None dares but one—the race is rare— One free and honest man: Truth is a dangerous thing to say Amid the lies that haunt the day; But He hath lent it voice; and, lo! From heart to heart the fire shall go, Instinctive without plan; Proud bishops with a lordly train, Fierce cardinals with high disdain, Sleek chamberlains with smooth discourse, And wrangling doctors all shall force, In vain, one honest man.
In vain the foolish Pope shall fret, It is a sober thing. Thou sounding trifler, cease to rave, Loudly to damn, and loudly save, And sweep with mimic thunders' swell Armies of honest souls to hell! The time on whirring wing Hath fled when this prevail'd. O, Heaven! One hour, one little hour, is given, If thou could'st but repent. But no! To ruin thou shalt headlong go, A doom'd and blasted thing.
Thy parchment ban comes forth; and lo! Men heed it not, thou fool! Nay, from the learned city's gate, In solemn show, in pomp of state, The watchmen of the truth come forth, The burghers old of sterling worth, And students of the school: And he who should have felt thy ban Walks like a prophet in the van; He hath a calm indignant look, Beneath his arm he bears a book, And in his hand the Bull.
He halts; and in the middle space Bids pile a blazing fire. The flame ascends with crackling glee; Then, with firm step advancing, He Gives to the wild fire's wasting rule The false Decretals, and the Bull, While thus he vents his ire:— "Because the Holy One o' the Lord Thou vexed hast with impious word, Therefore the Lord shall thee consume, And thou shalt share the Devil's doom In everlasting fire!"
He said; and rose the echo round "In everlasting fire!" The hearts of men were free; one word Their inner depths of soul had stirr'd; Erect before their God they stood A truth-shod Christian brotherhood, And wing'd with high desire. And ever with the circling flame Uprose anew the blithe acclaim:— "The righteous Lord shall thee consume, And thou shalt share the Devil's doom In everlasting fire!"
Thus the brave German men; and we Shall echo back the cry; The burning of that parchment scroll Annull'd the bond that sold the soul Of man to man; each brother now Only to one great Lord will bow, One Father-God on high. And though with fits of lingering life The wounded foe prolong the strife, On Luther's deed we build our hope, Our steady faith—the fond old Pope Is dying, and shall die.
TRADITIONS AND TALES OF UPPER LUSATIA.
THE FAIRY TUTOR.
You have seen—and 'tis no longer ago than YESTERDAY!—you must well remember the picture—which showed you from the rough yet delicate—the humorous yet sympathetic and picturesque—the original yet insinuating pencil of a shrewd and hearty Lusatian mountaineer—the aerial, brilliant, sensitive, subtle, fascinating, enigmatical, outwardly—mirth-given, inwardly—sorrow-touched, congregated folk numberless—of the Fairies Proper!—showed them at the urgency of a rare and strange need—clung, in DEPENDENCY, to one fair, kind, good and happily-born Daughter of Man!—And what wonder?—The once glorious, but now forlorn spirits, leaning for one fate-burthened instant their trust upon the spirits ineffably favoured!—What wonder! that often as the revolution of ages brings on the appointed hour, the rebellious and outcast children of heaven must sue—to their keen emergency—help—oh! speak up to the height of the want, of the succour! and call it a lent ray of grace, from the rebellious and REDEEMED children of the earth!—And see, where, in the serene eyes of the soft Christian maiden, the hallowing influence shines!—Auspiciously begun, the awed though aspiring Rite, the still, the multitudinous, the mystical, prospers!—Gratefully, as for the boon inexpressibly worth—easily, as of their own transcending power—promptly, as though fearing that a benefit received could wax cold, the joyful Elves crown upon the bright hair of their graciously natured, but humanly and womanly weak benefactress—the wedded felicity of pure love!
And the imaginary curtain has dropped! Lo, where it rises again, discovering to view our stage, greatly changed, and, a little perhaps, our actors!—Once more, attaching to the HUMAN DRAMA, slight, as though it were structured of cloud, of air, the same light and radiant MACHINERY! Once more, only that They, whom you lately saw tranquil, earnest even to pathos—"now are frolic"—enough and to spare!—Once more—THE FAIRIES.
And see, too—where, centring in herself interest and action of the rapidly shifting scenery—ever again a beautiful granddaughter of Eve steps—free and fearless, and bouyant and bounding—our fancy-laid boards!—Ah! but how much unresembling the sweet maid!—Outwardly, for lofty-piled is the roof that ceils over the superb head of the modern Amazon, Swanhilda—more unlike within. Instead of the clear truth, the soul's gentle purity, the "plain and holy Innocence" of the poor fairy-beloved mountain child—SHE, in whose person and fortunes you are invited—for the next fifty minutes—to forget your own—harbours, fondly harbours, ill housemates of her virginal breast! a small, resolute, well-armed and well confederated garrison of unwomanly faults. Pride is there!—The iron-hard and the iron-cold! There Scorn—edging repulse with insult!—and envenoming insult with despair!—leaps up, in eager answer to the beseeching sighs, tears, and groans of earth-bent Adoration. And there is the indulged Insolency of a domineering—and as you will precipitately augur—an indomitable Will! And there is exuberant SELF-POWER, that, from the innermost mind, oozing up, out, distilling, circulating along nerve and vein, effects a magical metamorphosis! turns the nymph into a squire of arms; usurping even the clamorous and blood-sprinkled joy of man—the tempestuous and terrible CHASE, which, in the bosom of peace, imaging war, shows in the rougher lord of creation himself, as harsh, wild, and turbulent! Oh, how much other than yon sweet lily of the high Lusatian valleys, the shade-loving Flower, the good Maud—herself looked upon with love by the glad eyes of men, women, children, Fairies, and Angels! oh, other indeed! And yet, have you, in this thickly clustered enumeration of unamiable qualities, implicitly heard the CALL which must fasten, which has fastened, upon the gentle Maud's haughty antithesis—the serviceable regard, and—the FAVOUR, even of THE FAIRIES.
Hear, impatient spectator, the simple plot and its brief process. You are, after a fashion, informed with what studious, persevering, and unmerciful violation of all gentle decorum and feminine pity, the lovely marble-souled tyranness has, in the course of the last three or four years, turned back from her beetle-browed castle-gate, one by one, as they showed themselves there—a hundred, all worthily born—otherwise more and less meritorious—petitioners for that whip-and-javelin-bearing hand. You are NOW to know, that upon this very morning, an embassy from the willow-wearers all—or, to speak indeed more germanely to the matter, of the BASKET-BEARERS, waited upon their beautiful enemy with an ultimatum and manifesto in one, importing first a requisition to surrender; then, in case of refusal to capitulate, the announcement that HYMEN having found in CUPID an inefficient ally, he was about associating with himself, in league offensive, the god MARS, with intent of carrying the Maiden-fortress by storm, and reducing the aforesaid wild occupants of the stronghold into captivity—whereunto she made answer—
——our castle's strength Will laugh a siege to scorn—
herself laughing outrageously to scorn the senders and the sent This crowning of wrong upon wrong will the Fairies, in the first place, wreak and right.
[Footnote 22: To German ears—to SEND A BASKET—is to REFUSE A PROPOSAL OF MARRIAGE.]
But further, later upon the same unlucky day, the Kingdom of Elves, being in full council assembled in the broad light of the sun, upon the fair greensward; ere the very numerous, but not widely sitting diet had yet well opened its proceedings—"tramp, tramp, across the land," came, flying at full speed, boar-spear in hand, our madcap huntress; and without other note of preparation sounded than their own thunder, her iron-grey's hoofs were in the thick of the sage assembly, causing an indecorous trepidation, combined with devastation dire to persons and—wearing apparel.
This wrong, in the second place, the Fairies will wreak and right.
And all transgression and injury, under one procedure, which is—summary; as, from the character of the judges and executioners, into whose hands the sinner has fallen, you would expect; sufficiently prankish too. With one sleight of their magical hand they turn the impoverished heiress of ill-possessed acres forth upon the highway, doomed to earn, with strenuous manual industry, her livelihood; until, from the winnings of her handicraft, she is moreover able to make good, as far as this was liable to pecuniary assessment, the damage sustained under foot of her fiery barb by the Fairy realm; comfort with handsome presents the rejected suitors; and until, thoroughly tame, she yields into her softened and opened bosom, now rid of its intemperate inmates, an entrance to the once debarred and contemned visitant—LOVE.
As to the way and style of the Fairy operations that carry out this drift, comparing the Two Tales, you will see, that omitting, as a matter that is related merely, not presented, that misadventure under the oak-tree—there is, in the chamber of Swanhilda, but a Fairy delegation active, whilst under the Sun's hill whole Elfdom is in presence; in that resplendent hollow, wearing their own lovely shapes; within the German castle-walls, in apt masquerade. There they were grave. Here, we have already said, that they are merry. There their office was to feel and to think. Here, if there be any trust in apparitions, they drink, and what is more critical for an Elfin lip—they eat!
Lastly, to end the comparisons for our well-bred, well-dressed, and right courtly cavalier, who transacted between the Fairy Queen and the stonemason's daughter, him you shall presently see turned into a sort of Elfin cupbearer or court butler; not without fairy grace of person and of mind assuredly; not without a due innate sense of the beautiful, as his perfumed name (SWEETFLOWER) at the outset warns you; and, as the proximity of his function to her Majesty's person—for we do not here fall in with any thing like mention of a king—would suggest, independently of the delicately responsible part borne by him in the action, the chief stress of which you will find incumbent upon his capable shoulders.
Such, in respect of the subject, is, thrice courteous and intelligent reader, the second piece of art, which we are glad to have the opportunity of placing before you, from our clever friend Ernst Willkomm's apparently right fertile easel. The second, answering to the first, LIKE and UNLIKE, you perceive, as two companion pictures should be.
But it would be worse than useless to tell you that which you have seen and that which you will see, unless, from the juxtaposition of the two fables, there followed—a moral. They have, as we apprehend, a moral—i.e. one moral, and that a grave one, in common between them.
Hitherto we have superficially compared THE FAIRIES' SABBATH and the FAIRY TUTOR. We now wish to develope a profounder analogy connecting them. We have compared them, as if ESTHETICALLY; we would now compare them MYTHOLOGICALLY—for, in our understanding, there lies at the very foundation of both tales A MYTHOLOGICAL ROOT—by whomsoever set, whether by Ernst Willkomm to-day, or by the population of the Lusatian mountains—three, six, ten centuries ago; or, in unreckoned antiquity, by the common Ancestors of the believers, who, in still unmeasured antiquity, brought the superstition of the Fairies out of central Asia to remote occidental Europe.
This ROOT we are bold to think is—"A DEEPLY SEATED ATTRACTION, ALLYING THE FAIRY MIND TO THE PURITY AND INTEGRITY OF THE MORAL WILL IN THE MIND OF MEN." And first for the Tale which presently concerns us:—THE FAIRY TUTOR.
SWEETFLOWER will beguile us into believing that the interposition of the Fairies in our Baroness's domestic arrangements, grows up, if one shall so hazardously speak, from TWO seeds, each bearing two branches—namely, from two wrongs, the one hitting, the other striking from, themselves—BOTH which wrongs they will AVENGE and AMEND. We take up a strenuous theory; and we deny—and we defy—SWEETFLOWER. Nay, more! Should our excellent friend, ERNST WILLKOMM, be found taking part, real or apparent, with SWEETFLOWER, we defy and we deny Ernst Willkomm. For in this mixed case of the Fairy wrong, we distinguish, first, INJURIES which shall be retaliated, and, as far as may be, compensated; and secondly, a SHREW, who is to be turned into a WIFE, being previously turned out of a shrew.
We dare to believe that this last-mentioned end is the thing uppermost, and undermost, and middlemost in the mind of the Fairies; is, in fact, the true and the sole final cause of all their proceedings.
Or that the moral heart of the poem—that root in the human breast and will, from which every true poem springs heavenward—is here the zeal of the spirits for morally reforming Swanhilda; is, therefore, that deep-seated attraction, which, as we have averred, essentially allies the inclination of the Fairies to the moral conscience in our own kind.
One end, therefore, grounds the whole story, although two and more are proposed by Sweetflower. It is one that satisfies the moral reason in man; for it is no less than to cleanse and heal the will, wounded with error, of a human creature. That other, which he displays, with mock emphasis, of restitution to the downtrodden fairyhood, is an exotic, fair and slight bud, grafted into the sturdier indigenous stock. For let us fix but a steady look upon the thing itself, and what is there before us? a whim, a trick of the fancy, tickling the fancy. We are amused with a quaint calamity—a panic of caps and cloaks. We laugh—we cannot help it—as the pigmy assembly flies a thousand ways at once—grave councillors and all—throwing terrified somersets—hiding under stones, roots—diving into coney-burrows—"any where—any where"—vanishing out of harm's—if not out of dismay's—reach. In a tale of the Fairies, THE FANCY rules:—and the interest of such a misfortune, definite and not infinite, is congenial to the spirit of the gay faculty which hovers over, lives upon surfaces, and which flees abysses; which thence, likewise, in the moral sphere, is equal to apprehending resentment of a personal wrong, and a judicial assessment of damages—but NOT A DISINTERESTED MORAL END.
What is our conclusion then? plainly that the dolorous overthrow of the fairy divan is no better than an invention—the device of an esthetical artist. We hold that Ernst Willkomm has gratuitously bestowed upon us the disastrous catastrophe; that he has done this, knowing the obligation which lies upon Fancy within her own chosen domain to create, because—there, Fancy listens and reads. The adroit Fairy delineator must wile over and reconcile the most sportive, capricious, and self-willed spirit of our understanding, to accept a purpose foreign to that spirit's habitual sympathies—a purpose solemn and austere—THE MORAL PURPOSE OF RESCUING A SIN-ENTANGLED HUMAN SOUL.
Or, if Ernst Willkomm shall guarantee to us, that the reminiscences of his people have furnished him with the materials of this tale; if he is, as we must needs hope, who have freely dealt with you to believe that he is—honest: honest both as to the general character, and the particular facts of his representations—if, in short, the Lusatian Highlanders do, sitting by the bench and the stove, aver and protest that the said Swanhilda did overturn both council-board and councillors—then we say, upon this occasion, that which we must all, hundreds of times, declare—namely, that The Genius of Tradition is the foremost of artists; and further, that in this instance an unwilled fiction, determined by a necessity of the human bosom, has risen up to mantle seriousness with grace, as a free woodbine enclasps with her slender-gadding twines, and bedecks with her sweet bright blossoms, a towering giant of the grove.
It will perhaps be objected, that the moral purity and goodness that are so powerful to draw to themselves the regard and care of the spiritual people, are wanting in the character of the over-bold Swanhilda. We have said that her faults are the CALL to the Fairies for help and reformation: but we may likewise guess that Virtue and Truth first won their love. It must be recollected that the faults which are extirpated from the breast of our heroine, are not such as, in our natural understanding of humanity, dishonour or sully. Taken away, the character may stand clear. It is quite possible that this gone, there shall be left behind a kind, good, affectionate, generous, noble nature.
We are free, or, more properly speaking, we are bound to believe, that thus the Fairies left Swanhilda.
As for Maud, we know—for she was told—that the Fairies loved her for herself ere they needed her aid. Hanging as it were upon that wondrous power to help which dwelt within her—her simple goodness—may we not say that the Fairies discover an ENFORCED attraction, when they afterwards approach the maiden for their own succour and salvation; as they do, a FREE attraction, when, in the person of Swanhilda, they disinterestedly attach themselves to reforming a fault for the welfare and happiness of her whom it aggrieves?
* * * * *
We will now proceed, as in our former communication, to adduce instances from other quarters, confirming the fairy delineations offered by our tale; or which may tend generally to bring out its mythological and literary character.
Two points would suggest themselves to us in the tale of the Fairy Tutor, as chiefly provoking comparison. The first is:—The affirmed Presidency of the Fairies over human morals, viewed as a Shape of the Interest which they take in the uprightness and purity of the human will.
The second is:—
The Manner and Style of their operations: or, THE FAIRY WAYS. In which we chiefly distinguish—1, The active presence of the Sprites in a human habitation. 2, Their masquerading. 3, Their dispatch of human victuals. 4, The liability of Elfin limbs to human casualties. 5, The personality of that saucy Puck, our tiny ambassador elf.
We are at once tempted and restrained by the richness of illustration, which presents itself under all these heads. The necessity of limitation is, however, imperious. This, and a wish for simplicity, dispose us to throw all under one more comprehensive title.
Perhaps the reader has not entirely forgotten that in the remarks introductory to THE FAIRIES' SABBATH, having launched the question—what is a Fairy?—we offered him in the way of answer, eight elements of the Fairy Nature. Has he quite forgotten that for one of these—it was the third—we represented the Spirit under examination, as ONE WHICH AT ONCE SEEKS AND SHUNS MANKIND?
The cursory treatment of this Elfin criterion will now compendiously place before the reader, as much illustration of the two above-given heads as we dare impose upon him.
The popular Traditions of entire Western Europe variously attest for all the kinds of the Fairies, and for some orders of Spirits partaking of the Fairy character, the singularly composed, and almost self-contradictory traits of a seeking implicated and attempered with a shunning; of a shunning with a seeking. The inclination of our Quest will be to evidences of the seeking. The shunning will, it need not be doubted, take good care of itself.
The attraction of the Fairy Species towards our own is,
1. Recognised—in their GENERIC DESIGNATIONS. 2. Apparent—in their GOOD NEIGHBOURHOOD with us. 3. IN THEIR FREQUENTING AND ESTABLISHING THEMSELVES in the places of our habitual occupancy and resort. 4. IN THEIR CALLING OR CARRYING US into the places of their Occupancy and Resort; whether to return hither, or to remain there. 5. BY THEIR ALIGHTING UPON THE PATH, worn already with some blithe or some weary steps, OF A HUMAN DESTINY;—as friendly, or as unfriendly Genii.
We collect the proofs: and—
1. Of their GENERIC APPELLATIVES, a Word!
One is tempted to say that THE NATIONS, as if conscious of the kindly disposition inhering in the spiritual existences toward ourselves, have simultaneously agreed in conferring upon them titles of endearment and affection. The brothers Grimm write—"In Scotland they [The Fairies] are called The Good People, Good Neighbours, Men of Peace; in Wales—The Family, The Blessing of their Mothers, The Dear Ladies; in the old Norse, and to this day in the Faroe islands, Huldufolk (The Gracious People;) in Norway, Huldre; and, in conformity with these denominations, discover a striving to be in the proximity of men, and to keep up a good understanding with them."
[Footnote 23: May we for HULDRE read HULDREFOLK; and understand the following, or the Folk of HULDRE? Huldre means the Gracious Lady: she is a sort of Danish and Norwegian Fairy-Queen.—See GRIMM'S German Mythology, p. 168. First edition.]
[Footnote 24: The Brothers GRIMM: Introduction to the Irish Fairy Tales.]
2. THIS GOOD NEIGHBOURHOOD, to which these last words point, is interestingly depicted by the Traditions.
In Scotland and Germany the Fairies plant their habitation adjoining that of man—"under the threshold"—and in such attached Fairies an alliance is unfolded with us of a most extraordinary kind. "The closest connexion" (id est, of the Fairy species with our own) "is expressed," say the Brothers Grimm, "by the tradition, agreeably to which the family of the Fairies ORDERED ITSELF ENTIRELY AFTER THE HUMAN to which it belonged; and OF WHICH IT WAS AS IF A COPY. These domestic Fairies kept their marriages upon the same day as the Human Beings; their children were born upon the same day; and upon the same day they wailed for their dead."
[Footnote 25: The Brothers GRIMM: Introduction to the Irish Fairy Tales.]
Two artlessly sweet breathings of Elfin Table, from the Helvetian Dales, lately revived to your fancy the sinless—blissful years, when gods with men set fellowing steps upon one and the same fragrant and unpolluted sward, until transgression, exiling those to their own celestial abodes, left these lonely—a nearer, dearer, BARBARIAN Golden Age—wherein the kindly Dwarf nation stand representing the great deities of Olympus.
[Footnote 26: See The Dwarfs upon the Maple-Tree, and The Dwarfs upon the Crag-Stone, in the former paper.]
The healthful pure air fans restoration again to us. We lay before you—
No. CXLIX The Dwarfs' Feet.
"In old times the men dwelt in the valley, and round about them, in caves and clefts of the rock, the Dwarfs, in amity and good neighbourhood with the people, for whom they performed by night many a heavy labour. When the country folk, betimes in the morning, came with wains and implements, and wondered that all was ready done, the Dwarfs were hiding in the bushes, and laughed out loud. Frequently the peasants were angry when they saw their yet hardly ripe corn lying reaped upon the field; but when presently after hail and storm came on, and they could well know that probably not a stalk should have escaped perishing, they were then heartily thankful to the provident Dwarfs. At last, however, the inhabitants, by their sin, fooled away the grace and favour of the Dwarfs. These fled, and since then has no eye ever again beheld them. The cause was this following:—A herdsman had upon the mountain an excellent cherry-tree. One summer, as the fruit grew ripe, it befell that the tree was, for three following nights, picked, and the fruit carried, and fairly spread out in the loft, in which the herdsman had use to keep his cherries. The people said in the village, that doth no one other than the honest dwarflings—they come tripping along by night, in long mantles, with covered feet, softly as birds, and perform diligently for men the work of the day. Already often have they been privily watched, but one may not interrupt them, only let them, come and go at their listing. By such speeches was the herdsman made curious, and would fain have wist wherefore the Dwarfs hid so carefully their feet, and whether these were otherwise shapen than men's feet. When, therefore, the next year, summer again came, and the season that the Dwarfs did stealthily pluck the cherries, and bear them into the garner, the herdsman took a sackful of ashes, which he strewed round about the tree. The next morning, with daybreak, he hied to the spot; the tree was regularly gotten, and he saw beneath in the ashes the print of many geese's feet. Thereat the herdsman fell a-laughing, and made game, that the mystery of the Dwarfs was bewrayed; but these presently after brake down and laid waste their houses, and fled deeper away into their mountain. They harbour ill-will toward men, and withhold from them their help. That herdsman which had betrayed the Dwarfs turned sickly and half-witted, and so continued until his dying day!"
There! Plucked amidst the lap of the Alps from its own hardily-nursed wild-brier, by the same tenderly-diligent hand that brought home to us those other half-disclosed twin-buds of Helvetian tradition, you behold a third, like pure, more expanded blossom. Twine the three, young poet! into one soft-hued and "odorous chaplet," ready and meet for binding the smooth clear forehead of a Swiss Maud!—or fix it amidst the silken curls of thine own dove-eyed, innocent, nature-loving—Ellen or Margaret.
[Footnote 27: Of Professor Wyes.]
These old-young things—bequests, as they look to be—from the loving, singing childhood of the earth, may lawfully make children, lovers, and songsters of us all; and will, if we are fond, and hearken to them.
In that same "hallowed and gracious time," lying YON-SIDE our chronologies,
"When the world and love were young, And truth on every shepherd's tongue,"
the men and the Dwarfs had unbroken intercourse of borrowing and lending. Many traditions touch the matter. Here is one resting upon it.
No. CLIV. The Dwarfs near Dardesheim.
"Dardesheim is a little town betwixt Halberstadt and Brunswick. Close to the north-east side, a spring of the clearest water flows, which is called the Smansborn, and wells from a hill wherein formerly the Dwarfs dwelled. When the ancient inhabitants of the place needed a holiday dress, or any rare utensil for a marriage, they betook them to this Dwarf's Hill, knocked thrice, and with a well audible voice, told their occasion, adding—
'Early a-morrow, ere sun-light, At the hill's door, lieth all aright.'
[Footnote 28: For LESSMANSBORN, i.e. LESSMANN'S WELL.]
The Dwarfs held themselves for well requited if somewhat of the festival meats were set for them by the hill. Afterward gradually did bickerings interrupt the good understanding that was betwixt the Dwarfs' nation and the country folk. At the beginning for a short season; but, in the end, the Dwarfs departed away; because the flouts and gibes of many boors grew intolerable to them, as likewise their ingratitude for kindnesses done. Thenceforth none seeth or heareth any Dwarfs more."
In Auvergne, Miss Costello has just now learned, how the men and the Fairies anciently lived upon the friendliest footing, nigh one another: how the knowledge and commodious use of the Healing Springs was owed by the former to these Good Neighbours: how, of yore, the powerful sprites, by rending athwart a huge rocky mound, opened an innocuous channel for the torrent, which used with its overflow to lay desolate arable ground and pasturage: how they were looked upon as being, in a general sense, the protectors against harm of the country: and, in fine, how the two orders of neighbours lived in long and happy communion of kind offices with one another; until, upon one unfortunate day, the ill-renowned freebooter, Aymerigot Marcel, with his ruffianly men-at-arms, having approached, by stealth, from his near-lying hold, stormed the romantically seated rock-mansion of the bountiful pigmies: who, scared, and in anger, forsook the land. Ever since the foul outrage, only a straggler may, now and then, be seen at a distance.
Thus, too, the late Brillat-Savarin, from a sprightly, acute, brilliant Belles-letteriste, turned, for an hour, honest antiquary, lets us know how, upon the southern bank of the Rhone, flowing out from Switzerland, in the narrowly-bounded and, when he first quitted it, yet hidden valley of his birth:—The FAIRIES—elderly, not beautiful, but benevolent unmarried ladies—kept, while time was, open school in THE GROTTO, which was their habitation, for the young girls of the vicinity, whom they taught—SEWING.
3. We go on to exemplifying—ELFIN Frequentation of, and Settlement with, MAN.
The Fairies are drawn into the houses and to the haunts of men by manifold occasions and impulses. They halt on a journey. They celebrate marriages. They use the implements of handicraft. They purchase at the Tavern—from the Shambles, or in open Market. They steal from oven and field. They go through a house, blessing the rooms, the marriage-bed—and stand beside the unconscious cradle. They give dreams. They take part in the evening mirth. They pray in the churches. They seem to work in the mines. Drawn by magical constraint into the garden, they invite themselves within doors. They dance in the churchyard. They make themselves the wives and the paramours of men; or the serviceable hobgoblin fixes himself, like a cat, in the house—once and for ever.
We present traditions for illustrating some of these points, as they offer themselves to us.
"Part fenced by man, part by the ragged steep That curbs a foaming brook, a GRAVE-YARD lies; The hare's best couching-place for fearless sleep! Where MOONLIT FAYS, far seen by credulous eyes, ENTER, IN DANCE!"
WORDSWORTH.—Sonnet upon an ABANDONED Cemetery.]
THEY HALT ON A JOURNEY.
No. XXXV. The Count of Hoia.
"There did appear once to a count of Hoia, a little mauling in the night, and, as the count was alarmed, said to him he should have no fear: he had a word to sue unto him, and begged that he should not be denied. The count answered, if it were a thing possible to do, and should be never burthensome to him and his, he will gladly do it. The manling said—'There be some that desire to come to thee this ensuing night, into thy house, and to make their stopping. Wouldst thou so long lend them kitchen and hall, and bid thy domestics that they go to bed, and none look after their ways and works, neither any know thereof, save only thou? They will show them, therefore, grateful. Thou and thy line shall have cause of joy, and in the very least matter shall none hurt happen unto thee, neither to any that belong to thee.' Whereunto the count assented. Accordingly, upon the following night, they came like a cavalcade, marching over the drawbridge to the house; one and all—tiny folk, such as they use to describe the hill manlings. They cooked in the kitchen, fell too, and rested, and nothing seemed otherwise than as if a great repast were in preparing. Thereafter, nigh unto morn, as they will again depart, comes the little manling a second time to the count, and after conning him thanks, handed him a sword, a salamander cloth, and a golden ring, in which was RED LION set above—advertising him, withal, that he and his posterity shall well keep these three pieces, and so long as they had them all together, should it go with fair accordance and well in the county; but so soon as they shall be parted from one another, shall it be a sign that nothing good impendeth for the county. Accordingly, the red lion ever after, when any of the stem is near the point of dying, hath been seen to wax wan.
"Howsoever, at the time that Count Job and his brothers were minors, and Francis of Halle governor in the country, two of the pieces—viz., the Sword and the Salamander Cloth, were taken away; but the Ring remained with the lordship unto an end. Whither it afterwards went is not known."
THEY HOLD A WEDDING.
No.XXXI. The Small People's Wedding Feast.
"The small people of the Eulenberg in Saxony would once hold a marriage, and for this purpose slipped in, in the night, through the keyhole and the window-chinks into the Hall, and came leaping down upon the smooth floor, like peas tumbled out upon the threshing-floor. The old Count, who slept in the high canopy bed in the Hall, awoke, and marvelled at the number of tiny companions; one of whom, in the garb of a herald, now approached him, and in well-set phrase, courteously prayed him to bear part in their festivity. 'Yet one thing,' he added, 'we beg of you. Ye shall alone be present; none of your court shall be bold to gaze upon our mirth—yea, not so much as with a glance.' The old Count answered pleasantly—'Since ye have once for all waked me up, I will e'en make one among you.' Hereupon was a little wifikin led up to him, little torch-bearers took their station, and a music of crickets struck up. The Count had much ado to save losing his little partner in the dance; she capered about so nimbly, and ended with whirling him round and round, until hardly might he have his breath again. But, in the midst of the jocund measure, all stood suddenly still; the music ceased, and the whole throng hurried to the cracks in the doors, mouse-holes, and hiding-places of all sorts. The newly-married couple only, the heralds, and the dancers, looked upward towards an orifice that was in the hall ceiling, and there descried the visage of the old Countess, who was curiously prying down upon the mirthful doings. Herewith they made their obeisance to the Count; and the same which had bidden him, again stepping forward, thanked him for his hospitality. 'But,' continued he, 'because our pleasure and our wedding hath been in such sort interrupted, that yet another eye of man hath looked thereon, henceforward shall your house number never more than seven Eulenbergs.' Thereupon, they pressed fast forth, one upon another. Presently all was quiet, and the old Count once again alone in the dark Hall. The curse hath come true to this hour, so as ever one of the six living knights of Eulenberg hath died ere the seventh was born."
THEY JOIN THE EVENING MIRTH.
No. xxxix. The Hill-Manling at the Dance.
"Old folks veritable declared, that some years ago, at Glass, in Dorf, an hour from the Wunderberg, and an hour from the town of Salzburg, a wedding was kept, to which, towards evening, a Hill-Manling came out of the Wunderberg. He exhorted all the guests to be in honour, gleesome, and merry, and requested leave to join the dancers, which was not refused him. He danced accordingly, with modest maidens, one and another; evermore, three dances with each, and that with a singular featness; insomuch that the wedding guests looked on with admiration and pleasure. The dance over, he made his thanks, and bestowed upon either of the young married people three pieces of money that were of an unknown coinage; whereof each was held to be worth four kreuzers; and therewithal admonished them to dwell in peace and concord, live Christianly, and piously walking, to bring up their children in all goodness. These coins they should put amongst their money, and constantly remember him—so should they seldom fall into hardship. But they must not therewithal grow arrogant, but, of their superfluity, succour their neighbours.
"This Hill-Manling stayed with them into the night, and took of every one to drink and to eat what they proffered; but from every one only a little. He then paid his courtesy, and desired that one of the wedding guests might take him over the river Salzbach toward the mountain. Now, there was at the marriage a boatman, by name John Standl, who was presently ready, and they went down together to the ferry. During the passage, the ferryman asked his meed. The Hill-Manling tendered him, in all humility, three pennies. The waterman scorned at such mean hire; but the Manling gave him for answer—'He must not vex himself, but safely store up the three pennies; for, so doing, he should never suffer default of his having—if only he did restrain presumptousness—at the same time he gave the boatman a little pebble, saying the words—'If thou shalt hang this about thy neck, thou shalt not possibly perish in the water.' Which was proved in that same year. Finally, he persuaded him to a godly and humble manner of life, and went swiftly away."
ANOTHER OF THE SAME.
No. CCCVI. The Three Maidens from the Mere.
"At Epfenbach, nigh Sinzheim, within men's memory, three wondrously beautiful damsels, attired in white, visited, with every evening, the village spinning-room. They brought along with them ever new songs and tunes, and new pretty tales and games. Moreover, their distaffs and spindles had something peculiar, and no spinster might so finely and nimbly spin the thread. But upon the stroke of eleven, they arose; packed up their spinning gear, and for no prayers might be moved to delay for an instant more. None wist whence they came, nor whither they went. Only they called them, The Maidens from the Mere; or, The Sisters of the Lake. The lads were glad to see them there, and were taken with love of them; but most of all, the schoolmaster's son. He might never have enough of hearkening and talking to them, and nothing grieved him more than that every night they went so early away. The thought suddenly crossed him, and he set the village clock an hour back; and, in the evening, with continual talking and sporting, not a soul perceived the delay of the hour. When the clock struck eleven—but it was properly twelve—the three damsels arose, put up their distaffs and things, and departed. Upon the following morrow, certain persons went by the Mere; they heard a wailing, and saw three bloody spots above upon the surface of the water. Since that season, the sisters came never again to the room. The schoolmaster's son pined, and died shortly thereafter."
AN ELFIN IS BOUND, IN UNLAWFUL CHAINS, TO A HUMAN LOVER.
No. LXX. The Bushel, the Ring, and the Goblet.
"In the duchy of Lorraine, when it belonged, as it long did, to Germany, the last count of Orgewiler ruled betwixt Nanzig and Luenstadt. He had no male heir of his blood, and upon his deathbed, shared his lands amongst his three daughters and sons-in-law. Simon of Bestein had married the eldest daughter, the lord of Crony the second, and a German Rhinegrave the youngest. Beside the lordships, he also distributed to his heirs three presents; to the eldest daughter a BUSHEL, to the middle one a DRINKING-CUP, and to the third a jewel, which was a RING, with an admonition that they and their descendants should carefully hoard up these pieces, so should their houses be constantly fortunate."
[Footnote 30: LUNEVILLE.]
The tradition, how the things came into the possession of the count, the Marshal of Bassenstein, great-grandson of Simon, does himself relate thus:—
[Footnote 31: BASSOMPIERRE.]
[Footnote 32: Memoires du Marechal de BASSOMPIERRE: Cologne, 1666. Vol. I. PP. 4-6. The Marshal died in 1646.]
"The count was married: but he had beside a secret amour with a marvellous beautiful woman, which came weekly to him every Monday, into a summer-house in the garden. This commerce remained long concealed from his wife. When he withdrew from her side, he pretended to her, that he went, by night, into the Forest, to the Stand.
"But when a few years had thus passed, the countess took a suspicion, and was minded to learn the right truth. One summer morning early, she slipped after him, and came to the summer bower. She there saw her husband, sleeping in the arms of a wondrous fair female; but because they both slept so sweetly, she would not awaken them; but she took her veil from her head, and spread it over the feet of both, where they lay asleep.
"When the beautiful paramour awoke, and perceived the veil, she gave a loud cry, began pitifully to wail, and said:—
"'Henceforwards, my beloved, we see one another never more. Now must I tarry at a hundred leagues' distance away, and severed from thee.'
"Therewith she did 1eave the count, but presented him first with those afore-named three gifts for his three daughters, which they should never let go from them.
"The House of Bassenstein, for long years, had a toll, to draw in fruit, from the town of Spinal, whereto this Bushel was constantly used."
[Footnote 33: EPINAL.]
THE HOUSEHOLD SPIRIT DOES HOUSEHOLD SERVICE IN A MILL.
No. LXXIII. The Kobold in the Mill.
"Two students did once fare afoot from Rintel. They purposed putting up for the night in a village; but for as much as there did a violent rain fall, and the darkness grew upon them, so as they might no further forward, they went up to a near-lying mill, knocked, and begged a night's quarters. The miller was, at the first, deaf, but yielded, at the last, to their instant entreaty, opened the door, and brought them into a room. They were hungry and thirsty both; and because there stood upon a table a dish with food, and a mug of beer, they begged the miller for them, being both ready and willing to pay; but the miller denied them—would not give them even a morsel of bread, and only the hard bench for their night's bed.
"'The meat and the drink,' said he, 'belong to the Household Spirit. If ye love your lives, leave them both untouched. But else have ye no harm to fear. If there chance a little din in the night, be ye but still and sleep.'
"The two students laid themselves down to sleep; but after the space of an hour or the like, hunger did assail the one so vehemently that he stood up and sought after the dish. The other, a Master of Arts, warned him to leave to the Devil what was the Devil's due; but he answered, 'I have a better right than the Devil to it'—seated himself at the table, and ate to his heart's content, so that little was left of the cookery. After that, he laid hold of the can, took a good Pomeranian pull, and having thus somewhat appeased his desire, he laid himself again down to his companion; but when, after a time, thirst anew tormented him, he again rose up, and pulled a second so hearty draught, that he left the Household Spirit only the bottoms. After he had thus cheered and comforted himself, he lay down and fell asleep.
"All remained quiet on to midnight; but hardly was this well by, when the Kobold came banging in with so loud coil, that both sleepers awoke in great fright. He bounced a few times to and fro about the room, then seated himself as if to enjoy his supper at the table, and they could plainly hear how he pulled the dish to him. Immediately he set it, as though in ill humour, hard down again, laid hold of the can, pressed up the lid, but straightway let it clap sharply to again. He now fell to his work; he wiped the table, next the legs of the table, carefully down, and then swept, as with a besom, the door diligently. When this was done, he returned to visit once more the dish and the beercan, if his luck might be any better this turn, but once more pushed both angrily away. Thereupon he proceeded in his labour, came to the benches, washed, scoured, rubbed them, below and above. When he came to the place where the two students lay, he passed them over, and worked on beyond their feet. When this was done, he began upon the bench a second time above their heads; and, for the second time likewise, passed over the visitants. But the third time, when he came to them, he stroked gently the one which had nothing tasted, over the hair and along the whole body, without any whit hurting him; but the other he griped by the feet, dragged him two or three times round the room upon the floor, till at the last he left him lying, and ran behind the stove, whence he laughed him loudly to scorn. The student crawled back to the bench; but in a quarter of an hour the Kobold began his work anew, sweeping, cleaning, wiping. The two lay there quaking with fear:—the one he felt quite softly over, when he came to him; but the other he flung again upon the ground, and again broke out, at the back of the stove, into a flouting horse-laugh.
[Footnote 34: Exactly so, the hairy THRESHING Goblin of Milton—at going out, again:—
"Till, cropful, out o' door HE FLINGS." He, too, is paid for his work, with ——"his CREAM-BOWL, duly set."
"The students now no longer chose to lie upon the bench, rose, and set up, before the closed and locked door, a loud outcry; but none took any heed to it. They were at length resolved to lay themselves down close together upon the flat floor; but the Kobold left them not in peace. He began, for the third time, his game:—came and lugged the guilty one about, laughed, and scoffed him. He was now fairly mad with rage, drew his sword, thrust and cut into the corner whence the laugh rang, and challenged the Kobold with bravadoes, to come on. He then sat down, his weapon in his hand, upon the bench, to await what should further befall; but the noise ceased, and all remained still.
"The miller upbraided them upon the morrow, for that they had not conformed themselves to his admonishing, neither had left the victuals untouched. It was as much as their two lives were worth."
* * * * *
Three heads only of the ATTRACTION, above imputed to the Fairies towards our own kind, have been here imperfectly brought out; and already the narrowness of our limits warns us—with a sigh given to the traditions crowding upon us from all countries, and which we perforce leave unused—to bring these preliminary remarks to a close.
Still, something has been gained for illustrating our Tale. The Hill-Manling at the dance diligently warns against PRIDE—the rank ROOT evil which the Fairies will weed out from the bosom of our heroine, whilst throughout a marked feature of the Fairy ways—"THE ACTIVE PRESENCE OF THE SPIRITS IN A HUMAN HABITATION" has forced itself upon us, in diverse, and some, perhaps, unexpected forms.
And still, our fuller examples, coming to us wholly from the Collection of the Two Brothers, and expressing the habitudes of various WIGHTS and ELVES, may furnish, for comparison with Ernst Willkomm's Upper Lusatian, an EXTRA Lusatian picture of the TEUTONIC FAIRYHOOD.
THE FAIRY TUTOR.
"In days of yore there lived, alone in her castle, a maiden named Swanhilda. She was the only child of a proud father, lately deceased. Her mother she had lost when she was but a child; so that the education of the daughter had fallen wholly into the hands of the father.
"During the lifetime even of the old knight, many suitors had offered themselves for Swanhilda; but she seemed to be insensible to every tender emotion, and dismissed with disdainful haughtiness the whole body of wooers. Meanwhile she hunted the stag and the board, and performed squire's service for her gradually declining parent. This manner of life was so entirely to the taste of the maiden, notwithstanding that in delicacy of frame, and in bewitching gracefulness of figure, she gave place to none of her sex, that when at length her father died, she took upon herself the management of the castle, and lived aloof in pride and independence, in the very fashion of an Amazon. Maugre the many refusals which Swanhilda had already distributed on every side, there still flocked to her loving knights, eager to wed; but, like their predecessors, they were all sent drooping home again. The young nobility could at last bear this treatment no longer; and they, one and all, resolved either to constrain the supercilious damsel to wedlock, or to make her smart for a refusal. An embassy was dispatched, charged with notifying this resolution to the mistress of the castle. Swanhilda heard the speakers quietly to the end; but her answer was tuned as before, or indeed rang harsher and more offensive than ever. Turning her back upon the embassy, she left them to depart, scorned and ashamed.
"In the night following the day upon which this happened, Swanhilda was disturbed out of her sleep by a noise which seemed to her to ascend from her chamber floor; but let her strain her eyes as she might, she could for a long while discern nothing. At length she observed, in the middle of the room, a straying sparkle of light, that threw itself over and over like a tumbler, tittering, at the same time, like a human being. Swanhilda for a while kept herself quiet; but as the luminous antic ceased not practising his harlequinade, she peevishly exclaimed—'What buffoon is carrying on his fooleries here? I desire to be left in peace.' The light vanished instantly, and Swanhilda already had congratulated herself upon gaining her point, when suddenly a loud shrilly sound was heard—the floor of the apartment gave way, and from the gap there arose a table set out with the choicest viands. It rested upon a lucid body of air, upon which the tiny attendants skipped with great agility to and fro, waiting upon seated guests. At first Swanhilda was so amazed that her breath forsook her; but becoming by degrees somewhat collected, she observed, to her extreme astonishment, that an effigy of herself sat at the strange table, in the midst of the numerous train of suitors, whom she had so haughtily dismissed. The attendants presented to the young knights the daintiest dishes, the savour of which came sweetly-smelling enough to the nostrils of the proud damsel. As often, however, as the knights were helped to meat and drink, the figure of Swanhilda at the board was presented by an ill-favoured Dwarf, who stood as her servant behind her, with an empty basket, whereat the suitor's broke out into wild laughter. She also soon became aware, that as many courses were served up to the guests as she had heretofore dispensed refusals, and the amount of these was certainly not small.
"Swanhilda, weary of the absurd phantasmagoria, was going to speak again; but to her horror she discovered that the power of speech had left her. She had for some time been struck with a kind of whispering and tittering about her. In order to make out whence this proceeded, she leaned out of her bed, and, peering between the silk curtains, perceived two smart diminutive cupbearers, in garments of blue, with green aprons, and small yellow caps. She had scarcely got sight of the little gentlemen when their whispering took the character of audible words; and the dumb Swanhilda was enabled to overhear the following discourse:
"'But, I pri'thee, tell me, Sweetflower, how this show shall end?' said one of the two cupbearers,—'thou art, we know, the confidant of our queen, and, certes, canst disclose to me somewhat of her plans?'
"'That can I, my small-witted Monsieur Silverfine,' answered Sweetflower. 'Know, therefore, that this sweet and lovely to behold brute of a girl, is now beginning to suffer the castigation due to her innumerable offences. Swanhilda has sinned against all maidenly modesty, has borne herself proud and overbearing towards honourable gentlemen, and, besides, has most seriously offended our queen.'
"'How so?' enquired Silverfine.
"'By storming on her Barbary steed, like the devil himself, through the thick of our States' Assembly, pounding the arms and legs of I don't know how many of our sapient representatives. What makes the matter worse is, that this happened at the very opening of the diet, and whilst the grand prelusive symphony of the whole hidden people was in full burst. We were sitting by hundreds of thousands upon blades, stalks, and leaves; some of us still actively busied arranging comfortable seats for the older people in the blue harebells. For this we had stripped the skins of sixty thousand red field spiders, and wrought them into canopies and hangings. All our talented performers had tuned their instruments, scraped, fluted, twanged, jingled, and shawmed to their hearts' content, and had resined their fiddlesticks upon the freshest of dewdrops. All at once, tearing out of the wood, with your leave, or without your leave, comes this monster of a girl, plump upon upper house and lower house together. Ah, lack-a-daisy! what a massacre it was! The first hoof struck a thousand of our prime orators dead upon the spot, the other three hoofs scattered the Imperial diet in all directions, and, what is worse than all, tore to pieces a multitude of our exquisite caps. Our queen was almost frantic at the breach of the peace—she stamped with her foot, and cried out, "LIGHTNING!" and what that means we all pretty well know. Just at this time, too, she received information of the maiden's arrogant behaviour towards her suitors, and on the instant she determined to put the sinner to her prayers. We began by devouring every thing clean up, giving her the pleasure of looking on.'
"'Silly, absurd creatures!' thought Swanhilda, as the little butler advanced to the table to put on some fresh wine. During his absence she had time to note how perhaps a dozen other Fairies drew up through the floor whole pailfuls of wine and smoking meats, which were conveyed immediately to the table, and there consumed as if by the wind. She was heartily longing for the day to dawn, that the sun might dissipate her dream, when the sprightly little speaker came to his place again.
"'Now we can gossip a little longer,' said Sweetflower. 'My guests are provided for, and between this and cock-crow—when house and cellar will be emptied—there's some time yet.'
"Swanhilda uttered (mentally) a prodigious imprecation, and turned herself so violently in the bed, that the little gentlemen were absolutely terrified.
"'I verily believe we are going to have an earthquake!' said Silverfine.
"'No such thing!' answered Sweetflower. 'The amiable young lady in bed there has seen the sport perhaps, and is very likely not altogether pleased with it.'
"'Don't you think she would speak, if she saw all this wastefulness going on?' asked Silverfine.
"'Yes, if she could!' chuckled Sweetflower. 'But our queen has been cruel enough to strike her dumb, whilst she looks upon this heartbreaking spectacle. If she once wakes, she won't be troubled again with sleep before cock-crow.'
"'A pretty business!' thought Swanhilda, once more tossing herself passionately about in her bed.
"'Quite right!' said Sweetflower triumphantly. 'The imp of a girl has waked up.'
"'Insolent wretches!' said Swanhilda (internally.) 'Brute and imp to me! Oh, if I could only speak!'
"'Why, the whole fun of the thing is,' said Sweetflower, almost bursting with laughter, 'just that that wish won't be gratified. Does the fool of a woman think that she is to trample down our orchestra with impunity, to put our States' Assembly to flight, and to crush our very selves into a jelly!'
"'And the unbidden guests divine my very thoughts!' thought Swanhilda. 'Upon my life, it looks as if a spice of omniscience had really crept under their caps!'
"'Why, of course!' answered Sweetflower.
"'Then will I think no more!' resolved Swanhilda.
"'And there, my prudent damsel, you show a good discretion,' returned Sweetflower, saluting her with an ironical bow.
"'How will it be, then, with our caps?' enquired Silverfine. 'Are they to be repaired?'
"'Oh, certainly,' returned Sweetflower; 'and that will cost our Amazon here more than all. Indeed, the conditions of her punishment are, to make good the caps, to pledge her troth to one of her despised suitors, to compensate the rest with magnificent gifts, and, for the future, never to mount hunter more, but to amble upon a gentle palfrey, as a lady should. And, till all this is done, am I to have the teaching of her.'
"'Pretty conditions truly!' thought Swanhilda. 'I would rather die than keep them.'
"'Just as you please, most worthy madam,' answered Sweetflower; 'but you'll think better of it yet, perhaps.'
"'It will fall heavy enough upon her,' said Silverfine, 'seeing that we have it in command to seize upon all the lady's treasures.'
"'Capital, capital!' shouted Sweetflower. 'That's peppering the punishment truly! For now must this haughty man-hating creature go about begging, catching and carrying fish to market, and so submitting herself to the scorn and laughter of all her former lovers, till her trade makes her rich again. Nothing but luck in fishing will our queen vouchsafe the audacious madam. Three years are allowed her. But, in the interim, she must starve and famish like a white mouse learning to dance.'
"At this moment a monstrous burst of laughter roared from the table. The guests sang aloud—
"'The last flagon we end, Swanhilda shall mend; Huzza, knights, and drink To the last dollar's chink!'
"As the song ceased, the table descended, the floor closed up, and stillness was in the room again, as when the lady had first retired to her couch. The cock crew, and Swanhilda fell into a deep sleep.
* * * * *
"When it left her, the sun already shone high and bright, and played on her silken bed-curtains. She rubbed her eyes, and seeing every thing about her in its usual state, she concluded that what had happened was nothing worse than a feverish dream. She now arose, began dressing herself, and would have allayed her waking thirst, but she could find neither glass nor water-pitcher. She called angrily to her waiting-woman.
"'How come you to forget water, blockhead?' she exclaimed; 'get some quickly, and then—Breakfast!'
"The attendant departed, shaking her head; for she knew well enough that every thing had been put in order as usual on the evening before. She very quickly returned, frightened out of her wits, and hardly able to speak.
"'Oh my lady! my lady! my lady!' she stammered out.
"'Well, where is the water?'
"'Gone! all drained and dried up! Tub, brook, well—all empty and dry!'
"'Is it possible?' said Swanhilda. 'Your eyes have surely deceived you! But never mind—bring up my breakfast. A ham and two Pomeranian geese-breasts.'
"'Alack! gracious lady!' answered the girl, sobbing, 'every thing in the house is gone too! The wine-casks lie in pieces on the cellar floor; the stalls are empty; your favourite horse is away—hay and corn rotted through. It is shocking!'
"Swanhilda dismissed her, and broke out at first into words wild and vehement. She checked them; but tears of disappointment and bitter rage forced their way in spite of her. A visit to her cellar, store-rooms, and granaries, convinced her of the horrible transformation which a night had effected in every thing that belonged to her. She found nothing every where but mould and sickly-smelling mildew; and was too soon aware that the hideous images of the night were nothing less than frightful realities. Her hardened heart stood proof; and since the whole region for leagues round was turned into a blighted brown heath, she at one resolved to die of hunger. Ere noon her few servants had deserted the castle, and Swanhilda herself hungered till her bowels growled again.
"This laudable self-castigation she persevered in for three days long, when her hunger had increased to such a pitch that she could no longer remain quiet in the castle. In a state of half consciousness, she staggered down to the lake, known far and wide by the name of the Castle mere. Here, on the glassy surface, basked the liveliest fishes. Swanhilda for a while watched in silence the disport of the happy creatures, then snatched up a hazel wand lying at her feet, round the end of which a worm had coiled, and, half maddened by the joyance of the finny tribe, struck with it into the water. A greedy fish snapped at the switch. The famishing Swanhilda clutched hungeringly at it, but found in her hand a piece of offensive carrion, and nothing more; whilst around, from every side, there rang such a clatter of commingled mockery and laughter, that Swanhilda vented a terrible imprecation, and shed once more—a scorching tear.
"'Oh! we shall soon have you tame enough!' said a voice straight before her, and she recognized it at once for the speaker of that miserable night. Looking about her, she perceived a moss-rose that luxuriated upon the rock. In one of the expanded buds sat a little kicking fellow, with green apron, sky-blue vest, and yellow bonnet. He was laughing right into the face of the angry miss; and, quaffing off one little flower-cup after another, filled them bravely again, and jingled with his tiny bunch of keys, as if he had been grand butler to the universe.
"'A flavour like a nosegay!' said the malicious rogue. 'Wilt hob-nob with me, maiden? What do you say? Are we adepts at sacking a house? 'Twill give thee trouble to fill thy cellars again as we found them. Take heart, girl. If you will come to, and take kindly to your angling, and do the thing that's handsome by your wooers, you shall have an eatable dinner yet up at the castle.'
"'Infamous pigmy!' exclaimed Swanhilda, lashing with her rod, as she spoke, at the little rose. The small buffeteer meanwhile had leaped down, and, in the turning of a hand, had perched himself upon the lady's nose, where he drummed an animating march with his heels.
"'Thy nose, I do protest, is excellently soft, thou wicked witch!' said the rascal. 'If thou wilt now try thy hand at fishing for the town market, thou shalt be entertained the while with the finest band of music in the world. Be good and pretty, and take up thy angling-rod. Trumpets and drums, flutes and clarinets, shall all strike up together.'
"Swanhilda tried hard to shake the jocular tormentor off, but he kept his place on the bridge as if he had grown to it. She made a snatch at him, and he bit her finger.
"'Hark'e, my damsel!' quoth Sweetflower; 'if you are so unmannerly, 'tis time for a lesson. You smarted too little when you were a young one. We must make all that good now;' and forthwith he settled himself properly upon her nose, dangling a leg on either side, like a cavalier in saddle. 'Come, my pretty, be industrious,' continued he; 'get to work, and follow good counsel.' And then he whistled a blithe and gamesome tune.
"Swanhilda, not heedlessly to prolong her own vexation, dipped the rod into the water, and immediately saw another gleaming fish wriggling at its end. A basket, delicately woven of flowers, stood beside her, half filled with clear water. The fish dropped into it of themselves. The wee companion beat meanwhile with his feet upon the wings of the lady's nose, played ten instruments or more at once, and extemporized a light rambling rhyme, wherein arch gibes and playful derision of her present forlorn estate were not unmingled with auguries of a friendlier future.
"'There, you see! where's the distress?' said the urchin, laughing. 'The basket is as full as it can hold. Off with you to the town, and when your fish are once sold, you may make yourself—some water-gruel.' With these words the elf leaped into the fish-basket, crept out again on the other side, plucked a king-cup, took seat in it, and gave the word—'Forwards!' The flower, on the instant, displayed its petals. There appeared sail and rudder to the small and delicate ship, which at once took motion, and sailed gaily through the air.
"'A prosperous market to you, Swanhilda!' cried Sweetflower, 'behave discreetly now, and do your tutor justice!'
"Swanhilda, perforce, resigned herself to her destiny. She took her basket, and carried it home, intending to disguise herself as completely as possible before making for the town. But all her clothes lay crumbling into dust. Needs must she then, harassed by hunger and thirst, begin her weary walk, equipped, as she was, in her velvet riding-habit.
"Without fatigue, surprised at her celerity—she was in the market-place. The eyes of all naturally took the direction of the well-born fisherwoman. Still pity held the tongue of scorn in thrall, and Swanhilda saw her basket speedily emptied. Once more within her castle walls, she beheld a running spring in the courtyard, and near it an earthen pitcher. She filled—drank—and carried the remainder to the hall, where she found a small fire burning, a pipkin, and a loaf. She submissively cooked herself a meagre pottage of bread and water, appeased the cravings of nature, and fell into a sound sleep.
"Morning came, and she awoke with thirst burning afresh. She hastened to the spring, but fountain and pitcher were no loner there. In their stead a hoarse laugh greeted her; and in the next instant she perceived the tiny butler, astride upon a cork, galloping before her across the courtyard, and addressing his pupil with another snatch of his derisive song.
"The courage of Swanhilda surmounted her wrath, and she carried her fish-basket to the lake. It was soon filled, and she again on her way to market. An amazing multitude of people were already in motion here, who presently thronged about the market-woman. The basket was nearly emptied, when two of her old suitors approached. Swanhilda was confounded, and a blush of deep shame inflamed her countenance. Curiosity and the pleasure of malice spurred them to accost her; but the sometime-haughty damsel cast her eyes upon the ground, and in answer tendered her fish for sale. The knights bought; mixing, however, ungentle gibes with their good coin. Swanhilda, at the moment, caught sight of her tutor peeping from a daisy—saluting her with his little cap, and nodding approbation.
"'I would you were in the kingdom of pepper!' thought Swanhilda, and in the next instant the fairy was running upon her nose and cheeks, most unmercifully stamping, and tickling her with a little hair till she sneezed again.
"'Stay, stay, I must teach thee courtesy, if I can. What! a profane swearer too! Wish me in the kingdom of pepper! We'll have pepper growing on thy soft cheeks here. There, there—is that pepper? Thou art rouged, my lady, ready for a ball!'
"Swanhilda turned upon her homeward way, the adhesive Elf still tripping ceaselessly about her face, and bore her infliction with a virtuous patience. In her court and hall she found, as before, the spring, the bread, and the fire. As before, she satisfied hunger and thirst, and slept—the sweeter already for her punishment and pain.
"And so passed day after day. The tricky Elf became a less severe, still trusty schoolmaster. The profits of her trading, under fairy guardianship, were great to marvelling; and it must be owned that her aversion to angling craft did not increase in proportion. As time ran on, she had encountered all her discarded knights, now singly and now in companies. A year and a half elapsed, and left the relation between suitors and maiden as at the beginning. At length a chivalric and gentle knight, noble in person as in birth, ventured to accost her, loving and reverently as in her brighter days of yore. Abashed, overcome with shame, the maiden was at the mercy of the light-winged, blithe, and watchful god, who seized his hour to enthrone himself upon her heart. She bought the fairy caps and mantles—she made honourable satisfaction to the knights, and to him whose generous constancy had won her heart, she gave a willing and a softened hand.
"Upon her wedding day, the QUIET PEOPLE did not fail to adorn the festival with their radiant presence; albeit the merry creatures played a strange cross-game on the occasion. The blissful day over, and the happy bride and bridegroom withdrawing from the banquet and the dance, the well-pleased chirping, able little tutor hopped before them, and led them to the hymeneal bower with floral flute, and gratulatory song!"
[Footnote 35: Memoirs of the Marquis of Pombal. By J. SMITH, Esq., Private Secretary to the Marquis of Saldanha. Two vols.]
The connexion of Portugal with England has been continued for so long a period, and the fortunes of Portugal have risen and fallen so constantly in the exact degree of her more intimate or more relaxed alliance with England that a knowledge of her interests, her habits, and her history, becomes an especial accomplishment of the English statesman. The two countries have an additional tie, in the similitude of their early pursuits, their original character for enterprise, and their mutual services. Portugal, like England, with a narrow territory, but that territory largely open to the sea, was maritime from her beginning; like England, her early power was derived from the discovery of remote countries; like England, she threw her force into colonization, at an era when all other nations of Europe were wasting their strength in unnecessary wars; like England, without desiring to enlarge her territory, she has preserved her independence; and, so sustain the similitude to its full extent, like England, she founded an immense colony in the western world, with which, after severing the link of government, she retains the link of a common language, policy, literature, and religion.
The growth of the great European powers at length overshadowed the prosperity of Portugal, and the usurpation of her government by Spain sank her into a temporary depression. But the native gallantry of the nation at length shook off the yoke; and a new effort commenced for her restoration to the place which she was entitled to maintain in the world. It is remarkable that, at such periods in the history of nations, some eminent individual comes forward, as if designated for the especial office of a national guide. Such an individual was the Marquis of Pombal, the virtual sovereign of Portugal for twenty-seven years—a man of talent, intrepidity, and virtue. His services were the crush of faction and the birth of public spirit, the fall of the Jesuits and the peace of his country. His inscription should be, "The Restorer of his Country."
The Marquis of Pombal was born on the 13th of May 1699, at Soure, a Portuguese village near the town of Pombal. His father, Manoel Carvalho, was a country gentleman of moderate fortune, of the rank of fidalgo de provincia—a distinction which gave him the privileges attached to nobility, though not to the title of a grandee, that honour not descending below dukes, marquises, and counts. His mother was Theresa de Mendonca, a woman of family. He had two brothers, Francis and Paul. His own names were Sebastian Joseph, to which was added that of Mello, from his maternal ancestor.
Having, like the sons of Portuguese gentlemen in general, studied for a period in the university of Coimbra, he entered the army as a private, according to the custom of the country, and rose to the rank of corporal, which he held until circumstances, and an introduction to Cardinal Motta, who was subsequently prime-minister, induced him to devote himself to the study of history, politics, and law. The cardinal, struck with his ability, strongly advised him to persevere in those pursuits, appointed him, in 1733, member of the Royal Academy of History, and shortly after, the king proposed that he should write the history of certain of the Portuguese monarchs; but this design was laid aside, and Pombal remained unemployed for six years, until, in 1739, he was sent by the cardinal to London, as Portuguese minister. He retained his office until 1745; yet it is remarkable, and an evidence of the difficulty of acquiring a new language, that Pombal, though thus living six active years in the country, was never able to acquire the English language. It must, however, be recollected, that at this period French was the universal language of diplomacy, the language of the court circles, and the polished language of all the travelled ranks of England. The writings, too, of the French historians, wits, and politicians, were the study of every man who pretended to good-breeding, and the only study of most; so that, to a stranger, the acquisition of the vernacular tongue could be scarcely more than a matter of curiosity. Times, however, are changed; and the diplomatist who should now come to this country without a knowledge of the language, would be despised for his ignorance of an essential knowledge, and had better remain at home. Soon after his return, he was employed in a negotiation to reconcile the courts of Rome and Vienna on an ecclesiastical claim. His reputation had already reached Vienna; and it is surmised that Maria Theresa, the empress, had desired his appointment as ambassador. His embassy was successful. At Vienna, Pombal, who was a widower, married the Countess Ernestein Daun, by whom he had two sons and three daughters. Pombal was destined to be a favourite at courts from his handsome exterior. He was above the middle size, finely formed, and with a remarkably intellectual countenance; his manners graceful, and his language animated and elegant. His reputation at Vienna was so high, that on a vacancy in the Foreign office at Lisbon, Pombal was recalled to take the portfolio in 1750. Don John, the king, died shortly after, and Don Joseph, at the age of thirty-five, ascended the throne, appointing Pombal virtually his prime-minister—a rank which he held, unshaken and unrivaled, for the extraordinary period of twenty-seven years.
The six years of unemployed and private life, which the great minister had spent in the practical study of his country, were of the most memorable service to his future administration. His six years' residence in England added practical knowledge to theoretical; and with the whole machinery of a free, active, and popular government in constant operation before his eyes, he returned to take the government of a dilapidated country. The power of the priesthood, exercised in the most fearful shape of tyranny; the power of the crown, at once feeble and arbitrary; the power of opinion, wholly extinguished; and the power of the people, perverted into the instrument of their own oppression—were the elements of evil with which the minister had to deal; and he dealt with them vigorously, sincerely, and successfully.
The most horrible tribunal of irresponsible power, combined with the most remorseless priestcraft, was the Inquisition; for it not merely punished men for obeying their own consciences, but tried them in defiance of every principle of enquiry. It not only made a law contradictory of every other law, but it established a tribunal subversive of every mode by which the innocent could be defended. It was a murderer on principle. Pombal's first act was a bold and noble effort to reduce this tribunal within the limits of national safety. By a decree of 1751, it was ordered that thenceforth no judicial burnings should take place without the consent and approval of the government, taking to itself the right of enquiry and examination, and confirming or reversing the sentence according to its own judgment. This measure decided at once the originality and the boldness of the minister: for it was the first effort of the kind in a Popish kingdom; and it was made against the whole power of Rome, the restless intrigues of the Jesuits, and the inveterate superstition of the people.
Having achieved this great work of humanity, the minister's next attention was directed to the defences of the kingdom. He found all the fortresses in a state of decay, he appropriated an annual revenue of L.7000 for their reparation; he established a national manufactory of gunpowder, it having been previously supplied by contract, and being of course supplied of the worst quality at the highest rate. He established regulations for the fisheries, he broke up iniquitous contracts, he attempted to establish a sugar refinery, and directed the attention of the people largely to the cultivation of silk. His next reformation was that of the police. The disorders of the late reign had covered the highways with robbers. Pombal instituted a police so effective, and proceeded with such determined justice against all disturbers of the peace, that the roads grew suddenly safe, and the streets of Lisbon became proverbial for security, at a time when every capital of Europe was infested with robbers and assassins, and when even the state of London was so hazardous, as to be mentioned in the king's speech in 1753 as a scandal to the country. The next reform was in the collection of the revenue. An immense portion of the taxes had hitherto gone into the pockets of the collectors. Pombal appointed twenty-eight receivers for the various provinces, abolished at a stroke a host of inferior officers, made the promisers responsible for the receivers, and restored the revenue to a healthy condition. Commerce next engaged his attention; he established a company to trade to the East and China, the old sources of Portuguese wealth. In the western dominions of Portugal, commerce had hitherto languished. He established a great company for the Brazil trade. But his still higher praise was his humanity. Though acting in the midst of a nation overrun with the most violent follies and prejudices of Popery, he laboured to correct the abuses of the convents; and, among the rest, their habit of retaining as nuns the daughters of the Brazilian Portuguese who had been sent over for their education. By a wise and humane decree, issued in 1765, the Indians, and a large portion of Brazil, were declared free. Expedients were adopted to civilize them, and privileges were granted to the Portuguese who should contract marriage among them. Of course those great objects were not achieved without encountering serious difficulties. The pride of the idle aristocracy, the sleepless intriguing of the Jesuits, the ignorant enthusiasm of the people, and the sluggish supremacy of the priests, were all up in arms against him. But his principle was pure, his knowledge sound, and his resolution decided. Above all, he had, in the person of the king, a man of strong mind, convinced of the necessities of change, and determined to sustain the minister. The reforms soon vindicated themselves by the public prosperity; and Pombal exercised all the powers of a despotic sovereign, in the benevolent spirit of a regenerator of his country.
But a tremendous physical calamity was now about to put to the test at once the fortitude of this great minister, and the resources of Portugal.
On the morning of All-Saints' day, the 1st of November 1755, Lisbon was almost torn up from the foundations by the most terrible earthquake on European record. As it was a high Romish festival, the population were crowding to the churches, which were lighted up in honour of the day. About a quarter before ten the first shock was felt, which lasted the extraordinary length of six or seven minutes; then followed an interval of about five minutes, after which the shock was renewed, lasting about three minutes. The concussions were so violent in both instances that nearly all the solid buildings were dashed to the ground, and the principal part of the city almost wholly ruined. The terror of the population, rushing through the falling streets, gathered in the churches, or madly attempting to escape into the fields, may be imagined; but the whole scene of horror, death, and ruin, exceeds all description. The ground split into chasms, into which the people were plunged in their fright. Crowds fled to the water; but the Tagus, agitated like the land, suddenly rose to an extraordinary height, burst upon the land, and swept away all within its reach. It was said to have risen to the height of five-and-twenty or thirty feet above its usual level, and to have sunk again as much below it. And this phenomenon occurred four times.
The despatch from the British consul stated, that the especial force of the earthquake seemed to be directly under the city; for while Lisbon was lifted from the ground, as if by the explosion of a gunpowder mine, the damage either above or below was not so considerable. One of the principal quays, to which it was said that many people had crowded for safety, was plunged under the Tagus, and totally disappeared. Ships were carried down by the shock on the river, dashes to pieces against each other, or flung upon the shore. To complete the catastrophe, fires broke out in the ruins, which spread over the face of the city, burned for five or six days, and reduced all the goods and property of the people to ashes. For forty days the shocks continued with more or less violence, but they had now nothing left to destroy. The people were thus kept in a constant state of alarm, and forced to encamp in the open fields, though it was now winter. The royal family were encamped in the gardens of the palace; and, as in all the elements of society had been shaken together, Lisbon and its vicinity became the place of gathering for banditti from all quarters in the kingdom. A number of Spanish deserters made their way to the city, and robberies and murders of the most desperate kind were constantly perpetrated.
During this awful period, the whole weight of government fell upon the shoulders of the minister; and he bore it well. He adopted the most active measures for provisioning the city, for repressing plunder and violence, and for enabling the population to support themselves during this period of suffering. It was calculated that seven millions sterling could scarcely repair the damage of the city; and that not less than eighty thousand lives had been lost, either crushed by the earth or swallowed up by the waters. Some conception of the native mortality may be formed from that of the English: of the comparatively small number of whom, resident at that time in Lisbon, no less than twenty-eight men and fifty women were among the sufferers.
The royal family were at the palace of Belem when this tremendous calamity occurred. Pombal instantly hastened there. He found every one in consternation. "What is to be done," exclaimed the king, as he entered "to meet this infliction of divine justice?" The calm and resolute answer of Pombal was—"Bury the dead, and feed the living." This sentence is still recorded, with honour, in the memory of Portugal.
The minister then threw himself into his carriage, and returned to the ruins. For several days his only habitation was his carriage; and from it he continued to issue regulations for the public security. Those regulations amounted to the remarkable number of two hundred; and embraced all the topics of police, provisions, and the burial of the sufferers. Among those regulations was the singular, but sagacious one, of prohibiting all persons from leaving the city without a passport. By this, those who had robbed the people, or plundered the church plate, were prevented from escaping to the country and hiding their plunder, and consequently were obliged to abandon, or to restore it. But every shape of public duty was met by this vigorous and intelligent minister. He provided for the cure of the wounded, the habitancy of the houseless, the provision of the destitute. He brought troops from the provinces for the protection of the capital, he forced the idlers to work, he collected the inmates of the ruined religious houses, he removed the ruins of the streets, buried the dead, and restored the services of the national religion.
Another task subsequently awaited him—the rebuilding of the city. He began boldly; and all that Lisbon now has of beauty is due to the taste and energy of Pombal. He built noble squares. He did more: he built the more important fabric of public sewers in the new streets, and he laid out a public garden for the popular recreation. But he found, as Wren found, even in England, the infinite difficulty of opposing private interest, even in public objects; and Lisbon lost the opportunity of being the most picturesque and stately of European cities. One project, which would have been at once of the highest beauty and of the highest benefit—a terrace along the shore of the Tagus from Santa Apollonia to Belem, a distance of nearly six miles, which would have formed the finest promenade in the world—he was either forced to give up or to delay, until its execution was hopeless. It was never even begun.
The vigour of Pombal's administration raised bitter enemies to him among those who had lived on the abuses of government, or the plunder of the people. The Jesuits hated alike the king and his minister. They even declared the earthquake to have been a divine judgment for the sins of the administration. But they were rash enough, in the intemperance of their zeal, to threaten a repetition of the earthquake at the same time next year. When the destined day came, Pombal planted strong guards at the city gates, to prevent the panic of the people in rushing into the country. The earthquake did not fulfil the promise; and the people first laughed at themselves, and then at the Jesuits. The laugh had important results in time.
There are few things more remarkable in diplomatic history, than the long connexion of Portugal with England. It arose naturally from the commerce of the two nations—Portugal, already the most adventurous of nations, and England, growing in commercial enterprise. The advantages were mutual. In the year 1367, we have a Portuguese treaty stipulating for protection to the Portuguese traders in England. In 1382, a royal order of Richard II. permits the Portuguese ambassador to bring his baggage into England free of duty—perhaps one of the earliest instances of a custom which marked the progress of civilization, and which has since been generally adopted throughout all civilized nations. A decree of Henry IV., in 1405, exonerates the Portuguese resident in England, and their ships, from being made responsible for the debts contracted by their ambassadors. In 1656, the important privilege was conceded to the English in Portugal, of being exempted from the native jurisdiction, and being tried by a judge appointed by England. This, in our days, might be an inadmissible privilege; but two centuries ago, in the disturbed condition of the Portuguese laws and general society, it might have been necessary for the simple protection of the strangers.
The theories of domestic manufactures and free trade have lately occupied so large a portion of public interest, that it is curious to see in what light they were regarded by a statesman so far in advance of his age as Pombal. The minister's theory is in striking contradiction to his practice. He evidently approved of monopoly and prohibitions, but he exercised neither the one nor the other—nature and necessity were too strong against him. We are, however, to recollect, that the language of complaint was popular in Portugal, as it always will be in a poor country, and that the minister who would be popular must adopt the language of complaint. In an eloquent and almost impassioned memoir by Pombal, he mourns over the poverty of his country, and hastily imputes it to the predominance of English commerce. He tells us that, in the middle of the eighteenth century, Portugal scarcely produced any thing towards her own support. Two thirds of her physical necessities were supplied from England. He complains that England had become mistress of the entire commerce of Portugal, and in fact that the Portuguese trade was only an English trade; that the English were the furnishers and retailers of all the necessaries of life throughout the country, and that the Portuguese had nothing to do but look on; that Cromwell, by the treaty which allowed the supply of Portugal with English cloths to the amount of two million sterling, had utterly impoverished the country; and in short, that the weakness and incapacity of Portugal, as an European state, were wholly owing, to her being destitute of trade, and that the destitution was wholly owing to her being overwhelmed by English commodities.
We are not about to enter into detail upon this subject, but it is to be remembered, that Portugal obtained the cloth, even if she paid for it, cheaper from England than she could have done from any other country in Europe; that she had no means of making the cloth for herself, and that, after all, man must be clothed. Portugal, without flocks or fire, without coals or capital, could never have manufactured cloth enough to cover the tenth part of her population, at ten times the expense. This has occurred in later days, and in more opulent countries. We remember, in the reign of the Emperor Paul, when he was frantic enough to declare war against England, a pair of broadcloth pantaloons costing seven guineas in St Peterburg. This would have been severe work for the purse of a Portuguese peasant a hundred years ago. The plain fact of domestic manufactures being this, that no folly can be more foolish than to attempt to form them where the means and the country do not give them a natural superiority. For example, coals and iron are essential to the product of all works in metal. France has neither. How can she, therefore, contest the superiority of our hardware? She contests it simply by doing without it, and by putting up with the most intolerable cutlery that the world has ever seen. If, where manufactures are already established, however ineffectual, it may become a question with the government whether some privations must not be submitted to by the people in general, rather than precipitate those unlucky manufactures into ruin; there can be no question whatever on the subject where manufactures have not been hitherto established. Let the people go to the best market, let no attempt be made to force nature, and let no money be wasted on the worst article got by the worst means. One thing, however, is quite clear with respect to Portugal, that, by the English alliance, she has gained what is worth all the manufactures of Europe—independence. When, in 1640, she threw off the Spanish usurpation, and placed the Braganza family on the national throne, she threw herself on the protection of England; and that protection never has failed her to this hour. In the Spanish invasion of Portugal in 1762, England sent her ten thousand men, and the first officer of his day, Count La Lippe, who, notwithstanding his German name, was an Englishman born, and had commenced his service in the Guards. The Spaniards were beaten in all directions, and Portugal was included in the treaty of Fontainbleau in 1763. The deliverance of Portugal in the Peninsular war is too recent to be forgotten, and too memorable to be spoken of here as it deserves. And to understand the full value of this assistance, we are to recollect, that Portugal is one of the smallest kingdoms of Europe, and at the same time the most exposed; that its whole land frontier is open to Spain, and its whole sea frontier is open to France; that its chief produce is wine and oranges, and that England is incomparably its best customer for both.
Pombal, in his memoir, imputes a portion of the poverty of Portugal to her possession of the gold mines of Brazil. This is one of the paradoxes of the last century; but nations are only aggregates of men, and what makes an individual rich, cannot make a nation poor. The true secret is this—that while the possession of the gold mines induced an indolent government to rely upon them for the expenses of the state, that reliance led them to abandon sources of profit in the agriculture and commerce of the country, which were of ten times the value. This was equally the case in Spain. The first influx from the mines of Peru, enabled the government to disregard the revenues arising from the industry of the people. In consequence of the want of encouragement from the government, the agriculture and commerce of Spain sank rapidly into the lowest condition, whilst the government indolently lived on the produce of the mines. But the more gold and silver exist in circulation, the less becomes their value. Within half a century, the imports from the Spanish and Portuguese mines, had reduced the value of the precious metals by one half; and those imports thus became inadequate to the ordinary expenses of government. Greater efforts were then made to obtain them from the mines. Still, as the more that was obtained the less was the general value, the operation became more profitless still; and at length both Spain and Portugal were reduced to borrow money, which they had no means to pay—in other words, were bankrupt. And this is the true solution of the problem—why have the gold and silver mines of the Peninsula left them the poorest nations of Europe? Yet this was contrary to the operation of new wealth. The discovery of the mines of the New World appears to have been a part of that providential plan, by which a general impulse was communicated to Europe in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Europe was preparing for a new vigour of religion, politics, commerce, and civilization. Nothing stimulates national effort of every kind with so much power and rapidity, as a new general accession of wealth, or, as the political economist would pronounce it, a rise of wages, whether industrial or intellectual; and this rise was effected by the new influx of the mines. If Peru and Mexico had belonged to England, she would have converted their treasures into new canals and high-roads, new harbours, new encouragements to agriculture, new excitements to public education, new enterprises of commerce, or the colonization of new countries in the productive regions of the globe; and thus she would at once have increased her natural opulence, and saved herself from suffering under the depreciation of the precious metals, or more partially, by her active employment of them, have almost wholly prevented that depreciation. But the Peninsula, relying wholly on its imported wealth, and neglecting its infinitely more important national riches, was exactly in the condition of an individual, who spends the principal of his property, which is continually sinking until it is extinguished altogether.