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Atlantic Monthly, Volume 8, Issue 45, July, 1861 by Various

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Great-Ormond Street, which is occupied, and densely occupied, by
Frederic Denison Maurice's "Working-Men's College." The house looks, I
suppose, very much as it did in 1784, when Great-Ormond Street bordered
on the country,--when Lord Thurlow, the Chancellor of England, lived in
this house,--when some thieves jumped over his garden-wall, forced
two bars from the kitchen-window, entered a room adjoining the Lord
Chancellor's study, and stole the Great Seal of England, "inclosed in
two bags, one of leather and one of silk." London has grown so much
since, that anything that is stolen from the Working-Men's College
will not be stolen by thieves entering from the fields. I may say, in
passing, that this theft "threw London into consternation"; there being
an impression, that, for want of the Great Seal, all the functions of
the Executive Government must be suspended. The Privy-Council, however,
did not share this impression. They had a new seal made before night;
and though the Government of England has often moved very slowly since,
it has never confessedly stopped, as some Governments nearer home have
done, from that day to this day.

In view of what is done in Lord Thurlow's old house now, it is worth
while to linger a moment on what it was then and what he was. He was the
Keeper of George III.'s conscience, until he caballed against Mr. Pitt,
and was unceremoniously turned out by him. As Lord High-Chancellor, he
was guardian-in-chief of all the wards in Chancery; and I suppose, for
instance, without looking up the quotation in Boswell, that he was the
particular Lord Chancellor to whom Dr. Johnson said he should like to
intrust the making of all the matches in England. Louis Napoleon has
just now undertaken to make all the friction-matches in France,--but Dr.
Johnson's proposal referred to the matrimonial matches, the _denouemens_
of the comedies and tragedies of domestic life. To us Americans, Thurlow
is notable for the strong and uncompromising language which he used
against us all through our Revolution, which excessively delighted the
King. As to his faculty for keeping a conscience, it may be said, that,
though he never married, he resided in this Great-Ormond Street house
with his own mistress and his illegitimate children. Lord Campbell, who
mentions this fact, informs us, that, as early as his own youth, the
British Bench had reached such purity that judges were expected to marry
their mistresses when they were appointed to the Bench. He adds, that
it is long since any such condition as that was necessary. In Thurlow's
time this stage of decency had not been attained even by Lord
Chancellors. His humanity may be indicated by his stiff opposition to
every reform ever proposed in the English criminal law, or in the social
order of the time. He battled the bills for suppressing the slave-trade
with all his might. "I desire of you, my Lords, in your humane
frenzy, to show some humanity to the whites as well as to the
negroes",--illustrating this remark by a picture of the sufferings of an
English trader who had risked thirty thousand pounds on the slave-trade
that year. When an entering wedge was attempted for the improvement of
the bloody code of criminal law, Thurlow opposed it with passion. The
particular clause selected by the reformers was one which demanded that
women who had been connected with any treasonable movements should be
burnt alive. It was proposed to reduce their punishment to the same
scale as men's. Thurlow made it his duty to defend the ancient practice.
He was, in short, mixed up with every effort of his time, which we now
consider disgraceful, for arresting the gradual progress of reform.

Now that Thurlow's wine-cellar is a college-chapel, that young men study
arithmetic in the room the Great Seal was stolen from, that Mr. Ruskin
teaches water-color drawing in Thurlow's bed-chamber, that Tom Brown,
_alias_ Mr. Hughes, presides over a weekly tea-party in the three-pair
back, and drills the awkward squad of the working-men's battalion in the
garden, it seems worth while to show that at least some places in the
world have improved in eighty years, whether the world itself is to
be given up as a mistake or not. We will let Lord Thurlow go, as Lord
Campbell does, with this charitable wish:--"I have not learned," he
says, "any particulars of his end, but I will hope that it was a
good one. I trust, that, conscious of the approaching change, having
sincerely repented of his violence of temper, of the errors into which
he had been led by worldly ambition, and of the irregularities of his
private life, he had seen the worthlessness of the objects by which he
had been allured; that, having gained the frame of mind which his awful
situation required, he received the consolations of religion; and that,
in charity with mankind, he tenderly bade a long and last adieu to the
relations and friends who surrounded him." There is not an atom of fact
known on which to found Lord Campbell's hope. But I, also, will leave
Lord Thurlow with this charitable wish, and I will now ask the readers
of the "Atlantic," who may be enough interested in social reform and a
mutual education, to see what has happened between his wine-cellar and
ridge-pole since the "London Working-Men's College" was established

The founder of the Working-Men's College, as I have intimated, is the
Rev. Frederic Denison Maurice, the eminent practical theologian. Its
age is now six years,--as it was founded in the autumn of 1854. He says
himself, in a striking speech he made at Manchester not long since, that
the plan originated in that "awful year 1848, which I shall always look
upon as one of the great epochs in history." He says that "a knot of
men, of different professions, lawyers, doctors, parsons, artists,
chemists, and such like," thought they saw, in the convulsions of 1848,
a handwriting on the wall, sent them by God himself, testifying, "that,
if either rank or wealth or knowledge is not held as a trust for men, if
any one of these things is regarded as a possession of our own, it must
perish." In a real desire, then, to "make their own little education of
use to such persons as had less," and, in so doing, to establish a
vital and effective relation between themselves and the men of the
working-classes below them, they looked round for opportunities to work
in the education of _men_. Anybody who remembers "Amyas Leigh" will
remember how earnestly Charles Kingsley there presses the theory that
most of what we learn as children should be left to be learned by men,
as it was in the days of Queen Bess. I suppose that Maurice's "knot of
parsons and such like" shared that view. At all events, they lectured to
Mechanics' Institutes, and did other such wish-wash work, which is not
good for much, except for the motive it shows; and having found that
out, they were all the more willing to join in arrangements more
definite and profitable. According to Mr. Maurice, the formation of the
People's College in Sheffield started them on the plan of a college,
and determined them, as far as they could, to give consistency to
their dreams by carrying out the plan of an English college in their
arrangements for working-men.

At this point I must beg the accomplished company of readers to
recollect what an English college is. In its organization, and in much
of its consequent _esprit du corps_, it is as different from an American
college as an Odd-Fellows' lodge is from a country academy. The
difference is also of precisely the same sort. The man or the boy who
connects himself with an English college is, in theory, still the
student of a thousand years ago, who came on foot to Oxford or
Cambridge, because he had heard, in the wilds of Mercia or of Wessex,
that there were some books at those places,--and that some Alfred or
Ethelred or Eldred had given some privileges to students coming there.
When he has arrived, he joins one or other of the societies of students
whom he may find there, just as the Mercian Athelstan may have done.
From the moment that the established society has tested him,--and the
tests are very mild,--he is admitted as a member of a fraternity,
sharing the privileges of that fraternity, and, to a certain extent, its
duties. He is at first a junior member, it is true. Among his duties,
therefore, will be obedience to some of the senior members, and respect
to all. But none the less is he a neophyte member of a corporation which
extends back hundreds of years perhaps,--he is a co-proprietor of its
honors and privileges, is responsible for their preservation, and is,
from the first, inoculated with its _esprit du corps_.

Now in an American college there is _esprit du corps_ enough, and sense
of college dignity enough. But the student's _esprit du corps_ is one
thing, and the government's is another. The Commons Hall, for instance,
has died out of most of our colleges. Why? Why, because it had ceased to
be a _Commons_ Hall. It was not the place where the junior and senior
members of a college, the pupils and all their instructors, met
together. It was the place where the undergraduates were fed,--and where
a few wretched tutors were fed at their sides. But every member of the
governing body who could possibly escape did so. At our Cambridge,
they even went so far as to set apart a Commons Hall for each class of
undergraduates at last,--for fear men should see each other eat; as at
"Separate Prisons" the idea of communion in worship is carried out by
introducing each prisoner into a state-pew or royal-box whose partitions
are so high that he cannot see his neighbors. This was before they gave
the _coup-de-grace_ to the whole thing, and scattered the members of
their college just as widely as they could at meal-times, as at all
other times. The recitation, again, probably the only occasion when an
American student meets his instructor, is conducted according to an
arrangement by which the instructor meets all of a large section or
class together, meeting them for recitation simply. In a word, the
American college differs from any other American school chiefly in
having larger endowments and older pupils.

In the English college, on the other hand, before a freshman has
been there three months, he may have established his claim to some
"scholarship," which shall be his post and his "foundation" there
for years. From the very beginning, one or another honor or prize
is proposed to him,--which is the first stepping-stone on a line of
promotion of which the last may be his appointment to the highest
dignities in the University or in the Church. From the beginning,
therefore, he has his duties in the college assigned to him, if he have
earned any right to such honors. Thus, it may be his place to read the
Scripture Lesson at prayers, or to read the Latin grace at the end of
dinner,--the President and Vice-President of his college having done the
same at the beginning.

These arrangements are not to be confounded with the services rendered
by charity students. We have imitated some of these, which are so sadly
described in "Tom Brown at Oxford." But we have no arrangements which
correspond at all to those of the system which in England brings
graduates and undergraduates to a certain extent into a common life,
mutually interested in the honor and popularity of "Our College."

When Mr. Maurice and his friends spoke of "a college," they meant to
carry to the utmost these social and mutual views of college life. They
wanted to come into closer connection with the working-men of London,
and formed the Working-Men's College that they might do so.

They had, therefore, something in mind very different from sitting for
an hour in presence of a dozen students, hearing them recite a lesson,
saying then, "_Ite, missa est_," and departing all, every man to his
own way. They foresaw their difficulties, undoubtedly, and they have
undoubtedly met some which they did not foresee. But they meant to
establish, on paper, if nowhere else, a mutual society,--a society, it
is true, in which those who knew the most should teach those who knew
the least, but still a society where the learners and the teachers met
as members of the same fraternity,--equals so far as the laws of that
society went,--and with certain common interests arising from their
connection with it.

Not only does the necessity for such an undertaking appear in England
as it does not here, but the difficulty of it is, on a moderate
calculation, ten thousand times greater than it is here. Here, in the
first place, if the "working-man" as a boy has felt any particular fancy
for algebra or Greek or Latin, (and those fancies, in a fast country,
are apt to develop before the boy is eighteen,) he has e'en gone to a
high-school, and, if he wanted, to a "college," where, if he had not the
means himself, some State Scholarship or Education Society has floated
him through, and he has gained his fill of algebra, Latin, or Greek, or
is on the way to do so. Or, if he have not done this,--if the appetite
for these things, or for physical science, historical science, or
political science, has developed itself a little later in life, he has
hoarded up books for a few years, and has made himself meanwhile rather
more necessary to his master than he was before, so that, when he says,
some day, "I think we must arrange so that I can leave the shop earlier
in the afternoon," the master has bowed submiss, and the incipient
chemist, historian, or politician has worked his own sweet will. Or,
thirdly, if he wanted instruction from anybody in the category we first
named, who had tried the high-school and college plan, he had only to go
and ask for it.

Very likely the man is his brother; at all events, he is somebody's
brother: and there is no difference in their social _status_ which makes
any practical difficulty in their meeting together, man-fashion, to
teach and to learn. But in saying all this, we speak of things which
London understands no more than it does the system of society of the
Chinese Empire. To begin: the thriving Oxford-Street retailer will tell
you very frankly, perhaps, that he had rather his son should not learn
to read, if he could only sign his name without learning. Reason: that
the father has observed that his older son read so much more of bad than
good, that he is left to doubt the benefits conferred by letters. I do
not mean, that, practically, the London tradesman's son does not learn
to read; but I do mean that that process meets this sort of prejudice.
Grant, however, that he does learn to read, and has appetite for more;
grant that he gets well through with A B C, and what follows; grant that
he can read well enough to read the translations from French filth which
his father is afraid of; but grant that his father and his mother,
working with the blessing of his God, have kept him pure enough to steer
clear of that temptation; grant that he becomes one-and-twenty, eager
for algebra, for chemistry, for Latin, or for Greek. What are you going
to do about it then? Then comes in the necessity which Mr. Maurice
wanted to meet,--and there comes in, by the same steps, the exceeding
difficulty of his experiment.

It is the difficulty of caste. I do not know how many castes there are
in England; but I should think there were about thirty-seven. Any member
of either of these finds it as hard to associate with a member of any
other as a Sudra does to associate with a Brahmin, or a Brahmin with a
Sudra. It is not that people are unwilling to condescend to the castes
below them. At least, it is not that chiefly. It is, quite as much or
more, that, with a good, solid, English pride, they do not care to be
snobbish, and do not choose to put themselves upon people who are above
them. They "know their place," they say. And, for a race which has as
good reason as the English for pride in its ability to stand firm,
to "know one's place" is a great thing to boast of. People who have
travelled on the Continent have been amused to see how zealously Sir
John and Lady Jane and Miss Jeanette talked together at the _table
d'hote_ for a week, never by accident speaking to Mr. Williams, Mrs.
Williams, and Miss Williamina, who sat next them. This is not inability
to condescend, however. The Ws are as unwilling to speak to the Js. This
difficulty is the same difficulty which Mr. Litchfield describes in an
account of his "Five Years' Teaching at Working-Men's College." "When a
man first comes to our college," he says, "he is apt to walk into his
class-room in the solemn and discreet manner befitting an entry into a
public institution, and generally for a night or two will persist in
regarding his teacher as a severely official personage, whose dignity is
not to be lightly trifled with. Now nothing, I believe, can really be
done, till this notion is extinguished,--till teacher and students have
got to understand each other, and have agreed to banish the foolish
_mauvaise honte_ which makes every Englishman shy of talking to a
fellow-creature. The freer the colloquial intercourse between teacher
and students, the more is learned in the time. To establish this is not
easy; but harder still is the task of setting the students on a familiar
footing with each other. There seems to be _some impassable obstacle to
the fraternization of a dozen Londoners_, though sitting side by side,
week after week, doing the same work." The truth being, that the dozen
Londoners might belong to twelve different castes. And just as in "the
Rifle Movement" the clerks in the Queen's civil service could not serve
in the same battalion with architects' clerks on the one hand, or
students at law on the other,--you may have, in your algebra class,
a goldsmith who is afraid of being snobbish if he speaks to a
map-engraver, or a tailor who does not presume to address an opinion on
Archimedes' square to a piano-forte maker.

But the Brahmin and the Sudra may both be converted to Christianity. In
that case, though it seems very odd to both, the distinction of caste
goes to the wall. And the "knot of parsons and such like," spoken of
above, having, very fortunately for the world, been born into the
Christian Church, made it, as we have seen, their business to face the
difficulty because of the necessity,--and the Working-Men's College is
the result of their endeavor. Mr. Maurice himself took the first step.
Before the College itself was opened, he undertook a Bible-class. He
invited whoever would to come. He read a portion of the Scriptures,
explained its meaning as he could,--and invited all possible
questioning. He testifies, in the most public way, that he got more good
than he gave in the intercourse which followed. "I have learned more
myself than I have imparted. Again and again the wish has come into my
mind, when I have left those classes, 'Would to God that anything I have
said to them has been as useful to them as what they have said to me has
been to me!'"

If now the American reader will free his mind from any comparisons
with an American college, and take, instead, his notion of this
"Bible-class," we can give him some conception of what the Working-Men's
College is. For there is not a clergyman in America who has not
conducted such a class, for the benefit of any who would come. And
such classes are considered as mutual classes. Everybody may ask
questions,--everybody may bring in any contribution he can to the
conversation. Very clearly there is no reason why chemistry, algebra,
Latin, or Greek may not be taught from the same motive, in classes
gathered in much the same way, and with a like feeling of cooperation
among those concerned. This is what the Working-Men's College attempts.
The instructors volunteer their services. They go, for the love of
teaching, or to be of use, or to extend their acquaintance among their
fellow-men. The students go, in great measure, doubtless, to learn. But
they are encouraged to feel themselves members of a great cooeperation
society. So soon as possible, they are commissioned as teachers
themselves, and are put in a position to take preparatory classes in the
College. A majority of the finance-board consists of students. Let us
now see what is the programme which grows out of such a plan. I have not
at hand the schedule of exercises for the current year. I must therefore
give that which was in force in the autumn of 1859, when by paying
half-a-crown I became a member of the Working-Men's College. As I
make this boast, I must confess that I never took any certificate of
proficiency there, nor was I ever "sent up" for any, even the humblest,
degree. For the Working-Men's College may send up students to the
University of London for degrees.

Remember, then, that to accommodate London working-hours, all the
classes begin as late as seven o'clock in the evening. There are some
Women's Classes in the afternoon, but they are under a wholly different
management. From seven to ten every evening, Lord Thurlow's house is, so
to speak, in full blast. Mr. Ruskin is the earliest professor. He comes
at seven on Thursday, to teach drawing in landscape from seven till
half-past ten. Work begins on other evenings and in other classes at
half-past seven. Four other teachers of drawing are at work with their
pupils on different evenings of the week. Monday and Thursday are the
Latin days, Monday and Wednesday the Greek,--all taught by graduates of
the Universities. The mathematics are Arithmetic, Algebra, Geometry in
two classes, and Trigonometry. There was a class in Geology the winter I
knew the College,--there had been classes in Botany and Chemistry. There
were also classes in French, in German, in English Grammar, in Logic,
in Political Economy, and in Vocal Music, a class on the Structure and
Functions of the Human Body, and some general lectures or studies in
History. There were also "practice classes," where the students worked
with others more advanced than themselves on the subjects of the several
exercises,--there were preparatory classes, and an adult school to teach
men to read.

Now this is rather a rambling conspectus of a curriculum of study. But
it teaches, I suppose, first, what the right men would volunteer to
teach,--second, what the working-men wanted to learn. It is pretty
clear, that, if the plan succeeds, it will bring up a body of young men
who will know what is the advantage of a systematic line of study a good
deal better than any of them can be expected to know at the beginning.
Meanwhile here is certainly a very remarkable exhibition of instruction
to any man in London for a price merely nominal. After he has once paid
an entrance-fee,--half-a-crown, as I have said,--he may join any
class in the College whenever he wishes, on the payment of a very
insignificant additional fee. For the drawing-classes this fee is five
shillings. For the courses of one hour a week it is two shillings
sixpence, for those of two hours it is four shillings. The
drawing-classes are a trifle more costly, because the room for drawing
is kept open ready for practice-work every evening in the week. There
is also open for everybody every evening a Library, and the Principal's
Bible-class is open to all comers.

So much for the instruction side. Now to describe the social side, I
had best perhaps give the detail of one or two of my own visits at the
College. Walk into the front room on the lower floor of any house in
Colonnade Row in Boston, where the entry is on the right of the house,
and you see such a room as the present "Library" was when Lord Thurlow
lived there. Here is the office of the College. Here I found Mr.
Shorter, the Secretary, in a corner, at a little desk piled with
catalogues, circulars, "Working-Men's College Magazines," etc. There
was a coal fire in a grate, [_Mem._ Hot-air furnaces hardly known in
England,] a plain suite of book-shelves on one or more sides of the
room, and a suite of narrow tables for readers running across. There
were, perhaps, a dozen young men sitting there to read. This is
virtually a club-room for the College, and serves just the same
purpose that the reading-room of the Christian Union or the Christian
Association does with us, but that they take no newspapers. [_Mem. 2d_.
If you are in England, you say, "They _take in_ none." In America, the
newspapers take in the subscribers.]

I told Mr. Shorter that I wanted to learn about the practical working
of the College. He informed me very pleasantly of all that I inquired
about. It proved that they published a monthly magazine, "The
Working-Men's College Magazine," which was devoted to their interests.
The subscription is a trifle, and I took the volume for the year. It
proved, again, that I could become a member of the College by paying
half-a-crown; so I paid, was admitted to the privilege of the
reading-room, and sat down to read up, from the Magazine, as to the
working of the College. It appeared, that, after my initiation, I might
join any class, though it were not at the beginning of the term. So I
boldly proposed to Mr. Shorter that I would join Mr. Ruskin's class.
To tell the whole truth, I thought the experiment would be well worth
making, if I only gained by it a single personal interview with the
Oxford graduate, though I was doubtful about the quality of my impromptu

"Says Paddy, 'There's few play
This music,--can you play?'--
Says I, 'I don't know, for I never did try.'"

I could at least have said this to the distinguished critic, if I found
that his class was more advanced than I. But it proved that their
session was within quarter of an hour of its end,--and with some
lingering remains of native modesty, I waited for another occasion,--a
morrow which never came,--before putting myself under Mr. Ruskin's
volunteer tuition. But I tell the story to illustrate what might have
been. Had I been legitimately a working-man in London, whatever the
character of my work, I had a right to that privilege.

The Library proved to be one of those miscellaneous collections, such as
all new establishments have, so long as they rely on the books which
are given to them. I took down a volume of the "Reports of the Social
Association,"--an institution which they have in England now, for the
double purpose of giving an additional chance to philanthropists to
talk, and of saving the world from the Devil by drainage, statistics,
statutes, and machinery generally. But I looked over the edge of the
book a good deal to see who drifted in and out. As different classes
finished their work, one and another member came in,--and a few lingered
to read. The aspect of activity and resolute purpose was the striking
thing about the whole. The men were all young,--seemed at home, and
interested in what they were doing. Half-past nine, or thereabouts,
came, and a bell announced that all instruction was over, and that
evening prayers would close the work of the day. Down-stairs I went,
therefore, with those who stayed, into Lord Thurlow's wine-cellar,
which, as I said, is the chapel.

The arrangements for this religious service, if I understood the matter
rightly, are in the hands of Mr. Hughes, the well-known biographer
of Tom Brown at Rugby and at Oxford. In an amusing speech about his
connection with the College, Mr. Hughes gives an account of the way his
services as a law professor were gradually dispensed with, and says,
"Being a loose hand, they cast round to see what should be done with
me." Then, he says, they gave him the charge of the common room of the
College,--and that he considers it his business to promote, in whatever
way he can, the "common life," or the communion, we may say, of the
members who belong to different classes. In this view, for instance, in
the tea-room, where there is always tea for any one who wants it, he
presides at a social party weekly;--he had charge, when I was there, of
the drill class, and, I think, at other seasons, conducted the cricket
club, the gymnastics, or had an eye to them. In such a relation as that,
such a man would think of the union in worship as an essential feature
in his plans. And here I am tempted to say, that in a thousand things
in England which seem a hopeful improvement on English lethargy, one
catches sight of Dr. Arnold as being, behind all, the power that is
moving. Hodson, in the East-Indian army, seems so different from anybody
else, that you wonder where he came from, till it proves he was one
of Arnold's boys. Price's Candle-Works, in London, and Spottiswoode's
Printing-House have been before us here, in all our studies for the
Christian oversight of great workshops,--and it turns out that it was
Arnold who started the men who set these successes in order. The Bishop
of London would not thank me for intimating that he gained something
from being Arnold's successor; but I am sure Mr. Hughes would be
pleased to think that Arnold's spirit still lives and works in his

The chapel is but one of the recitation-rooms,--and, like all the
others, is fitted with the plainest unpainted tables and benches. Two
gentlemen read the lessons and a short form of prayer, prepared, I
think, by Mr. Maurice himself,--and so adapted to the place and the
occasion. Thirty or more of the students were present.

I dare not say that it was a piece of Working-Men's College
good-fellowship,--but, led either by that or by English hospitality, one
of the gentlemen who officiated, to whom I had introduced myself with
no privilege but that of a "fellow-commoner" at the College, not only
showed me every courtesy there, but afterwards offered me every service
which could facilitate my objects in London. This fact is worth
repeating, because it shows, at least, what is possible in such an

After an introduction so cordial, it may well be supposed that I often
looked in on the College of an evening. If I were in that part of the
town when evening came on, I made the Library my club-room, to write a
note or to waste an hour. I am sure, that, had it been in my power, I
should have dropped in often,--so pleasant was it to watch the modest
work of the place, and the energy of the crowded rooms,--and so new
to me the aspects of English life it gave. I felt quite sure that the
College was gaining ground, on the whole. I can easily understand that
some classes drag,--perhaps some studies, which the managers would be
most glad to see successful. But, on the whole, there seems spirit and
energy,--and of course success.

My travelling companion, Chiron, is fond of twitting me as to the
success of one of the "social meetings" to which I dragged him,
promising to show him something of working-men's life. We arrived too
early. But the Secretary told us that the garden was lighted up for
drill, and that the working-men's battalion was drilling there. It was
under the charge of Sergeant Reed, a medal soldier from the Crimea. At
that time England was in one of her periodical fits of expecting an
invasion. For some reason they will not call on every able-bodied man to
serve in a militia;--I thought because they were afraid to arm all their
people,--though no Englishman so explained it to me. They did, however,
call for volunteers from those classes of society which could afford
to buy uniforms and obtain "practice-grounds three hundred yards in
length." This included, I should say, about eleven of the thirty-seven
castes of English society. It intentionally left out those beneath,--as
it did all Ireland. Mr. Hughes, however, seized on it as an admirable
chance for his College,--its common feeling, its gymnastics,--and many
other "good things," looking down the future. In general, the drills
which were going on all over England were sad things to me. This idea
of staking guineas against _sous_, when the contest with Napoleon did
come,--staking an English judge, for instance, with his rifle, against
some wretched conscript whom Napoleon had been drilling thoroughly, with
his, seemed and seems to me wretched policy. But--if it were to be done
this way--of course the best thing possible was to work as widely as you
could in getting your recruits; and,--if England were too conservative
to say, "We are twenty-eight millions, one-fifth fighting men,"--too
conservative to put rifles or muskets into the hands of those five or
six million fighters,--the next best thing was to rank as many as you
could in your handful of upper-class riflemen. However, I offered my
advice liberally to all comers, and explained that at home I was a
soldier when the Government wanted me,--was registered somewhere,--and
could be marched to San Juan, about which General Harney was vaporing
just then, whenever the authorities chose. So it was that I and Chiron
stood superior to see Sergeant Reed drill thirty-nine working-men. Mr.
Hughes was on the terrace, teaching an awkward squad their facings.

Sergeant Reed paraded his men,--and wanted one or two more. He came and
asked Mr. Hughes for them,--and he in turn told us very civilly, that,
if "we knew our facings," we might fall in. Alas for the theory of the
_Landsturm!_ Alas for the fame of the Massachusetts militia! Here are
two of the "one hundred and fifty-two thousand eight hundred and fifty
non-commissioned officers, musicians, artificers, and privates" whom
Massachusetts that year registered at Washington,--two soldiers for
whom somebody, somewhere, has two cartridge-boxes, two muskets, two
shoulder-straps, and the rest;--here is an opportunity for them to show
the gentlemen of a foreign service how much better we know our facings
than they theirs,--and, alas, the representative two do not know their
facings at all! We declined the invitation as courteously as it was
offered. Perhaps we thus escaped a prosecution under the Act of 1819,
when we came home,--for having entered the service of a foreign power.
Certainly we avoided the guilt of felony, in England; for it is felony
for an alien to take any station of trust or honor under the Queen,--and
when Mr. Bates and Louis Napoleon were sworn in as special constables on
the Chartists' day, they might both have been tried for felony on the
information of Fergus O'Connor, and sent to some Old Bailey or other.
None the less did we regret our ignorance of the facings, and, after a
few minutes, sadly leave the field of glory.

My last visit to the Working-Men's College was to attend one of Mr.
Maurice's Sunday-evening classes, and this was the only occasion when I
ever appeared as a student. It was held at nine in the evening,--out of
the way, therefore, of any Church-service. There gathered nearly twenty
young men, who seemed in most instances to be personally strangers to
each other. Mr. Maurice is so far an historical person that I have a
right, I believe, to describe his appearance. He must be about fifty
years old now. He looks as if he had done more than fifty years' worth
of work,--and yet does not look older than that, on the whole. His hair
is growing white; his face shows traces of experience of more sorts
than one, but is very gentle and winning in its expression, both in his
welcome, and in the vivid conversation which is called his lecture. He
sat at a large table, and we gathered around it with our Testaments and
note-books. The subject was the fourth chapter of the Epistle to the
Hebrews,--the conversation turning mostly, of course, on the "rest"
which the people of God enter into. This is not the place for a
report of the exposition, at once completely devout and completely
transcendental, by which this distinguished theologian lighted up this
passage for that cluster of young men. But I may say something of the
manner of one so well known and so widely honored among a "present
posterity" in America, for his works. He read the chapter through,--with
a running commentary at first,--blocking out, as it were, his ground
notion of it. This was the first _ebauche_ of his criticism; but you
felt after its details without quite finding them. In a word, the
impression was precisely the uneasy impression you feel after the first
reading of one of his sermons or lectures,--that there is a very grand
general conception, but that you do not see how it is going to "fay in"
in its respective parts. One of the students intimated some such doubt
regarding some of the opening verses,--and there at once appeared enough
to show how frank was the relation, in that class at least, between the
teacher and the pupils. Then began the real work and the real joy of the
evening. Then on the background he had washed in before he began to put
in his middle-distance, and at last his foreground, and, last of all,
to light up the whole by a set of flashes, which he had reserved,
unconsciously, to the close. He dropped his forehead on his hand, worked
it nervously with his fingers, as if he were resolved that what was
within should serve him, went over the whole chapter in much more detail
a second time, held us all charged with his electricity, so that we
threw in this, that, or another question or difficulty,--till he fell
back yet a third time, and again went through it, weaving the whole
together, and making part illustrate part under the light of the comment
and illumination which it had received before,--and so, when we read
it with him for the fourth and last time, it was no longer a string
of beads,--a set of separate verses,--Jewish, antiquated, and
fragmentary,--but one vivid illustration of the "peace which passeth all
understanding" into which the Christian man may enter.

With this fortunate illustration and exposition of the worth and work of
the Working-Men's College my connection with it closed. It seems to me a
beautiful monument of the love and energy of its founder. Perhaps we are
all best known through our friends, or, as the proverb says, "by the
company we keep." Let the reader know Mr. Maurice, then, by remembering
that he is the godfather of Tennyson's son,--

"Come, when no graver cares annoy,
Godfather, come and see your boy,"--

that Charles Kingsley has a Frederic Maurice among his children,--and
that Thomas Hughes has a Maurice also. The last was lost, untimely, from
this world, in bathing in the Thames. The magnetism of such a man has
united the group of workers who have formed the Working-Men's College.
We need not wonder that with such a spirit it succeeds.


Two great nations are peculiarly entitled to be considered modern
in their general character, though each is living under ancient
institutions. They are the _United States_ and _Russia_. Neither of
these nations is a century old, regarded as a power that largely affects
affairs by its action, and into the composition of each there enters a
great variety of elements. The United States may be said to date from
1761, just one hundred years ago, when the American debate began on the
question of granting Writs of Assistance to the revenue-officers of the
crown. The struggle between England and America was then commenced in
the chief court of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay, and the Declaration
of Independence was but the logical conclusion of the argument of James
Otis; but that conclusion would not have established anything, had it
not been confirmed by the inexorable logic of cannon. The last resort of
kings was then on the side of the people, and gave them the victory.
The fifteen years that passed between the time when James Otis spoke
in Boston and the time when John Adams spoke in Philadelphia belong
properly to our national history, and should be so regarded. The
grandson and biographer of John Adams says that Mr. Adams "was attending
the court as a member of the bar, and heard, with enthusiastic
admiration, the argument of Otis, the effect of which was to place him
at the head of that race of orators, statesmen, and patriots, by whose
exertions the Revolution of American Independence was achieved. This
cause was unquestionably the incipient struggle for that independence.
It was to Mr. Adams like the oath of Hamilcar administered to Hannibal.
It is doubtful whether Otis himself, or any person of his auditory,
perceived or imagined the consequences which were to flow from the
principles developed in that argument. For although, in substance,
it was nothing more than the question upon the legality of general
warrants,--a question by which, when afterward raised in England, in
Wilkes's case, Lord Camden himself was taken by surprise, and gave at
first an incorrect decision,--yet, in the hands of James Otis, this
question involved the whole system of the relations of authority and
subjection between the British government and their colonies in America.
It involved the principles of the British Constitution, and the whole
theory of the social compact and the natural rights of mankind."

In the summer of 1762, about seventeen months after Otis had made his
argument, the existence of modern Russia began. Catharine II. then
commenced her wonderful reign, having dethroned and murdered her
husband, Peter III., the last of the sovereigns of Russia who could make
any pretensions to possession of the blood of the Romanoffs. A minor
German princess, who originally had no more prospect of becoming
Empress-Regnant of Russia than she had of becoming Queen-Regnant of
France, Sophia-Augusta of Anhalt-Zerbst was elevated to the throne of
the Czars on the 9th of July, 1762; and a week later her miserable
husband learned how true was the Italian dogma, that the distance
between the prisons of princes and their graves is but short. Catharine
II. founded a new dynasty in Russia, and gave to that country the
peculiar character which it has ever since borne, and which has enabled
it on more than one occasion to decide the fate of Europe, and therefore
of the world. Important as were the labors of Peter the Great, it does
not appear to admit of a doubt that their force was wellnigh spent when
Peter III. ascended the throne; and his conduct indicated the triumph of
the old Russian party and policy, as the necessary consequence of his
violent feeling in behalf of German influences, ideas, and practices.
The Czarina, like those Romans who became more German than the Germans
themselves, affected to be fanatically Russian in her sentiments and
purposes, and so acquired the power to Europeanize the policy of her
empire. She it was who definitely placed the face of Russia to the West,
and prepared the way for the entrance of Russian armies into Italy and
France, and for the partition of Poland, the ultimate effect of which
promises to be the reunion of that country under the sceptre of the
Czar. It was the seizure of so much of Poland by Russia that fixed the
latter's international character; and it was Catharine II. who destroyed
Poland, and added so much of its territory to the dominions of the
Czars. After the first partition had been effected, it was no longer
in Russia's power to refrain from taking a leading part in European
politics; and when her grandson, in 1814, was on the point of making
war on England, France, and Austria, rather than abandon the new Polish
spoil which he had torn from Napoleon I., he was but carrying out the
great policy of the Great Catharine. If we look into the political
literature of the last century, we shall find that Peter I.'s action
had very little effect in the way of increasing the influence of Russia
abroad. His eccentric conduct caused him to be looked upon as a sort of
royal wild man of the woods, rather than as a great reformer whose aim
it was to elevate his country to an equality with kingdoms that had
become old while Russia was ruled by barbarians of the remote East. He
was "a self-made man" on a throne, and displayed all the oddities and
want of breeding that usually mark the demeanor of persons whose youth
has not had the advantages that proceed from good examples and regular
instruction. Of the courtly graces, and of those accomplishments
which are most valued in courts, he had as many as belong to an
ill-conditioned baboon. A railway-car on a cattle-train does not require
more cleaning, at the end of a long journey, than did a room in a palace
after it had been occupied by Peter and his clever spouse. Some of his
best-authenticated acts could not be paralleled outside of a piggery.
The Prussian court, one hundred and sixty years since, was not a very
nice place, and its members were by no means remarkable for refinement;
but they were shocked by the proceedings of the Czar and the Czarina,
some of which greatly resembled those which are not uncommon in a very
wild "wilderness of monkeys." The last of Peter's descendants who
reigned _and ruled_ was his daughter Elizabeth, who died in 1761, and
who was a most admirable representative of her admirable parents.
Neither the manners nor the morals of the Russian court and the Russian
empire had improved during the twenty years that she governed; and as to
policy in government, she had none, and apparently she was incapable of
comprehending a political principle. Had her reign been followed by that
of some Russian prince of kindred character as well as of kindred blood,
and had that reign extended to twenty years' time, Russia would have
fallen back to the position she had held in 1680, and never could have
become a European power. Fortunately or unfortunately,--who shall as yet
undertake to decide which, considering as well European interests as
Russian interests?--the reign of Peter III. was too short to be worth
historical counting, and Elizabeth's real successor was a foreigner,
who not only was capable of comprehending Peter the Great's ideas and
purpose, but who had the advantage of understanding that world the
civilization and vices of which Peter had sought to engraft on the
Russian stock. The grand barbarian himself never could understand more
than one-half of the work to which he devoted his life, as there was
nothing in his nature to which Occidental thought could firmly fasten
itself. He knew little of that the effects of which he so much admired.
His mind was essentially Oriental in its cast, and the creation of his
Northern capital was a piece of work that might have been done by some
Eastern despot; and in the preceding century something like it had
been done by Shah Jehan, when he created the new city of Delhi. In no
European country could such an undertaking have been attempted. It
pleased Catharine II., in after-days, to say of Peter, that "he
introduced European manners and European costumes amongst a European
people"; but this was only a piece of flattery to her subjects, whom
she did so much to Europeanize by making them believe that they were of
Europe, and were destined to rule that continent. She it was who did
what Peter planned, and by making use of Russians as her agents. Her
statesmen, her generals, and her "favorites" were Russians; and it was
after her character and purposes became known that the rulers of Western
Europe were forced to the conclusion that a change of policy was
inevitable. But for the occurrence of the French Revolution, that
Anglo-French Alliance which has been regarded as one of the prodigies of
our prodigy-creating age would have been anticipated by more than sixty
years. By destroying Poland and humiliating Turkey, Catharine forever
settled the character of the Russian Empire; and her successors were
enabled to solidify her work in consequence of the course which events
took after the overthrow of the old French monarchy. Russian support
was highly bidden for by both those parties in Europe which were headed
respectively by France and by England; and it is difficult to decide
from which Russia most profited in those days, the friendship of England
or the enmity of France. One thing was sufficiently clear,--and that
was, that, when the war had been decided in favor of the reactionists,
Russia was the greatest power in the world. In the autumn of 1815, a
Russian army one hundred and sixty thousand strong was reviewed near
Paris, a spectacle that must have caused the sovereigns and statesmen of
the West to have some doubts as to the wisdom of their course in paying
so very high a price for the overthrow of Napoleon. It was certain that
the genie had broken from his confinement, and that, while he towered to
the skies, his shadow lay upon the world. The hegemony which Russia held
for almost forty years after that date justified the fears which then
were expressed by reflecting men. It only remained to be seen whether
the Russian sovereigns, proceeding in the spirit that had moved Peter
and Catharine, would take those measures by which alone a _Russian
People_ could be formed; and to that end, the abolition of serfdom was
absolutely necessary: the masses of their subjects, the very population
from which their victorious armies were conscribed, being in a certain
sense slaves, a state of things that had no parallel in the condition of
any European country.[A]

[Footnote A: At what precise time Russia's policy began to influence
the action of the European powers it would not be easy to say.
Unquestionably, Peter I.'s conduct was not without its effect, and his
triumph over Charles XII. makes itself felt even to this day, and it
ever will be felt. "Pultowa's day" was one of the grand field-days of
history. Sweden had obtained a high place in Europe, in consequence of
the grand part she played in the Thirty Years' War, to which contest she
contributed the greatest generals, the ablest statesmen, and the best
soldiers; and the successes of Charles XII. in the first half of his
reign promised to increase the power of that country, which had become
great under the rule and direction of Gustavus Adolphus and Oxenstierna.
This fair promise was lost with the Battle of Pultowa; and a country
that might have successfully resisted Russia, and which, had its
greatness continued, could have protected Poland,--if, indeed,
Poland could have been threatened, had Russia been unsuccessful at
Pultowa,--was thrown into the list of third-rate nations. Poland was
virtually given up to Russia through the defeat of Charles XII., just
as, a century later, she failed of revival through the defeat of
Napoleon I. in his Russian expedition. But the effect of Sweden's defeat
was not fully seen until many years after its occurrence. Prussia became
alarmed at the progress of Russia at an early day. The War of the Polish
Succession was decided by Russian intervention, in 1733. In 1741 Maria
Theresa relied on Russia, and in 1746 Russia and the Empress of Germany
formed a defensive alliance. The _Cotillon_ Coalition of the Seven
Years' War, formed for the destruction of Frederic II., and the parties
to which were the Czarina Elizabeth, Maria Theresa, and Madame de
Pompadour,--a drunkard, a prude, and a harlot,--brought Russia famously
forward in Europe. In the Eighty-Seventh Letter of Goldsmith's _Citizen
of the World_, published a century ago, are some very just and
discriminating remarks on "the folly of the Western parts of Europe in
employing the Russians to fight their battles," which show that their
author was far in advance of his time, and that he foresaw the growth
of Russia in importance before she had seized upon Poland. In Catharine
II.'s time, the Russian Empire was the object of much adulation from
Western envoys, and the English sought to obtain the assistance of
the barbarians in the American War, but with not such success as they
desired, though they managed to keep our envoy from the court, and to
make Russia unfriendly to us. Our diplomatic relations with Russia did
not begin until a generation after the Declaration of Independence.]

Thus the United States and Russia began their careers at the same time,
as nations destined to have influence in the ordering of Western life.
They were then, as they are now, very unlike to each other. In one
respect only was there any resemblance between them: In this country
there were some myriads of slaves, and in Russia there were many
millions of serfs. Now who, of all the sagacious, far-sighted men then
living, could have ventured to predict that at the end of one hundred
years the American nation that was so soon to be should be engaged in a
civil contest having for its object, on the part of those who began
it, the perpetuation and extension of slavery, while Russia should be
threatened with such a contest because her government, an autocracy,
had abolished serfdom? Many years earlier, Berkeley had predicted that
Time's last and noblest offspring would be the nation that was growing
up in North America; and when he died, in 1753, he would not have
admitted that slavery was an institution which his favorite land could
hug to its bosom, or that America would be less benevolent than that
semi-barbarous empire which was rising in the East,--an empire, to use
his own thought, which Europe was breeding in her decay. Franklin was
then at the height of his fame as a philosopher, and his merits as a
statesman were beginning to be acknowledged; but, wise as he was, he
would have smiled, had there been a prophet capable of telling him the
exact truth as to the future of America. Probably there was not a person
then on earth who could have supposed that that would be which was
written in the Book of Fate. That freedom should come to a people from
a despot's throne was almost as hard to understand as that the rankest
kind of despotism should rise up from among a people the most boastful
of their liberty that ever existed. There are, unhappily, but too many
instances of free nations that have behaved oppressively. The first
African slaves that were brought into the territory of the American
nation came under the flag of a people who had most heroically struggled
for their rights, and the recollection of whose efforts has been revived
by the brilliant labors of the most accomplished of living American
historians. The Greeks, who had so much to say about their own liberty,
believed that they had the right to enslave all other men; and the
Romans, who sometimes talked as if they had a Fourth of July of their
own, assumed that it was in the power of society to enslave any race
whose services its members required. The slaves of free peoples have
generally fared worse than the slaves of men themselves despotically
governed. Thus there is nothing so very strange in the conduct of those
Americans who, concerned for their "right" to trade in black humanity,
and to live on the sweat of black humanity's brows. That which is
strange in the condition of the world is the contrast which is furnished
to the action of our Southern population by the action of the rulers of
Russia. Since American democrats have endeavored to show that no such
contrast exists,--that between the enslavement of black men and the
granting of freedom to white men there is a close resemblance,--and that
the two proceedings are one in fact, how much soever they may differ in
name; that it is not because he is an enemy of slavery, as it is here
understood, that the Czar has become an emancipationist, but because he
is hostile to the slavery of white men,--that, were the Russian serfs as
dark as American slaves, his heart would have remained as hard toward
them as that of Pharaoh toward the Israelites when the plague-pressure
was temporarily removed from his people,--that he would as soon have
thought of washing the Ethiopian white with his own imperial hands as of
conferring freedom upon this race. Such is the theory of those of our
democrats who would still maintain their regard for the Czar and their
worship of Czarism. Alexander has not, they aver, been so bad as the
Abolitionists have drawn him. Like another illustrious personage, he
is not half so black as he is painted. Nay, he is not black at all. He
worships the white theory, and might run for the Montgomery Congress in
South Carolina without any danger of being numbered among the victims
of Lynch-law. Other democrats are not so well disposed toward the Czar,
their feelings respecting him having changed as completely as did those
of certain earlier democrats in regard to Mr. O'Connell, when the great
Irishman denounced slavery in America. It is a sore subject with our
pro-slavery people, this faithlessness of Russia to the cause of human
oppression. How they sympathized with her in the war with the Western
powers, and prophesied the defeat of the Allies in the Crimea, is well
remembered; but when the new Czar announced his purpose to abolish
serfdom, they, as Lord Castlereagh would have said, "turned their backs
upon themselves," and could see no good in the great Northern Empire.
Russia as the great revolution-queller, reading the Riot Act to the
liberals of Europe, and sending one hundred and fifty thousand men to
"crush out" the nationality of Hungary, and to revivify the power of
Austria, was to them an object of reverence; but Russia the liberator of
serfs, and the backer of France in the Italian War, became an object of
hate and fear. Nicholas might have patronized our Secessionists, for he
was partial to rebels who supported his opinions; but his son can
have no sympathy with men whose every act is a condemnation of those
principles which govern his conduct as a Russian ruler,--though in his
bearing toward Poland and others of the conquered portions of his empire
he may prove himself no more lenient than Mr. Jefferson Davis would
toward a Northern State that had declared itself independent of Southern
supremacy, could he "subdue" it.

It would, however, be most unjust so to speak of Russian serfdom as to
convey the impression that it ever was quite so bad as American slavery
is. It is the peculiarity of American slavery, that it has no redeeming
features. Long before it had become so odious as we see it, and before
its existence was found incompatible with the peaceful prevalence of
a constitutional system of government, its character was emphatically
summed up in a few words by a great man, who called it "the sum of
all villanies." Time has not improved its character, but has made the
institution worse, by extending the effect of its operations. The
political character which American slavery has had ever since the
formation of the Constitution has not only stood in the way of every
emancipation project, but it has made slaveholders, and men who have
sought political preferment through working on the prejudices of
slaveholders, supporters of the institution on grounds that have had no
existence in other countries; and the contest in which this country is
now involved is the natural effect of the more rapid growth of the Free
States in everything that leads to political power in modern times. Had
the Slave States in 1860 been found relatively as strong as they were in
1840, the Secession movement could not have occurred; for most of the
men who lead in it would have preferred to rule the United States, and
would have cared little for the defeat of any political party, confident
as they would have been in their capacity to control all American
parties. As slavery is the foundation of political power in this
country, its friends cannot abandon their ideas without abdicating their
position. Hence the fierceness with which they have put forth, and
advocated with all their strength, opinions that never were held by any
other class of man-owners, and which would have been scouted in Barbary
even in those days when religious animosity added additional venom to
the feelings of the Mussulmans toward their Christian captives, and when
Spain and Italy were Africa's Africa. The slave population of the United
Slates are forbidden to hope. They form a doomed race, the physical
peculiarities of which are forever to keep them out of the list of
the elect. They are slaves, they and their ancestors always have been
slaves, and they and their descendants always must be slaves. Such is
the Southern theory, and the practice under it does that theory no
violence. In Russia the condition of the enslaved has never been so
bad as this, nor anything like it. Between the slave and the serf the
difference has been almost as great as that between the serf and the
free citizen.

Nothing certain is known as to the origin of Russian serfage. Able men
have found the institution existing in very early times; and other men,
of not less ability, and well acquainted with Russian history, are
confident that it is a modern institution. Count Gurowski, whose
authority on such a point he ought to be a very bold man to question,
says,--"In Russia, slavery dates, with the utmost probability, since the
introduction of the Northmen, originating with prisoners of war, and
being established over conquered tribes of no Slavic descent. This was
done when Rurik and his successors descended the Dwina, the Dnieper, and
established there new dominions. In the course of time, the conquerors
cleared the forests, established villages and cities. As, in other
feudal countries, the tower, the _Schloss_, was outside of the village
or of the borough,--so was In Russia the _dwor_ or manor, where the
conqueror or master dwelt,--and from which was derived his name of
_dworianin_. That the genuine Russian of that time, whatever may have
been his social position, was free in his village, is beyond doubt,--as,
according to old records, the boroughs and villages, dependencies of the
manor, were settled principally with prisoners of war and the conquered
population. It was during the centuries of the Tartar dominion that the
people, the peasantry, became nailed to the soil, and deprived of
the right of freely changing their domicile. Then successively every
peasant, that is, every agriculturist tilling the soil with his own
hands, became enslaved. Only in estates owned by monasteries and
convents, which were very numerous and generally very rich, slavery
being judged to be opposed to Christian doctrine, it did not take
root at once. Generally, monks were reluctant to the utmost, and even
directly opposed to the sale of men in the markets, and the dependants
of a monastery were never sold in such a manner." The common view is,
that Borys Gudenoff, who reigned at the beginning of the seventeenth
century, established serfage age in Russia; but though the exact
character of his legislation is yet in dispute, it is obvious that no
Czar, and least of all one situated as was Borys, could have enslaved a
people. His legislation is involved in as much doubt as for a long time
were the Sempronian Laws of Rome. If we could believe that he instituted
the system of serfage, or seriously strengthened it, we should find that
Russian slavery came into existence but a few years before American
slavery; but such a "coincidence" cannot be rigidly insisted upon. It
would, however, we think, be difficult to show that the condition of
the Russian laboring classes was not made worse by the action of the

Peter the Great was so affected by the circumstance that men and women
and children could be sold like cattle, as American slaves now are, that
he sought to put a stop to the infamous traffic, but without success.
Catharine II. was a philosopher, and a patron of that eighteenth-century
philosophy which so largely favored human rights, and she regretted
the existence of serfage; but, in spite of this regret, and of some
sentimental efforts toward emancipation, she strengthened the system of
slavery under which so great a majority of her subjects lived. She gave
peasants to her "favorites," and to others whom she wished to reward
or to bribe. The brothers Orloff are said to have received forty-five
thousand peasants from her, being in part payment for what was done by
their family in setting up the new Russian dynasty founded by the German
princess. Potemkin received myriads of peasants. Some outrageous abuses
were practised by wealthy landholders, in consequence of the Czarina
having proclaimed that the laborers in Little Russia should belong to
the soil on which they were at that date employed. Thousands of persons
were entrapped into serfdom through a measure which the sovereign had
intended should lessen the evils of that institution. Catharine's
authority was never but once seriously disputed at home, and that was
by the rebellion of Pugatscheff, which is sometimes spoken of as an
outbreak against serfdom, which it was not in any proper sense, though
the abuses of the owners of serfs may have contributed to swell the
ranks of the pretender,--Pugatscheff calling himself Peter III. The Czar
Paul would not allow serfs to be sold apart from the soil to which they
belonged. It is a curious incident, that, when Paul restored Kosciusko
to liberty, he offered to give him a number of Russian peasants. The
Polish patriot had no hesitation in refusing to accept the Emperor's
offer, for which, in these times, there are Americans who think he was a
fool; but in 1797 certain lights had not been vouchsafed to the American
mind, that have since led some of our countrymen to become champions of
the cause of darkness.

Alexander, whose reign began in 1801, was moved by a sincere desire to
get rid of serfdom. Schnitzler says that he "solemnly declared that he
would not endure the habit of making grants of peasants, a practice
hitherto common with the autocrats, and forbade the announcement in
public papers of the sales of human beings,"--and that "he permitted his
nobles to sell to their serfs, together with their personal liberty,
portions of land, which should thus become the _bona fide_ property of
the serf purchaser. This was a most important act; for Alexander thus
laid the basis of a class of free cultivators." A public man having
requested an estate with its serfs as hereditary possessions, the Czar
replied as follows:--"The peasants of Russia are for the most part
_slaves_. I need not expatiate upon the degradation or the misfortune
of such a condition. Accordingly, I have made a vow not to augment the
number; and to this end I have laid down the principle, that I will not
give away peasants as property." The Czar was determined to go farther
than this. Not only would he not increase the number of the serfs, but
he would lessen their number. The serfs of Esthonia were first favored,
their emancipation beginning in 1802, and being completed in 1816, the
year in which Alexander may be regarded as having been at the height of
his greatness, for he had completed the overthrow of Napoleon, and had
seen France saved from partition through his influence and exertions.
The Courland serfs were emancipated in 1817. Two years later, the nobles
of Livonia formed a plan of emancipation in their country, and when they
submitted it to the Czar, his answer was,--"I am delighted to see that
the nobility of Livonia have fulfilled my expectations. You have set an
example that ought to be imitated. You have acted in the spirit of our
age, and have felt that liberal principles alone can form the basis of
the people's happiness." So long as Alexander remained true to liberal
principles himself, there was some hope that he might abolish serfdom
throughout his dominions. He abhorred the "peculiar institution" of his
empire with all the force of a mind that certainly was generous, and
which had a strong bias in the direction of justice. Once he made a
solemn religious vow that he would abolish it. It is probable that
he would have made an attempt at complete emancipation, if the
circumstances of his time and his country had enabled him to concentrate
his thoughts and his labors upon domestic affairs. Unhappily for Russia,
and for the Czar's fame, he was soon drawn into the European vortex, and
became one of the principal actors in the grand drama of that age, so
that Russian interests were sacrificed to ambition, to the love of
military glory, and to the Czar's desire to become Don Quixote with an
imperial crown and sceptre. He wished to reconstruct the map of Europe,
which had been so terribly deranged by those terrible map-destroyers and
map-makers, the French republicans. Catharine II. had had the sense to
keep out of the war that had been waged against France, though no person
in Europe--not even George III. himself--hated the revolutionists more
intensely. She wished to see them subdued, but she preferred that the
work of subjugation should be done by others, so that she might be at
liberty to pursue her designs against Poland and Turkey and Persia. The
destruction of Poland she completed, but she was called away before she
could conquer the followers of Omar and of Ali. Paul was a party to the
second coalition against France, and his armies tore Italy from its
conquerors, and but for the stupidity of Austria there might have been
a Russian restoration of the Bourbons in 1709. Alexander resumed the
policy which his father had adopted only to discard, and though at one
period of his reign he appeared well inclined to Napoleon, there never
was any sincerity in the alliance between the two masters of so many
millions. The Czar was easily induced to favor the strange scheme of
an Italian adventurer for the rehabilitation of Europe, which had been
adopted by his friend and counsellor, the Prince Czartoryski, and
which ultimately furnished the basis, and many of the details, of that
pacification which was effected in 1815. We have seen the treaties of
that memorable year torn to tatters by Napoleon III., but the adoption
of Piatoli's project by Alexander affected the last generation as
intimately as the French Emperor's conduct has affected the men of
to-day. It led the Czar away from his original purpose, and converted
him, from a benevolent ruler, into a harsh, suspicious, unfeeling
despot. There could be nothing done for Russian serfs while their
sovereign was crusading it for the benefit of the Bourbons in particular
and of legitimacy in general. "God is in heaven, and the Czar is afar
off!" words once common with the suffering serfs, were of peculiar force
when the Czar, who believed himself to be the chosen instrument of
Heaven, was at Paris or Vienna, laboring for the settlement of Europe
according to ideas adopted in the early years of his reign. Napoleonism
and Liberalism were the same thing in the mind of Alexander, and he
finally came to regard serfdom itself as something that should not be
touched. It was a stone in that social edifice which he was determined
to maintain at all hazards. The plan of emancipation had worked well in
the outlying Baltic provinces, where there were few or no Russians, but
he discouraged its application to other portions of his dominions.
Some of his greatest nobles were anxious to take the lead as
emancipationists, but he would not allow them to proceed in the only way
that promised success, and so the bondage system was continued with the
approbation of the Czar. In his last years, Alexander, though still
quite a young man,--he was but forty-eight when he died,--was the most
determined enemy of liberty in Europe or Asia.

The Emperor Nicholas began his remarkable reign with the desire strong
in his mind to emancipate the serfs,--or, if that be too sweeping
an expression, so to improve their condition as to render their
emancipation by his successors a comparatively easy proceeding. Much of
his legislation shows this, and that he was aware that the time must
come when the serfs could no longer be deprived of their freedom. Such
was the effect of his conduct, however, that all that he did in
behalf of the serfs was attributed to a desire on his part to create
ill-feeling between the nobility and the peasants. Then he was so
thoroughly arbitrary in his disposition, that he often neutralized the
good he did by his manner of doing it. But that which mainly prevented
him from doing much for his people was his determination to maintain the
position which Russia had acquired in Europe, and to maintain it, too,
in the interest of despotism, "pure and simple." A succession of events
caused the Czar's attention to be drawn to foreign affairs. The French
Revolution of 1830, the Polish Revolution of the same year, the troubles
in Germany, the Reform contest in England, the change in the order of
the Spanish succession, the outbreaks in Italy,--these things, and
others of a similar character, all of which were protests against
that European system which Russia had established and still favored,
compelled Nicholas to look abroad, and to neglect, measurably, domestic
government. At a later period, he was one of the parties to that
combination of great powers which threatened France with a renewal of
those invasions from which she had suffered so much in 1814 and 1815.
Turkey was the source of perpetual trouble to the Czar; and his eyes
were frequently drawn to India, where one of his envoys half threatened
an English minister that the troops of their two countries might meet,
and was curtly answered by the minister that he cared not how soon the
interview should begin. The extinction of Cracow served to show how
close was the watch which the Czar kept upon the West, and that he was
ready to crush even the smallest of those countries in which the spirit
of liberty should show itself. Had San Marino lain within his reach, he
would have been induced neither by its weakness nor its age to spare
it. The struggle with the Circassians was long, vexatious, and costly.
Finally, the Revolutions of 1848, leading, as they did, to the invasion
of Hungary, in the first place, and then to the war with the Western
Powers, operated to prejudice the Imperial mind against every form of
freedom, and to provide too much occupation for the Emperor and his
ministers to permit them to labor with care and effect in behalf of the
oppressed serfs at home. It would have been a strange spectacle, had
the man who was trampling down the Hungarians employed his leisure in
raising his own serfs from the dust.

The Emperor Nicholas died in March, 1855, having lived long enough after
the beginning of that great war which he had so rashly provoked to see
his armies everywhere beaten and his fleets everywhere blockaded, while
the Russian leadership of Europe was struck down at a blow, never to be
resumed, unless there should be a radical change effected in Russian
institutions. Nearly thirty years of the most arrogant rule ever known
to the world came to an end in a moment, because the Emperor took "a
slight cold." A breath of the Northern winter served to stop the breath
of the Emperor of the North. He slept with his fathers, and his
son, Alexander II., reigned in his stead. The new Czar, who has the
reputation of being a much milder man than his father, and to bear
considerable resemblance to his uncle, as that uncle was in his best
days, was soon reported to be an emancipationist; but as the same
reports had prevailed respecting both Alexander I. and Nicholas, the
world gave little heed to what was said on the subject. It was not until
he had reigned for almost two years that something definite was done in
relation to it by the Czar; and then as many obstacles were thrown in
the way of the reform as would have served to disgust any man who had
not been in downright earnest. The Czar then took matters into his own
hands, so far as that was possible, and the work was pushed forward
with considerable speed. There was much discussion, and there were many
disappointments, in the course of the business; but through all the Czar
held to his determination, with a pertinacity that was not expected of
him, and which leaves the impression that his character has not been
properly understood. The history of the undertaking is yet to be
written, but, from what little is known of its details, we should say
that Alexander II. experienced more opposition, and that of an extremely
disagreeable character, from the nobility, than Alexander I. would
have encountered from the nobles of his time, had he resolved upon
emancipation in good faith, and adhered to his resolution, as his nephew
has done. Persons who suppose that a Russian Czar cannot be drowned,
because belonging to that select class who are born to be strangled,
would have it that the question would be settled by an application of
the bowstring, or the sash of some guardsman, to the Imperial throat;
and so a successful palace revolution lead to the postponement of the
plan of emancipation for another quarter of a century. But Russian
morality is of a much higher character than it was, and the members
of the reigning house are models of decorum, and know how to defer to
opinion. The nobles, too, are men of a very different stamp from their
predecessors of 1762 and 1801. The Russian polity is no longer a
despotism tempered by the cord. Fighting the good fight with something
of a Puritanical perseverance, the Czar was enabled to triumph over all
opposition to his preliminary project; and on the 3d of March, (N.S.,)
1861, the "Imperial Manifesto" emancipating the serfs was published.

In the opening paragraph of this document, the Autocrat declares, that,
on ascending the throne, he took a vow in his innermost heart so to
respond to the mission which was intrusted to him as to surround with
his affection and his Imperial solicitude all his faithful subjects of
every rank and of every condition, from the warrior who nobly bears arms
for the defence of the country to the humble artisan devoted to the
works of industry,--from the official in the career of the high offices
of the State to the laborer whose plough furrows the soil; and then
proceeds to say,--"In considering the various classes and conditions
of which the State is composed, we came to the conviction that the
legislation of the empire, having wisely provided for the organization
of the upper and middle classes, and having defined with precision their
obligations, their rights, and their privileges, has not attained the
same degree of efficiency as regards the peasants attached to the soil,
thus designated because either from ancient laws or from custom they
have been hereditarily subjected to the authority of the proprietors, on
whom it was incumbent at the same time to provide for their welfare.
The rights of the proprietors have been hitherto very extended and very
imperfectly defined by the law, which has been supplied by tradition,
custom, and the good pleasure of the proprietors. In the most favorable
cases this state of things has established patriarchal relations founded
upon a solicitude sincerely equitable and benevolent on the part of
the proprietors, and on an affectionate submission on the part of the
peasants; but in proportion as the simplicity of morals diminished,
as the diversity of the mutual relations became complicated, as the
paternal character of the relations between the proprietors and the
peasants became weakened, and, moreover, as the seigneurial authority
fell sometimes into hands exclusively occupied with their personal
interests, those bonds of mutual good-will slackened, and a wide opening
was made for an arbitrary sway which weighed upon the peasants, was
unfavorable to their welfare, and made them indifferent to all progress
under the conditions of their existence. These facts had already
attracted the notice of our predecessors of glorious memory, and they
had taken measures for improving the condition of the peasants; but
among those measures some were not stringent enough, insomuch as they
remained subordinate to the spontaneous initiative of such proprietors
as showed themselves animated with liberal intentions; and others,
called forth by peculiar circumstances, have been restricted to certain
localities, or simply adopted as an experiment. It was thus that
Alexander I. published the regulation for the free cultivators, and that
the late Emperor Nicholas, our beloved father, promulgated that one
which concerns the peasants bound by contract. ... We thus came to the
conviction that the work of a serious improvement of the condition
of the peasants was a sacred inheritance bequeathed to us by our
ancestors,--a mission which, in the course of events, Divine Providence
called upon us to fulfil."

It will be observed that the Czar goes no farther back than the
beginning of the reign of his uncle, sixty years since, in speaking of
the measures that have been taken for the improvement of the peasants'
condition; and he names only his father and his uncle as reforming
Emperors, though his language is such as to warrant the belief that
all his ancestors, who had reigned, had been friends of the serf,
and anxious to promote their welfare. But Alexander II. is too well
acquainted with the history of his family to venture to speak of the
actions of either the Great Peter or the Grand Catharine toward the
peasants. Gurowski tells us of the effect of one of Peter's acts in very
plain language. "In 1718," he says, "Peter the Great ordered a general
census to be taken all over the empire. The census officials, most
probably through thoughtlessness or caprice, divided the whole rural
population into two sections: First, the free peasants belonging to the
crown or its domains; and, secondly, all the rest of the peasantry,
the _krestianins_, or serfs living on private estates, were inscribed
_khrepostnoie kholopy_, that is, as chattels. The primitive Slavic
communal organization thus survived only on the royal domain, and there
it exists till the present day. The census of Peter having thus fairly
inaugurated chattelhood, it immediately began to develop itself in all
its turpitude. The masters grew more reckless and cruel; they sold
chattels separately from the lands; they brought them singly into
market, disregarding all family-ties and social bonds. Estates were no
more valued according to the area of land they contained, but according
to the number of their chattels, who were now called souls. In short,
all the worst features of chattelism, as it exists at the present day in
the American Slave States, immediately followed the publication of this
accursed census."[B] The same authority states that Nicholas in reality
was the first Emperor who granted estates excepting therefrom the
resident peasantry.

[Footnote B: _Slavery in History_, pp. 245, 246.]

Alexander II., in his Manifesto, expresses his confidence in the
nobility of Russia, which compliment is pronounced ironical, inasmuch as
they did not yield their consent to emancipation until they discovered
that the Czar and the serfs had united to extort it. "It is to the
nobles themselves," says the Czar, "conformably to their own wishes,
that we have reserved the task of drawing up the propositions for the
new organization of the peasants,--propositions which make it incumbent
upon them to limit their rights over the peasants, and to accept the
_onus_ of a reform which could not be accomplished without some material
losses. Our confidence has not been deceived. We have seen the nobles
assembled in committees in the districts, through the medium of their
confidential agents, making the voluntary sacrifice of their rights as
regards the personal servitude of the peasants. These committees,
after having collected the necessary _data_, have formulated their
propositions concerning the new organization of the peasants attached
to the soil in their relations with the proprietors. These propositions
having been found very diverse, as was to be expected from the nature
of the question, they have been compared, collated, and reduced to a
regular system, then rectified and completed in the superior committee
instituted for that purpose; and these new dispositions thus formulated
relative to the peasants and domestics of the proprietors have been
examined in the Council of the Empire." Invoking the Divine assistance,
the Czar says that he is resolved to carry this work into execution. In
virtue of the new dispositions, the peasants attached to the soil are to
be invested with all the rights of free cultivators. The proprietors are
to retain their rights of property in all the land belonging to them,
but they are to grant to the peasants for a fixed regulated rental the
full enjoyment of their _close_, or homestead; and, to assure their
livelihood, and to guaranty the fulfilment of their obligations toward
the Government, the quantity of arable land is fixed, as well as other
rural appurtenances. In return for the enjoyment of these territorial
allotments, the peasants are obligated to acquit the rentals fixed
to the profit of the proprietors; but in this state, which must be a
transitory one, the peasants shall be designated as "temporarily bound."
The peasants are granted the right of purchasing their homesteads, and,
with the consent of the proprietors, they may acquire in full property
the arable lands and other appurtenances which are allotted to them as a
permanent holding. By the acquisition in full property of the quantity
of land fixed the peasants will become free from their obligations
toward the proprietors for land thus purchased, and they will enter
definitively into the condition of free peasants, or landholders. A
transitory state is fixed for the domestics, adapted to their callings,
and to the exigencies of their position. At the close of two years,
they are to receive their full enfranchisement, and some temporary
immunities. "It is according to these fundamental principles," says the
Manifesto, "that the dispositions have been formulated which define
the future organization of the peasants and of the domestics, which
establish the order of the general administration of this class, and
specify in all their details the rights given to the peasants and to
the domestics, as well as the obligations imposed upon them toward the
Government and toward the proprietors. Although these dispositions,
general as well as local, and the special supplementary rules for some
particular localities, for the lands of small proprietors, and for
the peasants who work in the manufactories and establishments of the
proprietors, have been, as far as was possible, adapted to economical
necessities and local customs, nevertheless, to preserve the existing
state where it presents reciprocal advantages, we leave it to the
proprietors to come to amicable terms with the peasants, and to conclude
transactions relative to the extent of the territorial allotment, and to
the amount of rental to be fixed in consequence, observing at the
same time the established rules to guaranty the inviolability of such
agreements." The new organization, however, cannot be immediately put in
execution, in consequence of the inevitable complexity of the changes
which it necessitates. Not less than two years, or thereabout, will be
required to perfect the work; and to avoid all misunderstanding, and to
protect public and private interests during this interval, the existing
system will be maintained up to the moment when a new one shall have
been instituted by the completion of the required preparatory measures.
To this end, the Czar has deemed it advisable,--

"1. To establish in each district a special court for the question of
the peasants; it will have to investigate the affairs of the rural
communes established on the land of the lords of the soil.

"2. To appoint in each district justices of the peace to investigate
on the spot all misunderstandings and disputes which may arise on the
occasion of the introduction of the new regulation, and to form district
assemblies with these justices of the peace.

"3. To organize in the seigneurial properties communal administrations,
and to this end to leave the rural communes in their actual composition,
and to open in the large villages district administrations (provincial
boards) by uniting the small communes under one of these district

"4. To formulate, verify, and confirm in each rural district or estate
a charter of rules, in which shall be enumerated, on the basis of the
local statute, the amount of land reserved to the peasants in permanent
enjoyment, and the extent of the charges which may be exacted from them
for the benefit of the proprietor, as well for the land as for other
advantages granted by him.

"5. To put these charters of rules into execution as they are gradually
confirmed in each estate, and to introduce their definitive execution
within the term of two years, dating from the day of publication of the
present manifesto.

"6. Up to the expiration of this term the peasants and domestics are to
remain in the same obedience towards their proprietors, and to fulfil
their former obligations without scruple.

"7. The proprietors will continue to watch over the maintenance of order
on their estates, with the right of jurisdiction and of police, until
the organization of the districts and of the district tribunals has been

In the concluding portion of the Manifesto, the Czar expresses his
confidence in the nobility, and his belief that they will so labor as to
perfect the great work upon which all parties in Russia are engaged; but
there is something in the language he employs that sounds hollow, as
if he were not altogether so certain of support as he claims to be. He
speaks less like a man stating a fact than like one appealing to the
controllers of powerful interests. He also warns those persons who
have misunderstood the Imperial purpose, "individuals more intent upon
liberty than mindful of the duties which it imposes," and whose conduct
was not beyond reproach when the first news of the great reform became
diffused among the rural population. The serfs are called upon, with
much unction, to appreciate and recognize the considerable sacrifices
which the nobility have made on their behalf. They are expected to
understand that the blessings of an existence supported upon the
basis of guarantied property, as well as a greater liberty in the
administration of their goods, entail upon them, with new duties toward
society and themselves, the obligation of justifying the protecting
designs of the law by a loyal and judicious use of the rights which are
now accorded to them. "For," says the Autocrat, "if men do not labor
themselves to insure their own well-being under the shield of the laws,
the best of those laws cannot guaranty it to them." These are "noble
sentiments"; but the shrewder portion of the serfs will probably attach
more importance to the declaration, that, "to render the transactions
between the proprietors and the peasants more easy, in virtue of which
the latter may acquire in full property their homestead and the land
they occupy, the Government will advance assistance, according to
a special regulation, by means of loans, or a transfer of debts
encumbering an estate."

Such are the principal details of this great measure, the most important
undertaking of modern days, whether we refer only to the measure itself,
or take its probable consequences into consideration. That forty-five
millions of human beings should be lifted out of the slough of slavery,
and placed in a condition to become _men_, would alone be a proceeding
that ought to take first rank among the illustrations of this age. But
we cannot consider it solely by itself. Every deed that is likely to
influence the life of a nation that is endowed with great vitality and
energy must be considered in connection with its probable consequences.
Russia stands in the fore-front rank of the leading nations of the
world. In the European Pentarchy, she is the superior of Austria, the
controller of Prussia, and the equal of France and England. The growth
of the United States in political power having received a check through
the occurrence of the Secession Rebellion, the relations of the great
empires, which our advance had threatened to disturb in an essential
manner, will probably remain unchanged; and so Russia, unless she should
become internally convulsed, will maintain her place. Assuming that the
work of emancipation is to be peacefully and successfully accomplished,
it would be fair to argue that the power of the Russian Empire will
be incalculably increased through the elevation of the masses of its
population. The Czar is doing for his dominions what Tiberius Gracchus
sought to do for the Roman Republic when he began that course of much
misunderstood agrarian legislation which led to his destruction, and to
the overthrow of the constitutional party in his country. As the Roman
Tribune sought to renew the Roman people, and to substitute a nation of
independent cultivators for those slaves who had already begun to eat
out the heart of the republic, so does the Russian Autocrat seek to
create a nation of freemen to take the place of a nation of serfs. If
the Roman had succeeded, the course of history must have been entirely
changed; and if the Russian shall succeed, we may feel assured that his
success will have prodigious results, though different from what are
expected, perhaps, by the Imperial reformer himself. His motives
of action are probably of that mixed character which governs the
proceedings of most men. Undoubtedly he wishes well to the millions for
whose freedom he has labored and is laboring; but then he would improve
their condition in order that he may become more powerful than ever
were his predecessors. He would rule over men rather than over slaves,
because men make better subjects and better soldiers than slaves ever
could be expected to make. The Russian serf has certainly proved himself
to be possessed of high military qualities in the past, but it admits
of a good deal of doubt whether he is equal to the present military
standard; and Russia cannot safely fall behind her neighbors and
contemporaries in the matter of soldiership. The events of all the wars
in which Russia has been engaged since 1815 prove that her armies
have not kept pace with those of most other countries. The first of
Nicholas's wars with Turkey would have ended in his total defeat, if the
Turks had been able to find a leader of ordinary capacity and average
integrity. The Persian War was successful because Persia is weak, and
she had not the means of making a powerful resistance to her old enemy.
The Poles, in 1831, held the Russians at bay for months, and would have
established their independence but for their own dissensions; and even
then Russia was much assisted by Prussia. The invasion of Hungary was a
military promenade, and the failure of the patriots was owing less to
the ability of Paskevitch than to the treason of Goergei. In the contest
between Russia and the Western powers, (1854-6,) the former was beaten
in every battle; and when she had only the Turks on her hands, in 1853,
her every purpose was foiled, and not one victory did her armies in
Europe win over that people. The world saw that a new breed of men had
taken the places of those soldiers who had been so prominent in the work
of overthrowing Napoleon; and even the heroes of 1812-15 were admitted
to be inferior to _their_ predecessors, the soldiers of Zuerich and
Trebbia and Novi. It is the fact, and one upon which military men can
ruminate at their leisure, that the Russian armies showed more real
power and "pluck" a century ago than they have exhibited in any of
the wars of the last sixty years. They fought better at Zorndorf and
Kunersdorf, against the great Frederic, than they did at Austerlitz
and Friedland, against the greater Napoleon, or than we have seen them
fight, at the Alma, and at Inkerman, and at Eupatoria, against Raglan,
and St. Arnaud, and Omar Pacha. There was no falling off in the soldiers
of Suvaroff; but personal character had much to do with his successes,
as he was a man of genius, and the only original soldier that Russia
has ever had; and the men whom he led to victory in Turkey, Poland,
and Italy were trained by officers who had learned their trade of the
warriors who had fought against Frederic. But in the nineteenth Century
the change in the Russian army was perceptible to all men, and in none
could that change have produced more serious feelings than in the
present Czar and his father. Nicholas is supposed to have died of
mortification because his army, the instrument of his power over Europe,
had been cut through by the swords of the West; and Alexander II.
succeeded to a disgraced throne because his troops had proved themselves
unworthy successors of the men of Kulm. Wishing to have better soldiers
than he found in his armies, or than had served his father, Alexander
II. hastened that scheme of emancipation which he had been thinking of,
we may presume, for years, and which, he asserts, is the hereditary
idea of his line. We do not suppose that he is less inclined to rule
despotically than was his father, or that he would be averse to the
recovery of the position which was held by his uncle and his father. We
find not the slightest evidence, in all the proceedings of the Russian
Government, that the _people_ whom the Czar means to create are to
be endowed with political freedom. A more vigorous race of Russians,
morally speaking, is needed, and, except in some parts of the United
States, there are no men to be found capable of arguing that any portion
of the human family is susceptible of improvement through servitude. The
serf is naturally clever, and can "turn his hand" to almost anything.
The inference that freedom would exalt his mind and improve his
condition is one that was logically drawn at St. Petersburg and Moscow,
though they reason differently at Richmond and Montgomery. An army
recruited from slaves could not, in these times, when even bayonets
think and cannon reason much more accurately than they did when Louis
XIV. was a pattern monarch, ever look in the face the intelligent
trained legions of France or England or Germany. A combination of
political circumstances, similar to those of 1840, might give victory to
a grand Russian army, like that laurelless triumph which was then won
in Hungary, when the victors were nothing but the bloodhounds and
gallows-feeders of the House of Austria; but of _military_ glory the
present Russians could hope to have no more. To regain the place they
had held, it was necessary that they should be made personally free.
That they might be the better prepared to enslave others, they were
themselves to be converted into men. The freedom of the individuals
might be the means of supplying soldiers who should equal the fanatics
who followed Suvaroff, or the patriots who followed Kutusoff, or the
avengers who followed the first Alexander to Paris. The experiment, at
all events, was worth trying; and the Czar is trying it on a scale that
most impressively affects both the mind and the imagination of mankind,
who may learn that his works are destined greatly to bear upon their

In war, it is not only men that are wanted, and in large numbers, but
money, and in large sums. Always of importance to the military monarch,
money is now the first thing that he must think of and provide, or his
operations will be checked effectually. War is a luxury that no poor
nation or poor king can now long enjoy. It is reserved for wealthy
nations, and for sovereigns who may possess the riches of Solomon
without being endowed with his wisdom. Having impressed so many agents
into its service, and subdued science itself to the condition of a
bondman, war consumes gold almost as rapidly as the searches and labors
of millions can produce it. The only sure, enduring source of wealth
is industry,--industry as enlightened in its modes and processes as
imperfect man will allow to exist. Russia is an empire that abounds with
the means of wealth, rather than with wealth itself. It is a country, or
collection of countries, of which almost anything in the way of
riches may be predicated, should intelligent labor be directed to the
development of its immense and various resources. Russian sovereigns
have frequently sought to do something for the people; but Alexander
II., a wiser man than any of his predecessors, is willing that the
people should do something for themselves, because he knows that all
that they shall gain, each man for himself, will be so much added to the
common stock of the empire. The many must become wealthy, in order that
one, the head of all, may become strong. Time and again has Russia found
her armies paralyzed and her victories barren because she was moneyless;
and but for the gold of foreign nations she must have halted in her
course, and never have become a European power. With a nation of freemen
all this may be, and most probably it will be, changed,--though it is
not so certain that the change will be attended with exactly that
order of results which the Czar may have arranged in his own mind. The
mightiest of monarchs are not exempt from the rule, that, while man
proposes, it is God who disposes the things of this world. Not one of
those reforming kings who broke down the power of the great nobles of
Western Europe, and so created absolute monarchies, appears to have had
any just conception of the business in which he was engaged; but all
were instruments in the hands of that mighty Power which overrules the
ambition of individuals so that it shall promote the welfare of the

The two years that are set apart for the completion of the plan of
emancipation will be the trial time of Russia. They may expire, and
nothing have been done, and the condition of the peasants be no more
hopeful than it was in those years which followed the "good intentions"
of Alexander I. It is not difficult to see that there are numerous and
powerful disturbing causes to the success of the project. These causes
are of a twofold character. They are to be found in the internal state
of the empire, and in the relations which it holds to foreign
countries. There is still a powerful party in Russia who are opposed to
emancipation, and who, though repulsed for the time, are far from being
disheartened. One-half the nobility are supposed to be enemies of the
Imperial plan, and they will continue to throw every possible obstacle
in the way of its success. There is nothing so pertinacious, so
unrelenting, and so difficult to change, as an aristocratical body. The
best liberals the world has seen have been of aristocratical origin,
or democracy would have made but little advance; but what is true of
individuals is not true of the mass, which is obstinate and unyielding.
There is nothing that men so reluctantly abandon as direct power over
their fellows. The chief of egotists is the slaveholder, unless he
happen to be the wisest and best of men. Man loves his fellow-man--as
a piece of property, as a chattel, above all things. It is a striking
proof of superiority to be able to command men with the certainty of
being as blindly obeyed as was the Roman centurion. The sense of power
that is created by the possession of slaves is sure to render men
arbitrary of disposition and insolent in their conduct. The troubles of
our own country ought to be sufficient to convince every one that there
must be nobles in Russia who would prefer resistance to the Czar to the
elevation of millions whose depression is evidence of the power of the
privileged classes. But for the conviction that the United States could
no longer be ruled in the interest of the slaveholders, the Secession
movement would have been postponed for another generation, and certain
traitors would have gone to their graves with the reputation of having
been honest men. There are Secessionists in Russia, and for the next two
years they may be able to do much to prevent the completion of the work
so well begun by Alexander II. But he appears to be as resolute as they
can be, and even fanatically determined upon having his way. Supported
by one-half the nobles, and by all the serfs, and confident of the
army's loyalty, he ought to be able to triumph over all internal
opposition. What he has already effected has been extorted from a
powerful foe; and that costly step, the first step, having been taken,
the Russian reformers, headed by the Emperor, ought to prove victorious
in so vitally important a contest as that in which they have voluntarily

The greatest danger to the emancipation project proceeds from the side
of foreign countries. As we have seen, both Alexander I. and Nicholas
were led away from the pursuit of a policy that might long since have
converted the Russian serfs into a Russian people, through their desire
to interfere in the affairs of other nations. They could not reform
Russia and crush reformers elsewhere. That they might decide grand
contests in which Russia had no immediate interest, it was necessary
that Russians should remain enslaved. What was it to Russia whether
Bourbons or Bonapartes should reign over France? If she had an interest
in the question, it was rather favorable to the Bonapartes, whom she
overthrew, than to the Bourbons, whom she set up in order that the
French might again overthrow them. The old Bourbons were never friendly
to Russia, and would gladly have headed a coalition to drive her back to
her forests; and the first Bonaparte was very desirous of being on good
terms with the Northern Colossus, as if he were dimly forewarned of his
coming fate at its hands. Led away from the true path, Alexander I.
squandered on foreign affairs the time, the industry, and the money that
should have been devoted to the prosecution of those internal reforms
that were necessary to convert his subjects into men. Nicholas inherited
from his unwise brother that policy which he so vehemently supported,
and which caused him to waste on France and Austria the attention and
the energy which, as a conscientious sovereign, he was bound to bestow
upon Russia. The danger now is that Alexander II. will walk in the same
wrong path that was found to lead only to destruction by his uncle and
his father. The world was never so unsettled as it is now, and wars of
the most extensive character threaten every country that is competent to
put an army into the field. The Italian question is yet to be solved,
and its solution concerns Russia, which is strongly interested in
every movement that threatens to break up the Austrian Empire, or that
promises to create in the Kingdom of Italy a new Mediterranean nation.
The Schleswig-Holstein question is yet to be settled, and Russia has an
immediate interest in its settlement, as Denmark, she expects, will one
day be her own. The Eastern question is as unanswerable as ever it has
been, and it is but a few weeks since the belief was common that Russia
and France were to unite for the purpose of settling it, which could
have meant nothing less than the partition of the Turkish Empire,--the
union of one of the "sick man's" old protectors with his enemy, for the
perfect plundering of his possessions. This arrangement, had it been
completed, would have led to a war between France and Russia, on the one
side, and England and Austria on the other, while half a dozen lesser
nations would have been drawn into the conflict. But if an alliance for
any such purpose was ever thought of by the Autocrat and the Stratocrat,
it is supposed that it fell through in consequence of the occurrence of
troubles in Russian Poland,--the Polish question, after having been kept
entirely out of sight for years, having suddenly forced itself on the
attention of Europe's monarchs, to the no small increase of their
perplexities. Here are four great questions that are intimately
connected with Russia's interests, any one of which, if pressed by
circumstances to a decision, would probably plunge her into a long
and costly war, one of the effects of which would be to postpone the
emancipation of the serfs for many years. No empire could effect an
internal change like that which the Czar has begun, and at the same time
carry on a war that would require immense expenditures and the active
services of a million of men. The Czar is in constant danger of being
"coerced" into a foreign war; and the enemies of emancipation would
throw all their weight on the side of the war faction, even if they
should feel but little interest in the fortunes of either party to
a contest into which Russia might be plunged. Leaving aside all the
questions mentioned but that of Turkey, that alone is ever threatening
to bring Russia into conflict with some of her neighbors. Neither
England nor Austria could allow her to have her will of Turkey, no
matter how excellent an opportunity might be presented by the death of
the Sultan, or some similar event, to strike an effectual blow at that
tottering, doomed empire. So that war ever hangs over the Czar from that
side, unless he should, for the sake of the domestic reform he so much
desiderates, disregard the traditions and abandon the purpose of his
house. Were he to do so, it would be a splendid example of self-denial,
and such as few men who have reigned have ever been capable of affording
either to the admiration or the derision of the world. But could he
safely do it? Then it does not altogether depend either upon the Czar or
upon his subjects whether he or they shall preserve the peace of their
country. Suppose Poland to rise,--and she has been becoming very wakeful
of late,--then war would be forced upon Russia; and that war might be
extended over most of Continental Europe. A Polish war could hardly
fail to draw Prussia and Austria into it, they being almost as much
interested in the maintenance of the partition as Russia; and France
could scarcely be kept out of such a contest, she having been the patron
of Poland ever since the partition was effected.

Considering the matter in its various bearings, and noting how
inflammable is the condition of the world, and observing that a Russian
war would be fatal to emancipation, we can but say, that the freedom of
the serfs is something that may be hoped for, but which we should not
speak of as assured. Alexander II. wishes to complete his work, but he
is only an instrument in the hands of Fate, and things may so fall
out as to cover the present fair prospect with those clouds and
that darkness in which have been forever enveloped some of the best
undertakings for the promotion of man's welfare. We may hope and pray
for a good ending to the reform that has been commenced, but it is not
without fear and trembling that we do so.

* * * * *


As the principal personage of this story is dead, and there is no
likelihood that any of the others will ever see the "Atlantic Monthly,"
I feel free to tell it without reservation.

The mercantile house of which I was until recently an active member
had many business connections throughout the Western States, and I was
therefore in the habit of making an annual journey through them, in the
interest of the firm. In fact, I was always glad to escape from the dirt
and hubbub of Cortland Street, and to exchange the smell of goods and
boxes, cellars and gutters, for that of prairie grass and even of
prairie mud. Although wearing the immaculate linen and golden studs of
the city Valentine, there still remained a good deal of the country
Orson in my blood, and I endured many hard, repulsive, yea, downright
vulgar experiences for the sake of a run at large, and the healthy
animal exaltation which accompanied it.

Eight or nine years ago, (it is, perhaps, as well not to be very
precise, as yet, with regard to dates,) I found myself at Peoria, in
Illinois, rather late in the season. The business I had on hand was
mostly transacted; but it was still necessary that I should visit
Bloomington and Terre Haute before returning to the East. I had come
from Wisconsin and Northern Illinois, and, as the great railroad spider
of Chicago had then spun but a few threads of his present tremendous
mesh, I had made the greater part of my journey on horseback. By the
time I reached Peoria the month of November was well advanced, and the
weather had become very disagreeable. I was strongly tempted to sell my
horse and take the stage to Bloomington, but the roads were even worse
to a traveller on wheels than to one in the saddle, and the sunny day
which followed my arrival flattered me with the hope that others as fair
might succeed it.

The distance to Bloomington was forty miles, and the road none of the
best; yet, as my horse "Peck" (an abbreviation of "Pecatonica") had had
two days' rest, I did not leave Peoria until after the usual dinner at
twelve o'clock, trusting that I should reach my destination by eight or
nine in the evening, at the latest. Broad bands of dull, gray, felt-like
clouds crossed the sky, and the wind had a rough edge to it which
predicted that there was rain within a day's march.

The oaks along the rounded river-bluffs still held on to their leaves,
although the latter were entirely brown and dead, and rattled around me
with an ominous sound, as I climbed to the level of the prairie, leaving
the bed of the muddy Illinois below. Peck's hoofs sank deeply into the
unctuous black soil, which resembled a jetty tallow rather than earth,
and his progress was slow and toilsome. The sky became more and more
obscured: the sun faded to a ghastly moon, then to a white blotch in the
gray vault, and finally retired in disgust. Indeed, there was nothing in
the landscape worth his contemplation. Dead flats of black, bristling
with short corn-stalks, flats of brown grass, a brown belt of low woods
in the distance,--that was all the horizon inclosed: no embossed bowl,
with its rim of sculptured hills, its round of colored pictures, but a
flat earthen pie-dish, over which the sky fell like a pewter cover.

After riding for an hour or two over the desolate level, I descended
through rattling oaks to the bed of a stream, and then ascended through
rattling oaks to the prairie beyond. Here, however, I took the wrong
road, and found myself, some three miles farther, at a farm-house, where
it terminated. "You kin go out over the perairah yander," said the
farmer, dropping his maul beside a rail he had just split off,--"there's
a plain trail from Sykes's that'll bring you onto the road not fur from
Sugar Crick." With which knowledge I plucked up heart and rode on.

What with the windings and turnings of the various cart-tracks, the
family resemblance in the groves of oak and hickory, and the heavy,
uniform gray of the sky, I presently lost my compass-needle,--that
natural instinct of direction, on which I had learned to rely. East,
west, north, south,--all were alike, and the very doubt paralyzed the
faculty. The growing darkness of the sky, the _watery_ moaning of
the wind, betokened night and storm; but I pressed on, hap-hazard,
determined, at least, to reach one of the incipient villages on the
Bloomington road.

After an hour more, I found myself on the brink of another winding
hollow, threaded by a broad, shallow stream. On the opposite side, a
quarter of a mile above, stood a rough shanty, at the foot of the rise
which led to the prairie. After fording the stream, however, I found
that the trail I had followed continued forward in the same direction,
leaving this rude settlement on the left. On the opposite side of the
hollow, the prairie again stretched before me, dark and flat, and
destitute of any sign of habitation. I could scarcely distinguish the
trail any longer; in half an hour, I knew, I should be swallowed up in a
gulf of impenetrable darkness; and there was evidently no choice left
me but to return to the lonely shanty, and there seek shelter for the

To be thwarted in one's plans, even by wind or weather, is always
vexatious; but in this case, the prospect of spending a night in such
a dismal corner of the world was especially disagreeable. I am--or at
least I consider myself--a thoroughly matter-of-fact man, and my first
thought, I am not ashamed to confess, was of oysters. Visions of a
favorite saloon, and many a pleasant supper with Dunham and Beeson, (my
partners,) all at once popped into my mind, as I turned back over the
brow of the hollow and urged Peck down its rough slope. "Well," thought
I, at last, "this will be one more story for our next meeting. Who knows
what originals I may not find, even in a solitary settler's shanty?"

I could discover no trail, and the darkness thickened rapidly while I
picked my way across dry gullies, formed by the drainage of the prairie
above, rotten tree-trunks, stumps, and spots of thicket. As I approached
the shanty, a faint gleam through one of its two small windows showed
that it was inhabited. In the rear, a space of a quarter of an acre,
inclosed by a huge worm-fence, was evidently the vegetable patch, at one
corner of which a small stable, roofed and buttressed with corn-fodder,
leaned against the hill. I drew rein in front of the building, and was
about to hail its inmates, when I observed the figure of a man issue
from the stable. Even in the gloom, there was something forlorn and
dispiriting in his walk. He approached with a slow, dragging step,
apparently unaware of my presence.

"Good evening, friend!" I said.

He stopped, stood still for half a minute, and finally responded,--

"Who air you?"

The tone of his voice, querulous and lamenting, rather implied, "Why
don't you let me alone?"

"I am a traveller," I answered, "bound from Peoria to Bloomington, and
have lost my way. It is dark, as you know, and likely to rain, and I
don't see how I can get any farther to-night."

Another pause. Then he said, slowly, as if speaking to himself,--

"There a'n't no other place nearer 'n four or five mile."

"Then I hope you will let me stay here."

The answer, to my surprise, was a deep sigh.

"I am used to roughing it," I urged; "and besides, I will pay for any
trouble I may give you."

"It a'n't _that_," said he; then added, hesitatingly,--"fact is, we're
lonesome people here,--don't often see strangers; yit I s'pose you can't
go no furder;--well, I'll talk to my wife."

Therewith he entered the shanty, leaving me a little disconcerted with
so uncertain, not to say suspicious, a reception. I heard the sound of
voices--one of them unmistakable in its nasal shrillness--in what seemed
to be a harsh debate, and distinguished the words, "I didn't bring
it on," followed with, "Tell him, then, if you like, and let him
stay,"--which seemed to settle the matter. The door presently opened,
and the man said,--

"I guess we'll have t' accommodate you. Give me your things, an' then
I'll put your horse up."

I unstrapped my valise, took off the saddle, and, having seen Peck to
his fodder-tent, where I left him with some ears of corn in an
old basket, returned to the shanty. It was a rude specimen of the
article,--a single room of some thirty by fifteen feet, with a large
fireplace of sticks and clay at one end, while a half-partition of
unplaned planks set on end formed a sort of recess for the bed at the
other. A good fire on the hearth, however, made it seem tolerably
cheerful, contrasted with the dismal gloom outside. The furniture
consisted of a table, two or three chairs, a broad bench, and a
kitchen-dresser of boards. Some golden ears of seed-corn, a few sides of
bacon, and ropes of onions hung from the rafters.

A woman in a blue calico gown, with a tin coffee-pot in one hand and a
stick in the other, was raking out the red coals from under the burning
logs. At my salutation, she partly turned, looked hard at me, nodded,
and muttered some inaudible words. Then, having levelled the
coals properly, she put down the coffee-pot, and, facing about,
exclaimed,--"Jimmy, git off that cheer!"

Though this phrase, short and snappish enough, was not worded as an
invitation for me to sit down, I accepted it as such, and took the chair
which a lean boy of some nine or ten years old had hurriedly vacated.
In such cases, I had learned by experience, it is not best to be too
forward: wait quietly, and allow the unwilling hosts time to get
accustomed to your presence. I inspected the family for a while, in
silence. The spare, bony form of the woman, her deep-set gray eyes,
and the long, thin nose, which seemed to be merely a scabbard for her
sharp-edged voice, gave me her character at the first glance. As for the
man, he was worn by some constant fret or worry, rather than naturally
spare. His complexion was sallow, his face honest, every line of it,
though the expression was dejected, and there was a helpless patience
in his voice and movements, which I have often seen in women, but never
before in a man. "Henpecked in the first degree," was the verdict I
gave, without leaving my seat. The silence, shyness, and puny appearance
of the boy might be accounted for by the loneliness of his life, and
the usual "shakes"; but there was a wild, frightened look in his eye, a
nervous restlessness about his limbs, which excited my curiosity. I
am no believer in those freaks of fancy called "presentiments," but I
certainly felt that there was something unpleasant, perhaps painful, in
the private relations of the family.

Meanwhile, the supper gradually took shape. The coffee was boiled, (far
too much, for my taste,) bacon fried, potatoes roasted, and certain
lumps of dough transformed into farinaceous grape-shot, called
"biscuits." Dishes of blue queensware, knives and forks, cups and
saucers of various patterns, and a bowl of molasses were placed upon the
table; and finally the woman said, speaking to, though not looking at,

"I s'pose you ha'n't had your supper."

I accepted the invitation with a simple "No," and ate enough of the rude
fare (for I was really hungry) to satisfy my hosts that I was not proud.
I attempted no conversation, knowing that such people never talk when
they eat, until the meal was over, and the man, who gladly took one of
my cigars, was seated comfortably before the fire. I then related my
story, told my name and business, and by degrees established a mild flow
of conversation. The woman, as she washed the dishes and cleared up
things for the night, listened to us, and now and then made a remark
to the coffee-pot or frying-pan, evidently intended for our ears. Some
things which she said must have had a meaning hidden from me, for I
could see that the man winced, and at last he ventured to say,--

"Mary Ann, what's the use in talkin' about it?"

"Do as you like," she snapped back; "only I a'n't a-goin' to be blamed
for _your_ doin's. The stranger'll find out, soon enough."

"You find this life rather lonely, I should think," I remarked, with a
view of giving the conversation a different turn.

"Lonely!" she repeated, jerking out a fragment of malicious laughter.
"It's lonely enough in the daytime, Goodness knows; but you'll have your
fill o' company afore mornin'."

With that, she threw a defiant glance at her husband.

"Fact is," said he, shrinking from her eye, "we're sort o' troubled
with noises at night. P'raps you'll be skeered, but it's no more 'n
noise,--onpleasant, but never hurts nothin'."

"You don't mean to say this shanty is haunted?" I asked.

"Well,--yes: some folks 'd call it so. There _is_ noises an' things
goin' on, but you can't see nobody."

"Oh, if that is all," said I, "you need not be concerned on my account.
Nothing is so strange, but the cause of it can be discovered."

Again the man heaved a deep sigh. The woman said, in rather a milder

"What's the good o' knowin' what makes it, when you can't stop it?"

As I was neither sleepy nor fatigued, this information was rather
welcome than otherwise. I had full confidence in my own courage; and if
anything _should_ happen, it would make a capital story for my first
New-York supper. I saw there was but one bed, and a small straw mattress
on the floor beside it for the boy, and therefore declared that I should
sleep on the bench, wrapped in my cloak. Neither objected to this, and
they presently retired. I determined, however, to keep awake as long as
possible. I threw a fresh log on the fire, lit another cigar, made a few
entries in my note-book, and finally took the "Iron Mask" of Dumas from
my valise, and tried to read by the wavering flashes of the fire.

In this manner another hour passed away. The deep breathing--not to say
snoring--from the recess indicated that my hosts were sound asleep, and
the monotonous whistle of the wind around the shanty began to exercise a
lulling influence on my own senses. Wrapping myself in my cloak, with my
valise for a pillow, I stretched myself out on the bench, and strove to
keep my mind occupied with conjectures concerning the sleeping family.
Furthermore, I recalled all the stories of ghosts and haunted houses
which I had ever heard, constructed explanations for such as were still
unsolved, and, so far from feeling any alarm, desired nothing so much as
that the supernatural performances might commence.

My thoughts, however, became gradually less and less coherent, and I
was just sliding over the verge of slumber, when a faint sound in the
distance caught my ear. I listened intently: certainly there _was_ a
far-off, indistinct sound, different from the dull, continuous sweep
of the wind. I rose on the bench, fully awake, yet not excited, for my
first thought was that other travellers might be lost or belated. By
this time the sound was quite distinct, and, to my great surprise,
appeared to proceed from a drum, rapidly beaten. I looked at my watch:
it was half-past ten. Who could be out on the lonely prairie with
a drum, at that time of night? There must have been some military
festival, some political caucus, some celebration of the Sons of Malta,
or jubilation of the Society of the Thousand and One, and a few of the
scattered members were enlivening their dark ride homewards. While I was
busy with these conjectures, the sound advanced nearer and nearer,--and,
what was very singular, without the least pause or variation,--one
steady, regular roll, ringing deep and clear through the night.

The shanty stood at a point where the stream, leaving its general
southwestern course, bent at a sharp angle to the southeast, and faced
very nearly in the latter direction. As the sound of the drum came from
the east, it seemed the more probable that it was caused by some person
on the road which crossed the creek a quarter of a mile below. Yet, on
approaching nearer, it made directly for the shanty, moving, evidently,
much more rapidly than a person could walk. It then flashed upon my mind
that _this_ was the noise I was to hear, _this_ the company I was to
expect! Louder and louder, deep, strong, and reverberating, rolling
as if for a battle-charge, it came on: it was now but a hundred
yards distant,--now but fifty,--ten,--just outside the rough
clapboard-wall,--but, while I had half risen to open the door, it passed
directly through the wall and sounded at my very ears, inside the

The logs burned brightly on the hearth: every object in the room could
be seen more or less distinctly: nothing was out of its place, nothing
disturbed, yet the rafters almost shook under the roll of an invisible
drum, beaten by invisible hands! The sleepers tossed restlessly, and a
deep groan, as if in semi-dream, came from the man. Utterly confounded
as I was, my sensations were not those of terror. Each moment I doubted
my senses, and each moment the terrific sound convinced me anew. I do
not know how long I sat thus in sheer, stupid amazement. It may have
been one minute, or fifteen, before the drum, passing over my head,
through the boards again, commenced a slow march around the shanty. When
it had finished the first, and was about commencing the second round, I
shook off my stupor, and determined to probe the mystery. Opening the
door, I advanced in an opposite direction to meet it. Again the sound
passed close beside my head, but I could see nothing, touch nothing.
Again it entered the shanty, and I followed. I stirred up the fire,
casting a strong illumination into the darkest corners; I thrust my hand
into the very heart of the sound, I struck through it in all directions
with a stick,--still I saw nothing, touched nothing.

Of course, I do not expect to be believed by half my readers,--nor can
I blame them for their incredulity. So astounding is the circumstance,
even yet, to myself, that I should doubt its reality, were it not
therefore necessary, for the same reason, to doubt every event of my

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