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  • 04/1861
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from any hellish temptation, but meet it face to face. Therefore the great temptation of his life came to him veiled by no sophistry, but bold, defiant, owning its own vile name, trusting to one bold blow for victory.

He did not deceive himself. Theft! That was it. At first the word sickened him; then he grappled with it. Sitting there on a broken cart-wheel, the fading day, the noisy groups, the church-bells’ tolling passed before him like a panorama, while the sharp struggle went on within. This money! He took it out, and looked at it. If he gave it back, what then? He was going to be cool about it.

People going by to church saw only a sickly mill-boy watching them quietly at the alley’s mouth. They did not know that he was mad, or they would not have gone by so quietly: mad with hunger; stretching out his hands to the world, that had given so much to them, for leave to live the life God meant him to live. His soul within him was smothering to death; he wanted so much, thought so much, and _knew_–nothing. There was nothing of which he was certain, except the mill and things there. Of God and heaven he had heard so little, that they were to him what fairy-land is to a child: something real, but not here; very far off. His brain, greedy, dwarfed, full of thwarted energy and unused powers, questioned these men and women going by, coldly, bitterly, that night. Was it not his right to live as they,–a pure life, a good, true-hearted life, full of beauty and kind words? He only wanted to know how to use the strength within him. His heart warmed, as he thought of it. He suffered himself to think of it longer. If he took the money?

Then he saw himself as he might be, strong, helpful, kindly. The night crept on, as this one image slowly evolved itself from the crowd of other thoughts and stood triumphant. He looked at it. As he might be! What wonder, if it blinded him to delirium,–the madness that underlies all revolution, all progress, and all fall?

You laugh at the shallow temptation? You see the error underlying its argument so clearly,–that to him a true life was one of full development rather than self-restraint? that he was deaf to the higher tone in a cry of voluntary suffering for truth’s sake than in the fullest flow of spontaneous harmony? I do not plead his cause. I only want to show you the mote in my brother’s eye: then you can see clearly to take it out.

The money,–there it lay on his knee, a little blotted slip of paper, nothing in itself; used to raise him out of the pit; something straight from God’s hand. A thief! Well, what was it to be a thief? He met the question at last, face to face, wiping the clammy drops of sweat from his forehead. God made this money–the fresh air, too–for his children’s use. He never made the difference between poor and rich. The Something who looked down on him that moment through the cool gray sky had a kindly face, he knew,–loved his children alike. Oh, he knew that!

There were times when the soft floods of color in the crimson and purple flames, or the clear depth of amber in the water below the bridge, had somehow given him a glimpse of another world than this,–of an infinite depth of beauty and of quiet somewhere,–somewhere,–a depth of quiet and rest and love. Looking up now, it became strangely real. The sun had sunk quite below the hills, but his last rays struck upward, touching the zenith. The fog had risen, and the town and river were steeped in its thick, gray damp; but overhead, the sun-touched smoke-clouds opened like a cleft ocean,–shifting, rolling seas of crimson mist, waves of billowy silver reined with blood-scarlet, inner depths unfathomable of glancing light. Wolfe’s artist-eye grew drunk with color. The gates of that other world! Fading, flashing before him now! What, in that world of Beauty, Content, and Right, were the petty laws, the mine and thine, of mill-owners and mill-hands?

A consciousness of power stirred within him. He stood up. A man,–he thought, stretching out his hands,–free to work, to live, to love! Free! His right! He folded the scrap of paper in his hand. As his nervous fingers took it in, limp and blotted, so his soul took in the mean temptation, lapped it in fancied rights, in dreams of improved existences, drifting and endless as the cloud-seas of color. Clutching it, as if the tightness of his hold would strengthen his sense of possession, he went aimlessly down the street. It was his watch at the mill. He need not go, need never go again, thank God!–shaking off the thought with unspeakable loathing.

Shall I go over the history of the hours of that night? how the man wandered from one to another of his old haunts, with a half-consciousness of bidding them farewell,–lanes and alleys and back-yards where the mill-hands lodged,–noting, with a new eagerness, the filth and drunkenness, the pig-pens, the ash-heaps covered with potato-skins, the bloated, pimpled women at the doors,–with a new disgust, a new sense of sudden triumph, and, under all, a new, vague dread, unknown before, smothered down, kept under, but still there? It left him but once during the night, when, for the second time in his life, he entered a church. It was a sombre Gothic pile, where the stained light lost itself in far-retreating arches; built to meet the requirements and sympathies of a far other class than Wolfe’s. Yet it touched, moved him uncontrollably. The distances, the shadows, the still, marble figures, the mass of silent kneeling worshippers, the mysterious music, thrilled, lifted his soul with a wonderful pain. Wolfe forgot himself, forgot the new life he was going to live, the mean terror gnawing underneath. The voice of the speaker strengthened the charm; it was clear, feeling, full, strong. An old man, who had lived much, suffered much; whose brain was keenly alive, dominant; whose heart was summer-warm with charity. He taught it to-night. He held up Humanity in its grand total; showed the great world-cancer to his people. Who could show it better? He was a Christian reformer; he had studied the age thoroughly; his outlook at man had been free, world-wide, over all time. His faith stood sublime upon the Rock of Ages; his fiery zeal guided vast schemes by which the gospel was to be preached to all nations. How did he preach it to-night? In burning, light-laden words he painted the incarnate Life, Love, the universal Man: words that became reality in the lives of these people,–that lived again in beautiful words and actions, trifling, but heroic. Sin, as he defied it, was a real foe to them; their trials, temptations, were his. His words passed far over the furnace-tender’s grasp, toned to suit another class of culture; they sounded in his ears a very pleasant song in an unknown tongue. He meant to cure this world-cancer with a steady eye that had never glared with hunger, and a hand that neither poverty nor strychnine-whiskey had taught to shake. In this morbid, distorted heart of the Welsh puddler he had failed.

Wolfe rose at last, and turned from the church down the street. He looked up; the night had come on foggy, damp; the golden mists had vanished, and the sky lay dull and ash-colored. He wandered again aimlessly down the street, idly wondering what had become of the cloud-sea of crimson and scarlet. The trial-day of this man’s life was over, and he had lost the victory. What followed was mere drifting circumstance,–a quicker walking over the path,–that was all. Do you want to hear the end of it? You wish me to make a tragic story out of it? Why, in the police-reports of the morning paper you can find a dozen such tragedies: hints of ship-wrecks unlike any that ever befell on the high seas; hints that here a power was lost to heaven,–that there a soul went down where no tide can ebb or flow. Commonplace enough the hints are,–jocose sometimes, done up in rhyme.

Doctor May, a month after the night I have told you of, was reading to his wife at breakfast from this fourth column of the morning-paper: an unusual thing,–these police-reports not being, in general, choice reading for ladies; but it was only one item he read.

“Oh, my dear! You remember that man I told you of, that we saw at Kirby’s mill?–that was arrested for robbing Mitchell? Here he is; just listen:–‘Circuit Court. Judge Day, Hugh Wolfe, operative in Kirby & John’s Loudon Mills. Charge, grand larceny. Sentence, nineteen years hard labor in penitentiary.’–Scoundrel! Serves him right! After all our kindness that night! Picking Mitchell’s pocket at the very time!”

His wife said something about the ingratitude of that kind of people, and then they began to talk of something else.

Nineteen years! How easy that was to read! What a simple word for Judge Day to utter! Nineteen years! Half a lifetime!

Hugh Wolfe sat on the window-ledge of his cell, looking out. His ankles were ironed. Not usual in such cases; but he had made two desperate efforts to escape. “Well,” as Haley, the jailer, said, “small blame to him! Nineteen years’ imprisonment was not a pleasant thing to look forward to.” Haley was very good-natured about it, though Wolfe had fought him savagely.

“When he was first caught,” the jailer said afterwards, in telling the story, “before the trial, the fellow was cut down at once,–laid there on that pallet like a dead man, with his hands over his eyes. Never saw a man so cut down in my life. Time of the trial, too, came the queerest dodge of any customer I ever had. Would choose no lawyer. Judge gave him one, of course. Gibson it was. He tried to prove the fellow crazy; but it wouldn’t go. Thing was plain as daylight: money found on him. ‘Twas a hard sentence,–all the law allows; but it was for ‘xample’s sake. These mill-hands are gettin’ onbearable. When the sentence was read, he just looked up, and said the money was his by rights, and that all the world had gone wrong. That night, after the trial, a gentleman came to see him here, name of Mitchell,–him as he stole from. Talked to him for an hour. Thought he came for curiosity, like. After he was gone, thought Wolfe was remarkable quiet, and went into his cell. Found him very low; bed all bloody. Doctor said he had been bleeding at the lungs. He was as weak as a cat; yet, if ye’ll b’lieve me, he tried to get a-past me and get out. I just carried him like a baby, and threw him on the pallet. Three days after, he tried it again: that time reached the wall. Lord help you! he fought like a tiger,–giv’ some terrible blows. Fightin’ for life, you see; for he can’t live long, shut up in the stone crib down yonder. Got a death-cough now. ‘T took two of us to bring him down that day; so I just put the irons on his feet. There he sits, in there. Goin’ to-morrow, with a batch more of ’em. That woman, hunchback, tried with him,–you remember?–she’s only got three years. ‘Complice. But _she’s_ a woman, you know. He’s been quiet ever since I put on irons: giv’ up, I suppose. Looks white, sick-lookin’. It acts different on ’em, bein’ sentenced. Most of ’em gets reckless, devilish-like. Some prays awful, and sings them vile songs of the mills, all in a breath. That woman, now, she’s desper’t’. Been beggin’ to see Hugh, as she calls him, for three days. I’m a-goin’ to let her in. She don’t go with him. Here she is in this next cell. I’m a-goin’ now to let her in.”

He let her in. Wolfe did not see her. She crept into a corner of the cell, and stood watching him. He was scratching the iron bars of the window with a piece of tin which he had picked up, with an idle, uncertain, vacant stare, just as a child or idiot would do.

“Tryin’ to get out, old boy?” laughed Haley. “Them irons will need a crowbar beside your tin, before you can open ’em.”

Wolfe laughed, too, in a senseless way.

“I think I’ll get out,” he said.

“I believe his brain’s touched,” said Haley, when he came out.

The puddler scraped away with the tin for half an hour. Still Deborah did not speak. At last she ventured nearer, and touched his arm.

“Blood?” she said, looking at some spots on his coat with a shudder.

He looked up at her. “Why, Deb!” he said, smiling,–such a bright, boyish smile, that it went to poor Deborah’s heart directly, and she sobbed and cried out loud.

“Oh, Hugh, lad! Hugh! dunnot look at me, when it wur my fault! To think I brought hur to it! And I loved hur so! Oh, lad, I dud!”

The confession, even in this wretch, came with the woman’s blush through the sharp cry.

He did not seem to hear her,–scraping away diligently at the bars with the bit of tin.

Was he going mad? She peered closely into his face. Something she saw there made her draw suddenly back,–something which Haley had not seen, that lay beneath the pinched, vacant look it had caught since the trial, or the curious gray shadow that rested on it. That gray shadow,–yes, she knew what that meant. She had often seen it creeping over women’s faces for months, who died at last of slow hunger or consumption. That meant death, distant, lingering: but this–Whatever it was the woman saw, or thought she saw, used as she was to crime and misery, seemed to make her sick with a new horror. Forgetting her fear of him, she caught his shoulders, and looked keenly, steadily, into his eyes.

“Hugh!” she cried, in a desperate whisper,–“oh, boy, not that! for God’s sake, not _that!_”

The vacant laugh went off his face, and he answered her in a muttered word or two that drove her away. Yet the words were kindly enough. Sitting there on his pallet, she cried silently a hopeless sort of tears, but did not speak again. The man looked up furtively at her now and then. Whatever his own trouble was, her distress vexed him with a momentary sting.

It was market-day. The narrow window of the jail looked down directly on the carts and wagons drawn up in a long line, where they had unloaded. He could see, too, and hear distinctly the clink of money as it changed hands, the busy crowd of whites and blacks shoving, pushing one another, and the chaffering and swearing at the stalls. Somehow, the sound, more than anything else had done, wakened him up,–made the whole real to him. He was done with the world and the business of it. He let the tin fall, and looked out, pressing his face close to the rusty bars. How they crowded and pushed! And he,–he should never walk that pavement again! There came Neff Sanders, one of the feeders at the mill, with a basket on his arm. Sure enough, Neff was married the other week. He whistled, hoping he would look up; but he did not. He wondered if Neff remembered he was there,–if any of the boys thought of him up there, and thought that he never was to go down that old cinder-road again. Never again! He had not quite understood it before; but now he did. Not for days or years, but never!–that was it.

How clear the light fell on that stall in front of the market! and how like a picture it was, the dark-green heaps of corn, and the crimson beets, and golden melons! There was another with game: how the light flickered on that pheasant’s breast, with the purplish blood dripping over the brown feathers! He could see the red shining of the drops, it was so near. In one minute he could be down there. It was just a step. So easy, as it seemed, so natural to go! Yet it could never be–not in all the thousands of years to come–that he should put his foot on that street again! He thought of himself with a sorrowful pity, as of some one else. There was a dog down in the market, walking after his master with such a stately, grave look!–only a dog, yet he could go backwards and forwards just as he pleased: he had good luck! Why, the very vilest cur, yelping there in the gutter, had not lived his life, had been free to act out whatever thought God had put into his brain; while he–No, he would not think of that! He tried to put the thought away, and to listen to a dispute between a countryman and a woman about some meat; but it would come back. He, what had he done to bear this?

Then came the sudden picture of what might have been, and now. He knew what it was to be in the penitentiary,–how it went with men there. He knew how in these long years he should slowly die, but not Until soul and body had become corrupt and rotten,–how, when he came out, if he lived to come, even the lowest of the mill-hands would jeer him,–how his hands would be weak, and his brain senseless and stupid. He believed he was almost that now. He put his hand to his head, with a puzzled, weary look. It ached, his head, with thinking. He tried to quiet himself. It was only right, perhaps; he had done wrong. But was there right or wrong for such as he? What was right’? And who had ever taught him? He thrust the whole matter away. A dark, cold quiet crept through his brain. It was all wrong; but let it be! It was nothing to him more than the others. Let it be!

The door grated, as Haley opened it.

“Come, my woman! Must lock up for t’night. Come, stir yerself!”

She went up and took Hugh’s hand.

“Good-night, Deb,” he said, carelessly.

She had not hoped he would say more; but the Sired pain on her mouth just then was bitterer than death. She took his passive hand and kissed it.

“Hur ‘ll never see Deb again!” she ventured, her lips growing colder and more bloodless.

What did she say that for? Did he not know it’! Yet he would not impatient with poor old Deb. She had trouble of her own, as well as he.

“No, never again,” he said, trying to be cheerful.

She stood just a moment, looking at him. Do you laugh at her, standing there, with her hunchback, her rags, her bleared, withered face, and the great despised love tugging at her heart?

“Come, you!” called Haley, impatiently.

She did not move.

“Hugh!” she whispered.

It was to be her last word. What was it?

“Hugh, boy, not THAT!”

He did not answer. She wrung her hands, trying to be silent, looking in his face in an agony of entreaty. He smiled again, kindly.

“It is best, Deb. I cannot bear to be hurted any more.”

“Hur knows,” she said, humbly.

“Tell my father good-bye; and–and kiss little Janey.”

She nodded, saying nothing, looked in his face again, and went out of the door. As she went, she staggered.

“Drinkin’ to-day?” broke out Haley, pushing her before him. “Where the Devil did you get it? Here, in with ye!” and he shoved her into her cell, next to Wolfe’s, and shut the door.

Along the wall of her cell there was a crack low down by the floor, through which she could see the light from Wolfe’s. She had discovered it days before. She hurried in now, and, kneeling down by it, listened, hoping to hear some sound. Nothing but the rasping of the tin on the bars. He was at his old amusement again. Something in the noise jarred on her ear, for she shivered as she heard it. Hugh rasped away at the bars. A dull old bit of tin, not fit to cut korl with.

He looked out of the window again. People were leaving the market now. A tall mulatto girl, following her mistress, her basket on her head, crossed the street just below, and looked up. She was laughing; but, when she caught sight of the haggard face peering out through the bars, suddenly grew grave, and hurried by. A free, firm step, a clear-cut olive face, with a scarlet turban tied on one side, dark, shining eyes, and on the head the basket poised, filled with fruit and flowers, under which the scarlet turban and bright eyes looked out half-shadowed. The picture caught his eye. It was good to see a face like that. He would try to-morrow, and cut one like it. _To-morrow_! He threw down the tin, trembling, and covered his face with his hands. When he looked up again, the daylight was gone.

Deborah, crouching near by on the other side of the wall, heard no noise. He sat on the side of the low pallet, thinking. Whatever was the mystery which the woman had seen on his face, it came out now slowly, in the dark there, and became fixed,–a something never seen on his face before. The evening was darkening fast. The market had been over for an hour; the rumbling of the carts over the pavement grew more infrequent: he listened to each, as it passed, because he thought it was to be for the last time. For the same reason, it was, I suppose, that he strained his eyes to catch a glimpse of each passer-by, wondering who they were, what kind of homes they were going to, if they had children,–listening eagerly to every chance word in the street, as if–(God be merciful to the man! what strange fancy was this?)–as if he never should hear human voices again.

It was quite dark at last. The street was a lonely one. The last passenger, he thought, was gone. No,–there was a quick step: Joe Hill, lighting the I Joe was a good old chap; never passed a fellow without some joke or other. He remembered once seeing the place where he lived with his wife. “Granny Hill” the boys called her. Bedridden she was; but so kind as Joe was to her! kept the room so clean!–and the old woman, when he was there, was laughing at “some of t’ lad’s foolishness.” The step was far down the street; but he could see him place the ladder, run up, and light the gas. A longing seized him to be spoken to once more.

“Joe!” he called, out of the grating. “Good-bye, Joe!”

The old man stopped a moment, listening uncertainly; then hurried on. The prisoner thrust his hand out of the window, and called again, louder; but Joe was too far down the street. It was a little thing; but it hurt him,–this disappointment.

“Good-bye, Joe!” he called, sorrowfully enough.

“Be quiet!” said one of the jailers, passing the door, striking on it with his club.

Oh, that was the last, was it?

There was an inexpressible bitterness on his face, as he lay down on the bed, taking the bit of tin, which he had rasped to a tolerable degree of sharpness, in his hand,–to play with, it may be. He bared his arms, looking intently at their corded veins and sinews. Deborah, listening in the next cell, heard a slight clicking sound, often repeated. She shut her lips tightly, that she might not scream; the cold drops of sweat broke over her, in her dumb agony.

“Hur knows best,” she muttered at last, fiercely clutching the boards where she lay.

If she could have seen Wolfe, there was nothing about him to frighten her. He lay quite still, his arms outstretched, looking at the pearly stream of moonlight coming into the window. I think in that one hour that came then he lived back over all the years that had gone before. I think that all the low, vile life, all his wrongs, all his starved hopes, came then, and stung him with a farewell poison that made him sick unto death. He made neither moan nor cry, only turned his worn face now and then to the pure light, that seemed so far off, as one that said, “How long, O Lord? how long?”

The hour was over at last. The moon, passing over her nightly path, slowly came nearer, and threw the light across his bed on his feet. He watched it steadily, as it crept up, inch by inch, slowly. It seemed to him to carry with it a great silence. He had been so hot and tired there always in the mills! The years had been so fierce and cruel! There was coming now quiet and coolness and sleep. His tense limbs relaxed, and settled in a calm languor. The blood ran fainter and slow from his heart. He did not think now with a savage anger of what might be and was not; he was conscious only of deep stillness creeping over him. At first he saw a sea of faces: the mill-men,–women he had known, drunken and bloated,–Janeys timid and pitiful,–poor old Debs: then they floated together like a mist, and faded away, leaving only the clear, pearly moonlight.

Whether, as the pure light crept up the stretched-out figure, it brought with it calm and peace, who shall say? His dumb soul was alone with God in judgment. A Voice may have spoken for it from far-off Calvary, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!” Who dare say? Fainter and fainter the heart rose and fell, slower and slower the moon floated from behind a cloud, until, when at last its full tide of white splendor swept over the cell, it seemed to wrap and fold into a deeper stillness the dead figure that never should move again. Silence deeper than the Night! Nothing that moved, save the black, nauseous stream of blood dripping slowly from the pallet to the floor!

There was outcry and crowd enough in the cell the next day. The coroner and his jury, the local editors, Kirby himself, and boys with their hands thrust knowingly into their pockets and heads on one side, jammed into the corners. Coming and going all day. Only one woman. She came late, and outstayed them all. A Quaker, or Friend, as they call themselves. I think this woman was known by that name in heaven. A homely body, coarsely dressed in gray and white. Deborah (for Haley had let her in) took notice of her. She watched them all–sitting on the end of the pallet, holding his head in her arms–with the ferocity of a watch-dog, if any of them touched the body. There was no meekness, sorrow, in her face; the stuff out of which murderers are made, instead. All the time Haley and the woman were laying straight the limbs and cleaning the cell, Deborah sat still, keenly watching the Quaker’s face. Of all the crowd there that day, this woman alone had not spoken to her,–only once or twice had put some cordial to her lips. After they all were gone, the woman, in the same still, gentle way, brought a vase of wood-leaves and berries, and placed it by the pallet, then opened the narrow window. The fresh air blew in, and swept the woody fragrance over the dead face. Deborah looked up with a quick wonder.

“Did hur know my boy wud like it? Did hur know Hugh?”

“I know Hugh now.”

The white fingers passed in a slow, pitiful way over the dead, worn face. There was a heavy shadow in the quiet eyes.

“Did hur know where they’ll bury Hugh?” said Deborah in a shrill tone, catching her arm.

This had been the question hanging on her lips all day.

“In t’ town-yard? Under t’mud and ash? T’lad ‘ll smother, woman! He wur born on t’lane moor, where t’air is frick and strong. Take hur out, for God’s sake, take hur out where t’air blows!”

The Quaker hesitated, but only for a moment. She put her strong arm around Deborah and led her to the window.

“Thee sees the hills, friend, over the river? Thee sees how the light lies warm there, and the winds of God blow all the day? I live there,–where the blue smoke is, by the trees. Look at me.” She turned Deborah’s face to her own, clear and earnest. “Thee will believe me? I will take Hugh and bury him there to-morrow.”

Deborah did not doubt her. As the evening wore on, she leaned against the iron bars, looking at the hills that rose far off, through the thick sodden clouds, like a bright, unattainable calm. As she looked, a shadow of their solemn repose fell on her face: its fierce discontent faded into a pitiful, humble quiet. Slow, solemn tears gathered in her eyes: the poor weak eyes turned so hopelessly to the place where Hugh was to rest, the grave heights looking higher and brighter and more solemn than ever before. The Quaker watched her keenly. She came to her at last, and touched her arm.

“When thee comes back,” she said, in a low, sorrowful tone, like one who speaks from a strong heart deeply moved with remorse or pity, “thee shall begin thy life again,–there on the hills. I came too late; but not for thee,–by God’s help, it may be.”

Not too late. Three years after, the Quaker began her work. I end my story here. At evening-time it was light. There is no need to tire you with the long years of sunshine, and fresh air, and slow, patient Christ-love, needed to make healthy and hopeful this impure body and soul. There is a homely pine house, on one of these hills, whose windows overlook broad, wooded slopes and clover-crimsoned meadows,–niched into the very place where the light is warmest, the air freest. It is the Friends’ meeting-house. Once a week they sit there, in their grave, earnest way, waiting for the Spirit of Love to speak, opening their simple hearts to receive His words. There is a woman, old, deformed, who takes a humble place among them: waiting like them: in her gray dress, her worn face, pure and meek, turned now and then to the sky. A woman much loved by these silent, restful people; more silent than they, more humble, more loving. Waiting: with her eyes turned to hills higher and purer than these on which she lives,–dim and far off now, but to be reached some day. There may be in her heart some latent hope to meet there the love denied her here,–that she shall find him whom she lost, and that then she will not be all-unworthy. Who blames her? Something is lost in the passage of every soul from one eternity to the other,–something pure and beautiful, which might have been and was not: a hope, a talent, a love, over which the soul mourns, like Esau deprived of his birthright. What blame to the meek Quaker, if she took her lost hope to make the hills of heaven more fair?

Nothing remains to tell that the poor Welsh puddler once lived, but this figure of the mill-woman cut in korl. I have it here in a corner of my library. I keep it hid behind a curtain,–it is such a rough, ungainly thing. Yet there are about it touches, grand sweeps of outline, that show a master’s hand. Sometimes,–to-night, for instance,–the curtain is accidentally drawn back, and I see a bare arm stretched out imploringly in the darkness, and an eager, wolfish face watching mine: a wan, woful face, through which the spirit of the dead korl-cutter looks out, with its thwarted life, its mighty hunger, its unfinished work. Its pale, vague lips seem to tremble with a terrible question, “Is this the End?” they say,–“nothing beyond?–no more?”

Why, you tell me you have seen that look in the eyes of dumb brutes,–horses dying under the lash. I know.

The deep of the night is passing while I write. The gas-light wakens from the shadows here and there the objects which lie scattered through the room: only faintly, though; for they belong to the open sunlight. As I glance at them, they each recall some task or pleasure of the coming day. A half-moulded child’s head; Aphrodite; a bough of forest-leaves; music; work; homely fragments, in which lie the secrets of all eternal truth and beauty. Prophetic all! Only this dumb, woful face seems to belong to and end with the night. I turn to look at it Has the power of its desperate need commanded the darkness away? While the room is yet steeped in heavy shadow, a cool, gray light suddenly touches its head like a blessing hand, and its groping arm points through the broken cloud to the far East, where, in the nickering, nebulous crimson, God has set the promise of the Dawn.

* * * * *


To every age and to all nations belong their peculiar maxims and political or religious cries, which, if collected by some ingenious philosopher, would make a striking compendium of universal history. Sometimes a curious outward similarity exists between these condensed national sentences of peoples dissimilar in every other respect. Thus, to-day is heard in the senescent East the oft-repeated formula of the Mussulman’s faith, “There is no God but Allah, and Mahomet is his Prophet,” while in the youthful West a new cry, as fully believed, not less devout, and scarcely less often repeated, arises from one great and influential portion of the political and social thinkers of this country,–the cry that “There is no King but Cotton, and the African is its High-Priest.” According to the creed of philosophy, philanthropy, and economy in vogue among the sect whose views take utterance in this formula, King Cotton has now reigned supreme over the temporal affairs of the princes, potentates, and people of this earth for some thirty years. Consequently, it is fair to presume that its reign has fully developed its policy and tendencies and is producing its fruit for good or evil, especially in the land of its disciples. It is well, therefore, sometimes to withdraw a little from the dust and smoke of the battle, which, with us at least, announces the spread of this potentate’s power, and to try to disentangle the real questions at issue in the struggle from the eternal complications produced by short-sighted politicians and popular issues. Looking at the policy and tendency of the reign of King Cotton, as hitherto developed and indicated by its most confidential advisers and apostles and by the lapse of time in the so-called Slave States, to what end does it necessarily tend? to what results must it logically lead?

What is coarsely, but expressively, described in the political slang of this country as “_The Everlasting Nigger Question_” might perhaps fairly be considered exhausted as a topic of discussion, if ever a topic was. Is it exhausted, however? Have not rather the smoke and sweat and dust of the political battle in which we have been so long and so fiercely engaged exercised a dimming influence on our eyes as to the true difficulty and its remedy, as they have on the vision of other angry combatants since the world began? It is easy to say, in days like these, that men seem at once to lose their judgment and reason when they approach this question,–to look hardly an arm’s length before them,–to become mere tools of their own passions; and all this is true, and, in conceding it all, no more is conceded than that the men of the present day are also mortal. How many voters in the last election, before they went to the polls, had seriously thought out for themselves the real issue of the contest, apart from party names and platforms and popular cries and passionate appeals to the conscience and the purse? In all parties, some doubtless were impelled by fanaticism,–many were guided by instinct,–more by the voice of their leaders,–most by party catchwords and material interests,–but how many by real reflection and the exercise of reason? Was it every fifth man, or every tenth? Was it every fiftieth? Let every one judge for himself. The history of the reigning dynasty, its policy and tendency, are still open questions, the discussion of which, though perhaps become tedious, is not exhausted, and, if conducted in a fair spirit, will at least do no harm. What, then, is all this thirty years’ turmoil, of which the world is growing sick, about? Are we indeed only fighting, as the party-leaders at the North seem trying to persuade us, for the control, by the interests of free labor or of slave-labor, of certain remaining national territories into which probably slavery never could be made to enter?–or rather is there not some deep innate principle,–some strong motive of aggrandizement or preservation,–some real Enceladus,–the cause of this furious volcano of destructive agitation? If, indeed, the struggle be for the possession of a sterile waste in the heart of the continent,–useless either as a slave-breeding or a slave-working country,–clearly, whatever the politician might say to the contrary, the patriot and the merchant would soon apply to the struggle the principle, that sometimes the game is not worth the candle. If, however, there be an underlying principle, the case is different, and the cost of the struggle admits of no limit save the value of the motive principle. He who now pretends to discuss this question should approach it neither as a Whig, a Democrat, nor a Republican, but should look at it by the light of political philosophy and economy, forgetful of the shibboleth of party or appeals to passion. So far as may be, in this spirit it is proposed to discuss it here.

“By its fruits ye shall know it.” Look, then, for a moment, at the fruits of the Cotton dynasty, as hitherto developed in the working of its policy and its natural tendency,–observe its vital essence and logical necessities,–seek for the result of its workings, when brought in contact with the vital spirits and life-currents of our original policy as a people,–and then decide whether this contest in which we are engaged is indeed an irrepressible and inextinguishable contest, or whether all this while we have not been fighting with shadows. King Cotton has now reigned for thirty years, be the same less or more. To feel sure that we know what its policy has wrought in that time, we must first seek for the conditions under which it originally began its work.

Ever since Adam and Eve were forced, on their expulsion from Paradise, to try the first experiment at self-government, their descendants have been pursuing a course of homoeopathic treatment. It was the eating of the fruit of the tree of knowledge which caused all their woes; and in an increased consumption of the fruit of that tree they have persistently looked for alleviation of them. Experience seems to prove the wisdom of the treatment. The greater the consumption of the fruit, the greater the happiness of man. Knowledge has at last become the basis of all things,–of power, of social standing, of material prosperity, and, finally, in America, of government itself. Until within a century past, political philosophy in the creation of government began at the wrong end. It built from the pinnacle downward. The stability of the government depended on the apex,–the one or the few,–and not on the base,–the foundation of the many. At length, in this country, fresh from the hand of Nature, the astonished world saw a new experiment tried,–a government systematically built up from the foundation of the many,–a government drawing its being from, and dependent for its continued existence on, the will and the intelligence of the governed. The foundation had first been laid deep and strong, and on it a goodly superstructure of government was erected. Yet, even to this day, the very subjects of that government itself do not realize that they, and not the government, are the sources of national prosperity. In times of national emergency like the present,–amid clamors of secession and of coercion,–angry threats and angrier replies,–wars and rumors of wars,–what is more common than to hear sensible men–men whom the people look to as leaders–picturing forth a dire relapse into barbarism and anarchy as the necessary consequence of the threatened convulsions? They forget, if they ever realized, that the people made this government, and not the government the people. Destroy the intelligence of the people, and the government could not exist for a day;–destroy this government, and the people would create another, and yet another, of no less perfect symmetry. While the foundations are firm, there need be no fears of the superstructure, which may be renewed again and again; but touch the foundations, and the superstructure must crumble at once. Those who still insist on believing that this government made the people are fond of triumphantly pointing to the condition of the States of Mexico, as telling the history of our own future, let our present government be once interrupted in its functions. Are Mexicans Yankees? Are Spaniards Anglo-Saxons? Are Catholicism and religious freedom, the Inquisition and common schools, despotism and democracy, synonymous terms? Could a successful republic, on our model, be at once instituted in Africa on the assassination of the King of Timbuctoo? Have two centuries of education nothing to do with our success, or an eternity of ignorance with Mexican failure? Was our government a lucky guess, and theirs an unfortunate speculation? The one lesson that America is destined to teach the world, or to miss her destiny in failing to teach, has with us passed into a truism, and is yet continually lost sight of; it is the magnificent result of three thousand years of experiment: the simple truth, that no government is so firm, so truly conservative, and so wholly indestructible, as a government founded and dependent for support upon the affections and good-will of a moral, intelligent, and educated community. In our politics, we hear much of State-rights and centralization,–of distribution of power,–of checks and balances,–of constitutions and their construction,–of patronage and its distribution,–of banks, of tariffs, and of trade,–all of them subjects of moment in their sphere; but their sphere is limited. Whether they be decided one way or the other is of comparatively little consequence: for, however they are decided, if the people are educated and informed, the government will go on, and the community be prosperous, be they decided never so badly,–and if decided badly, the decision will he reversed; but let the people become ignorant and debased, and all the checks and balances and wise regulations which the ingenuity of man could in centuries devise would, at best, but for a short space defer the downfall of a republic. A well-founded republic can, then, be destroyed only by destroying its people,–its decay need be looked for only in the decay of their intelligence; and any form of thought or any institution tending to suppress education or destroy intelligence strikes at the very essence of the government, and constitutes a treason which no law can meet, and for which no punishment is adequate.

Education, then, as universally diffused as the elements of God, is the life-blood of our body politic. The intelligence of the people is the one great fact of our civilization and our prosperity,–it is the beating heart of our age and of our land. It is education alone which makes equality possible without anarchy, and liberty without license. It is this–which makes the fundamental principles of our Declaration of Independence living realities in New England, while in France they still remain the rhetorical statement of glittering generalities. From this source flow all our possibilities. Without it, the equality of man is a pretty figure of speech; with it, democracy is possible. This is a path beaten by two hundred years of footprints, and while we walk it we are safe and need fear no evil; but if we diverge from it, be it for never so little, we stumble, and, unless we quickly retrace our steps, we fall and are lost. The tutelary goddess of American liberty should be the pure marble image of the Professor’s Yankee school-mistress. Education is the fundamental support of our system. It was education which made us free, progressive, and conservative; and it is education alone which can keep us so.

With this fact clearly established, the next inquiry should be as to the bearing and policy of the Cotton dynasty as touching this question of general intelligence. It is a mere truism to say that the cotton-culture is the cause of the present philosophical and economical phase of the African question. Throughout the South, whether justly or not, it is considered as well settled that cotton can be profitably raised only by a forced system of labor. This theory has been denied by some writers, and, in experience, is certainly subject to some marked exceptions; but undoubtedly it is the creed of the Cotton dynasty, and must here, therefore, be taken for true.[A] With this theory, the Southern States are under a direct inducement, in the nature of a bribe, to the amount of the annual profit on their cotton-crop, to see as many perfections and as few imperfections as possible in the system of African slavery, and to follow it out unflinchingly into all its logical necessities. Thus, under the direct influence of the Cotton dynasty, the whole Southern tone on this subject has undergone a change. Slavery is no longer deplored as a necessary evil, but it is maintained as in all respects a substantial good. One of the logical necessities of a thorough slave-system is, in at least the slave-portion of the people, extreme ignorance. Whatever theoretically may be desirable in this respect among the master-class, ignorance, in its worst form,–ignorance of everything except the use of the tools with which their work is to be done,–is the necessary condition of the slaves. But it is said that slaves are property, without voice or influence in the government, and that the ignorance of the black is no obstacle to the intelligence of the white. This possibly may be true; but a government founded on ignorance, as the essential condition of one portion of its people, is not likely long to regard education as its vital source and essence. Still the assertion that the rule of education does not apply to slaves must be allowed; for we must deal with facts as we find them; and undoubtedly the slave has no rights which the master is bound to respect; and in speaking of the policy of the Cotton dynasty, the servile population must be regarded as it is, ignoring the question of what it might be; it must be taken into consideration only as a terrible inert mass of domesticated barbarism, and there left. The question here is solely with the policy and tendency of the Cotton dynasty as affecting the master-class, and the servile class is in that consideration to be summarily disposed of as so much labor owned by so much capital.

[Footnote A: “In truth,” the institution of slavery, as an agency for cotton-cultivation, “is an expensive luxury, a dangerous and artificial state, and, even in a-worldly point of view, an error. The cost of a first-class negro in the United States is about L800, and the interest on the capital invested in and the wear and tear of this human chattel are equal to 10 per cent., which, with the cost of maintaining, clothing, and doctoring him, or another 5 per cent, gives an annual cost of L45; and the pampered Coolies in the best paying of all the tropical settlements, Trinidad, receive wages that do not exceed on an average on the year round 6s. per week, or about two-fifths, while in the East Indies, with perquisites, they do not receive so much as two-thirds of this. In Cuba, the Chinese emigrants do not receive so much even as one-third of this.”–_Cotton Trade of Great Britain_, by J.A. MANN. –In India, labor is 80 per cent cheaper than in the United States.]

The dynasty of Cotton is based on the monopoly of the cotton-culture in the Cotton States of the Union; its whole policy is directed to the two ends of making the most of and retaining that monopoly; and economically it reduces everything to subserviency to the question of cotton-supply; –thus Cotton is King. The result necessarily is, that the Cotton States have turned all their energies to that one branch of industry. All other branches they abandon or allow to languish. They have no commerce of their own, few manufactories, fewer arts; and in their abandonment of self in their devotion to their King, they do not even raise their own hay or corn, dig their own coal, or fell their own timber; and at present, Louisiana is abandoning the sugar-culture, one of the few remaining exports of the South, to share more largely in the monopoly of cotton. Thus the community necessarily loses its fair proportions; it ceases to be self-sustaining; it exercises one faculty alone, until all the others wither and become impotent for very lack of use. This intense and all-pervading devotion to one pursuit, and that a pursuit to which the existence of a servile class is declared essential, must, in a republic more than in any other government, produce certain marked politico-philosophical and economical effects on the master-class as a whole. In a country conducted on a system of servile labor, as in one conducted on free, the master-class must be divided into the two great orders of the rich and poor,–those who have, and those who have not. That the whole policy of the Cotton dynasty tends necessarily to making broader the chasm between these orders is most apparent. It makes the rich richer, and the poor poorer; for, as, according to the creed of the dynasty, capital should own labor, and the labor thus owned can alone successfully produce cotton, he who has must be continually increasing his store, while he who has not can neither raise the one staple recognized by the Cotton dynasty, nor turn his labor, his only property, to other branches of industry; for such have, in the universal abandonment of the community to cotton, been allowed to languish and die. The economical tendency of the Cotton dynasty is therefore to divide the master-class yet more distinctly into the two great opposing orders of society. On the one hand we see the capitalist owning the labor of a thousand slaves, and on the other the laboring white unable, under the destructive influence of a profitable monopoly, to make any use of that labor which is his only property.

What influence, then, has the Cotton dynasty on that portion of the master-class who are without capital? Its tendency has certainly necessarily been to make their labor of little value; but they are still citizens of a republic, free to come and go, and, in the eye of the law, equal with the highest;–on them, in times of emergency, the government must rest; their education and intelligence are its only sure foundations. But, having made this class the vast majority of the master-caste, what are the policy and tendency of the Cotton dynasty as touching them? The story is almost too old to bear even the shortest repetition. Philosophically, it is a logical necessity of the Cotton dynasty that it should be opposed to universal intelligence;–economically, it renders universal intelligence an impossibility. That slavery is in itself a positive good to society is a fundamental doctrine of the Cotton dynasty, and a proposition not necessary to be combated here; but, unfortunately, universal intelligence renders free discussion a necessity, and experience tells us that the suppression of free discussion is necessary to the existence of slavery. We are but living history over again. The same causes have often existed before, and they have drawn after them the necessary effects. Other peoples, at other times, as well as our Southern brethren at present, have felt, that the suppression of general discussion was necessary to the preservation of a prized and peculiar institution. Spain, Italy, Germany, France, the Netherlands, England, and Scotland have all, at different times, experienced the forced suppression of some one branch of political or religious thought. Their histories have recorded the effect of that suppression; and the rule to be deduced therefrom is simply this: If the people among whom such suppression is attempted are ignorant, and are kept so as part of a system, the attempt may be successful, though in its results working destruction to the community;–if, however, they are intelligent, and the system incautiously admits into itself any plan of education, the attempt at suppression will be abandoned, as the result either of policy or violence. In this respect, then, on philosophical grounds, the Cotton dynasty is not likely to favor the education of the masses. Again, it is undoubtedly the interest of the man who has not, that all possible branches of industry should be open to his labor, as rendering that labor of greater value; but the whole tendency of the Cotton monopoly is to blight all branches of industry in the Cotton States save only that one. General intelligence might lead the poor white to suspect this fact of an interest of his own antagonistic to the policy of the Cotton King, and therefore general intelligence is not part of that monarch’s policy. This the philosophers of the Cotton dynasty fairly avow and class high among those dangers against which it behooves them to be on their guard. They theorize thus:–

“The great mass of our poor white population begin to understand that they have rights, and that they, too, are entitled to some of the sympathy which falls upon the suffering. They are fast learning that there is an almost infinite world of industry opening before them, by which they can elevate themselves and their families from wretchedness and ignorance to competence and intelligence. It is this great upheaving of our masses which we have to fear, so far as our institutions are concerned.”[B]

[Footnote B: _De Bow’s Review_, January, 1850. Quoted in Olmsted’s _Back Country_, p. 451.]

Further, the policy of the Cotton King, however honestly in theory it may wish to encourage it, renders general education and consequent intelligence an impossibility. A system of universal education is made for a laboring population, and can be sustained only among a laboring population; but if that population consist of slaves, universal education cannot exist. The reason is simple; for the children of all must be educated, otherwise the scholars will not support the schools. It is an absolute necessity of society that in agricultural districts cultivated by slave-labor the free population should be too sparsely scattered to support a system of schools, even on starvation wages for the cheapest class of teachers.

Finally, though it is a subject not necessary now to discuss, the effect of the Cotton monopoly and dynasty in depressing the majority of the whites into a species of labor competition in the same branch of industry as the blacks, because the only branch open to all, can hardly have a self-respect-inspiring influence on that portion of the community, but should in its results rather illustrate old Falstaff’s remark,–that “there is a thing often heard of, and it is known to many in our land, by the name of pitch; this pitch, as ancient writers do report, doth defile: so doth the company thou keepest.”

Such, reason tells us, should be the effect on the intelligence and education of the free masses of the South of the policy and dynasty of King Cotton. That experience in this case verifies the conclusions of reason who can doubt who has ever set foot in a thorough Slave State,–or in Kansas, or in any Free State half-peopled by the poor whites of the South?–or who can doubt it, that has ever even talked on the subject with an intelligent and fair-minded Southern gentleman? Who that knows them will deny that the poor whites of the South make the worst population in the country? Who ever heard a Southern gentleman speak of them, save in Congress or on the hustings, otherwise than with aversion and contempt?[C]

[Footnote C: Except when used by the accomplished statistician, there is nothing more fallacious than the figures of the census. As the author of this article is a disciple neither of Buckle nor De Bow, they have not been used at all; but a few of the census figures are nevertheless instructive, as showing the difference between the Free and the Servile States in respect to popular education. According to the census of 1850, the white population of the Slave States amounted to 6,184,477 souls, and the colored population, free and slave, brought the total population up to an aggregate of 9,612,979, of which the whole number of school-pupils was 581,861. New York, with a population of 3,097,894 souls, numbered 675,221 pupils, or 98,830 more than all the Slave States. The eight Cotton States, from South Carolina to Arkansas, with a population of 2,137,264 whites and a grand total of 3,970,337 human beings, contained 141,032 pupils; the State of Massachusetts, with a total population of 994,514, numbered 176,475, or 35,443 pupils more than all the Cotton States. In popular governments the great sources of general intelligence are newspapers and periodicals; in estimating these, metropolitan New York should not be considered; but of these the whole number, in 1850, issued annually in all the Slave States was 61,038,698, and the number in the not peculiarly enlightened State of Pennsylvania was 84,898,672, or 3,859,974 more than in all the Slave States. In the eight Cotton States, the whole number was 30,041,991; and in the single State of Massachusetts, 64,820,564, or 34,778,573 more, and in the single State of Ohio, 30,473,407, or 431,416 more, than in all the above eight States.]

Here, then, we come at once to the foundation of a policy and the cause of this struggle. Whether it will or no, it is the inevitable tendency of the Cotton dynasty to be opposed to general intelligence. It is opposed to that, then, without which a republic cannot hope to exist; it is opposed to and denies the whole results of two thousand years of experience. The social system of which the government of to-day is the creature is founded on the principle of a generally diffused intelligence of the people; but if now Cotton be King, as is so boldly asserted, then an influence has obtained control of the government of which the whole policy is in direct antagonism with, the very elementary ideas of that government. History tells us that eight bags of cotton imported into England in 1784 were seized by the custom-house officers at Liverpool, on the ground that so much cotton could not have been produced in these States. In 1860, the cotton-crop was estimated at 3,851,481 bales. Thus King Cotton was born with this government, and has strengthened with its strength; and to-day, almost the creature of destiny, sent to work the failure of our experiment as a people, it has led almost one-half of the Republic to completely ignore, if not to reject, the one principle absolutely essential to that Republic’s continued existence. What two thousand years ago was said of Rome applies to us:–“Those abuses and corruptions which in time destroy a government are sown along with the very seeds of it and both grow up together; and as rust eats away iron, and worms devour wood, and both are a sort of plagues born and bred with the substance they destroy; so with every form and scheme of government that man can invent, some vice or corruption creeps in with the very institution, which grows up along with and at last destroys it.” No wonder, then, that the conflict is irrepressible and hot; for two instinctive principles of self-preservation have met in deadly conflict: the South, with the eager loyalty of the Cavalier, rallies to the standard of King Cotton, while the North, with the earnest devotion of the Puritan, struggles hard in defence of the fundamental principles of its liberties and the ark of its salvation.

Thus over nearly half of the national domain and among a large minority of the citizens of the Republic, the dynasty of Cotton has worked a divergence from original principle. Wherever the sway of King Cotton extends, the people have for the present lost sight of the most essential of our national attributes. They are seeking to found a great and prosperous republic on the cultivation of a single staple product, and not on intelligence universally diffused: consequently they have founded their house upon the sand. Among them, cotton, and not knowledge, is power. When thus reduced to its logical necessities,–brought down, as it were, to the hard pan,–the experience of two thousand years convincingly proves that their experiment as a democracy must fail. It is, then, a question of vital importance to the whole people,–How can this divergence be terminated? Is there any result, any agency, which can destroy this dynasty, and restore us as a people to the firm foundations upon which our experiment was begun? Can the present agitation effect this result? If it could, the country might joyfully bid a long farewell to “the canker of peace,” and “hail the blood-red blossom of war with a heart of fire”; but the sad answer, that it cannot, whether resulting in the successor Democrat or Republican, seems almost too evident for discussion. The present conflict is good so far as it goes, but it touches only the surface of things. It is well to drive the Cotton dynasty from the control of the national government; but the aims of the Republican party can reach no farther, even if it meet with complete success in that. But even that much is doubtful. The danger at this point is one ever recurring. Those Northern politicians, who, in pursuit of their political objects and ambition, unreservedly bind up their destinies with those of the Cotton dynasty,–the Issachars of the North, whose strong backs are bowed to receive any burden,–the men who in the present conflict will see nought but the result of the maudlin sentimentality of fanatics and the empty cries of ambitious demagogues,–are not mistaken in their calculations. While Cotton is King, as it now is, nothing but time or its own insanity can permanently shake its hold on the national policy. In moments of fierce convulsion, as at present, the North, like a restive steed, may contest its supremacy. Let the South, however, bend, not break, before the storm, and history is indeed “a nurse’s tale,” if the final victory does not rest with the party of unity and discipline. While the monopoly of cotton exists with the South, and it is cultivated exclusively by native African labor, the national government will as surely tend, in spite of all momentarily disturbing influences, towards a united South as the needle to the pole. But even if the government were permanently wrested from its control, would the evil be remedied? Surely not. The disease which is sapping the foundations of our liberty is not eradicated because its workings are forced inward. What remedy is that which leaves a false and pernicious policy–a policy in avowed war with the whole spirit of our civilization and in open hostility to our whole experiment as a government–in full working, almost a religious creed with near one-half of our people? As a remedy, this would be but a quack medicine at the best. The cure must be a more thorough one. The remedy we must look for–the only one which can meet the exigencies of the case–must be one which will restore to the South the attributes of a democracy. It must cause our Southern brethren of their own free will to reverse their steps,–to return from their divergence. It must teach them a purer Christianity, a truer philosophy, a sounder economy. It must lead them to new paths of industry. It must gently persuade them that a true national prosperity is not the result of a total abandonment of the community to the culture of one staple. It must make them self-dependent, so that no longer they shall have to import their corn from the Northwest, their lumber-men and hay from Maine, their manufactures from Massachusetts, their minerals from Pennsylvania, and to employ the shipping of the world. Finally, it must make it impossible for one overgrown interest to plunge the whole community unresistingly into frantic rebellion or needless war. They must learn that a well-conditioned state is, so far as may be, perfect in itself,–and, to be perfect in itself, must be intelligent and free. When these lessons are taught to the South, then will their divergence cease, and they will enter upon a new path of enjoyment, prosperity, and permanence. The world at present pays them an annual bribe of some $65,000,000 to learn none of these lessons. Their material interest teaches them to bow down to the shrine of King Cotton. Here, then, lies the remedy with the disease. The prosperity of the country in general, and of the South in particular, demands that the reign of King Cotton should cease,–that his dynasty should be destroyed. This result can be obtained but in one way, and that seemingly ruinous. The present monopoly in their great staple commodity enjoyed by the South must be destroyed, and forever. This result every patriot and well-wisher of the South should ever long for; and yet, by every Southern statesman and philosopher, it is regarded as the one irremediable evil possible to their country. What miserable economy! what feeble foresight! What principle of political economy is better established than that a monopoly is a curse to both producer and consumer? To the first it pays a premium on fraud, sloth, and negligence; and to the second it supplies the worst possible article, in the worst possible way, at the highest possible price. In agriculture, in manufactures, in the professions, and in the arts, it is the greatest bar to improvement with which any branch of industry can be cursed. The South is now showing to the world an example of a great people borne down, crushed to the ground, cursed, by a monopoly. A fertile country of magnificent resources, inhabited by a great race, of inexhaustible energy, is abandoned to one pursuit;–the very riches of their position are as a pestilence to their prosperity. In the presence of their great monopoly, science, art, manufactures, mining, agriculture,–word, all the myriad branches of industry essential to the true prosperity of a state,–wither and die, that sanded cotton may be produced by the most costly of labor. For love of cotton, the very intelligence of the community, the life-blood of their polity, is disregarded and forgotten. Hence it is that the marble and freestone quarries of New England alone are far more important sources of revenue than all the subterranean deposits of the Servile States. Thus the monopoly which is the apparent source of their wealth is in reality their greatest curse; for it blinds them to the fact, that, with nations as with individuals, a healthy competition is the one essential to all true economy and real excellence. Monopolists are always blind, always practise a false economy. Adam Smith tells us that “it is not more than fifty years ago that some of the counties in the neighborhood of London petitioned the Parliament against the extension of the turnpike roads into the remoter counties. Those remoter counties, they pretended, from the cheapness of labor, would be able to sell their grass and corn cheaper in the London market than themselves, and would thereby reduce their rents and ruin their cultivation.” The great economist significantly adds,–“Their rents, however, have risen, and their cultivation has been improved, since that time.” Finally, to-day, would the cultivation of cereals in the Northwest be improved, if made a monopoly? would its inhabitants be richer? would their economy be better? Certainly not. Yet to-day they undersell the world, and, in spite of competition, are far richer, far more contented and prosperous, than their fellow-citizens in the South in the full enjoyment of their boasted dynasty of Cotton.

“Here,” said Wellington, on the Eton football ground, “we won the battle of Waterloo.” Not in angry declamation and wordy debate, in threats of secession and cries for coercion, amid the clash of party-politics, the windy declamation of blatant politicians, or the dirty scramble for office, is the destruction of the dynasty of King Cotton to be looked for. The laws of trade must be the great teacher; and here, as elsewhere, England, the noble nation of shopkeepers, must be the agent for the fulfilment of those laws. It is safe to-day to say, that, through the agency of England, and, in accordance with those laws, under a continuance of the present profit on that staple, the dynasty of King Cotton is doomed,–the monopoly which is now the basis of his power will be a monopoly no more. If saved at all from the blight of this monopoly, the South will be saved, not in New York or Boston, but in Liverpool,–not by the thinkers of America, but by the merchants of England. The real danger of the Cotton dynasty lies not in the hostility of the North, but in the exigencies of the market abroad; they struggle not against the varying fortunes of political warfare, but against the irreversible decrees of Fate. It is the old story of the Rutulian hero; and now, in the very crisis and agony of the battle, while the Cotton King is summoning all his resources and straining every nerve to cope successfully with its more apparent, but less formidable adversary, in the noisy struggle for temporary power, if it would listen for a moment to the voice of reason, and observe the still working of the laws of our being, it, too, might see cause to abandon the contest, with the angry lament, that, not by its opponent was it vanquished, but by the hostility of Jupiter and the gods. The operation of the laws of trade, as touching this monopoly, is beautifully simple. Already the indications are sufficient to tell us, that, under the sure, but silent working of those laws, the very profits of the Southern planter foreshadow the destruction of his monopoly. His dynasty rests upon the theory, that his negro is the only practical agency for the production of his staple. But the supply of African labor is limited, and the increased profit on cotton renders the cost of that labor heavier in its turn,–the value of the negro rising one hundred dollars for every additional cent of profit on a pound of cotton. The increased cost of the labor increases the cost of producing the cotton. The result is clear; and the history of the cotton-trade has twice verified it. The increased profits on the staple tempt competition, and, in the increased cost of production, render it possible. Two courses only are open to the South: either to submit to the destruction of their monopoly, or to try to retain it by a cheaper supply of labor. They now feel the pressure of the dilemma; and hence the cry to reopen the slave-trade. According to the iron policy of their dynasty, they must inundate their country with freshly imported barbarism, or compete with the world. They cry out for more Africans; and to their cry the voice of the civilized world returns its veto. The policy of King Cotton forces them to turn from the daylight of free labor now breaking in Texas. On the other hand, it is not credible that all the land adapted to the growth of the cotton-plant is confined to America; and, at the present value of the commodity, the land adapted to its growth would be sought out and used, though buried now in the jungles of India, the wellnigh impenetrable wildernesses of Africa, the table-lands of South America, or the islands of the Pacific. Already the organized energy of England has pushed its explorations, under Livingstone, Barth, and Clegg, into regions hitherto unknown. Already, under the increased consumption, one-third of the cotton consumed at Liverpool is the product of climes other than our own. Hundreds of miles of railroad in India are opening to the market vast regions to share in our profits and break down our monopoly. To-day, India, for home-consumption and exportation, produces twice the amount of cotton produced in America; and, under the increased profit of late years, the importation into England from that country has risen from 12,324,200 pounds in 1830, to 77,011,839 pounds in 1840, and, finally, to 250,338,144 pounds in 1857, or nearly twenty per cent of the whole amount imported, and more than one-fourth of the whole amount imported from America. The staple there produced does not, indeed, compare in quality with our own; but this remark does not apply to the staple produced in Africa,–the original home of the cotton-plant, as of the negro,–or to that of the cotton-producing islands of the Pacific. The inexhaustible fertility of the valley of the Nile–producing, with a single exception, the finest cotton of the world,–lying on the same latitude as the cotton-producing States of America, and overflowing with unemployed labor–will find its profit, at present prices, in the abandonment of the cultivation of corn, its staple product since the days of Joseph, to come in competition with the monopoly of the South. Peru, Australia, Cuba, Jamaica, and even the Feejee Islands, all are preparing to enter the lists. And, finally, the interior of Africa, the great unknown and unexplored land, which for centuries has baffled the enterprise of travellers, seems about to make known her secrets under the persuasive arguments of trade, and to make her cotton, and not her children, her staple export in the future. In the last fact is to be seen a poetic justice. Africa, outraged, scorned, down-trodden, is, perhaps, to drag down forever the great enslaver of her offspring.

Thus the monopoly of King Cotton hangs upon a thread. Its profits must fall, or it must cease to exist. If subject to no disturbing influence, such as war, which would force the world to look elsewhere for its supply, and thus unnaturally force production elsewhere, the growth of this competition will probably be slow. Another War of 1812, or any long-continued civil convulsions, would force England to look to other sources of supply, and, thus forcing production, would probably be the death-blow of the monopoly. Apart from all disturbing influences arising from the rashness of his own lieges, or other causes, the reign of King Cotton at present prices may be expected to continue some ten years longer. For so long, then, this disturbing influence may be looked for in American politics; and then we may hope that this tremendous material influence, become subject, like others, to the laws of trade and competition, will cease to threaten our liberties by silently sapping their very foundation. As in the course of years competition gradually increases, the effect of this competition on the South will probably be most beneficial. The change from monopoly to competition, distributed over many years, will come with no sudden and destructive shock, but will take place imperceptibly. The fall of the dynasty will be gradual; and with the dynasty must fall its policy. Its fruits must be eradicated by time. Under the healing influence of time, the South, still young and energetic, ceasing to think of one thing alone, will quickly turn its attention to many. Education will be more sought for, as the policy which resisted it, and made its diffusion impossible, ceases to exist. With the growth of other branches of industry, labor will become respectable and profitable, and laborers will flock to the country; and a new, a purer, and more prosperous future will open upon the entire Republic. Perhaps, also, it may in time be discovered that even slave-labor is most profitable when most intelligent and best rewarded,–that the present mode of growing cotton is the most wasteful and extravagant, and one not bearing competition. Thus even the African may reap benefit from the result, and in his increased self-respect and intelligence may be found the real prosperity of the master. And thus the peaceful laws of trade may do the work which agitation has attempted in vain. Sweet concord may come from this dark chaos, and the world receive another proof, that material interest, well understood, is not in conflict, but in beautiful unison with general morality, all-pervading intelligence, and the precepts of Christianity. Under these influences, too, the very supply of cotton will probably be immensely increased. Its cultivation, like the cultivation of their staple products by the English counties mentioned by Smith, will not languish, but flourish, under the influence of healthy competition.–These views, though simply the apparently legitimate result of principle and experience, are by no means unsupported by authority. They are the same results arrived at from the reflections of the most unprejudiced of observers. A shrewd Northern gentleman, who has more recently and thoroughly than any other writer travelled through the Southern States, in the final summary of his observations thus covers all the positions here taken. “My conclusion,” says Mr. Olmsted, “is this,–that there is no physical obstacle in the way of our country’s supplying ten bales of cotton where it now does one. All that is necessary for this purpose is to direct to the cotton-producing region an adequate number of laborers, either black or white, or both. No amalgamation, no association on equality, no violent disruption of present relations is necessary. It is necessary that there should be more objects of industry, more varied enterprises, more general intelligence among the people,–and, especially, that they should become, or should desire to become, richer, more comfortable, than they are.”

It is not pleasant to turn from this, and view the reverse of the picture. But, unless our Southern brethren, in obedience to some great law of trade or morals, return from their divergence,–if, still being a republic in form, the South close her ears to the great truth, that education is democracy’s first law of self-preservation,–if the dynasty of King Cotton, unshaken by present indications, should continue indefinitely, and still the South should bow itself down as now before its throne,–it requires no gift of prophecy to read her future. As you sow, so shall you reap; and communities, like individuals, who sow the wind, must, in the fulness of time, look to reap the whirlwind. The Constitution of our Federal Union guaranties to each member composing it a republican form of government; but no constitution can guaranty that universal intelligence of the people without which, soon or late, a republican government must become, not only a form, but a mockery. Under the Cotton dynasty, the South has undoubtedly lost sight of this great principle; and unless she return and bind herself closely to it, her fate is fixed. Under the present monopolizing sway of King Cotton,–soon or late, in the Union, or out of the Union,–her government must cease to be republican, and relapse into anarchy, unless previously, abandoning the experiment of democracy in despair, she take refuge in a government of force. The Northern States, the educational communities, have apparently little to fear while they cling closely to the principles inherent in their nature. With the Servile States, or away from them, the experiment of a constitutional republic can apparently be carried on with success through an indefinite lapse of time; but though, with the assistance of an original impetus and custom, they may temporarily drag along their stumbling brethren of the South, the catastrophe is but deferred, not avoided. Out of the Union, the more extreme Southern States–those in which King Cotton has already firmly established his dynasty–are, if we may judge by passing events, ripe for the result. The more Northern have yet a reprieve of fate, as having not yet wholly forgotten the lessons of their origin. The result, however, be it delayed for one year or for one hundred years, can hardly admit of doubt. The emergency which is to try their system may not arise for many years; but passing events warn us that it maybe upon them now. The most philosophical of modern French historians, in describing the latter days of the Roman Empire, tells us that “the higher classes of a nation can communicate virtue and wisdom to the government, if they themselves are virtuous and wise: but they can never give it strength; for strength always comes from below; it always proceeds from the masses.” The Cotton dynasty pretends not only to maintain a government where the masses are slaves, but a republican government where the vast majority of the higher classes are ignorant. On the intelligence of the mass of the whites the South must rely for its republican permanence, as on their arms it must rely for its force; and here again, the words of Sismondi, written of falling Rome, seem already applicable to the South: –“Thus all that class of free cultivators, who more than any other class feel the love of country, who could defend the soil, and who ought to furnish the best soldiers, disappeared almost entirely. The number of small farmers diminished to such a degree, that a rich man, a man of noble family, had often to travel more than ten leagues before falling in with an equal or a neighbor.” The destruction of the republican form of government is, then, almost the necessary catastrophe; but what will follow that catastrophe it is not so easy to foretell. The Republic, thus undermined, will fall; but what shall supply its place? The tendency of decaying republics is to anarchy; and men take refuge from the terrors of anarchy in despotism. The South least of all can indulge in anarchy, as it would at once tend to servile insurrection. They cannot long be torn by civil war, for the same reason. The ever-present, all-pervading fear of the African must force them into some government, and the stronger the better. The social divisions of the South, into the rich and educated whites, the poor and ignorant whites, and the servile class, would seem naturally to point to an aristocratic or constitutional-monarchical form of government. But, in their transition state, difficulties are to be met in all directions; and the well-ordered social distinctions of a constitutional monarchy seem hardly consistent with the time-honored licentious independence and rude equality of Southern society. The reign of King Cotton, however, conducted under the present policy, must inevitably tend to increase and aggravate all the present social tendencies of the Southern system,– all the anti-republican affinities already strongly developed. It makes deeper the chasm dividing the rich and the poor; it increases vastly the ranks of the uneducated; and, finally, while most unnaturally forcing the increase of the already threatening African infusion, it also tends to make the servile condition more unendurable, and its burdens heavier.

The modern Southern politician is the least far-seeing of all our short-sighted classes of American statesmen. In the existence of a nation, a generation should be considered but as a year in the life of man, and a century but as a generation of citizens. Soon or late, in the lives of this generation or of their descendants, in the Union or out of the Union, the servile members of this Confederacy must, under the results of the prolonged dynasty of Cotton, make their election either to purchase their security, like Cuba, by dependence on the strong arm of external force, or they must meet national exigencies, pass through revolutions, and destroy and reconstruct governments, making every movement on the surface of a seething, heaving volcano. All movements of the present, looking only to the forms of government of the master, must be carried on before the face of the slave, and the question of class will ever be complicated by that of caste. What the result of the ever-increasing tendencies of the Cotton dynasty will be it is therefore impossible to more than dream. But is it fair to presume that the immense servile population should thus see upturnings and revolutions, dynasties rising and falling before their eyes, and ever remain quiet and contented? “Nothing,” said Jefferson, “is more surely written in the Book of Fate than that this people must be free.” Fit for freedom at present they are not, and, under the existing policy of the Cotton dynasty, never can be. “Whether under any circumstances they could become so is not here a subject of discussion; but, surely, the day will come when the white caste will wish the experiment had been tried. The argument of the Cotton King against the alleviation of the condition of the African is, that his nature does not admit of his enjoyment of true freedom consistently with the security of the community, and therefore he must have none. But certainly his school has been of the worst. Would not, perhaps, the reflections applied to the case of the French peasants of a century ago apply also to them?” It is not under oppression that we learn how to use freedom. The ordinary sophism by which misrule is defended is, when truly stilted, this: The people must continue in slavery, because slavery has generated in them all the vices of slaves; because they are ignorant, they must remain under a power which has made and which keeps them ignorant; because they have been made ferocious by misgovernment, they must be misgoverned forever. If the system under which they live were so mild and liberal that under its operation they had become humane and enlightened, it would be safe to venture on a change; but, as this system has destroyed morality, and prevented the development of the intellect,–as it has turned men, who might, under different training, have formed a virtuous and happy community, into savage and stupid wild beasts, therefore it ought to last forever. Perhaps the counsellors of King Cotton think that in this case it will; but all history teaches us another lesson. If there be one spark of love for freedom in the nature of the African,–whether it be a love common to him with the man or the beast, the Caucasian or the chimpanzee,–the love of freedom as affording a means of improvement or an opportunity for sloth,–the policy of King Cotton will cause it to work its way out. It is impossible to say how long it will be in so doing, or what weight the broad back of the African will first be made to bear; but, if the spirit exist, some day it must out. This lesson is taught us by the whole recorded history of the world. Moses leading the Children of Israel up out of Egypt,–Spartacus at the gates of Rome,–the Jacquerie in France,–Jack Cade and Wat Tyler in England,–Nana Sahib and the Sepoys in India,–Toussaint l’Ouverture and the Haytiens,–and, finally, the insurrection of Nat Turner in this country, with those in Guiana, Jamaica, and St. Lucia: such examples, running through all history, point the same moral. This last result of the Cotton dynasty may come at any moment after the time shall once have arrived when, throughout any great tract of country, the suppressing force shall temporarily, with all the advantages of mastership, including intelligence and weapons, be unequal to coping with the force suppressed. That time may still be far off. Whether it be or not depends upon questions of government and the events of the chapter of accidents. If the Union should now be dissolved, and civil convulsions should follow, it may soon be upon us. But the superimposed force is yet too great under any circumstances, and the convulsion would probably be but temporary. At present, too, the value of the slave insures him tolerable treatment; but, as numbers increase, this value must diminish. Southern statesmen now assert that in thirty years there will be twelve million slaves in the South; and then, with increased numbers, why should not the philosophy of the sugar-plantation prevail, and it become part of the economy of the Cotton creed, that it is cheaper to work slaves to death and purchase fresh ones than to preserve their usefulness by moderate employment? Then the value of the slave will no longer protect him, and then the end will be nigh. Is this thirty or fifty years off? Perhaps not for a century hence will the policy of King Cotton work its legitimate results, and the volcano at length come to its head and defy all compression.

In one of the stories of the “Arabian Nights” we are told of an Afrite confined by King Solomon in a brazen vessel; and the Sultana tells us, that, during the first century of his confinement, he said in his heart,–“I will enrich whosoever will liberate me”; but no one liberated him. In the second century he said,–“Whosoever will liberate me, I will open to him the treasures of the earth”; but no one liberated him. And four centuries more passed, and he said,–“Whosoever shall liberate me, I will fulfil for him three wishes”; but still no one liberated him. Then despair at his long bondage took possession of his soul, and, in the eighth century, he swore,–“Whosoever shall liberate me, him will I surely slay!” Let the Southern statesmen look to it well that the breaking of the seal which confines our Afrite be not deferred till long bondage has turned his heart, like the heart of the Spirit in the fable, into gall and wormwood; lest, if the breaking of that seal be deferred to the eighth or even the sixth century, it result to our descendants like the breaking of the sixth seal of Revelation,–“And, lo! there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood, and the heaven departed as a scroll, when it is rolled together; and the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every free man hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us, for the great day of wrath is come'” On that day, at least, will end the reign of King Cotton.

* * * * *



It is a sultry morning in October, and we are steaming in a small Sardinian boat from Leghorn towards Naples. This city has fallen into the power of Garibaldi, who is concentrating his forces before Capua, while the King of Sardinia bears down with a goodly army from the North.

The first object of special interest which comes into view, after we pass the island of Elba, is Gaeta. Though care is taken not to run near enough to invite a chase from the Neapolitan frigates, we are yet able to obtain a distinct view of the last stronghold–the jumping-off place, as we hope it will prove–of Francis II. The white walls of the fortress rise grimly out of the sea, touching the land only upon one side, and looking as though they might task well the resources of modern warfare to reduce them. We soon make out the smoke of four or five steamers, which we suppose to be armed vessels, heading towards Gaeta.

About two o’clock we glide into the far-famed Bay of Naples, in company with the cool sea-breeze which there each afternoon sends to refresh the heated shore. As we swing round to our moorings, we pass numerous line-of-battle-ships and frigates bearing the flags of England, France, and Sardinia, but look in vain and with disappointment for the star-spangled banner. A single floating representative of American nationality is obliged to divide the favor of her presence between the ports of both the Two Sicilies, and at this time she is at the island portion of the kingdom.

Our craft is at once beset by boats, their owners pushing, vociferating, and chaffering for fares, as though Mammon, and not Moloch, were the ruling spirit. Together with a chance companion of the voyage, Signor Alvigini, _Intendente_ of Genoa, and his party, we are soon in the hands of the _commissionnaire_ of the Hotel de Rome. As we land, our passports are received by the police of Victor Emmanuel, who have replaced those of the late _regime_.

As we enter our carriage, we expect to see streets filled with crowds of turbulent people, or dotted with knots of persons conversing ominously in suppressed tones; and streets deserted, with shops closed; and streets barricaded. But in this matter we are agreeably disappointed. The shops are all open, the street venders are quietly tending their tables, people go about their ordinary affairs, and wear their commonplace, every-day look. The only difference apparent to the eye between the existing state of things and that which formerly obtained is, that there are few street brawls and robberies, though every one goes armed,–that the uniform of the soldiers of Francis II. is replaced by the dark gray dress of the National Guard,–and that the Hag of the Tyrant King no longer waves over the castle-prison of Sant’ Elmo. Garibaldi, on leaving Naples, had formally confided the city to the National Guard; and they had nobly sustained the trust reposed in them.

A letter of introduction to General Orsini, brought safely with us, though not without adventure, through the Austrian dominions, gains a courteous reception from General Turr, chief aide-de-camp to the “Dictator,” and a pass to the camp. General Turr, an Hungarian refugee, is a person of distinguished appearance, not a little heightened by his peculiar dress, which consists of the usual Garibaldian uniform partially covered with a white military cloak, which hangs gracefully over his elegant figure.

After a brief, but pleasant, interview with this gentleman, we climb to the Castle of Sant’ Elmo, built on a high eminence commanding the town, and with its guns mounted, not so as to defend it against an invading enemy, but to hurl destruction on the devoted subjects of the Bourbon. We are told that the people Lad set their hearts on seeing this fortress, which they look upon as a standing menace, razed to the ground, and its site covered with peaceful dwellings. And it is not without regret that we have since learned that Victor Emmanuel has thought it inexpedient to comply with this wish. Nor, in our ignorance, can we divest ourselves entirely of the belief that it would have been a wise as well as conciliatory policy to do so.

We are politely shown over the castle by one of the National Guard, who hold it in charge, and see lounging upon one of its terraces, carefully guarded, but kindly allowed all practicable liberty, several officers of the late power, prisoners where they had formerly held despotic sway. We descend into the now empty dungeons, dark and noisome as they have been described, where victims of political accusation or suspicion have pined for years in dreary solitude. It produces a marked sensation in the minds of our Italian companions in this sad tour of inspection, when we tell them, through our guide Antonio, that these cells are the counterpart of the dungeons of the condemned in the prison of the Doges of Venice, as we had seen them a few days before,–save that the latter were better, in their day, in so far as in them the cold stone was originally lined and concealed by wooden casings, while in those before us the helpless prisoner in his gropings could touch only the hard rock, significant of the relentless despotism which enchained him. The walls are covered with the inscriptions of former tenants. In One place we discover a long line of marks in groups of fives,–like the tallies of our boyish sports,–but here used for how different a purpose! Were these the records of days, or weeks, or months? The only furniture of the cells is a raised platform of wood, the sole bed of the miserable inmate. The Italian visitors, before leaving, childishly vent their useless rage at the sight of these places of confinement, by breaking to pieces the windows and shutters, and scattering their fragments on the floor.

We have returned from Sant’ Elmo, and, evening having arrived, are sitting in the smoking-room of the Hotel de Grande Bretagne, conversing with one of the English Volunteers, when our friend General J–n of the British Army, one of the lookers-on in Naples, comes in, having just returned from “the front.” He brings the news of a smart skirmish which has taken place during the day; of the English “Excursionists” being ordered out in advance; of their rushing with alacrity into the thickest of the fight, and bravely sustaining the conflict,–being, indeed, with difficulty withheld by their officers from needlessly exposing themselves. But this inspiring news is tinged with sadness. One of their number, well known and much beloved, had fallen, killed instantly by a bullet through the head. Military ardor, aroused by the report of brave deeds, is for a few moments held in abeyance by grief, and then rekindled by the desire of vengeance. Hot blood is up, and the prevailing feeling is a longing for a renewal of the fight. We are told, if we wish to see an action, to go to “the front” to-morrow. Accordingly we decide to be there.

The following day, our faithful _commissionnaire_, Antonio, places us in a carriage drawn by a powerful pair of horses, and headed for the Garibaldian camp. A hamper of provisions is not forgotten, and before starting we cause Antonio to double the supplies: we have a presentiment that we may find with whom to share them.

There are twelve miles before us to the nearest point in the camp, which is Caserta. Our chief object being to see the hero of Italy, if we do not find him at Caserta, we shall push on four miles farther, to Santa Maria; and, missing him there, ride still another four miles to Sant’ Angelo, where rests the extreme right of the army over against Capua.

As we ride over the broad and level road from Naples to Caserta, bordered with lines of trees through its entire length, we are surprised to see not only husbandmen quietly tilling the fields, but laborers engaged in public works upon the highway, as if in the employ of a long established authority, and making it difficult to believe that we are in the midst of civil war, and under a provisional government of a few weeks’ standing. But this and kindred wonders are fruits of the spell wrought by Garibaldi, who wove the most discordant elements into harmony, and made hostile factions work together for the common good, for the sake of the love they bore to him.

About mid-day we arrive at a redoubt which covers a part of the road, leaving barely enough space for one vehicle to pass. We are of course stopped, but are courteously received by the officer of the guard. We show our pass from General Turr, giving us permission “freely to traverse all parts of the camp,” and being told to drive on, find ourselves within the lines. As we proceed, we see laborers busily engaged throwing up breastworks, soldiers reposing beneath the trees, and on every side the paraphernalia of war.

Garibaldi is not here, nor do we find him at Santa Maria. So we prolong our ride to the twentieth mile by driving our reeking, but still vigorous horses to Sant’ Angelo.

We are now in sight of Capua, where Francis II. is shut up with a strong garrison. The place is a compact walled town, crowned by the dome of a large and handsome church, and situated in a plain by the side of the Volturno. Though, contrary to expectation, there is no firing to-day, we see all about us the havoc of previous cannonadings. The houses we pass are riddled with round shot thrown by the besieged, and the ground is strewn with the limbs of trees severed by iron missiles. But where is Garibaldi? No one knows. Yonder, however, is a lofty hill, and upon its summit we descry three or four persons. It is there, we are told, that the Commander-in-Chief goes to observe the enemy, and among the forms we see is very probably the one we seek.

We have just got into our carriage again, and are debating as to whither we shall go next, when we are addressed from the road-side in English. There, dressed in the red shirt, are three young men, all not far from twenty years of age, members of the British regiment of “Excursionists.” They are out foraging for their mess, and ask a ride with us to Santa Maria. We are only too glad of their company; and off we start, a carriage-full. Then commences a running fire of question and response. We find the society of our companions a valuable acquisition. They are from London,–young men of education, and full of enthusiasm for the cause of Italian liberty. One of them is a connection of our distinguished countrywoman, Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe. Before going to Santa Maria, they insist on doing the honors, and showing the objects of interest the vicinity. So they take us to their barrack, a large farm-house, and thence to “the front.” To the latter spot our coachman declines driving, as his horses are not bullet-proof, and the enemy is not warranted to abstain from firing during our visit. So, proceeding on foot, we reach a low breastwork of sand-bags, with an orchard in advance of it. Here, our companions tell us, was the scene of yesterday’s skirmish, in which they took an active part. The enemy had thrown out a detachment of sharp-shooters, who had entered the wood, and approached the breastwork. A battalion of the English Volunteers was ordered up. As they marched eagerly forwards, a body of Piedmontese, stationed a little from the road, shouted, “_Vivano gl’ Inglesi! Vivano gl’ Inglesi!_” At the breastworks where we are standing, the word was given to break ranks, and skirmish. Instantly they sprang over the wall, and took position behind the trees, to shoot “wherever they saw a head.” Each soldier had his “covering man,”–a comrade stationed about ten feet behind him, whose duty it was to keep his own piece charged ready to kill any of the enemy who might attempt to pick off the leading man while the latter was loading. One of my young friends had the hammer of his rifle shot off in his hand. He kept his position till another weapon was passed out to him. The action lasted till evening, when the enemy drew off, there being various and uncertain reports as to their loss. Our British cousins had some ten wounded, besides the one killed. Fighting royalists, we will mention here, was no fancy-work about that time, as the Neapolitans had an ugly trick of extinguishing the eyes of their prisoners, and then putting their victims to death.

We return to our carriage, drive into a sheltered spot, and give the word of command to Antonio to open the hamper and deploy his supplies, when hungry soldiers vie with the ravenous traveller in a knife-and-fork skirmish. No fault was found with the _cuisine_ of the Hotel de Grande Bretagne.

The rations disposed of, we set off again for Santa Maria. Arrived at the village, at the request of our companions, we visit with them a hospital, to see one of their comrades, wounded in the action of the preceding day, and, as we are known to profess the healing art, to give our opinion as to his condition. We enter a large court-yard surrounded with farm-buildings, one wing of which is devoted to hospital purposes. We find the wards clean and well ventilated, and wearing the look of being well attended. This favorable condition is owing in great measure to the interposition and supervision of several ladies, among whom are specially mentioned the two daughters of an English clergyman, without omitting the name of the Countess della Torres. The wounded comrade of our friends had been struck by a ball, which had not been readied by the probe, and was supposed to have entered the lung. The poor young fellow draws his rapid breath with much pain, but is full of pluck, and meets the encouraging assurances of his friends with a smile and words of fortitude. Some time afterwards we learn that he is convalescent, though in a disabled state.

It now becomes necessary to say our mutual farewells, which we do as cordially as though we had been old friends. We go our respective ways, to meet once more in Italy, and to renew our acquaintance again in London, where we subsequently spend a pleasant evening together by a cheerful English fireside.

Scarcely have we parted with these new-found friends of kindred blood and common language, when we are provided with another companion. An Italian officer asks a seat with us to Caserta. Our letter of introduction to General Orsini being shown to him, he volunteers to assist us in attaining our object, that of seeing the hero of Italy. At five, we are before the palace of Caserta, now a barrack, and the head-quarters of the Commander-in-Chief. The building is one of great size and beauty of architecture. A lofty arch, sustained by elegant and massive marble pillars, bisects the structure, and on either side one may pass from the archway into open areas of spacious dimensions, from which lead passages to the various offices. We approach a very splendid marble staircase leading to the state apartments. A sentinel forbids us to pass. This is, then, perhaps, the part of the building occupied by the Commander-in-Chief. Not so. The state apartments are unoccupied, and are kept sacred from intrusion, as the property of the nation to which they are to belong. Garibaldi’s apartments are among the humblest in the palace. We go on to the end of the archway, and see, stretching as far as the eye can reach, the Royal Drive, leading through a fine avenue of trees, and reminding us of the “Long Walk” at Windsor Castle. Retracing our steps, and crossing one of the court-yards, we ascend a modest staircase, and are in the antechamber of the apartments of the Commander-in-Chief. There are sentinels at the outer door, others at the first landing, and a guard of honor, armed with halberds, in the antechamber. Our courteous companion, by virtue of his official rank, has passed us without difficulty by the sentries, and quits us to discharge the duty which brought him to Caserta.

We are now eagerly expectant of the arrival of him whose face we have so long sought The hour is at hand when he joins his military family at an unostentatious and very frugal dinner. In about half an hour there is a sudden cessation in the hum of conversation, the guard is ordered to stand to arms, and in a moment more, amid profound silence, Garibaldi has passed through the antechamber, leaving the place, as it were, pervaded by his presence. We had beheld an erect form, of rather low stature, but broad and compact, a lofty brow, a composed and thoughtful face, with decision and reserved force depicted on every line of it. In the mien and carriage we had seen realized all that we had read and heard of the air of one born to command.

Our hero wore the characteristic red shirt and gray trousers, and, thrown over them, a short gray cloak faced with red. When without the cloak, there might be seen, hanging upon the back, and fastened around the throat, the party-colored kerchief usually appertaining to priestly vestments.

Returning to Naples, and sitting that night at our window, with the most beautiful of bays before us, we treasure up for perpetual recollection the picture of Garibaldi at head-quarters.


It is Sunday, the 21st of October. We have to-day observed the people, in the worst quarters of the city as well as in the best, casting their ballots in an orderly and quiet manner, under the supervision of the National Guard, for Victor Emmanuel as their ruler. To-morrow we have set apart for exploring Pompeii, little dreaming what awaits us there. Our friend, General J–n, of the British Army, learning that there is no likelihood of active operations at “the front,” proposes to join us in our excursion.

We are seated in the restaurant at the foot of the acclivity which leads to the exhumed city, when suddenly Antonio appears and exclaims, “Garibaldi!” We look in the direction he indicates, and, in an avenue leading from the railway, we behold the Patriot-Soldier of Italy advancing toward us, accompanied by the Countess Pallavicini, the wife of the Prodictator of Naples, and attended by General Turr, with several others of his staff. We go out to meet them. General J–n, a warm admirer of Garibaldi, gives him a cordial greeting, and presents us as an American. We say a few words expressive of the sympathy entertained by the American people for the cause of Italy and its apostle. He whom we thus address, in his reply, professes his happiness in enjoying the good wishes of Americans, and, gracefully turning to our friend, adds, “I am grateful also for the sympathy of the English.” The party then pass on, and we are left with the glowing thought that we have grasped the hand of Garibaldi.

Half an hour later, we are absorbed in examining one of the structures of what was once Pompeii, when suddenly we hear martial music. We follow the direction of the sound, and presently find ourselves in the ancient forum. In the centre of the inclosure is a military band playing the “Hymn of Garibaldi”; while at its northern extremity, standing, facing us, between the columns of the temple of Jupiter, with full effect given to the majesty of his bearing, is Garibaldi. Moved by the strikingly contrasting associations of the time and the place, we turn to General J–n, saying, “Behold around us the symbols of the death of Italy, and there the harbinger of its resurrection.” Our companion, fired with a like enthusiasm, immediately advances to the base of the temple, and, removing his hat, repeats the words in the presence of those there assembled.


Once again we look in the eye of this wonderful man, and take him by the hand. This time it is at “the front.” On Saturday, the 27th of October, we are preparing to leave Naples for Rome by the afternoon boat, when we receive a message from General J–n that the bombardment of Capua is to begin on the following day at ten o’clock, and inviting us to join his party to the camp. Accordingly, postponing our departure for the North, we get together a few surgical instruments, and take a military train upon the railway in the afternoon for the field of action.

Our party consists of General J–n, General W., of Virginia, Captain G., a Scotch officer serving in Italy, and ourself. Arrived at Caserta, Captain G., showing military despatches, is provided with a carriage, in which we all drive to the advanced post at Sant’ Angelo. We reach this place at about eight o’clock, when we ride and walk through the camp, which presents a most picturesque aspect, illuminated as it is by a brilliant moon. We see clusters of white tents, with now and then the general silence broken by the sound of singing wafted to us from among them,–here and there tired soldiers lying asleep on the ground, covered with their cloaks,–horses picketed in the fields,–camp-fires burning brightly in various directions; while all seems to indicate the profound repose of men preparing for serious work on the morrow. We pass and repass a bridge, a short time before thrown across the Volturno. A portion of the structure has broken down; but our English friends congratulate themselves that the part built by their compatriots has stood firm. We exchange greetings with Colonel Bourdonne, who is on duty here for the night, superintending the repairs of the bridge, and who kindly consigns us to his quarters.

Arrived at the farm-house where Colonel Bourdonne has established himself, and using his name, we are received with the utmost attention by the servants. The only room at their disposal, fortunately a large one, they soon arrange for our accommodation. To General J—n, the senior of the party, is assigned the only bed; an Italian officer occupies a sofa; while General W., Captain G., and ourself are ranged, “all in a row,” on bags of straw placed upon the floor. Of the merriment, prolonged far into the night, and making the house resound with peals of laughter,–not at all to the benefit, we fear, of several wounded officers in a neighboring room,–we may not write.

Sunday is a warm, clear, summer-like day, and our party climb the principal eminence of Sant’ Angelo to witness the expected bombardment. We reach the summit at ten minutes before ten, the hour announced for opening fire. We find several officers assembled there,–among them General H., of Virginia. Low tone of conversation and a restrained demeanor are impressed on all; for, a few paces off, conferring with two or three confidential aids, is the man whose very presence is dignity,–Garibaldi.

Casting our eye over the field, we cannot realize that there are such hosts of men under arms about us, till a military guide by our side points out their distribution to us.

“Look there!” says General H., pointing to an orchard beneath. “Under those trees they are swarming thick as bees. There are ten thousand men, at least, in that spot alone.”

With an opera-glass we can distinctly scan the walls of Capua, and observe that they are not yet manned. But the besieged are throwing out troops by thousands into the field before our lines. We remark one large body drawn up in the shelter of the shadow cast by a large building. Every now and then, from out this shadow, a piercing ray of light is shot, reflected from the helm or sword-case of the commanding officer, who is gallantly riding up and down before his men, and probably haranguing them in preparation for the expected conflict. All these things strike the attention with a force and meaning far different from the impression produced by the holiday pageantry of mimic war.

The Commander-in-Chief is now disengaged, and our party approach him to pay their respects. By the advice of General J—n, we proffer our medical services for the day; and we receive a pressure of the hand, a genial look, and a bind acknowledgment of the offer. But we are told there will be no general action to-day. Our report of these words, as we rejoin our companions, is the first intimation given that the bombardment is deferred. But, though, there is some disappointment, their surprise is not extreme. For Garibaldi never informs even his nearest aide-de-camp what he is about to do. In fact, he quaintly says, “If his shirt knew his plans, he would take it off and burn it.” Some half-hour later, having descended from the eminence, we take our last look of Garibaldi. He has retired with a single servant to a sequestered place upon the mount, whither he daily resorts, and where his mid-day repast is brought to him. Here he spends an hour or two secure from interruption. What thoughts he ponders in his solitude the reader may perhaps conjecture as well as his most intimate friend. But for us, with the holy associations of a very high mountain before our mind, we can but trust that a prayer, “uttered or unexpressed,” invokes the divine blessing upon the work to which Garibaldi devotes himself,–the political salvation of his country.

* * * * *



Every day, and twice a day, came Mr. Sampson,–though I have not said much about it; and now it was only a week before our marriage. This evening he came in very weary with his day’s work,–getting a wretched man off from hanging, who probably deserved it richly. (It is said, women are always for hanging: and that is very likely. I remember, when there had been a terrible murder in our parlors, as it were, and it was doubtful for some time whether the murderer would be convicted, Mrs. Harris said, plaintively, “Oh, do hang somebody!”) Mr. Sampson did not think so, apparently, but sat on the sofa by the window, dull and abstracted.

If I had been his wife, I should have done as I always do now in such a case: walked up to him, settled the sofa-cushion, and said,–“Here, now! lie down, and don’t speak a word for two hours. Meantime I will tell you who has been here, and everything.” Thus I should rest and divert him by idle chatter, bathing his tired brain with good Cologne; and if, in the middle of my best story and funniest joke, he fairly dropped off to sleep, I should just fan him softly, keep the flies away, say in my heart, “Bless him! there he goes! hands couldn’t mend him!”–and then look at him with as much more pride and satisfaction than, at any other common wide-awake face as it is possible to conceive.

However, not being married, and having a whole week more to be silly in, I was both silly and suspicious. This was partly his fault. He was reserved, naturally and habitually; and as he didn’t tell me he was tired and soul-weary, I never thought of that. Instead, as he sat on the sofa, I took a long string of knitting-work and seated myself across the room,–partly so that he might come to me, where there was a good seat. Then, as he did not cross the room, but still sat quietly on the sofa, I began to wonder and suspect. Did he work too hard? Did he dread undertaking matrimony? Did he wish he could get off? Why did he not come and speak to me? What had I done? Nothing! Nothing!

Here Laura came in to say she was going to Mrs. Harris’s to get the newest news about sleeves. Mrs. Harris for sleeves; Mrs. Gore for bonnets; and for housekeeping, recipes, and all that, who but Mrs. Parker, who knew that, and a hundred other things? Many-sided are we all: talking sentiment with this one, housekeeping with that, and to a third saying what wild horses would not tear from us to the two first!

Laura went. And presently he said, wearily, but _I_ thought drearily,–

“Delphine, are you all ready to be married?”

The blood flushed from my heart to my forehead and back again. So, then, he thought I was ready and waiting to drop like a ripe plum into his mouth, without his asking me! Am I ready, indeed? And suppose I am not? Perhaps I, too, may have my misgivings. A woman’s place is not a sinecure. Troubles, annoyances, as the sparks fly upward! Buttons to begin with, and everything to end with! What did Mrs. Hemans say, poor woman?

“Her lot is on you! silent tears to weep, And patient smiles to wear through suffering’s hour, And sumless riches from affection’s deep To pour on”–something–“a wasted shower!”

Yes, wasted, indeed! I hadn’t answered a word to his question.

“It seems warm in this room,” said he again, languidly; “shall we walk on the piazza?”

“I think not,” I answered, curtly; “I am not warm.”

Even that, did not bring him to me. He still leaned his head on his hand for a minute or two, and then rose from the sofa and sat by the window, looking at the western sky, where the sun had long gone down. I could see his profile against the outer light, however, and it did not look placid. His brow was knit and mouth compressed. So, then, it was all very likely!

Having set out on my race of suspecting, my steeds did not lag. They were winged already, and I goaded them continually with memories. There was nothing I did not think of or accuse him of,–especially, the last and worst sin of breaking off our engagement at the eleventh hour!–and I, who had suffered silently, secretly, untold torments about that name of his,–nobody, no man, could ever guess how keenly, because no man can ever feel as a woman does about such things! Men,–they would as soon marry Tabitha as Juliana. They could call her “Wife.” It made no matter to them. What did any man care, provided she chronicled small beer, whether she had taste, feeling, sentiment, anything? Here I was wrong, as most passionate people are at some time in their lives. Some men do care.

At the moment I had reached the top-most pinnacle of my wrath, and was darting lightnings on all mankind, Polly showed in Lieutenant Herbert, with his book of promised engravings.

With a natural revulsion of temper, I descended rapidly from my pinnacle, and, stepping half-way across the room, met the Lieutenant with unusual cordiality. Mr. Sampson bowed slightly and sat still. I drew two chairs towards the centre-table, lighted the argand, and seated myself with the young officer to examine and admire the beautiful forms in which the gifted artist has clothed the words rather than the thoughts of the writer,–out of the coarse real, lifting the scenes into the sweet ideal,–and out of the commonest, rudest New-England life, bringing the purest and most charming idyllic song. We did not say this.

I looked across at the window, where still sat the figure, motionless. Not a word from him. I looked at Lieutenant Herbert. He was really very handsome, with an imperial brow, and roseate lips like a girl’s. Somehow he made me think of Claverhouse,–so feminine in feature, so martial in action! Then he talked,–talked really quite well,–reflected my own ideas in an animated and eloquent manner.

Why it was,–whether Herbert suspected we had had a lovers’ quarrel,–or whether his vanity was flattered at my attention to him, which was entirely unusual,–or whether my own excited, nervous condition led me to express the most joyous life and good-humor, and shut down all my angry sorrow and indignant suspicions, while I smiled and danced over their sepulchre,–however it was, I know not,–but a new sparkle came into the blue eyes of the young militaire. He was positively entertaining. Conscious that he was talking well, he talked better. He recited poetry; he was even witty, or seemed so. With the magnetism of cordial sympathy, I called out from his memory treasures new and old. He became not only animated, but devoted.

All this time the figure at the window sat calm and composed. It was intensely, madly provoking. He was so very sure of me, it appeared, he would not take the trouble to enter the lists to shiver a lance with this elegant young man with the beautiful name, the beautiful lips, and with, for the last half-hour at least, the beautiful tongue. He would not trouble himself to entertain his future wife. He would not trouble himself even to speak. Very well! Very well indeed! Did the Lieutenant like music? If “he” did not care a jot for me, perhaps others did. My heart beat very fast now; my cheeks burned, and my lips were parched. A glass of water restored me to calmness, and I sat at the piano. Herbert turned over the music, while I rattled off whatever came to my fingers’ ends,–I did not mind or know what. It was very fine, I dare say. He whispered that it was “so beautiful!”–and I answered nothing, but kept on playing, playing, playing, as the little girl in the Danish story keeps on dancing, dancing, dancing, with the fairy red shoes on. Should I play on forever? In the church,–out of it,–up the street,–down the street,–out in the fields,–under the trees,–by the wood,–by the water,–in cathedrals,–I heard something murmuring,–something softly, softly in my ear. Still I played on and on, and still something murmured softly, softly in my ear. I looked at the window. The head was leaned down, and resting on both arms. Fast asleep, probably. Then I played louder, and faster, and wilder.

Then, for the first time, as deaf persons are said to hear well in the noise of a crowded street, or in a rail-car, so did I hear in the musical tumult, for the first time, the words of Herbert. They had been whispered, and I had heard, but not perceived them, till this moment.

I turned towards him, looked him full in the face, and dropped both hands into my lap. Well might I be astonished! He started and blushed violently, but said nothing. As for me, I was never more calm in my life. In the face of a real mistake, all imaginary ones fell to the ground, motionless as so many men of straw. With an instinct that went