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Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 10, No. 57, July, 1862 by Various

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should have the preference for all dangerous and honorable service in
the order of their seniority, with a distinction in favor of those
whose infirmities might render their lives less worth the keeping.
Methinks there would be no more Bull Runs; a warrior with gout in his
toe, or rheumatism in his joints, or with one foot in the grave, would
make a sorry fugitive!

On this admirable system, the productive part of the population would
be undisturbed even by the bloodiest war; and, best of all, those
thousands upon thousands of our Northern girls, whose proper mates will
perish in camp-hospitals or on Southern battle-fields, would avoid
their doom of forlorn old-maidenhood. But, no doubt, the plan will be
pooh-poohed down by the War Department; though it could scarcely be
more disastrous than the one on which we began the war, when a young
army was struck with paralysis through the age of its commander.

The waters around Fortress Monroe were thronged with a gallant array of
ships of war and transports, wearing the Union flag,--"Old Glory," as I
hear it called in these days. A little withdrawn from our national
fleet lay two French frigates, and, in another direction, an English
sloop, under that banner which always makes itself visible, like a red
portent in the air, wherever there is strife. In pursuance of our
official duty, (which had no ascertainable limits,) we went on board
the flag-ship, and were shown over every part of her, and down into her
depths, inspecting her gallant crew, her powerful armament, her mighty
engines, and her furnaces, where the fires are always kept burning, as
well at midnight as at noon, so that it would require only five minutes
to put the vessel under full steam. This vigilance has been felt
necessary ever since the Merrimack made that terrible dash from
Norfolk. Splendid as she is, however, and provided with all but the
very latest improvements in naval armament, the Minnesota belongs to a
class of vessels that will be built no more, nor ever fight another
battle,--being as much a thing of the past as any of the ships of Queen
Elizabeth's time, which grappled with the galleons of the Spanish

On her quarter-deck, an elderly flag-officer was pacing to and fro,
with a self-conscious dignity to which a touch of the gout or
rheumatism perhaps contributed a little additional stiffness. He seemed
to be a gallant gentleman, but of the old, slow, and pompous school of
naval worthies, who have grown up amid rules, forms, and etiquette
which were adopted full-blown from the British navy into ours, and are
somewhat too cumbrous for the quick spirit of to-day. This order of
nautical heroes will probably go down, along with the ships in which
they fought valorously and strutted most intolerably. How can an
admiral condescend to go to sea in an iron pot? What space and
elbow-room can be found for quarter-deck dignity in the cramped lookout
of the Monitor, or even in the twenty-feet diameter of her cheese-box?
All the pomp and splendor of naval warfare are gone by. Henceforth
there must come up a race of enginemen and smoke-blackened cannoneers,
who will hammer away at their enemies under the direction of a single
pair of eyes; and even heroism--so deadly a gripe is Science laying on
our noble possibilities--will become a quality of very minor
importance, when its possessor cannot break through the iron crust of
his own armament and give the world a glimpse of it.

At no great distance from the Minnesota lay the strangest-looking
craft I ever saw. It was a platform of iron, so nearly on a level with
the water that the swash of the waves broke over it, under the impulse
of a very moderate breeze; and on this platform was raised a circular
structure, likewise of iron, and rather broad and capacious, but of no
great height. It could not be called a vessel at all; it was a
machine,--and I have seen one of somewhat similar appearance employed
in cleaning out the docks; or, for lack of a better similitude, it
looked like a gigantic rat-trap. It was ugly, questionable, suspicious,
evidently mischievous,--nay, I will allow myself to call it devilish;
for this was the new war-fiend, destined, along with others of the
same breed, to annihilate whole navies and batter down old supremacies.
The wooden walls of Old England cease to exist, and a whole history of
naval renown reaches its period, now that the Monitor comes smoking
into view; while the billows dash over what seems her deck, and storms
bury even her turret in green water, as she burrows and snorts along,
oftener under the surface than above. The singularity of the object has
betrayed me into a more ambitious vein of description than I often
indulge; and, after all, I might as well have contented myself with
simply saying that she looked very queer.

Going on board, we were surprised at the extent and convenience of her
interior accommodations. There is a spacious ward-room, nine or ten
feet in height, besides a private cabin for the commander, and
sleeping accommodations on an ample scale; the whole well lighted and
ventilated, though beneath the surface of the water. Forward, or aft,
(for it is impossible to tell stem from stern,) the crew are relatively
quite as well provided for as the officers. It was like finding a
palace, with all its conveniences, under the sea. The inaccessibility,
the apparent impregnability, of this submerged iron fortress are most
satisfactory; the officers and crew get down through a little hole in
the deck, hermetically seal themselves, and go below; and until they
see fit to reappear, there would seem to be no power given to man
whereby they can be brought to light. A storm of cannon-shot damages
them no more than a handful of dried peas. We saw the shot-marks made
by the great artillery of the Merrimack on the outer casing of the iron
tower; they were about the breadth and depth of shallow saucers, almost
imperceptible dents, with no corresponding bulge on the interior
surface. In fact, the thing looked altogether too safe; though it may
not prove quite an agreeable predicament to be thus boxed up in
impenetrable iron, with the possibility, one would imagine, of being
sent to the bottom of the sea, and, even there, not drowned, but
stifled. Nothing, however, can exceed the confidence of the officers in
this new craft. It was pleasant to see their benign exultation in her
powers of mischief, and the delight with which they exhibited the
circumvolutory movement of the tower, the quick thrusting forth of the
immense guns to deliver their ponderous missiles, and then the
immediate recoil, and the security behind the closed port-holes. Yet
even this will not long be the last and most terrible improvement in
the science of war. Already we hear of vessels the armament of which is
to act entirely beneath the surface of the water; so that, with no
other external symptoms than a great bubbling and foaming, and gush of
smoke, and belch of smothered thunder out of the yeasty waves, there
shall be a deadly fight going on below,--and, by-and-by, a sucking
whirlpool, as one of the ships goes down.

The Monitor was certainly an object of great interest; but on our way
to Newport News, whither we next went, we saw a spectacle that
affected us with far profounder emotion. It was the sight of the few
sticks that are left of the frigate Congress, stranded near the
shore,--and still more, the masts of the Cumberland rising midway out
of the water, with a tattered rag of a pennant fluttering from one of
them. The invisible hull of the latter ship seems to be careened over,
so that the three masts stand slantwise; the rigging looks quite
unimpaired, except that a few ropes dangle loosely from the yards. The
flag (which never was struck, thank Heaven!) is entirely hidden under
the waters of the bay, but is still doubtless waving in its old place,
although it floats to and fro with the swell and reflux of the tide,
instead of rustling on the breeze. A remnant of the dead crew still man
the sunken ship, and sometimes a drowned body floats up to the surface.

That was a noble fight. When was ever a better word spoken than that of
Commodore Smith, the father of the commander of the Congress, when he
heard that his son's ship was surrendered? "Then Joe's dead!" said he;
and so it proved. Nor can any warrior be more certain of enduring
renown than the gallant Morris, who fought so well the final battle of
the old system of naval warfare, and won glory for his country and
himself out of inevitable disaster and defeat. That last gun from the
Cumberland, when her deck was half submerged, sounded the requiem of
many sinking ships. Then went down all the navies of Europe, and our
own, Old Ironsides and all, and Trafalgar and a thousand other fights
became only a memory, never to be acted over again; and thus our brave
countrymen come last in the long procession of heroic sailors that
includes Blake and Nelson, and so many mariners of England, and other
mariners as brave as they, whose renown is our native inheritance.
There will be other battles, but no more such tests of seamanship and
manhood as the battles of the past; and, moreover, the Millennium is
certainly approaching, because human strife is to be transferred from
the heart and personality of man into cunning contrivances of
machinery, which by-and-by will fight out our wars with only the clank
and smash of iron, strewing the field with broken engines, but damaging
nobody's little finger except by accident. Such is obviously the
tendency of modern improvement. But, in the mean while, so long as
manhood retains any part of its pristine value, no country can afford
to let gallantry like that of Morris and his crew, any more than that
of the brave Worden, pass unhonored and unrewarded. If the Government
do nothing, let the people take the matter into their own hands, and
cities give him swords, gold boxes, festivals of triumph, and, if he
needs it, heaps of gold. Let poets brood upon the theme, and make
themselves sensible how much of the past and future is contained within
its compass, till its spirit shall flash forth in the lightning of a

From these various excursions, and a good many others, (including one
to Manassas,) we gained a pretty lively idea of what was going on;
but, after all, if compelled to pass a rainy day in the hall and
parlors of Willard's Hotel, it proved about as profitably spent as if
we had floundered through miles of Virginia mud, in quest of
interesting matter. This hotel, in fact, may be much more justly
called the centre of Washington and the Union than either the Capitol,
the White House, or the State Department. Everybody may be seen there.
It is the meeting-place of the true representatives of the
country,--not such as are chosen blindly and amiss by electors who take
a folded ballot from the hand of a local politician, and thrust it into
the ballot-box unread, but men who gravitate or are attracted hither
by real business, or a native impulse to breathe the intensest
atmosphere of the nation's life, or a genuine anxiety to see how this
life-and-death struggle is going to deal with us. Nor these only, but
all manner of loafers. Never, in any other spot, was there such a
miscellany of people. You exchange nods with governors of sovereign
States; you elbow illustrious men, and tread on the toes of generals;
you hear statesmen and orators speaking in their familiar tones. You
are mixed up with office-seekers, wire-pullers, inventors, artists,
poets, prosers, (including editors, army-correspondents,
_attaches_ of foreign journals, and long-winded talkers,) clerks,
diplomatists, mail-contractors, railway-directors, until your own
identity is lost among them. Occasionally you talk with a man whom you
have never before heard of, and are struck by the brightness of a
thought, and fancy that there is more wisdom hidden among the obscure
than is anywhere revealed among the famous. You adopt the universal
habit of the place, and call for a mint-julep, a whiskey-skin, a
gin-cocktail, a brandy-smash, or a glass of pure Old Rye; for the
conviviality of Washington sets in at an early hour, and, so far as I
had an opportunity of observing, never terminates at any hour, and all
these drinks are continually in request by almost all these people. A
constant atmosphere of cigar-smoke, too, envelopes the motley crowd,
and forms a sympathetic medium, in which men meet more closely and talk
more frankly than in any other kind of air. If legislators would smoke
in session, they might speak truer words, and fewer of them, and bring
about more valuable results.

It is curious to observe what antiquated figures and costumes
sometimes make their appearance at Willard's. You meet elderly men with
frilled shirt-fronts, for example, the fashion of which adornment
passed away from among the people of this world half a century ago. It
is as if one of Stuart's portraits were walking abroad. I see no way of
accounting for this, except that the trouble of the times, the impiety
of traitors, and the peril of our sacred Union and Constitution have
disturbed, in their honored graves, some of the venerable fathers of
the country, and summoned them forth to protest against the meditated
and half-accomplished sacrilege. If it be so, their wonted fires are
not altogether extinguished in their ashes,--in their throats, I might
rather say;--for I beheld one of these excellent old men quaffing such
a horn of Bourbon whiskey as a toper of the present century would be
loath to venture upon. But, really, one would be glad to know where
these strange figures come from. It shows, at any rate, how many
remote, decaying villages and country-neighborhoods of the North, and
forest-nooks of the West, and old mansion-houses in cities, are shaken
by the tremor of our native soil, so that men long hidden in retirement
put on the garments of their youth and hurry out to inquire what is the
matter. The old men whom we see here have generally more marked faces
than the young ones, and naturally enough; since it must be an
extraordinary vigor and renewability of life that can overcome the
rusty sloth of age, and keep the senior flexible enough to take an
interest in new things; whereas hundreds of commonplace young men come
hither to stare with eyes of vacant wonder, and with vague hopes of
finding out what they are fit for. And this war (we may say so much in
its favor) has been the means of discovering that important secret to
not a few.

We saw at Willard's many who had thus found out for themselves, that,
when Nature gives a young man no other utilizable faculty, she must be
understood as intending him for a soldier. The bulk of the army had
moved out of Washington before we reached the city; yet it seemed to
me that at least two-thirds of the guests and idlers at the hotel wore
one or another token of the military profession. Many of them, no
doubt, were self-commissioned officers, and had put on the buttons and
the shoulder-straps, and booted themselves to the knees, merely
because captain, in these days, is so good a travelling-name. The
majority, however, had been duly appointed by the President, but might
be none the better warriors for that. It was pleasant, occasionally,
to distinguish a grizzly veteran among this crowd of carpet-knights,
--the trained soldier of a lifetime, long ago from West Point,
who had spent his prime upon the frontier, and very likely could
show an Indian bullet-mark on his breast,--if such decorations, won in
an obscure warfare, were worth the showing now.

The question often occurred to me,--and, to say the truth, it added an
indefinable piquancy to the scene,--what proportion of all these
people, whether soldiers or civilians, were true at heart to the Union,
and what part were tainted, more or less, with treasonable sympathies
and wishes, even if such had never blossomed into purpose. Traitors
there were among them,--no doubt of that,--civil servants of the
public, very reputable persons, who yet deserved to dangle from a cord;
or men who buttoned military coats over their breasts, hiding perilous
secrets there, which might bring the gallant officer to stand
pale-faced before a file of musketeers, with his open grave behind him.
But, without insisting upon such picturesque criminality and punishment
as this, an observer, who kept both his eyes and heart open, would find
it by no means difficult to discern that many residents and visitors of
Washington so far sided with the South as to desire nothing more nor
better than to see everything reestablished on a little worse than its
former basis. If the cabinet of Richmond were transferred to the
Federal city, and the North awfully snubbed, at least, and driven back
within its old political limits, they would deem it a happy day. It is
no wonder, and, if we look at the matter generously, no unpardonable
crime. Very excellent people hereabouts remember the many dynasties in
which the Southern character has been predominant, and contrast the
genial courtesy, the warm and graceful freedom of that region, with
what they call (though I utterly disagree with them) the frigidity of
our Northern manners, and the Western plainness of the President. They
have a conscientious, though mistaken belief, that the South was
driven out of the Union by intolerable wrong on our part, and that we
are responsible for having compelled true patriots to love only half
their country instead of the whole, and brave soldiers to draw their
swords against the Constitution which they would once have died
for,--to draw them, too, with a bitterness of animosity which is the
only symptom of brotherhood (since brothers hate each other best) that
any longer exists. They whisper these things with tears in their eyes,
and shake their heads, and stoop their poor old shoulders, at the
tidings of another and another Northern victory, which, in their
opinion, puts farther off the remote, the already impossible chance of
a reunion.

I am sorry for them, though it is by no means a sorrow without hope.
Since the matter has gone so far, there seems to be no way but to go on
winning victories, and establishing peace and a truer union in another
generation, at the expense, probably, of greater trouble, in the
present one, than any other people ever voluntarily suffered. We woo
the South "as the Lion wooes his bride"; it is a rough courtship, but
perhaps love and a quiet household may come of it at last. Or, if we
stop short of that blessed consummation, heaven was heaven still, as
Milton sings, after Lucifer and a third part of the angels had seceded
from its golden palaces,--and perhaps all the more heavenly, because
so many gloomy brows, and soured, vindictive hearts, had gone to plot
ineffectual schemes of mischief elsewhere. [Footnote: We regret the
innuendo in the concluding sentence. The war can never be allowed to
terminate, except in the complete triumph of Northern principles. We
hold the event in our own hands, and may choose whether to terminate it
by the methods already so successfully used, or by other means equally
within our control, and calculated to be still more speedily
efficacious. In truth, the work is already done.

We should be sorry to cast a doubt on the Peaceable Man's loyalty, but
he will allow us to say that we consider him premature in his kindly
feelings towards traitors and sympathizers with treason. As the author
himself says of John Brown, (and, so applied, we thought it an
atrociously cold-blooded _dictum_,) "any common-sensible man
would feel an intellectual satisfaction in seeing them hanged, were it
only for their preposterous miscalculation of possibilities." There
are some degrees of absurdity that put Reason herself into a rage, and
affect us like an intolerable crime,--which this Rebellion is, into
the bargain.]


I stood within the little cove,
Full of the morning's life and hope,
While heavily the eager waves
Charged thundering up the rocky slope.

The splendid breakers! how they rushed,
All emerald green and flashing white,
Tumultuous in the morning sun,
With cheer, and sparkle, and delight!

And freshly blew the fragrant wind,
The wild sea-wind, across their tops,
And caught the spray and flung it far,
In sweeping showers of glittering drops.

Within the cove all flashed and foamed,
With many a fleeting rainbow hue;
Without, gleamed, bright against the sky,
A tender, wavering line of blue,

Where tossed the distant waves, and far
Shone silver-white a quiet sail,
And overhead the soaring gulls
With graceful pinions stemmed the gale.

And all my pulses thrilled with joy,
Watching the wind's and water's strife,--
With sudden rapture,--and I cried,
"Oh, sweet is Life! Thank God for Life!"

Sailed any cloud across the sky,
Marring this glory of the sun's?
Over the sea, from distant forts,
There came the boom of minute-guns!

War-tidings! Many a brave soul fled,
And many a heart the message stuns!--
I saw no more the joyous waves,
I only heard the minute-guns.


A great contemporary writer, so I am told, regards originality as much
rarer than is commonly supposed. But, on the contrary, is it not far
more frequent than is commonly supposed? For one should not identify
originality with mere primacy of conception or utterance, as if a
thought could be original but once. In truth, it may be so thousands or
millions of times; nay, from the beginning to the end of man's times
upon the earth, the same thoughts may continue rising from the same
fountains in his spirit. Of the central or stem thoughts of
consciousness, of the imperial presiding imaginations, this is actually
true. Ceaseless re-origination is the method of Nature. This alone
keeps history alive. For if every Mohammedan were but a passive
appendage to the dead Mohammed, if every disciple were but a copy in
plaster of his teacher, and if history were accordingly living and
original only in such degree as it is an unprecedented invention, the
laws of decay should at once be made welcome to the world.

The fact is otherwise. As new growths upon the oldest cedar or baobab
do not merely spin themselves out of the wood already formed,--as they
thrive and constitute themselves only by original conversation with
sun, earth, and air,--that is, in the same way with any seed or
sapling,--so generations of Moslems, Parsees, or Calvinists, while
obeying the structural law of their system, yet quaff from the mystical
fountains of pure Life the sustenance by which they live. Merely out
of itself the tree can give nothing,--literally, nothing. True, if cut
down, it may, under favorable circumstances, continue for a time to
feed the growing shoots out of its own decay. Yet not even at the cost
of decay and speedy exhaustion could the old trunk accomplish this
little, but for the draft made upon it by the new growths. It is
_their_ life, it is the relationship which they assert with sun
and rain and all the elements, which is foremost in bringing about even
this result. So it is with the great old literatures, with the old
systems of philosophy and faith. They are simply avenues, or structural
forms, through which succeeding generations of souls come into
conversation with eternal Nature, and express their original life.

Observe, again, that the tree lives only while new shoots are produced
upon it. The new twigs and leaves not only procure sustenance for
themselves, but even keep the trunk itself alive: so that the chief
order of support is just opposite what it seems; and the tree lives
from above, down,--as do men and all other creatures. So in history, it
requires a vast amount of original thought or sentiment to sustain the
old structural forms. This gigantic baobab of Catholicism, for example,
is kept alive by the conversion of Life into Belief, which takes place
age after age in the bosoms of women and men. The trunk was long ago in
extensive decay; every wind menaces it with overthrow; but the hearts
that bud and blossom upon it yearly send down to the earth and up to
the sky such a claim for resource as surrounds the dying trunk with
ever new layers of supporting growth. Equally are the thought, poetry,
rhetoric of by-gone times kept in significance by the perceiving, the
imagining, and the sense of a flowing symbolism in Nature, which our
own time brings to them. To make Homer alive to this age,--what an
expenditure of imagination, of pure feeling and penetration does it
demand! Let the Homeric heart or genius die out of mankind, and from
that moment the "Iliad" is but dissonance, the long melodious roll of
its echoes becomes a jarring chop of noises. What chiefly makes Homer
great is the vast ideal breadth of relationship in which he establishes
human beings. But he in whose narrow brain is no space for high
Olympus and deep Orcus,--he whose coarse fibre never felt the
shudder of the world at the shaking of the ambrosial locks, nor a
thrill in the air when a hero fails,--what can this grand stoop of the
ideal upon the actual world signify to him? To what but an ethical
genius in men can appeal for guest-rites be made by the noble
"Meditations" of Marcus Antoninus, or the exquisite, and perhaps
incomparable, "Christian Morals" of Sir Thomas Browne?
Appreciative genius is centrally the same with productive
genius; and it is the Shakspeare in men alone that prints Shakspeare
and reads him. So it is that the works of the masters are, as it were,
perpetually re-written and renewed in life by the genius of mankind.

In saying that constant re-origination is the method of Nature, I do
not overlook the element nor underrate the importance of Imitation.
This it is that secures continuity, connection, and structural unity.
By vital imitation the embryonic man assumes the features and
traits of his progenitors. After birth the infant remains in the
matrix of the household; after infancy the glowing youth is held in
that of society; and processes kindred with those which bestowed
likeness to father and mother go on to assimilate him with a social
circle or an age. Complaint is made, and by good men, of that implicit
acquiescence which keeps in existence Islam, Catholicism, and the like,
long after their due time has come to die; yet, abolish the law of
imitation which causes this, and the immediate disintegration of
mankind will follow. Mortar is much in the way, when we wish to take
an old building to pieces and make other use of the bricks; do you
therefore advise its disuse?

But imitation would preserve nothing, did not the law of re-origination
keep it company. We are not born from our parents alone, but from the
loins of eternal Nature no less. Was Orpheus the grandson of Zeus and
Mnemosyne,--of sovereign Unity and immortal Memory? Equally is
Shakspeare and every genuine bard. Could the heroes of old Greece
trace their derivation from the gods?

Little of a hero is he, even in these times of ours, who is not of the
like lineage. And indeed, one and all, we have a father and mother
whose marriage-morn is of more ancient date than our calendars, and of
whose spousal solemnities this universe is the memorial. All life,
indeed, whatsoever be its form and rank, has, along with connections of
pedigree and lateral association, one tap-root that strikes straight
down into the eternal.

Because Life is of this unsounded depth, it may well afford to repeat
the same forms forever, nor incurs thereby any danger of exhausting its
significance and becoming stale. Vital repetition, accordingly, goes
on in Nature in a way not doubtful and diffident, but frank, open,
sure, as if the game were one that could not be played out. It is now a
very long while that buds have burst and grass grown; yet Spring comes
forward still without bashfulness, fearing no charge of having
plagiarized from her predecessors. The field blushes not for its
blades, though they are such as for immemorial times have spired from
the sod; the boughs publish their annual book of many a verdant scroll
without apprehension of having become commonplace at last; the
bobolink pours his warble in cheery sureness of acceptance, unmindful
that it is the same warble with which the throats of other bobolinks
were throbbing before there was a man to listen and smile; and night
after night forever the stars, and age after age the eyes of women and
men, shine on without apology, or the least promise that this shall be
positively their last appearance. Life knows itself original always,
nor a whit the less so for any repetition of its elected and
significant forms. Youth and newness are, indeed, inseparable from it.
Death alone is senile; and we become physically aged only by the
presence and foothold of this dogged intruder in our bodies. The body
is a fortress for the possession of which Death is perpetually
contending; only the incessant activity of Life at every foot of the
rampart keeps him at bay; but, with, the advance of years, the
assailants gain, here and there a foothold, pressing the defenders
back; and just in proportion as this defeat take a place the man
becomes _old_. But Life sets out from the same basis of mystery to
build each new body, no matter how many myriads of such forms have been
built before; and forsaking it finally, is no less young, inscrutable,
enticing than before.

Now Thought, as part of the supreme flowering of Life, follows its law.
It cannot be anticipated by any anticipation of its forms and results.
There were hazel-brown eyes in the world before my boy was born; but
the light that shines in these eyes comes direct from the soul
nevertheless. The light of true thought, in like manner, issues only
from an inward sun; and shining, it carries always its perfect
privilege, its charm and sacredness. Would you have purple or yellow
eyes, because the accustomed colors have been so often repeated? Black,
blue, brown, gray, forever! May the angels in heaven have no other!
Forever, too, and equally, the perpetual loves, thoughts, and melodies
of men! Let them come out of their own mystical, ineffable haunts,--let
them, that is, be _real_,--and we ask no more.

The question of originality is, therefore, simply one of vitality. Does
the fruit really grow on the tree? does it indeed come by vital
process?--little more than this does it concern us to know. Truths
become cold and commonplace, not by any number of rekindlings in men's
bosoms, but by out-of-door reflections without inward kindling. Saying
is the royal son of Seeing; but there is many a pretender to the
throne; and when these supposititious people usurp, age after age, the
honors that are not theirs, the throne and government are disgraced.

Truisms are corpses of truths; and statements are to be found in every
stage of approach to this final condition. Every time there is an
impotency or unreality in their enunciation, they are borne a step
nearer the sepulchre. If the smirking politician, who wishes to delude
me into voting for him, bid me his bland "Good-morning," not only does
he draw a film of eclipse over the sun, and cast a shadow on city and
field, but he throws over the salutation itself a more permanent
shadow; and were the words never to reach us save from such lips, they
would, in no long time, become terms of insult or of malediction. But
so often as the sweet greeting comes from wife, child, or friend, its
proper savors are restored. A jesting editor says that "You tell a
telegram" is the polite way of giving the lie; and it is quite possible
that his witticism only anticipates a serious use of language some
century hence. Terms and statements are perpetually saturated by the
uses made of them. Etymology and the dictionary resist effects in vain.
And as single words may thus be discharged of their lawful meaning, so
the total purport of words, that is, truths themselves, may in like
manner be disgraced. If the man of ordinary heart ostentatiously
patronize the maxims of perfect charity, if the traditional priest or
feeble pietist repeat the word _God_ or recite the raptures of
adoring bards, the sentences they maunder and the sentiments they belie
are alike covered with rust; and in due time some Shelley will turn
atheist in the interest of religion, and some Johnson in the interest
of morality aver that he writes for money alone.

But Truth does not share the fortunes of her verbal body. The grand
ideas, the master-imaginations and moving faiths of men, run in the
blood of the race; and a given degree of pure human heat infallibly
brings them out. Not more surely does the rose appear on the rose-bush,
or the apple, pear, or peach upon the trees of the orchard, than these
fruits of the soul upon nations of powerful and thrifty spirit. For
want of vitality the shrub may fail to flower, the tree to bear fruit,
and man to bring forth his spiritual product; but if Thought be
attained, certain thoughts and imaginations will come of it. Let two
nations at opposite sides of the globe, and without intercommunication
arrive at equal stages of mental culture, and the language of the one
will, on the whole, be equivalent to that of the other, nay, the very
rhetoric, the very fancies of the one will, in a broad way of
comparison, be tantamount to those of the other. The nearer we get to
any past age, the more do we find that the totality of its conceptions
and imaginings is much the same with that of our own. There are
specific variation and generic unity; and he whom the former blinds to
the latter reads the old literatures without eyes, and knows neither
his own time nor any other. Owen, Agassiz, Carpenter explain the
homologies of anatomy and physiology; but a doctrine of the homologies
of thought is equally possible, and will sometime be set forth.

The basis, then, of any sufficient doctrine of literature and literary
production is found in two statements:--

First, that the perfect truth of the universe issues, by vital
representation, into the personality of man.

Secondly, that this truth _tends_ in every man, though often in
the obscurest way, toward intellectual and artistic expression.

Now just so far as by any man's speech we feel ourselves brought into
direct relationship with this ever-issuing fact, so far the impressions
of originality are produced. That all his words were in the dictionary
before he used them,--that all his thoughts, under some form of
intimation, were in literature before he arrived at them,--matters not;
it is the verity, the vital process, the depth of relationship, which
concerns us.

Nay, in one sense, the older his truth, the _more_ do the effects
of originality lie open to him. The simple, central, imperial elements
of human consciousness are first in order of expression, and continue
forever to be first in order of power and suggestion. The great
purposes, the great thoughts and melodies issue always from these. This
is the quarry which every masterly thinker or poet must work. Homer is
Homer because he is so simply true alike to earth and sky,--to the
perpetual experience and perpetual imagination of mankind. Had he gone
working around the edges, following the occasional _detours_ and
slips of consciousness, there would have been no "Iliad" or "Odyssey"
for mankind to love and for Pope to spoil. The great poets tell us
nothing new. They remind us. They bear speech deep into our being, and
to the heart of our heart lend a tongue. They have words that
correspond to facts in all men and women. But they are not newsmongers.

Yesterday, I read in a prose translation of the "Odyssey" the exquisite
idyl of Nausicaa and her Maids, and the discovery of himself by
Ulysses. Perhaps the picture came out more clearly than ever before; at
any rate, it filled my whole day with delight, and to-day I seem to
have heard some sweetest good tidings, as if word had come from an old
playmate, dear and distant in memory, or a happy and wealthy letter had
arrived from a noble friend. Whence this enrichment? There was nothing
in this idyl, to which, even on a first reading, I could give the name
of "new truth." The secret is, that I _have_ indeed had tidings of
old playmates, dear and distant in memory,--of those bright-eyed,
brave, imaging playmates of all later ages, the inhabitants of Homer's
world. And little can one care for novelties of thought, in comparison
with these tones from the deeps of undying youth. Bring to our lips
these cups of the fresh wine of life, if you would do good. Bring us
these; for it is by perpetual rekindlings of the youth in us that our
life grows and unfolds. Each advancing epoch of the inward life is no
less than this,--a fresh efflux of adolescence from the immortal and
exhaustless heart. Everywhere the law is the same,--Become as a little
child, to reach the heavenly kingdoms. This, however, we become not by
any return to babyhood, but by an effusion or emergence from within of
pure life,--of life which takes from years only their wisdom and their
chastening, and gives them in payment its perfect renewal.

This, then, is the proof of originality,--that one shall utter the pure
consciousness of man. If he live, and live humanly, in his speech, the
speech itself will live; for it will obtain hospitality in all wealthy
and true hearts.

But if the most original speech be, as is here explained, of that which
is oldest and most familiar in the consciousness of man, it
nevertheless does not lack the charm of surprise and all effects of
newness. For, in truth, nothing is so strange to men as the very facts
they seem to confess every day of their lives. Truisms, I have said,
are the corpses of truths; and they are as far from the fact they are
taken to represent as the perished body from the risen soul. The
mystery of truth is hidden behind them; and when next it shall come
forth, it will bring astonishment, as at first. Every time the grand
old truths are livingly uttered, the world thinks it never heard them
before. The news of the day is hardly spoken before it is antiquated.
For this an hour too late is a century, is forever, too late. But truth
of life and the heart, the world-old imaginations, the root-thoughts of
human consciousness,--these never lose their privilege to surprise, and
at every fresh efflux are wellnigh sure to be persecuted by some as
unlawful impositions upon the credence of mankind. Nay, the same often
happens with the commonest truths of observation. Mr. Ruskin describes
leaves and clouds, objects that are daily before all eyes; and the very
artists cry, "Fie upon him!" as a propounder of childish novelties:
slowly they perceive that it was leaves and clouds which were novel.
Luther thunders in the ears of the Church its own creed; the Pope asks,
"Is it possible that he believes all this?" and the priesthood scream,
"To the stake with the heretic!" A poet prints in the "Atlantic
Monthly" a simple affirmation of the indestructibility of man's true
life; numbers of those who would have been shocked and exasperated to
hear questioned the Church dogma of immortality exclaim against this as
a ridiculous paradox. Once in a while there is grown a heart so
spacious that Nature finds in it room to chant aloud the word
_God_, and set its echoes rolling billowy through one man's being;
and he, lifting up his voice to repeat it among men from that inward
hearing, invariably astounds, and it may be infuriates his
contemporaries. The simple proposition, GOD IS, could it once be
_wholly_ received, would shake our sphere as no earthquake ever
did, and would leave not one stone upon another, I say not merely of
some city of Lisbon, but of entire kingdoms and systems of
civilization. The faintest inference from this cannot be vigorously
announced in modern senates without sending throbs of terror over half
a continent, and eliciting shrieks of remonstrance from the very
shrines of worship.

The ancient perpetual truths prove, at each fresh enunciation, not only
surprising, but incredible. The reason is, that they overfill the
vessels of men's credence. If you pour the Atlantic Ocean into a pint
basin, what can the basin do but refuse to contain it, and so spill it
over? Universal truths are as spacious and profound as the universe
itself; and for the cerebral capacity of most of us the universe is
really somewhat large!

But as the major numbers of mankind are too little self-reverent to
dispense with the services of self-conceit, they like to think
themselves equal, and very easily equal, to any truth, and habitually
assume their extempore, off-hand notion of its significance as a
perfect measure of the fact. As if a man hollowed his hand, and,
dipping it full out of Lake Superior, said, "Lake Superior just fills
my hand!" To how many are the words _God, Love, Immortality_ just
such complacent handfuls! And when some mariner of God seizes them with
loving mighty arms, and bears them in his bark beyond sight of their
wonted shores, what wonder that they perceive not the identity of this
sky-circled sea with their accustomed handful? Yet, despite egotism and
narrowness of brain and every other limitation, the spirit of man will
claim its privilege and assert its affinity with all truth; and in such
measure as one utters the pure heart of mankind, and states the real
relationships of human nature, is he sure of ultimate audience and
sufficing love.


No events of the present war will be longer remembered, or will hold a
more prominent place in History, than those which took place on the
eighth and ninth of March in Hampton Roads, when the Rebel steamer
Merrimack attacked the Federal fleet. We all know what havoc she made
in her first day's work. When the story of her triumphs flashed over
the wires, it fell like a thunderbolt upon all loyal hearts.

The Cumberland, manned by as gallant a crew as ever fought under the
Stars and Stripes, had gone down helplessly before her. The Congress,
half-manned, but bravely defended, had been captured and burnt.
Sailing frigates, such as were deemed formidable in the days of Hull
and Decatur, and which some of our old sea-dogs still believed to be
the main stay of the navy, were found to be worse than useless against
this strange antagonist. Our finest steam-frigates, though
accidentally prevented from getting fairly into action, seemed likely,
however skilfully handled, to have proved almost as inefficient; for
all our batteries and broadsides had produced no effect on this
iron-clad monster. She had gone back to her lair uninjured. What was to
prevent her from coming out again to break the blockade, bombard our
seaports, sink and destroy everything that came in her way?

But we had only seen the first act of the drama. The curtain was to
rise again, and a new character was to appear on the stage. The
champion of the Union, in complete armor, was about to enter the lists.
When the Merrimack steamed out defiantly on Sunday morning, the Monitor
was there to meet her. Then, for the first time in naval warfare, two
iron-clad vessels were pitted against each other. The Merrimack was
driven back disabled. We breathed freely again at this
_denouement_, and congratulated ourselves that the nation had
been saved from enormous damage and disgrace. We did not foresee that
the great Rebel monster, despairing of a successful encounter with her
antagonist, was to end her career by suicide. We thought only of the
vast injury which she might have done, and might yet be capable of
doing, to the Union cause, but from which we had so providentially
escaped. It was indeed a narrow escape. Nothing but the opportune
arrival of the Monitor saved us; and for this impregnable vessel we
are indebted to the genius of Ericsson.

This distinguished engineer and inventor, although a foreigner by
birth, has long been a citizen of the United States. His first work in
this country--by which, as in the present instance, he added honor and
efficiency to the American navy--was the steam-frigate Princeton, a
vessel which in her day was almost as great a novelty as the Monitor is
now. The improvements in steam machinery and propulsion and in the arts
of naval warfare, which he introduced in her, formed the subject of a
lecture delivered before the Boston Lyceum by John O. Sargent, in 1844,
from which source we derive some interesting particulars concerning
Ericsson's early history.

John Ericsson was born in 1803, in the Province of Vermeland, among the
iron mountains of Sweden. His father was a mining proprietor, so that
the youth had ample opportunities to watch the operation of the
various engines and machinery connected with the mines. These had been
erected by mechanicians of the highest scientific attainments, and
presented a fine study to a mind of mechanical tendencies. Under such
influences, his innate mechanical talent was early developed. At the
age of ten years, he had constructed with his own hands, and after his
own plans, a miniature sawmill, and had made numerous drawings of
complicated mechanical contrivances, with instruments of his own
invention and manufacture.

In 1814 he attracted the attention of the celebrated Count Platen, who
had heard of his boyish efforts, and desired an interview with him.
After carefully examining various plans and drawings which the youth
exhibited, the Count handed them back to him, simply observing, in an
impressive manner, "Continue as you have commenced, and you will one
day produce something extraordinary."

Count Platen was the intimate personal friend of Bernadotte, the King
of Sweden, and was regarded by him with a feeling little short of
veneration. It was Count Platen who undertook and carried through, in
opposition to the views of the Swedish nobility, and of nearly the
whole nation, that gigantic work, the Grand Ship Canal of Sweden, which
connects the North Sea with the Baltic. He died Viceroy of Norway, and
left behind him the reputation of one of the greatest men of the
century. The few words of kind encouragement which he spoke, on the
occasion to which we have referred, sank deeply into the mind of the
young mechanician, and confirmed him in the career on which he had

Immediately after this interview young Ericsson was made a cadet in the
corps of engineers, and, after six months' tuition, at the age of
twelve years, was appointed _niveleur_ on the Grand Ship Canal
under Count Platen. In this capacity, in the year 1816, he was required
to set out the work for more than six hundred men. The canal was
constructed by soldiers. He was at that time not tall enough to look
through the levelling-instrument; and in using it, he was obliged to
mount upon a stool, carried by his attendants for that purpose. As the
discipline in the Swedish army required that the soldier should always
uncover the head in speaking to his superior, gray-headed men came, cap
in hand, to receive their instructions from this mere child.

While thus employed in the summer months, he was constantly occupied
during the winter with his pencil and pen; and there are many
important works on the canal constructed after drawings made by
Ericsson at this early age. During his leisure hours, he measured up
and made working-drawings of every implement and piece of machinery
connected with this great enterprise; so that at the age of fifteen he
was in possession of accurate plans of the whole work, drawn by his own

His associations with military men on the canal had given him an
inclination for military life; and at the age of seventeen he entered
the Swedish army as an ensign, without the knowledge of his friend and
patron, Count Platen. This step excited the indignation of the Count,
who tried to prevail upon him to change his resolution; but finding all
his arguments useless, he terminated an angry interview by bidding
the young ensign "go to the Devil." The affectionate regard which he
entertained for the Count, and gratitude for the interest taken by him
in his education, caused the circumstances of this interview to make a
deep impression upon Ericsson, but were not sufficient to shake his

Soon after the young ensign had entered upon his regimental duties, an
affair occurred which threatened to obscure his hitherto bright
prospects. His Colonel, Baron Koskull, had been disgraced by the King,
about the time that he had recommended Ericsson for promotion. This
circumstance induced the King to reject the recommendation. The Colonel
was exceedingly annoyed by this rejection; and having in his possession
a military map made by the expectant ensign, he took it to his Royal
Highness the Crown Prince Oscar, and besought him to intercede for the
young man with the King. The Prince received the map very kindly,
expressing great admiration of its beautiful finish and execution, and
presented himself in person with it to the King, who yielded to the
joint persuasion of the Prince and the map, and promoted the young
ensign to the lieutenancy for which he had been recommended.

About the time of this promotion, the Government had ordered the
northern part of Sweden to be accurately surveyed. It being the desire
of the King that officers of the army should be employed in this
service, Ericsson, whose regiment was stationed in the northern
highlands, proceeded to Stockholm, for the purpose of submitting
himself to the severe examination then a prerequisite to the
appointment of Government surveyor.

The mathematical education which he had received under Count Platen now
proved very serviceable. He passed the examination with great
distinction, and in the course of it, to the surprise of the examiners,
showed that he could repeat Euclid _verbatim_,--not by the
exercise of the memory, which in Ericsson is not remarkably retentive,
but from his perfect mastery of geometrical science. There is no doubt
that it is this thorough knowledge of geometry to which he is indebted
for his clear conceptions on all mechanical subjects.

Having returned to the highlands, he entered on his new vocation with
great assiduity; and, supported by an unusually strong constitution, he
mapped a larger extent of territory than any other of the numerous
surveyors employed on the work. There are yet in the archives of Sweden
detailed maps of upwards of fifty square miles made by his hand.

Neither the great labors attending these surveys, nor his military
duties, could give sufficient employment to the energies of the young
officer. In connection with a German engineer, Major Pentz, he now
began the arduous task of compiling a work on Canals, to be illustrated
by sixty-four large plates, representing the various buildings,
machines, and instruments connected with the construction of such
works. The part assigned to him in this enterprise was nothing less
than that of making all the drawings, as well as of engraving the
numerous plates; and as all the plates were to be executed in the style
of what is called machine-engraving, he undertook to construct a
machine for the purpose, which he successfully accomplished. This work
he prosecuted with so much industry, in the midst of his other various
labors, that, within the first year of its commencement, he had
executed eighteen large plates, which were pronounced by judges of
machine-engraving to be of superior merit.

While thus variously occupied, being on a visit to the house of his
Colonel, Ericsson on one occasion showed his host, by a very simple
experiment, how readily mechanical power may be produced, independently
of steam, by condensing flame. His friend was much struck by the beauty
and simplicity of the experiment, and prevailed upon Ericsson to give
more attention to a principle which he considered highly important. The
young officer accordingly made sonic experiments on an enlarged scale,
and succeeded in the production of a motive power equal to that of a
steam-engine of ten-horse power. So satisfactory was the result, from
the compact form of the machine employed, as well as the comparatively
small consumption of fuel, that he conceived the idea of at once
bringing it out in England, the great field for all mechanical

Ericsson accordingly obtained, leave from the King to visit England,
where he arrived on the eighteenth of May, 1826. He there proceeded to
construct a working engine on the principle above mentioned, but soon
discovered that his _flame-engine_, when worked by the combustion
of mineral coals, was a different thing from the experimental model he
had tried in the highlands of Sweden, with fuel composed of the
splinters of fine pine wood. Not only did he fail to produce an
extended and vivid flame, but the intense heat so seriously affected
all the working parts of the machine as soon to cause its destruction.

These experiments, it may well be supposed, were attended with no
trifling expenditure; and, to meet these demands upon him, our young
adventurer was compelled to draw on his mechanical resources.

Invention now followed invention in rapid succession, until the records
of the Patent-Office in London were enriched with the drawings of the
remarkable steam-boiler on the principle of _artificial draught_;
to which principle we are mainly indebted for the benefits conferred on
civilization by the present rapid communication by railways. In
bringing this important invention before the public, Ericsson thought
it advisable to join some old and established mechanical house in
London; and accordingly he associated himself with John Braithwaite, a
name favorably known in the mechanical annals of England. This
invention was hardly developed, when an opportunity was presented for
testing it in practice.

The directors of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, before erecting
the stationary engines by which they had intended to draw their
passenger and freight carriages, determined to appeal to the mechanical
talent of the country, in the hope of securing some preferable form of
motor. A prize was accordingly offered, in the autumn of 1829, for the
best locomotive engine, to be tested on the portion of the railway then
completed. Ericsson was not aware that any such prize had been offered,
until within seven weeks of the day fixed for the trial. He was not
deterred by the shortness of the time, but, applying all his energies
to the task, planned an engine, executed the working-drawings, and had
the whole machine constructed within the seven weeks.

The day of trial arrived. Three engines entered the lists for the
prize,--namely, the Rocket, by George Stephenson; the Sanspareil, by
Timothy Hackworth; and the Novelty, by Ericsson. Both sides of the
railway, for more than a mile in length, were lined with thousands of
spectators. There was no room for jockeying in such a race, for
inanimate matter was to be put in motion, and that moves only in
accordance with immutable laws. The signal was given for the start.
Instead of the application of whip and spur, the gentle touch of the
steam-valve gave life and motion to the novel machine.

Up to that period, the greatest speed at which man had been carried
along the ground was that of the race-horse; and no one of the
multitude present on this occasion expected to see that speed
surpassed. It was the general belief that the maximum attainable by the
locomotive engine would not much exceed ten miles. To the surprise and
admiration of the crowd, however, the Novelty steam-carriage, the
_fastest_ engine started, guided by its inventor Ericsson,
assisted by John Braithwaite, darted along the track at the rate of
upwards of fifty miles an hour!

The breathless silence of the multitude was now broken by thunders of
hurras, that drowned the hiss of the escaping steam and the rolling of
the engine-wheels. To reduce the surprise and delight excited on this
occasion to the universal standard, and as an illustration of the
extent to which the value of property is sometimes enhanced by the
success of a mechanical invention, it may be stated, that, when the
Novelty had run her two miles and returned, the shares of the Liverpool
and Manchester Railway had risen _ten per cent_.

But how easily may the just expectations of an inventor be
disappointed! Although the principle of _artificial draught_--the
principle which gave to the Novelty such decided superiority in
speed--is yet retained in all locomotive engines, the mode of producing
this draught in our present engines is far different from that
introduced by Ericsson, and was discovered by the merest accident; and
so soon was this discovery made, after the successful display of the
Novelty engine, that Ericsson had no time to derive the least advantage
from its introduction. To him, however, belongs the credit of having
disproved the correctness of the once established theory, that it was
absolutely necessary that a certain _extensive_ amount of
_surface_ should be exposed to the fire, to generate a given
quantity of steam.

The remarkable lightness and compactness of the new boiler invented by
Ericsson led to the employment of steam in many instances in which it
had been previously inapplicable. Among these may be mentioned the
steam fire-engine constructed by him in conjunction with Mr.
Braithwaite, about the same time with the Novelty, and which excited so
much interest in London at the time the Argyle Rooms were on fire. A
similar engine of greater power was subsequently constructed by
Ericsson and Braithwaite for the King of Prussia, which was mainly
instrumental in saving several valuable buildings at a great fire in
Berlin. For this invention Ericsson received, in 1842, the large gold
medal offered by the Mechanics' Institute of New York for the best plan
of a steam fire-engine.

In the year 1833 Ericsson brought before the scientific world in London
his invention of the Caloric-Engine, which had been a favorite subject
of speculation and reflection with him for many years. From the
earliest period of his mechanical labors, he had been in the habit of
regarding heat as an agent, _which, whilst it exerts mechanical
force, undergoes no change._ The steam in the cylinder of a
steam-engine, after having lifted the weight of the piston, contains
just as much heat as it did before leaving the boiler,--minus only the
loss by radiation. Yet in the low-pressure engine we turn the steam,
after having performed its office, into a condensing-apparatus, where
the heat is in a manner annihilated; and in the high-pressure engine we
throw it away into the atmosphere.

The acting medium employed in the Caloric-Engine is atmospheric air;
and the leading peculiarity of the machine, as originally designed by
Ericsson, is, that by means of an apparatus styled the Regenerator the
heat contained in the air which escapes from the working cylinder is
taken up by the air which enters it at each stroke of the piston and
used over and over again.

The machine constructed by Ericsson in London was a working engine of
five-horse power, the performance of which was witnessed by many
gentlemen of scientific pretensions in that metropolis. Among others,
the popular author, Sir Richard Phillips, examined it; and in his
"Dictionary of the Arts of Life and of Civilization," he thus notices
the result of this experiment:--"The author has, with inexpressible
delight, seen the first model machine of five-horse power at work. With
a handful of fuel, applied to the very sensible medium of atmospheric
air, and a most ingenious disposition of its differential powers, he
beheld a resulting action in narrow compass, capable of extension to as
great forces as ever can be wielded or used by man." Dr. Andrew Ure
went so far as to say that the invention would "throw the name of his
great countryman, James Watt, into the shade." Professor Faraday gave
it an earnest approval. But, with these and some other eminent
exceptions, the scientific men of the day condemned the principle on
which the invention was based as unsound and untenable.

The interest which the subject excited did not escape the British
Government. Before many days had elapsed, the Secretary of the Home
Department, accompanied by Mr. Brunel, the constructor of the Thames
Tunnel, made his appearance in the engine-room where the new motive
power was in operation. Mr. Brunel, who was at that time somewhat
advanced in years, conceived at the outset an erroneous notion of the
nature of the new power, which he would not suffer to be corrected by
explanations. A discussion sprang up between him and the inventor,
which was followed by a long correspondence. The result was, that an
unfavorable impression of the invention was communicated to the British

The invention fared little better at the hands of Professor Faraday,
from whose efficient advocacy the most favorable results might have
been anticipated. This gentleman had announced that he would deliver a
lecture on the subject in London, in the spacious theatre of the Royal
Institution. The novelty of the invention, combined with the
reputation of the lecturer, had attracted a very large audience,
including many individuals of eminent scientific attainments. Just
half an hour, however, before he was expected to enlighten this
distinguished assembly, the celebrated lecturer discovered that he had
mistaken the expansive principle which is the very life of the
machine. Although he had spent many hours in studying the
Caloric-Engine in actual operation, and in testing its absolute force
by repeated experiments, Professor Faraday was compelled to inform his
hearers, at the very outset, that he did not know why the engine worked
at all. He was obliged to confine himself, therefore, to the
explanation of the Regenerator, and the process by which the heat is
continually returned to the cylinder, and re-employed in the
production of force. To this part of the invention he rendered ample
justice, and explained it in that felicitous style to which he is
indebted for the reputation he deservedly enjoys, as the most agreeable
and successful lecturer in England.

Other causes than the misconception of a Brunel and a Faraday operated
to retard the practical success of this beautiful invention. The high
temperature which it was necessary to keep up in the circulating medium
of the engine, and the consequent oxidation, soon destroyed the
pistons, valves, and other working parts. These difficulties the
inventor endeavored to remedy, in an engine, which he subsequently
constructed, of much larger powers, but without success. His failure in
this respect, however, did not deter him from prosecuting his
invention. He continued his experiments from time to time, as
opportunity permitted, confident that he was gradually, but surely,
approaching the realization of his great scheme.

Meanwhile he applied himself with his accustomed energy to the
practical working out of another favorite idea. The principle of the
Ericsson propeller was first suggested to the inventor by a study of
the means employed to propel the inhabitants of the air and deep. He
satisfied himself that all such propulsion in Nature is produced by
oblique action; though, in common with all practical men, he at first
supposed that it was inseparably attended by a loss of power. But when
he reflected that this was the principle invariably adopted by the
Great Mechanician of the Universe, in enabling the birds, insects, and
fishes to move through their respective elements, he knew that he must
be in error. This he was soon able to demonstrate, and he became
convinced, by a strict application of the laws which govern matter and
motion, that no loss of power whatever attends the oblique action of
the propelling surfaces applied to Nature's locomotives. After
having satisfied himself on the theory of the subject, the first step
of the inventor was the construction of a small model, which he tried
in the circular basin of a bath in London. To his great delight, so
perfectly was his theory borne out in practice, that this model, though
less than two feet long, performed its voyage about the basin at the
rate of three English miles an hour.

The next step in the invention was the construction of a boat forty
feet long, eight feet beam, and three feet draught of water, with two
propellers, each of five feet three inches in diameter. So successful
was this experiment, that, when steam was turned on the first time, the
boat at once moved at a speed of upwards of ten miles an hour, without
a single alteration being requisite in her machinery. Not only did she
attain this considerable speed, but her power to tow larger vessels was
found to be so great that schooners of one hundred and forty tons'
burden were propelled by her at the rate of seven miles an hour; and
the American packet-ship Toronto was towed in the river Thames by this
miniature steamer at the rate of more than five English miles an hour.
This feat excited no little interest among the boatmen of the Thames,
who were astonished at the sight of this novel craft moving against
wind and tide without any visible agency of propulsion, and, ascribing
to it some supernatural origin, united in giving it the name of the
_Flying Devil_. But the engineers of London Hoarded the
experiment with silent neglect; and the subject, when laid before the
Lords of the British Admiralty, failed to attract any favorable notice
from that august body.

Perceiving its peculiar and admirable fitness for ships of war,
Ericsson was confident that their Lordships would at once order the
construction of a war-steamer on the new principle. He invited them,
therefore, to take an excursion in tow of his experimental boat.
Accordingly, the gorgeous and gilt Admiralty Barge was ordered up to
Somerset House, and the little steamer was lashed along-side. The barge
contained Sir Charles Adam, Senior Lord of the Admiralty,--Sir William
Simonds, Chief Constructor of the British Navy,--Sir Edward Parry, the
celebrated Arctic navigator,--Captain Beaufort, the Chief of the
Topographical Department of the British Admiralty,--and others of
scientific and naval distinction.

In the anticipation of a severe scrutiny from so distinguished a
personage as the Chief Constructor of the British Navy, the inventor
had carefully prepared plans of his new mode of propulsion, which were
spread on the damask cloth of the magnificent barge. To his utter
astonishment, as we may well imagine, this scientific gentleman did not
appear to take the slightest interest in his explanations. On the
contrary, with those expressive shrugs of the shoulder and shakes of
the head which convey so much to the bystander without absolutely
committing the actor,--with an occasional sly, mysterious, undertone
remark to his colleagues,--he indicated very plainly, that, though his
humanity would not permit him to give a worthy man cause for so much
unhappiness, yet that "he could, an if he would," demonstrate by a
single word the utter futility of the whole invention.

Meanwhile the little steamer, with her precious charge, proceeded at a
steady progress of ten miles an hour, through the arches of the lofty
Southwark and London bridges, towards Limehouse, and the steam-engine
manufactory of the Messrs. Seaward. Their Lordships having landed, and
inspected the huge piles of ill-shaped cast-iron, misdenominated marine
engines, intended for some of His Majesty's steamers, with a look at
their favorite propelling--apparatus, the Morgan paddle-wheel, they
reembarked, and were safely returned to Somerset House by the
disregarded, noiseless, and unseen propeller of the new steamer.

On parting, Sir Charles Adam, with a sympathizing air, shook the
inventor cordially by the hand, and thanked him for the trouble he had
been at in showing him and his friends this _interesting_
experiment, adding that he feared he had put himself to too great an
expense and trouble on the occasion. Notwithstanding this somewhat
ominous _finale_ of the day's excursion, Ericsson felt confident
that their Lordships could not fail to perceive the great importance of
the invention. To his surprise, however, a few days afterwards, a
friend put into his hands a letter written by Captain Beaufort, at the
suggestion, probably, of the Lords of the Admiralty, in which that
gentleman, who had himself witnessed the experiment, expressed regret
to state that their Lordships had certainly been very much disappointed
at its result. The reason for the disappointment was altogether
inexplicable to the inventor; for the speed attained at this trial far
exceeded anything that had ever been accomplished by any paddle-wheel
steamer on so small a scale.

An accident soon relieved his astonishment, and explained the
mysterious givings-out of Sir William Simonds on the day of the
excursion. The subject having been started at a dinner-table where a
friend of Ericsson's was present, Sir William ingeniously and
ingenuously remarked, that, "even if the propeller had the power of
propelling a vessel, it would be found altogether useless in practice,
_because_, the power being applied in the _stern_, it would
be _absolutely impossible_ to make the vessel steer." It may not
be obvious to every one how our naval philosopher derived his
conclusion from his premises; but his hearers doubtless readily
acquiesced in the oracular proposition, and were much amused at the
idea of undertaking to steer a vessel when the power was applied in her

But we may well excuse the Lords of the British Admiralty for
exhibiting no interest in the invention, when we reflect that the
engineering corps of the empire were arrayed in opposition to
it,--alleging that it was constructed upon erroneous principles, and
full of practical defects, and regarding its failure as too certain to
authorize any speculations even as to its success. The plan was
specially submitted to many distinguished engineers, and was publicly
discussed in the scientific journals; and there was no one but the
inventor who refused to acquiesce in the truth of the numerous
demonstrations proving the vast loss of mechanical power which must
attend this proposed substitute for the old-fashioned paddle-wheel.

While opposed by such a powerful array of English scientific wisdom,
the inventor had the satisfaction of submitting his plan to a citizen
of the New World, Mr. Francis B. Ogden,--for many years Consul of the
United States at Liverpool,--who was able to understand its philosophy
and appreciate its importance. Though not an engineer by profession,
Mr. Ogden was distinguished for his eminent attainments in mechanical
science, and is entitled to the honor of having first applied the
important principle of the expansive power of steam, and of having
originated the idea of employing right-angular cranks in marine
engines. His practical experience and long study of the subject--for he
was the first to stem the waters of the Ohio and Mississippi, and the
first to navigate the ocean by the power of steam alone--enabled him at
once to perceive the truth of the inventor's demonstrations. And not
only did he admit their truth, but he also joined Ericsson in
constructing the experimental boat to which we have alluded, and
which the inventor launched into the Thames with the name of the
"Francis B. Ogden," as a token of respect to his Transatlantic friend.

Other circumstances soon occurred which consoled the inventor for his
disappointment in the rejection of the propeller by the British
Admiralty. The subject had been brought to the notice of an officer of
the United States navy. Captain Robert F. Stockton, who was at that
time on a visit to London, and who was induced to accompany him in one
of his experimental excursions on the Thames. Captain Stockton is
entitled to the credit of being the first naval officer who heard,
understood, and dared to act upon the suggestions of Ericsson, as to
the application of the propeller to ships of war. At the first glance,
he saw the important bearings of the invention; and his acute judgment
enabled him at once to predict that it was destined to work a
revolution in naval warfare. After making a single trip in the
experimental steamboat, from London Bridge to Greenwich, he ordered
the inventor to build for him forthwith two iron boats for the United
States, with steam-machinery and propeller on the plan of this rejected
invention. "I do not want," said Stockton, "the opinions of your
scientific men; what I have seen this day satisfies me." He at once
brought the subject before the Government of the United States, and
caused numerous plans and models to be made, at his own expense,
explaining the peculiar fitness of the invention for ships of war. So
completely persuaded was he of its great importance in this aspect,
and so determined that his views should be carried out, that he boldly
assured the inventor that the Government of the United States would
test the propeller on a large scale; and so confident was Ericsson
that the perseverance and energy of Captain Stockton would sooner or
later accomplish what he promised, that he at once abandoned his
professional engagements in England, and came to the United States,
where he fixed his residence in the city of New York. This was in the
year 1839.

Circumstances delayed, for some two years, the execution of their plan.
With the change of the Federal Administration, Stockton was first able
to obtain a favorable hearing; and having at length received the
necessary authority, the Princeton was built under his superintendence,
from the designs of Ericsson. She was completed and ready for sea
early in 1844, when she was pronounced by Stockton "the cheapest,
fastest, and most certain ship of war in the world."

In this vessel, in addition to the propeller, Ericsson introduced his
semicylindrical steam-engine, a beautiful invention, so compact that
it occupied only one-eighth of the bulk of the British marine engine
of corresponding power, and was placed more than four feet below the
water-line. The boilers were also below the water-line, having a
peculiar heating-apparatus attached which effected a great saving of
fuel, and with their furnaces and flues so constructed as to burn
anthracite as well as bituminous coal. Instead of the ordinary tall
smoke-pipe,--an insuperable objection to a steamer as a ship of
war,--he constructed a smoke-pipe upon the principle of the telescope,
which could be elevated or depressed at pleasure; and in order to
provide a draught independent of the height of the smoke-pipe, he
placed centrifugal blowers in the bottom of the vessel, which were
worked by separate small engines,--an arrangement originally applied
by him to marine engines in the steam-packet Corsair in 1831. Thus the
steam-machinery of the Princeton fulfilled the most important
requisites for a war-steamer, combining lightness, compactness,
simplicity, and efficiency, and being placed wholly out of reach of the
enemy's fire.

The armament of the ship also exhibited many peculiarities. "By the
application of the various arts to the purposes of war on board of the
Princeton," says Captain Stockton, in his report to the Navy
Department, "it is believed that the art of gunnery for sea-service
has, for the first time, been reduced to something like mathematical
certainty. The distance to which the guns can throw their shot at every
necessary angle of elevation has been ascertained by a series of
careful experiments. The distance from the ship to any object is
readily ascertained with an instrument on board, contrived for that
purpose, by an observation which it requires but an instant to make,
and by inspection without calculation. By self-acting locks, the guns
can be fired accurately at the necessary elevation,--no matter what
the motion of the ship may be." The instruments here referred to,
namely, the Distance-Instrument and the Self-Acting Gun-Lock, and also
the wrought-iron gun-carriage, by means of which Captain Stockton's
enormous guns were readily handled and directed, all were the
productions of Ericsson's fertile mechanical genius.

A committee of the American Institute, by whom this remarkable vessel
was examined, thus concluded their report:--"Your Committee take leave
to present the Princeton as every way worthy the highest honors of the
Institute. She is a sublime conception, most successfully
realized,--an effort of genius skilfully executed,--a grand
_unique_ combination, honorable to the country, as creditable to
all engaged upon her. Nothing in the history of mechanics surpasses the
inventive genius of Captain Ericsson, unless it be the moral daring of
Captain Stockton, in the adoption of so many novelties at one time." We
may add that in the Princeton was exhibited the first successful
application of screw-propulsion to a ship of war, and that she was the
first steamship ever built with the machinery below the water-line and
out of the reach of shot.

Ericsson spent the best part of two years in his labors upon the
Princeton. Besides furnishing the general plan of the ship and
supplying her in every department with his patented improvements, he
prepared, with his own hand, the working-drawings for every part of
the steam-machinery, propelling-apparatus, and steering-apparatus in
detail, and superintended their whole construction and arrangement,
giving careful and exact instructions as to the most minute
particulars. In so doing, he was compelled to make frequent journeys
from New York to Sandy Hook and Philadelphia, involving no small amount
of trouble and expense. For the use of his patent rights in the engine
and propeller, he had, at the suggestion of Captain Stockton, refrained
from charging the usual fees, consenting to accept, as full
satisfaction, whatever the Government, after testing the inventions,
should see fit to pay. He never imagined, however, that his laborious
services as engineer were to go unrequited, or that his numerous
inventions and improvements, unconnected with the engine and propeller,
were to be furnished gratuitously. Yet, when, after the Princeton, as
we have seen, had been pronounced on all hands a splendid success,
Ericsson presented his bill to the Navy Department,--not for the
patent-fees in question, but for the bare repayment of his
expenditures, and compensation for his time and labor in the service
of the United States,--he was informed that his claim could not be
allowed; it could not be recognized as a "legal claim." It was not
denied that the services alleged had been rendered,--that the work for
which compensation was asked had been done by Ericsson, and well
done,--nor that the United States were in the enjoyment of the unpaid
results of his labor and invention. A claim based upon such
considerations might, it would seem, have been brought within the
definition of a legal claim. But if not admissible under the strict
rules of the Navy Department, it was certainly an equitable demand
against the United States; and Ericsson could not believe that the
representatives of the great American people would stand upon
technicalities. He accordingly made a direct appeal to them in a
Memorial to Congress.

We may as well here give the further history of this claim. It met with
the usual delays and obstructions that private claims, having nothing
but their intrinsic merits to support them, are compelled to
encounter. It called forth the usual amount of legislative
pettifogging. Session after session passed away, and still it hung
between the two Houses of Congress, until the very time which had
elapsed since it was first presented began to be brought up as an
argument against it. At length, when Congress established the Court of
Claims, a prospect opened of bringing it to a fair hearing and a
final decision. It was submitted to that tribunal six years ago. The
Court decided in its favor,--the three judges (Gilchrist, Scarborough,
and Blackford) being unanimous in their judgment. A bill directing its
payment was reported to the Senate,--and there it is still. Although
favorably reported upon by two committees at different sessions, and
once passed by the Senate, without a vote recorded against it, it has
never yet got through both Houses of Congress. For furnishing this
Government with the magnificent war-steamer which was pronounced by
Captain Stockton "the cheapest, fastest, and most certain ship of war
in the world," Ericsson has never been paid a dollar. It remains to be
seen whether the present Congress will permit this stain upon the
national good faith to continue. If it does, its "votes of thanks" are
little better than a mockery.

The efficiency and utility of the propeller having been established
beyond a doubt, it went at once into extensive use. But the inventor
was again disappointed in his just expectation of reaping an adequate
pecuniary benefit from his exertions. Upon the strength of some
attempts at screw-propulsion,--made and abandoned by various
experimenters,--which had never resulted, and probably never would
have resulted, in any practical application, rival machines, which
conflicted with Ericsson's patent, soon made their appearance. A long
litigation followed, during which all attempts to collect patent-fees
were necessarily suspended; and the result was, that the invention was
virtually abandoned to the public. But no one can take from Ericsson
the honor of having first introduced the screw-propeller into actual
use, and demonstrated its value,--an honor which is now freely
accorded to him by the highest scientific authorities at home and

Although the first five years of his American experience had been less
profitable, in a pecuniary sense, than he had anticipated, he
continued to reside in the city of New York, where he found an ample
field for the exercise of his great powers in the line of his
profession. He planned the war-steamer Pomone, the first screw-vessel
introduced into the French navy. He planned revenue-cutters for the
United States Government, taking care always to have his contracts so
distinctly made that no question could again arise as to his "legal
claim." He invented a useful apparatus for supplying the boilers of
sea-going steamers with fresh water. He invented various modifications
of the steam-engine.

In the American division of the London Industrial Exhibition of all
Nations in 1851, he exhibited the Distance-Instrument, for measuring
distances at sea,--the Hydrostatic Gauge, for measuring the volume of
fluids under pressure,--the Reciprocating Fluid-Metre, for measuring
the quantity of water which passes through pipes during definite
periods,--the Alarm-Barometer,--the Pyrometer, intended as a standard
measure of temperature, from the freezing-point of water up to the
melting-point of iron,--a Rotary Fluid-Metre, the principle of which
is the measurement of fluids by the velocity with which they pass
through apertures of different dimensions,--and a Sea-Lead, contrived
for taking soundings at sea without rounding the vessel to the wind,
and independently of the length of the lead-line. For these inventions
he received the prize-medal of the Exhibition.

But while thus continually occupied with new enterprises and objects,
he did not lose sight of his great idea, the Caloric-Engine. All his
spare hours and spare funds were devoted to experiments with the view
of overcoming the practical difficulties which stood in the way of its
success. Towards the end of the year 1851 he seemed to be on the point
of realizing his hopes, having constructed a large stationary engine,
which was applied with great success, at the Phoenix Foundry in New
York, to the actual work of pumping water. Soon after, through the
liberality of Mr. John B. Kitching, a well-known merchant of New
York, he was enabled to test the invention on a magnificent scale. A
ship of two thousand tons, propelled by the power of caloric-engines,
was planned and constructed by him in the short space of seven months,
and in honor of the inventor received the name of the "Ericsson."

Every one will remember the interest which this caloric-ship excited
throughout the country. She made a trip from New York to Alexandria on
the Potomac, in very rough weather, in the latter part of February,
1853. On this trip the engines were in operation for seventy-three
hours without being stopped for a moment, and without requiring the
slightest adjustment, the consumption of fuel being only five tons in
twenty-four hours. At Alexandria she was visited by the President and
President elect, the heads of the departments, a large number of naval
officers, and many members of both Houses of Congress, and
subsequently by the foreign ministers in a body, and by the Legislature
of Virginia, then in session. Ericsson was invited by a committee of
the Legislature to visit Richmond, as the guest of the State. The
Secretary of the Navy recommended, in a special communication to
Congress, the passage of a resolution authorizing him to contract for
the construction of a frigate of two thousand tons to be equipped with
caloric-engines, and to appropriate for this purpose five hundred
thousand dollars. This recommendation failed in consequence of the
pressure of business at the close of the session.

But notwithstanding the surprise and admiration which this achievement
excited in the scientific world, the speed attained was not sufficient
to meet the practical exigencies of commerce; and the repetition of
the engines on this large scale could not be undertaken at the charge
of individuals. Ericsson accordingly wisely devoted himself to
perfecting the Calorie-Engine on a small scale, and in 1859 he
produced it in a form which has since proved a complete success. It is
no longer a subject of experiment, but exists as a perfect, practical
machine. More than five hundred of these engines, with cylinders
varying from a diameter of six inches to one of forty inches, are now
in successful operation. It is applied to purposes of pumping,
printing, hoisting, grinding, sawing, turning light machinery, working
telegraphic instruments and sewing-machines, and propelling boats. No
less than forty daily papers (among which we may mention the "National
Intelligencer") are printed by means of this engine. In Cuba it is
used for grinding sugar-cane, on Southern plantations for ginning
cotton; and there is an endless variety of domestic, agricultural, and
mechanical uses to which it may be advantageously applied.

The extent of power attainable by this machine, consistently with its
application to practical uses, is not yet precisely defined. Within
the limit thus far given to it, its power is certain, uniform, and
entirely sufficient. It is not attended with the numerous perils that
make the steam-engine so uncomfortable a servant, but is absolutely
free from danger. It requires no engineering supervision. It consumes a
very small amount of fuel (about one-third of the amount required by
the steam-engine) and requires no water. These peculiarities not only
make it a very desirable substitute for the steam-engine, but render
it available for many purposes to which the steam-engine would never
be applied.

In addition to his regular professional avocations, Ericsson was
industriously occupied in devising new applications of the
Calorie-Engine, when the attempted secession of the Southern States
plunged the country into the existing war and struck a blow at all the
arts of peace. Ills whole heart and mind were given at once to the
support of the Union. Liberal in all his ideas, he is warmly attached
to republican institutions, and has a hearty abhorrence of intolerance
and oppression in all their forms. His early military education and
his long study of the appliances of naval warfare increased the
interest with which he watched the progress of events. The abandonment
of the Norfolk navy-yard to the Rebels struck him as a disgrace that
might have been avoided. He foresaw the danger of a formidable
antagonist from that quarter in the steamship which we had so
obligingly furnished them. The building of gun-boats with
steam-machinery _above_ the water-line--where the first shot from
an enemy might render it useless--seemed to him, in view of what he
had done and was ready to do again, a very unnecessary error. Knowing
thoroughly all the improvements made and making in the war-steamers of
England and France, and feeling the liability of their interference in
our affairs, he could not appreciate the wisdom of building new
vessels according to old ideas. The blockade of the Potomac by Rebel
batteries, in the very face of our navy, seemed to him an indignity
which need not be endured, if the inventive genius of the North could
have fair play.

An impregnable iron gun-boat was, in his judgment, the thing that was
needed; and he determined that the plan of such a vessel should be his
contribution towards the success of the war. The subject was not a
new one to him. He had given it much consideration, and his plan, in
all its essential features, had been matured long before. Proposals
for iron-clad vessels having been invited by the Navy Department,
Ericsson promptly submitted his plans and specifications. Knowing the
opposition that novelties always encounter, he had no great expectation
that his proposal would be accepted. "I have done my part," said he; "I
have offered my plan. It is for the Government to say whether I shall
be allowed to carry it out." He felt confident, however, that, if the
plan should be brought to the notice of the President, his practical
wisdom and sound common sense could not fail to decide in its favor.
Fortunately for the country, Ericsson's offer was accepted by the Navy
Department. He immediately devoted all his energies to the execution of
his task, and the result was the construction of the vessel to which he
himself gave the name of the "Monitor." What she is and what she has
accomplished, we need not here repeat. Whatever may be her future
history, we may safely say, in the words of the New York Chamber of
Commerce, that "the floating-battery Monitor deserves to be, and will
be, forever remembered with gratitude and admiration."

We rejoice to believe that the merits and services of Ericsson are now
fully appreciated by the people of the United States. The thanks of the
nation have been tendered to him by a resolution of Congress. The
Boston Board of Trade and the New York Chamber of Commerce have passed
resolutions expressive of their gratitude. The latter body expressed
also their desire that the Government of the United States should make
to Captain Ericsson "such suitable return for his services as will
evince the gratitude of a great nation." Upon hearing this suggestion,
Ericsson, with characteristic modesty, remarked,--"All the remuneration
I desire for the Monitor I get out of the construction of it. It is
all-sufficient." Nevertheless we think the suggestion well worthy of
consideration. In the same spirit of manly independence, he
discountenanced the movement set on foot among the merchants of New
York for the subscription of a sum of money to be presented to him. He
asks nothing but fair remuneration for services rendered,--and that, it
is to be hoped, the people will take care that he shall receive.

Ericsson is now zealously at work in constructing six new iron
gun-boats on the plan of the Monitor. If that remarkable structure can
be surpassed, he is the man to accomplish it. His ambition is to render
the United States impregnable against the navies of the world. "Give me
only the requisite means," he writes, "and in a very short time we can
say to those powers now bent on destroying republican institutions,
'_Leave the Gulf with your frail craft, or perish_!' I have all my
life asserted that mechanical science will put an end to the power of
England over the seas. The ocean is Nature's highway between the
nations. It should be free; and surely Nature's laws, when properly
applied, will make it so."

His reputation as an engineer is worldwide. In 1852 he was made a
Knight of the Order of Vasa by King Oscar of Sweden. The following
extract from a poem "To John Ericsson" we translate from "Svenska
Tidningen," the Government journal of Stockholm. It is eloquently
expressive of the pride and admiration with which he is regarded in his
native country.

"World-wide his fame, so gracefully adorning
His native Sweden with enduring radiance!
Not a king's crown could give renown so noble:
For his is Thought's great triumph, and the sceptre
He wields is over elements his subjects!"

Although now in his sixtieth year, Ericsson has the appearance of a man
of forty. He is in the very maturity of a vigorous manhood, and retains
all the fire and enthusiasm of youth. He has a frame of iron, cast in a
large and symmetrical mould. His head and face are indicative of
intellectual power and a strong will. His presence impresses one, at
the first glance, as that of an extraordinary man. His bearing is
dignified and courteous, with a touch perhaps of military
_brusquerie_ in his mode of address. He has a keen sense of humor,
a kindly and generous disposition, and a genial and companionable
nature. He is a "good hater" and a firm friend. Like all men of strong
character and outspoken opinions, he has some enemies; but his chosen
friends he "grapples to his heart with hooks of steel."

He is not a mere mechanician, but has great knowledge of men and of
affairs, and an ample fund of information on all subjects. His
conversation is engaging and instructive; and when he seeks to enlist
cooeperation in his mechanical enterprises, few men can withstand the
force of his arguments and the power of his personal magnetism.

Although his earnings have sometimes been large, his heavy expenditures
in costly experiments have prevented him from acquiring wealth. Money
is with him simply a means of working out new ideas for the benefit of
mankind; and in this way he does not scruple to spend to the utmost
limit of his resources. He lives freely and generously, but is strictly
temperate and systematic in all his habits.

The amount of labor which he is capable of undergoing is astonishing.
While engaged in carrying out his inventions, it is a common thing for
him to pass sixteen hours a day at his table, in the execution of
detailed mechanical drawings, which he throws off with a facility and
in a style that have probably never been surpassed. He does not seem to
need such recreation as other men pine after. He never cares to run
down to the seashore, or take a drive into the country, or spend a week
at Saratoga or at Newport. Give him his drawing-table, his plans, his
models, the noise of machinery, the clatter of the foundry, and he is
always contented. Week in and week out, summer and winter, he works on
and on,--and the harder he works, the more satisfied he seems to be. He
is as untiring as one of his own engines, which never stop so long as
the fire burns. Endowed with such a constitution, it is to be hoped
that new triumphs and many years of honor and usefulness are yet before

* * * * *


Man is like an onion. He exists in concentric layers. He is born a
bulb and grows by external accretions. The number and character of his
involutions certify to his culture and courtesy. Those of the boor are
few and coarse. Those of the gentleman are numerous and fine. But strip
off the scales from all and you come to the same germ. The core of
humanity is barbarism. Every man is a latent savage.

You may be startled and shocked, but I am stating fact, not theory. I
announce not an invention, but a discovery. You look around you, and
because you do not see tomahawks and tattooing you doubt my assertion.
But your observation is superficial. You have not penetrated into the
secret place where souls abide. You are staring only at the outside
layer of your neighbors; just peel them and see what you will find.

I speak from the highest possible authority,--my own. Representing the
gentler half of humanity, of respectable birth, tolerable parts, and
good education, as tender-hearted as most women, not unfamiliar with
the best society, mingling, to some extent, with those who understand
and practise the minor moralities, you would at once infer from my
circumstances that I was a very fair specimen of the better class of
Americans,--and so I am. For one that stands higher than I in the
moral, social, and intellectual scale, you will undoubtedly find ten
that stand lower. Yet through all these layers gleam the fiery eyes of
my savage. I thought I was a Christian, I have endeavored to do my duty
to my day and generation; but of a sudden Christianity and civilization
leave me in the lurch, and the "old Adam" within me turns out to be
just such a fierce Saxon pirate as hurtled down against the white
shores of Britain fifteen hundred years ago.

For we have been moving.

People who live in cities and move regularly every year from one good,
finished, right-side-up house to another will think I give a very small
reason for a very broad fact; but they do not know what they are
talking about. They have fallen into a way of looking upon a house only
as an exaggerated trunk, into which they pack themselves annually with
as much nonchalance as if it were only their preparation for a summer
trip to the seashore. They don't strike root anywhere. They don't have
to tear up anything. A man comes with cart and horses. There is a stir
in the one house,--they are gone;--there is a stir in the other
house,--they are settled,--and everything is wound up and set going to
run another year. We do these things differently in the country. We
don't build a house by way of experiment and live in it a few years,
then tear it down and build another. We live in a house till it cracks,
and then we plaster it over; then it totters, and we prop it up; then
it rocks, and we rope it down; then it sprawls, and we clamp it; then
it crumbles, and we have a new underpinning,--but keep living in it all
the time. To know what moving really means, you must move from just
such a rickety-rackety old farmhouse, where you have clung and grown
like a fungus ever since there was anything to grow,--where your life
and luggage have crept into all the crevices and corners, and every
wall is festooned with associations thicker than the cobwebs, though
the cobwebs are pretty thick,--where the furniture and the pictures and
the knick-knacks are so become a part and parcel of the house, so grown
with it and into it, that you do not know they are chiefly rubbish till
you begin to move them and they fall to pieces, and don't know it then,
but persist in packing them up and carrying them away for the sake of
auld lang syne, till, set up again in your new abode, you suddenly find
that their sacredness is gone, their dignity has degraded into
dinginess, and the faded, patched chintz sofa, that was not only
comfortable, but respectable, in the old wainscoted sitting-room, has
suddenly turned into "an object," when lang syne goes by the board and
the heirloom is incontinently set adrift. Undertake to move from this
tumble-down old house, strewn thick with the _debris_ of many
generations, into a tumble-up, peaky, perky, plastery, shingly, stary
new one, that is not half finished, and never will be, and good enough
for it, and you will perhaps comprehend how it is that I find a great
crack in my life. On the farther side are prosperity, science,
literature, philosophy, religion, society, all the refinements, and
amenities, and benevolences, and purities of life,--in short, all the
arts of peace, and civilization, and Christianity,--and on this
side--moving. You will also understand why that one word comprises, to
my thinking, all the discomforts short of absolute physical torture
that can be condensed into the human lot. Condensed, did I say? If it
were a condensed agony, I could endure it. One great, stunning,
overpowering blow is undoubtedly terrible, but you rally all your
fortitude to meet and resist it, and when it is over it is over and the
recuperative forces go to work; but a trouble that worries and baffles
and pricks and rasps you, that penetrates into all the ramifications of
your life, that fills you with profound disgust, and fires you with
irrepressible fury, and makes of you an Ishmaelite indeed, with your
hand against every man and every man's hand against you,--ah! that is
the _experimentum crucis_. Such is moving, in the country,--not an
act, but a process,--not a volition, but a fermentation.

We will say that the first of September is the time appointed for the
transit. The day approaches. It is the twenty-ninth of August. I
prepare to take hold of the matter in earnest. I am nipped in the bud
by learning that the woman who was to help about the carpets cannot
come, because her baby is taken with the croup. I have not a doubt of
it. I never knew a baby yet that did not go and have the croup, or the
colic, or the cholera infantum, just when it was imperatively necessary
that it should not have them. But there is no help for it. I shudder
and bravely gird myself for the work. I tug at the heavy, bulky,
unwieldy carpets, and am covered with dust and abomination. I think
carpets are the most untidy, unwholesome nuisances in the whole world.
It is impossible to be clean with them under your feet. You may sweep
your carpet twenty times and raise a dust on the twenty-first. I am
sure I heard long ago of some new fashion that was to be
introduced,--some Italian style, tiles, or mosaic-work, or something of
the sort. I should welcome anything that would dispense with these vile
rags. I sigh over the good old sanded floors that our grandmothers
rejoiced in,--and so, apotheosizing the past and anathematizing the
present, I pull away, and the tacks tear my fingers, and the hammer
slips and lets me back with a jerk, and the dust fills my hair and nose
and eyes and mouth and lungs, and my hands grow red and coarse and
ragged and sore and begrimed, and I pull and choke and cough and
strangle and pull.

So the carpets all come up and the curtains all come down. The bureaus
march out of the chamber-windows and dance on a tight-rope down into
the yard below. The chairs are set at "heads and points." The clothes
are packed into the trunks. The flour and meal and sugar, all the
wholesale edibles, are carted down to the new house and stored. The
forks are wrapped up and we eat with our fingers, and have nothing to
eat at that. Then we are informed that the new house will not be ready
short of two weeks at least. Unavoidable delays. The plasterers were
hindered; the painters misunderstood orders; the paperers have
defalcated, and the universe generally comes to a pause. It is no
matter in what faith I was nurtured, I am now a believer in total
depravity. Contractors have no conscience; masons are not men of their
word; carpenters are tricky; all manner of cunning workmen are bruised
reeds. But there is nothing to do but submit and make the best of
it,--a horrible kind of mechanism. We go forthwith into a chrysalis
state for two weeks. The only sign of life is an occasional lurch
towards the new house, just sufficient to keep up the circulation. One
day I dreamily carry down a basket of wine-glasses. At another time I
listlessly stuff all my slippers into a huge pitcher and take up the
line of march. Again a bucket is filled with tea-cups, or I shoulder
the fire-shovel. The two weeks drag themselves away, and the cry is
still, "Unfinished!" To prevent petrifying into a fossil remain, or
relapsing into primitive barbarism, or degenerating into a dormouse, I
rouse my energies and determine to put my own shoulder to the wheel and
see if something cannot be accomplished. I rise early in the morning
and walk to Dan, to hire a painter who is possessed of "gumption,"
"faculty." Arrived in Dan, I am told that he is in Beersheba. Nothing
daunted, I take a short cut across the fields to Beersheba, bearding
manifold dangers from rickety stone-walls, strong enough to keep women
in, but not strong enough to keep bears, bulls, and other wild beasts
out,--toppling enough to play the mischief with draperies, but not
toppling enough to topple over when urgently pressed to do so. But I
secure my man, and remember no more my sorrow of bulls and stones for
joy at my success. From Beersheba I proceed to Padan-aram to buy seven
pounds of flour, thence to Galilee of the Gentiles for a pound of
cheese, thence to the land of Uz for a smoked halibut, thence to the
ends of the earth for a lemon to make life tolerable,--and the days
hobble on.

"The flying gold of the ruined woodlands" drives through the air, the
signal is given, and there is no longer "quiet on the Potomac." The
unnatural calm gives way to an unearthly din. Once more I bring myself
to bear on the furniture and the trumpery, and there is a small
household whirlpool. All that went before "pales its ineffectual
fires." Now comes the strain upon my temper, and my temper bends, and
quivers, and creaks, and cracks. Ithuriel touches me with his spear;
all the integuments of my conventional, artificial, and acquired
gentleness peel off, and I stand revealed a savage. Everything around
me sloughs off its usual habitude and becomes savage. Looking-glasses
are shivered by the dozen. A bit is nicked out of the best China
sugar-bowl. A pin gets under the matting that is wrapped around the
centre-table and jags horrible hieroglyphics over the whole polished
surface. The bookcase that we are trying to move tilts, and trembles,
and goes over, and the old house through all her frame gives signs of
woe. A crash detonate on the stairs brings me up from the depths of the
closet where I am burrowing. I remember seeing Petronius disappear a
moment ago with my lovely and beloved marble Hebe in his arms. I rush
rampant to the upper landing in time to see him couchant on the lower.
"I have broken my leg," roars Petronius, as if I cared for his leg. A
fractured leg is easily mended; but who shall restore me the nose of
my nymph, marred into irremediable deformity and dishonor?

Occasionally a gleam of sunshine shoots athwart the darkness to keep me
back from rash deeds. Behind the sideboard I find a little cross of
dark, bright hair and gold and pearls, that I lost two years ago and
would not be comforted. O happy days woven in with the dark, bright
hair! O golden, pearly days, come back to me again! "Never mind your
gewgaws," interposes real life; "what is to be done with the things in
this drawer?" Lying atop of a heap of old papers in the front-yard,
waiting the match that is to glorify them into flame, I find a letter
that mysteriously disappeared long since and caused me infinite alarm
lest indelicate eyes might see it and indelicate hands make ignoble use
of its honest and honorable meaning. I learn also sundry new and
interesting facts in mechanics. I become acquainted for the first time
with the _modus operandi_ of "roller-cloths." I never understood
before how the roller got inside the towel. It was one of those gentle
domestic mysteries that repel even while they invite investigation. I
shall not give the result of my discovery to the public. If you wish
very much to find out, you can move, as I did.

But the rifts of sunshine disappear, the clouds draw together and close
in. The savage walks abroad once more, and I go to bed tired of life.

I have scarcely fallen asleep, when I am reluctantly, by short and
difficult stages, awakened. A rumbling, grating, strident noise first
confuses, then startles me. Is it robbers? Is it an earthquake? Is it
the coming of fate? I lie rigid, bathed in a cold perspiration. I hear
the tread of banditti on the moaning stairs. I see the flutter of
ghostly robes by the uncurtained windows. A chill, uncanny air rushes
in and grips at my damp hair. I am nerved by the extremity of my
terror. I will die of anything but fright. I jerk off the bedclothes,
convulse into an upright posture, and glare into the darkness. Nothing.
I rise softly, creep cautiously and swiftly over the floor, that always
creaked, but now thunders at every footfall. A light gleams through
the open door of the opposite room whence the sound issues. A familiar
voice utters an exclamation which I recognize. It is Petronius, the
unprincipled scoundrel, who is uncording a bed, dragging remorselessly
through innumerable holes the long rope whose doleful wail came near
giving me an epilepsy. My savage lets loose the dogs of war. Petronius
would fain defend himself by declaring that it is morning. I
indignantly deny it. He produces his watch. A fig for his watch! I
stake my consciousness against twenty watches, and go to bed again; but
Sleep, angry goddess, once repulsed, returns no more. The dawn comes up
the sky and confirms the scorned watch. The golden daggers of the
morning prick in under my eyelids, and Petronius introduces himself
upon the scene once more to announce, that, if I don't wish to be
corded up myself, I must abdicate that bed. The threat does not terrify
me. Indeed, nothing at the moment seems more inviting than to be corded
up and let alone; but duty still binds me to life, and, assuring
Petronius that the just law will do that service for him, if he does
not mend his ways, I slowly emerge again into the world,--the dreary,
chaotic world,--the world that is never at rest.

And there is hurrying to and fro, and a clang of many voices, and the
clatter of much crockery, and a lifting, and balancing, and battering
against walls and curving around corners, and sundry contusions, and a
great waste of expletives, and a loading of wagons, and a driving of
patient oxen back and forth with me generally on the top of the load,
steadying a basket of eggs with one foot, keeping a tin can of
something from upsetting with the other, and both arms stretched around
a very big and very square picture-frame that knocks against my nose or
my chin every time the cart goes over a stone or drops into a rut, and
the wind threatening to blow my hat off, and blowing it off, and my
"back-hair" tumbling down,--and the old house is at last despoiled. The
rooms stand bare and brown and desolate. The sun, a hand-breadth above
the horizon, pours in through the unblinking windows. The last load is
gone. The last man has departed. I am left alone to lock up the house
and walk over the hill to the new home. Then, for the first time, I
remember that I am leaving. As I pass through the door of my own room,
not regretfully, I turn. I look up and down and through and through the
place where I shall never rest again, and I rejoice that it is so. As I
stand there, with the red, solid sunshine lying on the floor, lying on
the walls, unfamiliar in its new profusion, the silence becomes
audible. In the still October evening there is an effort in the air.
The dumb house is striving to find a voice. I feel the struggle of its
insensate frame. The old timbers quiver with the unusual strain. The
strong, blind, vegetable energy agonizes to find expression, and,
wrestling like a pinioned giant, the soul of matter throws off the
weight of Its superincumbent inertia. Slowly, gently, most sorrowfully
through the golden air cleaves a voice that is somewhat a wail, yet not
untuned by love. Inarticulate at first, I catch only the low
mournfulness; but it clears, it concentrates, it murmurs into cadence,
it syllables into intelligence, and thus the old house speaks:--

"Child, my child, forward to depart, stay for one moment your eager
feet. Put off from your brow the crown which the sunset has woven, and
linger yet a little longer in the shadow which enshrouds me forever. I
remember, in this parting hour, the day of days which the tremulous
years bore in their bosom,--a day crimson with the woodbine's happy
flush and glowing with the maple's gold. On that day a tender, tiny
life came down, and stately Silence fled before the pelting of
baby-laughter. Faint memories of far-off olden time were softly
stirred. Blindly thrilled through all my frame a vague, dim sense of
swelling buds, and singing-birds, and summer-gales,--of the purple
beauty of violets, the smells of fragrant earth, and the sweetness of
summer dews and darks. Many a harvest-moon since then has filled her
yellow horn, and queenly Junes crowned with roses have paled before the
sternness of Decembers. But Decembers and Junes alike bore royal gifts
to you,--gifts to the busy brain and the awakening heart. In dell and
copse and meadow and gay green-wood you drank great draughts of life.
Yet, even as I watched, your eyes grew wistful. Your lips framed
questions for which the Springs found no reply, and the sacred mystery
of living brought its sweet, uncertain pain. Then you went away, and a
shadow fell. A gleam passed out of the sunshine and a note from the
robin's song. The knights that pranced on the household hearth grew
faint and still, and died for want of young eyes to mark their
splendor. But when your feet, ever and anon, turned homeward, they used
a firmer step, and I knew, that, though the path might be rough, you
trod it bravely. I saw that you had learned how doing is a nobler thing
than dreaming, yet kept the holy fire burning in the holy place. But
now you go, and there will be no return. The stars are faded from the
sky. The leaves writhe on the greensward. The breezes wail a dirge. The
summer rain is pallid like winter snow. And--O bitterest cup of
all!--the golden memories of the past have vanished from your heart. I
totter down to the grave, while you go on from strength to strength.
The Junes that gave you life brought death to me, and you sorrow not. O
child of my tender care, look not so coldly on my pain! Breathe one
sigh of regret, drop one tear of pity, before we part!"

The mournful murmur ceased. I am not adamant. My savage crouched out of
sight among the underbrush. I think something stirred in the back of my
eyes. There was even a suspicion of dampness in front. I thrust my hand
in my pocket to have my handkerchief ready in case of a catastrophe. It
was an unfortunate proceeding. My pocket was crammed full. I had to
push my fingers in between all manner of rubbish, to get at the
required article, and when I got hold of it, I had to pull with all my
might to get it out, and when it did come, out with it came a tin box
of mustard seed, a round wooden box of tooth-powder, a ball of twine, a
paper of picture-books, and a pair of gloves. Of course, the covers of
both the boxes came off. The seed scattered over the floor. The
tooth-powder puffed a white cloud into my face. The ball of twine
unrolled and trundled to the other side of the room. I gathered up what
I could, but, by the time order was restored and my handkerchief ready
for use, I had no use for it. The stirring in the back of my eyes had
stopped. The dewiness had disappeared. My savage sprang out from the
underbrush and brandished his tomahawk. And to the old house I made
answer as a Bushman of Caffraria might, or a Sioux of the
Prae-Pilgrimic Age:--

"Old House, hush up! Why do you talk stuff? 'Golden memories' indeed!
To hear you, one might suppose you were an ivied castle on the Rhine,
and I a fair-haired princess, cradled in the depths of regal luxury,
feeding on the blossoms of a thousand generations, and heroic from
inborn royalty. 'Tender care'! Did you not wake me in the middle of the
night, last summer, by trickling down water on my face from a passing
shower? and did I not have to get up at that unearthly hour to move the
bed, and step splash into a puddle, and come very near being floated
away? Did not the water drip, drip, drip upon my writing-desk, and soak
the leather and swell the wood, and stain the ribbon and spoil the
paper inside, and all because you were treacherous at the roof and let
it? Have you not made a perfect rattery of yourself, yawning at every
possible chink and crumbling at the underpinning, and keeping me awake
night after night by the tramp of a whole brigade of the Grand Army
that slaughtered Bishop Hatto? Whenever a breeze comes along stout
enough to make an aspen-leaf tremble, don't you immediately go into
hysterics, and rock, and creak, and groan, as if you were the shell of
an earthquake? Don't you shrivel at every window to let in the
northeasters and all the snow-storms that walk abroad? Whenever a
needle, or a pencil, or a penny drops, don't you open somewhere and
take it in? 'Golden memories'! Leaden memories! Wooden memories! Madden

My savage gave a war-whoop. I turned scornfully. I swept down the
staircase. I banged the front-door. I locked it with an accent, and
marched up the hill. A soft sighing breathed past me. I knew it was the
old house mourning for her departing child. The sun had disappeared,
but the western sky was jubilant in purple and gold. The cool evening
calmed me. The echoes of the war-whoop vibrated almost tenderly along
the hushed hillside. I paused on the summit of the hill and looked
back. Down in the valley stood the sorrowful house, tasting the first
bitterness of perpetual desolation. The maples and the oaks and the
beech-trees hung out their flaming banners. The pond lay dark in the
shadow of the circling hills. The years called to me,--the happy,
sun-ripe years that I had left tangled in the apple-blossoms, and
moaning among the pines, and tinkling in the brook, and floating in the
cups of the water-lilies. They looked up at me from the orchard, dark
and cool. They thrilled across from the hill-tops, glowing still with
the glowing sky. I heard their voice by the lilac-bush. They smiled at
me under the peach-trees, and where the blackberries had ripened
against the southern wall. I felt them once more in the clover-smells
and the new-mown hay. They swayed again in the silken tassels of the
crisp, rustling corn. They hummed with the bees in the garden-borders.
They sang with the robins in the cherry-trees, and their tone was
tender and passing sweet. They besought me not to cast away their
memory for despite of the black-browed troop whose vile and sombre
robes had mingled in with their silver garments. They prayed me to
forget, but not all. They minded me of the sweet counsel we had taken
together, when summer came over the hills and walked by the
watercourses. They bade me remember the good tidings of great joy which
they had brought me when my eyes were dim with unavailing tears. My
lips trembled to their call. The war-whoop chanted itself into a
vesper. A happy calm lifted from my heart and quivered out over the
valley, and a comfort settled on the sad old house as I stretched forth
my hands and from my inmost soul breathed down a _Benedicite!_

* * * * *


It may seem to some of my readers that I have wandered from my subject
and forgotten the title of these articles, which purport to be a series
of papers on "Methods of Study in Natural History." But some idea of
the progress of Natural History, of its growth as a science, of the
gradual evolving of general principles out of a chaotic mass of facts,
is a better aid to the student than direct instruction upon special
modes of investigation; and it is with the intention of presenting the
study of Natural History from this point of view that I have chosen my

I have endeavored thus far to show how scientific facts have been
systematized so as to form a classification that daily grows more true
to Nature, in proportion as its errors are corrected by a more intimate
acquaintance with the facts; but I will now attempt a more difficult
task, and try to give some idea of the mental process by which facts
are transformed into scientific truth. I fear that the subject may seem
very dry to my readers, and I would again ask their indulgence for
details absolutely essential to my purpose, but which would indeed be
very wearisome, did they not lead us up to an intelligent and most
significant interpretation of their meaning.

I should be glad to remove the idea that science is the mere amassing
of facts. It is true that scientific results grow out of facts, but not
till they have been fertilized by thought The facts must be collected,
but their mere accumulation will never advance the sum of human
knowledge by one step;--it is the comparison of facts and their
transformation into ideas that lead to a deeper insight into the
significance of Nature. Stringing words together in incoherent
succession does not make an intelligible sentence; facts are the words
of God, and we may heap them together endlessly, but they will teach
us little or nothing till we place them in their true relations and
recognize the thought that binds them together as a consistent whole.

I have spoken of the plans that lie at the foundation of all the
variety of the Animal Kingdom as so many structural ideas which must
have had an intellectual existence in the Creative Conception
independently of any special material expression of them. Difficult
though it be to present these plans as pure abstract formulae, distinct
from the animals that represent them, I would nevertheless attempt to
do it, in order to show how the countless forms of animal life have
been generalized into the few grand, but simple intellectual
conceptions on which all the past populations of the earth as well as
the present creation are founded. In such attempts to divest the
thought of its material expression, especially when that expression is
multiplied in such thousand-fold variety of form and color, our
familiarity with living animals is almost an obstacle to our success.
For I shall hardly be able to allude to the formula of the Radiates,
for instance,--the abstract idea that includes all the structural
possibilities of that division of the Animal Kingdom,--without
recalling to my readers a Polyp or a Jelly-Fish, a Sea-Urchin or a
Star-Fish. Neither can I present the structural elements of the Mollusk

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