"Why didn't you go with him, Harry?" I asked.
"Oh, Miss, 't wasn't 'cause Massa didn't try to 'suade me. He tell we dat de Yankees would shoot we, or would sell we to Cuba, an' do all de wust tings to we, when dey come. 'Bery well, Sar,' says I. 'If I go wid you, I be good as dead. If I stay here, I can't be no wust; so if I got to dead, I might's well dead here as anywhere. So I'll stay here an' wait for de "dam Yankees."' Lor', Miss, I knowed he wasn't tellin' de truth all de time."
"But why didn't you believe him, Harry?"
"Dunno, Miss; somehow we hear de Yankees was our friends, an' dat we'd be free when dey come, an' 'pears like we believe dat."
I found this to be true of nearly all the people I talked with, and I thought it strange they should have had so much faith in the Northerners. Truly, for years past, they had had but little cause to think them very friendly. Cupid told us that his master was so daring as to come back, after he had fled from the island, at the risk of being taken prisoner by our soldiers; and that he ordered the people to get all the furniture together and take it to a plantation on the opposite side of the creek, and to stay on that side themselves. "So," said Cupid, "dey could jus' sweep us all up in a heap, an' put us in de boat. An' he telled me to take Patience—dat's my wife—an' de chil'en down to a certain pint, an' den I could come back, if I choose. Jus' as if I was gwine to be sich a goat!" added he, with a look and gesture of ineffable contempt. He and the rest of the people, instead of obeying their master, left the place and hid themselves in the woods; and when he came to look for them, not one of all his "faithful servants" was to be found. A few, principally house-servants, had previously been carried away.
In the evenings, the children frequently came in to sing and shout for us. These "shouts" are very strange,—in truth, almost indescribable. It is necessary to hear and see in order to have any clear idea of them. The children form a ring, and move around in a kind of shuffling dance, singing all the time. Four or five stand apart, and sing very energetically, clapping their hands, stamping their feet, and rocking their bodies to and fro. These are the musicians, to whose performance the shouters keep perfect time. The grown people on this plantation did not shout, but they do on some of the other plantations. It is very comical to see little children, not more than three or four years old, entering into the performance with all their might. But the shouting of the grown people is rather solemn and impressive than otherwise. We cannot determine whether it has a religious character or not. Some of the people tell us that it has, others that it has not. But as the shouts of the grown people are always in connection with their religious meetings, it is probable that they are the barbarous expression of religion, handed down to them from their African ancestors, and destined to pass away under the influence of Christian teachings. The people on this island have no songs. They sing only hymns, and most of these are sad. Prince, a large black boy from a neighboring plantation, was the principal shouter among the children. It seemed impossible for him to keep still for a moment. His performances were most amusing specimens of Ethiopian gymnastics. Amaretta the younger, a cunning, kittenish little creature of only six years old, had a remarkably sweet voice. Her favorite hymn, which we used to hear her singing to herself as she walked through the yard, is one of the oddest we have heard:—
"What makes old Satan follow me so? Satan got nuttin' 't all fur to do wid me.
"Tiddy Rosa, hold your light! Brudder Tony, hold your light! All de member, hold bright light On Canaan's shore!"
This is one of the most spirited shouting-tunes. "Tiddy" is their word for sister.
A very queer-looking old man came into the store one day. He was dressed in a complete suit of brilliant Brussels carpeting. Probably it had been taken from his master's house after the "gun-shoot"; but he looked so very dignified that we did not like to question him about it. The people called him Doctor Crofts,—which was, I believe, his master's name, his own being Scipio. He was very jubilant over the new state of things, and said to Mr. H.,—"Don't hab me feelins hurt now. Used to hab me feelins hurt all de time. But don't hab 'em hurt now no more." Poor old soul! We rejoiced with him that he and his brethren no longer have their "feelins" hurt, as in the old time.
* * * * *
On the Sunday before Thanksgiving, General Saxton's noble Proclamation was read at church. We could not listen to it without emotion. The people listened with the deepest attention, and seemed to understand and appreciate it. Whittier has said of it and its writer,—"It is the most beautiful and touching official document I ever read. God bless him! 'The bravest are the tenderest.'"
General Saxton is truly worthy of the gratitude and admiration with which the people regard him. His unfailing kindness and consideration for them—so different from the treatment they have sometimes received at the hands of other officers—have caused them to have unbounded confidence in General "Saxby," as they call him.
After the service, there were six couples married. Some of the dresses were unique. One was particularly fine,—doubtless a cast-off dress of the bride's former mistress. The silk and lace, ribbons, feathers and flowers, were in a rather faded and decayed condition. But, comical as the costumes were, we were not disposed to laugh at them. We were too glad to see the poor creatures trying to lead right and virtuous lives. The legal ceremony, which was formerly scarcely known among them, is now everywhere consecrated. The constant and earnest advice of the minister and teachers has not been given in vain; nearly every Sunday there are several couples married in church. Some of them are people who have grown old together.
Thanksgiving-Day was observed as a general holiday. According to General Saxton's orders, an ox had been killed on each plantation, that the people might that day have fresh meat, which was a great luxury to them, and, indeed, to all of us. In the morning, a large number—superintendents, teachers, and freed people—assembled in the Baptist Church. It was a sight not soon to be forgotten,—that crowd of eager, happy black faces, from which the shadow of Slavery had forever passed. "Forever free! forever free!" those magical words of the Proclamation were constantly singing themselves in my soul. After an appropriate prayer and sermon by Mr. P., and singing by the people, General Saxton made a short, but spirited speech, urging the young men to enlist in the regiment then forming under Colonel Higginson. Mrs. Gage told the people how the slaves in Santa Cruz had secured their liberty. It was something entirely new and strange to them to hear a woman speak in public; but they listened with great attention, and seemed much interested. Before dispersing, they sang "Marching Along," which is an especial favorite with them. It was a very happy Thanksgiving-Day for all of us. The weather was delightful; oranges and figs were hanging on the trees; roses, oleanders, and japonicas were blooming out-of-doors; the sun was warm and bright; and over all shone gloriously the blessed light of Freedom,—Freedom forevermore!
One night, L. and I were roused from our slumbers by what seemed to us loud and most distressing shrieks, proceeding from the direction of the negro-houses. Having heard of one or two attempts which the Rebels had recently made to land on the island, our first thought was, naturally, that they had forced a landing, and were trying to carry off some of the people. Every moment we expected to hear them at our doors; and knowing that they had sworn vengeance against all the superintendents and teachers, we prepared ourselves for the worst. After a little reflection, we persuaded ourselves that it could not be the Rebels; for the people had always assured us, that, in case of a Rebel attack, they would come to us at once,—evidently thinking that we should be able to protect them. But what could the shrieks mean? They ceased; then, a few moments afterwards, began again, louder, more fearful than before; then again they ceased, and all was silent. I am ashamed to confess that we had not the courage to go out and inquire into the cause of the alarm. Mr. H.'s room was in another part of the house, too far for him to give us any aid. We hailed the dawn of day gladly enough, and eagerly sought Cupid,—who was sure to know everything,—to obtain from him a solution of the mystery. "Why, you wasn't scared at dat?" he exclaimed, in great amusement; "'twasn't nuttin' but de black sogers dat comed up to see der folks on t' oder side ob de creek. Dar wasn't no boat fur 'em on dis side, so dey jus' blowed de whistle dey hab, so de folks might bring one ober fur 'em. Dat was all 't was." And Cupid laughed so heartily that we felt not a little ashamed of our fears. Nevertheless, we both maintained that we had never seen a whistle from which could be produced sounds so startling, so distressing, so perfectly like the shrieks of a human being.
Another night, while staying at a house some miles distant from ours, I was awakened by hearing, as I thought, some one trying to open the door from without. The door was locked; I lay perfectly still, and listened intently. A few moments elapsed, and the sound was repeated; whereupon I rose, and woke Miss W., who slept in the adjoining room. We lighted a candle, took our revolvers, and seated ourselves on the bed, keeping our weapons, so formidable in practised male hands, steadily pointed towards the door, and uttering dire threats against the intruders,—presumed to be Rebels, of course. Having maintained this tragical position for some time, and hearing no further noise; we began to grow sleepy, and extinguished our candle, returned to bed, and slept soundly till morning. But that mystery remained unexplained. I was sure that the door had been tried,—there could be no mistaking it. There was not the least probability that any of the people had entered the house, burglars are unknown on these islands, and there is nobody to be feared but the Rebels.
The last and greatest alarm we had was after we had removed from Oaklands to another plantation. I woke about two o'clock in the morning, hearing the tramp of many feet in the yard below,—the steady tramp of soldiers' feet. "The Rebels! they have come at last! all is over with us now!" I thought at once, with a desperate kind of resignation. And I lay still, waiting and listening. Soon I heard footsteps on the piazza; then the hall-door was opened, and steps were heard distinctly in the hall beneath; finally, I heard some one coming up the stairs. Then I grasped my revolver, rose, and woke the other ladies.
"There are soldiers in the yard! Somebody has opened the hall-door, and is coming up-stairs!"
Poor L., but half awakened, stared at me in speechless terror. The same thought filled our minds. But Mrs. B., after listening for a moment, exclaimed,—
"Why, that is my husband! I know his footsteps. He is coming up-stairs to call me."
And so it proved. Her husband, who was a lieutenant in Colonel Montgomery's regiment, had come up from camp with some of his men to look after deserters. The door had been unfastened by a servant who on that night happened to sleep in the house. I shall never forget the delightful sensation of relief that came over me when the whole matter was explained. It was almost overpowering; for, although I had made up my mind to bear the worst, and bear it bravely, the thought of falling into the hands of the Rebels was horrible in the extreme. A year of intense mental suffering seemed to have been compressed into those few moments.
* * * * *
A LEGEND OF PORNIC.
Oh, the beautiful girl, too white, Who lived at Pornic, down by the sea, Just where the sea and the Loire unite! And a boasted name in Brittany She bore, which I will not write.
Too white, for the flower of life is red; Her flesh was the soft, seraphic screen Of a soul that is meant (her parents said) To just see earth, and hardly be seen, And blossom in heaven instead.
Yet earth saw one thing, one how fair! One grace that grew to its full on earth: Smiles might be sparse on her cheek so spare, And her waist want half a girdle's girth, But she had her great gold hair:
Hair, such a wonder of flix and floss, Freshness and fragrance,—floods of it, too! Gold did I say? Nay, gold's mere dross. Here Life smiled, "Think what I meant to do!" And Love sighed, "Fancy my loss!"
So, when she died, it was scarce more strange Than that, when some delicate evening dies, And you follow its spent sun's pallid range, There's a shoot of color startles the skies With sudden, violent change,—
That, while the breath was nearly to seek, As they put the little cross to her lips, She changed; a spot came out on her cheek, A spark from her eye in mid-eclipse, And she broke forth, "I must speak!"
"Not my hair!" made the girl her moan;— "All the rest is gone, or to go; But the last, last grace, my all, my own, Let it stay in the grave, that the ghosts may know! Leave my poor gold hair alone!"
The passion thus vented, dead lay she. Her parents sobbed their worst on that; All friends joined in, nor observed degree: For, indeed, the hair was to wonder at, As it spread,—not flowing free,
But curled around her brow, like a crown, And coiled beside her cheeks, like a cap, And calmed about her neck,—ay, down To her breast, pressed flat, without a gap I' the gold, it reached her gown.
All kissed that face, like a silver wedge 'Mid the yellow wealth, nor disturbed its hair; E'en the priest allowed death's privilege, As he planted the crucifix with care On her breast, 'twixt edge and edge.
And thus was she buried, inviolate Of body and soul, in the very space By the altar,—keeping saintly state In Pornic church, for her pride of race, Pure life, and piteous fate.
And in after-time would your fresh tear fall, Though your mouth might twitch with a dubious smile, As they told you of gold both robe and pall, How she prayed them leave it alone awhile, So it never was touched at all.
Years flew; this legend grew at last The life of the lady; all she had done, All been, in the memories fading fast Of lover and friend, was summed in one Sentence survivors passed:
To wit, she was meant for heaven, not earth; Had turned an' angel before the time: Yet, since she was mortal, in such dearth Of frailty, all you could count a crime Was—she knew her gold hair's worth.
* * * * *
At little pleasant Pornic church, It chanced, the pavement wanted repair, Was taken to pieces: left in the lurch, A certain sacred space lay bare, And the boys began research.
'T was the space where our sires would lay a saint, A benefactor,—a bishop, suppose; A baron with armor-adornments quaint; A dame with chased ring and jewelled rose, Things sanctity saves from taint:
So we come to find them in after-days, When the corpse is presumed to have done with gauds, Of use to the living, in many ways; For the boys get pelf, and the town applauds, And the church deserves the praise.
They grubbed with a will: and at length—O cor Humanum, pectora coeca, and the rest!— They found—no gauds they were prying for, No ring, no rose, but—who would have guessed?— A double Louis-d'or!
Here was a case for the priest: he heard, Marked, inwardly digested, laid Finger on nose, smiled, "A little bird Chirps in my ear!"—then, "Bring a spade, Dig deeper!" he gave the word.
And lo! when they came to the coffin-lid, Or the rotten planks which composed it once, Why, there lay the girl's skull wedged amid A mint of money, it served for the nonce To hold in its hair-heaps hid:
Louis-d'ors, some six times five; And duly double, every piece. Now do you see? With the priest to shrive,— With parents preventing her soul's release By kisses that keep alive,—
With heaven's gold gates about to ope,— With friends' praise, gold-like, lingering still,— What instinct had bidden the girl's hand grope For gold, the true sort?—"Gold in heaven, I hope; But I keep earth's, if God will!"
Enough! The priest took the grave's grim yield; The parents, they eyed that price of sin As if thirty pieces lay revealed On the place to bury strangers in, The hideous Potter's Field.
But the priest bethought him: "'Milk that's spilt' —You know the adage! Watch and pray! Saints tumble to earth with so slight a tilt! It would build a new altar; that we may!" And the altar therewith was built.
* * * * *
Why I deliver this horrible verse? As the text of a sermon, which now I preach: Evil or good may be better or worse In the human heart, but the mixture of each Is a marvel and a curse.
The candid incline to surmise of late That the Christian faith may be false, I find; For our Essays-and-Reviews' debate Begins to tell on the public mind, And Colenso's words have weight:
I still to suppose it true, for my part, See reasons and reasons; this, to begin: 'T is the faith that launched point-blank her dart At the head of a lie,—taught Original Sin, The Corruption of Man's Heart.
* * * * *
CALIFORNIA AS A VINELAND.
It has been reserved for California, from the plenitude of her capacities, to give to us a truly great boon in her light and delicate-wines.
Our Pacific sister, from whose generous hand has flowed an uninterrupted stream of golden gifts, has announced the fact that henceforth we are to be a wine-growing people. From the sparkling juices of her luscious grapes, rich with the breath of an unrivalled climate, is to come in future the drink of our people. By means of her capacity in this respect we are to convert the vast tracts of her yet untilled soil into blooming vineyards, which will give employment to thousands of men and women,—we are to make wine as common an article of consumption in America as upon the Rhine, and to break one more of the links which bind us unwilling slaves to foreign lands.
It is a little singular, that, in a country so particularly adapted to the culture of the grape, no species is indigenous to the soil. The earliest record of the grape in California is about 1770, at which time the Spanish Jesuits brought to Los Angeles what are supposed to have been cuttings from the Malaga. There is a difference of opinion as to what stock they originally came from; but one thing is certain,—from that stock has sprung what is now known all over the State as the "Mission" or "Los Angeles" grape, and from which is made all the wine at present in the market. The berry is round, reddish-brown while ripening, turning nearly black when fully ripe. It is very juicy and sweet, and a delicious table-grape.
Three prominent reasons maybe given in support of the claims of California to be considered a wine-producing State. First, her soil possesses a large amount of magnesia and lime, or chalk. Specimens of it, taken from various localities, and carried to Europe, when chemically tested and submitted to the judgment of competent men, have been pronounced to be admirably adapted to the purposes of wine-culture. Then, the climate is all that could possibly be desired,—as during the growth and ripening of the grapes they are never exposed to storms of rain or hail, which often destroy the entire crop in many parts of Europe. As an evidence of the great superiority enjoyed by California in this respect, it may be remarked, that, while the grape-crop here is a certainty, "the oldest inhabitant" not remembering a year that has failed of a good yield,—in Europe, on the contrary, in a period of 432 years, from 1420 to 1852, the statistics exhibit only 11 years which can be pronounced eminently good, and but 28 very good,—192 being simply what may be called "pretty good" and "middling," and 201, or nearly one-half, having proved total failures, not paying the expenses. Again, the enormous productiveness of the soil is an immense advantage. We make on an average from five hundred and fifty to six hundred and fifty gallons of wine to the acre. The four most productive of the wine-growing districts of Europe are—
Italy, giving to the acre 441 1-2 gallons Austria and her provinces, 265 5-6 " France, 176 2-7 " Nassau, 237 1-2 "
Of these, it will be perceived, that Italy, the most prolific, falls fully one hundred and fifty gallons short of the average yield per acre in California.—In this connection the following account of a grape-vine in Santa Barbara may be interesting:—
"Four miles south of the town there is a vine which was planted more than a quarter of a century since, and has a stalk now about ten inches thick. The branches are supported by a train or arbor, and extend out about fifty feet on all sides. The annual crop of grapes upon this one vine is from six to ten thousand pounds, as much as the yield of half an acre of common vines. It is of the Los Angeles variety. There is a similar vine, but not so large, in the vineyard of Andres Pico, at San Fernando."
It is well known that California has within her borders five million acres of land suitable for vine-culture. Suppose it to average no larger yield than that of Italy, yet, at 25 cents a gallon, it would give an income of $551,875,000. That this may not seem an entirely chimerical estimate, it may be remarked that trustworthy statistics show that in France five millions of acres are planted in vines, producing seven hundred and fifty millions of gallons, while Hungary has three millions of acres, yielding three hundred and sixty millions of gallons. If it is asked, Supposing California capable of producing the amount claimed for her, what could be done with this enormous quantity of wine? the answer may be found in the experience of France, where, notwithstanding the immense native production, there is a large importation from foreign countries, besides a very considerable consumption of purely artificial wines.
Small quantities of wine have been made in California for over half a century, by the Spanish residents, not, however, as a commercial commodity, but for home-consumption, and there are wines now in the cellars of some of the wealthy Spanish families which money could not purchase. But it remained for American enterprise, aided by European experience, to develop the wonderful capacity which had so long slumbered in the bosom of this most favored land.
The following statistics exhibit the total number of vines in 1862, and the great increase in the last five or six years will show the opinion entertained as to the success of the business.
"The number of grape-vines set out in vineyards in the State, according to the Report of the County Assessors, as compiled in the Surveyor-General's Report for 1862, is 10,592,688, of which number Los Angeles has 2,570,000, and Sonoma 1,701,661.
"The rate of increase in the number and size of vineyards is large. All the vines of the State did not number 1,000,000 seven years ago. Los Angeles, which had three times as many vines surviving from the time of the Mexican domain as all the other counties together, had 592,000 bearing vines and 134,000 young vines in 1856. The annual increase in the State has been about 1,500,000 since then; and though less hereafter, it will still be large.
"The wine made in 1861 is reported, very incorrectly, by the County Assessors, as amounting to 343,000 gallons. The amount made in 1862 was about 700,000 gallons. The total amount made in all other States of the Union in 1859, according to the United States census, was 1,350,000 gallons; and the same authority puts down California's wine-yield for that year at 494,000 gallons, which is very nearly correct. In Los Angeles County most of the vineyards have 1,000 vines to the acre. In Sonoma the number varies from 680 to 1,000. The average number may be estimated at 900; and the 10,000,000 vines of the State cover about 11,500 acres. An acre of California vineyard in full bearing produces at least 500 gallons annually, and at that rate the produce of the 11,500 acres would be 5,750,000 gallons. Strike off, however, one-third for grapes lost, wasted, and gathered for the table, and we have an annual produce of 3,800,000 gallons. The reason why the present product is so far below this amount is that most of the vines are still very young, and will not be in full bearing for several years yet."
The cost of planting a vineyard will of course vary with the situation, price of labor, quality of soil, etc., but may be estimated at not far from fifty dollars an acre. This includes everything except the cost of the land, and brings the vines up to the third year, when they are in fair bearing condition. There are thousands of acres of land scattered over the State, admirably adapted to vine-culture, which may be purchased at from one to two dollars per acre. No enterprise holds out more encouragement for the investment of labor and capital than this, and the attention of some of the most intelligent capitalists of the country is being given to it. In this connection I cannot forbear referring to the action of the Government in regard to our native wines. By the National Excise Law of 1862 a tax of five cents a gallon was laid upon all wine made in the country. No tax has yet been laid upon agricultural productions generally, and only three per cent, upon manufactures. Now wine certainly falls properly under the head of agricultural productions. Upon this ground it might justly claim exemption from taxation. The wine-growers of California allege that the tax is oppressive and impolitic: oppressive, because it is equal to one-fourth of the original value of the wine, and because no other article of production or manufacture is taxed in anything like this proportion; impolitic, because the business is now in its infancy, struggling against enormous difficulties, among which may be mentioned the high price of labor, rate of interest, and cost of packages, making it difficult to compete with the wines of Europe, which have already established themselves in the country, and which are produced where interest is only three per cent. per annum, and the price of labor one-quarter of what it is in California. In addition to this there is the prejudice which exists against American wines, but which, happily, is passing away. The vintners ask only to be put upon the same footing as manufacturers, namely, an ad valorem tax of three per cent.; and they say that the Government will derive a greater revenue from such a tax than from the one now in force, as they cannot pay the present tax, and, unless it is abated, they will be obliged to abandon the business. Efforts are being made to induce Congress to modify it, and it is to be hoped they will be successful.
In 1861 California sent a commissioner to Europe, to procure the best varieties of vines cultivated there, and also to report upon the European culture generally. The gentleman selected for the mission was Colonel Haraszthy, to whom I am indebted for many of my statistics, and who has given us a very interesting book on the subject. He brought back a hundred thousand vines, embracing about fourteen hundred varieties. These were to have been planted and experimented upon under the auspices of the State. What the result has been I am unable to say; but we are informed upon good authority that over two hundred foreign varieties are now successfully cultivated. Such being the fact, it is a fair presumption that we are soon to make wines in sufficient variety to suit all tastes.
Los Angeles is at present the largest wine-growing county in the State, and Sonoma the second. Many other portions of the State, however, are fast becoming planted with vineyards, and some of them are already giving promise of furnishing superb wines. As usual in wine-growing countries, in the southern part of the State the wines are richer in saccharine properties, and heavier-bodied, than those of the more northern sections, but are deficient in flavor and bouquet. We shall get a lighter and tarter wine from the Sonoma and other northern vineyards, which will please many tastes better than the southern wines. The two largest vineyards in the State are owned by Colonel Haraszthy, of Sonoma, and John Rains, of San Gabriel. The former has two hundred and ninety thousand vines, and the latter one hundred and sixty-five thousand. It is probable that from one of these vineyards at least will come a good Champagne wine.
A large tract of land, to which has been given the name of "Anaheim," has been recently purchased by a German company. It is sold to actual settlers in lots of twenty acres, affording room for twenty thousand vines. There are now planted nearly three hundred thousand, which are in a very flourishing condition. The wines from this district will soon be in the market.
The wines now made in California are known under the following names: "White" or "Hock" Wine, "Angelica," "Port," "Muscatel," "Sparkling California," and "Piquet." The character of the first-named wine is much like that of the Rhine wines of Germany. It is not unlike the Capri bianco of Naples, or the white wines of the South of France. It is richer and fuller-bodied than the German wines, without the tartness which is strongly developed in nearly all the Rhenish varieties. It is a fine wine, and meets the approval of many of our best connoisseurs. Specimens of it have been sent to some of the wine-districts of Germany, and the most flattering expressions in its favor have come from the Rhine. The "Angelica" and "Muscatel" are both naturally sweet, intended as dessert-wines, and to suit the taste of those who do not like a dry wine. They are both of a most excellent quality, and are very popular. The "Port" is a rich, deep-colored, high-flavored wine, not unlike the Burgundies of France, yet not so dry. The "Sparkling California" and "Piquet" are as yet but little known. The latter is made from the lees of the grape, is a sour, very light wine, and not suitable for shipment. Messrs. Sainsivain Brothers have up to the present time been the principal house engaged in the manufacture of Champagne. So far, they have not been particularly successful. This wine has a certain bitter taste, which is not agreeable; yet it is a much better wine than some kinds of the foreign article sold in our markets. The makers are still experimenting, and will, no doubt, improve. It is probable that most of the good sparkling wine which we shall get from California will be made in the northern part of the State; the grapes grown there seem to be better adapted to the purpose than those raised in Los Angeles. There is no doubt, too, that the foreign grape will be used for this branch of the business, rather than the Los Angeles variety. All that is required to obtain many other varieties of wine, including brands similar to Sherry and Claret, is time to find a proper grape, and to select a suitable soil for its culture. Considering the short time which has elapsed since the business was commenced, wonders have been accomplished. It has taken Ohio thirty years to furnish us two varieties of wine, while in less than one-third that time California has produced six varieties, four of which are of a very superior quality, and have already taken a prominent position in the estimation of the best tastes in the country.
In 1854, Messrs. Koehler and Froehling commenced business in Los Angeles, and shortly after opened a house in San Francisco. They were assisted by Charles Stern, who had enjoyed a long and valuable experience in the wine-business upon the Rhine. The vintage was very small and inferior in quality, as they had had no experience in making wine from such a grape as California produced. Numberless difficulties were met with, and it was only the indomitable energy of the gentlemen engaged in the enterprise, sustained by a firm faith in its ultimate success, which brought them triumphantly out of the slough of despond that seemed at times almost to overwhelm them. They have to-day the satisfaction of being the pioneers in what is soon to be one of the most important branches of industry in California. They own one of the finest vineyards in the State, from which some magnificent wine has been produced. They have contracts with owners of other vineyards; and after making the wine in their own, the men and machinery are moved into these, the grapes pressed, and the juice at once conveyed to their cellars, they paying the producers of the grapes a stipulated price per ton on the vines. The vintage commences about the first of October, and generally continues into November. The labor employed in gathering the grapes and in the work of the press is mostly performed by Indians. It is a novel and interesting sight to see them filing up to the press, each one bearing on his head about fifty pounds of the delicious fruit, which is soon to be reduced to an unseemly mass, and yield up its purple life-blood for the benefit of man. Some of the best wine made in the State is from the "Asuza" and "Sunny Slope" vineyards, both of which lie directly at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. From a small beginning Messrs. Koehler and Froehling have steadily progressed, till at this time their position is a very enviable one. Their cellars, occupying the basement of Montgomery Block, excite the admiration of all who visit them, and their wines are more favorably known than those of any other vintners. Agencies have been established in New York and other cities, under the supervision of Mr. Stern, and the favor with which they have been received has settled the fact that the wines of California are a success. It only remains for the vintners to keep their wines pure, and always up to the highest standard, and to take such measures as shall insure their delivery in a like condition to the consumers, to build up a business which shall eclipse that of any of the great houses of Europe. Thus will the State and nation be benefited, by keeping at home the money which we annually pay for wine to foreign countries, and the people will be led away from the use of strong, fiery drinks, to accept instead the light wines of their native land.
* * * * *
TO A YOUNG GIRL DYING:
WITH A GIFT OF FRESH PALM-LEAVES.
This is Palm-Sunday: mindful of the day, I bring palm-branches, found upon my way: But these will wither; thine shall never die,— The sacred palms thou bearest to the sky! Dear little saint, though but a child in years, Older in wisdom than my gray compeers! We doubt and tremble,—we with 'bated breath Talk of this mystery of life and death: Thou, strong in faith, art gifted to conceive Beyond thy years, and teach us to believe!
Then take my palms, triumphal, to thy home, Gentle white palmer, never more to roam! Only, sweet sister, give me, ere thou go'st, Thy benediction,—for my love thou know'st! We, too, are pilgrims, travelling towards the shrine: Pray that our pilgrimage may end like thine!
* * * * *
There are women at whom, after the first meeting, you forget to glance a second time, they seem to be such indifferent creations, such imperfect sketches of an idea to be fulfilled farther on in a clearer type, but who, met once more and yet again, suddenly take you captive in bonds. You find the sallow cheek to be but polished ivory, the heavy eye loaded with fire, the irregular features chords of a harmony whose whole is perfect; you find that this is the type itself; while in every gesture, every word, every look, the soul is shed abroad, and the fascination is what neither Campaspe, nor Jocasta, nor even Aspasia herself held in fee. For you, she has blossomed into the one beauty of the world; you hear her, and the Sirens sing in vain; she touches you, and makes you the slave beneath her feet.
Such a one was Eloise Changarnier.
There was iron of the old Huguenot blood in her veins; late American admixture had shot a racy sparkle through it; convent-care from her tenth to her sixteenth year had softened and toned the whole into a warm, generous life; and underneath all there slumbered that one atom of integral individuality that was nothing at all but a spark: as yet, its fire had never flashed; if it ever should do so, one might be safe in prophesying a strange wayward blaze.
In one of her earliest summers her widowed mother had died and bequeathed her sole legacy, a penniless orphan, to the care of the survivor in an imperishable friendship, Disbrowe Erne. A childless, thriftless, melancholy man, Mr. Erne had adopted her into his inmost heart, but out of respect to his friend had suffered her to retain her father's name, and had thoughtlessly delayed rendering the adoption legal. One day it was found too late to remedy this delay; for Mr. Erne died, just a year after Eloise's return from the distant Northern convent whither at ten years old she had been despatched, when, wild and witching as a wood-brier, there had been found nothing else to do with her. There her adopted father had visited her twice a year in all her exile, as she deemed it, sometimes taking up his residence for several months in the neighborhood of the nunnery; and a long vacation of many weeks she had every winter spent at home with him on the rich and beautiful plantation poetically known as The Rim, because, seen from several of the adjacent places, it occupied the whole southern horizon. The last vacation, however, she had passed with her adopted father travelling in France, whither some affairs called him; but, of all the splendid monuments and records of civilization that she saw, almost the only thing that had impressed itself distinctly upon her memory, through the chicanery of chances, was that once in a cathedral-choir she had seen the handsome, blonde-hued, Vandyck face of a gentleman with dreaming eyes looking at her from a gallery-niche with the most singular earnestness. So at sixteen she found that the nuns had exhausted their slender lore, and had nothing more to teach her; and after her brief travels, she returned home for a finality, and there had dallied a twelvemonth, lapped in the Elysium of freedom and youth. Every want anticipated, every whim gratified, servants prostrate before her, father adoring her,—the year sped on wings of silent joy, and left her a shade more imperious than it met her. Launched into society, wealthy and winning, Eloise counted, too, her lovers; but she spurned them so gayly that her hard heart became a proverb through all the region round, wherever the rejected travelled. It is true that Mr. Erne had often expressed his film of dissatisfaction with the conventual results, and had planned an attack on matters of more solid learning; but, tricksy as a sprite, Eloise had escaped his designs, broken through his regulations, implored, just out of shackles, a year's gambol in liberty, and had made herself too charming to be resisted in her plea; and if, feeling his health fail, he had at first insisted,—in the fear that there might be left but brief opportunity for him to make her pleasure, he yielded. Nevertheless, with the best outlay in the world, plantation-life is not all a gala, and there were, it must be confessed, certain ennuisome moments in which Eloise made inroads on her father's library, chiefly in wild out-of-the-way veins, all which, however, romantic, unsystematic, and undigested, did nothing towards rendering her one whit more independent of the world in time of future trial.
One afternoon, just reentering the house from some gay farewell of friends, she found her father sitting in the hall, and she stood tiptoing in the door-way while smiling at him, with a fragrant vine half twisted in her dark drooping hair, the heat making her cheek yet paler, and the great blue-green eyes shining at him from under the black straight brows, like aquamarine jewels. Mr. Erne leaned forward in the chair, with hands clasped upon his knees, and eyes upbent.
"Eloise! Eloise!" he cried in a piercing voice, then grew white, and fell back in the cushions.
The girl flew to him, took the head upon her shoulder, caressed the deathly face, warmed the mouth with her own.
"Child!" he murmured, "I thought it was your mother!"
And by midnight, alone, and in the dark, he died, and went to find that mother.
As for Eloise, she was like some one made dumb by a thunderbolt. Her garden had become a desert. Ice had fallen in her summer. Death was too large a fact for her to comprehend. She had seen the Medusa's head in its terror, but not in its loveliness, and been stricken to stone. At length in the heart of that stone the inner fountains broke,—broke in rains of tempestuous tears, such gusts and gushes of grief as threatened to wash away life itself; and when Eloise issued from this stormy deep, the warmth and the wealth of being obscured, the effervescence and bubble of the child destroyed, feeling like a flower sodden with showers, if she had been capable of finding herself at all, she would have found herself a woman.
Among Mr. Erne's disorderly papers, full of incipient schemes, sketches, and schedules of gold-mining, steam-companies, and railways to the nebulae in Orion, was discovered after his death a scrap witnessed by two signatures. The owner of one of these signatures was already dead, and there were no means to prove its genuineness. The other was that of a young man who had just enough of that remote taint in his descent which incapacitates one, in certain regions, from bearing witness. It was supposed that Mr. Erne had some day hurriedly executed this paper in the absence of his lawyer, as being, possibly, better than no paper at all, and he had certainly intended to have the whole matter arranged legitimately; but these are among the things which, with a superstitious loitering, some men linger long before doing, lest they prove to be, themselves, a death-warrant.
By this paper, in so many words, Disbrowe Erne left to Eloise Changarnier all the property of which he died possessed. An old friend of her father's in the neighborhood assured her that the only relatives were both distant, distinguished, and wealthy, unlikely to present any claims, and that she would be justified in fulfilling her father's desire. And so, without other forms, Eloise administered the affairs of The Rim,—waiting until the autumn to consult the usual lawyer, who was at present in England.
There had reigned over the domestic department of The Rim, for many years, a person who was the widow of a maternal cousin of Mr. Erne's, and who, when left destitute by the death of this young cousin, had found shelter, support, and generous courtesy beneath the roof of her late husband's kinsman. It was on the accession of this person, who was not a saint, that Eloise had become so ungovernable as to require the constraint of a nunnery. Mrs. Arles was a dark and quiet little lady, with some of the elements of beauty which her name suggested, and with a perfectly Andalusian foot and ankle. These being her sole wealth, it was, perhaps, from economy of her charms that she hid the ankle in such flowing sables, that she bound the black locks straightly under a little widow's-cap, seldom parted the fine lips above the treasured pearls beneath, disdained to distort the classic features, and graved no wrinkles on the smooth, rich skin with any lavish smiling. She went about the house, a self-contained, silent, unpleasant little vial of wrath, and there was ever between her and Eloise a tacit feud, waiting, perhaps, only for occasion to fling down the gage in order to become open war. Mrs. Arles expected, therefore, that, so soon Eloise should take the reins in hand herself, she would be lightly, but decisively shaken off,—for the old friend had mentioned to Mrs. Arles that Mr. Erne's will left Eloise heir, as she had always supposed it would. She was, accordingly, silently amazed, when Eloise, softened by suffering, hoped she would always find it convenient to make a home with herself, and informed her that a certain section of the farm had been measured off and allotted to her, with its laborers, as the source of a yearly income. This delicacy, that endeavored to prevent her feeling the perpetual recurrence of benefits conferred, touched the speechless Mrs. Arles almost to the point of positive friendliness.
The plantation was one of those high and healthy spots that are ever visited by land- and sea-breezes, and there Eloise determined to stay that spring and summer; for this ground that her father had so often trod, this air that had given and received his last breath, were dear to her, and just now parting with them, for ever so short a time, would be but a renewal of her loss. As she became able to turn her energy to the business requiring attention, she discovered at last her sad ignorance. Dancing, drawing, music, and languages were of small avail in managing the interior concerns and the vexatious finance of a great estate. The neighbors complained that her spoiled and neglected servants infected theirs, and that her laxity of discipline was more ruinous in its effects than the rigor of Blue Bluffs. But she just held out to them her helpless little hands in so piteous and charming a way that they could not cherish an instant's enmity. If she tried to remedy the evil complained of, she fell into some fresh error; take what advice she would, it invariably twisted itself round and worked the other way. The plantation, always slackly managed, saw itself now on the high road to destruction. Let her do the very best in her power, she found it impossible to plan her season's campaign, to carry it out, to audit her accounts, to study agricultural directions, to preserve the peace, to keep her fences in order, to attend to the sick, to rule her household and her spirit, to dispose of her harvest, and to bring either end of the thread out of the tangled skein of her affairs.
Perhaps there could have been really no better thing for Eloise than the diversion from her sorrow which all this perplexity necessarily in some degree occasioned.
As for Mrs. Arles, so soon as Eloise had begun to move about again, she had taken herself off on a long-promised visit to the West, and was but just returning with the October weather.
Eloise, worn and thin, and looking nearly forty, as she had remarked to herself that morning in the brief moment she could snatch for her toilet, welcomed the cool and quiet little Mrs. Arles, who might be forty, but looked any age between twenty and thirty, with affectionate warmth, and made all the world bestir themselves for her comfort. It is only justice to the owner of the little Andalusian foot to say that in her specific domain things immediately changed for the better. But that was merely within-doors, and because she tightened the reins and used the whip in a manner which Eloise could not have done, if the whole equipage tumbled to pieces about her ears.
Mrs. Arles had been at home a week or so; the evening was chilly with rain, and a little fire flickered on the hearth. Mrs. Arles sat on one side of the hearth, with her tatting in hand; Eloise bent above the papers scattered over a small table.
"See what it is to go away!" said Eloise, cheerily. "It's like light in a painting, as the Sisters used to say,—brings out all the shadows."
"Nobody knew how indispensable I was," said the other lady, with the fragment of expression in the phantom of a smile.
"How pleasant it is to be missed! I did miss you so,—it seemed as if one of the four sides of the walls were gone. Now we stand—what is that word of Aristotle's?—four-square again. Now our universe is on wheels. Just tell me how you tamed Hazel so. She has conducted like a little wild gorilla all summer,—and here, in the twinkling of an eye, she goes about soberly, like a baptized Christian. How?"
"By a process of induction."
"You don't mean"—
"Oh, no. Nothing of the kind. I didn't touch her. I sent her into my room, and told her to take down that little riding-switch hanging over the mantel"—
"What,—the ebony and gold?"
"Yes. And to whip all the flies out of the air with it. It makes a monstrous whizzing. There's no such thing as actual experience for these imps of the vivid nerves. And when she came down I looked at her, and asked her how she liked the singing. Her conduct now leads me to believe that she has no desire to hear the tune again."
The hearer winced a trifle before lightly replying,—
"Well, I might have sent her forever, and all the result would have been the switch singing about my own shoulders, probably."
"That is because she knows you would never use it. As for me,—Hazel has a good memory."
Eloise gave a half-imperceptible shiver and frown; but, clearing her brow, said,—
"If Hazel had my accounts here, they would tame her. I will put all my malcontents through a course of mathematics. You do so well everywhere else, Mrs. Arles, that I've half the mind to ask you to advise me here. Little Arlesian, come over into Macedonia!"
"What is the matter?"
"Oh, it's only an inversion of the old problem, If the ton of coal cost ten dollars, what will the cord of wood come to? Now, if one bale"—
"But coal doesn't cost ten dollars," replied Mrs. Arles, with admirable simplicity.
"Now, if one bale of Sea-Island"—
"Oh, my dear, I know nothing at all about it. Pray, don't ask me."
"Well," said Eloise, after a moment's wondering pause, in which she had taken time to reflect that Mrs. Arles's corner of the estate was carried on faultlessly, "it is too bad to vex you with my matters, when you have as much as you can do in the house, yourself,"—and relapsed into what she called her Pythagorean errors.
"Did you know," said Mrs. Arles, after a half-hour's silence, "that Marlboro' has returned?"
"Marlboro'?" repeated Eloise, hesitatingly.
"Marlboro' of Blue Bluffs."
"Oh, yes. And five's eleven. No," said Eloise, absently and with half a sigh. "I've never seen him, you know,—he's been in Kamtschatka and the Moon so long. How did you know?"
"Hazel told me. Hazel wants to marry his Vane."
"Not his weathercock. Vane, his butler."
"That is why she behaved so. Dancing quicksilver. Then, perhaps, he'll buy her. What a relief it would be!"
"Marlboro' is a master!" said Mrs. Arles, emphatically.
There was a good deal in the ensuing pause. For Eloise, in her single year, had not half learned the neighborhood's gossip.
"A cruel man. Then it's not to be thought of. We shall have to buy Vane. Though how it's to be done"—
"I didn't say he was a cruel man. He wouldn't think of interfering with an ordinance of his overseers. I esteem his thoroughness. He has ideas. But I might have said that he is a remarkable man."
"There'll be some pulling of caps soon, Hazel said to-day, in her gibberish. I couldn't think what she meant."
"Blue Bluffs is a place to be mistress of. He's a woman-hater, though, Mr. Marlboro',—believes in no woman capable of resisting him when he flings the handkerchief, should he choose, but believes in none worth choosing."
"We shall have to invite him here, Mrs. Arles," said Eloise, mischievously, "and show him that there are two of us."
"That would never do!"
"Oh, I didn't mean so. Of course, I didn't mean so. How could I see any one else sitting in"—And there were tears in her eyes and on her trembling tones.
"My dear," said Mrs. Arles, "I am afraid, apropos of nothing at all, that you have isolated yourself from all society for too long a time already."
Just here Hazel entered and replenished the hearth, stopping half-way, with her armful of brush, to coquet an instant in the mirror, and adjust the scarlet love-knot in her curls.
"There's a carriage coming up the avenue, Miss," said she, demurely. "One of the boys"—
"What one?" asked Mrs. Arles.
"Vane," answered Hazel,—carmine staining her pretty olive cheek. "He ran before it."
"Who can it be, at this hour?" said Eloise, half rising, with the pen in her hand, and looking at Mrs. Arles, who did not stir.
As she spoke, there was a bustle in the hall, a slamming door, a voice of command, the door opened, and a stranger stood among them, surveying the long antique room with its diamonded windows flickering in every pane, and the quaint hearth, whose leaping, crackling, fragrant blaze lighted the sombre little person sitting beside it, and sparkled on the half-bending form of that strange dark-haired girl, with her aquamarine eyes bent full on his. He was wrapped, from head to foot, in a great sweeping brigand's cloak, and a black, wide-brimmed hat, that had for an instant slouched its shadow down his face, hung now in his gloved hand. Dropping cloak and hat upon a chair with an invisible motion, he advanced, an air of surprise lifting the heavy eyebrows so that they strongly accented the contrast in hue between the lower half of his face, tanned with wind and sun, and the wide, low brow, smooth as marble itself, and above which swept one great wave of dark-brown hair. Altogether, it was an odd, fiery impression that he made,—whether from that golden-brown tint of skin that always seems full of slumbering light, or from the teeth that flashed so beneath the triste moustache whenever the haughty lips parted and unbent their curve, or whether it were a habit the eyes seemed to have of accompanying all his thoughts with a play of flame.
"Really," said he,—and it may have been a subtile inner musical trait of his tone that took everybody's will captive,—"I was not aware"—making a long step into the room, with a certain lordly bearing, yet almost at a loss to whom he should address himself. "I am Earl St. George Erne. May I inquire"—
"My name is Eloise Changarnier," said its owner, drawing herself up, it being incumbent on her to receive him.
He bowed, and advanced.
"Mrs. Arles, then, I presume,—my cousin Disbrowe Erne's cousin. I expected to find you here."
Mrs. Arles, after a hurried acknowledgment, slipped over to Eloise.
"I have heard your father speak of him," she murmured. "They had business-relations. He is Mr. Erne's legal heir, in default of sufficient testament, I believe. He must have come to claim the property."
"He!" said Eloise, with sublime scorn. "The property is mine! My father left such commands!"
"But he can have no other reason for being here. Strange the lawyer didn't write! He is certainly at home again."
"I have not had time to open the mail to-day; it lies in the hall. Hazel! the mail-bag."
And directly afterward its contents were before her.
She hurriedly shifted and reshifted the letters of factors and agents, and broke the seal of one, while Earl St. George Erne deliberately warmed his long white hands at the blaze, and, supposing Eloise Changarnier to be a guest of the lonely Mrs. Arles, wondered with some angry amusement at her singular deportment.
Mrs. Arles was right. The letter in Eloise's hand, which had been intended to reach her earlier, was from their old lawyer, but lately returned from England. In it he informed her that the scrap of paper on the authority of which she had assumed control of the property was worthless,—and that not only was Earl St. George Erne the heir of his cousin, but that some three years previously he had lent that cousin a sum of money sufficient to cover much more than the whole value of The Rim, taking in payment only promissory notes, whose indorser was since insolvent. This sum—as Mr. Erne the elder had been already unfortunate in several rash speculations—had been applied towards lifting a heavy mortgage, and instituting improvements that would enable the farm soon to repay the debt in yearly instalments. Added to this was the fact that Earl St. George Erne, who had passed many years away from home upon Congressional duties, had lately met with a severe reverse himself, and had now nothing in the world except this lucky inheritance from his cousin, and into this he had been inducted by all legal forms. This had transpired during the lawyer's absence, (that person wrote,) as otherwise some provision might have been made for Miss Changarnier,—and not being able to meet with Mr. St. George Erne, he had learned the facts from others. Meantime she would see, that, even if her father left to her all he died possessed of, he died possessed of nothing.
The idea that anybody should dare to controvert her father's will flared for a moment behind Eloise's facial mask, and illumined every feature. Then her eye fell upon the mass of papers with the inextricable confusion of their figures. An exquisitely ludicrous sense of retributive justice seized her, heightened, perhaps, by some surprise and nervous excitement; she fairly laughed,—a little, low bubble of a laugh,—swept her letters into her apron, and, with the end of it hanging over her arm, stepped towards Mr. St. George, and offered him her hand. He thought she was a crazy girl. But there was the hand; he took it, and, looking at her a moment, forgot to drop it,—an error which she rectified.
"It seems, then, that you are the owner of The Rim," said she. "I had been dreaming myself to be that very unfortunate person,—a nightmare from which you wake me. The steward will show you over it to-morrow. You will find your exchequer in the escritoire-drawer in the cabinet across the hall. You will find the papers and accounts on that table, and I wish you joy of them!"
So saying, after her succinct statement, she vanished.
Mrs. Arles lingered a moment to wind up her tatting. St. George, who had at first stood like a golden bronze cast immovably in an irate surprise, then shook his shoulders, and stepped towards the table and carelessly parted the papers.
"Remarkable manuscript," said he, as if just then he could find nothing else to say. "Plainer than type. A purely American hand. Is it that of the young lady?"
"Miss Changarnier? Yes."
"She was apparent heiress?"
"What does she expect to become of her?"
"How can I tell?"
"You can conjecture."
"She has not yet begun to consider, herself, you see."
"She has other property?"
"Ah! A fine thing, usurping!"
Mrs. Arles did not reply.
And then, in a half-angry justification, he exclaimed,—
"I didn't know there was such a person in the world! I could not come immediately on Erne's death. I was ill, and I was busy, and I let things wait for me. Why did no one write?"
"No one knew there was such a person as you. At least, no one supposed it signified."
"Signified! The Rim was my father's as much as it was Disbrowe Erne's father's. Disbrowe Erne's father entrapped mine, and got the other half. It was the old story of Esau's pottage, with thrice the villany. My father made me promise him on his death-bed, that, come fair means, The Rim should be mine again. I was twenty, Erne was fifty. Fair means came. Nevertheless, if I had known how things stood, I might have broken the promise,—who knows?—if at that moment I had happened to possess anything else in the world but my wardrobe, and sundry debts, and this!"
He opened, as he spoke, a purse that had seen service, and from his lordly height and supreme indifference, scattered its contents on the projecting top of the fireplace. They were two old pieces of ringing Spanish silver, a tiny golden coin of Hindostan, a dime, and a pine-tree shilling.
"Marlboro' won my last dollar," said he.
"Marlboro'?" said Mrs. Arles.
"What do you know of Marlboro'?"
"He lives over here at Blue Bluffs."
"The Devil he does!"
Mr. St. George Erne glanced at the dark little woman sitting before him. No smile softened her face, no ray had lighted it; she only intelligently observed, and monosyllabically answered him. She was a study,—might also be convenient; the place would be ennuisome; somebody must sit at the head of his table. He threw his purse into the fire.
"Mrs. Arles," he said, "it is decidedly necessary, that, to conduct my house, there should be in it a female relative,—an article I do not possess. Will you take the part, and remain with me on the same terms as with my Cousin Erne?"
Mrs. Arles had intended to propose such an arrangement herself, and, after a brief pause for apparent consideration, replied affirmatively, not thinking it worth while to tell him that the section of the farm, with its laborers, set apart for her benefit, was a device of Eloise's, and not one of anterior date.
"Thank you," said Mr. St. George Erne; "that being settled, will you have the kindness to order rooms prepared for me and my traps?"
Which Mrs. Arles disappeared to do.
It was early the next morning that Eloise knocked at Mrs. Arles's door.
"Good bye!" said she, looking in. "And good bye to The Rim! I don't suppose his Arch-Imperial Highness, Mr. Earl St. George Erne, will want to see my face immediately. I've only taken my clothes, as they'd be of no use to him, and"—
"Where are you going?" inquired Mrs. Arles from among her pillows, as quietly as if such an exodus were an every-day affair.
"To the Murrays',—till I can find something to do."
"What can you find to do?"
"I haven't the least idea," said Eloise, coming in and sitting down. "I've thought all night. I can't do anything. I can't teach; I can't sew; I can't play. I can starve; can't I, Mrs. Arles?"
"You don't know that!"
"Well, I can be a nursery-governess, or I can sing in a chorus; I should make a very decent figurante, or I could go round with baskets. Perhaps I can get writing. There's one comfort: I sha'n't have anything more to do with Arabic numerals till the latest day I live, and needn't know whether two and two make four or five. I may remember, though, that two from two leave nothing!"
"Yes,—we are all equal to subtraction."
"So, good bye, Mrs. Arles," said Eloise, rising. "We've had pleasant times together, first and last. I dare say, I've tried you to death. You'll forgive me, and only remember the peaceful part. If I succeed, I'll write you. And if I don't, you needn't bother. I'm well and strong, and seventeen."
Mrs. Arles elaborated a faint smile, kissed Eloise's cheek, told her she would help her look about for something, rang for Hazel to close the door the careless girl left ajar as she went springing down-stairs, and arranged herself anew in the laced pillows that singularly became with their setting the creamy hue of her tranquil face.
But Eloise was keeping up her spirits by an artificial process that she meant should last at least as far as the Murrays'. Passing, on her way, the door of her father's cozy cabinet, the attraction overcame her, she turned the handle, only for a moment, and looked in. The place was too full of memories: yonder he had stood, and she remembered what he said; there he had sat and stroked her hair; here he had every night kissed her two eyes for pleasant dreams. The door banged behind her, and she was sitting on the floor sobbing with all her soul.
When the tornado had passed, Eloise rose, smoothed her dress, opened the window that the morning air might cool her burning eyes, then at length went to find a servant who would take her trunk to the Murrays', and passed down the hall.
As she reached the door of the long, antique room where last night's scene had passed, it opened, and Mr. St. George Erne came out.
"Good morning, Miss Changarnier," said he. "May I speak with you a moment?"
"Very briefly," said Eloise, loftily, for she was in an entirely different mood from that in which she had left him the night before.
The corner of a smile curled Mr. St. George Erne's mouth and the brown moustache above it. Eloise saw it, and was an inch taller. Then St. George did not smile again, but was quite as regnantly cool and distant as the Khan of Tartary could be.
"I glanced at the papers to which you referred me last evening," said he. "As you intimated, I perceive the snarl is hopeless. Were it for nothing else," he added, casting down the orbs that had just now too tremulous a light in them, "I should ask you to remain and assist me in unravelling affairs, for a few days. I intend, so soon as the way shall be clear, to set off half of the estate to you"—
"Sir, I do not accept gifts from strangers. I will be under no obligations. I hope to earn my own livelihood. The estate is yours; I will not receive a penny of it!"
"Pardon me, if I say that this is a rash and ill-considered statement. There is no reason why you should be unwilling, in the first place, to see justice done, and, after that, to respect your Adopted father's wish."
"My father could have wished nothing dishonest. He is best pleased with me as I am."
"Will it make any difference, if I assure you that the half of the estate under my plan of management will yield larger receipts than the whole of it did under your proprietorship?"
"Not the least," said Eloise, with a scornful and incredulous smile.
"You make me very uncomfortable. Let me beg you to take the matter into consideration. After a few days of coolness, you will perhaps think otherwise."
"After a thousand years I should think the same. I do not want your money, Sir. I thank you. And so, good bye."
"Where are you going?"
"Out into the world."
"What are you going to do?"
"That is certainly no affair of yours."
"How much money have you in that little purse?"
She poured its contents down where he had emptied his own purse on the previous evening, adding to those still remaining there some four or five small gold-pieces.
"Of course they are yours, Sir. I have no right to them!"
He brushed them indignantly all down together in a heap upon the hearth.
"You sha'n't have them, then!" said he, and ground them with his heel into the ashes.
"I can sell my mother's jewels!" said she, defiantly.
"I can confiscate them for the balance of the half-year's income of the estate!"
Eloise turned pale with pride and anger and fear and mastery.
"We are talking very idly," said St. George, then, softening his falcon's glance. "Pray excuse such savage jesting. I should like to share my grandfather's estate with you, the adopted child of his elder grandson. It looks fairly enough, I think."
"Talking very idly. I have assured you that I never will touch it. And if you want more, here I swear it!"
"It's done!" said Eloise, exultantly, and almost restored to good-humor by the little triumph.
"And you won't reconsider? you won't break it? you will not let me beg you"—
"Never! If that is all you had to say, I shall bid you good-morning."
Mr. St. George was silent for a moment or two.
"I am greatly grieved," said he then. "I have done an evil thing unconsciously enough, and one for which there is no remedy, it seems. Until you mentioned your name last night, I was innocent of your existence. I had, indeed, originally heard of my cousin's educating some child, but our intercourse was so fragmentary that it made no impression upon me. I had entirely forgotten that there was such a person in the world, ungallant as it sounds. Afterwards,—last night, this morning,—I was so selfish as to imagine that we could each of us be very happy upon the half of such a property, until, at least, my affairs should right themselves. I was wrong. Whatever legal steps have been taken shall be recalled, and I leave you in full possession to-day and forever. 'The King sall ha' his ain again.'"
"Folderol!" said Eloise, turning her shoulder.
"I beg your pardon?"
"You may go where you please, and let all The Rim do the same,—go to dust and ashes, if it will! As for me, my hands are washed of it; if it isn't mine, I will not have it. Now let the thing rest! Besides, Sir," said Eloise, with a more gracious air, and forgetting her wicked temper, "you don't know the relief I feel! how free I am! no more figures! such a sad weight off me that I could fly! You would be silly to be such a Don Quixote as you threaten; it would do nobody any good, and would prove the ruin of all these poor creatures for whom you are now responsible. Don't you see?" said Eloise, taking a step nearer, and positively smiling upon him. "It isn't now just as you like,—you have a duty in the case. And as for me, good morning!"
And Eloise actually offered him her hand.
"One moment. Let me think."
And after her white flag of truce, there came a short cessation of hostilities.
"Very well," said Mr. St. George Erne at last, looking up, and shaking his strong shoulders like a Newfoundland dog coming out of the water. "Let it be. I have, then, one other idea,—in fact, one other condition. If I yield one thing, it is only right that you should yield another. It is this. I am entirely unaccustomed to doing my own writing. My script is illegible, even to myself. My amanuenses, my copyists, in Washington, have cost me a mint of money. I find there are none of the servants, of course, who write their names. I cannot afford, either, at present, to buy a clerk from Charleston. And on the whole, if it would be agreeable to you, I should be very glad if you would accept a salary,—such salary as I find convenient,—and remain as my accountant. You will, perhaps, receive this proposal with the more ease, as Mrs. Arles agrees to occupy the same position as formerly in the house."
Those horrible accounts! And a master! Who said Marlboro' was a master? What thing was Earl St. George Erne?—Yet too untaught to teach, too finely bred to sew, too delicate to labor, perhaps not good enough to starve,—
A quarter of an hour elapsed in dead silence.
Eloise threw back her head, and grew just a trifle more queenly, as she answered,—
"I thank you. I will stay, Mr. Erne."
The last word had tripped on her tongue; it had been almost impossible for her to give to another person her father's name, which she had never been allowed to wear herself.
He noticed her hesitation, and said,—
"You can call me St. George. Everybody does,—Mrs. Arles, the servants will. We have always been the St. Georges and the Disbrowes, for generations. Besides, if you had really been my cousin's child, you would naturally have called me so."
"If I had really been your cousin's child, Sir," said Eloise, with a flash, "I should not have been obliged to call you at all!"
This finished the business. Mr. St. George, who felt, that, in reality, he had only got his right again, who would gladly have given her back hers, who had only, in completest innocence and ignorance, made it impossible for her, in pride and honor, to accept it, who, moreover, very naturally considered his treatment of this handsome, disagreeable girl rather generous, and who had sacrificed much of his usually dictatorial manner in the conversation, felt also now that there was nothing more to do till she chose her ice should melt; and so he straightway let a frosty mood build itself up on his part into the very counterpart of hers. The resolution which he had just made, boyishly to abstract himself in secret, and leave her to fate and necessity and duty, faded. She deserved to lose. A haughty, ungovernable hussy! He would keep it in spite of her! How, under the sun, had his Cousin Disbrowe got along with her? Nevertheless, the salary which Mr. St. George had privately allotted to his accountant covered exactly one-half of his yearly income, whatever that contingent fund might prove to be; and, meantime, he did not intend to pay her a copper of it until they should become so much better friends that it would be impossible for her, with all her waywardness, to refuse it.
A bell sounded. Hazel came, and murmured something to Eloise. And thereupon, in this sweet and cordial frame of mind, they entered the breakfast-room, where Mrs. Arles awaited them behind a hissing urn,—and a cheery meal they had of it!
Mr. St. George passed a week in finding firm footing upon all the circumference of his property; by that time, clear and far-sighted as an eagle, he had seized on every speck of error throughout its wide mismanagement, and had initiated Eloise into a new way of performing old duties, as coolly as if no indignant word or thought had ever passed between them. And meanwhile, in place of their ancient warfare, but with no later friendship, Eloise and Mrs. Arles had tacitly instituted an offensive and defensive alliance against the common enemy. This the common enemy soon perceived, laughed at it a little grimly at first, then accepted it, as a kind of martyrdom expiatory of all previous sins, that a man must have against his grain two hostile women in the house, neither of whom had anything but the shadow of a claim upon him. Still, Earl St. George had his own plans; and by degrees it dimly dawned on his flattered intelligence that one of these women used her hostility merely as a feint towards the other.
* * * * *
Mr. Samuel Weller, of facetious memory, has told us of the girl who, having learned the alphabet, concluded that it was not worth going through so much to get so little. This, to say the least of it, was disrespectful to Cadmus, and should be condemned accordingly. Authors have feelings, which even scholastic young maidens cannot be permitted to lacerate. I therefore warn the reader of this article against any inclination toward sympathy with the critical mood of that obnoxious female. My theme is not as lively as "Punch" used to be; but, on the other hand, it is not as dull as a religious novel. Patient investigation may find it really agreeable: good-nature will not find it a bore.
I propose, then, a half-hour's gossip concerning Types, Type-Setting, and the machinery connected with Printing, at the present time. It would, perhaps, be interesting to review in detail the printing-devices of the past; but that would be to extend unwarrantably the limits of this article. Enough that any sketch of the invention, manufacture, and use of types would illustrate the triumph of the labor-saving instinct in man, and thus confirm the scientific lesson of to-day,—that machinery must entirely supersede the necessarily slow processes of labor by hand. That it will at no distant day supersede those processes in the art of printing is, as you will presently see, a fixed fact.
Machinery now does nearly every sort of labor,—economizing health, strength, time, and money, in all that it does. We tread upon beautifully figured carpets that are woven by machinery from single threads. We wear clothes that are made by machinery at the rate of two thousand stitches a minute. We hear in every direction the whistle of the locomotive, which saves us almost incalculable time, in the safe and convenient transportation of our persons and our property. We read in our newspapers messages that are brought instantaneously, from points far as well as near, by a simple electric current, governed by machinery, which prints its thought in plain Roman characters, at a rate of speed defying the emulation of the most expert penman. These, among many illustrations of scientific progress, occur in our daily experience. Manufacture, agriculture, and commerce would yield us others quite as impressive. In all this we see that man is finding out and applying the economy of Nature, and thus that the world is advancing, by well-directed effort, toward a more natural, and therefore a happier civilization.
The labor-saving processes of mechanism as applied to Printing are in the highest degree advantageous and admirable. Once types were cast in moulds, such as boys use for casting bullets. Now they are turned out, with inconceivable rapidity, from a casting-machine worked by steam. Ink and paper, too, are made by machinery; and when the types are set, we invoke the aid of the Steam-Press, and so print off at least fifty impressions to each one produced under the old process of press-work by hand. Machinery, moreover, folds the printed sheets,—trims the rough edges of books,—directs the newspaper,—and does, in short, the bulk of the drudgery that used to be done by operatives, at great expense of time and trouble, and with anything but commensurate profit.
These are facts of familiar knowledge. They indicate remarkable scientific progress. But the great fact—by no means so well known—remains to be stated. It is only of late that machinery has been successfully employed in the most laborious and expensive process connected with the art of printing,—that, namely, of Composition. In this process, however, iron fingers have proved so much better than fingers of flesh, that it is perfectly safe to predict the speedy discontinuance, by all sensible printers, of composition by hand.
Composition—as probably the reader knows—is the method of arranging types in the proper form for use. This, ever since the invention of movable types,—made by Laurentius Coster, in 1430,—has been done by hand. A movement toward economy in this respect was, indeed, made some sixty years ago, by Charles, the third Earl Stanhope, inventor of the Stanhope Press, and of the process of stereotyping which is still in use. His plan was to make the type-shank thicker than usual, and cast two or more letters upon its face instead of one. This, his Lordship rightly considered, would save labor, if only available combinations could be determined; since, using such types, it would frequently happen that the compositor would need to make but one movement for two or three or even four letters. The desired economy, however, was not secured. Subsequent attempts at combinations were made in England, but all proved abortive. In the office of the London "Times," castings of entire words—devised, I think, by Sterling—were used, to a limited extent. It remained, however, for a New-York mechanic to make the idea of combination-type a practical success. Mr. John H. Tobitt, being a stenographer as well as a compositor, was enabled to make a systematic selection of the syllables most frequently occurring in our language; and thus it happens that his combinations have stood a practical test. His improved cases, with combination-type, were shown at the London Exhibition, in 1851, when a medal was awarded to the inventor. These cases have now been in use upwards of ten years, and have demonstrated a gain of twenty per cent over the ordinary method of composition. It should be mentioned that Mr. Tobitt's invention was entirely original with himself. When he made it, he had never heard of Earl Stanhope, nor of any previous attempt at this improvement.
It is evident, when we reflect upon the intricate construction of language, that this method of saving labor, though it may be made still more useful than at present, must always be restricted within a limited circle of operations. Nor would any number of combination-letters obviate the necessity of composition by hand. The printer would still be obliged to stand at the case, picking up type after type, turning each one around and over, and so arranging the words in his "stick." Every one knows this process,—a painfully slow one in view of results, although individual compositors are sometimes wonderfully expert. But it is only when a great many men labor actively during more hours than ought to be spent in toil, that any considerable work is accomplished by this method. The composing-room of a large daily paper, for instance, presents, day and night, a spectacle of the almost ceaseless industry of jaded operatives. The need of relief in this respect was long ago recognized. The attempt at combination-letters was not less a precursor of reform than an acknowledgment of its necessity. It remained for American inventive genius, in this generation, to conceive and perfect the greatest labor-saving device that has ever been applied to the art of printing,—the last need of the operative,—the Type-Setting Machine.
It was inevitable that this should come. The only wonder is that it did not come before. Perhaps, indeed, the idea was often conceived in the minds of skilful, though dreamy and timorous inventors, but not developed, for fear of opposition. And opposition enough it has encountered,—alike from inertia, suspicion, and conservative hostility,—since first it assumed a practical position among American ideas, some ten years ago. But I do not care to dwell upon the shadows. Turn we to the sunshine. There are two strong points in favor of the invention, which, since they cover the whole ground of argument, deserve at least to be stated. I assert, then, without the fear of contradiction before my eyes, that the Type-Setting Machine, besides being a universal benefactor, is, in a double sense, a blessing to the mechanic. It spares his physical health, and it stimulates his mental and moral activity. The first truth appears by sanitary statistics, which prove that the health of such artisans as the type-founder and such craftsmen as the printer has been materially improved by the introduction of mechanical aids to their toil. The second is self-evident,—seeing that there is a moral instructor ever at work in the mazes of ingenious and highly-wrought machinery. Those philosophers are not far wrong, if at all, who assert that the rectitude of the human race has gained strength, as by a tonic, from the contemplation of the severe, arrowy railroad,—iron emblem of punctuality, directness, and despatch.
In the interest, therefore, of education no less than health, it becomes imperative that machinery should be substituted for hand-labor in composition. At present, our printing-offices are by no means the sources whence to draw inspirations of order, fitness, and wholesome toil. On the contrary, they are frequently badly lighted and worse ventilated rooms, wherein workmen elbow each other at the closely set cases, and grow dyspeptic under the combined pressure of foul air and irritating and long-protracted labor. All this should be changed. With the composing-machine would come an atmosphere of order and cleanliness and activity, making work rapid and agreeable, and lessening the period of its duration. I know that working-men are suspicious of scientific devices. But surely the compositor need not fear that the iron-handed automaton will snatch the bread out of his mouth. To diminish the cost of any article produced—which is the almost immediate result of substituting machinery for hand-labor—is to expand the market for that article. The Sewing-Machine has not injured the sempstress. The Power-Press has not injured the pressman. The Type-Setting Machine will not injure the compositor. Skilled labor, which must always be combined with the inventor's appliances for aiding it, so far from dreading harm in such association, may safely anticipate, in the far-reaching economy of science, ampler reward and better health, an increase of prosperity, and a longer and happier life in which to enjoy it.
Let me now briefly sketch the history of type-setting machinery. This must necessarily be done somewhat in the manner of Mr. Gradgrind. I am sorry thus to tax the reader's patience; but facts, which enjoy quite a reputation for stubbornness, cannot easily be wrought into fancies. Color the map as you will, it is but a prosy picture after all.
Charles Babbage, of London, the inventor of the Calculating-Engine, first essayed the application of machinery to composition. His calculator was so contrived that it would record in type the results of its own computations. This was over forty years ago. At about the same time Professor Treadwell of Cambridge, Massachusetts, who was bred a practical mechanic, turned his attention to this improvement, and ascertained by experiment the feasibility of the type-setting machine. But mechanical enterprise was then comparatively inactive in America, and nothing of immediate practical importance resulted from the Professor's experiments. Nor did greater success attend the efforts of Dr. William Church, of Vermont, a contemporary inventor, who constructed an apparatus for setting types, but failed to provide for their distribution. Subsequently, for a long time, the idea slumbered.
At length, about the year 1840, Mr. Timothy Alden, a printer, and a native of Massachusetts, conceived a plan for setting and distributing type, which has since been put into successful operation. Mr. Alden's workshop was, I believe, situated at the corner of Canal and Centre Streets, in New York city. There he labored in privacy, year after year, encountering all manner of difficulty and discouragement, till his great work was substantially completed. His invention was patented in 1857, but the studious and persevering inventor did not live to reap the fruits of the seed he had sown. Worn out with care and toil and long-suffering patience, he died in 1859, a martyr to scientific progress. His patent passed into the hands of his cousin, Mr. Henry W. Alden, who has since organized a company for the manufacture and sale of the Alden Machine.
In appearance, this machine resembles a circular table, having in its centre a wheel, placed horizontally, from the outer edge of which lines of type radiate, like spokes from an axle, to the distance of about one foot. Three-quarters of the circle is filled up by these lines. In front is a key-board, containing one hundred and fifty-four keys, by which the operator governs the action of the machine. The central wheel controls some forty "conveyors," half of which compose the types into language, while the other half distribute them, guided by certain nicks cut upon their sides, to their proper places, when no longer needed. Both operations may go on at the same time. The types, as they are composed, are fed out in a continuous line, at the left of the key-board. The operator then divides this line into proper lengths, and "justifies" it by hand. "Justifying," it should be stated, consists in placing spaces between the words, and making the lines of equal length. This machine is a very ingenious invention, and marks the first great step towards successful improvement in the method of Type-Setting.
Another machine, originated by Mr. William H. Mitchell, of Brooklyn, New York, was patented in 1853. In appearance it suggests a harp placed horizontally. In front is a key-board, in shape and arrangement not unlike that of a piano. Each key indicates a certain letter. The types employed are arranged in columns, nearly perpendicular. The touching of a key throws out a type upon one of a series of endless belts, graduated in length, from six inches up to three feet, which move horizontally towards the farther side of the machine, depositing the types in due order upon a single belt. This latter carries them, in uninterrupted succession, to a brass receiver, on which they stand ranged in one long line. This line is then cut into lengths and justified by hand. Mr. Mitchell's Distributing-Apparatus—which is entirely distinct from the Composing-Machine—is, substantially, a circular wheel armed with feelers, which latter distribute according to the nicks cut in the types.
These machines require very considerable external aid in the labor they accomplish, while, like the Alden Machine, they neither justify nor lead the matter that is set. They have, however, stood a practical test,—having been in use several years. It may interest the reader to know that the matter for the "Continental Monthly" is set up and distributed by them, in the office of Mr. John F. Trow, of New York. They are also known, and to some extent employed, in printing-houses in London, and are found to be economical.
But, as remarked by Macbeth, "the greatest is behind." I touch now upon the most comprehensive and effectual invention for labor-saving in this respect,—namely, the Felt Machine. This ingenious creation, which is, in all particulars, original, and quite distinct from those already mentioned, performs, with accuracy and speed, all the work of composing, justifying, leading, and distributing types. It was invented by Mr. Charles W. Felt, of Salem, Massachusetts, a man of superior genius, whose energy in overcoming obstacles and working out the practical success of his idea is scarcely less remarkable than the idea itself. I shall dwell briefly upon his career, since it teaches the old, but never tiresome lesson of patient perseverance. He began the business of life in his native town, though not in mechanical pursuits. His mind, however, tended naturally toward mechanical science, and he improved every opportunity of increasing his knowledge in that department of study. The processes of Printing especially attracted his attention, and the idea of applying machinery to the work of composition haunted him from an early period of youth. He read, doubtless, of the various experiments that had been made in this direction, and observed, as far as possible, the results achieved by contemporary inventors. But it does not appear, that, in the original conception of his wonderful machine, he was indebted to any source for even a single suggestion. I have seen his first wooden model,—made at the age of eighteen,—crude and clumsy indeed, compared with the machine in its present shape, but containing the main features and principles. This was the first step. He began with the earnings of his boyhood. Then a few friends, fired by his spirit and courage, contributed money, and enabled him to prosecute his enterprise during several years. In this way it became the one purpose of his life. In time the number of his liberal patrons increased to nearly one hundred, and a considerable fund was placed at his disposal. Thus, genius, energy, and patience, aided by capital, carried the work bravely forward. It is a pleasure to record that a worthy design was thus generously nurtured. Mr. Felt's fund was subsequently increased by additional loans, from several of the same patrons. One of these gentlemen—Dr. G. Henry Lodge, of Swamscott, Massachusetts—contributed with such generous liberality that he may justly be said to share with the inventor the honor of having introduced this noble improvement in the art of printing. I take off my hat to Maecenas. Dr. Lodge was led to appreciate the need of such an improvement by personal experience in publishing a large work, copies of which were gratuitously distributed among various libraries in the Republic. Acquainted with the toil of a printer's life, impelled by earnest love of real progress, and guided by a sound, practical judgment, he was peculiarly well fitted for the difficult province of directing the labors of an enthusiastic inventor. His duty has been well performed. The success of Mr. Felt's undertaking is due scarcely less to the pecuniary aid of all his patrons than to the counsel and encouragement of this wise, liberal, and steadfast friend. Thus aided, he has triumphed over all obstacles. Proceeding in a most unostentatious manner, he has submitted his device to the inspection of practical printers, and men of science, in various cities of the United States and Great Britain, and has everywhere won approval. His first patent was issued in 1854,—proceedings to obtain it having been commenced in the preceding year. Meanwhile he has organized a wealthy and influential company, for the purpose of manufacturing the machines and bringing them into general use. One of them has been built at Providence, Rhode Island, but the manufactory will be in Salem, Massachusetts, where the company has been formed.
The merits of Mr. Felt's machine are manifold. It is comparatively simple in construction, it is strongly made and durable, it cannot easily get out of order, and it does its work thoroughly. All that is required of the operator is to read the copy and touch the keys. The processes proceed, then, as of their own accord. But the supreme excellence of the machine is that it justifies the matter which it sets. The possibility of doing this by machinery has always been doubted, if not entirely disbelieved, from an erroneous idea that the process must be directed by immediate intelligence. Mr. Felt's invention demonstrates that this operation is clearly within the scope of machinery; that there is no need of a machine with brains, for setting or justifying type; that such a machine need not be able to think, read, or spell; but that, guided in its processes by an intelligent mind, a machine can perform operations which, as in this case, are purely mechanical, much more rapidly and cheaply than they can be performed by hand.