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Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 7, No. 44, June, 1861 by Various

Part 2 out of 5

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arms, and, clasping a towering tree, cried out, 'I see sky!' and he
steadfastly fixed his gaze upon the crevices of brightness that urged
their way down amid the pines over his head.

"Waubeeneemah turned his eyes over the broad valley, and answered the
cry with, 'I see light!'

"Thus they stood, one with his eyes downward, the other with his intent
on the sky, and fast and furious ran the river, swollen with the
meltings of many snows, and fierce and quick rang the battle-cries of 'I
see sky!' 'I see light!'

"A white man was near; his cabin lay just below; he had climbed a tree
above Waubeeneemah and remained a silent witness of this wordy war,
until, looking up the river, he saw a canoe that had broken from its
fastenings and was rushing down to the rapids below. It contained the
families of the two warriors, who were helplessly striving against the
swift flow of waters.

"The white man spoke, and the warriors listened. He cried, 'Look to your
canoe! and see Skylight!'

"Through the pines rushed Wabausee, and down the river-bank
Waubeeneemah, and into the tide, until they met the coming canoe, across
whose birchen bow they gave the grasp of peace, and ever since that time
Indian and white man have called this place Skylight."

"Where are the Indians now?" I could not help asking,--and yet with no
purpose, beyond expression of the thought question.

The shadows were gathering, the eyelids of the day were closing. Saul
caught me up again through the shadows into those eyes of his, and

"Here, Lucy! I am a pale form of Waubeeneemah! I know it! I feel it now!
I sometimes ache for foemen and the wilds."

Why do I think of that time to-night on the Big Blue, far away from
Skylight, and imagine that the prairie airs are ringing with the echoes
of the great cries that are heard in my native land, "I see North!" and
"I see South!" and there is no white man of them all high enough to see
the United States?

I've wandered! Let me think,--yes, I have it! My thought began with
trying to fancy Saul's mother taking him to baptism.

She was dead, when I went to Skylight, her son's wife.

She went into the higher life at thirty-three of the threescore-and-ten
cycle of the human period. How young to die!

The longer we live, the stronger grows the wish to live. And why
not? When the circle is almost ended, and all the momentum of
threescore-and-ten is gained, why not pass the line and enter into
second childhood? What more beautiful truth in Nature's I Am, than
obedience to this law?

I've another fancy on the Big Blue to-night. It is a place for fancies.
I remember--a long time ago it seems, and yet I am not so old as Saul's
mother--the first knowledge that I had of life. I saw the sun come up
one morning out of the sea, and with it there came out of the night of
my past a consciousness. I was a soul, and held relations separate from
other souls to that risen sun and that sea. From that hour I grew into
life. A growth from the Unseen came to me with every day, born I knew
not how into my soul. I sent out nothing to people the future. All came
to me.

Is this true, this faith or fancy that God sends a tidal wave through
man, bringing with it from Heaven's ocean fragments set afloat from its
shore to lodge in our lives, until there comes an ebb, and then begin
our hopes and desires all to tend heavenward, or _elsewhere?_ Have
you never felt, do you not now feel, that there is more of yourself
_somewhere else_ than there is upon the Earth?

I like to think thus, when I see a person ill, or in sorrow, or weighed
down with weary griefs. I like to think that that which is ebbing here
is flowing and ripening into fitness for the freed soul in that land
where there shall be "no more sea."

In insanity, does the kind Lord remove _all_ from this world in order
to fit up the new life more gloriously? and are those whom most we pity
clasped the closest in the Living Arms?

It may be,--there is such comfort in possibilities.

Will Saul come to-night? I am all alone on the Big Blue. There's not
another settled claim for miles away.

The August sun drank up the moisture from our corn-fields, took out the
blood of our prairie-grasses, and God sent no cooling rains. Why?

Skylight was charmful for a while. I had forgotten Saul's assertion that
he was a pale shadow of Waubeeneemah, as we forget a dream of our latest

At my home Aunt Carter appeared one day, and said she had "come to spend
the afternoon and stay to tea"; and she seated her amplitude of being in
Saul's favorite chair, and began to count the stitches in the heel of
the twenty-fourth stocking that she assured me "she had knit every
stitch of since the night she saw my husband lift me down at the gate
just outside the window." Her blue eyes went down deeper and deeper
into the bluer yarn her fingers were threading; and after a long pause,
during which I had forgotten her presence, and was counting out the
hours on the face of the clock which the slow hands must travel over
before Saul would be at home, suddenly she looked up and began with,--

"Mrs. Monten!"

There was something startling in her voice. I knew it was the first drop
of a coming flood, and I fortified myself. She went on repeating,--

"Mrs. Monten! I've been thinking, for a great long while, that it isn't
right for you to go on living with that man, without knowing what he is.
And I for one have got up to the point of coming right over here and
telling you of it to once."

I could not help the involuntary question of--

"Is my husband an evil man?"

"Evil! I should think he might be, when he has got"----

"Stay, Mrs. Carter!" I interrupted. "I will hear no news of my husband
that he does not choose to give me. Only one question,--Do you know of
any action that my husband has done that is wrong or wicked?"

Aunt Carter forgot her blue eyes and her bluer yarn, for she stopped her
knitting, and her eyes changed to gray in my sight, as she ejaculated,--

"He's got Indian blood in him! I should think you'd be afraid he'd scalp
you, if you didn't do just as he told you to. Everybody in Skylight is
just as sorry for you as ever they can be."

Aunt Carter paused. An open door announced my husband's unexpected

Aunt Carter rolled up her twenty-fourth twin of a stocking, and, hastily
declaring that "she'd always noticed that 't was better to visit people
when they was alone," she made all possible effort to escape before Saul
came in.

My husband an Indian! I looked at him anew. He wore the same presence
that he did when first I saw him, a twelve-month before. There was no
outward trace of the savage, as he came to welcome me; and I forgot my
thought presently, as I listened to his words.

"I am tired of this life," he said; "let us go."

"Where, Saul?"

"Anywhere, where we can breathe. I feel pent up here. I long to hunt
something wild and free as I would be. Shall it be to the prairies,

"Will you live on the hunt?" I asked.

"I had not thought of that. No; I'll build you a"----And he paused.

I laughed, and added,--

"Let us have it, Saul. A wigwam?"

"Why not?"

"Why not, indeed, Saul? I am content,--let us go."

On the morrow I began the work of preparation. I was sitting upon the
carpet, where I had cast all our treasures of knowledge, in the various
guises of the printer's and binder's art, and was selecting the books
that I fondly thought would be essential to my existence, when Saul came

He looked down upon me with that look that always drinks up my sight
into his, and said,--

"You are sorry to go, Lucy. I will stay."

"No, Saul, I wish to go. You shall teach me the pleasures of wild
life; and who knows but I shall like it so well that we will give up
civilization for it? Where shall I pack all these books?"

"Leave them all," he said. "We will close the house as it is, until we
come back." And I left them all at home.

In the heart of these preparations an insane desire came into my mind to
know something of Saul's ancestors, and there was but one way to know,
namely, by asking, which I would not do of human soul. Thus it came to
pass that I was driven out, between this would of my mind and wouldn't
of my soul, to search for some knowledge from inanimate things. The
last night before our departure I became particularly restless and
unsatisfied. I went to the place of burial of the villagers, where I
found duly recorded on two stones the names of Saul's parents, Richard
Monten and Agnes Monten, his wife.

There was nothing Indian there, and I went home once more to the place
that had been so happy until the spirit of inquiry grew stronger than I.
That night I watched Saul, until he grew restless, and asked me why I
did so.

I evaded direct reply, and on the morrow we were wheeling westward.

From the instant we left the line of man's art, Saul became another
person. All the romance and the glory in his nature blossomed out
gorgeously, and I grew glad and gay with him. We crossed the Missouri.
We traversed the river-land to Fort Leavenworth, amid cottonwoods, oaks,
and elms which it would have done Dr. Holmes's heart and arms good to
see and measure.

"Will you ride, Lucy? will you try the prairie?" asked Saul, the morning
following our arrival in Fort Leavenworth.

I signified my pleasure, and mounted a brave black mustang, written all
over with liberty. We had ridden out the dew of the morning, and for
miles not one word had been spoken, the only sound in the stillness
having been the hoofs' echo on the prairie-grass, when Saul rode close
to me, and, laying his hand on my pony's head, spoke in a deep, strange
voice that put my soul into expectancy, for I had heard the same once
before in my life.

"Lucy," he said, "I sometimes think that I have done a great wrong in
taking you into my keeping; for I _must_ accept these calls to wildness
that come over me at intervals."

"Have you ever been here before?" I asked.

"Twice, Lucy, I have crossed the American Desert, and lain down to sleep
at the foot of the Rocky Mountains."

"You are not going there now?" I almost gasped.

"Why not? Can't you go with me?"

Oh, how my spirit recoiled at the thought of the Desert! Wild animals
processioned through my brain in endless circles. All the stories of
Indian ferocity that ever I had heard came into my consciousness, as it
is said all the past events of life do in the drowning, and I had
no time to hesitate. The decision of my lifetime gathered into that
instant. Saul or nothing; and bravely I answered,--did I not?--when,
with brightening eyes, I said, "Let us on!"--and shaking the hand from
my saddle-bow, I gave my prairie friend leave to fly.

"Lucy! Lucy!" cried Saul, and he soon overtook me,--"Lucy, I sought you
as the thirsting man seeks water on the desert; and I _have_ sought to
bless you, almost as Hagar blessed the Angel,--almost as the devout soul
blesses God, when it finds a spring that He has made to rise out of the
sands. Having found you, I was content. I thought that I could live
always, as other men do, in the tameness of Town and Law; but I could
not, unless you refused to go with me into the Nature that my spirit
demands as a part of its own life."

"Saul, you know that you _can_ go without me,--else I should not wish
to go. I go, not because I am a necessity to you, but a free-born soul,
that wills to go where you go."

The grave Professor (for I whisper it here to-night, with only the wind
to hear, that Saul _is_ a Professor in a famed seat of learning not many
leagues away from the Atlantic coast) looked down at me with a vague,
puzzled air, for an instant, then said,--

"I see! It is so, Lucy. You have divined the secret. I am not to let you
know that I cannot live without you,--and, if you can, you are to make
me think that you only tolerate me."

"What of it? Isn't it almost true? I sometimes think, that, if ever we
are in heaven, effort to remain there will be necessary to its full joy.
We are always crying for rest, when effort is the only pleasure worth

"You are right, and you are wrong. Let us leave mental philosophy with
mankind, who have to do with it. Just now, I am willing to confess that
I need you, and you are to do as you will. Come! let us look into this

And leading the way, Saul rode presently under a tall cotton wood-tree,
and, lifting for me the low-hanging branches of a black-jack, I entered
an amphitheatre whose walls were leaves of living green domed in blue,
with a river-aisle winding through.

I had not time to take in all the joy of the circle, before it was
evidenced that Saul had premeditated the scene. A fire of twigs sent up
a spicy perfume. A camp-kettle stood beside the fire, and a creature
stood beside it. A yellow savage I should have said, but for my
husband's welcome. Never in our home library did brother-professor ever
receive warmer grasp of hand than I knew this Indian met. They used
words, in speaking, that were unknown to me. Presently I perceived that
an introduction was pending. That being over, the Indian, Meotona,
pointed to a swinging-chair, built for me out of the wealth of
grapevine. It was cushioned with the velvet of the buffalo-grass.

"Tell me how to thank him," I said to Saul.

Meotona immediately replied,--"Me no thank,--him," pointing to Saul.

I laid my sun-wearied head against the vine, and through half-closed
eyes watched in delicious rest the preparations for dinner. My
prairie-horse mistook my comfort for his own. I found his length of
liberty included my chair-cushion, and I gave him tuft after tuft,
until something like justice seemed to penetrate into his soul,--for he
heroically refused the last morsel, and wandered away into the next arc
of his liberty.

"If all the days are to be like this, how delicious it will be!" I said,
as Saul came to me with choice bits of prairie fare.

"Not this," he said. "Wait until we hunt the buffalo!--that wakes up the
spirit of man!"

"But I am not a man, and you must excuse me from hunting buffalo," I
could not help saying, as I slid out of the grapevine chair to the
grass, beside Saul; for verily, I believed that he had forgotten that I
was a woman, and a child of the Puritans.

No more words were spoken until our repast was over. Meotona gathered
up the furniture of our dining-room, and with us returned toward Fort
Leavenworth. The summer sun was setting when we drew near the Missouri.
I thought I had disappointed Saul. At the last moment I ventured to

"Why did you return? I would have gone on. I wished it."

My husband's face lit into a quick smile, then gloomed as quickly, and
he said,--

"I smile at your simplicity in imagining that I ventured out, without
consulting you, for the Rocky Mountains. I frown to think that my wife
believes that I could go into danger with her, and only one right arm to
defend her. No! I went to-day to try you. I couldn't ask you within any
four-walled shelter. I wanted the wide expanse to be your only shield
before I could trust you. I wanted you to face the foe. Again I ask,
Shall we go? Answer from your own individuality, not mine."

"I will go."

It was the spirit that spoke; for neither heart nor flesh could have
braved the fancied dangers.

A week went by, and every moment of the time Saul was elate and busy,
providing for me in every possible way, devising comforts that exceeded
my imagination, remembering every idiosyncrasy that I had given
expression to in his hearing. Under the guard of the United States mail,
we left Fort Leavenworth. Meotona, the yellow savage, went with us. Oh,
the delight of those days! it comes to me now, and I almost forget that
I am alone on the Big Blue, and that those hours have gone down among
"the froth and rainbows" of the past, bearing with them a part of my
life. There were nights when I was afloat in the bark of my spirit, and
wandering up and on, until I met Half-Way Angels that bade me back to
Earth; and then I would wander away into dreams, watched by the stars
and Saul,--for in those first days he never wearied in his care. By
day I wandered through a garden of flowers untended by man, whose only
keepers were butterflies and birds. Indian faces and forms no longer
made me tremble. I grew to see beauty in them, as they dashed by the
train, intent on the hunt.

We encamped beside Stranger Creek, on the banks of the Wakarusa, and on
the Great Divide separating the Osage from the Wakarusa Valley.

After we left Council Grove, Meotona, I noticed, was on the watch,
constantly peering off into the illimitable distance. One day I learned
the cause. An exclamation from the Indian led me to look at him. For
once, fire flashed out of his eyes,--he had forgotten himself. He was in
ecstasy as he saw a party advancing over the prairie.

"Here they come! Now for the heart of the wilderness!" exclaimed my
husband, as they rode up.

"We are not going away from the guard?" I ventured to suggest, as chief
after chief came up. I knew them in their wild orders, having by this
time learned something of Indian customs. They were equipped for the
Plains, and among their number I distinguished two white men.

"I know them,--they are safe and true, Lucy,--fear nothing!" whispered
Saul close to my whitening cheek; and afterwards we turned aside from
the Santa Fe trail to the north of the American Desert.

My husband did not leave me for an instant that afternoon; and I,
simple-minded woman, tried to look as happy--well, as a woman and a
professor's wife could look under the circumstances. The wings of my
tent that night were spread to the breeze that swept low and cool across
the Divide.

The next day we came to the lodges of the Indians. Swarthy-faced girls
and women came to greet us. It was evident that many of them had never
before seen a white woman. As evening came on, I noticed in one group
outside the principal lodge an unusual amount of grimace that was
incomprehensible, until, very timidly, a little girl left the crowd.
Half-way toward me she stopped and turned back, but again the violent
gesticulations were enacted, when the child made a sudden evolution in
my direction, and with one hard finger rubbed the back of my hand,
until I thought myself quite a Spartan; then looking at her own finger,
doubtfully at first, she ran back, and went from one to another, showing
her finger. The design was evident. Indians (the women, at least) have
some curiosity;--they thought _me painted white_. I forgave them.

We went five hundred miles from this lodge into the wilderness,--two of
the squaws accompanying us, for my comfort.

At last came the sight of buffaloes, feeding on the short tufts of grass
on the Grand Prairie. My heart grew sick with the shout that rang from a
hundred Indian throats, and--must I write it?--from Saul's.

"Stay!" said Saul, and he left me a guard, and was away without one word
of farewell.

Night came down, and he was not returned. The stars shone out of the
vault like "red-hot diamonds," and on the sight no vision, to the ear no

The women pitched my tent. The guard lit the fire. They brought me
savory bits of food, and coffee. My throat was tightened, I could not
eat, and I arose and went out into the night alone. I lost all sense of
fear, as I wandered away. The prairie had just been burned, and I knew
must be free from serpents and other reptiles: beyond these I had no
thought. I turned once to see the little dot of fire-light, to see the
one point of canvas, my shelter and my home. At last I grew very weary,
and remember having lain down, and having thought that the stars were
raining down upon me, so near did they seem,--and one after one,
constellation mingled with constellation, until I fancied a storm of
stars was circling over my head.

I started with a sudden spasm, as a sound burst upon me, wild, ringing,
dreadful. A hundred Indians were uttering a war-cry, and, as I lay
there, with my head pressed to the burnt sod, I felt the shudder of
earth from many hoofs. I turned in the direction whence they were
coming;--raise my head from the ground I dared not. All was darkness.
Could I possibly escape? Not if I moved. Where I was, there might be a
chance that they would pass to the right or the left. On, on they came,
and I knew the cry,--it was for vengeance. Feebly, like a setting star,
gleamed the watch-fire of my guard in the distance. Suddenly it went
down. They had heard the alarm. How awfully my heart kept time to the
nearing echo of the many footfalls! My eyes must have been fastened on
the West. I saw dark heads rise first above the earth-line, then the
moving arms of the horsemen. I heard the ring of weapons, and saw them
coming directly over the place where I lay; but I did not stir,--it was
as if I had been bound with an equator to the ground. Something struck
my arm and was gone. The troop passed by.

It was morning. A low, deep breathing betokened something near me. I
opened my eyes, and saw the face of my husband,--but, oh, how changed! I
heard him say, "The Lord hear my vow, and record my prayer!"

All that day I lay there, on the prairie, Saul sitting beside me,
shielding me from, the sun, and giving me drops of coolness, which the
Indians pressed from herbs and shrubs that grew not far away. I was in
a dream, and when the stars arose they lifted me up and bore me away.
I knew it was to the eastward. I felt no resistance in my nature, as I
always do when going to the west, either voluntarily or otherwise. We
came, after many days, to the Indian lodge. I never saw the guard again,
that I left in peace, when I was _driven_ out to wander, because I felt
wretched and lonely to be deserted for the chase by my husband. They
were carried into captivity by the hostile Sioux. There was mourning in
the lodge. An Indian mother, whose daughter had gone with me, sat down
in the ashes of sorrow, and moved not for two days; then she arose, and,
scattering dust from the earth toward the setting sun, she went into her
wigwam and they gave her food.

It was September before I was able to leave the place whither they
carried me. My arm was cut with the hoof of the flying horse, and when
Saul found me, I had fainted; I was dying from loss of blood, which his
coming only had stayed. After I grew stronger, I closely observed my

I never saw such an ache, such a strife, as week after week
hunting-parties went out in the morning and returned at evening with
their game. Saul grew reserved and silent when I begged him to go, to
leave me for a day.

"It is of no use, Lucy; I made a vow, and I must keep it. This Indian
blood within me must be subdued; it has met a stronger current on the
way, and _must_ mingle with it."

He said no more on the subject, and I would not question him. We took
our last walk on the prairie. Everything was in readiness for our
departure to meet the expected United States mail-train. We returned
to the lodge, and Saul left me for a few minutes to make some last
arrangements with Meotona. An old Indian woman, whose eyes I had often
noticed on me, crept stealthily in at my tent-door, and said to me in

"Let me be welcome; I come to teach you."

I knew that among her tribe she had the reputation of a prophetess, but
I had never heard her speak English.

"I am waiting to hear," I said; and this woman fixed her sad, solemn
eyes on me and said,--

"Child of the pale man, a great many moons ago, when my eyes were bright
like the little quiver-flower, and the young warriors sought me in my
father's wigwam, I had a sister. Her name _he_ called Luella. The
chiefs of the tribe were going for a grand hunt on the Huron. Some
pale men from across the lake came to join them. One of them looked on
Luella, and her eyes grew soft and sad. She wrapped her blanket about
her, and walked often under the stars at night. Through the winter, she
would not talk with the young chiefs; and when the leaves grew again,
the pale men came back, and Luella walked again under the stars. She
learned English, and no one knew who taught her.

"The hunt went on again until the snow came; and when the pale men
left the lodge, Luella was lost from the wigwam. The warriors went
in pursuit, but they came back without Luella. She was not with the
pale-faces. Many moons came and went, and one night I heard a voice
singing in the distance. I knew it was Luella, and she led a child by
her side, and he said soft English words. She would not come into the
lodge. She only came to tell me that she was with the white man who
loved her, that she was content, and to show me her boy; and Luella
walked away into the night again, and I told no one.

"I made many moccasons, and wove baskets of twigs; and when Uncas, the
chief of the tribe, my father, went to the great hunting-ground beyond
the Sun, then I gathered up my moccasons, and went out before the gate
opened to let the light through. I left the wigwam for Luella. I hated
white people; I hated the white man who stole Luella from me; but the
pale-faces took my moccasons, and gave me white wampum, and with that I
crossed the lake, and went from town to town, and everywhere I showed
the people this,"--and the wrinkled woman extended her hand to me; but,
at the instant, Saul lifted the tent-curtain and came in. She hid her
hand under her blanket, and, wrapping it closely about her, walked out
without a glance to testify that ever she had spoken.

Saul asked me the cause of this visit, and I was about to tell him, when
there arose in the lodges without such screams and cries as brought all
the population into the air. The Indian woman who so lately had left my
tent lay on the ground, in the apparent extreme of agony.

"Let the pale-face come," said the knot of savages around her; "it is
for her she calls."

My husband interpreted the words for me, and in doubt and fear I went to
her. Her screams had ceased; she held her hands tightly over her heart,
as if there had been the spasms of pain. She rolled her eyes around to
see if any one was within hearing, and then said,--

"I had fear that you would tell him; stay a little, and let me tell you
now. I went on after Luella until I found her. I had the name of the
white man to guide me. She was living as the pale-faces live, in a great
town of many lodges.

"I saw with my eyes that she was happy, and then I walked many moons
back to the Huron, and rowed across the lake in a canoe that I found in
the woods.

"Luella came back again. I don't know how she found the way alone, but
she came into the wigwam when the leaves were falling, and before the
buds grew again she went to Uncas in the West. I asked her about the
white man, and she shook her head and hid her eyes. I asked her for the
boy, and she threw open her arms wide, to show me he was not there.
Look!" said the woman, "I am dying; I'm very old; I ought to have walked
with Luella this long time. Listen,--let me teach you. The pale face
that you look into has eyes like my Luella. Take care! When he would
walk under the stars alone, go not with him. When he would hunt bison,
give him all the prairie; don't stand at the wigwam-door to keep him
in. And when you are far away beyond my people, you may see this,"--and
she handed to me the small parcel from close to her wild heart. I took

"You'll keep it for Luella's sake. She held it close when she went away;
now I'm going, there's no one else to care. Bring it with you, when the
Great Spirit calls."

I could win no more words from the woman. She spoke to those who came to
her, and Saul said she told them that I had "taken away the torment."

"I shall think my Lucy witches somebody beside poor Saul," said my
husband; and he gave a sigh as he stood in the tent-door, and watched
the westering moon for the last time.

In the morning they told us that the Prophetess had gone into the light
beyond the Sun.

Saul went in to see her, and as he came back to me I saw that he was not
in a mood for words. Our farewell was very silent. Meotona went with us.
Once again, bounding over the prairie, my heart grew lighter than it
had been for many days; but I had no opportunity to examine Luella's

We met the long caravan of wagons on the summit of the Great Divide, and
it was joy to unite my fate once more with that of my countrymen. Saul
saw this, and said,--

"Know now, Lucy, that you have the portion meted out to me, when I saw
the freemen of the wild coming. Your pleasure is that of civilization;
mine was that of barbaric life. I bid adieu to it henceforth,"--and my
brave husband, at this instant, looked out upon the head-waters of the
Neosho, where Nature, when she built up the world, must have made a
storehouse of material, and never came back for her treasures, they lie
so magnificently rolled over the land.

Saul's eyes gathered up the view, as if they were, what they are,
memory's absorbents, and said, sadly,--

"It is for the last time, Lucy!"

We went into corral the next evening by the side of a grassy mound
covered with low-growing shrubs.

Afterwards Saul wandered out alone. I would have gone with him; but
at the instant I put my face outside the tent-door, the memory of the
Indian woman's caution came to me, and with it the opportunity to
examine Luella's secret.

I entered my tent, lighted the little lamp that had travelled a thousand
miles and never done service till now, and opened Luella's treasure. It
was wrapped in soft white fur, bound about with the long, dried grass
that grows beside the Huron. A scroll of parchment was rolled within
it, faded, yellow, and old. I opened it, with a smile at my strange

At the first glance, I thought I had before me some Indian
hieroglyphics; but bringing back from the place of its long obscurity
the little knowledge of the French language that I held in possession, I
deciphered, that, "fourscore years before, beside the froth of the Huron
Water, Father Kino had performed the marriage-rite upon Luella, daughter
of Uncas, of the Dacotahs, and Richard Monten, of Montreal." Below the
certificate of the priest of the Church were strange characters beyond
my power to decipher.

With trembling I looked out for Saul's return. Here, upon the banks
of the Neosho, I had learned the secret which my life in the East had
hidden so long.

A certain kind, of guiltiness came over me, as Saul drew near, breaking
down with every tread the sun-cured grass,--a sense of unworthiness, to
hold in my hand a possession which essentially was his, and which he had
not freely given me.

"I will not look into his eyes with a veil lying in the air," I said,
very quietly to myself; and so, when my husband saw the burning of the
little lamp and asked the cause, I told him all the story of the
Indian woman, and put into his hand her gift to me. Saul's mind was
preoccupied; he paid very little attention to the story; but when I
gave him the white-furred scroll, and he opened it, then the grave
professor----Well, it is better that I do not put into words what
followed, even here, on the Big Blue.

An hour afterwards Saul spoke. He said,--

"Lucy, you have given me the key of my life, I knew my Indian blood, but
I knew not whence it came; therefore I said nothing to you. I remember
being tormented by it, when a boy, but never knew by what right. Let me
translate for you this Indian register of--let me see--my grandmother's
marriage. 'Ten moons from the lost moon, and many sleeps from the life
of the big Huron Water, the Great Spirit called Luella to walk with a
son of the Pale-Faces. The mystery [the priest] met them, and told them
to go on to the Sun. They are gone in the path of the lost moons.'"

"Let us go to Skylight by the way of Montreal," I suggested.

Saul said, "It is well."

At the Missouri I laid aside my prairie costume, and assumed the raiment
of fashion.

We found in Canada pleasant people bearing our name, and they welcomed
us as relatives.

Richard Monten lay beside a fixed cloud of marble; and although Luella's
sister had said she died far away, yet her name was beneath her

Tradition told us of the beautiful Indian wife with eyes like
light,--and how her husband took her, every year, alone with him into
the wilds,--and how, when they came back, and the winter snows fell,
she would sit all day beside him, with her eyes on figures and letters,
whilst her impatient fingers were threading her long hair, and memory
shook her head at the attempted education, perhaps wisely and well.

When Mr. Monten died, and left her houses and lands, she turned away
from them all, and, leading her boy by the hand, went out of her home
and was seen no more until long after, when Father Kino, a kind old
priest, going home late one night from a dying soul, in passing the
cloud of marble, heard faint moans coming out of it, and, going near,
found an Indian woman, in festive dress, like a chief's daughter,
kneeling there. A few minutes afterwards, when Father Kino came back
with an assistant, there were no more moans, for Luella had "gone on to
the Sun."

The fate of the little boy was never known until then, and then it was
only known that he had lived and died and was buried in Skylight.

We found houses and lands, but no record that they were ours. So we left
them under British rule, and returned to Skylight, to our cottage and

Aunt Carter came in before we had been an hour at home. I think she
watched the opportunity of Saul's absence to find me alone.

"See!" she exclaimed, holding up to my view a small eminence of
stockings, "see what I have done, while you've just been going about the
world doing nothing at all!" And with a really warm shake of my hand,
Aunt Carter seated herself, for the second time, in Saul's chair.

"Why, I've been knitting too!" I said, in extenuation.

"What?" asked Aunt Carter. "Some new-fashioned thing or other, I'll

"No,--something that is as old as Eve."

"Who ever beard of Eve's knitting? The Bible doesn't say one word about
it, Mrs. Monten. Besides, I don't think little Cain and Abel wore
stockings at all."

"I did not say that Eve knit in Paradise. I only said I'd been knitting
at something as old as Eve. I meant the thread of life. Here comes my
husband to tell you how industrious I have been."

Saul led Aunt Carter on to talk of her youth, and gradually of his
father, until he had learned all that she knew of his history. It was
very little: only that a fur-trader and a party of Dacotahs came to the
village, she had heard her father say, to sell their skins, bringing a
brown little boy with them; that the child fell sick with scarlet fever,
and they left him to the mercy of the village people, and never came
back for him, although they had said they would.

Did Luella give her boy away?--Never, I was convinced, and Saul

Saul went back into his round of professional duties, and with much
heart for a while.

Delighted with civilization, and peopled with memories, and joyous with
the divine plumage ever hovering around me, my life ran on. I watched
Saul narrowly. He would often take up his hat, after hours of
application to science, and rush out of the house, as if a mission lay
before him. He would come back, and devote himself to me, as if he were
conscious of some neglect in his absence. I planned short excursions all
over the adjacent country. I became addicted to angling, because I saw
Saul liked it. There were many righteous eyeballs that reproved me
for wandering in places not fit for a woman, and Aunt Carter became
exceedingly disturbed, even to the point of remonstrance.

"You're spoiling your husband," she would say,--"he'll not know but what
you are a squaw," she said to me one day, in true distress.

However, I endured it delightfully for three years. Saul received in one
week four letters, each containing the offer of a professor's chair in a
desirable institution.

For many months I had seen the spell weaving around my good husband;
I had seen it flash out of his eyes; I had heard its undertone in his
voice; I had felt it in his whole manner, and I knew the hour of battle
was near.

I was strong, and I came to the rescue. It was on this wise. Hearken! is
he coming? No, it is only the wind coming up the Big Blue.

We sat in our Skylight door in an April evening,--unwise, perhaps,--but
we were there. Saul had taken down that wild warble of Longfellow's,
"Hiawatha." He read to me until the moon came up; then he threw down the
book, and said, "Pshaw!"

"What is that for, Saul?" I asked, in some surprise.

"It is not for the book,--for myself, Lucy. I had better not have opened
it Let us go and talk with the Doctor." And we went.

Saul had not answered his letters on the chair question, and I put up a

"I think I never felt so well as when I was in Kansas," I said. "Really,
Saul, I've felt a strong inclination to cough for some time, every
morning. The climate of Kansas is wonderfully curative for pulmonary
difficulties. I wish you would go out there now, and build a log cabin,
plant a few miles of maize, gather it in, and then, when the season is
over, come back and go to ----. You know they value you too highly not
to wait your time."

I saw a slow kindling up in Saul's eyes, but an instant later it had
gone down, and he said, looking into mine,--

"Do you really and truly wish this, Lucy?"

And Lucy answered,--

"I really and truly wish it, Saul."

We came hither with the violets and bluebirds. My wigwam points to the
sky. We have roamed on the prairies, and wandered in the timber-lands.
Under the heavens of the Big Blue we have drunk "the wine of life all
day," and "been lighted off" to hemlock-boughs "by the jewels in the

Oh, this life that is passing, passing in unseen marches on to the Great
Plains where we shall corral forever! I've just opened my cabin-door
to look for Saul; he's been gone ten days. The drought came; our maize
withered and died. Ten miles away, there is a town; two houses are
there. We left our vast-wilderness lodge to Nature in October, and
turned our faces eastward. Reaching the town, we found Azrael hovering
there. It was impossible to go on and leave such suffering, and we
stayed. While we waited, winter came along, tossing her white mail
over the prairie, and we were prisoned. Azrael folded his pinions, and
carried in them two souls out of the town of two houses. Afterward, Saul
and I came back to our home. I kindled the fire, and Saul went forth to
earn our daily food. Life began to grow painfully earnest. The supply of
wheaten flour waxed less and less, and I sometimes wished--no, I _did
not wish_ that I was a widow, I only wished for flour.

I began to look for manna, and it came,--not "small and white, about
the size of coriander-seed," but in the form of the flying life of

I have cried many tears over eyes that were shut for me, but I've never
been sorry that I came hither.

At last, no more wings came flying over the prairie. Saul came home
without food. That was ten days ago. He carried me the next morning to
the village, to leave me there, till he should return,--then retraced
the ten miles through the snow, and went for food.

I stayed until there was no more for the children to eat. I could not
abide that, and this morning I stole away. I've come the ten miles
through the snow to light the fire, that Saul may not pass by, and go on
to the town this cold night. Where is he now? Not perishing, dying on
the prairie, as I was once, when he found me? I'll walk and see. It
is so lone outside, there is such an _awful sound_ in the _voice of
stillness,_ and Saul is not in sight!

Where is my life now? Since Saul went away, so much of it has gone, I
feel as if more of myself were there than here. Why couldn't I go on
thinking? It was such relief! The moon is up at last. A low rumble over
the dried grass, like a great wave treading on sand. I am faint. I have
tightened my dress, to keep out hunger, every hour of this day. Those
starving children! God pity them! A higher wave of sound,--surely 'tis
not fancy. I will look out. The moon shines on a prairie sail, a gleam
of canvas. Another roll of the broad wheel, and Saul is here.

"Send the man on quickly," I cried; "the children are starving in the

"And you?" said Saul.

The power of his eyes is almost gone. I scarcely heed them. I see--a bag
of meal.


On the 6th of October, 1840, a young man was brought up for sentence in
one of the highest courts of Europe, before which he had been tried, and
by which he had been found guilty of one of the greatest crimes that can
be charged upon any human being, though the world seldom visits it with
moral condemnation. The young man was Prince Louis Napoleon Bonaparte,
the court was the French Chamber of Peers, and the sentence was
imprisonment for life. Had the French government of that day felt strong
enough to act strongly, the condemned would have been treated as the
Neapolitans treated Murat, and as the Mexicans treated Yturbide. He
would have been perpetually imprisoned, but his prison would have been
"that which the sexton makes." But the Orleans dynasty was never strong,
and its head was seldom able to act boldly. To execute a Bonaparte,
the undoubted heir of the Emperor, required nerve such as no French
government had exhibited since that day on which Marechal Ney had been
shot; and there were seven hundred thousand foreign soldiers in France
when that piece of judicial butchery was resolved upon. The army might
not be ready to join a Bonaparte, but it could not be relied upon to
guard the scaffold on which he should be sent to die. The people might
not be ready to overthrow Louis Philippe, to give his place to Louis
Napoleon, but it did not follow that they would have seen the latter's
execution with satisfaction, because they desired peace, and he had
fallen into the habit of breaking it. The enthusiasm that was created in
France by the arrival in that country of the remains of Napoleon I.,
not three months after the coming Napoleon III. had been sent to the
fortress of Ham, showed how difficult a matter it would have been to
proceed capitally against the Prince. Louis Philippe has been praised
for sparing him; but the praise is undeserved. Certainly, the King of
the French was not a cruel man, and it was with sincere regret that he
signed the death-warrants of men who had sought his own life, and who
had murdered his friends; but it would have been no act of cruelty, had
he sent his rival to the guillotine. When a man makes a throw for a
crown, he accepts what is staked, against it,--a coffin. Nothing is
better established than this, that, when a sovereign is assailed, the
intention of the assailant being his overthrow, that sovereign has a
perfect right to put his rival to death, if he succeed in obtaining
possession of his person. The most confirmed believer in Richard III.'s
demoniac character would not think of adding the execution of Richmond
to his crimes, had Plantagenet, and not Tudor, triumphed on Bosworth
Field. James II. has never been blamed for causing Monmouth to be put to
death, but for having complied with his nephew's request for a personal
interview, at which he refused to grant his further request for a
mitigation of punishment. Murat's death was an unnecessary act, but
Ferdinand of Naples has never been censured for it. Had Louis Philippe
followed these examples, and those of a hundred similar cases, he could
not have been charged with undue severity in the exercise of his power
for the conservation of his own rights, and the maintenance of the
tranquillity, not of France alone, but of Europe, and of the world,
which the triumph of a Bonaparte might have perilled. He spared the
future Emperor's life, not from any considerations of a chivalric
character, but because he durst not take it. He feared that the blood
of the offender would more than atone for his offence, and he would
not throw into the political caldron so rich a material, dreading the
effects of its presence there. Then the Orleans party and the Imperial
party not only marched with each other, but often crossed and ran into
each other; and it was not safe to run the risk of offending the first
by an attempt to punish its occasional ally. There was, too, something
of the ludicrous in the Boulogne affair, which enabled government to
regard the chief offender with cheap compassion. Louis Philippe is
entitled to no credit, on the score of mercy, for his conduct in
1840,--for the decision of the Court of Peers was his inspiration; but
he acted wisely,--so wisely, that, if he had done as well in 1848, his
grandson would at this moment have been King of the French, and the
Emperor that is a wanderer, with nothing but a character for flightiness
and a capacity for failure to distinguish him from the herd, while many
would have regarded him as a madman. But the end was not then, and the
hand of Fate was not even near that curtain which was to be raised for
the disclosure of events destined to shake and to change the world.

The defence of Louis Napoleon was conducted by M. Berryer, the great
leader of the Legitimists, who, twenty-five years before, had aided
in the defence of Ney, and who, nearly twenty years later, defended
Montalembert, his client of 1840 being in this last case the prosecutor.
In his speech in defence of the Prince, this first of French orators and
advocates made use of language, the recollection of which in after-days
must have been attended with very conflicting emotions. Addressing
himself to the judges, he said,--"Standing where I do, I do not think
that the claims of the name in which this project was attempted can
possibly fall humiliated by the disdainful expressions of the _Procureur
General_. You make remarks upon the weakness of the means employed, of
the poverty of the whole enterprise, which made all hope of success
ridiculous. Well, if success is anything, I will say to you who are
men,--you, who are the first men in the state,--you, who are members of
a great political body,--there is an inevitable and eternal Arbitrator
between every judge and every accused who stands before him;--before
giving your judgment, now, being in presence of this Arbitrator, and in
face of the country, which will hear your decrees, tell me this, without
regard now to weakness of means, but with the rights of the case, the
laws, and the institution before your eyes, and with your hands upon
your hearts, as standing before your God, and in presence of us, who
know you, will you say this:--'If he had succeeded, if his pretended
right had triumphed, I would have denied him and it,--I would have
refused all share in his power,--I would have denied and rejected him'?
For my part, I accept the supreme arbitration I have mentioned; and
whoever there may be amongst you, who, before their God, and before
their country, will say to me,--'If he had succeeded, I would have
denied him,'--such a one will I accept for judge in this case." In
making this sweeping challenge, M. Berryer knew that he was hitting
the Court of Peers hard, for it contained men who had been leading
Napoleonists in the days of the Empire, and others who wore ready to
join any government which should be powerful enough to establish itself;
while it left the Legitimists, the orator's own party, unharmed. They
were the only men, according to M. Berryer's theory of defence, who
would have furnished an impartial tribunal for the trial of his client;
for they alone, with strict truth, could have said that they would deny
his right, and refuse to share in his power, no matter at what time he
should succeed in accomplishing his designs.

Had the French Peers been gifted with that power of mental vision which
enables men to see into the future, they would not have been disposed to
condemn the man who stood before them in 1840. Could it have been made
known to them that in eight years he would be elected President of the
French Republic by nearly five and a half millions of votes,--that in
twelve years he would become Emperor of the French,--that in fifteen
years he would, as the ally of England, have struck down the Russian
hegemony,--and that in twenty years he would be the conqueror of
Austria, and have called the Kingdom of Italy into existence, while his
enmity was dreaded and his friendship desired by all the nations of the
earth, and the fate of the Popedom was in his hands,--had these things
been so much as dreamed of by his judges, they would have formed the
most lenient of tribunals, and have suffered him to depart in peace.
They are not to be charged with a lack of wisdom in not foreseeing what
must have appeared to be the ravings of lunacy, had it been deliberately
set down by some inspired prophet. Neither the man nor his cause
commanded much respect. We, who know that the French Emperor is the
first man of the age, as well in intellect as in position, have no right
to sneer at the men of 1840 because they looked upon him as a feeble
pretender. He had made two attempts to place himself at the head of the
French nation, and in each instance his failure had been so signal, and
in some respects so ridiculous, that it was impossible to regard him as
the representative of a living principle. Even those who thought him a
man of talent could account for his want of success only by supposing
that Imperialism was no longer powerful in France, and that his appeals
were made to an extinct party. The soldiery, amongst whom the traditions
of the Empire were supposed to be strong, had evinced no desire to
substitute a Bonaparte for a Bourbon of the younger branch; and as to
the peasantry, who showed themselves so fanatically Bonapartean in 1848,
and in 1851-2, they were never thought of at all. France consisted of
the government, the army, the _bourgeoisie_, and the skeleton colleges
of electors; and so long as they were agreed, nothing was to be feared
either from Prince Louis Napoleon or from the Comte de Chambord. We
think this was a sound view of affairs, and that the French government
of 1841 might have been the French government of 1861, had not the
parties to the combination that ruled France in 1841 quarrelled. It was
the loss of the support of the middle class that caused Louis Philippe
to lose his throne in the most ignominious manner; and that support the
monarch would not have forfeited, but for the persistence of M. Guizot
in a policy which it would have been difficult to maintain under any
circumstances, and which was enfeebled in 1847-8 by the gross corruption
of some of its principal supporters. That the _bourgeoisie_ intended to
subvert the throne they had established, for the benefit of either
the Republicans or the Imperialists, is not to be supposed; but their
natural disgust with the wickedness of the government as it was at the
beginning of 1848, and with the refusal of the minister to allow even
the peaceful discussion of the reform question, was the occasion of the
kingdom's fall, and of the establishment, first of the shadowy Republic,
and then of the solid Empire.

The events of 1848 furnished to Louis Napoleon the place whereon to
stand, whence to move the French world. He must have lived and died an
exile, but for the Revolution of February. The ability with which he
profited by events suffices to show that he is entitled to be considered
a great man as well as a great sovereign. That he had been born in the
purple, and that he bore a great name, and that through the occurrence
of several deaths he had become the legitimate heir of Napoleon, were
favorable circumstances, and helped not a little to promote his purpose;
but they could not alone have made him Emperor of the French, and the
world's arbiter. There must have been extraordinary talent in the man
who aspired as he did, or he would have failed as completely in 1848 as
he had failed in 1836 and in 1840. But the real power of the man came
out as soon as he found a standing-place. Previously to 1848, he could
act only as a criminal in seeking his proper place, as he believed it to
be. He had first to conquer before he could attempt to govern,--and to
conquer, too, with the means of his enemy. All this was changed in 1848.
Then he was safe in France, as he had been in England, and began
the political race on equal terms with such men as Cavaignac and
Ledru-Rollin. That he soon passed far ahead of them was, perhaps, as
much due to circumstances as to his political abilities. The name of
Bonaparte was associated with the idea of the restoration of order
and prosperity, and this helped him with that large class of persons,
embracing both rich men and poor men, who not only believe that "order
is Heaven's first law," but that under certain conditions it is the
supreme law, for the maintenance of which all other laws are to be set
aside and disregarded. These men, whose organ and exponent was M.
Cesar Romieu, who called so loudly for cannon to put down the
revolutionists,--"even if it should come from Russia!"--and whose type
of perfection is the churchyard, were all fanatical supporters of "the
coming man," and they assisted him along the course with all their might
and strength. No matter how swiftly he drove, his chariot-wheels seemed
to them to tarry. The very arguments that were made use of to induce
other men to act against the rising Bonaparte were those which had
the most effect in binding them to his cause. He would establish a
cannonarchy, would he? Well, a cannonarchy was exactly what they
desired, provided its powers should be directed, not against foreign
monarchs, but against domestic Republicans. That a government of which
he should be the head would disregard the constitution, would shackle
the press, would limit speech, and would suppress the Assembly, was an
argument in his favor, that, to their minds, was irresistible. Had
they thought of the Russian War, and of the Italian War, and of the
extinction of the Pope's temporal power, and of the liberal home-policy
that was adopted in 1860, as things possible to occur, Louis Napoleon
would have remained Louis Napoleon to the end of his days, for all the
support he would have received at their hands. They wished for a sort
of high-constable, whose business it should be to maintain order by
breaking the heads or seizing the persons of all who did not take their
view of men's political duties. It is the custom to speak of this
class of men as if they were peculiar to France, and to say that their
existence there is one of the many reasons why that country can never
long enjoy a period of constitutional liberty. This is not just to
France. The French are a great people, who have their faults, but who
are in no sense more servile than are Americans, or Englishmen, or
Germans. Extreme disciples of order, men who are ready to sacrifice
everything else for the privileges of making and spending or hoarding
money in peace, are to be found in all countries; and nowhere are they
more numerous, and nowhere is their influence greater or more noxious,
than in the United States. The difference of populations considered,
there are as many of them in Boston as in Paris; and our breed is
ready to go as far in sacrificing freedom, and in treating right with
contempt, as were their French brothers of 1848. The infirmity belongs,
not to French nature, but to human nature.

Louis Napoleon received not a little assistance, in the early part of
his French career, from the strongest of his political enemies. The
friends of both branches of the Bourbons were his friends--at that time,
and for their own purposes. A restoration was what they desired, and
they held that it would be easier to convert the Comte de Chambord or
the Comte de Paris into a king as the consequence of another Bonapartean
usurpation, than as the consequence of the Republic's continuance. Louis
Napoleon was to destroy the Republic, and they were to destroy him, with
the aid of foreign armies. The fate which Cicero wished for Octavius,
that he should be elevated and then destroyed, was what they meant for
him. They counted upon the effect of that reaction which so soon set in
against the revolutions of 1848, and which they did not believe
would spare any government which had grown out of any one of those
revolutions. They also believed the Prince to be a fool, and thought
he would be a much easier person to be disposed of, after he had been
sufficiently used, than any one of his rivals. They overrated their own
power as much as they underrated his abilities; and down to the last
moment, and when the contest had become one for life or death, they bore
themselves as if they were sure that they were acting against a man who
had been elevated solely through the force of circumstances, and who
could not maintain his position. The _coup d'etat_ opened their eyes,
but it was not until the event of the Russian War had secured for the
Emperor the first place in Europe, that they became convinced that in
the man who was the ruler of France they had a master. Even now, when
the condition of every country within the circle of civilization bears
evidence to the vast weight of Imperial France, it is not difficult to
find Frenchmen who declare that the Emperor is a mere adventurer, and
that he is only "a lucky fellow." If they are right, what shall we think
of all France? Does the reign of Napoleon III. serve only to illustrate
the proverb, that among the blind the one-eyed man is a king?

The manner in which the French President became Emperor of the French
has been much criticized. That some of his deeds, at the close of 1851,
and in the early part of 1852, deserve censure, few of his intelligent
admirers will be disposed to deny. His defence is, that it was
impossible for him to act differently without forfeiting his life. The
contest, in 1851, had assumed such a character, that it was evident
that the one party or the other must be destroyed. We have M. Guizot's
authority for saying that in French political contests no quarter is
ever given, and that the vanquished become as the dead. French history
shows that there is no exaggeration in this statement, and that every
political leader in France must fight for his life as well as for his
post, the loss of the latter placing the former in great peril. This is
a characteristic of French politics to which sufficient attention has
not been paid, in discussing the morality of French statesmen. In
England, for many generations, and in the United States, down to the
decision of the last Presidential election, a constitutional opposition
was as much a political institution, and as completely a part of the
machinery of government, as the administration itself. Formerly,
opposition was not without its dangers in England, and, whichever party
had possession of the government, it sought to crush out its opponents
with all the vigor and venom of an American slavocrat. Charles I. sent
Sir John Eliot to the Tower, by way of punishing him for the opposition
he had made to unconstitutional government; and there he died, and there
he was buried. The execution of Strafford, though as just a deed as ever
was performed, must be allowed to have resulted from proceedings that
belong to French politics rather than to those of England since the
times of the Tudors. All through the reigns of the Stuart kings, and
down to the Revolution, parties fought for safety as well as for spoils.
A defeat was then often followed by a butchery. Hume, speaking of the
political warfare that happened just before the Revolution of 1688, says
that the "two parties, actuated by mutual rage, but cooped up within the
narrow limits of the law, levelled with poisoned daggers the most
deadly blows against each other's breast, and buried in their factious
divisions all regard to truth, honor, and humanity." This evil was
gradually, but surely, removed from English politics by the triumph of
the constitutional party. It lingered, however, for half a century, and
after the accession of the House of Hanover caused the impeachment of
Oxford and the exile of Bolingbroke and Ormond. The last pronounced
appearance of it was in 1742, when Sir Robert Walpole's enemies, not
content with his political fall, sought his life. They failed utterly,
and for one hundred and twenty years the course of English politics has
been strictly constitutional, an opposition party being, as it were, the
complement of the administration or ministry. The same party divisions
that existed in England under George II. substantially exist under the
grand-daughter of his grandson. So has it been in the United States,
though it would not be difficult to show that none of our parties have
been so free from approaching to the verge of illegality as English
parties have been since 1714; and the conduct of the present American
opposition is simply detestable, and has destroyed the national

The French began their political imitation of the English in 1789. As
in most imitations, caricature has largely predominated in it. The one
thing that might advantageously have been imitated they have altogether
neglected. They never have been able to comprehend the nature and the
purpose of an opposition party, and hence every such party that has come
into existence in France has been treated by the governing party as if
it were composed of enemies of the State. When the Jacobins sent the
Girondins to the scaffold, and when Robespierre and St. Just sent Danton
and Desmoulins to the same place, and when the Thermidorians so disposed
of Robespierre and St. Just, they did no more than has been done by
other French political leaders, except that their measures were more
trenchant than have been those of later statesmen of their country. The
reason why the Revolution led to a military despotism was, that no
party would tolerate its political foes, much less protect them in the
exercise of the right of free discussion and legal action. The execution
of Louis XVI. was but a solitary incident in the game that was played by
the most excitable political gamblers that ever converted a nation into
a card-table. He was slain, not so much because he was a king, or had
been one, as because he was the natural chief of the Royal party, a
party which the Republicans would not spare. Party after party rose and
fell, the leaders perishing under the guillotine, or flying from their
country, or being sent to Guiana. Despotism came as a relief to the
people who were thus tormented by the bloody freaks of men who were
energetic only as murderers. There probably never was a more popular
government than Bonaparte's Consulship, in its first days. Soon,
however, the old evil renewed itself in full force. A few men, the most
conspicuous of whom was Carnot, confined their opposition to the policy
of the government, and kept themselves within the limits of the law;
but others were less scrupulous, and labored for the destruction of the
government, and compassed the death of the governors. Jacobins were as
bad as Royalists, and Royalists were no better than Jacobins. Confusion
was as much the object of the party of order as it was that of the party
of disorder. Men of all ranks, opinions, parties, and conditions were
among the conspirators of those days, or in some way encouraged the
conspirators, from Cadoudal, a hero of the Vendee, to Moreau, the hero
of the Black Forest and Hohenlinden. The vigorous, and in some instances
tyrannical, action of the government put a stop to this kind of
opposition for some years. The seizure and execution of the Duc
d'Enghien, though in itself not to be approved, was followed by a
cessation of Royalist attempts against the person of the chief of the
State. It was one of those terrible lessons by which constituted power
sometimes teaches its enemies that the force of lawlessness is not
necessarily confined to one side in a political controversy. Nothing
contributed more to the establishment of the Empire than the violence
of Bonaparte's enemies, as they favored the plan of establishing an
hereditary monarchy, the existence of which should not be bound up with
the existence of an individual. During the reign of Napoleon I. the
opposition was quiet, but it was organized, and its conduct was from
first to last illegal, as it corresponded with the banished princes, and
with the foreign enemies of France. The Mallet affair, in 1812, which
came so very near effecting the Emperor's dethronement when he was in
the midst of his Russian disasters, shows how frail was his tenure
of power when he was absent from Paris, and how extensive were the
ramifications of the informal conspiracy that existed against him. "You
have found the tail, but not the head," were the words in which the
bold conspirator let his judges know that the danger was not over. The
Legislative Body endeavored to act as an opposition party in France
after the disasters of 1813, and the Emperor, after giving them a
lecture, dismissed them. The Allies would never have dared to cross
the French frontier, had they not been advised of the existence of
disaffection, which was ready to become treason, in their enemy's
country. The opposition to Louis XVIII.'s government was highly
treasonable in its character; and so was that which Napoleon encountered
during the Hundred Days. When the second Restoration had been effected,
the French government found itself in a strange predicament. The
extraordinary Chamber of Deputies which then met, "the Impracticable
Chamber," was so intensely royalist in its sentiments, that it alarmed
every reasonable friend of monarchy in Europe. It would have subjected
the king himself to its will, in order that it might be free to punish
the enemies of royalty with even more vigor and cruelty than the
Jacobins had punished its friends. There was to be a revival of the
Terror by the party which had suffered in 1793, and for the purpose of
exterminating imperialists, republicans, and moderate monarchists. Lord
Macaulay has compared this Chamber with the first English Parliament
that was called after the restoration of the House of Stuart. The
comparison is unfair to the Parliament. There had been a long and a
bitter war between parties in England, and the Cavaliers remembered,
because they were events of yesterday, the terrible series of defeats
they had experienced, from Edgehill to Worcester. Between the date of
the Battle of Worcester and the date of the Restoration there were less
than nine years. The same generation that saw Charles I. beheaded saw
Charles II. enter Whitehall. England had changed but little in the
twenty years that elapsed between the meeting of the Long Parliament and
the dissolution of the Convention Parliament. Very different was it in
France. There parties had had no fighting in the field, save in Brittany
and the Vendee. There the change had been as complete as if it had been
half a century in the making. Twenty-three years had passed away since
the fall of the monarchy, when the Impracticable Chamber met, to
legislate for a new France in the spirit of the worst period of the
reigns of the worst Bourbons. These ultra-royalists would have had their
way, and the massacres of the Protestants would have been accompanied or
followed by the destruction of all parties save the victors, but for the
existence of circumstances which it is even now painful for Frenchmen
to think of. The Allies occupied the country, and their influence was
thrown in behalf of moderate counsels. The good-nature of Louis XVIII.
was supported by the sound common-sense of Wellington, and by the
humanity of Alexander; and so but few persons were punished for
political offences. The conduct of the Chamber showed that the Deputies
had no just conception of the nature either of a ministry or of an
opposition. So it was, though with less violence, throughout the period
known as the Restoration; and the Polignac movement of 1830, which led
to the fall of the elder Bourbons, was a _coup d'etat_, the object being
the destruction of the Charter. In Louis Philippe's reign, there were
facts upon facts that establish the proposition that no French party
then clearly comprehended the character of a political opposition; and
it was the attempt of M. Guizot to prevent even the discussion of the
reform question that was the occasion, though not the cause, of the
Revolution of 1848. No sooner had the Republic been established than the
Royalists began to conspire against its existence, while the Republicans
themselves were far from being united, the _Reds_ hating the _Blues_
quite as intensely as they hated the _Whites_, or old Royalists; and
beyond even the _Reds_ were large numbers of men who, for the lack of a
more definite name, have been called Socialists, who wanted something as
vehemently as Brutus desired his purposes, but who would probably have
been much puzzled to say what that something was, had the question been
put to them by the agent of a power willing and able to gratify their

It was into such a political chaos as this that Louis Napoleon found
himself plunged in 1848. He had a difficult part to fill; and that he
did not succeed in satisfying most of those who had been most prominent
in elevating him was inevitable from the discrepancy between his views
of his position and their views of it. They had intended him to be a
tool, and he was determined to be master of all the land. There was a
contest for power, which ended in the _coup d'etat_ of 1851. Victory
waited on the heir of her old favorite. The contest was marked by many
deeds, on both sides, not defensible on strict moral grounds, but which
bear too close a resemblance to the ordinary course of French politics
to admit of the actors being sweepingly condemned, as if they had
poisoned a pure fountain. Neither party could afford to act with
fairness, because each party was convinced that the other was seeking
its destruction, according to the usual rule of Gallic political
warfare. That the world should have heard much of the errors of the
victor, while those of the vanquished have been charitably passed over,
is but natural. Victors become objects of envy, while pity is the
feeling that is created by thoughts of their foes. It is only in America
that the beaten party is so insolent that the conquerors are fairly
over-crowed by it. All the blunders, all the acts of violence of which
the other side were guilty, have been forgotten, or are not alluded
to, because parties are not held accountable for evils that never were
perpetrated, though it was intended that they should take form and shape
and bear fruit. It is charged against the Emperor, that he deliberately
planned the destruction of the Republic, and that he ceased not to
labor until his purpose had been effected. Admitting this charge to be
strictly well founded, what is it more than can be brought against the
very men who are so loud in preferring it? The Republic was doomed from
the hour of its birth, and the final struggle between the Imperialists
and the Royalists was made over its carcass. That struggle was neither a
Pharsalia, in which two great men contended for supremacy in a republic,
nor a Philippi, in which parties fought deliberately in support of
certain principles, but an Actium; and the question to be decided was,
With which of two energetic forms of force should the victory be? Louis
Napoleon contended for the imperial form, for the rehabilitation of the
scheme of his uncle, and for an opportunity to develop the Napoleonic
ideas. The other side sought the restoration of the monarchy as it had
been between 1814 and 1830, with Henry V. for their idol, as any attempt
to make the Comte de Paris king must have failed, though in due time
Henry V. might have been displaced, if not succeeded regularly, by the
head of the Orleans family. Of the two parties to the struggle that
followed the election of Louis Napoleon to the Presidency, that of the
President was the more friendly to liberal institutions, and the most
disposed to govern in accordance with modern sentiments. The President
himself was attached to the liberal party, and leaned decidedly to
the left wing of it. Circumstances had all tended to make him a
Constitutionalist. His connections had been principally with those
countries in which liberty is best understood, and whose histories are
the histories of freedom. By birth he was a prince of Holland. He had
lived much in Switzerland and in England, and he had visited the United
States. That part of his youth in which the mind is formed he had passed
in those years in which the Bonapartists and Liberals had been allies.
His writings prove that he both understood and appreciated the
constitutional system of government. Such a man was not likely to become
a despot merely from choice, though circumstances might make him one
for the time, as they made Fabius a dictator. His recent action, in
extensively liberalizing the imperial system, and in providing for
perfect freedom of discussion in the Senate and the Legislative Body,--a
freedom of which the supporters of the Pope have thoroughly availed
themselves,--confirms the belief that his original intention was to
provide a free constitution for France. Had he done so, there would
have been civil war in that country within a year from the time that he
became master of it. He could not trust his enemies, who, could they
have obtained power, would have granted him no mercy, and therefore had
no right to expect it from him. Had they been successful, we should have
heard much of their acts of usurpation and cruelty, and of the injustice
with which the President and his party and policy had been treated.
Severe criticism, often unfair both in matter and in manner, is that
which every victorious party must experience, not only from those whom
it has defeated, but from the world at large. This is one of the items
in the details of the heavy price which the victors must pay for their
victory, no matter where it is won, or what the character of the contest
the issue of which it has decided. Men worship success, but they worship
it much after the fashion that some savage tribes worship the gods
created by their own hands, tearing and rending at one time the images
that at another had been objects of their most abject devotion.

If we judge the conduct of Louis Napoleon by reference only to Napoleon
III., we shall not be inclined to condemn it. His rule has not been a
perfect one, but it has been the best that France has known for fifty
years, not only for the French themselves, but for foreign peoples. He
has lifted France out of that slough in which she had floundered under
both branches of the Bourbons, and he has done so without being guilty
of any act of injustice toward other nations. The greatness of the
France of Napoleon I. was unpleasingly associated with the idea of the
degradation of neighboring countries, which implied the ultimate fall of
the Empire, as it could not be expected that Russians and Germans would
be governed from Paris. Independence is what every people strong enough
to vindicate its rights will have; and hence the men at St. Petersburg
and Vienna and Berlin were certain to act against the men of Paris
at the first favorable opportunity that should present itself. Their
dependent state was an unnatural state, and when the reaction came, the
torrent swept all before it. The fall of Napoleon I. was the consequence
of the manner in which he rose to the greatest height ever achieved by
a man in modern days. Napoleon III., whose power is really greater than
that of his uncle, has incurred the enmity of no foreign people. He
has led his armies into no European capital city, and he has levied no
foreign contributions. When it was in his power to dictate terms to
Russia, he astonished men, and even made them angry, by the extent of
his moderation. His abrupt pause in his career of Italian success, no
matter what the motive of it, enabled Austria to retire from a war in
which she had found nothing but defeat, with the air of a victor. The
only additions he has made to the territory of France--Savoy, Nice, and
Monaco--were obtained by the fair consent of all those who had any right
to be consulted on the changes that were made. We find nothing in his
conduct that betrays any desire to humiliate his contemporaries, and a
superiority to vulgar ideas of what constitutes triumph that is
almost without a parallel. No man was ever treated more insolently by
hereditary sovereigns, from Czar and Kaiser and King to petty German
princelings; and this insolence he has never repaid in kind, nor sought
to repay in any manner. He has foregone occasions for vengeance that
legitimate monarchs would have turned to the fullest account for the
gratification of their hatred. He has, apparently, none of that vanity
which led Napoleon I. to be pleased with having his antechamber full of
kings whose hearts were brimful of hatred of their lord and master.
If he were to have an Erfurt Congress, it would be as plain and
unostentatious an affair as that of his uncle was superficially grand
and striking. He seems perpetually to have before his mind's eye what
the Greeks called _the envy of the gods_, the divine Nemesis, to which
he daily makes sacrifice. He is the most prosperous of men, but he is
determined not to be prosperity's spoiled child. If the truth were
known, it would probably be found that he has not a single personal
enemy among the monarchs, all of whom would, as politicians, be glad
to witness his fall. In their secret hearts they say that "Monsieur
Bonaparte is a well-behaved man, to whom they could wish well in any
other part than that which he prefers to hold." Their predecessors hated
Napoleon I. personally, and with intense bitterness, which accounts for
the readiness with which they took parts in the hunting of the eagle,
and for the rancor with which they treated him when his turn came to
drain the cup of humiliation to the very dregs. The dislike felt for
Napoleon III. is simply political, and such dislike is not incompatible
with liberality in judgment and generosity of action. Should it be his
fortune to fall, there would be no St. Helena provided for him.

The domestic rule of the Emperor of the French will bear comparison
with that of any monarch which that people have ever had. It is not
faultless, but it is as little open to criticism of a just nature as
that of any European sovereign, and with reference to the changed
position of sovereigns. We are not to compare Napoleon III. with Louis
XIV., that sublime and ridiculous egotist, who seems never to have had a
human feeling, except those feelings which humanity would be the better
without. The French Revolution banished that breed of kings from
Christendom, if not from the world. He must be compared with monarchs
who have felt the responsibilities of their trust very differently from
the man who called himself the State, who thought that twenty millions
of people had been made to minister to his vanity, and who gently
reproached God with ingratitude because of the victories of Eugene
and Marlborough. "God, it appears, is forgetting us," he said,
"notwithstanding all that we have done for Him." A monarch of this class
is now as extinct as the mammoth, and traces of his footsteps excite the
wonder of the disciples of political science. In these days, a monarch
must rule mostly for the people, and largely by the people. He is only
the popular chief in a country which has not a well-defined constitution
over which time has thrown the mantle of reverence. The course of
Napoleon III. has been in accordance with this view of his position. He
is not the State, but he is the first man in the State. Under his lead
and direction the French have known much material prosperity, and have
added not a little to that wealth which, when judiciously used as a
means, and not worshipped as the end of human exertion, is the source of
so much happiness. The readiness with which the people, the masses
of his subjects, subscribed to the great war-loans, contending for
subscriptions as for valuable privileges, establishes both their
prosperity under his government, and their confidence in that
government's strength and permanence. That he has not made use of his
power to stifle the expression of thought is clear from the numerous
works that have been published, some of which were written for the
purpose of attacking his dynasty,--authors of eminence choosing to
pervert history by converting its volumes into huge partisan pamphlets,
in which the subject handled and the object aimed at are alike libelled.
He has kept the press, meaning the journals, more sharply reined up than
Englishmen and Americans have approved or can approve; but as French
journalists, instead of confining their political warfare to its proper
use, are in the habit, when free to publish what they please, of
assailing the very existence of the government itself, he has some
excuse for his conduct. An English journal which should recommend the
dethronement of Victoria would be as summarily silenced as ever was
a French White, Blue, or Red paper. The most determined advocate of
freedom of discussion must find it hard to disapprove of the suppression
of the "Univers," which, while availing itself of every possible license
to advocate the extremest doctrines of despotism in Church and State,
demanded the suppression of freedom of all kinds in every other quarter.
It is an advantage to the enemies of free speech, that they can avail
themselves of its existence to advocate restriction in its comprehensive
sense, while their opponents cannot consistently demand that they shall
be silenced. Under the liberal policy which has just been inaugurated
in France, great advantages will be enjoyed by the enemies of the
government, and of free principles generally; and the Emperor is
reported to have said that he shall accept the logical consequences of
that policy, let the result be what it may. What has thus far happened
confirms this report; but it ought not to surprise us, if he should find
himself compelled to have resort to measures of restriction not much
different from those "warnings" that have been fatal to more than one
journal in times past. The tendency in the French mind to illegal
opposition, and of the French government to meet such opposition by
harsh action, will not allow us to be very sanguine as to the workings
of the experiment upon which the Emperor has entered. His chief object
is to establish his dynasty, and he cannot tolerate attacks upon that;
and attacks of that kind would form the staple of the opposition press,
were it permitted to become as free as the press is in England and in
the Northern States of America.

One of the charges that have been made against the Imperial system is,
that it is a stratocracy, a mere government by the sword, and that it
must pass away with the Emperor himself, or be continued in the person
of some military man; so that France must degenerate into a vast
Algiers, and be ruled by a succession of Deys. There is something
plausible in this view of the subject, which has imposed upon many
persons, and which is all the more imposing because the Emperor is
fifty-three years old, while his only son has but completed his fifth
year; and Prince Napoleon is not popular with the army, and is an object
of both fear and dislike to the members of several powerful interests.
The Imperialists have themselves principally to blame for this state of
things, as they have encouraged and promulgated opinions that favor
its existence. Clever historical writers have discovered a remarkable
resemblance between the France of to-day and the Roman Empire of the
days of Augustus. Napoleon I. was the modern Julius Caesar, and Napoleon
III. is Octavius. The Emperor is writing a Life of Julius Caesar, and it
is believed that it is his purpose to establish the fact that his family
is playing the part which the family of Caesar played more than eighteen
centuries ago. If one were disposed to be critical, it would not be
difficult to point out, that, as the first Roman imperial dynasty became
Claudian rather than Julian in its blood and character, after the death
of Augustus, so has the French imperial dynasty a better claim to be
considered of the family of Beauharnais than of the family of Bonaparte.
This Caesarian game is a foolish one, and may be played to an ultimate
loss. Of the difference between France as she is and Rome as she was in
the times of the first Caesars it is not necessary to say much, for
it presents itself to every cultivated mind. The Roman Empire was an
aggregation of various nations, including the highest and lowest forms
of human development then known, and stretching from the Atlantic to the
Euphrates, and from the forests of Germany to the deserts of Africa.
Over that vast and various collection of peoples a portion of Italy bore
sway; and it was to break down the tyranny of that Italian rule that the
Julian rule was created, and that the Republic was made to give way to
the Empire.

The cause of the Caesars was the cause of the provincials against the
Italians, of the masses in twenty lands against the aristocracy of but a
part of one land, of many millions of sheep against a few select wolves.
The revolution that was effected through the agency of Julius and
Octavius was necessary for the continuance of civilization, which
was threatened with extinction through the plundering processes of
proprietors and proconsuls. The Roman Emperor was the shepherd,
who, though he might shear his sheep close to their skins, and not
unfrequently convert many of them into mutton, for his own profit or
pleasure, would nevertheless protect them against the wolves. He stood
between the imperial race, of which he was himself the first member,
and all the other races that were to be found in his extensive and
diversified dominions. The question that he settled was one of races,
not merely one of parties and political principles. What resemblance,
then, can there be between the French Emperor and the Roman Imperator,
or between the quarrel decided by the Napoleons and that which was
decided by the first two Caesars? There may be said to be some
resemblance between them, from the fact that the French aristocracy, as
a body, belong to the party that is hostile to the Bonapartes, and
that it was the Roman aristocracy who were beaten at Pharsalia and
politically destroyed at Philippi; but the nobility of France were
ruined before the name of Bonaparte had been raised from obscurity, and
the first Napoleon sought to please and to conciliate the remnants of
that once brilliant order. There can be no comparison made between the
two aristocracies; as the Roman was one of the ablest and most ferocious
bodies of men that the world has ever seen, and made a long and
desperate fight for the maintenance of its power,--while the French is
effete, and it is difficult to believe that in the veins of its members
runs the blood of the heroes of the days of the League, or even that of
the _Frondeurs_. Their political action reminds us of nothing but the
playing of children; and the best of the leaders of the opposition to
the Imperial _regime_ are new men, most of whose names were never heard
of until the present century. The Imperial family, too, unlike that of
Rome, is a new family. The democratic revolution of Rome, which led
to the fall of the Republic, was enabled to triumph only because the
movement was headed by one of the noblest-born of Romans, a patrician of
the bluest blood, who claimed descent from Venus, and from the last
of the Trojan heroes. No Roman had a loftier lineage than "the mighty
Julius"; and when the place of Augustus passed to Tiberius, the third
Emperor represented the Claudian _gens_, the most arrogant, overbearing,
haughty, and cruel of all those patrician _gentes_ that figure in the
history of the republican times. He belonged, too, to the family of
Nero, which was to the rest of the Claudian _gens_ what that _gens_ was
to other men,--the representative of all that is peculiarly detestable
in an oligarchical fraternity. The French Caesars are emphatically
_novi homines_, the founder of their greatness not being in existence
a century ago, and born of a poor family, which had never made any
impression on history. There are abundant points of contrast to be
found, when we examine the origin of Imperial Rome in connection with
the origin of Imperial France, but few of resemblance.

Even in the bad elements of the modern Imperial rule there is little
imitation of that of the Caesars. "The ordinary notion of absolute
government, derived from the form it assumes in Europe at the present
day," says Merivale, "is that of a strict system of prevention, which,
by means of a powerful army, an ubiquitous police, and a censorship
of letters, anticipates every manifestation of freedom in thought or
action, from whence inconvenience may arise to it. But this was not the
system of the Caesarean Empire. Faithful to the traditions of the Free
State, Augustus had quartered all his armies on the frontiers, and his
successors were content with concentrating, cohort by cohort, a small,
though trusty force, for their own protection in the capital. The
legions were useful to the Emperor, not as instruments for the
repression of discontent at home, but as faithful auxiliaries among whom
the most dangerous of his nobles might be relegated, in posts which were
really no more than honorable exiles. Nor was the regular police of the
city an engine of tyranny. Volunteers might be found in every rank
to perform the duty of spies; but it was apparently no part of the
functions of the enlisted guardians of the streets to watch the
countenances of the citizens, or beset their privacy. We hear of no
intrusion into private assemblies, no dispersion of crowds in the
streets...... They [the Emperors] made no effort to impose restraints
upon thought. Freedom of thought may be checked in two ways, and modern
despotism resorts in its restless jealousy to both. The one is, to guide
ideas by seizing on the channels of education; the other, to subject
their utterance to the control of a censorship. In neither one way nor
the other did Augustus or Nero interfere at all. From the days of the
Republic the system of education had been perfectly untrammelled. It was
simply a matter of arrangement between the parties directly interested,
the teacher and the learner. Neither State nor Church pretended to take
any concern in it: neither priest nor magistrate regarded it with the
slightest jealousy. Public opinion ranged, under ordinary circumstances,
in perfect freedom, and under its unchecked influence both the aims and
methods of education continued long to be admirably adapted to make
intelligent men and useful citizens...... The same indulgence which
was extended to education smiled upon the literature which flowed so
copiously from it. There was no restriction upon writing or publication
at Rome analogous to our censorships and licensing acts. The fact that
books were copied by the hand, and not printed for general circulation,
seems to present no real difficulty to the enforcement of such
restrictions, had it been the wish of the government to enforce them.
The noble Roman, indeed, surrounded by freedmen and clients of various
ability, by rhetoricians and sophists, poets and declaimers, had within
his own doors private aid for executing his literary projects; and when
his work was compiled, he had in the slaves of his household the hands
for multiplying copies, for dressing and binding them, and sending forth
an edition, as we should say, of his work to the select public of his
own class or society. The circulation of compositions thus manipulated
might be to some extent surreptitious and secret. But such a mode of
proceeding was necessarily confined to few. The ordinary writer must
have had recourse to a professional publisher, who undertook, as a
tradesman, to present his work for profit to the world. Upon these
agents the government might have had all the hold it required: yet it
never demanded the sight beforehand of any speech, essay, or satire
which was advertised as about to appear. It was still content to punish
after publication what it deemed to be censurable excesses. Severe and
arbitrary as some of its proceedings were in this respect,... it must
be allowed that these prosecutions of written works were rare and
exceptional, and that the traces we discover of the freedom of letters,
even under the worst of the Emperors, leave on the whole a strong
impression of the general leniency of their policy in this
particular."[A] This correct picture of the policy of Imperial Rome on
this point shows that the ancient sovereigns of the first of empires
were more liberal than are modern rulers of their class, and that the
Caesars scorned to do that which has been common with the Bonapartes.
The changes in the direction of freedom which Napoleon III. has recently
made are really more Caesarean in their character than anything that he
had previously done in connection with thought and public discussion. It
ought to be added, however, that the Romans had no daily press, and that
journalism, as we understand it, was as unknown to the Caesars as were
steamships and rifled cannon. Had they been troubled with those daily
showers of Sibylline leaves that so vex modern potentates, their
magnanimity would have been severely tested, and they might have
established as severe censorships as ever have been known in Paris or

[Footnote A: _A History of the Romans under the Empire_. By CHARLES
MERIVALE, B.D., late Fellow of St. John's College, Cambridge. Vol. VI.,
pp. 224-231.]

Flattery has discovered a resemblance between the career of Napoleon
III. and the career of Augustus, and it required the eyes of flattery
to make such a discovery. The Frenchman is the equal of the Roman in
talent, but the resemblance goes no farther. What resemblance can there
be between the boy who became a statesman at twenty and the man who
began his career at forty? between the youth who made himself master of
the Roman situation in a few months and the elderly man whose position
at fifty-three is by no means an assured one? between the man who at
thirty-three had destroyed all rivals and competitors, and gathered into
his person all the powers of the State, and the man who at a much later
period of life is still engaged upon an experiment in politics? Augustus
avenged the murder of Julius within a brief time after it had been
perpetrated; Napoleon III. has never avenged the fall of _his_
uncle, but has refrained from injuring his uncle's destroyers, when,
apparently, he might have done so with profit to himself, and with the
general approbation of the world. Augustus's public life knew but one
signal calamity, the loss of the legions of Varus, which happened toward
its close, and in his dying moments he could congratulate himself on
having played well, which meant successfully, his part in the drama of
life. Napoleon III.'s life has been full of calamities, and it remains
yet to be seen whether history shall have to rank him among its
favorites, or high in the list of those unfortunates against whom it
has recorded sentence of everlasting condemnation. Should he live, and
maintain his place, and bequeath his throne to his son, and that son be
of an age to appreciate his position, and possessed of fair talent,
he may pass for the modern Augustus; but thinking of him, and of the
strange reverses of fortune that have happened since 1789 to men and to
nations, we subscribe to the wisdom of the hackneyed Greek sentiment,
that no man should be called fortunate until the seal of death shall
have placed an everlasting and an impassable barrier between him and the
cruel sports of Mutabilities which are played "to many men's decay."

In one respect it will be allowed by all but absolutists that the
condition of Europe has changed greatly for the better in the last
eleven years, as a consequence of the triumphs of the French Emperor.
From the year 1815 to 1850, national independence was in its true sense
unknown to Continental Europe. The ascendency of Napoleon I. had small
claim to faultlessness, but the men who led in the work of his overthrow
proceeded as if they meant to make the world regret his fall. This is
the secret--which secret is none--of the reaction that speedily took
place in his favor, and which caused an alliance of Liberals and
Jacobins and Imperialists to do honor to his memory; so that, being
dead, he was from his island-sepulchre a more effective foe to
legitimacy and the established order of things than he had been from St.
Cloud and the Tuileries. It has been satirically said that a mythical
Napoleon rose from the dust of the dead Emperor, who bore no moral
resemblance to Europe's master of 1812. As to the resemblance between
the master of a hundred legions and "the dead but sceptred sovereign" of
1824, who ruled men's spirits from his urn, we will not stop to inquire;
but it can be positively asserted that the mythical Napoleon, if any
such creation there was, was the work of the true Napoleon's destroyers.
They earned the hatred and detestation of the greater part of the better
classes in the civilized world; and as it is the nature of men to love
those who have warred against the objects of their hate, nothing was
more natural than for Europeans and Americans to turn fondly to the
memory of one who had beaten and trampled upon every member of the Holy
Alliance, and who had carried the tricolor, that emblem of revolution,
to Vienna and Berlin and Moscow. Men wished to have their own feet upon
the necks of Francis and Frederick William and Alexander, and therefore
they were ready to forget the faults, and to remember only the virtues,
of one who had enjoyed the luxury they so much coveted. It would be
unreasonable to complain of that disposition of the public mind toward
Napoleon I. which prevailed from about the date of his death to that of
the restoration of his dynasty in the person of his nephew, or to sneer
at the inconsistency of "that many-headed monster thing," the people,
who had shouted over the decisions of Vittoria and Leipsic, and before
a decade had expired were regretting that those decisions could not be
reversed; for the change was the consequence of the operations of an
immutable law, of that reaction which dogs the heels of all conquerors.
The legitimate despots, whose union had been too much for the parvenu
despot, established a tyranny over Europe that threatened to stunt the
human mind, and which would have left the world hopeless, if England
had not resolved to part company with her military allies. But her
condemnation of their policy did not prevent its development. Even the
events of 1830 did not restore national freedom to the Continent;
and fifteen years after the overthrow of the elder Bourbons, the
partitioners of Poland could unite, in defiance of their plighted faith,
to destroy the independence of Cracow, the last shadowy remnant of old
and glorious Poland. The ascendency of Napoleon III. has put a stop to
such proceedings as were common from the invasion of France, in 1815, to
the invasion of Hungary, in 1849. He has, to be sure, interfered in the
affairs of foreign countries, but his acts of interference have been
made against the strong, and not against the weak. He interfered to
protect Turkey when she was threatened with destruction by Russia, and
he did so with success. He interfered to protect the Italians against
the hordes of Austria, and with such effect that the _Kingdom of Italy_
has been called into existence through his action, when there was not
another sovereign in the world who would have fired a shot to prevent
the whole Italian Peninsula, and the great islands of Sicily and
Sardinia, from becoming Austrian provinces. He interfered to protect the
Christians of the East against the fire and sword of the Mussulmans, and
it is under the shadow of the French flag alone that Christianity can be
preached in the Lebanon and in the Hollow Syria, in the aged Damascus
and in the historical Sidon. He has interfered to assist England in
China, whereby there has been a new world, as it were, opened to the
enterprise of commerce. He has falsified the predictions of those who
have seen in him only the enemy of England, and who have told us twice
a year, for nine years past, that he would attempt to throw his legions
into Kent, and to march them upon London. He has added nothing to the
territory of France that has not been honorably acquired. Having thus
redeemed Europe from degradation, and not having justified the fears of
those who expected him to renew the old duel between France and
England, his continued prosperity may be earnestly desired by Liberals
everywhere, and with perfect consistency; for can any intelligent man
venture to say that there would be any hope for a better state of
things, either for France or for Europe at large, should his rule be
changed for that of either branch of the Bourbons, or for that of the
Republicans, Red or Blue? Considering the good that he has done, and the
evil that he might have done, and yet has refrained from doing, he will
compare advantageously with any living ruler; and mankind can overlook
his errors in view of his virtues,--save and except those men whom he
vanquished at their own weapons, and whose chief regret it is, that,
being no better political moralists than was the Prince-President, their
immorality was fruitless, while his, according to their interpretation
of his history, gave him empire. Other men, whom his success has not
consigned to partisan darkness, will judge him more justly, and say that
his victory was the proper meed of superior ability, and that whatever
was vicious in his manner of acquiring power has been redeemed by the
use he has almost invariably made of that power. He is not without sin;
but if he shall not die until he shall be stoned by saints selected from
governments and parties, his existence will be prolonged until doomsday.

* * * * *


You will see in a little while what sort of things they are which I
understand by _Things Slowly Learnt_. Some are facts, some are moral
truths, some are practical lessons; but the great characteristic of all
those which are to be thought of in this essay is, that we have to learn
them and act upon them in the face of a strong bias to think or act in
an opposite way. It is not that they are so difficult in themselves,
not that they are hard to be understood, or that they are supported by
arguments whose force is not apparent to every mind. On the contrary,
the things which I have especially in view are very simple, and for the
most part quite unquestionable. But the difficulty of learning them lies
in this: that, as regards them, the head seems to say one thing and the
heart another. We see plainly enough what we ought to think or to do;
but we feel an irresistible inclination to think or to do something
else. It is about three or four of these things that we are going, my
friend, to have a little quiet talk. We are going to confine our view
to a single class, though possibly the most important class, in the
innumerable multitude of Things Slowly Learnt.

The truth is, a great many things are slowly learnt. I have lately had
occasion to observe that the Alphabet is one of these. I remember,
too, in my own sorrowful experience, how the Multiplication Table was
another. A good many years since, an eminent dancing-master undertook
to teach a number of my schoolboy companions a graceful and easy
deportment; but comparatively few of us can be said as yet to have
thoroughly attained it. I know men who have been practising the art of
extempore speaking for many years, but who have reached no perfection in
it, and who, if one may judge from their confusion and hesitation
when they attempt to speak, are not likely ever to reach even decent
mediocrity in that wonderful accomplishment. Analogous statements might
be made, with truth, with regard to my friend Mr. Snarling's endeavors
to produce magazine articles; likewise concerning his attempts to skate,
and his efforts to ride on horseback unlike a tailor. Some folk learn
with remarkable slowness that Nature never intended them for wits. There
have been men who have punned, ever more and more wretchedly, to the end
of a long and highly respectable life. People submitted in silence to
the infliction; no one liked to inform those reputable individuals that
they had better cease to make fools of themselves. This, however, is
part of a larger subject, which shall be treated hereafter.

On the other hand, there are things which are very quickly
learnt,--which are learnt by a single lesson. One liberal tip, or even
a few kind words heartily said, to a manly little schoolboy, will
establish in his mind the rooted principle that the speaker of the words
or the bestower of the tip is a jolly and noble specimen of humankind.
Boys are great physiognomists: they read a man's nature at a glance.
Well I remember how, when going to and from school, a long journey of
four hundred miles, in days when such a journey implied travel by sea as
well as by land, I used to know instantly the gentlemen or the railway
officials to whom I might apply for advice or information. I think that
this intuitive perception of character is blunted in after years. A man
is often mistaken in his first impression of man or woman; a boy hardly
ever. And a boy not only knows at once whether a human being is amiable
or the reverse, he knows also whether the human being is wise or
foolish. In particular, he knows at once whether the human being always
means what he says, or says a great deal more than he means. Inferior
animals learn some lessons quickly. A dog once thrashed for some offence
knows quite well not to repeat it. A horse turns for the first time down
the avenue to a house where he is well fed and cared for; next week,
or next month, you pass that gate, and though the horse has been long
taught to submit his will to yours, you can easily see that he knows the
place again, and that he would like to go back to the stable with which,
in his poor, dull, narrow mind, there are pleasant associations. I
would give a good deal to know what a horse is thinking about. There is
something very curious and very touching about the limited intelligence
and the imperfect knowledge of that immaterial principle in which the
immaterial does not imply the immortal. And yet, if we are to rest
the doctrine of a future life in any degree upon the necessity of
compensation for the sufferings and injustice of the present, I think
the sight of the cab-horses of any large town might plead for the
admission of some quiet world of green grass and shady trees, where
there should be no cold, starvation, over-work, or flogging. Some one
has said that the most exquisite material scenery would look very
cold and dead in the entire absence of irrational life. Trees suggest
singing-birds; flowers and sunshine make us think of the drowsy bees.
And it is curious to think how the future worlds of various creeds are
described as not without their lowly population of animals inferior to
man. We know what the "poor Indian" expects shall bear him company in
his humble heaven; and possibly various readers may know some dogs who
in certain important respects are very superior to certain men. You
remember how, when a war-chief of the Western prairies was laid by
his tribe in his grave, his horse was led to the spot in the funeral
procession, and at the instant when the earth was cast upon the dead
warrior's dust, an arrow reached the noble creature's heart, that in the
land of souls the man should find his old friend again. And though it
has something of the grotesque, I think it has more of the pathetic, the
aged huntsman of Mr. Assheton Smith desiring to be buried by his master,
with two horses and a few couples of dogs, that they might all be ready
to start together when they met again far away.

This is a deviation; but that is of no consequence. It is of the essence
of the present writer's essays to deviate from the track. Only we must
not forget the thread of the discourse; and after our deviation we must
go back to it. All this came of our remarking that some things are
very quickly learnt; and that certain inferior classes of our
fellow-creatures learn them quickly. But deeper and larger lessons are
early learnt. Thoughtful children, a very few years old, have their own
theory of human nature. Before studying the metaphysicians, and indeed
while still imperfectly acquainted with their letters, young children
have glimpses of the inherent selfishness of humanity. I was recently
present when a small boy of three years old, together with his sister,
aged five, was brought down to the dining-room at the period of dessert.
The small boy climbed upon his mother's knee, and began by various
indications to display his affection for her. A stranger remarked what
an affectionate child he was. "Oh," said the little girl, "he suspects
(by which she meant _expects_) that he is going to get something to
eat!" Not Hobbes himself had reached a clearer perception or a firmer
belief of the selfish system in moral philosophy. "He is always very
affectionate," the youthful philosopher proceeded, "when he suspects he
is going to get something good to eat!"

By _Things Slowly Learnt_ I mean not merely things which are in their
nature such that it takes a long time to learn them,--such as the Greek
language, or the law of vendors and purchasers. These things indeed take
long time and much trouble to learn; but once you have learnt them, you
know them. Once you have come to understand the force of the second
aorist, you do not find your heart whispering to you, as you are lying
awake at night, that what the grammar says about the second aorist is
all nonsense; you do not feel an inveterate disposition, gaining force
day by day, to think concerning the second aorist just the opposite of
what the grammar says. By _Things Slowly Learnt_, I understand things
which it is very hard to learn at the first, because, strong as the
reasons which support them are, you find it so hard to make up your mind
to them. I understand things which you can quite easily (when it is
fairly put to you) see to be true, but which it seems as if it would
change the very world you live in to accept. I understand things you
discern to be true, but which you have all your life been accustomed to
think false, and which you are extremely anxious to think false. And by
_Things Slowly Learnt_ I understand things which are not merely very
hard to learn at the first, but which it is not enough to learn for once
ever so well. I understand things which, when you have made the bitter
effort and admitted to be true and certain, you put into your mind to
keep (so to speak); and hardly a day has passed, when a soft, quiet hand
seems to begin to crumble them down and to wear them away to nothing.
You write the principle which was so hard to receive upon the tablet of
your memory; and day by day a gentle hand comes over it with a bit of
india-rubber, till the inscription loses its clear sharpness, grows
blurred and indistinct, and finally quite disappears. Nor is the gentle
hand content even then; but it begins, very faintly at first, to trace
letters which bear a very different meaning. Then it deepens and darkens
them day by day, week by week, till at a month's or a year's end the
tablet of memory bears, in great, sharp, legible letters, just the
opposite thing to that which you had originally written down there.
These are my _Things Slowly Learnt_: things you learn at first in the
face of a strong bias against them; things, when once taught, you
gradually forget, till you come back again to your old way of thinking.
Such things, of course, lie within the realm to which extends the
influence of feeling and prejudice. They are things in the accepting of
which both head and heart are concerned. Once convince a man that two
and two make four, and he learns the truth without excitement, and
he never doubts it again. But prove to a man that he is of much less
importance than he has been accustomed to think,--or prove to a woman
that her children are very much like those of other folk,--or prove to
the inhabitant of a country parish that Britain has hundreds of parishes
which in soil and climate and production are just as good as his
own,--or prove to the great man of a little country town that there
are scores of towns in this world where the walks are as pleasant,
the streets as well paved, and the population as healthy and as well
conducted; and in each such case you will find it very hard to convince
the individual at the time, and you will find that in a very short space
the individual has succeeded in entirely escaping from the disagreeable
conviction. You may possibly find, if you endeavor to instil such belief
into minds of but moderate cultivation, that your arguments will be
met less by force of reason than by roaring of voice and excitement of
manner; you may find that the person you address will endeavor to change
the issue you are arguing, to other issues, wholly irrelevant, touching
your own antecedents, character, or even personal appearance; and you
may afterwards be informed by good-natured friends, that the upshot of
your discussion had been to leave on the mind of your acquaintance the
firm conviction that you yourself are intellectually a blockhead and
morally a villain. And even when dealing with human beings who have
reached that crowning result of a fine training, that they shall have
got beyond thinking a man their "enemy because he tells them the truth,"
you may find that you have rendered a service like that rendered by the
surgeon's amputating knife,--salutary, yet very painful,--and leaving
forever a sad association with your thought and your name. For among the
things we slowly learn are truths and lessons which it goes terribly
against the grain to learn at first, which must be driven into us time
after time, and which perhaps are never learnt completely.

One thing very slowly learnt by most human beings is, that they are
of no earthly consequence beyond a very small circle indeed, and
that really nobody is thinking or talking about them. Almost every
commonplace man and woman in this world has a vague, but deeply-rooted
belief that they are quite different from anybody else, and of course
quite superior to everybody else. It may be in only one respect they
fancy they are this, but that one respect is quite sufficient. I
believe, that, if a grocer or silk-mercer in a little town has a hundred
customers, each separate customer lives on under the impression that
the grocer or the silk-mercer is prepared to give to him or her certain
advantages in buying and selling which will not be accorded to the other
ninety-nine customers. "Say it is for Mrs. Brown," is Mrs. Brown's
direction to her servant, when sending for some sugar; "say it is for
Mrs. Brown, and he will give it a little better." The grocer, keenly
alive to the weaknesses of his fellow-creatures, encourages this notion.
"This tea," he says, "would be four-and-sixpence a pound _to any one
else_, but _to you_ it is only four-and-threepence." Judging from my own
observation, I should say that retail dealers trade a good deal upon
this singular fact in the constitution of the human mind, that it is
inexpressibly bitter to most people to believe that they stand on the
ordinary level of humanity,--that, in the main, they are just like their
neighbors. Mrs. Brown would be filled with unutterable wrath, if it were
represented to her that the grocer treats her precisely as he does Mrs.
Smith, who lives on one side of her, and Mrs. Snooks, who lives on the
other. She would be still more angry, if you asked her what earthly
reason there is why she should in any way be distinguished beyond Mrs.
Snooks and Mrs. Smith. She takes for granted she is quite different
from them, quite superior to them. Human beings do not like to be
classed,--at least, with the class to which in fact they belong. To be
classed at all is painful to an average mortal, who firmly believes
that there never was such a being in this world. I remember one of
the cleverest friends I have--one who assuredly cannot be classed
intellectually, except in a very small and elevated class--telling
me how mortified he was, when a very clever boy of sixteen, at being
classed at all. He had told a literary lady that he admired Tennyson.
"Yes," said the lady, "I am not surprised at that: there is a class of
young men who like Tennyson at your age." It went like a dart to my
friend's heart. _Class of young men_, indeed! Was it for _this_ that I
outstripped all competitors at school, that I have been fancying myself
a unique phenomenon in Nature, _different_ at least from every other
being that lives, that I should be spoken of as one of _a class of
young men_? Now in my friend's half-playful reminiscence I see the
exemplification of a great fact in human nature. Most human beings fancy
themselves, and all their belongings, to be quite different from all
other beings and the belongings of all other beings. I heard an old
lady, whose son is a rifleman, and just like all the other volunteers
of his corps, lately declare, that, on the occasion of a certain grand
review, her Tom looked so entirely different from all the rest. No doubt
he did to her, poor old lady,--for he was her own. But the irritating
thing was, that the old lady wished it to be admitted that Tom's
superiority was an actual fact, equally patent to the eyes of all
mankind. Yes, my friend: it is a thing very slowly learnt by most men,
that they are very much like other people. You see the principle which
underlies what you hear so often said by human beings, young and old,
when urging you to do something which it is against your general rule to
do. "Oh, but you might do it _for me_!" Why for you more than for any
one else? would be the answer of severe logic. But a kindly man would
not take that ground: for doubtless the _Me_, however little to every
one else, is to each unit in humankind the centre of all the world.

Arising out of this mistaken notion of their own difference from all
other men is the fancy entertained by many, that they occupy a much
greater space in the thoughts of others than they really do. Most folk
think mainly about themselves and their own affairs. Even a matter which
"everybody is talking about" is really talked about by each for a
very small portion of the twenty-four hours. And a name which is "in
everybody's mouth" is not in each separate mouth for more than a few

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