Part 3 out of 5
could not presume upon his good standing with her and remain silent.
Growing desperate, he ventured once more.
"Miss Sandford, I know very well the depth of your hate towards me, as
well as your capacity for misrepresentation. If you desire to have
the history of our intimacy dragged to the light, I, for my part, am
willing. But don't think your sex will screen you, if you continue the
calumnies you have begun.--You, Alice, must judge between us. And in
almost every point, Mrs. Sandford, your friend and her sister-in-law,
will be able to support my statements."
The servant returned to say that "Mrs. Sandford must be excused."
Greenleaf turned upon the adversary with a triumphant glance.
"A palpable trick," she exclaimed. "You gave the servant a signal: you
were unwilling to have us confronted. You have filled her ears with
scandal about me."
"Not a word; she can hear a plenty about you in any circle where you are
known, without coming to me. And so far from giving any signal, I should
be rejoiced to show Alice how easily an honest woman's testimony will
put your monstrous effrontery to shame."
Alice here interposed,--her resolute spirit manifest in spite of her
"I have heard this too long already; I don't wish to be the subject of
this lady's jests, and I don't desire her advice. Your quarrel does not
concern me,--at least, not so deeply that I wish to have it repeated in
my presence. Mr. Greenleaf, let me bid you good-morning."
She moved away with a simple dignity, bowing with marked coolness to the
"Stay, Alice," said Greenleaf. "Let me not be thrust aside in this way.
Miss Sandford, now that she has done what mischief she can, will go away
and enjoy the triumph. I beg of you, stay and let me set myself right."
Miss Sandford laughed heartily,--a laugh that made Greenleaf shiver.
"Not to-day, Mr. Greenleaf," she answered. "I have need of rest and
reflection. I am not used to scenes like this, and my brain is in a
The first flush of excitement was over, and it was with difficulty that
she found her way through the hall. Easelmann was coming down, and saw
her hesitating step and her tremulous grasp upon the rail; he sprang
down four steps at a time, caught her before she fell, and carried her
in his arms like a child up to Mrs. Sandford's room.
Greenleaf was so completely absorbed by the danger of losing the last
hold upon Alice, that he forgot his most excusable anger against the
vindictive woman who still lingered, enjoying her victory. He sank into
a chair, buried his face in his hands, and for some time neither looked
up nor replied to her taunts.
"Come, now," said she, "don't take it so hard. Is my handsome
sister-in-law obdurate? Never mind; don't be desolate; other women will
be kind,--for you are just the man to attract sentimental damsels. Cheer
up! you will find a new affinity before night, I haven't a doubt."
Roused at length, Greenleaf stood up before the mocking fiend, so
radiant in her evil smiles, and said,--
"You enemy of all that is good, what brought you here? Keep in your own
sphere, if there is one for you in this world."
"I came to see my sister, as you know. It was a most unexpected pleasure
to meet you. I came to tell her that brother Henry has either run away
or killed himself, it doesn't matter which."
"Pray, follow him. I assure you we shall mourn your absence as bitterly
as you do his."
"Well, good-bye," she said, still laughing in the same terrible tone.
"Better luck next time."
The door closed upon her, and Greenleaf drew a long breath--with a sense
of infinite relief.
"Come," said Easelmann, entering a moment later,--"come, let us go. We
have done quite enough for one day. You wouldn't take my advice, and a
pretty mess you have made of it."
When the remains of John Fletcher were borne to the grave, the memory
of his faults was buried with him. "Poor fellow!" was the general
ejaculation in State Street,--at once his _requiescat_ and epitaph. But
the great wheels of business moved on; Bulls and Bears kept up their
ever-renewing conflicts and their secret machinations; new gladiators
stepped into the ring; new crowds waited the turn of the wheel of
Fortune; and new Fletchers were ready to sacrifice themselves, if need
were, for the Bullions of the exchange. Who believes in the efficacy of
"lessons"? What public execution ever deterred the murderer from his
design? What spectacle of drunkenness ever restrained the youthful
debauchee? What accession, however notable, to the ranks of "the
unfortunate" ever made the fascinated woman pause in her first steps
No,--human nature remains the same; and the erring ones, predestined to
sin by their own unrestrained passions, wait only for the overmastering
circumstances to yield and fall. When any of these solemn warnings are
held up to the yet callow sinner, what does he propose to do? To stop
and repent? No,--to be a little more careful and not be caught.
Not that precepts and examples are useless. All together go to make up
the moral government of the world,--pervading like the atmosphere, and
like it resting with uniform pressure upon the earth. Crime and folly
will always have their exemplars, but retribution furnishes the
restraining influence that keeps evil down to its average. As locks and
bolts are made for honest men, not for thieves, so the moral law and its
penalties are for those who have never openly sinned.
If Mr. Bullion had been ten times the Shylock he was, he could not have
disregarded the last injunction of Fletcher. The turn in the market
enabled him to make advantageous sales of his stocks, and in less than
a week he resumed payment. The first thing he did was to pay over to
trustees the notes he had given Fletcher, thereby securing the widow at
least a decent support. He also sent Danforth & Co. the ten thousand
dollars for which their clerk had paid such a terrible forfeiture.
After discharging all his obligations, there was still an ample margin
left,--a large fortune, in fact. Mr. Bullion could now retire with
comfort,--could look forward to many years; so he flattered himself.
His will was made, his children provided for; and some unsettled
accounts, not remembered by any save himself and the recording angel,
were adjusted as well as the lapse of time would allow. So he thought of
purchasing a country-house for the next season, and of giving the rest
of his days to the enjoyment of life.
But it was not so to be. A swift and sudden stroke smote him down. In
the dead of night, and alone, he met the angel for whose summons all of
us are waiting, and went his way without a struggle. The morning sun,
as its rays shot in between the blinds, lighted the seamed and careworn
face of an old man, resting as in a serene, dreamless sleep.
* * * * *
Mr. Tonsor found, on consulting the best legal authorities, that he
could not maintain his claim upon the notes he had received of Sandford;
and, rather than subject himself to the expense of a lawsuit in which he
was certain to be beaten, he relinquished them to Monroe, and filed his
claim for the money against Sandford's estate. Ten _per cent._ was the
amount of the dividend he received; the remainder was charged to Profit
and Loss,--Experience being duly credited with the same amount.
* * * * *
It was with the greatest difficulty that the judicious Easelmann
prevented his friend from making a second visit in the evening of the
same day. Greenleaf had come to a full conviction, in his own mind, that
his difference with Alice ought to be settled, and he could not conceive
that it might take time to bring her to the same conclusion. Some people
adapt themselves to circumstances instantly; the aversion of one hour
becomes the delight of the next; but those who are guided by reasoning,
especially where there is a shade of resentment,--who are fortified by
pride of opinion, and by the idea of consistent self-respect,--such
persons are slow to change a settled conviction; the course of feeling
is too powerful and too constant to be arrested and turned backward.
Easelmann thought--and perhaps rightly--that Alice needed only time to
become accustomed to the new view of the case; and he believed that any
precipitation might be fatal to his friend's hopes.
"Give her the opportunity to think about it," he said; "if she loves
you, depend upon it, the wind will change with her. Due east to-day,
according to all you have told me; and the violets won't blossom till
the sun comes out of the sullen gray cloud and the south wind breathes
on them.--The very contact with a lover, you see, makes me poetical."
"But her thoughts may take another direction. Who can tell what
impression that malicious vixen has made upon her?"
"Alice, I fancy, is a sensible young woman; and Miss Sandford, in her
rage, must have shown her hand too freely. To be sure, Alice might
wonder how you could ever have been captivated; but she could not blame
you for getting out of reach of such a Tartar. Besides, the exemplary
widow is your friend, you know, and I'll warrant that she will set the
matter right. Marcia won't trouble you again; such a mischance couldn't
happen twice. You are as safe as the sailor who put his head into the
hole where a cannon-shot had just come through. Lightning doesn't strike
the same tree twice in one shower."
Greenleaf was at length persuaded to wait and let events take their
course. If he remained inactive, however, Easelmann did not; from Mrs.
Sandford he heard daily the progress of affairs, and at length intimated
to his friend that it might be judicious to call again.
Once more Greenleaf was seated in the drawing-room of the
boarding-house. At every distant footstep his heart beat almost audibly;
and when at last the breezy rustle of a woman's robes came in from the
hall, he thought, as many a man has, before and since,--
"She is coming, my life, my fate!"
She entered, not with the welcoming smile he would have liked to see,
nor with the forbidding cloud of sadness which veiled her face a few
days before. But how lovely! Time had given fulness and perfection to
her beauty, while the effect of the trials she had undergone was seen
only in the look of womanly dignity and self-control she had acquired.
It was the freshness of girlhood joined to the grace of maturity.
Nothing is more inscrutable than the working of the human will; argument
does not reach it, nor does persuasion overcome it. It holds out against
reason, against interest, against passion; no sufficient motive can be
found with which to control it. On the other hand, it sometimes stoops
in a way that defies prediction; pride is vanquished or disarmed,
resentment melts away like frost, and the resolution that at first
seemed firm as the everlasting rock proves to be no barrier. Nor is this
uncertainty confined to the sex at whose foibles the satirists have been
wont to let fly their arrows.
Feeling is deeper than thought; and as the earthquake lifts the mountain
with all the weight of its rocky strata and of the piled-up edifices
that crown its top, so there comes a time when the emotional nature
rises up and overthrows the carefully wrought structures of the
intellect, and asserts its original and supreme mastery over the soul of
Alice felt sure that every trace of her love for Greenleaf had
disappeared. She looked in her heart and saw there only the memory of
neglect and unfaithfulness. If love existed, it was as fire lurks in
ashes, unrecognized. She had conversed freely with Mrs. Sandford, and
learned that Greenleaf's version of the story was the correct one. Still
the original treason remained without apology; and she had determined
to express her regret for what had happened, to assure him of her
friendship, but to forbid any hope of reestablishing their former
relations. With this intention, she bade him good-morning and quietly
took a seat.
"I did not think that so many days would pass before I should see you;
but now that you have had time to reflect, I hope your feelings have
softened towards me."
"You mistake, if you suppose that giving me time for reflection has
produced any such change."
"Then, pray, forget the past altogether."
"I cannot forget."
"If your memory must be busy, pray, go back to the pleasanter days of
"I remember the days you speak of; I shall never forget them; but it is
a happiness that is dead and buried."
"Love will make it live again."
"It is hard to recognize love when it comes like Lazarus from the tomb."
"Still we don't read that the friends of Lazarus were displeased with
his return and wished him back to his grave-clothes."
"You can turn the comparison as you choose; but it is not necessary that
an illustration should be perfect in every respect; if one catches a
gleam of resemblance, it is enough."
The perfect command of her faculties, and the deliberate way in which
she sustained her part in the conversation, thus far, were sufficiently
disheartening to Greenleaf. He longed to change the tone, but feared to
lose all by any rapid advance. He answered deprecatingly,--"But all this
intellectual fencing, my dear Alice, is useless. Love is not a spark
to be struck out by the collision of arguments; I shall in vain try to
_reason_ you into affection for me. I have already said all I can say by
way of apology for what I have done. If there yet lingers any particle
of regard for me in your heart, I would fain revive it. If it is your
pride that withstands me, I pray you consider whether it is well to make
us both unhappy in order to maintain so poor a triumph. I am already
conquered, and throw myself upon your generosity."
"You would put me in the wrong, then, and ascribe my refusal to an
ungenerous pride? Is it generous in you to do so? Have you the right to
place such a construction upon my conduct? I appeal to you in return.
Remember, it is you who are responsible for this painful interview. I
never sought you to cover you with reproaches. You force me to say what
I would gladly leave in silence."
"Forgive me, Alice, if I wrong you; but my heart clings to you and will
not be repulsed. I would fain believe, that, beneath all your natural
resentment, there yet survives some portion of the love you once bore
to me. If it were the first time I had ever approached you, a sense of
delicacy, to say nothing of my own self-respect, would have prevented
my importuning you in this way. But my fault has given me warrant to
be bold, and if you finally cast me off,--but that is what I won't
anticipate; I can't give you up. You once loved me,--and am I not the
"No, not the same; or, rather, you have proved to be not what I
"You persist in fixing your attention upon one dark spot. Do you
remember this miniature? It has never been out of my bosom, and there
has never been but one day in which I might not loyally carry it there.
At that time, when I opened it, your eyes looked out at me with a tender
reproach, and I was instantly recalled to myself. It was only the
illusion of a moment, through which I had passed. Whatever may happen, I
have one consolation: this dear image will remind me of the love I once
possessed. I shall fold to my bosom the Alice that once was mine, and
strive to forget our estrangement."
Alice was sensibly touched by this appeal, and much more by the tone in
which it was made. In the momentary pause, Greenleaf raised his eyes and
saw the struggle in her face. He rose, came nearer, and quietly took a
seat on the sofa beside her.
"I heard you distinctly where you sat," she said, making an effort to
keep down the tumult within, and shrinking, perhaps, from the influence
of his presence.
"I wished to hear you, dear Alice, and therefore came nearer. Tell me,
are you not mistaken? You have not forgotten me: you do love me yet. Let
your heart speak; if you imprison it and force the dissembling lips to
deny me, the dear traitor will make signals: it looks out of your eyes
He seized and imprisoned her hand, and still watched the current of
feeling in her face.
"I thought myself strong enough for this," she said, tremblingly, "but I
am not. I meant only to say that we would part----friends, but that we
must part. It is not so easy to be calm, when you distract me so."
"Alice, you only deceive yourself; you love me. You have covered
the spring in your heart with snow, but the fountain still flows
Her tears could be kept back no longer; they fell not like November
rain, but rather like those sudden showers of spring from passing
clouds, while the blue sky still looks down, and rainbow smiles
transfigure the landscape.
His heart gave a mighty throb as those softly humid eyes were turned
upon him. He drew her, half consenting, still nearer. She hesitated, but
* * * * *
"Hard a-port!" shouts the master; and the helmsman, with firm hand,
holds down the wheel. Slowly the ship veers; the sails flutter and back,
the yards are swung; waves strive to head the bow off, but the rudder is
held with iron grasp; now comes the wind, the shaking sails fill with
the sudden rush, and the ship bounds on her new course over the heaving
Shall I fill out the comparison? Not for you, elders, who have seen the
struggle of "tacking ship," and have felt the ecstatic swell of delight
when it was accomplished! Not for the younger, who must learn for
themselves the seamanship that is to carry them safely over the
mysterious ocean on whose shore they have lingered and gazed and wished!
The conversation that followed it would be vain to report, even if
it were possible; for the force of ejaculations depends so much
on _tone_,--which our types do not know how to convey; and their
punctuation-marks, I fear, were such as are not in use in any
well-regulated printing-office. In due time it came to an end; and when
Greenleaf took his unwilling departure, having repeatedly said good-bye,
with the usual confirmation, he could no more remember what had been
said in that miraculous hour than a bee flying home from a garden could
tell you about the separate blossoms from which he (the Sybarite!) had
gathered his freight of flower-dust.
One thing only he heard which the wisely incurious reader will care
to know. Alice had met her cousin, Walter Monroe, the day before, had
received a proper scolding for her absurd independence, and, after a
frank settlement of the heart-question which came up on the day of her
flight, had promised at once to return to his house,--where, for the
brief remainder of our story, she is to be found. Let us wish her
joy,--and the kind, motherly aunt, also.
Greenleaf went directly to Easelmann's room, opened the door, and spread
"Have you a strawberry-mark?" he shouted.
"Then you are my long-lost brother! Come to my arms!"
Easelmann laughed long and loudly.
"Forgive my nonsense, Easelmann. I know I am beside myself and ready for
any extravagance,--I am so full of joy. I feared, in coming along the
street, that I should break out into singing, or fall to dancing, like
the Scriptural hills."
"Then you have succeeded, and the girl is yours! I forgive your stupid
old joke. You can say and do just what you like. You have a right to
be jolly, and to make a prodigious fool of yourself, if you want to. I
should like to have heard you. You were very poetical, quoted Tennyson,
fell on your knees, and perhaps blubbered a little. You _are_
sentimental, you know."
"I am happy, I know, and I don't care whether you think me sentimental
"Well, I wish you joy anyhow. Let us make a night of it. 'It is our
royal pleasure to be'--imagine the rest of the line. 'Now is the winter
of our discontent.' 'My bosom's lord sits lightly on his throne.' Come,
let us make ready, and we'll talk till
"'Night's candles are burnt out, and jocund day
Stands tiptoe on the misty'--
"misty steeple of Park-Street Church,--since we haven't any misty
mountaintops in the neighborhood."
"One would think _you_ the happy man."
"I am; your enthusiasm is so contagious that I am back in my twenties
"Why do you take your pleasure vicariously? There is Mrs. Sandford, the
charming woman; I love her, because"--
"No, Sir, not her,--one is enough."
"Then why not love her yourself? We'll make a double-barrelled shot of
it,--two couples brought down by one parson."
"Very ingenious, and economical, too; but I think not. It is too late. I
was brought up in the country, and I don't think it good policy to begin
agricultural operations in the fall of the year; my spring has past. But
is the day fixed? When are you to be the truly happy man?"
"No,--the day is not fixed," said Greenleaf, thoughtfully. "You see,
I was so bent upon the settlement of the difficulty, that I had not
considered the practical bearing of the matter. I am too poor to marry,
and I am heartsick at the prospect of waiting"--
"With the chance of another rupture."
"No,--we shall not quarrel again. But I shall go to work. I'll inundate
the town with pictures; if I can't sell them myself, I will have Jews to
peddle them for me."
"Hear the mercenary man! No,--go to work in earnest, but put your life
into your pictures. If you can keep up your present glow, you will be
warmer than Cuyp, dreamier than Claude, more imaginative than Millais."
"But the desperate long interval!"
"I don't know about that. I quite like the philosophy of Mr. Micawber,
and strenuously believe in something turning up."
"What is that?" asked Greenleaf, noticing a letter on his friend's
table. "It seems to be addressed to me."
"Yes,--I met a lawyer to-day, who asked me if I knew one George
Greenleaf. As I did, he gave me the letter. Some dun, probably, or
threat of a suit. I wouldn't open it. Don't!"
"You only make me curious. I shall open it. To-day I can defy a dun even
from--What, what's this? Bullion dead?--left in his will a bequest-forty
Easelmann looked over his friend's shoulder with well-simulated
"Sure enough; there it is, in black and white.--What do you think of
"I think," said Greenleaf, with manly tears in his eyes, "that you are
the artfullest, craftiest, hugger-muggering, dear old rascal that ever
lived. Now let me embrace you in good earnest. Oh, Easelmann, this is
too much! Here is Alice--mine! Here is Europe, that I have looked at as
I would heaven, beyond reach in this life! _Now_ we will go to work; and
let Cuyp, Claude, and the rest of them, look out for their laurels!"
"Softly, my boy; you squeeze like a cider-press. But how came the old
miser to give you this?"
"My father was his partner; he was thought to be worth a handsome sum
while he lived,--but at his death, though Bullion and another junior
went on with the business, there was nothing left for us. My mother died
poor. I am the only child living. This, I suppose, is the return for the
property that Bullion wrongfully detained,--with compound interest, too,
I should say. Let us not speak ill of the dead. He has made restitution
and squared the books; I hope the correction has been made above."
"How lucky for you that Bullion was your banker! Suppose you had grown
up with the expectation of having this money, what would you have
been good for? You would have run all to patent-leather boots, silky
moustaches, and black-tan terriers. Your struggles have developed your
muscles, metaphorically speaking, and made a man of you."
"Two sides to that question. It is true, luxury might have spoiled me,
for I am accessible to such influences; but, on the other hand, I should
have escaped some painful things. No one who has not been poor can
understand me, can know the wounds which a sensitive man must receive as
he is working his way up in the world,--wounds that leave lasting scars,
too. I am conscious of certain feelings, most discreditable, if I were
to avow them, which have been cultivated in me, and which will probably
cling to me all my days. What I have gained in hardiness I have
gained as the smith gains his strength, at the expense of symmetry,
sensibility, and grace."
"Nonsense, you mimosa! Don't curl up your leaves before you are
"But if I am a sensitive-plant, as you say, I can't help it; if I were a
burdock, I might."
"You'll get over that. By-the-by, you may as well tell Alice. I know
you will be uneasy; go, go,--but come back soon. It is jolly that she
accepted you poor; if the report had got abroad, you might have thought
she was influenced by golden reasons."
"That's because you don't know her, my cynical friend. She is incapable
of mercenary motives."
"'What female heart can gold despise?
What cat's averse to fish?'"
"Well, for an hour, good-bye. Have a good fire and the pipes ready."
"Yes, truly,--and a magnum, if my closet is not empty. The king will
drink to Hamlet."
* * * * *
Little more remains to be told. After the long period of probation, it
was not deemed necessary that the nuptials should be deferred beyond
the time necessary to make due preparation. In a month the wedding took
place at Mr. Monroe's house, Mr. Easelmann giving away the bride. I do
not say that the bachelor felt no twinges when he saw among the guests
the lovely Mrs. Sandford in her becoming white robes; in fact, he
"thought seriously," as all such people do while there remains even the
recollection of youth--but his habits were too fixed. He saw and sighed,
and that was all. However, he is on the right side of----forty, we will
call it, and there is hope for him. We may find him in some adventure
yet; if so, the reader shall assuredly know it.
In the spring, Greenleaf with his wife went abroad and took up their
residence in Rome.
"What pictures has he painted?" did you ask?
Really, Madam, a great many; but I have not the least idea of letting
you come at the name of my hero in this way. You have seen them both
here and in New York, and you thought them the productions of a rising
man,--as they are.
* * * * *
Our friend Monroe is now a partner in the house of Lindsay & Co. He
makes frequent visits to the villa at Brookline, and is always welcome.
Mr. Lindsay considers him a most sensible and worthy young man, and his
daughter Clara has implicit confidence in his judgment of literature as
well as in his taste for pictures. One fine day last summer, Mrs. Monroe
was prevailed upon, after some weeks of solicitation, to get into a
carriage and take a drive with her son. "She's a nice girl," said the
mother, fervently, on their return; "and if you _must_ marry anybody, I
don't think you can do better." Walter's smile showed that he thought
so too, although the alternative was hardly so painful as she seemed to
consider it,--from which we infer that his relations with the senior
partner of the house have become, or will be, still more intimate.
Mrs. Sandford has left Boston and gone to live with her relatives some
fifty miles distant;--the place Mr. Easelmann can tell, as he has had
occasion to send her a few letters.
The personages of our drama are all dismissed; the curtain begins to
fall; but a voice is heard, "What became of the Bulls and Bears?" What
became of Mars and Minerva after the siege of Troy? Men die; but the
deities, infernal as well as celestial, live on. Fortunes may rise like
Satan's _chef d'oeuvre_ of architecture, may be transported from city to
city like the palace of Aladdin, or may sink into salt-water lots as did
the Cities of the Plain; success may wait upon commerce and the arts,
or desolation may cover the land; still, surviving all change, and
profiting alike by prosperity and by calamity, the secret, unfathomable
agents in all human enterprises will remain the BULLS AND BEARS.
* * * * *
Go not to Thebes. The Sphinx is there;
And thou shalt see her beauty rare,
And thee the sorcery of her smile
To read her riddle shall beguile.
Oh! woe to those who fail to read!
And woe to him who shall succeed!
For he who fails the truth to show
The terror of her wrath shall know:
But should'st thou find her mystery,
Not less is Death assured to thee;
For she shall cease, and thou shalt sigh
That she no longer is, and die.
A CHARGE WITH PRINCE RUPERT.
"Thousands were there, in darker fame that dwell,
Whose deeds some nobler poem shall adorn;
And though to me unknown, they sure fought well,
Whom Rupert led, and who were British-born."
THE MARCH. JUNE 17, 1643.
Last night the Canary wine flashed in the red Venice glasses on the
oaken tables of the hall; loud voices shouted and laughed till the
clustered hawk-bells jingled from the rafters, and the chaplain's fiddle
throbbed responsive from the wall; while the coupled stag-hounds fawned
unnoticed, and the watchful falcon whistled to himself unheard. In the
carved chairs lounged groups of revellers, dressed in scarlet, dressed
in purple, dressed in white and gold, gay with satins and ribbons,
gorgeous with glittering chains and jewelled swords: stern, manly faces,
that had been singed with powder in the Palatinate; brutal, swarthy
faces, knowing all that sack and sin could teach them; beautiful, boyish
faces, fresh from ancestral homes and high-born mothers; grave, sad
faces,--sad for undoubted tyranny, grave against the greater wrong of
disloyalty. Some were in council, some were in strife, many were in
liquor; the parson was there with useless gravity, and the jester with
superfluous folly; and in the outer hall men more plebeian drained the
brown October from pewter cans, which were beaten flat, next moment, in
hammering the loud drinking-chorus on the wall; while the clink of the
armorer still went on, repairing the old head-pieces and breastplates
which had hung untouched since the Wars of the Roses; and in the
doorway the wild Welsh recruits crouched with their scythes and their
cudgels, and muttered in their uncouth dialect, now a prayer to God; and
now a curse for their enemy.
But to-day the inner hall is empty, the stag-hounds leap in the doorway,
the chaplain prays, the maidens cluster in the windows, beneath the soft
beauty of the June afternoon. The streets of Oxford resound with many
hoofs; armed troopers are gathering beside chapel and quadrangle,
gateway and tower; the trumpeter waves his gold and crimson trappings,
and blows, "To the Standard,"--for the great flag is borne to the
front, and Rupert and his men are mustering for a night of danger
beneath that banner of "Tender and True."
With beat of drum, with clatter of hoof, and rattle of spur and
scabbard, tramping across old Magdalen Bridge, cantering down the
hill-sides, crashing through the beech-woods, echoing through the chalky
hollows, ride leisurely the gay Cavaliers. Some in new scarfs and
feathers, worthy of the "show-troop,"--others with torn laces, broken
helmets, and guilty red smears on their buff doublets;--some eager for
their first skirmish,--others weak and silent, still bandaged from the
last one;--discharging now a rattle of contemptuous shot at some closed
Puritan house, grim and stern as its master,--firing anon as noisy a
salute, as they pass some mansion where a high-born beauty dwells,--on
they ride. Leaving the towers of Oxford behind them, keeping the ancient
Roman highway, passing by the low, strong, many-gabled farmhouses, with
rustic beauties smiling at the windows and wiser fathers scowling at
the doors,--on they ride. To the Royalists, these troopers are "Prince
Robert and the hope of the nation";--to the Puritans, they are only
"Prince Robber and his company of rake-shames."
Riding great Flanders horses, a flagon swung on one side of the large
padded saddle, and a haversack on the other,--booted to the thigh,
and girded with the leathern bandoleer, supporting cartridge-box and
basket-hilted sword, they are a picturesque and a motley troop. Some
wear the embroidered buffcoat over the coat of mail, others beneath
it,--neither having yet learned that the buffcoat alone is sabre-proof
and bullet-proof also. Scantily furnished with basinet or breastplate,
pot, haqueton, cuirass, pouldron, taslets, vambraces, or cuisses,--each
with the best piece of iron he could secure when the ancestral armory
was ransacked,--they yet care little for the deficit, remembering, that,
when they first rode down the enemy at Worcester, there was not a piece
of armor on their side, while the Puritans were armed to a man. There
are a thousand horsemen under Percy and O'Neal, armed with swords,
pole-axes, and petronels; this includes Rupert's own lifeguard of chosen
men. Lord Wentworth, with Innis and Washington, leads three hundred and
fifty dragoons,--dragoons of the old model, intended to fight either
on foot or on horseback, whence the name they bear, and the emblematic
dragon which adorns their carbines. The advanced guard, or "forlorn
hope," of a hundred horse and fifty dragoons, is commanded by Will
Legge, Rupert's life-long friend and correspondent; and Herbert Lunsford
leads the infantry, "the inhuman cannibal foot," as the Puritan journals
call them. There are five hundred of these, in lightest marching order,
and carrying either pike or arquebuse,--this last being a matchlock
musket with an iron rest to support it, and a lance combined, to resist
cavalry,--the whole being called "Swine (Swedish) feathers,"--a weapon
so clumsy, that the Cavaliers say a Puritan needs two years' practice to
discharge one without winking. And over all these float flags of every
hue and purport, from the blue and gold with its loyal "_Ut rex, sit
rex_" to the ominous crimson, flaming with a lurid furnace and the
terrible motto, "_Quasi ignis conflatoris_."
And foremost rides Prince Rupert, darling of fortune and of war, with
his beautiful and thoughtful face of twenty-three, stern and bronzed
already, yet beardless and dimpled, his dark and passionate eyes, his
long love-locks drooping over costly embroidery, his graceful scarlet
cloak, his white-plumed hat, and his tall and stately form, which,
almost alone in the army, has not yet known a wound. His high-born
beauty is preserved to us forever on the canvas of Vandyck, and as the
Italians have named the artist "Il Pittore Cavalieresco," so will
this subject of his skill remain forever the ideal of Il Cavaliere
Pittoresco. And as he now rides at the head of this brilliant array, his
beautiful white dog bounds onward joyously beside him, that quadruped
renowned in the pamphlets of the time, whose snowy skin has been stained
by many a blood-drop in the desperate forays of his master, but who has
thus far escaped so safely that the Puritans believe him a familiar
spirit, and try to destroy him "by poyson and extempore prayer, which
yet hurt him no more than the plague plaster did Mr. Pym." Failing in
this, they pronounce the pretty creature to be "a divell, not a very
downright divell, but some Lapland ladye, once by nature a handsome
white ladye, now by art a handsome white dogge."
The Civil War is begun. The King has made his desperate attempt to
arrest the five members of Parliament, and been checkmated by Lucy
Carlisle. So the fatal standard was reared, ten months ago, on that
dismal day at Nottingham,--the King's arms, quartered with a bloody
hand pointing to the crown, and the red battle-flag above;--blown down
disastrously at night, replaced sadly in the morning, to wave while the
Cavaliers rallied, slowly, beneath its folds. During those long months,
the King's fortunes have had constant and increasing success,--a success
always greatest when Rupert has been nearest. And now this night-march
is made to avenge a late attack, of unaccustomed audacity, from Essex,
and to redeem the threat of Rupert to pass in one night through the
whole country held by the enemy, and beat up the most distant quarters
of the Roundheads.
THE CONDITION OF THE TIMES.
It is no easy thing to paint, with any accurate shadings, this opening
period of the English Revolution. Looking habitually, as we do, at the
maturer condition of the two great parties, we do not remember how
gradual was their formation. The characters of Cavalier and Roundhead
were not more the cause than the consequence of civil strife. There is
no such chemical solvent as war; where it finds a mingling of two
alien elements, it leaves them permanently severed. At the opening
of hostilities, the two parties were scarcely distinguishable, in
externals, from each other. Arms, costume, features, phrases, manners,
were as yet common to both sides. On the battlefield, spies could pass
undetected from one army to the other. At Edgehill, Chalgrove, and
even Naseby, men and standards were captured and rescued, through the
impossibility of distinguishing between the forces. An orange scarf, or
a piece of white paper, was the most reliable designation. True, there
was nothing in the Parliamentary army so gorgeous as Sir John Suckling's
troop in Scotland, with their white doublets and scarlet hats and
plumes; but that bright company substituted the white feather for the
red one, in 1639, and rallied no more. Yet even the Puritans came to
battle in attire which would have seemed preposterously gaudy to the
plain men of our own Revolution. The London regiment of Hollis wore
red, in imitation of the royal colors, adopted to make wounds less
conspicuous. Lord Say's regiment wore blue, in imitation of the
Covenanters, who took it from Numbers, xv. 38; Hampden's men wore green;
Lord Brooke's purple; Colonel Ballard's gray. Even the hair afforded far
less distinction than we imagine, since there is scarcely a portrait of
a leading Parliamentarian which has not a display of tresses such as
would now appear the extreme of foppery; and when the remains of Hampden
himself were disinterred within twenty-five years, the body was at first
taken for a woman's, from the exceeding length and beauty of the hair.
But every year of warfare brought a change. On the King's side, the
raiment grew more gorgeous amid misfortunes; on the Parliament's, it
became sadder with every success. The Royalists took up feathers and
oaths, in proportion as the Puritans laid them down; and as the tresses
of the Cavaliers waved more luxuriantly, the hair of the Roundheads
was more scrupulously shorn. And the same instinctive exaggeration was
constantly extending into manners and morals also. Both sides became
ostentatious; the one made the most of its dissoluteness, and the other
of its decorum. The reproachful names applied derisively to the two
parties became fixed distinctions. The word "Roundhead" was first used
early in 1642, though whether it originated with Henrietta Maria or with
David Hyde is disputed. And Charles, in his speech before the battle of
Edgehill, in October of the same year, mentioned the name "Cavalier" as
one bestowed "in a reproachful sense," and one "which our enemies have
striven to make odious."
And all social as well as moral prejudices gradually identified
themselves with this party division. As time passed on, all that was
high-born in England gravitated more and more to the royal side, while
the popular cause enlisted the Londoners, the yeomanry, and those
country-gentlemen whom Mrs. Hutchinson styled the "worsted-stocking
members." The Puritans gradually found themselves excluded from the
manorial halls, and the Cavaliers (a more inconvenient privation)
from the blacksmiths' shops. Languishing at first under aristocratic
leadership, the cause of the Parliament first became strong when the
Self-denying Ordinance abolished all that weakness. Thus the very
sincerity of the civil conflict drew the lines deeper; had the battles
been fought by mercenaries, like the contemporary Continental wars,
there would have grown up a less hearty mutual antipathy, but a far more
terrible demoralization. As it was, the character of the war was, on the
whole, a humane one; few towns were sacked or destroyed, the harvests
were bounteous and freely gathered, and the population increased during
the whole period. But the best civil war is fearfully injurious. In this
case, virtues and vices were found on both sides; and it was only the
gradual preponderance which finally stamped on each party its own
historic reputation. The Cavaliers confessed to "the vices of men,--love
of wine and women"; but they charged upon their opponents "the vices of
devils,--hypocrisy and spiritual pride." Accordingly, the two verdicts
have been recorded in the most delicate of all registers,--language. For
the Cavaliers added to the English vocabulary the word _plunder_, and
the Puritans the word _cant_.
Yet it is certain that at the outset neither of these peculiarities was
monopolized by either party. In abundant instances, the sins changed
places,--Cavaliers canted, and Puritans plundered. That is, if by cant
we understand the exaggerated use of Scripture language which originated
with the reverend gentleman of that name, it was an offence in which
both sides participated. Clarendon, reviewing the Presbyterian
discourses, quoted text against text with infinite relish. Old Judge
Jenkins, could he have persuaded the "House of Rimmon," as he called
Parliament, to hang him, would have swung the Bible triumphantly to his
neck by a ribbon, to show the unscriptural character of their doings.
Charles himself, in one of his early addresses to his army, denounced
the opposing party as "Brownists, Anabaptists, and Atheists," and in
his address to the city of London pleaded in favor of his own "godly,
learned, and painfull preachers." Every royal regiment had its chaplain,
including in the service such men as Pearson and Jeremy Taylor, and
they had prayers before battle, as regularly and seriously as their
opponents. "After solemn prayers at the head of every division, I led my
part away," wrote the virtuous Sir Bevill Grenvill to his wife, after
the battle of Bradock. Rupert, in like manner, had prayers before every
division at Marston Moor. To be sure, we cannot always vouch for the
quality of these prayers, when the chaplain happened to be out of the
way and the colonel was his substitute. "O Lord," petitioned stout Sir
Jacob Astley, at Edgehill, "thou knowest how busy I must be this day; if
I forget thee, do not thou forget me!"--after which, he rose up, crying,
"March on, boys!"
And as the Puritans had not the monopoly of prayer, so the Cavaliers did
not monopolize plunder. Of course, when civil war is once begun, such
laxity is mere matter of self-defence. If the Royalists unhorsed the
Roundheads, the latter must horse themselves again, as best they could.
If Goring "uncattled" the neighborhood of London, Major Medhope must
be ordered to "uncattle" the neighborhood of Oxford. Very possibly
individual animals were identified with the right side or the wrong
side, to be spared or confiscated in consequence;--as in modern Kansas,
during a similar condition of things, one might hear men talk of a
pro-slavery colt, or an anti-slavery cow. And the precedent being
established, each party could use the smallest excesses of the other
side to palliate the greatest of its own. No use for the King to hang
two of Rupert's men for stealing, when their commander could urge in
extenuation the plunder of the house of Lady Lucas, and the indignities
offered by the Roundheads to the Countess of Rivers. Why spare the
churches as sanctuaries for the enemy, when rumor accused that enemy
(right or wrong) of hunting cats in those same churches with hounds, or
baptizing dogs and pigs in ridicule of the consecrated altars? Setting
aside these charges as questionable, we cannot so easily dispose of
the facts which rest on actual Puritan testimony. If, even after the
Self-denying Ordinance, the "Perfect Occurrences" repeatedly report
soldiers of the Puritan army, as cashiered for drunkenness, rudeness to
women, pilfering, and defrauding innkeepers, it is inevitable to infer
that in earlier and less stringent times they did the same undetected or
unpunished. When Mrs. Hutchinson describes a portion of the soldiers on
her own side as "licentious, ungovernable wretches,"--when Sir Samuel
Luke, in his letters, depicts the glee with which his men plunder
the pockets of the slain,--when poor John Wolstenholme writes to
head-quarters that his own compatriots have seized all his hay and
horses, "so that his wife cannot serve God with the congregation but
in frosty weather,"--when Vicars in "Jehovah Jireh" exults over the
horrible maiming and butchery wrought by the troopers upon the officers'
wives and female camp-followers at Naseby,--it is useless to attribute
exaggeration to the other side. In civil war, even the humanest, there
is seldom much opening for exaggeration,--the actual horrors being
usually quite as vivid as any imaginations of the sufferers, especially
when, as in this case, the spiritual instructors preach, on the one
side, from "Curse ye Meroz," and, on the other side, from "Cursed be he
that keepeth back his sword from blood."
We mention these things, not because they are deliberately denied by
anybody, but because they are apt to be overlooked by those who take
their facts at secondhand. All this does not show that the Puritans had,
even at the outset, worse men or a cause no better; it simply shows
that war demoralizes, and that right-thinking men may easily, under its
influence, slide into rather reprehensible practices. At a later period
the evil worked its own cure, among the Puritans, and the army of
Cromwell was a moral triumph almost incredible; but at the time of which
we write, the distinction was but lightly drawn. It would be easy to go
farther and show that among the leading Parliamentary statesmen there
were gay and witty debauchees,--that Harry Marten deserved the epithet
with which Cromwell saluted him,--that Pym succeeded to the regards of
Stafford's bewitching mistress,--that Warwick was truly, as Clarendon
describes him, a profuse and generous profligate, tolerated by the
Puritans for the sake of his earldom and his bounty, at a time when
bounty was convenient and peers scarce. But it is hardly worth while
farther to demonstrate the simple and intelligible fact, that there were
faults on both sides. Neither war nor any other social phenomenon can
divide infallibly the sheep from the goats, or collect all the saints
under one set of staff-officers and all the sinners under another.
But, on the other hand, the strength of both sides, at this early day,
was in a class of serious and devoted men, who took up the sword so
sadly, in view of civil strife, that victory seemed to them almost as
terrible as defeat. In some, the scale of loyalty slightly inclined,
and they held with the King; in others, the scale of liberty, and they
served the Parliament; in both cases, with the same noble regrets at
first, merging gradually into bitter alienation afterwards. "If there
could be an expedient found to solve the punctilio of honor, I would not
be hero an hour," wrote Lord Robert Spencer to his wife, from the
camp of the Cavaliers. Sir Edmund Verney, the King's standard-bearer,
disapproved of the royal cause, and adhered to it only because he "had
eaten the King's bread." Lord Falkland, Charles's Secretary of State,
"sitting among his friends, often, after a deep silence and frequent
sighs, would, with a shriek and sad accent, ingeminate the words, Peace!
Peace!" and would prophesy for himself that death which soon came. And
these words show close approximation to the positions of men honored
among the Puritans, as when Sir William Waller wrote from his camp to
his chivalrous opponent, Sir Ralph Hopton,--"The great God, who is
the searcher of my heart, knows with what reluctance I go upon this
As time passed on, the hostility between the two parties exceeded all
bounds of courteous intercourse. The social distinction was constantly
widening, and so was the religious antagonism. Waller could be allowed
to joke with Goring and sentimentalize with Hopton,--for Waller was a
gentleman, though a rebel; but it was a different thing when the Puritan
gentlemen were seen to be gradually superseded by Puritan clowns.
Strafford had early complained of "your Prynnes, Pims, and Bens, with
the rest of that generation of odd names and natures." But what were
these to the later brood, whose plebeian quality Mr. Buckle has so
laboriously explored,--Goffe the grocer and Whalley the tailor, Pride
the drayman and Venner the cooper, culminating at last in Noll Cromwell
the brewer? The formidable force of these upstarts only embittered
the aversion. If odious when vanquished, what must they have been as
victors? For if it be disagreeable to find a foeman unworthy of your
steel, it is much more unpleasant when your steel turns out unworthy of
the foeman; and if sad-colored Puritan raiment looked absurd upon the
persons of fugitives, it must have been very particularly unbecoming
when worn by conquerors.
And the growing division was constantly aggravated by very acid satire.
The Court, it must be remembered, was more than half French in its
general character and tone, and every Frenchman of that day habitually
sneered at every Englishman as dull and inelegant. The dazzling wit that
flashed for both sides in the French civil wars flashed for one only in
the English; the Puritans had no comforts of that kind, save in some
caustic repartee from Harry Marten, or some fearless sarcasm from Lucy
Carlisle. But the Cavaliers softened labor and sweetened care with their
little jokes. It was rather consoling to cover some ignominious retreat
with a new epigram on Cromwell's red nose, that irresistible member
which kindled in its day as much wit as Bardolph's,--to hail it as "Nose
Immortal," a beacon, a glow-worm, a bird of prey,--to make it stand as a
personification of the rebel cause, till even the stately Montrose asked
newcomers from England, "How is Oliver's nose?" It was very entertaining
to christen the Solemn League and Covenant "the constellation on the
back of Aries," because most of the signers could only make their marks
on the little bits of sheepskin circulated for that purpose. It was
quite lively to rebaptize Rundway Down as Run-away-down, after a royal
victory, and to remark how Hazlerig's regiment of "lobsters" turned to
crabs, on that occasion, and crawled backwards. But all these pleasant
follies became whips to scourge them, at last,--shifting suddenly into
very grim earnest when the Royalists themselves took to running away,
with truculent saints, in steeple-hats, behind them.
Oxford was the stronghold of the Cavaliers, in these times, as that
of the Puritans was London. The Court itself (though here we are
anticipating a little) was transferred to the academic city. Thither
came Henrietta Maria, with what the pamphleteers called "her
Rattle-headed Parliament of Ladies," the beautiful Duchess of Richmond,
the merry Mrs. Kirke, and brave Kate D'Aubigny. In Merton College the
Queen resided; at Oriel the Privy Council was held; at Christ Church
the King and Rupert were quartered; and at All Souls Jeremy Taylor was
writing his beautiful meditations, in the intervals of war. In the New
College quadrangle, the students were drilled to arms "in the eye of
Doctor Pink," while Mars and Venus kept undisturbed their ancient reign,
although transferred to the sacred precincts of Magdalen. And amidst the
passion and the pomp, the narrow streets would suddenly ring with the
trumpet of some foam-covered scout, bringing tidings of perilous
deeds outside; while some traitorous spy was being hanged, drawn, and
quartered in some other part of the city, for betraying the secrets of
the Court. And forth from the outskirts of Oxford rides Rupert on the
day we are to describe, and we must still protract our pause a little
longer to speak of him.
Prince Rupert, Prince Robert, or Prince Robber,--for by all these names
was he known,--was the one formidable military leader on the royal side.
He was not a statesman, for he was hardly yet a mature man; he was
not, in the grandest sense, a hero, yet he had no quality that was not
heroic. Chivalrous, brilliant, honest, generous,--neither dissolute, nor
bigoted, nor cruel,--he was still a Royalist for the love of royalty,
and a soldier for the love of war, and in civil strife there can hardly
be a more dangerous character. Through all the blunt periods of his
military or civil proclamations, we see the proud, careless boy,
fighting for fighting sake, and always finding his own side the right
one. He could not have much charity for the most generous opponents; he
certainly had none at all for those who (as he said) printed malicious
and lying pamphlets against him "almost every morning," in which he
found himself saluted as a "nest of perfidious vipers," "a night-flying
dragon prince," "a flapdragon," "a caterpillar," "a spider," and "a
He was the King's own nephew,--great-grandson of William the Silent, and
son of that Elizabeth Stuart from whom all the modern royal family of
England descends. His sister was the renowned Princess Palatine, the
one favorite pupil of Descartes, and the chosen friend of Leibnitz,
Malebranche, and William Penn. From early childhood he was trained to
war; we find him at fourteen pronounced by his tutors fit to command
an army,--at fifteen, bearing away the palm in one of the last of the
tournaments,--at sixteen, fighting beside the young Turenne in the Low
Countries,--at nineteen, heading the advanced guard in the army of the
Prince of Orange,--and at twenty-three, appearing in England, the day
before the Royal Standard was reared, and the day after the King lost
Coventry, because Wilmot, not Rupert, was commander of the horse.
This training made him a general,--not, as many have supposed, a mere
cavalry-captain;--he was one of the few men who have shown great
military powers on both land and sea; he was a man of energy unbounded,
industry inexhaustible, and the most comprehensive and systematic
forethought. It was not merely, that, as Warwick said, "he put that
spirit into the King's army that all men seemed resolved,"--not merely,
that, always charging at the head of his troops, he was never wounded,
and that, seeing more service than any of his compeers, he outlived them
all. But even in these early years, before he was generalissimo, the
Parliament deliberately declared the whole war to be "managed by his
skill, labor, and industry," and his was the only name habitually
printed in capitals in the Puritan newspapers. He had to create soldiers
by enthusiasm, and feed them by stratagem,--to toil for a king
who feared him, and against a queen who hated him,--to take vast
responsibilities alone,--accused of negligence, if he failed, reproached
with license, if he succeeded. Against him he had the wealth of London,
intrusted to men who were great diplomatists, though new to power, and
great soldiers, though they had never seen a battle-field till middle
life; on his side he had only unmanageable lords and penniless
gentlemen, who gained victories by daring, and then wasted them by
license. His troops had no tents, no wagons, no military stores; they
used those of the enemy. Clarendon says, that the King's cause labored
under an incurable disease of want of money, and that the only cure for
starvation was a victory. To say, therefore, that Rupert's men never
starved is to say that they always conquered,--which, at this early
period, was true.
He was the best shot in the army, and the best tennis-player among the
courtiers, and Pepys calls him "the boldest attacker in England for
personal courage." Seemingly without reverence or religion, he yet
ascribed his defeats to Satan, and, at the close of a letter about a
marauding expedition, requested his friend Will Legge to pray for him.
Versed in all the courtly society of the age, chosen interpreter for the
wooing of young Prince Charles and La Grande Mademoiselle, and mourning
in purple, with the royal family, for Marie de Medicis, he could yet
mingle in any conceivable company and assume any part. He penetrated the
opposing camp at Dunsmore Heath as an apple-seller, and the hostile town
of Warwick as a dealer in cabbage-nets, and the pamphleteers were never
weary of describing his disguises. He was charged with all manner of
offences, even to slaying children with cannibal intent, and only very
carelessly disavowed such soft impeachments. But no man could deny that
he was perfectly true to his word; he never forgot one whom he had
promised to protect, and, if he had promised to strip a man's goods, he
did it to the uttermost farthing. And so must his pledge of vengeance
be redeemed to-night; and so, riding eastward, with the dying sunlight
behind him and the quiet Chiltern hills before, through air softened by
the gathering coolness of these midsummer eyes, beside clover fields,
and hedges of wild roses, and ponds white with closing water-lilies, and
pastures sprinkled with meadow-sweet, like foam,--he muses only of the
clash of sword and the sharp rattle of shot, and all the passionate joys
of the coming charge.
The long and picturesque array winds onward, crossing Chiselhampton
Bridge, (not to be re-crossed so easily,) avoiding Thame with its church
and abbey, where Lord-General Essex himself is quartered, unconscious of
their march; and the Cavaliers are soon riding beneath the bases of
the wooded hills towards Postcombe. Near Tetsworth, the enemy's first
outpost, they halt till evening; the horsemen dismount, the flagon and
the foraging-bag are opened, the black-jack and the manchet go round,
healths are drunk to successes past and glories future, to "Queen Mary's
eyes," and to "Prince Rupert's dog." A few hours bring darkness; they
move on eastward through the lanes, avoiding, when possible, the Roman
highways; they are sometimes fired upon by a picket, but make no return,
for they are hurrying past the main quarters of the enemy. In the
silence of the summer night, they stealthily ride miles and miles
through a hostile country, the renegade Urry guiding them. At early
dawn, they see, through the misty air, the low hamlet of Postcombe,
where the "beating up of the enemy's quarters" is to begin. A hurried
word of command; the infantry halt; the cavalry close, and sweep down
like night-hawks upon the sleeping village,--safe, one would have
supposed it, with the whole Parliamentary army lying between it and
Oxford, to protect from danger. Yet the small party of Puritan troopers
awake in their quarters with Rupert at the door; it is well for
them that they happen to be picked men, and have promptness, if not
vigilance; forming hastily, they secure a retreat westward through the
narrow street, leaving but few prisoners behind them. As hastily the
prisoners are swept away with the stealthy troop, who have other work
before them; and before half the startled villagers have opened their
lattices the skirmish is over. Long before they can send a messenger up,
over the hills, to sound the alarm-bells of Stoken Church, the swift
gallop of the Cavaliers has reached Chinnor, two miles away, and the
goal of their foray. The compact, strongly-built village is surrounded.
They form a parallel line behind the houses, on each side, leaping
fences and ditches to their posts. They break down the iron chains
stretched nightly across each end of the street, and line it from end to
end. Rupert, Will Legge, and the "forlorn hope," dismounting, rush in
upon the quarters, sparing those alone who surrender.
In five minutes the town is up. The awakened troopers fight as
desperately as their assailants, some on foot, some on horseback. More
and more of Rupert's men rush in; they fight through the straggling
street of the village, from the sign of the Ram at one end to that of
the Crown at the other, and then back again. The citizens join against
the invaders, the 'prentices rush from their attics, hasty barricades
of carts and harrows are formed in the streets, long musket-barrels are
thrust from the windows, dark groups cluster on the roofs, and stones
begin to rattle on the heads below, together with phrases more galling
than stones, hurled down by women, "cursed dogs," "devilish Cavaliers,"
"Papist traitors." In return, the intruders shoot at the windows
indiscriminately, storm the doors, fire the houses; they grow more
furious, and spare nothing; some towns-people retreat within the
church-doors; the doors are beaten in; women barricade them with
wool-packs, and fight over them with muskets, barrel to barrel. Outside,
the troopers ride round and round the town, seizing or slaying all who
escape; within, desperate men still aim from their windows, though the
houses each side are in flames. Melting lead pours down from the blazing
roofs, while the drum still beats and the flag still goes on. It is
struck down presently; tied to a broken pike-staff, it rises again,
while a chaos of armor and plumes, black and orange, blue and red, torn
laces and tossing feathers, powder-stains and blood-stains, fills the
dewy morning with terror, and opens the June Sunday with sin.
Threescore and more of the towns-people are slain, sixscore are led
away at the horses' sides, bound with ropes, to be handed over to
the infantry for keeping. Some of these prisoners, even of the armed
troopers, are so ignorant and unwarlike as yet, that they know not the
meaning of the word "quarter," refusing it when offered, and imploring
"mercy" instead. Others are little children, for whom a heavy ransom
shall yet be paid. Others, cheaper prisoners, are ransomed on the spot.
Some plunder has also been taken, but the soldiers look longingly on
the larger wealth that must be left behind, in the hurry of
retreat,--treasures that, otherwise, no trooper of Rupert's would have
spared: scarlet cloth, bedding, saddles, cutlery, ironware, hats, shoes,
hops for beer, and books to sell to the Oxford scholars. But the daring
which has given them victory now makes their danger;--they have been
nearly twelve hours in the saddle and have fought two actions; they have
twenty-five miles to ride, with the whole force of the enemy in their
path; they came unseen in the darkness, they must return by daylight and
with the alarm already given; Stoken Church-bell has been pealing for
hours, the troop from Postcombe has fallen back on Tetsworth, and
everywhere in the distance videttes are hurrying from post to post.
The perilous retreat begins. Ranks are closed; they ride silently; many
a man leads a second horse beside him, and one bears in triumph the
great captured Puritan standard, with its five buff Bibles on a black
ground. They choose their course more carefully than ever, seek the
by-lanes, and swim the rivers with their swords between their teeth. At
one point, in their hushed progress, they hear the sound of rattling
wagons. There is a treasure-train within their reach, worth twenty-one
thousand pounds, and destined for the Parliamentary camp, but the thick
woods of the Chilterns have sheltered it from pursuit, and they have
not a moment to waste; they are riding for their lives. Already the
gathering parties of Roundheads are closing upon them, nearer and
nearer, as they approach the most perilous point of the wild expedition,
their only return-path across the Cherwell, Chiselhampton Bridge. Percy
and O'Neal with difficulty hold the assailants in check; the case grows
desperate at last, and Rupert stands at bay on Chalgrove Field.
It is Sunday morning, June 18th, 1643. The early church-bells are
ringing over all Oxfordshire,--dying away in the soft air, among the
sunny English hills, while Englishmen are drawing near each other with
hatred in their hearts,--dying away, as on that other Sunday, eight
months ago, when Baxter, preaching near Edgehill, heard the sounds of
battle, and disturbed the rest of his saints by exclaiming, "To the
fight!" But here there are no warrior-preachers, no bishops praying in
surplices on the one side, no dark-robed divines preaching on horseback
on the other, no king in glittering armor, no Tutor Harvey in peaceful
meditation beneath a hedge, pondering on the circulation of the blood,
with hotter blood flowing so near him; all these were to be seen at
Edgehill, but not here. This smaller skirmish rather turns our thoughts
to Cisatlantic associations; its date suggests Bunker's Hill,--and its
circumstances, Lexington. For this, also, is a marauding party, with a
Percy among its officers, brought to a stand by a half-armed and angry
Rupert sends his infantry forward, to secure the bridge, and a
sufficient body of dragoons to line the mile-and-a-half of road
between,--the remainder of the troops being drawn up at the entrance of
a corn-field, several hundred acres in extent, and lying between the
villages and the hills. The Puritans take a long circuit, endeavoring to
get to windward of their formidable enemy,--a point judged as important,
during the seventeenth century, in a land fight as in a naval
engagement. They have with them some light field-pieces, artillery
being the only point of superiority they yet claim; but these are not
basilisks, nor falconets, nor culverins, (_colubri_, _couleuvres_,) nor
drakes, (_dracones_,) nor warning-pieces,--they are the leathern guns
of Gustavus Adolphus, made of light cast-iron and bound with ropes and
leather. The Roundhead dragoons, dismounted, line a hedge near the
Cavaliers, and plant their "swine-feathers"; under cover of their fire
the horse advance in line, matches burning. As they advance, one or two
dash forward, at risk of their lives, flinging off the orange scarfs
which alone distinguish them, in token that they desert to the royal
cause. Prince Rupert falls back into the lane a little, to lead the
other forces into his ambush of dragoons. These tactics do not come
naturally to him, however; nor does he like the practice of the time,
that two bodies of cavalry should ride up within pistol-shot of each
other, and exchange a volley before they charge. He rather anticipates,
in his style of operations, the famous order of Frederick the Great:
"The King hereby forbids all officers of cavalry, on pain of being broke
with ignominy, ever to allow themselves to be attacked in any action by
the enemy; but the Prussians must always attack them." Accordingly he
restrains himself for a little while, chafing beneath the delay, and
then, a soldier or two being suddenly struck down by the fire, he
exclaims, "Yea! this insolency is not to be endured." The moment is
"God and Queen Mary!" shouts Rupert; "Charge!" In one instant that mass
of motionless statues becomes a flood of lava; down in one terrible
sweep it comes, silence behind it and despair before; no one notices the
beauty of that brilliant chivalrous array,--all else is merged in the
fury of the wild gallop; spurs are deep, reins free, blades grasped,
heads bent; the excited horse feels the heel no more than he feels the
hand; the uneven ground breaks their ranks,--no matter, they feel that
they can ride down the world: Rupert first clears the hedge,--he is
always first,--then comes the captain of his lifeguard, then the
whole troop "jumble after them," in a spectator's piquant phrase. The
dismounted Puritan dragoons break from the hedges and scatter for their
lives, but the cavalry "bear the charge better than they have done since
Worcester,"--that is, now they stand it an instant, then they did not
stand it at all; the Prince takes them in flank and breaks them in
pieces at the first encounter,--the very wind of the charge shatters
them. Horse and foot, carbines and petronels, swords and pole-axes, are
mingled in one struggling mass. Rupert and his men seem refreshed, not
exhausted, by the weary night,--they seem incapable of fatigue; they
spike the guns as they cut down the gunners, and, if any escape, it
is because many in both armies wear the same red scarfs. One Puritan,
surrounded by the enemy, shows such desperate daring that Rupert bids
release him at last, and sends afterwards to Essex to ask his name.
One Cavalier bends, with a wild oath, to search the pockets of a slain
enemy;--it is his own brother. O'Neal slays a standard-bearer, and thus
restores to his company the right to bear a flag, a right they lost at
Hopton Heath; Legge is taken prisoner and escapes; Urry proves himself
no coward, though a renegade, and is trusted to bear to Oxford the news
of the victory, being raised to knighthood in return.
For a victory of course it is. Nothing in England can yet resist these
high-born, dissolute, reckless Cavaliers of Rupert's. "I have seen them
running up walls twenty feet high," said the engineer consulted by the
frightened citizens of Dorchester: "these defences of yours may possibly
keep them out half an hour." Darlings of triumphant aristocracy, they
are destined to meet with no foe that can match them, until they recoil
at last before the plebeian pikes of the London train-bands. Nor can
even Rupert's men claim to monopolize the courage of the King's party.
The brilliant "show-troop" of Lord Bernard Stuart, comprising the young
nobles having no separate command,--a troop which could afford to
indulge in all the gorgeousness of dress, since their united incomes,
Clarendon declares, would have exceeded those of the whole Puritan
Parliament,--led, by their own desire, the triumphant charge at
Edgehill, and threescore of their bodies were found piled on the spot
where the Royal Standard was captured and rescued. Not less faithful
were the Marquis of Newcastle's "Lambs," who took their name from the
white woollen clothing which they refused to have dyed, saying that
their hearts' blood would dye it soon enough; and so it did: only thirty
survived the battle of Marston Moor, and the bodies of the rest were
found in the field, ranked regularly, side by side, in death as in life.
But here at Chalgrove Field no such fortitude of endurance is needed;
the enemy are scattered, and, as Rupert's Cavaliers are dashing on, in
their accustomed headlong pursuit, a small, but fresh force of Puritan
cavalry appears behind the hedges and charges on them from the
right,--two troops, hastily gathered, and in various garb. They are
headed by a man in middle life and of noble aspect: once seen, he cannot
easily be forgotten; but seen he will never be again, and, for the last
time, Rupert and Hampden meet face to face.
The foremost representative men of their respective parties, they
scarcely remember, perhaps, that there are ties and coincidences in
their lives. At the marriage of Rupert's mother, the student Hampden was
chosen to write the Oxford epithalamium, exulting in the prediction of
some noble offspring to follow such a union. Rupert is about to be made
General-in-chief of the Cavaliers; Hampden is looked to by all as the
future General-in-chief of the Puritans. Rupert is the nephew of the
King,--Hampden the cousin of Cromwell; and as the former is believed
to be aiming at the Crown, so the latter is the only possible rival of
Cromwell for the Protectorate,--"the eyes of all being fixed upon him as
their _pater patriae_." But in all the greater qualities of manhood, how
far must Hampden be placed above the magnificent and gifted Rupert! In
a congress of natural noblemen--for such do the men of the Commonwealth
appear--he must rank foremost. It is difficult to avoid exaggeration in
speaking of these men,--men whose deeds vindicate their words, and whose
words are unsurpassed by Greek or Roman fame,--men whom even Hume can
only criticize for a "mysterious jargon" which most of them did not use,
and for a "vulgar hypocrisy" which few of them practised. Let us not
underrate the self-forgetting loyalty of the Royalists,--the Duke of
Newcastle laying at the King's feet seven hundred thousand pounds,
and the Marquis of Worcester a million; but the sublimer poverty and
abstinence of the Parliamentary party deserve a yet loftier meed,--Vane
surrendering an office of thirty thousand pounds a year to promote
public economy,--Hutchinson refusing a peerage and a fortune as a bribe
to hold Nottingham Castle a little while for the King,--Eliot and Pym
bequeathing their families to the nation's justice, having spent their
all for the good cause. And rising to yet higher attributes, as they
pass before us in the brilliant paragraphs of the courtly Clarendon, or
the juster modern estimates of Forster, it seems like a procession of
born sovereigns; while the more pungent epithets of contemporary wit
only familiarize, but do not mar, the fame of Cromwell, (Cleaveland's
"Caesar in a Clown,")--"William the Conqueror" Waller,--"young Harry"
Vane,--"fiery Tom" Fairfax,--and "King Pym." But among all these there
is no peer of Hampden, of him who came not from courts or camps, but
from the tranquil study of his Davila, from that thoughtful retirement
which was for him, as for his model, Coligny, the school of all noble
virtues,--came to find himself at once a statesman and a soldier,
receiving from his contemporary, Clarendon, no affectionate critic, the
triple crown of historic praise, as being "the most able, resolute, and
popular person in the kingdom." Who can tell how changed the destiny of
England, had the Earl of Bedford's first compromise with the country
party succeeded, and Hampden become the tutor of Prince Charles,--or
could this fight at Chalgrove Field issue differently, and Hampden
survive to be general instead of Essex, and Protector in place of
But that may not be. Had Hampden's earlier counsels prevailed, Rupert
never would have ventured on his night foray; had his next suggestions
been followed, Rupert never would have returned from it. Those
failing, Hampden has come, gladly followed by Gunter and his dragoons,
outstripping the tardy Essex, to dare all and die. In vain does Gunter
perish beside his flag; in vain does Crosse, his horse being killed
under him, spring in the midst of battle on another; in vain does "that
great-spirited little Sir Samuel Luke" (the original of Hudibras) get
thrice captured and thrice escape. For Hampden, the hope of the nation,
is fatally shot through the shoulder with two carbine-balls, in the
first charge; the whole troop sees it with dismay; Essex comes up, as
usual, too late, and the fight at Chalgrove Field is lost.
We must leave this picture, painted in the fading colors of a far-off
time. Let us leave the noble Hampden, weak and almost fainting, riding
calmly from the field, and wandering away over his own Chiltern meadows,
that he loves so well,--leave him, drooping over his saddle, directing
his horse first towards his father-in-law's house at Pyrton, where once
he wedded his youthful bride, then turning towards Thame, and mustering
his last strength to leap his tired steed across its boundary brook. A
few days of laborious weakness, spent in letter-writing to urge upon
Parliament something of that military energy which, if earlier adopted,
might have saved his life,--and we see a last, funereal procession
winding beneath the Chiltern hills, and singing the 90th Psalm as the
mourners approach the tomb of the Hampdens, and the 43d as they return.
And well may the "Weekly Intelligencer" say of him, (June 27, 1643,)
that "the memory of this deceased Colonel is such that in no age to
come but it will more and more be had in honor and esteem; a man so
religious, and of that prudence, judgment, temper, valor, and integrity,
that he hath left few his like behind him."
And we must leave Rupert to his career of romantic daring, to be made
President of Wales and Generalissimo of the army,--to rescue with
unequalled energy Newark and York and the besieged heroine of Lathom
House,--to fight through Newbury and Marston Moor and Naseby, and many a
lesser field,--to surrender Bristol and be acquitted by court-martial,
but hopelessly condemned by the King;--then to leave the kingdom,
refusing a passport, and fighting his perilous way to the seaside;--then
to wander over the world for years, astonishing Dutchmen by his
seamanship, Austrians by his soldiership, Spaniards and Portuguese by
his buccaneering powers, and Frenchmen by his gold and diamonds and
birds and monkeys and "richly-liveried Blackamoors";--then to reorganize
the navy of England, exchanging characters with his fellow-commander,
Monk, whom the ocean makes rash, as it makes Rupert prudent;--leave him
to use nobly his declining years, in studious toils in Windsor Castle,
the fulfilment of Milton's dream, outwatching the Bear with thrice-great
Hermes, surrounded by strange old arms and instruments, and maps of
voyages, and plans of battles, and the abstruse library which the
"Harleian Miscellany" still records;--leave him to hunt and play at
tennis, serve in the Hudson's Bay Company and the Board of Trade;--leave
him to experiment in alchemy and astrology, in hydraulics, metallurgy,
gunpowder, perspective, quadrants, mezzotint, fish-hooks, and
revolvers;--leave him to look from his solitary turret over hills and
fields, now peaceful, but each the scene of some wild and warlike memory
for him;--leave him to die a calm and honored death at sixty-three,
outliving every companion of his early days. The busy world, which has
no time to remember many, forgets him and remembers only the slain and
defeated Hampden. The brilliant renown of the Prince was like the glass
toys which record his ingenuity and preserve his name; the hammer and
the anvil can scarcely mar them, yet a slight pressure of the finger,
in the fatal spot, will burst them into glittering showers of dust. The
full force of those iron times beat ineffectual upon Rupert;--Death
touched him, and that shining fame sparkled and was shattered forever.
* * * * *
Ah! my beautiful violets,
Stirring under the sod,
Feeling, in all your being,
The breath of the spirit of God
Thrilling your delicate pulses,
Warming your life-blood anew,--
Struggle up into the Spring-light;
I'm watching and waiting for you.
Stretch up your white arms towards me,
Climb and never despair;
Come! the blue sky is above you,
Sunlight and soft warm air.
Shake off the sleep from your eyelids,
Work in the darkness awhile,
Trust in the light that's above you,
Win your way up to its smile.
Ah! do you know how the May-flowers,
Down on the shore of the lake.
Are whispering, one to another,
All in the silence, "Awake!"
Blushing from under the pine-leaves,
Soon they will greet me anew,--
But still, oh, my beautiful violets,
I'll be watching and longing for you.
THE STEREOSCOPE AND THE STEREOGRAPH.
Democritus of Abdera, commonly known as the Laughing Philosopher,
probably because he did not consider the study of truth inconsistent
with a cheerful countenance, believed and taught that all bodies were
continually throwing off certain images like themselves, which subtile
emanations, striking on our bodily organs, gave rise to our sensations.
Epicurus borrowed the idea from him, and incorporated it into the famous
system, of which Lucretius has given us the most popular version. Those
who are curious on the matter will find the poet's description at the
beginning of his fourth book. Forms, effigies, membranes, or _films_,
are the nearest representatives of the terms applied to these
effluences. They are perpetually shed from the surfaces of solids, as
bark is shed by trees. _Cortex_ is, indeed, one of the names applied to
them by Lucretius.
These evanescent films may be seen in one of their aspects in any clear,
calm sheet of water, in a mirror, in the eye of an animal by one who
looks at it in front, but better still by the consciousness behind the
eye in the ordinary act of vision. They must be packed like the leaves
of a closed book; for suppose a mirror to give an image of an object a
mile off, it will give one at every point less than a mile, though this
were subdivided into a million parts. Yet the images will not be the
same; for the one taken a mile off will be very small, at half a mile as
large again, at a hundred feet fifty times as large, and so on, as long
as the mirror can contain the image.
Under the action of light, then, a body makes its superficial aspect
potentially present at a distance, becoming appreciable as a shadow or
as a picture. But remove the cause,--the body itself,--and the effect is
removed. The man beholdeth himself in the glass and goeth his way, and
straightway both the mirror and the mirrored forget what manner of man
he was. These visible films or membranous _exuviae_ of objects, which
the old philosophers talked about, have no real existence, separable
from their illuminated source, and perish instantly when it is
If a man had handed a metallic speculum to Democritus of Abdera, and
told him to look at his face in it while his heart was beating thirty
or forty times, promising that one of the films his face was shedding
should stick there, so that neither he, nor it, nor anybody should
forget what manner of man he was, the Laughing Philosopher would
probably have vindicated his claim to his title by an explosion that
would have astonished the speaker.
This is just what the Daguerreotype has done. It has fixed the most
fleeting of our illusions, that which the apostle and the philosopher
and the poet have alike used as the type of instability and unreality.
The photograph has completed the triumph, by making a sheet of paper
reflect images like a mirror and hold them as a picture.
This triumph of human ingenuity is the most audacious, remote,
improbable, incredible,--the one that would seem least likely to be
regained, if all traces of it were lost, of all the discoveries man has
made. It has become such an everyday matter with us, that we forget its
miraculous nature, as we forget that of the sun itself, to which we owe
the creations of our new art. Yet in all the prophecies of dreaming
enthusiasts, in all the random guesses of the future conquests over
matter, we do not remember any prediction of such an inconceivable
wonder, as our neighbor round the corner, or the proprietor of the small
house on wheels, standing on the village common, will furnish any of us
for the most painfully slender remuneration. No Century of Inventions
includes this among its possibilities. Nothing but the vision of a
Laputan, who passed his days in extracting sunbeams out of cucumbers,
could have reached such a height of delirium as to rave about the time
when a man should paint his miniature by looking at a blank tablet, and
a multitudinous wilderness of forest foliage or an endless Babel of
roofs and spires stamp itself, in a moment, so faithfully and so
minutely, that one may creep over the surface of the picture with his
microscope and find every leaf perfect, or read the letters of distant
signs, and see what was the play at the "Varietes" or the "Victoria,"
on the evening of the day when it was taken, just as he would sweep the
real view with a spy-glass to explore all that it contains.
Some years ago, we sent a page or two to one of the magazines,--the
"Knickerbocker," if we remember aright,--in which the story was told
from the "Arabian Nights," of the three kings' sons, who each wished to
obtain the hand of a lovely princess, and received for answer, that he
who brought home the most wonderful object should obtain the lady's hand
as his reward. Our readers, doubtless, remember the original tale, with
the flying carpet, the tube which showed what a distant friend was
doing by looking into it, and the apple which gave relief to the
most desperate sufferings only by inhalation of its fragrance. The
railroad-car, the telegraph, and the apple-flavored chloroform could and
do realize, every day,--as was stated in the passage referred to, with
a certain rhetorical amplitude not doubtfully suggestive of the
lecture-room,--all that was fabled to have been done by the carpet, the
tube, and the fruit of the Arabian story.
All these inventions force themselves upon us to the full extent of
their significance. It is therefore hardly necessary to waste any
considerable amount of rhetoric upon wonders that are so thoroughly
appreciated. When human art says to each one of us, I will give you
ears that can hear a whisper in New Orleans, and legs that can walk six
hundred miles in a day, and if, in consequence of any defect of rail
or carriage, you should be so injured that your own very insignificant
walking members must be taken off, I can make the surgeon's visit a
pleasant dream for you, on awaking from which you will ask when he
is coming to do that which he has done already,--what is the use of
poetical or rhetorical amplification? But this other invention of _the
mirror with a memory_, and especially that application of it which has
given us the wonders of the stereoscope, is not so easily, completely,
universally recognized in all the immensity of its applications and
suggestions. The stereoscope, and the pictures it gives, are, however,
common enough to be in the hands of many of our readers; and as many of
those who are not acquainted with it must before long become as familiar
with it as they are now with friction-matches, we feel sure that a few
pages relating to it will not be unacceptable.
Our readers may like to know the outlines of the process of making
daguerreotypes and photographs, as just furnished us by Mr. Whipple, one
of the most successful operators in this country. We omit many of those
details which are everything to the practical artist, but nothing to
the general reader. We must premise, that certain substances undergo
chemical alterations, when exposed to the light, which produce a change
of color. Some of the compounds of silver possess this faculty to a
remarkable degree,--as the common indelible marking-ink, (a solution of
nitrate of silver,) which soon darkens in the light, shows us every day.
This is only one of the innumerable illustrations of the varied effects
of light on color. A living plant owes its brilliant hues to the
sunshine; but a dead one, or the tints extracted from it, will fade
in the same rays which clothe the tulip in crimson and gold,--as our
lady-readers who have rich curtains in their drawing-rooms know full
well. The sun, then, is a master of _chiaroscuro_, and, if he has a
living petal for his pallet, is the first of colorists.--Let us walk
into his studio, and examine some of his painting machinery.
* * * * *
1. THE DAGUERREOTYPE.--A silver-plated sheet of copper is resilvered by
electro-plating, and perfectly polished. It is then exposed in a glass
box to the vapor of iodine until its surface turns to a golden yellow.
Then it is exposed in another box to the fumes of the bromide of lime
until it becomes of a blood-red tint. Then it is exposed once more, for
a few seconds, to the vapor of iodine. The plate is now sensitive to
light, and is of course kept from it, until, having been placed in the
darkened camera, the screen is withdrawn and the camera-picture falls
upon it. In strong light, and with the best instruments, _three
seconds'_ exposure is enough,--but the time varies with circumstances.
The plate is now withdrawn and exposed to the vapor of mercury at 212 deg..
Where the daylight was strongest, the sensitive coating of the plate has
undergone such a chemical change, that the mercury penetrates readily to
the silver, producing a minute white granular deposit upon it, like
a very thin fall of snow, drifted by the wind. The strong lights are
little heaps of these granules, the middle lights thinner sheets of
them; the shades are formed by the dark silver itself, thinly sprinkled
only, as the earth shows with a few scattered snow-flakes on its
surface. The precise chemical nature of these granules we care less
for than their palpable presence, which may be perfectly made out by a
microscope magnifying fifty diameters or even less.
The picture thus formed would soon fade under the action of light, in
consequence of further changes in the chemical elements of the film
of which it consists. Some of these elements are therefore removed by
washing it with a solution of hyposulphite of soda, after which it is
rinsed with pure water. It is now permanent in the light, but a touch
wipes off the picture as it does the bloom from a plum. To fix it, a
solution of hyposulphite of soda containing chloride of gold is poured
on the plate while this is held over a spirit-lamp. It is then again
rinsed with pure water, and is ready for its frame.
2. THE PHOTOGRAPH.--Just as we must have a mould before we can make a
cast, we must get a _negative_ or reversed picture on glass before we
can get our positive or natural picture. The first thing, then, is to
lay a sensitive coating on a piece of glass,--crown-glass, which has a
natural surface, being preferable to plate-glass. _Collodion_, which is
a solution of gun-cotton in alcohol and ether, mingled with a solution
of iodide and bromide of potassium, is used to form a thin coating over
the glass. Before the plate is dry, it is dipped into a solution of
nitrate of silver, where it remains from one to three or four minutes.
Here, then, we have essentially the same chemical elements that we
have seen employed in the daguerreotype,--namely, iodine, bromine, and
silver; and by their mutual reactions in the last process we have formed
the sensitive iodide and bromide of silver. The glass is now placed,
still wet, in the camera, and there remains from three seconds to one
or two minutes, according to circumstances. It is then washed with a
solution of sulphate of iron. Every light spot in the camera-picture
becomes dark on the sensitive coating of the glass-plate. But where the
shadows or dark parts of the camera-picture fall, the sensitive coating
is less darkened, or not at all, if the shadows are very deep, and
so these shadows of the camera-picture become the lights of the
glass-picture, as the lights become the shadows. Again, the picture is
reversed, just as in every camera-obscura where the image is received on
a screen direct from, the lens. Thus the glass plate has the right part
of the object on the left side of its picture, and the left part on its
right side; its light is darkness, and its darkness is light. Everything
is just as wrong as it can be, except that the relations of each wrong
to the other wrongs are like the relations of the corresponding rights
to each other in the original natural image. This is a _negative_
Extremes meet. Every given point of the picture is as far from truth as
a lie can be. But in travelling away from the pattern it has gone round
a complete circle, and is at once as remote from Nature and as near it
as possible.--"How far is it to Taunton?" said a countryman, who was
walking exactly the wrong way to reach that commercial and piscatory
centre.--"'Baeout twenty-five thaeousan' mild,"--said the boy he
asked,--"'f y' go 'z y' 'r' goin' naeow, 'n' 'baeout haeaf a mild 'f y' turn
right raeoun' 'n' go t'other way."
The negative picture being formed, it is washed with a solution of
hyposulphite of soda, to remove the soluble principles which are liable
to decomposition, and then coated with shellac varnish to protect it.
This _negative_ is now to give birth to a _positive_,--this mass of
contradictions to assert its hidden truth in a perfect harmonious
affirmation of the realities of Nature. Behold the process!
A sheet of the best linen paper is dipped in salt water and suffered to
dry. Then a solution of nitrate of silver is poured over it and it is
dried in a dark place. This paper is now sensitive; it has a conscience,
and is afraid of daylight. Press it against the glass negative and lay
them in the sun, the glass uppermost, leaving them so for from three to
ten minutes. The paper, having the picture formed on it, is then washed
with the solution of hyposulphite of soda, rinsed in pure water, soaked
again in a solution of hyposulphite of soda, to which, however, the
chloride of gold has been added, and again rinsed. It is then sized or
Out of the perverse and totally depraved negative,--where it might
almost seem as if some magic and diabolic power had wrenched all things
from their proprieties, where the light of the eye was darkness, and the
deepest blackness was gilded with the brightest glare,--is to come the
true end of all this series of operations, a copy of Nature in all her
sweet gradations and harmonies and contrasts.
We owe the suggestion to a great wit, who overflowed our small
intellectual home-lot with a rushing freshet of fertilizing talk
the other day,--one of our friends, who quarries thought on his
own premises, but does not care to build his blocks into books and
essays,--that perhaps this world is only the _negative_ of that better
one in which lights will be turned to shadows and shadows into light,
but all harmonized, so that we shall see why these ugly patches, these
misplaced gleams and blots, were wrought into the temporary arrangements
of our planetary life.
For, lo! when the sensitive paper is laid in the sun under the negative
glass, every dark spot on the glass arrests a sunbeam, and so the spot
of the paper lying beneath remains unchanged; but every light space of
the negative lets the sunlight through, and the sensitive paper
beneath confesses its weakness, and betrays it by growing dark just in
proportion to the glare that strikes upon it. So, too, we have only
to turn the glass before laying it on the paper, and we bring all the
natural relations of the object delineated back again,--its right to the
right of the picture, its left to the picture's left.
On examining the glass negative by transmitted light with a power of a
hundred diameters, we observe minute granules, whether crystalline or
not we cannot say, very similar to those described in the account of
the daguerreotype. But now their effect is reversed. Being opaque, they
darken the glass wherever they are accumulated, just as the snow darkens
our skylights. Where these particles are drifted, therefore, we have our
shadows, and where they are thinly scattered, our lights. On examining
the paper photographs, we have found no distinct granules, but diffused
stains of deeper or lighter shades.
Such is the sun-picture, in the form in which we now most commonly meet
it,--for the daguerreotype, perfect and cheap as it is, and admirably
adapted for miniatures, has almost disappeared from the field of
landscape, still life, architecture, and _genre_ painting, to make room
for the photograph. Mr. Whipple tells us that even now he takes a much
greater number of miniature portraits on metal than on paper; and yet,
except occasionally a statue, it is rare to see anything besides
a portrait shown in a daguerreotype. But the greatest number of
sun-pictures we see are the photographs which are intended to be looked
at with the aid of the instrument we are next to describe, and to the
stimulus of which the recent vast extension of photographic copies of
Nature and Art is mainly owing.
3. THE STEREOSCOPE.--This instrument was invented by Professor
Wheatstone, and first described by him in 1838. It was only a year after
this that M. Daguerre made known his discovery in Paris; and almost
at the same time Mr. Fox Talbot sent his communication to the Royal
Society, giving an account of his method of obtaining pictures on paper
by the action of light. Iodine was discovered in 1811, bromine in 1826,
chloroform in 1831, gun-cotton, from which collodion is made, in 1846,
the electro-plating process about the same time with photography; "all
things, great and small, working together to produce what seemed at
first as delightful, but as fabulous, as Aladdin's ring, which is now as
little suggestive of surprise as our daily bread."
A stereoscope is an instrument which makes surfaces look solid. All
pictures in which perspective and light and shade are properly managed,
have more or less of the effect of solidity; but by this instrument that
effect is so heightened as to produce an appearance of reality which
cheats the senses with its seeming truth.
There is good reason to believe that the appreciation of solidity by the
eye is purely a matter of education. The famous case of a young man who
underwent the operation of couching for cataract, related by Cheselden,
and a similar one reported in the Appendix to Mueller's Physiology, go to
prove that everything is seen only as a superficial extension, until
the other senses have taught the eye to recognize _depth_, or the third
dimension, which gives solidity, by converging outlines, distribution
of light and shade, change of size, and of the texture of surfaces.
Cheselden's patient thought "all objects whatever touched his eyes, as
what he felt did his skin." The patient whose case is reported by Mueller
could not tell the form of a cube held obliquely before his eye from
that of a flat piece of pasteboard presenting the same outline. Each of
these patients saw only with one eye,--the other being destroyed, in one
case, and not restored to sight until long after the first, in the
other case. In two months' time Cheselden's patient had learned to
know solids; in fact, he argued so logically from light and shade and
perspective that he felt of pictures, expecting to find reliefs and
depressions, and was surprised to discover that they were flat surfaces.
If these patients had suddenly recovered the sight of _both_ eyes,
they would probably have learned to recognize solids more easily and
We can commonly tell whether an object is solid, readily enough with one
eye, but still better with two eyes, and sometimes _only_ by using both.
If we look at a square piece of ivory with one eye alone, we cannot tell
whether it is a scale of veneer, or the side of a cube, or the base of
a pyramid, or the end of a prism. But if we now open the other eye, we
shall see one or more of its sides, if it have any, and then know it to
be a solid, and what kind of a solid.
We see something with the second eye which we did not see with the
first; in other words, the two eyes see different pictures of the same
thing, for the obvious reason that they look from points two or three
inches apart. By means of these two different views of an object, the
mind, as it were, _feels round it_ and gets an idea of its solidity. We
clasp an object with our eyes, as with our arms, or with our hands, or
with our thumb and finger, and then we know it to be something more than
a surface. This, of course, is an illustration of the fact, rather than
an explanation of its mechanism.
Though, as we have seen, the two eyes look on two different pictures, we
perceive but one picture. The two have run together and become blended
in a third, which shows us everything we see in each. But, in order that
they should so run together, both the eye and the brain must be in a
natural state. Push one eye a little inward with the forefinger, and the
image is doubled, or at least confused. Only certain parts of the two
retinae work harmoniously together, and you have disturbed their natural
relations. Again, take two or three glasses more than temperance
permits, and you see double; the eyes are right enough, probably, but
the brain is in trouble, and does not report their telegraphic messages
correctly. These exceptions illustrate the every-day truth, that, when
we are in right condition, our two eyes see two somewhat different
pictures, which our perception combines to form one picture,
representing objects in all their dimensions, and not merely as
Now, if we can get two artificial pictures of any given object, one as
we should see it with the right eye, the other as we should see it with
the left eye, and then, looking at the right picture, and that only,
with the right eye, and at the left picture, and that only, with the
left eye, contrive some way of making these pictures run together as we
have seen our two views of a natural object do, we shall get the sense
of solidity that natural objects give us. The arrangement which effects
it will be a _stereoscope_, according to our definition of that
instrument How shall we attain these two ends?
1. An artist can draw an object as he sees it, looking at it only with
his right eye. Then he can draw a second view of the same object as he
sees it with his left eye. It will not be hard to draw a cube or an
octahedron in this way; indeed, the first stereoscopic figures were
pairs of outlines, right and left, of solid bodies, thus drawn. But the
minute details of a portrait, a group, or a landscape, all so nearly
alike to the two eyes, yet not identical in each picture of our natural
double view, would defy any human skill to reproduce them exactly.
And just here comes in the photograph to meet the difficulty. A first
picture of an object is taken,--then the instrument is moved a couple
of inches or a little more, the distance between the human eyes, and a
second picture is taken. Better than this, two pictures are taken at
once in a double camera.
We were just now stereographed, ourselves, at a moment's warning, as
if we were fugitives from justice. A skeleton shape, of about a man's
height, its head covered with a black veil, glided across the floor,
faced us, lifted its veil, and took a preliminary look. When we had
grown sufficiently rigid in our attitude of studied ease, and got
our umbrella into a position of thoughtful carelessness, and put our
features with much effort into an unconstrained aspect of cheerfulness
tempered with dignity, of manly firmness blended with womanly
sensibility, of courtesy, as much as to imply,--"You honor me, Sir,"
toned or sized, as one may say, with something of the self-assertion of
a human soul which reflects proudly, "I am superior to all this,"--when,
I say, we were all right, the spectral Mokanna dropped his long veil,
and his waiting-slave put a sensitive tablet under its folds. The veil
was then again lifted, and the two great glassy eyes stared at us once
more for some thirty seconds. The veil then dropped again; but in the
mean time, the shrouded sorcerer had stolen our double image; we were
immortal. Posterity might thenceforth inspect us, (if not otherwise
engaged,) not as a surface only, but in all our dimensions as an
undisputed _solid_ man of Boston.
2. We have now obtained the double-eyed or twin pictures, or
STEREOGRAPH, if we may coin a name. But the pictures are two, and we
want to slide them into each other, so to speak, as in natural vision,
that we may see them as one. How shall we make one picture out of two,
the corresponding parts of which are separated by a distance of two or
We can do this in two ways. First, by _squinting_ as we look at them.
But this is tedious, painful, and to some impossible, or at least very
difficult. We shall find it much easier to look through a couple of
glasses that _squint for us_. If at the same time they _magnify_ the
two pictures, we gain just so much in the distinctness of the picture,
which, if the figures on the slide are small, is a great advantage. One
of the easiest ways of accomplishing this double purpose is to cut a
convex lens through the middle, grind the curves of the two halves
down to straight lines, and join them by their thin edges. This is a
_squinting magnifier_, and if arranged so that with its right half we
see the right picture on the slide, and with its left half the left
picture, it squints them both inward so that they run together and form
a single picture.
Such are the stereoscope and the photograph, by the aid of which _form_
is henceforth to make itself seen through the world of intelligence, as
thought has long made itself heard by means of the art of printing. The
_morphotype_, or form-print, must hereafter take its place by the side
of the _logotype_, or word-print. The _stereograph_, as we have called
the double picture designed for the stereoscope, is to be the card of
introduction to make all mankind acquaintances.
The first effect of looking at a good photograph through the stereoscope
is a surprise such as no painting ever produced. The mind feels its way
into the very depths of the picture. The scraggy branches of a tree in
the foreground run out at us as if they would scratch our eyes out. The
elbow of a figure stands forth so as to make us almost uncomfortable.
Then there is such a frightful amount of detail, that we have the same
sense of infinite complexity which Nature gives us. A painter shows us
masses; the stereoscopic figure spares us nothing,--all must be there,
every stick, straw, scratch, as faithfully as the dome of St. Peter's,
or the summit of Mont Blanc, or the ever-moving stillness of Niagara.
The sun is no respecter of persons or of things.
This is one infinite charm of the photographic delineation.
Theoretically, a perfect photograph is absolutely inexhaustible. In a
picture you can find nothing which the artist has not seen before you;
but in a perfect photograph there will be as many beauties lurking,
unobserved, as there are flowers that blush unseen in forests and
meadows. It is a mistake to suppose one knows a stereoscopic picture
when he has studied it a hundred times by the aid of the best of our
common instruments. Do we know all that there is in a landscape
by looking out at it from our parlor-windows? In one of the glass
stereoscopic views of Table Rock, two figures, so minute as to be
mere objects of comparison with the surrounding vastness, may be seen
standing side by side. Look at the two faces with a strong magnifier,
and you could identify their owners, if you met them in a court of law.
Many persons suppose that they are looking on _miniatures_ of the
objects represented, when they see them in the stereoscope. They will be
surprised to be told that they see most objects as large as they appear
in Nature. A few simple experiments will show how what we see in
ordinary vision is modified in our perceptions by what we think we see.
We made a sham stereoscope, the other day, with no glasses, and an
opening in the place where the pictures belong, about the size of one of
the common stereoscopic pictures. Through this we got a very ample view
of the town of Cambridge, including Mount Auburn and the Colleges, in a
single field of vision. We do not recognize how minute distant objects
really look to us, without something to bring the fact home to our
conceptions. A man does not deceive us as to his real size when we see
him at the distance of the length of Cambridge Bridge. But hold a common
black pin before the eyes at the distance of distinct vision, and
one-twentieth of its length, nearest the point, is enough to cover him
so that he cannot be seen. The head of the same pin will cover one of
the Cambridge horse-cars at the same distance, and conceal the tower of
Mount Auburn, as seen from Boston.
We are near enough to an edifice to see it well, when we can easily
read an inscription upon it. The stereoscopic views of the arches
of Constantine and of Titus give not only every letter of the old
inscriptions, but render the grain of the stone itself. On the pediment
of the Pantheon may be read, not only the words traced by Agrippa, but a
rough inscription above it, scratched or hacked into the stone by some
wanton hand during an insurrectionary tumult.
This distinctness of the lesser details of a building or a landscape
often gives us incidental truths which interest us more than the central
object of the picture. Here is Alloway Kirk, in the churchyard of which
you may read a real story by the side of the ruin that tells of more
romantic fiction. There stands the stone "Erected by James Russell,
seedsman, Ayr, in memory of his children,"--three little boys, James,
and Thomas, and John, all snatched away from him in the space of three
successive summer-days, and lying under the matted grass in the shadow
of the old witch-haunted walls. It was Burns's Alloway Kirk we paid
for, and we find we have bought a share in the griefs of James Russell,
seedsman; for is not the stone that tells this blinding sorrow of real
life the true centre of the picture, and not the roofless pile which
reminds us of an idle legend?
We have often found these incidental glimpses of life and death running
away with us from the main object the picture was meant to delineate.
The more evidently accidental their introduction, the more trivial they
are in themselves, the more they take hold of the imagination. It is
common to find an object in one of the twin pictures which we miss in
the other; the person or the vehicle having moved in the interval of
taking the two photographs. There is before us a view of the Pool of
David at Hebron, in which a shadowy figure appears at the water's edge,
in the right-hand farther corner of the right-hand picture only. This
muffled shape stealing silently into the solemn scene has already
written a hundred biographies in our imagination. In the lovely glass
stereograph of the Lake of Brienz, on the left-hand side, a vaguely
hinted female figure stands by the margin of the fair water; on the
other side of the picture she is not seen. This is life; we seem to see
her come and go. All the longings, passions, experiences, possibilities
of womanhood animate that gliding shadow which has flitted through our
consciousness, nameless, dateless, featureless, yet more profoundly
real than the sharpest of portraits traced by a human hand. Here is
the Fountain of the Ogre, at Berne. In the right picture two women are
chatting, with arms akimbo, over its basin; before the plate for the
left picture is got ready, "one shall be taken and the other left";
look! on the left side there is but one woman, and you may see the blur
where the other is melting into thin air as she fades forever from your
Oh, infinite volumes of poems that I treasure in this small library of
glass and pasteboard! I creep over the vast features of Rameses, on the
face of his rock-hewn Nubian temple; I scale the huge mountain-crystal
that calls itself the Pyramid of Cheops. I pace the length of the three
Titanic stones of the wall of Baalbee,--mightiest masses of quarried
rock that man has lifted into the air; and then I dive into some mass
of foliage with my microscope, and trace the veinings of a leaf so
delicately wrought in the painting not made with hands, that I can
almost see its down and the green aphis that sucks its juices. I
look into the eyes of the caged tiger, and on the scaly train of the
crocodile, stretched on the sands of the river that has mirrored a
hundred dynasties. I stroll through Rhenish vineyards, I sit under Roman
arches, I walk the streets of once buried cities, I look into the chasms
of Alpine glaciers, and on the rush of wasteful cataracts. I pass, in
a moment, from the banks of the Charles to the ford of the Jordan, and
leave my outward frame in the arm-chair at my table, while in spirit I
am looking down upon Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives.
"Give me the full tide of life at Charing Cross," said Dr. Johnson. Here
is Charing Cross, but without the full tide of life. A perpetual stream
of figures leaves no definite shapes upon the picture. But on one side
of this stereoscopic doublet a little London "gent" is leaning pensively
against a post; on the other side he is seen sitting at the foot of the
next post;--what is the matter with the little "gent"?
The very things which an artist would leave out, or render imperfectly,
the photograph takes infinite care with, and so makes its illusions
perfect. What is the picture of a drum without the marks on its head
where the beating of the sticks has darkened the parchment? In three
pictures of the Ann Hathaway Cottage, before us,--the most perfect,
perhaps, of all the paper stereographs we have seen,--the door at the
farther end of the cottage is open, and we see the marks left by the
rubbing of hands and shoulders as the good people came through the
entry, or leaned against it, or felt for the latch. It is not impossible
that scales from the epidermis of the trembling hand of Ann Hathaway's
young suitor, Will Shakspeare, are still adherent about the old latch
and door, and that they contribute to the stains we see in our picture.
Among the accidents of life, as delineated in the stereograph, there is
one that rarely fails in any extended view which shows us the details of
streets and buildings. There may be neither man nor beast nor vehicle to
be seen. You may be looking down on a place in such a way that none of
the ordinary marks of its being actually inhabited show themselves. But
in the rawest Western settlement and the oldest Eastern city, in
the midst of the shanties at Pike's Peak and stretching across the
court-yards as you look into them from above the clay-plastered roofs of
Damascus, wherever man lives with any of the decencies of civilization,
you will find the _clothes-line_. It may be a fence, (in Ireland,)--it
may be a tree, (if the Irish license is still allowed us,)--but
clothes-drying, or a place to dry clothes on, the stereoscopic
photograph insists on finding, wherever it gives us a group of houses.
This is the city of Berne. How it brings the people who sleep under that
roof before us to see their sheets drying on that fence! and how real it
makes the men in that house to look at their shirts hanging, arms down,
from yonder line!
The reader will, perhaps, thank us for a few hints as to the choice
of stereoscopes and stereoscopic pictures. The only way to be sure of
getting a good instrument is to try a number of them, but it may be well
to know which are worth trying. Those made with achromatic glasses may
be as much better as they are dearer, but we have not been able to
satisfy ourselves of the fact. We do not commonly find any trouble from
chromatic aberration (or false color in the image). It is an excellent
thing to have the glasses adjust by pulling out and pushing in, either
by the hand, or, more conveniently, by a screw. The large instruments,
holding twenty-five slides, are best adapted to the use of those who
wish to show their views often to friends; the owner is a little apt
to get tired of the unvarying round in which they present themselves.
Perhaps we relish them more for having a little trouble in placing them,
as we do nuts that we crack better than those we buy cracked. In optical
effect, there is not much difference between them and the best ordinary
instruments. We employ one stereoscope with adjusting glasses for the
hand, and another common one upon a broad rosewood stand. The stand may
be added to any instrument, and is a great convenience.
Some will have none but glass stereoscopic pictures; paper ones are not