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Atlantic Monthly Volume 7, No. 39, January, 1861 by Various

Part 4 out of 5

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to Mr. Thomas Hammond, a medical man, residing in Church Street,
Edmonton, and exactly two miles from Enfield. This arrangement appeared
to give him satisfaction; and I fear that it was the most placid period
of his painful life; for now, with the exception of the duty he had to
perform in the surgery, and which was by no means an onerous one, his
whole leisure hours were employed in indulging his passion for reading
and translating. It was during his apprenticeship that he finished the
latter portion of the "Aeneid."

The distance between our residences being so short, I encouraged his
inclination to come over, when he could be spared; and in consequence,
I saw him about five or six times a month, commonly on Wednesdays and
Saturdays, those afternoons being my own most leisure times. He rarely
came empty-handed; either he had a book to read, or brought one with him
to be exchanged. When the weather permitted, we always sat in an arbor
at the end of a spacious garden, and, in Boswellian phrase, "we had good
talk."

I cannot at this time remember what was the spark that fired the train
of his poetical tendencies,--I do not remember what was the first
signalized poetry he read; but he must have given me unmistakable tokens
of his bent of taste; otherwise, at that early stage of his career, I
never could have read to him the "Epithalamion" of Spenser; and this I
perfectly remember having done, and in that (to me) hallowed old arbor,
the scene of many bland and graceful associations,--all the substances
having passed away. He was at that time, I should suppose, fifteen or
sixteen years old; and at that period of life he certainly appreciated
the general beauty of the composition, and felt the more passionate
passages; for his features and exclamations were ecstatic. How often
have I in after-times heard him quote these lines:--

"Behold, whiles she before the altar stands,
Hearing the holy priest that to her speaks,
And blesses her with his two happy hands,
How the red roses flush up in her cheeks!
And the pure snow, with goodly vermil stain,
Like crimson dyed in grain,
That even the angels, which continually
About the sacred altar do remain,
Forget their service, and about her fly,
_Oft peeping in her face, that seems more fair,
The more they on it stare;_
But her sad eyes, still fastened on the ground,
Are governed with goodly modesty,
That suffers not one look to glance awry,
Which may let in a little thought unsound."

That night he took away with him the first volume of the "Faery Queen,"
and went through it, as I told his biographer, Mr. Monckton Milnes, "as
a young horse would through a spring meadow,--ramping!" Like a true
poet, too,--a poet "born, not manufactured,"--a poet in grain,--he
especially singled out the epithets, for that felicity and power in
which Spenser is so eminent. He hoisted himself up, and looked burly
and dominant, as he said,--"What an image that is,--_'Sea-shouldering
whales'!_"

It was a treat to see as well as hear him read a pathetic passage. Once,
when reading the "Cymbeline" aloud', I saw his eyes fill with tears, and
for some moments he was unable to proceed, when he came to the departure
of Posthumus, and Imogen's saying she would have watched him

"till the diminution
Of space had pointed him sharp as my needle;
Nay, followed him till he had _melted from
The smallness of a gnat to air_; and then
Have _turned mine eye and wept_."

I cannot quite reconcile the time of our separating at this stage of his
career,--which of us first went to London; but it was upon an occasion
when I was walking thither, and, I think, to see Leigh Hunt, who had
just fulfilled his penalty of confinement in Horsemonger-Lane Prison for
the trivial libel upon the Prince Regent, that Keats, who was coming
over to Enfield, met me, and, turning, accompanied me back part of the
way to Edmonton. At the last field-gate, when taking leave, he gave
me the sonnet entitled, "Written on the Day that Mr. Leigh Hunt left
Prison." Unless I am utterly mistaken, this was the first proof I had
received of his having committed himself in verse; and how clearly can I
recall the conscious look with which he hesitatingly offered it! There
are some momentary glances of beloved friends that fade only with life.
I am not in a position to contradict the statement of his biographer,
that "the lines in imitation of Spenser,

"'Now Morning from her orient charger came,
And her first footsteps touched a verdant hill,' etc.,

"are the earliest known verses of his composition"; from the subject
being the inspiration of his first love--and such a love!--in poetry, it
is most probable; but certainly his first published poem was the sonnet
commencing,

'O Solitude! if I must with thee dwell';

and that will be found in the "Examiner," some time, as I conjecture,
in 1816,--for I have not the paper to refer to, and, indeed, at this
distance, both of time and removal from the means of verification, I
would not be dogmatical.

When we both had come to London,--he to enter as a student of St.
Thomas's Hospital,--he was not long in discovering that my abode was
with my brother-in-law, in Little Warner Street, Clerkenwell; and
just at that time I was installed housekeeper, and was solitary. He,
therefore, would come and revive his loved gossip, till, as the author
of the "Urn Burial" says, "we were acting our antipodes,--the huntsmen
were up in America, and they already were past their first sleep in
Persia." At this time he lived in his first lodging upon coming to
London, near to St. Thomas's Hospital. I find his address in a letter
which must have preceded my appointing him to come and lighten my
darkness in Clerkenwell. At the close of the letter, he says,--"Although
the Borough is a beastly place in dirt, turnings, and windings, yet
No. 8, Dean Street, is not difficult to find; and if you would run the
gauntlet over London Bridge, take the first turning to the left, and
then the first to the right, and, moreover, knock at my door, which is
nearly opposite a meeting, you would do me a charity, which, as St. Paul
saith, is the father of all the virtues. At all events, let me hear from
you soon: I say, at all events, not excepting the gout in your fingers."
I have little doubt that this letter (which has no other date than the
day of the week, and no post-mark) preceded our first symposium; and a
memorable night it was in my life's career.

A copy, and a beautiful one, of the folio edition of Chapman's Homer had
been lent me. It was the property of Mr. Alsager, the gentleman who
for years had contributed no small share of celebrity to the great
reputation of the "Times" newspaper, by the masterly manner in which he
conducted the money-market department of that journal. At the time
when I was first introduced to Mr. Alsager, he was living opposite
Horsemonger-Lane Prison; and upon Mr. Leigh Hunt's being sentenced for
the libel, his first day's dinner was sent over by Mr. Alsager. He was
a man of the most studiously correct demeanor, with a highly cultivated
taste and judgment in the fine arts and music. He succeeded Hazlitt,
(which was no insignificant honor,) and for some time contributed the
critiques upon the theatres, but ended by being the reporter of the
state of the money-market. He had long been accustomed to have the first
trial at his own house of the best-reputed new foreign instrumental
music, which he used to import from Germany.

Well, then, we were put in possession of the Homer of Chapman, and to
work we went, turning to some of the "famousest" passages, as we had
scrappily known them in Pope's version. There was, for instance, that
perfect scene of the conversation on Troy wall of the old Senators with
Helen, who is pointing out to them the several Greek captains, with that
wonderfully vivid portrait of an orator, in Ulysses, in the Third Book,
beginning at the 237th line,--

"But when the prudent Ithacus did to his counsels rise";

the helmet and shield of Diomed, in the opening of the Fifth Book; the
prodigious description of Neptune's passage in his chariot to the Achive
ships, in the opening of the Thirteenth Book,--

"The woods, and all the great hills near,
trembled beneath the weight
Of his immortal moving feet."

The last was the whole of the shipwreck of Ulysses in the Fifth Book of
the "Odyssey." I think his expression of delight, during the reading of
those dozen lines, was never surpassed:--

"Then forth he came, his both knees faltering, both
His strong hands hanging down, and all with froth
His cheeks and nostrils flowing, voice and breath
Spent to all use, and down he sunk to death.
_The sea had soaked his heart through_; all his veins
His toils had racked t' a laboring woman's pains.
Dead weary was he."

On an after-occasion I showed him the couplet of Pope's upon the same
passage:--

"From mouth and nose the briny torrent ran,
_And lost in lassitude, lay all the man._"

Chapman supplied us with many an after-feast; but it was in the teeming
wonderment of this, his first introduction, that, when I came down to
breakfast the next morning, I found upon my table a letter with no other
inclosure than his famous sonnet, "On first looking into Chapman's
Homer." We had parted, as I have already said, at day-spring; yet he
contrived that I should receive the poem, from a distance of nearly two
miles, before 10, A.M. In the published copy of this sonnet he made an
alteration in the seventh line:--

"Yet did I never breathe its pure serene."

The original, which he sent me, had the phrase,

"Yet could I never tell what men could mean";

which he said was bald, and too simply wondering. No one could more
earnestly chastise his thoughts than Keats. His favorite among Chapman's
Hymns of Homer was the one to Pan, and which he himself rivalled in the
"Endymion."

In one of our conversations about this period, I alluded to his position
at St. Thomas's Hospital,--coasting and reconnoitring, as it were, that
I might discover how he got on, and, with the total absorption that
had evidently taken place of every other mood of his mind than that of
imaginative composition, what was his bias for the future, and what his
feeling with regard to the profession that had been _chosen for him_,--a
circumstance I did not know at that time. He made no secret, however,
that he could not sympathize with the science of anatomy, as a main
pursuit in life; for one of the expressions that he used, in describing
his unfitness for its mastery, was perfectly characteristic. He said, in
illustration of his argument,--"The other day, for instance, during the
lecture, there came a sunbeam into the room, and with it a whole troop
of creatures floating in the ray; and I was off with them to Oberon
and Fairy-land." And yet, with all this self-styled unfitness for the
pursuit, I was afterwards informed, that at his subsequent
examination he displayed an amount of acquirement which surprised his
fellow-students, who had scarcely any other association with him than
that of a cheerful, crochety rhymester.

It was about this period, that, going to call upon Mr. Leigh Hunt,
who then occupied a pretty little cottage in the "Vale of Health," on
Hampstead Heath, I took with me two or three of the poems I had received
from Keats. I did expect that Hunt would speak encouragingly, and indeed
approvingly, of the compositions,--written, too, by a youth under age;
but my partial spirit was not prepared for the unhesitating and prompt
admiration which broke forth before he had read twenty lines of the
first poem. Mr. Horace Smith happened to be there, on the occasion, and
was not less demonstrative in his praise of their merits. The piece
which he read out, I remember, was the sonnet,--

"How many bards gild the lapses of time!"

marking with particular emphasis and approbation the last six lines:--

"So the unnumbered sounds that evening store,--
The songs of birds, the whispering of the leaves,
The voice of waters, the great bell that heaves
With solemn sound, and thousand others more,
_That distance of recognizance bereaves_,--
Make pleasing music, and not wild uproar."

Smith repeated, with applause, the line in Italics, saying, "What a
well-condensed expression!" After making numerous and eager inquiries
about him, personally, and with reference to any peculiarities of mind
and manner, the visit ended in my being requested to bring him over
to the Vale of Health. That was a red-letter day in the young poet's
life,--and one which will never fade with me, as long as memory lasts.
The character and expression of Keats's features would unfailingly
arrest even the casual passenger in the street; and now they were
wrought to a tone of animation that I could not but watch with
intense interest, knowing what was in store for him from the bland
encouragement, and Spartan deference in attention, with fascinating
conversational eloquence, that he was to receive and encounter. When we
reached the Heath, I have present the rising and accelerated step, with
the gradual subsidence of all talk, as we drew towards the cottage. The
interview, which stretched into three "morning calls," was the
prelude to many after-scenes and saunterings about Caen Wood and its
neighborhood; for Keats was suddenly made a familiar of the household,
and was always welcomed.

It was in the library at Hunt's cottage, where an extemporary bed had
been made up for him on the sofa, that he composed the framework and
many lines of the poem on "Sleep and Poetry,"--the last sixty or seventy
being an inventory of the art-garniture of the room. The sonnet,

"Keen, fitful gusts are whispering here and there,"

he gave me the day after one of our visits, and very shortly after his
installation at the cottage.

"Give me a golden pen, and let me lean,"

was another, upon being compelled to leave "at an early hour." But the
occasion that recurs to me with the liveliest interest was the evening
when, some observations having been made upon the character, habits,
and pleasant associations of that reverenced denizen of the hearth,
the cheerful little fireside grasshopper, Hunt proposed to Keats the
challenge of writing, then, there, and to time, a sonnet "On the
Grasshopper and the Cricket." No one was present but myself, and they
accordingly set to. I, absent with a book at the end of the sofa, could
not avoid furtive glances, every now and then, at the emulants. I cannot
say how long the trial lasted; I was not proposed umpire, and had no
stop-watch for the occasion: the time, however, was short, for such
a performance; and Keats won, as to time. But the event of the
after-scrutiny was one of many such occurrences which have riveted the
memory of Leigh Hunt in my affectionate regard and admiration, for
unaffected generosity and perfectly unpretentious encouragement: his
sincere look of pleasure at the first line,--

"The poetry of earth is never dead";

"Such a prosperous opening!" he said; and when he came to the tenth and
eleventh lines,--

"On a lone winter evening, _when the frost
Has wrought a silence_";

"Ah! that's perfect! bravo, Keats!"--and then he went on in a dilation
upon, the dumbness of all Nature during the season's suspension and
torpidity. With all the kind and gratifying things that were said to
him, Keats protested to me, as we were afterwards walking home, that he
preferred Hunt's treatment of the subject to his own.

He had left the neighborhood of the Borough, and was now living with his
brothers in apartments on the second floor of a house in the Poultry,
over the passage leading to the Queen's Head Tavern, and opposite one of
the City Companies' Halls,--the Ironmongers', if I mistake not. I have
the associating reminiscence of many happy hours spent in this lodging.
Here was determined upon, in great part written, and sent forth to the
world, the first little, but vigorous, offspring of his brain:--

POEMS
BY
JOHN KEATS.

"What more felicity can fell to creature
Than to enjoy delight with liberty?"

Fate of the Butterfly,--SPENSER

LONDON:
PRINTED FOR
C. AND J. OLLIER, 3, WELBECK STREET,
CAVENDISH SQUARE.
1817.

Here, on the evening that the last proof-sheet was brought from the
printer, and, as his biographer has recorded, upon being informed, if
he purposed having a Dedication to the book, that it must be sent
forthwith, he went to a side-table, and, in the midst of mixed
conversation (for there were several friends in the room,) he brought to
Charles Ollier, the publisher, the Dedication-Sonnet to Leigh Hunt. If
the original manuscript of that poem--a legitimate sonnet, with
every restriction of rhyme and metre--could now be produced, and the
time--recorded in which it was written, it would be pronounced an
extraordinary performance; added to which, the non-alteration of a
single word in the poem (a circumstance noted at the time) claims for
it, I should suppose, a merit without a parallel.

"The poem which commences the volume," says Mr. Monckton Milnes, "was
suggested to Keats by a delightful summer's day, as he stood beside the
gate that loads from the battery on Hampstead Heath into a field by Caen
Wood"; and the lovely passage beginning,

"Linger awhile upon some bending planks,"

and which contains the description of the "swarms of minnows that show
their little heads," Keats told me was the recollection of our having
frequently loitered over the rail of a foot-bridge that spanned a little
brook in the last field upon entering Edmonton. He himself thought the
picture was correct, and liked it; and I do not know who could improve
it.

Another example of his promptly suggestive imagination, and uncommon
facility in giving it utterance, occurred one day upon his returning
home and finding me asleep upon the sofa, with my volume of Chaucer open
at the "Flower and the Leaf." After expressing his admiration of the
poem, which he had been reading, he gave me the fine testimony of that
opinion, in pointing to the sonnet he had written at the close of it,
which was an extempore effusion, and it has not the alteration of a
single word. It lies before me now, signed, "J.K., Feb., 1817."

If my memory does not betray me, this charming out-door fancy-scene was
Keats's first introduction to Chaucer. Certain I am that the "Troilus
and Cresseide" was an after-acquaintance; and clearly do I remember his
approbation of the favorite passages that I had marked. I desired him to
retrace the poem, and with his pen confirm and denote those which were
congenial with his own feeling and judgment. These two circumstances,
connected with the literary career of this cherished object of his
friend's esteem and love, have stamped a priceless value upon that
friend's miniature 18mo copy of Chaucer.

The little first volume of Keats's Muse was launched amid the cheers and
fond anticipations of all his circle. Every one of us expected that it
would create a sensation in the literary world; and we calculated upon,
at least, a succession of reprints. Alas! it might have emerged in
Timbuctoo with stronger chance of fame and favor. It never passed to a
second edition; the first was but a small one, and that was never sold
off. The whole community, as if by compact, determined to know nothing
about it. The word had been passed that its author was a Radical; and in
those blessed days of "Bible-Crown-and-Constitution" supremacy, he might
with better chance of success have been a robber,--there were many
prosperous public ones,--if he had also been an Anti-Jacobin. Keats had
made no demonstration of political opinion; but he had dedicated his
book to Leigh Hunt, a Radical news-writer, and a dubbed partisan of the
French ruler, because he did not call him the "Corsican monster," and
other disgusting names. Verily, "the former times were _not_ better than
these." Men can now write the word "Liberty" without being chalked on
the back and hounded out.

Poor Keats! he little anticipated, and as little deserved, the cowardly
and scoundrel treatment that was in store for him upon the publication
of his second composition, the "Endymion." It was in the interval of
the two productions that he had moved from the Poultry, and had taken a
lodging in Well Walk, Hampstead,--in the first or second house, on the
right hand, going up to the Heath. I have an impression that he had been
some weeks absent at the sea-side before settling in this domicile; for
the "Endymion" had been begun, and he had made considerable advances in
his plan. He came to me one Sunday, and I walked with him, spending
the whole day in Well Walk. His constant and enviable friend Severn,
I remember, was present on the occasion, by the circumstance of our
exchanging looks upon Keats's reading to us portions of his new work
that had pleased himself. One of these, I think, was the "Hymn to Pan";
and another, I am sure, was the "Bower of Adonis," because his own
expression of face will never pass from me (if I were a Reynolds or a
Gainsborough, I could now stamp it forever) as he read the description
of the latter, with the descent and ascent of the ear of Venus. The
"Hymn to Pan" occurs early in the First Book:--

"O thou, whose mighty palace-roof doth hang
From jagged trunks," etc.

And the "Bower of Adonis," in the Second Book, commences,--

"After a thousand mazes overgone."

Keats was indebted for his introduction to Mr. Severn to his
school-fellow Edward Holmes, who also had been one of the child-scholars
at Enfield; for he came to us in the frock-dress. They were sworn
companions at school, and remained friends through life. Mr. Holmes
ought to have been an educated musician from his first childhood; for
the passion was in him. I used to amuse myself with the piano-forte
after supper, when all had gone to bed. Upon some sudden occasion,
leaving the parlor, I heard a scuffle on the stairs, and discovered that
my young gentleman had left his bed to hear the music. At other times,
during the day, and in the intervals of school-hours, he would stand
under the window, listening. He at length intrusted to me his heart's
secret, that he should like to learn music. So I taught him his notes;
and he soon knew and could do as much as his tutor. Upon leaving
Enfield, he was apprenticed to the elder Seeley, a bookseller in Fleet
Street; but, hating his occupation, left it, I believe, before he was of
age. He had not lost sight of me; and I introduced him to Mr. Vincent
Novello, who had made himself a friend to me, and who not merely, with
rare profusion of bounty, gave Holmes instruction, but received him into
his house, and made him one of his family. With them he resided some
years. I was also the fortunate means of recommending him to the chief
proprietor of the "Atlas" newspaper; and to that journal, during a long
period, he contributed a series of essays and critiques upon the science
and practice of music, which raised the journal into a reference and an
authority in the art. He wrote for the proprietors of the "Atlas"
that elegant little book of dilettante criticism, "A Ramble among the
Musicians in Germany." He latterly contributed to the "Musical Times" a
whole series of masterly essays and analyses upon the Masses of Haydn,
Mozart, and Beethoven. But the work upon which his reputation will rest
was a "Life of Mozart," which was purchased by Chapman and Hall.

I have said that Holmes used to listen on the stairs. In after-years,
when Keats was reading to me his "Eve of St. Agnes," (and what a happy
day was that! I had come up to see him from Ramsgate, where I then
lived,) at the passage where Porphyro in Madeleine's chamber is
fearfully listening to the hubbub of the icing and the music in the hall
below, and the verse says,--

"The boisterous midnight festive clarion,
The kettle-drum and far-heard clarionet,
Affray his ears, though but in dying tone:
_The hall-door shuts again, and all the noise is gone_,"--

"That line," said he, "came into my head when I remembered how I used to
listen, in bed, to your music at school." Interesting would be a record
of the germs and first causes of all the greatest poets' conceptions!
The elder Brunei's first hint for his "shield," in constructing the
tunnel under the Thames, was taken from watching the labor of a
sea-insect, which, having a projecting hood, could bore into the ship's
timber, unmolested by the waves.

I fancy it was about this time that Keats gave that signal example of
his courage and stamina, in the recorded instance of his pugilistic
contest with a butcher-boy. He told me--and in his characteristic
manner--of their "passage of _arms_." The brute, he said, was tormenting
a kitten, and he interfered, when a threat offered was enough for his
mettle, and they set to. He thought he, should be beaten; for the fellow
was the taller and stronger; but, like an authentic pugilist, my young
poet found that he had planted a blow which "told" upon his antagonist.
In every succeeding round, therefore, (for they fought nearly an hour,)
he never failed of returning to the weak point; and the contest ended
in the hulk being led or carried home. In all my knowledge of my
fellow-beings, I never knew one who so thoroughly combined the sweetness
with the power of gentleness and the irresistible sway of anger as
Keats. His indignation would have made the boldest grave; and those who
have seen him under the influence of tyranny, injustice, and meanness of
soul will never forget the expression of his features,--"the form of his
visage was changed."

He had a strong sense of humor; yet, so to speak, he was not, in the
strict sense of the term, a humorist. His comic fancy lurked in the
outermost and most unlooked-for images of association,--which, indeed,
maybe said to be the components of humor; nevertheless, I think they
did not extend beyond the _quaint_, in fulfilment and success. But his
perception of humor, with the power of transmitting it by imitation, was
both vivid and irresistibly amusing. He once described to me his having
gone to see a bear-baiting,--the animal, the property of a Mr. Tom
Oliver. The performance not having began, Keats was near to and watched
a young aspirant, who had brought a younger under his wing to witness
the solemnity, and whom he oppressively patronized, instructing him in
the names and qualities of all the magnates present. Now and then, in
his zeal to manifest and impart his knowledge, he would forget himself,
and stray beyond the prescribed bounds, into the ring,--to the lashing
resentment of its comptroller, Mr. William Soames; who, after some hints
of a practical nature, to "keep back," began laying about him with
indiscriminate and unmitigable vivacity,--the Peripatetic signifying to
his pupil,--"My eyes! Bill Soames giv' me sich a licker!"--evidently
grateful, and considering himself complimented, upon being included in
the general dispensation. Keats's entertainment with this minor scene of
low life has often recurred to me. But his subsequent description of the
baiting, with his position, of his legs and arms bent and shortened,
till he looked like Bruin on his hind-legs, dabbing his fore-paws hither
and thither, as the dogs snapped at him, and now and then acting the
gasp of one that had been suddenly caught and hugged, his own capacious
mouth adding force to the personation, was a memorable display. I am
never reminded of this amusing relation, but it is associated with that
forcible picture in Shakspeare, (and what subject can we not associate
with him?) in the "Henry VI":--

"as a bear encompassed round with dogs,
Who having _pinched_ a few and _made them cry_,
The rest stand all aloof and bark at him."

Keats also attended a prize-fight between two of the most skilful and
enduring "light-weights,"--Randal and Turner. It was, I believe, at
that remarkable wager, when, the men being so equally matched and
accomplished, they had been sparring for three-quarters of an hour
before a blow had been struck. In describing the rapidity of Randal's
blows while the other was falling, Keats tapped his fingers on the
window-pane.

I make no apology for recording these events in his life; they are
characteristics of the natural man,--and prove, moreover, that the
indulgence in such exhibitions did not for one moment blunt the gentler
emotions of his heart, or vulgarize his inborn love of all that was
beautiful and true. His own line was the axiom of his moral existence,
his political creed:--"A thing of beauty is a joy forever"; and I can
fancy no coarser consociation able to win him from this faith. Had he
been born in squalor, he would have emerged a gentleman. Keats was not
an easily swayable man; in differing with those he loved, his firmness
kept equal pace with the sweetness of his persuasion; but with the rough
and the unlovable he kept no terms,--within the conventional precincts,
I mean, of social order.

From Well Walk he moved to another quarter of the Heath,--Wentworth
Place the name, if I recollect. Here he became a sharing inmate with Mr.
Charles Armitage Brown, a gentleman who had been a Russia merchant, and
had retired to a literary leisure upon an independence. I do not know
how they became acquainted; but Keats never had a more zealous, a
firmer, or more practical friend and adviser than Brown. His robust
eagerness and zeal, with a headstrong determination of will, led him
into an undue prejudice against the brother, George, respecting some
money-transactions with John, which, however, the former redeemed to the
perfect satisfaction of all the friends of the family. After the death
of Keats, Armitage Brown went to reside in Florence, where he remained
some few years; then he settled at Plymouth, and there brought out a
work entitled, "Shakespeare's Autobiographical Poems. Being his Sonnets
clearly developed; with his Character, drawn chiefly from his Works."
It cannot be said that in this work the author has clearly educed his
theory; but, in the face of his failure upon that main point, the book
is interesting, for the heart-whole zeal and homage with which he has
gone into his subject. Brown was no half-measure man; "whatsoever his
hand found to do, he did it with his might." His last stage-scene in
life was passed in New Zealand, whither he emigrated with his son,
having purchased some land,--or, as his own letter stated, having been
thoroughly defrauded in the transaction. Brown accompanied Keats in his
tour in the Hebrides, a worthy event in the poet's career, seeing that
it led to the production of that magnificent sonnet to "Ailsa Rock." As
a passing observation, and to show how the minutest circumstance did not
escape him, he told me, that, when he first came upon the view of Loch
Lomond, the sun was setting; the lake was in shade, and of a deep blue;
and at the farther end was "_a slash across it_, of deep orange." The
description of the traceried window in the "Eve of St. Agnes" gives
proof of the intensity of his feeling for color.

It was during his abode in Wentworth Place that the savage and vulgar
attacks upon the "Endymion" appeared in the "Quarterly Review," and
in "Blackwood's Magazine." There was, indeed, ruffian, low-lived
work,--especially in the latter publication, which had reached a pitch
of blackguardism, (it used to be called "Blackguard's Magazine,") with
_personal abuse_,--ABUSE,--the only word,--that would damage the sale
of any review at this day. The very reverse of its present management.
There would not now be the _inclination_ for such rascal bush-fighting;
and even then, or indeed at any period of the Magazine's career, the
stalwart and noble mind of John Wilson would never have made itself
editorially responsible for such trash. As to him of the "Quarterly," a
thimble would have been "a mansion, a court," for his whole soul. The
style of the articles directed against the Radical writers, and those
especially whom the party had nicknamed the "Cockney school" of poetry,
may be conceived by its provoking the following observation from Hazlitt
to me:--"To pay those fellows, Sir, _in their own coin_, the way would
be, to begin with Walter Scott, and _have at his clump-foot_." "Verily,
the former times were not better than these."

To say that these disgusting misrepresentations did not affect the
consciousness and self-respect of Keats would be to underrate the
sensitiveness of his nature. He felt the insult, but more the injustice
of the treatment he had received; he told me so, as we lay awake one
night, when I slept in his brother's bed. They had injured him in the
most wanton manner; but if they, or my Lord Byron, ever for one moment
supposed that he was crushed or even cowed in spirit by the treatment he
had received, never were they more deluded. "Snuffed out by an article,"
indeed! He had infinitely more magnanimity, in its fullest sense,
than that very spoiled, self-willed, and mean-souled man,--and I have
authority for the last term. To say nothing of personal and private
transactions, pages 204-207 in the first volume of Mr. Monckton Milnes's
life of our poet will be full authority for my estimate of his Lordship.
"Johnny Keats" had, indeed, "a little body with a mighty heart," and
he showed it in the best way: not by fighting the ruffians,--though
he could have done that,--but by the resolve that he would produce
brain-work which not one of their party could approach; and he did.

In the year 1820 appeared the "Lamia," "Isabella," "Eve of St. Agnes,"
and "Hyperion," etc. But, alas! the insidious disease which carried him
off had made its approach, and he was going to, or had already departed
for, Italy, attended by his constant and self-sacrificing friend,
Severn. Keats's mother died of consumption; and he nursed his younger
brother in the same disease, to the last,--and, by so doing, in all
probability, hastened his own summons. Upon the publication of the last
volume of poems, Charles Lamb wrote one of his own finely appreciative
and cordial critiques in the "Morning Chronicle." This was sent to me in
the country, where I had for some time resided. I had not heard of the
dangerous state of Keats's health,--only that he and Severn were going
to Italy; it was, therefore, an unprepared shock which brought me the
news that he had died in Rome.

Mr. Monckton Milnes has related the anecdote of Keats's introduction to
Wordsworth, with the latter's appreciation of the "Hymn to Pan," which
its author had been desired to repeat, and the Rydal Mount poet's
snow-capped comment upon it,--"Uhm! a pretty piece of Paganism!" Mr.
Milnes, with his genial and placable nature, has made an amiable defence
for the apparent coldness of Wordsworth's appreciation,--"That it was
probably intended for some slight rebuke to his youthful compeer,
whom he saw absorbed in an order of ideas that to him appeared merely
sensuous, and would have desired that the bright traits of Greek
mythology should be sobered down by a graver faith." Keats, like
Shakspeare, and every other true poet, put his whole soul into what he
imagined, portrayed, or embodied; and hence he appeared the young Greek,
"suckled in that creed outworn." The wonder is, that Mr. Wordsworth
forgot to quote himself. From Keats's description of his Mentor's
manner, as well as behavior, that evening, I cannot but believe it to
have been one of the usual ebullitions of the egoism, not to say of the
uneasiness, known to those who were accustomed to hear the great moral
philosopher discourse upon his own productions and descant upon those
of a contemporary. During this same visit, he was dilating upon some
question in poetry, when, upon Keats's insinuating a confirmatory
suggestion to his argument, Mrs. Wordsworth put her hand upon his arm,
saying,--"Mr. Wordsworth is never interrupted." Again, during the same
interview, some one had said that the next Waverley novel was to be "Rob
Roy"; when Mr. Wordsworth took down his volume of Ballads, and read
to the company "Rob Roy's Grave,"--then, returning it to the shelf,
observed, "I do not know what more Mr. Scott can have to say upon the
subject." When Leigh Hunt had his first interview with Wordsworth, the
latter lectured to him--finely, indeed--upon his own writings; and
repeated the entire sonnet,

"Great men have been among us,"--

which Hunt said he did "in a grand and earnest tone." Some one in a
company quoting the passage from "Henry V.,"--

"So work the honey-bees,"

and each "picking out his pet plum" from that perfect piece of natural
history, Wordsworth objected to the line,

"The singing masons building roofs of gold,"

because, he said, of the unpleasant repetition of the "_ing_" in it!
Where were his ears and judgment on that occasion? But I have more
than once heard it said that Wordsworth had not a genuine love of
Shakspeare,--that, when he could, he always accompanied a "_pro_" with
his "_con_," and, Atticus-like, would "just hint a fault and hesitate
dislike." Truly, indeed, we are all of "a mingled yarn, good and ill
together."

I can scarcely conceive of anything more unjust than the account
which that ill-ordered being, Haydon, left behind him in his "Diary,"
respecting the idolized object of his former intimacy, John Keats. At
his own eager request, after reading the manuscript specimens I had left
with Leigh Hunt, I had introduced their author to him; and for some time
subsequently I had frequent opportunities of seeing them together, and
can testify to the laudations that Haydon trowelled on to the young
poet. Before I left London, however, it had been said that things and
opinions had changed,--and, in short, that Haydon had abjured all
acquaintance with, and had even ignored, such a person as the author of
the sonnet to him, and those "On the Elgin Marbles." I say nothing of
the grounds of their separation; but, knowing the two men, and knowing,
I believe, to the core, the humane principle of the poet, I have such
faith in his steadfastness of friendship, that I am sure he would never
have left behind him an unfavorable _truth_, while nothing could have
induced him to utter a _calumny_ of one who had received pledges of
his former regard and esteem. Haydon's detraction was the more odious
because its object could not contradict the charge, and because it
supplied his old critical antagonists (if any remained) with an
authority for their charge against him of Cockney ostentation and
display. The most mean-spirited and trumpery twaddle in the paragraph
was, that Keats was so far gone in sensual excitement as to put Cayenne
pepper upon his tongue, when taking his claret! Poor fellow! he never
purchased a bottle of claret, within my knowledge of him; and, from
such observation as could not escape me, I am bound to assert that
his domestic expenses never could have occasioned him a regret or a
self-reproof.

When Shelley left England for Italy, Keats told me that he had received
from him an invitation to become his guest,--and, in short, to make one
of his household. It was upon the purest principle that Keats declined
the noble proffer; for he entertained an exalted opinion of Shelley's
genius, in itself an inducement; he also knew of his deeds of bounty;
and lastly, from their frequent intercourse, he had full faith in the
sincerity of his proposal; for a more crystalline heart than Shelley's
never beat in human bosom. He was incapable of an untruth or of a deceit
in any ill form. Keats told me, that, in declining the invitation, his
sole motive was the consciousness, which would be ever prevalent with
him, of his not being, in its utter extent, a free agent,--even
within such a circle as Shelley's,--himself, nevertheless, the most
unrestricted of beings. Mr. Trelawney, a familiar of the family, has
confirmed the unwavering testimony to Shelley's bounty of nature, where
he says, "Shelley was a being absolutely without selfishness." The
poorest cottagers knew and benefited by the thoroughly _practical_ and
unselfish character of his Christianity, during his residence at Marlow,
when he would visit them, and, having gone through a course of study
in medicine, in order that he might assist them with his advice, would
commonly administer the tonic which such systems usually require,--a
good basin of broth, or pea-soup. And I believe I am infringing on no
private domestic delicacy, when I repeat, that he has been known, upon a
sudden and immediate emergency, to purloin ("_convey_ the wise it call")
a portion of the warmest of Mrs. Shelley's wardrobe, to protect some
poor starving sister. One of the richer residents of Marlow told me that
"_they all_ considered him a madman." I wish he had bitten the whole
squad.

"No settled senses of the world can match
The 'wisdom' of that madness."

Shelley's figure was a little above the middle height, slender, and of
delicate construction, which appeared the rather from a lounging or
waving manner in his gait, as though his frame was compounded merely of
muscle and tendon, and that the power of walking was an achievement with
him, and not a natural habit. Yet I should suppose that he was not a
valetudinarian, although that has been said of him, on account of his
spare and vegetable diet: for I have the remembrance of his scampering
and bounding over the gorse-bushes on Hampstead Heath, late one
night,--now close upon us, and now shouting from the height, like a wild
school-boy. He was both an active and an enduring walker,--feats which
do not accompany an ailing and feeble constitution. His face was round,
flat, pale, with small features; mouth beautifully shaped; hair,
bright-brown and wavy; and such a pair of eyes as are rarely seen in
the human or any other head,--intensely blue, with a gentle and lambent
expression, yet wonderfully alert and engrossing: nothing appeared to
escape his knowledge.

Whatever peculiarity there might have been in Shelley's religious faith,
I have the best authority for believing that it was confined to the
early period of his life. The _practical_ result of its course of
_action_, I am sure, had its source from the "Sermon on the Mount."
There is not one clause in that divine code which his conduct towards
his fellow-mortals did not confirm, and substantiate him to be a
follower of Christ. Yet, when the news arrived in London of the death of
Shelley and Captain Williams by drowning, the "Courier" newspaper--an
evening journal of that day--capped the intelligence with the following
remark:--"He will now know whether there is a hell or not!"--I believe
that there are still one or two public fanatics who would _think_ that
surmise, but not one would dare to utter it in his journal. So much for
the progress of liberality, and the power of opinion.

At page 100 of the "Life of Keats," Vol. I., Mr. Monckton Milnes has
quoted a literary portrait of him, which he received from a lady who
used to see him at Hazlitt's lectures at the Surrey Institution. The
building was on the south or right-hand side, and close to Blackfriars'
Bridge. I believe that the whole of Hazlitt's lectures, on the British
Poets, the Writers of the Time of Elizabeth, and the Comic Writers, were
delivered in that Institution, during the years 1817 and 1818; shortly
after which time the establishment appears to have been broken up. The
lady's remark upon the character and expression of Keats's features is
both happy and true. She says,--"His countenance lives in my mind as one
of singular beauty and brightness; it had an expression _as if he had
been looking on some glorious sight_." That's excellent.--"His mouth was
full, and less intellectual than his other features." True again. But
when our artist pronounces that "his eyes were large and _blue_" and
that "his hair was _auburn_," I am naturally reminded of the fable of
the "Chameleon":--"They're _brown_, Ma'am,--_brown_, I assure you!" The
fact is, the lady was enchanted--and I cannot wonder at it--with the
whole character of that beaming face; and "blue" and "auburn" being the
favorite tints of the human front divine, in the lords of the creation,
the poet's eyes consequently became "blue," and his hair "auburn."
Colors, however, vary with the prejudice or partiality of the spectator;
and, moreover, people do not agree even upon the most palpable prismatic
tint. A writing-master whom we had at Enfield was an artist of more than
ordinary merit; but he had one dominant defect: he could not distinguish
between true blue and true green. So that, upon one occasion, when he
was exhibiting to us a landscape he had just completed, I hazarded
the critical question, why he painted his trees so _blue_? "Blue!" he
replied,--"what do you call green?"--Reader, alter in your copy of
Monckton Milnes's "Life of Keats," Vol. I., page 103, "eyes" _light
hazel_, "hair" _lightish-brown and wavy_.

The most perfect, and withal the favorite portrait of him, was the
one by Severn, published in Leigh Hunt's "Lord Byron and his
Contemporaries," and which I remember the artist's sketching in a few
minutes, one evening, when several of Keats's friends were at his
apartments in the Poultry. The portrait prefixed to the "Life," also
by Severn, is a most excellent one-look-and-expression likeness,--an
every-day, and of "the earth, earthy" one;--and the last, which the same
artist painted, and which is now in the possession of Mr. John Hunter,
of Craig Crook, Edinburgh, may be an equally felicitous rendering of one
look and manner; but I do not intimately recognize it. There is another,
and a _curiously unconscious_ likeness of him, in the charming Dulwich
Gallery of Pictures. It is in the portrait of Wouvermans, by Rembrandt.
It is just so much of a resemblance as to remind the friends of the
poet,--though not such a one as the immortal Dutchman would have
made, had the poet been his sitter. It has a plaintive and melancholy
expression, which, I rejoice to say, I do not associate with him.

There is one of his attitudes, during familiar conversation, which, at
times, (with the whole earnest manner and sweet expression of the man)
presents itself to me, as though I had seen him only last week. The
attitude I speak of was that of cherishing one leg over the knee of the
other, smoothing the instep with the palm of his hand. In this action I
mostly associate him in an eager parley with Leigh Hunt, in his little
cottage in the "Vale of Health." This position, if I mistake not, is in
the last portrait of him at Craig Crook; if not, it is in a reminiscent
one, painted after his death.

His stature could have been very little more than five feet; but he was,
withal, compactly made and--well-proportioned; and before the hereditary
disorder which carried him off began to show itself, he was active,
athletic, and enduringly strong,--as the fight with the butcher gave
full attestation.

The critical world,--by which term I mean the censorious portion of
it; for many have no other idea of criticism than, that of censure and
objection,--the critical world have so gloated over the feebler, or, if
they will, the defective side of Keats's genius, and his friends, his
gloryingly partial friends, have so amply justified him, that I feel
inclined to add no more to the category of opinions than to say, that
the only fault in his poetry I could discover was a redundancy of
imagery,--that exuberance, by-the-by, being a quality of the greatest
promise, seeing that it is the constant accompaniment of a young and
teeming genius. But his steady friend, Leigh Hunt, has rendered the
amplest and truest record of his mental accomplishment in the Preface to
the "Foliage," quoted at page 150 of the first volume of the "Life
of Keats"; and his biographer has so zealously, and, I would say, so
amiably, summed up his character and intellectual qualities, that I can
add no more than my assent.

Keats's whole course of life, to the very last act of it, was one
routine of unselfishness and of consideration for others' feelings.
The approaches of death having come on, he said to his untiring
nurse--friend,--"Severn,--I,--lift me up,--I am dying:--_I shall die
easy; don't be frightened;_--be firm, and thank God it has come."

There are constant indications through the memoirs, and in the letters
of Keats, of his profound reverence for Shakspeare. His own intensity of
thought and expression visibly strengthened with the study of his idol;
and he knew but little of him till he himself had become an author. A
marginal note by him in a folio copy of the Plays is an example of the
complete absorption his mind had undergone during the process of his
matriculation;--and, through life, however long with any of us, we are
all in progress of matriculation, as we study the "myriad-minded's"
system of philosophy. The note that Keats made was this;--"The genius
of Shakspeare was an _innate universality;_ wherefore he laid the
achievements of human intellect prostrate beneath his indolent and
kingly gaze: _he could do easily men's utmost;_ his plan of tasks to
come was not of this world. If what he proposed to do hereafter would
not in the idea answer the aim, how tremendous must have been his
conception of ultimates!"

THE EUROPEAN CRISIS.

It is not long since we listened to an interesting discussion of this
question:--Which was the more important year to Europe,--1859 or 1860?
The question is one that may be commended to the attention of those
ingenuous young gentlemen, in debating-societies assembled, who have not
yet settled whether Brutus, Cassius, & Co. were right in assassinating
"the mighty Julius," or whether Mary Stuart was a martyred saint or a
martyred sinner, or whether the cold chop to which Cromwell treated
Charles I. on a memorable winter-day was either a just or a politic
mode of touching for the king's evil. It would have the merit of
novelty,--and Americans are as fond of new things in their day of power
as ever were the Athenians in the day of their decline. A yet rarer
merit it would have, in the fact that a great deal could justly be said
on both sides of the question. An umpire would probably decide in favor
of 1859,--because, he might say, had the events of that year been
different, those of 1860 must have undergone a complete change.

The romantic conquest of Sicily by Garibaldi, and his successes in
Naples, whereby a junior branch of the Bourbon family has been sent
to "enjoy" that exile which has so long been the lot of the senior
branch,--and the destruction of the _Papalini_ by the Italian army of
Victor Emanuel II., which asserted the superiority of the children of
the soil over the bands of foreign ruffians assembled by De Merode and
Lamoriciere for the oppression of the Peninsula in the name of the
venerable head of the Church of Rome,--these are events even more
striking than those by which the iron sceptre of Austria was cut through
in the earlier year, because they have been accomplished by Italian
genius and courage, the few foreigners in the army of Garibaldi not
counting for much in the contest. They prove the regeneration of Italy.
But it is evident that nothing of the kind could have been done in 1860,
if 1859 had been as quiet a year for Italy as its immediate predecessor.
Before the leaders and the soldiers of Italy could obtain the
indispensable place whereon to stand, it was imperatively necessary
that the power of Austria should be broken down, through the defeat and
consequent demoralization of her army. For a period of forty-four
years, Austria had had her own way in the Peninsula. From the fall
of Napoleon's Italian dominion, in 1814, to the day when the third
Napoleon's army entered Sardinia, there was, virtually, no other rule in
Italy but that which Austria approved. The events of 1848, which at one
time promised to remove "the barbarians," had for their conclusion the
re-establishment of her ascendency in greater force than ever; and the
last ten years of that ascendency will always be remembered as the
period when its tyrannical character was most fully developed. The hoary
proconsul of the Lorraines, Radetzky, if not personally cruel, was
determined to do for his masters what Castilian lieutenants had done
for the Austro-Burgundian monarchs of Spain and her dependencies,
the fairest portions of Italy being among those dependencies, in the
sixteenth and seventeenth centuries,--to destroy the public spirit of
Italy. Could he have completed a century of life, or had there been no
European nation ready to prevent the success of the Germanic policy
under which Italy was to wither to provincial worthlessness, he might
have been successful. But Austria lost her best man, the only one of
her soldiers who had shown himself capable of upholding her Italian
position, when he had reached to more than ninety years; and it pleased
Providence to raise up a friend to Italy in a quarter to which most men
had ceased to look for anything good.

Well has it been said, that "it is not the best tools that shape out
the best ends; if so, Martin Luther would not have been selected as the
master-spirit of the Reformation." Napoleon III. may deserve all that is
said against him by men of the extreme right and by men of the extreme
left,--by Catholics and infidels,--by _Whites_, and _Reds_, and
_Blues_,--but it cannot be denied that he gave to the Italians that
assistance without which they never could have obtained even partial
deliverance from the Austrian yoke, and which they could have procured
from no other potentate or power. Bankrupt though she was, Austria's
force was so superior to anything that Italy could present in the shape
of an army, that Sardinia must have been conquered, if she had contended
alone with her enemy; and a war between Austria and Sardinia was
inevitable, and would probably have broken out long before 1859, had the
former country been assured of the neutrality of France.

There has been a great inkshed, and a large expenditure of oratory, on
the question of the origin of the Italian war of 1859; and, as usual,
much nonsense has been written and said of and concerning the ambition
of France and the encroachments of Sardinia. But that war was brought
about neither by French ambition nor by Sardinian desire for territorial
aggrandizement. That it occurred in 1859 was undoubtedly owing to the
action of France, which country merely chose its own time to drub its
old foe; but the point at issue was, whether Austrian or Sardinian ideas
should predominate in the government of Italy. Austria's purpose never
could be accomplished so long as a constitutional polity existed in
the best, because the best governed and the best organized, of all the
Italian States; and Sardinia's purpose never could be accomplished so
long as Austria was in a condition to dictate to the Italians the manner
in which they should be ruled. A war between the two nations was, as we
have said, inevitable. The only point about which there could be any
dispute was, whether Sardinia would have to fight the battle of Italy
unaided, or be backed by some power beyond the mountains.

It shows how much men respect a military monarchy, how deferential they
are to the sword, that even those persons who assumed that France must
espouse the Sardinian cause were far from feeling confident that Austria
would be overmatched by an alliance of the two most liberal of the
Catholic nations of Europe. That monarchy is the type of force to all
minds; and though she has seldom won any splendid successes in the field
over the armies of enlightened nations, and has been repeatedly beaten
by Prussia and France, men cling to old ideas, and give her great
advantages at the beginning of every war in which she engages. The
common opinion, in the spring of 1859, was, that Austria would crush
Sardinia before the French could reach the field in force, and that her
soldiers, flushed by successes over the Italians, would hurl their new
foes out of the country, or leave them in its soil. As before, Italy was
to be the grave of the French,--only that their grave was to be dug at
the very beginning of the war, instead of being made, as in other days,
at its close. But it was otherwise ordered. The Austrians lost the
advantage which certainly was theirs at the opening of the contest,
and, that lost, disaster after disaster befell their arms, until the
"crowning mercy" of Solferino freed Italy from their rule, if it did not
entirely banish them from her land. That Solferino was not so great
a victory to the Allies as it was claimed to be at the time, that it
resembled less Austerlitz than Wagram, may be admitted, and yet its
importance remain unquestioned; for its decision gained for Italy the
only thing that it was necessary she should have in order to work out
her own salvation. Henceforth, she was not to tremble at the mere touch
of the hilt of the sword worn by the Viceroy at Milan, but was to have
the chance, at least, of ordering her own destinies. If not thoroughly
free, she was no longer utterly enslaved.

The peace of Villafranca surprised every one, from the Czar on the
Neva to the gold-gatherers on the Sacramento. Strange as had been the
doings--the world called them tricks--of Napoleon III., no man was
prepared for that; and even now, though seventeen eventful months have
rolled away since the first shock of it was experienced, the summer-day
it was received seems more like one of those days we see in dreams than
like a day of real life. Doubt, laughter, astonishment, and disgust
followed each other through the minds of millions of men. If curses
could kill, the man who had escaped the bombs of Orsini and the bullets
of the Austrians would certainly have died in the month that followed
the interview he had flogged his imperial brother into granting him. In
America,--where we are always doing so much (on paper) for the cause of
freedom, and for the deliverance of "oppressed nationalities" of the
proper degrees and shades of whiteness, in the firm conviction that the
free man is the better customer,--in America the reaction of opinion was
overwhelming; and there were but few persons in the United States who
would not have shouted over news that Henri Cinq was in Paris, and that
the French Empire had a third time made way for the Kingdom of France.
Time has not altogether removed the impression then created; for, if it
has not justified the belief that the French Emperor had abandoned
the Italian cause, it has convinced the world that he lost a noble
opportunity to effect the destruction of Austria. There may be--most
probably there are--facts yet unknown to the public, knowledge of which
would partially justify the conduct of the victor toward the vanquished,
in 1859; but, if we judge from what we know, which is all that any
monarch can demand of the formers of opinion, Napoleon III. was guilty
of a monstrous political and military blunder when he forced a truce
upon Francis Joseph.

There is no evidence that any European power was about to interfere in
behalf of Austria. Prussia, it is true, had taken a stern attitude, and
showed a disposition to place herself at the head of those German States
which were for beginning a march upon Paris at once, though M. le
Marechal Duc de Malakoff was ready with two hundred thousand men to
receive them, and Paris itself was not the feeble place it had been in
1814 and 1815. It is altogether likely that Prussia was, as is usual
with her at every European crisis, shamming. She had no interest in the
maintenance of Austria's territorial integrity, and it was rather late
in the day to assume that Berlin was affected by the mortifications of
Vienna. Could the hearts of kings and the counsels of cabinets be known
with that literal exactness which is so desirable in politics, and
yet so unattainable, we should probably find that Prussia's apparent
readiness to lead Germany was owing to her determination that German
armies should be led nowhere to the assistance of Austria. England
had just changed her Ministry, the Derby Cabinet giving way to Lord
Palmerston's, which was recognized on all sides as a great gain to the
cause of Italian independence; and Lord John Russell had written one of
those crusty notes to the Prussian government for which he is so famous,
and which was hardly less Italian in its sentiments than that in which,
written in October last, he upheld the course of Garibaldi and Victor
Emanuel. Russia had evinced no disposition to interfere in behalf of
Austria, and perhaps the news of Magenta and Solferino was as agreeable
to the dwellers in St. Petersburg and Moscow as it was to the citizens
of New York and Boston. She was, indeed, believed to be backing France.
Politically, so far as we can judge, there was no cause or occasion for
the throwing up of the cards by the French, after Solferino.

Nor were the military reasons for the cessation of warlike operations of
a nature to convince men of their irresistible weightiness. A great
deal was said about the strength of "the Quadrilateral," and of the
impregnability of the position which it formed,--as if there ever had
existed a military position which could not be carried or turned, or out
of which its defenders could not be bought, or forced, or starved!
The strength of the Quadrilateral was as well known to the Emperor
in January as it was in July, and he must have counted its powers of
resistance before he resolved upon war. Victory he had organized, like
Carnot; and victory in Lombardy was sure to take his army to the Mincio.
Verona and Venetia were to be the complement of Milan. Then there was
the story that he frightened the Kaiser into giving his consent to the
truce by proving to him that the fortresses upon which he relied were
not in good defensible condition, his commissaries having placed the
funds in their pockets that should have been devoted to the purchase
of stores,--a story that wears a very probable air, in view of the
discovery subsequently made of the malversations of some of the highest
persons at Vienna, and which had much to do with the suicide of the
Minister of Finance. It is known, too, that the force which Napoleon
III. had assembled in the Adriatic was very strong, and could have been
so used as to have promoted an Hungarian insurrection in a sense not at
all pleasant to the Austrians, to have attacked Dalmatia and Istria, and
to have aided in the deliverance of Venice. That force was largely naval
in its character, and the French navy was burning to distinguish itself
in a war that had been so productive of glory to the sister-service: it
would have had a Magenta and a Palestro of its own, won where the Dorias
and the Pisani had struggled for fame and their countries' ascendency.
Instead of the Quadrilateral being a bar to the French, it would have
been a trap to the Austrians, who would have been taken there after the
manner in which Napoleon I. took their predecessors at Ulm. After the
war was over, it came out that Verona was not even half armed.

If Napoleon III. was bent upon carrying that imitation of his uncle, of
which he is so fond, to the extent of granting a magnanimous peace to a
crushed foe, he may be said to have caricatured that which he sought
to imitate. The first Napoleon's magnanimity after Austerlitz has been
attributed to the craft of the beaten party,--he allowing the Russians
to escape when they had extricated themselves from the false position in
which their master's folly had caused them to be placed. But the third
Napoleon did allow the Austrians to avoid the consequences of their
defeat, and so disappointed Italy and the world. He _was_ magnanimous,
and most astonishing to the minds of men was his magnanimity. Most
people called it stupidity, and strange stories were told of his
nervous system having been shattered by the sights and sounds of those
slaughter-fields which he had planned and fought and won!

We live rapidly in this age, when nations are breaking up all around us,
when unions are dissolving, when dynasties disappear before the light
like ghosts at cock-crowing, and when emperors and kings rely upon
universal suffrage, once so terrible a bugbear in their eyes, for the
titles to their crowns. Opinion is rapidly formed, and is as rapidly
dismissed. We may be as much astonished now at the peace of Villafranca
as we were on the day when first it was announced, and while looking
upon it only as a piece of diplomacy intended to put an end to a contest
costly in blood and gold; but we cannot say, as it was common then
to say, that the war which it closed has decided nothing. That war
established the freedom and nationality of Italy, and the peace so much
condemned was the means of demonstrating to the world the existence of
an _Italian People_. How far the French Emperor was self-deceived, and
to what extent he believed in the practicability of the arrangements
made at Villafranca and Zurich, are inscrutable mysteries. _Que
sais-je_? might be the form of his own answer, were any one entitled to
question him concerning his own opinion on his own acts of 1859. But
of the effects of his attack on Austria there can be no doubt. That
Lorraines and Bourbons have ceased to reign in Italy,--that the
Kingdom of Victor Emanuel has increased from six millions of people to
twenty-four millions,--that the same constitutional monarch who ruled at
Turin is now acknowledged in Milan, in Ancona, in Florence, in Naples,
and in Palermo, being King of Lombards, and Tuscans, and Romans, and
Neapolitans, and Sicilians,--and that the Austrians are no longer the
rulers of the Peninsula,--these things are all due to the conduct of the
French Emperor. Had the peace of Europe not been broken by France, the
Austrian power in Italy would have been unbroken at this moment, and
Naples have been still under the dominion of that mad tyrant whose
supreme delight it was to offend the moral sense of the world, and who
found even in the remonstrances of his brother-despots occasion for
increasing the weight of the chains of his victims, and of adding to the
intensity and the exquisiteness of their tortures.

These solid advantages to Italy, this freedom of hers from domestic
despotism and foreign control, are the fruits of French intervention;
and they could have been obtained in no other way. There was no nation
but France to which Italy could look for aid, and to France she did not
look in vain. Of the motives of her ally it would be idle to speak, as
there is no occasion to go beyond consequences; and those consequences
are just as good as if the French Emperor were as pure-minded and
unselfish as the most perfect of those paladins of romance who went
about redressing one class of wrongs by the creation of another.
What Italy desired, what alone she needed, was freedom from foreign
intervention; and that she got through the interposition of French
armies, and that she could have got from no other human source. This
single fact is an all-sufficient answer to the myriads of sneers that
were called forth by the failure of Napoleon III. to redeem his pledge
to make Italy free from the Alps to the Adriatic. What other potentate
did anything for that country in 1859, or has done anything for it since
that memorable year? Neither prince nor people, leaving Napoleon III.
and the French aside, has so much as lifted a hand to promote the
regeneration of Italy. America has enough to do in the way of attending
to domestic slavery, without concerning herself about the freedom of
foreigners; and she has given the Italians her--sympathies, which are of
as much real worth to her as would be a treatise on the Resolutions of
'98 to a man who should happen to tumble into the Niagara, with the
Falls close upon him. England would have had Italy submit to that
Austrian rule which had been established over her by English influence
in 1814, when even the perverse, pig-headed Francis II. could see sound
objections to it; and all because want of submission on her part would
disturb the equilibrium of Europe, and might tend to the aggrandizement
of France,--two things which she by no means desired to see happen.
Russia, like America, gave Italy her sympathies; but she had a better
excuse than we had for being prudent, as her monarch was engaged in
planning at least the freedom of the serfs. If the Russians desired the
overthrow of the Austrians, it was not because they loved the Italians,
but from hatred of their oppressors; and that hatred had its origin in
the refusal of Austria to join Russia when she was so hard pressed by
France and England, Turkey and Piedmont. Prussia, us we have seen, sided
with Austria; and though it is impossible to believe in her sincerity,
her moral power, so far as it went, was adverse to the Italian cause.
The other European nations were of no account, having no will of their
own, and being influenced only by the action of the members of the
Pentarchy. Save France, Italy had no friend possessed of the disposition
and the ability to afford her that assistance without which she must
soon have become in name, as she was fast becoming in fact, a mere
collection of Austrian provinces.

We dwell upon those well-known facts because an opinion seems to prevail
that no nation or government shall interfere for the protection of the
weak against the strong, unless it shall be able to show that it is
perfect itself, and that its intentions are of the most unselfish
nature. Peoples are to be delivered from oppression only as the
Israelites were delivered, by the direct and immediate interposition of
Heaven in human affairs; and the delivering agent must be as high-minded
and generous as Moses, who was allowed merely to gaze upon the Promised
Land. Men who thus reason about human action, and the motives of actors
on the great stage of life, must have read history to very little
purpose, and have observed the making of history round about them to no
purpose at all. The instruments of Providence are seldom perfect men,
and the broad light in which they live brings out their faults in full
force. Napoleon III. is not above the average morality of his time; and
if he had been so, probably he never would have become Emperor of the
French. But in this respect differs he much from those men who have
wrought great things for the world, and whom the world is content to
reverence? Robert Bruce, who saved Scotland from the misery that befell
Ireland; Henry IV., who renewed the life of France; Maurice of Saxony,
who prevented the Reformation from proving a stupendous failure; and
William III., without whose aid the Constitutionalists of England must
have gone down before the Stuarts: not one of these men was perfect;
and yet what losses the world would have experienced, if they had never
lived, or had failed in their great labors! It has been claimed for
Gustavus Adolphus that he was the only pure conqueror that ever lived;
but his purity may safely be placed to the account of the balls of
Luetzen: he was not left unto temptation. We should extend to Napoleon
III. the same charity that we extend to men who have long been
historical characters, and judge him by his actions and their results,
and not criticise him by the canons of faction.

Italy was delivered by the war of 1859, and that war was terminated by
the peace of Villafranca. For the moment, it seemed as if there were
to be a restoration of the petty princes who had fled from Tuscany and
Parma and Modena, and that an Italian Confederation had been resolved
upon, in which the noxious influences of Austria and Naples and Papal
Rome should stifle the pure principles upheld by Sardinia. A few months
sufficed to show that these evils existed in apprehension only. The
Italians, by the withdrawal of the French, were thrown upon their own
resources, and by their conduct they dissipated the belief that they
were unequal to the emergency. Had the war been continued, had Venetia
been conquered, and had the last of the Austrians been driven beyond the
Isonzo, Italy would have been the prize of French valor and genius; for
all this must have been done on the instant, and before the Italians,
less the Sardinians, could have taken an effective part in the war. The
most devoted believer in the patriotism and bravery of the Italians must
perforce admit that they had little to do with the war of 1859. Leaving
the Sardinians aside, the Italian element in that contest was scarcely
appreciable. This we say without meaning any reflection on the Italians.
There were many good reasons why they should remain quiet. In common
with the rest of the world, even France herself, the war took them by
surprise, Austria bringing it on weeks, if not months, before Napoleon
III. had meant it to begin. They, too, had seen their country so often
abused by those who had conquered there, that they had some excuse for
waiting the progress of events. The most industrious and studied efforts
had been made to convince them that the object of the ruler of France
was the realization of another Napoleonic idea, namely, the restoration
of that Kingdom of Italy which perished in 1814; and though the rule of
Napoleon I. was the best that Italy had known for three hundred years,
it was hardly worth while to enter upon a doubtful fight for its
restoration. Hence the majority of the people of Italy were not so
active as they might have been; and their coolness is said to have had
much effect on the mind of the victor, who must have thought that the
people he had come to deliver were taking things very easily, and who
could not have felt much flattered, when assured, in the politest
terms, that those people believed him to be a selfish liar. His work,
therefore, was but partially performed. Instead of halting on the shores
of the historical Adriatic, his armies drew up on the banks of the
classic Mincius. Trance had done her part; let Italy do the rest, if
it were to be done. Thus abdicating his original purpose, and probably
feeling much as William III. felt when the English were so slow in
joining him that he talked of returning to his ships, Napoleon III.
gave up his power to dictate the future of Italy. He had no right,
thereafter, to say that the Bourbons should continue to govern in the
Two Sicilies, that the Dukes should be restored to their Duchies, and
that Venetia should be guarantied to Austria. He felt this, as the terms
of the treaties that were made very clearly show; for he was careful to
abstain from pledging himself to anything of a definite character. If
he had perfected his original work, and been possessed of the power to
effect a new settlement of Italy, he would, we presume, have stipulated
for the continuance of the Bourbon power in the southern portion of the
Peninsula and in Sicily; while the much talked-of purpose of creating an
Italian Kingdom or Duchy for Prince Napoleon would probably have been
carried out, and that gentleman have been established on the Arno. To
the Sardinian monarchy would have been assigned the spoils taken from
Austria,--Venice and Lombardy. The change in his political plans was the
consequence of the change in his military plan,--though either change
may be pronounced the cause or the effect, according to the point from
which the observer views the entire series of transactions. Thus the
peace of 1859 may be considered to have been a benefit to Italy, just
as the war it terminated had been. The war freed her from Austrian
dominion; the peace, from its character, and from the circumstances
under which it was made, left her people at liberty to act as they
pleased in the fair field that had been won for their exertions by the
skill and courage of the French and Sardinian armies.

The destinies of Italy being placed in her own hands, the Italians were
as prompt as politic considerations would allow them to be in promoting
the unification of their country. Central Italy soon became a part of
the constitutional monarchy which had grown up under the shadow of the
Alps. This could not have happened, if Napoleon III. had chosen to veto
the proceedings of the Italians, which had virtually nullified one of
his purposes. That he consented to this large addition to the power of
Sardinia on the condition of receiving Savoy and Nice is by no means
unlikely; and we do not think that Victor Emanuel was either unwise or
wanting in patriotism in parting with those countries for the benefit of
Italy. Taking advantage of the troubles in Sicily, Garibaldi led a
small expedition to that island, which there landed, and began those
operations which had their appropriate termination, in five months, in
the addition of all the territories of the wretched Francis II., except
Gaeta, to the dominions of the Sardinian King. The importance of
Garibaldi's undertaking it is quite impossible to overrate; but of what
account could it have been, if the Austrians had stood to Italy in the
same position that they held at the opening of 1859? Of none at all.
Garibaldi is preeminently a man of sense, and he would never have
thought of moving against Francis II., if Francis Joseph had been at
liberty to assist that scandalous caricature of kings. Or, if he had
been tempted to enter upon the project, he would have been "snuffed
out" as easily as was Murat, when, in 1815, he sought to recover the
Neapolitan throne. If Austrian ships had not prevented him from landing
in Sicily, Austrian troops would have destroyed him in that island. Nay,
it is but reasonable to believe that Bomba's navy and army would have
been amply sufficient to do their master's work. That his men were not
wanting in courage and conduct has been proved by their deeds since the
tyrant left his capital, on the Volturno and around Capua and at Gaeta.
It was not want of bravery that led to their failure in Sicily, but the
belief that their employer's system had failed, and that he and they
were given up to the vengeance of Italy, supposing the Italians to be
strong enough to do justice on them. They took courage when European
circumstances led them to conclude that Austria would be advised, at
the Warsaw Conference, to use her forces for the restoration of the old
order of things in Italy, and receive the support of Russia and Prussia.
To deserve such aid from the North, the Neapolitan army struggled hard,
but in vain. The Absolutist cause was lost in Naples when the sovereigns
met in the Polish capital; and though, forty years earlier, this would
have been held an additional reason for the entrance of the barbarians
into Italy, the successes of the patriots must have had their proper
weight with the Prince Regent of Prussia and the Czar, who are
understood to have been as deaf as adders to the charming of their young
brother from Vienna. What was resolved upon at Warsaw the world has no
positive means of knowing, and but little reliance is to be placed upon
the rumors that have been so abundant; but, as Austria has not
moved against the Italians, and as the instructions to her new
commander-in-chief in Venetia (Von Benedek) are reported to be strong
on the point of non-intervention, we are at liberty to infer that she
accepts all that has been done as accomplished facts, and means to
stand upon the defensive, in the hope of gaining moral support by her
moderation in being outwardly content with less than half the spoil
which was given to her at the expense of Italy, when Europe was
"settled," for the time, four-and-forty years ago.

The action of the Sardinian government, in sending its soldiers against
the legal banditti whom Lamoriciere had sought to drill into the
semblance of an army, which was a direct attack on the Pope, and the
subsequent employment of those soldiers, and of the Sardinian fleet,
against the forces of Francis II., were model pieces of statesmanship,
and worthy of the great man whose name and fame have become indissolubly
associated with the redemption of Italy. The decision thus to act could
not have been taken without the consent of Napoleon III. having first
been had and obtained; and there is probably much truth in the story,
that, when Lamoriciere had the coolness to threaten his conquerors with
the vengeance of the Emperor, they told him, half-laughingly, that, they
had planned the campaign with that illustrious personage at Chambery,
which must have convinced him that the cause of the Keys had nothing to
expect from France beyond the sort of police aid which General Goyon was
affording to it in the name of his master. Lamoriciere also expected
help from Austria, and professed to be able to number the few days at
the expiration of which the white-coats would be at Alessandria, which
would have been a diversion in his favor, that, had it been made, must
have saved him from the mortification of surrendering to men whom he
affected to despise, but who brought him and his army under the yoke.
The faith of the commander of the rabble of the Faith in Austrian
assistance was a Viennese inspiration, and was meant to induce him to
resist to the last. Nor was it altogether false; for the Kaiser and
Count Rechberg appear to have believed that they could induce the
governments of Russia and Prussia to support them in a crusade in behalf
of Rome and Naples, which was to rely upon Lutherans and supporters of
the Eastern Church for the salvation of the Western Church and its worst
members. The first interview between Rechberg and Gortschakoff, if we
can believe a despatch from Warsaw, led quickly to a quarrel, which must
have taken place not long after their chiefs, the Kaiser and the Czar,
had been locked in each other's arms at the railway-station. It is but
just to the Austrians to state, that they probably had received from St.
Petersburg some promises of assistance, which Alexander found himself
unable to redeem, so determined was Russian opinion in its expression of
aversion to Austria when its organs began to suspect that the old game
was to be renewed, and that Alexander contemplated doing in 1861
what Nicholas had done in 1849,--to step between Francis Joseph and
humiliation, perhaps destruction. If it be true that the Czar has
ordered all Russians to leave Italy, that piece of pitiful spite would
show how he hates the Italian cause, and also that it is not in his
power seriously to retard its progress at present. Instead of ordering
Russians from Italy, he would send them to that country in great masses,
could he have his way in directing the foreign policy of his empire.

The entire success of Victor Emanuel and Garibaldi has brought Italian
matters to a crisis. Carrying out the policy of Cavour, the King and the
Soldier have all but completed the unification of their country, at
the very time when the United States are threatened with disunion. The
Kingdom of Italy exists at this time, virtually, if not in terms, and
contains about twenty-four million people. It comprises the original
territories of Victor Emanuel, _minus_ Savoy and Nice, the Two Sicilies,
Lombardy, almost the whole of the Papal States, and Tuscany, Parma, and
Modena. If we except the fragment of his old possessions yet held by the
Pope, and the Austrian hold on Venetia, all Italy now acknowledges
the rule of Victor Emanuel, who is to meet an _Italian_ Parliament
in January, 1861. No political change of our century has been more
remarkable than this, whether we look to its extent, or have regard to
the agencies by which it has been brought about. Two years ago, there
was more reason to believe that the King of Sardinia would be an exile
than that the Bourbon King of Naples would be on his travels. No man
would have dared to prophesy that the former would be reigning over
seven-eighths of the Italians, while the latter should be reduced to one
town, garrisoned by foreign mercenaries. That these changes should be
wrought by universal suffrage, had it been predicted, would have been
thought too much to be related as a dream. Yet it is the voice of the
Italian People, speaking under a suffrage-system apparently more liberal
than ever has been known in America, which has accomplished all that has
been done since the summer of 1859 in the Peninsula and in Sicily. It
was because Napoleon III. would not place himself in opposition to the
opinion of the people of Central Italy, that the petty monarchs of
that country were not restored to their thrones, and that they became
subjects of Victor Emanuel; and the voting in Sicily and Naples
has confirmed the decision of arms, and made it imperative on the
reactionists to attack the people, should their policy lead them to
seek a reversal of the decrees of 1860. The new monarch of the Italians
expressly bases his title to reign on the will of the people, expressed
through the exercise of the least restricted mode of voting that ever
has been known among men; and the people of Southern Italy never could
have had the opportunity to vote their crown to him, if Garibaldi
had not first freed them from the savage tyranny of Francis II.; and
Garibaldi himself could not have acted for their deliverance, if Italy
had not previously been delivered from the Austrians by France. Thus we
have the French Emperor, designated as a _parvenu_ both in England and
America, and owing his power to his name,--the democrat Garibaldi, whose
power is from his deeds, and whose income is not equal to that of an
Irish laborer in the United States,--the rich and noble Cavour, whose
weekly revenues would suffice to purchase the fee-simple of Garibaldi's
island-farm,--the King of Sardinia, representing a race that was
renowned before the Normans reigned in England,--and the masses of the
Italian people,--all acting together for the redemption of a country
which needs only justice to enable it to assume, as near as modern
circumstances will permit, its old importance in the world's scale.
That there should have been such a concurrence of foreign friendship,
democratic patriotism, royal sagacity, aristocratic talent, and popular
good sense, for Italy's benefit, must help to strengthen the belief that
the Italians are indeed about to become a new _Power_ in Europe, and
in the world, and that their country is no more to be rated as a mere
"geographical expression."

The Italian crisis is a European crisis; for matters have now reached
a pass in which the foreigner must have something to say of Italy's
future: and it will be well for the general peace, if he shall use only
the words of justice, in giving his decision; for his right to speak
at all in the premises is derived only from an act of usurpation, long
acquiescence in which has clothed it with a certain show of legality. In
all that the Italians have thus far done, since the conclusion of the
with Austria, they have not necessarily been brought into conflict
with any foreign nation, though they may have terribly offended those
legitimate sovereigns who have been accustomed either to give law to
Europe or to see public opinion defer considerably to their will. Not a
single acquisition thus far made by Victor Emmanuel can be said to have
proceeded from any act at which Europe could complain with justice.
Lombardy was given to him by his ally of France, whose prize it was, and
who had an undid dispose of it in a most righteous manner. That Central
Italy was acquired by him was due partly to the cowardice of the old
rulers thereof, and partly to intelligence, activity, and patriotism of
its people. No foreign rights, conventional or otherwise, were assailed
or disregarded, when it passed under the Sardinian sceptre. When go much
of the Pope's temporal possessions were taken from him by the people
themselves, who had become weary of the worst system of misgovernment
known to the west of Bokhara, no doubt many pious Catholics were
shocked; but, if they knew anything of the history of the Papal temporal
rule and power, they could not complain at what was done, on the score
of illegality; and the deeds of Cialdini and Fanti and Persano were
performed against foreigners who had intruded themselves into Italy, and
who were employed to uphold the political supremacy of a few persons at
Rome, while they had no more connection with the religion of the ancient
Church than they had with that of Thibet. The King of the Two Sicilies,
by his tyranny, and by his persistence in the offensive course of his
house, had become an outlaw, as it were, and every _Italian_ at least
was fairly authorized to attack him; and in doing so he could not
be said to assail European order, nor could any European power
send assistance to a monarch who had refused to listen even to the
remonstrances of Austria against his cruelties. The stanchest of
English conservatives, while they said they must regard Garibaldi as
a freebooter, did not hesitate to express the warmest wishes for the
freebooter's success. When the Sardinians marched to Garibaldi's aid,
they did so in the interest of order, which has been promptly restored
to Southern Italy through their energetic course.

Thus far, that which has been done in Italy has been of a local
character; but nothing more can be done, in the way of completing the
independence and unity of Italy, without bringing the patriots into
conflict with Austria. That power still is supreme in Venetia, which is
one of the best portions of Italy, and which can be held by no foreign
sovereign without endangering the whole Peninsula. Were there no other
reason for seeking to redeem Venetia from Austrian oppression, the
safety of the rest of Italy would demand that that redemption should be
accomplished. Venetia, as she now is, is a place of arms for the chief,
we may say the only, foreign enemy that the Italian Kingdom has or can
have; and that enemy has a deep and a peculiar interest in seeking
occasion to bring about the new kingdom's destruction. If Austria should
succeed in conciliating the Hungarians,--which she might do, if she
were to act justly toward them,--and a change of government were to take
place in France,--and changes in the French government have occurred
so often since 1789 as not to be improbable now,--she would, through
possession of Venetia, be enabled to commence a new Italian war with the
chances of success greatly in her favor. The Italians, therefore, are
compelled to round and complete their work, in getting possession of
Venetia, by that desire for safety and for self-preservation which
actuates all men and all communities. A nobler feeling, too, moves them.
They feel the obligation that exists to extend to the Venetians that
freedom which is now enjoyed by all Italians except the Venetians and
a small portion of the Pope's subjects. They would be recreant to the
dictates of duty, and disregardful of those of honor, were they to leave
Venetia in the hands of Austria. What their feelings on this
momentous subject are may be gathered from Garibaldi's address to his
companions-in-arms, when, having completed his immediate work, he
withdrew from active service for the time, in November last. His words
point as directly to an attack on Venetia as his landing in Sicily
indicated his intention to overthrow Francis II.; and that attack,
according to the Patriot Soldier, is to be made under the lead of the
Patriot King, Victor Emanuel. A million of Italians are called for, that
it may be successfully made; and that number ought to be raised, if so
vast a host shall be found necessary to perfect the independence of
Italy. After what we have seen done by the Italians, we should not
distrust their power to do even more, if no delay should be permitted,
and full advantage be taken of the spirit of enthusiastic patriotism
which now animates them. That Garibaldi means no delay is proved by his
naming next March as the date for the renewal of the mighty crusade in
the course of which already such miracles have been wrought.

That Italy, as she stands to-day, would be found more than the equal
of Austria, no doubt can be felt by any one who is acquainted with the
condition of the two powers. Italy would enter upon a contest with
Austria under circumstances of peculiar advantage. She would have so
decided a naval superiority, that the Austrian flag would disappear from
the Mediterranean and the Adriatic, and she would be able to operate
powerfully from the sea against Venice. It is a military axiom, that,
wherever there is a sea-side, there is a weak side; and Venetia presents
this to an assailing force in quite a striking manner. Command of
the Adriatic and the neighboring waters would enable the Italians to
threaten many points of the Austrian territory, which would require to
be watched by large collections of soldiers; and aid could be sent to
the Hungarians, should they rise, by the way of Fiume. Italy could
raise a larger army to attack Venetia than Austria could employ for its
defence, with Hungary on the eve of revolution, Bohemia discontented,
Croatia not the loyal land it was in '48, and even the Tyrol no longer
a model of subserviency to the Imperial House. The Italians are at any
time the equals of the Austrians as soldiers, and at this time their
minds are in an exalted state, under the dominion of which they would
be found superior to any men who could be brought against them, if well
led; and among the Imperial commanders there is no man, unless Von
Benedek be an exception, who is to be named with the generals who have
led the way in the work we have seen done since last spring. In a
military sense, and in a moral sense, Italy is the superior of the
beaten, bankrupt monarchy of Austria, and capable of wresting Venetia
from the intrusive race, which holds it as much in defiance of common
sense as of common right.

But would Italy be permitted to settle her quarrel with her old
oppressor without foreign intervention? We fear that she would not.
Venetia is held by Austria in virtue of the Vienna settlement of Europe,
in the first place, and then under the treaty that followed the war of
1859. Some English statesmen would appear to be of opinion that Venetia
must remain among the possessions of Austria, without reference to the
interests of Italy, the party most concerned in the business. In his
first note to Sir James Hudson, British Minister at Turin, which note
was to be read to Count Cavour, Lord John Russell, Foreign Secretary,
writes more like an Austrian than an Englishman, going even to the
astounding length of declaring that a war to defend her right to Venetia
would be on Austria's part a patriotic war,--such a war, we presume the
Honorable Secretary of State must have meant, as Wallace waged against
Edward I., or that which the first William of Orange carried on against
Philip II.! Lord Palmerston seems inclined to indorse his colleague's
views: for he referred directly to this very note in terms of
approbation, in the speech which he made at the dinner of the
"Worshipful Company of Salters," on the 14th of November. It is true,
that, in a later note from Lord John Russell to Sir James Hudson,
extreme ground in favor of what had been done in Naples by the
Sardinians is taken, and sustained with eminent ability; and in the
speech of Lord Palmerston referred to, the object of the first note was
said to be the prevention of a rash course that "might have blighted all
the best hopes of Italian freedom." We do not for a moment suppose that
the English people would ever allow their government to do anything
to help Austria to maintain possession of Venetia; but the relations
between Austria and England are of old date, and an opinion prevails in
the latter country that the former should be kept strong, in order that
she may be preserved as a counterpoise, on the one side to Russia, and
on the other to France. England has a difficult part to play, and her
course, or rather that of her government, sometimes makes considerable
demand on the charitable construction of the world; but her people are
sound, and for a long series of years their weight has been felt on the
right side of European contests. The Italian cause is popular with all
classes of Englishmen, and their country will never do anything to the
prejudice of that cause. But it may refuse aid at a time when such aid
shall be much needed, and when even France may stand aloof, and refrain
from finishing the business which she commenced.

There is said to be an opinion growing up in France that Italy may be
made too strong for the good of her friend and ally. A new nation of
twenty-seven million souls--which would be Italy's strength, should Rome
and Venetia be gained for her--might become a potent enemy even to one
of its chief creators; and the taking of Savoy and Nice has caused
ill-feeling between the two countries, in which Garibaldi heartily
shares. Napoleon III. might be depended upon, himself, to support Italy
hereafter against any foreign enemy, but it is by no means clear that
France would support him in such a course; and he must defer to the
opinion of his subjects to a considerable extent, despotic though his
power is supposed to be. It is opinion, in the last resort, that governs
every where,--under an absolute monarchy quite as determinedly as under
a liberal polity like ours or England's. There is a large party in
France, composed of the most incongruous materials, which has the
profoundest interest in misrepresenting the policy of the Imperial
government, and which is full of men of culture and intellect,--men
whose labors, half-performed though they are, must have considerable
effect on the French mind. The first Napoleon had the ground honeycombed
under him by his enemies, who could not be suppressed, nor their labors
be made to cease, even by his stern system of repression. It may be so
with the present Emperor, who knows that one false step might upset his
dynasty as utterly as it was twice over-thrown by the armies of combined
Europe. What was then done by the lions and the eagles might now be done
by the moles. The worms that gnawed through the Dutch dykes did Holland
more damage than she experienced from the armies of Louis XIV. Let the
French mind become possessed with the idea that the Emperor is helping
Italy at the expense of France, and we may see a third Restoration in
that country, or even a third Republic. The elder Bourbons were driven
out because they were as a monument in Paris to Leipzig and Vittoria
and Waterloo, erected by the victors on those fatal fields. The Orleans
dynasty broke down because it had become an article in the belief of
most Frenchmen that it was disgracing France by the corruption of its
domestic policy and the subserviency of its foreign policy. Napoleon
III. could no more sustain himself against the belief that he was using
France for the benefit of Italy than the King of the French could
sustain himself against the conviction that he was abusing the country
he ruled over for the advancement of his family. He has already offended
the Catholic clergy by what he has done for Italy, which they regard as
having been done against their Church; and as they helped to make him,
so they may be able to unmake him. To satisfy grumblers, he took Savoy
and Nice. For some time past, rumor has been busy in attributing to him
the design of demanding the island of Sardinia. If he should ask for
Sardinia, and receive it, might he not ask also for Sicily, the country
of which he offered to become King in 1848, and did not receive one
vote, an incident that may still weigh upon the imperial heart, no man
ever forgetting a contemptuous slight? If he should make these demands,
or either of them, would the other European Powers permit the Italians
to comply with them? These are questions not to be answered hurriedly,
but they closely concern the Italian question, a solution of which must
soon be had, for the world's peace.

The third act of the drama approaches, and 1861 may be a more important
year to Italy than was either 1859 or 1860. The successful antagonist
of Austria she can be; but could she, without foreign aid, withstand an
alliance that should be formed against her in the name of order, while
her former ally should remain quiet and refuse to take any part in the
war? Austria, it has been intimated, might be induced to sell Venetia to
Italy, and this is possible, though such a settlement of the question in
dispute would be an extraordinary confession of weakness on the part of
the aristocratical military monarchy of the Lorraines, and a proceeding
of which it would be more ashamed than it would be even of a generous
action.

* * * * *

A VISIT TO THE ASYLUM FOR AGED AND DECAYED PUNSTERS.

Having just returned from a visit to this admirable Institution in
company with a friend who is one of the Directors, we propose giving a
short account of what we saw and heard. The great success of the Asylum
for Idiots and Feeble-minded Youth, several of the scholars from which
have reached considerable distinction, one of them being connected with
a leading Daily Paper in this city, and others having served in the
State and National Legislatures, was the motive which led to the
foundation of this excellent Charity. Our late distinguished townsman,
Noah Dow, Esquire, as is welt known, bequeathed a large portion of his
fortune to this establishment,--"being thereto moved," as his will
expressed it, "by the desire of _N. Dowing_ some publick Institution
for the benefit of Mankind." Being consulted as to the Rules of the
Institution and the selection of a Superintendent, he replied, that "all
Boards must construct their own Platforms of operation. Let them select
_anyhow_ and he should be pleased." N.E. Howe, Esq., was chosen in
compliance with this delicate suggestion.

The Charter provides for the support of "One hundred aged and decayed
Gentlemen-Punsters." On inquiry if there was no provision for _females_,
my friend called my attention to this remarkable psychological fact,
namely:--

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A FEMALE PUNSTER.

This remark struck me forcibly, and on reflection I found that _I never
knew nor heard of one_, though I have once or twice heard a woman make
_a single detached_ pun, as I have known a hen to crow.

On arriving at the south gate of the Asylum grounds, I was about to
ring, but my friend held my arm and begged me to rap with my stick,
which I did. An old man with a very comical face presently opened the
gate and put out his head.

"So you prefer _Cane_ to _A bell_, do you?" he said,--and began
chuckling and coughing at a great rate.

My friend winked at me.

"You're here still, Old Joe, I see," he said to the old man.

"Yes, yes,--and it's very odd, considering how often I've _bolted_,
nights."

He then threw open the double gates for us to ride through.

"Now," said the old man, as he pulled the gates after us, "you've had a
long journey."

"Why, how is that, Old Joe?" said my friend.

"Don't you see?" he answered; "there's the _East hinges_ on one side of
the gate, and there's the West hinges_ on t'other side,--haw! haw! haw!"

We had no sooner got into the yard than a feeble little gentleman, with
a remarkably bright eye, came up to us, looking very seriously, as if
something had happened.

"The town has entered a complaint against the Asylum as a gambling
establishment," he said to my friend, the Director.

"What do you mean?" said my friend.

"Why, they complain that there's a _lot o' rye_ on the premises," he
answered, pointing to a field of that grain,--and hobbled away, his
shoulders shaking with laughter, as he went.

On entering the main building, we saw the Rules and Regulations for
the Asylum conspicuously posted up. I made a few extracts which may be
interesting.

Sect. I. OF VERBAL EXERCISES.

5. Each Inmate shall be permitted to make Puns freely from eight in the
morning until ten at night, except during Service in the Chapel and
Grace before Meals.

6. At ten o'clock the gas will be turned off, and no further Puns,
Conundrums, or other play on words, will be allowed to be uttered, or to
be uttered aloud.

9. Inmates who have lost their faculties and cannot any longer make Puns
shall be permitted to repeat such as may be selected for them by the
Chaplain out of the work of Mr. _Joseph Miller_.

10. Violent and unmanageable Punsters, who interrupt others when engaged
in conversation, with Puns or attempts at the same, shall be deprived
of their _Joseph Millers_, and, if necessary, placed in solitary
confinement.

Sect. III. OF DEPORTMENT AT MEALS.

4. No Inmate shall make any Pun, or attempt at the same, until the
Blessing has been asked and the company are decently seated.

7. Certain Puns having been placed on the _Index Expurgatorius_ of the
Institution, no Inmate shall be allowed to utter them, on pain of being
debarred the perusal of _Punch_ and _Vanity Fair_, and, if repeated,
deprived of his _Joseph Miller_.

Among these are the following:--

Allusions to _Attic salt_, when asked to pass the salt-cellar.

Remarks on the Inmates being _mustered_, etc., etc.

Associating baked beans with the _bene_factors of the Institution.

Saying that beef-eating is _befitting_, etc., etc.

The following are also prohibited, excepting to such Inmates as may have
lost their faculties and cannot any longer make Puns of their own:--

"----your own _hair_ or a wig"; "it will be _long enough_, "etc., etc.;
"little of its age," etc., etc.;--also, playing upon the following
words: _hos_pital; _mayor_; _pun_; _pitied_; _bread_; _sauce_, etc.,
etc., etc. See INDEX EXPURGATORIUS, _printed for use of Inmates_.

The subjoined Conundrum is not allowed:--Why is Hasty Pudding like the
Prince? Because it comes attended by its _sweet_;--nor this variation to
it, _to wit_: Because the _'lasses runs after it_.

The Superintendent, who went round with us, had been a noted punster in
his time, and well known in the business-world, but lost his customers
by making too free with their names,--as in the famous story he set
afloat in '29 of _four Jerries_ attaching to the names of a noted Judge,
an eminent Lawyer, the Secretary of the Board of Foreign Missions, and
the well-known Landlord at Springfield. One of the _four Jerries_, he
added, was of gigantic magnitude. The play on words was brought out
by an accidental remark of Solomons, the well-known Banker. "_Capital
punishment!_" the Jew was overheard saying, with reference to the guilty
parties. He was understood as saying, _A capital pun is meant_, which
led to an investigation and the relief of the greatly excited public
mind.

The Superintendent showed some of his old tendencies, as he went round
with us.

"Do you know"--he broke out all at once--"why they don't take steppes in
Tartary for establishing Insane Hospitals?"

We both confessed ignorance.

"Because there are _nomad_ people to be found there," he said, with a
dignified smile.

He proceeded to introduce us to different Inmates. The first was a
middle-aged, scholarly man, who was seated at a table with a Webster's
Dictionary and a sheet of paper before him.

"Well, what luck to-day, Mr. Mowzer?" said the Superintendent.

"Three or four only," said Mr. Mowzer. "Will you hear 'em now,--now I'm
here?"

We all nodded.

"Don't you see Webster _ers_ in the words cent_er_ and theat_er_?

"If he spells leather _lether_, and feather _fether_, isn't there danger
that he'll give us a _bad spell of weather_?

"Besides, Webster is a resurrectionist; he does not allow _u_ to rest
quietly in the _mould_.

"And again, because Mr. Worcester inserts an illustration in his text,
is that any reason why Mr. Webster's publishers should hitch one on in
their appendix? It's what I call a _Conntect-a-cut_ trick.

"Why is his way of spelling like the floor of an oven? Because it is
_under bread_.

"Mowzer!" said the Superintendent,--"that word is on the Index!"

"I forgot," said Mr. Mowzer;--"please don't deprive me of _Vanity Fair_,
this one time, Sir.

"These are all, this morning. Good day, Gentlemen. Then to the
Superintendent,--Add you, Sir!"

The next Inmate was a semi-idiotic-looking old man. He had a heap of
block-letters before him, and, as we came up, he pointed, without saying
a word, to the arrangements he had made with them on the table. They
were evidently anagrams, and had the merit of transposing the letters of
the words employed without addition or subtraction. Here are a few of
them:--

TIMES. SMITE!
POST. STOP!

TRIBUNE. TRUE NIB.
WORLD. DR. OWL.

ADVERTISER. (RES VERI DAT.
(IS TRUE. READ!

ALLOPATHY. ALL O' TH' PAY.
HOMEOPATHY. O, THE--! O! O, MY! PAH!

The mention of several new York papers led to two or three questions.
Thus: Whether the Editor of the Tribune was _H.G. really?_ If the
complexion of his politics were not accounted for by his being an
_eager_ person himself? Whether Wendell _Fillips_ were not a reduced
copy of John _Knocks?_ Whether a New York _Feuilletoniste_ is not the
same thing as a _Fellow down East?_

At this time a plausible-looking, bald-headed man joined us, evidently
waiting to take a part in the conversation.

"Good morning, Mr. Riggles," said the Superintendent. "Anything fresh
this morning? Any Conundrum?"

"I haven't looked at the cattle," he answered, dryly.

"Cattle? Why cattle?"

"Why, to see if there's any _corn under 'em!_" he said; and immediately
asked, "Why is Douglas like the earth?"

We tried, but couldn't guess.

"Because he was _flattened out at the polls!_" said Mr. Riggles.

"A famous politician, formerly," said the Superintendent. "His
grandfather was a _seize-Hessian-ist_ in the Revolutionary War. By the
way, I hear the _freeze-oil_ doctrines don't go down at New Bedford."

The next Inmate looked as if be might have been a sailor formerly.

"Ask him what his calling was," said the Superintendent.

"Followed the sea," he replied to the question put by one of us. "Went
as mate in a fishing-schooner."

"Why did you give it up?"

"Because I didn't like working for _two mast-ers_," he replied.

Presently we came upon a group of elderly persons, gathered about a
venerable gentleman with flowing locks, who was propounding questions to
a row of Inmates.

"Can any Inmate give me a motto for M. Berger?" he said.

Nobody responded for two or three minutes. At last one old man, whom I
at once recognized as a Graduate of our University, (Anno 1800,) held up
his hand.

"Rem a _cue_ tetigit."

"Go to the head of the Class, Josselyn," said the venerable Patriarch.

The successful Inmate did as he was told, but in a very rough way,
pushing against two or three of the Class.

"How is this?" said the Patriarch.

"You told me to go up _jostlin',_" he replied.

The old gentlemen who had been shoved about enjoyed the Pun too much to
be angry.

Presently the Patriarch asked again,--

"Why was M. Berger authorized to go to the dances given to the Prince?"

The Class had to give up this, and he answered it himself:--

"Because every one of his carroms was a _tick-it_ to the _ball_."

"Who collects the money to defray the expenses of the last campaign in
Italy?" asked the Patriarch.

Here again the Class failed.

"The war-cloud's rolling _Dun_," he answered.

"And what is mulled wine made with?"

Three or four voices exclaimed at once,----

"_Sizzle-y_ Madeira!"

Here a servant entered, and said, "Luncheon-time." The old gentlemen,
who have excellent appetites, dispersed at once, one of them politely
asking us if we would not stop and have a bit of bread and a little mite
of cheese.

"There is one thing I have forgotten to show you," said the
Superintendent,--"the cell for the confinement of violent and
unmanageable Punsters."

We were very curious to see it, particularly with reference to the
alleged absence of every object upon which a play of words could
possibly be made.

The Superintendent led us up some dark stairs to a corridor, then
along a narrow passage, then down a broad flight of steps into another
passage-way, and opened a large door which looked out on the main
entrance.

"We have not seen the cell for the confinement of 'violent and
unmanageable' Punsters," we both exclaimed.

"This is the _sell!_" he exclaimed, pointing to the outside prospect.

My friend, the Director, looked me in the face so good-naturedly that I
had to laugh.

"We like to humor the Inmates," he said. "It has a bad effect, we
find, on their health and spirits to disappoint them of their little
pleasantries. Some of the jests to which we have listened are not new to
me, though I dare say you may not have heard them often before. The same
thing happens in general society,--with this additional disadvantage,
that there is no punishment provided for 'violent and unmanageable'
Punsters, as in our Institution."

We made our bow to the Superintendent and walked to the place where our
carriage was waiting for us. On our way, an exceedingly decrepit old man
moved slowly towards us, with a perfectly blank look on his face, but
still appearing as if he wished to speak.

"Look!" said the Director,--"that is our Centenarian."

The ancient man crawled towards us, cocked one eye, with which he seemed
to sec a little, up at us, and said,--

"Sarvant, young Gentlemen. Why is a--a--a--like a--a--a--? Give it up?
Because it's a--a--a--a--."

He smiled a pleasant smile, as if it were all plain enough.

"One hundred and seven last Christmas," said the Director. "He lost his
answers about the age of ninety-eight. Of late years he puts his whole
Conundrums in blank,--but they please him just as well."

We took our departure, much gratified and instructed by our visit,
hoping to have some future opportunity of inspecting the Records of this
excellent Charity and making extracts for the benefit of our Readers.

* * * * *

THE QUESTION OF THE HOUR.

Dean Swift, in a letter to Lord Bolingbroke, says that he does not
"remember to have ever heard or seen one great genius who had long
success in the ministry; and recollecting a great many in my memory and
acquaintance, those who had the smoothest time were, at best, men of
middling degree in understanding." However true this may be in the
main,--and it undoubtedly is true that in ordinary times the speculative
and innovating temper of an original mind is less safe than the patience
of routine and persistence in precedent of a common-place one,--there
are critical occasions to which intellect of the highest quality,
character of the finest fibre, and a judgment that is inspired rather
than confused by new and dangerous combinations of circumstances, are
alone equal. Tactics and an acquaintance with the highest military
authorities were adequate enough till they were confronted with General
Bonaparte and the new order of things. If a great man struggling with
the storms of fate be the sublimest spectacle, a mediocre man in the
same position is surely the most pitiful. Deserted by his presence
of mind, which, indeed, had never been anything but an absence of
danger,--baffled by the inapplicability of his habitual principles of
conduct, (if that may be called a principle, which, like the act of
walking, is merely an unconscious application of the laws of gravity,)
--helpless, irresolute, incapable of conceiving the flower Safety in
the nettle Danger, much more of plucking it thence,--surely here, if
anywhere, is an object of compassion. When such a one is a despot who
has wrought his own destruction by obstinacy in a traditional evil
policy, like Francis II. of Naples, our commiseration is outweighed by

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