combined with a Pro-slavery faction in the North will rule the nation. And all this enormous evil will be caused by the simplicity of honest men in falling into the trap set for them by traitors and rogues.
REVIEWS AND LITERARY NOTICES.
The Tariff-Question, considered in Regard to the Policy of England and the Interests of the United States; with Statistical, and Comparative Tables. By ERASTUS B. BIGELOW. Boston: Little, Brown, & Co. 4to.
Under this modest title, the American public is presented with a work of uncommon research, and of great practical utility and value. Its author is well known as a skilful and most successful inventor, in whose admirable power-looms nearly all the carpets of the world are now woven. On the subject of manufactures few can speak with more authority, whether in reference to its general bearings or its minute details. The work before us affords ample proof of his ability to discuss one of the most important questions in political economy.
The hundred pages of text are followed by two hundred and thirty-four pages of tabular statistics. This large and well-arranged body of invaluable information, though styled an appendix, was, in fact, the precursor of the argument, and constitutes the solid base on which it rests. These tables are "not mere copies or abstracts, but the result of labored and careful selection, comparison, and combination." In this treasury of facts, derived for the most part from official records, the commercial and industrial interests of the United States and of England, especially, are presented in all their most important aspects and relations. The amount of information here given is immense; and knowing, as we do, the scrupulous care of the collector, we cannot doubt its accuracy. Independently of its connection with the author's argument, this feature of the work cannot fail to give it value and a permanent place in every library, office, counting-room, and workshop of the country.
In his discussion of the tariff question, Mr. Bigelow assumes it as a settled principle of national policy that revenue should be raised by duties on imports. To clear the ground from ambiguity, he states exactly what he means when he uses the terms "free-trade" and "protection," and then proceeds to describe and explain the tariff-policy of Great Britain. Not without good reason does he give this prominence to the action of that great power. It is not merely that England stands at the head of manufacturing and commercial nations, or that our business-connections with her are intimate and extensive. The fact which makes English policy so important an element in the discussion is found in the persistent and too often successful efforts of that country to shape American opinion and legislation on questions of manufacture and trade. Nowhere else have we seen the utter fallacy of the free-trade argument, as urged by Great Britain on other countries upon the strength of her own successful example, so clearly shown. The nature, object, extent, and motive of the tariff-reforms effected by Sir Robert Peel and Mr. Gladstone are made plain, not only by the quoted explanations of those statesmen, but by statistical facts and figures. Until she had carried her manufactures to a height of prosperity where competition could no longer touch them, England was, of all nations, the most protective. Then she became of a sudden wondrously liberal. Her protective laws were abolished, and, with a mighty show of generosity, she opened her ports to the commerce of the world. Foreign producers were magnanimously told that they could send their goods freely into England at a time when English manufactures were underselling and supplanting theirs in their own markets. The sacrifice of duties actually made by England on foreign manufactures, and which she paraded before the world as a reason why other nations should imitate and reciprocate her action, amounted, as we learn from the work before us, to this immense annual sum of two hundred and eighteen thousand dollars, being "less than one-fourth part of the tax which Englishmen annually pay for the privilege of keeping their dogs!"
It is true that the exports and trade of England have increased with extraordinary rapidity since 1853, and that the free-trade economists of that country ascribe this great prosperity in large degree to their alleged reforms. That they have no good ground for such a representation is shown conclusively by Mr. Bigelow. During the same period, France, with high protection, and the United States, with moderate protection, made equal or even greater advances. The causes of this increased prosperity must, therefore, have been general in their nature and influence. The progress of invention and discovery, and the increased supply of gold, are mentioned by the author as among the most efficient.
The immense extent and vast importance of English manufactures, and especially of the cotton-manufacture, are fully unfolded, and we cannot wonder at the earnest and unceasing efforts of that country to preserve and to extend this great interest. This necessity is strikingly evinced in the section on "The Dependent Condition of England." We can only allude to this part of the argument, as full of striking suggestions, and as showing that in some very important respects England is the most dependent of all countries, and that the continued maintenance of her life and power rests on the maintenance of her manufacturing supremacy. In the section headed "Efforts of England to extend her Manufactures," we have some curious and instructive history, and we specially commend this part of the work to those who have been accustomed to lend a willing ear to British talk on the subjects of protection and free-trade.
Mr. Bigelow devotes a short, but graphic and comprehensive, section to the "Condition and Resources of the United States." "The Tariffs of the United States," their merits and defects, are briefly considered. His "Reasons in Favor of a Protective Policy" leave, as it seems to us, very little to be said on the other side. From a multitude of passages which we have been tempted to quote, we select the following, as a not unfavorable specimen of the work:—
"War is an evil to which we are always liable, and shall continue to be liable, until the Millennium comes. With reference to this always existent danger, no nation which is not willing to be trampled on can safely take its position on Quaker ground. That the possible event may not find us unprepared, we build fortresses and war-ships, and maintain armies and artillery at vast expense. No one but the mere visionary denies the propriety or the necessity of this. Yet it is demonstrable that a nation about to be involved in war will find a well-developed industrial and productive power of more real value than any or than all of the precautionary measures above mentioned; since, without such power, neither forts nor armies can long be sustained.
"It is obvious that the doctrine of free-trade (I mean, of course, genuine free-trade, and not the British counterfeit) ignores the probability, if not, indeed, the possibility of war. Could peace, perpetual and universal, be guarantied to the world, the argument against protection would possess a degree of strength, which, as things now are, does not and cannot belong to it. May it not be well for us to consider, whether, on the whole, we can do better than to take things as they are, by conforming our national policy, not to an imaginary era of universal peace and philanthropy, but to the hard and selfish world in which we happen to live?
"Lest this remark should be misinterpreted, I disclaim all intent to intimate that men acting in communities are released from those obligations of morality and justice which bind them as individuals. As civilization advances and mankind become more enlightened and virtuous, the beneficial change cannot fail to show itself in the public councils of the world, and in the kinder and broader spirit that will animate and control the intercourse of nations. Meanwhile, let us not expect to find in collective humanity the disinterested goodness which is so rarely exhibited by the individual members. Let us rather assume that other nations will act, in the main, on selfish principles; and let us shape our own course as a nation in accordance with that presumption. Few, I think, will call this uncharitable, when they recall to mind our own experience during the year past. Why were so many among us surprised and disappointed at the course pursued by the English, generally, in reference to our domestic difficulties? Simply because they forgot, that, with the mass of mankind, self-interest is a far stronger motive than philanthropy. That England should sympathize, even in the slightest degree, with a rebellious conspiracy against a kindred and friendly nation,—a conspiracy based openly and confessedly on the extension and perpetuity of an institution—which Englishmen everywhere professed to regard with the deepest abhorrence,—was certainly very inconsistent; but it was not at all strange. In fact, it was precisely the thing which we might expect would happen under the circumstances. Those who made the mistake have learned a lesson in human nature which should prevent them from repeating the blunder."