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

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four centuries ago, as conjectures still, and even as arbitrary
conjectures, unless one or the other can be proved from the only
_authorities_ we have, the ballads, to have a peculiar intrinsic
probability. That neither of them possesses this intrinsic probability
may easily be shown; but first it will be advisable to notice another
theory, which is more plausibly founded on internal evidence, and
claims to be confirmed by documents of unimpeachable validity.

This theory has been propounded by the Rev. John Hunter, in one of his
"Critical and Historical Tracts."[5] Mr. Hunter admits that Robin
Hood "lives only as a hero of song"; that he is not found in authentic
contemporary chronicles; and that, when we find him mentioned in
history, "the information was derived from the ballads, and is not
independent of them or correlative with them." While making these
admissions, he accords a considerable degree of credibility to the
ballads, and particularly to the "Lytell Geste," the last two
_fits_ of which he regards as giving a tolerably accurate account
of real occurrences.

In this part of the story King Edward is represented as coming to
Nottingham to take Robin Hood. He traverses Lancashire and a part of
Yorkshire, and finds his forests nearly stripped of their deer, but
can get no trace of the author of these extensive depredations. At
last, by the advice of one of his foresters, assuming with several of
his knights the dress of a monk, he proceeds from Nottingham to
Sherwood, and there soon encounters the object of his search. He
submits to plunder as a matter of course, and then announces himself
as a messenger sent to invite Robin Hood to the royal presence. The
outlaw receives this message with great respect. There is no man in
the world, he says, whom he loves so much as his king. The monk is
invited to remain and dine; and after the repast an exhibition of
archery is ordered, in which a bad shot is to be punished by a buffet
from the hand of the chieftain. Robin, having himself once failed of
the mark, requests the monk to administer the penalty. He receives a
staggering blow, which rouses his suspicions, recognizes the king on
an attentive consideration of his countenance, entreats grace for
himself and his followers, and is freely pardoned on condition that he
and they shall enter into the king's service. To this he agrees, and
for fifteen months resides at court. At the end of this time he has
lost all his followers but two, and spent all his money, and feels
that he shall pine to death with sorrow in such a life. He returns
accordingly to the greenwood, collects his old followers around him,
and for twenty-two years maintains his independence in defiance of the
power of Edward.

Without asserting the literal verity of all the particulars of this
narrative, Mr. Hunter attempts to show that it contains a substratum
of fact. Edward the First, he informs us, was never in Lancashire
after he became king; and if Edward the Third was ever there at all,
it was not in the early years of his reign. But Edward the Second did
make one single progress in Lancashire, and this in the year 1323.
During this progress the king spent some time at Nottingham, and took
particular note of the condition of his forests, and among these of
the forest of Sherwood. Supposing now that the incidents detailed in
the "Lytell Geste" really took place at this time, Robin Hood must
have entered into the royal service before the end of the year
1353. It is a singular, and in the opinion of Mr. Hunter a very
pregnant coincidence, that in certain Exchequer documents, containing
accounts of expenses in the king's household, the name of Robyn Hode
(or Robert Hood) is found several times, beginning with the 24th of
March, 1324, among the "porters of the chamber" of the king. He
received, with Simon Hood and others, the wages of three pence a
day. In August of the following year Robin Hood suffers deduction from
his pay for non-attendance, his absences grow frequent, and on the 22d
of November he is discharged with a present of five shillings,
"_poar cas qil ne poait pluis travailler_."[6]

It remains still for Mr. Hunter to account for the existence of a band
of seven score of outlaws in the reign of Edward the Second, in or
about Yorkshire. The stormy and troublous reigns of the Plantagenets
make this a matter of no difficulty. Running his finger down the long
list of rebellions and commotions, he finds that early in 1322 England
was convulsed by the insurrection of Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, the
king's near relation, supported by many powerful noblemen. The Earl's
chief seat was the castle of Pontefract, in the West Riding of
Yorkshire. He is said to have been popular, and it would be a fair
inference that many of his troops were raised in this part of England.
King Edward easily got the better of the rebels, and took exemplary
vengeance upon them. Many of the leaders were at once put to death,
and the lives of all their partisans were in danger. Is it impossible,
then, asks Mr. Hunter, that some who had been in the army of the Earl
secreted themselves in the woods, and turned their skill in archery
against the king's subjects or the king's deer? "that these were the
men who for so long a time haunted Barnsdale and Sherwood, and that
Robin Hood was one of them, a chief amongst them, being really of a
rank originally somewhat superior to the rest?"

We have, then, three different hypotheses concerning Robin Hood: one
placing him in the reign of Richard the First, another in that of
Henry the Third, and the last under Edward the Second, and all
describing him as a political foe to the established government. To
all of these hypotheses there are two very obvious and decisive
objections. The first is, that Robin Hood, as already remarked, is not
so much as named in contemporary history. Whether as the unsubdued
leader of the Saxon peasantry, or insurgent against the tyranny of
Henry or Edward, it is inconceivable that we should not hear something
of him from the chroniclers. If, as Thierry says, "he had chosen
Hereward for his model," it is unexplained and inexplicable why his
historical fate has been so different from that of Hereward. The hero
of the Camp of Refuge fills an ample place in the annals of his day;
his achievements are also handed down in a prose romance, which
presents many points of resemblance to the ballads of Robin Hood. It
would have been no wonder, if the vulgar legends about Hereward had
utterly perished; but it is altogether anomalous that a popular
champion[7] who attained so extraordinary a notoriety in song, a man
living from one hundred to two hundred and fifty years later than
Hereward, should be passed over without one word of notice from any
authoritative historian.[8] That this would not be so we are most
fortunately able to demonstrate by reference to a real case which
furnishes a singularly exact parallel to the present,--that of the
famous outlaw, Adam Gordon. In the year 1267, says the continuator of
Matthew Paris, a soldier by the name of Adam Gordon, who had lost his
estates with other adherents of Simon de Montfort, and refused to seek
the mercy of the king, established himself with others in like
circumstances near a woody and tortuous road between the village of
Wilton and the castle of Farnham, from which position he made forays
into the country round about, directing his attacks especially against
those who were of the king's party. Prince Edward had heard much of
the prowess and honorable character of this man, and desired to have
some personal knowledge of him. He succeeded in surprising Gordon
with a superior force, and engaged him in single combat, forbidding
any of his own followers to interfere. They fought a long time, and
the prince was so filled with admiration of the courage and spirit of
his antagonist, that he promised him life and fortune on condition of
his surrendering. To these terms Gordon acceded, his estates were
restored, and Edward found him ever after an attached and faithful
servant.[9] The story is romantic, and yet Adam Gordon was not made
the subject of ballads. _Caruit vate sacro_. The contemporary
historians, however, all have a paragraph for him. He is celebrated
by Wikes, the Chronicle of Dunstaple, the Waverley Annals, and we know
not where else besides.

But these theories are open to an objection stronger even than the
silence of history. They are contradicted by the spirit of the
ballads. No line of these songs breathes political animosity. There is
no suggestion or reminiscence of wrong, from invading Norman, or from
the established sovereign. On the contrary, Robin loved no man in the
world so well as his king. What the tone of these ballads would have
been, had Robin Hood been any sort of partisan, we may judge from the
mournful and indignant strains which were poured out on the fall of De
Montfort. We should have heard of the fatal field of Hastings, of the
perfidy of Henry, of the sanguinary revenge of Edward,--and not of
matches at archery and encounters at quarter-staff, the plundering of
rich abbots and squabbles with the sheriff. The Robin Hood of our
ballads is neither patriot under ban, nor proscribed rebel. An outlaw
indeed he is, but an "outlaw for venyson," like Adam Bell, and one who
superadds to deer-stealing the irregularity of a genteel

Thus much of these conjectures in general. To recur to the particular
evidence by which Mr. Hunter's theory is supported, this consists
principally in the name of Robin Hood being found among the king's
servants shortly after Edward the Second returned from his visit to
the north of his dominions. But the value of this coincidence depends
entirely upon the rarity of the name.[10] Now Hood, as Mr. Hunter
himself remarks, is a well-established hereditary name in the reigns
of the Edwards. We find it very frequently in the indexes to the
Record Publications, and this although it does not belong to the
higher class of people. That Robert was an ordinary Christian name
requires no proof; and if it was, the combination of Robert Hood must
have been frequent also. We have taken no extraordinary pains to hunt
up this combination, for really the matter is altogether too trivial
to justify the expense of time; but since to some minds much may
depend on the coincidence in question, we will cite several Robin
Hoods in the reigns of the Edwards.

28th Ed. I. Robert Hood, a citizen of London, says Mr. Hunter,
supplied the king's household with beer.

30th Ed. I. Robert Hood is sued for three acres of pasture land in
Throckley, Northumberland. (_Rot. Orig. Abbrev._)

7th Ed. II. Robert Hood is surety for a burgess returned for
Lostwithiel, Cornwall. (_Parliamentary Writs_.)

9th Ed. II. Robert Hood is a citizen of Wakefield, Yorkshire, whom Mr.
Hunter (p. 47) "may be justly charged with carrying supposition too
far" in striving to identify with Robin the porter.

10th Ed. III. A Robert Hood, of Howden, York, is mentioned in the
_Calendarium Rot. Patent_.

Adding the Robin Hood of the 17th Ed. II. we have six persons of that
name mentioned within a period of less than forty years, and this
circumstance does not dispose us to receive with great favor any
argument that may be founded upon one individual case of its
occurrence. But there is no end to the absurdities which flow from
this supposition. We are to believe that the weak and timid prince,
that had severely punished his kinsman and his nobles, freely pardoned
a yeoman, who, after serving with the rebels, had for twenty months
made free with the king's deer and robbed on the highway,--and not
only pardoned him, but received him into service _near his
person_. We are further to believe that the man who had led so
daring and jovial a life, and had so generously dispensed the pillage
of opulent monks, willingly entered into this service, doffed his
Lincoln green for the Plantagenet plush, and _consented_ to be
enrolled among royal flunkies for three pence a day. And again,
admitting all this, we are finally obliged by Mr. Hunter's document to
concede that the stalworth archer (who, according to the ballad,
maintained himself two-and-twenty years in the wood) was worn out by
his duties as "proud porter" in less than two years, and was
discharged a superannuated lackey, with five shillings in his pocket,
_"poar cas qil ne poait pluis travailler"!_

To those who are well acquainted with ancient popular poetry the
adventure of King Edward and Robin Hood will seem the least eligible
portion of this circle of story for the foundation of an historical
theory. The ballad of King Edward and Robin Hood is but one version of
an extremely multiform legend, of which the tales of "King Edward and
the Shepherd" and "King Edward and the Hermit" are other specimens;
and any one who will take the trouble to examine will be convinced
that all these stories are one and the same thing, the personages
being varied for the sake of novelty, and the name of a recent or of
the reigning monarch substituted in successive ages for that of a

Rejecting, then, as nugatory, every attempt to assign Robin Hood a
definite position in history, what view shall we adopt? Are all these
traditions absolute fictions, and is he himself a pure creation of the
imagination? Might not the ballads under consideration have a basis in
the exploits of a real person, living in the forests, _somewhere_ and
_at some time?_ Or, denying individual existence to Robin Hood, and
particular truth to the adventures ascribed to him, may we not regard
him as the ideal of the outlaw class, a class so numerous in all the
countries of Europe in the Middle Ages? We are perfectly contented to
form no opinion upon the subject; but if compelled to express one, we
should say that this last supposition (which is no novelty) possessed
decidedly more likelihood than any other. Its plausibility will be
confirmed by attending to the apparent signification of the name Robin
Hood. The natural refuge and stronghold of the outlaw was the
woods. Hence he is termed by Latin writers _silvatious,_ by the
Normans _forestier_. The Anglo-Saxon robber or highwayman is called a
woodrover _wealdgenga,_ and the Norse word for outlaw is exactly
equivalent.[11] It has often been suggested that Robin Hood is a
corruption, or dialectic form, of Robin of the Wood; and when we
remember that _wood_ is pronounced _hood_ in some parts of
England,[12] (as _whoop_ is pronounced _hoop_ everywhere,) and that
the outlaw bears in so many languages a name descriptive of his
habitation, this notion will not seem an idle fancy.

Various circumstances, however, have disposed writers of learning to
look farther for a solution of the question before us. Mr. Wright
propounds an hypothesis that Robin Hood "one among the personages of
the early mythology of the Teutonic peoples"; and a German
scholar,[13] in an exceedingly interesting article which throws much
light on the history of English sports, has endeavored to show
specifically that he is in name and substance one with the god
Woden. The arguments by which these views are supported, though in
their present shape very far from convincing, are entitled to a
respectful consideration.

The most important of these arguments are those which are based on the
peculiar connection between Robin Hood and the month of
May. Mr. Wright has justly remarked, that either an express mention of
this month, or a vivid description of the season, in the older
ballads, shows that the feats of the hero were generally performed
during this part of the year. Thus, the adventure of "Robin Hood and
the Monk" befell on "a morning of May." "Robin Hood and the Potter"
and "Robin Hood and Guy of Gisborne" begin, like "Robin Hood and the
Monk," with a description of the season when leaves are long, blossoms
are shooting, and the small birds are singing; and this season, though
called summer, is at the same time spoken of as May in "Robin Hood and
the Monk," which, from the description there given, it needs must be.
The liberation of Cloudesly by Adam Bel and Clym of the Clough is also
achieved "on a merry morning of May."

Robin Hood is, moreover, intimately associated with the month of May
through the games which were celebrated at that time of the year. The
history of these games is unfortunately very defective, and hardly
extends farther back than the beginning of the sixteenth century. By
that time their primitive character seems to have been corrupted, or
at least their significance was so far forgotten, that distinct
pastimes and ceremonials were capriciously intermixed. At the
beginning of the sixteenth century the May sports in vogue were,
besides a contest of archery, four _pageants_,--the Kingham, or
election of a Lord and Lady of the May, otherwise called Summer King
and Queen, the Morris-Dance, the Hobby-Horse, and the "Robin Hood."
Though these pageants were diverse in their origin, they had, at the
epoch of which we write, begun to be confounded; and the Morris
exhibited a tendency to absorb and blend them all, as, from its
character, being a procession interspersed with dancing, it easily
might do. We shall hardly find the Morris pure and simple in the
English May-game; but from a comparison of the two earliest
representations which we have of this sport, the Flemish print given
by Douce in his "Illustrations of Shakspeare," and Tollett's
celebrated painted window, (described in Johnson and Steevens's
Shakspeare,) we may form an idea of what was essential and what
adventitious in the English spectacle. The Lady is evidently the
central personage in both. She is, we presume, the same as the Queen
of May, who is the oldest of all the characters in the May games, and
the apparent successor to the Goddess of Spring in the Roman
Floralia. In the English Morris she is called simply The Lady, or more
frequently Maid Marian, a name which, to our apprehension, means Lady
of the May, and nothing more.[14] A fool and a taborer seem also to
have been indispensable; but the other dancers had neither names nor
peculiar offices, and were unlimited in number. The Morris, then,
though it lost in allegorical significance, would gain considerably in
spirit and variety by combining with the other shows. Was it not
natural, therefore, and in fact inevitable, that the old favorites of
the populace, Robin Hood, Friar Tuck, and Little John, should in the
course of time displace three of the anonymous performers in the show?
This they had pretty effectually done at the beginning of the
sixteenth century; and the Lady, who had accepted the more precise
designation of Maid Marian, was after that generally regarded as the
consort of Robin Hood, though she sometimes appeared in the Morris
without him. In like manner, the Hobby-Horse was quite early adopted
into the Morris, of which it formed no original part, and at last even
a Dragon was annexed to the company. Under these circumstances we
cannot be surprised to find the principal performers in the May
pageants passing the one into the other,--to find the May King, whose
occupation was gone when the gallant outlaw had supplanted him in the
favor of the Lady, assuming the part of the Hobby-Horse,[15] Robin
Hood usurping the title of King of the May,[16] and the Hobby-Horse
entering into a contest with the Dragon, as St. George.

We feel obliged to regard this interchange of functions among the
characters in the English May-pageants as fortuitous, notwithstanding
the coincidence of the May King sometimes appearing on horseback in
Germany, and notwithstanding our conviction that Kuhn is right in
maintaining that the May King, the Hobby-Horse, and the Dragon-Slayer
are symbols of one mythical idea. This idea we are compelled by want
of space barely to state, with the certainty of doing injustice to the
learning and ingenuity with which the author has supported his
views. Kuhn has shown it to be extremely probable, first, that the
Christmas games, which both in Germany and England have a close
resemblance to those of Spring, are to be considered as a prelude to
the May sports, and that they both originally symbolized the victory
of Summer over Winter,[17] which, beginning at the winter solstice, is
completed in the second month of spring; secondly, that the conquering
Summer is represented by the May King, or by the Hobby-Horse (as also
by the Dragon-Slayer, whether St. George, Siegfried, Apollo, or the
Sanskrit Indras); and thirdly, that the Hobby-Horse in particular
represents the god Woden, who, as well as Mars [18] among the Romans,
is the god at once of Spring and of Victory.

The essential point, all this being admitted, is now to establish the
identity of Robin Hood and the Hobby-Horse. This we think we have
shown cannot be done by reasoning founded on the early history of the
games under consideration. Kuhn relies principally upon two modern
accounts of Christmas pageants. In one of these pageants there is
introduced a man on horseback, who carries in his hands a bow and
arrows. The other furnishes nothing peculiar except a name: the
ceremony is called a _hoodening,_ and the hobby-horse a
_hooden_. In the rider with bow and arrows Kuhn sees Robin Hood
and the Hobby-Horse, and in the name _hooden_ (which is explained
by the authority he quotes to mean wooden) he discovers a provincial
form of wooden, which connects the outlaw and the divinity.[19] It
will be generally agreed that these slender premises are totally
inadequate to support the weighty conclusion that is rested upon them.

Why the adventures of Robin Hood should be specially assigned, as they
are in the old ballads, to the month of May, remains unexplained. We
have no exquisite reason to offer, but we may perhaps find reason good
enough in the delicious stanzas with which some of these ballads

"In summer when the shawes be sheen,
And leaves be large and long,
It is full merry in fair forest
To hear the fowles song;
To see the deer draw to the dale,
And leave the hilles hee,
And shadow them in the leaves green
Under the green-wood tree."

The poetical character of the season affords all the explanation that
is required.

Nor need the occurrence of exhibitions of archery and of the Robin
Hood plays and pageants, at this time of the year, occasion any
difficulty. Repeated statutes, from the thirteenth to the sixteenth
century, enjoined practice with the bow, and ordered that the leisure
time of holidays should be employed for this purpose. Under Henry the
Eighth the custom was still kept up, and those who partook in this
exercise often gave it a spirit by assuming the style and character of
Robin Hood and his associates. In like manner the society of archers
in Elizabeth's time took the name of Arthur and his Knights; all which
was very natural then, and would be now. None of all the merrymakings
in merry England surpassed the May festival. The return of the sun
stimulated the populace to the accumulation of all sorts of
amusements. In addition to the traditional and appropriate sports of
the season, there were, as Stowe tells us, divers warlike shows, with
good archers, morris-dancers, and other devices for pastime all day
long, and towards evening stage-plays and bonfires in the streets. A
Play of Robin Hood was considered "very proper for a May-game"; but if
Robin Hood was peculiarly prominent in these entertainments, the
obvious reason would appear to be that he was the hero of that loved
green-wood to which all the world resorted, when the cold obstruction
of winter was broken up, "to do observance for a morn of May."

We do not, therefore, attribute much value to the theory of
Mr. Wright, that the May festival was, in its earliest form, "a
religious celebration, though, like such festivals in general, it
possessed a double character, that of a religious ceremony, and of an
opportunity for the performance of warlike games; that, at such
festivals, the songs would take the character of the amusements on the
occasion, and would most likely celebrate warlike deeds,--perhaps the
myths of the patron whom superstition supposed to preside over them;
that, as the character of the exercises changed, the attributes of the
patron would change also, and he who was once celebrated as working
wonders with his good axe or his elf-made sword might afterwards
assume the character of a skilful bowman; that the scene of his
actions would likewise change, and the person whose weapons were the
bane of dragons and giants, who sought them in the wildernesses they
infested, might become the enemy only of the sheriff and his officers,
under the 'grene-wode lefe.'" It is unnecessary to point out that the
language we have quoted contains, beyond the statement that warlike
exercises were anciently combined with religious rites, a very
slightly founded surmise, and nothing more.

Another circumstance, which weighs much with Mr. Wright, goes but a
very little way with us in demonstrating the mythological character of
Robin Hood. This is the frequency with which his name is attached to
mounds, wells, and stones, such as in the popular creed are connected
with fairies, dwarfs, or giants. There is scarcely a county in England
which does not possess some monument of this description. "Cairns on
Blackdown in Somersetshire, and barrows near to Whitby in Yorkshire
and Ludlow in Shropshire, are termed Robin Hood's pricks or butts;
lofty natural eminences in Gloucestershire and Derbyshire are Robin
Hood's hills; a huge rock near Matlock is Robin Hood's Tor; ancient
boundary-stones, as in Lincolnshire, are Robin Hood's crosses; a
presumed loggan, or rocking-stone, in Yorkshire, is Robin Hood's
penny-stone; a fountain near Nottingham, another between Doncaster and
Wakefield, and one in Lancashire, are Robin Hood's wells; a cave in
Nottinghamshire is his stable; a rude natural rock in Hope Dale is his
chair; a chasm at Chatsworth is his leap; Blackstone Edge, in
Lancashire, is his bed."[20] In fact, his name bids fair to overrun
every remarkable object of the sort which has not been already
appropriated to King Arthur or the Devil; with the latter of whom, at
least, it is presumed, that, however ancient, he will not dispute

"The legends of the peasantry," quoth Mr. Wright, "are the shadows of
a very remote antiquity." This proposition, thus broadly stated, we
deny. Nothing is more deceptive than popular legends; and the
"legends" we speak of, if they are to bear that name, have no claim to
antiquity at all. They do not go beyond the ballads. They are palpably
of subsequent and comparatively recent origin. It was absolutely
impossible that they should arise while Robin Hood was a living
reality to the people. The archer of Sherwood who could barely stand
King Edward's buffet, and was felled by the Potter, was no man to be
playing with rocking-stones. This trick of naming must have begun in
the decline of his fame; for there was a time when his popularity
drooped, and his existence was just not doubted,--not elaborately
maintained by learned historians, and antiquarians deeply read in the
Public Records. And what do these names prove? The vulgar passion for
bestowing them is notorious and universal. We Americans are too young
to be well provided with heroes that might serve this purpose. We have
no imaginative peasantry to invent legends, no ignorant peasantry to
believe them. But we have the good fortune to possess the Devil in
common with the rest of the world; and we take it upon us to say, that
there is not a mountain district in the land, which has been opened to
summer travellers, where a "Devil's Bridge," a "Devil's Punch-bowl,"
or some object with the like designation, will not be pointed out.[21]

We have taken no notice of the later fortunes of Robin Hood in his
true and original character of a hero of romance. Towards the end of
the sixteenth century Anthony Munday attempted to revive the decaying
popularity of this king of good fellows, who had won all his honors as
a simple yeoman, by representing him in the play of "The Downfall of
Robert, Earl of Huntington" as a nobleman in disguise, outlawed by the
machinations of his steward. This pleasing and successful drama is
Robin's sole patent to that title of Earl of Huntington, in
confirmation of which Dr. Stukeley fabricated a pedigree that
transcends even the absurdities of heraldry, and some unknown forger
an epitaph beneath the skill of a Chatterton. Those who desire a full
acquaintance with the fabulous history of Robin Hood will seek it in
the well-known volumes of Ritson, or in those of his recent editor,
Gutch, who does not make up by superior discrimination for his
inferiority in other respects to that industrious antiquary.

[Footnote 1: A writer in the _Edinburgh Review_ (July, 1847,
p. 134) has cited an allusion to Robin Hood, of a date intermediate
between the passages from Wyntown and the one about to be cited from
Bower. In the year 1439, a petition was presented to Parliament
against one Piers Venables of Aston, in Derbyshire, "who having no
liflode, ne sufficeante of goodes, gadered and assembled unto him many
misdoers, beynge of his clothynge, and, in manere of insurrection,
wente into the wodes in that countrie, like as it hadde be _Robyn
Hude and his meyne_."--_Rot. Parl._ v. 16.]

[Footnote 2: "Legendis non raro incredilibibus aliisque plusquam
anilibus neniis."--Hearne, _Scotichronicon_, p. xxix.]

[Footnote 3: In his _Histore de la Conquete de l'Angleterre par les
Normands_, livr. xi. Thierry was anticipated in his theory by
Barry, in a dissertation cited by Mr. Wright in his Essays: _These
de Litterature sur les Vicissitudes et les Transformations du Cycle
populaire de Robin Hood_. Paris, 1832.]

[Footnote 4: _London, and Westminster Review_, vol. xxxiii. p. 424.]

[Footnote 5: No 4. _The Ballad Hero, Robin Hood_. June, 1852.]

[Footnote 6: Hunter, pp. 28, 35-38]

[Footnote 7: Mr. Hunter thinks it necessary to prove that it was
formerly a usage in England to celebrate real events in popular
song. We submit that it has been still more customary to celebrate
them in history, when they were of public importance. The case of
private and domestic stories is different.]

[Footnote 8: Most remarkable of all would this be, should we adopt the
views of Mr. Hunter, because we know, from the incidental testimony of
_Piers Ploughman_, that only forty years after the date fixed
upon for the outlaw's submission "rhymes of Robin Hood" were in the
mouth of every tavern lounger; and yet no chronicler can spare him a

[Footnote 9: Matthew Paris, London, 1640, p. 1002]

[Footnote 10: Mr. Hunter had previously instituted a similar argument
in the case of Adam Bell, and doubtless the reasoning might be
extended to Will Scathlock and Little John. With a little more
rummaging of old account-books we shall be enabled to "comprehend all
vagrom men." It is a pity that the Sheriff of Nottingham could not
have availed himself of the services of our "detective."]

[Footnote 11: See Wright's _Essays,_ ii. 207 "The name of
Witikind, the famous opponent of Charlemagne, who always fled before
his sight, concealed himself in the forests, and returned again in his
absence, is no more than _uitu chint,_ in Old High Dutch, and
signifies the _son of the wood,_ an appellation which he could
never have received at his birth, since it denotes an exile or
outlaw. Indeed, the name Witikind, though such a person seems to have
existed, appears to be the representative of all the defenders of his
country against the invaders."]

[Footnote 12: Thus, in Kent, the Hobby-Horse is called _hooden,_
i.e. wooden. It is curious that Orlando, in _As You Like It,_
(who represents the outlaw Gamelyn in the _Tale of Gamelyn,_ a
tale which clearly belongs to the cycle of Robin Hood,) should be the
son of Sir Rowland de Bois. Robin de Bois (says a writer in _Notes
and Queries,_ vi. 597) occurs in one of Sue's novels "as a
well-known mythical character, whose name is employed by French
mothers to frighten their children."]

[Footnote 13: Kuhn, in Haupt's _Zeitschrift fuer deutsches
Alterthum,_ v. 472. The idea of a northern myth will of course
excite the alarm of all sensible, patriotic Englishmen, (e. g. Mr.
Hunter, at page 3 of his tract,) and the bare suggestion of Woden will
be received, in the same quarters, with an explosion of scorn. And
yet we find the famous shot of Elgill, one of the mythical personages
of the Scandinavians, (and perhaps to be regarded as one of the forms
of Woden,) attributed in the ballad of _Adam Bel_ to William of
Cloudesly, who may be considered as Robin Hood under another name.]

[Footnote: 14. Unless importance is to be attached to
the consideration that May is the Virgin's

[Footnote 15: As in Tollett's window.]

[Footnote 16: In Lord Hailes's _Extracts from the Book of the
Universal Kirk._]

[Footnote 17: More openly exhibited in the mock battle between Summer
and Winter celebrated by the Scandinavians in honor of May, a custom
still retained in the Isle of Man, where the month is every year
ushered in with a contest between the Queen of Summer and the Queen of
Winter. (Brand's _Antiquities,_ by Ellis, i. 222, 257.) A similar
ceremony in Germany, occurring at Christmas, is noticed by Kuhn,
p. 478.]

[Footnote 18: Hence the spring begins with March. The connection with
Mars suggests a possible etymology for the Morris,--which is usually
explained, for want of something better, as a Morisco or Moorish
dance. There is some resemblance between the Morris and the Salic
dance. The Salic games are said to have been instituted by the Veian
king Morrius, a name pointing to Mars, the divinity of the
Salli.--Kuhn, 488-493.]

[Footnote 19: The name Robin also appears to Kuhn worthy of notice,
since the horseman in the May pageant is in some parts of Germany
called Ruprecht (Rupert, Robert).]

[Footnote 20: _Edinburgh Review,_ vol. 86, p. 123.]

[Footnote 21: See some sensible remarks in the _Gentleman's
Magazine_ for March, 1793, by D. H., that is, says the courteous
Ritson, by Gough, "the scurrilous and malignant editor of that
degraded publication."]


One of those violent, though shortlived storms, which occasionally
rage in southern climates, had blown all night in the neighborhood of
the little town of San Cipriano, situated in a wild valley of the
Apennines opening towards the sea. Under the olive-woods that cover
those steep hills lay the olive-berries strewed thick and wide; here
and there a branch heavy-laden with half-ripe fruit, torn by the blast
from its parent tree, stretched its prostrate length upon the
ground. An abundant premature harvest had fallen, but at present there
were no means of collecting it; for the deluging rains of the night
had soaked the ground, the grass, the dead leaves, the fruit itself,
and the rain was still falling heavily. If gathered in that state, the
olives are sure to rot.

_"Pazienza!"_ in such disasters exclaim the inhabitants of the
_Riviera_, with a melancholy shrug of the shoulders. And they
needs must have patience until the weather clears and the ground
dries, before they can secure such of the olives as may happily be

On the day we speak of, the 21st of December, 1852, the proprietors of
olive-grounds in San Cipriano wore very blank faces; they talked sadly
of the falling prices of the fruit and oil, and the olive-pickers
crossed their hands and looked vacantly at the gray sky.

In the spacious kitchen of Doctor Morani were assembled a body of
young rosy lasses in laced bodices, and short, bright-colored
petticoats, come down from the neighboring mountains for the
olive-gathering, much as Irish laborers cross over to England for the
hay-making season. These girls arrive in troops from their native
villages among the hills, carrying on their heads a sackful of the
flour of dried beans and a lesser quantity of dried chestnuts. They
offer their services to the inhabitants of the valley at the rate of
four pence English a day; about three pence less than the sum demanded
by the women of the place. But the pretty mountaineers ask, in
addition to their modest wages, a shelter for the night, a little
straw or hay for their beds, and a small daily portion of oil and salt
to season the bean-flour and chestnuts, which constitute their sole
food. They are then perfectly contented.

The old Doctor had hired several of these damsels to assist in getting
in his olive crop, with the customary additional compact to spin some
of the unwrought flax of the household when bad weather prevented
their out-of-door work, as well as regularly in the evening between
early dusk and bed-time. Happy those to whose lot it fell to be
employed by Dr. Morani! Besides not beating down their wages to the
utmost, it was the Doctor's wont, out of the exuberance of a
warm-hearted, joyous nature, unchilled even by his sixty winters, to
give to his serving men and maidens not only kind words and
encouraging looks, but also what made him perhaps still more popular,
humorous jokes and droll stories.

The Doctor, indeed, concealed something of the philosopher under the
garb of a wag. His quaint sayings and doings were frequently quoted
with great relish among this rural population. He had a way of his own
of shooting facts and truths into the uncultivated understandings of
these laborers,--facts and truths that never otherwise could have
penetrated so far; he feathered his philosophical or moral arrows with
a jest, and they stuck fast.

Signora Martina, his wife, was a good soul, and, though a strict
housewife, was yet not so thrifty but that she could allow a little of
her abundance to overflow on those in her service; and these crumbs
from her table added many delicious bits to the bean-flour
repasts. So, as we have said, happy the mountain girls taken into
Dr. Morani's service! But specially blest among the blest this year
were two sisters, to whom was allotted a bed, a real bed, to sleep
upon! How came they to be furnished with such a luxury? Why, this
season the Doctor had hired more than the usual number of pickers. The
outbuilding given them to sleep in was thus too small to accommodate
all, so two were taken into the house, and a diminutive closet,
generally used by the family as a bath-room, was turned into a
bed-room for the lucky couple. Now for a description of the bed. Over
the bath was placed an ironing-board, and upon this a mattress quite
as narrow, almost as hard, and far less smooth than the narrow plank
on which it lay. The width of the bed was just sufficient to admit the
two sisters, packed close, each lying on her side. As to turning, that
was simply out of the question; but "poor labor in sweet slumber
lock'd" lay from night till morning without once dreaming of change of

Signora Martina, the first day or two, expressed some fear lest they
might not rest well; but both girls averred they never in their lives
had known so luxurious a bed,--and never should again, unless their
good fortune brought them back another year to enjoy this sybarite
couch at Dr. Morani's.

Though irrelevant to our story, this short digression may serve to
illustrate the Arcadian simplicity of habits prevailing in these
mountainous districts, and affords one more illustration of the axiom,
not more trite than true, that human enjoyment and luxury are all

Well! the wet afternoon was wearing on, beguiled by the young girls as
best it might be, with the spindle and distaff, and incessant chatter
and laugh, save when they joined their voices in some popular
chant. Signora Martina was delivering fresh flax to the spinners;
Marietta, the maid, was busy about the fire, in provident forethought
for supper; and Beppo, a barefooted, weather-beaten individual, was
bringing in the wood he had been sawing this rainy day, which
interfered with his more usual business at that season. For Beppo was
one of the men whose task it was to climb the olive-trees and shake
down the olives for the women gathering below. He was distinguished
among many as a skilful and valiant climber; nor had his laurels been
earned without perils and wounds. Occasionally he fell, and
occasionally broke a bone or two,--episodes that had their
compensation. Beppo, then, on this particular rainy afternoon, came
in with a flat basket full of newly cut wood on his head, respectfully
saluted the _Padrona_, and, after throwing down his load in a
corner of the kitchen, leisurely turned his basket topsy-turvy, seated
himself upon it, and prepared to take his part in the general

At this moment the Doctor himself entered, his cloak and hat dripping.

"Heugh! heugh!" he exclaimed, in a voice of disgust, as his wife
helped him out of his covering; "what weather!" He went towards the
fire, and spread out his hands to catch the heat of the glowing
embers, on which sat a saucepan. "Horrid weather! The wind played the
very mischief with us last night!"

"Many branches broken, Padrone?" asked Beppo, eagerly.

"Branches, eh? Aye, aye; saw away; burn away; don't be afraid of a
supply failing," said the Doctor, dryly.

"Oh, Santa Maria!" sighed Signora Martina, in sad presentiment.

"Plenty of firewood, my dear soul, for two years," went on the
Doctor. "The big tree near the pigeon-house is head down, root up,
torn, smashed, prostrate, while good-for-nothing saplings are

"Oh Lord! such a tree! that never failed, bad year or good year, to
give us a sack of olives, and often more!" cried Signora Martina,
piteously. "More than three generations old it was!" And she began
actually to weep. "Oil selling for nothing, and the tree, the best of
trees, to be blown down!"

"Take care," said the Doctor, "take care of repining! Little
misfortunes are like a rash, which carries off bad humors from a too
robust body. Suppose the storm had laid my head low, and turned up my
toes; what then, eh, little girls?" turning to the group of young
creatures standing with their eyes very wide open at the recital of
the misdeeds of the turbulent wind, and now as suddenly off into a
laugh at the image of the Doctor's decease so represented. "Ah! you
giggling set! Happy you that have no branches to be broken, and no
olive-pickers to pay! _Per Bacco!_ you are well off, if you only
knew it!"

He walked over to where his weeping wife sat, laid his hand on her
head, and stooping, kissed her brow. The girls laughed again.

"Be quiet, all of you! Do you think that only smooth brows and bright
cheeks ought to be kissed? Be good loving wives, and I promise you
your husbands will be blind to your wrinkles. I could not be happy
without the sight of this well-known face; it is the record of
happiness for me. I wish you all our luck, my dears!"

All simpered or laughed, and Martina's brow smoothed.

"Now I see that I can still make you smile at misfortune," continued
the Doctor, "I will tell you something comforting. As I came along, I
met Paolo, the olive-merchant, who offered me a franc more a sack than
he did to any one else, because he knows our olives are of a superior

Signora Martina smiled rather a grim smile at this compliment to her

"But I told him," went on Doctor Morani, with a certain look of pride,
"that we were not going to sell; we intended to make oil for
ourselves. And so we will, Martina, with the olives that have been
blown down, hoping the best for those still on the trees. Now let us
talk of something more pleasant. Pasqualina, suppose you tell us a
story; you are our best hand, I believe."

"I am sure, Signor Dottore, I have nothing worth your listening to,"
answered Pasqualina, blushing.

"Tell us about the ghost your uncle saw," suggested another of the

"A ghost!" cried the Doctor. "Any one here seen a ghost? I wish I
could have such a chance! What was it like?"

"I did not see it myself; I do but believe what my uncle told me,"
said Pasqualina, with a gravity that had a shade of resentment.

"If one is only to speak of what one has seen," urged the prompter of
the uncle's ghost-story, "tell the Padrone of the witch that bewitched
your sister."

"Ah! and so we have witches too?" groaned the Doctor.

"As to that," resumed Pasqualina, with a dignified look, "I can't help
believing my own eyes, and those of all the people of our village."

"Well," exclaimed Doctor Morani, "let us hear all about the witch."

"You know, all of you," said Pasqualina, "what bad fits my sister had,
and how she was cured by the miraculous Madonna del Laghetto. So my
sister had no more fits, till Madalena, a spiteful old woman, and whom
everybody in the village knows to be a witch, mumbled some of her
spells and----"

"Hallo!" cried the Doctor, "do you mean that witches have more power
than the Madonna?"

"Oh! Signor Dottore, you put things so strangely! just listen to the
truth. So this old woman came and mumbled some of her spells, and then
my poor sister fell down again, and has since had fits as bad as
ever. But my father and brother were not going to take it so easily,
and they beat the bad old witch till she couldn't move, and had to be
carried to the hospital. I hope she may die, with all my heart I do!"

"You had better hope she will get well," observed the Doctor, coolly;
"for if she should happen to die, my good Pasqualina, it would be very
possible that your father and brother might be sent to the galleys."

Here Pasqualina set up a howl.

"Do not afflict yourself just now," resumed Doctor Morani; "for, with
all their good-will, they have not quite killed the woman. I saw her
myself at the hospital; she is getting better, and when cured, I shall
take care that she does not return among such a set of savages as
flourish in your village, Signorina Pasqualina. Excuse my
boldness,"--and the Doctor took off his skull-cap, in playful
obeisance to the young girl,--"only advise your family another time to
be less ready with their hands and their belief in every species of
absurdity. Did not Father Tommaso tell you but yesterday, that it was
not right to believe in ghosts or witches, save and except the
peculiar one or two it is his business to know about, and who lived
some thousand years ago? There have been none since, believe me."

"Strange things do happen, however," observed Signora Martina,
thoughtfully,--"things that neither priest nor lawyer can
explain. What was that thing which appeared, twenty years ago, on the
tower of San Ciprano?" The Signora's voice sent a shudder through all
the women present.

"A trick, and a stupid trick," persisted her husband.

"Not at all a trick, Doctor," said Martina, shaking her head.

"Did you see it yourself, Martina?"

"No; but I saw those who did with their own two blessed eyes."

"The Padrona is quite right," said Beppo, without leaving his
basket. "I, for one, saw it."

This assertion produced such a hubbub as sent the Doctor growling from
the room, and left Signora Martina at liberty to comply with the
general petition for the story.

"It was twenty-five years last Easter since Hans Reuter came to San
Cipriano with Carlo Boschi, the son of old Pietro, of our town. Carlo
had gone away three years before to seek his fortune. He went to
Switzerland, it seems, a distant country beyond the mountains, where
the language is different from ours, and where it is said"--(here
Martina lowered her voice)--"the people do not follow our holy
religion, and are called, therefore, Protestants and heretics. They
are industrious, notwithstanding, and clever in certain arts and
manufactures, and it was from some of them that Carlo learned the
watchmaking trade. After staying away three years, one fine day he
came back, bringing with him one of these Swiss, Hans Reuter; and the
two, being great friends, set up a shop together, where they made and
sold watches and jewelry. There was not business enough in San
Cipriano to maintain them, but they made it out by selling at
wholesale in the neighboring towns.

"For years all went smoothly with the partners, and their good luck
began to be wondered at, when one morning their shop was not open at
the usual hour. What was the matter? what had happened? there was
Carlo Boschi knocking and shouting to Hans, and all in vain. I must
tell you that Carlo lived elsewhere, and Hans had the care of the
premises at night, sleeping in a little room at the back of the
shop. The neighbors went out and advised Carlo to force the door. Very
well. When they got in, they found Hans bound hand and foot, and so
closely gagged that he was almost stifled. As soon as he could speak,
he said that just after he had shut up the previous evening, there
was a knock at the door. He had scarcely opened it, when he was seized
by two ruffians with blackened faces, who threw him down, gagged and
tied him, and then coolly proceeded to ransack every place, packed up
every bit of jewelry, every watch, and every piece of money, and then
decamped with their booty, locking the door on the outside. The
robbery took place on the third and last day of the Easter Fair,
exactly when there was the greatest noise and bustle from the breaking
up of booths, such an uproar of singing, brawling, and rolling of
carts, and such a stream of people going in every direction, as made
it easy for the thieves to escape detection. The police took a great
many depositions, and made a great fuss; but there the matter ended.

"To say the truth, it was like looking for a bird in a forest,
considering the number of strangers who had attended the fair;
besides, the police, you know, at that time, were too busy dogging and
hunting down Liberals to care for tracking only thieves. That,
however, is no business of mine or yours; and perhaps it would have
done no good to poor Hans, even if the criminals had been discovered.
He had got a great shock; he could not recover his spirits. Every one
felt for him, because he was a kind, sociable man, as well as
industrious; the only fault he had was being a Protestant. What that
was no one exactly knew; but it was a great sin and a great pity, it
seems. Sure it is that Hans never went to confession, or to the
communion. However, as time passed and brought no tidings of the
robbers, the poor man grew more thin and careworn every day. He would
talk for hours about Switzerland, about his own village, his father's
house, his parents and relations. He had left them so thoughtlessly,
he said, he had scarcely felt a regret; yet now a yearning grew within
him to look once more upon those dear faces, and the verdant mountains
of his country,--upon its cool, rushing streams, wide, green pastures,
and the cows that grazed on them. He used to tell us, that, when he
was alone, he heard their bells in the distance, and they seemed to
call him home. My husband did not like all this, and said Hans ought
to go at once, or it would be too late. But Hans delayed and delayed,
in the hope of recovering some of his stolen property, till one day he
was taken very ill and had to be carried to the hospital. The Doctor
attended him two or three times every day, and on the third was
summoned in a great hurry. Morani went and had a long conversation
with the poor dying fellow, and then Padre Michele of the Capuchin
Convent was sent for. It was some time before the good monk could be
found, and then it took still longer, he being old and very infirm,
before he could get to the hospital. When he did, it was too late;
poor Hans was dead.

"This was a sad business; for, if the Padre had come in time, at all
events Hans's soul would have been safe, and his body buried in
consecrated ground. My husband went to the Rector and told his
Reverence that Hans had renounced his errors, and had made a full
profession of the Catholic faith to him; but his Reverence shook his
head, and said that was not the same thing as if Padre Michele had
received Hans into the true fold. Then my husband said it was a pity
Hans should suffer because the Padre had been out of the way; but his
Reverence always answered, 'No,' and so 'No' it was. The clergy were
not to attend, and the body was to be put into the ground just as you
might bury a dog. What could my husband do more? So he went his way
to his patients. It happened that he had to see several, far in the
country, and so did not come home till late at night.

"You all know the tower which stands upon the green knoll high above
the town. It is a relic of very old times, when San Cipriano had
fortifications. It has been a ruin for more than a century,--a mere
shell, open to the sky, encircling a wide space of ground. A few days
before Hans's death, the Doctor had taken it into his head he would
like to hire this tower of the municipality, to which it belongs, to
make a garden within its walls. He had been to examine the place a
week previous, and had brought home the key of the gate, being
determined to take it. Now this very day after Hans died, and while my
husband was away on his round of country visits, the Syndic sent to
ask for the key, and I, thinking no harm, gave it. And now what do you
think the Syndic wanted the key for? Just to dig a hole for poor
Hans. Yes, the body was carried up there, and buried out of sight as
quickly as possible.

"When the Doctor came home he was in a mighty passion with
everybody;--with the Rector, for refusing Hans a place in the
burial-ground; with the Syndic, for allowing the tower to be used for
such a purpose; and most of all with me, for giving the key without
asking why or wherefore.

"However, what was done could not be undone, and so no more was said
about the matter. It might have been a week after, when some girls who
had set out before daylight to go to the wood for leaves, came back
much terrified, declaring they had seen an apparition on the tower
wall. Not one had dared to go on to the wood, but all ran back to the
town and spread the alarm. A dozen persons, at least, came to our
house to tell us about it, and I promise you my husband did not call
it a stupid trick, as he did today. He looked very grave, and
exclaimed, 'I don't wonder at it. No doubt it is poor Hans, who does
not like to lie in unconsecrated ground. Don't come to me,--it's none
of my business,--I have only to do with the living,--the dead belong
to the clergy,--this is the Rector's affair. If ever a ghost had a
right to walk, it is in such a case as this, when a poor, honest
fellow is denied Christian burial because an old monk's legs refuse to
carry him fast enough. Had Padre Michele been a younger man, all
would have been right.'

"There was quite a general commotion in the town, and at last, after a
day or two, some of the young men determined they would go and watch
the next night, to see if the thing appeared, or if it was mere
women's nonsense, and they went accordingly."

"I was one of the party," interrupted Beppo, taking the narrative out
of his Padrona's mouth, stirred by the high-wrought excitement of his
recollections. "I went with ten others, and I had a good loaded gun
with me. We hid ourselves behind some bushes, and watched and
watched. Nothing appeared, until the girls, who had agreed to come at
their usual hour for going to the wood, passed by; then, just at that
moment, I swear I saw it. I felt all,--I can't tell how,--a sort of
hot cold, and as if my legs were water. I don't know how I managed to
raise my gun,--I did it quite dreaming like; it went off with the
biggest noise ever a gun made, and the bullet must have gone through
the very head of the ghost, for it waved its thin arms fearfully. All
the rest ran away, but I could not move a peg. Then a terrible voice
roared out, 'I shall not forget thee, my friend! I will visit thee
again before thy last hour! Now begone!'"

Beppo ceased speaking, and a shuddering silence fell on the
listeners. Martina alone ventured on the awe-struck whisper of "What
was it like, Beppo?"

"A tall, white figure; its arms spread out like a cross,--so," replied
Beppo, rising from his basket, the better to personate the
ghost. "_Jesu Maria!_" he shrieked, "there it is! O Lord, have
mercy on us!"

And sure enough, standing against the door was a tall, white figure,
its arms spread out like the limbs of a cross. Screams, both shrill
and discordant, filled the room,--Martini, Beppo, Marietta, and the
girls tumbling and rushing about distraught with terror. Such a
mad-like scene! There was a trembling and a shaking of the white
figure for a moment, then down it went in a heap to the floor, and out
came the substantial proportions of Doctor Morani, looming formidable
in the dusky light of the expiring embers. The sound of his
well-known vigorous laugh resounded through the kitchen, as he flung a
bunch of pine branches on the fire. The next moment a bright flame
shot up, and the light as by magic brought the scared group to their
senses. Each looked into the faces of the others with an expression
of rising merriment struggling with ghastly fear, and first a
long-drawn breath of relief, and then a burst of laughter broke from

"What a fright you have given us, Padrone!" Beppo was the first to

"I hope so," replied the Doctor,--"it has only paid you off for the
one you gave me twenty years ago."

"I!--you!--but how, caro Padrone?"

"Ah! you haven't yet, I assure you, recognized your old acquaintance,
the identical ghost which you favored with a bullet. Would you like to
see it once more?"

"_Pazienza!_" exclaimed Beppo, "for once,--twice;--but three
times,--no, that is more than enough. I am satisfied with what I have

"Do you know what you have seen?" resumed the Doctor. "Very well,
listen to me. When the Rector refused to let poor Hans lie in the same
ground with many of our townspeople who (God rest their souls!) had
lived scarcely so honest a life as he had done, I was far from
imagining that he was to be thrust into the tower, of all places in
the world, and just when it was well known I had bargained for
it. 'That's the way I am to be used, is it?' thought I. I'll play you
a trick, my friends, worth two of yours,--one that will make you glad
to give honest Hans hospitality in your churchyard.'

"I waited a few days, till the moon should rise late, so as to be
shining about one or two in the morning, the time when the girls set
off for the woods. I provided myself with a sheet, and took care to
be in the tower before midnight. I tied two long sticks together in
the shape of a cross, stuck my hat on the top, and threw the linen
over the whole; and a capital ghost it was. Then I got under the
drapery, pushing up the stick, so as to give the idea of a gigantic
human figure with extended arms. I had no fear of being discovered,
for the Syndic had the key still in his possession, and I had made
good my entrance through a gap in the wall sufficiently well concealed
by brambles. I suppose I need not tell you, young women, how brave
your mothers were. My ghostship heard of the young men's project, and
encouraged them, never thinking there was one among them so stupid as
to carry a gun to fight a ghost with; for how can you shoot a ghost,
when it has neither flesh nor blood? It was impossible to suspect any
one of being such a monstrous blockhead; so I was rather disagreeably
startled at hearing the crack of a gun, and feeling the tingling of a
bullet whizzing past my ear. You nearly made me into a real ghost,
friend Beppo; for I assure you, you are a capital shot. Ever since
that memorable aim, I have entertained the deepest respect for you as
a marksman; it was not your fault that I am here now to make this
confession. I ducked my head below the wall in case a volley was to
follow the signal gun. When I peeped again, there remained one
solitary figure before the tower, immovable as a stone pillar. O noble
Beppo, it was thou!

"'I must get rid of this fellow one way or other,' thought I, 'but not
by shaking my stick-covered sheet, or I shall have another bullet.' So
I raised myself breasthigh above the wall, made a trumpet of my hands,
and roared out the fearful promise I have kept this evening. As soon
as I saw my enemy's back, I left my station, and never played the
ghost again."

"A pretty folly for a man of forty!" cried Signora Martina, still
smarting under her late fright. "Why, a boy would be well whipped for
such a trick. There's no knowing what to believe in a man like you, no
saying when you are in earnest or in fun."

After a moment's silence, the lady asked in a softer tone, "Now do
tell me, Morani, is it true that poor Hans recanted before he died?"

"My dear, if Padre Michele had been in time, we should have been sure
of the fact. You see the Rector did not think I knew enough of
theology to decide. I am a submissive child of the Church," replied
the husband. "As for the ghost, I took care to provide against
forgetting my folly. On the top shelf of the laboratory I hung up the
bullet-pierced hat; and the bullet itself I ticketed with the date and
kept in my desk. Who wants to see the ghost's hat?"--and the Doctor
drew a hat from under the sheet still lying on the floor, and
exhibited it to the curious eyes of all present, making them admire
the neat hole in it. The bullet itself he took out of his waistcoat
pocket, and holding it towards Beppo, asked, "Hadn't it a mark?"

"Yes, sir, I cut a cross on it," replied the abashed climber of
olive-trees; "and by all the Saints, there it is still! Pasqualina,
my girl," turning to her, "your uncle's ghost will turn out to be

"Bravo! Beppo," cried the Doctor.

"Knowing what you know by experience, suppose you hint to any one
inclined to spectre-shooting, that he runs the risk of killing a live
man, and having two ghosts on his hands,--the ghost of the poor devil
shot, and one of himself hanged for murder. As for you, young girls,
remember that when you go forth to meet the perils of dark mornings,
you are more likely to encounter dangers from flesh and blood than
from spirits."


[The _Milliorium Aureum,_ or Golden Mile-Stone, was a gilt marble
pillar in the Forum at Rome, from which, as a central point, the great
roads of the empire diverged through the several gates of the city,
and the distances were measured.]

Leafless are the trees; their purple branches
Spread themselves abroad, like reefs of coral
Rising silent
In the Red Sea of the winter sunset.

From the hundred chimneys of the village,
Like the Afreet in the Arabian story,
Smoky columns
Tower aloft into the air of amber.

At the window winks the flickering fire-light;
Here and there the lamps of evening glimmer,
Social watch-fires,
Answering one another through the darkness.

On the hearth the lighted logs are glowing,
And, like Ariel in the cloven pine-tree,
For its freedom
Groans and sighs the air imprisoned in them.

By the fireside there are old men seated,
Seeing ruined cities in the ashes,
Asking sadly
Of the Past what it can ne'er restore them.

By the fireside there are youthful dreamers,
Building castles fair with stately stairways,
Asking blindly
Of the Future what it cannot give them.

By the fireside tragedies are acted
In whose scenes appear two actors only,
Wife and husband,
And above them God, the sole spectator.

By the fireside there are peace and comfort,
Wives and children, with fair, thoughtful faces,
Waiting, watching
For a well-known footstep in the passage.

Each man's chimney is his Golden Mile-Stone,--
Is the central point from which he measures
Every distance
Through the gateways of the world around him.

In his farthest wanderings still he sees it;
Hears the talking flame, the answering night-wind,
As he heard them
When he sat with those who were, but are not.

Happy he whom neither wealth nor fashion,
Nor the march of the encroaching city,
Drives an exile
From the hearth of his ancestral homestead!

We may build more splendid habitations,
Fill our rooms with paintings and with sculptures,
But we cannot
Buy with gold the old associations.



I really believe some people save their bright thoughts, as being too
precious for conversation. What do you think an admiring friend said
the other day to one that was talking good things,--good enough to
print? "Why," said he, "you are wasting merchantable literature, a
cash article, at the rate, as nearly as I can tell, of fifty dollars
an hour." The talker took him to the window and asked him to look out
and tell what he saw.

"Nothing but a very dusty street," he said, "and a man driving a
sprinkling-machine through it."

"Why don't you tell the man he is wasting that water? What would be
the state of the highways of life, if we did not drive our
_thought-sprinklers_ through them with the valves open,

"Besides, there is another thing about this talking, which you
forget. It shapes our thoughts for us;--the waves of conversation roll
them as the surf rolls the pebbles on the shore. Let me modify the
image a little. I rough out my thoughts in talk as an artist models in
clay. Spoken language is so plastic,--you can pat and coax, and spread
and shave, and rub out, and fill up, and stick on so easily, when you
work that soft material, that there is nothing like it for
modelling. Out of it come the shapes which you turn into marble or
bronze in your immortal books, if you happen to write such. Or, to use
another illustration, writing or printing is like shooting with a
rifle; you may hit your reader's mind, or miss it;--but talking is
like playing at a mark with the pipe of an engine; if it is within
reach, and you have time enough, you can't help hitting it."

The company agreed that this last illustration was of superior
excellence, or, in the phrase used by them, "Fust-rate." I
acknowledged the compliment, but gently rebuked the expression.
"Fust-rate," "prime," "a prime article," "a superior piece
of goods," "a handsome garment," "a gent in a flowered vest,"--all
such expressions are final. They blast the lineage of him or her who
utters them, for generations up and down. There is one other phrase
which will soon come to be decisive of a man's social _status_, if it
is not already: "That tells the whole story." It is an expression
which vulgar and conceited people particularly affect, and which
well-meaning ones, who know better, catch from them. It is intended to
stop all debate, like the previous question in the General Court. Only
it don't; simply because "that" does not usually tell the whole, nor
one half of the whole story.

----It is an odd idea, that almost all our people have had a
professional education. To become a doctor a man must study some
three years and hear a thousand lectures, more or less. Just how much
study it takes to make a lawyer I cannot say, but probably not more
than this. Now most decent people hear one hundred lectures or sermons
(discourses) on theology every year,--and this, twenty, thirty, fifty
years together. They read a great many religious books besides. The
clergy, however, rarely hear any sermons except what they preach
themselves. A dull preacher might be conceived, therefore, to lapse
into a state of _quasi_ heathenism, simply for want of religious
instruction. And on the other hand, an attentive and intelligent
hearer, listening to a succession of wise teachers, might become
actually better educated in theology than any one of them. We are all
theological students, and more of us qualified as doctors of divinity
than have received degrees at any of the universities.

It is not strange, therefore, that very good people should often find
it difficult, if not impossible, to keep their attention fixed upon a
sermon treating feebly a subject which they have thought vigorously
about for years, and heard able men discuss scores of times. I have
often noticed, however, that a hopelessly dull discourse acts
_inductively_, as electricians would say, in developing strong
mental currents. I am ashamed to think with what accompaniments and
variations and _fioriture_ I have sometimes followed the droning
of a heavy speaker,--not willingly,--for my habit is reverential,--but
as a necessary result of a slight continuous impression on the senses
and the mind, which kept both in action without furnishing the food
they required to work upon. If you ever saw a crow with a king-bird
after him, you will get an image of a dull speaker and a lively
listener. The bird in sable plumage flaps heavily along his
straight-forward course, while the other sails round him, over him,
under him, leaves him, comes back again, tweaks out a black feather,
shoots away once more, never losing sight of him, and finally reaches
the crow's perch at the same time the crow does, having cut a perfect
labyrinth of loops and knots and spirals while the slow fowl was
painfully working from one end of his straight line to the other.

[I think these remarks were received rather coolly. A temporary
boarder from the country, consisting of a somewhat more than
middle-aged female, with a parchment forehead and a dry little
"frisette" shingling it, a sallow neck with a necklace of gold beads, a
black dress too rusty for recent grief, and contours in basso-rilievo,
left the table prematurely, and was reported to have been very
virulent about what I said. So I went to my good old minister, and
repeated the remarks, as nearly as I could remember them, to him. He
laughed good-naturedly, and said there was considerable truth in
them. He thought he could tell when people's minds were wandering, by
their looks. In the earlier years of his ministry he had sometimes
noticed this, when he was preaching;--very little of late
years. Sometimes, when his colleague was preaching, he observed this
kind of inattention; but after all, it was not so very unnatural. I
will say, by the way, that it is a rule I have long followed, to tell
my worst thoughts to my minister, and my best thoughts to the young
people I talk with.]

----I want to make a literary confession now, which I believe nobody
has made before me. You know very well that I write verses sometimes,
because I have read some of them at this table. (The company
assented,--two or three of them in a resigned sort of way, as I
thought, as if they supposed I had an epic in my pocket, and was going
to read half a dozen books or so for their benefit.)--I continued. Of
course I write some lines or passages which are better than others;
some which, compared with the others, might be called relatively
excellent. It is in the nature of things that I should consider these
relatively excellent lines or passages as absolutely good. So much
must be pardoned to humanity. Now I never wrote a "good" line in my
life, but the moment after it was written it seemed a hundred years
old. Very commonly I had a sudden conviction that I had seen it
somewhere. Possibly I may have sometimes unconsciously stolen it, but
I do not remember that I ever once detected any historical truth in
these sudden convictions of the antiquity of my new thought or
phrase. I have learned utterly to distrust them, and never allow them
to bully me out of a thought or line.

This is the philosophy of it. (Here the number of the company was
diminished by a small secession.) Any new formula which suddenly
emerges in our consciousness has its roots in long trains of thought;
it is virtually old when it first makes its appearance among the
recognized growths of our intellect. Any crystalline group of musical
words has had a long and still period to form in. Here is one theory.

But there is a larger law which perhaps comprehends these facts. It is
this. The rapidity with which ideas grow old in our memories is in a
direct ratio to the squares of their importance. Their apparent age
runs up miraculously, like the value of diamonds, as they increase in
magnitude. A great calamity, for instance, is as old as the trilobites
an hour after it has happened. It stains backward through all the
leaves we have turned over in the book of life, before its blot of
tears or of blood is dry on the page we are turning. For this we seem
to have lived; it was foreshadowed in dreams that we leaped out of in
the cold sweat of terror; in the "dissolving views" of dark
day-visions; all omens pointed to it; all paths led to it. After the
tossing half-forgetfulness of the first sleep that follows such an
event, it comes upon us afresh, as a surprise, at waking; in a few
moments it is old again,--old as eternity.

[I wish I had not said all this then and there. I might have known
better. The pale schoolmistress, in her mourning dress, was looking
at me, as I noticed, with a wild sort of expression. All at once the
blood dropped out of her cheeks as the mercury drops from a broken
barometer-tube, and she melted away from her seat like an image of
snow; a slung-shot could not have brought her down better. God forgive

After this little episode, I continued, to some few that remained
balancing teaspoons on the edges of cups, twirling knives, or tilting
upon the hind legs of their chairs until their heads reached the wall,
where they left gratuitous advertisements of various popular

When a person is suddenly thrust into any strange, new position of
trial, he finds the place fits him as if he had been measured for
it. He has committed a great crime, for instance, and is sent to the
State Prison. The traditions, prescriptions, limitations, privileges,
all the sharp conditions of his new life, stamp themselves upon his
consciousness as the signet on soft wax;--a single pressure is
enough. Let me strengthen the image a little. Did you ever happen to
see that most soft-spoken and velvet-handed steam-engine at the Mint?
The smooth piston slides backward and forward as a lady might slip her
delicate finger in and out of a ring. The engine lays one of
_its_ fingers calmly, but firmly, upon a bit of metal; it is a
coin now, and will remember that touch, and tell a new race about it,
when the date upon it is crusted over with twenty centuries. So it is
that a great silent-moving misery puts a new stamp on us in an hour or
a moment,--as sharp an impression as if it had taken half a lifetime
to engrave it.

It is awful to be in the hands of the wholesale professional dealers
in misfortune; undertakers and jailers magnetize you in a moment, and
you pass out of the individual life you were living into the
rhythmical movements of their horrible machinery. Do the worst thing
you can, or suffer the worst that can be thought of, you find yourself
in a category of humanity that stretches back as far as Cain, and with
an expert at your elbow that has studied your case all out beforehand,
and is waiting for you with his implements of hemp or mahogany. I
believe, if a man were to be burned in any of our cities to-morrow for
heresy, there would be found a master of ceremonies that knew just how
many fagots were necessary, and the best way of arranging the whole

----So we have not won the Good-wood cup; _au contraire_, we were
a "bad fifth," if not worse than that; and trying it again, and the
third time, has not yet bettered the matter. Now I am as patriotic as
any of my fellow-citizens,--too patriotic in fact, for I have got into
hot water by loving too much of my country; in short, if any man,
whose fighting weight is not more than eight stone four pounds,
disputes it, I am ready to discuss the point with him. I should have
gloried to see the stars and stripes in front at the finish. I love my
country, and I love horses. Stubbs's old mezzotint of Eclipse hangs
over my desk, and Herring's portrait of Plenipotentiary,--whom I saw
run at Epsom,--over my fireplace. Did I not elope from school to see
Revenge, and Prospect, and Little John, and Peacemaker run over the
race-course where now yon suburban village flourishes, in the year
eighteen hundred and ever-so-few? Though I never owned a horse, have I
not been the proprietor of six equine females, of which one was the
prettiest little "Morgin" that ever stepped? Listen, then, to an
opinion I have often expressed long before this venture of ours in
England. Horse-_racing_ is not a republican institution;
horse-_trotting_ is. Only very rich persons can keep race-horses,
and everybody knows they are kept mainly as gambling implements. All
that matter about blood and speed we won't discuss; we understand all
that; useful, very,--_of_ course,--great obligations to the
Godolphin "Arabian," and the rest. I say racing horses are
essentially gambling implements, as much as roulette tables. Now I am
not preaching at this moment; I may read you one of my sermons some
other morning; but I maintain that gambling, on the great scale, is
not republican. It belongs to two phases of society,--a cankered
over-civilization, such as exists in rich aristocracies, and the
reckless life of borderers and adventurers, or the semi-barbarism of a
civilization resolved into its primitive elements. Real republicanism
is stern and severe; its essence is not in forms of government, but in
the omnipotence of public opinion which grows out of it. This public
opinion cannot prevent gambling with dice or stocks, but it can and
does compel it to keep comparatively quiet. But horse-racing is the
most public way of gambling; and with all its immense attractions to
the sense and the feelings,--to which I plead very susceptible,--the
disguise is too thin that covers it, and everybody knows what it
means. Its supporters are the Southern gentry,--fine fellows, no
doubt, but not republicans exactly, as we understand the term,--a few
Northern millionnaires more or less thoroughly millioned, who do not
represent the real people, and the mob of sporting men, the best of
whom are commonly idlers, and the worst very bad neighbors to have
near one in a crowd, or to meet in a dark alley. In England, on the
other hand, with its aristocratic institutions, racing is a natural
growth enough; the passion for it spreads downwards through all
classes, from the Queen to the costermonger. London is like a shelled
corn-cob on the Derby day, and there is not a clerk who could raise
the money to hire a saddle with an old hack under it that can sit down
on his office-stool the next day without wincing.

Now just compare the racer with the trotter for a moment. The racer is
incidentally useful, but essentially something to bet upon, as much as
the thimble-rigger's "little joker." The trotter is essentially and
daily useful, and only incidentally a tool for sporting men.

What better reason do you want for the fact that the racer is most
cultivated and reaches his greatest perfection in England, and that
the trotting horses of America beat the world? And why should we have
expected that the pick--if it was the pick--of our few and far-between
racing stables should beat the pick of England and France? Throw over
the fallacious time-test, and there was nothing to show for it but a
natural kind of patriotic feeling, which we all have, with a
thoroughly provincial conceit, which some of us must plead guilty to.

We may beat yet. As an American, I hope we shall. As a moralist and
occasional sermonizer, I am not so anxious about it. Wherever the
trotting horse goes, he carries in his train brisk omnibuses, lively
bakers' carts, and therefore hot rolls, the jolly butcher's wagon, the
cheerful gig, the wholesome afternoon drive with wife and child,--all
the forms of moral excellence, except truth, which does not agree with
any kind of horse-flesh. The racer brings with him gambling, cursing,
swearing, drinking, the eating of oysters, and a distaste for mob-caps
and the middle-aged virtues.

And by the way, let me beg you not to call a _trotting match_ a
_race_, and not to speak of a "thorough-bred" as a "_blooded_" horse,
unless he has been recently phlebotomized. I consent to your saying
"blood horse," if you like. Also, if, next year, we send out Posterior
and Posterioress, the winners of the great national four-mile race in
7 18-1/2, and they happen to get beaten, pay your bets, and behave
like men and gentlemen about it, if you know how.

[I felt a great deal better after blowing off the ill-temper condensed
in the above paragraph. To brag little,--to show--well,--to crow
gently, if in luck,--to pay up, to own up, and to shut up, if beaten,
are the virtues of a sporting man, and I can't say that I think we
have shown them in any great perfection of late.]

----Apropos of horses. Do you know how important good jockeying is to
authors? Judicious management; letting the public see your animal
just enough, and not too much; holding him up hard when the market is
too full of him; letting him out at just the right buying intervals;
always gently feeling his mouth; never slacking and never jerking the
rein;--this is what I mean by jockeying.

----When an author has a number of books out, a cunning hand will keep
them all spinning, as Signor Blitz does his dinner-plates; fetching
each one up, as it begins to "wabble," by an advertisement, a puff, or
a quotation.

----Whenever the extracts from a living writer begin to multiply fast in
the papers, without obvious reason, there is a new book or a new
edition coming. The extracts are _ground-bait_.

----Literary life is full of curious phenomena. I don't know that there
is anything more noticeable than what we may call _conventional
reputations_. There is a tacit understanding in every community of
men of letters that they will not disturb the popular fallacy
respecting this or that electro-gilded celebrity. There are various
reasons for this forbearance: one is old; one is rich; one is
good-natured; one is such a favorite with the pit that it would not be
safe to hiss him from the manager's box. The venerable augurs of the
literary or scientific temple may smile faintly when one of the tribe
is mentioned; but the farce is in general kept up as well as the
Chinese comic scene of entreating and imploring a man to stay with
you, with the implied compact between you that he shall by no means
think of doing it. A poor wretch he must be who would wantonly sit
down on one of these bandbox reputations. A Prince-Rupert's-drop,
which is a tear of unannealed glass, lasts indefinitely, if you keep
it from meddling hands; but break its tail off, and it explodes and
resolves itself into powder. These celebrities I speak of are the
Prince-Rupert's-drops of the learned and polite world. See how the
papers treat them! What an array of pleasant kaleidoscopic phrases,
that can be arranged in ever so many charming patterns, is at their
service! How kind the "Critical Notices"--where small authorship
comes to pick up chips of praise, fragrant, sugary, and sappy--always
are to them! Well, life would be nothing without paper-credit and
other fictions; so let them pass current. Don't steal their chips;
don't puncture their swimming-bladders; don't come down on their
pasteboard boxes; don't break the ends of their brittle and unstable
reputations, you fellows who all feel sure that your names will be
household words a thousand years from now.

"A thousand years is a good while," said the old gentleman who sits
opposite, thoughtfully.

----Where have I been for the last three or four days? Down at the
Island, deer-shooting.--How many did I bag? I brought home one buck
shot.--The Island is where? No matter. It is the most splendid domain
that any man looks upon in these latitudes. Blue sea around it, and
running up into its heart, so that the little boat slumbers like a
baby in lap, while the tall ships are stripping naked to fight the
hurricane outside, and storm-stay-sails banging and flying in ribbons.
Trees, in stretches of miles; beeches, oaks, most numerous;--many of
them hung with moss, looking like bearded Druids; some coiled in the
clasp of huge, dark-stemmed grape-vines. Open patches where the sun
gets in and goes to sleep, and the winds come so finely
sifted that they are as soft as swan's down. Rocks scattered
about,--Stonehenge-like monoliths. Fresh-water lakes; one of them,
Mary's lake, crystal-clear, full of flashing pickerel lying under the
lily-pads like tigers in the jungle. Six pounds of ditto one morning
for breakfast. EGO _fecit_.

The divinity-student looked as if he would like to question my
Latin. No, sir, I said,--you need not trouble yourself. There is a
higher law in grammar, not to be put down by Andrews and
Stoddard. Then I went on.

Such hospitality as that island has seen there has not been the like
of in these our New England sovereignties. There is nothing in the
shape of kindness and courtesy that can make life beautiful, which has
not found its home in that ocean-principality. It has welcomed all who
were worthy of welcome, from the pale clergyman who came to breathe
the sea-air with its medicinal salt and iodine, to the great statesman
who turned his back on the affairs of empire, and smoothed his
Olympian forehead head, and flashed his white teeth in merriment over
the long table, where his wit was the keenest and his story the best.

[I don't believe any man ever talked like that in this world. I don't
believe _I_ talked just so; but the fact is, in reporting one's
conversation, one cannot help _Blair_-ing it up more or less,
ironing out crumpled paragraphs, starching limp ones, and crimping and
plaiting a little sometimes; it is as natural as prinking at the

----How can a man help writing poetry in such a place? Everybody does
write poetry that goes there. In the state archives, kept in the
library of the Lord of the Isle, are whole volumes of unpublished
verse,--some by well-known hands, and others, quite as good, by the
last people you would think of as versifiers,--men who could pension
off all the genuine poets in the country, and buy ten acres of Boston
common, if it was for sale, with what they had left. Of course I had
to write my little copy of verses with the rest; here it is, if you
will hear me read it. When the sun is in the west, vessels sailing in
an easterly direction look bright or dark to one who observes them
from the north or south, according to the tack they are sailing
upon. Watching them from one of the windows of the great mansion, I
saw these perpetual changes, and moralized thus:--

As I look from the isle, o'er its billows of green
To the billows of foam-crested blue,
Yon bark, that afar in the distance is seen,
Half dreaming, my eyes will pursue:
Now dark in the shadow, she scatters the spray
As the chaff in the stroke of the flail;
Now white as the sea-gull, she flies on her way,
The sun gleaming bright on her sail.

Yet her pilot is thinking of dangers to shun,--
Of breakers that whiten and roar;
How little he cares, if in shadow or sun
They see him that gaze from the shore!
He looks to the beacon that looms from the reef,
To the rock that is under his lee,
As he drifts on the blast, like a wind-wafted leaf,
O'er the gulfs of the desolate sea.

Thus drifting afar to the dim-vaulted caves
Where life and its ventures are laid,
The dreamers who gaze while we battle the waves
May see us in sunshine or shade;
Yet true to our course, though our shadow grow dark,
We'll trim our broad sail as before,
And stand by the rudder that governs the bark,
Nor ask how we look from the shore!

----Insanity is often the logic of an accurate mind overtasked. Good
mental machinery ought to break its own wheels and levers, if anything
is thrust among them suddenly which tends to stop them or reverse
their motion. A weak mind does not accumulate force enough to hurt
itself; stupidity often saves a man from going mad. We frequently see
persons in insane hospitals, sent there in consequence of what are
called _religious_ mental disturbances. I confess that I think
better of them than of many who hold the same notions, and keep their
wits and appear to enjoy life very well, outside of the asylums. Any
decent person ought to go mad, if he really holds such or such
opinions. It is very much to his discredit in every point of view, if
he does not. What is the use of my saying what some of these opinions
are? Perhaps more than one of you hold such as I should think ought to
send you straight over to Somerville, if you have any logic in your
heads or any human feeling in your hearts. Anything that is brutal,
cruel, heathenish, that makes life hopeless for the most of mankind
and perhaps for entire races,--anything that assumes the necessity of
the extermination of instincts which were given to be regulated,--no
matter by what name you call it,--no matter whether a fakir, or a
monk, or a deacon believes it,--if received, ought to produce insanity
in every well-regulated mind. That condition becomes a normal one,
under the circumstances. I am very much ashamed of some people for
retaining their reason, when they know perfectly well that if they
were not the most stupid or the most selfish of human beings, they
would become _non-compotes_ at once.

[Nobody understood this but the theological student and the
schoolmistress. They looked intelligently at each other; but whether
they were thinking about my paradox or not, I am not clear.--It would
be natural enough. Stranger things have happened. Love and Death enter
boarding-houses without asking the price of board, or whether there is
room for them. Alas, these young people are poor and pallid! Love
_should_ be both rich and rosy, but _must_ be either rich or
rosy. Talk about military duty! What is that to the warfare of a
married maid-of-all-work, with the title of mistress, and an American
female constitution, which collapses just in the middle third of life,
and comes out vulcanised India-rubber, if it happen to live through
the period when health and strength are most wanted?]

----Have I ever acted in private theatricals? Often. I have
played the part of the "Poor Gentleman," before a great many
audiences,--more, I trust, than I shall ever face again. I did not
wear a stage-costume, nor a wig, nor moustaches of burnt cork; but I
was placarded and announced as a public performer, and at the proper
hour I came forward with the ballet-dancer's smile upon my
countenance, and made my bow and acted my part. I have seen my name
stuck up in letters so big that I was ashamed to show myself in the
place by daylight. I have gone to a town with a sober literary essay
in my pocket, and seen myself everywhere announced as the most
desperate of _buffos_,--one who was obliged to restrain himself
in the full exercise of his powers, from prudential considerations. I
have been through as many hardships as Ulysses, in the pursuit of my
histrionic vocation. I have travelled in cars until the conductors all
knew me like a brother. I have run off the rails, and stuck all night
in snowdrifts, and sat behind females that would have the window open
when one could not wink without his eyelids freezing together. Perhaps
I shall give you some of my experiences one of these days;--I will not
now, for I have something else for you.

Private theatricals, as I have figured in them in country
lyceum-halls, are one thing,--and private theatricals, as they may be
seen in certain gilded and frescoed saloons of our metropolis, are
another. Yes, it is pleasant to see real gentlemen and ladies, who do
not think it necessary to mouth, and rant, and stride, like most of
our stage heroes and heroines, in the characters which show off their
graces and talents; most of all to see a fresh, unrouged, unspoiled,
highbred young maiden, with a lithe figure, and a pleasant voice,
acting in those love-dramas that make us young again to look upon,
when real youth and beauty will play them for us.

----Of course I wrote the prologue I was asked to write. I did not see
the play, though. I knew there was a young lady in it, and that
somebody was in love with her, and she was in love with him, and
somebody (an old tutor, I believe) wanted to interfere, and, very
naturally, the young lady was too sharp for him. The play of course
ends charmingly; there is a general reconciliation, and all concerned
form a line and take each others' hands, as people always do after
they have made up their quarrels,--and then the curtain falls,--if it
does not stick, as it commonly does at private theatrical exhibitions,
in which case a boy is detailed to pull it down, which he does,
blushing violently.

Now, then, for my prologue. I am not going to change my caesuras and
cadences for anybody; so if you do not like the heroic, or iambic
trimeter brachycatalectic, you had better not wait to hear it.


A Prologue? Well, of course the ladies know;--

I have my doubts. No matter,--here we go!

What is a Prologue? Let our Tutor teach:
_Pro_ means beforehand; _logos_ stands for speech.
'Tis like the harper's prelude on the strings,
The prima donna's courtesy ere she sings;--
Prologues in metre are to other _pros_
As worsted stockings are to engine-hose.

"The world's a stage,"--as Shakspeare said, one day;
The stage a world--was what he meant to say.
The outside world's a blunder, that is clear;
The real world that Nature meant is here.
Here every foundling finds its lost mamma;
Each rogue, repentant, melts his stern papa;
Misers relent, the spendthrift's debts are paid,
The cheats are taken in the traps they laid;
One after one the troubles all are past
Till the fifth act comes right side up at last,
When the young couple, old folks, rogues, and all,
Join hands, so happy at the curtain's fall.
--Here suffering virtue ever finds relief,
And black-browed ruffians always come to grief.
--When the lorn damsel, with a frantic screech,
And cheeks as hueless as a brandy-peach,
Cries, "Help, kyind Heaven!" and drops upon her knees
On the green--baize,--beneath the (canvas) trees,--
See to her side avenging Valor fly:--
"Ha! Villain! Draw! Now, Terraitorr, yield or die!"
--When the poor hero flounders in despair,
Some dear lost uncle turns up millionnaire,--
Clasps the young scapegrace with paternal joy,
Sobs on his neck, "My boy! My Boy!! MY BOY!!!"

Ours, then, sweet friends, the real world to-night
Of love that conquers in disaster's spite.
Ladies, attend! While woful cares and doubt
Wrong the soft passion in the world without,
Though fortune scowl, though prudence interfere,
One thing is certain: Love will triumph here!

Lords of creation, whom your ladies rule,--
The world's great masters, when you're out of school,--
Learn the brief moral of our evening's play:
Man has his will,--but woman has her way!
While man's dull spirit toils in smoke and fire,
Woman's swift instinct threads the electric wire,--
The magic bracelet stretched beneath the waves
Beats the black giant with his score of slaves.
All earthly powers confess your sovereign art
But that one rebel,--woman's wilful heart.
All foes you master; but a woman's wit
Lets daylight through you ere you know you're hit.
So, just to picture what her art can do,
Hear an old story made as good as new.

Rudolph, professor of the headsman's trade,
Alike was famous for his arm and blade.
One day a prisoner Justice had to kill
Knelt at the block to test the artist's skill.
Bare-armed, swart-visaged, gaunt, and shaggy-browed,
Rudolph the headsman rose above the crowd.
His falchion lightened with a sudden gleam,
As the pike's armor flashes in the stream.
He sheathed his blade; he turned as if to go;
The victim knelt, still waiting for the blow.
"Why strikest not? Perform thy murderous act,"
The prisoner said. (His voice was slightly cracked.)
"Friend, I _have_ struck," the artist straight replied;
"Wait but one moment, and yourself decide."
He held his snuff-box,--"Now then, if you please!"
The prisoner sniffed, and, with a crashing sneeze,
Off his head tumbled,--bowled along the floor,--
Bounced down the steps;--the prisoner said no more!

Woman! thy falchion is a glittering eye;
If death lurks in it, oh, how sweet to die!
Thou takest hearts as Rudolph took the head;
We die with love, and never dream we're dead!

The prologue went off very well, as I hear. No alterations were
suggested by the lady to whom it was sent, for as far as I
know. Sometimes people criticize the poems one sends them, and
suggest, all sorts of improvements. Who was that silly body that
wanted Burns to alter "Scots wha hae," so as to lengthen the last
line, thus?--

"_Edward!_". Chains and slavery!

Here is a little poem I sent a short time since to a committee for a
certain celebration. I understood that it was to be a festive and
convivial occasion, and ordered myself accordingly. It seems the
president of the day was what is called a "teetotaller." I received a
note from him in the following words, containing the copy subjoined,
with the emendations annexed to it

"Dear Sir,--Your poem gives good satisfaction to the committee. The
sentiments expressed with reference to liquor are not, however, those
generally entertained by this community. I have therefore consulted
the clergyman of this place, who has made some slight changes, which
he thinks will remove all objections, and keep the valuable portions
of the poem. Please to inform me of your charge for said poem. Our
means are limited, etc., etc., etc.

"Yours with respect."


Come! fill a fresh bumper,--for why should we go

While the still reddens our cups as they flow?

Pour out the still bright with the sun,

Till o'er the brimmed crystal the shall run.

half-ripened apples
The their life-dews have bled;

taste sugar of lead
How sweet is the of the !

rank poisons _wines!!!_
For summer's lie hid in the

stable-boys smoking long-nines.
That were garnered by

scowl howl scoff sneer
Then a , and a , and a , and a ,

strychnine and whiskey, and ratsbane and beer!

In cellar, in pantry, in attic, in hall,

Down, down, with the tyrant that masters us all!

The company said I had been shabbily treated, and advised me to charge
the committee double,--which I did. But as I never got my pay, I don't
know that it made much difference. I am a very particular person about
having all I write printed as I write it, I require to see a proof, a
revise, a re-revise, and a double re-revise, or fourth-proof rectified
impression of all my productions, especially verse. Manuscripts are
such puzzles! Why, I was reading some lines near the end of the last
number of this journal, when I came across one beginning

"The _stream_ flashes by,"--

Now as no stream had been mentioned, I was perplexed to know what it
meant. It proved, on inquiry, to be only a misprint for "dream."
Think of it! No wonder so many poets die young.

I have nothing more to report at this time, except two pieces of
advice I gave to the young women at table. One relates to a vulgarism
of language, which I grieve to say is sometimes heard even from female
lips. The other is of more serious purport, and applies to such as
contemplate a change of condition,--matrimony, in fact.

--The woman who "calc'lates" is lost.

--Put not your trust in money, but put your money in trust.


THOMAS CARLYLE is a name which no man of this generation should
pronounce without respect; for it belongs to one of the high-priests
of modern literature, to whom all contemporary minds are indebted, and
by whose intellect and influence a new spiritual cultus has been
established in the realm of letters. It is yet impossible to estimate
either the present value or the remote issues of the work which he has
accomplished. We see that a revolution in all the departments of
thought, feeling, and literary enterprise has been silently achieved
amongst us, but we are yet ignorant of its full bearing, and of the
final goal to which it is hurrying us. One thing, however, is clear
respecting it: that it was not forced in the hot-bed of any possible
fanaticism, but that it grew fairly out of the soil, a genuine product
of the time and its circumstances. It was, indeed, a new manifestation
of the hidden forces and vitalities of what we call Protestantism,--an
assertion by the living soul of its right to be heard once more in a
world which seemed to ignore its existence, and had set up a ghastly
skeleton of dry bones for its oracle and God. It was that necessary
return to health, earnestness, and virtuous endeavor which Kreeshna
speaks of in the Hindoo Geeta: "Whenever vice and corruption have
sapped the foundations of the world, and men have lost their sense of
good and evil, I, Kreeshna, make myself manifest for the restoration
of order, and the establishment of justice, virtue, and piety." And so
this literary revolution, of which we are speaking, brought us from
frivolity to earnestness, from unbelief and all the dire negations
which it engenders, to a sublime faith in human duty and the
providence of God.

We have no room here to trace either the foreign or the native
influences which, operating as antagonism or as inspiration upon the
minds of Coleridge, Carlyle, and others, produced finally these great
and memorable results. It is but justice, however, to recognize
Coleridge as the pioneer of the new era. His fine metaphysical
intellect and grand imagination, nurtured and matured in the German
schools of philosophy and theology, reproduced the speculations of
their great thinkers in a form and coloring which could not fail to be
attractive to all seeking and sincere minds in England. The French
Revolution and the Encyclopedists had already prepared the ground for
the reception of new thought and revelation. Hence Coleridge, as
writer and speaker, drew towards his centre all the young and ardent
men of his time,--and among others, the subject of the present
article. Carlyle, however, does not seem to have profited much by the
spoken discourses of the master; and in his "Life of Sterling" he
gives an exceedingly graphic, cynical, and amusing account of the
oracular meetings at Highgate, where the philosopher sat in his great
easy-chair, surrounded by his disciples and devotees, uttering, amid
floods of unintelligible, mystic eloquence, those radiant thoughts and
startling truths which warrant his claim to genius, if not to
greatness. It is curious to observe how at this early period of
Carlyle's life, when all the talent and learning of England bowed at
these levees before the gigantic speculator and dreamer, he, perhaps
alone, stood aloof from the motley throng of worshippers,--_with_
them, but not _of_ them,--coolly analyzing every sentence
delivered by the oracle, and sufficiently learned in the divine lore
to separate the gold from the dross. What was good and productive he
was ready to recognize and assimilate; leaving the opium pomps and
splendors of the discourse, and all the Oriental imagery with which
the speaker decorated his bathos, to those who could find profit
therein. It is still more curious and sorrowful to see this great
Coleridge, endowed with such high gifts, of so various learning, and
possessing so marvellous and plastic a power over all the forms of
language, forsaking the true for the false inspiration, and relying
upon a vile drug to stimulate his large and lazy intellect into
action. Carlyle seems to have regarded him at this period as a sort of
fallen demigod; and although he sneers, with an almost Mephistophelean
distortion of visage, at the philosopher's half inarticulate drawling
of speech, at his snuffy, nasal utterance of the ever-recurring
"_omnject_" and "_sumnject_" yet gleams of sympathy and
affection, not unmixed with sorrow, appear here and there in what he
says concerning him. And indeed, although the immense fame of
Coleridge is scarcely warranted by his printed performances, he was,
nevertheless, worthy both of affection and homage. For whilst we pity
the weakness and disease of his moral nature, under the influence of
that dark and terribly enchanting weed, we cannot forget either his
personal amiabilities or the great service which he rendered to
letters and to society. Carlyle himself would be the last man to deny
this laurel to the brows of "the poet, the philosopher, and the
divine," as Charles Lamb calls him; and it is certain that the
thinking of Coleridge helped to fashion Carlyle's mind, and not
unlikely that it directed him to a profounder study of German writers
than he had hitherto given to them.

Coleridge had already formed a school both of divinity and
philosophy. He had his disciples, as well as those far-off gazers who
looked upon him with amazement and trembling, not knowing what to make
of the phenomenon, or whether to regard him as friend or foe to the
old dispensation and the established order of things. He had written
books and poems, preached Unitarian sermons, recanted, and preached
philosophy and Church-of-Englandism. To the dazzled eyes of all
ordinary mortals, content to chew the cud of parish sermons, and
swallow, Sunday after Sunday, the articles of common belief, he seemed
an eccentric comet. But a better astronomy recognized him as a fixed
star, for he was unmistakable by that fitting Few whose verdict is
both history and immortality.

But a greater than Coleridge, destined to assume a more commanding
position, and exercise a still wider power over the minds of his age,
arose in Thomas Carlyle. The son of a Scotch farmer, he had in his
youth a hard student's life of it, and many severe struggles to win
the education which is the groundwork of his greatness. His father was
a man of keen penetration, who saw into the heart of things, and
possessed such strong intellect and sterling common sense that the
country people said "he always hit the nail on the head and clinched
it." His mother was a good, pious woman, who loved the Bible, and
Luther's "Table Talk," and Luther,--walking humbly and sincerely
before God, her Heavenly Father. Carlyle was brought up in the
religion of his fathers and his country; and it is easy to see in his
writings how deep a root this solemn and earnest belief had struck
down into his mind and character. He readily confesses how much he
owes to his mother's early teaching, to her beautiful and beneficent
example of goodness and holiness; and he ever speaks of her with
affection and reverence. We once saw him at a friend's house take up a
folio edition of the "Table Talk" alluded to, and turn over the pages
with a gentle and loving hand, reading here and there his mother's
favorite passages,--now speaking of the great historic value of the
book, and again of its more private value, as his mother's constant
companion and solace. It was touching to see this pitiless intellect,
which had bruised and broken the idols of so many faiths, to which
Luther himself was recommended only by his bravery and self-reliance
and the grandeur of his aims,--it was touching, we say, and suggestive
also of many things, to behold the strong, stern man paying homage to
language whose spirit was dead to him, out of pure love for his dear
mother, and veneration also for the great heart in which that spirit
was once alive that fought so grand and terrible a battle. Carlyle
likes to talk of Luther, and, as his "Hero-Worship" shows, loves his
character. A great, fiery, angry gladiator, with something of the
bully in him,--as what controversialist has not, from Luther to
Erasmus, to Milton, to Carlyle himself?--a dread image-breaker,
implacable as Cromwell, but higher and nobler than he, with the
tenderness of a woman in his inmost heart, full of music, and glory,
and spirituality, and power; his speech genuine and idiomatic, not
battles only, but conquests; and all his highest, best, and gentlest
thoughts robed in the divine garments of religion and poetry;--such
was Luther, and as such Carlyle delights to behold him. Are they not

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