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Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 9, No. 56, June, 1862 by Various

Part 3 out of 5

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and unconnected measures," and to act in every constitutional way for
the preservation of invaluable rights. The Governor, as usual, acting
on his theory of insurrection, held that the Convention was designed to
mature plans for it; and he wrote (September l6) to Lord Hillsborough as
to his own plans,--"For my own part, if I had any place of protection
to resort to, I would publish a proclamation against the assembling of
the Convention, but I dare not take so spirited a step without first
securing my retreat"; and, with unusual good sense, he expressed "much
doubt whether the force already ordered by General Gage, namely, two
regiments, would be sufficient" to fight off the original charter, and
to keep the crown officers in their places. There was a small party who
were in favor of resuming the old charter; but the union of the towns of
Massachusetts, and then the union of all the Colonies, for the sake of
continued union with Great Britain, was the key of the action of the
leaders who were the exponents of the Patriots. They did not contemplate
going into acts of government; and neither now nor in the future did
they ever contemplate "sudden and unconnected measures."

Three days later (September 19) Governor Bernard threw off all disguise.
He formally announced to the Council that troops were coming, and asked
this body to provide them quarters. And now began a long, irritating,
and arrogant endeavor on the part of the Executive to browbeat the local
authorities in the matter of providing quarters for the troops. The
official record is voluminous. The Patriots kept strictly to the law,
and won a moral victory: the royal officials persisted in virtually
urging burly British will as law, and suffered the shame of an
ignominious defeat. The Governor thought the Government had received
a blow that made it reel; and, in a garrulous, complaining letter,
supplies not only a vivid idea of the whole of this struggle, but an
idea of his well-deserved individual mortification. "The account up
to this time," (October 30, 1768,) he wrote, "will end in my having
employed myself from September nineteenth to October twenty-sixth, that
is, thirty-eight days, in endeavoring to procure quarters for the two
regiments here to no purpose. For having during this time been bandied
about from one to another, I at length got positive refusals from every
one that I could apply to, that is, the Council, the Selectmen, and the
Justices of the Peace; upon which the General, [Gage,] who came here on
purpose, has found himself obliged to hire and fit up buildings at the
expense of the Crown, by which means the two regiments are at length got
into good occasional barracks."

The new scene of an American States-General in Faneuil Hall,--so the
royal Governor and Parliamentary orators termed the Convention,--a
manifestation of the rising power of the people, was followed by the
spectacle of an imposing naval force in the harbor. The Sam Adams
Regiments, sent on the mission of warring against the republican idea,
were proudly borne to Boston by fifteen British men-of-war, which were
moored (September 29) in well-chosen fighting positions around the
north end of the quiet, but glorious town. In the evening the curious
Bostonians put out in their boats from the wharves to get a near view of
the ships. There were great rejoicings on board. The sky was brilliant
with the rockets that were shot off from the decks, and the air
resounded with the music of the bands. It was noticed that the favorite
piece seemed to be "the Yankee tune": it was played by the regimental
bands when Earl Percy led a British force out of Boston on Lexington
morning, but no mention is made of its being performed when this force
returned in the evening of that famous day, or when the Sam Adams
Regiments left the town.

The King's troops landed on the first day of October. Though it had
been printed in England that ten thousand men were enrolled to oppose
them,--though the local officials had predicted that the event would
occasion a crisis in affairs,--though John Bull had been so abominably
imposed upon that he as much expected to see a mob resist the landing as
he lately expected the mob would resist the delivery of the Confederate
Commissioners,--and though not merely ministerial circles, but all
England, were looking forward with serious apprehensions to the
result,--yet the day was so tame that little history was made worth
relating. As the spectators on board the ships, about noon, were looking
for a battle-scene, they saw only a naval and military show. The ships
of war were prepared for action by loading the guns and putting springs
on the cables. The troops, after sixteen rounds of powder and ball had
been served out to them, entered the boats. Rude artists were looking
on, and sketching the peaceful display, setting down each boat and ship
and island, with view undisturbed by the smoke of battle or even of
salute. They did not notice, however, that the commander of the land
force, Lieutenant-Colonel Dalrymple, went ashore privately, at about
eleven o'clock, and sauntered over the town. He met no local militia;
he saw nor horns nor hoofs of insurrection; he saw not even the royal
Governor, for he had retired to Jamaica Plain; and instead of a cordial
Executive greeting and proper directions as to what to do, he found that
everything was left to himself. He knew that neither the Council nor the
Governor had provided quarters for his command; but from the doings
or non-doings of this day he conceived feelings towards the runaway
official which he expressed by words, at the time, "full as plain as
pleasant," and afterwards officially in writing to his superiors.
Bernard met Dalrymple's intimations of cowardice by the truthful
allegation that there was not the least danger of insurrection, and of
want of attention by the mean allegation that the Colonel was chagrined
because he was not complimented with a dinner.

An hour after the Commander made his reconnoissance, about noon, the
boats moved in fine order towards the Long Wharf, so termed as being a
noble commercial pier running far out into the Bay. Here the Fourteenth
Regiment, under Colonel Dalrymple, landed, and, having formed, marched,
in the words of the time, with drums beating, fifes playing, and colors
flying, up King Street (now State Street) to the Town-House, where it
halted. It is not said that the troops were complimented by the presence
of the people, who, on holidays then as on holidays now, usually
appeared, having an air of self-respect, well-dressed, well-behaved,
with nothing moving among them more threatening than the baton of the
police as the sign of law and authority, but respecting that as the
symbol of their own law. What Tory writers and officials say warrants
the inference that the Patriots kept away. Dalrymple said that the
Convention was planet-stricken; "Sagittarius," a Tory scribbler, says
the Convention ran, and tells how they ran:--"The courage of the
faithful only consisted in blustering, for the morning that the troops
landed they broke up, and rushed out of town like a herd of scalded
hogs." If the Patriots generally were absent, it was from design. The
Fourteenth Regiment remained near the Town-House until the Twenty-Ninth
joined it, when the column marched to the Common. About four o'clock
these troops were joined by the Fifty-Ninth Regiment, and a train
of artillery with two field-pieces. This made a force of a thousand
fine-appearing and well-disciplined regulars.

Colonel Dalrymple ordered the Twenty-Ninth Regiment to encamp
immediately, which, as it had field-equipage, it was enabled to do, and
pitched its tents on the Common; but he had no cover for the Fourteenth
Regiment, and he now endeavored to obtain quarters for it. He was
directed to the Manufactory House, a large building owned by the
Province, in what is now Hamilton Place, near the Common, which was
hired by a zealous Patriot, who declined to let the troops occupy it;
whereupon he applied to the Selectmen for Faneuil Hall, promising that
the utmost care should be taken not to injure the property. "About
twilight," in the words of the "Gazette," "the Fourteenth Regiment
marched down to the Hall, where they stood under arms till near nine
o'clock, when the door, by some means or other, being opened, they took
up their lodgings there that night." The Colonel exultingly wrote,--"By
tolerable management I got possession of Faneuil Hall, the School of
Liberty, from the Sons thereof, without force, and thereby secured all
their arms": about four hundred had been recently placed there to be

Such was the day, so long looked forward to, of the landing of the
King's troops. The people were indignant, but were silent and preserved
their self-respect; but the object of the popular leaders had been
accomplished, so far as the reception of the military force was
concerned. A candid British observer, who was in Boston, saw the truth
and printed it in England:--"The Patriot leaders of the Opposition
were much more concerned at any mobs that happened than the Government
people. These last seem pleased with them, as countenancing their
representations,--the necessity of sending soldiers to keep them in
order." On this occasion, in the words of the "Gazette," "Not the least
attempt was made or contemplated to oppose the landing of the King's
troops or their encampment on the Common." There is no mention made of
even hisses or groans, as the colors that symbolized arbitrary power
were proudly borne up King Street. The peace and good order that marked
the day much chagrined the Loyalists, and fairly astonished "the
gentlemen of the military."

These gentlemen might have read in the next issues of the journals the
temper of the public mind, in the comments freely made on their mission
and on the events that were said to have occasioned their presence.
The pretext, the obnoxious proceedings of the eighteenth of March, was
characterized as the trifling hallooing of a harmless procession; the
mob of the tenth of June was more serious, but was soon over; but on
the all-important and vital point of allegiance, they might have seen
expressed, in the weighty words of the Council, infinite regret at the
reflection which that show of force implied on the loyalty of the people
to their sovereign, who had not in his wide-extended dominions any more
faithful subjects than in the town of Boston. And what really was the
offence of the Patriots? They had resolved, they had petitioned, they
had agreed not to import or to buy British goods. But they were not
law-breakers, for they could triumphantly challenge their opponents to
produce a single instance since the tenth of June of an interruption of
the public peace or of resistance to law; and they were not political
heretics, for the principles of colonial administration which they stood
on were such as their countrymen unanimously now indorse, and British
statesmanship is now pleased to accept. Yet they were threatened in the
streets with the whipping-post and the pillory, with the loss of their
ears or their heads,--and in official instructions, printed in the
journals, with transportation to England for trial. This last threat was
serious. The Government proposed to make arrests under a statute of the
reign of Henry VIII.: actually designed (Lord Mahon's words) "to draw
forth the mouldering edict of a tyrant from the dust where it had long
lain, and where it ever deserved to lie, and to fling it" against a band
of popular leaders who were wisely and well supporting a most sacred
cause. But these leaders were not actuated by the fanaticism that is
always blind and often cruel, nor by the ambition that is unworthy and
is then reckless and criminal; but, with a clear apprehension of their
ground and definite notions of policy, they went forward with no
faltering step. Their calm and true statement through the press
was,--"It is the part this town has taken on the side of Liberty,
and its noble exertions in favor of the rights of America, that have
rendered it so obnoxious to the tools of arbitrary power." "We are now
[October 3, 1768] become a spectacle to all North America. May our
conduct be such as not to disgrace ourselves or injure the common

Thus wove the solid men of Boston their mantle of enduring glory.


Wearily, wearily, wearily:
Sobbing through space like a south-wind,
Floating in limitless ether,
Ether unbounded, unfathomed,
Where is no upward nor downward,
Island, nor shallow, nor shore:
Wearily floating and sobbing,
Out of the body to God!

Lost in the spaces of blankness,
Lost in the deepening abysses,
Haunted and tracked by the past:
No more sweet human caresses,
No more the springing of morning,
Never again from the present
Into a future beguiled:
Lonely, defiled, and despairing,
Out of the body to God!

Reeling, and tearless, and desperate,
On through the quiet of ether,
Helpless, alone, and forsaken,
Faithless in ignorant anguish,
Faithless of gasping repentance,
Measuring Him by thy measure,--
Measure of need and desert,--
Out of the body to God!

Soft through the starless abysses,
Soft as the breath of the summer
Loosens the chains of the river,
Sweeping it free to the sea,
Murmurs a murmur of peace:--
"Soul! in the deepness of heaven
Findest thou shallow or shore?
Hast thou beat madly on limit?
Hast thou been stayed in thy fleeing
Out of the body to God?

"Thou that hast known Me in spaces
Boundless, untraversed, unfathomed,
Hast thou not known Me in love?
Am I, Creator and Guider,
Less than My kingdom and work?
Come, O thou weary and desolate!
Come to the heart of thy Father
Home from thy wanderings weary,
Home from the lost to the Loving,
Out of the body to God!"


Among the lower animals, so far as the facts have been noticed, there
seems no great inequality, as to strength or endurance, between the
sexes. In migratory tribes, as of birds or buffaloes, the males are not
observed to slacken or shorten their journeys from any gallant
deference to female weakness, nor are the females found to perish
disproportionately through exhaustion. It is the English experience
that among coursing-dogs and race-horses there is no serious sexual
inequality. Aelian says that Semiramis did not exult when in the chase
she captured a lion, but was proud when she took a lioness, the dangers
of the feat being far greater. Hunters as willingly encounter the male
as the female of most savage beasts; and if an adventurous fowler,
plundering an eagle's nest, has his eyes assaulted by the parent-bird,
it is no matter whether the discourtesy proceeds from the gentleman or
the lady of the household.

Passing to the ranks of humanity, it is the general rule, that, wherever
the physical nature has a fair chance, the woman shows no extreme
deficiency of endurance or strength. Even the sentimental physiology
of Michelet is compelled to own that his elaborate theories of lovely
invalidism have no application to the peasant-women of France, that
is, to nineteen-twentieths of the population. Among human beings,
the disparities of race and training far outweigh those of sex. The
sedentary philosopher, turning from his demonstration of the hopeless
inferiority of woman, finds with dismay that his Irish or negro
handmaiden can lift a heavy coal-hod more easily than he. And while the
dream is vanishing of the superiority of savage races on every other
point, it still remains unquestionable that in every distinctive
attribute of physical womanhood the barbarian has the advantage.

The truth is, that in all countries female health and strength go with
peasant habits. In Italy, for instance, About says, that, of all useful
animals, the woman is the one that the Roman peasant employs with the
most profit. "She makes the bread and the cake of Turkish corn; she
spins, she weaves, she sews; she goes every day three miles for wood and
a mile for water; she carries on her head the load of a mule; she toils
from sunrise to sunset without resisting or even complaining. The
children, which she brings forth in great numbers, and which she nurses
herself, are a great resource; from the age of four years they can be
employed in guarding other animals."

Beside this may be placed the experience of Moffat, the African
missionary, who, seeing a party of native women engaged in their usual
labor of house-building, and just ready to put the roof on, suggested
that some of the men who stood by should lend a hand. It was received
with general laughter; but Mahuto, the queen, declared that the plan,
though hopeless of execution, was in itself a good one, and that men,
though excused from lighter labors, ought to take an equal share in the
severer,--adding, that she wished the missionaries would give their
husbands medicine and make them work.

The health of educated womanhood in the different European nations seems
to depend mainly upon the degree of conformity to these rustic habits
of air and exercise. In Italy, Spain, Portugal, the women of the upper
classes lead secluded and unhealthy lives, and hence their physical
condition is not superior to our own. In the Northern nations, women of
refinement do more to emulate the active habits of the peasantry,--only
substituting out-door relaxations for out-door toil,--and so they share
their health. This is especially the case in England, which accordingly
seems to furnish the representative types of vigorous womanhood.

"The nervous system of the female sex in England seems to be of a much
stronger mould than that of other nations," says Dr. Merei, a medical
practitioner of English and Continental experience. "They bear a degree
of irritation in their systems, without the issue of fits, which in
other races is not so easily tolerated." So Professor Tyndall, watching
female pedestrianism among the Alps, exults in his countrywomen:--"The
contrast in regard to energy between the maidens of the British Isles
and those of the Continent and of America is astonishing." When Catlin's
Indians first walked the streets of London, they reported with wonder
that they had seen many handsome squaws holding to the arms of men, "and
they did not look sick either";--a remark which no complimentary savage
was ever heard to make in any Cisatlantic metropolis.

There is undoubtedly an impression in this country that the English
vigor is bought at some sacrifice,--that it implies a nervous
organization less fine and artistic, features and limbs more rudely
moulded, and something more coarse and peasant-like in the whole average
texture. Making all due allowance for national vanity, it is yet easy to
see that superiority may be had more cheaply by lowering the plane of
attainment. The physique of a healthy day-laborer is a thing of inferior
mould to the physique of a healthy artist. Muscular power needs also
nervous power to bring out its finest quality. Lightness and grace are
not incompatible with vigor, but are its crowning illustration.
Apollo is above Hercules; Hebe and Diana are winged, not weighty. The
physiologist must never forget that Nature is aiming at a keener and
subtiler temperament in framing the American,--as beneath our drier
atmosphere the whole scale of sounds and hues and odors is tuned to a
higher key,--and that for us an equal state of health may yet produce
a higher type of humanity. To make up the arrears of past neglect,
therefore, is a matter of absolute necessity, if we wish this experiment
of national temperament to have any chance; since rude health, however
obtuse, will in the end overmatch disease, however finely strung.

But the fact must always be kept in mind that the whole problem
of female health is most closely intertwined with that of social
conditions. The Anglo-Saxon organization is being modified not only in
America, but also in England, with the changing habits of the people. In
the days of Henry VIII. it was "a wyve's occupation to winnow all manner
of cornes, to make malte, to wash and ironyng, to make hay, shere corne,
and in time of nede to help her husband fill the muchpayne, drive the
plough, load hay, corne, and such other, and go or ride to the market to
sell butter, cheese, egges, chekyns, capons, hens, pigs, geese, and all
manner of cornes." But now there is everywhere complaint of the growing
delicacy and fragility of the English female population, even in rural
regions; and the king of sanitary reformers, Edwin Chadwick, has lately
made this complaint the subject of a special report before the National
Association. He assumes, as a matter settled by medical authority, that
the proportion of mothers who can suckle their children is decidedly
diminishing among the upper and middle classes, that deaths from
childbirth are eight times as great among these classes as among the
peasantry, and that spinal distortion, hysteria, and painful disorders
are on the increase. Nine-tenths of the evil he attributes to the long
hours of school study, and to the neglect of physical exercises for

This shows that the symptoms of ill-health among women are not a matter
of climate only, but indicate a change in social conditions, producing
a change of personal habits. It is something which reaches all; for the
standard of health in the farm-houses is with us no higher than in the
cities. It is something which, unless removed, stands as a bar to any
substantial progress in civilization. It is a mere mockery for the
millionnaire to create galleries of Art, bringing from Italy a Venus on
canvas or a stone Diana, if meanwhile a lovelier bloom than ever artist
painted is fading from his own child's cheek, and a firmer vigor than
that of marble is vanishing from her enfeebled arms. What use to found
colleges for girls whom even the high-school breaks down, or to induct
them into new industrial pursuits when they have not strength to stand
behind a counter? How appeal to any woman to enlarge her thoughts beyond
the mere drudgery of the household, when she "dies daily" beneath the
exhaustion of even that?

And the perplexity lies beyond the disease, in the perils involved even
in the remedy. No person can be long conversant with physical training,
without learning to shrink from the responsibility of the health of
girls. The panacea for boyish health is commonly simple, even for
delicate cases. Removal from books, if necessary, and the substitution
of farm-life,--with good food, pure air, dogs, horses, oxen, hens,
rabbits,--and fresh or salt water within walking distance. Secure these
conditions, and then let him alone; he will not hurt himself. Nor
will, during mere childhood, his little sister experience anything but
benefit, under the same circumstances. But at the epoch of womanhood,
precisely when the constitution should be acquiring robust strength, her
perils begin; she then needs not merely to be allured to exertion, but
to be protected against over-exertion; experience shows that she cannot
be turned loose, cannot be safely left with boyish freedom to take her
fill of running, rowing, riding, swimming, skating,--because life-long
injury may be the penalty of a single excess. This necessity for caution
cannot be the normal condition, for such caution cannot be exerted for
the female peasant or savage, but it seems the necessary condition for
American young women. It is a fact not to be ignored, that some of the
strongest and most athletic girls among us have lost their health and
become invalids for years, simply by being allowed to live the robust,
careless, indiscreet life on which boys thrive so wonderfully. It is
fatal, if they do too little, and disastrous, if they do too much;
and between these two opposing perils the process of steering is so
difficult that the majority of parents end in letting go the helm and
leaving the fragile vessel to steer itself.

Everything that follows in these pages must therefore be construed in
the light of this admitted difficulty. The health of boys is a matter
not hard to treat, on purely physiological grounds; but in dealing with
that of girls caution is necessary. Yet, after all, the perplexities can
only obscure the details of the prescription, while the main substance
is unquestionable. Nowhere in the universe, save in improved habits, can
we ever find health for our girls. Special delicacy in the conditions of
the problem only implies more sedulous care in the solution. The great
laws of exercise, of respiration, of digestion are essentially the same
for all human beings; and greater sensitiveness in the patient should
not relax, but only stimulate, our efforts after cure. And the
unquestionable fact that there are among us, after the worst is said,
large numbers of robust and healthy women, should keep up our courage
until we can apply their standard to the whole sex.

In presence of an evil so great, it is inevitable that there should be
some fantastic theories of cure. But extremes are quite pardonable,
where it is so important to explore all the sources of danger. Special
ills should have special assailants, at whatever risk of exaggeration.
As water-cures and vegetarian boarding-houses are the necessary defence
of humanity against dirt and over-eating, so is the most ungainly
Bloomer that ever drifted on bare poles across the continent a
providential protest against the fashion-plates. It is probable, that,
on the whole, there is a gradual amelioration in female costume. These
hooded water-proof cloaks, equalizing all womankind,--these thick soles
and heavy heels, proclaiming themselves with such masculine emphasis
on the pavement,--these priceless india-rubber boots, emancipating all
juvenile femineity from the terrors of mud and snow,--all these indicate
an approaching era of good sense; for they are the requisite machinery
of air, exercise, and health, so far as they go.

The weight of skirts and the constraints of corsets are still properly
made the theme of indignant declamation. Yet let us be just. It is
impossible to make costume the prime culprit, when we recall what robust
generations have been reared beneath the same formidable panoply. For
instance, it seems as if no woman could habitually walk uninjured with a
weight of twelve pounds of skirts suspended at her hips,--Dr. Coale is
responsible for the statistics,--and as if salvation must therefore lie
in shoulder-straps. Yet the practice cannot be sheer suicide, when the
Dutch peasant-girl plods bloomingly through her daily duties beneath a
dozen successive involucres of flannel. So in regard to tight lacing,
no one can doubt its ill effects, since even a man's loose garments
are known to diminish by one-fourth his capacity for respiration. Yet
inspect in the shop-windows (where the facts of female costume are
obtruded too pertinaciously for the public to remain in ignorance)
the light and flexible corsets of these days, and then contemplate at
Pilgrim Hall in Plymouth the stout buckram stays that once incased the
stouter heart of Alice Bradford. Those, again, were to those of a still
earlier epoch as leather to chain-armor. The Countess of Buchan was
confined in an iron cage for life for assisting to crown Robert the
Bruce, but her only loss by the incarceration was that her iron cage
ceased to be portable.

Passing from costume, it must be noticed that there are many physical
evils which the American woman shares with the other sex, but which bear
with far greater severity on her finer organization. There is improper
food, for instance. The fried or salted meat, the heavy bread, the
perennial pork, the disastrous mince-pies of our farmers' houses are
sometimes pardoned by Nature to the men of the family, in consideration
of twelve or more hours of out-door labor. For the more sedentary and
delicate daughter there is no such atonement, and she vibrates between
dyspepsia and starvation. The only locality in America where I have ever
found the farming population living habitually on wholesome diet is the
Quaker region in Eastern Pennsylvania, and I have never seen anywhere
else such a healthy race of women. Yet here, again, it is not safe to
be hasty, or to lay the whole responsibility upon the kitchen, when we
recall the astounding diet on which healthy Englishwomen subsisted two
centuries ago. Consider, for instance, the housekeeping of the Duke of
Northumberland. "My lord and lady have for breakfast, at seven o'clock,
a quart of beer, as much wine, two pieces of salt fish, six red herring,
four white ones, and a dish of sprats." Digestive resources which
could, entertain this bill of fare might safely be trusted to travel in

The educational excesses of our schools, also, though shared by both
sexes, tell much more formidably upon girls, in proportion as they are
keener students, more submissive pupils, and are given to studying their
lessons at recess-time, instead of shouting and racing in the open
air. They are also easily coerced into devoting Wednesday and Saturday
afternoons to the added atrocity of music-lessons, and in general, but
for the recent blessed innovation of skating, would undoubtedly submit
to having every atom of air and exercise eliminated from their lives. It
is rare to find an American mother who habitually ranks physical vigor
first, in rearing her daughters, and intellectual culture only second;
indeed, they are commonly satisfied with a merely negative condition of
health. The girl is considered to be well, if she is not too ill to go
to school; and she therefore lives from hand to mouth, as respects her
constitution, and lays up nothing for emergencies. From this negative
condition proceeds her inability to endure accidents which to an active
boy would be trivial. Who ever hears of a boy's incurring a lame knee
for a year by slipping on the ice, or spinal disease for a lifetime by
a fall from a sled? And if a girl has not enough of surplus vitality to
overcome such trifles as these, how is she fitted to meet the coming
fatigues of wife and mother?

These are important, if superficial, suggestions; but there are other
considerations which go deeper. I take the special provocatives of
disease among American women to be in great part social. The one marked
step achieved thus far by our civilization appears to be the abolition
of the peasant class, among the native-born, and the elevation of the
mass of women to the social zone of music-lessons and silk gowns. This
implies the disappearance of field-labor for women, and, unfortunately,
of that rustic health also which in other countries is a standing
exemplar for all classes. Wherever the majority of women work in the
fields, the privileged minority are constantly reminded that they also
hold their health by the tenure of some substituted activity. With
us, all women have been relieved from out-door labor,--and are being
sacrificed in the process, until they learn to supply its place. Except
the graceful and vanishing pursuit of hop-picking, there is in New
England no agricultural labor in which women can be said to be
habitually engaged. Most persons never saw an American woman making hay,
unless in the highly imaginative cantata of "The Hay-Makers"; and Dolly
the Dairy-Maid is becoming to our children as purely ideal a being as
Cinderella. We thus lose not only the immediate effect, but the indirect
example, of these out-door toils.

This influence of the social transition bears upon all women: there
is another which especially touches wives and mothers. In European
countries, the aim at anything like gentility implies keeping one or
more domestics to perform house-hold labors; but in our Free States
every family aims at gentility, while not one in five keeps a domestic.
The aim is not a foolish one, though follies may accompany it,--for the
average ambition of our people includes a certain amount of refined
cultivation;--it is only that the process is exhausting. Every
woman must have a best-parlor with hair-cloth furniture and a
photograph--book; she must have a piano, or some cheaper substitute;
her little girls must have embroidered skirts and much mathematical
knowledge; her husband must have two or even three hot meals every day
of his life; and yet her house must be in perfect order early in the
afternoon, and she prepared to go out and pay calls, with a black silk
dress and a card-case. In the evening she will go to a concert or a
lecture, and then, at the end of all, she will very possibly sit up
after midnight with her sewing-machine, doing extra shop-work to pay for
little Ella's music-lessons. All this every "capable" New-England woman
will do, or die. She does it, and dies; and then we are astonished
that her vital energy gives out sooner than that of an Irishwoman in a
shanty, with no ambition on earth but to supply her young Patricks with
adequate potatoes.

Now it is useless to attempt to set back the great social flood. The
New-England housekeeper will never be killed by idleness, at any rate;
and if she is exposed to the opposite danger, we must fit her for it,
that is all. There is reason to be hopeful; the human race as a whole is
tending upward, even physically, and if we cannot make our girls healthy
quite yet, we shall learn to do it by-and-by. Meanwhile we must hold
hard to the conviction, that not merely decent health, but even a high
physical training, is a thing thoroughly practicable for both sexes. If
a young girl can tire out her partner in the dance, if a delicate wife
can carry her baby twice as long as her athletic husband, (for certainly
there is nothing in the gymnasium more amazing than the mother's left
arm,) then it is evident that the female frame contains muscular power,
or its equivalent, though it may take music or maternity to bring it
out. But other inducements have proved sufficient, and the results do
not admit of question. The Oriental _bayaderes_, for instance, are
trained from childhood as gymnasts: they carry heavy jars on their
heads, to improve strength, gait, and figure; they fly kites, to acquire
"statuesque attitudes and graceful surprises"; they must learn to lay
the back of the hand flat against the wrist, to partially bend the
arm in both directions at the elbow, and, inclining the whole person
backward from the waist, to sweep the floor with the hair. So, among
ourselves, the great athletic resources of the female frame are
vindicated by every equestrian goddess of the circus, every pet of the
ballet. Those airy nymphs have been educated for their vocation by an
amount of physical fatigue which their dandy admirers may well prefer to
contemplate through the safe remoteness of an opera-glass.

Dr. Gardner, of New York, has lately contributed very important
professional observations upon this class of his patients; he describes
their physique as infinitely superior to that of ordinary women,
wonderfully adapting them not only to the extraordinary, but to the
common perils of their sex, "with that happy union of power and
pliability most to be desired." "Their occupation demands in its daily
study and subsequent practice an amount of long-continued muscular
energy of the severest character, little recognized or understood by
the community"; and his description of their habitual immunity in the
ordeals of womanhood reminds one of the descriptions of savage tribes.
But it is really a singular retribution for our prolonged offences
against the body, when our saints are thus compelled to take their
models from the reputed sinners,--prize-fighters being propounded as
missionaries for the men, and opera-dancers for the women.

Are we literally to infer, then, that dancing must be the primary
prescription? It would not be a bad one. It was an invaluable hint of
Hippocrates, that the second-best remedy is better than the best, if the
patient likes it best. Beyond all other merits of the remedy in question
is this crowning advantage, that the patient likes it. Has any form of
exercise ever yet been invented which a young girl would not leave for

"Women, it is well known," says Jean Paul, "cannot run, but only dance,
and every one could more easily reach a given point by dancing than by
walking." It is practised in this country under immense disadvantages:
first, because of late hours and heated rooms; and secondly, because
some of the current dances seem equally questionable to the mamma and
the physiologist. But it is doubtful whether any possible gymnastic
arrangement for a high-school would be on the whole so provocative
of the wholesome exercise as a special hall for dancing, thoroughly
ventilated, and provided with piano and spring-floor. The spontaneous
festivals of every recess-time would then rival those German
public-rooms, where it is said you may see a whole company waltzing like
teetotums, with the windows wide open, at four o'clock in the afternoon.

Skating is dancing in another form; both aim at flying, and skating
comes nearest to success. The triumph of this art has been so
astonishing, in the universality of its introduction among our girls
within the short space of four winters, that it is hardly necessary to
speak of it, except to deduce the hope that other out-door enjoyments,
equally within the reach of the girls, may be as easily popularized.

For any form of locomotion less winged than skating and dancing the feet
of American girls have hitherto seemed somehow unfitted by Nature. There
is every abstract reason why they should love walking, on this side of
the Atlantic: there is plenty of room for it, the continent is large;
the exercise, moreover, brightens the eye and purifies the complexion,
--so the physiologists declare: so that an English chemist classifies
red cheeks as being merely oxygen in another form, and advises young
ladies who wish for a pair to seek them where the roses get them,
out-of-doors,--upon which an impertinent damsel writes to ask "Punch"
if they might not as well carry the imitation of the roses a little
farther, and remain in their beds all the time? But it is a lamentable
fact, that walking, for the mere love of it, is a rare habit among our
young women, and rarer probably in the country than in the city; it is
uncommon to hear of one who walks habitually as much as two miles a day.
There are, of course, many exceptional instances: I know maidens who
love steep paths and mountain rains, like Wordsworth's Louisa, and I
have even heard of eight young ladies who walked from Andover to Boston,
twenty-three miles, in six hours, and of two who did forty-five miles in
two days. Moreover, with our impulsive temperaments, a special object
will always operate as a strong allurement. A confectioner's shop, for
instance. A camp somewhere in the suburbs, with dress-parades, and
available lieutenants. A new article of dress: a real ermine cape may be
counted as good for three miles a day, for the season. A dearest friend
within pedestrian distance: so that it would seem well to plant a circle
of delightful families just in the outskirts of every town, merely to
serve as magnets. Indeed, so desperate has the emergency become, that
one might take even ladies' hoops to be a secret device of Nature to
secure more exercise for the occupants by compelling them thus to make
the circuit of each other, as the two fat noblemen at the French court
vindicated themselves from the charge of indolence by declaring that
each promenaded twice round his friend every morning.

In view of this distaste for pedestrian exercise, it seems strange
that the present revival of athletic exercises has not yet reached to
horsemanship, the traditional type of all noble training, _chevalerie_,
chivalry. Certainly it is not for the want of horse-flesh, for never
perhaps was so much of that costly commodity owned in this community;
yet in New England you shall find private individuals who keep a
half-dozen horses each, and livery-stables possessing fifty, and never a
proper saddle-horse among them. In some countries, riding does half the
work of physical training, for both sexes; Sir Walter Scott, when at
Abbotsford, never omitted his daily ride, and took his little daughter
with him, from the time she could sit on horseback; but what New-England
man, in purchasing a steed, selects with a view to a side-saddle? This
seems a sad result of the wheel-maker's trade, and one grudges St.
Willegis the wheel on his coat-of-arms, if it has thus served to tame
down freeborn men and women to the slouching and indolent practice
of driving,--a practice in which the human figure appears at such
disadvantage, that one can hardly wonder at Horace Walpole's coachman,
who had laid up a small fortune by driving the maids-of-honor, and
left it all to his son upon condition that he never should take a
maid-of-honor for his wife.

An exercise to which girls take almost as naturally as to dancing is
that of rowing, an accomplishment thoroughly feminine, learned with
great facility, and on the whole safer than most other sports. Yet until
within a few years no one thought of it in connection with women, unless
with semi-mythical beings, like Ellen Douglas or Grace Darling. Even now
it is chiefly a city accomplishment, and you rarely find at rural or
sea-side places a village damsel who has ever handled an oar. But once
having acquired the art, girls will readily fatigue themselves with its
practice, unsolicited, careless of tan and freckles. At Dove Harbor it
is far easier at any time to induce the young ladies to row for two
hours than to walk in the beautiful wood-paths for fifteen minutes;--the
walking tires them. No matter; for a special exercise the rowing is the
most valuable of the two, and furnishes just what the dancing-school
omits. Unfortunately, the element of water is not quite a universal
possession, and no one can train Naiads on dry land.

One of the merits of boating is that it suggests indirectly the
attendant accomplishment of swimming, and this is some thing of
such priceless importance that no trouble can be too great for its
acquisition. Parents are uneasy until their children are vaccinated, and
yet leave them to incur a risk as great and almost as easily averted.
The barbarian mother, who, lowering her baby into the water by her
girdle, teaches it to swim ere it can walk, is before us in this duty.
Swimming, moreover, is not one of those arts in which a little learning
is a dangerous thing; on the contrary, a little may be as useful in
an emergency as a great deal, if it gives those few moments of
self-possession amid danger which will commonly keep a person from
drowning until assistance comes. Women are naturally as well fitted for
swimming as men, since specific buoyancy is here more than a match
for strength; but effort is often needed to secure for them those
opportunities of instruction and practice which the unrestrained
wanderings of boys secure for them so easily. For this purpose,
swimming-schools for ladies are now established in many places, at home
and abroad; and the newspapers have lately chronicled a swimming-match
at a girls' school in Berlin, where thirty-three competitors were
entered for the prize,--and another among titled ladies in Paris, where
each fashionable swimmer was allowed the use of the left hand only, the
right hand sustaining an open parasol. Our own waters have, it may be,
exhibited spectacles as graceful, though less known to fame. Never may I
forget the bevy of bright maidens who under my pilotage buffeted on many
a summer's day the surges of Cape Ann, learning a wholly new delight in
trusting the buoyancy of the kind old ocean and the vigor of their
own fair arms. Ah, my pupils, some of you have since been a prince's
partners in the ball-room; but in those days, among the dancing waves,
it was King Neptune who placed on you his crown.

Other out-door habits depend upon the personal tastes of the individual,
in certain directions, and are best cultivated by educating these. If a
young girl is born and bred with a love of any branch of natural history
or of horticulture, happy is she; for the mere unconscious interest of
the pursuit is an added lease of life to her. It is the same with all
branches of Art whose pursuit leads into the open air. Rosa Bonheur,
with her wanderings among mountains and pastures, alternating with the
vigorous work of the studio, needed no other appliances for health. The
same advantages come to many, in spite of delinquent mothers, in
the bracing habits of household labor, at least where mechanical
improvements have not rendered it too easy. Improved cooking-stoves and
Mrs. Cornelius have made the culinary art such a path of roses that
it is hardly now included in early training, but deferred till after
matrimony. Yet bread-making in well-ventilated kitchens and sweeping in
open-windowed rooms are calisthenics so bracing that one grudges them to
the Irish maidens, whose round and comely arms betray so much less need
of their tonic influence than the shrunken muscles exhibited so freely
by our short-sleeved belles.

Perhaps even well-developed arms are not so essential to female beauty
as erectness of figure, a trait on which our low school-desks have made
sad havoc. The only sure panacea for round shoulders in boys appears to
be the military drill, and Miss Mitford records that in her youth it was
the custom in girls' schools to apply the same remedy. Dr. Lewis relies
greatly on the carrying of moderate weights upon a padded wooden cap
which he has devised for this purpose; and certainly the straightest
female figure with which I am acquainted--aged seventy-four--is said to
have been formed by the youthful habit of pacing the floor for half an
hour dally, with a book upon the head, under rigid maternal discipline.
Another traditional method is to insist that the damsel shall sit erect,
without leaning against the chair, for a certain number of hours daily;
and Sir Walter Scott says that his mother, in her eightieth year, took
as much care to avoid giving any support to her back as if she had been
still under the stern eye of Mrs. Ogilvie, her early teacher. Such
simple methods may not be enough to check diseased curvatures or
inequalities when already formed: these are best met by Ling's system
of medical gymnastics, or "movement-cure," as applied by Dr. Lewis, Dr.
Taylor, and others.

The ordinary gymnastic apparatus has also been employed extensively by
women, and that very successfully, wherever the exercises have been
systematically organized, with agreeable classes and competent teachers.
If the gymnasium often fails to interest girls as much as boys, it is
probably from deficiency in these respects,--and also because the female
pupils, beginning on a lower plane of strength, do not command so great
a variety of exercises, and so tire of the affair more readily. But
hundreds, if not thousands, of American women have practised in these
institutions during the last ten years,--single establishments in large
cities having sometimes several hundred pupils,--and many have attained
a high degree of skill in climbing, vaulting, swinging, and the like;
nor can I find that any undue proportion of accidents has occurred.
Wherever Dr. Lewis's methods have been introduced, important advantages
have followed. He has invented an astonishing variety of games and
well-studied movements,--with the lightest and cheapest apparatus,
balls, bags, rings, wands, wooden dumb-bells, small clubs, and other
instrumentalities,--which are all gracefully and effectually used by his
classes, to the sound of music, and in a way to spare the weakest when
lightly administered, or to fatigue the strongest when applied in force.
Being adapted for united use by both sexes, they make more thorough
appeal to the social element than the ordinary gymnastics; and evening
classes, to meet several evenings in a week, have proved exceedingly
popular in some of our towns. These exercises do not require fixed
apparatus or a special hall. For this and other reasons they are
peculiarly adapted for use in schools, and it would be well if they
could be regularly taught in our normal institutions. Dr. Lewis himself
is now training regular teachers to carry on the same good work, and his
movement is undoubtedly the most important single step yet taken for the
physical education of American women.

There is withal a variety of agreeable minor exercises, dating back
farther than gymnastic professors, which must not be omitted. Archery,
still in fashion in England, has never fairly taken root among us, and
seems almost hopeless: the clubs formed for its promotion die out almost
as speedily as cricket-clubs, and leave no trace behind; though this may
not always be. Bowling and billiards are, however, practised by lady
amateurs, just so far as they find opportunity, which is not very far;
desirable public or private facilities being obtainable by few only,
except at the summer watering-places. Battledoor-and-shuttlecock seems
likely to come again into favor, and that under eminent auspices:
Dr. Windship holding it in high esteem, as occupying the mind while
employing every part of the body, harmonizing the muscular system,
giving quickness to eye and hand, and improving the balancing power.
The English, who systematize all amusements so much more than we, have
developed this simple entertainment into several different games,
arduous and complicated as their games of ball. The mere multiplication
of the missiles also lends an additional stimulus, and the statistics
of success in this way appear almost fabulous. A zealous English
battledoorean informs me that the highest scores yet recorded in the
game are as follows: five thousand strokes for a single shuttlecock,
five hundred when employing two, one hundred and fifty with three, and
fifty-two when four airy messengers are kept flying simultaneously.

It may seem trivial to urge upon rational beings the use of a
shuttlecock as a duty; but this is surely better than that one's health
should become a thing as perishable, and fly away as easily. There is
no danger that our educational systems will soon grow too careless of
intellect and too careful of health. Reforms, whether in physiology or
in smaller things, move slowly, when prejudice or habit bars the way.
Paris is the head-quarters of medical science; yet in Paris, to this
day, the poor babies in the great hospital of La Maternite are so
tortured in tight swathings that not a limb can move. Progress is not
in proportion to the amount of scientific knowledge on deposit in any
country, but to the extent of its diffusion. No nation in the world
grapples with its own evils so promptly as ours. It is but a few years
since there was a general croaking about the physical deterioration of
young men in our cities,--and now already the cities and the colleges
are beginning to lead the rural districts in this respect. The guaranty
of reform in American female health is to be found in the growing
popular conviction that reform is needed. The community is tired of
the reproaches of foreigners, and of the more serious evils of homes
desolated by disease, and lives turned to tragedies. Morbid anatomy has
long enough served as a type of feminine loveliness; our polite society
has long enough been a series of soirees of incurables. Health is coming
into fashion. A mercantile parent lately told me that already in his
town, if a girl could vault a five-barred gate, her prospects for a
husband were considered to be improved ten per cent.; and every one
knows that there is no metre of public sentiment so infallible as the
stock-market. Now that the country is becoming safe, we must again turn
our attention to the health of our girls. Unless they are healthy,
the country is not safe. No where can their physical condition be so
important as in a republic. The utmost attention was paid to the bodily
training of Victoria, because she was to be a queen and the mother of
kings. By the theory of our government, however imperfectly applied as
yet, this is the precise position of every American girl. Voltaire
said that the fate of nations had often depended on the gout of a
prime-minister; and the fate of our institutions may hang on the precise
temperament which our next President shall have inherited from his

* * * * *


The starry flower, the flower-like stars that fade
And brighten with the daylight and the dark,
The bluet in the green I faintly mark,
And glimmering crags with laurel overlaid,
Even to the Lord of light, the Lamp of shade,
Shine one to me,--the least still glorious made
As crowned moon or heaven's great hierarch.
And, so, dim grassy flower and night-lit spark
Still move me on and upward for the True;
Seeking, through change, growth, death, in new and old,
The full in few, the statelier in the less,
With patient pain; always remembering this,--
His hand, who touched the sod with showers of gold,
Stippled Orion on the midnight blue.




Among the stock fallacies which belong to public writers and thinkers,
and which exercise a kind of conventional influence as often as they are
paraded, there is none greater than this,--that History always repeats
herself, because Human Nature never changes. The Tories of all ages and
countries content themselves and alarm their neighbors by an adroit
interpolation of this formula in their speech. They create the alarm
because they are contented and intend to remain so. Successive audiences
yield, as to the circus-jokes of the clown, who hits his traditional
laugh in the same place so often that it is a wonder the place is not
worn through. But people of a finer wit are not so easily surprised. If
they bore a fair numerical proportion to the listeners of _doctrinaires_
and alarmists, the repetition would be eventually resisted, with an
indignation equal to the amount of literary and political damage which
it had effected.

If people mean, when they say that Human Nature is always the same, that
a few primitive impulses appear through the disguise of all ages and
races, which can be modified, but never extinguished, which work and
are worked upon, are capable of doing good or harm according to
circumstances, but are at all events the conditions of life and motion,
it is fortunately true. That is to say, it is very fortunate that men
and women inhabit the earth. Their great, simple features uplift and
keep all landscapes in their places, and prevent life from falling
through into the molten and chaotic forces underneath. These rugged
water-sheds inclose, configure, temper, fertilize, and also perturb,
the great scenes and stretches of history. They hold the moisture, the
metal, the gem, the seeds of alternating forests and the patient routine
of countless harvests. Superficially it is a great way round from
the lichen to the vine, but not so far by way of the centre. The
many-colored and astonishing life conceals a few simple motives.
Certainly it is a grand and lucky thing that there are so many people
grouped along the lines of divine consistency.

Men will not starve, if they can help it, nor thirst, if water can be
gathered in the palm or reached by digging. If they succeed in making a
cup, they betray a tendency to ornament its rim or stem, or to emboss a
story on its side. They are not disposed to become food for animals,
or to remain unprotected from the climate. They like to have the
opportunity of supplying their own wants and luxuries, and will resist
any tyrannical interference with the methods they prefer. They propagate
their race, and collect in communities for defence and social advantage.
When thus collected, they will learn to talk, to write, to symbolize,
to construct something, be it a medicine-lodge or a Parthenon. Their
primitive sense of an invisible and spiritual agency assumes the forms
of their ignorance and of their disposition: dread and cruelty, awe and
size, fancy and proportion, gentleness and simplicity, will be found
together in the rites and constructions of religion. They like to make
the whole tribe or generation conform; and it is dangerous to oppose
this tendency to preserve the shape of society from within and to
protect it against assaults from without. These are motives originally
independent of circumstances, and which made the first circumstances by
coming in contact with the elements of the physical world.

But these circumstances are not always and everywhere as invariable
as the primitive wants which first set them in motion. Enlargement of
knowledge, of political and human relations, of the tenure of the earth,
increases the number and variety of circumstances, and combines them
so unexpectedly that it is a science to discover their laws, and the
conditions of action and reaction between men and things that happen. We
can depend upon Human Nature, but the problem always remains, What shall
be expected of Human Nature under this or that modification of its
external environment? Great laws from without act as well as great
laws from within. If we knew all the laws, we should know what average
consequences to expect. But in the mean time we shall commit the error
of supposing that History does nothing but repeat itself, fretfully
crooning into the "dull ear" of age a twice-told tale, if we do not
allow for the modifications amid which the primitive impulses find
themselves at work.

And besides, there is a difference in individuals; one set of people
alone is too poor to furnish us with an idea of human nature. It is
natural for Themistocles, Pausanias, or Benedict Arnold, under suspicion
or ill-treatment, to desert to the enemy, and propose crushing his
country for a balm to apply to wounded feelings. But General Fremont,
in similar circumstances, will derive comfort from his loyal heart, and
wait in hopes that at least a musket may be put into his hands with
which to trust him against the foe. These are very simple variations;
they turn upon the proportion of selfish feeling which the men possess.
A self-seeking man will turn villain under the encroachment of other
people's egotism. The sight of too many trophies will convert a friend
into a covert enemy, who, without being treacherous, will nevertheless
betray a great cause by his jealousy of its great supporter. But the
latter will not always become a traitor to suit the expectations of an
envious friendship. And your own judgment of men and prophecy of events,
if based entirely upon selfish calculation, will entirely fail.

Nations differ also, in spite of the similar things that they do in
analogous circumstances. Both Rome and England will not have too
ambitious neighbors. They hate a preponderating power, and find out
some way to get rid of the threat to their national egotism. The Romans
exterminate the Veians and Carthaginians; they want no colonizing or
commercial rivals. If England rules the sea, and uses its advantage to
create markets where it can buy at the cheapest and sell at the dearest
rates, we can understand its inexpensive sympathy for the people who can
manufacture little and therefore have to import a great deal, who are
thus the natural, disinterested lovers of free trade. It is very easy to
see why England turns red in the Crimea with the effort to lift up that
bag of rags called Turkey, to set it on the overland route to India; one
decayed nation makes a very good buffer to break the shock of natural
competition in the using up of another. It was the constant policy of
Rome to tolerate and patronize the various people in its provinces, to
respect, if not to understand, their religions, and to protect them from
the peculator. She was not so drunk with dominion as not to see that her
own comfort and safety were involved in this bearing to inferior and
half-effete races. On the other hand, England, with far stronger motives
of interest to imitate that policy, disregarding the prophecies of her
best minds, takes no pains to understand, and of course misgoverns and
outrages her poor nebulous Bengalese, and forces the opium which they
cultivate upon the Chinese whom it demoralizes. Is this difference
merely the difference between a pocket in a toga and one in the
trousers? But a nerve from the moral sense does, nevertheless, spread
into _papilloe_ over the surface of the tighter pocket, not entirely
blunted by yellow potations; so that the human as well as financial
advantage of Jamaica emancipation is perceived. Should we expect this
from the nation which undertook the destruction of the Danish fleet
before Copenhagen in 1801, without even the formality of a declaration
of war, on the suspicion that the Dane preferred to sympathize with
France? What moral clamor could have made the selfish exigency of that
act appear more damaging than a coalition of all the fleets of Europe?
Yet plantation fanaticism did not prevent the great act from which we
augured English hatred of a slaveholders' rebellion. Probably the lining
membrane of a pocket may have intermitted accesses of induration:
we must consult circumstances, if we would know what to expect. An
extraordinary vintage or a great fruit year will follow a long series of
scant or average crops; but we can count upon the average.

But unless circumstances are constant, it matters little how constant
tempers and tendencies may be; and the expectations which we found upon
the general action of avarice, credulity, bigotry, self-seeking, or
any of the debased forms of legitimate human impulses, will often
be disappointed by results. Prepare the favorite climate, moisture,
exposure of a foreign plant, imitate its latitude and air and soil: it
will not necessarily grow at all, or, growing, it will only surprise you
by some alteration of its native features. Results are better chemists
than we, and their delicate root-fibres test the ground more accurately;
we shall find them languishing for some favorite elements, or colored
and persuaded by novel ones. History must remember the constants of
Man and of Nature, but be always expecting their variables, lest her
prophetic gift fall into ill-repute.

Thus, give unlimited power to the Catholic, and he cannot anywhere set
up his old-fashioned absolutism, unless you can manage at the same time
to furnish him with Roman and Spanish people, and the fifteenth century.
Yet we, too, have trembled at the imaginary horrors of Popery. All the
power you can thrust and pile upon the Catholic in America will become
an instrument to further the country's tendency towards light, as it
drags the human impulses away from the despotic past. All the Jesuits,
and prize bulls by every steamer, relays of papal agents, and
Corpus-Christi processions in the streets of Boston, will hardly lift
the shoulders of the great protesting country, as it turns to stare from
its tilling, steaming, pioneering, emancipating task.

It is not difficult to see why the revolts of peasants in the Middle
Ages were marked by horrible excesses,--why diplomatic Catholicism
prepared a St. Bartholomew's Eve for Paris,--why Dutch and Scotch
Protestants defaced and trampled under foot ecclesiastical Art,--why
German princes proclaimed a crusade against budding Protestantism and
Pan-slavism under Ziska and Procopius in Bohemia,--why the fagots were
fired at Constance, Prague, and Smithfield, and Pequod wigwams in New
England. All dreadful scenes, by simply taking place, show that they
have reason for it. But will they take place again? A Black Douglas did
undoubtedly live, and he was the nursery-threat for fractious Scotch
children during several generations; the Douglas never caught one of
them, but the threat did. So we are plied with stock-phrases, such as
"the Reign of Terror" and "the Horrors of San Domingo," and History is
abjectly conjured not to repeat herself, as she certainly will do, if
she goes on in the old way. Of course she will. But does she propose to
furnish a fac-simile of any critical epoch which haunts the imaginations
of mankind? That depends upon circumstances. The same barrel will play a
fresh tune by a hair's-breadth shifting of a spring. Two epochs may seem
to be exactly alike, and the men who only remember may seek to terrify
the men who hope by exposing the resemblance. But unless they can show
that all the circumstances are identical, they have no right to infect
the morning with their twilight fears. History insensibly modifies her
plan to secure the maximum of progress with the minimum of catastrophes,
and she repels the flippant insinuation that her children win all their
fresh advantages at the expense of the old crimes.

The story of Hayti is worth telling, apart from its bearing upon
questions connected with the emancipation of slaves. It is a striking
record of the degradation of fine races and the elevation of inferior
ones, and shows with what ease Nature can transfer her good points from
her gifted children and unexpectedly endow with them her neglected
ones,--thus affording us a hint of something that is more permanent and
irreversible than ethnological distinctions, by repeating within our own
time her humane way with her old barbarians whose hair was long. From
them sprang the races which never could have dominated by cunning and
force alone, and which have to lay down their dominion when they have
exhausted everything but force and cunning. It is a story of the
desolation in which the avarice and wrath of man must always travel:
colonial prosperity was nothing but a howling war-path blazed directly
across stately and beautiful human nature. It shows the blood which the
fine hands of luxury never could wash off; the terrible secret at last
betrayed itself. In telling this story, the horrors of San Domingo are
accounted for, and whatever was exceptional in the circumstances is
at the same time marked, to prevent them from being applied without
discrimination to the present condition of America. But the story must
be told from the beginning, for its own sake; otherwise it will be a
bad story, without a moral. If the main features of it are carefully
preserved, it will make its own application.

That, however, is fatal to any attempt to infect minds with the Haytian
bug-bear, now that political discussion threatens to ravage the country
which our arms are saving. It has been used before, when it was
necessary to save the Union and to render anti-slavery sentiment odious.
The weak and designing, and all who wait for the war to achieve a
constitutional recurrence of our national malady, will use it again to
defeat the great act of justice and the people's great necessity.

Slavery is a continual conspiracy. Its life depends upon intrigue,
aggression, adroit combinations with other forms of human selfishness.
The people at the North who at this moment hate to hear the word
Emancipation mentioned, and who insist that the war shall merely restore
things to their original position, are the people who always hated the
phrase "Anti-Slavery," who will be ready to form a fresh coalition with
Slavery for the sake of recovering or creating political advantages,
and whom the South will know how to use again, by reviving ancient
prejudices, and making its very wounds a cause for sympathy. Slavery
will be the nucleus of political combinations so long as it can preserve
its constitutional and commercial advantages,--while it can sell its
cotton and recover its fugitives. Is the precious blood already
spilled in this war to become, as it congeals, nothing but cement to
fugitive-slave bills, and the basis of three-fifths, and the internal
slave-trade? For this we spend three millions a day, and lives whose
value cannot be expressed in dollars,--for this anguish will sit for
years at thousands of desolate hearths, and be the only legacy of
fatherless children. For what glory will they inherit whose fathers fell
to save still a chance or two for Slavery? It is for this we are willing
to incur the moral and financial hazards of a great struggle,--to
furnish an Anti-Republican party of reconstructionists with a bridge
for Slavery to reach a Northern platform, to frown at us again from the
chair of State. The Federal picket who perchance fell last night upon
some obscure outpost of our great line of Freedom has gone up to Heaven
protesting against such cruel expectations, wherever they exist; and
they exist wherever apathy exists, and old hatred lingers, and wherever
minds are cowed and demoralized by the difficulties of this question. In
his body is a bullet run by Slavery, and sent by its unerring purpose;
his comrades will raise over him a little hillock upon which Slavery
will creep to look out for future chances,--ruthlessly scanning the
political horizon from the graves of our unnamed heroes. This, and eight
dollars a month, will his wife inherit; and if she ever sees his grave,
she will see a redoubt which the breast of her husband raises for some
future defence of Slavery. The People, who are waging this war, and
who are actually getting at the foe through the bristling ranks of
politicians and contractors, must have such a moral opinion upon this
question as to defeat these dreadful possibilities. Let us be patient,
because we see some difficulties; but let us give up the war itself
sooner than our resolution, that, either by this war, or after it,
Slavery shall be stripped of its insignia, and turned out to cold and
irretrievable disgrace, weaponless, fangless, and with no object in the
world worthy of its cunning. We can be patient, but we must also be
instant and unanimous in insisting that the whole of Slavery shall pay
the whole of Freedom's bill. Then the dear names whose sound summons
imperatively our tears shall be proudly handed in by us to History, as
we bid her go with us from grave to grave to see how the faith of a
people watched them against the great American Body Snatcher, and kept
them inviolate to be her memorials. We feel our hearts reinforced by the
precious blood which trickled from Ball's Bluff into the Potomac, and
was carried thence into the great sea of our conscience, tumultuous with
pride, anger, and resolve. The drops feed the country's future, wherever
they are caught first by our free convictions ere they sink into the
beloved soil. Let us be instant, be incisive with our resolution, that
peace may not be the mother of another war, and our own victory rout

Blow, North-wind, blow! Keep that bearded field of bayonets levelled
southward! Rustle, robes of Liberty, who art walking terribly over the
land, with sombre countenance, and garments rolled in blood! See, she
advances with one hand armed with Justice, while the other points to
that exquisite symmetry half revealed, as if beckoning thitherward her
children back again to the pure founts of life! "Be not afraid," she
cries, "of the noise of my garments and their blood-stains; for this is
the blood of a new covenant of Freedom, shed to redeem and perpetuate a
chosen land."



This old haunted house of Hayti had many occupants, who left as
heirlooms generation upon generation of hateful memories. Their dreams,
their deeds, their terrific tempers, lurked for the newcomers, and
harried them forth or made them kin. It is a cumulative story of dire
and fateful proceedings, like the story of the family of Pelops. It must
be told with deliberation. So the place, the climate, the aborigines,
the early atrocities, the importation of new races and characteristics,
command consideration as inevitable elements of the narrative.

This spot of the New World was the first to ache beneath the white man's
greedy and superstitious tread. A tenacious Gothic race, after its long
blockade by Moors in the northern mountains of the Iberian Peninsula,
had lately succeeded in recovering the last stronghold of Arab power and
learning. Fresh from the atrocities of that contest, its natural bigotry
deepened by its own struggle for national existence, sombre, fanatical,
cruel, and avaricious, but enterprising and indomitable, it is wafted
across the ocean by Columbus, to expend its propensities unchecked
against a weaker and less characteristic barbarism. What might be
expected, when a few noble men succeed in transporting the worst
features of their own country, in such numbers of intractable people,
the raking of seaports, with little on board in the way of religion,
save the traditions of the Church and the materials for exhibiting the
drama of the Mass! This is the contingent which civilization detaches
for the settlement of another world. It effaces a smiling barbarism by a
saturnine and gloomy one, as when a great forest slides from some height
over a wild gay meadow. These capable, cruel men went sailing among the
Bahamas, soothed by the novelty and delight of finding land, and tried
to behave at first as men do among artless children who measure every
thing by their own scantiness; for they compelled themselves to be very
mild and condescending, till, after various mischances and rebuffs by
sea and land, the temper breaks forth in rage at disappointments, and
Hayti is the first place which is blasted by that frightful Spanish
scowl. The change was as sudden as that from calm weather to one of her
tempests. The whole subsequent history seems as if it were the revenge
of Columbus's own imagination, when the sober truth was discovered
instead of Cipango and the King of India. Thus was the New World
unsettled, and the horrors of San Domingo committed to the soil.

Nearly the whole of Hayti lies between the eighteenth and twentieth
degrees of latitude, and the sixty-ninth, and seventy-fifth of
longitude. Its greatest length is three hundred and forty miles, its
greatest breadth, one hundred and thirty-two. It has a surface of
somewhat more than twenty-seven thousand square miles, or about eighteen
million square acres. The greater part of this is mountain-land. There
are three extensive plains,--La Vega in the east, Santiago in the
north, and Les Plaines in the southeast. These are distinct from the
Savannas.[A] The island is about the size of the State of Maine. Its
shape is peculiar, as it widens gradually from its southeastern end to
nearly the centre of its greatest length, whence the southern coast
trends rapidly to the north and west and stretches into a peninsula,
like a long mandible, corresponding to which on the northern coast is
another half as long, like a broken one, and between these lies a great
bay with the uncultivated island of Gonaive. The eastern part of the
island has also the small peninsula of Saniana, lying along the bay of
that name. The surface is covered by mountains which appear at first to
be tossed together wildly, without system or mutual relation, but they
can be described, upon closer inspection, as four ranges, with a general
parallelism, extending nearly east and west, but broken in the centre
by the Cibao ridge, which radiates in every direction from two or three
peaks, the highest in the island. Their height is reputed to be nine
thousand feet, but they have not yet been accurately measured. The
mountains of La Hotte, which form the long southern tongue of land,
rise to the height of seven thousand feet. They are all of calcareous
formation, and abound in the caverns which are found in limestone
regions. Some of these have their openings on the coast, and are
supposed to extend very far inland; they receive the tide, and reject it
with a bellowing noise, as the pent air struggles with it under their
arched roofs. These were called by the Spaniards _baxos roncadores_,
droning or snoring basses. The French had a name, _le gouffre_, the
gulf, to describe these noises; but they also applied it to the
subterranean rumbling, accompanied with explosions and violent
vibrations of the ground, which is caused by the heavy rains soaking
through the porous stone, after the dry season has heated the whole
surface of the island. The steaming water makes the earth groan and
shake as it forces its way through the crevices, feeling for an outlet,
or thrown back upon its own increasing current. These mysterious noises
filled with awe the native priests who managed the superstition of the
island before the Spaniards introduced another kind: no doubt they
served for omens, to incite or to deter, voices of Chthonian deities,
which needed interpreting in the interest of some great cacique who
would not budge upon his business without the sanction of religion. Many
a buccaneer, in after-times, who quailed before no mortal thunders made
by French or Spanish navies, was soundly frightened by the gigantic
snoring beneath his feet into reviewing his career, and calculating the
thickness of the crust between himself and his impatient retribution.

[Footnote A: Savanna was a Haytian word spelt and pronounced by
Spaniards. It is a plain of grass, affording pasturage in the rainy
season; but a few shrubs also grow upon it. _Pampas_ are vast plains
without vegetation except during three months of the rainy season, when
they yield fine grass. The word is Peruvian; was originally applied to
the plains at the mouth of the La Plata. But the plains of Guiana and
tropical America, which the Spaniards called _Llanos_, are also pampas.
The Hungarian pasture-lands, called _Puszta_, are savannas. A _Steppe_
is properly a vast extent of country, slightly rolling, without woods,
but not without large plants and herbs. In Russia there are sometimes
thickets eight or ten feet high. The salt deserts in Russia are not
called steppes, but _Solniye_. Pampas and deserts are found alternating
with steppes. A _Desert_ may have a sparing vegetation, and so differ
from pampas: if it has any plants, they are scrubby and fibrous, with
few leaves, and of a grayish color, and so it differs from steppes and
savannas. But there are rocky and gravelly, sandy and salt deserts:
gravelly, for instance, in Asia Minor, principally in the district known
to the ancients as the [Greek: katakekaumegae]. A _Heath_ is a level
covered with the plants to which that name has been applied. Finally, a
_Prairie_ differs from a savanna only in being under a zone where the
seasons are not marked as wet and dry, but where the herbage corresponds
to a variable moisture.]

The words _crete_, _pic_, and _montagne_ are sometimes applied to the
peaks and ridges of the island, but the word _morne_, which is a Creole
corruption of _montagne_, is in common use to designate all the elevated
land, the extended ridges which serve as water-sheds for the torrents
of the rainy season, as well as the isolated hillocks, clothed in wood,
which look like huge hay-cocks,--those, for instance, which rise in the
rear of Cap Haytien. The aspect of the higher hills in the interior
might mislead an etymologist to derive the word _morne_ from the French
adjective which means _gloomy_, they are so marked by the ravages of the
hurricane and earthquake, so ploughed up into decrepit features by the
rains, the pitiless vertical heat, the fires, and the landslides. The
soft rock cannot preserve its outlines beneath all these influences; its
thin covering of soil is carried off to make the river-silt, and then
it crumbles away beneath the weather. Great ruts are scored through the
forests where the rock has let whole acres of trees and rubbish slip;
they sometimes cover the negro-cabins and the coffee-walks below. These
mountains are capricious and disordered masses of grayish stone; there
are no sustained lines which sweep upward from the green plantations and
cut sharply across the sky, no unchangeable walls of cool shadow, no
delicate curves, as in other hills, where the symmetry itself seems
to protect the material from the wear and tear of the atmosphere. The
_mornes_ are decaying hills; they look as if they emerged first from the
ocean and were the oldest parts of the earth, not merely weather-beaten,
but profligately used up with a too tropical career, which deprives
their age of all grandeur: they bewilder and depress.

There are delightful valleys below these sullen hills. In the dry season
their torrents are stony bridle-paths, with only two or three inches
of water, along which the traveller can pass from the flourishing
plantations, where all the forms of a torrid vegetation are displayed,
into this upper region of decay. The transition is sudden and
unpleasant. Everything below is stately, exuberant: the sugar-cane, the
cotton-tree, the coffee-shrub are suggestive of luxury; the orange
and lemon shine through the glossy leaves; the palm-tree, the elegant
_papayo_, the dark green candle-wood, the feathery bamboo, the fig,
the banana, the mahogany, the enormous _Bombax ceiba_, the sablier,[B]
display their various shapes; shrubs and bushes, such as the green
and red pimento, the vanilla, the pomegranate, the citron, the
sweet-smelling acacia, and the red jasmine, contest the claim to delight
one's senses; and various flowers cover the meadows and cluster along
the shallow water-courses. No venomous reptiles lurk in these fragrant
places: the seed-tick, mosquito, and a spiteful little fly are the
greatest annoyances. The horned lizard, which the Indians esteemed so
delicate, and the ferocious crocodile, or caiman, haunt the secluded
sands and large streams, and the lagoons which form in marshy places.

[Footnote B: _Hura crepitans_, one of the handsomest trees in the West
Indies, called _sablier_ because its fruit makes a very convenient
sandbox, when not fully ripe, by removing the seeds. It is of a
horn-color, about three and a half inches wide and two high, and looks
like a little striped melon. The ripe fruit, on taking out one of the
twelve woody cells which compose it, will explode with a noise like a
pistol, each cell giving a double report. This sometimes takes place
while the fruit is hanging on the tree, and sometimes when it stands
upon the table filled with sand. To prevent this, it is prettily hooped
with gold, silver, or ivory.]

The trees and thickets do not glitter with fruits alone: gay birds fill
them with shifting colors, and a confusion of odd, plaintive, or excited
notes. Several kinds of pigeons, paroquets, thrushes, bright violet
and scarlet tanagras go foraging among the bananas, the rice, and
the millet. The ponds of the savannas are frequented by six or eight
varieties of wild ducks, and the wild goose; woodcock and plover abound
in the marshy neighborhoods; and the white crane, the swan, different
kinds of herons, and an ibis are found near the sea. On the shores
stand pelicans and cormorants absorbed in fishing enterprises, and the
flamingo,[C] whose note of alarm sounds like a trumpet.

[Footnote C: When the English were meditating a descent upon the coast
of Gonaive, a negro happened to see a prodigious number of these
red-coated birds ranked on the savanna near the sea, as their habit is,
in companies. He rushed into the town, shouting, _"Z'Anglais, yo apres
veni, yo en pile dans savanne l'Hopital!"_ "The English, they are after
coming, they are drawn up on l'Hopital savanna!" The _generale_
was beaten, the posts doubled, and a strong party was sent out to

The pelican is a source of great amusement to the negroes. They call
this bird _blague a diable_, because of the incredible number of fish it
can stow away in its pouch. They call the cormorant _grand gosier_, big
gullet; and they make use of the membranous pocket which is found under
the lower mandible of its beak to carry their smoking tobacco, fancying
that it enhances the quality and keeps it fresh. Among the queer birds
is the _cra-cra_, or crocodile's valet, a bold and restless bird with
a harsh cry, represented in its name, which it uses to advertise the
dozing crocodile of any hostile approach. It is a great annoyance to the
sportsman by mixing with the wild ducks and alarming them with the same
nervous cry.]

Charming valleys open to sight from the coast, where the limestone
bluffs let in the bays. The eye follows the rivulets as they wind
through green, sequestered places, till the hills bar the view, but do
not prevent the fancy from exploring farther, and losing itself in a
surmise of glens filled with rare vegetation and kept quiet by the
inclosing shadows. From the sea this picture is especially refreshing,
with the heat left out which is reflected with great power from the
sandy rocks and every denuded surface. Below all appears beautiful,
luxurious, and new; but above the signs of decrepitude appear, and the
broad wastes stretch where little grows except the _bayaonde_, (_Mimosa
urens_,) with its long murderous spines and ugly pods. Sudden contrasts
and absence of delicate gradations mark the whole face of the island.
All is extreme; and the mind grows disquieted amid these isolated

The climate also corresponds to this region of luxury and desolation.
From November to April everything is parched with heat; some of the
trees lose their leaves, the rest become brown, and all growth ceases.
From April to November everything is wet; vegetation revives without a
spring, and the slender streams suddenly become furious rivers, which
often sweep away the improvements of man, and change the face of the
country in a single night. During the dry season the inhabitants depend
upon the sea-breeze which blows in over the heated land to replace
the rarefied air. It blows from six in the morning to three in the
afternoon, in the eastern part of the island; in other parts, from
nine to three. But frequently a furious northeast wind interrupts
this refreshing arrangement: the air becomes hard and cold; thick,
wintry-looking clouds sweep over the hills; the inhabitants shut
themselves up in their houses to escape the rheumatism, which is a
prevalent infliction; a March weather which was apparently destined for
New England seems to have got entangled and lost among these fervid
hills. The languid Creole life is overtaken by universal discomfort.

Great fires break out over the elevated plateaus and hill-sides, during
the dry season. They sweep with incredible rapidity across great tracts,
levelling everything in the way. The mountains seem tipped with volcanic
flames. The angry glow spreads over the night, and its smoke mixes with
the parched air by day. These fires commence by some carelessness,
though they are sometimes attributed to the action of the son's rays,
concentrated by the gray cliffs upon great masses of vegetation dried to

In the rainy season the earthquakes occur; and not a year passes without
the experience of several shocks in different parts of the island. The
northern part is exempt from them.[D] Those which take place in the
west, around the shores of the great bay upon which Port-au-Prince is
situated, are severe, and sometimes very disastrous. At mid-day the
wind falls instantly, there is a dead calm on land and sea, the heat
is consequently more intense, and the atmosphere suffocating; then the
vibrations occur, after which the wind begins to blow again. Sometimes,
at an interval of ten or twelve hours, there is a supplementary shock,
less violent than the first one. It is said that the coast-caves bellow
just before an earthquake. Their noise probably seems more emphatic In
the sudden calm which is the real announcement of the earth's shudder.

[Footnote D: Not entirely. The great earthquake of the 7th of May, 1842,
was very destructive at Cap Haytien. On this occasion Port-au-Prince
escaped with little injury.]

Port-au-Prince was entirely destroyed by an earthquake in June, 1770.
The Inhabitants built the new town upon the edge of the gulf which had
just swallowed up their old one, convinced that the same disaster would
not recur in the same spot. But that region is peculiarly sensitive: the
subterranean connections with the Mexican and South-American volcanic
districts chronicle disturbances whose centre is remote.

The rains are short and frequent showers, very heavy, and almost always
accompanied by violent electric phenomena. By June they are at their
height. Then the land-slides take place, which often affect seriously
the cultivation, not only by their direct ravages, but by the changes
which they make in the water-courses: large tracts of good soil are
turned into swamp-land, the rivers are forced to bend out of their
direction and to desert places which depended upon them for irrigation.
These damages were seldom repaired, for the indolent planter would not
undertake the work of draining and of permanently securing the tillable
surface of his land. It is good luck, if a land-slide, instead of
creating a new morass, fills up an old one.

As if completely to unsettle any claim that this Creole climate might
make to character, the hurricane leaves its awful trace upon the island.
This rotating storm of wind has its origin to the east of the Caribbee
Islands; its long parabolic curve sweeps over them, and bends to the
northeast below Florida. In its centre, as it moves, it carries a lull
whose breadth varies from five to thirty miles. This dreadful calm comes
suddenly in the height of the storm, and is as suddenly interrupted,
after lasting sometimes for half an hour, by the revolving edge of the
wind. Torrents of rain go with it, and heavy thunder, and it brings from
the sea an enormous wave, which sweeps harbors clean of their ships, and
runs up, like an earthquake-wave, upon the shore. This vortex, moving
often a hundred miles an hour, takes hold of the _Bombax ceiba_ like an
enormous proboscis, pulls it from the thin soil of the tropics despite
the great lateral clutch of its knotty roots, and swallows it up.
Houses, cultivated fields, men and animals, are obliterated by its heavy

In some years no less than three hurricanes have occurred in the West
Indies. Father Du Tertre, a French missionary in St. Christophe,
describes one which he witnessed in 1642,--a year memorable for three.
During the second of these, more than twenty vessels, laden with
colonial produce and just ready to sail for Europe, were wrecked in the
harbor, including the ship of De Ruyter, the Dutch Admiral. The island
was swept of houses, trees, cattle, and birds; the manioc and tobacco
plants were destroyed, and only one cotton shrub survived. The shores
were covered with dead fishes blown out of the water, and the bodies of
ship-wrecked men. The salt-works were flooded and spoiled, and all the
provisions on the island were so damaged that the inhabitants were put
on rations of biscuit till the arrival of vessels from France.

Another storm like this desolated Martinique in 1657; and the annals of
most of the islands abound in similar narratives. They are less severe
in Hayti, and seldom sweep violently over Cuba. The word _hurricane_ is
a European adaptation of a Carib word, borrowed by the Haytian Indians
from the natives of the Antilles.

The inhabitants of Hayti do not agree in the statements which they make
concerning their climate. The commencement of the two seasons, the range
of the thermometer, the duration of the different winds, the liability
to earthquakes, are subjects upon which the North is at variance with
the East, and the West with both. The most trustworthy notices of these
phenomena are held to represent that portion of the island which
was formerly occupied by the French. Still the variations cannot be
important over so small an area: the petty and fitful changes of every
day are more noticeable, but the climate has its average within which
these local caprices occur.

In another climate the mountains would present a gradation of vegetable
growth, from the tropical through the temperate to the northern zone.
And this can be traced in some quarters, where the palm and mahogany are
succeeded by resinous trees, of which there are several varieties, till
the bare summits show only lichens and stunted shrubs. But the seasons
do not harmonize with this graduated rise of the mountain-chains, and
the temperate forms are interrupted, or confined to a few localities.
Yet the people who live upon the _mornes_, those for instance which are
drained by Trois-Rivieres in the northwestern part of the island, are
healthier and plumper, and the Creoles have a fresher look, than the
inhabitants of the plains. In the still more elevated regions the cold
is frequently so great that people do not like to live there. Newly
imported negroes frequently perished, if they were carried up into the
southern range of mountains; and the dependent Creole was forced to
abandon places where the slave could not go.

It would be singular, if a place of such marked natural features, and
with such phenomena of climate, should have no perceptible effects upon
the Eastern races of all kinds which have been transported there. We
shall expect that the Creole will betray a certain harmony with his
petulant and capricious skies, and imitate the grace and exuberance of
the tropical forms amid which he lives, the languor of the air that
broods over them, its flattering calms and fierce transitions; he will
mature early and wilt at maturity with passions that despise moderation
and impulses that are incapable of continuity. In Hayti the day itself
rushes precipitately into the sky, and is gone as suddenly: there is no
calm broadening of dawn, and no lingering hours of twilight. The light
itself is a passion which fiercely revels among the fruits and flowers
that exhale for it ardently; it gluts, and then suddenly spurns them
for new conquests. Nothing can live and flourish here which has not the
innate temperament of the place.

One would not expect to find great wealth in these gray-looking
mountains of simple and uniform structure; yet they abound in stones and
metals. Besides the different kinds of marble, which it is not strange
to find, diamonds also, jasper, agates, onyx, topaz, and other stones, a
kind of jade and of malachite, are found in a great many places. Copper
exists in considerable quantities in the neighborhood of Dondon and
Jacmel, and in the Cibao; silver is found near San Domingo, and in
various places in the Cibao, together with cinnabar, cobalt, bismuth,
zinc, antimony, and lead in the Cibao, near Dondon and Azua, blue cobalt
that serves for painting on porcelain, the gray, black specular nickel,
etc.; native iron near the Bay of Samana, in the Mornes-du-Cap, and at
Haut-and Bas-Moustique; other forms of that metal abound in numerous
places, crystallized, spathic, micaceous, etc. Nitre can be procured in
the Cibao, that great storehouse which has specimens of almost every
metal, salt, and mineral; borax at Jacmel and Dondon, native alum at
Dondon, and aluminous earth near Port-au-Prince; vitriol, of various
forms, in a dozen places; naphtha, petroleum, and asphaltum at Banique,
and sulphur in different shapes at Marmalade, La Soufriere, etc. The
catalogue of this wealth would be tedious to draw up.

The reports concerning gold do not agree. It is maintained that there
are mines and washings which have been neglected, or improperly worked,
and that a vigorous exploration would reopen this source of wealth; but
it is also said as confidently that the Spaniards took off all the gold,
and were reduced to working mines of copper, before the middle of the
sixteenth century. It is certain, however, that great quantities of gold
were taken from the island by the Spaniards, while they had the natives
to perform the labor. The principal sources from which gold can be
procured are in the part of the island formerly occupied by the
Spaniards; and when their power decayed, all important labors came to an
end. But Oviedo records several lumps of gold of considerable size: one
was Bobadilla's lump, found, during his government, at Bonne Aventure,
which was worth thirty-six hundred _castellanos_, or $19,153. This was
lost at sea on the way to Spain. The finding of pieces in the River
Yaqui weighing nine ounces was occasionally recorded, and pieces of
pure gold, without the least mixture, more than three inches in
circumference, in the River Verte: they were undoubtedly found much
oftener than recorded. Good authorities, writing at the close of the
last century, declare that the mines of Cibao alone furnished more gold
than all Europe had in circulation at that time. All the larger streams,
and the basins near their sources, furnished gold.

Bobadilla's lump was found by a slave of Francisco de Garay, afterwards
Governor of Jamaica. He and the famous Diaz worked a mine together in
San Domingo. His slave was poking about with a pike in the shallows of
the River Hayna, when the head struck the metal. Garay was so rejoiced
that he sacrificed a pig, which was served upon this extemporaneous
platter, and he boasted that there was no such dish in Europe. Twenty
other ships with gold on board went down in the storm which swallowed up
Garay's waif.[E]

[Footnote E: Great quantities of gold were embezzled by the Spanish
officials. Las Casas in his lively arguments with the Council of State
in behalf of the Indians, always insisted that his plan for controlling
them would be more profitable as well as humane. He promised large
increase of treasure, and showed how the royal officers appropriated the
gold which they extorted from the natives. Piedro Arias, for instance,
spent six years at Castilla-du-Oro, at a cost to the Government of
fifty-four thousand ducats, during which time he divided a million's
worth of gold with his officers, at the expense of thousands of natives,
whose lives were the flux of the metallic ore, while he paid only three
thousand _pesos_ for the king's fifth.--Llorente: _Oeuvres de Las
Casas_, Tom. II--p.472.]

Many French writers have maintained that the Indians procured their
golden ornaments from Yucatan and other points of the main-land, by way
of traffic. But they had nothing to barter, and their ornaments were
numerous. Besides, the Spaniards found in various places near the rivers
the holes and slight diggings whence the gold had been procured. It is
said that the Haytian natives only washed for gold, but the Caribs had
frequented the island long previously, and they without doubt earned
gold away from it. The Spaniards were deceived by the Haytians, who
did not wish to dig gold under the lash to glitter on the velvet of

It is difficult, as Humboldt says, to distinguish, in the calculations
by the Spanish writers of the amount of gold sent to Spain, "between
that obtained by washings and that which had been accumulated for ages
in the hands of the natives, who were pillaged at will." He inclines,
however, to the opinion, that a scientific system of mining would renew
the supply of gold, which may not be represented by the scanty washings
that have been occasionally tried in Hayti and Cuba. In Hayti, "as well
as at Brazil, it would be more profitable to attempt subterraneous
workings, on veins, in primitive and intermediary soils, than to renew
the gold-washings which were abandoned in the ages of barbarism, rapine,
and carnage."[F]

[Footnote F: _Personal Narrative_, Vol. III. p. 163, note. Bohn's

But the chief interest which Spain took in Hayti was derived from
the collars and bracelets which shone dully against the skins of the
caciques and native women in the streets of Seville. It did not require
an exhausted treasury, and the clamor of a Neapolitan war for sinews,
to stimulate the appetite of a nation whose sensibility for gold was as
great as its superstition. Columbus triumphed over the imaginations of
men through their avarice; the procession of his dusky captives to the
feet of Isabella was as if the Earth-Spirit, holding a masque to tempt
Catholic majesties to the ruin of the mine, sent his familiars, "with
the earth-tint yet so freshly embrowned," to flatter with heron-crests,
the plumes of parrots, and the yellow ore. Behind that naked pomp the
well-doubleted nobles of Castile and Aragon trooped gayly with priests
and crosses, the pyx and the pax, and all the symbols of a holy Passion,
to crime and death.

Columbus discovered Guanahani, which he named San Salvador, on the
morning of the 12th of October, 1492. After cruising among these Lucayan
Islands, or Bahamas, for some time, he reached Cuba on the 28th of the
same month. His Lucayan interpreters were understood by the natives of
Cuba, notwithstanding they spoke a different dialect. They were also
understood at Hayti, which was reached on the 6th of December; but here
the Cuban interpreter was found to be more useful. Each island appeared
to have a dialect of a language whose origin has been variously
attributed to Florida, to Central America, and to the Caribbee Islands.
But the Indians of Central America could not understand the Cubans and
Haytians, and they in turn spoke a different language from the Caribs,
some of whose words they had borrowed. A favorite theory is, that the
_Ygneris_ were ancient inhabitants of the West Indian Islands, distinct
from the Caribs, who made their way from Florida by the Lucayan Islands,
leaving Hayti to the right, and reaching South America by that fringe of
islands that stretches from Porto Rico to Trinidad, through which the
great current is strained into the Caribbean Sea. Humboldt says,[G] in
noticing the difference between the language of the Carib men and their
women, that perhaps the women descended from the female captives made
in this movement, the men being as usual slain. But the Haytians also
claimed to have come from Florida. Perhaps, then, an emigration from
Florida, which may be called, for want of any historical data, that of
the Ygneris, covered all the West Indian Islands at a very early period,
to be overlapped, in part, by a succeeding emigration of Caribs who were
pressed out of Florida by the Appalachians.[H]

[Footnote G: _Personal Narrative_, Vol. III. p. 78, where see the
subject discussed at length.]

[Footnote H: _Histoire Generale des Antilles_, par Du Tertre, Paris,
1667, Tom. II. p. 360.]

The Caribs are supposed to have derived the compliment of their name,
which means "valiant men," from the Appalachians, who had great trouble
in dislodging them. They were very different from the Haytians: they cut
their hair very short in front, leaving a tuft upon the crown, bandaged
the legs of their children to make a calf that Mr. Thackeray's Jeames
would have envied, pulled out their beard hair by hair, and then
polished the chin, with rough leaves. A grand toilet included a coat of
scarlet paint, which protected them from the burning effect of the sun
and from the bites of insects. It also saved their skins from the scurf
and chapping which the sea-water occasioned. A Carib chief, in a full
suit of scarlet, excited once the anger of Madame Aubert, wife of a
French governor of Dominica, because he sat upon her couch, which had a
snowy dimity cover, and left there the larger portion of his pantaloons.
But afterwards, upon being invited to dine at the Government-House, he
determined to respect the furniture, and, seeing nothing so appropriate
as his plate, he removed it to his chair before he took his seat. The
Caribs, however, had such an inveterate preference for dining _au
naturel_, that they frequently served up natives themselves, whenever
that expensive luxury could be obtained. The Spaniards brought home the
word _Cannibal_, which was a Haytian pronunciation of Cariba (Galiba);
and it gradually came into use to express the well-known idea of a
man-eater. The South-American Caribs preserve this vicious taste.

The Caribs had not overrun the island of Hayti, but it was never free
from their incursions. That hardy and warlike race was feared by the
milder Haytians, who had been compelled, especially in the southern
provinces of the island, to study the arts of defence, which do not
appear to have been much esteemed by them. Their arms were of the
simplest description: wood pointed and hardened in the fire, arrows
tipped with fish-bone or turtle-shell, and clubs of the toughest
kinds of wood. The Caribs used arrows poisoned with the juice of the
manchineel, or pointed with formidable shark's-teeth, their clubs of
Brazil-wood were three feet long, and their lances of hardened wood
were thrown with great adroitness and to a great distance. The southern
Haytians learned, warlike habits from these encroaching Caribs, and were
less gentle than the natives whom Columbus first met along the northern

But they were all gentler, fairer, more graceful and simple than the
Caribs, or the natives of the main. Their ambition found its limit when
the necessaries of daily life were procured. The greatest achievement
of their manual dexterity was the hollowing of a great trunk by fire to
fashion a canoe.[I] Their huts were neatly made of stakes and reeds,
and covered with a plaited roof, beneath which the _hamaca_, (hammock,)
coarsely knitted of cotton, swung. Every collection of huts had also one
of larger dimensions, like a lodge, open at the sides, where the natives
used to gather for their public business or amusement. This was called
_bohio_, a word improperly applied to the huts, and used by the
Spaniards to designate their villages. In the southern districts, the
_bohios_, and the dwellings of the caciques, were furnished with
stools wrought with considerable skill from hard wood, and sometimes
ornamented. But they could not have been made by the natives, who had
neither iron nor copper in use. Their golden ornaments were nothing more
than pieces of the metal, rudely turned, by pounding and rubbing, into
rings for the nose and ears, and necklace-plates. Whatever they had, for
use or ornament, which was more elaborate, came by way of trade from
Yucatan and the contiguous coasts. It is difficult to conjecture what
their medium of barter was, for they prepared nothing but cassava-cakes
for food and the fermented juice for drink, and raised only the pimento,
(red pepper,) the _agi_, (sweet pepper,) the _yuca_, whence the
cassava or manioc meal was obtained, and sweet potatoes; and all these
productions were common to the tribes along the coast. Tobacco may have
been cultivated by them and neglected by other tribes. The Haytian word
_tabaco_, which designated the pipe from which they sucked the smoke
into their nostrils, and also the roll of leaves,--for they employed
both methods,--has passed over to the weed. The pipe was a hollow tube
in the shape of a Y, the mystic letter of Pythagoras: the two branches
were applied to the nose, and the stem was held over the burning leaves.
The weed itself was called _cohiba_.

[Footnote I: _Canoa_ is Haytian, and is like enough to _Kayak_,
Esquimaux, to _Caique_, Turkish and to _Kahn_, German, to unsettle an
etymologist with a theory of origin.]

At the time of the discovery, five principal caciques ruled the island,
which was divided into as many provinces, with inferior caciques, who
appear to have been the chiefs of settlements. We find, for instance,
that Guatiguana was cacique of a large town in the province of which
Guarionex was the chief cacique. The power of each cacique was supreme,
but nothing like a league existed between the different provinces.
When the Haytians in desperation tried the fortune of war against the
Spaniards, Caonabo, the cacique of the central province in the South,
like another Pontiac, rallied the natives from all quarters, and held
them together long enough to fight a great battle on the Vega. But he
was a Carib. His brother who succeeded him was also a Carib, and he
maintained a union of several caciques till his defeat by Ojeda. Then
the less warlike chiefs of the North readily submitted to the Spaniards,
and the bolder caciques of the South were compelled to ask for peace.[J]

[Footnote J: In Mr. Irving's _Life of Columbus_, the characters of the
different Indian chieftains are finely drawn, and the history of their
intercourse and warfare with the Spaniards admirably told.]

Thus were the natives bound together by the polity of instinct and
consanguinity alone. They had no laws, but only natural customs. The
cacique was an arbitrator: if his decision did not appease a litigant,
the parties had an appeal to arms in his presence. Their cacique
received unbounded reverence, and for him they would freely die.
Polygamy was permitted only to him, but not always practised by him. The
Spaniards were so surprised at the readiness with which the natives gave
them everything, both food and ornaments, that they declared them to be
defective in the sense of property, and to have everything in common.
This was a mistake: each man had his little possessions; stealing was
punished with death, as the crime that did the greatest violence to
the natural order; and crimes against domestic purity were severely
punished, till the people became demoralized by their conquerors, who
mistook the childish freedom of the women, for lustful invitation, and
imputed to the native disposition something which belonged to their

[Footnote K: They even accused the natives of communicating that
loathsome disease which results from promiscuous intercourse, when
in fact the _virus_ was shipped at Palos, with the other elements of
civilization, to give a new world to Castile and Leon! Nations appear to
be particularly sensitive upon this point, and accuse each other. But
the first time a disorder is observed is not the date of its origin. See
the European opinion in the fifteenth century, in Roscoe's _Lorenzo de'
Medici_, p. 350, and note, Bohn's edition. It has probably existed from
the earliest times, wherever population was dense and habits depraved.
The Romans suffered from it, but, like the Europeans of the Middle Ages,
did not always attribute it to its proper source. What did Persius mean
in one or two places in his _Third Satire, e.g._, 113-115? And see also
Celaus, _Medicina_, Lib. V. Sec.3.

When the fighting-man of Europe became a mercenary, (soldier,
_soldner, paid-man_,) he carried this tinder from country to country,
and kindled the fire afresh. The Spaniards bore it to Hayti, and it
stung like a snake beneath that fervid sky.]

They were timid, credulous, extravagantly friendly, affected easily to
tears, not cunning enough for their own good, and little capable of
concealing or of planning anything. Yet when their eyes were opened, and
they understood at last that the strangers had not descended from the
skies, their indignation and loathing were well sustained, with a
frankness, indeed, which only embittered their condition. They suffered,
but could not dissimulate.

But they were at once volatile and of a languid frame, which could not
long repel the enticements of wine and passionate excess, liable to
petty rages, incapable of concentration, with no power of remembering
anything but a benefit, lavish fawners, but not hearty haters, easily
persuaded, and easily repenting of everything but hospitality. No abuse
of that put the drop of savage blood in motion, till the Spaniards began
to regard their women with indiscriminate desire. That was the first
outrage for which a Spanish life had to atone. But neither treachery nor
cruelty lurked beneath their flowery ways; it was sullen despair which
broke their gayety, brief spasms of wrath followed by melancholy. But
they could not keep their ideas well enough in hand to lay a plot.

These graceful children, with their curious prognostics of a Creole
temper, were not devoid of religion. The Creator has set none of His
children in the sun, to work or play, without keeping this hold
upon them. They defer to this restraint, with motions more or less
instinctive, but can never, in their wildest gambols, break entirely
loose. It is not easy to separate the real beliefs of the Haytians
from the conjectures of Catholic and Jewish observers. The former were
interested to discover analogies which would make it appear that they
had been foreordained to conversion; the latter were infested with the
notion that they were descendants of one of the Lost Tribes. What, for
instance, can be made of the assertion that the Haytian Supreme had a
mother? The natives were gentle enough to love such a conception, and to
be pleased with the Catholic presentation of it, but this is the only
proof we have that they originated it. It would be pleasant to believe
that they referred, in some dim way, their sense of the womanly quality
back to the great Source of Life.

But the Hebrew coincidences were as eagerly sought.[L] If a cacique
remarked to Columbus that he thought good men would be transported to a
place of delights, and bad men to a foul and dismal place where darkness
reigned, it was deemed to be a reminiscence of Sheol and a later Jewish
idea of Paradise. If Anacaona, the charming wife of Caonabo, came
forth to meet the _Adelantado_, at the head of thirty maidens of her
household, dancing and singing their native songs, and waving branches
of the palm-tree, a variety of Old and New Testament pictures occurred
to the mind. Their hospitality and pertinacious sheltering of fugitives
was another Oriental trait. But, above all, the horrible oppression
to which the Spaniards subjected them, the indignities and sufferings
heaped upon them, were considered to fulfil the divine curse which
rested upon Jews! What a choice morsel of theology is this!

[Footnote L: Consult a curious book, _The Ten Tribes of Israel
historically identified with the Aborigines of the Western Hemisphere_.
By Mrs. Simon. 1836.]

Cabrera found at Cuba, says Humboldt, a variation of the story
respecting the first inebriation of Noah. A wild grape grew in all the
West India Islands. The natives of Cuba preserved also the tradition of
a great terrestrial disturbance, in which water played the chief part.
This was probably held by the Haytians also, for we find it again among
the Caribs beyond, especially in South America. But Cabrera, mounting
with the waters of the Deluge, was not content till he had found in Cuba
the ark, the raven and dove, the uncovering of Noah, and his curse; in
fact, the Indians were descended from this unfortunate son whom Noah's
malediction reduced to nudity, but the Spaniards, descending from
another son, inherited his clothes. "Why do you call me a dog?" said an
old Indian of seventy years to Cabrera, who had been insulting him.
"Did we not both come out of the same large ship that saved us from the

[Footnote M: _Notes on Cuba, containing an Account of its Discovery and
Early History_. By Dr. Wurdemann. 1844.]

It is certain that the Haytians believed in continued existence after
death, and pointed, as all men do, to the sky, when talking of that
subject. They held, indefinitely, that there was some overruling Spirit;
but they believed also in malignant influences which it was advisable to
propitiate. Their worship was connected with the caverns of the island,
those mysterious formations beneath which the strange sounds were heard.
The walls of these caverns were covered with pictured distortions,
half man, half animal, which yielded to the priests, or _butios_,
interpretations according to the light and shadow. Some of these vaults
are lighted through a natural fissure in the roof, and the worship or
augury commenced at the moment the sun struck through it. There were
movable idols, called _Zemes_, which represented inferior deities. The
Catholic writers call them messengers and mediators, having their own
saints in mind. But their forms were sometimes merely animal, a toad, a
tortoise with a sun upon its back, and upon each side a star with the
moon in her first change; another was a monstrous figure in basalt,
representing a head surmounting a female bosom, diminishing to a ball;
another was a human figure made from a gypseous stalactite.[N]

[Footnote N: The savages of Martinique kept in their caverns idols
made of cotton, in the form of a man, with shining black seeds of the
soap-berry (_Sapindus_) for eyes, and a cotton helmet. These were the
original deities of the island. It cannot now be decided whether the
cotton thus worshipped was long-staple or upland; but the tendency
of the savage mind to make a fetich of its chief thing appears to be

The cacique took precedence of the _butios_, in theory, at least, and
designated the days for public worship. He led the procession of men
and women festively adorned, beating on a drum, to the cavern where the
priests awaited them. Presents were offered, and old dances and songs
repeated in honor of the Zemes, and of departed caciques. Then the
priests broke cakes and distributed the pieces to the heads of
families, who carefully kept them till the next festival as amulets and
preservatives against disease.

They had an original way of expressing their vague instinct that the
Supreme Being loves truth and cleanliness in the inward parts. Each
person presented himself, with singing, before the chief idol, and there
thrust a stick into his throat till the gorge rose, in order, as they
said, to appear before the Divinity with a heart clean and upon the

[Footnote O: _Histoire d'Hayti_, par M. Placide Justin, p. 8.]

The priests were diviners and doctors. If their predictions failed, they
did not want the usual cunning of mediums and spiritual quacks of all
ages, who are never known to be caught. But it became a more serious
affair for them in the case of a death. Friends consulted the soul at
the moment of its leaving the body, and if it could give no sign, or if
no omen of fair play appeared from any quarter, the _butio_ was held
to be the author of the death, and, if he was not a very popular
individual, he incurred the vengeance of the family. If at such a
time an animal was seen creeping near, the worst suspicions were

[Footnote P: _Voyages d'un Naturaliste_, etc., par M.E. Descourtilz,
Tom. II. p. 19, et seq. 1809.]

The natives had a legend that the sun and moon issued from one of these
caverns, which Mr. Irving says is the Voute-a-Minguet, about eight
leagues from Cap Haytien.

They were very nervous, and did not like to go about after dark. Many
people of all races have this vague disquiet as soon as the sun goes
down. It is the absence of light which accounts for all the tremors and
tales of superstition. How these sunflowers of Hayti must have shuddered
and shrunk together at the touch of darkness! But they had a graceful
custom of carrying the _cocujos_[Q] in a perforated calabash, and
keeping them, in their huts, when the sudden twilight fell.

[Footnote Q: A Haytian word appropriated by the Spaniards, (_cocuyos_);
_Elater noctilucus_. Their light is brilliant enough to read by.]

Their festivals and public gatherings were more refined than those of
the Caribs, who held but one meeting, called a _Vin_, for consultation
upon war-matters and a debauch upon cassava-beer.[R] The Haytians loved
music, and possessed one or two simple instruments; their _maguey_ was
like a timbrel, made of the shells of certain fishes. Their speech,
with its Italian terminations, flowed easily into singing, and they
extemporized, as the negroes do, the slightest incidents in rhythmical
language. They possessed national ballads, called _areytos_, and held in
high repute the happy composers of fresh ones. Altogether their life was
full of innocence and grace.

[Footnote R: Father Du Tertre enjoys relating, that a Carib orator,
wishing to make his speech more impressive, invested his scarlet
splendor in a _jupe_ which he had lately taken from an Englishwoman,
tying it where persons of the same liturgical tendency tie their
cambric. But though his garrulity was thereby increased, the charms of
the liquor drew his audience away.]

Such were the aborigines of Hayti, the "Mountain-land." But as our
narrative does not propose a minute and consecutive survey, it will
detain us too long from certain essential points which deserve to be
made clear, if we follow step by step the dealings of the Spaniards with
these natives. All this can be found delightfully told by Mr. Irving
in his "Life of Columbus," in such a way as to render an attempt at
repeating it hazardous and useless. Our task is different,--to make
prominent first, the character of the natives, which we have just
striven to do, and next, the style of treatment in converting and in
enslaving them, which gave its first chapter of horrors to San Domingo,
and laid violent hands on the whole sequence of her history.

What influence could the noble elements of the Spanish character have,
when theology, avarice, and lust controlled the conquest? Pure minds and
magnanimous intentions went in the same ships with adventurers, diseased
soldiers, cold and superstitious men of business, and shaven monks with
their villanous low brows and thin inquisitorial smile. The average
character speedily obtained ascendency, because the best men were to
some extent partakers of it. Columbus was eager to make his great
discovery pay well, to preserve the means of continued exploration. In
one hand he lifted high the banner of possession with its promise of a
cross, which direful irony fulfilled; with the other he kept feeding the
ravenous nation with gold, to preserve its sympathy and admiration, that
the supply of men and vessels should not fail. Las Casas himself, a just
and noble man, the first advocate of the natural rights of men in the
New World, soon found that the situation was too strong and cruel; his
wishes and struggles went under before the flood of evil passions which
swept the island. He maintained his fight against Indian slavery by not
discountenancing negro slavery. And his fight was unavailing, because
mercy had no legitimate place upon the new soil. The logic of events
was with the evil majority, which was obliged at last to maintain its
atrocious consistency in self-defence. He might as well have preached
the benefits of Lenten diet to shipwrecked men upon a raft, insane with
thirst and the taste of comrade's flesh. It was a Devil's problem, which
is the kind that cannot hold back from its devilish conclusion.

But bad passions were not alone to blame. The Spanish notion of
conversion desolated like avarice. The religious bodies which from time
to time controlled the affairs of the island differed in their humanity
and general policy: the Dominicans were friends of the Indian and haters
of the turbulent oppressor; the Franciscans were the instruments of the
bad men whose only ambition was to wring pleasure and fortune out of the
Indian's heart; the monks of St. Jerome undertook in vain a neutral
and reconciling policy. But they all agreed that the Indians must be
baptized, catechized, and more or less chastised into the spirit of the
gospel and conformity to Rome. The _conquistadores_ drove with a whip,
the missionaries with a dogma. The spirit of the nation and of the age
sternly asked for theological conformity: it was seriously understood
that a man should believe or burn. For one of those two things he was
preordained. Everybody was convinced that a drop of water on the dusky
forehead of these natives quenched the flames of hell. The methods used
to get that holy drop applied lighted flames, to escape from which
anybody would take his chance of the remoter kind.

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