This page contains affiliate links. As Amazon Associates we earn from qualifying purchases.
  • 07/1859
Buy it on Amazon FREE Audible 30 days

“Our little Cupid hath _sued livery_ And is no more in his minority.”
DONNE’S Eclogues, 1613.

Spenser, too, uses the phrase figuratively in another sense, in the following passage,–which may be one of those which Chalmers had in his eye, when, according to Lord Campbell, he “first suggested” that Shakespeare was once an attorney’s clerk:–

“She gladly did of that same Babe accept, As of her owne by _liverey and seisin_; And having over it a litle wept,
She bore it thence, and ever as her owne it kept.” _Faerie Queene_, B. VI. C. iv. st. 37.

So, for an instance of the phrase “fee,” which Lord Campbell notices as one of those expressions and allusions which “crop out” in “Hamlet,” “showing the substratum of law in the author’s mind,”–

“We go to gain a little patch of ground, That hath in it no profit but the name. To pay five ducats, five, I would not farm it; Nor will it yield to Norway or the Pole A ranker rate, should it be sold _in fee_,”– Act iv. Sc. 2.

and of which Mr. Rushton quotes several instances in its fuller form, “fee simple,”–we have but to turn back a few stanzas in this same canto of the “Faerie Queene,” to find one in which the term is used with the completest apprehension of its meaning:–

“So is my lord now _seiz’d of_ all the land, As _in his fee_, with peaceable _estate_, And quietly doth hold it in his hand,
Ne any dares with him for it debate.” _Ib_. st. 30.

And in the next canto:–

“Of which the greatest part is due to me, And heaven itself, by heritage _in fee_.” _Ib._ C. vii. st. 15.

And in the first of these two passages from the “Faerie Queene,” we have two words, “seized” and “estate,” intelligently and correctly used in their purely legal sense, as Shakespeare himself uses them in the following passages, which our Chief Justice and our barrister have both passed by, as, indeed, they have passed many others equally worthy of notice:–

“Did forfeit with his life all those his lands Which he stood _seiz’d of_ to the conqueror.” _Hamlet_, Act i. Sc. 1.

“The terms of our _estate_ may not endure Hazard so near us,” etc.–_Ib_. Act iii. Sc. 3.

Among the most important passages cited by both our authors is one that every reader of Shakespeare will recollect, when it is mentioned to him,–Hamlet’s speech over the skull in the grave-digging scene. But although this speech is remarkable for the number of law-terms used in it, only one of them seems to evince any recondite knowledge of the law. This is the word “statutes,” in the following sentence:–

“This fellow might be in’s time a buyer of land, with his statutes, his recognizances, his fines, his double vouchers, his recoveries.” Act v. Sc. 1.

The general reader supposes, we believe, and very naturally, that here “statutes” means laws, Acts of Parliament concerning real estate. But, as Mr. Rushton remarks, (Malone having explained the term before him,) “The statutes referred to by Hamlet are, doubtless, statutes merchant and statutes staple.” And “a statute merchant (so called from the 13th Edward I., _De mercatoribus_) was a _bond_ acknowledged before one of the clerks of the statutes merchant, and the mayor, etc., etc. A statute staple, properly so called, was a _bond of record_, acknowledged before the mayor of the staple,” etc., etc.

Here we again have a law-term apparently so out of the ken of an unprofessional writer, that it would seem to favor the Attorney and Solicitor theory. But let us see if the knowledge which its use implies was confined to Shakespeare among the dramatists of his time.

In Fletcher’s “Noble Gentleman,” a comedy, first performed in 1625, we find a lady, sorely pushed for ready cash, crying out,–

“Take up at any use: give bond, or land, Or mighty _statutes_, able by their strength To tie up my Samson, were he now alive.” Act i. Sc. 1.

And in Middleton’s “Family of Love,” (where, by the way, the Free-Love folk of our own day may find their peculiar notions set forth and made the basis of the action, though the play was printed two hundred and fifty years ago,) we find a female free-loveyer thus teaching a mercantile brother of the family, that, although she has a sisterly disregard for some worldly restraints, she yet keeps an eye on the main chance:–

“Tut, you are master Dryfab, the merchant; your skill is greater in cony-skins and woolpacks than in gentlemen. His lands be _in statutes_: you merchants were wont to be merchant staplers; but now gentlemen have gotten up the trade; for there is not one gentleman amongst twenty but his lands be engaged in twenty statutes staple.”

Act i. Sc. 3.

And in the very first speech of the first scene of the same play, the husband of this virtuous and careful dame says of the same “Gerardine,” (who, as he is poor and a gentleman, it need hardly be said, is about the only honest man in the piece,)–“His lands be _in statutes_.” And that poor debauchee, Robert Greene, who knew no more of law than he might have derived from such limited, though authentic information as to its powers over gentlemen who made debts without the intention of paying them, as he may have received at frequent unsolicited interviews with a sergeant or a bum-bailiff, has this passage in his “Quip for an Upstart Courtier,” 1592:–

“The mercer he followeth the young upstart gentleman that hath no government of himself and feedeth his humour to go brave; he shall not want silks, sattins, velvets to pranke abroad in his pompe; but with this proviso, that he must bind over his land in a _statute merchant or staple_; and so at last forfeit all unto the merciless mercer, and leave himself never a foot of land in England.”

Very profound legal studies, therefore, cannot be predicated of Shakespeare on the ground of the knowledge which he has shown of this peculiar kind of statute.

It is not surprising that both our legal Shakespearean commentators cite the following passage from “As You Like It” in support of their theory; for in it the word “extent” is used in a sense so purely technical, that not one in a thousand of Shakespeare’s lay readers now-a-days would understand it without a note:–

_Duke F._ Well, push him out of doors, And let my officers of such a nature
_Make an extent_ upon his house and lands.” Act iii. Sc. 1.

“Extent,” as Mr. Rushton remarks, is directed to the sheriff to seize and value lands and goods to the utmost extent; “an _extendi facias_” as Lord Campbell authoritatively says, “applying to the house and lands as a _fieri facias_ would apply to goods and chattels, or a _capias ad satisfaciendum_ to the person.” But that John Fletcher knew, as well as my Lord Chief Justice, or Mr. Barrister Rushton, or even, perhaps, William Shakespeare, all the woes that followed an extent, the elder Mr. Weller at least would not have doubted, had he in the course of his literary leisure fallen upon the following passage in “Wit Without Money” (1630):–

“_Val_ Mark me, widows
Are long _extents_ in law upon men’s livings, Upon their bodies’ winding-sheets; they that enjoy ’em Lie but with dead men’s monuments, and beget Only their own ill epitaphs.”
Act ii. Sc. 2.

George Wilkins, too, the obscure author of “The Miseries of Enforced Marriage,” uses the term with as full an understanding, though not with so feeling an expression or so scandalous an illustration of it, in the following passage from the fifth act of that play, which was produced about 1605 or 1606:–

“They are usurers; they come yawning for money; and the–sheriff with them is come to serve an _extent_ upon your land, and then seize your body by force of execution.”

Another seemingly recondite law-phrase used by Shakespeare, which Lord Campbell passes entirely by, though Mr. Rushton quotes three instances of it, is “taken with the manner.” This has nothing to do with good manners or ill manners; but, in the words of the old law-book before cited,–

–“is when a theefe hath stollen and is followed with hue and crie and taken, having that found about him which he stole;–that is called ye maynour. And so we commonly use to saye, when wee finde one doing of an unlawful act, that we tooke him with the maynour or manner.”

_Termes de la Ley_, 1595, fol. 126, _b_.

Shakespeare, therefore, uses the phrase with perfect understanding, when he makes Prince Hal say to Bardolph,–

“O villain, thou stolest a cup of sack eighteen years ago, and wert _taken with the manner_, and ever since thou hast blush’d extempore.” 1 _Henry IV_.Act ii, Sc. 4.

But so Fletcher uses the same phrase, and as correctly, when he makes Perez say to Estefania, in “Rule a Wife and Have a Wife,”–

“How like a sheep-biting rogue, _taken i’ the manner_, And ready for the halter, dost thou look now!”–Act v. Sc. 4.

But both Fletcher and Shakespeare, in their use of this phrase, unusual as it now seems to us, have only exemplified the custom referred to by our contemporary legal authority,–“And so we _commonly use to saye_, when wee finde one doing of an unlawfull act, that we tooke him with the maynour”; though this must doubtless be understood to refer to persons of a certain degree of education and knowledge of the world.

It seems, then, that the application of legal phraseology to the ordinary affairs of life was more common two hundred and fifty years ago than now; though even now-a-days it is much more generally used in the rural districts than persons who have not lived in them would suppose. There law shares with agriculture the function of providing those phrases of common conversation which, used figuratively at first, and often with poetic feeling, soon pass into mere thought-saving formulas of speech, and which in large cities are chiefly drawn from trade and politics. And if in the use of the law-terms upon which we have remarked, which are the more especially technical and remote from the language of unprofessional life among all those which occur in Shakespeare’s works, he was not singular, but, as we have seen, availed himself only of a knowledge which other contemporary poets and playwrights possessed, how much more easily might we show that those commoner legal words and phrases, to remarks upon Shakespeare’s use of which both the books before us (and especially Lord Campbell’s) are mainly devoted, “judgment,” “fine,” “these presents,” “testament,” “attorney,” “arbitrator,” “fees,” “bond,” “lease,” “pleading,” “arrest,” “session,” “mortgage,” “vouchers,” “indentures,” “assault,” “battery,” “dower,” “covenant,” “distrain,” “bail,” “non-suit,” etc., etc., etc.,–words which everybody understands,–are scattered through all the literature of Shakespeare’s time, and, indeed, of all time since there were courts and suits at law!

Many of the passages which Lord Campbell cites as evidence of Shakespeare’s “legal acquirements” excite only a smile at the self-delusion of the critic who could regard them for a moment in that light. For instance, these lines in that most exquisite song in “Measure for Measure;”–“Take, oh, take those lips away,”–

“But my kisses bring again
_Seals_ of love, but _seal’d_ in vain”;–

and these from “Venus and Adonis,”–

“Pure lips, sweet _seals_ in my soft lips imprinted, What bargains may I make, still to be _sealing_!”–

to which Mr. Rushton adds from “Hamlet,”–

“A combination and a form, indeed,
Where every god did seem to set his _seal_.”

Act iii. Sc. 4.

“Now must your conscience my acquittance _seal_.”–Act iv. Sc. 7.

And because indentures and deeds and covenants are sealed, these passages must be accepted as part of the evidence that Shakespeare narrowly escaped being made Lord High Chancellor of England! It requires all the learning and the logic of a Lord Chief Justice and a London barrister to establish a connection between such premises and such a conclusion. And if Shakespeare’s lines smell of law, how strong is the odor of parchment and red tape in these, from Drayton’s Fourth Eclogue (1605):

“Kindnesse againe with kindnesse was repay’d, _And with sweet kisses covenants were sealed_.”

We ask pardon of the reader for the production of contemporary evidence, that, in Shakespeare’s day, a knowledge of the significance and binding nature of a seal was not confined to him among poets; for surely a man must be both a lawyer and a Shakespearean commentator to forget that the use of seals is as old as the art of writing, and, perhaps, older, and that the practice has furnished a figure of speech to poets from the time when it was written, that out of the whirlwind Job heard, “It is turned as clay to the _seal_,” and probably from a period yet more remote.

And is Lord Campbell really in earnest in the following grave and precisely expressed opinion?

“In the next scene, [of “Othello,”] Shakespeare gives us a _very distinct proof_ that he was acquainted with Admiralty law, as well as with the procedure of Westminster Hall. Describing the feat of the Moor in carrying off Desdemona against her father’s consent, which might either make or mar his fortune, according as the act might be sanctioned or nullified, Iago observes,–

“‘Faith, he to-night hath hoarded a land carack: If it prove a _lawful prize_, he’s made forever’;

the trope indicating that _there would be a suit in the High Court of Admiralty to determine the validity of the capture_”!–p. 91.

“Why did not his Lordship go farther, and decide, that, in the figurative use of the term, “land carack,” Shakespeare gave us very distinct proof that he was acquainted with maritime life, and especially with the carrying-trade between Spain and the West Indies? We respectfully submit to the court the following passage from Middleton and Rowley’s “Changeling,”–first published in 1653, but written many years before. Jasperino, seeing a lady, calls out,–

“Yonder’s another vessel!: Ile _board_ her: if she be _lawfall prize, down goes her topsail.”_ Act i. Sig. B. 2.

And with it we submit the following points, and ask a decision in our favor. First, That they, the said Middleton and Rowley, have furnished, in the use of the phrase “lawful prize,” in this passage, very distinct proof that they were acquainted with Admiralty law. Second, That, in the use of the other phrases, “board,” and especially “down goes her topsail,” they have furnished yet stronger evidence that they had been sailors on board armed vessels, and that the trope indicates, that, had not the vessel or lady in question lowered her topsail or top-knot, she would then and there have been put mercilessly to the sword.

But what shall we think of the acumen and the judgment of a Chief Justice, a man of letters, and a man of the world, who brings forward such passages as the following as part of the evidence bearing upon the question of Shakespeare’s legal acquirements?–

“Come; fear not you; _good counsellors lack no clients._”
_Measure for Measure_. Act i. Sc. 2.

“One that _before the judgement_ carries poor souls to hell.”
_Comedy of Errors_. Act iv. Sc. 2.

“Well, Time is the old _Justice_ that examines all such offenders,–and let Time try.” _As You Like It_. Act iv. Sc. 1.

“And that old common _arbitrator_, Time.” _Troilus and Cressida_. Act iv. Sc. 5.

“No cock of mine; you crow too like a _craven_.” _Taming of the Shrew_. Act ii. Sc. 1.

“Bestial oblivion or some _craven_ scruple.” _Hamlet_. Act iv. Sc. 4.

By which last line, according to Lord Campbell, (p. 55,) “Shakespeare shows that he was acquainted with _the law for regulating ‘trials by battle_'”;

But to proceed with the passages quoted in evidence:–

“Is not this a lamentable thing, that of the skin of an innocent lamb should be made _parchment_? that parchment, being _scribbled o’er_, should undo a man? Some say, the bee stings: but I say, ’tis the bee’s _wax_; for I did but _seal_ once to a thing, and I was never mine own man since.”–2 _Henry VI_. Act vi. Sc. 2.

Upon citing which, his Lordship exclaims,–

“Surely Shakespeare must have been employed to write _deeds_ on _parchment_ in _courthand_, and to apply the _wax_ to them in the form of _seals_. One does not understand how he should, on any other theory of his bringing-up, have been acquainted _with these details_”!

One does not; but we submit to the court, that, if two were to lay their heads together after the manner of Sydney Smith’s vestrymen, they might bring it about.

In aid of his Lordship’s further studies, we make the following suggestion. He doubtless knows that one of the earliest among our small stock of traditions about Shakespeare is that recorded by Aubrey as being derived from Stratford authority, that his father was a butcher, and that “when he was a boy he exercised his father’s trade, but when he kill’d a calfe, he wold do it in a high style, and make a speech.” When his Lordship considers this old tradition in connection with the following passage in one of Shakespeare’s earliest plays,–

“Who finds the heifer dead and bleeding fresh, And sees fast by a butcher with an axe, But will suspect ’twas he that made the slaughter,”–

2 _Henry VI._ Act iii. Sc. 2.

how can he resist the conclusion, that, although the divine Williams may not have run with “Forty,” it is highly probable that he did kill for Keyser? Let his Lordship also remember that other old tradition, mentioned by Rowe, that John Shakespeare was “a considerable dealer in wool,” and that William, upon leaving school, “seems to have given entirely into that way of living which his father proposed to him”; and remember, also, this passage from another of Shakespeare’s earliest plays:–

“He is too picked, too spruce, too affected, too odd, as it were, too peregrinate, as I may call it…He draweth out the _thread of his verbosity finer than the staple of his argument.” –_Love’s Labor’s Lost_. Act v. Sc. 1.

Is there not a goodly part of the wool-stapler’s craft, as well as of the art of rhetoric, compressed into that one sentence by the hydraulic power of Shakespeare’s genius? Does it not show that he was initiated in the mysteries of long and short staple before he wrote this, perhaps, his earliest play? But look again at the following passage, also written when his memory of his boyish days was freshest, and see the evidence that _both_ these traditions were well founded:–

“So, first, the harmless sheep doth yield _his fleece;_ And, next, _his throat unto the butcher’s knife.”_

Could these lines have been written by a man who had not been both a considerable dealer in wool, and a butcher who killed a calf in high style and made a speech? Who can have a doubt about this matter, when he appreciates rightly the following passage in “Hamlet,” (Act v. Sc. 2,) and is penetrated with the wisdom of two wise commentators upon it?–

‘Our indiscretion sometimes serves us well, When our deep plots do pall; and that should teach us There’s a divinity that shapes our ends, Rough-hew them how we will.’

Dr. Farmer informs me that these words are merely technical. A wool-man, butcher, and dealer in _skewers_ lately observed to him that his nephew (an idle lad) could only _assist_ him in making them;–he could _rough hew_ them, but I was obliged to shape their ends! To shape the ends of wool-skewers, i.e., to _point_ them, requires a degree of skill; any one can _rough-hew_ them. Whoever recollects the profession of Shakespeare’s father will admit that his son might be no stranger to such terms. “I have frequently seen packages of wool pinn’d up with skewers.”–STEEVENS.

Lucky wool-man, butcher, and dealer in skewers! to furnish at once a comment upon the great philosophical tragedy and a proof that its author and you were both of a trade! Fortunate Farmer, to have heard the story! and most sagacious Steevens, to have penetrated its hidden meaning, recollecting felicitously that you had seen packages of wool pinn’d up with skewers! But, O wisest, highest-and-deepest-minded Shakespeare, to have remembered, as you were propounding, Hamlet-wise, one of the great unsolvable mysteries of life, the skewers that you, being an idle lad, could but rough-hew, leaving to your careful father the skill-requiring task to shape their ends!–ends without which they could not have bound together the packages of wool with which you loaded the carts that backed up to the door in Henley Street, or have penetrated the veal of the calves that you killed in such a high style and with so much eloquence, and which loaded the tray that you daily bore on your shoulder to the kitchen-door of New Place, yet unsuspecting that you were to become its master!

Yet we would not too strongly insist upon this evidence, that Shakespeare in his boyhood served both as a butcher’s and a wool-stapler’s apprentice; for we venture to think that we have discovered evidence in his works that their author was a tailor. For, in the first place, the word “tailor” occurs no less than thirty-five times in his plays. [The reader is to suppose that we are able to record this fact by an intimate acquaintance with every line that Shakespeare wrote, and by a prodigious effort of memory, and not by reference to Mrs. Clark’s Concordance.] “Measures” occurs nearly thrice as often; “shears” is found no less than six times; “thimble,” three times; “goose,” no less than twenty-seven times!–and when we find, that, in all his thirty-seven plays, the word “cabbage” occurs but once, and then with the deliberate explanation that it means “worts” and is “good cabbage,” may we not regard such reticence upon this tender point as a touching confirmation of the truth of our theory? See, too, the comparison which Shakespeare uses, when he desires to express the service to which his favorite hero, Prince Hal, will put the manners of his wild companions:–

“So, like gross terms,
The Prince will, in the perfectness of time, Cast off his followers; and their memory Shall as a _pattern or a measure_ live
By which his Grace must mete the lives of others.”

2 _Henry IV._, Act iv. Sc. 4.

And in writing one of his earliest plays, Shakespeare’s mind seems to have been still so impressed with memories of his former vocation, that he made the outraged Valentine, as his severest censure of Proteus, reproach him with being badly dressed:–

“Ruffian, let go that rude, uncivil touch! Thou friend _of an ill fashion!_”

Act v. Sc. 4.

Cleopatra, too, who, we may be sure from her conduct, was addicted to very “low necks,” after Antony’s death becomes serious, and declares her intention to have something “after the high Roman fashion.” And what but a reminiscence of the disgust which a tailor of talent has for mending is it that breaks out in the Barons’ defiant message to King John?–

“The King hath dispossess’d himself of us; We will not line his thin bestained cloak.”

_King John_, Act iv. Sc. 3.

A memory, too, of the profuse adornment with which he had been called upon to decorate some very tender youth’s or miss’s fashionable suit intrudes itself even in his most thoughtful tragedy:–

“The canker galls the infants of the Spring Too oft before their _buttons_ be disclos’d.”

_Hamlet_, Act i. Sc. 3.

In “Macbeth,” desiring to pay the highest compliment to Macduff’s judgment and knowledge, he makes Lennox say,–

“He is noble, wise, judicious, and best knows _The fits of the season_.”–Act iv. Sc. 2.

Not the last fall or last spring style, be it observed, but that of the season, which it is most necessary for the fashionable tailor to know. In writing the first scene of the “Second Part of Henry IV.,” his mind was evidently crossed by the shade of some over-particular dandy, whose fastidious nicety as to the set of his garments he had failed to satisfy; for he makes Northumberland compare himself to a man who,

“_Impatient of his fit_, breaks like a fire Out of his keeper’s arms.”

And yet we must not rely too much even upon evidence so strong and so cumulative as this. For it would seem as if Shakespeare must have been a publisher, and have known the anxiety attendant upon the delay of an author not in high health to complete a work the first part of which has been put into the printer’s hands. Else, how are we to account for his feeling use of this beautiful metaphor in “Twelfth Night”?

“Lady, you are the cruell’st she alive, If you will lead these graces to the grave, And _leave the world no copy_.”

Act i. Sc. 5.

But this part of our subject expands before us, and we must stay our hand. We merely offer these hints as our modest contribution to the attempts to decide from phrases used in Shakespeare’s works what were his avocations before he became a playwright, and return to Lord Campbell and Mr. Rushton.

When Malone, in 1790, broached his theory, that Shakespeare had been an attorney’s clerk, he cited in support of it twenty-four passages. Mr. Rushton’s pamphlet brings forward ninety-five, more or less; Lord Campbell’s book, one hundred and sixty. But, from what he has seen of it, the reader will not be surprised at learning that a large number of the passages cited by his Lordship must be thrown aside, as having no bearing whatever on the question of Shakespeare’s legal acquirements. They evince no more legal knowledge, no greater familiarity with legal phraseology, than is apparent in the ordinary conversation of intelligent people generally, even at this day. Mr. Rushton, more systematic than his Lordship, has been also more careful; and from the pages of both we suppose that there might be selected a round hundred of phrases which could be fairly considered as having been used by Shakespeare with a consciousness of their original technicality and of their legal purport. This is not quite in the proportion of three to each of his thirty-seven plays; and if we reckon his sonnets and poems according to their lines, (and both Mr. Rushton and Lord Campbell cite from them,) the proportion falls to considerably less than three. But Malone’s twenty-four instances are of nearly as much value in the consideration of the question as Lord Campbell’s and Mr. Rushton’s hundred; for the latter gentlemen have added little to the strength, though considerably to the number, of the array on the affirmative side of the point in dispute; and we have seen, that, of the law-phrases cited by them from Shakespeare’s pages, the most recondite, as well as the most common and simple, are to be found in the works of the Chroniclers, whose very language Shakespeare used, and in those of the playwrights his contemporaries.

Our new advocates of the old cause, however, quote two passages which, from the freedom with which law-phrases are scattered through them, it is worth while to reproduce here. The first is the well-known speech in the grave-digging scene of “Hamlet”:–

“_Ham_. There’s another: Why may not that be the skull of a lawyer? Where be his quiddits now, his quillets, his _cases_, his _tenures_, and his tricks? why does he suffer this rude knave, now, to knock him about the sconce with a dirty shovel, and will not tell him of his _action of battery_? Humph! This fellow might be in’s time a great buyer of land, with his _statutes_, his _recognizances_, his _fines_, his _double vouchers_, his _recoveries_: Is this the _fine_ of his _fines_, and the _recovery_ of his _recoveries_, to have his fine pate full of fine dirt? will his _vouchers_ vouch him no more of his _purchases_, and _double ones_, too, than the length and breadth of a pair of _indentures_? The very _conveyances_ of his lands will hardly lie in this box; and must the _inheritor_ himself have no more? ha?”–Act v. Sc. 1.

The second is the following Sonnet, (No. 46,) not only the language, but the very fundamental conceit of which, it will be seen, is purely legal:–

“Mine Eye and Heart are at a mortal war How to divide the conquest of thy sight; Mine Eye my Heart thy picture’s sight would _bar_, My Heart mine Eye the freedom of that right. My Heart doth _plead_ that thou in him dost lie (A closet never pierc’d with crystal eyes); But the _defendant_ doth that _plea_ deny, And says in him thy fair appearance lies. To ‘cide this title is _impanelled_
A _quest_ of thoughts, all tenants to the Heart, And by their _verdict_ is determined
The clear Eye’s _moiety_, and the dear Heart’s part; As thus: Mine Eye’s due is thine outward part, And my Heart’s right, thine inward love of heart.”

It would seem, indeed, as if passages like these must be received as evidence that Shakespeare had more familiarity with legal phraseology, if not a greater knowledge of it, than could have been acquired except by habitual use in the course of professional occupation. But let us see if he is peculiar even in this crowding of many law-terms into a single brief passage. We turn to the very play open at our hand, from which we have quoted before, (and which, by the way, we have not selected as exceptional in this regard,) “The Miseries of Enforced Marriage,” and find the following passage in Act V.:–

“_Doctor_. Now, Sir, from this your _oath and bond,_ Faith’s pledge and _seal_ of conscience, you have run, Broken all _contracts_, and _forfeiture_ Justice hath now in _suit_ against your soul: Angels are made the _jurors_, who are _witnesses_ Unto the _oath_ you took; and God himself, Maker of marriage, He that hath _seal’d the deed_, As a firm _lease_ unto you during life, _Sits now as Judge_ of your transgression: The world _informs against you_ with this voice.– If such sins reign, what mortals can rejoice? _Scarborow_. What then ensues to me?
_Doctor_. A heavy _doom_, whose _execution’s_ Now _served upon_ your conscience,” etc. p. 91, D.O.P., Ed. 1825.

Indeed, the hunting of a metaphor or a conceit into the ground is a fault characteristic of Elizabethan literature, and one from which Shakespeare’s boldness, no less than his genius, was required to save him; and we have seen already how common was the figurative use of law-phrases among the poets and dramatists of his period. Hamlet’s speech and the Forty-sixth Sonnet cannot, therefore, be accepted as evidence of his attorneyship, except in so far as they and like passages may be regarded as giving some support to the opinion that Shakespeare was but one of many in his time who abandoned law for letters.

For we object not so much to the conclusion at which Lord Campbell arrives as to his mode of arriving at it. His method of investigation, which is no method at all, but the mere noting of passages in the order in which he found them in looking through Shakespeare’s works, is the rudest and least intelligent that could have been adopted; and his inference, that, because Shakespeare makes Jack Cade lament that the skin of an innocent lamb should be made parchment, and affirm that it is not the bee, but the bee’s wax, that stings, therefore he must have been employed to write deeds on parchment and append wax to them in the form of seals, is a fair specimen both of the acuteness and the logic which his Lordship displays in this his latest effort to unite Law and Literature.

There are, however, very considerable grounds for the opinion that Shakespeare had more than a layman’s acquaintance with the technical language of the law. For it must be admitted, in the first place, that he exhibits a remarkable acquaintance with it. That other playwrights and poets of his day manifest a like familiarity (as we have seen they do) precludes us, indeed, from regarding the mere occurrence of law-terms in his works as indications of early training proper to him alone. But they who, on the strength of the not unfrequent occurrence of legal phrases in many of the plays and much of the poetry of the Elizabethan period, would maintain that Shakespeare’s use of them furnishes no basis for the opinion that he acquired his knowledge of them professionally, must also assume and support the position, that, in the case of contemporary dramatists and poets, this use of the technical language of conveyancing and pleading also indicates no more than an ordinary acquaintance with it, and that, in comparing his works with theirs in this regard, we may assume the latter to have been produced by men who had no professional acquaintance with the law; because, if they had such professional acquaintance with legal phraseology, its appearance in their works as well as in Shakespeare’s would manifestly strengthen rather than invalidate the conclusion, that his familiarity with it was acquired as they acquired theirs. This position is, to say the least, a very difficult one to maintain, and one which any considerate student of Elizabethan literature would be very unwilling to assume. For our ignorance of the personal life of Shakespeare is remarkable only because he was Shakespeare; and we know little, if any, more about the greater number of his literary contemporaries than we do about him. It cannot even be safely presumed, for instance, that George Wilkins, the author of the law-besprinkled passage just above quoted from the “Miseries of Enforced Marriage,” was not a practising attorney or barrister before or even at the time when he wrote that play. On the contrary, it is extremely probable, nay, quite certain, that he and many other dramatic authors of the period when he flourished, (1600-1620,) and of the whole Elizabethan period, (1575-1625,) were nestling attorneys or barristers before they became full-fledged dramatists.

We are not without contemporary evidence upon this point. Thomas Nash, friend to Robert Greene, a playwright, poet, and novelist, whose works were in vogue just before Shakespeare wrote, in an “Epistle to the Gentlemen Students of the Two Universities,” with which, according to the fashion of the time, he introduced Greene’s “Menaphon” (1587)[D] to the reader, has the following paragraph:–

[Footnote D: Lord Campbell gives the date 1589; but see Mr. Dyce’s indisputable authority. Greene’s Works. Vol. I., pp. xxxvii. and ciii.]

“I will turn my back to my first text of studies of delight, and talk a little in friendship with a few of our trivial translators. It is a common practice, now-a-days, amongst a sort of shifting companions that run through every art and thrive by none, to leave the trade of Noverint, whereto they were born, and busy themselves with the endeavors of art, that could scarcely Latinize their neck-verse, if they should have need; yet English Seneca, read by candlelight, yields many good sentences, as, _Blood is a beggar_, and so forth; and if you intreat him fair in a frosty morning, he will afford you whole Hamlets,–I should say, handfuls of tragical speeches. But, oh grief! _Tempus edax rerum_,–what is that will last always? The sea, exhaled by drops, will, in continuance, be dry; and Seneca, let blood line by line and page by page, at length must needs die to our stage.”

It has most unaccountably been assumed that this passage refers to Shakespeare;[E] and it is even so cited by Lord Campbell himself,–to our surprise, when we remember his professional training and experience as a sifter of evidence. But, as far as regards its reference to a leaving of law for literature, it is clearly of general application. Nash says, “It is a _common practice_, now-a-days, amongst a sort of shifting companions, etc., to leave the trade of _Noverint_, whereto _they_ were born, and busy _themselves,”_ etc. By the trade of _Noverint_ he meant that of an attorney. The term was not uncommonly applied to members of that profession, because of the phrase, _Noverint universi per presentes_, (Know all men by these presents,) with which deeds, bonds, and many other legal instruments then began. And Nash’s testimony accords with what we know of the social and literary history of the age. There was no regular army in Elizabeth’s time; and the younger sons of gentlemen and well-to-do yeomen, who received from their fathers little more than an education and a very small allowance, and who did not become either military or maritime adventurers, opening their oyster with a sword, entered the Church or the profession of the law in its higher or lower grade; and as at that period there was much more demand for lawyers and much less for clergymen than there is now, and the Church had ceased to be a stepping-stone to political power and patronage, while the law had become more than ever before an avenue to fame, to fortune, and to rank, by far the greater number of these young gentlemen aspired to the woolsack. But then, as now, the early years of professional life were seasons of sharp trial and bitter disappointment. Necessity pressed sorely or pleasure wooed resistlessly, and the slender purse wasted rapidly away while the young attorney or barrister awaited the employment that did not come. He knew then, as now he knows, “the rich man’s scorn, the proud man’s contumely”; nay, he felt, as now he sometimes feels, the tooth of hunger gnawing through the principles and firm resolves that partition a life of honor and self-respect from one darkened by conscious loss of rectitude, if not by open shame. Happy,– yet, perhaps, oh, unhappy,–he who now in such a strait can wield the pen of a ready writer!–for the press, perchance, may afford him a support which, though temporary and precarious, will hold him up until he can stand upon more stable ground. But in the reigns of Good Queen Bess and Gentle Jamie there was no press. There was, however, an incessant demand for new plays. Play-going was the chief intellectual recreation of that day for all classes, high and low. It filled the place of our newspapers, our books, our lectures, our concerts, our picture-seeing, and, in a great measure, of our social gatherings and amusements, of whatever nature. It is hardly extravagant to say, that there were then more new plays produced in London in a month than there are now in Great Britain and the United States in a year. To play-writing, then, the needy young attorney or barrister possessed of literary talent turned his eyes at that day, as he does now to journalism; and it is almost beyond a doubt, that, of the multitudinous plays of that period which have survived and the thousands which have perished, a large proportion were produced by the younger sons of country gentlemen, who, after taking their degrees at Oxford or Cambridge, or breaking away from those classic bounds ungraduated, entered the Inns of Court, according to the custom of their day and their condition. They wrote plays in Latin, and even in English, for themselves to act; and they got the professional players to act popular plays for them on festal days. What more natural, then, than that those who had the ability and the need should seek to recruit their slender means by supplying the constant demand for new plays? and how inevitable that some of them, having been successful in their dramatic efforts, should give themselves up to play-writing! As do the great, so will the small. What the Inns-of-Court man did, the attorney would try to do. The players, though they loved the patronage of a lord, were very democratic in the matter of play-making. If a play filled the house, they did not trouble themselves about the social or professional rank of him who wrote it; and thus came about that “common practice” for “shifting companions” to “leave the trade of Noverint” and “busy themselves with the endeavors of art”; and hence it is that the plays of the period of which we are writing have, in many passages, so strong a tinge of law.

[Footnote E: It seems clear, on the contrary, that Nash’s object was to sneer at Jasper Heywood, Alexander Nevil, John Studley, Thomas Nuce, and Thomas Newton,–one or more of them,–whose _Seneca, his Tenne Tragedies translated into Englysh_, was published in 1581. It is a very grievous performance; and Shakespeare, who had read it thoroughly, made sport of it in _A Midsummer Night’s Dream._]

One reason for the regarding of Nash’s sneer as especially directed against Shakespeare is the occurrence in it of the phrase, “whole _Hamlets_,–I should say, handfuls of tragical speeches,” which has been looked upon as an allusion to Shakespeare’s great tragedy. But the earliest edition of “Hamlet” known was published in 1603, and even this is an imperfect and surreptitiously obtained copy of an early sketch of the play. That Shakespeare had written this tragedy in 1586, when he was but twenty-two years old, is improbable to the verge of impossibility; and Nash’s allusion, if, indeed, he meant a punning sneer at a play, (which is not certain.) was, doubtless, to an old lost version of the Danish tragedy upon which Shakespeare built his “Hamlet.”

We have, then, direct contemporary testimony, that, at the period of Shakespeare’s entrance upon London life, it was a common practice for those lawyers whom want of success or an unstable disposition impelled to a change in their avocation to devote themselves to writing or translating plays; and this statement is not only sustained by all that we know of the customs of the time to which it refers, but is strongly confirmed by the notably frequent occurrence of legal phrases in the dramatic literature of that age.

But the question, then, arises,–and it is one which, under the circumstances, must be answered,–To what must we attribute the fact, that, of all the plays that have come down to us, written between 1580 and 1620, Shakespeare’s are most noteworthy in this respect? For it is true, that, among all the dramatic writers of that period, whose works have survived, not one uses the phraseology of the law with the frequency, the freedom, and the correctness of Shakespeare. Beaumont, for instance, was a younger son of a Judge of the Common Pleas, and, following the common routine that we have noticed, after leaving the University, became an Inns-of-Court man, but soon abandoned law for literature; his friend and associate, Fletcher, was the son of a bishop, but had an uncle who was a lawyer and a diplomatist, and is himself believed to have been of the Inns of Court. Rich gleanings of law-terms might, therefore, be expected from the plays written by these dramatists; yet it may safely be asserted, that from Shakespeare’s thirty-seven plays at least twice as many passages marked by legal phraseology might be produced, as from the fifty-four written by Beaumont and Fletcher, together or alone! a fact the great significance of which is heightened by another,–that it is only the vocabulary of the law to the use of which Shakespeare exhibits this proclivity. He avails himself, it is true, of the peculiar language of the physician, the divine, the husbandman, the soldier, and the sailor; but he uses these only on very rare occasions, by way of description, comparison, or illustration, when something in the scene or the subject in hand suggests them. But the technical language of the law runs from his pen as part of his vocabulary and parcel of his thought. The word “purchase,” for instance, which in ordinary use means to acquire by giving value, in law applies to all legal modes of obtaining property, except inheritance of descent. And the word in this peculiar and most technical sense occurs five times in Shakespeare’s thirty-seven plays, but only in a single passage (if our memory and Mr. Dyce’s notes serve us) in the fifty-four plays of Beaumont and Fletcher. Equal, or greater, is the comparative frequency with which Shakespeare uses other legal phrases; and much wider is the disparity, in this regard, between him and the other dramatic writers of his whole period,–Marlowe, Greene, Peele, Kyd, Lilly, Chapman, Jonson, Middleton, Marston, Ford, Webster, Massinger, and the undistinguished crowd.

These facts dispose in great measure of the plausible suggestion, which has been made,–that, as the courts of law in Shakespeare’s time occupied public attention much more than they do at present, they having then regulated “the season,” as the sittings of Parliament (not then frequent or stated) do now,[F] they would naturally be frequented by the restless, inquiring spirits of the time, Shakespeare among them, and that there he and his fellow-dramatists picked up the law-phrases which they wove into their plays and poems. But if this view of the case were the correct one, we should not find that disparity in the use of legal phrases which we have just remarked. Shakespeare’s genius would manifest itself in the superior effect with which he used knowledge acquired in this manner; but his _genius_ would not have led him to choose the dry and affected phraseology of the law as the vehicle of his flowing thought, and to use it so much oftener than any other of the numerous dramatists of his time, to all of whom the courts were as open as to him. And the suggestion which we are now considering fails in two other most important respects. For we do not find either that Shakespeare’s use of legal phrases increased with his opportunities of frequenting the courts of law, or that the law-phrases, his use of which is most noteworthy and of most importance in the consideration of the question before us, are those which he would have heard oftenest in the course of the ordinary business of the courts in his day. To look at the latter point first,–the law-terms used by Shakespeare are generally not those which he would have heard in ordinary trials at _nisi prius_ or before the King’s Bench, but such as refer to the tenure or transfer of real property, “fine and recovery,” “statutes,” “purchase,” “indenture,” “tenure,” “double voucher,” “fee simple,” “fee farm,” “remainder,” “reversion,” “dower,” “forfeiture,” etc., etc.; and it is important to remember that suits about the title to real estate are very much rarer in England than they are with us, and in England were very much rarer in Shakespeare’s time than they are now. Here we buy and sell houses and lands almost as we trade in corn and cotton; but in England the transfer of the title of a piece of real estate of any consequence is a serious and comparatively rare occurrence, that makes great work for attorneys and conveyancing counsel; and two hundred and fifty years ago the facilities in this respect were very much less than they are now. Shakespeare could hardly have picked up his conveyancer’s jargon by hanging round the courts of law; and we find,–to return to the first objection,–that, in his early plays, written just after he arrived in London, he uses this peculiar phraseology just as freely and with as exact a knowledge as he displayed in after years, when (on the supposition in question) he must have become much more familiar with it. Shakespeare’s earliest work that has reached us is, doubtless, to be found in “King Henry the Sixth,” “The Comedy of Errors,” and “Love’s Labor’s Lost.” In the very earliest form of Part II. of the first-named play, (“The First Part of the Contention betwixt the two Houses of York and Lancaster,” to which Shakespeare was doubtless a contributor, the part of Cade being among his contributions,) we find him making Cade declare, (Act iv. Sc. 7,) “Men shall hold of me _in capite_; and we charge and command that wives be _as free as heart can wish or tongue can tell_.” Both the phrases that we have Italicized express tenures, and very uncommon tenures of land. In the “Comedy of Errors,” when Dromio of Syracuse says, “There’s no time for a man to recover his hair that grows bald by nature,” [Hear, O Rowland! and give ear, O Phalon!] his master replies, “May he not do it by _fine and recovery?_” Fine and recovery was a process by which, through a fictitious suit, a transfer was made of the title in an entailed estate. In “Love’s Labor’s Lost,” almost without a doubt the first comedy that Shakespeare wrote, on Boyet’s offering to kiss Maria, (Act ii. Sc. 1,) she declines the salute, and says, “My lips are no common, though several they be.” This passage–an important one for his purpose–Lord Campbell has passed by, as he has some others of nearly equal consequence. Maria’s allusion is plainly to tenancy in common by several (i.e., divided, distinct) title. (See Coke upon Littleton, Lib. iii. Cap. iv. Sec. 292.) She means, that her lips are several as being two, and (as she says in the next line) as belonging in common to her fortunes and herself,–yet they were no common pasture.

[Footnote F: Falstaff, for instance, speaks of “the wearing out of six fashions, which is four terms or two actions.”]

Here, then, is Shakespeare using the technical language of conveyancers in his earliest works, and before he had had much opportunity to haunt the courts of law in London, even could he have made such legal acquirements in those schools. We find, too, that he uses law-terms in general with frequency notably greater–in an excess of three or four to one–than any of the other playwrights of his day, when so many playwrights were or had been Noverints or of the Inns of Court; that this excess is not observable with regard to his use of the vocabulary peculiar to any other occupation or profession, even that of the actor, which we know that he practised for many years; but that, on the contrary, although he uses other technical language correctly, he avails himself of that of any single art of occupation with great rarity, and only upon special occasions. Lord Campbell remarks, as to the correctness with which Shakespeare uses legal phrases,–and this is a point upon which his Lordship speaks with authority,–that he is amazed “by the accuracy and propriety with which they are introduced,” and in another place adds, that Shakespeare “uniformly lays down good law”; and it is not necessary to be a Chief Justice of the Queen’s Bench to know that his Lordship is fully justified in assuring us that “there is nothing [of the kind (?)] so dangerous as for one not of the craft to tamper with our free-masonry.” Remembering, then, that genius, though it reveals general and even particular truths, and facilitates all acquirement, does not impart facts or the knowledge of technical terms, in what manner can we answer or set aside the question that we have partly stated before,–How did it happen, that, in an age when it was a common practice for young attorneys and barristers to leave their profession and take to writing plays and poems, one playwright left upon his works a stronger, clearer, sharper legal stamp than we can detect upon those of any other, and that he used the very peculiar and, to a layman, incomprehensible language of the law of real property, as it then existed, in his very earliest plays, written soon after he, a raw, rustic youth, bred in a retired village, arrived in London? How did it happen that this playwright fell into the use of that technical phraseology, the proper employment of which, more than any other, demands special training, and that he availed himself of it with apparent unconsciousness, not only so much oftener than any of his contemporaries, but with such exact knowledge, that one who has passed a long life in the professional employment of it, speaking as it were officially from the eminent position which he has won,–Lord Campbell,–declares, that,

“While novelists and dramatists are constantly making mistakes as to the law of marriage, of wills, and of inheritance, to Shakespeare’s law, lavishly as he propounds it, there can neither be demurrer, nor bill of exceptions, nor writ of error”?

Must we believe, that the man, who, among all the lawyer-playwrights of his day, showed,–not, be it noticed, (as we are at present regarding his works,) the profoundest knowledge of the great principles of law and equity, although he did that too,–but the most complete mastery of the technical phrases, the jargon, of the law and of its most abstruse branch,–that relating to real estate,–and who used it very much the oftenest of them all, and with an air of as entire unconsciousness as if it were a part of the language of his daily life, making no mistakes that can be detected by a learned professional critic,–must we believe that this man was distinguished among those play-writing lawyers, not only by his genius, but his _lack_ of particular acquaintance with the law? Or shall we rather believe that the son of the High Bailiff of Stratford, whose father was well-to-do in the world, and who was a somewhat clever lad and ambitious withal, was allowed to commence his studies for a profession for which his cleverness fitted him and by which he might reasonably hope to rise at least to moderate wealth and distinction, and that he continued these studies until his father’s loss of property, aided, perhaps, by some of those acts of youthful indiscretion which clever lads as well as dull ones sometimes will commit, threw him upon his own resources,–and that then, having townsmen, perhaps fellow-students and playfellows, among the actors in London, and having used his pen, as we may be sure he had, for other purposes than engrossing and drawing precedents, he, like so many others of his time, left his trade of Noverint and went up to the metropolis to busy himself with endeavors of art? One of these conclusions is in the face of reason, probability, and fact; the other in accordance with them all.

* * * * *

But of how little real importance is it to establish the bare fact, that Shakespeare was an attorney’s clerk before he was an actor! Suppose it proved, beyond a doubt,–what have we learned? Nothing peculiar to Shakespeare; but merely what was equally true of thousands of other young men, his contemporaries, and hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of those of antecedent and succeeding generations. It has a naked material relation to the other fact, that he uses legal phrases oftener than any other dramatist or poet; but with his plastic power over those grotesque and rugged modes of speech it has nought to do whatever. That was his inborn mastery. Legal phrases did nothing for him; but he much for them. Chance cast their uncouth forms around him, and the golden overflow from the furnace of his glowing thought fell upon them, glorifying and enshielding them forever. It would have been the same with the lumber of any other craft; it was the same with that of many others,–the difference being only of quantity, and not of kind. How, then, would the certainty that he had been bred to the law help us to the knowledge of Shakespeare’s life, of what he did for himself, thought for himself, how he joyed, how he suffered, what he was? Would it help us to know what the Stratford boys thought of him and felt toward him who was to write “Lear” and “Hamlet,” or how the men of London regarded him who was a-writing them? Not a whit. To prove the fact would merely satisfy sheer aimless, fruitless curiosity; and it is a source of some reasonable satisfaction to know that the very people who would be most interested in the perusal of a biography of Shakespeare made up of the relation of such facts are they who have least right to know anything about him. Of the hundreds of thousands of people who giggled through their senseless hour at the “American Cousin,”–a play which, in language, in action, in character, presents no semblance to human life or human creatures, as they are found on any spot under the canopy, and which seems to have been written on the model of the Interlude of “Pyramus and Thisbe,” “for, in all the play, there is not one word apt, one player fitted,”–of the people to whom this play owed its monstrous success, and who, for that very reason, it is safe to say, think Shakespeare a bore on the stage and off it, a goodly number would eagerly buy and read a book that told them when he went to bed and what he had for breakfast, and would pay a ready five-cent piece for a picture of him as he appeared in the attorney’s office, to preserve as a companion to the equally veritable “portrait of the Hon. Daniel E. Sickles, as he appeared in prison.” Nay, it must be confessed, that there are some Shakespearean enthusiasts ever dabbling and gabbling about what they call Shakespeariana, who would give more for the pen with which he engrossed a deed or wrote “Hamlet,” than for the ability to understand, better than they do or ever can, what he meant by that mysterious tragedy. Biography has its charms and its uses; but it is not by what we know of their bare external facts that

“Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And departing leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time.”

What the readers of Shakespeare, who are worthy to know aught of him, long to know, would have been the same, had he been bred lawyer, physician, soldier, or sailor. It is of his real life, not of its mere accidents, that they crave a knowledge; and of that life, it is to be feared, they will remain forever ignorant, unless he himself has written it.




We suppose the heroine of a novel, among other privileges and immunities, has a prescriptive right to her own private boudoir, where, as a French writer has it, “she appears like a lovely picture in its frame.”

Well, our little Mary is not without this luxury, and to its sacred precincts we will give you this morning a ticket of admission. Know, then, that the garret of this gambrel-roofed cottage had a projecting window on the seaward side, which opened into an immensely large old apple-tree, and was a look-out as leafy and secluded as a robin’s nest.

Garrets are delicious places in any case, for people of thoughtful, imaginative temperament. Who has not loved a garret in the twilight days of childhood, with its endless stores of quaint, cast-off, suggestive antiquity,–old worm-eaten chests,–rickety chairs,–boxes and casks full of odd comminglings, out of which, with tiny, childish hands, we fished wonderful hoards of fairy treasure? What peep-holes, and hiding-places, and undiscoverable retreats we made to ourselves,–where we sat rejoicing in our security, and bidding defiance to the vague, distant cry which summoned us to school, or to some unsavory every-day task! How deliciously the rain came pattering on the roof over our head, or the red twilight streamed in at the window, while we sat snugly ensconced over the delirious pages of some romance, which careful aunts had packed away at the bottom of all things, to be sure we should never read it! If you have anything, beloved friends, which you wish your Charley or your Susie to be sure and read, pack it mysteriously away at the bottom of a trunk of stimulating rubbish, in the darkest corner of your garret;–in that case, if the book be at all readable, one that by any possible chance can make its way into a young mind, you may be sure that it will not only be read, but remembered to the longest day they have to live.

Mrs. Katy Scudder’s garret was not an exception to the general rule. Those quaint little people who touch with so airy a grace all the lights and shadows of great beams, bare rafters, and unplastered walls, had not failed in their work there. Was there not there a grand easy-chair of stamped-leather, minus two of its hinder legs, which had genealogical associations through the Wilcoxes with the Vernons and through the Vernons quite across the water with Old England? and was there not a dusky picture, in an old tarnished frame, of a woman of whose tragic end strange stories were whispered,–one of the sufferers in the time when witches were unceremoniously helped out of the world, instead of being, as now-a-days, helped to make their fortune in it by table-turning?

Yes, there were all these things, and many more which we will not stay to recount, but bring you to the boudoir which Mary has constructed for herself around the dormer-window which looks into the whispering old apple-tree.

The inclosure was formed by blankets and bed-spreads, which, by reason of their antiquity, had been pensioned off to an undisturbed old age in the garret,–not _common_ blankets or bed-spreads, either,–bought, as you buy yours, out of a shop,–spun or woven by machinery, without individuality or history. Every one of these curtains had its story. The one on the right, nearest the window, and already falling into holes, is a Chinese linen, and even now displays unfaded, quaint patterns of sleepy-looking Chinamen, in conical hats, standing on the leaves of most singular herbage, and with hands forever raised in act to strike bells, which never are struck and never–will be till the end of time. These, Mrs. Katy Scudder had often instructed Mary, were brought from the Indies by her great-great-grandfather, and were her grandmother’s wedding-curtains,–the grandmother who had blue eyes like hers and was just about her height.

The next spread was spun and woven by Mrs. Katy’s beloved Aunt Eunice,–a mythical personage, of whom Mary gathered vague accounts that she was disappointed in love, and that this very article was part of a bridal outfit, prepared in vain, against the return of one from sea, who never came back,–and she heard of how she sat wearily and patiently at her work, this poor Aunt Eunice, month after month, starting every time she heard the gate shut, every time she heard the tramp of a horse’s hoof, every time she heard the news of a sail in sight,–her color, meanwhile, fading and fading as life and hope bled away at an inward wound,–till at last she found comfort and reunion beyond the veil.

Next to this was a bed-quilt pieced in tiny blocks, none of them bigger than a sixpence, containing, as Mrs. Katy said, pieces of the gowns of all her grandmothers, aunts, cousins, and female relatives for years back,–and mated to it was one of the blankets which had served Mrs. Scudder’s uncle in his bivouac at Valley Forge, when the American soldiers went on the snows with bleeding feet, and had scarce anything for daily bread except a morning message of patriotism and hope from George Washington.

Such were the memories woven into the tapestry of our little boudoir. Within, fronting the window, stands the large spinning-wheel, one end adorned with a snowy pile of fleecy rolls,–and beside it, a reel and a basket of skeins of yarn,–and open, with its face down on the beam of the wheel, lay always a book, with which the intervals of work were beguiled.

The dusky picture of which we have spoken hung against the rough wall in one place, and in another appeared an old engraved head of one of the Madonnas of Leonardo da Vinci, a picture which to Mary had a mysterious interest, from the fact of its having been cast on shore after a furious storm, and found like a waif lying in the sea-weed; and Mrs. Marvyn, who had deciphered the signature, had not ceased exploring till she found for her, in an Encyclopaedia, a life of that wonderful man, whose greatness enlarges our ideas of what is possible to humanity,–and Mary, pondering thereon, felt the Sea-worn picture as a constant vague inspiration.

Here our heroine spun for hours and hours,–with intervals, when, crouched on a low seat in the window, she pored over her book, and then, returning again to her work, thought of what she had read to the lulling burr of the sounding wheel.

By chance a robin had built its nest so that from her retreat she could see the five little blue eggs, whenever the patient brooding mother left them for a moment uncovered. And sometimes, as she sat in dreamy reverie, resting her small, round arms on the window-sill, she fancied that the little feathered watcher gave her familiar nods and winks of a confidential nature,–cocking the small head first to one side and then to the other, to get a better view of her gentle human neighbor.

I dare say it seems to you, reader, that we have travelled, in our story, over a long space of time, because we have talked so much and introduced so many personages and reflections; but, in fact, it is only Wednesday week since James sailed, and the eggs which were brooded when he went are still unhatched in the nest, and the apple-tree has changed only in having now a majority of white blossoms over the pink buds.

This one week has been a critical one to our Mary;–in it, she has made the great discovery, that she loves; and she has made her first step into the gay world; and now she comes back to her retirement to think the whole over by herself. It seems a dream to her, that she who sits there now reeling yarn in her stuff petticoat and white short-gown is the same who took the arm of Colonel Burr amid the blaze of wax-lights and the sweep of silks and rustle of plumes. She wonders dreamily as she remembers the dark, lovely face of the foreign Madame, so brilliant under its powdered hair and flashing gems,–the sweet, foreign accents of the voice,–the tiny, jewelled fan, with its glancing pictures and sparkling tassels, whence exhaled vague and floating perfumes; then she hears again that manly voice, softened to tones so seductive, and sees those fine eyes with the tears in them, and wonders within herself that _he_ could have kissed her hand with such veneration, as if she had been a throned queen.

But here the sound of busy, pattering footsteps is heard on the old, creaking staircase, and soon the bows of Miss Prissy’s bonnet part the folds of the boudoir drapery, and her merry, May-day face looks in.

“Well, really, Mary, how do you do, to be sure? You wonder to see me, don’t you? but I thought I must just run in, a minute, on my way up to Miss Marvyn’s. I promised her at least a half-a-day, though I didn’t see how I was to spare it,–for I tell Miss Wilcox I just run and run till it does seem as if my feet would drop off; but I thought I must just step in to say, that I, for my part, _do admire_ the Doctor more than ever, and I was telling your mother we mus’n’t mind too much what people say. I ‘most made Miss Wilcox angry, standing up for him; but I put it right to her, and says I, ‘Miss Wilcox, you know folks _must_ speak what’s on their mind,–in particular, ministers must; and you know, Miss Wilcox,’ I says, ‘that the Doctor _is_ a good man, and lives up to his teaching, if anybody in this world does, and gives away every dollar he can lay hands on to those poor negroes, and works over ’em and teaches ’em as if they were his brothers’; and says I, ‘Miss Wilcox, you know I don’t spare myself, night nor day, trying to please you and do your work to give satisfaction; but when it comes to my conscience,’ says I, ‘Miss Wilcox, you know I always must speak out, and if it was the last word I had to say on my dying bed, I’d say that I think the Doctor is right.’ Why! what things he told about the slave-ships, and packing those poor creatures so that they couldn’t move nor breathe!–why, I declare, every time I turned over and stretched in bed, I thought of it;–and says I, ‘Miss Wilcox, I do believe that the judgments of God will come down on us, if something a’n’t done, and I shall always stand by the Doctor,’ says I;–and, if you’ll believe me, just then I turned round and saw the General; and the General, he just haw-hawed right out, and says he, ‘Good for you, Miss Prissy! that’s real grit,’ says he, ‘and I like you better for it.’–Laws,” added Miss Prissy, reflectively, “I sha’n’t lose by it, for Miss Wilcox knows she never can get anybody to do the work for her that I will.”

“Do you think,” said Mary, “that there are a great many made angry?”

“Why, bless your heart, child, haven’t you heard?–Why, there never was such a talk in all Newport. Why, you know Mr. Simeon Brown is gone clear off to Dr. Stiles; and Miss Brown, I was making up her plum-colored satin o’ Monday, and you ought to ‘a’heard her talk. But, I tell you, I fought her. She used to talk to me,” said Miss Prissy, sinking her voice to a mysterious whisper, “’cause I never could come to it to say that I was willin’ to be lost, if it was for the glory of God; and she always told me folks could just bring their minds right up to anything they knew they must; and I just got the tables turned on her, for they talked and abused the Doctor till they fairly wore me out, and says I, ‘Well, Miss Brown, I’ll give in, that you and Mr. Brown _do_ act up to your principles; you certainly _act_ as if you were willing to be damned’;–and so do all those folks who will live on the blood and groans of the poor Africans, as the Doctor said; and I should think, by the way Newport people are making their money, that they were all pretty willing to go that way,–though, whether it’s for the glory of God, or not, I’m doubting.–But you see, Mary,” said Miss Prissy, sinking her voice again to a solemn whisper, “I never was _clear_ on that point; it always did seem to me a dreadful high place to come to, and it didn’t seem to be given to me; but I thought, perhaps, if it _was_ necessary, it would be given, you know,–for the Lord always has been so good to me that I’ve faith to believe that, and so I just say, ‘The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want'”;–and Miss Prissy hastily whisked a little drop out of her blue eye with her handkerchief.

At this moment, Mrs. Scudder came into the boudoir with a face expressive of some anxiety.

“I suppose Miss Prissy has told you,” she said, “the news about the Browns. That’ll make a great falling off in the Doctor’s salary; and I feel for him, because I know it will come hard to him not to be able to help and do, especially for these poor negroes, just when he will. But then we must put everything on the most economical scale we can, and just try, all of us, to make it up to him. I was speaking to Cousin Zebedee about it, when he was down here, on Monday, and he is all clear;–he has made out free papers for Candace and Cato and Dinah, and they couldn’t, one of ’em, be hired to leave him; and he says, from what he’s seen already, he has no doubt but they’ll do enough more to pay for their wages.”

“Well,” said Miss Prissy, “I haven’t got anybody to care for but myself. I was telling sister Elizabeth, one time, (she’s married and got four children,) that I could take a storm a good deal easier than she could, ’cause I hadn’t near so many sails to pull down; and now, you just look to me for the Doctor’s shirts, ’cause, after this, they shall all come in ready to put on, if I have to sit up till morning. And I hope, Miss Scudder, you can trust me to make them; for if I do say it myself, I a’n’t afraid to do fine stitching ‘longside of anybody,–and hemstitching ruffles, too; and I haven’t shown you yet that French stitch I learned of the nuns;–but you just set your heart at rest about the Doctor’s shirts. I always thought,” continued Miss Prissy, laughing, “that I should have made a famous hand about getting up that tabernacle in the wilderness, with the blue and the purple and fine-twined linen; it’s one of my favorite passages, that is;–different things, you know, are useful to different people.”

“Well,” said Mrs. Scudder, “I see that it’s our call to be a remnant small and despised, but I hope we sha’n’t shrink from it. I thought, when I saw all those fashionable people go out Sunday, tossing their heads and looking so scornful, that I hoped grace would be given me to be faithful.”

“And what does the Doctor say?” said Miss Prissy.

“He hasn’t said a word; his mind seems to be very much lifted above all these things.”

“La, yes,” said Miss Prissy, “that’s one comfort; he’ll never know where his shirts come from; and besides that, Miss Scudder,” she said, sinking her voice to a whisper, “as you know, I haven’t any children to provide for,–though I was telling Elizabeth t’other day, when I was making up frocks for her children, that I believed old maids, first and last, did more providing for children than married women; but still I do contrive to slip away a pound-note, now and then, in my little old silver teapot that was given to me when they settled old Mrs. Simpson’s property, (I nursed her all through her last sickness, and laid her out with my own hands,) and, as I was saying, if ever the Doctor should want money, you just let me know.”

“Thank you, Miss Prissy,” said Mrs. Scudder; “we all know where your heart is.”

“And now,” added Miss Prissy, “what do you suppose they say? Why, they say Colonel Burr is struck dead in love with our Mary; and you know his wife’s dead, and he’s a widower; and they do say that he’ll get to be the next President. Sakes alive! Well, Mary must be careful, if she don’t want to be carried off; for they do say that there can’t any woman resist him, that sees enough of him. Why, there’s that poor French woman, Madame—-what do you call her, that’s staying with the Vernons?–they say she’s over head and ears in love with him.”

“But she’s a married woman,” said Mary; “it can’t be possible!”

Mrs. Scudder looked reprovingly at Miss Prissy, and for a few moments there was great shaking of heads and a whispered conference between the two ladies, ending in Miss Prissy’s going off, saying, as she went down-stairs,–

“Well, if women will do so, I, for my part, can’t blame the men.”

In a few moments Miss Prissy rushed back as much discomposed as a clucking hen who has seen a hawk.

“Well, Miss Scudder, what do you think? Here’s Colonel Burr come to call on the ladies!”

Mrs. Scudder’s first movement, in common with all middle-aged gentlewomen, was to put her hand to her head and reflect that she had not on her best cap; and Mary looked down at her dimpled hands, which were blue from the contact with mixed yarn she had just been spinning.

“Now I’ll tell you what,” said Miss Prissy,–“wasn’t it lucky you had me here? for I first saw him coming in at the gate, and I whipped in quick as a wink and opened the best-room window-shutters, and then I was back at the door, and he bowed to me as if I’d been a queen, and says he, ‘Miss Prissy, how fresh you’re looking this morning!’ You see, I was in working at the Vernons’, but I never thought as he’d noticed me. And then he inquired in the handsomest way for the ladies and the Doctor, and so I took him into the parlor and settled him down, and then I ran into the study, and you may depend upon it I flew round lively for a few minutes. I got the Doctor’s study-gown off, and got his best coat on, and put on his wig for him, and started him up kinder lively,–you know it takes me to get him down into this world,–and so there he’s in talking with him; and so you can just slip down and dress yourselves,–easy as not.”

Meanwhile Colonel Burr was entertaining the simple-minded Doctor with all the grace of a young neophyte come to sit at the feet of superior truth. There are some people who receive from Nature as a gift a sort of graceful facility of sympathy, by which they incline to take on, for the time being, the sentiments and opinions of those with whom they converse, as the chameleon was fabled to change its hue with every surrounding. Such are often supposed to be wilfully acting a part, as exerting themselves to flatter and deceive, when in fact they are only framed so sensitive to the sphere of mental emanation which surrounds others that it would require an exertion not in some measure to harmonize with it. In approaching others in conversation, they are like a musician who joins a performer on an instrument,–it is impossible for them to strike a discord; their very nature urges them to bring into play faculties according in vibration with those which another is exerting. It was as natural as possible for Burr to commence talking with the Doctor on scenes and incidents in the family of President Edwards, and his old tutor, Dr. Bellamy,–and thence to glide on to the points of difference and agreement in theology, with a suavity and deference which acted on the good man like a June sun on a budding elm-tree. The Doctor was soon wide awake, talking with fervent animation on the topic of disinterested benevolence,–Burr the mean while studying him with the quiet interest of an observer of natural history, who sees a new species developing before him. At all the best possible points he interposed suggestive questions, and set up objections in the quietest manner for the Doctor to knock down, smiling ever the while as a man may who truly and genuinely does not care a you for truth on any subject not practically connected with his own schemes in life. He therefore gently guided the Doctor to sail down the stream of his own thoughts till his bark glided out into the smooth waters of the Millennium, on which, with great simplicity, he gave his views at length.

It was just in the midst of this that Mary and her mother entered. Burr interrupted the conversation to pay them the compliments of the morning,–to inquire for their health, and hope they suffered no inconvenience from their night-ride from the party; then, seeing the Doctor still looking eager to go on, he contrived with gentle dexterity to tie again the broken thread of conversation.

“Our excellent friend,” he said, “was explaining to me his views of a future Millennium. I assure you, ladies, that we sometimes find ourselves in company which enables us to believe in the perfectibility of the human species. We see family retreats, so unaffected, so charming in their simplicity, where industry and piety so go hand in hand! One has only to suppose all families such, to imagine a Millennium.”

There was no disclaiming this compliment, because so delicately worded, that, while perfectly clear to the internal sense, it was, in a manner, veiled and unspoken.

Meanwhile, the Doctor, who sat ready to begin where he left off, turned to his complaisant listener and resumed an exposition of the Apocalypse.

“To my mind, it is certain,” he said, “as it is now three hundred years since the fifth vial was poured out, there is good reason to suppose that the sixth vial began to be poured out at the beginning of the last century, and has been running for a hundred years or more, so that it is run nearly out; the seventh and last vial will begin to run early in the next century.”

“You anticipate, then, no rest for the world for some time to come?” said Burr.

“Certainly not,” said the Doctor, definitively; “there will be no rest from overturnings till He whose right it is shall come.

“The passage,” he added, “concerning the drying up of the river Euphrates, under the sixth vial, has a distinct reference, I think, to the account in ancient writers of the taking of Babylon, and prefigures, in like manner, that the resources of that modern Babylon, the Popish power, shall continue to be drained off, as they have now been drying up for a century or more, till, at last, there will come a sudden and final downfall of that power. And after that will come the first triumphs of truth and righteousness,–the marriage-supper of the Lamb.”

“These investigations must undoubtedly possess a deep interest for you. Sir,” said Burr; “the hope of a future as well as the tradition of a past age of gold seems to have been one of the most cherished conceptions of the human breast.”

“In those times,” continued the Doctor, “the whole earth will be of one language.”

“Which language, Sir, do you suppose will be considered worthy of such preeminence?” inquired his listener.

“That will probably be decided by an amicable conference of all nations,” said the Doctor; “and the one universally considered most valuable will be adopted; and the literature of all other nations being translated into it, they will gradually drop all other tongues. Brother Stiles thinks it will be the Hebrew. I am not clear on that point. The Hebrew seems to me too inflexible, and not sufficiently copious. I do not think,” he added, after some consideration, “that it will be the Hebrew tongue.”

“I am most happy to hear it, Sir,” said Burr, gravely; “I never felt much attracted to that language. But, ladies,” he added, starting up with animation, “I must improve this fine weather to ask you to show me the view of the sea from this little hill beyond your house, it is evidently so fine;–I trust I am not intruding too far on your morning?”

“By no means, Sir,” said Mrs. Scudder, rising; “we will go with you in a moment.”

And soon Colonel Burr, with one on either arm, was to be seen on the top of the hill beyond the house,–the very one from which Mary, the week before, had seen the retreating sail we all wot of. Hence, though her companion contrived, with the adroitness of a practised man of gallantry, to direct his words and looks as constantly to her as if they had been in a _tete-a-tete_, and although nothing could be more graceful, more delicately flattering, more engaging, still the little heart kept equal poise; for where a true love has once bolted the door, a false one serenades in vain under the window.

Some fine, instinctive perceptions of the real character of the man beside her seemed to have dawned on Mary’s mind in the conversation of the morning;–she had felt the covert and subtile irony that lurked beneath his polished smile, felt the utter want of faith or sympathy in what she and her revered friend deemed holiest, and therefore there was a calm dignity in her manner of receiving his attentions which rather piqued and stimulated his curiosity. He had been wont to boast that he could subdue any woman, if he could only see enough of her; in the first interview in the garden, he had made her color come and go and brought tears to her eyes in a manner that interested his fancy, and he could not resist the impulse to experiment again. It was a new sensation to him, to find himself quietly studied and calmly measured by those thoughtful blue eyes; he felt, with his fine, instinctive tact, that the soul within was infolded in some crystalline sphere of protection, transparent, but adamantine, so that he could not touch it. What was that secret poise, that calm, immutable centre on which she rested, that made her, in her rustic simplicity, so unapproachable and so strong?

Burr remembered once finding in his grandfather’s study, among a mass of old letters, one in which that great man, in early youth, described his future wife, then known to him only by distant report. With his keen natural sense of everything fine and poetic, he had been struck with this passage, as so beautifully expressing an ideal womanhood, that he had in his earlier days copied it in his private _recueil_.

“They say,” it ran, “that there is a young lady who is beloved of that Great Being who made and rules the world, and that there are certain seasons in which this Great Being, in some way or other invisible, comes to her and fills her mind with such exceeding sweet delight, that she hardly cares for anything except to meditate on him; that she expects, after a while, to be received up where he is, to be raised up out of the world and caught up into heaven, being assured that he loves her too well to let her remain at a distance from him always. Therefore, if you present all the world before her, with the richest of its treasures, she disregards it. She has a strange sweetness in her mind, and singular purity in her affections; and you could not persuade her to do anything wrong or sinful, if you should give her all the world. She is of a wonderful sweetness, calmness, and universal benevolence of mind, especially after this great God has manifested himself to her mind. She will sometimes go from place to place singing sweetly, and seems to be always full of joy and pleasure; and no one knows for what. She loves to be alone, walking in fields and groves, and seems to have some invisible one always conversing with her.”

A shadowy recollection of this description crossed his mind more than once, as he looked into those calm and candid eyes. Was there, then, a truth in that inner union of chosen souls with God, of which his mother and her mother before her had borne meek witness,–their souls shining out as sacred lamps through the alabaster walls of a temple?

But then, again, had he not logically met and demonstrated, to his own satisfaction, the nullity of the religious dogmas on which New England faith was based? There could be no such inner life, he said to himself,–he had demonstrated it as an absurdity. What was it, then,–this charm, so subtile and so strong, by which this fair child, his inferior in age, cultivation, and knowledge of the world, held him in a certain awe, and made him feel her spirit so unapproachable? His curiosity was piqued. He felt stimulated to employ all his powers of pleasing. He was determined, that, sooner or later, she should feel his power.

With Mrs. Scudder his success was immediate, she was completely won over by the deferential manner with which he constantly referred himself to her matronly judgments, and, on returning to the house, she warmly pressed him to stay to dinner.

Burr accepted the invitation with a frank and almost boyish _abandon_, declaring that he had not seen anything, for years, that so reminded him of old times. He praised everything at table,–the smoking brown-bread, the baked beans steaming from the oven, where they had been quietly simmering during the morning walk, and the Indian pudding, with its gelatinous softness, matured by long and patient brooding in the motherly old oven. He declared that there was no style of living to be compared with the simple, dignified order of a true New England home, where servants were excluded, and everything came direct from the polished and cultured hand of a lady. It realized the dreams of Arcadian romance. A man, he declared, must be unworthy the name, who did not rise to lofty sentiments and heroic deeds, when even his animal wants were provided for by the ministrations of the most delicate and exalted portion of the creation.

After dinner he would be taken into all the family interests. Gentle and pliable as oil, he seemed to penetrate every joint of the _menage_ by a subtile and seductive sympathy. He was interested in the spinning, in the weaving,–and in fact, nobody knows how it was done, but, before the afternoon shadows had turned, he was sitting in the cracked arm-chair of Mary’s garret-boudoir, gravely giving judgment on several specimens of her spinning, which Mrs. Scudder had presented to his notice.

With that ease with which he could at will glide into the character of the superior and elder brother, he had, without seeming to ask questions, drawn from Mary an account of her reading, her studies, her acquaintances.

“You read French, I presume?” he said to her, with easy negligence.

Mary colored deeply, and then, as one who recollects one’s self, answered, gravely,–

“No, Mr. Burr, I know no language but my own.”

“But you should learn French, my child,” said Burr, with that gentle dictatorship which he could at times so gracefully assume.

“I should be delighted to learn,” said Mary, “but have no opportunity.”

“Yes,” said Mrs. Scudder,–“Mary has always had a taste for study, and would be glad to improve in any way.”

“Pardon me, Madam, if I take the liberty of making a suggestion. There is a most excellent man, the Abbe Lefon, now in Newport, driven here by the political disturbances in France; he is anxious to obtain a few scholars, and I am interested that he should succeed, for he is a most worthy man.”

“Is he a Roman Catholic?”

“He is, Madam; but there could be no manner of danger with a person so admirably instructed as your daughter. If you please to see him, Madam, I will call with him some time.”

“Mrs. Marvyn will, perhaps, join me,” said Mary. “She has been studying French by herself for some time, in order to read a treatise on astronomy, which she found in that language. I will go over to-morrow and see her about it.”

Before Colonel Burr departed, the Doctor requested him to step a moment with him into his study. Burr, who had had frequent occasions during his life to experience the sort of paternal freedom which the clergy of his country took with him in right of his clerical descent, began to summon together his faculties of address for the avoidance of a kind of conversation which he was not disposed to meet. He was agreeably disappointed, however, when, taking a paper from the table, and presenting it to him, the Doctor said,–

“I feel myself, my dear Sir, under a burden of obligation for benefits received from your family, so that I never see a member of it without casting about in my own mind how I may in some measure express my good-will towards him. You are aware that the papers of your distinguished grandfather have fallen into my hands, and from them I have taken the liberty to make a copy of those maxims by which he guided a life which was a blessing to his country and to the world. May I ask the favor that you will read them with attention? and if you find anything contrary to right reason or sober sense, I shall be happy to hear of it on a future occasion.”

“Thank you, Doctor,” said Burr, bowing. “I shall always be sensible of the kindness of the motive which has led you to take this trouble on my account. Believe me, Sir, I am truly obliged to you for it.”

And thus the interview terminated.

That night, the Doctor, before retiring, offered fervent prayers for the grandson of his revered master and friend, praying that his father’s and mother’s God might bless him and make him a living stone in the Eternal Temple.

Meanwhile, the object of these prayers was sitting by a table in dressing-gown and slippers, thinking over the events of the day. The paper which Dr. H. had handed him contained the celebrated “Resolutions” by which his ancestor led a life nobler than any mere dogmas can possibly be. By its side lay a perfumed note from Madame de Frontignac,–one of those womanly notes, so beautiful, so sacred in themselves, but so mournful to a right-minded person who sees whither they are tending. Burr opened and perused it,–laid it by,–opened the document that the Doctor had given, and thoughtfully read the first of the “Resolutions”:–

“Resolved, That I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God’s glory, and my own good profit and pleasure _in the whole of my duration_, without any consideration of time, whether now or never so many myriad ages hence.

“Resolved, To do whatever I think to be my duty and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general.

“Resolved, To do this, whatsoever difficulties I meet with, and how many and how great soever.”

Burr read the whole paper through attentively once or twice, and paused thoughtfully over many parts of it. He sat for some time after, lost in reflection; the paper dropped from his hand, and then followed one of those long, deep seasons of fixed reverie, when the soul thinks by pictures and goes over endless distances in moments. In him, originally, every moral fatuity and sensibility was as keenly strung as in any member of that remarkable family from which he was descended, and which has, whether in good or ill, borne no common stamp. Two possible lives flashed before his mind at that moment, rapidly as when a train sweeps by with flashing lamps in the night. The life of worldly expediency, the life of eternal rectitude,–the life of seventy years, and that life eternal in which the event of death is no disturbance. Suddenly he roused himself, picked up the paper, filed and dated it carefully, and laid it by; and in that moment was renewed again that governing purpose which sealed him, with all his beautiful capabilities, as the slave of the fleeting and the temporary, which sent him at last, a shipwrecked man, to a nameless, dishonored grave.

He took his pen and gave to a friend his own views of the events of the day.

“Mr. DEAR,—-We are still in Newport, conjugating the verb _s’ennuyer_, which I, for one, have put through all the moods and tenses. _Pour passer le temps_, however, I have _la belle Francaise_ and my sweet little Puritan. I visited there this morning. She lives with her mother, a little walk out toward the seaside, in a cottage quite prettily sequestered among blossoming apple-trees, and the great hierarch of modern theology, Dr. H., keeps guard over them. No chance here for any indiscretions, you see.

“By-the-by, the good Doctor astonished our _monde_ here on Sunday last, by treating us to a solemn onslaught on slavery and the slave-trade. He had all the chief captains and counsellors to hear him, and smote them hip and thigh, and pursued them even unto Shur.

“He is one of those great, honest fellows, without the smallest notion of the world we live in, who think, in dealing with men, that you must go to work and prove the right or the wrong of a matter; just as if anybody cared for that! Supposing he is right,–which appears very probable to me,–what is he going to do about it? No moral argument, since the world began, ever prevailed over twenty-five per cent, profit.

“However, he is the spiritual director of _la belle Puritaine_, and was a resident in my grandfather’s family, so I did the agreeable with him as well as such an uncircumcised Ishmaelite could. I discoursed theology,–sat with the most docile air possible while he explained to me all the ins and outs in his system of the universe, past, present, and future,–heard him dilate calmly on the Millennium, and expound prophetic symbols, marching out before me his whole apocalyptic menagerie of beasts and dragons with heads and horns innumerable, to all which I gave edifying attention, taking occasion now and then to turn a compliment in favor of the ladies,–never lost, you know.

“Really, he is a worthy old soul, and actually believes all these things with his whole heart, attaching unheard-of importance to the most abstract ideas, and embarking his whole being in his ideal view of a grand Millennial _finale_ to the human race. I look at him and at myself, and ask, Can human beings be made so unlike?

“My little Mary to-day was in a mood of ‘sweet austere composure’ quite becoming to her style of beauty; her _naive nonchalance_ at times is rather stimulating. What a contrast between her and _la belle Francaise!_–all the difference that there is between a diamond and a flower. I find the little thing has a cultivated mind, enriched by reading, and more by a still, quaint habit of thinking, which is new and charming. But a truce to this.

“I have seen our friends at last. We have had three or four meetings, and are waiting to hear from Philadelphia,–matters are getting in train. If Messrs. T. and S. dare to repeat what they said again, let me know; they will find in me a man not to be trifled with. I shall be with you in a week or ten days, at farthest. Meanwhile stand to your guns.

“Ever yours,



The next morning, before the early dews had yet dried off the grass, Mary started to go and see her friend Mrs. Marvyn. It was one of those charming, invigorating days, familiar to those of Newport experience, when the sea lies shimmering and glittering in deep blue and gold, and the sky above is firm and cloudless, and every breeze that conies landward seems to bear health and energy upon its wings.

As Mary approached the house, she heard loud sounds of discussion from the open kitchen-door, and, looking in, saw a rather original scene acting.

Candace, armed with a long oven-shovel, stood before the open door of the oven, whence she had just been removing an army of good things which appeared ranged around on the dresser. Cato, in the undress of a red flannel shirt and tow-cloth trousers, was cuddled, in a consoled and protected attitude, in the corner of the wooden settle, with a mug of flip in his hand, which Candace had prepared, and, calling him in from his work, authoritatively ordered him to drink, on the showing that he had kept her awake the night before with his cough, and she was sure he was going to be sick. Of course, worse things may happen to a man than to be vigorously taken care of by his wife, and Cato had a salutary conviction of this fact, so that he resigned himself to his comfortable corner and his flip with edifying serenity.

Opposite to Candace stood a well-built, corpulent negro man, dressed with considerable care, and with the air of a person on excellent terms with himself. This was no other than Digo, the house-servant and factotum of Dr. Stiles, who considered himself as the guardian of his master’s estate, his title, his honor, his literary character, his professional position, and his religious creed.

Digo was ready to assert before all the world, that one and all of these were under his special protection, and that whoever had anything to say to the contrary of any of these must expect to take issue with him. Digo not only swallowed all his master’s opinions whole, but seemed to have the stomach of an ostrich in their digestion. He believed everything, no matter what, the moment he understood that the Doctor held it. He believed that Hebrew was the language of heaven,–that the ten tribes of the Jews had reappeared in the North American Indians,–that there was no such thing as disinterested benevolence, and that the doings of the unregenerate had some value,–that slavery was a divine ordinance, and that Dr. H. was a radical, who did more harm than good,–and, finally, that there never was so great a man as Dr. Stiles; and as Dr. Stiles belonged to him in the capacity of master, why, he, Digo, owned the greatest man in America. Of course, as Candace held precisely similar opinions in regard to Dr. H., the two never could meet without a discharge of the opposite electricities. Digo had, it is true, come ostensibly on a mere worldly errand from his mistress to Mrs. Marvyn, who had promised to send her some turkeys’ eggs, but he had inly resolved with himself that he would give Candace his opinion,–that is, what Dr. Stiles had said at dinner the day before about Doctor H.’s Sunday’s discourse. Dr. Stiles had not heard it, but Digo had. He had felt it due to the responsibilities of his position to be present on so very important an occasion.

Therefore, after receiving his eggs, he opened hostilities by remarking, in a general way, that he had attended the Doctor’s preaching on Sunday, and that there was quite a crowded house. Candace immediately began mentally to bristle her feathers like a hen who sees a hawk in the distance, and responded with decision:–

“Den you _heard_ sometin’, for once in your life!”

“I must say,” said Digo, with suavity, “dat I can’t give my ‘proval to such sentiments.”

“More shame for you,” said Candace, grimly. “_You_ a man, and not stan’ by your color, and flunk under to mean white ways! Ef you was _half_ a man, your heart would ‘a’ bounded like a cannon-ball at dat ar’ sermon.”

“Dr. Stiles and me we talked it over after church,” said Digo,–“and de Doctor was of my ‘pinion, dat Providence didn’t intend”—-

“Oh, you go long wid your Providence! Guess, ef white folks had let us alone, Providence wouldn’t trouble us.”

“Well,” said Digo, “Dr. Stiles is clear dat dis yer’s a-fulfillin’ de prophecies and bringin’ in de fulness of de Gentiles.”

“Fulness of de fiddlesticks!” said Candace, irreverently. “Now what a way dat ar’ is of talkin’! Go look at one o’ dem ships we come over in,–sweatin’ and groanin’,–in de dark and dirt,–cryin’ and dyin’,–howlin’ for breath till de sweat run off us,–livin’ and dead chained together,–prayin’ like de rich man in hell for a drop o’ water to cool our tongues! Call dat ar’ a-bringin’ de fulness of de Gentiles, do ye? Ugh!”

And Candace ended with a guttural howl, and stood frowning and gloomy over the top of her long kitchen-shovel, like a black Bellona leaning on her spear of battle.

Digo recoiled a little, but stood too well in his own esteem to give up; so he shifted his attack.

“Well, for my part, I must say I never was ‘clined to your Doctor’s ‘pinions. Why, now, Dr. Stiles says, notin’ couldn’t be more absurd dan what he says ’bout disinterested benevolence. _My_ Doctor says, dere a’n’t no such ting!”

“I should tink it’s likely!” said Candace, drawing herself up with superb disdain. “_Our_ Doctor knows dere _is_,–and why? ’cause he’s got it IN HERE,” said she, giving her ample chest a knock which resounded like the boom from a barrel.

“Candace,” said Cato, gently, “you’s gittin’ too hot.”

“Cato, you shut up!” said Candace, turning sharp round. “What did I make you dat ar’ flip for, ‘cept you was so hoarse you oughtn’ for to say a word? Pootty business, you go to agitatin’ _your_self wid dese yer! Ef you wear out your poor old throat talkin’, you may get de ‘sumption; and den what’d become o’ me?”

Cato, thus lovingly pitched _hors-de-combat_, sipped the sweetened cup in quietness of soul, while Candace returned to the charge.

“Now, I tell ye what,” she said to Digo,–“jest ’cause you wear your master’s old coats and hats, you tink you must go in for all dese yer old, mean, white ‘pinions. A’n’t ye ‘shamed–you, a black man–to have no more pluck and make cause wid de Egyptians? Now, ‘ta’n’t what my Doctor gives me,–he never giv’ me the snip of a finger-nail,–but it’s what he does for _mine;_ and when de poor critturs lands dar, tumbled out like bales on de wharves, ha’n’t dey seen his great cocked hat, like a lighthouse, and his big eyes lookin’ sort o’ pitiful at ’em, as ef he felt o’ one blood wid ’em? Why, de very looks of de man is worth everyting; and who ever thought o’ doin’ anyting for deir souls, or cared ef dey had souls, till he begun it?”

“Well, at any rate,” said Digo, brightening up, “I don’t believe his doctrine about de doings of de unregenerate,–it’s quite clear he’s wrong dar.”

“Who cares?” said Candace,–“generate or unregenerate, it’s all one to me. I believe a man dat _acts_ as he does. Him as stands up for de poor,–him as pleads for de weak,–he’s my man. I’ll believe straight through anyting he’s a mind to put at me.”

At this juncture, Mary’s fair face appearing at the door put a stop to the discussion.

“Bress _you_, Miss Mary! comin’ here like a fresh June rose! it makes a body’s eyes dance in deir head! Come right in! I got Cato up from de lot, ’cause he’s rader poorly dis mornin’; his cough makes me a sight o’ concern; he’s allers a-pullin’ off’ his jacket de wrong time, or doin’ sometin’ I tell him not to,–and it just keeps him hack, hack, hackin’, all de time.”

During this speech, Cato stood meekly bowing, feeling that he was being apologized for in the best possible manner; for long years of instruction had fixed the idea in his mind, that he was an ignorant sinner, who had not the smallest notion how to conduct himself in this world, and that, if it were not for his wife’s distinguishing grace, he would long since have been in the shades of oblivion.

“Missis is spinnin’ up in de north chamber,” said Candace; “but I’ll run up and fetch her down.”

Candace, who was about the size of a puncheon, was fond of this familiar manner of representing her mode of ascending the stairs; but Mary, suppressing a smile, said, “Oh, no, Candace! don’t for the world disturb her. I know just where she is.” And before Candace could stop her, Mary’s light foot was on the top step of the staircase that led up from the kitchen.

The north room was a large chamber, overlooking a splendid reach of sea-prospect. A moving panorama of blue water and gliding sails was unrolled before its three windows, so that stepping into the room gave one an instant and breezy sense of expansion. Mrs. Marvyn was standing at the large wheel, spinning wool,–a reel and basket of spools on her side. Her large brown eyes had an eager joy in them when Mary entered; but they seemed to calm down again, and she received her only with that placid, sincere air which was her habit. Everything about this woman showed an ardent soul, repressed by timidity and by a certain dumbness in the faculties of outward expression; but her eyes had, at times, that earnest, appealing language which is so pathetic in the silence of inferior animals.–One sometimes sees such eyes, and wonders whether the story they intimate will ever be spoken in mortal language.

Mary began eagerly detailing to her all that had interested her since they last met:–the party,–her acquaintance with Burr,–his visit to the cottage,–his inquiries into her education and reading,–and, finally, the proposal, that they should study French together.

“My dear,” said Mrs. Marvyn, “let us begin at once;–such an opportunity is not to be lost. I studied a little with James, when he was last at home.”

“With James?” said Mary, with an air of timid surprise.

“Yes,–the dear boy has become, what I never expected, quite a student. He employs all his spare time now in reading and studying;–the second mate is a Frenchman, and James has got so that he can both speak and read. He is studying Spanish, too.”

Ever since the last conversation with her mother on the subject of James, Mary had felt a sort of guilty constraint when any one spoke of him;–instead of answering frankly, as she once did, when anything brought his name up, she fell at once into a grave, embarrassed silence.

Mrs. Marvyn was so constantly thinking of him, that it was difficult to begin on any topic that did not in some manner or other knit itself into the one ever present in her thoughts. None of the peculiar developments of the female nature have a more exquisite vitality than the sentiment of a frail, delicate, repressed, timid woman for a strong, manly, generous son. There is her ideal expressed; there is the out-speaking and out-acting of all she trembles to think, yet burns to say or do; here is the hero that shall speak for her, the heart into which she has poured hers, and that shall give to her tremulous and hidden aspirations a strong and victorious expression. “I have gotten a _man_ from the Lord,” she says to herself; and each outburst of his manliness, his vigor, his self-confidence, his superb vitality, fills her with a strange, wondering pleasure, and she has a secret tenderness and pride even in his wilfulness and waywardness. “What a creature he is!” she says, when he flouts at sober argument and pitches all received opinions hither and thither in the wild capriciousness of youthful paradox. She looks grave and reproving; but he reads the concealed triumph in her eyes,–he knows that in her heart she is full of admiration all the time. First love of womanhood is something wonderful and mysterious,–but in this second love it rises again, idealized and refined; she loves the father and herself united and made one in this young heir of life and hope.

Such was Mrs. Marvyn’s still intense, passionate love for her son. Not a tone of his manly voice, not a flash of his dark eyes, not one of the deep, shadowy dimples that came and went as he laughed, not a ring of his glossy black hair, that was not studied, got by heart, and dwelt on in the inner shrine of her thoughts; he was the romance of her life. His strong, daring nature carried her with it beyond those narrow, daily bounds where her soul was weary of treading; and just as his voyages had given to the trite prose of her _menage_ a poetry of strange, foreign perfumes, of quaint objects of interest, speaking of many a far-off shore, so his mind and life were a constant channel of outreach through which her soul held converse with the active and stirring world. Mrs. Marvyn had known all the story of her son’s love, and to no other woman would she have been willing to resign him; but her love to Mary was so deep, that she thought of his union with her more as gaining a daughter than as losing a son. She would not speak of the subject; she knew the feelings of Mary’s mother; and the name of James fell so often from her lips, simply because it was so ever-present in her heart that it could not be helped.

Before Mary left, it was arranged that they should study together, and that the lessons should be given alternately at each other’s houses; and with this understanding they parted.

[To be continued.]

* * * * *



Our landlady’s daughter is a young lady of some pretensions to gentility. She wears her bonnet well back on her head, which is known by all to be a mark of high breeding. She wears her trains very long, as the great ladies do in Europe. To be sure, their dresses are so made only to sweep the tapestried doors of chateaux and palaces; as those odious aristocrats of the other side do not go draggling through the mud in silks and satins, but, forsooth, must ride in coaches when they are in full dress. It is true, that, considering various habits of the American people, also the little accidents which the best-kept sidewalks are liable to, a lady who has swept a mile of them is not exactly in such a condition that one would care to be her neighbor. But then there is no need of being so hard on these slight weaknesses of the poor, dear women as our little deformed gentleman was the other day.

–There are no such women as the Boston women, Sir,–he said. Forty-two