Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 1, Issue 2, December, 1857 by Various

Part 1 out of 5

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.5 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

Distributed Proofreaders



VOL. I.--DECEMBER, 1857.--NO. II.





THE only part of this ancient church which escaped destruction by fire
in 1771 was, most fortunately, the famous Brancacci chapel. Here are
the frescos by Masolino da Panicale, who died in the early part of the
fifteenth century,--the Preaching of Saint Peter, and the Healing of
the Sick. His scholar, Masaccio, (1402-1443,) continued the series,
the completion of which was entrusted to Filippino Lippi, son of Fra

No one can doubt that the hearty determination evinced by Masolino and
Masaccio to deal with actual life, to grapple to their souls the
visible forms of humanity, and to reproduce the types afterwards in
new, vivid, breathing combinations of dignity and intelligent action,
must have had an immense effect upon the course of Art. To judge by
the few and somewhat injured specimens of these masters which are
accessible, it is obvious that they had much more to do in forming the
great schools of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, than a painter
of such delicate, but limited genius as that of Fra Angelico could
possibly have. Certainly, the courage and accuracy exhibited in the
nude forms of Adam and Eve expelled from paradise, and the expressive
grace in the group of Saint Paul conversing with Saint Peter in
prison, where so much knowledge and power of action are combined with
so much beauty, all show an immense advance over the best works of the
preceding three quarters of a century.

Besides the great intrinsic merits of these paintings, the Brancacci
chapel is especially interesting from the direct and unquestionable
effect which it is known to have had upon younger painters. Here
Raphael and Michel Angelo, in their youth, and Benvenuto Cellini
passed many hours, copying and recopying what were then the first
masterpieces of painting, the traces of which study are distinctly
visible in their later productions; and here, too, according to
Cellini, the famous punch in the nose befell Buonarotti, by which his
well-known physiognomy acquired its marked peculiarity. Torregiani,
painter and sculptor of secondary importance, but a bully of the first
class,--a man who was in the habit of knocking about the artists whom
he could not equal, and of breaking both their models and their
heads,--had been accustomed to copy in the Brancacci chapel, among the
rest. He had been much annoyed, according to his own account, by
Michel Angelo's habit of laughing at the efforts of artists inferior
in skill to himself, and had determined to punish him. One day,
Buonarotti came into the chapel as usual, and whistled and sneered at
a copy which Torregiani was making. The aggrieved artist, a man of
large proportions, very truculent of aspect, with a loud voice and a
savage frown, sprang upon his critic, and dealt him such a blow upon
the nose, that the bone and cartilage yielded under his hand,
according to his own account, as if they had been made of
dough,--_"come se fosse stato un cialdone."_ This was when both
were very young men; but Torregiani, when relating the story many
years afterwards, always congratulated himself that Buonarotti would
bear the mark of the blow all his life. It may be added, that the
bully met a hard fate afterwards. Having executed a statue in Spain
for a grandee, he was very much outraged by receiving only thirty
scudi as his reward, and accordingly smashed the statue to pieces with
a sledge-hammer. In revenge, the Spaniard accused him of heresy, so
that the unlucky artist was condemned to the flames by the
Inquisition, and only escaped that horrible death by starving himself
in prison before the execution.



In the chapel of the Sassetti, in this church, is a good set of
frescos by Dominic Ghirlandaio, representing passages from the life of
Saint Francis. They are not so masterly as his compositions in the
Santa Maria Novella. Moreover, they are badly placed, badly lighted,
and badly injured. They are in a northwestern corner, where light
never comes that comes to all. The dramatic power and Flemish skill in
portraiture of the man are, however, very visible, even in the
darkness. No painter of his century approached him in animated
grouping and powerful physiognomizing. Dignified, noble, powerful, and
natural, he is the exact counterpart of Fra Angelico, among the
_Quattrocentisti_. Two great, distinct systems,--the shallow,
shrinking, timid, but rapturously devotional, piously sentimental
school, of which Beato Angelico was _facile princeps_, painfully
adventuring out of the close atmosphere of the _miniatori_ into
the broader light and more gairish colors of the actual, and falling
back, hesitating and distrustful; and the hardy, healthy, audacious
naturalists, wreaking strong and warm human emotions upon vigorous
expression and confident attitude;--these two widely separated streams
of Art, remote from each other in origin, and fed by various rills, in
their course through the century, were to meet in one ocean at its
close. This was then the fulness of perfection, the age of Angelo and
Raphael, Leonardo and Correggio.



Fra Beato Angelico, who was a brother of this Dominican house, has
filled nearly the whole monastery with the works of his
hand. Considering the date of his birth, 1387, and his conventual
life, he was hardly less wonderful than his wonderful epoch. Here is
the same convent, the same city; while instead merely of the works of
Cimabue, Giotto, and Orgagna, there are masterpieces by all the
painters who ever lived to study;--yet imagine the snuffy old monk who
will show you about the edifice, or any of his brethren, coming out
with a series of masterpieces! One might as well expect a new
Savonarola, who was likewise a friar in this establishment, to preach
against Pio Nono, and to get himself burned in the Piazza for his

In the old chapter-house is a very large, and for the angelic Frater a
very hazardous performance,--a Crucifixion. The heads here are full
of feeling and feebleness, except those of Mary Mother and Mary
Magdalen, which are both very touching and tender. There is, however,
an absolute impotence to reproduce the actual, to deal with groups of
humanity upon a liberal scale. There is his usual want of
discrimination, too, in physiognomy; for if the seraphic and
intellectual head of the penitent thief were transferred to the
shoulders of the Saviour in exchange for his own, no one could dispute
that it would be an improvement.

Up stairs is a very sweet Annunciation. The subdued, demure, somewhat
astonished joy of the Virgin is poetically rendered, both in face and
attitude, and the figure of the angel has much grace. A small, but
beautiful composition, the Coronation of the Virgin, is perhaps the
most impressive of the whole series.

Below is a series of frescos by a very second-rate artist,
Poccetti. Among them is a portrait of Savonarola; but as the reformer
was burned half a century before Poccetti was born, it has not even
the merit of authenticity. It was from this house that Savonarola was
taken to be imprisoned and executed in 1498. There seems something
unsatisfactory about Savonarola. One naturally sympathizes with the
bold denouncer of Alexander VI.; but there was a lack of benevolence
in his head and his heart. Without that anterior depression of the
sinciput, he could hardly have permitted two friends to walk into the
fire in his stead, as they were about to do in the stupendous and
horrible farce enacted in the Piazza Gran Duca. There was no lack of
self-esteem either in the man or his head. Without it, he would
scarcely have thought so highly of his rather washy scheme for
reorganizing the democratic government, and so very humbly of the
genius of Dante, Petrarch, and others, whose works he condemned to the
flames. A fraternal regard, too, for such great artists as Fra
Angelico and Fra Bartolommeo,--both members of his own convent, and
the latter a personal friend,--might have prevented his organizing
that famous holocaust of paintings, that wretched iconoclasm, by which
he signalized his brief period of popularity and power. In weighing,
gauging, and measuring such a man, one ought to remember, that if he
could have had his way and carried out all his schemes, he would have
abolished Borgianism certainly, and perhaps the papacy, but that he
would have substituted the rhapsodical reign of a single demagogue,
perpetually seeing visions and dreaming dreams for the direction of
his fellow-citizens, who were all to be governed by the hallucinations
of this puritan Mahomet.



The famous cemetery of the Medici, the Sagrestia Nuova, is a ponderous
and dismal toy. It is a huge mass of expensive, solemn, and insipid
magnificence, erected over the carcasses of as contemptible a family
as ever rioted above the earth, or rotted under it. The only man of
the race, Cosmo il Vecchio, who deserves any healthy admiration,
although he was the real assassin of Florentine and Italian freedom,
and has thus earned the nickname of _Pater Patriae,_ is not buried
here. The series of mighty dead begins with the infamous Cosmo, first
grand duke, the contemporary of Philip II. of Spain, and his
counterpart in character and crime. Then there is Ferdinando I., whose
most signal achievement was not eating the poisoned pie prepared by
the fair hands of Bianca Capello. There are other Ferdinandos, and
other Cosmos,--all grand-ducal and _pater-patrial,_ as Medici
should be.

The chapel is a vast lump of Florentine mosaic, octagonal, a hundred
feet or so in diameter, and about twice as high. The cupola has some
brand-new frescos, by Benvenuto. "Anthropophagi, whose heads do grow
beneath their shoulders," may enjoy these pictures upon domes. For
common mortals it is not agreeable to remain very long upside down,
even to contemplate masterpieces, which these certainly are not.

The walls of the chapel are all incrusted with gorgeous marbles and
precious stones, from malachite, porphyry, lapis-lazuli, chalcedony,
agate, to all the finer and more expensive gems which shone in Aaron's
ephod. When one considers that an ear-ring or a brooch, half an inch
long, of Florentine mosaic work, costs five or six dollars, and that
here is a great church of the same material and workmanship as a
breastpin, one may imagine it to have been somewhat expensive.

The Sagrestia Nuova was built by Michel Angelo, to hold his monuments
to Lorenzo de' Medici, duke of Urbino, and grandson of Lorenzo the
Magnificent, and to Julian de' Medici, son of Lorenzo Magnifico.

It is not edifying to think of the creative soul and plastic hands of
Buonarotti employed in rendering worship to such creatures. This
Lorenzo is chiefly known as having married Madeleine de Boulogne, and
as having died, as well as his wife, of a nameless disorder,
immediately after they had engendered the renowned Catharine de'
Medici, whose hideous life was worthy of its corrupt and poisoned

Did Michel Angelo look upon his subject as a purely imaginary one?
Surely he must have had some definite form before his mental vision;
for although sculpture cannot, like painting, tell an elaborate story,
still each figure must have a moral and a meaning, must show cause for
its existence, and indicate a possible function, or the mind of the
spectator is left empty and craving.

Here, at the tomb of Lorenzo, are three masterly figures. An heroic,
martial, deeply contemplative figure sits in grand repose. A
statesman, a sage, a patriot, a warrior, with countenance immersed in
solemn thought, and head supported and partly hidden by his hand, is
brooding over great recollections and mighty deeds. Was this Lorenzo,
the husband of Madeleine, the father of Catharine? Certainly the mind
at once dethrones him from his supremacy upon his own tomb, and
substitutes an Epaminondas, a Cromwell, a Washington,--what it
wills. 'Tis a godlike apparition, and need be called by no mortal
name. We feel unwilling to invade the repose of that majestic reverie
by vulgar invocation. The hero, nameless as he must ever remain, sits
there in no questionable shape, nor can we penetrate the sanctuary of
that marble soul. Till we can summon Michel, with his chisel, to add
the finishing strokes to the grave, silent face of the naked figure
reclining below the tomb, or to supply the lacking left hand to the
colossal form of female beauty sitting upon the opposite sepulchre, we
must continue to burst in ignorance. Sooner shall the ponderous
marble jaws of the tomb open, that Lorenzo may come forth to claim his
right to the trophy, than any admirer of human genius will doubt that
the shade of some real hero was present to the mind's eye of the
sculptor, when he tore these stately forms out of the enclosing rock.

A colossal hero sits, serene and solemn, upon a sepulchre. Beneath him
recline two vast mourning figures, one of each sex. One longs to
challenge converse with the male figure, with the unfinished
Sphinx-like face, who is stretched there at his harmonious length,
like an ancient river-god without his urn. There is nothing appalling
or chilling in his expression, nor does he seem to mourn without
hope. 'Tis a stately recumbent figure, of wonderful anatomy, without
any exaggeration of muscle, and, accordingly, his name is----Twilight!

Why Twilight should grieve at the tomb of Lorenzo, grandson of Lorenzo
Magnifico, any more than the grandfather would have done, does not
seem very clear, even to Twilight himself, who seems, after all, in a
very crepuscular state upon the subject. The mistiness is much aided
by the glimmering expression of his half-finished features.

But if Twilight should be pensive at the demise of Lorenzo, is there
any reason why Aurora should weep outright upon the same occasion?
This Aurora, however, weeping and stately, all nobleness and all
tears, is a magnificent creation, fashioned with the audacious
accuracy which has been granted to few modern sculptors. The figure
and face are most beautiful, and rise above all puny criticism; and as
one looks upon that sublime and wailing form, that noble and nameless
child of a divine genius, the flippant question dies on the lip, and
we seek not to disturb that passionate and beautiful image of woman's
grief by idle curiosity or useless speculation.

The monument, upon the opposite side, to Julian, third son of Lorenzo
Magnifico, is of very much the same character. Here are also two
mourning figures. One is a sleeping and wonderfully beautiful female
shape, colossal, in a position less adapted to repose than to the
display of the sculptor's power and her own perfections. This is
Night. A stupendously sculptured male figure, in a reclining attitude,
and exhibiting, I suppose, as much learning in his _torso_ as
does the famous figure in the Elgin marbles, strikes one as the most
triumphant statue of modern times.

The figure of Julian is not agreeable. The neck, long and twisted,
suggests an heroic ostrich in a Roman breastplate. The attitude, too,
is ungraceful. The hero sits with his knees projecting beyond the
perpendicular, so that his legs seem to be doubling under him, a
position deficient in grace and dignity.

It is superfluous to say that the spectator must invent for himself
the allegory which he may choose to see embodied in this stony
trio. It is not enough to be told the words of the charade,--Julian,
Night, Morning. One can never spell out the meaning by putting
together the group with the aid of such a key. Night is Night,
obviously, because she is asleep. For an equally profound reason, Day
is Day, because he is not asleep; and both, looked at in this vulgar
light, are creations as imaginative as Simon Snug, with his lantern,
representing moonshine. If the figures should arise and walk across
the chapel, changing places with the couple opposite them, as if in a
sepulchral quadrille, would the allegory become more intelligible?
Could not Day or Night move from Julian's monument, and take up the
same position at Lorenzo's tomb, or "Ninny's tomb," or any other tomb?
Was Lorenzo any more to Aurora than Julian, that she should weep for
him only?

Therefore one must invent for one's self the fable of those immortal
groups. Each spectator must pluck out, unaided, the heart of their
mystery. Those matchless colossal forms, which the foolish chroniclers
of the time have baptized Night and Morning, speak an unknown language
to the crowd. They are mute as Sphinx to souls which cannot supply the
music and the poetry which fell from their marble lips upon the ear of
him who created them.



The ancient residence of Cosmo Vecchio and his successors is a
magnificent example of that vast and terrible architecture peculiar to
Florence. This has always been a city, not of streets, but of
fortresses. Each block is one house, but a house of the size of a
citadel; while the corridors and apartments are like casemates and
bastions, so gloomy and savage is their expression. Ancient Florence,
the city of the twelfth and beginning of the thirteenth centuries, the
Florence of the nobles, the Florence of the Ghibellines, the Florence
in which nearly every house was a castle, with frowning towers
hundreds of feet high, machicolated battlements, donjon keeps,
oubliettes, and all other appurtenances of a feudal stronghold, exists
no longer. With the expulsion of the imperial faction, and the advent
of the municipal Guelphs,--that proudest, boldest, most successful,
and most unreasonable _bourgeoisie_ which ever assumed organized
life,--the nobles were curtailed of all their privileges. Their city
castles, too, were shorn of their towers, which were limited to just
so many ells, cloth measure, by the haughty shopkeepers who had
displaced the grandees. The first third of the thirteenth century--the
epoch of the memorable Buondelmonti street fight which lasted thirty
years--was the period in which this dreadful architecture was fixed
upon Florence. Then was the time in which the chains, fastened in
those huge rings which still dangle from the grim house-fronts, were
stretched across the street; thus enclosing and fettering a compact
mass of combatants in an iron embrace, while from the rare and narrow
murder-windows in the walls, and from the beetling roofs, descended
the hail of iron and stone and scalding pitch and red-hot coals to
refresh the struggling throng below.

After this epoch, and with the expiration of the imperial house of the
Hohenstaufen, the nobles here, as in Switzerland, sought to popularize
themselves, to become municipal.

Der Adel steigt von seinen alten Burgen,
Und schwoert den Staedten seinen Buerger-Eid,

said the prophetic old Attinghausen, in his dying moments. The change
was even more extraordinary in Florence. The expulsion of some of the
patrician families was absolute. Others were allowed to participate
with the plebeians in the struggle for civic honors, and for the
wealth earned in commerce, manufactures, and handicraft. It became a
severe and not uncommon punishment to degrade offending individuals or
families into the ranks of nobility, and thus deprive them of their
civil rights. Hundreds of low-born persons have, in a single day, been
declared noble, and thus disfranchised. And the example of Florence
was often followed by other cities.

The result was twofold upon the aristocracy. Those who municipalized
themselves became more enlightened, more lettered, more refined, and,
at the same time, less chivalrous and less martial than their
ancestors. The characters of buccaneer, land-pirate, knight-errant
could not be conveniently united with those of banker, exchange
broker, dealer in dry goods, and general commission agents.

The consequence was that the fighting business became a specialty, and
fell into the hands of private companies. Florence, like Venice, and
other Italian republics, jobbed her wars. The work was done by the
Hawkwoods, the Sforzas, the Bracciones, and other chiefs of the
celebrated free companies, black bands, lance societies, who
understood no other profession, but who were as accomplished in the
arts of their own guild as were any of the five major and seven minor
crafts into which the Florentine burgesses were divided.

This proved a bad thing for the liberties of Florence in the end. The
chieftains of these military clubs, usually from the lowest ranks,
with no capacity but for bloodshed, and no revenue but rapine, often
ended their career by obtaining the seigniory of some petty republic,
a small town, or a handful of hamlets, whose liberty they crushed with
their own iron, and with the gold obtained, in exchange for their
blood, from the city bankers. In the course of time such seigniories
often rolled together, and assumed a menacing shape to all who valued
municipal liberty. Sforza--whose peasant father threw his axe into a
tree, resolving, if it fell, to join, as a common soldier, the roving
band which had just invited him; if it adhered to the wood, to remain
at home a laboring hind--becomes Duke of Milan, and is encouraged in
his usurpation by Cosmo Vecchio, who still gives himself the airs of
first-citizen of Florence.

The serpent, the well-known cognizance of the Visconti, had already
coiled itself around all those fair and clustering cities which were
once the Lombard republics, and had poisoned their vigorous life. The
Ezzelinos, Carraras, Gonzagas, Scalas, had crushed the spirit of
liberty in the neighborhood of Venice. All this had been accomplished
by means of mercenary adventurers, guided only by the love of plunder;
while those two luxurious and stately republics--the one an oligarchy,
the other a democracy--looked on from their marble palaces, enjoying
the refreshing bloodshowers in which their own golden harvests were so
rapidly ripening.

Meanwhile a gigantic despotism was maturing, which was eventually to
crush the power, glory, wealth, and freedom of Italy.

This _palazzo_ of Cosmo the Elder is a good type of Florentine
architecture at its ultimate epoch, just as Cosmo himself was the
largest expression of the Florentine citizen in the last and over-ripe

The Medici family, unheard of in the thirteenth century, obscure and
plebeian in the middle of the fourteenth, and wealthy bankers and
leaders of the democratic party at its close, culminated in the early
part of the fifteenth in the person of Cosmo. The _Pater
Patriae,_--so called, because, having at last absorbed all the
authority, he could afford to affect some of the benignity of a
parent, and to treat his fellow-citizens, not as men, but as little
children,--the Father of his Country had acquired, by means of his
great fortune and large financial connections, an immense control over
the destinies of Florence and Italy. But he was still a private
citizen in externals. There was, at least, elevation of taste,
refinement of sentiment in Cosmo's conception of a great citizen. His
habits of life were elegant, but frugal. He built churches, palaces,
villas. He employed all the great architects of the age. He adorned
these edifices with masterpieces from the pencils and chisels of the
wonderful _Quattrocentisti_, whose productions alone would have
given Florence an immortal name in Art history. Yet he preserved a
perfect simplicity of equipage and apparel. In this regard, faithful
to the traditions of the republic, which his family had really changed
from a democracy to a ploutarchy, he had the good taste to scorn the
vulgar pomp of kings,--"the horses led, and grooms besmeared with
gold,"--all the theatrical paraphernalia and plebeian tinsel "which
dazzle the crowd and set them all agape"; but his expenditures were
those of an intellectual and accomplished oligarch. He was worthy, in
many respects, to be the chief of those haughty merchants and
manufacturers, who wielded more power, through the length of their
purses and the cultivation of their brains, than did all the
contemporaneous and illiterate barons of the rest of Christendom, by
dint of castle-storming and cattle-stealing.

In an age when other nobles were proud of being unable to write their
own names, or to read them when others wrote them, the great princes
and citizens of Florence protected and cultivated art, science, and
letters. Every citizen received a liberal education. Poets and
philosophers sat in the councils of the republic. Philosophy,
metaphysics, and the restoration of ancient learning occupied the
minds and diminished the revenues of its greater and inferior
burghers. In this respect, the Medici, and their abetters of the
fifteenth century, discharged a portion of the debt which they had
incurred to humanity. They robbed Italy of her freedom, but they gave
her back the philosophy of Plato. They reduced the generality of
Florentine citizens, who were once omnipotent, to a nullity; but they
had at least, the sense to cherish Donatello and Ghiberti,
Brunelleschi and Gozzoli, Ficino and Politian.

It is singular, too, with what comparatively small means the Medici
were enabled to do such great things. Cosmo, unquestionably the
greatest and most successful citizen that ever lived,--for he almost
rivalled Pericles in position, if not in talent, while he surpassed
him in good fortune,--was, during his lifetime, the virtual sovereign
of the most enlightened and wealthy and powerful republic that had
existed in modern times. He built the church of San Marco, the church
of San Lorenzo, the cloister of San Verdiano. On the hill of Fiesole he
erected a church and a convent. At Jerusalem he built a church and a
hospital for pilgrims. All this was for religion, the republic, and
the world. For himself he constructed four splendid villas, at
Careggi, Fiesole, Caffaggiolo, and Trebbio, and in the city the
magnificent palace in the Via Larga, now called the Riccardi.

In thirty-seven years, from 1434 to 1471, he and his successors
expanded eight millions of francs (663,755 gold florins) in buildings
and charities,--a sum which may be represented by as many, or, as some
would reckon, twice as many, dollars at the present day. Nevertheless,
the income of Cosmo was never more than 600,000 francs, (50,000 gold
florins,) while his fortune was never thought to exceed three millions
of francs, or six hundred thousand dollars. Being invested in
commerce, his property yielded, and ought to have yielded, an income
of twenty _per cent_. Nevertheless, an inventory made in 1469
showed, that, after twenty-nine years, he left to his son Pietro a
fortune but just about equal in amount to that which he had himself
received from his father.

With six hundred thousand dollars for his whole capital, then, Cosmo
was able to play his magnificent part in the world's history; while
the Duke of Milan, son of the peasant Sforza, sometimes expended more
than that sum in a single year. So much difference was there between
the position and requirements of an educated and opulent
first-citizen, and a low-born military _parvenu_, whom, however,
Cosmo was most earnest to encourage and to strengthen in his designs
against the liberties of Lombardy.

This Riccardi palace, as Cosmo observed after his poor son Peter had
become bed-ridden with the gout, was a marvellously large mansion for
so small a family as one old man and one cripple. It is chiefly
interesting, now, for the frescos with which Benozzo Gozzoli has
adorned the chapel. The same cause which has preserved these beautiful
paintings so fresh, four centuries long, has unfortunately always
prevented their being seen to any advantage. The absence of light,
which has kept the colors from fading, is most provoking, when one
wishes to admire the works of a great master, whose productions are so

Gozzoli, who lived and worked through the middle of the fifteenth
century, is chiefly known by his large and graceful compositions in
the Pisan Campo Santo. These masterpieces are fast crumbling into
mildewed rubbish. He had as much vigor and audacity as Ghirlandaio,
with more grace and freshness of invention. He has, however, nothing
of his dramatic power. His genius is rather idyllic and
romantic. Although some of the figures in these Medici palace frescos
are thought to be family portraits, still they hardly seem very
lifelike. The subjects selected are a Nativity, and an Adoration of
the Magi. In the neighborhood of the window is a choir of angels
singing Hosanna, full of freshness and vernal grace. The long
procession of kings riding to pay their homage, "with tedious pomp and
rich retinue long," has given the artist an opportunity of exhibiting
more power in perspective and fore-shortening than one could expect at
that epoch. There are mules and horses, caparisoned and bedizened;
some led by grinning blackamoors, others ridden by showy kings,
effulgent in brocade, glittering spurs, and gleaming cuirasses. Here
are horsemen travelling straight towards the spectator,--there, a
group, in an exactly opposite direction, is forcing its way into the
picture,--while hunters with hound and horn are pursuing the stag on
the neighboring hills, and idle spectators stand around, gaping and
dazzled; all drawn with a free and accurate pencil, and colored with
much brilliancy;--a triumphant and masterly composition, hidden in a
dark corner of what has now become a great dusty building, filled with
public offices.



Here sits on her hill the weird old Etrurian nurse of Florence,
withered, superannuated, feeble, warming her palsied limbs in the sun,
and looking vacantly down upon the beautiful child whose cradle she
rocked. Fiesole is perhaps the oldest Italian city. The inhabitants of
middle and lower Italy were Pelasgians by origin, like the earlier
races of Greece. The Etrurians were an aboriginal stock,--that is to
say, as far as anything can be definitely stated regarding their
original establishment in the peninsula; for they, too, doubtless
came, at some remote epoch, from beyond the Altai mountains.

In their arts they seem to have been original,--at least, until at a
later period they began to imitate the culture of Greece. They were
the only ancient Italian people who had the art-capacity; and they
supplied the wants of royal Rome, just as Greece afterwards supplied
the republic and the empire with the far more elevated creations of
her plastic genius.

The great works undertaken by the Tarquins, if there ever were
Tarquins, were in the hands of Etrurian architects and sculptors. The
admirable system of subterranean drainage in Rome, by which the swampy
hollows among the seven hills were converted into stately streets, and
the stupendous _cloaca maxima_, the buried arches of which have
sustained for more than two thousand years, without flinching, the
weight of superincumbent Rome, were Etrurian performances, commenced
six centuries before Christ.

It would appear that this people had rather a tendency to the useful,
than to the beautiful. Unable to assimilate the elements of beauty and
grace furnished by more genial races, this mystic and vanished nation
was rather prone to the stupendously and minutely practical, than
devoted to the beautiful for its own sake.

At Fiesole, the vast Cyclopean walls, still fixed and firm as the
everlasting hills, in their parallelopipedal layers, attest the
grandeur of the ancient city. Here are walls built, probably, before
the foundation of Rome, and yet steadfast as the Apennines. There are
also a broken ring or two of an amphitheatre; for the Etrurians
preceded and instructed the Romans in gladiatorial shows. It is
suggestive to seat one's self upon these solid granite seats, where
twenty-five hundred years ago some grave Etrurian citizen, wrapped in
his mantle of Tyrrhenian purple, his straight-nosed wife at his side,
with serpent bracelet and enamelled brooch, and a hopeful family
clustering playfully at their knees, looked placidly on, while slaves
were baiting and butchering each other in the arena below.

The Duomo is an edifice of the Romanesque period, and contains some
masterpieces by Mino da Fiesole. On a fine day, however, the church is
too dismal, and the scene outside too glowing and golden, to permit
any compromise between nature and Mino. The view from the Franciscan
convent upon the brow of the hill, site of the ancient acropolis, is
on the whole the very best which can be obtained of Florence and the
Val d' Arno. All the verdurous, gently rolling hills which are heaped
about Firenze la bella are visible at once. There, stretched languidly
upon those piles of velvet cushions, reposes the luxurious, jewelled,
tiara-crowned city, like Cleopatra on her couch. Nothing, save an
Oriental or Italian city on the sea-coast, can present a more
beautiful picture. The hills are tossed about so softly, the sunshine
comes down in its golden shower so voluptuously, the yellow Arno moves
along its channel so noiselessly, the chains of villages, villas,
convents, and palaces are strung together with such a profuse and
careless grace, wreathing themselves from hill to hill, and around
every coigne of vantage, the forests of olive and the festoons of vine
are so poetical and suggestive, that we wonder not that civilized man
has found this an attractive abode for twenty-five centuries.

Florence is stone dead. 'Tis but a polished tortoise-shell, of which
the living inhabitant has long since crumbled to dust; but it still
gleams in the sun with wondrous radiance.

Just at your feet, as you stand on the convent terrace, is the Villa
Mozzi, where, not long ago, were found buried jars of Roman coins of
the republican era, hidden there by Catiline, at the epoch of his
memorable conspiracy. Upon the same spot was the favorite residence of
Lorenzo Magnifico; concerning whose probable ponderings, as he sat
upon his terrace, with his legs dangling over Florence, much may be
learned from the guide-book of the immortal Murray, so that he who
runs may read and philosophize.

Looking at Florence from the hill-top, one is more impressed than ever
with the appropriateness of its name. _The City of Flowers_ is
itself a flower, and, as you gaze upon it from a height, you see how
it opens from its calyx. The many bright villages, gay gardens,
palaces, and convents which encircle the city, are not to be regarded
separately, but as one whole. The germ and heart of Florence, the
compressed and half hidden Piazza, with its dome, campanile, and long,
slender towers, shooting forth like the stamens and pistils, is
closely folded and sombre, while the vast and beautiful corolla
spreads its brilliant and fragrant circumference, petal upon petal,
for miles and miles around.


It was two hours before dawn on Sunday, the memorable seventh of
October, 1571, when the fleet weighed anchor. The wind had become
lighter, but it was still contrary, and the galleys were indebted for
their progress much more to their oars than to their sails. By sunrise
they were abreast of the Curzolares, a cluster of huge rocks, or rocky
islets, which, on the north, defends the entrance of the Gulf of
Lepanto. The fleet moved laboriously along, while every eye was
strained to catch the first glimpse of the hostile navy. At length the
watch from the foretop of the _Real_ called out, "A sail!" and
soon after announced that the whole Ottoman fleet was in
sight. Several others, climbing up the rigging, confirmed his report;
and in a few moments more word was sent to the same effect by Andrew
Doria, who commanded on the right. There was no longer any doubt; and
Don John, ordering his pendant to be displayed at the mizzen-peak,
unfurled the great standard of the League, given by the pope, and
directed a gun to be fired, the signal for battle. The report, as it
ran along the rocky shores, fell cheerily on the ears of the
confederates, who, raising their eyes towards the consecrated banner,
filled the air with their shouts.

The principal captains now came on board the _Real_ to receive
the last orders of the commander-in-chief. Even at this late hour
there were some who ventured to intimate their doubts of the
expediency of engaging the enemy in a position where he had a decided
advantage. But Don John cut short the discussion, "Gentlemen," he
said, "this is the time for combat, not for counsel." He then
continued the dispositions he was making for the assault.

He had already given to each commander of a galley written
instructions as to the manner in which the line of battle was to be
formed, in case of meeting the enemy. The armada was now formed in
that order. It extended on a front of three miles. Far on the right a
squadron of sixty-four galleys was commanded by the Genoese, Andrew
Doria, a name of terror to the Moslems. The centre, or _battle_, as it
was called, consisting of sixty-three galleys, was led by John of
Austria, who was supported on the one side by Colonna, the
captain-general of the pope, and on the other by the Venetian
captain-general, Veniero. Immediately in the rear was the galley of
the _Comendador_ Requesens, who still remained near the person of his
former pupil; though a difference which arose between them on
the voyage, fortunately now healed, showed that the young
commander-in-chief was wholly independent of his teacher in the art of
war. The left wing was commanded by the noble Venetian, Barberigo,
whose vessels stretched along the Aetolian shore, which, to prevent his
being turned by the enemy, he approached as near as, in his ignorance
of the coast, he dared to venture. Finally, the reserve, consisting of
thirty-five galleys, was given to the brave Marquis of Santa Cruz,
with directions to act on any part where he thought his presence most
needed. The smaller craft, some of which had now arrived, seem to have
taken little part in the action, which was thus left to the galleys.

Each commander was to occupy so much space with his galley as to allow
room for manoeuvring it to advantage, and yet not enough to enable the
enemy to break the line. He was directed to single out his adversary,
to close at once with him, and board as soon as possible. The beaks
of the galleys were pronounced to be a hindrance rather than a help in
action. They were rarely strong enough to resist a shock from the
enemy; and they much interfered with the working and firing of the
guns. Don John had the beak of his vessel cut away; and the example
was speedily followed throughout the fleet, and, as it is said, with
eminently good effect. It may seem strange that this discovery should
have been reserved for the crisis of a battle.

When the officers had received their last instructions, they returned
to their respective vessels; and Don John, going on board of a light
frigate, passed rapidly through that part of the armada lying on his
right, while he commanded Requesens to do the same with the vessels on
his left. His object was to feel the temper of his men, and rouse
their mettle by a few words of encouragement. The Venetians he
reminded of their recent injuries. The hour for vengeance, he told
them, had arrived. To the Spaniards, and other confederates, he said,
"You have come to fight the battle of the Cross,--to conquer or
die. But whether you die or conquer, do your duty this day, and you
will secure a glorious immortality." His words were received with a
burst of enthusiasm which went to the heart of the commander, and
assured him that he could rely on his men in the hour of trial. On his
return to his vessel, he saw Veniero on his quarter-deck, and they
exchanged salutations in as friendly a manner as if no difference had
existed between them. At a time like this, both these brave men were
willing to forget all personal animosity, in a common feeling of
devotion to the great cause in which they were engaged.

The Ottoman fleet came on slowly and with difficulty. For, strange to
say, the wind, which had hitherto been adverse to the Christians,
after lulling for a time, suddenly shifted to the opposite quarter,
and blew in the face of the enemy. As the day advanced, moreover, the
sun, which had shone in the eyes of the confederates, gradually shot
its rays into those of the Moslems. Both circumstances were of good
omen to the Christians, and the first was regarded as nothing short of
a direct interposition of Heaven. Thus ploughing its way along, the
Turkish armament, as it came nearer into view, showed itself in
greater strength than had been anticipated by the allies. It consisted
of nearly two hundred and fifty royal galleys, most of them of the
largest class, besides a number of smaller vessels in the rear, which,
like those of the allies, appear scarcely to have come into
action. The men on board, including those of every description, were
computed at not less than a hundred and twenty thousand. The galleys
spread out, as usual with the Turks, in the form of a regular
half-moon, covering a wider extent of surface than the combined
fleets, which they somewhat exceeded in numbers. They presented,
indeed, as they drew nearer, a magnificent array, with their gilded
and gaudily painted prows, and their myriads of pennons and streamers
fluttering gayly in the breeze, while the rays of the morning sun
glanced on the polished scymitars of Damascus, and on the superb
aigrettes of jewels which sparkled in the turbans of the Ottoman

In the centre of the extended line, and directly opposite to the
station occupied by the captain-general of the League, was the huge
galley of Ali Pasha. The right of the armada was commanded by Mehemet
Siroco, viceroy of Egypt, a circumspect as well as courageous leader;
the left by Uluch Ali, dey of Algiers, the redoubtable corsair of the
Mediterranean. Ali Pasha had experienced a similar difficulty with Don
John, as several of his officers had strongly urged the inexpediency
of engaging so formidable an armament as that of the allies. But Ali,
like his rival, was young and ambitious. He had been sent by his
master to fight the enemy; and no remonstrances, not even those of
Mehemet Siroco, for whom he had great respect, could turn him from his

He had, moreover, received intelligence that the allied fleet was much
inferior in strength to what it proved. In this error he was
fortified by the first appearance of the Christians; for the extremity
of their left wing, commanded by Barberigo, stretching behind the
Aetolian shore, was hidden from his view. As he drew nearer, and saw
the whole extent of the Christian lines, it is said his countenance
fell. If so, he still did not abate one jot of his resolution. He
spoke to those around him with the same confidence as before of the
result of the battle. He urged his rowers to strain every effort. Ali
was a man of more humanity than often belonged to his nation. His
galley-slaves were all, or nearly all, Christian captives; and he
addressed them in this neat and pithy manner: "If your countrymen win
this day, Allah give you the benefit of it! Yet if I win it, you
shall have your freedom. If you feel that I do well by you, do then
the like by me."

As the Turkish admiral drew nearer, he made a change in his order of
battle by separating his wings farther from his centre, thus
conforming to the dispositions of the allies. Before he had come
within cannon-shot, he fired a gun by way of challenge to his
enemy. It was answered by another from the galley of John of
Austria. A second gun discharged by Ali was as promptly replied to by
the Christian commander. The distance between the two fleets was now
rapidly diminishing. At this solemn hour a death-like silence reigned
throughout the armament of the confederates. Men seemed to hold their
breath, as if absorbed in the expectation of some great
catastrophe. The day was magnificent. A light breeze, still adverse
to the Turks, played on the waters, somewhat fretted by contrary
winds. It was nearly noon; and as the sun, mounting through a
cloudless sky, rose to the zenith, he seemed to pause, as if to look
down on the beautiful scene, where the multitude of galleys, moving
over the water, showed like a holiday spectacle rather than a
preparation for mortal combat.

The illusion was soon dispelled by the fierce yells which rose on the
air from the Turkish armada. It was the customary war-cry with which
the Moslems entered into battle. Very different was the scene on board
of the Christian galleys. Don John might be there seen, armed
cap-a-pie, standing on the prow of the _Real_, anxiously awaiting
the coming conflict. In this conspicuous position, kneeling down, he
raised his eyes to heaven, and humbly prayed that the Almighty would
be with his people on that day. His example was speedily followed by
the whole fleet. Officers and men, all falling on their knees, and
turning their eyes to the consecrated banner which floated from the
_Real_, put up a petition like that of their commander. They
then received absolution from the priests, of whom there were some in
each vessel; and each man, as he rose to his feet, gathered new
strength from the assurance that the Lord of Hosts would fight on his

When the foremost vessels of the Turks had come within cannon-shot,
they opened a fire on the Christians. The firing soon ran along the
whole of the Turkish line, and was kept up without interruption as it
advanced. Don John gave orders for trumpet and atabal to sound the
signal for action; and a simultaneous discharge followed from such of
the guns in the combined fleet as could bear on the enemy. Don John
had caused the _galeazzas_ to be towed some half a mile ahead of
the fleet, where they might intercept the advance of the Turks. As the
latter came abreast of them, the huge galleys delivered their
broadsides right and left, and their heavy ordnance produced a
startling effect. Ali Pasha gave orders for his galleys to open on
either side, and pass without engaging these monsters of the deep, of
which he had had no experience. Even so their heavy guns did
considerable damage to the nearest vessels, and created some confusion
in the pasha's line of battle. They were, however, but unwieldy craft,
and, having accomplished their object, seem to have taken no further
part in the combat. The action began on the left wing of the allies,
which Mehemet Siroco was desirous of turning. This had been
anticipated by Barberigo, the Venetian admiral, who commanded in that
quarter. To prevent it, as we have seen, he lay with his vessels as
near the coast as he dared. Siroco, better acquainted with the
soundings, saw there was space enough for him to pass, and darting by
with all the speed that oars and wind could give him, he succeeded in
doubling on his enemy. Thus placed between two fires, the extreme of
the Christian left fought at terrible disadvantage. No less than eight
galleys went to the bottom. Several more were captured. The brave
Barberigo, throwing himself into the heat of the fight, without
availing himself of his defensive armor, was pierced in the eye by an
arrow, and though reluctant to leave the glory of the field to
another, was borne to his cabin. The combat still continued with
unabated fury on the part of the Venetians. They fought like men who
felt that the war was theirs, and who were animated not only by the
thirst for glory, but for revenge.

Far on the Christian right, a manoeuvre similar to that so
successfully executed by Siroco was attempted by Uluch Ali, the
viceroy of Algiers. Profiting by his superiority of numbers, he
endeavored to turn the right wing of the confederates. It was in this
quarter that Andrew Doria commanded. He also had foreseen this
movement of his enemy, and he succeeded in foiling it. It was a trial
of skill between the two most accomplished seamen in the
Mediterranean. Doria extended his line so far to the right, indeed,
to prevent being surrounded, that Don John was obliged to remind him
that he left the centre much too exposed. His dispositions were so far
unfortunate for himself that his own line was thus weakened and
afforded some vulnerable points to his assailant. These were soon
detected by the eagle eye of Uluch Ali; and like the king of birds
swooping on his prey, he fell on some galleys separated by a
considerable interval from their companions, and, sinking more than
one, carried off the great _Capitana_ of Malta in triumph as his

While the combat thus opened disastrously to the allies both on the
right and on the left, in the centre they may be said to have fought
with doubtful fortune. Don John had led his division gallantly
forward. But the object on which he was intent was an encounter with
Ali Pasha, the foe most worthy of his sword. The Turkish commander had
the same combat no less at heart. The galleys of both were easily
recognized, not only from their position, but from their superior size
and richer decoration. The one, moreover, displayed the holy banner
of the League; the other, the great Ottoman standard. This, like the
ancient standard of the caliphs, was held sacred in its character. It
was covered with texts from the Koran, emblazoned in letters of gold,
with the name of Allah inscribed upon it no less than twenty-eight
thousand nine hundred times. It was the banner of the Sultan, having
passed from father to son since the foundation of the imperial
dynasty, and was never seen in the field unless the Grand-Seignior or
his lieutenant was there in person.

Both the Christian and the Moslem chief urged on their rowers to the
top of their speed. Their galleys soon shot ahead of the rest of the
line, driven through the boiling surges as by the force of a tornado,
and closing with a shock that made every timber crack, and the two
vessels quiver to their very keels. So powerful, indeed, was the
impetus they received, that the pasha's galley, which was considerably
the larger and loftier of the two, was thrown so far upon its opponent
that the prow reached the fourth bench of rowers. As soon as the
vessels were disengaged from each other, and those on board had
recovered from the shock, the work of death began. Don John's chief
strength consisted in some three hundred Spanish arquebusiers, culled
from the flower of his infantry. Ali, on the other hand, was provided
with the like number of janissaries. He was also followed by a
smaller vessel, in which two hundred more were stationed as a _corps
de reserve_. He had, moreover, a hundred archers on board. The bow
was still much in use with the Turks, as with the other Moslems.

The pasha opened at once on his enemy a terrible fire of cannon and
musketry. It was returned with equal spirit, and much more effect; for
the Turkish marksmen were observed to shoot over the heads of their
adversaries. Their galley was unprovided with the defences which
protected the sides of the Spanish vessels; and the troops, huddled
together on their lofty prow, presented an easy mark to their enemies'
balls. But though numbers of them fell at every discharge, their
places were soon supplied by those in reserve. Their incessant fire,
moreover, wasted the strength of the Spaniards; and as both Christian
and Mussulman fought with indomitable spirit, it seemed doubtful to
which side the victory would incline.

The affair was made more complicated by the entrance of other parties
into the conflict. Both Ali and Don John were supported by some of the
most valiant captains in their fleets. Next to the Spanish commander,
as we have seen, were Colonna and the veteran Veniero, who, at the age
of seventy-six, performed feats of arms worthy of a paladin of
romance. Thus a little squadron of combatants gathered around the
principal leaders, who sometimes found themselves assailed by several
enemies at the same time. Still the chiefs did not lose sight of one
another, but beating off their inferior foes as well as they could,
each refusing to loosen his hold, clung with mortal grasp to his

Thus the fight raged along the whole extent of the entrance of the
Gulf of Lepanto. If the eye of the spectator could have penetrated the
cloud of smoke that enveloped the combatants, and have embraced the
whole scene at a glance, he would have beheld them broken up into
small detachments, engaged in conflict with one another, wholly
independently of the rest, and indeed ignorant of all that was doing
in other quarters. The volumes of vapor, rolling heavily over the
waters, effectually shut out from sight whatever was passing at any
considerable distance, unless when a fresher breeze dispelled the
smoke for a moment, or the flashes of the heavy guns threw a transient
gleam over the dark canopy of battle. The contest exhibited few of
those enlarged combinations and skilful manoeuvres to be expected in a
great naval encounter. It was rather an assemblage of petty actions,
resembling those on land. The galleys, grappling together, presented a
level arena, on which soldier and galley-slave fought hand to hand,
and the fate of the engagement was generally decided by boarding. As
in most hand-to-hand contests, there was an enormous waste of
life. The decks were loaded with corpses, Christian and Moslem lying
promiscuously together in the embrace of death. Instances are given
where every man on board was slain or wounded. It was a ghastly
spectacle, where blood flowed in rivulets down the sides of the
vessels, staining the waters of the Gulf for miles around.

It seemed as if some hurricane had swept over the sea, and covered it
with the wreck of the noble armaments which a moment before were so
proudly riding on its bosom. Little had they now to remind one of
their late magnificent array, with their hulls battered and defaced,
their masts and spars gone or fearfully splintered by the shot, their
canvas cut into shreds and floating wildly on the breeze, while
thousands of wounded and drowning men were clinging to the floating
fragments, and calling piteously for help. Such was the wild uproar
which had succeeded to the Sabbath-like stillness that two hours
before had reigned over these beautiful solitudes!

The left wing of the confederates, commanded by Barberigo, had been
sorely pressed by the Turks, as we have seen, at the beginning of the
fight. Barberigo himself had been mortally wounded. His line had been
turned. Several of his galleys had been sunk. But the Venetians
gathered courage from despair. By incredible efforts they succeeded in
beating off their enemies. They became the assailants in their
turn. Sword in hand, they carried one vessel after another. The
Capuchin, with uplifted crucifix, was seen to head the attack, and to
lead the boarders to the assault. The Christian galley-slaves, in some
instances, broke their fetters and joined their countrymen against
their masters. Fortunately, the vessel of Mehemet Siroco, the Moslem
admiral, was sunk; and though extricated from the water himself, it
was only to perish by the sword of his conqueror, Juan Contarini. The
Venetian could find no mercy for the Turk.

The fall of their commander gave the final blow to his
followers. Without further attempt to prolong the fight, they fled
before the avenging swords of the Venetians. Those nearest the land
endeavored to escape by running their vessels ashore, where they
abandoned them as prizes to the Christians. Yet many of the fugitives,
before gaining the shore, perished miserably in the waves. Barberigo,
the Venetian admiral, who was still lingering in agony, heard the
tidings of the enemy's defeat, and exclaiming, "I die contented," he
breathed his last.

Meanwhile the combat had been going forward in the centre between the
two commanders-in-chief, Don John and Ali Pasha, whose galleys blazed
with an incessant fire of artillery and musketry that enveloped them
like "a martyr's robe of flames." Both parties fought with equal
spirit, though not with equal fortune. Twice the Spaniards had boarded
their enemy, and both times they had been repulsed with loss. Still
their superiority in the use of their fire-arms would have given them
a decided advantage over their opponents, if the loss thus inflicted
had not been speedily repaired by fresh reinforcements. More than once
the contest between the two chieftains was interrupted by the arrival
of others to take part in the fray. They soon, however, returned to
one another, as if unwilling to waste their strength on a meaner
enemy. Through the whole engagement both commanders exposed themselves
to danger as freely as any common soldier. Even Philip must have
admitted that in such a contest it would have been difficult for his
brother to find with honor a place of safety. Don John received a
wound in the foot. It was a slight one, however, and he would not
allow it to be attended to till the action was over.

At length the men were mustered, and a third time the trumpets sounded
to the assault. It was more successful than those preceding. The
Spaniards threw themselves boldly into the Turkish galley. They were
met by the janissaries with the same spirit as before. Ali Pasha led
them on. Unfortunately, at this moment he was struck by a musket-ball
in the head, and stretched senseless on the gangway. His men fought
worthily of their ancient renown. But they missed the accustomed voice
of their commander. After a short, but ineffectual struggle against
the fiery impetuosity of the Spaniards, they were overpowered and
threw down their arms. The decks were loaded with the bodies of the
dead and the dying. Beneath these was discovered the Turkish
commander-in-chief, sorely wounded, but perhaps not mortally. He was
drawn forth by some Castilian soldiers, who, recognizing his person,
would at once have despatched him. But the wounded chief, having
rallied from the first effects of his blow, had presence of mind
enough to divert them from their purpose by pointing out the place
below where he had deposited his money and jewels, and they hastened
to profit by the disclosure before the treasure should fall into the
hands of their comrades.

Ali was not so successful with another soldier, who came up soon
after, brandishing his sword, and preparing to plunge it into the body
of the prostrate commander. It was in vain that the latter endeavored
to turn the ruffian from his purpose. He was a convict,--one of those
galley-slaves whom Don John had caused to be unchained from the oar,
and furnished with arms. He could not believe that any treasure would
be worth so much to him as the head of the pasha. Without further
hesitation he dealt him a blow which severed it from his shoulders.
Then returning to his galley, he laid the bloody trophy before Don
John. But he had miscalculated on his recompense. His commander gazed
on it with a look of pity mingled with horror. He may have thought of
the generous conduct of Ali to his Christian captives, and have felt
that he deserved a better fate. He coldly inquired "of what use such a
present could be to him," and then ordered it to be thrown into the
sea. Far from being obeyed, it is said the head was stuck on a pike
and raised aloft on board the captive galley. At the same time the
banner of the Crescent was pulled down, while that of the Cross run up
in its place proclaimed the downfall of the pasha.

The sight of the sacred ensign was welcomed by the Christians with a
shout of "Victory!" which rose high above the din of battle. The
tidings of the death of Ali soon passed from mouth to mouth, giving
fresh heart to the confederates, but falling like a knell on the ears
of the Moslems. Their confidence was gone. Their fire slackened. Their
efforts grew weaker and weaker. They were too far from shore to seek
an asylum there, like their comrades on the right. They had no
resource but to prolong the combat or to surrender. Most preferred the
latter. Many vessels were carried by boarding, others sunk by the
victorious Christians. Before four hours had clapped, the centre, like
the right wing of the Moslems, might be said to be annihilated.

Still the fight was lingering on the right of the confederates, where,
it will be remembered, Uluch Ali, the Algerine chief, had profited by
Doria's error in extending his line so far as greatly to weaken
it. His adversary, attacking it on its most vulnerable quarter, had
succeeded, as we have seen, in capturing and destroying several
vessels, and would have inflicted still heavier losses on his enemy,
had it not been for the seasonable succor received from the Marquis of
Santa Cruz. This brave officer, who commanded the reserve, had already
been of much service to Don John, when the _Real_ was assailed by
several Turkish galleys at once, during his combat with Ali Pasha; the
Marquis having arrived at this juncture, and beating off the
assailants, one of whom he afterwards captured, the commander-in-chief
was enabled to resume his engagement with the pasha.

No sooner did Santa Cruz learn the critical situation of Doria, than,
supported by Cardona, general of the Sicilian squadron, he pushed
forward to his relief. Dashing into the midst of the _melee_,
they fell like a thunderbolt on the Algerine galleys. Few attempted to
withstand the shock. But in their haste to avoid it, they were
encountered by Doria and his Genoese. Thus beset on all sides, Uluch
Ali was compelled to abandon his prizes and provide for his own safety
by flight. He cut adrift the Maltese _Capitana_, which he had
lashed to his stern, and on which three hundred corpses attested the
desperate character of her defence. As tidings reached him of the
discomfiture of the centre and the death of his commander, he felt
that nothing remained but to make the best of his way from the fatal
scene of action, and save as many of his own ships as he could. And
there were no ships in the Turkish fleet superior to his, or manned by
men under more perfect discipline; for they were the famous corsairs
of the Mediterranean, who had been rocked from infancy on its waters.

Throwing out his signals for retreat, the Algerine was soon to be
seen, at the head of his squadron, standing towards the north, under
as much canvas as remained to him after the battle, and urged forward
through the deep by the whole strength of his oarsmen. Doria and Santa
Cruz followed quickly in his wake. But he was borne on the wings of
the wind, and soon distanced his pursuers. Don John, having disposed
of his own assailants, was coming to the support of Doria, and now
joined in the pursuit of the viceroy. A rocky headland, stretching far
into the sea, lay in the path of the fugitive, and his enemies hoped
to intercept him there. Some few of his vessels stranded on the
rocks. But the rest, near forty in number, standing more boldly out to
sea, safely doubled the promontory. Then quickening their flight,
they gradually faded from the horizon, their white sails, the last
thing visible, showing in the distance like a flock of Arctic sea-fowl
on their way to their native homes. The confederates explained the
inferior sailing of their own galleys by the circumstance of their
rowers, who had been allowed to bear arms in the fight, being crippled
by their wounds.

The battle had lasted more than four hours. The sky, which had been
almost without a cloud through the day, began now to be overcast, and
showed signs of a coming storm. Before seeking a place of shelter for
himself and his prizes, Don John reconnoitred the scene of action. He
met with several vessels in too damaged a state for further
service. These mostly belonging to the enemy, after saving what was of
any value on board, he ordered to be burnt. He selected the
neighboring port of Petala, as affording the most secure and
accessible harbor for the night. Before he had arrived there, the
tempest began to mutter and darkness was on the water. Yet the
darkness rendered the more visible the blazing wrecks, which, sending
up streams of fire mingled with showers of sparks, looked like
volcanoes on the deep.

Long and loud were the congratulations now paid to the young
commander-in-chief by his brave companions in arms, on the success of
the day. The hours passed blithely with officers and men, while they
recounted one to another their manifold achievements. But feelings of
gloom mingled with their gayety, as they gathered tidings of the loss
of friends who had bought this victory with their blood.

It was, indeed, a sanguinary battle, surpassing in this particular any
sea-fight of modern times. The loss fell much the most heavily on the
enemy. There is the usual discrepancy about numbers; but it may be
safe to estimate the Turkish loss at about twenty-four thousand slain,
and five thousand prisoners. But what gave most joy to the hearts of
the conquerors was the liberation of twelve thousand Christian
captives, who had been chained to the oar on board the Moslem galleys,
and who now came forth with tears streaming down their haggard cheeks,
to bless their deliverers.

The loss of the allies was comparatively small,--less than eight
thousand. That it was so much less than that of their enemies may be
referred in part to their superiority in the use of firearms; in part,
also, to their exclusive use of these, instead of employing bows and
arrows, weapons much less effective, but on which the Turks, like the
other Moslem nations, seem to have greatly relied. Lastly, the Turks
were the vanquished party, and in their heavier loss suffered the
almost invariable lot of the vanquished.

As to their armada, it may almost be said to have been
annihilated. Not more than forty galleys escaped, out of near two
hundred and fifty which had entered into the action. One hundred and
thirty were taken and divided among the conquerors. The remainder,
sunk or burned, were swallowed up by the waves. To counterbalance all
this, the confederates are said to have lost not more than fifteen
galleys, though a much larger number doubtless were rendered unfit for
service. This disparity affords good evidence of the inferiority of
the Turks in the construction of their vessels, as well as in the
nautical skill required to manage them. A large amount of booty, in
the form of gold, jewels, and brocade, was found on board several of
the prizes. The galley of the commander-in-chief alone is stated to
have contained one hundred and seventy thousand gold sequins,--a large
sum, but not large enough, it seems, to buy off his life.

The losses of the combatants cannot be fairly presented without taking
into the account the quality as well as the number of the slain. The
number of persons of consideration, both Christians and Moslems, who
embarked in the expedition, was very great. The roll of slaughter
showed that in the race of glory they gave little heed to their
personal safety. The officer second in command among the Venetians,
the commander-in-chief of the Turkish armament, and the commander of
its right wing, all fell in the battle. Many a high-born cavalier
closed at Lepanto a long career of honorable service. More than one,
on the other hand, dated the commencement of their career from this
day. Such was the case with Alexander Farnese, the young prince of
Parma. Though somewhat older than his uncle, John of Austria,
difference of birth had placed a wide distance in their conditions;
the one filling the post of commander-in-chief, the other only that of
a private adventurer. Yet even so he succeeded in winning great renown
by his achievements. The galley in which he sailed was lying, yard-arm
to yard-arm, alongside of a Turkish galley, with which it was hotly
engaged. In the midst of the action, the young Farnese sprang on board
of the enemy, and with his stout broadsword hewed down all who opposed
him, opening a path into which his comrades poured one after another;
and after a short, but murderous contest, he succeeded in carrying the
vessel. As Farnese's galley lay just astern of Don John's, the latter
could witness the achievement of his nephew, which filled him with an
admiration he did not affect to conceal. The intrepidity he displayed
on this occasion gave augury of his character in later life, when he
succeeded his uncle in command, and surpassed him in military renown.

Another youth was in that sea-fight, who, then humble and unknown, was
destined one day to win laurels of a purer and more enviable kind than
those which grow on the battle-field. This was Cervantes, who, at the
age of twenty-four, was serving on board the fleet as a common
soldier. He was confined to his bed by a fever; but, notwithstanding
the remonstrances of his captain, insisted, on the morning of the
action, not only on bearing arms, but on being stationed at the post
of danger. And well did he perform his duty there, as was shown by two
wounds on the breast, and another in the hand, by which he lost the
use of it. Fortunately, it was the left hand. The right yet remained,
to record those immortal productions which were to be familiar as
household words, not only in his own land, but in every quarter of the
civilized world.

A fierce storm of thunder and lightning raged for four-and-twenty
hours after the battle, during which the fleet rode safely at anchor
in the harbor of Petala. It remained there three days longer. Don John
profited by the time to visit the different galleys and ascertain
their condition. He informed himself of the conduct of the troops, and
was liberal of his praises to those who deserved them. With the sick
and the wounded he showed the greatest sympathy, endeavoring to
alleviate their sufferings, and furnishing them with whatever his
galley contained that could minister to their comfort. With so
generous and sympathetic a nature, it is not wonderful that he should
have established himself in the hearts of his soldiers.

But the proofs of this kindly temper were not confined to his own
followers. Among the prisoners were two sons of Ali, the Turkish
commander-in-chief. One was seventeen, the other only thirteen years
of age. Thus early had their father desired to initiate them in a
profession which, beyond all others, opened the way to eminence in
Turkey. They were not on board of his galley, and when they were
informed of his death, they were inconsolable. To this sorrow was now
to be added the doom of slavery.

As they were led into the presence of Don John, the youths prostrated
themselves on the deck of his vessel. But raising them up, he
affectionately embraced them. He said all he could to console them
under their troubles. He caused them to be treated with the
consideration due to their rank. His secretary, Juan de Soto,
surrendered his quarters to them. They were provided with the richest
apparel that could be found among the spoil. Their table was served
with the same delicacies as that of the commander-in-chief; and his
gentlemen of the chamber showed the same deference to them as to
himself. His kindness did not stop with these acts of chivalrous
courtesy. He received a letter from their sister Fatima, containing a
touching appeal to Don John's humanity, and soliciting the release of
her orphan brothers. He had sent a courier to give their friends in
Constantinople the assurance of their personal safety; "which," adds
the lady, "is held by all this court as an act of great
courtesy,--_gran gentilezza_; and there is no one here who does
not admire the goodness and magnanimity of your Highness." She
enforced her petition with a rich present, for which she gracefully
apologized, as intended to express her own feelings, though far below
his deserts.

The young princes, in the division of the spoil, were assigned to the
pope. But Don John succeeded in obtaining their liberation.
Unfortunately, the elder died--of a broken heart, it is said--at
Naples. The younger was sent home, with three of his attendants, for
whom he had an especial regard. Don John declined the present, which
he gave to Fatima's brother. In a letter to the Turkish princess, he
remarked, that "he had done this, not because he undervalued her
beautiful gift, but because it had ever been the habit of his royal
ancestors freely to grant favors to those who stood in need of their
protection, but not to receive aught by way of recompense."


A brook came stealing from the ground;
You scarcely saw its silvery gleam
Among the herbs that hung around
The borders of that winding stream,--
A pretty stream, a placid stream,
A softly gliding, bashful stream.

A breeze came wandering from the sky,
Light as the whispers of a dream;
He put the o'erhanging grasses by,
And gayly stooped to kiss the stream,--
The pretty stream, the flattered stream,
The shy, yet unreluctant stream.

The water, as the wind passed o'er,
Shot upward many a glancing beam,
Dimpled and quivered more and more,
And tripped along a livelier stream,--
The flattered stream, the simpering stream,
The fond, delighted, silly stream.

Away the airy wanderer flew
To where the fields with blossoms teem,
To sparkling springs and rivers blue,
And left alone that little stream,--
The flattered stream, the cheated stream,
The sad, forsaken, lonely stream.

That careless wind no more came back;
He wanders yet the fields, I deem;
But on its melancholy track
Complaining went that little stream,--
The cheated stream, the hopeless stream,
The ever murmuring, moaning stream.


Don't open your eyes, Polder! You think I am going to tell you about
some of my Minnesota experiences; how I used to scamper over the
prairies on my Indian pony, and lie in wait for wild turkeys on the
edge of an oak opening. That is pretty sport, too, to creep under an
oak with low-hanging boughs, and in the silence of a glowing
autumn-day linger by the hour together in a trance of warm stillness,
watching the light tracery of shadow and sun on that smooth sward,
only now and then roused by the fleet rush of a deer through the wood,
or the brisk chatter of a plume-tailed squirrel, till one hears a
distant, sharp, clucking chuckle, and in an instant more pulls the
trigger, and upsets a grand old cock, every bronzed feather glittering
in the sunshine, and now splashed with scarlet blood, the delicate
underwing ground into down as he rolls and flutters; for the first
shot rarely kills at once with an amateur; there's too much
excitement. Splendid sport, that! but I'm not going into it
second-hand. I promised to tell you a story, now the skipper's fast,
and the night is too warm to think of sleep down in that wretched
bunk;--what another torture Dante might have lavished on his Inferno,
if he'd ever slept in a fishing-smack! No. The moonlight makes me
sentimental! Did I ever tell you about a month I spent up in
Centreville, the year I came home from Germany? That was
turkey-hunting with a vengeance!

You see, my pretty cousin Peggy married Peter Smith, who owns
paper-mills in Centreville, and has exiled herself into deep country
for life; a circumstance I disapprove, because I like Peggy, and
manufacturers always bore me, though Peter is a clever fellow enough;
but madam was an old flame of mine, and I have a lingering tenderness
for her yet. I wish she was nearer town. Just that year Peggy had
been very ill indeed, and Kate, her sister, had gone up to nurse
her. When I came home Peggy was getting better, and sent for me to
come up and make a visitation there in June. I hadn't seen Kate for
seven years,--not since she was thirteen; our education
intervened. She had gone through that grading process and come out. By
Jupiter! when she met me at the door of Smith's pretty,
English-looking cottage, I took my hat off, she was so like that
little Brazilian princess we used to see in the _cortege_ of the
court at Paris. What was her name? Never mind that! Kate had just
such large, expressive eyes, just such masses of shiny black hair,
just such a little nose,--turned up undeniably, but all the more
piquant. And her teeth! good gracious! she smiled like a flash of
lightning,--dark and sallow as she was. But she was cross, or stiff,
or something, to me for a long time. Peggy only appeared after dinner,
looking pale and lovely enough in her loose wrapper to make Peter act
excessively like----a young married man, and to make me wish myself at
an invisible distance, doing something beside picking up Kate's
things, that she always dropped on the floor whenever she sewed.
Peggy saw I was bored, so she requested me one day to walk down to the
poultry-yard and ask about her chickens; she pretended a great deal of
anxiety, and Peter had sprained his ankle.

"Kate will go with you," said she.

"No, she won't!" ejaculated that young woman.

"Thank you," said I, making a minuet bow, and off I went to the
farm-house. Such a pretty walk it was, too! through a thicket of
birches, down a little hill-side into a hollow full of hoary
chestnut-trees, across a bubbling, dancing brook, and you came out
upon the tiniest orchard in the world, a one-storied house with a red
porch, and a great sweet-brier bush thereby; while up the hill-side
behind stretched a high picket fence, enclosing huge trees, part of
the same brook I had crossed here dammed into a pond, and a
chicken-house of pretentious height and aspect,--one of those model
institutions that are the ruin of gentlemen-farmers and the delight of
women. I had to go into the farm-kitchen for the poultry-yard key.
The door stood open, and I stepped in cautiously, lest I should come
unaware upon some domestic scene not intended to be visible to the
naked eye. And a scene I did come upon, fit for Retzsch to
outline;--the cleanest kitchen, a dresser of white wood under one
window, and the farmer's daughter, Melinda Tucker, moulding bread
thereat in a ponderous tray; her deep red hair,--yes, it was red and
comely! of the deepest bay, full of gilded reflections, and
accompanied by the fair, rose-flushed skin, blue eyes, and scarlet
lips that belong to such hair,--which, as I began to say, was puckered
into a thousand curves trying to curl, and knotted strictly against a
pretty head, while her calico frock-sleeves were pinned-back to the
shoulders, baring such a dimpled pair of arms,--how they did fly up
and down in the tray! I stood still contemplating the picture, and
presently seeing her begin to strip the dough from her pink fingers
and mould it into a mass, I ventured to knock. If you had seen her
start and blush, Polder! But when she saw me, she grew as cool as you
please, and called her mother. Down came Mrs. Tucker, a talking
Yankee. You don't know what that is. Listen, then.

"Well, good day, sir! I'xpect it's Mister Greene, Miss Smith's
cousin. Well, you be! Don't favor her much though; she's kinder dark
complected. She ha'n't got round yet, hes she? Dew tell! She's
dre'ful delicate. I do'no' as ever I see a woman so sickly's she looks
ter be sence that 'ere fever. She's real spry when she's so's to be
crawlin',--I'xpect too spry to be 'hulsome. Well, he tells me you've
ben 'crost the water. 'Ta'n't jest like this over there, I
guess. Pretty sightly places they be though, a'n't they? I've seen
picturs in Melindy's jography, looks as ef 'twa'n't so woodsy over
there as 'tis in these parts, 'specially out West. He's got folks out
to Indianny, an' we sot out fur to go a-cousinin', five year back, an'
we got out there inter the dre'fullest woodsy region ever ye see,
where 'twa'n't trees, it was 'sketers; husband he couldn't see none
out of his eyes for a hull day, and I thought I should caterpillar
every time I heerd one of 'em toot; they sartainly was the beater-ee!"

"The key, if you please!" I meekly interposed. Mrs. Tucker was fast
stunning me!

"Law yis! Melindy, you go git that 'ere key; it's a-hangin' up'side o'
the lookin'glass in the back shed, under that bunch o' onions father
strung up yisterday. Got the bread sot to rise, hev ye? well, git
yer bunnet an' go out to the coop with Mr. Greene, 'n' show him the
turkeys an' the chickens, 'n' tell what dre'ful luck we hev hed. I
never did see sech luck! the crows they keep a-comin' an' snippin' up
the little creturs jest as soon's they're hatched; an' the old turkey
hen't sot under the grapevine she got two hen's eggs under her, 'n'
they come out fust, so she quit--"

Here I bolted out of the door, (a storm at sea did not deafen one like
that!) Melindy following, in silence such as our blessed New England
poet has immortalized,--silence that

"--Like a poultice comes,
To heal the blows of sound."

Indeed, I did not discover that Melindy could talk that day; she was
very silent, very incommunicative. I inspected the fowls, and tried to
look wise, but I perceived a strangled laugh twisting Melindy's face
when I innocently inquired if she found catnip of much benefit to the
little chickens; a natural question enough, for the yard was full of
it, and I had seen Hannah give it to the baby. (Hannah is my sister.)
I could only see two little turkeys,--both on the floor of the
second-story parlor in the chicken-house, both flat on their backs and
gasping. Melindy did not know what ailed them; so I picked them up,
slung them in my pocket-handkerchief, and took them home for Peggy to
manipulate. I heard Melindy chuckle as I walked off, swinging them;
and to be sure, when I brought the creatures in to Peggy, one of them
kicked and lay still, and the other gasped worse than ever.

"What can we do?" asked Peggy, in the most plaintive voice, as the
feeble "week! week!" of the little turkey was gasped out, more feebly
every time.

"Give it some whiskey-punch!" growled Peter, whose strict temperance
principles were shocked by the remedies prescribed for Peggy's ague.

"So I would," said Kate, demurely.

Now if Peggy had one trait more striking than another, it was her
perfect, simple faith in what people said; irony was a mystery to her;
lying, a myth,--something on a par with murder. She thought Kate meant
so; and reaching out for the pretty wicker-flask that contained her
daily ration of old Scotch whiskey, she dropped a little drop into a
spoon, diluted it with water, and was going to give it to the turkey
in all seriousness, when Kate exclaimed,--

"Peggy! when will you learn common sense? Who ever heard of giving
whiskey to a turkey?"

"Why, you told me to, Kate!"

"Oh, give it to the thing!" growled Peter; "it will die, of course."

"I shall give it!" said Peggy, resolutely; "it does _me_ good,
and I will try."

So I held the little creature up, while Peggy carefully tipped the
dose down its throat. How it choked, kicked, and began again with
"week! week!" when it meant "strong!" but it revived. Peggy held it in
the sun till it grew warm, gave it a drop more, fed it with
bread-crumbs from her own plate, and laid it on the south
window-sill. There it lay when we went to tea; when we came back, it
lay on the floor, dead; either it was tipsy, or it had tried its new
strength too soon, and, rolling off, had broken its neck! Poor Peggy!

There were six more hatched the next day, though, and I held many
consultations with Melindy about their welfare. Truth to tell, Kate
continued so cool to me, Peter's sprained ankle lasted so long, and
Peggy could so well spare me from the little matrimonial
_tete-a-tetes_ that I interrupted, (I believe they didn't mind
Kate!) that I took wonderfully to the chickens. Mrs. Tucker gave me
rye-bread and milk of the best; "father" instructed me in the
mysteries of cattle-driving; and Melindy, and Joe, and I, used to go
strawberrying, or after "posies," almost every day. Melindy was a very
pretty girl, and it was very good fun to see her blue eyes open and
her red lips laugh over my European experiences. Really, I began to be
of some importance at the farm-house, and to take airs upon myself, I
suppose; but I was not conscious of the fact at the time.

After a week or two, Melindy and I began to have bad luck with the
turkeys. I found two drenched and shivering, after a hail-and-thunder
storm, and setting them in a basket on the cooking-stove hearth, went
to help Melindy "dress her bow-pot," as she called arranging a vase of
flowers, and when I came back the little turkeys were singed; they
died a few hours after. Two more were trodden on by a great Shanghai
rooster, who was so tall he could not see where he set his feet down;
and of the remaining pair, one disappeared mysteriously,--supposed to
be rats; and one falling into the duck-pond, Melindy began to dry it
in her apron, and I went to help her; I thought, as I was rubbing the
thing down with the apron, while she held it, that I had found one of
her soft dimpled hands, and I gave the luckless turkey such a tender
pressure that it uttered a miserable squeak and departed this
life. Melindy all but cried. I laughed irresistibly. So there were no
more turkeys. Peggy began to wonder what they should do for the proper
Thanksgiving dinner, and Peter turned restlessly on his sofa, quite
convinced that everything was going to rack and ruin because he had a
sprained ankle.

"Can't we buy some young turkeys?" timidly suggested Peggy.

"Of course, if one knew who had them to sell," retorted Peter.

"I know," said I; "Mrs. Amzi Peters, up on the hill over Taunton, has
got some."

"Who told you about Mrs. Peters's turkeys, Cousin Sam?" said Peggy,

"Melindy," said I, quite innocently.

Peter whistled, Peggy laughed, Kate darted a keen glance at me under
her long lashes.

"I know the way there," said mademoiselle, in a suspiciously bland
tone. "Can't you drive there with me, Cousin Sam, and get some more?"

"I shall be charmed," said I.

Peter rang the bell and ordered the horse to be ready in the
single-seated wagon, after dinner. I was going right down to the
farm-house to console Melindy, and take her a book she wanted to read,
for no fine lady of all my New York acquaintance enjoyed a good book
more than she did; but Cousin Kate asked me to wind some yarn for her,
and was so brilliant, so amiable, so altogether charming, I quite
forgot Melindy till dinner-time, and then, when that was over, there
was a basket to be found, and we were off,--turkey-hunting! Down
hill-sides overhung with tasselled chestnut-boughs; through pine-woods
where neither horse nor wagon intruded any noise of hoof or wheel upon
the odorous silence, as we rolled over the sand, past green meadows,
and sloping orchards; over little bright brooks that chattered
musically to the bobolinks on the fence-posts, and were echoed by
those sacerdotal gentlemen in such liquid, bubbling, rollicking,
uproarious bursts of singing as made one think of Anacreon's

"Drunk with morning's dewy wine."

All these we passed, and at length drew up before Mrs. Peters's
house. I had been here before, on a strawberrying stroll with
Melindy,--(across lots it was not far,)--and having been asked in
then, and entertained the lady with a recital of some foreign exploit,
garnished for the occasion, of course she recognized me with clamorous

"Why how do yew do, Mister Greene? I declare I ha'n't done a-thinkin'
of that 'ere story you told us the day you was here, 'long o'
Melindy." (Kate gave an ominous little cough.) "I was a-tellin'
husband yesterday 't I never see sech a master hand for stories as you
be. Well, yis, we hev _got_ turkeys, young 'uns; but my stars! I
don't know no more where they be than nothin'; they've strayed away
into the woods, I guess, and I do'no' as the boys can skeer 'em up;
besides, the boys is to school; h'm--yis! Where did you and Melindy
go that day arter berries?"

"Up in the pine-lot, ma'am. You think you can't let us have the

"Dew tell ef you went up there! It's near about the sightliest place I
ever see. Well, no,--I don't see how's to ketch them turkeys. Miss
Bemont, she't lives over on Woodchuck Hill, she's got a lot o' little
turkeys in a coop; I guess you'd better go 'long over there, an' ef
you can't get none o' her'n, by that time our boys'll be to hum, an'
I'll set 'em arter our'n; they'll buckle right to; it's good sport
huntin' little turkeys; an' I guess you'll hev to stop, comin' home,
so's to let me know ef you'll hev 'em."

Off we drove. I stood in mortal fear of Mrs. Peters's tongue,--and
Kate's comments; but she did not make any; she was even more charming
than before. Presently we came to the pine-lot, where Melindy and I
had been, and I drew the reins. I wanted to see Kate's enjoyment of a
scene that Kensett or Church should have made immortal long ago:--a
wide stretch of hill and valley, quivering with cornfields, rolled
away in pasture lands, thick with sturdy woods, or dotted over with
old apple-trees, whose dense leaves caught the slant sunshine, glowing
on their tops, and deepening to a dark, velvety green below, and far,
far away, on the broad blue sky, the lurid splendors of a
thunder-cloud, capped with pearly summits, tower upon tower, sharply
defined against the pure ether, while in its purple base forked
lightnings sped to and fro, and revealed depths of waiting tempest
that could not yet descend. Kate looked on, and over the superb

"How magnificent!" was all she said, in a deep, low tone, her dark
cheek flushing with the words. Melindy and I had looked off there
together. "It's real good land to farm," had been the sweet little
rustic's comment. How charming are nature and simplicity!

Presently we came to Mrs. Bemont's, a brown house in a cluster of
maples; the door-yard full of chickens, turkeys, ducks, and
geese. Kate took the reins, and I knocked. Mrs. Bemont herself
appeared, wiping her red, puckered hands on a long brown towel.

"Can you let me have some of your young turkeys, ma'am?" said I,

"Well, I do'no';--want to eat 'em or raise 'em?"

"Both, I believe," was my meek answer.

"I do'no' 'bout lettin' on 'em go; 'ta'n't no gret good to sell 'em
after all the risks is over; they git their own livin' pretty much
now, an' they'll be wuth twice as much by'm'by."

"I suppose so; but Mrs. Smith's turkeys have all died, and she likes
to raise them."

"Dew tell, ef you han't come from Miss Peter Smith's! Well, she'd
oughter do gret things with that 'ere meetin'-'us o' her'n for the
chickens; it's kinder genteel-lookin', and I spose they've got means;
they've got ability. Gentility without ability I do despise; but where
't'a'n't so, 't'a'n't no matter; but I'xpect it don't ensure the
faowls none, doos it?"

"I rather think not," said I, laughing; "that is the reason we want
some of yours."

"Well, I should think you could hev some on 'em. What be you
calc'latin' to give?"

"Whatever you say. I do not know at all the market price."

"Good land! 't'a'n't never no use to try to dicker with city folks;
they a'n't use to't. I'xpect you can hev 'em for two York shillin'

"But how will you catch them?"

"Oh, I'll ketch 'em, easy!"

She went into the house and reappeared presently with a pan of Indian
meal and water, called the chickens, and in a moment they were all
crowding in and over the unexpected supper.

"Now you jes' take a bit o' string an' tie that 'ere turkey's legs
together; 'twon't stir, I'll ensure it!"

Strange to say, the innocent creature stood still and eat, while I
tied it up; all unconscious till it tumbled neck and heels into the
pan, producing a start and scatter of brief duration. Kate had left
the wagon, and was shaking with laughter over this extraordinary
goodness on the turkeys' part, and before long our basket was full of
struggling, kicking, squeaking things, "werry promiscuous," in
Mr. Weller's phrase. Mrs. Bemont was paid, and while she was giving me
the change,--

"Oh!" said she, "you're goin' right to Miss Tucker's, a'n't ye?--got
to drop the turkeys;--won't you tell Miss Tucker 't George is comin'
home tomorrer, an' he's ben to Californy. She know'd us allers, and
Melindy 'n' George used ter be dre'ful thick 'fore he went off, a good
spell back, when they was nigh about childern; so I guess you'd better
tell 'em."

"Confound these turkeys!" muttered I, as I jumped over the basket.

"Why?" said Kate, "I suspect they are confounded enough already!"

"They make such a noise, Kate!"

So they did; "week! week! week!" all the way, like a colony from some
spring-waked pool.

"Their song might be compared
To the croaking of frogs in a pond!"

The drive was lovelier than before. The road crept and curled down
the hill, now covered from side to side with the interlacing boughs of
grand old chestnuts; now barriered on the edge of a ravine with broken
fragments and boulders of granite, garlanded by heavy vines; now
skirting orchards full of promise; and all the way companied by a tiny
brook, veiled deeply in alder and hazel thickets, and making in its
shadowy channel perpetual muffled music, like a child singing in the
twilight to reassure its half-fearful heart. Kate's face was softened
and full of rich expression; her pink ribbons threw a delicate tinge
of bloom upon the rounded cheek and pensive eyelid; the air was pure
balm, and a cool breath from the receding showers of the distant
thunderstorm just freshened the odors of wood and field. I began to
feel suspiciously that sentimental, but through it all came
persevering "week! week! week!" from the basket at my feet. Did I
make a fine remark on the beauties of nature, "Week!" echoed the
turkeys. Did Kate praise some tint or shape by the way, "Week! week!"
was the feeble response. Did we get deep in poetry, romance, or
metaphysics, through the most brilliant quotation, the sublimest
climax, the most acute distinction, came in "Week! week! week!" I
began to feel as if the old story of transmigration were true, and the
souls of half a dozen quaint and ancient satirists had got into the
turkeys. I could not endure it! Was I to be squeaked out of all my
wisdom, and knowledge, and device, after this fashion? Never! I
began, too, to discover a dawning smile upon Kate's face; she turned
her head away, and I placed the turkey-basket on my knees, hoping a
change of position might quiet its contents. Never was man more at
fault! they were no way stilled by my magnetism; on the contrary, they
threw their sarcastic utterances into my teeth, as it were, and shamed
me to my very face. I forgot entirely to go round by Mrs. Peters's. I
took a cross-road directly homeward; a pause--a lull--took place among
the turkeys.

"How sweet and mystical this hour is!" said I to Kate, in a
high-flown manner; "it is indeed

"'An hour when lips delay to speak,
Oppressed with silence deep and pure;
When passion pauses--'"

"Week! week! week!" chimed in those confounded turkeys. Kate burst
into a helpless fit of laughter. What could I do? I had to laugh
myself, since I must not choke the turkeys.

"Excuse me, Cousin Sam," said Kate, in a laughter-wearied tone, "I
could not help it; turkeys and sentimentality do not agree--always!"
adding the last word maliciously, as I sprang out to open the
farm-house gate, and disclosed Melindy, framed in the buttery window,
skimming milk; a picture worthy of Wilkie. I delivered over my
captives to Joe, and stalked into the kitchen to give Mrs. Bemont's
message. Melindy came out; but as soon as I began to tell her mother
where I got that message, Miss Melindy, with the _sang froid_ of
a duchess, turned back to her skimming,--or appeared to. I gained
nothing by that move.

Peggy and Peter received us benignly; so universal a solvent is
success, even in turkey-hunting! I meant to have gone down to the
farm-house after tea, and inquired about the safety of my prizes, but
Kate wanted to play chess. Peter couldn't, and Peggy wouldn't; I had
to, of course, and we played late. Kate had such pretty hands; long
taper fingers, rounded to the tiniest rosy points; no dimples, but
full muscles, firm and exquisitely moulded; and the dainty way in
which she handled her men was half the game to me;--I lost it; I
played wretchedly. The next day Kate went with me to see the turkeys;
so she did the day after. We were forgetting Melindy, I am afraid, for
it was a week before I remembered I had promised her a new Magazine. I
recollected myself; then, with a sort of shame, rolled up the number,
and went off to the farm-house. It seems Kate was there, busy in the
garret, unpacking a bureau that had been stored there, with some of
Peggy's foreign purchases, for summer wear, in the drawers. I did not
know that. I found Melindy spreading yeast-cakes to dry on a table,
just by the north end of the house; a hop-vine in full blossom made a
sort of porch-roof over the window by which she stood.

"I've brought your book, Melindy," said I.

"Thank you, sir," returned she, crisply.

"How pretty you look to-day." condescendingly remarked I.

"I don't thank you for that, sir;--

"'Praise to the face
Is open disgrace!'"

was all the response.

"Why, Melindy! what makes you so cross?" inquired I, in a tone meant
to be tenderly reproachful,--in the mean time attempting to possess
myself of her hand; for, to be honest, Polder, I had been a little
sweet to the girl before Kate drove her out of my head. The hand was
snatched away. I tried indifference.

"How are the turkeys to-day. Melindy?"

Here Joe, an _enfant terrible,_ came upon the scene suddenly.

"Them turkeys eats a lot, Mister Greene. Melindy says there's one on
'em struts jes' like you, 'n' makes as much gabble."

"Gobble! gobble! gobble!" echoed an old turkey from somewhere; I
thought it was overhead, but I saw nothing. Melindy threw her apron
over her face and laughed till her arms grew red. I picked up my hat
and walked off. For three days I kept out of that part of the Smith
demesne, I assure you! Kate began to grow mocking and derisive; she
teased me from morning till night, and the more she teased me, the
more I adored her. I was getting desperate, when one Sunday night Kate
asked me to walk down to the farm-house with her after tea, as
Mrs. Tucker was sick, and she had something to take to her. We found
the old woman sitting up in the kitchen, and as full of talk as ever,
though an unlucky rheumatism kept her otherwise quiet.

"How do the turkeys come on, Mrs. Tucker?" said I, by way of

"Well, I declare, you han't heerd about them turkeys, hev ye? You see
they was doin' fine, and father he went off to salt for a spell, so's
to see'f 'twouldn't stop a complaint he's got,--I do'no' but it's a
spine in the back,--makes him kinder' faint by spells, so's he loses
his conscientiousness all to once; so he left the chickens 'n' things
for Melindy to boss, 'n' she got somethin' else into her head, 'n' she
left the door open one night, and them ten turkeys they up and run
away, I'xpect they took to the woods, 'fore Melindy brought to mind
how't she hadn't shut the door. She's set out fur to hunt 'em. I
shouldn't wonder'f she was out now, seein' it's arter sundown."

"She a'n't nuther!" roared the terrible Joe, from behind the door,
where he had retreated at my coming. "She's settin' on a flour-barrel
down by the well, an' George Bemont's a-huggin' on her"

Good gracious! what a slap Mrs. Tucker fetched that unlucky child,
with a long brown towel that hung at hand! and how he howled! while
Kate exploded with laughter, in spite of her struggles to keep quiet.

"He _is_ the dre'fullest boy!" whined Mrs. Tucker. "Melindy tells
how he sassed you 'tother day, Mr. Greene. I shall hev to tewtor that
boy; he's got to hev the rod, I guess!"

I bade Mrs. Tucker good night, for Kate was already out of the door,
and, before I knew what she was about, had taken a by-path in sight of
the well; and there, to be sure, sat Melindy, on a prostrate
flour-barrel that was rolled to the foot of the big apple-tree,
twirling her fingers in pretty embarrassment, and held on her insecure
perch by the stout arm of George Bemont, a handsome brown fellow,
evidently very well content just now.

"Pretty,--isn't it?" said Kate.

"Very,--quite pastoral," sniffed I.

We were sitting round the open door an hour after, listening to a
whippoorwill, and watching the slow moon rise over a hilly range just
east of Centreville, when that elvish little "week! week!" piped out
of the wood that lay behind the house.

"That is hopeful," said Kate; "I think Melindy and George must have
tracked the turkeys to their haunt, and scared them homeward."

"George--who?" said Peggy.

"George Bemont; it seems he is--what is your Connecticut
phrase?--sparkin' Melindy."

"I'm very glad; he is a clever fellow," said Peter.

"And she is such a very pretty girl," continued Peggy,--"so
intelligent and graceful; don't you think so, Sam?"

"Aw, yes, well enough for a rustic," said I, languidly. "I never could
endure red hair, though!"

Kate stopped on the door-sill; she had risen to go up stairs.

"Gobble! gobble! gobble!" mocked she. I had heard that once before!
Peter and Peggy roared;--they knew it all;--I was sold!

"Cure me of Kate Stevens?" Of course it did. I never saw her again
without wanting to fight shy, I was so sure of an allusion to
turkeys. No, I took the first down train. There are more pretty girls
in New York, twice over, than there are in Centreville, I console
myself; but, by George! Polder, Kate Stevens was charming!--Look out
there! don't meddle with the skipper's coils of rope! can't you sleep
on deck without a pillow?


There is no one of the royal heroes of England that enjoys a more
enviable reputation than the bold outlaw of Barnsdale and
Sherwood. His chance for a substantial immortality is at least as good
as that of stout Lion-Heart, wild Prince Hal, or merry Charles. His
fame began with the yeomanry full five hundred years ago, was
constantly increasing for two or three centuries, has extended to all
classes of society, and, with some changes of aspect, is as great as
ever. Bishops, sheriffs, and game-keepers, the only enemies he ever
had, have relinquished their ancient grudges, and Englishmen would be
almost as loath to surrender his exploits as any part of the national
glory. His free life in the woods, his unerring eye and strong arm,
his open hand and love of fair play, his never forgotten courtesy, his
respect for women and devotion to Mary, form a picture eminently
healthful and agreeable to the imagination, and commend him to the
hearty favor of all genial minds.

But securely established as Robin Hood is in popular esteem, his
historical position is by no means well ascertained, and his actual
existence has been a subject of shrewd doubt and discussion. "A tale
of Robin Hood" is an old proverb for the idlest of stories; yet all
the materials at our command for making up an opinion on these
questions are precisely of this description. They consist, that is to
say, of a few ballads of unknown antiquity. These ballads, or others
like them, are clearly the authority upon which the statements of the
earlier chroniclers who take notice of Robin Hood are founded. They
are also, to all appearance, the original source of the numerous and
wide-spread traditions concerning him; which, unless the contrary can
be shown, must be regarded, according to the almost universal rule in
such cases, as having been suggested by the very legends to which, in
the vulgar belief, they afford an irresistible confirmation.

Various periods, ranging from the time of Richard the First to near
the end of the reign of Edward the Second, have been selected by
different writers as the age of Robin Hood; but (excepting always the
most ancient ballads, which may possibly be placed within these
limits) no mention whatever is made of him in literature before the
latter half of the reign of Edward the Third. "Rhymes of Robin Hood"
are then spoken of by the author of "Piers Ploughman" (assigned to
about 1362) as better known to idle fellows than pious songs, and from
the manner of the allusion it is a just inference that such rhymes
were at that time no novelties. The next notice is in Wyntown's
Scottish Chronicle, written about 1420, where the following lines
occur--without any connection, and in the form of an entry--under the
year 1283:--

"Lytil Jhon and Robyne Hude
Wayth-men ware commendyd gude:
In Yngil-wode and Barnysdale
Thai oysyd all this tyme thare trawale."[1]

At last we encounter Robin Hood in what may be called history; first
of all in a passage of the "Scotichronicon," often quoted, and highly
curious as containing the earliest theory upon this subject. The
"Scotichronicon" was written partly by Fordun, canon of Aberdeen,
between 1377 and 1384, and partly by his pupil Bower, abbot of
St. Columba, about 1450. Fordun has the character of a man of judgment
and research, and any statement or opinion delivered by him would be
entitled to respect. Of Bower not so much can be said. He largely
interpolated the work of his master, and sometimes with the absurdest
fictions.[2] _Among his interpolations_, and forming, it is
important to observe, _no part of the original text_, is a
passage translated as follows. It is inserted immediately after
Fordun's account of the defeat of Simon de Montfort, and the
punishments inflicted on his adherents.

"At this time, [_sc_. 1266,] from the number of those who had
been deprived of their estates arose the celebrated bandit Robert
Hood, (with Little John and their accomplices,) whose achievements the
foolish vulgar delight to celebrate in comedies and tragedies, while
the ballads upon his adventures sung by the jesters and minstrels are
preferred to all others.

"Some things to his honor are also related, as appears from this. Once
on a time, when, having incurred the anger of the king and the prince,
he could hear mass nowhere but in Barnsdale, while he was devoutly
occupied with the service, (for this was his wont, nor would he ever
suffer it to be interrupted for the most pressing occasion,) he was
surprised by a certain sheriff and officers of the king, who had often
troubled him before, in the secret place in the woods where he was
engaged in worship as aforesaid. Some of his men, who had taken the
alarm, came to him and begged him to fly with all speed. This, out of
reverence for the host, which he was then most devoutly adoring, he
positively refused to do. But while the rest of his followers were
trembling for their lives, Robert, confiding in Him whom he
worshipped, fell on his enemies with a few who chanced to be with him,
and easily got the better of them; and having enriched himself with
their plunder and ransom, he was led from that time forth to hold
ministers of the church and masses in greater veneration than ever,
mindful of the common saying, that

"'God hears the man who often hears the mass.'"

In another place Bower writes to the same effect: "In this year [1266]
the dispossessed barons of England and the royalists were engaged in
fierce hostilities. Among the former, Roger Mortimer occupied the
Welsh marches, and John Daynil the Isle of Ely. Robert Hood was now
living in outlawry among the woodland copses and thickets."

Mair, a Scottish writer of the first quarter of the sixteenth century,
the next historian who takes cognizance of our hero, and the only
other that requires any attention, has a passage which may be
considered in connection with the foregoing. In his "Historia Majoris
Britanniae" he remarks, under the reign of Richard the First: "About
this time [1189-99], as I conjecture, the notorious robbers, Robert
Hood of England and Little John, lurked in the woods, spoiling the
goods only of rich men. They slew nobody but those who attacked them,
or offered resistance in defence of their property. Robert maintained
by his plunder a hundred archers, so skilful in fight that four
hundred brave men feared to attack them. He suffered no woman to be
maltreated, and never robbed the poor, but assisted them abundantly
with the wealth which he took from abbots."

It appears, then, that contemporaneous history is absolutely silent
concerning Robin Hood; that, excepting the casual allusion in "Piers
Ploughman," he is first mentioned by a rhyming chronicler who wrote
one hundred years after the latest date at which he can possibly be
supposed to have lived, and then by two prose chroniclers who wrote
about one hundred and twenty-five years and two hundred years
respectively after that date; and it is further manifest that all
three of these chroniclers had no other authority for their statements
than traditional tales similar to those which have come down to our
day. When, therefore, Thierry, relying upon these chronicles and
kindred popular legends, unhesitatingly adopts the conjecture of Mair,
and describes Robin Hood as the hero of the Saxon serfs, the chief of
a troop of Saxon banditti, that continued, even to the reign of Coeur
de Lion, a determined resistance against the Norman invaders,[3]--and
when another able and plausible writer accepts and maintains, with
equal confidence, the hypothesis of Bower, and exhibits the renowned
outlaw as an adherent of Simon de Montfort, who, after the fatal
battle of Evesham, kept up a vigorous guerilla warfare against the
officers of the tyrant Henry the Third, and of his successor,[4] we
must regard these representations, which were conjectural three or

Book of the day:
Facebook Google Reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Pinterest