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Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 4, No. 21, July, 1859 by Various

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THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY.

A MAGAZINE OF LITERATURE, ART, AND POLITICS.

VOL. IV.--JULY, 1859.--NO. XXI.

THOMAS PAINE'S

SECOND APPEARANCE IN THE UNITED STATES.

"Nay, so far did he carry his obstinacy, that he absolutely invited a
professed Anti-Diluvian from the Gallic Empire, who illuminated the
whole country with his principles and his nose."--Salmagundi.

We lukewarm moderns can hardly conceive the degree of violence and
bitterness reached by party-feeling in the early years of the United
States Constitution. A Mississippi member of Congress listening to a
Freesoil speech is mild in demeanor and expression, if we compare his
ill-nature with the spiteful fury of his predecessors in legislation
sixty years ago. The same temper was visible throughout the land. Nobody
stood aloof. Two hostile camps were pitched over against each other, and
every man in Israel was to be found in his tent. Our great experiment
was a new one; on its success depended the personal welfare of every
citizen, and naturally every citizen was anxious to train up that
experiment in the way which promised to his reason or to his feelings
the best result.

The original Federalists of 1787 were in favor of effacing as much
as possible the boundary-lines of the Thirteen Colonies, and of
consolidating them into a new, united, and powerful people, under a
strong central government. The first Anti-Federalists were made up of
several sects: one branch, sincere republicans, were fearful that the
independence of the States was in danger, and that consolidation would
prepare the way for monarchy; another, small, but influential, still
entertained the wish for reunion with England, or, at least, for the
adoption of the English form of government,--and, hoping that the
dissensions of the old Confederation might lead to some such result,
drank the health of the Bishop of Osnaburg in good Madeira, and objected
to any system which might place matters upon a permanent republican
basis; and a third party, more numerous and noisy than either, who knew
by long experience that the secret of home popularity was to inspire
jealousy of the power of Congress, were unwilling to risk the loss of
personal consequence in this new scheme of centralization, and took good
care not to allow the old local prejudices and antipathies to slumber.
The two latter classes of patriots are well described by Franklin in his
"Comparison of the Ancient Jews with the Modern Anti-Federalists,"--a
humorous allegory, which may have suggested to the Senator from Ohio his
excellent conceit of the Israelite with Egyptian principles. "Many,"
wrote Franklin, "still retained an affection for Egypt, the land of
their nativity, and whenever they felt any inconvenience or hardship,
though the natural and unavoidable effect of their change of situation,
exclaimed against their leaders as the authors of their trouble,
and were not only for returning into Egypt, but for stoning their
deliverers.... Many of the chiefs thought the new Constitution might be
injurious to their particular interests,--that the profitable places
would be engrossed by the families and friends of Moses and Aaron, and
others, equally well born, excluded."

Time has decided this first point in favor of the Unionists. None of
the evils prophesied by their opponents have as yet appeared. The
independence of the individual States remains inviolate, and, although
the central executive has grown yearly more powerful, a monarchy
seems as remote as ever. Local distinctions are now little prized in
comparison with federal rank. It is not every man who can recollect the
name of the governor of his own State; very few can tell that of the
chief of the neighboring Commonwealth. The old boundaries have grown
more and more indistinct; and when we look at the present map of the
Union, we see only that broad black line known as Mason and Dixon's, on
one side of which are neatness, thrift, enterprise, and education,--and
on the other, whatever the natives of that region may please to call it.

After 1789, the old Egypt faction ceased to exist, except as grumblers;
but the States-Rights men, though obliged to acquiesce in the
Constitution, endeavored, by every means of "construction" their
ingenuity could furnish, to weaken and restrict the exercise and the
range of its power. The Federalists, on the other hand, held that want
of strength was the principal defect of the system, and were for adding
new buttresses to the Constitutional edifice. It is curious to remark
that neither party believed in the permanency of the Union. Then
came into use the mighty adjectives "constitutional" and
"unconstitutional,"--words of vast import, doing equally good service
to both parties in furnishing a word to express their opinion of the
measures they urged and of those they objected to. And then began to be
strained and frayed that much-abused piece of parchment which Thomas
Paine called the political Bible of the American people, and foolishly
thought indispensable to liberty in a representative government. "Ask an
American if a certain act be constitutional," says Paine, "he pulls out
his pocket volume, turns to page and verse, and gives you a correct
answer in a moment." Poor Mr. Paine! if you had lived fifty years
longer, you would have seen that paper constitutions, like the paper
money you despised so justly, depend upon honesty and confidence for
their value, and are at a sad discount in hard times of fraud and
corruption. Unprincipled men find means of evading the written agreement
upon their face by ingenious subterfuges or downright repudiation. An
arbitrary majority will construe the partnership articles to suit their
own interests, and _stat pro constitutione voluntas_. It is true that
the _litera scripta_ remains, but the meaning is found to vary with the
interpreter.

In 1791, when the two parties were fairly formed and openly pitted
against each other, a new element of discord had entered into politics,
which added the bitterness of class-feeling to the usual animosity of
contention. Society in the Middle and Southern States had been composed
of a few wealthy and influential families, and of a much more numerous
lower class who followed the lead of the great men. These lesser
citizens had now determined to set up for themselves, and had enlisted
in the ranks of the Anti-Federalists, who soon assumed the name and
style of Democrats, an epithet first bestowed upon them in derision, but
joyfully adopted,--one of the happiest hits in political nomenclature
ever made. _In hoc verbo vinces:_ In that word lay victory. If any one
be tempted, in this age, to repeat the stupid question, "What's in a
name?" let him be answered,--Everything: place, power, pelf, perhaps we
may add peculation. "The Barons of Virginia," chiefs of State-Rights,
who at home had been in favor of a governor and a senate for life, and
had little to fear from any lower class in their own neighborhood, saw
how much was to be gained by "taking the people into partnership," as
Herodotus phrases it, and commenced that alliance with the proletaries
of the North which has proved so profitable to Southern leaders. In New
England, the land of industry, self-control, and superior cultivation,
(for the American Parnassus was then in Connecticut, either in Hartford,
or on Litchfield Hill,) there was, comparatively speaking, no lower
class. The Eastern men, whose levelling spirit and equality of ranks
had been so much disliked and dreaded by the representatives from other
Colonies in the Ante-Revolutionary Congresses, had undergone little or
no social change by the war, and probably had at that period a more
correct idea of civil liberty and free government than any other people
on the face of the earth. General Charles Lee wrote to an English
friend, that the New-Englanders were the only Americans who really
understood the meaning of republicanism, and many years later De
Tocqueville came to nearly the same opinion:--_"C'est dans la Nouvelle
Angleterre que se sont combinees les deux ou trois idees principales,
qui aujourd'hui forment les bases de la theorie sociale des
Etats-Unis."_ In this region Federalism reigned supreme. The
New-Englanders desired a strong, honest, and intelligent government;
they thought, with John Adams, that "true equality is to do as you would
be done by," and agreed with Hamilton, that "a government in which every
man may aspire to any office was free enough for all purposes"; and
judging from what they saw at home, they looked upon Anti-Federalism not
only as erroneous in theory, but as disreputable in practice. "The name
of Democrat," writes a fierce old gentleman to his son, "is despised; it
is synonymous with infamy." Out of New England a greater social change
was going forward. Already appeared that impatience of all restraint
which is so alarming a symptom of our times. Every rogue, "who felt the
halter draw," wanted to know if it was for tyranny like this that the
Colonies had rebelled. "Such a monster of a government has seldom or
never been known on earth. A blessed Revolution, a blessed Revolution,
indeed!--_but farmers, mechanics, and laborers had no share in it._ We
are the asses who pay." This was the burden of the Democratic song.

But the real issue between the two parties, which underlay all their
proposed measures and professed principles, was the old struggle of
classes, modified of course by the time and the place. The Democrats
contended for perfect equality, political and social, and as little
power as possible in the central government so long as their party was
not in command. The Federalists, who held the reins, were for a strong
conservative administration, and a wholesome distinction of classes.
The two parties were not long in waiting for flags to rally around, and
fresh fields on which to fight. The French Revolution furnished both.
In its early stages it had excited a general sympathy in America; and,
indeed, so has every foreign insurrection, rebellion, or riot since, no
matter where or why it occurred, provided good use has been made of the
sacred words Revolution and Liberty. This cry has never been echoed in
this country without exciting a large body of men to mass-meetings,
dinners, and other public demonstrations, who do not stop to consider
what it means, or whether, in the immediate instance, it has any meaning
at all. John Adams said in his "Defence of American Constitutions," "Our
countrymen will never run delirious after a word or a name." Mr. Adams
was much mistaken. If, according to the Latin proverb, a word is
sufficient for a wise man, so, in another sense, it is all that is
needful for fools. But as the Revolution advanced in France towards
republicanism, the Federalists, who thought the English system, less the
king and the hereditary lords, the best scheme of government, began to
grow lukewarm. When it became evident that the New Era was to end in
bloodshed, instead of universal peace and good-will towards men,--that
the Rights of Man included murder, confiscation, and atheism,--that
the Sovereignty of the People meant the rule of King Mob, who seemed
determined to carry out to the letter Diderot's famous couplet,--

"Et des boyaux du dernier pretre
Serrez le cou du dernier des rois,"--

then the adjective _French_ became in Federal mouths an epithet of
abhorrence and abuse; up went the flag of dear Old England, the defender
of the faith and of social order. The opposition party, on the contrary,
saw in the success of the French people, in their overthrow of kings
and nobles, a cheerful encouragement to their own struggle against the
aristocratic Federalists, and would allow no sanguinary irregularities
to divert their sympathy from the great Democratic triumph abroad. The
gay folds of the tricolor which floated over them seemed to shed upon
their heads a mild influence of that Gallic madness that led them into
absurdities we could not now believe, were they not on record. The
fashions, sartorial and social, of the French were affected; amiable
Yankees called each other _citizen_, invented the feminine _citess_,
and proposed changing our old calendar for the Ventose and Fructidor
arrangement of the one and indivisible republic. (We wish they had
adopted their admirable system of weights and measures.) Divines are
said to have offered up thanks to the Supreme Being for the success of
the good _Sans-culottes_. At all events, their victories were celebrated
by civic festivals and the discharge of cannon; the English flag was
burned as a sacrifice to the Goddess of Liberty; a French frigate took
a prize off the Capes of the Delaware, and sent her in to Philadelphia;
thousands of the populace crowded the wharves, and, when the British
colors were seen reversed, and the French flying over them, burst into
exulting hurras. When a report came that the Duke of York was a prisoner
and shown in a cage in Paris, all the bells of Philadelphia rang peals
of joy for the downfall of tyrants. Here is the story of a civic _fete_
given at Reading, in Massachusetts, which we extract from a newspaper of
the time as a specimen of the Gallo-Yankee absurdities perpetrated by
our grandfathers:--

"The day was ushered in by the ringing of the bells, and a salute of
fifteen discharges from a field-piece. The American flag waved in the
wind, and the flag of France over the British in inverted order. At noon
a large number of respectable citizens assembled at Citizen Raynor's,
and partook of an elegant entertainment. After dinner, Captain Emerson's
military company in uniform assembled and escorted the citizens to the
meeting-house, where an address pertinent to the occasion was delivered
by the Rev. Citizen Prentiss, and united prayers and praises were
offered to God, and several hymns and anthems were well sung; after
which they returned in procession to Citizen Raynor's, where three
farmers, with their frocks and utensils, and with a tree on their
shoulders, were escorted by the military company formed in a hollow
square to the Common, where the tree was planted in form, as an emblem
of freedom, and the Marseillaise Hymn was sung by a choir within a
circle round the tree. Major Boardman, by request, superintended the
business of the day, and directed the manoeuvres."

In the Gallic jargon then fashionable, England was "an insular Bastille
of slaves," and New England "the Vendee of America." On the other side,
the Federalists returned cheer for cheer,--looked with true British
contempt on the warlike struggles of the restless Frenchman,--chuckled
over the disasters which befell "his little popgun fleets,"--and damned
the Democrats for a pack of poor, dirty, blasphemous cutthroats. Hate
one another was the order of the day. The religious element, which
always exasperates dissension, was present. French Democrats had set
up the Goddess of Reason (in private life Mme. Momoro) as an object of
worship; American Democrats were accused of making Tom Paine's "Age of
Reason" their Bible; "Atheist" and "Infidel" were added to the epithets
which the Federalists discharged at their foes. So fierce and so general
was the quarrel on this European ground, that a distinguished foreigner,
then travelling in this country, said that he saw many French and
English, but scarcely ever met with an American. Weld, a more humble
tourist, put into his book, that in Norfolk, Virginia, he found half the
town ready to fight the other half on the French question. Meanwhile,
both French and English treated us with ill-disguised contempt,
and inflicted open outrages upon our commerce. But it made little
difference. One faction was willing to be kicked by England; and the
other took a pleasure in being _soufflete_ by France. The rival flags
were kept flying until the close of the war of 1812.

An outbreak of Democratic fury bordering upon treason took place, when
Senator Mason of Virginia violated the oath of secrecy, and sent a
copy of Jay's treaty with England to the "Aurora." Meetings passed
condemnatory resolutions expressed in no mild language. Jay was "a
slave, a traitor, a coward, who had bartered his country's liberties for
British gold." Mobs burned Jay in effigy, and pelted Alexander Hamilton.
At a public meeting in Philadelphia, Mr. Blair threw the treaty to the
crowd, and advised them to kick it to hell. They carried it on a pole
in procession, and burned it before the English minister's house. A
Democratic society in Richmond, Virginia, full of the true modern South
Carolina "sound and fury," gave public notice, that, if the treaty
entered into by "that damned arch traitor, John Jay, with the British
tyrant should be ratified, a petition will be presented to the next
General Assembly of Virginia praying that the said State may recede
from the Union, and be left under the government and protection of
one hundred thousand free and independent Virginians!" A meeting at
Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, resolved, "that it was weary of the tardiness
of Congress in not going to war with England, and that they were _almost
ready_ to wish for a state of revolution and the guillotine of France
for a short space, in order to punish the miscreants who enervate and
disgrace the government." Mr. Jefferson's opinion of the treaty is well
known from his rhetorical letter to Rutledge, which, in two or three
lines, contains the adjectives, _unnecessary, impolitic, dangerous,
dishonorable, disadvantageous, humiliating, disgraceful, improper,
monarchical, impeachable_. The Mazzei letter, written not long after the
ratification, displays the same bitter feeling.

The Federalists had a powerful ally in William Cobbett, who signed
himself Peter Porcupine, adopting for his literary _alias_ a nickname
bestowed by his enemies. This remarkable writer, who, like Paine,
figured in the political conflicts of two nations, must have come into
the world bristling with pugnacity. A more thorough game-cock never
crowed in the pit. He had been a private in the English army, came
to the United States about 1790, and taught French to Americans, and
English to Frenchmen, (to Talleyrand among others,) until 1794, when
the dogmatic Dr. Priestley arrived here, fresh from the scene of his
persecutions. The Doctor losing no time in laying his case before the
American public, Cobbett answered his publication, ridiculing it and the
Doctor's political career in a pamphlet which became immediately popular
with the Federalists. From that time until his departure for England, in
1800, Cobbett's pen was never idle. His "Little Plain English in Favor
of Mr. Jay's Treaty" was altogether the best thing published on that
side of the question. Cobbett had more than one point of resemblance to
Paine, the object of his early invective, but later of his unqualified
admiration. These two men were the best English pamphleteers of their
day. In shrewdness, in practical sense, Cobbett was fully Paine's equal.
He was as coarse and as pithy in expression, but with more wit, a better
education, more complete command of language, and a greater variety of
resources. Cobbett was a quicker and a harder hitter than Paine. His
personal courage gave him a great advantage in his warfaring life. In
1796, in the hottest of the French and English fight, the well-known
Porcupine opened a shop in Philadelphia. He filled his show-window with
all the prints of English kings, nobles, and generals he could collect,
and "then," he says, "I took down the shutters, and waited."

Party-feeling reached the boiling-point when Washington retired to Mount
Vernon. Mr. Adams, his successor, had none of that divinity which
hedged the Father of his Country to protect him. Under the former
administration, he had been, as Senator Grayson humorously called him,
"his superfluous Excellency," and out of the direct line of fire. He
could easily look down upon such melancholy squibs as Freneau's "Daddy
Vice" and "Duke of Braintree." But when raised above every other head by
his high office, he became a mark for the most bitter personal attacks.
Mr. Adams unfortunately thought too much about himself to be the
successful chief of a party. He allowed his warm feelings to divert
him from the main object and end of his followers. He was jealous of
Hamilton,--unwilling, in fact, to seem to be governed by the opinion of
any man, and half inclined to look for a reelection outside of his own
party. Hamilton, the soul of the Federalists, mistrusted and disliked
Mr. Adams, and made the sad mistake of publishing his mistrust and
dislike. It must be confessed that the gentlemen who directed the
Administration party were no match as tacticians for such file-leaders
as Jefferson and Burr. Many of their pet measures were ill-judged, to
say the least. The provisional army furnished a fertile theme for fierce
declamation. The black cockade became the badge of the supporters of
government, so that in the streets one could tell at a glance whether
friend or foe was approaching. The Alien and Sedition Laws caused much
bitter feeling and did great damage to the Federalists. To read these
acts and the trials under them now excites somewhat of the feeling
with which we look upon some strange and clumsy engine of torture in a
mediaeval museum. How the temper of this people and their endurance of
legal inflictions have changed since then! There was Matthew Lyon, a
noted Democrat of Irish origin, who had published a letter charging the
President with "ridiculous pomp, idle parade, and selfish avarice." He
was found guilty of sedition, and sentenced to four months' imprisonment
and a fine of one thousand dollars. There was Cooper, an Englishman,
who fared equally ill for saying or writing that the President did not
possess sufficient capacity to fulfil the duties of his office. What
should we think of the sanity of James Buchanan, should he prosecute
and obtain a conviction against some Black-Republican Luther Baldwin of
1859, for wishing that the wad of a cannon, fired in his honor, might
strike an unmentionable part of his august person? What should we say,
if Horace Greeley were to be arrested on a warrant issued by the Supreme
Court of New York for a libel on Louis Napoleon, as was William Cobbett
by Judge McKean of Pennsylvania for a libel on the King of Spain?

Fiercer and more bitter waxed party-discord, and both sides did ample
injustice to one another. Mr. Jefferson wrote, that men who had been
intimate all their lives would cross the street and look the other way,
lest they should be obliged to touch their hats. And Gouverneur Morris
gives us a capital idea of the state of feeling when he says that a
looker-on, who took no part in affairs, felt like a sober man at a
dinner when the rest of the company were drunk. Civil war was often
talked of, and the threat of secession, which has become the rhetorical
staple of the South, produced solely for exportation to the North, to be
used there in manufacturing pro-slavery votes out of the timidity of men
of large means and little courage or perspicacity, was then freely
made by both divisions of the Union. Had we been of French or
Spanish descent, there would have been barricades, _coup-d'etats,
pronunciamentos_; but the English race know better how to treat the
body-politic. They never apply the knife except for the most desperate
operations. But where hard words were so plenty, blows could not fail.
Duels were frequent, cudgellings not uncommon,--although as yet the
Senate-Chamber had not been selected as the fittest scene for the use
of the bludgeon. It is true that molasses-and-water was the beverage
allowed by Congress in those simple times, and that charged to
stationery.

What terrible fellows our ancestors were for calling
names,--particularly the gentlemen of the press! If they had been
natives of the Island of Frozen Sounds, along the shore of which
Pantagruel and Panurge coasted, they would have stood up to their
chins in scurrilous epithets. The comical sketch of their rhetoric in
"Salmagundi" is literally true:--"Every day have these slangwhangers
made furious attacks on each other and upon their respective adherents,
discharging their heavy artillery, consisting of large sheets loaded
with scoundrel, villain, liar, rascal, numskull, nincompoop, dunderhead,
wiseacre, blockhead, jackass." As single words were not always explosive
enough to make a report equal to their feelings, they had recourse to
compounds;--"pert and prating popinjay," "hackneyed gutscraper," "maggot
of corruption," "toad on a dung-heap," "snivelling sophisticating
hound," are a few of the chain-shot which strike our eyes in turning
over the yellow faded files. They are all quiet now, those eager,
snarling editors of fifty years since, and mostly forgotten. Even the
ink which records their spiteful abuse is fading away;--

"Dunne no more the halter dreads,
The torrent of his lies to cheek,
No gallows Cheetham's dreams invades,
Nor lours o'er Holt's devoted neck."

Emerson's saying, that involuntarily we read history as superior beings,
is never so true as when we read history before it has been worked
up for the public, in the raw material of letters, pamphlets, and
newspapers. Feverish paragraphs, which once excited the enthusiasm of
one party and the fiercest opposition of the other, lie before us as
dead and as unmeaning as an Egyptian mummy. The passion which once
gave them life is gone. The objects which the writers considered
all-important we perceive to have been of no real significance even in
their day. We read on with a good-natured pity, akin to the feeling
which the gods of Epicurus might be supposed to experience when they
looked down upon foolish mortals,--and when we shut the book, go out
into our own world to fret, fume, and wrangle over things equally
transitory and frivolous.

When it became evident that the Administration party ran the risk of
being beaten in the election of 1800, their trumpeters sounded the
wildest notes of alarm. "People! how long will you remain blind? Awake!
be up and doing! If Mr. Jefferson is elected, the equal representation
of the small States in the Senate will be destroyed, the funding
system swept away, the navy abolished, all commerce and foreign trade
prohibited, and the fruits of the soil left to rot on the hands of the
farmer. The taxes will all fall on the landed interest, all the churches
will be overturned, none but Frenchmen employed by government, and
the monstrous system of liberty and equality, with all its horrid
consequences, as experienced in France and St. Domingo, will inevitably
be introduced." Thus they shouted, and no doubt many of the shouters
sincerely believed it all. Nevertheless, and in spite of these alarums,
the Revolution of '99, as Mr. Jefferson liked to call it, took place
without bloodshed, and in 1801 that gentleman mounted the throne.

After this struggle was over, the Federalists, some from conviction and
some from disgust at being beaten, gave up the country as lost. Worthy
New-Englanders, like Cabot, Fisher Ames, and Wolcott, had no longer
hope. They sank into the position of mere grumblers, with one leading
principle,--admiration of England, and a willingness to submit to any
insults which England in her haughtiness might please to inflict. "We
are sure," says the "Boston Democrat," "that George III. would find more
desperately devoted subjects in New England than in any part of his
dominions." The Democrats, of course, clung to their motto, "Whatever
is in France is right," and even accepted the arbitrary measures of
Bonaparte at home as a mere change of system, and abroad as forced upon
him by British pirates. It is curious to read the high Federalist papers
in the first days of their sorrow. In their contradictory fault-finding
sulkiness, they give some color of truth to Mr. Jefferson's accusation,
that the Federal leaders were seeking to establish a monarchy,--a charge
well known to be unfounded, as Washington said at the time. "What is the
use of celebrating the Fourth of July?" they asked. "Freedom is a stale,
narcotic topic. The Declaration of Independence a useless, if not an
odious libel upon a friendly nation connected with us by the silken band
of amity." Fenno, in his paper, said the Declaration was "a placard
of rebellion, a feeble production, in which the spirit of rebellion
prevailed over the love of order." Dennie, in the "Portfolio,"
anticipating Mr. Choate, called it "an incoherent accumulation of
indigestible and impracticable political dogmas, dangerous to the
peace of the world, and seditious in its local tendency, and, as a
composition, equally at variance with the laws of construction and the
laws of regular government." The Federalist opinion of the principles
of the Administration party was avowed with equal frankness in their
papers. "A democracy is the most absurd constitution, productive of
anarchy and mischief, which must always happen when the government of a
nation depends upon the caprice of the ignorant, harebrained vulgar. All
the miseries of men for a long series of years grew out of that infamous
mode of polity, a democracy; which is to be reckoned to be only the
corruption and degeneracy of a republic, and not to be ranked among the
legitimate forms of government. If it be not a legitimate government, we
owe it no allegiance. He is a blind man who does not see this truth; he
is a base man who will not assert it. Democratic power is tyranny, in
the principle, the beginning, the progress, and the end. It is on its
trial here, and the issue will be civil war, desolation, and anarchy."
These and other foolish excerpts were kept before their readers by the
"Aurora" and "Boston Chronicle," leading Democratic organs, and
served to sweeten their triumph and to seal the fate of the unlucky
Federalists.

The difference between the tone of these extracts and that of our
present journalists, when they touch upon the abstract principles of
government, may indicate to us the firm hold which the Democratic theory
has taken of our people. As that conquering party marched onward, the
opposition was forced to follow after, and to encamp upon the ground
their powerful enemy left behind him. To-day when we see gentlemen who
consider themselves Conservatives in the ranks of the Democrats, we may
suppose that the tour of the political circle is nearly completed.

A momentary lull had followed the storm of the election, when Mr.
Jefferson boldly threw down another "bone for the Federalists to gnaw."
He wrote to Thomas Paine, inviting him to America, and offering him a
passage home in a national vessel. "You will, in general, find us," he
added, "returned to sentiments worthy of former times; in these it will
be your glory to have steadily labored, and with as much effect as any
man living. That you may live long, to continue your useful labors and
reap the reward in the thankfulness of nations, is my sincere prayer.
Accept the assurance of my high esteem and affectionate attachment." Mr.
Jefferson went even farther. He openly announced his intention of giving
Paine an office, if there were one in his gift suitable for him. Now,
although Paine had been absent for many years, he had not been forgotten
by the Americans. The echo of the noise he made in England reached our
shores; and English echoes were more attentively listened to then even
than at present. His "Rights of Man" had been much read in this country.
Indeed, it was asserted, and upon pretty good authority, that Jefferson
himself, when Secretary of State, had advised and encouraged the
publication of an American edition as an antidote to the "Davila" of Mr.
Adams. Even the "Age of Reason" had obtained an immense circulation from
the great reputation of the author. It reminded the Rev. Mr. Goodrich,
and other Orthodox New-Englanders, of Milton's description of Death,--

"Black it stood as night,
Fierce as ten furies, terrible as hell."

Yet numbers of people, nothing frightened, would buy and read. "No
work," Dr. Francis tells us, "had a demand for readers comparable to
that of Paine, The 'Age of Reason,' on its first appearance in New York,
was printed as an orthodox book by orthodox publishers,--doubtless
deceived," the charitable Doctor adds, "by the vast renown which the
author of 'Common Sense' had obtained, and _by the prospects of sale_."
Paine's position in the French Convention, his long imprisonment,
poverty, slovenly habits, and fondness for drink, were all well
known and well talked over. William Cobbett, for one, never lost an
opportunity of dressing up Paine as a filthy monster. He wrote his
life for the sake of doing it more thoroughly. The following extract,
probably much relished at the time, will give some idea of the tone and
temper of this performance:--

"How Tom gets a living now, or what brothel he inhabits, I know not, nor
does it much signify. He has done all the mischief he can do in this
world; and whether his carcass is at last to be suffered to rot on
the earth, or to be dried in the air, is of very little consequence.
Whenever or wherever he breathes his last, he will excite neither sorrow
nor compassion; no friendly hand will close his eyes, not a groan will
be uttered, not a tear will be shed. Like Judas, he will be remembered
by posterity; men will learn to express all that is base, malignant,
treacherous, unnatural, and blasphemous by the single monosyllable of
Paine."

Cobbett also wrote an _ante-mortem_ epitaph, a fit inscription for the
life he had composed. It ends thus:--

"He is crammed in a dungeon and preaches up Reason;
Blasphemes the Almighty, lives in filth like a hog;
Is abandoned in death, and interred like a dog."

This brutal passage does not exaggerate the opinion of Paine's character
held by the good people of America. He was an object of horror
to them,--a rebel against government and against God,--a type of
Jacobinism, a type of Infidelity, and, with what seemed to them, no
doubt, a beautiful consistency, a type of all that was abandoned and
vile. Thomas Paine, a Massachusetts poet of _ci-devant_ celebrity,
petitioned the General Court for permission to call himself Robert Treat
Paine, on the ground that he had no Christian name. In New England,
Christianity and Federalism were looked upon as intimately connected,
and Democracy as a wicked thing, born of Tom Paine, Tom Jefferson, and
the Father of Lies. In this Trinity of Evil, Thomas Paine stood first.

During the struggle for the Presidency, Mr. Jefferson had been accused,
from every Federal stump, of the two unpardonable sins to Yankee
minds,--namely, that his notes could be bought for five shillings in the
pound, and that he did not believe in Revolution. Since his election, he
had been daily reminded of his religious short-comings by keen newspaper
attacks. He knew that he strengthened the hands of his enemies by
inviting home the Arch-Infidel. We are and were then a religious people,
in spite of the declaration in Mr. Adams's Tripolitan treaty that the
government of the United States was "not in any sense founded on the
Christian religion," and Paine could find few admirers in any class. Mr.
Jefferson, too, was well aware that the old man was broken, that the
fire had gone out of him, and that his presence in the United States
could be of no use whatever to the party. But he thought that Paine's
services in the Revolution had earned for him an asylum, and their old
acquaintance made him hasten to offer it. We think that the invitation
to Paine was one of the manliest acts of Jefferson's life.

When the matter became public, there arose a long, loud cry of abuse,
which rang from Massachusetts Bay to Washington City. Anarchy,
confusion, and the downfall of not only church, but state, were
declared to be the unavoidable consequences of Paine's return to our
shores,--that impious apostate! that Benedict Arnold, once useful, and
then a traitor! The "United States Gazette" had ten leaders on the text
of Tom Paine and Jefferson, "whose love of liberty was neither more
rational, generous, or social, than that of the wolf or the tiger." The
"New England Palladium" fairly shrieked:--"What! invite to the United
States that lying, drunken, brutal infidel, who rejoices in the
opportunity of basking and wallowing in the confusion, devastation,
bloodshed, rapine, and murder, in which his soul delights?" Why, even
the French called him the English orang-outang! He was exposed with a
monkey and a bear in a cage in Paris. In 1792, he was forbidden to haunt
the White-Bear Tavern in London. He subsisted for eight years on the
charity of booksellers, who employed him in the morning to correct
proofs; in the afternoon he was too drunk. He lodged in a cellar. He
helped the _poissardes_ to clean fish and open oysters. He lived in
misery, filth, and contempt. Not until Livingston went to France did any
respectable American call upon him. Livingston's attentions to him not
only astonished, but disgusted the First Consul, and gave him a very
mean opinion of Livingston's talents. The critical Mr. Dennie caused his
"Portfolio" to give forth this solemn strain: "If, during the present
season of national abasement, infatuation, folly, and vice, any portent
could surprise, sober men would be utterly confounded by an article
current in all our newspapers, that the loathsome Thomas Paine, a
drunken atheist and the scavenger of faction, is invited to return in
a national ship to America by the first magistrate of a free people.
A measure so enormously preposterous we cannot yet believe has been
adopted, and it would demand firmer nerves than those possessed by Mr.
Jefferson to hazard such an insult to the moral sense of the nation. If
that rebel rascal should come to preach from his Bible to our populace,
it would be time for every honest and insulted man of dignity to flee to
some Zoar as from another Sodom, to shake off the very dust of his feet
and to abandon America." "He is coming," wrote Noah Webster, ("the
mender and murderer of English,") "to publish in America the third part
of the 'Age of Reason.'" And the epigrammatists, such as they were,
tried their goose-quills on the subject:--

"He passed his forces in review,
Smith, Cheetham, Jones, Duane:
'Dull rascals,--these will never do,'
Quoth he,--'I'll send for Paine.'

"Then from his darling den in France
To tempt the wretch to come,
He made Tom's brain with flattery dance
And took the tax from rum."

The Administration editors held their tongues;--the religious side of
the question was too strong for them.

Paine was unable to accept the passage offered him in the frigate, and
returned in a merchant-vessel in the autumn of the next year (1802).
The excitement had not subsided. Early in October, the "Philadelphia
Gazette" announced that "a kind of tumultuous sensation was produced in
the city yesterday evening in consequence of the arrival of the ship
Benjamin Franklin from Havre. It was believed, for a few moments, that
the carcass of Thomas Paine was on board, and several individuals were
seen disgracing themselves by an impious joy. It was finally understood
that Paine had missed his passage by this vessel and was to sail in a
ship to New York. Under the New York news-head we perceive a vessel from
Havre reported. Infidels! hail the arrival of your high-priest!"

A few days later, the infidel Tom Paine, otherwise Mr. Paine, arrived
safely at Baltimore and proceeded thence to Washington. The journalists
gave tongue at once: "Fire! Age of Reason! Look at his nose! He drank
all the brandy in Baltimore in nine days! What a dirty fellow! Invited
home by a brother Tom! Let Jefferson and his blasphemous crony dangle
from the same gallows." The booksellers, quietly mindful of the
opportunity, got out an edition of his works in two volumes.

As soon as he was fairly on shore, Paine took sides with his host, and
commenced writing "Letters to the People of the United States." He
announced in them that he was a genuine Federalist,--not one of that
disguised faction which had arisen in America, and which, losing sight
of first principles, had begun to contemplate the people as hereditary
property: No wonder that the author of the "Rights of Man" was attacked
by this faction: His arrival was to them like the sight of water to
canine madness: He served them for a standing dish of abuse: The leaders
during the Reign of Terror in France and during the late despotism
in America were the same men in character; for how else was it to be
accounted for that he was persecuted by both at the same time? In every
part of the Union this faction was in the agonies of death, and, in
proportion as its fate approached, gnashed its teeth and struggled: He
should lose half his greatness when they ceased to lie. Mr. Adams, as
the late chief of this faction, met with harsh and derisive treatment in
these letters, and did not attempt to conceal his irritation in his own
later correspondence.

Paine's few defenders tried to back him with weak paragraphs in the
daily papers: His great talents, his generous services, "in spite of a
few indiscreet writings about religion," should make him an object of
interest and respect. The "Aurora's" own correspondent sent to his paper
a favorable sketch of Paine's appearance, manner, and conversation:
He was "proud to find a man whom he had admired free from the
contaminations of debauchery and the habits of inebriety which have been
so grossly and falsely sent abroad concerning him." But the enemy had
ten guns to Paine's one, and served them with all the fierceness of
party-hate. A shower of abusive missiles rattled incessantly about his
ears. However thick-skinned a man may be, and protected over all by the
_oes triplex_ of self-sufficiency, he cannot escape being wounded by
furious and incessant attacks. Paine felt keenly the neglect of his
former friends, who avoided him, when they did not openly cut him. Mr.
Jefferson, it is true, asked him to dinners, and invited the British
minister to meet him; at least, the indignant Anglo-Federal editors
said so. Perhaps he offered him an office. If he did, Paine refused it,
preferring "to serve as a disinterested volunteer." Poor old man! his
services were no longer of much use to anybody. The current of American
events had swept past him, leaving him stranded, a broken fragment of a
revolutionary wreck.

When the nine days of wonder had expired in Washington, and the
inhabitants had grown tired of staring at Paine and of pelting him with
abuse, he betook himself to New York. On his way thither, he met with an
adventure which shows the kind of martyrdom suffered by this political
and religious heretic. He had stopped at Bordentown, in New Jersey, to
look at a small place he owned there, and to visit an old friend and
correspondent, Colonel Kirkbride. When he departed, the Colonel drove
him over to Trenton to take the stage-coach. But in Trenton the Federal
and Religious party had the upperhand, and when Paine applied at the
booking-office for a seat to New York the agent refused to sell him one.
Moreover, a crowd collected about his lodgings, who groaned dismally
when he drove away with his friend, while a band of musicians, provided
for the occasion, played the Rogue's March.

Among the editorial celebrities of 1803, James Cheetham, in New York,
was almost as famous as Duane of the "Aurora." Cheetham, like many of
his contemporaries, Gray, Carpenter, Callender, and Duane himself, was
a British subject. He was a hatter in his native land; but a turn for
politics ruined his business and made expatriation convenient. In the
United States, he had become the editor of the "American Citizen," and
was at that time busily engaged in attacking the Federalists and Burr's
"Little Band," for their supposed attempt to elect Mr. Burr in the place
of Mr. Jefferson. To Cheetham, accordingly, Paine wrote, requesting him
to engage lodgings at Lovett's, afterwards the City Hotel. He sent for
Cheetham, on the evening of his arrival. The journalist obeyed the
summons immediately. This was the first interview between Paine and the
man who was to hang, draw, and quarter his memory in a biography. This
libellous performance was written shortly after Paine's death. It was
intended as a peace-offering to the English government. The ex-hatter
had made up his mind to return home, and he wished to prove the
sincerity of his conversion from radicalism by trampling on the remains
of its high-priest. So long as Cheetham remained in good standing with
the Democrats, Paine and he were fast friends; but when he became
heretical and schismatic on the Embargo question, some three or four
years later, and was formally read out of the party, Paine laid the rod
across his back with all his remaining strength. He had vigor enough
left, it seems, to make the "Citizen" smart, for Cheetham cuts and stabs
with a spite which shows that the work was as agreeable to his feelings
as useful to his plans. His reminiscences must be read _multis cum
granis_.

In New York Paine enjoyed the same kind of second-rate ovation as in
Washington. A great number of persons called upon him, but mostly of the
laboring class of emigrants, who had heard of the "Rights of Man,"
and, feeling disposed to claim as many rights as possible in their new
country, looked with reverence upon the inventor of the system.
The Democratic leaders, with one or two exceptions, avoided Paine.
Respectabilities shunned him as a contamination. Grant Thorburn was
suspended from church-membership for shaking hands with him. To the boys
he was an object of curious attention; his nose was the burden of their
songs.

Cheetham carried round a subscription-list for a public dinner. Sixty or
seventy of Paine's admirers attended. It went off brilliantly, and was
duly reported in the "American Citizen." Then the effervescence of New
York curiosity subsided; Paine became an old story. He left Lovett's
Hotel for humble lodgings in the house of a free-thinking farrier.
Thenceforward the tale of his life is soon told. He went rarely to his
farm at New Rochelle; he disliked the country and the trouble of keeping
house; and a bullet which whizzed through his window one Christmas Eve,
narrowly missing his head, did not add agreeable associations to the
place. In the city he moved his quarters from one low boarding-house to
another, and generally managed to quarrel with the blacksmiths, bakers,
and butchers, his landlords. Unable to enjoy society suited to his
abilities and large experience of life, Paine called in low company to
help him bear the burden of existence. To the men who surrounded him,
his opinions on all subjects were conclusive, and his shrewd sayings
revelations. Among these respectful listeners, he had to fear neither
incredulity nor disputation. Like his friend Elihu Palmer, and the
celebrated Dr. Priestley, Paine would not tolerate contradiction.
To differ with him was, in his eyes, simply to be deficient in
understanding. He was like the French, lady who naively told Dr.
Franklin, "_Je ne trouve que moi qui aie toujours rasion_." Professing
to adore Reason, he was angry, if anybody reasoned with him. But herein
he was no exception to the general rule,--that we find no persons so
intolerant and illiberal as men professing liberal principles.

His occupation and amusement was to write for the papers articles of
a somewhat caustic and personal nature. Whatever subject occupied the
public mind interested Paine and provoked his remarks. He was bitter in
his attacks upon the Federalists and Burrites for attempting to jockey
Jefferson out of the Presidency. Later, when Burr was acquitted of
treason, Paine found fault with Chief-Justice Marshall for his rulings
during the trial, and gave him notice, that he (Marshall) was "a
suspected character." He also requested Dr. Mitchell, then United States
Senator for New York, to propose an amendment to the Constitution,
authorizing the President to remove a judge, on the address of a
majority of both houses of Congress, for reasonable cause, when
sufficient grounds for impeachment might not exist. General Miranda's
filibustering expedition against Caracas, a greater failure even than
the Lopez raid on Cuba, furnished Paine with a theme. He wrote a
sensible paper on the yellow fever, by request of Jefferson, and one or
two on his iron bridge. He was ardent in the defence of Mr. Jefferson's
pet scheme of a gun-boat navy, and ridiculed the idea of fortifying
New York. "The cheapest way," he said, "to fortify New York will be to
banish the scoundrels that infest it." The inhabitants of that city
would do well, if they could find an engineer to fortify their island in
this way.

When the Pennsylvanians called a Convention in 1805 to amend the
Constitution of the State, Paine addressed them at some length, giving
them a summary of his views on Government, Constitutions, and Charters.
The Creoles of Louisiana sent to Congress a memorial of their "rights,"
in which they included the importation of African slaves. Paine was
indignant at this perversion of his favorite specific for all political
ailments, and took the Franco-Americans soundly to task:--"How dare you
put up a petition to Heaven for such a power, without fearing to be
struck from the earth by its justice?" It is manifest that Paine could
not be a Democrat in good standing now. Mingled with these graver
topics were side-blows at the emissary Cullen, _alias_ Carpenter, an
Englishman, who edited a Federal paper,--replies to Cheetham, reprimands
to Cheetham, and threats to prosecute Cheetham for lying, "unless he
makes a public apology,"--and three letters to Governor Morgan Lewis,
who had incensed Paine by bringing an action for political libel against
a Mr. Thomas Farmer, laying his damages at one hundred thousand dollars.

Among his last productions were two memorials to the House of
Representatives. One can see in these papers that old age had weakened
his mind, and that harsh treatment had soured his feelings towards the
land of his adoption.

"Ma republique a jamais grande et libre,
Cette terre d'amour et d'egalite,"

no longer seemed to him as lovely as when he composed these verses for
a Fourth-of-July dinner in Paris. He claimed compensation for his
services in Colonel Laurens's mission to France in 1781. For his works
he asked no reward. "All the civilized world knows," he writes, "I have
been of great service to the United States, and have generously given
away talents that would have made me a fortune. The country has been
benefited, and I make myself happy in the knowledge of it. It is,
however, proper for me to add, that the mere independence of America,
were it to have been followed by a system of government modelled after
the corrupt system of the English government, would not have interested
me with the unabated ardor it did." "It will be convenient to me to know
what Congress will decide on, because it will determine me, whether,
after so many years of generous services and that in the most perilous
times, and after seventy years of age, I shall continue in this country,
or offer my services to some other country. It will not be to England,
unless there should be a revolution."

The memorial was referred to the Committee on Claims. When Paine heard
of its fate, he addressed an indignant letter to the Speaker of the
House. "I know not who the Committee on Claims are; but if they were
men of younger standing than 'the times that tried men's souls,' and
consequently too young to know what the condition of the country was
at the time I published 'Common Sense,'--for I do not believe that
independence would have been declared, had it not been for the effect of
that work,--they are not capable of judging of the whole of the services
of Thomas Paine. If my memorial was referred to the Committee on Claims
for the purpose of losing it, it is unmanly policy. After so many years
of service, my heart grows cold towards America."

His heart was soon to grow cold to all the world. In the spring of 1809,
it became evident to Paine's attendants that his end was approaching. As
death drew near, the memories of early youth arose vividly in his
mind. He wished to be buried in the cemetery of the Quakers, in whose
principles his father had educated him. He sent for a leading member
of the sect to ask a resting-place for his body in their ground. The
request was refused.

When the news got abroad that the Arch-Infidel was dying, foolish old
women and kindred clergymen, who "knew no way to bring home a wandering
sheep but by worrying him to death," gathered together about his bed.
Even his physician joined in the hue-and-cry. It was a scene of the
Inquisition adapted to North America,--a Protestant _auto da fe_. The
victim lay helpless before his persecutors; the agonies of disease
supplied the place of rack and fagot. But nothing like a recantation
could be wrung from him. And so his tormentors left him alone to die,
and his freethinking smiths and cobblers rejoiced over his fidelity to
the cause.

He was buried on his farm at New Rochelle, according to his latest
wishes. "Thomas Paine. Author of 'Common Sense,'" the epitaph he had
fixed upon, was carved upon his tomb. A better one exists from an
unknown hand, which tells, in a jesting way, the secret of the sorrows
of his later life:--

"Here lies Tom Paine, who wrote in liberty's defence,
And in his 'Age of Reason' lost his 'Common Sense.'"

Ten years after, William Cobbett, who had left England in a fit of
political disgust and had settled himself on Long Island to raise
hogs and ruta-bagas, resolved to go home again. Cobbett had become an
admirer, almost a disciple of Paine. The "Constitution-grinder" of '96
was now "a truly great man, a truly philosophical politician, a mind as
far superior to Pitt and Burke as the light of a flambeau is superior to
that of a rush-light." Above all, Paine had been Cobbett's teacher on
financial questions. In 1803, Cobbett read his "Decline and Fall of the
English System," and then "saw the whole matter in its true light; and
neither pamphleteers nor speech-makers were after that able to raise a
momentary puzzle in his mind." Perhaps Cobbett thought he might excite a
sensation in England and rally about him the followers of Paine, or it
may be that he wished to repair the gross injustice he had done him by
some open act of adherence; at all events, he exhumed Paine's body and
took the bones home with him in 1819, with the avowed intention of
erecting a magnificent monument to his memory by subscription. In the
same manner, about two thousand two hundred and fifty years ago, the
bones of Theseus, the mythical hero of Democracy, were brought from
Skyros to Athens by some Attic [Greek: Kobbetaes]. The description
of the arrival in England we quote from a Liverpool journal of the
day:--"When his last trunk was opened at the Custom-House, Cobbett
observed to the surrounding spectators, who had assembled in great
numbers,--'Here are the bones of the late Thomas Paine.' This
declaration excited a visible sensation, and the crowd pressed forward
to see the contents of the package. Cobbett remarked,--'Great, indeed,
must that man have been whose very bones attract such attention!' The
officer took up the coffin-plate inscribed, 'Thomas Paine, Aged 72. Died
January 8, 1809,' and, having lifted up several of the bones, replaced
the whole and passed them. They have since been forwarded from this town
to London."

At a public dinner given to Cobbett in Liverpool, Paine was toasted as
"the Noble of Nature, the Child of the Lower Orders"; but the monument
was never raised, and no one knows where his bones found their last
resting-place.

Cobbett himself gained nothing by this resurrectionist performance,
except an additional couplet in the party-songs of the day:--

"Let Cobbett of borough-corruption complain,
And go to the De'il with the bones of Tom Paine."

The two were classed together by English Conservatives, as "pestilent
fellows" and "promoters of sedition."

It is now fifty years since Paine died; but the _nil de mortuis_ is no
rule in his case. The evil associations of his later days have pursued
him beyond the grave. A small and threadbare sect of "liberals," as they
call themselves,--men in whom want of skill, industry, and thrift has
produced the usual results,--have erected an altar to Thomas Paine,
and, on the anniversary of his birth, go through with a pointless
celebration, which passes unnoticed, unless in an out-of-the-way corner
of some newspaper. In this class of persons, irreligion is a mere form
of discontent. They have no other reason to give for the faith which
is not in them. They like to ascribe their want of success in life to
something out of joint in the thoughts and customs of society, rather
than to their own shortcomings or incapacity. In France, such persons
would be Socialists and _Rouges_; in this country, where the better
classes only have any reason to rebel, they cannot well conspire against
government, but attack religion instead, and pride themselves on their
exemption from prejudice. The "Age of Reason" is their manual. Its bold,
clear, simple statements they can understand; its shallowness they
are too ignorant to perceive; its coarseness is in unison with their
manners. Thus the author has become the Apostle of Free-thinking
tinkers and the Patron Saint of unwashed Infidelity.

To this generation at large, he is only an indistinct shadow,--a faint
reminiscence of a red nose,--an ill-flavored name, redolent of brandy
and of brimstone, his beverage in life and his well-earned punishment
in eternity, which suggests to the serious mind dirt, drunkenness, and
hopeless damnation. Mere worldlings call him "Tom Paine," in a tone
which combines derision and contempt. A bust of him, by Jarvis, in the
possession of the New York Historical Society, is kept under lock and
key, because it was defaced and defiled by visitors, while a dozen
other plaster worthies that decorate the institution remained intact.
Nevertheless, we suspect that most of our readers, if they cannot date
back to the first decade of the century, will find, when they sift their
information, that they have only a speaking acquaintance with Thomas
Paine, and can give no good reason for their dislike of him.

And it is not easy for the general reader to become intimate with him.
He will find him, of course, in Biographical Dictionaries, Directories
of the City of the Great Dead, which only tell you where men lived, and
what they did to deserve a place in the volume; but as to a life of him,
strictly speaking, there is none. Oldys and Cobbett tried to flay him
alive in pamphlets; Sherwin and Clio Rickman were prejudiced friends and
published only panegyrics. All are out of print and difficult to find.
Cheetham's work is a political libel; and the attempt of Mr. Vail of
the "Beacon" to canonize him in the "Infidel's Calendar," cannot be
recommended to intelligent persons. We might expect to meet with him in
those books of lives so common with us,--collections in which a certain
number of deceased gentlemen are bound up together, so resembling each
other in feature that one might suppose the narratives ground out by
some obituary-machine and labelled afterward to suit purchasers. Even
this "sign-post biography," as the "Quarterly" calls it, Paine has
escaped. He was not a marketable commodity. There was no demand for him
in polite circles. The implacable hand of outraged orthodoxy was against
him. Hence his memory has lain in the gutter. Even his friend Joel
Barlow left him out of the "Columbiad," to the great disgust of Clio
Rickman, who thought his name should have appeared in the Fifth Book
between Washington and Franklin. Surely Barlow might have found room for
him in the following "Epic List of Heroes":--

"Wythe, Mason, Pendleton, with Henry joined,
Rush, Rodney, Langdon, friends of humankind,
Persuasive Dickinson, the farmer's boast,
Recording Thompson, pride of all the host,
Nash, Jay, the Livingstons, in council great,
Rutledge and Laurens, held the rolls of fate."

But no! Neither author nor authorling liked to have his name seen in
company with Thomas Paine. And when a curious compiler has taken him up,
he has held him at arm's length, and, after eyeing him cautiously, has
dropped him like some unclean and noxious animal.

Sixty years ago, Paine's friends used to say, that, "in spite of some
indiscreet writings on the subject of religion," he deserved the respect
and thanks of Americans for his services. We think that he deserves
something more at the present day than this absolute neglect. There is
stuff enough in him for one volume at least. His career was wonderful,
even for the age of miraculous events he lived in. In America, he was a
Revolutionary hero of the first rank, who carried letters in his pocket
from George Washington, thanking him for his services. And he managed
besides to write his radical name in large letters in the History of
England and of France. As a mere literary workman, his productions
deserve notice. In mechanics, he invented and put up the first iron
bridge of large span in England; the boldness of the attempt still
excites the admiration of engineers. He may urge, too, another claim
to our attention. In the legion of "most remarkable men" these United
States have produced or imported, only three have achieved infamy:
Arnold, Burr, and Paine. What are Paine's titles to belong to this trio
of disreputables? Only these three: he wrote the "Age of Reason"; was a
Democrat, perhaps an unusually dirty one; and drank more brandy than was
good for him. The "Age of Reason" is a shallow deistical essay, in which
the author's opinions are set forth, it is true, in a most offensive and
irreverent style. As Dr. Hopkins wrote of Ethan Allen,--

"One hand was clenched to batter noses,
While t'other scrawled 'gainst Paul and Moses."

But who reads it now? On the other hand, no one who has studied Paine's
career can deny his honesty and his disinterestedness; and every
unprejudiced reader of his works must admit not merely his great ability
in urging his opinions, but that he sincerely believed all he wrote. Let
us, then, try to forget the carbuncled nose, the snuffy waistcoat, the
unorthodox sneer. We should wipe out his later years, cut his life short
at 1796, and take Paine when he wrote "Common Sense," Paine when he
lounged at the White Bear in Piccadilly, talking over with Horne Tooke
the answer to Mr. Burke's "Reflections," and Paine, when, as "foreign
benefactor of the species," he took his seat in the famous French
Convention.

It would repay some capable author to dig him up, wash him, and show him
to the world as he was. A biography of him would embrace the history of
the struggle which established the new theory of politics in government.
He is the representative man of Democracy in both hemispheres,--a good
subject in the hands of a competent artist; and the time has arrived, we
think, when justice may be done him. As a general rule, it is yet too
soon to write the History of the United States since 1784. Half a
century has not been sufficient to wear out the bitter feeling excited
by the long struggle of Democrats and Federalists. Respectable
gentlemen, who, more pious than Aeneas, have undertaken to carry their
grandfathers' remains from the ruins of the past into the present era,
seem to be possessed with the same demon of discord that agitated the
deceased ancestors. The quarrels of the first twenty years of the
Constitution have become chronic ink-feuds in certain families. A
literary _vendetta_ is carried on to this day, and a stab with the steel
pen, or a shot from behind the safe cover of a periodical, is certain
to be received by any one of them who offers to his enemy the glorious
opportunity of a book. Where so much temper exists, impartial history is
out of the question.

Our authors, too, as a general rule, have inherited the political jargon
of the last century, and abound in "destiny of humanity," "inalienable
rights," "virtue of the sovereign people," "base and bloody despots,"
and all that sort of phrase, earnest and real enough once, but little
better than cant and twaddle now. They seem to take it for granted that
the question is settled, the rights of man accurately defined, the true
and only theory of government found,--and that he who doubts is blinded
by aristocratic prejudice or is a fool. We must say, nevertheless, that
Father Time has not yet had years enough to answer the great question of
governing which was proposed to him in 1789. Some of the developments
of our day may well make us doubt whether the last and perfect form,
or even theory, is the one we have chosen. "_Les monarchies absolues
avaient deshonore le despotisme: prenons garde que les republiques
democratiques ne le rehabilitent_." But Paine's part in the history of
this country after 1783 is of so small importance, that in a life of him
all such considerations may be safely waived. The democratic movement of
the last eighty years, be it a "finality," or only a phase of progress
towards a more perfect state, is the grand historical fact of modern
times, and Paine's name is intimately connected with it. One is always
ready to look with lenity on the partiality of a biographer,--whether he
urge the claims of his hero to a niche in the Valhalla of great men, or
act as the _Advocatus Diaboli_ to degrade his memory.

OF BOOKS AND THE READING THEREOF.

BEING A THIRD LETTER FROM PAUL POTTER, OF NEW YORK, IN THE CITY AND
COUNTY OF NEW YORK, ESQ., TO THE DON ROBERTO WAGONERO, OF WASHINGTON,
_olim_, BUT _nunc_ OF NOWHEREINPARTICULAR.

If any person, O my Bobus, had foretold that all these months would go
by before I should again address you, he would have exhibited prescient
talent great enough to establish twenty "mediums" in a flourishing
cabalistic business. Alas! they have been to me months of fathomless
distress, immensurate and immeasurable sorrow, and blank, blind, idiotic
indifference, even to books and friends, which, next to the nearest and
dearest, are the world's most priceless possession. But now that I have
a little thrown off the stupor, now that kindly Time has a little balmed
my cruel wounds, I come back to my books and to you,--to the _animi
remissionem_ of Cicero,--to these gentle sympathizers and faithful
solacements,--to old studies and ancient pursuits. There is a Latin
line, I know not whose, but Swift was fond of quoting it,--

_"Vertiginosus, inops, surdus, male gratus amicis,"_--

which I have whispered to myself, with prophetic lips, in the long, long
watches of my lonesome nights. Do you remember--but who that has read
it does not?--that affecting letter, written upon the death of his
wife, by Sir James Mackintosh to Dr. Parr? "Such was she whom I have
lost; and I have lost her when her excellent natural sense was rapidly
improving, after eight years of struggle and distress had bound us fast
together and moulded our tempers to each other,--when a knowledge of
her worth had refined my youthful love into friendship, before age had
deprived it of much of its original ardor. I lost her, alas! (the choice
of my youth, and the partner of my misfortunes,) at a moment when I had
the prospect of her sharing my better days."

But if I am getting old, although perhaps prematurely, I must be casting
about for the _subsidia senectuti_. Swift wrote to Gay, that these
were "two or three servants about you and a convenient house"; justly
observing, that, "when a man grows hard to please, few people care
whether he be pleased or no"; and adding, sadly enough, "I should hardly
prevail to find one visitor, if I were not able to hire him with a
bottle of wine"; and so the sorrowful epistle concludes with the
sharpest grief of all: "My female friends, who could bear with me very
well a dozen years ago, have now forsaken me." It is odd that Montaigne
should have hit upon the wine also as among the _subsidia senectuti_;
although the sage Michael complains, as you will remember, that old men
do not relish their wine, or at least the first glass, because "the
palate is furred with phlegms." But I care little either for the liquor
or the lackeys, and not much, I fear, at present, for "the female
friends." I have, then, nothing left for it but to take violently to
books; for I doubt not I shall find almost any house convenient, and I
am sure of one at last which I can claim by a title not to be disturbed
by all the precedents of Cruise, and in which no mortal shall have a
contingent remainder.

To books, then, I betake myself,--to books, "the immortal children" of
"the understanding, courage, and abilities" of the wise and good,--ay!
and to inane, drivelling, doting books, the bastard progeny of vanity
and ignorance,--books over which one dawdles in an amusing dream and
pleasant spasm of amazement, and which teach us wisdom as tipsy Helots
taught the Spartan boys sobriety. Montaigne "never travelled without
books, either in peace or war"; and as I found them pleasant in happier
days, so I find them pleasant now. Of course, much of this omnivorous
reading is from habit, and, _invita Minerva_, cannot be dignified by
the name of study,--that stiff, steady, persistent, uncompromising
application of the mind, by virtue of which alone the _Pons Asinorum_
can be crossed, and the Forty-Seventh Problem of Euclid--which I
entirely disbelieve--mastered.

I own to a prodigious respect, entertained since my Sophomore year at
the University, for those collegiate youth whose terribly hard study of
Bourdon and Legendre seems to have such a mollifying effect upon their
heads,--but, as the tradesmen say, that thing is "not in my line." I
would rather have a bundle of bad verses which have been consigned to
the pastry-cook. I suppose--for I have been told so upon good authority
--that, if "equals be taken from equals, the remainders are equal." I do
not see why they should not be, and, as a citizen of the United States
of America, the axiom seems to me to be entitled to respect. When a
youthful person, with a piece of chalk in his hand, before commencing
his artistic and scientific achievements upon the black-board, says:
"Let it be granted that a straight line may be drawn from any one point
to any other point," I invariably answer, "Of course,--by all manner of
means,"--although you know, dear Don, that, if I should put him upon
mathematical proof of the postulate, I might bother him hugely. But
when we come to the Fourteenth Proposition of Euclid's Data,--when I am
required to admit, that, "if a magnitude together with a given magnitude
has a given ratio to another magnitude, the excess of this other
magnitude above a given magnitude has a given ratio to the first
magnitude; and if the excess of a magnitude above a given magnitude has
a given ratio to another magnitude, this other magnitude together with a
given ratio to the first magnitude,"--I own to a slight confusion of
my intellectual faculties, and a perfect contempt for John Buteo and
Ptolemy. Then, there is Butler's "Analogy"; an excellent work it is, I
have been told,--a charming work to master,--quite a bulwark of our
faith; but as, in my growing days, it was explained to me, or rather was
not explained, before breakfast, by a truculent Doctor of Divinity, whom
I knew to be ugly and felt to be great, of course, the good Bishop and I
are not upon the best of terms.

I suppose that for drilling, training, and pipe-claying the human mind
all these things are necessary. I suppose, that, in our callow days, it
is proper that we should be birched and wear fetters upon our little,
bandy, sausage-like legs. But let me, now that I have come to man's
estate, flout my old pedagogues, and, playing truant at my will, dawdle
or labor, walk, skip, or run, go to my middle in quagmires, or climb to
the hill-tops, take liberties with the venerable, snub the respectable,
and keep the company of the disreputable,--dismiss the Archbishop
without reading his homily,--pass by a folio in twenty grenadier volumes
to greet a little black-coated, yellow-faced duodecimo,--speak to the
forlorn and forsaken, who have been doing dusty penance upon cloistered
shelves in silent alcoves for a century, with none so poor to do them
reverence,--read here one little catch which came from lips long ago
as silent as the clod which they are kissing, and there some forgotten
fragment of history, too insignificant to make its way into the world's
magnificent chronologies,--snapping up unconsidered trifles of
anecdote,--tasting some long-interred _bon-mot_ and relishing some
disentombed scandal,--pausing over the symphonic prose of Milton, only
to run, the next moment, to the Silenian ribaldry of Tom Brown the
younger,--and so keeping up a Saturnalia, in which goat-footed sylvans
mix with the maidens of Diana, and the party-colored jester shakes
his truncheon in the face of Plato. Only in this wild and promiscuous
license can we taste the genuine joys of true perusal.

I suppose, my dear friend, that, when you were younger and foolisher
than you now are, you were wont, after the reading of some dismal
work upon diet and health, to take long, constitutional walks. You
"toddled"--pardon the vulgar word!--so many miles out and so many miles
in, at just such a pace, in just the prescribed time, during hours fixed
as the Fates; and you wondered, when you came home to your Graham bread
and cold water, that you did not bring an appetite with you. You had
performed incredible pedestrian achievements, and were not hungry, but
simply weary. It is of small use to try to be good with malice prepense.
Nature is nothing, if not natural. If I am to read to any purpose,
I must read with a relish, and browse at will with the bridle off.
Sometimes I go into a library, the slow accretion of a couple of
centuries, or perhaps the mushroom growth from a rich man's grave, a
great collection magically convoked by the talisman of gold. At the
threshold, as I ardently enter, the flaming sword of regulation is
waving. Between me and the inviting shelves are fences of woven iron;
the bibliographic Cerberus is at his sentryship; when I want a full
draught, I must be content with driblets; and the impatient messengers
are sworn to bring me only a single volume at a time. To read in such a
hampered and limited way is not to read at all; and I go back, after
the first fret and worry are over, to the little collection upon my
garret-shelf, to greet again the old familiar pages. I leave the main
army behind,--"the lordly band of mighty folios," "the well-ordered
ranks of the quartos," "the light octavos," and "humbler duodecimos,"
for

"The last new play, and frittered magazine,"--

for the sutlers and camp-followers, "pioneers and all," of the
grand army,--for the prizes, dirty, but curious, rescued from the
street-stall, or unearthed in a Nassau-Street cellar,--for the books
which I thumbed and dogs-eared in my youth.

I have, in my collection, a little Divinity, consisting mostly of quaint
Quaker books bequeathed to me by my grandmother,--a little Philosophy, a
little Physic, a little Law, a little History, a little Fiction, and a
deal of Nondescript stuff. Once, when the _res angusta domi_ had become
_angustissima_, a child of Israel was, in my sore estate, summoned to
inspect the dear, shabby colony, and to make his sordid aureat or argent
bid therefor. Well do I remember how his nose, which he could not,
if his worthless life had depended upon it, render _retrousse_, grew
sublimely curvilinear in its contempt, as his hawk-eyes estimated my
pitiful family. I will not name the sum which he offered, the ghoul, the
vampire, the anthropophagous jackal, the sneaking would-be incendiary
of my little Alexandrian, the circumcised Goth! He left me, like
Churchill's Scotch lassie, "pleased, but hungry"; and I found, as
Valentine did in Congreve's "Love for Love," "a page doubled down in
Epictetus which was a feast for an emperor."

I own, my excellent Robert, that a bad book is, to my taste, sometimes
vastly more refreshing than a good one. I do not wonder that Crabbe,
after he had so sadly failed in his medical studies, should have
anathematized the medical writers in this fine passage:--

"Ye frigid tribe, on whom I waited long
The tedious hours, and ne'er indulged in song!
Ye first seducers of my easy heart,
Who promised knowledge ye could not impart!
Ye dull deluders, Truth's destructive foes!
Ye Sons of Fiction, clad in stupid prose!
Ye treacherous leaders, who, yourselves in doubt,
Light up false fires, and send us far about!--
Still may yon spider round your pages spin,
Subtle and slow, her emblematic gin!
Buried in dust and lost in silence dwell!
Most potent, grave, and reverend friends,--farewell!"

I acknowledge the vigor of these lines, which nobody could have written
who had not been compelled, in the sunny summer-days, to bray drugs in a
mortar. Yet who does not like to read a medical book?--to pore over its
jargon, to muddle himself into a hypo, and to imagine himself afflicted
with the dreadful disease with the long Latin name, the meaning of which
he does not by any means comprehend? And did not the poems of our friend
Bavius Blunderbore, Esq., which were of "a low and moderate sort," cause
you to giggle yourself wellnigh into an asphyxy,--calf and coxcomb as
he was? Is not ----'s last novel a better antidote against melancholy,
stupendously absurd as it is, than foalfoot or plantain, featherfew or
savin, agrimony or saxifrage, or any other herb in old Robert Burton's
pharmacopoeia? I am afraid that we are a little wanting in gratitude,
when we shake our sides at the flaying of Marsyas by some Quarterly of
Apollo,--to the dis-cuticlcd, I mean. If he had not piped so stridently,
we should not have had half so much sport; yet small largess does the
miserable minstrel get for tooting tunelessly. Let us honor the brave
who fall in the battle of print. 'Twas a noble ambition, after all,
which caused our asinine friend to cloak himself in that cast leonine
skin. Who would be always reciting from a hornbook to Mistress Minerva?
What, I pray you, would become of the corn, if there were no scarecrows?
All honor to you, then, my looped and windowed sentinel, standing upon
the slope of Parnassus,--standing so patiently there, with your straw
bowels, doing yeoman-service, spite of the flouts and gibes and cocked
thumbs of Zoilus and his sneering, snarling, verjuicy, captious
crew,--standing there, as stood the saline helpmate of Lot, to fright
our young men and virgins from the primrose-pitfalls of Poesy,--standing
there to warn them against the seductions of Phoebus, and to teach them
that it is better to hoe than to hum!

The truth is, that the good and clever and _polyphloisboic_ writers have
too long monopolized the attention of the world, so that the little,
well-intentioned, humble, and stupid plebeians of the guild have been
snubbed out of sight. Somebody--the name is not given, but I shrewdly
suspect Canon Smith--wrote to Sir James Mackintosh,--"Why do you not
write three volumes quarto? You only want this to be called the greatest
man of your time. People are all disposed to admit anything we say of
you, but I think it unsafe and indecent to put you so high without
something in quarto." This was, of course, half fun and half truth.
As there is, however, little need of setting the world on fire to
demonstrate some chemical theory, so it is possible that the flame of
culture may be cherished without kindling a conflagration, and truth
transmitted from sire to son without the construction of edificial
monsters too big for the knees, too abstruse for the brains, and too
great for the lifetime of humanity. I am not a very constant reader
of Mr. Robert Browning, but I own to many a pleasant grin over his
Sibrandus Schafnabrugensis dropped into the crevice of the plum-tree,
and afterward pitifully reclaimed, and carried to its snug niche with
the promise,--

"A.'s book shall prop you up, B.'s shall cover you,
Here's C. to be grave with, or D. to be gay;
And with E. on each side, and F. right over you,
Dry-rot at ease till the Judgment Day!"

How often, when one is roving through a library in search of adventures,
is he encountered by some inflated champion of huge proportions, who
turns out to be no better than a barber, after all! Gazing upon

"That weight of wood, with leathern coat o'erlaid,
Those ample clasps, of solid metal made,
The close-pressed leaves, unloosed for many an age,
The dull red edging of the well-filled page,
On the broad back the stubborn ridges rolled,
Where yet the title stands, in burnished gold,"--

what wisdom, what wit, what profundity, what vastness of knowledge,
what a grand gossip concerning all things, and more beside, did we
anticipate, only to find the promise broken, and a big impostor with no
more muscle than the black drone who fills the pipes and sentries the
seraglio of the Sophi or the Sultan! The big, burly beggars! For a
century nobody has read them, and therefore everybody has admitted them
to be great. They are bulky paradoxes, and find a good reputation in
neglect,--as some fools pass for philosophers by preserving a close
mouth and a grave countenance.

"Safe in themselves, the ponderous works remain."

It was a keen sense of this disproportion between size and sense which
barbed the sharpest arrows of Dr. Swift. Nobody ever imposed upon him
either by bigness or by bluster. "The Devil take stupidity," once cried
the Dean of St. Patrick's, "that it will not come in to supply the want
of philosophy!" So in the Introduction to "The Tale of a Tub," he, half
in jest and half in earnest, declares that "wisdom is like a cheese,
whereof to a judicious taste the maggots are the best." _Vive la
bagatelle!_ trembled upon his lips at the age of threescore; and he
amused himself with reading the most trifling books he could find, and
writing upon the most trifling subjects. Lord Bolingbroke wrote to him
to beg him "to put on his philosophical spectacles," and wrote with
but small success. Pope wrote to him, "to beg it of him, as a piece of
mercy, that he would not laugh at his gravity, but permit him to wear
the beard of a philosopher until he pulled it off and made a jest of it
himself." Old Weymouth, in the latter part of Anne's reign, said to
him, in his lordly Latin, "_Philosopha verba ignava opera,_" and Swift
frequently repeated the sarcasm. One cannot figure him as the "laughing
old man" of Anacreon, for there was certainly a dreadful dash of vinegar
in his composition; but if he did not hate hard enough, hit hard enough,
and weigh men, motives, and books, nicely enough to satisfy Dr. Johnson,
the Bolt-Courtier must have been a very leech of verjuice. There is a
passage in one of his letters to Pope,--I cannot just now put my hand
upon it,--in which he suggests, in rather coarse language, the subject
of "The Beggar's Opera" as a capital subject for their common friend,
Gay. And yet one can barely suppress a sigh at all this luxury of
levity, when he remembers that dreadful "_Ubi saeva indignatio ulterius
cor lacerare nequit_," and reflects upon the hope deferred which vented
itself in that stinging couplet,--

"In every court the parallel will hold; And kings, like private folks,
are bought and sold."

I remember a hack-writer,--and of such, I am afraid, is too exclusively
my literary kingdom,--who classified the vices which Swift smote so
fearfully in "The Voyage to the Houyhnhnms"; and the curious catalogue
contained "avarice, fraud, cheating, violence, rapine, extortion,
cruelty, oppression, tyranny, rancor, envy, malice, detraction,
hatred, revenge, murder, bribery, corruption, pimping, lying, perjury,
subornation, treachery, ingratitude, gaming, flattery, drunkenness,
gluttony, luxury, vanity, effeminacy, cowardice, pride, impudence,
hypocrisy, infidelity, blasphemy, idolatry, and innumerable other vices,
many of them the notorious characteristics of the bulk of humankind."
Delightful catalogue! How odd, indeed, that a man with such work to do
should not have sported with Amaryllis, or played with the tangles of
Neaera's hair,--should not have worn well-anointed love-locks and snowy
linen,--should, on the other hand, have bared his brawny arm, and sent
the hissing flail down swiftly upon the waled and blistered back of
Sham! How much better would it have been, if he had written a history,
in twelve elephantine volumes, of the rise, culmination, and decay of
the Empire of Barataria, which we would have gone to prison, the rack,
and the drop, with rapture rather than read!

How low seems Fielding, with his pot-house heroes, Tom Jones, Squire
Western, and Jonathan Wild, when we contrast them with the elegant,
cleanly-polished, and extremely proper Sir Charles Grandison! What a
coarse drab is Molly Seagrim, when juxtaposited with the princess of all
prudes, the indomitably virtuous Pamela! How childish was it of Cowper
to sing of sofas, poultry, rabbits, orchards, meadows, and barnyards!
How much more nobly employed was John Dryden in manufacturing a
brand-new, truculent, loud-voiced, massively-calved, ensiferous
Alexander! Who but an addle-headed sot would have wandered up and down
the lanes, like Morland, chalking out pigs and milkmaids, when he might
have been painting, like Barry, pictures, by the acre, of gods and
goddesses enacting incomprehensible allegories! Let us be respectable, O
my Bobus, and wear good coats and the best hats to be had for money or
upon credit; let us carefully conceal our connection with "The Gotham
Revolver," although the honest people who print it do give us our beer
and mutton; let us write great histories which nobody will read, engage
in tractations to which nobody will listen, build twelve-storied epics
which nobody will publish, and invent Gordian philosophies which nobody
can untie. Surely it is quite time for Minerva to have a general
house-cleaning, to put on a fresh smock, and to live cleanly. Rabelais
shall be washed, and Sterne sad-ironed into gravity; De Foe shall be
made as decorous as a tract; Mandeville shall be reburned, and we will
kindle the fire with half the leaves of this dry and yellow Montaigne.
Nobody shall approach the waters of Castaly save upon stilts; and
whoever may giggle, as he takes his physic, shall be put upon a
dreadfully plentiful allowance of Guieciardini for bread, and of the
poems of ----- ------- for water.

But, alas! Brother Bobus, where to begin our purification, and where to
end it? We may, like the curate in "Don Quixote," reprieve Amadis de
Gaul, but shall we, therefore, make Esplandian, "his lawful-begotten
son," a foundation for the funeral-pile we are to set a-blazing
presently? To be sure, there is sense in the observation of the good and
holy priest upon that memorable occasion. "This," said the barber, "is
Amadis of Greece; and it is my opinion that all those upon this side are
of the same family." "Then pitch them all into the yard," responded
the priest; "for, rather than miss the satisfaction of roasting Queen
Pintiquiniestra and the pastorals of Darinel the Shepherd and his damned
unintelligible speculations, I would burn my own father along with
them, if I found him playing at knight-errantry." So into the yard went
"Olivante de Laura, the nonsensical old blockhead," "rough and dull
Florismart of Hyrcania," "noble Don Platir," with nothing in him
"deserving a grain of pity," Bernardo del Carpio, and Roncesvalles, and
Palmerin de Oliva. What a delicious scene it is! The fussy barber, tired
of reading titles and proceeding to burn by wholesale, passing down
books in armfuls to the eager housekeeper, more ready to burn them than
ever she had been to weave the finest lace. And how charming is the hit
of the Curate! "Certainly, these cannot be books of knight-errantry,
they are too small; you'll find they are only poets,"--the supplication
of the niece that the singers should not be spared, lest her uncle, when
cured of his knight-errantry, should read them, become a shepherd,
and wander through forests and fields,--"nay, and what is more to be
dreaded, turn poet, which is said to be a disease absolutely incurable."
So down went "the longer poems" of Diana de Montemayor, the whole of
Salmantino, with the Iberian Shepherd and the Nymphs of Henares. The
impatience of the curate, who, completely worn out, orders all the rest
to be burned _a canga cerrada_, fitly rounds the chapter, and sends us
in good-humor from the _auto da fe_, while the poor knight is in his
bedchamber, all unconscious of the purification in progress, which, if
he had known it, mad as he was, would have made his madness starker
still, thrashing about with his sword, back-stroke and fore-stroke,
and, as Motteux translates it, "making a heavy bustle." 'Tis all droll
enough; especially when we find that the housekeeper made such clean
work of it in the evening, in spite of the good curate's reservations,
and burnt all the books, not only those in the yard, but all those that
were in the house; but I should think twice before I let Freston the
necromancer into any library with which I am acquainted.

Let us be gentle with the denizens of Fame's proud temple, no matter how
they came there. You remember, I suppose, Swift's couplet,--

"Fame has but two gates,--a white and a black one;
The worst they can say is I got in at the back one."

"I have nothing," wrote Pope to his friend Cromwell, "to say to you in
this latter; but I was resolved to write to tell you so. Why should not
I content myself with so many great examples of deep divines, profound
casuists, grave philosophers, who have written, not letters only, but
whole tomes and voluminous treatises about nothing? Why should a fellow
like me, who all his life does nothing, be ashamed to write nothing, and
that, too, to one who has nothing to do but read it?" And so, with "_ex
nihilo nil fit_," he laughingly ends his letter.

And now, while I am at it, I must quote a passage, somewhat germane,
from the very next letter, which Pope wrote to the same friend:--"You
talk of fame and glory, and of the great men of antiquity. Pray, tell
me, what are all your great dead men, but so many living letters? What a
vast reward is here for all the ink wasted by writers and all the blood
spilt by princes! There was in old time one Severus, a Roman Emperor. I
dare say you never called him by any other name in your life; and yet
in his days he was styled Lucius, Septimius, Severus, Pius, Pertinax,
Augustus, Parthicus, Adiabenicus, Arabicus, Maximus, and what not? What
a prodigious waste of letters has time made! What a number have here
dropped off, and left the poor surviving seven unattended! For my own
part, four are all I have to take care of; and I'll be judged by you, if
any man could live in less compass. Well, for the future, I'll drown
all high thoughts in the Lethe of cowslip-wine; as for fame, renown,
reputation, take 'em, critics! If ever I seek for immortality here, may
I be damn'd, for there's not much danger in a poet's being damn'd,--

'Damnation follows death in other men,
But your damn'd Poet lives and writes agen.'"

And so they do, even unto the present, otherwise blessed day. But, dear
old friend, is not this sublime sneering? and is there not an honest ray
or two of truth mingled here and there in the colder coruscations of
this wit? Of the sincerity of this repudiation and renunciation so
fashionable in the Pope circle I have nothing to say; but in certain
moods of the mind it is vastly entertaining, and cures one's melancholy
as cautery cures certain physical afflictions. It may be amusing for you
also to notice that Don Quixote's niece and Pope were of the same
mind. She called poetry "a catching and incurable disease," and Pope's
unfortunate Poet "lives and writes agen."

And, after all, Bobus, why should we not be tender with all the
gentlemen who crowd the catalogues and slumber upon the shelves? It may
be all very well for you or me, whose legend should be

"Prandeo, poto, cano, ludo, lego, coeno, quiesco,"

to laugh at them; but who shall say that they did not do their best,
and, if they were stupid, pavonian, arrogant, self-sufficient, and
top-heavy, that they were not honestly so? I always liked that boast of
Flaccus about his "monument harder than brass." It is a cheerful sight
to see a poor devil of an author in his garret, snapping his fingers at
the critics. "No beggar," wrote Pope, "is so poor but he can keep a cur,
and no author so beggarly but he can keep a critic." And, after all,
abuse is pleasanter than contemptuous and silent neglect. I do honestly
believe, that, if it were not for a little too much false modesty, every
author, and especially the poets, would boldly and publicly anticipate
posthumous fame. Do you think that Sir Thomas Urquhart, when he wrote
his "[Greek: EKSKUBALAURON], or, The Discovery of a most Precious
Jewel," etc., fancied that the world would willingly let his
reverberating words faint into whispers, and, at last, into utter
silence?--his "metonymical, ironical, metaphorical, and synecdochal
instruments of elocution, in all their several kinds, artificially
affected, according to the nature of the subject, with emphatical
expressions in things of great concernment, with catachrestical in
matters of meaner moment; attended on each side respectively with
an epiplectic and exegetic modification, with hyperbolical, either
epitatically or hypocoristically, as the purpose required to be
elated or extenuated, they qualifying metaphors, and accompanied
with apostrophes; and, lastly, with allegories of all sorts, whether
apologal, affabulatory, parabolary, aenigmatic, or paroemial"? Would you
have thought that so much sesquipedality could die? Certainly the Knight
of Cromartie did not, and fully believing Posterity would feel an
interest in himself unaccorded to any one of his contemporaries, he
kindly and prudently appended the pedigree of the family of Urquharts,
preserving every step from Adam to himself. This may have been a vanity,
but after all it was a good sturdy one, worthy of a gentleman who could
not say "the sun was setting," but who could and did say "our occidental
rays of Phoebus were upon their turning oriental to the other hemisphere
of the terrestrial globe." Alas! poor Sir Thomas, who must needs babble
the foolish hopes which wiser men reticently keep cloistered in their
own bosoms! who confessed what every scribbler thinks, and so gets
laughed at,--as wantons are carried to the round-house for airing their
incontinent phraseology in the street, while Blowsalinda reads romances
in her chamber without blushing. Modesty is very well; but, after all,
do not the least self-sufficient of us hope for something more than the
dirty dollars,--for kindness, affection, loving perusal, and fostering
shelter, long after our brains have mouldered, and the light of our eyes
has been quenched, and our deft fingers have lost their cunning, and the
places that knew us have forgotten our mien and speech and port forever?
Very, very few of us can join in Sir Boyle Roche's blundering sneer at
posterity, and with the hope of immortality mingles a dread of utter
oblivion here. Will it not be consoling, standing close by the graves
which have been prepared for us, to leave the world some little legacy
of wisdom sedulously gleaned from the fields of the fading past,--some
intangible, but honest wealth, the not altogether worthless accumulation
of an humble, but earnest life,--something which may lighten the load of
a sad experience, illuminate the dark hours which as they have come to
all must come to all through all the ages, or at least divert without
debauching the mind of the idler, the trifler, and the macaroni? I
believe this ingenuous feeling to be very far removed from the wheezy
aspirations of windy ignorance, or the spasms for fame which afflict
with colic the bowels, empty and flatulent, of sheer scribblers and
dunces who take a mean advantage of the invention of printing. Let us
be tender of the honest gentlemen who, to quote Cervantes, "aim at
somewhat, but conclude nothing." I cannot smile at the hopes of the boy
Burns,--

"That _he,_ for poor auld Scotland's sake,
Some usefu' plan or beuk could make,
Or sing a sang at least."

And while I am in a humor for quotation, I must give you this muscular
verse from Henry More's "Platonic Song of the Soul":--

"Their rotten relics lurk close under ground;
With living weight no sense or sympathy
They have at all; nor hollow thundering sound
Of roaring winds that cold mortality
Can wake, ywrapt in sad Fatality:
To horse's hoof that beats his grassie dore
He answers not: the moon in silency
Doth passe by night, and all bedew him o'er
With her cold, humid rayes; but he feels not Heaven's power."

How we shiver in the icy, midnight moonbeams of the recluse of Christ's
College! How preciously golden seem the links of our universal
brotherhood, when the Fates are waving their dark wings around us, and
menace us with their sundering! I am not sure, my worthy Wagonero, that,
rather than see my own little cord finally cut, I would not consent to
be laughed at by a dozen generations, in the hope that it might happen
to me that the thirteenth, out of sheer weariness at the prolonged
lampooning, might grow pitiful at my purgatorial experiences, and so
betake itself to nursing and fondling me into repute, furnishing me
with half-a-dozen of those lynx-eyed commentators who would discern
innumerable beauties and veracities through the calfskin walls of
my beatified bantling. They might find, at last, that I had "the
gold-strung harp of Apollo" and played a "most excellent diapason,
celestial music of the spheres,"--hearing the harmony

"As plainly as ever Pythagoras did,"

when "Venus the treble ran sweet division upon Saturn the bass."

Write for posterity! Pray, whom should we write for, in this age which
makes its own epic upon sounding anvils, and whose lyric is yelled from
the locomotive running a muck through forest and field and beside the
waters no longer still? Write poetry now, when noise has become normal,
and we are like the Egyptians, who never heard the roaring of the fall
of Nilus, because the racket was so familiar to them! The age "capers
in its own fee simple" and cries with the Host in "The Merry Devil of
Edmonton," "Away with punctilios and orthography!" Write poetry now!
Thank you, my ancient friend! "My fiddlestick cannot play without
rosin." To be sure, I am, like most minstrels, ready for an offer; and
should any lover of melody propose

"Two hundred crowns, and twenty pounds a year
For three good lives,"

I should not be slow in responding, "Cargo! hai Trincalo!" and in
presently getting into the best possible trim and tune. But the poet may
say now, with the Butler in the old play, "Mine are precious cabinets,
and must have precious jewels put into them; and I know you to be
merchants of stock-fish, dry meat, and not men for my market; then
vanish!"

Barrow said that "poetry was a kind of ingenious nonsense"; and I think,
that, deceived by the glut, the present time is very much of Barrow's
mind. But, courage, my music-making masters! Your warbling, if it be of
genuine quality, shall echo upon the other side of the hill which hides
the unborn years. Only be sure, the song be pure; and you may "give the
_fico_ to your adversaries." You may live in the hearts and upon the
lips of men and women yet unborn; and should the worst come, you may
figure in "The Bibliographer's Manual," with a star of honor
against your name, to indicate that you are exceedingly scarce and
proportionally valuable; rival collectors, with fury in their faces,
will run you up to a fabulous price at the auction, and you will at last
be put into free quarters for life in some shady alcove upon some lofty
shelf, with unlimited rations of dust, as you glide into a vermiculate
dotage. Why should you be faint-hearted, when the men of the stalls ask
such a breath-stretching price for the productions of William Whitehead,
Esq., who used to celebrate the birthdays of old George the Third after
this fashion:--

"And shall the British lyre be mute,
Nor thrill through all its trembling strings,
With oaten reed and pastoral flute
While every vale responsive rings?"

Ben Jonson called Inigo Jones Sir Lanthorn Leatherhead, but St. Paul's
still stands; and how many flies are there in the sparkling amber of
"The Dunciad"! Have the critics, poor birdling, torn your wings, and
mocked at your recording? I know, as Howell wrote to "Father Ben," that
"the fangs of a bear and the tusks of a wild-boar don't bite worse and
make deeper gashes than a goose-quill sometimes; no, not the badger
himself, who is said to be so tenacious of his bite that he will not
give over his hold until he feels his teeth meet and bone crack." I know
all about it, my minstrel boy! for have I not, in my day, given and
taken, and shouldered back again when I have been shouldered? Pray, do
not finger your eyes any longer! Screw your lyre up to concert pitch,
and go on with your stridulous performances! Neither you nor I know how
bad may be the taste of our grandchildren, or how high you may stand
when they have

"Made prostitute and profligate the Muse."

If you cannot be a poet, be a poetaster; and if you cannot be that, be a
poetess, or "she-poet," as Johnson, in his big dictionary, defines the
word. So "gently take all that ungently comes," and hammer away as
sedulously as old Boileau. Somebody will, undoubtedly, in the next age,
relish your rinsings. A poet, you know, is a prophet. Console yourself
by vaticinating in the bower of your bed-chamber, as you count the feet
upon your fingers, your own immortality. If 'tis a delusion, 'tis a
cheap one, to which even a poet can afford to treat himself. Play with
and humor your life, till you fall asleep, and then the care will be
over! Meanwhile, you must be more stupid than I think, if you cannot
find somebody to give you your fodder of flattery. You need not blush,
for I know that you like it, and you need not be ashamed of liking it.
We all do,--we are all women in that regard; although the honestest man
to confess it that I ever heard of was Sir Godfrey Kneller, who said to
Pope, when he was painting his picture, "I can't do so well as I should
do, unless you flatter me a little; pray, flatter me, Mr. Pope! You know
I love to be flattered."

You see, my excellent Robert, that, by some hocus-pocus which I do not
exactly comprehend, myself, I have introduced a wheel within a wheel, a
letter within a letter, a play within a play, after the manner of
the old dramatists; and I beg you to make a note that the foregoing
admonitions and most sapient counsels are not addressed to you. You are
something of a philosopher; but you are not, like Mr. Stephen Duck,
"something of a philosopher _and_ something of a poet"; for I do not
believe, O fortunate youth, that you ever invoked the ten ladies _minus_
one in your life; and I shrewdly suspect, that, so far from knowing the
difference between a male and a female rhyme, you are unfamiliar with
the close family connection between "trees" and "breeze," or between
"love" and "dove." My episodical remarks are for the benefit of
young Dolce Pianissimo, who has taken, I am sorry to say, to gin,
shirt-collars prodigious, and the minor magazines, and whose friends are
standing aghast and despairing at his lunacy. But, after all, 'tis my
best irony quite thrown away; for the foolish boy will believe me quite
in earnest, and will still be making love to that jade, Mistress Fame,
although he knows well enough how many she has jilted. But as he grows
in stature, he may grow in sense. If you see him very savagely cut up
in "The Revolver," you will recognize the kindly hands which held the
bistoury, scalpel, and tenaculum, and the gentleman who wept while he
wounded.

But I have long enough, I fear too long, tormented you with my drivel.
It must be your consolation, that, in spirit, you have been with me
to-night, as I have thought of the old days, pausing for a moment over
these mute but eloquent companions, to dream or to sigh, and then once
more turning the old familiar pages as I try to forget, for just a
little while, that dear familiar face. If something of indifference has
tinctured these hurried lines, if I have been unjust in my estimate of
the world's honors and the rewards of the Muses, you will forgive me,
if you will remember how the great Burke reduced the value of earthly
honors and emoluments to less than that of a peck of wheat. My fire is
gone out. My candle is flickering in the socket. There is light in the
cold, gray East. Good-morning, Don Bob!--good-morning!

AFTER THE BALL.

They sat and combed their beautiful hair,
Their long, bright tresses, one by one,
As they laughed and talked in the chamber there,
After the revel was done.

Idly they talked of waltz and quadrille,
Idly they laughed, like other girls,
Who over the fire, when all is still,
Comb out their braids and curls.

Robe of satin and Brussels lace,
Knots of flowers and ribbons, too,
Scattered about in every place,
For the revel is through.

And Maud and Madge in robes of white,
The prettiest night-gowns under the sun,
Stockingless, slipperless, sit in the night,
For the revel is done,--

Sit and comb their beautiful hair,
Those wonderful waves of brown and gold,
Till the fire is out in the chamber there,
And the little bare feet are cold.

Then out of the gathering winter chill,
All out of the bitter St. Agnes weather,
While the fire is out and the house is still,
Maud and Madge together,--

Maud and Madge in robes of white,
The prettiest night-gowns under the sun,
Curtained away from the chilly night,
After the revel is done,--

Float along in a splendid dream,
To a golden gittern's tinkling tune,
While a thousand lustres shimmering stream,
In a palace's grand saloon.

Flashing of jewels, and flutter of laces,
Tropical odors sweeter than musk,
Men and women with beautiful faces
And eyes of tropical dusk,--

And one face shining out like a star,
One face haunting the dreams of each,
And one voice, sweeter than others are,
Breaking into silvery speech,--

Telling, through lips of bearded bloom,
An old, old story over again,
As down the royal bannered room,
To the golden gittern's strain,

Two and two, they dreamily walk,
While an unseen spirit walks beside,
And, all unheard in the lovers' talk,
He claimeth one for a bride.

Oh, Maud and Madge, dream on together,
With never a pang of jealous fear!
For, ere the bitter St. Agnes weather
Shall whiten another year,

Robed for the bridal, and robed for the tomb,
Braided brown hair, and golden tress,
There'll be only one of you left for the bloom
Of the bearded lips to press,--

Only one for the bridal pearls,
The robe of satin and Brussels lace,--
Only one to blush through her curls
At the sight of a lover's face.

Oh, beautiful Madge, in your bridal white,
For you the revel has just begun;
But for her who sleeps in your arms to-night
The revel of Life is done!

But robed and crowned with your saintly bliss,
Queen of heaven and bride of the sun,
Oh, beautiful Maud, you'll never miss
The kisses another hath won!

ROCK, TREE, AND MAN.

It is an interesting thought, that will occur to a contemplative mind,
that the world contained, from the time when it was a nebulous mass, all
the materials of the future individuals of the animate and inanimate
creation,--that the elaborate creatures of the vegetable and animal
kingdoms, as well as every mineral, were floating in amorphous masses
through space. Human beings, like genius that was condensed from vapor
at the rubbing of Aladdin's lamp, were diffused in gases, waiting the
touch of the Great Magician's wand to bring them into form and infuse
them with life. In all the distinct creations of God, from the time
when the waters first subsided and the dry land appeared, in everything
organized and inorganized, earth, air, sea, and their inhabitants, there
is no element which was not in existence when the earth was without form
and void.

Philosophers tell us that three hundred and fifty millions of years
elapsed after the globe began to solidify, before it was fitted for the
lowest plants. And more than one million years more were necessary,
after the first plants began to grow upon its young surface, to bring it
forward to the condition which the Divine Father deemed suitable for the
reception of man. If the days of Cain and Abel were the infancy of the
world,--as we have sometimes heard,--when will it come to maturity? Its
divisions of life cannot follow the plan of animated beings; for, with
an embryonic condition of an indefinite period, and an infancy of three
hundred and fifty millions of years, more or less, we can hardly expect
that it will really have begun to enjoy the freedom of adult life,
before the human race will have attained to its earthly limit of
perfectibility, or have so overstocked the surface of the globe as to
make it necessary to remove to some larger sphere.

It is curious, we say, to think that everything now on the earth or
composing its substance was present, though in far different form, at
the beginning,--that the Almighty gathered together in this part of
the universe all the materials out of which to create all the forms of
things which it was his pleasure to evolve here through all time,--that
in that nebulous mass were revolving, not only the gases which were at
last to combine in various manners and proportions to form the rocky
crust and the watery investment of the earth, but that in that dense and
noisome cloud floated also the elements of all the beautiful objects
that furnish the daily enchantments of life. Flowers and trees, birds
and fishes, locusts and mastodons, all things, from the tiniest
animalcule to man, were there, unmodelled, not even in embryo,--their
separate existences then only in the mind of God. There, Christian and
Saracen, Jew and Gentile, Caucasian and Negro, Hindoo and Pariah, all
the now heterogeneous natures which are as oil and water, were blended
in one common vapor.

Finally the condensation of all the gaseous elements began, and the
aeriform masses became liquid, and the waters,--what mineral waters
they were, when they were saturated with granite and marble, diamonds,
rubies, arsenic, and iron!--thus deposited by the vapor, left a gas
above them light enough to bear some faint resemblance to our air.
Still this atmosphere was surcharged with vapors which no lungs could
tolerate, whether of man or reptile; and other steps must be taken to
clear it of its unwholesome properties. Then did the Almighty will
introduce, one after another, the germs of plants,--first of all, the
lower orders, the ferns, which seek the shade, and the lichens, which
grow in damp and dark recesses, mosses, which cling to bare rocks,
living almost on air and water alone,--everything which needed not
bright sunlight to invigorate it nor soil to cling to. Year by year and
age by age did these humble plants extract their nourishment from the
murky vapors that shrouded the earth, and, after fashioning those gases
into a living tissue of stems and leaves, year after year did they die
and lay their remains upon the rocks, accumulating by slow steps a soil
which would in time be capable of giving holding-ground to mightier
plants. The trees came,--and gigantic they must have been; and every
species of tree, shrub, and herb now upon the earth, and of all animals
that walk, fly, or swim, was introduced before the creation of man.

It was as if the elements were too gross for the constitution of man,
when they were first collected from the nebulous mass,--as if they
needed to go through the intermediate forms of plants and animals,
passing in succession from one to another, before they could be
permitted to enter into the bodies of those beings who were to be in
God's likeness. But, in very truth, the elements were unaltered by their
many transmigrations. It was the divine act of God which caused every
plant to spring forth and gave birth to every living thing. Every seed
and every egg was at the first formed by Him. No sudden effort of man's
will, such as that by which Pygmalion was believed to have animated the
work of his chisel, nor any industrious current of electricity, passed
for uninterrupted weeks through the purest gum, and stimulated by the
enthusiasm of a Cross, can transform the worm to a breathing being, or
reach the human climax by slow steps, even if the first one be in the
humble form of a louse. When a new plant appeared, it was the hand of
God that formed the seed. When a new species of animal came upon the
earth, it was the same Power that created it. But the materials were not
new; "out of the dust of the earth" was man created.

Oxygen, Hydrogen, Carbon, and Nitrogen,--do not turn away from us,
gentle reader, we will not be grimly scientific, but a few of the terms
of science must be employed, even here,--these four elements are the
chief ingredients of all vegetable and animal structures. When separated
from their connections, three of them are gases; and the fourth, in
union with one of the others, is also a gas. In various combinations
they form literally the dust of the earth, they make rock and water,
vapor and air. In the hand of the Almighty, they are so many plastic
elements, that form now a plant of the lowliest condition, now a
magnificent oak, now a fish, and now a man. And the germ of each
organized being bequeathes to its offspring the power to reproduce its
likeness,--so that each succeeding generation is a repetition of its
predecessor. There is no change in plants and animals from the first;
the same materials in the same proportions that were selected by the
earliest trees for their composition are chosen now; and in form and
function the last animal is a precise copy of the first of his race.

If we attempt to trace a particle of matter, we shall find its
wanderings endless. Annihilation is a term which is not applicable to
material things. Matter is never destroyed; it rarely rests. Oxygen,
for instance, the most important constituent of our atmosphere, is the
combining element of all things, the medium of communication between the
kingdoms of Nature, the agent of the interchanges that are continually
taking place among all created things. Oxygen keeps life in man, by
combining with his blood at every inhalation; it is absorbed by flowers,
to be employed in the perfection of the fruit; many minerals are
incapable of the various uses of society, until oxygen has attacked and
united with them. It gives us lime and soda, the oil of vitriol, and
common salt; the mineral pigments in common use are impossible without
it; and the beautiful colors of our autumn leaves are due to the
combination of oxygen with their juices. It enters into all plans and
operations with a helping hand; animals and plants owe their lives to
it; but when the shadow of death begins to fall upon them, it is
as ready to aid in their destruction. Like calumny, which blackens
whatsoever is suspected, oxygen pounces upon the failing and completes
their ruin. The processes of fermentation and putrefaction cannot
commence in any substance, until it has first taken oxygen into
combination. Thus, cans of meat, hermetically sealed, with all the air
first carefully expelled, undergo no change so long as the air does not
get access to them. If the minutest opening remain, the oxygen of the
atmosphere combines with the contents of the can, and fermentation or
putrefaction follows. Rust, which takes the keen edge from the knife, is
only another name for oxydation: keep the knife bright, and no oxygen
dares touch it; but the slightest blemish is made a loophole for the
entrance of the ever-watchful enemy, who never again leaves it until its
destruction is complete.

All the elements have a great love of society; they cannot live alone;
they have their likes and their dislikes; they contract alliances which
endure for a time, but are dissolved in favor of stronger attractions.

We have mentioned the names of several natural elements. Let us see what
they are, and what they have to do with man and the kingdoms of Nature.
Beginning with man, let us see what becomes of him in course of time,
what physical metamorphoses he undergoes, to what vile but excellent
uses he is put.

That which forms the bone and muscle of a man this year may be upon his
own table in the shape of potatoes or peaches one summer later. When
Hamlet talked of turning the clay of Alexander into the bung of a
beer-barrel, he spoke the simple truth. In that great play, Shakspeare
appears to have had the transformations of material things much in his
mind; for we find him alluding, in several passages, to the reciprocity
which subsists between the elements of animate and inanimate things,
and between the different members of the same kingdom;--as when, in
conversation with the king about the dead Polonius, he makes Hamlet say,
"A man may fish with the worm that hath eat of a king, and eat the fish
that hath fed of the worm"; or where, over the grave of Ophelia, he
traces the two ancient heroes back to their mother earth, in words some
of which we have quoted.

The ancient mythology, which shadowed forth some truth in all its
fables, turned these facts of Nature to its purpose. The gods of
Greece, when they saw fit to remove a human being from life, sometimes
reproduced him in another form of beauty, without any intermediate
stages of decay. Apollo seemed to have a particular fancy for planting
the boys and girls whom he had loved where he might enjoy their fragrant
society. Thus, a boy named Cyparissus, who had the misfortune to kill a
favorite deer, was so unwilling to be consoled, that he besought Apollo
to make his mourning perpetual; and the kind god changed him into a
cypress, which is still a funereal tree. The modest virgin Daphne, who
succeeded in escaping the violence of his passion, was transformed into
a laurel, which is ever green and pure. And the sweet youth Hyacinthus,
beloved of Apollo, being accidentally killed by a quoit which the god
of day was throwing, that divinity, in his grief, caused those sweet
flowers which bear his name to spring from his blood, where it fell upon
the ground. It is only in the annihilation of the intervals of time
between different forms of existence that these old metamorphoses, which
Ovid relates, are fabulous. If our readers will bear us company a
few steps, through ways which shall have diversions enough to forbid
weariness, we will endeavor to satisfy them that these apparent fables
are very near to every-day truths. We must begin with some plain
statements.

The air which we expel from the lungs at every breath has a large
proportion of carbonic acid. Let a man be shut up in an air-tight room
for a day, and he will have changed nearly all the oxygen in it into
this carbonic acid, and rendered it unfit for animal life. Dogs, cats,
and birds would die in it. But, poisonous as it is to man and other
animals, it is a feast to plants. They want it all day and every day;

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