CHAMBERS' EDINBURGH JOURNAL
CONDUCTED BY WILLIAM AND ROBERT CHAMBERS, EDITORS OF 'CHAMBERS'S INFORMATION FOR THE PEOPLE,' 'CHAMBERS'S EDUCATIONAL COURSE,' &c.
NO. 429. NEW SERIES. SATURDAY, MARCH 20, 1852. PRICE 1-1/2d.
THINGS IN EXPECTATION.
The passing age is acknowledged to be remarkable in various respects. Great advances in matters of practical science; a vast development of individual enterprise, and general prosperity;—at the same time, strange retardations in things of social concern; a singular want of earnestness in carrying out objects of undeniable utility. Much grandeur, but also much meanness of conception; much wealth, but also much poverty. A struggle between greatness and littleness; intelligence and ignorance; light and darkness. Sometimes we feel as if going forward, sometimes as if backward. One day, we seem as if about to start a hundred years in advance; on the next, all is wrong somewhere, and we feel as if hurriedly retreating to the eighteenth century!
Upon the whole, however, we are ourselves inclined to look at the bright side of affairs; and in doing so, we are not without hope of being able to make some proselytes. Let us just see what are the prospects of the next twenty years—a long enough space for a man to look forward to in anything else than a dream. War, it is true, may intervene, or some other terrible catastrophe; but we shall not admit this into our hypothesis, which proceeds on the assumption, that although people may wrangle here and there, and here and there fly at each other's throats, still the bulk of civilised mankind will go on tranquilly enough to present no direct barrier to the advancing tide. Here is a list of a few trifles in expectation.
A line of communication by railway from England to the principal cities in India, interrupted only by narrow sea-channels, and these bridged by steamboats. It will then be possible to travel from London to Calcutta in a week.
At the same time, there will be railways to other parts of Asia—Ispahan, Bagdad, Damascus, and Jerusalem. From the last-mentioned city, a line will probably proceed through the land of Edom, to Suez and Cairo; thence to Alexandria. This last portion is already in hand. Think of a railway station in the Valley of Jehoshaphat! As the course of the Jordan presents few 'engineering difficulties,' there might be a single line all the way from Nazareth to the Dead Sea, on which a steamer might take passengers to the neighbourhood of Petra. At a point near the shore of that mysterious sheet of water, a late traveller indicates the spot where Lot's wife was transformed into a pillar of salt. How interesting it would be to make this a stopping-place for tourists to view the adjacent scenery—rocky, wild, and scorched, as if fresh from the wondrous work of devastation!
It cannot be doubted that in a period much short of twenty years, railways will have penetrated from Berlin northwards to Russia; and therefore a communication of this kind through the whole of Europe, even to the shores of the Indian Ocean, will be among the ordinary things of the day.
As for communication by electric telegraph, where will it not be? Every town of any importance, from Moscow to Madras, will be connected by the marvellous wires. These wires will cross seas; they will reach from London to New York, and from New York to far-western cities—possibly to California. The sending of messages thousands of miles, in the twinkling of an eye, will be an everyday affair. 'Send Dr So-and-so on by the next train,' will be the order despatched by a family in Calcutta, when requiring medical assistance from London; and accordingly the doctor will set off in his travels per express, from the Thames to the banks of the Ganges. Spanning the globe by thought will then be no longer a figure of speech—it will be a reality. Science will do it all.
Long before twenty years—most likely in two or three—a journey round the world by steam may be achieved with comparative ease and at no great expense. Here is the way we shall go: London to Liverpool by rail; Liverpool to Chagres by steamer; Chagres to Panama by rail; Panama to Hong-Kong, touching at St Francisco; Hong-Kong to Sincapore, whence, if you have a fancy, you can diverge to Borneo, Australia, and New Zealand; Sincapore to Madras, Bombay, Aden, and Suez—the whole of the run to this point from Panama being done by steamer; Suez to Cairo, and Cairo to Alexandria (rail in preparation); lastly, by steamer from Alexandria to England. It is deeply interesting to watch the progress of intrusion on the Pacific. Already, within these few years, its placid surface has been tracked with steam-navigation; of which almost every day brings us accounts of the extension over that beautiful ocean. Long secluded, by difficulty of access from Europe, it is now in the course of being effectually opened up by the railway across the Isthmus of Panama. And the grandeur of this invasion by steam is beyond the reach of imagination. Thousands of islands, clothed in gorgeous yet delicate vegetation, and enjoying the finest climate, lie scattered like diamonds in a sea on which storms never rage—each in itself an earthly paradise. When these islands can be reached at a moderate outlay of time, money, and trouble, may we not expect to see them visited by the curious, and flourishing as seats of civilised existence? There is reason to believe, that the equable climate of many of them would prove suitable for persons affected with the complaints of northern regions; and therefore they may become the Sanatoria of Europe. 'Gone to winter-quarters in the Pacific!'—a pleasant notice this of a health-seeking trip twenty years hence.
It may be reasonably conjectured, that this great and varied extension of journeying round the earth, and in all climates, will not be unaided by new discoveries in motive power. At present, we speak of steam; but there is every probability of new agents being brought into operation, less bulky and less costly, before twenty years elapse. Even while we write, men of science are painfully poring over the subject, and giving indications that in chemistry or electricity reside powers which may be advantageously pressed into the service of the traveller. Admitting, however, that steam will be retained as the prevailing agent of locomotion, we have grounds for anticipating improvements in its application, which will materially cheapen its use. As regards safety to life and limb, much will be done by better arrangements. In steam-voyaging, we may expect that means will be adopted to avert, or at least assuage, the terrible calamities of conflagration and shipwreck—better acquaintance with the principles of spontaneous combustion, and with the natural law of storms, being of itself a great step towards this important result.
One of the latest wonders in practical science, is a plan for cooling the air in dwellings in hot climates; by which persons residing in India, and other oppressively warm countries, may live habitually in an atmosphere cooled down to 60 degrees Fahrenheit, or the ordinary heat of a pleasant day in England. The very ingenious yet simple means by which this is to be effected, will form the subject of notice in our next number. Meanwhile, we may observe that the discovery is due to Mr C. Piazzi Smyth, astronomer-royal for Scotland; and if perfectly successful in practice, of which there can be no reasonable doubt, it will have a most important effect in extending European influence over the globe.
The extension of the English language over the civilised world is a curiosity of the age. French, German, Italian, and other continental tongues, seem to have attained their limits as vernaculars. Each is spoken in its own country, and by a few fashionables and scholars beyond. But the language which pushes abroad is the English; and it may be said to be rooting out colonised French and Spanish, and becoming almost everywhere, beyond continental Europe, the spoken and written tongue. Long the Spanish enjoyed the supremacy in Central America; but it has followed the fate of the idle, proud, combative, and good-for-nothing people who carried it across the Atlantic, and is disappearing like snow before the sun of a genial spring. The sooner it is extinct the better. Already the English is the vernacular from the shores of the Atlantic to the Pacific, wherever civilised settlements are formed. As large a population now speaks this nervous language in America as in Great Britain; and this is only an indication of its progress. By means of a rapidly-increasing population, the English language will in twenty years be spoken by upwards of fifty million Americans; and if to these we add all within the home and colonial dominion, the number speaking it at that period will not be short of a hundred millions. What an amount of letter-writing and printing will this produce! And, after all, how small that amount in comparison with what will be seen a hundred years hence, when many hundred millions of men are on the earth, English in speech and feeling, whatever may be their local and political distinctions! The gratification which one experiences in contemplating facts of this kind, transcends the power of language. To all appearance, our English tongue is the expression of civil and religious freedom—in fact, of common sense; and its spread over the globe surely indicates the progress of civilised habits and institutions.
In referring to the qualities which are usually found in connection with the prevalence of English as a vernacular, we are led to anticipate prodigious strides in the popularising of literature during the next twenty years. What, also, may we not expect to see done for the extension of epistolary correspondence? Intercourse by letter has advanced only one step of its progress, by the system of inland penny-postage. Another step remains to be effected: the system of carrying letters oversea on the same easy terms. That this Ocean Penny-Postage, as it is termed, will be carried out, at least as regards the larger British colonies, within a period much under twenty years, is exceedingly probable. When this grand achievement is accomplished, there will ensue a stream of intercommunication with distant lands, of which we can at present form no proper conception, and which will go far towards binding all parts of the earth in a general bond of brotherhood.
Such are a few of the things which we may be said to be warranted in looking for within a reasonably short period of time. Other things, equally if not more contributive to human melioration, are less distinctly in expectation. The political prospects of the continental nations are for the present under a cloud. With all the glitter of artistic and social refinement that surrounds them, the bulk of them appear to have emerged but little beyond the middle ages; and one really begins to inquire, with a kind of pity, whether they have natural capacities for anything better. The near proximity to England of populations so backward in all ideas of civil polity, and so changeful and impulsive in their character, cannot but be detrimental to our hopes of national advancement among ourselves; so true is it that peace and happiness are not more matter of internal conviction than of external circumstances.
Unfortunately, if there be something to lament in the condition of our neighbours, there is also something to humiliate on turning our attention homeward. In a variety of things which are required to give symmetry and safety to the social fabric, there appears to be an almost systematic and hopeless stoppage.
Nearly the whole of the law and equity administration of England seems to be a contrivance to put justice beyond reach; and whether any substantial remedy will be applied during the present generation may be seriously doubted.
It is universally admitted that, for the sake of the public health, interment in London and other large cities should be legally prohibited; and that various other sanitary arrangements in relation to these populous localities should be enforced. Yet, legislation on this subject seems to be beyond the grasp of statesmen.
The system of poor-laws throughout the United Kingdom is, with the best intentions, a cause of widely-spread demoralisation. These laws, in their operation, are, in fact, a scheme for robbing the industrious to support the idle. But where is the legislator who will attack and remodel this preposterous system?
The prevention of crime is another of our formidable social difficulties. Every one sees how young and petty criminals grow up to be old and great ones. It is admitted that the punishment of crime, after disorderly habits are confirmed, is no sufficient check; and that, if the evil is to be cured, we must go at once to its root. But when or how is this to be done? Again, there is a call for that scarcest of all things—statesmanship.
The bitterness of sectarian contention is another of the things which one feels to be derogatory to an age of general progress. No longer are men permitted to kill each other in vindication of opinion, but how mournful to witness persecution by inuendo, vituperation, and even falsehood. Individuals and classes are seen bombarding each other in vile, abusive, and certainly most unchristian language, all ostensibly in the name of a religion which has for a fundamental principle, an utter repudiation of strife! Whether any amendment is to be looked for in this department of affairs within the next twenty years is exceedingly uncertain.
In the roll of disheartening circumstances in our social condition, it would be unpardonable to omit the enormities of intemperance, which, though groaned over day after day, remain pretty much what they have been for years; and it is to be feared, that so long as reformers confine themselves to attacking mere symptoms, instead of going to the foundation of the evil—a deficiency of self-respect, growing out of a want of instruction in things proper to be known, and for which the education of the country makes no provision—all will be in vain. How far there will prevail a more enlarged view of this painful subject, is not discoverable from the present temper of parties.
The legislative conservation of ignorance in the humbler classes of the community, to which reference has just been made, is surely a blot on our social economy. It is seemingly easier to girdle the globe with a wire, than to make sure that every child in Her Majesty's dominions shall receive the simplest elements of education. Within the sphere of the mechanic or the chemist, flights beyond the bounds of imagination may be pursued without restraint, and indeed with commendation; but anything in social economics, however philanthropic in design and beneficial in tendency, falls into the category of disputation and obstruction; and, worst of all, education, on which so much depends, is, through the debates of contending 'interests,' kept at a point utterly inadequate for the general enlightenment and wellbeing.
Thus, many matters of moment are either at a stand, or advancing by feeble and hesitating steps, and the distance to be ultimately reached remains vague and undefinable. At the same time, it is well to be assured that improvements, moral and social, are really in progress; and that, on the whole, society is on the move not in a retrograde direction. Even with a stone tied to its leg, the world, as we have said, contrives 'to get on some way or other.'
On a certain part of the coast of Brittany, some years back, a gang of wreckers existed, who were the terror of all sailors. Ever on the look-out for the unfortunate vessels, which were continually dashed upon their inhospitable shores, their delight was in the storm and the blast; they revelled in the howling of fierce wind, and the lightning's glare was to them more delightful than the brightest show of fireworks to the dweller in large towns. Then they came out in droves, hung about the cliffs and rocks, hid in caverns and holes, and waited with intense anxiety for the welcome sight of some gallant ship in distress. So dreadful were the passions lit up in these men by the love of lucre, that they even resorted to infamous stratagems to lure vessels on shore. They would light false beacons; and strive in every way to delude the devoted bark to its destruction.
The village of Montreaux was almost wholly inhabited by men, who made wrecking their profession. It was a collection of miserable huts, built principally out of the broken materials of the various vessels driven on shore; and ostensibly inhabited by fishermen, who, however, rarely resorted to the deep, except when a long continuance of fine weather rendered their usual avocation less prosperous than usual. They consisted in all of about thirty families, wreckers, for the most part, from father to son, and even from mother to daughter—for women joined freely in the atrocious trade. Atrocious indeed! for murder necessarily accompanied pillage, and it rarely happened that many of the crew and passengers of the unfortunate vessels escaped alive. Bodies were indeed found along the shore; but even if they exhibited the marks of blows, the sea and the rocks got the credit of the deed.
The interior of the huts of the hamlet presented a motley appearance. Their denizens were usually clothed in all kinds of costume—from the peculiar garments of Englishmen, to the turbans, shawls, and petticoats of Lascars, Malays, and others. Cases of spirits, chests of tools, barrels of flour, piles of hams, cheeses, curious arms, spy-glasses, compasses, &c. were thrust into coffers and corners; while all the villagers were in the habit of spending money that certainly was not coined in France. The state of the good people of Montreaux was one of splendid misery; for, with all their ill-gotten wealth, their improvidence and carelessness was such, that they often wanted necessaries—so true is it that ill-got money is never well-spent money. A month of fine weather would almost reduce them to starvation, forcing them to sell to disadvantage whatever they still possessed.
This was not, however, the case with every one of them. A man dwelt among them, and had done so for many years, who seemed a little wiser and more careful than the rest of the community. His name was Pierre Sandeau. He was not a native of the place; but had long been established among them, and had at once shewn himself a worthy brother. He was pitiless, selfish, and cold. Less fiery than his fellows, he had an amount of caution, which made them feel his value; and a ready wit, which often helped them out of difficulties. His influence was soon felt, and he became a kind of chief. He was at last recognised as the head of the village, and the leader in all marauding expeditions. But the great source of his power was his foresight. He had always either money or provisions at hand, and was always ready to help one of his companions—for a consideration. In times of distress, he bought up all the stock on hand, and even sold on credit. In course of time, he had become rich, had a better house than the rest, and could, if he liked, have retired from business. But he seemed chained to his trade, and never gave any sign of abandoning his disgraceful occupation.
One day, however, he left Montreaux, and stayed away nearly a fortnight. When he came back, he was not alone: he was accompanied by a young and lovely girl—one of those energetic but sweet creatures, whose influence would be supreme with a good man. Madeleine Sandeau was eighteen—tall, well-proportioned, and exceedingly handsome; she was, moreover, educated. Her father had taken her from school, to bring her to his house, which, though so different from what she was used to, she presided over at once with ease and nature. Great was the horror of the young girl when she found out the character of the people around her. She remonstrated freely with her father as to the dreadful nature of his life; but the old man was cold and inexorable. 'He had brought her there to preside over his solitary house,' he said, 'and not to lecture him:' and Madeleine was forced to be silent.
She saw at once the utter futility of any attempt to civilise or humanise the degraded beings she associated with; and so she took to the children. With great difficulty, she formed a school, and made it her daily labour to instil not only words, but ideas and principles, into the minds of the young, unfledged wreckers. She gained the goodwill of the elders, by nursing both young and old during their hours of sickness, as well as by a slight knowledge of medicine, which she had picked up in a way she never explained, but which always made her silent and sad when she thought of it.
When a black and gloomy night came round, and the whole village was on foot, then Madeleine locked herself in her room, knelt down, and remained in prayer. Now and then she would creep to the window, look out, and interrogate the gloom. She never came forth to greet her father on his return from these expeditions. Her heart revolted even against seeing her parent under such circumstances, and towards morning she went to bed—rarely, however, to sleep.
On one occasion, after a cold and bitter day, the evening came on suddenly. Black clouds covered the horizon as with a funeral pall; the wind began to howl round the hamlet with fearful violence; and Madeleine shuddered, for she knew what was to be expected that night. Scarcely had the gale commenced, when Pierre rose, put on a thick pea-jacket and a sou'-wester, armed himself, and swallowing a glass of brandy, went out. He was the last to leave the village; all the rest had preceded him. He found them encamped in a narrow gorge, round a huge fire, carefully concealed behind some rocks. It was a cold, windy, wet night; but the wreckers cared not, for the wind blew dead on shore, and gave rich promise of reward for whatever they might endure.
A man lay on the look-out at the mouth of the gorge under a tarpaulin. He had a night-glass in his hand, with which he swept the dark horizon, for some time in vain. But the wind was too good to fail them, and the wreckers had patience.
It was really a terrible night. It was pitchy dark: not a star, nor one glimpse of the pale moon could be distinguished. The wind howled among the rocks, and cast the spray up with violence against the cliffs, which, however, in front of the gorge, gave way to a low sandy beach, forming the usual scene of the wreckers' operations. A current rushed into this narrow bight, and brought on shore numerous spars, boxes, and boats—all things welcome to these lawless men.
'A prize!' cried the look-out suddenly. 'A tall Indiaman is not more than a mile off shore. She is making desperate efforts to clear the point, but she won't do it. She is ours, lads!'
'Give me the glass!' exclaimed Pierre rising. The other gave him the telescope. 'Faith, a splendid brig!' said the patriarch with a sinister smile—'the finest windfall we have had for many a season. Jean, you must out with the cow, or perhaps it may escape us.'
The cow was an abominable invention which Pierre had taught his comrades. A cow was tied to a stake, and a huge ship's lantern fastened to its horns. This the animal tossed about in the hope of disengaging himself, and in so doing presented the appearance of a ship riding at anchor—all that could be seen on such nights being the moving light. By this means had many a ship been lured to destruction, in the vain hope of finding a safe anchoring-ground. The cow, which was always ready, was brought out, and the trick resorted to, after which the wreckers waited patiently for the result.
The Indiaman was evidently coming on shore, and all the efforts of her gallant crew seemed powerless to save her. Her almost naked masts, and her dark hull, with a couple of lanterns, could now plainly be distinguished as she rose and fell on the waters. Suddenly she seemed to become motionless, though quivering in every fibre, and then a huge wave washed clean over her decks.
'She has struck on the Mistral Rock,' said Pierre. 'Good! she will be in pieces in an hour, and every atom will come on shore!'
'They are putting out the boats,' observed Jean.
The wreckers clutched their weapons. If the crew landed in safety, their hopes were gone. But no crew had for many years landed in safety on that part of the coast: by some mysterious fatality, they had always perished.
Presently, three boats were observed pulling for the shore, and coming towards the sandy beach at the mouth of the gorge. They were evidently crammed full of people, and pulling all for one point. The boats approached: they were within fifty yards of the shore, and pulling still abreast. They had entered the narrow gut of water leading to the gorge, and were already out of reach of the huge waves, which a minute before threatened to submerge them. The wreckers extinguished the lantern on the cow's horn. There was no chance of the boats being able to put back to sea.
Suddenly a figure pushed through the crowd, and approached the fire near which Pierre Sandeau stood. It appeared to be one of the wreckers; but the voice, that almost whispered in the old man's ear, made him start.
'Father!' said Madeleine, in a low solemn voice, 'what are you about to do?'
'Fool! what want you here?' replied Pierre, amazed and angry at the same time.
'I come to prevent murder! Father, think what you are about to do? Here are fifty fellow-creatures coming in search of life and shelter, and you will give them death!'
'This is no place for you, Madeleine!' cried the other in a husky voice. 'Go home, girl, and let me never see you out again at night!'
'Away, Madeleine!—away!' said the crowd angrily.
'I will not away!—I will stay here to see you do your foul deed—to fix it on my mind, that day and night I may shout in your ears that ye are murderers! Father,' added she solemnly, 'imbrue your hands in the blood of one man to-night, and I am no child of yours. I will beg, I will crawl through the world on my hands, but never more will I eat the bread of crime!'
'Take her away, Pierre,' said one more ruffianly than the rest, 'or you may repent it.'
'Go, girl, go,' whispered Pierre faintly, while the wreckers moved in a body to the shore, where the boats were about to strike.
'Never!' shrieked Madeleine, clinging franticly to her father's clothes.
'Let me go!' cried Pierre, dragging her with him.
At that moment a terrible event interrupted their struggle. A man stood upright in the foremost boat, guiding their progress. Just as they were within two yards of the shore, this man saw the wreckers coming down in a body.
'As I expected!' he cried in a loud ringing voice. 'Fire!—shoot every one of the villains!'
A volley of small arms, within pistol-shot of the body of wreckers, was the unexpected greeting which these men received. A loud and terrible yell shewed the way in which the discharge had told. One-half of the pillagers fell on the stony beach, the other half fled.
Among those who remained was Madeleine. She was kneeling by her father, who had received several shots, and lay on the ground in agony.
'You were right, girl,' he groaned; 'I see it now, when it is too late, and I feel I have deserved it.'
'Better,' sobbed Madeleine, 'better be here, than have imbrued your hands in the blood of one of those miraculously-delivered sailors.'
'Say you so, woman?' said a loud voice near her. 'Then you are not one of the gang. I knew them of old, as well as their infernal cut-throat gorge, and pulled straight for it, but quite prepared to give them a warm reception.'
Madeleine looked up. She saw around her more than fifty men, three women, and some children. She shuddered again at the thought of the awful massacre which would have occurred but for the sailor's prudence.
'My good girl,' continued the man, 'we are cold, wet, and hungry; can you shew us to some shelter?'
'Yes; but do you bid some of your men carry my father, who, I fear, is dying.'
'It is no more than he merits,' replied the man; 'but for your sake I will have him taken care of.'
'It is what I merit,' said Pierre, in a strange and loud tone; 'but not from your hands, Jacques.'
'Merciful God!' cried the sailor, 'whose voice is that?'
'You will soon know; but do as your sister bids you, and then we can talk more at ease.'
Madeleine cast herself sobbing into her brother's arms, who, gently disengaging her, had a litter prepared for his father, and then, guided by Madeleine, the procession advanced on its way. An armed party marched at the head, and in a quarter of an hour the village of Montreaux was reached. It was entirely deserted. There were fires in the houses, and lamps lit, and even suppers prepared, but not a living thing. Even the children and old women on hearing the discharge of musketry, had fled to a cave where they sometimes took shelter when the coast-guard was sent in search of them.
The delighted sailors and passengers spread themselves through the village, took possession of the houses, ate the suppers, and slept in the beds, taking care, however, to place four sentries in well-concealed positions, for fear of a surprise. Madeleine, her father, her brother, the ship's surgeon, and a young lady passenger, came to the house of old Sandeau, who was put to bed, and his wounds dressed. He said nothing, but went to sleep, or feigned to do so.
Supper was then put upon the table, and the four persons above mentioned sat down, for a few minutes in silence. Jacques, the captain of the East-Indiaman, looked moody and thoughtful. He said not a word. Suddenly, however, he was roused by hearing the young surgeon of the Jeune Sophie speak.
'Madeleine,' said he, in a gentle but still much agitated tone of voice, 'how is it I find you here—you whom I left at St Omer?'
'Is this, then, the Madeleine you so often speak of?' cried the astonished sailor.
'It is. But speak, my dear friend.'
'Edouard, I am here because yonder is my father, and it is my duty to be where he is.'
'But why is your father here?' continued the other.
'I am here,' said the old man, fiercely turning round, 'because I am at war with the world. For a trifling error, I was dismissed the command of this very Jeune Sophie twelve years ago. I vowed revenge, and you see the kind of revenge I have selected.'
'Dear father,' said Madeleine gently, 'see what an escape you have had!'
'Besides,' interposed Jacques, 'there was no occasion for revenge. M. Ponceau, who had adopted me, searched for you far and wide, to give you another ship. They dismissed you in a moment of anger. They proved this, by giving me the command of the Jeune Sophie as soon as I could be trusted with it.'
'What is done is done,' said Pierre, 'and I am a wrecker! I have done wrong, but I am punished. Jacques, my boy, take away Madeleine; I see this life is not fit for her. If I recover, I shall remain, and become the trader of the village'——
'No, father, you must come with us,' observed Jacques sadly. 'You and I and Madeleine will find some quiet spot, where none will know of the past, and where we ourselves may learn to forget. I have already saved enough to support us.'
'And your wife, sir?' said the young lady, who had not hitherto spoken.
'Leonie, you can never marry me now. You are no fit mate for the son of a wrecker.'
'Jacques,' interposed the young surgeon, 'neither you nor Madeleine has any right to suffer for the errors of your father. I made the acquaintance of your sister at my aunt's school in St Omer. I loved her; and before I started on this journey, I had from her a half-promise, which I now call upon her to fulfil.'
'What say you, Madeleine?' said Jacques gravely.
'That I can never give my hand to a man whom I love too well to dishonour.'
'Madeleine, you are right, and you are a noble girl!' replied her brother.
'Children,' said the old man, with a groan, 'I see my crime now in its full hideousness; but I can at least repair part of the evil done. Now, listen to me. Let me see you follow the bent of your hearts, and be happy, and I will go where you will, for you will have forgiven your father. Refuse to do so, and I remain here—once a wrecker, always a wrecker. Come, decide!'
Madeleine held out her hand to Edouard, and Jacques to Leonie, his friend's sister, returning from the colony where her parents had died. The old man shut his eyes, and remained silent the rest of the evening.
Next day, conveyances were obtained from a neighbouring town, and the crew and passengers departed. The reunited friends remained at Montreaux, awaiting the recovery of Pierre, Jacques excepted, he being forced to go to Havre, to explain events to his owners. In ten days he returned. Old Sandeau was now able to be removed; and the whole party left Montreaux, which was then stripped by its owners, and deserted.
The family went to Havre. The father's savings as a captain had been considerable. United with those of Jacques, they proved sufficient to take a house, furnish it, and start both young couples in life. Edouard set up as a surgeon in Havre, his brother-in-law was admitted as junior partner into the house of Ponceau, and from that day all prospered with them. Old Sandeau did not live long. He was crushed under the weight of his terrible past; and his deathbed was full of horror and remorse.
 This legend is still told by the peasants of Brittany, who point out the site of Montreaux.
LOWELL MECHANICS' FAIR.
There are very few places in the world that bear the mark of progress so strongly as this town, destined, beyond all doubt, to be the Manchester of the United States, and to enter—indeed it is now entering—into active rivalry with the Old Country in her staple manufactures, cottons and woollens. In the year 1821, few visited the small, quiet village, of about 200 inhabitants, situated in a mountain-nook at a bend of the Merrimac, at a point where that stream fell in a natural cascade, tumbling and gushing over its rocky, shallow bed, quite unconscious of the part it was to play in the world's affairs. This village was twenty-five miles north-west of Boston, not on a high-road leading anywhere; but, nevertheless, it began to move on, as usual, by the erection of a saw-mill, as at that point it was found convenient to arrest the downward progress of the timber, and convert it into plank. And so it went on, and on, step by step, till it became the splendid town it is, so large as to have two railway depots: one in the suburbs, and the principal one in the centre of the town—for the Yankees think the closer their railways are to the town the better.
Lowell now covers five square miles, with handsome, straight streets; the principal one, Merrimac Street, being a mile and a half in length, and about sixty feet wide, with footways twelve feet wide, and rows of trees between them and the road. The appearance of this street reminds the spectator of the best in France. The loom-power of a manufacturing place, I understand, is estimated by the number of spindles, and this works 350,000; the mills employ 14,000 males, and 10,000 females; the number of inhabitants reckoned stationary, 12,000. It has lately been raised to the dignity of a city by a charter of incorporation, which, in the state of Massachusetts, can be claimed by any town when the number of its inhabitants amounts to 10,000: thus it appoints its officers, and manages its own affairs, as a body corporate and municipal.
The most striking feature of the social system here, is the condition of the mill-workers, of which, as it is so different from ours, I shall give you some particulars. The corporation of Lowell has built streets of convenient houses, for the accommodation of the workmen; and nine-tenths of these are occupied by the unmarried. These houses are farmed by the corporation to elderly females, whose characters must bear the strictest investigation, and at a rent just paying a low rate of interest for the outlay. They carry on the business under strict rules, which limit the numbers, and determine the accommodation of the inmates, two of whom sleep in one room. Females, whose wages are 12s. per week, pay 6s. 6d. per week for board and lodging; for males, the wages and cost of board are about 15 per cent. higher. These females are housed, fed, and dressed as well as the wives and daughters of any tradesman in Edinburgh or London. The hours of work at the mills leave them leisure; which some spend in fancy needle-work, so as to increase their income; and all, by arrangements among themselves, have access to good libraries. The amusements are balls, reading-rooms, lectures, and concerts; indeed, all the means of intellectual cultivation are placed within their reach, and full advantage is taken of them. There is an ambition to save money, which they nearly all do; those in superior situations, such as overlookers, have considerable sums in the savings-banks established by the companies owning the mills; the workers in each mill thus putting their weekly savings into the concern, from which they receive interest in money, and so having an interest in the well-doing of the mill itself, and a bond of attachment to its proprietors. In this manner, the capital of all is constantly at work, and provision is made for a possible slackness, which, however, has not yet befallen Lowell.
To this place, it is no longer a toilsome journey from Boston. Three-quarters of an hour, in a very commodious railway-carriage, brought me into the centre of the town, when a most interesting sight presented itself. The railway had been pouring in for the occasion upwards of 20,000 persons; and in the streets, all was bustle and harmony; thousands of well-dressed persons—some of the females elegantly so—moving in throngs here and there, all bearing the tokens of comfort and respectability. The occasion of the gathering is called the Mechanics' Fair, held for a fortnight, during some days of which all mill-work is suspended; the attraction consisting of a horticultural and cattle show, and an exhibition of the products of art and manufactures of the county, which is Middlesex.
The horticultural show was in the Town-hall, a large, handsome apartment, with long aisles of tables, covered with piles of fruits and vegetables; and such fruits! peaches, nectarines, apricots, and the choicest plums, all of open-air growth, and not surpassed by any I have seen—fully equal to the best hot-house productions of England. Vegetables also very fine, all equal to the finest, except the turnip, which in New England is small. The flowers as beautiful as in the Old Country, but much smaller; consequently, that part of the show was much inferior to our shows of the kind. In the evening of each day, the fruits are put up to auction, and a good deal of merriment is caused by this part of the entertainment. Those who supply the show are well paid, as each morning there is a fresh supply; thus proving that it is not the selected few that are exhibited, but the average produce of the county.
From thence I walked to the show of products of industry. I found a building 600 feet in length, 40 feet wide, and two storeys high, crammed with such a variety of articles that it is extremely difficult to describe them, or, indeed, to reduce them to order in the mind. I do not propose to send you a catalogue, but to convey, as far as I can, the impression made upon me. The ground-floor is devoted to the exhibition of agricultural implements and machinery. I have no intention to enter into the question of our own patent laws, but I cannot refuse to acknowledge the superiority of the arrangements here. The greatest advantage is, that the right to an invention is so simply, cheaply, and easily secured, that there is no filching or ill-feeling. Talking with a very intelligent person, who was kindly trying to give me definite ideas in this labyrinth of cranks and wheels, by shewing and explaining to me the movements of a most singular machine for making carding implements—I said: 'How is it, that with these wonders, the American portion of the Crystal Palace in London should have been so scant? Here is enough for almost an indefinite supply: the reaping-machine is but a unit.' 'True,' he replied, 'but we could get no guarantee for securing the patents; and if one man was simple enough to give the English his reaping-machine, it did not suit others to be robbed. We have little ambition about the matter: satisfied with what we have, we cannot afford to give away inventions for the sake of fine words.' This explained the whole to me.
The first store I looked over in this country was one in Boston, having an immense stock of agricultural implements, and tools for every mechanical purpose. I should know something of such matters, having whistled at the plough myself, and used most of the implements; and being therefore curious on the point, I looked in for the sake of old associations. I am positive that every article for agricultural and mechanical use is better made than with us, and more adapted to its purpose—tools especially. What has been said of the plough in London, is equally true of all other implements in use in America, from the most complicated to the most simple. The Englishman uses what his fathers used; the American will have the tool best adapted, whether existing before his time or not. In favour of this superiority in tools is the fine quality of the hard-woods used here. At the Fair I saw some coach and chaise wheels, of the most beautiful make, of hickory, which is as durable as metal-spokes, not thicker than the middle finger, but strong enough for any required weight, and with great flexibility; and from its extreme toughness, calculated for the woodwork of implements. The apartment on the ground-floor was entirely occupied by machines in motion, and each was attended by a person who explained, with the greatest civility and intelligence, the uses of the various parts of the machine, setting it going, or stopping it, as necessary: each had its crowd of listeners; and I could not but admire the patience and politeness of the lecturer, as he endeavoured to explain the wondrous capabilities of his own pet machine. It would require a volume to follow the subject thoroughly; but I will mention what appeared to be the newest inventions, or those not known in England.
A crowd of ladies were watching with great attention the Sewing-machine—sewing away with the greatest exactness, and much stronger than by the ordinary mode with a needle, as each stitch is a knot. The inventor was shewing it; and he said he had nearly completed a machine for the button-holes. The next was a machine called 'The Man'—and truly named, for a more marvellous production can scarcely be conceived—for making implements for carding wool or cotton, the article passing in as raw wire, going through before our eyes four processes of the most delicate description, and finally coming out a perfect card, with its wire-teeth exactly set, and ready for use. My attention was drawn to the application of the Jacquard principle to a loom engaged in weaving a calico fabric, of various colours woven with a pattern, and thus producing an elegant article, thick, and well adapted for bed-furniture. But the most curious and simple, and withal, perhaps, the most important invention for facilitating manufactures, is what is called the 'Turpin Wheel,' taking its name from the inventor. How simple may be the birth of a great idea! We all observe that a log under a waterfall, coming down perpendicularly upon it, spins round, as on an axis, till it escapes. This led to the invention in question. The water falls upon the spokes of a horizontal wheel, which it sends round with great velocity; and by this contrivance the force of the water is more than doubled. I must not omit to mention the machine just invented for weaving the fabric we call Brussels carpeting. This machine will weave twenty yards of carpeting per day, with one female to attend it. The carpet is worth 3s. per yard, while the wages paid for human aid in its production is 1-1/4d. per yard: machinery can go little further. Let me add, that I was informed that everything on this floor was the invention of working-men.
Upon ascending to the first floor, I found the apartment arranged with stands—each stand devoted to one sort of manufacture—and attended, as below, by an intelligent person, to shew and explain. Here was every description of furniture, cotton, and woollen fabric; but neither velvets nor silks, which have not, as yet, been introduced. We know so much of our doings in England in the woollen and cotton line, that my attention was principally attracted to these specimens. Here was everything except the broad-cloths—all the patterns of plaid-shawls, so beautifully imitated and executed, that they would, I am sure, pass in Edinburgh. I saw the kerseymere fabric that obtained the prize in London, and nothing could be more beautiful; for the calicoes, I believe we cannot produce them cheaper or better. A writer in a journal here, observes: 'Why should our cotton go to England to be spun when we can spin it in Massachusetts?' A very pertinent question, well worth thinking of at home. We should be thankful to the projectors of the Crystal Palace, that it has opened our eyes, for nothing else could. There is no manner of doubt, that we can learn something beyond yacht-sailing; but we shall not open our eyes to the widest until the arrival in our market of the first cargo of manufactured woollens and cottons; and as surely as we have barrels of flour and pork, we shall soon find them with us: I saw first-rate calico, which could be sold at 2d. per yard.
The exports of manufactured goods from this country to all parts of the world is increasing weekly; but of all that another time, for I am carefully collecting information. One stand I would not omit, as it furnished evidence of the condition of the operatives. The exhibition is managed by the mechanics themselves, and the profits are devoted to the support of a mechanics' institute, with the usual advantages of library, balls, and concerts, but of a very superior order; while every female who provides any article of her own production for exhibition and sale, has a free ticket admitting to all the advantages of the institution. This is found a useful stimulus, as the stand for those articles testified, consisting as they did of all descriptions of fancy-work: rugs, chair-bottoms, table-covers, tapestry, &c. produced in overhours, tasteful in design, and beautiful in execution. Let me not forget an invention, which is as great a boon to sufferers as the water-bed: it is a contrivance applied to an ordinary bedstead, which, by turning a handle, will support any part of the body, or place the body in any required position. It was the invention of a mechanic, who was nine months in bed in consequence of an accident, and felt the want of something of the kind. It is adapted to a bedstead at a cost of L.3.
From thence I went to the cattle-show. I could see but little of that, as most of the animals were gone; but I was assured it was very fine. I believe it, if what I saw was a specimen—a pair of working oxen, perfectly white, the pair weighing 7000 pounds. In our cattle-shows at home, we find plenty of bulk, but it destroys form and symmetry: here both were preserved. The fowls are of the long-legged Spanish breed, coming to table like trussed ostriches; the plump English barndoor sort are about being introduced. I had nearly forgotten a beautiful and extraordinary invention—a rifle, not heavier than the common one, that will discharge twenty-four balls in succession without reloading. Where the ramrod is usually placed, is a smaller barrel, containing, when filled, twenty-four ball-cartridges, and, after discharging, the action of recocking introduces another cartridge, and so on, until the whole are discharged; the whole twenty-four can be discharged in as many seconds!
After leaving this interesting exhibition, where I could have lingered a whole day, I was joined by a friend, an American—a gentleman of great attainments in science—to whose remarks I am indebted for the following scraps. The Merrimac, when low—as when I saw it—is a trifling stream, having a bottom of laminated rock, worn in channels by the stream. At spring and fall, there is ten or fifteen feet of depth; and to remedy this inequality, an important work was undertaken and executed: to this we bent our way. It is a canal in form, but should more properly be called a reservoir. It is 1-1/4 miles long, 100 feet wide, and 15 feet deep; of solid granite, sides and bottom—equal in durability to any work, ancient or modern. It is about half way cut through the solid granite rock, which in that part furnishes a natural wall. My friend had watched its progress, and gave me many interesting details of the engineering processes employed: among others, the tremendous application of steam and gunpowder. An engine bored holes in the rock fifteen feet deep and twelve inches in diameter; and these were so placed, and in such numbers, that at a single blast 170 tons of granite were blown into the air—an operation hardly conceivable. This canal leaves the town in a westerly direction—being, at its outset, about a quarter of a mile from the Merrimac, but gradually approximating for a quarter of a mile, until it touches and unites with that river. Between the two, is one of the prettiest of public walks, ten feet wide, having rows of trees on each side, and terminating in a point; being the end of a splendid granite wall, at its base thirty feet thick, and tapering to half the thickness, dividing the natural from the artificial stream. Here we come to a point of great interest: on the right is an artificial dam across the river, with two sharp lines at an angle of sixty-seven degrees, the point meeting the stream, thus stopping the waters, and insuring a supply for the reservoir, while it forms a cascade of about twenty feet.
My friend gave me a very graphic description of the opening of the works. The whole was built in a cofferdam, quite dry, and the opening was a holiday. Every spot within sight was covered with spectators, for whom the engineer had contrived a surprise. The works used in keeping the water out of the reservoir, and protecting the new dam, were undermined, and charged with gunpowder. At a given signal, the train was fired, and in an instant the whole blew up; and when the smoke cleared away, the fragments were floating down the Merrimac, and the canal full of water.
On the left from the point, the egress of water is regulated by flood-gates of a superior construction. The building crosses the canal, and contains seven huge gates, which are raised or dropped into their places by beautiful machinery. To each gate is attached an immense screw, which stands perpendicularly, twenty feet long and ten inches in diameter. At its upper end, it passes through a matrix-worm in the centre of a large cog-wheel, lying horizontally The whole is set in motion by the slightest turning of a handle; and here I saw the application of the Turpin Wheel I spoke of before—no engine or complication, but a wheel fifteen feet in diameter, fixed horizontally, submerged in the stream, receiving the falling waters, and thus rapidly revolving, and by a gear, giving motion to the machinery for raising or lowering the immense gates, stopped or set going by merely turning a stop-cock, and requiring no more force than an ordinary water-cistern.
I cannot leave this interesting spot without an attempt to describe the beautiful scene. A little to the right, the river widens into a sort of bay, with several fine islands covered with wood; in front, across the stream, as far as the eye can reach, are the forests of New Hampshire, with occasional headlands of greensward. In the autumn, it has exactly the appearance of a gigantic flower-garden—the trees being of every imaginable colour. 'Ah!' said my friend, 'this is an interesting spot: it was the favourite residence and hunting-ground of the Chippewas. The Indians, like your monks of old in Europe, always chose the most beautiful and picturesque sites for their dwellings; but they have retired before the advance of a civilisation they could not share or appreciate.' Talking in this way, as we returned, he called my attention to a singular phenomenon in the river. At some remote period there was, and it remains to the present moment, a rock standing in the middle of the stream, about twelve feet in diameter at the top, of an irregular form, and of the hardest granite. By the action of the water, a mass of granite had been thrown on the top, where it lodged. At high-water, perhaps during three months in each year, the stream had caused this mass to revolve on its own axis, until it has worn itself of a round figure, and worn also the rock into a cup, now about six feet deep. Still, it revolves when the water reaches it—nature still plays at this cup-and-ball—the ball weighing five tons. Talk of this sort brought us to the railway. In due time I reached home; and I do not remember to have ever been more interested than by the day spent at Lowell.
THE SEA AND THE POETS.
Of three poets, each the most original in his language, and each peculiarly susceptible of impressions from external nature—Horace, Shakspeare, and Burns—not one seems to have appreciated the beauty, the majestic sublimity, the placid loveliness, alternating with the terrific grandeur, of the 'many-sounding sea.' Judging from their incidental allusions to it, and the use they make of it in metaphor and imagery, it would seem to have presented itself to their imaginations only as a fierce, unruly, untamable, and unsightly monster, to be loathed and avoided—a blot on the fair face of creation—a necessary evil, perhaps; but still an evil, and most certainly suggestive of no ideas poetic in their character.
It is marvellous, for there is not one of these poets who does not discover a lively sense of the varied charms of universal nature, and has not painted them in glowing colours with the pencil of a master. Who has not noted with what evident love, with what a nicely-discriminative knowledge Shakspeare has pictured our English flowers, our woodland glades, the forest scenery of Old England, before the desolating axe had prostrated the pride of English woods? How vividly has not Burns translated into vigorous verse each feature of his native landscape, till
—— 'Auld Coila's plains and fells, Her muirs, red-brown wi' heather-bells, Her banks and braes, her dens and dells,'
live again in the magic of his song. And Horace—with what charming playfulness, with what exquisite grace, has he not figured the olive-groves of Tibur, the pendent vines ruddy with the luscious grape, the silver streams, the sparkling fountains and purple skies of fruitful Campania! Looking on nature with a poet's eye, as did these poets, one and all of them, is it not a psychological mystery that none of them should have detected the ineffable beauty of a sea-prospect?
First, as to Horace. When climbing the heights of Mount Vultur, that Lucanian hill where once, when overcome by fatigue, the youthful poet lay sleeping, and doves covered his childish and wearied limbs with leaves—Horace must have often viewed, with their wide expanse glittering in the sun, the waters of the Adriatic—often must he have hailed the grateful freshness of the sea-breeze and the invigorating perfumes of
—— 'the early sea-smell blown Through vineyards from some inland bay.'
Yet about this sea, which should have kindled his imagination and inspired his genius, this thankless bard poetises in a vein such as a London citizen, some half-century back, might have indulged in after a long, tedious, 'squally' voyage in an overladen Margate hoy.
No such spirit possessed him as that which dictated poor Campbell's noble apostrophe to the glorious 'world of waters:'
—— 'Earth has not a plain So boundless or so beautiful as thine; The eagle's vision cannot take it in; The lightning's glance, too weak to sweep its space, Sinks half-way o'er it, like a wearied bird: It is the mirror of the stars, where all Their hosts within the concave firmament, Gay marching to the music of the spheres, Can see themselves at once.'
Horace, indeed, has sung the praises of Tarentum—that beautiful maritime city of the Calabrian Gulf, whose attractions were such as to make the delights of Tarentum a common proverbial expression. But what were these delights as celebrated by our poet?—the perfection of its honey, the excellence of its olives, the abundance of its grapes, its lengthened spring and temperate winter. For these, its merits, did Horace prefer, as he tells us, Tarentum to every other spot on the wide earth—his beloved Tibur only and ever excepted. In truth, Horace valued and visited the sea-side only in winter, and then simply because its climate was milder than that to be met with inland, and therefore more agreeable to the dilapidated constitution of a sensitive valetudinarian. His commentators suppose he produced nothing during his marine hybernations: if the inclement season froze 'the genial current of his soul,' the aspect of the sea did not thaw it.
His motive for his sea-side trips is amusingly set forth in one of the most lively and characteristic of his Epistles—the fifteenth of the first book. In this he inquires of a friend what sort of winter weather is to be found at Velia and Salernum; two cities, one on the Adriatic, the other on the Mediterranean seaboard of Italy—what manner of roads they had—whether the people there drank tank-water or spring-water—and whether hares, boars, crabs, and fish were with them abundant. He adds, he is not apprehensive about their wines—knowing these, as we may infer, to be good—although usually, when from home, he is scrupulous about his liquors; whilst, when at home, he can put up almost with anything in the way of potations. It is quite plain Horace went down to the sea just in the spirit in which a turtle-fed alderman would transfer himself to Cheltenham; or in which a fine lady, whose nerves the crush, hurry, and late hours of a London season had somewhat disturbed, would exchange the dissipations of Mayfair for the breezy hills of Malvern, or the nauseous waters of Tunbridge Wells.
This certainly explains, and perhaps excuses, the grossly uncivil terms in which alone he notices the sea. One of the worst of Ulysses' troubles was, according to him, the numerous and lengthy sea-voyages which that Ithacan gadabout had to take. Horace wishes for Maevius, who was his aversion, no worse luck than a rough passage and shipwreck at the end of it. His notion of a happy man—ille beatus—is one who has not to dread the sea. Augustus, whose success had blessed not only his own country, but the whole world, had—not the least of his blessings—given to the seamen a calmed sea—pacatum mare. Lamenting at Virgil's departure for Athens, he rebukes the impiety of the first mariner who ventured, in the audacity of his heart, to go afloat and cross the briny barrier interposed between nations. He esteems a merchant favoured specially by the gods, should he twice or thrice a year return in safety from an Atlantic cruise. He tells us he himself had known the terrors of 'the dark gulf of the Adriatic,' and had experienced 'the treachery of the western gale;' and expresses a charitable wish, that the enemies of the Roman state were exposed to the delights of both. He likens human misery to a sea 'roughened by gloomy winds;' 'to embark once more on the mighty sea,' is his figurative expression for once more engaging in the toils and troubles of the world; Rome, agitated by the dangers of civil conflict, resembles an ill-formed vessel labouring tempest-tossed in the waves; his implacable Myrtale resembles the angry Adriatic, in which also he finds a likeness to an ill-tempered lover. All through, from first to last, the gentle Horace pelts with most ungentle phrases one of the noblest objects in nature, provocative alike of our admiration and our awe, our terror and our love.
And even Shakspeare must be ranged in the same category. The most English of poets has not one laudatory phrase for
—— 'The seas Which God hath given for fence impregnable'
to the poet's England. It is idle to say that Shakspeare was inland-bred—that he knew nothing, and could therefore have cared nothing about the matter—seeing that, insensible as he might have been to its beauties, he makes constant reference to the sea, and even in language implying that his familiarity with it was not inferior to that of any yachtsman who has ever sailed out of Cowes Harbour. He uses nautical terms frequently and appropriately. Romeo's rope-ladder is 'the high top-gallant of his joy;' King John, dying of poison, declares 'the tackle of his heart is cracked,' and 'all the shrouds wherewith his life should sail' wasted 'to a thread.' Polonius tells Laertes, 'the wind sits in the shoulder of your sail'—a technical expression, the singular propriety of which a naval critic has recently established; whilst some of the commentators on the passage in King Lear, descriptive of the prospect from Dover Cliffs, affirm that the comparison as to apparent size, of the ship to her cock-boat, and the cock-boat to a buoy, discover a perfect knowledge of the relative proportions of the objects named. In Hamlet, Othello, The Tempest, The Merchant of Venice, The Comedy of Errors, Twelfth Night, Winter's Tale, Measure for Measure, and Pericles, sea-storms are made accessory to the development of the plot, and sometimes described with a force and truthfulness which forbid the belief that the writer had never witnessed such scenes: however, like Horace, it is in the darkest colours that Shakspeare uniformly paints 'the multitudinous seas.'
In the Winter's Tale, we read of—
—— 'the fearful usage (Albeit ungentle) of the dreadful Neptune.'
In Henry V., of 'the furrowed sea,' 'the lofty surge,' 'the inconstant billows dancing;' in Henry VI., Queen Margaret finds in the roughness of the English waters a presage of her approaching wo; in Richard III., Clarence's dream figures to us all the horrors of 'the vasty deep;' in Henry VIII., Wolsey indeed speaks of 'a sea of glory,' but also of his shipwreck thereon; in The Tempest we read of 'the never surfeited sea,' and of the 'sea-marge sterile and rocky-hard;' in the Midsummer's Night Dream, 'the sea' is 'rude,' and from it the winds 'suck up contagious fogs;' Hamlet is as 'mad as the sea and wind;' the violence of Laertes and the insurgent Danes is paralleled to an irruption of the sea, 'overpeering of his list;' in the well-known soliloquy is the expression, 'a sea of troubles,' which, in spite of Pope's suggested and tasteless emendation, commentators have shewn to have been used proverbially by the Greeks, and more than once by AEschylus and Menander. Still, Shakspeare, again like Horace, was not insensible to the merits of sea-air in a sanitary point of view. Dionyza, meditating Marina's murder, bids her take what the Brighton doctor's call 'a constitutional' by the sea-side, adding that—
—— 'the air is quick there, Piercing and sharpens well the stomach.'
As to Burns, his most fervent admirer can scarcely complain when we involve him in the censure to which we have already subjected Horace and Shakspeare. He, too, writes about the sea in such a fashion, that we should hardly have suspected, what is true, that he was born almost within hearing of its waves; that much of his life was passed on its shores or near them, and that at a time of life when external objects most vividly impress themselves on the senses, and exercise the largest influence on the taste.
The genius of 'Old Coila,' in sketching the poet's early life, says—
'I saw thee seek the sounding shore, Delighted with the dashing roar;'
but few tokens of this 'delight' are to be observed in his poetry. He has, indeed, his allusions to 'tumbling billows' and 'surging foam;' to southern climes where 'wild-meeting oceans boil;' to 'life's rough ocean' and 'life's stormy main;' to 'hard-blowing gales;' to the 'raging sea,' 'raging billows,' 'boundless oceans roaring wide,' and the like; but these are the stock-metaphors of every poet, and would be familiar to him even had he never overpassed the frontiers of Bohemia.
One sea-picture, and one alone, is to be found in Burns, and this, it is freely admitted, is exquisite:
'Behold the hour, the boat arrive; Thou goest, thou darling of my heart! Severed from thee, can I survive? But fate has willed, and we must part. I'll often greet this surging swell, Yon distant isle will often hail: E'en here I took the last farewell; There latest marked her vanished sail.
Along the solitary shore, While flitting sea-fowl round me cry, Across the rolling, dashing roar, I'll westward turn my wistful eye: Happy thou Indian grove, I'll say, Where now my Nancy's path may be! While through thy sweets she loves to stray, Oh! tell me, does she muse on me?'
This charming lyric, the pathetic tenderness of which commends it to every feeling heart, is all that Burns has left in evidence that the sea had to him, at least, one poetic aspect.
CURIOSITIES OF CHESS.
More has perhaps been written about chess-playing than any other of the games which human ingenuity has invented for recreative purposes, and it is not easy to foresee the time when dissertation or discovery on the subject shall be brought to a satisfactory conclusion. Scarcely a year passes that does not add something to our knowledge of the history of the royal game; and among the latest additions, the able paper by Mr Bland, published in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, is not the least deserving of notice. It contains many curious particulars and remarks, interspersed in its dry and technical narrative, sufficient to form a page or two of pleasant reading for those—and they are not few—to whom chess is interesting.
We must premise that Mr Bland takes three but little-known Oriental manuscripts as the groundwork of his observations; one of them, in the Persian character, is said to be 'probably unique,' though, unfortunately, very imperfect. It bears no date or author's name, these being lost with the missing portions, but the treatise itself contains internal evidence of very high antiquity. The author, whoever he was, tells us that he had travelled much through Persia and the adjacent countries, from the age of fifteen until the middle period of life, during which he gained the knowledge and experience which enabled him to write his book. Besides which, he measured his strength with many masters of the art of chess-playing, adding on each occasion to his reputation as a conqueror: 'and whereas,' as he relates, 'the greater number of professors were deficient in the art of playing without looking at the board, I myself played so against four adversaries at once, and at the same time against another opponent in the usual manner, and, by divine favour, won all the games.' Here, singularly enough, we find a Persian Staunton making himself famous perhaps long before Norman William thought of invading Britain—so true it is, that in mere intellectual achievements we have scarcely surpassed bygone generations. He, the Persian, evidently entertained a comfortable idea of his own abilities; for he boasts largely of the improvements and new moves or positions which he has introduced into the game. He disputes, too, the authenticity of the belief, that chess was originally invented in India, and that it was first introduced into Persia in the sixth century of our era by a physician, whom Nushirwan had sent to seek for the work known as Pilpay's Fables. On the contrary, he contends that chess, in its original and most developed form, is purely a Persian invention, and that the modern game is but an abridgment of the ancient one. In how far this statement is borne out by the fact, we have at present no means of knowing; and until some more complete manuscript or other work shall be brought to light which may supply the want, we must rest content with the account familiar to most readers—that chess was invented by an Indian physician for the diversion of the monarch, his master, and the reward claimed in grains of corn, beginning with one grain on the first square of the board, and doubling the number in regularly increasing progression up to the last.
We may here briefly state what the ancient, or, as it is commonly called in the East, 'Timour's Game,' was. It required a board with 110 squares and 56 men—almost as many again as are used in modern chess—and the moves were extremely complicated and difficult to learn. The rectangularity of the board was interrupted by four lateral squares, which served as a fort, or special point of defence for the king, whose powers, as well as those of the other pieces, were in many respects different from those at present known. 'Timour's mind,' we are told, 'was too exalted to play at the Little Chess, and therefore he played only at the Great Chess, on a board of ten squares by eleven, with the addition of two camels, two zarafahs,' and other pieces, with Persian designations.
Next we come to a complete chapter, entitled the 'Ten Advantages of Chess,' in which the views and reasonings are eminently Oriental and characteristic. The first explains that food and exercise are good for the mind as well as for the body, and that chess is a most excellent means for quickening the intellect, and enabling it to gain knowledge. 'For the glory of man is knowledge, and chess is the nourishment of the mind, the solace of the spirit, the polisher of intelligence, the bright sun of understanding, and has been preferred by the philosopher, its inventor, to all other means by which we arrive at wisdom.' The second advantage is in the promotion and cultivation of religion; predestination and free-will are both exemplified—the player being able to move where he will, yet always in obedience to certain laws. 'Whereas,' says the writer, 'Nerd—that is, Eastern backgammon—on the contrary, is mere free-will, while in dice, again, all is compulsion.' The third and fourth advantages relate to government and war; and the fifth to astronomy, illustrating its several phenomena as shewn by the text, according to which 'the board represents the heavens, in which the squares are the celestial houses, and the pieces, stars. The superior pieces are likened to the moving stars; and the pawns, which have only one movement, to the fixed stars. The king is as the sun, and the wazir in place of the moon, and the elephants and taliah in the place of Saturn, and the rukhs and dabbabah in that of Mars, and the horses and camel in that of Jupiter, and the ferzin and zarafah in that of Venus; and all these pieces have their accidents, corresponding with the trines and quadrates, and conjunction and opposition, and ascendancy and decline—such as the heavenly bodies have; and the eclipse of the sun is figured by shah caim or stale mate;' and much more to the same purport. We question whether the astronomer-royal ever suspected he was illustrating his own science when engaged in one of his quiet games of chess with the master of trinity.
The sixth advantage is somewhat astrological in character: as there are four principal movements of chess, these answer to the four physical temperaments, Cold, Warm, Dry, and Wet, which are ruled by their respective planets; and thus each piece on the board is made to have its peculiar significance in relation with the stars. It is further shewn, that chess-playing is remedial against many of the lesser bodily ailments; 'and no illness is more grievous than hunger and thirst, yet both of these, when the mind is engaged in chess, are no longer thought of.' Next in order, the seventh advantage, is 'in obtaining repose for the soul;' as the author observes: 'The soul hath illnesses like as the body hath, and the cure of these last is known; but of the soul's illness there be also many kinds, and of these I will mention a few.' These are ignorance, disobedience, haste, cunning, avarice, tyranny, lying, pride, deceit, and envy. Deceit is said to be of two kinds: that which deceives others, and that which deceives ourselves. But of all evils, ignorance is the greatest; 'for it is the soul's death, as learning is its life; and for this disease is chess an especial cure, since there is no way by which men arrive more speedily at knowledge and wisdom; and in like manner, by its practice, all the faults which form the diseases of the soul are converted into their corresponding virtues.' It is not to be doubted that chess-playing may keep individuals out of mischief; but, whatever may have been the case in ancient times, we do not hear of its transforming vicious characters into virtuous ones in our days.
The eighth advantage is social, inasmuch as it brings men of different degrees together, and promotes their intimacy and friendship; and 'advantage the ninth, is in wisdom and knowledge, and that wise men do play chess; and to those who object that foolish men also play chess, and, though constantly engaged in it, become no wiser, it may be answered, that the distinction between wise and foolish men in playing chess, is as that of man and beast in eating of the tree—that the man chooses its ripe and sweet fruit, while the beast eats but the leaves and branches, and the unripe and bitter fruit; and so it is with players at chess—the wise man plays for those virtues and advantages which have been already mentioned, and the foolish man plays it but for mere sport and gambling, and regards not its advantages and virtues. This is the condition of the wise man and foolish man in playing chess.' From this it seems a descent to the tenth advantage, which is, that chess combines war with sport; and pleasant allegories are made subservient to the inculcation of sound truths and important principles.
Next comes an explanation of the mode in which Great Chess was played, with the nature and value of the various moves. Among the hard technicalities with which it abounds, the writer takes occasion to condemn the practice of giving a different value to the piece which may have reached the end of the board; 'for,' as he says, 'what is more natural or just than that men should occupy the station of their predecessors, and that the son of a king should become a king, and a general's son attain the rank of a general.' An instance of rigid caste-law carried into a harmless recreation.
In another manuscript, chess is shewn to have something to do with a man's fortunes: he who could watch a game without speaking, was held to be discreet, and qualified for a government office. And conquerors are enjoined not to boast of their success; not to say, even if such be the case, that they have won all the games, but that they have 'won some.' Exemplary virtue is not, however, claimed for chess-players, as in the former instance, for some are said to be continually 'swearing false oaths, and making many vain excuses;' and again, 'You never see a chess-player rich, who is not a sordid miser, nor hear a squabbling that is not a question of the chess-board.' On the other hand, there were 'rules of politeness in chess,' which it behoved all persons to follow:—'He who is lowest in rank is to spread the board, and pour out the men on it, and then wait patiently till his superior has made his choice; then he who is inferior may take his own men, and place all of them except the king, and when the senior in rank has placed his own king, he may also place his opposite to it.' During the game, 'all foolish talk and ribaldry' is to be avoided, and onlookers are 'to keep silence, and to abstain from remarks and advice to the players;' and an inferior, when playing with a superior, is enjoined to exert his utmost skill, and not 'underplay himself that his senior may win'—an observation which what is called the 'flunkey class' might remember with advantage. And further, chess is not to be played 'when the mind is engaged with other objects, nor when the stomach is full after a meal, neither when overcome by hunger, nor on the day of taking a bath; nor, in general, while suffering under any pain, bodily or mental.'
Chess-playing without looking at the board, now taught by professors, and supposed to be a comparatively modern art, was, as we have seen above, known and practised many centuries ago; and among the instructions last quoted are those for playing the 'blindfold-game.' The player is 'to picture to himself the board as divided first into two opposite sides, and then each side into halves, those of the king and the queen, so that when his naib, or deputy, announces that 'such a knight has been played to the second of the queen's rook,' or 'the queen to the king's bishop's third,' he may immediately understand its effect on the position of the game. This mode of playing, however, is not recommended to those who do not possess a powerful memory, with great reflection and perseverance, 'without which no man can play blindfold.' These, with other instructions, are followed by the author's remark, 'that some have arrived to such a degree of perfection as to have played blindfold at four or five boards at a time, nor to have made a mistake in any of the games, and to have recited poetry during the match;' and he adds: 'I have seen it written in a book, that a certain person played in this manner at ten boards at once, and gained all the games, and even corrected his adversaries when a mistake was made.'
Besides their conventional value, the pieces had a money value, which was essential to be known by all who desired to win. The rook and knight were estimated at about sixpence each; the queen, threepence; the pawns, three-halfpence; and the 'side-pawns,' three farthings. The value of bishops varied, while the king was beyond all price. The regulations respecting odds were also well defined, in degrees from a single pawn up to a knight and rook; but any one claiming the latter odds was held not 'to count as a chess-player.' And it was not unusual for works on chess to contain puzzling problems, representations of drawn games, and well-combined positions. Some authors describe five different kinds of chess: one had 10 x 10, or 100 squares; another was oblong, 16 x 4, which employed dice as well as the usual pieces; another board was circular, with a central spot for the king, where he could intrench himself in safety; another represented the zodiac, with spaces for each planet, according to the number of houses or mansions assigned by astrologers. The ingenuity did not end here: chess was made to illustrate dreams, and to embellish many amusing games and recreations. Odes and poems were written upon it, and the poets at times exhibited their skill in a play upon words—for instance:
'When my beloved learnt the chess-play of cruelty, In the very beginning of the game her sweet cheek (rukh) took my heart captive.'
It served also to point riddles, some of which exhibit remarkable ingenuity, as shewn by the following example, where the name of Mohammed is enigmatically embodied. It is thus rendered:
'The vow of Moses twice repeat; The principles of life and heat; The squares of chess, in order due, Must take their place between these two; When thus arranged, a name appears, Which every Muslim heart reveres.'
The solution, as given by a reverend ulema of Constantinople to a learned German who could not solve the mystery, is: 'Take the "vow of Moses," which is 40; double it, and it becomes 80, equivalent to the two Mims in the name Muhammed. Place under these the bases of the temperaments—that is, the elements—which are four (the power of the letter D); then take the number of the houses (or squares) of chess, which are eight in a row, and place it (8 being equal to the letter H) between the two Ms, and you have the name of the prophet, Muhammed (MHMD.')
'It has been necessary,' observes Mr Bland, 'to turn the Arabic commentary a little, in order to make the solution more intelligible to those unacquainted with the trick of Eastern riddles. Some further explanation is also required to illustrate the solution itself. The vow of Moses refers to his forty days' fast; the four temperaments—the bile, the atrabile, phlegm, and blood—are represented in the Arabian system of physics by the four elements, which are considered to be connected with them; the figures refer to the numerical power of the abjad, or alphabet; and the enigma itself has been attributed, though on uncertain grounds, to Ali, the son-in-law of the prophet.'
'THE SUCCESSFUL MERCHANT.'
Under this title has lately been produced a novelty in our literature, the memoirs of an eminent commercial man. Samuel Budgett died in May 1851, at the age of fifty-seven. Though starting in life without capital or credit, he had, by the sheer exercise of his own innate qualities, risen to the head of one of the most colossal concerns in England. Had he been merely a clever bargainer, and a skilful organiser of business arrangements, there might have been some value in his memoirs, as a guidance to young mercantile aspirants; but Budgett was something more than all this, and his biography serves the far higher purpose of shewing how a man may be at once a most adroit merchandiser, and a man of liberal practice, and a true lover of his kind. Let it not be supposed that he was a soft man, who had prospered through some lucky accident. He really was a thorough-paced follower of the maxim which recommends buying in the cheapest and selling in the dearest market: he was reputed as keen in business. But he was also kind-hearted and high-principled, and it is this union of remarkable qualities which gives his memoirs their best value.