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The Atlantic Monthly, Vol. IX., March, 1862., No. LIII. by Various

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the head of Intelligent he brought together a natural division, for he
here united all the Vertebrates. He succeeded in this way in making out
a series which seemed plausible enough, but when we examine it, we find
at once that it is perfectly arbitrary; for he has brought together
animals built on entirely different structural plans, when he could find
characters among them that seemed to justify his favorite idea of a
gradation of qualities. Blainville attempted to establish the same idea
in another way. He founded his series on gradations of form, placing
together, in one division, all animals that he considered vague and
indefinite in form, and in another all those that he considered
symmetrical. Under a third head he brought together the Radiates; but
his symmetrical division united Articulates, Mollusks, and Vertebrates
in the most indiscriminate manner. He sustained his theory by assuming
intermediate groups,--as, for instance, the Barnacles between the
Mollusks and Articulates, whereas they are as truly Articulates as
Insects or Crabs. Thus, by misplacing certain animals, he arrived at a
series which, like that of Lamarck, made a strong impression on the
scientific world, till a more careful investigation of facts exposed its

Oken, the great German naturalist, also attempted to establish a
connected chain throughout the Animal Kingdom, but on an entirely
different principle; and I cannot allude to this most original
investigator, so condemned by some, so praised by others, so powerful in
his influence on science in Germany, without attempting to give some
analysis of his peculiar philosophy. For twenty years his classification
was accepted by his countrymen without question; and though I believe it
to be wrong, yet, by the ingenuity with which he maintained it, he has
shed a flood of light upon science, and has stimulated other naturalists
to most important and interesting investigations. This famous
classification was founded upon the idea that the system of man, the
most perfect created being, is the measure for the whole Animal Kingdom,
and that in analyzing his organization we have the clue to all organized
beings. The structure of man includes two systems of organs: those which
maintain the body in its integrity, and which he shares in some sort
with the lower animals,--the organs of digestion, circulation,
respiration, and reproduction; and that higher system of organs, the
brain, spinal marrow, and nerves, with the organs of sense, on which all
the manifestations of the intelligent faculties depend, and by which his
relations to the external world are established and controlled: the
whole being surrounded by flesh, muscles, and skin. On account of this
fleshy envelope of the hard parts in all the higher animals, Oken
divided the Animal Kingdom into two groups, the Vertebrates and
Invertebrates, or, as he called them, the "_Eingeweide und Fleisch
Thiere_"--which we may translate as the _Intestinal Animals_, or
those that represent the intestinal systems of organs, and the _Flesh
Animals_, or those that combine all the systems of organs under one
envelope of flesh. Let us examine a little more closely this singular
theory, by which each branch of the Invertebrates becomes, as it were,
the exponent of a special system of organs, while the Vertebrates, with
man at their head, include all these systems.

According to Oken, the Radiates, the lowest type of the Animal Kingdom,
embody digestion. They all represent a stomach, whether it is the simple
sac of the Polyps, or the cavity of the Acalephs, with its radiating
tubes traversing the gelatinous mass of the body, or the cavity and
tubes of the Echinoderms, inclosed within walls of their own.

The Mollusks represent circulation; and his division of this type into
classes, according to what he considers the higher or lower organization
of the heart, agrees with the ordinary division into Acephala,
Gasteropoda, and Cephalopoda.

The Articulates are the respiratory animals in this classification: they
represent respiration. The Worms, breathing, as he asserts, through the
whole surface of the skin, without special breathing organs, are the
lowest; the Crustacea, with gills, or aquatic breathing organs, come
next; and he places the Insects highest, with their branching tracheae,
admitting air to all parts of the body. The Vertebrates, or Flesh
Animals, with their four classes, represent the Bones, the Muscles, the
Nerves, and the Organs of Sense.

This theory, according to which there are as many great divisions as
there are structural systems or combinations of systems in the Animal
Kingdom, seemed natural and significant, and there was something
attractive in the idea that man represents, as it were, the synthetic
combination of all these different systems. Oken also, in his exposition
of his mode of classification, showed an insight into the structure and
relations of animals that commended it to the interest of all students
of Nature, and entitles him to their everlasting gratitude.
Nevertheless, his theory fails, when it is compared with facts. For
instance, there are many Worms that have no respiration through the
skin, while his appreciation of the whole class is founded on that
feature; and in his type representing circulation, the Mollusks, there
are those that have no heart at all. It would carry me too far into
scientific details, were I to explain all the points at which this
celebrated classification fails. Suffice it to say that there is no
better proof of the discrepancy between the system and the facts than
the constant changes in the different editions of Oken's own works and
in the publications of his followers founded upon his views, showing
that they were themselves conscious of the shifting and unstable
character of their scientific ground.


What, then, is the relation of these larger groups to each other, if
they do not stand in a connected series from the lowest to the highest?
How far are each of the branches and each of the classes superior or
inferior one to another? All agree, that, while Vertebrates stand at the
head of the Animal Kingdom, Radiates are lowest. There can be no doubt
upon this point; for, while the Vertebrate plan, founded upon a double
symmetry, includes the highest possibilities of animal organization,
there is a certain monotony of structure in the Radiate plan, in which
the body is divided into a number of identical parts, bearing definite
relations to a central vertical axis. But while all admit that
Vertebrates are highest and Radiates lowest, how do the Articulates and
Mollusks stand to these and to each other? To me it seems, that, while
both are decidedly superior to the Radiates and inferior to the
Vertebrates, we cannot predicate absolute superiority or inferiority of
organization of either of these groups as compared with each other; they
stand on one structural level, though with different tendencies,--the
body in Mollusks having always a soft, massive, concentrated character,
with great power of contraction and dilatation, while the body in
Articulates has nothing of this compactness and concentration, but on
the contrary is usually marked by a conspicuous external display of
limbs and other appendages, and by a remarkable elongation of the
body,--that feature characterized by Baer when he called them the
Longitudinal type. There is in the Articulates an extraordinary tendency
toward outward expression, singularly in contrast to the soft,
contractile bodies of the Mollusks. We need only remember the numerous
Insects with small bodies and enormously long wings, or the Spiders with
little bodies and long legs, or the number and length of the claws in
the Lobsters and Crabs, as illustrations of this statement for the
Articulates, while the soft compact body of the Oyster or of the Snail
is equally characteristic of the Mollusks; and though it may seem that
this assertion cannot apply to the highest class of Mollusks, the
Cephalopoda, including the Cuttle-Fishes with their long arms or
feelers, yet even these conspicuous appendages have considerable power
of contraction and dilatation, and in the Nautili may even be drawn
completely within the shell. If this view be correct, these two types
occupy an intermediate position between the highest and the lowest
divisions of the Animal Kingdom, but are on equal ground when compared
with each other.

But is there a transition from Radiates to Mollusks, or from Articulates
to Vertebrates, or from any one of these divisions into any other? Let
us first consider the classes as they stand within their divisions. We
have seen that there are three classes of Radiates,--Polyps, Acalephs,
and Echinoderms; three classes of Mollusks,--Acephala, Gasteropoda, and
Cephalopoda; three classes of Articulates,--Worms, Crustacea, and
Insects; and, according to the usually accepted classification, four
classes of Vertebrates,--Fishes, Reptiles, Birds, and Mammalia. If there
is indeed a transition between all these classes, it must become clear
to us, when we have accurately interpreted their relative standing.
Taking first the lowest branch, how do the classes stand within the
limits of the type of Radiates? I think I have said enough of these
different classes to show that Polyps as a whole are inferior to
Acalephs as a whole, and that Acalephs as a whole are inferior to
Echinoderms as a whole. But if they are linked together as a connected
series, then the lowest Acaleph should stand next in structure above the
highest Polyp, and the lowest Echinoderm next above the highest Acaleph.
So far from this being the case, there are, on the contrary, many
Acalephs which, in their specialization, are unquestionably lower in the
scale of life than some Polyps, while there are some Echinoderms lower
in the same sense than many Acalephs. This remark applies equally to the
classes within the other types; they stand, as an average, relatively to
each other, lower and higher, but considered in their diversified
specification, there are some members of the higher classes that are
inferior in organization to some members of the lower classes. The same
is true of the great divisions as compared with each other. Instead of
the highest Radiates being always lower in organization than the lowest
Mollusks, there are many Star-Fishes and Sea-Urchins higher in
organization than some Mollusks; and so when we pass from this branch to
the Articulates, if we assume for the moment, as some naturalists
believe, that the Mollusks are the inferior type, the Cuttle-Fishes are
certainly very superior animals to most of the Worms; and passing from
Articulates to Vertebrates, not only are there Insects of a more complex
organization than the lowest Fishes, but we bring together two kinds of
animals so remote from each other in structure that the wildest
imagination can scarcely fancy a transition between them. A comparison
may make my meaning clearer as to the relative standing of these groups.
The Epic Poem is a higher order of composition than the Song,--yet we
may have an Epic Poem which, from its inferior mode of execution, stands
lower than a Song that is perfect of its kind. So the plan of certain
branches is more comprehensive and includes higher possibilities than
that of others, while at the same time there may be species in which the
higher plan is executed in so simple a manner that it places their
organization below some more highly developed being built on a lower
plan. It is a poor comparison, because everything that God has made is
perfect of its kind and in its place, though relatively lower or higher;
yet it is only by comparison of what is after all akin,--of mind with
mind,--even though so far apart as the works of the divine and the human
reason, that we may arrive at some idea, however dim, of the mental
operations of the Creative Intellect.

It is, then, in their whole bulk that any one of these groups is above
any other. We may represent the relative positions of the classes by a
diagram in which each successive class in every type starts at a lower
point than that at which the preceding class closes. Taking the Polyps
as the lowest class of Radiates, for instance, its highest animals rise
above the lowest members of the Acalephs, but then the higher members of
the class of Acalephs reach a point far above any of the Polyps,--and so

| | | |
| | | | |
| | | | | | | Mammalia.
| | | | | | | |
| | Echinoderms. | | Cephalopoda. | | Insects. | | Birds.
| | | | | | | |
| Acalephs. | Gasteropoda. | Crustacea. | Reptiles.
| | | |
Polyps. Acephala. Worms Fishes.

If this view be correct, it sets aside the possibility of any
uninterrupted series based on absolute superiority or inferiority of
structure, on which so much ingenuity and intellectual power have been

But it is not merely upon the structural relations established between
these groups by anatomical features in the adult that we must decide
this question. We must examine it also from the embryological point of
view. Every animal in its growth undergoes a succession of changes: is
there anything in these changes implying a transition of one type into
another? Baer has given us the answer to this question. He has shown
that there are four distinct modes of development, as well as four plans
of structure; and though we have seen that higher animals of one class
pass through phases of growth in which they transiently resemble lower
animals of the same class, yet each one of these four modes of
development is confined within the limits of the type, and a Vertebrate
never resembles, at any stage of its growth, anything but a Vertebrate,
or an Articulate anything but an Articulate, or a Mollusk anything but a
Mollusk, or a Radiate anything but a Radiate.

Yet, although there is no embryological transition of one type into
another, the gradations of growth within the limits of the same type and
the same class, already alluded to, are very striking throughout the
Animal Kingdom. There are periods in the development of the germs of the
higher members of all the types, when they transiently resemble in their
general outline the lower representatives of the same type, just as we
have seen that the higher orders of one class pass through stages of
development in which they transiently resemble lower orders of the same
class. This gradation of growth corresponds to the gradation of rank in
adult animals, as established upon comparative complication of
structure. For instance, according to their structural character, all
naturalists have placed Fishes lowest in the scale of Vertebrates. Now
all the higher Vertebrates have a Fish-like character at first, and pass
successively through phases in which they vaguely resemble other lower
forms of the same type before they assume their own characteristic form;
and this is equally true of the other great divisions, so that the
history of the individual is, in some sort, the history of its type.

There is still another aspect of this question,--that of time. If
neither the gradation of structural rank among adult animals, nor the
gradation of growth in their embryological development gives us any
evidence of a transition between types, does not the sequence of animals
in their successive introduction upon the globe afford any proof of such
a connection? In this relation, I must briefly allude to the succession
of geological formations that compose the crust of our globe. The limits
of this article will not allow me to enter at any length into the
geological details connected with this question; but I will, in the most
cursory manner, give a sketch of the great geological periods, as
generally accepted now by geologists. The first of these periods has
been called the Azoic or lifeless period, because it is the only one
that contains no remains of organic life, and it is therefore supposed
that at that early stage of the world's history the necessary conditions
for the maintenance of animals and plants were not yet established.
After this, every great geological period that follows has been found to
be characterized by a special set of animals and plants, differing from
all that follow and all that precede it, till we arrive at our own
period, when Man, with the animals and plants that accompany him on
earth, was introduced.

There is, then, an order of succession in time among animals; and if
there has been any transition between types and classes, any growth of
higher out of lower forms, it is here that we should look for the
evidence of it. According to this view, we should expect to find in the
first period in which organic remains are found at all only the lowest
type, and of that type only the lowest class, and, indeed, if we push
the theory to its logical consequences, only the lowest forms of the
lowest class. What are now the facts? This continent affords admirable
opportunities for the investigation of this succession, because, in
consequence of its mode of formation, we have, in the State of New York,
a direct, unbroken sequence of all the earliest geological deposits.

The ridge of low hills, called the Laurentian Hills, along the line of
division between Canada and the States was the first American land
lifted above the ocean. That land belongs to the Azoic period, and
contains no trace of life. Along the base of that range of hills lie the
deposits of the next great geological period, the Silurian; and the
State of New York, geologically speaking, belongs almost entirely to
this Silurian period, with its lowest Taconic division, and the Devonian
period, the third in succession of these great epochs. I need hardly
remind those of my readers who have travelled through New York, and have
visited Niagara or Trenton, or, indeed, any of the localities where the
broken edges of the strata expose the buried life within them, how
numerous this early population of the earth must have been. No one who
has held in his hand one of the crowded slabs of sand--or lime-stone,
full of Crustacea, Shells, and Corals, from any of the old Silurian or
Devonian beaches which follow each other from north to south across the
State of New York, can suppose that the manifestation of life was less
multitudinous then than now. Now, what does this fossil creation tell
us? It says this: that, in the Silurian period, the first in which
organic life is found at all, there were the three classes of Radiates,
the three classes of Mollusks, two of the classes of Articulates, and
one class of Vertebrates. In other words, at the dawn of life on earth,
the plan of the animal creation with its four fundamental ideas was laid
out,--Radiates, Mollusks, Articulates, and Vertebrates were present at
that first representation of life upon our globe. If, then, all the
primary types appeared simultaneously, one cannot have grown out of
another,--they could not be at once contemporaries and descendants of
each other.

The diagram on the opposite page represents the geological periods in
their regular succession, and the approximate time at which all the
types and all the classes of the Animal Kingdom were introduced; for
there is still some doubt as to the exact period of the introduction of
several of the classes, though all geologists are agreed respecting
them, within certain limits, not very remote from each other, according
to geological estimates of time.

Polyps. Acalephs. Echinoderms.
T | Present,.........|.........|...........|......
E | | | |
R | Pliocene,........|.........|...........|......
T | | | |
I | Miocene,.........|.........|...........|......
A | | | |
R | Eocene,..........|.........|...........|......
Y | | | |
| | |
S | Cretaceous,......|.........|...........|......
E | | | |
C | Jurassic,........|.........|...........|......
O | | | |
N | Triassic,........|.........|...........|......
D | | | |
A | Permian,.........|.........|...........|......
R | | | |
Y | Carboniferous,...|.........|...........|......
| | |
P | | | |
R | Devonian,........|.........|...........|......
I | | | |
M | Silurian,.....Polyps. Acalephs. Echinoderms...
A |
R | Azoic.
Y |

Acephala. Gasteropoda. Cephalopoda.
T | Present,.........|.........|...........|......
E | | | |
R | Pliocene,........|.........|...........|......
T | | | |
I | Miocene,.........|.........|...........|......
A | | | |
R | Eocene,..........|.........|...........|......
Y | | | |
| | |
S | Cretaceous,......|.........|...........|......
E | | | |
C | Jurassic,........|.........|...........|......
O | | | |
N | Triassic,........|.........|...........|......
D | | | |
A | Permian,.........|.........|...........|......
R | | | |
Y | Carboniferous,...|.........|...........|......
| | |
P | | | |
R | Devonian,........|.........|...........|......
I | | | |
M | Silurian,.....Acephala. Gasteropoda. Cephalopoda.
A |
R | Azoic.
Y |

Worms. Crustacea. Insects.
T | Present,.........|.........|...........|......
E | | | |
R | Pliocene,........|.........|...........|......
T | | | |
I | Miocene,.........|.........|...........|......
A | | | |
R | Eocene,..........|.........|...........|......
Y | | | |
| | |
S | Cretaceous,......|.........|...........|......
E | | | |
C | Jurassic,........|.........|...........|......
O | | | |
N | Triassic,........|.........|...........|......
D | | | |
A | Permian,.........|.........|...........|......
R | | | |
Y | Carboniferous,...|.........|.........Insects..
| |
P | | |
R | Devonian,........|.........|..................
I | | |
M | Silurian,.....Worms. Crustacea...............
A |
R | Azoic.
Y |

Fishes. Reptiles. Birds. Mammalia.
T | Present,.........|.........|.........|........|.......
E | | | | |
R | Pliocene,........|.........|.........|........|.......
T | | | | |
I | Miocene,.........|.........|.........|........|.......
A | | | | |
R | Eocene,..........|.........|.........|..True Mammalia.
Y | | | | |
| | | |
S | Cretaceous,......|.........|.........|........|.......
E | | | | |
C | Jurassic,........|.........|.........|....Marsupials..
O | | | |
N | Triassic,........|.........|.......Birds..............
D | | |
A | Permian,.........|.........|..........................
R | | |
Y | Carboniferous,...|......Reptiles......................
P | |
R | Devonian,........|....................................
I | |
M | Silurian,.......Fishes................................
A |
R | Azoic.
Y |

If such discussions were not inappropriate here from their technical
character, I think I could show upon combined geological and zoological
evidence that the classes which are not present with the others at the
beginning, such as Insects among Articulates, or Reptiles, Birds, and
Mammalia among Vertebrates, are always introduced at the time when the
conditions essential to their existence are established,--as, for
instance, Reptiles, at the period when the earth was not fully redeemed
from the waste of waters, and extensive marshes afforded means for the
half-aquatic, half-terrestrial life even now characteristic of all our
larger Reptiles, while Insects, so dependent on vegetable growth, make
their appearance with the first forests; so that we need not infer,
because these and other classes come in after the earlier ones, that
they are therefore a growth out of them, since it is altogether probable
that they would not be created till the conditions necessary for their
maintenance on earth were established. From a merely speculative point
of view it seems to me natural to suppose that the physical and the
organic world have progressed together, and that there is a direct
relation between the successive creations and the condition of the earth
at the time of those creations. We know that all the beings of the
Silurian and Devonian periods were marine; the land, so far as it
existed in their time, was a great beach, and along those shores,
wherever any part of the continents was lifted above the level of the
waters, the Silurian and Devonian animals lived. Later, in the marshes
and the fern-forests of the Carboniferous period, Reptiles and Insects
found their place; and only when the earth was more extensive, when
marshes had become dry land, when islands had united to form continents,
when mountain-chains had been thrown up to make the inequalities of the
surface, were the larger quadrupeds introduced, to whose mode of
existence all these circumstances are important accessories.

But while all the types and most of the classes were introduced upon the
earth simultaneously at the beginning, these types and classes have
nevertheless been represented in every great geological period by
different sets or species of animals. In this sense, then, there has
been a gradation in time among animals, and every successive epoch of
the world's physical history has had its characteristic population. We
have found that there is a correspondence between the gradation of
structural complication among adult animals as known to us to-day, which
we may call the Series of Rank, and the gradation of embryological
changes in the same animals, which we may call the Series of Growth; and
there is also a correspondence between these two series and the order of
succession in time, that establishes a certain gradation in the
introduction of animals upon earth, and which we may call the Series of
Time. Take as an illustration the class of Echinoderms. The first
representatives of this class were a sort of Star-Fishes on stems; then
were introduced animals of the same order without stems; in later
periods come in the true Star-Fishes and Sea-Urchins; and the highest
order of the class, the Holothurians, are introduced only in the present
geological epoch. Compare now with this the ordinal division of the
class as it exists today. The present representative of those earliest
Echinoderms on stems is an animal that upon structural evidence stands
lowest in the class; next above it are the Comatulae, corresponding to
the early Echinoderms without stems; next in our classification are the
Star-Fishes and Sea-Urchins; and the Holothurians stand highest, on
account of certain structural features that place them at the head of
their class. The Series of Time and the Series of Rank, then, accord
perfectly, and investigations of the embryological development of these
animals have shown that the higher Echinoderms pass through changes in
the egg that indicate the same kind of gradation, for the young in some
of them have a stem which is gradually dropped, and their successive
phases of development recall the adult forms of the lower orders. Take
as another illustration the class of Polyps. First in time we find a
kind of Polyp Coral, one among the early Reef-Builders, who built their
myriad lives into the solid crust of our globe then as their successors
do now. These old Corals have their representatives among the present
Polyps, and from their structure they are placed lowest in their class,
while the embryological development of the higher ones recalls in the
younger condition of the germ the same peculiar character. I might
multiply examples, and draw equally striking illustrations from the
other classes; and though these correspondences cannot be fully
established while our knowledge of the embryological growth of animals
is so scanty, and information about their geological succession, yet
wherever we have been able to trace the connected history of any group
of animals in time, and to compare it with the history of their
embryological development and their structural relations as they exist
to-day, the correspondence is found to be so complete that we are
justified in believing that it will not fail in other instances. I may
add that a gradation of exactly the same character controls the
geographical distribution of animals over the surface of the globe. Here
again I must beg my readers to take much of the evidence, which, if
expanded, would fill a volume, for granted, since it would be entirely
inappropriate here. But I may briefly state that animals are not
scattered over the surface of our globe at random, but that they are
associated together in what are called _faunae_, and that these
faunae have their homes within certain districts--called by naturalists
_zooelogical provinces_. The limits of these provinces are
absolutely fixed, in the ocean as well as on the land, by certain
physical conditions connected with climate, with altitude, with the
pressure of the atmosphere, the weight of the water, etc.; and this is
true even for animals of migratory habits, for all such migrations are
periodical, and have boundaries as definite and impassable as those that
limit the permanent homes of animals. There is a certain series
established by the relations between different kinds of animals, as thus
distributed over the globe, which agrees with the gradation in their
rank, their growth, and their succession in time;--the law which
distributes animals in successive faunae, and in accordance both with
their relative superiority or inferiority, and with the physical
conditions essential to their existence, being the same as that which
controls their structural relations, their embryological development,
and their succession in time.

What, then, does this correspondence between the Series of Rank, the
Series of Growth, the Series of Time, and the Series of Geographical
Distribution in the life of animals teach us? Surely not that the
connection between animals is a material one; for the same kind of
relation exists between lower and higher animals of one type or one
class to-day, in their structural features, in their embryological
growth, and in their geographical distribution, as we trace in their
order of succession in time; and therefore, if this kind of evidence
proves that the later animals are the descendants of the earlier in any
genealogical sense, it should also prove that the animals living in one
part of the earth at present grow out of animals living in another part,
and that the higher animals of one class as it exists now are developed
out of the lower ones. The first of these propositions needs no
refutation; and with regard to the second, all our investigations go to
show that every being born into the world to-day adheres to its
individual law of life, and though it passes through transient phases of
growth that resemble other beings of its own kind, never pauses at a
lower stage of development, or passes on to a higher condition than the
one it is bound to fill. If, then, this connection is not a material
one, what is it?--for that such a connection does exist throughout the
Animal Kingdom, as intimate, as continuous, as complex as any series
which the development theorists have ever contended for, is not to be
denied. What can it be but an intellectual one? These correspondences
are correspondences of thought,--of a thought that is always the same,
whether it is expressed in the history of the type through all time, or
in the life of the individuals that represent the type at the present
moment, or in the growth of the germ of every being born into that type
to-day. In other words, the same thought that spans the whole succession
of geological ages controls the structural relations of all living
beings as well as their distribution over the surface of the earth, and
is repeated within the narrow compass of the smallest egg in which any
being undergoes its growth.

* * * * *


Deem not the ravished glory thine;
Nor think the flag shall scathless wave
Whereon thou bidd'st its presage shine,--
Land of the traitor and the slave!

God never set that holy sign
In deathless light among His stars
To make its blazonry divine
A scutcheon for thine impious wars!

And surely as the Wrong must fail
Before the everlasting Right,
So surely thy device shall pale
And shrivel in the Northern Light!

Look, where its coming splendors stream!
The red and white athwart the blue,--
While far above, the unconquered gleam
Of Freedom's stars is blazing through!

Hark to the rustle and the sweep,
Like sound of mighty wings unfurled,
And bearing down the sapphire steep
Heaven's hosts to help the imperilled world!

Light in the North! Each bristling lance
Of steely sheen a promise bears;
And all the midnight where they glance
A rosy flush of morning wears!

Yon symbol of your Southern sky
Shall surely mean but grief and loss;
Then tremble, as ye raise on high,
In sacrilege, the Southern Cross!

O brothers! we entreat in pain,
Take ye the unblessed emblem down!
Or purge your standard of its stain,
And join it with the Northern Crown!

* * * * *


Once upon a time, Mr. Smith, who was seven feet in height, went out for
a walk with Mr. Brown, whose stature was three feet and a half. It was
in a distant age, in which people were different from what they are now,
and in which events occurred such as do not usually occur in these days.
Smith and Brown, having traversed various paths, and having passed
several griffins, serpents, and mail-clad knights, came at length to a
certain river. It was needful that they should cross it; and the idea
was suggested that they should cross it by wading. They proceeded,
accordingly, to wade across; and both arrived safely at the farther
side. The water was exactly four feet deep,--not an inch more or less.
On reaching the other bank of the river, Mr. Brown said,--

"This is awful work; it is no joke crossing a river like _that_. I
was nearly drowned."

"Nonsense!" replied Mr. Smith; "why make a fuss about crossing a shallow
stream like this? Why, the water is only four feet deep: _that_ is
nothing at all!"

"Nothing to you, perhaps," was the response of Mr. Brown, "but a serious
matter for me. You observe," he went on, "that water four feet deep is
just six inches over my head. The river may be shallow to you, but it is
deep to me."

Mr. Smith, like many other individuals of great physical bulk and
strength, had an intellect not much adapted for comprehending subtile
and difficult thoughts. He took up the ground that things are what they
are in themselves, and was incapable of grasping the idea that greatness
and littleness, depth and shallowness, are relative things. An
altercation ensued, which resulted in threats on the part of Smith that
he would throw Brown into the river; and a coolness was occasioned
between the friends which subsisted for several days.

The acute mind of the reader of this page will perceive that Mr. Smith
was in error; and that the principle asserted by Mr. Brown was a sound
and true one. It is unquestionable that a thing which is little to one
man may be great to another man. And it is just as really and certainly
great in this latter case as anything ever can be. And yet, many people
do a thing exactly analogous to what was done by Smith. They insist that
the water which is shallow to them shall be held to be absolutely
shallow; and that, if smaller men declare that it is deep to themselves,
these smaller men shall be regarded as weak, fanciful, and mistaken.
Many people, as they look back upon the sorrows of their own childhood,
or as they look round upon the sorrows of existing childhood, think that
these sorrows are or were very light and insignificant, and their causes
very small. These people do this, because to them, as they are now,
_big people_, (to use the expressive phrase of childhood,) these
sorrows would be light, if they should befall. But though these sorrows
may seem light to us now, and their causes small, it is only as water
four feet in depth was shallow to the tall Mr. Smith. The same water was
very deep to the man whose stature was three feet and a half; and the
peril was as great to him as could have been caused by eight feet depth
of water to the man seven feet high. The little cause of trouble was
great to the little child. The little heart was as full of grief and
fear and bewilderment as it could hold.

Yes, I stand up against the common belief that childhood is our happiest
time. And whenever I hear grown-up people say that it is so, I think of
Mr. Smith, and the water four feet deep. I have always, in my heart,
rebelled against that common delusion. I recall, as if it were
yesterday, a day which I have left behind me more than twenty years. I
see a large hall, the hall of a certain educational institution, which
helped to make the present writer what he is. It is the day of the
distribution of the prizes. The hall is crowded with little boys, and
with the relations and friends of the little boys. And the chief
magistrate of that ancient town, in all the pomp of civic majesty, has
distributed the prizes. It is neither here nor there what honors were
borne off by me; though I remember well that _that_ day was the
proudest that ever had come in my short life. But I see the face and
hear the voice of the kind-hearted old dignitary, who has now been for
many years in his grave. And I recall especially one sentence he said,
as he made a few eloquent remarks at the close of the day's proceedings.

"Ah, boys," said he, "I can tell you this is the happiest time of all
your life!"

"Little you know about the matter," was my inward reply.

I knew that our worries, fears, and sorrows were just as great as those
of any one else.

The sorrows of childhood and boyhood are not sorrows of that complicated
and perplexing nature which sit heavy on the heart in after-years; but
in relation to the little hearts that have to bear them, they are very
overwhelming for the time. As has been said, great and little are quite
relative terms. A weight which is not absolutely heavy is heavy to a
weak person. We think an industrious flea draws a vast weight, if it
draw the eighth part of an ounce. And I believe that the sorrows of
childhood task the endurance of childhood as severely as those of
manhood do the endurance of the man. Yes, we look back now, and we smile
at them, and at the anguish they occasioned, because they would be no
great matter to us now. Yet in all this we err just as Mr. Smith the
tall man erred, in that discussion with the little man, Mr. Brown. Those
early sorrows were great things then. Very bitter grief may be in a very
little heart. "The sports of childhood," we know from Goldsmith,
"satisfy the child." The sorrows of childhood overwhelm the poor little
thing. I think a sympathetic reader would hardly read without a tear, as
well as a smile, an incident in the early life of Patrick Fraser Tytler,
recorded in his biography. When five years old, he got hold of the gun
of an elder brother and broke the spring of its lock. What anguish the
little boy must have endured, what a crushing sense of having caused an
irremediable evil, before he sat down and printed in great letters the
following epistle to his brother, the owner of the gun:--"Oh, Jamie,
think no more of guns, for the main-spring of that is broken, and _my
heart is broken!_" Doubtless the poor little fellow fancied that for
all the remainder of his life he never could feel as he had felt before
he touched the unlucky weapon. And looking back over many years, most of
us can remember a child crushed and overwhelmed by some trouble which it
thought could never be got over; and we can feel for our early self as
though sympathizing with another being.

What I wish in this essay is, that we should look away along the path we
have come in life; and that we should see, that, though many cares and
troubles may now press upon us, still we may well be content. I speak to
ordinary people, whose lot has been an ordinary lot. I know there are
exceptional cases; but I firmly believe, that, as for most of us, we
never have seen better days than these. No doubt, in the retrospect of
early youth, we seem to see a time when the summer was brighter, the
flowers sweeter, the snowy days of winter more cheerful, than we ever
find them now. But, in sober sense, we know that it is all an illusion.
It is only as the man travelling over the burning desert sees sparkling
water and shady trees where he knows there is nothing but arid sand.

I dare say you know that one of the acutest of living men has maintained
that it is foolish to grieve over past suffering. He says, truly enough
in one sense, that the suffering which is past is as truly non-existent
as the suffering which has never been at all; that, in fact, past
suffering is now nothing, and is entitled to no more consideration than
that to which nothing is entitled. No doubt, when bodily pain has
ceased, it is all over: we do not feel it any more. And you have
probably observed that the impression left by bodily pain passes very
quickly away. The sleepless night, or the night of torment from
toothache, which seemed such a distressing reality while it was dragging
over, looks a very shadowy thing the next forenoon. But it may be
doubted whether you will ever so far succeed in overcoming the fancies
and weaknesses of humanity as to get people to cease to feel that past
sufferings and sorrows are a great part of their present life. The
remembrance of our past life is a great part of our present life. And,
indeed, the greater part of human suffering consists in its anticipation
and in its recollection. It is so by the inevitable law of our being. It
is because we are rational creatures that it is so. We cannot help
looking forward to that which is coming, and looking back on that which
is past; nor can we suppress, as we do so, an emotion corresponding to
the perception. There is not the least use in telling a little boy who
knows that he is to have a tooth pulled out to-morrow, that it is absurd
in him to make himself unhappy to-night through the anticipation of it.
You may show with irrefragable force of reason, that the pain will last
only for the two or three seconds during which the tooth is being
wrenched from its place, and that it will be time enough to vex himself
about the pain when he has actually to feel it. But the little fellow
will pass but an unhappy night in the dismal prospect; and by the time
the cold iron lays hold of the tooth, he will have endured by
anticipation a vast deal more suffering than the suffering of the actual
operation. It is so with bigger people, looking forward to greater
trials. And it serves no end whatever to prove that all this ought not
to be. The question as to the emotions turned off in the workings of the
human mind is one of fact. It is not how the machine ought to work, but
how the machine does work. And as with the anticipation of suffering, so
with its retrospect. The great grief which is past, even though its
consequences no longer directly press upon us, casts its shadow over
after-years. There are, indeed, some hardships and trials upon which it
is possible that we may look back with satisfaction. The contrast with
them enhances the enjoyment of better days. But these trials, it seems
to me, must be such as come through the direct intervention of
Providence; and they must be clear of the elements of human cruelty or
injustice. I do not believe that a man who was a weakly and timid boy
can ever look back with pleasure upon the ill-usage of the brutal bully
of his school-days, or upon the injustice of his teacher in cheating him
out of some well-earned prize. There are kinds of great suffering which
can never be thought of without present suffering, so long as human
nature continues what it is. And I believe that past sorrows are a great
reality in our present life, and exert a great influence over our
present life, whether for good or ill. As you may see in the trembling
knees of some poor horse, in its drooping head, and spiritless paces,
that it was overwrought when young: so, if the human soul were a thing
that could be seen, you might discern the scars where the iron entered
into it long ago,--you might trace not merely the enduring remembrance,
but the enduring results, of the incapacity and dishonesty of teachers,
the heartlessness of companions, and the idiotic folly and cruelty of
parents. No, it will not do to tell us that past sufferings have ceased
to exist, while their remembrance continues so vivid, and their results
so great. You are not done with the bitter frosts of last winter, though
it be summer now, if your blighted evergreens remain as their result and
memorial. And the man who was brought up in an unhappy home in childhood
will never feel that that unhappy home has ceased to be a present
reality, if he knows that its whole discipline fostered in him a spirit
of distrust in his kind which is not yet entirely got over, and made him
set himself to the work of life with a heart somewhat soured and
prematurely old. The past is a great reality. We are here the living
embodiment of all we have seen and felt through all our life,--fashioned
into our present form by millions of little touches, and by none with a
more real result than the hours of sorrow we have known.

One great cause of the suffering of boyhood is the bullying of bigger
boys at school. I know nothing practically of the English system of
_fagging_ at public schools, but I am not prepared to join out and
out in the cry against it. I see many evils inherent in the system; but
I see that various advantages may result from it, too. To organize a
recognized subordination of lesser boys to bigger ones must
unquestionably tend to cut the ground from under the feet of the
unrecognized, unauthorized, private bully. But I know that at large
schools, where there is no fagging, bullying on the part of youthful
tyrants prevails to a great degree. Human nature is beyond doubt fallen.
The systematic cruelty of a school-bully to a little boy is proof enough
of _that_, and presents one of the very hatefullest phases of human
character. It is worthy of notice, that, as a general rule, the higher
you ascend in the social scale among boys, the less of bullying there is
to be found. Something of the chivalrous and the magnanimous comes out
in the case of the sons of gentlemen: it is only among such that you
will ever find a boy, not personally interested in the matter, standing
up against the bully in the interest of right and justice. I have
watched a big boy thrashing a little one, in the presence of half a
dozen other big boys, not one of whom interfered on behalf of the
oppressed little fellow. You may be sure I did not watch the transaction
longer than was necessary to ascertain whether there was a grain of
generosity in the hulking boors; and you may be sure, too, that that
thrashing of the little boy was, to the big bully, one of the most
unfortunate transactions in which he had engaged in his bestial and
blackguard, though brief, life. _I_ took care of _that_, you
may rely on it. And I favored the bully's companions with my sentiments
as to their conduct, with an energy of statement that made them sneak
off, looking very like whipped spaniels. My friendly reader, let us
never fail to stop a bully, when we can. And we very often can. Among
the writer's possessions might be found by the curious inspector several
black kid gloves, no longer fit for use, though apparently not very much
worn. Surveying these integuments minutely, you would find the thumb of
the right hand rent away, beyond the possibility of mending. Whence the
phenomenon? It comes of the writer's determined habit of stopping the
bully. Walking along the street, or the country-road, I occasionally see
a big blackguard fellow thrashing a boy much less than himself. I am
well aware that some prudent individuals would pass by on the other
side, possibly addressing an admonition to the big blackguard. But I
approve Thomson's statement, that "prudence to baseness verges still";
and I follow a different course. Suddenly approaching the blackguard, by
a rapid movement, generally quite unforeseen by him, I take him by the
arm, and occasionally (let me confess) by the neck, and shake him till
his teeth rattle. This, being done with a new glove on the right hand,
will generally unfit that glove for further use. For the bully must be
taken with a grip so firm and sudden as shall serve to paralyze his
nervous system for the time. And never once have I found the bully fail
to prove a whimpering coward. The punishment is well deserved, of
course; and it is a terribly severe one in ordinary cases. It is a
serious thing, in the estimation both of the bully and his companions,
that he should have so behaved as to have drawn on himself the notice of
a passer-by, and especially of a parson. The bully is instantly cowed;
and by a few words to any of his school-associates who may be near, you
can render him unenviably conspicuous among them for a week or two. I
never permit bullying to pass unchecked; and so long as my strength and
life remain, I never will. I trust you never will. If you could stand
coolly by, and see the cruelty you could check, or the wrong you could
right, and move no finger to do it, you are not the reader I want, nor
the human being I choose to know. I hold the cautious and sagacious man,
who can look on at an act of bullying without stopping it and punishing
it, as a worse and more despicable animal than the bully himself.

Of course, you must interfere with judgment; and you must follow up your
interference with firmness. Don't intermeddle, like Don Quixote, in such
a manner as to make things worse. It is only in the case of continued
and systematic cruelty that it is worth while to work temporary
aggravation, to the end of ultimate and entire relief. And sometimes
that is unavoidable. You remember how, when Moses made his application
to Pharaoh for release to the Hebrews, the first result was the
aggravation of their burdens. The supply of straw was cut off, and the
tale of bricks was to remain the same as before. It could not be helped.
And though things came right at last, the immediate consequence was that
the Hebrews turned in bitterness on their intending deliverer, and
charged their aggravated sufferings upon him. Now, my friend, if you set
yourself to the discomfiture of a bully, see you do it effectually. If
needful, follow up your first shaking. Find out his master, find out his
parents; let the fellow see distinctly that your interference is no
passing fancy. Make him understand that you are thoroughly determined
that his bullying shall cease. And carry out your determination

I frequently see the boys of a certain large public school, which is
attended by boys of the better class; and judging from their cheerful
and happy aspect, I judge that bullying among boys of that condition is
becoming rare. Still, I doubt not, there yet are poor little nervous
fellows whose school-life is embittered by it. I don't think any one
could read the poet Cowper's account of how he was bullied at school,
without feeling his blood a good deal stirred, if not entirely boiling.
If I knew of such a case within a good many miles, I should stop it,
though I never wore a glove again that was not split across the right

But, doubtless, the greatest cause of the sorrows of childhood is the
mismanagement and cruelty of parents. You will find many parents who
make favorites of some of their children to the neglect of others: an
error and a sin which is bitterly felt by the children who are held
down, and which can never by possibility result in good to any party
concerned. And there are parents who deliberately lay themselves out to
torment their children. There are two classes of parents who are the
most inexorably cruel and malignant: it is hard to say which class
excels, but it is certain that both classes exceed all ordinary mortals.
One is the utterly blackguard: the parents about whom there is no good
nor pretence of good. The other is the wrong-headedly conscientious and
religious: probably, after all, there is greater rancor and malice about
these last than about any other. These act upon a system of unnatural
repression, and systematized weeding out of all enjoyment from life.
These are the people whose very crowning act of hatred and malice
towards any one is to pray for him, or to threaten to pray for him.
These are the people who, if their children complain of their bare and
joyless life, say that such complaints indicate a wicked heart, or
Satanic possession; and have recourse to further persecution to bring
about a happier frame of mind. Yes: the wrong-headed and wrong-hearted
religionist is probably the very worst type of man or woman on whom the
sun looks down. And, oh! how sad to think of the fashion in which
stupid, conceited, malicious blockheads set up their own worst passions
as the fruits of the working of the Blessed Spirit, and caricature, to
the lasting injury of many a young heart, the pure and kindly religion
of the Blessed Redeemer! These are the folk who inflict systematic and
ingenious torment on their children: and, unhappily, a very contemptible
parent can inflict much suffering on a sensitive child. But of this
there is more to be said hereafter; and before going on to it, let us
think of another evil influence which darkens and embitters the early
years of many.

It is the cruelty, injustice, and incompetence of many schoolmasters. I
know a young man of twenty-eight, who told me, that, when at school in a
certain large city in Peru, (let us say,) he never went into his class
any day without feeling quite sick with nervous terror. The entire class
of boys lived in that state of cowed submission to a vulgar, stupid,
bullying, flogging barbarian. If it prevents the manners from becoming
brutal diligently to study the ingenuous arts, it appears certain that
diligently to teach them sometimes leads to a directly contrary result.
The bullying schoolmaster has now become an almost extinct animal; but
it is not very long since the spirit of Mr. Squeers was to be found, in
its worst manifestations, far beyond the precincts of Dotheboys Hall.
You would find fellows who showed a grim delight in walking down a class
with a cane in their hand, enjoying the evident fear they occasioned as
they swung it about, occasionally coming down with a savage whack on
some poor fellow who was doing nothing whatsoever. These brutal teachers
would flog, and that till compelled to cease by pure exhaustion, not
merely for moral offences, which possibly deserve it, (though I do not
believe any one was ever made better by flogging,) but for making a
mistake in saying a lesson, which the poor boy had done his best to
prepare, and which was driven out of his head by the fearful aspect of
the truculent blackguard with his cane and his hoarse voice. And how
indignant, in after-years, many a boy of the last generation must have
been, to find that this tyrant of his childhood was in truth a humbug, a
liar, a fool, and a sneak! Yet how that miserable piece of humanity was
feared! How they watched his eye, and laughed at the old idiot's
wretched jokes! I have several friends who have told me such stories of
their school-days, that I used to wonder that they did not, after they
became men, return to the schoolboy spot that they might heartily shake
their preceptor of other years, or even kick him!

If there be a thing to be wondered at, it is that the human race is not
much worse than it is. It has not a fair chance. I am not thinking now
of an original defect in the material provided: I am thinking only of
the kind of handling it gets. I am thinking of the amount of judgment
which may be found in most parents and in most teachers, and of the
degree of honesty which may be found in many. I suppose there is no
doubt that the accursed system of the cheap Yorkshire schools was by no
means caricatured by Mr. Dickens in "Nicholas Nickleby." I believe that
starvation and brutality were the rule at these institutions. And I do
not think it says much for the manliness of Yorkshire men and of
Yorkshire clergymen, that these foul dens of misery and wickedness were
suffered to exist so long without a voice raised to let the world know
of them. I venture to think, that, if Dr. Guthrie of Edinburgh had lived
anywhere near Greta Bridge, Mr. Squeers and his compeers would have
attained a notoriety that would have stopped their trade. I cannot
imagine how any one, with the spirit of a man in him, could sleep and
wake within sight of one of these schools without lifting a hand or a
voice to stop what was going on there. But without supposing these
extreme cases, I can remember what I have myself seen of the
incompetence and injustice of teachers. I burn with indignation yet, as
I think of a malignant blockhead who once taught me for a few months. I
have been at various schools; and I spent six years at one venerable
university (where my instructors were wise and worthy); and I am now so
old, that I may say, without any great exhibition of vanity, that I have
always kept well up among my school- and college-companions: but that
blockhead kept me steadily at the bottom of my class, and kept a
frightful dunce at the top of it, by his peculiar system. I have
observed (let me say) that masters and professors who are stupid
themselves have a great preference for stupid fellows, and like to keep
down clever ones. A professor who was himself a dunce at college, and
who has been jobbed into his chair, being quite unfit for it, has a
fellow-feeling for other dunces. He is at home with them, you see, and
is not afraid that they see through him and despise him. The injustice
of the malignant blockhead who was my early instructor, and who
succeeded in making several months of my boyhood unhappy enough, was
taken up and imitated by several lesser blockheads among the boys. I
remember particularly one sneaking wretch who was occasionally set to
mark down on a slate the names of such boys as talked in school; such
boys being punished by being turned to the bottom of their class. I
remember how that sneaking wretch used always to mark my name down,
though I kept perfectly silent: and how he put my name last on the list,
that I might have to begin the lesson the very lowest in my form. The
sneaking wretch was bigger than I, so I could not thrash him; and any
representation I made to the malignant blockhead of a schoolmaster was
entirely disregarded. I cannot think but with considerable ferocity,
that probably there are many schools to-day in Britain containing a
master who has taken an unreasonable dislike to some poor boy, and who
lays himself out to make that poor boy unhappy. And I know that such may
be the case where the boy is neither bad nor stupid. And if the school
be one attended by a good many boys of the lower grade, there are sure
to be several sneaky boys among them who will devote themselves to
tormenting the one whom the master hates and torments.

It cannot be denied that there is a generous and magnanimous tone about
the boys of a school attended exclusively by the children of the better
classes, which is unknown among the children of uncultivated boors. I
have observed, that, if you offer a prize to the cleverest and most
industrious boy of a certain form in a school of the upper class, and
propose to let the prize be decided by the votes of the boys themselves,
you will almost invariably find it fairly given: that is, given to the
boy who deserves it best. If you explain, in a frank, manly way, to the
little fellows, that, in asking each for whom he votes, you are asking
each to say upon his honor whom he thinks the cleverest and most
diligent boy in the form, nineteen boys out of twenty will answer
honestly. But I have witnessed the signal failure of such an appeal to
the honor of the bumpkins of a country school. I was once present at the
examination of such a school, and remarked carefully how the boys
acquitted themselves. After the examination was over, the master
proposed, very absurdly, to let the boys of each class vote the prize
for that particular class. The voting began. A class of about twenty was
called up: I explained to the boys what they were to do. I told them
they were not to vote for the boy they liked best, but were to tell me
faithfully who had done best in the class-lessons. I then asked the
first boy in the line for whom he gave his vote. To my mortification,
instead of voting for a little fellow who had done incomparably best at
the examination, he gave his vote for a big sullen-looking blockhead who
had done conspicuously ill. I asked the next boy, and received the same
answer. So all round the class: all voted for the big sullen-looking
blockhead. One or two did not give their votes quite promptly; and I
could discern a threatening glance cast at them by the big
sullen-looking blockhead, and an ominous clenching of the blockhead's
right fist. I went round the class without remark; and the blockhead
made sure of the prize. Of course this would not do. The blockhead could
not be suffered to get the prize; and it was expedient that he should be
made to remember the occasion on which he had sought to tamper with
justice and right. Addressing the blockhead, amid the dead silence of
the school, I said: "You shall not get the prize, because I can judge
for myself that you don't deserve it. I can see that you are the
stupidest boy in the class; and I have seen reason, during this voting,
to believe that you are the worst. You have tried to bully these boys
into voting for you. Their votes go for nothing; for their voting for
you proves either that they are so stupid as to think you deserve the
prize, or so dishonest as to say they think so when they don't think
so." Then I inducted the blockhead into a seat where I could see him
well, and proceeded to take the votes over again. I explained to the
boys once more what they had to do; and explained that any boy would be
telling a lie who voted the prize unfairly. I also told them that I knew
who deserved the prize, and that they knew it too, and that they had
better vote fairly. Then, instead of saying to each boy, "For whom do
you vote?" I said to each, "Tell me who did best in the class during
these months past." Each boy in reply named the boy who really deserved
the prize: and the little fellow got it. I need not record the means I
adopted to prevent the sullen-looking blockhead from carrying out his
purpose of thrashing the little fellow. It may suffice to say that the
means were thoroughly effectual; and that the blockhead was very meek
and tractable for about six weeks after that memorable day.

But, after all, the great cause of the sorrows of childhood is
unquestionably the mismanagement of parents. You hear a great deal about
parents who spoil their children by excessive kindness; but I venture to
think that a greater number of children are spoiled by stupidity and
cruelty on the part of their parents. You may find parents who, having
started from a humble origin, have attained to wealth, and who, instead
of being glad to think that their children are better off than they
themselves were, exhibit a diabolical jealousy of their children. You
will find such wretched beings insisting that their children shall go
through needless trials and mortifications, because they themselves went
through the like. Why, I do not hesitate to say that one of the thoughts
which would most powerfully lead a worthy man to value material
prosperity would be the thought that his boys would have a fairer and
happier start in life than he had, and would be saved the many
difficulties on which he still looks back with pain. You will find
parents, especially parents of the pharisaical and wrong-headedly
religious class, who seem to hold it a sacred duty to make the little
things unhappy; who systematically endeavor to render life as bare,
ugly, and wretched a thing as possible; who never praise their children
when they do right, but punish them with great severity when they do
wrong; who seem to hate to see their children lively or cheerful in
their presence; who thoroughly repel all sympathy or confidence on the
part of their children, and then mention as a proof that their children
are possessed by the Devil, that their children always like to get away
from them; who rejoice to cut off any little enjoyment,--rigidly
carrying out into practice the fundamental principle of their creed,
which undoubtedly is, that "nobody should ever please himself, neither
should anybody ever please anybody else, because in either case he is
sure to displease God." No doubt, Mr. Buckle, in his second volume,
caricatured and misrepresented the religion of Scotland as a country;
but he did not in the least degree caricature or misrepresent the
religion of some people in Scotland. The great doctrine underlying all
other doctrines, in the creed of a few unfortunate beings, is, that God
is spitefully angry to see his creatures happy; and of course the
practical lesson follows, that they are following the best example, when
they are spitefully angry to see their children happy.

Then a great trouble, always pressing heavily on many a little mind, is
that it is overtasked with lessons. You still see here and there idiotic
parents striving to make infant phenomena of their children, and
recording with much pride how their children could read and write at an
unnaturally early age. Such parents are fools: not necessarily malicious
fools, but fools beyond question. The great use to which the first six
or seven years of life should be given is the laying the foundation of a
healthful constitution in body and mind; and the instilling of those
first principles of duty and religion which do not need to be taught out
of any books. Even if you do not permanently injure the young brain and
mind by prematurely overtasking them,--even if you do not permanently
blight the bodily health and break the mind's cheerful spring, you gain
nothing. Your child at fourteen years old is not a bit farther advanced
in his education than a child who began his years after him; and the
entire result of your stupid driving has been to overcloud some days
which should have been among the happiest of his life. It is a woful
sight to me to see the little forehead corrugated with mental effort,
though the effort be to do no more than master the multiplication table:
it was a sad story I lately heard of a little boy repeating his Latin
lesson over and over again in the delirium of the fever of which he
died, and saying piteously that indeed he could not do it better. I
don't like to see a little face looking unnaturally anxious and earnest
about a horrible task of spelling; and even when children pass that
stage, and grow up into school-boys who can read Thucydides and write
Greek iambics, it is not wise in parents to stimulate a clever boy's
anxiety to hold the first place in his class. That anxiety is strong
enough already; it needs rather to be repressed. It is bad enough even
at college to work on late into the night; but at school it ought not to
be suffered for one moment. If a lad takes his place in his class every
day in a state of nervous tremor, he may be in the way to get his gold
medal, indeed; but he is in the way to shatter his constitution for

We all know, of course, that children are subjected to worse things
than these. I think of little things early set to hard work, to add a
little to their parents' scanty store. Yet, if it be only work, they
bear it cheerfully. This afternoon, I was walking through a certain
quiet street, when I saw a little child standing with a basket at a
door. The little man looked at various passers-by; and I am happy to
say, that, when he saw me, he asked me to ring the door-bell for him:
for, though he had been sent with that basket, which was not a light
one, he could not reach up to the bell. I asked him how old he was.
"Five years past," said the child, quite cheerfully and independently.
"God help you, poor little man!" I thought; "the doom of toil has fallen
early upon you!" If you visit much among the poor, few things will touch
you more than the unnatural sagacity and trustworthiness of children who
are little more than babies. You will find these little things left in a
bare room by themselves,--the eldest six years old,--while the poor
mother is out at her work. And the eldest will reply to your questions
in a way that will astonish you, till you get accustomed to such things.
I think that almost as heart-rending a sight as you will readily see is
the misery of a little thing who has spilt in the street the milk she
was sent to fetch, or broken a jug, and who is sitting in despair beside
the spilt milk or the broken fragments. Good Samaritan, never pass by
such a sight; bring out your two-pence; set things completely right: a
small matter and a kind word will cheer and comfort an overwhelmed
heart. That child has a truculent step-mother, or (alas!) mother, at
home, who would punish that mishap as nothing should be punished but the
gravest moral delinquency. And lower down the scale than this, it is
awful to see want, cold, hunger, rags, in a little child. I have seen
the wee thing shuffling along the pavement in great men's shoes, holding
up its sorry tatters with its hands, and casting on the passengers a
look so eager, yet so hopeless, as went to one's heart. Let us thank God
that there is one large city in the empire where you need never see such
a sight, and where, if you do, you know how to relieve it effectually;
and let us bless the name and the labors and the genius of Thomas
Guthrie! It is a sad thing to see the toys of such little children as I
can think of. What curious things they are able to seek amusement in! I
have known a brass button at the end of a string a much prized
possession. I have seen a grave little boy standing by a broken chair in
a bare garret, solemnly arranging and rearranging two pins upon the
broken chair. A machine much employed by poor children in country places
is a slate tied to a bit of string: this, being drawn along the road,
constitutes a cart; and you may find it attended by the admiration of
the entire young population of three or four cottages standing in the
moorland miles from any neighbor.

* * * * *

You will not unfrequently find parents who, if they cannot keep back
their children from some little treat, will try to infuse a sting into
it, so as to prevent the children from enjoying it. They will impress on
their children that they must be very wicked to care so much about going
out to some children's party; or they will insist that their children
should return home at some preposterously early hour, so as to lose the
best part of the fun, and so as to appear ridiculous in the eyes of
their young companions. You will find this amiable tendency in people
intrusted with the care of older children. I have heard of a man whose
nephew lived with him, and lived a very cheerless life. When the season
came round at which the lad hoped to be allowed to go and visit his
parents, he ventured, after much hesitation, to hint this to his uncle.
Of course the uncle felt that it was quite right the lad should go, but
he grudged him the chance of the little enjoyment, and the happy thought
struck him that he might let the lad go, and at the same time make the
poor fellow uncomfortable in going. Accordingly he conveyed his
permission to the lad to go by roaring out in a savage manner,
"_Begone!_" This made the poor lad feel as if it were his duty to
stay, and as if it were very wicked in him to wish to go; and though he
ultimately went, he enjoyed his visit with only half a heart. There are
parents and guardians who take great pains to make their children think
themselves very bad,--to make the little things grow up in the endurance
of the pangs of a bad conscience. For conscience, in children, is a
quite artificial thing: you may dictate to it what it is to say. And
parents, often injudicious, sometimes malignant, not seldom apply hard
names to their children, which sink down into the little heart and
memory far more deeply than they think. If a child cannot eat fat, you
may instil into him that it is because he is so wicked; and he will
believe you for a while. A favorite weapon in the hands of some parents,
who have devoted themselves diligently to making their children
miserable, is to frequently predict to the children the remorse which
they (the children) will feel after they (the parents) are dead. In such
cases, it would be difficult to specify the precise things which the
children are to feel remorseful about. It must just be, generally,
because they were so wicked, and because they did not sufficiently
believe the infallibility and impeccability of their ancestors. I am
reminded of the woman mentioned by Sam Weller, whose husband
disappeared. The woman had been a fearful termagant; the husband, a very
inoffensive man. After his disappearance, the woman issued an
advertisement, assuring him, that, if he returned, he would be fully
forgiven; which, as Mr. Weller justly remarked, was very generous,
seeing he had never done anything at all.

Yes, the conscience of children is an artificial and a sensitive thing.
The other day, a friend of mine, who is one of the kindest of parents
and the most amiable of men, told me what happened in his house on a
certain _Fast-day_. A Scotch Fast-day, you may remember, is the
institution which so completely puzzled Mr. Buckle. That historian
fancied that _to fast_ means in Scotland to abstain from food. Had
Mr. Buckle known anything whatever about Scotland, he would have known
that a Scotch Fast-day means a week-day on which people go to church,
but on which (especially in the dwellings of the clergy) there is a
better dinner than usual. I never knew man or woman in all my life who
on a Fast-day refrained from eating. And quite right, too. The growth of
common sense has gradually abolished literal fasting. In a Oriental
climate, abstinence from food may give the mind the preeminence over the
body, and so leave the mind better fitted for religious duties. In our
country, literal fasting would have just the contrary effect: it would
give the body the mastery over the soul; it would make a man so
physically uncomfortable that he could not attend with profit to his
religious duties at all. I am aware, Anglican reader, of the defects of
my countrymen; but commend me to the average Scotchman for sound
practical sense. But to return. These Fast-days are by many people
observed as rigorously as the Scotch Sunday. On the forenoon of such a
day, my friend's little child, three years old, came to him in much
distress. She said, as one who had a fearful sin to confess, "I have
been playing with my toys this morning"; and then began to cry as if her
little heart would break. I know some stupid parents who would have
strongly encouraged this needless sensitiveness; and who would thus have
made their child unhappy at the time, and prepared the way for an
indignant bursting of these artificial trammels when the child had grown
up to maturity. But my friend was not of that stamp. He comforted the
little thing, and told her, that, though it might be as well not to play
with her toys on a Fast-day, what she had done was nothing to cry about.
I think, my reader, that, even if you were a Scotch minister, you would
appear with considerable confidence before your Judge, if you had never
done worse than failed to observe a Scotch Fast-day with the Covenanting

* * * * *

But when one looks back and looks round, and tries to reckon up the
sorrows of childhood arising from parental folly, one feels that the
task is endless. There are parents who will not suffer their children to
go to the little feasts which children occasionally have, either on that
wicked principle that all enjoyment is sinful, or because the children
have recently committed some small offence, which is to be thus
punished. There are parents who take pleasure in informing strangers, in
their children's presence, about their children's faults, to the extreme
bitterness of the children's hearts. There are parents who will not
allow their children to be taught dancing, regarding dancing as sinful.
The result is, that the children are awkward and unlike other children;
and when they are suffered to spend an evening among a number of
companions who have all learned dancing, they suffer a keen
mortification which older people ought to be able to understand. Then
you will find parents, possessing ample means, who will not dress their
children like others, but send them out in very shabby garments. Few
things cause a more painful sense of humiliation to a child. It is a sad
sight to see a little fellow hiding round the corner when some one
passes who is likely to recognize him, afraid to go through the decent
streets, and creeping out of sight by back-ways. We have all seen
_that_. We have all sympathized heartily with the reduced widow who
has it not in her power to dress her boy better; and we have all felt
lively indignation at the parents who had the power to attire their
children becomingly, but whose heartless parsimony made the little
things go about under a constant sense of painful degradation.

An extremely wicked way of punishing children is by shutting them up in
a dark place. Darkness is naturally fearful to human beings, and the
stupid ghost-stories of many nurses make it especially fearful to a
child. It is a stupid and wicked thing to send a child on an errand in a
dark night. I do not remember passing through a greater trial in my
youth than once walking three miles alone (it was not going on an
errand) in the dark, along a road thickly shaded with trees. I was a
little fellow; but I got over the distance in half an hour. Part of the
way was along the wall of a church-yard, one of those ghastly, weedy,
neglected, accursed-looking spots where stupidity has done what it can
to add circumstances of disgust and horror to the Christian's long
sleep. Nobody ever supposed that this walk was a trial to a boy of
twelve years old: so little are the thoughts of children understood. And
children are reticent: I am telling now about that dismal walk for the
very first time. And in the illnesses of childhood, children sometimes
get very close and real views of death. I remember, when I was nine
years old, how every evening, when I lay down to sleep, I used for about
a year to picture myself lying dead, till I felt as though the coffin
were closing round me. I used to read at that period, with a curious
feeling of fascination, Blair's poem, "The Grave." But I never dreamed
of telling anybody about these thoughts. I believe that thoughtful
children keep most of their thoughts to themselves, and in respect of
the things of which they think most are as profoundly alone as the
Ancient Mariner in the Pacific. I have heard of a parent, an important
member of a very strait sect of the Pharisees, whose child, when dying,
begged to be buried not in a certain foul old hideous church-yard, but
in a certain cheerful cemetery. This request the poor little creature
made with all the energy of terror and despair. But the strait Pharisee
refused the dying request, and pointed out with polemical bitterness to
the child that he must be very wicked indeed to care at such a time
where he was to be buried, or what might be done with his body after
death. How I should enjoy the spectacle of that unnatural, heartless,
stupid wretch tarred and feathered! The dying child was caring for a
thing about which Shakspeare cared; and it was not in mere human
weakness, but "by faith," that "Joseph, when he was a-dying, gave
commandment concerning his bones."

I believe that real depression of spirits, usually the sad heritage of
after-years, is often felt in very early youth. It sometimes comes of
the child's belief that he must be very bad, because he is so frequently
told that he is so. It sometimes comes of the child's fears, early felt,
as to what is to become of him. His parents, possibly, with the good
sense and kind feeling which distinguish various parents, have taken
pains to drive it into the child, that, if his father should die, he
will certainly starve, and may very probably have to become a wandering
beggar. And these sayings have sunk deep into the little heart. I
remember how a friend told me that his constant wonder, when he was
twelve or thirteen years old, was _this_: If life was such a burden
already, and so miserable to look back upon, how could he ever bear it
when be had grown older?

* * * * *

But now, my reader, I am going to stop. I have a great deal more marked
down to say; but the subject is growing so thoroughly distressing to me,
as I go on, that I shall go on no farther. It would make me sour and
wretched for the next week, if I were to state and illustrate the varied
sorrows of childhood of which I intended yet to speak: and if I were to
talk out my heart to you about the people who cause these, I fear my
character for good-nature would be gone with you forever. "This genial
writer," as the newspapers call me, would show but little geniality: I
am aware, indeed, that I have already been writing in a style which, to
say the least, is snappish. So I shall say nothing of the first death
that comes in the family in our childish days,--its hurry, its
confusion, its awe-struck mystery, its wonderfully vivid recalling of
the words and looks of the dead; nor of the terrible trial to a little
child of being sent away from home to school,--the heart-sickness, and
the weary counting of the weeks and days before the time of returning
home again. But let me say to every reader who has it in his power
directly or indirectly to do so, Oh, do what you can to make children
happy! oh, seek to give that great enduring blessing of a happy youth!
Whatever after-life may prove, let there be something bright to look
back upon in the horizon of their early time! You may sour the human
spirit forever, by cruelty and injustice in youth. There is a past
suffering which exalts and purifies; but _this_ leaves only an evil
result: it darkens all the world, and all our views of it. Let us try to
make every little child happy. The most selfish parent might try to
please a little child, if it were only to see the fresh expression of
unblunted feeling, and a liveliness of pleasurable emotion which in
after-years we shall never know, I do not believe a great English
barrister is so happy when he has the Great Seal committed to him as two
little and rather ragged urchins whom I saw this very afternoon. I was
walking along a country-road, and overtook them. They were about five
years old. I walked slower, and talked to them for a few minutes, and
found that they were good boys, and went to school every day. Then I
produced two coins of the copper coinage of Britain: one a large penny
of ancient days, another a small penny of the present age. "There is a
penny for each of you," I said, with some solemnity: "one is large, you
see, and the other small; but they are each worth exactly the same. Go
and get something good." I wish you had seen them go off! It is a cheap
and easy thing to make a little heart happy. May this hand never write
another essay, if it ever wilfully miss the chance of doing so! It is
all quite right in after-years to be careworn and sad. We understand
these matters ourselves. Let others bear the burden which we ourselves
bear, and which is doubtless good for us. But the poor little things! I
can enter into the feeling of a kind-hearted man who told me that he
never could look at a number of little children but the tears came into
his eyes. How much these young creatures have to bear yet! I think you
can, as you look at them, in some degree understand and sympathize with
the Redeemer, who, when he "saw a great multitude, was moved with
compassion toward them"! Ah, you smooth little face, (you may think,) I
know what years will make of you, if they find you in this world! And
you, light little heart, will know your weight of care!

And I remember, as I write these concluding lines, who they were that
the Best and Kindest this world ever saw liked to have near him; and
what the reason was he gave why he felt most in his element when they
were by his side. He wished to have little children round him, and would
not have them chidden away; and this because there was something about
them that reminded him of the Place from which he came. He liked the
little faces and the little voices,--he to whom the wisest are in
understanding as children. And oftentimes, I believe, these little ones
still do his work. Oftentimes, I believe, when the worn man is led to
him in childlike confidence, it is by the hand of a little child.

* * * * *


Three hundred and fifty years ago, a Spanish gentleman sailed on a
cruise that may be considered remarkable even in the history of the
wonderful adventures of the age of Columbus and Da Gama. Juan Ponce de
Leon, having lost the government of Porto Rico, resolved to discover a
world for himself, and so become as renowned as "The Admiral." With the
strong fanaticism of his time and his race, he believed that there was a
third world to be found, and that it "had been saved up" for him, a
gentleman of Leon, and a loyal subject of their Catholic Majesties, who
had done good service for his sovereigns and the faith in Granada, and
later in the Indies. While he was thinking of the course in which he
should sail, he was told that to the North there lay a land which not
only contained unlimited gold, and many other material good things, but
also a fountain of such marvellous nature that to bathe in it was to
secure the return of youth. This revival of an old classic story[A]
fired the imagination of the adventurous cavalier, and he sailed
forthwith (March 3, 1512) in search of a land so rich in things that all
men, from philosophers to politicians, desire to have,--perfect health
and boundless wealth. We need not say that Ponce de Leon failed as
completely as if he had sailed in search of the Northwest Passage, for
he died in less than ten years, a worn-out old man, aged beyond his
years, leaving little gold behind him, and presenting at his parting
hour anything but the appearance of youth. He was a type of the
Spaniards of those days, who believed everything, and whose valor was as
great as their credulity; and his cruise in search of the _Fontaine de
Jouvence_ was quite worthy of a native of a country which seems to be
allowed the privilege of an occasional "dip" into that fountain, though
at long intervals, but is denied the power of constantly bathing in it.

[Footnote A: The belief in the existence of the Fountain of
Youth belongs to many countries and to all times. Not to mention
other instances, Herodotus, in his third book, (23,) tells of a
fountain of the kind which was possessed by "the long-lived
Ethiopians," and which caused the bather's flesh to become sleek
and glossy, and sent forth an odor like that of violets. Peter
Martyr, to whom we owe so many lively pictures of the effect on
the European mind of the discovery of America and its
consequences, wrote to Leo X. of the marvellous fountain which
was sought by Ponce de Leon, and in terms that leave no doubt
that he was well inclined to place considerable faith in the
truth of the common story. The clever Pope probably believed as
much of it as he did of the New Testament. Peter Martyr does
not, we think, mention the Ethiopian fountain, of which, as he
was a good scholar, and that was the age of the revival of
classic learning, he must have read.]

Spain, unlike most other countries, rises and falls, and apparently is
never so near to degradation as when she is most strong, and never so
near to power as when she is at the weakest point to which a nation can
sink and still remain a nation. All states have had both good and evil
fortune, but no other great European kingdom has known the extreme and
extraordinary changes that have been experienced by Spain. France has
met with heavy reverses, but she has been a great and powerful country
ever since the days of Philip Augustus, whose body was turned up the
other day, after a repose of more than six centuries. Even the victories
of the English Plantagenets could but temporarily check her growth; and
notwithstanding the successes of Eugene and Marlborough, Louis XIV. left
France a greater country than he found it. England's lowest point was
reached during the reigns of her first four Stuart monarchs, but her
weakness was exhibited only on the side of foreign politics: it being
absurd to suppose that the country which could produce Hampden and
Cromwell, Strafford and Falkland, and the men who formed the Cavalier
and Roundhead armies, was then in a state of decay. At the worst, she
was but depressed, and the removal of such dead weights from her as
Charles I. and James II. was all that was necessary to enable her to
vindicate her claim to a first-rate place in the European family. In
1783, at the close of the American War, men said that all was over with
England; but so mistaken were they, that at that very time were growing
up the men who were to lead her fleets and armies with success in
contests compared with which the combats of Gates and Burgoyne, of
Cornwallis and Washington, were but as skirmishes. No other nation,
perhaps, ever had so sudden and so great a fall as that which France met
with in 1814-15. It was the most perfect specimen of the "grand smash"
order of things that history mentions, if we consider both what was
lost, and how quickly it was lost. But it was humiliating merely, and
was attended with no loss of true strength. There was taken from France
that which she had no right to hold, any more than England has at this
moment to hold Gibraltar and Aden and India. France remained much as she
had been under the old monarchy, and there were some millions more of
Frenchmen than had ever lived under a Bourbon of former days, and they
were of a better breed than the political slaves, and in some instances
the personal serfs, who had existed under kings that misruled at
Versailles and Marly. How rapidly France rose above the effects of her
fall we have seen, as her recovery belongs to contemporary history. Her
various mind was never more vigorous than it has been since 1815. As to
her political and military greatness, millions of men who were living on
Waterloo's day, and who read of that "dishonest victory" as "news,"
lived to read the details of Solferino, and of the redemption of Italy.

Not so has it been with Spain. Unlike all other nations in all other
respects, she could not allow herself to resemble them even in the
matter of making sacrifices to Mutability. Had Juan Ponce de Leon been
so unlucky as to find the Fountain of Youth, and had he been so unwise
as to reserve its waters for his own private washing and drinking, and
so have lived from the age of American discovery to the age of American
secession, he would, as a Spaniard, have been forced to undergo many
mortifications in the course of the dozen generations that he would then
have survived beyond his originally appointed time. Spain has been a
greater country than any other in Europe, but she has experienced
greater changes than any other European country. She has never known
such a catastrophe as that which befell France in the early part of our
century, but her losses have been far beyond those which France has ever
met with. It was the lot of France to fall at once, to pass from the
highest place in the world to the lowest at one step, to abdicate her
hegemony with something of that rapidity which is common in dreams, but
which is of rare occurrence in real life. It has been the lot of Spain
to perish by the dry rot, and to lose imperial positions through the
operation of internal causes. So situated as to be almost beyond the
reach of effective foreign attack, Spain has had to contend against the
processes of domestic decay more than any other leading nation of modern
times. To these she has often had to succumb, but she has never failed
in due time to redeem herself, and, after having been a by-word for
imbecility, to rise again to a commanding place. Three times in less
than three centuries have the Spaniards fallen so low as to become of
less account in the European system than the feeblest of the Northern
peoples; and on each occasion has the native, inherent vigor of the race
enabled it to astonish mankind by entering again upon the career of
greatness, not always, it must be allowed, after the wisest fashion, but
so as to testify to the continued existence of those high qualities
which made the Castilian the Roman of the sixteenth century.

Spain was of considerable importance in Europe from a very early period
of modern history; but the want of union among her communities, and the
presence of Mussulman power in the Peninsula, prevented her from
exercising more influence in the Old World than would fall to our share
in the New, should the principles of the Secession party prevail. It was
not until a union had been effected through the marriage of Ferdinand
and Isabella, that the power of Christian Spain was brought to bear upon
the remnant of the Mussulmans of that country, and rounded and completed
the work of redeeming it from the dominion of the followers of the
Prophet, who had, on the whole, ruled their possessions better than the
Christian states had been ruled. The fall of Granada, in 1492, was
hailed throughout Christendom as a great triumph for the Cross, as in
one sense it was; but there was not a Christian country which would not
have been the gainer, if the Mussulmans of Spain had risen victorious
from the last game which they played with the adversaries of their
religion in a duel that had endured for more than seven hundred years.
Many a Pagan country, too, which had never heard either of Jesus or of
Mahomet, was interested in the event of the War of Granada. Montezuma
and Atahuallpa, who never had so much as dreamed of Europe, had their
fate determined by the decision of the long struggle between the rival
religions and peoples of the Peninsula; and Boabdil was not the only
monarch, by many, who then and there had his lot decided. Much of
America, and not a little of Europe, were conquered on the Plains of
Granada; and "the Last Sigh of the Moor" may have been given, not so
much to his own sad fate, as over the evil that was to come, and which
was to affect popes and princes and peoples alike. There was not a
country in the world but might have served itself well, if it had sent
aid to the struggling Moors. Instead of rejoicing over the victory of
the Spanish Christians, the world might have sent forth a wail in
consequence of it, as best expressing the sense that should have existed
of the woes which that victory was to be the means of bringing upon
mankind. The issue of that Peninsular contest was in every way bad, and
no good has ever come from it, but evil in abundance. The fountain that
was then unsealed was one of bitter waters only. The sympathies of men
should be with the Moors, who were the more enlightened, the more
liberal, and the wiser of the two races that then grappled for a final
encounter. Being the weaker party, they fell, but they were destined to
have grand funeral games.

Freed from the presence of any Mussulman states, Spain was enabled to
begin a grand European career in the latter years of the fifteenth
century, the conquest of Granada and the discovery of America having
given her a degree of power that gained for her the world's profoundest
respect. Partly by success in war, and partly through a series of
fortunate marriages, she became the first member of the European
commonwealth in a quarter of a century after the overthrow of the Moors.
The first of her Austro-Burgundian kings was made Emperor of Germany,
and by birth he was lord of the Netherlands. In a few years, and after
the conquest of Mexico, he had a French king among his captives, and the
Pope was shut up by one of his armies in the Castle of St. Angelo. Yet a
few years more, and Peru was added to the dominions of Spain. The
position and principles of the Emperor-King made him the champion of the
old order of things in Europe as against the Reformation, which added
immensely to his power. Spain was then, as she is now, and as probably
she ever will be, intensely Catholic, and as Papal as any country
valuing its independence well could be. How she regarded Protestantism,
and all other forms of "heresy," we know from the fiery energy--it was
literally of a fiery character--with which she disposed of all the
Reformers, of every degree, upon whom her iron hand could be laid. Had
Charles V. been inclined to favor the Reformation, from his position as
Emperor of Germany, he would soon have been diverted from any such
thought by considerations drawn from his position as King of the Spains.
A Mussulman, or a Hebrew, or an avowed atheist would have had a better
chance of being a powerful and popular sovereign at Valladolid than a
pious man who should have been inclined to look with favor upon Dr.
Luther. It may be doubted if even a king could have been safe from the
inquiries of the Inquisition. Thus Spain was not only at the head of
Europe because of her military superiority and the extent of her home
territory and foreign dominion, but, as the champion of the Church, she
had a moral power such as no other country has ever possessed, her
championship of the Pope being something very different from Napoleon
III.'s championship of the Pope of to-day. The German aristocracy might
be after the loaves and fishes of the Church, when they professed
readiness to aid in warfare against the Reformers; but no one could
doubt the zeal of the Spanish patricians, when _they_ dedicated
their swords and lances to the work of extirpating all enemies of the
faith. An Englishman of 1857 could not have been more hostile to a Sepoy
than a Spaniard of 1557 was to a Protestant. Religious power, political
power, military power, and long-continued success in the cabinet and in
the field, all combined to place Spain in a position such as no other
nation had ever known, such as no other nation ever will know. Even the
failures of Charles V.--his flight before Maurice of Saxony, and his
defeat at Metz--did not sensibly abate the power of Spain, for they
concerned Germany more than they did the Peninsular subjects of the
disappointed monarch.

When Philip II. succeeded to most of his father's abdicated thrones,
there was no diminution of Spanish pretensions, and he became the
mightiest sovereign that Europe had known since Charlemagne. Philip's
failure to obtain the Imperial throne was a personal disappointment to
both father and son, but it was no loss of real power to the elder
branch of the House of Austria. The death of Mary of England, though it
prevented Philip from availing himself of the men and money of his
wife's kingdom, was rather beneficial to him, as chief of the Spanish
dominion, than otherwise. What could he have done with the haughty,
arrogant, self-sufficient islanders, who were as proud as the Castilians
themselves, without any of the imperial pretensions of the Castilians to
justify their pride, had Mary lived and reigned, while he alone should
have ruled? There would have been civil war in England but for Mary's
death, which occurred at a happy time both for her and for her subjects.
Philip also lost a portion of his Northern hereditary dominions, because
he would have a tyranny established in the Netherlands. But all that he
lost in Germany, in the Netherlands, and in Britain was compensated by
his easy conquest of Portugal after the extinction of the House of Avis.
The Portugal of those times was a very different country from the
Portugal of these times. It was not only Portugal and the Algarves that
Philip added to the dominions of Spain,--and that alone would have been
a great thing, for it would have perfected the Spanish rule of the
Peninsula, always a most desirable event in the eyes of Castilians,--but
the enormous and wide-spread possessions of Portugal in Africa, in
America, and in Asia became subject to the conqueror. Portugal alone was
of far more value to Spain than England could have been; but Portugal
and her colonies together made a greater prize than England, Holland,
and Germany could have made, recollecting how full of "heretics" those
countries were, and that the more heretical subjects Philip should have
had, the less powerful he would have been. Portugal was as "Faithful" as
Spain was "Catholic," and both titles now belonged to Philip. At that
time, Philip's power, to outward seeming, was at its height. It was not
certain that he would lose Holland, and it was certain that he had
gained Portugal and all her dependencies. He was absolute master of the
Spanish Peninsula, and his will was law over nearly all the Italian
Peninsula except that portion of it which was ruled by Venice. He alone
of European sovereigns had vast possessions in both Indies, the East and
the West. He was monarch of no insignificant part of Africa, and in
America he was the Great King, his dominion there being almost as little
disputed as was that of Selkirk in his island. He was still master of
the best part of the Low Countries, and the Hollanders were regarded as
nothing more than his rebellious subjects. He was the sole Western
potentate who had lieutenants in the East, who ruled over Indian
territories that never had been reached even by the Macedonian
Alexander. From his cabinet in Madrid, he fixed the fate of many
millions of the first peoples in the world, members of the races most
advanced in all the arts of war and of peace. His least whisper could
affect the every-day life of men in the principal cities of both
hemispheres. He who was sovereign at Madrid and Lisbon, at Naples and
Milan, at Brussels and Antwerp, was sovereign also at Mexico and Lima,
at Goa and Ormuz.

Philip's power was by no means to be measured solely by the extent and
various character of his dominions. His position, as a great monarch,
and as the chief champion of the Catholic cause, made him, at times,
master of many European countries over which he could exercise no direct
rule. England trembled before him even after the "Armada's pride" had
been rebuked, and Elizabeth came much nearer being vanquished by him
than is generally supposed. Nothing but the blockade of Parma's forces
by the Dutch, and the occurrence of storms, saved England from
experiencing that sad fate which she has ever been so ready, with cause
and without cause, to visit upon other countries. In Ireland the Spanish
monarch was more respected than Elizabeth, its nominal ruler, and he was
regarded by the Irish not only with reverence as the first of Catholic
princes, but also with that affection which men ever feel for the
enemies of their enemies. Whoso hates England is sure of Irish
affection, and as it is today so was it three hundred years ago, and so
will it ever be, unless the very human heart itself shall undergo a
complete change. Scotland furnished a Spanish party that might have
become formidable to England, had events taken a slightly different
turn; and the old Caledonian hatred of Southrons had not been
extinguished by the success of the Reform party in both countries. The
Scotch Catholics called Philip "the pillar of the Christian
commonwealth," (_Totius reipublicae Christianae columen_,) and sought
his assistance to restore the old religion to their country. France was
for several years more at the command of Philip than at that of any of
its own sovereigns, the weak dregs of the line of Valois. The League
would willingly have transferred the French crown to any person whom he
might have named to wear it; and perhaps nothing but the sensible
decision of Henry IV., that Paris was worth a mass, prevented that crown
from passing to some member of the Spanish branch of the House of
Austria. In Germany Philip had an influence corresponding to his power,
which was all the greater because he was the head of a Germanic house
that under him seemed destined to develop an old idea that it should
become ruler of the world. If anything marred his strength in that
quarter, it was the fact that the junior branch of the Austrian family
was at that time inclined to liberalism in politics,--an offence against
the purposes and traditions of the whole family of which few members of
it have ever been guilty, before or since.

But this mighty Spanish power came to an end with the monarch in whom it
was represented. The sources of Spanish strength had been drying up for
a century, but the personal character of the successive monarchs, and
vast foreign acquisitions, had disguised the fact from the world. Philip
died in 1598, and in reality left his empire but a skeleton to his son,
a youth of feeble mind, but under whose rule a change of policy was
effected, not, as has been sometimes supposed, from any deep views on
the part of the Count-Duke Lerma, but because it was impossible for
Spain to maintain the place she had held under Philip II. Even had
Philip III. been as able a man as his father, or his grandfather, he
could not have preserved the ascendency of Spain,--that country having
changed much, and Europe more. Every European nation, with the exception
of Turkey,--and the Turks were only encamped in Europe,--had advanced
during the sixteenth century, except Spain, which had declined. Thus had
she become weak, positively and relatively. Rest was necessary to her,
and under the rule of Lerma she obtained it. He supported the peace
policy of that old aristocratical party of which Ruy Gomez had been the
chief, but which had been hardly heard of in the last twenty years of
Philip II.'s reign. That monarch, on his death-bed, regretted that "to
his grace in bestowing on him so great a realm, God had not been pleased
to add the grace of granting him a successor capable of continuing to
rule it"; but had his son been all that the most unreasonable parent
could have desired, he could not have pursued his father's policy. Lerma
did but act as he was forced to act. The circumstance that the Catholic
Reaction had triumphed was alone sufficient to make a change necessary.
Spanish greatness was no longer the leading political interest of the
Church, and Rome was at liberty to have some regard to the new powers
that were growing up in Europe. Pacific ideas prevailed. Spain ceased to
make war in every direction, and husbanded her resources, and began to
renew her native strength. The skeleton bequeathed by Philip II. became
clothed with flesh, and sinewy. Could this policy have been continued
for a generation, Spanish history might have been made to read
differently from the melancholy text it now presents. But the process of
rehabilitation was not allowed to go on. There had always been a strong
party opposed to Lerma, and that statesman's friendliness to the English
and the Dutch made him liable to the charge of favoring heresy,--a
charge that was the heaviest that could be brought against any one in
the estimation of Philip III., who was as bigoted as his father. The
Catholic and warlike policy of Idiaquez, Granvella, and Moura was
revived. The two branches of the Austrian family were again brought into
the closest alliance, and at a time when the German branch had become
even more Catholic than the elder branch. Spain stepped once more into
the European arena, and her generals and armies by their abilities and
exploits revived recollections of what had been done by Parma and his
hosts. Spinola, who was scarcely inferior to Farnese, conquered the
Palatinate, and so began the Thirty Years' War favorably to the Catholic
cause. The great victory of Nordlingen, won by the Catholics in 1635,
was due to the valor of the Spanish troops in the Imperial army. Spain
appeared to be as powerful as at any former period, and the revival of
her ascendency might have been expected by those who judged only from
external indications of strength. Yet a few years, however, and it was
clear to all politicians at least that Spain was far gone into a
decline, and that the course of Olivarez had been fatal to her
greatness; and the mass of mankind, who judge only from glaring actions,
could not fail to appreciate the nature of such events as the defeat of
Rocroi and the loss of Portugal, the latter including the loss of all
the dependencies of the Portuguese in Africa, America, and India. No
historical transaction of the seventeenth century testifies so strongly
to the weakness of a first-class power as the Revolution of Portugal.
Though Portugal lay at the very door of Spain, that country slipped from
her feeble hands, and she never could recover it. Having resumed her
encroaching, domineering course before she had fairly recovered her
strength, she broke down in less than a quarter of a century, though
even then the full extent of her weakness was not generally understood.
It is an amusement to read works that were written in the reigns of
Philip IV. and Charles II., in which Spain is spoken of as a great
power, and to compare the words of their writers with the actual facts
of the case. If we were to fix upon any one date as indicating the final
breaking down of Austrian Spain, it would be the year 1659, when the
treaty of the Pyrenees was made, and when the old rival of France became
virtually her vassal. From that time we must date the beginning of that
strange interference in Spanish affairs which has formed so much of the
public business of France, whereby one of the proudest of peoples have
become, as it were, provincials to one of the vainest of peoples. It is
true that there were more wars between Austrian Spain and France, but
they served only to show that the former had lost the power to contend
with her rival, who might look forward to the day when the empire of
Philip II. should fall to pieces, and furnish spoil to those strong
nations that watch over the beds of sick men in purple.

The state of decay in which the first Bourbon king of Spain found his
inheritance, in 1701, is well known. The War of the Succession soon
followed, and Spain was shorn of some of her most magnificent foreign
possessions. All that she had held in Flanders was lost,--and so were
Naples, and Sicily, and Sardinia, and the Milanese, and other lands that
had been ruled, and wellnigh ruined, by the Austro-Burgundian kings. The
English had Gibraltar, and were holding Minorca also. Bourbon Spain was
not to be Austrian Spain,--that was clear. But this trimming and pruning
of the Peninsular monarchy were very useful to it; and Spain, having
been ploughed up by the sword for twelve successive years, was in
condition to yield something beyond what it had produced since the death
of Philip II. Accordingly, under the ascendency of the Italian Alberoni,
Spain became rapidly powerful; and could that remarkable statesman have
confined his labors to affairs purely Spanish in their character and
purpose, that country might have taken, and have continued to hold, the
first place in Europe. He, however, with all his talents, was
intellectually deficient in some important respects, and so all his
schemes came to nought, and he fell. He tried to effect too much, and
though fully sensible of the necessity of peace to Spain, he plunged
into war. He did, in fact, what the rulers of Spain are doing to-day: he
sought to restore the old Castilian influence by engaging the country in
wars that would have been foolish, even if they had not been unjust,
when he should have continued to direct all his attention to its
internal affairs. Had he been at the head of any other than a Spanish
ministry, Alberoni would probably have borne himself rationally; but
there is something in the politics of Spain that affects even the wisest
of heads, often turning them, as it were, and rendering their owners the
strangest of caricatures. It is sometimes said that the most Irish of
the people of Ireland are those who have come latest into the green
island, there being something in its air and soil that soon converts the
stranger into a true Hibernian in all moral respects; but the remark is
more applicable to Spain than to Ireland, as in the former country
foreign statesmen have more than once made Spanish policy ridiculous by
taking that one step which separates that quality from the sublime. What
in the person of a Castilian is at the worst but Quixotic becomes in the
foreigner, or man of foreign descent, the merest burlesque upon

Alberoni's fall did not imply the fall of Spain. The renewal of vigor
that she had gained under his direction was sufficiently great to carry
her well through more than seventy years, during which she stood on an
equal footing with France, the Empire, and Great Britain, and for most
of the time was the superior of Russia and Prussia, whose European
greatness did not begin until the second half of the eighteenth century
had become somewhat advanced. It is difficult for the men of to-day to
understand that Spain was really a great power under the Bourbon kings,
down to the first years of the French Revolution. We have seen her,
until very recently, a country of little more European account than
Portugal; and that she should, but eighty years since, have treated with
England as equal with equal, after having assisted at the work of
England's humiliation, it is hard to comprehend. But such was the fact.
Several of the Spanish statesmen of the last Century were very superior
men, the kingdom itself was strong, and the Indies did not experience
any disturbances calculated seriously to embarrass the mother-country.
Then the close union that was brought about between France and Spain, in
the early days of Charles III. and the last days of Louis XV., had no
unimportant effect on the fortunes of Spain. The _Pacte de Famille_
was one of the greatest political transactions of those days. It was
effected just a hundred years ago, and but for the occurrence of the
French Revolution it would have proved most fruitful of remarkable
events. Had it never been made, it may well be doubted if the American
Revolution could have been a successful movement. That Revolution France
was bound to support, both by interest and by sentiment; and the
Family-Compact enabled her to take Spain on to the side of America,
where it is evident that her interests scarcely could have taken her;
and Spain's aid, which was liberally afforded, was necessary to the
success of our ancestors. That it was possible thus to place Spain was
owing to one of those displays of English insolence that have made the
islanders abhorred by the rulers and the ruled of almost every land.
"Charles III. of Spain," says Macaulay, "had early conceived a deadly
hatred of England. Twenty years before, when he was King of the Two
Sicilies, he had been eager to join the coalition against Maria Theresa.
But an English fleet had suddenly appeared in the Bay of Naples. An
English captain had landed, had proceeded to the palace, had laid a
watch on the table, and had told his Majesty that within an hour a
treaty of neutrality must be signed, or a bombardment would commence.
The treaty was signed; the squadron sailed out of the bay twenty-four
hours after it had sailed in; and from that day the ruling passion of
the humbled prince was aversion to the English name. He was at length in
a situation in which he might hope to gratify that passion. He had
recently become King of Spain and the Indies. He saw, with envy and
apprehension, the triumphs of our navy, and the rapid extension of our
colonial empire. He was a Bourbon, and sympathized with the distress of
the house from which he sprang. He was a Spaniard; and no Spaniard could
bear to see Gibraltar and Minorca in the possession of a foreign power.
Impelled by such feelings, Charles concluded a secret treaty with
France. By this treaty, known as the Family-Compact, the two powers
bound themselves, not in express words, but by the clearest implication,
to make war on England in common." Such was the origin of an alliance
that changed the fate of America, and which might have done as much for
Europe but for the fall of the French Bourbons. The statesmen of
England, with that short-sightedness which is the badge of all their
tribe, were nursing the power of Russia, at an enormous expense, in
order that, at a still greater expense, their grandsons might attempt
the bridling of that power, in which they succeeded about as well as did
Doria in bridling the horses of St. Mark. The partition of Poland showed
what Europe had most to fear, and French statesmen were preparing for
the Northern blast, while those of England, according to one of their
own number, who was a Secretary of State, spoke of it as something
indeed inconsistent with national equity and public honor, and therefore
engaging their master's disapprobation, but as not so immediately
interesting as to deserve his interposition. Time, however, would have
brought England right, from regard to her own safety, and she would have
united herself with France, Spain, and Naples to resist Russian
encroachments; and Austria, it may be assumed, would have gone with the
West and the South against the North, for her statesmen had the sagacity
to see that the partition of Poland was adverse to their country's
interests, and the part they had in that most iniquitous of modern
transactions was taken rather from fear than from ambition. They could
not prevent a robbery, and so they aided in it, and shared in the spoil.
But the revolutionary storm came, and broke up the old European system.
Passional politics took the place of diplomacy, and party-spirit usurped
that of patriotism. It was the age of the Reformation repeated, and men
could hail the defeats of their own country with joy, because their
country and their party were on opposite sides in the grand struggle
which opinions were making for supremacy.

In that storm Spain broke down, but not until she had exhibited
considerable power in war, first with France, and then as the ally of
France. Her navy was honorably distinguished, though unfortunate, at St.
Vincent and Trafalgar, and elsewhere, showing that Spanish valor was not
extinct. Napoleon I., unequal to bearing well the good-fortune that had
been made complete at Tilsit, and maddened by the success of England in
her piratical attack on Denmark, resolved to add Spain to his empire,
virtually, if not in terms. He was not content with having her as one of
his most useful and submissive dependencies, whose resources were at his
command as thoroughly as were those of Belgium and Lombardy, but must
needs insist upon having her throne at his disposal. Human folly never
perpetrated a grosser blunder than this, and he established that
"Spanish ulcer" which undermined the strength of the most magnificent
empire that the world had seen for ten centuries; for, if his empire was
in some respects inferior to that of Philip II., in others it was
superior to the Castilian dominion. Out of his action in the Peninsula
grew the Peninsular War, which was to the Spain of our age what the
Succession War had been to the Spain of a century earlier. That country
was prepared by it for another revival, which came at last, but which
also came slowly. Had Ferdinand VII. been a wise and truthful man, or
had there been Spanish statesmen capable of governing both monarch and
monarchy, the days of Alberoni would have been repeated before 1820. But
there was neither an honest monarch nor a great statesman in the
kingdom, and Spain daily became weaker and more contemptible. Her
colonial empire disappeared, with a few exceptions, such as Cuba and the
Philippines. The sun ceased to shine constantly on that empire which had
been warmed by his beams through three centuries, and transferred that
honor to England. Spanish politics became the world's scorn; and a
French army, acting as the police of the Holy Alliance, crossed the
Pyrenees, and made Ferdinand VII. once more an absolute king. After his
death, a civil war raged for a long time between the Christinos and the
Carlists, parties which took their names from the Queen-Mother and from
Don Carlos, who claimed to be the legitimate King of the Spains. At
length that war was brought to an end, and the throne of Isabella II.
appears to be as well established as was that of Isabella I.

During all those unhappy years, Spain had, to use the common phrase,
been making progress. Foreign war and civil war, and political
convulsions of every kind, had been eminently useful to her. The Arachne
webs and dust of ages had been blown away by the cannon of France and
England. Old ideas were exploded. Young Spain had displaced Old Spain. A
generation had grown up who had no sympathy with the antique world. In
spite of repeated invasions, and almost unbroken bad government, and
colonial losses such as no other country ever had experienced, the
material power of Spain had vastly advanced between 1808 and 1850. Since
1850 the Spaniards have been prosperous people, and every year has seen
their power increased; and they are now demanding for their country
admission into the list of the Great Powers of Europe. They have formed
a numerous army, and a navy that is more than respectable. They are
constructing railways, and encouraging business in all its forms. The
public revenue is equal to about ninety millions of our money, which
would liberally provide for every expenditure that the Government ought
to make, but which cannot meet the wants of that Government, because the
Spanish statesmen of 1862 are as unwise as were any of their
predecessors, most of whom treated the dollar as if it contained twelve
dimes. "To spend half a crown out of sixpence a day" requires the
possession of as much ingenuity as would, if rationally employed, serve
to convert the sixpence into a crown; but Spain rarely permits common
sense to govern her action, and prefers debt to prosperity, when she can
fairly make her choice between the two. As to her public morality, a
very little observation proves that she is not an iota more merciful or
consistent now than she was when she banished the Moriscos. At the very
time when she is engaged in making war on Mexico because of alleged
wrongs received at the hands of that country, she refuses to pay her own
debts, thus placing herself on the level of Mississippi, which can raise
money to aid in warring against the Union, and yet will not liquidate
its bonds, which are held by the English allies of American rebels. This
does not promise much for the future of Spain, and she may find her
armies brought to a stand in Mexico from the want of money; and thus
will be repeated the blunder of the sixteenth century, when the
victories of the Spaniards in the Low Countries were made fruitless
because their sovereign was unable to pay his soldiers, and so they
became mutineers at the very time when it was most requisite that their
loyalty should be perfect, in order that the Castilian ascendency might
be entirely restored. Spain walks in a circle, and she repeats the
follies of her past with a pertinacity that would seem to indicate,
that, while she has forgotten everything, she has learned nothing.

This third revival of Spain has been attended with a liberal exhibition
of the same follies which we know it was her custom to display after
preceding revivals. Instead of attending to her internal affairs, which
demanded all her attention and the use of all her means, she has plunged
into the great sea of foreign politics, with the view, it should seem,
of being admitted formally into the list of leading European Powers.
That she should desire a first place is by no means discreditable to

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