Part 2 out of 5
velvet-deep,--the placid waters all around, and at my side the man who
is to speak no more in public, but whose words in private have still the
old thrill, the old power to shake the heart and bring the good thoughts
uppermost. I put my hand in his, and we descended the companionway
together and left the foolish sailors to their play.
But now, on the after-deck, the captain, much entreated, and in no wise
unwilling, takes down his violin, and with pleasant touch gives us the
dear old airs, "Home, Sweet Home," "Annie Laurie," and so on, and we
accompany him with voices toned down by the quiet of the scene around.
He plays, too, with a musing look, the merry tune to which his little
daughter dances, in the English dancing-school, hundreds of leagues
away. Good-night, at last, and make the most of it. Coolness and quiet
on the water to-night, and heat and mosquitoes, howling of dogs and
chattering of negroes tomorrow night, in Havana.
The next morning allowed us to accomplish our transit to the desired
land of Havana. We pass the custom-house, where an official in a cage,
with eyes of most oily sweetness, and tongue, no doubt, to match,
pockets our gold, and imparts in return a governmental permission to
inhabit the Island of Cuba for the space of one calendar month. We go
trailing through the market, where we buy peeled oranges, and through
the streets, where we eat them, seen and recognized afar as Yankees by
our hats, bonnets, and other features. We stop at the Cafe Dominica, and
refresh with coffee and buttered rolls, for we have still a drive of
three miles to accomplish before breakfast. All the hotels in Havana are
full, and more than full. Woolcut, of the Cerro, three miles from the
gates, is the only landlord who will take us in; so he seizes us fairly
by the neck, bundles us into an omnibus, swears that his hotel is but
two miles distant, smiles archly when we find the two miles long, brings
us where he wants to have us, the Spaniards in the omnibus puffing and
staring at the ladies all the way. Finally, we arrive at his hotel, glad
to be somewhere, but hot, tired, hungry, and not in raptures with our
first experience of tropical life.
It must be confessed that our long-tried energies fall somewhat flat on
the quiet of Woolcut's. We look round, and behold one long room with
marble floor, with two large doors, not windows, opening in front upon
the piazza and the street, and other openings into a large court behind,
surrounded by small, dark bedrooms. The large room is furnished with two
dilapidated cane sofas, a few chairs, a small table, and three or four
indifferent prints, which we have ample time to study. For company, we
see a stray New York or Philadelphia family, a superannuated Mexican who
smiles and bows to everybody, and some dozen of those undistinguishable
individuals whom we class together as Yankees, and who, taking the map
from Maine to Georgia, might as well come from one place as another, the
Southerner being as like the Northerner as a dried pea is to a green
pea. The ladies begin to hang their heads, and question a little:--"What
are we to do here? and where is the perfectly delightful Havana you told
us of?" Answer:--"There is nothing whatever to do here, at this hour
of the day, but to undress and go to sleep;--the heat will not let you
stir, the glare will not let you write or read. Go to bed; dinner is at
four; and after that, we will make an effort to find the Havana of the
poetical and Gan Eden people, praying Heaven it may not have its only
existence in their brains."
Still, the pretty ones do not brighten; they walk up and down, eyeing
askance the quiet boarders who look so contented over their children and
worsted-work, and wondering in what part of the world they have taken
the precaution to leave their souls. Unpacking is then begun, with
rather a flinging of the things about, interspersed with little peppery
hints as to discomfort and dulness, and dejected stage-sighs, intended
for hearing. But this cannot go on,--the thermometer is at 78 degrees
in the shade,--an intense and contagious stillness reigns through the
house,--some good genius waves a bunch of poppies near those little
fretful faces, for which a frown is rather heavy artillery. The balmy
breath of sleep blows off the lightly-traced furrows, and, after a
dreamy hour or two, all is bright, smooth, and freshly dressed, as a
husband could wish it. The dinner proves not intolerable, and after it
we sit on the piazza. A refreshing breeze springs up, and presently the
tide of the afternoon drive sets in from the city. The _volantes_ dash
by, with silver-studded harnesses, and postilions black and booted;
within sit the pretty Senoritas, in twos and threes. They are attired
mostly in muslins, with bare necks and arms; bonnets they know
not,--their heads are dressed with flowers, or with jewelled pins. Their
faces are whitened, we know, with powder, but in the distance the effect
is pleasing. Their dark eyes are vigilant; they know a lover when they
see him. But there is no twilight in these parts, and the curtain of the
dark falls upon the scene as suddenly as the screen of the theatre upon
the _denouement_ of the tragedy. Then comes a cup of truly infernal tea,
the mastication of a stale roll, with butter, also stale,--then,
more sitting on the piazza,--then, retirement, and a wild hunt after
mosquitoes,--and so ends the first day at Woolcut's, on the Cerro.
HAVANA. THE HOTELS.
"Shall I not take mine ease in mine inn?" Yes, truly, if you can get it,
Jack Falstaff; but it is one thing to pay for comfort, and another thing
to have it. You certainly pay for it, in Havana; for the $3 or $3.50
_per diem_, which is your simplest hotel-charge there, should, in any
civilized part of the world, give you a creditable apartment, clean
linen, and all reasonable diet. What it does give, the travelling public
may like to learn.
Can Grande has left Woolcut's. The first dinner did not please him,--the
cup of tea, with only bread, exasperated,--and the second breakfast,
greasy, peppery, and incongruous, finished his disgust; so he asked for
his bill, packed his trunk, called the hotel detestable, and went.
Now he was right enough in this; the house is detestable;--but as all
houses of entertainment throughout the country are about equally so,
it is scarcely fair to complain of one. I shall not fear to be more
inclusive in my statement, and to affirm that in no part of the world
does one get so little comfort for so much money as on the Island of
Cuba. To wit: an early cup of black coffee, oftenest very bad; bread not
to be had without an extra sputtering of Spanish, and darkening of the
countenance;--to wit, a breakfast between nine and ten, invariably
consisting of fish, rice, beefsteak, fried plantains, salt cod with
tomatoes, stewed tripe and onions, indifferent claret, and an after-cup
of coffee or green tea;--to wit, a dinner at three or four, of which
the inventory varieth not,--to wit, a plate of soup, roast beef, tough
turkeys and chickens, tolerable ham, nameless stews, cajota, plantains,
salad, sweet potatoes; and for dessert, a spoonful each of West India
preserve,--invariably the kind you do not like,--oranges, bananas, and
another cup of coffee;--to wit, tea of the sort already described;--to
wit, attendance and non-attendance of negro and half-breed waiters, who
mostly speak no English, and neither know nor care what you want;--to
wit, a room whose windows, reaching from floor to ceiling, inclose no
glass, and are defended from the public by iron rails, and from the
outer air, at desire, by clumsy wooden shutters, which are closed only
when it rains;--to wit, a bed with a mosquito-netting;--to wit, a towel
and a pint of water, for all ablutions. This is the sum of your comforts
as to quantity; but as to their quality, experience alone can enlighten
Taking pity on my exile at the Cerro, Can Grande and his party invite
me to come and spend a day at their hotel, of higher reputation, and
situated in the centre of things. I go;--the breakfast, to my surprise,
is just like Woolcut's; the dinner _idem_, but rather harder to get;
preserves for tea, and two towels daily, instead of one, seem to
constitute the chief advantages of this establishment. Domestic linens,
too, are fairer than elsewhere; but when you have got your ideas of
cleanliness down to the Cuban standard, a shade or two either way makes
no material difference.
Can Grande comes and goes; for stay in the hotel, behind those
prison-gratings, he cannot. He goes to the market and comes back, goes
to the Jesuit College and comes back, goes to the banker's and gets
money. In his encounters with the sun he is like a prize-fighter coming
up to time. Every round finds him weaker and weaker, still his pluck is
first-rate, and he goes at it again. It is not until three, P.M., that
he wrings out his dripping pocket-handkerchief, slouches his hat over
his brows, and gives in as dead-beat.
They of the lovely sex, meanwhile, undergo, with what patience they may,
an Oriental imprisonment. In the public street they must on no account
set foot. The Creole and Spanish women are born and bred to this, and
the hardiest American or English woman will scarcely venture out a
second time without the severe escort of husband or brother. These
relatives are, accordingly, in great demand. In the thrifty North, man
is considered an incumbrance from breakfast to dinner,--and the sooner
he is fed and got out of the way in the morning, the better the work
of the household goes on. If the master of the house return at an
unseasonable hour, he is held to an excuse, and must prove a headache,
or other suitable indisposition. In Havana, on the contrary, the
American woman suddenly becomes very fond of her husband:--"he must not
leave her at home alone; where does he go? she will go with him; when
will he come back? remember, now, she will expect him." The secret of
all this is, that she cannot go out without him. The other angel of
deliverance is the _volante_, with its tireless horses and _calesero_,
who seems fitted and screwed to the saddle, which he never leaves. He
does not even turn his head for orders. His senses are in the back of
his head, or wherever his mistress pleases. "_Jose, calle de la muralla,
esquina a los oficios_,"--and the black machine moves on, without look,
word, or sign of intelligence. In New York, your Irish coachman grins
approval of your order; and even an English flunkey may touch his hat
and say, "Yes, Mum." But in the Cuban negro of service, dumbness is the
complement of darkness;--you speak, and the patient right hand pulls the
strap that leads the off horse, while the other gathers up the reins of
the nigh, and the horses, their tails tightly braided and deprived of
all movement, seem as mechanical as the driver. Happy are the ladies
at the hotel who have a perpetual _volante_ at their service! for they
dress in their best clothes three times a day, and do not soil them by
contact with the dusty street. They drive before breakfast, and shop
before dinner, and after dinner go to flirt their fans and refresh their
robes on the Paseo, where the fashions drive. At twilight, they stop at
friendly doors and pay visits, or at the entrance of the _cafe_, where
ices are brought out to them. At eight o'clock they go to the Plaza, and
hear the band play, sitting in the _volante_; and at ten they come home,
without fatigue, having all day taken excellent care of number one,
beyond which their arithmetic does not extend. "I and my _volante_" is
like Cardinal Wolsey's "_Ego et Rex meus_."
As for those who have no _volantes_, modesty becomes them, and quietness
of dress and demeanor. They get a little walk before breakfast, and stay
at home all day, or ride in an omnibus, which is perhaps worse;--they
pay a visit now and then in a hired carriage, the bargain being made
with difficulty;--they look a good deal through the bars of the
windows, and remember the free North, and would, perhaps, envy the
_volante_-commanding women, did not dreadful Moses forbid.
One alleviation of the tedium of hotel-life in the city is the almost
daily visit of the young man from the dry-goods' shop, who brings
samples of lawns, misses' linen dresses, pina handkerchiefs, and fans of
all prices, from two to seventy-five dollars. The ladies cluster like
bees around these flowery goods, and, after some hours of bargaining,
disputing, and purchasing, the vendor pockets the golden honey, and
marches off. As dress-makers in Havana are scarce, dear, and bad, our
fair friends at the hotel make up these dresses mostly themselves, and
astonish their little world every day by appearing in new attire. "How
extravagant!" you say. They reply, "Oh! it cost nothing for the making;
I made it myself." But we remember to have heard somewhere that "Time
is Money." At four in the afternoon, a negress visits in turn
every bedroom, sweeps out the mosquitoes from the curtains with a
feather-brush, and lets down the mosquito-net, which she tucks in around
the bed. After this, do not meddle with your bed until it is time to get
into it; then put the light away, open the net cautiously, enter with a
dexterous swing, and close up immediately, leaving no smallest opening
to help them after. In this mosquito-net you live, move, and have your
being until morning; and should you venture to pull it aside, even for
an hour, you will appall your friends, next morning, with a face which
suggests the early stages of small-pox, or the spotted fever.
The valuable information I have now communicated is the sum of what I
learned in that one day at Mrs. Almy's; and though our party speedily
removed thither, I doubt whether I shall be able to add to it anything
HAVANA. YOUR BANKER. OUR CONSUL. THE FRIENDLY CUP OF TEA.
One is apt to arrive in Havana with a heart elated by the prospect of
such kindnesses and hospitalities as are poetically supposed to be
the perquisite of travellers. You count over your letters as so many
treasures; you regard the unknown houses you pass as places of deposit
for the new acquaintances and delightful friendships which await you.
In England, say you, each of these letters would represent a pleasant
family-mansion thrown open to your view,--a social breakfast,--a dinner
of London wits,--a box at the opera,--or the visit of a lord, whose
perfect carriage and livery astonish the quiet street in which you
lodge, and whose good taste and good manners should, one thinks, prove
contagious, at once soothing and shaming the fretful Yankee conceit. But
your Cuban letters, like fairy money, soon turn to withered leaves in
your possession, and, having delivered two or three of them, you employ
the others more advantageously, as shaving-paper, or for the lighting of
cigars, or any other useful purpose.
Your banker, of course, stands first upon the list,--and to him
accordingly, with a beaming countenance, you present yourself. For him
you have a special letter of recommendation, and, however others may
fail, you consider him as sure as the trump of the deal at whist.
But why, alas, should people, who have gone through the necessary
disappointments of life, prepare for themselves others, which may be
avoided? Listen and learn. At the first visit, your banker is tolerably
glad to see you,--he discounts your modest letter of credit, and pockets
his two and a half _per cent._ with the best grace imaginable. If he
wishes to be very civil, he offers you a seat, offers you a cigar, and
mumbles in an indistinct tone that he will be happy to serve you in any
way. You call again and again, keeping yourself before his favorable
remembrance,--always the same seat, the same cigar, the same desire to
serve you, carefully repressed, and prevented from breaking out into any
overt demonstration of good-will. At last, emboldened by the brilliant
accounts of former tourists and the successes of your friends, you
suggest that you would like to see a plantation,--you only ask for
one,--would he give you a letter, etc., etc.? He assumes an abstracted
air, wonders if he knows anybody who has a plantation,--the fact being
that he scarcely knows any one who has not one. Finally, he will
try,--call again, and he will let you know. You call again,--"Next
week," he says. You call after that interval,--"Next week," again, is
all you get. Now, if you are a thoroughbred man, you can afford to
quarrel with your banker; so you say, "Next week,--why not next
year?"--make a very decided snatch at your hat, and wish him a very long
"good-morning." But if you are a snob, and afraid, you take his neglect
quietly enough, and will boast, when you go home, of his polite
attentions to yourself and family, when on the Island of Cuba.
_Our Consul_ is the next post in the weary journey of your hopes, and
to him, with such assurance as you have left, you now betake yourself.
Touching him personally I have nothing to say. I will only remark, in
general, that the traveller who can find, in any part of the world, an
American Consul not disabled from all service by ill-health, want of
means, ignorance of foreign languages, or unpleasant relations with the
representatives of foreign powers,--that traveller, we say, should go in
search of the sea-serpent, and the passage of the North Pole, for he
has proved himself able to find what, to every one but him, is
But who, setting these aside, is to show you any attention? Who will
lift you from the wayside, and set you upon his own horse, or in his
own _volante_, pouring oil and wine upon your wounded feelings? Ah! the
breed of the good Samaritan is never allowed to become extinct in this
world, where so much is left for it to do.
A kind and hospitable American family, long resident in Havana, takes us
up at last. They call upon us, and we lift up our heads a little; they
take us out in their carriage, and we step in with a little familiar
flounce, intended to show that we are used to such things; finally, they
invite us to a friendly cup of tea,--all the hotel knows it,--we have
tarried at home in the shade long enough. Now, people have begun to find
us out,--_we are going out to tea!_
How pleasant the tea-table was! how good the tea! how more than good
the bread-and-butter and plum-cake! how quaint the house of Spanish
construction, all open to the air, adorned with flowers like, a temple,
fresh and fragrant, and with no weary upholstery to sit heavy on
the sight! how genial and prolonged the talk! how reluctant the
separation!--imagine it, ye who sing the songs of home in a strange
land. And ye who cannot imagine, forego the pleasure, for I shall tell
you no more about it. I will not, I, give names, to make good-natured
people regret the hospitality they have afforded. If they have
entertained unawares angels and correspondents of the press, (I use the
two terms as synonymous,) they shall not be made aware of it by the
sacrifice of their domestic privacy. All celebrated people do this, and
that we do it not answers for our obscurity.
The cup of tea proves the precursor of many kind services and pleasant
hours. Our new friends assist us to a deal of sight-seeing, and
introduce us to cathedral, college, and garden. We walk out with them
at sunrise and at sunset, and sit under the stately trees, and think it
almost strange to be at home with people of our own race and our own way
of thinking, so far from the home-surroundings. For the gardens, they
may chiefly be described as triumphs of Nature over Art,--our New
England horticulture being, on the contrary, the triumph of Art over
Nature, after a hard-fought battle. Here, the avenues of palm and cocoa
are magnificent, and the flowers new to us, and very brilliant. But
pruning and weeding out are hard tasks for Creole natures, with only
negroes to help them. There is for the most part a great overgrowth
and overrunning of the least desirable elements, a general air of
slovenliness and unthrift; in all artificial arrangements decay seems
imminent, and the want of idea in the laying out of grounds is a
striking feature. In Italian villas, the feeling of the Beautiful, which
has produced a race of artists, is everywhere manifest,--everywhere are
beautiful forms and picturesque effects. Even the ruins of Rome seem to
be held together by this fine bond. No stone dares to drop, no arch to
moulder, but with an exquisite and touching grace. And the weeds, oh!
the weeds that hung their little pennon on the Coliseum, how graciously
do they float, as if they said,--"Breathe softly, lest this crumbling
vision of the Past go down before the rude touch of the modern world!"
And so, one treads lightly, and speaks in hushed accents; lest, in the
brilliant Southern noon, one should wake the sleeping heart of Rome to
the agony of her slow extinction.
But what is all this? We are dreaming of Rome,--and this is Cuba, where
the spirit of Art has never been, and where it could not pass without
sweeping out from houses, churches, gardens, and brains, such trash as
has rarely been seen and endured elsewhere. They show us, for example,
some mutilated statues in the ruins of what is called the Bishop's
Garden. Why, the elements did a righteous work, when they effaced the
outlines of these coarse and trivial shapes, unworthy even the poor
marble on which they were imposed. Turning from these, however, we
find lovely things enough to rebuke this savage mood of criticism. The
palm-trees are unapproachable in beauty,--they stand in rows like Ionic
columns, straight, strong, and regular, with their plumed capitals. They
talk solemnly of the Pyramids and the Desert, whose legends have been
whispered to them by the winds that cross the ocean, freighted with the
thoughts of God. Then, these huge white lilies, deep as goblets, which
one drinks fragrance from, and never exhausts,--these thousand unknown
jewels of the tropic. Here is a large tank, whose waters are covered
with the leaves and flowers of beautiful aquatic plants, whose Latin
names are of no possible consequence to anybody. Here, in the very heart
of the garden, is a rustic lodge, curtained with trailing vines. Birds
in cages are hung about it, and a sweet voice, singing within, tells us
that the lodge is the cage of a more costly bird. We stop to listen,
and the branches of the trees seem to droop more closely about us, the
twilight lays its cool, soft touch upon our heated foreheads, and we
whisper,--"Peace to his soul!" as we leave the precincts of the Bishop's
SOME INEDITED MEMORIALS OF SMOLLETT.
A hundred years and upwards have elapsed since Fielding and Smollett,
the fathers and chiefs of the modern school of English novel-writing,
fairly established their claims to the dignified eminence they have ever
since continued to enjoy; and the passage of time serves but to confirm
them in their merited honors. Their pictures of life and manners are no
longer, it is true, so familiar as in their own days to the great mass
of readers; but this is an incident that scarce any author can hope to
avert. The changes of habits and customs, and the succession of writers
who in their turn essay to hold the mirror up to Nature, must always
produce such a result. But while the mind of man is capable of enjoying
the most fortunate combinations of genius and fancy, the most faithful
expositions of the springs of action, the most ludicrous and the most
pathetic representations of human conduct, the writings of Fielding and
Smollett will be read and their memories kept green. Undeterred by those
coarsenesses of language and occasional grossnesses of detail (which
were often less their own fault than that of the age) that frequently
disfigure the pages of "Amelia" and "Roderick Random," men will always
be found to yield their whole attention to the story, and to recognize
in every line the touches of the master's hand.
Were any needed, stronger proof of the truth of this proposition could
not be given than is afforded by the zeal with which the greatest
novelists since their day have turned aside to contemplate and to
chronicle the career of this immortal pair, whose names, notwithstanding
the dissimilarity of genius and style, seem destined to be as eternally
coupled together as those of the twin sons of Leda. To the rescue
from oblivion of their personal histories, a host of biographers have
appeared, scattered over the whole period that has elapsed since their
deaths to the present time. The first life that appeared of Tobias
George Smollett came from the hands of his friend and companion, the
celebrated Dr. Moore, himself a novel-writer of no mean fame. To him
succeeded Anderson; who in turn was followed by Sir Walter Scott, the
fruits of whose unrivalled capacity for obtaining information are before
the world in the form of a most delightful memoir. So that when
Roscoe, at a later date, took up the same theme, he found that the
investigations of his predecessors had left him little more to do than
to make selections or abridgments, and to arrange what new matter he
had come into possession of. One would have thought that with all these
labors the public appetite should have been satisfied,--that everything
apt to be heard with interest of and about Smollett had been said. So
far from this being the case, however, it was but a few years ago, that,
as we all recollect, the brilliant pen of Thackeray was brought to bear
on the same subject, and the great humorist of this generation employed
his talents worthily in illustrating the genius of a past age.
"'Humphrey Clinker,'" says he, "is, I do believe, the most laughable
story that has ever been written since the goodly art of novel-writing
began." This is strong praise, though but of a single book; yet it falls
short of the general estimate that Walter Scott formed of the capacity
of our author. "We readily grant to Smollett," he says, "an equal rank
with his great rival, Fielding, while we place both far above any of
their successors in the same line of fictitious composition."
After the testimonies we have cited, it would be useless to seek other
approbation of Smollett's merits.
"From higher judgment-seats make no appeal
Yet, with all his imaginative power and humorous perception, it cannot
be gainsaid that there was a great lack of delicacy in the composition
of his mind,--a deficiency which, even in his own days, gave just
offence to readers of the best taste, and which he himself was sometimes
so candid as to acknowledge and to correct. Its existence is too often
a sufficient cause to deter any but minds of a certain masculine vigor
from the perusal of such a work as "Roderick Random"; and yet this work
was an especial favorite with the most refined portion of the public in
the latter half of the last century. Burke delighted in it, and would
no doubt often read from it aloud to the circle of guests of both sexes
that gathered about him at Beaconsfield; and Elia makes his imaginary
aunt refer to the pleasure with which in her younger days she had read
the story of that unfortunate young nobleman whose adventures make such
a figure in "Peregrine Pickle." So great is the change in the habit of
thought and expression in less than half a century, that we believe
there is not in all America a gentleman who would now venture to read
either of these works aloud to a fireside group. Smollett's Muse was
free enough herself; in all conscience;--
"High-kirtled was she,
As she gaed o'er the lea";--
but in "Peregrine Pickle," beside the natural incidents, there are two
long episodes foisted upon the story, neither of which has any lawful
connection with the matter in hand, and one of which, indelicate and
indecent in the extreme, does not appear to have even been of his
own composition. Reference is here made to the "Memoirs of a Lady of
Quality," and to the passages respecting young Annesley; and since
biographers do not seem to have touched especially on the manner of
their introduction into the novel, we will give a word or two to this
John Taylor, in the Records of his Life, states that the memoirs of Lady
Vane, as they appear in "Peregrine Pickle," were actually written by
an Irish gentleman of wealth, a Mr. Denis McKerchier, who at the time
entertained relations with that abandoned, shameless woman; so that, if,
as was probably the case, she paid Smollett a sum of money to procure
their incorporation in his pages, there could have been no other motive
to actuate her conduct than a desire to blazon her own fall or to
mortify the feelings of her husband. The latter is the more likely
alternative, if we are to believe that Lord Vane himself stooped to
employ Dr. Hill to prepare a history of Lady Frail, by way of retorting
the affront he had received. This Mr. McKerchier in season broke with
her Ladyship, and refused her admission to his dying bedside; but, in
the mean time, his Memoirs had gone out to the world, and had greatly
conduced to the popularity and sale of Smollett's novel. He was also the
patron of Annesley, that unfortunate young nobleman whose romantic
life has furnished Godwin and Scott with a foundation for their most
highly-wrought novels; and it was, we may judge, from his own lips that
Smollett received the narrative of his _protege_'s adventures. Whatever
we may think, however, of the introduction of scenes that were of
sufficient importance to suggest such books as "Cloudesley" and "Guy
Mannering," there can be but one opinion as to the bad taste which
governed Smollett, when he consented to overload "Peregrine Pickle"
with Lady Vane's memoirs; and if lucre were indeed at the bottom of the
business, it assumes a yet graver aspect.
But the business of this article is not to dwell upon matters that are
already in print, and to which the general reader can have easy access.
To such as are desirous of obtaining a full account of the life and
genius of Smollett, prepared with all the aids that are to be derived
from a thorough knowledge of the question, we would suggest the perusal
of an exceedingly well-written article in the London Quarterly Review
for January, 1858; and we will here heartily express a regret that the
unpublished materials which have found a place in this magazine could
not have been in the hands of the author of that paper. It is certain he
would have made a good use of them. As it is, however, they will perhaps
possess an additional interest to the public from the fact that they
have never before seen the light.
It is something, says Washington Irving, to have seen the dust of
Shakspeare. It is assuredly not less true that one can hardly examine
without a peculiar emotion the private letters of such a man as
Smollett. A strange sensation accompanies the unfolding of the faded
sheets, that have hardly been disturbed during the greater part of a
century. And as one at least of the documents in question is of an
almost autobiographical character, its tattered folds at once assume a
value to the literary student far beyond the usual scope of an inedited
The first letter to which we shall call attention was written by
Smollett in 1763. It was in reply to one from Richard Smith, Esq., of
Burlington, New Jersey, by whose family it has been carefully preserved,
together with a copy of the letter which called it forth. Mr. Smith was
a highly respectable man, and in later years, when the Revolution broke
out, a delegate from his Province to the first and second Continental
Congress. He had written to Smollett, expressing his hopes that the
King had gratified with a pension the author of "Peregrine Pickle" and
"Roderick Random," and asking under what circumstances these books were
composed, and whether they contained any traces of his correspondent's
real adventures. He adverts to a report that, in the case of "Sir
Launcelot Greaves," Smollett had merely lent his name to "a mercenary
bookseller." "The Voyages which go under your name Mr. Rivington (whom
I consulted on the matter) tells me are only nominally your's, or, at
least, were chiefly collected by understrappers. Mr. Rivington also
gives me such an account of the shortness of time in which you wrote
the History, as is hardly credible." A list of Smollett's genuine
publications is also requested.
The Mr. Rivington referred to in the foregoing extract was probably the
well-known New York bookseller, whose press was so obnoxious to the
Whigs a few years later. To the letter itself Smollett thus replied:--
DR. SMOLLETT TO MR. SMITH.
"Sir,--I am favoured with your's of the 26th of February, and cannot
but be pleased to find myself, as a writer, so high in your esteem. The
curiosity you express, with regard to the particulars of my life and
the variety of situations in which I may have been, cannot be gratified
within the compass of a letter. Besides, there are some particulars of
my life which it would ill become me to relate. The only similitude
between the circumstances of my own fortune and those I have attributed
to Roderick Random consists in my being born of a reputable family in
Scotland, in my being bred a surgeon, and having served as a surgeon's
mate on board a man-of-war during the expedition to Carthagena. The low
situations in which I have exhibited Roderick I never experienced in my
own person. I married very young, a native of Jamaica, a young lady well
known and universally respected under the name of Miss Nancy Lassells,
and by her I enjoy a comfortable, tho' moderate estate in that island. I
practised surgery in London, after having improved myself by travelling
in France and other foreign countries, till the year 1749, when I took
my degree of Doctor in Medicine, and have lived ever since in Chelsea (I
hope) with credit and reputation.
"No man knows better than Mr. Rivington what time I employed in writing
the four first volumes of the History of England; and, indeed, the short
period in which that work was finished appears almost incredible to
myself, when I recollect that I turned over and consulted above three
hundred volumes in the course of my labour. Mr. Rivington likewise
knows that I spent the best part of a year in revising, correcting, and
improving the quarto edition; which is now going to press, and will be
continued in the same size to the late Peace. Whatever reputation I may
have got by this work has been dearly purchased by the loss of health,
which I am of opinion I shall never retrieve. I am now going to the
South of France, in order to try the effects of that climate; and very
probably I shall never return. I am much obliged to you for the hope you
express that I have obtained some provision from his Majesty; but the
truth is, I have neither pension nor place, nor am I of that disposition
which can stoop to solicit either. I have always piqued myself upon my
Independancy, and I trust in God I shall preserve it to my dying day.
"Exclusive of some small detached performances that have been published
occasionally in papers and magazines, the following is a genuine list of
my productions. Roderick Random. The Regicide, a Tragedy. A translation
of Gil Blas. A translation of Don Quixotte. An Essay upon the external
use of water. Peregrine Pickle. Ferdinand Count Fathom. Great part of
the Critical Review. A very small part of a Compendium of Voyages. The
complete History of England, and Continuation. A small part of the
Modern Universal History. Some pieces in the British Magazine,
comprehending the whole of Sir Launcelot Greaves. A small part of the
translation of Voltaire's Works, including all the notes, historical and
critical, to be found in that translation.
"I am much mortified to find it is believed in America that I have lent
my name to Booksellers: that is a species of prostitution of which I am
altogether incapable. I had engaged with Mr. Rivington, and made some
progress in a work exhibiting the present state of the world; which work
I shall finish, if I recover my health. If you should see Mr. Rivington,
please give my kindest compliments to him. Tell him I wish him all
manner of happiness, tho' I have little to expect for my own share;
having lost my only child, a fine girl of fifteen, whose death has
overwhelmed myself and my wife with unutterable sorrow.
"I have now complied with your request, and beg, in my turn, you will
commend me to all my friends in America. I have endeavoured more than
once to do the Colonies some service; and am, Sir, your very humble
"London, May 8, 1763."
* * * * *
The foregoing letter, though by no means confidential, must possess
considerable value to any future biographer of the writer. It very
clearly shows the light in which Smollett was willing to be viewed by
the public. It explains the share he took in more than one literary
enterprise, and establishes his paternity of the translation of "Gil
Blas," which has been questioned by Scott and ignored by other critics.
The travels in France, which, according to the letter, could not have
been posterior to 1749, seem unknown even to the Quarterly Reviewer; but
it is possible that here Smollett's memory may have played him false,
and that he confounded 1749 with the following year, when, as is well
known, he visited that kingdom. The reference to his own share in
furnishing the original for the story of "Roderick Random" is curious;
nevertheless it can no longer be doubted that very many of the persons
and scenes of that work, as well as of "Peregrine Pickle," were drawn,
with more or less exaggeration, from his actual experience of men and
manners. And the despondency with which he contemplates his shattered
health and the prospect of finding a grave in a foreign land explains
completely the governing motives that produced, in the concluding pages
of the history of the reign of George II., so calm and impartial a
testimony to the various worth of his literary compeers that it almost
assumes the tone of the voice of posterity. This is the suggestion of
the article in the "Quarterly Review," and the language of the letter
confirms it. Despairing of ever again returning to his accustomed
avocations, and with a frame shattered by sickness and grief, he passes
from the field of busy life to a distant land, where he thinks to leave
his bones; but ere he bids a last farewell to his own soil, he passes in
review the names of those with whom he has for years been on relations
of amity or of ill-will, in his own profession, and, while he makes
their respective merits, so far as in him lies, a part of the history of
their country, he seems to breathe the parting formula of the gladiator
of old,--_Moriturus vos saluto_.
In the first of the ensuing letters an amusing commentary will be found
on Smollett's assertion, that his independent spirit would not stoop to
solicit either place or pension. The papers of which it forms one appear
to have been selected from the private correspondence of Dr. Smollett,
and are preserved among the MSS. of the Library Company of Philadelphia,
to which they were presented by Dr. Benjamin Rush, one of the signers of
the Declaration of Independence, who may have obtained them in Scotland.
Like the letter to Mr. Smith, we are satisfied that these are authentic
documents, and shall deal with them as such here. Lord Shelburne (better
known by his after-acquired title of Marquis of Lansdowne) was the
identical minister whom Pitt, twenty years later, so highly eulogized
for "that capacity of conferring good offices on those he prefers," and
for "his attention to the claims of merit," of which we could wish to
know that Smollett had reaped some benefit. The place sought for was
probably a consulate on the Mediterranean, which would have enabled our
author to look forward with some assurance of faith to longer and easier
years. The Duchess of Hamilton, to whom his Lordship writes, and by whom
his letter seems to have been transmitted to its object, was apparently
the beautiful Elizabeth Gunning, dowager Duchess of Hamilton, but
married, at the date of the letter, to the Duke of Argyle. Having
an English peerage of Hamilton in her own right, it is probable she
preferred to continue her former title.
LORD SHELBURNE TO THE DUCHESS OF HAMILTON.
"_Holt Street, Tuesday._
"Madam,--I am honour'd with your Grace's letter, inclosing one from
Doctor Smollett. It is above a year since I was applied to by Doctor
Smollett, thro' a person I wish'd extremely to oblige; but there were
and still subsist some applications for the same office, of a nature
which it will be impossible to get over in favour of Mr. Smollett, which
makes it impossible for me to give him the least hopes of it. I could
not immediately recollect what had pass'd upon that subject, else I
should have had the honour to answer your Grace's letter sooner. I am
with great truth and respect your Grace's most obedient and most humble
* * * * *
The letter bears no month nor year, but is indorsed, apparently by
Smollett himself, as of 1762,--that is, in the year previous to his
expressed aversion to solicitations for place. Yet if there was a man in
England entitled to ask for and to receive some provision by his country
for his broken health and narrow fortunes, that man was Smollett. It is
perhaps a trifling thing to notice, but it may be observed that Lord
Shelburne's communication does not bear any marks of frequent perusal.
The silver sand with which the fresh lines were besprinkled still clings
to the fading ink, furnishing perhaps the only example remaining of the
use of that article. Rousseau, we remember, mentions such sand as the
proper material to be resorted to by one who would be very particular
in his correspondence,--"_employant pour cela le plus beau papier dore,
sechant l'ecriture avec de la poudre d'azur et d'argent_"; and Moore
repeats the precept in the example of M. le Colonel Calicot, according
to the text of Miss Biddy, in the "Fudge Family in Paris":--
"Upon paper gilt-edged, without blot or erasure
Then sanded it over with silver and azure."
Among the remaining letters in this collection we find some from John
Gray, "teacher of mathematics in Cupar of Fife,"--some from Dr. John
Armstrong, the author of "The Art of Health,"--and one from George
Colman the elder. In 1761, Gray writes to Smollett, thanking him for
kind notices in the "Critical Review," and asking his influence in
regard to certain theories concerning the longitude, of which Gray was
the inventor. In 1770, Colman thus writes:--
GEORGE COLMAN TO DR. SMOLLETT.
"Dear Sir,--I have some idea that Mr. Hamilton about two years ago told
me he should soon receive a piece from you, which he meant, at your
desire, to put into my hands; but since that time I have neither seen
nor heard of the piece.
"I hope you enjoy your health abroad, and shall be glad of every
opportunity to convince you that I am most heartily and sincerely, dear
Sir, your, &c.,
"London, 28 Sept. 1770."
* * * * *
The piece referred to here by Colman (who was at this period, we
believe, the manager of the Haymarket Theatre) may possibly have been
a farce that was brought out fifteen years later on the Covent-Garden
stage, with the title of "The Israelites, or the Pampered Nabob." Its
merits and its success are said by Scott to have been but slight, and
the proof of its having been written by Smollett very doubtful; so that
it was never printed, and was soon forgotten.
At this time, (1770,) it must be remembered, Smollett was established at
Leghorn, where a milder climate and sunnier skies tended to promote,
we fancy, a serener condition of mind than he had known for years. In
leaving England, he left behind him some friends, but many enemies. In
his literary career, as he himself had not been over-merciful, so he
was in return not always tenderly handled. As a sample of the invective
which was occasionally poured forth on him, we will quote some lines
from "The Race," a dull imitation of "The Dunciad," ascribed to one
Cuthbert Shaw, and published in 1766. Although reprinted in "Dilly's
Repository," (1790,) it has long ago been very properly forgotten, and
is now utterly worthless save for purposes of illustration. The Hamilton
referred to is the same person to whom Colman makes allusion; he was
indeed Smollett's _fidus Achaies._
"--Next Smollet came. What author dare resist
Historian, critic, bard, and novelist?
'To reach thy temple, honoured Fame,' he cried,
'Where, where's an avenue I have not tried?
But since the glorious present of to-day
Is meant to grace alone the poet's lay,
My claim I wave to every art beside,
And rest my plea upon the Regicide.
* * * * *
But if, to crown the labours of my Muse,
Thou, inauspicious, should'st the wreath refuse,
Whoe'er attempts it in this scribbling age
Shall feel the Scottish pow'rs of Crilic rage.
Thus spurn'd, thus disappointed of my aim,
I'll stand a bugbear in the road to Fame,
Each future author's infant hopes undo,
And blast the budding honours of his brow.'
He said,--and, grown with future vengeance big,
Grimly he shook his scientific wig.
To clinch the cause, and fuel add to fire,
Behind came Hamilton, his trusty squire:
Awhile _he_ paus'd, revolving the disgrace,
And gath'ring all the honours of his face;
Then rais'd his head, and, turning to the crowd,
Burst into bellowing, terrible and loud:--
'Hear my resolve; and first by--I swear,
By Smollet, and his gods, whoe'er shall date
With him this day for glorious fame to vie,
Sous'd in the bottom of the ditch shall lie;
And know, the world no other shall confess,
While I have crab-tree, life, or letter-press.'
Scar'd at the menace, _authors_ fearful grew,
Poor Virtue trembled, and e'en Vice look'd blue."
It is unnecessary to pursue this vapid composition to its most lame and
impotent conclusion; it is sufficient to cite it as a specimen-brick of
the hostility which many literary characters entertained against the
author of "Roderick Random." Despite his own birthplace being north of
the Tweed, many Scots were aggrieved at the incidental ridicule with
which characters from "the land o' cakes" are sometimes treated in that
and other works from the same hand; and the picture of Lismahago in
"Humphrey Clinker" is said to have still more violently inflamed their
ire. It is to this feeling on the part of his countrymen that Charles
Lamb alludes, in his essay upon "Imperfect Sympathies." "Speak of
Smollett as a great genius," he says, "and they [the Scots] will retort
upon Hume's History compared with _his_ continuation of it. What if the
historian had continued 'Humphrey Clinker'?" In fact, there were a good
many North Britons, a century ago, who seem to have felt, on the subject
of English censure or ridicule, pretty much as some of our own people do
to-day. No matter how well-founded the objection may be, or how justly
a local habit may be satirized, our sensitiveness is wounded and our
indignation aroused. That the portrait in Lismahago's case was not
altogether overcharged may be deduced from a passage in one of Walter
Scott's letters, in which he likens the behavior and appearance of one
of his oldest and most approved friends to that of the gallant Obadiah
in a similar critical moment. "The noble Captain Ferguson was married on
Monday last. I was present at the bridal, and I assure you the like
hath not been seen since the days of Lismahago. Like his prototype, the
Captain advanced in a jaunty military step, with a kind of leer on
his face that seemed to quiz the whole matter." That the sketch was a
portrait, though doubtless disguised to such an extent as rendered its
introduction permissible, is very probable; and as it is beyond question
one of the masterpieces of English fiction, a few lines may well be
given to the point. With great justice the Quarterly Reviewer pronounces
the character of Lismahago in no whit inferior to that of Scott's Dugald
Dalgetty; and who would not go out of his way to trace any circumstance
in the history of such a conception as that of the valiant Laird of
Drumthwacket, the service-seeking Rittmaster of Swedish Black Dragoons?
Scott, himself tells us that he recollected "a good and gallant officer"
who was said to have been the prototype of Lismahago, though probably
the opinion had its origin in "the striking resemblance which he bore in
externals to the doughty Captain." Sir Walter names no name; but there
is a tradition that a certain Major Robert Stobo was the real original
from which the picture was drawn. Stobo may fairly be said to fulfil the
necessary requisites for this theory. That he was as great an oddity as
ever lived is abundantly testified by his own "Memorial," written about
1760, and printed at Pittsburg in 1854, from a copy of the MS. in the
British Museum. At the breaking out of the Seven-Years' War, he was in
Virginia, seeking his fortune under the patronage of his countryman,
Dinwiddie, and thus obtained a captaincy in the expedition which
Washington, in 1754, led to the Great Meadows. On the fall of Fort
Necessity, he was one of the hostages surrendered by Washington to the
enemy; and thus, and by his subsequent doings at Fort Du Quesne and in
Canada, he has linked his name with some interesting passages of our
national history.[A] That he was known to Smollett in after life appears
by a letter from David Hume to the latter, in which his "strange
adventures" are alluded to; and there is considerable resemblance
between these, as narrated by Stobo himself, and those assigned by
the novelist to Lismahago. And, bearing in mind the ineffable
self-complacency with which Stobo always dwells on himself and his
belongings, the description of his person given in the "Memorial"
coincides very well with that of the figure which the novelist makes to
descend in the yard of the Durham inn. One circumstance further may be
noted. We are told of "the noble and sonorous names" which Miss Tabitha
Bramble so much admired: "that Obadiah was an adventitious appellation,
derived from his great-grandfather, who had been one of the original
Covenanters; but Lismahago was the family surname, taken from a place
in Scotland, so called." Now we are not very well versed in Scottish
topography; but we well recollect, that in Dean Swift's "Memoirs of
Captain John Creichton," who was a noted Cavalier in the reigns of
Charles II., James II., and William III., and had borne an active part
in the persecution of "the puir hill-folk," there is mention made of the
name of Stobo. The Captain dwells with no little satisfaction upon the
manner in which, after he had been so thoroughly outwitted by Mass David
Williamson,--the Covenanting minister, who played Achilles among the
women at my Lady Cherrytree's,--he succeeded in circumventing and taking
prisoner "a notorious rebel, one Adam Stobow, a farmer in Fife near
Culross." And later in the same book occurs a very characteristic
passage:--"_Having drunk hard one night_, I dreamed that I had found
Captain David Steele, a notorious rebel, in one of the five farmers'
houses on a mountain in the shire of Clydesdale and parish of Lismahago,
within eight miles of Hamilton, a place I was well acquainted with."
Lest the marvellous fulfilment of Creichton's dream should induce other
seekers to have resort to a like self-preparation, we will merely add,
that the village of Hamilton is hard by the castle of the Duke of that
name, to whose family we have already seen Smollett was under some
obligations, and that it is described in the same pages with Lismahago.
It is not improbable, therefore, that, being at Hamilton, the novelist's
attention may have been attracted to "Creichton's Memoirs," which treat
of the adjacent districts, and that the mention of Stobo's name therein
may have suggested to his mind its connection with Lismahago. Certainly
there was no antecedent work to "Humphrey Clinker," in which, as we may
believe, either of these names finds a place, save this of Creichton;
and as, throughout the whole series of letters, Smollett does not
profess to avoid the introduction of actual persons and events, often
even with no pretence of disguise, we need not hesitate to think that
he would make no difficulty of turning the eccentricities of a half-pay
officer to some useful account.
[Footnote A: Some amusing particulars concerning Stobo may be found also
in the _Journal of Lieut. Simon Stevens:_ Boston 1760.--EDS. ATLANTIC.]
But we have wandered too far away from the business of his
correspondence. The next letter that we shall examine is one from John
Gray, dated at Florence, Nov. 15th, 1770, to Smollett, at Leghorn. It
abounds in details of the writer's attempts at the translation of a
French play for the English stage, on which he desires a judgment; and
cites verses from several of the songs it contains,--one of them being
that so familiar to American ears thirty years since, when Lafayette was
making his last tour through this country:--
"Ou pent on etre mieux
Qu'au sein de sa famille?"
Gray had been at Leghorn, on his way to Rome; and now amuses his
correspondent with the inconveniences of his journey under the auspices
of a tippling companion, with his notions about Pisa and Italy in
general, and with particulars of public intelligence from home, some
of which relate to Smollett's old antagonist, Admiral Knowles.--"I
despaired of executing Mrs. Smollett's commission," he says, "for there
was no ultramarine to be found in the shops; but I at length procured a
little from Mr. Patch, which I have sent along with the patterns in
Mrs. Varrien's letter, hoping that the word _Mostre_ on the back of the
letter will serve for a passport to all. The ultramarine costs nothing;
therefore, if it arrives safe, the commission is finished."
We next have a couple of letters from Dr. Armstrong; which, on account
of his ancient and enduring friendship for Smollett, and of the
similarity in their careers, may be given at large. Armstrong was a
wrongheaded, righthearted man,--a surgeon in the army, we believe,--and
a worshipper of Apollo, as well in his proper person as in that of
Esculapius. In these, and in the varied uses to which he turned his pen,
the reader will see a similarity to the story of his brother Scot. That
he was occasionally splenetic in his disposition is very manifest.
His quarrel with Wilkes, with whom he had been on terms of intimate
friendship, finds a parallel in Smollett's own history. The first
letter is without date; but the reference to the publication of his
"Miscellanies" fixes it as of 1770, and at London.
DR. ARMSTRONG TO DR. SMOLLETT.
"My dear Doctor,--I reproach myself;--but it is as insignificant as
embarrassing to explain some things;--so much for that. As to my
confidence in your stamina, I can see no reason to flinch from it; but I
wish you would avoid all unwholesome accidents as much as possible.
"I am quite serious about my visit to you next autumn. My scheme is now
to pass my June or July at Paris; from thence to set out for Italy,
either over the Alps or by sea from Marseilles. I don't expect the
company of my widow lumber, or any other that may be too fat and
indolent for such an excursion; and hope to pick up some agreeable
companion without being at the expense of advertising.
"You feel exactly as I do on the subject of State Politicks. But from
some late glimpses it is still to be hoped that some _Patriots_ may be
disappointed in their favourite views of involving their country in
confusion and destruction. As to the K. Bench patriot, it is hard to say
from what motive he published a letter of your's asking some trifling
favour of him on behalf of somebody for whom _the Cham of Literature_,
Mr. Johnson, had interested himself. I have within this month published
what I call my Miscellanies. Tho' I admitted my operator to an equal
share of profit and loss, the publication has been managed in such
a manner as if there had been a combination to suppress it:
notwithstanding which, it makes its way very tolerably at least. But I
have heard to-day that somebody is to give me a good trimming very soon.
"All friends remember you very kindly, and our little club at the Q.
Arms never fail to devote a bumper to you, except when they are in the
humour of drinking none but scoundrels. I send my best compliments to
Mrs. Smollett and two other ladies, and beg you'll write me as soon
as suits you: and with black ink. I am always, my dear Doctor, most
* * * * *
The letter to Wilkes had been written many years before, to obtain his
assistance in procuring the release of Johnson's black servant, who had
been impressed. It was couched in free terms respecting Dr. Johnson, and
was probably now given by Wilkes to the press in the hope that it might
do its author harm with the _Cham_, or at least cause the latter some
Armstrong's next letter finds him arrived in Italy, and on the eve of
repairing to his friend at Leghorn.
DR. ARMSTRONG TO DR. SMOLLETT.
"_Rome, 2nd June_, 1770.
"Dear Doctor,--I arrived here last Thursday night, and since that have
already seen all the most celebrated wonders of Rome. But I am most
generally disappointed in these matters; partly, I suppose, from my
expectations being too high. But what I have seen has been in such a
hurry as to make it a fatigue: besides, I have strolled about amongst
them neither in very good humour nor very good health.
"I have delayed writing till I could lay before you the plan of my
future operations for a few weeks. I propose to post it to Naples about
the middle of next week, along with a Colonel of our Country, who seems
to be a very good-natured man. After remaining a week or ten days there,
I shall return hither, and, after having visited Tivoli and Frascati,
set out for Leghorn, if possible, in some vessel from Civita Vecchia;
for I hate the lodgings upon the road in this country. I don't expect to
be happy till I see Leghorn; and if I find my Friend in such health as I
wish him, or even hope for him, I shall not be disappointed in the chief
pleasure I proposed to myself in my visit to Italy. As you talked of a
ramble somewhere towards the South of France, I shall be extremely happy
to attend you.
"I wrote to my brother from Genoa, and desired him to direct his answer
to your care at Pisa. If it comes, please direct it, with your own
letter, for which I shall long violently look, care of Mr. Francis
Barazzi at Rome. I am, with my best compliments to Mrs. Smollett and the
rest of the ladies, &c.,
* * * * *
There is no reason to suppose that Armstrong found anything in the
condition of his friend to fulfil the anxious wishes of his letter. In
the following year, Smollett died, leaving to his widow little beyond
the empty consolations of his great fame. From her very narrow purse she
supplied the means of erecting the stone that marks the spot where he
lies; and the pen of his companion, whose letter we have just given,
furnished an appropriate inscription. The niggardly hands of government
remained as firmly closed against the relief of Mrs. Smollett as they
had been in answer to her husband's own application for himself; an
application which must have cost a severe struggle to his proud spirit,
and of which his most intimate literary friends were probably never
aware. He sought favors for others, says Dr. Moore; but "for himself
he never made an application to any great man in his life!" He was not
intemperate, nor yet was he extravagant, but by nature hospitable and of
a cheerful temperament; his housekeeping was never niggardly, so long as
he could employ his pen. Thus his genius was too often degraded to the
hackney-tasks of booksellers; while a small portion of those pensions
which were so lavishly bestowed upon ministerial dependants and placemen
would have enabled him to turn his mind to its congenial pursuits, and
probably to still further elevate the literary civilization of his
country. But if there be satisfaction in the thought that a neglect
similar to that which befell so bright a genius as his could no longer
occur in England, there is food likewise for reflection in the change
that has come over the position in which men of letters lived in those
days towards the public, and even towards each other. Let any one read
the account of the ten or a dozen authors whom Smollett describes
himself, in "Humphrey Clinker," as entertaining at dinner on
Sundays,--that being the only day upon which they could pass through the
streets without being seized by bailiffs for debt. Each character is
drawn with a distinctive minuteness that leaves us no room to doubt its
possessing a living original; yet how disgusting to suppose that such
a crew were really to be seen at the board of a brother writer! and in
what bad taste does their host describe and ridicule their squalor! That
such things were in those times cannot be doubted. Even in this century,
in the golden days of book-making, we are told how Constable and
how Ballantyne, the great publisher and the great printer of
Edinburgh,--"His Czarish Majesty," and "the Dey of All-jeers," as Scott
would call them,--delighted at their Sunday dinners to practise the
same exercises as those which Smollett relates,--how they would bring
together for their diversion Constable's "poor authors," and start
his literary drudges on an after-dinner foot-race for a new pair of
breeches, and the like! While it cannot justify the indifference with
which Shelburne treated his request, we cannot but perceive that
Smollett's contemptuous ridicule of his unfortunate or incapable
Grub-Street friends must rob him of much of the sympathy which would
otherwise accompany the ministerial neglect with which the claims of
literature were visited in his person.
* * * * *
"Hast thou loved the wood-rose, and left it on its stalk?"
Beech-trees, stretching their arms, rugged, yet beautiful,
Here shade meadow and brook; here the gay bobolink,
High poised over his mate, pours out his melody.
Here, too, under the hill, blooms the wild violet;
Damp nooks hide, near the brook, bellworts that modestly,
Pale-faced, hanging their heads, droop there in silence; while
South winds, noiseless and soft, bring us the odor of
Birch twigs mingled with fresh buds of the hickory.
Hard by, clinging to rocks, nods the red columbine;
Close hid, under the leaves, nestle anemones,--
White-robed, airy and frail, tender and delicate.
Ye who, wandering here, seeking the beautiful,
Stoop down, thinking to pluck one of these favorites,
Take heed! Nymphs may avenge. List to a prodigy;--
One moon scarcely has waned since I here witnessed it.
One moon scarcely has waned, since, on a holiday,
I came, careless and gay, into this paradise,--
Found here, wrapped in their cloaks made of a leaf, little
White flowers, pure as the snow, modest and innocent,--
Stooped down, eagerly plucked one of the fairest, when
Forth rushed, fresh from the stem broken thus wickedly,
Blood!--tears, red, as of blood!--shed through my selfishness!
THE DIFFERENTIAL AND INTEGRAL CALCULUS.
[Greek: Polla ta deina, konden
anthropon deinoteron pelei ...
SOPH. _Ant_. 822  et seq.
"Many things are wonderful," says the Greek poet, "but nought more
wonderful than man, all-inventive man!" And surely, among many wonders
wrought out by human endeavor, there are few of higher interest than
that splendid system of mathematical science, the growth of so many
slow-revolving ages and toiling hands, still incomplete, destined to
remain so forever perhaps, but to-day embracing within its wide circuit
many marvellous trophies wrung from Nature in closest contest. There
are strange depths, doubtless, in the human soul,--recesses where the
universal sunlight of reason fails us altogether; into which if we
would enter, it must be humbly and trustfully, laying our right hands
reverentially in God's, that he may lead us. There are faculties
reaching farther than all reason, and utterances of higher import than
hers, problems, too, in the solution of which we shall derive very
little aid from any mere mathematical considerations. Those who think
differently should read once more, and more attentively, the sad history
of frantic folly and limitless license, written down forever under the
date, September, 1792, boastfully proclaimed to the world as the New
Era, the year 1 of the Age of Reason. Perhaps the number of those
who would to-day follow Momoro's pretty wife with loud adulation and
Bacchanalian rejoicings to the insulted Church of Notre Dame, thus
publicly disowning the God of the Universe and discarding the sweetest
of all hopes, the hope of immortality and eternal youth after the
weariness of age, would be found to be very small. This was indeed a new
version of the old story of Godiva, wherein implacable, inhuman hate
sadly enough took the place of the sweet Christian charity of that dear
lady. Let us recognize its deep significance, and acknowledge that many
things of very great importance lie beyond the utmost limits of human
But let us not forget, meanwhile, that within its own sphere this same
Human Reason is an apt conjuror, marshalling and deftly controlling the
powers of the earth and air to a degree wonderful and full of interest.
And nowhere have all its possibilities so fully found expression in vast
attainment as in those studies preeminently called the mathematics, as
embracing all [Greek: mathaesis], all sound learning. Casting about for
some sure anchorage, drifting hither and thither over changeful seas
of phenomena, a large body of men, deep, clear thinkers withal, some
twenty-four centuries since, fancied that they had found _all_ truth
in the fixed, eternal relations of number and quantity. Hence that
wide-spread Pythagorean philosophy, with its spheral harmonics and
esoteric mysteries, uniting in one brotherhood for many years men of
thought and action,--dare we say, our inferiors? Why allude to the old
fable of the dwarf upon the giant's shoulders? Let us have a tender
care for the sensitive nature of this ultimate Nineteenth Century, and
refrain. They were not so far wrong either, those old philosophers; they
saw clearly a part of the boundless expanse of Truth,--and somewhat
prematurely, as we believe, pronounced it the true Land's End, stoutly
asserting that beyond lay only barren seas of uncertain conjecture.
But mark what followed! Presently, under their hands, fair and clear of
outline as a Grecian temple, grew up the science of Geometry. Perfect
for all time, and as incapable of change or improvement as the
Parthenon, appear the Elements of Euclid, whose voice comes floating
down through the ages, in that one significant rejoinder,--"_Non est
regia ad mathematicam via_." It is the reply of the mathematician,
quiet-eyed and thoughtful, to the first Ptolemy, inquiring if there were
not some less difficult path to the mysteries. But the Greek Geometry
was in no wise confined to the elements. Before Euclid, Plato is said to
have written over the entrance to his garden,--"Let no one enter, who is
unacquainted with geometry,"--and had himself unveiled the geometrical
analysis, exhibiting the whole strength and weakness of the instrument,
and applying it successfully in the discussion of the properties of
the Conic Sections. Various were the discoveries, and various the
discoverers also, all now at rest, like Archimedes, the greatest of them
all, in his Sicilian tomb, overgrown with brambles and forgotten, found
only by careful research of that liberal-minded Cicero, and recognized
only by the sphere and circumscribed cylinder thereon engraved by the
dead mathematician's direction.
Meanwhile, let us turn elsewhere, so that singular people whose name
alone is suggestive of all the passion, all the deep repose of the
East. Very unlike the Greeks we shall find these Arabs, a nation
intellectually, as physically, characterized by adroitness rather than
endurance, by free, careless grace rather than perfect, well-ordered
symmetry. Called forth from centuries of proud repose, not unadorned by
noble studies and by poesy, they swept like wildfire, under Mohammed and
his successors, over Palestine, Syria, Persia, Egypt, and before the
expiration of the Seventh Century occupied Sicily and the North of
Africa. Spain soon fell into their hands;--only that seven-days' battle
of Tours, resplendent with many brilliant feats of arms, resonant with
shoutings, and weightier with fate than those dusty combatants knew,
saved France. Then until the last year of the Eleventh Century,
almost four hundred years, the Caliphs ruled the Spanish Peninsula.
Architecture, music, astrology, chemistry, medicine,--all these arts,
were theirs; the grace of the Alhambra endures; deep and permanent are
the traces left by these Saracens upon European civilization. During
all this time they were never idle. Continually they seized upon the
thoughts of others, gathering them in from every quarter, translating
the Greek mathematical works, borrowing the Indian arithmetic and system
of notation, which we in turn call Arabic, filling the world with wild
astrological fantasies. Nay, the "good Haroun Al Raschid," familiar to
us all as the genial-hearted sovereign of the World of Faery, is said to
have sent from Bagdad, in the year 807 or thereabout, a royal present
to Charlemagne, a very singular clock, which marked the hours by the
sonorous fall of heavy balls into an iron vase. At noon, appeared
simultaneously, at twelve open doors, twelve knights in armor, retiring
one after another, as the hour struck. The time-piece then had
superseded the sun-dial and hour-glass: the mechanical arts had
attained no slight degree of perfection. But passing over all ingenious
mechanism, making no mention here of astronomical discoveries, some of
them surprising enough, it is especially for the Algebraic analysis that
we must thank the Moors. A strange fascination, doubtless, these crafty
men found in the cabalistic characters and hidden processes of reasoning
peculiar to this science. So they established it on a firm basis,
solving equations of no inconsiderable difficulty, (of the fourth
degree, it is said,) and enriched our arithmetic with various rules
derived from this source, Single and Double Position among others.
Trigonometry became a distinct branch of study with them; and then, as
suddenly as they had appeared, they passed away. The Moorish cavalier
had no longer a place in the history of the coming days; the sage had
done his duty and departed, leaving among his mysterious manuscripts,
bristling with uncouth and, as the many believed, unholy signs, the
elements of truth mingled with much error,--error which in the advancing
centuries fell off as easily as the husk from ripe corn. Whether the
present civilization of Spain is an advance upon that of the Moors might
in many respects become a matter of much doubt.
Long lethargy and intellectual inanition brooded over Christian Europe.
The darkness of the Middle Ages reached its midnight, and slowly the
dawn arose,--musical with the chirping of innumerable trouveres and
minnesingers. As early as the Tenth Century, Gerbert, afterwards Pope
Sylvester II., had passed into Spain and brought thence arithmetic,
astronomy, and geometry; and five hundred years after, led by the old
tradition of Moorish skill, Camille Leonard of Pisa sailed away over the
sea into the distant East, and brought back the forgotten algebra and
trigonometry,--a rich lading, better than gold-dust or many negroes.
Then, in that Fifteenth Century, and in the Sixteenth, followed much
that is of interest, not to be mentioned here. Copernicus, Galileo,
Kepler,--we must pass on, only indicating these names of men whose lives
have something of romance in them, so much are they tinged with the
characteristics of an age just passing away forever, played out and
ended. The invention of printing, the restoration of classical learning,
the discovery of America, the Reformation, followed each other in
splendid succession, and the Seventeenth Century dawned upon the world.
The Seventeenth Century!--forever remarkable alike for intellectual and
physical activity, the age of Louis XIV. in France, the revolutionary
period of English history, say, rather, the Cromwellian period,
indelibly written down in German remembrance by that Thirty-Years'
War,--these are only the external manifestations of that prodigious
activity which prevailed in every direction. Meanwhile the two sciences
of algebra and geometry, thus far single, each depending on its own
resources, neither in consequence fully developed, as nothing of human
or divine origin can be alone, were united, in the very beginning of
this epoch, by Descartes. This philosopher first applied the algebraic
analysis to the solution of geometrical problems; and in this brilliant
discovery lay the germ of a sadden growth of interest in the pure
mathematics. The breadth and facility of these solutions added a new
charm to the investigation of curves; and passing lightly by the Conic
Sections, the mathematicians of that day busied themselves in finding
the areas, solids of revolution, tangents, etc., of all imaginable
curves,--some of them remarkable enough. Such is the cycloid, first
conceived by Galileo, and a stumbling-block and cause of contention
among geometers long after he had left it, together with his system
of the universe, undetermined. Descartes, Roberval, Pascal, became
successively challengers or challenged respecting some new property of
this curve. Thereupon followed the epicycloids, curves which--as the
cycloid is generated by a point upon the circumference of a circle
rolled along a straight line--are generated by a similar point when the
path of the circle becomes any curve whatever. Caustic curves, spirals
without number, succeeded, of which but one shall claim our notice,--the
logarithmic spiral, first fully discussed by James Bernouilli. This
curve possesses the property of reproducing itself in a variety of
curious and interesting ways; for which reason Bernouilli wished it
inscribed upon his tomb, with the motto,--_Eadem mutata resurgo_. Shall
we wisely shake our heads at all this, as unavailing? Can we not see the
hand of Providence, all through history, leading men wiselier than
they knew? If not, may it not be possible that we have read the wrong
book,--the Universal Gazetteer, perhaps, instead of the true History?
When Plato and Plato's followers wrought out the theory of those Conic
Sections, do we imagine that they saw the great truth, now evident, that
every whirling planet in the silent spaces, yes, and every falling body
on this earth, describes one of these same curves which furnished to
those Athenian philosophers what you, my practical friend, stigmatize as
idle amusement? Comfort yourself, my friend: there was many a Callicles
then who believed that he could better bestow his time upon the politics
of the state, neglecting these vain speculations, which to-day are found
to be not quite unprofitable, after all, you perceive.
And so in the instance which suggested these reflections, all this eager
study of unmeaning curves (if there be anything in the starry universe
quite unmeaning) was leading gradually, but directly, to the discovery
of the most wonderful of all mathematical instruments, the Calculus
preeminently. In the quadrature of curves, the method of exhaustions was
most ancient,--whereby similar circumscribed and inscribed polygons, by
continually increasing the number of their sides, were made to approach
the curve until the space contained between them was _exhausted_, or
reduced to an inappreciable quantity. The sides of the polygons, it was
evident, must then be infinitely small. Yet the polygons and curves
were always regarded as distinct lines, differing inappreciably, but
different. The careful study of the period to which we refer led to
a new discovery, that every curve may be considered as composed of
infinitely small straight lines. For, by the definition which assigns to
a point position _without_ extension, there can be no tangency of points
without coincidence. In the circumference of the circle, then, no two
of the points equidistant from the centre can touch each other; and the
circumference must be made up of infinite all rectilineal sides joining
A clear conception of this fact led almost immediately to the Method of
Tangents of Fermat and Barrow; and this again is the stepping-stone to
the Differential Calculus,--itself a particular application of that
instrument. Dr. Barrow regarded the tangent as merely the prolongation
of any one of these infinitely small sides, and demonstrated the
relations of these sides to the curve and its ordinates. His work,
entitled "Lectiones Geometricae," appeared in 1669. To his high
abilities was united a simplicity of character almost sublime. "_Tu,
autem, Domine, quantus es geometra_!" was written on the title-page of
his Apollonius; and in the last hour he expressed his joy, that now, in
the bosom of God, he should arrive at the solution of many problems of
the highest interest, without pain or weariness. The comment of the
French historian conveys a sly sarcasm on the Encyclopedists:--"_On voit
au reste, par-la, que Barrow etoit un pauvre philosophe; car il croiroit
en l'immortalite de l'ame, et une Divinite, autre que la nature
[Footnote A: MONTUCLA. _Hist. des Math_. Part iv. liv. 1.]
The Italian Cavalleri had, before this, published his "Geometry of
Indivisibles," and fully established his theory in the "Exercitationes
Mathematicae," which appeared in 1647. Led to these considerations by
various problems of unusual difficulty proposed by the great Kepler,
who appears to have introduced infinitely great and infinitely small
quantities into mathematical calculations for the first time, in a tract
on the measure of solids, Cavalleri enounced the principle, that all
lines are composed of an infinite number of points, all surfaces of
an infinite number of lines, and all solids of an infinite number of
surfaces. What this statement lacks in strict accuracy is abundantly
made up in its conciseness; and when some discussion arose thereupon,
it appeared that the absurdity was only seeming, and that the author
himself clearly enough understood by these apparently harsh terms,
infinitely small sides, areas, and sections. Establishing the relation
between these elements and their primitives, the way lay open to the
Integral Calculus. The greatest geometers of the day, Pascal, Roberval,
and others, unhesitatingly adopted this method, and employed it in the
abstruse researches which engaged their attention.
And now, when but the magic touch of genius was wanting to unite and
harmonize these scattered elements, came Newton. Early recognized by Dr.
Barrow, that truly great and good man resigned the Mathematical Chair at
Cambridge in his favor. Twenty-seven years of age, he entered upon his
duties, having been in possession of the Calculus of Fluxions since
1666, three years previously. Why speak of all his other discoveries,
known to the whole world? _Animi vi prope divina, planetarum motus,
figuras, cometarum semitas, Oceanique aestus, sua Mathesi lucem
praeferente, primus demonstravit. Radiorum lucis dissimilitudines,
colorumque inde nascentium proprietates, quas nemo suspicatus est,
pervestigavit_. So stands the record in Westminster Abbey; and in many
a dusty alcove stands the "Principia," a prouder monument perhaps, more
enduring than brass or crumbling stone. And yet, with rare modesty, such
as might be considered again and again with singular advantage by many
another, this great man hesitated to publish to the world his rich
discoveries, wishing rather to wait for maturity and perfection. The
solicitation of Dr. Barrow, however, prevailed upon him to send forth,
about this time, the "Analysis of Equations containing an Infinite
Number of Terms,"--a work which proves, incontestably, that he was in
possession of the Calculus, though nowhere explaining its principles.
This delay occasioned the bitter quarrel between Newton and Leibnitz,--a
quarrel exaggerated by narrow-minded partisans, and in truth not very
creditable, in all its ramifications, to either party. Newton, in the
course of a scientific correspondence with Leibnitz, published in 1712,
by the Royal Society, under the title, "Commercium Epistolicum
de Analysi promota," not only communicated very many remarkable
discoveries, but added, that he was in possession of the inverse problem
of the tangents, and that he employed two methods which he did
not choose to make public, for which reason he concealed them by
anagrammatical transposition, so effectual as completely to
extinguish the faint glimmer of light which shone through his scanty
explanation.[B] The reference is obviously to what was afterwards known
as the Method of Fluxions and Fluents. This method he derived from the
consideration of the laws of motion uniformly varied, like the motion of
the extreme point of the ordinate of any curve whatever. The name which
he gave to his method is derived from the idea of motion connected with
[Footnote B: This logograph Newton afterwards rendered as follows: "Una
methodus consistit in extractione fluentis quantitatis ex aequatione
simul involvente; altera tantum in assumptione seriei pro quantitate
incognita ex qua ceterae commode derivari possunt, et in collatione
terminonim homologorum aequationis resultantis ad eruendos terminos
Leibnitz, reflecting upon these statements on the part of Newton,
arrived by a somewhat different path at the Differential and Integral
Calculus, reasoning, however, concerning infinitely great and infinitely
small quantities in general, viewing the problem algebraically instead
of geometrically,--and immediately imparted the result of his studies to
the English mathematician. In the Preface to the _first_ edition of
the "Principia," Newton says, "It is ten years since, being in
correspondence with M. Leibnitz, and having instructed him that I was
in possession of a method of determining tangents and solving questions
involving _maxima_ and _minima_, a method which included irrational
expressions, and having concealed it by transposing the letters,
he replied to me that he had discovered a similar method, which he
communicated, differing from mine only in the terms and signs, as
well as in the generation of the quantities." This would seem to be
sufficient to set at rest any conceivable controversy, establishing an
equal claim to originality, conceding priority of discovery to Newton.
Thus far all had been open and honorable. The petty complaint, that,
while Leibnitz freely imparted his discoveries to Newton, the latter
churlishly concealed his own, would deserve to be considered, if it were
obligatory upon every man of genius to unfold immediately to the world
the results of his labor. As there may be many reasons for a different
course, which we can never know, perhaps could never hope to appreciate,
if we did know them, let us pass on, merely recalling the example of
Galileo. When the first faint glimpses of the rings of Saturn floated
hazily in the field of his imperfect telescope, he was misled into the
belief that three large bodies composed the then most distant light of
the system,--a conclusion which, in 1610, he communicated to Kepler in
the following logograph:--
It is not strange that the riddle was unread. The old problem, Given the
Greek alphabet, to find an Iliad, differs from this rather in degree
than in kind. The sentence disentangled runs thus:--
ALTISSIMVM PLANETAM TERGEMINVM OBSERVAVI.
And yet we have never heard that Kepler, or, in fact, Leibnitz himself,
felt aggrieved by such a course.
But Leibnitz made his discovery public, neglecting to give Newton _any_
credit whatever; and so it happened that various patriotic Englishmen
raised the cry of plagiarism. Keil, in the "Philosophical Transactions"
for 1708, declared that he had published the Method of Fluxions, only
changing the name and notation. Much debate and angry discussion
followed; and, alas for human weakness! Newton himself, in a later
edition of the "Principia," struck out the generous recognition of
genius recorded above, and joined in terming Leibnitz an impostor,
--while the latter maintained that Newton had not fathomed the more
abstruse depths of the new Calculus. The "Commercium Epistolicum" was
published, giving rise to new contentions; and only death, which ends
all things, ended the dispute. Leibnitz died in 1716.
The Calculus at first found its chief supporters on the Continent. James
and John Bernoulli, Varignon, author of the "Theory of Variations," and
the Marquis de l'Hopital, were the first to appreciate it; but soon it
attracted the attention of the scientific world to such a degree that
the frivolous populace of Paris had even a well-known song with the
burden, "_Des infiniment petits_." Neither were opponents wanting.
Wrong-headed men and thick-headed men are unfortunately too numerous
in all times and places. One Nieuwentiit, a dweller in intellectual
fogbanks, who had distinguished himself by proving the existence of
the Deity in one of his works, made about this time what he doubtless
considered a second discovery. He found a flaw in the reasoning of
Leibnitz, namely, that _he_ (Nieuwentiit) could not conceive of
quantities infinitely small! A certain Chever also performed sundry
singular mathematical feats, such as squaring the circle, a problem
which he reduced to the single question, _Construere mundum divinae
menti analogum_, and showing that the parabola, the only conic section
squared by ancient or modern geometers, could never be quadrated, to the
eternal discomfiture and discredit of the shade of Archimedes. Leibnitz
used every means in his power to engage these worthy adversaries in
a contest concerning his Calculus, but unfortunately failed. Bishop
Berkeley, too, author of the "Essay on Tar-Water," devout disbeliever in
the material universe, could not resist the Quixotic inclination to run
a tilt against a science which promised so much aid in unveiling those
starry splendors which he with strenuous asseveration denied. He
published, in 1754, "The Minute Philosopher," and soon after, "The
Analyst, or the Discourse of a Mathematician," showing that the
Mathematics are opposed to religion, and cultivate an incredulous
spirit,--such as would never for a moment listen, let us hope, to any
theory which proclaims this green earth and all the universe "such stuff
as dreams are made of," even though the doctrine be ecclesiastically
sustained and backed with abundant wealth of learning. Numerous were the
defenders, called out rather by the acknowledged metaphysical ability of
Bishop Berkeley than by any transcendent merit in these two tracts; and
among others came Maclaurin.
Taylor's Theorem, based upon that first published by Maclaurin, is the
foundation of the Calculus by La Grange, differing from the methods of
Leibnitz and Newton in the manner of deriving the auxiliaries employed,
proceeding upon analytical considerations throughout. Of his "Theorie
des Fonctions," and that noblest achievement of the pure reason, the
"Mecanique Analytique," we do not propose to speak, nor of the later
developments of the Calculus, so largely due to his genius and labors.
These are mysteries, known only to the initiated, yet capable of raising
their thoughts in as sublime emotion as arose from the view of the
elder, forgotten mysteries, which Cicero deemed the very source and
beginning of true life.
We have seen how, and through whose toil, this mightiest instrument of
human thought has reached its present perfection. Now, its vast powers
fully recognized, it has become interwoven with all Natural Philosophy.
On its sure basis rests that majestic structure, the "Mecanique Celeste"
of La Place. Its demonstration supports with undoubted proof many
doctrines of the great Newton. Discovery has succeeded discovery; but
its powers have never yet been fully tested. "It is that field of
mathematical investigation," says Davies, "where genius may exert its
highest powers and find its surest rewards." Looking back through the
long course of events leading to such a magnificent result, looking up
to that choral dance of wandering planets, all whose courses and seasons
are marked down for us in the yearly almanac, can we not find in these
manifestations something on the whole quite wonderful, worthy of very
deep thankfulness, heartfelt humility withal, and far-reaching hope?
In an age of many-colored absurdity, when extremes meet and
contradictions harmonize,--when men of gross, material aims give
implicit confidence to the wildest ravings of the supernatural, and
pure-minded men embrace French theories of social organization,--when
crowds of dullards all aflame with unexpected imagination assemble in
ascension-robes to await the apocalyptic trump, and Asiatic polygamy
spreads unmolested along our Western rivers,--when the prediction is
accomplished, "Old men dream dreams and young men see visions," and the
most practical of the ages bids fair to glide ghostly into history as
the most superstitious,--it is well, it can but be well, to contemplate
reverently that Reason, which Coleridge, after Leighton, calls "an
influence from the Glory of the Almighty." In the contemplation of the
spirit of man (not your _animula_, by any means!) there is earnest of
immortality which needs not that one rise from the dead to confirm it.
In view of the Foresight which guides men, we may trust that all this
tumultuous sense of inadequacy in present institutions, this blind
notion of wrong, far enough from intelligent correction, is, after all,
better than sluggish inaction.
BULLS AND BEARS.
The suspension of specie payments brought instant relief to all really
solvent mercantile houses; since those who had valuable assets of any
kind could now obtain discounts sufficient to enable them to meet their
liabilities. Among those who were at once relieved was the house of
Lindsay and Company; they resumed payment and recommenced business.
Mr. Lindsay lost no time in finding his clerk Monroe, and reinstated him
with an increased salary. Great was the sorrow in the ragged school at
the loss of the teacher; and it was with some regret that he abandoned
the place. He felt no especial vocation to the career of a missionary;
but his duties had become less irksome than at the beginning, if not
absolutely pleasant. His own position, however, was such that he could
not afford to continue in his self-denying occupation. Easelmann was one
of the first to congratulate him upon his improved prospects.
"Don't you feel sorry, my dear fellow? Now you get upon your treadmill
of business, and you must keep going, or break your legs. Think, too,
of the jolly little rascals you have left! The beggars are the only
aristocracy we have,--the only people who enjoy their _dolce far
niente_. Look on the Common: who are there amusing themselves on a fine
day, unless it be your Duke Do-nothing, Earl Out-at-elbows, Duchess
Draggle-tail, and others of that happy class? Meanwhile your Lawrences,
Eliots, and the 'Merchant Princes' (a satirical dog that invented the
title!) are going about with sharpened faces, looking as though they
weren't sure of a dinner. Oh, business is a great matter, to be sure!
but the idlers, artists, poets, and other lazzaroni, are the only people
that enjoy life."
Monroe smiled, and only replied,--
"Think of my mother! I must do something besides enjoying life, as you
call it: I must earn the means of making it enjoyable."
"You were always a good boy," replied his friend, benignantly. "So go to
work; but don't forget to walk out of town now and then; in which case,
I hope you won't disdain the company of _one_ of the idlers."
* * * * *
The "mother" was full of joy; her melancholy nervousness almost wholly
forsook her. She looked proudly upon her "dear boy," thinking him the
best, most considerate, faithful, and affectionate of sons,--as he was.
Walter, after listening to her benedictions, told her he had an
invitation from Mr. Lindsay to dine the next day, and begged her to go
with him; but the habit of inaction, the dread of bustle and motion,
were too strong to be overcome. She could not be persuaded to leave
"But go, by all means, Walter," she added. "It will be pleasant to be
on such terms with your employer. I must keep watch of you, though, now
that Alice is gone. Are there young ladies at the house?"
"Why, mother, how jealous you are! Do you think I go about falling
in love with all the young ladies I see? Mr. Lindsay has a beautiful
daughter; but do you think a poor clerk is likely to be regarded as
'eligible' by a family accustomed to wealth and luxury?"
The mother looked as though she thought her son a match for the richest
and proudest; she said nothing, but patted his head as though he were
still only a boy.
"Speaking of Alice, mother, I am very much concerned about her. Now that
I am reestablished, I shall make every exertion to find her and bring
her home to live with us. Mr. Greenleaf, I know, is looking for her;
very little good it will do him, if he finds her."
"But we shall hear from him, I presume?"
"I think so. He is intimate with my friend Mr. Easelmann.--But, mother,
I have some more good news. I shall get our property back. Lawyers say
that Mr. Tonsor will be obliged to give up the notes, and look to the
estate of Sandford for the money he lent. And the notes, fortunately,
are as valuable as ever, in spite of all the multitude of failures; one
name, at least, on each note is good."
"Everything comes back, like Job's prosperity. This repays us for all
"If Alice had not run away!"
"But we shall have her again,--poor motherless child!"
So with mutual gratulations they passed the evening. My readers who now
enjoy a mother's love, or look back with affectionate reverence to such
scenes in the past, will pardon these apparently unimportant portions
of the story. Sooner or later all will learn that no worldly success
whatever, no friendships, not even the absorbing love of wife and
children, can afford a pleasure so full, so serene, as the sacred
feeling which rises at the recollection of a mother's self-sacrificing
Very commonplace, no doubt,--but still worth an occasional thought. As
for those who demand that natural and simple feelings shall be ignored,
and that every chapter shall record something not less startling than
murder or treason, are there not already means for gratifying their
tastes? Do not the "Torpedo" and the "Blessing of the Boudoir" give
enough of these delicate condiments with the intellectual viands they
furnish? Let old-fashioned people enjoy their plain dishes in peace.
The reader may be quite sure that Greenleaf lost no time in presenting
himself at Easelmann's studio on the morning after his last interview.
"On hand early, I see," said the elder. "And how fresh you look! The
blood comes dancing into your face; you are radiant with expectation."
"You mummy, what do you suppose I am made of, if the thought of meeting
Alice should not quicken my blood a little?"
"If it were my case, I think my cheeks would tingle from another cause."
"Now you need not try to frighten me. I will see her first. I don't
believe she has forgotten me."
"Nor I; but forgetting is one thing, and forgiving is another. Besides,
we haven't seen her yet."
"I haven't, I know; but I'll wager you have."
"Well, my Hotspur, I sha'n't entice her away from you."
"Let us go," said Greenleaf.
"Presently; I must finish this pipe first; it lasts thirty-six minutes,
and I have smoked only--let me see--twenty-eight."
"Well, puff away; but you'll burn up my patience with your tobacco,
unless you are ready soon."
"Don't hurry. You'll get to your stool of repentance quite soon enough.
Have you heard the news? The banks have suspended,--ditto Fletcher, a
"What do you mean?"
"Plain enough. The banks suspend paying specie because they haven't any
to redeem their bills; and Fletcher, because he has neither specie nor
"Yes, _sus. per coll._, as the Newgate records have it,--hung himself
with his handkerchief,--an article he might have put to better use."
And Easelmann blew a vigorous blast with his, as he laid down the pipe.
"You understand, choking is disagreeable,--painful, in fact,--and, if
indulged in long enough, is apt to produce unpleasant effects. Remember,
I once warned you against it."
"This matter of suicide is horrible. Couldn't it have been prevented?"
"Yes, if Fletcher could have got hold of Bullion."
"Coin would have done as well, I suppose."
"Now haven't I been successful in diverting your attention? You have
actually punned. Don't you know Mr. Bullion, the capitalist?"
"I have good reason to remember him, though I don't know him myself. My
father was once connected with him in business, and not at all to his
"I never heard you speak of your father before; in fact, I never knew
you had one."
"It was not necessary to speak of him; he has been dead many years."
"And left you nothing to remember him by. Now a man with an estate has a
"So has the son of a famous man; and people are continually depreciating
him, comparing his little bud of promise with the ripe fruitage of the
ancestral tree. I prefer to acquire my own fortune and my own fame. My
father did his part by giving me being and educating me.--But come; your
pipe is out; you draw like a pump, without puffing even a nebula of
"I suppose I must yield. First a lavation; this Virginian incense
is more agreeable to devout worshippers like you and me than to the
uninitiated. There," (wiping the water from his moustaches,) "now I
am qualified to meet that queenly rose, Mrs. Sandford, or even that
delicate spring violet of yours,--if we should find the nook where she
"You are the most tantalizing fellow! How provokingly cool you are, to
stand dallying as though you were going on the most indifferent errand!
And all the while to remind me of what I have lost. Come, you look
sufficiently fascinating; your gray moustache has the proper artistic
curl; your hair is carelessly-well-arranged."
"So the boy can't wait for due preparation. There, I believe I am
Arrived at the house where Mrs. Sandford boarded, they were ushered into
the reception-room; but Easelmann, bidding his friend wait, followed the
servant upstairs. Waiting is never an agreeable employment. The courtier
in the ante-chamber before the expected audience, the office-seeker at
the end of a cue in the Presidential mansion, the beau lounging in the
drawing-room while the idol of his soul is in her chamber busy with the
thousand little arts that are to complete her charms,--none of these
find that time speeds. To Greenleaf the delay was full of torture; he
paced the room, looked at the pictures without seeing anything, looked
out of the window, turned over the gift-books on the table, counted the
squares in the carpet, and finally sat down in utter despair. At length
Easelmann returned. Greenleaf started up.
"Where is she? Have you seen her? Why doesn't she come down? And why, in
the name of goodness, have you kept me waiting in this outrageous way?"
"I don't know.--I have not--I can't tell you.--And because I couldn't
help it.--Never say, after this, I don't answer all your questions."
"Now, what is the use of all this mystery?"
"Softly, my friend; and let us not make a mess of it. Mrs. Sandford
advises us to walk out awhile."
"I am obliged to her and to you for your well-meant caution, but I don't
intend to go out until I have seen Alice,--if she will see me."
"I have considered, and am determined to see her; I can't endure this
"But Alice bore it much longer. Be advised; Mrs. Sandford wants to
prepare the way for you."
"I thank you; but I don't mean to have any stratagem acted for my
benefit. I will trust the decision to her: if she loves me, all will be
well; if her just resentment has uprooted her love, the sooner I know it
While they were engaged in this mutual expostulation, Alice,
all-unconscious of the impending situation in the drama, was busy in her
own room,--for Mrs. Sandford had not yet decided how to break the news
to her,--and having an errand that led her to the street, she put on her
cloak and hat and tripped lightly down-stairs. Naturally she went into
the drawing-room, to make sure, by the mirror, that her ribbons were
neatly adjusted. As she entered, fastening her cloak, and humming some
simple air meanwhile, she started back at the sight of strangers,
and was rapidly retreating, when a voice that she had not forgotten
exclaimed, "Great Heavens, there she is now! Alice! Alice! stop! I beg
Greenleaf at the same time bounded to the door, and, seizing her hand,
drew her, bewildered, faint, and fluttering, back into the room.
He turned almost fiercely to his companion:--
"This is your policy, is it, to send her off?--or, more probably, to
amuse me and not send for her at all?"
"Ask the lady,--ask Mrs. Sandford," replied Easelmann. "I have not sent
her off; and you ought to know by this time that I am incapable of
playing false to any man."
Alice, erect, but very pale, maintained her composure as well as she
could, though the timid lips trembled a little, and blinding clouds rose
before her eyes. She withdrew her hand from Greenleaf's grasp, and asked
the meaning of this unusual conduct. Greenleaf's good sense came to the
"Alice,--Miss Lee,--allow me to introduce my friend Mr. Easelmann. We
came here to see you, and were waiting for that purpose; but it seems
you were not told of it."
Easelmann bowed, saying, "No, Miss Lee; I saw Mrs. Sandford, who thought
it best to speak to you first herself."
"I am happy to meet you, Mr. Easelmann," said Alice. "I was just going
out, however, as you see, and I must ask you to excuse me this morning."
Greenleaf saw with a pang how silently, but effectually, he was disposed
of; a downright rebuff would not have been so humiliating. But he was
not to be deterred from his purpose, and he went on:
"Pardon me, if I seem to overstep the bounds of courtesy; but I cannot
let you go in this way, Alice,--for so I must call you. Stay and hear
me. Now that I see you, I must speak. God only knows with what anxiety I
have sought you for the last month."
She tried to answer, but could not command her speech. Seeing her
increasing agitation, Easelmann led her to a seat, and then, in a
gentler tone than he often used, said,--
"I will leave the room, if you please, Miss Lee; this is an interview I
did not desire to witness."
"No," she exclaimed, "do not go. I have nothing to say that you should
not hear; and I hope Mr. Greenleaf will spare me the pain of going over
a history which is better forgotten."
"It can never be forgotten," interposed Greenleaf; "and, in spite of
your protest, I must say what I can--and that is little enough--to
exculpate myself, and then throw myself upon your charity for
Alice remained silent; but it was a silence that gave no encouragement
to Greenleaf. He advanced still nearer, looking at her with a tender
earnestness, as though his very soul were in the glance. She covered her
face with her hands.
"Alice," he said, "you know what that name once meant to me. I cannot
speak it now without a feeling beyond utterance."
Easelmann, meanwhile, quietly sidled towards the door, and, saying that
he was going back to see Mrs. Sandford, abruptly left the room.
Greenleaf went on,--"I know my conduct was utterly inexcusable; but I
declare, by my hope of heaven, I never _loved_ any woman but you. I was
fascinated, ensnared, captivated by the senses only; now that illusion
is past, and I turn to you."
"My illusion is past also; you turn too late. Can you make me forget
those months of neglect?"
The tone was tender, but mournful. How he wished that her answer had
been fuller of rebuke! He could hope to overcome her anger far more
easily than this settled sorrow.
"I know I can never atone for the wrong; there are injuries that are
irreparable, wounds that leave ineffaceable scars. I can never undo what
I have done; would to Heaven I could! You may never forget this period
of suffering; but that is past now; it is not to be lived over again. Go
back rather to the brighter days before it; think of them, and then look
down the future;--may I dare say it?--the future, perhaps, will make us
both forget my insane wanderings and your undeserved pains."
"But love must have faith to lean upon. While I loved you, I rested on
absolute trust. I would have believed you against all the world. I would
have been glad to share your lot, even in poverty and obscurity. I did
not love you for your art nor your fame. You wavered; you forgot me. I
don't know what it was that tempted you, but it was enough; it drew
you away from me; and as long as you preferred another, or could be
satisfied with any other woman's love, you lost all claim to mine."
Greenleaf could not but feel the force of this direct, womanly logic: in
its clear light how pitiful were the excuses he had framed for himself!
He felt sure that many, even of the best of men, might have erred in the
same way; but this was an argument which would have much more weight
with his own sex than with women. Men know their own frailties, and
are therefore charitable; women consider inconstancy to be the one
unpardonable sin, and are inexorable.
He came still nearer, vainly hoping to see some indication of relenting;
but the pale face was as firm as it was sad.
"I said before, Alice, that I do not attempt to defend my faithlessness,
hardly to extenuate it; and I do not at all wonder at your altered
temper towards me. It was a cruel blow I gave you. But my life shall
show you the sincerity of my repentance."
She shook her head as she answered,--
"When you left me, the last spark of love went out. It is hard to kindle
anew the dead embers. No,--when I found that you _could_ be untrue, all
was over,--past, present, and future."
"But consider," he said, still more earnestly, "what remains for you or
me. You will have the memory of this great sorrow, and I the unending
remorse. I can never love another woman while you live, and you--may I
say it?--will never love again as you have loved. Is it not for your
own happiness, as it is most assuredly for mine, that you overlook the
fault, receive me again, and trust to the lasting effect of the bitter
lesson I have learned? Forgive me, if I seem too bold,--if the desire to
atone for the past makes me sue for pardon with unbecoming zeal. If I
were less urgent, it would be because I was not sensible of the wrong,
and careless about reparation."
She was silent; contending passions strove for mastery. She had not
forgotten him, then! He took courage and came yet nearer.
"Will you give me your hand? Alice, will you?"
He reached his own towards her.
"No,--pardon me,--I must not. It is not well to decide by impulse,--to
be swayed by a thrill. When my heart tells me to give you my hand, it
shall be yours. I don't wish to be charmed out of my calmer judgment.
Your presence, your fiery words, and your will, are sufficiently
"My dear Alice, I have been guilty of _one_ folly, a serious one, but
you don't believe I am incapable of constancy henceforth. Remember you
were away; time hung heavily on my hands; my good nature made me accept
invitations which brought me into daily contact with a woman who of all
others was most dangerous to a man of ardent temperament. The friendship
which began without a thought of a nearer relation grew into an intimacy
which I was not far-sighted enough to check. In your own words, I was
magnetized, thoroughly; and when, at last, in a scene of imminent
danger, I rashly said some things that should not have been spoken, I
found myself committed irrevocably. It is not too much to say that the
lady was looking for the opportunity which fate and my own stupidity
gave her. But the spell did not last. Your face was constantly before me
like an accusing angel. I waited only until the lady recovered from
a dangerous illness to tell her that I did not love her, and that my
heart, as well as my faith, was yours. I went at once to see you, and
found your father dead, yourself homeless. And from that hour I have
done nothing but search for you. Is it in vain?--I can say no more.
Perhaps I have said too much. But I implore you, Alice, by the memory of
our love as it was once, by all your hope of the future, to forgive me,
and not to make my whole life as miserable as the last few months have
been to you."
It was the last word; he felt that he had nothing further to urge. He
bent over her chair, seized her hand and pressed it passionately to
his lips, watching with the intensest eagerness the effect of his
appeal.--There was a rustle of silk behind him, an incoming of perfumes,
a light footstep. He started, as did Alice, and beheld--Miss Marcia
Sandford! She was tastefully dressed, as usual, and she bore
herself with superb composure. In coming from the sunlight into the
semi-translucent gloom which pervades modern drawing-rooms, people are
not easily recognized, and the lady swept majestically across the floor,
and took a seat, without a sign of consciousness, near the couple whose
conversation she had interrupted.
Not so Greenleaf; it was the most dangerous dilemma in which he had ever
been placed, and he was thoroughly at a loss to know how to extricate
himself. Would that he could telegraph to Easelmann to come down, so
that he could effect a decent retreat, and not leave the field in the
sole possession of the enemy. The silence was becoming embarrassing. He
was about to make some excuse for departure, when the lioness fixed
her eyes upon him,--her glance sparkling with malicious joy. A servant
entered to say that Mrs. Sandford was engaged for a few minutes, and
that she wished to know the name of her visitor.
"Miss Sandford," she replied, "and please tell her I will wait."
Alice remembered the name, and now shared fully in Greenleaf's
embarrassment. She watched him, therefore, keenly, while the lady
"Oh, Mr. Greenleaf, is it you? Why didn't you speak? It is not worth
while to keep a memory of the old disappointment. Let bygones be
bygones. Besides, I see you know the remedy for heartbreak; if you can't
succeed where you would, you must try elsewhere. And you seemed to be
getting on very well when I came in."
"Miss Sandford," he retorted, indignantly, "there is as little need of
your ironical condolence as of your ungenerous insinuations."
"What an impatient fellow! and so sensitive, too! The wound is not
healed, then. Pray introduce me to the Zerlina in our little opera. As I
know you so well, I can give her some excellent counsel about managing
you.--Ah, you wince! I am indiscreet, I fear; I have betrayed a secret;
the Zerlina is perhaps still in her rustic seclusion, and this is
only--Well, you must submit to your destiny, I suppose. How many are
there since? Let me see,--six weeks,--time for three flirtations of the
most intensely crimson hue."
Alice rose to her feet, with a glow of resentment on her hitherto pale
face. And Greenleaf, feeling that courtesy was now wholly unnecessary,
"Miss Sandford, you have said quite as much as was proper for a young
girl to hear: your own cheeks, I presume, are proof against any
indelicate surprise. Let me ask you to stop, before"--
"Before what, Sir? And what is this high-and-mighty innocence about?
To be sure, one does not like to be exposed,--that is, the wolf
doesn't,--though the lamb shouldn't be angry. A pretty lamb it is, too."
Alice gradually drew away from Greenleaf's side, turning her glances
from one to the other of the combatants. She had never seen such
confidence, such readiness of invective, joined with such apparent
sincerity and ease of manner; and the evident effect of the attack upon
Greenleaf puzzled her not a little; in this brief colloquy there were
opened new fields for dark conjecture. The woman's words had been barbed
arrows in her ears.
Greenleaf's perplexity increased momently. He dared not go away now;
and he knew not how, in Miss Sandford's presence, to counteract the
impression she might make. If he could get rid of her or shut her
wickedly-beautiful mouth, he might answer all she had so artfully thrown
out. But as Alice had not given any token of returning affection, he