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Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 5, No. 22, June, 1860 by Various

Part 4 out of 5

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objects that bewitch the world. The best horsemen outside of the cities are
the unshod country-boys, who ride "bare-backed," with only a halter round
the horse's neck, digging their brown heels into his ribs, and slanting
over backwards, but sticking on like leeches, and taking the hardest trot
as if they loved it. This was a different sight on which the Doctor was
looking. The streaming mane and tail of the unshorn, savage-looking, black
horse, the dashing grace with which the young fellow in the shadowy
_sombrero_, and armed with the huge spurs, sat in his high-peaked saddle,
could belong only to the mustang of the Pampas and his master. This bold
rider was a young man whose sudden apparition in the quiet inland town had
reminded some of the good people of a bright, curly-haired boy they had
known some eight or ten years before as little Dick Venner.

This boy had passed several of his early years at the Dudley mansion, the
playmate of Elsie, being her cousin, two or three years older than herself,
the son of Captain Richard Venner, a South American trader, who, as he
changed his residence often, was glad to leave the boy in his brother's
charge. The Captain's wife, this boy's mother, was a lady of Buenos Ayres,
of Spanish descent, and had died while the child was in his cradle. These
two motherless children were as strange a pair as one roof could well
cover. Both handsome, wild, impetuous, unmanageable, they played and fought
together like two young leopards, beautiful, but dangerous, their lawless
instincts showing through all their graceful movements.

The boy was little else than a young _Gaucho_ when he first came to
Rockland; for he had learned to ride almost as soon as to walk, and could
jump on his pony and trip up a runaway pig with the _bolas_ or noose him
with his miniature _lasso_ at an age when some city-children would hardly
be trusted out of sight of a nursery-maid. It makes men imperious to sit a
horse; no man governs his fellows so well as from this living throne. And
so, from Marcus Aurelius in Roman bronze, down to the "man on horseback" in
General Cushing's prophetic speech, the saddle has always been the true
seat of empire. The absolute tyranny of the human will over a noble and
powerful beast develops the instinct of personal prevalence and dominion;
so that horse-subduer and hero were almost synonymous in simpler times, and
are closely related still. An ancestry of wild riders naturally enough
bequeathes also those other tendencies which we see in the Tartars, the
Cossacks, and our own Indian Centaurs,--and as well, perhaps, in the
old-fashioned fox-hunting squire as in any of these. Sharp alternations of
violent action and self-indulgent repose; a hard run, and a long revel
after it: this is what over-much horse tends to animalize a man into. Such
antecedents may have helped to make little Dick Venner a self-willed,
capricious boy, and a rough playmate for Elsie.

Elsie was the wilder of the two. Old Sophy, who used to watch them with
those quick, animal-looking eyes of hers,--she was said to the the
granddaughter of a cannibal chief, and inherited the keen senses belonging
to all creatures which are hunted as game,--Old Sophy, who watched them in
their play and their quarrels, always seemed to be more afraid for the boy
than the girl. "Massa Dick! Massa Dick! don' you be too rough wi' dat gal!
She scratch you las' week, 'n' some day she bite you; 'n' if she bite you,
Massa Dick!"--Old Sophy nodded her head ominously, as if she could say a
great deal more; while, in grateful acknowledgment of her caution, Master
Dick put his two little fingers in the angles of his mouth, and his
forefingers on his lower eyelids, drawing upon these features until his
expression reminded her of something she vaguely recollected in her
infancy,--the face of a favorite deity executed in wood by an African
artist for her grandfather, brought over by her mother, and burned when she
became a Christian.

These two wild children had much in common. They loved to ramble together,
to build huts, to climb trees for nests, to ride the colts, to dance, to
race, and to play at boys' rude games as if both were boys. But wherever
two natures have a great deal in common, the conditions of a first-rate
quarrel are furnished ready-made. Relations are very apt to hate each other
just because they are too much alike. It is so frightful to be in an
atmosphere of family idiosyncrasies; to see all the hereditary uncomeliness
or infirmity of body, all the defects of speech, all the failings of
temper, intensified by concentration, so that every fault of our own finds
itself multiplied by reflections, like our images in a saloon lined with
mirrors! Nature knows what she is about. The centrifugal principle which
grows out of the antipathy of like to like is only the repetition in
character of the arrangement we see expressed materially in certain
seed-capsules, which burst and throw the seed to all points of the compass.
A house is a large pod with a human germ or two in each of its cells or
chambers; it opens by dehiscence of the frontdoor by-and-by, and projects
one of its germs to Kansas, another to San Francisco, another to Chicago,
and so on; and this that Smith may not be Smithed to death and Brown be
Browned into a mad-house, but mix in with the world again and struggle back
to average humanity.

Elsie's father, whose fault was to indulge her in everything, found that it
would never do to let these children grow up together. They would either
love each other as they got older, and pair like wild creatures, or take
some fierce antipathy, which might end nobody could tell where. It was not
safe to try. The boy must be sent away. A sharper quarrel than common
decided this point. Master Dick forgot Old Sophy's caution, and vexed the
girl into a paroxysm of wrath, in which she sprang at him and bit his
arm. Perhaps they made too much of it; for they sent for the old Doctor,
who came at once when he heard what had happened. He had a good deal to say
about the danger there was from the teeth of animals or human beings when
enraged; and as he emphasized his remarks by the application of a pencil of
lunar caustic to each of the marks left by the sharp white teeth, they were
like to be remembered by at least one of his hearers.

So Master Dick went off on his travels, which led him into strange places
and stranger company. Elsie was half pleased and half sorry to have him go;
the children had a kind of mingled liking and hate for each other, just
such as is very common among relations. Whether the girl had most
satisfaction in the plays they shared, or in teasing him, or taking her
small revenge upon him for teasing her, it would have been hard to say. At
any rate, she was lonely without him. She had more fondness for the old
black woman than anybody; but Sophy could not follow her far beyond her own
old rocking-chair. As for her father, she had made him afraid of her, not
for his sake, but for her own. Sometimes she would seem, to be fond of him,
and the parent's heart would yearn within him as she twined her supple arms
about him; and then some look she gave him, some half-articulated
expression, would turn his cheek pale and almost make him shiver, and he
would say kindly, "Now go, Elsie, dear," and smile upon her as she went,
and close and lock the door softly after her. Then his forehead would knot
and furrow itself, and the drops of anguish stand thick upon it. He would
go to the western window of his study and look at the solitary mound with
the marble slab for its head-stone. After his grief had had its way, he
would kneel down and pray for his child as one who has no hope save in that
special grace which can bring the most rebellious spirit into sweet
subjection. All this might seem like weakness in a parent having the charge
of one sole daughter of his house and heart; but he had tried authority and
tenderness by turns so long without any good effect, that be had become
sore perplexed, and, surrounding her with cautious watchfulness as he best
might, left her in the main to her own guidance and the merciful influences
which Heaven might send down to direct her footsteps.

Meantime the boy grew up to youth and early manhood through a strange
succession of adventures. He had been at school at Buenos Ayres,--had
quarrelled with his mother's relatives,--had run off to the Pampas, and
lived with the _Cauchos_,--had made friends with the Indians, and ridden
with them, it was rumored, in some of their savage forays,--had returned
and made up his quarrel,--had got money by inheritance or otherwise,--had
troubled I he peace of certain magistrates,--had found it convenient to
leave the City of Wholesome Breezes for a time, and had galloped off on a
fast horse of his, (so it was said,) with some officers riding after him,
who took good care (but this was only the popular story) not to catch
him. A few days after this he was taking his ice on the Alameda of Mendoza,
and a week or two later sailed from Valparaiso for New York, carrying with
him the horse with which he had scampered over the Plains, a trunk or two
with his newly purchased outfit of clothing and other conveniences, and a
belt heavy with gold and with a few Brazilian diamonds sewed in it, enough
in value to serve him for a long journey.

Dick Venner had seen life enough to wear out the earlier sensibilities of
adolescence. He was tired of worshipping or tyrannizing over the bistred or
umbered beauties of mingled blood among whom he had been living. Even that
piquant exhibition which the Rio de Mendoza presents to the amateur of
breathing sculpture failed to interest him. He was thinking of a far-off
village on the other side of the equator, and of the wild girl with whom he
used to play and quarrel, a creature of a different race from these
degenerate mongrels.

"A game little devil she was, sure enough!"--and as Dick spoke, he bared
his wrist to look for the marks she had left on it: two small white scars,
where the two small sharp upper teeth had struck when she flashed at him
with her eyes sparkling as bright as those glittering stones sewed up in
the belt he wore.--"That's a filly worth noosing!" said Dick to himself, as
he looked in admiration at the sign of her spirit and passion. "I wonder if
she will bite at eighteen as she did at eight! She shall have a chance to
try, at any rate!"

Such was the self-sacrificing disposition with which Richard Venner, Esq.,
a passenger by the Condor from Valparaiso, set foot upon his native shore,
and turned his face in the direction of Rockland, The Mountain, and the
mansion-house. He had heard something, from time to time, of his
New-England relatives, and knew that they were living together as he left
them. And so he heralded himself to "My dear Uncle" by a letter signed
"Your loving nephew, Richard Venner," in which letter he told a very frank
story of travel and mercantile adventure, expressed much gratitude for the
excellent counsel and example which had helped to form his character and
preserve him in the midst of temptation, inquired affectionately after his
uncle's health, was much interested to know whether his lively cousin who
used to be his playmate had grown up as handsome as she promised to be, and
announced his intention of paying his respects to them both at
Rockland. Not long after this came the trunks marked R.V. which he had sent
before him, forerunners of his advent: he was not going to wait for a reply
or an invitation.

What a sound that is,--the banging down of the preliminary trunk, without
its claimant to give it the life which is borrowed by all personal
appendages, so long as the owner's hand or eye is on them! If it announce
the coming of one loved and longed for, how we delight to look at it, to
sit down on it, to caress it in our fancies, as a lone exile walking out on
a windy pier yearns towards the merchantman lying along-side, with the
colors of his own native land at her peak, and the name of the port he
sailed from long ago upon her stern! But if it tell the near approach of
the undesired, inevitable guest, what sound short of the muffled noises
made by the undertakers as they turn the corners in the dim-lighted house,
with low shuffle of feet and whispered cautions, carries such a sense of
knocking-kneed collapse with it as the thumping down in the front entry of
the heavy portmanteau, rammed with the changes of uncounted coming weeks?

Whether the R.V. portmanteaus brought one or the other of these emotions to
the tenants of the Dudley mansion, it might not be easy to settle. Elsie
professed to be pleased with the thought of having an adventurous young
stranger, with stories to tell, an inmate of their quiet, not to say dull,
family. Under almost any other circumstances, her father would have been
unwilling to take a young fellow of whom he knew so little under his roof;
but this was his nephew, and anything that seemed like to amuse or please
Elsie was agreeable to him. He had grown almost desperate, and felt as if
any change in the current of her life and feelings might save her from some
strange paroxysm of dangerous mental exaltation or sullen perversion of
disposition, from which some fearful calamity might come to herself or
others.

Dick had been some weeks at the Dudley mansion. A few days before, he had
made a sudden dash for the nearest large city,--and when the Doctor met
him, he was just returning from his visit.

* * * * *

It had been a curious meeting between the two young persons, who had parted
so young and after such strange relations with each other. When Dick first
presented himself at the mansion, not one in the house would have known him
for the boy who had left them all so suddenly years ago. He was so dark,
partly from his descent, partly from long habits of exposure, that Elsie
looked almost fair beside him. He had something of the family beauty which
belonged to his cousin, but his eye had a fierce passion in it, very unlike
the cold glitter of Elsie's. Like many people of strong and imperious
temper, he was soft-voiced and very gentle in his address, when he had no
special reason for being otherwise. He soon found reasons enough to be as
amiable as he could force himself to be with his uncle and his
cousin. Elsie was to his fancy. She had a strange attraction for him, quite
unlike anything he had ever known in other women. There was something, too,
in early associations: when those who parted as children meet as man and
woman, there is always a renewal of that early experience which followed
the taste of the forbidden fruit,--a natural blush of consciousness, not
without its charm.

Nothing could be more becoming than the behavior of "Richard Venner,
Esquire, the guest of Dudley Venner, Esquire, at his noble mansion," as he
was announced in the Court column of the "Rockland Weekly Universe." He was
pleased to find himself treated with kindness and attention as a
relative. He made himself very agreeable by abundant details concerning the
religious, political, social, commercial, and educational progress of the
South American cities and states. He was himself much interested in
everything that was going on about the Dudley mansion, walked all over it,
noticed its valuable wood-lots with special approbation, was delighted with
the grand old house and its furniture, and would not be easy until he had
seen all the family silver and heard its history. In return, he had much to
tell of his father, now dead,--the only one of the Tenners, beside
themselves, in whose fate his uncle was interested. With Elsie, he was
subdued and almost tender in his manner; with the few visitors whom they
saw, shy and silent,--perhaps a little watchful, if any young man happened
to be among them.

Young fellows placed on their good behavior are apt to get restless and
nervous, all ready to fly off into some mischief or other. Dick Venner had
his half-tamed horse with him to work off his suppressed life with. When
the savage passion of his young blood came over him, he would fetch out the
mustang, screaming and kicking as these amiable beasts are wont to do,
strap the Spanish saddle tight to his back, vault into it, and, after
getting away from the village, strike the long spurs into his sides and
whirl away in a wild gallop, until the black horse was flecked with white
foam, and the cruel steel points were red with his blood. When horse and
rider were alike tired, he would fling the bridle on his neck and saunter
homeward, always contriving to get to the stable in a quiet way, and coming
into the house as calm as a bishop after a sober trot on his steady-going
cob.

After a few weeks of this kind of life, he began to want some more fierce
excitement. He had tried making downright love to Elsie, with no great
success as yet, in his own opinion. The girl was capricious in her
treatment of him, sometimes scowling and repellent, sometimes familiar,
very often, as she used to be of old, teasing and malicious. All this,
perhaps, made her more interesting to a young man who was tired of easy
conquests. There was a strange fascination in her eyes, too, which at times
was quite irresistible, so that he would feel himself drawn to her by a
power which seemed to take away his will for the moment It may have been
nothing but the common charm of bright eyes; but he had never before
experienced the same kind of attraction.

Perhaps she was not so very different from what she had been as a child,
after all. At any rate, so it seemed to Dick Venner, who, as was said
before, had tried making love to her. They were sitting alone in the study
one day; Elsie had round her neck that somewhat peculiar ornament, the
golden _torque_, which she had worn to the great party. Youth is
adventurous and very curious about neck laces, brooches, chains, and other
such adornments, so long as they are worn by young persons of the female
sex. Dick was seized with a great passion for examining this curious chain,
and, after some preliminary questions, was rash enough to lean towards her
and put out his hand toward the neck that lay in the golden coil. She threw
her head back, her eyes narrowing and her forehead drawing down so that
Dick thought her head actually flattened itself. He started involuntarily;
for she looked so like the little girl who had struck him with those sharp
flashing teeth, that the whole scene came back, and he felt the stroke
again as if it had just been given, and the two white scars began to sting
as they did after the old Doctor had burned them with that stick of gray
caustic, which looked so like a slate pencil, and felt so much like the end
of a red-hot poker.

It took something more than a gallop to set him right after this. The next
day he mentioned having received a letter from a mercantile agent with whom
he had dealings. What his business was is, perhaps, none of our
business. At any rate, it required him to go at once to the city where his
correspondent resided.

Independently of this "business" which called him, there may have been
other motives, such as have been hinted at. People who have been living for
a long time in dreary country-places, without any emotion beyond such as
are occasioned by a trivial pleasure or annoyance, often get crazy at last
for a vital paroxysm of some kind or other. In this state they rush to the
great cities for a plunge into their turbid life-baths, with a frantic
thirst for every exciting pleasure, which makes them the willing and easy
victims of all those who sell the Devil's wares on commission. The less
intelligent and instructed class of unfortunates, who venture with their
ignorance and their instincts into what is sometimes called the "life" of
great cities, are put through a rapid course of instruction which entitles
them very commonly to a diploma from the police court. But they only
illustrate the working of the same tendency in mankind at large which has
been occasionally noticed in the sons of ministers and other eminently
worthy people, by many ascribed to that intense congenital hatred for
goodness which distinguishes human nature from that of the brute, but
perhaps as readily accounted for by considering it as the yawning and
stretching of a young soul cramped too long in one moral posture.

Richard Venner was a young man of remarkable experience for his years. He
ran less risk, therefore, in exposing himself to the temptations and
dangers of a great city than many older men, who, seeking the livelier
scenes of excitement to be found in large towns as a relaxation after the
monotonous routine of family-life, are too often taken advantage of and
made the victims of their sentiments or their generous confidence in their
fellow-creatures. Such was not his destiny. There was something about him
which looked as if he would not take bullying kindly. He had also the
advantage of being acquainted with most of those ingenious devices by which
the proverbial inconstancy of fortune is steadied to something more nearly
approaching fixed laws, and the dangerous risks which have so often led
young men to ruin and suicide are practically reduced to somewhat less than
nothing. So that Mr, Richard Venner worked off his nervous energies without
any troublesome adventure, and was ready to return to Rockland in less than
a week, without having lightened the money-belt he wore round his body, or
tarnished the long glittering knife he carried in his boot.

Dick had sent his trunk to the nearest town through which the railroad
leading to the city passed. He rode off on his black horse and left him at
the place where he took the cars. On arriving at the city station, he took
a coach and drove to one of the great hotels. Thither drove also a
sagacious-looking, middle-aged man, who entered his name as "W. Thompson"
in the book at the office immediately after that of "R. Venner." Mr,
"Thompson" kept a carelessly observant eye upon Mr. Venner during his stay
at the hotel, and followed him to the cars when he left, looking over his
shoulder when he bought his ticket at the station, and seeing him fairly
off without obtruding himself in any offensive way upon his
attention. Mr. Thompson, known in other quarters as Detective Policeman
Terry, got very little by his trouble. Richard Venner did not turn out to
be the wife-poisoner, the defaulting cashier, the river-pirate, or the
great counterfeiter. He paid his hotel-bill as a gentleman should always
do, if he has the money, and can spare it. The detective had probably
overrated his own sagacity when he ventured to suspect Mr. Venner. He
reported to his chief that there was a knowing-looking fellow he had been
round after, but he rather guessed he was nothing more than "one o' them
Southern sportsmen."

The poor fellows at the stable where Dick had left his horse had had
trouble enough with him. One of the ostlers was limping about with a lame
leg, and another had lost a mouthful of his coat, which came very near
carrying a piece of his shoulder with it. When Mr. Venner came back for his
beast, he was as wild as if he had just been lassoed, screaming, kicking,
rolling over to get rid of his saddle,--and when his rider was at last
mounted, jumping about in a way to dislodge any common horseman. To all
this Dick replied by sticking his long spurs deeper and deeper into his
flanks, until the creature found he was mastered, and dashed off as if all
the thistles of the Pampas were pricking him.

"One more gallop, Juan!" This was in the last mile of the road before he
came to the town--which brought him in sight of the mansion-house. It was
in this last gallop that the fiery mustang and his rider flashed by the old
Doctor. Cassia pointed her sharp ears and shied to let them pass. The
Doctor turned and looked through the little round glass in the back of his
sulky.

"Dick Turpin, there, will find more than his match!" said the Doctor.

CHAPTER XII.

THE APOLLINEAN INSTITUTE.

_With Extracts from the "Report of the Committee."_

The readers of this narrative will hardly expect any elaborate details of
the educational management of the Apollinean Institute. They cannot be
supposed to take the same interest in its affairs as was shown by the
Annual Committees who reported upon its condition and prospects. As these
Committees were, however, an important part of the mechanism of the
establishment, some general account of their organization and a few
extracts from the Report of the one last appointed may not be out of place.

Whether Mr. Silas Peckham had some contrivance for packing his Committees,
whether they happened always to be made up of optimists by nature, whether
they were cajoled into good-humor by polite attentions, or whether they
were always really delighted with the wonderful acquirements of the pupils
and the admirable order of the school, it is certain that their Annual
Reports were couched in language which might warm the heart of the most
cold-blooded and calculating father that ever had a family of daughters to
educate. In fact, these Annual Reports were considered by Mr. Peckham as
his most effective advertisements.

The first thing, therefore, was to see that the Committee was made up of
persons known to the public. Some worn-out politician, in that leisurely
and amiable transition-state which comes between official extinction and
the paralysis which will finish him as soon as his brain gets a little
softer, made an admirable Chairman for Mr. Peckham, when he had the luck to
pick up such an article. Old reputations, like old fashions, are more
prized in the grassy than in the stony districts. An effete celebrity, who
would never be heard of again in the great places until the funeral sermon
waked up his memory for one parting spasm, finds himself in full flavor of
renown a little farther back from the changing winds of the sea-coast. If
such a public character was not to be had, so that there was no chance of
heading the Report with the name of the Honorable Mr. Somebody, the next
best thing was to get the Reverend Dr. Somebody to take that conspicuous
position. Then would follow two or three local worthies with Esquire after
their names. If any stray literary personage from one of the great cities
happened to be within reach, he was pounced upon by Mr. Silas Peckham. It
was a hard case for the poor man, who had travelled a hundred miles or two
to the outside suburbs after peace and unwatered milk, to be pumped for a
speech in this unexpected way. It was harder still, if he had been induced
to venture a few tremulous remarks, to be obliged to write them out for the
"Rockland Weekly Universe," with the chance of seeing them used as an
advertising certificate as long as he lived, if he lived as long as the
late Dr. Waterhouse did after giving his certificate in favor of Whitwell's
celebrated Cephalic Snuff.

The Report of the last Committee had been signed by the Honorable ----,
late ---- of ----, as Chairman. (It is with reluctance that the name and
titles are left in blank; but our public characters are so familiarly known
to the whole community that this reserve becomes necessary.) The other
members of the Committee were the Reverend Mr. Butters, of a neighboring
town, who was to make the prayer before the Exercises of the Exhibition,
and two or three notabilities of Rockiand, with geoponic eyes, and
glabrous, bumpless foreheads. A few extracts from the Report are
subjoined:--

"The Committee have great pleasure in recording their unanimous opinion,
that the Institution was never in so flourishing a condition....

"The health of the pupils is excellent; the admirable quality of food
supplied shows itself in their appearance; their blooming aspect excited
the admiration of the Committee, and bears testimony to the assiduity of
the excellent Matron.

"......moral and religious condition most encouraging, which they cannot
but attribute to the personal efforts and instruction of the faithful
Principal, who considers religious instruction a solemn duty which he
cannot commit to other people.

".......great progress in their studies, under the intelligent
superintendence of the accomplished Principal, assisted by Mr. Badger,
[Mr. Langdon's predecessor,] Miss Darley, the lady who superintends the
English branches, Miss Crabs, her assistant and teacher of Modern
Languages, and Mr. Schneider, teacher of French, German, Latin, and Music.

"Education is the great business of the Institute. Amusements are objects
of a secondary nature; but these are by no means neglected....

".........English compositions of great originality and beauty, creditable
alike to the head and heart of their accomplished authors......several
poems of a very high order of merit, which would do honor to the literature
of any age or country.....life-like drawings, showing great proficiency....
Many converse fluently in various modern languages......perform the most
difficult airs with the skill of professional musicians.....

".....advantages unsurpassed, if equalled, by those of any Institution in
the country, and reflecting the highest honor on the distinguished Head of
the Establishment, SILAS PECKHAM, Esquire, and his admirable Lady, the
MATRON, with their worthy assistants....."

The perusal of this Report did Mr. Bernard more good than a week's vacation
would have done. It gave him such a laugh as he had not had for a
month. The way in which Silas Peckham had made his Committee say what he
wanted them to--for he recognized a number of expressions in the Report as
coming directly from the lips of his principal, and could not help thinking
how cleverly he had _forced_ his phrases, as jugglers do the particular
card they wish their dupe to take--struck him as particularly neat and
pleasing.

He had passed through the sympathetic and emotional stages in his new
experience, and had arrived at the philosophical and practical state, which
takes things coolly, and goes to work to set them right. He had breadth
enough of view to see that there was nothing so very exceptional in this
educational trader's dealings with his subordinates, but he had also manly
feeling enough to attack the particular individual instance of wrong before
him. There are plenty of dealers in morals, as in ordinary traffic, who
confine themselves to wholesale business. They leave the small necessity of
their next-door neighbor to the retailers, who are poorer in statistics and
general facts, but richer in the every-day charities. Mr. Bernard felt, at
first, as one does who sees a gray rat steal out of a drain and begin
gnawing at the bark of some tree loaded with fruit or blossoms, which he
will soon girdle, if he is let alone. The first impulse is to murder him
with the nearest ragged stone. Then one remembers that he is a rodent,
acting after the law of his kind, and cools down and is contented to drive
him off and guard the tree against his teeth for the future. As soon as
this is done, one can watch his attempts at mischief with a certain
amusement.

This was the kind of process Mr. Bernard had gone through. First, the
indignant surprise of a generous nature, when it comes unexpectedly into
relations with a mean one. Then the impulse of extermination,--a divine
instinct, intended to keep down vermin of all classes to their working
averages in the economy of Nature. Then a return of cheerful tolerance,--a
feeling, that, if the Deity could bear with rats and sharpers, he could;
with a confident trust, that, in the long run, terriers and honest men
would have the upperhand, and a grateful consciousness that he had been
sent just at the right time to come between a patient victim and the master
who held her in peonage.

Having once made up his mind what to do, Mr. Bernard was as good-natured
and hopeful as ever. He had the great advantage, from his professional
training, of knowing how to recognize and deal with the nervous
disturbances to which overtasked women are so liable. He saw well enough
that Helen Darley would certainly kill herself or lose her wits, if he
could not lighten her labors and lift off a large part of her weight of
cares. The worst of it was, that she of those women who naturally overwork
themselves, like those horses who will go at the top of their pace until
they drop. Such women are dreadfully unmanageable. It is as hard reasoning
with them as it would have been reasoning with lo, when she was flying over
land and sea, driven by the sting of the never-sleeping gadfly.

This was a delicate, interesting game that he played. Under one innocent
pretext or another, he invaded this or that special province she had made
her own. He would collect the themes and have them all read and marked,
answer all the puzzling questions in mathematics, make the other teachers
come to him for directions, and in this way gradually took upon himself not
only all the general superintendence that belonged to his office, but stole
away so many of the special duties which might fairly have belonged to his
assistant, that, before she knew it, she was looking better and feeling
more cheerful than for many and many a month before.

When the nervous energy is depressed by any bodily cause, or exhausted by
overworking, there follow effects which have often been misinterpreted by
moralists, and especially by theologians. The conscience itself becomes
neuralgic, sometimes actually inflamed, so that the least touch is
agony. Of all liars and false accusers, a sick conscience is the most
inventive and indefatigable. The devoted daughter, wife, mother, whose life
has been given to unselfish labors, who has filled a place which it seems
to others only and angel would make good, reproaches herself with
incompetence and neglect of duty. The humble Christian, who has been a
model to others, calls himself a worm of the dust on one page of his diary,
and arraigns himself on the next for coming short of the perfection of an
archangel.

Conscience itself requires a conscience, or nothing can be more
unscrupulous. It told Saul that he did well in persecuting the
Christians. It has goaded countless multitudes of various creeds to endless
forms of self-torture. The cities of India are full of cripples it has
made. The hill-sides of Syria are riddled with holes, where miserable
hermits, whose lives it had palsied, lived and died like the vermin they
harbored. Our libraries are crammed with books written by spiritual
hypochondriacs, who inspected all their moral secretions a dozen times a
day. They are full of interest, but they should be transferred from the
shelf of the theologian to that of the medical man who makes a study of
insanity.

This was the state into which too much work and too much responsibility
were bringing Helen Darley, when the new master came and lifted so much of
the burden that was crushing her as must be removed before she could have a
chance to recover her natural elasticity and buoyancy. Many of the noblest
women, suffering like her, but less fortunate in being relieved at the
right moment, die worried out of life by the perpetual teasing of this
inflamed, neuralgic conscience. So subtile is the line which separates the
true and almost angelic sensibility of a healthy, but exalted nature, from
the soreness of a soul which is sympathizing with a morbid state of the
body, that it is no wonder they are often confounded. And thus many good
women are suffered to perish by that form of spontaneous combustion in
which the victim goes on toiling day and night with the hidden fire
consuming her, until all at once her cheek whitens, and, as we look upon
her, she drops away, a heap of ashes. The more they over-work themselves,
the more exacting becomes the sense of duty,--as the draught of the
locomotive's furnace blows stronger and makes the fire burn more fiercely,
the faster it spins along the track.

It is not very likely, as was said at the beginning of this chapter, that
we shall trouble ourselves a great deal about the internal affairs of the
Apollinean Institute. These schools are, in the nature of things, not so
very unlike each other as to require a minute description for each
particular one among them. They have all very much the same general
features, pleasing and displeasing. All feeding-establishments have
something odious about them,--from the wretched country-houses where
paupers are farmed out to the lowest bidder, up to the commons-tables at
colleges, and even the fashionable boarding-house. A person's appetite
should be at war with no other purse than his own. Young people,
especially, who have a bone-factory at work in them, and have to feed the
living looms of innumerable growing tissues, should be provided for, if
possible, by those that love them like their own flesh and blood. Elsewhere
their appetites will be sure to make them enemies, or, what are almost as
bad, friends whose interests are at variance with the claims of their
exacting necessities and demands.

Besides, all commercial transactions in regard to the most sacred interests
of life are hateful even to those who profit by them. The clergyman, the
physician, the teacher, must be paid; but each of them, if his duty be
performed in the true spirit, can hardly help a shiver of disgust when.
money is counted out to him for administering the consolations of religion,
for saving some precious life, for sowing the seeds of Christian
civilization in young, ingenuous souls.

And yet all these schools, with their provincial French and their
mechanical accomplishments, with their cheap parade of diplomas and
commencements and other public honors, have an ever fresh interest to all
who see the task they are performing in our new social order. These girls
are not being educated for governesses, or to be exported, with other
manufactured articles, to colonies where there happens to be a surplus of
males. Most of them will be wives, and every American-born husband is a
possible President of these United States. Any one of these girls may be a
four-years' queen. There is no sphere of human activity so exalted that she
may not be called upon to fill it.

But there is another consideration of far higher interest. The education of
our community to all that is beautiful is flowing in mainly through its
women, and that to a considerable extent by the aid of these large
establishments, the least perfect of which do something to stimulate the
higher tastes and partially instruct them. Sometimes there is, perhaps,
reason to fear that girls will be too highly educated for their own
happiness, if they are lifted by their culture out of the range of the
practical and every-day working youth by whom they are surrounded. But this
is a risk we must take. Our young men come into active life so early, that,
if our girls were not educated to something beyond mere practical duties,
our material prosperity would outstrip our culture; as it often does in
large places where money is made too rapidly. This is the meaning,
therefore, of that somewhat ambitious programme common to most of these
large institutions, at which we sometimes smile, perhaps unwisely or
uncharitably.

We shall take it for granted that the routine of instruction went on at the
Apollinean Institute much as it does in other schools of the same
class. People, young or old, are wonderfully different, if we contrast
extremes in pairs. They approach much nearer, if we take them in groups of
twenty. Take two separate hundreds as they come, without choosing, and you
get the gamut of human character in both so completely that you can strike
many chords in each which shall be in perfect unison with corresponding
ones in the other. If we go a step farther, and compare the population of
two villages of the same race and region, there is such a regularly
graduated distribution and parallelism of character, that it seems as if
Nature must turn out human beings in sets like chessmen.

It must be confessed that the position in which Mr. Bernard now found
himself had a pleasing danger about it which might well justify all the
fears entertained on his account by more experienced friends, when they
learned that he was engaged in a Young Ladies' Seminary. The school never
went on more smoothly than during the first period of his administration,
after he had arranged its duties, and taken his share, and even more than
his share, upon himself. But human nature does not wait for the diploma of
the Apollinean Institute to claim the exercise of its instincts and
faculties. There young girls saw but little of the youth of the
neighborhood. The mansion-house young men were off at college or in the
cities, or making love to each other's sisters, or at any rate unavailable
for some reason or other. There were a few "clerks,"--that is, young men
who attended shops, commonly called "stores,"--who were fond of walking by
the Institute, when they were off duty, for the sake of exchanging a word
or a glance with any one of the young ladies they might happen to know, if
any such were stirring abroad: crude young men, mostly, with a great many
"Sirs" and "Ma'ams" in their speech, and with that style of address
sometimes acquired in the retail business, as if the salesman were
recommending himself to a customer,--"First-rate family article, Ma'am;
warranted to wear a lifetime; just one yard and three quarters in this
pattern, Ma'am; sha'n't I have the pleasure?" and so forth. If there had
been ever so many of them, and if they had been ever so fascinating, the
quarantine of the Institute was too rigorous to allow any romantic
infection to be introduced from without.

Anybody might see what would happen, with a good-looking, well-dressed,
well-bred young man, who had the authority of a master, it is true, but the
manners of a friend and equal, moving about among these young girls day
after day, his eyes meeting theirs, his breath mingling with theirs, his
voice growing familiar to them, never in any harsh tones, often soothing,
encouraging, always sympathetic, with its male depth and breadth of sound
among the chorus of trebles, as if it were a river in which a hundred of
these little piping streamlets might lose themselves; anybody might see
what would happen. Young girls wrote home to their parents that they
enjoyed themselves much this term at the Institute, and thought they were
making rapid progress in their studies. There was a great enthusiasm for
the young master's reading-classes in English poetry. Some of the poor
little things began to adorn themselves with an extra ribbon, or a bit of
such jewelry as they had before kept for great occasions. Dear souls! they
only half knew what they were doing it for. Does the bird know why its
feathers grow more brilliant and its voice becomes musical in the pairing
season?

And so, in the midst of this quiet inland town, where a mere accident had
placed Mr. Bernard Langdon, there was a concentration of explosive
materials which might at any time change its Arcadian and academic repose
into a scene of dangerous commotion. What said Helen Darley, when she saw
with her woman's glance that more than one girl, when she should be looking
at her book, was looking over it toward the master's desk? Was her own
heart warmed by any livelier feeling than gratitude, as its life began to
flow with fuller pulses, and the morning sky again looked bright and the
flowers recovered their lost fragrance? Was there any strange, mysterious
affinity between the master and the dark girl who sat by herself? Could she
call him at will by looking at him? Could it be that ----? It made her
shiver to think of it.--And who was that strange horseman who passed
Mr. Bernard at dusk the other evening, looking so like Mephistopheles
galloping hard to be in season at the witches' Sabbath-gathering? That must
be the cousin of Elsie's who wants to marry her, they say. A
dangerous-looking fellow for a rival, if one took a fancy to the dark girl!
And who is she, and what?--by what demon is she haunted, by what taint is
she blighted, by what curse is she followed, by what destiny is she marked,
that her strange beauty has such a terror in it, and that hardly one shall
dare to love her, and her eye glitters always, but warms for none?

Some of these questions are ours. Some were Helen Darley's. Some of them
mingled with the dreams of Bernard Langdon, as he slept the night after
meeting the strange horseman. In the morning he happened to be a little
late in entering the school-room. There was something between the leaves of
the Virgil that lay upon his desk. He opened it and saw a freshly gathered
mountain-flower. He looked at Elsie, instinctively, involuntarily. She had
another such flower on her breast.

A young girl's graceful compliment,--that is all,--no doubt,--no doubt. It
was odd that the flower should have happened to be laid between the leaves
of the Fourth Book of the "AEneid," and at this line,--

"Incipit effari, mediaque in voce resistit."

A remembrance of an ancient superstition flashed through the master's mind,
and he determined to try the _Sortes Virgilianae_. He shut the volume, and
opened it again at a venture.--The story of Laocooen!

He read, with a strange feeling of unwilling fascination, from "_Horresco
referens_" to "_Bis medium amplexi_," and flung the book from him, as if
its leaves had been steeped in the subtle poisons that princes die of.

* * * * *

THE SPHINX'S CHILDREN.

"Que la volonte soit le destin!"

Long had she sat, crouched upon her breast,--crouched, but not for slumber
or for spring. No slumber gloomed darkly in those broad, sad eyes; no dream
indefinably softened the lips, whose patient outline breathed only
wakefulness and expectation,--a long-deferred, yet constant expectation,--a
hope that would have been despair, save that it was just within hope's
limits,--a monotonous, reiterate, indestructible chord in the creature's
mystic existence, that, once struck by some mighty, shrouded Hand of Power,
still reverberated, and trailed its still renewing echoes through every
fibre of its secret habitation. Nor yet for spring;--a couchant leopard has
posed itself with horrid intent; murder glitters in its fixed golden eye,
quivers in the tense loins, creeps in the tawny glitter of the skin,
clutches the keen claws, that recoil, and grasp, and recoil again from the
velvet ball of that heavy foot; murder grins in the withdrawn lip, the
white, red-set teeth, the slavering crunch of the jaw: but nothing of all
these fired the quiet and the silence of the crouching Sphinx; nerve and
muscle in tranquil strength lay relaxed, though not unconscious. Year after
year the yellow Desert robed itself in burning mists, splendid and deadly;
year after year the hot simoom licked up its sands, and, whirling them
madly over the dead plain, dashed them against the silent Sphinx, and grain
by grain heaped her slow-growing grave; the Nile spread its waters across
the green valley, and lapped its brink with a watery thirst for land, and
then receded to its channel, and poured its ancient flood still downward to
the sea; worshipped, or desecrated; threaded by black Nubian boatmen, who
mocked its sacred name with such savage mirth as satyrs might have spirted
from their hairy lips; navigated by keen-eyed Arabs, lithe and dark and
treacherous as the river beneath them; Coptic shepherds, lingering on the
brink, drank the sweet waters, and led their flocks to drink at the
shallows, when the shepherd's star cleft that deepest sky with its crest,
and warned the simple people of their hour;--yet forever stood the Sphinx,
passionately patient, looking for sunrise, over desert, vale, and
river,--beyond man,--to her hour.--And the hour came.

Once to all things comes their hour. The black column of basalt quivers to
its heart with one keen lightning thrill that vindicates its kin to the
electric flash without; the granite cliff loses one atom from its bald
front, and every other atom quails before the dumb shiver of gravitation
and shifts its place; the breathing, breathless marble, which a sculptor
has rescued from its primeval sleep, and, repeating after God, though with
stammering and insufficient lips, the great drama of Paradise, makes a man
out of dust,--once, once, in the dcadness of its beauty, that marble
thrills with magnetic life, drinks its maker's soul, repeats the Paradisaic
amen, and owns that it is good. Yea, greater miracle of transcendental
truth,--once,--perhaps twice,--the sodden, valueless heart of that old man,
whose gold has sucked out all that made him a man, beats with a pulse of
generous honor; even in the dust of stocks and the ashes of speculation,
amid the howling curses of the poor and the bitter weeping of his own
flesh, once he hears the Voice of God, and all eternity cleaves the earth
at his feet with a glare of truth. Once in her loathsome life, that woman,
brazen with sin and shame, flaunting on the pavement, the scorn and jest of
decency and indecency, the fearful index of corrupt society,--even she has
her hour of softness, when the tiny grass that creeps out from the stones
comes greenly into a spring sunshine, and as with a divine whisper recalls
to her the time before she fell, the unburdened heart, the pure childish
pleasures, the kind look of her dead mother's eye, the clasp of that
sister's arm who passed her but yesterday pallid with disgust and ashamed
to own their sacred birth-tie: then the tide rolls back: the hour is come!
She, too, called a woman, who leads society, and triumphs over caste and
custom with metallic ring and force,--she who forgets the decencies of age
in her shameless attire, and supplies its defects with subterfuges, falser
in heart even than in aspect,--she, about whom cluster men old and young,
applauding with brays of laughter and coarser jeers the rancor of her wit,
as it drops its laughing venom or its sneering sophisms of worldly
wisdom,--even she, when the lights are fled, when the music has ceased from
its own desecration, when the frenzy of wine and laughter mock her in their
dead dregs, when the men who flattered and the women who envied are all
gone,--she recalls one calm eye in the crowd, that stung her with its pure
contemptuous pity, a look not to be shut out with draperies as the stars
are; and even through her soul, harder than the soul of that unowned sister
walking the midnight street beneath the window, since it has ceased to know
the stab of sin or the choking agony of shame,--even through that
world-trodden heart flashes one conscious pang, one glimpse of a possible
heaven and an inevitable hell, one naked and open vision of herself.

Long had the Sphinx waited. Year after year the flocking pigeons flitted
and wheeled through the sweet skies of spring, built their nests and reared
their young; tiny lizards, the new birth of the season, coiled and
glittered on the hot sands like wandering jewels; every creature, dying out
of conscious life, left its perpetuated self behind it, and repeated its
own youth in its young, according to its kind: but the Sphinx lived
alone. Nor all-unconscious of her solitude: for he who formed that massive
shape, chiselled those calm, expectant lips, and wide eyes pensive as
setting moons, he had not failed to do what all true artists do in virtue
of their truth,--he had shared his own life with his own creation, and it
was his lonely yearning that stirred her pulseless heart. Little did he
think, toiling at that stupendous figure, ages gone by, that he transfused
into the stone at which he labored, like a patient ant at some stupendous
burden, no little share of that creative yearning that inspired him to his
task; as little as you think, dear poet, whether poet, painter, or
sculptor,--for all are one, and one is all,--that in those dreams which you
write, as unconscious of your power as the transcribing stylus of its
office, your own heart pulsates for a listening world, and the very linking
of words that so respire their own music makes those words self-sentient of
their breaking, thrilling melody, and wrings or exalts them, idea-garments
as they are, with the restless heaving of the thought that wears them.

Or you, whose sun-steeped brush brings to life on canvas the golden trances
of August noons, the high, still splendor of its mountain-tops, which the
sun caresses with fiery languor, the unrippled slumber of its warm streams,
the broad glory of its woods and meadows fused with light and heat into the
resplendent haze that earth exhales in her day of prime, till he who sees
the picture hears the cricket's chirping in its moveless grasses, and
scents the rich aromatic breath of its summer-passion and its rapturous
noon,--do you dream, when at last the perfect work repeats your thought,
and you rest in the tropie atmosphere you have created, that in very truth
the picture itself is full of inward heat and breathless languor? For you
have poured out the colors that light makes out of heat, and in them the
still inevitable light shall ever stir the recreating heat that clothes
itself in color, and bring your thought, no more a dead abstraction, but a
living power, into the very substance whereby you have expressed it. And
even so far as you were creative, so shall your work be informed by you,
and not mere dead pigment and dried oil and dull canvas be your autograph,
but the vivid and inspiring blazon of an inspired idea shall glow life-like
on some friendly wall, and in its turn inspire some other soul, whose light
within needs but the breath from without to burst upward in clear flame.

Or you, who unveil from its marble tomb that figure of a chained and
stainless woman, whose atmosphere is as a nun's veil, whose sad divinity is
a crown,--do you dare imagine that the holy despair you have imaged, the
pause of a saint's resignation and a martyr's courage, is but the outline
and the faultless contour of a stone? Come back, Pygmalion, from your
mythic sleep! return, Art's divinest mystery, germ of all its power, from
the deep dust of ages! and teach these modern men that his story whose
passion fired a statue's breast was but an immortal fable, a similitude of
the truth you feel, but do not see,--that even as our Creator shared His
life with His creatures, so do you pour, in far less measure, but obedient
to that precedent which is law, your own life and the magnetic instincts of
that life, into what you create!

Keep your hearts pure and your hands clean, therefore; for these things
that you sell for dead shall one day livingly confront you, and tell their
own story of your life and your nature with terrible honesty to men and
angels.

But whoever, in those mystic ages that have ceased to be historic and have
become mythic, whoever made the Sphinx,--whether it were some Titaness
sequestered from all her kind by genie-spells, forced to live amid these
desert solitudes, fed from the abundant hands of Nature, and taught by
dreams inspired and twilight visions,--

"A daughter of the gods, divinely tall,
And most divinely fair";

her only image of human beauty the reflex of her white, symmetric limbs,
her wide, dark eyes, her full lips and soft Egyptian features, wherewith
the river greeted her from its blue placidity; her only sense of love the
unspoken yearning within, when the soft, tumultuous stress of the west-wind
kissed her, who should have been clasped in tender arms and caressed by
loving lips; whose dumb, creative instincts, becoming genius instead of
maternity, struggled outward from their home in heart and brain to
culminate in this world's-wonder, and so build a monument namelessly
splendid to the grand nature that found its bread of life was a stone and
perished: or whether this creature were the fashioning of some
demigod,--"for there were giants in those days,"--who, in the fulness of
his strength, despairing of a mortal mate, wandered away from men and
wrought his patience and his longing into the rock,--as lesser men have
carved their memorials on hard Fate,--and then died between its paws, sated
with labor and glad to sleep: or whether, indeed, the captive spirits,
sealed in Caucasus with the seal of Solomon, did penance for their
rebellion in mortal work on mere dull matter, and with anguished essence
toiled for ages to mimic in her own clay the dumb pathos of waiting
Earth:--whichever of these dreams be nearest truth, one thing is
true,--that the maker of the Sphinx infused into his work, in as much
greater measure as his nature was greater than that of other men, that
yearning of pathetic solitude that most wrings a woman's heart; and the
outward semblance, working in, wrought upon the heavy stone with incessant
and accumulative power, till through that sluggish sandstone crept a
confused thrill of consciousness, and the great creature felt the
loneliness that she looked. Far away below her the Nile-valley teemed with
life; the antelopes coursed beside their young to feed on the green pasture
fresh from its long overflow; red foxes sported with their cubs on the
tawny sand; the birds taught their infant offspring their own sweet arts of
flight and song on every bough; and even the ostrich, lonely Desert-runner,
heaped her treasure of white eggs in the sand, or guided her callow young
far from the sight and fear of man;--but the Sphinx sat alone.

Mightier and mightier grew the yearning within her, as the full moon
floated upward from the east and cast her dewy dreams over land and
sea. The hour was come; the whole impulse and persistence of her nature
went out in vivid life, and, filling the very stones which the winds had
gathered and piled against her breast, cleft them with its sentient spell,
clothed them with lean flesh and wiry sinews, shaped them after the fashion
of the Desert men, and sent them out alive with intellect and will, but
with hearts of flint, into the wide world,--the Sphinx's children!

With a sigh that shook the shores of Egypt and smote the Sicilian midnight
with sickening vibrations of earthquake, the Sphinx beheld this culmination
of her great desire; in the very hour of fruition, hope fled; and as this
grim certainty sped away from before her, taking with it all her borrowed
life, she dropped that majestic head lower upon her bosom, uplifted it
again for one last look at her offspring, and so stiffened,--once more a
stone.

Age after age rolled by; storm and tempest hurled their thunders at her
head; wave after wave of bright insidious sand curled about her feet and
heaped its sliding grains against her side; men came and went in fleeting
generations, and seasons fled like hours through the whirling wheel of
Time; but the Sphinx longed and suffered no more. Her hour had come and
gone; her dull instinct had burnt out, her comely outline began to
disintegrate, her face grew blank and stony, her features crumbled away,
altars and inscriptions defaced her breast and hieroglyphed her ponderous
sides, men worshipped and wondered there, and travellers from lands beyond
the sun pitched their tents before her face and defiled her feet with
barbaric orgies; but she knew it no more,--her children were gone out into
the world. And the world had need of them. Its rank and miasmatic
civilization,--its hotbeds of sin and misery,--its civil corruptions and
its social lies,--its reeling, rotten principalities,--its sickly
atmosphere of effeminate luxury, wherein neither justice nor judgment
lived, and the solitary virtues left mere effete shadows of philanthropy
and cowardly impulses called love and mercy,--needed a new race, stony and
strong, unshrinking in conquest and reformation, full of zeal, and
incapable of pity, to rend away the fogs that smothered truth and decency,
to disperse the low-lying clouds of weak passion and maudlin luxury, to
blow a reveille clear and keen as the trumpet of the northwest wind, when
it sweeps down from its mountain-tops in stern exultation, and shouts its
Puritanic battle-psalm across the reeking, steaming meadows of sultry
August, fever-smitten and pestilent.

Such were the Sphinx's children: had they but died out with their need!
Here and there a monk, fresh from his Desert-Laura, hurtles through the
eclipse-light of history like the stone from a catapult,--rules a church
with iron rods, organizes, denounces, intrigues, executes, keeps an unarmed
soldiery to do his behests, and hurls ecclesiastic thunders at kings and
emperors with the grand audacity of a commission presumedly divine, while
Greeks cringe, and Jews blaspheme, and heathen flee into, or away from,
conversion; and the Church itself canonizes this spiritual father, this
Sphinx-son of an instinct and a stone!

Or an Emperor exalted himself above the legions and the populace of Rome,
banqueted his enemies and beheaded them at table, drank in the sight of
blood and the sound of human shrieks as if they were his natural light and
air, tormented God's creatures and cursed his kind, kindled a fire among
the miserable myriads of his own city, and, exulting in a safe height,
mixed the leaping, frantic discords of his own music with the horrid sounds
of the hell's tragedy below him; seething in crime, steeped in murder,
black with blasphemy, the horror and the hate of men, death gaped for his
coming, and he went! Men revile him through all posterior ages; women
shudder at the legend of his deeds; but the Sphinx stands unconscious in
the Desert,--she knew not her child!

Or a Reformer springs up. High above his birthplace the snowy Alps paint
themselves against the sky, an aerial dream of beauty, softened by the
tender hues of dawn and sunset, serenely fair through the rift of the
tempest; even their white death takes a nameless grace from distance and
atmosphere, clothing itself in beauty as a spirit in clay, and tempting
wanderers to their graves: but no such beauty clothes the man whose daily
vision beholds them; hard, clamorous, disputatious, with one hand he rends
the rotten splendors of Rome from its tottering Image, and with the other
plunges baby-souls to inevitable damnation; strong and fiercely rigid, full
of burning and slaughter for the idolatries and harlotries of Popery, fired
with lurid zeal, and bestriding one stringent idea, he rides on over dead
and living, preaches predestination and hell as if the Gospel dwelt only
upon destiny and despair, casts no tender look at the loving piety that
underlay shrines and woman-worship and bead-counting wherever a true heart
sought its God through the sole formulas it knew, but spurs forward to the
end, a mighty power to destroy, to do away with old corruptions and break
down idols on their altars,--saint and iconoclast! Did the heart of stone
within him know its ancestry,--track its hard, loveless descent from the
Sphinx's children?

Then a Queen;--a solitary woman, proud of her solitude, isolated in her
regnant splendor, a dead planet like the moon, sung and pictured and
adored, but keeping on her majestic path in awful beauty, deaf to human
entreaty, cold to human love; a great statesman in a queen's robes; a keen,
subtle politician, coifed and farthingaled; a revengeful sovereign; a
deadly enemy; a woman who forgave nothing to a woman, and retaliated
everything upon a man; she who brought unshrinkingly to death a sister
queen discrowned and captive, a sister whose grace and loveliness and
kindly aspect might have moved the lions of the arena to fawn upon her, but
nowise disarmed the tigress who lapped her blood; she who banished and slew
the man she would not stoop to love, because he dared to love another; and
when death stared her in the face, and open-eyed judgment shook her soul,
rose from that death-pallet to grapple and abuse a false woman, penitent
for and confessing her falseness; a virgin-monarch, pitiless, relentless,
cruel as jealousy; an anomalous woman, were she not a stone-born child of
the Sphinx!

Or a great General, before whose iron will horse and horseman quailed and
fled, like dry stubble before flame; who wielded the sword of Gideon, and
cut off the armies of his kindred people and his anointed king as a mower
fells the glittering grass on a summer dawn, heedless that he, too, shall
be cut down from his flourishing. On his track fire and blood spread their
banners, and the raven scented his trophies afar off; age and youth alike
were crushed under the tread of his war-horse; honor and valor and life's
best prime opposed him as summer opposes the Arctic hail-fury, and lay
beaten into mire at his feet. Hated, feared, followed to the death;
victorious or vanquished, the same strong, imperturbable, sullen nature;
persistent rather than patient in effort, vigorously direct in action; a
minister of unconscious good, of half-conscious evil; stern and gloomy to
the sacrilegious climax of his well-battled life, even in the regicidal act
going as one driven to his deeds by Fate that forgot God;--was he to be
wondered at, whose life, in ages far gone, began among the stony Sphinx
children?

Nor alone in these great landmarks of their dwelling have the Sphinx's
children haunted Earth. Poets have sung them under myriad names; History
has chronicled them in groups; Painting and Sculpture have handed down
their aspect to a gazing world. From them sprung the Eumenides, pursuers
and destroyers of men. They wore the garb of Roman legionaries, when Ramah
wept for her children dashed against the walls of the Holy City, and not
one stone stood upon another in Zion. They crowded the offices of the
Inquisition, and tested the endurance of its victims, with steady finger on
the flickering pulse, and calm eye on the death-sweating brow and bitten
lip. They put on the Druid's robe and wreath, and held the human sacrifice
closer to its altar. In the Asiatic jungle, lurking behind the palm-trunk,
they waited, lithe and swarthy Thugs, treacherously to slay whatever victim
passed by alone; or in the fair Pacific islands kept horrid jubilee above
their feasts of human flesh, and streaked themselves with kindred blood in
their carousals. Holland tells its fearful story of their Spanish
rule. Russian serfs record their despotism, cowering at the memory of the
knout. France cringes yet at the names of the black few who guided her
roaring Revolution as one might guide the ravages of a tiger with curb of
adamant and rein of linked steel.

Africa stretches out her hands to testify of their presence. Too well those
golden shores recall the wail of women and the yelling curses of men,
driven, beast-fashion, to their pen, and floated from home to hell,
or,--happier fate!--dragged up, in terror of pursuit, and thrown overboard,
a brief agony for a long one. They know them, too, whose continual cry of
separation, starvation, insult, agony, and death rises from the heart of
freedom like the steam of a great pestilence,--Pity them, hearts of flesh!
pity also the captors,--the Sphinx children, the flint-hearts! pity those
who cannot feel, far beyond those who can,--though it be but to suffer!

New England knew them, in band and steeple-hat, hanging and pressing to
death helpless women, bewitched with witchcraft. Acadia knew them, when its
depopulated shores lay barren before the sun, and its homes sent up no
smoke to heaven.

Greece quivers at the phantasm of their Turkish turbans and gleaming
sabres, their skill at massacre and their fiendish tortures; Italy, fair
and sad, "woman-country," droops shuddering at sight of their Austrian
uniforms; and the Brahmin sees them in scarlet, blood-dyed, hurling from
the cannon's mouth helpless captives,--killing, not converting.

Wherever, all the wide world over, a nation shrinks from its oppressors, or
a slave from his master,--wherever a child flees from the face of a parent
who knows neither justice nor mercy, or a wife goes mad under the secret
tyranny of her inevitable fate,--wherever pity and mercy and love veil
their faces and wring their hands outside the threshold,--there abide the
Sphinx's children.

For this she longed and hoped and waited in the Desert! for this she envied
the red fox and the ostrich! for this her dumb lips parted, in their
struggle after speech, to ask of earth and air some solace to her solitude!
for this, for these, she poured out her dim life in one strong, wilful
aspiration!

Happy Sphinx, to be left even of that dull existence! blessedly unconscious
of that granted desire! mouldering away in the curling sand-hills, the prey
of hostile elements, the mysterious symbol of a secret yearning and a vain
desire! Not for thee the bitterness of success! not for thee the conscious
agony of penitence,--the falling temple of the will crushing its idolater!
No wild voices in the wind reproach the wilder pulses of a slow-breaking
heart; no keen words of taunt sting thee into madness; Memory hurls at thee
no flying javelins; broken-winged Hope flutters about thee no more! Thy day
is over, thine hour is past!

_"Wherefore I praised the dead which are already dead, more than the living
which are yet alive!"_

* * * * *

REVIEWS AND LITERARY NOTICES.

_Dies Irae:_ in Thirteen Original Versions. By Abraham Coles, M.D. New
York: D. Appleton & Co. 1859. pp. xxxiv., 70.

It is pleasant to see how many wiles Nature employs to draw off into side
channels the enthusiasm which is always secreting itself and gathering in
the human brain. She knows what a dangerous clement it may become, if the
individual rills of it run together, and, with united forces, take for a
time a single direction. So she taps it at its sources, and leads it away
to various ends, useful because they are harmless. Bibliomania,
tulipomania, potichomania, squaring the circle, perpetual motion, a
religious epic, the northwest passage,--anything will serve the
purpose. _Divide et impera_ is her motto. The hobby is the safeguard of
society. Once mounted, every enthusiast ambles quietly off on some errand
of his own, caring little what direction he takes, provided only it be _the
other_. The Fifth-Monarchy men might have been troublesome, but for the
Beast in Revelation;--each insisted on a Beast to himself. Protestantism
might have become Democracy, had either Luther or Calvin been willing to
ride behind. The five points of the Charter are blunted to a Lancashire
weaver who is fattening a prize-gooseberry.

We sympathize heartily with such gentle enthusiasms as this of
Dr. Coles. It is the interest of all Grub Street that men should be
encouraged whose amiable weakness it is to fall in love with pieces of
poetry. In this case, to be sure, the verses are Latin, and the author more
nameless even than Junius; but who knows but some one's turn shall come
next whose verses were at least meant to be English, and whose name
is--Legion? If some translator, charged from the other pole of Dr. Coles's
enthusiasm, should favor us with thirteen Latin versions of some modern
English poems, it would give them a chance of being more generally
intelligible to the laity. Nay, even if such a baker's-dozen of
mediaeval-Latin renderings of Mrs. Browning's last poem--and by this term we
mean, of course, the rather shady Latin of middle-aged men--should be
shuffled together, we are not sure that it would not be a help to the
understanding of the Coptic original. But this, perhaps, is hoping too
much.

In the case of Dr. Coles, how lucky the direction of the superfluous
energy! how wise the humane precaution of Nature! For there is no
destructive agency like a doctor with a hygienic hobby. If your
constitution be a salt or sugar one, he will melt you away with damp sheets
and duckings; if you are as exsanguine as a turnip, his scientific delight
in getting blood out of you will be only heightened. For such erratic
enthusiasms as this of Dr. Coles we want a milder term than monomania.
Something like _monowhimsia_ would do. It is seldom that an oddity takes so
pleasant a turn. He has published a dainty little volume, with a
well-written introduction, giving the history of the "Dies Irae," and an
account of the various versions of it; this is followed by his own thirteen
translations; and an appendix tells us what is meant by a Sequence, has a
page or two on the origin of rhyming Latin, and concludes with the music of
the hymn itself. The book is illustrated by delicate photographs from the
Last Judgments of Michel Angelo, Rubens, and Cornelius, and from the
"Christus Remunerator" of Ary Scheffer. It is exquisitely printed at the
Riverside Press, which is doing such good service to everybody but the
spectacle-makers.

We hold the translation of any first-rate poem, nay, even of any
second-rate one which has any peculiar charm of rhythm or tone, to be an
impossibility. The translation of rhyming Latin verses presents peculiar
difficulties. The rhythm is always simple and strongly accented, it is
true; but the ear-filling sonority, the variety of female rhymes, and the
simple directness of expression cannot be echoed by our muffling
consonants, our endings in _ing_ and _ed_, and _a_-s, _the_-s, and _of
the_-s. For example, the stanza,

"Tuba, mirum spargens sonum
Per sepulchra regionum,
Coget omnes ante thronum,"

is very inadequately represented by

"Trumpet, scattering sounds of wonder
Rending sepulchres asunder,
Shall resistless summons thunder,"

in which, to speak of nothing else, there are thirteen _s_-s to five in the
original. Even Crashaw, whose translation of Strada's "Music's Duel" is a
masterpiece for litheness of phrase and sinuous suppleness of rhythm,
quails before the "Dies Irae," and contents himself with a largely watered
paraphrase. No one has ever yet succeeded more than tolerably with the
opening stanza,--

"Dies Irae, dies illa,
Solvet saeclum in favilla,
Teste David cum Sibylla."

The difficulty is increased where the Latin word has some special force of
theological or other meaning which has no single equivalent in English.

Doctor Coles has made, we think, the most successful attempt at an English
translation of the hymn that we have ever seen. He has done all that could
be done, where complete success was out of the question. Out of his first
two versions, which seem to us the best, a very satisfactory rendering of
the original can be made up by choosing the better stanzas from each. In
his first trial he misses the pathetic force of the

"Rex tremendae majestatis,
Qui salvandos salvas gratis,
Salva me, fons pietatis!"

where the petition is piercingly individualized by the accentual stress
thrown on the _me_. He gives it thus:--

"King Almighty and All-knowing,
Grace to sinners freely showing,
Save me, Fount of Good o'erflowing!"
His second attempt is better:--

"Awful King, who nothing cravest,
Since Thyself full ransom gavest,
Save thou me, who freely savest!"

Here the emphatic _me_ is preserved, but in neither version is the true
meaning of _salvandos_ even hinted at, and in both we miss the tenderness
of the _fons pietatis_, with which the _tremenda majestas_ is balanced and
softened.

There are three or four of these Latin hymns that for simple force and
pathos have never been matched in their kind, and never approached, except
by a few of the more fortunate poems of Herbert, Vaughan, and Quarles. We
know not why it is that what is called religious poetry is commonly so
bad. The thing gives the lie to both the adjective and the noun of its
title. Anything more flat and flavorless, whether in sentiment or language,
is beyond the conception even of an editor with the nightmare. Men have
been hanged for more venial murders than some have been praised for who
have choked out the immortal soul of the Psalms of David. We have, however,
the consolation of thinking that the Devil's Psalter of convivial songs is
quite as bad.

Dr. Coles has done so well that we hope he will try his hand on some of the
other Latin hymns. He cannot expect to satisfy those who have been
penetrated by the almost inexplicable charm of the originals; but by
rendering them in their own metres, and with so large a transfusion of
their spirit as characterizes his present attempt, he will be doing a real
service to the lovers of that kind of religious poetry in which neither the
religion nor the poetry is left out. As we said before, to translate
rhyming Latin without losing its peculiar _tang_ is wellnigh
impossible. Even Father Prout himself would be staggered by Walter Mapes's
"Mihi est propositum" or "Testamentum Goliae"; but perhaps the spirit of
the hymns is more easily caught, and Dr. Coles has shown that he knows the
worth of faithfulness.

_Mademoiselle Mori_; A Tale of Modern Rome. Boston: Ticknor & Fields. 1860.
Author's Edition. 16mo. pp. 526.

This is a reprint of a remarkable book. It is the book of a person familiar
with Rome and with the Romans, who has thought seriously and felt deeply in
regard to their character and fortunes, who has studied with keen and
sympathetic imagination the hearts of the people, and observed closely the
outward aspect and common shows of the city. The story is well constructed,
and has the essential merit of interest. Not only are the characters
distinctly presented, but there is in them, what it is rare to find in the
personages of our modern novelists, a real and natural development, which
is exhibited not so much by what is said about them as by their own
apparently unconscious words and acts. So just a view is given in this
novel of Italian habits of thought and tones of feeling, so true an
appreciation is shown of the peculiarities of national disposition and
temperament, and so intimate and exact an acquaintance with public events
and the course of politics in Rome, as to lead to the conclusion that the
author writes from the fulness of personal experience, and was no stranger
to the interests of the stirring period in which the scenes of the story
are laid.

The book, indeed, has a double character. It is not a mere novel; for it
contains, in addition to its story, a sketch of the course of public
affairs in Rome during the three memorable years from the accession of Pius
IX. to the fall of the Republic and the entry of the French troops into the
city, which they still hold in subjection to rulers who claim to govern it
for the spiritual interests of the world. And while it may be warmly
recommended to such readers as only desire to find an interesting story, it
deserves not less hearty recommendation to such as may care to understand
one of the most striking and dramatic episodes of modern history, and to
gain an acquaintance with events which throw great illustration on the
present condition and hopes of Italy. In this respect, as well as in the
ability with which it is written, it may fairly be classed with the novels
of Ruffini,--"Lorenzo Benoni" and "Doctor Antonio." To those who have read
these two books it need not be said that this is high praise.

History is not treated by the author of "Mademoiselle Mori" after the
common fashion of novelists. Events are not misrepresented in it, nor are
the characters of the prominent actors in public affairs distorted to suit
any theory, or to advance the interest of the story. The chief value of the
book, and that which ought to secure for it a permanent place, does not,
however, consist in any formal narrative of events, or in its pictures of
noted individuals, but in its representation of the states of mind and
feeling of the Romans during the first years of the pontificate of the
present Pope, of the objects and methods of action of the various parties
that were then called into active existence, of the occasions of the rapid
changes in the popular disposition from the time when Pius IX. was the idol
of the crowd to that when he was a faithless fugitive to Gaeta, and of the
causes which led to the bitter disappointment and utter failure of the
efforts of the Roman patriots.

We do not know of any book in which so intelligent and so true an account
of these things, which were the springs from which events issued, and which
underlie all their currents, is to be found. The sympathies of the author
are with the liberal party, with the party that labored for reform, but not
for a republic, and whose hopes and plans were crushed by the horrible
assassination of Rossi. It is one of the most calamitous results of a
tyranny like that exercised at Rome, that it renders a gradual progress of
reform at any time when it may be undertaken almost an impossibility, and
sows the seed of inevitable violence and of revolution, which is apt to
end, as in the Roman instance, in a return of despotism. The view given of
the Roman revolution and republic of 1849 by the author of "Mademoiselle
Mori" coincides in the main with that taken by Farini, and the other chief
Italian statesmen of the present day; and its accuracy and good sense are
confirmed by the course of recent events, not merely in Rome, but in other
parts of Italy as well. It is vain to predict the future of a state so
anomalous as that of Rome; but it is safe to say that the Romans learned
much from their last revolution, and are learning much from its results, so
that, when another opportunity arrives for them to gain some share of that
freedom which Northern Italy has been so happy in securing, they will not
repeat their former mistakes, and will not be found less competent for
liberty than the Tuscans or the people of the Romagna. Perhaps the failure
of 1849 may then turn out to have been a dark blessing; and the blood of
those who fell on the Roman walls, and the tears of those who have wept in
Roman prisons, may not have been shed in vain.

The cause of Italy deserves the heartiest sympathy, and, if need be, a
personal sacrifice on the part of every lover of liberty and of justice in
the world. The question of Italian unity and independence is the most
important that has been presented in Europe in our time. The issue involved
in it is that of the advance or the degradation of a nation so noble that
none can be called nobler,--of the rights of the many, as against the power
of the few,--of the rights of thought, as against those of the sword,--of
the establishment of those principles which do most to make life precious,
as against those by which it is made vile and wretched. The last year has
seen a part of the great work of freeing Italy accomplished. If Sardinia
can but have time allowed her in which to knit her forces, if she can for a
time escape from foreign attacks and from internal divisions, Italy is
secure. Venice, Rome, and Naples will not long languish under the tyranny
of Austrian, of priest, and of Bourbon.

We return for a few words to "Mademoiselle Mori." The readers of
Mr. Hawthorne's imaginative Italian romance will be pleased to find in this
book further illustrations of the Rome he has so admirably pictured. The
author has not the genius of Mr. Hawthorne, but the descriptions which the
book contains of Roman scenes and places are full of truth, and render the
common, every-day aspect of streets and squares, of gardens and churches,
of popular customs and social habits, with equal spirit and fidelity. The
interest of the story is sustained by the distinctness with which the
localities in which it passes are depicted. The style of the book is so
excellent that we the more regret a few careless and clumsy expressions,
and some awkward sentences, which a little pains might have prevented. We
regret also that the Italian words and phrases which appear in the volume
are sometimes grievously disfigured by misprints. The distinguished name of
Saffi is travestied by being misprinted Gaffi,--and there are other
blunders of the same sort, in which the Riverside Press has but too
faithfully followed the English edition.

_Critical and Miscellaneous Essays_. Collected and republished by THOMAS
CARLYLE. In Four Volumes. Boston: Brown and Taggard. 1860.

Carlyle's Essays need at the present day no introduction or commendation to
American readers. Their place is established, and they will hold it
permanently, in spite of the wild philosophy, and in spite of
characteristics of style which would ruin weaker writings. As Ben Jonson
said of a volume of poems, now quite forgotten, by his friend Sir John
Beaumont,--

"This book will live; it hath a genius; this Above his reader or his
praiser is."

There is no fear that these Essays will be forgotten; for, beside their
intrinsic merits and interest, they are at once introductory and
supplementary to their author's more important works,--to his "French
Revolution" and his "Life of Frederic the Great."

This new edition of the Essays is a reprint of the last English edition
revised by the author, and both printer and publisher deserve high credit
for the beauty of the volumes. The paper, press-work, and binding are all
excellent, and of a sort not only to please the general public, but to
satisfy the demands of the exacting lover of good books. We are glad to
welcome Messrs. Brown and Taggard among our publishing houses, on occasion
of the issue of a book so creditable alike to their taste and to their
judgment, and we hope that the success of this edition of these Essays may
he such as to encourage them to follow it with a reprint of the other
volumes of the revised edition of Mr. Carlyle's works.

We trust, that, though the words "Author's Edition" are not found upon the
back of the title-page, it is not because the moral, if not legal rights
which the author possesses have been disregarded.

_The Mill on the Floss_. By GEORGE ELIOT, Author of "Scenes of Clerical
Life" and "Adam Bede." New York: Harper & Brothers.

It is not difficult to understand how the reader's attention may he
attracted and his interest retained by a romance of the old chivalrous days
whose very name and dim memory fill the mind with fascinating images, or by
a novel whose high-born characters claim sympathy for their dignified
sorrows and refined delights, or whose story is illuminated by the light of
artistic culture and adorned with gems of rhetoric and fine fancy; but it
is sometimes surprising to observe the favor which attends a simple tale of
humble, unobtrusive, we might almost say insignificant people, whose plane
of life appears nowhere to coincide with our own, and to whom romance and
passion seem entirely foreign. Such a tale was "Adam Bede," whose great
success as a literary venture hardly yet belongs to the chronicle of the
past; such a tale is also "The Mill on the Floss," by the author of "Adam
Bede," and such, we are confident, will also be its success.

Both books have many elements in common, but the second is the greater work
of art, and indicates more fairly the scope and vigor of the author's
mind. It is written in the same pure, hardy style, strong with Saxon words
that admit of no equivocation or misunderstanding; it is illustrated with
sketches of outward Nature and tranquil rural beauty, none the less vivid
or truthful that they are drawn with the pen rather than the brush; and it
is instinct with an honest, high-souled purpose. In these respects it
resembles "Adam Bede," but in others it surpasses its predecessor. It
displays a far keener insight into human passion, a subtler analysis of
motives and principles, and it suggests a mental and a moral philosophy
nobler in themselves and truer to humanity and religion. The pathos, too,
is more genuine; for it is not based upon the mere utterance of grief or of
entreaty,--which the eloquent and the artful may, indeed, feign,--but it is
found in that skilful combination of material circumstance and spiritual
influence which impresses upon the feeling, more than it proves to the
reason, that the hour of heart-break is at hand, and which depends less for
its effect upon the dramatic power of the imagination than upon the instant
sympathy of the soul.

The principal fault which will be found with "The Mill on the Floss," and
probably the only one, is, that the action moves too slowly and tamely in
the first three or four books, and that the author shows an undue
inclination to reflection and metaphysical digression. This will, indeed,
be a great objection to the superficial reader, who will impatiently regret
that the tedious growth of a miller's boy and girl should usurp so many
pages which might better have been filled with exciting incidents. But this
very elaboration, tardy and idle though it may seem, was necessary to the
completion of the author's plan, and--in our eyes--instead of being a
blemish upon a fair story, is one of its principal charms. On this very
account, however, the book will be less popular, and fewer persons will
admire it wholly; but, as thoughtful readers draw near to the end of the
narrative, and anxiously hasten on past trial, temptation, and conflict, to
the dreaded and yet inevitable downfall, muse mournfully over the agony and
remorse that follow, and slowly close the volume upon tender forgiveness
and final joy, they will be thankful for the far-seeing genius which, by
this gradual process of education, enabled them to understand clearly the
fateful scroll at last unfolded to them, and which, if they have read in
the true spirit, has made them wiser and better.

_Nugamenta; a Book of Verses_, By GEORGE EDWARD RICE. Boston: J. E. Tilton
& Co. 1860. pp. 146.

The author of this little volume modestly waives all claim to the title of
poet, and thus disarms severer criticism. His book, nevertheless, has the
merit of being lively and agreeable, which is more than can be said of many
more pretentious volumes of verse. His pieces are mostly of the kind called
verses of society, a variety whose range is all the way up from Concanen to
Horace. It is enough, if they are only passable; but good specimens are
easy and sprightly,--their philosophy not worldly precisely, but
man-of-the-worldly,--their morality an elegant Poor-Richardism,--their
poetry whatever may be reached by the fancy and understanding. Sometimes,
if the author have been lucky enough, like Beranger, to have enjoyed low
company, his verses will gather a richer tone, his wit will broaden into
humor, his sentiment deepen to hearty good-nature, and his worldliness
ripen into a genuine humanity.

To embody primeval sentiments, to deal with transcendent passions, and to
idealize those fatal moods by which not individuals merely, but races, are
possessed, those tidal ebbs and flows which, for want of a better name, we
call the Spirit of the Age,--this is a gift whose return among us we do not
look for with as much certainty as that of shad and salmon, but meanwhile
we are not too nice to be pleased with verses that express average thoughts
and feelings gracefully and with a dash of sentiment. It is a vast deal
wiser and better to express neatly, in language that is not alien to the
concerns of every day, feelings we have really had, than to maunder about
what we think we ought to have felt in a diction that has no more to do
with our ordinary habits of thought and expression than Monmouth with
Macedon. The contrast of matter and manner in much of our current verse is
such as to remind one of the notes which are sometimes sent to their
sweethearts by schoolboys, who cut their fingers (not too deep) that they
may asseverate the eternal constancy of the three-weeks'-vacation in that
solemn fluid proper to contracts with the Evil One.

It is pleasant to meet with one who is able to say a natural thing in a
natural way, as Mr. Rice has shown that he can do. There is a very
agreeable mingling of feeling and fun in his lighter pieces, rising into
real grace and lyric fancy in some of them, such as "New Year's Eve" and
"The Revisit."

_A Voyage down the Amoor; with a Land Journey through Siberia, and
Incidental Notices of Manchooria, Kamschatka, and Japan._ By PERRY
McDONOUGH COLLINS, United States Commercial Agent at the Amoor River, New
York: D. Appleton & Co. 1860. pp. 390.

This is a very amusing book. The introductory part of it, in which the
author recounts his adventures in Siberia before setting out on his
expedition down the Amoor, is full of bad taste, bad rhetoric, and bad
grammar. If we had read no farther, we should have thought that a more
unfit personage than this gentleman with the monumental name could not have
been chosen for any public service.

Mr. Perry McDonough Collins gives us the bill of fare of gentlemen's tables
at which he dined, tells us how much and what kinds of wine were "drank,"
and sometimes winds up his account of the feast with a compliment to the
"amiable and interesting" family of his host. Mr. Egouminoff's dinner, he
tells us, "was excellent, with several kinds of wine, closing with
Champagne. We had _also_ the pleasure of the company of Mrs. E. and her
daughter, and several other guests, besides a handsome widow." There is
something charmingly _naif_ in thus throwing in the company as a
_succedaneum_ to the dinner, and carefully segregating the widow from the
rest of mankind as a distinct species.

Mr. Collins also reports for us carefully the orations he made on various
festive occasions,--a piece of very proper economy, since they were
delivered in English to an audience of Russians. He confesses that it is
not the custom to make after-dinner-speeches in Siberia, which proves that
the Russian Government has neglected at least one opportunity of adding to
the terrors of a Penal Colony. At one dinner he had the satisfaction of
making three of these terrible mistakes. He responds to the health of
General Mouravieff, Governor of the Province, to that of President
Buchanan, and to that of "our guests." We should like to have been present
at this display, provided we could have been speech-proofed, like the
Russians in their ignorance of English. It was certainly a proud day for
America, and the bird of our country will be glad that the eloquence has
been carefully saved by Mr, Collins for the good of his compatriots.

After this multiloquent festival, the Siberian merchants, naturally
exasperated, seized upon Mr. Collins, and an unhappy countryman of his who
was present, and tossed them after the fashion of Sancho Panza. "This
sport," adds our traveller, gravely, "is called in Russian _podkeedovate_,
or tossing-up, and is considered a mark of great respect. General
Mouravieff told me, after our return, that he had had _podkeedovate_
performed upon him in the same room." The General must be something of a
humorist.

Mr. Collins, however, has a more astounding incident to relate than even
the respectful tossing-up of a general in the army and governor of Siberia
by a party of provincial shopkeepers. In returning from an excursion,
Mr. Collins had the ill-luck to lose a horse.

"The death of that horse," he says, "was
a singular circumstance. We were galloping
rapidiy and were approaching the station,
when the animal dropped as if struck by
lightning. We were in such rapid motion
upon the smooth ice of the river, that, though
several yards from the stopping-point, the
other horses kept on, dragging the dead horse,
nor did the driver attempt to stop them, but
seemed determined to reach the station at
full speed. As soon as we had stopped, I got
out and examined the body. It was as stiff
as a poker and stirred not a muscle, the
eyes being cold and glassy. _The fact is, the
horse must have been dead before he fell, and
his muscular action was kept up some time after
life had departed._" (p. 89.)

We do not remember to have met with a more wonderful example of the force
of habit.

After Mr. Collins is fairly embarked, however, on his voyage of
exploration, his book becomes more interesting. He shows himself a
thoroughly good-humored, observant, and intelligent traveller. If, in the
earlier pages of his journal, he is indiscreetly communicative as to the
good cheer he enjoyed, in the later ones he does not waste time in
grumbling at discomforts and lenten fare. He observes minutely and
describes well all that he sees along the great river,--the people, the
productions, the scenery, and the vegetation. He gives us a lively
impression of the capabilities of the country, and of the results which are
to follow the introduction of steam-navigation on the Amoor. Like a true
American, he believes in the manifest destiny of Russia, and looks forward
to the not distant time when, with a kind of retributive justice, the
Muscovite is to swallow up the Manchew, as Charles Lamb used to call
him. Already American merchants have established themselves at the mouth of
the Amoor, and, unless Mr. Collins is oversanguine, a great trade is to
spring up between the Californians and their opposite neighbors on the
eastern coast of Asia.

On the whole, we take leave of Mr. Collins with a feeling of decided esteem
for his genuine good qualities, and can safely commend his book as both
lively and instructive.

_Revolutions in English History_. By ROBERT VAUGHAN,
D.D. Vol. I. _Revolutions of Race_. New York: D. Appleton & Co.
1860. pp. xvi., 663.

We do not think that Dr. Vaughan has been happy in his choice of a title
for his book. It is more properly an introduction to the study of English
history, than the limitation of the title would seem to import. The Saxon
occupation of England is, perhaps, the only event which may fitly be called
a revolution of race. The volume, however, is a solid and sensible one. Dr.
Vaughan is not a brilliant writer; but brilliancy is not always the best
quality in an historian, for it as often leaves readers dazzled as
taught. A decidedly matter-of-fact turn of mind prevents his being a
theorist, so that he does not formulate characters and events in accordance
with some fixed preconception. His learning seems sometimes limited by what
was accessible to him at the least expense of study,--as, for example, in
his account of the religion of the Teutonic races, where he depends almost
altogether on Mallet. His style is generally clear and unpretending, never
remarkable for any rhetorical merit, sometimes disfigured by inaccuracies,
which, had they occurred in an American book, would have been attributed by
English critics to the low grade of our culture and civilization. In one
instance he is guilty of the barbarous cockneyism of using the word _party_
as an equivalent for _person_. He speaks of the Roman Wall as having been
kept _perpetually_ guarded when he means _constantly_, of border land as
"separating between" two races, and of ornaments made "from jet."

Though we do not find in Dr. Vaughan the fascinating qualities which we
have been spoiled into expecting by some recent English and French examples
of historical composition, we can give him the praise of being fair-minded,
sensible, and clear. If he anywhere shows prejudice, it is in his somewhat
depreciatory estimate of the Normans, whom he rather gratuitously supposes
to have acquired civilization and the love of art from the Saxons,--a
supposition at war with probability as well as fact. If anything
distinguished the Norman from the Saxon, it was his aptitude for
appreciating beauty as distinguished from use,--an aptitude on which French
influence could not have been lost before the Conquest of England. The
Normans in Sicily certainly had not had the advantage of Saxon training in
aesthetics, and the poetry and architecture of the Normans in England were
no reproduction of Saxon models.

But whatever deductions are to be made on the score of want of
picturesqueness in style, of generalizing power, and of that imagination
which sets before us dramatically the mutual interaction of men and events,
Dr. Vaughan's history will be found a useful and enlightened compendium of
the facts with which it deals.

_Fresh Hearts that failed Three Thousand Years Ago; with Other Things_. By
the Author of "The New Priest in Conception Bay." Boston: Ticknor & Fields.
1860. pp. 121.

In noticing the "New Priest," in a former number of the "ATLANTIC," we had
occasion to speak of the author's remarkable beauty and vigor of style, his
keen sense of the picturesque and imaginative aspects of outward Nature,
his comic power, and his original conception of character. At the same time
we could not but feel that a certain tendency to multiplicity of detail,
and a neglect of form or insensibility to it, hindered the book of that
direct and vigorous effect which its power and variety of resource would
otherwise have produced. Something of the same impression is made by the
present volume. There are glimpses in it of real genius, but it shows
itself generally here and there only, as the natural outcrop, seldom in the
bars and ingots which give proof of patient mining and smelting at
furnace-heat, still more seldom in the beautiful shapes of artistic
elaboration. Here, again, we find the same unborrowed feeling for outward
Nature and familiarity with her moods, the same poetic beauty of
expression, and in many of the pieces the same overcrowdedness, as if the
author would fain say all he could, instead of saying only what he could
not help.

There are some of the poems that do more justice to the abilities of the
author. In "The Year is Gone" there is great tenderness of sentiment and
grace of expression; "Love Disposed of" is a pretty fancy embodied with
true lyric feeling; but the poem which over crests all the others like a
decuman wave is "The Brave Old Ship, the Orient." It is a truly masculine
poem, full of vigor and imagination, and giving evidence of true original
power in the author. There is scarce a weak verse in it, and the measure
has a swing, at once easy and stately, like that of the sea itself. We know
not if we are right in conjecturing some hint of deeper meaning in the name
"Orient," but, taking it merely as a descriptive poem, it is one of the
finest of its kind. The writer's heart seems more in the work here than in
the devotional verses. We quote a single passage from it, which seems to us
particularly fine:--

"We scanned her well, as we drifted by:
A strange old ship, with her poop built high,
And with quarter-galleries wide,
And a huge beaked prow, as no ships are builded now,
And carvings all strange, beside:
A Byzantine bark, and a ship of name and mark
Long years and generations ago;
Ere any mast or yard of ours was growing hard
With the seasoning of long Norwegian snow.
* * * * *
"Down her old black side poured the water in a tide,
As they toiled to get the better of a leak.
We had got a signal set in the shrouds,
And our men through the storm looked on in crowds:
But for wind, we were near enough to speak.
It seemed her sea and sky were in times long, long gone by,
That we read in winter-evens about;
As if to other stars
She had reared her old-world spars,
And her hull had kept an old-time ocean out."

_Hester, the Bride of the Islands_. A Poem. By SYLVESTER
B. BECKETT. Portland: Bailey & Noyes.

Mr. Beckett is evidently an admirer of Walter Scott; and it is not the
least remarkable fact in connection with "Hester," that an author with the
good sense to propose to himself such a model, disregarding the more
elaborate poets of a later date, should have proved himself so utterly
unable to follow that model, except in a few phrases, which were quite
appropriate as Scott used them, but are ludicrously out of place in his own
verse. In adopting the brief lines and irregularly recurring rhymes of
Scott, he has taken a hazardous step. The curt lines are excellent with Sir
Walter's liveliness and dash; but when dull commonplaces are to be written,
their feebleness would be more decorously concealed by a longer and more
conventional dress. The cutty sark, so appropriate when displaying the
free, vigorous stops of Maggie Lauder, is not to be worn by every
lackadaisical lady's-maid of a muse. In the moral reflections, with which
"Hester" abounds, there is a most comical imitation of Scott,--as if the
poem were written as a parody of "The Lady of the Lake," by
Mrs. Southworth, or Sylvanus Cobb, Junior.

Mr. Beckett closes some very singular stanzas, entitled an Introduction,
with the following lines:--

"Give it praise, or blame,
Or pass it without comment, as may seem
To you most meet; with me 'tis all the same.
I hymn because I must, and not for greed of fame."

These lines incline us at first to let Mr. Beckett "pass without comment,"
considering, that, as he says, he cannot help writing; but we are finally
decided to observe him more closely, inasmuch as he says it makes no
difference to him, thus relieving us of the dreadful fear of wantonly
crushing some delicate John Keats (always supposing we had him) by our
severe censure.

Instead of entering into a philosophical examination of "Hester," we shall
present some specimen pearls, making our first extract from the 21st
page:--

"The very desert would have smiled
In such a presence! yet despite
Her dimpled cheek, her soft blue eye,
Her voice so fraught with music's thrill,
The shrewd observer might espy
The traces therein of a will
That scorned restraint, the soul of fire
That slumbered in her tacit sire."

"The traces therein." Wherein? Not in the cheek, eye, or voice, clearly;
for it was "despite" all these that he would make the discovery,--they are
obstacles, entirely outside of the success. It is necessarily, then, in the
"presence," in which the unthinking desert would have smiled unsuspecting,
but in which "the shrewd observer might espy" a good deal that was ominous
of trouble. Now it is obvious that the writer intended to refer "therein"
to the cheek, eye, and voice, a reference from which he barred himself by
the word "despite." As it happens, luckily for him, there is a word to
refer to, so that his grammatical salvation is secured; but the result is
sad nonsense.

Page 23,--

"Indeed, it was their chief delight,
When combed the far seas feather-white,
To steer out on the roughening bay
With leaning prow and flying spray,
_And gunnel ready to submerge
Itself beneath the flaming surge_!"

Page 28,--

"nor gave
He heed to aught on land or wave;
As if some kyanized regret
Were in his heart," etc., etc.

"Kyanized regret" is good, as Polonius would say; but we would humbly
suggest that Mr. Beckett substitute, in his next edition, "Burnettized," as
even better, if that be possible.

Page 72,--

"in hope, perchance
(Like arrant knight of old romance),
That _some complacent circumstance
Would end her curiosity_."

Page 94,--

"Thereafter, she but knew the charm
Of resting on her lover's arm,
And listening to his voice elate,
As he betimes _went on to state
The phases in his own strange fate,
Since last they met_."

Page 100.--Speaking of "those of
thoughtful mood," he says,--

"With whom I oft have whiled away
The dusky hour upon the deep,
Which most men wisely give to sleep."

There is in this last line a dark, grim, sardonic appreciation of the
advantages which common minds have over those that, like the poet's own,
have to endure the splendid miseries of genius,--a dark moodiness, like
that of a tame Byron remorsefully recalling a wild debauch upon green
tea,--that is deliciously funny.

Page 230.--The heroine, who is less
poetical by far than her rough servitor,
says,--

"Carl! not for all the golden sand
Of famed Pactolus, would I hurt
Thy feelings; _'tis my wont to blurt_
My humour thus."

Page 298.--The hero, who is hardly
more romantic than the heroine, has married
his own sister:--

"Lord Hubart gazed with steady eye
And arms still folded, on old Carl--
'Here is, i' faith, a pretty snarl
To be unwound'--but his reply
Was cut short," etc., etc.

In fact, the great objection to Lord Hubart, as may be inferred from the
above-quoted passage, is, that he is hopelessly vulgar. We are loath to say
so, because of our respect for English aristocracy; but English
aristocracy, truth compels us to observe, cuts no great figure on our
American stage or in our American literature.

In short, this is a very silly book. It abounds in trite moralizing, for
instances of which we will merely refer the reader to pp. 65, 131, and
299. The author remarks exultingly, in his Introduction, that his is
comparatively an uncultivated mind, We can only say, we should think so!
Ignorance is plentiful everywhere, but it really seems as if it were
reserved for some of our American writers to display in its finest
specimens ignorance vaunting its own deficiencies. There is a great deal of
nonsense talked about "uncultivated minds": some men are eminent in spite
of being uncultivated; but no man was ever eminent because he was
uncultivated. Some instances of a lamentable misuse of language in "Hester"
we give below.

Page 16,--

"They would have won implicit sway."

Page 53,--
"By the nonce!"

Evidently thinking of the phrase, "for the nonce,"--meaning, for the
occasion. In the text, "by the nonce" is an oath!

Page 71,--

"And he some squire of low behest."

Page 221,--

"and when is won
At last the longed-for rubicon."

Page 256,--the use of the word "denizens."

Page 262,--

"None may their evil doing shirk!
That wrong, in any shape, will bring,
Or soon or late, its _meted sting_."

Page 313,--

"as gnats, which sometimes sting
Their life away when rankled."

Another fault is the senseless use of certain words and phrases, which a
good writer uses only when he must, Mr. Beckett always when he can. We give
without comment a mere list of these:--maugre, 'sdeath, eke, erst, deft,
romaunt, pleasaunce, certes, whilom, distraught, quotha, good lack,
well-a-day, vermeil, perchance, hight, wight, lea, wist, list, sheen, anon,
gliff, astrolt, what boots it? malfortunes, ween, God wot, I trow, emprise,
duress, donjon, puissant, sooth, rock, bruit, ken, eld, o'ersprent, etc. Of
course, such a word as "lady" is made to do good service, and "ye" asserts
its well-known superiority to "you." All this the author evidently
considers highly meritorious, although the words are entirely unsuitable.
His notion seems to be, that these are poetical words, and the way to write
poetry is to take all the exclusively poetical words you can find. The
occasional attempt to make his verses familiar and natural by the use of
such abbreviations as "I've" or "can't" is as much a failure as the effort
of an awkward man in a ball-room to make everybody think him at his ease by
forcing an unhappy smile and a look of preternatural buoyancy.

From the beginning to the end of "Hester," there is one unerring indication
of an uncultivated mind and an unpractised pen. This is the writer's
fondness for well-worn phrases, which authors of a severer taste have long
discarded as suited only to the newspapers, but which Mr. Beckett has
picked up with eager delight, and, having distributed them liberally
throughout the poem, contemplates with a complacency to be matched only by
his satisfaction with the success of his expedients for filling out his
rhymes, some of which are certainly ingenious and startling,

The plot is a jumble of improbabilities, to which we would gladly attend,
for it passes even the liberal bounds of poetic license, but we have
already spent all the time we can upon the New Poem, and we must decline
(in Mr. Beckett's own impressive language) any further "to distend the
title."

* * * * *

NOTE

TO THE ARTICLE ON "MODEL LODGING-HOUSES IN BOSTON."

Although the proposed act establishing a Sanitary Commission for the City
of New York was defeated in the last State Legislature, some of its
provisions were engrafted on a bill passed on the nineteenth of April,
amending a previous "Act to establish a Metropolitan Police District, and
to provide for the Government thereof."

By article 51 of this new act it is made the duty of the Board of
Metropolitan Police to set apart a Sanitary Police Company, which by
article 52 is empowered "to take all necessary legal measures for promoting
the security of life or health," upon or in boats, manufactories, houses,
and edifices. Article 53 gives power to the board to cause any
tenement-house to be cleansed at any time after three days' notice, and
provides means for meeting the expense of this and other similar
operations.

These powers may, perhaps, if wisely exercised, secure a great improvement
in the health of the city. We trust that the duties imposed by them will be
thoroughly and efficiently performed, and we are gratified to see that a
good beginning has already been made; but our regret is not diminished that
the more complete proposed Sanitary Act failed to pass.

The annual report on "The Sanitary Condition of the City of London" has
just been published. By this report it appears, that, during the year
ending on the 31st of March, 1860, the rate of mortality in London was 22.4
per thousand of the population, or 1 in 44; in all England, the average
rate is 22.3; in country districts it is only 20; in the large towns,
26. "Ten years ago," says Dr. Letheby, the author of the report from which
we quote, "the annual mortality of the city was rarely less than 25 in the
thousand.....Our present condition is 19 per cent. better than that, and we
owe it to the sanitary labors of the last ten years." In another part of
the report he says,--"7233 inspections of houses have been made in the
course of the year, of which 803 were of the common lodging-houses, and 935
orders have been issued for sanitary improvement in various particulars."

Compare these facts with those given in our article concerning the rate of
mortality in our cities. The spirit of emulation, if no other, should force
us into energetic measures of reform. Boston with a death-rate of 1 in 41,
New York of 1 in 27, and London of 1 in 44!

* * * * *

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