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Lippincott's Magazine of Popular Literature and Science, Vol. XII. No. 31. October, 1873.
Author: Various
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As in Mrs. Hooper's version, the denoument was brought about by the aid of a clergyman. Men of this profession have always been considered the most efficient guardians against the powers of darkness. He, with the help of Mrs. M——, made the excavation in the cellar which brought to light the half-consumed skeleton. Here, unfortunately, is a gap in the evidence. The remains were pronounced by medical authority to be human, but was that authority reliable? was that doctor skilled in comparative anatomy? If not, the bones might have been those of a sheep, buried perchance in the cellar by a provident dog.

The house still stands, or did recently, in Washington street. The builder was a sea-captain returning after a long absence with plenty of money, supposed by the townspeople to have been acquired in the slave-trade or by piracy. There was also a young woman, house-keeper to this Captain Kidd, who disappeared about the time that he did himself.

Mrs. M—— was fond of narrating this story, and, having a pretty talent that way, she had versified it; though I am bound to say that in plain prose it was much more effective. She was an Englishwoman, had seen much of the world, and was a person of considerable reading and cultivation. She had moral and physical courage in an uncommon degree, and was thoroughly reliable, so that this story is to me as well authenticated as one can well be at second hand.

I have another incident of the same shadowy and quasi-supernatural kind to relate, which took place in the same street of that town, formerly much affected by ghosts and other supernatural appearances. I say formerly, for what spirit, however perturbed, could revisit the glimpses of the moon in a modern villa, or abide long within the sound of the steam-whistle?

Some years ago I was living in Newport in an old-fashioned house, also built by a retired sea-captain in the early part of the century, but, unlike the other, there were no tales of terror connected with it that I ever heard of. At 1 p.m. on a winter's day, in the midst of a furious snow-storm, as we sat at dinner, we heard a commotion in the kitchen. Instead of the expected joint, enter a pallid woman: "Oh, please come out and see Martha!" The lady of the house hastened to the kitchen, and found Martha, the cook, almost fainting upon a chair. "What is the matter?" As soon as she could speak she gasped out, "Oh, that face at the window!" The window of the kitchen looked out upon the garden, which had a high fence all around it. I at once ran out to see if any person was there: the ground was covered with a pure and untrodden surface of snow six or eight inches deep. This was rather startling, when inside the window a woman was fainting at the sight of some fearful appearance on the outside. I looked out on the street, which ran alongside the garden fence, and which was not much of a thoroughfare. There were no tracks to be seen in the snow. No human foot had lately been in the garden.

When the woman came to herself, she said that, suddenly looking up, she saw a female face with an agonized expression looking in at her from the window. On being asked if it was any one whom she knew, she replied that the face seemed familiar, but that she could not recall the name that belonged to it. After reflection she said that it looked like a daughter of hers whom she had not seen since she was a child. The girl had been brought up by a lady in another State, and was now a married woman, living in Vermont.

About a week afterward, Martha received a letter from the lady who had brought up her daughter, informing her that the young woman had recently died after a short illness, and that her great anxiety seemed to be to see her mother before she died. Some time after I wrote to the town indicated to ascertain the exact time of the young woman's death. The husband had moved away immediately after the funeral, but the town clerk replied that a person of the name mentioned had died there about the time mentioned in my letter. Here came the fatal gap in the evidence, which always seems to prevent the chain being perfect. If I could have obtained a certificate of the death having occurred on the day of the snow-storm, I should have found myself nearer to a ghost than I ever expect to be again till I become one myself. S.C. CLARKE.



NOTES.

Treatises on the "language of flowers" should, to be complete, give a chapter on their political significance. England had her War of the Roses; and of this contest a mild travesty may possibly be furnished in a French "Strife of the Flowers". The violet is the Bonapartist badge, and when, last spring, the emperor died in exile, and his partisans sought to show some outward token of their fidelity to his memory and his cause, violets began to bloom profusely in buttonholes as the half disguised emblem of the outlawed party. But there was one unexpected result of this demonstration, for in republican Marseilles the flower-merchants found their trade in violets declining, owing to the popular distrust of this once favorite and unassuming flower. It is almost incredible that the third city of France should have so thrown down the gauntlet to one of the sweetest gifts of Nature. But if upon the innocent violet is to be heaped the curse of Sedan, then when Bourbonism lifts its abashed head are lilies to be proscribed in the Lyons market as violets were darkly suspected in Marseilles? And if the radicals should make the red poppy their symbol, would it in turn be scorned by the lovers of the lily? If so, with the numerous parties, new and old, in France, what flower could a Frenchman wear or cultivate without danger of being mobbed by the partisans of some other emblem in politics?

* * * * *

Thousands of people who have passed the summer in the country, and have been accustomed to take long drives, will testify to noticing one great lack on the highways of our country. This lack is that of guide-posts. There is no more effectual way of giving a traveler a vivid impression of the sparsity of settlement in a rural district than to let him lose his way. Regions which he might otherwise have fancied to be densely peopled will seem to him strangely depopulated. In cities, where a hundred people can always be found between any two streets to tell you your whereabouts, we yet scrupulously post up signs at every corner; but in the country, where you may travel a mile before meeting a man or a house, hardly one in five of the junctions of thoroughfares are marked with guide-boards. This lack is perhaps more serious in the suburbs of large cities than elsewhere, since in thinly-settled districts the main road at least is generally easy to keep. Occasionally the post is a mocker, its painted letters being suffered to grow so dim with time as not to be decipherable; or perhaps the board has been carried off by a gale, or else turned the wrong way by some joker, who relies on the authorities to neglect the mischief. It would save much time and temper for wayfarers were guide-boards multiplied fourfold in all parts of the country.

* * * * *

When Von Moltke had conquered France, his first care for the future was to protect Germany, by the seizure of the French frontier fortresses, from all danger of successful attack in time to come; yet at Belfort one gap in the line has been left in the keeping of France—possibly, like the heel of Achilles, the point at which a hostile shaft may one day wound the German empire. The Berlin Boersenzeitung, which claims that with Metz, Strasburg, Mayence, Coblentz and Cologne, and with the enlargement of Ulm and Ingoldstadt and the new line of Bavarian defence, "Germany has a barrier of fortresses unequaled in the world," yet admits that the project of establishing a new German fortress near Mulhouse or Huningue, "so as to take the place of Belfort," has now been abandoned—a fact which seems to show that there is one little loophole in the defensive armor of Germany, otherwise invulnerable.

* * * * *

"A man may steal the livery of Heaven to serve the devil in." It has always been a favorite device of Napoleonism to dress itself up in the garb of popular government, and to appropriate the peculiar phrases of democracy, with a view to confound the distinction between the sovereign will of one and the sovereign will of the many. Napoleon III. enjoyed proclaiming himself the great champion of universal suffrage, although what his plebiscites really were the caustic pen of Kinglake has told us. The other day the French imperialists celebrated at Chiselhurst the fete of the late emperor; and there Prince Louis had the audacity to say: "Planting myself as an exile near the tomb of the emperor, I represent his teachings, which may be summarized in the motto, 'Govern for the people, by the people.'" The motto was a double plagiarism—a plagiarism in idea from the republican theory, and a plagiarism in expression from the immortal phrase, "government of the people, by the people, and for the people," pronounced by Lincoln at Gettysburg.

* * * * *

The most sensible, manly and independent address made to the shah during his European tour was, we think, the speech of welcome delivered by the president of the Swiss Confederation. We may premise that the shah is the first sovereign who, as such, has become the guest of Switzerland since the meeting of the Council of Constance in the fifteenth century. Still, the Swiss people did not show themselves overcome, but received their guest with a sober and dignified cordiality—a sail, a dinner without speeches, and a magnificent illumination of Geneva and the lake providing the entertainment. On arriving at the railroad station the shah was greeted by the Swiss president in words which we render literally as follows: "Royal Majesty: I welcome you in the name of the authorities of the Swiss Confederation. You do not expect to find here the sumptuous greeting of the great nations which surround us. We have to show you neither a standing army nor the splendors of a fleet. You come into the midst of a people that owes to liberty and to labor the place that it has made for itself in Europe, and it is in the name of this free people that the Federal Council offers you hospitality." The severe simplicity of this address is the more tasteful since its strength and manliness do not rob it of a tithe of its courtesy, which last quality becomes indeed all the more striking from the absence of that Oriental profusion of epithets and compliments which the shah had received at every previous step in his European travels.



LITERATURE OF THE DAY.

The Intellectual Life. By Philip Gilbert Hamerton. Boston: Roberts Brothers.

A man of fair culture and a frequenter of cultured society pleads in these pages the attractions of an intellectual bias or life-training: he pleads to all accessible classes—to the curate and to the nobleman, "to a country gentleman who regretted that his son had the tendencies of a dilettante," "to a lady of high culture who found it difficult to associate with persons of her own sex," and so on. Over seventy different addresses are included, each in the form of a letter, which, though not necessarily ever posted, is really aimed at a specific person known to the author and distinctively spoken to. The effort is to reconcile culture with the world of practice and morals, and answer or forestall the objections of religion or utilitarianism. Mr. Hamerton talks with great self-possession to the highest class within ear-shot, and matches a late stricture of Mr. Ruskin's—that English noblemen exist to shoot little birds—with another on the influence of railways in sending back the upper ranks to a state of nomadic barbarism. "Their life," he says, "may be quite accurately described as a return, on a scale of unprecedented splendor and comfort, to the life of tribes in that stage of human development which is known as the period of the chase: they migrate from one hunting-ground to another as the diminution of the game impels them." He points out a curious reaction in the spirit of this class: formerly they loved to lard their speech with Latin and Greek to keep the ignorant in their places; but now, that cheap education has endowed the tradesman with Latin and Greek, there is a tendency to feel toward intellectual culture much as the barons did away back in the Dark Ages, and to outdazzle by mere show of costly pleasure the class they can no longer excel in learned polish. After all, the great question in recommending culture is the question of its effect on morals: if the effect of poetry and art is weakening to the moral sense, as many have claimed from Socrates to Augustine, then letters have no ethical reason for existence. Our author, who has a habit of continually turning his tapestry to see the aspect of the other side, is very sensible of a characteristic in people of extreme culture to allow Nature her most contradictory reactions. This tendency, opposed as it is to all our ideal conceptions of the intellectual life, is the merest commonplace of biography. "The most exquisitely delicate artists in literature and painting have frequently had reactions of incredible coarseness. Within the Chateaubriand of Atala there existed an obscene Chateaubriand that would burst forth in talk that no biographer would repeat. I have heard the same thing of the sentimental Lamartine. We know that Turner, dreamer of enchanted landscapes, took the pleasures of a sailor on the spree. A friend said to me of one of the most exquisite living geniuses, 'You can have no conception of the coarseness of his tastes: he associates with the very lowest women, and enjoys their rough brutality.'" To this specious and damaging objection our author makes the excellent reply, that in observing whole classes we generally see an advance in morals go along with an advance in culture. The gentleman of the present day is superior to his forefather whom Fielding described: he is better read and better educated, and at the same time more sober and more chaste. The man of genius does not, then, by his oscillations of temperament, retard or misdirect the company whose course he points. It is an interesting question, nevertheless, what are the moral standards of our apologist for the intellectual life, and what degree of ethical perfection would satisfy him in a world of various spheres all regenerated by culture. There is one letter in which he undertakes to pick out the special virtue which most helps his ideal way of life, and here, in chanting the praises of disinterestedness, he takes rather a superior tone toward so homespun a grace as honesty: "The truth is, that mere honesty, though a most respectable and necessary virtue, goes a very little way toward the forming of an effective intellectual character." This refinement of ethics, which leaves the humdrum commandments away out of sight, is doubtless very fine, but we cannot be sure that Mr. Hamerton has the same standard for all the different strata of people whom he addresses. Pretty soon we find him addressing a young clergyman, who appears to have apprehensions lest intellectual doubts may come to disturb his satisfaction in Bible-teaching. To this the author replies with the following odd encouragement: "It may be observed, however, that the regular performance of priestly functions is in itself a great help to permanence in belief by connecting it closely with practical habit, so that the clergy do really and honestly often retain through life their hold on early beliefs which as laymen they might have lost." This hint on the efficacy of continued rowing for stopping a leak in the bottom, if it be really meant for encouragement, shows an odd principle of honor, if not of "honesty." When it comes to the large and attractive class which some persons call "females," Mr. Hamerton abandons with ready grace his moral colors, and falls at once into the easiest tones proper to a man of the world. "You must not be didactic with ladies," he says; and in the capital story about the mother-in-law he appears to side with the polite French gendre who said to every proposition, "Yes, mother dear, you are quite right," and to have much sympathy with the learned Scotch lawyer who observed that there was not whisky enough in all Scotland to make him frank with his wife. Mr. Hamerton, in fact, spoiled son of fortune that he is, cannot keep for a long time the austerity of tone which belongs to a deliberate apology for culture: he therefore does what is better in taking the desirableness of his ideal for granted, and in lifting it out of the sloughs into which it has fallen in the muddy minds of many sorts of people, by pleasantly talking and chatting, en attendant that Hercules shall come down and shoulder on the car of progress.

Books Received.

The City of Mocross, and its Famous Physician. By the author of "Morcroft Hatch," etc. Boston: Henry Hoyt.

Tom Racquet, and his Three Maiden Aunts. By Frank E. Smedley. Philadelphia: T. B. Peterson & Brothers.

Miriam Rosenbaum: A Story of Jewish Life. By Rev. Dr. Edersheim. Illustrated. Boston: Henry Hoyt.

Frank Fairleigh. By Frank E. Smedley. Philadelphia: T.B. Peterson & Brothers.

Jessie's Work: A Story for Girls. Illustrated. Boston: Henry Hoyt.

THE END

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