The Blount brothers never went to church, but they almost always came into the village of a Sunday afternoon, and on this memorable day they were there as usual, but not together. John was earnestly discussing a new breed of cattle with a neighboring farmer, wholly oblivious of the false Nelly. James was standing with a group of young men on the village-green, when Isaac Welles, the whilom blackberry-boy, rushed up, breathless, to say that he had been detained in the church and had actually seen Nelly and Mr. Brooke married.
In the first eager questions that followed this announcement, no one noticed James, until they were astonished to see him fall heavily to the ground. He had fainted. They had not mentioned the publication of the banns to him, and he was wholly unprepared for this utter annihilation of all his hopes. Welles sprang to his side, and they raised him quickly. He was a strong man, and before they could bring any restoratives he had recovered.
"It is nothing," he said, with a sickly smile. "I think it must have been a sunstroke. It is confoundedly hot."
This lame explanation was accepted, and James refused to go into any of the neighbors' houses, though he consented to seat himself, for a few moments, on a rustic bench in the shade of the trees.
Half an hour later, John, having finished his chat, strolled to the green and approached the group. He looked surprised when he caught sight of his brother, who of late had so carefully avoided him. His astonishment increased when James rose, and, advancing a step, said,—
"John, Nelly Curtis is married to that Brooke!"
An angry flush rose to John's brow, and his black eyes flashed ominously, as he answered, in a hoarse, low voice,—
"So much the better, for now she will never be your wife."
"Neither mine nor yours," said James, maliciously;—then, after a moment, he added, "She was a worthless thing, and we are well rid of her."
At this, a tornado of passion seemed to seize John. He sprang forward, crying,—
"She was not worthless, and I will kill the first man who dares to say so."
There was an interval of dead silence; the brothers regarded each other for a moment, then James shrugged his shoulders contemptuously, and turned away. John glanced around him defiantly on the astonished crowd, and, seeing no one there likely to dispute with him, he seemed to have formed a sudden resolution, for he walked off rapidly after his brother.
Isaac Welles had stood by, no unobservant witness of this scene. He noted something in those two men's eyes that recalled the fierce quarrel of the two boys; and as soon as it was possible for him to get away, he went off after the Blounts, determined, if possible, to prevent mischief.
Meantime John had not met his brother; but, seeing James's horse was gone, he mounted his own and rode away towards home, determining to catch James before he could reach there. However, he did not overtake him. James was too cunning to ride directly to the farm-house, and John's headlong speed availed only to bring him there in time to find his mother alone and dangerously ill.
In a moment all other thoughts were laid aside. The pent-up affection of John's heart had centred itself on his only parent. She had always been cold and stern with her sons, yet they loved her with a tender devotion which reclaimed natures that might otherwise have been wholly bad.
With all the tenderness of a woman, John assisted his mother to her bed, and, not daring to leave her, awaited eagerly the coming of the only other person who could summon aid,—his brother James.
At last he came,—riding slowly, with bowed head, up the lonely road. John went out to meet him. James looked up angry and astonished, and immediately threw himself into a position of defence. John shook his head.
"James," he said, "I cannot settle our quarrel now. Mother is very ill,—perhaps dying."
James started forward.
"Where is she? What is the matter?" he cried, eagerly.
"I do not know," answered John. "I will go for the doctor, now that you are come. I durst not leave her before. But, James, stop one moment. As long as she lives, you are safe,—I will not hurt you by word or act; but when she is gone,—beware!"
James did not answer, except by a nod, and John, turning, saw Isaac Welles standing at the gate. He had overheard the conversation and felt that there was no danger of a quarrel, and he now came eagerly forward with offers of assistance. They were gratefully accepted; for even the taciturnity of the brothers seemed to give way before the pressing fear that beset them.
There is ever great good-will and kindness in the scattered community of a village, and, despite the unpopularity of the Blounts, neighbors and friends soon came to them, ready and willing to aid them by every means in their power.
Mrs. Blount's illness proved to be quite as alarming as John had feared. The physician, from the first, held out very little hope of her recovery. The strong, healthy woman was stricken, as if in a moment; it was the first real illness she had ever had, and it made fearful progress. Yet her naturally iron constitution resisted desperately, so that, to the astonishment of all who saw her sufferings, she lingered on, week after week, with wonderful tenacity of life. The summer faded into autumn, and autumn died into winter, and still she lived, failing slowly, each day losing strength, growing weaker and weaker, until it seemed as if she existed only by the force of will.
Of course it had long ago been found necessary to have some other dependence than the kindness of neighbors, and a stout Irish girl had been hired for the kitchen, while Mrs. Clark, a good, responsible woman, occupied the post of nurse. From these persons, and from Isaac Welles, the rest of the story is collected.
During all these months of her illness, the two brothers had been unfailing in their devotion to their poor suffering mother. Night and day they never tired, watching by her bedside for hours, and seeming scarcely to sleep. Of course they were much together, but no words of harshness ever passed their lips. When out of Mrs. Blount's presence, they spoke to each other as little as possible; in her presence, there was a studied civility that might have deceived any one but a mother. Even she was puzzled. She would lie and watch them with burning, eager eyes, striving to discover if it was a heartfelt reconciliation or only a hollow truce. It was the strong feeling she had that only her life kept them apart, which gave her power to defy death. Perhaps on this very account his stroke was all the more sudden at last.
It was a dark, lowering afternoon in December when the summons came. Mrs. Blount had been lying in a half-doze for more than an hour. Her sons had taken advantage of this sleep to attend to some necessary duties. The nurse sat beside the fire, watching the flames flicker on the dark walls, and idly wondering if the leaden-hued sky portended a snow-storm. Her musings were broken by the voice of the invalid, very faint, but quite distinct,—
"Nurse! nurse! Call my sons. I am dying!"
Mrs. Clark ran to the bed.
"Quick! quick!" cried Mrs. Blount. "Do not stop for me. You cannot help me now. Call my sons before it is too late!"
Her tone and action were so imperative that they enforced obedience, and the nurse ran down-stairs with all speed. She found no one but the hired girl in the kitchen, who said, in answer to her hurried inquiries, that both brothers were out, gone to bring in the cattle before the storm. Mrs. Clark sent her in all haste to recall them, and then returned to the sick-room. As she entered, the dying woman looked up quickly, her face clouded with disappointment when she saw that she was alone. The nurse said all in her power to assure her that her sons would soon be there, but she could not allay the strange excitement into which their absence seemed to have thrown her.
"My strength is failing," she said, sadly; "every moment is precious; if I die without that promise which they could not refuse to a dying mother's prayer, God knows what will become of them!"
Mrs. Clark urged the necessity of quiet, but the sufferer paid no heed to the caution. She talked on, wildly, and sometimes incoherently, about the hopes she built upon the reconciliation her death-bed would effect,—showing, in these few moments of unnatural loquacity, how deeply she had felt the animosity between her sons, and how great had been the effort to conquer it. This excitement could not continue long; her voice soon grew weaker, and at last she ceased speaking, appearing to sink into a stupor of exhaustion.
An instant after, the door opened and John ran eagerly to the couch, closely followed by James. Already the poor widow's eyes were closed; the livid hue that is so fatally significant overspread her face; her breath came in quick gasps.
"Mother! mother!" cried John, flinging himself on his knees beside her, and seizing the thin, hard hand.
At that sound, she opened her eyes, but it was too late; she no longer had the power of utterance. She glanced from one brother to the other with a piteous, entreating look; her mouth moved convulsively; in the effort to speak, she sat upright for an instant, ghastly and rigid, and then fell heavily back.
All was over; her life of labor was changed for eternal rest; and the two men, whom only her power had restrained, stood with the last barrier between them removed, avowed and deadly enemies.
Yet, for all that, they were sincere mourners for the sole parent they had ever known, though it seemed, that, jealous even in their grief, neither cared to have the other see how much he suffered; for, after the first few moments, when the heart refuses to be satisfied of the certainty which it knows only too well, they turned away, and each sought his own room. Afterwards, when all was prepared and the room decently arranged, they returned, and alternately through the long night kept their vigil beside the corpse. It is strange, that, in those quiet hours of communion with the loved dead, no thought of relenting towards each other ever suggested itself.
The snow that had been hanging all day in the dark clouds above them towards evening began to fall. Stilly and continually the tiny flakes came down, hiding all the ruggedness of earth under a spotless mantle, even as the white shroud covered the toil-worn frame of the released sufferer.
In the morning the news spread rapidly, and neighbors came to the afflicted house. But the brothers seemed to resent their offers of assistance as an intrusion, refusing to allow any other watchers, themselves continuing night and day to watch beside the corpse; and that awful vigil, instead of softening their hearts, seemed to harden them into a more deadly hatred.
The third afternoon, when all the country-side was ghastly in its winding-sheet of snow, and the clouds hung heavy as a pall over the stricken earth, the little funeral held its way from the lonely farm-house to the village-churchyard. As a last tribute of respect to their mother, the two brothers drove side by side in the same sleigh. Those who saw them said that it was a sight not to be forgotten,—those two black figures, with their stern, pale faces, so much alike, yet so unsympathizing, sitting motionless, not even leaning on each other in that moment of grief. So they were together, yet apart, during the ceremony that consigned the wife to the grave where five-and-twenty years before they had laid the husband. So they were together, yet apart, when they turned their horse's head towards their home and rode away silently into the sombre twilight.
The last person who saw them that night was Mrs. Clark. The brothers had insisted that both she and the Irish girl should leave early in the day,—replying to all offers of putting the house in order, that they preferred to be alone. But on her way home after the funeral, Mrs. Clark passed the house in a friend's sleigh and stopped a moment for her bundle, which in the hurry of the morning had been forgotten. To her surprise, as she approached the door, she saw that there were no lights visible in any of the windows, although it was already very dark. Thinking the brothers were in the back part of the house, she pushed open the door, which yielded to her touch, and was just about to make her way towards the kitchen, when she heard a sound in the parlor, and then these words, quite distinctly:—
"Are you ready, James?"
"Yes,—only one word. It is a long account we have to settle, and it must be final."
"It shall be. Mine is a heavy score. Years ago I swore to wipe it out, and now the time has come."
Mrs. Clark's knock interrupted them. There was an angry exclamation, and the door was opened. To her intense surprise, no light came from within. She could not understand how they could settle their accounts in the darkness; but they gave her no time for reflection; an angry voice, in answer to her inquiries, bade her go on to the kitchen, and she hastened off. There she found a single candle burning dimly; by its light she picked up her bundle, and, leaving the door open to see her way, returned to the front of the house. Though not a nervous woman, she felt an undefined fear at the mysterious darkness and silence; and as she passed the brothers standing in the doorway, she was struck with fresh terror at the livid pallor of those two stern faces that looked out from the black shadow. When she was going out, she heard the door of the parlor bolted within, and she rejoined her friends, right glad to be away from the sad house.
So those two men were left alone, locked into the dark room together, in the horrible companionship of their inextinguishable hatred and their own bad hearts. It will forever remain unknown what passed between them through the long hours of that awful night, when the wind howled madly around the lightless house, and the clouds gathered blacker and thicker, shrouding it in impenetrable gloom.
Three days passed before any living creature approached the spot,—three days of cold unparalleled in the annals of that country,—cold so severe that it compelled even the hardy farmers to keep as much as possible by the fireside. On the fourth day, Isaac Welles began to think they had been quite long enough alone, and he started with a friend to visit the Blount brothers. Arrived at the farm-house, they saw the sleigh standing before the door, but no sign of any one stirring. The shutters of the windows were closed, and no smoke came out of the chimney. They knocked at the door. No answer. Surprised at the silence, they at length tried to open it. It was not locked, but some heavy substance barred the way. With difficulty they forced it open wide enough to go in.
To this day those men shudder and turn pale, as they recall the awful scene that awaited them within that house, which was, in fact, a tomb.
The obstacle which opposed their entrance was the dead body of John Blount. He lay stretched on the floor,—his face mutilated by cuts and disfigured with gore, his clothes disordered and bloody, and one hand nearly severed from the arm by a deep gash at the wrist; yet it was evident that none of these wounds were mortal. After that terrible conflict, he had probably crawled to the door and fallen there, faint with loss of blood; the silent, cruel cold had completed the work of death.
Following the blood-track, the two men entered the parlor, with suspended breath and hearts that almost ceased to beat. There they found the dead body of James Blount,—his clothes half torn off, in the violence of the strife that could end only in murder. A long, deep cut on the throat had terminated that awful struggle, though many other less dangerous wounds showed how desperate it had been. He lay just as he fell,—his features still contracted with a look of defiance and hatred, and in his right hand still clasped a long, sharp knife. He had succumbed in that mortal conflict, which quenched a lifelong quarrel, and was to prove fatal alike to victor and vanquished. Thus the vow of John Blount was fulfilled,—the pent-up hatred of years satisfied in his brother's murder.
The room was in the wildest disorder,—chairs thrown down and broken, tables overturned, and the carpet torn. In one corner they found a second long, sharp knife. It had been at least a fair fight.
They laid the two ghastly corpses side by side: they had been chained together all their lives; they were chained together in death. The two fratricides are buried in one grave.
This terrible tragedy blighted the spot where it took place. No one would ever inhabit that house again. The furniture was removed, except from the one room which to this day remains unchanged, and the building left to fall to decay. The superstitious affirm, that, in the long winter nights, oaths and groans steal out, muffled, on the rising wind, from the dark shadows of the Lonely House.
* * * * *
BARBARISM AND CIVILIZATION.
In the interior of the island of Borneo there has been found a certain race of wild creatures, of which kindred varieties have been discovered in the Philippine Islands, in Terra del Fuego, and in Southern Africa. They walk usually almost erect upon two legs, and in that attitude measure about four feet in height; they are dark, wrinkled, and hairy; they construct no habitations, form no families, scarcely associate together, sleep in trees or in caves, feed on snakes and vermin, on ants and ants' eggs, on mice, and on each other; they cannot be tamed, nor forced to any labor; and they are hunted and shot among the trees, like the great gorillas, of which they are a stunted copy. When they are captured alive, one finds, with surprise, that their uncouth jabbering sounds like articulate language; they turn up a human face to gaze upon their captor; the females show instincts of modesty; and, in fine, these wretched beings are Men.
Men, "created in God's image," born immortal and capable of progress, and so differing from Socrates and Shakspeare only in degree. It is but a sliding scale from this melancholy debasement up to the most regal condition of humanity. A traceable line of affinity unites these outcast children with the renowned historic races of the world: the Assyrian, the Egyptian, the Ethiopian, the Jew,—the beautiful Greek, the strong Roman, the keen Arab, the passionate Italian, the stately Spaniard, the sad Portuguese, the brilliant Frenchman, the frank Northman, the wise German, the firm Englishman, and that last-born heir of Time, the American, inventor of many new things, but himself, by his temperament, the greatest novelty of all,—the American, with his cold, clear eye, his skin made of ice, and his veins filled with lava.
Who shall define what makes the essential difference between those lowest and these loftiest types? Not color; for the most degraded races seem never to be the blackest, and the builders of the Pyramids were far darker than the dwellers in the Aleutian Islands. Not unmixed purity of blood; since the Circassians, the purest type of the supreme Caucasian race, have given nothing to history but the courage of their men and the degradation of their women. Not religion; for enlightened nations have arisen under each great historic faith, while even Christianity has its Abyssinia and Arkansas. Not climate; for each quarter of the globe has witnessed both extremes. We can only say that there is an inexplicable step in progress, which we call civilization; it is the development of mankind into a sufficient maturity of strength to keep the peace and organize institutions; it is the arrival of literature and art; it is the lion and the lamb beginning to lie down together, without having, as some one has said, the lamb inside of the lion.
There are innumerable aspects of this great transformation; but there is one, in special, which has been continually ignored or evaded. In the midst of our civilization, there is a latent distrust of civilization. We are never weary of proclaiming the enormous gain it has brought to manners, to morals, and to intellect; but there is a wide-spread impression that the benefit is purchased by a corresponding physical decay. This alarm has had its best statement from Emerson. "Society never advances. It recedes as fast on one side as it gains on the other.... What a contrast between the well-clad, reading, writing, thinking American, with a watch, a pencil, and a bill of exchange in his pocket, and the naked New-Zealander, whose property is a club, a spear, a mat, and the undivided twentieth part of a shed to sleep under! But compare the health of the two men, and you shall see that his aboriginal strength the white man has lost. If the traveller tell us truly, strike the savage with a broad-axe, and in a day or two the flesh shall unite and heal as if you struck the blow into soft pitch; and the same blow shall send the white man to his grave."
Were this true, the fact would be fatal. Man is a progressive being, only on condition that he begin at the beginning. He can afford to wait centuries for a brain, but he cannot subsist a second without a body. If civilization sacrifice the physical thus hopelessly to the mental, and barbarism merely sacrifice the mental to the physical, then barbarism is unquestionably the better thing, so far as it goes, because it provides the essential preliminary conditions, and so can afford to wait. Barbarism is a one-story log-hut, a poor thing, but better than nothing; while such a civilization would be simply a second story, with a first story too weak to sustain it, a magnificent sky-parlor, with all heaven in view from the upper windows, but with the whole family coming down in a crash presently, through a fatal neglect of the basement. In such a view, an American Indian or a Kaffir warrior may be a wholesome object, good for something already, and for much more when he gets a brain built on. But when one sees a bookworm in his library, an anxious merchant-prince in his counting-room, tottering feebly about, his thin underpinning scarcely able to support what he has already crammed into that heavy brain of his, and he still piling in more,—one feels disposed to cry out, "Unsafe passing here! Stand from under!"
Sydney Smith, in his "Moral Philosophy," has also put strongly this case of physiological despair. "Nothing can be plainer than that a life of society is unfavorable to all the animal powers of men.... A Choctaw could run from here to Oxford without stopping. I go in the mail-coach; and the time the savage has employed in learning to run so fast I have employed in learning something useful. It would not only be useless in me to run like a Choctaw, but foolish and disgraceful." But one may well suppose, that, if the jovial divine had kept himself in training for this disgraceful lost art of running, his diary might not have recorded the habit of lying two hours in bed in the morning, "dawdling and doubting," as he says, or the fact of his having "passed the whole day in an unpleasant state of body, produced by laziness"; and he might not have been compelled to invent for himself that amazing rheumatic armor,—a pair of tin boots, a tin collar, a tin helmet, and a tin shoulder-of-mutton over each of his natural shoulders, all duly filled with boiling water, and worn in patience by the sedentary Sydney.
It is also to be remembered that this statement was made in 1805, when England and Germany were both waking up to a revival of physical training,—if we may trust Sir John Sinclair in the one case, and Salzmann in the other,—such as America is experiencing now. Many years afterwards, Sydney Smith wrote to his brother, that "a working senator should lead the life of an athlete." But supposing the fact still true, that an average red man can run, and an average white man cannot,—who does not see that it is the debility, not the feat, which is discreditable? Setting aside the substantial advantages of strength and activity, there is a melancholy loss of self-respect in buying cultivation for the brain by resigning the proper vigor of the body. Let men say what they please, they all demand a life which shall be whole and sound throughout, and there is a drawback upon all gifts that are paid for in infirmities. There is no thorough satisfaction in art or intellect, if we yet feel ashamed before the Indian because we cannot run, and before the South-Sea Islander because we cannot swim. Give us a total culture, and a success without any discount of shame. After all, one feels a certain justice in Warburton's story of the Guinea trader, in Spence's Anecdotes. Mr. Pope was with Sir Godfrey Kneller one day, when his nephew, a Guinea trader, came in. "Nephew," said Sir Godfrey, "you have the honor of seeing the two greatest men in the world." "I don't know how great you may be," said the Guinea-man, "but I don't like your looks; I have often bought a man, much better than both of you together, all muscles and bones, for ten guineas."
Fortunately for the hopes of man, the alarm is unfounded. The advance of accurate knowledge dispels it. Civilization is cultivation, whole cultivation; and even in its present imperfect state, it not only permits physical training, but promotes it. The traditional glory of the savage body is yielding before medical statistics: it is becoming evident that the average barbarian, observed from the cradle to the grave, does not know enough and is not rich enough to keep his body in its highest condition, but, on the contrary, is small and sickly and short-lived and weak, compared with the man of civilization. The great athletes of the world have been civilized; the long-lived men have been civilized; the powerful armies have been civilized; and the average of life, health, size, and strength is highest to-day among those races where knowledge and wealth and comfort are most widely spread. And yet, by the common lamentation, one would suppose that all civilization is a slow suicide of the race, and that refinement and culture are to leave man at last in a condition like that of the little cherubs on old tomb-stones, all head and wings.
It must be owned that the delusion has all the superstitions of history in its favor, and only the facts against it. If we may trust tradition, the race has undoubtedly been tapering down from century to century since the Creation, so that the original Adam must have been more than twice the size of the Webster statue. However far back we go, admiring memory looks farther. Homer and Virgil never let their hero throw a stone without reminding us that modern heroes only live in glass houses, to have stones thrown at them. Lucretius and Juvenal chant the same lament. Xenophon, mourning the march of luxury among the Persians, says that modern effeminacy has reached such a pitch, that men have even devised coverings for their fingers, called gloves. Herodotus narrates, that, when Cambyses sent ambassadors to the Macrobians, they asked what the Persians had to eat and how long they commonly lived. He was told that they sometimes attained the age of eighty, and that they ate a mass of crushed grain, which they termed bread. On this, they said that it was no wonder, if the Persians died young, when they partook of such rubbish, and that probably they would not survive even so long, but for the wine they drank; while the Macrobians lived on flesh and milk, and survived one hundred and twenty years.
But, unfortunately, there were no Life Insurance Companies among the Macrobians, and therefore nothing to bring down this formidable average to a reliable schedule,—such as accurately informs every modern man how long he may live honestly, without defrauding either his relict or his insurers. We know, moreover, precisely what Dr. Windship can lift, at any given date, and what the rest of us cannot; but Homer and Virgil never weighed the stones which their heroes threw, nor even the words in which they described the process. It is a matter of certainty that all great exploits are severely tested by Fairbanks's scales and stop-watches. It is wonderful how many persons, in the remoter districts, assure the newspaper-editors of their ability to lift twelve hundred pounds; and many a young oarsman can prove to you that he has pulled his mile faster than Ward or Clark, if you will only let him give his own guess at time and distance.
It is easy, therefore, to trace the origin of these exaggerations. Those old navigators, for instance, who saw so many fine things which were not to be seen, how should they help peopling the barbarous realms with races of giants? Job Hartop, who three times observed a merman rise above water to his waist, near the Bermudas,—Harris, who endured such terrific cold in the Antarctics, that once, perilously blowing his nose with his fingers, it flew into the fire and was seen no more,—Knyvett, who, in the same regions, pulled off his frozen stockings, and his toes with them, but had them replaced by the ship's surgeon,—of course these men saw giants, and it is only a matter for gratitude that they vouchsafed us dwarfs also, to keep up some remains of self-respect in us. In Magellan's Straits, for instance, they saw, on one side, from three to four thousand pigmies with mouths from ear to ear; while on the other shore they saw giants whose footsteps were four times as large as an Englishman's,—which was a strong expression, considering that the Englishman's footstep had already reached round the globe.
The only way to test these earlier observations is by later ones. For instance, in the year 1772, a Dutchman named Roggewein discovered Easter Island. His expedition had cost the government a good deal, and he had to bring home his money's worth of discoveries. Accordingly, his islanders were all giants,—twice as tall, he said, as the tallest of the Europeans; "they measured, one with another, the height of twelve feet; so that we could easily,—who will not wonder at it?—without stooping, have passed between the legs of these sons of Goliath. According to their height, so is their thickness." Moreover, he "puts down nothing but the real truth, and upon the nicest inspection," and, to exhibit this caution, warns us that it would be wrong to rate the women of those regions as high as the men, they being, as he pityingly owns, "commonly not above ten or eleven feet." Sweet young creatures they must have appeared, belle and steeple in one. And it was certainly a great disappointment to Captain Cook, when, on visiting the same Island, fifty years later, he could not find man or woman more than six feet tall. Thus ended the tale of this Flying Dutchman.
Thus lamentably have the inhabitants of Patagonia been also dwindling, though, there, if anywhere, still lies the Cape of Bad Hope for the apostles of human degeneracy. Pigafetta originally estimated them at twelve feet. In the time of Commodore Byron, they had already grown downward; yet he said of them that they were "enormous goblins," seven feet high, every one of them. One of his officers, however, writing an independent narrative, seemed to think this a needless concession; he admits, indeed, that the women were not, perhaps, more than seven feet, or seven and a half, or, it might be, eight, "but the men were, for the most part, about nine feet high, and very often more." Lieutenant Cumming, he said, being but six feet two, appeared a mere pigmy among them. But it seems, that, in after-times, on some one's questioning this diminutive lieutenant as to the actual size of these enormous goblins, the veteran frankly confessed, that, "had it been anywhere else but in Patagonia, he should have called them good sturdy savages and thought no more on't."
But, these facts apart, there are certain general truths which look ominous for the reputation of the physique of savage tribes.
First, they cannot keep the race alive, they are always tending to decay. When first encountered by civilization, they usually tell stories of their own decline in numbers, and after that the downward movement is accelerated. They are poor, ignorant, improvident, oppressed by others' violence, or exhausted by their own; war kills them, infanticide and abortion cut them off before they reach the age of war, pestilences sweep them away, whole tribes perish by famine and smallpox. Under the stern climate of the Esquimaux and the soft skies of Tahiti, the same decline is seen. Parkman estimates that in 1763 the whole number of Indians east of the Mississippi was but ten thousand, and they were already mourning their own decay. Travellers seldom visit a savage country without remarking on the scarcity of aged people and of young children. Lewis and Clarke, Mackenzie, Alexander Henry, observed this among Indian tribes never before visited by white men; Dr. Kane remarked it among the Esquimaux, D'Azara among the Indians of South America, and many travellers in the South-Sea Islands and even in Africa, though the black man apparently takes more readily to civilization than any other race, and then develops a terrible vitality, as American politicians find to their cost.
Meanwhile, the hardships which thus decimate the tribe toughen the survivors, and sometimes give them an apparent advantage over civilized men. The savages whom one encounters are necessarily the picked men of the race, and the observer takes no census of the multitudes who have perished in the process. Civilization keeps alive, in every generation, multitudes who would otherwise die prematurely. These millions of invalids do not owe to civilization their diseases, but their lives. It is painful that your sick friend should live on Cherry Pectoral; but if he had been born in barbarism, he would neither have had it to drink nor survived to drink it.
And again, it is now satisfactorily demonstrated that these picked survivors of savage life are commonly suffering under the same diseases with their civilized compeers, and show less vital power to resist them. In barbarous nations every foreigner is taken for a physician, and the first demand is for medicines; if not the right medicines, then the wrong ones; if no medicines are at hand, the written prescription, administered internally, is sometimes found a desirable restorative. The earliest missionaries to the South-Sea Islands found ulcers and dropsy and hump-backs there before them. The English Bishop of New Zealand, landing on a lone islet where no ship had ever touched, found the whole population prostrate with influenza. Lewis and Clarke, the first explorers of the Rocky Mountains, found Indian warriors ill with fever and dysentery, rheumatism and paralysis, and Indian women in hysterics. "The tooth-ache," said Roger Williams of the New England tribes, "is the only paine which will force their stoute hearts to cry"; even the Indian women, he says, never cry as he has heard "some of their men in this paine"; but Lewis and Clarke found whole tribes who had abolished this source of tears in the civilized manner, by having no teeth left. We complain of our weak eyes as a result of civilized habits, and Tennyson, in "Locksley Hall," wishes his children bred in some savage land, "not with blinded eyesight poring over miserable books." But savage life seems more injurious to the organs of vision than even the type of a cheap edition; for the most vigorous barbarians—on the prairies, in Southern archipelagos, on African deserts—suffer more from different forms of ophthalmia than from any other disease; without knowing the alphabet, they have worse eyes than if they were professors, and have not even the melancholy consolation of spectacles.
Again, the savage cannot, as a general rule, endure transplantation,—he cannot thrive in the country of the civilized man; whereas the latter, with time for training, can equal or excel him in strength and endurance on his own ground. As it is known that the human race generally can endure a greater variety of climate than the hardiest of the lower animals, so it is with the man of civilization, when compared with the barbarian. Kane, when he had once learned how to live in the Esquimaux country, lived better than the Esquimaux themselves; and he says expressly, that "their powers of resistance are no greater than those of well-trained voyagers from other lands." Richardson, Parkyns, Johnstone, give it as their opinion, that the European, once acclimated, bears the heat of the African deserts better than the native negro. "These Christians are devils," say the Arabs; "they can endure both cold and heat." What are the Bedouins to the Zouaves, who unquestionably would be as formidable in Lapland as in Algiers? Nay, in the very climates where the natives are fading away, the civilized foreigner multiplies: thus, the strong New-Zealanders do not average two children to a family, while the households of the English colonists are larger than at home,—which is saying a good deal.
Most formidable of all is the absence of all recuperative power in the savage who rejects civilization. No effort of will improves his condition; he sees his race dying out, and he can only drink and forget it. But the civilized man has an immense capacity for self-restoration; he can make mistakes and correct them again, sin and repent, sink and rise. Instinct can only prevent; science can cure in one generation, and prevent in the next. It is known that some twenty years ago a thrill of horror shot through all Anglo-Saxondom at the reported physical condition of the operatives in English mines and factories. It is not so generally known, that, by a recent statement of the medical inspector of factories, there is declared to have been a most astounding renovation of female health in such establishments throughout all England since that time,—the simple result of sanitary laws. What science has done science can do. Everybody knows which symptom of American physical decay is habitually quoted, as most alarming; one seldom sees a dentist who does not despair of the republic. Yet this calamity is nothing new; the elder branch of our race has been through that epidemic, and outlived it. In the robust days of Queen Bess, the teeth of the court ladies were habitually so black and decayed, that foreigners used constantly to ask if Englishwomen ate nothing but sugar. Hentzner, who visited the country in 1697, speaks of the same calamity as common among the English of all classes. Two centuries and a half have removed the stigma,—improved physical habits have put fresh pearls between the lips of all England now; and there seems no reason why we Americans may not yet be healthy, in spite of our teeth.
Thus much for general considerations; let us come now to more specific tests, beginning with the comparison of size. The armor of the knights of the Middle Ages is too small for their modern descendants: Hamilton Smith records that two Englishmen of average dimensions found no suit large enough to fit them in the great collection of Sir Samuel Meyrick. The Oriental sabre will not admit the English hand, nor the bracelet of the Kaffir warrior the English arm. The swords found in Roman tumuli have handles inconveniently small; and the great mediaeval two-handed sword is now supposed to have been used only for one or two blows at the first onset, and then exchanged for a smaller one. The statements given by Homer, Aristotle, and Vitruvius represent six feet as a high standard for full-grown men; and the irrefutable evidence of the ancient doorways, bedsteads, and tombs proves the average size of the race to have certainly not diminished in modern days. The gigantic bones have all turned out to be animal remains; even the skeleton twenty-five feet high and ten feet broad, which one savant wrote a book called "Gigantosteologia" to prove human, and another, a counter-argument, called "Gigantomachia," to prove animal,—neither of the philosophers taking the trouble to draw a single fragment of the fossil. The enormous savage races have turned out, as has been shown, to be travellers' tales,—even the Patagonians being brought down to an average of five feet ten inches, and being, moreover, only a part of a race, the Abipones, of which the other families are smaller. Indeed, we can all learn by our own experience how irresistible is the tendency of the imagination to attribute vast proportions to all hardy and warlike tribes. Most persons fancy the Scottish Highlanders, for instance, to have been a race of giants; yet Charles Edward was said to be taller than any man in his Highland army, and his height was but five feet nine. We have the same impression in regard to our own Aborigines. Yet, when first, upon the prairies of Nebraska, I came in sight of a tribe of genuine, unadulterated Indians, with no possession on earth but a bow and arrow and a bear-skin,—bare-skin in a double sense, I might add,—my instinctive exclamation was, "What race of dwarfs is this?" They were the descendants of the glorious Pawnees of Cooper, the heroes of every boy's imagination; yet, excepting the three chiefs, who were noble-looking men of six feet in height, the tallest of the tribe could not have measured five feet six inches.
The most careful investigations give the same results in respect to physical strength. Early travellers among our Indians, as Hearne and Mackenzie, and early missionaries to the South-Sea Islands, as Ellis, report athletic contests in which the natives could not equal the better-fed, better-clothed, better-trained Europeans. When the French savans, Peron, Regnier, Ransonnet, carried their dynamometers to the islands of the Indian Ocean, they found with surprise that an average English sailor was forty-two per cent, stronger, and an average Frenchman thirty per cent, stronger, than the strongest island tribe they visited. Even in comparing different European races, it is undeniable that bodily strength goes with the highest civilization. It is recorded in Robert Stephenson's Life, that, when the English "navvies" were employed upon the Paris and Boulogne Railway, they used spades and barrows just twice the size of those employed by their Continental rivals, and were regularly paid double. Quetelet's experiments with the dynamometer on university students showed the same results: first ranked the Englishman, then the Frenchman, then the Belgian, then the Russian, then the Southern European: for those races of Southern Europe which once ruled the Eastern and the Western worlds by physical and mental power have lost in strength as they have paused in civilization, and the easy victories of our armies in Mexico show us the result.
It is impossible to deny that the observations on this subject are yet very imperfect; and the only thing to be claimed is, that they all point one way. So far as absolute statistical tables go, the above-named French observations have till recently stood almost alone, and have been the main reliance. The just criticism has, however, been made, that the subjects of these experiments were the inhabitants of New Holland and Van Diemen's Land, by no means the strongest instances on the side of barbarism. It is, therefore, fortunate that the French tables have now been superseded by some more important comparisons, accurately made by A.S. Thomson, M.D., Surgeon of the Fifty-Eighth Regiment of the British Army, and printed in the seventeenth volume of the Journal of the London Statistical Society.
The observations were made in New Zealand,—Dr. Thomson being stationed there with his regiment, and being charged with the duty of vaccinating all natives employed by the government. The islanders thus used for experiment were to some extent picked men, as none but able-bodied persons would have been selected for employ, and as they were, moreover, (he states,) accustomed to lifting burdens, and better-fed than the majority of their countrymen. The New Zealand race, as a whole, is certainly a very favorable type of barbarism, having but just emerged from an utterly savage condition, having been cannibals within one generation, and being the very identical people among whom were recorded those wonderful cures of flesh-wounds to which Emerson has referred. Cook and all other navigators have praised their robust physical aspect, and they undoubtedly, with the Fijians and the Tongans, stand at the head of all island races. They are admitted to surpass our American Indians, as well as the Kaffirs and the Joloffs, probably the finest African races; and a careful comparison between New-Zealanders and Anglo-Saxons will, therefore, approach as near to an experimentum crucis as any single set of observations can. The following tables have been carefully prepared from those of Dr. Thomson, with the addition of some scanty facts from other sources,—scanty, because, as Quetelet indignantly observes, less pains have as yet been taken to measure accurately the physical powers of man than those of any machine he has constructed or any animal he has tamed.
HEIGHT. Number measured. Average. New-Zealanders................... 147 5 feet 6-3/4 inches. Students at Edinburgh............ 800 5 " 7-1/10 " Class of 1860. Cambridge (Mass.). 106 5 " 7-3/5 " Students at Cambridge (Eng.)..... 80 5 " 8-3/5 "
WEIGHT. New-Zealanders................... 146 140 pounds. Soldiers 58th Regiment........... 1778 142 " Class of 1860. Cambridge (Mass.). 106 142-1/2 " Students at Cambridge (Eng.)..... 80 143 " Men weighed at Boston (U.S.) Mechanics' Fair, 1860 ......... 4369 146-3/4 " Englishmen (Dr. Thomson)......... 2648 148 " Cambridge, Eng. (a newspaper statement) .................... —— 151 " Revolutionary officers at West Point, August 10th, 1778, given in "Milledulcia," p. 273.. 11 226 "
AREA OF CHEST. New-Zealanders................... 151 35.36 inches. Soldiers 58th Regiment........... 628 36.71 "
STRENGTH IN LIFTING. New-Zealanders................... 31 367 pounds. Students fit Edinburgh, aged 25.. —— 416 " Soldiers 58th Regiment........... 33 422 "
NOTE. The range of strength among the New-Zealanders was from 250 pounds to 420 pounds; among the soldiers, from 350 pounds to 504 pounds.
But it is the test of longevity which exhibits the greatest triumph for civilization, because here the life-insurance tables furnish ample, though comparatively recent statistics. Of course, in legendary ages all lives were of enormous length; and the Hindoos in their sacred books attribute to their progenitors a career of forty million years or thereabouts,—what may safely be termed a ripe old age; for if a man were still unripe after celebrating his forty-millionth birthday, he might as well give it up. But from the beginning of accurate statistics we know that the duration of life in any nation is a fair index of its progress in civilization, Quetelet gives statistics, more or less reliable, from every nation of Northern Europe, showing a gain of ten to twenty-five per cent, during the last century. Where the tables are most carefully prepared, the result is least equivocal. Thus, in Geneva, where accurate registers have been kept for three hundred years, it seems that from 1560 to 1600 the average lifetime of the citizens was twenty-one years and two months; in the next century, twenty-five years and nine months; in the century following, thirty-two years and nine months; and in the year 1833, forty years and five months: thus nearly doubling the average age of man in Geneva, within those three centuries of social progress. In France, it is estimated, that, in spite of revolutions and Napoleons, human life has been gaining at the rate of two months a year for nearly a century. By a manuscript of the fourteenth century, moreover, it is shown that the rate of mortality in Paris was then one in sixteen,—one person dying annually to every sixteen of the inhabitants. It is now one in thirty-two,—a gain of a hundred per cent, in five hundred years. In England the progress has been far more rapid. The rate of mortality in 1690 was one in thirty-three; in 1780 it was one in forty; and it stands now at one in sixty,—the healthiest condition in Europe,—while in half-barbarous Russia the rate of mortality is one in twenty-seven. It would be easy to multiply these statistics to any extent; but they all point one way, and no medical statistician now pretends to oppose the dictum of Hufeland, that "a certain degree of culture is physically necessary for man, and promotes duration of life."
The simple result is, that the civilized man is physically superior to the barbarian. There is now no evidence that there exists in any part of the world a savage race who, taken as a whole, surpass or even equal the Anglo-Saxon type in average physical condition; as there is also none among whom the President elect of the United States and the Commander-in-chief of his armies would not be regarded as remarkably tall men, and Dr. Windship a remarkably strong one. "It is now well known," says Prichard, "that all savage races have less muscular power than civilized men." Johnstone in Northern Africa, and Cumming in Southern Africa, could find no one to equal them in strength of arm. At the Sandwich Islands, Ellis records, that, "when a boat manned by English seamen and a canoe with natives left the shore together, the canoe would uniformly leave the boat behind, but they would soon relax, while the seamen, pulling steadily on, would pass them, but, if the voyage took three hours, would invariably reach the destination first." Certain races may have been regularly trained by position and necessity in certain particular arts,—as Sandwich-Islanders in swimming, and our Indians in running,—and may naturally surpass the average skill of those who are comparatively out of practice in that speciality; yet it is remarkable that their greatest feats even in these ways never seem to surpass those achieved by picked specimens of civilization. The best Indian runners could only equal Lewis and Clarke's men, and they have been repeatedly beaten in prize-races within the last few years; while the most remarkable aquatic feat on record is probably that of Mr. Atkins of Liverpool, who recently dived to a depth of two hundred and thirty feet, reappearing above water in one minute and eleven seconds.
In the wilderness and on the prairies, we find a general impression that cultivation and refinement must weaken the race. Not at all; they simply domesticate it. Domestication is not weakness. A strong hand does not become less muscular under a kid glove; and a man who is a hero in a red shirt will also be a hero in a white one. Civilization, imperfect as it is, has already procured for us better food, better air, and better behavior; it gives us physical training on system; and its mental training, by refining the nervous organization, makes the same quantity of muscular power go much farther. The young English ensigns and lieutenants who at Waterloo (in the words of Wellington) "rushed to meet death, as if it were a game of cricket," were the fruit of civilization. They were representatives, indeed, of the aristocracy of their nation; and here, where the aim of all institutions is to make the whole nation an aristocracy, we must plan to secure the same splendid physical superiority on a grander scale. It is in our power, by using even very moderately for this purpose our magnificent machinery of common schools, to give to the physical side of civilization an advantage which it has possessed nowhere else, not even in England or Germany. It is not yet time to suggest detailed plans on this subject, since the public mind is not yet fully awake even to the demand. When the time comes, the necessary provisions can be made easily,—at least, as regards boys; for the physical training of girls is a far more difficult problem The organization is more delicate and complicated, the embarrassments greater, the observations less carefully made, the successes fewer, the failures far more disastrous. Any intelligent and robust man may undertake the physical training of fifty boys, however delicate their organization, with a reasonable hope of rearing nearly all of them, by easy and obvious methods, into a vigorous maturity; but what wise man or woman can expect anything like the same proportion of success, at present, with fifty American girls?
This is the most momentous health-problem with which we have to deal,— to secure the proper physical advantages of civilization for American women. Without this there can be no lasting progress. The Sandwich Island proverb says,—
"If strong be the frame of the mother, Her son shall make laws for the people."
But in this country, it is scarcely an exaggeration to say that every man grows to maturity surrounded by a circle of invalid female relatives, that he later finds himself the husband of an invalid wife and the parent of invalid daughters, and that he comes at last to regard invalidism, as Michelet coolly declares, the normal condition of that sex,—as if the Almighty did not know how to create a woman. This, of course, spreads a gloom over life. When I look at the morning throng of schoolgirls in summer, hurrying through every street, with fresh, young faces, and vesture of lilies, duly curled and straw-hatted and booted, and turned off as patterns of perfection by proud mammas,—it is not sad to me to think that all this young beauty must one day fade and die, for there are spheres of life beyond this earth, I know, and the soul is good to endure through more than one;—the sadness is in the unnatural nearness of the decay, to foresee the living death of disease that is waiting close at hand for so many, to know how terrible a proportion of those fair children are walking unconsciously into a weary, wretched, powerless, joyless, useless maturity. Among the myriad triumphs of advancing civilization, there seems but one formidable danger, and that is here.
It cannot be doubted, however, that the peril will pass by, with advancing knowledge. In proportion to our national recklessness of danger is the promptness with which remedial measures are adopted, when they at last become indispensable. In the mean time, we must look for proofs of the physical resources of woman into foreign and even into savage lands. When an American mother tells me with pride, as occasionally happens, that her daughter can walk two miles and back without great fatigue, the very boast seems a tragedy; but when one reads that Oberea, queen of the Sandwich Islands, lifted Captain Wallis over a marsh as easily as if he had been a little child, there is a slight sense of consolation. Brunhilde, in the "Nibelungen," binds her offending lover with her girdle and slings him up to the wall. Cymburga, wife of Duke Ernest of Lithuania, could crack nuts between her fingers, and drive nails into a wall with her thumb;—whether she ever got her husband under it is not recorded. Let me preserve from oblivion the renown of my Lady Butterfield, who, about the year 1700, at Wanstead, in Essex, (England,) thus advertised:—"This is to give notice to my honored masters and ladies and loving friends, that my Lady Butterfield gives a challenge to ride a horse, or leap a horse, or run afoot, or hollo, with any woman in England seven years younger, but not a day older, because I won't undervalue myself, being now 74 years of age." Nor should be left unrecorded the high-born Scottish damsel whose tradition still remains at the Castle of Huntingtower, in Scotland, where two adjacent pinnacles still mark the Maiden's Leap. She sprang from battlement to battlement, a distance of nine feet and four inches, and eloped with her lover. Were a young lady to go through one of our villages in a series of leaps like that, and were she to require her lovers to follow in her footsteps, it is to be feared that she would die single.
Yet the transplanted race which has in two centuries stepped from Delft Haven to San Francisco has no reason to be ashamed of its physical achievements, the more especially as it has found time on the way for one feat of labor and endurance which may be matched without fear against any historic deed. When civilization took possession of this continent, it found one vast coating of almost unbroken forest overspreading it from shore to prairie. To make room for civilization, that forest must go. What were Indians, however deadly,—what starvation, however imminent,—what pestilence, however lurking,—to a solid obstacle like this? No mere courage could cope with it, no mere subtlety, no mere skill, no Yankee ingenuity, no labor-saving machine with head for hands; but only firm, unwearying, bodily muscle to every stroke. Tree by tree, in two centuries, that forest has been felled. What were the Pyramids to that? There does not exist in history an athletic feat so astonishing.
But there yet lingers upon this continent a forest of moral evil more formidable, a barrier denser and darker, a Dismal Swamp of inhumanity, a barbarism upon the soil, before which civilization has thus far been compelled to pause,—happy, if it could even check its spread. Checked at last, there comes from it a cry as if the light of day had turned to darkness,—when the truth simply is, that darkness is being mastered and surrounded by the light of day. Is it a good thing to "extend the area of freedom" by pillaging some feeble Mexico? and does the phrase become a bad one only when it means the peaceful progress of constitutional liberty within our own borders? The phrases which oppression teaches become the watchwords of freedom at last, and the triumph of Civilization over Barbarism is the only Manifest Destiny of America.
WHO WAS CASPAR HAUSER?
Recent publications have again attracted our attention to a subject which about thirty years ago was the cause of great excitement and innumerable speculations. The very extraordinary advent, life, and death of Caspar Hauser, the novelty and singularity of all his thoughts and actions, and his charming innocence and amiability, interested at the time all Europe in his behalf. Thrown upon the world in a state of utter helplessness, he was adopted by one of the cities of Germany, and became not only a universal pet, but a sight which people flocked from all parts to see. It became a perfect fever, raging throughout Germany, and extending also to other countries. The papers teemed with accounts and conjectures. Innumerable essays and even books were written, almost every one advancing a different theory for the solution of the mystery. But his death was still more the occasion for their appearance, and for some time thereafter they literally swarmed from the press. Every one who had in any way come in contact with him, and a great many who knew him by reputation only, thought themselves called upon to give their views, so that in a little while the subject acquired almost a literature of its own.
But this excitement gradually disappeared, and with it most of the literature which it had called forth. There are a few names, however, which occur frequently in connection with that of Caspar Hauser, to whose opinions we shall subsequently call attention. They are Feuerbach, Daumer, Merker, Stanhope, Binder, Meier, and Fuhrmann.[A] Of these, Binder was his earliest protector; Feuerbach conducted the legal investigations to which Caspar's mysterious appearance gave rise; Daumer was for a long time his teacher and host; Stanhope adopted him; Meier afterwards filled Daumer's place; and Fuhrmann was the clergyman who attended his death-bed. Merker, though never thrown very closely in contact with Caspar, was a Prussian Counsellor of Police, and as such his opinion may perhaps have more than ordinary weight with some. Most of them published their various opinions during Caspar's life or soon after his death, and the subject was then allowed to sink to its proper level and attract no further attention. Within a few years, however, it has again been brought into prominent light by some new publications. One of these is an essay written by Feuerbach and published in his works edited by his son, in which he endeavors to prove that Caspar Hauser was the son of the Grand Duchess Stephanie of Baden; another is a book by Daumer, which he devotes entirely to the explosion of all theories that have ever been advanced; and a third, by Dr. Eschricht, contends that Caspar was at first an idiot and afterwards an impostor. Before considering these different theories, let us recall the principal incidents of his life. These have, indeed, been placed within the reach of the English reader by the Earl of Stanhope's book and by a translation of Feuerbach's "Kaspar Hauser. Beispiel eines Verbrechens am Seelenleben des Menschen,"[B] published in Boston in 1832; but, as the former has, we believe, obtained little circulation in this country, and the latter is now probably out of print, a short account of the life of this singular being may not be deemed amiss.
[Footnote A: Daumer, in his Disclosures concerning Caspar Hauser, refers to a great many more than these; but it is impossible to follow his example in so limited a space.]
[Footnote B: Caspar Hauser. An Example of a Crime against the Life, of Man's Soul.]
On the 26th of May, 1828, a citizen of Nuremberg, while loitering in front of his house in the outskirts of the town, saw, tottering towards him, a lad of sixteen or seventeen years, coarsely and poorly clad. He held in his hand a letter, which he presented to the citizen; but to all questions as to who he was, whence he came, and what he wanted, he replied only in an unintelligible jargon. The letter was addressed to the captain of a cavalry company then stationed at Nuremberg, to whom he was taken. It stated substantially, that a boy had been left at the writer's door on the 7th of October, 1812, that the writer was a poor laborer with a large family, but that he had nevertheless adopted the boy, and had reared him in such strict seclusion from the world that not even his existence was known. The letter said further, that, so far from being able to answer, the lad could not even comprehend any questions put to him. It therefore discouraged all attempts to obtain any information in that way, and ended with the advice, that, according to his desire, he should be made a dragoon, as his father had been before him. Inclosed in this letter was a note, professedly by the mother, and pretending to have been left with him, when, as an infant, Caspar Hauser was first cast upon the world, but, in reality, as it was afterwards proved, written by the same person. This note gave the date of his birth, pleaded the poverty of the mother as an excuse for thus abandoning her child, and contained the same request as to his joining a cavalry regiment when he should arrive at the age of seventeen.
The first impression produced by Caspar's appearance and behavior was, that he was some idiot or lunatic escaped from confinement; it remained only to be shown whence he had escaped. In the mean time he was placed under the protection of the police, who removed him to their guard-room. There he showed no consciousness of what was going on around him; his look was a dull, brutish stare; nor did he give any indication of intelligence, until pen and paper were placed in his hand, when he wrote clearly and repeatedly, "Kaspar Hauser." Since then he has been known by that name.
When it became evident that the first conjectures concerning him were wrong, strenuous efforts were made by the police to sound the mystery, but without the slightest success. He himself could give no clue; for he neither understood what others said nor could make himself understood. With the exception of some six words, the sounds Caspar uttered were entirely meaningless. He recognized none of the places where he had been, no trace could be obtained of him elsewhere, and the most vigilant search brought nothing to light. The surprise which his first appearance produced increased as he became better known. It then became more and more evident that he was neither an idiot nor a lunatic; at the same time his manners were so peculiar, and his ignorance of civilized life and his dislike for its customs so great, that all sorts of conjectures were resorted to in order to explain the mystery.
It was ascertained that he must have been incarcerated in some dungeon, entirely shut out from the light of the sun, which gave him great pain. The structure of his body, the tenderness of his feet, and the great difficulty and suffering which he experienced in walking, indicated beyond a doubt that he had been kept in a sitting posture, with his legs stretched straight out before him. His sustenance had been bread and water; for he not only evinced great repugnance to any other food, but the smallest quantity affected his constitution in the most violent manner. It was also evident that he had never come in contact with human beings, beyond what was necessary for supplying his immediate wants, and, strange to say, teaching him to write.
That these inferences were well-founded was proved by the subsequent disclosures of Caspar himself, after he had acquired a sufficient command of language. The account he then gave was as follows.
"He neither knows who he is nor where his home is. It was only at Nuremberg that he came into the world. Here he first learned, that, besides himself and 'the man with whom he had always been,' there existed other men and other creatures. As long as he can recollect, he had always lived in a hole, (a small, low apartment, which he sometimes calls a cage,) where he had always sat upon the ground, with bare feet, and clothed only with a shirt and a pair of breeches. In his apartment, he never heard a sound, whether produced by a man, by an animal, or by anything else. He never saw the heavens, nor did there ever appear a brightening (daylight) such as at Nuremberg, he never perceived any difference between day and night, and much less did he ever get a sight of the beautiful lights in the heavens. Whenever he awoke from sleep, he found a loaf of bread and a pitcher of water by him. Sometimes his water had a bad taste; whenever this was the case, he could no longer keep his eyes open, but was compelled to fall asleep; and when he afterwards awoke, he found that he had a clean shirt on, and that his nails had been cut.[C]
[Footnote C: When he resided with Professor Daumer, a drop of opium in a glass of water was administered to him. After swallowing a mouthful, he exclaimed, "That water is nasty; it tastes exactly like the water I was sometimes obliged to drink in my cage."]
"He never saw the face of the man who brought him his meat and drink. In his hole he had two wooden horses and several ribbons. With these horses he had always amused himself as long as he was awake; and his only occupation was, to make them run by his side, and to arrange the ribbons about them in different positions. Thus one day had passed the same as another; but he had never felt the want of anything, had never been sick, and—once only excepted—had never felt the sensation of pain. Upon the whole, he had been much happier there than in the world, where he was obliged to suffer so much. How long he had continued to live in this situation he knew not; for he had had no knowledge of time. He knew not when or how he came there. Nor had he any recollection of ever having been in a different situation, or in any other than in that place. The man with whom he had always been never did him any harm. Yet one day, shortly before he was taken away, when he had been running his horse too hard, and had made too much noise, the man came and struck him upon his arm with a stick, or with a piece of wood; this caused the wound which he brought with him to Nuremberg.
"Pretty nearly about the same time, the man once came into his prison, placed a small table over his feet, and spread something white upon it, which he now knows to have been paper; he then came behind him, so as not to be seen by him, took hold of his hand, and moved it backwards and forwards on the paper, with a thing (a lead pencil) which he had stuck between his fingers. He (Hauser) was then ignorant of what it was; but he was mightily pleased, when he saw the black figures which began to appear upon the white paper. When he felt that his hand was free, and the man was gone from him, he was so much pleased with this new discovery, that he could never grow tired of drawing these figures repeatedly upon the paper. This occupation almost made him neglect his horses, although he did not know what those characters signified. The man repeated his visits in the same manner several times.
"Another time the man came, lifted him from the place where he lay, placed him on his feet, and endeavored to teach him to stand. This he repeated at several different times. The manner in which he effected this was the following: he seized him firmly around the breast, from behind, placed his feet behind Caspar's feet, and lifted these, as in stepping forward.
"Finally, the man appeared once again, placed Caspar's hands over his shoulders, tied them fast, and thus carried him on his back out of the prison. He was carried up (or down) a hill. He knows not how he felt; all became night, and he was laid upon his back."—By the expression, "all became night," he meant that he fainted away. The little which Caspar was able to relate in regard to his journey is not of any particular interest, and we omit it here.
This is all that is known with any certainty of the early life of this unfortunate being. The conjectures to which it has given rise will be considered later. Let us first finish his history.
As was to be expected, Caspar Hauser's faculties developed very gradually. His mind was in a torpor, and, placed suddenly amid, to him, most exciting scenes, it was long before he could understand the simplest phenomena of Nature. The unfolding of his mind was exactly like that of a child. Feuerbach, in his book on Caspar Hauser, gives the main features of this gradual development. We can only pick out a few.
It is remarkable that in the same proportion as he advanced in knowledge and acquaintance with civilized life, the intensity of all his faculties diminished. It was so with his memory. He was at first able to exhibit most surprising feats. As an experiment, thirty, forty, and, on one occasion, forty-five names of persons were mentioned to him, which he afterwards repeated with all their titles,—to him, of course, entirely meaningless. So, too, with his power of sight. At first, he was able to see in the dark perfectly well, and much better than in the light of the sun, which was very painful to him. He very frequently amused himself at others groping in the dark, when he experienced not the slightest difficulty. On one occasion, in the evening, he read the name on a door-plate at the distance of one hundred and eighty paces. This keenness of vision did not, however, retain its entire vigor, but decreased as he became more accustomed to the sun. For some time after he made his appearance he had no idea of perspective, but would clutch like a child at objects far off. Nor had he any conception of the beauties of Nature, which he afterwards explained by saying that it then appeared to him like a mass of colors jumbled together. Nothing was beautiful, unless it was red, except a starry heaven,—and the emotion which he felt, on first beholding this, was truly touching. Until then, he had invariably spoken of "the man with whom he had always been" with feelings of affection; he longed to return to him, and looked upon all his studies as merely a temporary thing; some day he would go back and show the man how much he had learned. But when he first looked upon the heavens, his tone became entirely changed, and he denounced the man severely for never having shown him such beautiful things.
All his senses were thus at first wonderfully keen. It was so with his hearing and smell. The latter was the source of most of his sufferings; for, being so exceedingly sensitive, even the most scentless things made him sick. He liked but one smell, that of bread, which had been his only food for seventeen years. It was a long time, indeed, before he could take any other food at all, and he only became accustomed to it very gradually.
The effect produced upon Caspar Hauser by contact with or proximity to animals was also very curious. He was able to detect their presence under singularly unfavorable circumstances. Metals, too, had a very powerful effect upon him, and possessed for him a strong magnetic power. But it is impossible to give all the details, however interesting; for them we must refer to Feuerbach.
His mind, as has been already said, was at first sunk in almost impenetrable darkness. He knew of but two divisions of earthly things,—man and beast, "bua" and "ross." The former was a word of his own. The latter, which is the German for horse, included everything not human, whether animate or inanimate. Between these he for a long time saw no difference. He could not understand why pictures and statues did not move, and he regarded his toy-horses as living things. To inanimate things impelled by foreign forces he ascribed volition.
Religion he, of course, had none. He possessed naturally a very amiable character, and his thoughts and conduct were as pure as though guided by the soundest system of morality. But he knew nothing of a God, and one of the greatest difficulties Daumer had to encounter was instructing him on this point. His untutored mind could not master the doctrines of theology, and he was constantly puzzled by questions which he himself suggested, and which his instructor often found it impossible to answer satisfactorily.
Physically he was very weak. The shortest walk would fatigue him. At first he could scarcely shuffle along at all, on account of the tenderness of his feet, and because his body had always been kept in one position. He so far overcame this, however, as to be able to walk a little, though always with an effort. But on horseback he never became tired. From the first time that he mounted a horse, he showed a love for the exercise, and a power of endurance utterly at variance with all other exhibitions of his strength; and he very soon acquired a degree of skill which made him an object of envy to all the cavalry-officers stationed in the neighborhood. So inconsistent and incomprehensible was everything about Caspar Hauser!
In October, 1829, while residing in the family of Professor Daumer, an attempt was made upon his life, which was only so far successful as to give a very violent shock to his delicate constitution. The perpetrator of the crime was never discovered. Caspar was afterwards adopted by the Earl of Stanhope, and by him removed to Anspach. Feuerbach gives a very interesting description of him, as he appeared at this time.
"In understanding a man, in knowledge a little child, and in many things more ignorant than a child, the whole of his language and demeanor shows often a strangely contrasted mingling of manly and childish behavior. With a serious countenance and in a tone of great importance, he often utters things which, coming from any other person of the same age, would be called stupid or silly, but which, coming from him, always force upon us a sad, compassionate smile. It is particularly farcical to hear him speak of the future plans of his life,—of the manner in which, after having learned a great deal and earned money, he intends to settle himself with his wife, whom he considers as an indispensable part of domestic furniture."
"Mild and gentle, without vicious inclinations, and without passions and strong emotions, his quiet mind resembles the smooth mirror of a lake in the stillness of a moonlight night. Incapable of hurting an animal, compassionate even to the worm, which he is afraid to tread upon, timid even to cowardice, he will nevertheless act regardless of consequences, and even without forbearance, according to his own convictions, whenever it becomes necessary to defend or to execute purposes which he has once perceived and acknowledged to be right. If he feels himself annoyed in any manner, he will long bear it patiently, and will try to get out of the way of the person who is thus troublesome to him, or will endeavor to effect a change in his conduct by mild expostulations; but, finally, if he cannot help himself in any other manner, as soon as an opportunity of doing so offers, he will very quietly slip off the bonds that confine him,—yet without bearing the least malice against him who may have injured him. He is obedient, obliging, and yielding; but the man who accuses him wrongfully, or asserts to be true what he believes to be untrue, need not expect, that, from mere complaisance, or from other considerations, he will submit to injustice or to falsehood; he will always modestly, but firmly, insist upon his right; or perhaps, if the other seems inclined obstinately to maintain his ground against him, he will silently leave him."
But the fate which had been pursuing this unfortunate being, and without which the tragedy of his life would have been incomplete, overtook him at last. On the 15th of December, 1833, he was induced by some unknown person to meet him in a retired spot in the city of Anspach, under the pretence that he should then have the secret of his parentage revealed to him. The real object was his murder, and this time it was successful. Caspar was stabbed to the heart. He still had sufficient strength left to walk about a thousand paces; and, indeed, the wound was outwardly so insignificant, that it was at first believed to be a mere scratch. This strengthened an opinion which was then gradually gaining ground, that Caspar was an impostor; for it was firmly believed by some that he had inflicted this wound upon himself, as well as the one received in 1829, in order to quicken the somewhat languishing interest taken in him. Nor did they give up this opinion when the wound was found to be fatal. They then boldly asserted that he had wounded himself more severely than he had intended. And not content with simply maintaining this absurd opinion, they taunted him with it on his death-bed, so that he was not even allowed to die in peace. Nothing was wanting to fill his bitter cup. How terrible must have been the mental torture to wring from so resigned a soul the exclamation, "O God! O God! to die thus with contumely and disgrace!" The German is still more expressive,—"Ach, Gott! ach, Gott! so abkratzen muessen mit Schimpf und Schande!"
Such was the life of Caspar Hauser. For nearly seventeen years the inmate of a dreary prison, shut out from the light, without a single companion in his misery, drugged when it was necessary to change his linen, with no food but bread,—for seventeen years did he thus exist, —his mind a perfect blank. Suddenly cast upon the world, amid strange beings whom he could not understand and by whom he was not understood, he long knew scarcely a sensation save that of pain. And when at last he did become accustomed to civilized life, and the darkness which enshrouded him disappeared before the rays of light that found entrance into his intellect, it was only to awake to a knowledge of the utter misery of his position. He then saw himself a helpless orphan, the inferior of all with whom he came in contact, and a dependant upon the charity of others for his support. He awoke to find that he had lost seventeen years of this beautiful life, seventeen years which he never could recall,—that he never could take his stand amongst men as their equal, but would always be regarded as an unhappy being meriting their pity,—much like that felt for the pains of some suffering brute. Nor was this all. During the few years that were granted him in our world, persecuted by some unknown person, against whom he was helpless,—knowing that his life was aimed at by some one, but unable to protect himself, and at last falling a victim to the threatened blow,—and, worst of all, charged on his death-bed with being an impostor,—such was the life of Caspar Hauser!
Among the different opinions which have existed in regard to his origin, the most noticeable are those advanced by Stanhope and Merker, and by Daumer, Eschricht, and Feuerbach. The Earl of Stanhope's connection with Caspar Hauser was a rather peculiar one. He made his appearance in Nuremberg at the time the first attempt was made upon Caspar's life, but took no particular notice of him, and left without having shown any interest in him. On a second visit, about seven months later, he suddenly became passionately attached to Caspar, showed most unusual marks of fondness for him, and finally adopted him. He then removed him to Anspach, and remained his protector until his death in December, 1833. The day after his burial, Stanhope appeared in Anspach, and took particular pains to proclaim then, and subsequently at a judicial investigation in Munich, and in several tracts, his belief that Caspar was an impostor. This had already been maintained by Merker, the Prussian Counsellor of Police. The theory which Stanhope now advanced was, that Caspar was a journeyman tailor or glover, from some small village on the Austrian side of the river Salzach. The reasons which he assigns for his belief in the imposture are all derived from Caspar's supposed want of integrity and veracity. They impeach the character of Caspar living, and not of Caspar dead. Why, then, did Stanhope wait for his death before he proclaimed the imposture? Why did he remain his protector, and thus make himself a party to the fraud? His conduct is not easily explained. On the other hand, there is little ground for Daumer's conclusions. These are given at length in his "Disclosures concerning Caspar Hauser," published in 1859, a book called forth by attacks made upon him by Eschricht. Considering Stanhope's conduct, and his endeavor after Caspar's death to induce Daumer to support his views as to the imposture, and, upon his indignant refusal, making him twice the object of a personal attack, Daumer thinks that there is reason to believe Stanhope personally interested. He thinks that Caspar was the legitimate heir to some great English estate and title, that he was removed in order to make way for some one else, and that his murder was intrusted to some person who had not the courage or the wickedness to perpetrate it, but removed him first to Hungary and afterwards to Germany, and supported him in the manner indicated, hoping that he would not long survive. When, however, he grew up, his support became irksome and he was cast upon the world. There he attracted so much attention, that the instigator of the crime, dreading a disclosure, sought his life again. When this proved unsuccessful, he was removed to Anspach; Feuerbach, who had shown the greatest determination to sound the mystery, was removed from the world, and at last the tragedy was made complete in Caspar's own death. All this points to Stanhope. And yet Daumer has not taken the trouble to inquire whether it agrees with the family history. It is possible that he may be right; but his story carries with it so much the air of improbability, that we cannot give it credit without further proof.
In the seventh volume of Hitzig's "Annals of Criminal Jurisprudence," there is a communication from Lieutenant von Pirch, disclosing Caspar's acquaintance with certain Hungarian words. A little while before this announcement was made, a story had gone the rounds of the papers of Germany, that a governess residing in Pesth had fainted away, when the account of Caspar Hauser's appearance was related to her. All this naturally attracted attention to Hungary as the probable place of his birth; and it is for these reasons, that Feuerbach, Daumer, and others, suppose that he spent some part of his childhood in that country. After his death, Stanhope sent Lieutenant Hickel to Hungary to investigate the matter, but no traces were discovered,—a proof, as Stanhope has it, that these conclusions were groundless, and, according to Daumer, another proof of Stanhope's complicity. He believes that the very superficial search made by the order of Stanhope was intended to lull suspicion and prevent a more strict search being made.
To return to the opinion advanced by Merker, and subsequently adopted by Stanhope,—the thing is simply impossible. In the first place, it would have been impossible for an impostor to elude discovery. To trace him would have been the easiest thing in the world. With a vigilant police, in a thickly settled country, how could a man leave his place of abode, and travel, were it for ever so short a distance, without being known? But this is the least consideration. Caspar's whole life, his intellect, his body, the feats which he accomplished, when submitted to the most searching tests, were a refutation of the charge. But when it is added that he wounded himself in order to do away with suspicion, the accusation becomes so absurd as scarcely to merit refutation. It is answered by the fact, that it was proved, from the nature of the wounds, in both cases, that self-infliction was impossible. Nor is it conceivable that any one should have been able so long to deceive people who were constantly with him and always on the alert. And it is remarkable that they who saw most of Caspar, and knew him best, were most firmly convinced of his integrity,—whilst his traducers were, almost without an exception, men who had never known him intimately. Feuerbach, Daumer, Binder, Meier, Fuhrmann, and many others, maintain his honesty in the strongest terms.
On the other hand, it is said, that it is equally impossible for a person to have been kept in any community in the manner in which it is asserted that he was kept; discovery was inevitable. But it must be remembered that this instance does not stand alone. If search were made, many cases of the same kind might be collected. It is by no means so rare an occurrence for persons to be kept secluded in such a manner as to conceal their existence from the world. Daumer mentions two similar cases which happened about the same time. The very year that Caspar Hauser appeared, the son of a lawyer, named Fleischmann, just deceased, was discovered in a retired chamber of the house. He was thirty-eight years old, and had been confined there since his twelfth year. The other case, also mentioned by Feuerbach, was still more distressing. Dr. Horn saw, in the infirmary at Salzburg, a girl, twenty-two years of age, who had been brought up in a pig-sty. One of her legs was quite crooked, from her having sat with them crossed; she grunted like a hog; and her actions were "brutishly unseemly in human dress." Daumer also relates a third case, which was made the subject of a romantic story published in a Nuremberg paper, but which, he says, lacks confirmation. It was the discovery, in a secret place, of the grown-up son of a clergyman by his housekeeper. Whether this be true or not, both Feuerbach and Daumer believe that many similar instances do exist, which never come to light. It is not impossible, therefore, that Caspar Hauser was confined in a cellar to which none but his keeper sought entrance. Who would suspect the existence of a human being, taught to be perfectly submissive and quiet and to have no wants, in such a place, when even the existence of the subterranean, prison itself was probably unknown? The cases mentioned above were certainly more singular in this respect.
But Eschricht's opinion is the most peculiar of all. In his "Unverstand mid schlechte Erziehung," he maintains that Caspar was an idiot until he was brought to Nuremberg, that his mind was then strengthened and developed, and that he was then transformed from an idiot into an impostor. This is still more impossible than Stanhope's theory; for in this case Daumer, Feuerbach, Hiltel the jailer, Binder the mayor, and indeed all Caspar's earliest friends, instead of being victims of an imposture, are made partakers in the fraud. No one acquainted with the irreproachable character of these men could entertain the idea for a minute; and when we remember that it was not one, but many, who must have been parties to it, it becomes doubly impossible.
We come now to consider the opinion of Feuerbach; and we shall do it the more carefully, because in it, we feel confident, lies the true solution of the question. He was at the time President of the Court of Appeal of the Circle of Rezat. He had risen to this honorable position gradually, and it was the reward of his distinguished merit alone. His works on criminal jurisprudence, and the penal code which he drew up for the kingdom of Bavaria, and which was adopted by other states, had placed him in the first rank of criminal lawyers. It was he who conducted the first judicial investigations concerning Caspar Hauser. He was, therefore, intimately acquainted with all the circumstances of the case, and had ample opportunity to form a deliberate opinion. How the idea originated, that Caspar Hauser belonged to the House of Baden, it is difficult to say. Feuerbach never published it to the world. In his book on Caspar Hauser he makes no mention of it; but in 1832 he addressed a paper to Queen Caroline of Bavaria, headed, "Who might Caspar Hauser be?" in which he endeavors to show that he was the son of the Grand-Duchess Stephanie. This paper was, we believe, first published in 1852, in his "Life and Works," by his son.[D] The first part of it treats of Caspar's rank and position in general, and he comes to the following conclusions. Caspar was a legitimate child. Had he been illegitimate, less dangerous and far easier means would have been resorted to for concealing his existence and suppressing a knowledge of his parentage. And here we may add, that the supposition has never prevailed that he was the offspring of a criminal connection, and that these means were taken for suppressing the mother's disgrace. A note which Caspar brought with him, when he appeared at Nuremberg, indicated that such was the case, but it was so evidently a piece of deception that it never obtained much credit. The second conclusion at which Feuerbach arrives is, that people were implicated who had command of great and unusual means,—means which could prompt an attempt at murder in a crowded city and in the open day, and which could over-bribe all rewards offered for a disclosure. Third, Caspar was a person on whose life or death great interests depended, else there would not have been such care to conceal his existence. Interest, and not revenge or hate, was the motive. He must have been a person of high rank. To prove this, Feuerbach refers to dreams of Caspar's. On one occasion, particularly, he dreamt that he was conducted through a large castle, the appearance of which he imagined that he recognized, and afterwards minutely described. This Feuerbach thinks was only the awakening of past recollections. It would be interesting to know whether any palace corresponding to the description given exists. In the absence of such knowledge, this point of Feuerbach's argument appears a rather weak one. From the above propositions he concludes that Caspar was the legitimate child of princely parents, who was removed in order to open the succession to others, in whose way he stood.
[Footnote D: ANSELM RITTER VON FEUERBACH'S Leben und Wirken, aus seinen ausgedruckten Briefen, Tagebuechern, Vortraegen und Denkschriften, veroeffentlicht von seinem Sohne, LUDWIG FEUERBACH. Leipzig, 1852.]
The second division of the paper relates to the imprisonment, and here he takes a ground entirely opposed to the opinions of others. He believes that he was thus kept as a protection against some greater evil. His wants were supplied, he was well taken care of, and his keeper is therefore to be looked upon as his protector. Daumer sees in the keeper nothing but a hired murderer, whose courage or whose wickedness failed him. It is certainly difficult to imagine a kind friend immuring one in a dark subterranean vault, feeding one on bread, excluding light, fellowship, amusement, thoughts,—never saying a word, but studiously allowing one's mind to become a dreary waste. It is a friendship to which most of us would prefer death. We are therefore inclined to think that Daumer is here in the right. But whatever the nature of his imprisonment, the principal argument does not lose its force.
In the third place, Feuerbach speaks of the family to which Caspar must have belonged. Just about the time of Caspar's birth, the eldest son of the Grand-Duchess of Baden died an infant. His death was followed in a few years by that of his only brother, leaving several sisters, who could not inherit the duchy. By these deaths the old House of the Zaehringer became extinct, and the offspring of a morganatic marriage became the heirs to the throne. It was, therefore, for their interest that the other branch should die out. In addition to this, the mother of the new house was a woman of unbounded ambition and determined character, and had a bitter hatred for the Grand-Duchess. Without laying too much stress, then, upon the nearness in date of the elder child's death and Caspar's birth, as given in the letter, there is reason to suppose that they were the same person. There was every feeling of interest to prompt the deed, there was the opportunity of sickness to accomplish it in, and there was an unscrupulous woman to take advantage of it. Is it, then, impossible that she, having command of the house-hold, should have been able to substitute a dead for the living child? Accept the proposition, and the mystery is solved; reject it, and we are still groping in the dark. Nevertheless, there are circumstances which, even then, are incapable of explanation; but it is the most satisfactory theory, and certainly has less objections than the others. Feuerbach came to this conclusion early; for his paper addressed to Queen Caroline of Bavaria was written in 1832, the year before Caspar's death. Delicacy forbade the open discussion of the question; but, even at the time, this theory found many supporters. Some even went so far as to say that Feuerbach's sudden death the same year was owing to the indefatigable zeal with which he was ferreting out the mystery.
Of all the different explanations, then, which have been given, that of Feuerbach seems to be the most satisfactory. At the same time, like the rest, it is founded on conjecture. Its truth may never be proved. They whose interest it was to suppress the matter thirty years ago, and who resorted to such extreme measures in doing so, no doubt took ample precaution that every trace should be erased. It is barely possible that some confession or the discovery of some paper may cast light upon the subject; but the length of time which has elapsed renders it exceedingly improbable, and the mystery of Caspar Hauser, like the mysteries of the Iron Mask and Junius, will always remain a fruitful source of conjecture only.
It may not be uninteresting to close this sketch with the consideration of a point of law raised by Feuerbach in connection with the subject. It will be recollected that he calls his book "Caspar Hauser. An Example of a Crime against the Life of Man's Soul." The crime committed against Caspar Hauser was, according to the Bavarian code, twofold. There was the crime of illegal imprisonment, and the crime of exposure. And here Feuerbach advances the doctrine, that it was not only the actual confinement which amounted to illegal imprisonment, but that "we must incontestably, and, indeed, principally, regard as such the cruel withholding from him of the most ordinary gifts which Nature with a liberal hand extends even to the most indigent,—the depriving him of all the means of mental development and culture,—the unnatural detention of a human soul in a state of irrational animality." "An attempt," he says, "by artificial contrivances, to seclude a man from Nature and from all intercourse with rational beings, to change the course of his human destiny, and to withdraw from him all the nourishment afforded by those spiritual substances which Nature has appointed for food to the human mind, that it may grow and flourish, and be instructed and developed and formed,—such an attempt must, even quite independently of its actual consequences, be considered as, in itself, a highly criminal invasion of man's most sacred and most peculiar property,—of the freedom and the destiny of his soul. ...Inasmuch as the whole earlier part of his life was thus taken from him, he may be said to have been the subject of a partial soul-murder." This crime, if recognized, would, according to Feuerbach, far outweigh the mere crime of illegal imprisonment, and the latter would be merged in it.
Tittmann, in his "Hand-Book of Penal Law," also speaks of crimes against the intellect, and particularly mentions the separation of a person from all human society, if practised upon a child before it has learned to speak and until the intellect Las become sealed up, as well as the intentional rearing of a person to ignorance, as reducible to this head. This was written before Caspar's case had occurred. He says, also, that they are similar to cases of homicide; because the latter are punished for destroying the rational being, and not the physical man. Murder and the destruction of the intellect are, therefore, equally punishable. The one merits the punishment of death as well as the other. Nor are we to take the possibility of a cure into consideration, any more than we do the possibility of extinguishing a fire. But where the law does not prescribe the punishment of death irrespectively of the possibility of recovery, the punishment would rarely exceed ten years in the House of Correction. We must understand Tittmann's remarks, however, to refer entirely to the law of Saxony,—that being the government under which he lived, and the only one in whose criminal code this crime is recognized.