Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 1, No. 5, March, 1858

Part 3 out of 5

host, courteously.

I replied, that it was,--that in our larger towns the place of burial
was generally rendered attractive, but that in the rural districts the
burying-grounds were yet neglected and unsightly; and ventured the
opinion, that this neglect might be partly traceable to the iconoclastic
tendencies of our Puritan ancestors.

Dr. Wichern thought not; the neglect of the earthly home of the dead
resulted from the prevalence of indifference to the glorious doctrine of
the Resurrection; and whatever a people might profess, he could not but
believe them infidel at heart, if they were entirely neglectful of the
resting-place of their dead.

The close of our repast precluded further discussion, and at our host's
invitation we accompanied him to the rural cemetery, where such of the
pupils and Brothers as died during their connection with the school were
buried. An English writer has very appropriately called the Rauhe Haus a
"Home among the Flowers"; but the title is far more appropriate to this
beautiful spot. Whatever a pure and exquisite taste could conceive as
becoming in a place consecrated to such a purpose, willing hands have
executed; and early every Sabbath morning, Dr. Wichern says, the pupils
resort hither to see that everything necessary is done to keep it in
perfect order. The air seemed almost heavy with the perfume of flowers;
and though the home of the living pupils of the Rauhe Haus is plain in
the extreme, the palace of their dead surpasses in splendor that of the
proudest of earthly monarchs. One could hardly help coveting such a

It was with reluctance that we at last turned our faces homeward, and
bade the excellent director farewell. The world has seen, in this
nineteenth century, few nobler spirits than his. Possessed of uncommon
intellect, he combines with it executive talent of no ordinary
character, and a capacity for labor which seems almost fabulous. His
duties as the head of the Inner Mission, whose scope comprises the
organization and management of reformatory institutions of all kinds,
throughout Germany, as well as efforts analogous to those of our city
missions, temperance societies, etc., might well be supposed to be
sufficient for one man; but these are supplementary to his labors as
director of the Rauhe Haus, and editor of the _Fliegende Blaetter_, and
the other literature, by no means inconsiderable, of the Inner Mission.
Dr. Wichern is highly esteemed and possesses almost unbounded influence
throughout Germany; and that influence, potent as it is, even with the
princes and crowned heads of the German States, is uniformly exerted in
behalf of the poor, the unfortunate, the ignorant, and the degraded.
When the history of philanthropy shall be written, and the just meed
of commendation bestowed on the benefactors of humanity, how much more
exalted a place will he receive, in the memory and gratitude of the
world, than the perjured and audacious despot who, born the same year,
in the neighboring city of the Hague, has won his way to the throne of
France by deeds of selfishness and cruelty! Even to-day, who would not
rather be John Henry Wichern, the director of the Rauhe Haus at Horn,
than Louis Napoleon, emperor of France?

Would that on our own side of the Atlantic a Wichern might arise, whose
abilities should be sufficient to unite in one common purpose our
reformatory enterprises, and rescue from infamy and sin the tens of
thousands of children who now, apt scholars in crime, throng the
purlieus of vice in our large cities, and are already committing deeds
whose desperate wickedness might well cause hardened criminals to
shudder. The existence of a popular government depends, we are often
told, upon the intelligence and virtue of the people. What hope, then,
can we have of the perpetuity of our institutions, when those who are to
control them have become monsters of iniquity ere they have reached the
age of manhood?

The forces of Good and Evil are ever striving for the mastery in human
society. Happy is that philanthropist, and honored should he be with a
nation's gratitude, who can rescue these juvenile offenders from the
power of evil, and from the fearful suggestings of temptation and want,
and enlist them on the side of virtue and right! We rear monuments of
marble and bronze to those heroes who on the battle-field and in the
fierce assault have kept our nation's fame untarnished, and added new
laurels to the renown of our country's prowess; but more enduring than
marble, more lasting than brass, should be the monument reared to him
who, in the fierce contest with the powers of evil, shall rescue
the soul of the child from the grasp of the tempter, and change the
brutalized and degraded offspring of crime and lust into a youth of
generous, active, and noble impulses. But though earthly fame may be
denied to such a benefactor of his race, his record shall be on high;
and at that grand assize where all human actions shall be weighed, His
voice, whose philanthropy exceeded, infinitely, the noblest deeds of
benevolence of the sons of earth, shall be heard, saying to these humble
laborers in the vineyard of our God, "Friends, come up higher!"

Those who are interested in knowing what has been accomplished by the
reformatory institutions of Europe will find a full and entertaining
account of most of them in a volume recently published, entitled "Papers
on Preventive, Correctional, and Reformatory Institutions and Agencies
in Different Countries," by Henry Barnard, LL.D. Hartford: F.C.
Brownell, 1857. Dr. Barnard has done a good work in collecting these
valuable documents.


Fond lover of the Ideal Fair,
My soul, eluded everywhere,
Is lapsed into a sweet despair.
Perpetual pilgrim, seeking ever,
Baffled, enamored, finding never;
Each morn the cheerful chase renewing,
Misled, bewildered, still pursuing;
Not all my lavished years have bought
One steadfast smile from her I sought,
But sidelong glances, glimpsing light,
A something far too fine for sight,
Veiled voices, far off thridding strains,
And precious agonies and pains:
Not love, but only love's dear wound
And exquisite unrest I found.

At early morn I saw her pass
The lone lake's blurred and quivering glass;
Her trailing veil of amber mist
The unbending beaded clover kissed;
And straight I hasted to waylay
Her coming by the willowy way;--
But, swift companion of the Dawn,
She left her footprints on the lawn,
And, in arriving, she was gone.
Alert I ranged the winding shore;
Her luminous presence flashed before;
The wild-rose and the daisies wet
From her light touch were trembling yet;
Faint smiled the conscious violet;
Each bush and brier and rock betrayed
Some tender sign her parting made;
And when far on her flight I tracked
To where the thunderous cataract
O'er walls of foamy ledges broke,
She vanished in the vapory smoke.

To-night I pace this pallid floor,
The sparkling waves curl up the shore,
The August moon is flushed and full;
The soft, low winds, the liquid lull,
The whited, silent, misty realm,
The wan-blue heaven, each ghostly elm,
All these, her ministers, conspire
To fill my bosom with the fire
And sweet delirium of desire.
Enchantress! leave thy sheeny height,
Descend, be all mine own this night,
Transfuse, enfold, entrance me quite!
Or break thy spell, my heart restore,
And disenchant me evermore!

* * * * *


On the other side of the Atlantic there is a populous city called
Grandville. It is, as its name indicates, a great city,--but it is said
that it thinks itself a good deal greater than it really is. I meant to
say that Grandville was its original name, and the name by which even at
the present day it is called by its own citizens. But there are certain
wits, or it may be, vulgar people, who by some process have converted
this name into Grindwell.

I may be able, in the course of this sketch, to give a reason why so
sounding and aristocratic a name as Grandville has been changed into the
plebeian one of Grindwell. I might account for it by adducing
similar instances of changes in the names of cities through the bad
pronunciation and spelling of foreigners. For instance, the English
nickname Livorno Leghorn, the Germans insist on calling Venice Venedig,
and the French convert Washington into the Chinese word Voss-Hang-Tong.
And so it may be that the name Grindwell has originated among us
Americans simply from miscalling or misspelling the foreign name of

I incline to think, however, that there is a better reason for the name.

For a good many years Grandville has been famous for a great machine, of
a very curious construction, which is said to regulate the movements of
the whole city, and almost to convert the men, women, and children into
cranks, wheels, and pinions. As a model of this machine does not exist
in our Patent Office at Washington, I shall beg the reader's indulgence
while I attempt to give some account of it. It may be thought a very
curious affair, though I believe there is little about it that is
original or new. The idea of it was handed down from remote generations.

In America I know that many persons may consider the Grindwell Governing
Machine a humbug,--an obsolete, absurd, and tyrannous institution,
wholly unfitted to the nineteenth century. A machine that proposes to
think and act for the whole people, and which is rigidly opposed to the
people's thinking and acting for themselves, is likely to find little
favor among us. With us the doctrine is, that each one should think for
himself,--be an individual mind and will, and not the spoke of a wheel.
Every American voter or votress is allowed to keep his or her little
intellectual wind-mill, coffee-mill, pepper-mill, loom, steam-engine,
hand-organ, or whatever moral manufacturing or grinding apparatus he or
she likes. Each one may be his own Church or his own State, and yet be
none the less a good and useful citizen, and the union of the States be
in none the more danger. But it is not so in Grindwell. The rules of
the Grindwell machine allow no one to do his own grinding, unless his
mill-wheel is turned by the central governing power. He must allow the
big State machine to do everything,--he paying for it, of course. A
regular programme prescribes what he shall believe and say and do; and
any departure from this order is considered a violation of the laws, or
at least a reprehensible invasion of the time-honored customs of the

The Grindwell Governing Machine (though a patent has been taken out for
it in Europe, and it is thought everything of by royal heads and the
gilded flies that buzz about them) is really an old machine, nearly worn
out, and every now and then patched up and painted and varnished anew.
If a committee of our knowing Yankees were sent over to gain information
with regard to its actual condition, I am inclined to think they would
bring back a curious and not very favorable report. It wouldn't astonish
me, if they should pronounce the whole apparatus of the State rotten
from top to bottom, and only kept from falling to pieces by all sorts
of ingenious contrivances of an external and temporary nature,--here a
wheel, or pivot, or spring to be replaced,--there a prop or buttress to
be set up,--here a pipe choked up,--there a boiler burst,--and so on,
from one end of the works to the other. However, the machine keeps
a-going, and many persons think it works beautifully.

Everything is reduced to such perfect system in its operations, that the
necessity for individual opinion is almost superseded, and even
private consciences are laid upon the shelf,--just as people lay by an
antiquated timepiece that no winding-up or shaking can persuade into
marking the hours,--for have they not the clock on the Government
railroad station opposite, which they can at any time consult by
stepping to the window? For instance, individual honesty is set aside
and replaced by a system of rewards and punishments. Honesty is an
old-fashioned coat. The police, like a great sponge, absorbs the private
virtue. It says to conscience, "Stay there,--don't trouble yourself,--I
will act for you."

You drop your purse in the street. A rogue picks it up. In his private
conscience he says, "Honesty is a very good thing, perhaps, but it is by
no means the best policy,--it is simply no policy at all,--it is sheer
stupidity. What can be more politic than for me to pocket this windfall
and turn the corner quick?"--So preacheth his crooked fag-end of a
conscience, that _very, very_ small still voice, in very husky tones;
but he knows that a policeman, walking behind him, saw him pick up the
purse, which alters the case,--which, in fact, completely sets aside his
fag-end of a husky-voiced conscience, and makes virtue his necessity,
and necessity his virtue. External morality is hastily drawn on as
a decent overcoat to hide the tag-rags of his roguishness, while he
magnanimously restores the purse to the owner.

Jones left his umbrella in a cab one night. Discovering that he hadn't
it under his arm, he rushed after the cabman; but he was gone. Jones
had his number, however, and with it proceeded the next day to the
police-office, feeling sure that he would find his umbrella there. And
there, in a closet appropriated to articles left in hackney-coaches,--a
perfect limbo of canes, parasols, shawls, pocket-books, and
what-not,--he found it, ticketed and awaiting its lawful owner. The
explanation of which mystery is, that the cabmen in Grindwell are
strictly amenable to the police for any departure from the system which
provides for the security of private property, and a yearly reward is
given to those of the coach-driving fraternity who prove to be the most
faithful restorers of articles left in their carriages. Surely, the
result of system can no farther go than this,--that Monsieur Vaurien's
moral sense, like his opinions, should be absorbed and overruled by the
governing powers.

What a capital thing it is to have the great governmental head and
heart thinking and feeling for us! Why, even the little boys, on winter
afternoons, are restricted by the policemen from sliding on the ice
in the streets, for fear the impetuous little fellows should break or
dislocate some of their bones, and the hospital might have the expense
of setting them; so patriarchal a regard has the machine for its young

I might allude here to a special department of the machine, which once
had great power in overruling the thoughts and consciences of the
people, and which is still considered by some as not altogether
powerless. I refer to the Ecclesiastic department of the Grindwell
works. This was formerly the greatest labor-saving machinery ever
invented. But however powerful the operation of the Church machinery
upon the grandmothers and grandfathers of the modern Grindwellites, it
has certainly fallen greatly into disuse, and is kept a-going now more
for the sake of appearances than for any real efficacy. The most knowing
ones think it rather old-fashioned and cumbrous,--at any rate, not
comparable to the State machinery, either in its design or its mode of
operation. And as in these days of percussion-caps and Minie rifles
we lay by an old matchlock or crossbow, using it only to ornament our
walls,--or as the powdered postilion with his horn and his boots is
superseded by the locomotive and the electric telegraph,--so the old
rusty Church wheels are removed into buildings apart from the daily life
of the people, where they seem to revolve harmlessly and without any
necessary connection with the State wheels.

Not that I mean to say that it works smoothly and well at all
times,--this Grindwell machine. How can such an old patched and
crumbling apparatus be expected always to work well? And how can you
hope to find, even in the most enslaved or routine-ridden community,
entire obedience to the will of the monarch and his satellites?
Unfortunately for the cause of order and quiet, there will always be
found certain tough lumps, in the shape of rebellious or non-conformist
men, which refuse to be melted in the strong solvents or ground up
in the swift mills of Absolutism. Government must look after these
impediments. If they are positively dangerous, they must be destroyed or
removed. If only suspected, or known to be powerless or inactive, they
must at least be watched.

And here, again, the machine of government shows a remarkable ingenuity
of organization.

For instance, it is said that there are pipes laid all along the
streets, like hose, leading from a central reservoir. Nobody knows
exactly what they are for; but if any one steps upon them, up spirts
something like a stream of gas, and takes the form of a _gendarme_,--and
the unlucky street-walker must pay dear for his carelessness. Telegraph
wires radiate like cobwebs from the chamber of the main-spring, and
carry intelligence of all that is going on in the houses and streets.
Man-traps are laid under the pavements,--sometimes they are secretly
introduced under your very table or bed,--and if anything is said
against that piece of machinery called the main-spring, or against the
head engineer, the trap will nab you and fly away with you, like the
spider that carried off Margery Mopp. If a number of people get together
to discuss the meaning of and the reasons for the existence of the
main-spring, or any of the big wheels immediately connected therewith,
the ground under them will sometimes give way, and they will suddenly
find themselves in unfurnished apartments not to their liking. And if
any one should be so rash as to put his hand on the wheels, he is cut to
pieces or strangled by the silent, incessant, fatal whirl of the engine.

The head engineer keeps his machine, and the city on which it acts, as
much in the dark as possible. He has a special horror of sunshine.
He seems to think that the sky is one great burning lens, and his
machine-rooms and the city a vast powder-magazine.

There are certain articles thought to be especially dangerous.
Newspapers are strictly forbidden,--unless first steeped in a tincture
of asbestos of a very dull color, expressly manufactured and supplied
by the Governing Machine. When properly saturated with the essence of
dulness and death, and brought down from a glaring white and black to a
decidedly ashy-gray neutral color, a few small newspapers are permitted
to be circulated, but with the greatest caution. They sometimes take
fire, it is said,--these journals,--when brought too near any brain
overcharged with electricity. Two or three times, it is said, the
Governing Machine has been put out of order by the newspapers and their
readers bringing too much electro-magnetism (or something like it) to
bear on parts of the works;--the machine had even taken fire and been
nearly burnt up, and the head engineer got so singed that he never dared
to take the management of the works again.

So it is thought that nothing is so unfavorable to the working of the
wheels as light, heat, electricity, magnetism, and, generally, all the
imponderable and uncatchable essences that float about in the air; and
these, it is thought, are generated and diffused by these villanous
newspapers. Certain kinds of books are also forbidden, as being electric
conductors. Most of the books allowed in the city of Grindwell are so
heavy, that they are thought to be usually non-conductors, and therefore
quite safe in the hands of the people.

It is at the city gates that most vigilance is required with regard to
the prohibited articles. There the poor fellows who keep the gates have
no rest night or day,--so many suspicious-looking boxes, bundles, bales,
and barrels claim admittance. Quantities of articles are arrested and
prevented from entering. Nothing that can in any way interfere with the
great machine can come in. Newspapers and books from other countries
are torn and burnt up. Speaking-trumpets, ear-trumpets, spectacles,
microscopes, spy-glasses, telescopes, and, generally, all instruments
and contrivances for extending the sphere of ordinary knowledge, are
very narrowly examined before they are admitted. The only trumpets
freely allowed are of a musical sort, fit to amuse the people,--the
only spectacles, green goggles to keep out the glare of truth's
sunshine,--the magnifying-glasses, those which exaggerate the
proportions of the imperial governor of the machinery. All sorts of
moral lightning-rods and telegraph-wires are arrested, and lie in great
piles outside the city walls.

But in spite of the utmost vigilance and care of the officers at the
gates and the sentinels on the thick walls, dangerous articles and
dangerous people will pass in. A man like Kossuth or Mazzini going
through would produce such a current of the electric fluid, that the
machine would be in great danger of combustion. Remonstrances were
sometimes sent to neighboring cities, to the effect that they should
keep their light and heat to themselves, and not be throwing such strong
_reflections_ into the weak eyes of the Grindwellites, and putting in
danger the governmental powder-magazine,--as the machine-offices were
sometimes called. An inundation or bad harvest, producing a famine among
the poor, causes great alarm, and the government officers have a time of
it, running about distributing alms, or raising money to keep down the
price of bread. Thousands of servants in livery, armed with terrific
instruments for the destruction of life, are kept standing on and around
the walls of the city, ready at a moment's notice to shoot down any one
who makes any movement or demonstration in a direction contrary to
the laws of the machine. And to support this great crowd of liveried
lackeys, the people are squeezed like sponges, till they furnish the
necessary money.

The respectable editors of the daily papers go about somewhat as the
dogs do in August, with muzzles on their mouths. They are prohibited
from printing more than a hundred words a day. Any reference to the
sunshine, or to any of the subtile and imponderable substances before
mentioned, is considered contrary to the order of the machine; to
compensate for which, there is great show of gaslight (under glass
covers) throughout the city. Gas and moonshine are the staple subjects
of conversation. Besides lighting the streets and shops, the chief
use of fire seems to be for cooking, lighting pipes and cigars, and
fireworks to amuse the working classes.

Great attention is paid to polishing and beautifying the outer case of
the machine, and the outer surface generally of the city of Grindwell.
Where any portion of the framework has fallen into dilapidation and
decay, the gaunt skeleton bones of the ruined structure are decked and
covered with leaves and flowers. Old rusty boilers that are on the verge
of bursting are newly painted, varnished, and labelled with letters
of gold. The main-spring, which has grown old and weak, is said to be
helped by the secret application of steam,--and the fires are fed with
huge bundles of worthless bank-bills and other paper promises. The noise
of the clanking piston and wheels is drowned by orchestras of music;
the roofs and sides of the machine buildings are covered all over with
roses; and the smell of smoke and machine oil is prevented by scattering
delicious perfumes. The minds of the populace are turned from the
precarious condition of things by all sorts of public amusements, such
as mask balls, theatres, operas, public gardens, etc.

But all this does not preserve some persons from the continual
apprehension that there will be one day a great and terrific explosion.
Some say the city is sleeping over volcanic fires, which will sooner or
later burst up from below and destroy or change the whole upper surface.
The actual state of things might be represented on canvas by a gaping,
laughing crowd pressing around a Punch-and-Judy exhibition in the
street, beneath a great ruined palace in the process of repairing, where
the rickety scaffolding, the loose stones and mortar, and in fact the
whole rotten building, may at any moment topple down upon their heads.

But while such grave thoughts are passing in the minds of some people, I
must relate one or two amusing scenes which lately occurred at the city

Travellers are not prohibited from going and coming; but on entering, it
is necessary to be sure that they bring with their passports and baggage
no prohibited or dangerous articles. A young man from our side of the
Atlantic, engaged in commerce, had been annoyed a good deal by the
gate-officers opening and searching his baggage. The next time he went
to Grindwell, he brought, besides his usual trunks and carpet-bags, a
rather large and very mysterious-looking box. After going through with
the trunks and bags, the officers took hold of this box.

"Gentlemen," said the young practical joker, "I have great objections
to having that box opened. Yet it contains, I assure you, nothing
contraband, nothing dangerous to the peace of the Grindwell government
or people. It is simply a toy I am taking to a friend's house as a
Christmas present to his little boy. If I open it, I fear I shall have
difficulty in arranging it again as neatly as I wish,--and it would be a
great disappointment to my little friend Auguste Henri, if he should not
find it neatly packed. It would show at once that it had been opened;
and children like to have their presents done up nicely, just as they
issued from the shop. Gentlemen, I shall take it as a great favor, if
you will let it pass."

"Sir," said the head officer, "it is impossible to grant the favor you
ask. The government is very strict. Many prohibited articles have lately
found their way in. We are determined to put a stop to it."

"Gentlemen," said the young man, "take hold of that box,--lift it. You
see how light it is; you see that there can be no contraband goods
there,--still less, anything dangerous. I pray you to let it pass."

"Impossible, Sir!" said the officer. "How do I know that there is
nothing dangerous there? The weight is nothing. Its lightness rather
makes it the more suspicious. Boxes like this are usually heavy. This is
something out of the usual course. I'm afraid there's electricity here.
Gentlemen officers, proceed to do your duty!"

So a crowd of custom-house officers gathered around the suspected box,
with their noses bent down over the lid, awaiting the opening. One of
them was about to proceed with hammer and chisel.

"Stop," said the young merchant, "I can save you a great deal of
trouble. I can open it in an instant. Allow me--by touching a little
spring here"--

As he said this, he pressed a secret spring on the side of the box.
No sooner was it done than, the lid was thrown back with sudden and
tremendous violence, as if by some living force, and up jumped a hideous
and shaggy monster which knocked the six custom-house officers flat on
their backs. It was an enormous Punchinello on springs, who had been
confined in the box like the Genie in the Arabian story, and by the
broad grin on his face he seemed delighted with his liberty and his
triumph over his inquisitors. The six officers lay stunned by the blow;
and while others ran up to see what was the matter, the young traveller
persuaded Mr. Punch back again into his box, and, shutting him down,
took advantage of the confusion to carry it off with the rest of his
baggage, and reach a cab in safety. When the officers recovered their
senses, the practical joker had escaped into the crowded city. They
could give no clear account of what had happened; but I verily believe
they thought that Lucifer himself had knocked them down, and was now let
loose in the city of Grindwell.

Another amusing incident occurred afterwards at the city gates. An
American lady, who was a great lover of Art, had purchased a bronze bust
of Plato somewhere on the Continent. She had it carefully boxed, and
took it along with her baggage. She got on very well until she reached
the city of Grindwell. Here she was stopped, of course, and her baggage
examined. Finding nothing contraband, they were about to let her pass,
when they came to the box containing the ancient philosopher's head.

"What's this?" they asked. "What's in this box, so heavy?"

"A bust," said the lady.

"A bust? so heavy? a bust in a lady's baggage?--Impossible!"

"I assure you, it is nothing but a bust."

"Pray, whose bust may it be, Madam?"

"The bust of Plato."

"Plato? Plato? Who's Plato? Is he an Italian?"

"He was a Greek philosopher."

"Why is it so heavy?"

"It is a bronze bust."

"We beg your pardon, Madam; but we fear there's something wrong here.
This Plato may be a conspirator,--a Carbonaro,--a member of some secret
society,--a red-republican,--a conductor of the electric fluid. How can
we answer for this Plato? We don't like this heavy box;--these very
heavy boxes are suspicious. Suppose it should be some infernal-machine.
Madam, we have our doubts. This box must be detained till full inquiries
are made."

There was no help for it. The box was detained. "It must be so, Plato!"
After waiting several hours, it was brought forward in presence of the
entire company of inquisitors, and cautiously opened. Seeing no Plato,
but only some sawdust, they grew still more suspicious. Having placed
the box on the ground, they all retired to a safe distance, as if
awaiting some explosion. They evidently took it for an infernal-machine.
In their eyes everything was a machine of some sort or other. After
waiting some time, and finding that it didn't burst, nor emit even
a smell of sulphur, the boldest man of the party approached it very
cautiously, and upset it with his foot and ran.

All this while the lady and her friends stood by, silent spectators
of this farce. The only danger of explosion was on their part, with
laughter at the whole scene. They contrived, however, to keep their
countenances, though less rigidly than the Greek philosopher in the box
did his.

When the custom-house officials found, that, though the box was upset,
nothing occurred, they grew more bold, and, approaching, saw a piece of
the bronze head peering above the sawdust. Then, for the first time,
they began to feel ashamed of themselves. So replacing the sawdust and
the cover, they allowed the box to pass into the city, and tried, by
avoiding to speak of the affair among themselves, to forget what donkeys
they had been.

The Grindwell government has many such alarms, and never appears
entirely at its ease. It is fully aware of the combustible nature of the
component parts of the Governing Machine. There is consequently great
outlay of means to insure its safety. An immense number of public spies
and functionaries are constantly employed in looking after the fires and
lights about the city. Heavy restrictions are laid on all substances
containing electricity, and great care is taken lest this subtile fluid
should condense in spots and take the form of lightning. Fortunately,
the unclouded sunshine seldom comes into Grindwell, else there would be
the same fears with regard to light.

So long as this perpetual surveillance is kept up, the machine seems to
work on well enough in the main; but the moment there is any remissness
on the part of the police,--bang! goes a small explosion somewhere,--or,
crack! a bit of the machinery,--and out rush the engineers with their
bags of cotton-wool or tow to stop up the chinks, or their bundles of
paper money to keep up the steam, or their buckets of oil and _soft
soap_ to pour upon the wheels.

One eccentric gentleman of my acquaintance persists in predicting
that any day there may be a general blow-up, and the whole concern,
engineers, financiers, priests, soldiers, and flunkies, all go to smash.
He evidently wishes to see it, though, as far as personal comfort goes,
one would rather be out of the way at such a time.

Most people seem to think, that, considering all things, the present
head engineer is about the best man that could be found for the post he
occupies. There are, however, a number of the Grindwell people--I can't
say how many, for they are afraid to speak--who feel more and more that
they are living in a stifled and altogether abnormal condition, and wish
for an indefinite supply of the light, heat, air, and electricity which
they see some of the neighboring cities enjoying.

What the result is to be no one can yet tell. We are such stuff as
dreams are made of, and our little life is rounded with--_a crust_;
some say, a very thin crust, such as might be got up by a skilful
_patissier_, and over which gilded court-flies, and even _scaraboei_,
may crawl with safety, but--which must inevitably cave in beneath the
boot-heels of a real, true, thinking man. We cannot forget that there
are measureless catacombs and caverns yawning beneath the streets and
houses of modern Grindwell.


Ever since the time of that dyspeptic heathen, Plotinus, the saints have
been "ashamed of their bodies." What is worse, they have usually had
reason for the shame. Of the four famous Latin fathers, Jerome describes
his own limbs as misshapen, his skin as squalid, his bones as scarcely
holding together; while Gregory the Great speaks in his Epistles of his
own large size, as contrasted with his weakness and infirmities.
Three of the four Greek fathers--Chrysostom, Basil, and Gregory of
Nazianzen--ruined their health early, and were wretched invalids for the
remainder of their days. Three only of the whole eight were able-bodied
men,--Ambrose, Augustine, and Athanasius; and the permanent influence of
these three has been far greater, for good or for evil, than that of all
the others put together.

Robust military saints there have doubtless been, in the Roman Catholic
Church: George, Michael, Sebastian, Eustace, Martin,--not to mention
Hubert the Hunter, and Christopher the Christian Hercules. But these
have always held a very secondary place in canonization. If we mistake
not, Maurice and his whole Theban legion were sainted together, to the
number of six thousand six hundred and sixty-six; doubtless they were
stalwart men, but there never yet has been a chapel erected to one of
them. The mediaeval type of sanctity was a strong soul in a weak body;
and it could be intensified either by strengthening the one or by
further debilitating the other. The glory lay in contrast, not in
combination. Yet, to do them justice, they conceded a strong and stately
beauty to their female saints,--Catherine, Agnes, Agatha, Barbara,
Cecilia, and the rest. It was reserved for the modern Pre-Raphaelites to
attempt the combination of a maximum of saintliness with a minimum of
pulmonary and digestive capacity.

But, indeed, from that day to this, the saints by spiritual laws have
usually been sinners against physical laws, and the artists have merely
followed the examples they found. Vasari records, that Carotto's
masterpiece of painting, "The Three Archangels," at Verona, was
criticized because the limbs of the angels were too slender, and
Carotto, true to his conventional standard, replied, "Then they will fly
the better." Saints have been flying to heaven for the same reason ever
since,--and have commonly flown very early.

Indeed, the earlier some such saints cast off their bodies the better,
they make so little use of them. Chittagutta, the Buddhist saint,
dwelt in a cave in Ceylon. His devout visitors one day remarked on the
miraculous beauty of the legendary paintings, representing scenes from
the life of Buddha, which adorned the walls. The holy man informed them,
that, during his sixty years' residence in the cave, he had been too
much absorbed in meditation to notice the existence of the paintings,
but he would take their word for it. And in this non-intercourse with
the visible world there has been an apostolical succession, from
Chittagutta, down to the Andover divinity-student who refused to join
his companions in their admiring gaze on that wonderful autumnal
landscape which spreads itself before the Seminary Hill in October, but
marched back into the Library, ejaculating, "Lord, turn thou mine eyes
from beholding vanity!"

It is to be reluctantly recorded, in fact, that the Protestant saints
have not ordinarily had much to boast of, in physical stamina, as
compared with the Roman Catholic. They have not got far beyond Plotinus.
We do not think it worth while to quote Calvin on this point, for he, as
everybody knows, was an invalid for his whole lifetime. But we do take
it hard, that the jovial Luther, in the midst of his ale and skittles,
should have deliberately censured Juvenal's _mens sana in corpore sano_,
as a pagan maxim!

If Saint Luther fails us, where are the advocates of the body to look
for comfort? Nothing this side of ancient Greece, we fear, will afford
adequate examples of the union of saintly souls and strong bodies.
Pythagoras the sage we doubt not to have been identical with Pythagoras
the inventor of pugilism, and he was, at any rate, (in the loving words
of Bentley,) "a lusty proper man, and built as it were to make a good
boxer." Cleanthes, whose sublime "Prayer" is, to our thinking, the
highest strain left of early piety, was a boxer likewise. Plato was a
famous wrestler, and Socrates was unequalled for his military
endurance. Nor was one of these, like their puny follower Plotinus, too
weak-sighted to revise his own manuscripts.

It would be tedious to analyze the causes of this modern deterioration
of the saints. The fact is clear. There is in the community an
impression that physical vigor and spiritual sanctity are incompatible.
We knew a young Orthodox divine who lost his parish by swimming the
Merrimac River, and another who was compelled to ask a dismissal in
consequence of vanquishing his most influential parishioner in a game
of ten-pins; it seemed to the beaten party very unclerical. We further
remember a match, in a certain sea-side bowling-alley, in which two
brothers, young divines, took part. The sides being made up, with the
exception of these two players, it was necessary to find places for
them also. The head of one side accordingly picked his man, on the
presumption (as he afterwards confessed) that the best preacher would
naturally be the worst bowler. The athletic capacity, he thought, would
be in inverse ratio to the sanctity. We are happy to add, that in this
case his hopes were signally disappointed. But it shows which way the
popular impression lies.

The poets have probably assisted In maintaining the delusion. How many
cases of consumption Wordsworth must have accelerated by his assertion,
that "the good die first"! Happily, he lived to disprove his own maxim.
We, too, repudiate it utterly. Professor Peirce has proved by statistics
that the best scholars in our colleges survive the rest; and we hold
that virtue, like intellect, tends to longevity. The experience of the
literary class shows that all excess is destructive, and that we need
the harmonious action of all the faculties. Of the brilliant roll of the
"young men of 1830," in Paris,--Balzac, Soulie, De Musset, De Bernard,
Sue, and their compeers,--it is said that nearly every one has already
perished, in the prime of life. What is the explanation? A stern one:
opium, tobacco, wine, and licentiousness. "All died of softening of the
brain or spinal marrow, or swelling of the heart." No doubt, many of
the noble and the pure were dying prematurely at the same time; but it
proceeded from the same essential cause: physical laws disobeyed and
bodies exhausted. The evil is, that what in the debauchee is condemned,
as suicide, is lauded in the devotee, as saintship. The _delirium
tremens_ of the drunkard conveys scarcely a sterner moral lesson than
the second childishness of the pure and abstemious Southey.

But, happily, times change, and saints with them. Our moral conceptions
are expanding to take in that "athletic virtue" of the Greeks, [Greek:
apetae gimnastikae] which Dr. Arnold, by precept and practice, defended.
The modern English "Broad Church" aims at breadth of shoulders, as well
as of doctrines. Kingsley paints his stalwart Philammons and Amyas
Leighs, and his critics charge him with laying down a new definition of
the saint, as a man who fears God and can walk a thousand miles in a
thousand hours. Our American saintship, also, is beginning to have
a body to it, a "Body of Divinity," indeed. Look at our three great
popular preachers. The vigor of the paternal blacksmith still swings the
sinewy arm of Beecher; Parker performed the labors, mental and physical,
of four able-bodied men, until even his great strength temporarily
yielded;--and if ever dyspepsia attack the burly frame of Chapin, we
fancy that dyspepsia will get the worst of it.

This is as it should be. One of the most potent causes of the
ill-concealed alienation between the clergy and the people, in our
community, is the supposed deficiency, on the part of the former, of
a vigorous, manly life. It must be confessed that our saints suffer
greatly from this moral and physical _anhaemia_, this bloodlessness,
which separates them, more effectually than a cloister, from the strong
life of the age. What satirists upon religion are those parents who say
of their pallid, puny, sedentary, lifeless, joyless little offspring,
"He is born for a minister," while the ruddy, the brave, and the
strong are as promptly assigned to a secular career! Never yet did an
ill-starred young saint waste his Saturday afternoons in preaching
sermons in the garret to his deluded little sisters and their dolls,
without living to repent it in maturity. These precocious little
sentimentalists wither away like blanched potato-plants in a cellar;
and then comes some vigorous youth from his out-door work or play, and
grasps the rudder of the age, as he grasped the oar, the bat, or the
plough-handle. We distrust the achievements of every saint without a
body; and really have hopes of the Cambridge Divinity School, since
hearing that it has organized a boat-club.

We speak especially of men, but the same principles apply to women.
The triumphs of Rosa Bonheur and Harriet Hosmer grew out of a free and
vigorous training, and they learned to delineate muscle by using it.

Everybody admires the physical training of military and naval schools.
But these same persons never seem to imagine that the body is worth
cultivating for any purpose, except to annihilate the bodies of others.
Yet it needs more training to preserve life than to destroy it. The
vocation of a literary man is far more perilous than that of a frontier
dragoon. The latter dies at most but once, by an Indian bullet; the
former dies daily, unless he be warned in time and take occasional
refuge in the saddle and the prairie with the dragoon. What battle-piece
is so pathetic as Browning's "Grammarian's Funeral"? Do not waste your
gymnastics on the West Point or Annapolis student, whose whole life will
be one of active exercise, but bring them into the professional schools
and the counting-rooms. Whatever may be the exceptional cases, the stern
truth remains, that the great deeds of the world can be more easily done
by illiterate men than by sickly ones. Wisely said Horace Mann, "All
through the life of a pure-minded but feeble-bodied man, his path is
lined with memory's gravestones, which mark the spots where noble
enterprises perished, for lack of physical vigor to embody them in
deeds." And yet more eloquently it has been said by a younger American
thinker, (D.A. Wasson,) "Intellect in a weak body is like gold in
a spent swimmer's pocket,--the richer he would be, under other
circumstances, by so much the greater his danger now."

Of course, the mind has immense control over physical endurance, and
every one knows that among soldiers, sailors, emigrants, and woodsmen,
the leaders, though more delicately nurtured, will often endure hardship
better than the followers,--"because," says Sir Philip Sidney, "they are
supported by the great appetites of honor." But for all these triumphs
of nervous power a reaction lies in store, as in the case of the
superhuman efforts often made by delicate women. And besides, there is
a point beyond which no mental heroism can ignore the body,--as, for
instance, in seasickness and toothache. Can virtue arrest consumption,
or self-devotion set free the agonized breath of asthma, or heroic
energy defy paralysis? More formidable still are those subtle results
of disease, which cannot be resisted, because their source is unseen.
Voltaire declared that the fate of a nation had often depended on the
good or bad digestion of a prime-minister; and Motley holds that the
gout of Charles V. changed the destinies of the world.

But so blinded, on these matters, is our accustomed mode of thought,
that Mr. Beecher's recent lecture on the Laws of Nature has been met
with strong objections from a portion of the religious press. These
newspapers agree in asserting that admiration of physical strength
belonged to the barbarous ages of the world. So it certainly did, and so
much the better for those ages. They had that one merit, at least; and
so surely as an exclusively intellectual civilization ignored it, the
arm of some robust barbarian prostrated that civilization at last. What
Sismondi says of courage is preeminently true of that bodily vigor which
it usually presupposes: that, although it is by no means the first
of virtues, its loss is more fatal than that of all others. "Were it
possible to unite the advantages of a perfect government with the
cowardice of a whole people, those advantages would be utterly
valueless, since they would be utterly without security."

Physical health is a necessary condition of all permanent success. To
the American people it has a stupendous importance because it is the
only attribute of power in which they are losing ground. Guaranty
us against physical degeneracy, and we can risk all other
perils,--financial crises, Slavery, Romanism, Mormonism, Border
Ruffians, and New York assassins; "domestic malice, foreign levy,
nothing" can daunt us. Guaranty us health, and Mrs. Stowe cannot
frighten us with all the prophecies of Dred; but when her sister
Catherine informs us that in all the vast female acquaintance of the
Beecher family there are not a dozen healthy women, we confess ourselves
a little tempted to despair of the republic.

The one drawback to satisfaction in our Public-School System is the
physical weakness which it reveals and helps to perpetuate. One seldom
notices a ruddy face in the school-room, without tracing it back to a
Transatlantic origin. The teacher of a large school in Canada went so
far as to declare to us, that she could recognize the children born this
side the line by their invariable appearance of ill-health joined with
intellectual precocity,--stamina wanting, and the place supplied by
equations. Look at a class of boys or girls in our Grammar Schools; a
glance along the line of their backs affords a study of geometrical
curves. You almost long to reverse the position of their heads, as Dante
has those of the false prophets, and thus improve their figures; the
rounded shoulders affording a vigorous chest, and the hollow chest an
excellent back.

There are statistics to show that the average length of human life is
increasing; but it is probable that this results from the diminution
of epidemic diseases, rather than from any general improvement in
_physique_. There are facts also to indicate an increase of size and
strength with advancing civilization. It is known that two men of middle
size were unable to find a suit of armor large enough among the sixty
sets owned by Sir Samuel Meyrick. It is also known that the strongest
American Indians cannot equal the average strength of wrist of
Europeans, or rival them in ordinary athletic feats. Indeed, it is
generally supposed that any physical deterioration is local, being
peculiar to the United States. Recently, however, we have read, with
great regret, in the "Englishwoman's Review," that "it is allowed by
all, that the appearance of the English peasant, in the present day,
is very different to [from] what it was fifty years ago; the robust,
healthy, hard-looking countrywoman or girl is as rare now as the pale,
delicate, nervous female of our times would have been a century ago."
And the writer proceeds to give alarming illustrations, based upon the
appearance of children in English schools, both in city and country.

We cannot speak for England, but certainly no one can visit Canada
without being struck with the spectacle of a more athletic race of
people than our own. On every side one sees rosy female faces and noble
manly figures. In the shop-windows, in winter weather, hang snow-shoes,
"gentlemen's and ladies' sizes." The street-corners inform you that the
members of the "Curling Club" are to meet to-day at "Dolly's," and the
"Montreal Fox-hounds" at St. Lawrence Hall to-morrow. And next day
comes off the annual steeple-chase, at the "Mile-End Course," ridden by
gentlemen of the city with their own horses; a scene, by the way, whose
exciting interest can scarcely be conceived by those accustomed only
to "trials of speed" at agricultural exhibitions. Everything indicates
out-door habits and athletic constitutions.

We are aware that we may be met with the distinction between a good idle
constitution and a good working constitution,--the latter of which often
belongs to persons who make no show of physical powers. But this only
means that there are different temperaments and types of physical
organization, while, within the limits of each, the distinction between
a healthy and a diseased condition still holds; and we insist on that

Still more specious is the claim of the Fourth-of-July orators, that,
health or no health, it is the sallow Americans, and not the robust
English, who are really leading the world. But this, again, is a
question of temperaments. The Englishman concedes the greater intensity,
but prefers a more solid and permanent power. It is the noble masonry
and vast canals of Montreal, against the Aladdin's palaces of Chicago.
"I observe," admits the Englishman, "that an American can accomplish
more, at a single effort, than any other man on earth; but I also
observe that he exhausts himself in the achievement. Kane, a delicate
invalid, astounds the world by his two Arctic winters,--and then dies in
tropical Cuba." The solution is simple; nervous energy is grand, and so
is muscular power; combine the two, and you move the world.

We shall assume, as admitted, therefore, the deficiency of physical
health in America, and the need of a great amendment. But into the
general question of cause and cure we do not propose to enter. In view
of the vast variety of special theories, and the inadequacy of any one,
(or any dozen,) we shall forbear. To our thinking, the best diagnosis
of the universal American disease is to be found in Andral's
famous description of the cholera: "Anatomical characteristics,
insufficient;--cause, mysterious;--nature, hypothetical;--symptoms,
characteristic;--diagnosis, easy;--_treatment, very doubtful_."

Every man must have his hobby, however, and it is a great deal to ride
only one hobby at a time. For the present we disavow all minor ones.
We forbear giving our pet arguments in defence of animal food, and in
opposition to tobacco, coffee, and india-rubbers. We will not criticize
the old-school physician whom we once knew, who boasted of not having
performed a thorough ablution for twenty-five years; nor will we
question the physiological orthodoxy of Miss Sedgwick's New England
artist, who represented the Goddess of Health with a pair of flannel
drawers on. Still less should we think of debating (or of tasting)
Kennedy's Medical Discovery, or R.R.R., or the Cow Pepsin. We know our
aim, and will pursue it with a single eye.

"The wise for cure on _exercise_ depend,"

saith Dryden,--and that is our hobby.

A great physician has said, "I know not which is most indispensable
for the support of the frame,--food or exercise." But who, in this
community, really takes exercise? Even the mechanic commonly confines
himself to one set of muscles; the blacksmith acquires strength in his
right arm, and the dancing-master in his left leg. But the professional
or business man, what muscles has he at all? The tradition, that
Phidippides ran from Athens to Sparta, one hundred and twenty miles, in
two days, seems to us Americans as mythical as the Golden Fleece. Even
to ride sixty miles in a day, to walk thirty, to run five, or to swim
one, would cost most men among us a fit of illness, and many their
lives. Let any man test his physical condition, we will not say by
sawing his own cord of wood, but by an hour in the gymnasium or at
cricket, and his enfeebled muscular apparatus will groan with rheumatism
for a week. Or let him test the strength of his arms and chest by
raising and lowering himself a few times upon a horizontal bar, or
hanging by the arms to a rope, and he will probably agree with Galen
in pronouncing it _robustum validumque laborem_. Yet so manifestly are
these things within the reach of common constitutions, that a few weeks
or months of judicious practice will renovate his whole system, and the
most vigorous exercise will refresh him like a cold bath.

To a well-regulated frame, mere physical exertion, even for an
uninteresting object, is a great enjoyment, which is, of course,
enhanced by the excitement of games and sports. To almost every man
there is joy in the memory of these things; they are the happiest
associations of his boyhood. It does not occur to him, that he also
might be as happy as a boy, if he lived more like one. What do most men
know of the "wild joys of living," the daily zest and luxury of out-door
existence, in which every healthy boy beside them revels?--skating,
while the orange sky of sunset dies away over the delicate tracery of
gray branches, and the throbbing feet pause in their tingling motion,
and the frosty air is filled with the shrill sound of distant steel,
the resounding of the ice, and the echoes up the hillsides?--sailing,
beating up against a stiff breeze, with the waves thumping under the
bow, as if a dozen sea-gods had laid their heads together to resist
it?--climbing tall trees, where the higher foliage, closing around,
cures the dizziness which began below, and one feels as if he had left a
coward beneath and found a hero above?--the joyous hour of crowded life
in football or cricket?--the gallant glories of riding, and the jubilee
of swimming?

The charm which all have found in Tom Brown's "School Days at Rugby"
lies simply in this healthy boy's-life which it exhibits, and in the
recognition of physical culture, which is so novel to Americans. At
present, boys are annually sent across the Atlantic simply for bodily
training. But efforts after the same thing begin to creep in among
ourselves. A few Normal Schools have gymnasiums (rather neglected,
however); the "Mystic Hall Female Seminary" advertises riding-horses;
and we believe the new "Concord School" recognizes boating as an
incidental;--but these are all exceptional cases, and far between.
Faint and shadowy in our memory are certain ruined structures lingering
Stonehenge-like on the Cambridge "Delta,"--and mysterious pits
adjoining, into which Freshmen were decoyed to stumble, and of which
we find that vestiges still remain. Tradition spoke of Dr. Follen
and German gymnastics; but the beneficent exotic was transplanted
prematurely, and died. The only direct encouragement of athletic
exercises which stands out in our memory of academic life was a certain
inestimable shed on the "College Wharf," which was for a brief season
the paradise of swimmers, and which, after having been deliberately
arranged for their accommodation, was suddenly removed, the next season,
to make room for coal-bins. Manly sports were not positively discouraged
in our day,--but that was all.

Yet earlier reminiscences of the same beloved Cambridge suggest deeper
gratitude. Thanks to thee, W.W.,--first pioneer, in New England, of true
classical learning,--last wielder of the old English birch,--for the
manly British sympathy which encouraged to activity the bodies, as well
as the brains, of the numerous band of boys who played beneath the
stately elms of that pleasant play-ground! Who among modern pedagogues
can show such an example of vigorous pedestrianism in his youth as thou
in thine age? and who now grants half-holidays, unasked, for no other
reason than that the skating is good and the boys must use it while it

We cling still to the belief, that the Persian _curriculum_ of
studies--to ride, to shoot, and to speak the truth--is the better part
of a boy's education. As the urchin is undoubtedly physically safer for
having learned to turn a somerset and fire a gun, perilous though these
feats appear to mothers,--so his soul is made healthier, larger, freer,
stronger, by hours and days of manly exercise and copious draughts of
open air, at whatever risk of idle habits and bad companions. Even
if the balance is sometimes lost, and play prevails, what matter? We
rejoice to have been a schoolmate of him who wrote

"The hours the idle schoolboy squandered
The man would die ere he'd forget."

Only keep in a boy a pure and generous heart, and, whether he work or
play, his time can scarcely be wasted. Which really has done most for
the education of Boston,--Dixwell and Sherwin, or Sheridan and Braman?

Should it prove, however, that the cultivation of active exercises
diminishes the proportion of time given by children to study, we can
only view it as an added advantage. Every year confirms us in the
conviction, that our schools, public and private, systematically
overtask the brains of the rising generation. We all complain that Young
America grows to mental maturity too soon, and yet we all contribute
our share to continue the evil. It is but a few weeks since we saw the
warmest praises, in the New York newspapers, of a girl's school, in that
city, where the appointed hours of study amounted to nine and a quarter
daily, and the hours of exercise to a bare unit. Almost all the
Students' Manuals assume that American students need stimulus instead
of restraint, and urge them to multiply the hours of study and diminish
those of out-door amusements and of sleep, as if the great danger did
not lie that way already. When will parents and teachers learn to regard
mental precocity as a disaster to be shunned, instead of a glory to
be coveted? We could count up a dozen young men who have graduated at
Harvard College, during the last twenty years, with high honors, before
the age of eighteen; and we suppose that nearly every one of them has
lived to regret it. "Nature," says Tissot, in his Essay on the Health of
Men of Letters, "is unable successfully to carry on two rapid processes
at the same time. We attempt a prodigy, and the result is a fool." There
was a child in Languedoc who at six years was of the size of a large
man; of course, his mind was a vacuum. On the other hand, Jean Philippe
Baratier was a learned man in his eighth year, and died of apparent old
age at twenty. Both were monstrosities, and a healthy childhood would be
equidistant from either.

One invaluable merit of out-door sports is to be found in this, that
they afford the best cement for childish friendship. Their associations
outlive all others. There is many a man, now perchance hard and worldly,
whom we love to pass in the street simply because in meeting him we
meet spring flowers and autumn chestnuts, skates and cricket-balls,
cherry-birds and pickerel. There is an indescribable fascination in
the gradual transference of these childish companionships into maturer
relations. We love to encounter in the contests of manhood those whom we
first met at football, and to follow the profound thoughts of those who
always dived deeper, even in the river, than our efforts could attain.
There is a certain governor, of whom we personally can remember only,
that he found the Fresh Pond heronry, which we sought in vain; and
in memory the august sheriff of a neighboring county still skates in
victorious pursuit of us, (fit emblem of swift-footed justice!) on the
black ice of the same lovely lake. Our imagination crowns the Cambridge
poet, and the Cambridge sculptor, not with their later laurels, but with
the willows out of which they taught us to carve whistles, shriller than
any trump of fame, in the happy days when Mount Auburn was Sweet Auburn

Luckily, boy-nature is too strong for theory. And we admit, for the sake
of truth, that physical education is not so entirely neglected among us
as the absence of popular games would indicate. We suppose, that, if the
truth were told, this last fact proceeds partly from the greater freedom
of field-sports in this country. There are few New England boys who do
not become familiar with the rod or gun in childhood. We take it, that,
in the mother country, the monopoly of land interferes with this, and
that game laws, by a sort of spontaneous pun, tend to introduce games.

Again, the practice of match-playing is opposed to our habits, both as
a consumer of time and as partaking too much of gambling. Still, it is
done in the case of "firemen's musters," which are, we believe, a wholly
indigenous institution. We have known a very few cases where the young
men of neighboring country parishes have challenged each other to games
of base-ball, as is common in England; and there was, if we mistake not,
a recent match at football between the boys of the Fall River and
the New Bedford High Schools. And within a few years regattas and
cricket-matches have become common events. Still, these public
exhibitions are far from being a full exponent of the athletic habits of
our people; and there is really more going on among us than this meagre
"pentathlon" exhibits.

Again, a foreigner is apt to infer, from the more desultory and
unsystematized character of our out-door amusements, that we are less
addicted to them than we really are. But this belongs to the habit of
our nation, impatient, to a fault, of precedents and conventionalisms.
The English-born Frank Forrester complains of the total indifference
of our sportsmen to correct phraseology. We should say, he urges, "for
large flocks of wild fowl,--of swans, a _whiteness_,--of geese, a
_gaggle_,--of brent, a _gang_,--of duck, a _team_ or a _plump_,--of
widgeon, a _trip_,--of snipes, a _wisp_,--of larks, an _exaltation_.--The
young of grouse are _cheepers_,--of quail, _squeakers_,--of
wild duck, _flappers_." And yet, careless of these proprieties,
Young America goes "gunning" to good purpose. So with all
games. A college football-player reads with astonishment Tom Brown's
description of the very complicated performance which passes under that
name at Rugby. So cricket is simplified; it is hard to organize
an American club into the conventional distribution of point and
cover-point, long slip and short slip, but the players persist in
winning the game by the most heterodox grouping. This constitutional
independence has its good and evil results, in sports as elsewhere. It
is this which has created the American breed of trotting horses, and
which won the Cowes regatta by a mainsail as flat as a board.

But, so far as there is a deficiency in these respects among us, this
generation must not shrink from the responsibility. It is unfair
to charge it on the Puritans. They are not even answerable for
Massachusetts; for there is no doubt that athletic exercises, of some
sort, were far more generally practised in this community before the
Revolution than at present. A state of almost constant Indian warfare
then created an obvious demand for muscle and agility. At present there
is no such immediate necessity. And it has been supposed that a race of
shopkeepers, brokers, and lawyers could live without bodies. Now that
the terrible records of dyspepsia and paralysis are disproving this, we
may hope for a reaction in favor of bodily exercises. And when we once
begin the competition, there seems no reason why any other nation should
surpass us. The wide area of our country, and its variety of surface and
shore, offer a corresponding range of physical training. Take our coasts
and inland waters alone. It is one thing to steer a pleasure-boat with a
rudder, and another to steer a dory with an oar; one thing to paddle a
birch-canoe, and another to paddle a ducking-float; in a Charles River
club-boat, the post of honor is in the stern,--in a Penobscot _bateau_,
in the bow; and each of these experiences educates a different set of
muscles. Add to this the constitutional American receptiveness, which
welcomes new pursuits without distinction of origin,--unites German
gymnastics with English sports and sparring, and takes the red Indians
for instructors in paddling and running. With these various aptitudes,
we certainly ought to become a nation of athletes.

We have shown, that, in one way or another, American schoolboys obtain
active exercise. The same is true, in a very limited degree, even
of girls. They are occasionally, in our larger cities, sent to
gymnasiums,--the more the better. Dancing-schools are better than
nothing, though all the attendant circumstances are usually unfavorable.
A fashionable young lady is estimated to traverse her three hundred
miles a season on foot; and this needs training. But out-door exercise
for girls is terribly restricted, first by their costume, and secondly
by the remarks of Mrs. Grundy. All young female animals unquestionably
require as much motion as their brothers, and naturally make as much
noise; but what mother would not be shocked, in the case of her girl of
twelve, by one-tenth part the activity and uproar which are recognized
as being the breath of life to her twin brother? Still, there is a
change going on, which is tantamount to an admission that there is an
evil to be remedied. Twenty years ago, if we mistake not, it was by no
means considered "proper" for little girls to play with their hoops
and balls on Boston Common; and swimming and skating have hardly been
recognized as "ladylike" for half that period of time.

Still it is beyond question, that far more out-door exercise is
habitually taken by the female population of almost all European
countries than by our own. In the first place, the peasant women of all
other countries (a class non-existent here) are trained to active
labor from childhood; and what traveller has not seen, on foreign
mountain-paths, long rows of maidens ascending and descending the
difficult ways, bearing heavy burdens on their heads, and winning by the
exercise such a superb symmetry and grace of figure as were a new wonder
of the world to Cisatlantic eyes? Among the higher classes, physical
exercises take the place of these things. Miss Beecher glowingly
describes a Russian female seminary in which nine hundred girls of the
noblest families were being trained by Ling's system of calisthenics,
and her informant declared that she never beheld such an array of
girlish health and beauty. Englishwomen, again, have horsemanship and
pedestrianism, in which their ordinary feats appear to our healthy women
incredible. Thus, Mary Lamb writes to Miss Wordsworth, (both ladies
being between fifty and sixty,) "You say you can walk fifteen miles with
ease; that is exactly my stint, and more fatigues me"; and then speaks
pityingly of a delicate lady who could accomplish only "four or five
miles every third or fourth day, keeping very quiet between." How few
American ladies, in the fulness of their strength, (if female strength
among us has any fulness,) can surpass this English invalid!

But even among American men, how few carry athletic habits into manhood!
The great hindrance, no doubt, is absorption in business; and we observe
that this winter's hard times and consequent leisure have given a great
stimulus to outdoor sports. But in most places there is the further
obstacle, that a certain stigma of boyishness goes with them. So early
does this begin, that we remember, in our teens, to have been slightly
reproached with juvenility, because, though a Senior Sophister, we still
clung to football. Juvenility! We only wish we had the opportunity now.
Full-grown men are, of course, intended to take not only as much, but
far more active exercise than boys. Some physiologists go so far as
to demand six hours of out-door life daily; and it is absurd in us to
complain that we have not the healthy animal happiness of children,
while we forswear their simple sources of pleasure.

Most of the exercise habitually taken by men of sedentary pursuits is
in the form of walking. We believe its merits to be greatly overrated.
Walking is to real exercise what vegetable food is to animal; it
satisfies the appetite, but the nourishment is not sufficiently
concentrated to be invigorating. It takes a man out-doors, and it uses
his muscles, and therefore of course it is good; but it is not the best
kind of good. Walking, for walking's sake, becomes tedious. We must not
ignore the _play-impulse_ in human nature, which, according to Schiller,
is the foundation of all Art. In female boarding-schools, teachers
uniformly testify to the aversion of pupils to the prescribed walk.
Give them a sled, or a pair of skates, or a row-boat, or put them on
horseback, and they will protract the period of exercise till the
teacher in turn grumbles. Put them into a gymnasium, with an efficient
teacher, and they will soon require restraint, instead of urging.

Gymnastic exercises have two disadvantages: one, in being commonly
performed under cover (though this may sometimes prove an advantage as
well); another, in requiring apparatus, and at first a teacher. These
apart, perhaps no other form of exercise is so universally invigorating.
A teacher is required, less for the sake of stimulus than of precaution.
The tendency is almost always to dare too much; and there is also need
of a daily moderation in commencing exercises; for the wise pupil will
always prefer to supple his muscles by mild exercises and calisthenics,
before proceeding to harsher performances on the bars and ladders. With
this precaution, strains are easily avoided; even with this, the hand
will sometimes blister and the body ache, but perseverance will cure the
one and Russia Salve the other; and the invigorated life in every
limb will give a perpetual charm to those seemingly aimless leaps and
somersets. The feats once learned, a private gymnasium can easily be
constructed, of the simplest apparatus, and so daily used; though
nothing can wholly supply the stimulus afforded by a class in a public
institution, with a competent teacher. In summer, the whole thing can
partially be dispensed with; but we are really unable to imagine how any
person gets through the winter happily without a gymnasium.

For the favorite in-door exercise of dumb-bells we have little to say;
they are not an enlivening performance, nor do they task a variety of
muscles,--while they are apt to strain and fatigue them, if used with
energy. Far better, for a solitary exercise, is the Indian club, a
lineal descendant of that antique one in whose handle rare medicaments
were fabled to be concealed. The modern one is simply a rounded club,
weighing from four pounds upwards, according to the strength of the
pupil; grasping a pair of these by the handles, he learns a variety of
exercises, having always before him the feats of the marvellous Mr.
Harrison, whose praise is in the "Spirit of the Times," and whose
portrait adorns the back of Dr. Trall's Gymnastics. By the latest
bulletins, that gentleman measured forty-two and a half inches round the
chest, and employed clubs weighing no less than forty-seven pounds.

It may seem to our non-resistant friends to be going rather far, if we
should indulge our saints in taking boxing lessons; yet it is not long
since a New York clergyman saved his life in Broadway by the judicious
administration of a "cross-counter" or a "flying crook," and we have
not heard of his excommunication from the Church Militant. No doubt, a
laudable aversion prevails, in this country, to the English practices of
pugilism; yet it must be remembered that sparring is, by its very name,
a "science of self-defence"; and if a gentleman wishes to know how to
hold a rude antagonist at bay, in any emergency, and keep out of an
undignified scuffle, the means are most easily afforded him by the art,
which Pythagoras founded. Apart from this, boxing exercises every muscle
in the body, and gives a wonderful quickness to eye and hand. These same
remarks apply, though in a minor degree, to fencing also.

Billiards is a graceful game, and affords, in some respects, admirable
training, but is hardly to be classed among athletic exercises. Tenpins
afford, perhaps, the most popular form of exercise among us, and have
become almost a national game, and a good one, too, so far as it goes.
The English game of bowls is less entertaining, and is, indeed, rather a
sluggish sport, though it has the merit of being played in the open air.
The severer British sports, as tennis and rackets, are scarcely more
than names, to us Americans.

Passing now to outdoor exercises, (and no one should confine himself to
in-door ones,) we hold with the Thalesian school, and rank water first.
Vishnu Sarma gives, in his apologues, the characteristics of the fit
place for a wise man to live in, and enumerates among its necessities
first "a Rajah" and then "a river." Democrats as we are, we can dispense
with the first, but not with the second. A square mile even of pond
water is worth a year's schooling to any intelligent boy. A boat is a
kingdom. We personally own one,--a mere flat-bottomed "float," with a
centre-board. It has seen service,--it is eight years old,--has spent
two winters under the ice, and been fished in by boys every day for as
many summers. It grew at last so hopelessly leaky, that even the boys
disdained it. It cost seven dollars originally, and we would not sell it
to-day for seventeen. To own the poorest boat is better than hiring the
best. It is a link to Nature; without a boat, one is so much the less a

Sailing is of course delicious; it is as good as flying to steer
anything with wings of canvas, whether one stand by the wheel of a
clipper-ship, or by the clumsy stern-oar of a "gundalow." But rowing has
also its charms; and the Indian noiselessness of the paddle, beneath the
fringing branches of the Assabeth or Artichoke, puts one into Fairyland
at once, and Hiawatha's _cheemaun_ becomes a possible possession. Rowing
is peculiarly graceful and appropriate as a feminine exercise, and any
able-bodied girl can learn to handle one light oar at the first lesson,
and two at the second; this, at least, we demand of our own pupils.

Swimming has also a birdlike charm of motion. The novel element, the
free action, the abated drapery, give a sense of personal contact
with Nature which nothing else so fully bestows. No later triumph of
existence is so fascinating, perhaps, as that in which the boy first
wins his panting way across the deep gulf that severs one green bank
from another, (ten yards, perhaps,) and feels himself thenceforward lord
of the watery world. The Athenian phrase for a man who knew nothing was,
that he could "neither read nor swim." Yet there is a vast amount of
this ignorance; the majority of sailors, it is said, cannot swim a
stroke; and in a late lake disaster, many able-bodied men perished
by drowning, in calm water, only half a mile from shore. At our
watering-places it is rare to see a swimmer venture out more than a rod
or two, though this proceeds partly from the fear of sharks,--as if
sharks of the dangerous order were not far more afraid of the rocks
than the swimmers of being eaten. But the fact of the timidity is
unquestionable; and we were told by a certain clerical frequenter of a
watering-place, himself a robust swimmer, that he had never met but two
companions who would venture boldly out with him, both being ministers,
and one a distinguished Ex-President of Brown University. We place this
fact to the credit of the bodies of our saints.

But space forbids us thus to descant on the details of all active
exercises. Riding may be left to the eulogies of Mr. N.P. Willis, and
cricket to Mr. Lillywhite's "Guide." We will only say, in passing, that
it is pleasant to see the rapid spread of clubs for the latter game,
which a few years since was practised only by a few transplanted
Englishmen and Scotchmen; and it is pleasant also to observe the twin
growth of our indigenous American game of base-ball, whose briskness
and unceasing activity are perhaps more congenial, after all, to our
national character, than the comparative deliberation of cricket.
Football, bating its roughness, is the most glorious of all games to
those whose animal life is sufficiently vigorous to enjoy it. Skating is
just at present the fashion for ladies as well as gentlemen, and needs
no apostle; the open weather of the current winter has been unusually
favorable for its practice, and it is destined to become a permanent

A word, in passing, on the literature of athletic exercises; it is too
scanty to detain us long. Five hundred books, it is estimated, have been
written on the digestive organs, but we shall not speak of half a
dozen in connection with the muscular powers. The common Physiologies
recommend exercise in general terms, but seldom venture on details;
unhappily, they are written, for the most part, by men who have already
lost their own health, and are therefore useful as warnings rather than
examples. The first real book of gymnastics printed in this country, so
far as we know, was the work of the veteran Salzmann, translated and
published in Philadelphia, in 1802, and sometimes to be met with in
libraries,--an odd, desultory book, with many good reasonings and
suggestions, and quaint pictures of youths exercising in the old German
costume. Like Dr. Follen's gymnasium, at Cambridge, it was probably
transplanted too early, and produced no effect. Next came, in 1836, the
book which is still, after twenty years, the standard, so far as it
goes,--Walker's "Manly Exercises,"--a thoroughly English book, and
needing adaptation to our habits, but full of manly vigor, and
containing good and copious directions for skating, swimming, boating,
and horsemanship. The only later general treatise worth naming is Dr.
Trall's recently published "Family Gymnasium,"--a good book, yet not
good enough. On gymnastics proper it contains scarcely anything; and the
essays on rowing, riding, and skating are so meagre, that they might
almost as well have been omitted, though that on swimming is excellent.
The main body of the book is devoted to the subject of calisthenics,
and especially to Ling's system; all this is valuable for its novelty,
although we cannot imagine how a system so tediously elaborate and so
little interesting can ever be made very useful for American pupils.
Miss Beecher has an excellent essay on calisthenics, with very useful
figures, at the end of her "Physiology." And on proper gymnastic
exercises there is a little book so full and admirable, that it
atones for the defects of all the others,--"Paul Preston's
Gymnastics,"--nominally a child's book, but so spirited and graphic,
and entering so admirably into the whole extent of the subject, that it
ought to be reprinted and find ten thousand readers.

In our own remarks, we have purposely confined ourselves to those
physical exercises which partake most of the character of sports.
Field-sports alone we have omitted, because these are so often discussed
by abler hands. Mechanical and horticultural labors lie out of our
present province. So do the walks and labors of the artist and the man
of science. The out-door study of natural history alone is a vast
field, even yet very little entered upon. In how many American towns or
villages are to be found _local collections_ of natural objects, such as
every large town in Europe affords, and without which the foundations of
thorough knowledge cannot be laid? We can scarcely point to any. We have
innumerable fragmentary and aimless "Museums,"--collections of South-Sea
shells in inland villages, and of aboriginal remains in seaport
towns,--mere curiosity-shops, which no man confers any real benefit by
collecting; while the most ignorant person may be a true benefactor
to science by forming a cabinet, however scanty, of the animal and
vegetable productions of his own township. We have often heard Professor
Agassiz lament this waste of energy, and we would urge upon all our
readers to do their share to remedy the defect, while they invigorate
their bodies by the exercise which the effort will give, and the joyous
open-air life into which it will take them.

For, after all, the secret charm of all these sports and studies is
simply this,--that they bring us into more familiar intercourse
with Nature. They give us that _vitam sub divo_ in which the Roman
exulted,--those out-door days, which, say the Arabs, are not to be
reckoned in the length of life. Nay, to a true lover of the open air,
night beneath its curtain is as beautiful as day. We personally have
camped out under a variety of auspices,--before a fire of pine logs in
the forests of Maine, beside a blaze of faya-boughs on the steep side of
a foreign volcano, and beside no fire at all, (except a possible one
of Sharp's rifles,) in that domestic volcano, Kansas; and every such
remembrance is worth many nights of indoor slumber. We never found a
week in the year, nor an hour of day or night, which had not, in
the open air, its own special beauty. We will not say, with Reade's
Australians, that the only use of a house is to sleep in the lee of it;
but there is method in even that madness. As for rain, it is chiefly
formidable indoors. Lord Bacon used to ride with uncovered head in a
shower, and loved "to feel the spirit of the universe upon his brow";
and we once knew an enthusiastic hydropathic physician who loved to
expose himself in thunder-storms at midnight, without a shred of earthly
clothing between himself and the atmosphere. Some prudent persons may
possibly regard this as being rather an extreme, while yet their own
extreme of avoidance of every breath from heaven is really the more
extravagantly unreasonable of the two.

It is easy for the sentimentalist to say, "But if the object is, after
all, the enjoyment of Nature, why not go and enjoy her, without any
collateral aim?" Because it is the universal experience of man, that, if
we have a collateral aim, we enjoy her far more. He knows not the beauty
of the universe, who has not learned the subtile mystery, that Nature
loves to work on us by _indirections_. Astronomers say, that, when
observing with the naked eye, you see a star less clearly by looking
at it, than by looking at the next one. Margaret Fuller's fine saying
touches the same point,--"Nature will not be stared at." Go out merely
to enjoy her, and it seems a little tame, and you begin to suspect
yourself of affectation. We know persons who, after years of abstinence
from athletic sports or the pursuits of the naturalist or artist, have
resumed them, simply in order to restore to the woods and the sunsets
the zest of the old fascination. Go out under pretence of shooting on
the marshes or botanizing in the forests; study entomology, that most
fascinating, most neglected of all the branches of natural history; go
to paint a red maple-leaf in autumn, or watch a pickerel-line in winter;
meet Nature on the cricket ground or at the regatta; swim with her, ride
with her, run with her, and she gladly takes you back once more within
the horizon of her magic, and your heart of manhood is born again into
more than the fresh happiness of the boy.

* * * * *


Pride that sat on the beautiful brow,
Scorn that lay in the arching lips,
Will of the oak-grain, where are ye now?
I may dare to touch her finger-tips!
Deep, flaming eyes, ye are shallow enough;
The steadiest fire burns out at last.
Throw back the shutters,--the sky is rough,
And the winds are high,--but the night is past.

Mother, I speak with the voice of a man;
Death is between us,--I stoop no more;
And yet so dim is each new-born plan,
I am feebler than ever I was before,--
Feebler than when the western hill
Faded away with its sunset gold.
Mother, your voice seemed dark and chill,
And your words made my young heart very cold.

You talked of fame,--but my thoughts would stray
To the brook that laughed across the lane;
And of hopes for me,--but your hand's light play
On my brow was ice to my shrinking brain;
And you called me your son, your only son,--
But I felt your eye on my tortured heart
To and fro, like a spider, run,
On a quivering web;--'twas a cruel art!

But crueller, crueller far, the art
Of the low, quick laugh that Memory hears!
Mother, I lay my head on your heart;
Has it throbbed even once these fifty years?
Throbbed even once, by some strange heat thawed?
It would then have warmed to her, poor thing,
Who echoed your laugh with a cry!--O God,
When in my soul will it cease to ring?

Starlike her eyes were,--but yours were blind;
Sweet her red lips,--but yours were curled;
Pure her young heart,--but yours,--ah, you find
This, mother, is not the only world!
She came,--bright gleam of the dawning day;
She went,--pale dream of the winding-sheet.
Mother, they come to me and say
Your headstone will almost touch her feet!

You are walking now in a strange, dim land:
Tell me, has pride gone with you there?
Does a frail white form before you stand,
And tremble to earth, beneath your stare?
No, no!--she is strong in her pureness now,
And Love to Power no more defers.
I fear the roses will never grow
On your lonely grave as they do on hers!

But now from those lips one last, sad touch,--
Kiss it is not, and has never been;
In my boyhood's sleep I dreamed of such,
And shuddered,--they were so cold and thin!
There,--now cover the cold, white face,
Whiter and colder than statue stone!
Mother, you have a resting-place;
But I am weary, and all alone!


[Footnote A: _The Life and Times of Aaron Burr._ By J. PARTON. New York:
Mason, Brothers. 1857.]

The life of Aaron Burr is an admirable subject for a biographer. He
belonged to a class of men, rare in America, who are remarkable, not so
much for their talents or their achievements, as for their adventures
and the vicissitudes of their fortunes. Europe has produced many such
men and women: political intriguers; royal favorites; adroit courtiers;
adventurers who carried their swords into every scene of danger;
courtesans who controlled the affairs of states; persevering schemers
who haunted the purlieus of courts, plotted treason in garrets, and
levied war in fine ladies' boudoirs.

In countries where all the social and political action is concentrated
around the throne, where a pretty woman may decide the policy of a
reign, a royal marriage plunge nations into war, and the disgrace of a
favorite cause the downfall of a party, such persons find an ample field
for the exercise of the arts upon which they depend for success. The
history and romance of Modern Europe are full of them; they crowd the
pages of Macaulay and Scott. But the full sunlight of our republican
life leaves no lurking-place for the mere trickster. Doubtless, selfish
purposes influence our statesmen, as well as the statesmen of other
countries; but such purposes cannot be accomplished here by the means
which effect them elsewhere. He who wishes to attract the attention of
a people must act publicly and with reference to practical matters; but
the ear of a monarch may be reached in private. Therefore there is a
certain monotony in the lives of most of our public men; they may be
read in the life of one. It is, generally, a simple story of a poor
youth, who was born in humble station, and who, by painful effort
in some useful occupation, rose slowly to distinguished place,--who
displayed high talents, and made an honorable use of them. Aaron Burr,
however, is an exception. His adventures, his striking relations with
the leading men of his time, his romantic enterprises, the crimes and
the talents which have been attributed to him, his sudden elevation, and
his protracted and agonizing humiliation have attached to his name a
strange and peculiar interest. Mr. Parton has done a good service in
recalling a character which had well-nigh passed out of popular thought,
though not entirely out of popular recollection.

As to the manner in which this service has been performed, it is
impossible to speak very highly. The book has evidently cost its author
great pains; it is filled with detail, and with considerable gossip
concerning the hero, which is piquant, and, if true, important. The
style is meant to be lively, and in some passages is pleasant enough;
but it is marked with a flippancy, which, after a few pages, becomes
very disagreeable. It abounds with the slang usually confined to
sporting papers. According to the author, a civil man is "as civil as an
orange," a well-dressed man is "got up regardless of expense," and an
unobserved action is done "on the sly." He affects the intense, and, in
his pages, newspapers "go rabid and foam personalities," are "ablaze
with victories" and "bristling with bulletins,"--the public is in a
"delirium,"--the politicians are "maddened,"--letters are written in
"hot haste," and proclamations "sent flying." He appears to be on terms
of intimacy with historical personages such as few writers are fortunate
enough to be admitted to. He approves a remark of George II. and
patronizingly exclaims, "Sensible King!" He has occasion to mention John
Adams, and salutes him thus: "Glorious, delightful, honest John Adams!
An American John Bull! The Comic Uncle of this exciting drama!" He then
calls him "a high-mettled game-cock," and says "he made a splendid show
of fight."

Such little foibles and vanities might easily be pardoned, if the book
had no more important defects. It professes to explain portions of
our history hitherto not perfectly understood, and it contains many
statements for the truth of which we must rely upon the good sense and
accuracy of the writer; yet it is full of errors, and often evinces a
disposition to exaggeration little calculated to produce confidence in
its reliability.

Our space will not permit us to point out all the mistakes which Mr.
Parton has made, and we will mention only a few which attracted our
attention upon the first perusal of his book. His hero was appointed
Lieutenant-Colonel when only twenty-one years of age, and the
author says that he was "the youngest man who held that rank in the
Revolutionary army, or who has ever held it in an army of the United
States." Alexander Hamilton and Brockholst Livingston both reached that
rank at twenty years of age.--Mr. Parton tells us that Burr's rise in
politics was more "rapid than that of any other man who has played a
conspicuous part in the affairs of the United States"; and that "in four
years after fairly entering the political arena, he was advanced,
first, to the highest honor of the bar, next, to a seat in the National
Council, and then, to a competition with Washington, Adams, Jefferson,
and Clinton, for the Presidency itself." He could hardly have crowded
more errors into a single paragraph. Burr never attained the highest
honor of the bar. His first appearance in politics was as a member of
the Legislature of New York, in 1784, when twenty-eight years old; five
years after, he was appointed Attorney-General; in 1791 he was elected
to the Senate of the United States; and in 1801, at the age of
forty-five, _seventeen_ years after he fairly entered public life, he
became Vice-President. Hamilton was a member of Congress at twenty-five,
and at thirty-two was Secretary of the Treasury; Jefferson wrote the
great Declaration when only thirty-two years old; and the present
Vice-President is a much younger man than Burr was when he reached that
station. The statement, that Burr was the rival of Washington and Adams
for the Presidency, is absurd. Under the Constitution, at that time,
each elector voted for two persons,--the candidate who received the
greatest number of votes (if a majority of the whole) being declared
President, and the one having the next highest number Vice-President.
In 1792, at which time Burr received one vote in the Electoral College,
_all_ the electors voted for Washington; consequently the vote for Burr,
upon the strength of which Mr. Parton makes his magnificent boast, was
palpably for the Vice-Presidency. In 1796, the Presidential candidates
were Adams and Jefferson, for one or the other of whom every elector
voted,--the votes for Burr, in this instance thirty in number, being, as
before, only for the Vice-Presidency. Even in 1800, when the votes for
Jefferson and Burr in the Electoral College were equal, it is notorious
that this equality was simply the result of their being supported on the
same ticket,--the former for the office of President, and the latter
for that of Vice-President. Mr. Parton says, that, in the House of
Representatives, Burr would have been elected on the first ballot, if a
majority would have sufficed; and that Mr. Jefferson never received more
than fifty-one votes in a House of one hundred and six members. Had he
taken the trouble to examine Gales's "Annals of Congress" for 1799-1801,
he would have found that the House consisted of one hundred and four
members, two seats being vacant; and that on the first ballot Jefferson
received fifty-five votes, a majority of six. We are several times told
that Robert R. Livingston was one of the framers of the Constitution.
Mr. Livingston was not a member of the Constitutional Convention; the
only person of the name in that body was William Livingston, Governor
of New Jersey.--Mr. Parton comes into conflict with other writers upon
matters affecting his hero, as to which he would have done well if he
had given his authority. Matthew L. Davis, Burr's first biographer and
intimate friend, says that Burr's grandfather was a German; Parton,
speaking of the family at the time of the birth of Burr's father,
says that it was Puritan and had flourished in New England for three
generations. Mr. Parton makes Burr a witness of a dramatic interview
between Mrs. Arnold and Mrs. Prevost shortly after the discovery of
Arnold's treason, the particulars of which Davis says Burr obtained from
the latter lady after she became his wife.--Our author is not consistent
in his own statements. Upon one page he describes Mrs. Prevost, about
the time of her marriage, as "the beautiful Mrs. Prevost"; a few pages
farther on he says she was "not beautiful, being past her prime." He
informs us that it is the fashion to underrate Jefferson, that the
polite circles and writers of the country have never sympathized with
him,--and in the very same paragraph he remarks that "Thomas Jefferson
has been for fifty years the victim of incessant eulogy."

This carelessness in reciting facts is associated with a certain
confusion of mind. Mr. Parton does not appear to have the power of
distinguishing between conflicting statements of the same thing. He
describes Hamilton as honest and generous, and then accuses him of
malignity and dishonorable intrigue. He says that Wilkinson, at that
time a general in the United States service, may have thought of
hastening the dissolution of the Union "without being in any sense a
traitor." How an officer can meditate the destruction of a government
which he has sworn to protect, and not be in any sense of the word a
traitor, will puzzle minds not educated in what the author calls "the
Burr school." But the most curious exhibition which Mr. Parton makes of
this mental and moral confusion occurs in a passage where he attempts to
prove his assertion, that "Burr has done the state some service, though
they know it not." This service, of which the state has continued so
obstinately ignorant, consists mainly in having invented filibustering,
and in having brought duelling into disgrace by killing Hamilton. "That
was a benefit," our moralist gravely remarks concerning this last claim
to gratitude. Certainly; just such a benefit as Captain Kidd conferred
upon the world; he brought piracy into disgrace by being hanged for it.
As to the invention of filibustering, we are hardly disposed to rank
Burr with Fulton and Morse for his valuable discovery; but perhaps
the shades of Lopez and De Boulbon, and the living "gray-eyed man of
destiny," will worship him as the founder of their order.

It is impossible to define Mr. Parton's opinion of his hero. It is not
very clear to himself. He is inclined to admire him, and is quite sure
that he has been harshly dealt with. In the Preface he intimates that it
is his purpose to exhibit Burr's good qualities,--for, as he says, "it
is the good in a man who goes astray that ought most to alarm and warn
his fellow-men." The converse of which proposition we suppose the author
thinks equally true, and that it is the evil in a man who does not go
astray which ought most to delight and attract his fellow-men. At the
end of the volume Mr. Parton makes a summary of Burr's character,--says
that he was too good for a politician, and not great enough for a
statesman,--that Nature meant him for a schoolmaster,--that he was a
useful Senator, an ideal Vice-President, and would have been a good
President,--and that, if his Mexican expedition had succeeded, he would
have run a career similar to that of Napoleon. We do not dare attack
this extraordinary eulogy. To describe a man as not great enough for
a statesman, yet fitted to make a good President, as a natural-born
schoolmaster and at the same time a Napoleon, argues a boldness of
conception which makes criticism dangerous.

Mr. Parton occasionally assumes an air of impartiality, and mildly
expresses his disapprobation of Burr's vices; but in every instance
where those vices were displayed he earnestly defends him. In the
contest with Jefferson, Parton insists that Burr acted honorably; in the
duel with Hamilton, Burr was the injured party; in his amours he was not
a bad man; so that, although we are told that Burr had faults, we look
in vain for any exhibition of them. In the cases where we have been
accustomed to think that his passions led him into crime, he either
displayed the strictest virtue, or, at most, sinned in so gentlemanlike
a manner, with so much kindness and generosity, as hardly to sin at all.

There are three ways of writing a biography: one is, to make a simple
narrative and leave the reader to form his own opinion; another, to
present the facts so as to illustrate the author's conception of his
hero's character; a third, and the most common way, to proceed like an
advocate, to suppress everything which can be suppressed, to sneer
at everything which cannot be answered, to put the most favorable
construction upon all dubious matters, and to throw the strongest light
upon every fortunate circumstance. Mr. Parton has tried all three modes,
and failed in all. He is an unskilful delineator of character, a poor
story-teller, and a worse advocate. His book, despite its spasmodic
style, lacks vigor. It indicates a want of firmness and precision of
thought. It leaves a mixed impression on the mind. We venture to say,
that two thirds of its readers will close the volume with an indefinite
contradictory opinion that Burr was a sort of villanous saint, and that
the other third, by no means the most inattentive readers, will not be
able to form any opinion whatever.

There are four periods or events in the life of Burr which are worthy of
attention: his career in the army; his political course and contest with
Jefferson; the duel; and the Mexican expedition. Upon the first and most
pleasing portion of his life we cannot dwell. He entered the service
shortly after the battle of Bunker Hill, and in two years rose to a
Lieutenant-Colonelcy. Though engaged in several important battles, he
did not have an opportunity to display great military talents, if he
possessed them. He was distinguished, but not more so than many other
young men. He resigned in the spring of 1779,--as he alleged, on account
of ill health, but more probably because the failure of the Lee and
Conway intrigue had disappointed his hopes of promotion.

As an indication of character, the most important circumstance of Burr's
military life was his quarrel with Washington. This difficulty is said
to have grown out of some scandalous affair in which Burr was engaged,
a belief which is strengthened by his intrigue with the beautiful and
unfortunate Margaret Moncrieffe a few months after. But aside from any
such cause, there was ground enough for difference in the characters of
the two men. Discipline compelled Washington to hold his subordinates at
a distance of implied, if not asserted inferiority; and Burr never met
a man to whom he thought himself inferior. Mr. Parton's explanation is,
that "Hamilton probably implanted a dislike for Burr in Washington's
breast." The only difficulty with this theory is one which the author's
suppositions often encounter,--it has no foundation in fact. At the
time that Burr was in Washington's family, Hamilton was probably not
acquainted with the General; he did not enter his staff until nine
months after Burr had left it.

Burr entered public life at the only period in our history when a man of
his stamp of mind could have played a conspicuous part. At the close
of the Revolution, in addition to the Tories, there were already two
political factions in New York. As early as 1777 the Whigs had divided
upon the election for Governor, and George Clinton was chosen over
Philip Schuyler. The division then created continued after the peace,
but the differences were, at first, purely personal. Schuyler was the
leader of a party made up of a few great families, most prominent among
which were the Van Rensselaers and Livingstons. The Van Rensselaers have
never been particularly distinguished except as the possessors of a
great estate; the Livingstons, on the other hand, second only to the
great Dutch family in wealth, far surpassed them in political power and
reputation. The Van Rensselaers and Schuylers were connected with the
Livingstons by marriage; and this powerful association, made more
powerful by the banishment of the wealthy inhabitants of New York city
and Long Island, was still further strengthened by the connection with
it of Alexander Hamilton, who married a daughter of Philip Schuyler, and
John Jay, who married a daughter of William Livingston. The Schuyler
faction excited that opposition which wealth and social and political
influence always excite. A party arose which was composed of men of
every condition and shade of opinion,--those who were galled by the
exclusiveness of the aristocracy,--those who had joined the opposition
to Washington,--the young men who had made their reputation during the
war and were eager for professional and political promotion,--and all
those who were converts to the new doctrines of government which the
dispute with England had originated. At the head of these was George
Clinton. Though a man of liberal education, and trained to a liberal
profession, he had not the showy and attractive accomplishments which
distinguished his rivals; but he possessed in an extraordinary degree
those more sturdy qualities of mind and character which, in a country
where distinction is in the gift of the people, are always generously
rewarded. He had great aptitude for business, a clear and rapid
judgment, and high physical and moral courage. He was faithful to his
friends, and though an unyielding, he was a magnanimous foe. At a time
when politics were looked upon almost wholly as the means of personal
and family aggrandizement, and the motives of party conduct such as flow
from the passions of men, he, more than any of his opponents, adhered to
a consistent and not illiberal theory of public action.

At the outset of his political career, Burr acted upon the policy which
always governed him. He attached himself closely to neither party. When
the political issues grew broader, he was careful not to connect himself
with any measure. He did not heartily oppose the abolition of the Tory
disabilities, nor the adoption of the Constitution. He was a Clintonian,
but not so decidedly as to prevent him from attempting to defeat
Clinton. With a few adherents, he stood between the two parties and
maintained a position where he could avail himself of any overtures
which might be made to him; yet he was careful to be so far identified
with one side as to be able to claim some political association whenever
it became necessary to do so. His success in this artful course was
remarkable. Nominally a Clintonian, in 1789 he supported Yates, and a
few months afterwards took office under Clinton. In 1791, while holding
a place under a Republican governor, he persuaded a Federal legislature
to send him to the Senate of the United States. In the Senate he sided
with the opposition, but so moderately that some Federalists were
willing to support him for Governor. The Republicans nominated him for
the Vice-Presidency, and shortly after, the Federalists in Congress,
almost in a body, voted for him for the Presidency. During all this
time, his name was not associated with any important measure except a
fraudulent banking-scheme in New York.

The occasion of his elevation to the Vice-Presidency is a perfect
illustration of the accidental circumstances and unimportant services to
which he was generally indebted for advancement. From the commencement
of the Presidential canvass of 1800, it was evident that the action of
New York would control the election. That State then had twelve votes
in the Electoral College; but the electors were chosen by the
Legislature,--not, as at present, by the people. The parties in New York
were nearly equal, and the result in the Legislature was very doubtful.
The city of New York sent twelve members to the Assembly, and usually
determined the political complexion of that body. Thus the contest in
the nation was narrowed down to a single city, and that not a large
one. This gave Burr a favorable field for the exercise of his peculiar
talents. His energy, tact, unscrupulousness, and art in conciliating the
hostile and animating the indifferent made him unequalled in political
finesse. He did not hesitate to use any means in his power. Some one in
his pay overheard the discussion in a Federal caucus, and revealed to
him the plans of his opponents. He had become unpopular, and had brought
odium upon his party by a corrupt speculation; he therefore declined
presenting his own name, and made a ticket comprehending the most
distinguished persons in the Republican ranks. George Clinton, Gen.
Gates, and Brockholst Livingston were placed at the head of it. The
most urgent solicitations were necessary to persuade these gentlemen to
consent to a nomination for places which were beneath their pretensions,
but Burr answered every objection and overcame every scruple. The
respectability of the candidates and the vigorous prosecution of the
canvass carried the city by a considerable majority, and insured the
election of Mr. Jefferson. Mr. Parton finds in this abundant material
for extravagant eulogy of Burr. But most people will be surprised to
learn that such services constituted a claim to the Vice-Presidency. If
being an adroit politician entitles a person to high office, there is
not a town in New York which cannot furnish half a dozen statesmen whose
exploits have been far more remarkable than Burr's.

Burr's nomination, however, was not solely due to his labors at this
election, but in part also to his subsequent address. The importance
of New York made it desirable to select the candidate for the
Vice-Presidency from that State. A caucus of the Republican members
of Congress directed Mr. Gallatin to ascertain who would be the most
acceptable candidate. He wrote to Commodore Nicholson, asking him to
discover the sentiments of the leading men in the State. The names of
Livingston, George Clinton, and Burr had been suggested. Livingston was
deaf, and Nicholson is said to have determined to recommend Clinton.
Burr, however, saw him afterwards, and persuaded him to substitute his
name instead of Clinton's in the letter which he had prepared to send
to Philadelphia. Col. Burr was accordingly placed upon the Republican

The tie vote between Jefferson and Burr, which unexpectedly occurred
in the Electoral College, has given rise to the assertion that Burr
endeavored to defeat Jefferson and secure his own election. Mr. Parton
devotes a chapter to the refutation of this charge, but does not succeed
in making a very strong argument. The evidence of Burr's treachery, is
as positive as from the nature of the case it can be. Of course, he made
no open pledges; it was unnecessary, and it would have been impolitic to
do so. The main fact cannot be denied, that for several weeks before and
after the election went to the House of Representatives, Burr was openly
supported by the Federalists in opposition to Jefferson. Burr knew it;
everybody knew it. Why was this support given? It will require plain
proof to satisfy any one who is familiar with the motives of political
action, that a party would have so earnestly advocated the election of
any man without good reason to suppose that he would make an adequate
return for its support. There was but one course which Burr, in honor,
could take; he should have peremptorily refused to permit his name to be
used. A word from him would have ended the matter; but that word was not
spoken. The evidence on the other side consists of some statements made
several years after, by parties concerned, which are by no means
so direct and unequivocal as might be wished,--and of a series
of depositions taken in some lawsuits instituted by Col. Burr to
investigate the truth of this charge. One circumstance, which seems to
have escaped the notice of our biographer, casts suspicion upon all
these documents. Burr applied to Samuel Smith, a United States Senator
from Maryland, for his testimony. Smith gives the following account of
the transaction:--"Col. Burr called on me. I told him that I had written
my deposition, and would have a fair copy made of it. He said, 'Trust
it to me and I will get Mr. ---- to copy it.' I did so, and, on his
returning it to me, _I found words not mine interpolated in the copy_."
It is not worth while to discuss a defence which was made out by

His election to the Vice-Presidency terminated Burr's official career.
He was deserted by his party, and denounced by the Republican press.
Burning with resentment, he turned upon his enemies, and, supported by
the Federalists, became a candidate for the Governorship of New York,
in opposition to the Republican nominee. Hamilton, who alone among the
Federal statesmen had openly opposed Burr during the contest for the
Presidency, again separated from his party, and earnestly denounced him.
Burr was defeated by an enormous majority. His disappointment and anger
at being again foiled by Hamilton prompted him to the most notorious and
unfortunate act of his life.

In speaking of his duel with Gen. Hamilton, we do not intend to judge
Col. Burr's conduct by the rules by which a more enlightened public
opinion now judges the duellist. He and his adversary acted according
to the custom of their time; by that standard let them be measured.
Mr. Parton thinks that the challenge was as "near an approach to
a reasonable and inevitable action as an action can be which is
intrinsically wrong and absurd." By this we understand him to say that
the course of Col. Burr was in accordance with the etiquette which then
governed men of the world in such affairs. We think differently.

During the election for Governor, Dr. Cooper, of Albany, heard Hamilton
declare that he was opposed to Burr, and made a public statement to that
effect. Gen. Schuyler denied the truth of this assertion, which Dr.
Cooper then reiterated in a published letter, saying that Hamilton and
Judge Kent had both characterized Burr as "a dangerous man, and one who
ought not to be trusted with the reins of government," and that "he
could detail a _still more despicable opinion_ which Gen. Hamilton had
expressed of Mr. Burr." Nearly two months after this letter was
written, Burr addressed a note to Hamilton asking for an unqualified
acknowledgment or denial of the use of any expression which would
justify Dr. Cooper's assertion. The dispute turned upon the words "more
despicable," and as to them there obviously were many difficulties.
Cooper thought that the expression, "a dangerous man and one who ought
not to be trusted with the reins of government," conveyed a despicable
opinion; but many persons might think that such language did not go
beyond the reasonable limits of political animadversion. Burr himself
made no objection to that particular phrase; he did not allude to it
except by way of explanation. The use of such language was common.
In his celebrated attack upon John Adams, Hamilton had spoken of Mr.
Jefferson as an "ineligible and dangerous candidate." The same words had
been publicly applied to Burr himself, two years before. He did not see
anything despicable in the opinion then expressed. A man may be unfit
for office from lack of capacity, and dangerous on account of his
principles. The most rigid construction of the Code of Honor has never
compelled a person to fight every fool whom he thought unworthy of
public station, and every demagogue whose views he considered unsound.
If Dr. Cooper, then, was able to discover a despicable opinion where
most people could find none, might he not have seen what he called a
_more despicable opinion_ in some remark equally innocent? Burr did not
ask what were the precise terms of the remark to which Cooper alluded;
he demanded that Hamilton should disavow Cooper's construction of that
expression. He took offence, not at what had been said, but at the
inference which another had drawn from what had been said. The
justification of such an inference devolved upon Cooper, not
Hamilton,--who by no rule of courtesy could be interrogated as to the
justice of another's opinions. These difficulties presented themselves
to the mind of Hamilton. He stated them in his reply, declared that he
was ready to answer for any precise or definite opinion which he had
expressed, but refused to explain the import which others had placed
upon his language. Unfortunately, the last line of his note contained
an intimation that he expected a challenge. Burr rudely retorted,
reiterating his demand in most insolent terms. The correspondence then
passed into the hands of Nathaniel Pendleton on the part of Hamilton,
and William P. Van Ness, a man of peculiar malignity of character, upon
the part of Burr. The responsibility of his position weighing upon
Hamilton's mind, before the final step was taken, he voluntarily stated
that the conversation with Dr. Cooper "related exclusively to political
topics, and did not attribute to Burr any instance of dishonorable
conduct," and again offered to explain any specific remark. This
generous, unusual, and, according to strict etiquette, unwarranted
proposition removed at once Burr's cause of complaint. Had he been
disposed to an honorable accommodation, he would have received
Hamilton's proposal in the spirit in which it was made. But, embarrassed
by this liberal offer, he at once changed his ground, abandoned Cooper's
remark, which had previously been the sole subject of discussion, and
peremptorily insisted that Gen. Hamilton should deny _ever_ having made
remarks from which inferences derogatory to him could fairly have been
drawn. This demand was plainly unjustifiable. No person would answer
such an interrogatory. It showed that Burr's desire was, not to satisfy
his honor, but to goad his adversary to the field. It establishes the
general charge, which Parton virtually admits, that it was not passion
excited by a recent insult which impelled him to revenge, but hatred
engendered during years of rivalry and stimulated by his late defeat.
Burr must long have known Hamilton's feelings towards him. Those
feelings had been freely expressed; and Burr's letters discover that he
was fully aware of the distrust and hostility with which he was regarded
by his political associates and opponents. A man has no claim to
satisfaction for an insult given years ago. The entire theory of the
duello makes it impossible for one to ask redress for an injury which he
has long permitted to go unredressed. The question being, not whether
the practice of duelling is wrong, but whether Burr was wrong according
to that practice, we have no difficulty in concluding that the challenge
was given upon vague and unjustifiable grounds, and that Gen. Hamilton
would have been excusable, if he had refused to meet him.

It may be said, that, if Hamilton accepted an improper challenge, he
should receive the same condemnation as the one who gave it. But, even
on general grounds, some qualification should be made in favor of
the challenged party. His is a different position from that of the
challenger. A sensitive man, though he think that he is improperly
questioned, may have some delicacy about making his own judgment the
rule of another's conduct. Besides, there were many considerations
peculiar to this case. The menacing tone of Burr's first note made it
evident that he meant to force the quarrel to a bloody issue. Hamilton,
jealous of his reputation for courage, could not run the risk of
appearing anxious to avoid a danger so apparent. Moreover, he was
conscious, that, during his life, he had said many things which might
give Burr cause for offence, and he was unwilling to avail himself of a
technical, though reasonable objection, to escape the consequences of
his own remarks. Neither could he apologize for what he still thought
was true. These considerations were doubly powerful with Hamilton. His
early manhood had been passed in camps; his early fame had been won
in the profession of arms. He was a man of the world. He had never
discountenanced duelling; he himself had been engaged in the affair
between Laurens and Lee; and a few years before, his own son had fallen
in a duel. Neither his education nor his professions nor his practice
could excuse him. It was too late to take shelter behind his general
disapproval of a custom which was recognized by his professional
brethren and had been countenanced by himself. It is true that he would
have shown a higher courage by braving an ignorant and brutal public
opinion, but it would be unjust to censure him for not showing a degree
of courage which no man of his day displayed. He and Burr are to be
measured by their own standard, not by ours; and tried by that test, it
is easy to see a difference between one who accepts and one who sends an
unjustifiable challenge; it is the difference which exists between an
error and a crime.

There was an interval of two weeks between the message and the meeting.
This was required by Hamilton to finish some important law business.
When he went to White Plains to try causes, he was in the habit of
staying at a friend's house. The last time he visited there, a few days
before his death, he said, upon leaving, "I shall probably never come
here again." During this period he invited Col. Wm. Smith, and his wife,
who was the only daughter of John Adams, to dine with him. Some rare old
Madeira which had been given to him was produced on this occasion, and
it was afterwards thought that it was his intention by this slight act
to express his desire to bury all personal differences between Mr. Adams
and himself. These, and various other little incidents, show that he


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