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The Atlantic Monthly, Volume V, Number 29, March, 1860 by Various

Part 3 out of 5

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in vessels of considerable burden. But as the proportions of naval
architecture enlarged, these puny instruments were thrown aside;
although the importance and necessity of some such auxiliary in the
ordinary exigencies of marine life have always been felt and it has long
been earnestly sought.

From the first successful application of steam to navigation--by Fulton,
in 1803--it was supposed to be the simplest thing in the world to
provide ships with an auxiliary motor; but the result has shown the
fallacy of this conception.

For more than twenty years steam-navigation has advanced with giant
strides, overstepping several times the limits which science had
assigned it; but the paddle-wheel, by which the agency of steam has
been applied, forms so bad an alliance with canvas, and supplies so
indifferently the requirements of a man-of-war, that it has been
impossible by this intermediary to render steam the efficient coadjutor
of sails; and it is for this reason that steam so speedily took rank
as a primary motor upon the ocean; for, in all the successful marine
applications of steam by means of the paddle, steam is the dominant
power, and sails the accessory, or almost superfluous auxiliary. It is
the screw alone, in some of its modifications, which offers the means of
a successful and economical adaptation of steam to ships of war or of
commerce; for it is susceptible of a more complete protection than, the
paddle, and of an easy and advantageous combination with canvas.

The screw-propeller, in fact, has assumed so important a part in all
naval enterprise, that it may not be without interest to trace briefly
its rise and progress to the consideration it now commands, and
to review, in general terms, the various experiments by which the
screw-frigate has been brought to its present high state of efficiency,
excelling, for purposes of war, all other kinds of vessels.

As early as 1804, John Stevens, of Hoboken, New Jersey, engaged in
experiments to devise some means of driving a vessel through the water
by applying the motive power at the stern, and with a screw-propeller
and a defective boiler attained for short distances a speed of seven
knots; and it is surprising, that, with the genius and determination so
characteristic of his race, he should have abandoned the path on which
he appears to have so fairly entered.

Within the last half-century numerous attempts of a similar character
have been made in Europe and America; but although many of the
contrivances for this purpose were exceedingly ingenious, and the
success of some of the experiments sufficient, one would suppose, to
excite the interest of the public and encourage perseverance in the
undertaking, yet in no instance were they followed by any practical and
useful results until the year 1836, when both Captain Ericsson and
Mr. F. P. Smith so fully demonstrated the speed and safety with which
vessels could be moved by the screw-propeller, as to convince every
intelligent and unprejudiced mind of the importance of their inventions,
and immediately to attract the attention of the principal naval powers
of the world.

Captain Ericsson is a native of Sweden, but for some years previous to
1836 he had resided in England, where he had become known as an engineer
and mechanician of distinguished ability.

In July, 1836, he took out a patent in England for his method of
propelling vessels; and during that year the results of his experiments
with a small boat were so satisfactory, that in the following year he
built a vessel forty-five feet long, with eight feet beam, and drawing
three feet of water, called the Francis B. Ogden, in compliment to the
gentleman then consul of the United States at Liverpool, who was the
first person to appreciate the merits of his invention, and to encourage
him in his efforts to perfect it. This vessel was tried upon the Thames
in April, 1837, and succeeded admirably. She made ten knots an hour, and
towed the American ship Toronto at the rate of four and a half knots an
hour; and in the following summer, Sir Charles Adam, one of the Lords
of the Admiralty, Sir William Symonds, the Surveyor of the Navy, and
several other scientific gentlemen and officers of rank, were towed by
her in the Admiralty barge at the speed of ten miles an hour.

Notwithstanding this demonstration of the powers of his vessel, Captain
Ericsson did not succeed in exciting the interest of any of the persons
who witnessed the performance; and it seems almost incredible that no
one of them had the intelligence to perceive or the magnanimity to admit
the importance of his invention. But, fortunately for Ericsson and the
reputation of our country, he soon after met with Captain Stockton, of
the United States navy, who at once took the deepest interest in
his plans. The result of one experiment with Ericsson's steamer was
sufficient to convince a man of Stockton's sagacity of the immense
advantages which the new motor might confer upon the commerce and upon
the navy of his country, and forthwith he ordered an iron steamer to be
built and fitted with Ericsson's propeller. This vessel was named the
Stockton, and was launched in July, 1838, and, after being thoroughly
tested and her success demonstrated, she was sent under sail to the
United States in April of the next year, and was soon after followed by
Captain Ericsson; when, in consequence of the representations of Captain
Stockton, the government ordered the Princeton to be built under
Ericsson's superintendence, and to be fitted with his propeller.

The Princeton, of 673 tons, was launched in April, 1842, and her
propeller, of six blades, of thirty-five feet pitch, and of fourteen
feet diameter, was driven by a semi-cylinder engine of two hundred and
fifty horse-power, and all her machinery placed _below_ the water-line.
Her smoke-stack was so arranged that the upper parts could be let into
the lower, so as not to be visible above the rail; and as the anthracite
coal which she used evolved no smoke, she could not, at a short
distance, be distinguished from a sailing-ship.

Her best speed under steam alone, _at sea_, was 8.6, and under sail
alone, 10.1 knots; her mean performance under steam and sail, 8.226; and
considering the imperfect form of boiler employed, and the small
amount of fuel consumed, it may be doubted if this has since been much
excelled. She worked and steered well under canvas or steam alone, or
under both combined; was dry and weatherly, but pitched heavily, and was
rather deficient in stability.

[Footnote: For a particular account of the Princeton, by B. F.
Isherwood, U. S. N., see _Journal of the Franklin Institute_ for June,
1853. Taking everything into consideration, the Princeton was a most
successful experiment, and, in her day, the most efficient man-of-war of
her class. By her construction the government of the United States had
placed itself far in advance of all the world in the path of naval
improvement, and it is deeply to be regretted that it did not avail
itself of the advantage thus gained; that it did not immediately order
the construction of other vessels, in which successively the few defects
of the Princeton might have been corrected; that it did not persist in
that path of improvement into which it had fortunately been directed,
instead of suffering our great naval rivals to outstrip us in the race,
and compel us at last to resort to them for instruction in that science
the very rudiments of which they had learned from us.]

The success of the Princeton was followed by the general adoption in
America of the screw-propeller. When Ericsson left England, he confided
his interests to Count Rosen, who, in 1843, placed an Ericsson propeller
in the French frigate Pomone, and soon afterwards the British Admiralty
determined to place it in the Amphion. Not only was the performance of
these vessels highly satisfactory, but they were the first ships in the
navies of Europe in which the great desideratum was secured of placing
the machinery below the load-line. Ericsson's propeller having been the
first introduced into France, it was generally adopted; but afterwards,
in consequence of the accounts of Smith's screw received from England,
it underwent various modifications.

Such was the result of Ericsson's labors; it now remains to relate the
success of Smith. The efforts of either had been sufficient to have
secured to navigation the inestimable advantages of screw-propulsion,
but their rivalry probably hastened the solution of the problem.

In May, 1836, Mr. F. P. Smith, a farmer of Hendon, in England, took out
a patent for his screw-propeller, and exhibited some experiments with it
attached to a model boat, and in the following autumn built a boat of
six tons' burden, of ten horse-power, and fitted with a wooden screw.
This vessel was kept running upon the Thames for nearly a year, and her
performance was so satisfactory, that Mr. Smith determined to try her
qualities at sea; and in the course of the year 1837, he visited in her
several ports on the coast of England, and proved that she worked well
in strong winds and rough water.

These trials attracted much attention, and at last awakened the interest
of the Admiralty, who requested Mr. Smith to try his propeller on a
larger vessel, and the Archimedes, of ninety horse-power and 237 tons,
built for this purpose, was launched in October, 1838, and made her
experimental trip in 1839. It was thought that her performance would be
satisfactory, if she could make four or five knots an hour; but she
made nearly ten! In May, 1839, she went from Gravesend to Portsmouth,
a distance of one hundred and ninety miles, and made the run in twenty

In April, 1840, Captain Chappel, R. N., and Mr. Lloyd, Chief Engineer of
Woolwich Dockyard, were appointed by the Admiralty to try a series
of experiments with her at Dover. The numerous trials made under the
superintendence of these officers fully proved the efficiency of the new
propeller, and their report was entirely favorable.

The Archimedes next circumnavigated Great Britain under command of
Captain Chappel, visiting all the principal ports: she afterwards
went to Oporto, Antwerp, and other places, and everywhere excited the
admiration of engineers and seamen.

Up to this period, the British engineers were nearly unanimous in the
opinion that the use of the screw involved a great loss of power, and
they had concluded that it could not be adopted; but it was impossible
any longer to resist the impressions made on the public by the
demonstration which had been given both by Smith and Ericsson; and
although the engineers were still unwilling to admit the screw to a
comparison with the paddle, it was evident that their first conclusions
regarding it were erroneous, and thereafter it was viewed by them with
less disdain and spoken of more hopefully. One of the great objections
by engineers to the use of the screw was their inability, at the time of
its introduction, to construct properly a screw engine,--that is to say,
a direct-acting horizontal engine, working at a speed of from sixty to
one hundred revolutions per minute,--all their experience having been in
paddle-wheel engines, working from ten to fifteen revolutions per
minute. The peculiar mechanical details required in the screw engine,
the necessity for accurate counterbalancing, etc., were then unknown,
and had to be learned from a long succession of expensive failures. In
England, the first machines applied to the screw were paddle-wheel
engines, working it by gearing; there were consequently lost all the
advantages of the reduced cost, bulk, and weight of the screw engine
proper, including, for war purposes, the important feature of its being
placed below the water-line. At first, the screw had not only to contend
with physical difficulties, but to struggle against nearly universal
prejudice; many inventors had succumbed to these obstacles, and
therefore too much applause cannot be bestowed upon those who,
unsustained by public sympathy, and in defiance of a prevailing
skepticism, maintained their faith and courage unshaken, and gallantly
persisted in their efforts, until crowned with a world-wide success.

Ericsson, before interesting himself with the screw, was, as has been
seen, an engineer and mechanician of distinguished ability; whereas
Smith, in commencing his new vocation, had all to acquire but his first
conception. Ericsson could rely upon the fertility of his own genius,
was his own draughtsman, and designed his own engines, accommodating
them to the new propeller by dispensing with gearing, and adapting
them to a speed of from thirty to forty revolutions,--a great and bold
advance for an initiative step. Smith, on the contrary, not being an
engineer, had to intrust the execution of his plans to others, whose
knowledge of construction was in the routine of paddle-wheel engines;
and this accounts for the fact, that all the earliest British
screw-steamers were driven by gearing. This want of mechanical resources
on the part of Smith added to the difficulties of his career; but his
resolution and perseverance rose superior to all obstacles, and carried
him to the goal in triumph. Briefly, then, these were the respective
merits of Smith and Ericsson, in the introduction of screw-propulsion;
and it is much to their honor, that, throughout their career, no
narrow-spirited jealousies dimmed the lustre of a noble rivalry.

Such was the origin of the new motor,--the mighty engine by which
armadas are marshalled in battle-array, the burdens of commerce borne to
distant marts, the impatient emigrant transferred to the promised land,
and by which the breathings of affection, the pangs of distress, and the
sighs of love are wafted to far-off continents.

In consequence of the success of the Archimedes, the Admiralty ordered
the Rattler to be fitted with a screw, and it was no small satisfaction
to find that her double-cylinder engines could be easily adapted to the
new propeller. She is of 888 tons, and two hundred horse-power, and was
launched in the spring of 1843, being the first screw-vessel in the
British navy.

In the course of the two succeeding years, she was tried with a great
many different screws, and numerous experiments were made to discover
the length, diameter, pitch, and number of blades of the screw, most
effective in all the various conditions of wind and sea. A screw of two
blades, each equal to one-sixth part of a convolution, and of a uniform
pitch, was, on the whole, found to be the most efficient, and this is
the screw now adopted in most of the ships of all classes in the British

A propeller of very different construction, which had given great
results in a ship of the Peninsular and Oriental Steamship Company, and
was afterwards exhibited in the docks at Southampton, here claims a
passing notice. This propeller is so constructed as to enable the
engineer to regulate the speed of the piston; for _the pitch of the
screw can be increased or diminished at pleasure_. Thus, with a fair
wind, by increasing the pitch, without increasing the revolutions, the
full power of the engine is effectually exerted in driving the ship,
instead of consuming fuel in driving the engine to no purpose; and with
a headwind, by diminishing the pitch, the engines are made to do their
utmost duty; and when the ship is under canvas only, the blades of the
propeller may be placed in line with the stern-post, and thus offer
little resistance. Another advantage claimed for this propeller (known
as Griffith's) is, that, in the event of breaking a blade, it may be
readily replaced by "tipping the ship"; which method merits careful
consideration by engineers, as does especially every new propeller which
promises a more perfect alliance with canvas.

To resume the narrative,--the speed of the Rattler was afterwards tested
by a trial with the Alecto, a paddle-wheel steamer of equal power,
built from the same moulds; and the result was so favorable, that the
Admiralty ordered the construction or conversion of _twenty-three_
vessels as screw-steamers, and thus was laid the foundation of the
present formidable steam-navy of England.

The superiority which has been asserted for the Princeton was
established during the Mexican War by her performance before Vera Cruz
as a blockading ship of unprecedented efficiency, which, having been
displayed under the admiring observation of a British squadron, tended
more than any other single event to confirm the Admiralty in the
conclusions to be drawn from the experiments just related, and to decide
them in the adoption of the screw as the best auxiliary of sail, the
best mechanical motor upon the ocean. Thus did England, in embracing at
once the practical demonstration of the Princeton, display that forecast
by which she won her ascendency at sea, and the vigilance with which
she maintains it; whilst our own government awaited, in unbecoming
hesitation, the results which England's more extended trials with the
screw might develop.

This cautious policy, rather than the bold and liberal course which the
maritime genius of the country demands, condemned us for long years to
inaction, until, at length, the absolute necessity for the renewal of a
portion of our naval force produced the "Minnesota" class of frigates.
Although they developed little that was absolutely new, they are very
far from being imitations; but in model, capacity, equipment, and above
all in their armament, they have challenged admiration throughout the
world, and called from a distinguished British admiral in command the
significant declaration, that, until he had seen them, he had never
realized his ideal of a perfect man-of-war.

A leading idea in the conception of these ships was to reduce the number
of gun-decks from two and three to a single deck, and, consequently, the
space in which shells could be lodged. This is a consideration which
must, it is believed, sooner or later govern in naval construction;
although France and England, long accustomed to measure the power of
ships by the number of gun-decks, may be more slow in following our lead
in this respect than in imitating the increased calibre of our ordnance.

The new classes of steamers preparing for sea, of which the Hartford and
Iroquois are types, promise to be most efficient ships, and to reflect
much credit upon our naval authorities for their bold, yet judicious
departure from traditions which had long hampered the administration of
this important branch of the public service. Although the reflection is
seldom made, it is nevertheless true, that much of the reputation
enjoyed and of the influence exercised by the United States is due to
the efficiency of her navy; and if these are to remain undiminished,
then it is of the utmost consequence that the national ships should
always represent the highest advancement of nautico-military science.

[Footnote 1: A series of experiments with the screw were made on board
the Dwarf in 1845, and on board the Minx in 1847 and 1848, but the
results did not materially differ from those previously obtained. In the
Rattler, Dwarf, and Minx twenty-nine different propellers were tried.]

The efficiency of the screw having been demonstrated, it was seen that
the next requirement for a war-steamer was to place her machinery below
the waterline; and hence arose a demand for an entirely new description
of engines, which it was clear would make a great change in all the
labors of the engineer and machinist. Such change it was evident would
greatly enhance the risk of failure, and therefore it was determined by
the Admiralty to insure success in this very difficult task by enlisting
all the best talent of the country. Accordingly, for the twenty-three
ships an equal number of screw engines were ordered; and as with the
constructors, so with the engineers, each was required to comply
with certain conditions, yet each was permitted to put forth his own
individuality, and each has illustrated his views of what was required
by a distinct plan of engine.

The wise and liberal action of the British Admiralty, which faltered at
no expense, and made trial of every improvement in machinery that gave
assurance of good performance and promised in any way to increase
the efficiency of the fleet, produced no less than fourteen distinct
varieties of the screw engine. Among them all, Penn's horizontal
trunk-engine appears to be the favorite, and had performed so well
in the Encounter of fourteen guns, the Arrogant of forty-six, the
Imperieuse of fifty, and the Agamemnon of ninety, that two years ago
it had been placed, in about equal proportions of two hundred, four
hundred, six hundred, and eight hundred horse-power, on board of forty
ships and many smaller vessels of the British navy; it had fulfilled all
the promises made for it, without in any instance requiring repairs.
These engines comply with all the conditions reasonably demanded in
the machinery of a man-of-war; they lie very low, and the fewness and
accessibility of their parts leave scarcely anything to be desired;--a
lighter, more compact, or more simple combination has yet to be

In all the ships above referred to the connection of the engines is
direct, and many of them are driven at rates varying from fifty to
seventy-five revolutions. This point is dwelt upon because it is
observed that many engineers find difficulty in freeing themselves from
early impressions made by long-stroke engines, express apprehensions at
fifty and sixty revolutions, and stand ready to obviate the difficulty
by gearing,--which it is hoped may not henceforth be adopted in our
national ships. Geared engines are much heavier than those of direct
connection, and occupy more space,--a great consideration in ships where
room for fuel is in such demand, besides making it more difficult to
place them below the waterline,--a consideration which in men-of-war
should be regarded of paramount importance, as the engines of a
war-steamer should be as secure from shot as her magazine. Experience
has shown that the apprehensions entertained from the quick stroke of
direct engines were without foundation; and that, in auxiliary ships,
with a properly modelled propeller, there will be no necessity for a
very high speed of piston.

The form of engine generally adopted with great success in the later

[Footnote 1: "Its large amount of friction" is an objection often
speciously urged against the trunk-engine, although the friction diagram
shows it to be actually less in this than in most other engines.] of
the United States navy is the "horizontal direct action," with the
connecting-rod returning from a cross-head towards the cylinder;
these engines make from sixty to eighty revolutions per minute.
The steam-valve is a packed slide with but little lap, and the
expansion-valve is an adjustable slide working on the back of the
steam-valve. The boilers are of the vertical water-tube type, with the
tubes above the furnaces, and are supplied with fresh water by tubular
surface-condensers, which, together with the air-pumps, are placed
opposite the cylinders.

While the vessels ordered by the Admiralty were on the stocks, it was
suggested by Mr. Lloyd that the model of their after-bodies was not that
most favorable to speed,--that they were too "full," and that a "finer
run" would be preferable. To settle this question, the Dwarf, a vessel
of fine run, was taken into dock, and her after-body filled out by three
separate layers of planking, so as to give it the form and proportions
of the vessels then building. These layers of planking could be removed
in succession, and the effects of a fuller or finer run upon the speed
of the vessel easily ascertained. A trial was then made, and the result
proved the correctness of Mr. Lloyd's opinion; the removal of the
different layers of planking increasing the speed from 3.75 to 5.75,
to 9, and finally to 11 knots. A trial between the Rifleman and the
Sharpshooter, vessels of four hundred and eighty tons and two hundred
horse-power, and the Minx and Teaser, of three hundred tons and one
hundred horse-power, gave similar results,--the speed in each trial
being twenty-four per cent. in favor of the finer run.

Although great efficiency and economy had now been attained, there was
still an important defect to be remedied, namely, the impediment to
speed and to evolution under sail presented by the dragging propeller;
which was accomplished by the invention of the "trunk" or "well," into
which the propeller can be raised at pleasure; and there is no longer
anything to prevent the construction of a screw-frigate which shall be
fit to accompany, under canvas only, a fleet of fast sailers, with the
assurance that she may arrive at the point of destination in company
with her consorts, having in reserve all her steam-power.

The mechanism by which the emersion of the screw is effected is as
follows:--There are two stern-posts; between these, and connecting them
with each other and with the keel, is a massive metallic frame, in which
rests another frame, or _chassis_, in which the screw is suspended; near
the water-line, the deck and wales are extended to the after stern-post,
and through an opening or trunk in this overhanging stern the frame
suspending the screw is raised by worms, working in a rack secured to
the frame, and operated from the deck, as shown in the accompanying
drawing,--or by a tackle, as is now most common. In the British ship
Agamemnon, of ninety guns, the propeller is raised by a hydrostatic
pump,--a neat arrangement, but liable to get out of order. When it is
desirable to raise the propeller, the blades are first placed in a
vertical position, and the operation of lifting is performed in a few

The relative advantages of the propeller fitted to lift, and that which
is permanently fixed, have long been the subject of much discussion.

For merchant steamers, having an established route to perform, on which
the aid of steam is in constant demand, it is generally conceded that
the position of the screw should be permanent. The construction of the
ship is then less costly, while greater strength is preserved; and as
these vessels are out of port but for short intervals, should repairs be
needed, they have access to the docks. But for men-of-war the case is
widely different. Having frequently to keep the sea for long periods,
much under canvas, and often far distant from a dock-yard, they should
be provided with the means of lifting the screw to repair or to clear
it, or to be relieved from the impediment it offers to sailing and to
evolution, and also from the injurious "shake" occasioned by a dragging

[Illustration: MODE OF LIFTING SCREW.]

On the other hand, the construction of a trunk or well impairs the
solidity of the stern, renders it much more vulnerable, and weakens its
defences, while it opposes to speed the very considerable resistance of
the after stern-post.[*] Nevertheless, no modern ship of the British
navy is without the means of raising her propeller, and the best opinion
of commanders and engineers of that service, of longest experience in
screw-ships, goes to establish the conviction, that, for men-of-war, the
advantages of being able to lift the propeller far more than outweigh
the objections urged against lifting. In this connection we mention the
fact, that all screw-ships "by the wind" have a strong tendency to
gripe. Would not this be obviated by having a gate or slide to fill out
the dead-wood when the screw is lifted?

[Footnote *: Might not a metallic stern-post, combining strength,
lightness, and little resistance, be introduced?]

The best illustration of the effects of a dragging propeller was
afforded on the departure of a Russian squadron from Cronstadt, bound to
the Amoor, in 1857-'58, consisting of three sloops of war bark-rigged,
and three three-masted schooners, under the flag of Commodore
Kouznetsoff. The vessels of each class were built from the same
moulds, and at the time of the experiment were of the same draft and
displacement. On clearing the land, signal was made to lift screws and
make sail. Soon after, all the squadron reported the execution of the
order, except the Voyerada sloop, which had the misfortune to break a
key in the couplings, and therefore could not lift her screw. Every
effort was tried to get out the key, and meanwhile a very instructive
example was presented to the squadron of the effect of a dragging
propeller on the speed of the vessel. The circumstances were as
follows:--The wind, a gentle breeze, right aft; the Voyerada carrying
all sail but the main course; the other two sloops holding way with
her with their topsails on the cap, and the schooners with their peaks
dropped. Under these conditions, the Voyerada, having her screw-blades
fixed horizontally, could scarcely keep her position, running two and a
half and three knots. The Voyerada next succeeded in getting her screw
vertical, when, without any change in the wind, the speed increased to
four and a half knots. The other sloops then mastheaded their topsails,
and the schooners peaked their gaffs. At length the Voyerada succeeded
in lifting her screw, when immediately all the sloops under the same
canvas continued their course, making six to six and a half knots. A
better example of the obstruction offered by a dragging propeller could
not have been afforded.[1]

The "shake," to which reference has been made, is the tremulous or
vibratory motion communicated to the after-body of the ship, and
particularly to the stern, by the revolution of the propeller, often
opening the seams, and in old ships sometimes starting the butts and
causing dangerous leaks. This movement arises from two causes,--one
inherent in the screw, the other due to its position in the deadwood.
The first cause is the difference in the propelling efficiency of the
upper and lower blades when in any other position than horizontal. The
centre of pressure of the lower blade, being at a greater depth below
the surface than the centre of pressure of the upper blade, acts upon a
medium of greater resistance to displacement, and the differential of
the pressures of the two blades produces inevitably a vibratory motion
in the stern of the vessel. This effect is greatly increased when the
clearance given to the screw in the dead-wood is too small; for the
reduction of the hydrostatic pressure at the stern-post, and the
increase of it at the rudder-post, on each passage of the blades, must
be followed by concussion. Therefore, if the "well," or distance between
the posts, be made sufficiently long in proportion to the screw, the
"shake" due to the latter cause can be almost entirely obviated.

In 1851, the British Admiralty selected three auxiliary screw-ships, of
different classes and qualities, for an experimental cruise, namely:--

[Footnote 1: _Russian Nautical Magazine_, No. XLI., December, 1857.]

| Guns. | Horse | Screw. | Speed. | Day's | Sail
| | Power. | | | Fuel. | Equipment
The | | | 2 | 9 | 8 |
Arrogant | 46 | 360 | blades | knots | days | Ship full rig
The | | | 2 | 11 | 11 |
Dauntless | 24 | 580 | blades | knots | days | Ship light rig
The | | | 2 | 10-1/2 | 6 |
Encounter | 14 | 360 | blades | knots | days | Barque

They were ordered to pass round the Azores, each ship holding
her course, and using sail or steam, or both, as was deemed most
advantageous. An officer was sent on board each ship to keep a record of
her performance, and to note the time when and the position where, the
coal being entirely consumed, the contest ended. In this trial, the
Arrogant was found superior to the Dauntless, and both of them far
excelled the Encounter; indeed, no very different result was expected,
the object of the trial being to ascertain their relative as well as
positive value. These ships afterwards formed a part of the experimental
squadron stationed at Lisbon in the same year, which was composed of the
finest ships in the British navy.

It was believed by many officers, that a fast-sailing frigate, in a
reefed-topsail breeze, would be able to get away from any screw-ship;
but in a trial that took place between the Arethusa and the Encounter,
and the Phaeton and Arrogant, under circumstances the most favorable to
the sail-ships, it was found that the screw-ships, using both steam and
sail, had decidedly the superiority,--and that in fresh gales, with one,
two, or three reefs in the topsails, either "by the wind," or "going
free," the Phaeton and the Arethusa, the fastest sail-frigates in
the navy, were always beaten by the Arrogant. This result operated
powerfully in removing the repugnance to steam existing among all
classes of seamen; and the vast superiority of well-organized
screw-ships for the purposes of war is now so apparent, as to render
them the most important and indispensable part of every navy.

While the English were engaged in the trials here related, their rivals
on the opposite coast were not indifferent spectators. The French
were nearly as soon in the field of modern screw experiment as their
neighbors; and did the limits of this paper permit, it would be
instructive, as well as interesting, to trace the ingenious and
persevering steps by which they also approached the solution of that
difficult problem, the construction of a screw-man-of-war.

The first result of their efforts, La Pomone, screw-frigate, was shown
to the world in 1844, and after careful inspection, (in 1853,) it is
affirmed, such was the perfection of her general organization, that she
has hardly been excelled by any of her younger sisters.

The most complete course of experiments ever made, perhaps, with the
new motor, was that carried out by MM. Bourgois and Moll, of the French
navy, in 1847 and '48, which they verified by a second series in 1849.
These experiments were instituted to ascertain the relative efficiency
of all varieties of the screw-propeller, upon vessels of different
models and dimensions, and under all the varying conditions of wind and
sea, in order to determine the propeller best adapted to each particular
description of ship.[*]

Necessarily brief as is the notice of Gallic ingenuity and skill, the
acknowledgment must be made, that, for the invention of the trunk or
well, with its attendant advantages, navigation is indebted to Commander
Labrousse, of the French navy; and for a novel arrangement of the screw-
propeller, which has not attracted all the notice it deserves,
obligations are due to M. Allix, a distinguished engineer of that
service; and the propeller more recently introduced by M. Mangin, of the
same corps, if it performs all that is claimed for it, namely, that it
does away with the "shake," will be of great value.

[Footnote *: For a most interesting and instructive memoir upon these
experiments, the reader is referred to that admirable work, by Captain
E. Paris, of the French navy, _L'Helice Propulsive_.]

In concluding this recognition of the contributions by France to
screw-propulsion, it is desired to submit a few general observations on
the French navy; for, although upon every sea the tri-color waves
over ships proudly comparing with those under any other flag, it is
nevertheless too commonly believed that the docks of France are crowded
and her navy-list swollen with hulks which are but the mouldering
mementos of the vast armaments hastily created during the Consulate and
the Empire; an illusion most hazardous to our interests abroad and our
security at home.

At the period of _the coup d'etat_ of 1851, a Committee of Inquiry,
composed of the most experienced and intelligent officers and
distinguished legislators, had visited all departments of the navy, and
made the most careful investigations into every branch of the service.
Upon the evidence thus obtained, a report was submitted, providing for
the improvement of the condition of the officers and seamen, and the
increase, renewal, and remodelling of the _materiel_,--in fine, for the
correction of every abuse, the remedy of every evil, and the development
of all good existing in the navy. This report, stamped on every page
with patriotism and intelligence, commanded, even in the midst of
revolution, the support of all parties, the adhesion of every faction;
and has since, through all changes in the Ministry of the Marine, formed
the basis of the action of that department.

Under these auspices, France has in the last seven years organized the
means of promptly putting to sea a numerous fleet, composed of the most
modern and most powerful steamers, manned by efficient crews, commanded
by skilful officers; and now worthily maintains a position as a naval
power second only to that of Great Britain. At this moment, whilst
the British fleet includes but thirty-six screw line-of-battle ships,
mounting 3,400 guns, and propelled by 19,759 horse-power, that of France
may boast of forty such ships, mounting 3,700 guns, propelled by 27,500
horse-power; and while England has but thirty-eight screw-frigates,
France has forty-two.

In thus briefly summing up the forces of our ocean rivals, we cannot
avoid making some reflections suggested by the unpreparedness of this
country to meet any sudden burst of hostility. This not only involves
the risk of national humiliation, but paralyzes our diplomacy; since it
deprives us of that influence among the nations, which otherwise--from
the breadth of our territory, the value of our products, the activity
of our industry, the importance of our commerce, and the extent of our
maritime resources--we of right should hold.

No country is more interested than the United States in the maintenance
of peace; yet, even on the principle of economy, we may argue in favor
of a degree of preparation for war; for that calamity may best be
averted by taking from foreign powers the temptation to interfere with
us: all history showing that the justice and friendship of military
states are but slender guaranties for the peace of a nation unprepared
for attack.

It is vain to talk of husbanding financial resources for war, without
other preparation. When once embarked in hostilities, and in a position
to maintain our ground, large finances, judiciously used, will
ultimately command success; but no accumulation of funds can provide a
timely remedy for that weakness which cannot resist the first blow.

The national safety should no longer be left to chance, but be
established on a basis of certainty. A navy cannot be manufactured nor a
fortress built to meet an emergency, but should be kept ready-made.

In considering the auxiliary screw-frigate under the views already
offered, and in determining the canvas with which she should be
supplied, it will be well to refer, as the best guide, to the fastest
sail-ships,--the class which presents the greatest similarity in form to
that demanded in screw-ships. In these ships the great length of deck
offers every facility for the most advantageous spread of canvas;
consequently the centre of effort may he kept low, and the requisite
power and stability combined.

Intimately connected with her sailing-power is another branch of the
equipment of a screw-ship, which requires the most earnest, patient, and
intelligent consideration. Prepared to endure all the wear and tear of a
sail-ship, she should at the same time be ready for transmutation into
a steam-ship; namely, when, for any urgent service, her best powers of
steaming are required, she should be able to divest herself speedily of
yards and top-masts, and, the special service completed, resume all her
perfection as a sail-ship.

It would be out of place here to enter into details of equipment. In
naval affairs nothing is improvised, and a satisfactory conclusion upon
these points can be arrived at only through long experiment, and perhaps
frequent disappointment. Yet it is not doubted that the same ship may
exhibit a handy and efficient rig, develop a high velocity canvas, and,
without great power, a sufficient speed under steam.

In our navy, away from our own coast, sail must of necessity be the
rule, and steam the reserve or special power; and without abandonment of
our anti-colonial policy--with the depots of our rivals upon every sea,
yet not a ton of coal upon which we can rely--we should not dare to send
abroad a single ship which, whenever she gets up her anchor, must needs
also get up her steam.

Fortunately, in the creation of a steam-fleet, the United States will
not have to encounter tedious and costly experiments, nor to incur the
risk of failure.[1] The best form of hull, model of propeller, and plan
of engine are already so well established, that it is not easy to fall
into error; that which is most to be guarded against is the popular
demand, the prevailing mania for high speed,--for which single advantage
there is such a proneness to sacrifice every other warlike quality. That
measure of speed or power which will enable a ship to stem the currents
of rivers, to enter or leave a port in the face of a moderate gale, or
to meet the dangers of a lee-shore, should, it is conceived by many, be
sufficient; and for these exigencies a ship, which, with four months
supplies on board, can in calm weather and smooth water make nine to ten
knots under steam, has ample power. This moderate rate is far below the
popular mark; but, in considering this important question, it should not
be forgotten, that, unlike the paddle, the screw will always cooeperate
with sail,--and that, if a ship would go far under steam, she must be
content to go gently. The natural law regulating the speed of a ship
is, that the power requisite to propel her varies as the cube of the

[Footnote 1: The constructors and engineers of the navy are unsurpassed
in professional art or science, and when conjoined with naval
officers--who should always determine the war-like essentials of
ships--they are capable of producing a steam-fleet that would meet the
requirements of all reasonable conditions. We venture to say, that
the failures with which they have been charged would be found,
on investigation, to be solely attributable to undue extraneous

Let it be distinctly understood what power is here meant. As the power
applied to the propulsion of a vessel is only that which acts upon her
in the direction of the keel,--and as, of the gross indicated power
developed by her engine, one portion is absorbed in working the organs
of its mechanism, another in overcoming the friction of the load, while
still other proportions are expended in the slip of the propeller and
in the friction of its surfaces on the water,--only that portion of
the gross power which remains is applied to propulsion; and it is this
remainder which varies in the ratio of the cube of the speed.

Hence a steamer, that with five hundred horse-power can make eight knots
per hour, will require rather more than one thousand horse-power to
drive her at the speed of ten knots,--the law being thus modified by the
increased resistance consequent upon the greater weight of the large
engines; and thus a limit to speed is imposed, depending upon the weight
of machinery which, relative to her dimensions, a ship can carry. A
ship, that at the rate of ten knots under steam may run twelve hundred
miles, can, at the speed of eight knots, and with the expenditure of
rather less fuel, run the distance of eighteen hundred miles; and
therefore it is, many contend, that a man-of-war for distant service
should not be laden with large engines, whose full power can rarely be
wanted, and which monopolize so great a space and displacement as to
render it impossible to carry fuel for their proper development.

It is true, that, with large power of engine, the vessel may command,
so long as her coals last, the advantage of high speed, and her large
cylinders will enable her, by working the steam very expansively, to use
her fuel with great economy; but there still remains the disadvantage of
the increased first cost of the machinery, and its greater weight and
bulk, to be permanently carried, whether used or not, and which, by
increasing the displacement of the vessel, proportionally diminishes her

The last great improvement in connection with the screw remains to
be noticed, namely, lining the "bushings" and "bearings" with
lignum-vitae,--the invention of Mr. Penn, of Greenwich, near London.

The lignum-vitae is introduced in the manner shown in the drawing. In
connection therewith, it must be said, that the length and diameter of
bearings has been increased far beyond the proportions of former years.
The "brasses" are bored out about three-sixteenths of an inch larger
than the shaft; then the recesses are slotted out for the reception of
the wooden strips. If care be taken with this part of the operation, any
number of strips can be supplied ready fitted, and to put in a set of
spare strips becomes a short and simple operation.


Strange as it appears, these wooden bearings are far more durable than
those of metal, and in some ships they have endured for years without
any perceptible wear in those parts which, previously to this invention,
had occasioned so much trouble and expense. But for this important
discovery, it is thought by some of the most competent engineers that
they would have been compelled to abandon the use of the screw in heavy

The Napoleon, the type of the new steam-ships of the line in the French
navy, is a good illustration of a first-class, full-powered steamer.

Her dimensions are as follows:--

Length extreme. 262 6.40
Length at load-line. 234 0.94
Beam. 53 8.38
Height between decks. 6 8.72
Height of lower port sill. 7 2.63
Depth of hold. 26 9.34
Deep-load draft. 25 3
Immersed cross section, sq. ft. 1063.48
Displacement. tons. 6050
Diameter of cylinders. 8 2.45
Length of stroke. 5 3.06
Diameter of propeller. (4 bladed) 19 0.70
Pitch " " mean) 37 11

She has eight boilers, each having five furnaces, consuming, at full
speed, (12.14 knots,) 143 tons of coal per day, for which she stows five
days' supply. The boilers and engines occupy eighty-two feet in the
length of the ship.

The trial of this ship has established the practicability of adapting a
propeller to a ship of the largest class, so as to insure great speed,
and constitute a most effective man-of-war for certain purposes and
in certain situations; but when the great weight of the engines is
considered, and the large space they occupy in the vessel,--thereby
diminishing the stowage of supplies,--and further, that, after the coal
is exhausted, the ninety-gun ship has but the sail of a sixty-gun ship
to rely upon, it is not easy to avoid the conclusion, that, however
useful such a vessel may be for short passages,[1] and in those seas in
which her supplies of coal and provisions may be constantly replenished,
her sphere of action must be very limited, and she could not be relied
upon for the long cruises and various services on which an ordinary
line-of-battle ship is employed.

[Footnote 1: For debarking a regiment or two of Zouaves on the shores of
the Adriatic or upon the coast of Ireland.]

A ship constructed on the plan of the Napoleon, for the sake of gaining
a speed of twelve knots per hour for the distance of about two thousand
two hundred miles, is compelled to sacrifice a great part of her
efficiency in several most important particulars.

In time of war, at short distances from port, for the defence of bays or
harbors or the Florida channel, for the speedy transport of troops to an
adjacent coast, or to force a blockade, such a vessel would undoubtedly
be a most valuable addition to our navy: but her employment must
necessarily be confined to such circumstances and such situations; for
should she unluckily fall in with an enemy's squadron, with her coal
expended, or her machinery rendered useless by any of the numerous
accidents to which steam-machinery is so constantly exposed, with her
comparatively light rig, and want of stability in consequence of losing
so great a weight of coals, she would hardly prove a very formidable

Therefore, while admitting the importance and necessity of providing
for special service a small class of fast, full-power steamers, it is
submitted that the auxiliary screw-steamer is the description of ship to
which the largest and best consideration should be devoted; for to the
nation possessing the most efficient fleet of such vessels must belong
the dominion of the sea. And while their cost is counted, let it at the
same time be remembered that their value can be estimated only by the
character of the service they may render, and that their capacity for
aggression abroad makes them the best defence at home.

Having briefly referred to the various views entertained in regard to
the steam-power with which the navy should be furnished, it will be
seen that a difference of opinion on this important subject may most
reasonably be entertained.

None can doubt the advantages of celerity to a man-of-war, yet many
believe it would be too dearly purchased by the sacrifice of space to
such an extent as would require supplies to be often replenished; as
this necessity would in war confine the operations of the navy to our
own shores.

On the other hand, it is admitted, that, without high speed, a ship of
war cannot exercise many of her most important functions,--that she can
neither choose an engagement, protect a convoy, nor enforce a blockade.

The best experience affirms the policy of giving to our cruisers as
large steampower as is consistent with a due development of all other
warlike qualities; for what would avail the superior armament of a ship,
if the option of fighting or flying remain with her adversary, which
must be the case when the latter commands higher speed? The introduction
of improved ordnance, throwing heavy shells with great precision at
long ranges, gives increased importance to celerity; for in any future
fleet-fight, victory should belong to that flag having at command a
steam-squadron of superior speed, which may thereby be concentrated upon
any point without having been long under fire.

May not the command of a maximum speed of thirteen knots be obtained
from the machinery now employed for a maximum speed of ten knots? It
evidently may, and with great economy, too, by the simple introduction
of artificial draft, and the use of steam of higher pressure, when
requiring the highest speed. At present, in our men-of-war, the boilers
are proportioned for natural draft, burning about twelve pounds of coal
per square foot of grate per hour, and for a steam-pressure of fifteen
pounds per square inch. If, then, the boilers be proportioned to burn at
the maximum, with blowers, say twenty-two pounds of coal to the square
foot of grate, and to generate steam of forty pounds to the square inch,
we shall double the power developed by the machinery, and consequently
derive from it the same speed that could be attained without blowers
from double the machinery; while the natural draft and the usual
pressure of fifteen pounds would give sufficient speed for ordinary
service. The inconvenience of the higher pressure with blowers could
well be endured for the short and occasional periods during which they
would be required.

To create a perfect screw-frigate, a ship with sail-power complete, and
efficient for any service that may be required, the endeavor should be
made--by getting rid of every dispensable article of weight or bulk, and
without reducing supplies below three months' provisions and six weeks'
water--to find space and displacement for an engine of sufficient force
to drive her thirteen knots an hour, together with at least ten
days' full consumption of fuel; and this, it is believed, might be
successfully accomplished in ships of the dimensions of the Wabash,
beginning with a judicious reduction of spare spars, spare sails, and
spare gear, and by the addition of blowers to their present machinery: a
subject which should immediately receive the earnest consideration of a
commission of the most intelligent officers.

Having fixed upon the proportions of hull and spars, the form of
propeller, and the plan of engine, a cautious discrimination should be
exercised in multiplying the types of either. Besides economy, many
other advantages would flow from a judicious regard to similarity in
build; as it would permit us to relieve our ships of many of the spare
spars with which they are incumbered, and we should probably not again
hear of suspending the operations of a frigate thousands of miles away,
until a crank or rod could be sent to her; because, when ships of the
same class are cruising together, by a careful distribution of spare
spars and machinery among them, it is hardly probable that damage would
be sustained, or loss of spars or "break down" occur, which might not be
remedied by the resources of the squadron.

On the other hand, this system not be carried to a Chinese extreme, lest
we follow too long a false direction,--thus losing the advantage of
improvements constantly being made. For such is the change in all things
pertaining to maritime war, that neither model of hull, plan of engine,
nor mould of ordnance is best, unless of the latest creation. True
progress will be most judiciously sought in not departing too suddenly
and widely from the established order.


A great many circumstances led me to decide on leaving the convenient
boarding-house of Mrs. Silvernail: a house correctly described as
containing several "modern improvements": improperly, as being "in the
immediate vicinity of all the places of public amusement." For, as the
Central Park of New York is a place of public amusement, so likewise is
Barnum's Museum; and these two places being at a distance of about five
miles from each other, how could any one house be in the immediate
vicinity of both? But it was not upon this incompatibility that any of
my objections were founded.

If I have a prejudice, it is against being talked _at_ instead of _to_.
Now Mrs. Silvernail, who, like the katydid of the poplar-tree, if small,
was shrill, had a way of conveying instructions to her boarders by
means of parables ostensibly directed at Catharine, the tall Irish
serving-maid, but in reality meant for the ear of the obnoxious boarder
who had lately transgressed some important statute of the house, made
and provided to meet a case or cases.

A landing-place on the stairs was usually the platform selected for the
delivery of a monologue, in which Catharine was always assumed to be
the person addressed; although I have known instances in which that
"excellent wench" was, at the time of being so conferred with, in the
grocery at the corner, about half a block distant, as I could see from
the window where I sat and viewed her protracting her doorway dalliance
with Jeremiah Tomaters, the grocer's efficient young man.

"Catharine," my landlady would say in a loudish whisper, close by a
malefactor's chamber-door, and probably when Catharine was yet far down
the street,--"Catharine, who let the water in the bathroom run over just
now? If the slippers he left behind him a'n't Mr. Jennings's, I declare!
Boarders must be warned an' watched, elseways we shall hev all in the
house afloat, 'cepting the stoves an' flat-irons, by-'n'-by. Somebody at
Mrs. Moyler's acted so, and the house was like a roarin' sea, with the
baby adrift in his little cradle, and the roaches a-swimmin' round. Oh,

Now Mr. Jennings was the serious boarder, who lodged in the room just
over mine: a man who, from general indications, had never had a bath in
his life; certainly he had never troubled the waters in that house. I
was the supposed delinquent, and at me the parable was levelled.

"Catharine, whose pass-key was that you found in the door? It's a mussy
we wasn't all a-murdered and a-plundered in cold blood, by the light
o' the moon! Mr. Jennings's night-key it must have been, to be sure!
Boarders must be warned and watched. When Mrs. Toyler's nephew's
night-key was found in the door of Number Forty-Seven, the boarders all
went off at daylight in an omnibus, takin' away custom and character
from the house forever."

Now Mr. Jennings, the serious boarder, was always in bed and asleep long
before latch-key time came round; and even supposing he ever _had_ let
himself in by means of that mischievous little convenience, he would as
soon have thought of taking the door up to bed with him as of leaving
the key in it. The parable was intended for the hearing of a young man
who occupied the room opposite mine, and who, being connected with
clubs, came home nobody ever knew when or in what condition, but had red
eyes o' mornings and a general odor of the convivial kind.

Then, again, Mrs. Silvernail had a way of being always about the doors
of the rooms, and a faculty, as I thought, of hovering near several of
them at one and the same moment. There are men who will turn the least
promising circumstance to advantage,--even that of being listened at
through a keyhole, while they discourse to themselves about affairs
connected with their most cherished and secret designs. One Captain
Dunnitt, who lived in the house before I came, adroitly made his account
of this eavesdropping propensity of the landlady, by settling his weekly
bill with a silver-mounted pistol, instead of the dollars justly due.
He had been a tragedian as well as a captain, and was saturated with
Shakspeare and other bards to a far greater amount than with money; and
when his week came round, he used to stride up and down his room with
much gnashing of teeth and other stage indications of distress, finally
settling down into a chair before the table, on which he would place and
replace a packet of letters and a wisp of unromantic-looking hair. Then
he would take the little silver pistol from his breast, and, after the
usual soliloquy of "To be or not to be," or something equally to the
purpose, would point it at his temples just as the landlady came
bursting into the room, begging him for all sakes not to "ruin the
character of her second-best room, and the walls newly painted at that!"
Remorse would then double up the manly form of Captain Dunnitt, who
would fall on his knees before the landlady,--"his benefactress! his
better angel!"--and then arrangements would be entered into by which he
was not to commit suicide for the present, but could avail himself of
the landlady's indulgence and wait for "that remittance," which was
always coming, but which never came.

But there were more serious objections, even than a landlady of shrill
parables and an inquiring turn of mind, to my prolonging the delights of
a residence at the first-class boarding-house of Mrs. Silvernail. Not
the least of these was the fact of its _being_ a boarding-house,--a
community. In such communities, from the inevitable intercourse over
the social board, your circle of acquaintance is always liable to be
extended rather than improved. In them there is no escape from the
disinterested offers of those who would be your perpetual friends. I am
still under lasting obligations to a man who, at a boarding-house in
which I sojourned for but three days, forced on me a pipeful of an
extremely choice and luxurious kind of tobacco, to dilate on the
properties of which he came and smoked about a quarter of a pound of it
in my room that very evening, and far on into the morning light. His
goodness is the more impressed upon my memory, because, on the same
occasion, he drank the greater part of the contents of a large
willow-bound bottle of old St. Croix rum, which I had just received
from a friend who had imported it direct. Then, in boarding-house
communities, one's magnetism is as much at fault as that of a ship
sailing up a river whose rock-bound shores are impregnated with iron
elements. I knew a man who was over-magnetized to the extent of
matrimony by the lady of the house,--a widow, and a shrew. He hated, or
at least professed to hate her, and had ridiculous stories about her to
no end; but she married him, and he still lives. Another, of a
rather unsociable turn, rejected the proffered civilities of all his
fellow-boarders who ever came to offer him rations of curious
tobacco or to assist him in performing a libation of old and valuable
Hollands. The only one of the party to whom he ever "cottoned" was the
latest comer, a smoothed-out, blandulose kind of man, who smoked up all
his cunning cigars, made sad havoc among his Hollanders of gin, departed
from that house in an unexpected manner and his friend's best trousers,
in the pockets of which he had bestowed that friend's rarest gems and
gold, and is now serving out a term allotted to him in the State Prison,
in recognition of the remarkable abilities displayed by him in the
character of what the police call a "confidence man."

And yet there are more objectionable boarding-house acquaintances than
people who insist upon sharing with you their friendship, be they
"confidence men" or not. I suppose we may allow, in these advanced
times, that it is something like magnetism which decides the question of
affinity and its reverse. But, in granting this, I will take the liberty
of observing that external and palpable facts have a considerable effect
in directing the currents of magnetism. For example, and to adopt the
language of scientific men, the insignificant circumstance of a person
habituating himself to the partial deglutition of his knife, while
partaking of food, may produce antipathetic emotions on the part of
others, whom prejudice or superstition has led to regard the knife as
an article designed for cutting only. This kind of outrage I allude
to merely for the purpose of illustrating a case. In first-class
boarding-houses, like that of Mrs. Silvernail, such rusticities have
long since become traditional, and of the things that have passed away;
and, indeed, so particular was that lady with regard to her knives,
that, had a boarder swallowed even a part of one, he would undoubtedly
have heard the deed alluded to through the keyhole of his chamber-door
on the following day, in the form of a parable having for its hero the
justified Mr. Jennings, our serious young man.

If external and palpable circumstances, then, are admitted to have a
decided effect upon streams of magnetism, I suppose we may assume that
they have also a certain power of determining impressions by themselves,
without the intervention of any of the more subtile agencies whatever.
The granting of this postulate will put me on quite easy terms with
regard to the very positive objection entertained by me towards
a certain Mr. Desole Arcubus, who, by provision of an immutable
Medo-Persic edict promulgated by Mrs. Silvernail, occupied the
chair next mine at the first-rate table of that rigid expounder of
boarding-house law.

Mr. Desole Arcubus, a young man of some three or four and twenty, had no
special nationality about him from which one could guess how he came by
his rather uncommon names. He was reputed to be learned, particularly
in the modern languages; had a profusion of long, wild hair of a
greenish-drab hue, which matched his complexion exactly,--this prevalent
tint being infused also into the _cornea_ or "white" of his eye,--and,
in physical proportions, was of weedy and unwholesome growth. He was not
a young man of cheerful disposition. On the contrary, his deportment at
table, where alone his fellow-boarders had any opportunity of observing
him, was such as to induce a very general belief that his mind must have
been affected by some terrible calamity; and his presence, indeed, was
looked upon as undesirable by many of the guests, whose health had begun
to suffer seriously from the manner in which Arcubus used to groan
between his instalments of food. Sometimes, in the interval between
the soup and the solids, he would lean his elbows upon the table, and,
burying his face in his hands, so that his long, sad hair swept the
board, would abandon himself for a brief space to private despondency,
until the boiled leg of mutton brought with it a necessity for renewed

Nor was the social feeling of distrust of this unhappy young man allayed
when the party learned, through a boarder of detective instincts, that
Mr. Desole Arcubus was an enthusiast in scientific pursuits, and that
the "romance of a poor young man," as shadowed out by him, was no
romance at all, but an unpleasant reality. Toxicology was the branch of
science to which Mr. Arcubus had for some time past been devoting his
mind. For fourteen hours a day he worked assiduously in the laboratory
of an eminent analytical chemist, whose practice in connection with the
coroner was of a flourishing and increasing kind, owing to the growing
taste for suicide, and the preference given to poisons over any other
means for accomplishing that irrevocable wrong. In this chamber of
horrors,--a court of which the tests were the stern, incorruptible
ordinances of Nature,--he had already gone steadily through a course
which gave him a mastery over the secrets of the relative poisons, with
which he laughed secretly now, and played as securely as a child might
with a dog-rose of whose thorns he had been made aware. But of late, his
haggard features, and the start with which he would wake into life when
a guest haply plucked a flower from the bouquets on the table, or when
the handmaiden came round to him with a dish of leguminous vegetables,
could readily have been traced by a clairvoyant to associations
connected with the ghastly belladonna and with the deadly bean of
St. Ignatius the Martyr. For Mr. Arcubus had now arrived at the
investigation of the positive poisons,--a fact which might have revealed
itself to the man of science by the general narcotico-acrid expression
into which he had settled down bodily; while the most casual observer
might have gathered from his incoherent contributions to the table-talk
that some noxious drug was envenoming the cup of his life.

He had a way of thinking aloud, and, as his thoughts always ran on the
subject of his studies, the expression of them sometimes dovetailed
curiously with the general conversation.

"Miss Rocket will not come down to dinner, poor thing!" said Mrs.
Silvernail, in her choicest table-manner. "She has lost her beautiful
Angola kitten. It slipped into the glass globe, this morning, among the
gold-fishes, and was drowned."

"Digested in water, several of its constituents are dissolved," said Mr.
Arcubus, in a husky voice, looking wildly at the picture on his plate.

"You have a _specialite_ for puddings, I perceive, Madam," remarked a
smiling old gentleman, a new-comer, addressing himself to the hostess;
"may I ask now of what this very excellent one is composed?"

"Sulphate of lime, potash, oil, resin, extractive matter, gluten, _et
cetera, et cetera_," put in Mr. Arcubus, still following out his train
of thought.

"During the process of evaporation, a black substance is precipitated,"
continued he; and at that very moment, the small colored boy, running
to pour out some water for the wild boarder, who had just arrived in an
excited condition from a rowing match, caught his foot in the carpet,
and came to the floor with a crash.

"Black oxide of Mercury, called _Ethiops per se_," pursued Mr. Arcubus,
grappling with his tangled hair.

"Do just try a drop or two of this Hollands of mine in that iced water;
it is positively dangerous to drink it so," said an attentive boarder to
Mrs. Silvernail, who certainly _did_ look warm.

"Absorbs oxygen readily, when brought to a red heat," said Mr. Arcubus,
abstractedly, as he pulled at his long fingers and made their joints

"Who is the tall lady who dined here yesterday with Miss Rocket, and
talked so enthusiastically about woman's rights?" inquired the serious
boarder of Mrs. Silvernail.

"Prepared by deflagration in a crucible, one part of nitre with two of
powdered tartar," proceeded Mr. Arcubus.

"What do you think of that sample of mixed tobacco I gave you to try?"
asked the wild boarder of another, whom Mrs. Silvernail used to speak of
with fear and doubt. "When heated, it readily sublimes in the form of
a dense white vapor," said Mr. Arcubus, confidently, "disagreeably
affecting the nose and eyes."

"I hope you are not going to bring another dog into the house, Mr.
Puglock," remonstrated Mrs. Silvernail, addressing the wild boarder, to
whose conversation she had been lending a sharp ear. "Re'lly now, I must
restrict the number of dogs; we have three here already, I believe."

"There is a strong analogy between the virus injected into wounds made
by the teeth of a rabid dog and that found in the poison-apparatus of
venomous snakes," brought in Mr. Arcubus, diving his fork truculently
into a ripe tomato.

This last observation of Mr. Arcubus, together with the fact that the
blade of his knife had manifestly turned black, while all the other
blades at table were as bright as silver, decided me. I packed up my
portmanteau and writing-case that evening, and, having settled with
my wondering landlady, to whom I accounted for my sudden departure
by pleading expediency as to important affairs, took leave of that
estimable widow, and drove away to a distant hotel, from which I sallied
forth early next morning to look for lodgings,--furnished lodgings for
single gentlemen, without board,--for against boarding-houses I had set
my face forever.

A peculiar feature of life in lodgings in New York, as in other large
cities, is the incomparable solitude attainable in that blessed state of
deliverance from promiscuous "board." One may dwell for a twelvemonth
in lodgings for single gentlemen, without incurring the obligation of
knowing by sight, or even by name, the lodger who occupies the very
room opposite to his, on the same landing. Fifty lodgers may have
successively lived in those "apartments" during the twelve months, on
the same terms of perfect isolation from one who would rather mind his
own business than make any inquiries regarding theirs. And so it is,
that, of all the stage-pieces which have achieved popularity in our day,
none is more faithful to the facts than the often-repeated one of "Box
and Cox"; yet, but for the exigencies of the drama, which, of course,
has for its principal object the development of a plot, there would have
been no necessity whatever for bringing Box on a footing of acquaintance
with Cox,--still less for attributing to either of them an idea of his
landlady's name.

For several months I lived contentedly in the house selected by me, up
one pair of stairs, in a room looking out into a busy street,--a street
so narrow, that the trees at one side of it, whenever a reviving breeze
brought with it a subject for greeting and congratulation, shook hands
in quite a friendly manner with those at the other. To illustrate the
isolation of a residence in these lodgings, I may as well state,
that, during all the time of my sojourn there, I never arrived at the
knowledge of my landlady's name. It was not graven upon the house-door,
and, as a knowledge of it was of no immediate consequence to any of my
occupations, nor likely to be, I never asked about it from the old woman
who kept the rooms in order, and to whom I seldom spoke, except upon the
weekly occasion of handing to her the amount due to the landlady, with
whom I never had any interview after the day I agreed with her for the
lodgings. I believe there was a landlord,--if that be the proper term to
apply to a man who is the husband of a landlady, and nothing else. From
my window I once observed a man who might have been the landlord, a man
of subdued appearance, accompanying the lady of the house to church.
Subsequently, as I came in one evening rather earlier than usual, the
same person was leaning against the railings by the hall-door, smoking a
cigar. He greeted me as I passed in, addressing me in an interrogative
manner with one word, the only one I ever heard him utter,--


To which, as I supposed him to be a foreigner, unacquainted with the
English tongue, I replied at random in the only word of German of which
I happen to be master,--


And this was the only communication I ever had with people of the house,
excepting occasional conversations with the dust-colored old woman who
cleaned the windows and swept the floors; while, with regard to a dozen
or two of lodgers who succeeded each other from time to time in the
other disposable rooms of the house, I never saw one of them, nor was
acquainted with them otherwise than by footstep,--and that rather
infelicitously at one time, in the case of something which went either
upon crutches or wooden legs, and which occupied the room immediately
over mine. This was in charming contrast with life at Mrs. Silvernail's,
in its freedom from parables, and from the uncared-for society of Miss
Rocket's guests; likewise from that of the serious and vicious boarders,
and above all of the poisonous young man.

A day came for cleaning my windows, and, as it rained heavily, I could
not give the old woman a clear stage by going out for a couple of hours,
but told her to clean away and be as lively as she could, while I
sat there and wrote. Lodgers, she told me, as she polished up the
brightening panes, came and went week after week, so fast that she
forgot one when another came, and never knew any of their names. She had
an eye for character, though, and told me the peculiarities of some of
them in a quaint way, nailing her sentences, now and then, with odd,
hard words, put in independently of the general text.

"And who lives in the room just under mine? Somebody who raises plants,
I see,--unless the green things on the balcony belong to the house."

"A gentleman as keeps emself quite _to_ emself. Lonesome and friendless,
I reckon, for he looks but poorly. Plants out queer sasses in boxes all
the time, and some of 'em on the balcoany itself. Guess he makes kinder
tea of 'em, or root-drink. Decoctifies."

"And who in the room opposite, on this floor?"

"Empty now. Two dark-featured little gentlemen had it for a fortnight,--
Jews, I reckon,--and as like one another as two spots of dirt on
this 'ere pane of glass. Spoke a hard-biled kind of tongue, and was
furriners, I guess. Polyanders."

The vacant room would just suit De Vonville, who had arrived a few days
before from abroad. I told him of it, and he came in the next day, bag
and baggage, a portion of which latter was curious and uncommon.

De Vonville, with whom I had lived in lodgings two or three years
previously, was a Belgian and a _savant_, and a man of rare
companionable qualities besides. Professionally, I believe, he called
himself a naturalist. He had already roamed over the greater part
of America, North and South, investigating the mysteries of Nature,
especially of the animal kingdom, and contributing, as he went, many
specimens of rare animals to the principal collections of Europe. His
latest adventures took him through Africa and the East, whence he
brought to New York a number of living creatures of many species, all
of which, however, he had shipped for Havre before I met him, with the
exception of two or three of the least disreputable kinds, which he
meant to keep about him as pets. The most valued of these treasures were
a small animal called a Mangouste, and a cage containing a family of
white mice.

These white mice were greatly prized by De Vonville, on account of the
rare manner in which they were marked, their paws and muzzles being of
a perfect jet black. They were quite tame and familiar; but, on the
approach of a cat, or any other cause for alarm, the whole family would
concentrate their energies in a very remarkable way into one piercing

The Mangouste, an animal somewhat resembling a ferret, but more nearly
allied to the Nilotic ichneumon of Egypt, was a marvellously lithe and
active little creature, perfectly tame, and coming as readily as a dog
to his name, "Mungo," except when overfed, when he would sleep sometimes
for hours, rolled up at the bottom of his cage, or in some dark corner
of the room. There were personal reminiscences connected with Mungo
which rendered him particularly valuable to De Vonville, whom he had
often saved from the stings of the noxious vermin to be encountered by
those who dwell in tents. His instinct was for creeping things, though
he looked as if he could have dined contentedly on a brace of white
mice. One piece of mischief he committed, during the few days he was
allowed to run about the rooms: he gnawed holes at the bottom of all the
doors, through which he could let himself in and out. He used to lie in
the sun, on my table, as I sat reading; and was generally companionable
and trustworthy, notwithstanding his insidious look.

Seeing the interest I took in his small menagerie, De Vonville begged me
to undertake the superintendence of it, on his being called away for a
brief tour to Baltimore and elsewhere, in pursuance of an engagement to
deliver a course of traveller's tales. Numerous were the directions I
had from him as to the diet and general treatment most congenial to
the constitutions of white mice; and there was implicit confidence
expressed, that, for safety, the Mangouste should be kept strictly
confined to his cage. There were parrots to be looked after, also,
including an extremely vituperative old macaw, any verbal communication
with whom laid the advancing party open to all manner of insult and

The very first day of my menagerial experience, the Mangouste got out of
his cage while I was feeding him, and glided away into dark nooks and
garrets unknown. I failed of recovering him by a stalking process among
the giddy passes of the upper stairs; nor did he return that day to my
often-repeated call; for I vociferated at intervals throughout the
day the word "Mungo!" in a manner that must have led the mysterious
inhabitants of that silent house to the conclusion that I was a
spiritual medium, inviting revelations from the shade of the mighty

A hot, clammy night. No balmy essences arise from the kennels of this
hollow street in which I live; whatever comes from that quarter must be
malarious, if anything. The windows are thrown open as far as they were
made to be thrown, and I get as far out of one of them as I safely can,
by tilting my chair back, and extending my legs out into that undefined
everywhere called the wide, wide world. The only newspaper within reach
of my hand is one I have already looked over, but I glance at it again,
reading backwards from the end an account of a terrible poisoning case
lately brought to light in England, which I had already read forwards
from the beginning. Throwing it away from me in disgust, I reach out
my other hand for a book. The one I lay hold of is "Laurel-Water,"
the melancholy drama of Sir Theodosius Boughton by insidious poisoner
killed. I dashed it away, backwards, over my head, and, turning off the
gas, abandoned myself to the strange influences that breathed hotly upon
me from the clammy vegetation festering in the ropy night-air.

Why do civic wood-rangers choose the ailantus-tree for a bouquet-holder
to the close-pent inhabitants of towns? Nothing can be more graceful,
certainly, than the ellipses arched by the boughs from its taper stem.
Few contrivances more umbrageous than the combination of its long,
feathery foliations into its perfection of a parasol. But there are
times in the dank, hot nights of midsummer, when the ailantus is but
a diluted upas-antiar of Macassar, tainting, albeit with no deadly
essence, the muggy air that rocks its slumbering branches and rolls
away thence along the parapets and in at the windows of the sleepers.
Dead-horse chestnut it might reasonably be called, because of its heavy,
carrion smell, which, under the influences of a July night, is but too
perceptible to the dwellers of streets where it abides. The tree at
my window was an ailantus, of stately dimensions, and bounteous in a
proportionate enormity of smell; yet it had never before affected me so
much as on this night, when I lay dozing in the ghastly gloom. Sleep
must have overcome me, for I had a troublous dream or vision of which
Poison was the predominant nightmare,--a dream and slumber broken by the
convulsive sensation which roused me up as I endeavored in imagination
to swallow at one draught the contents of a metal tankard of
half-and-half--half laurel-water, and half decoction of henbane--handed
to me on a leaden salver by a demon-waiter, with a sprig of hemlock in
the third buttonhole of his coat. This Lethean influence could hardly
be that of the ailantus-tree alone. What of the plants on the balcony
beneath,--the strange, rooty coilers which the mysterious planter
sedulously fosters at the glooming of dusk, with a weird watering-pot
held forth in a fawn-colored hand?

In a particular condition of the nerves,--say, when a man feels
"shaky,"--it takes but little to convince him that anything which may
possibly not be all right is to a moral certainty all wrong. To sleep
another night in that room, with the windows open,--and who would shut
his windows in July?--directly exposed to the exhalations of a rising
forest of upas-antiars of Macassar, nurtured by the unwholesome hand
of a mysterious vegetarian for purposes unavowed, was no longer to be
thought of. De Vonville's room, which was at the back of the house, and
had no fuming ailantus by its windows on which to browse nightmares
of skunkish flavor, afforded a better climate for a night's rest,
notwithstanding the singular ideas which these travelled men, especially
naturalists, have of comfort, in a civilized sense. He invariably slept
on the floor, converting his room, indeed, into the general semblance
of a tent, by divesting it of all the appliances dear to a Christian
gentleman, and one who loves to repose as such. Yet there was
comparative freshness in that tent-like apartment, as I entered it that
night, shutting the door of mine after me, to prevent ailantus and
upas-antiar from following in my wake. The little beasts were all
sleeping tranquilly in their cages, and the birds on their perches
rested quietly, too,--excepting the old macaw, who cursed me in his
sleep, as I lit up the gas. But the Mangouste had not returned, nor did
I quite regret his absence for the present; because, although highly
approving of the culture of four-footed beasts, be they large or small,
I have a prejudice against having my jugular vein breathed, at midnight,
by small animals of the weasel tribe,--an act of which Mungo, probably,
would have been incapable. His relations _will_ do such things, however,
and newspapers recording appalling instances of it may be found.

Shutting the door, I turned the gas down to a mere spark, and stretched
my weary limbs on the mat which served the travelled man for a bed,
drawing over me a gauze-like fabric, which, I suppose, answers in
tropical countries all the purposes of the more voluminous "bed-clothes"
of ours. Sleep soon came upon me,--a heavy, but unquiet sleep, in which
the same influences haunted me as those I felt when slumbering at the
window. The malaria from the trees was there, and the planter of the
balcony watering henbane and hellebore with boiling aquafortis; likewise
the demon-waiter, with his leaden salver and poisoned tankard, wearing
an ophidian smile on his features and a fresh sprig of hemlock in his
third buttonhole.

How long I slept thus I know not. Once I had a vague sense of the
Mangouste gliding across me, but it was only part of a dream; and it was
still night, black and awful, when I started up in good earnest, at a
piercing shriek from the united family of white mice, whose cage stood
upon a low stand, about two yards to the right of where I lay.

The sound which followed this was one which the man is not likely to
forget who has once heard it,--whether beneath his foot, as he steps
upon the moss-grown log in the rank cedar-swamp, or under his hand,
when about to grasp with it a ledge of the rocks among which he is
clambering, unknowing of the serpent's dens. With clenched teeth, and
hair that rustled like the sedge-grass, I rose and woke up the obedient
gas, which flashed tremulously on the scales of an enormous rattlesnake
coiled round the mice's cage, tightening his folds as he whizzed his
infernal warning, and darting out his lightning tongue with baffled fury
at the trembling group in the middle of the cage. This I saw by the
first flash. Grasping a sword from among the weapons with which the
walls were studded, I made a pass to sever the monster; but the
Mangouste was quicker than I, as he darted upon the coils of the
serpent, which, in a moment, fell heavily to the floor, a writhing,
headless mass.

In the heavy dreams which haunted me during the sleep from which I had
just been roused, I had a vision of the planter of the balcony with
a snake coiled round his naked arm. Who so dull as to require an
interpreter for such plain speakings? Rushing down-stairs, I burst open
the door of that person's room with one kick, and there, in the middle
of the floor, half-dressed and bending over a censer of red-hot
charcoal, knelt Mr. Desole Arcubus, the poison-man of Mrs. Silvernails
boarding-house. His features were collapsed and livid, and he held his
left arm, which was much swollen and discolored, close over the red-hot
coals, basting it wildly, the while, with ladlefuls of some hot liquid,
while he crammed into his mouth, at intervals, a handful of herb-fodder
of some kind from a salad-bowl on the floor beside him. He was rapidly
growing faint and sinking, but indicated his wishes by signs, and one
of several strangers who now entered the room continued the fomenting
treatment, while another ran for medical assistance.

There was an open letter on the table, which I had no hesitation in
reading, when I saw at a glance that it threw light on the matter. The
following is an exact copy of it:--

"Hollow Rock----County. N. Y. 17 Jewly. 18--

MR. HARKABUS dear Sir.

a cording to promis i send the sneak by Xpress. He is the Largest and
wust Sneak we have ketched In these parts. Bit a cow wich died in 2.40
likeways her calf of fright. Hope the sneak weed growed up strong and
harty. By eting and drinking of that wede the greatest sneak has no
power. Smeling of it a loan will cure a small sneak ader or the like. I
go in upon the dens tomorough and if we find any Pufing Aders will Xpres
them to you per Xpress.

Yr. oblgd. servt. SILENUS CLUCK."

Here was the whole story in a nutshell. For his experiments in septic
poisons, Mr. Arcubus had hired this apartment, with its convenient
balcony for the cultivation of his antidotes. Having prepared his
decoctions, he had this night caused himself to be bitten by the snake,
which, disgusted probably at its services being then rudely dispensed
with, had followed its guiding instinct up to the room where the
animals were, making its way through the holes nibbled by the Mangouste
underneath the doors. A cold shudder seized me when I guessed the
reality of the sense of something gliding over me in the night. The
hunger of the reptile had steered him straight to the cage of the mice,
whose cry of agony at the presence of the great enemy of mouse-kind had
fortunately roused me from my lethargy,--for the rattle of the snake is
but a drowsy sound, and will not awaken the sleeper. How the Mangouste
came to appear on the scene at the nick of time, I know not. He might
have come in at the open window, or possibly had been sleeping, since I
missed him, among the trappings and traveller's gear with which the room
was lumbered.

And these were the delights of lodgings,--of lodgings without board!
And who could see the end of it all?--for, if snake-poison lurked on the
stairs, probably hydrophobia was tied up in the cupboard. Brief time
I expended in making my arrangements to quit, having first seen Mr.
Arcubus carted away to a hospital, where by skilful treatment he
slowly recovered. For the Mangouste and the mice, the parrots and
the blasphemous macaw, I engaged temporary board and lodging with a
bird-and-rabbit man in the neighborhood, telegraphing De Vonville that
I had departed from lodgings forever,--lodgings for single gentlemen,
without board.

But, on leaving the house, I did not forget the dust-colored old
woman, whose last words to me, as I tipped her with a gratuity, were
oracular:--"Forty long years and more have I lived in lodgin'-houses and
never before seen a sarpint. It behooves all on us, now, to be watchful
for what may be coming next, and wakeful. Circumspectangular."

I live in a hotel now, a very noisy life, and fearfully expensive. "But
what do you wish, my friend?" as the French say, in their peculiar
idiom. Believing in the ancient Egyptians, who worshipped the Nilotic
ichneumon, I have privately canonized his cousin, the Mangouste, by the
style and title of St. Mungo; and if ever surplus funds are discovered
to my credit in any solvent bank, at present unknown to me, I will
certainly devote a moiety of them to the foundation of a neat row of
alms-cages, for the reception of decayed members of the family of White


Upon us falls the shadow of night,
And darkened is our day:
My love will greet the morning light
Four hundred miles away.
God love her, torn so swift and far
From hearts so like to break!
And God love all who are good to her,
For Christie's sake!

I know, whatever spot of ground
In any land we tread,
I know the Eternal Arms are round,
That heaven is overhead;
And faith the mourning heart will heal,
But many fears will make
Our spirits faint, our fond hearts kneel,
For Christie's sake.

Good bye, dear! be they kind to you,
As though you were their ain!
My daisy opens to the dew,
But shuts against the rain.
Never will new moon glad our eyes
But offerings we shall make
To old God Wish, and prayers will rise
For Christie's sake.

Four years ago we struck our tent;
O'er homeless babes we yearned;
Our all--three darlings--with us went,
But only two returned!
While life yet bleeds into her grave,
Love ventures one more stake;
Hush, hush, poor hearts! if big, be brave,
For Christie's sake!

Like crown to most ambitious brows
Was Christie to us given,
To make our home a holy house
And nursery of heaven.
Oh, softer was her bed of rest
Than lily's on the lake!
Peace filled so deep each billowy breast,
For Christie's sake!

To music played by harps and hands
Invisible were we drawn
O'er charmed seas, through faery lands,
Under a clearer dawn:
We entered our new world of love
With blessings in our wake,
While prospering heavens smiled above,
For Christie's sake.

We gazed with proud eyes luminous
On such a gift of grace,--
All heaven narrowed down to us
In one dear little face!
And many a pang we felt, dear wife,
With hurt of heart and ache
All shut within like clasping knife,
For Christie's sake.

I would no tears might e'er run down
Her patient face, beside
Such happy pearls of heart as crown
Young mother, new-made bride!
For 'tis a face that, looking up
To passing heaven, might make
An angel stop, a blessing drop,
For Christie's sake.

If Love in that child's heart of hers
Should breathe and break its calm,
With trouble sweet as that which stirs
The brooding buds of balm,--
Listening at ear of peeping pearl,
Glistening in eyes that shake
Their sweet dew down,--God bless our girl,
For Christie's sake!

But, Father, if our babe must mourn,
Be merciful and kind!
And if our gentle lamb be shorn,
Attemper thou the wind!
Across the Deluge guide our Dove,
And to thy bosom take
With arm of love, and shield above,
For Christie's sake!

We have had sorrows many and strange:
Poor Christie I when I'm gone,
Some of my words will weirdly change,
If she read sadly on!
Lightnings, from what was dark of old,
With meanings strange will break
Of sorrows hid or dimly told,
For Christie's sake.

Wife, we should still try hard to win
The best for our dear child,
And keep a resting-place within,
When all without grows wild:
As on the winter graves the snow
Falls softly, flake by flake,
Our love should whitely clothe our woe,
For Christie's sake.

For one will wake at midnight drear
From out a dream of death,
And find no dear head pillowed near,
No sound of peaceful breath!
May no weak wailing words arise,
No bitter thoughts awake
To see the tears in Memory's eyes:
For Christie's sake!

And There, where many crownless kings
Of earth a crown shall wear,
The martyrs who have borne the pangs
Their palm at last shall bear,--
When with our lily pure of sin
Our heavenward way we take,
There may we walk with welcome in,
For Christie's sake!


Where is it kept? We have often longed for a sight of that precious bit
of aerolite, that talismanic moon-stone and bewildering boulder, to
which the lips of all devoted to infantile education must be religiously

In vain have we searched in the closet, where the headless dolls and
tailless horses, the collapsed drum and the torn primer, are put away.
We have privately climbed to the summit of the clothes-press, we have
surreptitiously invaded the nurse's own private work-basket, lured by
disappointing lumps of wax and fragments of rhubarb-root; but we did
not find it. We believe in its existence none the less. Real as the
coronation-stone of the Scottish kings now in Westminster Abbey, as the
Caaba at Mecca, as the loadstone mountain against which dear old Sinbad
was wrecked, as the meteor which fell into the State of Connecticut and
the volcanic island which rose out of the Straits of Messina, as the
rock of Plymouth, or the philosopher's stone,--yet we have sought in
vain for it, and only know of it as of the Great Carbuncle, by the light
it sheds.

"Pray, my good Sir," ask legions of fond parents, "what do you mean? Is
it Dalby's Carminative, Daffy's Elixir, Brown's Syrup of Squills, or
White's Magnetic Mixture? Is it of the soothing or the coercing system?
a substitute for lollipops or for birch? rock candy or rock the cradle?"

"Look" not "into your heart," responds our Muse, but into your nursery,
and write!

We invite a general review of all infantry divisions. We may be, for
aught you know, Mrs. Ellis _incog_., warning the mothers of America, as
of yore the Cornelias of England. What is the Nursery Blarney-Stone?
You have none in your own airy and southern-exposed first-pair-back,
(_Nov-Anglice>_, "the keeping-room chamber,") where you daily water
and rake your young olive-sprouts? upon your word of honor, Madam, you
have not? You never tell nursery-tales of ghosts or fairies; you have
conscientiously stripped from the dark closet every vestige of a legend;
you have permitted juvenile inspection of the chimney, to prove that
Santa Claus could not descend its sooty flue without grievous nigritude
of the anticipated doll's frock, and have logically appealed to Miss
Bran Beeswax's satin silveriness in proof of the non-existence of
the saint beloved of Christmas-tide. Nay, more, you tell us you have
actually invited inspection of the overnight process of filling the
stockings, (you brute!) and you appropriately label each gift, "From
Papa," "From Uncle Edward," "From Sister Kate," "From dear Mamma," lest
a figment of the supernatural untruth should linger in the infantile
brain. The "Arabian Nights'" (and "Arabian Days'") "Entertainments" are
on your _Index Expurgatorius_. You have banned Bluebeard, and treated
Red Ridinghood as no better than the Bonnet Rouge of domestic

You are a model mother, with whom even the late Mr. Gradgrind might be
satisfied. "Truth, crushed to earth" by the whole race of nurses of the
good old time, rises again triumphant at your hearth-stone. Then answer
us,--Why did you tell your little ones to-night, as the sparrows were
making an unusually loquacious preparation for their dormitories,
that the little birds were singing their evening hymns, and exhort,
thereupon, your unwilling nestlings to a rival performance of the verses
of Dr. Watts? You ought to be prepared to explain, also, for the benefit
of any sucking Socrates, why it is that these feathered choristers
have their "revival seasons," and are terrible backsliders during the
moulting period. When you looked out of the nursery-window, into the
poultry-yard, and heard the noisy confabulation of the motherly hens
and pert pullets, you should be prepared to state upon what theological
principles it is that psalmody is not the wont of the Gallinacae. Are
the Biddies given over to a reprobate mind, because you don't happen to
like their vocalization? Is it only the Piccolomini and Linds of the
feathered kingdom who have a right to practise sacred music?

And how about that other stupendous fiction of the harvest-moon? Tell
us, since you are voluntarily in the confessional, tell us why you
kept back that explanation of its dependence on the Precession of the
Equinoxes, which, at Professor Cram's finishing examination, in your
school-girl days, you so glibly recited before your admiring papa and
mamma? Do you really believe that the solar and stellar system was
arranged to accommodate "the reapers reaping early" of the little island
of Great Britain?

We think you said angels! When little Isabel Montgomery, with her long,
sunny curls, and sweet, blue eyes, was taken away, you made a very
touching application of her decease, to illustrate what all good people
were to become in the unknown world. How did you get out of the scrape
which followed the remark of your downright eldest, remembering also the
departure of a good-natured, obese, elderly neighbor,--"Then I thpothe
Mithter Thimmonth ith a big angel"? So he probably is; but Simmons's two
hundred pounds of earthliness did not suit your sentimentality quite as
readily as the little fairy who always wore such clean pantalets and
never tore her pretty white frocks in a game of romps. Is beatification
dependent upon the platform-balance? and what amount of flesh will turn
the scale in favor of the _Avvocato del Diavolo?_

Once upon a time, a little boy was allowed to ramble in the woods. Being
an adventurous little boy, he saw and coveted, and also conquered, (in
the good old English sense of the word,) a pretty bird's-nest and its
contents, to wit, several shiny, speckled eggs. He brought them home for
triumphant display. He set them out upon the drawing-room table, and
called a family conclave to admire and exult. What was the surprise
and grief of the infant Catiline, to find himself received, not with
applause, but horror! He was accused of robbery, was threatened with
Solomonic penalties, was finally condemned to penance at a side-table
upon dry bread and water, while his innocent brothers and sisters were
regaling upon chickens and custards. He was edified over his scanty meal
by melting descriptions of the mother-bird returning to the desolated
home, of her positive sorrow and her probable pining to death. And
the same little boy, looking out through the prison-bars of the
nursery-window, saw his mother take by the hand his weeping sister (much
cast down by the fraternal wickedness) and lead her to the nest of
another mother-bird, and then and there encourage her to perform the
same act of spoliation. True, the eggs were not speckled and small, but
of a very pretty white, and quite a handful for the juvenile fingers.
But the bereaved "parient" was not slender and active,--in fact, was
rather a tame, confiding, dumpy and dull, pepper-and-salt-colored dame.
Her complaints were not touching, but rather ludicrous,--so much so,
indeed, as to suggest to the human hen-bird that "Biddy was laughing to
think what a nice breakfast little Carrie would have off her nice eggs!"
The young Trenck, from aloft beholding, could not but stumble upon
certain "glittering generalities," as, that "eggs was eggs," and that
the return of them on the fowl's part, in consideration of an advance of
corn, was not altogether a voluntary barter,--quite, in short, after the
pattern of Coolie apprenticeship. And thus the high moral lesson of the
morning was sadly shaken. Of course this boy did not belong to any of
the model mammas, for whom we are writing.

A large fragment of the Nursery Blarney-Stone has been made over, to
have and to hold, to the writers of the Children's Astor-Place
Library. We yawn over poetical justice in novels, and only tolerate it
as an amusing absurdity in genteel comedy, for the sake of getting
the curtain rapidly down over the benedictory guardian and the
virtue-rewarded fair, who are impatient themselves to be off to a very
different distribution of cakes and ale. We know that the hero and the
heroine walk complacently away in the company of the dejected villain
to wash off their rouge and burnt cork, and experience the practical
domestic felicity which is ordered for them on the same principles as
for us who sit in the pit and applaud. If it were not so, and if we did
not know it to be so, and if we did not know that they know that we know
it, we should perhaps feel very differently.

Why must we, then, be conscientiously constrained to mark out such a
very different plan for our children at home? Why is the life of little
boys and girls in books always pictured on the foot-lights pattern? We
remember that we were of those good little boys and girls,--quite as
good as that one who saved his pennies for the missionary-box, or that
other who hemmed a tiny pocket-handkerchief against the nasal needs of a
forlorn infant in Burmah; but we don't remember ever (then or since) to
have encountered any of those delightful (and strong-minded) mothers or
those sensible and always well-informed fathers of whom we read. Neither
in our own particularly pleasant home, nor in any where we went, (at
three, P.M., to take an early tea with preparatory barmecidal rehearsals
on doll's china,) did we ever meet them. Perhaps they were the
progenitors of the authors of the books. Mr. Thackeray has introduced us
to sundry gentlemen and ladies bearing a faint likeness to them; but
he also permitted us to behold Lady Beckie Crawley _nee_ Sharpe boxing
little Rawdon's ears, and to meet Mrs. Hobson Newcome at one of her
delightful "at homes," where Runmun Loll, of East Indian origin, was the
lion of the evening.

We couldn't get through five pages of Hannah More, on a wet day, at the
dreariest railway-station, when the expected train was telegraphed as
"not due under two hours." What have the innocent heirs of our name
done, that Hannah should continue under numberless _noms-de-plume_ to
cater for them?

We know there must have been a large lump of the Blarney-Stone,
conglomerate probably, kept in the desk of our reverend instructor in
the ways of syntax and the dismal paths of numbers. We have a lively
recollection of the countless tables of foreign coins which we committed
to memory, and of the provoking additions and subtractions we underwent
to reduce to dollars and cents of the Federal denomination the
fortunes of a score of Rothschilds. But when, under the shadow of the
Drachenfels, we attempted to reimburse the Teutonic waiter for a cup of
_cafe noir_, we were ignominiously constrained to hold forth a handful
of coin and to await the white-jacketed and bearded one's pleasure, as
he helped himself.

We have a strong impression that we should never have attained to our
present proud position of being allowed to write for (and be printed
in) the "Atlantic Monthly," without much previous polish, through the
companionship of the fairer sex. Why was it made a crime worthy of
Draconian sternness to address our she-comrades in the pleasant paths of
learning? Why did we behold the severe Magister Morum himself, in utter
forgetfulness of his own rule, mingle in the mazy dance on an evening
occasion, at which we were allowed to sit up? Did the girls of a larger
growth lose their dangerous qualities on arriving at belle-hood? Why were
our primary _billets-doux_ confiscated, and our offending palms, like
Cranmer's, visited with the first penalty, though we had been obliged to
walk blushingly the gauntlet of fifty pairs of maiden eyes and deliver
to the "female principal" of the girls' school across the entry notes
which we have since but too much reason to conclude bore no reference
to the affairs of the school-realm? There is a bit of the Blarney-Stone
(always of the nursery formation) which we are sure is discoverable to
the true geologic eye in the underpinning of the Fifth Congregational
Society's house of worship,--then called a meeting-house, now, we
believe, styled a church. For all sermons therein delivered were
supposed to be for our personal edification; albeit we were not, by
reason of our tender years, specifically exposed to the heresies of
Origen or Pelagius. It must have been on some afternoon when we were
absent, then, that Dr. Baxter delivered the discourse of which we
found a commentary written on the fly-leaf of the hymn-book in our
pew,--"Terribly tedious this P.M., isn't he?" We have always felt that
a great opportunity was lost to us. We should doubtless have been
permitted to indulge unchecked in the solution of that lost mystery of
our boyhood, as to the exact number of little brass rods in the front of
the gallery, to scratch our initials with a pin upon the pew-side, or,
propped by the paternal arm, to sweetly slumber till nineteenthly's
close. No such sermon was ever pronounced in our hearing. Oh, golden
time of youth! precious season thus lost! We intend yet revisiting that
ancient and time-worn edifice, and, borrowing the keys of the sexton,
we mean to revel in all and sundry those delights of "boyhood's breezy
hour" from which we were debarred by that untimely absence. Like the
old gentleman who visited nightly Van Amburg's exhibition of the
head-in-the-lion's-mouth feat, in the moral certainty that a single
absence would fall inevitably upon the one night when Leo would vary the
programme by decapitation,--so we lost the one afternoon when that
dull discourse diversified the pious eloquence of Jotham Baxter, D.D.,
disciple of Dr. Hopkins and believer in Cotton Mather. Many a refreshing
slumber has sealed our eyes under subsequent outpourings of divinity,
but never with that entire sense of permissible indulgence which
then would certainly have been ours. Why was it--except for the
Blarney-Stone--that we were always checked in any Sabba'day notes and
queries of what we had noticed in the sanctuary? Why was it wicked and
deserving of a double infliction of catechism (Assembly's) for us to
have seen that Bob Jones had a new jacket, and that he took five marbles
and a jack-knife (in aggravating display) out of its pockets, while our
mother and sisters were enabled, without let or hindrance to the most
absorbing devotion, to chronicle every bonnet and ribbon within the
walls of the temple?

Certainly, the family-physician carried--as well he might--a bit of the
precious rock in his waistcoat-pocket; for all our subsequent experience
of _materia medica_ has never revealed to us the then patent fact, that
all our bodily ailments were the consequence of those particular sports
which damaged clothes and disturbed the quiet of the household. Surely,
the connection between the measles and sailing on the millpond was about
as obvious as that between Macedon and Monmouth; and whooping-cough must
have had a very long road to travel, if it originated in our nutting
frolic, when we returned home with a ghastly gash in our trousers-knee.

The Blarney-Stone got into our "Manual of History"; for either it or
the "Boston Centinel" must have made some egregious mistakes as to the
character of some famous men who nursed our country's fortunes. So, too,
did the author of "Familiar Letters on Public Characters"; for he was
anything but an indorser of the History-Book, with its wood-cuts (after
Trumbull and West) of the death of General Wolfe, exclaiming, "They
run who run the French then I die happy," and of General Warren at the
Battle of Bunker's Hill, with its amazing portraits of the first six
Presidents, and the death of Tecumseh. Nay, we have found hard work to
reconcile our faith, as per History-Book, in the loveliness of those
gentlemen whom stress of weather and a treacherous pilot put ashore upon
Plymouth beach, (where they luckily found a rock to step upon,) with a
certain sweet pastoral called "Evangeline." We found ourselves, just
after reading the proceedings of the Plymouth Monument Association, the
other day, pondering over the possible fate of the Dutch colony of the
Mannahattoes, supposing that the Mayflower had made (as was purposed)
the Highlands of Neversink instead of Shankpainter Hill at the end of
Cape Cod. It was a perilous meditation, for we found our belief in
Plutarch's Lives, the Charter Oak, and the existence of the Maelstroem
all sliding away from under us. "Think," we said, "if New York had been
Boston, how it would have fared with the good Knickerbockers!"

Who was our geographer? Why did he insist upon our believing that all
French men and women passed their time in mutual bows and "curchies,"
and that all Italians were on their knees to fat priests, clean and
rosy-looking? Why did he palm upon us that outrageous fiction of three
kings (like those of Cologne) sitting in full ermine robes, with gold
crowns on their heads, all alone in a sort of summer-parlor, where the
heat, must have been at 80 deg. in the shade, engaged in disparting Poland?
We have seen, say, a million of Frenchmen, and nearly the same of
Italians, since then, with a dozen or so of kings and emperors,--but
never the faintest likeness to those deluding pictures. We learned
at the same time, by painful rote, the population of various capital
cities; but we cannot find in any statistic-book gazetteer, neither in
McCulloch nor in Worcester, any of the old, familiar numbers. Also in
that same Wonder-Book of Malte-Brun, edited by Pietro il Parlatore, we
recall a sketch of a boy running for life down a slope of at least 45 deg.,
just before a snowball some five hundred times as big as the one our
school-boys unitedly rolled up in the back-yard. It was a snowball,
round, symmetrical, just such a magnified copy of the backyard one as
might be expected to follow a boy in dreams after too much Johnny-cake
for supper. And that was an avalanche. We have stood since then under
the shadow of the Jungfrau, on the Wengern Alp, at the selfsame spot
where Byron beheld the fall of so many. We had the noble lord's luck,
(as most people have.) and saw dozens, but not one big snowball.

We believe there has been reform since that day. Thanks to the London
"Illustrated News" and the "Penny Magazine," juster ideas visit the
ingenious youth of the present age. But we solemnly declare that we
grew up in the belief that the President of the United States was
daily ushered to his carriage by a long array of bareheaded and bowing
menials, and that his official dress was a cocked hat and knee-breeches.
We furthermore make affidavit that we supposed all the nobility of
Europe to be in the habit of driving four-in-hand over wooden-legged
beggars. And we also depose and say, that we had no other idea of
royalty than as continually clad in coronation-robes, with six peers in
the same, with huge wigs, as attendants. All this upon the faith of
that same Malte-Brun, _a la_ P.P. Wasn't this a pretty dish to set
before--not a king-but a young republican, who fancied himself the
equal of kings? And lastly, upon the same authority, we held that "the
horrible custom of eating human flesh does not belong exclusively to any
nation." We have seen, we repeat, men and cities. We have dined at
the Rocher de Cancale, the Maison Doree, at Delmonico's, at German
Gasthauses, at Italian Trattorias, at "Joe's" in London, the Trosachs
Inn in the Highlands, and upon all peculiar and national dishes, from
the _sardines au gratin_ of Naples to the _sauer kraut_ of Berlin, from
the "one fish-ball" of Boston to the hog and hominy of Virginia,--but
never yet upon any _carte_ did we encounter "Cold Missionary" or
"_Enfans en potage Fijien_."

Where, we repeat, is the Nursery Blarney-Stone? or rather, where is it

The gentle reader (prepared to corroborate with many a juvenile
reminiscence) must by this time be prepared for our moral; and it is
very briefly this:--Is it not time to consider the budding brain as
entitled to fair play? We, the dear middle-aged people, must surely
remember that it has taken us much toil and trouble to unlearn many
things. We know, that, when we pen anything for our coevals, it is with
due attention to such facts as we can command,--that we have a wholesome
fear of criticism,--that, if we make blunders in our seamanship, even
though professedly land-lubbers, some awful Knickerbocker stands by with
the Marine Dictionary in hand to pounce upon us. But for the poor little
innocents at home any cast-off rags of knowledge are good enough. We
hand down to them the worn-out platitudes of history which we have
carefully eschewed. We humbug their inexperience with the same nursery
fables beneath whose leonine hide our matured vision detects the ass's

We have been writing lightly enough, but with a purpose. For, absurd as
may seem the fictions we have sported with, are they not types of many
other far more serious ones which we cram down the throats of our rising
generation, long after we ourselves have begun to disbelieve them? There
is a conventional teaching which we decorously administer, and leave
our pupils to disavow it when they can. History is still taught in our
public and private schools, seasoned with all the exploded blunders of
the past. Men grow up to full manhood with ideas of foreign lands as
ridiculous and unfounded as the pictures over which we have been amusing
ourselves just now in our old Geography. Young America is ignorant
enough, Heaven knows, of a great deal he ought to learn; but what shall
we say of our persistently cramming him with what he ought not to learn?
No exploding process is strong enough, it would seem, to blow away the
countless pretty stories with which juvenile histories are embroidered.
Niebuhr and Arnold have forever finished Romulus and Remus and the
Livian legends, for maturer beliefs; but childhood goes on in the same
track. Lord Macaulay's Romance of English History has been riddled by

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