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Atlantic Monthly, Volume 8, Issue 45, July, 1861 by Various

Part 3 out of 5

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At length the sound moved away in the direction whence it came, becoming
gradually fainter and fainter until it died in the distance. But
immediately afterwards, from the same quarter, came a thin, sharp blast
of wind,--or what seemed to be such. If one could imagine a swift,
intense stream of air, no thicker than a telegraph-wire, producing a
keen, whistling rush in its passage, he would understand the impression
made upon my mind. This wind, or sound, or whatever it was, seemed to
strike an invisible target in the centre of the room, and thereupon
ensued a new and worse confusion. Sounds as of huge planks lifted at
one end and then allowed to fall, slamming upon the floor, hard, wooden
claps, crashes, and noises of splitting and snapping, filled the shanty.
The rough boards of the floor jarred and trembled, and the table and
chairs were jolted off their feet. Instinctively, I jerked away my legs,
whenever the invisible planks fell too near them.

It never came into my mind to charge the family with being the authors
of these phenomena: their care and distress were too evident. There was
certainly no other human being but myself in or near the shanty.
My senses of sight and touch availed me nothing, and I confined my
attention, at last, to simply noting the manifestations, without
attempting to explain them. I began to experience a feeling, not of
terror, but of disturbing uncertainty. The solid ground was taken from
beneath my feet.

Still the man and his wife groaned and muttered, as if in a nightmare
sleep, and the boy tossed restlessly on his low bed. I would not disturb
them, since, by their own confession, they were accustomed to the
visitation. Besides, it would not assist me, and, so long as there was
no danger of personal injury, I preferred to watch alone. I recalled,
however, the woman's remarks, remembering the mysterious blame she had
thrown upon her husband, and felt certain that she had adopted some
explanation of the noises, at his expense.

As the confusion continued, with more or less violence, sometimes
pausing for a few minutes, to begin again with renewed force, I felt an
increasing impression of somebody else being present. Outside the shanty
this feeling ceased, but every time I opened the door I fully expected
to see some one standing in the centre of the room. Yet, looking through
the little windows, when the noises were at their loudest, I could
discover nothing. Two hours had passed away since I first heard the
drum-beat, and I found myself at last completely wearied with my
fruitless exertions and the unusual excitement. By this time the
disturbances had become faint, with more frequent pauses. All at once,
I heard a long, weary sigh, so near me that it could not have proceeded
from the sleepers. A weak moan, expressive of utter wretchedness,
followed, and then came the words, in a woman's voice,--came I know not
whence, for they seemed to be uttered close beside me, and yet far, far
away,--"How great is my trouble! How long shall I suffer? I was married,
in the sight of God, to Eber Nicholson. Have mercy, O Lord, and give him
to me, or release me from him!"

These were the words, not spoken, but rather moaned forth in a slow,
monotonous wail of utter helplessness and broken-heartedness. I have
heard human grief expressed in many forms, but I never heard or imagined
anything so desolate, so surcharged with the despair of an eternal woe.
It was, indeed, too hopeless for sympathy. It was the utterance of a
sorrow which removed its possessor into some dark, lonely world girdled
with iron walls, against which every throb of a helping or consoling
heart would beat in vain for admittance. So far from being moved or
softened, the words left upon me an impression of stolid apathy. When
they had ceased, I heard another sigh,--and some time afterwards,
far-off, retreating forlornly through the eastern darkness, the wailing
repetition,--"I was married, in the sight of God, to Eber Nicholson.
Have mercy, O Lord!"

This was the last of those midnight marvels. Nothing further disturbed
the night except the steady sound of the wind. The more I thought of
what I had heard, the more I was convinced that the phenomena were
connected, in some way, with the history of my host. I had heard his
wife call him "Ebe," and did not doubt that he was the Eber Nicholson
who, for some mysterious crime, was haunted by the reproachful ghost.
Could murder, or worse than murder, lurk behind these visitations? It
was useless to conjecture; yet, before giving myself up to sleep, I
determined to know everything that could be known, before leaving the
shanty.

My rest was disturbed: my hip-bones pressed unpleasantly on the hard
bench; and every now and then I awoke with a start, hearing the
same despairing voice in my dreams. The place was always quiet,
nevertheless,--the disturbances having ceased, as nearly as I could
judge, about one o'clock in the morning. Finally, from sheer weariness,
I fell into a deep slumber, which lasted until daylight. The sound of
pans and kettles aroused me. The woman, in her lank blue gown, was
bending over the fire; the man and boy had already gone out. As I rose,
rubbing my eyes and shaking myself, to find out exactly where and who
I was, the woman straightened herself and looked at me with a keen,
questioning gaze, but said nothing.

"I must have been very sound asleep," said I.

"There's no sound sleepin' here. Don't tell me that."

"Well," I answered, "your shanty is rather noisy; but, as I'm neither
scared nor hurt, there's no harm done. But have you never found out what
occasions the noise?"

Her reply was a toss of the head and a peculiar snorting interjection,
"Hngh!" (impossible to be represented by letters,) "it's all _her_
doin'."

"But who is _she_?"

"You'd better ask _him_."

Seeing there was nothing to be got out of her, I went down to the
stream, washed my face, dried it with my pocket-handkerchief, and then
looked after Peck. He gave a shrill whinny of recognition, and, I
thought, seemed to be a little restless. A fresh feed of corn was in the
old basket, and presently the man came into the stable with a bunch of
hay, and commenced rubbing off the marks of Peck's oozy couch which were
left on his flanks. As we went back to the shanty I noticed that he
eyed me furtively, without daring to look me full in the face. As I was
apparently none the worse for the night's experiences, he rallied at
last, and ventured to talk _at_, as well as to, me.

By this time, breakfast, which was a repetition of supper, was ready,
and we sat down to the table. During the meal, it occurred to me to make
an experimental remark. Turning suddenly to the man, I asked,--

"Is your name Eber Nicholson?"

"There!" exclaimed the woman, "I knowed he'd heerd it!"

He, however, flushing a moment, and then becoming move sallow than ever,
nodded first, and then--as if that were not sufficient--added, "Yes,
that's my name."

"Where did you move from?" I continued, falling back on the first plan I
had formed in my mind.

"The Western Reserve, not fur from Hudson."

I turned the conversation on the comparative advantages of Ohio and
Illinois, on farming, the price of land, etc., carefully avoiding the
dangerous subject, and by the time breakfast was over had arranged,
that, for a consideration, he should accompany me as far as the
Bloomington road, some five miles distant.

While he went out to catch an old horse, ranging loose in the
creek-bottom, I saddled Peck, strapped on my valise, and made myself
ready for the journey. The feeling of two silver half-dollars in her
hard palm melted down the woman's aggressive mood, and she said, with a
voice the edge whereof was mightily blunted,--

"Thankee! it's too much fur sich as you had."

"It's the best you can give," I replied.

"That's so!" said she, jerking my hand up and down with a pumping
movement, as I took leave.

I felt a sense of relief when we had climbed the rise and had the open
prairie again before us. The sky was overcast and the wind strong,
but some rain had fallen during the night, and the clouds had lifted
themselves again. The air was fresh and damp, but not chill. We rode
slowly, of necessity, for the mud was deeper than ever.

I deliberated what course I should take, in order to draw from my guide
the explanation of the nightly noises. His evident shrinking, whenever
his wife referred to the subject, convinced me that a gradual approach
would render him shy and uneasy; and, on the whole, it seemed best to
surprise him by a sudden assault. Let me strike to the heart of the
secret, at once,--I thought,--and the details will come of themselves.

While I was thus reflecting, he rode quietly by my side. Half turning
in the saddle, I looked steadily at his face, and said, in an earnest
voice,--

"Eber Nicholson, who was it to whom you were married in the sight of
God?"

He started as if struck, looked at me imploringly, turned away his eyes,
then looked back, became very pale, and finally said, in a broken,
hesitating voice, as if the words were forced from him against his
will,--

"Her name is Rachel Emmons."

"Why did you murder her?" I asked, in a still sterner tone.

In an instant his face burned scarlet. He reined up his horse with a
violent pull, straightened his shoulders so that he appeared six inches
taller, looked steadily at me with a strange, mixed expression of anger
and astonishment, and cried out,--

"Murder her? _Why, she's livin' now!_"

My surprise at the answer was scarcely less great than his at the
question.

"You don't mean to say she's not dead?" I asked.

"Why, no!" said he, recovering from his sudden excitement, "she's not
dead, or she wouldn't keep on troublin' me. She's been livin' in Toledo,
these ten year."

"I beg your pardon, my friend," said I; "but I don't know what to think
of what I heard last night, and I suppose I have the old notion in my
head that all ghosts are of persons who have been murdered."

"Oh, if I had killed her," he groaned, "I'd 'a' been hung long ago, an'
there 'd 'a' been an end of it."

"Tell me the whole story," said I. "It's hardly likely that I can help
you, but I can understand how you must be troubled, and I'm sure I pity
you from my heart."

I think he felt relieved at my proposal,--glad, perhaps, after long
silence, to confide to another man the secret of his lonely, wretched
life.

"After what you've heerd," said he, "there's nothin' that I don't care
to tell. I've been sinful, no doubt,--but, God knows, there never was a
man worse punished.

"I told you," he continued, after a pause, "that I come from the Western
Reserve. My father was a middlin' well-to-do farmer,--not rich, nor yit
exactly poor. He's dead now. He was always a savin' man,--looked after
money a _leetle_ too sharp, I've often thought sence: howsever, 't isn't
my place to judge him. Well, I was brought up on the farm, to hard work,
like the other boys. Rachel Emmons,--she's the same woman that haunts
me, you understand,--she was the girl o' one of our neighbors, an' poor
enough _he_ was. His wife was always sickly-like,--an' you know it
takes a woman as well as a man to git rich farmin'. So they were always
scrimped, but that didn't hinder Rachel from bein' one o' the likeliest
gals round. We went to the same school in the winter, he an' me, ('t
isn't much schoolin' I ever got, though,) an' I had a sort o' nateral
hankerin' after her, as fur back as I can remember. She was different
lookin' then from, what she is now,--an' me, too, for that matter.

"Well, you know how boys an' gals somehow git to likin' each other afore
they know it. Me an' Rachel was more an' more together, the more we
growed up, only more secret-like; so by the time I was twenty an' she
was nineteen, we was promised to one another as true as could be. I
didn't keep company with her, though,--leastways, not reg'lar: I was
afeard my father 'd find it out, an' I knowed what _he_ 'd say to it. He
kep' givin' me hints about Mary Ann Jones,--that was my wife's maiden
name. Her father had two hundred acres an' money out at interest, an'
only three children. He'd had ten, but seven of 'em died. I had nothin'
agin Mary Ann, but I never thought of her that way, like I did towards
Rachel.

"Well, things kep' runnin' on; I was a good deal worried about it, but
a young feller, you know, don't look fur ahead, an' so I got along. One
night, howsever,--'t was jist about as dark as last night was,--I'd been
to the store at the Corners, for a jug o' molasses. Rachel was
there, gittin' a quarter of a pound o' tea, I think it was, an' some
sewin'-thread. I went out a little while after her, an' follered as fast
as I could, for we had the same road nigh to home.

"It weren't long afore I overtook her. 'T was mighty dark, as I was
sayin', an' so I hooked her arm into mine, an' we went on comfortable
together, talkin' about how we jist suited each other, like we was cut
out o' purpose, an' how long we'd have to wait, an' what folks 'd say.
O Lord! don't I remember every word o' _that_ night? Well, we got quite
tender-like when we come t' Old Emmons's gate, an' I up an' giv' her a
hug and a lot o' kisses, to make up for lost time. Then she went into
the house, an' I turned for home; but I hadn't gone ten steps afore I
come agin somebody stan'in' in the middle o' the road. 'Hullo!' says
I. The next thing he had a holt o' my coat-collar an' shuck me like a
tarrier-dog shakes a rat. I knowed who it was afore he spoke; an' I
couldn't 'a' been more skeered, if the life had all gone out o' me. He'd
been down to the tavern to see a drover, an' comin' home he'd follered
behind us all the way, hearin' every word we said.

"I don't like to think o' the words he used that night. He was a
professin' member, an' yit he swore the awfullest I ever heerd."--Here
the man involuntarily raised his hands to his ears, as if to stop them
against even the memory of his father's curses.--"I expected every
minute he'd 'a' struck me down. I've wished, sence, he _had_: I don't
think I could 'a' stood _that_. Howsever, he dragged me home, never
lettin' go my collar, till we got into the room where mother was settin'
up for us. Then he told _her_, only makin' it ten times harder 'n it
really was. Mother always kind o' liked Rachel, 'cause she was mighty
handy at sewin' an' quiltin', but she'd no more dared stan' up agin
father than a sheep agin a bull-dog. She looked at me pityin'-like, I
must say, an' jist begun to cry,--an' I couldn't help cryin' nuther,
when I saw how it hurt her.

"Well, after that, 't wa'n't no use thinkin' o' Rachel any more. I _had_
to go t' Old Jones's, whether I wanted to or no. I felt mighty mean when
I thought o' Rachel, an' was afeard no good 'd come of it; but father
jist managed things _his_ way, an' I couldn't help myself. Old Jones had
nothin' agin me, for I was a stiddy, hard-workin' feller as there was
round,--an' Mary Ann was always as pleasant as could be, _then_;--well,
I oughtn't to say nothin' agin her now; she's had a hard life of it,
'longside o' me. Afore long we were bespoke, an' the day set. Father
hurried things, when it got that fur. I don't think Rachel knowed
anything about it till the day afore the weddin', or mebby the very day.
Old Mr. Larrabee was the minister, an' there was only the two families
at the house, an' Miss Plankerton,--her that sewed for Mary Ann. I never
felt so oneasy in my life, though I tried hard not to show it.

"Well, 't was all jist over, an' the kissin' about to begin, when I
heerd the house-door bu'st open, suddent. I felt my heart give one jump
right up to the root o' my tongue, an' then fall back ag'in, sick an'
dead-like.

"The parlor-door flew open right away, an' in come Rachel without a
bunnet, an' her hair all frowzed by the wind. She was as white as a
sheet, an' her eyes like two burnin' coals. She walked straight through
'em all an' stood right afore me. They was all so taken aback that they
never thought o' stoppin' her. Then she kind o' screeched out,--'Eber
Nicholson, what are you doin'?' Her voice was strange an'
onnatural-like, an' I'd never 'a' knowed it to be hern, if I hadn't 'a'
seen her. I couldn't take my eyes off of her, an' I couldn't speak: I
jist stood there. Then she said ag'in,--'Eber Nicholson, what are you
doin'? You are married to me, in the sight of God. You belong to me an'
I to you, forever an' forever!' Then they begun cryin' out,--'Go 'way!'
'Take her away!' 'What d's she mean?' an' old Mr. Larrabee ketched holt
of her arm. She begun to jerk an' trimble all over; she drawed in her
breath in a sort o' groanin' way, awful to hear, an' then dropped down
on the floor in a fit. I bu'st out in a terrible spell o' cryin';--I
couldn't 'a' helped it, to save my life."

The man paused, drew his sleeve across his eyes, and then timidly looked
at me. Seeing nothing in my face, doubtless, but an expression of the
profoundest commiseration, he remarked, with a more assured voice, as if
in self-justification,--

"It was a pretty hard thing for a man to go through with, now, wasn't
it?"

"You may well say that," said I. "Your story is not yet finished,
however. This Rachel Emmons,--you say she is still living,--in what way
does she cause the disturbances?"

"I'll tell you all I know about it," said he,--"an' if you understand
it _then_, you're wiser 'n I am. After they carried her home, she had a
long spell o' sickness,--come near dyin', they said; but they brought
her through, at last, an' she got about ag'in, lookin' ten year older.
I kep' out of her sight, though. I lived awhile at Old Jones's, till I
could find a good farm to rent, or a cheap un to buy. I wanted to git
out o' the neighborhood: I was oneasy all the time, bein' so near
Rachel. Her mother was wuss, an' her father failin'-like, too. Mother
seen 'em often: she was as good a neighbor to 'em as she dared be. Well,
I got sort o' tired, an' went out to Michigan an' bought a likely farm.
Old Jones giv' me a start. I took Mary Ann out, an' we got along well
enough, a matter o' two year. We heerd from home now an' then. Rachel's
father an' mother both died, about the time we had our first boy,--him
that you seen,--an' she went off to Toledo, we heerd, an' hired out to
do sewin'. She was always a mighty good hand at it, an' could cut out as
nice as a born manty-maker. She'd had another fit after the funerals,
an' was older-lookin' an' more serious than ever, they said.

"Well, Jimmy was six months old, or so, when we begun to be woke up
every night by his cryin'. Nothin' seemed to be the matter with him:
he was only frightened-like, an' couldn't be quieted. I heerd noises
sometimes,--nothin' like what come afterwards,--but sort o' crackin' an'
snappin', sich as you hear in new furnitur', an' it seemed like somebody
was in the room; but I couldn't find nothin'. It got wuss and wuss: Mary
Ann was sure the house was haunted, an' I had to let her go home for a
whole winter. When she was away, it went on the same as ever,--not every
night,--sometimes not more 'n onst a week,--but so loud as to wake me
up, reg'lar. I sent word to Mary Ann to come on, an' I'd sell out an' go
to Illinois. Good perairah land was cheap then, an' I'd ruther go furder
off, for the sake o' quiet.

"So we pulled up stakes an' come out here: but it weren't long afore the
noise follered us, wuss 'n ever, an' we found out at last what it was.
One night I woke up, with my hair stan'in' on end, an' heerd Rachel
Emmons's voice, jist as you heerd it last night. Mary Ann heerd it too,
an' it's little peace she's giv' me sence that time. An' so it's been
goin' on an' on, these eight or nine year."

"But," I asked, "are you sure she is alive? Have you seen her since?
Have you asked her to be merciful and not disturb you?"

"Yes," said he, with a bitterness of tone which seemed quite to
obliterate the softer memories of his love, "I've seen her, an' I've
begged her on my knees to let me alone; but it's no use. When it got to
be so bad I couldn't stan' it, I sent her a letter, but I never got no
answer. Next year, when our second boy died, frightened and worried to
death, I believe, though he _was_ scrawny enough when he was born, I
took some money I'd saved to buy a yoke of oxen, an' went to Toledo o'
purpose to see Rachel. It cut me awful to do it, but I was desprit. I
found her livin' in a little house, with a bit o' garden, she'd bought.
I s'pose she must 'a' had five or six hundred dollars when the farm was
sold, an' she made a good deal by sewin', besides. She was settin' at
her work when I went in, an' knowed me at onst, though I don't believe
I'd ever 'a' knowed _her_. She was old, an' thin, an' hard-lookin'; her
mouth was pale an' sot, like she was bitin' somethin' all the time; an'
her eyes, though they was sunk into her head, seemed to look through an'
through an' away out th' other side o' you.

"It jist shut me up when she looked at me. She was so corpse-like I was
afraid she'd drop dead, then and there: but I made out at last to say,
'Rachel, I've come all the way from Illinois to see you.' She kep'
lookin' straight at me, never sayin' a word. 'Rachel,' says I, 'I know
I've acted bad towards you. God knows I didn't mean to do it. I don't
blame you for payin' it back to me the way you're doin', but Mary Ann
an' the boy never done you no harm. I've come all the way o' purpose
to ask your forgiveness, hopin' you'll be satisfied with what's _been_
done, an' leave off bearin' malice agin us.' She looked kind o'
sorrowful-like, but drawed a deep breath, an' shuck her head, 'Oh,
Rachel,' says I,--an' afore I knowed it I was right down on my knees at
her feet,--'Rachel, don't be so hard on me. I'm the onhappiest man that
lives. I can't stan' it no longer. Rachel, you didn't use to be so
cruel, when we was boys an' girls together. Do forgive me, an' leave
off' hauntin' me so.'

"Then she spoke up, at last, an' says she,--

"'Eber Nicholson, I was married to you, in the sight o' God!'

"'I know it,' says I; 'you say it to me every night; an' it wasn't my
doin's that you're not my wife now: but, Rachel, if I'd 'a' betrayed
you, an' ruined you, an' killed you, God couldn't 'a' punished me wuss
than you're a-punishin' me.'

"She giv' a kind o' groan, an' two tears run down her white face. 'Eber
Nicholson,' says she, 'ask God to help you, for I can't. There might 'a'
been a time,' says she, 'when I could 'a' done it, but it's too late
now.'

"'Don't say that, Rachel,' says I; 'it's never too late to be merciful
an' forgivin'.'

"'It doesn't depend on myself,' says she; 'I'm _sent_ to you. It's th'
only comfort I have in life to be near you; but I'd give up that, if I
could. Pray to God to let me die, for then we shall both have rest.'

"An' that was all I could git out of her.

"I come home ag'in, knowin' I'd spent my money for nothin'. Sence then,
it's been jist the same as before,--not reg'lar every night, but sort o'
comes on by spells, an' then stops three or four days, an' then comes
on ag'in. Fact is, what's the use o' livin' in this way? We can't be
neighborly; we're afeard to have anybody come to see us; we've got no
peace, no comfort o' bein' together, an' no heart to work an' git ahead,
like other folks. It's jist killin' me, body an' soul."

Here the poor wretch fairly broke down, bursting suddenly into an
uncontrollable fit of weeping. I waited quietly until the violence of
his passion had subsided. A misery so strange, so completely out of the
range of human experience, so hopeless apparently, was not to be reached
by the ordinary utterances of consolation. I had seen enough to enable
me fully to understand the fearful nature of the retribution which had
been visited upon him for what was, at worst, a weakness to be pitied,
rather than a sin to be chastised. "Never was a man worse punished," he
had truly said. But I was as far as ever from comprehending the secret
of those nightly visitations. The statement of Rachel Emmons, that they
were now produced without her will, overturned--supposing it to be
true--the conjecture which I might otherwise have adopted. However, it
was now plain that the unhappy victim sobbing at my side could throw no
further light on the mystery. He had told me all he knew.

"My friend," said I, when he had become calmer, "I do not wonder at your
desperation. Such continual torment as you must have endured is enough
to drive a man to madness. It seems to me to spring from the malice of
some infernal power, rather than the righteous justice of God. Have you
never tried to resist it? Have you never called aloud, in your heart,
for Divine help, and gathered up your strength to meet and defy it, as
you would to meet a man who threatened your life?"

"Not in the right way, I'm afeard," said he. "Fact is, I always tuck it
as a judgment hangin' over me, an' never thought o' nothin' else than
jist to grin and bear it."

"Enough of that," I urged,--for a hope of relief had suggested itself to
me,--"you have suffered enough, and more than enough. Now stand up to
meet it like a man. When the noises come again, think of what you have
endured, and let it make you indignant and determined. Decide in your
heart that you _will_ be free from it, and perhaps you may be so. If
not, build another shanty and sleep away from your wife and boy, so
that they may escape, at least. Give yourself this claim to your wife's
gratitude, and she will be kind and forbearing."

"I don't know but you're more 'n half right, stranger," he replied, in
a more cheerful tone. "Fact is, I never thought on it that way. It's
lightened my heart a heap, tellin' you; an' if I'm not too broke an'
used-up-like, I'll try to foller your advice. I couldn't marry Rachel
now, if Mary Ann _was_ dead, we've been druv so fur apart. I don't know
how it'll be when we're _all_ dead: I s'pose them 'll go together that
belongs together;--leastways, 't ought to be so."

Here we struck the Bloomington road, and I no longer needed a guide.
When we pulled our horses around, facing each other, I noticed that the
flush of excitement still burned on the man's sallow cheek, and his
eyes, washed by probably the first freshet of feeling which had
moistened them for years, shone with a faint lustre of courage.

"No, no,--none o' that!" said he, as I was taking out my porte-monnaie;
"you've done me a mighty sight more good than I've done you, let alone
payin' me to boot. Don't forgit the turn to the left, after crossin'
Jackson's Run. Good-bye, stranger! Take good keer o' yourself!"

And with a strong, clinging, lingering grasp of the hand, in which the
poor fellow expressed the gratitude which he was too shy and awkward
to put into words, we parted. He turned his horse's head, and slowly
plodded back through the mud towards the lonely shanty.

On my way to Bloomington, I went over and over the man's story, in
memory. The facts were tolerably clear and coherent: his narrative was
simple and credible enough, after my own personal experience of the
mysterious noises, and the secret, whatever it was, must be sought for
in Rachel Emmons. She was still living in Toledo, Ohio, he said, and
earned her living as a seamstress; it would, therefore, not be difficult
to find her. I confess, after his own unsatisfactory interview, I
had little hope of penetrating her singular reserve; but I felt the
strongest desire to see her, at least, and thus test the complete
reality of a story which surpassed the wildest fiction. After visiting
Terre Haute, the next point to which business called me, on the homeward
route, was Cleveland; and by giving an additional day to the journey, I
could easily take Toledo on my way. Between memory and expectation the
time passed rapidly, and a week later I registered my name at the Island
House, Toledo.

After wandering about for an hour or two, the next morning, I
finally discovered the residence of Rachel Emmons. It was a small
story-and-a-half frame building, on the western edge of the town, with a
locust-tree in front, two lilacs inside the paling, and a wilderness of
cabbage-stalks and currant-bushes in the rear. After much cogitation, I
had not been able to decide upon any plan of action, and the interval
between my knock and the opening of the door was one of considerable
embarrassment to me. A small, plumpish woman of forty, with peaked nose,
black eyes, and but two upper teeth, confronted me. She, certainly, was
not the one I sought.

"Is your name Rachel Emmons?" I asked, nevertheless.

"No, I'm not her. This is her house, though."

"Will you tell her a gentleman wants to see her?" said I, putting my
foot inside the door as I spoke. The room, I saw, was plainly, but
neatly furnished. A rag-carpet covered the floor; green rush-bottomed
chairs, a settee with chintz cover, and a straight-backed rocking-chair
were distributed around the walls; and for ornament there was an
alphabetical sampler in a frame, over the low wooden mantel-piece.

The woman, however, still held the door-knob in her hand, saying, "Miss
Emmons is busy. She can't well leave her work. Did you want some sewin'
done?"

"No," said I; "I wish to speak with her. It's on private and particular
business."

"Well," she answered with some hesitation, "I'll _tell_ her. Take a
cheer."

She disappeared through a door into a back room, and I sat down. In
another minute the door noiselessly reopened, and Rachel Emmons came
softly into the room. I believe I should have known her anywhere. Though
from Eber Nicholson's narrative she could not have been much over
thirty, she appeared to be at least forty-five. Her hair was streaked
with gray, her face thin and of an unnatural waxy pallor, her lips of a
whitish-blue color and tightly pressed together, and her eyes, seemingly
sunken far back in their orbits, burned with a strange, ghastly--I had
almost said phosphorescent--light. I remember thinking they must shine
like touch-wood in the dark. I have come in contact with too many
persons, passed through too wide a range of experience, to lose my
self-possession easily; but I could not meet the cold, steady gaze of
those eyes without a strong internal trepidation. It would have been the
same, if I had known nothing about her.

She was probably surprised at seeing a stranger, but I could discern no
trace of it in her face. She advanced but a few steps into the room, and
then stopped, waiting for me to speak.

"You are Rachel Emmons?" I asked, since a commencement of some sort must
be made.

"Yes."

"I come from Eber Nicholson," said I, fixing my eyes on her face.

Not a muscle moved, not a nerve quivered, but I fancied that a faint
purple flush played for an instant under the white mask. If I were
correct, it was but momentary. She lifted her left hand slowly, pressed
it on her heart, and then let it fall. The motion was so calm that I
should not have noticed it, if I had not been watching her so steadily.

"Well?" she said, after a pause.

"Rachel Emmons," said I,--and more than one cause conspired to make my
voice earnest and authoritative,--"I know all. I come to you not to
meddle with the sorrow--let me say the sin--which has blighted your
life; not because Eber Nicholson sent me; not to defend him or to
accuse you; but from that solemn sense of duty which makes every man
responsible to God for what he does or leaves undone. An equal pity
for him and for you forces me to speak. He cannot plead his cause; you
cannot understand his misery. I will not ask by what wonderful power you
continue to torment his life; I will not even doubt that you pity while
you afflict him; but I ask you to reflect whether the selfishness of
your sorrow may not have hardened your heart, and blinded you to that
consolation which God offers to those who humbly seek it. You say that
you are married to Eber Nicholson, in His sight. Think, Rachel Emmons,
think of that moment when you will stand before His awful bar, and the
poor, broken, suffering soul, whom your forgiveness might still make
yours in the holy marriage of heaven, shrinks from you with fear and
pain, as in the remembered persecutions of earth!"

The words came hot from my very heart, and the ice-crust of years under
which hers lay benumbed gave way before them. She trembled slightly;
and the same sad, hopeless moan which I had heard at midnight in the
Illinois shanty came from her lips. She sank into a chair, letting her
hands fall heavily at her side. There was no movement of her features,
yet I saw that her waxy cheeks were moist, as with the slow ooze of
tears so long unshed that they had forgotten their natural flow.

"I do pity him," she murmured at last, "and I believe I forgive him;
but, oh! I've become an instrument of wrath for the punishment of both."

If any feeling of reproof still lingered in my mind, her appearance
disarmed me at once. I felt nothing but pity for her forlorn, helpless
state. It was the apathy of despair, rather than the coldness of
cherished malice, which had so frozen her life. Still, the mystery of
those nightly persecutions!

"Rachel Emmons," I said, "you certainly know that you still continue to
destroy the peace of Eber Nicholson and his family. Do you mean to say
that you _cannot_ cease to do so, if you would?"

"It is too late," said she, shaking her head slowly, as she clasped both
hands hard against her breast. "Do you think I would suffer, night after
night, if I could help it? Haven't I stayed awake for days, till my
strength gave way, rather than fall asleep, for _his_ sake? Wouldn't I
give my life to be free?--and would have taken it, long ago, with my own
hands, but for the sin!"

She spoke in a low voice, but with a wild earnestness which startled me.
She, then, was equally a victim!

"But," said I, "this thing had a beginning. Why did you visit him in the
first place, when, perhaps, you might have prevented it?"

"I am afraid that was my sin," she replied, "and this is the punishment.
When father and mother died, and I was layin' sick and weak, with
nothin' to do but think of _him_, and me all alone in the world, and not
knowin' how to live without him, because I had nobody left,--that's when
it begun. When the deadly kind o' sleeps came on--they used to think I
was dead, or faintin', at first--and I could go where my heart drawed
me, and look at him away off where he lived, 't was consolin', and I
didn't try to stop it. I used to long for the night, so I could go and
be near him for an hour or two. I don't know how I went: it seemed to
come of itself. After a while I felt I was troublin' him and doin' no
good to myself, but the sleeps came just the same as ever, and then I
couldn't help myself. They're only a sorrow to me now, but I s'pose I
shall have 'em till I'm laid in my grave."

This was all the explanation she could give. It was evidently one of
those mysterious cases of spiritual disease which completely baffle our
reason. Although compelled to accept her statement, I felt incapable of
suggesting any remedy. I could only hope that the abnormal condition
into which she had fallen might speedily wear out her vital energies,
already seriously shattered. She informed me, further, that each attack
was succeeded by great exhaustion, and that she felt herself growing
feebler, from year to year. The immediate result, I suspected, was a
disease of the heart, which might give her the blessing of death sooner
than she hoped. Before taking leave of her, I succeeded in procuring
from her a promise that she would write to Eber Nicholson, giving him
that free forgiveness which would at least ease his conscience, and make
his burden somewhat lighter to bear. Then, feeling that it was not in my
power to do more, I rose to depart. Taking her hand, which lay cold and
passive in mine,--so much like a dead hand that it required a strong
effort in me to repress a nervous shudder,--I said, "Farewell, Rachel
Emmons, and remember that they who seek peace in the right spirit will
always find it at last."

"It won't be many years before I find it", she replied, calmly; and the
weird, supernatural light of her eyes shone upon me for the last time.

I reached New York in due time, and did not fail, sitting around the
broiled oysters and celery, with my partners, to repeat the story of the
Haunted Shanty. I knew, beforehand, how they would receive it; but the
circumstances had taken such hold of my mind,--so _burned_ me, like a
boy's money, to keep buttoned up in the pocket,--that I could no more
help telling the tale than the man I remember reading about, a great
while ago, in a poem called "The Ancient Mariner". Beeson, who, I
suspect, don't believe much of anything, is always apt to carry
his raillery too far; and thenceforth, whenever the drum of a
target-company, marching down Broadway, passed the head of our street,
he would whisper to me, "There comes Rachel Emmons!" until I finally
became angry, and insisted that the subject should never again be
mentioned.

But I none the less recalled it to my mind, from time to time, with
a singular interest. It was the one supernatural, or, at least,
inexplicable experience of my life, and I continued to feel a profound
curiosity with regard to the two principal characters. My slight
endeavor to assist them by such counsel as had suggested itself to me
was actuated by the purest human sympathy, and upon further reflection
I could discover no other means of help. A spiritual disease could be
cured only by spiritual medicine,--unless, indeed, the secret of Rachel
Emmons's mysterious condition lay in some permanent dislocation of the
relation between soul and body, which could terminate only with their
final separation.

With the extension of our business, and the increasing calls upon my
time during my Western journeys, it was three years before I again found
myself in Toledo, with sufficient leisure to repeat my visit. I had
some difficulty in finding the little frame house; for, although it
was unaltered in every respect, a number of stately brick "villas" had
sprung up around it and quite disguised the locality. The door was
opened by the same little black-eyed woman, with the addition of four
artificial teeth, which were altogether too large and loose. They were
attached by plated hooks to her eye-teeth, and moved up and down when
she spoke.

"Is Rachel Emmons at home?" I asked.

The woman stared at me in evident surprise.

"She's dead," said she, at last, and then added,--"let's see,--ain't you
the gentleman that called here, some three or four years ago?"

"Yes", said I, entering the room; "I should like to hear about her
death."

"Well,--_'twas_ rather queer. She was failin' when you was here. After
that she got softer and weaker-like, an' didn't have her deathlike
wearin' sleeps so often, but she went just as fast for all that. The
doctor said 'twas heart-disease, and the nerves was gone, too; so he
only giv' her morphy, and sometimes pills, but he knowed she'd no chance
from the first. 'Twas a year ago last May when she died. She'd been
confined to her bed about a week, but I'd no thought of her goin' so
soon. I was settin' up with her, and 'twas a little past midnight,
maybe. She'd been layin' like dead awhile, an' I was thinkin' I could
snatch a nap before she woke. All't onst she riz right up in bed, with
her eyes wide open, an' her face lookin' real happy, an' called out,
loud and strong,--'Farewell, Eber Nicholson! farewell! I've come for the
last time! There's peace for me in heaven, an' peace for you on earth!
Farewell! farewell!' Then she dropped back on the piller, stone-dead.
She'd expected it, 't seems, and got the doctor to write her will. She
left me this house and lot,--I'm her second cousin on the mother's
side,--but all her money in the Savin's Bank, six hundred and
seventy-nine dollars and a half, to Eber Nicholson. The doctor writ
out to Illinois, an' found he'd gone to Kansas, a year before. So the
money's in bank yit; but I s'pose he'll git it, some time or other."

As I returned to the hotel, conscious of a melancholy pleasure at the
news of her death, I could not help wondering,--"Did he hear that last
farewell, far away in his Kansas cabin? Did he hear it, and fall asleep
with thanksgiving in his heart, and arise in the morning to a liberated
life?" I have never visited Kansas, nor have I ever heard from him
since; but I know that the _living ghost_ which haunted him is laid
forever.

Reader, you will not believe my story: BUT IT IS TRUE.

* * * * *

RHOTRUDA.

In the golden reign of Charlemaign the king,
The three-and-thirtieth year, or thereabout,
Young Eginardus, bred about the court,
(Left mother-naked at a postern-door,)
Had thence by slow degrees ascended up,--
First page, then pensioner, lastly the king's knight
And secretary; yet held these steps for nought,
Save as they led him to the Princess' feet,
Eldest and loveliest of the regal three,
Most gracious, too, and liable to love:
For Bertha was betrothed; and she, the third,
Giselia, would not look upon a man.
So, bending his whole heart unto this end,
He watched and waited, trusting to stir to fire
The indolent interest in those large eyes,
And feel the languid hands beat in his own,
Ere the new spring. And well he played his part,--
Slipping no chance to bribe or brush aside
All that would stand between him and the light:
Making fast foes in sooth, but feeble friends.
But what cared he, who had read of ladies' love,
And how young Launcelot gained his Guenovere,--
A foundling, too, or of uncertain strain?
And when one morning, coming from the bath,
He crossed the Princess on the palace-stair,
And kissed her there in her sweet disarray,
Nor met the death he dreamed of in her eyes,
He knew himself a hero of old romance,--
Not seconding, but surpassing, what had been.

And so they loved; if that tumultuous pain
Be love,--disquietude of deep delight,
And sharpest sadness: nor, though he knew her heart
His very own,--gained on the instant, too,
And like a waterfall that at one leap
Plunges from pines to palms, shattered at once
To wreaths of mist and broken spray-bows bright,--
He loved not less, nor wearied of her smile;
But through the daytime held aloof and strange
His walk; mingling with knightly mirth and game;
Solicitous but to avoid alone
Aught that might make against him in her mind;
Yet strong in this,--that, let the world have end,
He had pledged his own, and held Rhotruda's troth.

But Love, who had led these lovers thus along,
Played them a trick one windy night and cold:
For Eginardus, as his wont had been,
Crossing the quadrangle, and under dark,--
No faint moonshine, nor sign of any star,--
Seeking the Princess' door, such welcome found,
The knight forgot his prudence in his love;
For lying at her feet, her hands in his,
And telling tales of knightship and emprise
And ringing war, while up the smooth white arm
His fingers slid insatiable of touch,
The night grew old: still of the hero-deeds
That he had seen he spoke, and bitter blows
Where all the land seemed driven into dust,
Beneath fair Pavia's wall, where Loup beat down
The Longobard, and Charlemaign laid on,
Cleaving horse and rider; then, for dusty drought
Of the fierce tale, he drew her lips to his,
And silence locked the lovers fast and long,
Till the great bell crashed One into their dream.

The castle-bell! and Eginard not away!
With tremulous haste she led him to the door,
When, lo! the courtyard white with fallen snow,
While clear the night hung over it with stars!
A dozen steps, scarce that, to his own door:
A dozen steps? a gulf impassable!
What to be done? Their secret must not lie
Bare to the sneering eye with the first light;
She could not have his footsteps at her door!
Discovery and destruction were at hand:
And, with the thought, they kissed, and kissed again;
When suddenly the lady, bending, drew
Her lover towards her half-unwillingly,
And on her shoulders fairly took him there,--
Who held his breath to lighten all his weight,--
And lightly carried him the courtyard's length
To his own door; then, like a frightened hare,
Fled back in her own tracks unto her bower,
To pant awhile, and rest that all was safe.

But Charlemaign the king, who had risen by night
To look upon memorials, or at ease
To read and sign an ordinance of the realm,--
The Fanolehen or Cunigosteura
For tithing corn, so to confirm the same
And stamp it with the pommel of his sword,--
Hearing their voices in the court below,
Looked from his window, and beheld the pair.

Angry the king,--yet laughing-half to view
The strangeness and vagary of the feat:
Laughing indeed! with twenty minds to call
From his inner bed-chamber the Forty forth,
Who watched all night beside their monarch's bed,
With naked swords and torches in their hands,
And test this lover's-knot with steel and fire;
But with a thought, "To-morrow yet will serve
To greet these mummers," softly the window closed,
And so went back to his corn-tax again.

But, with the morn, the king a meeting called
Of all his lords, courtiers and kindred too,
And squire and dame,--in the great Audience Hall
Gathered; where sat the king, with the high crown
Upon his brow, beneath a drapery
That fell around him like a cataract,
With flecks of color crossed and cancellate;
And over this, like trees about a stream,
Rich carven-work, heavy with wreath and rose,
Palm and palmirah, fruit and frondage, hung.

And more the high hall held of rare and strange:
For on the king's right hand Leoena bowed
In cloudlike marble, and beside her crouched
The tongueless lioness; on the other side,
And poising this, the second Sappho stood,--
Young Erexcea, with her head discrowned,
The anadema on the horn of her lyre:
And by the walls there hung in sequence long
Merlin himself, and Uterpendragon,
With all their mighty deeds, down to the day
When all the world seemed lost in wreck and rout,
A wrath of crashing steeds and men; and, in
The broken battle fighting hopelessly,
King Arthur, with the ten wounds on his head.

But not to gaze on these appeared the peers.
Stern looked the king, and, when the court was met,--
The lady and her lover in the midst,--
Spoke to his lords, demanding them of this:
"What merits he, the servant of the king,
Forgetful of his place, his trust, his oath,
Who, for his own bad end, to hide his fault,
Makes use of her, a Princess of the realm,
As of a mule,--a beast of burden!--borne
Upon her shoulders through the winter's night
And wind and snow?" "Death!" said the angry lords;
And knight and squire and minion murmured, "Death!"
Not one discordant voice. But Charlemaign--
Though to his foes a circulating sword,
Yet, as a king, mild, gracious, exorable,
Blest in his children too, with but one born
To vex his flesh like an ingrowing nail--
Looked kindly on the trembling pair, and said:
"Yes, Eginardus, well hast thou deserved
Death for this thing; for, hadst thou loved her so,
Thou shouldst have sought her Father's will in this,--
Protector and disposer of his child,--
And asked her hand of him, her lord and thine.
Thy life is forfeit here; but take it, thou!--
Take even two lives for this forfeit one;
And thy fair portress--wed her; honor God,
Love one another, and obey the king."

Thus far the legend; but of Rhotrude's smile,
Or of the lords' applause, as truly they
Would have applauded their first judgment too,
We nothing learn: yet still the story lives,
Shines like a light across those dark old days,
Wonderful glimpse of woman's wit and love,
And worthy to be chronicled with hers
Who to her lover dear threw down her hair,
When all the garden glanced with angry blades;
Or like a picture framed in battle-pikes
And bristling swords, it hangs before our view,--
The palace-court white with the fallen snow,
The good king leaning out into the night,
And Rhotrude bearing Eginard on her back.

GREEK LINES.

[Concluded.]

"As when a ship, by skilful steersman wrought
Nigh river's mouth or foreland, where the
wind
Veers oft, as oft so steers, and shifts her sail,--
So varied he, and of his tortuous train
Curl'd many a wanton wreath in sight of
Eve
To lure her eye."

And Eve, alas! yielded to the blandishments of the wily serpent, as we
moderns, in our Art, have yielded to the licentious, specious life-curve
of Hogarth. When I say Art, I mean that spirit of Art which has made us
rather imitative than creative, has made us hold a too faithful mirror
up to Nature, and has been content to let the great Ideal remain
petrified in the marbles of Greece.

I have endeavored to show how this Ideal may be concentrated in a
certain abstract line, not only of sensuous, but of intellectual
Beauty,--a line which, while it is as wise and subtle as the serpent, is
as harmless and loving as the sacred dove of Venus. I have endeavored
to prove how this line, the gesture of Attic eloquence, expresses the
civilization of Pericles and Plato, of Euripides and Apelles. It is now
proposed briefly to relate how this line was lost, when the politeness
and philosophy, the literature and the Art of Greece were chained to the
triumphal cars of Roman conquerors,--and how it seems to have been found
again in our own day, after slumbering so long in ruined temples, broken
statues, and cinerary urns.

The scholar who studies the aesthetical anatomy of Greek Art has
a melancholy pleasure, like a surgeon, in watching its slow, but
inevitable atrophy under the incubus of Rome. The wise, but childlike
serenity and cheerfulness of soul, so tenderly pictured in the white
stones from the quarries of Pentelicus, had, it is true, a certain
sickly, exoteric life in Magna Graecia, as Pompeii and Herculaneum have
proved to us. But the brutal manhood of Rome overshadowed and tainted
the gentle exotic like a Upas-tree. Where, as in these places,
the imported Greek could have some freedom, it grew up into a dim
resemblance of its ancient purity under other skies. It had, I think,
an elegiac plaintiveness in it, like a song of old liberty sung in
captivity. Yet there was added to it a certain fungus-growth, never
permitted by that far-off Ideal whose seeds were indigenous in the
Peloponnesus, but rather springing from the rank ostentation of Rome. In
its more monumental developments, under these new influences, the true
line of Beauty became gradually vulgarized, and, by degrees, less
intellectual and pure, till its spirit of fine and elegant reserve was
quite lost in a coarse splendor. It must be admitted, however, that the
Greek colonies of Italy expressed not a little of the old refinement
in the lamps and candelabra and vases and _bijouterie_ which we have
exhumed from the ashes of Vesuvius.

But, turning to Rome herself, the most casual examination will impress
us with the fact that there the lovely Greek lines were seized by rude
conquerors, and at once were bent to answer base and brutal uses. To
narrow a broad subject down to an illustration, let us look at a single
feature, the _Cymatium_, as it was understood in Greece and Rome. This
is a moulding of very frequent occurrence in classic entablatures, a
curved surface with a double flexure. Perhaps the type of Greek lines,
as represented in the previous paper on this subject, may be safely
accepted as a fair example of the Greek interpretation of this feature.
The Romans, on the other hand, not being able to understand and
appreciate the delicacy and deep propriety of this line, seized their
compasses, and, without thought or love, mechanically produced a gross
likeness to it by the union of two quarter-circles thus:--

[Illustration:

Greek.

Roman.]

Look upon this picture, and on this!--the one, refined, delicate,
sensitive, fastidious, severe, never repeated; the other, thoughtless,
vulgar, mathematical, common-sense, sensuous, reappearing ever with a
stolid monotony. And such is the sentiment pervading all Roman Art.
The conquerors took the _letter_ from the Greeks, but never had the
slightest feeling for its Ideal. But even this _letter_, when they
transcribed it, writhed and was choked beneath hands which knew better
the iron caestus of the gladiator than the subtile and spiritual touch
of the artist.

We can have no stronger and more convincing proof that Architecture is
the truest record of the various phases of civilization than we find in
this. There was Greek Art, living and beautiful, full of inductive power
and capacities of new expressions; and there were the boundless wealth
and power of Rome. But Rome had her own ideas to enunciate; and so
possessed was she with the impulse to give form to these ideas, to
her ostentatious brutality, her barbarous pride, her licentious
magnificence, that she could not pause to learn calm and serious lessons
from the Greeks who walked her very forums, but, seizing their fair
sanctuaries, she stretched them out to fit her standard; she took the
pure Greek orders to decorate her arches, she piled these orders one
above the other, she bent them around her gigantic circuses, till at
last they had become acclimated and lost all their peculiar refinement,
all their intellectual and dignified humanity. Every moulding, every
capital, every detail was changed. The Romans had neither time nor
inclination to bestow any love or thought on the expressiveness and
tender meaning of subordinate parts. But out of the suggestions and
reminiscences of Greek lines they made a rigid and inflexible grammar of
their own,--a grammar to suit the mailed clang of Roman speech, which,
in its cruel martial strength, sought no refinements, no delicate
inflections from a distant Acropolis. The result was the coarse splendor
of the Empire. How utterly the still Greek Ideal was forgotten in this
noisy splendor, how entirely the chaste spirituality of the Greek line
was lost in the round and lusty curves which are the _inevitable_
footprints of Sensual Life, scarcely needs further amplification. I
have referred to the Ionic capital of the Erechtheum as containing a
microcosm of Attic Art, as presenting a fair epitome of the thought and
love which Hellenic artists offered in the worship of their gods. Turn
now to the Roman Ionic, as developed in any one of the most familiar
examples of it, in the Temple of Concord, near the Via Sacra, in the
Theatre of Marcellus, or the Colosseum. What a contrast! How formal,
mechanical, pattern-like it has become! The grace of its freedom, the
intellectual reserve of its strength, the secret humanity that thrilled
through all its lines, the divine Art which obtained such sweet repose
there,--all these are gone. Quality has yielded to quantity, and nothing
is left save those external characteristics which he who runs may read,
and he who pauses to study finds cold, vacant, and unsatisfactory. What
the Ionic capital of Rome wants, and what all Roman Art wants, is _the
inward life_, the living soul, which gives a peculiar expressiveness
to every individual work, and raises it infinitely above the dangerous
academic formalism of the schools.

In view of our own architecture, that which touches our own experience
and is of us and out of us, the danger of this academic formalism
cannot be too emphatically spoken of. When one carefully examines the
transition from Greek to Roman Art, he cannot but be impressed with the
fact, that the spirit which worked in this transition was the spirit of
a vulgar and greedy conqueror. To illustrate his rude magnificence
and to give a finer glory to his triumph, by right of conquest he
appropriated the Greek orders. But the living soul which was in those
orders, and gave them an infinity of meaning, an ever-varying poetry of
expression, could not be enslaved; nor could the worshipful Love which
created them find a home under the helmet of the soldier. So they became
lifeless; they were at once formally systematized and classified,
subjected to strict proportions and rules, and cast, as it were, in
moulds. This arrangement enabled the conqueror, without waste of time in
that long contemplative stillness out of which alone the beauty of the
true Ideal arises, out of which alone man can create like a god, to
avail himself at once of the Greek orders, not as a sensitive and
delicate means of fine aesthetic expression, but as a mechanical
language of contrasts of form to be used according to the exigencies of
design. The service of Greek Art was perfect freedom; enslaved at Rome,
it became academic. Thus systematized, it is true, it awes us by the
superb redundancy and sumptuousness of its use in the temples and forums
reared by that omnipresent power from Britannia to Baalbec. But the Art
which is systematized is degraded. Emerson somewhere remarks that man
descends to meet his fellows,--meaning, I suppose, that he has to
sacrifice some of the higher instincts of his individuality when he
desires to become social, and to meet his fellows on that low level of
society, which, made up as it is of many individualities, has none of
those secret aspirations which arise out of his own isolation. Society
is a systematic aggregation for the benefit of the multitude, but great
men lift themselves above it into a purer atmosphere. As Longfellow
says, "They rise like towers in the city of God." So with Art,--when we
systematize it for the indiscriminate use of thoughtless and unloving
men, we degrade it. And a singular proof of this is found in the fact
that the Roman academical orders never have anything in them reserved
from the common ken. They are superficial. They say all that they have
to say and express all that they have to express at once, and disturb
the mind with no doubt about any hidden meaning. They are at once
understood. All their intention and purpose are patent to the most
casual observer. He does not pause to inquire what motives actuated the
architect in the composition of any Corinthian capital, because he feels
that it is made according to the dictates of a rigid school created for
the convenience of an unartistic age, and there is no individual love or
aspiration in it.

Virtually, the Roman orders died in the first century of the Christian
era. We all know how, when the authority of the Pagan schools was gone
and the stern Vitruvian laws had become lost in the mists of antiquity,
these orders gradually fell from their strict allegiance, and imbibed a
new and healthy life from that rude but earnest Romanesque spirit, as in
Byzantium and Lombardy. And we know, too, how, in after Gothic times,
the spirit of the forgotten Aphrodite, Ideal Beauty, sometimes
lurked furtively in the image of the Virgin Mary, and inspired the
cathedral-builders with somewhat of the old creative impulse of Love.
But the workings of this impulse are singularly contrasted in the
productions of the Greek and Mediaeval artists. Nature, we have seen,
offered to the former mysterious and oracular Sibylline leaves,
profoundly significant of an indwelling humanity diffused through all
her woods and fields and mountains, all her fountains, streams, and
seas. Those meditative creators sat at her feet, earnest disciples,
but gathering rather the spirit and motive of her gifts than the gifts
themselves, making an Ideal and worshipping it as a deity. But for the
cathedral-builder, Dryads and Hamadryads, Oreads, Fauns, and Naiads did
not exist,--the Oak of Dodona uttered no oracles.

"A primrose by the river's brim
A yellow primrose was to him,
And it was nothing more."

To him Nature was an open book, from which he continually quoted with a
loving freedom, not to illustrate his own deep relationships with her,
but to give greater glory to that vast Power which stood behind her
beautiful text and was revealed to him in the new religion from
Palestine. He loved fruits and flowers and leaves because they were
manifestations of the Love of God; and he used them in his Art, not as
motives out of which to create abstract forms, out of which to eliminate
an ideal humanity, but to show his intense appreciation of the Divine
Love which gave them. Had he been a Pantheist, as Orpheus was, it is
probable he would have idealized these things and created Greek lines.
But believing in a distinct God, the supreme Originator of all things,
he was led to a worship of sacrifice and offerings, and needed no Ideal.
So, with a lavish hand, he appropriated the abundant Beauty of Nature,
imitating its external expressions with his careful chisel, and
suffering his sculptured lines to throw their wayward tendrils and
vagrant leaflets outside the strict limits of his spandrels. The life of
Gothic lines was in their sensuous liberty; the life of Greek lines
was in their intellectual reserve. Those arose out of a religion of
emotional ardor; these, out of a religion of philosophical reflection.
Hence, while the former were wild and picturesque, the latter were
serious, chaste, and very human.

Doubtless the nearest approach to ideal abstractions to be found in
Mediaeval Art is contained in that remarkable and very characteristic
system of foliations and cuspidations in tracery, which were suggested
by the leaf-forms in Nature. In this adaptation, when first it was
initiated in the earliest phases of Gothic, there is something like
Greek Love. The simple trefoil aperture seems a fair architectural
version of the clover-leaves. But the propriety of the use of these
clover-lines was hinted by a constructive exigency, the pointed arch.
The inevitable assimilation of the natural forms of leaves with this
feature was too evident not to be improved by such active and ardent
worshippers as the Freemasons. Thus originated Gothic tracery, which
afterwards branched out into such sumptuous and unrestrained luxury as
we find in the Decorated styles of England, the Flamboyant of France,
the late Geometric of Germany. Thus were the masons true to the zealous
and passionate enthusiasm of their religion. They used foliations, not
on account of their subjective significance, as the Greek artists did,
but on account of their objective and material applicability to the
decoration of their architecture. But no natural form was ever made
use of by a Greek artist merely because suggested by a constructive
exigency. It was the inward life of the thing itself which he saw, and
it was his love for it which made him adopt it. This love refined and
purified its object, and never would have permitted it to grow into any
wild and licentious Flamboyant under the serene and quiet skies of the
Aegean.

And so the Greek lines slept in patient marble through the long Dark
Ages, and no one came to awaken them into beautiful life again. No one,
consecrated Prince by the chrism of Nature, wandered into the old land
to kiss the Sleeping Beauty into life, and break the deep spell which
was around her kingdom.

Then came the Renaissance in the fifteenth century. But--alas that we
must say it!--it was fundamentally a Renaissance of error rather than of
truth. It was a revival of Roman Art, and not of Greek. The line which
we call Hogarth's, but which in reality is as old as human life and its
passions, was the key-note of it all. So wanton were the wreaths it
curled in the sight of the great masters of that period, that they all
yielded to its subtle fascinations and sinned,--sinned, inasmuch as they
devoted their vast powers to the revival and refinement of a sensuous
academic formalism, instead of breathing into all the architectural
forms and systems then known (a glorious material to work with) the pure
life of the Ideal. Had such men as Michel Angelo, San Gallo, Palladio,
Scamozzi, Vignola, San Michele, Bernini, been inspired by the highest
principles of Art, and known the thoughtful lines of Greece, so catholic
to all human moods, and so wisely adapted to the true spirit of
reform,--had they known these, all subsequent Art would have felt the
noble impulse, and been developed into that sphere of perfection
which we see rendering illustrious the primitive posts and lintels of
antiquity, and which we picture to ourselves in the imaginary future of
Hope as glorifying a far wider scope of human knowledge and ingenuity.

The Gothic architecture of the early part of the fifteenth century
was ripe for the spirit of healthy reform. It had been actively
accumulating, during the progress of the age of Christianity, a
boundless wealth of forms, a vast amount of constructive resources, and
material fit for innumerable architectural expressions of human power.
But in the last two centuries of this era the Love which gave life to
this architecture in its earlier developments gradually became swallowed
up in the Pride of the workman; and the luscious and abandoned luxury of
line led it farther and farther astray from the true path, till at last
it became like an unweeded garden run to seed, and there was no health
in it. In the year 1555, at Beauvais, the masonic workmen uttered their
last cry of defiance against the old things made new in Italy. Jean Wast
and Francois Marechal of that town, two cathedral-builders, said,--"that
they had heard of the Church of St. Peter at Rome, and would maintain
that their Gothic could be built as high and on as grand a scale as the
antique orders of this Michel Angelo." And with this spirit they built a
wonderful pyramid over the cross of their cathedral. But, alas! it fell
in the fifth year of its arrogant pride, and this is the last we hear of
Gothic architecture in those times. Over the wild and picturesque ruins
the spirits of the old conquerors of Gaul once more strode with measured
tread, and began to set up their prevailing standards in the very
strongholds of Gothic supremacy. These conquerors trampled down the true
as well as the false in the Mediaeval _regime_, and utterly extinguished
that sole lamp of knowledge which had given light to the Ages of
Darkness and had kindled into life and beauty the cathedrals of Europe.

This was the error of the Renaissance. Its apostles would not recognize
the capacities existing in the great architecture they displaced,
for opening into a new life under the careful culture of a revived
knowledge. But they rooted it out bodily, and planted instead an exotic
of the schools. It was the re-birth of an Art _system_, which in its
former existence had developed in an atmosphere of conquest. It taught
them to kill, burn, and destroy all that opposed the progress of its
triumph. It was eminently revolutionary in its character, and its reign,
to all those multitudinous expressions of life and thought which had
arisen under the intermediate and more liberal dynasty, was one of
terror. Truly, it was a fierce and desolating instrument of reform.

It would be a tempting theme of speculation to follow in the imagination
the probable progress of a Greek, instead of a Roman Renaissance, into
such active, but misguided schools as those of Rouen and Tours in the
latter part of the fifteenth century,--of Rouen, with its Roger Arge,
its brothers Leroux, who built the old and famous Hotel Bourgtheroulde
there, its Pierre de Saulbeaux, and all that legion of architects and
builders who were employed by the Cardinal Amboise in his castle of
Gaillon,--of Tours, with its Pierre Valence, its Francois Marchant, its
Viart and Colin Byart, out of whose rich and picturesque craft-spirit
arose the quaint fancies of the palaces of Blois and Chambord, and the
playfulness of many an old Flemish house-front. Such a Renaissance
would not have come among these venial sins of _naivete_, this sportive
affluence of invention, to overturn ruthlessly and annihilate. Its
mission would inevitably have been, not to destroy, but to fulfil,--to
invest these strange results of human frailty and human power with that
grave ideal beauty which nineteen centuries before had done a good work
with the simple columns and architraves on the banks of the Ilissus, and
which, under the guidance of Love, would have made the arches and vaults
and buttresses and pinnacles of a later civilization illustrious with
even more eloquent expressions of refinement. For Greek lines do not
stand apart from the sympathies of men by any spirit of ceremonious and
exclusive rigor, as is undeniably the case with those which were adopted
from Rome. They are not a _system_, but a _sentiment_, which, wisely
directed, might creep into the heart of any condition of society, and
leaven all its architecture with a purifying and pervading power without
destroying its independence, where an inflexible system could assume a
position only by tyrannous oppression.

Yet when we examine the works of the Renaissance, after the system had
become more manageable and acclimated under later Italian and French
hands, we cannot but admire the skill with which the lightest fancies
and the most various expressions of human contrivance were reconciled to
the formal rules and proportions of the Roman orders. The Renaissance
palaces and civil buildings of the South and West of Europe are so full
of ingenuity, and the irrepressible inventive power of the artist moves
with so much freedom and grace among the stubborn lines of that revived
architecture, that we cannot but regard the results with a sort of
scholastic pride and pleasure. We cannot but ask ourselves, If the
spirit of those architects could obtain so much liberty under the
restrictions of such an unnatural and unnecessary despotism, what would
have been the result, if they had been put in possession of the very
principles of Hellenic Art, instead of these dangerous and complex
models of Rome, which were so far removed from the purity and simplicity
of their origin? Up to a late day, the great aim of the Renaissance has
been to interpret an advanced civilization with the sensuous line; and
_so far as this line is capable of such expression_, the result has been
satisfactory.

Thus four more weary centuries were added to the fruitless slumbers
of Ideal Beauty among the temples of Greece. Meanwhile, in turn, the
Byzantine, the Northman, the Frank, the Turk, and finally the bombarding
Venetian, left their rude invading footprints among her most cherished
haunts, and defiled her very sanctuary with the brutal touch of
barbarous conquest. But the kiss which was to dissolve this enchantment
was one of Love; and not Love, but cold indifference, or even scorn,
was in the hearts of the rude warriors. So she slept on undisturbed in
spirit, though broken and shattered in the external type, and it was
reserved for a distant future to be made beautiful by her disenchantment
and awakening.

In 1672, a pupil of the artist Lebrun, Jacques Carrey, accompanied the
Marquis Ollier de Nointee, ambassador of Louis XIV., to Constantinople.
On his way he spent two months at Athens, making drawings of the
Parthenon, then in an excellent state of preservation. These drawings,
more useful in an archaeological than an artistic point of view, are
now preserved in the Bibliotheque Imperiale of Paris. In 1676, two
distinguished travellers, one a Frenchman, Dr. Spon, the other an
Englishman, Sir George Wheler, tarried at Athens, and gave valuable
testimony, in terms of boundless admiration, to the beauty and splendor
of the temples of the Acropolis and its neighborhood, then quite unknown
to the world. Other travellers followed these pioneers in the traces of
that old civilization. But in 1687 Koenigsmark and his Venetian forces
threw their hideous bombshells among the exquisite temples of the
Acropolis, and, igniting thereby the powder-magazine with which the
Turks had desecrated the Parthenon, tore into ruins that loveliest of
the lovely creations of Hellas. It was not until the publishing of the
famous work of Stuart and Revett on "The Antiquities of Athens," in
1762, that the world was made familiar with the external expressions
of Greek Architecture. This publication at once created a curious
revolution in the practice of architecture,--a revolution extending in
its effects throughout Europe. A fever arose to reproduce Greek temples;
and to such an extent was this vacant and thoughtless reproduction
carried out, that at one time it bid fair to supplant the older
Renaissance. The spirit of the new Renaissance, however, was one of mere
imitation, and had not the elements of life and power to insure its
ultimate success. No attempt was made to acclimate the exotic to suit
the new conditions it was thus suddenly called upon to fulfil; for the
_sentiment_ which actuated it, and the Love with which it was created,
were not understood. It was the mere setting up of old forms in new
places; and the Grecian porticos and pediments and columns, which were
multiplied everywhere from the models supplied by Stuart and Revett,
and found their way profusely into this New World, still stare upon us
gravely with strange alien looks. The impetuous current of modern life
beats impatiently against that cumbrous solidity of peristyle which
sheltered well in its day the serene philosophers of the Agora, but
which is now the merest impediment in the way of modern traffic and
modern necessities. But presently the spirit of formalism, engendered by
the old Renaissance, took hold of the revived Greek lines, and
stiffened them into acquiescence with a base mathematical system, which
effectually deprived them of that life and reproductive power which
belong only to a state of artistic freedom. They were reduced to rule
and deadened in the very process of their revival.

So the Greek Ideal, though strangely transplanted thus into the noise of
modern streets, was not awakened from its long repose by the clatter and
roaring of our new civilization. As regarded the uses of life, it still
slept in petrifactions of Pentelic marble. And when those petrifactions
were repeated in modern quarries, it was merely the shell they gave; the
spirit within had not yet broken through.

Greek lines, therefore, owed their earliest revival to the vagaries of a
capricious taste, and the desire to give zest to the architecture of the
day by their novelty. It was not for the sake of the new life there was
in them, and of that pliable spirit of refinement so suited to the wise
re-birth of ancient Love in Art. It is not surprising that some of the
more modern masters of the old Renaissance, with whom that system had
become venerable, from its universal use as the vehicle by which
the greatest artists of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries had
expressed their thoughts and inspirations, regarded with peculiar
distrust these outlandish innovations on the exclusive walks of their
own architecture. For they saw only a few external forms which the
beautiful principles of Hellenic Art had developed to fit an old
civilization; the applicability of these primary principles to the
refinement of the architectural expressions of a modern state of society
they could not of course comprehend. About the year 1786, we find Sir
William Chambers, the leading architect of his day in England, in his
famous treatise on "The Decorative Part of Civil Architecture," giving
elaborate and emphatic expression to his contempt of that Greek Art,
which had presented itself to him in a guise well suited to cause
misapprehension and error. "It must candidly be confessed," he says,
"that the Grecians have been far excelled by other nations, not only in
the magnitude and grandeur of their structures, but likewise in point of
fancy, ingenuity, variety, and elegant selection." A heresy, indeed!

Two distinguished German artists--the one, Schinkel of Berlin, born in
1781,--the other, Klenze of Munich, born in 1784--were children when
Chambers uttered these treasonable sentiments concerning Greek Art.
Later, at separate times, these artists visited Greece, and so filled
themselves with the feeling and sentiment of the Art there, so
consecrated their souls with the appreciative study of its divine Love,
that the patient Ideal at last awoke from its long slumbers, entered
into the breathing human temples thus prepared for it by the pure rites
of Aphrodite, _and once more lived_. Thus in the opening years of the
nineteenth century was a new and reasonable Renaissance, not of an
antique type, but of a spirit which had the gift of immortal youth, and
uttered oracles of prophecy to these chosen Pythians of Art.

Through Schinkel, the pure Hellenic style, only hinted at previously in
the attempts of less inspired Germans, such as Langhaus, who embodied
his crude conceptions in the once celebrated Brandenburg Gate, was
fairly and grandly revived in the Hauptwache Theatre and the beautiful
Museum and the Bauschule and Observatory of Berlin. He competed with
Klenze in a series of designs for the new palace at Athens, rich with a
truly royal array of courts, corridors, saloons, and colonnades. But the
evil fate which ever hangs over the competitions of genius was baleful
even here, and the barrack-like edifice of Guetner was preferred. His
latest conception was a design of a summer palace at Orianda, in the
Crimea, for the Empress of Russia, where the purity of the old Greek
lines was developed into the poetry of terraces and hanging-gardens and
towers, far-looking over the Black Sea. Schinkel was called the Luther
of Architecture; and the spiritual serenity which he breathed into the
pomp and ceremonious luxury of the Art of his day seems to give him some
title to this distinction. Yet, with all the freedom and originality
with which he wrought out the new advent, he was perhaps rather too
timid than too bold in his reforms,--adhering too strictly to the
original letter of Greek examples, especially with regard to the orders.
He could not entirely shake off the old incubus of Rome.

And so, though in a less degree, with Klenze. When, in 1825, Louis of
Bavaria came to the throne, he was appointed Government Architect, and
in this capacity gave shape to the noble dreams of that monarch, in the
famous Glyptotheque, the Pinacotheque, the palace, and those civil and
ecclesiastical buildings which render Munich one of the most monumental
cities of Europe. It was his confessed aim to take up the work of the
Renaissance artists, having regard to our increased knowledge of that
antique civilization of which the masters of the sixteenth century could
study only the most complex developments, and those models of Rome which
were farthest removed from the pure fountain-head of Greece. "To-day,"
he said, "put in possession of the very principles of Hellenic Art,
we can apply them to all our actual needs,--learning from the Greeks
themselves to preserve our independence, and at the same time to be duly
novel and unrestrained according to circumstances." These are certainly
noble sentiments; and one cannot but wish, that, when, in 1830, Klenze
was called upon to prepare plans for the grand Walhalla of Bavaria, he
had remembered his sublime theory and worked up to its spirit, instead
of recalling the Parthenon in his exterior and the Olympian temple of
Agrigentum in his interior. The last effort of this distinguished artist
was the building of three superb palaces for the museum of the Emperor
at St. Petersburg, finished in 1851.

The seed thus planted fell upon good ground and brought forth a
hundred-fold. Then, throughout Germany, the scholastic formalism of the
old Renaissance began to fall into disrepute, and a finer feeling for
the eloquence of pure lines began to show itself. The strict limitations
of the classic orders were no longer recognized as impassable; a
sentiment of artistic freedom, a consciousness of enlarged resources,
a far wider range of form and expression, were evident in town and
country, in civil and ecclesiastical structures; and with all this
delightful and refreshing liberty was mingled that peculiar refinement
of line which was revived from Greece and was the secret of this change.
It was not over monumental edifices alone that this calm and thoughtful
spirit was breathed, but the most playful fancies of domestic
architecture derived from it an increased grace and purity, and the
study of Love moved over them, elegant and light-footed as Camilla.

"The flower she touched on dipped and rose,
And turned to look at her."

This revival of Hellenic principles is now infusing life into modern
German designs; and so well are these principles beginning to be
understood, that architects do not content themselves with the mere
reproduction of that narrow range of motives which was uttered in the
temples of heroic Greece, but, under these new impulses, they gather in
for their use all that has been done in ancient or modern Italy, in the
Romanesque of Europe, in the Gothic period, in Saracenic or Arabic Art,
in all the expressions of the old Renaissance. By the very necessity
of the Greek line, they are rendered catholic and unexcluding in their
choice of forms, but fastidious and hesitating in their interpretation
of them into this new language of Art. Thus the good work is going on in
Germany, and architecture _lives_ there, thanks to those two illustrious
pilgrims who brought back from the land of epics, not only the
scallop-shells upon their shoulders, but in their hearts the
consecration of Ideal Beauty.

According to the usual custom, in the year 1827, a scholar of the Ecole
des Beaux Arts in Paris, having achieved the distinguished honor of
being named _Grand Pensionnaire_ of Architecture for that year,--was
sent to the Academie Francaise in the Villa Medici at Rome, to pursue
his studies there for five years at the expense of the Government. This
scholar was Henri Labrouste. While in Italy, his attention was directed
to the Greek temples of Paestum. Trained, as he had been, in the
strictest academic architecture of the Renaissance, he was struck by
many points of difference between these temples and the Palladian
formulae which had hitherto held despotic sway over his studies. In
grand and minor proportions, in the disposition of triglyphs in the
frieze, in mouldings and general sentiment, he perceived a remarkable
freedom from the restraints of his school,--a freedom which, so far from
detracting from the grandeur of the architecture, gave to it a degree of
life and refinement which his appreciative eye now sought for in vain
among the approved models of the Academy. Studying these new revelations
with love and veneration, it was not long before the pure Hellenic
spirit, confined in the severe peristyles and cellas of the Paestum
temples, entered into his heart, with all its elastic capacities, all
its secret and mysterious sympathies for the new life which had sprung
up during its long imprisonment in those stained and shattered marbles.
Labrouste, on his return to Paris, in 1830, surprised the grave
professors of the Academy, Le Bas, Baltard, and the rest, by presenting
to them, as the result of his studies, carefully elaborated drawings
of the temples at Paestum. Witnessing, with pious horror, the grave
departures from their rules contained in the drawings of their former
favorite, they charged him with error, even as a copyist. True to their
prejudices, their eyes did not penetrate beyond the outward type, and
they at once began to find technical objections. They told him, never
did such an absurdity occur in classic architecture as a triglyph on a
corner! Palladio and the Italian masters never committed such an obvious
crime against propriety, nor could an instance of it be found in all
Roman antiquities. It was in vain that poor Labrouste upheld the
accuracy of his work, and reminded the Academy that among the Roman
models no instance had been found of a Doric corner,--that this order
occurred only so ruined that no corner was left for examination, or in
the grand circumferences of the Colosseum and the Theatre of Marcellus,
where, from the nature of the case, no corner could be. The professors
still maintained the integrity of their long-established ordinances,
and, to disprove the assertions of the young pretender, even sent
a commission to examine the temples in question. The result was a
confirmation of the fact, the ridicule of Paris, the consequent branding
of the young artist as an architectural heretic, and a continued
persecution of him by the Ecole des Beaux Arts. Undaunted, however,
Labrouste established an _atelier_ in Paris, to which flocked many
intelligent students, sympathizing with the courage which could be
so strong in the conviction of truth as to brave in its defence the
displeasure of the powerful hierarchy of the School.

Thus was founded the new Renaissance in France; and, in this genial
atmosphere, Greek lines began to exercise an influence far more thorough
and healthy than had hitherto been experienced in the whole history of
Art. To the lithe and elegant fancy of the French this Revelation was
especially grateful. For the youth of this nation soon learned that
in these newly opened paths, their invention and sentiment, so long
straitened and confined within the severe limits of the old system,
could move with the utmost freedom, and at the same time be preserved
from licentious excess by the delicate spirit of the new lines. Thus
natural fervor, grace, and fecundity of thought found here a most
welcome outlet.

For some time the designs of the new school were not recognized in the
competitions of the Ecole des Beaux Arts; but when, in the course of
Nature, some two or three of the more strenuous and bigoted professors
of Palladio's golden rules were removed from the scene of contest, the
_Romantique_ (for so the new system had been named) was received at
length into the bosom of the architectural church, and now it may be
justly deemed _the distinctive architectural expression of French Art_.

Labrouste was not alone in his efforts; but Duban and Constant Dufeux
seconded him with genius and energy. Most of the important buildings
which have been erected in France within the last six or eight years
have either been unreservedly and frankly in the new style, or been
refined by more limited applications of Hellenic principles. Even the
revived Mediaeval school, which, under the distinguished leadership of
M. Viollet le Duc and the lamented M. J.B.A. Lassus, has lately been
strengthened to a remarkable degree in France, and which shared with
the _Romantique_ the displeasure of the Academy,--even this has tacitly
acknowledged the power of Greek lines, and instinctively suffered them
to purify, to a certain degree, the old grotesque Gothic license. Most
of the modern buildings of Paris along the new Boulevards, around the
tower of St. Jacques, and wherever else the activity of the Emperor
has made itself felt in the improvements of the French capital, are by
masters or pupils of the _Romantique_ persuasion, and, in their design,
are distinguished by that tenderness of Love and earnestness of Thought
which are the fountains of living Art. One of the most remarkable
peculiarities of this school is, that it brings out of every mind which
studies and builds in it strong traits of individuality; so that every
work appears as if its author had something particular to express in
it,--something to say with especial grace and emphasis. The ordinary
decorations of windows and doors are not made in conventional shapes,
as of yore, but are highly idiosyncratic. The designer had a distinct
thought about this window or that door,--and when he would use his
thought to ornament these features, he idealized it with his Greek lines
to make it architectural, just as a poet attunes his thought to the
harmony and rhythm of verse. Antique prejudices, bent into rigid
conformity with antique rubrics, are often shocked at the strange
innovations of these new Dissenters from the faith of Palladio and
Philibert Delorme,--shocked at the naked humanity in the new works,
and would cover it with the conventional fig-leaves prescribed in the
homilies of Vignola. Laymen, accustomed to the cold architectural
proprieties of the old Renaissance, and habituated to the formalities
of the five orders, the prudish decorum of Italian window-dressings and
pediments and pilasters and scrolls, are apt to be surprised at such
strange dispositions of unprecedented and heretical features, that the
intention of the building in which they occur is at once patent to the
most casual observer, and the story of its destination told with the
eloquence of a poetical and monumental language. All great revolutions
have proved how hard it is to break through the crust of custom, and
this has been no exception to the rule; yet in justice it must be said
that every intelligent mind, every eye possessing the "gifted simplicity
of vision", to use a happy phrase of Hawthorne's, recognizes the truth
and wisdom there are in the blessed renovations of the _Romantique_,
and looks upon them as the sweeps of a besom clearing away the dust
and cobwebs which ages of prejudice have spread thickly around the
magnificent art of architecture.

Unlike the unwieldy and ponderous classic or Italian systems, whose
pride cannot stoop to anything beneath the haughtiest uses of life
without being broken into the whims of the grotesque and _Rococo_, the
_Romantique_ has already exhibited the graceful ease with which it may
be applied to the most playful as well as the most serious employments
of Art. It has decorated the perfumer's shop on the Boulevards with the
most delicate fancies woven out of the odor of flowers and the finest
fabrics of Nature, and, in the hands of Labrouste, has built the great
Bibliotheque Ste. Genevieve, the most important work with pure Greek
lines, and perhaps the most exquisite, while it is one of the most
serious, of modern buildings. The lore of the classics and the knowledge
of the natural world, idealized and harmonized by affectionate study,
are built up in its walls, and, internally and externally, it is a work
of the highest Art. The _Romantique_ has also been used with especial
success in funereal monuments. Structures of this character, demanding
earnestly in their composition the expression of human sentiment, have
hitherto been in most cases unsatisfactory, as they have been built
out of a narrow range of Renaissance, Egyptian and Gothic _motives_,
originally invented for far different purposes, and, since then,
_classified_, as it were, for use, and reduced to that inflexible system
out of which have come the formal restrictions of modern architecture.
Hence these _motives_ have never come near enough to human life, in its
individual characteristics, to be plastic for the expression of those
emotions to which we desire to give the immortality of stone in memory
of departed friends. The _Romantique_, however, confined to no rigid
types of external form, out of its noble freedom is capable of giving
"a local habitation and a name" to a thousand affections which hitherto
have wandered unseen from heart to heart, or been palpable only in words
and gestures which disturb our sympathies for a while and then die.
Probably the most remarkable indication of this capacity, as yet shown,
is contained in a tomb erected by Constant Dufeux in the Cimetiere du
Sud, near Paris, for the late Admiral Dumont d'Urville. This structure
contains in its outlines a symbolic expression of human life, death,
and immortality, and in its details an architectural version of the
character and public services of the distinguished deceased. The finest
and most eloquent resources of color and the chisel are brought to bear
on the work; and the whole, combined by a very sensitive and delicate
feeling for proportion, thus embodies one of the most expressive elegies
ever written. The tomb of Madame Delaroche, _nee_ Vernet, in the
Cimetiere Montmartre, by Duban, is another remarkable instance of this
elastic capacity of Greek lines; and though taken frankly, in its
general form, from a common Gothic type, its chaste and graceful
freedom from Gothic restrictions in detail gives it a life and poetic
expressiveness which must be exceedingly grateful to the Love which
commanded its erection.

Paris thus affords us, in its modern architecture, a happy proof of the
inevitable reforming and refining tendencies of the abstract lines
of Greece, when properly understood and fairly applied. Under their
influence old things have been made new, and the coldness and hardness
of Academic Art have been warmed and softened into life. Through the
agency of the _Romantique_ school, perhaps more new and directly
symbolic architectural expressions have been uttered within the last
four years than within the last four centuries combined. Like the
gestures of pantomime, which constitute an instinctive and universal
language, these abstract lines, coming out of our humanity and rendered
elegant by the idealization of study, are restoring to architecture its
highest capacity of conveying thought in a monumental manner. One of the
most dangerous results of that eclecticism which the advanced state of
our archaeological knowledge has made the principal characteristic
of modern design consists in the fatal facility thus afforded us
of availing ourselves of vast resources of forms and combinations
ready-made to suit almost all the exigencies of composition, as we have
understood it. The public has thus been made so familiar with the set
variations of classic orders and Palladian windows and cornices, with
all manner of Gothic chamfers and cuspidations and foliations, and the
other conventional symbols of architecture, which undeniably have more
of _knowledge_ than _love_ in them,--so accustomed have the people
become to these things, that the great art of which these have been the
only language now almost invariably fails to strike any responsive chord
in the human heart or to do any of that work which it is the peculiar
province of the fine arts to accomplish. Instead of leading the age, it
seems to lag behind it, and to content itself with reflecting into our
eyes the splendor of the sun which has set, instead of facing the east
and foretelling the glory which is coming. Architecture, properly
conceived, should always contain within itself a direct appeal to the
sense of fitness and propriety, the common-sense of mankind, which is
ever ready to recognize reason, whether conveyed by the natural motions
of the mute or the no less natural motions of lines. Now history has
proved to us, as has been shown, how, when the eloquence of these
simple, instinctive lines has been used as the primary element of
design, great eras of Art have arisen, full of the sympathies of
humanity, immortal records of their age. It cannot be denied, on the
other hand, that our eclectic architecture, popularly speaking, is not
comprehended, even by the most intelligent of cultivated people; and
this is plainly because it is based on learning and archeology,
instead of that natural love which scorns the limitations of any other
_authorities and precedents_ than those which can be found in the human
heart, where the true architecture of our time is lying unsuspected,
save in those half-conscious Ideals which yearn for free expression in
Art.

Let our artists turn to Greece, and learn how, in the meditative repose
of that antiquity, these Ideals arose to life beneficent with the
baptism of grace, and became visible in the loveliness of a hundred
temples. Let them there learn how in our own humanity is the essence of
form as a language, and that _to create_, as true artists, we must
know ourselves and our own distinctive capacities for the utterance of
monumental history. After this sublime knowledge comes the necessity
of the knowledge of precedent. The great Past supplies us with the raw
material, with orders, colonnades and arcades, pediments, consoles,
cornices, friezes and architraves, buttresses, battlements, vaults,
pinnacles, arches, lintels, rustications, balustrades, piers, pilasters,
trefoils, and all the innumerable conventionalities of architecture. It
is plainly our duty not to revive and combine these in those cold and
weary changes which constitute modern design, but to make them live and
speak intelligibly to the people through the eloquent modifications of
our own instinctive lines of Life and Beauty.

The riddle of the modern Sphinx is, How to create a new architecture?
and we find the Oedipus who shall solve it concealed in our own hearts.

* * * * *

THE ORDEAL BY BATTLE.

Virginia, which began by volunteering as peacemaker in our civil
troubles, seems likely to end by being their battleground; as Mr.
Pickwick, interfering between the belligerent rival editors, only
brought upon his own head the united concussion of their carpet-bags.
And as Dickens declares that the warriors engaged far more eagerly in
that mimic strife, on discovering that all blows were to be received
by deputy, so there is evidently an increased willingness to deal hard
knocks on both sides, in the present case, so long as it is clear that
only Virginia will take them. Maryland, under protection of our army,
adroitly contrives to shift the scene of action farther South. The Gulf
States, with profuse courtesies for the Old Dominion, consent to shift
it farther North. The Southern Confederacy has talked about
paying Richmond the "compliment" of selecting it for the seat of
government;--as if a bully, about to be lynched in his own house by the
crowd, should compliment his next-door neighbor by climbing in at his
window. It is very pleasant to have a hospitable friend; but it is
counting on his hospitality rather too strongly, when you make choice of
his apartments to be tarred and feathered in.

Thus fades the fancy of an "independent neutrality" for the Old
Dominion. It ought to fade;--for neutrality is a crime, where one's
mother's life is at stake; and the Border theory of independence only
reminds one of Pitt's definition of an independent statesman, "a
statesman not to be depended on". How sad has been the decline of
Virginia! How strange, that in 1790, of the ten American post-offices
yielding more than a thousand dollars annually, that stately old
commonwealth held five! Now "a poverty-stricken State", by confession of
her own newspapers,--beleaguered, blockaded,--with no imports but
hungry and moneyless soldiers, and no exports save fugitives of all
colors,--what has she to hope from the present warfare? Elsewhere riches
have wings; in Virginia they are yet more transitory, having legs. Two
hundred million dollars' worth of her property has become unsalable, if
not worthless, within two months. She has but two great staples: tobacco
to send North, and slaves to send South. The slaves at present go only
to the wrong point of the compass, at rates remunerative to themselves
alone; and the tobacco-trade, for this season, will not even end in
smoke.

But that which is now the condition of Virginia must ultimately be
the condition of the other seceding States. The tide of Secession has
already turned, and such tides never turn twice. The conspirators in
Maryland and Missouri had but one opportunity, and it was lost; with it
also went the whole cause of the Secessionists. For one week the North
shuddered, knowing the defenceless condition of Washington. Now no
Northern man shudders, except those whose Southern female cousins have
not yet found a refuge with the household gods of the eminent Senator
from Texas.

The man who ever doubted that the first gun fired by the insurgents
would instantly unite the nation against them knew as little of the
American people as if he were editor of the London "Times." There is no
chemical solvent like gunpowder. Even the Mexican War, utterly opposed
to the moral convictions of the majority of Northern men, swept them
away in such a current that the very party which opposed it could find
no path to the Presidency but for its chief hero. Had the present
outbreak occurred far less favorably than it has, had the discretion of
President Lincoln been much less, or that of Mr. Davis much greater,
still the unanimity would have been merely a question of time, and
the danger of Washington would have reconciled all minor feuds. The
Democratic party would inevitably have embraced the war, when once
declared; Douglas would have made speeches for it, Buchanan subscribed
money for it, and Butler joined in it; Bennett would still have floated
triumphant on the tide of zeal, and Caleb Cushing still have offered to
the Government his cavalry company of one. It is a grace not given to
any American party, to stand out long against the enthusiasm of a war.

No doubt the Secession leaders have treated us very handsomely, as to
amount of provocation. It is rare that any great contest begins by a
blow so unequivocal as the bombardment of Fort Sumter; and rare in
recent days for any set of belligerents to risk the ignominy of
privateering. But, after all, it is the startling social theories
announced by the new "government" which form the chief strength of its
enemies. Either slavery is essential to a community, or it must be fatal
to it,--there is no middle ground; and the Secessionists have taken one
horn of the dilemma with so delightful a frankness as to leave us no
possible escape from taking the other. Never, in modern days, has there
been a conflict in which the contending principles were so clearly
antagonistic. The most bigoted royal house in Europe never dreamed of
throwing down the gauntlet for the actual ownership of man by man. Even
Russia never fought for serfdom, and Austria has only enslaved nations,
not individuals. In civil wars, especially, all historic divergences
have been trivial compared to ours, so far as concerned the avowed
principles of strife. In the French wars of the Fronde, the only
available motto for anybody was the _Tout arrive en France_, "Anything
may happen in France," which gayly recognized the absurd chaos of the
conflict. In the English civil wars, the contending factions first
disagreed upon a shade more or less of royal prerogative, and it took
years to stereotype the hostility into the solid forms with which we now
associate it. Even at the end of that contest, no one had ventured to
claim such a freedom as our Declaration of Independence asserts, on
the one side,--nor to recognize the possibility of such a barbarism
as Jefferson Davis glorifies, on the other. The more strongly the
Secessionists state their cause, the more glaringly it is seen to differ
from any cause for which any sane person has taken up arms since the
Roman servile wars. Their leaders may be exhibiting very sublime
qualities; all we can say is, as Richardson said of Fielding's heroes,
that their virtues are the vices of a decent man.

We are now going through not merely the severest, but the only danger
which has ever seriously clouded our horizon. The perils which harass
other nations are mostly traditional for us. Apart from slavery,
democratic government is long since _un fait accompli_, a fixed fact,
and the Anglo-American race can no more revert in the direction of
monarchy than of the Saurian epoch. Our geographical position frees us
from foreign disturbance, and there is no really formidable internal
trouble, slavery alone excepted. Let us come out of this conflict
victorious in the field, escaping also the more serious danger of
conquering ourselves by compromise, and the case of free government is
settled past cavil. History may put up her spy-glass, like Wellington at
Waterloo, saying, "The field is won. Let the whole line advance."

There has been a foolish suspicion that the North was strong in
diplomacy and weak in war. The contrary is the case. We are proving
ourselves formidable enough in war to cover our shortcomings in
diplomacy. How narrowly we escaped demoralizing ourselves, at the last
moment before Congress adjourned, by some concession which would have
destroyed our consistency without strengthening our position! If we
could even now bind our generals to imitate our Cabinet in its admirable
and novel policy of silence,--to eschew pen and ink as carefully as if
they were in training for the Presidency! The country is safe so long as
they shut their mouths and open their batteries.

The ordeal by battle is a stern test of the solid power of a nation.
There must always be some great quality to produce great military
superiority,--skill, or daring, or endurance, or numbers, or wealth,
or all together. Except the first two, neither of these special
qualifications has been even claimed by the Secessionists; and these two
have been taken for granted with such superfluous boastfulness as to
yield strong internal evidence against the claim. Certainly their
general strategy, up to this moment, has yielded not a single evidence
of far-sighted judgment or conscious power, while it has shown decided
glimpses of weakness and indecision. Indeed, how can an army like theirs
be strong? Its members mostly unaccustomed to steady exertion or precise
organization; without mechanic skill or invention; without cash or
credit; fettered in their movements by the limited rolling stock of
their scanty railways; tethered to their own homes by the fear of
insurrection;--what element of solid strength have they, to set against
these things? In the present state of the world, strong in peace is
strong in war. In modern times an army of heroes is useless without
facilities for arming, transporting, and feeding it, to say nothing of
the more ignoble circumstance of pay. Considerations of simple political
economy render it almost impossible for a slaveholding army to be strong
collectively, nor do the habits of Southern life usually fit its members
to be strong singly.

In remembering the Battle of New Orleans, we forget that the Southwest
was then a region of hardy pioneers, such as are now rather to be sought
for in Kansas and California. The famous Tennessee riflemen of that day
were not necessarily slaveholders, and their legitimate descendants are
yet to be found among the brave men who rally round the nearest approach
to Andrew Jackson whom the State now boasts,--a tolerable fac-simile
both as to character and etymology,--Andrew Johnson. There is no need of
disparaging the personal courage of any man, and the Southern army has
some good officers,--too good, probably, in spite of themselves, to
bring to bear their clearest judgment and their best energies in
striking down the flag they have all sworn to die for. They have
eminent foreign advisers also, or one at least; for Mr. W.H. Russell,
self-appointed plenipotentiary near the Court of St. Jefferson, is
said to have lent the aid of his valuable military experience to that
commanding officer so appropriately named Captain Bragg. But, Bragg or
no brag, it is almost a moral impossibility that a slaveholding army
should be strong.

The Secessionists have suggested to us a fatal argument. "The superior
race must control the inferior." Very well; if they insist on invoking
the ordeal by battle to decide which is the superior, let it be so. It
will be found that they have made the common mistake of confounding
barbarism with strength. Because the Southern masses are as ignorant of
letters and of arts as the Scottish Highlanders, they infer themselves
to be as warlike. But even the brave and hardy Highlanders proved
powerless against the imperfect military resources of England, a century
ago, and it is not easy to see why those who now parody them should
fare better. The absence of the alphabet does not necessarily prove the
presence of strength, nor is the ignorance of all useful arts the best
preparation for the elaborate warfare of modern times. The nation is
grown well weary of this sham "chivalry," that would sell Bayard or Du
Gueselin at auction, if it could be shown that the mother of either had
a drop of marketable blood in her veins. It had always been charitably
fancied that in South Carolina at least there was some remnant of more
knightly honor, until a kind Providence sent Preston S. Brooks to dispel
the illusion. It may be possible that even a brave man, in some moment
of insane inconsistency, may commit some act which is the consummation
of all cowardice; but it is utterly and absolutely impossible that any
brave community should approve it. Time has long since carried the
perpetrator of that dastardly outrage to a higher tribunal, but nothing
can ever redeem the State of his birth from the crowning shame of its
indorsement.

It is not recorded whether the proverbial English army in Flanders lied
as terribly as they swore; the genius of the nation did not take that
direction. But if they did, they have now met their match in audacity of
falsehood. Captain Bobadil in the play, who submitted a plan of killing
off an army of forty thousand men by the prowess of twenty, each man to
do his twenty _per diem_ in successive single combats, might have raised
his proposed score of heroes among any handful of Secessionists. There
seems to be no one to stop these prodigious fellows as a party of
Buford's men were once checked by their commander, in the writer's
hearing, on their way down the Missouri River, in 1856. "Boys," quoth
the contemptuous official, "you had better shut up. Whenever we came in
sight of the enemy, you always took a vote whether to fight or run,
and you always voted to run." Then the astounding tales they have told
respecting our people, down to the last infamous fabrication of "Booty
and Beauty," as the supposed war-cry for the placid Pennsylvanians!
Booty, forsooth! In the words of the "Richmond Whig," "there is more
rich spoil within a square mile of New York and Philadelphia than can be
found in the whole of the poverty-stricken State of Virginia"; and the
imaginary war-cry suggests Wilkes's joke about the immense plunder
carried off by some freebooter from the complete pillage of seven Scotch
isles: he reembarked with three-and-sixpence.

It might not be wise to claim that the probable lease of life for our
soldiers is any longer than for the Secessionists, but it certainly
looks as if ours would have the credit of dying more modestly. Indeed,
the men of the Free States, as was the wont of their ancestors, have
made up their minds to this fight with a slow reluctance which would
have been almost provoking but for the astonishing promptness which
marked their action when once begun. It is interesting to notice how
clearly the future is sometimes foreseen by foreigners, while still
veiled from the persons most concerned. Thus, twelve years before the
Battle of Bunker's Hill, the Duc de Choiseul predicted and prepared for
the separation of the American colonies from England. One month after
that, the Continental Congress still clung to the belief that they
should escape a division. And so, some seven years ago, the veteran
French advocate Guepin, in a most able essay suggested by the "Burns
affair" in Boston, prophesied civil war in America within ten years.
"_Une grande lutte s'apprete donc_," he wrote; "A great contest is at
hand."

Thus things looked to foreigners, both in 1775 and in 1854, while in
both cases our people were yielding only step by step to the inevitable
current which swept events along. It is the penalty of caution, that it
sometimes appears, even to itself, like irresolution, or timidity. Not a
foolish charge has been brought against Northern energy in this contest,
that was not urged equally in the time of the Revolution. The royal
troops thought Massachusetts as easy to subdue as the South
Carolinians affect to think, and expressed it in almost the same
language:--"Whenever it comes to blows, he that can run the fastest will
think himself best off." The revolutionists admitted that "the people
abroad have too generally got the idea that the Americans are all
cowards and poltroons." A single regiment, it was generally asserted,
could march triumphant through New England. The people took no pains to
deny it. The guard in Boston captured thirteen thousand cartridges at
a stroke. The people did not prevent it. A citizen was tarred and
feathered in the streets by the royal soldiery, while the band played
"Yankee Doodle." The people did not interfere. "John Adams writes, there
is a great spirit in the Congress, and that we must furnish ourselves
with artillery and arms and ammunition, but avoid war, if possible,--if
possible." At last, one day, these deliberate people finally made up
their minds that it was time to rise,--and when they rose, everything
else fell. In less than a year afterwards, Boston being finally
evacuated, one of General Howe's mortified officers wrote home to
England, in words which might form a Complete Letter-Writer for every
army-officer who has turned traitor, from Beauregard downward,--"Bad
times, my dear friend. The displeasure I feel in the small share I have
in our present insignificancy is so great, that I do not know the thing
so desperate I would not undertake, in order to change our situation."

It is fortunate that the impending general contest has also been
recently preceded by a local one, which, though waged under
circumstances far less favorable to the North, yet afforded important
hints by its results. It was worth all the cost of Kansas to have
the lesson she taught, in passing through her ordeal. It was not the
Emigrant Aid Society which gave peace at last to her borders, nor was it
her shifting panorama of evanescent governors; it was the sheer physical
superiority of her Free-State emigrants, after they took up arms. Kansas
afforded the important discovery, as some Southern officers once naively
owned at Lecompton, that "Yankees _would_ fight." Patient to the verge
of humiliation, the settlers rose at last only to achieve a victory so
absurdly rapid that it was almost a new disappointment; the contest was
not so much a series of battles as a succession of steeplechases, of
efforts to get within shot,--Missouri, Virginia, and South Carolina
invariably disappearing over one prairie-swell, precisely as the
Sharp's rifles of the emigrants appeared on the verge of the next. The
slaveholders had immense advantages: many of the settlers were in league
with them to drive out the remainder; they had the General Government
always aiding them, more or less openly, with money, arms, provisions,
horses, men, and leaders; they had always the Missouri border to retreat
upon, and the Missouri River to blockade. Yet they failed so miserably,
that every Kansas boy at last had his story to tell of the company of
ruffians whom he had set scampering by the casual hint that Brown or
Lane was lurking in the bushes. The terror became such a superstition,
that the largest army which ever entered Kansas--three thousand men, by
the admission of both sides--turned back before a redoubt at Lawrence
garrisoned by only two hundred, and retreated over the border without
risking an engagement.

It is idle to say that these wore not fair specimens of Southern
companies. They were composed of precisely the same material as the
flower of the Secession army,--if flower it have. They were members of
the first families, planters' sons and embryo Wigfalls. South Carolina
sent them forth, like the present troops, with toasts and boasts and
everything but money. They had officers of some repute; and they had
enthusiasm with no limit except the supply of whiskey. Slavery was
divine, and Colonel Buford was its prophet. The city of Atchison was
before the dose of 1857 to be made the capital of a Southern republic.
Kansas was to be conquered: "We will make her a Slave State, or form a
chain of locked arms and hearts together, and die in the attempt." Yet
in the end there were no chains, either of flesh or iron,--no chains,
and little dying, but very liberal running away. Thus ended the war in
Kansas. It seems impossible that Slavery should not make in this case a
rather better fight, where all is at stake. But it is well to remember
that no Border Ruffian of Secession can now threaten more loudly, swear
more fiercely, or retreat more rapidly, than his predecessors did then.

One does not hear much lately of that pleasant fiction, so abundant a
year or two ago, that North and South really only needed to visit each
other and become better acquainted. How cordially these endearing words

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