Initial Studies in American Letters
by Henry A. Beers
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In his poems in dialect we find the same variety of types and nationalities characteristic of the Pacific coast: the little Mexican maiden, Pachita, in the old mission garden; the wicked Bill Nye, who tries to cheat the Heathen Chinee at eucher and to rob Injin Dick of his winning lottery ticket; the geological society on the Stanislaw who settle their scientific debates with chunks of old red sandstone and the skulls of mammoths; the unlucky Mr. Dow, who finally strikes gold while digging a well, and builds a house with a "coopilow;" and Flynn, of Virginia, who saves his "pard's" life, at the sacrifice of his own, by holding up the timbers in the caving tunnel. These poems are mostly in monologue, like Browning's dramatic lyrics, exclamatory and abrupt in style, and with a good deal of indicated action, as in Jim, where a miner comes into a bar-room, looking for his old chum, learns that he is dead, and is just turning away to hide his emotion when he recognizes Jim in his informant:

"Well, thar—Good-bye— No more, sir—I— Eh? What's that you say?— Why, dern it!—sho!— No? Yea! By Jo! Sold! Sold! Why, you limb! You ornery, Derned old Long-legged Jim!"

Bret Harte had many imitators, and not only did our newspaper poetry for a number of years abound in the properties of Californian life, such as gulches, placers, divides, etc., but writers further east applied his method to other conditions. Of these by far the most successful was John Hay, a native of Indiana and private secretary to President Lincoln, whose Little Breeches, Jim Bludso, and Mystery of Gilgal have rivaled Bret Harte's own verses in popularity. In the last-named piece the reader is given to feel that there is something rather cheerful and humorous in a bar-room fight which results in "the gals that winter, as a rule," going "alone to singing school." In the two former we have heroes of the Bret Harte type, the same combination of superficial wickedness with inherent loyalty and tenderness. The profane farmer of the South-west, who "doesn't pan out on the prophets," and who had taught his little son "to chaw terbacker, just to keep his milk-teeth white," but who believes in God and the angels ever since the miraculous recovery of the same little son when lost on the prairie in a blizzard; and the unsaintly and bigamistic captain of the Prairie Belle, who died like a hero, holding the nozzle of his burning boat against the bank

"Till the last galoot's ashore."

The manners and dialect of other classes and sections of the country have received abundant illustration of late years. Edward Eggleston's Hoosier Schoolmaster, 1871, and his other novels are pictures of rural life in the early days of Indiana. Western Windows, a volume of poems by John James Piatt, another native of Indiana, had an unmistakable local coloring. Charles G. Leland, of Philadelphia, in his Hans Breitmann ballads, in dialect, gave a humorous presentation of the German-American element in the cities. By the death, in 1881, of Sidney Lanier, a Georgian by birth, the South lost a poet of rare promise, whose original genius was somewhat hampered by his hesitation between two arts of expression, music and verse, and by his effort to co-ordinate them. His Science of English Verse, 1880, was a most suggestive, though hardly convincing, statement of that theory of their relation which he was working out in his practice. Some of his pieces, like the Mocking Bird and the Song of the Chattahoochie, are the most characteristically Southern poetry that has been written in America. Joel Chandler Harris's Uncle Remus stories, in Negro dialect, are transcripts from the folk-lore of the plantations, while his collection of stories, At Teague Poteet's, together with Miss Murfree's In the Tennessee Mountains and her other books, have made the Northern public familiar with the wild life of the "moonshiners," who distill illicit whiskey in the mountains of Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee. These tales are not only exciting in incident, but strong and fresh in their delineations of character. Their descriptions of mountain scenery are also impressive, though, in the case of the last-named writer, frequently too prolonged. George W. Cable's sketches of French Creole life in New Orleans attracted attention by their freshness and quaintness when published, in the magazines and re-issued in book form as Old Creole Days, in 1879. His first regular novel, the Grandissimes, 1880, was likewise a story of Creole life. It had the same winning qualities as his short stories and sketches, but was an advance upon them in dramatic force, especially in the intensely tragic and powerfully told episode of "Bras Coupe." Mr. Cable has continued his studies of Louisiana types and ways in his later books, but the Grandissimes still remains his masterpiece. All in all, he is, thus far, the most important literary figure of the New South, and the justness and delicacy of his representations of life speak volumes for the sobering and refining agency of the civil war in the States whose "cause" was "lost," but whose true interests gained even more by the loss than did the interests of the victorious North.

The four writers last mentioned, have all come to the front within the past eight or ten years, and, in accordance with the plan of this sketch, receive here a mere passing notice. It remains to close our review of the literary history of the period since the war with a somewhat more extended account of the two favorite novelists whose work has done more than any thing else to shape the movement of recent fiction. These are Henry James, Jr., and William Dean Howells. Their writings, though dissimilar in some respects, are alike in this, that they are analytic in method and realistic in spirit. Cooper was a romancer pure and simple; he wrote the romance of adventure and of external incident. Hawthorne went much deeper, and with a finer spiritual insight dealt with the real passions of the heart; and with men's inner experiences. This he did with truth and power; but, although himself a keen observer of whatever passed before his eyes, he was not careful to secure a photographic fidelity to the surface facts of speech, dress, manners, etc. Thus the talk of his characters is book-talk, and not the actual language of the parlor or the street, with its slang, its colloquial ease and the intonations and shadings of phrase and pronunciation which mark different sections of the country and different grades of society. His attempts at dialect, for example, were of the slenderest kind. His art is ideal, and his romances certainly do not rank as novels of real life. But with the growth of a richer and more complicated society in America fiction has grown more social and more minute in its observation. It would not be fair to classify the novels of James and Howells as the fiction of manners merely; they are also the fiction of character, but they aim to describe people not only as they are, in their inmost natures, but also as they look and talk and dress. They try to express character through manners, which is the way in which it is most often expressed in the daily existence of a conventional society. It is a principle of realism not to select exceptional persons or occurrences, but to take average men and women and their average experiences. The realists protest that the moving incident is not their trade, and that the stories have all been told. They want no plot and no hero. They will tell no rounded tale with a denouement, in which all the parts are distributed, as in the fifth act of an old-fashioned comedy; but they will take a transcript from life and end when they get through, without informing the reader what becomes of the characters. And they will try to interest this reader in "poor real life" with its "foolish face." Their acknowledged masters are Balzac, George Eliot, Turgenieff, and Anthony Trollope, and they regard novels as studies in sociology, honest reports of the writers' impressions, which may not be without a certain scientific value even.

Mr. James's peculiar province is the international novel, a field which he created for himself, but which he has occupied in company with Howells, Mrs. Burnett, and many others. The novelist received most of his schooling in Europe, and has lived much abroad, with the result that he has become half denationalized and has engrafted a cosmopolitan indifference upon his Yankee inheritance. This, indeed, has constituted his opportunity. A close observer and a conscientious student of the literary art, he has added to his intellectual equipment the advantage of a curious doubleness in his point of view. He looks at America with the eyes of a foreigner and at Europe with the eyes of an American. He has so far thrown himself out of relation with American life that he describes a Boston horse-car or a New York hotel table with a sort of amused wonder. His starting-point was in criticism, and he has always maintained the critical attitude. He took up story-writing in order to help himself, by practical experiment, in his chosen art of literary criticism, and his volume on French Poets and Novelists, 1878, is by no means the least valuable of his books. His short stories in the magazines were collected into a volume in 1875, with the title, A Passionate Pilgrim, and Other Stories. One or two of these, as the Last of the Valerii and the Madonna of the Future, suggest Hawthorne, a very unsympathetic study of whom James afterward contributed to the "English Men of Letters" series. But in the name-story of the collection he was already in the line of his future development. This is the story of a middle-aged invalid American who comes to England in search of health, and finds, too late, in the mellow atmosphere of the mother-country, the repose and the congenial surroundings which he has all his life been longing for in his raw America. The pathos of his self-analysis and his confession of failure is subtly imagined. The impressions which he and his far-away English kinsfolk make on one another, their mutual attraction and repulsion, are described with that delicate perception of national differences which makes the humor and sometimes the tragedy of James's later books, like The American, Daisy Miller, The Europeans, and An International Episode. His first novel was Roderick Hudson, 1876, not the most characteristic of his fictions, but perhaps the most powerful in its grasp of elementary passion. The analytic method and the critical attitude have their dangers in imaginative literature. In proportion as this writer's faculty of minute observation and his realistic objectivity have increased upon him, the uncomfortable coldness which is felt in his youthful work has become actually disagreeable, and his art—growing constantly finer and surer in matters of detail—has seemed to dwell more and more in the region of mere manners and less in the higher realm of character and passion. In most of his writings the heart, somehow, is left out. We have seen that Irving, from his knowledge of England and America, and his long residence in both countries, became the mediator between the two great branches of the Anglo-Saxon race. This he did by the power of his sympathy with each. Henry James has likewise interpreted the two nations to one another in a subtler but less genial fashion than Irving, and not through sympathy, but through contrast, by bringing into relief the opposing ideals of life and society which have developed under different institutions. In his novel, The American, 1877, he has shown the actual misery which may result from the clashing of opposed social systems. In such clever sketches as Daisy Miller, 1879, the Pension Beaurepas, and A Bundle of Letters, he has exhibited types of the American girl, the American business man, the aesthetic feebling from Boston, and the Europeanized or would-be denationalized American campaigners in the Old World, and has set forth the ludicrous incongruities, perplexities, and misunderstandings which result from contradictory standards of conventional morality and behavior. In The Europeans, 1879, and An International Episode, 1878, he has reversed the process, bringing Old World standards to the test of American ideas by transferring his dramatis personae to republican soil. The last-named of these illustrates how slender a plot realism requires for its purposes. It is nothing more than the history of an English girl of good family who marries an American gentleman and undertakes to live in America, but finds herself so uncomfortable in strange social conditions that she returns to England for life, while, contrariwise, the heroine's sister is so taken with the freedom of these very conditions that she elopes with another American and "goes West." James is a keen observer of the physiognomy of cities as well as of men, and his Portraits of Places, 1884, is among the most delightful contributions to the literature of foreign travel.

Mr. Howells's writings are not without "international" touches. In A Foregone Conclusion and the Lady of the Aroostook, and others of his novels, the contrasted points of view in American and European life are introduced, and especially those variations in feeling, custom, dialect, etc., which make the modern Englishman and the modern American such objects of curiosity to each other, and which have been dwelt upon of late even unto satiety. But in general he finds his subjects at home, and if he does not know his own countrymen and countrywomen more intimately than Mr. James, at least he loves them better. There is a warmer sentiment in his fictions, too; his men are better fellows and his women are more lovable. Howells was born in Ohio. His early life was that of a western country editor. In 1860 he published, jointly with his friend Piatt, a book of verse—Poems of Two Friends. In 1861 he was sent as consul to Venice, and the literary results of his sojourn there appeared in his sketches, Venetian Life, 1865, and Italian Journeys, 1867. In 1871 he became editor of the Atlantic Monthly, and in the same year published his Suburban Sketches. All of these early volumes showed a quick eye for the picturesque, an unusual power of description, and humor of the most delicate quality; but as yet there was little approach to narrative. Their Wedding Journey was a revelation to the public of the interest that may lie in an ordinary bridal trip across the State of New York, when a close and sympathetic observation is brought to bear upon the characteristics of American life as it appears at railway stations and hotels, on steam-boats and in the streets of very commonplace towns. A Chance Acquaintance, 1873, was Howells's first novel, though even yet the story was set against a background of travel-pictures. A holiday trip on the St. Lawrence and the Saguenay, with descriptions of Quebec and the Falls of Montmorenci, etc., rather predominated over the narrative. Thus, gradually and by a natural process, complete characters and realistic novels, such as A Modern Instance, 1882, and Indian Summer, evolved themselves from truthful sketches of places and persons seen by the way.

The incompatibility existing between European and American views of life, which makes the comedy or the tragedy of Henry James's international fictions, is replaced in Howells's novels by the repulsion between differing social grades in the same country. The adjustment of these subtle distinctions forms a part of the problem of life in all complicated societies. Thus in A Chance Acquaintance the heroine is a bright and pretty Western girl, who becomes engaged during a pleasure tour to an irreproachable but offensively priggish young gentleman from Boston, and the engagement is broken by her in consequence of an unintended slight—the betrayal on the hero's part of a shade of mortification when he and his betrothed are suddenly brought into the presence of some fashionable ladies belonging to his own monde. The little comedy, Out of the Question, deals with this same adjustment of social scales; and in many of Howells's other novels, such as Silas Lapham and the Lady of the Aroustook, one of the main motives may be described to be the contact of the man who eats with his fork with the man who eats with his knife, and the shock thereby ensuing. In Indian Summer the complications arise from the difference in age between the hero and heroine, and not from a difference in station or social antecedents. In all of these fictions the misunderstandings come from an incompatibility of manners rather than of character, and, if any thing were to be objected to the probability of the story, it is that the climax hinges on delicacies and subtleties which, in real life, when there is opportunity for explanations, are readily brushed aside. But in A Modern Instance Howells touched the deeper springs of action. In this, his strongest work, the catastrophe is brought about, as in George Eliot's great novels, by the reaction of characters upon one another, and the story is realistic in a higher sense than any mere study of manners can be. His nearest approach to romance is in The Undiscovered Country, 1880, which deals with the Spiritualists and the Shakers, and in its study of problems that hover on the borders of the supernatural, in its out-of-the-way personages and adventures, and in a certain ideal poetic flavor about the whole book, has a strong resemblance to Hawthorne, especially to Hawthorne in the Blithedale Romance, where he comes closer to common ground with other romancers. It is interesting to compare the Undiscovered Country with Henry James's Bostonians, the latest and one of the cleverest of his fictions, which is likewise a study of the clairvoyants, mediums, woman's rights advocates, and all varieties of cranks, reformers, and patrons of "causes," for whom Boston has long been notorious. A most unlovely race of people they become under the cold scrutiny of Mr. James's cosmopolitan eyes, which see more clearly the charlatanism, narrow-mindedness, mistaken fanaticism, morbid self-consciousness, disagreeable nervous intensity, and vulgar or ridiculous outside peculiarities of the humanitarians, than the nobility and moral enthusiasm which underlie the surface.

Howells is almost the only successful American dramatist, and this in the field of parlor comedy. His little farces, the Elevator, the Register, the Parlor-Car, etc., have a lightness and grace, with an exquisitely absurd situation, which remind us more of the Comedies et Proverbes of Alfred de Musset, or the many agreeable dialogues and monologues of the French domestic stage, than of any work of English or American hands. His softly ironical yet affectionate treatment of feminine ways is especially admirable. In his numerous types of sweetly illogical, inconsistent, and inconsequent womanhood he has perpetuated with a nicer art than Dickens what Thackeray calls "that great discovery," Mrs. Nickleby.

1. Theodore Winthrop. Life in the Open Air. Cecil Dreeme.

2. Thomas Wentworth Higginson. Life in a Black Regiment.

3. Poetry of the Civil War. Edited by Richard Grant White. New York. 1866.

4. Charles Farrar Browne. Artemus Ward—His Book. Lecture on the Mormons. Artemus Ward in London.

5. Samuel Langhorne Clemens. The Jumping Frog. Roughing It. The Mississippi Pilot.

6. Charles Godfrey Leland. Hans Breitmann's Ballads.

7. Edward Everett Hale. If, Yes, and Perhaps. His Level Best, and Other Stories.

8. Francis Bret Harte. Outcasts of Poker Flat, and Other Stories. Condensed Novels. Poems in Dialect.

9. Sidney Lanier. Nirvana. Resurrection. The Harlequin of Dreams. Song of the Chattahoochie. The Mocking Bird. The Stirrup-Cup. Tampa Robins. The Bee. The Revenge of Hamish. The Ship of Earth. The Marshes of Glynn. Sunrise.

10. Henry James, Jr. A Passionate Pilgrim. Roderick Hudson. Daisy Miller. Pension Beaurepas. A Bundle of Letters. An International Episode. The Bostonians. Portraits of Places.

11. William Dean Howells. Their Wedding Journey. Suburban Sketches. A Chance Acquaintance. A Foregone Conclusion. The Undiscovered Country. A Modern Instance.

12. George W. Cable. Old Creole Days. Madame Delphine. The Grandissimes.

13. Joel Chandler Harris. Uncle Remus. Mingo, and Other Sketches.

14. Charles Egbert Craddook (Miss Murfree). In the Tennessee Mountains.




[From Magnalia Christi Americana.]

Captain Phips, arriving with a ship and a tender at Port de la Plata, made a stout canoe of a stately cotton-tree, so large as to carry eight or ten oars, for the making of which periaga (as they call it) he did, with the same industry that he did every thing else, employ his own hand and adze, and endure no little hardship, lying abroad in the woods many nights together. This periaga with the tender, being anchored at a place convenient, the periaga kept busking to and again,[1] but could only discover a reef of rising shoals thereabouts, called "The Boilers," which, rising to be within two or three feet of the surface of the sea, were yet so steep that a ship striking on them would immediately sink down, who could say how many fathom, into the ocean. Here they could get no other pay for their long peeping among the Boilers, but only such as caused them to think upon returning to their captain with the bad news of their total disappointment. Nevertheless, as they were upon their return, one of the men, looking over the side of the periaga into the calm water, he spied a sea-feather growing, as he judged, out of a rock; whereupon he bade one of their Indians to dive and fetch this feather, that they might, however, carry home something with them, and make at least as fair a triumph as Caligula's.[2] The diver, bringing up the feather, brought therewithal a surprising story, that he perceived a number of great guns in the watery world where he had found his feather; the report[3] of which great guns exceedingly astonished the whole company, and at once turned their despondencies for their ill success into assurances that they had now lit upon the true spot of ground which they had been looking for; and they were further confirmed in these assurances when, upon further diving, the Indian fetched up a sow, as they styled it, or a lump of silver worth perhaps two or three hundred pounds. Upon this they prudently buoyed the place that they might readily find it again; and they went back unto their captain, whom for some while they distressed with nothing but such bad news as they formerly thought they must have carried him. Nevertheless, they so slipped in the sow of silver on one side under the table, where they wore now sitting with the captain, and hearing him express his resolutions to wait still patiently upon the providence of God under these disappointments, that when he should look on one side he might see that odd thing before him. At last he saw it. Seeing it he cried out with some agony, "Why! what is this? Whence comes this?" And then, with changed countenances, they told him how and where they got it. "Then," said he, "thanks be to God! We are made," and so away they went all hands to work; wherein they had this one further piece of remarkable prosperity, that whereas if they had first fallen upon that part of the Spanish wreck where the pieces of eight[4] had been stowed in bags among the ballast they had seen a more laborious and less enriching time of it; now, most happily, they first fell upon that room in the wreck where the bullion had been stored up; and they so prospered in this new fishery that in a little while they had, without the loss of any man's life, brought up thirty-two tuns of silver; for it was now come to measuring of silver by tuns. Besides which, one Adderly, of Providence, who had formerly been very helpful to Captain Phips in the search of this wreck, did, upon former agreement, meet him now with a little vessel here; and he with his few hands, took up about six tuns of silver; whereof, nevertheless, he made so little use that in a year or two he died at Bermudas, and, as I have heard, he ran distracted some while before he died.

Thus did there once again come into the light of the sun a treasure which had been half an hundred years groaning under the waters; and in this time there was grown upon the plate a crust-like limestone, to the thickness of several inches; which crust being broken open by iron contrived for that purpose, they knocked out whole bushels of rusty pieces of eight; which were grown thereinto. Besides that incredible treasure of plate in various forms thus fetched up from seven or eight fathom under water, there were vast riches of gold, and pearls, and jewels, which they also lit upon; and, indeed, for a more comprehensive invoice, I must but summarily say, "All that a Spanish frigate uses to be enriched withal."

[1] Passing to and fro.

[2] The Roman emperor who invaded Britain unsuccessfully and made his legionaries gather sea-shells to bring back with them as evidences of victory.

[3] One of Mather's puns.

[4] Spanish piasters, formerly divided into eight reals. The piaster=an American dollar.



[From the author's Personal Narrative.]

Holiness, as I then wrote down some of my contemplations on it, appeared to me to be of a sweet, pleasant, charming, serene, calm nature; which brought an inexpressible purity, brightness, peacefulness, and ravishment to the soul. In other words, that it made the soul like a field or garden of God, with all manner of pleasant flowers; enjoying a sweet calm and the gently vivifying beams of the sun. The soul of a true Christian, as I then wrote my meditations, appeared like such a little white flower as we see in the spring of the year; low and humble on the ground, opening its bosom to receive the pleasant beams of the sun's glory; rejoicing, as it were, in a calm rapture; diffusing around a sweet fragrancy; standing peacefully and lovingly in the midst of other flowers round about; all in like manner opening their bosoms to drink in the light of the sun. There was no part of creature-holiness that I had so great a sense of its loveliness as humility, brokenness of heart, and poverty of spirit; and there was nothing that I so earnestly longed for. My heart panted after this—to lie low before God, as in the dust; that I might be nothing, and that God might be all; that I might become as a little child.


[From Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.]

Unconverted men walk over the pit of hell on a rotten covering, and there are innumerable places in this covering so weak that they will not bear their weight, and these places are not seen. The arrows of death fly unseen at noonday; the sharpest sight cannot discern them. God has so many different, unsearchable ways of taking wicked men out of the world and sending them to hell that there is nothing to make it appear that God had need to be at the expense of a miracle, or go out of the ordinary course of his providence, to destroy any wicked man at any moment. . . . Your wickedness makes you as it were heavy as lead and to tend downward with great weight and pressure toward hell; and, if God should let you go, you would immediately sink and swiftly descend and plunge into the bottomless gulf, and your healthy constitution, and your own care and prudence, and best contrivance, and all your righteousness, would have no more influence to uphold you and keep you out of hell than a spider's web would have to stop a falling rock. . . . There are the black clouds of God's wrath now hanging directly over your heads, full of the dreadful storm and big with thunder; and were it not for the restraining hand of God it would immediately burst forth upon you. The sovereign pleasure of God, for the present, stays his rough wind; otherwise it would come with fury, and your destruction would come like a whirlwind, and you would be like the chaff of the summer threshing-floor. The wrath of God is like great waters that are dammed for the present; they increase more and more, and rise higher and higher, till an outlet is given; and the longer the stream is stopped, the more rapid and mighty is its course when once it is let loose. . . .

Thus it will be with you that are in an unconverted state, if you continue in it; the infinite might and majesty and terribleness of the omnipotent God shall be magnified upon you in the ineffable strength of your torments; you shall be tormented in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb; and, when you shall be in this state of suffering, the glorious inhabitants of heaven shall go forth and look on the awful spectacle, that they may see what the wrath and fierceness of the Almighty is; and when they have seen it they will fall down and adore that great power and majesty. "And it shall come to pass, that from one moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the Lord. And they shall go forth and look upon the carcasses of the men that have transgressed against me; for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched, and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh."

It is everlasting wrath. It would be dreadful to suffer this fierceness and wrath of Almighty God one moment: but you must suffer it to all eternity; there will be no end to this exquisite, horrible misery; when you look forward you shall see along forever, a boundless duration before you, which will swallow up your thoughts and amaze your soul; and you will absolutely despair of ever having any deliverance, any end, any mitigation, any rest at all; you will know certainly that you must wear out long ages, millions of millions of ages, in wrestling and conflicting with this Almighty merciless vengeance; and then, when you have so done, when so many ages have actually been spent by you in this manner, you will know that all is but a point to what remains. So that your punishment will indeed be infinite. . . . If we knew that there was one person, and but one, in the whole congregation, that was to be the subject of this misery, what an awful thing it would be to think of! If we knew who it was, what an awful sight would it be to see such a person! How might all the rest of the congregation lift up a lamentable and bitter cry over him! But alas! Instead of one, how many is it likely will remember this discourse in hell! And it would be a wonder if some that are now present should not be in hell in a very short time, before this year is out. And it would be no wonder if some persons, that now sit here in some seats of this meeting-house in health, and quiet, and secure, should be there before to-morrow morning.



[From The Life of Benjamin Franklin, Written by Himself.]

I was in my working dress, my best clothes being to come round by sea. I was dirty from my journey; my pockets were stuffed out with shirts and stockings, and I knew no soul nor where to look for lodging. I was fatigued with traveling, rowing, and want of rest; I was very hungry; and my whole stock of cash consisted of a Dutch dollar and about a shilling in copper. The latter I gave the people of the boat for my passage, who at first refused it, on account of my rowing; but I insisted on their taking it, a man being sometimes more generous when he has but a little money than when he has plenty, perhaps through fear of being thought to have but little.

Then I walked up the street, gazing about, till near the market-house I met a boy with bread. I had made many a meal on bread, and, inquiring where he got it, I went immediately to the baker's he directed me to, in Second Street, and asked for biscuit, intending such as we had in Boston; but they, it seems, were not made in Philadelphia. Then I asked for a three-penny loaf, and was told they had none such. So, not considering or knowing the difference of money, and the greater cheapness, nor the names of his bread, I had him give me three-penny worth of any sort. He gave me, accordingly, three great puffy rolls. I was surprised at the quantity, but took it, and, having no room in my pockets, walked off with a roll under each arm, and eating the other. Thus I went up Market Street as far as Fourth Street, passing by the door of Mr. Read, my future wife's father, when she, standing at the door, saw me, and thought I made, as I certainly did, a most awkward, ridiculous appearance. Then I turned and went down Chestnut Street and part of Walnut Street, eating my roll all the way and, coming round, found myself again at Market Street wharf, near the boat I came in, to which I went for a draught of the river water; and, being filled with one of my rolls, gave the other two to a woman and her child that came down the river in the boat with us, and were waiting to go farther.

Thus refreshed, I walked again up the street, which by this time had many clean-dressed people in it, who were all walking the same way. I joined them, and thereby was led into the great meeting-house of the Quakers near the market. I sat down among them, and, after looking 'round a while and hearing nothing said, being very drowsy through labor and want of rest the preceding night, I fell fast asleep, and continued so till the meeting broke up, when one was kind enough to rouse me. This was, therefore, the first house I was in, or slept in, in Philadelphia.

Walking down again toward the river, and looking in the faces of the people, I met a young Quaker man whose countenance I liked, and, accosting him, requested he would tell me where a stranger could get lodging. We were near the sign of the Three Mariners. "Here," says he, "is one place that entertains strangers, but it is not a reputable house; if thee wilt walk with me, I'll show thee a better." He brought me to the Crooked Billet in Water Street. Here I got a dinner.


[From Correspondence with Madame Britton.]

I am charmed with your description of Paradise, and with your plan of living there; and I approve much of your conclusion, that, in the meantime, we should draw all the good we can from this world. In my opinion we might all draw more good from it than we do, and suffer less evil, if we would take care not to give too much for whistles, for to me it seems that most of the unhappy people we meet with are become so by neglect of that caution.

You ask what I mean? You love stories, and will excuse my telling one of myself.

When I was a child of seven years old my friends, on a holiday, filled my pocket with coppers. I went directly to a shop where they sold toys for children, and, being charmed with the sound of a whistle, that I met by the way in the hands of another boy, I voluntarily offered and gave all my money for one. I then came home, and went whistling all over the house, much pleased with my whistle, but disturbing all the family. My brothers and sisters and cousins, understanding the bargain I had made, told me I had given four times as much for it as it was worth; put me in mind what good things I might have bought with the rest of the money, and laughed at me so much for my folly that I cried with vexation; and the reflection gave me more chagrin than the whistle gave me pleasure.

This, however, was afterward of use to me, the impression continuing on my mind, so that often when I was tempted to buy some unnecessary thing, I said to myself, Don't give too much for the whistle; and I saved my money.

As I grew up, came into the world, and observed the actions of men, I thought I met with many, very many, who gave too much for the whistle.

When I saw one too ambitious of court favor, sacrificing his time in attendance on levees, his repose, his liberty, his virtue, and perhaps his friends to attain it, I have said to myself, This man gives too much for his whistle.

When I saw another fond of popularity, constantly employing himself in political bustles, neglecting his own affairs, and ruining them by that neglect, He pays, indeed, said I, too much for his whistle. . . .

If I see one fond of appearance or fine clothes, fine houses, fine furniture, fine equipages, all above his fortune, for which he contracts debts and ends his career in a prison, Alas! say I, he has paid dear, very dear for his whistle. . . .

In short, I conceive that a great part of the miseries of mankind are brought upon them by the false estimates they have made of the value of things and by their giving too much for their whistles.

Yet I ought to have charity for these unhappy people, when I consider that with all this wisdom of which I am boasting, there are certain things in the world so tempting, for example, the apples of King John, which happily are not to be bought; for if they were put to sale by auction I might very easily be led to ruin myself in the purchase, and find that I had once more given too much for the whistle.



In spite of all the learned have said, I still my old opinion keep: The posture that we give the dead Points out the soul's eternal sleep.

Not so the ancients of these lands: The Indian, when from life released, Again is seated with his friends, And shares again the joyous feast.

His imaged birds and painted bowl And venison, for a journey dressed, Bespeak the nature of the soul, Activity that knows no rest.

His bow for action ready bent, And arrows with a head of stone, Can only mean that life is spent, And not the finer essence gone.

Thou, stranger that shalt come this way. No fraud upon the dead commit— Observe the swelling turf and say, They do not lie, but here they sit.

Here still a lofty rock remains, On which the curious eye may trace (Now wasted half by wearing rains) The fancies of a ruder race.

Here still an aged elm aspires, Beneath whose far-projecting shade (And which the shepherd still admires) The children of the forest played.

There oft a restless Indian queen (Pale Sheba with her braided hair), And many a barbarous form is seen To chide the man that lingers there.

By midnight moons, o'er moistening dews, In vestments for the chase arrayed, The hunter still the deer pursues, The hunter and the deer—a shade!

And long shall timorous Fancy see The painted chief and pointed spear, And Reason's self shall bow the knee To shadows and delusions here.



[From the Reply to Hayne, January 25, 1830.]

I profess, sir, in my career hitherto, to have kept steadily in view the prosperity and honor of the whole country, and the preservation of our Federal Union. It is to that Union we owe our safety at home and our consideration and dignity abroad. It is to that Union that we are chiefly indebted for whatever makes us most proud of our country. That Union we readied only by the discipline of our virtues in the severe school of adversity. It had its origin in the necessities of disordered finance, prostrate commerce, and ruined credit. Under its benign influences these great interests immediately awoke as from the dead and sprang forth with newness of life. Every year of its duration has teemed with fresh proofs of its utility and its blessings; and although our territory has stretched out wider and wider and our population spread farther and farther, they have not outrun its protection or its benefits. It has been to us all a copious fountain of national, social, and personal happiness.

I have not allowed myself, sir, to look beyond the Union to see what might lie hidden in the dark recess behind. I have not coolly weighed the chances of preserving liberty when the bonds that unite us together shall be broken asunder. I have not accustomed myself to hang over the precipice of disunion to see whether with my short sight I can fathom the depth of the abyss below, nor could I regard him as a safe counselor in the affairs of this government whose thoughts should be mainly bent on considering not how the Union may be best preserved, but how tolerable might be the condition of the people when it should be broken up and destroyed. While the Union lasts we have high, exciting, gratifying prospects spread out before us, for us and our children. Beyond that I seek not to penetrate the veil. God grant that in my day at least that curtain may not rise! God grant that on my vision never may be opened what lies beyond! When my eyes shall be turned to behold for the last time the sun in heaven, may I not see him shining on the broken and dishonored fragments of a once glorious Union; on States dissevered, discordant, belligerent; on a land rent with civil feuds, or drenched, it may be, in fraternal blood! Let their last feeble and lingering glance rather behold the gorgeous ensign of the Republic, now known and honored throughout the earth, still full high advanced, its arms and trophies streaming in their original luster, not a stripe erased or polluted, not a single star obscured, bearing for its motto no such miserable interrogatory as "What is all this worth?" nor those other words of delusion and folly, "Liberty first; and Union afterward;" but every-where, spread all over in characters of living light, blazing on all its ample folds as they float over the sea and over the land, and in every wind under the whole heavens, that other sentiment dear to every true American heart—Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable!


[From the same.]

When I shall be found, sir, in my place here in the Senate, or elsewhere, to sneer at public merit because it happens to spring up beyond the little limits of my own State or neighborhood; when I refuse, for any such cause, or for any cause, the homage due to American talent, to elevated patriotism, to sincere devotion to liberty and the country; or, if I see an uncommon endowment of Heaven, if I see extraordinary capacity and virtue, in any son of the South; and if, moved by local prejudices or gangrened by State jealousy, I get up here to abate the tithe of a hair from his just character and just fame, may my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth!

Sir, let me recur to pleasing recollections; let me indulge in refreshing remembrances of the past; let me remind you that, in early times, no States cherished greater harmony, both of principle and feeling, than Massachusetts and South Carolina. Would to God that harmony might again return! Shoulder to shoulder they went through the Revolution, hand in hand they stood round the administration of Washington, and felt his own great arm lean on them for support. Unkind feeling, if it exist, alienation and distrust are the growth, unnatural to such soils, of false principle; since sown. They are weeds, the seeds of which that same great arm never scattered.

Mr. President, I shall enter upon no encomium of Massachusetts; she needs none. There she is. Behold her and judge for yourselves. There is her history; the world knows it by heart. The past, at least, is secure. There is Boston, and Concord, and Lexington, and Bunker Hill; and there they will remain forever. The bones of her sons, falling in the great struggle for independence, now lie mingled with the soil of every State from New England to Georgia, and there they will lie forever. And, sir, where American liberty raised its first voice, and where its youth was nurtured and sustained, there it still lives, in the strength of its manhood, and full of its original spirit. If discord and disunion shall wound it, if party strife and blind ambition shall hawk at and tear it, if folly and madness, if uneasiness under salutary and necessary restraint shall succeed in separating it from that Union by which alone its existence is made sure, it will stand, in the end, by the side of that cradle in which its infancy was rocked; it will stretch forth its arm with whatever of vigor it may still retain, over the friends who gather round it; and it will fall at last, if fall it must, amidst the profoundest monuments of its own glory, and on the very spot of its origin.



[From Bracebridge Hall.]

In the golden age of the province of the New Netherlands, when under the sway of Wouter Van Twiller, otherwise called the Doubter, the people of the Manhattoes were alarmed one sultry afternoon, just about the time of the summer solstice, by a tremendous storm of thunder and lightning. The rain fell in such torrents as absolutely to spatter up and smoke along the ground. It seemed as if the thunder rattled and rolled over the very roofs of the houses; the lightning was seen to play about the Church of St. Nicholas, and to strive three times in vain to strike its weather-cock. Garrett Van Horne's new chimney was split almost from top to bottom; and Boffne Mildeberger was struck speechless from his bald-faced mare just as he was riding into town. . . . At length the storm abated; the thunder sank into a growl, and the setting sun, breaking from under the fringed borders of the clouds, made the broad bosom of the bay to gleam like a sea of molten gold.

The word was given from the fort that a ship was standing up the bay. . . . She was a stout, round, Dutch-built vessel, with high bow and poop, and bearing Dutch colors. The evening sun gilded her bellying canvas as she came riding over the long waving billows. The sentinel who had given notice of her approach declared that he first got sight of her when she was in the center of the bay; and that she broke suddenly on his sight, just as if she had come out of the bosom of the black thunder-clouds. . . . The ship was now repeatedly hailed, but made no reply, and, passing by the fort, stood on up the Hudson. A gun was brought to bear on her, and, with some difficulty, loaded and fired by Hans Van Pelt, the garrison not being expert in artillery. The shot seemed absolutely to pass through the ship, and to skip along the water on the other side; but no notice was taken of it! What was strange, she had all her sails set, and sailed right against wind and tide, which were both down the river. . . . Thus she kept on, away up the river, lessening and lessening in the evening sunshine, until she faded from sight like a little white cloud melting away in the summer sky. . . .

Messengers were dispatched to various places on the river, but they returned without any tidings—the ship had made no port. Day after day, week after week elapsed, but she never returned down the Hudson. As, however, the council seemed solicitous for intelligence they had it in abundance. The captains of the sloops seldom arrived without bringing some report of having seen the strange ship at different parts of the river—sometimes near the Palisades, sometimes off Croton Point, and sometimes in the Highlands; but she never was reported as having been seen above the Highlands. The crews of the sloops, it is true, generally differed among themselves in their accounts of these apparitions; but that may have arisen from the uncertain situations in which they saw her. Sometimes it was by the flashes of the thunder-storm lighting up a pitchy night, and giving glimpses of her careering across Tappan Zee or the wide waste of Haverstraw Bay. At one moment she would appear close upon them, as if likely to run them down, and would throw them into great bustle and alarm, but the next flash would show her far off, always sailing against the wind. Sometimes, in quiet moonlight nights, she would be seen under some high bluff of the Highlands; all in deep shadow, excepting her top-sails glittering in the moonbeams; by the time, however, that the voyagers reached the place no ship was to be seen; and when they had passed on for some distance and looked back, behold! there she was again with her top-sails in the moonshine! Her appearance was always just after or just in the midst of unruly weather; and she was known among the skippers and voyagers of the Hudson by the name of "The Storm Ship."

These reports perplexed the governor and his council more than ever; and it would be useless to repeat the conjectures and opinions uttered on the subject. Some quoted cases in point of ships seen off the coast of New England navigated by witches and goblins. Old Hans Van Pelt, who had been more than once to the Dutch Colony at the Cape of Good Hope, insisted that this must be the Flying Dutchman which had so long haunted Table Bay, but being unable to make port had now sought another harbor. Others suggested that if it really was a supernatural apparition, as there was every natural reason to believe, it might be Hendrik Hudson and his crew of the Half-Moon, who, it was well known, had once run aground in the upper part of the river in seeking a north-west passage to China. This opinion had very little weight with the governor, but it passed current out of doors; for indeed it had always been reported that Hendrik Hudson and his crew haunted the Kaatskill Mountains; and it appeared very reasonable to suppose that his ship might infest the river where the enterprise was baffled, or that it might bear the shadowy crew to their periodical revels in the mountain. . . .

People who live along the river insist that they sometimes see her in summer moonlight, and that in a deep still midnight they have heard the chant of her crew, as if heaving the lead; but sights and sounds are so deceptive along the mountainous shores, and about the wide bays and long reaches of this great river, that I confess I have very strong doubts upon the subject. It is certain, nevertheless, that strange things have been seen in these Highlands in storms, which are considered as connected with the old story of the ship. The captains of the river craft talk of a little bulbous-bottomed Dutch goblin, in trunk hose and sugar-loafed hat, with a speaking-trumpet in his hand, which, they say, keeps about the Dunderberg. They declare that they have heard him, in stormy weather, in the midst of the turmoil, giving orders in Low Dutch for the piping up of a fresh gust of wind or the rattling off of another thunder-clap; that sometimes he has been seen surrounded by a crew of little imps in broad breeches and short doublets, tumbling head-over-heels in the rack and mist, and playing a thousand gambols in the air, or buzzing like a swarm of flies about Anthony's Nose; and that, at such times, the hurry-scurry of the storm was always greatest. One time a sloop, in passing by the Dunderberg, was overtaken by a thunder-gust that came scouring round the mountain, and seemed to burst just over the vessel. Though light and well ballasted she labored dreadfully, and the water came over the gunwale. All the crew were amazed when it was discovered that there was a little white sugar-loaf hat on the masthead, known at once to be the hat of the Herr of the Dunderberg. Nobody, however, dared to climb to the mast-head and get rid of this terrible hat. The sloop continued laboring and rocking, as if she would have rolled her mast overboard, and seemed in continual danger either of upsetting or of running on shore. In this way she drove quite through the Highlands, until she had passed Pollopol's Island, where, it is said, the jurisdiction of the Dunderberg potentate ceases. No sooner had she passed this bourn than the little hat spun up into the air like a top, whirled up all the clouds into a vortex, and hurried them back to the summit of the Dunderberg, while the sloop righted herself and sailed on as quietly as if in a mill-pond. Nothing saved her from utter wreck but the fortunate circumstance of having a horse-shoe nailed against the mast—a wise precaution against evil spirits, since adopted by all the Dutch captains that navigate this haunted river.



[From The Deerslayer.]

In the position in which the ark had now got, the castle was concealed from view by the projection of a point, as, indeed, was the northern extremity of the lake itself. A respectable mountain, forest-clad, and rounded like all the rest, limited the view in that direction, stretching immediately across the whole of the fair scene,[1] with the exception of a deep bay that passed its western end, lengthening the basin for more than a mile. The manner in which the water flowed out of the lake, beneath the leafy arches of the trees that lined the sides of the stream, has already been mentioned, and it has also been said that the rock, which was a favorite place of rendezvous throughout all that region, and where Deerslayer now expected to meet his friend, stood near this outlet and no great distance from the shore. It was a large isolated stone that rested on the bottom of the lake, apparently left there when the waters tore away the earth from around it, in forcing for themselves a passage down the river, and which had obtained its shape from the action of the elements during the slow progress of centuries. The height of this rock could scarcely equal six feet, and, as has been said, its shape was not unlike that which is usually given to bee-hives or to a hay-cock. The latter, indeed, gives the best idea, not only of its form, but of its dimensions. It stood, and still stands, for we are writing of real scenes, within fifty feet of the bank, and in water that was only two feet in depth, though there were seasons in which its rounded apex, if such a term can properly be used, was covered by the lake. Many of the trees stretched so far forward as almost to blend the rock with the shore, when seen from a little distance; and one tall pine in particular overhung it in a way to form a noble and appropriate canopy to a seat that had held many a forest chieftain, during the long succession of ages in which America and all it contained existed apart in mysterious solitude, a world by itself, equally without a familiar history and without an origin that the annals of man can catch.

When distant some two or three hundred feet from the shore Deerslayer took in his sail, and he dropped his grapnel as soon as he found the ark had drifted in a line that was directly to windward of the rock. The motion of the scow was then checked, when it was brought head to wind by the action of the breeze. As soon as this was done Deerslayer "paid out line," and suffered the vessel to "set down" upon the rock as fast as the light air would force it to leeward. Floating entirely on the surface, this was soon affected, and the young man checked the drift when he was told that the stern of the scow was within fifteen or eighteen feet of the desired spot.

In executing this maneuver, Deerslayer had proceeded promptly; for while he did not in the least doubt that he was both watched and followed by the foe, he believed he had distracted their movements by the apparent uncertainly of his own, and he knew they could have no means of ascertaining that the rock was his aim, unless, indeed, one of the prisoners had betrayed him—a chance so improbable in itself as to give him no concern. Notwithstanding the celerity and decision of his movements, he did not, however, venture so near the shore without taking due precautions to effect a retreat, in the event of its becoming necessary. He held the line in his hand, and Judith was stationed at a loop on the side of the cabin next the shore, where she could watch the beach and the rocks and give timely notice of the approach of either friend or foe. Hetty was also placed on watch, but it was to keep the trees overhead in view, lest some enemy might ascend one, and, by completely commanding the interior of the scow, render the defenses of the hut or cabin useless.

The sun had disappeared from the lake and valley when Deerslayer checked the ark in the manner mentioned. Still it wanted a few minutes to the true sunset, and he knew Indian punctuality too well to anticipate any unmanly haste in his friend. The great question was, whether, surrounded by enemies as he was known to be, he had escaped their toils. The occurrences of the last twenty-four hours must be a secret to him, and, like himself, Chingachgook was yet young on a war-path. It was true he came prepared to encounter the party that withheld his promised bride, but he had no means of ascertaining the extent of the danger he ran or the precise positions occupied by either friends or foes. In a word, the trained sagacity and untiring caution of an Indian were all he had to rely on amid the critical risks he unavoidably ran.

"Is the rock empty, Judith?" inquired Deerslayer, as soon as he had checked the drift of the ark, deeming it imprudent to venture unnecessarily near. "Is any thing to be seen of the Delaware chief?"

"Nothing, Deerslayer. Neither rock, shore, tree, nor lake seems to have ever held a human form."

"Keep close, Judith—keep close, Hetty—a rifle has a prying eye, a nimble foot, and a desperate fatal tongue. Keep close, then, but keep up actyve looks, and be on the alart. 'Twould grieve me to the heart did any harm befall either of you."

"And you, Deerslayer!" exclaimed Judith, turning her handsome face from the loop, to bestow a gracious and grateful look on the young man; "do you 'keep close' and have a proper care that the savages do not catch a glimpse of you! A bullet might be as fatal to you as to one of us, and the blow that you felt would be felt by all."

"No fear of me, Judith—no fear of me, my good gal. Do not look this-a-way, although you look so pleasant and comely, but keep your eyes on the rock and the shore and the—"

Deerslayer was interrupted by a slight exclamation from the girl, who, in obedience to his hurried gestures, as much as in obedience to his words, had immediately bent her looks again in the opposite direction.

"What is't?—what is't, Judith?" he hastily demanded. "Is any thing to be seen?"

"There is a man on the rock!—an Indian warrior in his paint, and armed!"

"Where does he wear his hawk's feather?" eagerly added Deerslayer, relaxing his hold of the line, in readiness to drift nearer to the place of rendezvous. "Is it fast to the warlock, or does he carry it above the left ear?"

"'Tis as you say, above the left ear; he smiles, too, and mutters the word 'Mohican.'"

"God be praised, 'tis the Sarpent at last!" exclaimed the young man, suffering the line to slip through his hands until, hearing a light bound in the other end of the craft, he instantly checked the rope and began to haul it in again under the assurance that his object was effected.

At that moment the door of the cabin was opened hastily, and a warrior darting through the little room stood at Deerslayer's side, simply uttering the exclamation "Hugh!" At the next instant Judith and Hetty shrieked, and the air was filled with the yell of twenty savages, who came leaping through the branches down the bank, some actually falling headlong into the water in their haste.

"Pull, Deerslayer," cried Judith, hastily barring the door, in order to prevent an inroad by the passage through which the Delaware had just entered; "pull for life and death—the lake is full of savages wading after us!"

The young men—for Chingachgook immediately came to his friend's assistance—needed no second bidding, but they applied themselves to their task in a way that showed how urgent they deemed the occasion. The great difficulty was in suddenly overcoming the vis inertiae of so large a mass; for, once in motion, it was easy to cause the scow to skim the water with all the necessary speed.

"Pull, Deerslayer, for heaven's sake!" cried Judith, again at the loop. "These wretches rush into the water like hounds following their prey! Ah! The scow moves! and now the water deepens to the armpits of the foremost; still they rush forward and will seize the ark!"

A slight scream and then a joyous laugh followed from the girl; the first produced by a desperate effort of their pursuers, and the last by its failure, the scow, which had now got fairly in motion, gliding ahead into deep water with a velocity that set the designs of their enemies at naught. As the two men were prevented by the position of the cabin from seeing what passed astern, they were compelled to inquire of the girls into the state of the chase.

"What now, Judith?—what next? Do the Mingoes still follow, or are we quit of 'em for the present?" demanded Deerslayer when he felt the rope yielding, as if the scow was going fast ahead, and heard the scream and the laugh of the girl almost in the same breath.

"They have vanished!—one, the last, is just burying himself in the bushes of the bank—there! he has disappeared in the shadows of the trees! You have got your friend and we are all safe!"

[1] Otsego Lake.



Whither, 'midst falling dew, While glow the heavens with the last steps of day, Far through their rosy depths dost thou pursue Thy solitary way?

Vainly the fowler's eye Might mark thy distant flight to do thee wrong, As, darkly seen against the crimson sky, Thy figure floats along.

Seek'st thou the plashy brink Of weedy lake or marge of river wide, Or where the rocking billows rise and sink On the chafed ocean side?

There is a power whose care Teaches thy way along that pathless coast— The desert and illimitable air— Lone wandering but not lost.

All day thy wings have fanned, At that far height, the cold, thin atmosphere Yet stoop not, weary, to the welcome land, Though the dark night is near.

And soon, that toil shall end; Soon, shalt thou find a summer home and rest, And scream among thy fellows; reeds shall bend Soon o'er thy sheltered nest.

Thou'rt gone, the abyss of heaven Hath swallowed up thy form; yet on my heart Deeply hath sunk the lesson thou hast given, And shall not soon depart.

He who, from zone to zone, Guides through the boundless sky thy certain flight, In the long way that I must tread alone, Will lead my steps aright.


The melancholy days are come, The saddest of the year, Of wailing winds and naked woods, And meadows brown and sere. Heaped in the hollows of the grove, The autumn leaves lie dead; They rustle to the eddying gust, And to the rabbit's tread. The robin and the wren are flown, And from the shrubs the jay, And from the wood-top calls the crow Through all the gloomy day.

Where are the flowers, the fair young flowers, That lately sprang and stood In brighter light and softer airs, A beauteous sisterhood? Alas! they all are in their graves; The gentle race of flowers Are lying in their lowly beds With the fair and good of ours. The rain is falling where they lie, But the cold November rain Calls not, from out the gloomy earth, The lovely ones again.

The wind-flower and the violet, They perished long ago, And the brier-rose and the orchis died Amid the summer glow; But on the hill the golden-rod, And the aster in the wood, And the yellow sun-flower by the brook In autumn beauty stood, Till fell the frost from the clear cold heaven, As falls the plague on men, And the brightness of their smile was gone From upland, glade, and glen.

And now when comes the calm, mild day, As still such days will come, To call the squirrel and the bee From out their winter home; When the sound of dropping nuts is heard, Though all the trees are still, And twinkle in the smoky light The waters of the rill, The south wind searches for the flowers Whose fragrance late he bore, And sighs to find them in the wood And by the stream no more.

And then I think of one who in Her youthful beauty died, The fair meek blossom that grew up And faded by my side; In the cold, moist earth we laid her, When the forest cast the leaf, And we wept that one so lovely Should have a life so brief. Yet not unmeet it was that one, Like that young friend of ours, So gentle and so beautiful, Should perish with the flowers.


[From Thanatopsis.]

Yet not to thine eternal resting-place Shalt thou retire alone, nor could'st thou wish Couch more magnificent. Thou shalt lie down With patriarchs of the infant world—with kings, The powerful of the earth—the wise, the good, Fair forms, and hoary seers of ages past, All in one mighty sepulcher. The hills, Rock-ribb'd and ancient as the sun,—the vales Stretching in pensive quietness between; The venerable woods—rivers that move In majesty, and the complaining brooks That make the meadows green; and, poured round all, Old Ocean's gray and melancholy waste,— Are but the solemn decorations all Of the great tomb of man. The golden sun, The planets, all the infinite host of heaven, Are shining on the sad abodes of death, Through the still lapse of ages. All that tread The globe are but a handful to the tribes That slumber in its bosom. Take the wings Of morning, traverse Barca's desert sands, Or lose thyself in the continuous woods Where rolls the Oregon, and hears no sound Save his own dashings—yet the dead are there: And millions in those solitudes, since first The flight of years began, have laid them down In their last sleep—the dead reign there alone.

* * * * * *

So live, that when thy summons comes to join The innumerable caravan, which moves To that mysterious realm, where each shall take His chamber in the silent halls of death, Thou go not, like the quarry-slave at night, Scourged to his dungeon, but, sustained and soothed By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave, Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.



[From Nature.]

To speak truly, few adult persons can see nature. Most persons do not see the sun. At least they have a very superficial seeing. The sun illuminates only the eye of the man, but shines into the eye and the heart of the child. The lover of nature is he whose inward and outward senses are still truly adjusted to each other; who has retained the spirit of infancy even into the era of manhood. His intercourse with heaven and earth becomes part of his daily food. In the presence of nature a wild delight runs through the man, in spite of real sorrows. Nature says, He is my creature, and mauger all his impertinent griefs, he shall be glad with me. Not the sun or the summer alone, but every hour and season yields its tribute of delight; for every hour and change corresponds to and authorizes a different state of the mind, from breathless noon to grimmest midnight. Nature is a setting that fits equally well a comic or a mourning piece. In good health, the air is a cordial of incredible virtue. Crossing a bare common, in snow puddles, at twilight, under a clouded sky, without having in my thoughts any occurrence of special good fortune, I have enjoyed a perfect exhilaration. I am glad to the brink of fear. In the woods, too, a man casts off his years, as the snake his slough, and at what period soever of life is always a child. In the woods is perpetual youth. Within these plantations of God a decorum and sanctity reigns, a perennial festival is dressed, and the guest sees not how he should tire of them in a thousand years. In the woods we return to reason and faith. There I feel that nothing can befall me in life—no disgrace, no calamity (leaving me my eyes), which nature cannot repair. Standing on the bare ground—my head bathed by the blithe air, and uplifted into infinite space—all mean egotism vanishes, I become a transparent eyeball; I am nothing; I see all; the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or particle of God. The name of the nearest friend sounds there foreign and accidental; to be brothers, to be acquaintances—master or servant, is then a trifle and a disturbance. I am the lover of uncontained and immortal beauty. In the wilderness I find something more dear and connate than in streets or villages. In the tranquil landscape, and especially in the distant line of the horizon, man beholds somewhat as beautiful as his own nature.

The greatest delight which the fields and woods minister is the suggestion of an occult relation between man and the vegetable. I am not alone and unacknowledged. They nod to me, and I to them. The waving of the boughs in the storm is new to me and old. It takes me by surprise, and yet is not unknown. . . .

I see the spectacle of morning from the hill-top over against my house, from daybreak to sunrise, with emotions which an angel might share. The long slender bars of cloud float like fishes in the sea of crimson light. From the earth, as a shore, I look out into that silent sea. I seem to partake its rapid transformations; the active enchantment reaches my dust, and I dilate and conspire with the morning wind. How does Nature deify us with a few and cheap elements! Give me health and a day, and I will make the pomp of emperors ridiculous. The dawn is my Assyria; the sunset and moonrise my Paphos, and unimaginable realms of faerie; broad noon shall be my England of the senses and the understanding; the night shall be my Germany of mystic philosophy and dreams.

Not less excellent, except for our less susceptibility in the afternoon, was the charm, last evening, of a January sunset. The western clouds divided and subdivided themselves into pink flakes modulated with tints of unspeakable softness; and the air had so much life and sweetness that it was a pain to come within doors. What was it that Nature would say? Was there no meaning in the live repose of the valley behind the mill, and which Homer or Shakespeare could not re-form for me in words? The leafless trees become spires of flame in the sunset, with the blue east for their background, and the stars of the dead calices of flowers, and every withered stem and stubble ruined with frost, contribute something to the mute music.


[From the same.]

To the senses and the unrenewed understanding belongs a sort of instinctive belief in the absolute existence of nature. In their view man and nature are indissolubly joined. Things are ultimates, and they never look beyond their sphere. The presence of Reason mars this faith. . . . Nature is made to conspire with spirit to emancipate us. Certain mechanical changes, a small alteration in our local position, apprises us of a dualism. We are strangely affected by seeing the shore from a moving ship, from a balloon, or through the tints of an unusual sky. The least change in our point of view gives the whole world a pictorial air. A man who seldom rides needs only to get into a coach and traverse his own town, to turn the street into a puppet-show. The men, the women—talking, running, bartering, fighting—the earnest mechanic, the lounger, the beggar, the boys, the dogs are unrealized at once, or at least wholly detached from all relation to the observer, and seen as apparent, not substantial, beings. What new thoughts are suggested by seeing a face of country quite familiar, in the rapid movement of the railway car! Nay, the most wonted objects (make a very slight change in the point of vision) please us most. In a camera obscura the butcher's cart and the figure of one of our own family amuse us. So a portrait of a well-known face gratifies us. Turn the eyes upside down, by looking at the landscape through your legs, and how agreeable is the picture, though you have seen it any time these twenty years!

In these cases, by mechanical means, is suggested the difference between the observer and the spectacle, between the man and nature. Hence arises a pleasure mixed with awe; I may say, a low degree of the sublime is felt from the fact, probably, that man is hereby apprised, that whilst the world is a spectacle, something in himself is stable.


In May, when sea-winds pierced our solitudes, I found the fresh Rhodora in the woods, Spreading its leafless blooms in a damp nook, To please the desert and the sluggish brook. The purple petals, fallen in the pool, Made the black water with their beauty gay; Here might the red bird come his plumes to cool, And court the flower that cheapens his array. Rhodora! if the sages ask thee why This charm is wasted on the earth and sky, Tell them, dear, that if eyes were made for seeing, Then Beauty is its own excuse for being: Why thou wert there, O rival of the rose, I never thought to ask, I never knew: But, in my simple ignorance, suppose The self-same power that brought me there brought you.

[1] On being asked, Whence is the flower?


[Sung at the completion of the Concord Monument, April 19, 1836.]

By the rude bridge that arched the flood, Their flag to April's breeze unfurled, Here once the embattled farmers stood, And fired the shot heard round the world.

The foe long since in silence slept; Alike the conqueror silent sleeps; And time the ruined bridge has swept Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.

On this green bank, by this soft stream, We set to-day a votive stone; That memory may their deed redeem, When, like our sires, our sons are gone.

Spirit, that made those heroes dare To die, and leave their children free, Bid time and nature gently spare The shaft we raise to them and thee.



What a singular moment is the first one, when you have hardly begun to recollect yourself, after starting from midnight slumber! By unclosing your eyes so suddenly you seem to have surprised the personages of your dream in full convocation round your bed and catch one broad glance at them before they can flit into obscurity. Or, to vary the metaphor, you find yourself, for a single instant, wide awake in that realm of illusions whither sleep has been the passport, and behold its ghostly inhabitants and wondrous scenery with a perception of their strangeness such as you never attain while the dream is undisturbed. The distant sound of a church clock is borne faintly on the wind. You question with yourself, half seriously, whether it has stolen to your waking ear from some gray tower that stood within the precincts of your dream. While yet in suspense, another clock flings its heavy clang over the slumbering town with so full and distinct a sound, and such a long murmur in the neighboring air, that you are certain it must proceed from the steeple at the nearest corner. You count the strokes—one—two, and there they cease, with a booming sound, like the gathering of a third stroke within the bell.

If you could choose an hour of wakefulness out of the whole night it would be this. Since your sober bed-time, at eleven, you have had rest enough to take off the pressure of yesterday's fatigue; while before you till the sun comes from "far Cathay" to brighten your window there is almost the space of a summer night; one hour to be spent in thought, with the mind's eye half shut, and two in pleasant dreams, and two in that strangest of enjoyments, the forgetfulness alike of joy and woe. The moment of rising belongs to another period of time, and appears so distant that the plunge out of a warm bed into the frosty air cannot yet be anticipated with dismay. Yesterday has already vanished among the shadows of the past; to-morrow has not yet emerged from the future. You have found an intermediate space, where the business of life does not intrude, where the passing moment lingers and becomes truly the present; a spot where Father Time, when he thinks nobody is watching him, sits down by the way-side to take breath, O that he would fall asleep and let mortals live on without growing older!

Hitherto you have lain perfectly still, because the slightest motion would dissipate the fragments of your slumber. Now, being irrevocably awake, you peep through the half-drawn window-curtain and observe that the glass is ornamented with fanciful devices in frost-work, and that each pane presents something like a frozen dream. There will be time enough to trace out the analogy while waiting the summons to breakfast. Seen through the clear portion of the glass, where the silvery mountain peaks of the frost scenery do not ascend, the most conspicuous object is the steeple, the white spire of which directs you to the wintry luster of the firmament. You may almost distinguish the figures on the clock that has just tolled the hour. Such a frosty sky, and the snow-covered roofs, and the long vista of the frozen street, all white, and the distant water hardened into rock, might make you shiver, even under four blankets and a woolen comforter. Yet look at that one glorious star! Its beams are distinguishable from all the rest, and actually cast the shadow of the casement on the bed with a radiance of deeper hue than moonlight, though not so accurate an outline.

You sink down and muffle your head in the clothes, shivering all the while, but less from bodily chill than the bare idea of a polar atmosphere. It is too cold even for the thoughts to venture abroad. You speculate on the luxury of wearing out a whole existence in bed, like an oyster in its shell, content with the sluggish ecstasy of inaction, and drowsily conscious of nothing but delicious warmth, such as you now feel again. Ah! that idea has brought a hideous one in its train. You think how the dead are lying in their cold shrouds and narrow coffins through the drear winter of the grave, and cannot persuade your fancy that they neither shrink nor shiver when the snow is drifting over their little hillocks and the bitter blast howls against the door of the tomb. That gloomy thought will collect a gloomy multitude and throw its complexion over your wakeful hour.

In the depths of every heart there is a tomb and a dungeon, though the lights, the music, and revelry above may cause us to forget their existence, and the buried ones or prisoners whom they hide. But sometimes, and oftenest at midnight, these dark receptacles are flung wide open. In an hour like this, when the mind has a passive sensibility, but no active strength; when the imagination is a mirror, imparting vividness to all ideas without the power of selecting or controlling them, then pray that your griefs may slumber and the brotherhood of remorse not break their chain. It is too late! A funeral train comes gliding by your bed, in which Passion and Feeling assume bodily shape and things of the mind become dim specters to the eye. There is your earliest Sorrow, a pale young mourner, wearing a sister's likeness to first love, sadly beautiful, with a hallowed sweetness in her melancholy features and grace in the flow of her sable robe. Next appears a shade of ruined loveliness, with dust among her golden hair and her bright garments all faded and defaced, stealing from your glance with drooping head, as fearful of reproach; she was your fondest Hope, but a delusive one; so call her Disappointment now. A sterner form succeeds, with a brow of wrinkles, a look and gesture of iron authority; there is no name for him unless it be Fatality, an emblem of the evil influence that rules your fortunes; a demon to whom you subjected yourself by some error at the outset of life, and were bound his slave forever, by once obeying him. See! those fiendish lineaments graven on the darkness, the writhed lip of scorn, the mockery of that living eye, the pointed finger, touching the sore place in your heart! Do you remember any act of enormous folly, at which you would blush, even in the remotest cavern of the earth? Then recognize your Shame.

Pass, wretched band! Well for the wakeful one if, riotously miserable, a fiercer tribe do not surround him, the devils of a guilty heart, that holds its hell within itself. What if Remorse should assume the features of an injured friend? What if the fiend should come in woman's garments, with a pale beauty amid sin and desolation, and lie down by your side? What if he should stand at your bed's foot, in the likeness of a corpse, with a bloody stain upon the shroud? Sufficient without such guilt is this nightmare of the soul; this heavy, heavy sinking of the spirits; this wintry gloom about the heart; this indistinct horror of the mind, blending itself with the darkness of the chamber. . . . Now comes the peal of the distant clock, with fainter and fainter strokes as you plunge farther into the wilderness of sleep. It is the knell of a temporary death. Your spirit has departed, and strays like a free citizen, among the people of a shadowy world, beholding strange sights, yet without wonder or dismay. So calm, perhaps, will be the final change, so undisturbed, as if among familiar things. The entrance of the soul to its eternal home!



I have read, in some old marvelous tale, Some legend strange and vague, That a midnight host of specters pale Beleaguered the walls of Prague.

Beside the Moldau's rushing stream, With the wan moon overhead, There stood, as in an awful dream, The army of the dead.

White as a sea-fog, landward-bound, The spectral camp was seen, And, with a sorrowful deep sound, The river flowed between.

No other voice nor sound was there, No drum, nor sentry's pace; The mist-like banners clasped the air, As clouds with clouds embrace.

But when the old cathedral bell Proclaimed the morning prayer, The white pavilions rose and fell On the alarmed air.

Down the broad valley fast and far The troubled army fled; Up rose the glorious morning star, The ghastly host was dead.

I have read in the marvelous heart of man, That strange and mystic scroll, That an army of phantoms vast and wan Beleaguer the human soul.

Encamped beside Life's rushing stream, In Fancy's misty light, Gigantic shapes and shadows gleam Portentous through the night.

Upon its midnight battle-ground The spectral camp is seen, And, with a sorrowful deep sound, Flows the River of Life between.

No other voice nor sound is there, In the army of the grave; No other challenge breaks the air, But the rushing of life's wave.

And when the solemn and deep church-bell Entreats the soul to pray, The midnight phantoms feel the spell, The shadows sweep away.

Down the broad Vale of Tears afar The spectral camp is fled; Faith shineth as a morning star, Our ghastly fears are dead.


I saw, as in a dream sublime, The balance in the hand of Time. O'er East and West its beam impended; And day, with all its hours of light, Was slowly sinking out of sight, While, opposite, the scale of night Silently with the stars ascended.

Like the astrologers of eld, In that bright vision I beheld Greater and deeper mysteries. I saw, with its celestial keys, Its chords of air, its frets of fire, The Samian's great Aeolian lyre, Rising through all its sevenfold bars, From earth unto the fixed stars. And through the dewy atmosphere, Not only could I see, but hear, Its wondrous and harmonious strings, In sweet vibration, sphere by sphere, From Dian's circle light and near, Onward to vaster and wider rings, Where, chanting through his beard of snows, Majestic, mournful Saturn goes, And down the sunless realms of space Reverberates the thunder of his bass.

Beneath the sky's triumphal arch This music sounded like a march, And with its chorus seemed to be Preluding some great tragedy. Sirius was rising in the east; And, slow ascending one by one, The kindling constellations shone. Begirt with many a blazing star, Stood the great giant, Algebar, Orion, hunter of the beast! His sword hung gleaming by his side, And, on his arm, the lion's hide Scattered across the midnight air The golden radiance of its hair.

The moon was pallid, but not faint; And beautiful as some fair saint, Serenely moving on her way In hours of trial and dismay. As if she heard the voice of God, Unharmed with naked feet she trod Upon the hot and burning stars, As on the glowing coals and bars That were to prove her strength, and try Her holiness and her purity.

Thus moving on, with silent pace, And triumph in her sweet, pale face, She reached the station of Orion. Aghast he stood in strange alarm! And suddenly from his outstretched arm Down fell the red skin of the lion Into the river at his feet. His mighty club no longer beat The forehead of the bull; but he Reeled as of yore beside the sea, When, blinded by Oenopion, He sought the blacksmith at his forge, And, climbing up the mountain gorge, Fixed his blank eyes upon the sun, Then through the silence overhead, An angel with a trumpet said, "Forever more, forever more, The reign of violence is o'er." And, like an instrument that flings Its music on another's strings, The trumpet of the angel cast Upon the heavenly lyre its blast, And on from sphere to sphere the words Re-echoed down the burning chords,— "For evermore, for evermore, The reign of violence is o'er!"

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