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Lay Morals by Robert Louis Stevenson

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and observe with wonder how well you were served by your gossips,
how ill by your intelligence and sympathy; in how many points of
fact we are at one, and how widely our appreciations vary. There
is something wrong here; either with you or me. It is possible,
for instance, that you, who seem to have so many ears in Kalawao,
had heard of the affair of Mr. Chapman's money, and were singly
struck by Damien's intended wrong-doing. I was struck with that
also, and set it fairly down; but I was struck much more by the
fact that he had the honesty of mind to be convinced. I may here
tell you that it was a long business; that one of his colleagues
sat with him late into the night, multiplying arguments and
accusations; that the father listened as usual with 'perfect good-
nature and perfect obstinacy'; but at the last, when he was
persuaded--'Yes,' said he, 'I am very much obliged to you; you have
done me a service; it would have been a theft.' There are many
(not Catholics merely) who require their heroes and saints to be
infallible; to these the story will be painful; not to the true
lovers, patrons, and servants of mankind.

And I take it, this is a type of our division; that you are one of
those who have an eye for faults and failures; that you take a
pleasure to find and publish them; and that, having found them, you
make haste to forget the overvailing virtues and the real success
which had alone introduced them to your knowledge. It is a
dangerous frame of mind. That you may understand how dangerous,
and into what a situation it has already brought you, we will (if
you please) go hand-in-hand through the different phrases of your
letter, and candidly examine each from the point of view of its
truth, its appositeness, and its charity.

Damien was COARSE.

It is very possible. You make us sorry for the lepers, who had
only a coarse old peasant for their friend and father. But you,
who were so refined, why were you not there, to cheer them with the
lights of culture? Or may I remind you that we have some reason to
doubt if John the Baptist were genteel; and in the case of Peter,
on whose career you doubtless dwell approvingly in the pulpit, no
doubt at all he was a 'coarse, headstrong' fisherman! Yet even in
our Protestant Bibles Peter is called Saint.

Damien was DIRTY.

He was. Think of the poor lepers annoyed with this dirty comrade!
But the clean Dr. Hyde was at his food in a fine house.

Damien was HEADSTRONG.

I believe you are right again; and I thank God for his strong head
and heart.

Damien was BIGOTED.

I am not fond of bigots myself, because they are not fond of me.
But what is meant by bigotry, that we should regard it as a blemish
in a priest? Damien believed his own religion with the simplicity
of a peasant or a child; as I would I could suppose that you do.
For this, I wonder at him some way off; and had that been his only
character, should have avoided him in life. But the point of
interest in Damien, which has caused him to be so much talked about
and made him at last the subject of your pen and mine, was that, in
him, his bigotry, his intense and narrow faith, wrought potently
for good, and strengthened him to be one of the world's heroes and


Is this a misreading? or do you really mean the words for blame? I
have heard Christ, in the pulpits of our Church, held up for
imitation on the ground that His sacrifice was voluntary. Does Dr.
Hyde think otherwise?


It is true he was allowed many indulgences. Am I to understand
that you blame the father for profiting by these, or the officers
for granting them? In either case, it is a mighty Spartan standard
to issue from the house on Beretania Street; and I am convinced you
will find yourself with few supporters.


I think even you will admit that I have already been frank in my
description of the man I am defending; but before I take you up
upon this head, I will be franker still, and tell you that perhaps
nowhere in the world can a man taste a more pleasurable sense of
contrast than when he passes from Damien's 'Chinatown' at Kalawao
to the beautiful Bishop-Home at Kalaupapa. At this point, in my
desire to make all fair for you, I will break my rule and adduce
Catholic testimony. Here is a passage from my diary about my visit
to the Chinatown, from which you will see how it is (even now)
regarded by its own officials: 'We went round all the dormitories,
refectories, etc.--dark and dingy enough, with a superficial
cleanliness, which he' [Mr. Dutton, the lay-brother] 'did not seek
to defend. "It is almost decent," said he; "the sisters will make
that all right when we get them here."' And yet I gathered it was
already better since Damien was dead, and far better than when he
was there alone and had his own (not always excellent) way. I have
now come far enough to meet you on a common ground of fact; and I
tell you that, to a mind not prejudiced by jealousy, all the
reforms of the lazaretto, and even those which he most vigorously
opposed, are properly the work of Damien. They are the evidence of
his success; they are what his heroism provoked from the reluctant
and the careless. Many were before him in the field; Mr. Meyer,
for instance, of whose faithful work we hear too little: there
have been many since; and some had more worldly wisdom, though none
had more devotion, than our saint. Before his day, even you will
confess, they had effected little. It was his part, by one
striking act of martyrdom, to direct all men's eyes on that
distressful country. At a blow, and with the price of his life, he
made the place illustrious and public. And that, if you will
consider largely, was the one reform needful; pregnant of all that
should succeed. It brought money; it brought (best individual
addition of them all) the sisters; it brought supervision, for
public opinion and public interest landed with the man at Kalawao.
If ever any man brought reforms, and died to bring them, it was he.
There is not a clean cup or towel in the Bishop-Home, but dirty
Damien washed it.


How do you know that? Is this the nature of the conversation in
that house on Beretania Street which the cabman envied, driving
past?--racy details of the misconduct of the poor peasant priest,
toiling under the cliffs of Molokai?

Many have visited the station before me; they seem not to have
heard the rumour. When I was there I heard many shocking tales,
for my informants were men speaking with the plainness of the
laity; and I heard plenty of complaints of Damien. Why was this
never mentioned? and how came it to you in the retirement of your
clerical parlour?

But I must not even seem to deceive you. This scandal, when I read
it in your letter, was not new to me. I had heard it once before;
and I must tell you how. There came to Samoa a man from Honolulu;
he, in a public-house on the beach, volunteered the statement that
Damien had 'contracted the disease from having connection with the
female lepers'; and I find a joy in telling you how the report was
welcomed in a public-house. A man sprang to his feet; I am not at
liberty to give his name, but from what I heard I doubt if you
would care to have him to dinner in Beretania Street. 'You
miserable little--' (here is a word I dare not print, it would so
shock your ears). 'You miserable little--,' he cried, 'if the
story were a thousand times true, can't you see you are a million
times a lower--for daring to repeat it?' I wish it could be told
of you that when the report reached you in your house, perhaps
after family worship, you had found in your soul enough holy anger
to receive it with the same expressions; ay, even with that one
which I dare not print; it would not need to have been blotted
away, like Uncle Toby's oath, by the tears of the recording angel;
it would have been counted to you for your brightest righteousness.
But you have deliberately chosen the part of the man from Honolulu,
and you have played it with improvements of your own. The man from
Honolulu--miserable, leering creature--communicated the tale to a
rude knot of beach-combing drinkers in a public-house, where (I
will so far agree with your temperance opinions) man is not always
at his noblest; and the man from Honolulu had himself been
drinking--drinking, we may charitably fancy, to excess. It was to
your 'Dear Brother, the Reverend H. B. Gage,' that you chose to
communicate the sickening story; and the blue ribbon which adorns
your portly bosom forbids me to allow you the extenuating plea that
you were drunk when it was done. Your 'dear brother'--a brother
indeed--made haste to deliver up your letter (as a means of grace,
perhaps) to the religious papers; where, after many months, I found
and read and wondered at it; and whence I have now reproduced it
for the wonder of others. And you and your dear brother have, by
this cycle of operations, built up a contrast very edifying to
examine in detail. The man whom you would not care to have to
dinner, on the one side; on the other, the Reverend Dr. Hyde and
the Reverend H. B. Gage: the Apia bar-room, the Honolulu manse.

But I fear you scarce appreciate how you appear to your fellow-men;
and to bring it home to you, I will suppose your story to be true.
I will suppose--and God forgive me for supposing it--that Damien
faltered and stumbled in his narrow path of duty; I will suppose
that, in the horror of his isolation, perhaps in the fever of
incipient disease, he, who was doing so much more than he had
sworn, failed in the letter of his priestly oath--he, who was so
much a better man than either you or me, who did what we have never
dreamed of daring--he too tasted of our common frailty. 'O, Iago,
the pity of it!' The least tender should be moved to tears; the
most incredulous to prayer. And all that you could do was to pen
your letter to the Reverend H. B. Gage!

Is it growing at all clear to you what a picture you have drawn of
your own heart? I will try yet once again to make it clearer. You
had a father: suppose this tale were about him, and some informant
brought it to you, proof in hand: I am not making too high an
estimate of your emotional nature when I suppose you would regret
the circumstance? that you would feel the tale of frailty the more
keenly since it shamed the author of your days? and that the last
thing you would do would be to publish it in the religious press?
Well, the man who tried to do what Damien did, is my father, and
the father of the man in the Apia bar, and the father of all who
love goodness; and he was your father too, if God had given you
grace to see it.


'A cloud of witnesses lyes here,
Who for Christ's interest did appear.'
Inscription on Battlefield at Rullion Green.


'Halt, passenger; take heed what thou dost see,
This tomb doth show for what some men did die.'
Monument, Greyfriars' Churchyard, Edinburgh,
1661-1668. {2a}

Two hundred years ago a tragedy was enacted in Scotland, the memory
whereof has been in great measure lost or obscured by the deep
tragedies which followed it. It is, as it were, the evening of the
night of persecution--a sort of twilight, dark indeed to us, but
light as the noonday when compared with the midnight gloom which
followed. This fact, of its being the very threshold of
persecution, lends it, however, an additional interest.

The prejudices of the people against Episcopacy were 'out of
measure increased,' says Bishop Burnet, 'by the new incumbents who
were put in the places of the ejected preachers, and were generally
very mean and despicable in all respects. They were the worst
preachers I ever heard; they were ignorant to a reproach; and many
of them were openly vicious. They . . . were indeed the dreg and
refuse of the northern parts. Those of them who arose above
contempt or scandal were men of such violent tempers that they were
as much hated as the others were despised.' {2b} It was little to
be wondered at, from this account that the country-folk refused to
go to the parish church, and chose rather to listen to outed
ministers in the fields. But this was not to be allowed, and their
persecutors at last fell on the method of calling a roll of the
parishioners' names every Sabbath, and marking a fine of twenty
shillings Scots to the name of each absenter. In this way very
large debts were incurred by persons altogether unable to pay.
Besides this, landlords were fined for their tenants' absences,
tenants for their landlords', masters for their servants', servants
for their masters', even though they themselves were perfectly
regular in their attendance. And as the curates were allowed to
fine with the sanction of any common soldier, it may be imagined
that often the pretexts were neither very sufficient nor well

When the fines could not be paid at once, Bibles, clothes, and
household utensils were seized upon, or a number of soldiers,
proportionate to his wealth, were quartered on the offender. The
coarse and drunken privates filled the houses with woe; snatched
the bread from the children to feed their dogs; shocked the
principles, scorned the scruples, and blasphemed the religion of
their humble hosts; and when they had reduced them to destitution,
sold the furniture, and burned down the roof-tree which was
consecrated to the peasants by the name of Home. For all this
attention each of these soldiers received from his unwilling
landlord a certain sum of money per day--three shillings sterling,
according to Naphtali. And frequently they were forced to pay
quartering money for more men than were in reality 'cessed on
them.' At that time it was no strange thing to behold a strong man
begging for money to pay his fines, and many others who were deep
in arrears, or who had attracted attention in some other way, were
forced to flee from their homes, and take refuge from arrest and
imprisonment among the wild mosses of the uplands. {2c}

One example in particular we may cite:

John Neilson, the Laird of Corsack, a worthy man, was,
unfortunately for himself, a Nonconformist. First he was fined in
four hundred pounds Scots, and then through cessing he lost
nineteen hundred and ninety-three pounds Scots. He was next
obliged to leave his house and flee from place to place, during
which wanderings he lost his horse. His wife and children were
turned out of doors, and then his tenants were fined till they too
were almost ruined. As a final stroke, they drove away all his
cattle to Glasgow and sold them. {2d} Surely it was time that
something were done to alleviate so much sorrow, to overthrow such

About this time too there arrived in Galloway a person calling
himself Captain Andrew Gray, and advising the people to revolt. He
displayed some documents purporting to be from the northern
Covenanters, and stating that they were prepared to join in any
enterprise commenced by their southern brethren. The leader of the
persecutors was Sir James Turner, an officer afterwards degraded
for his share in the matter. 'He was naturally fierce, but was mad
when he was drunk, and that was very often,' said Bishop Burnet.
'He was a learned man, but had always been in armies, and knew no
other rule but to obey orders. He told me he had no regard to any
law, but acted, as he was commanded, in a military way.' {2e}

This was the state of matters, when an outrage was committed which
gave spirit and determination to the oppressed countrymen, lit the
flame of insubordination, and for the time at least recoiled on
those who perpetrated it with redoubled force.


I love no warres,
I love no jarres,
Nor strife's fire.
May discord cease,
Let's live in peace:
This I desire.

If it must be
Warre we must see
(So fates conspire),
May we not feel
The force of steel:
This I desire.

T. JACKSON, 1651 {3a}

Upon Tuesday, November 13th, 1666, Corporal George Deanes and three
other soldiers set upon an old man in the clachan of Dalry and
demanded the payment of his fines. On the old man's refusing to
pay, they forced a large party of his neighbours to go with them
and thresh his corn. The field was a certain distance out of the
clachan, and four persons, disguised as countrymen, who had been
out on the moors all night, met this mournful drove of slaves,
compelled by the four soldiers to work for the ruin of their
friend. However, chided to the bone by their night on the hills,
and worn out by want of food, they proceeded to the village inn to
refresh themselves. Suddenly some people rushed into the room
where they were sitting, and told them that the soldiers were about
to roast the old man, naked, on his own girdle. This was too much
for them to stand, and they repaired immediately to the scene of
this gross outrage, and at first merely requested that the captive
should be released. On the refusal of the two soldiers who were in
the front room, high words were given and taken on both sides, and
the other two rushed forth from an adjoining chamber and made at
the countrymen with drawn swords. One of the latter, John M'Lellan
of Barscob, drew a pistol and shot the corporal in the body. The
pieces of tobacco-pipe with which it was loaded, to the number of
ten at least, entered him, and he was so much disturbed that he
never appears to have recovered, for we find long afterwards a
petition to the Privy Council requesting a pension for him. The
other soldiers then laid down their arms, the old man was rescued,
and the rebellion was commenced. {3b}

And now we must turn to Sir James Turner's memoirs of himself; for,
strange to say, this extraordinary man was remarkably fond of
literary composition, and wrote, besides the amusing account of his
own adventures just mentioned, a large number of essays and short
biographies, and a work on war, entitled Pallas Armata. The
following are some of the shorter pieces 'Magick,' 'Friendship,'
'Imprisonment,' 'Anger,' 'Revenge,' 'Duells,' 'Cruelty,' 'A Defence
of some of the Ceremonies of the English Liturgie--to wit--Bowing
at the Name of Jesus, The frequent repetition of the Lord's Prayer
and Good Lord deliver us, Of the Doxologie, Of Surplesses,
Rotchets, Canonnicall Coats,' etc. From what we know of his
character we should expect 'Anger' and 'Cruelty' to be very full
and instructive. But what earthly right he had to meddle with
ecclesiastical subjects it is hard to see.

Upon the 12th of the month he had received some information
concerning Gray's proceedings, but as it was excessively indefinite
in its character, he paid no attention to it. On the evening of
the 14th, Corporal Deanes was brought into Dumfries, who affirmed
stoutly that he had been shot while refusing to sign the Covenant--
a story rendered singularly unlikely by the after conduct of the
rebels. Sir James instantly dispatched orders to the cessed
soldiers either to come to Dumfries or meet him on the way to
Dalry, and commanded the thirteen or fourteen men in the town with
him to come at nine next morning to his lodging for supplies.

On the morning of Thursday the rebels arrived at Dumfries with 50
horse and 150 foot. Neilson of Corsack, and Gray, who commanded,
with a considerable troop, entered the town, and surrounded Sir
James Turner's lodging. Though it was between eight and nine
o'clock, that worthy, being unwell, was still in bed, but rose at
once and went to the window.

Neilson and some others cried, 'You may have fair quarter.'

'I need no quarter,' replied Sir James; 'nor can I be a prisoner,
seeing there is no war declared.' On being told, however, that he
must either be a prisoner or die, he came down, and went into the
street in his night-shirt. Here Gray showed himself very desirous
of killing him, but he was overruled by Corsack. However, he was
taken away a prisoner, Captain Gray mounting him on his own horse,
though, as Turner naively remarks, 'there was good reason for it,
for he mounted himself on a farre better one of mine.' A large
coffer containing his clothes and money, together with all his
papers, were taken away by the rebels. They robbed Master
Chalmers, the Episcopalian minister of Dumfries, of his horse,
drank the King's health at the market cross, and then left
Dumfries. {3c}


'Stay, passenger, take notice what thou reads,
At Edinburgh lie our bodies, here our heads;
Our right hands stood at Lanark, these we want,
Because with them we signed the Covenant.'
Epitaph on a Tombstone at Hamilton. {4a}

On Friday the 16th, Bailie Irvine of Dumfries came to the Council
at Edinburgh, and gave information concerning this 'horrid
rebellion.' In the absence of Rothes, Sharpe presided--much to the
wrath of some members; and as he imagined his own safety
endangered, his measures were most energetic. Dalzell was ordered
away to the West, the guards round the city were doubled, officers
and soldiers were forced to take the oath of allegiance, and all
lodgers were commanded to give in their names. Sharpe, surrounded
with all these guards and precautions, trembled--trembled as he
trembled when the avengers of blood drew him from his chariot on
Magus Muir,--for he knew how he had sold his trust, how he had
betrayed his charge, and he felt that against him must their
chiefest hatred be directed, against him their direst thunder-bolts
be forged. But even in his fear the apostate Presbyterian was
unrelenting, unpityingly harsh; he published in his manifesto no
promise of pardon, no inducement to submission. He said, 'If you
submit not you must die,' but never added, 'If you submit you may
live!' {4b}

Meantime the insurgents proceeded on their way. At Carsphairn they
were deserted by Captain Gray, who, doubtless in a fit of oblivion,
neglected to leave behind him the coffer containing Sir James's
money. Who he was is a mystery, unsolved by any historian; his
papers were evidently forgeries--that, and his final flight, appear
to indicate that he was an agent of the Royalists, for either the
King or the Duke of York was heard to say, 'That, if he might have
his wish, he would have them all turn rebels and go to arms.' {4c}

Upon the 18th day of the month they left Carsphairn and marched

Turner was always lodged by his captors at a good inn, frequently
at the best of which their halting-place could boast. Here many
visits were paid to him by the ministers and officers of the
insurgent force. In his description of these interviews he
displays a vein of satiric severity, admitting any kindness that
was done to him with some qualifying souvenir of former harshness,
and gloating over any injury, mistake, or folly, which it was his
chance to suffer or to hear. He appears, notwithstanding all this,
to have been on pretty good terms with his cruel 'phanaticks,' as
the following extract sufficiently proves:

'Most of the foot were lodged about the church or churchyard, and
order given to ring bells next morning for a sermon to be preached
by Mr. Welch. Maxwell of Morith, and Major M'Cullough invited me
to heare "that phanatick sermon" (for soe they merrilie called it).
They said that preaching might prove an effectual meane to turne
me, which they heartilie wished. I answered to them that I was
under guards, and that if they intended to heare that sermon, it
was probable I might likewise, for it was not like my guards wold
goe to church and leave me alone at my lodgeings. Bot to what they
said of my conversion, I said it wold be hard to turne a Turner.
Bot because I founde them in a merrie humour, I said, if I did not
come to heare Mr. Welch preach, then they might fine me in fortie
shillings Scots, which was double the suome of what I had exacted
from the phanatics.' {4d}

This took place at Ochiltree, on the 22nd day of the month. The
following is recounted by this personage with malicious glee, and
certainly, if authentic, it is a sad proof of how chaff is mixed
with wheat, and how ignorant, almost impious, persons were engaged
in this movement; nevertheless we give it, for we wish to present
with impartiality all the alleged facts to the reader:

'Towards the evening Mr. Robinsone and Mr. Crukshank gaue me a
visite; I called for some ale purposelie to heare one of them
blesse it. It fell Mr. Robinsone to seeke the blessing, who said
one of the most bombastick graces that ever I heard in my life. He
summoned God Allmightie very imperiouslie to be their secondarie
(for that was his language). "And if," said he, "thou wilt not be
our Secondarie, we will not fight for thee at all, for it is not
our cause bot thy cause; and if thou wilt not fight for our cause
and thy oune cause, then we are not obliged to fight for it. They
say," said he, "that Dukes, Earles, and Lords are coming with the
King's General against us, bot they shall be nothing bot a
threshing to us." This grace did more fullie satisfie me of the
folly and injustice of their cause, then the ale did quench my
thirst.' {4e}

Frequently the rebels made a halt near some roadside alehouse, or
in some convenient park, where Colonel Wallace, who had now taken
the command, would review the horse and foot, during which time
Turner was sent either into the alehouse or round the shoulder of
the hill, to prevent him from seeing the disorders which were
likely to arise. He was, at last, on the 25th day of the month,
between Douglas and Lanark, permitted to behold their evolutions.
'I found their horse did consist of four hundreth and fortie, and
the foot of five hundreth and upwards. . . . The horsemen were
armed for most part with suord and pistoll, some onlie with suord.
The foot with musket, pike, sith (scythe), forke, and suord; and
some with suords great and long.' He admired much the proficiency
of their cavalry, and marvelled how they had attained to it in so
short a time. {4f}

At Douglas, which they had just left on the morning of this great
wapinshaw, they were charged--awful picture of depravity!--with the
theft of a silver spoon and a nightgown. Could it be expected that
while the whole country swarmed with robbers of every description,
such a rare opportunity for plunder should be lost by rogues--that
among a thousand men, even though fighting for religion, there
should not be one Achan in the camp? At Lanark a declaration was
drawn up and signed by the chief rebels. In it occurs the

'The just sense whereof '--the sufferings of the country--'made us
choose, rather to betake ourselves to the fields for self-defence,
than to stay at home, burdened daily with the calamities of others,
and tortured with the fears of our own approaching misery.' {4g}

The whole body, too, swore the Covenant, to which ceremony the
epitaph at the head of this chapter seems to refer.

A report that Dalzell was approaching drove them from Lanark to
Bathgate, where, on the evening of Monday the 26th, the wearied
army stopped. But at twelve o'clock the cry, which served them for
a trumpet, of 'Horse! horse!' and 'Mount the prisoner!' resounded
through the night-shrouded town, and called the peasants from their
well-earned rest to toil onwards in their march. The wind howled
fiercely over the moorland; a close, thick, wetting rain descended.
Chilled to the bone, worn out with long fatigue, sinking to the
knees in mire, onward they marched to destruction. One by one the
weary peasants fell off from their ranks to sleep, and die in the
rain-soaked moor, or to seek some house by the wayside wherein to
hide till daybreak. One by one at first, then in gradually
increasing numbers, at every shelter that was seen, whole troops
left the waning squadrons, and rushed to hide themselves from the
ferocity of the tempest. To right and left nought could be
descried but the broad expanse of the moor, and the figures of
their fellow-rebels, seen dimly through the murky night, plodding
onwards through the sinking moss. Those who kept together--a
miserable few--often halted to rest themselves, and to allow their
lagging comrades to overtake them. Then onward they went again,
still hoping for assistance, reinforcement, and supplies; onward
again, through the wind, and the rain, and the darkness--onward to
their defeat at Pentland, and their scaffold at Edinburgh. It was
calculated that they lost one half of their army on that disastrous

Next night they reached the village of Colinton, four miles from
Edinburgh, where they halted for the last time. {4h}


'From Covenanters with uplifted hands,
From Remonstrators with associate bands,
Good Lord, deliver us!'
Royalist Rhyme, KIRKTON, p. 127.

Late on the fourth night of November, exactly twenty-four days
before Rullion Green, Richard and George Chaplain, merchants in
Haddington, beheld four men, clad like West-country Whigamores,
standing round some object on the ground. It was at the two-mile
cross, and within that distance from their homes. At last, to
their horror, they discovered that the recumbent figure was a livid
corpse, swathed in a blood-stained winding-sheet. {5a} Many
thought that this apparition was a portent of the deaths connected
with the Pentland Rising.

On the morning of Wednesday, the 28th of November 1666, they left
Colinton and marched to Rullion Green. There they arrived about
sunset. The position was a strong one. On the summit of a bare,
heathery spur of the Pentlands are two hillocks, and between them
lies a narrow band of flat marshy ground. On the highest of the
two mounds--that nearest the Pentlands, and on the left hand of the
main body--was the greater part of the cavalry, under Major
Learmont; on the other Barscob and the Galloway gentlemen; and in
the centre Colonel Wallace and the weak, half-armed infantry.
Their position was further strengthened by the depth of the valley
below, and the deep chasm-like course of the Rullion Burn.

The sun, going down behind the Pentlands, cast golden lights and
blue shadows on their snow-clad summits, slanted obliquely into the
rich plain before them, bathing with rosy splendour the leafless,
snow-sprinkled trees, and fading gradually into shadow in the
distance. To the south, too, they beheld a deep-shaded
amphitheatre of heather and bracken; the course of the Esk, near
Penicuik, winding about at the foot of its gorge; the broad, brown
expanse of Maw Moss; and, fading into blue indistinctness in the
south, the wild heath-clad Peeblesshire hills. In sooth, that
scene was fair, and many a yearning glance was cast over that
peaceful evening scene from the spot where the rebels awaited their
defeat; and when the fight was over, many a noble fellow lifted his
head from the blood-stained heather to strive with darkening
eyeballs to behold that landscape, over which, as over his life and
his cause, the shadows of night and of gloom were falling and

It was while waiting on this spot that the fear-inspiring cry was
raised: 'The enemy! Here come the enemy!'

Unwilling to believe their own doom--for our insurgents still hoped
for success in some negotiations for peace which had been carried
on at Colinton--they called out, 'They are some of our own.'

'They are too blacke ' (i.e. numerous), 'fie! fie! for ground to
draw up on,' cried Wallace, fully realising the want of space for
his men, and proving that it was not till after this time that his
forces were finally arranged. {5b}

First of all the battle was commenced by fifty Royalist horse sent
obliquely across the hill to attack the left wing of the rebels.
An equal number of Learmont's men met them, and, after a struggle,
drove them back. The course of the Rullion Burn prevented almost
all pursuit, and Wallace, on perceiving it, dispatched a body of
foot to occupy both the burn and some ruined sheep-walls on the
farther side.

Dalzell changed his position, and drew up his army at the foot of
the hill, on the top of which were his foes. He then dispatched a
mingled body of infantry and cavalry to attack Wallace's outpost,
but they also were driven back. A third charge produced a still
more disastrous effect, for Dalzell had to check the pursuit of his
men by a reinforcement.

These repeated checks bred a panic in the Lieutenant-General's
ranks, for several of his men flung down their arms. Urged by such
fatal symptoms, and by the approaching night, he deployed his men,
and closed in overwhelming numbers on the centre and right flank of
the insurgent army. In the increasing twilight the burning matches
of the firelocks, shimmering on barrel, halbert, and cuirass, lent
to the approaching army a picturesque effect, like a huge, many-
armed giant breathing flame into the darkness.

Placed on an overhanging hill, Welch and Semple cried aloud, 'The
God of Jacob! The God of Jacob!' and prayed with uplifted hands for
victory. {5c}

But still the Royalist troops closed in.

Captain John Paton was observed by Dalzell, who determined to
capture him with his own hands. Accordingly he charged forward,
presenting his pistols. Paton fired, but the balls hopped off
Dalzell's buff coat and fell into his boot. With the superstition
peculiar to his age, the Nonconformist concluded that his adversary
was rendered bullet-proof by enchantment, and, pulling some small
silver coins from his pocket, charged his pistol therewith.
Dalzell, seeing this, and supposing, it is likely, that Paton was
putting in larger balls, hid behind his servant, who was killed.

Meantime the outposts were forced, and the army of Wallace was
enveloped in the embrace of a hideous boa-constrictor--tightening,
closing, crushing every semblance of life from the victim enclosed
in his toils. The flanking parties of horse were forced in upon
the centre, and though, as even Turner grants, they fought with
desperation, a general flight was the result.

But when they fell there was none to sing their coronach or wail
the death-wail over them. Those who sacrificed themselves for the
peace, the liberty, and the religion of their fellow-countrymen,
lay bleaching in the field of death for long, and when at last they
were buried by charity, the peasants dug up their bodies,
desecrated their graves, and cast them once more upon the open
heath for the sorry value of their winding-sheets!

Inscription on stone at Rullion Green:

1666. REV. 12. 11. ERECTED
SEPT. 28 1738.

Back of stone:

A Cloud of Witnesses lyes here,
Who for Christ's Interest did appear,
For to restore true Liberty,
O'erturned then by tyranny.
And by proud Prelats who did Rage
Against the Lord's Own heritage.
They sacrificed were for the laws
Of Christ their king, his noble cause.
These heroes fought with great renown;
By falling got the Martyr's crown. {5e}


'They cut his hands ere he was dead,
And after that struck of his head.
His blood under the altar cries
For vengeance on Christ's enemies.'
Epitaph on Tomb at Longcross of Clermont. {6a}

Master Andrew Murray, an outed minister, residing in the Potterrow,
on the morning after the defeat, heard the sounds of cheering and
the march of many feet beneath his window. He gazed out. With
colours flying, and with music sounding, Dalzell, victorious,
entered Edinburgh. But his banners were dyed in blood, and a band
of prisoners were marched within his ranks. The old man knew it
all. That martial and triumphant strain was the death-knell of his
friends and of their cause, the rust-hued spots upon the flags were
the tokens of their courage and their death, and the prisoners were
the miserable remnant spared from death in battle to die upon the
scaffold. Poor old man! he had outlived all joy. Had he lived
longer he would have seen increasing torment and increasing woe; he
would have seen the clouds, then but gathering in mist, cast a more
than midnight darkness over his native hills, and have fallen a
victim to those bloody persecutions which, later, sent their red
memorials to the sea by many a burn. By a merciful Providence all
this was spared to him--he fell beneath the first blow; and ere
four days had passed since Rullion Green, the aged minister of God
was gathered to is fathers. {6b}

When Sharpe first heard of the rebellion, he applied to Sir
Alexander Ramsay, the Provost, for soldiers to guard his house.
Disliking their occupation, the soldiers gave him an ugly time of
it. All the night through they kept up a continuous series of
'alarms and incursions,' 'cries of "Stand!" "Give fire!"' etc.,
which forced the prelate to flee to the Castle in the morning,
hoping there to find the rest which was denied him at home. {6c}
Now, however, when all danger to himself was past, Sharpe came out
in his true colours, and scant was the justice likely to be shown
to the foes of Scottish Episcopacy when the Primate was by. The
prisoners were lodged in Haddo's Hole, a part of St. Giles'
Cathedral, where, by the kindness of Bishop Wishart, to his credit
be it spoken, they were amply supplied with food. {6d}

Some people urged, in the Council, that the promise of quarter
which had been given on the field of battle should protect the
lives of the miserable men. Sir John Gilmoure, the greatest
lawyer, gave no opinion--certainly a suggestive circumstance--but
Lord Lee declared that this would not interfere with their legal
trial, 'so to bloody executions they went.' {6e} To the number of
thirty they were condemned and executed; while two of them, Hugh
M'Kail, a young minister, and Neilson of Corsack, were tortured
with the boots.

The goods of those who perished were confiscated, and their bodies
were dismembered and distributed to different parts of the country;
'the heads of Major M'Culloch and the two Gordons,' it was
resolved, says Kirkton, 'should be pitched on the gate of
Kirkcudbright; the two Hamiltons and Strong's head should be
affixed at Hamilton, and Captain Arnot's sett on the Watter Gate at
Edinburgh. The armes of all the ten, because they hade with
uplifted hands renewed the Covenant at Lanark, were sent to the
people of that town to expiate that crime, by placing these arms on
the top of the prison.' {6f} Among these was John Neilson, the
Laird of Corsack, who saved Turner's life at Dumfries; in return
for which service Sir James attempted, though without success, to
get the poor man reprieved. One of the condemned died of his
wounds between the day of condemnation and the day of execution. '
None of them,' says Kirkton, 'would save their life by taking the
declaration and renouncing the Covenant, though it was offered to
them. . . . But never men died in Scotland so much lamented by the
people, not only spectators, but those in the country. When
Knockbreck and his brother were turned over, they clasped each
other in their armes, and so endured the pangs of death. When
Humphrey Colquhoun died, he spoke not like an ordinary citizen, but
like a heavenly minister, relating his comfortable Christian
experiences, and called for his Bible, and laid it on his wounded
arm, and read John iii. 8, and spoke upon it to the admiration of
all. But most of all, when Mr. M'Kail died, there was such a
lamentation as was never known in Scotland before; not one dry
cheek upon all the street, or in all the numberless windows in the
mercate place.' {6g}

The following passage from this speech speaks for itself and its

'Hereafter I will not talk with flesh and blood, nor think on the
world's consolations. Farewell to all my friends, whose company
hath been refreshful to me in my pilgrimage. I have done with the
light of the sun and the moon; welcome eternal light, eternal life,
everlasting love, everlasting praise, everlasting glory. Praise to
Him that sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb for ever! Bless the
Lord, O my soul, that hath pardoned all my iniquities in the blood
of His Son, and healed all my diseases. Bless Him, O all ye His
angels that excel in strength, ye ministers of His that do His
pleasure. Bless the Lord, O my soul!' {6h}

After having ascended the gallows ladder he again broke forth in
the following words of touching eloquence: 'And now I leave off to
speak any more to creatures, and begin my intercourse with God,
which shall never be broken off. Farewell father and mother,
friends and relations! Farewell the world and all delights!
Farewell meat and drink! Farewell sun, moon, and stars!--Welcome
God and Father! Welcome sweet Jesus Christ, the Mediator of the
new covenant! Welcome blessed Spirit of grace and God of all
consolation! Welcome glory! Welcome eternal life! Welcome
Death!' {6i}

At Glasgow, too, where some were executed, they caused the soldiers
to beat the drums and blow the trumpets on their closing ears.
Hideous refinement of revenge! Even the last words which drop from
the lips of a dying man--words surely the most sincere and the most
unbiassed which mortal mouth can utter--even these were looked upon
as poisoned and as poisonous. 'Drown their last accents,' was the
cry, 'lest they should lead the crowd to take their part, or at the
least to mourn their doom!' {6j} But, after all, perhaps it was
more merciful than one would think--unintentionally so, of course;
perhaps the storm of harsh and fiercely jubilant noises, the
clanging of trumpets, the rattling of drums, and the hootings and
jeerings of an unfeeling mob, which were the last they heard on
earth, might, when the mortal fight was over, when the river of
death was passed, add tenfold sweetness to the hymning of the
angels, tenfold peacefulness to the shores which they had reached.

Not content with the cruelty of these executions, some even of the
peasantry, though these were confined to the shire of Mid-Lothian,
pursued, captured, plundered, and murdered the miserable fugitives
who fell in their way. One strange story have we of these times of
blood and persecution: Kirkton the historian and popular tradition
tell us alike of a flame which often would arise from the grave, in
a moss near Carnwath, of some of those poor rebels: of how it
crept along the ground; of how it covered the house of their
murderer; and of how it scared him with its lurid glare.

Hear Daniel Defoe: {6k}

'If the poor people were by these insupportable violences made
desperate, and driven to all the extremities of a wild despair, who
can justly reflect on them when they read in the Word of God "That
oppression makes a wise man mad"? And therefore were there no
other original of the insurrection known by the name of the Rising
of Pentland, it was nothing but what the intolerable oppressions of
those times might have justified to all the world, nature having
dictated to all people a right of defence when illegally and
arbitrarily attacked in a manner not justifiable either by laws of
nature, the laws of God, or the laws of the country.'

Bear this remonstrance of Defoe's in mind, and though it is the
fashion of the day to jeer and to mock, to execrate and to contemn,
the noble band of Covenanters--though the bitter laugh at their
old-world religious views, the curl of the lip at their merits, and
the chilling silence on their bravery and their determination, are
but too rife through all society--be charitable to what was evil
and honest to what was good about the Pentland insurgents, who
fought for life and liberty, for country and religion, on the 28th
of November 1666, now just two hundred years ago.

EDINBURGH, 28th November 1866.


History is much decried; it is a tissue of errors, we are told, no
doubt correctly; and rival historians expose each other's blunders
with gratification. Yet the worst historian has a clearer view of
the period he studies than the best of us can hope to form of that
in which we live. The obscurest epoch is to-day; and that for a
thousand reasons of inchoate tendency, conflicting report, and
sheer mass and multiplicity of experience; but chiefly, perhaps, by
reason of an insidious shifting of landmarks. Parties and ideas
continually move, but not by measurable marches on a stable course;
the political soil itself steals forth by imperceptible degrees,
like a travelling glacier, carrying on its bosom not only political
parties but their flag-posts and cantonments; so that what appears
to be an eternal city founded on hills is but a flying island of
Laputa. It is for this reason in particular that we are all
becoming Socialists without knowing it; by which I would not in the
least refer to the acute case of Mr. Hyndman and his horn-blowing
supporters, sounding their trumps of a Sunday within the walls of
our individualist Jericho--but to the stealthy change that has come
over the spirit of Englishmen and English legislation. A little
while ago, and we were still for liberty; 'crowd a few more
thousands on the bench of Government,' we seemed to cry; 'keep her
head direct on liberty, and we cannot help but come to port.' This
is over; laisser faire declines in favour; our legislation grows
authoritative, grows philanthropical, bristles with new duties and
new penalties, and casts a spawn of inspectors, who now begin,
note-book in hand, to darken the face of England. It may be right
or wrong, we are not trying that; but one thing it is beyond doubt:
it is Socialism in action, and the strange thing is that we
scarcely know it.

Liberty has served us a long while, and it may be time to seek new
altars. Like all other principles, she has been proved to be self-
exclusive in the long run. She has taken wages besides (like all
other virtues) and dutifully served Mammon; so that many things we
were accustomed to admire as the benefits of freedom and common to
all were truly benefits of wealth, and took their value from our
neighbours' poverty. A few shocks of logic, a few disclosures (in
the journalistic phrase) of what the freedom of manufacturers,
landlords, or shipowners may imply for operatives, tenants, or
seamen, and we not unnaturally begin to turn to that other pole of
hope, beneficent tyranny. Freedom, to be desirable, involves
kindness, wisdom, and all the virtues of the free; but the free man
as we have seen him in action has been, as of yore, only the master
of many helots; and the slaves are still ill-fed, ill-clad, ill-
taught, ill-housed, insolently treated, and driven to their mines
and workshops by the lash of famine. So much, in other men's
affairs, we have begun to see clearly; we have begun to despair of
virtue in these other men, and from our seat in Parliament begin to
discharge upon them, thick as arrows, the host of our inspectors.
The landlord has long shaken his head over the manufacturer; those
who do business on land have lost all trust in the virtues of the
shipowner; the professions look askance upon the retail traders and
have even started their co-operative stores to ruin them; and from
out the smoke-wreaths of Birmingham a finger has begun to write
upon the wall the condemnation of the landlord. Thus, piece by
piece, do we condemn each other, and yet not perceive the
conclusion, that our whole estate is somewhat damnable. Thus,
piece by piece, each acting against his neighbour, each sawing away
the branch on which some other interest is seated, do we apply in
detail our Socialistic remedies, and yet not perceive that we are
all labouring together to bring in Socialism at large. A tendency
so stupid and so selfish is like to prove invincible; and if
Socialism be at all a practicable rule of life, there is every
chance that our grand-children will see the day and taste the
pleasures of existence in something far liker an ant-heap than any
previous human polity. And this not in the least because of the
voice of Mr. Hyndman or the horns of his followers; but by the mere
glacier movement of the political soil, bearing forward on its
bosom, apparently undisturbed, the proud camps of Whig and Tory.
If Mr. Hyndman were a man of keen humour, which is far from my
conception of his character, he might rest from his troubling and
look on: the walls of Jericho begin already to crumble and
dissolve. That great servile war, the Armageddon of money and
numbers, to which we looked forward when young, becomes more and
more unlikely; and we may rather look to see a peaceable and
blindfold evolution, the work of dull men immersed in political
tactics and dead to political results.

The principal scene of this comedy lies, of course, in the House of
Commons; it is there, besides, that the details of this new
evolution (if it proceed) will fall to be decided; so that the
state of Parliament is not only diagnostic of the present but
fatefully prophetic of the future. Well, we all know what
Parliament is, and we are all ashamed of it. We may pardon it some
faults, indeed, on the ground of Irish obstruction--a bitter trial,
which it supports with notable good humour. But the excuse is
merely local; it cannot apply to similar bodies in America and
France; and what are we to say of these? President Cleveland's
letter may serve as a picture of the one; a glance at almost any
paper will convince us of the weakness of the other. Decay appears
to have seized on the organ of popular government in every land;
and this just at the moment when we begin to bring to it, as to an
oracle of justice, the whole skein of our private affairs to be
unravelled, and ask it, like a new Messiah, to take upon itself our
frailties and play for us the part that should be played by our own
virtues. For that, in few words, is the case. We cannot trust
ourselves to behave with decency; we cannot trust our consciences;
and the remedy proposed is to elect a round number of our
neighbours, pretty much at random, and say to these: 'Be ye our
conscience; make laws so wise, and continue from year to year to
administer them so wisely, that they shall save us from ourselves
and make us righteous and happy, world without end. Amen.' And
who can look twice at the British Parliament and then seriously
bring it such a task? I am not advancing this as an argument
against Socialism: once again, nothing is further from my mind.
There are great truths in Socialism, or no one, not even Mr.
Hyndman, would be found to hold it; and if it came, and did one-
tenth part of what it offers, I for one should make it welcome.
But if it is to come, we may as well have some notion of what it
will be like; and the first thing to grasp is that our new polity
will be designed and administered (to put it courteously) with
something short of inspiration. It will be made, or will grow, in
a human parliament; and the one thing that will not very hugely
change is human nature. The Anarchists think otherwise, from which
it is only plain that they have not carried to the study of history
the lamp of human sympathy.

Given, then, our new polity, with its new waggon-load of laws, what
headmarks must we look for in the life? We chafe a good deal at
that excellent thing, the income-tax, because it brings into our
affairs the prying fingers, and exposes us to the tart words, of
the official. The official, in all degrees, is already something
of a terror to many of us. I would not willingly have to do with
even a police-constable in any other spirit than that of kindness.
I still remember in my dreams the eye-glass of a certain attache at
a certain embassy--an eyeglass that was a standing indignity to all
on whom it looked; and my next most disagreeable remembrance is of
a bracing, Republican postman in the city of San Francisco. I
lived in that city among working folk, and what my neighbours
accepted at the postman's hands--nay, what I took from him myself--
it is still distasteful to recall. The bourgeois, residing in the
upper parts of society, has but few opportunities of tasting this
peculiar bowl; but about the income-tax, as I have said, or perhaps
about a patent, or in the halls of an embassy at the hands of my
friend of the eye-glass, he occasionally sets his lips to it; and
he may thus imagine (if he has that faculty of imagination, without
which most faculties are void) how it tastes to his poorer
neighbours, who must drain it to the dregs. In every contact with
authority, with their employer, with the police, with the School
Board officer, in the hospital, or in the workhouse, they have
equally the occasion to appreciate the light-hearted civility of
the man in office; and as an experimentalist in several out-of-the-
way provinces of life, I may say it has but to be felt to be
appreciated. Well, this golden age of which we are speaking will
be the golden age of officials. In all our concerns it will be
their beloved duty to meddle, with what tact, with what obliging
words, analogy will aid us to imagine. It is likely these
gentlemen will be periodically elected; they will therefore have
their turn of being underneath, which does not always sweeten men's
conditions. The laws they will have to administer will be no
clearer than those we know to-day, and the body which is to
regulate their administration no wiser than the British Parliament.
So that upon all hands we may look for a form of servitude most
galling to the blood--servitude to many and changing masters, and
for all the slights that accompany the rule of jack-in-office. And
if the Socialistic programme be carried out with the least fulness,
we shall have lost a thing, in most respects not much to be
regretted, but as a moderator of oppression, a thing nearly
invaluable--the newspaper. For the independent journal is a
creature of capital and competition; it stands and falls with
millionaires and railway bonds and all the abuses and glories of
to-day; and as soon as the State has fairly taken its bent to
authority and philanthropy, and laid the least touch on private
property, the days of the independent journal are numbered. State
railways may be good things and so may State bakeries; but a State
newspaper will never be a very trenchant critic of the State

But again, these officials would have no sinecure. Crime would
perhaps be less, for some of the motives of crime we may suppose
would pass away. But if Socialism were carried out with any
fulness, there would be more contraventions. We see already new
sins ringing up like mustard--School Board sins, factory sins,
Merchant Shipping Act sins--none of which I would be thought to
except against in particular, but all of which, taken together,
show us that Socialism can be a hard master even in the beginning.
If it go on to such heights as we hear proposed and lauded, if it
come actually to its ideal of the ant-heap, ruled with iron
justice, the number of new contraventions will be out of all
proportion multiplied. Take the case of work alone. Man is an
idle animal. He is at least as intelligent as the ant; but
generations of advisers have in vain recommended him the ant's
example. Of those who are found truly indefatigable in business,
some are misers; some are the practisers of delightful industries,
like gardening; some are students, artists, inventors, or
discoverers, men lured forward by successive hopes; and the rest
are those who live by games of skill or hazard--financiers,
billiard-players, gamblers, and the like. But in unloved toils,
even under the prick of necessity, no man is continually sedulous.
Once eliminate the fear of starvation, once eliminate or bound the
hope of riches, and we shall see plenty of skulking and
malingering. Society will then be something not wholly unlike a
cotton plantation in the old days; with cheerful, careless,
demoralised slaves, with elected overseers, and, instead of the
planter, a chaotic popular assembly. If the blood be purposeful
and the soil strong, such a plantation may succeed, and be, indeed,
a busy ant-heap, with full granaries and long hours of leisure.
But even then I think the whip will be in the overseer's hands, and
not in vain. For, when it comes to be a question of each man doing
his own share or the rest doing more, prettiness of sentiment will
be forgotten. To dock the skulker's food is not enough; many will
rather eat haws and starve on petty pilferings than put their
shoulder to the wheel for one hour daily. For such as these, then,
the whip will be in the overseer's hand; and his own sense of
justice and the superintendence of a chaotic popular assembly will
be the only checks on its employment. Now, you may be an
industrious man and a good citizen, and yet not love, nor yet be
loved by, Dr. Fell the inspector. It is admitted by private
soldiers that the disfavour of a sergeant is an evil not to be
combated; offend the sergeant, they say, and in a brief while you
will either be disgraced or have deserted. And the sergeant can no
longer appeal to the lash. But if these things go on, we shall
see, or our sons shall see, what it is to have offended an

This for the unfortunate. But with the fortunate also, even those
whom the inspector loves, it may not be altogether well. It is
concluded that in such a state of society, supposing it to be
financially sound, the level of comfort will be high. It does not
follow: there are strange depths of idleness in man, a too-easily-
got sufficiency, as in the case of the sago-eaters, often quenching
the desire for all besides; and it is possible that the men of the
richest ant-heaps may sink even into squalor. But suppose they do
not; suppose our tricksy instrument of human nature, when we play
upon it this new tune, should respond kindly; suppose no one to be
damped and none exasperated by the new conditions, the whole
enterprise to be financially sound--a vaulting supposition--and all
the inhabitants to dwell together in a golden mean of comfort: we
have yet to ask ourselves if this be what man desire, or if it be
what man will even deign to accept for a continuance. It is
certain that man loves to eat, it is not certain that he loves that
only or that best. He is supposed to love comfort; it is not a
love, at least, that he is faithful to. He is supposed to love
happiness; it is my contention that he rather loves excitement.
Danger, enterprise, hope, the novel, the aleatory, are dearer to
man than regular meals. He does not think so when he is hungry,
but he thinks so again as soon as he is fed; and on the hypothesis
of a successful ant-heap, he would never go hungry. It would be
always after dinner in that society, as, in the land of the Lotos-
eaters, it was always afternoon; and food, which, when we have it
not, seems all-important, drops in our esteem, as soon as we have
it, to a mere prerequisite of living.

That for which man lives is not the same thing for all individuals
nor in all ages; yet it has a common base; what he seeks and what
he must have is that which will seize and hold his attention.
Regular meals and weatherproof lodgings will not do this long.
Play in its wide sense, as the artificial induction of sensation,
including all games and all arts, will, indeed, go far to keep him
conscious of himself; but in the end he wearies for realities.
Study or experiment, to some rare natures, is the unbroken pastime
of a life. These are enviable natures; people shut in the house by
sickness often bitterly envy them; but the commoner man cannot
continue to exist upon such altitudes: his feet itch for physical
adventure; his blood boils for physical dangers, pleasures, and
triumphs; his fancy, the looker after new things, cannot continue
to look for them in books and crucibles, but must seek them on the
breathing stage of life. Pinches, buffets, the glow of hope, the
shock of disappointment, furious contention with obstacles: these
are the true elixir for all vital spirits, these are what they seek
alike in their romantic enterprises and their unromantic
dissipations. When they are taken in some pinch closer than the
common, they cry, 'Catch me here again!' and sure enough you catch
them there again--perhaps before the week is out. It is as old as
Robinson Crusoe; as old as man. Our race has not been strained for
all these ages through that sieve of dangers that we call Natural
Selection, to sit down with patience in the tedium of safety; the
voices of its fathers call it forth. Already in our society as it
exists, the bourgeois is too much cottoned about for any zest in
living; he sits in his parlour out of reach of any danger, often
out of reach of any vicissitude but one of health; and there he
yawns. If the people in the next villa took pot-shots at him, he
might be killed indeed, but so long as he escaped he would find his
blood oxygenated and his views of the world brighter. If Mr.
Mallock, on his way to the publishers, should have his skirts
pinned to a wall by a javelin, it would not occur to him--at least
for several hours--to ask if life were worth living; and if such
peril were a daily matter, he would ask it never more; he would
have other things to think about, he would be living indeed--not
lying in a box with cotton, safe, but immeasurably dull. The
aleatory, whether it touch life, or fortune, or renown--whether we
explore Africa or only toss for halfpence--that is what I conceive
men to love best, and that is what we are seeking to exclude from
men's existences. Of all forms of the aleatory, that which most
commonly attends our working men--the danger of misery from want of
work--is the least inspiriting: it does not whip the blood, it
does not evoke the glory of contest; it is tragic, but it is
passive; and yet, in so far as it is aleatory, and a peril sensibly
touching them, it does truly season the men's lives. Of those who
fail, I do not speak--despair should be sacred; but to those who
even modestly succeed, the changes of their life bring interest: a
job found, a shilling saved, a dainty earned, all these are wells
of pleasure springing afresh for the successful poor; and it is not
from these but from the villa-dweller that we hear complaints of
the unworthiness of life. Much, then, as the average of the
proletariat would gain in this new state of life, they would also
lose a certain something, which would not be missed in the
beginning, but would be missed progressively and progressively
lamented. Soon there would be a looking back: there would be
tales of the old world humming in young men's ears, tales of the
tramp and the pedlar, and the hopeful emigrant. And in the stall-
fed life of the successful ant-heap--with its regular meals,
regular duties, regular pleasures, an even course of life, and fear
excluded--the vicissitudes, delights, and havens of to-day will
seem of epic breadth. This may seem a shallow observation; but the
springs by which men are moved lie much on the surface. Bread, I
believe, has always been considered first, but the circus comes
close upon its heels. Bread we suppose to be given amply; the cry
for circuses will be the louder, and if the life of our descendants
be such as we have conceived, there are two beloved pleasures on
which they will be likely to fall back: the pleasures of intrigue
and of sedition.

In all this I have supposed the ant-heap to be financially sound.
I am no economist, only a writer of fiction; but even as such, I
know one thing that bears on the economic question--I know the
imperfection of man's faculty for business. The Anarchists, who
count some rugged elements of common sense among what seem to me
their tragic errors, have said upon this matter all that I could
wish to say, and condemned beforehand great economical polities.
So far it is obvious that they are right; they may be right also in
predicting a period of communal independence, and they may even be
right in thinking that desirable. But the rise of communes is none
the less the end of economic equality, just when we were told it
was beginning. Communes will not be all equal in extent, nor in
quality of soil, nor in growth of population; nor will the surplus
produce of all be equally marketable. It will be the old story of
competing interests, only with a new unit; and, as it appears to
me, a new, inevitable danger. For the merchant and the
manufacturer, in this new world, will be a sovereign commune; it is
a sovereign power that will see its crops undersold, and its
manufactures worsted in the market. And all the more dangerous
that the sovereign power should be small. Great powers are slow to
stir; national affronts, even with the aid of newspapers, filter
slowly into popular consciousness; national losses are so unequally
shared, that one part of the population will be counting its gains
while another sits by a cold hearth. But in the sovereign commune
all will be centralised and sensitive. When jealousy springs up,
when (let us say) the commune of Poole has overreached the commune
of Dorchester, irritation will run like quicksilver throughout the
body politic; each man in Dorchester will have to suffer directly
in his diet and his dress; even the secretary, who drafts the
official correspondence, will sit down to his task embittered, as a
man who has dined ill and may expect to dine worse; and thus a
business difference between communes will take on much the same
colour as a dispute between diggers in the lawless West, and will
lead as directly to the arbitrament of blows. So that the
establishment of the communal system will not only reintroduce all
the injustices and heart-burnings of economic inequality, but will,
in all human likelihood, inaugurate a world of hedgerow warfare.
Dorchester will march on Poole, Sherborne on Dorchester, Wimborne
on both; the waggons will be fired on as they follow the highway,
the trains wrecked on the lines, the ploughman will go armed into
the field of tillage; and if we have not a return of ballad
literature, the local press at least will celebrate in a high vein
the victory of Cerne Abbas or the reverse of Toller Porcorum. At
least this will not be dull; when I was younger, I could have
welcomed such a world with relief; but it is the New-Old with a
vengeance, and irresistibly suggests the growth of military powers
and the foundation of new empires.



On the 2nd of January 1824 was issued the prospectus of the Lapsus
Linguae; or, the College Tatler; and on the 7th the first number
appeared. On Friday the 2nd of April 'Mr. Tatler became
speechless.' Its history was not all one success; for the editor
(who applies to himself the words of Iago, 'I am nothing if I am
not critical') overstepped the bounds of caution, and found himself
seriously embroiled with the powers that were. There appeared in
No. XVI. a most bitter satire upon Sir John Leslie, in which he was
compared to Falstaff, charged with puffing himself, and very
prettily censured for publishing only the first volume of a class-
book, and making all purchasers pay for both. Sir John Leslie took
up the matter angrily, visited Carfrae the publisher, and
threatened him with an action, till he was forced to turn the
hapless Lapsus out of doors. The maltreated periodical found
shelter in the shop of Huie, Infirmary Street; and No. XVII. was
duly issued from the new office. No. XVII. beheld Mr. Tatler's
humiliation, in which, with fulsome apology and not very credible
assurances of respect and admiration, he disclaims the article in
question, and advertises a new issue of No. XVI. with all
objectionable matter omitted. This, with pleasing euphemism, he
terms in a later advertisement, 'a new and improved edition.' This
was the only remarkable adventure of Mr. Tatler's brief existence;
unless we consider as such a silly Chaldee manuscript in imitation
of Blackwood, and a letter of reproof from a divinity student on
the impiety of the same dull effusion. He laments the near
approach of his end in pathetic terms. 'How shall we summon up
sufficient courage,' says he, 'to look for the last time on our
beloved little devil and his inestimable proof-sheet? How shall we
be able to pass No. 14 Infirmary Street and feel that all its
attractions are over? How shall we bid farewell for ever to that
excellent man, with the long greatcoat, wooden leg and wooden
board, who acts as our representative at the gate of Alma Mater?'
But alas! he had no choice: Mr. Tatler, whose career, he says
himself, had been successful, passed peacefully away, and has ever
since dumbly implored 'the bringing home of bell and burial.'

Alter et idem. A very different affair was the Lapsus Linguae from
the Edinburgh University Magazine. The two prospectuses alone,
laid side by side, would indicate the march of luxury and the
repeal of the paper duty. The penny bi-weekly broadside of session
1828-4 was almost wholly dedicated to Momus. Epigrams, pointless
letters, amorous verses, and University grievances are the
continual burthen of the song. But Mr. Tatler was not without a
vein of hearty humour; and his pages afford what is much better:
to wit, a good picture of student life as it then was. The
students of those polite days insisted on retaining their hats in
the class-room. There was a cab-stance in front of the College;
and 'Carriage Entrance' was posted above the main arch, on what the
writer pleases to call 'coarse, unclassic boards.' The benches of
the 'Speculative' then, as now, were red; but all other Societies
(the 'Dialectic' is the only survivor) met downstairs, in some
rooms of which it is pointedly said that 'nothing else could
conveniently be made of them.' However horrible these dungeons may
have been, it is certain that they were paid for, and that far too
heavily for the taste of session 1823-4, which found enough calls
upon its purse for porter and toasted cheese at Ambrose's, or
cranberry tarts and ginger-wine at Doull's. Duelling was still a
possibility; so much so that when two medicals fell to fisticuffs
in Adam Square, it was seriously hinted that single combat would be
the result. Last and most wonderful of all, Gall and Spurzheim
were in every one's mouth; and the Law student, after having
exhausted Byron's poetry and Scott's novels, informed the ladies of
his belief in phrenology. In the present day he would dilate on
'Red as a rose is she,' and then mention that he attends Old
Greyfriars', as a tacit claim to intellectual superiority. I do
not know that the advance is much.

But Mr. Tatler's best performances were three short papers in which
he hit off pretty smartly the idiosyncrasies of the 'Divinity,' the
'Medical,' and the 'Law' of session 1823-4. The fact that there
was no notice of the 'Arts' seems to suggest that they stood in the
same intermediate position as they do now--the epitome of student-
kind. Mr. Tatler's satire is, on the whole, good-humoured, and has
not grown superannuated in ALL its limbs. His descriptions may
limp at some points, but there are certain broad traits that apply
equally well to session 1870-1. He shows us the DIVINITY of the
period--tall, pale, and slender--his collar greasy, and his coat
bare about the seams--'his white neckcloth serving four days, and
regularly turned the third'--'the rim of his hat deficient in
wool'--and 'a weighty volume of theology under his arm.' He was
the man to buy cheap 'a snuff-box, or a dozen of pencils, or a six-
bladed knife, or a quarter of a hundred quills,' at any of the
public sale-rooms. He was noted for cheap purchases, and for
exceeding the legal tender in halfpence. He haunted 'the darkest
and remotest corner of the Theatre Gallery.' He was to be seen
issuing from 'aerial lodging-houses.' Withal, says mine author,
'there were many good points about him: he paid his landlady's
bill, read his Bible, went twice to church on Sunday, seldom swore,
was not often tipsy, and bought the Lapsus Linguae.'

The MEDICAL, again, 'wore a white greatcoat, and consequently
talked loud'--(there is something very delicious in that
CONSEQUENTLY). He wore his hat on one side. He was active,
volatile, and went to the top of Arthur's Seat on the Sunday
forenoon. He was as quiet in a debating society as he was loud in
the streets. He was reckless and imprudent: yesterday he insisted
on your sharing a bottle of claret with him (and claret was claret
then, before the cheap-and-nasty treaty), and to-morrow he asks you
for the loan of a penny to buy the last number of the Lapsus.

The student of LAW, again, was a learned man. 'He had turned over
the leaves of Justinian's Institutes, and knew that they were
written in Latin. He was well acquainted with the title-page of
Blackstone's Commentaries, and argal (as the gravedigger in Hamlet
says) he was not a person to be laughed at.' He attended the
Parliament House in the character of a critic, and could give you
stale sneers at all the celebrated speakers. He was the terror of
essayists at the Speculative or the Forensic. In social qualities
he seems to have stood unrivalled. Even in the police-office we
find him shining with undiminished lustre. 'If a CHARLIE should
find him rather noisy at an untimely hour, and venture to take him
into custody, he appears next morning like a Daniel come to
judgment. He opens his mouth to speak, and the divine precepts of
unchanging justice and Scots law flow from his tongue. The
magistrate listens in amazement, and fines him only a couple of

Such then were our predecessors and their College Magazine.
Barclay, Ambrose, Young Amos, and Fergusson were to them what the
Cafe, the Rainbow, and Rutherford's are to us. An hour's reading
in these old pages absolutely confuses us, there is so much that is
similar and so much that is different; the follies and amusements
are so like our own, and the manner of frolicking and enjoying are
so changed, that one pauses and looks about him in philosophic
judgment. The muddy quadrangle is thick with living students; but
in our eyes it swarms also with the phantasmal white greatcoats and
tilted hats of 1824. Two races meet: races alike and diverse.
Two performances are played before our eyes; but the change seems
merely of impersonators, of scenery, of costume. Plot and passion
are the same. It is the fall of the spun shilling whether seventy-
one or twenty-four has the best of it.

In a future number we hope to give a glance at the individualities
of the present, and see whether the cast shall be head or tail--
whether we or the readers of the Lapsus stand higher in the


We have now reached the difficult portion of our task. Mr. Tatler,
for all that we care, may have been as virulent as he liked about
the students of a former; but for the iron to touch our sacred
selves, for a brother of the Guild to betray its most privy
infirmities, let such a Judas look to himself as he passes on his
way to the Scots Law or the Diagnostic, below the solitary lamp at
the corner of the dark quadrangle. We confess that this idea
alarms us. We enter a protest. We bind ourselves over verbally to
keep the peace. We hope, moreover, that having thus made you
secret to our misgivings, you will excuse us if we be dull, and set
that down to caution which you might before have charged to the
account of stupidity.

The natural tendency of civilisation is to obliterate those
distinctions which are the best salt of life. All the fine old
professional flavour in language has evaporated. Your very
gravedigger has forgotten his avocation in his electorship, and
would quibble on the Franchise over Ophelia's grave, instead of
more appropriately discussing the duration of bodies under ground.
From this tendency, from this gradual attrition of life, in which
everything pointed and characteristic is being rubbed down, till
the whole world begins to slip between our fingers in smooth
undistinguishable sands, from this, we say, it follows that we must
not attempt to join Mr. Taller in his simple division of students
into LAW, DIVINITY, and MEDICAL. Nowadays the Faculties may shake
hands over their follies; and, like Mrs. Frail and Mrs. Foresight
(in Love for Love) they may stand in the doors of opposite class-
rooms, crying: 'Sister, Sister--Sister everyway!' A few
restrictions, indeed, remain to influence the followers of
individual branches of study. The Divinity, for example, must be
an avowed believer; and as this, in the present day, is unhappily
considered by many as a confession of weakness, he is fain to
choose one of two ways of gilding the distasteful orthodox bolus.
Some swallow it in a thin jelly of metaphysics; for it is even a
credit to believe in God on the evidence of some crack-jaw
philosopher, although it is a decided slur to believe in Him on His
own authority. Others again (and this we think the worst method),
finding German grammar a somewhat dry morsel, run their own little
heresy as a proof of independence; and deny one of the cardinal
doctrines that they may hold the others without being laughed at.

Besides, however, such influences as these, there is little more
distinction between the faculties than the traditionary ideal,
handed down through a long sequence of students, and getting
rounder and more featureless at each successive session. The
plague of uniformity has descended on the College. Students (and
indeed all sorts and conditions of men) now require their faculty
and character hung round their neck on a placard, like the scenes
in Shakespeare's theatre. And in the midst of all this weary
sameness, not the least common feature is the gravity of every
face. No more does the merry medical run eagerly in the clear
winter morning up the rugged sides of Arthur's Seat, and hear the
church bells begin and thicken and die away below him among the
gathered smoke of the city. He will not break Sunday to so little
purpose. He no longer finds pleasure in the mere output of his
surplus energy. He husbands his strength, and lays out walks, and
reading, and amusement with deep consideration, so that he may get
as much work and pleasure out of his body as he can, and waste none
of his energy on mere impulse, or such flat enjoyment as an
excursion in the country.

See the quadrangle in the interregnum of classes, in those two or
three minutes when it is full of passing students, and we think you
will admit that, if we have not made it 'an habitation of dragons,'
we have at least transformed it into 'a court for owls.' Solemnity
broods heavily over the enclosure; and wherever you seek it, you
will find a dearth of merriment, an absence of real youthful
enjoyment. You might as well try

'To move wild laughter in the throat of death'

as to excite any healthy stir among the bulk of this staid company.

The studious congregate about the doors of the different classes,
debating the matter of the lecture, or comparing note-books. A
reserved rivalry sunders them. Here are some deep in Greek
particles: there, others are already inhabitants of that land

'Where entity and quiddity,
'Like ghosts of defunct bodies fly -
Where Truth in person does appear
Like words congealed in northern air.'

But none of them seem to find any relish for their studies--no
pedantic love of this subject or that lights up their eyes--science
and learning are only means for a livelihood, which they have
considerately embraced and which they solemnly pursue. 'Labour's
pale priests,' their lips seem incapable of laughter, except in the
way of polite recognition of professorial wit. The stains of ink
are chronic on their meagre fingers. They walk like Saul among the

The dandies are not less subdued. In 1824 there was a noisy dapper
dandyism abroad. Vulgar, as we should now think, but yet genial--a
matter of white greatcoats and loud voices--strangely different
from the stately frippery that is rife at present. These men are
out of their element in the quadrangle. Even the small remains of
boisterous humour, which still clings to any collection of young
men, jars painfully on their morbid sensibilities; and they beat a
hasty retreat to resume their perfunctory march along Princes
Street. Flirtation is to them a great social duty, a painful
obligation, which they perform on every occasion in the same chill
official manner, and with the same commonplace advances, the same
dogged observance of traditional behaviour. The shape of their
raiment is a burden almost greater than they can bear, and they
halt in their walk to preserve the due adjustment of their trouser-
knees, till one would fancy he had mixed in a procession of Jacobs.
We speak, of course, for ourselves; but we would as soon associate
with a herd of sprightly apes as with these gloomy modern beaux.
Alas, that our Mirabels, our Valentines, even our Brummels, should
have left their mantles upon nothing more amusing!

Nor are the fast men less constrained. Solemnity, even in
dissipation, is the order of the day; and they go to the devil with
a perverse seriousness, a systematic rationalism of wickedness that
would have surprised the simpler sinners of old. Some of these men
whom we see gravely conversing on the steps have but a slender
acquaintance with each other. Their intercourse consists
principally of mutual bulletins of depravity; and, week after week,
as they meet they reckon up their items of transgression, and give
an abstract of their downward progress for approval and
encouragement. These folk form a freemasonry of their own. An
oath is the shibboleth of their sinister fellowship. Once they
hear a man swear, it is wonderful how their tongues loosen and
their bashful spirits take enlargement, under the consciousness of
brotherhood. There is no folly, no pardoning warmth of temper
about them; they are as steady-going and systematic in their own
way as the studious in theirs.

Not that we are without merry men. No. We shall not be ungrateful
to those, whose grimaces, whose ironical laughter, whose active
feet in the 'College Anthem' have beguiled so many weary hours and
added a pleasant variety to the strain of close attention. But
even these are too evidently professional in their antics. They go
about cogitating puns and inventing tricks. It is their vocation,
Hal. They are the gratuitous jesters of the class-room; and, like
the clown when he leaves the stage, their merriment too often sinks
as the bell rings the hour of liberty, and they pass forth by the
Post-Office, grave and sedate, and meditating fresh gambols for the

This is the impression left on the mind of any observing student by
too many of his fellows. They seem all frigid old men; and one
pauses to think how such an unnatural state of matters is produced.
We feel inclined to blame for it the unfortunate absence of
UNIVERSITY FEELING which is so marked a characteristic of our
Edinburgh students. Academical interests are so few and far
between--students, as students, have so little in common, except a
peevish rivalry--there is such an entire want of broad college
sympathies and ordinary college friendships, that we fancy that no
University in the kingdom is in so poor a plight. Our system is
full of anomalies. A, who cut B whilst he was a shabby student,
curries sedulously up to him and cudgels his memory for anecdotes
about him when he becomes the great so-and-so. Let there be an end
of this shy, proud reserve on the one hand, and this shuddering
fine ladyism on the other; and we think we shall find both
ourselves and the College bettered. Let it be a sufficient reason
for intercourse that two men sit together on the same benches. Let
the great A be held excused for nodding to the shabby B in Princes
Street, if he can say, 'That fellow is a student.' Once this could
be brought about, we think you would find the whole heart of the
University beat faster. We think you would find a fusion among the
students, a growth of common feelings, an increasing sympathy
between class and class, whose influence (in such a heterogeneous
company as ours) might be of incalculable value in all branches of
politics and social progress. It would do more than this. If we
could find some method of making the University a real mother to
her sons--something beyond a building of class-rooms, a Senatus and
a lottery of somewhat shabby prizes--we should strike a death-blow
at the constrained and unnatural attitude of our Society. At
present we are not a united body, but a loose gathering of
individuals, whose inherent attraction is allowed to condense them
into little knots and coteries. Our last snowball riot read us a
plain lesson on our condition. There was no party spirit--no unity
of interests. A few, who were mischievously inclined, marched off
to the College of Surgeons in a pretentious file; but even before
they reached their destination the feeble inspiration had died out
in many, and their numbers were sadly thinned. Some followed
strange gods in the direction of Drummond Street, and others slunk
back to meek good-boyism at the feet of the Professors. The same
is visible in better things. As you send a man to an English
University that he may have his prejudices rubbed off, you might
send him to Edinburgh that he may have them ingrained--rendered
indelible--fostered by sympathy into living principles of his
spirit. And the reason of it is quite plain. From this absence of
University feeling it comes that a man's friendships are always the
direct and immediate results of these very prejudices. A common
weakness is the best master of ceremonies in our quadrangle: a
mutual vice is the readiest introduction. The studious associate
with the studious alone--the dandies with the dandies. There is
nothing to force them to rub shoulders with the others; and so they
grow day by day more wedded to their own original opinions and
affections. They see through the same spectacles continually. All
broad sentiments, all real catholic humanity expires; and the mind
gets gradually stiffened into one position--becomes so habituated
to a contracted atmosphere, that it shudders and withers under the
least draught of the free air that circulates in the general field
of mankind.

Specialism in Society then is, we think, one cause of our present
state. Specialism in study is another. We doubt whether this has
ever been a good thing since the world began; but we are sure it is
much worse now than it was. Formerly, when a man became a
specialist, it was out of affection for his subject. With a
somewhat grand devotion he left all the world of Science to follow
his true love; and he contrived to find that strange pedantic
interest which inspired the man who

'Settled Hoti's business--let it be -
Properly based Oun -
Gave us the doctrine of the enclitic De,
Dead from the waist down.'

Nowadays it is quite different. Our pedantry wants even the saving
clause of Enthusiasm. The election is now matter of necessity and
not of choice. Knowledge is now too broad a field for your Jack-
of-all-Trades; and, from beautifully utilitarian reasons, he makes
his choice, draws his pen through a dozen branches of study, and
behold--John the Specialist. That this is the way to be wealthy we
shall not deny; but we hold that it is NOT the way to be healthy or
wise. The whole mind becomes narrowed and circumscribed to one
'punctual spot' of knowledge. A rank unhealthy soil breeds a
harvest of prejudices. Feeling himself above others in his one
little branch--in the classification of toadstools, or Carthaginian
history--he waxes great in his own eyes and looks down on others.
Having all his sympathies educated in one way, they die out in
every other; and he is apt to remain a peevish, narrow, and
intolerant bigot. Dilettante is now a term of reproach; but there
is a certain form of dilettantism to which no one can object. It
is this that we want among our students. We wish them to abandon
no subject until they have seen and felt its merit--to act under a
general interest in all branches of knowledge, not a commercial
eagerness to excel in one.

In both these directions our sympathies are constipated. We are
apostles of our own caste and our own subject of study, instead of
being, as we should, true men and LOVING students. Of course both
of these could be corrected by the students themselves; but this is
nothing to the purpose: it is more important to ask whether the
Senatus or the body of alumni could do nothing towards the growth
of better feeling and wider sentiments. Perhaps in another paper
we may say something upon this head.

One other word, however, before we have done. What shall we be
when we grow really old? Of yore, a man was thought to lay on
restrictions and acquire new deadweight of mournful experience with
every year, till he looked back on his youth as the very summer of
impulse and freedom. We please ourselves with thinking that it
cannot be so with us. We would fain hope that, as we have begun in
one way, we may end in another; and that when we are in fact the
octogenarians that we SEEM at present, there shall be no merrier
men on earth. It is pleasant to picture us, sunning ourselves in
Princes Street of a morning, or chirping over our evening cups,
with all the merriment that we wanted in youth.


A debating society is at first somewhat of a disappointment. You
do not often find the youthful Demosthenes chewing his pebbles in
the same room with you; or, even if you do, you will probably think
the performance little to be admired. As a general rule, the
members speak shamefully ill. The subjects of debate are heavy;
and so are the fines. The Ballot Question--oldest of dialectic
nightmares--is often found astride of a somnolent sederunt. The
Greeks and Romans, too, are reserved as sort of GENERAL-UTILITY
men, to do all the dirty work of illustration; and they fill as
many functions as the famous waterfall scene at the 'Princess's,'
which I found doing duty on one evening as a gorge in Peru, a haunt
of German robbers, and a peaceful vale in the Scottish borders.
There is a sad absence of striking argument or real lively
discussion. Indeed, you feel a growing contempt for your fellow-
members; and it is not until you rise yourself to hawk and hesitate
and sit shamefully down again, amid eleemosynary applause, that you
begin to find your level and value others rightly. Even then, even
when failure has damped your critical ardour, you will see many
things to be laughed at in the deportment of your rivals.

Most laughable, perhaps, are your indefatigable strivers after
eloquence. They are of those who 'pursue with eagerness the
phantoms of hope,' and who, since they expect that 'the
deficiencies of last sentence will be supplied by the next,' have
been recommended by Dr. Samuel Johnson to 'attend to the History of
Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia.' They are characterised by a hectic
hopefulness. Nothing damps them. They rise from the ruins of one
abortive sentence, to launch forth into another with unabated
vigour. They have all the manner of an orator. From the tone of
their voice, you would expect a splendid period--and lo! a string
of broken-backed, disjointed clauses, eked out with stammerings and
throat-clearings. They possess the art (learned from the pulpit)
of rounding an uneuphonious sentence by dwelling on a single
syllable--of striking a balance in a top-heavy period by
lengthening out a word into a melancholy quaver. Withal, they
never cease to hope. Even at last, even when they have exhausted
all their ideas, even after the would-be peroration has finally
refused to perorate, they remain upon their feet with their mouths
open, waiting for some further inspiration, like Chaucer's widow's
son in the dung-hole, after

'His throat was kit unto the nekke bone,'

in vain expectation of that seed that was to be laid upon his
tongue, and give him renewed and clearer utterance.

These men may have something to say, if they could only say it--
indeed they generally have; but the next class are people who,
having nothing to say, are cursed with a facility and an unhappy
command of words, that makes them the prime nuisances of the
society they affect. They try to cover their absence of matter by
an unwholesome vitality of delivery. They look triumphantly round
the room, as if courting applause, after a torrent of diluted
truism. They talk in a circle, harping on the same dull round of
argument, and returning again and again to the same remark with the
same sprightliness, the same irritating appearance of novelty.

After this set, any one is tolerable; so we shall merely hint at a
few other varieties. There is your man who is pre-eminently
conscientious, whose face beams with sincerity as he opens on the
negative, and who votes on the affirmative at the end, looking
round the room with an air of chastened pride. There is also the
irrelevant speaker, who rises, emits a joke or two, and then sits
down again, without ever attempting to tackle the subject of
debate. Again, we have men who ride pick-a-back on their family
reputation, or, if their family have none, identify themselves with
some well-known statesman, use his opinions, and lend him their
patronage on all occasions. This is a dangerous plan, and serves
oftener, I am afraid, to point a difference than to adorn a speech.

But alas! a striking failure may be reached without tempting
Providence by any of these ambitious tricks. Our own stature will
be found high enough for shame. The success of three simple
sentences lures us into a fatal parenthesis in the fourth, from
whose shut brackets we may never disentangle the thread of our
discourse. A momentary flush tempts us into a quotation; and we
may be left helpless in the middle of one of Pope's couplets, a
white film gathering before our eyes, and our kind friends
charitably trying to cover our disgrace by a feeble round of
applause. Amis lecteurs, this is a painful topic. It is possible
that we too, we, the 'potent, grave, and reverend' editor, may have
suffered these things, and drunk as deep as any of the cup of
shameful failure. Let us dwell no longer on so delicate a subject.

In spite, however, of these disagreeables, I should recommend any
student to suffer them with Spartan courage, as the benefits he
receives should repay him an hundredfold for them all. The life of
the debating society is a handy antidote to the life of the
classroom and quadrangle. Nothing could be conceived more
excellent as a weapon against many of those PECCANT HUMOURS that we
have been railing against in the jeremiad of our last 'College
Paper'--particularly in the field of intellect. It is a sad sight
to see our heather-scented students, our boys of seventeen, coming
up to College with determined views--roues in speculation--having
gauged the vanity of philosophy or learned to shun it as the
middle-man of heresy--a company of determined, deliberate
opinionists, not to be moved by all the sleights of logic. What
have such men to do with study? If their minds are made up
irrevocably, why burn the 'studious lamp' in search of further
confirmation? Every set opinion I hear a student deliver I feel a
certain lowering of my regard. He who studies, he who is yet
employed in groping for his premises, should keep his mind fluent
and sensitive, keen to mark flaws, and willing to surrender
untenable positions. He should keep himself teachable, or cease
the expensive farce of being taught. It is to further this docile
spirit that we desire to press the claims of debating societies.
It is as a means of melting down this museum of premature
petrifactions into living and impressionable soul that we insist on
their utility. If we could once prevail on our students to feel no
shame in avowing an uncertain attitude towards any subject, if we
could teach them that it was unnecessary for every lad to have his
opinionette on every topic, we should have gone a far way towards
bracing the intellectual tone of the coming race of thinkers; and
this it is which debating societies are so well fitted to perform.

We there meet people of every shade of opinion, and make friends
with them. We are taught to rail against a man the whole session
through, and then hob-a-nob with him at the concluding
entertainment. We find men of talent far exceeding our own, whose
conclusions are widely different from ours; and we are thus taught
to distrust ourselves. But the best means of all towards
catholicity is that wholesome rule which some folk are most
inclined to condemn--I mean the law of OBLIGED SPEECHES. Your
senior member commands; and you must take the affirmative or the
negative, just as suits his best convenience. This tends to the
most perfect liberality. It is no good hearing the arguments of an
opponent, for in good verity you rarely follow them; and even if
you do take the trouble to listen, it is merely in a captious
search for weaknesses. This is proved, I fear, in every debate;
when you hear each speaker arguing out his own prepared specialite
(he never intended speaking, of course, until some remarks of,
etc.), arguing out, I say, his own COACHED-UP subject without the
least attention to what has gone before, as utterly at sea about
the drift of his adversary's speech as Panurge when he argued with
Thaumaste, and merely linking his own prelection to the last by a
few flippant criticisms. Now, as the rule stands, you are saddled
with the side you disapprove, and so you are forced, by regard for
your own fame, to argue out, to feel with, to elaborate completely,
the case as it stands against yourself; and what a fund of wisdom
do you not turn up in this idle digging of the vineyard! How many
new difficulties take form before your eyes? how many superannuated
arguments cripple finally into limbo, under the glance of your
enforced eclecticism!

Nor is this the only merit of Debating Societies. They tend also
to foster taste, and to promote friendship between University men.
This last, as we have had occasion before to say, is the great
requirement of our student life; and it will therefore be no waste
of time if we devote a paragraph to this subject in its connection
with Debating Societies. At present they partake too much of the
nature of a clique. Friends propose friends, and mutual friends
second them, until the society degenerates into a sort of family
party. You may confirm old acquaintances, but you can rarely make
new ones. You find yourself in the atmosphere of your own daily
intercourse. Now, this is an unfortunate circumstance, which it
seems to me might readily be rectified. Our Principal has shown
himself so friendly towards all College improvements that I cherish
the hope of seeing shortly realised a certain suggestion, which is
not a new one with me, and which must often have been proposed and
canvassed heretofore--I mean, a real University Debating Society,
patronised by the Senatus, presided over by the Professors, to
which every one might gain ready admittance on sight of his
matriculation ticket, where it would be a favour and not a
necessity to speak, and where the obscure student might have
another object for attendance besides the mere desire to save his
fines: to wit, the chance of drawing on himself the favourable
consideration of his teachers. This would be merely following in
the good tendency, which has been so noticeable during all this
session, to increase and multiply student societies and clubs of
every sort. Nor would it be a matter of much difficulty. The
united societies would form a nucleus: one of the class-rooms at
first, and perhaps afterwards the great hall above the library,
might be the place of meeting. There would be no want of
attendance or enthusiasm, I am sure; for it is a very different
thing to speak under the bushel of a private club on the one hand,
and, on the other, in a public place, where a happy period or a
subtle argument may do the speaker permanent service in after life.
Such a club might end, perhaps, by rivalling the 'Union' at
Cambridge or the 'Union' at Oxford.


It is wonderful to think what a turn has been given to our whole
Society by the fact that we live under the sign of Aquarius--that
our climate is essentially wet. A mere arbitrary distinction, like
the walking-swords of yore, might have remained the symbol of
foresight and respectability, had not the raw mists and dropping
showers of our island pointed the inclination of Society to another
exponent of those virtues. A ribbon of the Legion of Honour or a
string of medals may prove a person's courage; a title may prove
his birth; a professorial chair his study and acquirement; but it
is the habitual carriage of the umbrella that is the stamp of
Respectability. The umbrella has become the acknowledged index of
social position.

Robinson Crusoe presents us with a touching instance of the
hankering after them inherent in the civilised and educated mind.
To the superficial, the hot suns of Juan Fernandez may sufficiently
account for his quaint choice of a luxury; but surely one who had
borne the hard labour of a seaman under the tropics for all these
years could have supported an excursion after goats or a peaceful
CONSTITUTIONAL arm in arm with the nude Friday. No, it was not
this: the memory of a vanished respectability called for some
outward manifestation, and the result was--an umbrella. A pious
castaway might have rigged up a belfry and solaced his Sunday
mornings with the mimicry of church-bells; but Crusoe was rather a
moralist than a pietist, and his leaf-umbrella is as fine an
example of the civilised mind striving to express itself under
adverse circumstances as we have ever met with.

It is not for nothing, either, that the umbrella has become the
very foremost badge of modern civilisation--the Urim and Thummim of
respectability. Its pregnant symbolism has taken its rise in the
most natural manner. Consider, for a moment, when umbrellas were
first introduced into this country, what manner of men would use
them, and what class would adhere to the useless but ornamental
cane. The first, without doubt, would be the hypochondriacal, out
of solicitude for their health, or the frugal, out of care for
their raiment; the second, it is equally plain, would include the
fop, the fool, and the Bobadil. Any one acquainted with the growth
of Society, and knowing out of what small seeds of cause are
produced great revolutions, and wholly new conditions of
intercourse, sees from this simple thought how the carriage of an
umbrella came to indicate frugality, judicious regard for bodily
welfare, and scorn for mere outward adornment, and, in one word,
all those homely and solid virtues implied in the term
RESPECTABILITY. Not that the umbrella's costliness has nothing to
do with its great influence. Its possession, besides symbolising
(as we have already indicated) the change from wild Esau to plain
Jacob dwelling in tents, implies a certain comfortable provision of
fortune. It is not every one that can expose twenty-six shillings'
worth of property to so many chances of loss and theft. So
strongly do we feel on this point, indeed, that we are almost
inclined to consider all who possess really well-conditioned
umbrellas as worthy of the Franchise. They have a qualification
standing in their lobbies; they carry a sufficient stake in the
common-weal below their arm. One who bears with him an umbrella--
such a complicated structure of whalebone, of silk, and of cane,
that it becomes a very microcosm of modern industry--is necessarily
a man of peace. A half-crown cane may be applied to an offender's
head on a very moderate provocation; but a six-and-twenty shilling
silk is a possession too precious to be adventured in the shock of

These are but a few glances at how umbrellas (in the general) came
to their present high estate. But the true Umbrella-Philosopher
meets with far stranger applications as he goes about the streets.

Umbrellas, like faces, acquire a certain sympathy with the
individual who carries them: indeed, they are far more capable of
betraying his trust; for whereas a face is given to us so far ready
made, and all our power over it is in frowning, and laughing, and
grimacing, during the first three or four decades of life, each
umbrella is selected from a whole shopful, as being most consonant
to the purchaser's disposition. An undoubted power of diagnosis
rests with the practised Umbrella-Philosopher. O you who lisp, and
amble, and change the fashion of your countenances--you who conceal
all these, how little do you think that you left a proof of your
weakness in our umbrella-stand--that even now, as you shake out the
folds to meet the thickening snow, we read in its ivory handle the
outward and visible sign of your snobbery, or from the exposed
gingham of its cover detect, through coat and waistcoat, the hidden
hypocrisy of the 'DICKEY'! But alas! even the umbrella is no
certain criterion. The falsity and the folly of the human race
have degraded that graceful symbol to the ends of dishonesty; and
while some umbrellas, from carelessness in selection, are not
strikingly characteristic (for it is only in what a man loves that
he displays his real nature), others, from certain prudential
motives, are chosen directly opposite to the person's disposition.
A mendacious umbrella is a sign of great moral degradation.
Hypocrisy naturally shelters itself below a silk; while the fast
youth goes to visit his religious friends armed with the decent and
reputable gingham. May it not be said of the bearers of these
inappropriate umbrellas that they go about the streets 'with a lie
in their right hand'?

The kings of Siam, as we read, besides having a graduated social
scale of umbrellas (which was a good thing), prevented the great
bulk of their subjects from having any at all, which was certainly
a bad thing. We should be sorry to believe that this Eastern
legislator was a fool--the idea of an aristocracy of umbrellas is
too philosophic to have originated in a nobody--and we have
accordingly taken exceeding pains to find out the reason of this
harsh restriction. We think we have succeeded; but, while admiring
the principle at which he aimed, and while cordially recognising in
the Siamese potentate the only man before ourselves who had taken a
real grasp of the umbrella, we must be allowed to point out how
unphilosophically the great man acted in this particular. His
object, plainly, was to prevent any unworthy persons from bearing
the sacred symbol of domestic virtues. We cannot excuse his
limiting these virtues to the circle of his court. We must only
remember that such was the feeling of the age in which he lived.
Liberalism had not yet raised the war-cry of the working classes.
But here was his mistake: it was a needless regulation. Except in
a very few cases of hypocrisy joined to a powerful intellect, men,
not by nature UMBRELLARIANS, have tried again and again to become
so by art, and yet have failed--have expended their patrimony in
the purchase of umbrella after umbrella, and yet have
systematically lost them, and have finally, with contrite spirits
and shrunken purses, given up their vain struggle, and relied on
theft and borrowing for the remainder of their lives. This is the
most remarkable fact that we have had occasion to notice; and yet
we challenge the candid reader to call it in question. Now, as
there cannot be any MORAL SELECTION in a mere dead piece of
furniture--as the umbrella cannot be supposed to have an affinity
for individual men equal and reciprocal to that which men certainly
feel toward individual umbrellas--we took the trouble of consulting
a scientific friend as to whether there was any possible physical
explanation of the phenomenon. He was unable to supply a plausible
theory, or even hypothesis; but we extract from his letter the
following interesting passage relative to the physical
peculiarities of umbrellas: 'Not the least important, and by far
the most curious property of the umbrella, is the energy which it
displays in affecting the atmospheric strata. There is no fact in
meteorology better established--indeed, it is almost the only one
on which meteorologists are agreed--than that the carriage of an
umbrella produces desiccation of the air; while if it be left at
home, aqueous vapour is largely produced, and is soon deposited in
the form of rain. No theory,' my friend continues, 'competent to
explain this hygrometric law has been given (as far as I am aware)
by Herschel, Dove, Glaisher, Tait, Buchan, or any other writer; nor
do I pretend to supply the defect. I venture, however, to throw
out the conjecture that it will be ultimately found to belong to
the same class of natural laws as that agreeable to which a slice
of toast always descends with the buttered surface downwards.'

But it is time to draw to a close. We could expatiate much longer
upon this topic, but want of space constrains us to leave

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