Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 11, No. 63, January, 1863

Part 2 out of 5

His direct polemic against the doctrine of Free-Will consists simply
of an attempt to identify it with the notion of Chance in physics. The
notion of Chance, he says, is the same with that of Free-Will; the
doctrine of Necessary Connection with the dogma of Predestination. This
statement has certainly an imposing air. But consider it. To assert the
identity of chance and free-will is but another way of saying that pure
freedom is one and the same with absolute lawlessness,--that where
freedom exists, law, order, reason do not. If this be a misconception,
as it surely is a total and fatal misconception, of the nature of
freedom, then does the statement of our author, with all that rests upon
it, fall instantly and utterly to the ground.

It is a misconception. Freedom and lawlessness are not the same. To make
this finally clear, let us at once give the argument the widest possible
scope; since the largest way of looking at the matter, as indeed it
often happens, will prove also the nearest and simplest. In the universe
as a whole Will does certainly originate, since there is, undoubtedly,
origination somewhere. Freely, too, it must arise, for there is nothing
behind it to bring it under constraint: indeed, all origination is by
its nature free. But our philosopher tells us that wherever there is
a pure and free origination of will, there is lawlessness, caprice,
chance. The universe, therefore, should be a scene, not of absolute
order, but of absolute disorder; and since it is not such, we have
nothing for it but to say that either the logic of the universe, or that
of Mr. Buckle, is very much awry.

In the universe, Will freely originates, but forever in unison with
divine Reason; and the result is at once pure necessity and pure
freedom: for these, if both be, as we say, absolutely _pure_, are one
and the same. A coercing necessity is impure, for it is at war with that
to which it applies; only a necessity in sweetest affinity with that
which it governs is of the purest degree; and this is, of course,
identical with the highest and divinest freedom.

And here we approach the solution of our problem, so far as it can be
solved. Freedom and free-will exist only in virtue of reason, only
in connection with the rational soul. In a rough account of man, and
leaving out of sight all that is not strictly relevant to the present
point, we discriminate in him two natures. One of these comprises the
whole body of organic desires and energies, with all that _kind_ of
intellect by which one perceives the relation of things to his selfish
wishes. By this nature, man is a selfish and intellectual animal; a
polyp with arms that go round the world; a sponge with eyes and energies
and delights; a cunning _ego_, to whom all outside of himself is but for
a prey. But aloft over this, and constituting the second nature, into
whose kingdom one should be born as by a second birth, is the sovereign
eye and soul of Reason, discerning Justice and Beauty and the Best,
creating in man's bosom an ideal, redeeming him out of his littleness,
bringing him into fellowship with Eternal Truth, and making him
universal. Now between these two natures there is, for there must be, a
mediating term, a power by which man _enacts_ reason, and causes doing
to accord with seeing. This is will, and it must, from its very nature,
be free; for to say that it is a mere representative of the major force
in desire is simply to say that it does not exist. A mediation without
freedom in the mediator is something worse than the mediation of Holland
between England and the United States in the dispute concerning the
North-East Boundary.

So far, now, as the sovereign law and benefaction of the higher nature,
through a perfect mediation of the will, descends upon the lower, so
far man enters into free alliance with that which is sovereign in the
universe, and is himself established in perfected freedom. The right
action of free-will is, then, freedom in the making. But by this
entrance into the great harmonies of the world, by this loyalty to the
universal reason which alone makes one free, it must be evident that the
order of the world is graced and supported rather than assailed.

But how if free-will fail of its highest function? Must not the order of
the world then suffer? Not a whit. Universal Reason prevails, but in two
diverse ways: she may either be felt as a mere Force or Fate, or she
may be recognized and loved and obeyed as an Authority. Wherever the
rational soul, her oracle, is given, there she proffers the privilege of
knowing her only as a divine authority,--of free loyalty, of honorable
citizenship in her domains. But to those who refuse this privilege she
appears as fate; and though their honor is lost, hers is not; for the
order of the world continues to be vindicated. The just and faithful
citizen, who of his own election obeys the laws, illustrates in one way
the order of society and the supremacy of moral law. The villain in the
penitentiary illustrates the order of society and the supremacy of moral
law in quite another way. But order and law are illustrated by both,
though in ways so very different. So one may refuse to make reason a
free necessity in his own bosom; but then the constable of the universe
speedily taps him upon the shoulder, and law is honored, though he is

Now Mr. Buckle supposed that order in the world and in history could be
obtained only by sacrificing the freedom of the individual; and that he
so supposed determines his own rank as a thinker. There is no second
question to be asked concerning a candidate for the degree of master in
philosophy who begins by making this mistake.

But does some one, unwilling so soon to quit the point, require of me
to explain _how_ will can originate in man? My only answer is, I do not
know. Does the questioner know _how_ motion originates in the universe?
It does or did originate; science is clear in assigning a progress, and
therefore a beginning, to the solar system: can you find its origin in
aught but the self-activity of Spirit, whose _modus operandi_ no man can
explain? _All_ origination is inscrutable; the plummet of understanding
cannot sound it; but wherefore may not one sleep as sweetly, knowing
that the wondrous fact is near at hand, in the bosoms of his
contemporaries and in his own being, as if it were pushed well out of
sight into the depths of primeval time? To my mind, there is something
thoroughly weak and ridiculous in the way that Comte and his company run
away from the Absolute and Inexplicable, fearing only its nearness; like
a child who is quite willing there should he bears at the North Pole,
but would lie awake of nights, if he thought there were one in the
nearest wood. And it is the more ridiculous because Mystery is no bear;
nor can I, for one, conceive why it should not be to every man a joy to
know that all the marvel which ever was in Nature is in her now, and
that the divine inscrutable processes are going on under our eyes and in
them and in our hearts.

Doubtless, however, many will adhere to the logic that has satisfied
them so long and so well,--that it is impossible the will should move
otherwise than in obedience to motives, and that, obeying a motive, it
is not free. Why should we not, then, amuse ourselves a little with
these complacent motive-mongers? They profess a perfect explanation of
mental action, and make it the stigma of a deeper philosophy, that
it must leave somewhat in all action of the mind, and therefore in
a doctrine of the will, unexplained. Let, now, these good gentlemen
explain to us how a motive ever gets to be a motive. For there is
precisely the same difficulty in initiating motion here as elsewhere.
You look on a peach; you desire it; and you are moved by the desire to
pluck or purchase it. Now it is plain that you could not desire this
peach until you had perceived that it was a desirable fruit. But
you could not perceive that the fruit was desirable until you had
experienced desire of it. And here we are at the old, inexplicable
seesaw. It must appear desirable in order to be desired; it must be
desired in order to appear desirable: the perception must precede the
desire, and the desire must precede the perception. These are foolish
subtilties, but all the fitter for their purpose. Our motive-mongering
friends should understand that they can explain no farther than their
neighbors,--that by enslaving the will they only shift the difficulty,
not solve it.

Anything but this shallow sciolism! More philosophical a thousand times
than the knowing and facile metaphysic which makes man a thing of
springs and pivots and cogs, are the notions of old religionists, which
attributed human action in large part to preventing, suggesting, and
efficient "grace," or those of older poets, who gave Pallas Athene for
a counsellor to Odysseus, and Krishna for a teacher to the young Aryan
warrior,--which represent human action, that is, as issuing in part out
of the Infinite. A thousand times more _philosophical_, as well as
ten thousand times more inspiring, I say, are the metaphysics of
Imagination,--of scriptures and great poems and the _live_ human
heart,--than the cut-and-dried sciolisms which explain you a man in five
minutes, and make everything in him as obvious as the movements of a

To deny, then, the existence of free-will is, in my judgment, a grave
error; but to deny it on the ground of its identity with chance is more
than an ordinary error, however grave; it is a poison in the blood of
one's thought, conveying its vice to every part and function of the
system. And herewith we pass to the next head.

2. _Consciousness_. It has been the persuasion of wise men in various
ages, and is the persuasion of many, as wise, doubtless, as their
neighbors, now, that the soul has a native sense of its quality and
perpetual relations. By Plato this sense, in some of its aspects, was
named Reminiscence; by modern speakers of English it is denoted as
Consciousness. This, according to its grades and applications, is
qualified as personal, moral, intellectual, or, including all its higher
functions, as intuitive or spiritual. Of this high spiritual sense, this
self-recognition of soul, all the master-words of the language--God,
Immortality, Life, Love, Duty--are either wholly, or in all their
grander suggestions, the product. Nothing, indeed, is there which
confers dignity upon human life and labor, that is not primarily due to
the same source. In union with popular and unconscious imagination, it
generates mythology; in union with imagination and reason, it gives
birth to theology and cosmogony; in union with imagination, reason, and
experience, it is the source of philosophy; in union with the same,
together with the artistic sense and high degrees of imaginative
sympathy, it creates epic poetry and art. Its total outcome, however,
may be included under the term Belief. And it results from an assumed
validity of consciousness, that universal belief is always an indication
of universal truth. At the same time, since this master-power finds
expression through faculties various in kind and still more various in
grade of development, its outcome assumes many shapes and hues,--just
as crystallized alumina becomes here ruby and there sapphire, by minute
admixtures of different coloring substances.

We assume the validity of this prime source of belief. Why not? Here is
a great natural product, human belief; we treat it precisely as we do
other natural products; we judge, that, like these, it has its law and
justification. We assume that it is to be studied as Lyell studies the
earth's crust, or Agassiz its life, or Mueller its languages. As our
author shuns metaphysical, so do we shun metapsychical inquiries. We do
not presume to go behind universal fact, and inquire whether it has any
business to be fact; we simply endeavor to see it in its largest and
most interior aspect, and then accept it without question.

But M. Comte made the discovery that this great product of man's
spiritual nature is nothing but the spawn of his self-conceit: that it
is purely gratuitous, groundless, superfluous, and therefore in the
deepest possible sense lawless, Mr. Buckle follows his master, for such
Comte really is. Proclaiming Law everywhere else, and, from his extreme
partiality to the word, often lugging it in, as it were, by the ears, he
no sooner arrives at these provinces than he instantly faces the other
way, and denies all that he has before advocated. Of a quadruped he will
question not a hair, of a fish not a scale; everywhere else he will
accept facts and seek to cooerdinate them; but when he arrives at the
great natural outcome and manifestation of man's spirit, then it is in
an opposite way that he will not question; he simply lifts his eyebrows.
The fact has no business to be there! It signifies nothing!

Why this reversal of position? First, because, if consciousness be
allowed, free-will must be admitted; since the universal consciousness
is that of freedom to choose. But there is a larger reason. In
accordance with his general notions, personality must be degraded,
denuded, impoverished,--that so the individual may lie passive in the
arms of that society whose laws he is ambitious to expound. Having
robbed the soul of choice, he now deprives it of sight; having denied
that it is an originating source of will, he now makes the complementary
denial, that it is a like source of knowledge; having first made it
helpless, he now proceeds to make it senseless. And, indeed, the two
denials belong together. If it be true that the soul is helpless, pray
let us have some kind drug to make it senseless also. Nature has dealt
thus equally with the stone; and surely she must design a like equality
in her dealings with man. Power and perceiving she will either give
together, or together withhold.

But how does our author support this denial? By pointing to the great
varieties in the outcome of consciousness. There is no unity, he says,
in its determinations: one believes this, another that, a third somewhat
different from both; and the faith that one is ready to die for, another
is ready to kill him for. And true it is that the diversities of human
belief are many and great; let not the fact be denied nor diminished.

But does such diversity disprove a fundamental unity? All modern science
answers, No. How much of outward resemblance is there between a fish
and a philosopher? Is not the difference here as wide as the widest
unlikenesses in human belief? Yet Comparative Anatomy, with none to deny
its right, includes philosopher and fish in one category: they both
belong to the vertebrate sub-kingdom. See what vast dissimilarities are
included in the unity of this vertebrate structure: creatures that swim,
creep, walk, fly; creatures with two feet, with four feet, with no feet,
with feet and hands, with hands only, with neither feet nor hands;
creatures that live in air only, or in water only, or that die at once
in water or air; creatures, in fine, more various and diverse than
imagination, before the fact, could conceive. Yet, throughout this
astonishing, inconceivable variety, science walks in steady perception
of a unity extending far toward details of structure. The boor
laughs, when told that the forefoot of his horse and his own hand are
essentially the same member. A "Positive Philosopher" laughs, when
told that through Fetichism and Lutheranism there runs a thread of
unity,--that human belief has its law, and may be studied in the spirit
of science. But it is more than questionable whether the laugh is on
their side.[A]

[Footnote A: Comte did, indeed, profess to furnish a central law of
belief. It is due, he said, to the tendency of man to flatter his own
personality by foisting its image upon the universe. This, however, is
but one way of saying that it is wholly gratuitous,--that it has no root
in the truth of the world. But universal truth and universal law are the
same; and therefore that which arises without having any root in eternal
verity is lawless in the deepest possible sense,--lawless not merely as
being irregular in its action, but in the deeper and more terrible sense
of being in the universe without belonging there. To believe, however,
that any product of universal dimensions can be generated, not by the
truth of the universe, but by somewhat else, is to believe in a Devil
more thoroughly than the creed of any Calvinist allows. But this is
quite in character. Comte was perhaps the most superstitious man of
his time; superstition runs in the blood of his "philosophy"; and Mr.
Buckle, in my opinion, escapes and denounces the black superstitions of
ignorance only to fall into the whited superstitions of sciolism.]

But our author does not quit this subject without attempting to adduce
a specific instance wherein consciousness proves fallacious. Success,
however, could hardly be worse; he fails to establish his point, but
succeeds in discrediting either his candor or his discrimination. "Are
we not," he says, "in certain circumstances, conscious of the existence
of spectres and phantoms; and yet is it not generally admitted that such
beings have no existence at all?" Now I should be ashamed to charge a
scholar, like Mr. Buckle, with being unaware that consciousness does not
apply to any matter which comes properly under the cognizance of the
senses, and that the word can be honestly used in such applications only
by the last extreme of ignorant or inadvertent latitude. _Conscious_ of
the existence of spectres! One might as lawfully say he is "conscious"
that there is a man in the moon, or that the color of his neighbor's
hair is due to a dye. Mr. Buckle is undoubtedly honest. How, then, could
he, in strict philosophical discussion, employ the cardinal word in
a sense flagrantly and even ludicrously false, in order to carry his
point? It is partly to be attributed to his controversial ardor, which
is not only a heat, but a blaze, and frequently dazzles the eye of his
understanding; but partly it is attributable also to an infirmity in
the understanding itself. He shows, indeed, a singular combination of
intellectual qualities. He has great external precision, and great
inward looseness and slipperiness of mind: so that, if you follow his
words, no man's thought can be clearer, no man's logic more firm and
rapid in its march; but if you follow strictly the _conceptions_, the
clearness vanishes, and the logic limps, nay, sprawls. It is not merely
that he writes better than he thinks, though this is true of him; but
the more characteristic fact is that he is a master in the forms of
thought and an apprentice in the substance. Read his pages, and you will
find much to admire; read under his pages, and you will find much not to

It appears from the foregoing what Mr. Buckle aims to accomplish at the
outset. His purpose is to effect a thorough degradation of Personality.
Till this is done, he finds no clear field for the action of social
law. To discrown and degrade Personality by taking away its two grand
prerogatives,--this is his preliminary labor, this is his way of
procuring a site for that edifice of scientific history which he
proposes to build.

But what an enormous price to pay for the purchase! If there is no
kingdom for social law, if there is no place for a science of history,
till man is made unroyal, till the glory is taken from his brow, the
sceptre from his right hand, and the regal hopes from his heart, till
he is made a mere serf and an appanage of that ground and territory
of circumstance whereon he lives and labors,--why, then a science of
history means much the same with an extinction of history, an extinction
of all that in history which makes it inspiring. The history of rats and
mice is interesting, but not to themselves,--interesting only to man,
and this because he is man; but if men are nothing but rats and mice,
pray let them look for cheese, and look out for the cat, and let
goose-quills and history alone.

But the truth is that Person and Society are mutually supporting facts,
each weakened by any impoverishment of its reciprocal term. Whenever a
_real_ history of human civilization is written, they will thus appear.
And Mr. Buckle, in seeking to empty one term in order to obtain room
for the other, was yielding concessions, not to the pure necessities of
truth, but to his own infirmity as a thinker.

Having, however, taken the crown and kingdom from Personality, our
philosophical Warwick proceeds to the coronation of his favorite
autocrat, Society. His final proposition, which indeed is made
obscurely, and as far as possible by implication, is this:--

3. _That Society is the Real Source of Individual Action_. A proposition
made obscurely, but argued strenuously, and altogether necessary for
the completion of his foundation. He attempts proof by reference to the
following facts:--that in a given kingdom there occur, year after year,
nearly the same number of murders, suicides, and letters mailed without
direction, and that marriages are more frequent when food is low and
wages high, and so conversely. This is the sum total of the argument on
which he relies here and throughout his work: if this proves his point,
it is proven; if otherwise, otherwise.

To begin with, I admit the facts alleged. They are overstated; there
_is_ considerable departure from an exact average: but let this pass. I
will go farther, and admit, what no one has attempted to show, that an
average in these common and outward matters proves the like regularity
in all that men do and think and feel. This to concentrate attention
upon the main question.

And the main question is, What do these regular averages signify? Do
they denote the dominancy of a social fate? "Yea, yea," cry loudly the
French fatalists; and "Yea, yea," respond with firm assurance Buckle &
Co. in England; and "Yea," there are many to say in our own land. Even
Mr. Emerson must summon his courage to confront "the terrible statistics
of the French statisticians." But I live in the persuasion that these
statistics are extremely innocent, and threaten no man's liberty. Let us

Take first the instance of forgetfulness. In the United Kingdom some
millions of letters are annually mailed; and of these, one in a certain
number of thousands, "making allowance," as our author innocently says,
"for variation of circumstances," is found to be mailed without a
superscription. Now provision for a forgetting is made in every man's
individual constitution. Partly for permanent and final forgetting; in
this way we get rid of vast quantities of trash, which would suffocate
us, if we could not obtain riddance. Partly also for temporary
forgetting; by means of which we become oblivious to everything but the
matter in hand, and, by a sole concentration upon that, act intensely
and efficaciously. Then, as all particular constitutions have their
debilities, this provision for temporary obliviousness may become an
infirmity, and in some is an habitual and chronic infirmity.

Let us now assume an individual man, and suppose ourselves able
to analyze perfectly his mental condition. From his temperament,
constitution, and habit, we shall then be able also to infer with
precision the measure of his _liability_ to lapse of memory. Place
him, now, in a world by himself; give him a life of several centuries'
duration; and secure him through life from essential change of
constitution. Divide, then, his life into centuries; count the instances
of forgetfulness in each century; and in each century they will be found
nearly the same. The Law of Probability determines this, and enables us
to speak with entire confidence of a case so supposed. Here, then, is
the continuous average; but it surely indicates no subjection of the
individual soul to a law of society; for there is no society to impose
such law,--there is only the constitution of the individual.

Now, instead of one individual, let us suppose a hundred; and let each
of these be placed on a separate planet. Obtain in respect to each one
the measure of his liability to infirm lapse of memory, and add these
together. And now it will appear that the average outward result which
one man gave in one hundred years one hundred men will give in one year.
The law of probability again comes in, and, matching the irregularities
of one by those of another, gives in this case, as in the former,
an average result. Here, then, is Mr. Buckle's average without the
existence of a society, and therefore without any action of social law.
Does another syllable need to be said?

Perhaps, however, it will be objected that I redeem the individual from
a fate working in the general whole of society, only to subject him to
an equal fate working in his own constitution. There is undoubtedly
a certain _degree_ of fate expressed in each man's temperament and
particular organization. But mark the difference. Mr. Buckle's social
fate subjects each man totally, and in effect robs him of personality;
the fate which works in his own constitution subjects him _only in that
proportion which his abnormal liability bears to the total force of his
mind_. One letter in ten thousand, say, is mailed without direction. Our
historian of civilization infers hence that each individual is _totally_
subject to a social fate. My inference is, that, on the average, each
individual is _one ten-thousandth part_ subject to a fate in his private
constitution. There is the difference, and it does not seem to me
insignificant. Our way to the cases of crime is now somewhat more clear;
for it is already established beyond cavil that the mere fact of an
average, to which, without any discriminations, our philosopher appeals
with such confidence, proves nothing for his purpose.

The case of murders, however, differs from the foregoing in one
important particular. The persons who are detected in the commission of
this crime are commonly, by their punishment, withdrawn from the number
of active criminals; and consequently the average is kept up, not by the
same persons, but in part by different ones. Here is, therefore, more
appearance of the mediation of compulsory social law; and indeed the
action of social forces in the case I am far more disposed to assert
than to question. What we are to inquire, however, is not whether social
forces contribute to this result, but whether they are _such_ forces as
supersede and annihilate individual will. Let us see.

All men are liable to collisions of passion and interest with their
neighbors and contemporaries. All desire to remove the obstructions thus
opposed. All would labor for this end with brute directness, that is,
by lawless violence and cunning, were it not for the rational and moral
elements in their nature, which suggest noble pieces of abstinence and
self-restraint, thus securing a certain freedom, a certain superiority
to the brute pressure of interest and impulse. These rational and moral
elements are in variable counterpoise with the ruder desires,--sometimes
commanding them with imperial ease, sometimes overcoming them by
struggle, sometimes striving with them feebly and vainly, or even
ceasing to strive.

Suppose, now, a nation of thirty millions. Of these, twenty-nine
millions, let us say, are never consciously tempted to commit a felony.
Why? For want of opportunity? Not at all; good men, whom the police do
not watch, have more opportunities for crime than those whose character
causes them to be suspected. Is it because wrathful passion, the love of
money, and other incentives to aggression are unknown to them? To none
are they wholly unknown. Why, then, this immunity from temptation?
Simply because their choices, or characters,--for character is but
structural choice,--run in favor of just and prudent courses with a tide
so steady and strong as to fill all the river-beds of action, and leave
no room for worse currents. In other words, the elements that make men
free hold, in this respect, easy sovereignty In their souls. Below
these millions, suppose nine hundred thousand who might be open to
such temptation, but for the influence of good customs, which are the
legacies left by good men dead, and kept in force by the influence of
just men who are living. In these, the freedom-making elements still
keep the throne, and preserve regal sway; but they are like sovereigns
who might be dethroned, but for the countenance of more powerful
neighbors. Below these, the liability to actual commission of violence
begins to open; but there are, we will suppose, ninety thousand in
whom it is practically suppressed by the dangers which, in civilized
communities, attend upon crime. These men have that in them which
_might_ make them felons, but for penal laws, prisons, and the
executioner. But below these are ten thousand who have a liability _in
excess_ of all restraining influences whatsoever; and the result of this
liability, in accordance with the law of probability already mentioned,
is two hundred murders in a year.[B] Now here the action of fate does
not _begin_ until you reach the lowest ten thousand. Even here, freedom
is not extinguished; the rational and moral elements that confer it
are weak, but they are not necessarily dead or inoperative; for, in
conjunction with lower restraints, they actually make the number of
crimes not ten thousand, but two hundred. True it is, that these are
partially enslaved, partially subject to fate; but they are enslaved not
by any inscrutable law of society, comparable with "that which preserves
the balance of the sexes"; they are "taken captive by their own lusts,"
as one of our philosopher's "ignorant men" said many years ago. But
above these the enslaving liability begins to disappear, and freedom
soon becomes, so far as this test applies, supreme.

[Footnote B: It may be said that this is a mere arguing by supposition.
But the supposition here has respect only to the _numbers_.]

Thus for one year we apply a measure of the liability to crime, and
obtain a result which is inexpressibly far from sustaining Mr. Buckle's
inference; since it shows that the fatal force is to all freeing forces
as two hundred to thirty millions,--and shows, moreover, that this fate,
instead of inclosing in its toils every man in the nation, and utterly
depriving all of freedom, actually touches at all but a small number,
and only diminishes, not destroys, the freedom of these. Next year we
apply the same measure to nearly the same persons, in the presence of
nearly the same restraints; and find, of course, the result to be nearly
the same. But this result no more proves universal enslavement in the
second year than it did in the first. And so of the third, fourth, or
fortieth application of the measure.

But a portion of these murderers are yearly withdrawn: ought not the
number of crimes to diminish? It would do so, but for that law of social
propagation which is ever and everywhere active. But this law, which
connects men and generations, and tends to make history a unit, is not a
part of fate alone; it carries just so much fate and so much freedom as
there are to be carried. It changes nothing; it is simply a vehicle, and
transports freight,--precious stones or ballast stones, as the case may
be. Therefore, in unveiling a single year, and seeing precisely what
this fact of two hundred murders means, we find its meaning for any
possible succession of years. It shows certain measures of fate working
in the bosoms of certain numbers of men; but that there is a fate
inhabiting society as such, and holding every man and woman in its
unfeeling hand, must be proven, if at all, by other facts than these.

Mr. Buckle generalizes with marvellous facility, but often with an
infatuation, or even fatuity, equally marvellous. Specious and audacious
generalization is, however, a vice of thinking more attractive to most
than any virtue,--above all, if it flatter their wishes and opinions.
There are few to appreciate an exquisite temperance, an exquisite virgin
modesty, continence, and reserve, whether in thought or art. The great
masters disappoint, the great showmen dazzle, at first sight; the
multitudes crave sensations and sudden effects. Even among thoughtful
men, there are, in this galloping age, too many who prefer to frequent a
philosophical slop-shop, where they can be fitted to a full suit in five
minutes; and they willingly forgive some bagging and wrinkling, some
ripping of seams and dropping-off of buttons, in consideration of
promptitude in the supply. Nor is this unnatural. Ordinary travel goes
by steam; does it not seem a little hard that thought should have to
journey still in the ancient fashion? And so far as the mass of
readers is concerned, this appetite for fast thinking and reckless
generalization is a cheerful token: it is a gainful substitute for that
hiding away from the blaze of intellect, that terror of large results in
thought, which has harbored in the Vatican since the days of Galileo,
and even in Protestant lands may sometimes be found, like the graveyard,
in the neighborhood of churches. A relish for premature and extravagant
generalization may be pardoned in the mass of readers; but in the
writer? "It must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by
whom the offence cometh!"

Mr. Buckle finds some general book-facts, and, never trying to think
down to their roots, he seizes upon their specious aspect, and thence
rushes out into a generalization, which, rightly understood, sweeps
Personality off the earth. Not such is the spirit of science; not such
the manner of its masters. Look at Newton investigating colors. What
effort for nearness, nearness, nearness to his facts! What solicitation
for entrance to their households and sanctuaries! See Agassiz or Tyndale
investigating the flow of glaciers. Here is no catching at book-aspects
of the matter, and launching instantly into generalization. No, these
men must get within eyeshot, within hand-reach, of the facts, and know
first precisely and intimately what these are. Yet the generalizations
for which they were seeking a basis were trivial in comparison with
those which our author hurtles out after a glance at M. Quetelet. "A
continuous average of so many murders a year; then so many _must_
happen; then somebody _must_ commit them; then free-will is a figment,
and society is the source of all action which we call individual."

Intemperate and infatuated generalization, if supported by a certain
ability, is an attractive vice. Yet he who indulges in this will be
sure to leave upon his brilliant and exciting pages statements that are
simply ludicrous. Our philosopher furnishes an instance of this in his
treatment of the matter of marriage. If wages be low and food high,
marriages are less frequent; if the converse be the case, they are more
frequent. What conclusion would common sense base upon this fact? Why,
of course, that the number of marriages is definitely _influenced_ by
the ease with which sustenance is obtained. But this is a commonplace
result; there is nothing in it bold, brilliant, striking; besides, it
does not make man the slave of outward influences. Accordingly, Mr.
Buckle generalizes from it as follows:--"Marriages, instead of having
_any connection_ with personal feelings, are completely controlled
by the price of food and the rate of wages." He does not distinguish
between a definite modifying influence and a controlling cause. His
facts prove the former; he asserts the latter. Let us see how this
procedure would work elsewhere. There is "a definite relation," in our
author's words, between the force and direction of the winds and the
rise or fall of the sea upon our coast: therefore tidal rise and fall,
"instead of having any connection" with the influence of the moon, are
"completely controlled" by the direction and force of the wind! There is
"a definite relation" between the straightness or want of straightness in
a railroad and the speed of the train: _ergo_, the speed of the train,
"instead of having any connection" with the locomotive and the force of
steam, is "completely controlled" by the line of the road! It is by no
means difficult to philosophize after this fashion; but if we are
to have many professors of such philosophy, let the mediaeval
cap-and-bells, by all means, be reproduced.

Again, having stated the fact of an approximation to a continuous
average of suicides, and having assumed for this a cause operating in
the indivisible whole of society, he goes on to say, "And the power of
this larger law is so irresistible, that neither the love of life nor
the fear of another world can avail anything toward even checking its
operation." How, pray, does Mr. Buckle know? What shadow of a fact has
he to justify this vaunting of his "larger law"? Has he ever known
the love of life and the awe of another world to be suspended? Has he
afterwards seen their action restored, and ascertained that in their
presence and in their absence the ratio of suicides remained the
same? These questions answer themselves. But when a writer who loudly
professes and fully believes himself to proceed purely upon facts
adventures statement so groundless, so gratuitous and reckless as
this, who can pass to the next paragraph in full confidence of his
intellectual rectitude? If you retain, as in this case I do retain,
assurance of his moral rectitude,--of his intention to be fair,--to what
conclusion can you come more charitable than this, that his partiality
to his own notions is so vigorous as not only to overslaugh his sense
of logical truth, but to supersede the necessity of other grounds for
believing these notions and for urging them?

Only our author's first chapter has been dealt with; firstly, because in
this are enunciated those radical conceptions which he afterwards argues
not _to_, but _from_; and secondly, because it has been the writer's
desire, avoiding all vagrant and indecisive criticism, to have a fair
grapple, and come to some clear result,--like that of a wrestler, who
frankly proffers himself to throw or be thrown. It only remains to
indicate, so far as may be, a comprehensive estimate of Mr. Buckle as a

And at last it must be said in plain words that he is to be regarded as
an adventurer in the kingdoms of thought,--though the word must be freed
from all customary flavors of charlatanry and wickedness. One of the
boldest and cleverest of his class; a man, too, of probity, of dignity
and character, amiable, estimable; but _intellectually_ an adventurer
nevertheless. The grand masters in thought are those to whom the
subtilest and most purely universal principles are nearest and most
habitual, coming to the elucidation of all minutest matters no less than
to that of the greatest,--as those forces which hold the solar system
together apply themselves, as on the same level, to a mote wandering
in the air; and because to these masters first principles, through all
their changes of seeming, through all their ranging by analogy up and
down, are never disguised, but are always near and clear and sure, they
can admit the action of all modifying principles without imperilling the
great stabilities of truth; so that in their thought, as in Nature, the
dust-particle shall float and fly with the wind, and yet gravitation
shall hold particle and world in firm, soft, imperial possession.
And next to these are the inventors, guided by a fine felicity of
intelligence to special discoveries and admirable combinations, often
surpassing in this way the masters themselves. And then come the wise
and great scholars, who learn quickly what has been discovered, and
follow the masters not by sight only, as a greyhound, but by long
inferences; and these also do noble work. And after these follow the
broader company of useful, able, eloquent men, applying, explaining,
illustrating, and preparing the way for schools and commerce and the
newspaper. Finally comes a man with a genius for boldness more than for
anything else, so that he has a pleasant feeling of himself only when
he gives himself the sense of being startling, novel, venturesome,
and therefore goes off in his thought as in a balloon: and of such
man,--being daring, ingenious, agile, and not being profound,--this
will be the unfailing characteristic, that he substitutes and asserts
secondary principles, which are obvious, outward, and within his reach,
for primary principles, which are deep, subtile, inward, and beyond his
reach; he will swing loose from the principles which are indeed prime
and imperial in Nature, and will boldly assert secondary principles as
fundamental: this man is the intellectual adventurer.

And this is Mr. Buckle. The first fact with regard to man is his
possession of a rational soul, and consequently of that liberation of
will without which, despite the existence of reason, he could not be in
act a reasonable being. But the secondary fact in this connection
is that man's freedom is modified by pedigree, by temperament, by
influences almost numberless, and that he is included in laws, so that,
if he falls away from reason, he falls into the hands of fate. And
this secondary or modifying congeries of facts our author announces as

The first fact with regard to the soul is that it is intelligent and
vocal,--that it is not merely a subject, but also an organ, of THAT
WHICH KNOWS in the universe. The modifying fact is that its voice is
commonly obscure, and the language it shall use and the logic of
its utterance prescribed by the accident of time, place, and other
circumstances; so that it has the semblance of voices many and
contradictory. And this modifying fact Mr. Buckle announces, with much
assurance and complacency, as primary.

The first fact in the world of man is Personality. The secondary fact is
Society,--secondary, but reciprocal, and full of import. And Mr. Buckle
begins with making Personality acephalous, and ends-with appending its
corpse to Society, to be galvanized into seemings of life. And if
you follow him through his book, you find this inversion constantly
maintained,--and find, moreover, that it is chiefly this revolutionary
audacity which makes his propositions so startling and his pages to many
so fascinating.

Therefore an adventurer. This is concerning _him_ the primary fact. But
the modifying fact is that he has the manners of a gentleman, the heart
of a humanitarian, the learning of a scholar, the pen of a ready writer,
the outside or _shell_ of a philosophical genius, excellent admixtures
of sense, and an attractive hatred of ecclesiastical and political

He has great surface-reach, but no inward breadth. He invariably takes
the liberal side with regard to practical and popular questions;
he invariably takes the illiberal side in respect to questions of
philosophy. In politics and in social feeling he is cosmopolitan; in
questions of pure thought he is cockney. Here he is a tyrant; he puts
out the soul's eyes, and casts fetters about its feet; here he is hard,
narrow, materialistic, mechanical,--or, in a word, English. For--we may
turn aside to say--in philosophy no nation is so straitened, illiberal,
and hard of hearing as England, except, perhaps, China. Its tympanum
is sadly thickened at once with materialism and conceit; and the
consequence is that a thinker there is either ignored into silence, like
Wilkinson, or driven to bellow, like Carlyle, or to put rapiers and
poignards into his speech, like Ruskin. Carlyle began speaking sweetly
and humanly, and was heard only on this side the ocean; then he came to
his bull-of-Bashan tones, and was attended to on his own side the water.
It is observable, too, that, if a thinker in America goes beyond the
respectable dinner-table depth, your true Englishman takes it for a
personal affront, and hastens to make an ass of himself in the "Saturday

Apply to Mr. Buckle any test that determines the question of pure
intellectual power, and he fails to sustain it. Let us proceed to apply

No man is an able thinker who is without power to comprehend that law
of reciprocal opposites, on which the world is built. For an example of
this: the universe is indeed a _uni_-verse, a pure unit, emanating, as
we think, from a spirit that is, in the words of old Hooker, "not only
one, but very oneness," simple, indivisible, and therefore total in all
action; and yet this universe is various, multifarious, full of special
character, full even of fierce antagonisms and blazing contradictions.
Infinite and Finite, Same and Diverse, Eternal and Temporary, Universal
and Special,--here they are, purest opposites, yet mutual, reciprocal,
necessary to each other; and he is a narrow man who cannot stand in open
relations with both terms, reconciling in the depths of his life, though
he can never explain, the mystery of their friendship. He who will
adhere only to the universal, and makes a blur of the special, is a
rhapsodist; he who can apprehend only the special, being blind and
callous to the universal, is a chatterer and magpie. From these
opposites we never escape; Destiny and Freedom, Rest and Motion,
Individual and Society, Origination and Memory, Intuition and
Observation, Soul and Body,--you meet them everywhere; and everywhere
they are, without losing their character of opposites, nay, in very
virtue of their opposition, playing into and supporting each other.

But, from the fact that they _are_ opposites, it is always easy to catch
up one, and become its partisan as against the other. It is easy in
such advocacy to be plausible, forcible, affluent in words and apparent
reasons; also to be bold, striking, astonishing. And yet such an
advocate will never speak a word of pure truth. "He who knows half,"
says Goethe, "speaks much, and says nothing to the purpose; he who knows
all inclines to act, and speaks seldom or late." With such partisanship
and advocacy the world has been liberally, and more than liberally,
supplied. Such a number of Eurekas have been shouted! So often it has
been discovered that the world is no such riddle, after all,--that half
of it is really the whole! No doubt all this was good boy's-play once;
afterwards it did to laugh at for a while; then it ceased to be even
a joke, and grew a weariness and an affliction; and at length we all
rejoiced when the mighty world-pedagogue of Chelsea seized his ferule,
and roared, over land and sea, "Silence, babblers!"

If only Mr. Buckle had profited by the command! For, follow this writer
where you will, you find him the partisan of a particular term as
against its fraternal opposite. It is Fate _against_ Free-Will; Society
_against_ the prerogatives of Personality; Man _against_ Outward Nature
(for he considers them only as antagonistic, one "triumphing" over
the other); Intellect _against_ the Moral Sense; Induction _against_
Deduction and Intuition; Knowledge _against_ Reverence; and so on and
on to the utter weariness of one reader, if of no more. For what can be
more wearying and saddening than to follow the pages of a writer who
is fertile, ingenious, eloquent, rich in right feeling, in reading and
courage, and yet who, in chapter after chapter of effective paragraphs,
and tome after tome of powerful chapters, is merely persuading you that
half is the whole? And if your duty as a scholar require you to peruse
the book fully, instead of casting it aside, your mind at length fairly
_aches_ for the sense of poise and soundness, were it only for a single
page. But no; it is always the same succession of perspicuous and
vigorous sentences, all carrying flavors of important truth, and none
utterly true. For the half _is_ really half; but it simply is _not_ the
whole, be as eloquent about it as one may.

Such, then, is the estimate here given of Mr. Buckle's laborious and
powerful work. Meantime, with every secondary merit which such a work
_could_ possess this is replete; while its faults are only such as were
inseparable from the conjunction of such ambitions with such powers. He
may whet and wield his blade; but he puts no poison on its edge. He may
disparage reverence; but he is not himself irreverent. He may impugn the
convictions that most men love; but, while withholding no syllable of
dissent and reprehension, he utters not a syllable that can insult or
sting. And all the while his pages teem with observations full of point,
and half full of admirable sense and suggestion.

After all, we owe him thanks,--thanks, it may be, even for his errors.
The popular notions of moral liberty are probably not profound, and
require deepening. The grand fact that we name Personality _is_ grand
and of an unsounded depth only because in it Destiny and Freedom meet
and become one. But the play into this of Destiny and Eternal Necessity
is, in general, dimly discerned. The will is popularly pronounced free,
but is thought to originate, as it were, "between one's hat and his
boots"; and so man loses all largeness of relation, and personality all
grandeur. Now blisters, though ill for health, may be wholesome for
disease; and doctrines of Fate, that empty every man of his soul, may
be good as against notions of moral liberty that make one's soul of a
pin's-head dimension. It may be well, also, that the doctrine of Social
Fate should be preached until all are made to see that Society is a
fact,--that it is generative,--that personal development cannot go on
but by its mediation,--that the chain of spiritual interdependence
cannot be broken, and that in proportion as it is weakened every bosom
becomes barren. In this case also Mr. Buckle may be medicinal. We
owe him thanks also for refreshing our expectation of a science of
civilization,--for affirming the venerableness of intellect, which
recent teachers have undervalued,--for vindicating the uses of
doubt,--and, finally, for a specimen of intellectual intrepidity of
which one could wish there were less need. And withal how royally he
presumes upon a welcome for candid confession of his thought! Such a
presumption could be created in his soul only by a great magnanimity;
and the evidence of this on his pages sheds a beauty about all his

But he is not an Oedipus. He has guessed; and the riddle awaits another
comer. A science of history he has not established; the direction in
which it lies he has not pointed out; and if Hegel and his precursors
have failed to indicate such a science, the first clear step toward it
remains yet to be taken. And should some majestic genius--for no other
will be sufficient for the task--at length arise to lay hold upon the
facts of man's history, and exercise over them a Newtonian sway, he will
be the last man on the planet to take his initial hint from Auguste
Comte and the "Positive Philosophy." This mud-mountain is indeed
considerably heaped up, but it is a very poor Pisgah nevertheless; for
it is a mountain in a pit, whose top does not rise to an equality with
the broad common levels, far less with the high table-lands and skyward
peaks and summits of intelligence.


From Leamington to Stratford-on-Avon the distance is eight or nine
miles, over a road that seemed to me most beautiful. Not that I can
recall any memorable peculiarities; for the country, most of the way, is
a succession of the gentlest swells and subsidences, affording wide and
far glimpses of champaign-scenery here and there, and sinking almost to
a dead level as we draw near Stratford. Any landscape in New England,
even the tamest, has a more striking outline, and besides would have its
blue eyes open in those lakelets that we encounter almost from mile to
mile at home, but of which the Old Country is utterly destitute; or it
would smile in our faces through the medium of those way-side brooks
that vanish under a low stone arch on one side of the road, and sparkle
out again on the other. Neither of these pretty features is often to be
found in an English scene. The charm of the latter consists in the rich
verdure of the fields, in the stately way-side trees and carefully
kept plantations of wood, and in the old and high cultivation that has
humanized the very sods by mingling so much of man's toil and care among
them. To an American there is a kind of sanctity even in an English
turnip-field, when he thinks how long that small square of ground has
been known and recognized as a possession, transmitted from father to
son, trodden often by memorable feet, and utterly redeemed from savagery
by old acquaintanceship with civilized eyes. The wildest things in
England are more than half tame. The trees, for instance, whether in
hedgerow, park, or what they call forest, have nothing wild about them.
They are never ragged; there is a certain decorous restraint in the
freest outspread of their branches, though they spread wider than any
self-nurturing tree; they are tall, vigorous, bulky, with a look of
age-long life, and a promise of more years to come, all of which will
bring them into closer kindred with the race of man. Somebody or other
has known them from the sapling upward; and if they endure long enough,
they grow to be traditionally observed and honored, and connected with
the fortunes of old families, till, like Tennyson's Talking Oak, they
babble with a thousand leafy tongues to ears that can understand them.

An American tree, however, if it could grow in fair competition with an
English one of similar species, would probably be the more picturesque
object of the two. The Warwickshire elm has not so beautiful a shape
as those that overhang our village-street; and as for the redoubtable
English oak, there is a certain John-Bullism in its figure, a compact
rotundity of foliage, a lack of irregular and various outline, that make
it look wonderfully like a gigantic cauliflower. Its leaf, too, is much
smaller than that of most varieties of American oak; nor do I mean
to doubt that the latter, with free leave to grow, reverent care and
cultivation, and immunity from the axe, would live out its centuries
as sturdily as its English brother, and prove far the nobler and more
majestic specimen of a tree at the end of them. Still, however one's
Yankee patriotism may struggle against the admission, it must be owned
that the trees and other objects of an English landscape take hold of
the observer by numberless minute tendrils, as it were, which, look as
closely as we choose, we never find in an American scene. The parasitic
growth is so luxuriant, that the trunk of the tree, so gray and dry in
our climate, is better worth observing than the boughs and foliage; a
verdant mossiness coats it all over, so that it looks almost as green as
the leaves; and often, moreover, the stately stem is clustered about,
high upward, with creeping and twining shrubs, the ivy, and sometimes
the mistletoe, close-clinging friends, nurtured by the moisture and
never too fervid sunshine, and supporting themselves by the old tree's
abundant strength. We call it a parasitical vegetation; but, if the
phrase imply any reproach, it is unkind to bestow it on this beautiful
affection and relationship which exist in England between one order of
plants and another: the strong tree being always ready to give support
to the trailing shrub, lift it to the sun, and feed it out of its own
heart, if it crave such food; and the shrub, on its part, repaying its
foster-father with an ample luxuriance of beauty, and adding Corinthian
grace to the tree's lofty strength. No bitter winter nips these tender
little sympathies, no hot sun burns the life out of them; and therefore
they outlast the longevity of the oak, and, if the woodman permitted,
would bury it in a green grave, when all is over.

Should there be nothing else along the road to look at, an English hedge
might well suffice to occupy the eyes, and, to a depth beyond what he
would suppose, the heart of an American. We often set out hedges in our
own soil, but might as well set out figs or pineapples and expect to
gather fruit of them. Something grows, to be sure, which we choose to
call a hedge; but it lacks the dense, luxuriant variety of vegetation
that is accumulated into the English original, in which a botanist would
find a thousand shrubs and gracious herbs that the hedge-maker never
thought of planting there. Among them, growing wild, are many of the
kindred blossoms of the very flowers which our pilgrim fathers brought
from England, for the sake of their simple beauty and home-like
associations, and which we have ever since been cultivating in gardens.
There is not a softer trait to be found in the character of those stern
men than that they should have been sensible of these flower-roots
clinging among the fibres of their rugged hearts, and have felt the
necessity of bringing them over sea and making them hereditary in the
new land, instead of trusting to what rarer beauty the wilderness might
have in store for them.

Or, if the road-side has no hedge, the ugliest stone fence (such as, in
America, would keep itself bare and unsympathizing till the end of time)
is sure to be covered with the small handiwork of Nature; that careful
mother lets nothing go naked there, and, if she cannot provide clothing,
gives at least embroidery. No sooner is the fence built than she adopts
and adorns it as a part of her original plan, treating the hard,
uncomely construction as if it had all along been a favorite idea of her
own. A little sprig of ivy may be seen creeping up the side of the low
wall and clinging fast with its many feet to the rough surface; a tuft
of grass roots itself between two of the stones, where a pinch or two of
way-side dust has been moistened into nutritious soil for it; a small
bunch of fern grows in another crevice; a deep, soft, verdant moss
spreads itself along the top and over all the available inequalities of
the fence; and where nothing else will grow, lichens stick tenaciously
to the bare stones and variegate the monotonous gray with hues of yellow
and red. Finally, a great deal of shrubbery clusters along the base of
the stone wall, and takes away the hardness of its outline; and in due
time, as the upshot of these apparently aimless or sportive touches, we
recognize that the beneficent Creator of all things, working through His
handmaiden whom we call Nature, has deigned to mingle a charm of divine
gracefulness even with so earthly an institution as a boundary-fence.
The clown who wrought at it little dreamed what fellow-laborer he had.

The English should send us photographs of portions of the trunks of
trees, the tangled and various products of a hedge, and a square foot of
an old wall.

They can hardly send anything else so characteristic. Their artists,
especially of the later school, sometimes toil to depict such subjects,
but are apt to stiffen the lithe tendrils in the process. The poets
succeed better, with Tennyson at their head, and often produce ravishing
effects by dint of a tender minuteness of touch, to which the genius of
the soil and climate artfully impels them: for, as regards grandeur,
there are loftier scenes in many countries than the best that England
can show; but, for the picturesqueness of the smallest object that
lies under its gentle gloom and sunshine, there is no scenery like it

In the foregoing paragraphs I have strayed away to a long distance from
the road to Stratford-on-Avon; for I remember no such stone fences as I
have been speaking of in Warwickshire, nor elsewhere in England, except
among the Lakes, or in Yorkshire, and the rough and hilly countries to
the north of it. Hedges there were along my road, however, and broad,
level fields, rustic hamlets, and cottages of ancient date,--from the
roof of one of which the occupant was tearing away the thatch, and
showing what an accumulation of dust, dirt, mouldiness, roots of weeds,
families of mice, swallows' nests, and hordes of insects, had been
deposited there since that old straw was new. Estimating its antiquity
from these tokens, Shakspeare himself, in one of his morning rambles out
of his native town, might have seen the thatch laid on; at all events,
the cottage-walls were old enough to have known him as a guest. A few
modern villas were also to be seen, and perhaps there were mansions of
old gentility at no great distance, but hidden among trees; for it is a
point of English pride that such houses seldom allow themselves to be
visible from the high-road. In short, I recollect nothing specially
remarkable along the way, nor in the immediate approach to Stratford;
and yet the picture of that June morning has a glory in my memory, owing
chiefly, I believe, to the charm of the English summer-weather, the
really good days of which are the most delightful that mortal man can
ever hope to be favored with. Such a genial warmth! A little too warm,
it might be, yet only to such a degree as to assure an American (a
certainty to which he seldom attains till attempered to the customary
austerity of an English summer-day) that he was quite warm enough. And
after all, there was an unconquerable freshness in the atmosphere, which
every little movement of a breeze shook over me like a dash of the
ocean-spray. Such days need bring us no other happiness than their
own light and temperature. No doubt, I could not have enjoyed it so
exquisitely, except that there must be still latent in us Western
wanderers (even after an absence of two centuries and more) an
adaptation to the English climate which makes us sensible of a motherly
kindness in its scantiest sunshine, and overflows us with delight at its
more lavish smiles.

The spire of Shakspeare's church--the Church of the Holy Trinity--begins
to show itself among the trees at a little distance from Stratford. Next
we see the shabby old dwellings, intermixed with mean-looking houses
of modern date, and the streets being quite level, you are struck and
surprised by nothing so much as the tameness of the general scene; as
if Shakspeare's genius were vivid enough to have wrought pictorial
splendors in the town where he was born. Here and there, however, a
queer edifice meets your eye, endowed with the individuality that
belongs only to the domestic architecture of times gone by; the house
seems to have grown out of some odd quality in its inhabitant, as a
sea-shell is moulded from within by the character of its inmate; and
having been built in a strange fashion, generations ago, it has ever
since been growing stranger and quainter, as old humorists are apt to
do. Here, too, (as so often impressed me in decayed English towns,)
there appeared to be a greater abundance of aged people wearing
small-clothes and leaning on sticks than you could assemble on our side
of the water by sounding a trumpet and proclaiming a reward for the most
venerable. I tried to account for this phenomenon by several theories:
as, for example, that our new towns are unwholesome for age and kill it
off unseasonably; or that our old men have a subtile sense of fitness,
and die of their own accord rather than live in an unseemly contrast
with youth and novelty: but the secret may be, after all, that
hair-dyes, false teeth, modern arts of dress, and other contrivances of
a skin-deep youthfulness, have not crept into these antiquated English
towns, and so people grow old without the weary necessity of seeming
younger than they are.

After wandering through two or three streets, I found my way to
Shakspeare's birthplace, which is almost a smaller and humbler house
than any description can prepare the visitor to expect; so inevitably
does an august inhabitant make his abode palatial to our imaginations,
receiving his guests, indeed, in a castle in the air, until we unwisely
insist on meeting him among the sordid lanes and alleys of lower earth.
The portion of the edifice with which Shakspeare had anything to do is
hardly large enough, in the basement, to contain the butcher's stall
that one of his descendants kept, and that still remains there,
windowless, with the cleaver-cuts in its hacked counter, which projects
into the street under a little penthouse-roof, as if waiting for a new
occupant. The upper half of the door was open, and, on my rapping at it,
a young person in black made her appearance and admitted me: she was not
a menial, but remarkably genteel (an American characteristic) for an
English girl, and was probably the daughter of the old gentlewoman who
takes care of the house. This lower room has a pavement of gray slabs of
stone, which may have been rudely squared when the house was new, but
are now all cracked, broken, and disarranged in a most unaccountable
way. One does not see how any ordinary usage, for whatever length
of time, should have so smashed these heavy stones; it is as if an
earthquake had burst up through the floor, which afterwards had been
imperfectly trodden down again. The room is whitewashed and very clean,
but wofully shabby and dingy, coarsely built, and such as the most
poetical imagination would find it difficult to idealize. In the rear of
this apartment is the kitchen, a still smaller room, of a similar rude
aspect; it has a great, rough fireplace, with space for a large family
under the blackened opening of the chimney, and an immense passage-way
for the smoke, through which Shakspeare may have seen the blue sky by
day and the stars glimmering down at him by night. It is now a dreary
spot where the long-extinguished embers used to be. A glowing fire, even
if it covered only a quarter part of the hearth, might still do much
towards making the old kitchen cheerful; but we get a depressing idea
of the stifled, poor, sombre kind of life that could have been lived in
such a dwelling, where this room seems to have been the gathering-place
of the family, with no breadth or scope, no good retirement, but old
and young huddling together cheek by jowl. What a hardy plant was
Shakspeare's genius, how fatal its development, since it could not be
blighted in such an atmosphere! It only brought human nature the closer
to him, and put more unctuous earth about his roots.

Thence I was ushered up-stairs to the room in which Shakspeare is
supposed to have been born; though, if you peep too curiously into the
matter, you may find the shadow of an ugly doubt on this, as well as
most other points of his mysterious life. It is the chamber over the
butcher's shop, and is lighted by one broad window containing a great
many small, irregular panes of glass. The floor is made of planks, very
rudely hewn, and fitting together with little neatness; the naked beams
and rafters, at the sides of the room and overhead, bear the original
marks of the builder's broad-axe, with no evidence of an attempt
to smooth off the job. Again we have to reconcile ourselves to the
smallness of the space inclosed by these illustrious walls,--a
circumstance more difficult to accept, as regards places that we
have heard, read, thought, and dreamed much about, than any other
disenchanting particular of a mistaken ideal. A few paces--perhaps seven
or eight--take us from end to end of it. So low it is, that I
could easily touch the ceiling, and might have done so without a
tiptoe-stretch, had it been a good deal higher; and this humility of
the chamber has tempted a vast multitude of people to write their
names overhead in pencil. Every inch of the side-walls, even into the
obscurest nooks and corners, is covered with a similar record; all the
window-panes, moreover, are scrawled with diamond-signatures, among
which is said to be that of Walter Scott; but so many persons have
sought to immortalize themselves in close vicinity to his name that I
really could not trace him out. Methinks it is strange that people
do not strive to forget their forlorn little identities, in such
situations, instead of thrusting them forward into the dazzle of a great
renown, where, if noticed, they cannot but be deemed impertinent.

This room, and the entire house, so far as I saw it, are whitewashed and
exceedingly clean; nor is there the aged, musty smell with which old
Chester first made me acquainted, and which goes far to cure an American
of his excessive predilection for antique residences. An old lady,
who took charge of me up-stairs, had the manners and aspect of a
gentlewoman, and talked with somewhat formidable knowledge and
appreciative intelligence about Shakspeare. Arranged on a table and in
chairs were various prints, views of houses and scenes connected with
Shakspeare's memory, together with editions of his works and local
publications about his home and haunts, from the sale of which this
respectable lady perhaps realizes a handsome profit. At any rate, I
bought a good many of them, conceiving that it might be the civillest
way of requiting her for her instructive conversation and the trouble
she took in showing me the house. It cost me a pang (not a curmudgeonly,
but a gentlemanly one) to offer a downright fee to the lady-like girl
who had admitted me; but I swallowed my delicate scruples with some
little difficulty, and she digested hers, so far as I could observe,
with no difficulty at all. In fact, nobody need fear to hold out half
a crown to any person with whom he has occasion to speak a word in

I should consider it unfair to quit Shakspeare's house without the frank
acknowledgment that I was conscious of not the slightest emotion while
viewing it, nor any quickening of the imagination. This has often
happened to me in my visits to memorable places. Whatever pretty and
apposite reflections I may have made upon the subject had either
occurred to me before I ever saw Stratford, or have been elaborated
since. It is pleasant, nevertheless, to think that I have seen the
place; and I believe that I can form a more sensible and vivid idea of
Shakspeare as a flesh-and-blood individual now that I have stood on the
kitchen-hearth and in the birth-chamber; but I am not quite certain that
this power of realization is altogether desirable in reference to a
great poet. The Shakspeare whom I met there took various guises, but had
not his laurel on. He was successively the roguish boy,--the youthful
deer-stealer,--the comrade of players,--the too familiar friend of
Davenant's mother,--the careful, thrifty, thriven man of property, who
came back from London to lend money on bond, and occupy the best house
in Stratford,--the mellow, red-nosed, autumnal boon-companion of John a'
Combe, who (or else the Stratford gossips belied him) met his death by
tumbling into a ditch on his way home from a drinking-bout, and left his
second-best bed to his poor wife. I feel, as sensibly as the reader can,
what horrible impiety it is to remember these things, be they true or
false. In either case, they ought to vanish out of sight on the distant
ocean-line of the past, leaving a pure, white memory, even as a sail,
though perhaps darkened with many stains, looks snowy white on the far
horizon. But I draw a moral from these unworthy reminiscences and this
embodiment of the poet, as suggested by some of the grimy actualities of
his life. It is for the high interests of the world not to insist upon
finding out that its greatest men are, in a certain lower sense, very
much the same kind of men as the rest of us, and often a little worse;
because a common mind cannot properly digest such a discovery, nor ever
know the true proportion of the great man's good and evil, nor how small
a part of him it was that touched our muddy or dusty earth. Thence comes
moral bewilderment, and even intellectual loss, in regard to what is
best of him. When Shakspeare invoked a curse on the man who should stir
his bones, he perhaps meant the larger share of it for him or them who
should pry into his perishing earthliness, the defects or even the
merits of the character that he wore in Stratford, when he had left
mankind so much to muse upon that was imperishable and divine. Heaven
keep me from incurring any part of the anathema in requital for the
irreverent sentences above written!

From Shakspeare's house, the nest step, of course, is to visit his
burial-place. The appearance of the church is most venerable and
beautiful, standing amid a great green shadow of lime-trees, above which
rises the spire, while the Gothic battlements and buttresses and vast
arched windows are obscurely seen through the boughs. The Avon loiters
past the church-yard, an exceedingly sluggish river, which might seem
to have been considering which way it should flow ever since Shakspeare
left off paddling in it and gathering the large forget-me-nots that grow
among its flags and water-weeds.

An old man in small-clothes was waiting at the gate; and inquiring
whether I wished to go in, he preceded me to the church-porch, and
rapped. I could have done it quite as effectually for myself; but, it
seems, the old people of the neighborhood haunt about the church-yard,
in spite of the frowns and remonstrances of the sexton, who grudges them
the half-eleemosynary sixpence which they sometimes get from visitors.
I was admitted into the church by a respectable-looking and intelligent
man in black, the parish-clerk, I suppose, and probably holding a richer
incumbency than his vicar, if all the fees which he handles remain in
his own pocket. He was already exhibiting the Shakspeare monuments to
two or three visitors, and several other parties came in while I was

The poet and his family are in possession of what may be considered the
very best burial-places that the church affords. They lie in a row,
right across the breadth of the chancel, the foot of each gravestone
being close to the elevated floor on which the altar stands. Nearest
to the side-wall, beneath Shakspeare's bust, is a slab bearing a Latin
inscription addressed to his wife, and covering her remains; then his
own slab, with the old anathematizing stanza upon it; then that of
Thomas Nash, who married his grand-daughter; then that of Dr. Hall,
the husband of his daughter Susannah; and, lastly, Susannah's own.
Shakspeare's is the commonest-looking slab of all, being just such a
flag-stone as Essex Street in Salem used to be paved with, when I was
a boy. Moreover, unless my eyes or recollection deceive me, there is a
crack across it, as if it had already undergone some such violence as
the inscription deprecates. Unlike the other monuments of the family,
it bears no name, nor am I acquainted with the grounds or authority on
which it is absolutely determined to be Shakspeare's; although, being
in a range with those of his wife and children, it might naturally be
attributed to him. But, then, why does his wife, who died afterwards,
take precedence of him and occupy the place next his bust? And where are
the graves of another daughter and a son, who have a better right in the
family-row than Thomas Nash, his grandson-in-law? Might not one or both
of them have been laid under the nameless stone? But it is dangerous
trifling with Shakspeare's dust; so I forbear to meddle further with
the grave, (though the prohibition makes it tempting,) and shall let
whatever bones be in it rest in peace. Yet I must needs add that the
inscription on the bust seems to imply that Shakspeare's grave was
directly underneath it.

The poet's bust is affixed to the northern wall of the church, the base
of it being about a man's height, or rather more, above the floor of the
chancel. The features of this piece of sculpture are entirely unlike any
portrait of Shakspeare that I have ever seen, and compel me to take down
the beautiful, lofty-browed, and noble picture of him which has hitherto
hung in my mental portrait-gallery. The bust cannot be said to represent
a beautiful face or an eminently noble head; but it clutches firmly hold
of one's sense of reality and insists upon your accepting it, if not as
Shakspeare the poet, yet as the wealthy burgher of Stratford, the friend
of John a' Combe, who lies yonder in the corner. I know not what the
phrenologists say to the bust. The forehead is but moderately developed,
and retreats somewhat, the upper part of the skull rising pyramidally;
the eyes are prominent almost beyond the penthouse of the brow; the
upper lip is so long that it must have been almost a deformity, unless
the sculptor artistically exaggerated its length, in consideration,
that, on the pedestal, it must be foreshortened by being looked at from
below. On the whole, Shakspeare must have had a singular rather than a
prepossessing face; and it is wonderful how, with this bust before its
eyes, the world has persisted in maintaining an erroneous notion of his
appearance, allowing painters and sculptors to foist their idealized
nonsense on us all, instead of the genuine man. For my part, the
Shakspeare of my mind's eye is henceforth to be a personage of a ruddy
English complexion, with a reasonably capacious brow, intelligent and
quickly observant eyes, a nose curved slightly outward, a long, queer
upper-lip, with the mouth a little unclosed beneath it, and cheeks
considerably developed in the lower part and beneath the chin. But when
Shakspeare was himself, (for nine-tenths of the time, according to all
appearances, he was but the burgher of Stratford,) he doubtless shone
through this dull mask and transfigured it into the face of an angel.

Fifteen or twenty feet behind the row of Shakspeare gravestones is the
great east-window of the church, now brilliant with stained glass of
recent manufacture. On one side of this window, under a sculptured arch
of marble, lies a full-length marble figure of John a' Combe, clad in
what I take to be a robe of municipal dignity, and holding its hands
devoutly clasped. It is a sturdy English figure, with coarse features,
a type of ordinary man whom we smile to see immortalized in the
sculpturesque material of poets and heroes; but the prayerful attitude
encourages us to believe that the old usurer may not, after all, have
had that grim reception in the other world which Shakspeare's squib
foreboded for him. By-the-by, till I grew somewhat familiar with
Warwickshire pronunciation, I never understood that the point of those
ill-natured lines was a pun. "'Oho!' quoth the Devil, ''tis my John a'
Combe!'"--that is, "my John has come!"

Close to the poet's bust is a nameless, oblong, cubic tomb, supposed to
be that of a clerical dignitary of the fourteenth century. The church
has other mural monuments and altar-tombs, one or two of the latter
upholding the recumbent figures of knights in armor and their dames,
very eminent and worshipful personages in their day, no doubt, but
doomed to appear forever intrusive and impertinent within the precincts
which Shakspeare has made his own. His renown is tyrannous, and suffers
nothing else to be recognized within the scope of its material presence,
unless illuminated by some side-ray from himself. The clerk informed me
that interments no longer take place in any part of the church. And it
is better so; for methinks a person of delicate individuality, curious
about his burial-place, and desirous of six feet of earth for himself
alone, could never endure to lie buried near Shakspeare, but would rise
up at midnight and grope his way out of the church-door, rather than
sleep in the shadow of so stupendous a memory.

I should hardly have dared to add another to the innumerable
descriptions of Stratford-on-Avon, if it had not seemed to me that
this would form a fitting framework to some reminiscences of a very
remarkable woman. Her labor, while she lived, was of a nature and
purpose outwardly irreverent to the name of Shakspeare, yet, by its
actual tendency, entitling her to the distinction of being that one of
all his worshippers who sought, though she knew it not, to place the
richest and stateliest diadem upon his brow. We Americans, at least, in
the scanty annals of our literature, cannot afford to forget her high
and conscientious exercise of noble faculties, which, indeed, if you
look at the matter in one way, evolved only a miserable error, but, more
fairly considered, produced a result worth almost what it cost her. Her
faith in her own ideas was so genuine, that, erroneous as they were,
it transmuted them to gold, or, at all events, interfused a large
proportion of that precious and indestructible substance among the waste
material from which it can readily be sifted.

The only time I ever saw Miss Bacon was in London, where she had
lodgings in Spring Street, Sussex Gardens, at the house of a grocer, a
portly, middle-aged, civil, and friendly man, who, as well as his wife,
appeared to feel a personal kindness towards their lodger. I was ushered
up two (and I rather believe three) pair of stairs into a parlor
somewhat humbly furnished, and told that Miss Bacon would come soon.
There were a number of books on the table, and, looking into them, I
found that every one had some reference, more or less immediate, to her
Shakspearian theory,--a volume of Raleigh's "History of the World,"
a volume of Montaigne, a volume of Lord Bacon's letters, a volume of
Shakspeare's plays; and on another table lay a large roll of manuscript,
which I presume to have been a portion of her work. To be sure, there
was a pocket-Bible among the books, but everything else referred to the
one despotic idea that had got possession of her mind; and as it had
engrossed her whole soul as well as her intellect, I have no doubt
that she had established subtile connections between it and the Bible
likewise. As is apt to be the case with solitary students, Miss Bacon
probably read late and rose late; for I took up Montaigne (it was
Hazlitt's translation) and had been reading his journey to Italy a good
while before she appeared.

I had expected (the more shame for me, having no other ground of such
expectation than that she was a literary woman) to see a very homely,
uncouth, elderly personage, and was quite agreeably disappointed by
her aspect. She was rather uncommonly tall, and had a striking and
expressive face, dark hair, dark eyes, which shone with an inward light
as soon as she began to speak, and by-and-by a color came into her
cheeks and made her look almost young. Not that she really was so; she
must have been beyond middle-age: and there was no unkindness in coming
to that conclusion, because, making allowance for years and ill-health,
I could suppose her to have been handsome and exceedingly attractive
once. Though wholly estranged from society, there was little or no
restraint or embarrassment in her manner: lonely people are generally
glad to give utterance to their pent-up ideas, and often bubble over
with them as freely as children with their new-found syllables. I cannot
tell how it came about, but we immediately found ourselves taking a
friendly and familiar tone together, and began to talk as if we had
known one another a very long while. A little preliminary correspondence
had indeed smoothed the way, and we had a definite topic in the
contemplated publication of her book.

She was very communicative about her theory, and would have been much
more so, had I desired it; but, being conscious within myself of a
sturdy unbelief, I deemed it fair and honest rather to repress than draw
her out upon the subject. Unquestionably, she was a monomaniac; these
overmastering ideas about the authorship of Shakspeare's plays, and the
deep political philosophy concealed beneath the surface of them, had
completely thrown her off her balance; but at the same time they had
wonderfully developed her intellect, and made her what she could not
otherwise have become. It was a very singular phenomenon: a system
of philosophy growing up in this woman's mind without her
volition,--contrary, in fact, to the determined resistance of her
volition,--and substituting itself in the place of everything that
originally grew there. To have based such a system on fancy, and
unconsciously elaborated it for herself, was almost as wonderful as
really to have found it in the plays. But, in a certain sense, she did
actually find it there. Shakspeare has surface beneath surface, to an
immeasurable depth, adapted to the plummet-line of every reader; his
works present many faces of truth, each with scope enough to fill a
contemplative mind. Whatever you seek in him you will surely
discover, provided you seek truth. There is no exhausting the various
interpretation of his symbols; and a thousand years hence, a world of
new readers will possess a whole library of new books, as we ourselves
do, in these volumes old already. I had half a mind to suggest to Miss
Bacon this explanation of her theory, but forbore, because (as I could
readily perceive) she had as princely a spirit as Queen Elizabeth
herself, and would at once have motioned me from the room.

I had heard, long ago, that she believed that the material evidences
of her dogma as to the authorship, together with the key of the new
philosophy, would be found buried in Shakspeare's grave. Recently, as
I understood her, this notion had been somewhat modified, and was now
accurately defined and fully developed in her mind, with a result of
perfect certainty. In Lord Bacon's letters, on which she laid her finger
as she spoke, she had discovered the key and clue to the whole mystery.
There were definite and minute instructions how to find a will and other
documents relating to the conclave of Elizabethan philosophers, which
were concealed (when and by whom she did not inform me) in a hollow
space in the under surface of Shakspeare's gravestone. Thus the terrible
prohibition to remove the stone was accounted for. The directions, she
intimated, went completely and precisely to the point, obviating all
difficulties in the way of coming at the treasure, and even, if I
remember right, were so contrived as to ward off any troublesome
consequences likely to ensue from the interference of the
parish-officers. All that Miss Bacon now remained in England
for--indeed, the object for which she had come hither, and which had
kept her here for three years past--was to obtain possession of these
material and unquestionable proofs of the authenticity of her theory.

She communicated all this strange matter in a low, quiet tone; while, on
my part, I listened as quietly, and without any expression of dissent.
Controversy against a faith so settled would have shut her up at
once, and that, too, without in the least weakening her belief in the
existence of those treasures of the tomb; and had it been possible to
convince her of their intangible nature, I apprehend that there would
have been nothing left for the poor enthusiast save to collapse and die.
She frankly confessed that she could no longer bear the society of those
who did not at least lend a certain sympathy to her views, if not fully
share in them; and meeting little sympathy or none, she had now entirely
secluded herself from the world. In all these years, she had seen Mrs.
F. a few times, but had long ago given her up,--Carlyle once or twice,
but not of late, although he had received her kindly; Mr. Buchanan,
while minister in England, had once called on her, and General Campbell,
our consul in London, had met her two or three times on business.
With these exceptions, which she marked so scrupulously that it was
perceptible what epochs they were in the monotonous passage of her days,
she had lived in the profoundest solitude. She never walked out;
she suffered much from ill-health; and yet, she assured me, she was
perfectly happy.

I could well conceive it; for Miss Bacon imagined herself to have
received (what is certainly the greatest boon ever assigned to
mortals) a high mission in the world, with adequate powers for its
accomplishment; and lest even these should prove insufficient, she had
faith that special interpositions of Providence were forwarding her
human efforts. This idea was continually coming to the surface,
during our interview. She believed, for example, that she had been
providentially led to her lodging-house and put in relations with the
good-natured grocer and his family; and, to say the truth, considering
what a savage and stealthy tribe the London lodging-house keepers
actually are, the honest kindness of this man and his household appeared
to have been little less than miraculous. Evidently, too, she thought
that Providence had brought me forward----a man somewhat connected with
literature--at the critical juncture when she needed a negotiator with
the booksellers; and, on my part, though little accustomed to regard
myself as a divine minister, and though I might even have preferred that
Providence should select some other instrument, I had no scruple in
undertaking to do what I could for her. Her book, as I could see by
turning it over, was a very remarkable one, and worthy of being offered
to the public, which, if wise enough to appreciate it, would be thankful
for what was good in it and merciful to its faults. It was founded on a
prodigious error, but was built up from that foundation with a good many
prodigious truths. And, at all events, whether I could aid her literary
views or no, it would have been both rash and impertinent in me to
attempt drawing poor Miss Bacon out of her delusions, which were the
condition on which she lived in comfort and joy, and in the exercise of
great intellectual power. So I left her to dream as she pleased about
the treasures of Shakspeare's tombstone, and to form whatever designs
might seem good to herself for obtaining possession of them. I was
sensible of a lady-like feeling of propriety in Miss Bacon, and
a New-England orderliness in her character, and, in spite of her
bewilderment, a sturdy common-sense, which I trusted would begin to
operate at the right time, and keep her from any actual extravagance.
And as regarded this matter of the tombstone, so it proved.

The interview lasted above an hour, during which she flowed out freely,
as to the sole auditor, capable of any degree of intelligent sympathy,
whom she had met with in a very long while. Her conversation was
remarkably suggestive, alluring forth one's own ideas and fantasies from
the shy places where they usually haunt. She was indeed an admirable
talker, considering how long she had held her tongue for lack of a
listener,--pleasant, sunny and shadowy, often piquant, and giving
glimpses of all a woman's various and readily changeable moods and
humors; and beneath them all there ran a deep and powerful under-current
of earnestness, which did not fail to produce in the listener's mind
something like a temporary faith in what she herself believed so
fervently. But the streets of London are not favorable to enthusiasms
of this kind, nor, in fact, are they likely to flourish anywhere in the
English atmosphere; so that, long before reaching Paternoster Row, I
felt that it would be a difficult and doubtful matter to advocate the
publication of Miss Bacon's book. Nevertheless, it did finally get

Months before that happened, however, Miss Bacon had taken up her
residence at Stratford-on-Avon, drawn thither by the magnetism of those
rich secrets which she supposed to have been hidden by Raleigh, or
Bacon, or I know not whom, in Shakspeare's grave, and protected there
by a curse, as pirates used to bury their gold in the guardianship of a
fiend. She took a humble lodging and began to haunt the church like a
ghost. But she did not condescend to any stratagem or underhand attempt
to violate the grave, which, had she been capable of admitting such
an idea, might possibly have been accomplished by the aid of a
resurrection-man. As her first step, she made acquaintance with the
clerk, and began to sound him as to the feasibility of her enterprise
and his own willingness to engage in it. The clerk apparently listened
with not unfavorable ears; but, as his situation (which the fees of
pilgrims, more numerous than at any Catholic shrine, render lucrative)
would have been forfeited by any malfeasance in office, he stipulated
for liberty to consult the vicar. Miss Bacon requested to tell her own
story to the reverend gentleman, and seems to have been received by him
with the utmost kindness, and even to have succeeded in making a certain
impression on his mind as to the desirability of the search. As their
interview had been under the seal of secrecy, he asked permission to
consult a friend, who, as Miss Bacon either found out or surmised, was
a practitioner of the law. What the legal friend advised she did not
learn; but the negotiation continued, and certainly was never broken
off by an absolute refusal on the vicar's part. He, perhaps, was kindly
temporizing with our poor countrywoman, whom an Englishman of ordinary
mould would have sent to a lunatic-asylum at once. I cannot help
fancying, however, that her familiarity with the events of Shakspeare's
life, and of his death and burial, (of which she would speak as if
she had been present at the edge of the grave,) and all the history,
literature, and personalities of the Elizabethan age, together with the
prevailing power of her own belief, and the eloquence with which she
knew how to enforce it, had really gone some little way towards making
a convert of the good clergyman. If so, I honor him above all the
hierarchy of England.

The affair certainly looked very hopeful. However erroneously, Miss
Bacon had understood from the vicar that no obstacles would be
interposed to the investigation, and that he himself would sanction
it with his presence. It was to take place after nightfall; and all
preliminary arrangements being made, the vicar and clerk professed to
wait only her word in order to set about lifting the awful stone
from the sepulchre. So, at least, Miss Bacon believed; and as her
bewilderment was entirely in her own thoughts, and never disturbed her
perception or accurate remembrance of external things, I see no reason
to doubt it, except it be the tinge of absurdity in the fact. But, in
this apparently prosperous state of things, her own convictions began to
falter. A doubt stole into her mind whether she might not have mistaken
the depository and mode of concealment of those historic treasures; and
after once admitting the doubt, she was afraid to hazard the shock of
uplifting the stone and finding nothing. She examined the surface of the
gravestone, and endeavored, without stirring it, to estimate whether it
were of such thickness as to be capable of containing the archives of
the Elizabethan club. She went over anew the proofs, the clues, the
enigmas, the pregnant sentences, which she had discovered in Bacon's
letters and elsewhere, and now was frightened to perceive that they
did not point so definitely to Shakspeare's tomb as she had heretofore
supposed. There was an unmistakably distinct reference to a tomb, but it
might be Bacon's, or Raleigh's, or Spenser's; and instead of the "Old
Player," as she profanely called him, it might be either of those
three illustrious dead, poet, warrior, or statesman, whose ashes, in
Westminster Abbey, or the Tower burial-ground, or wherever they sleep,
it was her mission to disturb.

But she continued to hover around the church, and seems to have had full
freedom of entrance in the daytime, and special license, on one
occasion at least, at a late hour of the night. She went thither with
a dark-lantern, which could but twinkle like a glow-worm through the
volume of obscurity that filled the great dusky edifice. Groping her way
up the aisle and towards the chancel, she sat down on the elevated part
of the pavement above Shakspeare's grave. If the divine poet really
wrote the inscription there, and cared as much about the quiet of his
bones as its deprecatory earnestness would imply, it was time for those
crumbling relics to bestir themselves under her sacrilegious feet. But
they were safe. She made no attempt to disturb them; though, I believe,
she looked narrowly into the crevices between Shakspeare's and the two
adjacent stones, and in some way satisfied herself that her single
strength would suffice to lift the former, in case of need. She threw
the feeble ray of her lantern up towards the bust, but could not make it
visible beneath the darkness of the vaulted roof. Had she been subject
to superstitious terrors, it is impossible to conceive of a situation
that could better entitle her to feel them, for, if Shakspeare's ghost
would rise at any provocation, it must have shown itself then; but it is
my sincere belief, that, if his figure had appeared within the scope of
her dark-lantern, in his slashed doublet and gown, and with his eyes
bent on her beneath the high, bald forehead, just as we see him in the
bust, she would have met him fearlessly, and controverted his claims to
the authorship of the plays, to his very face. She had taught herself to
contemn "Lord Leicester's groom" (it was one of her disdainful epithets
for the world's incomparable poet) so thoroughly, that even his
disembodied spirit would hardly have found civil treatment at Miss
Bacon's hands.

Her vigil, though it appears to have had no definite object, continued
far into the night. Several times she heard a low movement in the
aisles: a stealthy, dubious foot-fall prowling about in the darkness,
now here, now there, among the pillars and ancient tombs, as if some
restless inhabitant of the latter had crept forth to peep at the
intruder. By-and-by the clerk made his appearance, and confessed that he
had been watching her ever since she entered the church.

About this time it was that a strange sort of weariness seems to have
fallen upon her: her toil was all but done, her great purpose, as she
believed, on the very point of accomplishment, when she began to regret
that so stupendous a mission had been imposed on the fragility of a
woman. Her faith in the new philosophy was as mighty as ever, and so was
her confidence in her own adequate development of it, now about to be
given to the world; yet she wished, or fancied so, that it might never
have been her duty to achieve this unparalleled task, and to stagger
feebly forward under her immense burden of responsibility and renown. So
far as her personal concern in the matter went, she would gladly have
forfeited the reward of her patient study and labor for so many years,
her exile from her country and estrangement from her family and friends,
her sacrifice of health and all other interests to this one pursuit, if
she could only find herself free to dwell in Stratford and be forgotten.
She liked the old slumberous town, and awarded the only praise that ever
I knew her to bestow on Shakspeare, the individual man, by acknowledging
that his taste in a residence was good, and that he knew how to choose a
suitable retirement for a person of shy, but genial temperament. And at
this point, I cease to possess the means of tracing her vicissitudes of
feeling any farther. In consequence of some advice which I fancied it
my duty to tender, as being the only confidant whom she now had in the
world, I fell under Miss Bacon's most severe and passionate displeasure,
and was cast off by her in the twinkling of an eye. It was a misfortune
to which her friends were always particularly liable; but I think that
none of them ever loved, or even respected, her most ingenuous and
noble, but likewise most sensitive and tumultuous character, the less
for it.

At that time her book was passing through the press. Without prejudice
to her literary ability, it must be allowed that Miss Bacon was wholly
unfit to prepare her own work for publication, because, among many other
reasons, she was too thoroughly in earnest to know what to leave out.
Every leaf and line was sacred, for all had been written under so deep
a conviction of truth as to assume, in her eyes, the aspect of
inspiration. A practised book-maker, with entire control of her
materials, would have shaped out a duodecimo volume full of eloquent
and ingenious dissertation,--criticisms which quite take the
color and pungency out of other people's critical remarks on
Shakspeare,--philosophic truths which she imagined herself to have
found at the roots of his conceptions, and which certainly come from no
inconsiderable depth somewhere. There was a great amount of rubbish,
which any competent editor would have shovelled out of the way. But Miss
Bacon thrust the whole bulk of inspiration and nonsense into the press
in a lump, and there tumbled out a ponderous octavo volume, which fell
with a dead thump at the feet of the public, and has never been picked
up. A few persons turned over one or two of the leaves, as it lay there,
and essayed to kick the volume deeper into the mud; for they were the
hack critics of the minor periodical press in London, than whom, I
suppose, though excellent fellows in their way, there are no gentlemen
in the world less sensible of any sanctity in a book, or less likely
to recognize an author's heart in it, or more utterly careless about
bruising, if they do recognize it. It is their trade. They could not
do otherwise. I never thought of blaming them. From the scholars and
critics of her own country, indeed, Miss Bacon might have looked for
a worthier appreciation, because many of the best of them have higher
cultivation and finer and deeper literary sensibilities than all but
the very profoundest and brightest of Englishmen. But they are not a
courageous body of men; they dare not think a truth that has an odor of
absurdity, lest they should feel themselves bound to speak it out. If
any American ever wrote a word in her behalf, Miss Bacon never knew it,
nor did I. Our journalists at once republished some of the most brutal
vituperations of the English press, thus pelting their poor countrywoman
with stolen mud, without even waiting to know whether the ignominy was
deserved. And they never have known it, to this day, nor ever will.

The next intelligence that I had of Miss Bacon was by a letter from the
mayor of Stratford-on-Avon. He was a medical man, and wrote both in his
official and professional character, telling me that an American lady,
who had recently published what the mayor called a "Shakspeare book,"
was afflicted with insanity. In a lucid interval she had referred to me,
as a person who had some knowledge of her family and affairs. What she
may have suffered before her intellect gave way, we had better not try
to imagine. No author had ever hoped so confidently as she; none ever
failed more utterly. A superstitious fancy might suggest that the
anathema on Shakspeare's tombstone had fallen heavily on her head in
requital of even the unaccomplished purpose of disturbing the dust
beneath, and that the "Old Player" had kept so quietly in his grave,
on the night of her vigil, because he foresaw how soon and terribly he
would be avenged. But if that benign spirit takes any care or cognizance
of such things now, he has surely requited the injustice that she sought
to do him--the high justice that she really did--by a tenderness of love
and pity of which only he could be capable. What matters it, though she
called him by some other name? He had wrought a greater miracle on her
than on all the world besides. This bewildered enthusiast had recognized
a depth in the man whom she decried, which scholars, critics, and
learned societies, devoted to the elucidation of his unrivalled scenes,
had never imagined to exist there. She had paid him the loftiest honor
that all these ages of renown have been able to accumulate upon his
memory. And when, not many months after the outward failure of her
life-long object, she passed into the better world, I know not why we
should hesitate to believe that the immortal poet may have met her
on the threshold and led her in, reassuring her with friendly and
comfortable words, and thanking her (yet with a smile of gentle humor
in his eyes at the thought of certain mistaken speculations) for having
interpreted him to mankind so well.

I believe that it has been the fate of this remarkable book never to
have had more than a single reader. I myself am acquainted with it only
in insulated chapters and scattered pages and paragraphs. But, since my
return to America, a young man of genius and enthusiasm has assured
me that he has positively read the book from beginning to end, and is
completely a convert to its doctrines. It belongs to him, therefore, and
not to me,--whom, in almost the last letter that I received from her,
she declared unworthy to meddle with her work,--it belongs surely to
this one individual, who has done her so much justice as to know what
she wrote, to place Miss Bacon in her due position before the public and

This has been too sad a story. To lighten the recollection of it, I will
think of my stroll homeward past Charlecote Park, where I beheld the
most stately elms, singly, in clumps, and in groves, scattered all about
in the sunniest, shadiest, sleepiest fashion; so that I could not but
believe in a lengthened, loitering, drowsy enjoyment which these trees
must have in their existence. Diffused over slow-paced centuries,
it need not be keen nor bubble into thrills and ecstasies, like the
momentary delights of short-lived human beings. They were civilized
trees, known to man and befriended by him for ages past. There is an
indescribable difference--as I believe I have heretofore endeavored to
express--between the tamed, but by no means effete (on the contrary,
the richer and more luxuriant) Nature of England, and the rude, shaggy,
barbarous Nature which offers us its racier companionship in America. No
less a change has been wrought among the wildest creatures that inhabit
what the English call their forests. By-and-by, among those refined and
venerable trees, I saw a large herd of deer, mostly reclining, but
some standing in picturesque groups, while the stags threw their large
antlers aloft, as if they had been taught to make themselves tributary
to the scenic effect. Some were running fleetly about, vanishing from
light into shadow and glancing forth again, with here and there a little
fawn careering at its mother's heels. These deer are almost in the same
relation to the wild, natural state of their kind that the trees of an
English park hold to the rugged growth of an American forest. They have
held a certain intercourse with man for immemorial years; and, most
probably, the stag that Shakspeare killed was one of the progenitors
of this very herd, and may himself have been a partly civilized and
humanized deer, though in a less degree than these remote posterity.
They are a little wilder than sheep, but they do not snuff the air at
the approach of human beings, nor evince much alarm at their pretty
close proximity; although, if you continue to advance, they toss their
heads and take to their heels in a kind of mimic terror, or something
akin to feminine skittishness, with a dim remembrance or tradition, as
it were, of their having come of a wild stock. They have so long been
fed and protected by man, that they must have lost many of their native
instincts, and, I suppose, could not live comfortably through even an
English winter without human help. One is sensible of a gentle scorn
at them for such dependency, but feels none the less kindly disposed
towards the half-domesticated race; and it may have been his observation
of these tamer characteristics in the Charlecote herd that suggested to
Shakspeare the tender and pitiful description of a wounded stag, in "As
You Like It."

At a distance of some hundreds of yards from Charlecote Hall, and almost
hidden by the trees between it and the road-side, is an old brick
archway and porter's lodge. In connection with this entrance there
appears to have been a wall and an ancient moat, the latter of which is
still visible, a shallow, grassy scoop along the base of an embankment
of the lawn. About fifty yards within the gate-way stands the house,
forming three sides of a square, with three gables in a row on the front
and on each of the two wings; and there are several towers and turrets
at the angles, together with projecting windows, antique balconies, and
other quaint ornaments suitable to the half-Gothic taste in which
the edifice was built. Over the gate-way is the Lucy coat-of-arms,
emblazoned in its proper colors. The mansion dates from the early
days of Elizabeth, and probably looked very much the same as now when
Shakspeare was brought before Sir Thomas Lucy for outrages among his
deer. The impression is not that of gray antiquity, but of stable and
time-honored gentility, still as vital as ever.

It is a most delightful place. All about the house and domain there is a
perfection of comfort and domestic taste, an amplitude of convenience,
which could have been brought about only by the slow ingenuity and
labor of many successive generations, intent upon adding all possible
improvement to the home where years gone by and years to come give a
sort of permanence to the intangible present. An American is sometimes
tempted to fancy that only by this long process can real homes be
produced. One man's lifetime is not enough for the accomplishment of
such a work of Art and Nature, almost the greatest merely temporary one
that is confided to him; too little, at any rate,--yet perhaps too long,
when he is discouraged by the idea that he must make his house warm and
delightful for a miscellaneous race of successors, of whom the one thing
certain is, that his own grandchildren will not be among them. Such
repinings as are here suggested, however, come only from the fact, that,
bred in English habits of thought, as most of us are, we have not yet
modified our instincts to the necessities of our new forms of life. A
lodging in a wigwam or under a tent has really as many advantages, when
we come to know them, as a home beneath the roof-tree of Charlecote
Hall. But, alas! our philosophers have not yet taught us to see what is
best, nor have our poets sung us what is beautifullest, in the kind of
life that we must lead; and therefore we still read the old English
wisdom, and harp upon the ancient strings. And thence it happens, that,
when we look at a time-honored hall, it seems more possible for men who
inherit such a home, than for ourselves, to lead noble and graceful
lives, quietly doing good and lovely things as their daily work, and
achieving deeds of simple greatness when circumstances require them. I
sometimes apprehend that our institutions may perish before we shall
have discovered the most precious of the possibilities which they

* * * * *



"The leaves of the second autumn were half-shrivelled in drawing near to
the winter of their age.

"I had been to see your mother. She was ill. Mary's death was slowly,
surely bringing her own near. We had had a long talk that afternoon. Her
visions of life were rare and beautiful. She was like Mrs. Wilton, the
embodiment of all that is purely woman. She had wrought a solemn spell
over me,--made Eternity seem near. I had been changed since that prayer
on the sea-shore, fourteen months before, but now I felt a longing to
go away. Earth seemed so drear,--mother was sick,--Abraham unhappy,--my
father deep in the perplexing cares of his profession, mostly from
home,--Mrs. Percival was dying,--the year was passing away,--and I, too,
would be going; and as I went out of the house to go home, I remembered
the day wherein I had waited in the viny arbor for Mary to awaken from
sleep, how I had gone down to the sea to waken myself to a light that
burned before it blessed. Since then I had avoided the place, barred
with so many prison-wires. Now I felt a longing to go into it. The
leaves were frost-bitten. I sympathized with them. Autumn winds went
sighing over their misfortunes; spirit-winds blew past me, on their way
to and from the land that is and the land that is not to us. The arbor
was dear with a newborn love. I went out to greet it, as one might greet
a ship sailing the same great ocean, though bound to a different port.
There was a something in that old vine-clad arbor that was in me. I felt
its shadows coming out to meet me. They chilled a little, but I went in.
I looked at the little white office, across the yard, in the corner. I
thought of the face that came out that day to see me,--the face that
drank up my heart in one long draught, begun across Alice dead, finished
when I read that letter. The cup of my heart was empty,--_so empty_ now!
I looked down into it; it was fringed with stalactites, crystallized
from the poison of the glass. Oh! what did I see there? A dead, dead
crater, aching for the very fire that made it what it was, crying out of
its fierce void for fiery fusion. Why did our God make us so,--us, who
love, knowing we should not? I knew from the beginning that Bernard
McKey ought not to be cared for by me; but could I help it? Now the veil
of death, I believed, hung between, and the cup of my heart might be
embalmed: the last change, I thought, had come to it, and left it as I
that day found.

"Chloe came around the corner, throwing her apron over her head. She
looked up and down the way, as if in search of some one, went down the
walk to the gate, looked as I had once seen her do at our house, taking
it window by window, and finding no one, (the day seemed deserted,) she
was walking back. I called to her from the arbor.

"'I was just looking for you, Miss Lettie. I've got a letter here.
Mistress is too sick to read it for me, and Master's away. Would you?'

"It was addressed to Chloe. I broke the seal and opened it. It seemed a
long letter. I gave a sigh at the task before me, and looked over to
the end. I saw the signature: it was Bernard H. McKey. After that I saw
Chloe's troubled black face written on my vision, and felt dripping
drops about my head.

"'There, Miss Lettie, it's all over, now. I's so glad you're come to! I
won't bother you with reading anymore letters. It would have to be much
good in it that 'ud pay me for seeing you so.'

"I was sitting in the arbor a little later, alone, reading the letter.
Through the rending of the cup dew stole in; the mist was stifling.
Still't was better than the death that reigned before. The contents of
my life were _not_ poured out beyond the earth. The thought gave me
comfort. It is so sad to feel the great gate shut down across the flame
of your heart! to have the stilled waters set back, never more to join
those that have escaped, gone on, to turn the wheel of Eternity! In that
hour it was joy enough for me to know that he lived, even if the life
was for another. I, too, had my bright portion in it.

"Chloe came back. She had forgotten the letter, when she went in to Mrs.
Percival. She said 'faintin' must be good for me; she hadn't seen me
look so fine in a many days.'

"I told Chloe that the letter had been written to me, that it was not
meant for her. At first she did not comprehend; after that I felt sure
that a perception of the truth dawned in her mind, she watched me so

"I carried my letter home. That night I compared the two,--the one
Abraham had found (where I knew not, I never questioned him) with this.
They bore no resemblance: but I remembered that two years make changes
in all things; they might have effected this. The signatures were
unlike; the latter contained the initial H. What if they were not
written by the same person? The question was too mighty for me. I was
compelled to await the answer.

"Bernard would be in Redleaf in November. He named the day,--appointed
the place of meeting. It was the old tower in the church-yard. I had a
fancy, as you have, for the dreary dimness there. As children, we made
it our temple for all the worships childhood knows. The door had long
been gone; it was open to every one who chose to enter in. Before the
coming of the day, I was in continual fear lest the new joy that had
come into my life should trace itself visibly on my outward seeming. I
took it in as the hungry do food, and tried to hide the sustenance it
gave. I saw that my mother's eyes were often upon me,--that she was
trying to follow my joy to its source. One day,--it was the very one
before his coming,--she came suddenly upon me when I was wrapt in my
mantle of exquisite consciousness. I had gone down to the river: you
know it runs at the foot of the place. Tired of stirring up dry, dead
leaves, I leaned against a tree,--one arm was around it,--and with my
eyes traversing the blue of the sky, on and on, in quick, constant,
flashing journeys, like fixed heat-lightning, I suddenly became
conscious of a blue upon the earth, orbed in my mother's cool eyes. I
don't know how I came out of the sky. She said only, 'Your thoughts
harmonize with the season'; but I knew she meant much more. It was long
since she had wandered so far from the house; but of late she had had
my joy to trace,--my mother, to whom I could not intrust it, in all of
whose nature it had no place, whose spirit mine was not formed to call
out echoes from. The result of her walk to the river was a subsequent
day of prostration and a nervous headache. All the morning of that
November day I sat beside her in the darkened room. I bathed her head,
until she said there was _too_ much life in my hands, and sent for
Abraham. Thus my time of release came."

A quick, involuntary smile crossed Miss Axtell's face at the memory of
her first sight of Mr. McKey. I watched her now. She changed the style
of her narration, taking it on quickly, in nervous periods, with
electric pauses, which she did not fill as formerly.

"We met in the tower, happily without discovery. I told him of my
mother's knowledge, showed him the notice of his (as I had thought)

"'It is my cousin,' he said carelessly,--adding, with a sigh, 'poor
fellow! he was to have married soon.'

"I gave him the letter, the key of all my agony.

"'I remember when he wrote this,' he went on, as carelessly as if his
words had all been known to me. 'You did not see him, perhaps; he
was with me the first time I came to Redleaf,--was here the night he

"It was so strange that he did not ask where I obtained the letter! but
he did not. He gave me an epitome of his cousin's life and death. The
two were named after an uncle; each had received the baptismal sign ere
it was known that the other received the name; in after-time the Herbert
was added to one.

"We sat in the window of the tower all through the short November
afternoon. We saw Chloe come into the church-yard; she came to take up
some roses that had blossomed in summer beside Mary's grave. We heard
her knife moving about in the pebbly soil, and watched her going home.
She was the only comer. In November, people never visit such places,
save from necessity.

"Mr. McKey and I had discovered the passage leading from church to
tower. Mary was with us then. There was a romance in keeping the secret,
poetry in the knowledge that we three were sole proprietors; one was
gone,--now it became only ours.

"How came _you_ to know of it?" she suddenly asked.

Questioned thus, I twined my story in with hers, she listening in a rapt
way, peculiarly her own. I told her of my prisonment on the day of her
visit. I confessed entirely, up to the point she had narrated. When I
ended, she said,--

"You have kept this secret twenty-five days; mine has been mine
eighteen years. Mr. McKey has wandered in the time over the world of
civilization, coming here at every return, making only day-visits,
wandering up and down familiar places, meeting people whom he knew, but
who never saw him through his disguises. He met my mother twice; even
her quick eyes had no ray of suspicion in them.

"Four years ago we went to Europe: father's health demanded it. There,
by accident, I met Mr. McKey. Fourteen years had so changed him from
the medical student in Doctor Percival's office, that, although without
disguise, neither mother nor Abraham recognized him. It was in England
that father died,--there that we met Mr. McKey. It was he who, coming as
a stranger, proved our best friend, whom mother and Abraham called Mr.
Herbert. It was his hand lifted up for the last time my father's head
just before he died. It was he who went to and fro making all needful
arrangements for father's burial. At last we prepared to leave. He came
to the steamer to say parting words. Mother and Abraham, with tearful
eyes, thanking him for his past kindness, begged, should he ever come to
America, a visit from him. When their farewells were ended, he looked
around for me. I was standing apart from them; the place where my feet
then were is to-day fathoms deep under iceberg-soil: it was upon the
Pacific's deck. I wonder if just there where I then stood it is as cold
as elsewhere,--if Ocean's self hath power to congeal the vitality of

Miss Axtell paused one moment, as if answering the question to herself.
In that interval I remembered the face that only three weeks agone I
had looked upon, over which Dead-Sea waves had beat in vain. After the
pause, she went on:--

"I gave Mr. McKey the farewell, silent of all words. A few moments
later, and we were on our homeward way, leaving a friend and a grave in

"After our coming home, an intense longing came to speak of Herbert,--to
tell my proud mother to whom she was indebted for so many acts of kindly
friendship; but often as I said, 'I will,' I yet did not. To-day I would
wait for the morrow; on the morrow indecision came; and at last, when
the intent was stronger than ever, when I had laid me down to sleep
after an interview with Mr. McKey, solemnly promising Heaven that with
the morning light I would confess all and leave the consequences with
my God, in that night-time He sent forth His angel to gather in her

Miss Axtell covered her face with the hands so long rigidly clasped
about her precious package, and the very air that was in the room caught
the thrill and quiver of her heart, strong to suffer, strong to love.
When she again spoke, it was in low, murmurous tones.

"I wanted my mother to know what God had permitted me to be to this man,
his great anchor of clinging in all storms,--how, in loving him, I had
been permitted to save him. Do you think it is good," she asked,--"my
story? It isn't a story of what the world calls 'happy love'; I don't
think I should find it happy even now. I have come to a solemn bridge in
the journey of Time. I know it must be crossed,--only how? It is high;
my head is dizzied by the very thought. It has none of the ordinary
protective railings; I must walk out alone, and--I cannot see the other
end; it is too far, too misty. My mother's face fills up all the way; it
comes out to meet me, and I do not rightly hear what she says, for my
ears are filled with the roar of the life-current that frets over rocks
below. I try to stay it while I listen; it only floods the way. There
is time given me; there is no immediate cause for action: for this I am
thankful. Mr. McKey left me at the tower on the day you heard us there.
He is a surgeon in the naval service. His ship sailed last week on a
three years' voyage. I shall have time to think, to decide what I ought
to do; perhaps the roar will cease, and I shall hear what my mother
tries to say.

"I have one great thought of torment. Abraham, what if he should die,
too,--die without knowing? that I could not bear"; and the face, still
looking toward Zoar, lifted up itself from the little City of Refuge,
and looked into the face of Anna Percival. "Poor Abraham!" she said, "he
has suffered, perhaps even more than I. He will hear _you_. Will you
tell him this for me? Tell him all; and when you tell how Mary came to
die, give him this,"--and she handed to me the very package I had twice
journeyed with,--"it will prove to him the truth of what I say."

I hesitated to take that which she proffered.

"You must not disappoint me," she said. "I have spent happy hours since
you went away, in the belief that Providence sent you here to me in the
greatness of my need. I cannot tell Abraham; I could not bear the
joy that will, that must come, when he lays down the burden of his
crime,--for, oh! it will be at the feet of Bernard McKey. You will not
refuse me this?" she pleaded.

Anna Percival, in the silence of that upper room where so much of life
had come to her, sat at Miss Axtell's side, and thought of the dream
that came one Sunday morning to her, sleeping, and out of the memory of
it came tolling down to her heart the words then spoken, and, taught by
them, she answered Miss Axtell's pleading by an "I will."

"Good little comfort-giver!" Miss Lettie said; and she left the package,
containing the precious jewel, in my hands.

Bewildered by the story, filled with sorrow for sufferers passed away
from the great, suffering earth, aching for those that still were in the
void of misery, I arose to go. "It was near to mid-day; Aaron and Sophie
would wait dinner for me," I said to Miss Lottie's pleading for another
hour. Ere I went, the conventionalities that signalled our meeting were
repeated, and, wrapped in the web and woof Miss Axtell had woven, I went
down the staircase and through the wide hall and out of the solemn
old house, wondering if ever again Anna Percival would cross its
entrance-porch. Kino heard the noise of the closing of the door, and
came around the corner to see who it might be. I stayed a moment to say
a few comforting words to the dog. Kino saw me safely outside of the
gate by way of gratitude. I walked on toward the parsonage.

Redleaf seemed very silent, almost deserted. I met none of the villagers
in my homeward walk. "It will be ten minutes yet ere Sophie and Aaron
will, waiting, say, 'I wonder why Anna does not come,'" I thought, as I
drew near, and my fingers held the tower-key. I had not been there since
the Sunday morning memorable to me through all coming time. I lifted the


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