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Atlantic Monthly, Vol. XI., February, 1863, No. LXIV. by Various

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The sudden death of Prince Albert caused profound regret, and the
Royal Family of Britain had the sincere sympathies of the civilized
world on that sad occasion. The Prince Consort was a man of brilliant
talents, and those talents he had cultivated with true German
thoroughness. His knowledge was extensive, various, and accurate.
There was no affectation in his regard for literature, art, and
science; for he felt toward them all as it was natural that an
educated gentleman of decided abilities, and who had strongly
pronounced intellectual tastes, should feel. Though he could not be
said to hold any official position, his place in the British Empire
was one of the highest that could be held by a person not born to the
sceptre. His knowledge of affairs, and the confidence that was placed
in him by the sovereign, made it impossible that he should not be
a man of much influence, no matter whether he was recognized by the
Constitution or not. As the director of the education of the princes
and princesses, his children, his character and ideas are likely to be
felt hereafter, when those personages shall have become the occupants
of high and responsible stations. The next English sovereign will be
pretty much what he was made by his father; and it is no light thing
to have had the formation of a mind that may be made to act, with
more or less directness, on the condition of two hundred millions of

We know it is the custom to speak of the Government of England as if
there were no other powerful institution in that Empire than the House
of Commons; and that very arrogant gentleman, Mr. John Arthur Roebuck,
has told us, in his usual style, that the crown is a word, and nothing
more. "The crown!" exclaimed the member for Sheffield, in 1858,--"the
crown! it is the House of Commons!" Theoretically Mr. Roebuek is
right, and the British practice conforms to the theory, whenever the
reigning prince is content to receive the theory, and to act upon it:
but all must depend upon that prince's character; and should a British
sovereign resolve to rule as well as to reign, he might give the House
of Commons much trouble, in which the whole Empire would share. The
House of Commons was never stronger than it was in the latter part of
1760. For more than seventy years it had been the first institution in
the State, and for forty-six years the interest of the sovereign had
been to maintain its supremacy. The king was a cipher. Yet a new
king had but to appear to change everything. George III. ascended the
throne with the determination not to be the slave of any minister,
himself the slave of Parliament; and from the day that he became king
to the day that the decline of his faculties enforced his retirement,
his personal power was everywhere felt, and his personal character
everywhere impressed itself on the British world, and to no ordinary
extent on other countries. George III. was not a great man, and it has
been argued that his mind was never really sound; and yet of all men
who then lived, and far more than either Washington or Napoleon, he
gave direction and color and tone to all public events, and to not
a little of private life, and much of his work will have everlasting
endurance. He did not supersede the House of Commons, but he would not
be the simple vizier of that many-headed sultan, which for the most
part became his humble tool. Yet he was not a popular sovereign until
he had long occupied the throne, and had perpetrated deeds that should
have destroyed the greatest popularity that sovereign ever possessed.
It was not until after the overthrow of the Fox-and-North Coalition
that he found himself popular, and so he remained unto the end. The
change that he wrought, and the power that he wielded in the State,--a
power as arbitrary as that of Louis XV.,--were the fruits of his
personal character, and that character was the consequence of the
peculiar education which he had received.

Lord Brougham tells us that George III. "was impressed with a lofty
feeling of his prerogative, and a firm determination to maintain,
perhaps extend it. At all events, he was resolved not to be a mere
name or a cipher in public affairs; and whether from a sense of the
obligations imposed upon him by his station, or from a desire to enjoy
all its powers and privileges, he certainly, while his reason remained
entire, but especially during the earlier period of his reign,
interfered in the affairs of government more than any prince who ever
sat upon the throne of this country since our monarchy was distinctly
admitted to be a limited one, and its executive functions were
distributed among responsible ministers. The correspondence which he
carried on with his confidential servants during the ten most critical
years of his life lies before us, and it proves that his attention was
ever awake to all the occurrences of the government. Not a step was
taken in foreign, colonial, or domestic affairs, that he did not
form his opinion upon it, and exercise his influence over it. The
instructions to ambassadors, the orders to governors, the movements of
forces, down to the marching of a single battalion, in the districts
of this country, the appointment to all offices in Church and State,
not only the giving away of judgeships, bishoprics, regiments, but the
subordinate promotions, lay and clerical,--all these form the topics
of his letters; on all his opinion is pronounced decisively; in
all his will is declared peremptorily. In one letter he decides the
appointment of a Scotch puisne judge; in another the march of a troop
from Buckinghamshire into Yorkshire; in a third the nomination to
the Deanery of Westminster; in a fourth he says, that, 'if Adam, the
architect, succeeds Worsley at the Board of Works, he shall think
Chambers ill used.' For the greater affairs of State it is well known
how substantially he insisted upon being the king _de facto_ as well
as _de jure_. The American War, the long exclusion of the Liberal
party, the French Revolution, the Catholic question, are all sad
monuments of his real power."

This is a true picture of George III., and why it should be supposed
that no descendant of that monarch will ever be able to make himself
potently felt in the government of his Empire we are at a loss to
understand. The exact part of that monarch would not be repeated, the
world having changed so much as to render such repetition impossible;
but the end at which George III. aimed, and which he largely
accomplished for himself, that end being the vindication of the
monarchical element in the British polity, might be undertaken by one
of his great-grandsons with every reason to expect success. The means
employed would have to be different from those which George III. made
use of, but that would prove nothing against the project itself.
The men who followed Cromwell to the Long Parliament and the men who
followed Bonaparte into the Council of Five Hundred were differently
clothed and armed, but the pikemen of the future Protector were
engaged in the same kind of work that was afterward done by the
grenadiers of the future Emperor. The one set of men had never
heard of the bayonet, and the other set had faith in nothing but the
bayonet, believing it to be as "holy" as M. Michelet asserts it to
be. The pikemen were the most pious of men, and could have eaten an
Atheist with relish, after having roasted him. The grenadiers were
Atheists, and cared no more for Christianity than for Mahometanism,
their chief having testified his regard for the latter, and
consequently his contempt for both, only the year before, in Egypt.
Yet both detachments were successfully employed in doing the same
thing, and that was the clearing away of what was regarded as
legislative rubbish, in order that military monarchies might be
erected on the cleared ground. In each instance there was the element
of violence actively at work, and it makes no possible difference that
the English Commons went out because they did not care to come to push
of pike, and that the French Representatives departed rather than risk
the consequence of a bayonet-charge. So if the Prince of Wales should
see fit to tread in the footsteps of his great-grandfather, he would
have very different instruments from those "king's friends" whose
existence and actions were so fatal to ministers in the early part of
those days when George III. was king.

It is a common remark, that the institutions of England have been so
far reformed in a democratic direction, that no monarch could ever
expect to become powerful in that country. We think the observation
unphilosophical; and it is because the old aristocratical system of
England received a heavy blow in 1832 that we believe a king of that
country could make himself a ruler in fact as well as in theory.
Between a king and an aristocracy there never can be anything like a
sincere attachment, unless the king be content to be recognized as
the first member of the patrician order, to be _primus inter pares_ in
strict good faith, an agent of his class, but not the sovereign of his
kingdom. Kings generally prefer new men to men of established position
and old descent. They have a fondness for low-born favorites, who are
not only cleverer than most aristocrats will condescend to be, but who
recognize a chief in a monarch, and enable him to feel and to enjoy
his superiority when in their company. The hostility that prevails
between the peer and the _parvenu_ is the most natural thing in the
world, and is no more to be wondered at than that between the hare and
the hound. In earlier times the peerage had the best of it, and could
hang up the _parvenus_ with wonderful despatch,--as witness the
fate of Cochrane and his associates, favorites of the third James of
Scotland, who swung in the wind over Lauder Bridge. In later times
brains and intelligence tell in and on the world, and the peers,
having no longer pit and gallows for the punishment of presumptuous
plebeians who dare to get between them and the regal sunshine, must be
content to see those plebeians basking in the royal rays, if they are
not capable of outdoing them in those arts that ever have been found
most useful in the advancement of the interest of courtiers. Hanging
and heading have gone mostly out of date, or the peer would be in more
danger than the upstart.

The Reform Bill has made it much easier for a king of Great Britain to
become a ruler than it was for George III. to carry his point over
the old aristocracy, for it has created a class of voters who could be
easily won over to the aid of a king engaged in a project that should
not injure them, while its success should reduce the power of the
aristocracy. The father of the Reform Bill made a strange mistake
as to the character of that measure. "I hope," said the old Tory and
Pittite, Lord Sidmouth, to him, "God will forgive you on account of
this bill: I don't think I can." "Mark my words," was Earl Grey's
answer,--"within two years you will find that we have become unpopular
for having brought forward the most aristocratic measure that ever was
proposed in Parliament." The great Whig statesman was but half right.
The Whigs became unpopular within the time named, but it was for very
different reasons from that assigned by Earl Grey in advance for their
fall in the people's favor. The Reform Bill, instead of proving an
aristocratic measure, has wellnigh rendered aristocratical government
impossible in England; and as a democracy in that country is as much
out of the question as a well-ordered monarchy is in America, a return
to a true regal government would seem to be the only course left for
England, if she desires to have a strong government. When the Duke of
Wellington, seeing the breaking up of the old system because of the
triumph of the Whig measure, asked the question, "How is the King's
government to be carried on?" he meant, "How will it be possible to
maintain the old aristocratical system of party-government?"

Since the grand organic change that was effected thirty years ago,
there has been no strong and stable government in England. Lord Grey
went out of office because he could not keep his party together. The
King, under the spurring of his wife, made an effort to play the part
of his father in 1783, with Peel for Pitt, and was beaten. Peel was
floored, and Lord Melbourne became Premier again; and though he held
office six years, he never had a working majority in the Commons, nor
a majority of any kind in the Peers. The largest majorities that he
could command in the lower House would have been considered something
like very weak support in the ante-Reform times, and would have caused
the ministers of those times to resign themselves to resignation.
When the Tories came back to power, in 1841, with about one hundred
majority in the Commons, they thought they were secure for a decade
at least; but in a few months they found they were not secure of even
their own chief; and in five years they were compelled to abandon
protection, and to consent to the death and burial of their own party,
which was denied even the honor of embalmment, young Conservatism
being nothing but old Toryism, and therefore it was beyond even the
power of spices to prolong its decay. It had rotted of the potato-rot,
and the League's powerful breath blew it over. The Whigs returned
to office, but not to power, the Russell Government proving a most
ridiculous concern, and living through only five years of rickety
rule. A spasmodic Tory Government, that discarded Tory principles,
endured for less than a year, not even the vigorous intellect of the
Earl of Derby, seconded though it was by the genius of Disraeli, being
sufficient to insure it a longer term of existence. Then came the
Aberdeen Ministry, a regular coalition concern, a no-party government,
and necessarily so, because all parties but the extreme Tories were
represented in it, and were engaged in neutralizing each other. How
could there be a party government, or, indeed, for long a government
of any kind, by a ministry in which were such men as Aberdeen and
Russell, Palmerston and Grahame, Gladstone and Clarendon, all pigging
together in the same truckle-bed, to use Mr. Burke's figure concerning
the mixture that was called the Chatham Ministry? The coalition went
to pieces on the Russian rock, having managed the war much worse
than any American Administration ever mismanaged one. The Palmerston
Government followed, and has existed ever since, deducting the
fifteen months that the second Derby-Disraeli Ministry lasted; but the
Palmerston Ministry has seldom had a majority in Parliament, and has
lived, partly through the forbearance of its foes, partly through the
support of men who are neither its friends nor its enemies, and partly
through the personal popularity of its vigorous old chief, who is
as lively at seventy-eight as he was at forty-five, when he was a
Canningite. Ministries now maintain themselves because men do not know
what might happen, if they were to be dismissed; and this has been the
political state of England for more than a quarter of a century, with
no indications of a change so long as the government shall remain
purely Parliamentary in its character, Parliament meaning the House of
Commons. There is no party in the United Kingdom capable of electing a
strong majority to the House of Commons, and hence a strong government
is impossible so long as that body shall control the country. With the
removal of Lord Palmerston something like anarchy might be expected,
there being no man but him who is competent to keep the Commons in
order without the aid of a predominating party. The tendency has been
for some time to lean upon individuals, at the same time that
the number of individuals possessed of influence of the requisite
character has greatly diminished. Sir Robert Peel, had he lived, would
have been all that Lord Palmerston is, and more, and would have been
more acceptable to the middle class than is the Irish peer.

The state of things that is thus presented, and which must become
every year of a more pronounced character, is one that would be highly
favorable to the exertions of a prince who should seek to make himself
felt as the wielder of the sceptre, and who should exert himself to
rise from the presidency of an aristocratical corporation, which is
all that a British monarch now is, to the place of king of a great and
free people. A prince with talent, and with a hold on the affection of
his nominal subjects, might confer the blessing of strong government
on Britain, and rule over the first of empires, instead of being a
mere doge, or, as Napoleon coarsely had it, a pig to fatten at the
public expense. The time would appear to be near at hand when England
shall be the scene of a new struggle for power, with the aristocracy
on the one side, and the sovereign and most of the people on the
other. A nation like England cannot exist long with weakness
organized for its government, and there is nothing in the condition
of Parliament or of parties that allows us to suppose that from them
strength could proceed, any more than that grapes could be gathered
from thorns or figs from thistles. A monarch who should effect the
change indicated might be called a usurper, and certainly would be a
revolutionist; but, as Mommsen says, "Any revolution or any usurpation
is justified before the bar of history by exclusive ability to
govern,"--and government is what most nations now stand most in need
of. The reason why George III.'s conduct is generally condemned is,
that he was a clumsy creature, and that he made a bad use of the power
which he monopolized, or sought to monopolize, his whole course being
unrelieved by a single trait of genius, or even of that tact which is
the genius of small minds.

It has been charged upon the princes of the House of Hanover that they
are given to quarrelling, and that between sovereign and heir-apparent
there has never been good-will, while they have on several occasions
disgusted the world by the vehemence of their hatred for each other.
That George I. hated his heir is well known; and George II. hated his
son Frederick with far more intensity than he himself had been hated
by his own father. The Memoirs of Lord Hervey show the state of
feeling that existed in the English royal family during the first
third of the reign of George II., and the spectacle is hideous beyond
parallel; and for many years longer, until Frederick's death,
there was no abatement of paternal and filial hate. George III.
was disgusted with his eldest son's personal conduct and political
principles, as well he might be; for while the father was a model of
decorum, and a bitter Tory, the son was a profligate, and a Whig,--and
the King probably found it harder to forgive the Whig than the
profligate. The Prince cared no more for Whig principles than he did
for his marriage-vows, but affected them as a means of annoying his
father, whose Toryism was of proof. He, as a man, toasted the buff and
blue, when that meant support of Washington and his associates,
for the same reason that, as a boy, he had cheered for Wilkes and
Liberty,--because it was the readiest way of annoying his father; but
he ever deserted the Whigs when his aid and countenance could have
been useful to them. George IV. had no child with whom to quarrel, but
while Prince Regent he did his worst to make his daughter unhappy,
as we find established in Miss Knight's Memoirs. The good-natured
and kind-hearted William IV. had no legitimate children, but he was
strongly attached to the Fitzclarences, who were borne to him by Mrs.
Jordan. Indeed, monarchs have often been as full of love for their
offspring born out of wedlock as of hate for their children born in
that holy state. Being men, they must love something, and what
so natural as that they should love their natural children, whose
helpless condition appeals so strongly to all their better feelings,
and who never can become their rivals?

Queen Victoria is the first sovereign of the House of Hanover who,
having children, has not pained the world by quarrelling with them.
A model sovereign, she has not allowed an infirmity supposed to be
peculiar to her illustrious House to control her clear and just mind,
so that her career as a mother is as pleasing as her career as a
sovereign is splendid. About the time of the death of Prince Albert,
a leading British journal published some articles in which it was
insinuated, not asserted, that there had been trouble in the Royal
Family, and that that quarrelling between parent and child which
had been so common in that family in former times was about to
be exhibited again. It was even said that domestic peace was an
impossibility in the House of Hanover, which was but an indorsement
of Earl Granville's remark, in George II.'s reign. "This family," said
that eccentric peer, "always has quarrelled, and always will quarrel,
from generation to generation"; and he did not live to see the ill
feeling that existed between George III. and his eldest son.

There is no reason for saying that the Hanover family is more
quarrelsome than most other royal lines; and the domestic dissensions
of great houses are more noted than those of lesser houses only
because kings and nobles are so placed as to live in sight of the
world. When a king falls out with his eldest son, the entertainment is
one to which all men go as spectators, and historians consider it
to be the first of their duties to give full details of that
entertainment. Since the Hanoverians have reigned over the English,
the world has been a writing and a reading world, and nothing has more
interested writers and readers than the dissensions of sovereigns and
their sons. If we extend our observation to those days when German
sovereigns were unthought of in England, we shall find that kings
and princes did not always agree; and if we go farther, and scan the
histories of other royal houses, we shall learn that it is not in
Britain alone that the wearers of crowns have looked with aversion
upon their heirs, and have had sons who have loved them so well and
truly as to wish to witness their promotion to heavenly crowns. The
Hanoverian monarchs of England, and their sons, have shared only the
common lot of those who reign and those who wish to reign.

The Norman kings of England did not always live on good terms with
their sons. William the Conqueror had a very quarrelsome family. His
children quarrelled with one another, and the King quarrelled with his
wife. The oldest son of William and Matilda was Robert, afterward Duke
of Normandy,--and a very trying time this young man caused his father
to have; while the mother favored the son, probably out of revenge for
the beatings she had received, with fists and bridles, from her royal
husband, who used to swear "By the Splendor of God!"--his favorite
oath, and one that has as much merit as can belong to any piece of
blasphemy,--that he never would be governed by a woman. The father and
son went to war, and they actually met in battle, when the son ran the
old gentleman through the arm with his lance, and dropped him out of
the saddle with the utmost dexterity. This was the first time that
the Conqueror was ever conquered, and perhaps it was not altogether
without complacency that "the governor" saw what a clever fellow his
eldest son was with his tools. At the time of William's death Robert
was on bad terms with him, and is believed to have been bearing arms
against him. Henry I. lost his sons before he could well quarrel
with them, the wreck of the White Ship causing the death of his
heir-apparent, and also of his natural son Richard. He compensated for
this omission by quarrelling with his daughter Matilda, and with her
husband, Geoffrey of Anjou. He made war on his brother Robert, took
from him the Duchy of Normandy, and shut him up for life; but the
story, long believed, that he put out Robert's eyes, has been called
in question by modern writers. King Stephen, who bought his breeches
at so low a figure, had a falling-out with his son Eustace, when he
and Henry Plantagenet sought to restore peace to England, and nothing
but Eustace's death made a settlement possible. William Rufus, the Red
King, who was the second of the Norman sovereigns of England, had
no legitimate children, for he was never married. He was a jolly
bachelor, and as such he has had the honor of having his history
written by one of the ablest literary ladies of our time, Miss Agnes
Strickland. He was the only king of England, who arrived at years of
indiscretion, who did not marry. The other bachelor kings were Edward
V. and Edward VI., whose united ages were short of thirty years. His
character does not tend to make the single state of man respected.
"Never did a ruler die less regretted than William Rufus," says Dr.
Lappenberg, "although still young, being little above forty, not a
usurper, and successful in his undertakings. He was never married,
and, besides the crafty and officious tools of his power, was
surrounded only by a few Normans of quality, and harlots. In his last
struggle with the clergy, the most shameless rapacity is especially
prominent, and so glaring, that, notwithstanding some exaggerations
and errors that may be pointed out in the Chronicles, he still appears
in the same light. Effeminacy, drunkenness, gluttony, dissoluteness,
and unnatural crimes were the distinguishing characteristics of his
court. He was himself an example of incontinence." This is a nice
character to travel with down the page of history. He quarrelled with
his brothers, and with his uncle, and kept up the family character in
an exceedingly satisfactory manner, considering that he was unmarried.
The statement that he was slain by Walter Tirel, accidentally, in the
New Forest, is now disregarded. Our theory of his death is, that he
fell a victim to the ambition of his brother, Henry I., who succeeded
him, and who certainly had good information as to his fall, and made
good use of it, like a sensible fellow.

Of all the royal races of the Middle Ages, no one stands out more
boldly on the historic page than the Plantagenets, who ruled over
England from 1154 to 1485, the line of descent being frequently
broken, and family quarrels constantly occurring. They were a bold and
an able race, and if they had possessed a closer resemblance to the
Hapsburgs, they would have become masters of Western Europe; but their
quarrelsome disposition more than undid all that they could effect
through the exercise of their talents. On the female side they were
descended from the Conqueror; and, as we have seen, the Conqueror's
family was one in which sons rebelled against the fathers, and brother
fought with brother. Matilda, daughter of Henry I., became the wife of
Geoffrey, Count of Anjou, and from their union came Henry II., first
of the royal Plantagenets. Now the Angevine Plantagenets were "a hard
set," as we should say in these days. Dissensions were common enough
in the family, and they descended to the offspring of Geoffrey and
Matilda, being in fact intensified by the elevation of the House to a
throne. Henry II. married Eleanora of Aquitaine, one of the greatest
matches of those days, a marriage which has had great effect on modern
history. The Aquitanian House was as little distinguished for the
practice of the moral virtues as were the lines of Anjou and Normandy.
One of the Countesses of Anjou was reported to be a demon, which
probably meant only that her husband had caught a Tartar in marrying
her; but the story was enough to satisfy the credulous people of those
times, who, very naturally, considering their conduct, believed that
the Devil was constant in his attention to their affairs. It was to
this lady that Richard Cocur de Lion referred, when he said, speaking
of the family contentions, "Is it to be wondered at, that, coming from
such a source, we live ill with one another? What comes from the Devil
must to the Devil return." With such an origin on his father's side,
crossing the fierce character of his mother, Henry II. thought he
could not do better than marry Eleanora, whose origin was almost as
bad as his own. Her grandfather had been a "fast man" in his youth and
middle life, and it was not until he had got nigh to seventy that he
began to think that it was time to repent. He had taken Eleanora's
grandmother from her husband, and a pious priest had said to them,
"Nothing good will be born to you," which prediction the event
justified. The old gentleman resigned his rich dominions, supposed to
be the best in Europe, to his grand-daughter, and she married Louis
VII., King of France, and accompanied him in the crusade that he was
so foolish as to take part in. She had women-warriors, who did their
cause immense mischief; and unless she has been greatly scandalized,
she made her husband fit for heaven in a manner approved neither by
the law nor the gospel. The Provencal ladies had no prejudices against
Saracens. After her return to Europe, she got herself divorced from
Louis, and married Henry Plantagenet, who was much her junior, she
having previously been the mistress of his father. It was a _mariage
de convenance_, and, as is sometimes the case with such marriages,
it turned out very inconveniently for both parties to it. It was not
unfruitful, but all the fruit it produced was bad, and to the husband
and father that fruit became the bitterest of bitter ashes. No
romancer would have dared to bring about such a scries of unions as
led to the creation of Plantagenet royalty, and to so much misery
as well as greatness. There is no exaggeration in Michelet's lively
picture of the Plantagenets. "In this family," he says, "it was a
succession of bloody wars and treacherous treaties. Once, when King
Henry had met his sons in a conference, their soldiers drew upon him.
This conduct was traditionary in the two Houses of Anjou and Normandy.
More than once had the children of William the Conqueror and Henry II.
pointed their swords against their father's breast. Fulk had placed
his foot on the neck of his vanquished son. The jealous Eleanora, with
the passion and vindictiveness of her Southern blood, encouraged her
sons' disobedience, and trained them to parricide. These youths, in
whose veins mingled the blood of so many different races,--Norman,
Saxon, and Aquitanian,--seemed to entertain, over and above the
violence of the Fulks of Anjou and the Williams of England, all the
opposing hatreds and discords of those races. They never knew whether
they were from the South or the North: they only knew that they hated
one another, and their father worse than all. They could not trace
back their ancestry, without finding, at each descent, or rape, or
incest, or parricide." Henry II. quarrelled with all his sons, and
they all did him all the mischief they could, under the advice and
direction of their excellent mother, whom Henry imprisoned. A priest
once sought to effect a reconciliation between Henry and his son
Geoffrey. He went to the Prince with a crucifix in his hand, and
entreated him not to imitate Absalom.

"What!" exclaimed the Prince, "would you have me renounce my

"God forbid!" answered the holy man; "I wish you to do nothing to your
own injury."

"You do not understand my words," said Geoffrey; "it is our family
fate not to love one another. 'T is our inheritance; and not one of us
will ever forego it."

That must have been a pleasant family to marry into! When the King's
eldest son, Henry, died, regretting his sins against his father,
that father durst not visit him, fearing treachery; and the immediate
occasion of the King's death was the discovery of the hostility of his
son John, who, being the worst of his children, was, of course, the
best-beloved of them all. The story was, that, when Richard entered
the Abbey of Fontevraud, in which his father's body lay, the corpse
bled profusely, which was held to indicate that the new king was his
father's murderer. Richard was very penitent, as his elder brother
Henry had been, on his death-bed. They were very sorrowful, were those
Plantagenet princes, when they had been guilty of atrocious acts,
and when it was too late for their repentance to have any practical

Richard I. had no children, and so he could not get up a perfect
family-quarrel, though he and his brother John were enemies. He died
at forty-two, and but a few years after his marriage with Berengaria
of Navarre, an English queen who never was in England. When on his
death-bed, Richard was advised by the Bishop of Rouen to repent, and
to separate himself from his children. "I have no children," the King
answered. But the good priest told him that he had children, and that
they were avarice, luxury, and pride. "True," said Richard, who was
a humorist,--"and I leave my avarice to the Cistercians, my luxury
to the Gray Friars, and my pride to the Templars." History has fewer
sharper sayings than this, every word of which told like a cloth-yard
shaft sent against a naked bosom. Richard certainly never quarrelled
with the children whom he thus left to his _friends_.

King John did not live long enough to illustrate the family character
by fighting with his children. When he died, in 1216, his eldest son,
Henry III., was but nine years old, and even a Plantagenet could not
well fall out with a son of that immature age. However, John did his
best to make his mark on his time. If he could not quarrel with his
children, because of their tender years, he, with a sense of duty that
cannot be too highly praised, devoted his venom to his wife. He was
pleased to suspect her of being as regardless of marriage-vows as he
had been himself, and so he hanged her supposed lover over her bed,
with two others, who were suspected of being their accomplices.
The Queen was imprisoned. On their being reconciled, he stinted her
wardrobe, a refinement of cruelty that was aggravated by his monstrous
expenditure on his own ugly person. Queen Isabella was very handsome,
and perhaps John was of the opinion of some modern husbands, who think
that dress extinguishes beauty as much as it inflames bills. Having
no children to torment, John turned his disagreeable attentions to his
nephew, Arthur, Duke of Brittany, who, according to modern ideas, was
the lawful King of England. The end was the end of Arthur. How he was
disposed of is not exactly known, but, judging from John's character
and known actions, we incline to agree with those writers who say that
the uncle slew the nephew with his own royal hand. He never could
deny himself an attainable luxury, and to him the murder of a youthful
relative must have been a rich treat, and have created for him a new
sensation, something like the new pleasure for which the Persian king
offered a great reward. Besides, all uncles are notoriously bad, and
seem, indeed, to have been made only for the misery of their nephews
and nieces, of whose commands they are most reprehensibly negligent.
We mean to write a book, one of these days, for the express purpose of
showing what a mistake it was to allow any such relationship to exist,
and tracing all the evil that ever has afflicted humanity to the
innate wickedness of uncles, and requiring their extirpation. We
err, then, on the safe side, in supposing that John despatched Arthur
himself,--not to say, that, when you require that a delicate piece of
work should be done, you must do it with your own hand, or you may
be disappointed. John did the utmost that he could do to keep up the
discredit of the family; for, when a man has no son to whip and to
curse, he should not be severely censured for having done no more than
to kill his nephew. Men of large and charitable minds will take all
the circumstances of John's case into the account, and not allow their
judgment of his conduct to be harsh. What better can a man do than his

Henry III. appears to have managed to live without quarrelling
with his children; but then he was a poor creature, and even was so
unkingly, and so little like what a Plantagenet should have been, that
he actually disliked war! He might with absolute propriety have worn
the lowly broom-corn from which his family-name was taken, while it
was a sweeping satire on almost all others who bore it. His heir,
Edward I., was a king of "high stomach," and as a prince he stood
stoutly by his father in the baronial wars. He, too, though the father
of sixteen children, dispensed with family dissensions, thus showing
that "The more, the merrier," is a true saying. Edward II. came to
grief from having a bad wife, Isabella of France, who made use of
his son against him. That son was Edward III., who became king in his
father's lifetime, and whose marriage with Philippa of Hainault is
one of the best-known facts of history, not only because it was an
uncommonly happy marriage, but that it had remarkable consequences.
This royal couple got along very happily with their children; but the
ambition of their fourth son, the Duke of Lancaster, troubled the
last days of the King, and prepared the way for great woes in the next
century. The King was governed by Lancaster, and the Black Prince, who
was then in a dying state, was at the head of what would now be called
the Opposition, as if he foresaw what evils his brother's ambition
would be the means of bringing upon his son.

Richard II., son of the Black Prince, had no children, though he
was twice married. He was dethroned, the rebels being headed by his
cousin, Henry of Lancaster, who became Henry IV. Thus was brought
about that change in the course of descent which John of Gaunt seems
to have aimed at, but which he died just too soon to see effected.
It was a violent change, and one which had its origin in a family
quarrel, added to political dissatisfaction. Had the revolutionist
wished merely to set aside a bad king, they would have called the
House of Mortimer to the throne, the chief member of that House being
the next heir, as descended from the Duke of Clarence, elder brother
of the Duke of Lancaster; but more was meant than a political
revolution, and so the line of Clarence was passed over, and its right
to the crown treated with neglect, to be brought forward in bloody
fashion in after-days. In fact, the Englishmen who made Henry of
Lancaster king prepared the way for that long and terrible struggle
which took place in the fifteenth century, and which was, its
consequences as well as its course considered, the greatest civil
war that has ever afflicted Christendom. The movement that led to the
elevation of Henry of Holingbroke to the throne, though not precisely
a palace-revolution, resembles a revolution of that kind more than
anything else with which it can be compared; and it was as emphatic
a departure from the principle of hereditary right as can be found in
history. So much was this the case, that liberals in polities mostly
place their historical sympathies with the party of the Red Rose, for
no other reason, that we have ever been able to see, than that the
House of Lancaster's possession of the throne testified to the triumph
of revolutionary principles; for that House was jealous of its power
and cruel in the exercise of it, and was so far from being friendly to
the people, that it derived its main support from the aristocracy,
and was the ally of the Church in the harsh work of exterminating the
Lollards. The House of York, on the other hand, while it had, to use
modern words, the legitimate right to the throne, was a popular House,
and represented and embodied whatever there was then existing in
politics that could be identified with the idea of progress.

The character of the troubles that existed between Henry IV. and his
eldest son and successor, Shakspeare's Prince Hal, is involved in much
obscurity. It used to be taken for granted that the poet's Prince was
an historical character, but that is no longer the case,--Falstaff's
royal associate being now regarded in the same light in which Falstaff
himself is regarded. The one is a poetic creation, and so is the
other. Prince Henry was neither a robber nor a rowdy, but from his
early youth a much graver character than most men are in advanced
life. He had great faults, but they were not such as are made to
appear in the pages of the player. The hero of Agincourt was a mean
fellow,--a tyrant, a persecutor, a false friend and a cruel enemy, and
the wager of most unjust wars; but he was not the "fast" youth that
he has been generally drawn. He had neither the good nor the bad
qualities that belong to young gentlemen who do not live on terms with
their papas. He was of a grave and sad temperament, and much more of
a Puritan than a Cavalier. It is a little singular that Shakspeare
should have given portraits so utterly false of the most unpopular of
the kings of the York family, and of the most popular of the kings of
the rival house,--of Richard III., that is, and of the fifth Henry
of Lancaster. Neither portrait has any resemblance to the original,
a point concerning which the poet probably never troubled himself, as
his sole purpose was to make good acting plays. Had it been necessary
to that end to make Richard walk on three legs, or Henry on one leg,
no doubt he would have done so,--just as Monk Lewis said he would have
made Lady Angela blue, in his "Castle Spectre," if by such painting
he could have made the play more effective. Prince Henry was a very
precocious youth, and had the management of great affairs when he was
but a child, and when it would have been better for his soul's and
his body's health, had he been engaged in acting as an esquire of some
good knight, and subjected to rigid discipline. The jealousy that
his father felt was the natural consequence of the popularity of the
Prince, who was young, and had highly distinguished himself in both
field and council, was not a usurper, and was not held responsible for
any of the unpopular acts done by the Government of his father. They
were at variance not long before Henry IV.'s death, but little is
known as to the nature of their quarrels. The crown scene, in which
the Prince helps himself to the crown while his father is yet alive,
is taken by Shakspeare from Monstrelet, who is supposed to have
invented all that he narrates in order to weaken the claim of the
English monarch to the French throne. If Henry IV., when dying, could
declare that he had no right to the crown of England, on what could
Henry V. base his claim to that of France?

Henry V. died before his only son, Henry VI., had completed his first
year; and Henry VI. was early separated from his only son, Edward
of Lancaster, the same who was slain while flying from the field
of Tewkesbury, at the age of eighteen. There was, therefore, no
opportunity for quarrels between English kings and their sons for the
sixty years that followed the death of Henry IV.; but there was
much quarrelling, and some murdering, in the royal family, in those
years,--brothers and other relatives being fierce rivals, even unto
death, and zealous even unto slaying of one another. It would be hard
to say of what crime those Plantagenets were not guilty.[A] Edward
IV., with whom began the brief ascendency of the House of York, died
at forty-one, after killing his brother of Clarence, his eldest son
being but twelve years old. He had no opportunity to have troubles
with his boys, and he loved women too well to fall out with his
daughters, the eldest of whom was but just turned of seventeen. The
history of Edward IV. is admirably calculated to furnish matter for a
sermon on the visitation of the sins of parents on their children. He
had talent enough to have made himself master of Western Europe,
but he followed a life of debauchery, by which he was cut off in his
prime, leaving a large number of young children to encounter the worst
of fortunes. Both of his sons disappeared, whether murdered by Richard
III. or Henry VII. no one can say; and his daughters had in part to
depend upon that bastard slip of the Red-Rose line, Henry VII., for
the means to enable them to live as gentlewomen,--all but the eldest,
whom Henry took to wife as a point of policy, which her father would
have considered the greatest misfortune of all those that befell his
offspring. Richard III's only legitimate son died a mere boy.

[Footnote A: It has been said of the Plantagenets that they "never
shed the blood of a woman." This is nonsense, as we could, time and
space permitting, show by the citation of numerous facts, but we shall
here mention only one. King John had a noble woman shut up with her
son, and starved to death. Perhaps that was not shedding her blood,
but it was something worse. Before English statesmen and orators and
writers take all the harlotry of Secessia under their kind care and
championship, it would be well for them to read up their own country's
history, and see how abominably women have been used in England for a
thousand years, from queens to queans.]

The Tudors fame to the English throne in 1485. There was no want of
domestic quarrelling with them. Arthur, Henry VII.'s eldest son, died
young, but left a widow, Catharine of Aragon, whom the King treated
badly; and he appears to have been jealous of the Prince of Wales,
afterward Henry VIII., but died too soon to allow of that jealousy's
blooming into quarrels. According to some authorities, the Prince
thought of seizing the crown, on the ground that it belonged to him in
right of his mother, Elizabeth Plantagenet, who was unquestionably the
legitimate heir. Henry VIII. himself, who would have made a splendid
tyrant over a son who should have readied to man's estate,--an
absolute model in that way to all after-sovereigns,--was denied
by fortune an opportunity to round and perfect his character as
a domestic despot. Only one of his legitimate sons lived even to
boyhood, Edward VI., and Henry died when the heir-apparent was in his
tenth year. Of his illegitimate son, the Duke of Richmond, Henry
was extravagantly fond, and at one time thought of making him
heir-apparent, which might have been done, for the English dread of
a succession war was then at its height. Richmond died in his
seventeenth year. Having no sons of a tormentable age, Henry made his
daughters as unhappy as he could make them by the harsh exercise of
paternal authority, and bastardized them both, in order to clear the
way to the throne for his son. Edward VI. died a bachelor, in his
sixteenth year, so that we can say nothing of him as a parent; but he
treated his sister Mary with much harshness, and exhibited on various
occasions a disposition to have things his own way that would have
delighted his father, provided it had been directed against anybody
but that severe old gentleman himself. Mary I. was the best sovereign
of her line, domestically considered; but then she had neither son nor
daughter with whom to quarrel, and the difficulties she had with her
half-sister, Elizabeth, like the differences between the Archangel
Michael and the Fallen Angel, were purely political in their
character. We do not think that she would have done much injustice,
if she had made Elizabeth's Tower-dungeon the half-way house to the
scaffold. But though political, the half-sisterly dissensions between
these ladies serve to keep Mary I. within the rules of the royal
houses to which she belonged. Mary, dying of the loss of Calais and
the want of children, was succeeded by Elizabeth, who, being a
maiden queen, had no issue with whom to make issue concerning
things political or personal. But observe how basely she treated her
relatives, those poor girls, the Greys, Catharine and Mary, sisters of
poor Lady Jane, whose fair and clever head Mary I. had taken off. The
barren Queen, too jealous to share her power with a husband, hated
marriage with all "the sour malevolence of antiquated virginity," and
was down upon the Lady Catharine and the Lady Mary because they chose
to become wives. Then she imprisoned her cousin, Mary Stuart, for
nineteen years, and finally had her butchered under an approach to
the forms of law, and in total violation of its spirit. She, too, kept
within the royal rules, and made herself as great a pest as possible
to her relatives.

The English throne passed to the House of Stuart in 1603, and, after
a lapse of six-and-fifty years, England had a sovereign with sons and
daughters, the first since the death of Henry VIII. at the beginning
of 1547. There was little opportunity for family dissensions in the
days of most of the Stuarts, as either political troubles of the most
serious nature absorbed the attention of kings and princes, or the
reigning monarchs had no legitimate children. The open quarrel
between Charles I. and the Parliament began before his eldest son had
completed his eleventh year; and after that quarrel had increased to
war, and it was evident that the sword alone could decide the issue,
the King parted with his son forever. They had no opportunity to
become rivals, and to fall out. There is so much that can be said
against Charles I. with truth, that it is pleasing--as are most
novelties--to be able to mention something to his credit. Instead
of being jealous of his son, or desiring to keep him in ignorance of
affairs, he early determined to train him to business. According
to Clarendon, he said that he wished to "unboy him." Therefore he
conferred high military offices upon him before he had completed his
fifteenth year; and sent him to the West of England, to be the
nominal head of the Western Association. Charles II. had no legitimate
children, and so he could not have any quarrels with a Prince of
Wales. He was fond of his numerous bastards, and, like an affectionate
royal father, provided handsomely for them at the public-expense. What
more could a father do, situated as that father was, and always in
want of his people's money? Some of them were not his sons,--Monmouth,
the best beloved of them all, being the son of Robert Sidney, a
brother of the renowned Algernon, a fact that partially excuses the
harsh conduct of James II. toward his nominal nephew. James II. had
no legitimate son until the last year of his reign; but his two eldest
daughters treated him far worse than any sovereign of the Hanoverian
line was ever used by a son. They were most respectable women, and
their deficiency in piety has worked well for the world; but it must
ever be repugnant to humanity to regard the conduct of Mary and Anne
with respect. No wonder that people called Mary the modern Tullia.
Mary II. died young, and childless; and Queen Anne, though a most
prolific wife, and but fifty-one at her death, survived all her
children. Anne believed that her children's deaths were sent in
punishment of her unfilial conduct; and she would have restored her
nephew, the Pretender, to the British throne, but that the Jacobites
were the silliest political creatures that ever triumphed in the
how-not-to-do-it business, and could not even hold their mouths open
for the rich and ripened fruit to drop into them.

The first of the English Stuarts, James I., is suspected of having
allowed his jealousy of his eldest son, the renowned Prince Henry, to
carry him to the extent of child-murder. The Stuarts are called the
Fated Line, and it is certain that none of their number, from Robert
II.--who got the Scottish throne in virtue of his veins containing a
portion of the blood of the Bruce, and so regalized the family, which,
like the Bruces, was of Norman origin, and originally Fitzalan
by name--to Charles Edward, and the Cardinal York, who died but
yesterday, as it were, but had a wonderful run of bad luck. They had
capital cards, but they knew not how to play them. With them, to play
was to lose, and the most fortunate of their number were those kings
who played as little as they could, such as James I. and Charles II.
Those who lost the most were those who played the hardest, as Charles
I. and his second son, James II. Yet the family was a clever one, with
strong traits, both of character and talent, that ought to have made
it the most successful of ruling races, and would have made it so,
if its chiefs could have learned to march with the times. They had to
contend, in Scotland, with one of the fiercest and most unprincipled
aristocracies that ever tried the patience and traversed the purposes
of monarchs who really aimed at the good government of their people;
and the idiosyncrasy contracted during more than two centuries of
Scottish rule clung to the family after it went to England, and found
itself living under altogether a different state of things. What was
virtue in Scotland became vice in England; and the ultra-monarchists,
who came into existence not long after James I. succeeded to
Elizabeth, helped to spoil the Stuarts. Both James and his successor
were dominated by Scotch traditions, and supposed that they were
contending with men who had the same end in view that had been
regarded by the Douglases, the Hamiltons, the Ruthvens, the Lindsays,
and others of the old Scotch baronage. What helped to deceive them was
this,--that their opponents in England, like the opponents of their
ancestors in Scotland, were aristocrats; and they supposed, that, as
aristocratical movements in their Northern kingdom had always been
subversive of order and peace, the same kind of movements would
produce similar results in their Southern kingdom. They could not
understand that one aristocracy may differ much from another, and
that, while in Scotland the interest of the people, or rather of the
whole nation, required the exaltation of the kingly power, in England
it was that exaltation which was most to be feared. Sufficient
allowance has not been made for the Stuarts in this respect, little
regard being paid to the effect of the family's long training at home,
which had rendered hostility to the nobility second nature to it. Had
the Stuarts been the supporters of liberal ideas in England, their
conduct would have given the lie to every known principle of human
action. As their distrust of aristocracy rendered them despotically
disposed, because the Scotch aristocracy had been the most lawless of
mankind, so did they become attached to the Church of England because
of the tyranny they had seen displayed by the Church of Scotland, the
most illiberal ecclesiastical body, in those times, that men had ever
seen, borne with, or suffered from. James I. and his grandson Charles
II. had their whole conduct colored, and dyed in the wool, too, by
their recollections of the odious treatment to which they had
been subjected by a harsh and intolerant clergy. They had not the
magnanimity to overlook, in the day of their power, what they had
suffered in the day of their weakness.

James I. undoubtedly disliked his eldest son, and was jealous of him;
but it is by no means clear that he killed him, or caused him to
be killed. He used to say of him, "What! will he bury me alive?"
He ordered that the court should not go into mourning for Henry, a
circumstance that makes in his favor, as murderers are apt to affect
all kinds of hypocrisy in regard to their victims, and to weep in
weeds very copiously. Yet his conduct may have been a refinement of
hypocrisy, and, though a coward in the common acceptation of the word,
James had much of that peculiar kind of hardihood which enables its
possessor to treat commonly received ideas with contempt. His conduct
in "The Great Oyer of Poisoning" was most extraordinary, it must
be allowed, and is not reconcilable with innocence; but it does not
follow that the guilt which the great criminals in that business could
have established as against James related only to the death of Henry.
It bore harder upon the King than even that crime could have borne,
and must have concerned his conduct in matters that are peculiarly
shocking to the ears of Northern peoples, though Southern races have
ears that are less delicate. It was in Somerset's power to
explain James's conduct respecting some things that puzzled his
contemporaries, and which have continued to puzzle their descendants;
but the explanation would have ruined the monarch in the estimation of
even the most vicious portion of his subjects, and probably would have
given an impetus to the growing power of the Puritans that might have
led to their ascendency thirty years earlier than it came to pass
in the reign of his son. James was capable of almost any crime or
baseness; but in the matter of poisoning his eldest son he is entitled
to the Scotch verdict of _Not Proven_.

Whether James killed his son or not, it is certain that the Prince's
death was a matter of extreme importance. Henry was one of those
characters who are capable of giving history a twist that shall
last forever. He had a fondness for active life, was very partial
to military pursuits, and was friendly to those opinions which
the bigoted chiefs of Austria and Bavaria were soon to combine to
suppress. Henry would have come to the throne in 1625, had he lived,
and there seems no reason to doubt that he would have anticipated the
part which Gustavus Adolphus played a few years later. He would have
made himself the champion of Protestantism, and not the less readily
because his sister, the Electress-Palatine and Winter-Queen of
Bohemia, would have been benefited by his successes in war. Bohemia
might have become the permanent possession of the Palatine, and
Protestantism have maintained its hold on Southern Germany, had Henry
lived and reigned, and had his conduct as a king justified the hopes
and expectations that were created by his conduct as a prince. The
House of Austria would in that case have had a very different
career from that which it has had since 1625, when Ferdinand II. was
preparing so much evil for the future of Europe. Had Henry returned
from Continental triumphs at the head of a great and an attached army,
what could have prevented him from establishing arbitrary power in
his insular dominions? His brother failed to make himself absolute,
because he had no army, and was personally unpopular; but Henry would
have had an army, and one, too, that would have stood high in English
estimation, because of what it had done for the English name and the
Protestant religion in Germany,--and Henry himself would have been
popular, as a successful military man is sure to be in any country.
Pym and Hampden would have found him a very different man to deal with
from his foolish brother, who had all the love of despotism that man
can have, but little of that kind of ability which enables a sovereign
to reign despotically. Charles I. had no military capacity or taste,
or he would have taken part in the Thirty Years' War, and in that way,
and through the assistance of his army, have accomplished his domestic
purpose. His tyranny was of a hard, iron character, unrelieved by
a single ray of glory, but aggravated by much disgrace from the ill
working of his foreign policy; so that it was well calculated to
create the resistance which it encountered, and by which it was
shivered to pieces. Henry would have gone to work in a different way,
and, like Cromwell, would have given England glory, while taking from
her freedom. There is nothing that the wearer of a crown cannot do,
provided that crown is encircled with laurel. But the Stuarts seldom
produced a man of military talent, which was a fortunate thing for
their subjects, who would have lost their right to boast of their
Constitutional polity, had Charles I. or James II. been a good
soldier. We Americans, too, would have had a very different sort
of annals to write, if the Stuarts, who have given so many names to
American places, had known how to use that sword which they were so
fond of handling.

The royal families of England did by no means monopolize the share of
domestic dissensions set apart for kings. The House of Stuart, even
before it ascended the English throne, and when it reigned over only
poor, but stout Scotland, was anything but famous for the love of its
fathers for their sons, or for its sons' love for their fathers; and
dissensions were common in the royal family. Robert III., second king
of the line, had great grief with his eldest son, the Duke of Rothsay;
and the King's brother, the Duke of Albany, did much to increase the
evil that had been caused by the loose life of the heir-apparent. The
end was, that Rothsay was imprisoned, and then murdered by his uncle.
Scott has used the details of this court-tragedy in his "Fair Maid of
Perth," one of the best of his later novels, most of the incidents in
which are strictly historical. James I. was murdered while he was yet
young, and James II. lost his life at twenty-nine; but James III. lost
both throne and life in a war that was waged against him in the name
of his son, who became king in consequence of his father's defeat and
death. When James IV. fell at Flodden, because he fought like a brave
fool, and not like a skilful general, he left a son who was not three
years old; and that son, James V., when he died, left a daughter, the
hapless Mary Stuart, who was but a week old. There was not much room
for quarrelling in either of these cases. Mary Stuart's son, then an
infant, was made the head of the party that dethroned his mother,
and forced her into that long exile that terminated in her murder by
Elizabeth of England. Mary's quarrels with her husband, Darnley, were
of so bitter a character as to create the belief that she caused
him to be murdered,--a belief that is as common now as it was in the
sixteenth century, though the Marian Controversy has been going on for
wellnigh three hundred years, and it has been distinctly proved by a
host of clever writers and skilful logicians that it was impossible
for her to have had any thing to do with that summary act of divorce.

Several of the sovereigns of Continental Europe have had great
troubles with their children, and these children have often had very
disobedient fathers. In France, the Dauphin, afterward Louis XI.,
could not always keep on good terms with his father, Charles VII., who
has the reputation of having restored the French monarchy, after the
English had all but subverted it, Charles at one time being derisively
called King of Bourges. Nothing annoyed Louis so much as being
compelled to run away before the army which his father was leading
against him. He would, he declared, have stayed and fought, but that
he had not even half so many men as composed the royal force. He
would have killed his father as readily as he killed his brother in
after-days,--if he did kill his brother, of which there is some
doubt, of which he should have the benefit. As was but natural, he
was jealous of his son, though he died when that prince was thirteen.
Owing to various causes, however, there have been fewer quarrels
between French kings and their eldest sons than between English kings
and their eldest sons. Few French monarchs have been succeeded by
their sons during the last three hundred years,--but two, in fact,
namely, Louis XIII., who followed his father, Henry IV., and Louis
XIV., who succeeded to Louis XIII., his father. It is two hundred
and twenty years since a father was succeeded by a son in France,--a
circumstance that Napoleon III. should lay to heart, and not be too
sure that the Prince Imperial is to become Napoleon IV. There seems
to be something fatal about the French purple, which has a strange
tendency to spread itself, and to settle upon shoulders that could not
have counted upon experiencing its weight and its warmth. Sometimes it
is hung up for the time, and becomes dusty, while republicans take a
turn at governing, though seldom with success. There were troubles
in the families of Louis XIV., who was too heartless, selfish, and
unfeeling not to be that worst kind of king, the domestic tyrant. He
tyrannized over even his mistresses.

Philip II., the greatest monarch of modern times,--perhaps the
greatest of all time, the extent and diversity of his dominions
considered, and the ability of the races over which he ruled taken
into the account,--was under the painful necessity of putting his
eldest son, Don Carlos, in close confinement, from which he never came
forth until he was brought out feet foremost, the presumption being
that he had been put to death by his father's orders. Carlos has been
made a hero of romance, but a more worthless character never lived.
On his death-bed Philip II. was compelled to see how little his son
Philip, who succeeded him, cared for his feelings and wishes. Peter
the Great put to death his son Alexis; and Frederick William I.
of Prussia came very near taking the life of that son of his who
afterward became Frederick the Great.

Jealousy is so common a feeling in Oriental royal houses, that it is
hardly allowable to quote anything from their history; but we may be
permitted to allude to the effect of one instance of paternal hate in
the Ottoman family at the time of its utmost greatness. Solyman
the Magnificent was jealous of his eldest son, Mustapha, who is
represented by all writers on the Turkish history of those times as
a remarkably superior man, and who, had he lived, would have been a
mighty foe to Christendom. This son the Sultan caused to be put to
death, and there are few incidents of a more tragical cast than those
which accompanied Mustapha's murder. They might be turned to great
use by an historical romancer, who would find matters all made to his
hand. The effect of this murder was to substitute for the succession
that miserable drunkard, Selim II., who was utterly unable to lead the
Turks in those wars that were absolutely essential to their existence
as a dominant people. "With him," says Ranke, "begins the series of
those inactive Sultans, in whose dubious character we may trace one
main cause of the decay of the Ottoman fortunes." Solyman's hatred of
his able son was a good thing for Christendom; for, if Mustapha had
lived, and become Sultan, the War of Cyprus--that contest in
which occurred the Battle of Lepanto--might have Lad a different
termination, and the Osmanlis have been successful invaders of both
Spain and Italy. It was a most fortunate circumstance for Europe,
that, while it was engaged in carrying on civil wars and wars of
religion, the Turks should have had for their chiefs men incapable of
carrying on that work of war and conquest through which alone it was
possible for those Mussulmans to maintain their position in Europe;
and that they were thus favored was owing to the causeless jealousy
felt by Sultan Solyman for the son who most resembled himself: and
Solyman was the greatest of his line, which some say ended with him.





One Sunday morning, long ago, a girl stood in her bed-room,
lingeringly occupied with the last touches of her toilet.

A string of beads, made of pure gold and as large as peas, lay before
her. They had been her mother's,--given to her when the distracted
state of American currency made a wedding-present of the precious
metal as welcome as it was valuable. Three several times, under
circumstances of great pecuniary urgency, had the beads sufficed, one
by one, to restore the family to comfort,--to pay the expenses of a
journey, to buy seed-grain, and to make out the payment of a yoke of
oxen. Afterwards, when peace and plenty came to be housemates in the
land, the gold beads were redeemed, and the necklace, dearer than
ever, encircled the neck of the only daughter.

The only daughter took them up, and clasped them round her throat with
a decisive snap. But the crowning graces remained in the shape of two
other ornaments that lay in a small China box. It had a head on the
cover, beautifully painted, of some queen,--perhaps of the Empress
Josephine, the girl thought. The hat had great ostrich-feathers, that
seemed proper to royalty, and it was a pretty face.

In the box lay a pin and ring. On the back of the pin was braided
hair, and letters curiously intertwined. The young girl slipped the
ring on her own finger once more, and smiled. Then she took it off,
with a sigh that had no pain in it, and looked at the name engraved
inside,--DORCAS FOX.

Whoever saw this name in the town records would naturally image to
himself the town tailoress or nurse, or somebody's single sister
who had been wise too long,--somebody tall, a little bent, and
bony,--somebody weather-beaten and determined--looking, with a sharp,
shrewd glance of a gray eye that said you could not possibly get the
better of her and so need not try,--somebody who goes out unattended
and fearless at night; for, as she very properly observes, "Who'd want
to speak to _me_?"

This might have described the original owner of the pin and ring, who
had died years before, and left the ornaments for her namesake and
niece, when she was too young to remember or care for her, but not the
niece herself. She was young, blooming, twenty-two, and the belle of
the country-village where she dwelt.

The bed-room where the girl stood and meditated, after her fashion,
was six feet by ten in dimensions, and the oval mirror before which
she stood was six inches by ten. It was a genuine relic of the
Mayflower, and had been brought over, together with the great chest in
the entry, by the grand-grand-grandmother of all the Foxes. If anybody
were disposed to be skeptical on this point, Colonel Fox had only to
point to the iron clamp at the end, by which it had been confined to
the deck; that would have produced conviction, if he had declared it
came out of the Ark. This was a queer-looking little mirror, in which
the young Dorcas saw her round face reflected: framed in black oak,
delicately carved, and cut on the edge with a slant that gave the
plate an appearance of being an inch thick.

Sixty years ago there were not many mirrors in country-towns in New
England; and in Colonel Fox's house this and one more sufficed for the
family-reflections. In the "square room," a modern long looking-glass,
framed in mahogany, and surmounted by the American emblem of triumph,
was the astonishment of the neighbors,--and in Walton those were many,
though the population was small.

Dorcas looked wistfully and wishingly at the oval pin; but with no
more notion of what she was looking at than the child who gazes into
the heavens on a winter night. When she looked into the oval mirror,
no dream of the centuries through which it had received on its surface
fair and suffering faces, grave, noble, self-sacrificing men, and
scenes of trial deep and agonizing,--no dream of the past disturbed
the serene unconsciousness of her gaze. She looked at the large
pearls that formed the long oval pin, and at the exquisite allegorical
painting, which, in the quaint fashion of the time of its execution,
was colored with the "ground hair" of the beloved; so materializing
sentiment, and, as it were, getting as near as possible to the very
heart's blood. Yet the old gold, the elaborate execution of the quaint
classical device, and the fanciful arrangement of the braided hair
interwoven with twisted gold letters, all told no tales to the
observer, whose unwakened nature, indeed, asked no questions.

The little room, so small that in these days a College of Physicians
would at once condemn it, as a cradle of disease and death, had
nevertheless for twenty years been the nightly abode of as perfect a
piece of health as the country produced. Whatever might be wanting
in height and space was amply made up in inevitable and involuntary
ventilation. Health walked in at the wide cracks around the little
window-frame, peeped about in all directions with the snow-flakes in
winter and the ready breezes in summer, and settled itself permanently
on the fresh cheeks and lips of the light sleeper and early riser.

Beside the white-covered cot there stood a straight-backed,
list-seated oaken chair, a mahogany chest of drawers that reached from
floor to ceiling, and a little three-legged light-stand. Everything
was covered with white, and the room was fragrant with the lavender
and dried rose-leaves with which every drawer was scrupulously
perfumed. There was no toilet-table, for Dorcas had use neither for
perfumes nor ointment. No Kalydors and no Glycerines came within the
category of her healthful experience. Alert and graceful, she neither
burnt her fingers nor cut her hands, and had need therefore of no
soothing salves or sirups; and as she did not totter in scrimped shoes
or tight laces, and so did not fall and break her bones, she had no
need even of that modern necessity in all well-regulated families,
"Prepared Glue." There was no medicine-chest in Colonel Fox's house.
Healthy, occupied, active, and wise--but not too wise--was Dorcas Fox.

It is no proof that Dorcas was a beauty, that she looked often in the
little mirror. Ugliness is quite as anxious as beauty on that point,
and is even oftener found gazing with sad solicitude at itself, if
haply there may be found some mollifying or mitigating circumstance,
either in outline or expression. But Dorcas's face pleased herself and
everybody else.

A certain freedom and ease, the result partly of a symmetrical form,
and partly of conscious good-looks, gave the grace of movement to
Dorcas which attracted all eyes. Almost every one has a sense of
harmony, and old and young loved to watch the musical motion of Dorcas
Fox, whatever she might be doing,--whether she queened it at the
"Thanksgiving Ball," and from heel-and-toe, pigeon-wing, or mazy
double-shuffle, evolved the finest and subtlest intricacies of muscle,
or whether, on the Sabbath, walking behind her parents to meeting,
she married the movement to the solemnity of the day, and, as it were,
walked in long metre.

She always was in Hallelujah metre to the Blacks, Whites, Grays,
Greens, and Browns that color so largely every New-England community;
and the youths who were wont to form the crowd that invariably settled
at the corner of the meeting-house waited only till Dorcas Fox went up
the "broad-oil" to express open-mouthed admiration. After her fashion,
she was as much wondered at as the Duchess of Hamilton in her time,
and with much more reason, since Dorcas was composed of real roses and

On Sunday, though the Puritanic doctrine prevailed, as far as doctrine
can, of not speaking week-day thoughts, or having them, if they would
keep away, yet inevitably, among the younger portion of the flock, the
day of "meeting" was one of more than religious importance; and many
lads and lasses who were never attracted by Father Boardman's eloquent
sedatives still made it a point to be regular in their attendance at
meeting twice on every Sunday. From far and near came open one-horse
wagons, piled high with weekly shaven and dressed humanity,--young
and old with solemn and demure faces, with brown-ribboned queues, and
garments of domestic making. Fresh, strong, tall girls of five feet
ten, dressed in straw bonnets of their own handiwork, and sometimes
with scarlet cardinals lightly flung over their shoulders, sprang over
the wagon-thills to the ground. Now and then the more remote dwellers
came on horseback, each Jack with his Gill on a pillion behind, and
holding him with a proper and dignified embrace.

Hard-handed youths, with bright, determined faces,--men nursed in
blockhouses, born in forts,--men who had raised their corn when the
loaded gun went every step with the hoe and the plough,--such men,
of whom the Revolution had been made, who could say nothing, and do
everything, stood in a crowd around the meeting-house door. There was
some excitement in meeting each other, though there was very little,
if anything, to say. There was time enough in those days. Progress
wasn't in such a hurry as now. Inventions came calmly along, once in
a man's life, and not, as now, each heel-trodden by that of his
neighbor, tripping up and passing it, in the speed of the breathless

The sun itself seemed to shine with a calmer and silenter radiance
over the broad, leisurely land.

Time enough, bless you! and the Sunday, any way, is _so_ long!

This Sunday morning, at ten o'clock, Dorcas has already been up and
dressed six hours. Everything having the remotest connection with
domestic duties has been finished and laid aside long ago, and she has
devoted the last two hours to solitary meditations, mostly of the kind
already mentioned.

In the great oven, since last night, has lain the Sunday supper of
baked pork-and-beans, Indian-pudding, and brown bread, all the
better the longer they bake, and all unfailing in their character
of excellence. In the square room, in the green arm-chair, sits the
Colonel, fast asleep.

Four hours ago, he fumed and fretted about barn and cow-house,
breakfasted, and had family-prayers. Since then, he has donned his
Sabbath array, both mental and bodily. Mentally, having dismissed the
cares of the week, he has strictly united himself with his body, and
gone to sleep. Bodily, he appears in a suit of hemlock-dyed, with
Matherman buttons, knee- and shoe-buckles of silver. His gray hair is
neatly composed in a queue, his full cheeks rest on his portly chest,
and the outward visibly harmonizes with the inward man. He
sleeps soundly now, purposing faithfully to keep awake during the
three-and-twenty heads of the minister's discourse. If he finds it
too much for him, he means to stand, as he often does. Sometimes he
partakes freely of the aromatic stimulants carried by his wife and
daughter as bouquets. The southernwood wakes him, and the green seeds
of the caraway get him well along through the sermon.

Mrs. Fox steps softly in, rustling in the same black taffeta she
always wears, and the same black silk bonnet,--worn just fifty-two
days in a year, and carefully pinned and boxed away for all the other
three hundred and thirteen.

As fashions did not come to Walton oftener than once in ten years,
it followed that apparel among the young people wore very much the
expression of individual taste, while among the elders it was wont to
assume the cast now irreverently designated by "fossil remains." And,
really, it did not much matter. Whatever our country-grandmothers were
admired and esteemed for, be sure it was not dress.

As the clock pointed to half-past ten, the door opened quickly, and
Dorcas stood on the threshold, like a summer breeze that has stopped
one moment its fluttering, and hovers fresh, sweet, and sunny in
the morning air. The breath of her presence, if indeed it were not
association, roused old Colonel Fox from his sleep. He glanced at her,
took the ready arm of his wife, looked again at the clock, and passed
out over the flat door-stone with his cocked hat and cane, as became
an invalid soldier and a gentleman. Behind them, hymn-book in hand
and with downcast eyes, walked Dorcas. Not a word passed between the
parents and their only daughter. On Sunday, people were not to think
their own thoughts. And familiarity between parents and children,
never allowed even on week-days, would have been unpardonable
unfitness on the Sabbath.

They reached the church-door just as the minister, with his white wig
shedding powder on his venerable back, passed up the broad-aisle.
A perfectly decorous throng of the loiterers followed, and the
pews rapidly filled. The Colonel and his wife, being persons of
consequence, took their way with suitable dignity and deliberation. In
the three who turned, about half-way up the broad-aisle, into a square
pew, a physiognomist would have seen at one glance the characteristic
features of each mind. In the Colonel, choleric, fresh, and
warm-hearted, a good lover, and not very good hater. In his wife, "a
chronicler of small-beer," with a perfectly negative expression. One
might guess she did no harm, and fear she did no good,--that she saved
the hire of an upper servant,--that she was an inveterate sewer and
cleaner, and would leave the world in time with an epitaph.

On the third figure and face the physiognomist might dwell
longer,--but that rather because youth, hope, and inexperience had
refused to make any of the life-marks that tell stories in faces.
There was abundant room for imagination and prophecy.

A figure not too tall, but full of wavy lines,--two dark-blue eyes,
whose full under-lids gave an expression of arch sweetness to the
glance,--a delicate complexion of roses and lilies, as suggestive of
fading as of blossoming,--features small, and not at all of the Greek
pattern,--and the rather large head and slightly developed bust,
typical of American rural beauty.

To this summary of youthful charms would be at once added the grace of
motion before spoken of, which made Dorcas Fox a favorite with all the
young men in Walton, and which gave her a reputation of beauty which
in strictness she did not deserve. A little habitual ill-health,
and the glamour is gone, with the roses and lilies and the music
of motion. In our climate of fierce extremes, both field- and
garden-flowers speedily wilt and chill. Dorcas herself had been a
thousand times told she was the very picture of her mother at her age.
And just to look now at Mrs. Colonel Fox!

A tall young man stood on the doorsteps of the meeting-house, as
Dorcas went demurely behind her parents in at the open door. He looked
at her with a quick, inquiring glance from his keen Yankee eyes, which
she answered with an almost imperceptible nod of her graceful head.
She dropped her eyes, and passed on. This young man was Henry Mowers,
and he owned the Mowers farm. He was a very good, sensible fellow, and
had "kept company," as the country-phrase is, with Dorcas Fox for
the last few weeks, having, indeed, had his eye on her ever since the
New-Year's sleigh-ride and ball.

After Dorcas had reached her seat in the pew, and adjusted her
spotless Sunday chintz and the ribbon that confined her jaunty
gypsy-hat over her sunny hair, she raised her eyes carelessly to a pew
in a side-aisle. The Dorrs generally occupied it alone; but sometimes
Swan Day, when he wasn't in the choir, sat there too.

Swan Day, or, as he might better have been called, Night Raven, kept
the country-store in Walton. One naturally thought of afternoon
rather than morning at seeing his olive complexion, dark eyes, and
thick-clustering black curls. Such romance as was to be had in Walton,
without the aid of a circulating library, certainly gathered about
Swan Day. An orphan, born of a Creole mother and a British sergeant,
he had been left early to his own resources. He had found them
sufficient thus far, in a cordial neighborhood like Walton, when
industry and temperance were cardinal virtues not carried to excess;
and he was rather a favorite among the young women.

The peculiar languor and richness of his complexion,--the dark eyes,
soft as an Indian girl's,--the mouth, melting and red as the grapes
where under a tropical sun his foreign mother had lain, and, gathering
them ripe, had dropped them lazily into his baby mouth: these were new
and strange features in the Saxon community where he had accidentally
been left on the death of his father, who was shot at Saratoga. The
mother lingered awhile, and then dropped away, leaving Swan to thrive
in the bracing air in which she had shivered to death.

Many Sundays before this, Swan had looked at Colonel Fox's pew, and,
looking, loved.

Dorcas looked occasionally.

All the time, while the minister preached, she twiddled her
caraway-stems, sometimes biting a seed in two very softly between her
little teeth, and keeping, on the whole, an appearance of exemplary
devoutness. When Father Boardman reached "sixthly," she raised her
eyes, and saw Henry Mowers looking straight at her. Then she
dropped her eyelids at once, sniffed delicately at her bouquet of
southernwood, and, gaining strength from its pungency, applied herself
to staring once more at the great pine pulpit, where, like a very old
sparrow on the house-top, Father Boardman denounced and anathematized
at leisure all who did not think as he did. By degrees, all the eyes
in Dorcas's neighborhood that had been any length of time in the world
were dozing and closing with the full leave of the spirit. Finally,
when Father Boardman entered on the "improvement," Dorcas, who had
not heard a word, looked again in the direction of the Dorr pew. Henry
Mowers had succumbed to Morpheus half an hour before. Still there
flamed on the deep, bewitching eyes of Day; and as all the rest in her
neighborhood had gone to sleep, and the young girl had really nothing
specially to keep herself awake with, she looked up, too, and then
down, and then rosily, and timidly, and consciously, and then at
him once more. By that time she blushed again, and a smile was just
beginning to wake from its sleep in the corner of her mouth, when
a rush, a rising, and a general clatter and banging of pew-seats
announced the blessed news of suspended instruction.

In the fashion of sixty years ago, the congregation waited reverently,
until the pastor walked down the broad-aisle and out at the door,
before a soul stirred. Then the men followed, and last of all the
women. In the crowd, there were frequent opportunities for whispered
words, all the sweeter for the stealing; and in the crowd, after he
had seen Henry Mowers jump into the wagon and drive off his three
sisters half a mile to their home, and after seeing Jenny Post ride
off on a pillion behind her old brother, as in the gone-by days when
wide roads and wagons were not, Swan sauntered carelessly towards
Dorcas, and said, in a tone too low for her parents to hear, but very

"I must see you to-morrow night."

"I can't," was the murmured reply.

"For the last time, Dorcas! come down to the old pear-tree to-morrow,
before sunset," he whispered, imploringly.

He was wise to turn suddenly away before her parents could hear him,
touching on secular subjects, and before she could herself get up any
new objection. Her objections, truly, were very faint and few, and,
being tossed about awhile, finally settled out of sight. Henry
would, she knew, come to his weekly wooing as soon as the setting sun
proclaimed the Sabbath-day over. After that time she was safe. She
could slip down the orchard to the pear-tree, and hear what was the
important word, and what Swan meant by "the last."

Eight or ten persons, who lived at a distance from "meeting," were in
the habit of partaking the hospitality of Colonel Fox, of a Sunday,
as the hour's intermission gave them no opportunity to return to
their distant homes. After the Puritan fashion, unlike enough to the
present, families were restricted on Sunday to two meals, and those
were provided with a Jewish regard to the fourth commandment. All
labor was scrupulously anticipated or postponed, but such hospitality
as consisted with the strict observance of the Sabbath was at the
service of their friends.

On coming in at the door of the square room, with its sanded floor,
its old desk, its spare bed in the corner, and its cherry table with
wavy outlines, which had belonged to Colonel Fox's mother, Dorcas
found the cloth already laid, and the bonnets and cardinals of half a
dozen old friends on the bed.

In five minutes, early apples, old cider, and a plate of raised
doughnuts, flanked by plates of mince- and apple-pie, rewarded the
patience and piety of the company. Colonel Fox, solemnly, and as if
he were quite accustomed to it, poured from a jug into large tumblers
that held at least a pint, dropped three large lumps of loaf-sugar,
filled the glass with water, grated some nutmeg on the top, and bade
his guests refresh themselves with toddy, unless they preferred flip:
if they did, they had only to say so: the poker was hot.

They all ate and drank, and by that time the bell rang again; and then
they all went again. And if they heard Father Boardman at all, it was
with utterly composed minds, when he told them it was their duty to be
contented, even should their condemnation be eternally decreed, since
it must, of course, be for the good of the whole, and for the glory of
God. Hopkinsianism was in fashion then, and the minds of men in many
parts of the country had accepted the logic of its founder, negatived
as it was, in its practical application, by the sweetness of his
Christian benevolence and his large humanity. Then the toddy helped
them to swallow many doctrines that in our cold-water days are sharply
and defiantly contested. The head is much clearer; whether hearts are
better is doubtful.

After supper, and while yet the sun lingered smilingly over the
Great Meadows and on the hills, behind which he sank, Dorcas, who had
meanwhile adorned herself with Aunt Dorcas's bequest, broke the long
silence, by whispering so low that her father's sleep should not be

"Mother, do you set much by this pin?"

"Of course I do, child! 'T was your Aunt Dorcas's," said Mrs. Fox,
"your father's own sister."

"Yes, I know it, mother; but how did she come by it?"

All these years, and this was the first time Dorcas had asked the
question! She colored a little, too, as if some secret thought or
story were busy about her heart, as she looked at the ring.

"Well,--it was a man she 'xpected to 'a' bed. They was to 'a' ben
merried, an' he was to 'a' gi'n up v'yagin'. But he was cast away, an'
she never heerd nothin' about neither him nor the ship. He was waitin'
to git means, an' he did, privateerin' an' so; but I 'xpect he was
drownded," concluded Mrs. Fox, in a suitably plaintive tone.

And that was Aunt Dorcas's story.


If anybody is curious to know why there should be mystery or secrecy
connected with Swan Day's meeting with Dorcas, or why they should meet
under a pear-tree, instead of her father's roof-tree, in a rational
way, it might be a sufficient answer, that there never was and never
will be anything direct and straightforward about Cupid or his doings.
But the real and more important reason was, that Colonel Fox did not
like Swan, and had said, in so many words, that "he wouldn't have
Swan Day a-hangin' round, no _how_!--that he was a poor kind of a
shote,--that he wished both him and his clutter well out o' town,--and
that he needn't think to make swans out of his geese, no _time_!"

In the first and last sentence, Colonel Fox indicated the ground of
his dislike to the handsome young store-keeper, and his dread that
Swan's eyes would somehow interfere with his own cherished plans of a
union between the Fox and Mower farms. Whatever Colonel Fox determined
on was done or to be done. He had anticipated the French proverb;
and the "impossibility" made not the slightest difference. Therefore
Dorcas had no notion of disobedience in her head, permanently. She
solaced herself by the occasional luxury of departure from set rules,
and she intended to depart in that way to-morrow,--for just five
minutes,--just to hear what that foolish fellow wanted of her; and
what could it be? and why was it the last time?--would he give her up?

Dorcas pondered the matter while the sun still crowned the heights,
and glanced at her sleeping father in silence. Why should Colonel Fox
dislike Swan so very much because he was a Britisher? All that was
done with, long ago, and why not be peaceable? Just then her father
drew the breath sharply between his teeth, as if in pain. It was the
old wound, that had never been healed since the Battle of Bennington.
He had lain on the ground,--Dorcas had often heard him tell the
tale,--and had striven to slake his deathly thirst with the blood that
he scooped up in the hollow of his hand from the ground about him. So
terrible was the carnage where he lay. "A d----d Britisher had shot
him,--another had driven his horse over him, and afterwards, while
he lay half-dead, had tried to rob him!" Would he ever forget it?
He would have continued, on the contrary, to fire and hack till the
present day, but for the wound in his knee, which had disabled him for
life, long before a peace was patched up with the mother-country. So
he had retired to Walton, and before Continental money had depreciated
more than half had bought acres by the thousand, and become
generalissimo of flocks and herds. Through the admiration of his
townsmen for his wounds, he rapidly and easily attained the rank
of Colonel, without the discomfort of fighting for it; and from his
excellent sense and the executive ability induced by military
habits, became, in turn, justice of the peace, deacon of the church,
town-clerk, and manager-general of Walton.

Nobody--that is to say, nobody in the family--spoke, when Colonel Fox
was in the house, unless first spoken to,--not even Dorcas. Such were
the domestic tactics of the last century, and Colonel Fox held fast to
old notions.

The social ones were far more liberal,--so very liberal, indeed, so
very free and easy, in the rural districts especially, that only a
knowledge of the primitive conditions under which such manners grew
up could possibly reconcile with them any impressions of purity and
discretion. In hearing of manners, therefore, it is always necessary
to remember that the children of country Puritans are and were wholly
different _in the grain_ from Paris or London society of the same
period,--as different, for example, as the Goddess of Reason from
our first mother, though at first glance one might think those two
similar. New-England parents had the utmost confidence in their
daughters, and almost no restraint was laid on social intercourse.
Their personal dignity and propriety wore presupposed, as matters of
course. Religion and virtue needed only to point, not to restrain.

The Colonel, on his part, took little heed of Dorcas's movements in
the way of balls and sleigh-rides. Content that her face showed health
and enjoyment, he never thought or cared what passed in her mind. If
only the hay-crop proved abundant, and the Davis lot yielded well,--if
neither wheat got the blight, nor sheep the rot,--if it were better to
buy Buckhorn for milk, or sell the Calico-Trotter,--these thoughts so
filled his soul that there was very little room to let in any nonsense
about Dorcas, only "to have Swan Day shet up before he begins," for,
as he often said, "he wouldn't give the snap of his thumb for as many
Swan Days as could stand between this and Jerusalem!"

She had met him twice before, and both times rather accidentally, as
she supposed, under the pear-tree,--both times, when she went to the
well for water. He had drawn the water, and had talked some with
his tongue, but more, far more, with his eyes of Oriental depth and
fascination. Dorcas thought and meant no harm in meeting Swan. Even if
her nature had been more wakened and conscious,--even if she had had
either the habit or the power of analyzing her own sensations,--even
if she had seen her soul from without, as she certainly did not
within,--she would have recoiled from the thought of deliberate

In the nature even of a coquette there is not necessarily either
cruelty or hardness. It cannot be a fine nature, and must be deficient
in the tact which appreciates the feelings of another, and
the sympathy that shrinks from injuring them. It may be called
selfishness, which is another term for thoughtlessness or want of
consideration or perception, but it is not deliberate selfishness.
This last is often found with fine perceptions and intuitive tact. It
is rather a natural obtuseness, a want of thought on the subject. Such
persons remember and connect their own sensations with the object,
thinking little or nothing of the feelings they may themselves excite
by the heedlessness of their manner.

If Dorcas had once thought of the value of the hearts she played with,
and as it were tossed from hand to hand,--if she had even weighed one
against another, she might have had some sorrow in grieving either.
But having no standard of delicacy and tenderness in her own nature
by which to judge theirs, Dorcas cannot be accused of intentional
injustice, which is generally understood by coquetry. On the contrary,
if she had been able to express her emotions,--

"How happy could I be with either!"

would have done so. Dorcas was very young in experience.

In those days of freedom there was no such word as "engaged"; least
of all, did the parties concerned violate all their own notions of
decorum by "announcing an engagement." The lists were free to all
to enter, and the bravest won the day. After weeks and months of
shy "company-keeping," it was "expected it would be a match" by the
keen-sighted or deeply interested. Sometimes the dissolution of an
engagement was mentioned as "a shame! after keeping company so many
years, and she had got all her quilts made and everything!" But best
of all was for the parties to be married outright, by a justice of
the peace, without a word of public warning, and then to enjoy
the pleasure of outwitting the neighbors, and coming down like a
thunderclap on a social sunshine unsuspicious of banns, which had been
published on some three literally public days, but when nobody
was hearing. That was something worth doing, and very much worth

The sun set. The Sabbath was done. The Colonel heaved a sigh of
relief. The Colonel's wife took her knitting-work; and the Colonel's
daughter looked up with a shy smile at Henry Mowers fastening his
horse by the corn-barn. It was time Sunday was over, indeed! Such a
long supper! but it must end sometime!--and then prayers, and then
Dorcas had amused herself with Bel and the Dragon and Tobit awhile.
All would not do, and the family had been obliged to resort to the
sweet restorer for the last ten minutes. Now they could think their
own thoughts in peace, and talk of what interested them,--cattle,
people, and the like. Poor Dorcas! what with Father Boardman's
preaching, and the Westminster Catechism, she associated religion with
all that was dull and inexplicable, though she did not doubt it was
good in case of dying. In the Nature and life that surrounded her
she had not seen God, but a refuge from Him. In the crimson floods
of sunshine, in the brilliant moonrise, or the pulsating stars of a
winter night, she found a sort of guilty relief from the dulness of
what she supposed was Revelation. But she never thought of questioning
or doubting any teachings, in the pulpit or out. A woman cannot, like
a man, fight a subject down. Her intellect shrinks from being tossed
and pierced on the pricks of doctrine. She is gentle and cowardly. She
sets the matter aside, and is contented to wait till she dies to
find out. But the men in Walton were all theologians, and sharp at
polemics. In the bar-room the spirit of liberty throve, which was
crushed in the pulpit. In that small New-England town, where, like
a great white sheep, Father Boardman now led his docile flock to the
fold, whoever looked long enough would see many new folds and many new
shepherds. Every shape of religious thinking will have its exponent,
and the widest liberty be claimed and enjoyed. Though he slept through
Father Boardman's sermons, it is doubtful if Henry Mowers did not in
his dreams lay the corner-stone of the new meeting-house on the hill.

Monday, and the hurly-burly of washing over. Dorcas had nearly
finished her "stent" on the little wheel. As she sat by the open door,
diligently trotting her foot, and softly pulling the last flax from
her distaff, her glance went hastily and often towards the setting
sun. She could see beyond the sloping orchard, no longer loaded
with fruit, the Great Meadows, extending along the banks of the
Connecticut. She could see on the eastern side great white mountains,
that went modestly by the name of hills, and that came in after-years
to draw pilgrims from the ends of the earth. They were white-capped
and solemn-looking, and girdled by majestic forests; while the Green
Mountains, that lay along the horizon, not so high as "the Hills,"
were crowned with verdure to the very top, and flaming with autumn
dyes. As far as the eye reached, beyond the immediate view rose an
immense solitude of forest that had lasted through centuries.

Dorcas's eyes rested and roamed alternately over these massive natural
features. She felt dimly in her heart the effect of the solemn aspect
of these great wastes,--these sublime possibilities, concealed and
waiting for the energy of man to discover them. A melancholy, sweet
and soft, composed partly of the effect of the view, and partly of the
languor of the Indian-summer weather, diffused itself over her. She
accused herself of various sins,--of levity, vanity, and not knowing
her own mind. Soon, however, feeling her unskilfulness to steer, she
abandoned the bark, and left it to drift. She must see Swan Day.

"And as to Henry!"--here Dorcas set back the little wheel,--"and as
to Henry!"--and here Dorcas threw her apron over her face,--"why, what
harm is there? I'm only going to see what he wants."

Under the apron rippled and rushed a thousand warm blushes, that
contradicted every word Dorcas said to herself. They made her remember
how, only the evening before, Henry had said words to her, which,
although she pretended not to understand him, had made her heart beat
proudly and tenderly; and how she had thought whoever was chosen to
be Henry's wife would be a happy woman! How many times had he said, as
they stood parting on the stoop, how sorry he was to go, and she,
like Juliet, had whispered, 't was "not yet day"! Yes, of course
Henry Mowers would be her husband, and she would tell Swan Day so,
if--if----But then, perhaps, there was no such nonsense in Swan's
head, after all.

Why could not the gypsy be satisfied with her almost angelic
happiness? But no. She shivered a little as the sun went down, and
exchanged her working-dress of petticoat and short-gown for something

Because Cely Temple was cutting apples and pumpkins, and stringing
them across the kitchen and pantry to dry, and because black Dinah
was making the "bean-porridge" for supper, it came to pass that the
daughter of the house was called on to lay the table. Dorcas bit her
lip, as she hastily did the duty, and postponed the pleasure.

The laboring-season is nearly over, the eight hired men reduced to
two, and the family-table is spread in the kitchen. How is the table
spread for supper in the house of Colonel Fox, one of the richest
farmers in Walton?

This is the way.

Dorcas brushes a scrap from the long table, scoured as white as snow,
but puts no linen on it. On the buttery-shelves, a set of pewter
rivals silver in brightness, but Dorcas does not touch them. She
places a brown rye-and-Indian loaf, of the size of a half-peck, in the
centre of the table,--a pan of milk, with the cream stirred in,--brown
earthen bowls, with bright pewter spoons by the dozen,--a delicious
cheese, whole, and the table is ready. When Dinah appears, with
her bright Madras turban, and says she is ready to dish the
"bean-porridge, nine days old," Dorcas tells her she is going
down beyond the cider-mill, to bring up the yarn, and, throwing a
handkerchief over her head, is out of sight before Dinah has finished
blowing the tin horn that summons to supper.

In five minutes, she was beyond the cider-mill, beyond the well, and
standing under the old pear-tree. Behind her, hiding her from the
house, is the corn-barn, stuffed and laden with the heavy harvest of
maize and wheat, and the cider-mill, where twenty bushels of apples
lie uncrushed on the ground, ready for the morrow's fate. A long row
of barrels already filled from the foaming vat stand ready to be taken
to the Colonel's own cellar, for the Colonel's own drinking, and as
far as one can see in one direction is the Colonel's own land. The
heiress of all would still be sought for herself.

Dorcas stood in the departing light, and leaned against the pear-tree.
Not yet come? A flush went up to her forehead, as, dropping her
handkerchief, she raised her hand to her eyes and glanced hastily
about her. Her chestnut curls were fastened with a blue ribbon on the
side of her head, and the floating ends fell on her shoulder.

This was the one departure from the severe simplicity of her dress,
for neither bright-hued calicoes nor muslins found their way to
Walton. Once in a long while, a print, at five times the present
prices, was introduced into the social circles of Walton by an
occasional peddler, or possibly by the adventurous spirit of Swan Day.
But these were rare instances.

Flannel of domestic manufacture, pressed till you could almost see
your face in it, stood instead of the French woollen fabric of modern
days. It left the jimp little waist as round and definite as the eye
could ask, while the full flow of the skirt exposed the neat foot,
deftly incased in stout Jefferson shoes. A plaited lawn, technically
termed a "modesty-piece," was folded over the bosom, and concealed
all but the upper part of the throat. Above that rose a face full of
delicacy and healthy sweetness. Eyes full of sparkles, and dimples
all about the cheeks, chin, and rather large mouth. Youth, and the
radiance of a happy, unconscious nature, of the capabilities or
possibilities of which she was as ignorant as the robin on the branch
above her, whose evening song had just closed, and who has just shut
his coquettish eyes.

A minute more, and Swan sprang over the stone wall, and with three
steps was standing by her. He stood still and looked at her, drawing
deep breaths of haste and agitation.

Dorcas spoke first.

"You wanted to see me. What is the matter?"

"Nothing,--but--you know I've got home."

"Why, yes, that is clear," answered Dorcas, mischievously, and
entirely easy herself, now that she saw Swan's cheeks aflame, and his
voice choking so he could not speak.

"We might as well go towards the house, if that is all," added she,
gathering in her hand some skeins of yarn that had been spread out to

Swan caught the yarn and threw it away with an impatient jerk. Then he
took both of Dorcas's hands in his, holding them with a fierce grasp
that made her almost scream.

"You know I can't go near the house."

"Yes, I know," said Dorcas, half frightened at his manner. "When did
you get back from Boston?"

"Saturday night. And I am going again to-morrow. And then--Dorcas--I
shall stay."


"Stay,--till you tell me to come back, maybe!"

"Why, where are you going, Swan?"

"To China, Dorcas."

"I want to know!" exclaimed she.

"Just it,--and no two ways about it. Sold out to Sawtell. Now you have
it, Dorcas!"

This curt and abrupt dialogue needed no more words. The rest was made
out fully by the bright color on each face, the sparkling interest
on the bent brow of Dorcas, and the deep, mellow voice, full of
tenderness and hope, mixed with stern decision, on the part of Swan

No wonder Dorcas's eyes had a glamour over them as she listened and
looked. What did she see? A slight, erect figure, with Napoleonic
features, animated with admiration and sensibility; emotion glorifying
the rich, deep eyes, and making them look in the twilight like stars;
and over all, the indefinable ease that comes from knowledge of the
world, however small that world may be.

Swan had little gift of language. The foregoing short dialogue is a
specimen of his ability in that way. But looks are a refinement on
speech, and say what words never can say.

"You see, Dorcas, I'm going out for the Perkinses with Orrin Tileston.
We each put in five hundred, and have our share of the profits."

"But to China! that's right under our feet! You'll never come back!"
murmured the girl.

"Do you ever want I should? Dorcas, if I come back rich, shall you be
glad? It will be all for you,--dear!" the last word low and timidly.

The mist went over her eyes again. A vision of Solomon in all his
glory swept across her. Even to Walton had spread rumors of the
immense fortunes acquired in the China and India trade, and the gold
of Cathay seemed to shimmer over the form before her, so strong, so
able to contend with, and compel, if need were, Fortune.

As to Swan, he looked over the river of Time that separated him from
love and happiness, and saw his idol and ideal standing on the
farther bank, dressed in purple and fine linen, with jewels of his own
adorning. Like Bunyan's "shining ones," she seemed to him far lifted
out of the range of ordinary thought and expression, into the regions
of inspired song. Now that he was really going to the East, the image
of Dorcas in his heart took on itself, with a graceful readiness, the
gold of Ophir, the pomps of Palmyra, and the shining glories of Zion.
He longed to "crown her with rose-buds, to fill her with costly wine
and ointments,"--to pour over her the measureless bounty of his love,
from the cornucopia of Fortune.

"Dorcas," said he,--and his words showed how inadequately thoughts can
be represented,--"Dorcas, I know your father thinks nothing at all
of me now; _but_, supposing I come back in two years, with--with--say
five thousand dollars!--then, Dorcas!"

The bright, soft eyes looked pleadingly at her.

Truly, in those days of simplicity and scant earnings, five thousand
dollars did seem likely to be an overwhelming temptation to the owner
of the Fox farm.

"But,--Swan!" said the blushing girl, releasing herself from his
grasp, and stepping back.

"Yes, Dorcas!--yes!--once!--only once!"

He came between her and the image of Henry Mowers; he was going
away; she might never see him again. A vague sentiment, composed of
pleasure, pity, admiration, and ambition, but having the semblance
only of timidity in her rosy face and downcast eyes, made her yield
her shrinking form, for one moment, to his trembling and passionate
caress, and the next, she ran as swiftly as a deer to the house.

Swan's eyes followed her. With his feet, he dared not. His bounding
heart half-choked him with pleasant pain. All be had not said,--all he
had meant to say to Dorcas, of his well-laid plans, his good-luck,
his hopes,--all he had meant to entreat of her constancy, for in the
infrequent communications between the two countries there was no hope
of a correspondence,--all he had meant to say to her of his fervent
love, of his anguish at separation, of the joy of reunion, and that
his love would leave him only with his life,--if he could only have
told her! But then he never would or could have put it all into
words, if Dorcas had stayed with him under the pear-tree till the next

He thought of the Colonel's pride, and how it would come down, at the
sight of Swan Day returning to Walton with five thousand dollars in
his coat-pocket, and mounted, perhaps, on an elephant! If he had held
a foremost social position in Walton, even while selling tape and
mop-sticks, molasses and rum, at the country-store, what might not be
the impression on the public mind at seeing the glittering plumage of
this "bird let loose from Eastern skies, when hastening fondly home"?
There was much balm for wounded pride to be gathered in this Oriental

Swan collected his energies and his clothes, finished his remaining
last words and duties, and took his seat with the mail-carrier, who
had the only public conveyance at that period from the town of Walton
to the town of Boston. His parents were dead; his immediate relatives
were scattered already in different States; and he left Walton with
his heart full of one image, that of Dorcas Fox.


"They du say Swan Day's gun off for good!" said Cely Temple, as she
returned from the store, with a Dutch-oven in her hand, which she had
purchased,--"an' to th' East Injees!"

"I want to know!" rejoined Mrs. Fox.

"I know some'll be sorry!" continued Cely, while Dorcas diligently
stirred a five-pail kettle of apple-sauce, that hung stewing over the
low fire.

Mrs. Fox looked up quickly at her daughter, but Dorcas continued
quietly stirring, and without turning round.

"Mahala Dorr, I guess," said she.

"Wall, M'hala'll be, an' so'll others," answered Cely, prudently.
"But I expect likely Swan'll do well, ef he don't die. They say the
atemuspere is pison there!--especially for dark-complected folks."

To this hopeful remark Mrs. Fox rejoined, that "old Miss Day come
herself from a warm country, and 't was likely her son would settle
there for good, and enjoy his health there better than what he would

"He'll look out well for Number One, anyhow!" said Cely, lifting the
lid of the Dutch-oven from the fire.

Dorcas shot an angry glance at the apple-sauce.

Nothing further passed on the subject, and Dorcas somehow felt, as she
stirred, as if Swan were already a long, long way off,--as if the ship
had sailed, and would stay sailed, like an enchanted ship, hovering
on the horizon, and never come near enough for the passengers to be
distinguished,--or else, maybe, go up into the clouds, and rest there
with all its masts and spars distinct against the rose-mist, as she
had read of once in a book of travels,--or, perhaps, even be inverted,
and stand there on its head, as it were, always: but everything must
be upside down, of course, in China. Already the thought of Swan Day
had mingled with the mists of the past. The outline became indefinite,
and softened into a golden splendor, that belonged no more to her, but
was essentially of another hemisphere. He had by this time cut loose
from home and country. Whether a hundred, or a hundred thousand miles,
it mattered not. Since she could not grasp the idea, the distance was
as good as infinite to her.

This, you see, is not exactly coquetry. But events drifted her.

When supper was over, and Dinah had gone to sleep, and Cely to visit
the neighbors, as usual, Dorcas shyly approached the subject which
occupied her thoughts, by getting the little box of jewelry, and
looking at it. Her mother called her from the kitchen, out of which
the bed-room opened.

"Does mother want me?" asked Dorcas, turning round, with the box in
her hand.

"No, no matter," answered the mother; and, possibly with an intuitive
feeling of what was in her daughter's thought, she went into the
bed-room, and looked with her at the pin and ring of Aunt Dorcas.

"Was it--was it a long time, mother,--I mean, before he came back?"
said Dorcas.

"Who? Captain Waterhouse? Bless you! they was as good as merried for
ten year, an' he was goin' all the time, an' then, jest at the last
minute, to be 'racked! It's 'most always so, when people goes to sea,"
added she, in a plaintive tone.

Dorcas meditated; she looked wistfully at her mother.

"It's a pretty pin,--dreadful pretty round the edge."

"Yes, 't is! I expect likely them's di'mon's. 'T was made over in
foreign parts. He was goin' to bring his picter, too, from there. But
he's lost and gone! Your Aunt Dorcas never had no more suitors after
that, and she kind o' gin in, and never had no sperits."

Dorcas's eyes filled, and she closed the box.

Henry Mowers would not come to the Fox farm till the next Sunday
night. That was as much settled as the new moon. So Dorcas had the
whole week to herself, to be thoroughly unhappy in,--all the more so,
a thousand times more so, for being utterly incapable of saying or
seeing why. An instinctive delicacy kept her from showing to any
of the family that she was even depressed; and her voice was heard
steadily warbling one of Wesley's hymns, or "Wolfe's Address to his
Army," in clear, brilliant tones, that rang up-stairs and down. The
general impression of distance and water associated her absent lover
with all that was heroic and romantic in song; for of novels she knew
nothing,--the Colonel's library being limited, in the imaginative
line, to a torn copy of the "Iliad," which had been left at the house
by a travelling cobbler.

However, romance is before all rules, and shapes its own adventures.
The beauty of Swan Day, which, dark and slight as it was, gleamed with
a power for Dorcas's eye and heart before which Buonarotti's
would have been only pale stone forever,--that beauty dwelt in her
imagination and memory, as only first romantic impressions can.
Distance canonized him, enthroned him, glorified him. And when she
thought of his setting forth so boldly, so bravely, to tread the
wide water, to tempt the hot sun, the foreign exposure, the perpetual
dangers of heathen countries, for her unworthy sake, all that was
tenderest, most grateful, in her now first wakened nature, rose up in
distressful tumult, and agitated the depths that are in all women's

If there had been anybody to whom she could confide the sad wrenching
of her spirit, any one who would have cleared her vision, and taught
her to look on "this picture and on this," she might not have been so
puzzled between her two Hyperions. But as it was, it was a sorrowful

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