Part 2 out of 5
companion and I here left the railway, intending to see a little of
the valley of the Nerbada, and then to strike across the Vindhyas,
along the valley of the Tonsa, to Bhopal, making our journey by such
slow, irregular and easy stages as should be compatible with that
serene and philosophic disposition into which the Hindu's beautiful
gravity had by this time quite converted my American tendencies toward
rushing through life at the killing pace.
[Illustration: CENOTAPHS IN THE VALLEY OF THE TONSA.]
It was a little past midday when we made our first journey along the
river between the Marble Rocks. Although the weather was as nearly
perfect as weather could be, the mornings being deliciously cool and
bracing and the nights cold enough to produce often a thin layer of
ice over a pan of water left exposed till daybreak, yet the midday sun
was warm enough, especially after a walk, to make one long for leaves
and shade and the like. It would be difficult, therefore, to convey
the sensations with which we reclined at our ease in a flat-bottomed
punt while an attendant poled us up toward the "Fall of Smoke," where
the Nerbada leaps out eagerly toward the low lands he is to fertilize,
like a young poet anxious to begin his work of grace in the world. On
each side of us rose walls of marble a hundred feet in height, whose
pure white was here and there striped with dark green or black: all
the colors which met the eye--the marmoreal whites, the bluish grays
of the recesses among the ledges, the green and black seams, the
limpid blue of the stream--were grateful, calm-toned, refreshing; we
inhaled the coolness as if it had been a mild aroma out of a distant
flower. This pleasant fragrance, which seemed to come up out of
all things, was presently intensified by a sort of spiritual
counterpart--a gentle breath that blew upon us from the mysterious
regions of death; for on a _ghat_ we saw a small company of Hindus
just launching the body of a pious relative into the waters of
Mother Nerbada in all that freedom from grief, and even pleasant
contemplation, with which this singular people regard the transition
from present to future existence. These corpses, however, which are
thus committed to the wave, do not always chime so happily in with the
reveries of boating-parties on the Nerbada. The Marble Rocks are often
resorted to by pic-nic parties in the moonlit evenings; and one can
easily fancy that to have a dusky dead body float against one's boat
and sway slowly round alongside in the midst of a gay jest or of a
light song of serenade, as is said to have happened not unfrequently
here, is not an occurrence likely to heighten the spirits of revelers.
Occasionally, also, the black, ugly double snout of the _magar_ (or
Nerbada crocodile) may pop up from the surface, which may here serve
as a warning to the young lady who trails her hand in the water--and
I have yet to be in a boating-party where the young lady did not trail
her hand in the water--that on the Nerbada it is perhaps as well to
resign an absent-minded hand to the young officer who sits by her in
the boat lest Magar should snap it off.
Leaving the Nerbada we now struck off northward toward the Tonsa,
intending to pass round by way of Dumoh, Sangor, Bhilsa and Sanchi
to Bhopal. We might have pursued a route somewhat more direct by
following directly down the valley of the Nerbada to Hoshangabad,
and thence straight across to Bhopal, but my companion preferred
the circuitous route indicated, as embracing a greater variety of
interesting objects. He had procured for our conveyance a vehicle
which was in all respects suitable to the placidity of his temper; and
I make bold to confess that, American as I am--born on the railroad,
so to speak--I have never enjoyed traveling as I did in this novel
carriage. It was what is called a _chapaya_. It consisted of a body
nearly ten feet in length by more than five in breadth, and was
canopied by a top supported upon sculptured pillars of wood.
The wheels were massive and low. There were no springs; but this
deficiency was atoned for by the thick cushionment of the rear portion
of the vehicle, which allowed us to lie at full length in luxurious
ease as we rolled along. Four white bullocks, with humps and horns
running nearly straight back on the prolongation of the forehead line,
drew us along in a very stately manner at the rate of something like a
mile and a half an hour.
We were now in the Gondwana, in some particulars one of the most
interesting portions of the country. Here are the Highlands of Central
India; here rise the Nerbada and the Tapti--which flow to the westward
in a generally parallel direction, and empty into the Gulf of Cambaye,
the one at Broode and the other at Surat--as well as the Son, the
Keyn (or Cane) and the Tonsa, which flow northward into the Jumna. The
valley of the Keyn and that of the Tonsa here run across the Vindhyas,
which are known to the eastward of this as the Kyrmores, and afford
communication between Northern and Southern India. It is along the
depression of the latter stream that the railway has been built from
Jabalpur to Allahabad.
The eight hundred thousand Gonds of the Gondwana are supposed to be
members of the great autochthonal family of ancient India. These hills
of the Gondwana country appear to have been considered by the incoming
Aryans for a long time as a sort of uncanny land, whose savage
recesses were filled with demons and snakes: indeed, in the epics of
the Mahabharata and Ramayana this evil character is attributed to that
portion of India lying south of the Vindhyas. The forest of Spenser's
Fairy Queen, in which wandering knights meet with manifold beasts and
maleficent giants, and do valorous battles against them in the rescue
of damsels and the like--such seem to have been the Gondwana woods to
the ancient Hindu imagination. It was not distressed damsels,
however, whom they figured as being assisted by the arms of the errant
protectors, but religious devotees, who dwelt in the seclusion of the
forest, and who were protected from the pranks and machinations of the
savage denizens by opportune heroes of the northern race. It appears,
however, that the native demons of the Gondwana had fascinating
daughters; for presently we find the rajahs from the north coming
down and marrying them; and finally, in the fourteenth and fifteenth
centuries, the keen urgency of the conquering Mohammedans sends great
numbers of Rajputs down into the Gondwana, and a considerable mixture
of the two bloods takes place. With this incursion of Hindu peoples
come also the Hindu gods and tenets; and Mahadeo, the "great god,"
whose home had been the Kailas of the Himalayas, now finds himself
domesticated in the mountains of Central India. In the Mahadeo
mountain is still a shrine of Siva, which is much visited by pilgrims
[Illustration: THE GAUR, OR INDIAN BISON.]
The Gond--he who lives back in the hills, far off from the
neighborhood of the extensive planting districts, which have attracted
many of those living near them to become at least half-civilized
laborers in harvest-time--is a primitive being enough.
"Only look," said Bhima Gandharva, "at that hut if you desire to see
what is perhaps one of the most primitive houses since ever the banyan
tree gave to man (as is fabled) the idea of sheltering himself from
the elements artificially." It was simply made of stakes driven into
the ground, between which were wattled branches. This structure was
thatched with grass, and plastered with mud.
The Gond, like the American Indian, has his little patch of grain,
which he cultivates, however, in a fashion wholly his own. His sole
instrument of agriculture seems to be the axe. Selecting a piece of
ground which presents a growth of small and easily-cut saplings--and
perhaps, by the way, thus destroying in a few hours a whole cargo
of teak trees worth more than all the crops of his agricultural
lifetime--he hews down the growth, and in the dry season sets fire to
the fallen timber. The result is a bed of ashes over a space of two or
three acres. His soil is now ready. If the patch thus prepared happens
to be level, he simply flings out a few handfuls of grain, coarse
rice, kutki (ponicum) or kodon (paspalum), and the thing is done. The
rest is in the hands of the god who sends the rains. If the patch be
on a declivity, he places the grain at the upper part, where it will
be washed down by the rains over the balance of the field. Next year
he will burn some more wood--the first burning will have left many
charred stumps and trunks, which he supplements with a little wood
dragged from other parts of the forest--on the same spot, and so
the next year, by which time it will become necessary to begin a new
clearing, or _dhya_. The _dhya_ thus abandoned does not renew the
original growth which clothed it, like the pinelands of the Southern
United States, which, if allowed to run waste after having been
cleared and cultivated, clothe themselves either with oaks or with a
wholly different species of pine from the original growth. The waste
_dhya_, which may have perhaps nourished a splendid growth of teak,
becomes now only a dense jungle.
The Gond also raises pumpkins and beans; and this vegetable diet
he supplements with game ensnared in the _dhyas_, to which peafowl,
partridges, hares and the like resort. Many of the villages, however,
have a professional huntsman, who will display the most incredible
patience in waiting with his matchlock for the game to appear.
Besides these articles of diet, the aborigines of the Gondwana have
their mhowa tree, which stands them in much the same multifarious
stead as the palm does to its beneficiaries. The flowers of the mhowa
fall and are eaten, or are dried and pressed, being much like raisins:
they also produce a wine by fermentation and the strong liquor of the
hill-people by distillation. Of the seed cakes are made, and an oil is
expressed from them which is an article of commerce.
In addition, the poor Gond appears to have a periodical godsend
resulting from a singular habit of one of the great Indian plants.
The bamboo is said to undergo a general seeding every thirty years: at
this period, although, in the mean time, many individual bamboos may
have passed through the process of reproduction, it is said that the
whole bamboo growth of a section will simultaneously drop its leaves
and put forth large panicles of flowers, after which come great
quantities of seeds much like rice. These are gathered for food by
the inhabitants with all the greater diligence in consequence of a
tradition--which, however, does not seem to be at all supported by
facts--that the general seeding of the bamboo portends a failure of
the regular crops. The liberal forests of the Gondwana furnish still
other edibles to their denizens. The ebony plums, the wild mango,
the seeds of the sal tree, the beans of the giant banhinia creeper, a
species of arrowroot, and a wild yam, are here found and eaten.
It is not long since the Gonds had arrived at a melancholy condition
under the baleful influences of the kulars, or liquor-dealers, who
resided among them and created an extraordinary demand for their
intoxicating wares by paying for service and for produce in liquor.
The kulars have, however, been thrown into the background by wise
efforts toward their suppression, and matters have improved for the
We spent our first night in our chapaya, my companion having so
arranged matters that we were quite independent of the bungaloos which
the Englishmen have erected at suitable distances along the great
roads for the convenience of travelers. The night was clear; betwixt
the corner pillars which upheld our canopy a thousand friendly
salutations from the stars streamed in upon us; the tranquil
countenance of my friend seemed, as he lay beside me, like the face of
the Past purified of old errors and calm with great wisdom got through
great tribulation, insomuch that betwixt the Hindu and the stars I
felt myself to be at once in communication with antiquity and with
Thus we pursued our ambulatory meditations through the Gondwana. If
we had been sportsmen, we should have found full as varied a field for
the bagging of game as for that more spiritual hunt after new ideas
and sensations in which we were engaged. Gray quail, gray partridges,
painted partridges (_Francolinus pictus_), snipe and many varieties
of water-fowl, the sambor, the black antelope, the Indian gazelle or
ravine deer, the gaur or Indian bison, chewing the cud in the midday
shade or drinking from a clear stream, troops of _nilgae_ springing
out from the long grass and dwarf growth of polas and jujube trees
which covered the sites of abandoned villages and fields,--all
these revealed themselves to us in the most tempting situations. But
although I had been an ardent devotee of the double-barrel, the large
and manly tenderness which Bhima Gandharva invariably displayed toward
all animals, whether wild or tame, had wrought marvels upon me, and
I had grown fairly ashamed--nay, horrified--at the idea that anything
which a generous and brave man could call _sport_ should consist
wholly in the most keen and savage cruelties inflicted upon creatures
whom we fight at the most unknightly odds, we armed, they unarmed.
While I knew that our pleasures are by the divine order mostly
distillations from pain, I could not now help recognizing at the same
time that this circumstance was part of an enormous plan which the
slaughter of innocent creatures in the way of "sport" did in nowise
help to carry out.
The truth is, although I had been for some days wavering upon the
brink of these conclusions in a quiet way, I found the old keen ardor
of the sportsman still burning too strongly, and I had started out
with a breech-loader, intent upon doing much of the Gondwana route gun
in hand. It was not long before a thoughtless shot operated to
bring my growing convictions sharply face to face with my decreasing
practice, and thus to quite frown the latter out of existence. It
happened in this wise: One day, not far from sunset, I was walking
idly along behind the chapaya, in which Bhima Gandharva was dreamily
reclining, when suddenly a pair of great _saras_ cranes rose from the
low banks of a small stream and sailed directly across the road. Quick
as thought--indeed, quicker than thought; for if I _had_ thought, I
would not have done it--I fired, and brought down one of the monstrous
birds. As I started to approach it, Bhima Gandharva said, in a tone
just a trifle graver than usual, "Stop! wait a moment," and at the
same time halted the chapaya. The mate of the bird I had shot, seeing
him fall, alighted on the same spot, then flew up, then returned,
flew up again, returned again, with an exhibition of sad and lingering
affection of which I had not dreamed, and which penetrated me beyond
expression; so I stood half stolid outwardly and wholly ashamed
and grieved inwardly. "The saras," said my friend, "is the type of
conjugal affection among the Hindus. The birds nearly always go
in pairs; and when one is killed, the other invariably makes those
demonstrations of tenderness which you have just seen."
As we journeyed along in the dusk came notes from another pair of
feathered lovers, "chukwa, chukwi," "chukwa, chukwi," in a sort of
mournful alternation. They were the branning ducks, he on one side,
she on the other side of the stream, as is their habit, whence they
are fabled to be a pair of lovers who must yearn unavailingly through
the long nights from opposite banks of the river.
That night, when Bhima Gandharva was asleep, I gently arose, took my
double-barrel--thou dear Manton! how often has not Jonesville admired
thee returning from the field at late evening slanting at a jaunty
angle high above my bagful of snipe or of quail as the case might
be!--yes, I took this love of a gun, together with the cartridges,
accoutrements and all other rights, members and appurtenances
thereunto belonging or in any wise appertaining, and slid the whole
lot softly into a deep green pool of the very stream from which had
flown my saras.
The taste of gypsy life which I was now enjoying contributed to add
a sort of personal element to that general interest which hangs about
the curious Banjaris, whom we met constantly, with their families
and their bullocks, along our road. _Banjara_ is literally
"forest-wanderer." The women were especially notable for their tall
stature, shapely figures and erect carriage; which circumstances are
all the more wonderful from the life of hardship which they lead,
attending as they do at once to the foraging of the cattle, the
culinary preparations for the men and the cares of the children. From
the profusion of ornaments which they wore, one may imagine, however,
that they were well cared for by their lords in return for their
affectionate labors; and the general bearing of the tall Banjara who
bore a long two-handed sword gave evidence of a certain inward sense
of protection over his belongings which probably found vent in many an
affectionate gift of rings and bracelets to his graceful partner. It
must be confessed that the gypsying of these Eastern Bohemians is not
so free a life as is popularly supposed. The _naik_ or sovereign of
each _tanda_, or camp, seems to be possessed of absolute power, and in
this connection the long two-handed sword suggested much less gentle
reflections. The Banjara, however, though a nomad, is a serviceable
one, for he is engaged in trade. With his bullocks he is the carrier
of Central India, and is to be met with all over that section,
bringing salt and other commodities and returning with interior
Fra Aloysius, vexed with skeptic fears,
Nigh crazed with thought to all the saints did pray
For faith in those mysterious words that say,
"One day is with the Lord a thousand years,
A thousand years with Him are as a day."
An erudite and holy monk was he,
And yet his brethren trembled lest his brain
Should lose its poise, so long he dwelt in vain
On that perplexing verse to find its key,
And strove to make its hidden meaning plain.
Racked by a sleepless night, one fresh spring morn
Forth from the cloister Aloysius strolled.
The wood was dewy-bright, clear beams of gold
Illumined it, and to his heart was borne
A sense of freedom, peace and joy untold.
Beside a laughing brook he sat to rest,
Above whose wave did long-haired willows weep;
Midmost the dense green forest, still and deep,
Lulled by the trickling waters and possessed
By tranquil thoughts, the friar fell asleep.
And, overworn, he slept the livelong day,
Nor waked until the twilight shadows fell,
That flung a brown night o'er that leafy dell.
Then up he rose refreshed and went his way,
And, half ashamed, he heard the vesper-bell.
Back to the convent fared he; at the gate
A stranger gave him entrance, but he passed
Into the chapel with meek eyes downcast,
In truant guise returning home thus late,
And toward his wonted seat made seemly haste.
Too late! a stranger filled it. Looking round,
Amazed, he could discern no face he knew.
The abbot's self had changed; his wonder grew,
When, after the familiar chant, he found
These crazy monks held him for crazy too.
They gathered round with curious, eager eyes.
"What cloister's this?" he asked. They named its name:
The one he left that morning was the same.
His name he gave; with many a wild surmise
They guessed who he might be and whence he came.
He asked them where the abbot was at last,
From whom he parted but the night before.
"He hath been dead three hundred years and more!"
They answered with a single voice, aghast.
Then spake a friar versed in monkish lore:
"Brethren, a miracle! This man I know:
'Tis Aloysius, who, as I have read,
Beset with doubts, forth from this convent fled,
And vanished, some three hundred years ago,
And all the world hath counted him as dead."
Then Aloysius felt the blessed tears
Fulfill his eyes, whence dropped the scales away.
Kneeling, he cried, "Oh, brethren, let us pray.
One day is with the Lord a thousand years,
A thousand years with Him are as a day."
A FEW HOURS IN BOHEMIA.
The beauty of this country is that no turbulent sea confines its
borders, nor are martello-towers needed to guard its coast: no jealous
neighbor threatens its frontier, no army oppresses its citizens, and
no king can usurp its throne. Its locality is hard to define: like the
Fata Morgana, it is here to-day and gone to-morrow, for its territory
is the mind of men, and in extent it is as boundless as thought.
Natives of every clime are enrolled among its freemen, and all lands
contain its representatives, but it is in the picturesque streets of
the older continental cities of Europe, where rambling lodgings and
cheap apartments are many, that the invisible mother-country founds
her colonies. I will tell you how I went and what I saw there.
Afra was a cosmopolite, and consequently knew Bohemia, its byways and
thoroughfares. If any one could fill the office of guide thereto,
Afra could, and when one evening she rushed into my room saying, "Come
along if you want to go to Bohemia," I did not hesitate a moment, but
made ready for the journey, with the simple precaution of putting on
my bonnet and shawl.
"A cab?" I asked as we moved from the door.
"Who ever heard of entering Bohemia in a cab?" laughed Afra dryly.
"People have been known to drive _out_ in their own carriages, but
they always make their first appearance there on foot, or at best in
"As you please," I replied, trying to keep pace with her rapid step,
which showed constant practice.
"I wonder you did not propose a balloon," she continued pettishly.
"The gods don't give everything to one person: now, they give us
brains, and they give other people--money."
"If you would understand, I--"
"No, you wouldn't. I sha'n't ride in cabs until I can pay for them
myself; meanwhile, I have gros sous enough in my pocket for an omnibus
fare, and if you have the same we will stop here." At this she entered
a bureau, and as I followed I saw her get some tickets from a man who
sat behind a small counter, and then composedly sit down on a bench
while she said, "We shall have some time to wait for our luxury:" then
showing me the tickets, "Twelve and thirteen: it is a full night, and
all these people ahead of us."
"Is it a lottery?" I asked ignorantly.
"Very much of a lottery," Afra replied grimly--"like all the ways of
Bohemia, remarkably uncertain. You get a ticket for something in the
giving of the Muses, and you wait until your number is called. The
worst of it is, the most unlikely people are called before you, and
some get disgusted and leave: there goes one out at the door at this
moment. Well, he may be better or he may be worse off than those who
finally win: who knows if any race is worth the running? Still, if you
have courage to hold on, I believe there is no doubt that every one
ultimately gets something." Seeing my perplexity, she twisted the
round tickets between her fingers and added, "Do not be alarmed: these
are only good for a seat in the first empty 'bus that comes up. The
conductor will call out the numbers in rotation, and if ours is among
them we shall go. It is frightful that you have never ridden in a 'bus
before. I wonder where we should get ideas if we shut ourselves up in
cabs and never walked or were hungry or tired, and thought only of our
own comfort from morning till night? You don't know what you miss, you
poor deluded, unfortunate rich people. I will tell you of something
I saw the other evening; and, as it is worthy of a name, it shall be
called 'The Romance of an Omnibus.' Listen! isn't that our numbers I
heard? Yes: come quick or we shall lose our chance."
"Well," said I when we had successfully threaded the crowd and were
"You have no idea of the fitness of things. My story is pathetic: it
will look badly to see you drowned in tears--people will stare."
"I promise not to cry."
"Oh, if you are one of those stolid, unemotional beings who are never
moved, I sha'n't waste my tale upon you. Wait until to-morrow: we
will get Monsieur C---- to recount, and you shall hear something worth
listening to. He is a regular troubadour--has the same artless vanity
they were known to possess, their charming simplicity, their
gestures, and their power of investing everything with romance. One is
transported to the Middle Ages while he speaks: no book written on the
subject could so fully give you the flavor of the times. He recalls
Froissart. If you are not affected by C----'s stories, you had better
pretend to be. But that, I am sure, will not be necessary: a great
tragedian was lost when he became a great painter."
"Might I ask how and when and where I am to meet this wonderful man?"
"At the garden-party."
"In what way am I to get there?"
"By strategy. There is a little reunion to-night of what may be called
female Bohemians. They are going to settle the preliminaries of this
party, and if you happen to be present they will invite you; not that
they particularly care for your company, but because, as I said, you
happen to be there. Only don't get yourself into a mess by tramping on
any one's toes."
"Have they corns?"
"Yes, on every inch of surface: they are dreadfully thin-skinned. But
they hate sham even more than a hard knock, and are quicker than
a police-officer in detecting it; so be careful not to talk about
anything you are ignorant of."
"Give me a few rules, and I promise to conduct myself properly."
"Well, don't be snobbish and patronize them, and don't look shocked
at any strange opinions you hear, nor act as if you were at an animal
show and were wondering what would happen next. Be sure not to assent
when you see they wish to argue, and don't argue when they expect
acquiescence. If any of them speak in broken English, and you can't
for the life of you understand, don't ask them to repeat, but answer
immediately, for you can imagine when one has taken pains to learn a
foreign language one likes it to be appreciated, and don't--But here
we are. In short, make yourself at home, as if you had been there all
"Afra," I said, laying my hand on her arm as she took to her swift
pace again, "perhaps I had better go home: I am afraid I can't--I
"Nonsense! as if you could not get on after all those hints! Anyway,
you cannot return alone, and I am unable to go with you. Make up your
mind to blunder, and do it. There was an amateur visited the studio
about three months ago: her absurdities have lasted us for laughing
material ever since. As she is getting rather stale, you can take her
place. This is the house: come in."
With this doubtful prospect in view I followed my peremptory guide
from the narrow street into what appeared to be a spacious court, but
as the only light it received was from a blinking candle in the window
of the conciergerie, I could not determine. After exchanging some
cabalistic sentences with a toothless old woman, the proprietor of the
candle, Afra turned to the right, and walking a few steps came to a
door opening on a stairway, which we mounted. I can think of nothing
black enough for comparison with the darkness surrounding us. At last
a faint glimmer showed an old lamp standing in a corner of a hall bare
and carpetless. A series of doors flanked the place, looking to my
unaccustomed eyes all alike, but Afra without a moment's hesitation
went to one of them and knocked. It was opened by a lady, who smiled
and said, "Enter. You are just in time: school is over and the model
I found myself in a high-ceiled room, at one end of which was
suspended a row of perhaps a dozen lamps. Here, at least, there was-no
lack of light: it required some moments to accustom our eyes to the
sudden contrast. The yellow blaze was directed by reflectors into the
space immediately beneath the lamps, which left the rest of the room
pleasantly tempered. Some easels, a few chairs and screens, plaster
casts on shelves, sketches in all stages of progress on the wall,
a tea-kettle singing over a bright fire in a stove, and a curtain
enclosing a corner used as a bedroom, completed the list of furniture.
It was a night-school for lady artists. The class had finished for the
evening, and a number of the students were moving about or seated near
the fire, talking in an unlimited number of languages.
I was given several random introductions, and did my best to follow
Afra's directions; but there was an indescribable quaintness about the
appearance and manners of my new acquaintance that made it difficult
not to stare. I found, however, that little notice was taken of me,
as a lively discussion was being carried on over a study of an arm and
hand which one of them was holding up for inspection.
"It is a style I should call the lantern," said she. "The redness of
the flesh can only be accounted for on the supposition that a light is
shining through it."
"I should call it raw beef," remarked another.
"It is a shame, mademoiselle!" began the model in an injured tone.
She had been tying on her bonnet before a bit of looking-glass she
had taken from her pocket. "Does my arm look like that?" Here she
indignantly drew up her sleeve and held out that dimpled member,
meanwhile gazing wrathfully at the sketch. "It ought not to be
allowed. The silver tones of my flesh are entirely lost; and see how
you have caricatured the elegance of my beautiful hand. Will not some
one help mademoiselle to put it right before my reputation is ruined?"
"Jeanne, a model is not a critic," said the author of the drawing,
coming forward and grasping the canvas with no gentle hand.--"Ladies,
if you wish to find fault, turn to your own studies. That proportion
is frightful"--she pointed to different sketches as she spoke--"that
ear is too large; and, madame, if you take a crust of paint like yours
for freedom of touch, I pity you."
This dispute was by no means the last during the evening. Opinions
seemed to be plentiful in Bohemia, each individual being furnished
with a set of her own on every subject broached; and as no diffidence
was shown in putting them forth, the company quarreled with great
good-nature and evident enjoyment. A pot of tea was then brewed by the
owner of the studio, who had been English before she became Bohemian,
and the beverage was handed round in tea-cups which, like the opinions
of the guests, differed widely from each other. In the silence that
attended this diversion Afra took the floor and said, "How about the
garden-party to the country? Who is going?"
Several spoke, and one asked, "Shall we take lunch with us?"
"No, something will be provided for us there."
"So much the better. When are we to meet, and where?"
"Twelve o'clock, midday, at ----."
"What messieurs are going?"
"Quite a number--a tenor from the Grand Opera, and the leader of the
orchestra, who is a magnificent violinist; that new Spanish painter
who plays the guitar divinely; a poet--that is, he has written some
pretty songs--besides plenty more."
"That promises well."
"You will bring your friend?" and the speaker nodded her head toward
"I shall be delighted: I am so curious to see those eccentric--" Here
a warning glance from Afra stopped me.
But the lady only laughed and said, "You will see eccentricity enough
to-morrow, if that is what you want. People who devote their minds to
great objects have no time to think of little things. You had better
see that Afra has on her bonnet or she will go without one."
"Nonsense!" replied Afra.--"Miss," this to the owner of the studio,
who was so called in honor of her English birth, "are you ever
troubled by the ghost of that young painter who hung himself up
"Those who have occasion to commit suicide are not likely to come
back: they have had enough of this world," said the Englishwoman.
"Did some one really die here?" I asked.
"Yes, really;" and Afra mimicked my tone of horror. "You know, a
Bohemian is at home anywhere, so a change of country don't affect him
much. If we find a place disagreeable, we travel."
"Was he insane?"
"Not more than the rest of us, but _you_ can't understand the feeling
that would induce a man to do such a thing. This young fellow painted
a picture: he put his mind, his soul, himself, into it, and sent it to
the Exhibition. It was rejected--that is, he was rejected--and he came
here and died. They found him suspended from that beam where the lamps
"I thought your Bohemia was so gay?"
"So it is, but the brightest light makes the deepest shadows."
The conversation went on. These ladies discussed politics, literature,
art and society with absolute confidence. One of the topics was Alfred
de Musset. The Englishwoman was praising the English Alfred, when
a pale-faced girl, who up to this moment had been intently reading,
oblivious of all about her, closed her book with a snap (it was a
much-worn edition of one of the classics, bought for a few sous on the
quay) and broke out with--"Your Tennyson is childish. His King Arthur
puts me in mind of our Louis Philippe and his umbrella. Did you know
Louis carried an umbrella with him when he was obliged to fly from
Paris? One would have looked well held over Arthur's dragon helmet
that disagreeable night he left the queen to go and fight his nephew.
But perhaps Guinevere had lent it to Launcelot, and even the best
friends, alas! do not return umbrellas. Your poet writes in white
kid gloves, and thinks in them too. Imagine the magnificent rush and
struggle of those ancient days, the ecstasy of battle, the intensity
of life, and then read your Tennyson's milk-and-water tales, with
their modern English-menage feelings. Arthur would have been much more
likely to give his wife a beating, as did the hero of the _Nibelungen
Lied_, than that high-flown lecture; and it would have done the
Guinevere of that time more good."
"And what is your Alfred, Anita?"
"He is divine."
"After the heathen pattern. He dipped his pen in mire."
"What is mire?--water and earth. What are we?--water and earth. Mire
is humanity, and holds in itself not only the roots of the tree,
but the germ of the flower. A poet who is too delicate to plant
his thought in earth must be content to give it but the life of a
parasite: it can have no separate existence of its own."
"But one need not be bad to be great."
"Nor need one be good to be great," returned Anita sarcastically.
"Alfred de Musset was a peculiar type of a peculiar time. He did not
imagine: he felt, he lived, he was himself, and was original, like a
new variety of flower or a new species of insect. Tennyson has gleaned
from everybody's fields: our Alfred gathered only from his own. The
one is made, the other is born."
"Come away," said Afra impatiently: "no one can speak while Anita
is on her hobby. Besides, I must get home early to trim a bonnet for
to-morrow;" and without more leavetaking than a "Good-evening," which
included every one, we found ourselves in the street.
"Who is Anita?" I asked.
"She is nobody just now: what she will be remains to be seen. Her
family wish her to be an artist: she wishes to adopt the stage as a
profession, and is studying for it _sub rosa_. Did you ever see a more
"Poor thing!" I involuntarily exclaimed.
"Don't pity her," said Afra, more seriously than she had yet spoken.
"The best gift that can be bestowed upon a mortal is a strong natural
inclination for any particular life and the opportunity of following
it. The man or woman who has that can use the wheel of Fate for a
The next morning at the appointed time I met Afra at the station.
"How do I look?" she asked, standing up for my inspection as soon as I
appeared in sight, at the same time regarding as much of her dress as
it was possible for her to see. But before I could reply the satisfied
expression of her face changed: an unpleasant discovery had been
made. "I have shoes on that are not mates," she exclaimed--"cloth and
leather: that looks rather queer, doesn't it? Do you think it will be
noticed? I could not decide which pair to wear, and put on one of each
to see the effect: afterward I forgot them. Now, I suppose that would
be thought eccentric, though any one might make the same mistake. It
shows I have two pairs of shoes," she added more cheerfully, "and they
are both black. How is my bonnet?"
The bonnet was black velvet, and we were in midsummer. The material,
however, was skillfully draped with a veil, and a profusion of pink
flowers gave it a seasonable air. A crimson bow was also tied at
her neck; she complacently remarked that "pink and crimson harmonize
beautifully;" and others of the party arriving at that moment, I was
saved the trouble of making a polite answer.
The ride through ripening grain-fields and moss-thatched hamlets
need not be described; suffice it to say, it was France and June. An
omnibus was waiting at the station where we dismounted: it carried us
near, but not to, our destination. After leaving it we walked through
the streets of a low-roofed village, then followed a path bordered
with wild mignonette and apple trees that wound up the side of a hill
covered with vineyards. A couple of chattering magpies ran before
us, an invisible cuckoo was heard between snatches of Italian melody
warbled by the tenor _sotto voce_ and the little company overflowed
The house we arrived at looked as if it might be a castle in the air
materialized--pointed windows hidden in ivy, through which you saw
the chintz-covered walls of the interior; turrets on the roof and
a stair-tower; odd nooks for pigeons and cattle; the color a
weather-toned red, met by gray roofs, green trees and blue sky. We
passed through it to the quaint garden: rows of dwarf pears bordered
its paths, and trellises and walls supported nectarines and vines,
with sunshine and shadow caressing the half-ripe fruit.
The shady spaces were occupied by guests who had arrived before us,
and we saw with pleasure that ceremony had not been invited to attend.
The host's kindly manner was sufficient to put the company at once
at ease. We wandered at will from group to group, listening or
conversing: introductions were sometimes given, but more often not.
At one table some ladies and gentlemen were playing the artistic game
of "five points." A more difficult pastime was never invented. The
materials necessary are simply a piece of paper and a pencil: it is
their use that is extraordinary. A person puts five dots on the paper
in whatever position fancy may dictate: on this slight foundation
another is expected to design a figure, the puzzle being to include
all the marks given. One that I saw had four of the dots placed
unusually close together, and the fifth in a distant corner:
this latter, in the opinion of the lookers-on, would surely prove
refractory. After some moments of consideration, with pencil suspended
and eye attentive, the artist commenced drawing. In ten minutes the
sketch was finished. It was an angel: her upturned head took in the
highest of the group of dots; one hand hanging by her side the next;
a knee the third; and the flowing hem of her robe the fourth; but the
fifth in the corner--what could reach it? With a touch of the pencil
the angel's other hand appeared flinging up a censer attached to
a long chain, which struck the solitary dot like a shot amid
acclamations. To show that he did not consider the feat a _tour de
force_, the artist turned the paper, and taking the same marks drew
a devil in an entirely different attitude, the difficult point being
reached by his pitchfork. This gave rise to a learned discussion as
to whether the devil's emblematic pitchfork was not a descendant of
Neptune's trident, which I did not stay to hear, as Afra whispered she
wanted to present me to Monsieur C----, and I was taken to a gentleman
of no great height, but of such wondrous width that Nature must have
formed him in a most generous mood.
"You are American?" said this wide man to me as I was introduced, and
without waiting for a reply went on: "I like your country-people:
they admire frankly. Show them a picture, they exclaim, 'Beautiful!
magnificent! lovely! exquisite! name your price;' and they buy it.
Here the public look and look. 'Not bad,' they say, 'but the color is
from Veronese, and that attitude is surely Raphael's. What a mine that
man's genius has been to ambitious but less gifted artists!' and so
they go on. I wish they would let the dead rest in peace. Are you
acquainted with Mr. B---- of New York?"
I was obliged to say "No."
"I wish to send a message to him," he continued grandly: "tell him
that I paint now for him alone."
"You are court-painter to Mr. B----," I remarked laughingly.
"Don't speak of courts," he exclaimed pettishly. "I was to have
painted the baptism of the prince imperial for the state: it gave me
no end of annoyance, and in the end was never finished."
"I understood that you insisted on painting the little prince nude,
after the Rubens manner, and that was one ground of objection to the
design," said Afra.
"The baby would have had on plenty of clothes: one of his dresses was
sent from the Tuileries for Monsieur C---- to paint, and I sewed a
rosette on it myself." This from the painter's wife.
"A countryman of yours sat for the head of a young priest at the
ceremony. He had a fine countenance: he was studying art with me
at the time, and has since been professor of drawing at your Naval
Academy. Teaching is a sad trade--Pegasus dragging the plough."
"At least, your other great picture brought you nothing but praise."
"The public have since repented of being so good to me. Then, they
could not say enough in my favor: now, if a person asks what I am
doing, every one repeats like a parrot, 'C---- doesn't paint, C----
doesn't paint.' I have heard it so often that I begin to believe
it myself, and when I am asked join the general cry, 'C---- doesn't
I laughed, thinking this a joke, but I soon found that though
C---- might be cynical, sarcastic or bitter, though he might excite
unintentional laughter by his remarks, he was too sensitive a man to
take any but a serious view of life. The imperfections of the world
excited his disgust, his anger, never his mirth.
"Ah but, monsieur," said Afra, "you should be satisfied, and leave
some little honor for the rest of us to gather. The stories one hears
of your youth are like fairy-tales."
"And they are true," replied the artist with evident enjoyment. "In
those days I was pointed out to people when I walked the street;
which, by the way, gave rise to an odd incident. A gentleman thought
he had seen me in a crowd, but he had taken an older and taller man
for the great painter. He believed big pictures were painted by big
men, and I had not then my present circumference. This gentleman sent
me an invitation to dine with him. On the day appointed I arrived at
the house, and was met at the door by my host, a look of surprise and
annoyance on his face which he tried to conceal by a low bow, at the
same time asking politely, 'How is your father?'--'Very well, thank
you,' I returned, although I could not understand why my father's
health should be a matter of interest to him.--'You have come to
tell me of some catastrophe which prevents his attendance here
to-day?'--'Not at all: I have come to dine with you, according to this
invitation.' Here I pulled out the card, which I happened to have in
my pocket.--'Are you the person here addressed?' he said, staring at
me.--'I am'.--'I beg your pardon, there is a mistake: I meant it for
your father, the painter of the "Decadence des Romains."'--'I am the
painter of the "Decadence," but I am not my father.'--'You ought to
be an older man.'--'I should have been, monsieur, had I been born
sooner.'--At that moment a friend, overhearing the conversation and
divining the cause, came and explained to my wonder-struck host that I
was really the artist in question. With many apologies I was led into
a hall adorned with floral arches in my honor, next to a beautiful
salon, likewise decorated, and finally we reached the dining-room,
which was arranged to represent my picture. Columns wreathed with
flowers supported the roof; flowers festooned the white table-linen
and adorned the antique vessels that covered it; couches of different
colored silk were laid after the Roman fashion for the guests to
recline upon; and lovely women dressed in costly Roman costumes, their
heads crowned with flowers, were placed in the attitudes that you
will see on my celebrated canvas. Was it not a graceful tribute to my
"If a Frenchman wants to pay a compliment, he never uses one that has
done duty before, but invents something new," said Afra emphatically.
"What are you painting now, monsieur?" I asked.
"A series of pictures called 'Pierrot the Clown.' He succeeds in
tricking the world in every station of life. I am just finishing his
deathbed. All his friends are weeping about him: the doctor feels
his pulse and gives some learned name to the disease--doctors know so
much--while hidden everywhere around the room are empty bottles. The
drunken clown plays with even death for a mask."
"I thought he painted such romantic pictures," said I to Afra as we
turned from the master.
"So he does: there is one in his studio now. A girl clad in gray and
shadow--open-air shade which in his hands is so clear and luminous.
She walks along a garden-path, her head bent down, dreaming as she
goes, and unconsciously nearing a half-open gateway, through which the
sunshine is streaming. Above the rustic gate two doves are billing and
cooing. You feel sure the girl is about to pass through this typical,
sunshiny, invitingly half-open door; and--what is beyond?"
Just then we were called to lunch, a plentiful but not luxurious
repast. There was no lack of lively repartees and anecdotes, and
we had speeches and songs afterward. I wonder if I ever heard "'Tis
better to laugh than be sighing" given with more zest than on that
day? One could easily imagine that it was such an occasion as this
that had inspired it.
Lunch being over, Monsieur C---- was asked to relate one of his own
stories. I cannot give it entire, but the plot was this: A pilgrim,
whom he called poor Jacques, hearing much of heaven, set out to find
his way to the blessed abode, with only a little dog to accompany him
on the journey. As he went he met many of his contemporaries, who
had made what a walker would style but poor time. The allusions to
well-known peculiarities in the various people and their occupation in
the other life caused much amusement. For instance, Ingres the painter
was seated by the roadside playing Rossini's music on the violin, on
which instrument he was a great proficient. But he was known to detest
the Italian's music before he started heavenward: his taste must then
have grown _en route_. (Critics might object to this supposition.)
However, Jacques was anxious to push on, and spent little time
listening. But he was a good-hearted man, and, though he would
not delay for his own amusement, he could not refuse to stop when
fellow-pilgrims asked him for assistance. Little children were
continually straying from the path, and without Jacques and his little
dog would inevitably have been lost. Feeble old people were standing
looking with despair at some obstacle that without Jacques's friendly
arm they would have found it impossible to pass. Young men who never
looked where they were walking were continually calling on him for a
hand to help them out of the ditch where they had fallen; and young
girls--well, one would have supposed they had never been given feet
of their own to walk with, from the trouble they were to poor Jacques.
The worst of it was, that when all these good people were well over
their troubles they called Jacques a simpleton for his pains, and
refused to have any intercourse with him, giving him the worst side of
the road and laughing at his old-fashioned staff and scrip, and even
at his little dog, to which they gave many a sly kick. Nor was it
any wonder, for there were many in the company robed in silk, wearing
precious stones and with well-filled wallets by their sides. Jacques
was but human, and often he wished he had never set out for heaven at
all in such company; but even in their bitterest moods neither
Jacques nor the little dog could ever hear a cry of distress without
forgetting all unkindness and rushing at once to the rescue.
These labors exhausted Jacques's strength: the little dog, too, was
worn to a shadow, and so timid from ill-treatment that it was only
when some great occasion called out his mettle that you saw what a
noble little dog-heart he had. He did his best to comfort his master,
but when Jacques's sandals were worn out and his cloak in rags, and
when he looked forward and saw nothing yet of the holy city in view,
though he still tried to go forward, Nature gave way: he sank to the
ground, and the little dog licked his hands in vain to awaken him.
There is a band of angels who each night descend the holy mount
whereon is built the city, in search of such pilgrims as have failed
through fatigue to reach the gate. They are clothed in robes woven of
good deeds, which never lose their lustre, for they are renewed every
day. It was this company which found Jacques in his swoon by the
roadside. One gently touched his tired body, and more than the vigor
of youth leapt through his veins. Another whispered "Come," and he
rose and walked with them. As he moved on with eyes abashed, thinking
of the rents in his garments and regretting their poverty, he noticed
that they too were changed, and were as bright as those of his
companions. "Who has done this?" he said, venturing to address the
one that walked at his right hand. "You wore them always," he answered
with an angelic smile, "but it is this light which shows their
beauty;" and he pointed to that which streamed from the celestial
There was much applause. I saw Afra wipe a tear from her eye; only, a
thin-faced individual who sat near me whispered that it was too long.
The delicacy and pathos of expression and language it is impossible
to give, and, though old in form, the story was skillfully new in
incident; nor must I forget that the little dog slipped through the
eternal gate with his master. Some one asked the troubadour why he
did not write it out. He shook his head and threw up his hands as
he replied, "I wrote one book and gave it to a literary man for
correction. You should have seen the manuscript when he sent it home:
not a page but was scarred and cut. He called that 'style.' Now, what
did I want with style? I wanted to write as I talked."
"Certainly," said one. "What did you do?"
"I quickly put Monsieur le Redacteur's style out of my book; then
I published it. George Sand promised to write the preface, but some
busybody told her that I was attacking the whole world, so she would
have nothing to do with it. She was misled: I blamed nothing in my
book but what deserved censure."
Having heard this excellent representation of the ancient minstrel,
we were shortly given a touch of the modern usurper of the name. A
gentleman was present who in the many turns of Fortune's wheel had
once found himself a follower of the burnt-cork persuasion. He gave us
a negro melody with a lively accompaniment on the guitar. A melancholy
Spanish song followed. The company again dispersed into congenial
groups, and in the long twilight you heard the murmur of voices broken
by occasional snatches of melody or the nightingale's song.
* * * * *
"And what do you think of Bohemia?" asked Afra as we returned that
"It is different from what I expected. They are refined, and, though
frank, never rude. I think--"
Afra laughed: "You had unconsciously thought them a set of sharpers;
but there is a great difference between living by your brains and
living by your wits. My dear, you have broken bread with giants
to-day: such men live in another world that they may rule this one."
ITA ANIOL PROKOP.
PROFESSOR AND TEACHER.
The two words that recur most frequently perhaps in the discussion of
matters of education are "teacher" and "professor;" yet there are
no two that are used so carelessly and loosely. It seems as if the
thought that they may not be synonymous seldom, if ever, occurs to
those using them. If one of our writers or speakers upon education
were suddenly called upon to state exactly what he meant by a
"professor" in distinction from a "teacher," he would be at a loss for
an answer. He might reply, after some hesitation, "Why, a teacher is
a man who teaches at a school or an academy, and a professor is a man
who teaches at a college." If he were pressed still more closely, and
asked to give the precise difference between a "school or an academy"
and a "college," it is safe to assume that he would find himself
nonplussed. There are colleges in the country, some large and others
small, some old and others young, some good and others poor; but aside
from the fact that they provide a curriculum of four years and teach
a certain amount of Latin, Greek and mathematics, they do not possess
features enough in common to enable us to define with exactness "a
college." It is not in the power of language to devise a formula so
elastic as to embrace Harvard, Brown, Princeton, Trinity, Cornell
and Michigan University, without at the same time ignoring the
characteristic features of one or the other. Even if we admit that
there is a vague ideal unity underlying the so-called college system,
by virtue of which it is a system and not a mere aggregate, we shall
not make much progress in our search after the proper definition
of the term "professor." The utmost that can be said of our college
system, as a system, is that it stands on a somewhat higher plane than
the schools, that it is supposed to finish a young man's education,
and consequently that the men whom it employs for such a purpose--its
professors--are, or at least ought to be, abler men than the teachers
proper. The difference, then, between professor and teacher is one of
degree, and not of kind. Both teach, and both teach in great part the
same subjects and in substantially the same way; that is, by means
of textbook and recitation. Herein lies the explanation of the
disposition evinced by some of our best schools to call their teachers
"professors." An institution like Phillips Exeter or Andover can
scarcely be said to assume more than it is entitled to in putting
itself on an equality with Hobart College or Racine.
On turning to Germany, we observe no such laxity in the use of the
term "professor." He, and he only, is professor who "professes" to
have made himself eminent in his special branch, and whose claims have
been allowed officially by a university or by the government. He is
not even a teacher in the English or American sense. He is a scholar
and investigator who has produced results worthy of distinction, and
it is upon the strength of those results, and not because of his real
or supposed ability to impart knowledge and stimulate industry among
students, that he receives his call to a university chair.
[Footnote 1: The circumstance that some of the gymnasium-teachers in
Germany have the title of "professor" does not affect the above view.
The title has been expressly conferred upon them by the government as
a mark of special distinction, either for long services or for unusual
scholarship--in most cases for the latter. Where schools of the
highest order are so numerous as they are in Germany, it is not
surprising that they should count among their teachers men of profound
scholarship. The official recognition paid to such men is only an
additional proof of the care with which the title is used. It is given
to the teacher, not so much because he is a good teacher, as because
he has done something over and above school-room work.]
The words of one who is himself a leading professor in one of the
most renowned universities are so explicit upon this point that they
deserve to be translated and carefully studied. Heinrich von Sybel, in
his academic address delivered at Bonn in 1868, says: "The excellence
of our universities is to be found in the fact that they are not
mere institutions where instruction is given, but are workshops
of science--that their vital principle is unceasing scientific
productivity. Hence it is that the state assembles the best men of
all Germany as professors at its universities, so that the phenomenon,
common enough in England and France, of a distinguished savant without
a university chair is with us a very unusual exception. Hence it is
that in appointing to such a chair the first and last demand is for
published evidences of such activity. As for the so-called ability to
teach _(Lehrtalent im formellen Sinne),_ we are satisfied if it is not
utterly and notoriously wanting. The question upon which everything
turns is, Has the candidate given evidence of his capacity for
original investigation and production? Whoever has this capacity
is sufficiently qualified, according to our German notions, for
fulfilling the essential function of university instruction."
[Footnote 2: _Science_ is used here in the broad German sense to
denote any study, whether in the direction of natural phenomena,
history or philosophy, which is pursued systematically and with a view
to eliciting truth.]
In other words, a German professor is a man who has devoted himself
to special and original research--to "science" as Von Sybel uses the
term--and whose discoveries and works give strength and increase of
dignity to the university with which he is connected. He is
appointed upon his merits as a discoverer or an author. The further
consideration--namely, whether he is what we Americans style a "good
teacher"--was not so much as an afterthought in the minds of those who
gave him his call. The explanation of this disregard of the personal
element in the professorial character is obvious. The professor is not
called upon to teach. It does not constitute any part of his vocation
to spur up the sluggish, to keep the idle busy, to give each student
enough to do, and make first principles perfectly clear to all. So far
from coming down to the level of the students, the professor expects
that the students will make every possible exertion to rise to his
level, while he himself can scarcely be said to lend a helping hand.
To the sentimentalist, then, he might appear a very selfish mortal.
But by going beneath the surface of the relation between professor and
student, and examining into its essence, we shall find that it is an
eminently healthful relation, because it is based upon the recognition
of mutual rights and duties. The professor, as a man of science, has a
right to the free direction of his talents. The student has the right
to develop what there is in him without supervision or interference.
He is to make a man of himself by seeking diligently after the truth
in a manly, independent spirit. All that the professor can do for him
is to point out the road to the truth.
This view of the functions of a professor may appear obscure and
exaggerated to one who has not studied at a German university. But it
gives the clew to the entire German system of university education,
and accounts in great part for the high standard of scholarship. Only
in part, for the innate proneness of the German mind to research must
be credited with some share in the result. It is safe to say that
Germany, under any system, would be a land of erudition.
However pleasant it might be to go into the details of the
professional position and character in Germany, it will be more
profitable, and certainly more practical, to compare this fundamental
German idea, as already given, with the salient features of
professional life in America. The American professor, then, is a
teacher. Unless he is the fortunate occupant of an exceptionally
favored chair, his chief, and even his sole, function in the college
body is to teach, in the strictest sense of the term. He has to
prescribe textbooks, assign and hear lessons, grade recitations, mark
examination-papers, submit carefully prepared term and annual reports
to the faculty. When the question of conditioning or dismissing a
student on the ground of defective scholarship comes up for decision,
his opinion must be given and weighed in connection with that of
others, in order that the faculty may strike a fair general average.
The number of hours that he is compelled, by the college curriculum,
to pass per week in the recitation-room is seldom less than fifteen,
and may be as high as twenty. The classes themselves are ill-sorted
and often troublesome, and are usually unwieldy by reason of their
size. The professor's mind must be continually on the watch to prevent
disorder and enforce attention. Besides, as every one knows full well
who has tried it, there is nothing so exhausting as to supply "brains"
to those who either have not received their portion from Nature or
else have squandered it for a mess of pottage. Every professor-teacher
can bear witness to the truism that one hour in the recitation-room
is fully equal, in its drain upon the vital energy, to two passed in
private study or authorship. The sense of responsibility, we might
say, is omnipresent. It does not cease with the recitation: it follows
him to his study, and haunts him with the recollection of absurd
blunders made by young men who should have done better--the
dispiriting reflection that despite his best efforts the stupid and
indifferent will not learn. If to this normal wear and tear and these
every-day annoyances we add the participation in what is
pleasingly styled enforcement of discipline--that is, protracted
faculty-meetings, interviews with anxious or irate parents,
exhortations to the vicious to mend their ways--we shall probably come
to the conclusion that the professor's burden is anything but light.
We all have heavy burdens. But while admitting the universality of the
adage, we are nevertheless at liberty to ascertain if we cannot make
the burden of a particular man or class easier to bear by fitting it
to the back.
Editors, essayists, college presidents and reformers assure us that
we are on the verge of a change, and perhaps a great change, in our
system of higher education. They dilate upon the indisputable fact
that most of our older colleges have made rapid strides within
the past ten years, augmenting their endowments, erecting handsome
buildings, establishing new departments of study and increasing the
number of students. Harvard, Yale, Dartmouth, Amherst, Princeton,
Columbia, the University of Pennsylvania, were never so well off, in
point of money and men, as they are at this day. The inference is, of
course, if so much has been done in ten years, what may we not expect
by the end of the century? The University of Virginia holds its own,
notwithstanding the desolation wrought by the late civil war, and Ann
Arbor and Cornell have shot up with extraordinary vigor. There can be
no doubt that our institutions of learning are full of robust life.
And it is no less certain that this growth of resources is due to
private enterprise. Our colleges have grown because graduates, and
even non-graduates, have taken an interest in them, and endowed them
with a munificence which seems incredible to a Frenchman or a German.
But in studying the aspect of higher education it behooves us not to
lose sight of the fundamental principle that education is something
spiritual in its nature, and that it cannot be gauged by buildings,
by endowments, by the trappings of wealth--in short, by anything
material. Endowments and buildings are only the means; unless the
end to which these means are subservient be clearly perceived and
persistently followed, the means themselves may prove a hindrance
rather than a help. Of this Oxford is a notable proof.
Have, then, the end and aim, the method and agencies, of college
instruction changed essentially within the past fifteen years, or are
they likely to change essentially within the coming twenty-five? In
the year 1770 the greatest genius of Germany entered the walls of the
old university-town of Strasburg, there to complete his education. He
has bequeathed to us a faithful record of his studies, his amusements,
his daily life. Connecting this Strasburg experience with the previous
experience at Leipsic, we know what it meant in the eighteenth century
to be a German student. We know that the professors in those days were
pedagogues in the Anglo-American sense, and that university-life stood
little if at all higher than our own present college-life. But when
Goethe died, in 1832, the universities of Germany had reached their
prime. Since then they have made no gain. It may be doubted if the
professors, on the whole, rank quite so high to-day for originality
and vigor of research as did their predecessors forty years ago.
Wherein lies the secret, then, of this wonderful change wrought in
the brief span of two generations, between 1770 and 1830, and amid
the dire confusion of the great Revolution and the Napoleonic era? The
change was twofold. It consisted, first, in allowing to the professor
the free play of his individuality; second, in providing him with a
properly trained body of students. From the practical recognition
of these two principles, which have nothing to do with wealth and
buildings, proceed the power and glory of the German universities.
Viewed from the English, or even the American point, some of these
universities might be pronounced poor, not to say starvelings. The
buildings are old and out of repair, the professors are scantily paid,
the students are needy, there is a general atmosphere of want and
discomfort. But the work they do is noble, and its nobility consists
in its freedom, its heartiness, its strict devotion to truth.
We are not concerned in this place with the study of the growth of the
German school system that prepares the German student. We have to do
with the professor. Although the gymnasium and the university are
not to be dissevered in actual practice, the one being the necessary
prelude to the other, still we can discuss either one of them
separately with a view to ascertaining its salient features.
The German university allows to the professor the free play of his
individuality. By this is meant that each professor has his specialty,
which he teaches as a specialty and after his own fashion. He has been
appointed because of his specialty, and to the end that he may teach
it. His salary is paid to him, not so much for what he does as for
what he is. It is in a measure the reward for having made for himself
a name. His standing in the university is based, not so much upon the
number of students that he may attract to his lectures as upon the
quality of scholarship that he exhibits and his general repute in
the world of letters. He has the satisfaction of feeling that his
researches, even the most abstruse, can be brought to bear directly
upon his official intercourse with his students. A discovery that he
makes is usually communicated to them in the first instance, before it
finds its way into print. The neglect to take account of this element
of originality in the lectures of a German professor has led to an
unfair estimate of the lecture-system. Americans and English are apt
to regard it as merely the oral inculcation of established truths.
Were that the case, we might be right in questioning its superiority
over our method of teaching by textbook. But it is not the case.
The lecture is the vehicle for conveying the latest discoveries made
either by the professor himself or gleaned by him from the labors of
his colleagues. So far from merely repeating established truths,
it rather promulgates truths in process of establishment. German
university lectures, taken all in all, represent the most advanced
stage of thought. The instances are not infrequent where a professor
refrains from publishing his lectures, lest he should lose his
hearers, who are attracted to him by reports of his originality and
The evident tendency of such a system is to encourage productivity
and the highest degree of accuracy. A man who has to teach only one
subject, and teach it to such students only as are ready and anxious
to receive it, can afford to take the time for being thorough. The
tendency of the American system, on the other hand, is to beget a
spirit of routine and to check productivity. The professor falls
into a way of contenting himself with meeting the requirements of the
college curriculum. The effects of this curriculum upon the professors
are deeper and farther-reaching than is usually perceived. It is
in accordance with facts to call American professors, as a class,
unproductive. But it would be unjust and inconsiderate to ascribe this
want of productivity to the disposition called laziness. Laziness is
not a national fault of Americans. On the contrary, we are pushing,
active, restless: we yearn, Alexander-like, for something new to
overcome. Our professors are of the same stock as our business-men,
our lawyers, our doctors, our politicians. But the spirit of progress,
if we choose to call it by that name, has been repressed in them. The
spirit of emulation, of aggressive competition, which marks our trade,
our banking, our manufacturing interests, our railroads, and even our
professions, stops at the threshold of our colleges. There is rivalry,
true, between Harvard and Yale, for instance. If the former erects a
handsome dormitory, the latter must have one larger and finer. If the
former establishes a new professorship, the latter must do likewise.
The colleges compete among themselves. But we see no signs of
competition among the professors of a college, or between the
professors of different colleges--competition, be it observed, in the
sense that the individual professor regards his attainments and views
as a proper subject for comparison with the attainments and views of
another professor in the same branch. Once established in his chair,
his individuality is merged in the general character of the college.
His time, his knowledge and his energy are subordinated to the
curriculum. He can teach only so much as may be fitted into his share
of the time and may be suited to the capacities of a mixed audience.
It matters little whether the curriculum be good or bad, whether it
take in a wide or a narrow range of subjects, whether it be behind
or up to the times: so long as it is a real curriculum it tends to
prevent the full assertion of his individual excellence. He may study
for himself, but he cannot teach more than the regulations permit.
However advanced he may be in his specialty, however sincere and
earnest his wish to impart the choicest fruits of his research, he
must admit to himself that there is a point beyond which he is unable
to carry his students. They are borne off to something else; they have
no more time for him; they slip from his hold, perhaps at the very
moment when he flatters himself that he has acquired some formative
influence over them.
If this view of the necessary effect of a curriculum is correct,
it will enable us to set a more accurate value upon the so-called
improvements that have been introduced of late years in our colleges.
These improvements, stripped of the eclat with which they are
invested, will be found to amount to little more than expansions
and slight modifications of a system which remains unaltered in
its fundamental features. New studies have been introduced, such as
physics, chemistry, geology, the share of attention assigned to
modern languages has been increased, a higher standard of admission is
enforced, and the salaries of professors have been raised. But in
all this there is no radical change of the method of instruction. The
establishment of a chair of physics, for instance, can scarcely be
said to enable the professor of Greek to exhibit his attainments
more fully. The professor of Latin does not perceive that his pupils,
because they are now instructed in physical geography, can be carried
by him to a more advanced stage of Latin scholarship. In fact, so far
as the older studies are concerned, those which made up the curriculum
thirty years ago, they seem to be slightly the worse for the recent
improvements. The college course of 1840 or 1850 was a comparatively
simple thing. It covered only a few studies, and those of a
general nature; it taught more thoroughly and with less pretence to
universality; in short, it did its work more after the fashion of a
good school. At the present day the curriculum embraces a much wider
range of subjects--we need only recall to our minds the introduction
of general history, chemistry, physiology and the modern
languages--but the time has not been lengthened by a single year. The
student's time is more broken up than before: the direct influence
exerted by the professor is less. Our recognition of these and kindred
facts, however, should be something more than a vain regret for the
good old past. All these changes are concessions made to the spirit
of the age. Our generation demands--and very rightfully, too--that the
sphere of knowledge be enlarged, that the sciences of Nature receive
sufficient attention. To attempt to undo what has been done, to
restore the curriculum to the antiquated cadre of Latin and Greek,
trigonometry, mental science and rhetoric, would be a reaction as
senseless as hopeless.
Let us be just to ourselves and just to our colleges. We, the public,
clamored for new studies, and the colleges had to meet the demand,
because, by force of circumstances, they were the only places where
the changes could be effected. But in our praisworthy desire for
progress we have not considered sufficiently whether the colleges were
in truth the proper places for innovation; whether we were bringing
in our innovations in the right way and at the right time; whether
we were in a fair way of making our colleges what we seek to make
them--namely, centres of learning. To discuss all these points would
be equivalent to discussing the question of education in all its
phases, from the primary school to the university. For the present
we must limit ourselves to understanding and appreciating fairly the
position of our professors.
That position is not only a trying, but a discouraging one. The
greater part of the professor's time is spent--from the point of
view of pure science we might almost say wasted--in teaching the same
things over and over again. After a few years' practice his round of
hours becomes mechanical. Familiarity with the textbooks and with the
uniformly-recurring blunders of each successive class begets a feeling
of weariness that is not remote from aversion and contempt. So far
as his prescribed official duties are concerned, he feels that he has
nothing more to learn. There being, then, no stimulus from without, he
is open to one of two temptations--either to rest on his past labors,
or, which is far more likely, to keep on studying for himself, but
to keep the results to himself. It is not only more soothing to our
pride, it is juster to our professors, to regard them thus as men who
have hid their lights under a bushel, and also to confess that we, our
institutions and ways of thinking, have made the bushel for them
and held it down over their heads. It is not every man who has the
persistency and stamina of Professor Whitney, for instance, who can
toil for years with beginning classes in French and German, never
losing sight of his real aim, never neglecting an opportunity of
bringing it forward, until at last he achieves the success he has
especially desired, and is acknowledged to be one of the foremost
comparative philologists and Sanskrit scholars in the world. Where a
Professor Whitney may succeed in spite of untoward circumstances, a
dozen will probably fail because of circumstances. We naturally look
to our colleges for the evidences of learning, of enlightenment and
culture. We think of the capital invested in them, of the part they
play in moulding the character of our young men, and we deem it a
matter of course that they should be continually producing something
original and independent. But when we compare them with the German
universities--and the comparison is forced upon us whenever one of our
graduates goes abroad to complete his studies or whenever we look into
a recent German publication--we are forced to exclaim, "What are our
colleges about? Are they incompetent, or asleep?" Neither one nor
the other. Most of our professors do the best they can. But they are
fettered by routine: they are not stimulated and sustained by
the consciousness that their private studies may be made directly
available in the classroom. They lead two lives, as it were--one
as professor, the other as thinker and reader--and there is not the
proper action and reaction between the two.
The remedy is as easy to propose as it would be difficult to apply.
We have only to convert our colleges into universities, our college
instructors into professors after the German model. Let us relegate
all teaching, so called, to the schools, and let us give our
professors permission to expand into veritable scholars discoursing to
young men of kindred spirit. Any one can see at a glance that from
the wish to the accomplishment is a long way. Upon some of us the
consciousness is beginning to dawn that perhaps we have not even taken
the first decisive step. The best that can be said of our colleges is
that they are in a state of transition. We have increased the number
of studies, as well as the number of colleges; we have established
schools of law and schools of science, sometimes independent of,
sometimes co-ordinate with or subordinate to, the college. We have
also established post-graduate courses, in the hope of inducing our
young men to complete their studies at home. Yet every year we see a
larger number going abroad. In those days of golden memory, both for
Germany and for America, when Longfellow was gliding down the
Rhine with Freiligrath, and Bancroft and Bismarck were comrades at
Goettingen, an American in Germany was something of a rarity. In most
instances he was a man of wealth and high social standing, who
looked upon his semester or two as a romantic episode. But now every
outward-bound steamer carries with it one or more who, emerging from
obscurity and poverty, have saved up a few hundred dollars and are
bent upon plain, hard, practical business. "We go," they can be
imagined as saying, "because we can get in Germany what we cannot get
at home. Your schools of science and your post-graduate courses may be
well enough in their way, but they do not give us what we are after,
and we cannot afford to wait until they may be able to give it. Some
of the professors are first-rate men--perhaps just as good as any
we may meet in Germany--but what does their learning, their science,
avail us, so long as they are obliged to withhold from us the best
that they know? They trained themselves in Germany, and if we are ever
to rival them we must do the same."
It is not pleasant to listen to such reasonings, much less to see them
carried into effect. But the defect which they bring to light will not
be cured by closing our eyes to it and trusting to time, the sovereign
healer. Time is a negative factor: it only enables the forces of
Nature to do their positive work. But schools and colleges are not the
product of the elemental forces of Nature: they are distinctively
the work of man as a free agent. If we are free to shape any of our
institutions to suit our needs, we are certainly free to shape our
educational institutions. By having a definite result in view, and
willing its attainment, we may succeed; but if we fail either in
clearness of vision or persistency of will, we cannot expect the
result to come of itself. The present university system of Germany,
which might seem to a careless observer the natural outgrowth
of German life, is the result of hard thinking and strenuous,
well-directed effort. We should not commit much of an exaggeration
were we to call it the deliberate creation of Frederick the Great, Von
Zedlitz and Wolf, who dragged with them Prussia, and the other
German states in her wake. They and their associates and followers,
Schleiermacher and William von Humboldt, clear-headed, iron-willed
men, perceived what was needed, and bent all their energies to the
task. They emancipated the schools from the control of the clergy,
and established the principle that teaching is a distinct vocation,
requiring special training, over which the state has supervision;
furthermore, that the state should pronounce who is fit and who is
not fit for university education, thereby abolishing
entrance-examinations, and putting an end to the ignoble practice on
the part of the universities of lowering the standard for the purpose
of increasing the number of students. They abolished the last vestiges
of the scholastic system by raising the faculty of philosophy from its
position as a quasi-preparatory course to the others, and placing it
on a footing of perfect equality with law, theology and medicine.
They removed all restrictions from the _Lehrfreiheit_, or professional
freedom of instruction, while at the same time they preserved the
right of the state to control indirectly the quality of university
instruction by means of state-examinations for pastors, teachers,
lawyers, physicians and officeholders. Ever since then the university
system of Germany has rested upon a secure and lasting basis.
[Footnote 3: The subordination of the philosophical faculty as a sort
of preparatory course to the others remained in force in Austria until
1850. It is not surprising, then, that Austria should have compared
so unfavorably with Germany in philology, history, philosophy and
literary criticism until within our own times.]
Is the course pursued by Prussia to be regarded as a mere incident in
history, or may it serve as an example and model for us? Prussia is a
monarchy, clothed with some constitutional forms but at bottom a
state where the personal will of the sovereign has always made,
and continues to make, itself felt in the final instance. We are
a republic, or rather a cluster of republics under an imperfectly
centralized national government. It is evident that the agencies and
mode of reform with us must differ from those that have been employed
in Prussia and in the rest of Germany. But it does not follow that
the reform itself is impossible. What has elsewhere sprung from the
autocratic will of a single man and his cabinet may be effected here
through that other force, equally great and perhaps more pervasive,
to which we give the vague name of "popular opinion." We know that
popular opinion in our country is irresistible. It makes everything
bend to it. It broke up the Tweed Ring, seemingly impregnable, in a
single campaign. But this popular opinion is not a natural product: it
is the work of a few men who devote themselves to awakening the sense
of right and wrong and guiding the understanding of their fellows.
But for popular leaders like Mr. O'Conor and Governor Tilden, the
late Tweed Ring might be in power at this day. Education is not
so different from politics but that we can regard it as subject to
similar laws of cause and effect. Our present common-school system is
an off-spring of popular opinion, as that opinion was created and led
to action by a few men. And whether our common schools are to stand
or fall is again becoming a question of the day, and will be decided
according as popular opinion may be swayed by a few zealous friends or
enemies. Our colleges, it may be said, do not occupy the same
relation to the state that our schools do. They are nearly all private
corporations, enjoying vested rights which the state is powerless to
touch. Undoubtedly true, but it is no less true that what cannot be
done directly may be done indirectly. The state need not make so much
as the attempt to lay hands upon college property or to interfere with
college studies. It has only to say, "I, the state, exact such and
such qualifications of all who seek to practice law or medicine within
my limits or to become my officeholders. I establish my own free
colleges and schools of law and medicine, and I proceed to tax
all others at their full valuation." There is not a college in the
country, not even Harvard, that could compete upon such terms. The
state need not even express its sovereign will so precisely. It
can content itself with establishing a university of its own, and
facilitating the direct influence of this university over the public
and private schools. We see the operations of such a system very
plainly in Michigan. Not only does the university at Ann Arbor
overshadow completely the private colleges, but the "union schools,"
administered under its auspices, are--to borrow the expression of one
of its graduates--"killing" the private schools. We may rest assured
that whatever the people of a State or of the United States is
earnestly bent upon having, will come.
Whether all our States are to act as Michigan has done--whether we are
indeed ripe for thorough change--whether a change is to be effected
by direct State action or indirectly by the mere pressure of public
sentiment--whether we have real need of a body of professors and a set
of universities such as Germany possesses--whether we are to make
our higher as well as our primary education non-sectarian,--are all
questions which may rest in abeyance for a long time to come. It is
also possible that one or the other of them may, in legal phraseology,
be sprung upon us at any time. Not to be taken unawares, we have
to bear steadily in mind several fixed principles and to disabuse
ourselves of one misconception.
The misconception is this: that what Germany accomplished in the
eighteenth century we cannot accomplish in the nineteenth, because
circumstances are so very different, chiefly because Germany is an old
country and we are a young country. The circumstances are not so very
different, and the difference, however great it may be estimated, is
in our favor. We are a union of thirty or forty States: in the Germany
of the eighteenth century there were three hundred. Ever since the
adoption of our Federal Constitution we have enjoyed common rights of
citizenship, common laws of commerce, common legal protection. Will
it be necessary to remind the student of history that the Germans have
acquired these blessings only within our own day? We are a nation of
forty millions, rich and prosperous, free to develop our resources.
The Germany of 1775 could count barely twenty millions, its soil was
poorly tilled, its mineral wealth undeveloped, manufactures in an
embryonic state, trade fettered in a thousand ways, the peasantry
brutally ignorant and servile, the national character--to all
appearance--ruined by cruel religious wars, the sense of national
unity blunted by the recollections of a hundred petty feuds reaching
back to the gloom of the Middle Ages, the national taste dominated by
poor French models to an extent that now seems incredible, learning
either dry pedantry or shallow cox-combry. We are indeed a young
country, but we are young in hope; Germany was old, but it was old in
weakness, in poverty, in despondency. Whoever doubts our ability to do
as much as Germany did one hundred years ago, fails to profit by the
teachings of history--overlooks the fact that Germany in 1840 was
only where she had been in 1618. That we should take Germany for our
standard of comparison, rather than England or France, is a postulate
which has one circumstance unmistakably in its favor. Although we are
connected with England by common descent, institutions and language,
although the politics and philosophy of France have exerted
considerable influence over our own, we do not observe our young
men going in numbers to England and France to receive their final
training. Their instinct leads them to Germany. For one American
graduate of Oxford or Cambridge or of the French _ecoles_, it would
be easy to count ten doctors of Goettingen or Heidelberg. Our young
men are not attracted to the German universities by such factitious
considerations as cheapness of living or the acquisition of the
language, but by sympathy with German methods and academic liberty.
Some of the most important fixed principles have been already touched
upon, but only one can be developed in this place. It is, that if
we are to establish a system of higher education, we must begin by
recognizing freely and fully the distinction between teacher and
professor. We must perceive the importance of having two sets of
men--the one to teach, the other to investigate; the one engaged in
training boys to learn, the other in showing young men how to think.
When and how this distinction is to be established, in what special
form it is to be embodied, is a secondary matter. The chief thing is
to admit that it is essential and feasible. The young man who returns
after a three years' absence in Germany, exhibiting with dignified
pride his well-earned doctor's diploma, looks of course upon the
institution that conferred it as the _ne plus ultra_. But riper
experience, contact with the sharp corners of American prejudices
and peculiarities, renewed familiarity with our social, political,
commercial and literary life, will gradually convince him that a
German university is not a thing to be plucked up by the roots and
transplanted bodily to American soil. We have rather to take our
native stock as we find it, and engraft upon it a slip from the
German. One trial may fail, another may succeed. Our first efforts
will be like those of a man groping about in the dark. More than
one department in a German university will be of little avail in an
American, and conversely we shall have to create some that do not
exist elsewhere. For instance, in view of the great power exerted by
the newspaper press, it might be desirable to have a course of study
for those who think of taking up journalism as a profession. In such
a course, political economy, constitutional and international law,
English and American history, and the modern languages and literatures
should constitute a full and serious discipline. It is not probable
that the study of philology will ever attract the same attention here
that it does abroad. Our needs lie in the direction of the natural
sciences rather than in the direction of history and linguistics. But
we should be derelict to our duty were we to sacrifice these sciences
of the spirit, as the Germans call them, to the sciences of Nature.
A culture without them would be the bleakest and most repulsive
The practical recognition of the difference between teacher and
professor would be a decided step. By the side of it those which
we have already taken would appear insignificant. The addition of
chemistry, geology, or physiology to the previous curriculum does
not change its character, so long as the professors of those branches
instruct after the fashion of the professors of Latin and Greek. The
advantage that the men of natural science have over their colleagues
is one which the nature of the subject brings with it. In order to
teach at all, they must come in close personal contact with their
pupils, and to escape falling behind in their department, where
new theories succeed one another with such rapid bounds, they must
continue a certain amount at least of original research. Supplementing
the present curriculum by post-graduate courses will hardly suffice.
Such courses are open to serious objections. If conducted by the
regular professors, they impose additional burdens upon men who have
already more than enough. If conducted by special professors, they
will tend to raise those professors at the expense of the regular
faculty. A lecturer to graduates must necessarily appear, in the eyes
of the undergraduate, superior to the man who hears recitations and
prepares term-reports. Besides, young men who have passed four years
at one college need "a change of air:" they will develop more rapidly
if brought into contact with new ideas and new instructors. Every
institution has an atmosphere of its own, which ceases after a time to
act upon the student as a stimulant.
There is one additional point that should not be overlooked. A careful
discrimination between the functions of the professor and those of the
teacher would benefit both classes of men. Such has been the effect in
Germany. The gymnasium-teacher has a high sense of the dignity of
his vocation and a keen sense of its responsibilities, because he
perceives that he must bring his labors to a well-rounded conclusion.
He knows that the university does not supplement the gymnasium--that
the university professors do not undertake to make good his
shortcomings. The gymnasial course is a completed phase of training.
It aims at giving the pupil all the general knowledge that he requires
previous to his professional studies. What is lost or overlooked in
the gymnasium cannot be acquired at the university. Hence the peculiar
conscientiousness of the German teacher, his almost painful anxiety to
make sure that his pupils master every subject, his unwillingness to
let them go before they are "ripe." With us the change from school
to college is not an abrupt transition, like that from gymnasium to
university. The college course, certainly during the two lower years
at least, is a continuation of the school course: the same or
similar subjects are taught, and taught in the same way. Hence the
school-teacher is tempted to regulate his efforts according to the
college standard of admission. If he can only "get his men into
college," as the saying is, he thinks that he is doing enough. To say
this of all schools and all teachers would be flagrant injustice.
Not a few of our older schools compare favorably with the best German
gymnasiums, and in the large cities we find schools of even recent
origin that endeavor faithfully to give a well-rounded discipline. But
it remains nevertheless true that our schools, taken as a whole, give
no more than the colleges require, and that only too many of them
give less, trusting to the colleges to be lenient and eke out the
deficiency. Moreover, when we read in the daily papers advertisements
like the following, "Mr. Smith, a graduate of Harvard (or Yale or some
other college, as the case may be), prepares young men for college,"
what inference are we to draw? Simply, that Mr. Smith, having gone
through Harvard or Yale, knows exactly what is required there, and
will undertake to "coach" any young man for admission in two or three
years. Such coaching, if the young man is dull or backward, will
consist in cramming him with required studies, to the neglect of
everything not required. Teaching is not easy work. In many respects
it is more difficult to be a good teacher than to be an original
investigator. Whatever operates to strengthen and elevate the
teacher's position, therefore, must be a gain. The highest
incentive would be the consciousness that his school is not a mere
stepping-stone to another school of larger growth, but the place where
he must in truth prepare the youthful mind for independent study.
JAMES MORGAN HART.
Where is the power I fancied mine?
Can I have emptied my soul of thought?
In yesterday's fullness lay no sign
That to-day would be a time of drought.
What if thought fail me for evermore?
The world that awaits a well-filled plan
Must, railing, cry at my long-closed door,
"He cannot finish what he began."
Thought dashes on thought within my soul:
Time will not serve for the bounding-line.
I think it would fail to mete the whole
If old Methuselah's years were mine.
Like the famous spring that is sometimes dry,
Then flows with a river's whelming might,
The current of thought now runs so high
It covers the earthy bed from sight.
CHARLOTTE F. BATES.
THE ATONEMENT OF LEAM DUNDAS.
BY MRS. E. LYNN LINTON, AUTHOR OF "PATRICIA KEMBALL."
Four years had come and gone since Mr. Dundas had laid his second
wife in the grave beside his first, and the county had discussed
the immorality of taking cherry-water as a calmant. For it was to
an overdose of this that the verdict at the coroner's inquest had
assigned the cause of poor madame's awful and sudden death; though why
the medicine should have been found so loaded with prussic acid as
to have caused instant death on this special night, when it had been
taken so often before with impunity, was a mystery to which there was
no solution. Not a trace of poison was to be found anywhere in the
house, and no evidence was forthcoming to show how it might have been
bought or where procured. Alick Corfield, who understood it all,
was not called as a witness, and he told no one what he knew. On the
contrary, he burdened his soul with the, to him, unpardonable crime
of falsehood that he might shield Leam from detection; for when his
father, missing the sixty-minim bottle of hydrocyanic acid, asked him
what had become of it, Alick answered, with that wonderful coolness
of virtue descending to sin for the protection of the beloved which is
sometimes seen in the ingenuous, "I broke it by accident, father, and
forgot to tell you."
As the boy had never been known to tell a falsehood in his life, he
reaped the reward of good repute, and his father, saying quietly,
"That was a bad job, my boy," laid the matter aside as a _caput
mortuum_ of no value.
To be sure, he thought more than once that it was an odd coincidence,
but he could see no connection between the two circumstances
of madame's sudden death and Alick's fracture of that bottle of
hydrocyanic acid; and even if there should be any, he preferred not
to trace it. So the inquest was a mere show so far as getting at the
truth was concerned, and madame died and was buried in the mystery in
which she had lived.
Meantime, Leam had been sent to school, whence she was expected
to return a little more like other English girls than she had been
hitherto, and Mr. Dundas shut up Ford House--he went back to the
original name after madame's death--and left England to shake off in
travel the deadly despair that had fallen like a sickness on him and
taken all the flavor out of his life. He had never cared to search out
the real history of that fair beloved woman. Enough had come to his
knowledge, in the bills which had poured in from several Sherrington
tradesmen on the announcement of her marriage and then of her death,
to convince him that he had been duped in facts if not in feeling. For
among these bills was one from the local geologist for "a beginner's
cabinet of specimens," delivered just about the time when he,
Sebastian, had spent so many pleasant hours in arranging the fragments
which madame said represented both her knowledge and her lost
happiness; also one from the fancy repository, which sold everything,
for sundry water-color drawings and illuminated texts, a Table of
the Ten Commandments illustrated, and the like, which sufficiently
explained all on this side, and settled for ever the dead woman's
claims to the artistic and scientific merit with which Mr. Dundas and
the rector had credited her.
Also, certain ugly letters from a person of the name of Lowes, in
London, put him on the track, had he cared to follow it up, of a
deception even worse than that of pretended art or mock science. These
letters, written in the same handwriting as that wherein Julius de
Montfort, her brother-in-law, the present marquis, had told her of
the defalcations of the family solicitor and trustee, called Virginie,
Madame la Marquise de Montfort, plain Susan bluntly, and reminded her
of the screw that would be turned if the writer was not satisfied;
and were letters that demanded money, always money, as the price of
But Sebastian had loved his second wife too well to seek to know the
truth, if that truth would be to her discredit. He preferred to
be deceived; and he had what he preferred. He stifled all doubts,
darkened all chinks by which the obtrusive light might penetrate, kept
his love if not his faith unshaken, caring only to remember her as
beautiful, seductive, soothing, and mourning her as deeply, doubtful
as she had proved herself to be, as he had loved her fondly when he
believed her honest. It was a curious mental condition for a man to
cherish, but it satisfied him, and his regret was not robbed of its
pathos by knowledge.
Now that the four years were completed, the widower had to return to
his desolate home and make the best he could of the fragments of peace
and happiness left to him. Leam was nineteen: it was time for her to
be taken from school and given the protection of her father's house.
It went against the man's heart to have her, but he was compelled, if
he wished to stand well with his friends, and he hoped that the girl
would be found improved from these years of discipline and training,
and be rational and like other people. Wherefore he came home one
dry dull day in October, and the neighborhood welcomed him, if not as
their prodigal returned, yet as their lunatic restored to his right
During these four years a few changes had taken place at North Aston.
Carry Fairbairn had married--not Frank Harrowby: he had found a rich
wife, not in the least to his personal taste, but greatly to his
profit; and Carry, after having cried a good deal for a month, had
consoled herself with a young clergyman from the North, whom she loved
quite as much as if she had never fancied Frank at all, and spoilt in
the first months by such submission as caused her to repent for all
the years of her life after.
The things of the rectory were much in their old state. Little Fina,
madame's child, was there under Mrs. Birkett's motherly care; but
as the child was nearly six years old now, the good creature's
instinctive love for infants was wearing out, and she was often heard
to say how much she wished she could have kept Fina always a baby,
and, sighing, how difficult she was to manage! She was an exceedingly
pretty little girl, with fair skin, fair hair and dark eyes--willful
of course, and spoilt of course; the only one in the house who took
her in hand to correct being Adelaide. And as she took her in hand too
smartly, Mrs. Birkett generally interfered, and the servants combined
to screen her; the result being that the little one was mistress of
the situation, after the manner of willful children, and made every
one more or less anxious and uncomfortable as her return for their
Alick Corfield was the rector's curate. On the whole, this was the
most important of all the North Aston events which had taken place
during the last four years. Soon after madame's death and Leam's
transfer from home to school Alick had a strange and sudden illness.
No one knew what to make of it, nor how it came, nor what it was, but
the doctor called it cerebral fever, and when the families got hold
of the word they were content. Cerebral fever does as well as anything
else for an illness of which no one knows and no one seeks to know the
cause, and to the origin of which the patient himself gives no clew.
It was a peg, and a peg was all that was wanted.
On his recovery he announced his intention of going to Oxford to read
for holy orders. His mother was piteously distressed, as might be
expected. She feared all sorts of evil for her boy, from damp sheets
and unmended linen to over-study, wine-parties and bold-faced minxes
weaving subtle webs of fascination. But for the first time in his life
Alick stood out against her insistance, and his will conquered hers.
The sequel of the struggle was, that he went to Oxford, took his
degree, read for orders, passed, and that Mr. Birkett gave him his
title as his curate.
It could hardly be said that the relations were entirely harmonious
between the military-minded rector, who held to the righteousness of
helotry and the value of ignorance in the class beneath him, and the
young curate burning with zeal and oppressed with the desire to put
all the crooked things of life straight. The one pooh-poohed the
enthusiasm of the other, derided his belief in humanity and assured
him of failure: the other felt as if he had been taken behind the
scenes and shown the blue fire of which the awful lightning of his
youth was made. Mr. Birkett could not quite forbid the greater
faith, the more loving endeavor which the young man threw into his
ministrations, but he was the Sadducee who scoffed and made the
work heavy and uphill throughout. He gave a grudging assent to the
Bible-classes, the Wednesday evening services at the Sunday-school,
the lectures on great men on the first Monday in the month, which
Alick proposed and established. He thought it all weariness to the
flesh and a waste of time and energy; but the traditions of his order
were strong, if he himself did not share them, and he had to give way
in the end. He consoled himself with the reflection that the boy would
find out his mistake before long, and that then he would know who had
been right throughout.
But even zeal and hope and diligence in his work could not lighten the
persistent sadness which was Alick's chief characteristic now. Gaunt
and silent, with the eyes of a man whose inner self is absent and
whose thoughts are not with his company, he looked as if he had passed
through the fire, and had not passed through unscathed. No one knew
what had happened to him, and, though many made conjectures, none came
near the truth. Meanwhile, he seemed as if he lived only to work, and,
the clearer-sighted might have added, to wait.
For a further local change, Lionnet was tenanted again by a strange
and solitary man, who never went to church and did not visit in
the neighborhood. He was in consequence believed to be a forger, an
escaped convict in hiding, or, by the more charitable, a maniac as yet
not dangerous. North Aston held him in deeper horror than it had held
even Pepita, and his true personality exercised its wits more keenly
than had even the true personality of madame. In point of fact, he was
a quiet, inoffensive, amiable man, who gave his mind to Sanskrit for
work and to entomology for play, and did not trouble himself about his
own portrait as drawn in the local vernacular. Nevertheless, for all
his reserved habits and quiet ways, he had learnt the whole history of
the place and people before he had been at Lionnet a month.
At the Hill things remained unchanged for the ladies, save for the
additional burden of years and the pleasant news that Edgar was
expected home daily. Adelaide, now twenty-four, took the news as a
personal grace, and blossomed into smiles and glad humor of which only
Josephine understood the source. But Josephine held her tongue, and
received the confidence of her young friend with discretion. As she
had never dispossessed her own old idol, she could feel for Adelaide,
and she was not disposed to look on her patient determination with
displeasure. The constancy of the two, however, was very different in
essential meaning. With Josephine it was the constancy that is born of
an affectionate disposition and the absence of rival Lotharios: with
Adelaide it was the result of calculation and decision. The one would
have worshiped Sebastian as she worshiped him now had he been ruined,
a cripple, a criminal even: the other would have shut out Edgar
inexorably from her very dreams had not his personality included
the Hill. With the one it was self-abasement--with the other
self-consideration; but it came to the same thing in the end, and the
men profited equally.
All these changes Sebastian Dundas found to have taken place when he
returned to North Aston with gray hair instead of brown, his smooth,
fair skin tanned and roughened, and his weak, finely-cut, effeminate
mouth hidden by a moustache of a reddish tint, mingled with white.
Still, he was Sebastian; and after the first shock of his altered
appearance had been got over, Josephine carried her incense in the old
way, and found her worship as dear and as tantalizing as ever.
Lastly, as the crowning change of all, Leam came home from school;
no longer the arrogant, embittered child, looking at life through the
false medium of pride and ignorance, saying rude things and doing odd
ones with the most perfect unconsciousness; but well-bred, graceful,
sufficiently instructed not to make patent mistakes, and more
beautiful by far than she had even promised to be. Her very eyes were
lovelier, lovely as they had always been: they had more variety of
expression, were more dewy and tender, and, if less tragic, were more
spiritual. That hard, dry, burning passion which had devoured her of
old time seemed to have gone, as also her savage Spanish pride. She
had rounded and softened in body too, as in mind. Her skin was fairer;
her lips were not so firmly closed, so rigid in line, so constricted
in motion; her brows were more flexible and not so often knit
together; and her slight, lithe figure was perfect in line and
movement. Still, she had enough of her former manner of being for
identity. Grave, quiet, laconic, direct, she was but a modification
of the former Leam as they had known her--Leam, Pepita's daughter,
and with blood in her veins that was not the ordinary blood of the
ordinary British miss.
Her father's artistic perceptions were gratified as he met her at the
station and Leam turned her cheek to him voluntarily with tears in her
eyes. Turning her cheek was apparently her idea of kissing; but if not
too intense an expression of affection, it was at least an improvement
on the old hard repulsion, and Sebastian accepted it as the concession
it was meant to be. Indeed, they met somewhat as foes reconciled, or
rather seeking to be reconciled, and Mr. Dundas did not wish to keep
open old sores. Her cheek, turned to him somewhere about the ear,
represented to his mind a peace-offering: her eyes full of tears were
as a confession of past sins and a promise of amendment. Not that he
understood why she was so much more effusive than of old, but if it
augured a happier life together, he was glad.
As they drove up to the door of the old home, crowded with memories
and associations, a shudder passed over the girl: she grasped her
father's hand in her own almost convulsively, and he heard her say
below her breath, "Poor papa!"
He wondered why she pitied him. The place must surely be full of
memories of her mother for her: why did she say "Poor papa!" to him?
He did not see what she saw--that peaceful September evening, and the
bottle of cherry-water on the table, with the little phial of thirty
deaths in her hand; and now the contents emptied into the harmless
draught; and now madame pale and dead. The whole scene transacted
itself vividly before her, and she shuddered at her memories and her
past self, as always with a kind of vague wonder how she could have
been so wicked, and where did she get the force, the courage, for such
a cruel crime?
For all these four years at school the shadow of that dreadful deed
had been ever in the background of her life; and as time went on, and
she came to a better understanding of morality, it grew clear to her
as a crime. Its consciousness of guilt had broken down her pride, and
thus had made her more malleable, more humble. She could no longer
harden herself in her belief that she was superior to every one else.
Those girls, her companions--they had not had an Andalusian mother,
truly; they did not pray to the saints, and the Holy Virgin took no
care of them; they were Protestants and English, frogs and pigs; but
they had not committed murder. If she should stand up in the middle
of the room and tell them what she had done, which of them would touch
her hand again? which of them speak to her? English and Protestants as
they were, how far superior in their innocence to her, an Andalusian
Catholic, in her guilt! But no one lives with remorse. It comes and
goes gustily, fitfully; but the things of the present are stronger
than the things of the past, else the man with a shameful secret in
his life would go mad.
One of these gusty storms broke over Leam as she passed through the
gates of the old home, and for the moment she felt as if she must
confess the truth to her father and tell him what evil thing she had
done. Yet it passed, as other such storms had passed: the things of
the present took their natural place of prominence, and those of the
past sank again into the background, shadows that never faded quite
away, but that were not actualities pressing against her.
The news of Leam's home-coming created quite a pleasurable excitement
in the neighborhood, and the families flocked to Ford House to
welcome her among them as one of themselves, all anxious to see if
the Ethiopian of North Aston had shed her skin, if the leopardess had
changed her spots. They were divided among themselves as to whether
she had or had not. Some said she was charming, and like any one else,
but others shook their heads, and, like experts in brain disease,
professed to see traces of the old lunacy, and to be doubtful as to
her cure. At the worst, however, here she was--one of themselves whom
they must receive; and common sense dictated that they should make the
best of her, and hope all things till they proved some.
There was one among them whom Leam longed yet dreaded to meet. This
was Alick Corfield. She wondered what he knew, or rather what he