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The Last Leaf by James Kendall Hosmer

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who were then in prison. Bonner carried a lamb, at which he rolled his
eyes and gnashed his teeth. A dog brought up the rear, carrying the
Host in his mouth. What further was to follow no one can say. The
queen, who was never more than half a Protestant, and clung to the
mass all the more devoutly because she was obliged to resign so much,
filled the air with her indignation. She swore good round oaths, we
may be sure, and left the room in a rage. The lights were put out, and
the students made off in the dark as they could.

The history of the drama at Oxford has episodes of equal interest. The
visitor who goes through the lovely Christ Church meadows to the Isis
to see the boats, returning, will be sure to visit the refectory
of Christ Church. The room is very fine in its proportions and
decoration, and hung with the portraits of the multitude of brilliant
men who in their young days were Christ Church men. During all the
centuries that the rich dark stain has been gathering upon the carved
oak in the ceiling and wainscot, it has been the scene of banquets and
pageants without number, at which the most illustrious characters
of English history have figured. I doubt, however, if any of its
associations are finer than those connected with the student plays
that have been performed here. Passing over occasions of this kind
of less interest of which I find mention, in 1566 Elizabeth visited
Oxford, to do honour to whom in this great hall of Christ Church
plays were given. Oxford was determined not to be outdone by what had
happened at Cambridge two years before. From the accounts, the delight
of the hearty queen must have been intense; and as she was never
afraid to testify most frankly her genuine feelings, we may be sure
the Oxford authorities and their pupils must have presented their
entertainments with extraordinary pomp. The plays, as at Cambridge,
were of various character, but the one that gave especial pleasure was
an English piece having the same subject as the _Knighte's Tale
of Chaucer_, and called _Palamon and Arcite_. It would be
pleasant to know that the poet followed as far as possible the words
of Chaucer. There is a fine incident narrated connected with the
performance. In the scene of the chase, when

"Theseus, with alle joye and blys,
With his Ypolite, the faire queene,
And Emelye, clothed al in greene,
On hontyng be they riden ryally,"

a "cry of hounds" was counterfeited under the windows in the
quadrangle. The students present thought it was a real chase, and
were seized with a sudden transport to join the hunters. At this, the
delighted queen, sitting in stiff ruff and farthingale among her maids
of honour, burst out above all the tumult with "Oh, excellent! These
boys, in very truth, are ready to leap out of the windows to follow
the hounds!" When the play was over, the queen called up the poet,
who was present, and the actors, and loaded them with thanks and

When, forty years after, in 1605, the dull James came to Oxford, the
poor boys had a harder time. A thing very noteworthy happened when
the king entered the city in his progress from Woodstock. If Warton's
notion is correct, scarcely the iron cross in the pavement that marks
the spot where the bishops were burned, or the solemn chamber in which
they were tried, yea, scarcely Guy Fawkes's lantern, which they show
you at the Bodleian, or the Brazen Nose itself, are memorials as
interesting as the archway leading into the quadrangle of St. John's
College, under whose carving, quaint and graceful, one now gets the
lovely glimpse into the green and bloom of the gardens at the back. At
this gate, three youths dressed like witches met the king, declaring
they were the same that once met Macbeth and Banquo, prophesying a
kingdom to one and to the other a generation of monarchs, that they
now appeared to show the confirmation of the prediction. Warton's
conjecture is that Shakespeare heard of this, or perhaps was himself
in the crowd that watched the boys as they came whirling out in their
weird dance, and that then and there was conceived what was to become
so mighty a product of the human brain,--Macbeth.

King James, however, received it all coldly. The University, kindled
by the traditions of Elizabeth's visit, did its best. Leland gives a
glimpse of the stage arrangements in Christ Church Hall. Towards the
end "was a scene like a wall, painted and adorned by stately pillars,
which pillars would turn about, by reason whereof, with the help of
other painted cloths, their stage did vary three times." But the
king liked the scholastic hair-splitting with which he was elsewhere
entertained better than the plays. In Christ Church Hall he yawned
and even went to sleep, saying it was all mere childish amusement. In
fact, the poor boys had to put up with even a worse rebuff; the
king spoke many words of dislike, and when, in one of the plays, a
pastoral, certain characters came in somewhat scantily attired, the
queen and maids of honour took great offence, in which the king, who
was not ordinarily over-delicate, concurred.

The practice of acting plays prevailed in the schools as well. The
visitor to Windsor will remember in what peace, as seen from the great
tower, beyond the smooth, dark Thames, the buildings of Eton lie
among the trees. Crossing into the old town and entering the school
precincts, where the stone stairways are worn by so many generations
of young feet, and where on the play-ground the old elms shadow turf
where so many soldiers and statesmen have been trained to struggle in
larger fields, there is nothing after all finer than the great hall.
In every age since the wars of the Roses, it has buzzed with the
boisterous life of the privileged boys of England, who have come
up afterward by the hundred to be historic men. There are still the
fireplaces with the monogram of Henry VI., the old stained glass,
the superb wood carving, the dais at the end. If there were no other
memory connected with the magnificent hall, it would be enough that
here, about 1550, was performed by the Eton boys, _Ralph Roister
Bolster_, the first proper English comedy, written by Nicholas
Udal, then head-master, for the Christmas holidays. He had the name
of being a stern master, because old Tusser has left it on record that
Udal whipped him,--

"for fault but small,
or none at all."

But the student of our old literature, reading the jolly play, will
feel that, though he could handle the birch upon occasion, there was
in him a fine genial vein. This was the first English comedy. The
first English tragedy, too, _Gorboduc_, was acted first by
students,--this time students of law of the Inner Temple,--and the
place of performance was close at hand to what one still goes to see
in the black centre of the heart of London, those blossoming gardens
of the Temple, verdant to-day as when the red-cross knights walked in
them, or the fateful red and white roses were plucked there, or the
voices of the young declaimers were heard from them, rolling out the
turgid lines of Sackville's piece, the somewhat unpromising day-spring
which a glorious sun-burst was to succeed. From Lincoln's Inn, in
1613, when the Princess Elizabeth married the elector-palatine and
went off to Heidelberg Castle, the students came to the palace with a
piece written by Chapman, and the performance cost a thousand pounds.

A famed contemporary of Udal was Richard Mulcaster, head-master of St.
Paul's school, and afterward of Merchant Taylors', concerning whom we
have, from delightful old Fuller, this quaint and naive description:

In a morning he would exactly and plainly construe
and parse the lesson to his scholars, which
done, he slept his hour (custom made him critical
to proportion it) in his desk in the school; but woe
be to the scholar that slept the while. Awaking, he
heard them accurately; and Atropos might be persuaded
to pity as soon as he to pardon where he
found just fault. The prayers of cockering mothers
prevailed with him just as much as the requests of
indulgent fathers, rather increasing than mitigating
his severity on their offending children.

The name of this Rhadamanthus of the birch occurs twice in entries of
Elizabeth's paymaster, as receiving money for plays acted before
her; and a certain proficiency as actors possessed by students of
St. John's College at Oxford is ascribed to training given by old
Mulcaster at the Merchant Taylors' school.

But no one of the great English public schools has enjoyed so long
a fame in this regard as Westminster. According to Staunton, in his
_Great schools of England_, Elizabeth desired to have plays acted
by the boys, "Quo juventus turn actioni tum pronunciationi decenti
melius se assuescat," that the youth might be better trained in proper
bearing and pronunciation. The noted Bishop Atterbury wrote to a
friend, Trelawney, Bishop of Winchester, concerning a performance here
of Trelawney's son: "I had written to your lordship again on Saturday,
but that I spent the evening in seeing _Phormio_ acted in the
college chamber, where, in good truth, my lord, Mr. Trelawney played
Antipho extremely well, and some parts he performed admirably."
In 1695, Dryden's play of Cleomens was acted. Archbishop Markham,
head-master one hundred years ago, gave a set of scenes designed by
Garrick. In our own day, Dr. Williamson, head-master in 1828, drew
attention in a pamphlet to the proper costuming of the performers; and
when, in 1847, there was a talk of abolishing the plays, a memorial
signed by six hundred old "Westminsters" was sent in, stating it
as their "firm and deliberate belief, founded on experience and
reflection, that the abolition of the Westminster play cannot fail to
prove prejudicial to the interests and prosperity of the school." At
the present time the best plays of Plautus and Terence are performed
at Christmas in the school dormitory.

It all became excessive, and in Cromwell's time, with the accession
of the Puritans to power, like a hundred other brilliant traits of the
old English life from whose abuse had grown riot, it was purged away.
Ben Jonson, in _The Staple of Newes_, puts into the mouth of a
sour character a complaint which no doubt was becoming common in that
day, and was probably well enough justified.

"They make all their schollers play-boyes! Is't
not a fine sight to see all our children made
enterluders? Doe we pay our money for this? Wee
send them to learne their grammar and their Terence
and they learne their play-bookes. Well they talk
we shall have no more parliaments, God blesse us!
But an we have, I hope Zeale-of-the-land Buzzy,
and my gossip Rabby Trouble-Truth, will start up
and see we have painfull good ministers to keepe
schoole, and catechise our youth; and not teach 'em
to speake plays and act fables of false newes."

Studying this rather unexplored subject, one gets many a glimpse of
famous characters in interesting relations. Erasmus says that Sir
Thomas More, "adolescens, comoediolas et scripsit et egit," and while
a page with Archbishop Moreton, as plays were going on in the palace
during the Christmas holidays, he would often, showing his schoolboy
accomplishment, step on the stage without previous notice, and
exhibit a part of his own which gave more satisfaction than the whole
performance besides.

In Leland's report of the theatricals where King James behaved so
ungraciously, "the machinery of the plays," he says, "was chiefly
conducted by Mr. Jones, who undertook to furnish them with rare
devices, but performed very little to what was expected." This is
believed to have been Inigo Jones, who soon was to gain great fame as
manager of the Court masques. The entertainment was probably ingenious
and splendid enough, but every one took his cue from the king's
pettishness, and poor "Mr. Jones" had to bear his share of the

In 1629 a Latin play was performed at Cambridge before the French
ambassador. Among the student spectators sat a youth of twenty, with
long locks parted in the middle falling upon his doublet, and the
brow and eyes of the god Apollo, who curled his lip in scorn,
and signalised himself by his stormy discontent. Here is his
own description of his conduct: "I was a spectator; they thought
themselves gallant men, and I thought them fools; they made sport,
and I laughed; they mispronounced, and I misliked; and to make up the
Atticism, they were out and I hissed." It was the young Milton, in the
year in which he wrote the _Hymn on the Nativity._

Do I need to cite other precedents for the procedure at the
Sweetbrier? I grant you it cannot be done from the practice of
American colleges. The strictest form of Puritanism stamped itself too
powerfully upon our New England institutions at their foundation, and
has affected too deeply the newer seminaries elsewhere in the country,
to make it possible that the drama should be anything but an outlaw
here. Nevertheless, at Harvard, Yale, and probably every considerable
college of the country, the drama has for a long time led a
clandestine life in secret student societies, persecuted or at best
ignored by the college government,--an unwholesome weed that deserved
no tending, if it was not to be at once uprooted.

I do not advocate, Fastidiosus, a return to the ancient state of
things, which I doubt not was connected with many evils; but is there
not reason to think a partial revival of the old customs would be
worth while? It was not for mirth merely that the old professors and
teachers countenanced the drama. To the editors of _David's Harp_
I have sent this passage from Milton, noblest among the Puritans,
and have besought them to lay it before their consistory: "Whether
eloquent and graceful incitements, instructing and bettering the
nation at all opportunities, not only in pulpits, but after another
persuasive method, in theatres, porches, or whatever place or way, may
not win upon the people to receive both recreation and instruction,
let them in authority consult." The German schoolmasters and
professors superintended their boys in the representation of
religious plays to instruct them in the theology which they thought
all-important; in the performance of Aristophanes and Lucian, Plautus
and Terence, mainly in the hope of improving them in Greek and Latin:
and when the plays were in the vernacular, it was often to train their
taste, manners, and elocution. Erasmus and the Oxford and Cambridge
authorities certainly had the same ideas as the Continental scholars.
So the English schoolmasters in general, who also managed in the plays
to give useful hints in all ways. For instance, Nicholas Udal, in
the ingenious letter in _Ralph Roister Doister_, which is either
loving or insulting according to the position of a few commas or
periods, must have meant to enforce the doctrine of Chaucer's couplet:

"He that pointeth ill,
A good sentence may oft spill."

Madame de Maintenon was persuaded that amusements of this sort have
a value, "imparting grace, teaching a polite pronunciation, and
cultivating the memory"; and Racine commends the management of St.
Cyr, where "the hours of recreation, so to speak, are put to profit by
making the pupils recite the finest passages of the best poets." Here
is the dramatic instinct, almost universal among young people,
and which has almost no chance to exercise itself, except in the
performance of the farces to which we are treated in "private
theatricals." Can it not be put to a better use? It would be a
cumbrous matter to represent or listen to the _Aulularia_, or the
_Miles Gloriosus_, or the [Greek: Eirhene], in which Dr. Dee and
his Scarabeus figured so successfully. The world is turned away from
that[1]; but here is the magnificent wealth of our own old dramatic
literature, in which is contained the richest poetry of our
language. It was never intended to be read, but to be heard in living
presentment. For the most part it lies almost unknown, except in the
case of Shakespeare, and him the world knows far too little. Who does
not feel what a treasure in the memory are passages of fine poetry
committed early in life?

[Footnote 1: The developments of the last forty years show this
judgment to be erroneous.]

Who can doubt the value to the bearing, the fine address, the literary
culture of a youth of either sex that might come from the careful
study and the attempt to render adequately a fine conception of some
golden writer of our golden age, earnestly made, if only partially

I say only partially successful, but can you doubt the capacity of our
young people to render in a creditable way the conceptions of a
great poet? Let us look at the precedents again. When Mademoiselle
de Caylus, in her account of St. Cyr, speaks of the representation of
_Andromaque_, she writes, "It was only too well done." And prim
Madame de Maintenon wrote to Racine: "Our young girls have played it
so well they shall play it no more"; begging him to write some moral
or historic poem. Hence came the beautiful masterpiece _Esther_,
to which the young ladies seem to have done the fullest justice, for
listen to the testimony. The brilliant Madame de Lafayette wrote:
"There was no one, great or small, that did not want to go, and this
mere drama of a convent became the most serious affair of the court."
That the admiration was not merely feigned because it was the fashion,
here is the testimony of a woman of the finest taste, Madame de
Sevigne, given in her intimate letters to her daughter, who, in these
confidences, spared no one who deserved criticism:

The king and all the Court are charmed with
_Esther_. The prince has wept over it. I cannot tell
you how delightful the piece is. There is so perfect
a relation between the music, the verses, the songs,
and the personages, that one seeks nothing more.
The airs set to the words have a beauty which cannot
be borne without tears, and according to one's
taste is the measure of approbation given to the
piece. The king addressed me and said, "Madame,
I am sure you have been pleased." I, without being
astonished, answered, "Sire, I am charmed. What
I feel is beyond words." The king said to me,
"Racine has much genius." I said to him, "Sire,
he has much, but in truth these young girls have
much too; they enter into the subject as if they
had done nothing else." "Ah! as to that," said he,
"it is true." And then his Majesty went away and
left me the object of envy.

Racine himself says in the Preface to _Esther_:

The young ladies have declaimed and sung this
work with so much modesty and piety, it has not
been possible to keep it shut up in the secrecy of
the institution; so that a diversion of young people
has become a subject of interest for all the Court;

and what is still more speaking, he wrote at once the _Athalie_,
"la chef d'oeuvre de la poesie francaise," in the judgment of the
French critics, to be rendered by the some young tyros. When, in
1556, in Christ Church Hall, _Palamon and Arcite_ was finished,
outspoken Queen Bess, with her frank eyes full of pleasure, declared
"that Palamon must have been in love indeed. Arcite was a right
martial knight, having a swart and manly countenance, yet like a Venus
clad in armour." To the son of the dean of Christ Church, the boy of
fourteen, who played Emilie in the dress of a princess, her compliment
was still higher. It was a present of eight guineas,--for the
penurious sovereign, perhaps, the most emphatic expression of approval

Shall I admit for a moment that our American young folks have less
grace and sensibility than the French girls, and the Oxford youths who
pleased Elizabeth? Your face now, Fastidiosus, wears a frown like
that of Rhadamanthus; but I remember our Hasty-Pudding days, when you
played the part of a queen, and behaved in your disguise like Thor,
in the old saga, when he went to Riesenheim in the garb of Freya, and
honest giants, like Thrym, were frightened back the whole width of the
hall. Well, I do not censure it, and I do not believe you recall it
with a sigh; and the reminiscence emboldens me to ask you whether it
would not be still better if our dear Harvard, say (the steam of the
pudding infects me through twenty years), among the many new wrinkles
she in her old age so appropriately contracts, should devote an
evening of Commencement-time to a performance, by the students,
under the sanction and direction of professors, of some fine old

At our little Sweetbrier we have young men and young women together,
as at Oberlin, Antioch, and Massachusetts normal schools. I have no
doubt our Hermione, when we gave the _Winter's Tale_, had all the
charm of Mademoiselle de Veillanne, who played Esther at St. Cyr. I
have no doubt our Portia, in the _Merchant of Venice_, in the
trial scene, her fine stature and figure robed in the doctor's long
silk gown, which fell to her feet, and her abundant hair gathered out
of sight into an ample velvet cap, so that she looked like a most wise
and fair young judge, recited

"The quality of mercy is not strained,"

in a voice as thrilling as that in which Mademoiselle de Glapion gave
the part of Mordecai. I am sure Queen Elizabeth would think our young
cavaliers, well-knit and brown from the baseball-field, "right martial
knights, having swart and manly countenances." If she could have seen
our Antoninus, when we gave the act from Massinger's most sweet and
tender tragedy of the _Virgin Martyr_, or the noble Caesar, in
our selections from Beaumont and Fletcher's _False One_, she
would have been as ready with the guineas as she was in the case of
the son of the dean of Christ Church.

Our play at the last Commencement was _Much Ado about Nothing_.
It was selected six months before, and studied with the material
in mind, the students in the literature class, available for the
different parts. What is there, thought I, in Beatrice--sprightliness
covering intense womanly feeling--that our vivacious, healthful Ruth
Brown cannot master; and what in Benedick, her masculine counterpart,
beyond the power of Moore to conceive and render? It is chiefly
girlish beauty and simple sweetness that Hero requires, so she
shall be Edith Grey. Claudio, Leonato, Don John, Pedro,--we have
clean-limbed, presentable fellows that will look and speak them all
well; and as for lumbering Dogberry, Abbot, with his fine sense of the
ludicrous, will carry it out in the best manner. A dash of the pencil
here and there through the lines where Shakespeare was suiting his own
time, and not the world as it was to be after three hundred refining
years, and the marking out of a few scenes that could be spared from
the action, and the play was ready; trimmed a little, but with not
a whit taken from its sparkle or pathos, and all its lovelier poetry

Then came long weeks of drill. In the passage,

"O my lord,
When you went onward to this ended action,
I looked upon her with a soldier's eye," etc.,

Claudio caught the fervour and softness at last, and seemed (it
would have pleased Queen Bess better than Madame de Main tenon) like
Palamon, in love indeed. Ursula and Hero rose easily to the delicate
poetry of the passages that begin,

"The pleasantest angling is to see the fish
Cut with her golden oars the silver stream,"


"Look where Beatrice like a lapwing runs."

Pedro got to perfection his turn and gesture in

"The wolves have preyed; and look, the gentle day,
Before the wheels of Phoebus, round about
Dapples the drowsy east with spots of gray."

With the rough comedy of Dogberry and the watchmen, that foils so well
the sad tragedy of poor Hero's heart-breaking, and contrasts in
its blunders with the diamond-cut-diamond dialogue of Benedick and
Beatrice, there was less difficulty. From first to last, it was
engrossing labour, as hard for the trainer as the trained, yet still
delightful work; for what is a conscientious manager, but an artist
striving to perfect a beautiful dramatic picture? The different
personages are the pieces for his mosaic, who, in emphasis, tone,
gesture, by-play, must be carved and filed until there are no flaws
in the joining, and the shading is perfect. But all was ready at last,
from the roar of Dogberry at the speech of Conrade,

"Away! you're an ass! you're an ass!"

to the scarcely articulate agony of Hero when she sinks to the earth
at her lover's sudden accusation,

"O Heavens! how am I beset!
What kind of catechising call you this?"

I fancy you ask, rather sneeringly, as to our scenery and stage
adjuncts. Once, in the great court theatre at Munich, I saw Wagner's
_Rheingold._ The king was present, and all was done for splendour
that could be done in that centre of art. When the curtain rose, the
whole great river Rhine seemed to be flowing before you across the
stage, into the side of whose flood you looked as one looks through
the glass side of an aquarium. At the bottom were rocks in picturesque
piles; and, looking up through the tide to the top, as a diver might,
the spectator saw the surface of the river, with the current rippling
forward upon it, and the sunlight just touching the waves. Through the
flood swam the daughters of the Rhine, sweeping fair arms backward
as they floated, their drapery trailing heavy behind them, darting
straight as arrows, or winding sinuously, from bottom to top, from
side to side, singing wildly as the Lorelei. The scene changed, and
it was the depths of the earth, red-glowing and full of gnomes. And a
third time, after a change, you saw from mountain-tops the city which
the giants had built in the heavens for the gods,--a glittering dome
or pinnacle now and then breaking the line of white palaces, now and
then a superb cloud floating before it, until, at last, a mist seemed
to rise from valleys below, wrapping it little by little, till all
became invisible in soft gradations of vapoury gloom. I shall never
again see anything like that, where an art-loving court subsidises
heavily scene-painter and machinist; but for all that, is it wise
to have only sneers for what can be brought to pass with more modest
means? Our hall at Sweetbrier is as large as the Christ Church
refectory, and handsomely proportioned and decorated. A wide stage
runs across the end. We found some ample curtains of crimson, set off
with a heavy yellow silken border of quite rich material, which had
been used to drape a window that had disappeared in the course of
repairs. This, stretched from side to side, made a wall of brilliant
colour against the gray tint of the room; and possibly Roger Ascham,
seeing our audience-room before and after the hanging of it, might
have had a thought of Antwerp. The stage is the one thing in the world
privileged to deceive. The most devoted reader of Ruskin can tolerate
shams here. The costumes were devised with constant reference to
Charles Knight, and, to the eye, were of the gayest silk, satin, and
velvet. There was, moreover, a profusion of jewels, which, for all
one could see, sparkled with all the lustre of the great Florentine
diamond, as you see it suspended above the imperial crowns in the
Austrian Schatz-Kammer at Vienna. The contrasts of tint were well
attended to. Pedro was in white and gold, Claudio in blue and silver,
Leonato in red; while our handsome Benedick, a youth of dark Italian
favour, in doublet of orange, a broad black velvet sash, and scarlet
cloak, shone like a bird of paradise.

There was a garden-scene, in the foreground of which, where the
eyes of the spectators were near enough to discriminate, were rustic
baskets with geraniums, fuchsias, and cactuses, to give a southern
air. In the middle distance, armfuls of honeysuckle in full bloom
were brought in and twined about white pilasters. There was an arbour
overhung with heavy masses of the trumpet-creeper. A tall column or
two surmounted with graceful garden-vases were covered about with
raspberry-vines, the stems of brilliant scarlet showing among the
green. A thick clump of dogwood, whose large white blossoms could
easily pass for magnolias, gave background. The green was lit with
showy colour of every sort,--handfuls of nasturtiums, now and then a
peony, larkspurs for blue, patches of poppies, and in the garden-vases
high on the pillars (the imposition!) clusters of pink hollyhocks
which were meant to pass for oleander-blossoms, and did, still, wet
with the drops of the afternoon shower, which had not dried away when
all was in place. When it comes to rain and dewdrops, dear Dr. Holmes,
a "fresh-water college" has an advantage. First, it was given under
gas; then, the hall being darkened, a magnesium-light gave a moon-like
radiance, in which the dew on the buds glistened, and the mignonette
seemed to exhale a double perfume, and a dreamy melody of Mendelssohn
sung by two sweet girl-voices floated out about the "pleached bower,"
like a song of nightingales. Then toward the end came the scene of the
chapel and Hero's tomb. No lovelier form was ever sculptured than that
of the beautiful Queen Louisa of Prussia, as she lies in the mausoleum
at Charlottenburg, carved by Rauch, asleep on the tomb in white
purity. To the eye, our Hero's tomb was just such a block of spotless
marble seen against a background of black, with just such a fair
figure recumbent upon it, whose palms and lids and draping the chisel
of an artist seemed to have folded and closed and hung,--all idealised
again by the magic of the magnesium-light. As the crimson curtain was
drawn apart, an organ sounded, and a far-away choir sent into the hush
the _Ave Verum_ of Mozart, low-breathed and solemn.

It was not Munich, Fastidiosus. They were American young men and young
women, with no resources but those of a rural college, and such as
their own taste and the woods and gardens could furnish; but the young
men were shapely and intelligent, and the young women had grace and
brightness; their hearts were in it, and in the result surely there
was a measure of "sweetness and light" for them and those who beheld.

You fear it may beget in young minds a taste for the theatre, now
hopelessly given over in great part to abominations. Why not a
taste that will lift them above the abominations? Old Joachim Greff,
schoolmaster at Dessau in 1545, who has a place in the history of
German poetry, has left it on record that he trained his scholars to
render noble dramas in the conscientious hope "that a little spark of
art might be kept alive in the schools under the ashes of barbarism."
"And this little spark," says Gervinus, "did these bold men, indeed,
through two hundred years, keep honestly until it could again break
out into flame." Instead of fearing the evil result, rather would I
welcome a revival of what Warton calls "this very liberal exercise."
Were Joachim Greffs masters in our high schools and in the English
chairs in our colleges, we might now and then catch a glimpse of
precious things at present hidden away in never-opened store-houses,
and see something done toward the development of a taste that should
drive out the _opera-bouffe_.

Here, at the end, Fastidiosus, is what I now shape in mind. Hippolyte
Taine, in one of his rich descriptions, thus pictures the performance
of a masque:

The _elite_ of the kingdom is there upon the stage,
the ladies of the court, the great lords, the queen,
in all the splendour of their rank and their pride, in
diamonds, earnest to display their luxury so that all
the brilliant features of the nation's life are concentrated
in the price they give, like gems in a casket.
What adornment! What profusion of magnificence!
What variety! What metamorphoses! Gold sparkles,
jewels emit light, the purple draping imprisons
within its rich folds the radiance of the lustres.
The light is reflected from shining silk. Threads
of pearl are spread in rows upon brocades sewed
with thread of silver. Golden embroideries intertwine
in capricious arabesques, costumes, jewels,
appointments so extraordinarily rich that the stage
seems a mine of glory.

The fashionable world of our time has little taste for such pleasures.
This old splendour we cannot produce; but the words which the
magnificent lords and ladies spoke to one another as they blazed,
were those that make up the Poetry of Fletcher's _Faithful
Shepherdess_, Ben Jonson's _Sad Shepherd_, and, finest of
all, the _Comus_ of Milton. They are the most matchless frames of
language in which sweet thoughts and fancies were ever set. After
all, before this higher beauty, royal pomp even seems only a coarse
excrescence, and all would be better if the accessories of the
rendering were very simple. Already in my mind is the grove for
_Comus_ designed; the mass of green which shall stand in the
centre, the blasted trunk that shall rise for contrast to one side,
and the vine that shall half conceal the splintered summit, the banks
of wild-flowers that shall be transferred, the light the laboratory
shall yield us to make all seem as if seen through enchanter's
incense. I have in mind the sweet-voiced girl who shall be the lost
lady and sing the invocation to Sabrina; the swart youth who shall be
the magician and say the lines,

"At every fall, smoothing the raven down
Of darkness till it smiled";

and the golden-haired maid who shall glide in and out in silvery
attire, as the attendant spirit. Come, Fastidiosus,--I shall invite
too the editors of _David's Harp_,--and you shall all own the
truth of Milton's own words, "that sanctity and virtue and truth
herself may in this wise be elegantly dressed," when the attendant
spirit recites:

"Now my task is smoothly done,
I can fly or I can run
Quickly to the green earth's end,
Where the bowed welkin low doth bend;
And from thence can soar as soon
To the corners of the moon.
Mortals that would follow me,
Love virtue; she alone is free,
She can teach ye how to climb
Higher than the sphery chime;
Or if virtue feeble were,
Heaven itself would stoop to her."



In January of 1870, having decided to teach rather than preach, I
embarked for Germany to enjoy a year of foreign study. Like Western
professors in general (to borrow the witticism of President Eliot)
I occupied not so much a chair as a sofa, and felt that I needed
enlargement for the performance of my functions.

I think I saw a certain caricature first in Munich at the end of July,
then in two or three Swiss cities, then in Paris at the end of August,
then in Brussels and London; for it was popular, and the print-shops
had it everywhere. It was a map of Europe where the different
countries were represented by comical figures, each meant to hit off
the peculiarities of the nation it stood for, according to popular
apprehension. For Prussia there was an immense giant, one of whose
knees was on the stomach of Austria represented as a lank figure
utterly prostrate, while the other foot threatened to crush
South-western Germany. One hand menaced France, whose outline the
designer had managed to give rudely in the figure of a Zouave in
a fierce attitude; and the other was thrust toward Russia, a huge
colossus with Calmuck dress, and features. The most conspicuous thing
in the giant's dress was a helmet with a spike projecting from the
top, much too large for the head of the wearer, and therefore falling
over his eyes until they were almost blinded by it. The style of the
helmet was that of the usual head-dress of the Prussian soldier. The
caricature generally was not bad, and the hit at Prussia, half crushed
and blinded under the big helmet, was particularly good. Throughout
her whole history Prussia is either at war, or getting ready for war,
or lying exhausted through wounds and recovering strength. In Prussia
you found things of pugnacious suggestion always, and in the most
incongruous connections. Study the schools, and there was something
to call up the soldier. Study the church, and even there was a burly
polemic quality which you can trace back from to-day to the time when
the Prussian bishops were fighting knights. Study the people in their
quietest moods, in their homes, among their recreations, indeed, among
the graves of those they honour as the greatest heroes, and you found
the same overhanging shadow of war. This predominant martial quality
showed itself in ways sometimes brutal, sometimes absurd, sometimes

I visited Prussia at a time of entire peace, for at my departure I
crossed the frontier (or that of the North German Confederation, the
whole of which, for convenience's sake, we will call Prussia) on the
very day when King William was shouldering aside so roughly at Ems
Benedetti and the famous French demands. The things to which I gave
attention for the most part were the things which belong to peace;
yet as I arrange my recollections I find that something military runs
through the whole of them. As one's letters when he has read them are
filed away on the pointed wire standing on the desk, so as regards my
Prussian experiences everything seems to have been filed away on the
spike of a helmet.

Going out early one May morning to get my first sight of Berlin, I
stood presently in a broad avenue. In the centre ran a wide promenade
lined with tall, full-foliaged trees, with a crowded roadway on each
side bordered by stately buildings. Close by me a colossal equestrian
statue in bronze towered up till the head of the rider was on a level
with the eaves of the houses. The rider was in cocked hat, booted and
spurred, the eye turned sharp to the left as if reconnoitring, the
attitude alert, life-like, as if he might dismount any moment if he
chose. In the distance down the long perspective of trees was a lofty
gate supported by columns, with a figure of Victory on the top in a
chariot drawn by horses. Close at hand again, under the porch of a
square strong structure, stood two straight sentinels. An officer
passed in a carriage on the farther side of the avenue. Instantly
the two sentinels stepped back in concert as if the same clock-work
regulated their movements, brought their shining pieces with perfect
precision to the "present," stood for an instant as if hewn from
stone, the spiked helmets above the blond faces inclining backward at
the same angle, then precisely together fell into the old position.
The street was "Unter den Linden." The tall statue was the memorial
of Frederick the Great. The gate down the long vista was the
Brandenburger Thor, surmounted by the charioted Victory which Napoleon
carried to Paris after Jena and which came back after Waterloo. The
solid building was the palace of iron-grey old King William; and when
the clock-work sentinels went through their salute, I got my first
sight of that famous Prussian discipline, against which before
the summer was through supple France was to crush its teeth all to
fragments, like a viper that has incautiously bitten at a file.

There never was a place with aspect more military than Berlin even
in peaceful times. In many quarters towered great barracks for the
troops. The public memorials were almost exclusively in honour of
great soldiers. There were tall columns, too, to commemorate victories
or the crushing out of revolutionary spirit; rarely, indeed, in
comparison, a statue to a man of scientific or literary or artistic
eminence. Frederick sits among the tree-tops of Unter den Linden, and
about his pedestal are life-size figures of the men of his age whom
Prussia holds most worthy of honour. At the four corners ride the
Duke of Brunswick and cunning Prince Heinrich, old Ziethen and fiery
Seydlitz. Between are a score or more of soldiers of lesser note, only
soldiers, spurred and sabre-girt,--except at the very back; and there,
just where the tail of Frederick's horse droops over, stand--whom
think you?--no others than Leasing, critic and poet, most gifted and
famous; and Kant, peer of Plato and Bacon, one of the most gifted
brains of all time. Just standing room for them among the hoofs and
uniforms at the tail of Frederick's horse! Every third man one met in
Berlin was a soldier off duty. Batteries of steel guns rolled by at
any time, obedient to their bugles. Squadrons of Uhlans in uniforms of
green and red, the pennons fluttering from the ends of their lances,
rode up to salute the king. Each day at noon, through the roar of
the streets, swelled the finest martial music; first a grand sound of
trumpets, then a deafening roll from a score of brazen drums. A heavy
detachment of infantry wheeled out from some barracks, ranks of strong
brown-haired young men stretching from sidewalk to sidewalk, neat in
every thread and accoutrement, with the German gift for music all, as
the stride told with which they beat out upon the pavement the rhythm
of the march, dropping sections at intervals to do the unbroken guard
duty at the various posts. Frequently whole army corps gathered to
manoeuvre at the vast parade-ground by the Kreuzberg in the outskirts.
On Unter den Linden is a strong square building, erected, after the
model of a Roman fortress, to be the quarters of the main guard. The
officers on duty at Berlin came here daily at noon to hear military
music and for a half-hour's talk. They came always in full uniform, a
collection of the most brilliant colours, hussars in red, blue, green,
and black, the king's body-guard in white with braid of yellow and
silver, in helmets that flashed as if made from burnished gold,
crested with an eagle with out-spread wings. The men themselves
were the handsomest one can see; figures of the finest symmetry and
stature, trained by every athletic exercise, and the faces often so
young and beautiful! Counts and barons were there from Pomerania and
old Brandenburg, where the Prussian spirit is most intense, and no
nobility is nobler or prouder. They were blue-eyed and fair-haired
descendants perhaps of the chieftains that helped Herman overcome
Varus, and whose names may be found five hundred years back among the
Deutsch Ritters that conquered Northern Europe from heathendom, and
thence all the way down to now, occurring in martial and princely
connection. It was the acme of martial splendour.

"But how do you bear it all?" you say to your Prussian friend, with
whom you stand looking on at the base of Billow's statue. "Is not this
enormous preparation for bloodshed something dreadful? Then the tax
on the country to support it all, the withdrawing of such a multitude
from the employments of peace." Your friend, who had been a soldier
himself, would answer: "We bear it because we must. It is the price
of our existence, and we have got used to it; and, after all, with the
hardship come great benefits. Every able-bodied young Prussian must
serve as a soldier, be he noble or low-born, rich or poor. If he
cannot read or write, he must learn. He must be punctual, neat,
temperate, and so gets valuable habits. His body is trained to be
strong and supple. Shoemaker and banker's son, count, tailor, and
farmer march together, and community of feeling comes about. The great
traditions of Prussian history are the atmosphere they breathe, and
they become patriotic. The soldier must put off marrying, perhaps half
forget his trade, and come into life poor; for who can save on nine
cents a day, with board and clothes? But it is a wonder if he is not
a healthy, well-trained, patriotic man." So talked your Prussian; and
however much of a peace-man you might be, you could not help owning
there was some truth in it. If you bought a suit of clothes,
the tailor jumped up from his cross-legged position, prompt and
full-chested, with tan on his face he got in campaigning; and it is
hard to say he had lost more than he gained in his army training. If
you went into a school, the teacher, with a close-clipped beard and
vigorous gait, who had a scar on his face from Koeniggraetz, seemed none
the worse for it, though he might have read a few books the less and
lost his student pallor. At any rate, bad or good, so it was; and so,
said the Prussian, it must be. Eternal vigilance and preparation! I
went in one day to the arsenal. The flags which Prussian armies had
taken from almost every nation in Europe were ranged against the
walls by the hundred; shot-shattered rags of silk, white standards of
Austria embroidered with gold, Bavaria's blue checker, above all the
great Napoleonic symbol, the N surrounded by its wreath. This was the
memorable tapestry that hung the walls, and opposite glittered the
waiting barrels and bayonets till one could almost believe them
conscious, and burning to do as much as the flintlocks that won
the standards. There was a needle-gun there or somewhere for every
able-bodied man, and somewhere else uniform and equipments. When I
landed in February on the bank of the Weser, the most prominent
object was the redoubt with the North German flag. When in midsummer
I crossed the Bavarian frontier among a softer people, the last marked
object was the old stronghold of Coburg, battered by siege after siege
for a thousand years. It was the spiked helmet at the entrance and
again at the exit; and from entrance to exit, few places or times were
free from some martial suggestion. It was a nation that had come to
power mainly through war, and been schooled into the belief that its
mailed fists alone could guarantee its life.

I visited a primary school. The little boys of six came with knapsacks
strapped to their backs for their books and dinners, instead of
satchels. At the tap of a bell they formed themselves into column
and marched like little veterans to the schoolroom door. I visited
a school for boys of thirteen or fourteen. Casting my eyes into
the yard, I saw the spiked helmet in the shape of the half-military
manoeuvres of a class which the teacher of gymnastics was training for
the severer drill of five or six years later. I visited the "prima,"
or upper class of a gymnasium, and here was the spiked helmet in a
connection that seemed at first rather irreverent. After all, however,
it was only thoroughly Prussian, and deserved to be looked upon as
a comical incongruity rather than gravely blamed. A row of cheap
pictures hung side by side upon the wall. First Luther, the rougher
characteristics of the well-known portrait somewhat exaggerated. The
shoulders were even larger than common. The bony buttresses of the
forehead over the eyes, too, as they rose above the strong lower face,
were emphasised, looking truly as though, if tongue and pen failed to
make a way, the shoulders could push one, and, if worse came to worst,
the head would butt one. Next to Luther was a head of Christ; then in
the same line, with nothing in the position or quality of the pictures
to indicate that the subjects were any less esteemed, a row of royal
personages, whose military trappings were made particularly plain.
It was all characteristic enough. The Reformer's figure stood for the
stalwart Protestantism of the Prussian character, still living and
militant in a way hard for us to imagine; the portraits of the royal
soldiers stood for its combative loyalty, ready to meet anything for
king and fatherland; and the head of Christ for its zealous faith,
which, however it may have cooled away among some classes of the
people, was still intense in the nation at large. I visited the best
school for girls in Berlin, and it was singular to find the spiked
helmet, among those retiring maidens even, and this time not hung upon
the wall nor outside in the yard. The teacher of the most interesting
class I visited--a class in German literature--was a man of
forty-five, of straight, soldierly bearing, a grey, martial moustache,
and energetic eye. He told me, as we walked together in the hall,
waiting for the exercise to commence, that he had been a soldier, and
it so happened that among the ballads in the lesson for that day was
one in honour of the Prussian troops at Rossbach. Over this the old
soldier broke out into an animated lecture, which grew more and more
earnest as he went forward; he showed how the idea of faithfulness to
duty had become obscured, but was enforced again by the philosopher
Kant in his teaching, and then brought into practice by the great
Frederick. The veteran plainly thought there was no duty higher than
that owed to the _schwarzer Adler_, the black eagle of Prussia.
Then came an account of the French horse before Rossbach; how they
rode out from Weimar, the troopers, before they went, ripping open the
beds on which they had slept and scattering the feathers to the wind
to plague the housewives,--a piece of ruthlessness that came home
thoroughly to the young housekeepers; then how _der alte
Fritz_, lying in wait behind Janus Hill, with General Seydlitz and
Field-marshal Keith, suddenly rushed out and put them all to rout.
The soldier was in a fever of patriotism and rage against the French
before his description was finished, and the faces of the girls
kindled in response. "They will some time," I thought, "be lovers,
wives, mothers of Prussian soldiers themselves, and this training will
keep alive in the home the national fire."

Admirable schools they all were, the presence of the spiked helmet
notwithstanding, and crowning them in the great Prussian educational
system came the famous universities. That at Berlin counted its
students by thousands, its professors by hundreds. There was no branch
of human knowledge without its teacher. One could study Egyptian
hieroglyphics or the Assyrian arrow-head inscriptions. A new pimple
could hardly break out on the blotched face of the moon, without
a lecture from a professor next day to explain the theory of its
development. The poor earthquakes were hardly left to shake in peace
an out-of-the-way strip of South American coast or Calabrian plain,
but a German professor violated their privacy, undertook to see whence
they came and whither they went, and even tried to predict when they
would go to shaking again. The vast building of the University stood
on Unter den Linden, opposite the palace of the king. Large as it was,
its halls were crowded at the end of every hour by the thousand or two
of young men, who presently disappeared within the lecture-rooms.
Here in past years had been Hegel and Fichte, the brothers Grimm, the
brothers Humboldt, Niebuhr, and Carl Ritter. Here in my time, were
Lepsius and Curtius, Virchow and Hoffman, Ranke and Mommsen,--the
world's first scholars in the past and present. The student selected
his lecturers, then went day by day through the semester to the plain
lecture-rooms, taking notes diligently at benches which had been
whittled well by his predecessors, and where he too most likely
carved his own autograph and perhaps the name of the dear girl he
adored,--for Yankee boys have no monopoly of the jack-knife.

Where could one find the spiked helmet in the midst of the scholastic
quiet and diligence of a German university? It was visible enough in
more ways than one. Here was one manifestation. Run down the long list
of professors and teachers in the _Anzeiger_, and you would find
somewhere in the list the _Fechtmeister_, instructor in fighting,
master of the sword exercise, and he was pretty sure to be one of
the busiest men in the company. To most German students, a sword, or
_Schlaeger_, was as necessary as pipe or beer-mug; not a slender
fencing-foil, with a button on the point, and slight enough to snap
with a vigorous thrust, but a stout blade of tempered steel, ground
sharp. With these weapons the students perpetrated savageries,
almost unrebuked, which struck an American with horror. Duels were
of frequent occurrence, taking place sometimes at places and on days
regularly set apart for the really bloody work. The fighters were
partially protected by a sort of armour, and the wounds inflicted were
generally more ghastly than dangerous; though a son of Bismarck was
said to have been nearly killed at Bonn a few years before, and there
was sometimes serious maiming. Perhaps one may say it was nothing but
very rough play, but it was the play of young savages, whose sport was
nothing to them without a dash of cruel rage. The practice dates from
the time when the Germans wore wolf-skins, and were barbarians roaring
in their woods. Perhaps the university authorities found it too
inveterate a thing to be done away with; perhaps, too, they felt,
thinking as it were under their spiked helmets, that after all it had
a value, making the young men cool in danger and accustoming them to
weapons. We, after all, cannot say too much. Often our young American
students in Germany take to the _Schlaeger_ as gracefully and
naturally as game-cocks to spurs. The most noted duellist at one of
the universities that winter was a burly young Westerner, who had
things at first all his own way. A still burlier Prussian from
Tuebingen, however, appeared at last, and so carved our valiant
borderer's face, that thereafter with its criss-cross scars it looked
like a well-frequented skating-ground. Football, too, in America
probably kills and maims more in a year than all the German duels.

To crown all, the schools and University at Berlin were magnificently
supplemented in the great Museum, a vast collection, where one might
study the rise and progress of civilisation in every race of past ages
that has had a history, the present condition of perhaps every people,
civilised or wild, under the sun. In one great hall you were among the
satin garments and lacquered furniture of China; in another there was
the seal-skin work of the Esquimaux stitched with sinew. Now you sat
in a Tartar tent, now among the war-clubs, the conch-shell trumpets,
the drums covered with human skin of the Polynesians. Here it was
the feathery finery of the Caribs, here the idols and trinkets of the
negroes of Soudan. There too, in still other halls, was the history
of our own race; the maces the Teutons and Norsemen fought with, the
torcs of twisted gold they wore about their necks, the sacrificial
knives that slew the victims on the altars of Odin; so, too, what our
fathers have carved and spun, moulded, cast, and portrayed, until
we took up the task of life. In another place you found the great
collection made in Egypt by Lepsius. The visitor stood within the
facsimile of a temple on the banks of the Nile. On the walls and
lotus-shaped columns were processions of dark figures at the loom,
at the work of irrigation, marching as soldiers, or mourners at
funerals,--exact copies of the original delineations. There were
sphinx and obelisk, coffins of kings, mummies of priest and chieftain,
the fabrics they wore, the gems they cut, the scrolls they engrossed,
the tomb in which they were buried. Stepping into another section, you
were in Assyria, with the alabaster lions and plumed genii of the men
of Nineveh and Babylon. The walls again were brilliant, now with the
splendour of the palaces of Nebuchadnezzar; the captives building
temples, the chivalry sacking cities, the princes on their thrones.
Here too was Etruria revealed in her sculpture and painted vases; and
here too the whole story of Greece. Passing through these wonderful
halls, you reviewed a thousand years and more, almost from the epoch
of Cadmus, through the vicissitudes of empire and servitude, until
Constantinople was sacked by the Turks. The rude Pelasgic altar, the
sculptured god of Praxiteles, then down through the ages of decay to
the ugly painting of the Byzantine monk in the Dark Ages. So too the
whole history of Rome; the long heave of the wave from Romulus until
it becomes crested with the might and beauty of the Augustan age;
the sad subsidence from that summit to Goth and Hun. There was
architecture which the eyes of the Tarquins saw, there were statues of
the great consuls of the Republic, the luxury of the later Empire. You
saw it not only in models, but sometimes in actual relics. One's
blood thrilled when he stood before a statue of Julius Caesar, whose
sculptor, it is reasonable to believe, wrought from the life. It was
broken and discoloured, as it came from the Italian ruin where it had
lain since the barbarian raids. But the grace had not left the toga
folded across the breast, nor was the fine Roman majesty gone from the
head and face,--a head small, but high, with a full and ample brow, a
nose with the true eagle curve, and thin, firm lips formed to command;
a statue most subduing in its simple dignity and pathetic in its
partial ruin. And all this was free to the world as the air of heaven
almost. No fee for admission; the only requisitions, not to handle,
orderly behaviour, and decent neatness in attire. Here I saw too, when
I ascended the steps between the great bronze groups of statuary as I
entered, and again the last thing as I left, the spiked helmet on the
head of the stiff sentinel always posted at the door.

The German home was affectionate and genial. The American, properly
introduced, was sure of a generous welcome, for it was hard to find
a German who had not many relatives beyond the Atlantic. There were
courteous observances which at first put one a little aback. Sneezing,
for instance, was not a thing that could be done in a corner. If the
family were a bit old-fashioned, you would be startled and abashed
by hearing the "_prosits_" and "_Gesundheits_" from the
company, wishes that it might be for your advantage and health
sonorously given, with much friendly nodding in your direction. This
is a curious survival of an old superstition that sneezing perhaps
opened a passage through which an evil spirit might enter the body.
As you rose from the table it was the old-fashioned way, too, to go
through with a general hand-shaking, and a wish to every one that the
supper might set well. The Germans are long-lived, and almost every
domestic hearthstone supports the easy-chairs of grandparents.
Grandfather was often fresh and cheerful, the oracle and comforter of
the children, treated with deference by those grown up, and presented
to the guest as the central figure of the home. As the younger ones
dropped off to bed and things grew quieter, grandfather's chair was
apt to be the centre toward which all tended, and, of course, the old
man talked about his youth. Here are the reminiscences I heard once at
the end of a merry evening, and at other times I heard something not
unlike: "Children and grandchildren and guest from over the sea, when
I was a boy, Prussia was struggling with the first Napoleon; and
when I was eighteen I marched myself under Bluecher beyond the Rhine.
Sometimes we went on the run, sometimes we got lifts in relays of
waggons, and so I have known the infantry even to make now and then
fifty miles a day. Matters were pressing, you see (_sehen Sie
'mal_). At last we crossed at Coblentz, and got from there into
Belgium the first days of June. We met the French at Ligny,--a close,
bitter fight,--and half my battalion were left behind there where they
had stood. We were a few paces off, posted in a graveyard, when the
French cavalry rode over old Marshal Vorwaerts, lying under his horse.
I saw the rush of the French, then the countercharge of the Prussian
troopers when missed the General and drove the enemy back till they
found him again; though what it all meant we never knew till it was
over. Then, after mighty little rest, we marched fast and far, with
cannon-thunder in our ears in a constant mutter, always growing
louder, until in the afternoon we came at a quickstep through a piece
of woods out upon the plain by Waterloo, where they had been fighting
all day. Our feet sucked in the damp ground, the wet grain brushed our
knees, as our compact column spread out into more open order and went
into fire. What a smoke there was about La Haye Sainte and Hougomont,
with now lines of red infantry, or a column in dark blue, or a mass
of flashing cuirassiers hidden for a moment, then reappearing! It was
take and give, hot and heavy, for an hour or so about Planchenoit. A
ball grazed my elbow and another went through my cap; but at sunset
the French were broken, and we swept after the rout as well as we
could through the litter, along the southward roads. We were at a halt
for a minute, I remember, when a rider in a chapeau with a plume, and
a hooked nose underneath, trotted up, wrapped in a military cloak,
and somebody said it was Wellington." Grandfather was sure to be at
a white heat before he had finished, and so, too, his audience. The
athletic student grandson, with a deep scar across his cheek from a
_Schlaeger_ cut, rose and paced the room. The _Fraeulien_,
his sister, to whom the retired grenadier has told the story of the
feather-beds at Weimar, showed in her eves she remembered it all.
"Yes, friend American!" breaks in the father of the family, "and it
all must be done over again. Sooner or later it must come, a great
struggle with France; the Latin race or the Teutonic, which shall be
supreme in Europe? We are ready now; arsenals filled, horses waiting,
equipments for everybody. Son Fritz there has his uniform ready, and
somewhere there is one for me. _Donnerwetter_! If they get into
Prussia, they'll find a tough old _Landsturm_! Only let Vater
Wilhelm turn his hand, and to-morrow close upon a million trained and
well-armed troops could be stepping to the drum." It was an evening at
the end of June. Napoleon was having the finishing touches put to the
new Opera House at Paris, thinking, so far as the world could tell,
of nothing more important than how many imperial eagles it would do to
put along the cornice. King William was packing for Ems, designing
to be back at the peaceful unveiling of his father's statue the first
week in August. Bismarck was at his Pomeranian estate, in poor health,
it was said, plotting nothing but to circumvent his bodily trouble.
In less than a month full-armed Prussia was on the march. I could
understand the readiness, when I thought of the spiked helmet I had
seen in the Prussian home that quiet summer night.

The German _Friedhof_, or burying-ground, had never the extent or
magnificence of some American cemeteries. Even near the cities it was
small and quiet, showing, however, in the well-kept mounds and stones
there was no want of care. Every old church, too, was floored with
the memorial tablets of those buried beneath, and bare upon walls and
columns monuments in the taste of the various ages that have come
and gone since the church was built. Graves of famous men, here as
everywhere, were places of pilgrimage, and here as everywhere to
see which are the most honoured tombs, was no bad way of judging the
character of the people. Among the scholars of Germany there have been
no greater names than those of Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm, brothers not
far apart in the cradle, not far apart in death, who lived and worked
together their full threescore years and ten. They were two wonderful
old men, with faces--as I saw them together in a photograph shown me
by Hermann Grimm, the well-known son of Wilhelm--full of intellectual
strength, and yet with the sweetness and innocence of children. They
lie now side by side in the Matthaei Kirchhof at Berlin, in graves
precisely similar, with a lovely rose-bush scattering petals
impartially on the turf above both, and solid twin stones at their
heads, meant to endure apparently as long as their fame. Hither come a
large and various company of pilgrims,--children who love the brothers
Grimm for their fairy-tales, young students who have been kindled by
their example, and grey old scholars who respect their achievements
as the most marvellous work of the marvellous German erudition. The
little North German city, Weimar, is closely associated with the
great literary men of the last hundred years. Here several of them
accomplished their best work under the patronage of an enlightened
duke, and finally found their graves. An atmosphere of reverend
quiet seemed to hang over it as I walked through its shaded
streets,--streets where there is never bustle, and which appear to
be always remembering the great men who have walked in them. In the
burying-ground in the outskirts I found the mausoleum of the ruling
house, a decorated hall of marble with a crypt underneath in which
are the coffins. The members of the Saxe-Weimar family for many
generations are here; the warlike ancestor with his armour rusting on
the dusty lid, grand-duke and duchess, and the child that died before
it attained the coronet. But far more interesting than any of these
are two large plain caskets of oak, lying side by side at the foot of
the staircase by which you descend. In these are the bones of Goethe
and Schiller. The heap of wreaths, some of them still fresh, which lay
on the tops, the number on the coffin of Schiller being noticeably the
larger, showed how green their memory had been kept in the heart of
the nation. I was only one of a great multitude of pilgrims who are
coming always, their chief errand being to see the graves of these
famous dead within the quiet town. In the side of the Schloss Kirche,
in the city of Wittenberg, is an old archway, with pillars carved as
if twisted and with figures of saints overhead, the sharpness of the
cutting being somewhat broken and worn away through time. It is
the doorway which rang loud three hundred years ago to the sound of
Luther's hammer as he nailed up his ninety-five theses. Within the
church, about midway toward the altar and near the wall, the guide
lifts an oaken trap-door and shows you, beneath, the slab which covers
Luther's ashes. Just opposite, in a sepulchre precisely similar, lies
Melancthon, and in the chancel near by, in tombs rather more stately,
the electors of Saxony that befriended the reformers. A spot worthy
indeed to be a place of pilgrimage! attracting not only those who
bless the men, but those who curse them. Charles V. and Alva stood
once on the pavement where the visitor now stands, and the Emperor
commanded the stone to be removed from the grave of Luther. Did the
body turn in its coffin at the violation? It might well have been so,
for never was there fiercer hate. For three centuries the generations
have trooped hitherward, more often drawn in reverence, but sometimes
through very hatred, a multitude too mighty to be numbered. But there
is a grave in Prussia, where, if I mistake not, the pilgrims are
more numerous and the interest, for the average Prussian, deeper than
scholar or poet or reformer call out. The garrison church at Potsdam
has a plain name and is a plain edifice, when one thinks of the
sepulchre it holds. Hung upon the walls are dusty trophies; there are
few embellishments besides. You make your way through the aisles
among the pews where the regiments sit at service, marching from their
barracks close by, then through a door beneath the pulpit enter a
vault lighted by tapers along the wall. Two heavy coffins stand on the
stone floor,--the older one that of Frederick William I., that despot,
partially insane, perhaps, who yet accomplished great things for
Prussia; the other that of his famous son, Frederick the Great, whose
sword cut the path by which Prussia advanced to her vast power. On the
copper lid formerly lay that sword, until the great Napoleon when
he stood there, feeling a twinge of jealousy perhaps over the dead
leader's fame, carried it away with him. Father and son lie quietly
enough now side by side, though their relations in life were stormy.
About the great soldier's sleep every hour rolls the drumbeat from the
garrison close by. The tramp of the columns as they come in to worship
jar the warrior's ashes. The dusky standards captured in the Seven
Years' War droop about him. The hundred intervening years have
blackened them, already singed in the fire of Zorndorf, Leuthen, and
Torgau. The moth makes still larger the rent where the volleys passed.
The spiked helmet is even here among the tombs; and schooled as the
Prussians are among the din of trumpets and smoke of wars, no other
among the mighty graves in their land holds dust, in their thought, so

Seven hundred years ago Frederick's ancestor Conrad, the younger son
of a family of some rank, but quite undistinguished, riding down from
the little stronghold of Hohenzollern in Swabia, with nothing but a
good head and arm, won favour with the Emperor Barbarossa and became
at last Burggraf of Nuremberg. I saw the old castle in which this
Conrad lived and his line after him for several generations. It rises
among fortifications the plan for which Albert Duerer drew, with narrow
windows in the thick masonry of the towers, the battlements worn by
the pacing to and fro of sentinels in armour, and an ancient linden in
the court-yard, planted by an empress a thousand years ago it is said,
with as green a canopy to throw over the tourist to-day as it threw
over those old Hohenzollerns. Conrad transmitted to his descendants
his good head and strong arm, until at length becoming masters of
Baireuth and Anspach, they were Margraves and ranked among important
princes. Their seat now was at Culmbach, in the great castle of the
Plessenburg. I saw one May morning the grey walls of the old nest high
on its cliff at the junction of the red and white Main, threatening
still, for it is now a Bavarian prison. The power of the house grew
slowly. In one age it got Brandenburg, in another the great districts
of Ost and West Preussen; now it was possessions in Silesia, now again
territory on the Rhine. Power came sometimes through imperial gift,
sometimes through marriage, sometimes through purchase or diplomacy
or blows. From poor soldiers of fortune to counts, from counts to
princes, from princes to electors, and at last kings. Sometimes
they are unscrupulous, sometimes feeble, sometimes nobly heroic
and faithful; more often strong than weak in brain and hand.
The Hohenzollern tortoise keeps creeping forward in its history,
surpassing many a swift hare that once despised it in the race. I
believe it is the oldest princely line in Europe. There is certainly
none whose history on the whole is better. Margraf George of
Anspach-Baireuth was perhaps the finest character among the Protestant
princes of the Reformation, without whom the good fight could not have
been fought. When Charles V. besieged Metz in the winter (which, with
Lorraine, had just been torn from Germany by the French), and was
compelled by the cold to withdraw, it was a Hohenzollern prince, one
of the first soldiers of the time, who led the rear-guard over ground
which another Hohenzollern, Prince Frederick Charles, has again made
famous. Later, in Frederick the Great, the house furnished one of the
firmest hands that ever held a royal sceptre. His successors have been
men of power.

They are good types of their stock, and Prussia is worthy of the
leadership to which she is advancing. In the cathedral of Speyer stand
the statues of the mighty German Kaisers, who six hundred years ago
wore the purple, and, after their wild battle with the elements of
disorder about them, were buried at last in its crypts. They are
majestic figures for the most part, idealised by the sculptor, and
yet probably not far beyond nature; for the imperial dignity was not
hereditary, but given to the man chosen for it, and the choice was
often a worthy one. They were leaders in character as well as station,
and it is right to give their images the bearing of men strong in war
and council. I felt that if the ancient dignity was to be revived in
our own day, and the sceptre of Barbarossa and Rudolph of Hapsburg to
be extended again over a united Germany, there had been few princes
more worthy to hold it than the modern Hohenzollern.

In speaking of this great people so as to give the best idea of them
in a short space, I have seized on what seemed to me in those days
the most salient thing, and described various phases of their life as
pervaded by it. The fighting spirit was bred in their bones. They were
a nation of warriors almost as much as the Spartans, and stood ready
on the instant to obey the tap of the drum calling to arms. Such
constant suggestions of war were painful. The spiked helmet is never
an amiable head-dress; "but," said the representative Prussian,
"there is no help for it. We have been a weak people wedged in between
powerful unscrupulous neighbours, and have had a life-and-death
struggle to wage almost constantly with one or the other of these, or
all at once. And in what way is our situation different now? Is Russia
less ambitious? How many swords has France beaten into ploughshares?
What pruning-hooks have been made from the spears of Austria? Let
us know on what conditions we can live other than wearing our spiked
helmets, and we will embrace them." It was not an easy matter to argue
down your resolute Prussian when he turned to you warmly, after you
had been crying peace to him.

As I pondered, I thought perhaps it is a necessity, since the world is
what it is, that Europe should still be a place of discord. America,
however, is practically one, not a jarring company of nations
repeating the protracted agony of the Old World. We have no question
of the "balance of power" coming up in every generation, settled only
to be unsettled amid devastation and slaughter. We can grow forward
unhindered, with hardly more than a feather's weight of energy taken
for fighting from the employments of peace. America stands indeed a
nation blessed of God; and there is nothing better worth her while to
pray for than that a happier time may come to her giant brother over
the sea; that the strength of such an arm may not always waste itself
wielding the sword; that the sensibilities of such a heart may not be
crushed or brutalised in carnage that forever repeats itself; that
the noble head may some time exchange the spiked helmet for the olive
chaplet of peace.



We rememberers lie under certain suspicion. "Uncle Mose," said an
inquirer, his intonation betraying scepticism, "they say you remember
General Washington." "Yaas, Boss," replied Uncle Mose, "I used to
'member Gen'l Washington, but sence I jined de church I done forgot."
Not having joined Uncle Mose's church, my memory has not experienced
the ecclesiastical discouragement that befell him. I humbly trust,
however, it needs no chastening, and aver that I do not go for my
facts to my imagination. I am now in foreign parts dealing with
personages of especial dignity and splendour and must establish my
memory firmly in the reader's confidence.

I was a student in Germany in 1870. In the spring at Berlin, passing
by the not very conspicuous royal palace on Unter den Linden, one day
I studied the front with some interest. The two sentinels stood in the
door saluting with clock-work precision the officers who frequently
passed. A watchful policeman was on the corner, but there was little
other sign that an important personage was within the walls. With some
shock I suddenly caught sight, in a window close at hand, of a tall,
robust figure with a rugged but not ungenial face surmounted by
grizzled hair, in uniform with decorations hanging upon the broad
breast, who, as I glanced up, saluted me with an unlooked-for nod. I
knew at once it was the King of Prussia, who before the year was ended
was to be crowned as Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse at Versailles. I was
thoroughly scared, as I did not know that it was the habit of the King
to stand in the window and good-naturedly greet the passer-by.

That was my first sight of a real king. But there is another figure
which I contemplate with more interest. The 31st of May of 1870 was a
day sent from heaven, brilliant sunshine after a period of cloud; the
spring lording it in the air, the trees and grass in their freshest
luxuriance. I was at Potsdam that day; in the wide-stretching gardens
that surround the New Palace. As I walked, I came to a cord drawn
across the path, indicating that visitors were to go no farther. Close
by stood a tall young grenadier on duty as a sentinel, but willing to
chat. Looking beyond the cord into the reserved space I presently saw
coming up from a secluded path, a low carriage drawn by a pony led by
a groom in which was seated a lady dressed in white. She was not of
distinguished appearance but my grenadier told me that it was the
Crown Princess of Prussia, the daughter of the Queen of England.
From the screen of the bush I watched her with natural interest. The
carriage paused and a group of little boys and girls came running
out from the thicket attended by a governess or two and a tutor. The
little girls had their hands full of flowers, which, running forward,
they threw into the carriage. The boys, too, ran up with pretty
demonstrations, and a straight little fellow of ten years or so
hurried to the groom and began to pat the pony's nose. These, I
learned, were the princes and princesses of the royal family. The
little fellow patting the pony's nose was the eldest and destined to
emerge into history as Kaiser Wilhelm the Second.

And now, from a door of the palace, not far distant, came striding
a notable figure, tall and stalwart, in the undress uniform of a
Prussian General. Under his fatigue cap the blond hair was abundant; a
wave of brown beard swept flown upon his breast. The face was full of
intelligence and authority, but at that moment most kindly as his blue
eyes sought the group that stood in the foreground. It was the Crown
Prince of Prussia, destined at length to be the Emperor Friedrich.
The carriage passed on, the Crown Prince walking, with his hand on the
side, while the Princess held her parasol over his head, laughing at
the idea evidently, that so sturdy a soldier needed that kind of a

The Crown Prince Friedrich was unpopular in those days as too
domestic, standing too much withdrawn from the bustling world, but
there was no failure when the stress came. Only a few weeks passed
before the stout soldier, whom I had seen throwing lilies and
sheltered from the sun by his wife's parasol, was at the head of
a great army corps, crushing the power of France at Worth and
Weissembourg; but the report was that he had said, "I do not like war,
and if I am ever King I shall never make war."

A few weeks after the Potsdam incident I was in the city of Vienna.
One morning, like thunder out of a clear sky, news came of the
outbreak of the Franco-Prussian war. I read the paper, but, not
feeling that the news need interfere with my sight-seeing, went to the
Hofbourg, the old palace, in the heart of the city, of the Imperial
family of Austria. The building is extensive; the streets of the city
at that time running under it here and there in tunnels. I visited
the _Schatz_ Kammer, the treasure-room, and saw men go almost
demented at the spectacle of the gold and jewels heaped up in the
cases. The sight of the splendour, the heaped-up jewels, the
batons, the faded, and sometimes bloody, garments, the trinkets and
decorations, associated with towering personalities of the past,
attuned my spirit for some adventure above the commonplace. As I came
down into the street, narrow and overhung by the confining arch, a
soldier passed me on the run into an open space just beyond, where
instantly a battalion hurried out to stand at present. Then in the
distance I heard galloping of horses and an open carriage rapidly
approached, in which were seated four figures, protected from the
light rain by grey overcoats, wearing the chapeaux which have come
down from Napoleonic times. The carriage passed so near that I was
obliged to press back against the wall to save my feet from the
wheels, and a figure on the back seat, who, for the moment, was within
arm's reach, I recognised as Francis Joseph.

He was then a man in his best years, a strong, sensible if not
impressive face, and a well-knit frame. He had driven in from
Schoenbrunn to attend a council meeting, and the day for him was no
doubt a most critical one. War had come. It was only four years after
Koeniggraetz. His old enemy, Prussia, was about to hurl herself, with
who could tell what allies, against France. What stand should Austria
take? If the Kaiser was agitated, his face did not show it; it was
significant of quiet, cool poise. Excitement was repressed, while good
sense weighed and determined. Few sovereigns have been obliged to face
so often situations of the utmost difficulty. I can believe that with
similar imperturbability Francis Joseph has confronted the series of
perplexities which make up the tangled story of his long career, and
I count it good fortune that I witnessed, in a moment of supreme
embarrassment, the balance and resolution with which the good ruler
went to his task. Austria, as the world knows, decided that day to be
neutral in the Franco-Prussian quarrel.

The disorder in the land made me feel that I must get nearer to my
base, so I hurriedly left Vienna for Munich, which I found seething
with agitation, for, like Austria, Bavaria had only a few years before
been Prussia's enemy, and so far as the populace was concerned all
was in doubt as to what course would now be taken. The rumour was that
McMahon had crossed the Rhine at Strassburg with 150,000 men, and was
marching to interpose between Northern and Southern Germany.

At the Ober-Pollinger I heard in the inn, amid the stormy discussion
of the crisis, something quite out of harmony with the spirit of the
hour. The first performance was to be given in the Royal Opera House
of a work of Richard Wagner, the _Rheingold_. Wagner in those
days had not attained his great fame, and, to a man like me, who had
no especial interest in music, was a name almost unknown, but I went
with the crowd, thinking to help out a dreary evening rather than to
enjoy a masterpiece. The house was crowded. In the centre before the
stage an ample space was occupied by the royal box, richly carved and
draped. Presently the King entered, a slender, graceful figure in a
dress suit, his dark rather melancholy face looking handsome in the
gorgeous setting of the theatre. The crowded audience rose to their
feet in a tumult of enthusiasm. The air resounded with "Hoch! Hoch!"
the German cheer, and handkerchiefs waved like a snow-storm. The
King bowed right and left in acknowledgment of the plaudits, and
the performance of the evening was kept long in waiting. The line of
Bavarian kings has perhaps little title to our respect. The Ludwig
of fifty years ago was a voluptuary, vacillating, like another Louis
Quinze, between debauchery and a weak pietism. He probably merited the
cuts of the relentless scourge of Heine than which no instrument of
chastisement was ever more unsparing, and which in his case was put
to its most merciless use; but he loved art and lavished his revenues
upon pictures, statues, and churches, which the world admires,
imparting a benefit, though his subjects groaned. His successor,
whom I saw, was a man morbid and without force, who early came to a
sorrowful end. His redeeming quality was a fine aesthetic taste,
which he had no doubt through heredity, together with a sad burden of
disease. The world remembers kindly that he was a prodigal patron of

I went to Heidelberg in February, 1870, bent upon a quiet year of
study in Germany and France. Fate had a different programme for me. My
plans were badly interfered with but to see Europe in such a turmoil
was an experience well worth having. Heidelberg that spring was very
peaceful. The ice in the Neckar on which skaters were disporting on
my arrival passed out in due course of time to the Rhine, the foliage
broke forth in glory on the noble hills and the nightingales came back
to sing in the ivy about the storied ruins. There was no suggestion in
the air of cannon thunder. At Berlin, however, as I have described, I
found things wearing a warlike air. I was eager to perfect my German
and sought chances to talk with all whom I met, and often had pleasant
converse with the young soldiers who when off duty numerously flocked
to the gardens and street corners. I recall in particular three young
soldiers whose subsequent fate I should like to know. The first was
a handsome young grenadier who had talked with me affably as we stood
together screened by the bush in the garden of the New Palace at
Potsdam watching the family of the Crown Prince, that beautiful
forenoon in May.... When I told him I had myself _mitgemacht_ the
Civil War in America he at once accorded me respect as a veteran.
I think he was a _Freiwilliger_, one of the class, who, having
reached a high status in the Gymnasium, enjoyed the privilege of a
shorter term of service. He had the bearing of a cultivated gentleman
and there was strength in his firm young face which I have no doubt
made him a good soldier in the time of stress. We shook hands at last
in the friendliest way and I saw him no more. A few days later the
train in which I was riding stopped at Erfurt and among the groups
at the station was one that interested me much. In the centre stood
a sturdy young Uhlan gaudy in full dress which I fancied he had only
lately assumed, his stature was increased by his lofty horse-hair
plume and he wore his corselet over a uniform in which there was many
a dye. A bevy of pretty girls thronged around him, freshly beautiful
after the German type, blond and blue-eyed in attractive summer
draperies, and I speculated pleasantly as to which among them were
sisters and which sweethearts. As the train departed the young Uhlan
climbed into my compartment and we sat vis-a-vis as we rode on through
the country. He was a frank ingenuous boy of twenty with eyes that
danced with life, and a mobile play of features. My claim that I had
seen service in the tented field again served me in good stead as an
introduction; it was a passport to his confidence and I had a pleasant
hour or two with him until he left me at length at his rendezvous.

Best of all I remember a third encounter. When I stepped from my car
at Weimar I asked a direction from a young grenadier off duty who
stood at hand on the platform. He too possessed the usual Teutonic
vigour and strength. A conversation sprang up in which I explained
that I was an American and desired to see as well as I could in a
few hours the interesting things in that little city so quiet and
renowned. I had found out by this time that my small veteranship was
a good asset and paraded it for all it was worth and as usual it told.
He was off duty for a few hours and had never visited the shrines of
Weimar, and if I had no objection he would like to go with me on
my tour of inspection, so together we walked through those shadowed
streets, which seemed to be haunted even in that bright sunshine by
the ghosts of the great men who have walked in them. We saw the homes
of Goethe and Schiller, the noble statues of the _Dichter-Paar_,
and the old theatre behind it in which were first performed the
masterpieces of the German drama. We went together to the cemetery
and descending into the crypt of the mausoleum stood by the coffins
of Goethe and Schiller, the men most illustrious in German letters.
It was a memorable day of my life, the outward conditions perfect, the
June sunshine, the wealth of lovely foliage, the bird songs, and right
at hand the homes and haunts of the inspired singers whom I especially
reverenced. I was most fortunate in my companionship, the bearing of
the youth was marked by no flippancy, he venerated as I did the lofty
spirits into whose retreats we had penetrated. He was familiar with
their masterpieces and we felt for them a like appreciation. His
soldierly garb accorded perhaps ill with the peaceful suggestions of
the hour and place, but in his mind plainly the sentiment lay deep, a
warm recognition of what gave his country its best title to greatness.
We took thought too of Wieland and looked in silence at the fine
statue of Herder standing before the church in which he long
ministered; but the supreme personages for us were Goethe and
Schiller. What became of my sympathetic young soldier I have never
known. If he escaped from Mars-la-Tour and Gravelotte and Sedan I am
sure that he must have matured into a high-souled man.

I had an opportunity, during a visit to Strassburg in the spring, to
see the soldiery of France. At the time the prestige of the Second
Empire was at its height, Magenta and Solferino were considerable
battles and the French had won them. Turcos and Zouaves had long
passed in the world as soldiers of the best type and in our Civil War
we had copied zealously their fantastic apparel and drill. When the
Franco-Prussian War broke out the world felt that Germany had the
hardest of nuts to crack and in many a mind the forecast was that
France would be the victor, but even to my limited judgment the
shortcomings of the French troops were plain. They were inferior in
physique, lacking in trimness and even in cleanliness, and imperfectly
disciplined. I wondered if the rather slovenly ill-trained battalions
of small pale men could stand up against the prompt rigid alignment of
the broad-shouldered six-footers I had seen manoeuvring on the other
side of the Rhine.

I had received word in the spring from my bankers in Paris that my
letter of credit was not in regular shape and they advised me to draw
at Berlin a sum of money sufficient for present needs and transmit the
letter to them, promising to adjust the matter in such a way that both
they and I would be relieved of some inconvenience. In June I drew
a small sum and sent my letter to Paris in accordance with their
instructions, the agreement being that I was to call a month or so
later on the correspondents at Munich of the Paris bankers and receive
from them the corrected letter. I then travelled as far as Vienna
where all unforeseen the news startled me of the outbreak of the war.
I hurried to Munich, my little store of money being by that time much
depleted. At the banking house I learned to my consternation that they
had heard nothing of me or my letter of credit. Still worse, there was
no prospect of hearing, communication with Paris was completely broken
off. The rumour was that McMahon had crossed the Rhine at Strassburg
with one hundred and fifty thousand men on the march to interpose
between Southern and Northern Germany. The house had not heard from
Paris and could not expect to hear. Acting on their advice I sent a
distressful telegram roundabout through Switzerland to Paris. There
was a possibility that such a message might go through; otherwise
there was no hope. I then spent at Munich one of the most anxious
weeks of my life. I was nearer the pavement than I have ever been
before or since. There was a charming German family at the inn at
which I stopped, gentle, courteous people, father, mother, and a
little blue-eyed daughter. When the little girl found I was from
America I can now see her innocent wide-open eyes as she asked me if I
had ever seen an Indian. I could tell her some good stories of Indians
for in boyhood I had lived near a reservation of Senecas, at that time
to a large extent, in their primitive state. When I ventured one
day to tell the polite father of my present embarrassment I at once
noticed a sudden cooling off. The little girl no longer came to talk
with me and the family held aloof. Plainly I had become an object of
suspicion, I was now penniless, my story might be true or perhaps I
was paving the way for asking a loan. How could he tell that I was
not a dead-beat? I was really in a strait. The Americans had very
generally left the city in consequence of the turmoil. I could hear
of no one excepting our Consul who was still at his post. Calling upon
him and telling my story, I found him cool to the point of rudeness. I
had excellent letters from Bancroft and others which I showed him and
which ought to have secured me a respectful hearing. I asked only for
sympathy and counsel but I received neither, and could not have been
treated worse if I had been a proved swindler. The Consul afterwards
wrote a book in which he told of experiences with inconvenient
countrymen who had recourse to him in their straits, and possibly I
myself may have figured as one of his examples. My feeling is that
he was a man not fit for his place, for in the circumstances he might
certainly have shown some kindness. My few pieces of silver jingled
drearily in my pocket; perhaps my best course would be to enlist in
the German army. I thought the cause a just one for the atmosphere
had made me a good German, and as a soldier I might at least earn my
bread. To my joy, however, in one of my daily visits to the banking
house the courteous young partner told me that a telegram had come in
some roundabout way from Paris and they were prepared to pay me the
full amount on my letter of credit. I clutched the money, two pretty
cylinders of gold coin done up in white paper, which I sewed securely
into the waist-band of my trousers and felt an instant strengthening
of nerve and self-respect.

I departed then for Switzerland where I enjoyed a delightful
fortnight. The rebound from my depression imparted a fine
_morale_. Switzerland was practically deserted, no French or
Germans were there for they had enough to do with the war; the English
for the most part stayed at home, for Europe could only be crossed
with difficulty, and the crowd from America too was deterred by the
danger. Instead of the throngs at the great points of interest, the
visitors counted by twos and threes. The guides and landlords were
obsequious. We few strangers had the Alps to ourselves and they were
as lavish of their splendours to the handful as to the multitude. At
Geneva at last I found letters from home which caused me anxiety; I
was referred for later news to letters which were to be sent to Paris;
so there was nothing for it but for me to cross France, though by that
time France had become a camp. Fortunately I had met in Switzerland
an American friend who was proficient in French as I was not and
who likewise found it necessary to go to Paris, and we two started
together. After crossing the frontier we found no regular trains;
those that ran were taken up for the most part by the multitudes of
conscripts hurrying into armies that were undergoing disaster in
the neighbourhood of Metz. The case of two American strangers was a
precarious one involved in such a mass, with food even very uncertain
and the likelihood of being side-tracked at any station, but we
were both strong and light-hearted and I felt at my waist-band the
comfortable contact of my bright yellow Napoleons which would pull
us through. Constantly we beheld scenes of the greatest interest. The
August landscape smiled its best about us, we passed Dijon and many
another old storied city famous in former wars, and now again
humming with the military life with which they had been so many times
familiar. The _Mobiles_ came thronging to every depot from
the vineyards and fields and the remoter villages. As yet they were
usually in picturesque peasant attire, young farmers in blouses or
with _bretelles_ crossing in odd fashion the queer shirts they
wore. Careless happy-go-lucky boys chattering in the excitement of
the new life which they were entering, only half-informed as to the
catastrophes which were taking place, but the mothers and sisters,
plain country women in short skirts, quaint bodices and caps, looked
upon their departure with anxious faces. I was familiar enough with
such scenes in our own Civil War; thousands of those boys were never
to return.

Reaching Paris we found an atmosphere of depression. A week or two
before the streets had resounded with the _Marseillaise_ and
echoed with the fierce cry, "A Berlin! A Berlin!" That confidence had
all passed, I heard the _Marseillaise_ sung only once, and
that in disheartened perfunctory fashion, perhaps by order of the
authorities in a futile attempt to stimulate courage that was waning.
Rage and mortification over the fast-accumulating German successes
possessed the hearts of men. In the squares companies of civilians
were industriously drilling, often in the public places men wearing
hospital badges extended salvers to the passers-by asking for
contributions, "Pour les blesses, monsieur, pour les blesses!" Now and
then well-disciplined divisions crossed the Place de la Concorde,
the regiments stacking arms for a brief halt. I studied them close at
hand; these at least looked as might have looked the soldiers of the
First Empire, strong and resolute, with an evident capacity for taking
care of themselves even in the small matter of cooking their soup, and
providing for their needs there on the asphalt. Their officers were
soldierly figures on horseback, dressed for rough work, and the
gaitered legs, with the stout shoes below dusty already from long
marching, were plainly capable of much more. There was a pathos about
it all, however, a marked absence of _elan_ and enthusiasm, the
faces under the _kepis_ were firm and strong enough but they had
little hope. Nothing so paralyses a soldier as want of confidence in
the leadership and these poor fellows had lost that. The regiments
passed on in turn, the sunlight glittering on their arms. Through the
vista of the boulevard the eagles of the Second Empire rose above,
the grave colonels were conspicuous at the head, and the drum-beats,
choked by the towering buildings, sounded a melancholy muffled march
that was befitting. It was the scene pictured by Detaille in _Le
Regiment qui Passe_. Could he have been with us on the curbstone
making his studies? It was indeed for them a funeral march, for they
were on they way to Sedan. The Prussians, it was said, were within
four days' march of the city, and the barrier at Metz had been
completely broken down.

In most minds Paris is associated with gayety, my Paris, on the other
hand, is a solemn spot darkened by an impending shadow of calamity.
The theatres were closed. No one was admitted to the Invalides, so
that I could not see the tomb of Napoleon. The Madeleine was open for
service, but deep silence prevailed. In the great spaces of the temple
the robed priests bowed before the altar and noiseless groups of
worshippers knelt on the pavement. It was a time for earnest prayers.
The Louvre was still open and I was fortunate enough to see the Venus
of Milo, though a day or two after I believe it was taken from its
pedestal and carefully concealed. The expectation was of something
dreadful and still the city did not take in the sorrow which lay
before it. "Do you think the Prussians will bombard Paris?" I heard
a man exclaim, his voice and manner indicating that such a thing was
incredible, but the Prussian cannon were close at hand. For our part,
my companion and I thought we were in no especial danger. We quartered
ourselves comfortably at a pension, walked freely about the streets,
and saw what could be seen with the usual zest of healthy young
travellers. The little steamboats were still plying on the Seine and
we took one at last for the trip that opens to one so much that is
beautiful and interesting in architecture and history. It was a lovely
afternoon even for summer and we passed in and out under the superb
arches of the bridges, beholding the noble apse of Notre Dame with the
twin towers rising beyond, structures associated with grim events
of the Revolution, the masonry of the quays and the master work of
Haussmann who was then putting a new face upon the old city. Now all
was bright and no thought of danger entered our minds as we revelled
in the pleasures of such an excursion. At length as we stood on the
deck we became aware that we were undergoing careful scrutiny
from a considerable group who for the most part made up our
fellow-passengers. We had had no thought of ourselves as especially
marked. My clothes, however, had been made in Germany and had
peculiarities no doubt which indicated as much. I was fairly well
grounded in French but had no practice in speaking. In trying to talk
French, my tongue in spite of me ran into German, which I had been
speaking constantly for six months. This was particularly the case if
I was at all embarrassed; my face and figure, moreover, were plainly
Teutonic and not Latin. The French ascribed their disasters largely to
the fact that German spies were everywhere prying into the conditions,
and reporting every assailable point and element of weakness. This
belief was well grounded; the Germans probably knew France better than
the French themselves and skilfully adapted their attacks to the lacks
and negligences which the swarming spies laid bare. The group, of
whose scrutiny we had become aware, was made up of _ouvriers_ and
_ouvrieres_, the men in the invariable blouse, with dark matted
hair and black eyes, sometimes with a ratlike keenness of glance as
they surveyed us. The women were roughly dressed, sometimes in sabots,
with heads bare or surmounted by conical caps. They belonged to the
proletariat, the class out of which had come in the Reign of Terror
the sans-culottes of evil memory and the _tricoteuses_ who had
sat knitting about the _guillotine_, the class which, within
a few months, was again to set the world aghast as the mob of _La
Commune_. As we stood disconcerted by their intent gaze, they put
their heads together and talked in low and rapid tones; then their
spokesman approached us, a man of polite bearing but ominously stern.
He was not a clumsy fellow, but darkly forceful and direct, a man
capable of a quick, desperate deed. At the moment there was the grim
tiger in their eyes and from the soft paw the swift protrusion of the
cruel claw. One thought of the wild revolutionary song, "Ca ca, ca
ira, les aristocrats a la lanterne!" They were the children of the mob
that had sung that song. With a bow, the spokesman said: "Messieurs,
we think you are Germans and we wish to know if we are right." We
protested that we were Americans, but the spokesman said he was
unconvinced, and as he pressed for further evidence I gave way to my
companion whose readier French could deal better with the situation.
He demanded to see our passports with which fortunately we were both
provided; I had not thought of a passport as a necessity, and almost
by chance had procured one the week before from our Minister
in Switzerland, a careful description, vouching for my American
citizenship, signed and sealed by the United States official.
This perhaps saved my life. We surrendered our passports to our
interrogator; he carried them back to the throng behind him who were
now glowering angrily at us, as they chattered among themselves.
Half-amused and half-alarmed, we waited while the documents were
passed from hand to hand, carefully conned and inspected. We could not
believe that we were in danger, here in the bright day in beautiful
Paris, with the sacred towers of Notre Dame soaring close at hand.
There were no _gendarmes_ on the boat or on the quays, but how
could it he that we needed protection? After a quarter of an hour's
suspense, during which there had been a voluble counselling among
the group, the spokesman came forth again with our passports in hand
carefully folded, these he returned to us, touching his hat with a
stiff and formal bow. "We have persuaded ourselves," said he, "that
you are what you claim to be, Americans, and it is fortunate for you
that it is so, for we had intended to throw you into the Seine as
Prussian spies." Here was a surprise indeed! The group then dispersed
about the boat apparently satisfied. Still rather amused than alarmed
we pocketed our passports. Under the arch of one of the stately
bridges close by, the Seine flowed in heavy shadows on its way, and
we looked down upon the dark waters. Throbbing with life as we were,
could it be possible that we had just escaped a grave in its watery
embrace? Presently we landed light-hearted, and were again in the
streets, but in days that followed immediately my heart was often in
my throat, as I read in the papers of the corpses of men taken out of
the river who undoubtedly had been thrown in under suspicion of being
German spies. After a sojourn of not quite a week in Paris we made up
our minds it was no place for us. My plans for study were quite broken
up, it was scarcely possible to get back to Germany and nothing could
be done in France. I had letters which in a time of peace would have
opened the way for me to many a pleasant circle. My intention had been
to study for some time in France, but under the circumstances it would
be a comfortable thing to have the Atlantic rolling between me
and Europe, and therefore, I prepared to depart for home. At the
_pension_, on the day I had fixed for departure, while coming
down the staircase waxed and highly polished, I slipped and fell
heavily, so bruising my knee that I was nearly crippled. Fortunately
no bones were broken and with much pain I managed to hobble to the
official from whom I must obtain a pass to leave the city. I set out
for the North, on almost the last train that left the city, at the end
of August. The sights were gloomy, the towns which we passed seemed
associated with ancient bloodshed. We touched St. Quentin and crossed
the field of Malplaquet, and finally near Mons passed the Belgian
frontier. Marlborough and the names associated with former wars were
suggested to my thoughts by these historic spots. I was heartily
glad when at length in cheerful Brussels I was beyond danger. On the
fateful day when the Second Empire went down at Sedan, I was on the
field of Waterloo where half a century before the First Empire had
perished. The news of the morning made it plain that on that day the
great _debacle_ was to culminate. We listened all day for cannon
thunder; under certain conditions of the atmosphere the sound of heavy
guns may reverberate as far perhaps, as from Sedan to Waterloo. That
day, however, there was no ominous grumble from the eastward, the sky
was cloudless, the flowers bloomed about the Chateau d'Hougomont, and
the birds twittered in peace at the point before La Haie-Sainte to
which the First Napoleon advanced in the evening and where for the
last time he heard the shout then so long familiar but forever after
unheard, "Vive l'Empereur!" Humiliation now after half a century had
overwhelmed in turn his unhappy successor.



As a Harvard undergraduate I roomed for a time in Hollis 8, a room
occupied in turn by William H. Prescott and James Schouler,
and perhaps I may attribute to some contagion caught as a
_transmittendum_ in that apartment, an itch for writing history
which has brought some trouble to me and to the rather limited circle
of readers whom I have reached. I remember debating, as a boy, whether
the more desirable fame fell to the hero in a conflict or to the
scribe who told the story. Whose place would one rather have? That of
Timoleon and Nicias or of Plutarch and Thucydides their celebrants?
But the celebrants, no doubt, seemed to their contemporaries very
insignificant figures compared to the champions whose fame they
perpetuated. The historians of America are a goodly company, scarcely
less worthy than the champions whose deeds they have chronicled. With
most men who, during the last seventy-five years, have written history
in America, I have had contact, sometimes a mere glimpse, sometimes
intimacy. Washington Irving and Prescott I never saw, though as to the
latter I have just been making him responsible to some extent for my
own little proclivity, Parkman, I only saw sitting with his handsome
Grecian face relieved against a dignified background as he sat on the
stage among the Corporation of Harvard University. Motley I have
only seen as he stood with iron-grey curls over a ruddy, strenuous
countenance topping a figure of vigorous symmetry as he spoke with
animation at a scholars' dinner. But George Bancroft, Justin Winsor,
and John Fiske I knew well, the last being in particular one of my
best friends. I could tell stories too, of the living lights, but am
concerned here with the ghosts and not with men still red-blooded.

I first saw George Bancroft when he was Minister at Berlin. He had
read a little book of mine, The Color Guard, my diary as a Corporal of
the Nineteenth Army Corps, scribbled off on my cap-top, my gun-stock,
or indeed my shoe-sole, or whatever desk I could extemporise as we
marched and fought. That book gave me some claim to his notice, but a
better claim was that his wife was Elizabeth Davis, whom more than
a hundred years ago my grandfather of the ancient First Parish in
Plymouth had baptised and who as a girl had been my mother's playmate
in gardens near Plymouth Rock. I did not presume upon such credentials
as these to obtrude myself, and was pleasantly surprised one day by
a note inviting me to the Embassy. It was a retired house near the
Thiergarten. I found Mr. Bancroft embarrassed with duties which in
those days gave trouble. German emigrants returning after prosperous
years to the Fatherland were often pounced upon, the validity of their
American citizenship denied, and taxes and military service demanded.
It was tough work to straighten out such knots and the Minister was
in the midst of such a tangle. But his high, broad forehead smoothed
presently, and his grey eyes grew genial, while the vivacious features
spoke with the very cordial impulse with which he greeted one who
had heard the bullets of the Civil War whistle and was the son of his
wife's old friend. Another tie was that his father, Dr. Aaron Bancroft
of Worcester, and my grandfather, had stood shoulder to shoulder
in the controversy of a century ago which rent apart New England
Congregationalism. Presently we sat down to lunch, a party of three,
for the board was graced by the presence of Mrs. Bancroft, a woman
of fine accomplishments polished through contact with high society in
many lands, and a gifted talker. Many readers have found her published
letters charming. The talk was largely of the Civil War and Bancroft's
words were in the best sense patriotic. During and before that period
his course had been much disapproved. He had been Collector of Boston
under Democratic auspices and had served under Polk as Secretary
of the Navy, where he laid the country lastingly under debt by
establishing the Naval Academy at Annapolis. I do not approve or
condemn, but I felt him wisely and warmly patriotic, deeply concerned
that the outcome of our long national agony should be worthy of the
sacrifice. The breath of a pleasant spring day pervaded the elegant
apartment while the birds sang in the tall trees stretching out
toward the forest of the Thiergarten. I especially associate with the
Bancrofts their beautiful outdoor environment. Another day I drove
with the Minister, our companions in the carriage being the wife and
the daughter of Ernst Curtius, to visit the rose gardens about Berlin.
I have met few men readier or more agreeable in conversation. With a
pleasant smile and intonation he touched gracefully on this and that,
sometimes in reminiscence. I remember in particular a vivid setting
forth of an interview with Goethe which he had enjoyed as a boy fifty
years before. Sometimes his talk was of poetry in general and I was
much struck with his frequent happy application of quotations to the
little events of the drive and phases of feeling that came up as the
day went on. The sun set gloriously, "_So stirbt ein Held_," said
Bancroft, as he burst with feeling into the beautiful lyric of which
these words are a line. The best German poetry seemed to be at his
tongue's end and he recited it with sympathy and accuracy which called
out much admiration from the cultivated German ladies with whom we
were driving. Most interesting of all was Bancroft's evident passion
for roses. The gardeners, as we stopped, were plainly surprised at his
knowledge of their varieties and the best methods of cultivation.
He was so well versed in the lore of the rose and so devoted to its
cultivation one might well have thought it his horse and not his
hobby. He possessed at Newport a rose garden far famed for the number
of its varieties and the perfection of the flowers, and it was an
interesting sight at Washington to see Bancroft, even when nearing
ninety, busy in his garden in H Street, one attendant shielding his
light figure with a sun umbrella, while another held at hand, hoe,
shears, and twine, the implements to train and cull. Is there a subtle
connection between roses and history? Parkman wrote an elaborate book
upon rose culture which I believe is still of authority, and John
Fiske had a conservatory opening out of his library and the rose of
all flowers was the one he prized. Here is a neat turn of McMaster.
At a dinner given in his honour a big bunch of American Beauties was
opposite to him as he sat. It fell to me to make a welcoming speech.
Catching at the occasion, I suggested a connection between roses and
history and referred to McMaster close behind his American Beauties as
an instance in point, at the same time expressing with earnestness my
strong admiration of that good writer's work. McMaster rose, his face
glowing in response to my emphatic compliment. His speech consisted of
only one sentence, "I have one bond with the rose, I blush."

I owe many favours to Bancroft; the greatest perhaps that he allowed
me to consult to my heart's content the papers of Samuel Adams, a
priceless collection which he possessed. For this he gave me _carte
blanche_ to use his library in Washington, though he himself
was absent, a favour which he said he had never accorded to an
investigator before. It was an inspiring place for a student, the
shelves burdened with treasures in manuscript as well as print. The
most interesting portrait of Bancroft presents him as a nonagenarian,
against this impressive background, at work to the last. The critics
of our day minimise Bancroft and his school. History in that time
walked in garments quite too flowing, it is said, and with an
overdisplay of the Horatian purple patch. Our grandsons may feel that
the history of our time walks in garments too sad-coloured and scant.
Research and accuracy are, of course, primary requisites in this
field, but there should be some employment of the picturesque. The
world was beautiful in the old days and human life was vivid. Ought
we to deny to all this a warm and graphic setting forth? If we do we
shall do it to our cost. Is it the proper attitude of the historian
simply to write, without thought of anything so irrelevant as a
reader? Bancroft was a pioneer, breaking the way ponderously perhaps,
but he delved faithfully. If the orotund rolls too sonorously in his
periods it was an excess in which his age upheld him. He was a good
path-breaker and ought not to be lightly esteemed by those who now go
to and fro with ease through the roads he opened.

My first touch with Justin Winsor was in my Freshman year at
Cambridge. We both had rooms under the roof of an uncle of mine. His
room was afterwards occupied, I believe, by Theodore Roosevelt. It had
been rubbed into me by many snubs that a vast gulf interposed between
the Freshman and upper-class man. I used to pass his door with
reverence, for the story went that, even as a boy, he had written a
history of Duxbury, Massachusetts. Once during his temporary absence,
his door standing open, I dared to step into the apartment and
surveyed with awe the well-filled shelves and scribbled papers; but in
later years when I had won some small title to notice I found him most
kind and approachable. The abundance of the Harvard Library and still
better the rich accumulations in the cells of his own memory he held
for general use. He loaned me once for months at St. Louis a rarely
precious seventeenth-century book, which had belonged to Carlyle, and
whose margins were sometimes filled with Carlyle's notes. He imparted
freely from his own vast information and it was pleasant indeed to
hold a chair for an hour or two in his hospitable home. In our last
interview the prose and the solemn romance of life were strangely
blended. We had just heard the burial service in Appleton Chapel read
by Phillips Brooks over the coffin of James Russell Lowell; then we
rode together on the crowded platform of a street-car to the grave at
Mount Auburn; a rough and jostling company on the platform, and in my
mind a throng of deep and melancholy thoughts. I never saw him again.
In his calling he was a master of research extracting with unlimited
toil the last fragment of evidence from the blindest scribblings of
earlier times. These results, painfully accumulated, he set down
with absolute faithfulness; his bibliographies supplementing his own
contributions and also those of the many writers whom he inspired and
guided in like labours are exhaustive. Rarely is there a wisp to be
gleaned where Winsor has garnered. If he was deficient in the power of
vivid and picturesque presentment, it is only that like all men he had
his limitations.

John Fiske I met soon after his graduation at Cambridge. It is odd
to recall him when one thinks of his later physique, as a youth with
fresh ruddy face, tall and not broad, a rather slender pillar of a
man, corniced with an abundant pompadour of brown hair. He was just
then making fame for himself in the domain of philosophy, contributing
to the New York World papers well charged with revolutionary ideas
which were then causing consternation, so lucidly and attractively
formulated that they interested the most cursory reader. Perhaps John
Fiske ought always to have kept to philosophy. Mrs. Mary Hemenway,
that princess among Ladies Bountiful, told me once the story of his
change. He made to her a frank statement of his situation. He was
conscious of power to do service; he was married, had children, and
was embarrassed with care about their bread, butter, and education
after the usual fashion of the scholar. John Fiske said in those days
the difficult problem of his life was to get enough corn-beef for
dinner to have hash for breakfast the next day. Must he descend to
desk and courtroom work to make a way, or could a way be found
by which he might do his proper task and at the same time be a
bread-winner? "Write American history," said Mrs. Hemenway, "and
I will stand behind you." She was inspired with the idea of making
America in the high sense American and saw in the young genius a good
ally. The chance was embraced and John Fiske after that dipped only
fitfully into philosophical themes, writing, however, _The Destiny
of Man, The Idea of God, Cosmic Roots of Loveland Self-sacrifice_,
and _Life Everlasting_. He gave his main strength, to a thing
worth while, the establishment in America of Anglo-Saxon freedom.
Would he have served the world better had he adhered to profound
speculations? As the patriarch in a household into which have been
born a dozen children and grandchildren, I have had good opportunity
for study. What so feeble as the feebleness of the babe! It depends
upon its mother for its sustenance, almost for its breath and its
heart-beats. The sheltering arms and the loving breast must always
be at hand as the very conditions of its existence. I have watched
in wife and daughters, as what grandsire has not, the persistent
sleepless care which alone kept the baby alive, and noted the sweet
effusion of affection which the need and constant care made to flow
abundantly, nor do the care and consequent outflow of love cease
with babyhood. The child must ever be fed, clothed, trained, and
counselled; and the youth, too, of which the baby is father, must
be watchfully guided till the stature is completed. The rod of
Moses smiting the rock evoked the beneficent water, the unremitting
parent-care striking the indifferent heart evokes the beautiful mother
and father love which grows abroad. We cannot love children well
without loving others, their companions, and at last the great worldly
environment in which they and we all are placed. Hence, from the
extension of infancy, through a period of long years, proceeds at last
from the hearts which are subjected to its influence the noble thing
which we call altruism: love for others than ourselves and the other
high spiritual instincts which are the crown of human nature. The
recognition of the extension of infancy as the source from which in
our slow evolution comes the brightest thing in the universe
belongs to our own time. It is perhaps the climax of our philosophic
speculation. What more feeble than the snowflakes! But accumulated and
compressed they become the glacier which may carapace an entire zone
and determine its configuration into mountain and valley. What more
feeble than the feebleness of the babe! And yet that multiplied by the
million through aeons of time and over continents of space fashions
humanity after the sublime pattern shown on the Mount. If to John
Fiske belongs the credit of first recognising in the scheme of
evolution the significance of this mighty factor, the extension
of infancy (he himself so believed and I do not think it can be
questioned that he was the first to recognise it), what philosophic
thinker has to a greater extent laid the world in debt? This I shall
not further discuss. I am touching in these papers only upon light
and exterior things, nor am I competent to deal with philosophical
problems and controversies. John Fiske gave his strength to the
writing of history, where, too, there are controversies into which I
do not propose to enter. I will only say that I resent the account of
him which makes him to have been a mere populariser whose merit lies
solely or for the most part in the fact that, while appropriating
materials accumulated by others, he had only Goldsmith's faculty
of making them graceful and attractive to the mass of readers. His
philosophical instinct, on the other hand, discovered, as few writers
have done, the subtle links through which in history facts are related
to facts and are weighed wisely, in the protagonists, the motives and
qualities which make them foremost figures. He saw unerringly where
emphasis should be put, what should be salient, what subordinate. Too
many writers, German especially, perhaps, have the fault of "writing
a subject to its dregs," giving to the unimportant undue place. In
Fiske's estimation of facts there is no failure of proper proportion,
the great thing is always in the foreground, the trifle in shadow or
quite unnoticed. To do this accurately is a fine power. He delved more
deeply himself perhaps than many of his critics have been willing to
acknowledge, but I incline to say that his main service to history was
in detecting with unusual insight the subtle relations of cause
and effect, links which other and sometimes very able men failed
adequately to recognise. In a high sense he was indeed a populariser.
He wore upon himself like an ample garment a splendid erudition under
which he moved, however, not at all oppressed or trammelled. Much of
the lore of Greece, Rome, the Orient, and also of modern peoples was
as familiar to him as the contents of the morning papers. With acumen
he selected and his memory retained; the cells of his capacious brain
somehow held it ready for instant use. With good discrimination he

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