Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 3, No. 18, April, 1859
Part 1 out of 5
Produced by Joshua Hutchinson, Tonya Allen and PG Distributed
A MAGAZINE OF LITERATURE, ART, AND POLITICS.
VOL. III.--APRIL, 1859.--NO. XVIII.
If we can believe an eminent authority, in which we are disposed to
place great trust, the oldest contest that has divided society is that
which has so long been waged between the House of HAVE and the House of
WANT. It began before the bramble was chosen king of the trees, and it
has outlasted the cedars of Lebanon. We find it going on when Herodotus
wrote his History, and the historians of the nineteenth century will
have to continue writing of the actions of the parties to it. There
seems never to have been a time when it was not old, or a race that
was not engaged in it, from the Tartars, who cook their meat by
making saddle-cloths of it, to the Sybarites, impatient of crumpled
rose-leaves. Spartan oligarchs and Athenian democrats, Roman patricians
and Roman plebeians, Venetian senators and Florentine _ciompi_, Norman
nobles and Saxon serfs, Russian boyars and Turkish spahis. Spanish
hidalgos and Aztec soldiers, Carolina slaveholders and New England
farmers,--these and a hundred other races or orders have all been
parties to the great, the universal struggle which has for its object
the acquisition of property, the providing of a shield against the
ever-threatening fiend which we call WANT. Property once obtained, the
possessor's next aim is to keep it. The very fact, that the mode of
acquisition may have been wrong, and subversive of property-rights, if
suffered to be imitated, naturally makes its possessor suspicious and
cruel. He fears that the measure he has meted to others may be meted to
him again. Hence severe laws, the monopoly of political power and of
political offices by property-holders, the domination of conquering
races, and the practice of attributing to all reformers designs against
property and its owners, though the changes they recommend may really be
of a nature calculated to make the tenure of property more secure than
ever. Even the charge of irreligion has not been found more effective
against the advocates of improvement or change than that of
Agrarianism,--by which is meant hostility to existing property
institutions, and a determination, if possible, to subvert them. Of the
two, the charge of Agrarianism is the more serious, as it implies the
other. A man may be irreligious, and yet a great stickler for property,
because a great owner of it,--or because he is by nature stanchly
conservative, and his infidelity merely a matter of logic. But if there
be any reason for charging a man with Agrarianism, though it be never so
unreasonable a reason, his infidelity is taken for granted, and it would
be labor lost to attempt to show the contrary. Nor is this conclusion so
altogether irrational as it appears at the first sight. Religion is
an ordinance of God, and so is property; and if a man be suspected of
hostility to the latter, why should he not be held positively guilty
towards the former? Every man is religious, though but few men govern
their lives according to religious precepts; but every man not only
loves property and desires to possess it, but allows considerations
growing out of its rights to have a weight on his mind far more grave,
far more productive of positive results, than religion has on the common
person. If there be such a thing as an Agrarian on earth, he would fight
bravely for his land, though it should be of no greater extent than
would suffice him for a grave, according to the strictest measurement
of the potter's field. Would every honest believer do as much for his
But what is Agrarianism, and who are Agrarians? Though the words are
used as glibly as the luring party-terms of the passing year, it is no
very easy matter to define them. Indeed, it is by no means an easy thing
to affix a precise and definite meaning to any political terms, living
or dead. Let the reader endeavor to give a clear and intelligible
definition of Whig and Tory, Democrat and Republican, Guelph and
Ghibelline, Cordelier and Jacobin, and he will soon find that he has a
task before him calculated to test his powers very severely. How much
more difficult, then, must it be to give the meaning of words that are
never used save in a reproachful sense, which originated in political
battles that were fought nearly two thousand years ago, and in a state
of society having small resemblance to anything that has ever been known
to Christendom! With some few exceptions, party-names continue to have
their champions long after the parties they belonged to are as dead
as the Jacobites. Many Americans would not hesitate to defend the
Federalists, or to eulogize the Federal party, though Federalism long
ago ceased even to cast a shadow. The prostitution of the Democratic
name has lessened in but a slight degree the charm that has attached to
it ever since Jefferson's sweeping reelection had the effect of coupling
it the charming idea of success. But who can be expected to say a word
for Agrarian? One might as well look to find a sane man ready to
do battle for the Jacobin, which is all but a convertible term for
Agrarian, though in its proper sense the latter word is of exactly the
opposite meaning to the former. Under the term Agrarians is included,
in common usage, all that class of men who exhibit a desire to remove
social ills by a resort to means which are considered irregular and
dangerous by the great majority of mankind. Of late years we have heard
much of Socialists, Communists, Fourierites, and so forth; but the word
Agrarians comprehends all these, and is often made to include men who
have no more idea of engaging in social reforms than they have of
pilgrimizing to the Fountains of the Nile. It is a not uncommon thing
for our political parties to charge one another with Agrarianism; and if
they used the term in its proper sense, it would be found that they had
both been occasionally right, for Agrarian laws have been supported by
all American parties, and will continue to be so supported, we presume,
so long as we shall have a public domain; but in its reproachful
sense Agrarianism can never be charged against any one of the party
organizations which have been known in the United States. A quarter of
a century ago, one of the cleverest of those English tourists who then
used to contrive to go through--or, rather, over--the Republic, seeing
but little, and not understanding that little, proclaimed to his
countrymen, who had not then recovered from the agitation consequent on
the Reform contest, that there existed here a regular Agrarian party,
forming "the _extreme gauche_ of the Worky Parliament," and which
"boldly advocated the introduction of an AGRARIAN LAW, and a periodical
division of property." He represented these men as only following out
the principles of their less violent neighbors, and as eloquently
dilating "on the justice and propriety of every individual being equally
supplied with food and clothing,--on the monstrous iniquity of one man
riding in his carriage while another walks on foot, [there would have
been more reason in the complaint, had the gigless individual objected
to walking on his head,] and after his drive discussing a bottle of
Champagne, while many of his neighbors are shamefully compelled to be
content with the pure element. Only equalize property, they say, and
neither would drink Champagne or water, but both would have brandy, a
consummation worthy of centuries of struggle to attain." He had the
sense to declare that all this was nonsense, but added, that the
Agrarians, though not so numerous or so widely diffused as to create
immediate alarm, were numerous in New York, where their influence was
strongly felt in the civic elections. Elsewhere he predicted the coming
of a "panic" time, when workingmen would be thrown out of employment,
while possessed of the whole political power of the state, with no
military force to maintain civil order and protect property; "and to
what quarter," he mournfully asked, "I shall be glad to know, is the
rich man to look for security, either of person or fortune?"
Twenty-five years have elapsed since Mr. Hamilton put forth this
alarming question, and some recent events have brought it to men's
minds, who had laughed at it in the year of grace 1833. We have seen
Agrarian movements in New York, demonstrations of "Workies," but nothing
was said by those engaged in them of that great leveller, brandy, though
its properties are probably better known to them than those of water.
They have been dignified with the name of "bread riots," and the great
English journal that exercises a sort of censorship over governments and
nations has gravely complimented us on the national progress we have
made, as evidenced in the existence here of a starving population! One
hardly knows whether to fret or to smile over so provoking a specimen of
congratulation. Certainly, if a nation cannot grow old without bringing
the producing classes to beggary, the best thing that could happen to
it would be to die young, like men loved of the gods, according to the
ancient idea. Whether such is the inevitable course of national life or
not, we are confident that what took place a few months ago in New York
had nothing to do with Agrarianism in reality,--using the word after
the manner of the alarmists. It belonged to the ordinary bald humbug of
American politics. It so happened that one of those "crises" which come
to pass occasionally in all business communities occurred at precisely
the time when a desperate political adventurer was making desperate
efforts to save himself from that destruction to which he had been
doomed by all good men in the city that he had misgoverned. What more
natural than that he should seek to avail himself of the distress of the
people? The trick is an old one,--as old as political contention itself.
Was it not Napoleon who attributed revolutions to the belly?--and he
knew something of the matter. The "bread riots" were neither more nor
less than "political demonstrations," got up for the purpose of aiding
Mr. Wood, and did not originate in any hostility to property on the part
of the people. It is not improbable that some of those who were engaged
in them were really anxious to obtain work,--were moved by fear of
starvation; but such was not the case with the leaders, who were
"well-dressed, gentlemanly men," according to an eye-witness, with
excellent cigars in their mouths to create a thirst that Champagne alone
could cure. The _juste milieu_ of brandy, so favored in 1832, if we can
believe Mr. Hamilton, was not thought of in 1857. A quarter of a
century had made a change in the popular taste. Perhaps the temperance
reformation had had something to do with it. The whole thing was as
complete a farce as ever was seen at an American or an English election,
and those who were engaged in it are now sincerely ashamed of their
failure. If foreigners will have it that it was an outbreak of
Agrarianism, the first in a series of outrages against property, so
be it. Let them live in the enjoyment of the delusion. Nations, like
individuals, seem to find pleasure in the belief that others are as
miserable as themselves.
Of that feeling which is known as Agrarianism we believe there is far
less in the United States now than there was at the time when Mr.
Hamilton was here, and for a few years after that time. From about
the year 1829 to 1841, there was in our politics a large infusion of
Socialism. We then had parties, or factions, based on the distinctions
that exist in the social state, and those organizations had considerable
influence in our elections. The Workingmen's party was a powerful body
in several Northern States, and, to an observer who was not familiar
with our condition, it well might wear the appearance of an Agrarian
body. No intelligent American, however, fell into such an error. It
was evident to the native observer, that the Workingmen's party, while
aiming at certain reforms which it deemed necessary for the welfare of
the laboring classes, had no felonious purposes in view to the prejudice
of property,--and this for the plain reason, that most workingmen were
property-owners themselves. Few of them had much, but still fewer had
nothing, and the aggregate of their possessions was immense. They would
have been the greatest losers, had there been a social convulsion, for
they would have lost everything. Then they were intelligent men in the
ordinary affairs of life, and knew that the occurrence of any such
convulsion would, first of all, cut off, not only their means of
acquisition, but the very sources of their livelihood. Industry wilts
under revolutionary movement, as vegetation under the sirocco, and they
bring to the multitude anything but a realization of Utopian dreams. In
the long run, there has rarely been a revolution which has not worked
beneficially for the mass of mankind; but the earliest effects of every
revolution are to them bad, and eminently so. It is to this fact that we
must look for an explanation of the slowness with which the masses move
against any existing order of things, even when they are well aware
that it treats them with singular injustice. For nothing can be better
established than that no revolution was ever the work of the body of the
people,--of the majority. Revolutions are made by minorities, by orders,
by classes, by individuals, but never by the people. The people may be
dragged into them, but they never take the initiative even in those
movements which are called popular, and which are supposed to have only
popular ends in view. That very portion of mankind who are most feared
by timid men of property are those who are the last to act in any of the
great games which mark the onward course of the world. Complain they do,
and often bitterly, of the inequalities of society, but action is not
their strong point.
The American observer of 1829-41 would have seen, too, in the
Workingmen's party, and in other similar organizations, only sections of
the Democratic party. They were the light troops of the grand army of
Democracy, the _velites_ who skirmished in front of the legions. They
never controlled the Democratic party; but it is undeniable that they
did color its policy, and give a certain tone to its sentiment, at a
very important period of American history. The success of President
Jackson, in that political contest which is known as "the Bank War," was
entirely owing to the support which he received from the workingmen of
some two or three States; and it is quite probable that the shrewd men
who then managed the Democratic party were induced to enter upon that
war by their knowledge of the exalted condition of political opinion in
those States. For their own purposes, they turned to account sentiments
that might have worked dangerously, if they had not been directed
against the Bank. One effect of this was, that the Democratic party was
compelled to make use of more popular language, which caused it to lose
some of its influential members, who were easily alarmed by words,
though they had borne philosophically with violent things. For five
years after the veto of the Bank Bill, in 1832, the Democratic party
was essentially radical in its tone, without doing much of a radical
character. In 1837, the monetary troubles came to a head, and then it
was seen how little reliance could be placed on men who were supposed to
be attached to extreme popular opinions. It was in the very States which
were thought to abound with radicals that the Democracy lost ground, and
the way was prepared for their entire overthrow in the memorable year
1840. That year saw American politics debauched, and from that time
we find no radical element in any of our parties. The contest was
so intense, that the two parties swallowed and digested all lesser
factions. Since then, a variety of causes have combined to prevent the
development of what is termed Agrarianism. The struggle of the Democracy
to regain power; the Mexican war, and the extension of our dominion,
consequent on that war, bringing up again, in full force, the slavery
question; and the discovery of gold in California, which led myriads
of energetic men to a remote quarter of the nation;--these are the
principal causes of the freedom of our later party-struggles from
radical theories. From radical practices we have always been free, and
it is improbable that our country will know them for generations.
The origin of the word Agrarianism, as an obnoxious political term, is
somewhat curious. It is one of the items of our inheritance from the
Romans, to whom we owe so much, both of good and evil, in politics and
The Agrarian contests of that people were among the most interesting
incidents in their wonderful career, and are full of instruction,
though, until recently, their true character was not understood; and
their explanation affords a capital warning against the effects of
partisan literature. The common belief was,--perhaps we should say
is,--that the supporters of the Agrarian laws were, to use a modern
term, _destructives_; that they aimed at formal divisions of all landed
property, if not of all property, among the whole body of the Roman
people. Nothing can be more unfounded than this view of the subject,
which is precisely the reverse of the truth. No Roman, whose name
is associated with Agrarian laws, ever thought of touching private
property, or of meddling with it, illegally, in any way. Neither Spurius
Cassius, nor Licinius Stolo, nor the Gracchi, nor any other Roman whose
name is identified with the Agrarian legislation of his country, was
a destructive, or leveller. Quite the contrary; they were all
conservatives,--using that word in its best sense,--and the friends of
property. The lands to which their laws applied, or were intended to
apply, were public lands, answering, in some sense, to those which are
owned by the United States. When Spurius Cassius, a quarter of a century
after that revolution which is known as the expulsion of the Tarquins,
proposed a division of a portion of the public land among the poor
commons, he did no more than had often been done by the Roman kings,
with good effect, and with strict legality. Much of the public land was
_occupied_ by wealthy men, as tenants of the state; and some of these
his law would have ousted from profitable spots, while the rest were to
be forced to pay their rents, which they had done very irregularly or
not at all. The operation of all Agrarian laws like that of Cassius was,
undoubtedly, a matter well to be considered; for, after a man has long
occupied a piece of land, he regards it as an act of injustice to be
peremptorily removed therefrom, and he ought to have, at least, the
privilege of buying it, if its possession be necessary to his support.
This feeling must have been the stronger in the bosom of the Roman
occupant in proportion to his poverty, but to legal possession he could
make no claim. The position he held was that of tenant at will to the
state, and he could be legally ejected at any moment. But it was not
from poor occupants of the public domain, whose number was necessarily
small, that opposition was experienced. It came from the rich, who had
all but monopolized the use of that domain; and, in the time of Spurius
Cassius, it was complicated with that quarrel of _caste_ which we
denominate the contest between the Patricians and the Plebeians.
Property and political power were both involved in the dispute. The
Patricians knew that the success of Cassius would make against them in
two ways:--it would strengthen the Plebeians, by lifting them out of the
degradation consequent on poverty, and so render them more dangerous
antagonists in political warfare; and it would render the Patricians
less able to contend with aspiring foes, by taking from them one of the
sources of their wealth. Cassius failed, and was executed, having been
tried and condemned by the Patricians, who then alone constituted the
More than a century after the failure of Cassius, the Agrarian question
was again brought before the Roman nation, on a large scale. This was
the time when the famous Licinian rogations, by the adoption of which
a civil revolution was effected in Rome, were brought forward. They
provided for the passage of an Agrarian law, for an equitable settlement
of debts, and that thereafter one of the two Consuls should always be
a Plebeian. It is something to be especially noted, that C. Licinius
Stolo, the man from whom these laws take their name, was not a needy
political adventurer, but a very wealthy man, his possessions being
mainly in land; and that he belonged to a _gens_ (the Licinii) who were
noted in after days for their immense wealth, among them being that
Crassus whose avarice became proverbial, and whose surname was _Dives_,
or _the Rich_. The Licinian Agrarian law provided, that no one should
_possess_ more than five hundred jugers of the public land, (_ager
publicus_,) that the state should resume lands that had been illegally
seized by individuals, that a rent should be paid by the occupants of
the public domain, that only freemen should be employed on that domain,
and that every Plebeian should receive seven jugers of the public land
in absolute property, to be taken from those lands which the state was
to resume from Patricians who _possessed_ (that is to say, who occupied)
more than five hundred jugers. Such were the main provisions of the law,
which did not touch private property of any kind. The state was merely
to assert its undisputed legal right over the public domain, and the
Plebeians became landholders, which was the best thing that could happen
to the republic, and which was what was aimed at in every community of
antiquity. Even the partial observance of this law was the cause of the
supremacy of Rome being established over the finest portions of the
ancient world. Had Licinius failed, Rome would have gone down in her
contest with the Samnites, and the latter people would have become
masters of Italy. As it was, his success created the Roman people; and
from the time of that success must be dated the formation of the Roman
constitution as it was recognized and acted on during the best period of
the Republic. True, the Agrarian law was but one of three measures which
he carried through in the face of all the opposition the Patricians
could make; but the other laws were of a kindred character, and they all
worked together for good. It was the triumph of the Plebeians for the
benefit of all. The revolution then effected was strictly conservative
in its nature, and whatever of internal evil Rome afterwards experienced
was owing, not to the adoption of the Licinian law, but to the
departure by the state from the practice under it which it was intended
permanently to establish.
The last great Agrarian contest which the Romans had was that which
takes its name from the Gracchi, and which began at the commencement of
the fourth generation before the birth of Christ. On the part of the
reformers, it was as strictly legal a movement as ever was known. Not
a single acre of private land was threatened by them; and whoever pays
attention to the details of their measures cannot fail to be struck with
the great concessions they were ready to make to their opponents,--the
men who had literally stolen the public property, and who pretended to
hold it as of right. Perhaps it was too late for any such reform as that
contemplated by the Gracchi to succeed, the condition of Rome then being
in no important respect like what it had been in the time of Licinius
Stolo; but one of the most interesting chapters in the history of things
which might have been is that which relates to the possible effect of
the Sempronian legislation. Had that legislation been fairly tried,
Roman history, and therefore human history, must have taken an entirely
different course, with an effect on the fortunes of every man born since
that time. Whether that effect would have been good or bad, who shall
say? But one thing is certain, and that is, that the Gracchi and their
supporters were not the enemies of property, and that their measures
were not intended to interfere with the private estate of any citizen of
the Roman Republic.
Such was the Agrarianism, and such were the Agrarian laws and the
Agrarian contests of Rome, which were so long misunderstood; and through
that misunderstanding has the word Agrarian, so proper in itself,
been made to furnish one of the most reproachful terms that violent
politicians have ever used when seeking to bespatter their foes. It will
be seen that the word has been applied in "the clean contrary way" to
that in which it should have been applied, and that, strictly speaking,
an Agrarian is a conservative, a man who asks for justice,--not a
destructive, who, in his desire to advance his own selfish ends or those
of his class, would trample on law and order alike. It is only within
the last seventy years that the world has been made to comprehend that
it had for fifty generations been guilty of gross injustice to some of
the purest men of antiquity; and it is not more than thirty years since
the labors of Niebuhr made the truth generally known,--if it can,
indeed, be said to be so known even now. The Gracchi long passed for a
couple of demagogues, who were engaged in seditious practices, and who
were so very anxious to propitiate "the forum populace" that they were
employed in perfecting plans for the division of all landed property
amongst its members, when they were cut off by a display of vigor on the
part of the government. "The Sedition of the Gracchi" was for ages one
of the common titles for a chapter in the history of Republican Rome;
yet it did not escape the observation of one writer of no great
learning, who published before Heyne's attention was drawn to the
subject, that, if there were sedition in the affair, it was quite as
much the sedition of the Senate against the Gracchi as it was the
sedition of the Gracchi against the Senate.[A]
[Footnote A: We have taken for granted the soundness of the views of
Niebuhr on the Roman Agrarian contests and laws, that eminent scholar
having followed in the track of Heyne with distinguished success; but
it must be allowed that in some respects his positions have been not
unsuccessfully assailed. Those who would follow up the subject are
recommended to study Ihne's _Researches into the History of the Roman
Constitution_, in which some of Niebuhr's views are energetically
combated. The main points, however, that the Agrarian laws were not
directed against private property, or aimed at placing all men on a
social equality, may be considered as established. Yet it must in candor
be admitted that the general subject is still involved in doubts, the
German commentators having thrown as much fog about some portions of the
Roman Constitution as they have thrown light upon other portions of it.]
The feeling that was allowed to have such sway in Rome, and the triumph
of which was followed with such important consequences, has often
manifested itself in modern times, in the course of great political
struggles, and has proved a powerful disturbing cause on several
occasions. One of these occasions has fallen under the observation of
the existing generation, and some remarks on it may not be out of place.
The French Revolution of 1848 was followed by an alarm on the part of
men of property, or of those whose profits depended on the integrity of
property being respected, which produced grave effects, the end whereof
is not yet. That revolution was the consequence of a movement as
purely political as the world ever saw. There was discontent with the
government of M. Guizot, which extended to the royal family, and in
which the _bourgeoisie_ largely shared, the very class upon the support
of which the House of Orleans was accustomed to rely. Had the government
yielded a little on some political points, and made some changes in the
administration, Louis Philippe might have been living at the Tuileries
at this very moment, or sleeping at St. Denis. But, insanely obstinate,
under dominion of the venerable delusion that obstinacy is firmness, the
King fell, and with him fell, not merely his own dynasty, but the whole
system of government which France had known for a generation, and
under which she was, painfully and slowly, yet with apparent sureness,
becoming a constitutional state. A warm political contest was converted
into a revolution scarcely less complete than that of 1789, and far more
sweeping than that of 1830. Perhaps there would have been little to
regret in this, had it not been, that, instead of devoting their
talents to the establishing of a stable republican government, several
distinguished Frenchmen, whom we never can think capable of believing
the nonsense they uttered, began to labor to bring about a sort of
social Arcadia, in which all men were to be made happy, and which was to
be based on contempt for political economy and defiance of common
sense. Property, with its usual sensitiveness, took the alarm, and the
Parisians soon had one another by the throat. How well founded was
this alarm, it would be difficult to say. Most likely it was grossly
exaggerated, and had no facts of importance to go upon. That among the
disciples of M. Louis Blanc there were gentlemen who had no respect for
other men's property, because they had no property of their own, it is
quite safe to believe; but that they had any fixed ideas about seizing
property, or of providing labor at high wages for workmen, it would be
impossible to believe, even if Albert, _ouvrier_, that most mythical
of revolutionists, were to make solemn affidavit of it on the works of
Aurora Dudevant. Some vague ideas about relieving the wants of the poor,
Louis Blanc and his associates had, just as all men have them who have
heads to see and hearts to feel the existence of social evils. Had they
obtained possession of the French government, immediately after Louis
Philippe, to use his own words, had played the part of Charles X., they
would have failed utterly, as Lamartine and his friends failed, and much
sooner too. Lamartine failed as a statesman,--he lacked that power
to govern which far less able men than he have exhibited under
circumstances even more trying than those into which he so unguardedly
plunged,--and Louis Blanc would have been no more successful than the
poet. The failure of the "Reds" would have been the more complete,
if they had had an opportunity to attempt the realization of the
Socialistic theories attributed to them, but which few of their number
could ever have entertained. They sought political power for the usual
purposes; but as they stood in the way of several other parties, those
parties united to crush them, which was done in "the Days of June." It
is easy to give a fallen enemy a bad name, and the conquered party on
that occasion were stigmatized as the enemies of everything that men
hold dear, particular emphasis being laid on their enmity to property,
which men hold dearer than all other things combined. The belief seems
to have been all but universal throughout Europe, and to have been
shared by many Americans, that the party which was conquered in the
streets of Paris by Cavaignac was really an organization against
property, which it meant to steal, and so afford a lively illustration
of the doctrine attributed to it, that property is theft. To this
belief, absurd as it was, must we look for the whole course of European
history during the last ten years. The restoration of the Napoleonic
dynasty in France, the restoration of the Papacy by French soldiers, the
reestablishment of Austrian ascendency over Italy, and the invasion of
Hungary by the Russians,--these and other important events that have
happened under our eyes, and which have enabled us to see history in the
making on a large scale, all are directly traceable to the alarm which
property experienced immediately after the class of property-holders had
allowed the Revolution of February to take place, and to sweep away that
dynasty in which their principles stood incarnate. The French imperial
throne is in an especial manner the result of that alarm. When
General Cavaignac had succeeded in conquering the "Reds," a military
dictatorship followed his victory as a matter of course, and it remained
with him to settle the future of France. The principles of his family
led him to sympathize with the "oppressed nationalities" which were
then struggling in so many places for freedom; and had he interfered
decidedly in behalf of the Italians and Hungarians, he would have
changed the fate of Europe. He would have become the hero of the great
_political_ movement which his country had inaugurated, and his sword
would have outweighed the batons of Radetzky and Paskevitsch. Both
principle and selfishness pointed to such intervention, and there can be
no doubt that the Republican Dictator seriously thought of it. But the
peculiarities of his position forbade his following the path that was
pointed out to him. As the champion of property, as the chief of the
coalesced parties which had triumphed over "the enemies of property" in
the streets and lanes of "the capital of civilization," he was required
to concentrate his energies on domestic matters. Yet further: all men in
other countries who were contending with governments were looked upon by
the property party in France as the enemies of order, as Agrarians, who
were seeking the destruction of society, and therefore were not worthy
of either the assistance or the sympathy of France; so that the son of
the old Conventionist of '93 was forced, by the views of the men of whom
he so strangely found himself the chief, to become in effect the ally of
the Austrian Kaiser and the Russian Czar. The Italians, who were seeking
only to get rid of "barbarian" rule, and the Hungarians, who were
contending for the preservation of a polity as old as the English
Constitution against the destructives of the imperial court, were held
up to the world as men desirous in their zeal for revolution to overturn
all existing institutions! Aristocrats with pedigrees that shamed those
of the Bourbon and the Romanoff were spoken of in language that might
possibly have been applicable to the lazzaroni of Naples, that lazzaroni
being on the side of the "law and order" classes. As General Cavaignac
did nothing to win the affections of the French people, as he was the
mere agent of men rendered fierce by fear, it cannot be regarded as
strange, that, when the Presidential election took place, he found
himself nowhere in the race with Louis Napoleon. He was deserted even by
a large portion of the men whose work he had done so well, but who
saw in the new candidate for their favor one who could become a more
powerful protector of property than the African general,--one who had a
name of weight, not merely with the army, but with that multitudinous
peasant class from which the French army is mainly conscribed, and
which, containing numerous small property-holders, is fanatically
attached to the name of Napoleon. Thus the cry of "Property in danger"
ended, in 1851, in the restoration of open despotism, which every
sensible observer of French affairs expected after Louis Napoleon was
made President, his Presidency being looked upon only as a pinch-beck
imitation of the Consulate of 1799-1804. This is the ordinary course
of events in old countries: revolution, fears of Agrarianism, and
the rushing into the jaws of the lion in order to be saved from the
devouring designs of a ghost.
Those who recollect the political literature of the years that passed
between the Revolution of February and the commencement of those
disputes which eventuated in the Russian War must blush for humanity.
Writers of every class set themselves about the work of exterminating
Agrarianism in France. Grave arguments, pathetic appeals, and lively
ridicule were all made use of to drive off enemies of whose coming upon
Europe there was no more danger than of a return of the Teutones and the
Cimbri. Had the arguments and adjurations of the clever men who waged
war on the Agrarians been addressed to the dust of the Teutones
whom Marius exterminated in Provence, they could not have been more
completely thrown away than they were. Some of these men, however, were
less distinguished for cleverness than for malignity, and shrieked for
blood and the display of brute force in terms that would have done
dishonor even to a St. Bartholomew assassin or anti-Albigensian
crusader. Monsieur Romieu held up _Le Spectre Rouge_ to the eyes of a
generation incapable, from fright, of distinguishing between a scarecrow
and the Apollo. The Red Spectre haunted him, and the people for whom he
wrote, as relentlessly as the Gray Spectre came upon the chiefs of Ivor.
He saw in the working classes--those men who asked then, as in modern
times they have only asked, "leave to toil"--millions of creatures
"regimented by hatred," and ready to throw themselves upon society. In
the past he saw nothing so much to be admired as the Feudal System, it
was so very summary and trenchant in its modes of dealing with masses
of men so unreasonable as to grumble when they were starving. In the
present, all that he could reverence was the cannonarchy of Russia,
which he invoked to restore to France that golden age in which Crecy and
Poictiers were fought, and when the Jacquerie illustrated the attachment
of the serf to the seigneur. How this invoker of Cossacks and cannon
from the Don and the Neva "to regulate the questions of our age" on the
Seine and the Marne would have stared, could the curtain that hides the
future have been drawn for a moment, to allow him to see a quarter of a
million of French, English, and Italian soldiers on the shores of the
Euxine, and eight hundred Western cannon raining that "hell-fire" upon
the august city of Catherine under which it became a heap of ruins! Yet
the man was undoubtedly sincere, as political fools almost invariably
are. He had faith in nothing but armies and forts, but his faith in
them was of the firmest. He despised the Bourbons and the _bourgeoisie_
alike, and would be satisfied with nothing short of a national chief
as irresponsible as Tamerlane; and if he should be as truculent as
Tamerlane, it was not difficult to see that M. Romieu would like him all
the better for it. Your true fanatic loves blood, and is provokingly
ingenious in showing how necessary it is that you should submit calmly
to have your throat cut for the good of society. M. Marat was a logician
of this sort, and M. Romieu is, after all, only a pale imitator of the
cracked horse-leech; but as he wrote in the interest of "order," and for
the preservation of property, we rarely hear of his thirst for blood.
Had he been a disciple of Marat, his words would have been quoted
annually in every abode of civilized men from Sacramento to Astrachan,
as evidence of the desire of popular leaders to lap blood.
What has become of M. Romieu, and how he took Louis Napoleon's energetic
measures for laying the Red Ghost in the blood of aristocrats as well as
of democrats, we know not. He ought to have been charmed with the _coup
d'etat_; for the man who conceived and executed that measure for his
own benefit professed to act only for the benefit of society, the
maintenance of the rights of property being kept by him especially in
view. He, too, charged his enemies, or those whom he thought endowed
with the desire and the ability to resist him, with Agrarianism; and
such Agrarians as Thiers and Cavaignac were seized in their beds, and
imprisoned,--to prevent their running away with the Great Book of
France, one is at liberty to suppose. There was something shockingly
ludicrous in charging the hero and victor of the Days of June with
designs against property; but the charge may have led Cavaignac to have
doubts whether he had not himself been a little too ready to believe
the charge of Agrarianism when preferred against a large number of the
people of France, whom he had treated with grape-shot by way of teaching
them respect for the rights of property. There is nothing like bringing
injustice home to a man to open his eyes to its evil nature. Of all
public men of our generation who have signally failed, Cavaignac must
be held the most unfortunate; for his intentions were excellent, and he
died just as circumstances were about to afford him an opportunity to
retrieve his fame. His last days must have been the reverse of agreeable
in their retrospect; for it must constantly have been forced upon his
mind that he had been made the chief instrument in the work of fastening
upon the country he loved the most odious of the many despotic
governments it has known,--a government that confesses its inability to
stand against the "paper shot" of journalists, and which has shackled
the press after the fashion of Austrian and Russian dynasties; and all
this had taken place, as he must have seen in his retirement, as the
consequence of his having mistaken the voice of a party for the voice
of France. The lesson is one that ought to go home to the hearts of all
public men, and to those of American statesmen in particular, some
of the ablest of whom are now engaged in doing the behests of an
oligarchical faction in the name of the interests of property.
* * * * *
BULLS AND BEARS.
A slow and weary walk had Mr. Lindsay from the station to his house. It
was after sunset, dark and cold, as he turned in at the gate. The house
was dimly lighted, and no one save the Newfoundland dog came to greet
him at the door. He did not hear his daughter singing as she was
accustomed at evening. There were no pleasant voices, no light and
cheerful steps in the rooms. All was silence. The ill news had preceded
him. His wife without a word fell on his bosom and wept. Clara kept her
seat, trying in vain, while her lip quivered and her eyes dimmed, to fix
her attention upon the magazine she had held rather than read. At length
Mr. Lindsay led his wife to the sofa and sat beside her, holding
her hand with a tenderness that was as soothing as it was uncommon.
Prosperity had not hardened his heart, but business had preoccupied it;
though his manner had been kind, his family had rarely seen in him any
evidence of feeling.
Misfortune had now brought back the rule of his better nature, and the
routine life he had led was at an end.
"My dear wife, what I have most dreaded in this crash is the pain, the
anxiety, and the possible discomfort it would bring to you and to Clara.
For myself I care nothing. It is a hard trial, but I shall conform to
our altered circumstances cheerfully."
"And so shall we, father," said Clara. "We shall be happy with you
"One thing, I am sure, you can never lose," said Mrs. Lindsay,--"and
that is an honorable name."
"I have tried to do my duty. I gave up only when I found I must. But my
duty is not yet done."
"My creditors have claims which I regard as sacred, and which must be
paid, ultimately, at whatever sacrifice."
"Won't the property at the store be enough when you can sell it?" asked
Mrs. Lindsay. "You have spoken of the quantity of goods you had on
"I can't say, my dear. It depends upon how much time I have. If I could
have effected sales, I should have been safe."
"If they have the goods, won't they be satisfied?" asked Clara.
"You don't understand, my daughter, that all I have is at their command.
If the property does not liquidate the debts, then the house, the
carriage and horses, the furniture, the"----
The possible surrender of all that had made life pleasant to his family
was not to be considered without emotion, and Mr. Lindsay found himself
unable to finish the sentence.
"Dear father!" exclaimed Clara, seizing and kissing his hand, as she sat
down at his feet,--"you are just and noble. We could not be selfish or
complaining when we think of you. Let everything go. I love the dear old
house, the garden that has been your pride, the books and pictures; but
we shall be nearer together--shan't we, papa?--in a cottage. If they do
sell my piano, I can still sing to you; nobody can take that pleasure
"Bless you, my daughter! I feel relieved,--almost happy. Your cheerful
heart has given me new courage. Perhaps we shall not have to make the
sacrifices I dread. Whatever happens, my darling, your piano shall be
kept. I will sell my watch first. Your music will be twice as dear in
our days of adversity."
"Yes, papa,--if we keep the piano, I can give lessons."
"You give lessons? Nonsense! But get up, pussy; here, sit on my knee."
He fondled her like a child, and they all smiled through their
tears,--heavenly smiles! blissful tears! full of a feeling of which the
heart in prosperous days has no conception!
"One thing has happened to-day," said Mr. Lindsay, "that I shall never
forget,--an action so generous and self-forgetful that it makes one
think better of mankind. I remember hearing a preacher say that no
family knew all their capabilities of love until death had taken one of
their number,--not their love for the dead, but their deeper affection
for each other after the loss. I suppose every calamity brings its
compensations in developing noble traits of character; and it is almost
an offset to failure itself to have such an overflowing feeling as
this,--to know that there are so many sympathizing hearts. But what I
was going to speak of was the conduct of my clerk, Monroe. He is a fine
fellow,--rather more given to pictures and books and music than is good
for a business man; but with a clear head, a man's energy, and a woman's
heart. He has a widowed mother, whom he supports. I never knew he had
any property till to-day. It seems his father left ten thousand dollars.
He knew that my situation was desperate, and yet he offered me his all.
It would only have put off the day of failure; but I was selfish enough
to be willing to take it. He had deposited the securities for the amount
with Sandford, who first borrowed money in the street by pledging them,
and then failed to-day. Monroe has lost his all; but his intention was
as noble as if he had saved me. I shall never forget it; and as long as
I have a dollar he shall share it"
"What a noble fellow!" said Mrs. Lindsay. "How pleasant to think that in
this terrible scramble for life there are some who have not lost their
humanity, nor trampled down their finer feelings!"
"I couldn't but contrast this kindness on the part of a clerk, for whom
I have never done anything beyond paying him his well-earned salary,
with the conduct of Mr. Bullion. I gave him my indorsement repeatedly,
and assisted him in procuring loans, when he was not so rich as he is
now. I know he has resources, ready money,--money that he does not need
for any outstanding debts, but which he must keep for speculation. But
he refused to do anything. 'Couldn't,' he said, 'really; times were
hard; everybody wanted to borrow; couldn't lend to everybody; hadn't the
funds; much as he could do to stand up himself.' There was no sincerity
in his look. I saw his soul skulking away behind his subterfuges like a
spider in the depths of his flimsy web. He seems to thrive, however, in
the midst of general ruin. I've no doubt he lives like a vulture, on the
dead and dying."
"Is Mr. Bullion that short man, father, with the cold eyes and gruff
voice, and the queer eyebrow which he seems to poke at people?"
"Yes, my daughter, that is the man."
"Well, I'm sure, he is coarse, disagreeable, hard-hearted. I'm glad you
are not under obligations to him."
"My only regret is that I had the mortification of being refused. I wish
I had never asked him. I can't think of his look and tone without a pang
of shame, or wounded pride, if you choose to call it so, harder to
bear than a blow in the face. I had a claim upon his gratitude, but he
remembers a favor no more than a wolf does the mutton he ate a year
ago.--But enough of business. The bitterness has passed since we have
talked together. Let us be cheerful. Come, Clara, sing some of those
sweet old ballads!"
From her infancy until now in her twentieth year, Clara had been
constantly with her father,--but she had never known him before.
Early next morning the officer in charge of Mr. Sandford's house was
relieved by a brother constable. Number Two was a much more civil person
in speech and manner than Number One; in fact, he speedily made himself
so agreeable to the housemaid that she brought him a cup of coffee, and
looked admiringly while he swallowed it. By the time Mrs. Sandford and
Marcia came down to breakfast, he had established an intimacy with Biddy
that was quite charming to look upon. One would have thought he was an
old friend of the household,--a favored crony; such an easy, familiar
air he assumed. He accosted the ladies with great gallantry,--assured
them that they were looking finely,--hoped they had passed a pleasant
night, and that Number One had given them no unnecessary inconvenience.
Marcia met him with a haughty stare which nobody but a woman of fashion
can assume. Turning to Mrs. Sandford, she exclaimed,--
"Who is this fellow?"
Number Two hastened to answer for himself:--
"My name, Ma'am, is Scarum, Harum Scarum some of the young lawyers call
me. Ha!" (_A single laugh, staccato_.)
"Well, Mr. Scarum, you can keep your compliments for those who
appreciate them. Come, Lydia, let us go down to breakfast. The presuming
fool!" she exclaimed, as she passed through the hall,--"he's worse
than the other. One can put up with a coarse man, if he minds his own
business; but an impudent, self-satisfied fellow must be made to know
"High-strung filly! ha!" (_Sforzando_.)
"May have to speak to common folks, yet,--eh, Miss Bridget?"
But farther conversation was interrupted for the time. Bridget was
summoned by the bell to the dining-room, and gallant Number Two was left
alone in the parlor. Meanwhile he surveyed the room as minutely as if
it had been a museum,--trying the rocking-chair, examining pictures,
snapping vases with his unpared nails, opening costly books, smelling of
scent-bottles, scanning the anti-Macassars and the Berlin-wool mats. At
last he opened the piano, and, in a lamentably halting style, played,
"Then you'll remember me," using only a forefinger in the performance.
He sang at the same time in a suppressed tone, while he cast agonizing
looks at an imaginary obdurate female, supposed to be on the sofa,
occasionally glancing with admiration in the mirror at the intensely
pathetic look his features wore.
Marcia, meanwhile, had borne the noise as long as she could; so Biddy
was dispatched to ask the singer if he would not _please_ to do his
practising at some other time.
"Practising, indeed!" exclaimed Number Two, indignantly, upon receiving
the message. "There are people who think I can sing. These women,
likely, a'n't cultivated enough to appreciate the 'way-up music. They're
about up to that hand-organ stuff of Sig-ner Rossyni, likely. They
can't understand Balfy; they a'n't up to it. What do _you_ think, Miss
Bridget? Nice figger, that of yours." (_Sotto voce_.) "None of the
tall, spindlin', wasp-waisted, race-horse style about you, like that"
(pointing down-stairs). "A good plump woman for me! and a woman with an
ear, too! Now _you_ know what good singin' is. I led the choir down to
Jorumville 'bove six months b'fore I come down here and went into the
law. But _she_ thinks I was practising! Ha!" (_Sempre staccato_.)
"La! did ye?" said the admiring Biddy.
Tinkle, tinkle, again. Biddy was now summoned to call Charles, and see
if he would breakfast. Number Two made another tour of the room, with
new discoveries. While absorbed in this, pleasing employment, the two
women passed upstairs. Marcia could not restrain herself, as she saw him
with her favorite bird-of-paradise fan.
"Don't spoil those feathers, you meddlesome creature!"
"Beg your pardon, Ma'am" (with an elaborate bow). "Merely admirin' the
colors. Pretty sort of a thing, this 'ere! 'Most too light and fuzzy for
a duster, a'n't it? Feathers ben dyed, most likely? Willin' to 'bleege
the fair, however, especially one so handsome." (Rubbing it on his
coat-sleeve.) "Guess't a'n't got dirty any."
Charles, meanwhile, had risen and dressed, and came out when Bridget
knocked; a spectacle, indeed,--a walking sermon on the perils that may
follow what are termed "good times." His face would have been pale,
except that his nose, which was as puffy as an _omelette soufflee_, and
his left eye with a drooping lid sustained by a livid crescent, gave it
a rubicund expression. His knees were shaky, his pulse feeble, his head
top-heavy. He declined assistance rather sulkily, and descended holding
by the stair-rail and stepping gingerly. Number Two, in spite of his
genial, unruffled temper, could not repress his surprise, as the
apparition passed the parlor-door.
"A rum customer! Ha!" (_Con anima_.)
Before the repentant owner of the puffy nose and purple eyelid had
finished his solitary breakfast, Mr. Sandford came home. He had obtained
bail and was at large. Looking hastily into the parlor, he saw
a stranger, with his hat jauntily on one side, seated in the
damask-covered chair, with his feet on an embroidered ottoman, turning
over a bound collection of sea-mosses, and Marcia's guitar lying across
his lap. He was dumb with astonishment. Polite Number Two did not leave
him to burst in ignorance.
"All right. Mr. Sandford, I suppose. An 'tachment put on, and I'm
keeper. Sony to disturb a family. But somebody has to. Can I do anything
to obleege you?"
"Yes, by laying down that book which you are spoiling. And you may take
your greasy boots off that worsted-work, and put the stopper into that
"Beg your pardon, Sir. Didn't intend to make trouble. Boots has to be
greased, you know, else they crack all out, an' don't last no time; mine
do. This 'ere Cologne is nice, to be sure. I jest poured out a bit on my
"Cologne! It's attar of roses; and you've spilled more than your neck is
worth,--taking yourself at your own valuation."
"Why, you don't say this is high-cost? It does smell good, though, ha!"
As he started to go up-stairs, Mr. Sandford saw the linen carpet-cover
spattered with frequent drops of blood. He called aloud to his sister,--
"Marcia! are you there? alive? What's the meaning of this blood? Who has
been murdered? Or is this turned into a butcher's shop?"
Marcia and her sister-in-law descended, and hurriedly explained the
mystery. While they were standing at the head of the stairs, Charles
made his appearance, and received such congratulations from his brother
as might be expected. He vouchsafed no word of reply, but went into
the room where he had slept to get some article he had left. A sudden
thought struck Mr. Sandford. He followed Charles into the room, and in a
moment after returned,--but so changed! Imagine Captain Absolute at
the duelling-ground turned in a twinkling into Bob Acres, Lucy Bertram
putting on the frenzied look of Meg Merrilies, or the even-tempered
Gratiano metamorphosed into the horror-stricken, despairing Shylock
at the moment he hears his sentence, and you have some notion of the
expression which Sandford's face wore. His eyes were fixed like baleful
lights in a haggard, corpse-like countenance. His hair was disordered.
He clutched his cravat as though suffocating. His voice was gone; he
whispered feebly, like one of Ossian's ghosts,--
"Gone! gone! Who has it? Marcia! Lydia! Charles! Who's got it? Quick!
The money! Gone?"
He rushed into the room again, deaf to any reply. He got upon his hands
and knees, looked under the bed, the wardrobe, the dressing-table, the
chairs, muttering all the while with a voice like a dying man's. He rose
up, staggering, and seized Marcia by the arm, who trembled with terror
at his ferocity.
"The money! Give me the money! You've got it! You know you have! Give it
to me! Give"--
"Pray, be calm," said Mrs. Sandford; "you shall know all about it."
"I don't want to know," he almost screamed; "I want the money, the
Then dropping his voice to a lower key, and with a tone which was meant
to be wheedling, he turned to his sister-in-law:--
"You've got it, then? How you frightened me! Come, dear sister! don't
trifle with me. I'm poor, very poor, and the little sum seems large.
Give it to me. Let me see that it is safe. _Dear_ sister!"
"I haven't it," said Mrs. Sandford, "But compose yourself. You shall
know about it."
He cried audibly, like a sickly child.
"It isn't gone? No, you play upon my fears. Where is the pocket-book?"
"How are you ever going to know, if you won't hear?" asked Marcia. "I
wouldn't be so unmanly as to whine so even about a million."
"No, you think money is as plenty as buttons. Wait till you
starve,--starve,--till you beg on a street-crossing."
"Listen," said Mrs. Sandford.
"Do, and stop your groaning like a madman," said Marcia, consolingly.
"When Charles met with his mishap and fell senseless, we asked the
officer to carry him up-stairs. Rather than go up another flight, we had
him taken, into your chamber. Your dressing-case lay on the table, in
the middle of the room, away from its usual place by the mirror. The
officer at once seized and opened it. You had carelessly left your money
in it. He was evidently informed of the fact that you had money, and was
directed to attach it. He counted the package before me, and then put it
into his pocket."
During this recital, Mr. Sandford's breath came quick and his eyes
opened wider. His muscles all at once seemed charged with electricity.
He dashed down-stairs, half-a-dozen steps at a time, and pounced upon
unlucky Number Two, who, with the captivated Biddy, was leaning at the
parlor-door, listening to the conversation above. Seizing the officer by
the throat, Sandford shouted huskily,--
"Robber! thief! Give up that money! How dare you? Give it up, I say!"
Number Two could not answer, for his windpipe was mortally squeezed
under the iron grip of his adversary; therefore, as the only reply he
could make, he commenced the manual exercise right and left, and with
such effect, that Sandford loosened his hold and staggered back.
"There! I guess you've got enough on't. What ye talkin' about money? I
a'n't got any of your money."
Meanwhile, Mrs. Sandford, who had followed the infuriated man, though
necessarily at some distance, came and grasped his arm.
"The man who seized the money is gone," she said. "This is the one who
takes his place."
Sandford was speechless,--but not long. While hope remained, he had
whined, begged, cried, implored. Now that he was baffled, discomfited,
ruined, his rage broke out. The placid gentleman, whose glossy garb and
quiet air a day before made such a picture of content, would hardly
be recognized in this furious, gesticulating lunatic, whose oaths and
objurgations came belching forth like sulphurous flames. It was on his
gentle sister-in-law that the weight of his wrath fell. She tried to
pacify him, until she became actually alarmed for her safety, and turned
"Go!" he exclaimed. "You've done enough. You've ruined me. Pack off!
You've beggared me. Now look out for yourself! Don't let me see your
Trembling and tearful, Mrs. Sandford went to her room to gather
her wardrobe. She had not intended to remain a burden upon her
brother-in-law. Now she must go at once. Even if he were to repent of
his blind rage and ask her forgiveness, she felt that there was an
impassable gulf between them.
During the confusion that followed, Number Two, feeling hungry, went
down with Biddy to lunch.
"It's about the last ov it here, Sirr," said the girl, "an' we may as
well ate what is good and drink something betther than cold wather."
So saying, the best the house afforded was set out;--wines of rare
vintages were uncorked, and glasses hob-a-nobbed.
Mr. Sandford, exhausted with his delirium, went to his room, and there
languidly paced the floor back and forth, without cessation, like a
caged white bear in midsummer. Charles crawled up to his own bed. Marcia
remained in the parlor, her busy brain turning over the unusual events
of the day, and wondering what loop-hole of escape from their present
difficulties could be found.
The door-bell rang. Biddy, occupied with her pleasing duties as hostess,
and flushed with drinking crusty old Port and "Lafitte 1844," did not
hear. Some sudden impulse or vague prescience moved Marcia to open the
door herself. It was Greenleaf. Notwithstanding the untoward state of
affairs, she could not deny herself the pleasure of meeting him, and
ushered him into the parlor, then fortunately vacant.
A cooler observer would have noticed something peculiar in his carriage
as he crossed the hall,--an unnatural pallor, a sharpness in the angles
of his mouth, a quicker respiration, and a look of mingled firmness and
sorrow in his eyes. A stranger might have thought him in a state of
chronic nervous irritability or mild insanity. And truly, a sensitive
man, perplexed between conflicting duties, spurred by conscience, yet
wanting in courage to do its bidding, presents a pitiable spectacle; it
is a position of sharp suspense which no mind can hold long;--relief
must come, in heartbreak or darkness, if in no other way.
When Greenleaf parted from Marcia, the morning before, he intended to
wait a week at least before telling her of his changed feelings. He did
not know what a burden he had undertaken to carry; he staggered under
it, like the pilgrim in Bunyan's immortal story. Besides, after he had
once come to a determination, he was impatient to see Alice and implore
her forgiveness. Minutes were days while he waited. To pass a week in
this way was not to be thought of, unless by means of ether or mesmerism
he could fly from himself and find peace in oblivion.
"My dear George," Marcia began, "it is so kind of you to come with your
sympathy! We are dreadfully cast down. What is to be done I don't know."
"You surprise me! What has happened? I have scarcely been out of my
studio since I last saw you."
"But it's in all the papers!"
"I haven't seen a paper."
"What I told you yesterday has come to pass. Henry has failed; so
has the Vortex,--and Mr. Fayerweather, the President,--and Mr.
Stearine,--and everybody else, I believe. We shall probably leave the
house and take lodgings."
Every word was a pang to Greenleaf. Again his heart, full of sympathy
for the woman's distress, whispered, "Wait! don't wound the stricken
deer!" But he hugged his resolve and steeled himself against pity.
"I am truly sorry to hear of your brother's misfortunes. But with his
talents and reputation, and with his troops of friends in business
circles as well as in the various charitable societies, it cannot be
that he will long be depressed. He will work his way back to his old
position, or even a higher one."
Marcia shook her head doubtfully. She had not heard the rumors affecting
her brother's integrity, but she saw that his manly resolution was gone,
that he was vascillating, broken-spirited, and needed but little more
trouble to make him imbecile.
"I was thinking of a case of conscience, as I came here," said
Greenleaf. "It was, How far a promise is binding, when it involves a
lasting and irretrievable wrong in its fulfilment."
Marcia looked at him in dumb astonishment. He continued:--
"Suppose that you were to find, by-and-by that your affections had
cooled towards me,--that you discovered incompatabilities of taste and
temper,--that you felt sure a true union of souls was impossible,--that
marriage would be only a mockery?"
"Dear George, how you frighten me! Why do you ask such dreadful
questions in such a solemn way? You know I love you, heart and soul."
"But consider the question as an abstract one. I ask you only to suppose
the case. Should you thrust conscience into the cellar, stifle its
outcries, and give your consent to a profanation of holy wedlock?"
"I can't suppose the case. And I don't see the use of torturing one's
self with imaginary evils. The real troubles of life are quite enough to
"I know such a case. I know a man who has to decide it. It is not a
light matter for any man, and his is a soul as sensitive as God ever
made. He was betrothed to a woman every way worthy; he loved her
sincerely. His chief fault, and a serious one it is, came from his
susceptibility to fresh impressions. The pleasure of the present had
more power over him than any recollections of the past. The influence of
the living woman at his side was greater, for the moment, than that of
any absent love. In an evil hour, he committed himself to another. She
was, doubtless, formed to inspire his passion and to return it. But he
was not free, and had no right to linger on forbidden ground. For weeks,
nay, months, he lived this false and wicked life, of a different mind
every day, and lacking the courage to meet the difficulty. At last he
became sure that his love belonged where his faith was due,--that, if he
would not live a wretched hypocrite, he must humble himself to confess
his criminal weakness, and return to his first engagement."
He paused; he might well do so. Marcia, with some difficulty, was able
to say, through her chattering teeth,--
"You seem to take a deep interest in this weak-minded person."
"I do,--the deepest. I am the man."
She rose to her feet, and, looking scornfully down upon him,
"Then you acknowledge yourself a villain!--not from premeditation, which
would give your baseness some dignity, but a weakly fool, so tossed
about by Fate that he is made a villain without either desire or
"You may overwhelm me with reproaches; I am prepared for them; I deserve
them. But God only knows through what a season of torture I have passed
to come to this determination."
"A very ingenious story, Mr. Greenleaf! Do you suppose that the world
will believe it, the day after our losses? Do you expect me to believe
"I told you that I had not heard of the failure. I am in the habit of
"For instance, when you vowed that you loved me, and me only!"
"You may spare your taunts. But, to show you how mercenary I am, let me
assure you that the woman to whom my word is pledged, and to whom I must
return, is without any property or expectations."
"Very well, Sir," said Marcia, rubbing her hands, in the endeavor to
conceal her agitation; "we need not waste words. After what you have
told me, I could only despise such a whiffler,--a scrap of refuse iron
at the mercy of any magnet,--a miller dashing into every fight. A lover
so helpless must needs have some new passional attraction--that is the
phrase, I believe--with every changing moon. The man I love should be
made of different stuff." She drew her figure up proudly, and her lips
curled like a beautiful fiend's. "He should bury the disgraceful secret,
if he had it, in his heart, and carry it to his grave. He would not cry
out like a boy with a cut finger."
"Precisely, Miss Sandford. And for that reason you would be no mate for
me. My wife must have no skeletons in her closet."
"Men generally claim the monopoly of those agreeable toys, I believe."
"Love is impossible where there are concealments. A secret is like a
worm in the heart of an apple, and nothing but rottenness and corruption
"Fortunately, you harbor none. You have turned your heart inside out,
like a peddler's pack,--and a gratifying display it made! I am more than
"The tone you have adopted is a warning to me to stop. I wish to bandy
no epithets, or reproaches. I came sorrowfully to tell you what I have
told. I had no fault to impute to you. But I must confess that this
morning you have shown yourself capable of thoughts and feelings I never
suspected, and I shall leave you with a far lighter heart than I came."
"You expected to see me at your feet, imploring your love and striving
to melt you by tears,--did you? It would have been a pleasing
triumph,--one that your sex prizes, I believe; but you have not been
gratified. I know what is due to myself, and I do not stoop. But there
may be ways to punish the betrayer of confidence," she said, with a
heaving bosom and distended nostrils. "I have a brother; and even if he
is forgetful, I shall not forget."
"I am obliged to you for putting me on my guard. I wished to part
otherwise. Be it so, since you will."
He turned to leave the room. Swift as lightning, she ran to the front
door and braced herself against it, at the same time calling loudly to
her brother. Mr. Sandford came to the top of the stairs and listened
with apparent apathy, while the maddened woman poured out her rage. He
stood a moment like one in a dream, and then slowly came down.
"There is your cane," said Marcia, fiercely, pointing to the
"I give you fair warning," said Greenleaf, calmly, "that you will never
strike more than one blow. No man shall assault me but at the risk of
"What is the need of this fury?" asked Mr. Sandford. "I don't want
to quarrel with a pauper. You are well rid of him. If you were to be
married, you'd only have the pleasure of going to Deer Island for your
"Then you will see me insulted without lifting a finger? Coward! Broken
down like a weed for the loss of a little money! I should be ashamed to
have a beard, if I had such a timid soul!"
"I trust, Miss Sandford," said Greenleaf, "you do not wish to prolong
this scene. Let me pass."
"Oh, yes,--you can go; can't he, brother?"
She opened the door, looking scornfully from the one to the other.
At that moment Mrs. Sandford came down, bringing a satchel, and asked
Greenleaf to walk with her until she could get a carriage. He cheerfully
promised his aid, and took the satchel. Her eyes were sadly beautiful,
and still humid from recent tears; and her face wore a touching look of
resignation. She did not speak to Mr. Sandford, who stood scowling at
her; but, taking Marcia's hand, she said,--
"Good bye, sister! I never thought to leave you in this way. I hope we
shall never see a darker hour. I shall send for my trunks presently.
"Good bye!" replied Marcia, mechanically. "You have a brave gallant! See
to it that he is not compelled by Destiny to make love to you on the
Greenleaf, with his companion, descended the steps to the street, making
no reply to this amiable God-speed.
Marcia shut the door, and with her brother returned to the parlor. At
the head of the stairs that led to the dining-room stood Number Two and
Biddy, who in stupid wonder had witnessed the scenes just described.
"Bridget," exclaimed the enraged mistress, "what are you staring at?
Come here! Pah! you have been drinking! You, too, you creature!"
Number Two bowed with maudlin politeness.
"You-do-m'injustice, Ma'am. On'y a smallsup, a littlesup,
"Bridget, do you pack up your baggage and be off! Rioting and feasting
in the time of our trouble! Ungrateful hussy!"
"I'll do that same, Miss Marshy; but me waages, if ye plaze, Miss."
"Get your wages, if you can. You've broken more crockery and glass, and
wasted more wines and preserves, than you ever earned."
"That's always the way, Miss, I've noticed, when missuses was o' mind to
get claar of payin' the honest dues. But me brother"--
"Be off to your brother! But first go and cool your head under the
Muttering and whining, the disconsolate Biddy crept up to the attic for
her scanty wardrobe.
"Here, fellow!" said Marcia to Number Two, whose foolish smiles at any
other time would have been ludicrous,--"go into the kitchen and get
He obeyed like a spaniel.
"Now, Henry," said Marcia, rather more composed, "let us do something at
once. It's plain that we can't live here for the house will be stripped;
and in our circumstances we would not stay, if we could. That fellow is
so far stupefied that we can save what we can carry away. If you have
any spirit left, help me pack our clothes and such things as can be put
into our trunks. Come! are you dreaming?"
He started up and followed her like a child. With superhuman energy,
she ransacked the house and gathered the most valuable articles. Plate,
linen, dresses, Parian ware, books, furs, and jewelry were packed,
as securely as the time allowed. A carriage and a baggage-wagon were
ordered, and in an incredibly short period they were ready to start.
"We have forgotten Charles," said Mr. Sandford.
"True enough," said Marcia. "Go and call him; he is too handsome to be
spared from our party just now. Tell him to bring his clothes."
The penitent came down, reluctantly; his nose was still puffy, and the
crescent under his eye rather more livid; muffled and cloaked, he
was led to the carriage. Mr. Sandford then remembered the cherished
parchment certificates and votes of thanks,--his title-deeds to
"Leave them," said his sister, contemptuously. "What are they good for?
A few commonplace autographs in tarnished gilt frames."
Bridget, meanwhile, went off, threatening all sorts of reprisals on the
part of her brother, who "wouldn't see her imposed upon by the likes of
thim, not he!" From the kitchen, at intervals, came up doleful snatches
of "Then you'll remember me," interrupted by hiccoughs, and with
involuntary variations and cadenzas that would have driven "Balfy" mad.
All was ready and they drove off. The house wherein had lived a
Benefactor of Mankind was deserted.
Greenleaf found a carriage for Mrs. Sandford, and accompanied her to a
private boarding-house, where she took lodgings; he then sent the driver
back for her trunks, and, having seen her comfortably provided for,
returned to his own rooms,--but not to remain there. He desired only to
leave a message on his door, explaining his absence. In less than an
hour he was in the railway-train, on his way to Innisfield.
To the musing or drowsy traveller by rail how space and time are
annihilated! He is barely conscious of progress, only when the brakeman
with measured tone shouts the name of the station; he looks up from his
paper or rouses from his doze, looks out at the cheerless prospect, and
then settles himself for another thirty miles. Time passes as unobserved
as the meadows or bushy pastures that flit by the jarring window at
his ear. But with Greenleaf, the reader will believe, the case was far
different. He had never noticed before how slowly the locomotives really
moved. At each station where wood and water were to be taken, it seemed
to him the delay was interminable. His eager desire shot along the track
like electricity; and when at last he reached the place where he was to
leave the train, he had gone through a year of ordinary hopes and fears.
He mounted the stage-box and took his seat beside the buffalo-clad,
coarse-bearded, and grim driver. The road lay through a hilly country,
with many romantic views on either hand. It was late in the season to
see the full glories of autumn; but the trees were not yet bare, and in
many places the contrasts of color were exquisite. For once the driver
found his match; he had a passenger as taciturn as himself. For the
first few miles not a word was spoken, saving a few brief threats to the
horses; but at last Jehu could hold out no longer; his reputation was
in danger, if he allowed any one to be more silent than himself, and he
cautiously commenced a skirmish.
A nod was the only reply.
"Belong about here?"
"No," with a shake of the head.
"Ben up here afore, though, I guess?"
"Thought I remembered. Year or so ago?"
"Had a great white cotton umbrill, a box like a shoe-kit, and suthin'
like a pair o' clo'es-frames?"
Greenleaf could but smile at the description of his easel and artist's
outfit; still he contented himself with a brief assent.
"Keeps tight as the bark to a white-oak," muttered Jehu to himself.
"Guess I'll try him on t'other side, seein' he's so offish."
"Knowed Square Lee, I b'lieve?"
"Yes," thundered Greenleaf, looking furiously at the questioner.
The glance frightened Jehu's soul from the red-curtained windows, where
it had been peeping out, back to its hiding-place, wherever that might
"Well, yer needn't bite a feller's head off," muttered he, in the same
undertone as before. "And if ye want to keep to yerself, shet up yer
darned oyster-shell, and see how much you make by it. Not more'n four
and sixpence, I guess. Maybe you'll come back 'bout's wise as ye come."
Thenceforward, Buffalo-coat was grim; his admonitions to the horses were
a trifle more emphatic; once he whistled a fragment of a minor stave,
but spoke not a word till the coach reached the tavern-door.
"You can drive to Mr. Lee's house," said Greenleaf.
"Want to go where he is?" replied Jehu, with a sardonic grin. "Wal, I'm
goin' past the meetin'us, and I'll set ye down at the graveyard."
"What do you mean?" asked Greenleaf, between anger and terror, at this
"Why, he's dead, you know, and ben layin' up there on the side-hill a
"Take me to the house, nevertheless."
"Lee's house? 'Siah Stebbins, the lame shoemaker, he's jest moved
into't. Miss Stebbins, she can't 'commodate ye, most likely; got too
many children; a'n't over an' above neat, nuther."
"Where is Miss Lee,--Alice,--his daughter?"
"Wal, can't say;--gone off, I b'lieve."
"She has relatives here, has she not?"
"Guess not; never heerd of any."
With a heavy heart, Greenleaf alighted at the tavern. Mr. Lee _dead_!
Alice left alone without friends, and now gone! The thought stunned,
overpowered him. While he had been treading the paths of dalliance,
forgetful of his obligations, the poor girl had passed through the great
trial of her life, the loss of her only parent and protector,--had met
the awful hour alone. Hardly conscious of what he did, he went to the
churchyard and sought for a new-made grave. The whole scene was pictured
to his imagination with startling vividness. He saw the fond father on
his death-bed, leaving the orphan to the kindness of strangers to his
blood,--the daughter weeping, disconsolate, the solitary mourner at the
funeral,--the desolate house,--the well-meant, but painful sympathy of
the villagers. He, meanwhile, who should have cheered and sustained her,
was afar off, neglectful, recreant to his vows. Could he ever forgive
himself? What would he not give for one word from the dumb lips, for one
look from the eyes now closed forever?
But regrets were useless; his first duty was to the living; he must
hasten to find Alice. But how, where? It occurred to him that the
village lawyer was probably administrator of the estate, and could tell
him where Alice was. He went, therefore, to the lawyer's office. It was
shut, and a placard informed him that Mr. Blank was attending court
at the county-seat. The lawyer's housekeeper said that "Alice was to
Boston, with some relation or other,--a Mr. Monroe, she believed his
name was, but couldn't say for sartin. The Square could tell; but
he--wouldn't be back for three or four days."
Leaving his card, with a request that Mr. Blank would communicate to him
Alice's address, Greenleaf hired a conveyance to the railway. He could
not remain in Innisfield an hour; it was a tomb, and the air stifled
him. On his way, he had ample opportunity to consider what a slender due
he had to find the girl; for he thought of the long column of Monroes in
the "Directory"; and, besides, he did not feel sure that the housekeeper
had correctly remembered the name, even.
We leave the repentant lover to follow on the track of Alice, assured
that he will receive sufficient punishment for his folly in the remorse
and anxiety he must feel.
It is quite time that our neglected heroine should appear upon the
stage. Gentle Alice, orphaned, deserted, lonely; it is not from any
distrust as to her talents, her manners, or her figure, that she
has been made to wait so long for the callboy. The curtain rises. A
fair-haired girl of medium height, light of frame, with a face in whose
sad beauty is blended the least perceptible trace of womanly resolution.
She has borne the heaviest sorrow; for when she followed her father to
the grave she buried the last object of her love. The long, inexcusable
silence of Greenleaf had been explained to her; she now believed him
faithless, and had (not without a pang) striven to uproot his memory
from her heart. Courageous, but with more than the delicacy of her sex,
strong only in innocence and great-heartedness, mature in character and
feeling, but with fresh and tender sensibility, she appeals to all manly
and womanly sympathy.
When the last ties that bound her to her native village were broken, she
accepted the hearty invitation of her cousin, Walter Monroe, and went
with him to Boston. The house at once became a home to her. Mrs.
Monroe received her as though she had been a daughter. Such a pretty,
motherless child,--so loving, so sincere! How could the kind woman
repress the impulse to fold her to her bosom? Not even her anxiety to
retain undivided possession of her son's heart restrained her. So Alice
lived, quiet, affectionate, but undemonstrative, as was natural after
the trials she had passed. Insensibly she became "the angel in the
house"; mother and son felt drawn to her by an irresistible attraction.
By every delicate kindness, by attention to every wish and whim, by
glances full of admiration and tenderness, both showed the power which
her beauty and goodness exerted. And, truly, she was worthy of the
homage. The younger men who saw her were set aflame at once, or sighed
afar in despair; while the elderly felt an unaccountable desire to pat
her golden head, pinch her softly-rounded cheek, and call her such
pet-names as their fatherly character and gray hair allowed.
Fate had not yet done its worst; there were other troubles in store for
the orphan. She knew little of her kinsman's circumstances, but supposed
him to be at least beyond the reach of want. But not many days passed
before the failure of Sandford deprived him of his little patrimony, and
the suspension of Mr. Lindsay left him without employment. That evening,
when Walter came home, she unwillingly heard the conversation between
him and his mother in an adjoining room; and then she knew that her
kind friends were destitute. Her resolution was at once formed. With
as cheerful an air as she could assume, she took her place at the
tea-table, and in the conversation afterwards strove to hide her
desolate heart-sickness. On going to her room, she packed her simple
wardrobe, not without many tears, and then, with only indifferent
success, tried to compose her scattered senses in sleep.
Next morning she strove to appear calm and cheerful, but a close
scrutiny might have detected the effort,--a deeper sorrow, perhaps,
about the heavy eyelids, and certainly a firmer pressure of the
sometimes tremulous lips. But Walter was too much occupied with the
conflict of his own feelings to observe her closely. While his mother
was engaged in her housewifely duties, he took Alice's hand, and for
the first time spoke of his losses, but expressed himself confident of
obtaining a new situation, and begged her to dismiss any apprehensions
from her mind. She turned her face that he might not see the springing
tears. He went on:--
"The sharpest pang I feel, Alice, is in the thought, that, with the loss
of my little fortune, and with my present gloomy prospects, I cannot say
to you what I would,--I cannot tell you what is nearest my heart. Since
you came here, our sombre house has grown bright. As I have looked at
you, I have dared to promise myself a happiness which before I had never
"Don't, dear Walter! I beg of you, don't venture upon that subject!"
"Why? is it painful to you?"
"Inexpressibly! You are generous and good. I love and honor you as my
cousin, my friend, my protector. Do not think of a nearer relationship."
Walter stood irresolute.
"Some other time, dear Alice," he faltered out. "I don't wish to pain
you, and I have no courage to-day."
"Let me be frank, Cousin Walter. Under other circumstances, I would
not anticipate the words I saw trembling on your lips. But even if the
memory of my poor father were not so fresh, I could not hear you."
She hid her face as she went on. "I have received a wound from the
faithlessness of one lover which never will heal. I could not repay your
love. I have no heart to give you."
Thus far she had controlled her feelings, when, kissing his hand with
sudden fervor, she burst into tears, and hastily left the room.
She waited till Walter went out; then she wrote a brief note and placed
it on the library-table at his favorite corner, and, after bidding Mrs.
Monroe good morning, went out as though for a walk. Frequently she
looked back with tearful eyes at the home she felt constrained to leave;
but gathering her strength, she turned away and plunged into the current
that set down Washington Street.
Brave Heart! alone in a great city, whose people were too much engrossed
with their own distresses and apprehensions to give heed to the
sufferings of others! Alone among strangers, she must seek a home and
the means of support Who would receive an unknown, friendless girl? Who,
in the terrible palsy of trade, would furnish her employment?
There was naturally great surprise when Walter Monroe returned home to
dinner and Alice was found to be missing. It was evident that it was
not an accidental detention, for her trunk had been sent for an hour
previous, and the messenger either could not or would not give any
information as to her whereabouts. Mrs. Monroe was excessively
agitated,--her faculties lost in a maze, like one beholding an accident
without power of thought or motion. To Walter it was a heavy blow; he
feared that his own advances had been the occasion of her leaving the
house, and he reproached himself bitterly for his headlong folly. Their
dinner was a sad and cheerless meal; the mother feeling all a woman's
solicitude for a friendless girl; the son filled with a tumult of
sorrow, remorse, love, and pity.
"Poor Alice!" said Mrs. Monroe; "perhaps she has found no home."
"Don't, mother! The thought of her in the streets, or among suspicious
strangers, or vulgar people, is dreadful. We must leave no means untried
to find her. Did she leave no word, no note?"
"No,--none that I know of."
"Have you looked?"
She shook her head. Walter left his untasted food, and hastily looked in
the hall, then in the parlor, and at last in the library. There was the
note in her own delicate hand.
"Don't be offended. I cannot eat the bread of idleness now that your
fortune is gone and your salary stopped. If I need your assistance, you
will hear from me. Comfort your mother, and believe that I shall be
happier earning my own living. We shall meet in better times. God bless
you both for your kindness to one who had no claim upon you!
"The dear creature!" said Mrs. Monroe, taking the note and kissing it.
"Why did you let her trunk go, mother? You might have detained the man
who came for it, and sent for me. I would have followed him to the ends
of the earth."
"I don't know, my son. I was confused. I hardly knew what happened. I
shook so that I sat down, and Bridget must have got it."
Tears ran down her cheeks, and her hands trembled so that her fork
"Never mind, dear mother. Pray, be calm. I did not wish to disturb you."
There was a ring at the door. A gentleman wished to see Mr. Monroe.
Rising from the table, he went into the parlor.
"Mr. Monroe," began the stranger, in an agitated manner, "do you know
anything of a young lady named Lee,--Alice Lee?"
"Yes," replied Monroe, with equal excitement, "I know her well. What of
her? Where is she? Have you found her?"
"Found her?" said the other, with surprise. "Is she not here?"
"No,--she left this morning."
"And left no word where she was going?"
"Let me beg of you not to trifle with me. Did she not hear my voice, my
step, and attempt to excuse herself through you?"
"Sir!" exclaimed Walter.
"I beg pardon. I have been in search of her for two days. I could not
believe she had eluded me just at the last. I do not wish to doubt your
"And who may you be, Sir, to take such an interest in the lady?"
"I can satisfy you fully. My name is Greenleaf."
"Yes. You must have heard her speak of me."
"Never, to my recollection."
"Have you known her long?"
"She is my cousin. It is only recently that she came here, and her
acquaintances of a year ago might naturally have been passed over."
"You seem surprised at her leaving you so abruptly. You will join me in
making search for her?"
"I shall search for her, myself, as long as there is hope."
"Let me confess," said Greenleaf, "that I have the strongest reasons for
my haste. She is betrothed to me."
"Since you have honored me with your confidence, I will return it, so
far as to tell you what I heard from her this morning. I think I
can remember the precise words:--'I have received a wound from the
faithlessness of one lover, which never will heal.' If you are the
person, I hope the information will be as agreeable to you as her
absence and ill-judging independence are to me. I wish you good
"Then she has heard!" said Greenleaf, soliloquizing. "I am justly
punished." Then aloud. "I shall not take offence at your severity of
tone. I have but one thought now. Good morning!"
He left the house, like one in a dream. Alice, homeless in the
streets this bitter day,--seeking for a home in poverty-stricken
boarding-houses,--asking for work from tailors or milliners,--exposed
to jeers, coarse compliments, and even to utter want!--the thought was
agony. The sorrows of a whole life were concentrated in this one hour.
He walked on, frantically, peering under every bonnet as he passed,
looking wistfully in at the shop-windows, expecting every moment to
encounter her sad, reproachful face.
Walter had been somewhat ill for several days, and the accumulation of
misfortunes now pressed upon him heavily. He did not tell his mother
of the strange interview, but sat down moodily by the grate, in the
library. He was utterly perplexed where in the city to search for Alice;
and with his mental depression came a bodily infirmity and nervousness
that made him incapable of effort. An hour passed in gloomy
reverie,--drifting without aim upon a shoreless ocean, under a sullen
sky,--when he was roused by the entrance of Easelmann.
"In the dumps? I declare, Monroe, I shouldn't have thought it of you."
"I am really ill, my friend."
"Pooh! Don't let your troubles make you believe that. Cheer up. You'll
find employment presently, and you'll be surprised to find how well you
"I hope I shall be able to make the experiment."
"Well, suppose you walk out with me. There is a tailor I want you to
"A tailor? I can't sew or use shears, either."
"No,--nor sit cross-legged; I know that. But this tailor is no common
Snip. He is a man of ideas and character. He has something to propose to
"Indeed! I am much obliged to you. To-morrow I will go with you; but,
really, I feel too feeble to-day," said Monroe, languidly.
"Well, as you please; to-morrow it shall be. How is your mother?"
"Quite well, I thank you."
"And the pretty cousin, likewise, I hope?"
"She was quite well this morning."
"Isn't she at home?"
"No,--she has gone out."
"Confound you, Monroe! you have never let me have a glimpse of her.
Now I am not a dangerous person; quite harmless, in fact; received
trustfully by matrons with grown-up daughters. You needn't hide her."
"I don't know. Some young ladies are quite apt to be fascinated by
elderly gentlemen who know the world and still take an interest in
"Yes,--a filial sort of interest, a grand-daughterly reverence and
respect. The sight of gray hair is a wonderful antidote to any tenderer
"I am very sorry not to oblige you; but the truth is, that Cousin Alice,
hearing of my losses, has left the house abruptly, to earn her own
living, and we do not know where she has gone."
"The independent little minx! Now I rather like that. There's the proper
spirit. She'll take good care of herself; I haven't a doubt."
"But it is a most mortifying step to us. It is a reflection upon our
hospitality. I would have worked my fingers off for her."
"No doubt. But she will merely turn hers into nutmeg-graters, by
pricking them with her needle, and save you from making stumps of
your own. Oh, never fear,--we shall find her presently. I'll make
a description of her, and leave it with all the slop-shop fellows.
'Strayed or stolen: A young lady answering to the name of Alice; five
feet and no inches; dressed in black; pale, blue-eyed, smiles when
properly spoken to; of no use to any person but the owner. One thousand
dollars reward, and no questions asked.' Isn't that it? It won't be
necessary to add, that the disconsolate advertiser is breaking his heart
on account of her absence."
"My dear Easelmann, I know your kindly heart; but I cannot be rallied
out of this depression. I have only the interest of a cousin, a
friend, a protector, in the girl; but her going away, after my other
misfortunes, has plunged me into an abyss. I can't be cheerful."
"One word more, my dear fellow, and I go. You know I threatened to bore
you every day; but I sha'n't continue the terebrations long at a time.
You told me about the way your notes were disposed of. Now they are
yours, beyond question, and you can recover them from the holder; he has
no lien upon them whatever, for Sandford was not authorized to pledge
them. It's only a spoiling of the Egyptians to fleece a broker."
"Perhaps the notes themselves are worthless, or will be. Nearly
everybody has failed; the rest will go shortly."
"I see you are incurable; the melancholy fit must have its course, I
suppose. But don't hang yourself with your handkerchief, nor drown
yourself in your wash-basin. Good bye!"
On his way down Washington Street, Easelmann met his friend Greenleaf,
whom he had not seen before for many days.
"Whither, ancient mariner? That haggard face and glittering eye of yours
might hold the most resolute passer-by."
"You, Easelmann! I am glad to see you. I am in trouble."
"No doubt; enthusiastic people always are. You fretted your nurse
and your mother, your schoolmaster, your mistress, and, most of all,
yourself. A sharp sword cuts its own scabbard."
"She is gone,--left me without a word."
"Who, the Sandford woman? I always told you she would."
"No,--I left her, though not so soon as I should."
"A fine story! She jilted you."
"No,--on my honor. I'll tell you about it some other time. But Alice, my
betrothed, I have lost her forever."
"Melancholy Orpheus, how? Did you look over your shoulder, and did she
vanish into smoke?"
"It is her father who has gone over the Styx. She is in life; but she
has heard of my flirtation"--
"And served you right by leaving you. Now you will quit capering in a
lady's chamber, and go to work, a sadder and a wiser man."
"Not till I have found her. You may think me a trifler, Easelmann; but
every nerve I have is quivering with agony at the thought of the pain I
have caused her."
"Whew-w-w." said Easelmann. "Found her? Then she's eloped too! I just
left a disconsolate lover mourning over a runaway mistress. It seems to
be epidemic. There is a stampede of unhappy females. We must compress
the feet of the next generation, after the wise custom of China, so that
they can't get away."
"Whom have you seen?"
"Mr. Monroe, an acquaintance of mine."
"The same. The lady, it seems, is his cousin,--and is, or was, my
"And you two brave men give up, foiled by a country-girl of twenty, or
"How is one to find her?"
"What is the advantage of brains to a man who doesn't use them?
Consider; she will look for employment. She won't try to teach, it would
be useless. She is not strong enough for hard labor. She is too modest
and reserved to take a place in a shop behind a counter, where she would
be sure to be discovered. She will, therefore, be found in the employ
of some milliner, tailor, or bookbinder. How easy to go through those
"You give me new courage. I will get a trades-directory and begin at
"To-morrow, my friend. She hasn't got a place yet, probably."
"So much the better. I shall save her the necessity."
"Go, then," said Easelmann. "You'll be happier, I suppose, to be running
your legs off, if it is to no purpose. A lover with a new impulse is
like a rocket when the fuse is lighted; he must needs go off with a
rush, or ignobly fizz out."
"Farewell, for to-day. I'll see you to-morrow," said Greenleaf, already
some paces off.
[To be continued.]
PRAYER FOR LIFE.
Oh, let me not die young!
Full-hearted, yet without a tongue,--
Thy green earth stretched before my feet, untrod,--
Thy blue sky bending over,
As her most tender lover,
With infinite meaning in its starry eyes,
Full of thy silent majesty, O God!
And wild, weird whispers from the solemn deep
Of the Great Sea ascending, with the sweep
Of the Wind-angel's wings across the skies,
Burdened with hints of awful memories,
Whose half-guessed grandeur thrills us till we weep!--
I love thy marvellous world too well--
Its sunny nooks of hill and dell,
Its majesty of mountains, and the swell
Of volumed waters--for my heart to yearn
Away from the deep truth which veils its splendor
In beauty there less dazzling, but more tender.
With grave delight I turn
To all its glories, from the tiniest bloom
Whose hour-long life just sweetens its own tomb
As with funereal spices,
To the far stars which burn
And blossom in fire through their vast periods,--
Borne in thy palm,
Like the pale lotus in the hand of Isis,
When throned white, and calm,
In solemn conclave of the mythic gods.
Oh, let me not die young,
A brother unclaimed among
The countless millions of thy happy flock,
Whose deepest joy is to obey,
Whereby they feel the measured sway
Of thy life in them, their own living part,
Whether in centuried pulses of the rock
By slow disintegration
Ascending to its higher,
Or the quick fluttering of the Storm-god's heart,--
An instant's palpitation
Through all its arteries of fire!
One common blood runs down life's myriad veins,
From Archangelic Hierarchs who float
Broad-winged in the God-glory, to the mote
That trembles with a braided dance
In the warm sunset's vivid glance;
And one great Heart that boundless flow sustains!
In all the creatures of thy hand divine
Thy love-light is a living guest,
Whether a petal's palm confine
Its glitter to a lily's breast,
Or in unbounded space a starry line
Stretches, till flagging Thought must droop her wing to rest.
Oh, let me not die young,
A powerless child among
The ancient grandeurs of thy awful world!
I catch some fragment of the mighty song
Which, ere to darkness hurled,
My elder brothers in the eternal throng
Have caught before,--
Faint murmurs of the surge,
The deep, surrounding, everlasting roar
Of a life-ocean without port or shore,--
Ere I depart, compelled to urge
My fragile bark with trembling from the verge
Of this Earth-island, into that Unknown,
Where worlds, like souls forlorn, go wandering alone!
Oh, let me not die young,
With all that song unsung,
A swift and voiceless fugitive,
From darkness coming and in darkness lost,
Before thy solemn Pentecost,
Dawning within the soul, shall give
The burning utterance of its flaming tongue,--
The boon whereby to other souls we live!
Thy worlds are flashing with immortal splendor,
For human speech on heights of human song
Faintly to render,
And pour back along
Its mountain grandeur, the accumulate rain
Of star-light, dream-light, thoughts of joy and pain,
Of love, hate, right and wrong,
In floods of utterance sublime and strong,
In dewy effluence beautiful and tender.
The kindred darknesses
Of caverned earth and fathomless thought,
Of Life and Death, and their twin mysteries,
Before and After, on my spirit press
Tempting and awful, with high promise fraught,
And guardian terrors, whose out-flashing swords
Beleaguer Paradise and the holy Tree
Sciential. Step by step the way is fought
That leads from Darkness, through her miscreant hordes,
Back to the heavens of wise, and true, and free:
Minerva's Gorgon, Ammon's cyclic Asp,
And the fierce flame-sword of the Cherubim,
That flashed like hate across the pallid gasp
Of exiled Eve and Adam, flare, and glare,
And hiss venenate, round the steps of him
Who thirsts for heavenly Wisdom, if he dare
Climb to her bosom, or with artless grasp
Pluck the sweet fruits that hang around him, ripe and fair.
Oh! glorious Youth
Is the true age of prophecy, when Truth
Stands bared in beauty, and the young blood boils
To hurl us in her arms, before the blur
Of time makes dim her rounded form,
Or the cold blood recoils
From the polluted swarm
Of armed Chimeras that environ her.
But worthy Age to ripened fruit shall bring
The glorious blooming of its hopeful spring,
And pile the garners of immortal Truth
With sheaves of golden grain,
To sow the world again,
And fill the eager wants of the New Age's youth.
A thousand flashes of uncertain light
Cleave the thick darkness, driving far athwart
The up-piled glooms, as lightnings plough their bright
Fire-furrows through the barren cloud
They sow with thunders. Thought on burning thought
Shatters the doubts and terrors which have bowed
Weak hearts on weaker leaning in a crowd
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