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

Part 4 out of 5

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took its way inland; as if they trusted to their general sense of
direction while flying over the water, but on coming to encounter the
dangers of the land, preferred to delegate the responsibility. This
done, all is left to the leader; if he is shot, it is said the whole
flock seem bewildered, and often alight without regard to place or to
their safety. The selection of the leader must therefore be a matter
of deliberation with them; and this, no doubt, was going on in the
flock I saw at Nantasket during their pause at the edge of the
beach. The leader is probably always an old bird. I have noticed
sometimes that his _honking_ is more steady and in a deeper tone,
and that it is answered in a higher key along the line.


For the first time in the history of the English dominion in India,
its power has been shaken from within its own possessions, and by its
own subjects. Whatever attacks have been made upon it heretofore have
been from without, and its career of conquest has been the result to
which they have led. But now no external enemy threatens it, and the
English in India have found themselves suddenly and unexpectedly
engaged in a hand-to-hand struggle with a portion of their subjects,
not so much for dominion as for life. There had been signs and
warnings, indeed, of the coming storm; but the feeling of security in
possession and the confidence of moral strength were so strong, that
the signs had been neglected and the warnings disregarded.

No one in our time has played the part of Cassandra with more
foresight and vehemence than the late Sir Charles Napier. He saw the
quarter in which the storm was gathering, and he affirmed that
it was at hand. In 1850, after a short period of service as
commander-in-chief of the forces in India, he resigned his place,
owing to a difference between himself and the government, and
immediately afterwards prepared a memoir in justification of his
course, accompanied with remarks upon the general administration of
affairs in that country. It was written with all his accustomed
clearness of mind, vigor of expression, and intensity of personal
feeling,--but it was not published until after his death, which took
place in 1853, when it appeared under the editorship of his brother,
Lieutenant-General Sir W.F.P. Napier, with the title of "Defects,
Civil and Military, of the Indian Government." Its interest is
greatly enhanced when read by the light of recent events. It is in
great part occupied with a narrative of the exhibition of a mutinous
spirit which appeared in 1849 in some thirty Sepoy battalions, in
regard to a reduction of their pay, and of the means taken to check
and subdue it. On the third page is a sentence which read now is of
terrible import: "Mutiny with [among?] the Sepoys is the _most_
formidable danger menacing our Indian empire." And a few pages farther
on occurs the following striking passage: "The ablest and most
experienced civil and military servants of the East India Company
consider mutiny as one of the greatest, if not _the_ greatest danger
threatening India,--a danger also that may come unexpectedly, and, if
the first symptoms be not carefully treated, with a power to shake

The anticipated mutiny has now come, its first symptoms were treated
with utter want of judgment, and its power is shaking the whole fabric
of the English rule in India.

One day toward the end of January last, a workman employed in the
magazine at Barrackpore, an important station about seventeen miles
from Calcutta, stopped to ask a Sepoy for some water from his
drinking-vessel. Being refused, because he was of low caste, and his
touch would defile the vessel, he said, with a sneer, "What caste are
you of, who bite pig's grease and cow's fat on your cartridges?"
Practice with the new Enfield rifle had just been introduced, and the
cartridges were greased for use in order not to foul the gun. The
rumor spread among the Sepoys that there was a trick played upon
them,--that this was but a device to pollute them and destroy their
caste, and the first step toward a general and forcible conversion of
the soldiers to Christianity. The groundlessness of the idea upon
which this alarm was founded afforded no hindrance to its ready
reception, nor was the absurdity of the design attributed to the
ruling powers apparent to the obscured and timid intellect of the
Sepoys. The consequences of loss of caste are so feared,--and are in
reality of so trying a nature,--that upon this point the sensitiveness
of the Sepoy is always extreme, and his suspicions are easily
aroused. Their superstitions and religious customs "interfere in many
strange ways with their military duties." "The brave men of the 35th
Native Infantry," says Sir Charles Napier, "lost caste because they
did their duty at Jelalabad; that is, they fought like soldiers, and
ate what could be had to sustain their strength for battle." But they
are under a double rule, of religious and of military discipline,--and
if the two come into conflict, the latter is likely to give way.

The discontent at Barrackpore soon manifested itself in ways not to be
mistaken. There were incendiary fires within the lines. It was
discovered that messengers had been sent to regiments at other
stations, with incitements to insubordination. The officer in command
at Barrackpore, General Hearsay, addressed the troops on parade,
explained to them that the cartridges were not prepared with the
obnoxious materials supposed, and set forth the groundlessness of
their suspicions. The address was well received at first, but had no
permanent effect. The ill-feeling spread to other troops and other
stations. The government seems to have taken no measure of precaution
in view of the impending trouble, and contented itself with
despatching telegraphic messages to the more distant stations, where
the new rifle-practice was being introduced, ordering that the native
troops were "to have no practice ammunition served out to them, but
only to watch the firing of the Europeans." On the 26th of February,
the 19th regiment, then stationed at Berhampore, refused to receive
the cartridges that were served out, and were prevented from open
violence only by the presence of a superior English force. After great
delay, it was determined that this regiment should be disbanded. The
authorities were not even yet alarmed; they were uneasy, but even
their uneasiness does not seem to have been shared by the majority of
the English residents in India. It was not until the 3d of April that
the sentence passed upon the 19th regiment was executed. The affair
was dallied with, and inefficiency and dilatoriness prevailed

But meanwhile the disaffection was spreading. The order for confining
the use of the new cartridges to the Europeans seems to have been
looked upon by the native regiments as a confirmation of their
suspicions with regard to them. The more daring and evil-disposed of
the soldiers stimulated the alarm, and roused the prejudices of their
more timid and unreasoning companions. No general plan of revolt
seems to have been formed, but the materials of discontent were
gradually being concentrated; the inflammable spirits of the Sepoys
were ready to burst into a blaze. Strong and judicious measures,
promptly put into action, might even now have allayed the excitement
and dissipated the danger. But the imbecile commander-in-chief was
enjoying himself and shirking care in the mountains; and Lord Canning
and his advisers at Calcutta seem to have preferred to allow to take
the initiative in their own way. Generally throughout Northern India
the common routine of affairs went on at the different stations, and
the ill-feeling and insubordination among the Sepoys scarcely
disturbed the established quiet and monotony of Anglo-Indian life.
But the storm was rising,--and the following extracts from a letter,
hitherto unpublished, written on the 30th of May, by an officer of
great distinction, and now in high command before Delhi, will show the
manner of its breaking.

"A fortnight ago no community in the world could have been living in
greater security of life and property than ours. Clouds there were
that indicated to thoughtful minds a coming storm, and in the most
dangerous quarter; but the actual outbreak was a matter of an hour,
and has fallen on us like a judgment from Heaven,--sudden,
irresistible as yet, terrible in its effects, and still spreading from
place to place. I dare say you may have observed among the Indian news
of late months, that here and there throughout the country mutinies of
native regiments had been taking place. They had, however, been
isolated cases, and the government thought it did enough to check the
spirit of disaffection by disbanding the corps involved. The failure
of the remedy was, however, complete, and, instead of having to deal
now with mutinies of separate regiments, we stand face to face with a
general mutiny of the Sepoy army of Bengal. To those who have thought
most deeply of the perils of the English empire in India this has
always seemed the monster one. It was thought to have been guarded
against by the strong ties of mercenary interest that bound the army
to the state, and there was, probably, but one class of feelings that
would have been strong enough to have broken these ties,--those,
namely, of religious sympathy or prejudice. The overt ground of the
general mutiny was offence to caste feelings, given by the
introduction into the army of certain cartridges said to have been
prepared with hog's lard and cow's fat. The men must bite off the ends
of these cartridges; so the Mahometans are defiled by the unclean
animal, and the Hindoos by the contact of the dead cow. Of course the
cartridges are _not_ prepared as stated, and they form the mere
handle for designing men to work with. They are, I believe, equally
innocent of lard and fat; but that a general dread of being
Christianized has by some means or other been created is without
doubt, though there is still much that is mysterious in the process by
which it has been instilled into the Sepoy mind, and I question if the
government itself has any accurate information on the subject.

"It was on the 10th of the present month [May] that the outburst of
the mutinous spirit took place in our own neighborhood,--at
Meerut. The immediate cause was the punishment of eighty-five troopers
of the 3d Light Cavalry, who had refused to use the obnoxious
cartridges, and had been sentenced by a native court-martial to ten
years' imprisonment. On Saturday, the 9th, the men were put in irons,
in presence of their comrades, and marched off to jail. On Sunday,
the 10th, just at the time of evening service, the mutiny broke
out. Three regiments left their lines, fell upon every European, man,
woman, or child, they met or could find, murdered them all, burnt half
the houses in the station, and, after working such a night of mischief
and horror as devils might have delighted in, marched off to Delhi
_en masse_, where three other regiments ripe for mutiny were
stationed. On the junction of the two brigades, the horrors of Meerut
were repeated in the imperial city, and every European who could be
found was massacred with revolting barbarity. In fact, the spirit was
that of a servile war. Annihilation of the ruling race was felt to be
the only chance of safety or impunity; so no one of the ruling race
was spared. Many, however, effected their escape, and, after all sorts
of perils and sufferings, succeeded in reaching military stations
containing European troops. * * *

"From the crisis of the mutiny our local anxieties have lessened. The
country round is in utter confusion. Bands of robbers are murdering
and plundering defenceless people. Civil government has practically
ceased from the land. The most loathsome irresolution and incapacity
have been exhibited in some of the highest quarters. A full month will
elapse before the mutineers are checked by any organized resistance.
A force is, or is supposed to be, marching on Delhi; but the outbreak
occurred on the 10th of May, and this day is the first of June, and
Delhi has seen no British colors and heard no British guns as
yet. * * *

"As to the empire, it will be all the stronger after this storm. It is
not five or six thousand mutinous mercenaries, or ten times the
number, that will change the destiny of England in India. Though we
small fragments of the great machine may fall at our posts, there is
that vitality in the English people that--will bound stronger against
misfortunes, and build up the damaged fabric anew."

So far the letter from which we have quoted.--It was not until the 8th
of June that an English force appeared before the walls of Delhi. For
four weeks the mutineers had been left in undisturbed possession of
the city, a possession which was of incalculable advantage to them by
adding to their moral strength the prestige of a name which has always
been associated with the sceptre of Indian empire. The masters of
Delhi are the masters not only of a city, but of a deeply rooted
tradition of supremacy. The delay had told. Almost every day in the
latter half of May was marked by a new mutiny in different military
stations, widely separated from each other, throughout the
North-Western Provinces and Bengal. The tidings of the possession of
Delhi by the mutineers stimulated the daring madness of regiments that
had been touched by disaffection. Some mutinied from mere panic, some
from bitterness of hate. Some fled away quietly with their arms, to
join the force that had now swelled to an army in the city of the
Great Moghul; some repeated the atrocities of Meerut, and set up a
separate standard of revolt, to which all the disaffected and all the
worst characters of the district flocked, to gratify their lust for
revenge of real or fancied wrongs, or their baser passions for plunder
and unmeaning cruelty. The malignity of a subtle, acute,
semi-civilized race, unrestrained by law or by moral feeling, broke
out in its most frightful forms. Cowardice possessed of strength never
wreaked more horrible sufferings upon its victims, and the bloody and
barbarous annals of Indian history show no more bloody and barbarous

The course of English life in those stations where the worst cruelties
and the bitterest sufferings have been inflicted on the unhappy
Europeans has been for a long time so peaceful and undisturbed, it has
gone on for the most part in such pleasant and easy quiet and with
such absolute security, that the agony of sudden alarm and unwarned
violence has added its bitterness to the overwhelming horror. It is
not as in border settlements, where the inhabitants choose their lot
knowing that they are exposed to the incursions of savage
enemies,--but it is as if on a night in one of the most peaceful of
long-settled towns, troops of men, with a sort of civilization that
renders their attack worse than that of savages, should be let loose
to work their worst will of lust and cruelty. The details are too
recent, too horrible, and as yet too broken and irregular, to be
recounted here.

Although, at the first sally of the mutineers from Delhi against the
force that had at length arrived, a considerable advantage was gained
by the Europeans, this advantage was followed up by no decisive
blow. The number of troops was too small to attempt an assault against
an army of thirty thousand men, each man of whom was a trained
soldier. The English force was unprovided with any sufficient siege
battery. It could do little more than encamp, throw up intrenchments
for its own defence, and wait for attacks to be made upon it,--attacks
which it usually repulsed with great loss to the attackers. The month
of June is the hottest month of the year at Delhi; the average height
of the thermometer being 92 deg.. There, in such weather, the force must
sit still, watch the pouring in of reinforcements and supplies to the
city which it was too small to invest, and hear from day to day fresh
tidings of disaster and revolt on every hand,--tidings of evil which
there could scarcely be any hope of checking, until this central point
of the mutiny had fallen before the British arms. A position more
dispiriting can scarcely be imagined; and to all these causes for
despondency were added the incompetency and fatuity of the Indian
government, and the procrastination of the home government in the
forwarding of the necessary reinforcements.

Delhi has been often besieged, but seldom has a siege been laid to it
that at first sight would have appeared more desperate than this. The
city is strong in its artificial defences, and Nature lends her force
to the native troops within the walls. If they could hold out through
the summer, September was likely to be as great a general for them as
the famous two upon whom the Czar relied in the Crimea. A wall of gray
stone, strengthened by the modern science of English engineers, and
nearly seven miles in circumference, surrounds the city upon three
sides, while the fourth is defended by a wide offset of the Jumna, and
by a portion of the high, embattled, red stone wall of the palace,
which almost equals the city wall in strength, and is itself more than
a mile in length. Few cities in the East present a more striking
aspect from without. Over the battlements, of the walls rise the
slender minarets and shining domes of the mosques, the pavilions and
the towers of the gates, the balustraded roofs of the higher and finer
houses, the light foliage of acacias, and the dark crests of tall
date-palms. It is a new city, only two hundred and twenty-six years
old. Shah Jehan, its founder, was fond of splendor in building, was
lavish of expense, and was eager to make his city imperial in
appearance as in name. The great mosque that he built here is the
noblest and most beautiful in all India. His palace might be set in
comparison, with that of Aladdin; it was the fulfilment of an Oriental
voluptuary's dream. All that Eastern taste could devise of beauty,
that Eastern lavishness could fancy of adornment, or voluptuousness
demand of luxury, was brought together and displayed here. But its day
of splendor was not long; and now, instead of furnishing a home to a
court, which, if wicked, was at least magnificent, it is the abode of
demoralized pensioners, who, having lost the reality, retain the pride
and the vices of power. For years it has been utterly given over to
dirt and to decay. Its beautiful halls and chambers, rich with marbles
and mosaics, its "Pearl" _musjid_, its delicious gardens, its
shady summer-houses, its fountains, and all its walks and
pleasure-grounds, are neglected, abused, and occupied by the filthy
retainers of an effete court.

The city stands partly on the sandy border of the river, partly on a
low range of rocks. With its suburbs it may contain about one hundred
and sixty thousand inhabitants, a little more than half of whom are
Hindoos, and the remainder nominally Mahometans, in creed. Around the
wall stretches a wide, barren, irregular plain, covered, mile after
mile, with the ruins of earlier Delhis, and the tombs of the great or
the rich men of the Mahometan dynasty. There is no other such
monumental plain as this in the world. It is as full of traditions and
historic memories as of ruins; and in this respect, as in many others,
Delhi bears a striking resemblance to Rome,--for the Roman Campagna is
the only field which in its crowd of memories may be compared with it,
and the imperial city of India holds in the Mahometan mind much the
same place that Rome occupies in that of the Christian.

Before these pages are printed it is not unlikely that the news of the
fall of Delhi will have reached us. The troops of the besiegers
amounted in the middle of August to about five thousand five hundred
men. Other troops near them, and reinforcements on the way, may by the
end of the month have increased their force to ten thousand. At the
last accounts a siege train was expected to arrive on the 3d of
September, and an assault might be made very shortly afterwards. But
September is an unhealthy month, and there may be delays. _Dehli
door ust_,--"Delhi is far off,"--is a favorite Indian proverb. But
the chances are in favor of its being now in British hands.[1]
With its fall the war will be virtually ended,--for the reconquest of
the disturbed territories will be a matter of little difficulty, when
undertaken with the aid of the twenty thousand English troops who will
arrive in India before the end of the year.

The settlement of the country, after these long disturbances, cannot
be expected to take place at once; civil government has been too much
interrupted to resume immediately its ordinary operation. But as this
great revolt has had in very small degree the character of a popular
rising, and as the vast mass of natives are in general not
discontented with the English rule, order will be reestablished with
comparative rapidity, and the course of life will before many months
resume much of its accustomed aspect.

The struggle of the trained and ambitious classes against the English
power will but have served to confirm it. The revolt overcome, the
last great danger menacing English security in India will have
disappeared. England will have learnt much from the trials she has had
to pass through, and that essential changes will take place within a
few years in the constitution of the Indian government there can be no
doubt. But it is to be remembered that for the past thirty years,
English rule in India has been, with all its defects, an enlightened
and beneficent rule. The crimes with which it has been charged, the
crimes of which it has been guilty, are small in amount, compared with
the good it has effected. Moreover, they are not the result of
inherent vices in the system of government, so much as of the
character of exceptional individuals employed to carry out that
system, and of the native character itself.--But on these points we do
not propose now to enter.

If the close of this revolt be not stained with retaliating cruelties,
if English soldiers remember mercy, then the whole history of this
time will be a proud addition to the annals of England. For though it
will display the incompetency and the folly of her governments, it
will show how these were remedied by the energy and spirit of
individuals; it will tell of the daring and gallantry of her men, of
their patient endurance, of their undaunted courage, and it will tell,
too, with a voice full of tears, of the sorrows, and of the brave and
tender hearts, and of the unshaken religious faith supporting them to
the end, of the women who died in the hands of their enemies. The
names of Havelock and Lawrence will be reckoned in the list of
England's worthies, and the story of the garrison of Cawnpore will be
treasured up forever among England's saddest and most touching

[Footnote 1: It is earnestly to be hoped that the officers in command
of the British force will not yield to the savage suggestions and
incitements of the English press, with regard to the fate of
Delhi. The tone of feeling which has been shown in many quarters in
England has been utterly disgraceful. Indiscriminate cruelty and
brutality are no fitting vengeance for the Hindoo and Mussulman
barbarities. The sack of Delhi and the massacre of its people would
bring the English conquerors down to the level of the conquered. Great
sins cry out for great punishments,--but let the punishment fall on
the guilty, and not involve the innocent. The strength of English rule
in India must be in her justice, in her severity,--but not in the
force and irresistible violence of her passions. To destroy the city
would be to destroy one of the great ornaments of her empire,--to
murder the people would be to commence the new period of her rule with
a revolting crime.

"For five days," says the historian, "Tamerlane remained a tranquil
spectator of the sack and conflagration of Delhi and the massacre of
its inhabitants, while he was celebrating a feast in honor of his
victory. When the troops were wearied with slaughter, and nothing was
left to plunder, he gave orders for the prosecution of his march, and
on the day of his departure he offered up to the Divine Majesty the
sincere and humble tribute of grateful praise."

"It is said that Nadir Shah, during the massacre that he had
commanded, sat in gloomy silence in the little mosque of
Rokn-u-doulah, which stands at the present day in the Great
Bazaar. Here the Emperor and his nobles at length took courage to
present themselves. They stood before him with downcast eyes, until
Nadir commanded them to speak, when the Emperor burst into tears and
entreated Nadir to spare his subjects."]


Of all the rides since the birth of time,
Told in story or sung in rhyme,--
On Apuleius's Golden Ass,
Or one-eyed Calendar's horse of brass,
Witch astride of a human hack,
Islam's prophet on Al-Borak,--
The strangest ride that ever was sped
Was Ireson's out from Marblehead!
Old Floyd Ireson, for his hard heart,
Tarred and feathered and carried in a cart
By the women of Marblehead!

Body of turkey, head of owl,
Wings a-droop like a rained-on fowl,
Feathered and ruffled in every part,
Captain Ireson stood in the cart.
Scores of women, old and young,
Strong of muscle, and glib of tongue,
Pushed and pulled up the rocky lane,
Shouting and singing the shrill refrain:
"Here's Flud Oirson, fur his horrd horrt,
Torr'd an' futherr'd an' corr'd in a corrt
By the women o' Morble'ead!"

Girls in bloom of check and lips,
Wrinkled scolds with hands on hips,
Wild-eyed, free-limbed, such as chase
Bacchus round some antique vase,
Brief of skirt, with ankles bare,
Loose of kerchief and loose of hair,
With conch-shells blowing and fish-horns' twang,
Over and over the Maenads sang:
"Here's Flud Oirson, fur his horrd horrt,
Torr'd an' futherr'd an' corr'd in a corrt
By the women o' Morble'ead!"

Small pity for him!--He sailed away
From a leaking ship in Chaleur Bay,--
Sailed away from a sinking wreck,
With his own town's-people on her deck!
"Lay by! lay by!" they called to him.
Back he answered, "Sink or swim!
Brag of your catch of fish again!"
And off he sailed through the fog and rain!
Old Floyd Ireson, for his hard heart,
Tarred and feathered and carried in a cart
By the women of Marblehead!

Fathoms deep in dark Chaleur
That wreck shall lie forevermore.
Mother and sister, wife and maid,
Looked from the rocks of Marblehead
Over the moaning and rainy sea,
Looked for the coming that might not be!
What did the winds and the sea-birds say
Of the cruel captain who sailed away?--
Old Floyd Ireson, for his hard heart,
Tarred and feathered and carried in a cart
By the women of Marblehead!

Through the street, on either side,
Up flew windows, doors swung wide;
Sharp-tongued spinsters, old wives gray,
Treble lent the fish-horn's bray.
Sea-worn grandsires, cripple-bound,
Hulks of old sailors run aground,
Shook head, and fist, and hat, and cane,
And cracked with curses the hoarse refrain:
"Here's Flud Oirson, fur his horrd horrt,
Torr'd an' futherr'd an corr'd in a corrt
By the women o' Morble'ead!"

Sweetly along the Salem road
Bloom of orchard and lilac showed.
Little the wicked skipper knew
Of the fields so green and the sky so blue.
Riding there in his sorry trim,
Like an Indian idol glum and grim,
Scarcely he seemed the sound to hear
Of voices shouting far and near:
"Here's Flud Oirson, fur his horrd horrt,
Torr'd an' futherr'd an' corr'd in a corrt
By the women o' Morble'ead!"

"Hear me, neighbors!" at last he cried,--
"What to me is this noisy ride?
What is the shame that clothes the skin,
To the nameless horror that lives within?
Waking or sleeping, I see a wreck
And hear a cry from a reeling deck!
Hate me and curse me,--I only dread
The hand of God and the face of the dead!"
Said old Floyd Ireson, for his hard heart,
Tarred and feathered and carried in a cart
By the women of Marblehead!

Then the wife of the skipper lost at sea
Said, "God has touched him!--why should we?"
Said an old wife mourning her only son,
"Cut the rogue's tether and let him run!"
So with soft relentings and rude excuse,
Half scorn, half pity, they cut him loose,
And gave him cloak to hide him in,
And left him alone with his shame and sin.
Poor Floyd Ireson, for his hard heart,
Tarred and feathered and carried in a cart
By the women of Marblehead!


I fell in with a humorist, on my travels, who had in his chamber a
cast of the Rondanini Medusa, and who assured me that the name which
that fine work of art bore in the catalogues was a misnomer, as he was
convinced that the sculptor who carved it intended it for Memory, the
mother of the Muses. In the conversation that followed, my new friend
made some extraordinary confessions. "Do you not see," he said, "the
penalty of learning, and that each of these scholars whom you have met
at S., though he were to be the last man, would, like the executioner
in Hood's poem, guillotine the last but one?" He added many lively
remarks, but his evident earnestness engaged my attention, and, in the
weeks that followed, we became better acquainted. He had great
abilities, a genial temper, and no vices; but he had one defect,--he
could not speak in the tone of the people. There was some paralysis on
his will, that, when he met men on common terms, he spoke weakly, and
from the point, like a flighty girl. His consciousness of the fault
made it worse. He envied every daysman and drover in the tavern their
manly speech. He coveted Mirabeau's _don terrible de la
familiarite_, believing that he whose sympathy goes lowest is the
man from whom kings have the most to fear. For himself, he declared
that he could not get enough alone to write a letter to a friend. He
left the city; he hid himself in pastures. The solitary river was not
solitary enough; the sun and moon put him out. When he bought a house,
the first thing he did was to plant trees. He could not enough conceal
himself. Set a hedge here; set oaks there,--trees behind trees; above
all, set evergreens, for they will keep a secret all the year
round. The most agreeable compliment you could pay him was, to say
that you had not observed him in a house or a street where you had met
him. Whilst he suffered at being seen where he was, he consoled
himself with the delicious thought of the inconceivable number of
places where he was not. All he wished of his tailor was, to provide
that sober mean of color and cut which would never detain the eye for
a moment. He went to Vienna, to Smyrna, to London. In all the variety
of costumes, a carnival, a kaleidoscope of clothes, to his horror he
could never discover a man in the street who wore anything like his
own dress. He would have given his soul for the ring of Gyges. His
dismay at his visibility had blunted the fears of mortality. "Do you
think," he said, "I am in such great terror of being shot,--I, who am
only waiting to shuffle off my corporeal jacket, to slip away into the
back stars, and put diameters of the solar system and sidereal orbits
between me and all souls,--there to wear out ages in solitude, and
forget memory itself, if it be possible?" He had a remorse running to
despair of his social _gaucheries_, and walked miles and miles to
get the twitchings out of his face, the starts and shrugs out of his
arms and shoulders. "God may forgive sins," he said, "but awkwardness
has no forgiveness in heaven or earth." He admired in Newton, not so
much his theory of the moon, as his letter to Collins, in which he
forbade him to insert his name with the solution of the problem in the
"Philosophical Transactions": "It would perhaps increase my
acquaintance, the thing which I chiefly study to decline."

These conversations led me somewhat later to the knowledge of similar
cases, existing elsewhere, and to the discovery that they are not of
very infrequent occurrence. Few substances are found pure in
nature. Those constitutions which can bear in open day the rough
dealing of the world must be of that mean and average structure,--such
as iron and salt, atmospheric air, and water. But there are metals,
like potassium and sodium, which, to be kept pure, must be kept under
naphtha. Such are the talents determined on some specialty, which a
culminating civilization fosters in the heart of great cities and in
royal chambers. Nature protects her own work. To the culture of the
world, an Archimedes, a Newton is indispensable; so she guards them by
a certain aridity. If these had been good fellows, fond of dancing,
Port, and clubs, we should have had no "Theory of the Sphere," and no
"Principia." They had that necessity of isolation which genius
feels. Each must stand on his glass tripod, if he would keep his
electricity. Even Swedenborg, whose theory of the universe is based on
affection, and who reprobates to weariness the danger and vice of pure
intellect, is constrained to make an extraordinary exception: "There
are also angels who do not live consociated, but separate, house and
house; these dwell in the midst of heaven, because they are the best
of angels."

We have known many fine geniuses have that imperfection that they
cannot do anything useful, not so much as write one clean
sentence. 'Tis worse, and tragic, that no man is fit for society who
has fine traits. At a distance, he is admired; but bring him hand to
hand, he is a cripple. One protects himself by solitude, and one by
courtesy, and one by an acid, worldly manner,--each concealing how he
can the thinness of his skin and his incapacity for strict
association. But there is no remedy that can reach the heart of the
disease, but either habits of self-reliance that should go in practice
to making the man independent of the human race, or else a religion of
love. Now he hardly seems entitled to marry; for how can he protect a
woman, who cannot protect himself?

We pray to be conventional. But the wary Heaven takes care you shall
not be, if there is anything good in you. Dante was very bad company,
and was never invited to dinner. Michel Angelo had a sad, sour time of
it. The ministers of beauty are rarely beautiful in coaches and
saloons. Columbus discovered no isle or key so lonely as himself. Yet
each of these potentates saw well the reason of his exclusion.
Solitary was he? Why, yes; but his society was limited only
by the amount of brain Nature appropriated in that age to carry on the
government of the world. "If I stay," said Dante, when there was
question of going to Rome, "who will go? and if I go, who will stay?"

But the necessity of solitude is deeper than we have said, and is
organic. I have seen many a philosopher whose world is large enough
for only one person. He affects to be a good companion; but we are
still surprising his secret, that he means and needs to impose his
system on all the rest. The determination of each is _from_ all
the others, like that of each tree up into free space. 'Tis no wonder,
when each has his whole head, our societies should be so small. Like
President Tyler, our party falls from us every day, and we must ride
in a sulky at last. Dear heart! take it sadly home to thee, there is
no cooeperation. We begin with friendships, and all our youth is a
reconnoitring and recruiting of the holy fraternity that shall combine
for the salvation of men. But so the remoter stars seem a nebula of
united light, yet there is no group which a telescope will not
resolve, and the dearest friends are separated by impassable
gulfs. The cooeperation is involuntary, and is put upon us by the
Genius of Life, who reserves this as a part of his prerogative. 'Tis
fine for us to talk: we sit and muse, and are serene, and complete;
but the moment we meet with anybody, each becomes a fraction.

Though the stuff of tragedy and of romances is in a moral union of two
superior persons, whose confidence in each other for long years, out
of sight, and in sight, and against all appearances, is at last
justified by victorious proof of probity to gods and men, causing
joyful emotions, tears, and glory,--though there be for heroes this
_moral union_, yet they, too, are as far off as ever from an
intellectual union, and the moral union is for comparatively low and
external purposes, like the cooeperation of a ship's company, or of a
fire-club. But how insular and pathetically solitary are all the
people we know! Nor dare they tell what they think of each other, when
they meet in the street. We have a fine right, to be sure, to taunt
men of the world with superficial and treacherous courtesies!

Such is the tragic necessity which strict science finds underneath our
domestic and neighborly life, irresistibly driving each adult soul as
with whips into the desert, and making our warm covenants sentimental
and momentary. We must infer that the ends of thought were
peremptory, if they were to be secured at such ruinous cost. They are
deeper than can be told, and belong to the immensities and
eternities. They reach down to that depth where society itself
originates and disappears,--where the question is, Which is first, man
or men?--where the individual is lost in his source.

But this banishment to the rocks and echoes no metaphysics can make
right or tolerable. This result is so against nature, such a
half-view, that it must be corrected by a common sense and
experience. "A man is born by the side of his father, and there he
remains." A man must be clothed with society, or we shall feel a
certain bareness and poverty, as of a displaced and unfurnished
member. He is to be dressed in arts and institutions, as well as
body-garments. Now and then a man exquisitely made can live alone,
and must but coop up most men, and you undo them. "The king lived and
ate in his hall with men, and understood men," said Selden. When a
young barrister said to the late Mr. Mason, "I keep my chamber to read
law." "Read law!" replied the veteran, "'tis in the courtroom you
must read law." Nor is the rule otherwise for literature. If you would
learn to write, 'tis in the street you must learn it. Both for the
vehicle and for the aims of fine arts, you must frequent the public
square. The people, and not the college, is the writer's home. A
scholar is a candle, which the love and desire of all men will
light. Never his lands or his rents, but the power to charm the
disguised soul that sits veiled under this bearded and that rosy
visage is his rent and ration. His products are as needful as those of
the baker or the weaver. Society cannot do without cultivated men. As
soon as the first wants are satisfied, the higher wants become

'Tis hard to mesmerize ourselves, to whip our own top; but through
sympathy we are capable of energy and endurance. Concert exasperates
people to a certain fury of performance they can rarely reach
alone. Here is the use of society: it is so easy with the great to be
great! so easy to come up to an existing standard!--as easy as it is
to the lover to swim to his maiden, through waves so grim before. The
benefits of affection are immense; and the one event which never loses
its romance is the alighting of superior persons at our gate.

It by no means follows that we are not fit for society, because
_soirees_ are tedious, and because the _soiree_ finds us
tedious. A backwoodsman, who had been sent to the university, told
me, that when he heard the best-bred young men at the law-school talk
together, he reckoned himself a boor; but whenever he caught them
apart, and had one to himself alone, then they were the boors, and he
the better man. And if we recall the rare hours when we encountered
the best persons, we then found ourselves, and then first society
seemed to exist. That was society, though in the transom of a brig,
or on the Florida Keys.

A cold, sluggish blood thinks it has not facts enough to the purpose,
and must decline its turn in the conversation. But they who speak have
no more,--have less. 'Tis not new facts that avail, but the heat to
dissolve everybody's facts. Heat puts you in right relation with
magazines of facts. The capital defect of cold, arid natures is the
want of animal spirits. They seem a power incredible, as if God
should raise the dead. The recluse witnesses what others perform by
their aid with a kind of fear. It is as much out of his possibility,
as the prowess of Coeur-de-Lion, or an Irishman's day's work on the
railroad. 'Tis said, the present and the future are always
rivals. Animal spirits constitute the power of the present, and their
feats are like the structure of a pyramid. Their result is a lord, a
general, or a boon-companion. Before these, what a base mendicant is
Memory with his leathern badge! But this genial heat is latent in all
constitutions, and is disengaged only by the friction of society. As
Bacon said of manners, "To obtain them, it only needs not to despise
them," so we say of animal spirits, that they are the spontaneous
product of health and of a social habit. "For behavior, men learn it,
as they take diseases, one of another."

But the people are to be taken in very small doses. If solitude is
proud, so is society vulgar. In society, high advantages are set down
to the individual as disadvantages. We sink as easily as we rise,
through sympathy. So many men whom I know are degraded by their
sympathies, their native aims being high enough, but their relation
all too tender to the gross people about them. Men cannot afford to
live together on their merits, and they adjust themselves by their
demerits,--by their love of gossip, or sheer tolerance and animal
good-nature. They untune and dissipate the brave aspirant.

The remedy is, to reinforce each of these moods from the
other. Conversation will not corrupt us, if we come to the assembly in
our own garb and speech, and with the energy of health to select what
is ours and reject what is not. Society we must have; but let it be
society, and not exchanging news, or eating from the same dish. Is it
society to sit in one of your chairs? I cannot go to the houses of my
nearest relatives, because I do not wish to be alone. Society exists
by chemical affinity, and not otherwise.

Put any company of people together with freedom for conversation, and
a rapid self-distribution takes place into sets and pairs. The best
are accused of exclusiveness. It would be more true to say, they
separate as oil from water, as children from old people, without love
or hatred in the matter, each seeking his like; and any interference
with the affinities would produce constraint and suffocation. All
conversation is a magnetic experiment. I know that my friend can talk
eloquently; you know that he cannot articulate a sentence: we have
seen him in different company. Assort your party, or invite none. Put
Stubbs and Byron, Quintilian and Aunt Miriam, into pairs, and you make
them all wretched. 'Tis an extempore Sing-Sing built in a
parlor. Leave them to seek their own mates, and they will be as merry
as sparrows.

A higher civility will reestablish in our customs a certain reverence
which we have lost. What to do with these brisk young men who break
through all fences, and make themselves at home in every house? I find
out in an instant if my companion does not want me, and ropes cannot
hold me when my welcome is gone. One would think that the affinities
would pronounce themselves with a surer reciprocity.

Here again, as so often, Nature delights to put us between extreme
antagonisms, and our safety is in the skill with which we keep the
diagonal line. Solitude is impracticable, and society fatal. We must
keep our head in the one, and our hands in the other. The conditions
are met, if we keep our independence, yet do not lose our
sympathy. These wonderful horses need to be driven by fine hands. We
require such a solitude as shall hold us to its revelations when we
are in the street and in palaces; for most men are cowed in society,
and say good things to you in private, but will not stand to them in
public. But let us not be the victims of words. Society and solitude
are deceptive names. It is not the circumstance of seeing more or
fewer people, but the readiness of sympathy, that imports; and a sound
mind will derive its principles from insight, with ever a purer ascent
to the sufficient and absolute right, and will accept society as the
natural element in which they are to be applied.




When little Helen was not far from nine years old, her mother, (as she
had learned to call Mrs. Bugbee,) whose health for a long time had
been failing, fell sick and took to her bed. Sometimes, for a brief
space, she would seem to mend a little; and a council of doctors,
convened to consider her case,--though each member differed from all
the others touching the nature of her malady,--unanimously declared
she would ultimately recover. But her disease, whatever it was, proved
to be her mortal illness; for the very next night she came suddenly to
her end. Her loss was a heavy one, especially to her own household.
She had always been a quiet person, of rather pensive humor, whose
native diffidence caused her to shrink from observation; and after
Amelia's death she was rarely seen abroad, except at meeting, on
Sundays, or when she went to visit the poor, the sick, or the
grief-stricken. It was at home that her worth was most apparent;
for plain domestic virtues, such as hers, seldom gain wide
distinction. Her children's sorrow was deep and lasting, and the badge
of mourning which her husband wore for many months after her death was
a truthful symbol of unaffected grief. From the beginning, he was
warmly attached to his wife, whose affection for him was very great
indeed. It would have been strange if he had been unhappy, when she,
who made his tastes her study, also made it the business of her life
to please him. Besides, his cheerful temper enabled him to make light
of more grievous misfortunes than the getting of a loving wife and
thrifty helpmeet ten years older than himself.

When a widower, like the Doctor, is but fifty, with the look of a much
younger man, people are apt to talk about the chances of his marrying
again. Before Mrs. Bugbee had been dead a twelve-month, rumors were as
plenty as blackberries that the Doctor had been seen, late on Sunday
evenings, leaving this house, or that house, the dwelling-place of
some marriageable lady; and if he had finally espoused all whom the
gossips reported he was going to marry, he would have had as many
wives as any Turkish pasha or Mormon elder. It was doubtless true that
he called at certain places more frequently than had been his custom
in Mrs. Bugbee's lifetime. This, he assured Cornelia, to whom the
reports I have mentioned occasioned some uneasiness, was because he
was more often summoned to attend, in a professional way, at those
places, than he had ever been of old; which was true enough, I dare
say, for more spinsters and widows were taken ailing about this time
than had ever been ill at once before. Be that as it may, certain
arrangements which the Doctor presently made in his domestic affairs
did not seem to foretoken an immediate change of condition.

Miss Statira Blake, whom the Doctor engaged as housekeeper, was the
youngest daughter of an honest shoemaker, who formerly flourished at
Belfield Green, where he was noted for industry, a fondness for
reading, a tenacious memory, a ready wit, and a fluent tongue. In
politics he was a radical, and in religion a schismatic. The little
knot of Presbyterian Federalist magnates, who used to assemble at the
tavern to discuss affairs of church and state over mugs of flip and
tumblers of sling, regarded him with feelings of terror and
aversion. The doughty little cobbler made nothing of attacking them
single-handed, and putting them utterly to rout; for he was a dabster
at debate, and entertained as strong a liking for polemics as for
books. Nay, he was a thorn in the side of the parson himself, for
whom he used to lie in wait with knotty questions,--snares set to
entrap the worthy divine, in the hope of beguiling him into a
controversy respecting some abstruse point of doctrine, in which the
cobbler, who had every verse of the Bible at his tongue's end, was not
apt to come off second best.

But one day, Tommy Blake, being at a raising where plenty of liquor
was furnished, (as the fashion used to be,) slipped and fell from a
high beam, and was carried home groaning with a skinful of broken
bones. He died the next day, poor man, and his bedridden widow
survived the shock of witnessing his dreadful agonies and death but a
very little while. Her daughters, two young girls, were left destitute
and friendless. But Major Bugbee, to whom the cobbler's wife had been
remotely akin, and who was at that time first selectman of the town,
took the orphans with him to his house, where they tarried till he
found good places for them. Roxana, the elder girl, went to live with
a reputable farmer's wife, whose only son she afterwards
married. Statira remained under the shelter of the good Major's
hospitable roof much longer than her sister did, and would have been
welcome to stay, but she was not one of those who like to eat the
bread of dependence. With the approval of the selectmen, she bound
herself an indentured apprentice to Billy Tuthill, the little lame
tailor, for whom she worked faithfully four years, until she had
served out her time and was mistress of her trade, even to the
recondite mystery of cutting a double-breasted swallow-tail coat by
rule and measure. Then, at eighteen, she set up business for herself,
going from house to house as her customers required, working by the
day. Her services were speedily in great demand, and she was never out
of employment. Many a worthy citizen of Belfield well remembers his
first jacket-and-trowsers, the handiwork of Tira Blake. The Sunday
breeches of half the farmers who came to meeting used to be the
product of her skilful labor. Thus for many years (refusing meanwhile
several good offers of marriage) she continued to ply her needle and
shears, working steadily and cheerfully in her vocation, earning good
wages and spending but little, until the thrifty sempstress was
counted well to do, and held in esteem according. Sometimes, when she
got weary, and thought a change of labor would do her good, she would
engage with some lucky dame to help do housework for a month or
two. She was a famous hand at pickling, preserving, and making all
manner of toothsome knick-knacks and dainties. Nor was she deficient
in the pleasure walks of the culinary art. Betsey Pratt, the
tavernkeeper's wife, a special crony of Statira's, used always to send
for her whenever she was in straits, or when, on some grand occasion,
a dinner or supper was to be prepared and served up in more than
ordinary style. So learned was she in all the devices of the pantry
and kitchen, that many a young woman in the parish would have given
half her setting-out, and her whole store of printed cookery-books, to
know by heart Tira Blake's unwritten lore of rules and recipes. So,
wherever she went, she was welcome, albeit not a few stood in fear of
her; for though, when well treated, she was as good-humored as a
kitten, when provoked, especially by a slight or affront, her wrath
was dangerous. Her tongue was sharper than her needle, and her
pickles were not more piquant than her sarcastic wit. Tira, the older
people used to remark, was Tommy Blake's own daughter; and truly, she
did inherit many of her father's qualities, both good and bad, and not
a few of his crotchets and opinions. In fine, she was a shrewd,
sensible, Yankee old maid, who, as she herself was wont to say, was as
well able to take care of 'number one' as e'er a man in town.

Statira never forgot Major Bugbee's kindness to her in her lonely
orphanhood. She preserved for him and for every member of his family
a grateful affection; but her special favorite was James, the Doctor's
brother, who was a little younger than she, and who repaid this
partiality with hearty good-will and esteem. When he grew up and
married, his house became one of Statira's homes; the other being at
her sister's house, which was too remote from Belfield Green to be at
all times convenient. So she had rooms, which she called alike her
own, at both these places, in each of which she kept a part of her
wardrobe and a portion of her other goods and chattels. The children
of both families called her Aunt Statira, but, if the truth were
known, she loved little Frank Bugbee, James's only son, better than
she did the whole brood of her sister Roxy's flaxen-pated
offspring. Nay, she loved him better than all the world besides.
Statira used to call James her right-hand man, asking for his advice
in every matter of importance, and usually acting in accordance with
it. So, when Doctor Bugbee invited her to take charge of his household
affairs, Cornelia joining in the request with earnest importunity, she
did not at once return a favorable reply, though strongly inclined
thereto, but waited until she had consulted James and his wife, who
advised her to accept the proffered trust, giving many sound and
excellent reasons why she ought to do so.

Accordingly, a few months after Mrs. Bugbee's death, Statira began to
sway the sceptre where she had once found refuge from the poor-house;
for though Cornelia remained the titular mistress of the mansion,
Statira was the actual ruler, invested with all the real power.
Cornelia gladly resigned into her more experienced hands the reins of
government, and betook herself to occupations more congenial to her
tastes than housekeeping. Whenever, afterwards, she made a languid
offer to perform some light domestic duty, Statira was accustomed to
reply in such wise that the most perfect concord was maintained
between them. "No, my dear," the latter would say, "do you just leave
these things to me. If there a'n't help enough in the house to do the
work, your pa'll get 'em; and as for overseein', one's better than
two." But sometimes, when little Helen proffered her assistance, Tira
let the child try her hand, taking great pains to instruct her in
housewifery, warmly praising her successful essays, and finding
excuses for every failure. It was not long before a cordial friendship
subsisted between the teacher and her pupil.

The Doctor, of course, experienced great contentment at beholding his
children made happy, his house well kept and ordered, his table spread
with plentiful supplies of savory victuals, and all his domestic
concerns managed with sagacity and prudence, by one upon whose
goodwill and ability to promote his welfare he could rely with
implicit confidence. Even the servants shared in the general
satisfaction; for though, under Tira's vigorous rule, no task or duty
could be safely shunned or slighted, she proved a kind and even an
indulgent mistress to those who showed themselves worthy of her
favor. Old Violet, the mother of Dinah, the little black girl
elsewhere mentioned, yielded at once to Tira Blake the same respectful
obedience that she and her ancestors, for more than a century in due
succession, had been wont to render only to dames of the ancient
Bugbee line. Dinah herself, now a well-grown damsel, black, but
comely, who, during Cornelia's maladministration, had been suffered to
follow too much the devices and desires of her own heart, setting at
naught alike the entreaties and reproofs of her mistress and her
mother's angry scoldings,--even Dinah submitted without a murmur to
Tira's wholesome authority, and abandoned all her evil courses.
Bildad Royce, a crotchety hired-man, whom the Doctor kept to do the
chores and till the garden, albeit at first inclined to be captious,
accorded to the new housekeeper the meed of his approbation.

"I like her well enough to hope she'll stay, mum," quoth he, in reply
to an inquisitive neighbor. "And for my part, Miss Prouty," he added,
nodding and winking at his questioner, "I'd like to see it fixed so
she'd alwus stay; and if the Doctor _doos_ think he can't do no
better'n to have her bimeby, when the time comes, who's a right to say
a word agin it?"

"Goodness me!" exclaimed the unwary Mrs. Prouty,--"do you mean to say
you think he's got any idea of such a thing, Bildad?"

"Yes, I _don't_ mean to say I think he's got any idee of sich a thing,
Bildad," replied Bildad himself, who took great delight in mystifying
people, and who sometimes, in order to express the most unqualified
negation, was accustomed to employ this apparently ambiguous form of
speech. "I said for _my_ part, Miss Prouty,--for _my_ part. As for the
Doctor, he'll prob'bly have his own notions, and foller 'em."

Besides these already mentioned, there was another person, who sat so
often at the Doctor's board and spent so many hours beneath his roof,
that, for the nonce, I shall reckon her among his family. Indeed,
Laura Stebbins was almost as much at home in the Bugbee mansion as at
the parsonage, and she used to regard the Doctor and his wife with an
affection quite filial in kind and very ardent in degree. For this she
had abundant reason, the good couple always treating her with the
utmost kindness, frequently making her presents of clothes and things
which she needed, besides gifts of less use and value. These tokens of
her friends' good-will she used to receive with many sprightly
demonstrations of thankfulness; sometimes, in her transports of
gratitude, distributing between the Doctor and his wife a number of
delicious kisses, and telling the latter that her husband was the best
and most generous of men. After Mrs. Bugbee's death, the Doctor's
manner, as was to be expected, became more grave and sober, and he
very wisely thought proper to treat Laura with a kindness less
familiar than before, which perceiving with the quickness of her sex,
she also practised a like reserve. But notwithstanding this prudent
change in his demeanor, his good-will for Laura was in no wise
abated. At all events, the friendship between Cornelia and Laura
suffered no decay or diminution. Indeed, it in creased in fervency and
strength. For Laura, having finished her course of study at the
Belfield Academy, had now more time to devote to Cornelia than when
she had had lessons to get and recitations to attend. The parsonage
stood next to the Bugbee mansion, and in the paling between the two
gardens there was a wicket, through which Cornelia, Laura, and Helen
used to run to and fro a dozen times a day. The females of the
Doctor's family made nothing of scudding, bareheaded, across to the
parsonage by this convenient back-way, and bolting into the kitchen
without so much as knocking at the door; and Laura's habits at the
Bugbee mansion were still more familiar. Mrs. Jaynes, though not the
most affable of womankind, gave this close intimacy much favor and
encouragement; for she bore in mind that Cornelia's father was the
richest and most influential member of her husband's church and

At first, Laura was a little shy of the plain-spoken old maid, for
whose person, manners, and opinions she had often heard Mrs. Jaynes
express, in private, a most bitter dislike. But Statira had been
regnant in the Bugbee mansion less than a week, when Laura began to
make timid advances towards a mutual good understanding, of which for
a while Statira affected to take no heed; for having formed a
resolution to maintain a strict reserve towards every inmate of the
parsonage, she was not disposed to break it so soon, even in favor of
Laura, whose winsome overtures she found it difficult to resist.

"If it wa'n't for her bein' Miss Jaynes's sister," said she, one day,
to Cornelia, who had been praising her friend,--"if it wa'n't for that
one thing, I should like her remarkable well,--a good deal more'n

"Pray, what have you got such a spite against the Jayneses for?" asked

"What do you mean by askin' such a question as that, Cornele?" said
Tira, in a tone of stern reproof. "Who's got a spite against 'em? Not
I, by a good deal! As for the parson himself, he's a well-meanin' man,
and does as near right as he knows how. If you could say as much as
that for everybody, there wouldn't be any need of parsons any more."

"But you don't like Mrs. Jaynes," persisted Cornelia.

"I ha'n't got a spite against her, Cornele,--though, I confess, I
don't love the woman," replied Statira. "But I always treat her well;
though, to be sure, I don't curchy so low and keep smilin' so much as
most folks do, when they meet a minister's wife and have talk with
her. Even when she comes here a-borrowin' things she knows will be
giv' to her when she asks for 'em, which makes it so near to beggin'
that she ought to be ashamed on't, which I only give to her because
it's your father's wish for me to do so, and the things are his'n; but
I always treat her well, Cornele."

"But why don't you like her, Tira?" asked Helen.

"My dear, I'll tell you," said Statira; "for I don't want you to think
I'm set against any person unreasonable and without cause. You see
Miss Jaynes is a nateral-born beggar. I don't say it with any
ill-will, but it's a fact. She takes to beggin' as naterally as a
goslin' takes to a puddle; and when she first come to town she
commenced a-beggin', and has kep' it up ever since. She used to tackle
me the same as she does everybody else, askin' me to give somethin' to
this, and to that, and to t'other pet humbug of her'n, but I never
would do it; and when she found she could'nt worry me into it, like
the rest of 'em, it set her very bitter against me; and I heard of her
tellin' I'd treated her with rudeness, which I'd always treated her
civilly, only when I said 'No,' she found coaxin' and palaverin'
wouldn't stir me. So it went on for a year or two, till, one fall, I
was stayin' here to your ma's,--Cornele, I guess you remember the
time,--helpin' of her make up her quinces and apples. We was jest in
the midst of bilin' cider, with one biler on the stove and the biggest
brass kittle full in the fireplace, when in comes boltin' Miss Jaynes,
dressed up as fine as a fiddle. She set right down in the kitchen, and
your ma rolled her sleeves down and took off her apurn, lookin' kind
o' het and worried. After a few words, Miss Jaynes took a paper out
of her pocket, and says she to your ma, 'Miss Bugbee,' says she, 'I'm
a just startin' forth on the Lord's business, and I come to you as the
helpmate and pardner of one of his richest stewards in this
vineyard.'--'What is it now?' says your ma, lookin' out of one eye at
the brass kittle, and speakin' more impatient than I ever heard her
speak to a minister's wife before. Well, I can't spend time to tell
all that Miss Jaynes said in answer, but it seemed some of the big
folks in New York had started a new society, and its object was to
provide, as near as ever I could find out, such kind of necessary
notions for indigent young men studyin' to be ministers as they
couldn't well afford to buy for themselves,--such as steel-bowed specs
for the near-sighted ones, and white cravats, black silk gloves, and
linen-cambric handkerchiefs for 'em all,--in order, as Miss Jaynes
said, these young fellers might keep up a respectable appearance, and
not give a chance for the world's people to get a contemptible idee of
the ministry, on account of the shabby looks of the young men that had
laid out to foller that holy callin'. She said it was a cause that
ought to lay near the heart of every evangelical Christian man, and
especially the women, 'We mothers in Israel,' says Miss Jaynes, 'ought
to feel for these young Davids that have gone forth to give battle to
the Goliaths of sin that are a-stalkin' and struttin' round all over
the land.' She said the society was goin' to be a great institution,
with an office to New York, with an executive committee and three
secretaries in attendance there, and was a-goin' to employ a great
number of clergymen, out of a parish, to travel as agents collecting
funds; 'but,' says she,' I've a better tack for collectin' than most
people, and I've concluded to canvass this town myself for donations
to this noble and worthy cause; and I've come to you, Miss Bugbee,'
says she, 'to lead off with your accustomed liberality.'--Well, what
does your ma do, but go into her room, to her draw, I suppose, and
fetch out a five-dollar bill, and give it to Miss Jaynes, which I'd
'a' had to work a week, stitchin' from mornin' to night, to have earnt
that five-dollar bill; though, of course, your ma had a right to burn
it up, if she'd 'a' been a mind to; only it made me ache to see it go
so, when there was thousands of poor starvin' ragged orphans needin'
it so bad. All to once Miss Jaynes wheeled and spoke to me: 'Well,
Miss Tira,' says she, 'can I have a dollar from you?'--'No, ma'am,'
says I.--'I supposed not,' says she; which would have been sassy in
anybody but the parson's wife. But I held my tongue, and out she went,
takin' no more notice of me than she did of Vi'let, nor half so
much,--for I see her kind o' look towards the old woman, as if she was
half a mind to ask her for a fourpence-ha'penny. Well, that was the
last on't for a spell, until after New Year's. I was stayin' then at
your Uncle James's, and one afternoon your ma sent for your Aunt
Eunice and me to come over and take tea. So we went over, and there
was several of the neighbors invited in,--Squire Bramhall's wife, and
them your ma used to go with most, and amongst the rest, of course,
Miss Jaynes. There had just before that been a donation party, New
Year's night, to the parson's, and the Dorcas Society had bought Miss
Jaynes a nice new Brussels carpet for her parlor, all cut and fitted
and made up. In the course of the afternoon Miss Bramhall spoke and
asked if the new carpet was put down, and if it fitted well. 'Oh,
beautiful!' says she, 'it fits the room like a glove; somebody must
have had pretty good eyes to took the measure so correct, and I not
know anything what was a-comin'; and I hope,' says she, 'ladies,
you'll take an early opportunity to drop in and see it; for there
a'n't one of you but what I'm under obligation to for this touchin'
token of your love,' (that's what she called it,)--'except,' says she,
of a sudden, 'except Miss Blake, whom, really, I hadn't noticed
before!'--I tell ye, Cornele, my ebenezer was up at this; for you
can't tell how mean and spiteful she spoke and looked, pretendin' as
if I was so insignificant a critter she hadn't taken notice of my
bein' there before, which, to be sure, she hadn't even bid me good
afternoon; and for my part, I hadn't put myself forward among such
women as was there, though I didn't feel beneath 'em, nor they didn't
think so, except Miss Jaynes.--Then she went on. 'Miss Blake,' says
she, 'I believe didn't mean no slight for not helpin' towards the
carpet; for she never gives to anything, as I know of,' says
she. 'I've often asked her for various objects, and have been as often
refused. The last time,' says she, 'I did expect to get somethin'; for
I asked only for a dollar to that noble society for providin' young
men, a-strugglin' to prepare themselves for usefulness in the
ministry, with some of the common necessaries of life, but she refused
me. I expect,' says she, a-sneerin' in such a way that I couldn't
stand it any longer, 'I expect Miss Blake is a-savin' all her money to
buy her settin'-out and furniture with; for I suppose,' says she,
lookin' more spiteful than ever, 'I suppose Miss Blake thinks that as
long as there's life there's hope for a husband.'--I happen to know
what all the ladies thought of this speech, for every one of 'em
afterwards told me; but, if you'll believe me, one or two of the
youngest of 'em kind of pretended to smile at the joke on't, when Miss
Jaynes looked round as if she expected 'em to laugh; for she thought,
I suppose, I was really and truly no account, bein' a cobbler's
daughter and a tailoress,--and that when the minister's wife insulted
me, I dars'n't reply, and all hands would stand by and applaud. But
she found out her mistake, and she begun to think so, when she see how
grave your ma and all the rest of the older ladies looked, for they
knew what was comin'. I'd bit my lips up till now, and held in out of
respect to the place and the company, but I thought it was due to
myself to speak at last. Says I, 'Miss Jaynes, I've always treated you
with civility and the respect due to your place; though I own I ha'n't
felt free to give my hard-earned wages away to objects I didn't know
much about, when, with my limited means, I could find places to bestow
what little I could spare without huntin' 'em up. I don't mean to
boast,' says I, 'of my benevolence, and I don't have gilt-framed
diplomas hung up in my room to certify to it, to be seen and read of
all men, as the manner of some is,--but,' says I, 'I _will_ say
that I've given this year twenty-five dollars to the Orphan Asylum, to
Hartford, and I've a five-dollar gold-piece in my puss,' says I, 'that
I can spare, and will give that more to the same charity, for the
privilege of tellin' before these ladies, that heard me accused of
being stingy, why I don't give to you when you ask me to, and
especially why I didn't give the last time you asked me. I would like
to tell why I didn't help sew in the Dorcas Society, to buy the new
carpet,' says I, 'but I don't want to hurt anybody's feelin's that
ha'n't hurt mine, and I'll forbear.'--By this time Miss Jaynes was
pale as a sheet. 'I'm sure,' says she, 'I don't care why you don't
choose to give, and I don't suppose any one else does. It's your own
affair,' says she, 'and you a'n't compelled to give unless you're a
mind to.'--'You should have thought of that before you twitted me,'
says I, 'before all this company.'--'Oh, Tira, never mind,' says Miss
Bramhall, 'let it all go!' But up spoke your Aunt Eunice, and says
she, 'It's no more than fair to hear Tira's reasons, after what's been

"Good!" said little Helen; "hurrah for Aunt Eunice!"

"And your ma," resumed Statira, "I knew by her looks she was on my
side, though, it bein' her own house, she felt less free to say as
much as your Aunt Eunice did.--'In the first place,' says I, 'if I did
want to keep my money to buy furniture with, in case I should get a
husband, I expect I've a right to, for 'ta'n't likely,' says I, 'I
shall be lucky enough to have my carpets giv' to me. But that wa'n't
the reason I didn't put my name down for a dollar on that
subscription. One reason was, I knew the upshot on't would be that
somebody would be put up to suggestin' that the money should go for a
life-membership in the society for Miss Jaynes,' says I; 'and I don't
like to encourage anybody in goin' round beggin' for money to buy her
own promotion to a high seat in the synagogue.'--You ought to seen
Miss Jaynes's face then! It was redder'n any beet, for I'd hit the
nail square on the head, as it happened, and the ladies could scurcely
keep from smilin'.--'Then,' says I, 'I shouldn't be my father's
daughter, if I'd give a cent for a preacher that isn't smart enough to
get his own livin' and pay for his own clothes and eddication. To ask
poor women to pay for an able-bodied man's expenses,' says I, 'seems
to me like turnin' the thing wrong end foremost. A young feller that
a'n't smart enough to find himself in victuals and clothes won't be of
much help in the Lord's vineyard,' says I."

"And what did Mrs. Jaynes say?" asked little Helen, when Tira finally
came to a pause.

"Well, really, my dear," replied Miss Blake, "the woman had nothin' to
say, and so she said it. When I got through my speech I handed the
five-dollar gold-piece to your Aunt Eunice, to send to the Asylum, and
that ended it; for just then Dinah come in and said tea was ready, and
we all went out. It was rather stiff for a while, and after tea we all
went home; and for three long years Miss Jaynes never opened her face
to me, until I came here to live, this time. Now she finds it's for
her interest to make up, and so she tries to be as good as pie. But
though I mean to be civil, I'm no hypocrite, and I can't be all honey
and cream to them I don't like; and besides, it a'n't right to be."

"But you ought not to blame Laura because her sister affronted you,"
said Helen.

"I know that, my dear," replied Miss Blake; "and if I've hurt the
girl's feelin's, I'm sorry for't. She's tried hard to be friends with
me, but I've pushed her off; for, not bein' much acquainted, I was
jealous, at first, that Miss Jaynes had put her up to it, to try to
get round me in some way."

"Never!" cried Cornelia,--"my Laura is incapable of such baseness!"

"Well," said Statira, smiling, "come to know her, I guess you can't
find much guile in her, that's a fact. If I did her wrong by
mistrustin' her without cause, I'll try to make amends. It a'n't in me
to speak ha'sh even to a dog, if the critter looks up into my face and
wags his tail in honest good-nater. And I'll say this for Laura
Stebbins, anyhow, if she _is_ Miss Jaynes's sister,--she's got
the most takin' ways of 'most any grown-up person I ever see."

The reflection is painful to a generous mind, that, by harboring
unjust suspicions of another, one has been led to repel friendly
advances with indifference or disdain. In order to assuage some
remorseful pangs, Miss Blake began from this time to treat Laura with
distinguished favor. On the other hand, Laura, delighted at this
pleasant change in Miss Blake's demeanor, sought frequent
opportunities of testifying her joy and gratitude. In this manner an
intimacy began, which ripened at length into a firm and enduring
friendship. Laura soon commenced the practice of applying to her more
experienced friend for advice and direction in almost every matter,
great or small, and of confiding to her trust divers secrets and
confessions which she would never have ventured to repose even in
Cornelia's faithful bosom. This prudent habit Tira encouraged.

"I know, my dear," said she, one day, "I know what it is to be almost
alone in the world, and what a comfort it is to have somebody you can
rely on to tell your griefs and troubles to, and, as it were, get 'em
to help you bear 'em. So, my dear child, whenever you want to get my
notions on any point, just come right straight to me, if you feel like
it. I may not be able to give you the best advice, for I a'n't so
wise as you seem to think I be; however, I ha'n't lived nigh fifty
years in the world for naught, I trust, and without havin' learnt some
things worth knowin'; and though my counsel mayn't be worth much,
still you shall have the best I can give."

"Oh, thank you, thank you!" cried Laura, with such a burst of
passionate emotion that Miss Blake's eyes watered at the sight of
it. "My dear, dear, dear good friend! you don't know how glad I shall
be, if you will let me do as you say, and tell me what to do, and
scold me, and admonish and warn me! Oh, it will be such happiness to
have somebody to tell all my _real_ secrets and troubles to! I do
so need such a friend sometimes!"

"Don't I know it, you poor dear?" said Miss Blake, wiping her
eyes. "Ha'n't I been through the same straits myself? None but them
that's been a young gal themselves, an orphan without a mother to
confide in and to warn and guide 'em, knows what it is. But I do, my
dear; and though I shall be a pretty poor substitute for an own
mother, I'll do the best I can."

"Tira," said Laura, with a tearful and blushing cheek held up to the
good spinster's, "kiss me, won't you?--you never have."

"My dear," said Miss Blake, preparing to comply with this request by
wiping her lips with her apron, "you see I a'n't one of the kissin'
sort, and I scurcely ever kiss a grown-up person; but here's my hand,
and here's a kiss,"--with an old-fashioned smack that might have been
heard in the next room,--"for a token that you may always come to me
as freely as if I was your mother, relyin' upon my givin' you my
honest advice and opinion concernin' any affair that you may ask for
counsel upon. And furthermore, as girls naterally have a wish that the
very things they need some one to direct 'em the most in sha'n't be
known except by them they tell the secret to, I promise you, my dear,
that I'll be as close as a freemason concernin' any privacy that you
may trust me with, about any offer or courtin' matter of any kind."

"Oh, I shall never have any such secrets," said Laura, blushing; "my
sister never lets the beaux come to see me, you know. I'm going to be
an old maid."

"Well, perhaps you will be," said Miss Blake; "only they gen'ally
don't make old maids of such lookin' girls as you be."

But though Miss Blake took Laura into favor, she was by no means
inclined to do the same by Mrs. Jaynes, who, having found to her cost
that the ill-will of the humble sempstress was not to be lightly
contemned, was now plainly anxious to conciliate her. But Statira was
proof against all the wheedling and flattery of the parson's wife,
behaving towards her always with the same cool civility, and with
great self-control,--using none of the frequent opportunities afforded
her to make some taunt, or fling, or reproachful allusion to
Mrs. Jaynes's former conduct. Once, to be sure, when urged by the
parson's wife and a committee of the Dorcas Society to invite that
respectable body to convene at the Bugbee mansion for labor and
refreshment, Statira returned a reply so plainly spoken that it was
deemed rude and ungracious.

"Cornelia is mistress of this house, Miss Jaynes," said she, "and if
she belonged to your society, and wanted to have its weekly meetin's
here in turn, I'd do my best to give 'em somethin' good to eat and
drink. But as she has left the matter to me, I say 'No,' without any
misgivin' or doubt; and for fear I may be called stingy or unsociable,
I'll tell the reason why I say so,--and besides, it's due to you to
tell it. There's poor women, even in this town, put to it to get
employment by which they can earn bread for themselves and their
children. They can't go out to do housework, for they've got young
ones too little to carry with 'em, and maybe a whole family of
'em. Takin' in sewin' is their only resource. Well, ma'am, for ladies,
well-to-do and rich, to get together, under pretence of good works and
charity, and take away work from these poor women, by offerin' to do
it cheaper, underbiddin' of 'em for jobs, which I've known the thing
to be done, and then settin' over their ill-gotten tasks, sewin', and
gabblin' slander all the afternoon, to get money to buy velvet
pulpit-cushions or gilt chandeliers with, or to help pay some
missionary's passage to the Tongoo Islands, is, in my opinion, a
humbug, and, what's worse, a downright breach of the Golden Rule. At
any rate, with my notions, it would be hypocrisy in me to join in, and
that's why I don't invite the society here. I don't know but I have
spoke too strong; if so, I'm sorry; but I've had to earn my own
livin', ever since I was a girl, with my needle, and I know how hard
the lot of them is that have to do so too. Besides, I can't help
thinkin', what, perhaps, you never thought of, yourselves, ladies,
that every person, who, while they can just as well turn their hands
to other business, yet, for their own whim, or pleasure, or
convenience, or profit, chooses to do work, of which there a'n't
enough now in the world to keep in employment them that must get such
work to do, or else beg, or sin, or starve,--when I think, I say, that
every such person helps some poor cretur into the grave, or the jail,
or a place worse than both, I feel that strong talk isn't out of
place; and I've known this very Dorcas Society to send to Hartford and
get shirts to make, under price, and spend their blood-money
afterwards to buy a new carpet for the minister's parlor. That was a
fact, Miss Jaynes, though perhaps it wa'n't polite in me to speak
on't; and so for fear of worse, I'll say no more."

When this speech of his housekeeper came to the Doctor's ears, he
expressed so warm an approval of its sentiments, that several who
heard him began to be confirmed in suspicions they had previously
entertained, the nature of which may be inferred from a remark which
Mrs. Prouty confided to the ear of a trusty friend and crony. "Now do
you mind what I say, Miss Baker," said she, shaking her snuffy
forefinger in Mrs. Baker's face; "Doctor Bugbee'll marry Tira Blake
yet. Now do you just stick a pin there."

But the revolving seasons twice went their annual round, the great
weeping-willow-tree in the burying-ground twice put forth its tender
foliage in the early spring, and twice in autumn strewed with yellow
leaves the mound of Mrs. Bugbee's grave, while the predictions of
many, who, like Mrs. Prouty, had foretold the Doctor's second wedding,
still remained without fulfilment. Nay, at the end of two years after
his wife's death, Doctor Bugbee seemed to be no more disposed to
matrimony than in the first days of his bereavement. There were, to be
sure, floating on the current of village gossip, certain rumors that
he was soon to take a second wife; but as none of these reports agreed
touching the name of the lady, each contradicted all the others, and
so none were of much account. Besides, there was nothing in the
Doctor's appearance or behavior that seemed to warrant any of these
idle stories. It is the way with many hopeful widowers (as everybody
knows) to become, after an interval of decorous sadness, more brisk
and gay than even in their youthful days; bestowing unusual care upon
their attire and the adornment of their persons, and endeavoring, by a
courteous and gallant demeanor towards every unmarried lady, to
signify the great esteem in which they hold the female sex. But these
signs, and all others which betoken an ardent desire to win the
favor of the fair, were wanting in the Doctor's aspect and
deportment. Though, as my reader knows, he was by nature a man of
lively temper, he was now grown more sedate than he had ever been
before; and instead of attiring himself more sprucely than of old, he
neglected his apparel to such a degree, that, although few would have
noticed the untidy change, Statira was filled with continual alarms,
lest some invidious housewife should perceive it, and lay the blame at
her door. Except when called abroad to perform some professional duty,
he spent his time at home, although his family observed that he
secluded himself in his office, among his books and gallipots, more
than had been his wont, and that he sometimes indulged in moods of
silent abstraction, which had never been noticed in his manner until
of late. But these changes of demeanor seemed to betoken an enduring
sorrow for the loss of his wife, rather than to indicate a desire or
an intention to choose a successor to her. My readers, therefore, will
not be surprised to learn, by a plain averment of the simple truth,
that not one of all the score of ladies, whose names had been coupled
with his own, would Doctor Bugbee have married, if he could, and that
to none of them had he ever given any good reason for believing that
she stood especially high in his esteem.

[To be continued in the next Number.]


Wise men of every name and nation, whether poets, philosophers,
statesmen, or divines, have been trying to explain, the puzzles of
human condition, since the world began. For three thousand years, at
least, they have been at this problem, and it is far enough from being
solved yet. Its anomalies seem to have been expressly contrived by
Nature to elude our curiosity and defy our cunning. And no part of it
has she arranged so craftily as that web of institutions, habits,
manners, and customs, in which we find ourselves enmeshed as soon as
we begin to have any perception at all, and which, slight and almost
invisible as it may seem, it is so hard to struggle with and so
impossible to break through. It may be true, according to the poetical
Platonism of Wordsworth, that "heaven lies about us in our infancy";
but we very soon leave it far behind us, and, as we approach manhood,
sadly discover that we have grown up into a jurisdiction of a very
different kind.

In almost every region of the earth, indeed, it is literally true that
"shades of the prison-house begin to close upon the growing boy." As
his faculties develope, he becomes more and more conscious of the
deepening shadows, as well as of the grim walls that cast them on his
soul, and his opening intelligence is earliest exercised in divining
who built them first, and why they exist at all. The infant Chinese,
the baby Calmuck, the suckling Hottentot, we must suppose, rest
unconsciously in the calm of the heaven from which they, too, have
emigrated, as well as the sturdy new-born Briton, or the freest and
most independent little Yankee that is native and to the manner born
of this great country of our own. But all alike grow gradually into a
consciousness of walls, which, though invisible, are none the less
impassable, and of chains, though light as air, yet stronger than
brass or iron. And everywhere is the machinery ready, though different
in its frame and operation in different torture-chambers, to crush out
the budding skepticism, and to mould the mind into the monotonous
decency of general conformity. Fo or Fetish, King or Kaiser, Deity
itself or the vicegerents it has appointed in its stead, are
answerable for it all. God himself has looked upon it, and it is very
good, and there is no appeal from that approval of the Heavenly

In almost every country in the world this deification of institutions
has been promoted by their antiquity. As nobody can remember when they
were not, and as no authentic records exist of their first
establishment, their genealogy can be traced direct to Heaven without
danger of positive disproof. Thus royal races and hereditary
aristocracies and privileged priesthoods established themselves so
firmly in the opinion of Europe, as well as of Asia, and still retain
so much of their _prestige_ there, notwithstanding the turnings
and overturnings of the last two centuries. This northern half of the
great American continent, however, seems to have been kept back by
Nature as a _tabula rasa_, a clean blackboard, on which the great
problem of civil government might be worked out, without any of the
incongruous drawbacks which have cast perplexity and despair upon
those who have undertaken its solution in the elder world. All the
elements of the demonstration were of the most favorable
nature. Settled by races who had inherited or achieved whatever of
constitutional liberty existed in the world, with no hereditary
monarch, or governing oligarchy, or established religion on the soil,
with every opportunity to avoid all the vices and to better all the
virtues of the old polities, the era before which all history had been
appointed to prepare the way seemed to have arrived, when the just
relations of personal liberty and civil government were to be
established forever.

And how magnificent the field on which the trophy of this final
victory of a true civilization was to be erected! No empire or
kingdom, at least since imperial Rome perished from the earth, ever
unrolled a surface so vast and so variegated, so manifold in its
fertilities and so various in its aspects of beauty and
sublimity. From the Northern wastes, where the hunter and the trapper
pursue by force or guile the fur-bearing animals, to the ever-perfumed
latitudes of the lemon and the myrtle,--from the stormy Atlantic,
where the skiff of the fisherman rocks fearlessly under the menace of
beetling crags amid the foam of angry breakers, to where the solemn
surge of the Pacific pours itself around our Western continent, boon
Nature has spread out fields which ask only the magic touch of Labor
to wave with every harvest and blush with every fruitage. Majestic
forests crown the hills, asking to be transformed into homes for man
on the solid earth, or into the moving miracles in which he flies on
wings of wind or flame over the ocean to the ends of the
earth. Exhaustless mineral treasures offer themselves to his hand,
scarce hidden beneath the soil, or lying carelessly upon the
surface,--coal, and lead, and copper, and the "all-worshipped ore" of
gold itself; while quarries, reaching to the centre, from many a
rugged hill-top, barren of all beside, court the architect and the
sculptor, ready to give shape to their dreams of beauty in the palace
or in the statue.

The soil, too, is fitted by the influences of every sky for the
production of every harvest that can bring food, comfort, wealth, and
luxury to man. Every family of the grasses, every cereal that can
strengthen the heart, every fruit that can delight the taste, every
fibre that can be woven into raiment or persuaded into the thousand
shapes of human necessity, asks but a gentle solicitation to pour its
abundance bounteously into the bosom of the husbandman. And men have
multiplied under conditions thus auspicious to life, until they swarm
on the Atlantic slope, are fast filling up the great valley of the
Mississippi, and gradually flow over upon the descent towards the
Pacific. The three millions, who formed the population of the Thirteen
States that set the British empire at defiance, have grown up into a
nation of nearly, if not quite, ten times that strength, within the
duration of active lives not yet finished. And in freedom from
unmanageable debt, in abundance and certainty of revenue, in the
materials for naval armaments, in the elements of which armies are
made up, in everything that goes to form national wealth, power, and
strength, the United States, it would seem, even as they are now,
might stand against the world in arms, or in the arts of peace. Are
not these results proofs irrefragable of the wisdom of the government
under which they have come to pass?

When the eyes of the thoughtful inquirer turn from the general
prospect of the national greatness and strength, to the geographical
divisions of the country, to examine the relative proportions of these
gifts contributed by each, he begins to be aware that there are
anomalies in the moral and political condition even of this youngest
of nations, not unlike what have perplexed him in his observation of
her elder sisters. He beholds the Southern region, embracing within
its circuit three hundred thousand more square miles than the domain
of the North, dowered with a soil incomparably more fertile, watered
by mighty rivers fit to float the argosies of the world, placed nearer
the sun and canopied by more propitious skies, with every element of
prosperity and wealth showered upon it with Nature's fullest and most
unwithdrawing hand, and sees, that, notwithstanding all this, the
share of public wealth and strength drawn thence is almost
inappreciable by the side of what is poured into the common stock by
the strenuous sterility of the North. With every opportunity and means
that Nature can supply for commerce, with navigable rivers searching
its remotest corners, with admirable harbors in which the navies of
the world might ride, with the chief articles of export for its staple
productions, it still depends upon its Northern partner to fetch and
carry all that it produces, and the little that it consumes. Possessed
of all the raw materials of manufactures and the arts, its inhabitants
look to the North for everything they need from the cradle to the
coffin. Essentially agricultural in its constitution, with every
blessing Nature can bestow upon it, the gross value of all its
productions is less by millions than that of the simple grass of the
field gathered into Northern barns. With all the means and materials
of wealth, the South is poor. With every advantage for gathering
strength and self-reliance, it is weak and dependent.--Why this
difference between the two?

The _why_ is not far to seek. It is to be found in the reward
which Labor bestows on those that pay it due reverence in the one
case, and the punishment it inflicts on those offering it outrage and
insult in the other. All wealth proceeding forth from Labor, the land
where it is honored and its ministers respected and rewarded must
needs rejoice in the greatest abundance of its gifts. Where, on the
contrary, its exercise is regarded as the badge of dishonor and the
vile office of the refuse and offscouring of the race, its largess
must be proportionably meagre and scanty. The key of the enigma is to
be found in the constitution of human nature. A man in fetters cannot
do the task-work that one whose limbs are unshackled looks upon as a
pastime. A man urged by the prospect of winning an improved condition
for himself and his children by the skill of his brain and the
industry of his hand must needs achieve results such as no fear of
torture can extort from one denied the holy stimulus of hope. Hence
the difference so often noticed between tracts lying side by side,
separated only by a river or an imaginary line; on one side of which,
thrift and comfort and gathering wealth, growing villages, smiling
farms, convenient habitations, school-houses, and churches make the
landscape beautiful; while on the other, slovenly husbandry,
dilapidated mansions, sordid huts, perilous wastes, horrible roads,
the rare spire, and rarer village school betray all the nakedness of
the land. It is the magic of motive that calls forth all this wealth
and beauty to bless the most sterile soil stirred by willing and
intelligent labor; while the reversing of that spell scatters squalor
and poverty and misery over lands endowed by Nature with the highest
fertility, spreading their leprous infection from the laborer to his
lord. All this is in strict accordance with the laws of God, as
expounded by man in his books on political economy.

Not so, however, with the stranger phenomenon to be discerned
inextricably connected with this anomaly, but not, apparently,
naturally and inevitably flowing from it. That the denial of his
natural and civil rights to the laborer who sows and reaps the
harvests of the Southern country should be avenged upon his enslaver
in the scanty yielding of the earth, and in the unthrift, the vices,
and the wretchedness which are the only crops that spring
spontaneously from soil blasted by slavery, is nothing strange. It is
only the statement of the truism in moral and in political economy,
that true prosperity can never grow up from wrong and wickedness. That
pauperism, and ignorance, and vice, that reckless habits, and debasing
customs, and barbarous manners should come of an organized degradation
of labor, and of cruelty and injustice crystallized into an
institution, is an inevitable necessity, and strictly according to the
nature of things. But that the stronger half of the nation should
suffer the weaker to rule over it in virtue of its weakness, that the
richer region should submit to the political tyranny of its
impoverished moiety because of that very poverty, is indeed a marvel
and a mystery. That the intelligent, educated, and civilized portion
of a race should consent to the sway of their ignorant, illiterate,
and barbarian companions in the commonwealth, and this by reason of
that uncouth barbarism, is an astonishment, and should be a hissing to
all beholders everywhere. It would be so to ourselves, were we not so
used to the fact, had it not so grown into our essence and ingrained
itself with our nature as to seem a vital organism of our being. Of
all the anomalies in morals and in politics which the history of
civilized man affords, this is surely the most abnormous and the most

The entire history of the United States is but the record of the
evidence of this fact. What event in our annals is there that Slavery
has not set her brand upon it to mark it as her own? In the very
moment of the nation's birth, like the evil fairy of the nursery tale,
she was present to curse it with her fatal words. The spell then wound
up has gone on increasing in power, until the scanty formulas which
seemed in those days of infancy as if they would fade out of the
parchment into which they had been foisted, and leave no trace that
they ever were, have blotted out all beside, and statesmen and judges
read nothing there but the awful and all-pervading name of Slavery.
Once intrenched among the institutions of the country, this baleful
power has advanced from one position to another, never losing ground,
but establishing itself at each successive point more impregnably than
before, until it has us at an advantage that encourages it to demand
the surrender of our rights, our self-respect, and our honor. What was
once whispered in the secret chamber of council is now proclaimed upon
the housetops; what was once done by indirection and guile is now
carried with the high hand, in the face of day, at the mouth of the
cannon and by the edge of the sabre of the nation. Doctrines and
designs which a few years since could find no mouthpiece out of a
bar-room, or the piratical den of a filibuster, are now clothed with
power by the authentic response of the bench of our highest
judicatory, and obsequiously iterated from the oracular recesses of
the National Palace.

And the events which now fill the scene are but due successors in the
train that has swept over the stage ever since the nineteenth century
opened the procession with the purchase of Louisiana. The acquisition
of that vast territory, important as it was in a national point of
view,--but coveted by the South mainly as the fruitful mother of
slave-holding States, and for the precedent it established, that the
Constitution was a barrier only to what should impede, never to what
might promote, the interests of Slavery,--was the first great stride
she made as she stalked to her design. The admission of Missouri as a
slaveholding State, granted after a struggle that shook American
society to the centre, and then only on the memorable promises now
broken to the ear as well as to the hope, was the next vantage-ground
seized and maintained. The nearly contemporary purchase of Florida,
though in design and in effect as revolutionary an action as that of
Louisiana, excited comparatively little opposition. It was but the
following up of an acknowledged victory by the Slave Power. The long
and bloody wars in her miserable swamps, waged against the
humanity of savages that gave shelter to the fugitives from her
tyranny,--slave-hunts, merely, on a national scale and at the common
expense,--followed next in the march of events. Then Texas loomed in
the distance, and, after years of gradual approach and covert
advances, was first wrested from Mexico. Slavery next indissolubly
chained to her, and then, by a _coup d'etat_ of astonishing impudence,
was added, by a flourish of John Tyler's pen, in the very article of
his political dissolution, to "the Area of Freedom!" Next came the war
with Mexico, lying in its pretences, bloody in its conduct, triumphant
in its results, for it won vast regions suitable for Slavery now, and
taught the way to win larger conquests when her ever-hungry maw should
crave them. What need to recount the Fugitive-Slave Bill, and the
other "Compromises" of 1850? or to recite the base repeal of the
Missouri Compromise, showing the slaveholder's regard for promises to
be as sacred as that of a pettifogger for justice or of a dicer for an
oath? or to point to the plains of Kansas, red with the blood of her
sons and blackened with the cinders of her towns, while the President
of the United States held the sword of the nation at her throat to
compel her to submission?

Success, perpetual and transcendent, such as has always waited on
Slavery in all her attempts to mould the history of the country and to
compel the course of its events to do her bidding, naturally excites a
measure of curiosity if not of admiration, in the mind of every
observer. Have the slave-owners thus gone on from victory to victory
and from strength to strength by reason of their multitude, of their
wealth, of their public services, of their intelligence, of their
wisdom, of their genius, or of their virtue? Success in gigantic
crime sometimes implies a strength and energy which compel a kind of
respect even from those that hate it most. The right supremacy of the
power that thus sways our destiny clearly does not reside in the
overwhelming numbers of those that bear rule. The entire sum of all
who have any direct connection with Slavery, as owners or hirers, is
less than THREE HUNDRED AND FIFTY THOUSAND,--not half as many as the
inhabitants of the single city of New York! And yet even this number
exaggerates the numerical force of the dominant element in our
affairs. To approximate to the true result, it would be fair to strike
from the gross sum those owning or employing less than ten slaves, in
order to arrive at the number of slave-owners who really compose the
ruling influence of the nation. This would leave but a small fraction
over NINETY THOUSAND, men, women, and children, owning slaves enough
to unite them in a common interest. And from this should be deducted
the women and minors, actually owning slaves in their own right, but
who have no voice in public affairs. These taken away, and the
absentees flying to Europe or the North from the moral contaminations
and material discomforts inseparable from Slavery, and not much more
than FIFTY THOUSAND voting men will remain to represent this mighty
and all-controlling power!--a fact as astounding as it is

Oligarchies are nothing new in the history of the world. The
government of the many by the few is the rule, and not the exception,
in the politics of the times that have been and of those that now
are. But the concentration of the power that determines the policy,
makes the laws, and appoints the ministers of a mighty nation, in the
hands of less than the five-hundredth part of its members, is an
improvement on the essence of the elder aristocracies; while the
usurpation of the title of the Model Republic and of the Pattern
Democracy, under which we offer ourselves to the admiration and
imitation of less happy nations, is certainly a refinement on their

This prerogative of power, too, is elsewhere conceded by the multitude
to their rulers generally for some especial fitness, real or
imaginary, for the office they have assumed. Some services of their
own or of their ancestors to the state, some superiority, natural or
acquired, of parts or skill, at least some specialty of high culture
and elegant breeding, a quick sense of honor, a jealousy of insult to
the public, an impatience of personal stain,--some or all of these
qualities, appealing to the gratitude or to the imagination of the
masses, have usually been supposed to inhere in the class they permit
to rule over them. By virtue of some or all of these things, its
members have had allowed to them their privileges and their
precedency, their rights of exemption and of preeminence, their voice
potential in the councils of the state, and their claim to be foremost
in its defence in the hour of its danger. Some ray of imagination
there is, which, falling on the knightly shields and heraldic devices
that symbolize their conceded superiority, at least dazzles the eyes
and delights the fancy of the crowd, so as to blind them to the
inhering vices and essential fallacies of the Order to whose will they

But no such consolations of delusion remain to us, as we stand face to
face with the Power which holds our destinies in its hand. None of
these blear illusions can cheat our eyes with any such false
presentments. No antiquity hallows, no public services consecrate, no
gifts of lofty culture adorn, no graces of noble breeding embellish
the coarse and sordid oligarchy that gives law to us. And in the
blighting shadow of Slavery letters die and art cannot live. What book
has the South ever given to the libraries of the world? What work of
art has she ever added to its galleries? What artist has she produced
that did not instinctively fly, like Allston, to regions in which
genius could breathe and art was possible? What statesman has she
reared, since Jefferson died and Madison ceased to write, save those
intrepid discoverers who have taught that Slavery is the corner-stone
of republican institutions, and the vital element of Freedom herself?
What divine, excepting the godly men whose theologic skill has
attained to the doctrine that Slavery is of the essence of the Gospel
of Jesus Christ? What moralist, besides those ethic doctors who teach
that it is according to the Divine Justice that the stronger race
should strip the weaker of every civil, social, and moral right? The
unrighteous partiality, extorted by the threats of Carolina and
Georgia in 1788, which gives them a disproportionate representation
because of their property in men, and the unity of interest which
makes them always act in behalf of Slavery as one man, have made them
thus omnipotent. The North, distracted by a thousand interests, has
always been at the mercy of whatever barbarian chief in the capital
could throw his slave whip into the trembling scale of party. The
government having been always, since this century began, at least, the
creature and the tool of the slaveholders, the whole patronage of the
nation, and the treasury filled chiefly by Northern commerce, have
been at their command to help manipulate and mould plastic Northern
consciences into practicable shapes. When the slave interest,
consisting, at its own largest account of itself, of less than THREE
HUNDRED AND FIFTY THOUSAND souls, has _thirty_ members of the
Senate, while the free-labor interest, consisting of at least
_thirty-two_, and when the former has a delegation of some score
of members to represent its slaves in the House, besides its own fair
proportion, can we marvel that it has achieved the mastery over us,
which is written in black and bloody characters on so many pages of
our history?

Such having been the absolute sway Slavery has exercised over the
facts of our history, what has been its influence upon the characters
of the men with whom it has had to do? Of all the productions of a
nation, its men are what prove its quality the most surely. How have
the men of America stood this test? Have those in the high places,
they who have been called to wait at the altar before all the people,
maintained the dignity of character and secured the general reverence
which marked and waited upon their predecessors in the days of our
small things? The population of the United States has multiplied
itself nearly tenfold, while its wealth has increased in a still
greater proportion, since the peace of 'Eighty-Three. Have the
Representative Men of the nation been made or maintained great and
magnanimous, too? Or is that other anomaly, which has so perplexed the
curious foreigner, an admitted fact, that in proportion as the country
has waxed great and powerful, its public men have dwindled from giants
in the last century to dwarfs in this? Alas, to ask the question is to
answer it. Compare Franklin, and Adams, and Jay, met at Paris to
negotiate the treaty of peace which was to seal the recognition of
their country as an equal sister in the family of nations, with
Buchanan, and Soule, and Mason, convened at Ostend to plot the larceny
of Cuba! Sages and lawgivers, consulting for the welfare of a world
and a race, on the one hand, and buccaneers conspiring for the pillage
of a sugar-island on the other!

What men, too, did not Washington and Adams call around them in the
Cabinet!--how representative of great ideas! how historical! how
immortal! How many of our readers can name the names of their
successors of the present day? Inflated obscurities, bloated
insignificances, who knows or cares whence they came or what they are?
We know whose bidding they were appointed to obey, and what manner of
work they are ready to perform. And shall we dare extend our profane
comparisons even higher than the Cabinet? Shall we bring the shadowy
majesty of Washington's august idea alongside the microscopic
realities of to-day? Let us be more merciful, and take our departure
from the middle term between the Old and the New, occupied by Andrew
Jackson, whose iron will and doggedness of purpose give definite
character, if not awful dignity, to his image. In his time, the Slave
Power, though always the secret spring which set events in motion,
began to let its workings be seen more openly than ever before. And
from his time forward, what a graduated line of still diminishing
shadows have glided successively through the portals of the White
House! From Van Buren to Tyler, from Tyler to Polk, from Polk to
Fillmore, from Fillmore to Pierce! "Fine by degrees and beautifully
less," until it at last reached the vanishing point!

The baleful influence thus ever shed by Slavery on our national
history and our public men has not yet spent its malignant forces. It
has, indeed, reached a height which a few years ago it was thought the
wildest fanaticism to predict; but its fatal power will not be stayed
in the mid-sweep of its career. The Ordinance of 1787 torn to shreds
and scattered to the winds,--the line drawn in 1820, which the
slaveholders plighted their faith Slavery should never overstep,
insolently as well as infamously obliterated,--Slavery presiding in
the Cabinet, seated on the Supreme Bench, absolute in the halls of
Congress,--no man can say what shape its next aggression may not take
to itself. A direct attack on the freedom of the press and the liberty
of speech at the North, where alone either exists, were no more
incredible than the later insolences of its tyranny. The battle not
yet over in Kansas, for the compulsory establishment of Slavery there
by the interposition of the Federal arm, will be renewed in every
Territory as it is ripening into a State. Already warning voices are
heard in the air, presaging such a conflict in Oregon. Parasites
everywhere instinctively feel that a zeal for the establishment of
Slavery where it has been abolished, or its introduction where it had
been prohibited, is the highest recommendation to the Executive favor.
The rehabilitation of the African slave-trade is seriously proposed
and will be furiously urged, and nothing can hinder its accomplishment
but its interference with the domestic manufactures of the breeding
Slave States. The pirate Walker is already mustering his forces for
another incursion into Nicaragua, and rumors are rife that General
Houston designs wresting yet another Texas from Mexico. Mighty events
are at hand, even at the door; and the mission of them all will be to
fix Slavery firmly and forever on the throne of this nation.

Is the success of this conspiracy to be final and eternal? Are the
States which name themselves, in simplicity or in irony, the Free
States, to be always the satrapies of a central power like this? Are
we forever to submit to be cheated out of our national rights by an
oligarchy as despicable as it is detestable, because it clothes itself
in the forms of democracy, and allows us the ceremonies of choice, the
name of power, and the permission to register the edicts of the
sovereign? We, who broke the sceptre of King George, and set our feet
on the supremacy of the British Parliament, surrender ourselves, bound
hand and foot in bonds of our own weaving, into the hands of the
slaveholding Philistines! We, who scorned the rule of the aristocracy
of English acres, submit without a murmur, or with an ineffectual
resistance, to the aristocracy of American flesh and blood! Is our
spirit effectually broken? is the brand of meanness and compromise
burnt in uneffaceably upon our Souls? and are we never to be roused,
by any indignities, to fervent resentment and effectual resistance?
The answer to these grave questions lies with ourselves alone. One
hundred thousand, or three hundred thousand men, however crafty and
unscrupulous, cannot forever keep under their rule more than twenty
millions, as much their superiors in wealth and intelligence as in
numbers, except by their own consent. If the growing millions are to
be driven with cartwhips along the pathway of their history by the
dwindling thousands, they have none to blame for it but themselves.
If they like to have their laws framed and expounded, their presidents
appointed, their foreign policy dictated, their domestic interests
tampered with, their war and peace made for them, their national fame
and personal honor tarnished, and the lie given to all their boastings
before the old despotisms, by this insignificant fraction of their
number,--scarcely visible to the naked eye in the assembly of the
whole people,--none can gainsay or resist their pleasure.

But will the many always thus submit themselves to the domination of
the few? We believe that the days of this ignominious subjection are
already numbered. Signs in heaven and on earth tell us that one of
those movements has begun to be felt in the Northern mind, which
perplex tyrannies everywhere with the fear of change. The insults and
wrongs so long heaped upon the North by the South begin to be
felt. The torpid giant moves uneasily beneath his mountain-load of
indignities. The people of the North begin to feel that they support a
government for the benefit of their natural enemies; for, of all
antipathies, that of slave labor to free is the most deadly and
irreconcilable. There never was a time when the relations of the North
and the South, as complicated by Slavery, were so well understood and
so deeply resented as now. In fields, in farmhouses, and in workshops,
there is a spirit aroused which can never be laid or exorcised till it
has done its task. We see its work in the great uprising of the Free
States against the Slave States in the late national election. Though
trickery and corruption cheated it of its end, the thunder of its
protest struck terror into the hearts of the tyrants. We hear its
echo, as it comes back from the Slave States themselves, in the
exceeding bitter cry of the whites for deliverance from the bondage
which the slavery of the blacks has brought upon them also. We
discern the confession of its might in the very extravagances and
violences of the Slave Power. It is its conscious and admitted
weakness that has made Texas and Mexico and Cuba, and our own
Northwestern territory, necessary to be devoured. It is desperation,
and not strength, that has made the bludgeon and the bowie-knife
integral parts of the national legislation. It has the American
Government, the American Press, and the American Church, in its
national organizations, on its side; but the Humanity and the
Christianity of the Nation and the World abhor and execrate it. They
that be against it are more than they that be for it.

It rages, for its time is short. And its rage is the fiercer because
of the symptoms of rebellion against its despotism which it discerns
among the white men of the South, who from poverty or from principle
have no share in its sway. When we speak of the South as
distinguished from the North by elements of inherent hostility, we
speak only of the governing faction, and not of the millions of
nominally free men who are scarcely less its thralls than the black
slaves themselves. This unhappy class of our countrymen are the first
to feel the blight which Slavery spreads around it, because they are
the nearest to its noxious power. The subjects of no European
despotism are under a closer _espionage,_ or a more organized
system of terrorism, than are they. The slaveholders, having the
wealth, and nearly all the education that the South can boast of,
employ these mighty instruments of power to create the public
sentiment and to control the public affairs of their region, so as
best to secure their own supremacy. No word of dissent to the
institutions under which they live, no syllable of dissatisfaction,
even, with any of the excesses they stimulate, can be breathed in
safety. A Christian minister in Tennessee relates an act of fiendish
cruelty inflicted upon a slave by one of the members of his church,
and he is forced to leave his charge, if not to fly the
country. Another in South Carolina presumes to express in conversation
his disapprobation of the murderous assault of Brooks on Senator
Sumner, and his pastoral relations are broken up on the instant, as if
he had been guilty of gross crime or flagrant heresy. Professor
Hedrick, in North Carolina, ventures to utter a preference for the
Northern candidate in the last presidential campaign, and he is
summarily ejected from his chair, and virtually banished from his
native State. Mr. Underwood, of Virginia, dares to attend the
convention of the party he preferred, and he is forbidden to return to
his home on pain of death. The blackness of darkness and the stillness
of death are thus forced to brood over that land which God formed so
fair, and made to be so happy.

That such a tyranny should excite an antagonistic spirit of resistance
is inevitable from the constitution of man and the character of
God. The sporadic cases of protest and of resistance to the
slaveholding aristocracy, which lift themselves occasionally above the
dead level of the surrounding despotism, are representative
cases. They stand for much more than their single selves. They prove
that there is a wide-spread spirit of discontent, informing great
regions of the slave-land, which must one day find or force an
opportunity of making itself heard and felt. This we have just seen in
the great movement in Missouri, the very nursing-mother of
Border-Ruffianism itself, which narrowly missed making Emancipation
the policy of the majority of the voters there. Such a result is the
product of no sudden culture. It must have been long and slowly
growing up. And how could it be otherwise? There must be intelligence
enough among the non-slaveholding whites to see the difference there
is between themselves and persons of the same condition in the Free
States. Why can they have no free schools? Why is it necessary that a
missionary society be formed at the North to furnish them with such
ministers as the slave-master can approve? Why can they not support
their own ministers, and have a Gospel of Free Labor preached to them,
if they choose? Why are they hindered from taking such newspapers as
they please? Why are they subjected to a censorship of the press,
which dictates to them what they may or may not read, and which
punishes booksellers with exile and ruin for keeping for sale what
they want to buy? Why must Northern publishers expurgate and
emasculate the literature of the world before it is permitted to reach
them? Why is it that the value of acres increases in a geometrical
ratio, as they stretch away towards the North Star from the frontier
of Slavery? These questions must suggest their sufficient answer to
thousands of hearts, and be preparing the way for the insurrection of
which the slaveholders stand in the deadliest fear,--that of the
whites at their gates, who can do with them and their institutions
what seems to them good, when once they know their power, and choose
to put it forth. The unity of interest of the non-slaveholders of the
South with the people of the Free States is perfect, and it must one
day combine them in a unity of action.

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