Before quitting the British Islands, it would be pleasant to wander through the beautiful Vale of Avoca in Ireland, and to look on those many exquisite landscapes and old ruins and crosses which have been so admirably rendered in the stereograph. There is the Giant's Causeway, too,—not in our own collection, but which our friend Mr. Waterston has transplanted with all its basaltic columns to his Museum of Art in Chester Square. Those we cannot stop to look at now, nor these many objects of historical or poetical interest which lie before us on our own table. Such are the pictures of Croyland Abbey, where they kept that jolly drinking-horn of "Witlaf, King of the Saxons", which Longfellow has made famous; Bedd-Gelert, the grave of the faithful hound immortalized by—nay, who has immortalized—William Spencer; the stone that marks the spot where William Rufus fell by Tyrrel's shaft; the Lion's Head in Dove Dale, fit to be compared with our own Old Man of the Mountain; the "Bowder Stone," or the great boulder of Borrowdale; and many others over which we love to dream at idle moments.
When we began these notes of travel, we meant to take our fellow-voyagers over the continent of Europe, and perhaps to all the quarters of the globe. We should make a book, instead of an article, if we attempted it. Let us, instead of this, devote the remaining space to an enumeration of a few of the most interesting pictures we have met with, many of which may be easily obtained by those who will take the trouble we have taken to find them.
Views of Paris are everywhere to be had, good and cheap. The finest illuminated or transparent paper view we have ever seen is one of the Imperial Throne. There is another illuminated view, the Palace of the Senate, remarkable for the beauty with which it gives the frescoes on the cupola. We have a most interesting stereograph of the Amphitheatre of Nismes, with a bull-fight going on in its arena at the time when the picture was taken. The contrast of the vast Roman structure, with its massive arched masonry, and the scattered assembly, which seems almost lost in the spaces once filled by the crowd of spectators who thronged to the gladiatorial shows, is one of the most striking we have ever seen. At Quimperle is a house so like the curious old building lately removed from Dock Square in Boston, that it is commonly taken for it at the first view. The Roman tombs at Arles and the quaint streets at Troyes are the only other French pictures we shall speak of, apart from the cathedrals to be mentioned.
Of the views in Switzerland, it may be said that the Glaciers are perfect, in the glass pictures, at least. Waterfalls are commonly poor: the water glares and looks like cotton-wool. Staubbach, with the Vale of Lauterbrunnen, is an exquisite exception. Here are a few signal specimens of Art. No. 4018, Seelisberg,—unsurpassed by any glass stereograph we have ever seen, in all the qualities that make a faultless picture. No. 4119, Mont Blanc from Sta. Rosa,—the finest view of the mountain for general effect we have met with. No. 4100, Suspension-Bridge of Fribourg,—very fine, but makes one giddy to look at it. Three different views of Goldau, where the villages lie buried under these vast masses of rock, recall the terrible catastrophe of 1806, as if it had happened but yesterday.
Almost everything from Italy is interesting. The ruins of Rome, the statues of the Vatican, the great churches, all pass before us but in a flash, as we are expressed by them on our ideal locomotive. Observe: next to snow and ice, stone is best rendered in the stereograph. Statues are given absolutely well, except where there is much foreshortening to be done, as in this of the Torso, where you see the thigh is unnaturally lengthened. See the mark on the Dying Gladiator's nose. That is where Michel Angelo mended it. There is Hawthorne's Marble Faun, (the one called of Praxiteles,) the Laocooen, the Apollo Belvedere, the Young Athlete with the Strigil, the Forum, the Cloaca Maxima, the Palace of the Caesars, the bronze Marcus Aurelius,—those wonders all the world flocks to see,—the God of Light has multiplied them all for you, and you have only to give a paltry fee to his servant to own in fee-simple the best sights that earth has to show.
But look in at Pisa one moment, not for the Leaning Tower and the other familiar objects, but for the interior of the Campo Santo, with its holy earth, its innumerable monuments, and the fading frescoes on its walls,—see! there are the Three Kings of Andrea Orgagna. And there hang the broken chains that once, centuries ago, crossed the Arno,—standing off from the wall, so that it seems as if they might clank, if you jarred the stereoscope. Tread with us the streets of Pompeii for a moment: there are the ruts made by the chariots of eighteen hundred years ago,—it is the same thing as stooping down and looking at the pavement itself. And here is the amphitheatre out of which the Pompeians trooped when the ashes began to fall round them from Vesuvius. Behold the famous gates of the Baptistery at Florence,—but do not overlook the exquisite iron gates of the railing outside; think of them as you enter our own Common in Boston from West Street, through those portals which are fit for the gates of—not paradise. Look at this sugar-temple,—no, it is of marble, and is the monument of one of the Scalas at Verona. What a place for ghosts that vast palazzo behind it! Shall we stand in Venice on the Bridge of Sighs, and then take this stereoscopic gondola and go through it from St. Mark's to the Arsenal? Not now. We will only look at the Cathedral,—all the pictures under the arches show in our glass stereograph,—at the Bronze Horses, the Campanile, the Rialto, and that glorious old statue of Bartholomew Colleoni,—the very image of what a partisan leader should be, the broad-shouldered, slender-waisted, stern-featured old soldier who used to leap into his saddle in full armor, and whose men would never follow another leader when he died. Well, but there have been soldiers in Italy since his day. Here are the encampments of Napoleon's army in the recent campaign. This is the battle-field of Magenta with its trampled grass and splintered trees, and the fragments of soldiers' accoutrements lying about.
And here (leaving our own collection for our friend's before-mentioned) here is the great trench in the cemetery of Melegnano, and the heap of dead lying unburied at its edge. Look away, young maiden and tender child, for this is what war leaves after it. Flung together, like sacks of grain, some terribly mutilated, some without mark of injury, all or almost all with a still, calm look on their faces. The two youths, before referred to, lie in the foreground, so simple-looking, so like boys who had been overworked and were lying down to sleep, that one can hardly see the picture for the tears these two fair striplings bring into the eyes.
The Pope must bless us before we leave Italy. See, there he stands on the balcony of St. Peter's, and a vast crowd before him with uncovered heads as he stretches his arms and pronounces his benediction.
Before entering Spain we must look at the Circus of Gavarni, a natural amphitheatre in the Pyrenees. It is the most picturesque of stereographs, and one of the best. As for the Alhambra, we can show that in every aspect; and if you do not vote the lions in the court of the same a set of mechanical h——gs and nursery bugaboos, we have no skill in entomology. But the Giralda, at Seville, is really a grand tower, worth looking at. The Seville Boston-folks consider it the linchpin, at least, of this rolling universe. And what a fountain this is in the Infanta's garden! what shameful beasts, swine and others, lying about on their stomachs! the whole surmounted by an unclad gentleman squeezing another into the convulsions of a galvanized frog! Queer tastes they have in the Old World. At the Fountain of the Ogre in Berne, the giant, or large-mouthed private person, upon the top of the column, is eating a little infant as one eats a radish, and has plenty more,—a whole bunch of such,—in his hand, or about him.
A voyage down the Rhine shows us nothing better than St. Goar, (No. 2257,) every house on each bank clean and clear as a crystal. The Heidelberg views are admirable;—you see a slight streak in the background of this one: we remember seeing just such a streak from the castle itself, and being told that it was the Rhine, just visible, afar off. The man with the geese in the goose-market at Nuremberg gives stone, iron, and bronze, each in perfection.
So we come to quaint Holland, where we see windmills, ponts-levis, canals, galiots, houses with gable-ends to the streets and little mirrors outside the windows, slanted so as to show the frows inside what is going on.
We must give up the cathedrals, after all: Santa Maria del Fiore, with Brunelleschi's dome, which Michel Angelo wouldn't copy and couldn't beat; Milan, aflame with statues, like a thousand-tapered candelabrum; Tours, with its embroidered portal, so like the lace of an archbishop's robe; even Notre Dame of Paris, with its new spire; Rouen, Amiens, Chartres,—we must give them all up.
Here we are at Athens, looking at the buttressed Acropolis and the ruined temples,—the Doric Parthenon, the Ionic Erechtheum, the Corinthian temple of Jupiter, and the beautiful Caryatides. But see those steps cut in the natural rock. Up those steps walked the Apostle Paul, and from that summit, Mars Hill, the Areopagus, he began his noble address, "Ye men of Athens!"
The Great Pyramid and the Sphinx! Herodotus saw them a little fresher, but of unknown antiquity,—far more unknown to him than to us. The Colossi of the Plain! Mighty monuments of an ancient and proud civilization standing alone in a desert now.
My name is Osymandyas, King of Kings; Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!
But nothing equals these vast serene faces of the Pharaohs on the great rock-temple of Abou Simbel (Ipsambul) (No. 1, F. 307). It Is the sublimest of stereographs, as the temple of Kardasay, this loveliest of views on glass, is the most poetical. But here is the crocodile lying in wait for us on the sandy bank of the Nile, and we must leave Egypt for Syria.
Damascus makes but a poor show, with its squalid houses, and glaring clayed roofs. We always wanted to invest in real estate there in Abraham Street or Noah Place, or some of its well-established thoroughfares, but are discouraged since we have had these views of the old town. Baalbec does better. See the great stones built into the wall there,—the biggest 64 x 13 x 13! What do you think of that?—a single stone bigger than both your parlors thrown into one, and this one of three almost alike, built into a wall as if just because they happened to be lying round, handy! So, then, we pass on to Bethlehem, looking like a fortress more than a town, all stone and very little window,—to Nazareth, with its brick oven-like houses, its tall minaret, its cypresses, and the black-mouthed, open tombs, with masses of cactus growing at their edge,—to Jerusalem,—to the Jordan, every drop of whose waters seems to carry a baptismal blessing,—to the Dead Sea,—and to the Cedars of Lebanon. Almost everything may have changed in these hallowed places, except the face of the stream and the lake, and the outlines of hill and valley. But as we look across the city to the Mount of Olives, we know that these lines which run in graceful curves along the horizon are the same that He looked upon as he turned his eyes sadly over Jerusalem. We know that these long declivities, beyond Nazareth, were pictured in the eyes of Mary's growing boy just as they are now in ours sitting here by our own firesides.
This is no toy, which thus carries us into the very presence of all that is most inspiring to the soul in the scenes which the world's heroes and martyrs, and more than heroes, more than martyrs, have hallowed and solemnized by looking upon. It is no toy: it is a divine gift, placed in our hands nominally by science, really by that inspiration which is revealing the Almighty through the lips of the humble students of Nature. Look through it once more before laying it down, but not at any earthly sight. In these views, taken through the telescopes of De la Rue of London and of Mr. Rutherford of New York, and that of the Cambridge Observatory by Mr. Whipple of Boston, we see the "spotty globe" of the moon with all its mountains and chasms, its mysterious craters and groove-like valleys. This magnificent stereograph by Mr. Whipple was taken, the first picture February 7th, the second April 6th. In this way the change of position gives the solid effect of the ordinary stereoscopic views, and the sphere rounds itself out so perfectly to the eye that it seems as if we could grasp it like an orange.
If the reader is interested, or like to become interested, in the subject of sun-sculpture and stereoscopes, he may like to know what the last two years have taught us as to the particular instruments best worth owning. We will give a few words to the subject. Of simple instruments, for looking at one slide at a time, Smith and Beck's is the most perfect we have seen, but the most expensive. For looking at paper slides, which are light, an instrument which may be held in the hand is very convenient. We have had one constructed which is better, as we think, than any in the shops. Mr. Joseph L. Bates, 129, Washington Street, has one of them, if any person is curious to see it. In buying the instruments which hold many slides, we should prefer two that hold fifty to one that holds a hundred. Becker's small instrument, containing fifty paper slides, back to back, is the one we like best for these slides, but the top should be arranged so as to come off,—the first change we made in our own after procuring it.
We are allowed to mention the remarkable instrument contrived by our friend Dr. H.J. Bigelow, for holding fifty glass slides. The spectator looks in: all is darkness. He turns a crank: the gray dawn of morning steals over some beautiful scene or the facade of a stately temple. Still, as he turns, the morning brightens through various tints of rose and purple, until it reaches the golden richness of high noon. Still turning, all at once night shuts down upon the picture as at a tropical sunset, suddenly, without blur or gradual dimness,—the sun of the picture going down,
"Not as in Northern climes obscurely bright, But one unclouded blaze of living light."
We have not thanked the many friendly dealers in these pictures, who have sent us heaps and hundreds of stereographs to look over and select from, only because they are too many to thank. Nor do we place any price on this advertisement of their most interesting branch of business. But there are a few stereographs we wish some of them would send us, with the bill for the same: such as Antwerp and Strasbourg Cathedrals,—Bologna, with its brick towers,—the Lions of Mycenae, if they are to be had,—the Walls of Fiesole,—the Golden Candlestick in the Arch of Titus,—and others which we can mention, if consulted; some of which we have hunted for a long time in vain. But we write principally to wake up an interest in a new and inexhaustible source of pleasure, and only regret that the many pages we have filled can do no more than hint the infinite resources which the new art has laid open to us all.
THE LONDON WORKING-MEN'S COLLEGE.
In what is now as near the centre of the Map of London as any house can properly be said to be is an old-fashioned dwelling-house on Great-Ormond Street, which is occupied, and densely occupied, by Frederic Denison Maurice's "Working-Men's College." The house looks, I suppose, very much as it did in 1784, when Great-Ormond Street bordered on the country,—when Lord Thurlow, the Chancellor of England, lived in this house,—when some thieves jumped over his garden-wall, forced two bars from the kitchen-window, entered a room adjoining the Lord Chancellor's study, and stole the Great Seal of England, "inclosed in two bags, one of leather and one of silk." London has grown so much since, that anything that is stolen from the Working-Men's College will not be stolen by thieves entering from the fields. I may say, in passing, that this theft "threw London into consternation"; there being an impression, that, for want of the Great Seal, all the functions of the Executive Government must be suspended. The Privy-Council, however, did not share this impression. They had a new seal made before night; and though the Government of England has often moved very slowly since, it has never confessedly stopped, as some Governments nearer home have done, from that day to this day.
In view of what is done in Lord Thurlow's old house now, it is worth while to linger a moment on what it was then and what he was. He was the Keeper of George III.'s conscience, until he caballed against Mr. Pitt, and was unceremoniously turned out by him. As Lord High-Chancellor, he was guardian-in-chief of all the wards in Chancery; and I suppose, for instance, without looking up the quotation in Boswell, that he was the particular Lord Chancellor to whom Dr. Johnson said he should like to intrust the making of all the matches in England. Louis Napoleon has just now undertaken to make all the friction-matches in France,—but Dr. Johnson's proposal referred to the matrimonial matches, the denouemens of the comedies and tragedies of domestic life. To us Americans, Thurlow is notable for the strong and uncompromising language which he used against us all through our Revolution, which excessively delighted the King. As to his faculty for keeping a conscience, it may be said, that, though he never married, he resided in this Great-Ormond Street house with his own mistress and his illegitimate children. Lord Campbell, who mentions this fact, informs us, that, as early as his own youth, the British Bench had reached such purity that judges were expected to marry their mistresses when they were appointed to the Bench. He adds, that it is long since any such condition as that was necessary. In Thurlow's time this stage of decency had not been attained even by Lord Chancellors. His humanity may be indicated by his stiff opposition to every reform ever proposed in the English criminal law, or in the social order of the time. He battled the bills for suppressing the slave-trade with all his might. "I desire of you, my Lords, in your humane frenzy, to show some humanity to the whites as well as to the negroes",—illustrating this remark by a picture of the sufferings of an English trader who had risked thirty thousand pounds on the slave-trade that year. When an entering wedge was attempted for the improvement of the bloody code of criminal law, Thurlow opposed it with passion. The particular clause selected by the reformers was one which demanded that women who had been connected with any treasonable movements should be burnt alive. It was proposed to reduce their punishment to the same scale as men's. Thurlow made it his duty to defend the ancient practice. He was, in short, mixed up with every effort of his time, which we now consider disgraceful, for arresting the gradual progress of reform.
Now that Thurlow's wine-cellar is a college-chapel, that young men study arithmetic in the room the Great Seal was stolen from, that Mr. Ruskin teaches water-color drawing in Thurlow's bed-chamber, that Tom Brown, alias Mr. Hughes, presides over a weekly tea-party in the three-pair back, and drills the awkward squad of the working-men's battalion in the garden, it seems worth while to show that at least some places in the world have improved in eighty years, whether the world itself is to be given up as a mistake or not. We will let Lord Thurlow go, as Lord Campbell does, with this charitable wish:—"I have not learned," he says, "any particulars of his end, but I will hope that it was a good one. I trust, that, conscious of the approaching change, having sincerely repented of his violence of temper, of the errors into which he had been led by worldly ambition, and of the irregularities of his private life, he had seen the worthlessness of the objects by which he had been allured; that, having gained the frame of mind which his awful situation required, he received the consolations of religion; and that, in charity with mankind, he tenderly bade a long and last adieu to the relations and friends who surrounded him." There is not an atom of fact known on which to found Lord Campbell's hope. But I, also, will leave Lord Thurlow with this charitable wish, and I will now ask the readers of the "Atlantic," who may be enough interested in social reform and a mutual education, to see what has happened between his wine-cellar and ridge-pole since the "London Working-Men's College" was established there.
The founder of the Working-Men's College, as I have intimated, is the Rev. Frederic Denison Maurice, the eminent practical theologian. Its age is now six years,—as it was founded in the autumn of 1854. He says himself, in a striking speech he made at Manchester not long since, that the plan originated in that "awful year 1848, which I shall always look upon as one of the great epochs in history." He says that "a knot of men, of different professions, lawyers, doctors, parsons, artists, chemists, and such like," thought they saw, in the convulsions of 1848, a handwriting on the wall, sent them by God himself, testifying, "that, if either rank or wealth or knowledge is not held as a trust for men, if any one of these things is regarded as a possession of our own, it must perish." In a real desire, then, to "make their own little education of use to such persons as had less," and, in so doing, to establish a vital and effective relation between themselves and the men of the working-classes below them, they looked round for opportunities to work in the education of men. Anybody who remembers "Amyas Leigh" will remember how earnestly Charles Kingsley there presses the theory that most of what we learn as children should be left to be learned by men, as it was in the days of Queen Bess. I suppose that Maurice's "knot of parsons and such like" shared that view. At all events, they lectured to Mechanics' Institutes, and did other such wish-wash work, which is not good for much, except for the motive it shows; and having found that out, they were all the more willing to join in arrangements more definite and profitable. According to Mr. Maurice, the formation of the People's College in Sheffield started them on the plan of a college, and determined them, as far as they could, to give consistency to their dreams by carrying out the plan of an English college in their arrangements for working-men.
At this point I must beg the accomplished company of readers to recollect what an English college is. In its organization, and in much of its consequent esprit du corps, it is as different from an American college as an Odd-Fellows' lodge is from a country academy. The difference is also of precisely the same sort. The man or the boy who connects himself with an English college is, in theory, still the student of a thousand years ago, who came on foot to Oxford or Cambridge, because he had heard, in the wilds of Mercia or of Wessex, that there were some books at those places,—and that some Alfred or Ethelred or Eldred had given some privileges to students coming there. When he has arrived, he joins one or other of the societies of students whom he may find there, just as the Mercian Athelstan may have done. From the moment that the established society has tested him,—and the tests are very mild,—he is admitted as a member of a fraternity, sharing the privileges of that fraternity, and, to a certain extent, its duties. He is at first a junior member, it is true. Among his duties, therefore, will be obedience to some of the senior members, and respect to all. But none the less is he a neophyte member of a corporation which extends back hundreds of years perhaps,—he is a co-proprietor of its honors and privileges, is responsible for their preservation, and is, from the first, inoculated with its esprit du corps.
Now in an American college there is esprit du corps enough, and sense of college dignity enough. But the student's esprit du corps is one thing, and the government's is another. The Commons Hall, for instance, has died out of most of our colleges. Why? Why, because it had ceased to be a Commons Hall. It was not the place where the junior and senior members of a college, the pupils and all their instructors, met together. It was the place where the undergraduates were fed,—and where a few wretched tutors were fed at their sides. But every member of the governing body who could possibly escape did so. At our Cambridge, they even went so far as to set apart a Commons Hall for each class of undergraduates at last,—for fear men should see each other eat; as at "Separate Prisons" the idea of communion in worship is carried out by introducing each prisoner into a state-pew or royal-box whose partitions are so high that he cannot see his neighbors. This was before they gave the coup-de-grace to the whole thing, and scattered the members of their college just as widely as they could at meal-times, as at all other times. The recitation, again, probably the only occasion when an American student meets his instructor, is conducted according to an arrangement by which the instructor meets all of a large section or class together, meeting them for recitation simply. In a word, the American college differs from any other American school chiefly in having larger endowments and older pupils.
In the English college, on the other hand, before a freshman has been there three months, he may have established his claim to some "scholarship," which shall be his post and his "foundation" there for years. From the very beginning, one or another honor or prize is proposed to him,—which is the first stepping-stone on a line of promotion of which the last may be his appointment to the highest dignities in the University or in the Church. From the beginning, therefore, he has his duties in the college assigned to him, if he have earned any right to such honors. Thus, it may be his place to read the Scripture Lesson at prayers, or to read the Latin grace at the end of dinner,—the President and Vice-President of his college having done the same at the beginning.
These arrangements are not to be confounded with the services rendered by charity students. We have imitated some of these, which are so sadly described in "Tom Brown at Oxford." But we have no arrangements which correspond at all to those of the system which in England brings graduates and undergraduates to a certain extent into a common life, mutually interested in the honor and popularity of "Our College."
When Mr. Maurice and his friends spoke of "a college," they meant to carry to the utmost these social and mutual views of college life. They wanted to come into closer connection with the working-men of London, and formed the Working-Men's College that they might do so.
They had, therefore, something in mind very different from sitting for an hour in presence of a dozen students, hearing them recite a lesson, saying then, "Ite, missa est," and departing all, every man to his own way. They foresaw their difficulties, undoubtedly, and they have undoubtedly met some which they did not foresee. But they meant to establish, on paper, if nowhere else, a mutual society,—a society, it is true, in which those who knew the most should teach those who knew the least, but still a society where the learners and the teachers met as members of the same fraternity,—equals so far as the laws of that society went,—and with certain common interests arising from their connection with it.
Not only does the necessity for such an undertaking appear in England as it does not here, but the difficulty of it is, on a moderate calculation, ten thousand times greater than it is here. Here, in the first place, if the "working-man" as a boy has felt any particular fancy for algebra or Greek or Latin, (and those fancies, in a fast country, are apt to develop before the boy is eighteen,) he has e'en gone to a high-school, and, if he wanted, to a "college," where, if he had not the means himself, some State Scholarship or Education Society has floated him through, and he has gained his fill of algebra, Latin, or Greek, or is on the way to do so. Or, if he have not done this,—if the appetite for these things, or for physical science, historical science, or political science, has developed itself a little later in life, he has hoarded up books for a few years, and has made himself meanwhile rather more necessary to his master than he was before, so that, when he says, some day, "I think we must arrange so that I can leave the shop earlier in the afternoon," the master has bowed submiss, and the incipient chemist, historian, or politician has worked his own sweet will. Or, thirdly, if he wanted instruction from anybody in the category we first named, who had tried the high-school and college plan, he had only to go and ask for it.
Very likely the man is his brother; at all events, he is somebody's brother: and there is no difference in their social status which makes any practical difficulty in their meeting together, man-fashion, to teach and to learn. But in saying all this, we speak of things which London understands no more than it does the system of society of the Chinese Empire. To begin: the thriving Oxford-Street retailer will tell you very frankly, perhaps, that he had rather his son should not learn to read, if he could only sign his name without learning. Reason: that the father has observed that his older son read so much more of bad than good, that he is left to doubt the benefits conferred by letters. I do not mean, that, practically, the London tradesman's son does not learn to read; but I do mean that that process meets this sort of prejudice. Grant, however, that he does learn to read, and has appetite for more; grant that he gets well through with A B C, and what follows; grant that he can read well enough to read the translations from French filth which his father is afraid of; but grant that his father and his mother, working with the blessing of his God, have kept him pure enough to steer clear of that temptation; grant that he becomes one-and-twenty, eager for algebra, for chemistry, for Latin, or for Greek. What are you going to do about it then? Then comes in the necessity which Mr. Maurice wanted to meet,—and there comes in, by the same steps, the exceeding difficulty of his experiment.
It is the difficulty of caste. I do not know how many castes there are in England; but I should think there were about thirty-seven. Any member of either of these finds it as hard to associate with a member of any other as a Sudra does to associate with a Brahmin, or a Brahmin with a Sudra. It is not that people are unwilling to condescend to the castes below them. At least, it is not that chiefly. It is, quite as much or more, that, with a good, solid, English pride, they do not care to be snobbish, and do not choose to put themselves upon people who are above them. They "know their place," they say. And, for a race which has as good reason as the English for pride in its ability to stand firm, to "know one's place" is a great thing to boast of. People who have travelled on the Continent have been amused to see how zealously Sir John and Lady Jane and Miss Jeanette talked together at the table d'hote for a week, never by accident speaking to Mr. Williams, Mrs. Williams, and Miss Williamina, who sat next them. This is not inability to condescend, however. The Ws are as unwilling to speak to the Js. This difficulty is the same difficulty which Mr. Litchfield describes in an account of his "Five Years' Teaching at Working-Men's College." "When a man first comes to our college," he says, "he is apt to walk into his class-room in the solemn and discreet manner befitting an entry into a public institution, and generally for a night or two will persist in regarding his teacher as a severely official personage, whose dignity is not to be lightly trifled with. Now nothing, I believe, can really be done, till this notion is extinguished,—till teacher and students have got to understand each other, and have agreed to banish the foolish mauvaise honte which makes every Englishman shy of talking to a fellow-creature. The freer the colloquial intercourse between teacher and students, the more is learned in the time. To establish this is not easy; but harder still is the task of setting the students on a familiar footing with each other. There seems to be some impassable obstacle to the fraternization of a dozen Londoners, though sitting side by side, week after week, doing the same work." The truth being, that the dozen Londoners might belong to twelve different castes. And just as in "the Rifle Movement" the clerks in the Queen's civil service could not serve in the same battalion with architects' clerks on the one hand, or students at law on the other,—you may have, in your algebra class, a goldsmith who is afraid of being snobbish if he speaks to a map-engraver, or a tailor who does not presume to address an opinion on Archimedes' square to a piano-forte maker.
But the Brahmin and the Sudra may both be converted to Christianity. In that case, though it seems very odd to both, the distinction of caste goes to the wall. And the "knot of parsons and such like," spoken of above, having, very fortunately for the world, been born into the Christian Church, made it, as we have seen, their business to face the difficulty because of the necessity,—and the Working-Men's College is the result of their endeavor. Mr. Maurice himself took the first step. Before the College itself was opened, he undertook a Bible-class. He invited whoever would to come. He read a portion of the Scriptures, explained its meaning as he could,—and invited all possible questioning. He testifies, in the most public way, that he got more good than he gave in the intercourse which followed. "I have learned more myself than I have imparted. Again and again the wish has come into my mind, when I have left those classes, 'Would to God that anything I have said to them has been as useful to them as what they have said to me has been to me!'"
If now the American reader will free his mind from any comparisons with an American college, and take, instead, his notion of this "Bible-class," we can give him some conception of what the Working-Men's College is. For there is not a clergyman in America who has not conducted such a class, for the benefit of any who would come. And such classes are considered as mutual classes. Everybody may ask questions,—everybody may bring in any contribution he can to the conversation. Very clearly there is no reason why chemistry, algebra, Latin, or Greek may not be taught from the same motive, in classes gathered in much the same way, and with a like feeling of cooperation among those concerned. This is what the Working-Men's College attempts. The instructors volunteer their services. They go, for the love of teaching, or to be of use, or to extend their acquaintance among their fellow-men. The students go, in great measure, doubtless, to learn. But they are encouraged to feel themselves members of a great cooeperation society. So soon as possible, they are commissioned as teachers themselves, and are put in a position to take preparatory classes in the College. A majority of the finance-board consists of students. Let us now see what is the programme which grows out of such a plan. I have not at hand the schedule of exercises for the current year. I must therefore give that which was in force in the autumn of 1859, when by paying half-a-crown I became a member of the Working-Men's College. As I make this boast, I must confess that I never took any certificate of proficiency there, nor was I ever "sent up" for any, even the humblest, degree. For the Working-Men's College may send up students to the University of London for degrees.
Remember, then, that to accommodate London working-hours, all the classes begin as late as seven o'clock in the evening. There are some Women's Classes in the afternoon, but they are under a wholly different management. From seven to ten every evening, Lord Thurlow's house is, so to speak, in full blast. Mr. Ruskin is the earliest professor. He comes at seven on Thursday, to teach drawing in landscape from seven till half-past ten. Work begins on other evenings and in other classes at half-past seven. Four other teachers of drawing are at work with their pupils on different evenings of the week. Monday and Thursday are the Latin days, Monday and Wednesday the Greek,—all taught by graduates of the Universities. The mathematics are Arithmetic, Algebra, Geometry in two classes, and Trigonometry. There was a class in Geology the winter I knew the College,—there had been classes in Botany and Chemistry. There were also classes in French, in German, in English Grammar, in Logic, in Political Economy, and in Vocal Music, a class on the Structure and Functions of the Human Body, and some general lectures or studies in History. There were also "practice classes," where the students worked with others more advanced than themselves on the subjects of the several exercises,—there were preparatory classes, and an adult school to teach men to read.
Now this is rather a rambling conspectus of a curriculum of study. But it teaches, I suppose, first, what the right men would volunteer to teach,—second, what the working-men wanted to learn. It is pretty clear, that, if the plan succeeds, it will bring up a body of young men who will know what is the advantage of a systematic line of study a good deal better than any of them can be expected to know at the beginning. Meanwhile here is certainly a very remarkable exhibition of instruction to any man in London for a price merely nominal. After he has once paid an entrance-fee,—half-a-crown, as I have said,—he may join any class in the College whenever he wishes, on the payment of a very insignificant additional fee. For the drawing-classes this fee is five shillings. For the courses of one hour a week it is two shillings sixpence, for those of two hours it is four shillings. The drawing-classes are a trifle more costly, because the room for drawing is kept open ready for practice-work every evening in the week. There is also open for everybody every evening a Library, and the Principal's Bible-class is open to all comers.
So much for the instruction side. Now to describe the social side, I had best perhaps give the detail of one or two of my own visits at the College. Walk into the front room on the lower floor of any house in Colonnade Row in Boston, where the entry is on the right of the house, and you see such a room as the present "Library" was when Lord Thurlow lived there. Here is the office of the College. Here I found Mr. Shorter, the Secretary, in a corner, at a little desk piled with catalogues, circulars, "Working-Men's College Magazines," etc. There was a coal fire in a grate, [Mem. Hot-air furnaces hardly known in England,] a plain suite of book-shelves on one or more sides of the room, and a suite of narrow tables for readers running across. There were, perhaps, a dozen young men sitting there to read. This is virtually a club-room for the College, and serves just the same purpose that the reading-room of the Christian Union or the Christian Association does with us, but that they take no newspapers. [Mem. 2d. If you are in England, you say, "They take in none." In America, the newspapers take in the subscribers.]
I told Mr. Shorter that I wanted to learn about the practical working of the College. He informed me very pleasantly of all that I inquired about. It proved that they published a monthly magazine, "The Working-Men's College Magazine," which was devoted to their interests. The subscription is a trifle, and I took the volume for the year. It proved, again, that I could become a member of the College by paying half-a-crown; so I paid, was admitted to the privilege of the reading-room, and sat down to read up, from the Magazine, as to the working of the College. It appeared, that, after my initiation, I might join any class, though it were not at the beginning of the term. So I boldly proposed to Mr. Shorter that I would join Mr. Ruskin's class. To tell the whole truth, I thought the experiment would be well worth making, if I only gained by it a single personal interview with the Oxford graduate, though I was doubtful about the quality of my impromptu skies.
"Says Paddy, 'There's few play This music,—can you play?'— Says I, 'I don't know, for I never did try.'"
I could at least have said this to the distinguished critic, if I found that his class was more advanced than I. But it proved that their session was within quarter of an hour of its end,—and with some lingering remains of native modesty, I waited for another occasion,—a morrow which never came,—before putting myself under Mr. Ruskin's volunteer tuition. But I tell the story to illustrate what might have been. Had I been legitimately a working-man in London, whatever the character of my work, I had a right to that privilege.
The Library proved to be one of those miscellaneous collections, such as all new establishments have, so long as they rely on the books which are given to them. I took down a volume of the "Reports of the Social Association,"—an institution which they have in England now, for the double purpose of giving an additional chance to philanthropists to talk, and of saving the world from the Devil by drainage, statistics, statutes, and machinery generally. But I looked over the edge of the book a good deal to see who drifted in and out. As different classes finished their work, one and another member came in,—and a few lingered to read. The aspect of activity and resolute purpose was the striking thing about the whole. The men were all young,—seemed at home, and interested in what they were doing. Half-past nine, or thereabouts, came, and a bell announced that all instruction was over, and that evening prayers would close the work of the day. Down-stairs I went, therefore, with those who stayed, into Lord Thurlow's wine-cellar, which, as I said, is the chapel.
The arrangements for this religious service, if I understood the matter rightly, are in the hands of Mr. Hughes, the well-known biographer of Tom Brown at Rugby and at Oxford. In an amusing speech about his connection with the College, Mr. Hughes gives an account of the way his services as a law professor were gradually dispensed with, and says, "Being a loose hand, they cast round to see what should be done with me." Then, he says, they gave him the charge of the common room of the College,—and that he considers it his business to promote, in whatever way he can, the "common life," or the communion, we may say, of the members who belong to different classes. In this view, for instance, in the tea-room, where there is always tea for any one who wants it, he presides at a social party weekly;—he had charge, when I was there, of the drill class, and, I think, at other seasons, conducted the cricket club, the gymnastics, or had an eye to them. In such a relation as that, such a man would think of the union in worship as an essential feature in his plans. And here I am tempted to say, that in a thousand things in England which seem a hopeful improvement on English lethargy, one catches sight of Dr. Arnold as being, behind all, the power that is moving. Hodson, in the East-Indian army, seems so different from anybody else, that you wonder where he came from, till it proves he was one of Arnold's boys. Price's Candle-Works, in London, and Spottiswoode's Printing-House have been before us here, in all our studies for the Christian oversight of great workshops,—and it turns out that it was Arnold who started the men who set these successes in order. The Bishop of London would not thank me for intimating that he gained something from being Arnold's successor; but I am sure Mr. Hughes would be pleased to think that Arnold's spirit still lives and works in his cellar-chapel.
The chapel is but one of the recitation-rooms,—and, like all the others, is fitted with the plainest unpainted tables and benches. Two gentlemen read the lessons and a short form of prayer, prepared, I think, by Mr. Maurice himself,—and so adapted to the place and the occasion. Thirty or more of the students were present.
I dare not say that it was a piece of Working-Men's College good-fellowship,—but, led either by that or by English hospitality, one of the gentlemen who officiated, to whom I had introduced myself with no privilege but that of a "fellow-commoner" at the College, not only showed me every courtesy there, but afterwards offered me every service which could facilitate my objects in London. This fact is worth repeating, because it shows, at least, what is possible in such an institution.
After an introduction so cordial, it may well be supposed that I often looked in on the College of an evening. If I were in that part of the town when evening came on, I made the Library my club-room, to write a note or to waste an hour. I am sure, that, had it been in my power, I should have dropped in often,—so pleasant was it to watch the modest work of the place, and the energy of the crowded rooms,—and so new to me the aspects of English life it gave. I felt quite sure that the College was gaining ground, on the whole. I can easily understand that some classes drag,—perhaps some studies, which the managers would be most glad to see successful. But, on the whole, there seems spirit and energy,—and of course success.
My travelling companion, Chiron, is fond of twitting me as to the success of one of the "social meetings" to which I dragged him, promising to show him something of working-men's life. We arrived too early. But the Secretary told us that the garden was lighted up for drill, and that the working-men's battalion was drilling there. It was under the charge of Sergeant Reed, a medal soldier from the Crimea. At that time England was in one of her periodical fits of expecting an invasion. For some reason they will not call on every able-bodied man to serve in a militia;—I thought because they were afraid to arm all their people,—though no Englishman so explained it to me. They did, however, call for volunteers from those classes of society which could afford to buy uniforms and obtain "practice-grounds three hundred yards in length." This included, I should say, about eleven of the thirty-seven castes of English society. It intentionally left out those beneath,—as it did all Ireland. Mr. Hughes, however, seized on it as an admirable chance for his College,—its common feeling, its gymnastics,—and many other "good things," looking down the future. In general, the drills which were going on all over England were sad things to me. This idea of staking guineas against sous, when the contest with Napoleon did come,—staking an English judge, for instance, with his rifle, against some wretched conscript whom Napoleon had been drilling thoroughly, with his, seemed and seems to me wretched policy. But—if it were to be done this way—of course the best thing possible was to work as widely as you could in getting your recruits; and,—if England were too conservative to say, "We are twenty-eight millions, one-fifth fighting men,"—too conservative to put rifles or muskets into the hands of those five or six million fighters,—the next best thing was to rank as many as you could in your handful of upper-class riflemen. However, I offered my advice liberally to all comers, and explained that at home I was a soldier when the Government wanted me,—was registered somewhere,—and could be marched to San Juan, about which General Harney was vaporing just then, whenever the authorities chose. So it was that I and Chiron stood superior to see Sergeant Reed drill thirty-nine working-men. Mr. Hughes was on the terrace, teaching an awkward squad their facings.
Sergeant Reed paraded his men,—and wanted one or two more. He came and asked Mr. Hughes for them,—and he in turn told us very civilly, that, if "we knew our facings," we might fall in. Alas for the theory of the Landsturm! Alas for the fame of the Massachusetts militia! Here are two of the "one hundred and fifty-two thousand eight hundred and fifty non-commissioned officers, musicians, artificers, and privates" whom Massachusetts that year registered at Washington,—two soldiers for whom somebody, somewhere, has two cartridge-boxes, two muskets, two shoulder-straps, and the rest;—here is an opportunity for them to show the gentlemen of a foreign service how much better we know our facings than they theirs,—and, alas, the representative two do not know their facings at all! We declined the invitation as courteously as it was offered. Perhaps we thus escaped a prosecution under the Act of 1819, when we came home,—for having entered the service of a foreign power. Certainly we avoided the guilt of felony, in England; for it is felony for an alien to take any station of trust or honor under the Queen,—and when Mr. Bates and Louis Napoleon were sworn in as special constables on the Chartists' day, they might both have been tried for felony on the information of Fergus O'Connor, and sent to some Old Bailey or other. None the less did we regret our ignorance of the facings, and, after a few minutes, sadly leave the field of glory.
My last visit to the Working-Men's College was to attend one of Mr. Maurice's Sunday-evening classes, and this was the only occasion when I ever appeared as a student. It was held at nine in the evening,—out of the way, therefore, of any Church-service. There gathered nearly twenty young men, who seemed in most instances to be personally strangers to each other. Mr. Maurice is so far an historical person that I have a right, I believe, to describe his appearance. He must be about fifty years old now. He looks as if he had done more than fifty years' worth of work,—and yet does not look older than that, on the whole. His hair is growing white; his face shows traces of experience of more sorts than one, but is very gentle and winning in its expression, both in his welcome, and in the vivid conversation which is called his lecture. He sat at a large table, and we gathered around it with our Testaments and note-books. The subject was the fourth chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews,—the conversation turning mostly, of course, on the "rest" which the people of God enter into. This is not the place for a report of the exposition, at once completely devout and completely transcendental, by which this distinguished theologian lighted up this passage for that cluster of young men. But I may say something of the manner of one so well known and so widely honored among a "present posterity" in America, for his works. He read the chapter through,—with a running commentary at first,—blocking out, as it were, his ground notion of it. This was the first ebauche of his criticism; but you felt after its details without quite finding them. In a word, the impression was precisely the uneasy impression you feel after the first reading of one of his sermons or lectures,—that there is a very grand general conception, but that you do not see how it is going to "fay in" in its respective parts. One of the students intimated some such doubt regarding some of the opening verses,—and there at once appeared enough to show how frank was the relation, in that class at least, between the teacher and the pupils. Then began the real work and the real joy of the evening. Then on the background he had washed in before he began to put in his middle-distance, and at last his foreground, and, last of all, to light up the whole by a set of flashes, which he had reserved, unconsciously, to the close. He dropped his forehead on his hand, worked it nervously with his fingers, as if he were resolved that what was within should serve him, went over the whole chapter in much more detail a second time, held us all charged with his electricity, so that we threw in this, that, or another question or difficulty,—till he fell back yet a third time, and again went through it, weaving the whole together, and making part illustrate part under the light of the comment and illumination which it had received before,—and so, when we read it with him for the fourth and last time, it was no longer a string of beads,—a set of separate verses,—Jewish, antiquated, and fragmentary,—but one vivid illustration of the "peace which passeth all understanding" into which the Christian man may enter.
With this fortunate illustration and exposition of the worth and work of the Working-Men's College my connection with it closed. It seems to me a beautiful monument of the love and energy of its founder. Perhaps we are all best known through our friends, or, as the proverb says, "by the company we keep." Let the reader know Mr. Maurice, then, by remembering that he is the godfather of Tennyson's son,—
"Come, when no graver cares annoy, Godfather, come and see your boy,"—
that Charles Kingsley has a Frederic Maurice among his children,—and that Thomas Hughes has a Maurice also. The last was lost, untimely, from this world, in bathing in the Thames. The magnetism of such a man has united the group of workers who have formed the Working-Men's College. We need not wonder that with such a spirit it succeeds.
EMANCIPATION IN RUSSIA.
Two great nations are peculiarly entitled to be considered modern in their general character, though each is living under ancient institutions. They are the United States and Russia. Neither of these nations is a century old, regarded as a power that largely affects affairs by its action, and into the composition of each there enters a great variety of elements. The United States may be said to date from 1761, just one hundred years ago, when the American debate began on the question of granting Writs of Assistance to the revenue-officers of the crown. The struggle between England and America was then commenced in the chief court of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay, and the Declaration of Independence was but the logical conclusion of the argument of James Otis; but that conclusion would not have established anything, had it not been confirmed by the inexorable logic of cannon. The last resort of kings was then on the side of the people, and gave them the victory. The fifteen years that passed between the time when James Otis spoke in Boston and the time when John Adams spoke in Philadelphia belong properly to our national history, and should be so regarded. The grandson and biographer of John Adams says that Mr. Adams "was attending the court as a member of the bar, and heard, with enthusiastic admiration, the argument of Otis, the effect of which was to place him at the head of that race of orators, statesmen, and patriots, by whose exertions the Revolution of American Independence was achieved. This cause was unquestionably the incipient struggle for that independence. It was to Mr. Adams like the oath of Hamilcar administered to Hannibal. It is doubtful whether Otis himself, or any person of his auditory, perceived or imagined the consequences which were to flow from the principles developed in that argument. For although, in substance, it was nothing more than the question upon the legality of general warrants,—a question by which, when afterward raised in England, in Wilkes's case, Lord Camden himself was taken by surprise, and gave at first an incorrect decision,—yet, in the hands of James Otis, this question involved the whole system of the relations of authority and subjection between the British government and their colonies in America. It involved the principles of the British Constitution, and the whole theory of the social compact and the natural rights of mankind."
In the summer of 1762, about seventeen months after Otis had made his argument, the existence of modern Russia began. Catharine II. then commenced her wonderful reign, having dethroned and murdered her husband, Peter III., the last of the sovereigns of Russia who could make any pretensions to possession of the blood of the Romanoffs. A minor German princess, who originally had no more prospect of becoming Empress-Regnant of Russia than she had of becoming Queen-Regnant of France, Sophia-Augusta of Anhalt-Zerbst was elevated to the throne of the Czars on the 9th of July, 1762; and a week later her miserable husband learned how true was the Italian dogma, that the distance between the prisons of princes and their graves is but short. Catharine II. founded a new dynasty in Russia, and gave to that country the peculiar character which it has ever since borne, and which has enabled it on more than one occasion to decide the fate of Europe, and therefore of the world. Important as were the labors of Peter the Great, it does not appear to admit of a doubt that their force was wellnigh spent when Peter III. ascended the throne; and his conduct indicated the triumph of the old Russian party and policy, as the necessary consequence of his violent feeling in behalf of German influences, ideas, and practices. The Czarina, like those Romans who became more German than the Germans themselves, affected to be fanatically Russian in her sentiments and purposes, and so acquired the power to Europeanize the policy of her empire. She it was who definitely placed the face of Russia to the West, and prepared the way for the entrance of Russian armies into Italy and France, and for the partition of Poland, the ultimate effect of which promises to be the reunion of that country under the sceptre of the Czar. It was the seizure of so much of Poland by Russia that fixed the latter's international character; and it was Catharine II. who destroyed Poland, and added so much of its territory to the dominions of the Czars. After the first partition had been effected, it was no longer in Russia's power to refrain from taking a leading part in European politics; and when her grandson, in 1814, was on the point of making war on England, France, and Austria, rather than abandon the new Polish spoil which he had torn from Napoleon I., he was but carrying out the great policy of the Great Catharine. If we look into the political literature of the last century, we shall find that Peter I.'s action had very little effect in the way of increasing the influence of Russia abroad. His eccentric conduct caused him to be looked upon as a sort of royal wild man of the woods, rather than as a great reformer whose aim it was to elevate his country to an equality with kingdoms that had become old while Russia was ruled by barbarians of the remote East. He was "a self-made man" on a throne, and displayed all the oddities and want of breeding that usually mark the demeanor of persons whose youth has not had the advantages that proceed from good examples and regular instruction. Of the courtly graces, and of those accomplishments which are most valued in courts, he had as many as belong to an ill-conditioned baboon. A railway-car on a cattle-train does not require more cleaning, at the end of a long journey, than did a room in a palace after it had been occupied by Peter and his clever spouse. Some of his best-authenticated acts could not be paralleled outside of a piggery. The Prussian court, one hundred and sixty years since, was not a very nice place, and its members were by no means remarkable for refinement; but they were shocked by the proceedings of the Czar and the Czarina, some of which greatly resembled those which are not uncommon in a very wild "wilderness of monkeys." The last of Peter's descendants who reigned and ruled was his daughter Elizabeth, who died in 1761, and who was a most admirable representative of her admirable parents. Neither the manners nor the morals of the Russian court and the Russian empire had improved during the twenty years that she governed; and as to policy in government, she had none, and apparently she was incapable of comprehending a political principle. Had her reign been followed by that of some Russian prince of kindred character as well as of kindred blood, and had that reign extended to twenty years' time, Russia would have fallen back to the position she had held in 1680, and never could have become a European power. Fortunately or unfortunately,—who shall as yet undertake to decide which, considering as well European interests as Russian interests?—the reign of Peter III. was too short to be worth historical counting, and Elizabeth's real successor was a foreigner, who not only was capable of comprehending Peter the Great's ideas and purpose, but who had the advantage of understanding that world the civilization and vices of which Peter had sought to engraft on the Russian stock. The grand barbarian himself never could understand more than one-half of the work to which he devoted his life, as there was nothing in his nature to which Occidental thought could firmly fasten itself. He knew little of that the effects of which he so much admired. His mind was essentially Oriental in its cast, and the creation of his Northern capital was a piece of work that might have been done by some Eastern despot; and in the preceding century something like it had been done by Shah Jehan, when he created the new city of Delhi. In no European country could such an undertaking have been attempted. It pleased Catharine II., in after-days, to say of Peter, that "he introduced European manners and European costumes amongst a European people"; but this was only a piece of flattery to her subjects, whom she did so much to Europeanize by making them believe that they were of Europe, and were destined to rule that continent. She it was who did what Peter planned, and by making use of Russians as her agents. Her statesmen, her generals, and her "favorites" were Russians; and it was after her character and purposes became known that the rulers of Western Europe were forced to the conclusion that a change of policy was inevitable. But for the occurrence of the French Revolution, that Anglo-French Alliance which has been regarded as one of the prodigies of our prodigy-creating age would have been anticipated by more than sixty years. By destroying Poland and humiliating Turkey, Catharine forever settled the character of the Russian Empire; and her successors were enabled to solidify her work in consequence of the course which events took after the overthrow of the old French monarchy. Russian support was highly bidden for by both those parties in Europe which were headed respectively by France and by England; and it is difficult to decide from which Russia most profited in those days, the friendship of England or the enmity of France. One thing was sufficiently clear,—and that was, that, when the war had been decided in favor of the reactionists, Russia was the greatest power in the world. In the autumn of 1815, a Russian army one hundred and sixty thousand strong was reviewed near Paris, a spectacle that must have caused the sovereigns and statesmen of the West to have some doubts as to the wisdom of their course in paying so very high a price for the overthrow of Napoleon. It was certain that the genie had broken from his confinement, and that, while he towered to the skies, his shadow lay upon the world. The hegemony which Russia held for almost forty years after that date justified the fears which then were expressed by reflecting men. It only remained to be seen whether the Russian sovereigns, proceeding in the spirit that had moved Peter and Catharine, would take those measures by which alone a Russian People could be formed; and to that end, the abolition of serfdom was absolutely necessary: the masses of their subjects, the very population from which their victorious armies were conscribed, being in a certain sense slaves, a state of things that had no parallel in the condition of any European country.[A]
[Footnote A: At what precise time Russia's policy began to influence the action of the European powers it would not be easy to say. Unquestionably, Peter I.'s conduct was not without its effect, and his triumph over Charles XII. makes itself felt even to this day, and it ever will be felt. "Pultowa's day" was one of the grand field-days of history. Sweden had obtained a high place in Europe, in consequence of the grand part she played in the Thirty Years' War, to which contest she contributed the greatest generals, the ablest statesmen, and the best soldiers; and the successes of Charles XII. in the first half of his reign promised to increase the power of that country, which had become great under the rule and direction of Gustavus Adolphus and Oxenstierna. This fair promise was lost with the Battle of Pultowa; and a country that might have successfully resisted Russia, and which, had its greatness continued, could have protected Poland,—if, indeed, Poland could have been threatened, had Russia been unsuccessful at Pultowa,—was thrown into the list of third-rate nations. Poland was virtually given up to Russia through the defeat of Charles XII., just as, a century later, she failed of revival through the defeat of Napoleon I. in his Russian expedition. But the effect of Sweden's defeat was not fully seen until many years after its occurrence. Prussia became alarmed at the progress of Russia at an early day. The War of the Polish Succession was decided by Russian intervention, in 1733. In 1741 Maria Theresa relied on Russia, and in 1746 Russia and the Empress of Germany formed a defensive alliance. The Cotillon Coalition of the Seven Years' War, formed for the destruction of Frederic II., and the parties to which were the Czarina Elizabeth, Maria Theresa, and Madame de Pompadour,—a drunkard, a prude, and a harlot,—brought Russia famously forward in Europe. In the Eighty-Seventh Letter of Goldsmith's Citizen of the World, published a century ago, are some very just and discriminating remarks on "the folly of the Western parts of Europe in employing the Russians to fight their battles," which show that their author was far in advance of his time, and that he foresaw the growth of Russia in importance before she had seized upon Poland. In Catharine II.'s time, the Russian Empire was the object of much adulation from Western envoys, and the English sought to obtain the assistance of the barbarians in the American War, but with not such success as they desired, though they managed to keep our envoy from the court, and to make Russia unfriendly to us. Our diplomatic relations with Russia did not begin until a generation after the Declaration of Independence.]
Thus the United States and Russia began their careers at the same time, as nations destined to have influence in the ordering of Western life. They were then, as they are now, very unlike to each other. In one respect only was there any resemblance between them: In this country there were some myriads of slaves, and in Russia there were many millions of serfs. Now who, of all the sagacious, far-sighted men then living, could have ventured to predict that at the end of one hundred years the American nation that was so soon to be should be engaged in a civil contest having for its object, on the part of those who began it, the perpetuation and extension of slavery, while Russia should be threatened with such a contest because her government, an autocracy, had abolished serfdom? Many years earlier, Berkeley had predicted that Time's last and noblest offspring would be the nation that was growing up in North America; and when he died, in 1753, he would not have admitted that slavery was an institution which his favorite land could hug to its bosom, or that America would be less benevolent than that semi-barbarous empire which was rising in the East,—an empire, to use his own thought, which Europe was breeding in her decay. Franklin was then at the height of his fame as a philosopher, and his merits as a statesman were beginning to be acknowledged; but, wise as he was, he would have smiled, had there been a prophet capable of telling him the exact truth as to the future of America. Probably there was not a person then on earth who could have supposed that that would be which was written in the Book of Fate. That freedom should come to a people from a despot's throne was almost as hard to understand as that the rankest kind of despotism should rise up from among a people the most boastful of their liberty that ever existed. There are, unhappily, but too many instances of free nations that have behaved oppressively. The first African slaves that were brought into the territory of the American nation came under the flag of a people who had most heroically struggled for their rights, and the recollection of whose efforts has been revived by the brilliant labors of the most accomplished of living American historians. The Greeks, who had so much to say about their own liberty, believed that they had the right to enslave all other men; and the Romans, who sometimes talked as if they had a Fourth of July of their own, assumed that it was in the power of society to enslave any race whose services its members required. The slaves of free peoples have generally fared worse than the slaves of men themselves despotically governed. Thus there is nothing so very strange in the conduct of those Americans who, concerned for their "right" to trade in black humanity, and to live on the sweat of black humanity's brows. That which is strange in the condition of the world is the contrast which is furnished to the action of our Southern population by the action of the rulers of Russia. Since American democrats have endeavored to show that no such contrast exists,—that between the enslavement of black men and the granting of freedom to white men there is a close resemblance,—and that the two proceedings are one in fact, how much soever they may differ in name; that it is not because he is an enemy of slavery, as it is here understood, that the Czar has become an emancipationist, but because he is hostile to the slavery of white men,—that, were the Russian serfs as dark as American slaves, his heart would have remained as hard toward them as that of Pharaoh toward the Israelites when the plague-pressure was temporarily removed from his people,—that he would as soon have thought of washing the Ethiopian white with his own imperial hands as of conferring freedom upon this race. Such is the theory of those of our democrats who would still maintain their regard for the Czar and their worship of Czarism. Alexander has not, they aver, been so bad as the Abolitionists have drawn him. Like another illustrious personage, he is not half so black as he is painted. Nay, he is not black at all. He worships the white theory, and might run for the Montgomery Congress in South Carolina without any danger of being numbered among the victims of Lynch-law. Other democrats are not so well disposed toward the Czar, their feelings respecting him having changed as completely as did those of certain earlier democrats in regard to Mr. O'Connell, when the great Irishman denounced slavery in America. It is a sore subject with our pro-slavery people, this faithlessness of Russia to the cause of human oppression. How they sympathized with her in the war with the Western powers, and prophesied the defeat of the Allies in the Crimea, is well remembered; but when the new Czar announced his purpose to abolish serfdom, they, as Lord Castlereagh would have said, "turned their backs upon themselves," and could see no good in the great Northern Empire. Russia as the great revolution-queller, reading the Riot Act to the liberals of Europe, and sending one hundred and fifty thousand men to "crush out" the nationality of Hungary, and to revivify the power of Austria, was to them an object of reverence; but Russia the liberator of serfs, and the backer of France in the Italian War, became an object of hate and fear. Nicholas might have patronized our Secessionists, for he was partial to rebels who supported his opinions; but his son can have no sympathy with men whose every act is a condemnation of those principles which govern his conduct as a Russian ruler,—though in his bearing toward Poland and others of the conquered portions of his empire he may prove himself no more lenient than Mr. Jefferson Davis would toward a Northern State that had declared itself independent of Southern supremacy, could he "subdue" it.
It would, however, be most unjust so to speak of Russian serfdom as to convey the impression that it ever was quite so bad as American slavery is. It is the peculiarity of American slavery, that it has no redeeming features. Long before it had become so odious as we see it, and before its existence was found incompatible with the peaceful prevalence of a constitutional system of government, its character was emphatically summed up in a few words by a great man, who called it "the sum of all villanies." Time has not improved its character, but has made the institution worse, by extending the effect of its operations. The political character which American slavery has had ever since the formation of the Constitution has not only stood in the way of every emancipation project, but it has made slaveholders, and men who have sought political preferment through working on the prejudices of slaveholders, supporters of the institution on grounds that have had no existence in other countries; and the contest in which this country is now involved is the natural effect of the more rapid growth of the Free States in everything that leads to political power in modern times. Had the Slave States in 1860 been found relatively as strong as they were in 1840, the Secession movement could not have occurred; for most of the men who lead in it would have preferred to rule the United States, and would have cared little for the defeat of any political party, confident as they would have been in their capacity to control all American parties. As slavery is the foundation of political power in this country, its friends cannot abandon their ideas without abdicating their position. Hence the fierceness with which they have put forth, and advocated with all their strength, opinions that never were held by any other class of man-owners, and which would have been scouted in Barbary even in those days when religious animosity added additional venom to the feelings of the Mussulmans toward their Christian captives, and when Spain and Italy were Africa's Africa. The slave population of the United Slates are forbidden to hope. They form a doomed race, the physical peculiarities of which are forever to keep them out of the list of the elect. They are slaves, they and their ancestors always have been slaves, and they and their descendants always must be slaves. Such is the Southern theory, and the practice under it does that theory no violence. In Russia the condition of the enslaved has never been so bad as this, nor anything like it. Between the slave and the serf the difference has been almost as great as that between the serf and the free citizen.
Nothing certain is known as to the origin of Russian serfage. Able men have found the institution existing in very early times; and other men, of not less ability, and well acquainted with Russian history, are confident that it is a modern institution. Count Gurowski, whose authority on such a point he ought to be a very bold man to question, says,—"In Russia, slavery dates, with the utmost probability, since the introduction of the Northmen, originating with prisoners of war, and being established over conquered tribes of no Slavic descent. This was done when Rurik and his successors descended the Dwina, the Dnieper, and established there new dominions. In the course of time, the conquerors cleared the forests, established villages and cities. As, in other feudal countries, the tower, the Schloss, was outside of the village or of the borough,—so was In Russia the dwor or manor, where the conqueror or master dwelt,—and from which was derived his name of dworianin. That the genuine Russian of that time, whatever may have been his social position, was free in his village, is beyond doubt,—as, according to old records, the boroughs and villages, dependencies of the manor, were settled principally with prisoners of war and the conquered population. It was during the centuries of the Tartar dominion that the people, the peasantry, became nailed to the soil, and deprived of the right of freely changing their domicile. Then successively every peasant, that is, every agriculturist tilling the soil with his own hands, became enslaved. Only in estates owned by monasteries and convents, which were very numerous and generally very rich, slavery being judged to be opposed to Christian doctrine, it did not take root at once. Generally, monks were reluctant to the utmost, and even directly opposed to the sale of men in the markets, and the dependants of a monastery were never sold in such a manner." The common view is, that Borys Gudenoff, who reigned at the beginning of the seventeenth century, established serfage age in Russia; but though the exact character of his legislation is yet in dispute, it is obvious that no Czar, and least of all one situated as was Borys, could have enslaved a people. His legislation is involved in as much doubt as for a long time were the Sempronian Laws of Rome. If we could believe that he instituted the system of serfage, or seriously strengthened it, we should find that Russian slavery came into existence but a few years before American slavery; but such a "coincidence" cannot be rigidly insisted upon. It would, however, we think, be difficult to show that the condition of the Russian laboring classes was not made worse by the action of the usurper.
Peter the Great was so affected by the circumstance that men and women and children could be sold like cattle, as American slaves now are, that he sought to put a stop to the infamous traffic, but without success. Catharine II. was a philosopher, and a patron of that eighteenth-century philosophy which so largely favored human rights, and she regretted the existence of serfage; but, in spite of this regret, and of some sentimental efforts toward emancipation, she strengthened the system of slavery under which so great a majority of her subjects lived. She gave peasants to her "favorites," and to others whom she wished to reward or to bribe. The brothers Orloff are said to have received forty-five thousand peasants from her, being in part payment for what was done by their family in setting up the new Russian dynasty founded by the German princess. Potemkin received myriads of peasants. Some outrageous abuses were practised by wealthy landholders, in consequence of the Czarina having proclaimed that the laborers in Little Russia should belong to the soil on which they were at that date employed. Thousands of persons were entrapped into serfdom through a measure which the sovereign had intended should lessen the evils of that institution. Catharine's authority was never but once seriously disputed at home, and that was by the rebellion of Pugatscheff, which is sometimes spoken of as an outbreak against serfdom, which it was not in any proper sense, though the abuses of the owners of serfs may have contributed to swell the ranks of the pretender,—Pugatscheff calling himself Peter III. The Czar Paul would not allow serfs to be sold apart from the soil to which they belonged. It is a curious incident, that, when Paul restored Kosciusko to liberty, he offered to give him a number of Russian peasants. The Polish patriot had no hesitation in refusing to accept the Emperor's offer, for which, in these times, there are Americans who think he was a fool; but in 1797 certain lights had not been vouchsafed to the American mind, that have since led some of our countrymen to become champions of the cause of darkness.
Alexander, whose reign began in 1801, was moved by a sincere desire to get rid of serfdom. Schnitzler says that he "solemnly declared that he would not endure the habit of making grants of peasants, a practice hitherto common with the autocrats, and forbade the announcement in public papers of the sales of human beings,"—and that "he permitted his nobles to sell to their serfs, together with their personal liberty, portions of land, which should thus become the bona fide property of the serf purchaser. This was a most important act; for Alexander thus laid the basis of a class of free cultivators." A public man having requested an estate with its serfs as hereditary possessions, the Czar replied as follows:—"The peasants of Russia are for the most part slaves. I need not expatiate upon the degradation or the misfortune of such a condition. Accordingly, I have made a vow not to augment the number; and to this end I have laid down the principle, that I will not give away peasants as property." The Czar was determined to go farther than this. Not only would he not increase the number of the serfs, but he would lessen their number. The serfs of Esthonia were first favored, their emancipation beginning in 1802, and being completed in 1816, the year in which Alexander may be regarded as having been at the height of his greatness, for he had completed the overthrow of Napoleon, and had seen France saved from partition through his influence and exertions. The Courland serfs were emancipated in 1817. Two years later, the nobles of Livonia formed a plan of emancipation in their country, and when they submitted it to the Czar, his answer was,—"I am delighted to see that the nobility of Livonia have fulfilled my expectations. You have set an example that ought to be imitated. You have acted in the spirit of our age, and have felt that liberal principles alone can form the basis of the people's happiness." So long as Alexander remained true to liberal principles himself, there was some hope that he might abolish serfdom throughout his dominions. He abhorred the "peculiar institution" of his empire with all the force of a mind that certainly was generous, and which had a strong bias in the direction of justice. Once he made a solemn religious vow that he would abolish it. It is probable that he would have made an attempt at complete emancipation, if the circumstances of his time and his country had enabled him to concentrate his thoughts and his labors upon domestic affairs. Unhappily for Russia, and for the Czar's fame, he was soon drawn into the European vortex, and became one of the principal actors in the grand drama of that age, so that Russian interests were sacrificed to ambition, to the love of military glory, and to the Czar's desire to become Don Quixote with an imperial crown and sceptre. He wished to reconstruct the map of Europe, which had been so terribly deranged by those terrible map-destroyers and map-makers, the French republicans. Catharine II. had had the sense to keep out of the war that had been waged against France, though no person in Europe—not even George III. himself—hated the revolutionists more intensely. She wished to see them subdued, but she preferred that the work of subjugation should be done by others, so that she might be at liberty to pursue her designs against Poland and Turkey and Persia. The destruction of Poland she completed, but she was called away before she could conquer the followers of Omar and of Ali. Paul was a party to the second coalition against France, and his armies tore Italy from its conquerors, and but for the stupidity of Austria there might have been a Russian restoration of the Bourbons in 1709. Alexander resumed the policy which his father had adopted only to discard, and though at one period of his reign he appeared well inclined to Napoleon, there never was any sincerity in the alliance between the two masters of so many millions. The Czar was easily induced to favor the strange scheme of an Italian adventurer for the rehabilitation of Europe, which had been adopted by his friend and counsellor, the Prince Czartoryski, and which ultimately furnished the basis, and many of the details, of that pacification which was effected in 1815. We have seen the treaties of that memorable year torn to tatters by Napoleon III., but the adoption of Piatoli's project by Alexander affected the last generation as intimately as the French Emperor's conduct has affected the men of to-day. It led the Czar away from his original purpose, and converted him, from a benevolent ruler, into a harsh, suspicious, unfeeling despot. There could be nothing done for Russian serfs while their sovereign was crusading it for the benefit of the Bourbons in particular and of legitimacy in general. "God is in heaven, and the Czar is afar off!" words once common with the suffering serfs, were of peculiar force when the Czar, who believed himself to be the chosen instrument of Heaven, was at Paris or Vienna, laboring for the settlement of Europe according to ideas adopted in the early years of his reign. Napoleonism and Liberalism were the same thing in the mind of Alexander, and he finally came to regard serfdom itself as something that should not be touched. It was a stone in that social edifice which he was determined to maintain at all hazards. The plan of emancipation had worked well in the outlying Baltic provinces, where there were few or no Russians, but he discouraged its application to other portions of his dominions. Some of his greatest nobles were anxious to take the lead as emancipationists, but he would not allow them to proceed in the only way that promised success, and so the bondage system was continued with the approbation of the Czar. In his last years, Alexander, though still quite a young man,—he was but forty-eight when he died,—was the most determined enemy of liberty in Europe or Asia.
The Emperor Nicholas began his remarkable reign with the desire strong in his mind to emancipate the serfs,—or, if that be too sweeping an expression, so to improve their condition as to render their emancipation by his successors a comparatively easy proceeding. Much of his legislation shows this, and that he was aware that the time must come when the serfs could no longer be deprived of their freedom. Such was the effect of his conduct, however, that all that he did in behalf of the serfs was attributed to a desire on his part to create ill-feeling between the nobility and the peasants. Then he was so thoroughly arbitrary in his disposition, that he often neutralized the good he did by his manner of doing it. But that which mainly prevented him from doing much for his people was his determination to maintain the position which Russia had acquired in Europe, and to maintain it, too, in the interest of despotism, "pure and simple." A succession of events caused the Czar's attention to be drawn to foreign affairs. The French Revolution of 1830, the Polish Revolution of the same year, the troubles in Germany, the Reform contest in England, the change in the order of the Spanish succession, the outbreaks in Italy,—these things, and others of a similar character, all of which were protests against that European system which Russia had established and still favored, compelled Nicholas to look abroad, and to neglect, measurably, domestic government. At a later period, he was one of the parties to that combination of great powers which threatened France with a renewal of those invasions from which she had suffered so much in 1814 and 1815. Turkey was the source of perpetual trouble to the Czar; and his eyes were frequently drawn to India, where one of his envoys half threatened an English minister that the troops of their two countries might meet, and was curtly answered by the minister that he cared not how soon the interview should begin. The extinction of Cracow served to show how close was the watch which the Czar kept upon the West, and that he was ready to crush even the smallest of those countries in which the spirit of liberty should show itself. Had San Marino lain within his reach, he would have been induced neither by its weakness nor its age to spare it. The struggle with the Circassians was long, vexatious, and costly. Finally, the Revolutions of 1848, leading, as they did, to the invasion of Hungary, in the first place, and then to the war with the Western Powers, operated to prejudice the Imperial mind against every form of freedom, and to provide too much occupation for the Emperor and his ministers to permit them to labor with care and effect in behalf of the oppressed serfs at home. It would have been a strange spectacle, had the man who was trampling down the Hungarians employed his leisure in raising his own serfs from the dust.