Shelley used to say that a Roman peasant is as good a judge of sculpture as the best academician or anatomist. It is this direct appeal, this elemental simplicity, which constitutes the great distinction and charm of the art. There is nothing evasive and mysterious; in dealing with form and expression through features and attitude, average observation is a reliable test. The same English poet was right in declaring that the Greek sculptors did not find their inspiration in the dissecting-room; yet upon no subject has criticism displayed greater insight on the one hand and pedantry on the other, than in the discussion of these very chefs-d'oeuvre of antiquity. While Michel Angelo, who was at Rome when the Laocon was discovered, hailed it as "the wonder of Art," and scholars identified the group with a famous one described by Pliny, Canova thought that the right arm of the father was not in its right position, and the other restorations in the work have all been objected to. Goethe recognized a profound sagacity in the artist: "If," he wrote, "we try to place the bite in some different position, the whole action is changed, and we find it impossible to conceive one more fitting; the situation of the bite renders necessary the whole action of the limbs";—and another critic says, "In the group of the Laocon, the breast is expanded and the throat contracted to show that the agonies that convulse the frame are borne in silence." In striking contrast with such testimonies to the scientific truth to Nature in Grecian Art was the objection I once heard an American back-woods mechanic make to this celebrated work; he asked why the figures were seated in a row on a dry-goods box, and declared that the serpent was not of a size to coil round so small an arm as the child's, without breaking its vertebrae. So disgusted was Titian with the critical pedantry elicited by this group, that, in ridicule thereof, he painted a caricature,—three monkeys writhing in the folds of a little snake.
Yet, despite the jargon of connoisseurship, against which Byron, while contemplating the Venus de Medici, utters so eloquent an invective, sculpture is a grand, serene, and intelligible art,—more so than architecture and painting,—and, as such, justly consecrated to the heroic and the beautiful in man and history. It is predominantly commemorative. How the old cities of Europe are peopled to the imagination, as well as the eye, by the statues of their traditional rulers or illustrious children, keeping, as it were, a warning sign, or a sublime vigil, silent, yet expressive, in the heart of busy life and through the lapse of ages! We could never pass Duke Cosmo's imposing effigy in the old square of Florence without the magnificent patronage and the despotic perfidy of the Medicean family being revived to memory with intense local association,—nor note the ugly mitred and cloaked papal figures, with hands extended, in the mockery of benediction, over the beggars in the piazzas of Romagna, without Ranke's frightful picture of Church abuses reappearing, as if to crown these brazen forms with infamy. There was always a gleam of poetry,—however sad,—on the most foggy day, in the glimpse afforded from our window, in Trafalgar Square, of that patient horseman, Charles the Martyr. How alive old Neptune sometimes looked, by moonlight, in Rome, as we passed his plashing fountain! And those German poets,—Goethe, Schiller, and Jean Paul,—what to modern eyes were Frankfort, Stuttgart, and Baireuth, unconsecrated by their endeared forms? The most pleasant association Versailles yielded us of the Bourbon dynasty was that inspired by Jeanne d'Arc, graceful in her marble sleep, as sculptured by Marie d'Orlans; and the most impressive token of Napoleon's downfall we saw in Europe was his colossal image intended for the square of Leghorn, but thrown permanently on the sculptor's hands by the waning of his proud star. The statue of Heber, to Christian vision, hallows Calcutta. The Perseus of Cellini breathes of the months of artistic suspense, inspiration, and experiment, so graphically described in that clever egotist's memoirs. One feels like blessing the grief-bowed figures at the tomb of Princess Charlotte, so truly do their attitudes express our sympathy with the love and the sorrow her name excites. Would not Sterne have felt a thrill of complacency, had he beheld his tableau of the Widow Wadman and Uncle Toby so genially embodied by Ball Hughes? What more spirited symbol of prosperous conquest can be imagined than the gilded horses of St. Mark's? How natural was Michel Angelo's exclamation, "March!" as he gazed on Donatello's San Giorgio, in the Church of San Michele,—one mailed hand on a shield, bare head, complete armor, and the foot advanced, like a sentinel who hears the challenge, or a knight listening for the charge! Tenerani's "Descent from the Cross," in the Torlonia Chapel, outlives in remembrance the brilliant assemblies of that financial house. The outlines of Flaxman, essentially statuesque, seem alone adequate to illustrate to the eye the great Mediaeval poet, whose verse seems often cut from stone in the quarries of infernal destiny. How grandly sleep the lions of Canova at Pope Clement's tomb!
It is to us a source of noble delight, that with these permanent trophies of the sculptor's art may now be mingled our national fame. Twenty years ago, the address in Murray's Guide-Book,—Crawford, an American Sculptor, Piazza Barberini,—would have been unique; now that name is enrolled on the list of the world's benefactors in the patrimony of Art. Greenough, by his pen, his presence, and his chisel, gave an impulse to taste and knowledge in sculpture and architecture not destined soon to pass away; no more eloquent and original advocate of the beautiful and the true in the higher social economies has blest our day; his Cherubs and Medora overflow with the poetry of form; his essays are a valuable legacy of philosophic thought. The Greek Slave of Powers was invariably surrounded by visitors at the London World's Fair and the Manchester Exhibition. Palmer has sent forth from his isolated studio at Albany a series of ideal busts, of a pure type of original and exquisite beauty. Others might be named who have honorably illustrated an American claim to distinction in an art eminently republican in its perpetuation of national worth and the identity of its highest achievements with social progress.
Facility of execution and prolific invention were the essential traits of Crawford's genius. For some years his studio has been one of the shrines of travellers at Rome, because of the number and variety as well as excellence of its trophies. The idea has been suggested, and it is one we hope to see realized, that this complete series of casts should be permanently conserved in such a temple as Copenhagen reared to the memory of her great sculptor. It was on account of this facility and fecundity that Crawford advocated plaster as an occasional substitute for bronze and marble, where elaborate compositions were proposed. He felt capable of achieving so much, his mind teemed with so many panoramic and single conceptions,—historical, allegorical, ideal, and illustrative of standard literature or classical fable,—that only time and expense presented obstacles to unlimited invention. Perhaps no one can conceive this peculiar creativeness of his fancy and aptitude of hand, who has not had occasion to talk with Crawford of some projected monument or statue. No sooner was he possessed of the idea to be embodied, the person or occasion to be commemorated, than he instantly conceived a plan and drew a model, invariably possessing some felicitous thought or significant arrangement. His sketch-book was quite as suggestive of genius as his studio. The "Sketch of a Statue to crown the Dome of the United States Capitol"—a photograph of which is before us as we write, dated two years ago—is an instance in point. A more grand figure, original and symbolic, graceful and sublime, in attitude, aspect, drapery, accessories, and expression, or one more appropriate, cannot be imagined; and yet it is only one of hundreds of national designs, more or less mature, which that fertile brain, patriotic heart, and cunning hand devised. We are justified in regarding the appropriation by the State of Virginia, for a monument to Washington by such a man, as an epoch in the history of national Art. Crawford hailed it as would a confident explorer the ship destined to convey him to untracked regions, the ambitious soldier tidings of the coming foe, or any brave aspirant a long-sought opportunity. It is one of the drawbacks to elaborate achievement in sculpture, that the materials and the processes of the art require large pecuniary facilities. To plan and execute a great national monument, under a government commission, was precisely the occasion for which Crawford had long waited. Happening to read the proposals in a journal, while on a visit to this country, he repaired immediately to Richmond, submitted his views, and soon received the appointment.
The absence of complexity in the language and intent of sculpture is always obvious in the expositions of its votaries. In no class of men have we found such distinct and scientific views of Art. One lovely evening in spring, we stood with Bartolini beside the corpse of a beautiful child. Bereavement in a foreign land has a desolation of its own, and the afflicted mother desired to carry home a statue of her loved and lost. We conducted the sculptor to the chamber of death, that he might superintend the casts from the body. No sooner did his eyes fall upon it, than they glowed with admiration and filled with tears. He waved the assistants aside, clasped his hands, and gazed spellbound upon the dead child. Its brow was ideal in contour, the hair of wavy gold, the cheeks of angelic outline. "How beautiful!" exclaimed Bartolini; and drawing us to the bedside, with a mingled awe and intelligence, he pointed out how the rigidity of death coincided, in this fair young creature, with the standard of Art;—the very hands, he declared, had stiffened into lines of beauty; and over the beautiful clay we thus learned from the lips of a venerable sculptor how intimate and minute is the cognizance this noble art takes of the language of the human form. Greenough would unfold by the hour the exquisite relation between function and beauty, organization and use,—tracing therein a profound law and an illimitable truth. No more genial spectacle greeted us in Rome than Thorwaldsen at his Sunday-noon receptions;—his white hair, kindly smile, urbane manners, and unpretending simplicity gave an added charm to the wise and liberal sentiments he expressed on Art,— reminding us, in his frank eclecticism, of the spirit in which Humboldt cultivates science, and Sismondi history. Nor less indicative of this clear apprehension was the thorough solution we have heard Powers give, over the mask taken from a dead face, of the problem, how its living aspect was to modify its sculptured reproduction; or the original views expressed by Palmer as to the treatment of the eyes and hair in marble. During Crawford's last visit to America, we accompanied him to examine a portrait of Washington by Wright. It boasts no elegance of arrangement or refinement of execution; at a glance it was evident that the artist had but a limited sense of beauty and lacked imagination; but, on the other hand, he possessed what, for a sculptor's object,—namely, facts of form and feature,—is more important,—conscience. Crawford declared this was the only portrait of Washington which literally represented his costume; having recently examined the uniform, sword, etc., he was enabled to identify the strands of the epaulette, the number of buttons, and even the peculiar seal and watch-key. A man so faithful to details, so devoted to authenticity, Crawford argued, was reliable in more essential things. He remarked, that one of his own greatest difficulties in the equestrian statue had been to reconcile the shortness of the neck in Stuart's portrait and Houdon's statue (the body of which was not taken from life) with the stature of Washington,—there being an anatomical incongruity therein. "I had determined," he continued, "to follow what the laws of Nature and all precedent indicate as the right proportion,— otherwise it would be impossible to make a graceful and impressive statue; but in this picture, bearing such remarkable evidence of authenticity, I find the correct distance between chin and breast."
American travellers in Italy will sometimes be repelled by a certain narrowness in the critical estimate of modern sculptors; though of all arts sculpture demands and justifies the most liberal eclecticism. Thus, a broad line of demarcation has been arbitrarily drawn between high finish and prolific invention, originality and superficial skill; as if these merits could not be united, or were incompatible with each other,—and that, invariably, works of "outward skill elaborate" are "of inward less exact." A Boston critic denominates Powers "a sublime mechanic," as if there were only physical imitation in his busts, and no expression in his figures. The insinuation is unjust. By exquisite finish and patient labor he makes of such subjects as the Fisher-boy, the Proserpine, and Il Penseroso charming creations,—in attitude and feature true to the moment and the mood delineated, and not less true in each detail; their popularity is justified by scientific and tasteful canons; and his portrait busts and statues are, in many instances, unrivalled for character as well as execution. A letter to one of his friends lies before us, in which he responds to an amicable remonstrance at his apparent slowness of achievement. The reasoning is so cogent, the principle asserted of such wide application, and the artistic conscience so nobly evident, that we venture to quote a passage.
"It is said, that works designed to adorn buildings need not be done with much care, being only architectural sculptures. This is quite a modern idea. The Greeks did not entertain it, as is proved by those gems which Lord Elgin sawed away from the walls of the Parthenon. I cannot admit that a noble art should ever be prostituted to purposes of mere show. They do not make rough columns, coarse and uneven friezes, jagged mouldings, etc., for buildings. These are always highly finished. Are figures in marble less important? But speed, speed, is the order of the day,—'quick and cheap' is the cry; and if I prefer to linger behind and take pains with the little I do, there are some now, and there will be more hereafter, to approve it. I cannot consent to model statues at the rate of three in six months, and a clear conscience will reward me for not having yielded to the temptation of making money at the sacrifice of my artistic reputation. Art is, or should be, poetry, in its various forms,—no matter what it is written upon,—parchment, paper, canvas, or marble. Milton employed his daughter to write his 'Paradise Lost,' not to compose it; her hand was moved by his soul; she was his modelling-tool,—nothing more. But to employ another to model for you, and go away from him, is not analogous. He then composes for you; modelling is composition. And whom did Shakspeare get to do this for him? Whom did Gray employ to arrange in words that immortal wreath set with diamond thoughts which he has thrown upon a country churchyard? Whom did Michel Angelo get to model his Moses? How many young men did Ghiberti employ during the forty years he was engaged upon the Gates of Paradise? I cannot yield my convictions of what is proper in Art. I will do my work as well as I know how, and necessity compels me to demand ample payment for it."
We have sometimes wondered that some aesthetic philosopher has not analyzed the vital relation of the arts to each other and given a popular exposition of their mutual dependence. Drawing from the antique has long been an acknowledged initiation for the limner, and Campbell, in his terse description of the histrionic art, says that therein "verse ceases to be airy thought, and sculpture to be dumb." How much of their peculiar effects did Talma, Kemble, and Rachel owe to the attitudes, gestures, and drapery of the Grecian statues! Kean adopted the "dying fall" of General Abercrombie's figure in St. Paul's as the model of his own. Some of the memorable scenes and votaries of the drama are directly associated with the sculptor's art,— as, for instance, the last act of "Don Giovanni," wherein the expressive music of Mozart breathes a pleasing terror in connection with the spectral nod of the marble horseman; and Shakspeare has availed himself of this art, with beautiful wisdom, in that melting scene where remorseful love pleads with the motionless heroine of the "Winter's Tale,"—
"Her natural posture! Chide me, dear stone, that I may say, indeed, Thou art Hermione; or rather, thou art she In thy not chiding: for she was as tender As infancy and grace."
Garrick imitated to the life, in "Abel Drugger," a vacant stare peculiar to Nollekens, the sculptor; and Colley Cibber's father was a devotee of the chisel and adorned Chatsworth with free-stone Sea-Nymphs.
Crawford's interest in portrait-busts was secondary, owing to his inventive ardor; the study he bestowed upon the lineaments of Washington, however, gave a zest and a special insight to his endeavor to represent his head in marble, and, accordingly, this specimen of his ability, which arrived in this country after his decease, is remarkable for its expressive, original, and finished character. For ourselves, in view of the great historical value, comparative authenticity, and possible significance and beauty of this department of sculpture, it has a peculiar interest and charm. The most distinct idea we have of the Roman emperors, even in regard to their individual characters, is derived from their busts at the Vatican and elsewhere. The benignity of Trajan, the animal development of Nero, and the classic rigor of young Augustus are best apprehended through these memorable effigies which Time has spared and Art transmitted. And a similar permanence and distinctness of impression associate most of our illustrious moderns with their sculptured features: the ironical grimace of Voltaire is perpetuated by Houdon's bust; the sympathetic intellectuality of Schiller by Dannecker's; Handel's countenance is familiar through the elaborate chisel of Roubillac; Nollekens moulded Sterne's delicate and unimpassioned but keen physiognomy, and Chantrey the lofty cranium of Scott. Who has not blessed the rude but conscientious artist who carved the head of Shakspeare preserved at Stratford? How quaintly appropriate to the old house in Nuremberg is Albert Drer's bust over the door! Our best knowledge of Alexander Hamilton's aspect is obtained from the expressive marble head of him by that ardent republican sculptor, Ceracchi. It was appropriate for Mrs. Darner, the daughter of a gallant field-marshal, to portray in marble, as heroic idols, Fox, Nelson, and Napoleon. We were never more convinced of the intrinsic grace and solemnity of this form of "counterfeit presentment" than when exploring the Bacioechi palazzo at Bologna. In the centre of a circular room, lighted from above, and draped as well as carpeted with purple, stood on a simple pedestal the bust of Napoleon's sister, thus enshrined after death by her husband. The profound stillness, the relief of this isolated head against a mass of dark tints, and its consequent emphatic individuality, made the sequestered chamber seem a holy place, where communion with the departed, so spiritually represented by the exquisite image, appeared not only natural, but inevitable. Our countryman, Powers, has eminently illustrated the possible excellence of this branch of Art. In mathematical correctness of detail, unrivalled finish of texture, and with these, in many cases, the highest characterization, busts from his hand have an absolute artistic value, independent of likeness, like a portrait by Vandyck or Titian. When the subject is favorable, his achievements in this regard are memorable, and fill the eye and mind with ideas of beauty and meaning undreamed of by those who consider marble portraits as wholly imitative and mechanical. Was there ever a human face which so completely reflected inward experience and individual genius as the bust which haunts us throughout Italy, broods over the monument in Santa Croce, gazes pensively from library niche, seems to awe the more radiant images of boudoir and gallery, and sternly looks melancholy reproach from the Ravenna tomb?
"The lips, as Cumae's cavern close, The cheeks, with fast and sorrow thin, The rigid front, almost morose, But for the patient hope within, Declare a life whose course hath been Unsullied still, though still severe, Which, through the wavering days of sin, Kept itself icy chaste and clear."
National characters become, as it were, household gods through the sculptor's portrait; the duplicates of Canova's head of Napoleon seem as appropriate in the salons and shops of France, as the heads of Washington and Franklin in America, or the antique images of Scipio Africanus and Ceres in Sicily, and Wellington and Byron in London.
There is no phase of modern life so legitimate in its enjoyment and so pleasing to contemplate as the life of the true artist. Endowed with a faculty and inspired by a love for creative beauty, work is to him at once a high vocation and a generous instinct. Imagine the peace and the progress of those years at Rome when Crawford toiled day after day in his studio,—at first without encouragement and for bread, then in a more confident spirit and with some definite triumph, and at last crowned with domestic happiness and artistic renown,—his mind filled with ideal tasks more and more grand in their scope, and the coming years devoted in prospect to the realization of his noblest aspirations. From early morning to twilight, with rare and brief interruptions, he thus designed, modelled, chiselled, superintended, every day adding something permanent to his trophies. This self-consecration was entire, and in his view indispensable. Few and simple were the recreative interludes: a reunion of brother-artists or fellow-countrymen and their families,—an occasional journey, almost invariably with a professional intent,—a summer holiday or a winter festival; but, methodical in pastime as in work, his family and his books were his cherished resources. Often so weary at night that he returned home only to recline on a couch, caress his children, or refresh his mind with some agreeable volume provided by his vigilant companion,—the best energies of his mind and the freshest hours of life were absolutely given to Art. This is the great lesson of his career: not by spasmodic effort, or dalliance with moods, or fitful resolution, did he accomplish so much; but by earnestness of purpose, consistency of aim, heroic decision of character. There is nothing less vague, less casual in human experience, than true artist-life. Rome is the shrine of many a dreamer, the haunt of countless inefficient enthusiasts. But there, as elsewhere, will must intensify thought, action control imagination, or both are fruitless. Those melancholy ruins, those grand temples of religion, the immortal forms and hues that glorify palace and chapel, square, mausoleum, and Vatican, the dreamy murmur of fountains, the aroma of violets and pine-trees, the pensive relics of imperial sway, the sublime desolation of the Campagna, the mystery of Nature and Art, when both are hallowed by time, the social zest of an original brotherhood like the artists, the freedom and loveliness, the ravishment of spring and the soft radiance of sunset, all that there captivates soul and sense, must be resisted as well as enjoyed;—self-control, self-respect, self-dedication are as needful as susceptibility, or these peerless local charms will only enchant to betray the artist. Crawford carried to Rome the ardor of an Irish temperament and the vigor of an American character. Hundreds have passed through a like ordeal of privation, ungenial because conventional work, and slow approach to the goal of recognized power and remunerated sacrifice; but few have emerged from the shadow to the sunshine, by such manly steps and patient, cheerful trust. It was not the voice of complaint that first attracted towards him intelligent sympathy,—it was brave achievement; and from the day when a remittance from Boston enabled him to put his Orpheus in marble, to the day when, attended by his devoted sister, he paid the last visit to his crowded studio, and looked, with quivering eyelids, but firm heart, on the silent but eloquent offspring of his brain and hand, the Artist in him was coincident with the Man,—clear, unswerving, productive, the sphere extending, the significance multiplying, and the mastery becoming more and more complete through resolute practice, vivid intuition, and candid search for truth.
In the fifteenth century, and earlier, the lives of artists were adventurous; political relations gave scope to incident; and Michel Angelo, Salvator Rosa, and Benvenuto Cellini furnish almost as many anecdotes as memorials of genius. In modern times, however, vicissitude has chiefly diversified the uniform and tranquil existence of the artist; his struggles with fortune, and not his relations to public events, have given external interest to his biography. It is the mental rather than the outward life which is fraught with significance to the painter and sculptor; consciousness more than experience affords salient points in his career. How the executive are trained to embody the creative powers, through what struggles dexterity is attained, and by what reflection and earnest musing and observant patience and blest intuitions original achievements glimmer upon the fancy, grow mature by thought, correct through the study of Nature, and are finally realized in action,— these and such as these inward revelations constitute the actual life of the artist. The mere events of Crawford's existence are neither marvellous nor varied; his early love of imitative pastime, his fixed purpose, his resort to stone-cutting as the nearest available expedient for the gratification of that instinct to copy and create form which so decidedly marks an aptitude for sculpture, his visit to Rome, the self-denial and the lonely toil of his novitiate, his rapid advancement in both knowledge and skill, and his gradual recognition as a man of original mind and wise enthusiasm are but the normal characteristics of his fraternity. Circumstances, however, give a singular prominence and pathos to these usual facts of artist-life. When Crawford began his professional career, sculpture, as an American pursuit, was almost as rare as painting at the time of West's advent in Rome; to excel therein was a national distinction, having a freshness and personal interest such as the votaries of older countries did not share; as the American representative of his art at Rome, even in the eyes of his comrades, and especially in the estimation of his countrymen, he long occupied an isolated position. The qualities of the man,—his patient industry,—the new and unexpected superiority in different branches of his art, so constantly exhibited,—the loyal, generous, and frank spirit of his domestic and social life,—the freedom, the faith, and the assiduity that endeared him to so large and distinguished a circle, were individual claims often noted by foreigners and natives in the Eternal City as honorable to his country. It was remembered there, when he died, that the hand now cold had warmly grasped in welcome his compatriots, shouldered a musket as one of the republican guard, and been extended with sympathy and aid to his less prosperous brothers. At the meeting of fellow-artists, convened to pay a tribute to his memory, every nation of Europe was represented, and the most illustrious of living English sculptors was the first to propose a substantial memorial to his name. What his nativity and his character thus so eminently contributed to signalize, the offspring of his genius, the manner of his death, solemnly confirmed. By no sudden fever, such as insidiously steals from the Roman marshes and poisons the blood of its victims,—by no violent epidemic, like those which have again and again devastated the cities of Europe,—by no illusive decline, whereby vital power is sapped unconsciously and with mild gradations, and which, in that soft clime, has peopled with the dust of strangers the cemetery which the pyramid of Cestius overshadows and the heart of Shelley consecrates,—by none of these familiar gates of death did Crawford pass on; but, in the meridian of his powers and his fame, in the climax of his artistic career, in the noontide of his most genial activity, a corrosive tumor on the inner side of the orbit of the eye encroached month by month, week by week, hour by hour, upon the sources of life. Medical skill freed the brain from its deadly pressure, but could not divert its organic affinity. The mind's integrity was thus preserved intact; consciousness and self-possession lent their dignity to waning strength; but the alert muscles were relaxed; the busy hands folded in prayer; what Michel Angelo uttered in his eighty-sixth Crawford was called upon to echo in his forty-fifth year:—
"Wellnigh the voyage now is overpast, And my frail bark, through troubled seas and rude, Draws nigh that common haven where at last, Of every action, be it evil or good, Must due account be rendered. Well I know How vain will then appear that favored art, Sole idol long, and monarch of my heart; For all is vain that man desires below."
The cheerful voice was often hushed by pain; but conjugal and sisterly love kept vigil, a long, a bitter year, by that couch of suffering in the heart of multitudinous Paris and London; hundreds of sympathizing friends, in both hemispheres, listened and prayed and hoped through a dreary twelvemonth. With the ripe autumn closed the quiet struggle; and "in the bleak December" the mortal remains were followed from the temple where his youth worshipped, to the snow-clad knoll at Greenwood; garlands and tears, the ritual and the requiem, eulogy and elegy, consecrated the final scene. By a singular coincidence, the news of his decease reached the United States simultaneously with the arrival of the ship in James River with the colossal bronze statue of Washington, his crowning achievement.
One would imagine, from the eagerness and intensity exhibited by Crawford, that he anticipated a brief career. Work seemed as essential to his comfort as rest is to less determined natures. He was a thorough believer in the moral necessity of absolute allegiance to his sphere; and differed from his brother-artists chiefly in the decisive manner in which he kept aloof from extrinsic and incidental influences. If Art ever made labor delectable, it was so with him. He seemed to go through with the ordinary processes of life with but a half consciousness thereof,—save where his personal affections were concerned. One of the first works for which he expressed a sympathetic admiration was Thorwaldsen's "Triumph of Alexander,"—one of the most elaborate and suggestive of modern friezes. He early contemplated an entire series of illustrations of Ovid. He alternated, with infinite relish, between the extreme phases of his art,—a delicate Peri and a majestic Colossus, an extensive array of basso rilievo figures, a sublime ideal of manhood and an exquisite image of infancy. His alacrity of temper was co-equal with his steadiness of purpose; and the cheerfulness of an active mind, sanguine temperament, and great nervous energy did not abandon him, even in the state of forced passivity so intolerable to such habitude; for hilarious words and, once or twice, the old ringing laugh startled the fond watchers of his declining hours. The events of his life are but a few expressive outlines; his works embody his most real experience; and the thoughts and feelings, the observation and the sentiment, not therein moulded or sketched, happily found adequate record in the ample and ingenuous letters he wrote to his beloved sister, from the time of his first arrival in Europe to that of his last arrival in America,—embracing a period of twenty-two years. Each work he conceived and executed, each process of study, the impressions he gained and the convictions at which he arrived in relation to ancient and modern art,—each journey, achievement, plan, opinion,—what he saw, and imagined, and hoped, and did,—was frankly and fondly noted; and the time may come when these epistles, inspired by love and dictated by intelligent sympathy and insight, will be compiled into a priceless memorial of artist-life.
ASIRVADAM THE BRAHMIN.
Who put together the machinery of the great Indian revolt, and set it going? Who stirred up the sleeping tiger in the Sepoy's heart, and struck Christendom aghast with the dire devilries of Meerut and Cawnpore?
Asirvadam the Brahmin!
Asirvadam is nimble with mace or cue; at the billiard-table, it is hinted, he can distinguish a kiss from a carom; at the sideboard (and here, if I were Mr. Charles Reade, I would whisper, in small type) he confounds not cocktails with cobblers; when, being in trade, he would sell you saltpetre, he tries you with flax-seed; when he would buy indigo, he offers you indigo at a sacrifice. Yet, in Asirvadam, if any quality is more noticeable than the sleek respectability of the Baboo, it is the jealous orthodoxy of the Brahmin. If he knows in what presence to step out of his slippers, and when to pick them up again with his toes, in jaunty dandyisms of etiquette, he also makes the most of his insolent order and its patent of privilege, and wears the rue of his triple cord with a demure and dignified difference. High, low, or jack, it is always "the game" with him; and the game is—Asirvadam the Brahmin,—free tricks and Brahmins' rights,—Asirvadam for his caste, and everything for Asirvadam.
The natural history of our astute and accomplished friend is worth a page or two. And first, as to his color. Asirvadam comes from the northern provinces, and calls the snow-turbaned Himalayas cousin; consequently his complexion is the brightest among Brahmins. By some who are uninitiated in the chemical mysteries of our metropolitan milk-trade, it has been likened to chocolate and cream, with plenty of cream; but the comparison depends, for the idea it conveys, so much on the taste of the ethnological inquirer, as to the proportion of cream, and still so much more, as in the case of Mr. Weller's weal pies, on the reputation of "the lady as makes it," that it will hardly serve the requirements of a severe scientific statement. Copper-color has an excess of red, and sepia is too brown; the tarry tawniness of an old boatswain's hand is nearer the mark, but even that is less among man-of-war's men than in the merchant-service, and is least in the revenue marine; it varies, also, with the habits of the individual, and the nature of his employment for the time being. The flipper of your legitimate shiver-my-timbery old salt, whose most amiable office is piping all hands to witness punishment, has long since acquired the hue of a seven-years' meerschaum; while the dandy cockswain of a forty-gun frigate lying off the navy-yard, who brings the third cutter ship-shapely alongside with a pretty girl in the stern-sheets, lends her—the pretty girl—a hand at the gangway, that has been softened by fastidious applications of solvent slush to the tint of a long envelope "on public service." "Law sheep," when we come to the binding of books, is too sallow for this simile; a little volume of "Familiar Quotations," in limp calf, (Bartlett, Cambridge, 1855,) might answer,—if the cover of the January number of the "Atlantic Monthly" were not exactly the thing.
Simplicity, convenience, decorum, and picturesqueness distinguish the costume of Asirvadam the Brahmin. Three yards of yard-wide fine cotton cloth envelope his loins, in such a manner, that, while one end hangs in graceful folds in front, the other falls in a fine distraction behind. Over this, a robe of muslin, or silk, or pia cloth—the latter in peculiar favor, by reason of its superior purity, for high-caste wear—covers his neck, breast, and arms, and descends nearly to his ankles. Asirvadam borrowed this garment from the Mussulman; but he fastens it on the left side, which the follower of the Prophet never does, and surmounts it with an ample and elegant waistband, beside the broad Romanesque mantle that he tosses over his shoulder with such a senatorial air. His turban, also, is an innovation,—not proper to the Brahmin,—pure and simple, but, like the robe, adopted from the Moorish wardrobe, for a more imposing appearance in Sahib society. It is formed of a very narrow strip, fifteen or twenty yards long, of fine stuff, moulded to the orthodox shape and size by wrapping it, while wet, on a wooden block; having been hardened in the sun, it is worn like a hat. As for his feet, Asirvadam, uncompromising in externals, disdains to pollute them with the touch of leather. Shameless fellows, Brahmins though they be, of the sect of Vishnu, go about, without a blush, in thonged sandals, made of abominable skins; but Asirvadam, strict as a Gooroo when the eyes of his caste are on him, is immaculate in wooden clogs.
In ornaments, his taste, though somewhat grotesque, is by no means lavish. A sort of stud or button, composed of a solitary ruby, in the upper rim of the cartilage of either ear,—a chain of gold, curiously wrought, and intertwined with a string of small pearls, around his neck,—a massive bangle of plain gold on his arm,—a richly jewelled ring on his thumb, and others, broad and shield-like, on his toes,—complete his outfit in these vanities.
As often as Asirvadam honors us with his morning visit of business or ceremony, a slight yellow line, drawn horizontally between his eyebrows, with a paste composed of ground sandal-wood, denotes that he has purified himself externally and internally, by bathing and prayers. To omit this, even by the most unavoidable chance to appear in public without it, were to incur a grave public scandal; only excepting the reason of mourning, when, by an expressive Oriental figure, the absence of the caste-mark is accepted for the token of a profound and absorbing sorrow, which takes no thought even for the customary forms of decency. The disciple of Siva crossbars his forehead with ashes of cow-dung or ashes of the dead; the sectary of Vishnu adorns his with a sort of trident, composed of a central perpendicular line in red, and two oblique lines, white or yellow. But the true Brahmin knows no Siva or Vishnu, no sectarian distinctions or preferences; Indra has set no seal upon his brow, nor Krishna, nor Devendra. For, ignoring celestial personalities, it is the Trimurti that he grandly adores,—Creation, Preservation, Destruction triune,—one body with three heads; and the right line alone, or pottu, the mystic circle, describes the sublime simplicity of his soul's aspiration.
When Asirvadam was but seven years old, he was invested with the triple cord, by a grotesque, and in most respects absurd, extravagant, and expensive ceremony, called the Upanayana, or Introduction to the Sciences, because none but Brahmins are freely admitted to their mysteries. This triple cord consists of three thick strands of cotton, each composed of several finer threads; these three strands, representing Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva, are not twisted together, but hang separately, from the left shoulder to the right hip. The preparation of so sacred a badge is entrusted to none but the purest hands, and the process is attended with many imposing ceremonies. Only Brahmins may gather the fresh cotton; only Brahmins may card and spin and twist it; and its investiture is a matter of so great cost, that the poorer brothers must have recourse to contributions from the pious of their caste, to defray the exorbitant charges of priests and masters of ceremonies.
It is a noticeable fact in the natural history of the always insolent Asirvadam, that, unlike Shatriya, the warrior, Vaishya, the cultivator, or Soodra, the laborer, he is not born into the full enjoyment of his honors, but, on the contrary, is scarcely of more consideration than a Pariah, until by the Upanayana he has been admitted to his birthright. Yet, once decorated with the ennobling badge of his order, our friend became from that moment something superior, something exclusive, something supercilious, arrogant, exacting,—Asirvadam, the high Brahmin,—a creature of wide strides without awkwardness, towering airs without bombast, Sanscrit quotations without pedantry, florid phraseology without hyperbole, allegorical illustrations and proverbial points without sententiousness, fanciful flights without affectation, and formal strains of compliment without offensive adulation.
When Asirvadam meets Asirvadam in the way, compliments pass: each touches his forehead with his right hand, and murmurs twice the auspicious name of Rama. But the passing Vaishya or Soodra elevates reverently his joined palms above his head, and, stepping out of his slippers, salutes the descendant of the Seven Holy Penitents with namaskaram, the pious obeisance. Andam arya! "Hail, exalted Lord!" he cries; and the exalted lord, extending the pure lilies of his hands lordliwise, as one who condescends to accept an humble offering, mutters the mysterious benediction which only Gooroos and high Brahmins may bestow,—Asirvadam!
The low-caste slave who may be admitted to the distinguished presence of our friend, to implore indulgence, or to supplicate pardon for an offence, must thrice touch the ground, or the honored feet, with both his hands, which immediately he lays upon his forehead; and there are occasions of peculiar humiliation which require the profound prostration of the sashtangam, or abasement of the eight members, wherein the suppliant extends himself face downward on the earth, with palms joined above his head.
If Asirvadam—having concluded a visit in which he has deferentially reminded me of the peculiar privilege I enjoy in being admitted to social converse with so select a being—is about to withdraw the light of his presence, he retires backward, with many humbly gracious salaams. If, on the other hand, I have had the honor to be his distinguished guest at his garden-house, and am in the act of taking my leave, he patronizes me to the gate with elaborate obsequiousness, that would be tedious, if it were not so graceful, so comfortable, so gallantly vainglorious. He shows the way by following, and spares me the indignity of seeing his back by never taking his eyes from mine. He knows what is due to his accomplished friend, the Sahib, who is learned in the four Yankee Vedas; as to what is due to Asirvadam the Brahmin, no man knoweth the beginning or the end of that.
When Asirvadam crosses my threshold, he leaves his slippers at the door. I am flattered by the act into a self-appreciative complacency, until I discover that he thereby simply puts me on a level with his cow. When he converses with me, he keeps respectful distance, and gracefully averts from me the annoyance of his breath by holding his hand before his mouth. I inwardly applaud his refined breeding, forgetting that I am a Pariah of Pariahs, whose soul, if I have one, the incense of his holy lungs might save alive,—forgetting that he is one to whose very footprint the Soodra salaams, alighting from his palanquin,—to whose shadow poor Chakili, the cobbler, abandons the broad highway,—the feared of gods, hated of giants, mistrusted of men, and adored of himself,—Asirvadam the Brahmin.
"They, the Brahmin Asirvadam, to him, Phaldasana, who is obedient, who is true, who has every faithful quality, who knows how to serve with cheerfulness, to submit in silence, who by the excellent services he renders the Brahmins has become like unto the stone Chintamani, the bringer of good, who by the number and variety and acceptableness of his gifts shall attain, without further trials, to the paradise of Indra: Asirvadam!
"The year Vikarj, the tenth of the month Phalguna: we are at Benares in good health; bring us word of thine. It shall be thy privilege to make sashtangam at the feet—which are the true lilies of Nilufar— of us the Lord Brahmin, who are endowed with all the virtues and all the sciences, who are great as Mount Meru, to whom belongs illustrious knowledge of the four Vedas, the splendor of whose beneficence is as the noon-flood of the sun, who are renowned throughout the fourteen worlds, whom the fourteen worlds admire.
"Having received with both hands that which we have abased ourself by writing to thee, and having kissed it and set it on thy head, thou wilt read with profound attention and execute with grateful alacrity the orders it contains, without swerving from the strict letter of them, the breadth of a grain of sesamum. Having hastened to us, as thou art blessed in being bidden, thou shalt wait in our presence, keeping thy distance, thy hands joined, thy mouth closed, thine eyes cast down,—thou who art as though thou wert not,—until we shall vouchsafe to perceive thee. And when thou hast obtained our leave, then, and not sooner, shalt thou make sashtangam at our blessed feet, which are the pure flowers of Nilufar, and with many lowly kisses shalt lay down before them thy unworthy offering,—ten rupees, as thou knowest,—more, if thou art wise,—less, if thou darest.
"This is all we have to say to thee. Asirvadam!"
In the epistolary style of Asirvadam the Brahmin we are at a loss which to admire most,—the flowers or the force, the modesty or the magnificence.
Among the cloistral cells of the women's quarter, which surround the inner court of Asirvadam's domestic establishment, is a dark and narrow chamber which is the domain of woman's rights. It is called "the Room of Anger," because, when the wife of the bosom has been tempted by inveigling box-wallahs with a love of a pink coortee, or a pair of chased bangles, "such darlings, and so cheap," and has conceived a longing for the same, her way is, without a word beforehand, to go shut herself up in the Room of Anger, and pout and sulk till she gets them; and seeing that the wife of the bosom is also the pure concocter of the Brahminical curry and server of the Brahminical rice, that she is the goddess of the sacred kitchen and high-priestess of pots and pans, it is easy to see that her success is certain. Poor little brown fool! that twelve feet square of curious custom is all, of the world-wide realm of beauty and caprice, that she can call her own.
When the enamored young Asirvadam brought to her father's gate the lover's presents,—the ear-rings and the bangles, the veil and the loongee, the attar and the betel and the sandal, the flowers and the fruits,—the lizard that chirped the happy omen for her betrothal lied. When she sat by his side at the wedding-feast, and partook of his rice, prettily picking from the same leaf, ah! then she did not eat,—she dreamed; but ever since that time, waiting for his leavings, nor daring to approach the board till he has retired to his pipe, she does not dream,—she feeds.
Around her neck a strange ornament of gold, having engraved upon it the likeness of Lakshmee, is suspended by a consecrated string of one hundred and eight threads of extreme fineness, dyed yellow with saffron. This is the Tahli, the wife's badge,—"Asirvadam the Brahmin, his chattel." They brought it to her on a silver salver garnished with flowers, she sitting with her betrothed on a great cushion; and ten Brahmins, holding around the happy pair a screen of silk, invoked for them the favor of the three divine couples,—Brahma with Sarawastee, Vishnu with Lakshmee, Siva with Paravatee. Then they offered incense, to the Tahli, and a sacrifice of fire, and they blessed it with many mantras, or holy texts; and as the bride turned her to the east, and fixed her inmost thought on the "Great Mountain of the North," Asirvadam the Brahmin clasped his collar on her neck, never to be loosened till he, dying, shall leave her to be burned, or spurned.
No man, when he meets Asirvadam the Brahmin, presumes to ask, "How is the little brown fool today?" No man, when he visits him, ventures to inquire if she is at home; it is not the etiquette. Should the little brown fool, having a mind of her own, and being resolved not to endure this any longer, suddenly make Asirvadam ridiculous some day, the etiquette is to hush it up among their friends.
As Raja, the warrior, sprang from the right arm of Brahma, and Vaishya, the cultivator, from his belly, and Soodra, the laborer, from his feet,—so Asirvadam the Brahmin was conceived in the head and brought forth from the mouth of the Creator; and he is above the others by so much as the head is above arms, belly, and feet; he is wiser than the others, inasmuch as he has lain among the thoughts of the god, has played with his inventions, and made excursions through the universe with his speech. Therefore, if it be true, as some say, that Asirvadam is an ant-hill of lies, he is also a snake's-nest of wisdom, and a beehive of ingenuity. Let him be respected, for his rights are plain.
It is his right to be taught the Vedas and the mantras, all the tongues of India, and the sciences; to marry a child-wife, no matter how old he may be,—or a score of wives, if he be a Kooleen Brahmin, so that he may drive a lively business in the way of dowries; to peruse the books of magic, and perform the awful sacrifice of the Yajna; to receive presents without limit, levy taxes without law, and beg with insolence.
It is his duty to study diligently; to conform rigorously to the rules of his caste; to honor and obey his superiors without question or hesitation; to insult his inferiors, for the magnifying of his office; to get him a wife without loss of time, and a male child by all means. During his religious minority he is expected to bathe and sacrifice twice a day, to abstain from adorning his forehead or his breast with sandal, to wear no flowers in his hair, to chew no betel, to regard himself in no mirrors.
Under Hindoo law, which is his own law, Asirvadam the Brahmin pays no taxes, tolls, or duties; corporal punishment can in no case be inflicted upon him; if he is detected in defalcation or the taking of bribes, partial restitution is the worst penalty that can befall him. "For the belly," he says, "one will play many tricks." To smite his cheek with your leathern glove, or to kick him with your shoe, is an outrage at which the gods rave; to kill him would draw down a monstrous calamity upon the world. If he break faith with you, it is as nothing; if you fail him in the least promise, you take your portion with Karta, the Fox, as the good Abb Dubois relates.
"Karta, Karta!" screamed an Ape, one day, when he saw a fox feeding on a rotten carcass, "thou must, in a former life, have committed some dreadful crime, to be doomed to a new state in which thou feedest on such garbage."
"Alas!" replied the Fox, "I am not punished more severely than I deserve. I was once a man, and then I promised something to a Brahmin, which I never gave him. That is the true cause of my being regenerated in this shape. Some good works, which I did have, won for me the indulgence of remembering what I was in my former state, and the cause for which I have been degraded into this."
Asirvadam has choice of a hundred callings, as various in dignity and profit as they are numerous. Under native rule he makes a good cooly, because the officers of the revenue are forbidden to search a Brahmin's baggage, or anything that he carries. He is an expeditious messenger, for no man may stop him; and he can travel cheaply for whom there is free entertainment on every road. "For the belly one will play many tricks"; and Asirvadam, in financial straits, may teach dancing to nautch-girls; or he may play the mountebank or the conjurer, and with a stock of mantras and charms proceed to the curing of murrain in cattle, pip in chickens, and short-windedness in old women,—at the same time telling fortunes, calculating nativities, finding lost treasure, advising as to journeys and speculations, and crossing out crosses in love for any pretty dear who will cross the poor Brahmin's palm with a rupee. He may engage in commercial pursuits; and in that case, his bulling and bearing at the opium-sales will put Wall Street to the blush. He may turn his attention to the healing art; and allopathically, homoeopathically, hydropathically, electropathically, or by any other path, run a muck through many heathen hospitals. The field of politics is full of charms for him, the church invites his taste and talents, and the army tempts him with opportunities for intrigue; but whether in the shape of Machiavelisms, miracles, or mutinies, he is forever making mischief. Whether as messenger, dancing-master, conjurer, fortune-teller, speculator, mountebank, politician, priest, or Sepoy, he is ever the same Asirvadam the Brahmin,—sleekest of lackeys, most servile of sycophants, expertest of tricksters, smoothest of hypocrites, coolest of liars, most insolent of beggars, most versatile of adventurers, most inventive of charlatans, most restless of schemers, most insidious of jesuits, most treacherous of confidants, falsest of friends, hardest of masters, most arrogant of patrons, cruelest of tyrants, most patient of haters, most insatiable of avengers, most gluttonous of ravishers, most infernal of devils,—pleasantest of fellows.
Superlatively dainty as to his fopperies of orthodoxy, Asirvadam is continually dying of Pariah roses in aromatic pains of caste. If in his goings and comings one of the "lilies of Nilufar" should chance to stumble upon a bit of bone or rag, a fragment of a dish, or a leaf from which some one has eaten,—should his sacred raiment be polluted by the touch of a dog or a Pariah,—he is ready to faint, and only a bath can revive him. He may not touch his sandals with his hand, nor repose in a strange seat, but is provided with a mat, a carpet, or an antelope's skin, to serve him for a cushion in the houses of his friends. With a kid glove you may put his respectability in peril, and with your patent-leather pumps affright his soul within him. To him a pocket-handkerchief is a sore offence, and a tooth-pick monstrous. All the Vedas could not save the Giaour who "chews"; nor burnt brandy, though the Seven Penitents distilled it, purify the mouth that a tooth-brush has polluted. Beware how you offer him a wafered letter; and when you present him with a copy of your travels, let it be bound in cloth.
He has the Mantalini idiosyncrasy as to dem'd unpleasant bodies; and when he hears that his mother is dead, he straight-way jumps into a bath with his clothes on. Many mantras and much holy-water, together with incense of sandal-wood, and other perfumery, regardless of expense, can alone relieve his premises of the deadness of his wife.
For a Soodra even to look upon the earthen vessels wherein his rice is boiled implies the necessity of a summary smash of the infected crockery; and his kitchen is his holy of holies. When he eats, the company keep silence; and when he is full, they return fervent thanks to the gods who have conducted him safely through a complexity of dangers;—a grain of rice, falling from his lips, might have poisoned his dinner; a stain on his plantain-leaf might have turned his cake to stone. His left hand, condemned to vulgar and impolite offices, is not admitted to the honor of assisting at his repasts; to the right alone, consecrated by exemption from indecorous duties, belongs the distinction of conducting his happy grub to the heaven of his mouth. When he would quench his thirst, he disdains to apply the earth-born beaker to his lips, but lets the water fall into his solemn swallow from on high,—a pleasant feat to see, and one which, like a whirling dervis, diverts you by its agility, while it impresses you by its devotion.
It is easy to perceive, that, if our friend Asirvadam were not one of the "Young Bengal" lights who do not fash themselves with trifles, his orthodox sensibilities would be subjected to so many and gross affronts from the indiscriminate contacts of a mixed community, that he would shortly be compelled to take refuge in one of those Arcadias of the triple cord, called Agragramas, where pure Brahmins are met in all the exclusiveness of high caste, and where the more a man rubs against his neighbor the more he is sanctified. True, the Soodras have an irreverent saying, "An entire Brahmin at the Agragrama, half a Brahmin when seen at a distance, and a Soodra when out of sight"; but then the Soodras, as everybody knows, are saucy, satirical rogues, and incorrigible jokers.
There was once a foolish Brahmin, to whom a rich and charitable merchant presented two pieces of cloth, the finest that had ever been seen in the Agragrama. He showed them to the other Brahmins, who all congratulated him on so fortunate an acquisition; they told him it was the reward of some deed that he had done in a previous life. Before putting them on, he washed them, according to custom, in order to purify them from the pollution of the weaver's touch, and hung them up to dry, with the ends fastened to two branches of a tree. Presently a dog, happening to pass that way, ran under them, and the Brahmin could not decide whether the unclean beast was tall enough to touch the cloth, or not. He questioned his children, who were present; but they were not quite certain. How, then, was he to settle the all-important point? Ingenious Brahmin! an idea struck him. Getting down on all fours, so as to be of the same height as the dog, he crawled under the precious cloths.
"Did I touch it?"
"No!" cried all the children; and his soul was filled with joy.
But the next moment the terrible conviction took possession of his mind, that the dog had a turned-up tail; and that, if, in passing under the cloths, he had elevated and wagged it, their defilement must have been consummated. Ready-witted Brahmin! another idea. He called the cleverest of his children, and bade it affix to his breech-cloth a plantain-leaf, dog's-tail-wise, and waggishly. Then resuming his all-fours-ness, he passed a second time under the cloth, and conscientiously, and anxiously, wagged.
"A touch! a touch!" cried all the children, and the Brahmin groaned, for he knew that his beautiful raiment was ruined. Thrice he wagged, and thrice the children cried, "A touch! a touch!"
So the strict Brahmin leaped to his feet, in a frightful rage, and, tearing the precious cloth from the tree, rent it in a hundred shreds, while he cursed the abominable dog and the master that owned him. And the children admired and were edified, and they whispered among themselves,—
"Now, surely, it behooveth us to take heed to our ways, for our father is particular."
Moral: And the Brahmin winked.
The Samaradana is an institution for which our friend Asirvadam entertains peculiar veneration. This is simply an abundant feast of Brahminical good things, to which the "fat and greasy citizens" of the caste are bidden by some zealous or manoeuvring Soodra,—on occasion of the dedication of a temple, perhaps, or in a season of drought, or when a malign constellation is to be averted, or to celebrate the birth or marriage of some exalted personage. From all the country round about, the Brahmins flock to the feasting, singing Sanscrit hymns and obscene songs, and shouting, Hara! hara! Govinda! The low fellow who has the honor to entertain so select a company is not suffered to seat himself in the midst of his guests, much less to partake of the viands he has been permitted to provide; but in consideration of his "deed of exalted merit," and his expensive appreciation of the beauties and advantages of high-caste society, as expressed in all the delicacies of the season, he may come, when the last course has been discussed, and, prostrating himself in the sashtangam posture, receive the unanimous asirvadam of the company.
If, in taking leave of his august guests, he should also signify his sense of the honor they have done him, by presenting each with a piece of cloth or a sum of money, he is assured that he is altogether superior in mind and person to the gods, and that, if he is wise, he will not neglect to remind his friends of his munificence by another exhibition of it within a reasonable time.
In the creed of Asirvadam the Brahmin, the drinker of strong drink is a Pariah, and the eater of cow's flesh is damned already. If, then, he can tell a cocktail from a cobbler, and scientifically discriminate between a julep and a gin-sling, it must be because the Vedas are unclasped to him; for in the Vedas all things are taught. It is of Asirvadam's father that the story is told, how, when a fire broke out in his house once, and all the pious neighbors ran to rescue his effects, the first articles saved were a tub of pickled pork and a jar of arrack. But this, also, no doubt, is the malicious invention of some satirical rogue of a Soodra. Asirvadam, as is well known, recoils with horror from the abomination of eating aught that has once lived and moved and had a being; but if, remembering that, you should seek to fill his soul with consternation by inviting him to inspect a fig under a microscope, he would quietly advise you to break your nasty glass and "go it blind."
But there is one custom which Asirvadam the Brahmin observes in common with the Pariah, and that is the solemn ceremonial of Death. When his time comes, he dies, is burned, and presently forgotten; and it is a consolation for his ever having been at all, that some one is sure to be the richer and happier and freer for his ceasing to be. True, he may assume new earthly conditions, may pass into other vexatious shapes of life; but the change must ever be for the better in respect of the interests of those who have suffered by the powers and capabilities of the shape which he relinquishes. He may become a snake; but then he is easily scotched, or fooled out of his fangs with a cunning charmer's tom-tom;—he may pass into the foul feathers of an indiscriminately gluttonous adjutant-bird; but some day a bone will choke him;—his soul may creep under the mangy skin of a Pariah dog, and be kicked out of compounds by scullions; he may be condemned to the abominable offices of a crow at the burning ghauts, a jackal by the wells of Thuggee, or a rat in sewers; but he can never again be such a nuisance, such a sore offence to the minds and hearts of men, as when he was Asirvadam the Brahmin.
Fortunate indeed will he be, if the low, deep curses of all whom he has oppressed, betrayed, insulted, shall not have availed against him in his last hour. "Mayest thou never have a friend to lay thee on the ground when thou diest!"—no imprecation so fierce, so fell, as that; even Asirvadam the Brahmin abates his cruel greed, when some poor Soodra client, bled of his last anna, thinks of his sick wife, and the darling cow that must be sold at last, and grows desperate. "Mayest thou have no wife to sprinkle the spot with cow-dung where thy corpse shall lie, and to spread the unspotted cloth; nor any cow, her horns tipped with rings of brass, and her neck garlanded with flowers, to lead thee, holding by her tail, through pleasant paths to the land of Yama! May no Purohita come to strew thy bier with the holy herb, nor any next of kin be near to whisper the last mantra!"
Horrid Soodra! But though thy words make the soul of Asirvadam shiver, they are but the voice of a dog, after all, and nothing can come of them. Asirvadam the Brahmin has raised up lusty boys to himself, as every good Brahmin should; and they shall bind together his thumbs and his great toes, and lay him on the ground, when his hour is come,— lest the bed or the mat cling to his ghost, whithersoever it go, and torment it eternally. His wife shall spread beneath him a cloth that the hands of Kooleen Brahmins have woven. Lilies of Nilufar shall garland the neck of the happy cow that is to lead him safely beyond the fiery river, and the rings shall be golden wherewith her horns are tipped. A mighty concourse of clients shall follow him to the place of burning,—to "Rudra, the place of tears,"—whither ten Kooleen Brahmins will bear him; and as often as they set down the bier to feed the dead with a morsel of moistened rice, other Brahmins shall sing his wisdom and his virtues, and celebrate his meritorious deeds. When his funeral pyre is lighted, his sons, and his sons' sons, and his daughters' husbands, and his nephews, shall beat their breasts and rend the air with lamentations; and when his body has been consumed, his ashes shall be given to the Ganges,—all save a certain portion, which shall be made into a paste with milk, and moulded into an image; and the image shall be set up in his house, that the Brahmins and all his people may offer sacrifices before it.
On the tenth day, his wife shall adorn her forehead with a scarlet emblem, blacken the edges of her eyelids with soorma, deck her hair with scarlet flowers, her neck and bosom with sandal, stain her face, arms, and legs with turmeric, and array her in her choicest robes and all her jewels, and follow her eldest son, in full procession, to the tank hard by the "land of Rudra." And the heir shall take three little stones, that were planted there in a row by the Purohitas, and, going down into the water as deep as his neck, shall turn his face to the sun and say, "Until this day these three stones have stood for my father, that is dead. Henceforth let him cease to be a carcass; let him enter into the joys of Swarga, the paradise of Devendra, to be blessed with all conceivable blessings so long as the waters of Ganges shall continue to flow;—so shall the dead Brahmin not prowl through the universe, afflicting with evil tricks stars, men, and trees; so shall he be laid."
But who shall lay the quick Asirvadam, than whom there walks not a sprite more cunning, more malign?
Ever since the Solitaries, odious by their black arts to princes and people, were slain or driven out,—fifteen centuries and more,— Asirvadam the Brahmin has been selfish, wicked, and mischievously busy,—corrupting the hearts, bewildering the minds, betraying the hopes, exhausting the moral and physical strength of the Hindoos. He has taught them the foolish tumult of the Hooly, the fanatical ferocities of the Yajna, the unwhisperable obscenities of the Saktis, the fierce and ruinous extravagances of the Doorga Pooja, the mutilating monstrosities of the Churruck, the enslaving sorceries of the Atharvana Veda, the raving mad revivals of Juggernath, the pious debaucheries of Nanjanagud, the strange and sorrowful delusions of Suttee, the impudent ravishments of Vengata Ramana,—all the fancies and frenzies, all the delusions and passions and moral epilepsies that go to make up a Meerut or a Cawnpore.
Of the outrageous insolence of the Seven Penitents he omits nothing but their sincerity; of the enlightened simplicity of the anchoret philosophers he retains nothing but their selfishness; of the intellectual influence of the Gooroo pontiffs he covets nothing but their dissimulation. He has taught his gaping disciples that a skilfully compounded and plausibly administered lie is a goodly thing,— except it be told against the cause of a Brahmin, in which case no oxyhydrogeneralities of earthly combustion can afford an idea of the particular hotness of the hell devised for such a liar. He has solemnly impressed them with the mysterious sacredness of the Ganges, and its manifold virtues of a supernatural order; to swear falsely by its waters, he says, is a crime for which Indra the Dreadful has provided an eternity of excruciations,—except the false oath be taken in the interest of a Brahmin, in which case the perjurer may confidently expect a posthumous good time. For the rich to extort money from the poor, says Asirvadam, is an affront to the Gooroos and the Gods, which must be punished by forfeiture to the Brahmins of the whole sum extorted, the poor client to pay an additional charge for the trouble his protectors have incurred; the same when fines are recovered; and in cases of enforced payment of debts, three-fourths of the sum collected are swallowed up in costs. Being a Brahmin, to pay a bribe is a foolish act; to receive one—a necessary circumstance, perhaps. Not being a Brahmin, to offer or accept a bribe is a disgraceful transaction, requiring that both parties shall be made an example of;—the bribe is forfeited to the Brahmins, and the poorer party fined; if the fine exceed his means, the richer party to pay the excess.
As the Brahminical interpretation of an oath is not always clear to prisoners and witnesses of other castes, it is usual to illustrate the definition to the obtuser or more scrupulous unfortunates by the old-fashioned machinery of ordeals: such as compelling the conscientious or obdurate inquirer to promenade without sandals over burning coals; or to grasp, and hold for a time, a bar of red-hot iron; or to plunge the hands into boiling oil, and keep them there for several minutes. The party receiving these illustrations and practical definitions of the Brahminical nature of an oath, without discomfort or scar, is frankly adjudged innocent and reasonable.
Another pretty trick of ordeal, which borrows its more striking features from the department of natural history, is that in which the prisoner or witness is required to grope about for a trinket or small coin in a basket or jar already occupied by a lively cobra. Should the groper not be bitten, our courtly friend, Asirvadam, is satisfied there has been some mistake here, and gallantly begs the gentleman's pardon. To force the subject to swallow water, cup by cup, until it burst from mouth and nose, is also a very neat ordeal, but requiring practice.
Formerly, Asirvadam the Brahmin "farmed" the offences of his district;— that is, he paid a certain sum to government for the right to try, and to punish, all the high crimes and misdemeanors that should be committed in his "section" for a year. Of course, fines were his favorite penalties; and although most of the time, expenses for meddlers and perjurers being heavy, the office did not pay more than a fair living profit, there would now and then come a year when, rice being scarce and opium cheap, with the aid of a little extra exasperation, he cut it pretty fat. "Take it year in and year out," said Asirvadam the Brahmin, "a fellow couldn't complain."
Asirvadam the Brahmin is among the Sepoys. He sits by the well of Barrackpore, a comrade on either side, and talks, as only he can talk to whom no books are sealed. To one, a rigid statue of thrilled attention, he speaks of the time when Arab horsemen first made flashing forays down upon Mooltan; he tells of Mahmoud's mace, that clove the idol of Somnath, and of the gold and gems that burst from the treacherous wood, as water from the smitten rock in the wilderness; he tells of Timour, and Baber the Founder, and the long imperial procession of the Great Moguls,—of Humayoon, and Akbar, and Shah Jehan, and Aurengzebe,—of Hyder Ali and Tippoo Sultan,— of Moorish splendor and the Prophet's sway; and the swarthy Mussulman stiffens in lip-parted listening.
To the other, a fiery enthusiast, fretting for the acted moral of a tale he knows too well, he whispers of British blasphemy and insolence,—of Brahmins insulted, and gods derided,—of Vedas violated, and the sacred Sanscrit defiled by the tongues of Kaffirs,—of Pariahs taught and honored,—of high and low castes indiscriminately mingled, an obscene herd, in schools and regiments,— of glorious institutions, old as Mount Meru, boldly overthrown,—of suttee suppressed, and infanticide abated,—of widows re-married, and the dowries of the brides of Brahmins limited,—of high-caste students handling dead bodies, and Soodra beggars drinking from Brahminical wells,—of the triple cord broken in twain, and Brahminee bulls slain in the streets, and cartridges greased with the fat of cows, and Christian converts indemnified, and property not confiscated for loss of caste,—and a frightful falling off in the benighting business generally; and the fierce Rajpoot grinds his white teeth, while Asirvadam the Brahmin plots, and plots, and plots.
Incline your ears, my brothers, and I will sing you softly, and low, a song to make Moor and Rajpoot bite, with their very hearts:
"Bring Soma to the adorable Indra, the lord of all, the lord of wealth, the lord of heaven, the perpetual lord, the lord of men, the lord of earth, the lord of horses, the lord of cattle, the lord of water!"
"Offer adoration to Indra, the overcomer, the destroyer, the munificent, the invincible, the all-endowing, the creator, the all-adorable, the sustainer, the unassailable, the ever-victorious!"
"I proclaim the mighty exploits of that Indra who is ever victorious, the benefactor of man, the overthrower of man, the caster-down, the warrior, who is gratified by our libations, the grantor of desires, the subduer of enemies, the refuge of the people!"
"Unequalled in liberality, the showerer, the slayer of the malevolent, profound, mighty, of impenetrable sagacity, the dispenser of prosperity, the enfeebler, firm, vast, the performer of pious acts, Indra has given birth to the light of the morning!"
"Indra, bestow upon us most excellent treasures, the reputation of ability, prosperity, increase of wealth, security of person, sweetness of speech, and auspiciousness of days!"
"Offer worship quickly to Indra; recite hymns; let the outpoured drops exhilarate him; pay adoration to his superior strength!"
"When, Indra, thou harnessest thy horses, there is no such charioteer as thou; none is equal to thee in strength; none, howsoever well horsed, has overtaken thee!"
"He, who alone bestows wealth upon the man who offers him oblations, is the undisputed sovereign: Indra, ho!"
"When will he trample with his foot upon the man who offers no oblations, as upon a coiled snake? When will Indra listen to our praises? Indra, ho!"
"Indra grants formidable strength to him who worships him, having libations prepared: Indra, ho!"
The song that was chanted low by the well of Barrackpore to the maddened Rajpoot, to the dreaming Moor, was fiercely shouted by the well of Cawnpore to a chorus of shrieking women, English wives and mothers, and spluttering of blood-choked babes, and clash of red knives, and drunken shouts of slayers, ruthless and obscene.
When Asirvadam the Brahmin conjured the wild demon of revolt to light the horrid torch and bare the greedy blade, he tore a chapter from the Book of Menu:—
"Let no man, engaged in combat, smite his foe with concealed weapons, nor with arrows mischievously barbed, nor with poisoned arrows, nor with darts blazing with fire."
"Nor let him strike his enemy alighted on the ground; nor an effeminate man, nor one who sues for life with closed palms, nor one whose hair is loose, nor one who sits down, nor one who says, 'I am thy captive.'"
"Nor one who sleeps, nor one who has lost his coat-of-mail, nor one who is naked, nor one who is dismayed, nor one who is a spectator, but no combatant, nor one who is fighting with another man."
"Calling to mind the duty of honorable men, let him never slay one who has broken his weapon, nor one who is afflicted, nor one who has been grievously wounded, nor one who is terrified, nor one who turns his back."
But Asirvadam the Brahmin, like the Thug of seven victims, has tasted the sugar of blood, sweeter upon his tongue than to the lips of an eager babe the pearl-tipped nipple of its mother. Henceforth he must slay, slay, slay, mutilate and ravish, burn and slay, in the name of the queen of horrors.—Karlee, ho!
Now what shall be done with our dangerous friend? Shall he be blown from the mouths of guns? or transported to the heart-breaking Andamans? or lashed to his own churruck-posts, and flayed with cats by stout drummers? or handcuffed with Pariahs in chain-gangs, to work on his knees in foul sewers? or choked to death with raw beefsteaks and the warm blood of cows? or swinged by stout Irish wenches with bridle-ends? or smitten on the mouth with kid gloves by English ladies, his turban trampled under foot by every Feringhee brat in Bengal?—Wanted, a poetical putter-down for Asirvadam the Brahmin.
"Devotion is not in the ragged garment, nor in the staff, nor in ashes, nor in the shaven head, nor in the sounding of horns.
"Numerous Mahomets there have been and multitudes of Brahmas, Vishnus, and Sivas;
"Thousands of seers and prophets, and tens of thousands of saints and holy men:
"But the chief of lords is the one Lord, the true name of God!"
* * * * *
WHAT ARE WE GOING TO MAKE?
It would be easy to collect a library of lamentations over the mechanical tendency of our age. There are, in fact, a good many people who profess a profound contempt for matter, though they do nevertheless patronize the butcher and the baker to the manifest detriment of the sexton. Matter and material interests, they would have us believe, are beneath the dignity of the soul; and the degree to which these "earthly things" now absorb the attention of mankind, they think, argues degeneracy from the good old times of abstract philosophy and spiritual dogmatism. But what do we better know of the Infinite Spirit than that he is an infinite mechanic? Whence do we get worthier or sublimer conceptions of him than from the machinery with which he works? Are we ourselves less godlike building mills than sitting in pews?—less in the image of our Maker, endeavoring to subdue matter than endeavoring to ignore its existence? Without questioning that the moral nature within us is superior to the mechanical, we think it quite susceptible of proof that the moral condition of the world depends on the mechanical, and that it has advanced and will advance at equal pace with the progress of machinery. To prove this, or anything else, however, is by no means the purpose of this article, but only to take the general reader around a little among mechanical people and ideas, to see what lies ahead.
"Papa, what are you going to make?" was doubtless the question of Tubal-Cain's little boy, when he saw his ingenious father hammering a red-hot iron, with a stone for a hammer, and another for an anvil. Little boys have often since asked the same question in blacksmiths' shops, and we now have shops in which the largest boys may well ask it. It might be answered in a general way, that the smiths or smiters, black and white, were and are going to make what our Maker left unmade in making the human race. The lower animals were all sent into the world in appropriate, finished, and well-fitting costume, provided with direct and effective means of subsistence and defence. The eagle had his imperial plumage, beak, and talons; the elephant his leathern roundabout and travelling trunk, with its convenient air-pump; and the beaver, at once a carpenter and a mason, had his month full of chisels and his tail a trowel. The bipes implumis, on the contrary, was hatched nude, without even the embryo of a pin-feather. There was nothing for him but the recondite capabilities of his two talented, but talonless hands, and a large brain almost without instinct. Nothing was ready-made, only the means of making. He was brought into the infinite world a finite deity, an infinitesimal creator,—the first being of that class, to our knowledge. His most urgent business as a creator was to make tools for himself, and especially for the purpose of supplying his own pitiful destitution of feathers. From the aprons of fig-leaves, stitched hardly so-so, to the last patent sewing-machine, he has made commendable progress. Without borrowing anything from other animals, he can now, if he chooses, rival in texture, tint, gloss, lightness, and expansiveness, the plumage of peacocks and birds-of-paradise; and it only remains that what can be done shall be done more extensively,—we do not mean for the individual, but for the masses. Man has created not only tools, but servants,— animals all but alive. We may soon say that he has created great bodies politic and bodies corporate, with heads, hands, feet, claws, tails, lungs, digestive organs, and perhaps other viscera. What is remarkable, having at first failed to furnish them with nerves, he has lately supplied that deficiency,—a token that he will supply some others.
Let not the reader shrink from our page as irreverent. It shall not preach the possibility of inventing perpetual motion or a machine with a soul in it, as was lately and vainly attempted in our good city of Lynn,—where, however, it may be said, they do succeed in making soles to what resemble machines. It is not for us to be either so enthusiastic, impious, or uncharitable as to prophesy that human ingenuity will ever endow its creations with anything more than the rudest semblance of that self-directing vitality which characterizes the most servile of God-created machinery. The human mechanic must be content, if he can approach as near to the creation of life as the painter and sculptor have done. The soul of the man-made horse-power is primarily the horse, and secondarily the small boy who stands by to "cut him up" occasionally. Maelzel created excellent chess-players, with the exception of intelligence, which he was obliged to borrow of the original Creator and conceal in a closet under the table.
But let us not undervalue ourselves—which would, in fact, be to undervalue our Creator—for such shortcomings. Though into our iron horse's skull or cab we have to put one or two living men to supply its deficiency of understanding, it is nevertheless a recognizable animal, of a very grand and somewhat novel type. Its respiratory, digestive, and muscular systems are respectable; and in the nature and articulation of its organs of motion it is clearly original. The wheel, typical of eternity, is nowhere to be found among living organisms, unless we take the brilliant vision of Ezekiel in a literal sense. The idea of attributing life or spirit to wheels, organs by their nature detached or discontinuous from the living creatures of which they were parts, was worthy of a prophet or poet; but to no such prophetic vision were the first wheelwrights indebted for their conception of so great an improvement upon animal locomotion. For if they had not made chariots before Noah's flood, they certainly had done it before Pharaoh's smaller affair in the Red Sea. On that occasion, the chariot-wheels of the Egyptians were taken off; but this does not seem to have produced effects so decisive as would result from a similar disorganization in Broadway or Washington Street; for the charioteers still "drave them heavily." Hence we may infer that the wheels were of rude workmanship, making the chariots little less liable to the infirmity of friction than those Western vehicles called mud-boats, used to navigate semi-fluid regions which pass on the map for terra firma.
Yet, notwithstanding the rudeness of the primitive chariot, made of two or three sticks and two rings cut from a hollow tree, it was the germ of human inventions, and embosomed the world's destiny. It was the most original as well as the most godlike of human thoughts. The ship may have been copied from the nautilus, or from the embarked squirrel trimming his tail to the breeze; or it may have been blundered upon by the savage mounted on a drift-log, accidentally making a sail of his sheepskin cloak while extending his arms to keep his balance. But the cart cannot be regarded either as a plagiarism from Nature, or the fruit of accident. The inventor must have unlocked Nature's private closet with the key of mathematical principle, and carried off the wheel and axle, the only mechanical power she had not used in her physical creation, as patent to our senses. Of course, she meant it should be stolen. She had, it is true, made a show of punishing her little Prometheus for running off with her match-box and setting things on fire, but she must have felt proud of the theft. In well-regulated families children are not allowed to play with fire, though the passion to do it is looked on as a favorable mental indication. When the good dame saw that her infant chef-d'oeuvre had got hold of her reserved mechanical element, the wheel, she foresaw his use of the stolen fire would be something more than child's play. The cart, whether two-wheeled, or, as our Hibernian friends will have it, one-wheeled, was an infinite success, an invention of unlimited capabilities. Yet the inventor obtained no record. Neither his name nor his model is to be found in any patent-office.
The tool-making animal, having obtained this marvellous means of multiplying, or rather treasuring and applying, mechanical force, went on at least some thousands of years before waking up to its grand significance. Among the nations that first obtained excellence in textile fabrics, very little use has ever been made of the wheel. The spinning-girl of Dacca, who twists, and for ages has twisted, a pound of cotton into a thread two hundred and fifty miles long, beating Manchester by ninety miles, has no wheel, unless you so call a ball of clay, of the size of a pea, stuck fast on one end of her spindle, by means of which she twists it between her thumb and finger. But this wonderful mechanical feat costs her many months of labor, to say nothing of previous training; while the Manchester factory-girl, aided by the multiplying power of the wheel, easily makes as much yarn, though not quite so fine, in a day. If it were an object to rival the tenuity of the finest India muslin, machinery could easily accomplish it. But that spider-web fabric is carried so nearly to transparency, that the Emperor Aurengzebe is said to have reproved his daughter for the indelicacy of her costume while she wore seven thicknesses of it. She might have worn twelve hundred yards without burdening herself with more than a pound weight; what she did wear did not, probably, weigh two ounces. The Chinese and Japanese have spinning-wheels hardly equal to those brought over by our pilgrim fathers in the Mayflower. But they have also, what Western civilization has not, praying-wheels. In Japan the praying-wheel is turned by hand; but in China, according to Hue, it is sometimes carried by water-power, and rises to the dignity of a mill. The Japanese, however, have mills for hulling rice, turned by very respectable water-wheels. The Egyptians and Greeks had water-wheels, and in fact understood all the mechanical powers. Archimedes, all the world knows, astounded the Romans by mechanical combinations which showered rocks on the besiegers of Syracuse, and boasted he could make a projectile of the world itself, if he could only find a standing-place outside of it.
The present civilization of Europe very properly began with the clock, a machine which a monk, afterwards Pope Sylvester II, was supposed to have borrowed from Satan, though he was probably indebted for it to the Saracens. For nearly nine hundred years after his day, the best ingenuity of Italian, German, Swiss, French, and English mechanics was devoted to perfecting this noble creation, and it became at last a part of the civilized man, a sort of additional or supplementary sense. The savage may well be excused for mistaking the watch for a living creature. It could not serve us better, if it were. True, it does not perform its function by its own force, but by a stock of extraneous force which is from time to time put into a little store-house called a spring. Neither does the living creature perform its functions by any other force than that which is developed by the chemical action within it, or the quasi combustion of its food. Its will does but direct the application of its mechanical power. It creates none. You may weigh the animal and all the food it is to consume, and thence calculate the utmost ounce of work, of a given kind, which it can thereafter perform. It may do less, but cannot do more. Having consumed all of its food and part of itself, it dies. Its chemical organs have oxydated or burned up all the combustibles submitted to them, thus developing a definite amount of heat, a part of which, at the dictation of the will, by the mechanism of nerves and muscles, has been converted into mechanical motion. When the chemical function ceases, for the want of materials to act upon, the development of heat ceases. There is no more either to be converted into motion or to maintain the temperature of the body; and self-consumption having already taken the place of self-repair, there is no article left but the articulus mortis.
But of all the force or motion produced by, or rather passing through, a living animal, or any other organism, none is ever, so far as we know, annihilated. The motion which has apparently ceased or been destroyed has in reality passed into heat, light, electricity, magnetism, or other effect,—itself, perhaps, nothing but motion, to keep on, in one form or another, indefinitely. The fuel which we put into the stomach of the horse, of iron or of flesh, first by its oxydation raises heat, a part of which it is the function of the individual to convert into motion, to be expended on friction and resistance, or, in other words, to be reconverted into heat. What becomes of this heat, then? If the fuel were to be replaced or deoxydated, the heat that originally came from the oxydation would be precisely reabsorbed. But this heat of itself cannot overcome the stronger affinity which now chains the fuel to the oxygen. It must go forward, not backward, about its business, forever and ever. It may pass, but not cease. The sharp-eyed Faraday has been following far away this Proteus, with a strong suspicion that it changes at last into gravity, in which shape it returns straight to the sun, carrying down with it, probably, those flinty showers of meteors which, striking fire in the atmosphere of the prime luminary, replenish its overflowing fountain of life. But we are not aware that he has yet discovered the anastomosis of this conversion, or quite established the fact. We are therefore not yet quite ready to resolve the universe of physical forces into the similitude of the mythical mill-stream, which, flowing round a little hill, came back and fed its own pond. Nevertheless, we believe the physicists have pretty generally agreed to assume as a law of Nature what they call the conservation of force, the principle we have been endeavoring to explain.