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THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY.
A MAGAZINE OF LITERATURE, ART, AND POLITICS.
* * * * *
VOL. I.--APRIL, 1858.--NO. VI.
* * * * *
THE HUNDRED DAYS.
That period of history between the 20th of March and the 28th of June,
1815, being the interregnum in the reign of Louis the Eighteenth,
caused by the arrival of Napoleon from Elba and his assumption of the
government of France, is known as "The Hundred Days."
It is as interesting as it was eventful, and has been duly chronicled
wherever facts have been gathered to gratify a curiosity that is not yet
weary of dwelling on the point of time which saw the Star of Destiny
once more in the ascendant before it sank forever.
Whatever is connected with this remarkable epoch is worthy of
remembrance, and whoever can add the interest of a personal experience,
though it be limited and unimportant, should be satisfied, in the
recital, to adopt that familiar form which may give to his recollections
the strongest impress of reality.
I was at that time a schoolboy in Paris. The institution to which I was
attached was connected with one of the National Lyceums, which were
colleges where students resided in large numbers, and where classes from
private schools also regularly attended, each studying in its respective
place and going to the Lyceum at hours of lecture or recitation. All
these establishments were, under Napoleon, to a certain degree military.
The roll of the drum roused the scholar to his daily work; a uniform
with the imperial button was the only dress allowed to be worn; and the
physical as well as the intellectual training was such, that very little
additional preparation was required to qualify the inmate of the Lyceum
for the duties and privations of the soldier's life. The transition
was not unnatural; and the boy who breakfasted in the open air, in
midwinter, on a piece of dry bread and as much water as he chose to pump
for himself,--who was turned adrift, without cap or overcoat, from the
study-room into the storm or sunshine of an open enclosure, to amuse
himself in his recess as he best might,--whose continual talk with his
comrades was of the bivouac or the battle-field,--and who considered the
great object of life to be the development of faculties best fitted to
excel in the art of destruction, would not be astonished to find himself
sleeping on the bare ground with a levy of raw conscripts.
I was in daily intercourse with several hundred young men, and it
may not be uninteresting to dwell a moment on the character of my
companions, especially as they may be considered a fair type of the
youth of France generally at that time. It is, moreover, a topic with
which few are familiar. There were not many Americans in that country at
that period. I knew of only one at school in Paris beside myself.
If the brilliant glories of the Empire dazzled the mature mind of
age, they wrought into delirium the impulsive brain of youth, whose
impressions do not wait for any aid from the judgment, but burn into the
soul, never to be totally effaced. The early boyhood of those with whom
I was associated had been one of continual excitement. Hardly had the
hasty but eloquent bulletin told the Parisians that the name of another
bloody field was to be inscribed among the victories of France, and the
cannon of the Invalides thundered out their notes of triumph, when again
the mutilated veterans were on duty at their scarcely cooled pieces and
the newswomen in the streets were shrilly proclaiming some new triumph
of the imperial arms. Then came the details, thrilling a warlike people,
and the trophies which symbolized success,--banners torn and stained
in desperate conflict, destined to hang over Christian altars until the
turning current of fortune should drift them back,--parks of artillery
rumbling through the streets, to be melted into statue or triumphal
column,--and, amid the spoils of war, everything most glorious in Art to
fill that wondrous gallery, the like of which the eye of man will never
look upon again. At last, in some short respite of those fighting days,
came back the conquerors themselves, to enjoy a fleeting period of rest
and fame ere they should stiffen on Russian snows, or swell the streams
which bathe the walls of Leipsic, or blacken, with countless dead, the
plains stretching between the Rhine and their own proud capital.
By no portion of the people were these things gathered with such avidity
and regarded with such all-absorbing interest as by the schoolboys of
Paris. Every step of the "Grand Army" was watched with deep solicitude
and commented upon with no doubtful criticism. They made themselves
acquainted with the relative merit of each division, and could tell
which arm of the service most contributed to the result of any
particular battle. They collected information from all sources,--from
accounts in newspapers, from army letters, from casual conversation with
some maimed straggler fresh from the scene of war. Each boy, as he
made his periodical visit to his family, brought back something to the
general fund of anecdote. The fire that burned in their young bosoms was
fed by tales of daring, and there was a halo round deeds of blood which
effectually concealed the woe and misery they caused. There was but one
side of the medal visible, and the figures on that were so bold and
beautiful that no one cared for or thought of the ugly death's-head on
the reverse. The fearful consumption of human life which drained the
land, sweeping off almost one entire generation of able-bodied men, and
leaving the tillage of the fields to the decrepitude of age, feebly
aided by female hands, gave ample opportunity to gratify the ardent
minds panting to exchange the tame drudgery of school and college for
the limited, but to them world-wide, authority of the subaltern's sword
and epaulet. There seemed to them but one road to advancement. The
profession of arms was the sole pursuit which opened a career bounded
only by the wildest dreams of ambition. What had been could be; and the
fortunate soldier might find no check in the progressive honors of his
course, until his brows should be encircled by the insignia of royalty.
It required more than mortal courage for a young man to intimate a
preference for some more peaceful occupation. A learned profession might
be sneeringly tolerated; but woe to him who spoke of agriculture,
or commerce, or the mechanic arts! There was little comfort for the
luckless wight who, in some unguarded moment, gave utterance to such
ignoble aspirations. Henceforth he was, like the Pariah of India, cut
off from human sympathy, and the young gentlemen whose tastes and
tendencies led them to prefer the more aristocratic trade of butchery
felt that there was a line of demarcation which completely and
conclusively separated them from him.
This predilection for military life received no small encouragement
from the occasional visit of some young Caesar, whose uniform had been
tarnished in the experiences of one campaign, and who returned to his
former associates to indulge in an hour of unalloyed glorification.
Napoleon, when he entered the Tuileries after prostrating some hostile
kingdom, never felt more importance than did the young lieutenant in his
service when he passed the ponderous doors which ushered him into the
presence of his old schoolfellows. What a host of admirers crowded
around him! What an honor and privilege to be standing in the presence,
and even pressing the hand or rushing into the embrace, of an officer
who had really seen bayonet-charges and heard the whistling of
grapeshot! How the older ones monopolized the distinguished visitor, and
how the little boys crowded the outer circle to catch a word from the
military oracle, proudly happy if they could get a distant nod of
recognition! And then the questions which were showered upon him, too
numerous and varied to be answered. And how he described the forced
marches, and the manoeuvring, and the great battle!--how the cannonade
seemed the breaking up of heaven and earth, and the solid ground shook
under the charges of cavalry; how, yet louder than all, rang the
imperial battle-cry, maddening those who uttered it; how death was
everywhere, and yet he escaped unharmed, or with some slight wound which
trebled his importance to his admiring auditors. He would then tell how,
after hours of desperate fighting, the Emperor, seeing that the decisive
moment had arrived, ordered up the Imperial Guard; how the veterans,
whose hairs had bleached in the smoke of a hundred battles, advanced to
fulfil their mission; how with firm tread and lofty bearing, proud
in the recollections of the past and strong in the consciousness of
strength, they entered the well-fought field; and how from rank to rank
of their exhausted countrymen pealed the shout of exultation, for
they knew that the hour of their deliverance had come; and then, with
overwhelming might, all branches of the service, comprised in that
magnificent reserve, swept like a whirlwind, driving before them
horse and foot, artillery, equipage, and standards, all mingled in
With what freedom did our young hero comment on the campaign, speaking
such names as Lannes and Ney, Murat and Massena, like household words!
He did not, perhaps, state that the favorable result of things was
entirely owing to his presence, but it might be inferred that it was
well he threw in his sword when the fortunes of the Empire trembled in
Under such influences, and with the excitement produced by the
marvellous success of the French armies, it is not singular that young
men looked eagerly forward to a participation in the prodigies and
splendors of their time,--that they should turn disdainfully from the
paths of honest industry, and that everything which constitutes the true
wealth and greatness of a state should have been despised or forgotten
in the lurid and blood-stained glare of military glory, which cowered
like an incubus on the breast of Europe. The battle-fields were beyond
the frontiers of their own country; the calamities of war were too far
distant to obtrude their disheartening features; and no lamentations
mingled with the public rejoicings. Many a broken-hearted mother mourned
in secret for her son lying in his bloody grave; but individual grief
was disregarded in the madness which pervaded all classes, vain-glorious
from repeated and uninterrupted success.
But the time had come when the storm was to pour in desolation over the
fields of France, and the nations which had trembled at her power were
to tender back to her the bitter cup of humiliation. The unaccustomed
sound of hostile cannon broke in on the dreams of invincibility which
had entranced the people, and deeds of violence and blood, which had
been complacently regarded when the theatre of action was on foreign
territory, seemed quite another thing when the scene was shifted to
their own vineyards and villages.
The genius of Napoleon never exhibited such vast fertility of resources
as when he battled for life and empire in his own dominions. Every foot
of ground was wrested from him at an expense of life which thinned the
innumerable hosts pressing onward to his destruction. He stood at bay
against all Europe in arms; and so desperately did he contend against
the vast odds opposed to him, and so rapidly did he move from one
invading column to another, successively beating back division upon
division, that his astonished foes, awed by his superhuman exertions,
had wellnigh turned their faces to the Rhine in panic-stricken retreat.
But the line of invasion was so widely extended that even his ubiquity
could not compass it. His wonderful power of concentration was of little
avail to him when the mere skeletons of regiments answered to his call,
and, along his weakened line, the neglected gleanings left by the
conscription, now hastily garnered in this last extremity, greeted him
in the treble notes of childhood. The voices of the bearded men, which
once hailed his presence, were hushed in death. They had shouted his
name in triumph over Europe, and it had quivered on their lips when
parched with the moral agony. Their bones were whitening the sands of
Egypt, the harvests of Italy had long waved over them, their
unnumbered graves lay thick in the German's Fatherland, and
the floods of the Berezina were yet giving up their unburied
dead. The remnant of that once invincible army did all that
could be done; but there were limits to endurance, and exhaustion
anticipated the hour of combat. Men fell dead in their ranks, untouched
by shot or steel; and yet the survivors pressed on to take up the
positions assigned by their leader, who seemed to be proof against
either fatigue or despair. His last bold move, on which he staked his
empire, was a splendid effort, but it failed him. It was the daring play
of a desperate gamester, and nearly checkmated his opponents. But when,
instead of pursuing him, they marched on Paris, he left his army to
follow as it could, and hastened to anticipate his enemies. When about
fifteen miles from Paris, he received news of the battle of Montmartre
and the capitulation of the city. The post-house where he encountered
this intelligence was within sight of the place where I passed my
vacations. I often looked at it with interest, for it was there that the
vision first flushed before him of his broken empire and the utter ruin
which bade farewell to hope. He had become familiar with reverses. His
veteran legions had perished in unequal strife with the elements, or
melted away in the hot flame of conflict; his most devoted adherents
had fallen around him; yet his iron soul bore up against his changing
fortunes, and from the wrecks of storm and battle there returned
-------"the conqueror's broken car,
The conqueror's yet unbroken heart."
But the spirit which had never quailed before his enemies was crushed
by the desertion of his friends. He had now to feel that treason and
ingratitude are attendants on adversity, and that the worshippers of
power, like the Gheber devotee, turn their faces reverently towards the
There are few things in history so touching as the position of Napoleon
at Fontainebleau, during the few days which preceded his abdication
and departure for the Island of Elba. Nearly all his superior officers
forsook him, not even finding time to bid him adieu. Men whom he had
covered with wealth and honors, who had most obsequiously courted his
smiles, and been most vehement in their protestations of fidelity, were
the first to leave him in his misfortune, forgetting, in their anxiety
to conciliate his successor, to make the slightest stipulation for the
protection of their benefactor. He was left in the vast apartments of
that deserted palace, with hardly the footsteps of a domestic servant to
break its monastic stillness; and, for the first time in his eventful
life, he sat, hour after hour, without movement, brooding over his
despair. At last, when all was ready for his departure, he called up
something of his old energy, and again stood in the presence of what
remained of the Imperial Guard, which was faithful to the end. These
brave men had often encircled him, like a wall of granite, in the hour
of utmost peril, and they were now before him, to look upon him, as they
thought, for the last time. He struggled to retain his firmness, but
the effort was beyond human resolution; his pride gave way before his
bursting heart, and the stern vanquisher of nations wept with his old
Napoleon was gone. His empire was in the dust The streets of his capital
were filled with strangers, and the volatile Parisians were almost
compensated for the degradation, in their wonder at the novel garb and
uncouth figures of their enemies. The Cossacks of the Don had made their
threatened "hurra," and bivouacked on the banks of the Seine. Prussian
and Austrian cannon pointed down all the great thoroughfares, and by
their side, day and night, the burning match suggested the penalty of
any popular commotion. The Bourbons were at the Tuileries, and France
appeared to have moved back to the place whence she had started on her
course of redemption. At length, slowly and prudently, the allied armies
commenced their homeward march, and the reigning family were left to
their own resources, to reconcile as they could the heterogeneous
materials stranded by the receding tide of revolution. But concession
formed no part of their character, and reconciliation was an unknown
element in their plan of government. They took possession of the throne
as though they had only been absent on a pleasure excursion, and,
ignoring twenty years of _parvenu_ glory, affected to be merely
continuing an uninterrupted sovereignty. The pithy remark of Talleyrand,
that "they had learned nothing and forgotten nothing," was abundantly
verified. Close following in their wake, came hordes of emigrants
famished by long exile and clamorous for the restitution of ancient
privileges. There was nothing in common between them and the men of the
Republic, or of the Empire. They assumed an air of superiority, which
the latter answered with the most undisguised contempt. Ridicule, that
fearful political engine, which, especially in France, is sufficient to
batter down the hopes of any aspirant who lays himself open to it, and
which Napoleon himself, in his greatest power, feared more than foreign
armies or intestine conspiracies, was most unsparingly directed against
them. The print-shops exposed them in every possible form of caricature,
the theatres burlesqued their pretensions, songs and epigrams
contributed to their discomfiture, and all the ingenuity of a witty
and laughter-loving people was unmercifully poured out upon this
resurrection of antediluvian remains. Their royal patrons came in for a
full share of the general derision, but they seemed entirely unmindful
that there was such a thing as popular opinion, or any other will than
their own. There were objects all around them which might have preached
to them of the uncertainty of human grandeur and the vanity of kingly
pride, reminding them that there is but a step from the palace to the
scaffold, which step had been taken by more than one of their family.
The walls of their abode were yet marked by musket-balls, mementos of
a day of appalling violence, and from the windows they could see the
public square where the guillotine had permanently stood and the
pavement had been crimsoned with the blood of their race. They had
awakened from a long sleep, among a new order of men, who were strangers
to them, and who looked upon them as beings long since buried, but
now, unnaturally and indecorously, protruded upon living society. They
commenced by placing themselves in antagonism to the nation, and erected
a barrier which effectually divided them from the people. The history of
the Republic and the Empire was to be blotted out; it was a forbidden
theme in their presence, and whatever reminded them of it was carefully
hidden from their legitimate vision. The remains of the Old Guard were
removed to the provinces or drafted into new regiments; leaders, whose
very names stirred France like the blast of a trumpet, were almost
unknown in the royal circle; and the great Exile was never to be
mentioned without the liability to a charge of treason.
During all this time of change, the youth of France, shut up in schools
and colleges, kept pace with the outer world in information, and
outstripped it in manifestations of feeling. I can judge of public
sentiment only by inferences drawn from occasional observation, or the
recorded opinions of others. I believe that many did not regret the fall
of Napoleon, being weary of perpetual war, and hoping that the accession
of the Bourbons would establish permanent peace. I believe that those
who had attained the summit of military rank were not unwilling to pass
some portion of their lives in the luxury of their own homes. I believe
that there were mothers who rejoiced that the dreaded conscription had
ended, and that their sons were spared to them. I believe all this,
because I understood it so to be. But whatever may have been the hopes
of the lovers of tranquillity, or the wishes of warriors worn out in
service, or the maternal instincts which would avert the iron hand
clutching at new victims for the shrine of Moloch, I can answer that the
boys remained staunch Bonapartists, for I was in the midst of them, and
I have the fullest faith that those about me were exponents of the whole
generation just entering on the stage of action. During the decline of
the Empire, when defeat might be supposed to have quenched the fire of
their enthusiasm, they remained unchanged, firmly trusting that glory
would retrace her steps and once more follow the imperial eagles. And
now, when their idol was overthrown, their veneration had not diminished
nor wavered. Napoleon, with his four hundred grenadiers, at Elba, was
still the Emperor; and those who, as they conceived, had usurped his
government, received no small share of hatred and execration. Amidst
abandonment and ingratitude, when some deserted and others reviled him,
the boys were true as steel. It was not solely because the career which
was open to them closed with his abdication, but a nobler feeling of
devotion animated them in his hour of trial, and survived his downfall.
Many of our instructors were well satisfied with the new state of
things. Some of the older ones had been educated as priests, and were
officiating in their calling, when the Revolution broke in upon them,
trampling alike on sacred shrine and holy vestment. The shaven crown was
a warrant for execution, and it rolled beneath the guillotine, or fell
by cold-blooded murder at the altar where it ministered. Infuriated
mobs hunted them like bloodhounds; and the cloisters of convent and
monastery, which had hitherto been disturbed only by footsteps gliding
quietly from cell to chapel, or the hum of voices mingling in devotion,
now echoed the tread of armed ruffians and resounded with ribaldry and
imprecations. An old man, who was for a time my teacher, told me many a
tale of those days. He had narrowly escaped, once, by concealing himself
under the floor of his room. He said that he felt the pressure, as
his pursuers repeatedly passed over him, and could hear their avowed
intention to hang him at the next lamp-post,--a mode of execution not
uncommon, when hot violence could not wait the slow processes of law.
These men saw in the Restoration a hope that the good old times would
come back,--that the crucifix would again be an emblem of temporal
power, mightier than the sword,--that the cowled monk would become the
counsellor of kings, and once more take his share in the administration
But if they expected to commence operations by subjecting their pupils
to their own legitimate standard, and to bring about a tame acquiescence
in the existing order of things, they were wofully mistaken.
Conservatism never struggled with a more determined set of radicals.
Their life and action were treason. They talked it, and wrote it, and
sang it. There was no form in which they could express it that they left
untouched. They covered the walls with grotesque representations of the
royal family; they shouted out parodies of Bourbon songs; and there was
not a hero of the old _regime_, from Hugh Capet down, whose virtues were
not celebrated under the name of Napoleon. It was in vain that orders
were issued not to mention him. They might as well have told the young
rebels not to breathe. "Not mention him! They would like to see who
could stop them!" And they yelled out his name in utter defiance of
regulation and discipline.
Wonder was occasionally expressed, whether the time would come which
would restore him to France. And now "the time had come, and the man."
While the assembled sovereigns were parcelling out the farm of Europe,
in lots to suit purchasers, its late master decided to claim a few acres
for his own use, and, as he set foot on his old domain, he is said to
have exclaimed,--"The Congress of Vienna is dissolved!"
It was a beautiful afternoon of early spring, when a class returned from
the Lyceum with news almost too great for utterance. One had in his hand
a coarse, dingy piece of paper, which he waved above his head, and
the others followed him with looks portending tidings of no ordinary
character. That paper was the address of Napoleon to the army, on
landing from Elba. It was rudely done, the materials were of the most
common description, the print was scarcely legible,--but it was headed
with the imperial eagle, and it contained words which none of his old
soldiers could withstand. How it reached Paris, simultaneously with the
intelligence of his landing, is beyond my comprehension; but copies of
it were rapidly circulated, and all the inhabitants of Paris knew its
contents before they slept that night.
I know of no writer who has so thoroughly understood the wonderful
eloquence of Napoleon as Lord Brougham. He has pronounced the address
to the Old Guard, at Fontainebleau, "a masterpiece of dignified and
pathetic composition"; and the speech at the Champ de Mars, he says,
"is to be placed amongst the most perfect pieces of simple and majestic
eloquence." Napoleon certainly knew well the people with whom he had to
deal, and his concise, nervous, comprehensive sentences told upon French
feeling like shocks of a galvanic battery. What would have been absurd,
if addressed to the soldiers of any other nation, was exactly the thing
to fire his own with irresistible energy. At the battle of the Pyramids
he said to them, "Forty centuries look upon your deeds," and they
understood him. He pointed to "the sun of Austerlitz," at the dawn of
many a decisive day, and they felt that it rose to look on their
eagles victorious. If the criterion of eloquence be its power over the
passions, that of Napoleon Bonaparte has been rarely equalled. It was
always the right thing at the right time, and produced precisely the
effect it aimed at. It was never more apparent than in the address in
question. There were passages which thrilled the martial spirit of the
land, and quickened into life the old associations connected with days
of glory. Marshal Ney said, at his trial, that there was one sentence[A]
in it which no French soldier could resist, and which drew the whole of
his army over to the Emperor.
[Footnote A: "La victoire marchera au pas de charge."]
Such was the paper, which was read amidst the mad demonstrations of
my schoolfellows. Their extravagance knew no limits; studies were
neglected; and the recitations, next morning, demonstrated to our
discomforted teachers that the minds of their pupils had passed the
night on the march from Cannes to Paris.
The court journals spoke lightly of the whole matter, pronounced the
"usurper" crazy, and predicted that he would be brought to the capital
in chains. There were sometimes rumors that he was defeated and
slain, and again that he was a prisoner at the mercy of the king. The
telegraphic despatches were not made public, and the utmost care was
practised by the government to conceal the fact that his continually
increasing columns were rapidly approaching. There appeared to be no
alteration in the usual routine of the royal family, and there was no
outward sign of the mortal consternation that was shaking them to the
centre of their souls. The day before the entrance of the Emperor, I
happened to be passing through the court-yard of the Tuileries, when an
array of carriages indicated that the inmates of the palace were about
to take their daily drive. As my position was favorable, I stopped to
look at the display of fine equipages, and soon saw part of the family
come down and go out, as I supposed, for their morning recreation. It
was, however, no party of pleasure, and they did not stop to take breath
until they had passed the frontiers of France. They had information
which was unknown to the public, and they thought it advisable to quit
the premises before the new lessee took possession.
The next afternoon, my father, who was at that time in Paris, called for
me, told me that a change was evidently about to take place, and wished
me to accompany him. As we passed through the streets, the noise of our
carriage was the only sound heard. Most of the shops were closed; few
persons were abroad, and we scarcely met or passed a single vehicle. As
we drew near the Tuileries the evidences of life increased, and when we
drove into the Place du Carrousel, the quadrangle formed by the palace
and the Louvre, the whole immense area was filled with people; yet the
stillness was awful. Men talked in an undertone, as they stood grouped
together, apparently unwilling to communicate their thoughts beyond
their particular circle. The sound of wheels and the appearance of the
carriage caused many to rush towards us; but, seeing strangers, they let
us pursue our way until we drew up near the Arch of Triumph.
It was a strange sight, that sea of heads all around us heaving in
portentous silence at the slightest incident. They felt that something,
they hardly knew what, was about to take place. They were ignorant of
the exact state of things; and as the royal standard was still on the
palace, they supposed the king might be there. Now and then, a few
officers, having an air of authority, would walk firmly and quickly
through the crowd, as though they knew their errand and were intent on
executing it. Again, a band of Polytechnic scholars, always popular with
the mob, would be cheered as they hurried onward. Occasionally, small
bodies of soldiers passed, going to relieve guard; and as they bore
the Bourbon badge, they were sometimes noticed by a feeble cry of
allegiance. At last, a drum was heard at one of the passages, and a
larger number of troops entered the square. They were veteran-looking
warriors, and bore upon them the marks of dust-stained travel. Their
bronzed faces were turned towards the flag that floated over the
building, and, as they marched directly towards the entrance, the
multitude crowded around them, and a few voices cried, "Vive le Roi!"
The commanding officer cast a proud look about him, took off his cap,
raised it on the point of his sword, showing the tricolored cockade, and
shouted, "Vive l'Empereur!" The charm was broken; and such a scene as
passed before me no man sees twice in this world. All around those armed
men there burst a cry which, diverging from that centre, spread to
the outer border, till every voice of that huge mass was shrieking in
perfect frenzy. Those nearest to the soldiers rushed upon them, hugging
them like long-lost friends; some danced, or embraced the man next to
them; some laughed like maniacs, and some cried outright. The place,
where a few minutes before there arose only a confused hum of suppressed
whisperings, now roared like a rock-bound sea-coast in a tempest. As if
by magic, men appeared decorated with tricolored ribbons, and all joined
with the soldiers in moving directly toward the place where the white
flag was flapping its misplaced triumph over eyes which glared at it in
hatred and hands which quivered to rend it piecemeal. Their wishes were
anticipated; for the foremost rank had scarcely reached the threshold
of the palace, when down went the ensign of the Bourbons, and the
much-loved tricolor streamed out amidst thunder shouts which seemed to
shake the earth.
A revolution was accomplished. One dynasty had supplanted another;
and an epoch, over which the statesman ponders and the historian
philosophizes, appeared to be as much a matter-of-course sort of thing
as the removal of one family from a mansion to make room for another.
In this case, however, the good old custom of leaving the tenement in
decent condition was neglected; the last occupants having been too
precipitate in their departure to conform to the usages of good
housekeeping by consulting the comfort and convenience of their
successor. On the contrary, to solace themselves for the mortification
of ejection, the retiring household pocketed some of the loose articles,
denominated crown jewels, which were afterwards recovered, however, by a
swap for one of the family, who was impeded in his retreat and flattered
into the presumption that he was worth exchanging.
We alighted from our carriage and passed through the basement-passage of
the palace into the garden. We walked to the further end, encountering
people who had heard the shouting and were hurrying to ascertain its
meaning. At a bend of the path we met Mr. Crawford, our Minister at
Paris, with Mr. Erving, U.S. Minister to Spain, and they eagerly
inquired, "What news?" My father turned, and, walking back with them a
few steps to where the building was visible, pointed to the standard at
its summit. Nothing more was necessary. It told the whole story.
I left them and hurried back to the institution to which I belonged. I
was anxious to relate the events of the day, and, as I was the only one
of the pupils who had witnessed them, I had a welcome which might well
have excited the jealousy of the Emperor. As far as the school was
concerned, I certainly divided honors with him that evening. It was,
however, a limited copartnership, and expired at bedtime.
Napoleon entered the city about eight o'clock that night. We were nearly
two miles from his line of progress, but we could distinctly trace it
by the roar of voices, which sounded like a continuous roll of distant
I saw him, two days after, at a window of the Tuileries. I stopped
directly under the building, where twenty or thirty persons had
assembled, who were crying out for him with what seemed to me most
presumptuous familiarity. They called him "Little Corporal,"--"Corporal
of the Violet,"--said they wanted to see him, and that he _must_ come to
the window. He looked out twice during the half-hour I staid there, had
on the little cocked hat which has become historical, smiled and nodded
good-naturedly, and seemed to consider that something was due from him
to the "many-headed" at that particular time. Such condescension was not
expected or given in his palmy days, but he felt now his dependence on
the people, and had been brought nearer to them by misfortune.
It was said, at the time, that he was much elated on his arrival, but
that he grew reserved, if not depressed, as his awful responsibility
became more and more apparent. He had hoped for a division in the Allied
Councils, but they were firm and united, and governed only by the
unalterable determination to overwhelm and destroy him. He saw that
his sole reliance was on the chances of war; that he had to encounter
enemies whose numbers were inexhaustible, and who, having once dethroned
him, would no longer be impeded by the terror of his name. There was,
besides, no time to recruit his diminished battalions, or to gather the
munitions of war. The notes of preparation sounded over Europe, and
already the legions of his foes were hastening to encircle France with
a cordon of steel. The scattered relics of the "Grand Army" which had
erected and sustained his empire were hastily collected, and, as they in
turn reached Paris, were reviewed on the Carrousel and sent forward to
concentre on the battle-ground that was to decide his fate. No branch of
art was idle that could contribute to the approaching conflict. Cannon
were cast with unprecedented rapidity, and the material of war was
turned out to the extent of human ability. But he was deficient in
everything that constitutes an army. Men, horses, arms, equipage, all
were wanting. The long succession of dreadful wars which had decimated
the country had also destroyed, beyond the possibility of immediate
repair, that formidable arm which had decided so many battles, and which
is peculiarly adapted to the impetuosity of the French character. The
cavalry was feeble, and it was evident, even to an unpractised eye, as
the columns marched through the streets, that the horses were unequal to
their riders. The campaign of Moscow had been irretrievably disastrous
to this branch of the service. Thirty thousand horses had perished in
a single night, and the events which succeeded had almost entirely
exhausted this indispensable auxiliary in the tactics of war.
The expedients to which the government was reduced were evident in
the processions of unwashed citizens, which paraded the streets as a
demonstration of the popular determination to "do or die." Whatever
could be raked from the remote quarters of Paris was marshalled before
the Emperor. Faubourgs, which in the worst days of the Revolution had
produced its worst actors, now poured out their squalid and motley
inhabitants, and astonished the more refined portions of the metropolis
with this eruption of semi-civilization.
[To be continued.]
MY JOURNAL TO MY COUSIN MARY.
I can no longer complain that I see no one but Kate, for she has an
ardent admirer in one of our neighbors. He comes daily to watch her, in
the Dumbiedikes style of courtship, and seriously interferes with our
quiet pursuits. Besides this "braw wooer," we have another intruder upon
Kate told me, a fortnight ago, that she expected a young friend of hers,
a Miss Alice Wellspring, to pay her a visit of some weeks. I did not
have the ingratitude to murmur aloud, but I was secretly devoured by
How irksome, to have to entertain a young lady; to be obliged to talk
when I did not feel inclined; to listen when I was impatient and weary;
to have to thank her, perhaps fifty times a day, for meaningless
expressions of condolence or affected pity; to tell her every morning
how I was! Intolerable!
Ten chances to one, she was a giggling, flirting girl,--my utter
abhorrence. I had seldom heard Lina speak of her. I only knew that she
and her half-brother came over from Europe in the same vessel with my
sister, and that, as he had sailed again, the young lady was left rather
desolate, having no near relatives.
Miss Wellspring arrived a week ago, and I found that my fears had been
groundless. She is an unaffected, pretty little creature,--a perfect
child, with the curliest chestnut hair, deep blue eyes, and the
brightest cheeks, lips, and teeth. She has a laugh that it is a
pleasure to hear, and a quick blush which tempts to mischief. One wants
continually to provoke it, it is so pretty, and the slightest word of
compliment calls it up.
What the cherry is to the larger and more luscious fruits, or the lily
of the valley to glowing and stately flowers, or what the Pleiades
are among the grander constellations, my sister's _protegee_ is among
women;--it is ridiculous to call her Kate's _friend_. Many men would
find their ideal of loveliness in her. She would surely excite a tender,
protecting, cherishing affection. But where is there room in her for the
wondering admiration, the loving reverence, which would make an attempt
to win her an _aspiration?_ And that is what my love must be, if it is
to have dominion over me.
Ah, Mary! I forget continually that for me there is no such joy in the
"Hope springs eternal in the human breast,"
and no reasoning can quell it. I subdue my fancy to my fate sometimes,
as a rational creature ought surely to do; but then I suffer acutely,
and am wretched; while in a careless abandonment of myself to any and
every dream of coming joy I find present contentment. I cannot help
myself. I shall continue to dream, I am sure, until I have grown so old
that I can resign all earthly hopes without sighing. I pray to be spared
the sight of any object which, by rousing within me the desire of
present possession, may renew the struggle with despair, to which I
nearly succumbed when my profession was wrenched from me.
I was at first surprised to find that my sister cherished a more
exceeding tenderness for her young friend than I had ever seen her
manifest for any one; but my astonishment ceased when I found out that
Alice's half-brother, who bears a different name, is the gentleman I saw
with Kate in the box-tree arbor.
Since she has been here, Alice has been occupied in writing to different
relatives about the arrangements for her future home,--a matter that
is still unsettled. She brings almost all her letters to us, to be
corrected; for she has a great dread of orthographic errors.
I was lying upon my couch, in the porch, yesterday, and through the low
window I could see Alice as she sat at her writing-desk. Kate was sewing
beside her, but just out of my sight. The young girl's hand flew over
the paper, and a bright smile lighted up her face as she wrote.
"This is a different kind of letter from yesterday's, I fancy," said
Kate,--"not a business, but a pleasure letter."
"Yes, so it is: for it is to Brother Walter, and all about you! When
he wrote to tell me to love you and think much of your advice, and all
that, he said something else, which requires a full answer, I can tell
Kate was silent. The letter was finished, and Alice sprang up, tired of
her long application. I heard her kiss my sister, who then said, with a
lame attempt at unconcern,--
"I suppose I am to look over your letter while you run about to rest
Alice quickly answered, "No, thank you. I won't give you the trouble.
The subject will make Walter blind to faults."
"But do you suppose that I have no curiosity as to what you have said
"I have said nothing but good. A little boasting about your conquests is
the worst. I mention your Dumbiedikes most flatteringly. I don't make
fun of him. I only want to scare Walter a bit."
"But, Alice, you don't know the circumstances. Do let me see the letter;
it may be important"----
"No, no! you shall never see it! Indeed, no!" cried the girl, running
across the porch and down the garden. She did not want any fastidious
caution to suppress the fine things she had said, or cause the trouble
of writing another letter. So she ran out of hearing of the entreaties
of her friend.
Ben came to the door to say that Old Soldier and the cabriolet were
ready for my daily drive. While we were gone, the boy would call and
take Alice's letter to the post. The writer of it was out of sight and
hearing. Here was a dilemma!
Kate threw her thimble and scissors into her box without her usual care,
and I heard her walking to and fro. She passed the window at every turn,
and I could see that her cheek was very pale, her eyes fixed upon the
floor, and her finger pressed to her lip. She was thinking intently, in
perfect abstraction. I could see the desk with the open letter upon it.
At every turn Kate drew nearer to it.
It was a moment of intense temptation to my sister. I knew it, and I
watched her struggles with a beating heart. It was a weighty matter with
her. A belief in a successful rival might give Mr. ---- pain,--might
cause him to doubt her truth and affection,--might induce him to forget
her, or cast her off in bitter indignation at her supposed fickleness.
I could see in her face her alarm at these suppositions. Yes, it was a
great temptation to do a very dishonorable action. A word from me would
have ended the trial; for it is only in solitude that we are thus
assailed. But then where would have been her merit? I should only cheat
her out of the sweetest satisfaction in life,--a victory over a wicked
suggestion. My presence would make the Evil One take to flight, and now
she was wrestling with him. I felt sure she would not be conquered; for
I could not have looked on to see her defeat. But who can estimate the
power of a woman's curiosity, where the interests which are her very
life are concerned?
She paused by the desk. The letter was upside down to her. Her hand was
upon it to turn it, and she said boldly, aloud,--having forgotten me
"I have a _right_ to know what she says."
Then there was a hesitating pause, while she trembled on the brink of
dishonor,--then a revulsion, and an indignant "Pshaw!"
It was a contemptuous denial of her own flimsy self-justification. She
snatched away her hand, as she said it, with an angry frown. The blood
rushed back to her face.
"I ought to be ashamed of myself!" she exclaimed, energetically. In a
minute she was bustling about, putting away her things. In passing
the window, now that she was freed from the thraldom of her intense
thinking, she saw me lying where I might have been the witness to her
inclination to wrong.
She started guiltily, and then began bunglingly to draw from me whether
I had noticed anything of it. I took her hands, and looked her full in
"I love you and honor you from the very bottom of my soul, Kate!"
"Not now! You can't! You must despise me!" she answered, turning away
with a swelling bosom.
"I declare I never held you in so high estimation. Evil thoughts must
come, even to the holiest saint; but only those who admit and welcome
them are guilty,--not those who repel and conquer them. Surely not!"
"Thank you, Charlie. That is encouraging and comforting doctrine; and I
think it is true. But what a lesson I have had to-day!"
"Yes, it has been a striking one. I will write about it to Mary."
"Oh, no! for mercy's sake don't expose me further!"
"Then you wish her to think you are too immaculate to be even tempted!
stronger, purer even than our Saviour! for he knew temptation. You are
above it,--are you? Come, Kate,--insincerity, pretension, and cowardice
are not your failings, and I shall tell Mary of this incident, which
has deeply moved me, and will, I know, really interest her. Here comes
The little lady presented herself before us all smiles, concealing one
hand under her apron.
"Who's lost what I've found?" she cried.
"One of us, of course," said Kate.
"No, neither, so far as I know; but it nearly concerns you, Miss Lina,
and I intend to drive a hard bargain."
"What are your terms?"
"Promise faithfully to tell me how it came where I found it, and I will
show it to you,--yes, give it to you,--though, perhaps, I have the best
claim to it, as nearest of kin to the owner."
Kate changed color, but would not betray too much eagerness.
"I cannot promise," she replied, trying for coolness,--"but if I can, I
will tell you all you want to know about it."
Alice could hide it no longer. She held up a ring, with a motto on it in
blue enamel. I had seen it upon Kate's finger, but not recently.
"Where did you find it?" asked my sister, with difficulty. She was very
"In the box-tree arbor. How came it there? It _was_ Watty's, for I was
with him when he bought it in Venice. I can believe that it is yours;
but how came it lost, and trampled into the earth? Didn't you care for
She questioned with an arch smile. She knew better than that, and she
was burning with curiosity to understand why finding it moved Kate so
deeply. She had a young girl's curiosity about love-affairs. I came to
the conclusion that Kate had offered to return the ring on the day they
parted, and that it fell to the ground, disregarded by both, occupied,
as they were, with great emotions.
"Come," continued Alice,--"did he, or you, throw it away? Speak, and you
shall have it."
"I can tell you nothing about it, and I will not claim your
treasure-trove. Keep it, Ally."
"Indeed, I won't keep other folks' love-tokens! There,--it belongs on
that finger, I know! But do tell me about it!--do! I will tell you
something, if you will. Yes, indeed, I have got a secret you would give
anything to know! Walter told it to me, and it is about you. He spoke of
it in his last letter, and said he meant to--Come, I'll tell you, though
he said I mustn't, if you will only let me into the mystery of this
ring. The secret is in my letter, and I will let you read it, if you
Lina looked at me with meaning eyes. The contents of the letter were
doubled in value by this confession, and yet this was no temptation at
all. She was not alone.
"You foolish little thing," she said, kissing the sweet, entreating
face, "do you suppose I will tell you my secrets, when you are so easily
bribed to betray your brother's?"
Alice's conscience was alarmed.
"Why!" she ejaculated. "How near I came to betraying confidence,--and
without meaning to do it, either! Oh, how glad I am you did not let me
go on so thoughtlessly! I should have been so sorry for it afterwards! I
know Walter will tell you himself, some day,--but I have no business to
do it, especially as he did not voluntarily make me his confidante; I
found out the affair by accident, and he bound me to secresy. Oh, I
thank you for stopping me when I was forgetting everything in my eager
curiosity! And this letter, too, I offered to show you! How strangely
"Perhaps I read it while you were gone," said Kate, in a low voice.
"No, you didn't, Kate! You can't make me believe that of you! I know you
"Indeed!" said Kate, blushing violently; "I can tell you, I came very
"'A miss is as good as a mile,' Lina. And I know you were far enough
from anything so mean."
"I was so near as to have my hand upon your letter, Alice dear. One
feather's weight more stress of temptation, and I should have fallen."
"Pure nonsense! Isn't it, Charles?"
"Yes. Kate, you need not flatter yourself that you have universal
ability, clever as you are. In anything dishonorable you are a perfect
incapable, and that is all you have proved this morning."
New York; July.
I was too comfortable, Mary! Such peace could not last, any more than a
soft Indian-summer can put off relentless winter.
Oh, for those sweet June days when I had my couch wheeled to the deepest
shade of the grove, and lay there from morning until evening, with the
green foliage to curtain me,--the clover-scented wind to play about my
hair, and touch my temples with softest, coolest fingers,--the rushing
brook to sing me to sleep,--the very little blossoms to be obsequious
in dancing motion, to please my eye,--and the holy hush of Nature to
tranquillize my soul!
I had brought myself, by what I thought the most Christian effort, to
be content with my altered lot. I gave up ambition, active usefulness,
fireside, and family. I tried but for one thing,--peace.
I had nearly attained it, when there comes an impertinent officer of
fate, known as Dr. G., and he peremptorily orders me out of my gentle
bliss. I am sinking into apathy, forsooth! The warm weather is
prostrating me! I must be stirred to activity by torture, like the
fainting wretch on the rack! I am commanded to travel! I, who cannot
bear the grating of my slow-moving wheels over the smooth gravel-walk,
without compressed lips and corrugated brow!
The Doctor ordained it; Kate executed it. I am no longer my own master;
and so here I am in New York, resting for a day, on my way to some
retired springs in the Green Mountains, where the water is medicinal,
the air cool and bracing, the scenery transcendent, and the visitors
I have taken Ben for my valet. He looks quite a gentleman when dressed
in his Sunday clothes, and his Scotch shrewdness serves us many a good
turn. He has the knack of arresting any little advantages floating on
the stream of travel, and securing them for our benefit.
I journey on my wheeled couch from necessity, as I have not been able to
sit up at all since the heats of June set in. So I have, in this trip, a
novel experience,--on the railroad, being consigned to the baggage car,
and upon the steamboat, to the forward deck. I cannot endure the
close saloons, and prefer the fresh breeze, even when mingled with
tobacco-smoke. I go as freight, and Kate keeps a sharp eye to her
baggage, for she will not leave my side. I tried to flatter her by
saying that the true order of things was reversed,--her sex being
entitled to that name and position, and mine to the relation she now
bore to me. She had the perversity to consider this a _twit_, and gave
me a stinging reply, which I will not repeat to you, because you are a
woman likewise, and would enjoy it too much.
We left peaceful, green Bosky Dell late in the afternoon, and slept in
Philadelphia that night. Yesterday--the hottest day of the season--we
set out for New York. I thought it was going to be sultry, when, as we
passed Washington Square before sunrise, on our way to the boat, I saw
the blue haze among the trees, as still and soft and hay-scented as if
in the country. Ben often quotes an old Scotch proverb,--"Daylight will
peep through a sma' hole." So beauty will peep through every small
corner that is left to Nature, even under severe restrictions. Witness
our noble trees, walled in by houses and cramped by pavements!
The streets were quite deserted that morning,--for, being obliged to
ride very slowly, I had set out betimes. No one was up but ourselves and
the squirrels, except one wren, whose twittering sounded strangely loud
in the hushed city. Probably she took that opportunity to try her voice
and note her improvement in singing, for in the rush of day what chance
has she? These country sounds and sights, in the heart of a populous
city, were, for that reason, a thousand-fold more sweet to me than ever.
Their delights were multiplied to me by thinking of the number of hearts
that took them in daily.
Kate and I rode in a carriage. Ben followed in a wagon, with the trunks
and "jaunting-car-r-r." When we reached the ferry, the porters carried
my couch, and Ben myself, depositing us upon the deck, where I could
look upon the river. The stately flow of the waters impressed me with
dread. They swept by, not swift, not slow,--steady, like fate. Ours
may be a dull river to an artist; but its volume of water, its width,
perhaps even the flat shores, which do not seem to bound it, make it
grand and impressive.
Kate recalled me from my almost shuddering gaze down into the water, and
drew my attention to a scene very unlike our little picturesque, rural
views at home. The ruddy light of morning made the river glow like the
deep-dyed Brenta, while our dear, unpretending Quaker city showed like
one vast structure of ruby. Vessels of all kinds and sizes (though of
but two colors,--black in shadow, and red in sunlight) lay motionless,
The New York passengers had now collected on the ferry-boat, and I was
all alive to impressions of every kind. A crowd of men and boys around
a soap-peddler burst into a laugh, and I must needs shout out in
irrepressible laughter also, though I did not hear the joke. I was
delighted to mingle my voice with other men's in one common feeling.
Compulsory solitude makes us good democrats. Kate regarded me with
watchful eyes; she was afraid I had become delirious! I was amazed at
myself for this susceptibility,--I, who, accustomed to hotel-life, had
formerly been so impassive, to be thus tickled with a straw!
The river was soon crossed, and then we took the cars. The heat and
suffocation were intolerable to me, and when we arrived at Amboy I was
so exhausted that strangers thought me dying. But Kate again, though
greatly alarmed herself, defended me from that imputation. One half-hour
on the deck of the boat to New York, with the free ocean-breeze blowing
over me, made me a strong man again,--I mean, strong as usual. It was
inexpressible delight, that ocean-breeze. It makes me draw a long breath
to think of it, and its almost miraculous power of invigoration. But
I will not rhapsodize to one who thinks no more of a sea-breeze every
afternoon than of dessert after dinner.
With my strength, my sense of amusement at what went on about me revived
in full force. I was so absorbed, that I could not take in the meaning
of anything Kate said to me, unless I fixed my eyes, by a great effort,
upon her face. So she let me stare about me undisturbed, and smiled like
some indulgent mother, amused at my boyishness. I had no idea that so
few months spent in seclusion would make the bustling world so novel to
Observe, Mary, that I did not become purely egotistical, until I began
to mingle again with "the crowd, the hum, the shock of men." Henceforth
I shall not be able to promise you any other topic than my own
experiences. My individuality is thrust upon my notice momently by my
isolation in this crowd. In solitude I did not dream what a contrast I
had become to my kind. Those strong, quick, shrewd business-men on the
boat set it before me glaringly.
Soon after I was established upon the forward deck, my attention was
attracted by two boys lying close under the bulwarks. I was struck by
their foreign dress, their coarse voices, and their stupid faces. Two
creatures, I thought, near akin to the beasts of the field. They cowered
in their sheltered corner, and soon fell asleep. One of the busy
boat-hands found them in his way, and gave them a shove or two, but
failed to arouse them. He looked hard at them, pitied their fatigue,
and left them undisturbed. Presently an old Irish woman, a
cake-and-apple-vendor, I suppose, sat down near them upon a coil of
rope, and took from her basket a fine large cherry-pie, which appeared
to be the last of her stock, and reserved as a tit-bit for her dinner.
She turned it round, and eyed it fondly, before she cut it carefully
into many equal parts. Then, with huge satisfaction, she began to devour
it, making a smacking of the lips and working of the whole apparatus
of eating, which proved that she intensely appreciated the uses of
mastication, or else found a wonderful joy in it. "How much above an
intelligent pig is she?" I asked myself.
While I was pondering this question, I saw that the boy nearest her
stirred in his sleep, struggled uneasily with his torpor, and at last
lifted his head blindly with his eyes yet shut. He sniffed in the
air, like a hungry dog. Yes! The odor of food had certainly reached
him,--that sniff confirmed it,--and his eyes starting open, he sat up,
and looked with grave steadiness at the pie. It was just the face of a
dog that sees a fine piece of beef upon his master's table. He knows it
is not for him,--he has no hope of it,--he does not go about to get it,
nor think of the possibility of having it,--yet he wants it!
It was a look of unmitigated desire. The woman had disposed of half
of her dainty fare, taking up each triangular piece by the crust, and
biting off the point, dripping with cherry-juice, first, when her
wandering gaze alighted upon the boy. She had another piece just poised,
but she slowly lowered it to the plate, and stared at the hungry face. I
expected her to snarl like a cat, snatch her food and go away. But she
didn't. She counted the pieces,--there were five. She eyed them, and
shook her head. She again raised the tempting morsel,--for the woman was
unmistakably hungry. But the boy's steady look drew the pie from her
lips, and she suddenly held out the plate to him, saying, "There,
honey,--take that. May-be ne'er a morsel's passed yer lips the day." The
boy seized the unexpected boon greedily, but did not forget to give a
duck of his head, by way of acknowledgment. The woman leaned her elbows
on her knees, and watched him while he was devouring it.
He had demolished two pieces before the other boy awoke at the sound of
eating, which, however, at last reached his ears and aroused him, though
the shout and kick of the boat-hand had not disturbed him. He drew close
to his companion, and watched him with watering mouth, but did not dare
to ask him for a share of what he seemed little disposed to part with.
The big boy finished the third piece, and hesitated about the fourth;
but no, he was a human being,--no brute. He thrust the remainder into
his watcher's hands, and turned his back upon him, so as not to be
tantalized. Beasts indeed! Here were two instances of self-denial,
nowhere to be matched in the whole animal creation, except in that race
which is but little lower than the angels!
Among the young gentlemen smoking around us, there was one who drew my
attention, and that of every other person present, by his jolly laugh.
He was a short man, with broad shoulders and full chest, but otherwise
slight. He was very good-looking, and had the air of a perfect man of
the world,--but not in any disagreeable sense of the word, for a more
genial fellow I never saw. His _ha! ha!_ was irresistible. Wherever he
took his merry face, good-humor followed. He had a smart clap on the
shoulder for one, a hearty hand-shake for another, a jocular nod for
a third. I envied those whose company he sought,--even those whom he
Presently, to my agreeable surprise, he drew near me, threw away his
cigar, on Kate's account, and said,--
"Lend me a corner of this machine, Sir? No seats to be had."
"Certainly," I responded eagerly, and then, with a bow to Kate, he sat
down upon the foot of my couch. He turned his handsome, roguish face to
me, with a look at once quizzical and tenderly commiserating, while he
rattled off all sorts of lively nonsense about the latest news. The
captain, who pitied my situation, I suppose, came up just then, to ask
if anything could be done to make me more comfortable; and he happened
to call both the stranger and myself by our names. I thus learned that
his was Ryerson.
When he heard mine, he changed color visibly, and looked eagerly at
Kate. I introduced him, and then, with a timidity quite unlike his
former dashing air, he said he had the pleasure of being acquainted with
an admiring friend of hers,--Miss Alice Wellspring. Had she heard from
"Yes; she was very well, staying with her aunt."
He was aware of that. He had asked the question, because he thought he
could, perhaps, give later information of her than Kate possessed, and
set her mind at rest about the welfare of her young friend, as she must
be anxious. He was glad to say that Miss Wellspring was quite well--two
Kate made a grimace at me, and answered, that she was "glad to hear it."
Mr. Ryerson looked unutterably grateful, and said he was "sure she must
"Portentous!" whispered Kate to me, when the young man made a passing
sloop the excuse for turning away to hide his blushing temples.
She gave him time, and then asked a few questions concerning Alice's
home and friends. He replied, that she was in "a wretched fix." Her aunt
was a vixen, her home a rigorous prison. He sighed deeply, and seemed
unhappy, until the subject was changed,--a relief which Kate had too
much tact to defer long.
This sunny-hearted fellow made the rest of the journey very short to
me. I think such a spirit is Heaven's very best boon to man. It is a
delightful possession for one's self, and a godsend to one's friends.
When we reached the Astor House, I was put to bed, like a baby, in the
middle of the afternoon, thoroughly exhausted by the unusual excitement.
The crickets and grasshoppers in the fields at home were sufficiently
noisy to make me pass wakeful nights; but now I dropped asleep amid the
roar of Broadway, which my open windows freely admitted.
Before I had finished my first nap, I was awakened by whispering voices,
and saw Ben standing by me, pale, and anxiously searching Kate's face
for information. Her eyes were upon her watch, her fingers on my wrist.
"Pulse good, Ben. We need not be alarmed. It is wholesome repose,--much
better than nervous restlessness. He can bear the journey, if he gets
such sleep as this."
"Humph!" I thought, shutting my eyes crossly. "Why don't she let a
fellow be in peace, then? It is very hard that I can't get a doze
without being meddled with!"
"I was just distraught, Miss Kathleen," said Ben; "for it's nigh about
twenty hour sin' he dropped asleep, and I was frighted ontil conshultin'
ye aboot waukin' him."
I burst into a laugh, and they both joined me in it, from surprise. It
is not often I call upon them for that kind of sympathy. It is generally
in sighs and groans that I ask them--most unwillingly, I am sure--to
Kate wrote, some time ago, to our dear little Alice, begging her to join
us in the Green Mountains, for it makes us both unhappy to think of that
pretty child under iron rule; but her aunt refused to let her come to
C---- Springs. July.
I am here established, drinking the waters and breathing the mountain
air, but not gaining any marvellous benefit from either of them. When I
repine in Ben's hearing, he sighs deeply, and advises me "to heed the
auld-warld proverb, and 'tak' things by their smooth handle, sin'
there's nae use in grippin' at thorns." Kate, too, reproves me for
hindering my recovery by fretting at its tardiness. She tries to comfort
me, by saying that I ought to be thankful, that, instead of being
obliged to waste my youth in "horrid business," I can lie here observing
and enjoying the beautiful world. Thereupon I overwhelm her with
quotations:--"The horse must be road-worn and world-worn, that he may
thoroughly enjoy his drowsy repose in the sun, where he winks in sleepy
satisfaction";--and Carlyle: "Teufelsdroeckh's whole duty and necessity
was, like other men's, to work in the right direction, and no work was
to be had; whereby he became wretched enough";--and, "Blessed is he who
has found his work; let him ask no other blessedness." Then I ask her,
if it is not the utmost wretchedness to have found that work and felt
its blessedness, and then be condemned _not_ to do it. To all this she
replies by singing that old hymn,--I make no apology for writing it down
entire,--perhaps you do not know it,--
"Heart, heart, lie still!
Life is fleeting fast;
Strife will soon be past."
"I cannot lie still;
Beat strong I will."
"Heart, heart, lie still!
Joy's but joy, and pain's but pain;
Either, little loss or gain."
"I cannot lie still;
Beat strong I will."
"Heart, heart, lie still!
Heaven over all
Rules this earthly ball."
"I cannot lie still;
Beat strong I will."
"Heart, heart, lie still!
Heaven's sweet grace alone
Can keep in peace its own."
"Let that me fill,
And I am still."
"Heaven's sweet grace" does not fill my heart; for I am exhausting
myself in longings to walk again,--to be independent. I long to climb
these mountains,--perverse being that I am,--principally to get out of
the way of counsel, sympathy, and tender care. Since I can never so
liberate myself, I am devoured by desire to do so. Kate divines this
new feeling, and respects it; but as this is only another coal of fire
heaped upon my head, of course it does not soothe me.
Sometimes in the visions of the night I am happy. I dream that I am at
the top of Mount Washington. Cold, pure air rushes by me; clouds lie,
like a gray ocean, beneath me. I am alone upon the giant rock, with the
morning star and the measureless heights of sky. I tremble at the awful
silence,--exult fearfully in it. The clouds roll away, and leave the
world revealed, lying motionless and inanimate at my feet. Yet I am as
far from all sight of humanity as before! Should the whole nation be
swarming below the mountain, armies drawn up before armies, with my eyes
resting upon them, I should not see them, but sit here in sublime peace.
Man's puny form were from this height as undistinguishable as the blades
of grass in the meadows below. I know, that, if all the world stood
beneath, and strained their vision to the utmost upon the very spot
where I stand, I should still be in the strict privacy of invisibility.
This isolation I pine for. But I can never, never feel it--out of a
You guess rightly. I am in a repining mood, and must pour out all my
grievances. I feel my helplessness cruelly.
But I must forget myself a little while, and describe these Springs to
you, with the company here assembled,--only twenty or thirty people. The
house is a good enough one; the country yet very wild. My couch is daily
wheeled to a shady porch which looks down the avenue of trees leading to
the spring, a white marble basin, bubbling over with bright water.
Gay parties, young ladies with lovers, happy mammas with their children,
fathers with their clinging daughters, pass me,--and I, motionless,
follow them with my eyes down the avenue, until they emerge into the
sunlight about the spring. Many of them give me a kindly greeting; some
stop to stare. The look of pity which saddens nearly every face that
approaches me cuts me to the heart. Can I never give joy, or excite
pleasurable emotion? Must I always be a mute and unwilling petitioner
for sympathy in suffering!--always giving pain? never anything but pain
There is a summer-house near the spring, and now I lie there, watching
the water-drinkers. Like rain upon the just and unjust, the waters
benefit all,--but surely most those simple souls who take them with
eager hope and bless them with thankful hearts. The first who arrive
are from the hotel, mostly silken sufferers. They stand, glass in hand,
chatting and laughing,--they stoop to dip,--and then they drink. These
persons soon return to the house in groups,--some gayly exchanging
merry words or kindly greetings, but others dragging weary limbs and
discontented spirits back to loneliness.
The fashionable hour is over, and now comes another class of
health-seekers. A rough, white-covered wagon jolts up. The horse is tied
to a post, a curtain unbuttoned and raised, and from a bed upon the
uneasy floor a pale, delicate boy, shrinking from the light, is lifted
by his burly father. The child is carried to the spring, and puts out a
groping hand when his father bids him drink. He cannot find the
glass, and his father must put it to his lips. He is blind, except to
light,--and that only visits those poor sightless eyes to agonize them!
Where the water flows off below the basin in a clear jet, the father
bathes his boy's forehead, and gently, gently touches his eyelids. But
the child reaches out his wasted hands, and dashes the water against his
face with a sad eagerness.
Other country vehicles approach. The people are stopping to drink of
this water, on their way to drink of the waters of life in church. They
are smart and smiling in their Sunday clothes. I observe, that, far from
being the old or diseased, they are mostly young men and pretty girls.
The marble spring is a charming trysting-place!
There are swarms of children here all day long. This is the first time
since I left Kate's apron-string at seven years old, that I have seen
much of children. Boys, to be sure, I was with until I left college;
but the hotel-life I afterwards led kept me quite out of the way of
youngsters. Now, I am much amused at the funny little world that opens
before my notice. They flirt like grown-up people! I heard a little chit
of six say to a youth of five,--
"How dare you ask me to go to the spring with you, when you've been and
asked Ellen already? _I_ don't have to put up with half a gentleman!"
A flashy would-be lady, bustling up to the spring with her little
daughter, burst into a loud laugh at the remark of an acquaintance.
"Mamma!" said Miss, tempering severity with benign dignity,--"you must
not laugh so loud. It's vulgar."
Her mother lowered her tone, and looked subdued. Miss turned to a
companion, and said, gravely,--
"I have to speak to her about that, often. She don't like it,--but I
_must_ correct her!"
A little girl--a charming, old-fashioned, _real_ child--came into the
summer-house a few minutes ago, and I gave up my writing to watch her.
After some coy manoeuvring about the door, she drew nearer and nearer to
me, as if I were a snake fascinating a pretty bird. Her tongue
seemed more bashful than the rest of her frame; for she came within
arm's-length, let me catch her, draw her to me, and hold her close to
my side. A novel sensation of fondness for the little thing made me
venture--not without some timidity, I confess--to lay my hand upon her
head, and pass it caressingly over her soft young cheek, meanwhile
saying encouraging things to her, in hopes of hearing her voice and
making her acquaintance. She would not speak, but played with my
buttons, and hung her head. At last I asked,--
"Don't you want me to tell you a little story?"
Her head flew up, her great black eyes wide open, and she said, eagerly,
"Oh, yes! that's what I came for."
"Did you? Well, what shall it be about?"
"Why, about yourself,--the prince who was half marble, and couldn't get
up. And I want to see your black marble legs, please!"
If I had hugged an electrical eel, I could not have been more shocked! I
don't know how I replied, or what became of the child. I was conscious
only of a kind of bitter horror, and almost affright. But when Kate, a
quarter of an hour afterwards, brought her book and sat down beside me,
I could not tell her about it, for laughing.
The little girl is in sight now. She is standing near the porch, talking
to some other children, gesticulating, and shaking her curls. Probably
she was a deputy from them, to obtain a solution of the mystery of my
motionless limbs. They half believe I am the veritable Prince of the
Black Isles! They alternately listen to her and turn to stare at me; so
I know that I am the subject of their confab.
Some one is passing them now,--a lady. She pauses to listen. She, too,
glances this way with a sad smile. She comes slowly down the avenue. A
graceful, queenly form, and lovely face! She has drunk of the waters,
and is gone.
Mary, do you know that gentle girl has added the last drop of bitterness
to my cup? My lot has become unbearable. I gnash my teeth with impotent
rage and despair.
I _will_ not be the wreck I am! My awakening manhood scorns the thought
of being forever a helpless burden to others. I _demand_ my health, and
all my rights and privileges as a man,--to work,--to support others,--to
bear the burden and heat of the day! Never again can I be content in my
easy couch and my sister's shady grove!
Ah, Dr. G., you have indeed roused me from apathy! I am in torture, and
Heaven only knows whether on this side of the grave I shall ever find
Poor Kate reads my heart, and weeps daily in secret. Brave Kate, who
shed so few tears over her own grief!
C---- Springs. August.
I so continually speak of my illness, Mary, that I fear you have
good right to think me that worst kind of bore, a hypochondriac. But
something is now going on with me that raises all my hopes and fears. I
dare not speak of it to Kate, lest she should be too sanguine, and be
doomed to suffer again the crush of all her hopes.
I really feel that I could not survive disappointment, should I ever
entertain positive hope of cure. Neither can I endure this suspense
without asking some one's opinion. There is no medical man here in whom
I have confidence, and so I go to you, as a child does to its mother in
its troubles, not knowing what she can do for it, but relying upon her
to do something.
I will explain what it is that excites me to such an agony of dread and
expectation. When the little girl asked me to let her see my marble
limbs, supposing me the Prince of the Black Isles, she sprang forward in
the eagerness of childish curiosity, and touched my knee with her hand.
I was so amazed at this glimpse into her mind, that for some time I only
tingled with astonishment. But while I was telling Kate about it, it all
came back to me again,--her stunning words, her eager spring, her prompt
grasp of my knee,--and I remembered that I had involuntarily started
away from her childish hand, that is, moved my _motionless_ limb!
I tried to do it again, but it was impossible. Still I could not help
thinking that I had done it once, under the influence of that electrical
Then I have another source of hope. I have never suffered any pain in
my limbs, and they might have been really marble, for all the feeling I
have had in them. Now I begin to be sensible of a wearisome numbness and
aching, which would be hard to bear, if it were not that it gives me the
expectation of returning animation. Do you think I may expect it, and
that I am not quite deluding myself?
So I wrote two days ago, Mary, and I was right! That _was_ returning
sensation and motion. I can now move my feet. I cannot yet stand, or
walk, or help myself, any more than before; but I can, by a voluntary
Rejoice with me! I am a happy fellow this day! Dazzling daylight is
peeping through this sma' hole! Remember what I wrote of a certain
lady;--and Ben has hunted me up a law-book, which I am devouring. My
profession, and other blessings, again almost within grasp! This is
wildness, hope run riot, I know; but let me indulge to-day, for it is
this day which has set me free. I never voluntarily stirred before
since the accident,--I mean my lower limbs, of course. After writing a
sentence, I look down at my feet, moving them this way and that, to make
sure that I am not stricken again.
The day I began this letter I had proof that I had not merely fancied
movement, when the little girl startled me. A clumsy boy stumbled over
my couch, and I shrank, visibly, from receiving upon my feet the pitcher
of water he was carrying. I was in the porch. The beautiful girl who
formerly made my affliction so bitter to me was passing at the moment,
with her arm drawn affectionately through her father's. She saw the
stumble, and sprang forward with a cry of alarm. It looked, certainly,
as if my defenceless feet must receive the crash, and I attempted
instinctively to withdraw them,--partially succeeding! I saw this at the
same time that I heard the sweetest words that ever fell into my heart,
in the most joyful, self-forgetful tones of the sweetest voice!
"Oh, father! He moved! He moved!"
Mr. Winston turned to me with congratulations, shaking my hand with
warmth; and then his daughter extended hers,--cordially! Of course my
happiness was brimming!
I afterwards tried repeatedly to put my feet in motion. I could not do
it. I could not think how to begin,--what power to bring to bear upon
them. This annoyed me beyond measure, and I spent yesterday in wearisome
effort to no purpose. My thinking, willing mind was of no use to me; but
instinctive feeling, and a chapter of accidents, have brought me to my
present state of activity. A wish to change an uncomfortable position in
which Ben left me this morning restored me to voluntary action. I tried
to turn away from the sun-glare, using my elbows, as usual, for motors.
To my surprise, I found myself assisting with my feet,--and by force of
will I persisted in the effort, and continued the action. Having got the
clue to the mystery, I have now only to will and execute. My rebellious
members are brought into subjection! I am king of myself! Hurrah!
Good-bye, dearest friend. I shake my foot to you,--an action more
expressive of joyful good-will than my best bow.
I hope my return to health will not cost me dear. I begin to fear losing
the sympathy and affection of those I have learned to love so dearly,
and who have cherished me in their hearts simply because of my
infirmities. When I am a vigorous man, will you care for me? will Kate
centre her life in me? will Miss Ada Winston look at me so often and so
Well, don't laugh at me for my grasping disposition! Affection is very
grateful to me, and I should be sorry to do without it, after having
lived in a loving atmosphere so long.
I believe Ben is as proud of me as he was of his Shanghai, but he has a
proverb which he quotes whenever he sees me much elated: "When the cup's
fu', carry't even." His own cautious Scotch head could do that, perhaps;
but mine is more giddy, and I am afraid I shall spill some drops from my
full cup of joy by too rash advancing.
Kate is not so wild with delight as I am. She still forbids herself to
exult. Probably she dares not give way to unbounded hope, remembering
the bitterness of her former trial, and dreading its recurrence. She
says it makes her tremble to see my utter abandonment to joyful dreams.
It is Kate's fault that you have not received this letter before now.
She kept it to say a few words to you about my recovery, but has at last
yielded to me the pleasure of telling of something far more interesting,
which has occurred since,--not more interesting to me, but probably so
to any one else.
One evening, Kate went, with everybody from the house, to see the sunset
from the hills above this glen, and I lay alone in the back porch, in
the twilight. A light wagon drove up, and in two minutes a little lady
had run to me, thrown herself upon her knees beside me, and pressed her
sweet lips to my forehead. It was our darling little Alice Wellspring.
Immediately following her came Mr. Ryerson, in a perfect ecstasy of
laughter, and blushing.
"We've run away!" whispered she.
"And got married this morning!" said he.
"But where was the necessity of elopement?" I asked, bewildered,--Kate
having told me that Alice's aunt was doing her best to "catch Ryerson
for her niece," she having had certain information upon that point from
a near relative.
"Ha, ha, ha!" laughed he, slapping his knees in intense enjoyment, as he
sat in his old place by my feet. "It is a practical joke,--one that will
have in it what somebody calls the first element of wit,--surprise. A
more astonished and mystified old lady than she will be would be hard to
find! She was so willing!"
"Don't say anything against Aunt, Harry. I'm safe from her now, and so
are you. She wanted such an ostentatious wedding, Charlie, that I did
not like it, and Harry declared positively that he would not submit to
it. So I had just to go off quietly, and come here to Kate and you, my
best friends in the world, except Walter. After you know Harry, you
won't blame me."
It was very rash of the child, but really I cannot blame her, as I
should, if she had chosen any one else. Ryerson is one who shows in his
face and in every word and action that he is a kind and noble fellow.
Kate, to my surprise, is enchanted with this performance. It chimes with
her independent notions, but not with my prudent ones. However, it is
done, and I never saw a more satisfactorily mated couple. It would have
been a cruel pity to see that light, good little heart quelled by a
morose husband, or its timidity frightened into deceitfulness by a
severe one. Now she is as fearless and courageous as a pet canary.
Ryerson has one grievous fault; he uses all sorts of slang phrases. It
makes his conversation very funny, but Alice don't like it, especially
when he approaches the profane.
He told a very good story the other day, spiced a little in language.
Everybody laughed outright. Alice looked grave.
"What is the matter, wifey?" he called out, anxiously; for with him
there is no reserve before strangers. He seems to think the whole world
kin, and himself always the centre of an attached and indulgent family.
"How could you say those bad words, with a child in the room?" she said,
reproachfully,--pointing to my little black-eyed friend.
"I only said, 'The Devil,'--that's all! But now I remember,--if a
story is ever so good, and 'the Devil' gets into it, it's no go with
you! But, Allie, you shouldn't be a wet blanket to a fellow! When he
is trying to be entertaining, you might help him out, instead of
extinguishing him! Laugh just a little to set folks going, and make
moral reflections afterwards, for the benefit of the children."
"You know, Harry, I can't make reflections!"
"No more you can,--ha! ha! If you could, there would be the Devil to
pay--in curtain lectures, wouldn't there?"
"Pshaw, now, Allie, don't be hard upon me! That was a very little
swear--for the occasion!"
She will refine him in time.
Ryerson has infused new spirit into this stiff place. The very day he
came, I observed that various persons, who had held aloof from all
others, drew near to him. The fellow seems the soul of geniality, and
everybody likes him,--from old man to baby. The young girls gather
round him for chat and repartee,--the young men are always calling to
him to come boating, or gunning, or riding with them,--the old gentlemen
go to him with their politics, and the old ladies with their aches.
Young America calls him a "regular brick," for he lends himself to build
up everybody's good-humor.
He is everything to me. Before he came, Mr. Winston was almost my only
visitor, though other gentlemen occasionally sat with me a few minutes.
But now everybody flocks to my couch, because Harry's head-quarters
are there. He has broken down the shyness my unfortunate situation
maintained between me and others. His cheery "Well, how are you to-day,
old fellow?" sets everybody at ease with me. The ladies have come out
from their pitying reserve. A glass of fresh water from the spring, a
leaf-full of wild berries, a freshly pulled rose, and other little daily
attentions, cheer me into fresh admiration of them "all in general, and
one in particular," as Ryerson says.
Perhaps you think--I judge so from your letter--that I ought to describe
Miss Winston to you. She is finely----Ah, I find that she is wrapped in
some mysterious, ethereal veil, the folds of which I dare not disturb,
even with reverent hand, and for your sake! Ah, Mary, I aspire!
C---- Springs. September.
The autumn scenery is gorgeous up among these misty hills, but I will
not dwell upon it. I have too much to say of animated human nature, to
more than glance out of doors. Nearly all the boarders are gone. Miss
Winston left last week for her home in Boston. I am desolate indeed! The
day after she went away, I stood upon my own feet without support, for
the first time. Now I walk daily from the house to the spring, with the
help of Kate's or Ben's arm and a cane, though I am still obliged to
remain on my couch nearly all day long. I write this in direct reply to
Now for the great exciting subject of the present time. I will give it
in detail, as women like to have stories told.
The little wife, our Alice, came running into Kate's parlor one day,
while we were both sitting there reading. She was in extreme excitement.
We heard her laughing, just outside the door, in the most joyous manner;
but she pulled a long face as she entered. She sank down upon the floor
by my couch, so as to be on a level with me, took my hand and Kate's,
and then, taking breath, said:
"Listen, Kate, and don't be agitated."
Kate was, of course, extremely agitated at once. She divined the subject
about to be introduced, and her heart beat tumultuously.
"You remember I nearly betrayed Walter's secret once? Well, I am going
to tell it to you now, really."
"He gave you leave, then!" said Kate, almost breathless.
"Yes, yes! This is it----Now, Kate, if you look so pale, I can't go on!"
I motioned to her to proceed at once.
"Well, he had some engineering to do in Russia, you know. They wanted
to get him to undertake another job,--I don't know, nor care, what it
was,--and he went out to see about it. For Charlie's sake, you let him
go away almost in despair, you cruel girl! Well, when I was visiting
you, he made a little spy of me. I was not to spy you, Kate, but Charlie
here, and let Walter know of the slightest change for the better in him.
Then he was to get some one to attend to his Russian work, and post
right straight home to you, Kate! Well, my aunt wouldn't let me stay
with you,--cross old thing! And she kept me so very close, that I
couldn't watch Charlie at all. Then she went and threatened me with a
long engagement with Harry, only to give me time to get heaps and
heaps of sewing done! I knew the only chance I could get of gaining
information for Walter was just to run off to you with Hal, and cut a
long matter short. Well, so I came, and I wrote to Walter, the very
night I arrived, that the doctor said, Charlie, that you would be quite
well in a month or two! That was a month ago. But Walter had not waited
for me. Perhaps he had other spies. At any rate"----
"What? what? Be quick!" cried I, seeing that Kate was almost fainting
from this suspense.
"He has come!"
Kate pressed her hand over the joyful cry that burst from her lips, and,
turning away from us, sprang up, and walked to the window. There was a
moment of perfect silence. Kate put her hand behind her, and motioned to
the door. Alice went softly out and closed it. I could not rise, poor
cripple, from intense agitation.
My sister drew one long, quivering, sobbing breath,--and then she had a
good cry, as women say. It seemed to me enough to give one a headache
for a week, but it refreshed her. After bathing her eyes with some iced
water, she came and leaned over me.
"Thank God, Kate," I said, "for your sake and mine!"
"Can you spare me, after you are well again, Charlie,--if he"----
"Am I a monster of selfishness and ingratitude?"
She kissed me, took up her work, and sat down to sew.
"Kate!" said I, amazed, "what are you doing? Why don't you go down?"
"What for? To hunt him up at the bar-keeper's desk? or in the stables,
"Oh! Ah! Propriety,--yes! But how you can sit there and wait I cannot
There came a knock. I expected her to start up in rapture and admit Mr.
Walter ----. She only said, "Come in!"--calmly.
Alice peeped in, and asked, "May he come?"
"Where is he?" I asked.
"In the parlor, waiting to know."
"Yes," said Kate, changing color rapidly.
"Stop, stop, Alice! You two give me each a hand, and help me into my
"Charlie," said Kate, "you need not go! you must not go!"
"Ah, my dear sister, I have stood between you and him long enough, I
will do to him as I would be done by. Come, girls, your hands!"
They placed me in my easy-chair, both kissed me with agitated lips,
and left me. Half an hour afterwards Kate and Mr. ---- petitioned for
admittance to my room. Of course I granted it, and immediately proceeded
to a minute scrutiny of my future brother-in-law. He is a fine fellow,
very scientific, clear in thought, decisive in action, quite reserved,
and very good-looking. This reserve is to Kate his strongest
attraction,--her own nature being so entirely destitute of it, and she
so painfully conscious of her want of self-control. Yes,--he is just the
one Kate would most respect, of all the men I ever saw.
Is not this happiness,--to find her future not wrecked, but blessed
doubly? for her conduct has made Walter almost worship her. I _am_ happy
to think I have brought her good, rather than ill; but--selfish being
that I am--I am not contented. I have a sigh in my heart yet!
Bosky Dell. December.
How it happened that this letter did not go I cannot imagine. I have
just found it in Kate's work-basket; and I open it again, to add the
grand climax. I have been so very minute in my accounts of Kate's
love-affairs, that I feel it would not be fair to slur over mine. So,
dear friend, I open my heart to you in this wise.
The rage for recovery which took such violent possession of me I believe
effected my cure. In a month from the time I began to walk, I could
go alone, without even a cane. Kate entreated me to remain as long as
possible in the mountains, as she believed my recovery was attributable
to the pure air and healing waters. It was consequently the first of
this month before we arrived at her cottage, where we found good old
Saide so much "frustrated" by delight as to be quite unable to "fly
roun'." Indeed, she could hardly stand. When I walked up to shake hands
with her, she bashfully looked at me out of the "tail of her eye," as
Ben says. Her delicacy was quite shocked by my size!
"Saide," said I, "you positively look pale!" She really did. You have
seen negroes do so, haven't you?
"Laws, Missr Charles," she answered, with a coquettish and deprecating
twist, "call dat 'ere stove pale,--will yer?"
No sooner was Kate established at home, and I in my Walnut-Street
office, than I undertook a trip to Boston. As I approached Miss
Winston's home, all my courage left me. I walked up and down the Common,
in sight of her door, for hours, thinking what a witless fool I was,
to contemplate presenting my penniless self--with hope--before the
At last Mr. Winston came home to dinner and began to go up the steps. I
sprang across the street to him, and my courage came back when I looked
upon his good sensible face. When he recognized me, he seized my hand,
grasped my shoulder, and gave me, with the tears actually in his eyes, a
reception that honors human nature.
Such genuine friendliness, in an old, distinguished man, to a young
fellow like me, shows that man's heart is noble, with all its depravity.
"When he had gazed some time, almost in amazement, at my tall
proportions, (he never saw them perpendicular before, you know,) he
"Come in, come in, my boy! Some one else must see you! But she can't be
more glad than I am, to see you so well,--that is, I don't see how she
can,--for I _am_ glad, I am _glad_, my boy!"
Was not this heart-warming?
When we entered, he stopped before the hat-rack, and told me "just to
walk into the parlor;--his daughter might be there." I could not rush in
impetuously, I had to steady my color. Besides, ought I not to speak to
Mr. Winston took off his hat,--hung it up; then his overcoat, and
hung it up. I still stood pondering, with my hand upon the door-knob.
Surprised at my tardiness in entering, he turned and looked at me. I
could not face him. He was silent a minute. I felt that he looked right
through me, and saw my daring intentions. He cleared his throat. I
quailed. He began to speak in a low, agitated voice, that I thought very
ominous in tone.
"You want to speak to me, perhaps. I think I see that you do. If so,
speak now. A word will explain enough. No need to defer."
"I want your consent, Sir, to speak to your daughter," I stammered out.
"My dear boy," said he, clapping me on the shoulder, "she is motherless
and brotherless, and I am an old man. Nothing would give me more
pleasure; for I know you well enough to trust her with you. There,--go
in. I hear her touch the piano."
He went up stairs. I entered. My eyes swept the long, dim apartment.
In the confusion of profuse luxury I could not distinguish anything at
first,--but soon saw the grand piano at the extreme end of the rooms. I
impetuously strode the whole length of the two parlors,--and she rose
before me with chilling dignity!
Ah, Mary, that moment's blank dismay! But it was because she thought me
some bold, intruding stranger. When she saw my face, she came to me, and
gave me both her hands, saying,--
"Mr. ----! Is it possible? I am happy that you are so well!"
It was genuine joy; and for a moment we were both simply glad for that
one reason,--that I was well.
"You seem so tall!" she said, with a rather more conscious tone. She
began to infer what my recovery and presence imported to _her_. I felt
thrilling all over me what they were to me!
But I must say something. It is not customary to call upon young
ladies, of whom you have never dared to consider yourself other than
an acquaintance merely, and hold their hands while you listen to their
hearts beating. This I must refrain from doing,--and that instantly.
"Yes," I stammered, "I am well,--I am quite well." Then, losing all
remembrance of etiquette----But you must divine what followed. Truly
"God's gifts put man's best dreams to
P.S.--Kate will send you her cards, and Ada ours, together with the
proper ceremonious invitations to the weddings, as soon as things are
AMOURS DE VOYAGE.
Yet to the wondrous St. Peter's, and yet to the solemn Rotonda,
Mingling with heroes and gods, yet to the Vatican walls,
Yet may we go, and recline, while a whole mighty world seems above us
Gathered and fixed to all time into one roofing supreme;
Yet may we, thinking on these things, exclude what is meaner around
Yet, at the worst of the worst, books and a chamber remain;
Yet may we think, and forget, and possess our souls in resistance.--
Ah, but away from the stir, shouting, and gossip of war,
Where, upon Apennine slope, with the chestnut the oak-trees immingle,
Where amid odorous copse bridle-paths wander and wind,
Where under mulberry-branches the diligent rivulet sparkles,
Or amid cotton and maize peasants their waterworks ply,
Where, over fig-tree and orange in tier upon tier still repeated,
Garden on garden upreared, balconies step to the sky,--
Ah, that I were, far away from the crowd and the streets of the city,
Under the vine-trellis laid, O my beloved, with thee!
I.--MARY TREVELLYN TO MISS ROPER,--_on the way to Florence_.
Why doesn't Mr. Claude come with us? you ask.--We don't know.
You should know better than we. He talked of the Vatican marbles;
But I can't wholly believe that this was the actual reason,--
He was so ready before, when we asked him to come and escort us.
Certainly he is odd, my dear Miss Roper. To change so
Suddenly, just for a whim, was not quite fair to the party,--
Not quite right. I declare, I really am almost offended:
I, his great friend, as you say, have doubtless a title to be so.
Not that I greatly regret it, for dear Georgina distinctly
Wishes for nothing so much as to show her adroitness. But, oh, my
Pen will not write any more;--let us say nothing further about it.
* * * * *
Yes, my dear Miss Roper, I certainly called him repulsive;
So I think him, but cannot be sure I have used the expression
Quite as your pupil should; yet he does most truly repel me.
Was it to you I made use of the word? or who was it told you?
Yes, repulsive; observe, it is but when he talks of ideas,
That he is quite unaffected, and free, and expansive, and easy;
I could pronounce him simply a cold intellectual being.--
When does he make advances?--He thinks that women should woo him;
Yet, if a girl should do so, would be but alarmed and disgusted.
She that should love him must look for small love in return,--like
On the stone wall, must expect but; rigid and niggard support, and
Even to get that must go searching all round with her humble embraces.
II.--CLAUDE TO EUSTACE,--_from Rome_.
Tell me, my friend, do you think that the grain would sprout in the
Did it not truly accept as its _summum et ultimum bonum_
That mere common and may-be indifferent soil it is set in?
Would it have force to develope and open its young cotyledons,
Could it compare, and reflect, and examine one thing with another?
Would it endure to accomplish the round of its natural functions,
Were it endowed with a sense of the general scheme of existence?
While from Marseilles in the steamer we voyaged to Civita Vecchia,
Vexed in the squally seas as we lay by Capraja and Elba,
Standing, uplifted, alone on the heaving poop of the vessel,
Looking around on the waste of the rushing incurious billows,
"This is Nature," I said: "we are born as it were from her waters,
Over her billows that buffet and beat us, her offspring uncared-for,
Casting one single regard of a painful victorious knowledge,
Into her billows that buffet and beat us we sink and are swallowed."
This was the sense in my soul, as I swayed with the poop of the
And as unthinking I sat in the ball of the famed Ariadne,
Lo, it looked at me there from the face of a Triton in marble.
It is the simpler thought, and I can believe it the truer.
Let us not talk of growth; we are still in our Aqueous Ages.
III.--CLAUDE TO EUSTACE.
Farewell, Politics, utterly! What can I do? I cannot
Fight, you know; and to talk I am wholly ashamed. And although I
Gnash my teeth when I look in your French or your English papers,
What is the good of that? Will swearing, I wonder, mend matters?
Cursing and scolding repel the assailants? No, it is idle;
No, whatever befalls, I will hide, will ignore or forget it.
Let the tail shift for itself; I will bury my head. And what's the
Roman Republic to me, or I to the Roman Republic?
Why not fight?--In the first place, I haven't so much as a musket.
In the next, if I had, I shouldn't know how I should use it.
In the third, just at present I'm studying ancient marbles.
In the fourth, I consider I owe my life to my country.
In the fifth,--I forget; but four good reasons are ample.
Meantime, pray, let 'em fight, and be killed. I delight in devotion.
So that I 'list not, hurrah for the glorious army of martyrs!
_Sanguis martyrum semen Ecclesiae_; though it would seem this
Church is indeed of the purely Invisible, Kingdom-Come kind:
Militant here on earth! Triumphant, of course, then, elsewhere!
Ah, good Heaven, but I would I were out far away from the pother!
IV.--CLAUDE TO EUSTACE.
Not, as we read in the words of the olden-time inspiration,
Are there two several trees in the place we are set to abide in;
But on the apex most high of the Tree of Life in the Garden,
Budding, unfolding, and falling, decaying and flowering ever,
Flowering is set and decaying the transient blossom of Knowledge,--
Flowering alone, and decaying, the needless, unfruitful blossom.
Or as the cypress-spires by the fair-flowing stream Hellespontine,
Which from the mythical tomb of the godlike Protesilaus
Rose, sympathetic in grief, to his lovelorn Laodamia,
Evermore growing, and, when in their growth to the prospect attaining,
Over the low sea-banks, of the fatal Ilian city,
Withering still at the sight which still they upgrew to encounter.
Ah, but ye that extrude from the ocean your helpless faces,
Ye over stormy seas leading long and dreary processions,
Ye, too, brood of the wind, whose coming is whence we discern not,
Making your nest on the wave, and your bed on the crested billow,
Skimming rough waters, and crowding wet sands that the tide shall
Cormorants, ducks, and gulls, fill ye my imagination!
Let us not talk of growth; we are still in our Aqueous Ages.
V.--MARY TREVELLYN TO MISS ROPER,--_from Florence_.
Dearest Miss Roper,--Alas, we are all at Florence quite safe, and
You, we hear, are shut up! indeed, it is sadly distressing!
We were most lucky, they say, to get off when we did from the
Now you are really besieged! They tell us it soon will be over;
Only I hope and trust without any fight in the city.
Do you see Mr. Claude?--I thought he might do something for you.
I am quite sure on occasion he really would wish to be useful.
What is he doing? I wonder;--still studying Vatican marbles?
Letters, I hope, pass through. We trust your brother is better.
VI.--CLAUDE TO EUSTACE.
Juxtaposition, in fine; and what is juxtaposition?
Look you, we travel along in the railway-carriage, or steamer,
And, _pour passer le temps_, till the tedious journey be ended,
Lay aside paper or book, to talk with the girl that is next one;
And, _pour passer le temps_, with the terminus all but in
Talk of eternal ties and marriages made in heaven.
Ah, did we really accept with a perfect heart the illusion!
Ah, did we really believe that the Present indeed is the Only!
Or through all transmutation, all shock and convulsion of passion,
Feel we could carry undimmed, unextinguished, the light of our
But for his funeral train which the bridegroom sees in the distance,
Would he so joyfully, think you, fall In with the marriage-procession?
But for that final discharge, would he dare to enlist in that service?
But for that certain release, ever sign to that perilous contract?
But for that exit secure, ever bend to that treacherous doorway?--
Ah, but the bride, meantime,--do you think she sees it as he does?
But for the steady fore-sense of a freer and larger existence,
Think you that man could consent to be circumscribed here into action?
But for assurance within of a limitless ocean divine, o'er
Whose great tranquil depths unconscious the wind-tost surface
Breaks into ripples of trouble that come and change and endure not,--
But that in this, of a truth, we have our being, and know it,
Think you we men could submit to live and move as we do here?
Ah, but the women,--God bless them!--they don't think at all about it.