Part 2 out of 5
aristocratic process has killed this entirely. Men no longer make their
names; even the poor foundlings, like Oliver Twist, are christened
alphabetically by some Bumble the Beadle. But the nickname restores his
lost rights, and takes the man at once out of the _ignoble vulgus_ to
give him identity. We recognize this gift and are proud of our
nicknames, when we can get them to suit us. Only the sharp judgment of
our peers reverses our own heraldry and sticks a surname like a burr
upon us. The nickname is the idiom of nomenclature. The sponsorial
appellation is generally meaningless, fished piously out of Scripture or
profanely out of plays and novels, or given with an eye to future
legacies, or for some equally insufficient reason apart from the name
itself. So that the gentleman who named his children One, Two, and
Three, was only reducing to its lowest term the prevailing practice. But
the nickname abides. It has its hold in affection. When the "old boys"
come together in Gore Hall at their semi-centennial Commencement, or the
"Puds" or "Pores" get together after long absence, it is not to inquire
what has become of the Rev. Dr. Heavysterne or his Honor Littleton Coke,
but it is, "Who knows where Hockey Jones is?" and "Did Dandy Glover
really die in India?" and "Let us go and call upon Old Sykes" or "Old
Roots" or "Old Conic-Sections,"--thus meaning to designate
Professor----, LL.D., A.A.S., F.R.S., etc. A college president who had
no nickname would prove himself, _ipso facto_, unfit for his post. It is
only dreadfully affected people who talk of "Tully"; the sensible all
cling to the familiar "Chick-Pea" or Cicero, by which the wart-faced
orator was distinguished. For it is not the boys only, but all American
men, who love nicknames, the idioms of nomenclature. The first thing
which is done, after a nominating convention has made its platform and
balloted for its candidates, is to discover or invent a nickname: Old
Hickory, Tippecanoe, The Little Giant, The Little Magician, The Mill-Boy
of the Slashes, Honest John, Harry of the West, Black Dan, Old Buck, Old
Rough and Ready. A "good name" is a tower of strength and many votes.
And not only with candidates for office, the spots on whose "white
garments" are eagerly sought for and labelled, but in the names of
places and classes the principle prevails, the democratic or Saxon
tongue gets the advantage. Thus, we have for our states, cities, and
ships-of-war the title of fondness which drives out the legal title of
ceremony. Are we not "Yankees" to the world, though to the diplomatists
"citizens of the United States of America"? We have a Union made up upon
the map of Maine, New Hampshire, etc., to California; we have another in
the newspapers, composed of the Lumber State, the Granite State, the
Green-Mountain State, the Nutmeg State, the Empire State, the Keystone
State, the Blue Hen, the Old Dominion, of Hoosiers, Crackers, Suckers,
Badgers, Wolverines, the Palmetto State, and Eldorado. We have the
Crescent City, the Quaker City, the Empire City, the Forest City, the
Monumental City, the City of Magnificent Distances. We hear of Old
Ironsides sent to the Mediterranean to relieve the Old Tea-Wagon,
ordered home. Everywhere there obtains the Papal principle of taking a
new title upon succeeding to any primacy. The Norman imposed his laws
upon England; the courts, the parish-registers, the Acts of Parliament
were all his; but to this day there are districts of the Saxon Island
where the postman and census-taker inquire in vain for Adam Smith and
Benjamin Brown, but must perforce seek out Bullhead and Bandyshins. So
indomitable is the Saxon.
We have not done yet with our national idioms. In the seaboard towns
nautical phrases make tarry the talk of the people. "Where be you
a-cruising to?" asks one Nantucket matron of her gossip. "Sniver-dinner,
I'm going to Egypt; Seth B. has brought a letter from Turkey-wowner to
Old Nancy." "Dressed-to-death-and-drawers-empty, don't you see we're
goin' to have a squall? You had better take in your stu'n'-sails." The
good woman was dressed up, intending, "_as soon as ever_ dinner was
over," to go, not to the land of the Pharaohs, but to the negro-quarter
of the town, with a letter which "Seth B." (her son, thus identified by
his middle letter) had brought home from Talcahuana.
For the rural idioms we refer the reader to the late Sylvester Judd's
"Margaret" and "Richard Edney," and to the Jack Downing Letters.
The town is not behind the country. For, whatever is the current fancy,
pugilism, fire-companies, racing, railway-building, or the opera, its
idioms invade the talk. The Almighty Dollar of our worship has more
synonymes than the Roman Pantheon had divinities. We are not
"well-informed," but "posted" or "posted up." We are not "hospitably
entreated" any more, but "put through." We do not "meet with
misadventure," but "see the elephant," which we often do through the
Hibernian process of "fighting the tiger."
Purists deplore this, but it is inevitable; and if one searches beneath
the surface, there is often a curious deposit of meaning, sometimes
auriferous enough to repay our use of cradle and rocker. We "panned
out," the other day, a phrase which gave us great delight, and which
illustrated a fact in New England history worth noting. We were puzzling
over the word "socdollager," which Bartlett, we think, defines as
"Anything very large and striking,"--_Anglice_, a "whopper,"--"also a
peculiar fish-hook." The word first occurs in print, we believe, in Mr.
Cooper's "Home as Found," applied to a patriarch among the white bass of
Otsego Lake, which could never be captured. We assumed at once that
there was a latent reason for the term, and all at once it flashed upon
us that it was a rough fisherman's random-shot at the word "doxology."
This, in New England congregations, as all know, was wont to be sung, or
"j'ined in," by the whole assembly, and given with particular emphasis,
both because its words were familiar to all without book, and because it
served instead of the chanted creed of their Anglican forefathers. The
last thing, after which nothing could properly follow, the most
important and most conspicuous of all, it represented to our Yankee
Walton the crowning hope of his life,--the big bass, after taking which
he might put hook-and-line on the shelf. By a slight transposition,
natural enough to untrained organs, "doxology" became "socdollager."
We are not making a dictionary of Americanisms, but merely wandering a
little way into our native forests. We refer to the prevalent habit of
idiomatic speech as a fact that makes part of our literature. It cannot
be ignored, nor do we see how it is to be avoided. It is well, of
course, to retain the sterling classic basis of our speech as we
received it from abroad, and to this all that is best and purest in our
literature past and present will tend. But we hold to no Know-Nothing
platform which denies a right of naturalization to the worthy. As Ruskin
says of the river, that it does not make its bed, but finds it, seeking
out, with infinite pains, its appointed channel, so thought will seek
its expression, guided by its inner laws of association and sympathy. If
the mind and heart of a nation become barbarized, no classic culture can
keep its language from corruption. If its ideas are ignoble, it will
turn to the ignoble and vulgar side of every word in its tongue, it will
affix the mean sense it desires to utter where it had of old no place.
It converts the prince's palace into a stable or an inn; it pulls down
the cathedral and the abbey to use the materials for the roads on which
it tramples. It is good to sanctify language by setting some of its
portions apart for holy uses,--at least, by preserving intact the high
religious association which rests upon it. The same silver may be
moulded to the altar-chalice or the Bacchic goblet; but we touch the one
with reverent and clean hands, while the other is tossed aside in the
madness of the revel. Men clamor for a new version of the Sacred
Scriptures, and profess to be shocked at its plain outspokenness,
forgetting that to the pure all things are pure, and that to the
prurient all things are foul. It was a reverent and a worshipping age
that gave us that treasure, and so long as we have the temper of
reverence and worship we shall not ask to change it.
And to return once more to our original illustration. We have the two
nations also in us, the Norman and the Saxon, the dominant and the
aspiring, the patrician and the _proletaire_. The one rules only by
right of rule, the other rises only by right of rising. The power of
conservatism perishes, when there is no longer anything to keep; the
might of radicalism overflows into excess, when the proper check is
taken away or degraded. So long as the noble is noble and "_noblesse
oblige_," so long as Church and State are true to their guiding and
governing duties, the elevation of the base is the elevation of the
whole. If the standards of what is truly aristocratic in our language
are standards of nobility of thought, they will endure and draw up to
them, on to the episcopal thrones and into the Upper House of letters,
all that is most worthy. Whatever makes the nation's life will make its
speech. War was once the career of the Norman, and he set the seal of
its language upon poetry. Agriculture was the Saxon's calling, and he
made literature a mirror of the life he led. We in this new land are
born to new heritages, and the terms of our new life must be used to
tell our story. The Herald's College gives precedence to the
Patent-Office, and the shepherd's pipe to the steam-whistle. And since
all literature which can live stands only upon the national speech, we
must look for our hopes of coming epics and immortal dramas to the
language of the land, to its idioms, in which its present soul abides
and breathes, and not to its classicalities, which are the empty shells
upon its barren sea-shore.
MIDSUMMER AND MAY.
When Miss Kent, the maternal great-aunt of Mr. Raleigh, devised her
property, the will might possibly have been set aside as that of a
monomaniac, but for the fact that he cared too little about anything to
go to law for it, and for the still more important fact that the
heirs-at-law were sufficiently numerous to ingulf the whole property and
leave no ripple to attest its submerged existence, had he done so; and
on deserting it, he was better pleased to enrich the playfellow of his
childhood than a host of unknown and unloved individuals. I cannot say
that he did not more than once regret what he had lost: he was not of a
self-denying nature, as we know; on the contrary, luxurious and
accustomed to all those delights of life generally to be procured only
through wealth. But, for all that, there had been intervals, ere his
thirteen years' exile ended, in which, so far from regret, he
experienced a certain joy at remembrance of this rough and rugged point
of time where he had escaped from the chrysalid state to one of action
and freedom and real life. He had been happy in reaching India before
his uncle's death, in applying his own clear understanding to the
intricate entanglements of the affairs before him, in rescuing his
uncle's commercial good name, and in securing thus for himself a
foothold on the ladder of life, although that step had not occurred to
him till thrust there by the pressure of circumstances. For the rest, I
am not sure that Mr. Raleigh did not find his path suiting him well
enough. There was no longer any charm in home; he was forbidden to think
of it. That strange summer, that had flashed into his life like the
gleam of a carnival-torch into quiet rooms, must be forgotten; the forms
that had peopled it, in his determination, should become shadows.
Valiant vows! Yet there must have come moments, in that long lapse of
days and years, when the whole season gathered up its garments and swept
imperiously through his memory: nights, when, under the shadow of the
Himmaleh, the old passion rose at spring-tide and flooded his heart and
drowned out forgetfulness, and a longing asserted itself, that, if
checked as instantly by honor as despair, was none the less insufferable
and full of pain,--warm, wide, Southern nights, when all the stars,
great and golden, leaned out of heaven to meet him, and all ripe
perfumes, wafted by their own principle of motion, floated in the rich
dusk and laden air about him, and the phantom of snow on topmost heights
sought vainly to lend him its calm. Days also must have showered their
fervid sunshine on him, as he journeyed through plains of rice, where
all the broad reaches whitening to harvest filled him with intense and
bitterest loneliness. What region of spice did not recall the noons when
they two had trampled the sweet-fern on wide, high New England pastures,
and breathed its intoxicating fragrance? and what forest of the tropics,
what palms, what blooms, what gorgeous affluence of color and of growth,
equalled the wood on the lake-shores, with its stately hemlocks, its
joyous birches, its pale-blue, shadow-blanched violets? Nor was this
regret, that had at last become a part of the man's identity, entirely a
selfish one. He had no authority whatever for his belief, yet believe he
did, that, firmly and tenderly as he loved, he was loved, and of the two
fates his was not the harder. But a man, a man, too, in the stir of the
world, has not the time for brooding over the untoward events of his
destiny that a woman has; his tender memories are forever jostled by
cent. per cent.; he meets too many faces to keep the one in constant and
unchanging perpetuity sacredly before his thought. And so it happened
that Mr. Raleigh became at last a silent, keen-eyed man, with the shadow
of old and enduring melancholy on his life, but with no certain
In the course of time his business-connections extended themselves; he
was associated with other men more intent than he upon their aim;
although not wealthy, years might make him so; his name commanded
respect. Something of his old indifference lingered about him; it was
seldom that he was in earnest; he drifted with the tide, and, except to
maintain a clear integrity before God and men and his own soul, exerted
scarcely an effort. It was not an easy thing for him to break up any
manner of life; and when it became necessary for one of the firm to
visit America, and he as the most suitable was selected, he assented to
the proposition with not a heart-beat. America was as flat a wilderness
to him as the Desert of Sahara. On landing in India, he had felt like a
semi-conscious sleeper in his dream, the country seemed one of
phantasms: the Lascars swarming in the port,--the merchants wrapped in
snowy muslins, who moved like white-robed bronzes faintly animate,--the
strange faces, modes, and manners,--the stranger beasts, immense, and
alien to his remembrance; all objects that crossed his vision had seemed
like a series of fantastic shows; he could have imagined them to be the
creations of a heated fancy or the weird deceits of some subtle draught
of magic. But now they had become more his life than the scenes which he
had left; this land with its heats and its languors had slowly and
passively endeared itself to him; these perpetual summers, the balms and
blisses of the South, had unconsciously become a need of his nature. One
day all was ready for his departure; and in the clipper ship Osprey,
with a cargo for Day, Knight, and Company, Mr. Raleigh bade farewell
The Osprey was a swift sailer and handled with consummate skill, so that
I shall not venture to say in how few days she had weathered the Cape,
and, ploughing up the Atlantic, had passed the Windward Islands, and off
the latter had encountered one of the severest gales in Captain
Tarbell's remembrance, although he was not new to shipwreck. If Mr.
Raleigh had found no time for reflection in the busy current of affairs,
when, ceasing to stand aside, he had mingled in the turmoil and become a
part of the generations of men, he could not fail to find it in this
voyage, not brief at best, and of which every day's progress must assure
him anew toward what land and what people he was hastening. Moreover,
Fate had woven his lot, it seemed, inextricably among those whom he
would shun; for Mr. Laudersdale himself was deeply interested in the
Osprey's freight, and it would be incumbent upon him to extend his
civilities to Mr. Raleigh. But Mr. Raleigh was not one to be cozened by
circumstances more than by men.
The severity of the gale, which they had met some three days since, had
entirely abated; the ship was laid to while the slight damage sustained
was undergoing repair, and rocked heavily under the gray sky on the
long, sullen swell and roll of the grayer waters. Mr. Raleigh had just
come upon deck at dawn, where he found every one in unaccountable
commotion. "Ship to leeward in distress," was all the answer his
inquiries could obtain, while the man on the topmast was making his
observations. Mr. Raleigh could see nothing, but every now and then the
boom of a gun came faintly over the distance. The report having been
made, it was judged expedient to lower a boat and render her such
assistance as was possible. Mr. Raleigh never could tell how it came to
pass that he found himself one of the volunteers in this
The disabled vessel proved to be a schooner from the West Indies in a
sinking condition. A few moments sufficed to relieve a portion of her
passengers, sad wretches who for two days had stared death in the face,
and they pulled back toward the Osprey. A second and third journey
across the waste, and the remaining men prepared to lower the last woman
into the boat, when a stout, but extremely pale individual, who could no
longer contain his frenzy of fear, clambered down the chains and dropped
in her place. There was no time to be lost, and nothing to do but
submit; the woman was withdrawn to wait her turn with the captain and
crew, and the laden boat again labored back to the ship. Each trip in
the heavy sea and the blinding rain occupied no less than a couple of
hours, and it was past noon when, uncertain just before if she might yet
be there, they again came within sight of the little schooner, slowly
and less slowly settling to her doom. As they approached her at last,
Mr. Raleigh could plainly detect the young woman standing at a little
distance from the anxious group, leaning against the broken mast with
crossed arms, and looking out over the weary stretch with pale, grave
face and quiet eyes. At the motion of the captain, she stepped forward,
bound the ropes about herself, and was swung over the side to await the
motion of the boat, as it slid within reach on the top of the long wave,
or receded down its shining, slippery hollow. At length one swell brought
it nearer, Mr. Raleigh's arms snatched the slight form and drew her
half-fainting into the boat, a cloak was tossed after, and one by one
the remainder followed; they were all safe, and some beggared. The bows
of the schooner already plunged deep down in the gaping gulfs, they
pulled bravely away, and were tossed along from billow to billow.
"You are very uncomfortable, Mademoiselle Le Blanc?" asked the rescued
captain at once of the young woman, as she sat beside him in the
"_Moi?_" she replied. "_Mais non, Monsieur._"
Mr. Raleigh wrapped the cloak about her, as she spoke. They were
equidistant from the two vessels, neither of which was to be seen, the
rain fell fast into the hissing brine, their fate still uncertain. There
was something strangely captivating and reassuring in this young girl's
equanimity, and he did not cease speculating thereon till they had again
reached the Osprey, and she had disappeared below.
By degrees the weather lightened; the Osprey was on the wing again, and
a week's continuance of this fair wind would bring them into port. The
next day, toward sunset, as Mr. Raleigh turned about in his regular
pacing of the deck, he saw at the opposite extremity of the ship the
same slight figure dangerously perched upon the taffrail, leaning over,
now watching the closing water, and now eagerly shading her eyes with
her hand to observe the ship which they spoke, as they lay head to the
wind, and for a better view of which she had climbed to this position.
It was not Mr. Raleigh's custom to interfere; if people chose to drown
themselves, he was not the man to gainsay them; but now, as his walk
drew him toward her, it was the most natural thing in the world to pause
"_Il serait facheux, Mademoiselle, lorsqu' on a failli faire naufrage,
de se noyer_"--and, in want of a word, Mr. Raleigh ignominiously
descended to his vernacular--"with a lee-lurch."
The girl, resting on the palm of one hand, and unsupported otherwise,
bestowed upon him no reply, and did not turn her head. Mr. Raleigh
looked at her a moment, and then continued his walk. Returning, the
thing happened as he had predicted, and, with a little quick cry,
Mademoiselle Le Blanc was hanging by her hands among the ropes. Reaching
her with a spring, "_Viens, petite!_" he said, and with an effort placed
her on her feet again before an alarm could have been given.
"_Ah! mais je crus c'en etait fait de moi!_" she exclaimed, drawing in
her breath like a sob. In an instant, however, surveying Mr. Raleigh,
the slight emotion seemed to yield to one of irritation, that she had
been rescued by him; for she murmured quickly, in English, head
haughtily thrown back and eyes downcast,--"Monsieur thinks that I owe
him much for having saved my life!"
"Mademoiselle best knows its worth," said he, rather amused, and turning
The girl was still looking down; now, however, she threw after him a
"_Tenez!_" said she, imperiously, and stepping toward him. "You fancy me
very ungrateful," she continued, lifting her slender hand, and with the
back of it brushing away the floating hair at her temples. "Well, I am
not, and at some time it may be that I prove it. I do not like to owe
debts; but, since I must, I will not try to cancel them with thanks."
Mr. Raleigh bowed, but said nothing. She seemed to think it necessary to
efface any unpleasant impression, and, with a little more animation and
a smile, added,--"The Captain Tarbell told me your name, Mr. Raleigh,
and that you had not been at home for thirteen years. _Ni moi non
plus_,--at least, I suppose it is home where I am going; yet I remember
no other than the island and my"--
And here the girl opened her eyes wide, as if determined that they
should not fill with tears, and looked out over the blue and sparkling
fields around them. There was a piquancy in her accent that made the
hearer wish to hear further, and a certain artlessness in her manner not
met with recently by him. He moved forward, keeping her beside him.
"Then you are not French," he said.
"I? Oh, no,--nor Creole. I was born in America; but I have always lived
with mamma on the plantation; _et maintenant, il y a six mois qu'elle
Here she looked away again. Mr. Raleigh's glance followed hers, and,
returning, she met it bent kindly and with a certain grave interest upon
her. She appeared to feel reassured, somewhat protected by one so much
"I am going now to my father," she said, "and to my other mother."
"A second marriage," thought Mr. Raleigh, "and before the orphan's
crapes are"--Then, fearful lest she should read his thought, he
added,--"And how do you speak such perfect English?"
"Oh, my father came to see us every other year, and I have written home
twice a week since I was a little child. Mamma, too, spoke as much
English as French."
"I have not been in America for a long time," said Mr. Raleigh, after a
few steps. "But I do not doubt that you will find enjoyment there. It
will be new: womanhood will have little like youth for you; but, in
every event, it is well to add to our experience, you know."
"What is it like, Sir? But I know! Rows of houses, very counterparts of
rows of houses, and they of rows of houses yet beyond. Just the
toy-villages in boxes, uniform as graves and ugly as bricks"--
"Brick houses are not such ugly things. I remember one, low and wide,
possessed of countless gables, covered with vines and shaded with
sycamores; it could not have been so picturesque, if built of the marble
of Paros, and gleaming temple-white through masks of verdure."
"It seems to me that I, too, remember such a one," said she, dreamily.
"_Mais non, je m'y perds_. Yet, for all that, I shall not find the New
York avenues lined with them."
"No; the houses there are palaces."
"I suppose, then, I am to live in a palace," she answered, with a light
tinkling laugh. "That is fine; but one may miss the verandas, all the
whiteness and coolness. How one must feel the roof!"
"Roofs should be screens, and not prisons, not shells, you think?" said
"At home," she replied, "our houses are, so to say, parasols; in those
cities they must be iron shrouds. _Ainsi soit il!_" she added, and
shrugged her shoulders like a little fatalist.
"You must not take it with such desperation; perhaps you will not be
obliged to wear the shroud."
"Not long, to be sure, at first. We go to freeze in the country, a place
with distant hills of blue ice, my old nurse told me,--old Ursule. Oh,
Sir, she was drowned! I saw the very wave that swept her off!"
"That was your servant?"
"Then, perhaps, I have some good news for you. She was tall and large?"
"Her name was Ursule?"
"_Oui! je dis que oui!_"
Mr. Raleigh laughed at her eagerness. "She is below, then," he
said,--"not drowned. There is Reynolds. Mr. Reynolds, will you take this
young lady to her servant, Ursule, the woman you rescued?"
And Mademoiselle Le Blanc disappeared under that gentleman's escort.
The ordinary restraints of social life not obtaining so much on board
ship as elsewhere, Mr. Raleigh saw his acquaintance with the pale young
stranger fast ripening into friendliness. It was an agreeable variation
from the monotonous routine of his voyage, and he felt that it was not
unpleasant to her. Indeed, with that childlike simplicity that was her
first characteristic, she never saw him without seeking him, and every
morning and every evening it became their habit to pace the deck
together. Sunrise and twilight began to be the hours with which he
associated her; and it was strange, that, coming, as she did, out of the
full blaze of tropical suns, she yet seemed a creature that had taken
life from the fresh, cool, dewy hours, and that must fairly dissolve
beneath the sky of noon. She puzzled him, too, and he found singular
contradictions in her: to-night, sweetness itself,--to-morrow, petulant
as a spoiled child. She had all a child's curiosity, too; and he amused
himself by seeing, at one time, with what novelty his adventures struck
her, when, at another, he would have fancied she had always held Taj and
Himmaleh in her garden. Now and then, excited, perhaps, by emulation and
wonder, her natural joyousness broke through the usually sad and quiet
demeanor; and she related to him, with dramatic _abandon_, scenes of her
gay and innocent island-life, so that he fancied there was not an
emotion in her experience hidden from his knowledge, till, all-unaware,
he tripped over one reserve and another, that made her, for the moment,
as mysterious a being as any of those court-ladies of ancient _regimes_,
in whose lives there were strange _lacunae_, and spaces of shadow. And a
peculiarity of their intercourse was, that, let her depart in what freak
or perversity she pleased, she seemed always to have a certainty of
finding him in the same mood in which she had left him,--as some bright
wayward vine of Southern forests puts out a tendril to this or that
enticing point, yet, winding back, will find its first support
unchanged. Shut out, as Mr. Raleigh had been, from any but the most
casual female society, he found a great charm in this familiarity, and,
without thinking how lately it had begun or how soon it must cease, he
yielded himself to its presence. At one hour she seemed to him an
impetuous and capricious thing, for whose better protection the accident
of his companionship was extremely fortunate,--at another hour, a woman
too strangely sweet to part with; and then Mr. Raleigh remembered that
in all his years he had really known but two women, and one of these had
not spent a week in his memory.
Mademoiselle Le Blanc came on deck, one evening, and, wrapping a soft,
thick mantle round her, looked about for a minute, shaded her eyes from
the sunset, meantime, with a slender, transparent hand, bowed to one,
spoke to another, slipped forward and joined Mr. Raleigh, where he
leaned over the ship's side.
"_Voici ma capote!_" said she, before he was aware of her approach.
"_Ciel! qu'il fait frais!_"
"We have changed our skies," said Mr. Raleigh, looking up.
"It is not necessary that you should tell me that!" she replied. "I
shiver all the time. I shall become a little iceberg, for the sake of
floating down to melt off Martinique!"
"Warm yourself now in the sunset; such a blaze was kindled for the
"Whenever I see a sunset, I find it to be a splendid fact, _une
jouissance vraie, Monsieur_, to think that men can paint,--that these
shades, which are spontaneous in the heavens, and fleeting, can be
rivalled by us and made permanent,--that man is more potent than light."
"But you are all wrong in your _jouissance_."
She pouted her lip, and hung over the side in an attitude that it seemed
he had seen a hundred times before.
"That sunset, with all its breadth and splendor, is contained in every
pencil of light."
She glanced up and laughed.
"Oh, yes! a part of its possibilities. Which proves?"--
"That color is an attribute of light and an achievement of man."
"Ca et la,
Toute la journee,
Le vent vain va
En sa tournee,"
hummed the girl, with a careless dismissal of the subject.
Mr. Raleigh shut up the note-book in which he had been writing, and
restored it to his pocket. She turned about and broke off her song.
"There is the moon on the other side," she said, "floating up like a
great bubble of light. She and the sun are the scales of a balance, I
think; as one ascends, the other sinks."
"There is a richness in the atmosphere, when sunset melts into moonrise,
that makes one fancy it enveloping the earth like the bloom on a plum."
"And see how it has powdered the sea! The waters look like the wings of
the _papillon bleu_."
"It seems that you love the sea."
"Oh, certainly. I have thought that we islanders were like those Chinese
who live in great _tanka_-boats on the rivers; only our boat rides at
anchor. To climb up on the highest land, and see yourself girt with
fields of azure enamelled in sheets of sunshine and fleets of sails, and
lifted against the horizon, deep, crystalline, and translucent as a
gem,--that makes one feel strong in isolation, and produces keen races.
Don't you think so?"
"I think that isolation causes either vivid characteristics or idiocy,
seldom strong or healthy ones; and I do not value race."
"Because you came from America!"--with an air of disgust,--"where there
is yet no race, and the population is still too fluctuating for the
mould of one."
"I come from India, where, if anywhere, there is race."
"But, pshaw! that was not what we were talking about."
"No, Mademoiselle, we were speaking of an element even more fluctuating
than American population."
"Of course I love the sea; but if the sea loves me, it is the way a cat
loves the mouse."
"It is always putting up a hand to snatch you?"
"I suppose I am sent to Nineveh and persist in shipping for Tarshish. I
never enter a boat without an accident. The Belle Voyageuse met
shipwreck, and I on board. That was anticipated, though, by all the
world; for the night before we set sail,--it was a very murk, hot night,
--we were all called out to see the likeness of a large merchantman
transfigured in flames upon the sky,--spars and ropes and hull one net
and glare of fire."
"A mirage, probably, from some burning ship at sea."
"No, I would rather think it supernatural. Oh, it was frightful! Rather
superb, though, to think of such a spectral craft rising to warn us with
ghostly flames that the old Belle Voyageuse was riddled with rats!"
"Did it burn blue?" asked Mr. Raleigh.
"Oh, if you're going to make fun of me, I'll tell you nothing more!"
As she spoke, Capua, who had considered himself, during the many years
of wandering, both guiding and folding star to his master, came up, with
his eyes rolling fearfully in a lively expansion of countenance, and
muttered a few words in Mr. Raleigh's ear, lifting both hands in comical
consternation the while.
"Excuse me a moment," said Mr. Raleigh, following him, and, meeting
Captain Tarbell at the companion-way, the three descended together.
Mr. Raleigh was absent some fifteen minutes, at the end of that time
rejoining Mademoiselle Le Blanc.
"I did not mean to make fun of you," said he, resuming the conversation
as if there had been no interruption. "I was watching the foam the
Osprey makes in her speed, which certainly burns blue. See the flashing
sparks! now that all the red fades from the west, they glow in the moon
like broken amethysts."
"What did you mean, then?" she asked, pettishly.
"Oh, I wished to see if the idea of a burning ship was so terrifying."
"Terrifying? No; I have no fear; I never was afraid. But it must, in
reality, be dreadful. I cannot think of anything else so appalling."
"Not at all timid?"
"Mamma used to say, those that know nothing fear nothing."
"Eminently your case. Then you cannot imagine a situation in which you
would lose self-possession?"
"Scarcely. Isn't it people of the finest organization, comprehensive,
large-souled, that are capable of the extremes either of courage or
fear? Now I am limited, so that, without rash daring or pale panic, I
can generally preserve equilibrium."
"How do you know all this of yourself?" he asked, with an amused air.
"_Il se presentait des occasions_," she replied, briefly.
"So I presumed," said he. "Ah? They have thrown out the log. See, we
make progress. If this breeze holds!"
"You are impatient, Mr. Raleigh. You have dear friends at home, whom you
wish to see, who wish to see you?"
"No," he replied, with a certain bitterness in his tone. "There is no
one to whom I hasten, no one who waits to receive me."
"No one? But that is terrible! Then why should you wish to hasten? For
me, I would always be willing to loiter along, to postpone home
"That is very generous, Mademoiselle."
"I wish--please--you must not say Mademoiselle. Nobody will address me
so, shortly. Give me my name,--call me Marguerite. _Je vous en prie_."
And she looked up with a blush deepening the apple-bloom of her cheek.
"Marguerite? Does it answer for pearl or for daisy with you?"
"Oh, they called me so because I was such a little round white baby. I
couldn't have been very precious, though, or she never would have parted
with me. Yes, I wish we might drift on some lazy current for years. I
hate to shorten the distance. I stand in awe of my father, and I do not
remember my mother."
"Do not remember?"
"She is so perfect, so superb, so different from me! But she ought to
love her own child!"
"Her own child?"
"And then I do not know the customs of this strange land. Shall I be
obliged to keep an establishment?"
"Keep an establishment?"
"It is very rude to repeat my words so! You oughtn't! Yes, keep an
"I beg your pardon, Mademoiselle."
"No, it is I who am rude."
"Not at all,--but mysterious. I am quite in the dark concerning you."
"Ah, Miss Marguerite, it is my turn now."
"Oh! It must be----This is your mystery, _n'est ce pas?_ Mamma was my
grandmamma. My own mother was far too young when mamma gave her in
marriage; and, to make amends, mamma adopted me and left me her name and
her fortune. So that I am very wealthy. And now shall I keep an
"I should think not," said Mr. Raleigh, with a smile.
"Do you know, you constantly reassure me? Home grows less and less a
bugbear when you speak of it. How strange! It seems as if I had known
you a year, instead of a week."
"It would probably take that period of time to make us as well
acquainted under other circumstances."
"I wish you were going to be with us always. Shall you stay in America,
"Only till the fall. But I will leave you at your father's door"----
And then Mr. Raleigh ceased suddenly, as if he had promised an
"How long before we reach New York?" she asked.
"In about nine hours," he replied,--adding, in unconscious undertone,
"What was that you said to yourself?" she asked, in a light and gayly
inquisitive voice, as she looked around and over the ship. "Why, how
many there are on deck! It is such a beautiful night, I suppose. Eh,
"Are you not tired of your position?" he asked. "Sit down beside me
here." And he took a seat.
"No, I would rather stand. Tell me what you said."
"Sit, then, to please me, Marguerite, and I will tell you what I said."
She hesitated a moment, standing before him, the hood of her capote,
with its rich purple, dropping from the fluttering yellow hair that the
moonlight deepened into gold, and the fire-opal clasp rising and falling
with her breath, like an imprisoned flame. He touched her hand, still
warm and soft, with his own, which was icy. She withdrew it, turned her
eyes, whose fair, faint lustre, the pale forget-me-not blue, was
darkened by the antagonistic light to an amethystine shadow,
inquiringly upon him.
"There is some danger," she murmured.
"Yes. When you are not a mark for general observation, you shall hear
"I would rather hear it standing."
"I told you the condition."
"Then I shall go and ask Captain Tarbell."
"And come sobbing back to me for 'reassurance.'"
"No," she said, quickly, "I should go down to Ursule."
"Ursule has a mattress on deck; I assisted her up."
"There is the captain! Now"----
He seized her hand and drew her down beside him. For an instant she
would have resisted, as the sparkling eyes and flushed cheeks
attested,--and then, with the instinctive feminine baseness that compels
every woman, when once she has met her master, she submitted.
"I am sorry, if you are offended," said he. "But the captain cannot
attend to you now, and it is necessary to be guarded in movement; for a
slight thing on such occasions may produce a panic."
"You should not have forced me to sit," said she, in a smothered voice,
without heeding him; "you had no right."
"This right, that I assume the care of you."
"Monsieur, you see that I am quite competent to the care of myself."
"Marguerite, I see that you are determined to quarrel."
She paused a moment, ere replying; then drew a little nearer and turned
her face toward him, though without looking up.
"Forgive me, then!" said she. "But I would rather be naughty and
froward, it lets me stay a child, and so you can take me in keeping, and
I need not think for myself at all. But if I act like a woman grown,
then comes all the responsibility, and I must rely on myself, which is
such trouble now, though I never felt it so before,--I don't know why.
Don't you see?" And she glanced at him with her head on one side, and
"You were right," he replied, after surveying her a moment; "my
proffered protection is entirely superfluous."
She thought he was about to go, and placed her hand on his, as it lay
along the side. "Don't leave me," she murmured.
"I have no intention of leaving you," he said.
"You are very good. I have never seen one like you. I love you well."
And, bathed in moonlight, she raised her face and her glowing lips
Mr. Raleigh gazed in the innocent eyes a moment, to seek the extent of
her meaning, and felt, that, should he take advantage of her childlike
forgetfulness, he would be only reenacting the part he had so much
condemned in one man years before. So he merely bent low over the hand
that lay in his, raised it, and touched his lips to that. In an instant
the color suffused her face, she snatched the hand away, half rose
trembling from her seat, then sank into it again.
"_Soit, Monsieur!_" she exclaimed, abruptly. "But you have not told me
"It will not alarm you now?" he replied, laughing.
"I have said that I am not a coward."
"I wonder what you would think of me when I say that without doubt I
"You, Mr. Raleigh?" she cried, astonishment banishing anger.
"Not that I betray myself. But I have felt the true heart-sinking. Once,
surprised in the centre of an insurrection, I expected to find my hair
white as snow, if I escaped."
"Your hair is very black. And you escaped?"
"So it would appear."
"They suffered you to go on account of your terror? You feigned death?
You took flight?"
"Tell me about it," she said, imperiously.
Though Mr. Raleigh had exchanged the singular reserve of his youth for a
well-bred reticence, he scarcely cared to be his own hero.
"Tell me," said she. "It will shorten the time; and that is what you are
trying to do, you know."
"It was once when I was obliged to make an unpleasant journey into the
interior, and a detachment was placed at my service. We were in a
suspected district quite favorable to their designs, and the commanding
officer was attacked with illness in the night. Being called to his
assistance, I looked abroad and fancied things wore an unusual aspect
among the men, and sent Capua to steal down a covered path and see if
anything were wrong. Never at fault, he discovered a revolt, with intent
to murder my companion and myself, and retreat to the mountains. Of
course there was but one thing to do. I put a pistol in my belt and
walked down and in among them, singled out the ringleader, fixed him
with my eye, and bade him approach. My appearance was so sudden and
unsuspected that they forgot defiance."
"_Bien_, but I thought you were afraid."
"So I was. I could not have spoken a second word. I experienced intense
terror, and that, probably, gave my glance a concentration of which I
was unaware and by myself incapable; but I did not suffer it to waver; I
could not have moved it, indeed; I kept it on the man while he crept
slowly toward me. I shall never forget the horrible sensation. I did not
dare permit myself to doubt his conquest; but if I had failed, as I then
thought, his approach was like the slow coil of a serpent about me, and
it was his glittering eyes that had fixed mine, and not mine his. At my
feet, I commanded him, with a gesture, to disarm. He obeyed, and I
breathed; and one by one they followed his example. Capua, who was
behind me, I sent back with the weapons, and in the morning gave them
their choice of returning to town with their hands tied behind their
backs, or of going on with me and remaining faithful. They chose the
latter, did me good service, and I said nothing about the affair."
"That was well. But were you really frightened?"
"So I said. I cannot think of it yet without a slight shudder."
"Yes, and a rehearsal. Your eyes charge bayonets now. I am not a Sepoy."
"Well, you are still angry with me?"
"How can I be angry with you?"
"How, indeed? So much your senior that you owe me respect, Miss
Marguerite. I am quite old enough to be your father."
"You are, Sir?" she replied, with surprise. "Why, are you fifty-five
"Is that Mr. Laudersdale's age?"
"How did you know Mr. Laudersdale Was my father?"
"By an arithmetical process. That is his age?"
"Yes; and yours?"
"Not exactly. I was thirty-seven last August."
"And will be thirty-eight next?"
"That is the logical deduction."
"I shall give you a birthday-gift when you are just twice my age."
"By what courier will you make it reach me?"
"Oh, I forgot. But--Mr. Raleigh?" "What is it?" he replied, turning to
look at her,--for his eyes had been wandering over the deck.
"I thought you would ask me to write to you."
"No, that would not be worth while."
His face was too grave for her to feel indignation.
"Why?" she demanded.
"It would give me great pleasure, without doubt. But in a week you will
have too many other cares and duties to care for such a burden."
"That shows that you do not know me at all. _Vous en avez use mal avec
Though Mr. Raleigh still looked at her, he did not reply. She rose and
walked away a few steps, coming back.
"You are always in the right, and I consequently in the wrong," she
said. "How often to-night have I asked pardon? I will not put up
"We shall part in a few hours," he replied; "when you lose your temper,
I lose my time."
"In a few hours? Then is the danger which you mentioned past?"
"I scarcely think so."
"Now I am not going to be diverted again. What is this dreadful danger?"
"Let me tell you, in the first place, that we shall probably make the
port before our situation becomes apparently worse,--that we do not take
to the boats, because we are twice too many to fill them, owing to the
Belle Voyageuse, and because it might excite mutiny, and for several
other becauses,--that every one is on deck, Capua consoling Ursule, the
captain having told to each, personally, the possibility of escape"----
"_Allez au hut!_"
"That the lights are closed, the hatches battened down, and by dint of
excluding the air we can keep the flames in a smouldering state and sail
into harbor a shell of safety over this core of burning coal."
"Reducing the equation, the ship is on fire?"
She did not speak for a moment or two, and he saw that she was quite
faint. Soon recovering herself,--
"And what do you think of the mirage now?" she asked. "Where is Ursule?
I must go to her," she added suddenly, after a brief silence, starting
to her feet.
"Shall I accompany you?"
"She lies on a mattress there, behind that group,"--nodding in the
implied direction; "and it would be well, if you could lie beside her
and get an hour's rest."
"Me? I couldn't sleep. I shall come back to you,--may I?" And she was
Mr. Raleigh still sat in the position in which she had left him, when, a
half-hour afterward, she returned.
"Where is your cloak?" he asked, rising to receive her.
"I spread it over Ursule, she was so chilly."
"You will not take cold?"
"I? I am on fire myself."
"Ah, I see; you have the Saturnalian spirit in you."
"It is like the Revolution, the French, is it not?--drifting on before
the wind of Fate, this ship full of fire and all red-hot raging
turbulence. Just look up the long sparkling length of these white, full
shrouds, swelling and curving like proud swans, in the gale,--and then
imagine the devouring monster below in his den!"
"_Don't_ imagine it. Be quiet and sit beside me. Half the night is
"I remember reading of some pirates once, who, driving forward to
destruction on fearful breakers, drank and sang and died madly. I wish
the whole ship's company would burst out in one mighty chorus now, or
that we might rush together with tumultuous impulse and dance,--dance
wildly into death and daylight."
"We have nothing to do with death," said Mr. Raleigh. "Our foe is simply
time. You dance, then?"
"Oh, yes. I dance well,--like those white fluttering butterflies,--as if
I were _au gre du vent_." "That would not be dancing well."
"It would not be dancing well to _be_ at the will of the wind, but it is
perfection to appear so."
"The dance needs the expression of the dancer's will. It is breathing
sculpture. It is mimic life beyond all other arts."
"Then well I love to dance. And I do dance well. Wait,--you shall see."
He detained her.
"Be still, little maid!" he said, and again drew her beside him, though
she still continued standing.
At this moment the captain approached.
"What cheer?" asked Mr. Raleigh.
"No cheer," he answered, gloomily, dinting his finger-nails into his
palm. "The planks forward are already hot to the hand. I tremble at
every creak of cordage, lest the deck crash in and bury us all."
"You have made the Sandy Hook light?"
"Yes; too late to run her ashore."
"You cannot try that at the Highlands?"
"The wind scarcely"----
"Veered a point I am carrying all sail. But if this tooth of fire gnaws
below, you will soon see the masts go by the board. And then we are
"Courage! she will certainly hold together till you can hail the
"I think no one need tremble when he has such an instance of
fearlessness before him," replied the captain, bowing to Marguerite; and
turning away, he hid his suspense and pain again under a calm
Standing all this while beside Mr. Raleigh, she had heard the whole of
the conversation, and he felt the hand in his growing colder as it
continued. He wondered if it were still the same excitement that sent
the alternate flush and pallor up her cheek. She sat down, leaning her
head back against the bulwark, as if to look at the stars, and suffering
the light, fine hair to blow about her temples before the steady breeze.
He bent over to look into her eyes, and found them fixed and lustreless.
"Marguerite!" he exclaimed.
She tried to speak, but the teeth seemed to hinder the escape of her
words, and to break them into bits of sound; a shiver shook her from
head to foot.
"I wonder if this is fear," she succeeded in saying. "Oh, if there were
somewhere to go, something to hide me! A great horror is upon me! I am
afraid! _Seigneur Dieu! Mourir par le feu! Perissons alors au plus
vite!_" And she shuddered, audibly.
Mr. Raleigh passed his arm about her and gathered her closer to himself.
He saw at once, that, sensitive as she was to every impression, this
fear was a contagious one, a mere gregarian affinity, and that she
needed the preponderating warmth and strength of a protecting presence,
the influence of a fuller vitality. He did not speak, but his touch must
in some measure have counteracted the dread that oppressed her. She
ceased trembling, but did not move.
The westering moon went to bury herself in banks of cloud; the wind
increasing piped and whistled in strident threatening through the
rigging; the ship vibrated to the concussive voice of the minute-gun. No
murmurs but those of wind and water were heard among the throng; they
drove forward in awful, pallid silence. Suddenly the shriek of one
voice, but from fourscore throats, rent the agonized quiet. A red light
was running along the deck, a tongue of flame lapping round the
forecastle, a spire shooting aloft. Marguerite hid her face in Mr.
Raleigh's arm; a great sob seemed to go up from all the people. The
captain's voice thundered through the tumult, and instantly the mates
sprang forward and the jib went crashing overboard. Mr. Raleigh tore his
eyes away from the fascination of this terror, and fixed them by chance
on two black specks that danced on the watery horizon. He gazed with
intense vision a moment. "The tugs!" he cried. The words thrilled with
hope in every dying heart; they no longer saw themselves the waiting
prey of pain and death, of flames and sea. Some few leaped into the boat
at the stern, lowered and cut it away; others dropped spontaneously into
file, and passed the dripping buckets of sea-water, to keep, if
possible, the flames in check. Mr. Raleigh and Marguerite crossed over
The sight of her nurse, passive in despair, restored to the girl a
portion of her previous spirit. She knelt beside her, talking low and
rapidly, now and then laughing, and all the time communicating nerve
with her light, firm finger-touches. Except their quick and
unintelligible murmurs, and the plash and hiss of water, nothing else
broke the torturing hush of expectation. There was a half-hour of
breathless watch ere the steam-tugs were alongside. Already the place
was full of fervid torment, and they had climbed upon every point to
leave below the stings of the blistering deck. None waited on the order
of their going, but thronged and sprang precipitately. Ursule was at
once deposited in safety. The captain moved to conduct Marguerite
across, but she drew back and clung to Mr. Raleigh.
"_J'ai honte_," she said; "_je ne bougerai pas plus tot que vous._"
The breath of the fierce flames scorched her cheek as she spoke, the
wind of their roaring progress swept her hair. He lifted her over
without further consultation, and still kept her in his care.
There was a strange atmosphere on board the little vessels, as they
labored about and parted from the doomed Osprey. Many were subdued with
awe and joy at their deliverance; others broke the tense strain of the
last hours in suffocating sobs. Every throb of the panting engines they
answered with waiting heart-beats, as it sent them farther from the
fearful wonder, now blazing in multiplex lines of fire against the gray
horizon. Mr. Raleigh gazed after it as one watches the conflagration of
a home. Marguerite left her quiet weeping to gaze with him. An hour
silently passed, and as the fiery phantom faded into dawn and distance
she sang sweetly the first few lines of an old French hymn. Another
voice took up the measure, stronger and clearer; those who knew nothing
of the words caught the spirit of the tune; and no choral service ever
pealed up temple-vaults with more earnest accord than that in which this
chant of grateful, exultant devotion now rose from rough-throated men
and weary women in the crisp air and yellowing spring-morning.
As the moment of parting approached, Marguerite stood with folded hands
before Mr. Raleigh, looking sadly down the harbor.
"I regret all that," she said,--"these days that seem years."
"An equivocal phrase," he replied, with a smile.
"But you know what I mean. I am going to strangers; I have been with
you. I shall find no one so kind to me as you have been, Monsieur."
"Your strangers can be much kinder to you than I have been."
"Never! I wish they did not exist! What do I care for them? What do they
care for me? They do not know me; I shall shock them. I miss you, I hate
them, already. _Non! Personne ne m'aime, et je n'aime personne!_" she
exclaimed, with low-toned vehemence.
"Rite," began Mr. Raleigh.
"Rite! No one but my mother ever called me that. How did you know it?"
"I have met your mother, and I knew you a great many years ago."
"Mr. Raleigh!" And there was the least possible shade of unconscious
regret in the voice before it added,--"And what was I?"
"You were some little wood-spirit, the imp of a fallen cone, mayhap, or
the embodiment of birch-tree shadows. You were a soiled and naughty
little beauty, not so different from your present self, and who kissed
me on the lips." "And did you refuse to take the kiss?"
"You were a child then," he said. "And I was not"----
Here the boat swung round at her moorings, and the shock prevented Mr.
Raleigh's finishing his sentence.
"Ursule is with us, or on the other one?" she asked.
"That is fortunate. She is all I have remaining, by which to prove my
"As if there could be two such maidens in the world!"
Marguerite left him, a moment, to give Captain Tarbell her address, and
returning, they were shortly afterward seated side by side in a coach,
Capua and Ursule following in another. As they stopped at the destined
door, Mr. Raleigh alighted and extended his hand. She lingered a moment
ere taking it,--not to say adieu, nor to offer him cheek or lip again.
"_Que je te remercie!_" she murmured, lifting her eyes to his. "_Que je
te trouve bon!_" and sprang before him up the steps.
He heard her father meet her in the hall; Ursule had already joined
them; he reentered the coach and rolled rapidly beyond recall.
The burning of the Osprey did not concern Mr. Raleigh's
business-relations. Carrying his papers about him, he had personally
lost thereby nothing of consequence. He refreshed himself, and proceeded
at once to the transactions awaiting him. In a brief time he found that
affairs wore a different aspect from that for which he had been
instructed, and letters from the house had already arrived, by the
overland route, which required mutual reply and delay before he could
take further steps; so that Mr. Raleigh found himself with some months
of idleness upon his hands, in a land with not a friend. There lay a
little scented billet, among the documents on his table, that had at
first escaped his attention; he took it up wonderingly, and broke the
seal. It was from his Cousin Kate, and had been a few days before him.
Mrs. McLean had heard of his expected arrival, it said, and begged him,
if he had any time to spare, to spend it with her in his old home by the
lake, whither every summer they had resorted to meditate on the virtues
of the departed. There was added, in a different hand, whose delicate
and pointed characters seemed singularly familiar,--
"Come o'er the stream, Charlie, dear Charlie,
"Come o'er the stream, Charlie, and dine
Mr. Raleigh looked at the matter a few moments; he did not think it best
to remain long in the city; he would be glad to know if sight of the old
scenes could renew a throb. He answered his letters, replenished his
wardrobe, and took, that same day, the last train for the North. At noon
of the second day thereafter he found Mr. McLean's coach, with that
worthy gentleman in person, awaiting him, and he stepped out, when it
paused at the foot of his former garden, with a strange sense of the
world as an old story, a twice-told tale, a maze of error.
Mrs. McLean came running down to meet him,--a face less round and rosy
than once, as the need of pink cap-ribbons testified, but smiling and
bright as youth.
"The same little Kate," said Mr. Raleigh, after the first greeting,
putting his hands on her shoulders and smiling down at her benevolently.
"Not quite the same Roger, though," said she, shaking her head. "I
expected this stain on your skin; but, dear me! your eyes look as if you
had not a friend in the world."
"How can they look so, when you give me such a welcome?"
"Dear old Roger, you _are_ just the same," said she, bestowing a little
caress upon his sleeve. "And if you remember the summer before you went
away, you will not find that pleasant company so very much changed
either." "I do not expect to find them at all."
"Oh, then they will find you; because they are all here,--at least the
principals; some with different names, and some, like myself, with
duplicates,"--as a shier Kate came down toward them, dragging a brother
and sister by the hand, and shaking chestnut curls over rosy blushes.
After making acquaintance with the new cousins, Mr. Raleigh turned again
to Mrs. McLean.
"And who are there here?" he asked.
"There is Mrs. Purcell,--you remember Helen Heath? Poor Mrs. Purcell,
whom you knew, died, and her slippers fitted Helen. She chaperons Mary,
who is single and speechless yet; and Captain, now Colonel, Purcell
makes a very good silent partner. He is hunting in the West, on
furlough; she is here alone. There is Mrs. Heath,--you never have
"And how came you all in the country so early in the season,--anybody
with your devotion to company?"
"To be made April fools, John says."
"Why, the willows are not yet so yellow as they will be."
"I know it. But we had the most fatiguing winter; and Mrs. Laudersdale
and I agreed, that, the moment the snow was off the ground up here, we
would fly away and be at rest."
"Mrs. Laudersdale? Can she come here?"
"Goodness! Why not? The last few summers we have always spent together."
"She is with you now, then?"
"Oh, yes. She is the least changed of all. I didn't mean to tell, but
keep her as a surprise. Of course, you will be a surprise to
everybody.--There, run along, children; we'll follow.--Yes, won't it be
delightful, Roger? We can all play at youth again."
"Like skeletons in some Dance of Death!" he exclaimed. "We shall be
hideous in each other's sight."
"McLean, I am a bride," said his wife, not heeding the late misanthropy;
"Helen is a girl; the ghost of the prior Mrs. Purcell shall be
_rediviva_; and Katy there"------
"Wait a bit, Kate," said her cousin.
"Before you have shuffled off mortality for the whole party, sit down
under this hedge,--here is an opportune bench,--and give me accounts
from the day of my departure."
"Dear me, Roger, as if that were possible! The ocean in a tea-cup? Let
me see,--you had a flirtation with Helen that summer, didn't you? Well,
she spent the next winter at the Fort with the Purcells. It was odd to
miss both her and Mrs. Laudersdale from society at once. Mrs.
Laudersdale was ill; I don't know exactly what the trouble was. You know
she had been in such an unusual state of exhilaration all that summer;
and as soon as she left New Hampshire and began the old city-life, she
became oppressed with a speechless melancholy, I believe, so that the
doctors foreboded insanity. She expressed great disinclination to follow
their advice, and her husband finally banished them all. It was a great
care to him; he altered much. McLean surmised that she didn't like to
see him, while she was in this state; for, though he used to surround
her with every luxury, and was always hunting out new appliances, and
raising the heavens for a trifle, he kept himself carefully out of her
sight during the greater part of the winter. I don't know whether she
became insufferably lonely, or whether the melancholy wore off, or she
conquered it, and decided that it was not right to go crazy for nothing,
or what happened. But one cold March evening he set out for his home,
dreary, as usual, he thought; and he found the fire blazing and
reddening the ceiling and curtains, the room all aglow with rich
shadows, and his wife awaiting him, in full toilet, just as superb as
you will see her tonight, just as sweet and cold and impassible and
impenetrable. At least," continued Mrs. McLean, taking breath, "I have
manufactured this little romance out of odds and ends that McLean has
now and then reported from his conversation. I dare say there isn't a
bit of it true, for Mr. Laudersdale isn't a man to publish his affairs;
but _I_ believe it. One thing is certain: Mrs. Laudersdale withdrew from
society one autumn and returned one spring, and has queened it
"Is Mr. Laudersdale with you?"
"No. But he will come with their daughter shortly."
"And with what do you all occupy yourselves, pray?"
"Oh, with trifles and tea, as you would suppose us to do. Mrs. Purcell
gossips and lounges, as if she were playing with the world for
spectator. Mrs. Laudersdale lounges, and attacks things with her
finger-ends, as if she were longing to remould them. Mrs. McLean gossips
and scolds, as if it depended on her to keep the world in order."
"Are you going to keep me under the hedge all night?"
"This is pretty well! Hush! Who is that?"
As Mrs. McLean spoke, a figure issued from the tall larches on the left,
and crossed the grass in front of them,--a woman, something less tall
than a gypsy queen might be, the round outlines of her form rich and
regular, with a certain firm luxuriance, still wrapped in a morning-robe
of palm-spread cashmere. In her hand she carried various vines and
lichens that had maintained their orange-tawny stains under the winter's
snow, and the black hair that was folded closely over forehead and
temple was crowned with bent sprays of the scarlet maple-blossom. As
vivid a hue dyed her cheek through warm walking, and with a smile of
unconscious content she passed quickly up the slope and disappeared
within the doorway. She impressed the senses of the beholder like some
ripe and luscious fruit, a growth of sunshine and summer.
"Well," said Mrs. McLean, drawing breath again, "who is it?"
"Really, I cannot tell," replied Mr. Raleigh.
"And that I dare not."
"Must I tell you?"
"Was it Mrs. Laudersdale?"
"And shouldn't you have known her?"
"Mercy! Then how did you know me? She is unaltered."
"If that is Mrs. Purcell, at the window, she does not recognize me, you
see; neither did -----. Both she and yourself are nearly the same; one
could not fail to know either of you; but of the Mrs. Laudersdale of
thirteen years ago there remains hardly a vestige."
If Mrs. McLean, at this testimony, indulged in that little inward
satisfaction which the most generous woman may feel, when told that her
color wears better than the color of her dearest friend, it must have
been quickly quenched by the succeeding sentence.
"Yes, she is certainly more beautiful than I ever dreamed of a woman's
being. If she continues, I do not know what perfect thing she will
become. She is too exquisite for common use. I wonder her husband is not
jealous of every mote in the air, of rain and wind, of every day that
passes over her head,--since each must now bear some charm from her in
Mr. Raleigh was talking to Mrs. McLean as one frequently reposes
confidence in a person when quite sure that he will not understand a
word you say.
An hour afterward, Mrs. Purcell joined Mrs. McLean.
"So that is Mr. Raleigh, is it?" she said. "He looks as if he had made
the acquaintance of Siva the Destroyer. There's nothing left of him. Is
he taller, or thinner, or graver, or darker, or what? My dear Kate, your
cousin, that promised to be such a hero, has become a mere
man-of-business. Did you ever burn firecrackers? You have probably found
some that just fizzed out, then." And Mrs. Purcell took an attitude.
"Roger is a much finer man than he was, I think,--so far as I could
judge in the short time we have seen each other," replied Mrs. McLean,
"Do you know," continued Mrs. Purcell, "what makes the Laudersdale so
gay? No? She has a letter from her lord, and he brings you that little
Rite next week. I must send for the Colonel to see such patterns of
conjugal felicity as you and she. Ah, there is the tea-bell!"
Mr. Raleigh was standing with one hand on the back of his chair, when
Mrs. Laudersdale entered. The cheek had resumed its usual pallor, and
she was in her customary colors of black and gold. She carried a
curiously cut crystal glass, which she placed on the sideboard, and then
moved toward her chair. Her eye rested casually for a moment on Mr.
Raleigh, as she crossed the threshold, and then returned with a species
of calm curiosity.
"Mrs. Laudersdale has forgotten me?" he asked, with a bow. His voice,
not susceptible of change in its tone of Southern sweetness,
"Not at all," she replied, moving toward him, and offering him her hand
quietly. "I am happy at meeting Mr. Raleigh again." And she took
There was something in her grasp that relieved him. It was neither
studiedly cold, nor absurdly brief, nor traitorously tremulous. It was
simply and forgetfully indifferent. Mr. Raleigh surveyed her with
interest during the light table-talk. He had been possessed with a
restless wish to see her once more, to ascertain if she had yet any
fraction of her old power over him; he had all the more determinedly
banished himself from the city,--to find her in the country. Now he
sought for some trace of what had formerly aroused his heart. He rose
from table convinced that the woman whom he once loved with the whole
fervor of youth and strength and buoyant life was no more, that she did
not exist, and that Mr. Raleigh might experience a new passion, but his
old one was as dead as the ashes that cover the Five Cities of the
Plain. He wondered how it might be with her. For a moment he cursed his
inconstancy; then he feared lest she were of larger heart and firmer
resolve than he,--lest her love had been less light than his; he could
scarcely feel himself secure of freedom,--he must watch. And then stole
in a deeper sense of loneliness than exile and foreign tongues had
taught him,--the knowledge of being single and solitary in the world,
not only for life, but for eternity.
The evening was passed in the recitation of affairs by himself and his
cousins alone together, and until a week completed its tale of dawns and
sunsets there was the same diurnal recurrence of question and answer.
One day, as the afternoon was paling, Rite came.
Mr. Raleigh had fallen asleep on the vine-hidden seat outside the
bay-window, and was awakened, certainly not by Mrs. Laudersdale's
velvets trailing over the drawing-room carpet. She was just entering,
slow-paced, though in haste. She held out both of her beautiful arms. A
little form of airy lightness, a very snow-wreath, blew into them.
"_O ma maman! Est ce que c'est toi_," it cried. "_O comme tu es douce!
Si belle, si molle, si chere!_" And the fair head was lying beneath the
dark one, the face hidden in the bent and stately neck.
Mr. Raleigh left his seat, unseen, and betook himself to another abode.
As he passed the drawing-room door, on his return, he saw the mother
lying on a lounge, with the slight form nestled beside her, playing with
it as some tame leopardess might play with her silky whelp. It was
almost the only portion of the maternal nature developed within her.
It seemed as if the tea-hour were a fated one. Mr. Raleigh had been out
on the water and was late. As he entered, Rite sprang up,
half-overturning her chair, and ran to clasp his hand.
"I did not know that you and Mr. Raleigh were acquainted," said Mrs.
"Oh, Madam, Mr. Raleigh and I had the pleasure of being shipwrecked
together," was the reply; and except that Mrs. Laudersdale required
another napkin where her cup had spilled, all went on smoothly.
Mrs. Laudersdale took Marguerite entirely to herself for a while. She
seemed, at first, to be like some one suddenly possessed of a new sense,
and who did not know in the least what to do with it; but custom and
familiarity destroyed this sentiment. She did not appear to entertain a
doubt of her child's natural affection, but she had care to fortify it
by the exertion of every charm she possessed. From the presence of
dangerous rivals in the house, an element of determination blended with
her manner, and she moved with a certain conscious power, as if
wonderful energies were but half-latent with her, as if there were
kingdoms to conquer and crowns to win, and she the destined instrument
You would have selected her, at this time of her lavish devotion to
Marguerite, as the one woman of complete capability, of practical
effective force, and have declared that there was nothing beyond her
strength. The relation between herself and her child was certainly as
peculiar as anything else about them; the disparity of age seemed so
slight that they appeared like sisters, full of mutual trust, the
younger leaning on the elder for support in the most trivial affairs.
They walked through the woods together, learned again its glades and
coverts, searched its early treasure of blossoms; they went out on the
lake and spent long April afternoons together, floating about cove and
inlet of island-shores; they returned with innocent gayety to that house
which once the mother, in her moment of passion, had fancied to be a
possible heaven of delight, and which, since, she had found to be a very
indifferent limbo. For, after all, we derive as much happiness from
human beings as from Nature, and it was a tie of placid affection that
bound her to the McLeans, not of sympathetic union, and her husband was
careful never to oppress her with too much of his society. Whether this
woman, who had lived a life of such wordless emotion, who had never
bestowed a confidence, suddenly blossomed like a rose and took the
little new-comer into the gold-dust and fragrance of her heart, or
whether there was always between them the thin impalpable division that
estranged the past from the present, there was nothing to tell; it
seemed, nevertheless, as if they could have no closer bond, had they
read each other's thoughts from birth.
That this assumption of Marguerite could not continue exclusive Mr.
Raleigh found, when now and then joined in his walks by an airy figure
flitting forward at his side: now and then; since Mrs. Laudersdale,
without knowing how to prevent, had manifested an uneasiness at every
such rencontre;--and that it could not endure forever, another
gentleman, without so much reason, congratulated himself,--Mr. Frederic
Heath, the confidential clerk of Day, Knight, and Company,--a rather
supercilious specimen, quite faultlessly got up, who had accompanied her
from New York at her father's request, and who already betrayed every
symptom of the suitor. Meanwhile, Mrs. McLean's little women clamorously
demanded and obtained a share of her attention,--although Capua and
Ursule, with their dark skins, brilliant dyes, and equivocal dialects,
were creatures of a more absorbing interest.
One afternoon, Marguerite came into the drawing-room by one door, as Mr.
Raleigh entered by another; her mother was sitting near the window, and
other members of the family were in the vicinity, having clustered
preparatory to the tea-bell.
Marguerite had twisted tassels of the willow-catkins in her hair,
drooping things, in character with her wavy grace, and that sprinkled
her with their fragrant yellow powder, the very breath of spring; and in
one hand she had imprisoned a premature lace-winged fly, a fairy little
savage, in its sheaths of cobweb and emerald, and with its jewel eyes.
"Dear!" said Mrs. Purcell, gathering her array more closely about her.
"How do you dare touch such a venomous sprite?"
"As if you had an insect at the North with a sting!" replied Marguerite,
suffering it, a little maliciously, to escape in the lady's face, and
following the flight with a laugh of childlike glee.
"Here are your snowflakes on stems, mamma," she continued, dropping
anemones over her mother's hands, one by one;--"that is what Mr. Raleigh
calls them. When may I see the snow? You shall wrap me in eider, that I
may be like all the boughs and branches. How buoyant the earth must be,
when every twig becomes a feather!" And she moved toward Mr. Raleigh,
singing, "Oh, would I had wings like a dove!"
"And here are those which, if not daffodils,
"'Come before the swallow dares, and take
The winds of March with beauty,'"
he said, giving her a basket of hepaticas and winter-green.
Marguerite danced away with the purple trophy, and, emptying a carafe
into a dish of moss that stood near, took them to Mrs. Laudersdale, and,
sitting on the footstool, began to rearrange them. It was curious to
see, that, while Mrs. Laudersdale lifted each blossom and let the stem
lie across her hand, she suffered it to fall into the place designated
for it by Marguerite's fingers, that sparkled in the mosaic till double
wreaths of gold-threaded purple rose from the bed of vivid moss and
melted into a fringe of the starry spires of winter-green.
"Is it not sweet?" said she then, bending over it.
"They have no scent," said her mother.
"Oh, yes, indeed! the very finest, the most delicate, a kind of aerial
perfume; they must of course alchemize the air into which they waste
their fibres with some sweetness."
"A smell of earth fresh from 'wholesome drench of April rains,'" said
Mr. Raleigh, taking the dish of white porcelain between his brown,
slender hands. "An immature scent, just such an innocent breath as
should precede the epigea, that spicy, exhaustive wealth of savor, that
complete maturity of odor, marriage of daphne and linnaea. The charm of
these first bidders for the year's favor is neither in the ethereal
texture, the depth or delicacy of tint, nor the large-lobed,
blood-stained, ancient leaves. This imponderable soul gives them such a
helpless air of babyhood."
"Is fragrance the flower's soul?" asked Marguerite. "Then anemones are
not divinely gifted. And yet you said, the other day, that to paint my
portrait would be to paint an anemone."
"A satisfactory specimen in the family-gallery," said Mrs. Purcell.
"A flaw in the indictment!" replied Mr. Raleigh. "I am not one of those
who paint the lily."
"Though you've certainly added a perfume to the violet," remarked Mr.
Frederic Heath, with that sweetly lingering accent familiarly called the
drawl, as he looked at the hepaticas.
"I don't think it very complimentary, at any rate," continued
Marguerite. "They are not lovely after bloom,--only the little
pink-streaked, budded bells, that hang so demurely. _Oui, da!_ I have
exchanged great queen magnolias for rues; what will you give me for
pomegranates and oleanders?"
"Are the old oleanders in the garden yet?" asked Mrs. Laudersdale.
"Not the very same. The hurricane destroyed those, years ago; these are
others, grand and rosy as sunrise sometimes."
"It was my Aunt Susanne who planted those, I have heard."
"And it was your daughter Rite who planted these."
"She buried a little box of old keepsakes at its foot, after her brother
had examined them,--a ring or two, a coin from which she broke and kept
"Oh, yes! we found the little box, found it when Mr. Heath was in
Martinique, all rusted and moulded and falling apart, and he wears that
half of the coin on his watch-chain. See!"
Mrs. Laudersdale glanced up indifferently, but Mrs. Purcell sprang from
her elegant lounging and bent to look at her brother's chain.
"How odd that I never noticed it, Fred!" she exclaimed. "And how odd
that I should wear the same!" And, shaking her _chatelaine_, she
detached a similar affair.
They were placed side by side in Mr. Raleigh's hand; they matched
entirely, and, so united, they formed a singular French coin of value
and antiquity, the missing figures on one segment supplied by the other,
the embossed profile continued and lost on each, the scroll begun by
this and ended by that; they were plainly severed portions of the
"And this was buried by your Aunt Susanne Le Blanc?" asked Mrs. Purcell,
turning to Mrs. Laudersdale again, with a flush on her cheek.
"So I presume."
"Strange! And this was given to mamma by her mother, whose maiden name
was Susan White. There's some _diablerie_ about it."
"Oh, that is a part of the ceremony of money-hiding," said Mr. Raleigh.
"Kidd always buried a little imp with his pots of gold, you know, to
work deceitful charms on the finder."
"Did he?" said Marguerite, earnestly.
They all laughed thereat, and went in to tea.
[To be continued.]
O Love! the flowers are blowing in park and field,
With love their bursting hearts are all revealed.
So come to me, and all thy fragrance yield!
O Love! the sun is sinking in the west,
And sequent stars all sentinel his rest.
So sleep, while angels watch, upon my breast!
O Love! the flooded moon is at its height,
And trances sea and land with tranquil light.
So shine, and gild with beauty all my night!
O Love! the ocean floods the crooked shore,
Till sighing beaches give their moaning o'er.
So, Love, o'erflow me, till I sigh no more!
THE GOLDEN WEDDING.
O wife! the fragrant Mayflower now appears,
Fresh as the Pilgrims saw it through their tears.
So blows our love through all these changing years.
O wife! the sun is rising in the east,
Nor tires to shine, while ages have increased.
So shines our love, and fills my happy breast
O wife! on yonder beach the ocean sings,
As when it bore the Mayflower's drooping wings.
So in my heart our early love-song rings.
O wife! the moon and stars slide down the west
To make in fresher skies their happy quest.
So, Love, once more we'll wed among the blest!
We were standing in the old English church at Clevedon on a summer
afternoon. And here, said my companion, pausing in the chancel, sleeps
Arthur Hallam, the friend of Alfred Tennyson, and the subject of "In
"'Tis well, 'tis something, we may stand
Where he in English earth is laid."
His burial-place is on a hill overhanging the Bristol Channel, a spot
selected by his father as a fit resting-place for his beloved boy.
"They laid him by the pleasant shore,
And in the hearing of the wave."
Dying at twenty-two, the hope and pride of all who knew him, "remarkable
for the early splendor of his genius," the career of this young man
concentres the interest of more than his native country. Tennyson has
laid upon his early grave a poem which will never let his ashes be
forgotten, or his memory fade like that of common clay. What Southey so
felicitously says of Kirke White applies most eloquently to young
Hallam:--"Just at that age when the painter would have wished to fix his
likeness and the lover of poetry would delight to contemplate him, in
the fair morning of his virtues, the full spring-blossom of his hopes,--
just at that age hath death set the seal of eternity upon him, and the
beautiful hath been made permanent."
Arthur Henry Hallam was born in Bedford Place, London, on the 1st of
February, 1811. The eldest son of Henry Hallam, the eminent historian
and critic, his earliest years had every advantage which culture and
moral excellence could bring to his education. His father has feelingly
commemorated his boyish virtues and talents by recording his "peculiar
clearness of perception, his facility of acquiring knowledge, and, above
all, an undeviating sweetness of disposition, and adherence to his sense
of what was right and becoming." From that tearful record, not publicly
circulated, our recital is partly gathered. Companions of his childhood
have often told us well-remembered incidents of his life, and this is
the too brief story of his earthly career.
When about eight years of age, Arthur resided some time in Germany and
Switzerland, with his father and mother. He had already become familiar
with the French language, and a year later he read Latin with some
facility. Although the father judiciously studied to repress his son's
marked precocity of talent, Arthur wrote about this time several plays
in prose and in rhyme,--compositions which were never exhibited,
however, beyond the family-circle.
At ten years of age he became a pupil at a school in Putney, under the
tuition of an excellent clergyman, where he continued two years. He then
took a short tour on the Continent, and, returning, went to Eton, where
he studied nearly five years. While at Eton, he was reckoned, according
to the usual test at that place, not a first-rate Latin student, for his
mind had a predominant bias toward English literature, and there he
lingered among the exhaustless fountains of the earlier poetry of his
native tongue. One who knew him well in those years has described him to
us as a sweet-voiced lad, moving about the pleasant playing-fields of
Eton with a thoughtful eye and a most kindly expression. Afterwards, as
Tennyson, singing to the witch-elms and the towering sycamore, paints
him, he mixed in all the simple sports, and loved to gather a happy
group about him, as he lay on the grass and discussed grave questions of
state. And again,--
"Thy converse drew us with delight,
The men of rathe and riper years:
The feeble soul, a haunt of fears,
Forgot his weakness in thy sight."
His taste for philosophical poetry increased with his years, and
Wordsworth and Shelley became his prime favorites. His contributions to
the "Eton Miscellany" were various, sometimes in prose and now and then
in verse. A poet by nature, he could not resist the Muse's influence,
and he expressed a genuine emotion, oftentimes elegantly, and never
without a meaning.
In the summer of 1827 he left Eton, and travelled with his parents eight
months in Italy. And now began that life of thought and feeling so
conspicuous to the end of his too brief career. Among the Alps his whole
soul took the impress of those early introductions to what is most
glorious and beautiful in Nature. After passing the mountains, Italian
literature claimed his attention, and he entered upon its study with all
the ardor of a young and earnest student. An Abbate who recognized his
genius encouraged him with his assistance in the difficult art of
Italian versification, and, after a very brief stay in Italy, at the age
of seventeen, he wrote several sonnets which attracted considerable
attention among scholars. Very soon after acquiring the Italian
language, the great Florentine poet opened to him his mystic visions.
Dante became his worship, and his own spirit responded to that of the
author of the "Divina Commedia."
His growing taste led him to admire deeply all that is noble in Art, and
he soon prized with enthusiasm the great pictures of the Venetian, the
Tuscan, and the Roman schools. "His eyes," says his father, "were fixed
on the best pictures with silent, intense delight." One can imagine him
at this period wandering with all the ardor of youthful passion through
the great galleries, not with the stolid stony gaze of a coldblooded
critic, but with that unmixed enthusiasm which so well becomes the
unwearied traveller in his buoyant days of experience among the unveiled
glories of genius now first revealed to his astonished vision.
He returned home in 1828, and went to reside at Cambridge, having been
entered, before his departure for the Continent, at Trinity College. It
is said that he cared little for academical reputation, and in the
severe scrutiny of examination he did not appear as a competitor for
accurate mathematical demonstrations. He knew better than those about
him where his treasures lay,--and to some he may have seemed a dreamer,
to others an indifferent student, perhaps. His aims were higher than the
tutor's black-board, and his life-thoughts ran counter to the usual
college-routine. Disordered health soon began to appear, and a too rapid
determination of blood to the brain often deprived him of the power of
much mental labor. At Florence he had been seized with a slight attack
of the same nature, and there was always a tendency to derangement of
the vital functions. Irregularity of circulation occasioned sometimes a
morbid depression of spirits, and his friends anxiously watched for
symptoms of returning health. In his third Cambridge year he grew
better, and all who knew and loved him rejoiced in his apparent recovery.
About this time, some of his poetical pieces were printed, but withheld
from publication. It was the original intention for the two friends,
Alfred Tennyson and Arthur Hallam, to publish together; but the idea was
abandoned. Such lines as these the young poet addressed to the man who
was afterwards to lend interest and immortality to the story of his
"Alfred, I would that you beheld me now,
Sitting beneath a mossy, ivied wall
On a quaint bench, which to that structure old
Winds an accordant curve. Above my head
Dilates immeasurable a wild of leaves,
Seeming received into the blue expanse
That vaults this summer noon. Before me lies
A lawn of English verdure, smooth, and bright,
Mottled with fainter hues of early hay,
Whose fragrance, blended with the rose-perfume
From that white flowering bush, invites my sense
To a delicious madness,--and faint thoughts
Of childish years are borne into my brain
By unforgotten ardors waking now.
Beyond, a gentle slope leads into shade
Of mighty trees, to bend whose eminent crown
Is the prime labor of the pettish winds,
That now in lighter mood are twirling leaves
Over my feet, or hurrying butterflies,
And the gay humming things that summer loves,
Through the warm air, or altering the bound
Where yon elm-shadows in majestic line
Divide dominion with the abundant light."
And this fine descriptive passage was also written at this period of his
"The garden trees are busy with the shower
That fell ere sunset: now methinks they talk,
Lowly and sweetly, as befits the hour,
One to another down the grassy walk.
Hark! the laburnum from his opening flower
This cheery creeper greets in whisper light,
While the grim fir, rejoicing in the night,
Hoarse mutters to the murmuring sycamore.
What shall I deem their converse? Would they hail
The wild gray light that fronts yon massive cloud,
Or the half-bow rising like pillared fire?
Or are they sighing faintly for desire
That with May dawn their leaves may be o'erflowed,
And dews about their feet may never fail?"
The first college prize for English declamation was awarded to him this
year; and his exercise, "The Conduct of the Independent Party during the
Civil War," greatly improved his standing at the University. Other
honors quickly followed his successful essay, and he was chosen to
deliver an oration in the College Chapel just before the Christmas
vacation. This was in the year 1831. He selected as his subject the one
eminently congenial to his thought; and his theme, "The Influence of
Italian upon English Literature," was admirably treated. The oration is
before us as we write, and we turn the pages with a fond and loving eye.
We remember, as we read, his brief sojourn,--that he died "in the sweet
hour of prime,"--and we are astonished at the eloquent wisdom displayed
by a lad of twenty summers. "I cannot help considering," he says, "the
sonnets of Shakspeare as a sort of homage to the Genius of Christian
Europe, necessarily exacted, although voluntarily paid, before he was
allowed to take in hand the sceptre of his endless dominion." And he
ends his charming disquisition in these words;--"An English mind that
has drunk deep at the sources of Southern inspiration, and especially
that is imbued with the spirit of the mighty Florentine, will be
conscious of a perpetual freshness and quiet beauty resting on his
imagination and spreading gently over his affections, until, by the
blessing of Heaven, it may be absorbed without loss in the pure inner
light of which that voice has spoken, as no other can,--
"'Light intellectual, yet full of love,
Love of true beauty, therefore full of joy,
Joy, every other sweetness far above.'"
It was young Hallam's privilege to be among Coleridge's favorites, and
in one of his poems Arthur alludes to him as a man in whose face "every
line wore the pale cast of thought." His conversations with "the old man
eloquent" gave him intense delight, and he often alluded to the
wonderful talks he had enjoyed with the great dreamer, whose magical
richness of illustration took him captive for the time being.
At Abbotsford he became known to Sir Walter Scott, and Lockhart thus
chronicles his visit:--
"Among a few other friends from a distance, Sir Walter received this
summer  a short visit from Mr. Hallam, and made in his company
several of the little excursions which had in former days been of
constant recurrence. Mr. Hallam had with him his son, Arthur, a young
gentleman of extraordinary abilities, and as modest as able, who not
long afterwards was cut off in the very bloom of opening life and
genius. His beautiful verses, 'On Melrose seen in Company with Scott,'
have since been often printed."
"I lived an hour in fair Melrose:
It was not when 'the pale moonlight'
Its magnifying charm bestows;
Yet deem I that I 'viewed it right.'
The wind-swept shadows fast careered,
Like living things that joyed or feared,
Adown the sunny Eildon Hill,
And the sweet winding Tweed the distance crowned well.
"I inly laughed to see that scene
Wear such a countenance of youth,
Though many an age those hills were green,
And yonder river glided smooth,
Ere in these now disjointed walls
The Mother Church held festivals,
And full-voiced anthemings the while
Swelled from the choir, and lingered down the echoing aisle.
"I coveted that Abbey's doom:
For if, I thought, the early flowers
Of our affection may not bloom,
Like those green hills, through countless hours,
Grant me at least a tardy waning
Some pleasure still in age's paining;
Though lines and forms must fade away,
Still may old Beauty share the empire of Decay!
"But looking toward the grassy mound
Where calm the Douglas chieftains lie,
Who, living, quiet never found,
I straightway learnt a lesson high:
And well I knew that thoughtful mien
Of him whose early lyre had thrown
Over these mouldering walls the magic of its tone.
"Then ceased I from my envying state,
And knew that aweless intellect
Hath power upon the ways of Fate,
And works through time and space uncheck'd.
That minstrel of old Chivalry
In the cold grave must come to be;
But his transmitted thoughts have part
In the collective mind, and never shall depart.
"It was a comfort, too, to see
Those dogs that from him ne'er would rove,
And always eyed him reverently,
With glances of depending love.
They know not of that eminence
Which marks him to my reasoning sense;
They know but that he is a man,
And still to them is kind, and glads them all he can.
"And hence their quiet looks confiding,
Hence grateful instincts seated deep,
By whose strong bond, were ill betiding,
They'd risk their own his life to keep.
What joy to watch in lower creature
Such dawning of a moral nature,
And how (the rule all things obey)
They look to a higher mind to be their law and stay!"
At the University he lived a sweet and gracious life. No man had truer
or fonder friends, or was more admired for his excellent
accomplishments. Earnest in whatever he attempted, his enthusiasm for
all that was high and holy in literature stamped his career at Trinity
as one of remarkable superiority. "I have known many young men, both at
Oxford and elsewhere, of whose abilities I think highly, but I never met
with one whom I considered worthy of being put into competition with
Arthur for a moment," writes his early and intimate friend. "I can
scarcely hope to describe the feelings with which I regarded him, much
less the daily beauty of his existence, out of which they grew," writes
another of his companions. Politics, literature, philosophy he discussed
with a metaphysical subtilty marvellous in one so young. The highest
comprehension seemed native to his mind, so that all who came within the