* * * * *
We shall not need much argument to convince us that the subjugation of Mexico does not, either in character or methods, differ much from other acts of the French ruler. Nevertheless, the details are curious and instructive. It must be allowed that Mexico had given the Allies causes of offence. She left unpaid large sums due from her to foreign bond-holders. The subjects of the allied powers, temporarily resident in Mexico, were robbed by forced loans, and sometimes imprisoned, and even murdered. To redress these grievances, an expedition was fitted out by the combined powers of England, France, and Spain. The objects of the expedition were, first, to obtain satisfaction for past wrongs, and, second, some security against their recurrence in the future. It was expressly agreed by all parties, that the Mexicans should be left entirely free to choose for themselves their own form of government. Later events would seem to prove that England and Spain were sincere in their professions.
Everything went on smoothly until the capture of Vera Cruz. Then the French Emperor unfolded secret plans which were not contained in the original programme. They were these: To take advantage of the weakness of the United States to establish in Mexico a European influence; to take possession of its capital city; and thence to impose upon the Mexican people a government more agreeable than the present to the Allies. England and Spain retired from the expedition with scarcely concealed disgust, declaring, in almost so many words, that they did not come into Mexico to rob another people of their rights, but to gain redress and protection for their own subjects. Louis Napoleon does not even seek to conceal his intentions from us. "We propose," he says, "to restore to the Latin race on the other side of the Atlantic all its strength and prestige. We have an interest, indeed, in the Republic of the United States being powerful and prosperous; but not that she should take possession of the whole Gulf of Mexico, thence to command the Antilles as well as South America, and to be the only dispenser of the products of the New World." This is plain enough. What will be the final form of settlement we do not even conjecture. It is probable that the Emperor does not himself know. With our fortunes so unsettled, and with so many European jealousies to conciliate, even his astute genius may well be puzzled as to the wisest policy. But it is of no consequence what particular government France may impose upon the conquered State,—monarchical, vice-regal, or republican,—Maximilian, a Bonaparte, or some one of the seditious Mexican chiefs. In either case, if the French plan succeeds, the broad country which Cortes won and Spain lost, will be virtually a dependency of France.
* * * * *
Even while we write, France has embarked in yet other schemes of colonial aggrandizement. She has just purchased the port of Oboch on the eastern coast of Africa, near the entrance of the Red Sea. The place is not laid down upon the maps; nor is its naval and commercial importance known; but its proximity to Aden suggests that it may be intended as a checkmate to that English stronghold. In the great island of Madagascar she is founding mercantile establishments whose exact character have not as yet been divulged; but experience teaches us that these enterprises are likely to be pursued with promptness and vigor.
Thus France is displaying in colonial affairs an aggressive activity which was scarcely to have been expected. To what extent she may perfect her plans no one can prophesy. That she will be able to girdle the earth with her possessions, and rear strongholds in every sea, is not probable. England has chosen almost at her leisure what spots of commercial advantage or military strength she will occupy; and the whole world hardly affords the material for another colonial system as wide and comprehensive.
* * * * *
There is one consideration which ought not to be overlooked. It is this: the relations which Louis Napoleon has succeeded in maintaining between himself and that power which had the most interest in defeating his schemes, and the most ability to do it. Under the Bourbons, the whole policy of France was based upon a principle of settled and unchangeable enmity to England. As a result, war always broke out while French preparations were incomplete; and the concentrated English navy swept from the sea almost every vestige of an opposing force. The present French emperor has adopted an altogether different course. He has sought the friendship of England. He has multiplied occasions of mutual action. He has sedulously avoided occasions of offence. Kinglake, in his "Crimean War," intimates that Louis Napoleon desired this alliance with England and her noble Queen to cover up the terrible wrongs by which he had obtained his authority. It is more likely far that he sought it in order that under its shadow he might build himself up to resistless power: just as an oak planted beneath the shade of other trees grows to strength and majesty only to cut down its benefactors.
This proposal for alliance was unquestionably received by the English people at first with feelings akin to disgust. The memory of the bad faith by which power had been won, of the wrongs and exile of the greatest statesmen and soldiers of France, and of the red carnage of the Boulevards, was too recent to make such a friendship attractive. Though acceptance of it might be good policy, yet it could not be yielded without profound reluctance. But soon this early sentiment gave way to something like pride. It was so satisfactory to think that the allied powers were wellnigh irresistible; that they had only to speak and it must be done; that they could dictate terms to the world; that they could scourge back even the Russian despot, seeking to pour down his hordes from the icy North to more genial climes. It is hardly surprising, then, that men came to congratulate themselves upon so favorable an alliance, and concluded to overlook the defect in his title in consideration of the solid benefits which the occupant of the French throne conferred.
But this feeling could not last. When the people of England saw how inevitably Louis Napoleon reaped from every conflict some selfish advantage, how the Crimean War gave him all the prestige, and the Italian War the coveted province of Nice, they began to doubt his fair professions. And this jealousy is fast deepening into fear. The English people have an instinct of approaching danger. Any one can see that the "entente cordiale" is not quite what it once was. When a British Lord of Admiralty can rise in his place in Parliament, and, after alluding to the powerful and increasing naval force of France, add,—"I say that any Ministry who did not act upon that statement, and did not at once set about putting the country in the position she ought to occupy in respect to her navy, would deserve to be sent to the Tower or penitentiary,"—we may be sure that England has as much jealousy as trust, and perhaps quite as much alarm as either.
But we have only to look at her acts to know what England is thinking. For six years she has been engaged in an unceasing war with France,—not, indeed, with swords and bayonets, but as really with her workshops and dockyards. She has tasked these to their uttermost to maintain and increase her naval superiority. And this is not the only evidence we have of her true feeling. The building of new fortifications for her ports, and the enlargement and strengthening of the old defences, all tell the same story of profound distrust. "Plymouth has been made secure. The mouth of the Thames is thought to be impregnable." That is the way English papers write. Around Portsmouth and Gosport she has thrown an immense girdle of forts. We may think what we will of Cherbourg, England views it in the light of a perpetual menace. To the proud challenge she has sent back a sturdy defiance. Right opposite to it, on her nearest shore, she has reared a "Gibraltar of the Channel." If you take your map, you will perceive, facing Cherbourg, and projecting from the southern coast of England, the little island of Portland, which at low tide becomes a peninsula, and is connected with the main land by Chesil Bank, a low ridge of shingle ten miles long. On the extreme north of this island, looking down into Weymouth Bay, is a little cluster of rocky hills, rising sharply to a considerable height, and occupying, perhaps, a space of sixty acres. This is where the fortress, or Veme, as it is called, is built. On the northern side, the cliff lifts itself up from the waters of the bay almost in a perpendicular line, and is absolutely inaccessible. On all other sides the Veme has been isolated by a tremendous chasm, which makes the dry ditch of the fort. This chasm has been blasted into the solid rock, and is nowhere less than a hundred feet wide and eighty feet deep. At the angles of the fortress it widens to two hundred feet, and sinks beneath the batteries in a sheer perpendicular of one hundred and thirty feet. Two bastions jut from the main work into it, protecting it from approach by a terrible cross-fire. All the appointments are upon the same scale. The magazines, the storehouses, the water-tanks, are built to furnish supplies for a siege, not of months, but of years. On every side the rocky surface of the hills has been shaved down below the level of its guns; so that there is not a spot seaward or landward that may not be swept by its tremendous batteries. Such is this remarkable stronghold which is rising to completion opposite Cherbourg. Yet it is but one of several strong forts which are to protect the single harbor of Weymouth Bay. Was this Titanic work reared in the spirit of trust? Does it speak of England's hope of abiding friendship with France? No; it tells us that beneath seeming amity a deadly struggle is going on,—that every dock hollowed, every ship launched, every colony seized, and every fortress reared, is but another step in a silent, but real, contest for supremacy.
When this hidden fire shall burst forth into a devouring flame, when this seeming alliance shall change into open enmity and bitter war, no one can prophesy. But no doubt sooner or later. For between nations, as well as in the bosom of communities, there are irrepressible conflicts, which no alliances, no compacts, and no motives of wisdom or interest can forever hold in check. And when it shall burst forth, no one can foretell what its end shall be. That dread uncertainty, more than all these things else, keeps the peace. We can but think that the naval preeminence of England has grown out of the real character of her people and of their pursuits,—and that the same causes which, in the long, perilous conflicts of the past, have enabled her to secure the sovereignty of the seas, will strengthen her to maintain that sovereignty in all the conflicts which in the future may await her. But, whatever may be the result, to whomsoever defeat may come, nothing can obliterate from the pages of history the record of the sagacity, perseverance, and courage with which the French people and their ruler have striven to overcome a maritime inferiority, whose origin, perhaps, is in the structure of their society and in the nature of their race.
* * * * *
SOMETHING LEFT UNDONE.
Labor with what zeal we will, Something still remains undone, Something, uncompleted still, Waits the rising of the sun.
By the bedside, on the stair, At the threshold, near the gates, With its menace or its prayer, Like a mendicant it waits:
Waits, and will not go away,— Waits, and will not be gainsaid. By the cares of yesterday Each to-day is heavier made,
Till at length it is, or seems, Greater than our strength can bear,— As the burden of our dreams, Pressing on us everywhere;
And we stand from day to day Like the dwarfs of times gone by, Who, as Northern legends say, On their shoulders held the sky.
* * * * *
THE GREAT INSTRUMENT.
Early in the month of November the mysterious curtain which has hidden the work long in progress at the Boston Music Hall will be lifted, and the public will throng to look upon and listen to the GREAT ORGAN.
It is the most interesting event in the musical history of the New World. The masterpiece of Europe's master-builder is to uncover its veiled front and give voice to its long-brooding harmonies. The most precious work of Art that ever floated from one continent to the other is to be formally displayed before a great assembly. The occasion is one of well-earned rejoicing, almost of loud triumph; for it is the crowning festival which rewards an untold sum of devoted and conscientious labor, carried on, without any immediate recompense, through a long series of years, to its now perfect consummation. The whole community will share in the deep satisfaction with which the public-spirited citizens who have encouraged this noble undertaking, and the enterprising; and untiring lover of science and art who has conducted it from the first, may look upon their completed task.
What is this wondrous piece of mechanism which has cost so much time and money, and promises to become one of the chief attractions of Boston and a source of honest pride to all cultivated Americans? The organ, as its name implies, is the instrument, in distinction from all other and less noble instruments. We might almost think it was called organ as being a part of an unfinished organism, a kind of Frankenstein-creation, half framed and half vitalized. It breathes like an animal, but its huge lungs must be filled and emptied by alien force. It has a wilderness of windpipes, each furnished with its own vocal adjustment, or larynx. Thousands of long, delicate tendons govern its varied internal movements, themselves obedient to the human muscles which are commanded by the human brain, which again is guided in its volitions by the voice of the great half-living creature. A strange cross between the form and functions of animated beings, on the one hand, and the passive conditions of inert machinery, on the other! Its utterance rises through all the gamut of Nature's multitudinous voices, and has a note for all her outward sounds and inward moods. Its thunder is deep as that of billows that tumble through ocean-caverns, and its whistle is sharper than that of the wind through their narrowest crevice. It roars louder than the lion of the desert, and it can draw out a thread of sound as fine as the locust spins at hot noon on his still tree-top. Its clustering columns are as a forest in which every music-flowering tree and shrub finds its representative. It imitates all instruments; it cheats the listener with the sound of singing choirs; it strives for a still purer note than can be strained from human throats, and emulates the host of heaven with its unearthly "voice of angels." Within its breast all the passions of humanity seem to reign in turn. It moans with the dull ache of grief, and cries with the sudden thrill of pain; it sighs, it shouts, it laughs, it exults, it wails, it pleads, it trembles, it shudders, it threatens, it storms, it rages, it is soothed, it slumbers.
Such is the organ, man's nearest approach to the creation of a true organism.
But before the audacious conception of this instrument ever entered the imagination of man, before he had ever drawn a musical sound from pipe or string, the chambers where the royal harmonies of his grandest vocal mechanism were to find worthy reception were shaped in his own marvellous structure. The organ of hearing was finished by its Divine Builder while yet the morning stars sang together, and the voices of the young creation joined in their first choral symphony. We have seen how the mechanism of the artificial organ takes on the likeness of life; we shall attempt to describe the living organ in common language by the aid of such images as our ordinary dwellings furnish us. The unscientific reader need not take notice of the words in parentheses.
The annexed diagram may render it easier to follow the description.
The structure which is to admit Sound as a visitor is protected and ornamented at its entrance by a light movable awning (the external ear). Beneath and within this opens a recess or passage, (meatus auditorium externus,) at the farther end of which is the parchment-like front-door, D (membrana tympani).
Beyond this is the hall or entry, H, (cavity of the tympanum,) which has a ventilator, V, (Eustachian tube,) communicating with the outer air, and two windows, one oval, o, (fenestra ovalis,) one round, r, (fenestra rotunda,) both filled with parchment-like membrane, and looking upon the inner suite of apartments (labyrinth).
This inner suite of apartments consists of an antechamber, A, (vestibule,) an arched chamber, B, (semicircular canals,) and a spiral chamber, S, (cochlea,) with a partition, P, dividing it across, except for a small opening at one end. The antechamber opens freely into the arched chamber, and into one side of the partitioned spiral chamber. The other side of this spiral chamber looks on the hall by the round window already mentioned; the oval window looking on the hall belongs to the antechamber. From the front-door to the oval window of the antechamber extends a chain, c, (ossicula auditus,) so connected that a knock on the first is transmitted instantly to the second. But as the round window of the spiral chamber looks into the hall, the knock at the front-door will also make itself heard at and through that window, being conveyed along the hall.
In each division of the inner suite of apartments are the watchmen, (branches of the auditory nerve,) listening for the approach of Sound. The visitor at length enters the porch, and knocks at the front-door. The watchmen in the antechamber hear the blow close to them, as it is repeated, through the chain, on the window of their apartment. The impulse travels onward into the arched chamber, and startles its tenants. It is transmitted into one half of the partitioned spiral chamber, and rouses the recumbent guardians in that apartment. Some portion of it even passes the small opening in the partition, and reaches the watchmen in the other half of the room. But they also hear it through the round window, not as it comes through the chain, but as it resounds along the hall.
Thus the summons of Sound reaches all the watchmen, but not all of them through the same channels or with the same force. It is not known how their several precise duties are apportioned, but it seems probable that the watchmen in the spiral chamber observe the pitch of the audible impulse which reaches them, while the others take cognizance of its intensity and perhaps of its direction.
Such is the plan of the organ of hearing as an architect might describe it. But the details of its special furnishing are so intricate and minute that no anatomist has proved equal to their entire and exhaustive delineation. An Italian nobleman, the Marquis Corti, has hitherto proved most successful in describing the wonderful key-board found in the spiral chamber, the complex and symmetrical beauty of which is absolutely astonishing to those who study it by the aid of the microscope. The figure annexed shows a small portion of this extraordinary structure. It is from Koelliker's well-known work on Microscopic Anatomy.
Enough has been said to show that the ear is as carefully adjusted to respond to the blended impressions of sound as the eye to receive the mingled rays of light; and that as the telescope presupposes the lens and the retina, so the organ presupposes the resonant membranes, the labyrinthine chambers, and the delicately suspended or exquisitely spread-out nervous filaments of that other organ, whose builder is the Architect of the universe and the Master of all its harmonies.
Not less an object of wonder is that curious piece of mechanism, the most perfect, within its limited range of powers, of all musical instruments, the organ of the human voice. It is the highest triumph of our artificial contrivances to reach a tone like that of a singer, and among a hundred organ-stops none excites such admiration as the vox humana; a brief account of the vocal organ will not, therefore, be out of place. The principles of the action of the larynx are easily illustrated by reference to the simpler musical instruments. In a flute or flageolet the musical sound is produced by the vibration of a column of air contained in its interior. In a clarionet or a bassoon another source of sound is added in the form of a thin slip of wood contained in the mouth-piece, and called the reed, the vibrations of which give a superadded nasal thrill to the resonance of the column of air.
The human organ of voice is like the clarionet and the bassoon. The windpipe is the tube containing the column of air. The larynx is the mouth-piece containing the reed. But the reed is double, consisting of two very thin membranous edges, which are made tense or relaxed, and have the interval between them through which the air rushes narrowed or widened by the instinctive, automatic action of a set of little muscles. The vibration of these membranous edges (chordae vocales) produces a musical sound, just as the vibration of the edge of a finger-bowl produces one when a wet finger is passed round it. The cavities of the nostrils, and their side-chambers, with their light, elastic sounding-boards of thin bone, are essential to the richness of the tone, as all singers find out when those passages are obstructed by a cold in the head.
The human voice, perfect as it may be in tone, is yet always very deficient in compass, as is obvious from the fact that the bass voice, the barytone, the contralto, and the soprano have all different registers, and are all required to produce a complete vocal harmony. If we could make organ-pipes with movable, self-regulating lips, with self-shortening and self-lengthening tubes, so that each tube should command the two or three octaves of the human voice, a very limited number of them would be required. But as each tube has but a single note, we understand why we have those immense clusters of hollow columns. As we wish to produce different effects, sometimes using the pure flute-sounds, at other times preferring the nasal thrill of the reed-instruments, we see why some of the tubes have simple mouths and others are furnished with vibratory tongues. And, lastly, we can easily understand that the great interior spaces of the organ must of themselves furnish those resonant surfaces which we saw provided for, on a small scale, in the nasal passages,—the sounding-board of the human larynx.
* * * * *
The great organ of the Music Hall is a choir of nearly six thousand vocal throats. Its largest windpipes are thirty-two feet in length, and a man can crawl through them. Its finest tubes are too small for a baby's whistle. Eighty-nine stops produce the various changes and combinations of which its immense orchestra is capable, from the purest solo of a singing nun to the loudest chorus in which all its groups of voices have their part in the full flow of its harmonies. Like all instruments of its class, it contains several distinct systems of pipes, commonly spoken of as separate organs, and capable of being played alone or in connection with each other. Four manuals, or hand key-boards, and two pedals, or foot key-boards, command these several systems,—the solo organ, the choir organ, the swell organ, and the great organ, and the piano and forte pedal-organ. Twelve pairs of bellows, which it is intended to move by water-power, derived from the Cochituate reservoirs, furnish the breath which pours itself forth in music. Those beautiful effects, for which the organ is incomparable, the crescendo and diminuendo,—the gradual rise of the sound from the lowest murmur to the loudest blast, and the dying fall by which it steals gently back into silence,—the dissolving views, so to speak, of harmony,—are not only provided for in the swell-organ, but may be obtained by special adjustments from the several systems of pipes and from the entire instrument.
It would be anticipating the proper time for judgment, if we should speak of the excellence of the musical qualities of the great organ before having had the opportunity of hearing its full powers displayed. We have enjoyed the privilege, granted to few as yet, of listening to some portions of the partially mounted instrument, from which we can confidently infer that its effect, when all its majestic voices find utterance, must be noble and enchanting beyond all common terms of praise. But even without such imperfect trial, we have a right, merely from a knowledge of its principles of construction, of the preeminent skill of its builder, of the time spent in its construction, of the extraordinary means taken to insure its perfection, and of the liberal scale of expenditure which has rendered all the rest possible, to feel sure that we are to hear the instrument which is and will probably long remain beyond dispute the first of the New World and second to none in the Old in the sum of its excellences and capacities.
The mere comparison of numbers of pipes and of stops, or of external dimensions, though it gives an approximative idea of the scale of an organ, is not so decisive as it might seem as to its real musical effectiveness. In some cases, many of the stops are rather nominal than of any real significance. Even in the Haarlem organ, which has only about two-thirds as many as the Boston one, Dr. Burney says, "The variety they afford is by no means what might be expected." It is obviously easy to multiply the small pipes to almost any extent. The dimensions of an organ, in its external aspect, must depend a good deal on the height of the edifice in which it is contained. Thus, the vaulted roof of the Cathedral of Ulm permitted the builder of our Music-Hall organ to pile the facade of the one he constructed for that edifice up to the giddy elevation of almost a hundred feet, while the famous instrument in the Town Hall of Birmingham has only three-quarters of the height of our own, which is sixty feet. It is obvious also that the effective power of an organ does not depend merely on its size, but that the perfection of all its parts will have quite as much to do with it. In judging a vocalist, we can form but a very poor guess of the compass, force, quality of the voice, from a mere inspection of the throat and chest. In the case of the organ, however, we have the advantage of being able to minutely inspect every throat and larynx, to walk into the interior of the working mechanism, and to see the adaptation of each part to its office. In absolute power and compass the Music-Hall organ ranks among the three or four mightiest instruments ever built. In the perfection of all its parts, and in its whole arrangements, it challenges comparison with, any the world can show.
Such an instrument ought to enshrine itself in an outward frame that should correspond in some measure to the grandeur and loveliness of its own musical character. It has been a dream of metaphysicians, that the soul shaped its own body. If this many-throated singing creature could have sung itself into an external form, it could hardly have moulded one more expressive of its own nature. We must leave to those more skilled in architecture the detailed description of that noble facade which fills the eye with music as the voices from behind it fill the mind through the ear with vague, dreamy pictures. For us it loses all technical character in its relations to the soul of which it is the body. It is as if a glorious anthem had passed into outward solid form in the very ecstasy of its grandest chorus. Milton has told us of such a miracle, wrought by fallen angels, it is true, but in a description rich with all his opulence of caressing and ennobling language:—
"Anon out of the earth a fabric huge Rose, like an exhalation, with the sound Of dulcet symphonies and voices sweet, Built like a temple, where pilasters round Were set, and Doric pillars overlaid With golden architrave; nor did there want Cornice or frieze with bossy sculptures grav'n."
The structure is of black walnut, and is covered with carved statues, busts, masks, and figures in the boldest relief. In the centre a richly ornamented arch contains the niche for the key-boards and stops. A colossal mask of a singing woman looks from over its summit. The pediment above is surmounted by the bust of Johann Sebastian Bach. Behind this rises the lofty central division, containing pipes, and crowning it is a beautiful sitting statue of Saint Cecilia, holding her lyre. On each side of her a griffin sits as guardian. This centre is connected by harp-shaped compartments, filled with pipes, to the two great round towers, one on each side, and each of them containing three colossal pipes. These magnificent towers come boldly forward into the hall, being the most prominent, as they are the highest and stateliest, part of the facade. At the base of each a gigantic half-caryatid, in the style of the ancient hermae, but finished to the waist, bends beneath the superincumbent weight, like Atlas under the globe. These figures are of wonderful force, the muscular development almost excessive, but in keeping with their superhuman task. At each side of the base two lion-hermae share in the task of the giant. Over the base rise the round pillars which support the dome and inclose the three great pipes already mentioned. Graceful as these look in their position, half a dozen men might creep into one of them and lie hidden. A man of six feet high went up a ladder, and standing at the base of one of them could just reach to put his hand into the mouth at its lower part, above the conical foot. The three great pipes are crowned by a heavily sculptured, ribbed, rounded dome; and this is surmounted, on each side, by two cherubs, whose heads almost touch the lofty ceiling. This whole portion of the sculpture is of eminent beauty. The two exquisite cherubs of one side are playing on the lyre and the lute; those of the other side on the flute and the horn. All the reliefs that run round the lower portion of the dome are of singular richness. We have had an opportunity of seeing one of the artist's photographs, which showed in detail the full-length figures and the large central mask of this portion of the work, and found them as beautiful on close inspection as the originals at a distance.
Two other lateral compartments, filled with pipes, and still more suggestive of the harp in their form, lead to the square lateral towers. Over these compartments, close to the round tower, sits on each side a harper, a man on the right, a woman on the left, with their harps, all apparently of natural size. The square towers, holding pipes in their open interior, are lower than the round towers, and fall somewhat back from the front. Below, three colossal hermae of Sibyl-like women perform for them the office which the giants and the lion-shapes perform for the round towers. The four pillars which rise from the base are square, and the dome which surmounts them is square also. Above the dome is a vase-like support, upon which are disposed figures of the lyre and other musical symbols.
The whole base of the instrument, in the intervals of the figures described, is covered with elaborate carvings. Groups of musical instruments, standing out almost detached from the background, occupy the panels. Ancient and modern, clustered with careless grace and quaint variety, from the violin down to a string of sleigh-bells, they call up all the echoes of forgotten music, such as the thousand-tongued organ blends together in one grand harmony.
The instrument is placed upon a low platform, the outlines of which are in accordance with its own. Its whole height is about sixty feet, its breadth forty-eight feet, and its average depth twenty-four feet. Some idea of its magnitude may be got from the fact that the wind-machinery and the swell-organ alone fill up the whole recess occupied by the former organ, which was not a small one. All the other portions of the great instrument come forward into the hall.
In front of its centre stands Crawford's noble bronze statue of Beethoven, the gift of our townsman, Mr. Charles C. Perkins. It might be suggested that so fine a work of Art should have a platform wholly to itself; but the eye soon reconciles itself to the position of the statue, and the tremulous atmosphere which surrounds the vibrating organ is that which the almost breathing figure would seem to delight in, as our imagination invests it with momentary consciousness.
As we return to the impression produced by the grand facade, we are more and more struck with the subtile art displayed in its adaptations and symbolisms. Never did any structure we have looked upon so fully justify Madame de Stael's definition of architecture, as "frozen music." The outermost towers, their pillars and domes, are all square, their outlines thus passing without too sudden transitions from the sharp square angles of the vaulted ceiling and the rectangular lines of the walls of the hall itself into the more central parts of the instrument, where a smoother harmony of outline is predominant. For in the great towers, which step forward, as it were, to represent the meaning of the entire structure, the lines are all curved, as if the slight discords which gave sharpness and variety to its less vital portions were all resolved as we approached its throbbing heart. And again, the half fantastic repetitions of musical forms in the principal outlines—the lyre-like shape of the bases of the great towers, the harp-like figure of the connecting wings, the clustering reeds of the columns—fill the mind with musical suggestions, and dispose the wondering spectator to become the entranced listener.
The great organ would be but half known, if it were not played in a place fitted for it in dimensions. In the open air the sound would be diluted and lost; in an ordinary hall the atmosphere would be churned into a mere tumult by the vibrations. The Boston Music Hall is of ample size to give play to the waves of sound, yet not so large that its space will not be filled and saturated with the overflowing resonance. It is one hundred and thirty feet in length by seventy-eight in breadth and sixty-five in height, being thus of somewhat greater dimensions than the celebrated Town Hall of Birmingham. At the time of building it, (1852,) its great height was ordered partly with reference to the future possibility of its being furnished with a large organ. It will be observed that the three dimensions above given are all multiples of the same number, thirteen, the length being ten times, the breadth six times and the height five times this number. This is in accordance with Mr. Scott Russell's recommendation, and has been explained by the fact that vibrating solids divide into harmonic lengths, separated by nodal points of rest, and that these last are equally distributed at aliquot parts of its whole length. If the whole extent of the walls be in vibration, its angles should come in at the nodal points in order to avoid the confusion arising from different vibrating lengths; and for this reason they are placed at aliquot parts of its entire length. Thus the hall is itself a kind of passive musical instrument, or at least a sounding-board, constructed on theoretical principles. Whatever is thought of the theory, it proves in practice to possess the excellence which is liable to be lost in the construction of the best-designed edifice.
* * * * *
We have thus attempted to give our readers some imperfect idea of the great instrument, illustrating it by the objects of comparison with which we are most familiar, and leaving to others the more elaborate work of subjecting it to a thorough artistic survey, and the rigorous analysis necessary to bring out the various degrees of excellence in its special qualities, which, as in a human character, will be found to mark its individuality. We shall proceed to give some account of the manner in which the plan of obtaining the best instrument the Old World could furnish to the New was formed, matured, and carried into successful execution.
It is mainly to the persistent labors of a single individual that our community is indebted for the privilege it now enjoys in possessing an instrument of the supreme order, such as make cities illustrious by their presence. That which is on the lips of all it can wrong no personal susceptibilities to tell in print; and when we say that Boston owes the Great Organ chiefly to the personal efforts of the present President of the Music-Hall Association, Dr. J. Baxter Upham, the statement is only for the information of distant readers.
Dr. Upham is widely known to the medical profession in connection with important contributions to practical science. His researches on typhus fever, as observed by him at different periods, during and since the years 1847 and 1848, in this country, and as seen at Dublin and in the London Fever Hospital, were recognized as valuable contributions to the art of medicine. More recently, as surgeon in charge of the Stanley General Hospital, Eighteenth Army Corps, he has published an account of the "Congestive Fever" prevailing at Newborn, North Carolina, during the winter and spring of 1862-63. We must add to these practical labors the record of his most ingenious and original investigations of the circulation in the singular case of M. Groux, which had puzzled so many European experts, and to which, with the tact of a musician, he applied the electro-magnetic telegraphic apparatus so as to change the rapid consecutive motions of different parts of the heart, which puzzled the eye, into successive sounds of a character which the ear could recognize in their order. It was during these experiments, many of which we had the pleasure of witnessing, that the "side-show" was exhibited of counting the patient's pulse, through the wires, at the Observatory in Cambridge, while it was beating in Dr. Upham's parlor in Boston. Nor should we forget that other ingenious contrivance of his, the system of sound-signals, devised during his recent term of service as surgeon, and applied with the most promising results, as a means of intercommunication between different portions of the same armament.
In the summer of 1853, less than a year after the Music Hall was opened to the public, Dr. Upham, who had been for some time occupied with the idea of procuring an organ worthy of the edifice, made a tour in Europe with the express object of seeing some of the most famous instruments of the Continent and of Great Britain. He examined many, especially in Germany, and visited some of the great organ-builders, going so far as to obtain specifications from Mr. Walcker of Ludwigsburg, and from Weigl, his pupil at Stuttgart. On returning to this country, he brought the proposition of procuring a great instrument in Europe in various ways before the public, among the rest by his "Reminiscences of a Summer Tour," published in "Dwight's Journal of Music." After this he laid the matter before the members of the Harvard Musical Association, and, having thus gradually prepared the way, presented it for consideration before the Board of Directors of the Music-Hall Association. A committee was appointed "to consider." There was some division of opinion as to the expediency of the more ambitious plan of sending abroad for a colossal instrument. There was a majority report in its favor, and a verbal minority report advocating a more modest instrument of home manufacture. Then followed the anaconda-torpor which marks the process of digestion of a huge and as yet crude project by a multivertebrate corporation.
On the first of March, 1856, the day of the inauguration of Beethoven's statue, a subscription-paper was started, headed by Dr. Upham, for raising the sum of ten thousand dollars. At a meeting in June the plan was brought before the stockholders of the Music Hall, who unanimously voted to appropriate ten thousand dollars and the proceeds of the old organ, on condition that fifteen thousand dollars should be raised by private subscription. In October it was reported to the Directors that ten thousand dollars of this sum were already subscribed, and Dr. Upham, President of the Board, pledged himself to raise the remainder on certain conditions, which were accepted. He was then authorized to go abroad to investigate the whole subject, with full powers to select the builder and to make the necessary contracts.
Dr. Upham had already made an examination of the best organs and organ-factories in New England, New York, and elsewhere in this country, and received several specifications and plans from builders. He proceeded at once, therefore, to Europe, examined the great English instruments, made the acquaintance of Mr. Hopkins, the well-known organist and recognized authority on all matters pertaining to the instrument, and took lessons of him in order to know better the handling of the keys and the resources of the instrument. In his company, Dr. Upham examined some of the best instruments in London. He made many excursions among the old churches of Sir Christopher Wren's building, where are to be found the fine organs of "Father Smith," John Snetzler, and other famous builders of the past. He visited the workshops of Hill, Gray and Davidson, Willis, Robson, and others. He made a visit to Oxford to examine the beautiful organ in Trinity College. He found his way into the organ-lofts of St. Paul's, of Westminster Abbey, and the Temple Church, during the playing at morning and evening service. He inspected Thompson's enharmonic organ, and obtained models of various portions of organ-structure.
From London Dr. Upham went to Holland, where he visited the famous instruments at Haarlem, Amsterdam, and Rotterdam, and the organ-factory at Utrecht, the largest and best in Holland. Thence to Cologne, where, as well as at Utrecht, he obtained plans and schemes of instruments; to Hamburg, where are fine old organs, some of them built two or three centuries ago; to Lubeck, Dresden, Breslau, Leipsic, Halle, Merseburg. Here he found a splendid organ, built by Ladergast, whose instruments excel especially in their tone-effects. A letter from Liszt, the renowned pianist, recommended this builder particularly to Dr. Upham's choice. At Frankfort and at Stuttgart he found two magnificent instruments, built by Walcker of Ludwigsburg, to which place he repaired in order to examine his factories carefully, for the second time. Thence the musical tourist proceeded to Ulm, where is the sumptuous organ, the work of the same builder, ranking, we believe, first in point of dimensions of all in the world. Onward still, to Munich, Bamberg, Augsburg, Nuremberg, along the Lake of Constance to Weingarten, where is that great organ claiming to have sixty-six stops and six thousand six hundred and sixty-six pipes; to Freyburg, in Switzerland, where is another great organ, noted for the rare beauty of its vox-humana stop, the mechanism of which had been specially studied by Mr. Walcker, who explained it to Dr. Upham.
Returning to Ludwigsburg, Dr. Upham received another specification from Mr. Walcker. He then passed some time at Frankfort examining the specifications already received and the additional ones which came to him while there.
At last, by the process of exclusion, the choice was narrowed down to three names, Schultze, Ladergast, and Walcker, then to the two last. There was still a difficulty in deciding between these. Dr. Upham called in Mr. Walcker's partner and son, who explained every point on which he questioned them with the utmost minuteness. Still undecided, he revisited Merseburg and Weissenfels, to give Ladergast's instruments another trial. The result was that he asked Mr. Walcker for a third specification, with certain additions and alterations which he named. This he received, and finally decided in his favor,—but with the condition that Mr. Walcker should meet him in Paris for the purpose of examining the French organs with reference to any excellences of which he might avail himself, and afterwards proceed to London and inspect the English instruments with the same object.
The details of this joint tour are very interesting, but we have not space for them. The frank enthusiasm with which the great German organ-builder was received in France contrasted forcibly with the quiet, not to say cool, way in which the insular craftsmen received him, gradually, however, warming, and at last, with a certain degree of effort, admitting him to their confidence.
A fortnight was spent by Dr. Upham in company with Walcker and Mr. Hopkins in studying and perfecting the specification, which was at last signed in German and English, and stamped with the notarial seal, and thus the contract made binding.
A long correspondence relating to the instrument followed between Dr. Upham, the builder, and Mr. Hopkins, ending only with the shipment of the instrument. A most interesting part of this was Dr. Upham's account of his numerous original experiments with the natural larynx, made with reference to determining the conditions requisite for the successful imitation of the human voice in the arrangement called vox humana. Mr. Walcker has availed himself of the results of these experiments in the stop as made for this organ, but with what success we are unable to say, as the pipes have not been set in place at the time of our writing. As there is always great curiosity to hear this particular stop, we will guard our readers against disappointment by quoting a few remarks about that of the Haarlem organ, made by the liveliest of musical writers, Dr. Burney.
"As to the vox humana, which is so celebrated, it does not at all resemble a human voice, though a very good stop of the kind; but the world is very apt to be imposed upon by names; the instant a common hearer is told that an organist is playing upon a stop which resembles the human voice, he supposes it to be very fine, and never inquires into the propriety of the name, or exactness of the imitation. However, with respect to our own feelings, we must confess, that, of all the stops which we have yet heard, that have been honored with the appellation of vox humana, no one in the treble part has ever reminded us of anything human, so much as the cracked voice of an old woman of ninety, or, in the lower parts, of Punch singing through a comb." Let us hope that this most irreverent description will not apply to the vox humana of our instrument, after all the science and skill that have been expended upon it. Should it prove a success like that of the Freyburg organ, there will be pilgrimages from the shores of the Pacific and the other side of the Atlantic to listen to the organ that can sing: and what can be a more miraculous triumph of art than to cheat the ear with such an enchanting delusion?
Before the organ could be accepted, it was required by the terms of the contract to be set up at the factory, and tested by three persons: one to be selected by the Organ Committee of the Music-Hall Association, one by the builder, and a third to be chosen by them. Having been approved by these judges, and also by the State-Commissioner of Wuertemberg, according to the State ordinance, the result of the trial was transmitted to the President and Directors of the Music-Hall Association, and the organ was accepted.
The war broke out in the mean time, and there were fears lest the vessel in which the instrument might be shipped should fall a victim to some of the British corsairs sailing under Confederate colors. But the Dutch brig "Presto," though slow, was safe from the licensed pirates, unless an organ could be shown to be contraband of war. She was out so long, however,—nearly three months from Rotterdam,—that the insurance-office presidents shook their heads over her, fearing that she had gone down with all her precious freight.
"At length," to borrow Dr. Upham's words, "one stormy Sunday in March she was telegraphed from the marine station down in the bay, and the next morning, among the marine intelligence, in the smallest possible type, might be read the invoice of her cargo thus:—
"'Sunday Mar. 22
"'Arr. Dutch brig Presto, Van Wyngarten, Rotterdam, Jan. 1. Helvoet, 10th Had terrific gales from SW the greater part of the passage. 40 casks gin JD & M Williams 8 sheep Chenery & Co 200 bags coffee 2 casks herrings 1 case cheese W. Winsel 1 organ JB Upham 20 pipes 6 casks gin JD Richards 6 casks nutmegs J Schumaker 20 do gin 500 bags chickory root Order,' etc., etc.
"And this was the heralding of this greatest marvel of a high and noble art, after the labor of seven years bestowed upon it, having been tried and pronounced complete by the most fastidious and competent of critics, the wonder and admiration of music-loving Germany, the pride of Wuertemberg, bringing a new phase of civilization to our shores in the darkest hour of our country's trouble."
It remains to give a brief history of the construction of the grand and imposing architectural frame which we have already attempted to describe. Many organ-fronts were examined with reference to their effects, during Dr. Upham's visits of which we have traced the course, and photographs and sketches obtained for the same purpose. On returning, the task of procuring a fitting plan was immediately undertaken. We need not detail the long series of trials which were necessary before the requirements of the President and Directors of the Music-Hall Association were fully satisfied. As the result of these, it was decided that the work should be committed to the brothers Herter, of New York, European artists, educated at the Royal Academy of Art in Stuttgart. The general outline of the facade followed a design made by Mr. Hammatt Billings, to whom also are due the drawings from which the Saint Cecilia and the two groups of cherubs upon the round towers were modelled. These figures were executed at Stuttgart; the other carvings were all done in New York, under Mr. Herter's direction, by Italian and German artists, one of whom had trained his powers particularly to the shaping of colossal figures. In the course of the work, one of the brothers Herter visited Ludwigsburg for the special purpose of comparing his plans with the structure to which they were to be adapted, and was received with enthusiasm, the design for the front being greatly admired.
The contract was made with Mr. Herter in April, 1860, and the work, having been accepted, was sent to Boston during the last winter, and safely stored in the lecture-room beneath the Music Hall. In March the Great Work arrived from Germany, and was stored in the hall above.
"The seven-years' task is done,—the danger from flood and fire so far escaped,—the gantlet of the pirates safely run,—the perils of the sea and the rail surmounted by the good Providence of God."
The devout gratitude of the President of the Association, under whose auspices this great undertaking has been successfully carried through, will be shared by all lovers of Art and all the friends of American civilization and culture. We cannot naturalize the Old-World cathedrals, for they were the architectural embodiment of a form of worship belonging to other ages and differently educated races. But the organ was only lent to human priesthoods for their masses and requiems; it belongs to Art, a religion of which God himself appoints the high-priests. At first it appears almost a violence to transplant it from those awful sanctuaries, out of whose arches its forms seemed to grow, and whose echoes seemed to hold converse with it, into our gay and gilded halls, to utter its majestic voice before the promiscuous multitude. Our hasty impression is a wrong one. We have undertaken, for the first time in the world's history, to educate a nation. To teach a people to know the Creator in His glorious manifestations through the wondrous living organs is a task for which no implement of human fabrication is too sacred; for all true culture is a form of worship, and to every rightly ordered mind a setting forth of the Divine glory.
This consummate work of science and skill reaches us in the midst of the discordant sounds of war, the prelude of that blessed harmony which will come whenever the jarring organ of the State has learned once more to obey its keys.
God grant that the Miserere of a people in its anguish may soon be followed by the Te Deum of a redeemed Nation!
* * * * *
THE KING'S WINE.
The small green grapes in countless clusters grew, Feeding on mystic moonlight and white dew And mellow sunshine, the long summer through:
Till, with blind motion in her veins, the Vine Felt the delicious pulses of the wine, And the grapes ripened in the year's decline.
And day by day the Virgins watched their charge; And when, at last, beyond the horizon's marge The harvest-moon dropt beautiful and large,
The subtile spirit in the grape was caught, And to the slowly dying Monarch brought In a great cup fantastically wrought,
Whereof he drank; then straightway from his brain Went the weird malady, and once again He walked the Palace free of scar or pain,—
But strangely changed, for somehow he had lost Body and voice: the courtiers, as he crost The royal chambers, whispered,—"The King's Ghost!"
* * * * *
MONOGRAPH FROM AN OLD NOTE-BOOK; WITH A POSTSCRIPT.
"ERIPUIT COELO FULMEN, SCEPTRUMQUE TYRANNIS."
In a famous speech, made in the House of Lords, March 16, 1838, against the Eastern slave-trade, Lord Brougham arrests the current of his eloquence by the following illustrative diversion:—
"I have often heard it disputed among critics, which of all quotations was the most appropriate, the most closely applicable to the subject-matter illustrated; and the palm in generally awarded to that which applied to Dr. Franklin the line in Claudian,—
'Eripuit fulmen coelo, mox sceptra tyrannis';
yet still there is a difference of opinion, and even that citation, admirably close as it is, has rivals."
The British orator errs in attributing this remarkable verse to Claudian; and he errs also in the language of the verse itself, which he fails to quote with entire accuracy. And this double mistake becomes more noticeable, when it appears not merely in the contemporary report, but in the carefully prepared collection of speeches, revised at leisure, and preserved in permanent volumes.
The beauty of this verse, even in its least accurate form, will not be questioned, especially as applied to Franklin, who, before the American Revolution, in which it was his fortune to perform so illustrious a part, had already awakened the world's admiration by drawing the lightning from the skies. But beyond its acknowledged beauty, this verse has an historic interest which has never been adequately appreciated. Appearing at the moment it did, it is closely associated with the acknowledgment of American Independence. Plainly interpreted, it calls George III. "tyrant," and announces that the sceptre has been snatched from his hands. It was a happy ally to Franklin in France, and has ever since been an inspiring voice. Latterly it has been adopted by the city of Boston, and engraved on granite in letters of gold,—in honor of its greatest child and citizen. It may not be entirely superfluous to recount the history of a verse which has justly attracted so much attention, and which, in the history of civilization, has been of more value than the whole State of South Carolina.
From its first application to Franklin, this verse has excited something more than curiosity. Lord Brougham tells us that it is often discussed in private circles. There is other evidence of the interest it has created. For instance, in an early number of "Notes and Queries" there is the following inquiry:—
"Can you tell me who wrote the line on Franklin, 'Eripuit,'etc.?
"HENRY H. BREEN.
A subsequent writer in this same work, after calling the verse "a parody" of a certain line of antiquity, says,—"I am unable to say who adapted these words to Franklin's career. Was it Condorcet?" Another writer in the same work says,—"The inscription was written by Mirabeau."
I remember well a social entertainment in Boston, where a most distinguished scholar of our country, in reply to an inquiry made at the table, said that the verse was founded on the following line from the "Astronomicon" of Manilius,—
"Eripuit Jovi fulmen, viresque tonandi."
John Quincy Adams, who was present, seemed to concur. Mr. Sparks, in his notes to the correspondence of Franklin, attributes it to the same origin. But there are other places where its origin is traced with more precision. One of the correspondents of "Notes and Queries" says that he has read, but does not remember where, "that this line was immediately taken from one in the 'Anti-Lucretius' of Cardinal Polignac." Another correspondent shows the intermediate authority. My own notes were originally made without any knowledge of these studies, which, while fixing its literary origin, fail to exhibit the true character of the verse, both in its meaning and in the time when it was uttered.
The verse cannot be found in any ancient writer,—not Claudian or anybody else. It is clear that it does not come from antiquity, unless indirectly; nor does it appear that at the time of its first production it was in any way referred to any ancient writer. Manilius was not mentioned. The verse is of modern invention, and was composed after the arrival of Franklin in Paris on his eventful mission. At first it was anonymous; but it was attributed sometimes to D'Alembert and sometimes to Turgot. Beyond question, it was not the production of D'Alembert, while it will be found in the Works of Turgot, published after his death, in the following form:—
"Eripuit coelo fulmen, sceptrumque tyrannis."
There is no explanation by the editor of the circumstances under which the verse was written; but it is given among poetical miscellanies of the author, immediately after a translation into French of Pope's "Essay on Man," and is entitled "Inscription for a Portrait of Benjamin Franklin." It appears that Turgot also tried his hand in these French verses, having the same idea:—
"Le voila ce mortel dont l'heureuse industrie Sut enchainer la Foudre et lui donner des loix, Dont la sagesse active et l'eloquente voix D'un pouvoir oppresseur affranchit sa Patrie, Qui desarma les Dieux, qui reprime les Rois."
The single Latin verse is a marvellous substitute for these diffuse and feeble lines.
If there were any doubt upon its authorship, it would be removed by the positive statement of Condorcet, who, in his Life of Turgot, written shortly after the death of this great man, says, "There is known from Turgot but one Latin verse, designed for a portrait of Franklin"; and he gives the verse in this form:—
"Eripuit coelo fulmen, mox sceptra tyrannis."
But Sparks and Mignet, in their biographies, and so also both the biographical dictionaries of France,—that of Michaud and that of Didot,—while ascribing the verse to Turgot, concur in the form already quoted from Turgot's Works, which was likewise adopted by Ginguene, the scholar who has done so much to illustrate Italian literature, on the title-page of his "Science du Bon-Homme Richard," with an abridged Life of Franklin, in 1794, and by Cabanis, who lived in such intimacy with Franklin. It cannot be doubted that it was the final form which this verse assumed,—as it is unquestionably the best.
To appreciate the importance of this verse, as marking and helping a great epoch, there are certain dates which must not be forgotten. Franklin reached Paris on his mission towards the close of 1776. He had already signed the Declaration of Independence, and his present duty was to obtain the recognition of France for the new power. The very clever Madame Du Deffant, in her amusing correspondence with Horace Walpole, describes him in a visit to her "with his fur cap on his head and his spectacles on his nose," in the same small circle with Madame de Luxembourg, a great lady of the time, and the Duke de Choiseul, late Prime-Minister. This was on the thirty-first of December, 1776. A pretty good beginning. More than a year of effort and anxiety ensued, brightened at last by the news that Burgoyne had surrendered at Saratoga. On the sixth of February, 1778, the work of the American Plenipotentiary was crowned by the signature of the two Treaties of Alliance and Commerce by which France acknowledged our Independence and pledged her belligerent support. On the fifteenth of March, one of these treaties, with a diplomatic note announcing that the Colonies were free and independent States, was communicated to the British Government, at London, which was promptly encountered by a declaration of war from Great Britain. On the twenty-second of March, Franklin was received by the King at Versailles, and this remarkable scene is described by the same feminine pen to which we are indebted for the early glimpse of him on his arrival in Paris. But throughout this intervening period he had not lived unknown. Indeed, he had become at once a celebrity. Lacretelle, the eminent French historian, says, "By the effect which Franklin produced, he appears to have fulfilled his mission, not with a court, but with a free people. His virtues and renown negotiated for him."
Condorcet, who was a part of that intellectual society which welcomed the new Plenipotentiary, has left a record of his reception. "The celebrity of Franklin in the sciences," he says, "gave him the friendship of all who love or cultivate them, that is, of all who exert a real and durable influence upon public opinion. At his arrival he became an object of veneration to all enlightened men, and of curiosity to others. He submitted to this curiosity with the natural facility of his character, and with the conviction that in this way he served the cause of his country. It was an honor to have seen him. People repeated what they had heard him say. Every fete which he consented to receive, every house where he consented to go, spread in society new admirers, who became so many partisans of the American Revolution.... Men whom the works of philosophy had disposed secretly to the love of liberty were impassioned for that of a strange people. A general cry was soon raised in favor of the American War, and the friends of peace dared not even complain that peace was sacrificed to the cause of liberty." This is an animated picture by an eye-witness. But all authorities concur in its truthfulness. Even Capefigue—whose business is to belittle all that is truly great, and especially to efface those names which are associated with human liberty, while, like another Old Mortality, he furbishes the tombstones of royal mistresses—is yet constrained to bear witness to the popularity and influence which Franklin achieved. The critic dwells on what he styles his "Quaker garb," "his linen so white under clothes so brown," and also the elaborate art of the philosopher, who understood France and knew well "that a popular man became soon more powerful than power itself"; but he cannot deny that the philosopher "fulfilled his duties with great superiority," or that he became at once famous.
The arrival of Franklin was followed very soon by the departure of the youthful Lafayette, who crossed the sea to offer his generous sword to the service of American liberty. Our cause was now widely known. In the thronged cafes and the places of public resort it was discussed with sympathy and admiration. And so completely was Franklin recognized as the representative of new ideas, that the Emperor Joseph II. of Austria,—professed reformer as he was,—on one of his visits to France under the travelling-name of Count Falkenstein, is reported to have firmly avoided all temptation to see him, saying, "My business is to be a Royalist,"—thus doing homage to the real character of Franklin, in whom the Republic was personified.
Franklin was at once, by natural attraction, the welcome guest of that brilliant company of philosophers who exercised such influence over the eighteenth century. The "Encyclopedie" was their work, and they were masters at the Academy. He was received into their guild. At the famous table of the Baron D'Holbach, where twice a week, Sunday and Thursday, at dinner, lasting from two till seven o'clock, the wits of that time were gathered, he found a hospitable chair. But he was most at home with Madame Helvetius, the widow of the rich and handsome philosopher, whose name, derived from Holland, is now almost unknown. At her house he met in social familiarity D'Alembert, Diderot, D'Holbach, Morellet, Cabanis, and Condorcet, with their compeers. There, also, was Turgot, the greatest of all. There was another person in some respects as famous as any of these, but leading a very different life, whom Franklin saw often,—I refer to Caron de Beaumarchais, the author already of the "Barbier de Seville," as he was afterwards of the "Mariage de Figaro," who, turning aside from an unsurpassed success at the theatre, exerted his peculiar genius to enlist the French Government on the side of the struggling Colonies, predicted their triumph, and at last, under the assumed name of a mercantile house, became the agent of the Comte de Vergennes in furnishing clandestine supplies of arms even before the recognition of Independence. It is supposed that through this popular dramatist Franklin maintained communications with the French Government until the mask was thrown aside.
Beyond all doubt, Turgot is one of the most remarkable intelligences which France has produced. He was by nature a philosopher and a reformer, but he was also a statesman, who for a time held a seat in the cabinet of Louis XVI., first as Minister of the Marine, and then as Comptroller of the Finances. Perhaps no minister ever studied more completely the good of the people. His administration was one constant benefaction. But he was too good for the age in which he lived,—or rather, the age was not good enough for him. The King was induced to part with him, saying, when he yielded,—"You and I are the only two persons who really love the people." This was some time in May, 1776; so that Franklin, on his arrival, found this eminent Frenchman free from all the constraints of a ministerial position. The character of Turgot shows how naturally he sympathized with the Colonies struggling for independence, especially when represented by a person like Franklin. In a prize essay of his youth, written in 1750, when he was only twenty-three years of age, he had foretold the American Revolution. These are his remarkable words on that occasion:—
"Colonies are like fruits, which do not hold to the tree after their maturity. Having become sufficient in themselves, they do that which Carthage did, that which America will one day do."
One of his last acts before leaving the Ministry was to prepare a memoir on the American War, for the information of the Comte de Vergennes, in which he says "that the idea of the absolute separation of the Colonies and the mother-country seems infinitely probable; that, when the independence of the Colonies shall be entire and acknowledged by the English, there will be a total revolution in the political and commercial relations of Europe and America; and that all the mother-countries will be forced to abandon all empire over their colonies, to leave them entire liberty of commerce with all nations, and to be content in sharing with others this liberty, and in preserving with their colonies the bonds of amity and fraternity." This memoir of the French statesman bears date the sixth of April, 1776, nearly three months before the Declaration of Independence.
On leaving the Ministry, Turgot devoted himself to literature, science, and charity, translating Odes of Horace and Eclogues of Virgil, studying geometry with Bossut, chemistry with Lavoisier, and astronomy with Rochon, and interesting himself in every thing by which human welfare could be advanced. Such a character, with such an experience of government, and the prophet of American independence, was naturally prepared to welcome Franklin, not only as philosopher, but as statesman also.
But the classical welcome of Turgot was partially anticipated,—at least in an unsuccessful attempt. Baron Grimm, in that interesting and instructive "Correspondance," prepared originally for the advantage of distant courts, but now constituting one of the literary and social monuments of the period, mentions, under date of October, 1777, that the following French verses were made for a portrait of Franklin by Cochin, engraved by St. Aubin:—
"C'est l'honneur et l'appui du nouvel hemisphere; Les flots de l'Ocean s'abaissent a sa voix; Il reprime ou dirige a son gre le tonnerre; Qui desarme les dieux, peut-il craindre les rois?"
These verses seem to contain the very idea in the verse of Turgot. But they were suppressed at the time by the censor on the ground that they were "blasphemous,"—although it is added in a note that "they concerned only the King of England." Was it that the negotiations with Franklin were not yet sufficiently advanced? And here mark the dates.
It was only after the communication to Great Britain of the Treaty of Alliance and the reception of Franklin at Versailles, that the seal seems to have been broken. Baron Grimm, in his "Correspondance," under date of April, 1778, makes the following entry:—
"A very beautiful Latin verse has been made for the portrait of Dr. Franklin,—
'Eripuit coelo fulmen, sceptrumque tyrannis.'
It is a happy imitation of a verse of the 'Anti-Lucretius,'—
'Eripuitque Jovi fulmen, Phoeboque sagittas.'"
Here is the earliest notice of this verse, authenticating its origin. Nothing further is said of the "Anti-Lucretius"; for in that day it was familiar to every lettered person. But I shall speak of it before I close.
Only a few days later the verse appears in the correspondence of Madame D'Epinay, whose intimate relations with Baron Grimm—the subject of curiosity and scandal—will explain her early knowledge of it. She records it in a letter to the very remarkable Italian Abbe Galiani, under date of May 3d, 1778. And she proceeds to give a translation in French verse, which she says "D'Alembert made the other day between sleeping and waking." Galiani, who was himself a master of Latin versification, and followed closely the fortunes of America, must have enjoyed the tribute. In a letter written shortly afterwards, he enters into all the grandeur of the occasion. "You have," says he, "at this hour decided the greatest question of the globe,—that is, if it is America which shall reign over Europe, or Europe which shall continue to reign over America. I would wager in favor of America." In these words the Neapolitan said as much as Turgot.
A little later the verse appears in a different scene. It had reached the salons of Madame Doublet, whence it was transferred to the "Memoires Secrets de Bachaumont," under date of June 8th, 1778, as "a very beautiful verse, proper to characterize M. Franklin and to serve as an inscription for his portrait." These Memoirs, as is well known, are the record of conversations and news gathered in the circle of that venerable Egeria of gossip; and here is evidence of the publicity which this welcome had already obtained.
The verse was now fairly launched. War was flagrant between France and Great Britain. There was no longer any reason why the new alliance between France and the United States should not be placed under the auspices of genius, and why the same hand which had snatched the lightning from the skies should not have the fame of snatching the sceptre from King George III. The time for free speech had come. It was no longer "blasphemous."
But it will be observed that these records of this verse fail to mention the immediate author. Was he unknown at the time? Or did the fact that he was recently a cabinet-minister induce him to hide behind a mask? Turgot was a master of epigram,—as witness the terrible lines on Frederick of Prussia; but he was very prudent in conduct. "Nobody," said Voltaire, "so skilful to launch the shaft without showing the hand." But there is a letter from no less a person than D'Alembert, which reveals something of the "filing" which this verse underwent, and something of the persons consulted. Unhappily, the letter is without date; nor does it appear to whom it was addressed, except that the "cher confrere" seems to imply that it was to a brother of the Academy. This letter will be found in a work which is now known to have been the compilation of the Marquis Gaetan de La Rochefoucauld, entitled, "Memoires de Condorcet sur la Revolution Francaise, extraits de sa Correspondance et de celle de ses Amis." It is introduced by the following words from the Marquis:—
"It is known how Franklin had been feted when he came to Paris, because he was the representative of a republic. The philosophers, especially, received him with enthusiasm. It may be said, among other things, that D'Alembert lost his sleep; and we are going to prove it by a letter which he wrote, where he put himself to the torture in order to versify in honor of Franklin."
The letter is then given as follows:—
"MY DEAR COLLEAGUE,—You are acquainted with the Franklin verse,—
'Eripuit coelo fulmen, mox sceptra tyrannis.'
You should surely cause it to be put in the Paris paper, if it is not there already.
"I should agree with La Harpe that sceptrumque is better: first, because mox sceptra is a little hard, and then because mox, according to the dictionary of Gesner, who collects examples, signifies equally statim or deinde, which causes a double meaning, mox eripuit or mox eripiet.
"However, here is how I have attempted to translate this verse for the portrait of Franklin:—
'Tu vois le sage courageux Dont l'heureux et male genie Arracha le tonnerre aux dieux Et le sceptre a la tyrannie.'
If you find these verses sufficiently supportable, so that people will not laugh at me, you can put them into the Paris paper, even with my name. I shall honor myself in rendering this homage to Franklin, but on condition that you find the verses printable. As I make no pretension on account of them, I shall be perfectly content, if you reject them as bad.
"The third verse can be put,—A ravi le tonnerre aux cieux, or aux dieux."
From this letter it appears that the critical judgment of La Harpe, confirmed by D'Alembert, sided for sceptrumque as better than mox sceptra.
But the verse of Turgot was not alone in its testimony. There was an incident precisely contemporaneous, which shows how completely France had fallen under the fascination of the American cause. Voltaire, the acknowledged chief of French literature in the brilliant eighteenth century, after many years of busy exile at Ferney, in the neighborhood of Geneva, where he had wielded his far-reaching sceptre, was induced, in his old age, to visit Paris once again before he died. He left his Swiss retreat on the sixth of February, 1778, the very day on which Franklin signed the Alliance with France, and after a journey which resembled the progress of a sovereign, he reached Paris on the twelfth of February. He was at once surrounded by the homage of all that was most illustrious in literature and science, while the theatre, grateful for his contributions to the drama, vied with the Academy. But there were two characters on whom the patriarch, as he was fondly called, lavished a homage of his own. He had already addressed to Turgot a most remarkable epistle in verse, the mood of which may be seen in its title, "Epitre a un Homme"; but on seeing the discarded statesman, who had been so true to benevolent ideas, he came forward to meet him, saying, with his whole soul, "Let me kiss the hand which signed the salvation of the people." The scene with Franklin was more touching still. Voltaire began in English, which he had spoken early in life, but, having lost the habit, he soon charted to French, saying that he "could not resist the desire of speaking for one moment the language of Franklin." The latter had brought with him his grandson, for whom he asked a benediction. "God and Liberty," said Voltaire, putting his hands upon the head of the child; "this is the only benediction proper for the grandson of Franklin." A few days afterward, at a public session of the Academy, they were placed side by side, when, amidst the applause of the enlightened company, the two old men rose and embraced. The political triumphs of Franklin and the dramatic triumphs of Voltaire caused the exclamation, that "Solon embraced Sophocles." But it was more than this. It was France embracing America, beneath the benediction of "God and Liberty." Only a few days later, Voltaire died. But the alliance with France had received a new assurance, and the cause of American Independence an unalterable impulse.
Turgot did not live to enjoy the final triumph of the cause to which he had given such remarkable expression. He died March 30th, 1781, several months before that "crowning mercy," the capture of Cornwallis, and nearly two years before the Provisional Articles of Peace, by which the Colonies were recognized as free and independent States. But his attachment to Franklin was one of the enjoyments of his latter years. Besides the verse to which so much reference has been made, there is an interesting incident which attests the communion of ideas between them, if not the direct influence of Turgot. Captain Cook, the eminent navigator, who "steered Britain's oak into a world unknown," was in distant seas on a voyage of discovery. Such an enterprise naturally interested Franklin, and, in the spirit of a refined humanity, he sought to save it from the chances of war. Accordingly, he issued a passport, addressed "To all captains and commanders of armed ships, acting by commission from the Congress of the United States of America, now in war with Great Britain," where, after setting forth the nature of the voyage of the English navigator, he proceeded to say,—"This is most earnestly to recommend to every one of you, that, in case the said ship, which is now expected to be soon in the European seas on her return, should happen to fall into your hands, you would not consider her as an enemy, nor suffer any plunder to be made of the effects contained in her, nor obstruct her immediate return to England; but that you would treat the said Captain Cook and his people with all civility and kindness, affording them, as common friends to mankind, all the assistance in your power which they may happen to stand in need of." This document bears date March 10th, 1779. But Turgot had anticipated Franklin. At the first outbreak of the war, he had submitted a memoir to the French Government, on which it was ordered that Captain Cook should not be treated as an enemy, but as a benefactor of all European nations. Here was a triumph of civilization, by which we have all been gainers; for such an example is immortal in its influence.
There is yet another circumstance which should be mentioned, in order to exhibit the identity of sympathies in these two eminent persons. Each sought to marry Madame Helvetius: Turgot early in life, while she was still Mademoiselle Ligniville, belonging to a family of twenty-one children, from a chateau in Lorraine, and the niece of Madame de Graffigny, the author of the "Peruvian Letters"; Franklin in his old age, while a welcome guest in the intellectual circle which this widowed lady continued to gather about her. Throughout his stay in France he was in unbroken relations with this circle, dining with it very often, and adding much to its gayety, while Madame Helvetius, with her friends, dined with him once a week. It was with tears in his eyes that he parted from her, whom he never expected to see again in this life; and on reaching his American home, he addressed her in words of touching tenderness:—"I stretch out my arms towards you, notwithstanding the immensity of the seas which separate us, while I wait the heavenly kiss which I firmly trust one day to give you."
But the story of the verse is not yet finished. And here it mingles with the history of Franklin in Paris, constituting in itself an episode of the American Revolution. The verse was written for a portrait. And now that the ice was broken, the portrait of Franklin was to be seen everywhere,—in painting, in sculpture, and in engraving. I have counted, in the superb collection of the Bibliotheque Imperiale at Paris, nearly a hundred engraved heads of him. At the royal exposition of pictures the republican portrait found a place, and the name of Franklin was printed at length in the catalogue,—a circumstance which did not pass unobserved at the time; for the "Espion Anglais," in recording it, treats it as "announcing that he began to come out from his obscurity." The same curious authority, describing a festival at Marseilles, says, under date of March 20th, 1779,—"I was struck, on entering the hall, to observe a crowd of portraits representing the insurgents; but that of M. Franklin especially drew my attention, on account of the device, 'Eripuit coelo,' etc. This was inscribed recently, and every one admired the sublime truth." Thus completely was France, not merely in its social centre, where fashion gives the law, but in its distant borders, pledged to the cause of which Franklin was the representative.
As in the halls of science and in popular resorts, so was our Plenipotentiary even in the palace of princes. The biographer of the Prince de Conde dwells with admiration upon the illustrious character who, during the great debate and the negotiations which ensued, had fixed the regards of Paris, of Versailles, of the whole kingdom indeed,—although in his simple and farmer-like exterior so unlike those gilded plenipotentiaries to whom France was accustomed,—and he recounts, most sympathetically, that the Prince, after an interview of two hours, declared that "Franklin appeared to him above even his reputation." And here again we encounter the unwilling testimony of Capefigue, who says that he was followed everywhere, taking possession of "hearts and minds," and that "his image, under the simple garb of a Quaker, was to be found at the hearth of the poor and in the boudoir of the beautiful";—all of which is in harmony with the more sympathetic record of Lacretelle, who says that "portraits of Franklin were everywhere, with this inscription, Eripuit coelo, etc., which the Court itself found just and sublime."
But it was at court, even in the precincts of Versailles, that the portrait and the inscription had their most remarkable experience. Of this there is an authentic account in the Memoirs of Marie Antoinette by her attendant, Madame Campan. This feminine chronicler relates that Franklin appeared at court in the dress of an American farmer. His flat hair without powder, his round hat, his coat of brown cloth contrasted with the bespangled and embroidered dresses, the powdered and perfumed hair of the courtiers of Versailles. The novelty charmed the lively imagination of French ladies. Elegant fetes were given to the man who was said to unite in himself the renown of a great, natural philosopher with "those patriotic virtues which had made him embrace the noble part of Apostle of Liberty." Madame Campan records that she assisted at one of these fetes, where the most beautiful among three hundred ladies was designated to place a crown of laurel upon the white head of the American philosopher, and two kisses upon the cheeks of the old man. Even in the palace, at the exposition of the Sevres porcelain, the medallion of Franklin, with the legend, "Eripuit coelo", etc., was sold directly under the eyes of the King. Madame Campan adds, however, that the King avoided expressing himself on this enthusiasm, which, she says, "without doubt, his sound sense made him blame." But an incident, called "a pleasantry," which has remained quite unknown, goes beyond speech in the way of explaining the secret sentiments of Louis XVI. The Comtesse Diane de Polignac, devoted to Marie Antoinette, shared warmly the "infatuation" with regard to Franklin. The King observed it. But here the story shall be told in the language of the eminent lady who records it:—"Il fit faire a la manufacture de Sevres un vase de nuit, an fond duquel etait place le medaillon avec la legende si fort en vogue, et l'envoya en present d'etrennes a la Comtesse Diane." Such was the exceptional treatment of Franklin, and of the inscription in his honor which was so much in vogue. Giving to this incident its natural interpretation, it is impossible to resist the conclusion, that the French people, and not the King, sanctioned American Independence.
The conduct of the Queen on this special occasion is not recorded; although we are told by the same communicative chronicler who had been Her Majesty's companion, that she did not hesitate to express herself more openly than the King on the part which France took in favor of the independence of the American Colonies, to which she was constantly opposed. A letter from Mario Antoinette, addressed to Madame de Polignac, under the date of April 9th, 1787, declares unavailing regret, saying,—"The time of illusions is past, and to-day we pay dear on account of our infatuation and enthusiasm for the American War." It is evident that Marie Antoinette, like her brother Joseph, thought that her "business was to be a Royalist."
But the name of Franklin triumphed in France. So long as he continued to reside there he was received with honor, and when, after the achievement of Independence, and the final fulfilment of all that was declared in the verse of Turgot, he undertook to return home, the Queen—who had looked with so little favor upon the cause which he so grandly represented—sent a litter to receive his sick body and carry him gently to the sea. As the great Revolution began to show itself, his name was hailed with new honor; and this was natural, for the great Revolution was the outbreak of that spirit which had risen to welcome him. In snatching the sceptre from a tyrant he had given a lesson to France. His death, when at last it occurred, was the occasion of a magnificent eulogy from Mirabeau, who, borrowing the idea of Turgot, exclaimed from the tribune of the National Assembly,—"Antiquity would have raised altars to the powerful genius, who, for the good of man, embracing in his thought heaven and earth, could subdue lightning and tyrants." On his motion, France went into mourning for Franklin. His bust was a favorite ornament, and, during the festival of Liberty, it was carried, with those of Sidney, Rousseau, and Voltaire, before the people to receive their veneration. A little later, the eminent medical character, Cabanis, who had lived in intimate association with Franklin, added his testimony, saying that the enfranchisement of the United States was in many respects his work, and that the Revolution, the most important to the happiness of men which had then been accomplished on earth, united with one of the most brilliant discoveries of physical science to consecrate his memory; and he concludes by quoting the verse of Turgot. Long afterwards, his last surviving companion in the cheerful circle of Madame Helvetius, still loyal to the idea of Turgot, hailed him as "that great man who had placed his country in the number of independent states, and made one of the most important discoveries of the age."
But it is time to look at this verse in its literary relations, from which I have been diverted by its commanding interest as a political event. Its importance on this account must naturally enhance the interest in its origin.
The poem which furnished the prototype of the famous verse was "Anti-Lucretius, sive de Deo et Natura," by the Cardinal Melchior de Polignac. Its author was of that patrician house which is associated so closely with Marie Antoinette in the earlier Revolution, and with Charles X. in the later Revolution, having its cradle in the mountains of Auvergne, near the cradle of Lafayette, and its present tomb in the historic cemetery of Picpus, near the tomb of Lafayette, so that these two great names, representing opposite ideas, begin and end side by side. He was not merely an author, but statesman and diplomatist also, under Louis XIV. and the Regent. Through his diplomacy a French prince was elected King of Poland. He represented France at the Peace of Utrecht, where he bore himself very proudly towards the Dutch. By the nomination of the Pretender, at that time in France, he obtained the hat of a cardinal. At Rome he was a favorite, and he was also, with some interruptions, a favorite at Versailles. His personal appearance, his distinguished manners, his genius, and his accomplishments, all commended him. Literary honors were superadded to political and ecclesiastical. He succeeded to the chair of Bossuet at the Academy. But he was not without the vicissitudes of political life. Falling into disgrace at court, he was banished to the abbacy of Bonport. There the scholarly ecclesiastic occupied himself with a refutation of Lucretius, in Latin verse.
The origin of the poem is not without interest. Meeting Bayle in Holland, the ecclesiastic found the indefatigable skeptic most persistently citing Lucretius, in whose elaborate verse the atheistic materialism of Epicurus is developed and exalted. Others had already answered the philosopher directly; but the indignant Christian was moved to answer the poet through whom the dangerous system was proclaimed. His poem was, therefore, a vindication of God and religion, in direct response to a master-poem of antiquity, in which these are assailed. The attempt was lofty, especially when the champion adopted the language of Lucretius. Perhaps, since Sannazaro, no modern production in Latin verse has found equal success. Even before its publication, in 1747, it was read at court, and was admired in the princely circle of Sceaux. It appeared in elegant, editions, was translated into French prose by Bougainville, and into French verse by Jeanty-Laurans, also most successfully into Italian verse by Ricci. At the latter part of the last century, when Franklin reached Paris, it was hardly less known in literary circles than a volume of Grote's History in our own day. Voltaire, the arbiter of literary fame at that time, regarding the author only on the side of literature, said of him, in his "Temple du Gout,"—
"Le Cardinal, oracle de la France, Reunissaut Virgile avec Platon, Vengeur du ciel et vainqueur de Lucrece."
The last line of this remarkable eulogy has a movement and balance not unlike the Latin verse of Turgot, or that which suggested it in the poem of Polignac; but the praise which it so pointedly offers attests the fame of the author; nor was this praise confined to the "fine frenzy" of verse. The "Anti-Lucretius" was gravely pronounced the "rival of the poem which it answered,"—"with verses as flowing as Ovid, sometimes approaching the elegant simplicity of Horace and sometimes the nobleness of Virgil,"—and then again, with a philosophy and a poetry combined "which would not be disavowed either by Descartes or by Virgil."
Turning now to the poem itself, we shall see how completely the verse of Turgot finds its prototype there. Epicurus is indignantly described as denying to the gods all power, and declaring man independent, so as to act for himself; and here the poet says, "Braving the thunderous recesses of heaven, he snatched the lightning from Jove and the arrows from Apollo, and, liberating the mortal race, ordered it to dare all things,"—
"Coeli et tonitralia templa lacessens, Eripuit fulmenque Jovi, Phoeboque sagittas; Et mortale manumittens genus, omnia jussit Audere."
To deny the power of God and to declare independence of His commands, which the poet here holds up to judgment, is very unlike the life of Franklin, all whose service was in obedience to God's laws, whether in snatching the lightning from the skies or the sceptre from tyrants; and yet it is evident that the verse which pictured Epicurus in his impiety suggested the picture of the American plenipotentiary in his double labors of science and statesmanship.
But the present story will not be complete without an allusion to that poem of antiquity which was supposed to have suggested the verse of Turgot, and which doubtless did suggest the verse of the "Anti-Lucretius." Manilius is a poet little known. It is difficult to say when he lived or what he was. He is sometimes supposed to have lived under Augustus, and sometimes under Theodosius. He is sometimes supposed to have been a Roman slave, and sometimes a Roman senator. His poem, under the name of "Astronomicon," is a treatise on astronomy in verse, which recounts the origin of the material universe, exhibits the relations of the heavenly bodies, and vindicates this ancient science. It is while describing the growth of knowledge, which gradually mastered Nature, that the poet says,—
"Eriputque Jovi fulmen, viresque tonandi."
The meaning of this line will be seen in the context, which, for plainness as well as curiosity, I quote from a metrical version of the first book of the poem, entitled, "The Sphere of Marcus Manilius made an English Poem, by Edward Sherburne," which was dedicated to Charles II.:—
"Nor put they to their curious search an end Till reason had scaled heaven, thence viewed this round And Nature latent in its causes found: Why thunder does the suffering clouds assail; Why winter's snow more soft than summer's hail; Whence earthquakes come and subterranean fires; Why showers descend, what force the wind inspires: From error thus the wondering minds uncharmed, Unsceptred Jove, the Thunderer disarmed."
Enough has been said on the question of origin; but there is yet one other aspect of the story.
The verse was hardly divulged when it became the occasion of various efforts in the way of translation. Turgot had already done it into French; so had D'Alembert. M. Nogaret wrote to Franklin, inclosing an attempted translation, and says in his letter,—"The French have done their best to translate the Latin verse, where justice is done you in so few words. They have appeared as jealous of transporting this eulogy into their language as they are of possessing you. But nobody has succeeded, and I think nobody will succeed." He then quotes a translation which he thinks defective, although it appeared in the "Almanach des Muses" as the best:—
"Cet homme que tu vois, sublime en tous les tems, Derobe aux dieux la foudre et le sceptre aux tyrans."
To this letter Dr. Franklin made the following reply:—
"Passy, 8 March, 1781.
"SIR,—I received the letter you have done me the honor of writing to me the 2d instant, wherein, after overwhelming me with a flood of compliments, which I can never hope to merit, you request my opinion of your translation of a Latin verse that has been applied to me. If I were, which I really am not, sufficiently skilled in your excellent language to be a proper judge of its poesy, the supposition of my being the subject must restrain me from giving any opinion on that line, except that it ascribes too much to me, especially in what relates to the tyrant, the Revolution having been the work of many able and brave men, wherein it is sufficient honor for me, if I am allowed a small share. I am much obliged by the favorable sentiments you are pleased to entertain of me.
"With regard, I have the honor to be, Sir, etc.,
In his acknowledgment of this letter M. Nogaret says,—"Paris is pleased with the translation of your 'Eripuit,' and your portrait, as I had foreseen, makes the fortune of the engraver." But it does not appear to which translation he refers.
Here is another attempt:—
"Il a par ses travaux, toujours plus etonnans, Ravi la foudre aux Dieux et le sceptre aux tyrans."
There are other verses which adopt the idea of Turgot. Here, for instance, is a part of a song by the Abbe Morellet, written for one of the dinners of Madame Helvetius:—
"Comme un aigle audacieux, Il a vole jusqu'aux cieux, Et derobe le tonnerre Dont ils effrayaient la terre, Heureux larcin De l'habile Benjamin.