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Etexts from Mosses From An Old Manse by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Part 2 out of 4

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that he was alone, began a critical observation of the plants.

The aspect of one and all of them dissatisfied him; their
gorgeousness seemed fierce, passionate, and even unnatural. There
was hardly an individual shrub which a wanderer, straying by
himself through a forest, would not have been startled to find
growing wild, as if an unearthly face had glared at him out of
the thicket. Several also would have shocked a delicate instinct
by an appearance of artificialness indicating that there had been
such commixture, and, as it were, adultery, of various vegetable
species, that the production was no longer of God's making, but
the monstrous offspring of man's depraved fancy, glowing with
only an evil mockery of beauty. They were probably the result of
experiment, which in one or two cases had succeeded in mingling
plants individually lovely into a compound possessing the
questionable and ominous character that distinguished the whole
growth of the garden. In fine, Giovanni recognized but two or
three plants in the collection, and those of a kind that he well
knew to be poisonous. While busy with these contemplations he
heard the rustling of a silken garment, and, turning, beheld
Beatrice emerging from beneath the sculptured portal.

Giovanni had not considered with himself what should be his
deportment; whether he should apologize for his intrusion into
the garden, or assume that he was there with the privity at
least, if not by the desire, of Dr. Rappaccini or his daughter;
but Beatrice's manner placed him at his ease, though leaving him
still in doubt by what agency he had gained admittance. She came
lightly along the path and met him near the broken fountain.
There was surprise in her face, but brightened by a simple and
kind expression of pleasure.

"You are a connoisseur in flowers, signor," said Beatrice, with a
smile, alluding to the bouquet which he had flung her from the
window. "It is no marvel, therefore, if the sight of my father's
rare collection has tempted you to take a nearer view. If he were
here, he could tell you many strange and interesting facts as to
the nature and habits of these shrubs; for he has spent a
lifetime in such studies, and this garden is his world."

"And yourself, lady," observed Giovanni, "if fame says true,--you
likewise are deeply skilled in the virtues indicated by these
rich blossoms and these spicy perfumes. Would you deign to be my
instructress, I should prove an apter scholar than if taught by
Signor Rappaccini himself."

"Are there such idle rumors?" asked Beatrice, with the music of a
pleasant laugh. "Do people say that I am skilled in my father's
science of plants? What a jest is there! No; though I have grown
up among these flowers, I know no more of them than their hues
and perfume; and sometimes methinks I would fain rid myself of
even that small knowledge. There are many flowers here, and those
not the least brilliant, that shock and offend me when they meet
my eye. But pray, signor, do not believe these stories about my
science. Believe nothing of me save what you see with your own

"And must I believe all that I have seen with my own eyes?" asked
Giovanni, pointedly, while the recollection of former scenes made
him shrink. "No, signora; you demand too little of me. Bid me
believe nothing save what comes from your own lips."

It would appear that Beatrice understood him. There came a deep
flush to her cheek; but she looked full into Giovanni's eyes, and
responded to his gaze of uneasy suspicion with a queenlike

"I do so bid you, signor," she replied. "Forget whatever you may
have fancied in regard to me. If true to the outward senses,
still it may be false in its essence; but the words of Beatrice
Rappaccini's lips are true from the depths of the heart outward.
Those you may believe."

A fervor glowed in her whole aspect and beamed upon Giovanni's
consciousness like the light of truth itself; but while she spoke
there was a fragrance in the atmosphere around her, rich and
delightful, though evanescent, yet which the young man, from an
indefinable reluctance, scarcely dared to draw into his lungs. It
might be the odor of the flowers. Could it be Beatrice's breath
which thus embalmed her words with a strange richness, as if by
steeping them in her heart? A faintness passed like a shadow over
Giovanni and flitted away; he seemed to gaze through the
beautiful girl's eyes into her transparent soul, and felt no more
doubt or fear.

The tinge of passion that had colored Beatrice's manner vanished;
she became gay, and appeared to derive a pure delight from her
communion with the youth not unlike what the maiden of a lonely
island might have felt conversing with a voyager from the
civilized world. Evidently her experience of life had been
confined within the limits of that garden. She talked now about
matters as simple as the daylight or summer clouds, and now asked
questions in reference to the city, or Giovanni's distant home,
his friends, his mother, and his sisters--questions indicating
such seclusion, and such lack of familiarity with modes and
forms, that Giovanni responded as if to an infant. Her spirit
gushed out before him like a fresh rill that was just catching
its first glimpse of the sunlight and wondering at the
reflections of earth and sky which were flung into its bosom.
There came thoughts, too, from a deep source, and fantasies of a
gemlike brilliancy, as if diamonds and rubies sparkled upward
among the bubbles of the fountain. Ever and anon there gleamed
across the young man's mind a sense of wonder that he should be
walking side by side with the being who had so wrought upon his
imagination, whom he had idealized in such hues of terror, in
whom he had positively witnessed such manifestations of dreadful
attributes,--that he should be conversing with Beatrice like a
brother, and should find her so human and so maidenlike. But such
reflections were only momentary; the effect of her character was
too real not to make itself familiar at once.

In this free intercourse they had strayed through the garden, and
now, after many turns among its avenues, were come to the
shattered fountain, beside which grew the magnificent shrub, with
its treasury of glowing blossoms. A fragrance was diffused from
it which Giovanni recognized as identical with that which he had
attributed to Beatrice's breath, but incomparably more powerful.
As her eyes fell upon it, Giovanni beheld her press her hand to
her bosom as if her heart were throbbing suddenly and painfully.

"For the first time in my life," murmured she, addressing the
shrub, "I had forgotten thee."

"I remember, signora," said Giovanni, "that you once promised to
reward me with one of these living gems for the bouquet which I
had the happy boldness to fling to your feet. Permit me now to
pluck it as a memorial of this interview."

He made a step towards the shrub with extended hand; but Beatrice
darted forward, uttering a shriek that went through his heart
like a dagger. She caught his hand and drew it back with the
whole force of her slender figure. Giovanni felt her touch
thrilling through his fibres.

"Touch it not!" exclaimed she, in a voice of agony. "Not for thy
life! It is fatal!"

Then, hiding her face, she fled from him and vanished beneath the
sculptured portal. As Giovanni followed her with his eyes, he
beheld the emaciated figure and pale intelligence of Dr.
Rappaccini, who had been watching the scene, he knew not how
long, within the shadow of the entrance.

No sooner was Guasconti alone in his chamber than the image of
Beatrice came back to his passionate musings, invested with all
the witchery that had been gathering around it ever since his
first glimpse of her, and now likewise imbued with a tender
warmth of girlish womanhood. She was human; her nature was
endowed with all gentle and feminine qualities; she was worthiest
to be worshipped; she was capable, surely, on her part, of the
height and heroism of love. Those tokens which he had hitherto
considered as proofs of a frightful peculiarity in her physical
and moral system were now either forgotten, or, by the subtle
sophistry of passion transmitted into a golden crown of
enchantment, rendering Beatrice the more admirable by so much as
she was the more unique. Whatever had looked ugly was now
beautiful; or, if incapable of such a change, it stole away and
hid itself among those shapeless half ideas which throng the dim
region beyond the daylight of our perfect consciousness. Thus did
he spend the night, nor fell asleep until the dawn had begun to
awake the slumbering flowers in Dr. Rappaccini's garden, whither
Giovanni's dreams doubtless led him. Up rose the sun in his due
season, and, flinging his beams upon the young man's eyelids,
awoke him to a sense of pain. When thoroughly aroused, he became
sensible of a burning and tingling agony in his hand--in his
right hand--the very hand which Beatrice had grasped in her own
when he was on the point of plucking one of the gemlike flowers.
On the back of that hand there was now a purple print like that
of four small fingers, and the likeness of a slender thumb upon
his wrist.

Oh, how stubbornly does love,--or even that cunning semblance of
love which flourishes in the imagination, but strikes no depth of
root into the heart,--how stubbornly does it hold its faith until
the moment comes when it is doomed to vanish into thin mist!
Giovanni wrapped a handkerchief about his hand and wondered what
evil thing had stung him, and soon forgot his pain in a reverie
of Beatrice.

After the first interview, a second was in the inevitable course
of what we call fate. A third; a fourth; and a meeting with
Beatrice in the garden was no longer an incident in Giovanni's
daily life, but the whole space in which he might be said to
live; for the anticipation and memory of that ecstatic hour made
up the remainder. Nor was it otherwise with the daughter of
Rappaccini. She watched for the youth's appearance, and flew to
his side with confidence as unreserved as if they had been
playmates from early infancy--as if they were such playmates
still. If, by any unwonted chance, he failed to come at the
appointed moment, she stood beneath the window and sent up the
rich sweetness of her tones to float around him in his chamber
and echo and reverberate throughout his heart: "Giovanni!
Giovanni! Why tarriest thou? Come down!" And down he hastened
into that Eden of poisonous flowers.

But, with all this intimate familiarity, there was still a
reserve in Beatrice's demeanor, so rigidly and invariably
sustained that the idea of infringing it scarcely occurred to his
imagination. By all appreciable signs, they loved; they had
looked love with eyes that conveyed the holy secret from the
depths of one soul into the depths of the other, as if it were
too sacred to be whispered by the way; they had even spoken love
in those gushes of passion when their spirits darted forth in
articulated breath like tongues of long-hidden flame; and yet
there had been no seal of lips, no clasp of hands, nor any
slightest caress such as love claims and hallows. He had never
touched one of the gleaming ringlets of her hair; her garment--so
marked was the physical barrier between them--had never been
waved against him by a breeze. On the few occasions when Giovanni
had seemed tempted to overstep the limit, Beatrice grew so sad,
so stern, and withal wore such a look of desolate separation,
shuddering at itself, that not a spoken word was requisite to
repel him. At such times he was startled at the horrible
suspicions that rose, monster-like, out of the caverns of his
heart and stared him in the face; his love grew thin and faint as
the morning mist, his doubts alone had substance. But, when
Beatrice's face brightened again after the momentary shadow, she
was transformed at once from the mysterious, questionable being
whom he had watched with so much awe and horror; she was now the
beautiful and unsophisticated girl whom he felt that his spirit
knew with a certainty beyond all other knowledge.

A considerable time had now passed since Giovanni's last meeting
with Baglioni. One morning, however, he was disagreeably
surprised by a visit from the professor, whom he had scarcely
thought of for whole weeks, and would willingly have forgotten
still longer. Given up as he had long been to a pervading
excitement, he could tolerate no companions except upon condition
of their perfect sympathy with his present state of feeling. Such
sympathy was not to be expected from Professor Baglioni.

The visitor chatted carelessly for a few moments about the gossip
of the city and the university, and then took up another topic.

"I have been reading an old classic author lately," said he, "and
met with a story that strangely interested me. Possibly you may
remember it. It is of an Indian prince, who sent a beautiful
woman as a present to Alexander the Great. She was as lovely as
the dawn and gorgeous as the sunset; but what especially
distinguished her was a certain rich perfume in her
breath--richer than a garden of Persian roses. Alexander, as was
natural to a youthful conqueror, fell in love at first sight with
this magnificent stranger; but a certain sage physician,
happening to be present, discovered a terrible secret in regard
to her."

"And what was that?" asked Giovanni, turning his eyes downward to
avoid those of the professor

"That this lovely woman," continued Baglioni, with emphasis, "had
been nourished with poisons from her birth upward, until her
whole nature was so imbued with them that she herself had become
the deadliest poison in existence. Poison was her element of
life. With that rich perfume of her breath she blasted the very
air. Her love would have been poison--her embrace death. Is not
this a marvellous tale?"

"A childish fable," answered Giovanni, nervously starting from
his chair. "I marvel how your worship finds time to read such
nonsense among your graver studies."

"By the by," said the professor, looking uneasily about him,
"what singular fragrance is this in your apartment? Is it the
perfume of your gloves? It is faint, but delicious; and yet,
after all, by no means agreeable. Were I to breathe it long,
methinks it would make me ill. It is like the breath of a flower;
but I see no flowers in the chamber."

"Nor are there any," replied Giovanni, who had turned pale as the
professor spoke; "nor, I think, is there any fragrance except in
your worship's imagination. Odors, being a sort of element
combined of the sensual and the spiritual, are apt to deceive us
in this manner. The recollection of a perfume, the bare idea of
it, may easily be mistaken for a present reality."

"Ay; but my sober imagination does not often play such tricks,"
said Baglioni; "and, were I to fancy any kind of odor, it would
be that of some vile apothecary drug, wherewith my fingers are
likely enough to be imbued. Our worshipful friend Rappaccini, as
I have heard, tinctures his medicaments with odors richer than
those of Araby. Doubtless, likewise, the fair and learned Signora
Beatrice would minister to her patients with draughts as sweet as
a maiden's breath; but woe to him that sips them!"

Giovanni's face evinced many contending emotions. The tone in
which the professor alluded to the pure and lovely daughter of
Rappaccini was a torture to his soul; and yet the intimation of a
view of her character opposite to his own, gave instantaneous
distinctness to a thousand dim suspicions, which now grinned at
him like so many demons. But he strove hard to quell them and to
respond to Baglioni with a true lover's perfect faith.

"Signor professor," said he, "you were my father's friend;
perchance, too, it is your purpose to act a friendly part towards
his son. I would fain feel nothing towards you save respect and
deference; but I pray you to observe, signor, that there is one
subject on which we must not speak. You know not the Signora
Beatrice. You cannot, therefore, estimate the wrong--the
blasphemy, I may even say--that is offered to her character by a
light or injurious word."

"Giovanni! my poor Giovanni!" answered the professor, with a calm
expression of pity, "I know this wretched girl far better than
yourself. You shall hear the truth in respect to the poisoner
Rappaccini and his poisonous daughter; yes, poisonous as she is
beautiful. Listen; for, even should you do violence to my gray
hairs, it shall not silence me. That old fable of the Indian
woman has become a truth by the deep and deadly science of
Rappaccini and in the person of the lovely Beatrice."

Giovanni groaned and hid his face

"Her father," continued Baglioni, "was not restrained by natural
affection from offering up his child in this horrible manner as
the victim of his insane zeal for science; for, let us do him
justice, he is as true a man of science as ever distilled his own
heart in an alembic. What, then, will be your fate? Beyond a
doubt you are selected as the material of some new experiment.
Perhaps the result is to be death; perhaps a fate more awful
still. Rappaccini, with what he calls the interest of science
before his eyes, will hesitate at nothing."

"It is a dream," muttered Giovanni to himself; "surely it is a

"But," resumed the professor, "be of good cheer, son of my
friend. It is not yet too late for the rescue. Possibly we may
even succeed in bringing back this miserable child within the
limits of ordinary nature, from which her father's madness has
estranged her. Behold this little silver vase! It was wrought by
the hands of the renowned Benvenuto Cellini, and is well worthy
to be a love gift to the fairest dame in Italy. But its contents
are invaluable. One little sip of this antidote would have
rendered the most virulent poisons of the Borgias innocuous.
Doubt not that it will be as efficacious against those of
Rappaccini. Bestow the vase, and the precious liquid within it,
on your Beatrice, and hopefully await the result."

Baglioni laid a small, exquisitely wrought silver vial on the
table and withdrew, leaving what he had said to produce its
effect upon the young man's mind.

"We will thwart Rappaccini yet," thought he, chuckling to
himself, as he descended the stairs; "but, let us confess the
truth of him, he is a wonderful man--a wonderful man indeed; a
vile empiric, however, in his practice, and therefore not to be
tolerated by those who respect the good old rules of the medical

Throughout Giovanni's whole acquaintance with Beatrice, he had
occasionally, as we have said, been haunted by dark surmises as
to her character; yet so thoroughly had she made herself felt by
him as a simple, natural, most affectionate, and guileless
creature, that the image now held up by Professor Baglioni looked
as strange and incredible as if it were not in accordance with
his own original conception. True, there were ugly recollections
connected with his first glimpses of the beautiful girl; he could
not quite forget the bouquet that withered in her grasp, and the
insect that perished amid the sunny air, by no ostensible agency
save the fragrance of her breath. These incidents, however,
dissolving in the pure light of her character, had no longer the
efficacy of facts, but were acknowledged as mistaken fantasies,
by whatever testimony of the senses they might appear to be
substantiated. There is something truer and more real than what
we can see with the eyes and touch with the finger. On such
better evidence had Giovanni founded his confidence in Beatrice,
though rather by the necessary force of her high attributes than
by any deep and generous faith on his part. But now his spirit
was incapable of sustaining itself at the height to which the
early enthusiasm of passion had exalted it; he fell down,
grovelling among earthly doubts, and defiled therewith the pure
whiteness of Beatrice's image. Not that he gave her up; he did
but distrust. He resolved to institute some decisive test that
should satisfy him, once for all, whether there were those
dreadful peculiarities in her physical nature which could not be
supposed to exist without some corresponding monstrosity of soul.
His eyes, gazing down afar, might have deceived him as to the
lizard, the insect, and the flowers; but if he could witness, at
the distance of a few paces, the sudden blight of one fresh and
healthful flower in Beatrice's hand, there would be room for no
further question. With this idea he hastened to the florist's and
purchased a bouquet that was still gemmed with the morning

It was now the customary hour of his daily interview with
Beatrice. Before descending into the garden, Giovanni failed not
to look at his figure in the mirror,--a vanity to be expected in
a beautiful young man, yet, as displaying itself at that troubled
and feverish moment, the token of a certain shallowness of
feeling and insincerity of character. He did gaze, however, and
said to himself that his features had never before possessed so
rich a grace, nor his eyes such vivacity, nor his cheeks so warm
a hue of superabundant life.

"At least," thought he, "her poison has not yet insinuated itself
into my system. I am no flower to perish in her grasp."

With that thought he turned his eyes on the bouquet, which he had
never once laid aside from his hand. A thrill of indefinable
horror shot through his frame on perceiving that those dewy
flowers were already beginning to droop; they wore the aspect of
things that had been fresh and lovely yesterday. Giovanni grew
white as marble, and stood motionless before the mirror, staring
at his own reflection there as at the likeness of something
frightful. He remembered Baglioni's remark about the fragrance
that seemed to pervade the chamber. It must have been the poison
in his breath! Then he shuddered--shuddered at himself.
Recovering from his stupor, he began to watch with curious eye a
spider that was busily at work hanging its web from the antique
cornice of the apartment, crossing and recrossing the artful
system of interwoven lines--as vigorous and active a spider as
ever dangled from an old ceiling. Giovanni bent towards the
insect, and emitted a deep, long breath. The spider suddenly
ceased its toil; the web vibrated with a tremor originating in
the body of the small artisan. Again Giovanni sent forth a
breath, deeper, longer, and imbued with a venomous feeling out of
his heart: he knew not whether he were wicked, or only desperate.
The spider made a convulsive gripe with his limbs and hung dead
across the window.

"Accursed! accursed!" muttered Giovanni, addressing himself.
"Hast thou grown so poisonous that this deadly insect perishes by
thy breath?"

At that moment a rich, sweet voice came floating up from the

"Giovanni! Giovanni! It is past the hour! Why tarriest thou? Come

"Yes," muttered Giovanni again. "She is the only being whom my
breath may not slay! Would that it might!"

He rushed down, and in an instant was standing before the bright
and loving eyes of Beatrice. A moment ago his wrath and despair
had been so fierce that he could have desired nothing so much as
to wither her by a glance; but with her actual presence there
came influences which had too real an existence to be at once
shaken off: recollections of the delicate and benign power of her
feminine nature, which had so often enveloped him in a religious
calm; recollections of many a holy and passionate outgush of her
heart, when the pure fountain had been unsealed from its depths
and made visible in its transparency to his mental eye;
recollections which, had Giovanni known how to estimate them,
would have assured him that all this ugly mystery was but an
earthly illusion, and that, whatever mist of evil might seem to
have gathered over her, the real Beatrice was a heavenly angel.
Incapable as he was of such high faith, still her presence had
not utterly lost its magic. Giovanni's rage was quelled into an
aspect of sullen insensibility. Beatrice, with a quick spiritual
sense, immediately felt that there was a gulf of blackness
between them which neither he nor she could pass. They walked on
together, sad and silent, and came thus to the marble fountain
and to its pool of water on the ground, in the midst of which
grew the shrub that bore gem-like blossoms. Giovanni was
affrighted at the eager enjoyment--the appetite, as it were--with
which he found himself inhaling the fragrance of the flowers.

"Beatrice," asked he, abruptly, "whence came this shrub?"

"My father created it," answered she, with simplicity.

"Created it! created it!" repeated Giovanni. "What mean you,

"He is a man fearfully acquainted with the secrets of Nature,"
replied Beatrice; "and, at the hour when I first drew breath,
this plant sprang from the soil, the offspring of his science, of
his intellect, while I was but his earthly child. Approach it
not!" continued she, observing with terror that Giovanni was
drawing nearer to the shrub. "It has qualities that you little
dream of. But I, dearest Giovanni,--I grew up and blossomed with
the plant and was nourished with its breath. It was my sister,
and I loved it with a human affection; for, alas!--hast thou not
suspected it?--there was an awful doom."

Here Giovanni frowned so darkly upon her that Beatrice paused and
trembled. But her faith in his tenderness reassured her, and made
her blush that she had doubted for an instant.

"There was an awful doom," she continued, "the effect of my
father's fatal love of science, which estranged me from all
society of my kind. Until Heaven sent thee, dearest Giovanni, oh,
how lonely was thy poor Beatrice!"

"Was it a hard doom?" asked Giovanni, fixing his eyes upon her.

"Only of late have I known how hard it was," answered she,
tenderly. "Oh, yes; but my heart was torpid, and therefore

Giovanni's rage broke forth from his sullen gloom like a
lightning flash out of a dark cloud.

"Accursed one!" cried he, with venomous scorn and anger. "And,
finding thy solitude wearisome, thou hast severed me likewise
from all the warmth of life and enticed me into thy region of
unspeakable horror!"

"Giovanni!" exclaimed Beatrice, turning her large bright eyes
upon his face. The force of his words had not found its way into
her mind; she was merely thunderstruck.

"Yes, poisonous thing!" repeated Giovanni, beside himself with
passion. "Thou hast done it! Thou hast blasted me! Thou hast
filled my veins with poison! Thou hast made me as hateful, as
ugly, as loathsome and deadly a creature as thyself--a world's
wonder of hideous monstrosity! Now, if our breath be happily as
fatal to ourselves as to all others, let us join our lips in one
kiss of unutterable hatred, and so die!"

"What has befallen me?" murmured Beatrice, with a low moan out of
her heart. "Holy Virgin, pity me, a poor heart-broken child!"

"Thou,--dost thou pray?" cried Giovanni, still with the same
fiendish scorn. "Thy very prayers, as they come from thy lips,
taint the atmosphere with death. Yes, yes; let us pray! Let us to
church and dip our fingers in the holy water at the portal! They
that come after us will perish as by a pestilence! Let us sign
crosses in the air! It will be scattering curses abroad in the
likeness of holy symbols!"

"Giovanni," said Beatrice, calmly, for her grief was beyond
passion, "why dost thou join thyself with me thus in those
terrible words? I, it is true, am the horrible thing thou namest
me. But thou,--what hast thou to do, save with one other shudder
at my hideous misery to go forth out of the garden and mingle
with thy race, and forget there ever crawled on earth such a
monster as poor Beatrice?"

"Dost thou pretend ignorance?" asked Giovanni, scowling upon her.
"Behold! this power have I gained from the pure daughter of

There was a swarm of summer insects flitting through the air in
search of the food promised by the flower odors of the fatal
garden. They circled round Giovanni's head, and were evidently
attracted towards him by the same influence which had drawn them
for an instant within the sphere of several of the shrubs. He
sent forth a breath among them, and smiled bitterly at Beatrice
as at least a score of the insects fell dead upon the ground.

"I see it! I see it!" shrieked Beatrice. "It is my father's fatal
science! No, no, Giovanni; it was not I! Never! never! I dreamed
only to love thee and be with thee a little time, and so to let
thee pass away, leaving but thine image in mine heart; for,
Giovanni, believe it, though my body be nourished with poison, my
spirit is God's creature, and craves love as its daily food. But
my father,--he has united us in this fearful sympathy. Yes; spurn
me, tread upon me, kill me! Oh, what is death after such words as
thine? But it was not I. Not for a world of bliss would I have
done it."

Giovanni's passion had exhausted itself in its outburst from his
lips. There now came across him a sense, mournful, and not
without tenderness, of the intimate and peculiar relationship
between Beatrice and himself. They stood, as it were, in an utter
solitude, which would be made none the less solitary by the
densest throng of human life. Ought not, then, the desert of
humanity around them to press this insulated pair closer
together? If they should be cruel to one another, who was there
to be kind to them? Besides, thought Giovanni, might there not
still be a hope of his returning within the limits of ordinary
nature, and leading Beatrice, the redeemed Beatrice, by the hand?
O, weak, and selfish, and unworthy spirit, that could dream of an
earthly union and earthly happiness as possible, after such deep
love had been so bitterly wronged as was Beatrice's love by
Giovanni's blighting words! No, no; there could be no such hope.
She must pass heavily, with that broken heart, across the borders
of Time--she must bathe her hurts in some fount of paradise, and
forget her grief in the light of immortality, and THERE be well.

But Giovanni did not know it.

"Dear Beatrice," said he, approaching her, while she shrank away
as always at his approach, but now with a different impulse,
"dearest Beatrice, our fate is not yet so desperate. Behold!
there is a medicine, potent, as a wise physician has assured me,
and almost divine in its efficacy. It is composed of ingredients
the most opposite to those by which thy awful father has brought
this calamity upon thee and me. It is distilled of blessed herbs.
Shall we not quaff it together, and thus be purified from evil?"

"Give it me!" said Beatrice, extending her hand to receive the
little silver vial which Giovanni took from his bosom. She added,
with a peculiar emphasis, "I will drink; but do thou await the

She put Baglioni's antidote to her lips; and, at the same moment,
the figure of Rappaccini emerged from the portal and came slowly
towards the marble fountain. As he drew near, the pale man of
science seemed to gaze with a triumphant expression at the
beautiful youth and maiden, as might an artist who should spend
his life in achieving a picture or a group of statuary and
finally be satisfied with his success. He paused; his bent form
grew erect with conscious power; he spread out his hands over
them in the attitude of a father imploring a blessing upon his
children; but those were the same hands that had thrown poison
into the stream of their lives. Giovanni trembled. Beatrice
shuddered nervously, and pressed her hand upon her heart.

"My daughter," said Rappaccini, "thou art no longer lonely in the
world. Pluck one of those precious gems from thy sister shrub and
bid thy bridegroom wear it in his bosom. It will not harm him
now. My science and the sympathy between thee and him have so
wrought within his system that he now stands apart from common
men, as thou dost, daughter of my pride and triumph, from
ordinary women. Pass on, then, through the world, most dear to
one another and dreadful to all besides!"

"My father," said Beatrice, feebly,--and still as she spoke she
kept her hand upon her heart,--"wherefore didst thou inflict this
miserable doom upon thy child?"

"Miserable!" exclaimed Rappaccini. "What mean you, foolish girl?
Dost thou deem it misery to be endowed with marvellous gifts
against which no power nor strength could avail an enemy--misery,
to be able to quell the mightiest with a breath--misery, to be as
terrible as thou art beautiful? Wouldst thou, then, have
preferred the condition of a weak woman, exposed to all evil and
capable of none?"

"I would fain have been loved, not feared," murmured Beatrice,
sinking down upon the ground. "But now it matters not. I am
going, father, where the evil which thou hast striven to mingle
with my being will pass away like a dream-like the fragrance of
these poisonous flowers, which will no longer taint my breath
among the flowers of Eden. Farewell, Giovanni! Thy words of
hatred are like lead within my heart; but they, too, will fall
away as I ascend. Oh, was there not, from the first, more poison
in thy nature than in mine?"

To Beatrice,--so radically had her earthly part been wrought upon
by Rappaccini's skill,--as poison had been life, so the powerful
antidote was death; and thus the poor victim of man's ingenuity
and of thwarted nature, and of the fatality that attends all such
efforts of perverted wisdom, perished there, at the feet of her
father and Giovanni. Just at that moment Professor Pietro
Baglioni looked forth from the window, and called loudly, in a
tone of triumph mixed with horror, to the thunderstricken man of
science,"Rappaccini! Rappaccini! and is THIS the upshot of your


It makes me melancholy to see how like fools some very sensible
people act in the matter of choosing wives. They perplex their
judgments by a most undue attention to little niceties of
personal appearance, habits, disposition, and other trifles which
concern nobody but the lady herself. An unhappy gentleman,
resolving to wed nothing short of perfection, keeps his heart and
hand till both get so old and withered that no tolerable woman
will accept them. Now this is the very height of absurdity. A
kind Providence has so skilfully adapted sex to sex and the mass
of individuals to each other, that, with certain obvious
exceptions, any male and female may be moderately happy in the
married state. The true rule is to ascertain that the match is
fundamentally a good one, and then to take it for granted that
all minor objections, should there be such, will vanish, if you
let them alone. Only put yourself beyond hazard as to the real
basis of matrimonial bliss, and it is scarcely to be imagined
what miracles, in the way of recognizing smaller incongruities,
connubial love will effect.

For my own part I freely confess that, in my bachelorship, I was
precisely such an over-curious simpleton as I now advise the
reader not to be. My early habits had gifted me with a feminine
sensibility and too exquisite refinement. I was the accomplished
graduate of a dry goods store, where, by dint of ministering to
the whims of fine ladies, and suiting silken hose to delicate
limbs, and handling satins, ribbons, chintzes calicoes, tapes,
gauze, and cambric needles, I grew up a very ladylike sort of a
gentleman. It is not assuming too much to affirm that the ladies
themselves were hardly so ladylike as Thomas Bullfrog. So
painfully acute was my sense of female imperfection, and such
varied excellence did I require in the woman whom I could love,
that there was an awful risk of my getting no wife at all, or of
being driven to perpetrate matrimony with my own image in the
looking-glass. Besides the fundamental principle already hinted
at, I demanded the fresh bloom of youth, pearly teeth, glossy
ringlets, and the whole list of lovely items, with the utmost
delicacy of habits and sentiments, a silken texture of mind, and,
above all, a virgin heart. In a word, if a young angel just from
paradise, yet dressed in earthly fashion, had come and offered me
her hand, it is by no means certain that I should have taken it.
There was every chance of my becoming a most miserable old
bachelor, when, by the best luck in the world, I made a journey
into another state, and was smitten by, and smote again, and
wooed, won, and married, the present Mrs. Bullfrog, all in the
space of a fortnight. Owing to these extempore measures, I not
only gave my bride credit for certain perfections which have not
as yet come to light, but also overlooked a few trifling defects,
which, however, glimmered on my perception long before the close
of the honeymoon. Yet, as there was no mistake about the
fundamental principle aforesaid, I soon learned, as will be
seen, to estimate Mrs. Bullfrog's deficiencies and superfluities
at exactly their proper value.

The same morning that Mrs. Bullfrog and I came together as a
unit, we took two seats in the stage-coach and began our journey
towards my place of business. There being no other passengers, we
were as much alone and as free to give vent to our raptures as if
I had hired a hack for the matrimonial jaunt. My bride looked
charmingly in a green silk calash and riding habit of pelisse
cloth; and whenever her red lips parted with a smile, each tooth
appeared like an inestimable pearl. Such was my passionate warmth
that--we had rattled out of the village, gentle reader, and were
lonely as Adam and Eve in paradise--I plead guilty to no less
freedom than a kiss. The gentle eye of Mrs. Bullfrog scarcely
rebuked me for the profanation. Emboldened by her indulgence, I
threw back the calash from her polished brow, and suffered my
fingers, white and delicate as her own, to stray among those dark
and glossy curls which realized my daydreams of rich hair.

"My love," said Mrs. Bullfrog tenderly, "you will disarrange my

"Oh, no, my sweet Laura!" replied I, still playing with the
glossy ringlet. "Even your fair hand could not manage a curl more
delicately than mine. I propose myself the pleasure of doing up
your hair in papers every evening at the same time with my own."

"Mr. Bullfrog," repeated she, "you must not disarrange my curls."

This was spoken in a more decided tone than I had happened to
hear, until then, from my gentlest of all gentle brides. At the
same time she put up her hand and took mine prisoner; but merely
drew it away from the forbidden ringlet, and then immediately
released it. Now, I am a fidgety little man, and always love to
have something in my fingers; so that, being debarred from my
wife's curls, I looked about me for any other plaything. On the
front seat of the coach there was one of those small baskets in
which travelling ladies who are too delicate to appear at a
public table generally carry a supply of gingerbread, biscuits
and cheese, cold ham, and other light refreshments, merely to
sustain nature to the journey's end. Such airy diet will
sometimes keep them in pretty good flesh for a week together.
Laying hold of this same little basket, I thrust my hand under
the newspaper with which it was carefully covered.

"What's this, my dear?" cried I; for the black neck of a bottle
had popped out of the basket.

"A bottle of Kalydor, Mr. Bullfrog," said my wife, coolly taking
the basket from my hands and replacing it on the front seat.

There was no possibility of doubting my wife's word; but I never
knew genuine Kalydor, such as I use for my own complexion, to
smell so much like cherry brandy. I was about to express my fears
that the lotion would injure her skin, when an accident occurred
which threatened more than a skin-deep injury. Our Jehu had
carelessly driven over a heap of gravel and fairly capsized the
coach, with the wheels in the air and our heels where our heads
should have been. What became of my wits I cannot imagine; they
have always had a perverse trick of deserting me just when they
were most needed; but so it chanced, that in the confusion of our
overthrow I quite forgot that there was a Mrs. Bullfrog in the
world. Like many men's wives, the good lady served her husband as
a steppingstone. I had scrambled out of the coach and was
instinctively settling my cravat, when somebody brushed roughly
by me, and I heard a smart thwack upon the coachman's ear.

"Take that, you villain!" cried a strange, hoarse voice. "You
have ruined me, you blackguard! I shall never be the woman I have

And then came a second thwack, aimed at the driver's other ear;
but which missed it, and hit him on the nose, causing a terrible
effusion of blood. Now, who or what fearful apparition was
inflicting this punishment on the poor fellow remained an
impenetrable mystery to me. The blows were given by a person of
grisly aspect, with a head almost bald, and sunken cheeks,
apparently of the feminine gender, though hardly to be classed in
the gentler sex. There being no teeth to modulate the voice, it
had a mumbled fierceness, not passionate, but stern, which
absolutely made me quiver like calf's-foot jelly. Who could the
phantom be? The most awful circumstance of the affair is yet to
be told: for this ogre, or whatever it was, had a riding habit
like Mrs. Bullfrog's, and also a green silk calash dangling down
her back by the strings. In my terror and turmoil of mind I could
imagine nothing less than that the Old Nick, at the moment of our
overturn, had annihilated my wife and jumped into her petticoats.
This idea seemed the most probable, since I could nowhere
perceive Mrs. Bullfrog alive, nor, though I looked very sharply
about the coach, could I detect any traces of that beloved
woman's dead body. There would have been a comfort in giving her
Christian burial.

"Come, sir, bestir yourself! Help this rascal to set up the
coach," sai the hobgoblin to me; then, with a terrific screech at
three countrymen at a distance, "Here, you fellows, ain't you
ashamed to stand off when a poor woman is in distress?"

The countrymen, instead of fleeing for their lives, came running
at full speed, and laid hold of the topsy-turvy coach. I, also,
though a small-sized man, went to work like a son of Anak. The
coachman, too, with the blood still streaming from his nose,
tugged and toiled most manfully, dreading, doubtless, that the
next blow might break his head. And yet, bemauled as the poor
fellow had been, he seemed to glance at me with an eye of pity,
as if my case were more deplorable than his. But I cherished a
hope that all would turn out a dream, and seized the opportunity,
as we raised the coach, to jam two of my fingers under the wheel,
trusting that the pain would awaken me.

"Why, here we are, all to rights again!" exclaimed a sweet voice
behind. "Thank you for your assistance, gentlemen. My dear Mr.
Bullfrog, how you perspire! Do let me wipe your face. Don't take
this little accident too much to heart, good driver. We ought to
be thankful that none of our necks are broken."

"We might have spared one neck out of the three," muttered the
driver, rubbing his ear and pulling his nose, to ascertain
whether he had been cuffed or not. "Why, the woman's a witch!"

I fear that the reader will not believe, yet it is positively a
fact, that there stood Mrs. Bullfrog, with her glossy ringlets
curling on her brow, and two rows of orient pearls gleaming
between her parted lips, which wore a most angelic smile. She had
regained her riding habit and calash from the grisly phantom, and
was, in all respects, the lovely woman who had been sitting by my
side at the instant of our overturn. How she had happened to
disappear, and who had supplied her place, and whence she did now
return, were problems too knotty for me to solve. There stood my
wife. That was the one thing certain among a heap of mysteries.
Nothing remained but to help her into the coach, and plod on,
through the journey of the day and the journey of life, as
comfortably as we could. As the driver closed the door upon us, I
heard him whisper to the three countrymen,"How do you suppose a
fellow feels shut up in the cage with a she tiger?"

Of course this query could have no reference to my situation.
Yet, unreasonable as it may appear, I confess that my feelings
were not altogether so ecstatic as when I first called Mrs.
Bullfrog mine. True, she was a sweet woman and an angel of a
wife; but what if a Gorgon should return, amid the transports of
our connubial bliss, and take the angel's place. I recollected
the tale of a fairy, who half the time was a beautiful woman and
half the time a hideous monster. Had I taken that very fairy to
be the wife of my bosom? While such whims and chimeras were
flitting across my fancy I began to look askance at Mrs.
Bullfrog, almost expecting that the transformation would be
wrought before my eyes.

To divert my mind, I took up the newspaper which had covered the
little basket of refreshments, and which now lay at the bottom of
the coach, blushing with a deep-red stain and emitting a potent
spirituous fume from the contents of the broken bottle of
Kalydor. The paper was two or three years old, but contained an
article of several columns, in which I soon grew wonderfully
interested. It was the report of a trial for breach of promise of
marriage, giving the testimony in full, with fervid extracts from
both the gentleman's and lady's amatory correspondence. The
deserted damsel had personally appeared in court, and had borne
energetic evidence to her lover's perfidy and the strength of her
blighted affections. On the defendant's part there had been an
attempt, though insufficiently sustained, to blast the
plaintiff's character, and a plea, in mitigation of damages, on
account of her unamiable temper. A horrible idea was suggested by
the lady's name.

"Madam," said I, holding the newspaper before Mrs. Bullfrog's
eyes,--and, though a small, delicate, and thin-visaged man, I
feel assured that I looked very terrific,--"madam," repeated I,
through my shut teeth, "were you the plaintiff in this cause?"

"Oh, my dear Mr. Bullfrog," replied my wife, sweetly, "I thought
all the world knew that!"

"Horror! horror!" exclaimed I, sinking back on the seat.

Covering my face with both hands, I emitted a deep and deathlike
groan, as if my tormented soul were rending me asunder--I, the
most exquisitely fastidious of men, and whose wife was to have
been the most delicate and refined of women, with all the fresh
dew-drops glittering on her virgin rosebud of a heart!

I thought of the glossy ringlets and pearly teeth; I thought of
the Kalydor; I thought of the coachman's bruised ear and bloody
nose; I thought of the tender love secrets which she had
whispered to the judge and jury and a thousand tittering
auditors,--and gave another groan!

"Mr. Bullfrog," said my wife.

As I made no reply, she gently took my hands within her own,
removed them from my face, and fixed her eyes steadfastly on

"Mr. Bullfrog," said she, not unkindly, yet with all the decision
of her strong character, "let me advise you to overcome this
foolish weakness, and prove yourself, to the best of your
ability, as good a husband as I will be a wife. You have
discovered, perhaps, some little imperfections in your bride.
Well, what did you expect? Women are not angels. If they were,
they would go to heaven for husbands; or, at least, be more
difficult in their choice on earth."

"But why conceal those imperfections?" interposed I, tremulously.

"Now, my love, are not you a most unreasonable little man?" said
Mrs. Bullfrog, patting me on the cheek. "Ought a woman to
disclose her frailties earlier than the wedding day? Few
husbands, I assure you, make the discovery in such good season,
and still fewer complain that these trifles are concealed too
long. Well, what a strange man you are! Poh! you are joking."

"But the suit for breach of promise!" groaned I.

"Ah, and is that the rub?" exclaimed my wife. "Is it possible
that you view that affair in an objectionable light? Mr.
Bullfrog, I never could have dreamed it! Is it an objection that
I have triumphantly defended myself against slander and
vindicated my purity in a court of justice? Or do you complain
because your wife has shown the proper spirit of a woman, and
punished the villain who trifled with her affections?"

"But," persisted I, shrinking into a corner of the coach,
however,--for I did not know precisely how much contradiction the
proper spirit of a woman would endure,--"but, my love, would it
not have been more dignified to treat the villain with the silent
contempt he merited?"

"That is all very well, Mr. Bullfrog," said my wife, slyly; "but,
in that case, where would have been the five thousand dollars
which are to stock your dry goods store?"

"Mrs. Bullfrog, upon your honor," demanded I, as if my life hung
upon her words, "is there no mistake about those five thousand

"Upon my word and honor there is none," replied she. "The jury
gave me every cent the rascal had; and I have kept it all for my
dear Bullfrog."

"Then, thou dear woman," cried I, with an overwhelming gush of
tenderness, "let me fold thee to my heart. The basis of
matrimonial bliss is secure, and all thy little defects and
frailties are forgiven. Nay, since the result has been so
fortunate, I rejoice at the wrongs which drove thee to this
blessed lawsuit. Happy Bullfrog that I am!"


Not a great while ago, passing through the gate of dreams, I
visited that region of the earth in which lies the famous City of
Destruction. It interested me much to learn that by the public
spirit of some of the inhabitants a railroad has recently been
established between this populous and flourishing town and the
Celestial City. Having a little time upon my hands, I resolved to
gratify a liberal curiosity by making a trip thither.
Accordingly, one fine morning after paying my bill at the hotel,
and directing the porter to stow my luggage behind a coach, I
took my seat in the vehicle and set out for the station-house. It
was my good fortune to enjoy the company of a gentleman--one Mr.
Smooth-it-away--who, though he had never actually visited the
Celestial City, yet seemed as well acquainted with its laws,
customs, policy, and statistics, as with those of the City of
Destruction, of which he was a native townsman. Being, moreover,
a director of the railroad corporation and one of its largest
stockholders, he had it in his power to give me all desirable
information respecting that praiseworthy enterprise.

Our coach rattled out of the city, and at a short distance from
its outskirts passed over a bridge of elegant construction, but
somewhat too slight, as I imagined, to sustain any considerable
weight. On both sides lay an extensive quagmire, which could not
have been more disagreeable either to sight or smell, had all the
kennels of the earth emptied their pollution there.

"This," remarked Mr. Smooth-it-away, "is the famous Slough of
Despond--a disgrace to all the neighborhood; and the greater that
it might so easily be converted into firm ground."

"I have understood," said I, "that efforts have been made for
that purpose from time immemorial. Bunyan mentions that above
twenty thousand cartloads of wholesome instructions had been
thrown in here without effect."

"Very probably! And what effect could be anticipated from such
unsubstantial stuff?" cried Mr. Smooth-it-away. "You observe this
convenient bridge. We obtained a sufficient foundation for it by
throwing into the slough some editions of books of morality,
volumes of French philosophy and German rationalism; tracts,
sermons, and essays of modern clergymen; extracts from Plato,
Confucius, and various Hindoo sages together with a few ingenious
commentaries upon texts of Scripture,--all of which by some
scientific process, have been converted into a mass like granite.
The whole bog might be filled up with similar matter."

It really seemed to me, however, that the bridge vibrated and
heaved up and down in a very formidable manner; and, in spite of
Mr. Smooth-it-away's testimony to the solidity of its foundation,
I should be loath to cross it in a crowded omnibus, especially if
each passenger were encumbered with as heavy luggage as that
gentleman and myself. Nevertheless we got over without accident,
and soon found ourselves at the stationhouse. This very neat and
spacious edifice is erected on the site of the little wicket
gate, which formerly, as all old pilgrims will recollect, stood
directly across the highway, and, by its inconvenient narrowness,
was a great obstruction to the traveller of liberal mind and
expansive stomach The reader of John Bunyan will be glad to know
that Christian's old friend Evangelist, who was accustomed to
supply each pilgrim with a mystic roll, now presides at the
ticket office. Some malicious persons it is true deny the
identity of this reputable character with the Evangelist of old
times, and even pretend to bring competent evidence of an
imposture. Without involving myself in a dispute I shall merely
observe that, so far as my experience goes, the square pieces of
pasteboard now delivered to passengers are much more convenient
and useful along the road than the antique roll of parchment.
Whether they will be as readily received at the gate of the
Celestial City I decline giving an opinion.

A large number of passengers were already at the station-house
awaiting the departure of the cars. By the aspect and demeanor of
these persons it was easy to judge that the feelings of the
community had undergone a very favorable change in reference to
the celestial pilgrimage. It would have done Bunyan's heart good
to see it. Instead of a lonely and ragged man with a huge burden
on his back, plodding along sorrowfully on foot while the whole
city hooted after him, here were parties of the first gentry and
most respectable people in the neighborhood setting forth towards
the Celestial City as cheerfully as if the pilgrimage were merely
a summer tour. Among the gentlemen were characters of deserved
eminence--magistrates, politicians, and men of wealth, by whose
example religion could not but be greatly recommended to their
meaner brethren. In the ladies' apartment, too, I rejoiced to
distinguish some of those flowers of fashionable society who are
so well fitted to adorn the most elevated circles of the
Celestial City. There was much pleasant conversation about the
news of the day, topics of business and politics, or the lighter
matters of amusement; while religion, though indubitably the main
thing at heart, was thrown tastefully into the background. Even
an infidel would have heard little or nothing to shock his

One great convenience of the new method of going on pilgrimage I
must not forget to mention. Our enormous burdens, instead of
being carried on our shoulders as had been the custom of old,
were all snugly deposited in the baggage car, and, as I was
assured, would be delivered to their respective owners at the
journey's end. Another thing, likewise, the benevolent reader
will be delighted to understand. It may be remembered that there
was an ancient feud between Prince Beelzebub and the keeper of
the wicket gate, and that the adherents of the former
distinguished personage were accustomed to shoot deadly arrows at
honest pilgrims while knocking at the door. This dispute, much to
the credit as well of the illustrious potentate above mentioned
as of the worthy and enlightened directors of the railroad, has
been pacifically arranged on the principle of mutual compromise.
The prince's subjects are now pretty numerously employed about
the station-house, some in taking care of the baggage, others in
collecting fuel, feeding the engines, and such congenial
occupations; and I can conscientiously affirm that persons more
attentive to their business, more willing to accommodate, or more
generally agreeable to the passengers, are not to be found on any
railroad. Every good heart must surely exult at so satisfactory
an arrangement of an immemorial difficulty.

"Where is Mr. Greatheart?" inquired I. "Beyond a doubt the
directors have engaged that famous old champion to be chief
conductor on the railroad?"

"Why, no," said Mr. Smooth-it-away, with a dry cough. "He was
offered the situation of brakeman; but, to tell you the truth,
our friend Greatheart has grown preposterously stiff and narrow
in his old age. He has so often guided pilgrims over the road on
foot that he considers it a sin to travel in any other fashion.
Besides, the old fellow had entered so heartily into the ancient
feud with Prince Beelzebub that he would have been perpetually at
blows or ill language with some of the prince's subjects, and
thus have embroiled us anew. So, on the whole, we were not sorry
when honest Greatheart went off to the Celestial City in a huff
and left us at liberty to choose a more suitable and
accommodating man. Yonder comes the engineer of the train. You
will probably recognize him at once."

The engine at this moment took its station in advance of the
cars, looking, I must confess, much more like a sort of
mechanical demon that would hurry us to the infernal regions than
a laudable contrivance for smoothing our way to the Celestial
City. On its top sat a personage almost enveloped in smoke and
flame, which, not to startle the reader, appeared to gush from
his own mouth and stomach as well as from the engine's brazen

"Do my eyes deceive me?" cried I. "What on earth is this! A
living creature? If so, he is own brother to the engine he rides

"Poh, poh, you are obtuse!" said Mr. Smooth-it-away, with a
hearty laugh. "Don't you know Apollyon, Christian's old enemy,
with whom he fought so fierce a battle in the Valley of
Humiliation? He was the very fellow to manage the engine; and so
we have reconciled him to the custom of going on pilgrimage, and
engaged him as chief engineer."

"Bravo, bravo!" exclaimed I, with irrepressible enthusiasm; "this
shows the liberality of the age; this proves, if anything can,
that all musty prejudices are in a fair way to be obliterated.
And how will Christian rejoice to hear of this happy
transformation of his old antagonist! I promise myself great
pleasure in informing him of it when we reach the Celestial

The passengers being all comfortably seated, we now rattled away
merrily, accomplishing a greater distance in ten minutes than
Christian probably trudged over in a day. It was laughable, while
we glanced along, as it were, at the tail of a thunderbolt, to
observe two dusty foot travellers in the old pilgrim guise, with
cockle shell and staff, their mystic rolls of parchment in their
hands and their intolerable burdens on their backs. The
preposterous obstinacy of these honest people in persisting to
groan and stumble along the difficult pathway rather than take
advantage of modern improvements, excited great mirth among our
wiser brotherhood. We greeted the two pilgrims with many pleasant
gibes and a roar of laughter; whereupon they gazed at us with
such woful and absurdly compassionate visages that our merriment
grew tenfold more obstreperous. Apollyon also entered heartily
into the fun, and contrived to flirt the smoke and flame of the
engine, or of his own breath, into their faces, and envelop them
in an atmosphere of scalding steam. These little practical jokes
amused us mightily, and doubtless afforded the pilgrims the
gratification of considering themselves martyrs.

At some distance from the railroad Mr. Smooth-it-away pointed to
a large, antique edifice, which, he observed, was a tavern of
long standing, and had formerly been a noted stopping-place for
pilgrims. In Bunyan's road-book it is mentioned as the
Interpreter's House.

"I have long had a curiosity to visit that old mansion," remarked

"It is not one of our stations, as you perceive," said my
companion "The keeper was violently opposed to the railroad; and
well he might be, as the track left his house of entertainment on
one side, and thus was pretty certain to deprive him of all his
reputable customers. But the footpath still passes his door, and
the old gentleman now and then receives a call from some simple
traveller, and entertains him with fare as old-fashioned as

Before our talk on this subject came to a conclusion we were
rushing by the place where Christian's burden fell from his
shoulders at the sight of the Cross. This served as a theme for
Mr. Smooth-it-away, Mr. Livefor-the-world, Mr.
Hide-sin-in-the-heart, Mr. Scaly-conscience, and a knot of
gentlemen from the town of Shun-repentance, to descant upon the
inestimable advantages resulting from the safety of our baggage.
Myself, and all the passengers indeed, joined with great
unanimity in this view of the matter; for our burdens were rich
in many things esteemed precious throughout the world; and,
especially, we each of us possessed a great variety of favorite
Habits, which we trusted would not be out of fashion even in the
polite circles of the Celestial City. It would have been a sad
spectacle to see such an assortment of valuable articles tumbling
into the sepulchre. Thus pleasantly conversing on the favorable
circumstances of our position as compared with those of past
pilgrims and of narrow-minded ones at the present day, we soon
found ourselves at the foot of the Hill Difficulty. Through the
very heart of this rocky mountain a tunnel has been constructed
of most admirable architecture, with a lofty arch and a spacious
double track; so that, unless the earth and rocks should chance
to crumble down, it will remain an eternal monument of the
builder's skill and enterprise. It is a great though incidental
advantage that the materials from the heart of the Hill
Difficulty have been employed in filling up the Valley of
Humiliation, thus obviating the necessity of descending into that
disagreeable and unwholesome hollow.

"This is a wonderful improvement, indeed," said I. "Yet I should
have been glad of an opportunity to visit the Palace Beautiful
and be introduced to the charming young ladies--Miss Prudence,
Miss Piety, Miss Charity, and the rest--who have the kindness to
entertain pilgrims there."

"Young ladies!" cried Mr. Smooth-it-away, as soon as he could
speak for laughing. "And charming young ladies! Why, my dear
fellow, they are old maids, every soul of them--prim, starched,
dry, and angular; and not one of them, I will venture to say, has
altered so much as the fashion of her gown since the days of
Christian's pilgrimage."

"Ah, well," said I, much comforted, "then I can very readily
dispense with their acquaintance."

The respectable Apollyon was now putting on the steam at a
prodigious rate, anxious, perhaps, to get rid of the unpleasant
reminiscences connected with the spot where he had so
disastrously encountered Christian. Consulting Mr. Bunyan's
road-book, I perceived that we must now be within a few miles of
the Valley of the Shadow of Death, into which doleful region, at
our present speed, we should plunge much sooner than seemed at
all desirable. In truth, I expected nothing better than to find
myself in the ditch on one side or the Quag on the other; but on
communicating my apprehensions to Mr. Smooth-it-away, he assured
me that the difficulties of this passage, even in its worst
condition, had been vastly exaggerated, and that, in its present
state of improvement, I might consider myself as safe as on any
railroad in Christendom.

Even while we were speaking the train shot into the entrance of
this dreaded Valley. Though I plead guilty to some foolish
palpitations of the heart during our headlong rush over the
causeway here constructed, yet it were unjust to withhold the
highest encomiums on the boldness of its original conception and
the ingenuity of those who executed it. It was gratifying,
likewise, to observe how much care had been taken to dispel the
everlasting gloom and supply the defect of cheerful sunshine, not
a ray of which has ever penetrated among these awful shadows. For
this purpose, the inflammable gas which exudes plentifully from
the soil is collected by means of pipes, and thence communicated
to a quadruple row of lamps along the whole extent of the
passage. Thus a radiance has been created even out of the fiery
and sulphurous curse that rests forever upon the valley--a
radiance hurtful, however, to the eyes, and somewhat bewildering,
as I discovered by the changes which it wrought in the visages of
my companions. In this respect, as compared with natural
daylight, there is the same difference as between truth and
falsehood, but if the reader have ever travelled through the dark
Valley, he will have learned to be thankful for any light that he
could get--if not from the sky above, then from the blasted soil
beneath. Such was the red brilliancy of these lamps that they
appeared to build walls of fire on both sides of the track,
between which we held our course at lightning speed, while a
reverberating thunder filled the Valley with its echoes. Had the
engine run off the track,--a catastrophe, it is whispered, by no
means unprecedented,--the bottomless pit, if there be any such
place, would undoubtedly have received us. Just as some dismal
fooleries of this nature had made my heart quake there came a
tremendous shriek, careering along the valley as if a thousand
devils had burst their lungs to utter it, but which proved to be
merely the whistle of the engine on arriving at a stopping-place.

The spot where we had now paused is the same that our friend
Bunyan--a truthful man, but infected with many fantastic
notions--has designated, in terms plainer than I like to repeat,
as the mouth of the infernal region. This, however, must be a
mistake, inasmuch as Mr. Smooth-it-away, while we remained in the
smoky and lurid cavern, took occasion to prove that Tophet has
not even a metaphorical existence. The place, he assured us, is
no other than the crater of a half-extinct volcano, in which the
directors had caused forges to be set up for the manufacture of
railroad iron. Hence, also, is obtained a plentiful supply of
fuel for the use of the engines. Whoever had gazed into the
dismal obscurity of the broad cavern mouth, whence ever and anon
darted huge tongues of dusky flame, and had seen the strange,
half-shaped monsters, and visions of faces horribly grotesque,
into which the smoke seemed to wreathe itself, and had heard the
awful murmurs, and shrieks, and deep, shuddering whispers of the
blast, sometimes forming themselves into words almost articulate,
would have seized upon Mr. Smooth-it-away's comfortable
explanation as greedily as we did. The inhabitants of the cavern,
moreover, were unlovely personages, dark, smoke-begrimed,
generally deformed, with misshapen feet, and a glow of dusky
redness in their eyes as if their hearts had caught fire and were
blazing out of the upper windows. It struck me as a peculiarity
that the laborers at the forge and those who brought fuel to the
engine, when they began to draw short breath, positively emitted
smoke from their mouth and nostrils.

Among the idlers about the train, most of whom were puffing
cigars which they had lighted at the flame of the crater, I was
perplexed to notice several who, to my certain knowledge, had
heretofore set forth by railroad for the Celestial City. They
looked dark, wild, and smoky, with a singular resemblance,
indeed, to the native inhabitants, like whom, also, they had a
disagreeable propensity to ill-natured gibes and sneers, the
habit of which had wrought a settled contortion of their visages.
Having been on speaking terms with one of these persons,--an
indolent, good-for-nothing fellow, who went by the name of
Take-it-easy,--I called him, and inquired what was his business

"Did you not start," said I, "for the Celestial City?"

"That's a fact," said Mr. Take-it-easy, carelessly puffing some
smoke into my eyes. "But I heard such bad accounts that I never
took pains to climb the hill on which the city stands. No
business doing, no fun going on, nothing to drink, and no smoking
allowed, and a thrumming of church music from morning till night.
I would not stay in such a place if they offered me house room
and living free."

"But, my good Mr. Take-it-easy," cried I, "why take up your
residence here, of all places in the world?"

"Oh," said the loafer, with a grin, "it is very warm hereabouts,
and I meet with plenty of old acquaintances, and altogether the
place suits me. I hope to see you back again some day soon. A
pleasant journey to you."

While he was speaking the bell of the engine rang, and we dashed
away after dropping a few passengers, but receiving no new ones.
Rattling onward through the Valley, we were dazzled with the
fiercely gleaming gas lamps, as before. But sometimes, in the
dark of intense brightness, grim faces, that bore the aspect and
expression of individual sins, or evil passions, seemed to thrust
themselves through the veil of light, glaring upon us, and
stretching forth a great, dusky hand, as if to impede our
progress. I almost thought that they were my own sins that
appalled me there. These were freaks of imagination--nothing
more, certainly-mere delusions, which I ought to be heartily
ashamed of; but all through the Dark Valley I was tormented, and
pestered, and dolefully bewildered with the same kind of waking
dreams. The mephitic gases of that region intoxicate the brain.
As the light of natural day, however, began to struggle with the
glow of the lanterns, these vain imaginations lost their
vividness, and finally vanished from the first ray of sunshine
that greeted our escape from the Valley of the Shadow of Death.
Ere we had gone a mile beyond it I could well-nigh have taken my
oath that this whole gloomy passage was a dream.

At the end of the valley, as John Bunyan mentions, is a cavern,
where, in his days, dwelt two cruel giants, Pope and Pagan, who
had strown the ground about their residence with the bones of
slaughtered pilgrims. These vile old troglodytes are no longer
there; but into their deserted cave another terrible giant has
thrust himself, and makes it his business to seize upon honest
travellers and fatten them for his table with plentiful meals of
smoke, mist, moonshine, raw potatoes, and sawdust. He is a German
by birth, and is called Giant Transcendentalist; but as to his
form, his features, his substance, and his nature generally, it
is the chief peculiarity of this huge miscreant that neither he
for himself, nor anybody for him, has ever been able to describe
them. As we rushed by the cavern's mouth we caught a hasty
glimpse of him, looking somewhat like an ill-proportioned figure,
but considerably more like a heap of fog and duskiness. He
shouted after us, but in so strange a phraseology that we knew
not what he meant, nor whether to be encouraged or affrighted.

It was late in the day when the train thundered into the ancient
city of Vanity, where Vanity Fair is still at the height of
prosperity, and exhibits an epitome of whatever is brilliant,
gay, and fascinating beneath the sun. As I purposed to make a
considerable stay here, it gratified me to learn that there is no
longer the want of harmony between the town's-people and
pilgrims, which impelled the former to such lamentably mistaken
measures as the persecution of Christian and the fiery martyrdom
of Faithful. On the contrary, as the new railroad brings with it
great trade and a constant influx of strangers, the lord of
Vanity Fair is its chief patron, and the capitalists of the city
are among the largest stockholders. Many passengers stop to take
their pleasure or make their profit in the Fair, instead of going
onward to the Celestial City. Indeed, such are the charms of the
place that people often affirm it to be the true and only heaven;
stoutly contending that there is no other, that those who seek
further are mere dreamers, and that, if the fabled brightness of
the Celestial City lay but a bare mile beyond the gates of
Vanity, they would not be fools enough to go thither. Without
subscribing to these perhaps exaggerated encomiums, I can truly
say that my abode in the city was mainly agreeable, and my
intercourse with the inhabitants productive of much amusement and

Being naturally of a serious turn, my attention was directed to
the solid advantages derivable from a residence here, rather than
to the effervescent pleasures which are the grand object with too
many visitants. The Christian reader, if he have had no accounts
of the city later than Bunyan's time, will be surprised to hear
that almost every street has its church, and that the reverend
clergy are nowhere held in higher respect than at Vanity Fair.
And well do they deserve such honorable estimation; for the
maxims of wisdom and virtue which fall from their lips come from
as deep a spiritual source, and tend to as lofty a religious aim,
as those of the sagest philosophers of old. In justification of
this high praise I need only mention the names of the Rev. Mr.
Shallow-deep, the Rev. Mr. Stumble-at-truth, that fine old
clerical character the Rev. Mr. This-today, who expects shortly
to resign his pulpit to the Rev. Mr. That-tomorrow; together with
the Rev. Mr. Bewilderment, the Rev. Mr. Clog-the-spirit, and,
last and greatest, the Rev. Dr. Wind-of-doctrine. The labors of
these eminent divines are aided by those of innumerable
lecturers, who diffuse such a various profundity, in all subjects
of human or celestial science, that any man may acquire an
omnigenous erudition without the trouble of even learning to
read. Thus literature is etherealized by assuming for its medium
the human voice; and knowledge, depositing all its heavier
particles, except, doubtless, its gold becomes exhaled into a
sound, which forthwith steals into the ever-open ear of the
community. These ingenious methods constitute a sort of
machinery, by which thought and study are done to every person's
hand without his putting himself to the slightest inconvenience
in the matter. There is another species of machine for the
wholesale manufacture of individual morality. This excellent
result is effected by societies for all manner of virtuous
purposes, with which a man has merely to connect himself,
throwing, as it were, his quota of virtue into the common stock,
and the president and directors will take care that the aggregate
amount be well applied. All these, and other wonderful
improvements in ethics, religion, and literature, being made
plain to my comprehension by the ingenious Mr. Smooth-it-away,
inspired me with a vast admiration of Vanity Fair.

It would fill a volume, in an age of pamphlets, were I to record
all my observations in this great capital of human business and
pleasure. There was an unlimited range of society--the powerful,
the wise, the witty, and the famous in every walk of life;
princes, presidents, poets, generals, artists, actors, and
philanthropists,--all making their own market at the fair, and
deeming no price too exorbitant for such commodities as hit their
fancy. It was well worth one's while, even if he had no idea of
buying or selling, to loiter through the bazaars and observe the
various sorts of traffic that were going forward.

Some of the purchasers, I thought, made very foolish bargains.
For instance, a young man having inherited a splendid fortune,
laid out a considerable portion of it in the purchase of
diseases, and finally spent all the rest for a heavy lot of
repentance and a suit of rags. A very pretty girl bartered a
heart as clear as crystal, and which seemed her most valuable
possession, for another jewel of the same kind, but so worn and
defaced as to be utterly worthless. In one shop there were a
great many crowns of laurel and myrtle, which soldiers, authors,
statesmen, and various other people pressed eagerly to buy; some
purchased these paltry wreaths with their lives, others by a
toilsome servitude of years, and many sacrificed whatever was
most valuable, yet finally slunk away without the crown. There
was a sort of stock or scrip, called Conscience, which seemed to
be in great demand, and would purchase almost anything. Indeed,
few rich commodities were to be obtained without paying a heavy
sum in this particular stock, and a man's business was seldom
very lucrative unless he knew precisely when and how to throw his
hoard of conscience into the market. Yet as this stock was the
only thing of permanent value, whoever parted with it was sure to
find himself a loser in the long run. Several of the speculations
were of a questionable character. Occasionally a member of
Congress recruited his pocket by the sale of his constituents;
and I was assured that public officers have often sold their
country at very moderate prices. Thousands sold their happiness
for a whim. Gilded chains were in great demand, and purchased
with almost any sacrifice. In truth, those who desired, according
to the old adage, to sell anything valuable for a song, might
find customers all over the Fair; and there were innumerable
messes of pottage, piping hot, for such as chose to buy them with
their birthrights. A few articles, however, could not be found
genuine at Vanity Fair. If a customer wished to renew his stock
of youth the dealers offered him a set of false teeth and an
auburn wig; if he demanded peace of mind, they recommended opium
or a brandy bottle.

Tracts of land and golden mansions, situate in the Celestial
City, were often exchanged, at very disadvantageous rates, for a
few years' lease of small, dismal, inconvenient tenements in
Vanity Fair. Prince Beelzebub himself took great interest in this
sort of traffic, and sometimes condescended to meddle with
smaller matters. I once had the pleasure to see him bargaining
with a miser for his soul, which, after much ingenious
skirmishing on both sides, his highness succeeded in obtaining at
about the value of sixpence. The prince remarked with a smile,
that he was a loser by the transaction.

Day after day, as I walked the streets of Vanity, my manners and
deportment became more and more like those of the inhabitants.
The place began to seem like home; the idea of pursuing my
travels to the Celestial City was almost obliterated from my
mind. I was reminded of it, however, by the sight of the same
pair of simple pilgrims at whom we had laughed so heartily when
Apollyon puffed smoke and steam into their faces at the
commencement of our journey. There they stood amidst the densest
bustle of Vanity; the dealers offering them their purple and fine
linen and jewels, the men of wit and humor gibing at them, a pair
of buxom ladies ogling them askance, while the benevolent Mr.
Smooth-it-away whispered some of his wisdom at their elbows, and
pointed to a newly-erected temple; but there were these worthy
simpletons, making the scene look wild and monstrous, merely by
their sturdy repudiation of all part in its business or

One of them--his name was Stick-to-the-right--perceived in my
face, I suppose, a species of sympathy and almost admiration,
which, to my own great surprise, I could not help feeling for
this pragmatic couple. It prompted him to address me.

"Sir," inquired he, with a sad, yet mild and kindly voice. "do
you call yourself a pilgrim?"

"Yes," I replied, "my right to that appellation is indubitable. I
am merely a sojourner here in Vanity Fair, being bound to the
Celestial City by the new railroad."

"Alas, friend," rejoined Mr. Stick-to-the-truth, "I do assure
you, and beseech you to receive the truth of my words, that that
whole concern is a bubble. You may travel on it all your
lifetime, were you to live thousands of years, and yet never get
beyond the limits of Vanity Fair. Yea, though you should deem
yourself entering the gates of the blessed city, it will be
nothing but a miserable delusion."

"The Lord of the Celestial City," began the other pilgrim, whose
name was Mr. Foot-it-to-heaven, "has refused, and will ever
refuse, to grant an act of incorporation for this railroad; and
unless that be obtained, no passenger can ever hope to enter his
dominions. Wherefore every man who buys a ticket must lay his
account with losing the purchase money, which is the value of his
own soul."

"Poh, nonsense!" said Mr. Smooth-it-away, taking my arm and
leading me off, "these fellows ought to be indicted for a libel.
If the law stood as it once did in Vanity Fair we should see them
grinning through the iron bars of the prison window."

This incident made a considerable impression on my mind, and
contributed with other circumstances to indispose me to a
permanent residence in the city of Vanity; although, of course, I
was not simple enough to give up my original plan of gliding
along easily and commodiously by railroad. Still, I grew anxious
to be gone. There was one strange thing that troubled me. Amid
the occupations or amusements of the Fair, nothing was more
common than for a person--whether at feast, theatre, or church,
or trafficking for wealth and honors, or whatever he might be
doing, to vanish like a soap bubble, and be never more seen of
his fellows; and so accustomed were the latter to such little
accidents that they went on with their business as quietly as if
nothing had happened. But it was otherwise with me.

Finally, after a pretty long residence at the Fair, I resumed my
journey towards the Celestial City, still with Mr. Smooth-it-away
at my side. At a short distance beyond the suburbs of Vanity we
passed the ancient silver mine, of which Demas was the first
discoverer, and which is now wrought to great advantage,
supplying nearly all the coined currency of the world. A little
further onward was the spot where Lot's wife had stood forever
under the semblance of a pillar of salt. Curious travellers have
long since carried it away piecemeal. Had all regrets been
punished as rigorously as this poor dame's were, my yearning for
the relinquished delights of Vanity Fair might have produced a
similar change in my own corporeal substance, and left me a
warning to future pilgrims.

The next remarkable object was a large edifice, constructed of
moss-grown stone, but in a modern and airy style of architecture.
The engine came to a pause in its vicinity, with the usual
tremendous shriek.

"This was formerly the castle of the redoubted giant Despair,"
observed Mr. Smooth-it-away; "but since his death Mr.
Flimsy-faith has repaired it, and keeps an excellent house of
entertainment here. It is one of our stopping-places."

"It seems but slightly put together," remarked I, looking at the
frail yet ponderous walls. "I do not envy Mr. Flimsy-faith his
habitation. Some day it will thunder down upon the heads of the

"We shall escape at all events," said Mr. Smooth-it-away, "for
Apollyon is putting on the steam again."

The road now plunged into a gorge of the Delectable Mountains,
and traversed the field where in former ages the blind men
wandered and stumbled among the tombs. One of these ancient
tombstones had been thrust across the track by some malicious
person, and gave the train of cars a terrible jolt. Far up the
rugged side of a mountain I perceived a rusty iron door, half
overgrown with bushes and creeping plants, but with smoke issuing
from its crevices.

"Is that," inquired I, "the very door in the hill-side which the
shepherds assured Christian was a by-way to hell?"

"That was a joke on the part of the shepherds," said Mr.
Smooth-itaway, with a smile. "It is neither more nor less than
the door of a cavern which they use as a smoke-house for the
preparation of mutton hams."

My recollections of the journey are now, for a little space, dim
and confused, inasmuch as a singular drowsiness here overcame me,
owing to the fact that we were passing over the enchanted ground,
the air of which encourages a disposition to sleep. I awoke,
however, as soon as we crossed the borders of the pleasant land
of Beulah. All the passengers were rubbing their eyes, comparing
watches, and congratulating one another on the prospect of
arriving so seasonably at the journey's end. The sweet breezes of
this happy clime came refreshingly to our nostrils; we beheld the
glimmering gush of silver fountains, overhung by trees of
beautiful foliage and delicious fruit, which were propagated by
grafts from the celestial gardens. Once, as we dashed onward like
a hurricane, there was a flutter of wings and the bright
appearance of an angel in the air, speeding forth on some
heavenly mission. The engine now announced the close vicinity of
the final station-house by one last and horrible scream, in which
there seemed to be distinguishable every kind of wailing and woe,
and bitter fierceness of wrath, all mixed up with the wild
laughter of a devil or a madman. Throughout our journey, at every
stopping-place, Apollyon had exercised his ingenuity in screwing
the most abominable sounds out of the whistle of the
steam-engine; but in this closing effort he outdid himself and
created an infernal uproar, which, besides disturbing the
peaceful inhabitants of Beulah, must have sent its discord even
through the celestial gates.

While the horrid clamor was still ringing in our ears we heard an
exulting strain, as if a thousand instruments of music, with
height and depth and sweetness in their tones, at once tender and
triumphant, were struck in unison, to greet the approach of some
illustrious hero, who had fought the good fight and won a
glorious victory, and was come to lay aside his battered arms
forever. Looking to ascertain what might be the occasion of this
glad harmony, I perceived, on alighting from the cars, that a
multitude of shining ones had assembled on the other side of the
river, to welcome two poor pilgrims, who were just emerging from
its depths. They were the same whom Apollyon and ourselves had
persecuted with taunts, and gibes, and scalding steam, at the
commencement of our journey--the same whose unworldly aspect and
impressive words had stirred my conscience amid the wild
revellers of Vanity Fair.

"How amazingly well those men have got on," cried I to Mr.
Smoothit--away. "I wish we were secure of as good a reception."

"Never fear, never fear!" answered my friend. "Come, make haste;
the ferry boat will be off directly, and in three minutes you
will be on the other side of the river. No doubt you will find
coaches to carry you up to the city gates."

A steam ferry boat, the last improvement on this important route,
lay at the river side, puffing, snorting, and emitting all those
other disagreeable utterances which betoken the departure to be
immediate. I hurried on board with the rest of the passengers,
most of whom were in great perturbation: some bawling out for
their baggage; some tearing their hair and exclaiming that the
boat would explode or sink; some already pale with the heaving of
the stream; some gazing affrighted at the ugly aspect of the
steersman; and some still dizzy with the slumberous influences of
the Enchanted Ground. Looking back to the shore, I was amazed to
discern Mr. Smooth-it-away waving his hand in token of farewell.

"Don't you go over to the Celestial City?" exclaimed I.

"Oh, no!" answered he with a queer smile, and that same
disagreeable contortion of visage which I had remarked in the
inhabitants of the Dark Valley. "Oh, no! I have come thus far
only for the sake of your pleasant company. Good-by! We shall
meet again."

And then did my excellent friend Mr. Smooth-it-away laugh
outright, in the midst of which cachinnation a smoke-wreath
issued from his mouth and nostrils, while a twinkle of lurid
flame darted out of either eye, proving indubitably that his
heart was all of a red blaze. The impudent fiend! To deny the
existence of Tophet, when he felt its fiery tortures raging
within his breast. I rushed to the side of the boat, intending to
fling myself on shore; but the wheels, as they began their
revolutions, threw a dash of spray over me so cold--so deadly
cold, with the chill that will never leave those waters until
Death be drowned in his own river--that with a shiver and a
heartquake I awoke. Thank Heaven it was a Dream!


Life figures itself to me as a festal or funereal procession. All
of us have our places, and are to move onward under the direction
of the Chief Marshal. The grand difficulty results from the
invariably mistaken principles on which the deputy marshals seek
to arrange this immense concourse of people, so much more
numerous than those that train their interminable length through
streets and highways in times of political excitement. Their
scheme is ancient, far beyond the memory of man or even the
record of history, and has hitherto been very little modified by
the innate sense of something wrong, and the dim perception of
better methods, that have disquieted all the ages through which
the procession has taken its march. Its members are classified by
the merest external circumstances, and thus are more certain to
be thrown out of their true positions than if no principle of
arrangement were attempted. In one part of the procession we see
men of landed estate or moneyed capital gravely keeping each
other company, for the preposterous reason that they chance to
have a similar standing in the tax-gatherer's book. Trades and
professions march together with scarcely a more real bond of
union. In this manner, it cannot be denied, people are
disentangled from the mass and separated into various classes
according to certain apparent relations; all have some artificial
badge which the world, and themselves among the first, learn to
consider as a genuine characteristic. Fixing our attention on
such outside shows of similarity or difference, we lose sight of
those realities by which nature, fortune, fate, or Providence has
constituted for every man a brotherhood, wherein it is one great
office of human wisdom to classify him. When the mind has once
accustomed itself to a proper arrangement of the Procession of
Life, or a true classification of society, even though merely
speculative, there is thenceforth a satisfaction which pretty
well suffices for itself without the aid of any actual
reformation in the order of march.

For instance, assuming to myself the power of marshalling the
aforesaid procession, I direct a trumpeter to send forth a blast
loud enough to be heard from hence to China; and a herald, with
world-pervading voice, to make proclamation for a certain class
of mortals to take their places. What shall be their principle of
union? After all, an external one, in comparison with many that
might be found, yet far more real than those which the world has
selected for a similar purpose. Let all who are afflicted with
like physical diseases form themselves into ranks.

Our first attempt at classification is not very successful. It
may gratify the pride of aristocracy to reflect that disease,
more than any other circumstance of human life, pays due
observance to the distinctions which rank and wealth, and poverty
and lowliness, have established among mankind. Some maladies are
rich and precious, and only to be acquired by the right of
inheritance or purchased with gold. Of this kind is the gout,
which serves as a bond of brotherhood to the purple-visaged
gentry, who obey the herald's voice, and painfully hobble from
all civilized regions of the globe to take their post in the
grand procession. In mercy to their toes, let us hope that the
march may not be long. The Dyspeptics, too, are people of good
standing in the world. For them the earliest salmon is caught in
our eastern rivers, and the shy woodcock stains the dry leaves
with his blood in his remotest haunts, and the turtle comes from
the far Pacific Islands to be gobbled up in soup. They can afford
to flavor all their dishes with indolence, which, in spite of the
general opinion, is a sauce more exquisitely piquant than
appetite won by exercise. Apoplexy is another highly respectable
disease. We will rank together all who have the symptom of
dizziness in the brain, and as fast as any drop by the way supply
their places with new members of the board of aldermen.

On the other hand, here come whole tribes of people whose
physical lives are but a deteriorated variety of life, and
themselves a meaner species of mankind; so sad an effect has been
wrought by the tainted breath of cities, scanty and unwholesome
food, destructive modes of labor, and the lack of those moral
supports that might partially have counteracted such bad
influences. Behold here a train of house painters, all afflicted
with a peculiar sort of colic. Next in place we will marshal
those workmen in cutlery, who have breathed a fatal disorder into
their lungs with the impalpable dust of steel. Tailors and
shoemakers, being sedentary men, will chiefly congregate into one
part of the procession and march under similar banners of
disease; but among them we may observe here and there a sickly
student, who has left his health between the leaves of classic
volumes; and clerks, likewise, who have caught their deaths on
high official stools; and men of genius too, who have written
sheet after sheet with pens dipped in their heart's blood. These
are a wretched quaking, short-breathed set. But what is this
cloud of pale-cheeked, slender girls, who disturb the ear with
the multiplicity of their short, dry coughs? They are
seamstresses, who have plied the daily and nightly needle in the
service of master tailors and close-fisted contractors, until now
it is almost time for each to hem the borders of her own shroud.
Consumption points their place in the procession. With their sad
sisterhood are intermingled many youthful maidens who have
sickened in aristocratic mansions, and for whose aid science has
unavailingly searched its volumes, and whom breathless love has
watched. In our ranks the rich maiden and the poor seamstress may
walk arm in arm. We might find innumerable other instances, where
the bond of mutual disease--not to speak of nation-sweeping
pestilence--embraces high and low, and makes the king a brother
of the clown. But it is not hard to own that disease is the
natural aristocrat. Let him keep his state, and have his
established orders of rank, and wear his royal mantle of the
color of a fever flush and let the noble and wealthy boast their
own physical infirmities, and display their symptoms as the
badges of high station. All things considered, these are as
proper subjects of human pride as any relations of human rank
that men can fix upon.

Sound again, thou deep-breathed trumpeter! and herald, with thy
voice of might, shout forth another summons that shall reach the
old baronial castles of Europe, and the rudest cabin of our
western wilderness! What class is next to take its place in the
procession of mortal life? Let it be those whom the gifts of
intellect have united in a noble brotherhood.

Ay, this is a reality, before which the conventional distinctions
of society melt away like a vapor when we would grasp it with the
hand. Were Byron now alive, and Burns, the first would come from
his ancestral abbey, flinging aside, although unwillingly, the
inherited honors of a thousand years, to take the arm of the
mighty peasant who grew immortal while he stooped behind his
plough. These are gone; but the hall, the farmer's fireside, the
hut, perhaps the palace, the counting-room, the workshop, the
village, the city, life's high places and low ones, may all
produce their poets, whom a common temperament pervades like an
electric sympathy. Peer or ploughman, we will muster them pair by
pair and shoulder to shoulder. Even society, in its most
artificial state, consents to this arrangement. These factory
girls from Lowell shall mate themselves with the pride of
drawing-rooms and literary circles, the bluebells in fashion's
nosegay, the Sapphos, and Montagues, and Nortons of the age.
Other modes of intellect bring together as strange companies.
Silk-gowned professor of languages, give your arm to this sturdy
blacksmith, and deem yourself honored by the conjunction, though
you behold him grimy from the anvil. All varieties of human
speech are like his mother tongue to this rare man.
Indiscriminately let those take their places, of whatever rank
they come, who possess the kingly gifts to lead armies or to sway
a people--Nature's generals, her lawgivers, her kings, and with
them also the deep philosophers who think the thought in one
generation that is to revolutionize society in the next. With the
hereditary legislator in whom eloquence is a far-descended
attainment--a rich echo repeated by powerful voices from Cicero
downward--we will match some wondrous backwoodsman, who has
caught a wild power of language from the breeze among his native
forest boughs. But we may safely leave these brethren and
sisterhood to settle their own congenialities. Our ordinary
distinctions become so trifling, so impalpable, so ridiculously
visionary, in comparison with a classification founded on truth,
that all talk about the matter is immediately a common place.

Yet the longer I reflect the less am I satisfied with the idea of
forming a separate class of mankind on the basis of high
intellectual power. At best it is but a higher development of
innate gifts common to all. Perhaps, moreover, he whose genius
appears deepest and truest excels his fellows in nothing save the
knack of expression; he throws out occasionally a lucky hint at
truths of which every human soul is profoundly, though
unutterably, conscious. Therefore, though we suffer the
brotherhood of intellect to march onward together, it may be
doubted whether their peculiar relation will not begin to vanish
as soon as the procession shall have passed beyond the circle of
this present world. But we do not classify for eternity.

And next, let the trumpet pour forth a funereal wail, and the
herald's voice give breath in one vast cry to all the groans and
grievous utterances that are audible throughout the earth. We
appeal now to the sacred bond of sorrow, and summon the great
multitude who labor under similar afflictions to take their
places in the march.

How many a heart that would have been insensible to any other
call has responded to the doleful accents of that voice! It has
gone far and wide, and high and low, and left scarcely a mortal
roof unvisited. Indeed, the principle is only too universal for
our purpose, and, unless we limit it, will quite break up our
classification of mankind, and convert the whole procession into
a funeral train. We will therefore be at some pains to
discriminate. Here comes a lonely rich man: he has built a noble
fabric for his dwelling-house, with a front of stately
architecture and marble floors and doors of precious woods; the
whole structure is as beautiful as a dream and as substantial as
the native rock. But the visionary shapes of a long posterity,
for whose home this mansion was intended, have faded into
nothingness since the death of the founder's only son. The rich
man gives a glance at his sable garb in one of the splendid
mirrors of his drawing-room, and descending a flight of lofty
steps instinctively offers his arm to yonder poverty stricken
widow in the rusty black bonnet, and with a check apron over her
patched gown. The sailor boy, who was her sole earthly stay, was
washed overboard in a late tempest. This couple from the palace
and the almshouse are but the types of thousands more who
represent the dark tragedy of life and seldom quarrel for the
upper parts. Grief is such a leveller, with its own dignity and
its own humility, that the noble and the peasant, the beggar and
the monarch, will waive their pretensions to external rank
without the officiousness of interference on our part. If
pride--the influence of the world's false distinctions--remain in
the heart, then sorrow lacks the earnestness which makes it holy
and reverend. It loses its reality and becomes a miserable
shadow. On this ground we have an opportunity to assign over
multitudes who would willingly claim places here to other parts
of the procession. If the mourner have anything dearer than his
grief he must seek his true position elsewhere. There are so many
unsubstantial sorrows which the necessity of our mortal state
begets on idleness, that an observer, casting aside sentiment, is
sometimes led to question whether there be any real woe, except
absolute physical suffering and the loss of closest friends. A
crowd who exhibit what they deem to be broken hearts--and among
them many lovelorn maids and bachelors, and men of disappointed
ambition in arts or politics, and the poor who were once rich, or
who have sought to be rich in vain--the great majority of these
may ask admittance into some other fraternity. There is no room
here. Perhaps we may institute a separate class where such
unfortunates will naturally fall into the procession. Meanwhile
let them stand aside and patiently await their time.

If our trumpeter can borrow a note from the doomsday trumpet
blast, let him sound it now. The dread alarum should make the
earth quake to its centre, for the herald is about to address
mankind with a summons to which even the purest mortal may be
sensible of some faint responding echo in his breast. In many
bosoms it will awaken a still small voice more terrible than its
own reverberating uproar.

The hideous appeal has swept around the globe. Come, all ye
guilty ones, and rank yourselves in accordance with the
brotherhood of crime. This, indeed, is an awful summons. I almost
tremble to look at the strange partnerships that begin to be
formed, reluctantly, but by the in vincible necessity of like to
like in this part of the procession. A forger from the state
prison seizes the arm of a distinguished financier. How
indignantly does the latter plead his fair reputation upon
'Change, and insist that his operations, by their magnificence of
scope, were removed into quite another sphere of morality than
those of his pitiful companion! But let him cut the connection if
he can. Here comes a murderer with his clanking chains, and pairs
himself--horrible to tell--with as pure and upright a man, in all
observable respects, as ever partook of the consecrated bread and
wine. He is one of those, perchance the most hopeless of all
sinners, who practise such an exemplary system of outward duties,
that even a deadly crime may be hidden from their own sight and
remembrance, under this unreal frostwork. Yet he now finds his
place. Why do that pair of flaunting girls, with the pert,
affected laugh and the sly leer at the by-standers, intrude
themselves into the same rank with yonder decorous matron, and
that somewhat prudish maiden? Surely these poor creatures, born
to vice as their sole and natural inheritance, can be no fit
associates for women who have been guarded round about by all the
proprieties of domestic life, and who could not err unless they
first created the opportunity. Oh no; it must be merely the
impertinence of those unblushing hussies; and we can only wonder
how such respectable ladies should have responded to a summons
that was not meant for them.

We shall make short work of this miserable class, each member of
which is entitled to grasp any other member's hand, by that vile
degradation wherein guilty error has buried all alike. The foul
fiend to whom it properly belongs must relieve us of our
loathsome task. Let the bond servants of sin pass on. But neither
man nor woman, in whom good predominates, will smile or sneer,
nor bid the Rogues' March be played, in derision of their array.
Feeling within their breasts a shuddering sympathy, which at
least gives token of the sin that might have been, they will
thank God for any place in the grand procession of human
existence, save among those most wretched ones. Many, however,
will be astonished at the fatal impulse that drags them
thitherward. Nothing is more remarkable than the various
deceptions by which guilt conceals itself from the perpetrator's
conscience, and oftenest, perhaps, by the splendor of its
garments. Statesmen, rulers, generals, and all men who act over
an extensive sphere, are most liable to be deluded in this way;
they commit wrong, devastation, and murder, on so grand a scale,
that it impresses them as speculative rather than actual; but in
our procession we find them linked in detestable conjunction with
the meanest criminals whose deeds have the vulgarity of petty
details. Here the effect of circumstance and accident is done
away, and a man finds his rank according to the spirit of his
crime, in whatever shape it may have been developed.

We have called the Evil; now let us call the Good. The trumpet's
brazen throat should pour heavenly music over the earth, and the
herald's voice go forth with the sweetness of an angel's accents,
as if to summon each upright man to his reward. But how is this?
Does none answer to the call? Not one: for the just, the pure,
the true, and an who might most worthily obey it, shrink sadly
back, as most conscious of error and imperfection. Then let the
summons be to those whose pervading principle is Love. This
classification will embrace all the truly good, and none in whose
souls there exists not something that may expand itself into a
heaven, both of well-doing and felicity.

The first that presents himself is a man of wealth, who has
bequeathed the bulk of his property to a hospital; his ghost,
methinks, would have a better right here than his living body.
But here they come, the genuine benefactors of their race. Some
have wandered about the earth with pictures of bliss in their
imagination, and with hearts that shrank sensitively from the
idea of pain and woe, yet have studied all varieties of misery
that human nature can endure. The prison, the insane asylum, the
squalid chamber of the almshouse, the manufactory where the demon
of machinery annihilates the human soul, and the cotton field
where God's image becomes a beast of burden; to these and every
other scene where man wrongs or neglects his brother, the
apostles of humanity have penetrated. This missionary, black with
India's burning sunshine, shall give his arm to a pale-faced
brother who has made himself familiar with the infected alleys
and loathsome haunts of vice in one of our own cities. The
generous founder of a college shall be the partner of a maiden
lady of narrow substance, one of whose good deeds it has been to
gather a little school of orphan children. If the mighty merchant
whose benefactions are reckoned by thousands of dollars deem
himself worthy, let him join the procession with her whose love
has proved itself by watchings at the sick-bed, and all those
lowly offices which bring her into actual contact with disease
and wretchedness. And with those whose impulses have guided them
to benevolent actions, we will rank others to whom Providence has
assigned a different tendency and different powers. Men who have
spent their lives in generous and holy contemplation for the
human race; those who, by a certain heavenliness of spirit, have
purified the atmosphere around them, and thus supplied a medium
in which good and high things may be projected and
performed--give to these a lofty place among the benefactors of
mankind, although no deed, such as the world calls deeds, may be
recorded of them. There are some individuals of whom we cannot
conceive it proper that they should apply their hands to any
earthly instrument, or work out any definite act; and others,
perhaps not less high, to whom it is an essential attribute to
labor in body as well as spirit for the welfare of their
brethren. Thus, if we find a spiritual sage whose unseen,
inestimable influence has exalted the moral standard of mankind,
we will choose for his companion some poor laborer who has
wrought for love in the potato field of a neighbor poorer than

We have summoned this various multitude--and, to the credit of
our nature, it is a large one--on the principle of Love. It is
singular, nevertheless, to remark the shyness that exists among
many members of the present class, all of whom we might expect to
recognize one another by the freemasonry of mutual goodness, and
to embrace like brethren, giving God thanks for such various
specimens of human excellence. But it is far otherwise. Each sect
surrounds its own righteousness with a hedge of thorns. It is

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