Then the wife of the skipper lost at sea Said, "God has touched him!—why should we?" Said an old wife mourning her only son, "Cut the rogue's tether and let him run!" So with soft relentings and rude excuse, Half scorn, half pity, they cut him loose, And gave him cloak to hide him in, And left him alone with his shame and sin. Poor Floyd Ireson, for his hard heart, Tarred and feathered and carried in a cart By the women of Marblehead!
SOLITUDE AND SOCIETY.
I fell in with a humorist, on my travels, who had in his chamber a cast of the Rondanini Medusa, and who assured me that the name which that fine work of art bore in the catalogues was a misnomer, as he was convinced that the sculptor who carved it intended it for Memory, the mother of the Muses. In the conversation that followed, my new friend made some extraordinary confessions. "Do you not see," he said, "the penalty of learning, and that each of these scholars whom you have met at S., though he were to be the last man, would, like the executioner in Hood's poem, guillotine the last but one?" He added many lively remarks, but his evident earnestness engaged my attention, and, in the weeks that followed, we became better acquainted. He had great abilities, a genial temper, and no vices; but he had one defect,—he could not speak in the tone of the people. There was some paralysis on his will, that, when he met men on common terms, he spoke weakly, and from the point, like a flighty girl. His consciousness of the fault made it worse. He envied every daysman and drover in the tavern their manly speech. He coveted Mirabeau's don terrible de la familiarite, believing that he whose sympathy goes lowest is the man from whom kings have the most to fear. For himself, he declared that he could not get enough alone to write a letter to a friend. He left the city; he hid himself in pastures. The solitary river was not solitary enough; the sun and moon put him out. When he bought a house, the first thing he did was to plant trees. He could not enough conceal himself. Set a hedge here; set oaks there,—trees behind trees; above all, set evergreens, for they will keep a secret all the year round. The most agreeable compliment you could pay him was, to say that you had not observed him in a house or a street where you had met him. Whilst he suffered at being seen where he was, he consoled himself with the delicious thought of the inconceivable number of places where he was not. All he wished of his tailor was, to provide that sober mean of color and cut which would never detain the eye for a moment. He went to Vienna, to Smyrna, to London. In all the variety of costumes, a carnival, a kaleidoscope of clothes, to his horror he could never discover a man in the street who wore anything like his own dress. He would have given his soul for the ring of Gyges. His dismay at his visibility had blunted the fears of mortality. "Do you think," he said, "I am in such great terror of being shot,—I, who am only waiting to shuffle off my corporeal jacket, to slip away into the back stars, and put diameters of the solar system and sidereal orbits between me and all souls,—there to wear out ages in solitude, and forget memory itself, if it be possible?" He had a remorse running to despair of his social gaucheries, and walked miles and miles to get the twitchings out of his face, the starts and shrugs out of his arms and shoulders. "God may forgive sins," he said, "but awkwardness has no forgiveness in heaven or earth." He admired in Newton, not so much his theory of the moon, as his letter to Collins, in which he forbade him to insert his name with the solution of the problem in the "Philosophical Transactions": "It would perhaps increase my acquaintance, the thing which I chiefly study to decline."
These conversations led me somewhat later to the knowledge of similar cases, existing elsewhere, and to the discovery that they are not of very infrequent occurrence. Few substances are found pure in nature. Those constitutions which can bear in open day the rough dealing of the world must be of that mean and average structure,—such as iron and salt, atmospheric air, and water. But there are metals, like potassium and sodium, which, to be kept pure, must be kept under naphtha. Such are the talents determined on some specialty, which a culminating civilization fosters in the heart of great cities and in royal chambers. Nature protects her own work. To the culture of the world, an Archimedes, a Newton is indispensable; so she guards them by a certain aridity. If these had been good fellows, fond of dancing, Port, and clubs, we should have had no "Theory of the Sphere," and no "Principia." They had that necessity of isolation which genius feels. Each must stand on his glass tripod, if he would keep his electricity. Even Swedenborg, whose theory of the universe is based on affection, and who reprobates to weariness the danger and vice of pure intellect, is constrained to make an extraordinary exception: "There are also angels who do not live consociated, but separate, house and house; these dwell in the midst of heaven, because they are the best of angels."
We have known many fine geniuses have that imperfection that they cannot do anything useful, not so much as write one clean sentence. 'Tis worse, and tragic, that no man is fit for society who has fine traits. At a distance, he is admired; but bring him hand to hand, he is a cripple. One protects himself by solitude, and one by courtesy, and one by an acid, worldly manner,—each concealing how he can the thinness of his skin and his incapacity for strict association. But there is no remedy that can reach the heart of the disease, but either habits of self-reliance that should go in practice to making the man independent of the human race, or else a religion of love. Now he hardly seems entitled to marry; for how can he protect a woman, who cannot protect himself?
We pray to be conventional. But the wary Heaven takes care you shall not be, if there is anything good in you. Dante was very bad company, and was never invited to dinner. Michel Angelo had a sad, sour time of it. The ministers of beauty are rarely beautiful in coaches and saloons. Columbus discovered no isle or key so lonely as himself. Yet each of these potentates saw well the reason of his exclusion. Solitary was he? Why, yes; but his society was limited only by the amount of brain Nature appropriated in that age to carry on the government of the world. "If I stay," said Dante, when there was question of going to Rome, "who will go? and if I go, who will stay?"
But the necessity of solitude is deeper than we have said, and is organic. I have seen many a philosopher whose world is large enough for only one person. He affects to be a good companion; but we are still surprising his secret, that he means and needs to impose his system on all the rest. The determination of each is from all the others, like that of each tree up into free space. 'Tis no wonder, when each has his whole head, our societies should be so small. Like President Tyler, our party falls from us every day, and we must ride in a sulky at last. Dear heart! take it sadly home to thee, there is no cooeperation. We begin with friendships, and all our youth is a reconnoitring and recruiting of the holy fraternity that shall combine for the salvation of men. But so the remoter stars seem a nebula of united light, yet there is no group which a telescope will not resolve, and the dearest friends are separated by impassable gulfs. The cooeperation is involuntary, and is put upon us by the Genius of Life, who reserves this as a part of his prerogative. 'Tis fine for us to talk: we sit and muse, and are serene, and complete; but the moment we meet with anybody, each becomes a fraction.
Though the stuff of tragedy and of romances is in a moral union of two superior persons, whose confidence in each other for long years, out of sight, and in sight, and against all appearances, is at last justified by victorious proof of probity to gods and men, causing joyful emotions, tears, and glory,—though there be for heroes this moral union, yet they, too, are as far off as ever from an intellectual union, and the moral union is for comparatively low and external purposes, like the cooeperation of a ship's company, or of a fire-club. But how insular and pathetically solitary are all the people we know! Nor dare they tell what they think of each other, when they meet in the street. We have a fine right, to be sure, to taunt men of the world with superficial and treacherous courtesies!
Such is the tragic necessity which strict science finds underneath our domestic and neighborly life, irresistibly driving each adult soul as with whips into the desert, and making our warm covenants sentimental and momentary. We must infer that the ends of thought were peremptory, if they were to be secured at such ruinous cost. They are deeper than can be told, and belong to the immensities and eternities. They reach down to that depth where society itself originates and disappears,—where the question is, Which is first, man or men?—where the individual is lost in his source.
But this banishment to the rocks and echoes no metaphysics can make right or tolerable. This result is so against nature, such a half-view, that it must be corrected by a common sense and experience. "A man is born by the side of his father, and there he remains." A man must be clothed with society, or we shall feel a certain bareness and poverty, as of a displaced and unfurnished member. He is to be dressed in arts and institutions, as well as body-garments. Now and then a man exquisitely made can live alone, and must but coop up most men, and you undo them. "The king lived and ate in his hall with men, and understood men," said Selden. When a young barrister said to the late Mr. Mason, "I keep my chamber to read law." "Read law!" replied the veteran, "'tis in the courtroom you must read law." Nor is the rule otherwise for literature. If you would learn to write, 'tis in the street you must learn it. Both for the vehicle and for the aims of fine arts, you must frequent the public square. The people, and not the college, is the writer's home. A scholar is a candle, which the love and desire of all men will light. Never his lands or his rents, but the power to charm the disguised soul that sits veiled under this bearded and that rosy visage is his rent and ration. His products are as needful as those of the baker or the weaver. Society cannot do without cultivated men. As soon as the first wants are satisfied, the higher wants become imperative.
'Tis hard to mesmerize ourselves, to whip our own top; but through sympathy we are capable of energy and endurance. Concert exasperates people to a certain fury of performance they can rarely reach alone. Here is the use of society: it is so easy with the great to be great! so easy to come up to an existing standard!—as easy as it is to the lover to swim to his maiden, through waves so grim before. The benefits of affection are immense; and the one event which never loses its romance is the alighting of superior persons at our gate.
It by no means follows that we are not fit for society, because soirees are tedious, and because the soiree finds us tedious. A backwoodsman, who had been sent to the university, told me, that when he heard the best-bred young men at the law-school talk together, he reckoned himself a boor; but whenever he caught them apart, and had one to himself alone, then they were the boors, and he the better man. And if we recall the rare hours when we encountered the best persons, we then found ourselves, and then first society seemed to exist. That was society, though in the transom of a brig, or on the Florida Keys.
A cold, sluggish blood thinks it has not facts enough to the purpose, and must decline its turn in the conversation. But they who speak have no more,—have less. 'Tis not new facts that avail, but the heat to dissolve everybody's facts. Heat puts you in right relation with magazines of facts. The capital defect of cold, arid natures is the want of animal spirits. They seem a power incredible, as if God should raise the dead. The recluse witnesses what others perform by their aid with a kind of fear. It is as much out of his possibility, as the prowess of Coeur-de-Lion, or an Irishman's day's work on the railroad. 'Tis said, the present and the future are always rivals. Animal spirits constitute the power of the present, and their feats are like the structure of a pyramid. Their result is a lord, a general, or a boon-companion. Before these, what a base mendicant is Memory with his leathern badge! But this genial heat is latent in all constitutions, and is disengaged only by the friction of society. As Bacon said of manners, "To obtain them, it only needs not to despise them," so we say of animal spirits, that they are the spontaneous product of health and of a social habit. "For behavior, men learn it, as they take diseases, one of another."
But the people are to be taken in very small doses. If solitude is proud, so is society vulgar. In society, high advantages are set down to the individual as disadvantages. We sink as easily as we rise, through sympathy. So many men whom I know are degraded by their sympathies, their native aims being high enough, but their relation all too tender to the gross people about them. Men cannot afford to live together on their merits, and they adjust themselves by their demerits,—by their love of gossip, or sheer tolerance and animal good-nature. They untune and dissipate the brave aspirant.
The remedy is, to reinforce each of these moods from the other. Conversation will not corrupt us, if we come to the assembly in our own garb and speech, and with the energy of health to select what is ours and reject what is not. Society we must have; but let it be society, and not exchanging news, or eating from the same dish. Is it society to sit in one of your chairs? I cannot go to the houses of my nearest relatives, because I do not wish to be alone. Society exists by chemical affinity, and not otherwise.
Put any company of people together with freedom for conversation, and a rapid self-distribution takes place into sets and pairs. The best are accused of exclusiveness. It would be more true to say, they separate as oil from water, as children from old people, without love or hatred in the matter, each seeking his like; and any interference with the affinities would produce constraint and suffocation. All conversation is a magnetic experiment. I know that my friend can talk eloquently; you know that he cannot articulate a sentence: we have seen him in different company. Assort your party, or invite none. Put Stubbs and Byron, Quintilian and Aunt Miriam, into pairs, and you make them all wretched. 'Tis an extempore Sing-Sing built in a parlor. Leave them to seek their own mates, and they will be as merry as sparrows.
A higher civility will reestablish in our customs a certain reverence which we have lost. What to do with these brisk young men who break through all fences, and make themselves at home in every house? I find out in an instant if my companion does not want me, and ropes cannot hold me when my welcome is gone. One would think that the affinities would pronounce themselves with a surer reciprocity.
Here again, as so often, Nature delights to put us between extreme antagonisms, and our safety is in the skill with which we keep the diagonal line. Solitude is impracticable, and society fatal. We must keep our head in the one, and our hands in the other. The conditions are met, if we keep our independence, yet do not lose our sympathy. These wonderful horses need to be driven by fine hands. We require such a solitude as shall hold us to its revelations when we are in the street and in palaces; for most men are cowed in society, and say good things to you in private, but will not stand to them in public. But let us not be the victims of words. Society and solitude are deceptive names. It is not the circumstance of seeing more or fewer people, but the readiness of sympathy, that imports; and a sound mind will derive its principles from insight, with ever a purer ascent to the sufficient and absolute right, and will accept society as the natural element in which they are to be applied.
AKIN BY MARRIAGE.
When little Helen was not far from nine years old, her mother, (as she had learned to call Mrs. Bugbee,) whose health for a long time had been failing, fell sick and took to her bed. Sometimes, for a brief space, she would seem to mend a little; and a council of doctors, convened to consider her case,—though each member differed from all the others touching the nature of her malady,—unanimously declared she would ultimately recover. But her disease, whatever it was, proved to be her mortal illness; for the very next night she came suddenly to her end. Her loss was a heavy one, especially to her own household. She had always been a quiet person, of rather pensive humor, whose native diffidence caused her to shrink from observation; and after Amelia's death she was rarely seen abroad, except at meeting, on Sundays, or when she went to visit the poor, the sick, or the grief-stricken. It was at home that her worth was most apparent; for plain domestic virtues, such as hers, seldom gain wide distinction. Her children's sorrow was deep and lasting, and the badge of mourning which her husband wore for many months after her death was a truthful symbol of unaffected grief. From the beginning, he was warmly attached to his wife, whose affection for him was very great indeed. It would have been strange if he had been unhappy, when she, who made his tastes her study, also made it the business of her life to please him. Besides, his cheerful temper enabled him to make light of more grievous misfortunes than the getting of a loving wife and thrifty helpmeet ten years older than himself.
When a widower, like the Doctor, is but fifty, with the look of a much younger man, people are apt to talk about the chances of his marrying again. Before Mrs. Bugbee had been dead a twelve-month, rumors were as plenty as blackberries that the Doctor had been seen, late on Sunday evenings, leaving this house, or that house, the dwelling-place of some marriageable lady; and if he had finally espoused all whom the gossips reported he was going to marry, he would have had as many wives as any Turkish pasha or Mormon elder. It was doubtless true that he called at certain places more frequently than had been his custom in Mrs. Bugbee's lifetime. This, he assured Cornelia, to whom the reports I have mentioned occasioned some uneasiness, was because he was more often summoned to attend, in a professional way, at those places, than he had ever been of old; which was true enough, I dare say, for more spinsters and widows were taken ailing about this time than had ever been ill at once before. Be that as it may, certain arrangements which the Doctor presently made in his domestic affairs did not seem to foretoken an immediate change of condition.
Miss Statira Blake, whom the Doctor engaged as housekeeper, was the youngest daughter of an honest shoemaker, who formerly flourished at Belfield Green, where he was noted for industry, a fondness for reading, a tenacious memory, a ready wit, and a fluent tongue. In politics he was a radical, and in religion a schismatic. The little knot of Presbyterian Federalist magnates, who used to assemble at the tavern to discuss affairs of church and state over mugs of flip and tumblers of sling, regarded him with feelings of terror and aversion. The doughty little cobbler made nothing of attacking them single-handed, and putting them utterly to rout; for he was a dabster at debate, and entertained as strong a liking for polemics as for books. Nay, he was a thorn in the side of the parson himself, for whom he used to lie in wait with knotty questions,—snares set to entrap the worthy divine, in the hope of beguiling him into a controversy respecting some abstruse point of doctrine, in which the cobbler, who had every verse of the Bible at his tongue's end, was not apt to come off second best.
But one day, Tommy Blake, being at a raising where plenty of liquor was furnished, (as the fashion used to be,) slipped and fell from a high beam, and was carried home groaning with a skinful of broken bones. He died the next day, poor man, and his bedridden widow survived the shock of witnessing his dreadful agonies and death but a very little while. Her daughters, two young girls, were left destitute and friendless. But Major Bugbee, to whom the cobbler's wife had been remotely akin, and who was at that time first selectman of the town, took the orphans with him to his house, where they tarried till he found good places for them. Roxana, the elder girl, went to live with a reputable farmer's wife, whose only son she afterwards married. Statira remained under the shelter of the good Major's hospitable roof much longer than her sister did, and would have been welcome to stay, but she was not one of those who like to eat the bread of dependence. With the approval of the selectmen, she bound herself an indentured apprentice to Billy Tuthill, the little lame tailor, for whom she worked faithfully four years, until she had served out her time and was mistress of her trade, even to the recondite mystery of cutting a double-breasted swallow-tail coat by rule and measure. Then, at eighteen, she set up business for herself, going from house to house as her customers required, working by the day. Her services were speedily in great demand, and she was never out of employment. Many a worthy citizen of Belfield well remembers his first jacket-and-trowsers, the handiwork of Tira Blake. The Sunday breeches of half the farmers who came to meeting used to be the product of her skilful labor. Thus for many years (refusing meanwhile several good offers of marriage) she continued to ply her needle and shears, working steadily and cheerfully in her vocation, earning good wages and spending but little, until the thrifty sempstress was counted well to do, and held in esteem according. Sometimes, when she got weary, and thought a change of labor would do her good, she would engage with some lucky dame to help do housework for a month or two. She was a famous hand at pickling, preserving, and making all manner of toothsome knick-knacks and dainties. Nor was she deficient in the pleasure walks of the culinary art. Betsey Pratt, the tavernkeeper's wife, a special crony of Statira's, used always to send for her whenever she was in straits, or when, on some grand occasion, a dinner or supper was to be prepared and served up in more than ordinary style. So learned was she in all the devices of the pantry and kitchen, that many a young woman in the parish would have given half her setting-out, and her whole store of printed cookery-books, to know by heart Tira Blake's unwritten lore of rules and recipes. So, wherever she went, she was welcome, albeit not a few stood in fear of her; for though, when well treated, she was as good-humored as a kitten, when provoked, especially by a slight or affront, her wrath was dangerous. Her tongue was sharper than her needle, and her pickles were not more piquant than her sarcastic wit. Tira, the older people used to remark, was Tommy Blake's own daughter; and truly, she did inherit many of her father's qualities, both good and bad, and not a few of his crotchets and opinions. In fine, she was a shrewd, sensible, Yankee old maid, who, as she herself was wont to say, was as well able to take care of 'number one' as e'er a man in town.
Statira never forgot Major Bugbee's kindness to her in her lonely orphanhood. She preserved for him and for every member of his family a grateful affection; but her special favorite was James, the Doctor's brother, who was a little younger than she, and who repaid this partiality with hearty good-will and esteem. When he grew up and married, his house became one of Statira's homes; the other being at her sister's house, which was too remote from Belfield Green to be at all times convenient. So she had rooms, which she called alike her own, at both these places, in each of which she kept a part of her wardrobe and a portion of her other goods and chattels. The children of both families called her Aunt Statira, but, if the truth were known, she loved little Frank Bugbee, James's only son, better than she did the whole brood of her sister Roxy's flaxen-pated offspring. Nay, she loved him better than all the world besides. Statira used to call James her right-hand man, asking for his advice in every matter of importance, and usually acting in accordance with it. So, when Doctor Bugbee invited her to take charge of his household affairs, Cornelia joining in the request with earnest importunity, she did not at once return a favorable reply, though strongly inclined thereto, but waited until she had consulted James and his wife, who advised her to accept the proffered trust, giving many sound and excellent reasons why she ought to do so.
Accordingly, a few months after Mrs. Bugbee's death, Statira began to sway the sceptre where she had once found refuge from the poor-house; for though Cornelia remained the titular mistress of the mansion, Statira was the actual ruler, invested with all the real power. Cornelia gladly resigned into her more experienced hands the reins of government, and betook herself to occupations more congenial to her tastes than housekeeping. Whenever, afterwards, she made a languid offer to perform some light domestic duty, Statira was accustomed to reply in such wise that the most perfect concord was maintained between them. "No, my dear," the latter would say, "do you just leave these things to me. If there a'n't help enough in the house to do the work, your pa'll get 'em; and as for overseein', one's better than two." But sometimes, when little Helen proffered her assistance, Tira let the child try her hand, taking great pains to instruct her in housewifery, warmly praising her successful essays, and finding excuses for every failure. It was not long before a cordial friendship subsisted between the teacher and her pupil.
The Doctor, of course, experienced great contentment at beholding his children made happy, his house well kept and ordered, his table spread with plentiful supplies of savory victuals, and all his domestic concerns managed with sagacity and prudence, by one upon whose goodwill and ability to promote his welfare he could rely with implicit confidence. Even the servants shared in the general satisfaction; for though, under Tira's vigorous rule, no task or duty could be safely shunned or slighted, she proved a kind and even an indulgent mistress to those who showed themselves worthy of her favor. Old Violet, the mother of Dinah, the little black girl elsewhere mentioned, yielded at once to Tira Blake the same respectful obedience that she and her ancestors, for more than a century in due succession, had been wont to render only to dames of the ancient Bugbee line. Dinah herself, now a well-grown damsel, black, but comely, who, during Cornelia's maladministration, had been suffered to follow too much the devices and desires of her own heart, setting at naught alike the entreaties and reproofs of her mistress and her mother's angry scoldings,—even Dinah submitted without a murmur to Tira's wholesome authority, and abandoned all her evil courses. Bildad Royce, a crotchety hired-man, whom the Doctor kept to do the chores and till the garden, albeit at first inclined to be captious, accorded to the new housekeeper the meed of his approbation.
"I like her well enough to hope she'll stay, mum," quoth he, in reply to an inquisitive neighbor. "And for my part, Miss Prouty," he added, nodding and winking at his questioner, "I'd like to see it fixed so she'd alwus stay; and if the Doctor doos think he can't do no better'n to have her bimeby, when the time comes, who's a right to say a word agin it?"
"Goodness me!" exclaimed the unwary Mrs. Prouty,—"do you mean to say you think he's got any idea of such a thing, Bildad?"
"Yes, I don't mean to say I think he's got any idee of sich a thing, Bildad," replied Bildad himself, who took great delight in mystifying people, and who sometimes, in order to express the most unqualified negation, was accustomed to employ this apparently ambiguous form of speech. "I said for my part, Miss Prouty,—for my part. As for the Doctor, he'll prob'bly have his own notions, and foller 'em."
Besides these already mentioned, there was another person, who sat so often at the Doctor's board and spent so many hours beneath his roof, that, for the nonce, I shall reckon her among his family. Indeed, Laura Stebbins was almost as much at home in the Bugbee mansion as at the parsonage, and she used to regard the Doctor and his wife with an affection quite filial in kind and very ardent in degree. For this she had abundant reason, the good couple always treating her with the utmost kindness, frequently making her presents of clothes and things which she needed, besides gifts of less use and value. These tokens of her friends' good-will she used to receive with many sprightly demonstrations of thankfulness; sometimes, in her transports of gratitude, distributing between the Doctor and his wife a number of delicious kisses, and telling the latter that her husband was the best and most generous of men. After Mrs. Bugbee's death, the Doctor's manner, as was to be expected, became more grave and sober, and he very wisely thought proper to treat Laura with a kindness less familiar than before, which perceiving with the quickness of her sex, she also practised a like reserve. But notwithstanding this prudent change in his demeanor, his good-will for Laura was in no wise abated. At all events, the friendship between Cornelia and Laura suffered no decay or diminution. Indeed, it increased in fervency and strength. For Laura, having finished her course of study at the Belfield Academy, had now more time to devote to Cornelia than when she had had lessons to get and recitations to attend. The parsonage stood next to the Bugbee mansion, and in the paling between the two gardens there was a wicket, through which Cornelia, Laura, and Helen used to run to and fro a dozen times a day. The females of the Doctor's family made nothing of scudding, bareheaded, across to the parsonage by this convenient back-way, and bolting into the kitchen without so much as knocking at the door; and Laura's habits at the Bugbee mansion were still more familiar. Mrs. Jaynes, though not the most affable of womankind, gave this close intimacy much favor and encouragement; for she bore in mind that Cornelia's father was the richest and most influential member of her husband's church and parish.
At first, Laura was a little shy of the plain-spoken old maid, for whose person, manners, and opinions she had often heard Mrs. Jaynes express, in private, a most bitter dislike. But Statira had been regnant in the Bugbee mansion less than a week, when Laura began to make timid advances towards a mutual good understanding, of which for a while Statira affected to take no heed; for having formed a resolution to maintain a strict reserve towards every inmate of the parsonage, she was not disposed to break it so soon, even in favor of Laura, whose winsome overtures she found it difficult to resist.
"If it wa'n't for her bein' Miss Jaynes's sister," said she, one day, to Cornelia, who had been praising her friend,—"if it wa'n't for that one thing, I should like her remarkable well,—a good deal more'n common."
"Pray, what have you got such a spite against the Jayneses for?" asked Cornelia.
"What do you mean by askin' such a question as that, Cornele?" said Tira, in a tone of stern reproof. "Who's got a spite against 'em? Not I, by a good deal! As for the parson himself, he's a well-meanin' man, and does as near right as he knows how. If you could say as much as that for everybody, there wouldn't be any need of parsons any more."
"But you don't like Mrs. Jaynes," persisted Cornelia.
"I ha'n't got a spite against her, Cornele,—though, I confess, I don't love the woman," replied Statira. "But I always treat her well; though, to be sure, I don't curchy so low and keep smilin' so much as most folks do, when they meet a minister's wife and have talk with her. Even when she comes here a-borrowin' things she knows will be giv' to her when she asks for 'em, which makes it so near to beggin' that she ought to be ashamed on't, which I only give to her because it's your father's wish for me to do so, and the things are his'n; but I always treat her well, Cornele."
"But why don't you like her, Tira?" asked Helen.
"My dear, I'll tell you," said Statira; "for I don't want you to think I'm set against any person unreasonable and without cause. You see Miss Jaynes is a nateral-born beggar. I don't say it with any ill-will, but it's a fact. She takes to beggin' as naterally as a goslin' takes to a puddle; and when she first come to town she commenced a-beggin', and has kep' it up ever since. She used to tackle me the same as she does everybody else, askin' me to give somethin' to this, and to that, and to t'other pet humbug of her'n, but I never would do it; and when she found she could'nt worry me into it, like the rest of 'em, it set her very bitter against me; and I heard of her tellin' I'd treated her with rudeness, which I'd always treated her civilly, only when I said 'No,' she found coaxin' and palaverin' wouldn't stir me. So it went on for a year or two, till, one fall, I was stayin' here to your ma's,—Cornele, I guess you remember the time,—helpin' of her make up her quinces and apples. We was jest in the midst of bilin' cider, with one biler on the stove and the biggest brass kittle full in the fireplace, when in comes boltin' Miss Jaynes, dressed up as fine as a fiddle. She set right down in the kitchen, and your ma rolled her sleeves down and took off her apurn, lookin' kind o' het and worried. After a few words, Miss Jaynes took a paper out of her pocket, and says she to your ma, 'Miss Bugbee,' says she, 'I'm a just startin' forth on the Lord's business, and I come to you as the helpmate and pardner of one of his richest stewards in this vineyard.'—'What is it now?' says your ma, lookin' out of one eye at the brass kittle, and speakin' more impatient than I ever heard her speak to a minister's wife before. Well, I can't spend time to tell all that Miss Jaynes said in answer, but it seemed some of the big folks in New York had started a new society, and its object was to provide, as near as ever I could find out, such kind of necessary notions for indigent young men studyin' to be ministers as they couldn't well afford to buy for themselves,—such as steel-bowed specs for the near-sighted ones, and white cravats, black silk gloves, and linen-cambric handkerchiefs for 'em all,—in order, as Miss Jaynes said, these young fellers might keep up a respectable appearance, and not give a chance for the world's people to get a contemptible idee of the ministry, on account of the shabby looks of the young men that had laid out to foller that holy callin'. She said it was a cause that ought to lay near the heart of every evangelical Christian man, and especially the women. 'We mothers in Israel,' says Miss Jaynes, 'ought to feel for these young Davids that have gone forth to give battle to the Goliaths of sin that are a-stalkin' and struttin' round all over the land.' She said the society was goin' to be a great institution, with an office to New York, with an executive committee and three secretaries in attendance there, and was a-goin' to employ a great number of clergymen, out of a parish, to travel as agents collecting funds; 'but,' says she, 'I've a better tack for collectin' than most people, and I've concluded to canvass this town myself for donations to this noble and worthy cause; and I've come to you, Miss Bugbee,' says she, 'to lead off with your accustomed liberality.'—Well, what does your ma do, but go into her room, to her draw, I suppose, and fetch out a five-dollar bill, and give it to Miss Jaynes, which I'd 'a' had to work a week, stitchin' from mornin' to night, to have earnt that five-dollar bill; though, of course, your ma had a right to burn it up, if she'd 'a' been a mind to; only it made me ache to see it go so, when there was thousands of poor starvin' ragged orphans needin' it so bad. All to once Miss Jaynes wheeled and spoke to me: 'Well, Miss Tira,' says she, 'can I have a dollar from you?'—'No, ma'am,' says I.—'I supposed not,' says she; which would have been sassy in anybody but the parson's wife. But I held my tongue, and out she went, takin' no more notice of me than she did of Vi'let, nor half so much,—for I see her kind o' look towards the old woman, as if she was half a mind to ask her for a fourpence-ha'penny. Well, that was the last on't for a spell, until after New Year's. I was stayin' then at your Uncle James's, and one afternoon your ma sent for your Aunt Eunice and me to come over and take tea. So we went over, and there was several of the neighbors invited in,—Squire Bramhall's wife, and them your ma used to go with most, and amongst the rest, of course, Miss Jaynes. There had just before that been a donation party, New Year's night, to the parson's, and the Dorcas Society had bought Miss Jaynes a nice new Brussels carpet for her parlor, all cut and fitted and made up. In the course of the afternoon Miss Bramhall spoke and asked if the new carpet was put down, and if it fitted well. 'Oh, beautiful!' says she, 'it fits the room like a glove; somebody must have had pretty good eyes to took the measure so correct, and I not know anything what was a-comin'; and I hope,' says she, 'ladies, you'll take an early opportunity to drop in and see it; for there a'n't one of you but what I'm under obligation to for this touchin' token of your love,' (that's what she called it,)—'except,' says she, of a sudden, 'except Miss Blake, whom, really, I hadn't noticed before!'—I tell ye, Cornele, my ebenezer was up at this; for you can't tell how mean and spiteful she spoke and looked, pretendin' as if I was so insignificant a critter she hadn't taken notice of my bein' there before, which, to be sure, she hadn't even bid me good afternoon; and for my part, I hadn't put myself forward among such women as was there, though I didn't feel beneath 'em, nor they didn't think so, except Miss Jaynes.—Then she went on. 'Miss Blake,' says she, 'I believe didn't mean no slight for not helpin' towards the carpet; for she never gives to anything, as I know of,' says she. 'I've often asked her for various objects, and have been as often refused. The last time,' says she, 'I did expect to get somethin'; for I asked only for a dollar to that noble society for providin' young men, a-strugglin' to prepare themselves for usefulness in the ministry, with some of the common necessaries of life, but she refused me. I expect,' says she, a-sneerin' in such a way that I couldn't stand it any longer, 'I expect Miss Blake is a-savin' all her money to buy her settin'-out and furniture with; for I suppose,' says she, lookin' more spiteful than ever, 'I suppose Miss Blake thinks that as long as there's life there's hope for a husband.'—I happen to know what all the ladies thought of this speech, for every one of 'em afterwards told me; but, if you'll believe me, one or two of the youngest of 'em kind of pretended to smile at the joke on't, when Miss Jaynes looked round as if she expected 'em to laugh; for she thought, I suppose, I was really and truly no account, bein' a cobbler's daughter and a tailoress,—and that when the minister's wife insulted me, I dars'n't reply, and all hands would stand by and applaud. But she found out her mistake, and she begun to think so, when she see how grave your ma and all the rest of the older ladies looked, for they knew what was comin'. I'd bit my lips up till now, and held in out of respect to the place and the company, but I thought it was due to myself to speak at last. Says I, 'Miss Jaynes, I've always treated you with civility and the respect due to your place; though I own I ha'n't felt free to give my hard-earned wages away to objects I didn't know much about, when, with my limited means, I could find places to bestow what little I could spare without huntin' 'em up. I don't mean to boast,' says I, 'of my benevolence, and I don't have gilt-framed diplomas hung up in my room to certify to it, to be seen and read of all men, as the manner of some is,—but,' says I, 'I will say that I've given this year twenty-five dollars to the Orphan Asylum, to Hartford, and I've a five-dollar gold-piece in my puss,' says I, 'that I can spare, and will give that more to the same charity, for the privilege of tellin' before these ladies, that heard me accused of being stingy, why I don't give to you when you ask me to, and especially why I didn't give the last time you asked me. I would like to tell why I didn't help sew in the Dorcas Society, to buy the new carpet,' says I, 'but I don't want to hurt anybody's feelin's that ha'n't hurt mine, and I'll forbear.'—By this time Miss Jaynes was pale as a sheet. 'I'm sure,' says she, 'I don't care why you don't choose to give, and I don't suppose any one else does. It's your own affair,' says she, 'and you a'n't compelled to give unless you're a mind to.'—'You should have thought of that before you twitted me,' says I, 'before all this company.'—'Oh, Tira, never mind,' says Miss Bramhall, 'let it all go!' But up spoke your Aunt Eunice, and says she, 'It's no more than fair to hear Tira's reasons, after what's been said.'"
"Good!" said little Helen; "hurrah for Aunt Eunice!"
"And your ma," resumed Statira, "I knew by her looks she was on my side, though, it bein' her own house, she felt less free to say as much as your Aunt Eunice did.—'In the first place,' says I, 'if I did want to keep my money to buy furniture with, in case I should get a husband, I expect I've a right to, for 'ta'n't likely,' says I, 'I shall be lucky enough to have my carpets giv' to me. But that wa'n't the reason I didn't put my name down for a dollar on that subscription. One reason was, I knew the upshot on't would be that somebody would be put up to suggestin' that the money should go for a life-membership in the society for Miss Jaynes,' says I; 'and I don't like to encourage anybody in goin' round beggin' for money to buy her own promotion to a high seat in the synagogue.'—You ought to seen Miss Jaynes's face then! It was redder'n any beet, for I'd hit the nail square on the head, as it happened, and the ladies could scurcely keep from smilin'.—'Then,' says I, 'I shouldn't be my father's daughter, if I'd give a cent for a preacher that isn't smart enough to get his own livin' and pay for his own clothes and eddication. To ask poor women to pay for an able-bodied man's expenses,' says I, 'seems to me like turnin' the thing wrong end foremost. A young feller that a'n't smart enough to find himself in victuals and clothes won't be of much help in the Lord's vineyard,' says I."
"And what did Mrs. Jaynes say?" asked little Helen, when Tira finally came to a pause.
"Well, really, my dear," replied Miss Blake, "the woman had nothin' to say, and so she said it. When I got through my speech I handed the five-dollar gold-piece to your Aunt Eunice, to send to the Asylum, and that ended it; for just then Dinah come in and said tea was ready, and we all went out. It was rather stiff for a while, and after tea we all went home; and for three long years Miss Jaynes never opened her face to me, until I came here to live, this time. Now she finds it's for her interest to make up, and so she tries to be as good as pie. But though I mean to be civil, I'm no hypocrite, and I can't be all honey and cream to them I don't like; and besides, it a'n't right to be."
"But you ought not to blame Laura because her sister affronted you," said Helen.
"I know that, my dear," replied Miss Blake; "and if I've hurt the girl's feelin's, I'm sorry for't. She's tried hard to be friends with me, but I've pushed her off; for, not bein' much acquainted, I was jealous, at first, that Miss Jaynes had put her up to it, to try to get round me in some way."
"Never!" cried Cornelia,—"my Laura is incapable of such baseness!"
"Well," said Statira, smiling, "come to know her, I guess you can't find much guile in her, that's a fact. If I did her wrong by mistrustin' her without cause, I'll try to make amends. It a'n't in me to speak ha'sh even to a dog, if the critter looks up into my face and wags his tail in honest good-nater. And I'll say this for Laura Stebbins, anyhow, if she is Miss Jaynes's sister,—she's got the most takin' ways of 'most any grown-up person I ever see."
The reflection is painful to a generous mind, that, by harboring unjust suspicions of another, one has been led to repel friendly advances with indifference or disdain. In order to assuage some remorseful pangs, Miss Blake began from this time to treat Laura with distinguished favor. On the other hand, Laura, delighted at this pleasant change in Miss Blake's demeanor, sought frequent opportunities of testifying her joy and gratitude. In this manner an intimacy began, which ripened at length into a firm and enduring friendship. Laura soon commenced the practice of applying to her more experienced friend for advice and direction in almost every matter, great or small, and of confiding to her trust divers secrets and confessions which she would never have ventured to repose even in Cornelia's faithful bosom. This prudent habit Tira encouraged.
"I know, my dear," said she, one day, "I know what it is to be almost alone in the world, and what a comfort it is to have somebody you can rely on to tell your griefs and troubles to, and, as it were, get 'em to help you bear 'em. So, my dear child, whenever you want to get my notions on any point, just come right straight to me, if you feel like it. I may not be able to give you the best advice, for I a'n't so wise as you seem to think I be; however, I ha'n't lived nigh fifty years in the world for naught, I trust, and without havin' learnt some things worth knowin'; and though my counsel mayn't be worth much, still you shall have the best I can give."
"Oh, thank you, thank you!" cried Laura, with such a burst of passionate emotion that Miss Blake's eyes watered at the sight of it. "My dear, dear, dear good friend! you don't know how glad I shall be, if you will let me do as you say, and tell me what to do, and scold me, and admonish and warn me! Oh, it will be such happiness to have somebody to tell all my real secrets and troubles to! I do so need such a friend sometimes!"
"Don't I know it, you poor dear?" said Miss Blake, wiping her eyes. "Ha'n't I been through the same straits myself? None but them that's been a young gal themselves, an orphan without a mother to confide in and to warn and guide 'em, knows what it is. But I do, my dear; and though I shall be a pretty poor substitute for an own mother, I'll do the best I can."
"Tira," said Laura, with a tearful and blushing cheek held up to the good spinster's, "kiss me, won't you?—you never have."
"My dear," said Miss Blake, preparing to comply with this request by wiping her lips with her apron, "you see I a'n't one of the kissin' sort, and I scurcely ever kiss a grown-up person; but here's my hand, and here's a kiss,"—with an old-fashioned smack that might have been heard in the next room,—"for a token that you may always come to me as freely as if I was your mother, relyin' upon my givin' you my honest advice and opinion concernin' any affair that you may ask for counsel upon. And furthermore, as girls naterally have a wish that the very things they need some one to direct 'em the most in sha'n't be known except by them they tell the secret to, I promise you, my dear, that I'll be as close as a freemason concernin' any privacy that you may trust me with, about any offer or courtin' matter of any kind."
"Oh, I shall never have any such secrets," said Laura, blushing; "my sister never lets the beaux come to see me, you know. I'm going to be an old maid."
"Well, perhaps you will be," said Miss Blake; "only they gen'ally don't make old maids of such lookin' girls as you be."
But though Miss Blake took Laura into favor, she was by no means inclined to do the same by Mrs. Jaynes, who, having found to her cost that the ill-will of the humble sempstress was not to be lightly contemned, was now plainly anxious to conciliate her. But Statira was proof against all the wheedling and flattery of the parson's wife, behaving towards her always with the same cool civility, and with great self-control,—using none of the frequent opportunities afforded her to make some taunt, or fling, or reproachful allusion to Mrs. Jaynes's former conduct. Once, to be sure, when urged by the parson's wife and a committee of the Dorcas Society to invite that respectable body to convene at the Bugbee mansion for labor and refreshment, Statira returned a reply so plainly spoken that it was deemed rude and ungracious.
"Cornelia is mistress of this house, Miss Jaynes," said she, "and if she belonged to your society, and wanted to have its weekly meetin's here in turn, I'd do my best to give 'em somethin' good to eat and drink. But as she has left the matter to me, I say 'No,' without any misgivin' or doubt; and for fear I may be called stingy or unsociable, I'll tell the reason why I say so,—and besides, it's due to you to tell it. There's poor women, even in this town, put to it to get employment by which they can earn bread for themselves and their children. They can't go out to do housework, for they've got young ones too little to carry with 'em, and maybe a whole family of 'em. Takin' in sewin' is their only resource. Well, ma'am, for ladies, well-to-do and rich, to get together, under pretence of good works and charity, and take away work from these poor women, by offerin' to do it cheaper, underbiddin' of 'em for jobs, which I've known the thing to be done, and then settin' over their ill-gotten tasks, sewin', and gabblin' slander all the afternoon, to get money to buy velvet pulpit-cushions or gilt chandeliers with, or to help pay some missionary's passage to the Tongoo Islands, is, in my opinion, a humbug, and, what's worse, a downright breach of the Golden Rule. At any rate, with my notions, it would be hypocrisy in me to join in, and that's why I don't invite the society here. I don't know but I have spoke too strong; if so, I'm sorry; but I've had to earn my own livin', ever since I was a girl, with my needle, and I know how hard the lot of them is that have to do so too. Besides, I can't help thinkin', what, perhaps, you never thought of, yourselves, ladies, that every person, who, while they can just as well turn their hands to other business, yet, for their own whim, or pleasure, or convenience, or profit, chooses to do work, of which there a'n't enough now in the world to keep in employment them that must get such work to do, or else beg, or sin, or starve,—when I think, I say, that every such person helps some poor cretur into the grave, or the jail, or a place worse than both, I feel that strong talk isn't out of place; and I've known this very Dorcas Society to send to Hartford and get shirts to make, under price, and spend their blood-money afterwards to buy a new carpet for the minister's parlor. That was a fact, Miss Jaynes, though perhaps it wa'n't polite in me to speak on't; and so for fear of worse, I'll say no more."
When this speech of his housekeeper came to the Doctor's ears, he expressed so warm an approval of its sentiments, that several who heard him began to be confirmed in suspicions they had previously entertained, the nature of which may be inferred from a remark which Mrs. Prouty confided to the ear of a trusty friend and crony. "Now do you mind what I say, Miss Baker," said she, shaking her snuffy forefinger in Mrs. Baker's face; "Doctor Bugbee'll marry Tira Blake yet. Now do you just stick a pin there."
But the revolving seasons twice went their annual round, the great weeping-willow-tree in the burying-ground twice put forth its tender foliage in the early spring, and twice in autumn strewed with yellow leaves the mound of Mrs. Bugbee's grave, while the predictions of many, who, like Mrs. Prouty, had foretold the Doctor's second wedding, still remained without fulfilment. Nay, at the end of two years after his wife's death, Doctor Bugbee seemed to be no more disposed to matrimony than in the first days of his bereavement. There were, to be sure, floating on the current of village gossip, certain rumors that he was soon to take a second wife; but as none of these reports agreed touching the name of the lady, each contradicted all the others, and so none were of much account. Besides, there was nothing in the Doctor's appearance or behavior that seemed to warrant any of these idle stories. It is the way with many hopeful widowers (as everybody knows) to become, after an interval of decorous sadness, more brisk and gay than even in their youthful days; bestowing unusual care upon their attire and the adornment of their persons, and endeavoring, by a courteous and gallant demeanor towards every unmarried lady, to signify the great esteem in which they hold the female sex. But these signs, and all others which betoken an ardent desire to win the favor of the fair, were wanting in the Doctor's aspect and deportment. Though, as my reader knows, he was by nature a man of lively temper, he was now grown more sedate than he had ever been before; and instead of attiring himself more sprucely than of old, he neglected his apparel to such a degree, that, although few would have noticed the untidy change, Statira was filled with continual alarms, lest some invidious housewife should perceive it, and lay the blame at her door. Except when called abroad to perform some professional duty, he spent his time at home, although his family observed that he secluded himself in his office, among his books and gallipots, more than had been his wont, and that he sometimes indulged in moods of silent abstraction, which had never been noticed in his manner until of late. But these changes of demeanor seemed to betoken an enduring sorrow for the loss of his wife, rather than to indicate a desire or an intention to choose a successor to her. My readers, therefore, will not be surprised to learn, by a plain averment of the simple truth, that not one of all the score of ladies, whose names had been coupled with his own, would Doctor Bugbee have married, if he could, and that to none of them had he ever given any good reason for believing that she stood especially high in his esteem.
[To be continued in the next Number.]
WHERE WILL IT END?
Wise men of every name and nation, whether poets, philosophers, statesmen, or divines, have been trying to explain the puzzles of human condition, since the world began. For three thousand years, at least, they have been at this problem, and it is far enough from being solved yet. Its anomalies seem to have been expressly contrived by Nature to elude our curiosity and defy our cunning. And no part of it has she arranged so craftily as that web of institutions, habits, manners, and customs, in which we find ourselves enmeshed as soon as we begin to have any perception at all, and which, slight and almost invisible as it may seem, it is so hard to struggle with and so impossible to break through. It may be true, according to the poetical Platonism of Wordsworth, that "heaven lies about us in our infancy"; but we very soon leave it far behind us, and, as we approach manhood, sadly discover that we have grown up into a jurisdiction of a very different kind.
In almost every region of the earth, indeed, it is literally true that "shades of the prison-house begin to close upon the growing boy." As his faculties develope, he becomes more and more conscious of the deepening shadows, as well as of the grim walls that cast them on his soul, and his opening intelligence is earliest exercised in divining who built them first, and why they exist at all. The infant Chinese, the baby Calmuck, the suckling Hottentot, we must suppose, rest unconsciously in the calm of the heaven from which they, too, have emigrated, as well as the sturdy new-born Briton, or the freest and most independent little Yankee that is native and to the manner born of this great country of our own. But all alike grow gradually into a consciousness of walls, which, though invisible, are none the less impassable, and of chains, though light as air, yet stronger than brass or iron. And everywhere is the machinery ready, though different in its frame and operation in different torture-chambers, to crush out the budding skepticism, and to mould the mind into the monotonous decency of general conformity. Foe or Fetish, King or Kaiser, Deity itself or the vicegerents it has appointed in its stead, are answerable for it all. God himself has looked upon it, and it is very good, and there is no appeal from that approval of the Heavenly vision.
In almost every country in the world this deification of institutions has been promoted by their antiquity. As nobody can remember when they were not, and as no authentic records exist of their first establishment, their genealogy can be traced direct to Heaven without danger of positive disproof. Thus royal races and hereditary aristocracies and privileged priesthoods established themselves so firmly in the opinion of Europe, as well as of Asia, and still retain so much of their prestige there, notwithstanding the turnings and overturnings of the last two centuries. This northern half of the great American continent, however, seems to have been kept back by Nature as a tabula rasa, a clean blackboard, on which the great problem of civil government might be worked out, without any of the incongruous drawbacks which have cast perplexity and despair upon those who have undertaken its solution in the elder world. All the elements of the demonstration were of the most favorable nature. Settled by races who had inherited or achieved whatever of constitutional liberty existed in the world, with no hereditary monarch, or governing oligarchy, or established religion on the soil, with every opportunity to avoid all the vices and to better all the virtues of the old polities, the era before which all history had been appointed to prepare the way seemed to have arrived, when the just relations of personal liberty and civil government were to be established forever.
And how magnificent the field on which the trophy of this final victory of a true civilization was to be erected! No empire or kingdom, at least since imperial Rome perished from the earth, ever unrolled a surface so vast and so variegated, so manifold in its fertilities and so various in its aspects of beauty and sublimity. From the Northern wastes, where the hunter and the trapper pursue by force or guile the fur-bearing animals, to the ever-perfumed latitudes of the lemon and the myrtle,—from the stormy Atlantic, where the skiff of the fisherman rocks fearlessly under the menace of beetling crags amid the foam of angry breakers, to where the solemn surge of the Pacific pours itself around our Western continent, boon Nature has spread out fields which ask only the magic touch of Labor to wave with every harvest and blush with every fruitage. Majestic forests crown the hills, asking to be transformed into homes for man on the solid earth, or into the moving miracles in which he flies on wings of wind or flame over the ocean to the ends of the earth. Exhaustless mineral treasures offer themselves to his hand, scarce hidden beneath the soil, or lying carelessly upon the surface,—coal, and lead, and copper, and the "all-worshipped ore" of gold itself; while quarries, reaching to the centre, from many a rugged hill-top, barren of all beside, court the architect and the sculptor, ready to give shape to their dreams of beauty in the palace or in the statue.
The soil, too, is fitted by the influences of every sky for the production of every harvest that can bring food, comfort, wealth, and luxury to man. Every family of the grasses, every cereal that can strengthen the heart, every fruit that can delight the taste, every fibre that can be woven into raiment or persuaded into the thousand shapes of human necessity, asks but a gentle solicitation to pour its abundance bounteously into the bosom of the husbandman. And men have multiplied under conditions thus auspicious to life, until they swarm on the Atlantic slope, are fast filling up the great valley of the Mississippi, and gradually flow over upon the descent towards the Pacific. The three millions, who formed the population of the Thirteen States that set the British empire at defiance, have grown up into a nation of nearly, if not quite, ten times that strength, within the duration of active lives not yet finished. And in freedom from unmanageable debt, in abundance and certainty of revenue, in the materials for naval armaments, in the elements of which armies are made up, in everything that goes to form national wealth, power, and strength, the United States, it would seem, even as they are now, might stand against the world in arms, or in the arts of peace. Are not these results proofs irrefragable of the wisdom of the government under which they have come to pass?
When the eyes of the thoughtful inquirer turn from the general prospect of the national greatness and strength, to the geographical divisions of the country, to examine the relative proportions of these gifts contributed by each, he begins to be aware that there are anomalies in the moral and political condition even of this youngest of nations, not unlike what have perplexed him in his observation of her elder sisters. He beholds the Southern region, embracing within its circuit three hundred thousand more square miles than the domain of the North, dowered with a soil incomparably more fertile, watered by mighty rivers fit to float the argosies of the world, placed nearer the sun and canopied by more propitious skies, with every element of prosperity and wealth showered upon it with Nature's fullest and most unwithdrawing hand, and sees, that, notwithstanding all this, the share of public wealth and strength drawn thence is almost inappreciable by the side of what is poured into the common stock by the strenuous sterility of the North. With every opportunity and means that Nature can supply for commerce, with navigable rivers searching its remotest corners, with admirable harbors in which the navies of the world might ride, with the chief articles of export for its staple productions, it still depends upon its Northern partner to fetch and carry all that it produces, and the little that it consumes. Possessed of all the raw materials of manufactures and the arts, its inhabitants look to the North for everything they need from the cradle to the coffin. Essentially agricultural in its constitution, with every blessing Nature can bestow upon it, the gross value of all its productions is less by millions than that of the simple grass of the field gathered into Northern barns. With all the means and materials of wealth, the South is poor. With every advantage for gathering strength and self-reliance, it is weak and dependent.—Why this difference between the two?
The why is not far to seek. It is to be found in the reward which Labor bestows on those that pay it due reverence in the one case, and the punishment it inflicts on those offering it outrage and insult in the other. All wealth proceeding forth from Labor, the land where it is honored and its ministers respected and rewarded must needs rejoice in the greatest abundance of its gifts. Where, on the contrary, its exercise is regarded as the badge of dishonor and the vile office of the refuse and offscouring of the race, its largess must be proportionably meagre and scanty. The key of the enigma is to be found in the constitution of human nature. A man in fetters cannot do the task-work that one whose limbs are unshackled looks upon as a pastime. A man urged by the prospect of winning an improved condition for himself and his children by the skill of his brain and the industry of his hand must needs achieve results such as no fear of torture can extort from one denied the holy stimulus of hope. Hence the difference so often noticed between tracts lying side by side, separated only by a river or an imaginary line; on one side of which, thrift and comfort and gathering wealth, growing villages, smiling farms, convenient habitations, school-houses, and churches make the landscape beautiful; while on the other, slovenly husbandry, dilapidated mansions, sordid huts, perilous wastes, horrible roads, the rare spire, and rarer village school betray all the nakedness of the land. It is the magic of motive that calls forth all this wealth and beauty to bless the most sterile soil stirred by willing and intelligent labor; while the reversing of that spell scatters squalor and poverty and misery over lands endowed by Nature with the highest fertility, spreading their leprous infection from the laborer to his lord. All this is in strict accordance with the laws of God, as expounded by man in his books on political economy.
Not so, however, with the stranger phenomenon to be discerned inextricably connected with this anomaly, but not, apparently, naturally and inevitably flowing from it. That the denial of his natural and civil rights to the laborer who sows and reaps the harvests of the Southern country should be avenged upon his enslaver in the scanty yielding of the earth, and in the unthrift, the vices, and the wretchedness which are the only crops that spring spontaneously from soil blasted by slavery, is nothing strange. It is only the statement of the truism in moral and in political economy, that true prosperity can never grow up from wrong and wickedness. That pauperism, and ignorance, and vice, that reckless habits, and debasing customs, and barbarous manners should come of an organized degradation of labor, and of cruelty and injustice crystallized into an institution, is an inevitable necessity, and strictly according to the nature of things. But that the stronger half of the nation should suffer the weaker to rule over it in virtue of its weakness, that the richer region should submit to the political tyranny of its impoverished moiety because of that very poverty, is indeed a marvel and a mystery. That the intelligent, educated, and civilized portion of a race should consent to the sway of their ignorant, illiterate, and barbarian companions in the commonwealth, and this by reason of that uncouth barbarism, is an astonishment, and should be a hissing to all beholders everywhere. It would be so to ourselves, were we not so used to the fact, had it not so grown into our essence and ingrained itself with our nature as to seem a vital organism of our being. Of all the anomalies in morals and in politics which the history of civilized man affords, this is surely the most abnormous and the most unreasonable.
The entire history of the United States is but the record of the evidence of this fact. What event in our annals is there that Slavery has not set her brand upon it to mark it as her own? In the very moment of the nation's birth, like the evil fairy of the nursery tale, she was present to curse it with her fatal words. The spell then wound up has gone on increasing in power, until the scanty formulas which seemed in those days of infancy as if they would fade out of the parchment into which they had been foisted, and leave no trace that they ever were, have blotted out all beside, and statesmen and judges read nothing there but the awful and all-pervading name of Slavery. Once intrenched among the institutions of the country, this baleful power has advanced from one position to another, never losing ground, but establishing itself at each successive point more impregnably than before, until it has us at an advantage that encourages it to demand the surrender of our rights, our self-respect, and our honor. What was once whispered in the secret chamber of council is now proclaimed upon the housetops; what was once done by indirection and guile is now carried with the high hand, in the face of day, at the mouth of the cannon and by the edge of the sabre of the nation. Doctrines and designs which a few years since could find no mouthpiece out of a bar-room, or the piratical den of a filibuster, are now clothed with power by the authentic response of the bench of our highest judicatory, and obsequiously iterated from the oracular recesses of the National Palace.
And the events which now fill the scene are but due successors in the train that has swept over the stage ever since the nineteenth century opened the procession with the purchase of Louisiana. The acquisition of that vast territory, important as it was in a national point of view,—but coveted by the South mainly as the fruitful mother of slave-holding States, and for the precedent it established, that the Constitution was a barrier only to what should impede, never to what might promote, the interests of Slavery,—was the first great stride she made as she stalked to her design. The admission of Missouri as a slaveholding State, granted after a struggle that shook American society to the centre, and then only on the memorable promises now broken to the ear as well as to the hope, was the next vantage-ground seized and maintained. The nearly contemporary purchase of Florida, though in design and in effect as revolutionary an action as that of Louisiana, excited comparatively little opposition. It was but the following up of an acknowledged victory by the Slave Power. The long and bloody wars in her miserable swamps, waged against the humanity of savages that gave shelter to the fugitives from her tyranny,—slave-hunts, merely, on a national scale and at the common expense,—followed next in the march of events. Then Texas loomed in the distance, and, after years of gradual approach and covert advances, was first wrested from Mexico. Slavery next indissolubly chained to her, and then, by a coup d'etat of astonishing impudence, was added, by a flourish of John Tyler's pen, in the very article of his political dissolution, to "the Area of Freedom!" Next came the war with Mexico, lying in its pretences, bloody in its conduct, triumphant in its results, for it won vast regions suitable for Slavery now, and taught the way to win larger conquests when her ever-hungry maw should crave them. What need to recount the Fugitive-Slave Bill, and the other "Compromises" of 1850? or to recite the base repeal of the Missouri Compromise, showing the slaveholder's regard for promises to be as sacred as that of a pettifogger for justice or of a dicer for an oath? or to point to the plains of Kansas, red with the blood of her sons and blackened with the cinders of her towns, while the President of the United States held the sword of the nation at her throat to compel her to submission?
Success, perpetual and transcendent, such as has always waited on Slavery in all her attempts to mould the history of the country and to compel the course of its events to do her bidding, naturally excites a measure of curiosity if not of admiration, in the mind of every observer. Have the slave-owners thus gone on from victory to victory and from strength to strength by reason of their multitude, of their wealth, of their public services, of their intelligence, of their wisdom, of their genius, or of their virtue? Success in gigantic crime sometimes implies a strength and energy which compel a kind of respect even from those that hate it most. The right supremacy of the power that thus sways our destiny clearly does not reside in the overwhelming numbers of those that bear rule. The entire sum of all who have any direct connection with Slavery, as owners or hirers, is less than THREE HUNDRED AND FIFTY THOUSAND,—not half as many as the inhabitants of the single city of New York! And yet even this number exaggerates the numerical force of the dominant element in our affairs. To approximate to the true result, it would be fair to strike from the gross sum those owning or employing less than ten slaves, in order to arrive at the number of slave-owners who really compose the ruling influence of the nation. This would leave but a small fraction over NINETY THOUSAND, men, women, and children, owning slaves enough to unite them in a common interest. And from this should be deducted the women and minors, actually owning slaves in their own right, but who have no voice in public affairs. These taken away, and the absentees flying to Europe or the North from the moral contaminations and material discomforts inseparable from Slavery, and not much more than FIFTY THOUSAND voting men will remain to represent this mighty and all-controlling power!—a fact as astounding as it is incontrovertible.
Oligarchies are nothing new in the history of the world. The government of the many by the few is the rule, and not the exception, in the politics of the times that have been and of those that now are. But the concentration of the power that determines the policy, makes the laws, and appoints the ministers of a mighty nation, in the hands of less than the five-hundredth part of its members, is an improvement on the essence of the elder aristocracies; while the usurpation of the title of the Model Republic and of the Pattern Democracy, under which we offer ourselves to the admiration and imitation of less happy nations, is certainly a refinement on their nomenclature.
This prerogative of power, too, is elsewhere conceded by the multitude to their rulers generally for some especial fitness, real or imaginary, for the office they have assumed. Some services of their own or of their ancestors to the state, some superiority, natural or acquired, of parts or skill, at least some specialty of high culture and elegant breeding, a quick sense of honor, a jealousy of insult to the public, an impatience of personal stain,—some or all of these qualities, appealing to the gratitude or to the imagination of the masses, have usually been supposed to inhere in the class they permit to rule over them. By virtue of some or all of these things, its members have had allowed to them their privileges and their precedency, their rights of exemption and of preeminence, their voice potential in the councils of the state, and their claim to be foremost in its defence in the hour of its danger. Some ray of imagination there is, which, falling on the knightly shields and heraldic devices that symbolize their conceded superiority, at least dazzles the eyes and delights the fancy of the crowd, so as to blind them to the inhering vices and essential fallacies of the Order to whose will they bow.
But no such consolations of delusion remain to us, as we stand face to face with the Power which holds our destinies in its hand. None of these blear illusions can cheat our eyes with any such false presentments. No antiquity hallows, no public services consecrate, no gifts of lofty culture adorn, no graces of noble breeding embellish the coarse and sordid oligarchy that gives law to us. And in the blighting shadow of Slavery letters die and art cannot live. What book has the South ever given to the libraries of the world? What work of art has she ever added to its galleries? What artist has she produced that did not instinctively fly, like Allston, to regions in which genius could breathe and art was possible? What statesman has she reared, since Jefferson died and Madison ceased to write, save those intrepid discoverers who have taught that Slavery is the corner-stone of republican institutions, and the vital element of Freedom herself? What divine, excepting the godly men whose theologic skill has attained to the doctrine that Slavery is of the essence of the Gospel of Jesus Christ? What moralist, besides those ethic doctors who teach that it is according to the Divine Justice that the stronger race should strip the weaker of every civil, social, and moral right? The unrighteous partiality, extorted by the threats of Carolina and Georgia in 1788, which gives them a disproportionate representation because of their property in men, and the unity of interest which makes them always act in behalf of Slavery as one man, have made them thus omnipotent. The North, distracted by a thousand interests, has always been at the mercy of whatever barbarian chief in the capital could throw his slave whip into the trembling scale of party. The government having been always, since this century began, at least, the creature and the tool of the slaveholders, the whole patronage of the nation, and the treasury filled chiefly by Northern commerce, have been at their command to help manipulate and mould plastic Northern consciences into practicable shapes. When the slave interest, consisting, at its own largest account of itself, of less than THREE HUNDRED AND FIFTY THOUSAND souls, has thirty members of the Senate, while the free-labor interest, consisting of at least TWENTY-FOUR MILLIONS, SIX HUNDRED AND FIFTY THOUSAND souls, has but thirty-two, and when the former has a delegation of some score of members to represent its slaves in the House, besides its own fair proportion, can we marvel that it has achieved the mastery over us, which is written in black and bloody characters on so many pages of our history?
Such having been the absolute sway Slavery has exercised over the facts of our history, what has been its influence upon the characters of the men with whom it has had to do? Of all the productions of a nation, its men are what prove its quality the most surely. How have the men of America stood this test? Have those in the high places, they who have been called to wait at the altar before all the people, maintained the dignity of character and secured the general reverence which marked and waited upon their predecessors in the days of our small things? The population of the United States has multiplied itself nearly tenfold, while its wealth has increased in a still greater proportion, since the peace of 'Eighty-Three. Have the Representative Men of the nation been made or maintained great and magnanimous, too? Or is that other anomaly, which has so perplexed the curious foreigner, an admitted fact, that in proportion as the country has waxed great and powerful, its public men have dwindled from giants in the last century to dwarfs in this? Alas, to ask the question is to answer it. Compare Franklin, and Adams, and Jay, met at Paris to negotiate the treaty of peace which was to seal the recognition of their country as an equal sister in the family of nations, with Buchanan, and Soule, and Mason, convened at Ostend to plot the larceny of Cuba! Sages and lawgivers, consulting for the welfare of a world and a race, on the one hand, and buccaneers conspiring for the pillage of a sugar-island on the other!
What men, too, did not Washington and Adams call around them in the Cabinet!—how representative of great ideas! how historical! how immortal! How many of our readers can name the names of their successors of the present day? Inflated obscurities, bloated insignificances, who knows or cares whence they came or what they are? We know whose bidding they were appointed to obey, and what manner of work they are ready to perform. And shall we dare extend our profane comparisons even higher than the Cabinet? Shall we bring the shadowy majesty of Washington's august idea alongside the microscopic realities of to-day? Let us be more merciful, and take our departure from the middle term between the Old and the New, occupied by Andrew Jackson, whose iron will and doggedness of purpose give definite character, if not awful dignity, to his image. In his time, the Slave Power, though always the secret spring which set events in motion, began to let its workings be seen more openly than ever before. And from his time forward, what a graduated line of still diminishing shadows have glided successively through the portals of the White House! From Van Buren to Tyler, from Tyler to Polk, from Polk to Fillmore, from Fillmore to Pierce! "Fine by degrees and beautifully less," until it at last reached the vanishing point!
The baleful influence thus ever shed by Slavery on our national history and our public men has not yet spent its malignant forces. It has, indeed, reached a height which a few years ago it was thought the wildest fanaticism to predict; but its fatal power will not be stayed in the mid-sweep of its career. The Ordinance of 1787 torn to shreds and scattered to the winds,—the line drawn in 1820, which the slaveholders plighted their faith Slavery should never overstep, insolently as well as infamously obliterated,—Slavery presiding in the Cabinet, seated on the Supreme Bench, absolute in the halls of Congress,—no man can say what shape its next aggression may not take to itself. A direct attack on the freedom of the press and the liberty of speech at the North, where alone either exists, were no more incredible than the later insolences of its tyranny. The battle not yet over in Kansas, for the compulsory establishment of Slavery there by the interposition of the Federal arm, will be renewed in every Territory as it is ripening into a State. Already warning voices are heard in the air, presaging such a conflict in Oregon. Parasites everywhere instinctively feel that a zeal for the establishment of Slavery where it has been abolished, or its introduction where it had been prohibited, is the highest recommendation to the Executive favor. The rehabilitation of the African slave-trade is seriously proposed and will be furiously urged, and nothing can hinder its accomplishment but its interference with the domestic manufactures of the breeding Slave States. The pirate Walker is already mustering his forces for another incursion into Nicaragua, and rumors are rife that General Houston designs wresting yet another Texas from Mexico. Mighty events are at hand, even at the door; and the mission of them all will be to fix Slavery firmly and forever on the throne of this nation.
Is the success of this conspiracy to be final and eternal? Are the States which name themselves, in simplicity or in irony, the Free States, to be always the satrapies of a central power like this? Are we forever to submit to be cheated out of our national rights by an oligarchy as despicable as it is detestable, because it clothes itself in the forms of democracy, and allows us the ceremonies of choice, the name of power, and the permission to register the edicts of the sovereign? We, who broke the sceptre of King George, and set our feet on the supremacy of the British Parliament, surrender ourselves, bound hand and foot in bonds of our own weaving, into the hands of the slaveholding Philistines! We, who scorned the rule of the aristocracy of English acres, submit without a murmur, or with an ineffectual resistance, to the aristocracy of American flesh and blood! Is our spirit effectually broken? is the brand of meanness and compromise burnt in uneffaceably upon our souls? and are we never to be roused, by any indignities, to fervent resentment and effectual resistance? The answer to these grave questions lies with ourselves alone. One hundred thousand, or three hundred thousand men, however crafty and unscrupulous, cannot forever keep under their rule more than twenty millions, as much their superiors in wealth and intelligence as in numbers, except by their own consent. If the growing millions are to be driven with cartwhips along the pathway of their history by the dwindling thousands, they have none to blame for it but themselves. If they like to have their laws framed and expounded, their presidents appointed, their foreign policy dictated, their domestic interests tampered with, their war and peace made for them, their national fame and personal honor tarnished, and the lie given to all their boastings before the old despotisms, by this insignificant fraction of their number,—scarcely visible to the naked eye in the assembly of the whole people,—none can gainsay or resist their pleasure.
But will the many always thus submit themselves to the domination of the few? We believe that the days of this ignominious subjection are already numbered. Signs in heaven and on earth tell us that one of those movements has begun to be felt in the Northern mind, which perplex tyrannies everywhere with the fear of change. The insults and wrongs so long heaped upon the North by the South begin to be felt. The torpid giant moves uneasily beneath his mountain-load of indignities. The people of the North begin to feel that they support a government for the benefit of their natural enemies; for, of all antipathies, that of slave labor to free is the most deadly and irreconcilable. There never was a time when the relations of the North and the South, as complicated by Slavery, were so well understood and so deeply resented as now. In fields, in farmhouses, and in workshops, there is a spirit aroused which can never be laid or exorcised till it has done its task. We see its work in the great uprising of the Free States against the Slave States in the late national election. Though trickery and corruption cheated it of its end, the thunder of its protest struck terror into the hearts of the tyrants. We hear its echo, as it comes back from the Slave States themselves, in the exceeding bitter cry of the whites for deliverance from the bondage which the slavery of the blacks has brought upon them also. We discern the confession of its might in the very extravagances and violences of the Slave Power. It is its conscious and admitted weakness that has made Texas and Mexico and Cuba, and our own Northwestern territory, necessary to be devoured. It is desperation, and not strength, that has made the bludgeon and the bowie-knife integral parts of the national legislation. It has the American Government, the American Press, and the American Church, in its national organizations, on its side; but the Humanity and the Christianity of the Nation and the World abhor and execrate it. They that be against it are more than they that be for it.
It rages, for its time is short. And its rage is the fiercer because of the symptoms of rebellion against its despotism which it discerns among the white men of the South, who from poverty or from principle have no share in its sway. When we speak of the South as distinguished from the North by elements of inherent hostility, we speak only of the governing faction, and not of the millions of nominally free men who are scarcely less its thralls than the black slaves themselves. This unhappy class of our countrymen are the first to feel the blight which Slavery spreads around it, because they are the nearest to its noxious power. The subjects of no European despotism are under a closer espionage, or a more organized system of terrorism, than are they. The slaveholders, having the wealth, and nearly all the education that the South can boast of, employ these mighty instruments of power to create the public sentiment and to control the public affairs of their region, so as best to secure their own supremacy. No word of dissent to the institutions under which they live, no syllable of dissatisfaction, even, with any of the excesses they stimulate, can be breathed in safety. A Christian minister in Tennessee relates an act of fiendish cruelty inflicted upon a slave by one of the members of his church, and he is forced to leave his charge, if not to fly the country. Another in South Carolina presumes to express in conversation his disapprobation of the murderous assault of Brooks on Senator Sumner, and his pastoral relations are broken up on the instant, as if he had been guilty of gross crime or flagrant heresy. Professor Hedrick, in North Carolina, ventures to utter a preference for the Northern candidate in the last presidential campaign, and he is summarily ejected from his chair, and virtually banished from his native State. Mr. Underwood, of Virginia, dares to attend the convention of the party he preferred, and he is forbidden to return to his home on pain of death. The blackness of darkness and the stillness of death are thus forced to brood over that land which God formed so fair, and made to be so happy.
That such a tyranny should excite an antagonistic spirit of resistance is inevitable from the constitution of man and the character of God. The sporadic cases of protest and of resistance to the slaveholding aristocracy, which lift themselves occasionally above the dead level of the surrounding despotism, are representative cases. They stand for much more than their single selves. They prove that there is a wide-spread spirit of discontent, informing great regions of the slave-land, which must one day find or force an opportunity of making itself heard and felt. This we have just seen in the great movement in Missouri, the very nursing-mother of Border-Ruffianism itself, which narrowly missed making Emancipation the policy of the majority of the voters there. Such a result is the product of no sudden culture. It must have been long and slowly growing up. And how could it be otherwise? There must be intelligence enough among the non-slaveholding whites to see the difference there is between themselves and persons of the same condition in the Free States. Why can they have no free schools? Why is it necessary that a missionary society be formed at the North to furnish them with such ministers as the slave-master can approve? Why can they not support their own ministers, and have a Gospel of Free Labor preached to them, if they choose? Why are they hindered from taking such newspapers as they please? Why are they subjected to a censorship of the press, which dictates to them what they may or may not read, and which punishes booksellers with exile and ruin for keeping for sale what they want to buy? Why must Northern publishers expurgate and emasculate the literature of the world before it is permitted to reach them? Why is it that the value of acres increases in a geometrical ratio, as they stretch away towards the North Star from the frontier of Slavery? These questions must suggest their sufficient answer to thousands of hearts, and be preparing the way for the insurrection of which the slaveholders stand in the deadliest fear,—that of the whites at their gates, who can do with them and their institutions what seems to them good, when once they know their power, and choose to put it forth. The unity of interest of the non-slaveholders of the South with the people of the Free States is perfect, and it must one day combine them in a unity of action.
The exact time when the millions of the North and of the South shall rise upon this puny mastership, and snatch from its hands the control of their own affairs, we cannot tell,—nor yet the authentic shape which that righteous insurrection will take unto itself. But we know that when the great body of any nation is thoroughly aroused, and fully in earnest to abate a mischief or to right a wrong, nothing can resist its energy or defeat its purpose. It will provide the way, when its will is once thoroughly excited. Men look out upon the world they live in, and it seems as if a change for the better were hopeless and impossible. The great statesmen, the eminent divines, the reverend judges, the learned lawyers, the wealthy landholders and merchants are all leagued together to repel innovation. But the earth still moves in its orbit around the sun; decay and change and death pursue their inevitable course; the child is born and grows up; the strong man grows old and dies; the law of flux and efflux never ceases, and lo! ere men are aware of it, all things have become new. Fresh eyes look upon the world, and it is changed. Where are now Calhoun, and Clay, and Webster? Where will shortly be Cass, and Buchanan, and Benton, and their like? Vanished from the stage of affairs, if not from the face of Nature. Who are to take their places? God knows. But we know that the school in which men are now in training for the arena is very different from the one which formed the past and passing generations of politicians. Great ideas are abroad, challenging the encounter of youth. Angels wrestle with the men of this generation, as with the Patriarch of old, and it is our own fault if a blessing be not extorted ere they take their flight. Principles, like those which in the earlier days of the republic elevated men into statesmen, are now again in the field, chasing the policies which have dwarfed their sons into politicians. These things are portentous of change,—perhaps sudden, but, however delayed, inevitable.
And this change, whatever the outward shape in which it may incarnate itself, in the fulness of time, will come of changed ideas, opinions, and feelings in the general mind and heart. All institutions, even those of the oldest of despotisms, exist by the permission and consent of those who live under them. Change the ideas of the thronging multitudes by the banks of the Neva, or on the shores of the Bosphorus, and they will be changed into Republicans and Christians in the twinkling of an eye. Not merely the Kingdom of Heaven, but the kingdoms of this world, are within us. Ideas are their substance; institutions and customs but the shadows they cast into the visible sphere. Mould the substance anew, and the projected shadow must represent the altered shape within. Hence the dread despots feel, and none more than the petty despots of the plantation, of whatever may throw the light of intelligence across the mental sight of their slaves. Men endure the ills they have, either because they think them blessings, or because they fear lest, should they seek to fly them, it might be to others that they know not of. The present Bonaparte holds France in a chain because she is willing that he should. Let her but breathe upon the padlock, and, like that in the fable, it will fade into air, and he and his dynasty will vanish with it. So the people of the North submit to the domination of the South because they are used to it, and are doubtful as to what may replace it. Whenever the millions, North and South, whom Slavery grinds under her heel, shall be resolutely minded that her usurpation shall cease, it will disappear, and forever. As soon as the stone is thrown the giant will die, and men will marvel that they endured him so long. But this can only come to pass by virtue of a change yet to be wrought in the hearts and minds of men. Ideas everywhere are royal;—here they are imperial. It is the great office of genius, and eloquence, and sacred function, and conspicuous station, and personal influence to herald their approach and to prepare the way before them, that they may assert their state and give holy laws to the listening nation. Thus a glorious form and pressure may be given to the coming age. Thus the ideal of a true republic, of a government of laws made and executed by the people, of which bards have sung and prophets dreamed, and for which martyrs have suffered and heroes died, may yet be possible to us, and the great experiment of this Western World be indeed a Model, instead of a Warning to the nations.