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Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 11, No. 65, March, 1863 by Various

Part 2 out of 5

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fined three hundred pounds of sugar for each day.

A slave who is condemned to death shall be valued before execution, and
the estimated price paid to the master, provided the latter has not made
a pretended complaint.

Masters may chain and whip their slaves, but not mutilate, torture, or
kill them.

If a master or overseer shall kill a slave, he shall be prosecuted; but
if he can convince the court of cause, he may be discharged without
pardon from the King.

Masters who are twenty years old can free their slaves at will or by
testamentary act, without being held to give a reason for it; and if
a slave is named by testament a general legatee, or an executor, or
guardian of children, he shall be considered enfranchised.

An enfranchised slave shall be regarded as free as any person born in
France, without letters of naturalization; he can enjoy the advantages
of natives everywhere, even if he was born in a foreign country.

An enfranchised slave must pay singular respect to his ancient master,
his widow, and children; an injury done to them will be punished more
severely than if done to others. But he is free, and quit of all
service, charge, and tenure that may be pretended by his former master,
either respecting his person or property and succession.

An enfranchised slave shall enjoy the same rights, privileges, and
immunities as if he had been born free. The King desires that he may
merit his acquired liberty, and that it may confer upon him, as well in
his person as estate, the same effects which the blessing of natural
liberty confers upon French subjects.

* * * * *

The last article, and all that related to enfranchisement, are notable
for their political effect upon the colony. The free mulattoes
interpreted the liberal clauses of the Code into an extension of the
rights of citizenship to them, as the natural inference from their
freed condition. The lust of masters and the defencelessness of the
slave-woman sowed thickly another retribution in the fated soil.

The custom of enfranchising children of mixed blood, and sometimes their
mothers, commenced in the earliest times of the French colonies, when
the labor of _engages_ was more valuable than that of slaves, and the
latter were objects of buccaneering license as much as of profit. The
colonist could not bear to see his offspring inventoried as chattels. In
this matter the nations of the South of Europe appear to atone for
acts of passion by after-thoughts of humanity. The free descendants of
mulattoes who were enfranchised by French masters in Louisiana, and
who form a respectable and flourishing class in that State, now stand
beneath the American flag at the call of General Butler. But the
Anglo-American alone seems willing to originate a chattel and to
keep him so. His passion will descend as low for gratification as a
Frenchman's or a Spaniard's, but his heart will not afterwards mount as
high.

Acts of enfranchisement required at first the sanction of the
Government, until in 1682 the three sovereign courts of St. Christophe,
Martinique, and Guadeloupe offered the project of a law which favored
enfranchisements; it led to the articles upon that subject in the Edict
of 1685, quoted above, which sought at once to restrain the license of
masters and to afford them a legal way to be humane and just.[Q]

[Footnote Q: Other motives became influential as soon as the slaves
discovered their advantages. A master in want of money would offer
emancipation for a certain sum; the slave would employ every means, even
the most illicit, to raise the amount upon which his or her freedom
depended. A female slave would demand emancipation for herself or
for some relative as her price for yielding to a master; attractive
negresses wielded a great deal of power in this way. A great evil arose
from testamentary acts of enfranchisement, or equivalent promises; for
the slave in question would sometimes poison his master to hasten the
day of liberty. On the other hand, many masters of the nobler kind
emancipated their slaves as a reward for services: the rearing of
six living children, thirty years of field or domestic labor without
marooning, industry, economy, attachment, the discovery of a poisoning
scheme or of an _emeute_, saving the life of a white person with great
risk,--all these were occasional reasons for enfranchisement.]

In 1703 there were only one hundred and fifty freed persons in San
Domingo. In 1711 a colonial ordinance proscribed every enfranchisement
which did not have the approbation of the colonial government. The King
sanctioned this ordinance in 1713, and declared that all masters who
neglected the formality should lose their slaves by confiscation.

In 1736 the number of freed slaves, black and mulatto, was two thousand.
The Government, alarmed at the increase, imposed a sum upon the master
for each act of enfranchisement, in the hope to check his license. But
the master evaded this and every other salutary provision; the place and
climate, so distant from the Custom of Paris, where men dishonored only
complexions like their own, lent occasion and immunity. Colonial Nature
was more potent than paper restrictions. In 1750 there were four
thousand freed persons.

But the desire of enfranchising children was so great that the colonists
evaded all the regulations, which multiplied yearly, by taking their
slaves to France, where they became free as soon as their feet pressed
the soil. The only measure which the Government could devise to meet
this evasion was to forbid all men of color to contract marriages in
France.

In 1787 the free persons of color in San Domingo numbered 19,632. In
1790 their numbers were 25,000.

In 1681 the white inhabitants of San Domingo numbered four thousand; but
in 1790, notwithstanding a constant tide of emigration from Europe, they
numbered only thirty thousand.

The number of slaves at the same time was about four hundred thousand, a
number which represents the violent removal of several millions of black
men from Africa: some writers not anti-slavery reckon this tremendous
crime of the white man at ten millions!

What a climate, and what a system, in which only the mulatto thrives!

* * * * *

Thus far we have traced the causes and elements, of Nature, race, and
policy, the passions and peculiarities of many kinds of men, which
culminated at length, in no fair forms of humanity nor beneficent
institutions, but in the foremost sugar-plantation of the world, whose
cane-rows were planted and nourished by the first of crimes, whose juice
was expressed by over-hasty avarice and petulant ambition that could
not be satisfied unless the crime preserved features as colossal as the
passion of the hour.

We are now in a condition to perceive that the Horrors of San Domingo
were those of suicide. Bloody licentiousness lays violent hands upon
its life. Its weaknesses were full of fatal vigor, lust poisoned the
humanity which it inspired, the soil of the buccaneer could raise
nothing which was not exuberant with vengeance. Slave-Insurrection was a
mere accidental episode in the closing scenes of this bad and blundering
career.

* * * * *

A LONDON SUBURB.

One of our English summers looks, in the retrospect, as if it had been
patched with more frequent sunshine than the sky of England ordinarily
affords; but I believe that it may be only a moral effect,--a "light
that never was on sea nor land,"--caused by our having found a
particularly delightful abode in the neighborhood of London. In order to
enjoy it, however, I was compelled to solve the problem of living in
two places at once,--an impossibility which I so far accomplished as to
vanish, at frequent intervals, out of men's sight and knowledge on one
side of England, and take my place in a circle of familiar faces on the
other, so quietly that I seemed to have been there all along. It was the
easier to get accustomed to our new residence, because it was not
only rich in all the material properties of a home, but had also the
home-like atmosphere, the household element, which is of too intangible
a character to be let even with the most thoroughly furnished
lodging-house. A friend had given us his suburban residence, with all
its conveniences, elegancies, and snuggeries,--its drawing-rooms and
library, still warm and bright with the recollection of the genial
presences that we had known there,--its closets, chambers, kitchen, and
even its wine-cellar, if we could have availed ourselves of so dear and
delicate a trust,--its lawn and cozy garden-nooks, and whatever else
makes up the multitudinous idea of an English home,--he had transferred
it all to us, pilgrims and dusty wayfarers, that we might rest and take
our case during his summer's absence on the Continent. We had long been
dwelling in tents, as it were, and morally shivering by hearths which,
heap the bituminous coal upon them as we might, no blaze could render
cheerful. I remember, to this day, the dreary feeling with which I sat
by our first English fireside, and watched the chill and rainy twilight
of an autumn day darkening down upon the garden; while the portrait
of the preceding occupant of the house (evidently a most unamiable
personage in his lifetime) scowled inhospitably from above the
mantel-piece, as if indignant that an American should try to make
himself at home there. Possibly it may appease his sulky shade to know
that I quitted his abode as much a stranger as I entered it. But now, at
last, we were in a genuine British home, where refined and warm-hearted
people had just been living their daily life, and had left us a
summer's inheritance of slowly ripened days, such as a stranger's hasty
opportunities so seldom permit him to enjoy.

Within so trifling a distance of the central spot of all the world,
(which, as Americans have at present no centre of their own, we may
allow to be somewhere in the vicinity, we will say, of St. Paul's
Cathedral,) it might have seemed natural that I should be tossed about
by the turbulence of the vast London-whirlpool. But I had drifted into a
still eddy, where conflicting movements made a repose, and, wearied with
a good deal of uncongenial activity, I found the quiet of my temporary
haven more attractive than anything that the great town could offer. I
already knew London well; that is to say, I had long ago satisfied (so
far as it was capable of satisfaction) that mysterious yearning--the
magnetism of millions of hearts operating upon one--which impels every
man's individuality to mingle itself with the immensest mass of human
life within his scope. Day after day, at an earlier period, I had
trodden the thronged thoroughfares, the broad, lonely squares, the
lanes, alleys, and strange labyrinthine courts, the parks, the gardens
and inclosures of ancient studious societies, so retired and silent amid
the city-uproar, the markets, the foggy streets along the river-side,
the bridges,--I had sought all parts of the metropolis, in short, with
an unweariable and indiscriminating curiosity; until few of the native
inhabitants, I fancy, had turned so many of its corners as myself. These
aimless wanderings (in which my prime purpose and achievement were to
lose my way, and so to find it the more surely) had brought me, at one
time or another, to the sight and actual presence of almost all the
objects and renowned localities that I had read about, and which had
made London the dream-city of my youth. I had found it better than my
dream; for there is nothing else in life comparable (in that species of
enjoyment, I mean) to the thick, heavy, oppressive, sombre delight which
an American is sensible of, hardly knowing whether to call it a pleasure
or a pain, in the atmosphere of London. The result was, that I acquired
a home-feeling there, as nowhere else in the world,--though afterwards I
came to have a somewhat similar sentiment in regard to Rome; and as long
as either of those two great cities shall exist, the cities of the Past
and of the Present, a man's native soil may crumble beneath his feet
without leaving him altogether homeless upon earth.

Thus, having once fully yielded to its influence, I was in a manner free
of the city, and could approach or keep away from it as I pleased. Hence
it happened, that, living within a quarter of an hour's rush of
the London Bridge Terminus, I was oftener tempted to spend a whole
summer-day in our garden than to seek anything new or old, wonderful or
commonplace, beyond its precincts. It was a delightful garden, of no
great extent, but comprising a good many facilities for repose and
enjoyment, such as arbors and garden-seats, shrubbery, flower-beds,
rose-bushes in a profusion of bloom, pinks, poppies, geraniums,
sweet-peas, and a variety of other scarlet, yellow, blue, and purple
blossoms, which I did not trouble myself to recognize individually,
yet had always a vague sense of their beauty about me. The dim sky of
England has a most happy effect on the coloring of flowers, blending
richness with delicacy in the same texture; but in this garden, as
everywhere else, the exuberance of English verdure had a greater charm
than any tropical splendor or diversity of hue. The hunger for natural
beauty might be satisfied with grass and green leaves forever. Conscious
of the triumph of England in this respect; and loyally anxious for the
credit of my own country, it gratified me to observe what trouble and
pains the English gardeners are fain to throw away in producing a few
sour plums and abortive pears and apples,--as, for example, in this very
garden, where a row of unhappy trees were spread out perfectly flat
against a brick wall, looking as if impaled alive, or crucified, with a
cruel and unattainable purpose of compelling them to produce rich fruit
by torture. For my part, I never ate an English fruit, raised in the
open air, that could compare in flavor with a Yankee turnip.

The garden included that prime feature of English domestic scenery,
a lawn. It had been levelled, carefully shorn, and converted into
a bowling-green, on which we sometimes essayed to practise the
time-honored game of bowls, most unskilfully, yet not without a
perception that it involves a very pleasant mixture of exercise and
ease, as is the case with most of the old English pastimes. Our little
domain was shut in by the house on one side, and in other directions by
a hedge-fence and a brick wall, which last was concealed or softened by
shrubbery and the impaled fruit-trees already mentioned. Over all the
outer region, beyond our immediate precincts, there was an abundance of
foliage, tossed aloft from the near or distant trees with which that
agreeable suburb is adorned. The effect was wonderfully sylvan and
rural, insomuch that we might have fancied ourselves in the depths of
a wooded seclusion; only that, at brief intervals, we could hear the
galloping sweep of a railway-train passing within a quarter of a mile,
and its discordant screech, moderated by a little farther distance, as
it reached the Blackheath Station. That harsh, rough sound, seeking me
out so inevitably, was the voice of the great world summoning me
forth. I know not whether I was the more pained or pleased to be thus
constantly put in mind of the neighborhood of London; for, on the one
hand, my conscience stung me a little for reading a book, or playing
with children in the grass, when there were so many better things for an
enlightened traveller to do,--while, at the same time, it gave a deeper
delight to my luxurious idleness, to contrast it with the turmoil which
I escaped. On the whole, however, I do not repent of a single wasted
hour, and only wish that I could have spent twice as many in the same
way; for the impression in my memory is, that I was as happy in that
hospitable garden as the English summer-day was long.

One chief condition of my enjoyment was the weather. Italy has nothing
like it, nor America. There never was such weather except in England,
where, in requital of a vast amount of horrible east-wind between
February and June, and a brown October and black November, and a wet,
chill, sunless winter, there are a few weeks of incomparable summer,
scattered through July and August, and the earlier portion of September,
small in quantity, but exquisite enough to atone for the whole year's
atmospherical delinquencies. After all, the prevalent sombreness may
have brought out those sunny intervals in such high relief, that I see
them, in my recollection, brighter than they really were: a little
light makes a glory for people who live habitually in a gray gloom. The
English, however, do not seem to know how enjoyable the momentary gleams
of their summer are; they call it broiling weather, and hurry to the
sea-side with red, perspiring faces, in a state of combustion and
deliquescence; and I have observed that even their cattle have similar
susceptibilities, seeking the deepest shade, or standing mid-leg deep in
pools and streams to cool themselves, at temperatures which our own cows
would deem little more than barely comfortable. To myself, after the
summer heats of my native land had somewhat effervesced out of my blood
and memory, it was the weather of Paradise itself. It might be a little
too warm; but it was that modest and inestimable superabundance which
constitutes a bounty of Providence, instead of just a niggardly enough.
During my first year in England, residing in perhaps the most ungenial
part of the kingdom, I could never be quite comfortable without a fire
on the hearth; in the second twelvemonth, beginning to get acclimatized,
I became sensible of an austere friendliness, shy, but sometimes almost
tender, in the veiled, shadowy, seldom smiling summer; and in the
succeeding years--whether that I had renewed my fibre with English beef
and replenished my blood with English ale, or whatever were the cause--I
grew content with winter and especially in love with summer, desiring
little more for happiness than merely to breathe and bask. At the
midsummer which we are now speaking of, I must needs confess the
noontide sun came down more fervently than I found altogether tolerable;
so that I was fain to shift my position with the shadow of the
shrubbery, making myself the movable index of a sun-dial that reckoned
up the hours of an almost interminable day.

For each day seemed endless, though never wearisome. As far as your
actual experience is concerned, the English summer-day has positively no
beginning and no end. When you awake, at any reasonable hour, the sun is
already shining through the curtains; you live through unnumbered hours
of Sabbath quietude, with a calm variety of incident softly etched upon
their tranquil lapse; and at length you become conscious that it is
bed-time again, while there is still enough daylight in the sky to make
the pages of your book distinctly legible. Night, if there be any such
season, hangs down a transparent veil through which the by-gone day
beholds its successor; or, if not quite true of the latitude of London,
it may be soberly affirmed of the more northern parts of the island,
that Tomorrow is born before Yesterday is dead. They exist together in
the golden twilight, where the decrepit old day dimly discerns the face
of the ominous infant; and you, though a mere mortal, may simultaneously
touch them both, with one finger of recollection and another of
prophecy. I cared not how long the day might be, nor how many of them.
I had earned this repose by a long course of irksome toil and
perturbation, and could have been content never to stray out of the
limits of that suburban villa and its garden. If I lacked anything
beyond, it would have satisfied me well enough to dream about it,
instead of struggling for its actual possession. At least, this was
the feeling of the moment; although the transitory, flitting, and
irresponsible character of my life there was perhaps the most enjoyable
element of all, as allowing me much of the comfort of house and home
without any sense of their weight upon my back. The nomadic life has
great advantages, if we can find tents ready pitched for us at every
stage.

So much for the interior of our abode,--a spot of deepest quiet, within
reach of the intensest activity. But, even when we stepped beyond our
own gate, we were not shocked with any immediate presence of the great
world. We were dwelling in one of those oases that have grown up (in
comparatively recent years, I believe) on the wide waste of Blackheath,
which otherwise offers a vast extent of unoccupied ground in singular
proximity to the metropolis. As a general thing, the proprietorship of
the soil seems to exist in everybody and nobody; but exclusive rights
have been obtained, here and there, chiefly by men whose daily concerns
link them with London, so that you find their villas or boxes standing
along village-streets which have often more of an American aspect than
the elder English settlements. The scene is semi-rural. Ornamental trees
overshadow the sidewalks, and grassy margins border the wheel-tracks.
The houses, to be sure, have certain points of difference from those
of an American village, bearing tokens of architectural design, though
seldom of individual taste; and, as far as possible, they stand aloof
from the street, and separated each from its neighbor by hedge or fence,
in accordance with the careful exclusiveness of the English character,
which impels the occupant, moreover, to cover the front of his dwelling
with as much concealment of shrubbery as his limits will allow. Through
the interstices, you catch glimpses of well-kept lawns, generally
ornamented with flowers, and with what the English call rock-work, being
heaps of ivy-grown stones and fossils, designed for romantic effect in
a small way. Two or three of such village-streets as are here described
take a collective name,--as, for instance, Blackheath Park,--and
constitute a kind of community of residents, with gate-ways, kept by
policemen, and a semi-privacy, stepping beyond which, you find yourself
on the breezy heath.

On this great, bare, dreary common I often went astray, as I afterwards
did on the Campagna of Rome, and drew the air (tainted with London smoke
though it might be) into my lungs by deep inspirations, with a strange
and unexpected sense of desert-freedom. The misty atmosphere helps you
to fancy a remoteness that perhaps does not quite exist. During the
little time that it lasts, the solitude is as impressive as that of a
Western prairie or forest; but soon the railway-shriek, a mile or two
away, insists upon informing you of your whereabout; or you recognize in
the distance some landmark that you may have known,--an insulated villa,
perhaps, with its garden-wall around it, or the rudimental street of a
new settlement which is sprouting on this otherwise barren soil. Half
a century ago, the most frequent token of man's beneficent contiguity
might have been a gibbet, and the creak, like a tavern-sign, of a
murderer swinging to and fro in irons. Blackheath, with its highwaymen
and footpads, was dangerous in those days; and even now, for aught I
know, the Western prairie may still compare favorably with it as a safe
region to go astray in. When I was acquainted with Blackheath, the
ingenious device of garroting had recently come into fashion; and I can
remember, while crossing those waste places at midnight, and hearing
footsteps behind me, to have been sensibly encouraged by also hearing,
not far off, the clinking hoof-tramp of one of the horse-patrols who do
regular duty there. About sunset, or a little later, was the time when
the broad and somewhat desolate peculiarity of the heath seemed to me
to put on its utmost impressiveness. At that hour, finding myself on
elevated ground, I once had a view of immense London, four or five miles
off, with the vast Dome in the midst, and the towers of the two Houses
of Parliament rising up into the smoky canopy, the thinner substance of
which obscured a mass of things, and hovered about the objects that were
most distinctly visible,--a glorious and sombre picture, dusky, awful,
but irresistibly attractive, like a young man's dream of the great
world, foretelling at that distance a grandeur never to be fully
realized.

While I lived in that neighborhood, the tents of two or three sets of
cricket-players were constantly pitched on Blackheath, and matches were
going forward that seemed to involve the honor and credit of communities
or counties, exciting an interest in everybody but myself, who cared not
what part of England might glorify itself at the expense of another. It
is necessary to be born an Englishman, I believe, in order to enjoy
this great national game; at any rate, as a spectacle for an outside
observer, I found it lazy, lingering, tedious, and utterly devoid of
pictorial effects. Choice of other amusements was at hand. Butts for
archery were established, and bows and arrows were to be let, at so
many shots for a penny,--there being abundance of space for a farther
flight-shot than any modern archer can lend to his shaft. Then there
was an absurd game of throwing a stick at crockery-ware, which I have
witnessed a hundred times, and personally engaged in once or twice,
without ever having the satisfaction to see a bit of broken crockery.
In other spots, you found donkeys for children to ride, and ponies of a
very meek and patient spirit, on which the Cockney pleasure-seekers of
both sexes rode races and made wonderful displays of horsemanship. By
way of refreshment there was gingerbread, (but, as a true patriot,
I must pronounce it greatly inferior to our native dainty,) and
ginger-beer, and probably stancher liquor among the booth-keeper's
hidden stores. The frequent railway-trains, as well as the numerous
steamers to Greenwich, have made the vacant portions of Blackheath a
play-ground and breathing-place for the Londoners, readily and very
cheaply accessible; so that, in view of this broader use and enjoyment,
I a little grudged the tracts that have been filched away, so to speak,
and individualized by thriving citizens. One sort of visitors especially
interested me: they were schools of little boys or girls, under the
guardianship of their instructors,--charity-schools, as I often surmised
from their aspect, collected among dark alleys and squalid courts; and
hither they were brought to spend a summer afternoon, these pale little
progeny of the sunless nooks of London, who had never known that the sky
was any broader than that narrow and vapory strip above their native
lane. I fancied that they took but a doubtful pleasure, being half
affrighted at the wide, empty space overhead and round about them,
finding the air too little medicated with smoke, soot, and graveyard
exhalations, to be breathed with comfort, and feeling shelterless and
lost because grimy London, their slatternly and disreputable mother, had
suffered them to stray out of her arms.

Passing among these holiday-people, we come to one of the gate-ways of
Greenwich Park, opening through an old brick wall. It admits us from the
bare heath into a scene of antique cultivation and woodland ornament,
traversed in all directions by avenues of trees, many of which bear
tokens of a venerable age. These broad and well-kept pathways rise and
decline over the elevations and along the bases of gentle hills which
diversify the whole surface of the Park. The loftiest and most abrupt of
them (though but of very moderate height) is one of the earth's noted
summits, and may hold up its head with Mont Blanc and Chimborazo, as
being the site of Greenwich Observatory, where, if all nations will
consent to say so, the longitude of our great globe begins. I used to
regulate my watch by the broad dial-plate against the Observatory-wall,
and felt it pleasant to be standing at the very centre of Time and
Space.

There are lovelier parks than this in the neighborhood of London, richer
scenes of greensward and cultivated trees; and Kensington, especially,
in a summer afternoon, has seemed to me as delightful as any place can
or ought to be, in a world which, some time or other, we must quit. But
Greenwich, too, is beautiful,--a spot where the art of man has conspired
with Nature, as if he and the great mother had taken counsel together
how to make a pleasant scene, and the longest liver of the two had
faithfully carried out their mutual design. It has, likewise, an
additional charm of its own, because, to all appearance, it is the
people's property and play-ground in a much more genuine way than the
aristocratic resorts in closer vicinity to the metropolis. It affords
one of the instances in which the monarch's property is actually the
people's, and shows how much more natural is their relation to the
sovereign than to the nobility, which pretends to hold the intervening
space between the two: for a nobleman makes a paradise only for himself,
and fills it with his own pomp and pride; whereas the people are sooner
or later the legitimate inheritors of whatever beauty kings and queens
create, as now of Greenwich Park. On Sundays, when the sun shone, and
even on those grim and sombre days when, if it do not actually rain,
the English persist in calling it fine weather, it was good to see how
sturdily the plebeians trod under their own oaks, and what fulness of
simple enjoyment they evidently found there. They were the people,--not
the populace,--specimens of a class whose Sunday clothes are a distinct
kind of garb from their week-day ones; and this, in England, implies
wholesome habits of life, daily thrift, and a rank above the lowest. I
longed to be acquainted with them, in order to investigate what manner
of folks they were, what sort of households they kept, their politics,
their religion, their tastes, and whether they were as narrow-minded as
their betters. There can be very little doubt of it: an Englishman is
English, in whatever rank of life, though no more intensely so, I
should imagine, as an artisan or petty shopkeeper, than as a member of
Parliament.

The English character, as I conceive it, is by no means a very lofty
one; they seem to have a great deal of earth and grimy dust clinging
about them, as was probably the case with the stalwart and quarrelsome
people who sprouted up out of the soil, after Cadmus had sown the
dragon's teeth. And yet, though the individual Englishman is sometimes
preternaturally disagreeable, an observer standing aloof has a sense of
natural kindness towards them in the lump. They adhere closer to the
original simplicity in which mankind was created than we ourselves do;
they love, quarrel, laugh, cry, and turn their actual selves inside
out, with greater freedom than any class of Americans would consider
decorous. It was often so with these holiday-folks in Greenwich Park;
and, ridiculous as it may sound, I fancy myself to have caught very
satisfactory glimpses of Arcadian life among the Cockneys there, hardly
beyond the scope of Bow-Bells, picnicking in the grass, uncouthly
gambolling on the broad slopes, or straying in motley groups or by
single pairs of love-making youths and maidens, along the sun-streaked
avenues. Even the omnipresent policemen or park-keepers could not
disturb the beatific impression on my mind. One feature, at all events,
of the Golden Age was to be seen in the herds of deer that encountered
you in the somewhat remoter recesses of the Park, and were readily
prevailed upon to nibble a bit of bread out of your hand. But, though no
wrong had ever been done them, and no horn had sounded nor hound bayed
at the heels of themselves or their antlered progenitors, for centuries
past, there was still an apprehensiveness lingering in their hearts; so
that a slight movement of the hand or a step too near would send a whole
squadron of them scampering away, just as a breath scatters the winged
seeds of a dandelion.

The aspect of Greenwich Park, with all those festal people wandering
through it, resembled that of the Borghese Gardens under the walls of
Rome, on a Sunday or Saint's day; but, I am not ashamed to say, it a
little disturbed whatever grimly ghost of Puritanic strictness might be
lingering in the sombre depths of a New-England heart, among severe and
sunless remembrances of the Sabbaths of childhood, and pangs of remorse
for ill-gotten lessons in the catechism, and for erratic fantasies or
hardly suppressed laughter in the middle of long sermons. Occasionally,
I tried to take the long-hoarded sting out of these compunctious smarts
by attending divine service the open air. On a cart outside of the
Park-wall, (and, if I mistake not, at two or three corners and secluded
spots within the Park itself,) a Methodist preacher uplifts his voice
and speedily gathers a congregation, his zeal for whose religious
welfare impels the good man to such earnest vociferation and toilsome
gesture that his perspiring face is quickly in a stew. His inward flame
conspires with the too fervid sun and makes a positive martyr of him,
even in the very exercise of his pious labor; insomuch that he purchases
every atom of spiritual increment to his hearers by loss of his own
corporeal solidity, and, should his discourse last long enough, must
finally exhale before their eyes. If I smile at him, be it understood,
it is not in scorn; he performs his sacred office more acceptably than
many a prelate. These way-side services attract numbers who would not
otherwise listen to prayer, sermon, or hymn, from one year's end to
another, and who, for that very reason, are the auditors most likely
to be moved by the preacher's eloquence. Yonder Greenwich pensioner,
too,--in his costume of three-cornered hat, and old-fashioned,
brass-buttoned blue coat with ample skirts, which makes him look like a
contemporary of Admiral Benbow,--that tough old mariner may hear a word
or two which will go nearer his heart than anything that the chaplain
of the Hospital can be expected to deliver. I always noticed, moreover,
that a considerable proportion of the audience were soldiers, who came
hither with a day's leave from Woolwich,--hardy veterans in aspect, some
of whom wore as many as four or five medals, Crimean or East-Indian,
on the breasts of their scarlet coats. The miscellaneous congregation
listen with every appearance of heart-felt interest; and, for my own
part, I must frankly acknowledge that I never found it possible to give
five minutes' attention to any other English preaching: so cold and
commonplace are the homilies that pass for such, under the aged roofs of
churches. And as for cathedrals, the sermon is an exceedingly diminutive
and unimportant part of the religious services,--if, indeed, it be
considered a part,--among the pompous ceremonies, the intonations,
and the resounding and lofty-voiced strains of the choristers. The
magnificence of the setting quite dazzles out what we Puritans look
upon as the jewel of the whole affair; for I presume that it was our
forefathers, the Dissenters in England and America, who gave the sermon
its present prominence in the Sabbath exercises.

The Methodists are probably the first and only Englishmen who have
worshipped in the open air since the ancient Britons listened to the
preaching of the Druids; and it reminded me of that old priesthood, to
see certain memorials of their dusky epoch--not religious, however, but
warlike--in the neighborhood of the spot where the Methodist was holding
forth. These were some ancient burrows, beneath or within which are
supposed to lie buried the slain of a forgotten or doubtfully remembered
battle, fought on the site of Greenwich Park as long ago as two or three
centuries after the birth of Christ. Whatever may once have been their
height and magnitude, they have now scarcely more prominence in the
actual scene than the battle of which they are the sole monuments
retains in history,--being only a few mounds side by side, elevated a
little above the surface of the ground, ten or twelve feet in diameter,
with a shallow depression in their summits. When one of them was opened,
not long since, no bones, nor armor, nor weapons were discovered,
nothing but some small jewels, and a tuft of hair,--perhaps from the
head of a valiant general, who, dying on the field of his victory,
bequeathed this lock, together with his indestructible fame, to
after-ages. The hair and jewels are probably in the British Museum,
where the potsherds and rubbish of innumerable generations make the
visitor wish that each passing century could carry off all its fragments
and relics along with it, instead of adding them to the continually
accumulating burden which human knowledge is compelled to lug upon its
back. As for the fame, I know not what has become of it.

After traversing the Park, we come into the neighborhood of Greenwich
Hospital, and will pass through one of its spacious gate-ways for the
sake of glancing at an establishment which does more honor to the heart
of England than anything else that I am acquainted with, of a public
nature. It is very seldom that we can be sensible of anything like
kindliness in the acts or relations of such an artificial thing as a
National Government. Our own Government, I should conceive, is too much
an abstraction ever to feel any sympathy for its maimed sailors and
soldiers, though it will doubtless do them a severe kind of justice, as
chilling as the touch of steel. But it seemed to me that the Greenwich
pensioners are the petted children of the nation, and that the
Government is their dry-nurse, and that the old men themselves have a
childlike consciousness of their position. Very likely, a better sort of
life might have been arranged, and a wiser care bestowed on them;
but, such as it is, it enables them to spend a sluggish, careless,
comfortable old age, grumbling, growling, gruff, as if all the foul
weather of their past years were pent up within them, yet not much more
discontented than such weather-beaten and battle-battered fragments of
human kind must inevitably be. Their home, in its outward form, is on a
very magnificent plan. Its germ was a royal palace, the full expansion
of which has resulted in a series of edifices externally more beautiful
than any English palace that I have seen, consisting of several
quadrangles of stately architecture, united by colonnades and gravel
walks, and inclosing grassy squares, with statues in the centre, the
whole extending along the Thames. It is built of marble, or very
light-colored stone, in the classic style, with pillars and porticos,
which (to my own taste, and, I fancy, to that of the old sailors)
produce but a cold and shivery-effect in the English climate. Had I
been the architect, I would have studied the characters, habits, and
predilections of nautical people in Wapping, Rotherhithe, and the
neighborhood of the Tower, (places which I visited in affectionate
remembrance of Captain Lemuel Gulliver, and other actual or mythological
navigators,) and would have built the hospital in a kind of ethereal
similitude to the narrow, dark, ugly, and inconvenient, but snug and
cozy homeliness of the sailor boarding-houses there. There can be no
question that all the above attributes, or enough of them to satisfy an
old sailor's heart, might be reconciled with architectural beauty and
the wholesome contrivances of modern dwellings, and thus a novel and
genuine style of building be given to the world.

But their countrymen meant kindly by the old fellows in assigning them
the ancient royal site where Elizabeth held her court and Charles II.
began to build his palace. So far as the locality went, it was treating
them like so many kings; and, with a discreet abundance of grog, beer,
and tobacco, there was perhaps little more to be accomplished in behalf
of men whose whole previous lives have tended to unfit them for old age.
Their chief discomfort is probably for lack of something to do or think
about. But, judging by the few whom I saw, a listless habit seems to
have crept over them, a dim dreaminess of mood, in which they sit
between asleep and awake, and find the long day wearing towards bedtime
without its having made any distinct record of itself upon their
consciousness. Sitting on stone benches in the sunshine, they subside
into slumber, or nearly so, and start at the approach of footsteps
echoing under the colonnades, ashamed to be caught napping, and rousing
themselves in a hurry, as formerly on the midnight watch at sea. In
their brightest moments, they gather in groups and bore one another with
endless sea-yarns about their voyages under famous admirals, and about
gale and calm, battle and chase, and all that class of incident that has
its sphere on the deck and in the hollow interior of a ship, where
their world has exclusively been. For other pastime, they quarrel among
themselves, comrade with comrade, and perhaps shake paralytic fists in
furrowed faces. If inclined for a little exercise, they can bestir
their wooden legs on the long esplanade that borders by the Thames,
criticizing the rig of passing ships, and firing off volleys of
malediction at the steamers, which have made the sea another element
than that they used to be acquainted with. All this is but cold comfort
for the evening of life, yet may compare rather favorably with the
preceding portions of it, comprising little save imprisonment on
shipboard, in the course of which they have been tossed all about the
world and caught hardly a glimpse of it, forgetting what grass and
trees are, and never finding out what woman is, though they may have
encountered a painted spectre which they took for her. A country owes
much to human beings whose bodies she has worn out and whose immortal
parts she has left undeveloped or debased, as we find them here; and
having wasted an idle paragraph upon them, let me now suggest that old
men have a kind of susceptibility to moral impressions, and even (up to
an advanced period) a receptivity of truth, which often appears to come
to them after the active time of life is past. The Greenwich pensioners
might prove better subjects for true education now than in their
school-boy days; but then where is the Normal School that could educate
instructors for such a class?

There is a beautiful chapel for the pensioners, in the classic style,
over the altar of which hangs a picture by West. I never could look at
it long enough to make out its design; for this artist (though it pains
me to say it of so respectable a countryman) had a gift of frigidity,
a knack of grinding ice into his paint, a power of stupefying the
spectator's perceptions and quelling his sympathy, beyond any other
limner that ever handled a brush. In spite of many pangs of conscience,
I seize this opportunity to wreak a life-long abhorrence upon the poor,
blameless man, for the sake of that dreary picture of Lear, an explosion
of frosty fury, that used to be a bugbear to me in the Athenaeum
Exhibition. Would fire burn it, I wonder?

The principal thing that they have to show you, at Greenwich Hospital,
is the Painted Hall. It is a splendid and spacious room, at least a
hundred feet long and half as high, with a ceiling painted in fresco by
Sir James Thornhill. As a work of art, I presume, this frescoed canopy
has little merit, though it produces an exceedingly rich effect by its
brilliant coloring and as a specimen of magnificent upholstery. The
walls of the grand apartment are entirely covered with pictures, many
of them representing battles and other naval incidents that were once
fresher in the world's memory than now, but chiefly portraits of
old admirals, comprising the whole line of heroes who have trod the
quarter-decks of British ships for more than two hundred years back.
Next to a tomb in Westminster Abbey, which was Nelson's most elevated
object of ambition, it would seem to be the highest meed of a naval
warrior to have his portrait hung up in the Painted Hall; but, by dint
of victory upon victory, these illustrious personages have grown to be
a mob, and by no means a very interesting one, so far as regards the
character of the faces here depicted. They are generally commonplace,
and often singularly stolid; and I have observed (both in the Painted
Hall and elsewhere, and not only in portraits, but in the actual
presence of such renowned people as I have caught glimpses of) that
the countenances of heroes are not nearly so impressive as those of
statesmen,--except, of course, in the rare instances where warlike
ability has been but the one-sided manifestation of a profound genius
for managing the world's affairs. Nine-tenths of these distinguished
admirals, for instance, if their faces tell truth, must needs have been
blockheads, and might have served better, one would imagine, as wooden
figureheads for their own ships than to direct any difficult and
intricate scheme of action from the quarter-deck. It is doubtful whether
the same kind of men will hereafter meet with a similar degree of
success; for they were victorious chiefly through the old English
hardihood, exercised in a field of which modern science had not yet got
possession. Rough valor has lost something of its value, since their
days, and must continue to sink lower and lower in the comparative
estimate of warlike qualities. In the next naval war, as between England
and France, I would bet, methinks, upon the Frenchman's head.

It is remarkable, however, that the great naval hero of England--the
greatest, therefore, in the world, and of all time--had none of the
stolid characteristics that belong to his class, and cannot fairly
be accepted as their representative man. Foremost in the roughest of
professions, he was as delicately organized as a woman, and as painfully
sensitive as a poet. More than any other Englishman he won the love
and admiration of his country, but won them through the efficacy of
qualities that are not English, or, at all events, were intensified in
his case and made poignant and powerful by something morbid in the man,
which put him otherwise at cross-purposes with life. He was a man of
genius; and genius in an Englishman (not to cite the good old simile of
a pearl in the oyster) is usually a symptom of a lack of balance in
the general making-up of the character; as we may satisfy ourselves by
running over the list of their poets, for example, and observing how
many of them have been sickly or deformed, and how often their lives
have been darkened by insanity. An ordinary Englishman is the healthiest
and wholesomest of human beings; an extraordinary one is almost always,
in one way or another, a sick man. It was so with Lord Nelson. The
wonderful contrast or relation between his personal qualities, the
position which he held, and the life that he lived, makes him as
interesting a personage as all history has to show; and it is a pity
that Southey's biography--so good in its superficial way, and yet so
inadequate as regards any real delineation of the man--should have taken
the subject out of the hands of some writer endowed with more delicate
appreciation and deeper insight than that genuine Englishman possessed.

But the English capacity for hero-worship is full to the brim with what
they are able to comprehend of Lord Nelson's character. Adjoining the
Painted Hall is a smaller room, the walls of which are completely and
exclusively adorned with pictures of the great Admiral's exploits. We
see the frail, ardent man in all the most noted events of his career,
from his encounter with a Polar bear to his death at Trafalgar,
quivering here and there about the room like a blue, lambent flame. No
Briton ever enters that apartment without feeling the beef and ale of
his composition stirred to its depths, and finding himself changed into
a hero for the nonce, however stolid his brain, however tough his heart,
however unexcitable his ordinary mood. To confess the truth, I myself,
though belonging to another parish, have been deeply sensible to the
sublime recollections there aroused, acknowledging that Nelson expressed
his life in a kind of symbolic poetry which I had as much right to
understand as these burly islanders. Cool and critical observer as I
sought to be, I enjoyed their burst of honest indignation when a visitor
(not an American, I am glad to say) thrust his walking-stick almost into
Nelson's face, in one of the pictures, by way of pointing a remark; and
the by-standers immediately glowed like so many hot coals, and would
probably have consumed the offender in their wrath, had he not effected
his retreat. But the most sacred objects of all are two of Nelson's
coats, under separate glass cases. One is that which he wore at the
Battle of the Nile, and it is now sadly injured by moths, which will
quite destroy it in a few years, unless its guardians preserve it as we
do Washington's military suit, by occasionally baking it in an oven. The
other is the coat in which he received his death-wound at Trafalgar. On
its breast are sewed three or four stars and orders of knighthood, now
much dimmed by time and damp, but which glittered brightly enough on the
battle-day to draw the fatal aim of a French marksman. The bullet-hole
is visible on the shoulder, as well as a part of the golden tassels of
an epaulet, the rest of which was shot away. Over the coat is laid a
white waistcoat with a great blood-stain on it, out of which all the
redness has utterly faded, leaving it of a dingy yellow hue, in the
threescore years since that blood gushed out. Yet it was once the
reddest blood in England,--Nelson's blood!

The hospital stands close adjacent to the town of Greenwich, which will
always retain a kind of festal aspect in my memory, in consequence of
my having first become acquainted with it on Easter Monday. Till a few
years ago, the first three days of Easter were a carnival-season in this
old town, during which the idle and disreputable part of London poured
itself into the streets like an inundation of the Thames,--as unclean
as that turbid mixture of the offscourings of the vast city, and
overflowing with its grimy pollution whatever rural innocence, if any,
might be found in the suburban neighborhood. This festivity was called
Greenwich Fair, the final one of which, in an immemorial succession, it
was my fortune to behold.

If I had bethought myself of going through the fair with a note-book and
pencil, jotting down all the prominent objects, I doubt not that the
result might have been a sketch of English life quite as characteristic
and worthy of historical preservation as an account of the Roman
Carnival. Having neglected to do so, I remember little more than a
confusion of unwashed and shabbily dressed people, intermixed with some
smarter figures, but, on the whole, presenting a mobbish appearance
such as we never see in our own country. It taught me to understand why
Shakspeare, in speaking of a crowd, so often alludes to its attribute
of evil odor. The common people of England, I am afraid, have no daily
familiarity with even so necessary a thing as a washbowl, not to mention
a bathing-tub. And furthermore, it is one mighty difference between
them and us, that every man and woman on our side of the water has a
working-day suit and a holiday suit, and is occasionally as fresh as a
rose, whereas, in the good old country, the griminess of his labor or
squalid habits clings forever to the individual, and gets to be a part
of his personal substance. These are broad facts, involving great
corollaries and dependencies. There are really, if you stop to think
about it, few sadder spectacles in the world than a ragged coat or a
soiled and shabby gown, at a festival.

This unfragrant crowd was exceedingly dense, being welded together,
as it were, in the street through which we strove to make our way. On
either side were oyster-stands, stalls of oranges, (a very prevalent
fruit in England, where they give the withered ones a guise of freshness
by boiling them,) and booths covered with old sail-cloth, in which the
commodity that most attracted the eye was gilt gingerbread. It was so
completely enveloped in Dutch gilding that I did not at first recognize
an old acquaintance, but wondered what those golden crowns and images
could be. There were likewise drums and other toys for small children,
and a variety of showy and worthless articles for children of a larger
growth; though it perplexed me to imagine who, in such a mob, could have
the innocent taste to desire playthings, or the money to pay for them.
Not that I have a right to accuse the mob, on my own knowledge, of being
any less innocent than a set of cleaner and better dressed people might
have been; for, though one of them stole my pocket-handkerchief, I could
not but consider it fair game, under the circumstances, and was grateful
to the thief for sparing me my purse. They were quiet, civil, and
remarkably good-humored, making due allowance for the national
gruffness; there was no riot, no tumultuous swaying to and fro of the
mass, such as I have often noted in an American crowd, no noise of
voices, except frequent bursts of laughter, hoarse or shrill, and a
widely diffused, inarticulate murmur, resembling nothing so much as the
rumbling of the tide among the arches of London Bridge. What immensely
perplexed me was a sharp, angry sort of rattle, in all quarters, far off
and close at hand, and sometimes right at my own back, where it sounded
as if the stout fabric of my English surtout had been ruthlessly rent in
twain; and everybody's clothes, all over the fair, were evidently being
torn asunder in the same way. By-and-by, I discovered that this strange
noise was produced by a little instrument called "The Fun of the
Fair,"--a sort of rattle, consisting of a wooden wheel, the cogs of
which turn against a thin slip of wood, and so produce a rasping sound
when drawn smartly against a person's back. The ladies draw their
rattles against the backs of their male friends, (and everybody passes
for a friend at Greenwich Fair,) and the young men return the compliment
on the broad British backs of the ladies; and all are bound by
immemorial custom to take it in good part and be merry at the joke. As
it was one of my prescribed official duties to give an account of such
mechanical contrivances as might be unknown in my own country, I have
thought it right to be thus particular in describing the Fun of the
Fair.

But this was far from being the sole amusement. There were theatrical
booths, in front of which were pictorial representations of the scenes
to be enacted within; and anon a drummer emerged from one of them,
thumping on a terribly lax drum, and followed by the entire _dramatis
personae_, who ranged themselves on a wooden platform in front of the
theatre. They were dressed in character, but woefully shabby, with very
dingy and wrinkled white tights, threadbare cotton-velvets, crumpled
silks, and crushed muslin, and all the gloss and glory gone out of their
aspect and attire, seen thus in the broad daylight and after a long
series of performances. They sang a song together, and withdrew into
the theatre, whither the public were invited to follow them at the
inconsiderable cost of a penny a ticket. Before another booth stood a
pair of brawny fighting-men, displaying their muscle, and soliciting
patronage for an exhibition of the noble British art of pugilism.
There were pictures of giants, monsters, and outlandish beasts, most
prodigious, to be sure, and worthy of all admiration, unless the artist
had gone incomparably beyond his subject. Jugglers proclaimed aloud the
miracles which they were prepared to work; and posture-makers dislocated
every joint of their bodies and tied their limbs into inextricable
knots, wherever they could find space to spread a little square of
carpet on the ground. In the midst of the confusion, while everybody was
treading on his neighbor's toes, some little boys were very solicitous
to brush your boots. These lads, I believe, are a product of modern
society,--at least, no older than the time of Gay, who celebrates their
origin in his "Trivia"; but in most other respects the scene reminded
me of Bunyan's description of Vanity Fair,--nor is it at all improbable
that the Pilgrim may have been a merry-maker here, in his wild youth.

It seemed very singular--though, of course, I immediately classified
it as an English characteristic--to see a great many portable
weighing-machines, the owners of which cried out continually and
amain,--"Come, know your weight! Come, come, know your weight to-day!
Come, know your weight!"--and a multitude of people, mostly large in the
girth, were moved by this vociferation to sit down in the machines. I
know not whether they valued themselves on their beef, and estimated
their standing as members of society at so much a pound; but I shall set
it down as a national peculiarity, and a symbol of the prevalence of the
earthly over the spiritual element, that Englishmen are wonderfully bent
on knowing how solid and physically ponderous they are.

On the whole, having an appetite for the brown bread and the tripe and
sausages of life, as well as for its nicer cates and dainties, I
enjoyed the scene, and was amused at the sight of a gruff old Greenwich
pensioner, who, forgetful of the sailor-frolics of his young days, stood
looking with grim disapproval at all these vanities. Thus we squeezed
our way through the mob-jammed town, and emerged into the Park, where,
likewise, we met a great many merry-makers, but with freer space for
their gambols than in the streets. We soon found ourselves the targets
for a cannonade with oranges, (most of them in a decayed condition,)
which went humming past our ears from the vantage-ground of neighboring
hillocks, sometimes hitting our sacred persons with an inelastic thump.
This was one of the privileged freedoms of the time, and was nowise to
be resented, except by returning the salute. Many persons were running
races, hand in hand, down the declivities, especially that steepest one
on the summit of which stands the world-central Observatory, and (as in
the race of life) the partners were usually male and female, and often
caught a tumble together before reaching the bottom of the hill.
Hereabouts we were pestered and haunted by two young girls, the eldest
not more than thirteen, teasing us to buy matches; and finding no market
for their commodity, the taller one suddenly turned a somerset before
our faces, and rolled heels over head from top to bottom of the hill
on which we stood. Then, scrambling up the acclivity, the topsy-turvy
trollop offered us her matches again, as demurely as if she had never
flung aside her equilibrium; so that, dreading a repetition of the feat,
we gave her sixpence and an admonition, and enjoined her never to do so
any more.

The most curious amusement that we witnessed here--or anywhere else,
indeed--was an ancient and hereditary pastime called "Kissing in the
Ring." It is one of the simplest kinds of games, needing little or no
practice to make the player altogether perfect; and the manner of it
is this. A ring is formed, (in the present case, it was of large
circumference and thickly gemmed around with faces, mostly on the broad
grin,) into the centre of which steps an adventurous youth, and, looking
round the circle, selects whatever maiden may most delight his eye. He
presents his hand, (which she is bound to accept,) leads her into the
centre, salutes her on the lips, and retires, taking his stand in the
expectant circle. The girl, in her turn, throws a favorable regard on
some fortunate young man, offers her hand to lead him forth, makes him
happy with a maidenly kiss, and withdraws to hide her blushes, if any
there be, among the simpering faces in the ring; while the favored swain
loses no time in transferring her salute to the prettiest and plumpest
among the many mouths that are primming themselves in anticipation. And
thus the thing goes on, till all the festive throng are inwreathed and
intertwined into an endless and inextricable chain of kisses; though,
indeed, it smote me with compassion to reflect that some forlorn pair of
lips might be left out, and never know the triumph of a salute, after
throwing aside so many delicate reserves for the sake of winning it. If
the young men had any chivalry, there was a fair chance to display it by
kissing the homeliest damsel in the circle.

To be frank, however, at the first glance, and to my American eye, they
looked all homely alike, and the chivalry that I suggest is more than I
could have been capable of, at any period of my life. They seemed to be
country-lasses, of sturdy and wholesome aspect, with coarse-grained,
cabbage-rosy cheeks, and, I am willing to suppose, a stout texture of
moral principle, such as would bear a good deal of rough usage without
suffering much detriment. But how unlike the trim little damsels of my
native land! I desire above all things to be courteous; but, since
the plain truth must be told, the soil and climate of England produce
feminine beauty as rarely as they do delicate fruit, and though
admirable specimens of both are to be met with, they are the hot-house
ameliorations of refined society, and apt, moreover, to relapse into the
coarseness of the original stock. The men are man-like, but the women
are not beautiful, though the female Bull be well enough adapted to the
male. To return to the lasses of Greenwich Fair, their charms were few,
and their behavior, perhaps, not altogether commendable; and yet it was
impossible not to feel a degree of faith in their innocent intentions,
with such a half-bashful zest and entire simplicity did they keep up
their part of the game. It put the spectator in good-humor to look at
them, because there was still something of the old Arcadian life, the
secure freedom of the antique age, in their way of surrendering their
lips to strangers, as if there were no evil or impurity in the world. As
for the young men, they were chiefly specimens of the vulgar sediment
of London life, often shabbily genteel, rowdyish, pale, wearing the
unbrushed coat, unshifted linen, and unwashed faces of yesterday, as
well as the haggardness of last night's jollity in a gin-shop. Gathering
their character from these tokens, I wondered whether there were any
reasonable prospect of their fair partners returning to their rustic
homes with as much innocence (whatever were its amount or quality) as
they brought to Greenwich Fair, in spite of the perilous familiarity
established by Kissing in the Ring.

The manifold disorders resulting from the fair, at which a vast city was
brought into intimate relations with a comparatively rural district,
have at length led to its suppression; this was the very last
celebration of it, and brought to a close the broad-mouthed merriment of
many hundred years. Thus my poor sketch, faint as its colors are, may
acquire some little value in the reader's eyes from the consideration
that no observer of the coming time will ever have an opportunity to
give a better. I should find it difficult to believe, however, that the
queer pastime just described, or any moral mischief to which that and
other customs might pave the way, can have led to the overthrow of
Greenwich Fair; for it has often seemed to me that Englishmen of station
and respectability, unless of a peculiarly philanthropic turn, have
neither any faith in the feminine purity of the lower orders of their
countrywomen, nor the slightest value for it, allowing its possible
existence. The distinction of ranks is so marked, that the English
cottage-damsel holds a position somewhat analogous to that of the negro
girl in our Southern States. Hence comes inevitable detriment to the
moral condition of those men themselves, who forget that the humblest
woman has a right and a duty to hold herself in the same sanctity as
the highest. The subject cannot well be discussed in these pages; but I
offer it as a serious conviction, from what I have been able to observe,
that the England of to-day is the unscrupulous old England of Tom Jones
and Joseph Andrews, Humphrey Clinker and Roderick Random; and in our
refined era, just the same as at that more free-spoken epoch, this
singular people has a certain contempt for any fine-strained purity, any
special squeamishness, as they consider it, on the part of an ingenuous
youth. They appear to look upon it as a suspicious phenomenon in the
masculine character.

Nevertheless, I by no means take upon me to affirm that English
morality, as regards the phase here alluded to, is really at a lower
point than our own. Assuredly, I hope so, because, making a higher
pretension, or, at all events, more carefully hiding whatever may be
amiss, we are either better than they, or necessarily a great deal
worse. It impressed me that their open avowal and recognition of
immoralities served to throw the disease to the surface, where it might
be more effectually dealt with, and leave a sacred interior not utterly
profaned, instead of turning its poison back among the inner vitalities
of the character, at the imminent risk of corrupting them all. Be that
as it may, these Englishmen are certainly a franker and simpler
people than ourselves, from peer to peasant; but if we can take it as
compensatory on our part, (which I leave to be considered,) that they
owe those noble and manly qualities to a coarser grain in their nature,
and that, with a finer one in ours, we shall ultimately acquire a marble
polish of which they are unsusceptible, I believe that this may be the
truth.

* * * * *

THE VAGABONDS.

We are two travellers, Roger and I.
Roger's my dog.--Come here, you scamp!
Jump for the gentlemen,--mind your eye!
Over the table,--look out for the lamp!--
The rogue is growing a little old;
Five years we've tramped through wind and weather,
And slept out-doors when nights were cold,
And ate and drank--and starved--together.

We've learned what comfort is, I tell you!
A bed on the floor, a bit of rosin,
A fire to thaw our thumbs, (poor fellow!
The paw he holds up there's been frozen,)
Plenty of catgut for my fiddle,
(This out-door business is bad for strings,)
Then a few nice buckwheats hot from the griddle,
And Roger and I set up for kings!

No, thank ye, Sir,--I never drink;
Roger and I are exceedingly moral,--
Aren't we, Roger?--See him wink!--
Well, something hot, then,--we won't quarrel.
He's thirsty, too,--see him nod his head?
What a pity, Sir, that dogs can't talk!
He understands every word that's said,--
And he knows good milk from water-and-chalk.

The truth is, Sir, now I reflect,
I've been so sadly given to grog,
I wonder I've not lost the respect
(Here's to you, Sir!) even of my dog.
But he sticks by, through thick and thin;
And this old coat, with its empty pockets,
And rags that smell of tobacco and gin,
He'll follow while he has eyes in his sockets.

There isn't another creature living
Would do it, and prove, through every disaster,
So fond, so faithful, and so forgiving,
To such a miserable thankless master!
No, Sir!--see him wag his tail and grin I
By George! it makes my old eyes water!
That is, there's something in this gin
That chokes a fellow. But no matter!

We'll have some music, if you 're willing,
And Roger (hem! what a plague a cough is, Sir!)
Shall march a little.--Start, you villain!
Stand straight! 'Bout face! Salute your officer!
Put up that paw! Dress! Take your rifle!
(Some dogs have arms, you see!) Now hold your
Cap while the gentlemen give a trifle,
To aid a poor old patriot soldier!

March! Halt! Now show how the rebel shakes,
When he stands up to hear his sentence.
Now tell us how many drams it takes
To honor a jolly new acquaintance.
Five yelps,--that's five; he's mighty knowing!
The night's before us, fill the glasses!--
Quick, Sir! I'm ill,--my brain is going!--
Some brandy,--thank you,--there!--it passes!

Why not reform? That's easily said;
But I've gone through such wretched treatment,
Sometimes forgetting the taste of bread,
And scarce remembering what meat meant,
That my poor stomach's past reform;
And there are times when, mad with thinking,
I'd sell out heaven for something warm
To prop a horrible inward sinking.

Is there a way to forget to think?
At your age, Sir, home, fortune, friends,
A dear girl's love,--but I took to drink;--
The same old story; you know how it ends.
If you could have seen these classic features,----
You needn't laugh, Sir; they were not then
Such a burning libel on God's creatures:
I was one of your handsome men!

If you had seen HER, so fair and young,
Whose head was happy on this breast!
If you could have heard the songs I sung
When the wine went round, you wouldn't have guessed
That ever I, Sir, should be straying
From door to door, with fiddle and dog,
Ragged and penniless, and playing
To you to-night for a glass of grog!

She's married since,--a parson's wife:
'T was better for her that we should part,--
Better the soberest, prosiest life
Than a blasted home and a broken heart.
I have seen her? Once: I was weak and spent
On the dusty road: a carriage stopped:
But little she dreamed, as on she went,
Who kissed the coin that her fingers dropped!

You've set me talking, Sir; I'm sorry;
It makes me wild to think of the change!
What do you care for a beggar's story?
Is it amusing? you find it strange?
I had a mother so proud of me!
'T was well she died before--Do you know
If the happy spirits in heaven can see
The ruin and wretchedness here below?

Another glass, and strong, to deaden
This pain; then Roger and I will start.
I wonder, has he such a lumpish, leaden,
Aching thing, in place of a heart?
He is sad sometimes, and would weep, if he could,
No doubt, remembering things that were,--
A virtuous kennel, with plenty of food,
And himself a sober, respectable cur.

I'm better now; that glass was warming.--
You rascal! limber your lazy feet I
We must be fiddling and performing
For supper and bed, or starve in the street.--
Not a very gay life to lead, you think?
But soon we shall go where lodgings are free,
And the sleepers need neither victuals nor drink;--
The sooner, the better for Roger and me!

WILLIE WHARTON.

Would you like to read a story which is true, and yet not true? The one
I am going to tell you is a superstructure of imagination on a basis of
facts. I trust you are not curious to ascertain the exact proportion of
each. It is sufficient for any reasonable reader to be assured that many
of the leading incidents interwoven in the following story actually
occurred in one of our Western States, a few years ago.

It was a bright afternoon in the spring-time; the wide, flowery prairie
waved in golden sunlight, and distant tree-groups were illuminated by
the clear, bright atmosphere. Throughout the whole expanse, only two
human dwellings were visible. These were small log-cabins, each with a
clump of trees near it, and the rose of the prairies climbing over the
roof. In the rustic piazza of one of these cabins a woman was sewing
busily, occasionally moving a cradle gently with her foot. On the
steps of the piazza was seated a man, who now and then read aloud some
paragraph from a newspaper. From time to time, the woman raised her eyes
from her work, and, shading them from the sunshine with her hand, looked
out wistfully upon the sea of splendor, everywhere waving in flowery
ripples to the soft breathings of the balmy air. At length she said,--

"Brother George, I begin to feel a little anxious about Willie. He was
told not to go out of sight, and he is generally a good boy to mind; but
I should think it was more than ten minutes since I have seen him. I
wish you would try the spy-glass."

The man arose, and, after looking abroad for a moment, took a small
telescope from the corner of the piazza, and turned it in the direction
the boy had taken.

"Ah, now I see the little rogue!" he exclaimed. "I think it must have
been that island of high grass that hid him from you. He has not gone
very far; and now he is coming this way. But who upon earth is he
leading along? I believe the adventurous little chap has been to the
land of Nod to get him a wife. I know of no little girl, except my
Bessie, for five miles round; and it certainly is not she. The fat
little thing has toppled over in the grass, and Willie is picking her
up. I believe in my soul she's an Indian."

"An Indian!" exclaimed the mother, starting up suddenly. "Have you heard
of any Indians being seen hereabouts? Do blow the horn to hurry him
home."

A tin horn was taken from the nail on which it hung, and a loud blast
stirred the silent air. Moles stopped their digging, squirrels paused in
their gambols, prairie-dogs passed quickly from one to another a signal
of alarm, and all the little beasts wondered what could be the meaning
of these new sounds which had lately invaded the stillness of their
haunts.

George glanced at the anxious countenance of his sister, and said,--

"Don't be frightened, Jenny, if some Indians do happen to call and see
us. You know you always agreed with me that they would be as good as
Christians, if they were treated justly and kindly. Besides, you see
this one is a very small savage, and we shall soon have help enough to
defend us from her formidable blows. I made a louder noise with the horn
than I need to have done; it has startled your husband, and he is coming
from his plough; and there is my wife and Bessie running to see what is
the matter over here."

By this time the truant boy and his companion approached the house, and
he mounted the steps of the piazza with eager haste, pulling her after
him, immediately upon the arrival of his father, Aunt Mary, and Cousin
Bessie. Brief explanation was made, that the horn was blown to hurry
Willie home; and all exclaimed,--

"Why, Willie! who is this?"

"Found her squatting on the grass, pulling flowers," he replied, almost
out of breath. "Don't know her name. She talks lingo."

The whole company laughed. The new-comer was a roly-poly, round enough
to roll, with reddish-brown face, and a mop of black hair, cut in a
straight line just above the eyes. But _such_ eyes! large and lambent,
with a foreshadowing of sadness in their expression. They shone in her
dark face like moonlit waters in the dusky landscape of evening. Her
only garment was a short kirtle of plaited grass, not long enough to
conceal her chubby knees. She understood no word of English, and, when
spoken to, repeated an Indian phrase, enigmatical to all present. She
clung to Willie, as if he were an old friend; and he, quite proud of
the manliness of being a protector, stood with his arm across her brown
shoulders, half offended at their merriment, saying,--

"She's _my_ little girl. _I_ found her."

"I _thought_ he'd been to the land of Nod to get him a wife," said Uncle
George, smiling.

Little Bessie, with clean apron, and flaxen hair nicely tied up with
ribbons, was rather shy of the stranger.

"She'th dirty," lisped she, pointing to her feet.

"Well, s'pose she is?" retorted William. "I guess _you_'d be dirty, too,
if you'd been running about in the mud, without any shoes. But she's
pretty. She's like my black kitten, only she a'n't got a white nose."

Willie's comparison was received with shouts of laughter; for there
really was some resemblance to the black kitten in that queer little
face. But when the small mouth quivered with a grieved expression, and
she clung closer to Willie, as if afraid, kind Uncle George patted her
head, and tried to part the short, thick, black hair, which would not
stay parted, but insisted upon hanging straight over her eyebrows. Baby
Emma had been wakened in her cradle by the noise, and began to rub her
eyes out with her little fists. Being lifted into her mother's lap, she
hid her face for a while; but finally she peeped forth timidly, and
fixed a wondering gaze on the new-comer. It seemed that she concluded
to like her; for she shook her little dimpled hand to her, and began to
crow. The language of children needs no interpreter. The demure little
Indian understood the baby-salutation, and smiled.

Aunt Mary brought bread and milk, which she devoured like a hungry
animal. While she was eating, the wagon arrived with Willie's older
brother, Charley, who had been to the far-off mill with the hired man.
The sturdy boy came in, all aglow, calling out,--"Oh, mother! the boy at
the mill has caught a prairie-dog. Such a funny-looking thing!"

He halted suddenly before the small stranger, gave a slight whistle, and
exclaimed,--

"Halloo! here's a funny-looking prairie-puss!"

"She a'n't a prairie-puss," cried Willie, pushing him back with doubled
fists. "She's a little girl; and she's _my_ little girl. I found her."

"She's a great find," retorted the roguish brother, as he went behind
her, and pulled the long black hair that fell over her shoulders.

"Now you let her alone!" shouted Willie; and the next moment the two
boys were rolling over on the piazza, pommelling each other, half in
play, half in earnest. The little savage sat coiled up on the floor,
watching them without apparent emotion; but when a hard knock made
Willie cry out, she sprang forward with the agility of a kitten, and,
repeating some Indian word with strong emphasis, began to beat Charley
with all her might. Instinctively, he was about to give blows in return;
but his father called out,--

"Hold there, my boy! Never strike a girl!"

"And never harm a wanderer that needs protection," said Uncle George.
"It isn't manly, Charley."

Thus rebuked, Charley walked away somewhat crestfallen. But before he
disappeared at the other end of the piazza, he turned back to sing,--

"Willie went a-hunting, and caught a pappoose."

"She a'n't a pappoose, she's a little girl," shouted Willie; "and she's
_my_ little girl. I didn't hunt her; I found her."

Uncle George and his family did not return to their cabin till the warm,
yellow tint of the sky had changed to azure-gray. While consultations
were held concerning how it was best to dispose of the little wanderer
for the night, she nestled into a corner, where, rolled up like a dog,
she fell fast asleep. A small bed was improvised for her in the kitchen.
But when they attempted to raise her up, she was dreaming of her
mother's wigwam, and, waking suddenly to find herself among strangers,
she forgot the events of the preceding hours, and became a pitiful image
of terror. Willie, who was being undressed in another room, was brought
in in his nightgown, and the sight of him reassured her. She clung to
him, and refused to be separated from him; and it was finally concluded
that she should sleep with her little protector in his trundle-bed,
which every night was rolled out from under the bed of his father and
mother. A tub of water was brought, and as Willie jumped into it, and
seemed to like to splash about, she was induced to do the same. The
necessary ablutions having been performed, and the clean nightgowns put
on, the little ones walked to their trundle-bed hand in hand. Charley
pulled the long hair once more, as they passed, and began to sing,
"Willie went a-hunting"; but the young knight-errant was too sleepy and
tired to return to the charge. The older brother soon went to rest also;
and all became as still within-doors as it was on the wide, solitary
prairie.

The father and mother sat up a little while, one mending a harness, the
other repairing a rip in a garment. They talked together in low tones of
Willie's singular adventure; and Mrs. Wharton asked her husband whether
he supposed this child belonged to the Indians whose tracks their man
had seen on his way to the mill. She shared her brother's kindly feeling
toward the red men, because they were an injured and oppressed race.
But, in her old New-England home, she had heard and read stories that
made a painful impression on the imagination of childhood; and though
she was now a sensible and courageous woman, the idea of Indians in the
vicinity rendered the solitude of the wilderness oppressive. The sudden
cry of a night-bird made her start and turn pale.

"Don't be afraid," said her husband, soothingly, "It is as George says.
Nothing but justice and kindness is needed to render these wild people
firm friends to the whites."

"I believe it," she replied; "but treaties with them have been
so wickedly violated, and they are so shamefully cheated by
Government-agents, that they naturally look upon all white men as their
enemies. How can they know that we are more friendly to them than
others?"

"We have been kind to their child," responded Mr. Wharton, "and that
will prevent them from injuring us."

"I would have been just as kind to the little thing, if we had an army
here to protect us," she rejoined.

"They will know that, Jenny," he said. "Indian instincts are keen. Your
gentle eyes and motherly ways are a better defence than armies would
be." The mild blue eyes thanked him with an affectionate glance. His
words somewhat calmed her fears; but before retiring to rest, she looked
out, far and wide, upon the lonely prairie. It was beautiful, but
spectral, in the ghostly veil of moonlight. Every bolt was carefully
examined, and the tin horn hung by the bedside. When all preparations
were completed, she drew aside the window-curtain to look at the
children in their trundle-bed, all bathed with silvery moonshine. They
lay with their arms about each other's necks, the dark brow nestled
close to the rosy cheek, and the mass of black hair mingled with the
light brown locks. The little white boy of six summers and the Indian
maiden of four slept there as cozily as two kittens with different fur.
The mother gazed on them fondly, as she said,--

"It is a pretty sight. I often think what beautiful significance there
is in the Oriental benediction, 'May you sleep tranquilly as a child
when his friends are with him!'"

"It is, indeed, a charming picture," rejoined her husband. "This would
be a text for George to preach from; and his sermon would be, that
confidence is always born of kindness."

The fear of Indians vanished from the happy mother's thoughts, and she
fell asleep with a heart full of love for all human kind.

The children were out of their bed by daylight. The little savage padded
about with naked feet, apparently feeling much at home, but seriously
incommoded by her night-gown, which she pulled at restlessly, from
time to time, saying something in her own dialect, which no one could
interpret. But they understood her gestures, and showed her the kirtle
of plaited grass, still damp with the thorough washing it had had the
night before. At sight of it she became quite voluble; but what she said
no one knew. "What gibberish you talk!" exclaimed Charley. She would not
allow him to come near her. She remembered how he had pulled her hair
and tussled with Willie. But two bright buttons on a string made peace
between them. He put the mop on his head, and shook it at her, saying,
"Moppet, you'd be pretty, if you wore your hair like folks." Willie was
satisfied with this concession; and already the whole family began to
outgrow the feeling that the little wayfarer belonged to a foreign race.

Early in the afternoon two Indians came across the prairie. Moppet saw
them first, and announced the discovery by a shrill shout, which the
Indiana evidently heard; for they halted instantly, and then walked
on faster than before. When the child went to meet them, the woman
quickened her pace a little, and took her hand; but no signs of emotion
were perceptible. As they approached the cabin, Moppet appeared to be
answering their brief questions without any signs of fear. "Poor little
thing!" said Mrs. Wharton. "I am glad they are not angry with her. I was
afraid they might beat her."

The strangers were received with the utmost friendliness, but their
stock of English was so very scanty that little information could be
gained from them. The man pointed to the child, and said, "Wik-a-nee, me
go way she." And the woman said, "Me tank." No further light was ever
thrown upon Willie's adventure in finding a pappoose alone on the
prairie. The woman unstrapped from her shoulder a string of baskets,
which she laid upon the ground. Moppet said something to her mother, and
placed her hand on a small one brightly stained with red and yellow. The
basket was given to her, and she immediately presented it to Willie. At
the same time the Indian woman offered a large basket to Mrs. Wharton,
pointing to the child, and saying, "Wik-a-nee. Me tank." Money was
offered her, but she shook her head, and repeated, "Wik-a-nee. Me tank."
The man also refused the coin, with a slow motion of his head, saying,
"Me tank." They ate of the food that was offered them, and received a
salted fish and bread with "Me tank."

"Mother," exclaimed Willie, "I want to give Moppet something. May I give
her my Guinea-peas?"

"Certainly, my son, if you wish to," she replied.

He ran into the cabin, and came out with a tin box. When he uncovered
it, and showed Moppet the bright scarlet seeds, each with a shining
black spot, her dark eyes glowed, and she uttered a joyous "Eugh!"
The passive, sad expression of the Indian woman's countenance almost
brightened into a smile, as she said, "Wik-a-nee tank."

After resting awhile, she again strapped the baskets on her shoulder,
and taking her little one by the hand, they resumed their tramp across
the prairie,--no one knowing whence they came, or whither they were
going. As far as they could be seen, it was noticed that the child
looked back from time to time. She was saying to her mother she wished
they could take that little pale-faced boy with them.

"So Moppet is gone," said Charley. "I wonder whether we shall ever see
her again." Willie heaved a sigh, and said, "I wish she was my little
sister."

Thus met two innocent little beings, unconscious representatives of
races widely separated in moral and intellectual culture, but children
of the same Heavenly Father, and equally subject to the attractions of
great Mother Nature. Blessed childhood, that yields spontaneously to
those attractions, ignoring all distinctions of pride or prejudice!
Verily, we should lose all companionship with angels, were it not for
the ladder of childhood, on which they descend to meet us.

It was a pleasant ripple in the dull stream of their monotonous life,
that little adventure of the stray pappoose. At almost every gathering
of the household, for several days after, something was recalled of
her uncouth, yet interesting looks, and of her wild, yet winning ways.
Charley persisted in his opinion that "Moppet would be pretty, if she
wore her hair like folks."

"Her father and mother called her Wik-a-nee," said Willie; "and I like
that name better than I do Moppet." He took great pains to teach it
to his baby sister; and he succeeded so well, that, whenever the
red-and-yellow basket was shown to her, she said, "Mik-a-nee,"--the W
being beyond her infant capabilities.

Something of tenderness mixed with Mrs. Wharton's recollections of the
grotesque little stranger. "I never saw anything so like the light of an
astral lamp as those beautiful large eyes of hers," said she. "I began
to love the odd little thing; and if she had stayed much longer, I
should have been very loath to part with her."

The remembrance of the incident gradually faded; but whenever a far-off
neighbor or passing emigrant stopped at the cabin, Willie brought
forward his basket, and repeated the story of Wik-a-nee,--seldom
forgetting to imitate her strange cry of joy when she saw the scarlet
peas. His mother was now obliged to be more watchful than ever to
prevent him from wandering out of sight and hearing. He had imbibed an
indefinite idea that there was a great realm of adventure out there
beyond. If he could only get a little nearer to the horizon, he thought
he might perhaps find another pappoose, or catch a prairie-dog and tame
it. He had heard his father say that a great many of those animals lived
together in houses under ground,--that they placed sentinels at their
doors to watch, and held a town-meeting when any danger approached.
When Willie was summoned from his exploring excursions, he often
remonstrated, saying, "Mother, what makes you blow the horn so _soon_?
You never give me time to find a prairie-dog. It would be capital fun
to have a dog that knows enough to go to town-meeting." Charley took
particular pleasure in increasing his excitement on that subject.
He told him he had once seen a prairie-dog standing sentinel at the
entrance-hole of their habitations. He made a picture of the creature
with charcoal on the shed-door, and proposed to prick a copy of it into
Willie's arm with India-ink, which was joyfully agreed to. The likeness,
when completed, was very much like a squash upon two sticks, but it
was eminently satisfactory to the boys. There was no end to Willie's
inquiries. How to find that hole which Charley had seen, to crawl into
it, and attend a dogs' town-meeting, was the ruling idea of his life.
Unsentimental as it was, considering the juvenile gallantry he had
manifested, it was an undeniable fact, that, in the course of a few
months, prairie-dogs had chased Wik-a-nee almost beyond the bounds of
his memory.

Autumn came, and was passing away. The waving sea of verdure had become
brown, and the clumps of trees, dotted about like islands, stood denuded
of their foliage. At this season the cattle were missing one day, and
were not to be found. A party was formed to go in search of them,
consisting of all the men from both homesteads, except Mr. Wharton, who
remained to protect the women and children, in case of any unforeseen
emergency. Charley obtained his father's permission to go with Uncle
George; and Willie began to beg hard to go also. When his mother told
him he was too young to be trusted, he did not cry, because he knew it
was an invariable rule that he was never to have anything he cried
for; but he grasped her gown, and looked beseechingly in her face, and
said,--

"Oh, mother, do let me go with Charley, just this once! Maybe we shall
catch a prairie-dog."

"No, darling," she replied. "You are not old enough to go so far. When
you are a bigger boy, you shall go after the cattle, and go a-hunting
with father, too, if you like."

"Oh, dear!" he exclaimed, impatiently, "when _shall_ I be a bigger boy?
You _never_ will let me go far enough to see the prairie-dogs hold a
town-meeting!"

The large brown eyes looked up very imploringly.

Mr. Wharton smiled and said,--

"Jenny, you do keep the little fellow tied pretty close to your
apron-string. Perhaps you had better let him go this time."

Thus reinforced, the petted boy redoubled his importunities, and finally
received permission to go, on condition that he would be very careful
not to wander away from his brother. Charley promised not to trust him
out of his sight; and the men said, if they were detained till dark,
they would be sure to put the boys in a safe path to return home
before sunset. Willie was equipped for the excursion, full of joyous
anticipations of marvellous adventures and promises to return before
sunset and tell his parents about everything he had seen. His mother
kissed him, as she drew the little cap over his brown locks, and
repeated her injunctions over and over again. He jumped down both steps
of the piazza at once, eager to see whether Uncle George and Charley
were ready. His mother stood watching him, and he looked up to her with
such a joyful smile on his broad, frank face, that she called to him,--

"Come and kiss me again, Willie, before you go; and remember, dear, not
to go out of sight of Uncle George and Charley."

He leaped up the steps, gave her a hearty smack, and bounded away.

When the party started, she stood a little while gazing after them. Her
husband said,--

"What a pet you make of that boy, Jenny. And it must be confessed he is
the brightest one of the lot."

"And a good child, too," she rejoined. "He is so affectionate, and so
willing to mind what is said to him! But he is so active, and eager for
adventures! How the prairie-dogs do occupy his busy little brain!"

"That comes of living out West," replied Mr. Wharton, smiling. "You know
the miller told us, when we first came, that there was nothing like it
for making folks know everything about all _natur_'."

They separated to pursue their different avocations, and, being busy,
were consequently cheerful,--except that the mother had some occasional
misgivings whether she had acted prudently in consenting that her
darling should go beyond sound of the horn. She began to look out for
the boys early in the afternoon; but the hours passed, and still they
came not. The sun had sunk below the horizon, and was sending up regular
streaks of gold, like a great glittering crown, when Charley was seen
coming alone across the prairie. A pang like the point of a dagger went
through the mother's heart. Her first thought was,--

"Oh, my son! my son! some evil beast has devoured him."

Charley walked so slowly and wearily that she could not wait for his
coming, but went forth to meet him. As soon as she came within sound of
his voice, she called out,--

"Oh, Charley, where's Willie?"

The poor boy trembled in every joint, as he threw himself upon her neck
and sobbed out,--

"Oh, mother! mother!"

Her face was very pale, as she asked, in low, hollow tones,--

"Is he dead?"

"No, mother; but we don't know where he is. Oh, mother, do forgive me!"
was the despairing answer.

The story was soon told. The cattle had strayed farther than they
supposed, and Willie was very tired before they came in sight of them.
It was not convenient to spare a man to convey him home, and it was
agreed that Charley should take him a short distance from their route
to a log-cabin, with whose friendly inmates they were well acquainted.
There he was to be left to rest, while his brother returned for a while
to help in bringing the cattle together. The men separated, going in
various circuitous directions, agreeing to meet at a specified point,
and wait for Charley. He had a boy's impatience to be at the place of
rendezvous. When he arrived near the cabin, and had led Willie into the
straight path to it, he charged him to go into the house, and not leave
it till he came for him; and then he ran back with all speed to Uncle
George. The transaction seemed to him so safe that it did not occur to
his honest mind that he had violated the promise given to his mother.
While the sun was yet high in the heavens, his uncle sent him back to
the log-cabin for Willie, and sent a man with him to guide them both
within sight of home. Great was their alarm when the inmates of the
house told them they had not seen the little boy. They searched, in hot
haste, in every direction. Diverging from the road to the cabin was a
path known as the Indian trail, on which hunters, of various tribes,
passed and repassed in their journeys to and from Canada. The prints of
Willie's shoes were traced some distance on this path, but disappeared
at a wooded knoll not far off. The inmates of the cabin said a party of
Indians had passed that way in the forenoon. With great zeal they joined
in the search, taking with them horns and dogs. Charley ran hither and
thither, in an agony of remorse and terror, screaming, "Willie! Willie!"
Horns were blown with all the strength of manly lungs; but there was no
answer,--not even the illusion of an echo. All agreed in thinking that
the lost boy had been on the Indian trail; but whether he had taken it
by mistake, or whether he had been tempted aside from his path by hopes
of finding prairie-dogs, was matter of conjecture. Charley was almost
exhausted by fatigue and anxiety, when his father's man guided him
within sight of home, and told him to go to his mother, while he
returned to give the alarm to Uncle George. This was all the unhappy
brother had to tell; and during the recital his voice was often
interrupted by sobs, and he exclaimed, with passionate vehemence,--

"Oh, father! oh, mother! do forgive me! I didn't think I was doing
wrong,--indeed, I didn't!"

With aching hearts, they tried to soothe him; but he would not be
comforted.

Mr. Wharton's first impulse was to rush out in search of his lost child.
But the shades of evening were close at hand, and he deemed it unsafe to
leave Jenny and Mary and their little girls with no other protector than
an overtired boy.

"Oh, why did I advise her to let the dear child go?" was the lamenting
cry continually resounding in his heart; and the mother reproached
herself bitterly that she had consented against her better judgment.

Neither of them uttered these thoughts; but remorseful sorrow manifested
itself in increased tenderness toward each other and the children. When
Emma was undressed for the night, the mother's tears fell fast among her
ringlets; and when the father took her in his arms to carry her to the
trundle-bed, he pressed her to his heart more closely than ever before;
while she, all wondering at the strange tearful silence round her, began
to grieve, and say,--

"I want Willie to go to bed with me. Why don't Willie come?"

Putting strong constraint upon the agony her words excited, the unhappy
parents soothed her with promises until she fell into a peaceful
slumber. As they turned to leave the bedroom, both looked at the vacant
pillow where that other young head had reposed for years, and they fell
into each other's arms and wept.

Charley could not be persuaded to go to bed till Uncle George came; and
they forbore to urge it, seeing that he was too nervous and excited to
sleep. Stars were winking at the sleepy flowers on the prairie, when the
party returned with a portion of the cattle, and no tidings of Willie.
Uncle George's mournful face revealed this, before he exclaimed,--

"Oh, my poor sister! I shall never forgive myself for not going with
your boys. But the cabin was in plain sight, and the distance so short I
thought I could trust Charley."

"Oh, don't, uncle! don't!" exclaimed the poor boy. "My heart will
break!"

A silent patting on the head was the only answer; and Uncle George never
reproached him afterward.

Neither of the distressed parents could endure the thoughts of
discontinuing the search till morning. A wagon was sent for the miller
and his men, and, accompanied by them, Mr. Wharton started for the
Indian trail. They took with them lanterns, torches, and horns, and a
trumpet, to be sounded as a signal that the lost one was found. The
wretched mother traversed the piazza slowly, gazing after them, as their
torches cast a weird, fantastic light on the leafless trees they passed.
She listened to the horns resounding in the distance, till the _tremolo_
motion they imparted to the air became faint as the buzz of insects. At
last, Charles, who walked silently by her side, was persuaded to go to
bed, where, some time after midnight, he cried himself into uneasy,
dreamful slumber. But no drowsiness came to the mother's eyelids. All
night long she sat watching at the bedroom-window, longing for the gleam
of returning torches, and the joyful _fanfare_ of the trumpet. But all
was dark and still. Only stars, like the eyes of spirits, looked down
from the solemn arch of heaven upon the desolate expanse of prairie.

The sun had risen when the exploring party returned, jaded and
dispirited, from their fruitless search. Uncle George, who went forth to
meet them, dreaded his sister's inquiring look. But her husband laid his
hand tenderly on her shoulder, and said.---

"Don't be discouraged, Jenny. I don't believe any harm has happened to
him. There are no traces of wild beasts."

"But the Indians," she murmured, faintly.

"I am glad to hear you say that," said Uncle George. "My belief is that
he is with the Indians; and for that reason, I think we have great cause
to hope. Very likely he saw the Indians, and thought Wik-a-nee was with
them, and so went in pursuit of her. If she, or any of her relatives,
are with those hunters, they will be sure to bring back our little
Willie; for Indians are never ungrateful."

The mother's fainting heart caught eagerly at this suggestion; and
Charley felt so much relieved by it that he was on the point of saying
he was sure it must have been either Moppet or a dogs' town-meeting that
lured Willie from the path he had pointed out to him. But everybody
looked too serious for jesting; and memory of his own fault quickly
repressed the momentary elasticity.

Countless were the times that the bereaved parents east wistful glances
over the prairie, with a vague hope of descrying Indians returning
with their child. The search was kept up for days and weeks. All the
neighbors, within a circuit of fifteen miles, entered zealously into
the work, and explored prairie and forest far and wide. At last these
efforts were given up as useless. Still Uncle George held out the
cheerful prospect that the Indians would bring him, when they returned
from their long hunting-excursion; and with this the mother tried to
sustain her sinking hopes. But month after month she saw the snowy
expanse of prairie gleaming in the moonlight, and no little footstep
broke its untrodden crust. Spring returned, and the sea of flowers again
rippled in waves, as if Flora and her train had sportively taken lessons
of the water-nymphs; but no little hands came laden with blossoms to
heap in Emma's lap. The birds twittered and warbled, but the responsive
whistle of the merry boy was silent; only its echo was left in the
melancholy halls of memory. His chair and plate were placed as usual,
when the family met at meals. At first this was done with an undefined
hope that he might come before they rose from table, and afterward
they could not bear to discontinue the custom, because it seemed like
acknowledging that he was entirely gone.

Mrs. Wharton changed rapidly. The light of her eyes grew dim, the color
faded from her cheeks, and the tones of her once cheerful voice became
plaintive as the "Light of Other Days." Always, from the depths of her
weary heart, came up the accusing cry, "Oh, why did I let him go?" She
never reproached others; but all the more bitterly did Mr. Wharton,
Uncle George, and above all poor Charley, reproach themselves. The once
peaceful cabins were haunted by a little ghost, and the petted child
became an accusing spirit. Alas! who is there that is not chained to
some rock of the past, with the vulture of memory tearing at his vitals,
screaming forever in the ear of conscience? These unavailing regrets are
inexorable as the whip of the Furies.

Four years had passed away, when some fur-traders passed through that
region, and told of a white boy they had seen among the Pottawatomie
Indians. Everybody had heard the story of Willie's mysterious
disappearance, and the tidings were speedily conveyed to the Wharton
family. They immediately wrote to the United-States Agent among that
tribe. After waiting awhile, they all became restless. One day, Uncle
George said to his sister,--

"Jenny, I have never forgiven myself for leaving your boys to take care
of themselves, that fatal day. I cannot be easy. I must go in search of
Willie."

"Heaven bless you!" she replied. "My dear James has just been talking of
starting on the same journey. I confess I want some one to go and look
for the poor boy; but it seems to me selfish; for it is a long and
difficult journey, and may bring fresh misfortunes upon us."

After some friendly altercation between Mr. Wharton and the brother, as
to which should go, it was decided that George should have his way; and
brave, unselfish Aunt Mary uttered no word of dissuasion. He started on
his arduous journey, cheered by hope, and strong in a generous purpose.
It seemed long before a letter was received from him, and when it came,
its contents were discouraging. The Indian Agent said he had caused
diligent search to be made, and he was convinced there was no white
child among the tribes in that region. Uncle George persevered in
efforts to obtain some clue to the report which had induced him to
travel so far. But after several weeks, he was obliged to return alone,
and without tidings.

Mrs. Wharton's hopes had been more excited than she was herself aware
of, and she vainly tried to rally from the disappointment. This
never-ending uncertainty, this hope forever deferred, was harder to
endure than would have been the knowledge that her dear son was dead.
She thought it would be a relief, even if fragments of his clothes
should be found, showing that he had been torn to pieces by wild beasts;
for then she would have the consolation of believing that her darling
was with the angels. But when she thought of him hopelessly out of
reach, among the Indians, imagination conjured up all manner of painful
images. Deeper and deeper depression overshadowed her spirits and
seriously impaired her health. She was diligent in her domestic duties,
careful and tender of every member of her household, but everything
wearied her. Languidly she saw the seasons come and go, and took
no pleasure in them. A village was growing up round her; but the
new-comers, in whom she would once have felt a lively interest, now
flitted by her like the shadows in a magic-lantern. "Poor woman!" said
the old settlers to the new ones. "She is not what she was. She is
heart-broken."

Eight years more passed away, and Mrs. Wharton, always feeble, but never
complaining, continued to perform a share of household work, with a
pensive resignation which excited tenderness in her family and inspired
even strangers with pitying deference. Her heartstrings had not broken,
but they gradually withered and dried up, under the blighting influence
of this life-long sorrow. It was mild October weather, when she lay down
to rise no more. Emma had outgrown the trundle-bed, and no one occupied
it; but it remained in the old place. When they led her into the bedroom
for the last time, she asked them to draw it out, that she might look
upon Willie's pillow once more. Memories of her fair boy sleeping there
in the moonlight came into her soul with the vividness of reality.
Her eyes filled with tears, and she seemed to be occupied with inward
prayer. At a signal from her, the husband and brother lifted her
tenderly, and placed her in the bed, which Aunt Mary had prepared. The
New Testament was brought, and Mr. Wharton read the fourteenth chapter
of John. As they closed the book, she said faintly, "Sing, 'I'm going
home.'" It was a Methodist hymn, learned in her youth, and had always
been a favorite with her. The two families had often sung it together on
Sabbath days, exciting the wonderment of the birds in the stillness of
the prairie. They now sang it with peculiar depth of feeling; and as
the clear treble of Aunt Mary's voice, and the sweet childlike tones of
Emma, followed and hovered over the clear, strong tenor of Uncle George,
and the deep bass of Mr. Wharton, the invalid smiled serenely, while her
attenuated hand moved to the measure of the music.

She slept much on that and the following day, and seemed unconscious of
all around her. On the third day, her watchful husband noticed that her
countenance lighted up suddenly, like a landscape when clouds pass from
the sun.

This was followed by a smile expressive of deep inward joy. He stooped
down and whispered,--

"What is it, dear?"

She looked up, with eyes full of interior light, and said,--

"Our Willie!"

She spoke in tones stronger than they had heard from her for several
days; and after a slight pause, she added,--

"Don't you see him? Wik-a-nee is with him, and he is weaving a string of
the Guinea-peas in her hair. He wears an Indian blanket; but they look
happy, there where yellow leaves are falling and the bright waters are
sparkling."

"It is a flood of memory," said Mr. Wharton, in a low tone. "She recalls
the time when Wik-a-nee was so pleased with the Guinea-peas that Willie
gave her."

"She has wakened from a pleasant dream," said Uncle George, with the
same subdued voice. "It still remains with her, and the pictures seem
real."

The remarks were not intended for her ear, but she heard them, and
murmured,--

"No,--not a dream. Don't you _see_ them?"

They were the last words she ever uttered. She soon dozed away into
apparent oblivion; but twice afterward, that preternatural smile
illumined her whole countenance.

At that same hour, hundreds of miles away, on the side of a wooded hill,
mirrored in bright waters below, sat a white lad with a brown lassie
beside him, among whose black shining tresses he was weaving strings of
scarlet seeds. He was clothed with an Indian blanket, and she with a
skirt of woven grass. Above them, from a tree glorious with sunshine,
fell a golden shower of autumn leaves. They were talking together in
some Indian dialect.

"A-lee-lah," said he, "your mother always told me that I gave you these
red seeds when I was a little boy. I wonder where I was then. I wish I
knew. I never understood half she told me about the long trail. I don't
believe I could ever find my way."

"Don't go!" said his companion, pleadingly. "The sun will shine no more
on A-lee-lah's path."

He smiled and was silent for a few minutes, while he twined some of the
scarlet seeds on grasses round her wrist. He revealed the tenor of his
musings by saying,--

"A-lee-lah, I wish I could see my mother. Your mother told me she had
blue eyes and pale hair. I don't remember ever seeing a woman with blue
eyes and pale hair."

Suddenly he started.

"What is it?" inquired the young girl, springing to her feet.

"My mother!" he exclaimed. "Don't you see her? She is smiling at me.
How beautiful her blue eyes are! Ah, now she is gone!" His whole frame
quivered with emotion, as he cried out, in an agony of earnestness, "I
want to go to my mother! I _must_ go to my mother! Who can tell me where
to find my mother?"

"You have looked into the Spirit-Land," replied the Indian maiden,
solemnly.

Was the mighty power of love, in that dying mother's heart, a spiritual
force, conveying her image to the mind of her child, as electricity
transmits the telegram? Love photographs very vividly on the memory;
when intensely concentrated, may it not perceive scenes and images
unknown to the bodily eye, and, like the sunshine, under favorable
circumstances, make the pictures visible? Who can answer such questions?
Mysterious beyond comprehension are the laws of our complex being.
The mother saw her distant son, and the son beheld his long-forgotten
mother. How it was, neither of them knew or thought; but on the soul
of each, in their separate spheres of existence, the vision was
photographed.

In the desolated dwelling on the prairie, they were all unconscious of
this magnetic transmission of intelligence between the dying mother and
her far-off child. As she lay in her coffin, they spoke soothingly
to each other, that she had passed away without suffering, dreaming
pleasantly of Willie and the little Indian girl. Their memories were
excited to fresh activity, and the sayings and doings of Willie and
the pappoose were recounted for the thousandth time. Emma had no
recollection of her lost brother, and the story of his adventure with
Moppet always amused her young imagination. But such reminiscences never
brought a smile to Charley's face. When he heard the clods fall on
his mother's coffin, heavier and more dismally fell on his heart the
remembrance of his broken promise, which had so dried up the fountains
of her life. Four times had the flowers bloomed above that mother's
grave, and still, for her dear sake, all the memorials of her absent
darling remained as she had liked to have them. The trundle-bed was
never removed, the Indian basket remained under the glass in the
bedroom, where his own little hands had put it, and his chair retained
its place at the table. Out of the family he was nearly forgotten; but
parents now and then continued to frighten truant boys by telling them
of Willie Wharton, who was carried off by Indians and never heard of
after.

The landscape had greatly changed since Mr. Wharton and his
brother-in-law built their cabins in the wilderness. Those cabins were
now sheds and kitchens appended to larger and more commodious dwellings.
A village had grown up around them. On the spire of a new meeting-house
a gilded fish sailed round from north to south, to the great admiration
of children in the opposite schoolhouse. The wild-flowers of the prairie
were supplanted by luxuriant fields of wheat and rye, forever undulating
in wave-like motion, as if Nature loved the rhythm of the sea, and
breathed it to the inland grasses. Neat little Bessie was a married
woman now, and presided over the young Squire's establishment, in a
large white house with green blinds. Charley had taken to himself a
wife, and had a little Willie in the cradle, in whose infant features
grandfather fondly traced some likeness to the lost one.

Such was the state of things, when Charles Wharton returned from the
village-store, one day, with some articles wrapped in a newspaper from
Indiana. A vague feeling of curiosity led him to glance over it, and his
attention was at once arrested by the following paragraph:--

"A good deal of interest has been excited here by the appearance of a
young man, who supposes himself to be twenty-three years old, evidently
white, but with the manners and dress of an Indian. He says he was
carried away from his home by Indians, and they have always told him he
was then six years old. He speaks no English, and an Indian interpreter
who is with him is so scantily supplied with words that the information
we have obtained is very unsatisfactory. But we have learned that the
young man is trying to find his mother. Some of our neighbors regard him
as an impostor. But he does not ask for money, and there is something
in his frank physiognomy calculated to inspire confidence. We therefore
believe his statement, and publish it, hoping it may be seen by some
bereaved family."

Charles rushed into the field, and exclaimed,--

"Father, I do believe we have at last got some tidings of Willie!"

"Where? What is it?" was the quick response.

The offered newspaper was eagerly seized, and the father's hand trembled
visibly while he read the paragraph.

"We must start for Indiana directly," he said; and he walked rapidly
toward the house, followed by his son.

Arriving at the gate, he paused and said,--

"But, Charles, he will have altered so much that perhaps we shouldn't
know him; and it may be, as the people say, that this youth is an
impostor."

The young man replied, unhesitatingly,--

"I can tell whether he is an impostor. I shall know my brother."

His voice quivered a little, as he spoke the last word.

Mr. Wharton, without appearing to notice it, said,--

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