Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 3, No. 18, April, 1859
Part 4 out of 5
It may be well to pause here and estimate its precise results. It had
secured delay. The herds on Henry's Fork had thriven better than was
expected, and toward the close of April the number of mules in working
condition was sufficient to have dragged a train of two hundred wagons.
The dragoon-horses which survived could have been assigned to the
artillery-batteries, and the regiment have served as infantry. With this
equipment, slight though it may appear, a rapid movement upon the Valley
was possible; and whatever may have been the opinion during the previous
autumn, it was the universal opinion in the spring that the force at
Camp Scott could have routed any body of militia that might have opposed
its advance, although, perhaps, it was not sufficient to subjugate the
Territory, in case the Mormons should flee to the mountains. Provisions,
also, were running low in the camp. The ration of flour had been further
reduced. All the cattle had been slaughtered, and there was every
prospect of recourse to mule-meat before the first of June. Everything,
therefore, favored the plan of an early march toward the city; and it
is certain that it would have been commenced without awaiting
reinforcements from the States, had not the Governor's scheme for
pacification intervened. Distrustful of its expediency or propriety
though General Johnston might have been, he deemed it his duty to await
its result. Neither he nor the Governor being supreme in the direction
of affairs, it was the duty of each to defer so far as might be to the
action of the other.
In the next place, Mr. Kane's interposition had produced an
irreconcilable difference of opinion between the civil and the military
authority. This is evident from what has already been stated, and there
is no need to confirm the fact by argument. The Governor returned to
Fort Bridger in May, believing the Mormons to be an injured people,
whose cause was in the main just. But his position was full of
difficulties. He had been recognized in his official character, it is
true; but he was conscious that every Mormon acknowledged a political
influence superior to his own, which was directing the emigration
southward, and leaving him Governor of empty villages and deserted
fields. The only hope he entertained of checking this exodus was by
quashing the indictments for treason which had been found against the
Mormon leaders, and by insuring them against contact with the troops.
The first he was powerless to effect; it was a matter beyond his
control,--solely within the cognizance of the courts. The second he
had assumed to be within his power, and had so assured the Mormons; but
there he was at variance with General Johnston, who denied his claim to
absolute authority over the movements of the army.
Unknown, however, to the parties who were agitating these perplexing
questions, a superior power had already intervened and solved
the difficulty. On the 6th of April, the President had signed a
Proclamation, at Washington, rehearsing to the people of Utah Territory,
at considerable length, their past offences, and particularly those
which immediately preceded and followed the outbreak of the rebellion,
and declaring them traitors; but, "in order to save the effusion of
blood, and to avoid the indiscriminate punishment of a whole people
for crimes of which it is not probable that all are equally guilty,"
offering "a free and full pardon to all who will submit themselves to
the authority of the Federal Government." This document was intrusted
to two Commissioners for conveyance to the Territory;--one of them, Mr.
L.W. Powell, lately Governor, and at the time Senator-elect, of the
State of Kentucky; the other, Major Ben M'Culloch, of Texas, who had
served with distinction in Mexico. In their appointment, Mr. Buchanan
imitated the example of President Washington, who designated a similar
commission to convey his proclamation to the whiskey-insurgents in
The reinforcements and supply-trains for the army were at this time
concentrating at Fort Leavenworth, Major-General Persifer F. Smith was
assigned to the command-in-chief, and it was intended that the whole
force, after concentration in Utah, should be divided into two brigades,
one to be commanded by General Harney, the other by General Johnston.
Leaving the columns preparing to advance over the Plains, the
Commissioners started from the Fort on the 25th of April. On the same
day, Lieutenant-Colonel Hoffmann advanced from Fort Laramie with several
companies of infantry and cavalry, escorting the supply-trains which
were parked there through the winter, and on the speedy arrival of which
at Camp Scott the subsistence of General Johnston's command depended,
unless it should force its way into the Valley. On the 1st of May, he
had reached La Bonte, a tributary of the North Platte, fifty miles from
the Fort. There he encountered the severest storm that had occurred in
that region for many years. The snow fell breast-deep, and was followed
by a pelting rain which killed his mules by scores. He was forced to
remain stationary more than a week, and when he renewed the march the
trains were clogged by mud foot-deep.
The Commissioners reached Camp Scott on the 29th of May. The President's
Proclamation had been received the day before. With the exception of a
few persons who were prepared for such a document by reflection on Mr.
Kane's mission, everybody was astonished at its purport. It seemed
incredible that a lenity should have been extended to the Mormon rebels
which was refused to the Free-State men in Kansas, who were once
indicted for treason and sedition,--and equally incredible that all the
advantages for the solution of the Utah problem which had been gained by
the rising of the Mormons in arms should be thrown away. There was none
of the bloodthirsty excitement in the camp which was reported in the
States to have prevailed there, but there was a feeling of infinite
chagrin, a consciousness that the expedition was only a pawn on Mr.
Buchanan's political chess-board; and reproaches against his folly were
as frequent as they were vehement. Had he excepted from the amnesty the
Mormon leaders, who alone had been indicted, the Proclamation might have
been considered an act of judicious clemency; for that exception would
have accomplished every object that could be desired. As it was, it
annihilated all that had been gained by the enormous expenditures and
the toils and sufferings of the past year, and it sentenced the army to
an indefinite term of imprisonment in an American Siberia. For the sake
of ridding the Administration of immediate trouble, it turned the Church
leaders loose again upon the community, purged of all offence, and
postponed to a future day a terrible issue, the ultimate avoidance of
which is impossible. "After us the deluge," was still the motto of the
President and his Cabinet.
At the camp the Commissioners remained only three days, which they
employed in obtaining accurate information concerning the transactions
of the last three months; for when they started from Missouri, no news
of the result of Mr. Kane's mission had reached the frontier.
On the 2d of June, they started for the Valley, intending to summon the
leading Mormons to an interview, and receive their formal acceptance of
the terms of the Proclamation,--of which, of course, there could be no
doubt. They were accompanied by the postmaster of Salt Lake City, with
the mails for the Mormons, which had been detained at the camp since the
commencement of the rebellion. The Governor and the Superintendent of
Indian Affairs followed them the next day. The rest of the Federal
officers refused to join the party, or to make any movement based on a
supposed capitulation of the Mormons, until their submission should be
perfected. There were many circumstances attending the departure of
the Governor which showed that he was doubtful of the stability of the
positions he had been led by Mr. Kane to assume. He expressed himself
distrustful of the cooperation of the Commissioners in his plan for
pacifying the Territory; and he protested vehemently against allowing
persons to accompany the party in order to report for the press the
proceedings at the expected conferences. Every day made it more and more
evident that he had committed himself to the Mormons farther than he
cared to acknowledge.
Before the Commissioners left the camp, they urged General Johnston not
to delay the advance of the army one moment beyond the time when he
should be ready and desire to march. On the 8th of June, Captain Marcy
arrived at the Fort with a herd of nearly fifteen hundred mules and
horses, and an escort of five companies of infantry and mounted
riflemen. He left the village of Rayado, on the Canadian River, in
New Mexico, on the 17th of March, and, instead of retracing the route
pursued on his winter journey, which had led him near the sources of
Grand River, one of the great forks of the Colorado, he returned along
the eastern base of the Rocky Mountain range past Long's and Pike's
Peaks. When he had reached Fontaine-qui-bouille Creek, an express
overtook him from General Garland, who commanded the Department of New
Mexico, enjoining him to halt and await reinforcements. There he camped
more than three weeks. Renewing his progress, he was overtaken, on
the 29th of April, by the same snowstorm which was so disastrous to
Lieutenant-Colonel Hoffmann on La Bonte. It was accompanied by a furious
wind, the force of which there was nothing to break. Snow fell to the
depth of three feet, and, at the very height of the storm, a part of the
mule herd stampeded and ran fifty miles before the wind, for shelter.
When the march was resumed, after an interval of several days, hundreds
of antelopes were found frozen and buried in the drifts,--a circumstance
almost unparalleled among the mountains. With this exception, nothing
occurred to obstruct the march. Captain Marcy brought with him specimens
of sand from many of the tributaries of the South Platte, which were
found, on analysis, to contain particles of gold; and within two months
after he gathered them, the same discovery, confirmed by others,
originated the emigration to that region, the progress of which now
promises the speedy birth of another Free State in the very heart of the
continent. On the 9th and 10th, Colonel Hoffmann reached the camp with
all his supply-trains; and on the following day, General Johnston issued
the welcome order to prepare for the march to Salt Lake City. A strong
detachment of infantry and artillery was detailed to garrison Fort
On the 13th of June, the long camp was broken up, and the army moved
forward in three columns on the route through the canons. Although the
season was so far advanced, snow had fallen at the Fort only three days
before. The streams were swollen and turbulent with spring floods,
and difficulty was anticipated in crossing the Bear and Weber Rivers.
Material for bridging had, therefore, been prepared, and accompanied the
first column. Southwest of the Fort, at the distance of four or five
miles, a singular _butte_, the top of which is as level as the floor of
a ball-room, rises to the height of eight hundred feet above the valley
of Black's Fork, and commands a view of the entire broad plateau between
the Wind River and the Uinta and Wahsatch Ranges. Little parties of
horsemen could be seen spurring up the gullies on its almost precipitous
sides, to witness from its summit the departure of the army. The scene
was in the highest degree picturesque. Almost at their feet lay the
camp, the few tents which remained unstruck glittering like bright dots
on the wing of an insect, the whitewashed wall of the Fort reflecting
the sunshine, while stacks of turf chimneys, lodge-poles, and rubbish
marked the spots where the encampment had been abandoned. The whole
valley was in commotion. Along the strips of road were winding clumsy
baggage-trains; the regiment of dragoons was trailing in advance; the
gleam of the musket-barrels of the infantry was visible on all sides;
and every puff of the breeze that blew over the bluff was freighted with
the rumble of artillery-carriages and caissons. Here and there were
groups of half-naked Indians galloping to and fro, with fluttering
blankets, gazing at the show with the curiosity and delight of children.
The traveller who terminates his westward journey at Fort Bridger has
entered only the portal of the Rocky Mountains. Along the interval
between there and the Valley of the Great Lake, there is a panorama of
mountain-scenery that cannot be surpassed in the Tyrol. For miles and
miles in the gorges, at the season of the year when they were traversed
by the army, the road winds through thickets of alders and willows and
hawthorn-bushes, whose branches interlace and hang so low, under their
load of leaves and blossoms, as to sweep the backs of horsemen. Through
the interstices of the foliage, the sandstone cliffs that bound the
canons are seen surrounded by flocks of twittering birds which build
their nests in the crevices of the rock. The ridges which the road
surmounts between canon and canon are covered with fields of luxuriant
grass and flowers, in the midst of which patches of snow still linger.
From them, in the clear noon sunshine, the broken line of the Wahsatch
and Uinta Ranges is visible along the horizon; but through the morning
and evening haze, only the tracery of their white crests can be
discerned. The valleys of the Bear and Weber Rivers are peculiarly
beautiful, the latter almost realizing the dream of the Valley of
Rasselas. Corrugated and snow-capped ridges slope backward from the
spectator, on whichever side he turns, until he wonders how and where
the swift river, rushing under its canopy of rustling cotton-woods,
finds a pathway through them.
It was into scenery like this that the troops advanced, speculating,
along each day's march, upon what obstacles they would have encountered,
had they attempted to reach the Valley during the winter. On the 14th,
an express from the Commissioners arrived at the camp on Bear River,
announcing that no resistance would be made by the Mormons, who pledged
themselves to submit to Federal authority. It was suggested, at the same
time, to General Johnston, that they apprehended ill-treatment from the
army, which might feel an exasperation natural after the privations to
which it had been subjected during the winter. To reassure them,
the General immediately issued and forwarded to Salt Lake City a
proclamation, informing them that no one should be "molested in his
person or rights, or in the peaceful pursuit of his avocations." On
the same day, Governor Cumming issued a proclamation announcing the
"restoration of peace to the Territory."
The Commissioners had reached the city on the 7th. They were received
there by the Mormon officers who commanded the few companies of militia
which constituted the garrison, and were conducted to a restaurant,
where meals were provided for them, but no lodgings; and accordingly
they slept in their ambulances. The place was deserted by everybody
except the garrison and a few individuals who were busily removing their
property. Besides these, the only beings visible in the streets were
here and there groups of half-naked Indian boys paddling in the gutters.
Almost the only sound audible was the gurgling of the City Creek.
Through the chinks of the heavy wooden portal of the Temple square,
workmen were to be seen engaged in demolishing the roofs of the
buildings within the inclosure. Over the windows of all the houses
boards were nailed; the doors were locked; the gates closed; and in many
of the gardens, crops of weeds were beginning to choke the flower-beds.
From some of the houses of the more enthusiastic Saints all the
wood-work was removed, leaving nothing standing except the bare _adobe_
walls, while a few had been burned to the ground. In front of the
tithing-office, a train of wagons was loading with grain for removal to
The Governor arrived on the 8th, and was conducted at once to the
quarters he had occupied on his previous visit. The next day, he,
together with the Commissioners, held an interview with the two
messengers who had been sent up from Provo by Brigham Young. They
returned to Lake Utah that same night, and on the 10th, about noon,
Young, Kimball, and Wells, together with the Twelve Apostles, and twenty
or thirty Bishops, High Priests, and Elders, embracing almost all the
influential characters in the Church, rode into the city. Brigham's
mansion was thrown open and the party dined there. They called
afterwards in a body upon the Governor and the Commissioners, and made
arrangements for a conference on the following day.
The President's pardon had reached the Mormon settlements along Lake
Utah on the 6th, and the manner in which it was received by the populace
showed that they were not satisfied with the position of their
leaders. It was read from the steps of the tithing-offices, and at the
street-corners, to crowds who denounced in the fiercest language the
recital of facts set forth in its preamble. The excitement, which had
been steadily fostered by Young and Kimball ever since the commencement
of the rebellion, had amounted to a frenzy which no authority less
potent than such a hierarchy as theirs could possibly have controlled.
Nevertheless, the morning Brigham rode into Salt Lake City, the
capitulation had been preordained.
The conferences lasted through the 11th and 12th, the inflexibility of
the Commissioners securing decency of language from the Mormons, if not
decency of demeanor. All the participants, including Young himself,
expressed their sentiments in turn. The opening speech was made by one
of the Apostles, named Erastus Snow, who forgot for the moment that he
was not addressing a congregation of his brethren on a Sunday morning,
and indulged in a strain of obscene and profane remark which was checked
at once by Senator Powell. Some of the speakers broke into savage
tirades like those with which Governor Cumming was once greeted in the
Tabernacle; but these were checked by Young. There were two subjects on
which the Mormon leaders were particularly anxious, all fear of their
own trial for treason being removed. They dreaded that the army should
be quartered upon their settlements, and that the policy inaugurated
by Judge Eckels in his recent charge to the grand jury at Fort Bridger
should be pursued against polygamy. No assurances were given by the
Commissioners upon either of these subjects. They limited their action
to tendering the President's pardon, and exhorting the Mormons to accept
it. Outside the conferences, however, without the knowledge of the
Commissioners, assurances were given on both these subjects by the
Governor and the Superintendent of Indian Affairs, which proved
satisfactory to Brigham Young. The exact nature of their pledges will,
perhaps, never be disclosed; but from subsequent confessions volunteered
by the Superintendent, who appears to have acted as a tool of the
Governor through the whole affair, it seems probable that they promised
explicitly to exert their influence to quarter the army in Cache Valley,
nearly a hundred miles north of Salt Lake City, and also to procure the
removal of Judge Eckels. The news of the issue of the order for the
advance of the army reached the city on the 12th, and accelerated the
result of the conferences, which concluded that evening with a pledge on
the part of Young and his associates to submit unconditionally to
the Federal authority. During the next few days, the Commissioners,
accompanied by the Governor, travelled southward, and addressed large
audiences at Provo and Lehi, specially exhorting the people to return to
their homes in the northern settlements, assuring them that the troubles
were ended, and that they need fear no molestation of person or
Whether all these proceedings--which were legitimate results of Mr.
Buchanan's policy--were consistent with the honor of the country, the
public can judge for themselves. The Commissioners certainly conducted
themselves with dignity and credit; but it is doubtful whether they ever
would have accepted their appointment, had they anticipated the nature
of the duties they would be required to perform.
The army moved slowly forward during the progress of these negotiations.
In Echo Canon, it had an opportunity to inspect the bugbear of the
previous autumn,--the Mormon fortifications. As the canon--which is more
than twenty miles long--approaches the Weber River, it dwindles in
width from five or six hundred yards to as many feet. Its northern side
becomes a perfect wall of rock, which rises perpendicularly to the
height of several hundred feet above the road. The southern side retains
the character of a steep mountain-slope covered with grass and stunted
bushes. Echo Creek, a narrow streamlet, with its dense fringe of
willows, fills the whole bottom between the road and the bluffs. The
first indication of approach to the fortifications was the sight of
piles of stones heaped into walls four or five feet high, pierced with
loopholes, and visible on every projecting point of the cliffs along the
northern side, from most of which a pebble could be snapped down upon
the road. Just beyond, after turning a bend in the canon, all the
willows along the creek had been cut away, and through the cleared space
a ditch five or six feet wide and ten feet deep was dug across the
bottom. The dirt thrown from it was packed so as to form an embankment,
on which logs were so arranged that it would answer for a breastwork,
behind which riflemen could be posted under cover. At intervals of about
a hundred yards were two similar lines of ditch and breastwork, by the
first of which the road was forced to skirt the very base of a cliff
which had probably been mined. The other line was constructed just above
the mouths of two narrow gorges which enter the canon, nearly opposite
one another, from the north and south. By the aid of these dams the
canon might possibly have been overflowed for half a mile to the depth
of several feet, but the water would have accumulated slowly on account
of the insignificant size of the creek. Several dirt walls stretched
also across the gorges, commanding the whole of the fortifications
below. This whole system of defences possessed as little strength as
merit. It served only to confirm the impression, which by this time had
become general, that the capacity of the Mormons to resist the army had
been greatly overrated, and that a vigorous effort to penetrate to the
Valley early in the spring would inevitably have succeeded.
For nearly a mile beyond the two gorges, a chain of low hills, over
which the road runs, extends below the loftier summits on the southern
side of the canon. The northern side becomes, in consequence, a deep
glen, as the cliffs which form its wall rise abruptly from the level of
the creek. This glen is filled with bushes, and in it, thus protected
from the wind, the Mormon militia had their winter-quarters. The huts
they occupied had been constructed by digging circular holes in the
ground, over which were piled boughs in the same manner as the poles of
an Indian lodge. Around these boughs willow-twigs were plaited, and the
entire hut was finally thatched with straw, grass, or bark. Many of
them had chimneys built of sod and stones, like those which had been
improvised at Camp Scott. An open spot, a few hundred feet below the
beginning of the glen, was the site of the head-quarters of the command.
Here the huts were built around a square, in the centre of which was
planted a tall pine flag-pole. The scenery at this point is exceedingly
picturesque. Out of a tangle of willows, alders, hawthorn, and wild
cherry-trees spring the bold sandstone cliffs, in every crevice of which
cedars and fir-trees cling to the jagged points of rock. On the other
side of the canon a sheet of rich verdure, all summer long, rolls up
the mountain to its very summit. Down the glen ripples the little creek
underneath an arch of fragrant shrubs twined with the slender tendrils
of wild hop-vines. The whole number of huts was about one hundred and
fifty, and they could accommodate, on an average, fifteen men apiece.
The troops did not emerge from Emigration Canon into the Salt Lake
Valley until the morning of the 26th. In the mean while, thirty or forty
civilians had reached the city from the camp, and were quartered, like
the Commissioners, in their own vehicles. The Mormons favored no one,
except the Governor and his intimate associates, with any species of
accommodation. Their demeanor was in every respect like that of a
conquered people toward foreign invaders. During the week preceding the
26th, two or three hundred of those on Lake Utah received permission
to go up to the city, and they alone, of the whole Mormon community,
witnessed the ingress of the army.
It was one of the most extraordinary scenes that have occurred in
American history. All day long, from dawn till after sunset, the troops
and trains poured through the city, the utter silence of the streets
being broken only by the music of the military bands, the monotonous
tramp of the regiments, and the rattle of the baggage-wagons. Early in
the morning, the Mormon guard had forced all their fellow-religionists
into the houses, and ordered them not to make their appearance during
the day. The numerous flags, which had been flying from staffs on the
public buildings during the previous week, were all struck. The only
visible groups of spectators were on the corners near Brigham Young's
residence, and consisted almost entirely of Gentile civilians. The
stillness was so profound, that, during the intervals between the
passage of the columns, the monotonous gurgle of the city-creek struck
on every ear. The Commissioners rode with the General's staff. The
troops crossed the Jordan and encamped two miles from the city on a
dusty meadow by the river-bank.
The orders under which General Johnston was acting directed him to
establish not more than three military posts within the Territory. One
of these was already fixed at Fort Bridger, and the question where the
others should be located was now no less important to the Mormons
than to the army. The secret of the success of Mormonism is its
exclusiveness, and of this fact the leaders of the sect are fully aware.
Accordingly, they now put forth most strenuous efforts to secure the
removal of the troops to as great a distance as possible from their
settlements. But, wholly without regard to any understanding which they
might have had with the Governor, General Johnston, after a careful
_reconnaissance_, selected Cedar Valley, on the western rim of Lake
Utah, separated from it only by a range of bluffs,--about equidistant
from Salt Lake City and Provo,--for his permanent camp. The army moved
southward from the city on the 29th, but so slowly that it did not reach
the Valley till the 6th of July. Not a field was encroached upon, not a
house molested, not a person harmed or insulted, by troops that had been
so harassed and vituperated by a people now entirely at their mercy. By
their strict subordination they entitled themselves to the respect of
the country as well as to the gratitude of the Mormons.
[To be continued.]
OUR SKATER BELLE.
Along the frozen lake she comes
In linking crescents, light and fleet;
The ice-imprisoned Undine hums
A welcome to her little feet.
I see the jaunty hat, the plume
Swerve bird-like in the joyous gale,--
The cheeks lit up to burning bloom,
The young eyes sparkling through the veil.
The quick breath parts her laughing lips,
The white neck shines through tossing curls;
Her vesture gently sways and dips,
As on she speeds in shell-like whorls.
Men stop and smile to see her go;
They gaze, they smile in pleased surprise;
They ask her name; they long to show
Some silent friendship in their eyes.
She glances not; she passes on;
Her steely footfall quicker rings;
She guesses not the benison
Which follows her on noiseless wings.
Smooth be her ways, secure her tread
Along the devious lines of life,
From grace to grace successive led,
A noble maiden, nobler wife!
THE PROFESSOR AT THE BREAKFAST-TABLE.
WHAT HE SAID, WHAT HE HEARD, AND WHAT HE SAW.
I don't know whether our literary or professional people are more
amiable than they are in other places, but certainly quarrelling is out
of fashion among them. This could never be, if they were in the habit of
secret anonymous puffing of each other. That is the kind of underground
machinery, which manufactures false reputations and genuine hatreds. On
the other hand, I should like to know if we are not at liberty to have
a good time together, and say the pleasantest things we can think of to
each other, when any of us reaches his thirtieth or fortieth or fiftieth
or eightieth birthday.
We don't have "scenes," I warrant you, on these occasions. No "surprise"
parties! You understand these, of course. In the rural districts, where
scenic tragedy and melodrama cannot be had, as in the city, at the
expense of a quarter and a white pocket-handkerchief, emotional
excitement has to be sought in the dramas of real life. Christenings,
weddings, and funerals, especially the latter, are the main dependence;
but babies, brides, and deceased citizens cannot be had at a day's
notice. Now, then, for a surprise-party!
A bag of flour, a barrel of potatoes, some strings of onions, a basket
of apples, a big cake and many little cakes, a jug of lemonade, a purse
stuffed with bills of the more modest denominations, may, perhaps,
do well enough for the properties in one of these private theatrical
exhibitions. The minister of the parish, a tender-hearted, quiet,
hard-working man, living on a small salary, with many children,
sometimes pinched to feed and clothe them, praying fervently every day
to be blest in his "basket and store," but sometimes fearing he asks
amiss, to judge by the small returns, has the first _role_,--not,
however, by his own choice, but forced upon him. The minister's wife, a
sharp-eyed, unsentimental body, is first lady; the remaining parts by
the rest of the family. If they only had a play-bill, it would run
ON TUESDAY NEXT
WILL BE PRESENTED
THE AFFECTING SCENE
THE OVERCOME FAMILY;
WITH THE FOLLOWING STRONG CAST OF CHARACTERS:
_The Rev. Mr. Overcame_, by the Clergyman of this Parish.
_Mrs. Overcome_, by his estimable lady.
_Mastery Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John Overcome_.
_Misses Dorcas, Tabitha, Rachel, and Hannah Overcome_, by their
_Peggy_, by the female help.
The poor man is really grateful;--it is a most welcome and unexpected
relief. He tries to express his thanks,--his voice falters,--he
chokes,--and bursts into tears. _That_ is the great effect of the
evening. The sharp-sighted lady cries a little with one eye, and counts
the strings of onions, and the rest of the things, with the other. The
children stand ready for a spring at the apples. The female help weeps
after the noisy fashion of untutored handmaids.
Now this is all very well as charity, but do let the kind visitors
remember they get their money's worth. If you pay a quarter for _dry
crying_, done by a second-rate actor, how much ought you to pay for real
hot, wet tears, out of the honest eyes of a gentleman who is not acting,
but sobbing in earnest?
All I meant to say, when I began, was, that this was _not_ a
surprise-party where I read these few lines that follow:--
We will not speak of years to-night;
For what have years to bring,
But larger floods of love and light
And sweeter songs to sing?
We will not drown in wordy praise
The kindly thoughts that rise;
If friendship owns one tender phrase,
He reads it in our eyes.
We need not waste our schoolboy art
To gild this notch of time;
Forgive me, if my wayward heart
Has throbbed in artless rhyme.
Enough for him the silent grasp
That knits us hand in hand,
And he the bracelet's radiant clasp
That locks our circling band.
Strength to his hours of manly toil!
Peace to his starlit dreams!
Who loves alike the furrowed soil,
The music-haunted streams!
Sweet smiles to keep forever bright
The sunshine on his lips,
And faith, that sees the ring of light
Round Nature's last eclipse!
----One of our boarders has been talking in such strong language that I
am almost afraid to report it. However, as he seems to be really honest
and is so very sincere in his local prejudices, I don't believe anybody
will be very angry with him.
It is here, Sir! right here!--said the little deformed gentleman,--in
this old new city of Boston,--this remote provincial corner of a
provincial nation, that the Battle of the Standard is fighting, and was
fighting before we were born, and will be fighting when we are dead
and gone,--please God! The _battle_ goes on everywhere throughout
civilization; but here, here, here! is the broad white flag flying which
proclaims, first of all, peace and good-will to men, and, next to
that, the absolute, unconditional spiritual liberty of each individual
immortal soul! The three-hilled city against the seven-hilled-city! That
is it, Sir,--nothing less than that; and if you know what that means, I
don't think you'll ask for anything more. I swear to you, Sir, I believe
that these two centres of civilization are just exactly the two points
that close the circuit in the battery of our planetary intelligence! And
I believe there are spiritual eyes looking out from Uranus and unseen
Neptune,--ay, Sir, from the systems of Sirius and Arcturus and
Aldebaran, and as far as that faint stain of sprinkled worlds confluent
in the distance that we call the nebula of Orion,--looking on, Sir, with
what organs I know not, to see which are going to melt in that fiery
fusion, the accidents and hindrances of humanity or man himself,
Sir,--the stupendous abortion, the illustrious failure that he is,
if the three-hilled city does not ride down and trample out the
----Steam's up!--said the young man John, so called, in a low
tone.--Three hundred and sixty-five tons to the square inch. Let him
blow her off, or he'll bu'st his b'iler.
The divinity-student took it calmly, only whispering that he thought
there was a little confusion of images between a galvanic battery and a
charge of cavalry.
But the Koh-i-noor--the gentleman, you remember, with a very large
_diamond_ in his shirt-front--laughed his scornful laugh, and made as if
Sail in, Metropolis!--said that same young man John, by name. And then,
in a lower tone, not meaning to be heard,--Now, then, Ma'am Allen!
But he _was_ heard,--and the Koh-i-noor's face turned so white with
rage, that his blue-black moustache and beard looked fearful, seen
against it. He grinned with wrath, and caught at a tumbler, as if
he would have thrown it or its contents at the speaker. The young
Marylander fixed his clear, steady eye upon him, and laid his hand on
his arm, carelessly almost, but the Jewel found it was held so that he
could not move it. It was of no use. The youth was his master in muscle,
and in that deadly Indian hug in which men wrestle with their eyes;
--over in five seconds, but breaks one of their two backs, and is good
for three-score years and ten;--one trial enough,--settles the whole
matter,--just as when two feathered songsters of the barnyard, game and
dunghill, come together,--after a jump or two at each other, and a few
sharp kicks, there is the end of it; and it is, _Apres vous, Monsieur_,
in all the social relations with the beaten party for all the rest of
I cannot philosophically account for the Koh-i-noor's wrath. For though
a cosmetic is sold, bearing the name of the lady to whom reference
was made by the young person John, yet, as it is publicly asserted in
respectable prints that this cosmetic is _not a dye_, I see no reason
why he should have felt offended by any suggestion that he was indebted
to it or its authoress. I have no doubt that there are certain
exceptional complexions to which the purple tinge, above alluded to, is
natural. Nature is fertile in variety. I saw an albiness in London once,
for six-pence, (including the inspection of a stuffed boa-constrictor,)
who looked as if she had been boiled in milk. A young Hottentot of my
acquaintance had his hair all in little pellets of the size of marrowfat
peas. One of my own classmates has undergone a singular change of late
years,--his hair losing its original tint, and getting a remarkable
discolored look; and another has ceased to cultivate any hair at all
over the vertex or crown of the head. So I am perfectly willing to
believe that the purple-black of the Koh-i-noor's moustache and whiskers
is constitutional and not pigmentary. But I can't think why he got so
The intelligent reader will understand that all this pantomime of the
threatened onslaught and its suppression passed so quickly that it was
all over by the time the other end of the table found out there was a
disturbance; just as a man chopping wood half a mile off may be seen
resting on his axe at the instant you hear the last blow he struck. So
you will please to observe that the Little Gentleman was not interrupted
during the time implied by these _ex-post-facto_ remarks of mine, but
for some ten or fifteen seconds only.
He did not seem to mind the interruption at all, for he started again.
The "Sir" of his harangue was no doubt addressed to myself more than
anybody else, but he often uses it in discourse as if he were talking
with some imaginary opponent.
----America, Sir,--he exclaimed,--is the only place where man is
He straightened himself up, as he spoke, standing on the top round of
his high chair, I suppose, and so presented the larger part of his
little figure to the view of the boarders.
It was next to impossible to keep from laughing. The commentary was so
strange an illustration of the text!
I thought it was time to put in a word; for I have lived in foreign
parts, and am more or less cosmopolitan.
I doubt if we have more practical freedom in America than they have in
England,--I said.--An Englishman thinks as he likes in religion and
politics. Mr. Martineau speculates as freely as ever Dr. Channing did,
and Mr. Bright is as independent as Mr. Seward.
Sir,--said he,--it isn't what a man thinks or says, but when and where
and to whom he thinks and says it. A man with a flint and steel striking
sparks over a wet blanket is one thing, and striking them over a
tinder-box is another. The free Englishman is born under protest; he
lives and dies under protest,--a tolerated, but not a welcome fact. Is
not _free-thinker_ a term of reproach in England? The same idea in
the soul of an Englishman who struggled up to it and still holds it
_antagonistically_, and in the soul of an American to whom it is
congenital and spontaneous, and often unrecognized, except as an element
blended with _all_ his thoughts, a natural movement, like the drawing of
his breath or the beating of his heart, is a very different thing. You
may teach a quadruped to walk on his hind legs, but he is always wanting
to be on all-fours. Nothing that can be taught a growing youth is like
the atmospheric knowledge he breathes from his infancy upwards. The
American baby sucks in freedom with the milk of the breast at which he
----That's a good joke,--said the young fellow John,--considerin' it
commonly belongs to a female Paddy.
I thought--I will not be certain--that Little Boston winked, as if he
had been hit somewhere,--as I have no doubt Dr. Darwin did when the
_wooden-spoon_ suggestion upset his theory about why, etc. If he winked,
however, he did not dodge.
A lively comment!--he said.--But Rome, in her great founder, sucked the
blood of empire out of the dugs of a brute, Sir! The Milesian wet-nurse
is only a convenient vessel through which the American infant gets the
life-blood of this virgin soil, Sir, that is making man over again, on
the sunset pattern! You don't think what we are doing and going to
do here. Why, Sir, while commentators are bothering themselves with
interpretation of prophecies, _we have got_ the new heavens and the new
earth over us and under us! Was there ever anything in Italy, I should
like to know, like a Boston sunset?
----This time there was a laugh, and the little man himself almost
Yes,--Boston sunsets;--perhaps they're as good in some other places,
but I know 'em best here. Anyhow, the American skies are different from
anything they see in the Old World. Yes, and the rocks are different,
and the soil is different, and everything that comes out of the soil,
from grass up to Indians, is different. And now that the provisional
races are dying out----
----What do you mean by the _provisional_ races, Sir?--said the
divinity-student, interrupting him.
Why, the aboriginal bipeds, to be sure,--he answered,--the red-crayon
sketch of humanity laid on the canvas before the colors for the real
manhood were ready.
I hope they will come to something yet,--said the divinity-student.
Irreclaimable, Sir,--irreclaimable!--said the little
gentleman.--Cheaper to breed white men than domesticate a nation of red
ones. When you can get the bitter out of the partridge's thigh, you
can make an enlightened commonwealth of Indians. A provisional race,
Sir,--nothing more. Exhaled carbonic acid for the use of vegetation,
kept down the bears and catamounts, enjoyed themselves in scalping and
being scalped, and then passed away or are passing away, according to
Well, Sir, these races dying out, the white man has to acclimate
himself. It takes him a good while; but he will come all right
by-and-by, Sir,--as sound as a woodchuck,--as sound as a musquash!
A new nursery, Sir, with Lake Superior and Huron and all the rest of
'em for wash-basins! A new race, and a whole new world for the new-born
human soul to work in! And Boston is the brain of it, and has been any
time these hundred years! That's all I claim for Boston,--that it is the
thinking centre of the continent, and therefore of the planet.
----And the grand emporium of modesty,--said the divinity-student, a
Oh, don't talk to me of modesty!--answered Little Boston,--I'm past
that! There isn't a thing that was ever said or done in Boston, from
pitching the tea overboard to the last ecclesiastical lie it tore into
tatters and flung into the dock, that wasn't thought very indelicate by
some fool or tyrant or bigot, and all the entrails of commercial
and spiritual conservatism are twisted into colics as often as this
revolutionary brain of ours has a fit of thinking come over it.--No,
Sir,--show me any other place that is, or was since the megalosaurus
has died out, where wealth and social influence are so fairly divided
between the stationary and the progressive classes! Show me any
other place where every other drawing-room is not a chamber of the
Inquisition, with papas and mammas for inquisitors,--and the cold
shoulder, instead of the "dry pan and the gradual fire," the punishment
----We think Baltimore is a pretty civilized kind of a village,--said
the young Marylander, good-naturedly.--But I suppose you can't
forgive it for always keeping a little ahead of Boston in point of
numbers,--tell the truth now. Are we not the centre of something?
Ah, indeed, to be sure you are. You are the gastronomic metropolis
of the Union. Why don't you put a canvas-back duck on the top of the
Washington column? Why don't you get that lady off from Battle Monument
and plant a terrapin in her place? Why will you ask for other glories
when you have soft crabs? No, Sir,--you live too well to think as hard
as we do in Boston. Logic comes to us with the salt-fish of Cape Ann;
rhetoric is born of the beans of Beverly; but _you_--if you open your
mouths to speak, Nature stops them with a fat oyster, or offers a slice
of the breast of your divine bird, and silences all your aspirations.
And what of Philadelphia?--said the Marylander.
Oh, Philadelphia?--Waterworks,--killed by the Croton and Cochituate;--
Ben Franklin,--borrowed from Boston;--David Rittenhouse,--made an
orrery;--Benjamin Rush,--made a medical system:--both interesting to
antiquarians;--great Red-river raft of medical students,--spontaneous
generation of professors to match;--more widely known through the
Moyamensing hose-company, and the Wistar parties;--for geological
section of social strata, go to _The Club_.--Good place to live
in,--first-rate market,--tip-top peaches.--What do we know about
Philadelphia, except that the engine-companies are always shooting each
And what do you say to Ne' York?--asked the Koh-i-noor?
A great city, Sir,--replied Little Boston,--a very opulent, splendid
city. A point of transit of much that is remarkable, and of permanence
for much that is respectable. A great money-centre. San Francisco with
the mines above-ground,--and some of 'em under the sidewalks. I have
seen next to nothing _grandiose_, out of New York, in all our cities. It
makes 'em all look paltry and petty. Has many elements of civilization.
May stop where Venice did, though, for aught we know.--The order of its
development is just this:--Wealth; architecture; upholstery; painting;
sculpture. Printing, as a mechanical art,--just as Nicholas Jenson
and the Aldi, who were scholars too, made Venice renowned for it.
Journalism, which is the accident of business and crowded populations,
in great perfection. Venice got as far as Titian and Paul Veronese
and Tintoretto,--great colorists, mark you, magnificent on the
flesh-and-blood side of Art,--but look over to Florence and see who lie
in Santa Croce, and ask out of whose loins Dante sprung!
Oh, yes, to be sure, Venice built her Ducal Palace, and her Church of
St. Mark, and her Casa d' Oro, and the rest of her golden houses; and
Venice had great pictures and good music; and Venice had a Golden Book,
in which all the large tax-payers had their names written;--but all
that did not make Venice the brain of Italy.
I tell you what, Sir,--with all these magnificent appliances of
civilization, it is time we began to hear something from the _jeunesse
doree_ whose names are on the Golden Book of our sumptuous,
splendid, marble-palaced Venice,--something in the higher walks of
literature,--something in the councils of the nation. Plenty of Art, I
grant you, Sir; now, then, for vast libraries, and for mighty scholars
and thinkers and statesmen,--five for every Boston one, as the
population is to ours,--_ten_ to one more properly, in virtue of
centralizing attraction as _the_ alleged metropolis,--and not call our
people provincials, and have to come begging to us to write the lives of
Hendrik Hudson and Gouverneur Morris!
----The little gentleman was on his hobby, exalting his own city at the
expense of every other place. I don't suppose he had been in either of
the cities he had been talking about. I was just going to say something
to sober him down, if I could, when the young Marylander spoke up.
Come, now,--he said,--what's the use of these comparisons? Didn't I
hear this gentleman saying, the other day, that every American owns all
America? If you have really got more brains in Boston than other folks,
as you seem to think, who hates you for it, except a pack of scribbling
fools? If I like Broadway better than Washington Street, what then? I
own them both, as much as anybody owns either. I am an American,--and
wherever I look up and see the stars and stripes overhead, that is home
He spoke, and looked up as if he heard the emblazoned folds crackling
over him in the breeze. We all looked up involuntarily, as if we should
see the national flag by so doing. The sight of the dingy ceiling and
the gas-fixture depending therefrom dispelled the illusion.
Bravo! bravo!--said the venerable gentleman on the other side of the
table.--Those are the sentiments of Washington's Farewell Address.
Nothing better than that since the last chapter in Revelations.
Five-and-forty years ago there used to be Washington societies, and
little boys used to walk in processions, each little boy having a copy
of the Address, bound in red, hung round his neck by a ribbon. Why don't
they now? Why don't they now? I saw enough of hating each other in the
old Federal times; now let's love each other, I say,--let's love each
other, and not try to make it out that there isn't any place fit to live
in except the one we happen to be born in.
It dwarfs the mind, I think,--said I,--to feed it on any localism. The
full stature of manhood is shrivelled----
The color burst up into my cheeks. What was I saying,--I, who would not
for the world have pained our unfortunate little boarder by an allusion?
I will go,--he said,--and made a movement with his left arm to let
himself down from his high chair.
No,--no,--he doesn't mean it,--you must not go,--said a kind voice next
him; and a soft, white hand was laid upon his arm.
Iris, my dear!--exclaimed another voice, as of a female, in accents that
might be considered a strong atmospheric solution of duty with very
little flavor of grace.
She did not move for this address, and there was a _tableau_ that lasted
some seconds. For the young girl, in the glory of half-blown womanhood,
and the dwarf, the cripple, the misshapen little creature covered with
Nature's insults, looked straight into each other's eyes.
Perhaps no handsome young woman had ever looked at him so in his life.
Certainly the young girl never had looked into eyes that reached
into her soul as these did. It was not that they were in themselves
supernaturally bright,--but there was the sad fire in them that flames
up from the soul of one who looks on the beauty of woman without hope,
but, alas! not without emotion. To him it seemed as if those amber gates
had been translucent as the brown water of a mountain-brook, and through
them he had seen dimly into a virgin wilderness, only waiting for the
sunrise of a great passion for all its buds to blow and all its bowers
to ring with melody.
That is my image, of course,--not his. It was not a simile that was
in his mind, or is in anybody's at such a moment,--it was a pang of
wordless passion, and then a silent, inward moan.
A lady's wish,--he said, with a certain gallantry of manner,--makes
slaves of us all.--And Nature, who is kind to all her children, and
never leaves the smallest and saddest of all her human failures without
one little comfit of self-love at the bottom of his poor ragged
pocket,--Nature suggested to him that he had turned his sentence well;
and he fell into a reverie, in which the old thoughts that were always
hovering just outside the doors guarded by Common Sense, and watching
for a chance to squeeze in, knowing perfectly well they would be
ignominiously kicked out again as soon as Common Sense saw them, flocked
in pellmell,--misty, fragmentary, vague, half-ashamed of themselves, but
still shouldering up against his inner consciousness till it warmed with
their contact:--John Wilkes's--the ugliest man's in England--saying,
that with half-an-hour's start he would cut out the handsomest man
in all the land in any woman's good graces; Cadenus--old and
savage--leading captive Stella and Vanessa; and then the stray line of
a ballad,--"And a winning tongue had he,"--as much as to say, it isn't
looks, after all, but cunning words, that win our Eves over,--just as
of old, when it was the worst-looking brute of the lot that got our
grandmother to listen to his stuff, and so did the mischief.
Ah, dear me! We rehearse the part of Hercules with his club, subjugating
man and woman in our fancy, the first by the weight of it, and the
second by our handling of it,--we rehearse it, I say, by our own
hearth-stones, with the _cold_ poker as our club, and the exercise is
easy. But when we come to real life, the poker is _in the fire_, and,
ten to one, if we would grasp it, we find it too hot to hold;--lucky for
us, if it is not white-hot, and we do not have to leave the skin of our
hands sticking to it when we fling it down or drop it with a loud or
--I am frightened when I find into what a labyrinth of human character
and feeling I am winding. I meant to tell my thoughts, and to throw in
a few studies of manner and costume as they pictured themselves for
me from day to day. Chance has thrown together at the table with me a
number of persons who are worth studying, and I mean not only to look
on them, but, if I can, through them. You can get any man's or woman's
secret, whose sphere is circumscribed by your own, if you will only look
patiently on them long enough. Nature is always applying her reagents
to character, if you will take the pains to watch her. Our studies
of character, to change the image, are very much like the surveyor's
triangulation of a geographical province. We get a base-line in
organization, always; then we get an angle by sighting some distant
object to which the passions or aspirations of the subject of our
observation are tending; then another:--and so we construct our first
triangle. Once fix a man's ideals, and for the most part the rest is
easy. _A_ wants to die worth half a million. Good. _B_ (female) wants to
catch him,--and outlive him. All right. Minor details at our leisure.
What is it, of all your experiences, of all your thoughts, of all your
misdoings, that lies at the very bottom of the great heap of acts of
consciousness which make up your past life? What should you most dislike
to tell your nearest friend?--Be so good as to pause for a brief space,
and shut the pamphlet you hold with your fingers between the pages.--Oh,
that is it!
What a confessional I have been sitting at, with the inward ear of my
soul open, as the multitudinous whisper of my involuntary confidants
came back to me like the reduplicated echo of a cry among the craggy
At the house of a friend where I once passed the night was one of those
stately upright cabinet-desks and cases of drawers which were not rare
in prosperous families during the last century. It had held the clothes
and the books and the papers of generation after generation. The hands
that opened its drawers had grown withered, shrivelled, and at last been
folded in death. The children that played with the lower handles had got
tall enough to open the desk,--to reach the upper shelves behind the
folding-doors,--grown bent after a while,--and then followed those who
had gone before, and left the old cabinet to be ransacked by a new
A boy of ten or twelve was looking at it a few years ago, and, being a
quick-witted fellow, saw that all the space was not accounted for by the
smaller drawers in the part beneath the lid of the desk. Prying about
with busy eyes and fingers, he at length came upon a spring, on pressing
which, a hidden drawer flew from its hiding-place. It had never been
opened but by the maker. The mahogany shavings and dust were lying in it
as when the artisan closed it,--and when I saw it, it was as fresh as if
that day finished.
Is there not one little drawer in your soul, my sweet reader, which no
hand but yours has ever opened, and which none that have known you seem
to have suspected? What does it hold?--A sin?--I hope not.
What a strange thing an old dead sin laid away in a secret drawer of the
soul is! Must it some time or other be moistened with tears, until it
comes to life again and begins to stir in our consciousness,--as the dry
wheel-animalcule, looking like a grain of dust, becomes alive, if it is
wet with a drop of water?
Or is it a passion? There are plenty of withered men and women walking
about the streets who have the secret drawer in their hearts, which,
if it were opened, would show as fresh as it was when they were in the
flush of youth and its first trembling emotions. What it held will,
perhaps, never be known, until they are dead and gone, and some curious
eye lights on an old yellow letter with the fossil footprints of the
extinct passion trodden thick all over it.
There is not a boarder at our table, I firmly believe, excepting the
young girl, who has not a story of the heart to tell, if one could only
get the secret drawer open. Even this arid female, whose armor of black
bombazine looks stronger against the shafts of love than any cuirass of
triple brass, has had her sentimental history, if I am not mistaken. I
will tell you my reason for suspecting it.
Like many other old women, she shows a great nervousness and
restlessness whenever I venture to express any opinion upon a class of
subjects which can hardly be said to belong to any man or set of men
as their strictly private property,--not even to the clergy, or the
newspapers commonly called "religious." Now, although it would be a
great luxury to me to obtain my opinions by contract, ready-made, from a
professional man, and although I have a constitutional kindly feeling
to all sorts of good people which would make me happy to agree with all
their beliefs, if that were possible, still I must have an idea, now and
then, as to the meaning of life; and though the only condition of peace
in this world is to have no ideas, or, at least, not to express them,
with reference to such subjects, I can't afford to pay quite so much as
that even for peace.
I find that there is a very prevalent opinion among the dwellers on the
shores of Sir Isaac Newton's Ocean of Truth, that _salt fish_, which
have been taken from it a good while ago, split open, cured and dried,
are the only proper and allowable food for reasonable people. I
maintain, on the other hand, that there are a number of live fish still
swimming in it, and that every one of us has a right to see if he cannot
catch some of them. Sometimes I please myself with the idea that I have
landed an actual living fish, small, perhaps, but with rosy gills and
silvery scales. Then I find the consumers of nothing but the salted and
dried article insist that it is poisonous, simply because it is alive,
and cry out to people not to touch it. I have not found, however, that
people mind them much.
The poor boarder in bombazine is my dynamometer. I try every
questionable proposition on her. If she winces, I must be prepared for
an outcry from the other old women. I frightened her, the other day, by
saying that _faith, as an intellectual state, was self-reliance_, which,
if you have a metaphysical turn, you will find is not so much of a
paradox as it sounds at first. So she sent me a book to read which was
to cure me of that error. It was an old book, and looked as if it had
not been opened for a long time. What should drop out of it, one day,
but a small heart-shaped paper, containing a lock of that straight,
coarse, brown hair which sets off the sharp faces of so many
thin-flanked, large-handed bumpkins? I read upon the paper the name
"Hiram."--Love! love! love!--everywhere! everywhere!--under diamonds and
Attleboro' "jewelry,"--lifting the marrowy camel's-hair, and rustling
even the black bombazine!--No, no,--I think she never was pretty, but
she was young once, and wore bright ginghams, and, perhaps, gay merinos.
We shall find that the poor little crooked man has been in love, or is
in love, or will be in love before we have done with him, for aught that
Romance! Was there ever a boarding-house in the world where the
seemingly prosaic table had not a living fresco for its background,
where you could see, if you had eyes, the smoke and fire of some
upheaving sentiment, or the dreary craters of smouldering or burn-out
passions? You look on the black bombazine and high-necked decorum of
your neighbor, and no more think of the real life that underlies this
despoiled and dismantled womanhood than you think of a stone trilobite
as having once been full of the juices and the nervous thrills of
throbbing and self-conscious being. There is a wild creature under that
long yellow pin which serves as brooch for the bombazine cuirass,--a
wild creature, which I venture to say would leap in his cage, if
I should stir him, quiet as you think him. A heart which has been
domesticated by matrimony and maternity is as tranquil as a tame
bulfinch; but a wild heart which has never been fairly broken in
flutters fiercely long after you think time has tamed it down,--like
that purple finch I had the other day, which could not be approached
without such palpitations and frantic flings against the bars of his
cage, that I had to send him back and get a little orthodox canary
which had learned to be quiet and never mind the wires or his keeper's
handling. I will tell you my wicked, but involuntary experiment on the
wild heart under the faded bombazine.
Was there ever a person in the room with you, marked by any special
weakness or peculiarity, with whom you could be two hours and not touch
the infirm spot? I confess the most frightful tendency to do just this
thing. If a man has a brogue, I am sure to catch myself imitating it.
If another is lame, I follow him, or, worse than that, go before him,
limping. I could never meet an Irish gentleman--if it had been the Duke
of Wellington himself--without stumbling upon the word "Paddy,"--which I
use rarely in my common talk.
I have been worried to know whether this was owing to some innate
depravity of disposition on my part, some malignant torturing instinct,
which, under different circumstances, might have made a Fijian
anthropophagus of me, or to some law of thought for which I was not
answerable. It is, I am convinced, a kind of physical fact like
_endosmosis_, with which some of you are acquainted. A thin film of
politeness separates the unspoken and unspeakable current of thought
from the stream of conversation. After a time one begins to soak through
and mingle with the other.
We were talking about names, one day. Was there ever anything,--I
said,--like the Yankee for inventing the most uncouth, pretentious,
detestable appellations,--inventing or finding them,--since the time of
Praise-God Barebones? I heard a country-boy once talking of another whom
he called _Elpit_, as I understood him. _Elbridge_ is common enough, but
this sounded oddly. It seems the boy was christened _Lord Pitt_,--and
called, for convenience, as above. I have heard a charming little girl,
belonging to an intelligent family in the country, called _Anges_
invariably; doubtless intended for Agnes. Names are cheap. How can a
man name an innocent new-born child, that never did him any harm,
_Hiram_?--The poor relation, or whatever she is, in bombazine, turned
toward me, but I was stupid, and went on.--To think of a man going
through life saddled with such an abominable name as that!--The poor
relation grew very uneasy.--I continued; for I never thought of all this
till afterwards.--I knew one young fellow, a good many years ago, by the
name of Hiram--
--What's got into you, Cousin,--said our landlady,--to look so?--There!
you've upset your teacup!
It suddenly occurred to me what I had been doing, and I saw the poor
woman had her hand at her throat; she was half-choking with the
"hysteric ball,"--a very odd symptom, as you know, which nervous women
often complain of. What business had I to be trying experiments on this
forlorn old soul? I had a great deal better be watching that young girl.
Ah, the young girl! I am sure that she can hide nothing from me. Her
skin is so transparent that one can almost count her heart-beats by the
flushes they send into her cheeks. She does not seem to be shy, either.
I think she does not know enough of danger to be timid. She seems to
me like one of those birds that travellers tell of, found in remote,
uninhabited islands, who, having never received any wrong at the hand
of man, show no alarm at and hardly any particular consciousness of his
The first thing will be to see how she and our little deformed gentleman
get along together; for, as I have told you, they sit side by side. The
next thing will be to keep an eye on the duenna,--the "Model" and
so forth, as the white-neckcloth called her. The intention of that
estimable lady is, I understand, to launch her and leave her. I suppose
there is no help for it, and I don't doubt this young lady knows how to
take care of herself, but I do not like to see young girls turned loose
in boarding-houses. Look here now! There is that jewel of his race, whom
I have called for convenience the Koh-i-noor, (you understand it
is quite out of the question for me to use the family names of our
boarders, unless I want to get into trouble,)--I say, the gentleman with
the _diamond_ is looking very often and very intently, it seems to me,
down toward the farther corner of the table, where sits our amber-eyed
blonde. The landlady's daughter does not look pleased, it seems to me,
at this, nor at those other attentions which the gentleman referred to
has, as I have learned, pressed upon the newly-arrived young person. The
landlady made a communication to me, within a few days after the arrival
of Miss Iris, which I will repeat to the best of my remembrance.
He, (the person I have been speaking of,)--she said,--seemed to
be kinder hankerin' round after that young woman. It had hurt her
daughter's feelin's a good deal, that the gentleman she was a-keepin'
company with should be offerin' tickets and tryin' to send presents to
them that he'd never know'd till just a little spell ago,--and he as
good as merried, so far as solemn promises went, to as respectable a
young lady, if she did say so, as any there was round, whosomever they
Tickets! presents!--said I.--What tickets, what presents has he had the
impertinence to be offering to that young lady?
Tickets to the Museum,--said the landlady.--There is them that's glad
enough to go to the Museum, when tickets is given 'em; but some of 'em
ha'n't had a ticket sence Cenderilla was played,--and now he must be
offerin' 'em to this ridiculous young paintress, or whatever she is,
that's come to make more mischief than her board's worth. But it a'n't
her fault,--said the landlady, relenting;--and that aunt of hers, or
whatever she is, served him right enough.
Why, what did she do?
Do? Why, she took it up in the tongs and dropped it out o' window.
Dropped? dropped what?--I said.
Why, the _soap_,--said the landlady.
It appeared that the Koh-i-noor, to ingratiate himself, had sent an
elegant package of perfumed soap, directed to Miss Iris, as a delicate
expression of a lively sentiment of admiration, and that, after having
met with the unfortunate treatment referred to, it was picked up by
Master Benjamin Franklin, who appropriated it, rejoicing, and indulged
in most unheard-of and inordinate ablutions in consequence, so that his
hands were a frequent subject of maternal congratulation, and he smelt
like a civet-cat for weeks after his great acquisition.
After watching daily for a time, I think I can see clearly into the
relation which is growing up between the little gentleman and the young
lady. She shows a tenderness to him that I can't help being interested
in. If he was her crippled child, instead of being more than old enough
to be her father, she could not treat him more kindly. The landlady's
daughter said, the other day, she believed that girl was settin' her cap
for Little Boston.
Some of them young folks is very artful,--said her mother,--and there is
them that would merry Lazarus, if he'd only picked up crumbs enough.
I don't think, though, this is one of that sort; she's kinder
child-like,--said the landlady,--and maybe never had any dolls to play
with; for they say her folks was poor before Ma'am undertook to see to
her teachin' and board her and clothe her.
I could not help overhearing this conversation. "Board her and clothe
her!"--speaking of such a young creature! Oh, dear!--Yes,--she must
be fed,--just like Bridget, maid-of-all-work at this establishment.
Somebody must pay for it. Somebody has a right to watch her and see how
much it takes to "keep" her, and growl at her, if she has too good an
appetite. Somebody has a right to keep an eye on her and take care that
she does not dress too prettily. No mother to see her own youth over
again in those fresh features and rising reliefs of half-sculptured
womanhood, and, seeing its loveliness, forget her lessons of
neutral-tinted propriety, and open the cases that hold her own ornaments
to find her a necklace or a bracelet or a pair of earrings,--those
golden lamps that light up the deep, shadowy dimples on the cheeks of
young beauties,--swinging in a semi-barbaric splendor that carries the
wild fancy to Abyssinian queens and musky Odalisques! I don't believe
any woman has utterly given up the great firm of Mundus & Co., so long
as she wears earrings.
I think Iris loves to hear the little gentleman talk. She smiles
sometimes at his vehement statements, but never laughs at him. When he
speaks to her, she keeps her eye always steadily upon him. This may be
only natural good-breeding, so to speak, but it is worth noticing.
I have often observed that vulgar persons, and public audiences of
inferior collective intelligence, have this in common: the least thing
draws off their minds, when you are speaking to them. I love this
young creature's rapt attention to her diminutive neighbor while he is
He is evidently pleased with it. For a day or two after she came, he was
silent and seemed nervous and excited. Now he is fond of getting the
talk into his own hands, and is obviously conscious that he has at least
one interested listener. Once or twice I have seen marks of special
attention to personal adornment,--a ruffled shirt-bosom, one day, and a
diamond pin in it,--not so _very_ large as the Koh-i-noor's, but more
lustrous. I mentioned the death's-head ring he wears on his right hand.
I was attracted by a very handsome red stone, a ruby or carbuncle or
something of the sort, to notice his left hand, the other day. It is a
handsome hand, and confirms my suspicion that the cast mentioned was
taken from his arm. After all, this is just what I should expect. It is
not very uncommon to see the upper limbs, or one of them, running away
with the whole strength, and, therefore, with the whole beauty, which we
should never have noticed, if it had been divided equally between all
four extremities. If it is so, of course he is proud of his one strong
and beautiful arm; that is human nature. But he does not make himself
ridiculous, at any rate, as people who have any one showy point are apt
to do,--especially dentists with handsome teeth, who always smile back
to their last molars.
Sitting, as he does, next to the young girl, and next but one to the
calm lady who has her in charge, he cannot help seeing their relations
to each other.
That is an admirable woman, Sir,--he said to me one day, as we sat alone
at the table after breakfast,--an admirable woman, Sir,--and I hate her.
Of course, I begged an explanation.
An admirable woman, Sir, because she does good things, and even kind
things,--takes care of this--this--young lady--we have here, talks like
a sensible person, and always looks as if she was doing her duty with
all her might. I hate her because her voice sounds as if it never
trembled, and her eyes look as if she never knew what it was to cry.
Besides, she looks at me, Sir, stares at me, as if she wanted to get
an image of me for some gallery in her brain,--and we don't love to be
looked at in this way, we that have--I hate her,--I hate her,--her eyes
kill me,--it is like being stabbed with icicles to be looked at so,--the
sooner she goes home, the better. I don't want a woman to weigh me in
a balance; there are men enough for that sort of work. The judicial
character isn't captivating in females, Sir. A woman fascinates a man
quite as often by what she overlooks as by what she sees. Love prefers
twilight to daylight; and a man doesn't think much of, nor care much
for, a woman outside of his household, unless he can couple the idea
of love, past, present, or future, with her. I don't believe the Devil
cares half so much for the services of a sinner as he does for those of
one of these folks that are always doing virtuous acts in a way to make
them unpleasing.--That young girl wants a tender nature to cherish her
and give her a chance to put out her leaves,--sunshine, and not east
He was silent,--and sat looking at his handsome left hand with the red
stone ring upon it.--Is he going to fall in love with Iris?
Here are some lines I read to the boarders the other day:--
THE CROOKED FOOTPATH.
Ah, here it is! the sliding rail
That marks the old remembered spot,--
The gap that struck our schoolboy trail,--
The crooked path across the lot.
It left the road by school and church,
A pencilled shadow, nothing more,
That parted from the silver birch
And ended at the farmhouse door.
No line or compass traced its plan;
With frequent bends to left or right,
In aimless, wayward curves it ran,
But always kept the door in sight.
The gabled porch, with woodbine green,--
The broken millstone at the sill,--
Though many a rood might stretch between,
The truant child could see them still.
No rocks across the pathway lie,--
No fallen trunk is o'er it thrown,--
And yet it winds, we know not why,
And turns as if for tree or stone.
Perhaps some lover trod the way
With shaking knees and leaping heart,--
And so it often runs astray
With sinuous sweep or sudden start.
Or one, perchance, with clouded brain
From some unholy banquet reeled,--
And since, our devious steps maintain.
His track across the trodden field.
Nay, deem not thus,--no earth-born will
Could ever trace a faultless line;
Our truest steps are human still,--
To walk unswerving were divine!
Truants from love, we dream of wrath;--
Oh, rather let us trust the more!
Through all the wanderings of the path,
We still can see our Father's door!
THE MINISTER'S WOOING.
THE TEST OF THEOLOGY.
The Doctor went immediately to his study and put on his best coat and
his wig, and, surmounting them by his cocked hat, walked manfully out of
the house, with his gold-headed cane in his hand.
"There he goes!" said Mrs. Scudder, looking regretfully after him. "He
is such a good man! but he has not the least idea how to get along in
the world. He never thinks of anything but what is true; he hasn't a
particle of management about him."
"Seems to me," said Mary, "that is like an Apostle. You know, mother,
St. Paul says, 'In simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly
wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the
"To be sure,--that is just the Doctor," said Mrs. Scudder; "that's
as like him as if it had been written for him. But that kind of way,
somehow, don't seem to do in our times; it won't answer with Simeon
Brown,----I know the man. I know just as well, now, how it will all seem
to him, and what will be the upshot of this talk, if the Doctor goes
there! It won't do any good; if it would, I would be willing. I feel as
much desire to have this horrid trade in slaves stopped as anybody; your
father, I'm sure, said enough about it in his time; but then I know it's
no use trying. Just as if Simeon Brown, when he is making his hundreds
of thousands in it, is going to be persuaded to give it up! He won't,
--he'll only turn against the Doctor, and won't pay his part of the
salary, and will use his influence to get up a party against him, and
our church will be broken up and the Doctor driven away,--that's all
that will come of it; and all the good that he is doing now to these
poor negroes will be overthrown,--and they never did have so good a
friend. If he would stay here and work gradually, and get his System of
Theology printed,--and Simeon Brown would help at that,--and only drop
words in season here and there, till people are brought along with him,
why, by-and-by something might be done; but now, it's just the most
imprudent thing a man could undertake."
"But, mother, if it really is a sin to trade in slaves and hold them, I
don't see how he can help himself. I quite agree with him. I don't see
how he came to let it go so long as he has."
"Well," said Mrs. Scudder, "if worst comes to worst, and he will do it,
I, for one, shall stand by him to the last."
"And I, for another," said Mary.
"I would like him to talk with Cousin Zebedee about it," said Mrs.
Scudder. "When we are up there this afternoon, we will introduce the
conversation. He is a good, sound man, and the Doctor thinks much of
him, and perhaps he may shed some light upon this matter."
Meanwhile the Doctor was making the best of his way, in the strength of
his purpose to test the orthodoxy of Simeon Brown.
Honest old granite boulder that he was, no sooner did he perceive a
truth than he rolled after it with all the massive gravitation of his
being, inconsiderate as to what might lie in his way;--from which it is
to be inferred, that, with all his intellect and goodness, he would have
been a very clumsy and troublesome inmate of the modern American Church.
How many societies, boards, colleges, and other good institutions,
have reason to congratulate themselves that he has long been among the
With him logic was everything, and to perceive a truth and not act in
logical sequence from it a thing so incredible, that he had not yet
enlarged his capacity to take it in as a possibility. That a man should
refuse to hear truth, he could understand. In fact, he had good reason
to think the majority of his townsmen had no leisure to give to that
purpose. That men hearing truth should dispute it and argue stoutly
against it, he could also understand; but that a man could admit a truth
and not admit the plain practice resulting from it was to him a thing
incomprehensible. Therefore, spite of Mrs. Katy Scudder's discouraging
observations, our good Doctor walked stoutly and with a trusting heart.
At the moment when the Doctor, with a silent uplifting of his soul to
his invisible Sovereign, passed out of his study, on this errand, where
was the disciple whom he went to seek?
In a small, dirty room, down by the wharf, the windows veiled by cobwebs
and dingy with the accumulated dust of ages, he sat in a greasy,
leathern chair by a rickety office-table, on which was a great pewter
inkstand, an account-book, and divers papers tied with red tape.
Opposite to him was seated a square-built individual,--a man of about
forty, whose round head, shaggy eyebrows, small, keen eyes, broad chest,
and heavy muscles showed a preponderance of the animal and brutal over
the intellectual and spiritual. This was Mr. Scroggs, the agent of a
rice-plantation, who had come on, bringing an order for a new relay of
negroes to supply the deficit occasioned by fever, dysentery, and other
causes, in their last year's stock.
"The fact is," said Simeon, "this last ship-load wasn't as good a one as
usual; we lost more than a third of it, so we can't afford to put them a
"Ay," said the other,--"but then there are so many women!"
"Well," said Simeon, "women a'n't so strong, perhaps, to start
with,--but then they stan' it out, perhaps, in the long run, better.
They're more patient;--some of these men, the Mandingoes, particularly,
are pretty troublesome to manage. We lost a splendid fellow, coming
over, on this very voyage. Let 'em on deck for air, and this fellow
managed to get himself loose and fought like a dragon. He settled one
of our men with his fist, and another with a marlinespike that he
caught,--and, in fact, they had to shoot him down. You'll have his wife;
there's his son, too,--fine fellow, fifteen year old by his teeth."
"What! that lame one?"
"Oh, he a'n't lame!--it's nothing but the cramps from stowing. You know,
of course, they are more or less stiff. He's as sound as a nut."
"Don't much like to buy relations, on account of their hatching up
mischief together," said Mr. Scroggs.
"Oh, that's all humbug! You must keep 'em from coming together, anyway.
It's about as broad as 'tis long. There'll be wives and husbands and
children among 'em before long, start 'em as you will. And then this
woman will work better for having the boy; she's kinder set on him; she
jabbers lots of lingo to him, day and night."
"Too much, I doubt," said the overseer, with a shrug.
"Well, well--I'll tell you," said Simeon, rising. "I've got a few
errands up-town, and you just step over with Matlock and look over
the stock;--just set aside any that you want, and when I see 'em all
together, I'll tell you just what you shall have 'em for. I'll be back
in an hour or two."
And so saying, Simeon Brown called an underling from an adjoining room,
and, committing his customer to his care, took his way up-town, in a
serene frame of mind, like a man who comes from the calm performance of
Just as he came upon the street where was situated his own large and
somewhat pretentious mansion, the tall figure of the Doctor loomed in
sight, sailing majestically down upon him, making a signal to attract
"Good morning, Doctor," said Simeon.
"Good morning, Mr. Brown," said the Doctor. "I was looking for you. I
did not quite finish the subject we were talking about at Mrs. Scudder's
table last night. I thought I should like to go on with it a little."
"With all my heart, Doctor," said Simeon, not a little flattered. "Turn
right in. Mrs. Brown will be about her house-business, and we will have
the keeping-room all to ourselves. Come right in."
The "keeping-room" of Mr. Simeon Brown's house was an intermediate
apartment between the ineffable glories of the front-parlor and that
court of the gentiles, the kitchen; for the presence of a large train
of negro servants made the latter apartment an altogether different
institution from the throne-room of Mrs. Katy Scudder.
This keeping-room was a low-studded apartment, finished with the heavy
oaken beams of the wall left full in sight, boarded over and painted.
Two windows looked out on the street, and another into a sort of
court-yard, where three black wenches, each with a broom, pretended to
be sweeping, but were, in fact, chattering and laughing, like so many
On one side of the room stood a heavy mahogany sideboard, covered with
decanters, labelled Gin, Brandy, Rum, etc.,--for Simeon was held to be
a provider of none but the best, in his housekeeping. Heavy mahogany
chairs, with crewel coverings, stood sentry about the room; and the
fireplace was flanked by two broad arm-chairs, covered with stamped
On ushering the Doctor into this apartment, Simeon courteously led him
to the sideboard.
"We mus'n't make our discussions too _dry_, Doctor," he said. "What will
"Thank you, Sir," said the Doctor, with a wave of his hand,--"nothing
And depositing his cocked hat in a chair, he settled himself into one of
the leathern easy-chairs, and, dropping his hands upon his knees, looked
fixedly before him, like a man who is studying how to enter upon an
inwardly absorbing subject.
"Well, Doctor," said Simeon, seating himself opposite, sipping
comfortably at a glass of rum-and-water, "our views appear to be making
a noise in the world. Everything is preparing for your volumes; and
when they appear, the battle of New Divinity, I think, may fairly be
considered as won."
Let us consider, that, though a woman may forget her first-born, yet a
man cannot forget his own system of theology,--because therein, if he be
a true man, is the very elixir and essence of all that is valuable and
hopeful to the universe; and considering this, let us appreciate the
settled purpose of our friend, whom even this tempting bait did not
swerve from the end which he had in view.
"Mr. Brown," he said, "all our theology is as a drop in the ocean of
God's majesty, to whose glory we must be ready to make any and every
"Certainly," said Mr. Brown, not exactly comprehending the turn the
Doctor's thoughts were taking.
"And the glory of God consisteth in the happiness of all his rational
universe, each in his proportion, according to his separate amount of
being; so that, when we devote ourselves to God's glory, it is the same
as saying that we devote ourselves to the highest happiness of his
"That's clear, Sir," said Simeon, rubbing his hands, and taking out his
watch to see the time.
The Doctor hitherto had spoken in a laborious manner, like a man who is
slowly lifting a heavy bucket of thought out of an internal well.
"I am glad to find your mind so clear on this all-important point, Mr.
Brown,--the more so as I feel that we must immediately proceed to apply
our principles, at whatever sacrifice of worldly goods; and I trust,
Sir, that you are one who at the call of your Master would not hesitate
even to lay down all your worldly possessions for the greater good of
"I trust so, Sir," said Simeon, rather uneasily, and without the most
distant idea what could be coming next in the mind of his reverend
"Did it never occur to you, my friend," said the Doctor, "that the
enslaving of the African race is a clear violation of the great law
which commands us to love our neighbor as ourselves,--and a dishonor
upon the Christian religion, more particularly in us Americans, whom the
Lord hath so marvellously protected, in our recent struggle for our own
Simeon started at the first words of this address, much as if some one
had dashed a bucket of water on his head, and after that rose uneasily,
walking the room and playing with the seals of his watch.
"I--I never regarded it in this light," he said.
"Possibly not, my friend," said the Doctor,--"so much doth established
custom blind the minds of the best of men. But since I have given more
particular attention to the case of the poor negroes here in Newport,
the thought has more and more labored in my mind,--more especially as
our own struggles for liberty have turned my attention to the rights
which every human creature hath before God,--so that I find much in
my former blindness and the comparative dumbness I have heretofore
maintained on this subject wherewith to reproach myself; for, though I
have borne somewhat of a testimony, I have not given it that force which
so important a subject required. I am humbled before God for my neglect,
and resolved now, by His grace, to leave no stone unturned till this
iniquity be purged away from our Zion."
"Well, Doctor," said Simeon, "you are certainly touching on a very dark
and difficult subject, and one in which it is hard to find out the path
of duty. Perhaps it will be well to bear it in mind, and by looking at
it prayerfully some light may arise. There are such great obstacles in
the way, that I do not see at present what can be done; do you, Doctor?"
"I intend to preach on the subject next Sunday, and hereafter devote
my best energies in the most public way to this great work," said the
"You, Doctor?--and now, immediately? Why, it appears to me you cannot
do it. You are the most unfit man possible. Whosever duty it may be, it
does not seem to me to be yours. You already have more on your shoulders
than you can carry; you are hardly able to keep your ground now, with
all the odium of this new theology upon you. Such an effort would break
up your church,--destroy the chance you have to do good here,--prevent
the publication of your system."
"If it's nobody's system but mine, the world won't lose much, if it
never be published; but if it be God's system, nothing can hinder its
appearing. Besides, Mr. Brown, I ought not to be one man alone. I count
on your help. I hold it as a special providence, Mr. Brown, that in our
own church an opportunity will be given to testify to the reality of
disinterested benevolence. How glorious the opportunity for a man to
come out and testify by sacrificing his worldly living and business! If
you, Mr. Brown, will at once, at whatever sacrifice, quit all connection
with this detestable and diabolical slave-trade, you will exhibit a
spectacle over which angels will rejoice, and which will strengthen and
encourage me to preach and write and testify."
Mr. Simeon Brown's usual demeanor was that of the most leathery
imperturbability. In calm theological reasoning, he could demonstrate,
in the dryest tone, that, if the eternal torment of six bodies and
souls were absolutely the necessary means for preserving the eternal
blessedness of thirty-six, benevolence would require us to rejoice in
it, not in itself considered, but in view of greater good. And when he
spoke, not a nerve quivered; the great mysterious sorrow with which the
creation groaneth and travaileth, the sorrow from which angels veil
their faces, never had touched one vibrating chord either of body
or soul; and he laid down the obligations of man to unconditional
submission in a style which would have affected a person of delicate
sensibility much like being mentally sawn in sunder. Benevolence,
when Simeon Brown spoke of it, seemed the grimmest and unloveliest of
Gorgons; for his mind seemed to resemble those fountains which petrify
everything that falls into them. But the hardest-shelled animals have a
vital and sensitive part, though only so large as the point of a needle;
and the Doctor's innocent proposition to Simeon, to abandon his whole
worldly estate for his principles, touched this spot.
When benevolence required but the acquiescence in certain possible
things which might be supposed to happen to his soul, which, after all,
he was comfortably certain never would happen, or the acquiescence in
certain supposititious sacrifices for the good of that most intangible
of all abstractions, Being in general, it was a dry, calm subject. But
when it concerned the immediate giving-up of his slave-ships and a
transfer of business, attended with all that confusion and loss which he
foresaw at a glance, then he _felt_, and felt too much to see clearly.
His swarthy face flushed, his little blue eye kindled, he walked up to
the Doctor and began speaking in the short, energetic sentences of a man
thoroughly awake to what he is talking about.
"Doctor, you're too fast. You are not a practical man, Doctor. You are
good in your pulpit;--nobody better. Your theology is clear;--nobody can
argue better. But come to practical matters, why, business has its laws,
Doctor. Ministers are the most unfit men in the world to talk on such
subjects; it's departing from their sphere; they talk about what they
don't understand. Besides, you take too much for granted. I'm not sure
that this trade is an evil. I want to be convinced of it. I'm sure it's
a favor to these poor creatures to bring them to a Christian land. They
are a thousand times better off. Here they can hear the gospel and have
some chance of salvation."
"If we want to get the gospel to the Africans," said the Doctor,
"why not send whole ship-loads of missionaries to them, and carry
civilization and the arts and Christianity to Africa, instead of
stirring up wars, tempting them to ravage each other's territories, that
we may get the booty? Think of the numbers killed in the wars,--of all
that die on the passage! Is there any need of killing ninety-nine men to
give the hundredth one the gospel, when we could give the gospel to them
all? Ah, Mr. Brown, what if all the money spent in fitting out ships to
bring the poor negroes here, so prejudiced against Christianity that
they regard it with fear and aversion, had been spent in sending it to
them, Africa would have been covered with towns and villages, rejoicing
in civilization and Christianity!"
"Doctor, you are a dreamer," replied Simeon, "an unpractical man. Your
situation prevents your knowing anything of real life."
"Amen! the Lord be praised therefor!" said the Doctor, with a slowly
increasing flush mounting to his cheek, showing the burning brand of a
smouldering fire of indignation.
"Now let me just talk common-sense, Doctor,--which has its time and
place, just as much as theology;--and if you have the most theology, I
flatter myself I have the most common-sense; a business-man must have
it. Now just look at your situation,--how you stand. You've got a most
important work to do. In order to do it, you must keep your pulpit, you
must keep our church together. We are few and weak. We are a minority.
Now there's not an influential man in your society that don't either
hold slaves or engage in the trade; and if you open upon this subject as
you are going to do, you'll just divide and destroy the church. All men
are not like you;--men are men, and will be, till they are thoroughly
sanctified, which never happens in this life,--and there will be an
instant and most unfavorable agitation. Minds will be turned off from
the discussion of the great saving doctrines of the gospel to a side
issue. You will be turned out,--and you know, Doctor, you are not
appreciated as you ought to be, and it won't be easy for you to get a
new settlement; and then subscriptions will all drop off from your book,
and you won't be able to get that out; and all this good will be lost to
the world, just for want of common-sense."
"There is a kind of wisdom in what you say, Mr. Brown," replied the
Doctor, naively; "but I fear much that it is the wisdom spoken in James,
iii. 15, which 'descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual,
devilish.' You avoid the very point of the argument, which is, Is this a
sin against God? That it is, I am solemnly convinced; and shall I 'use
lightness? or the things that I purpose do I purpose according to the
flesh, that with me there should be yea, yea, and nay, nay?' No, Mr.
Brown, immediate repentance, unconditional submission, these are what I
must preach as long as God gives me a pulpit to stand in, whether men
will hear or whether they will forbear."
"Well, Doctor," said Simeon, shortly, "you can do as you like; but I
give you fair warning, that I, for one, shall stop my subscription, and
go to Dr. Stiles's church."
"Mr. Brown," said the Doctor, solemnly, rising, and drawing his tall
figure to its full height, while a vivid light gleamed from his blue
eye, "as to that, you can do as you like; but I think it my duty, as
your pastor, to warn you that I have perceived, in my conversation
with you this morning, such a want of true spiritual illumination and
discernment as leads me to believe that you are yet in the flesh,
blinded by that 'carnal mind' which 'is not subject to the law of God,
neither indeed can be.' I much fear you have no part nor lot in this
matter, and that you have need, seriously, to set yourself to search
into the foundations of your hope; for you may be like him of whom it is
written, (Isaiah, xliv. 20,) 'He feedeth on ashes: a deceived heart hath
turned him aside, that he cannot deliver his soul, nor say, Is there not
a lie in my right hand?'"
The Doctor delivered this address to his man of influence with the
calmness of an ambassador charged with a message from a sovereign,
for which he is no otherwise responsible than to speak it in the most
intelligible manner; and then, taking up his hat and cane, he bade him
good morning, leaving Simeon Brown in a tumult of excitement which no
previous theological discussion had ever raised in him.
THE PRACTICAL TEST.
The hens cackled drowsily in the barnyard of the white Marvyn-house;
in the blue June-afternoon sky sported great sailing islands of cloud,
whose white, glistening heads looked in and out through the green
apertures of maple and blossoming apple-boughs; the shadows of the trees
had already turned eastward, when the one-horse wagon of Mrs. Katy
Scudder appeared at the door, where Mrs. Marvyn stood, with a pleased,
quiet welcome in her soft, brown eyes. Mrs. Scudder herself drove,
sitting on a seat in front,--while the Doctor, apparelled in the
most faultless style, with white wrist-ruffles, plaited shirt-bosom,
immaculate wig, and well-brushed coat, sat by Mary's side, serenely
unconscious how many feminine cares had gone to his getting-up. He
did not know of the privy consultations, the sewings, stitchings, and
starchings, the ironings, the brushings, the foldings and unfoldings and
timely arrangements, that gave such dignity and respectability to his
outer man, any more than the serene moon rising tranquilly behind a
purple mountain-top troubles her calm head with treatises on astronomy;
it is enough for her to shine,--she thinks not how or why.
There is a vast amount of latent gratitude to women lying undeveloped in
the hearts of men, which would come out plentifully, if they only knew
what they did for them. The Doctor was so used to being well dressed,
that he never asked why. That his wig always sat straight and even
around his ample forehead, not facetiously poked to one side, nor
assuming rakish airs, unsuited to clerical dignity, was entirely owing
to Mrs. Katy Scudder. That his best broadcloth coat was not illustrated
with shreds and patches, fluff and dust, and hanging in ungainly
folds, was owing to the same. That his long silk stockings never had a
treacherous stitch allowed to break out into a long running ladder was
due to her watchfulness; and that he wore spotless ruffles on his wrists
or at his bosom was her doing also. The Doctor little thought, while he,
in common with good ministers generally, gently traduced the Scriptural
Martha and insisted on the duty of heavenly abstractedness, how much of
his own leisure for spiritual contemplation was due to the Martha-like
talents of his hostess. But then, the good soul had it in him to be
grateful, and would have been unboundedly so, if he had known his
indebtedness,--as, we trust, most of our magnanimous masters would be.
Mr. Zebedee Marvyn was quietly sitting in the front summer parlor,
listening to the story of two of his brother church-members, between
whom some difficulty had arisen in the settling of accounts: Jim
Bigelow, a small, dry, dapper little individual, known as general jobber
and factotum, and Abram Griswold, a stolid, wealthy, well-to-do farmer.
And the fragments of conversation we catch are not uninteresting, as
showing Mr. Zebedee's habits of thought and mode of treating those who
came to him for advice.
"I could 'ave got along better, if he'd 'a' paid me regular every
night," said the squeaky voice of little Jim;--"but he was allers
puttin' me off till it come even change, he said."
"Well, 'ta'n't always handy," replied the other; "one doesn't like to
break into a five-pound note for nothing; and I like to let it run till
it comes even change."
"But, brother," said Mr. Zebedee, turning over the great Bible that lay
on the mahogany stand in the corner, "we must go to the law and to the
testimony,"--and, turning over the leaves, he read from Deuteronomy,
"Thou shalt not oppress an hired servant that is poor and needy, whether
he be of thy brethren or of thy strangers that are in thy land within
thy gates. At his day thou shalt give him his hire, neither shall the
sun go down upon it; for he is poor, and setteth his heart upon it: lest
he cry against thee unto the Lord, and it be sin unto thee."
"You see what the Bible has to say on the matter," he said.
"Well, now, Deacon, I rather think you've got me in a tight place," said
Mr. Griswold, rising; and turning confusedly round, he saw the placid
figure of the Doctor, who had entered the room unobserved in the midst
of the conversation, and was staring with that look of calm, dreamy
abstraction which often led people to suppose that he heard and saw
nothing of what was going forward.
All rose reverently; and while Mr. Zebedee was shaking hands with the
Doctor, and welcoming him to his house, the other two silently withdrew,
making respectful obeisance.
Mrs. Marvyn had drawn Mary's hand gently under her arm and taken her to
her own sleeping-room, as it was her general habit to do, that she might
show her the last book she had been reading, and pour into her ear the
thoughts that had been kindled up by it.
Mrs. Scudder, after carefully brushing every speck of dust from the
Doctor's coat and seeing him seated in an armchair by the open window,
took out a long stocking of blue-mixed yarn which she was knitting for
his winter wear, and, pinning her knitting-sheath on her side, was soon
trotting her needles contentedly in front of him.
The ill-success of the Doctor's morning attempt at enforcing his
theology in practice rather depressed his spirits. There was a noble
innocence of nature in him which looked at hypocrisy with a puzzled and
incredulous astonishment. How a man _could_ do so and be so was to him
a problem at which his thoughts vainly labored. Not that he was in the
least discouraged or hesitating in regard to his own course. When he
had made up his mind to perform a duty, the question of success no more
entered his thoughts than those of the granite boulder to which we have
before compared him. When the time came for him to roll, he did roll
with the whole force of his being;--where he was to land was not his
Mildly and placidly he sat with his hands resting on his knees, while
Mr. Zebedee and Mrs. Scudder compared notes respecting the relative
prospects of corn, flax, and buckwheat, and thence passed to the doings
of Congress and the last proclamation of General Washington, pausing
once in a while, if, peradventure, the Doctor might take up the
conversation. Still he sat dreamily eyeing the flies as they fizzed down
the panes of the half-open window.
"I think," said Mr. Zebedee, "the prospects of the Federal party were
The Doctor was a stanch Federalist, and generally warmed to this
allurement; but it did not serve this time.
Suddenly drawing himself up, a light came into his blue eyes, and he
said to Mr. Marvyn,--
"I'm thinking, Deacon, if it is wrong to keep back the wages of a
servant till after the going down of the sun, what those are to do who
keep them back all their lives."
There was a way the Doctor had of hearing and seeing when he looked
as if his soul were afar off, and bringing suddenly into present
conversation some fragment of the past on which he had been leisurely
hammering in the quiet chambers of his brain, which was sometimes quite
This allusion to a passage of Scripture which Mr. Marvyn was reading
when he came in, and which nobody supposed he had attended to, startled
Mrs. Scudder, who thought, mentally, "Now for it!" and laid down her
knitting-work, and eyed her cousin anxiously. Mrs. Marvyn and Mary, who
had glided in and joined the circle, looked interested; and a slight
flush rose and overspread the thin cheeks of Mr. Marvyn, and his
blue eyes deepened a moment with a thoughtful shadow, as he looked
inquiringly at the Doctor, who proceeded:--
"My mind labors with this subject of the enslaving of the Africans, Mr.
Marvyn. We have just been declaring to the world that all men are born
with an inalienable right to liberty. We have fought for it, and the
Lord of Hosts has been with us; and can we stand before Him with our
foot upon our brother's neck?"
A generous, upright nature is always more sensitive to blame than
another,--sensitive in proportion to the amount of its reverence
for good,--and Mr. Marvyn's face flushed, his eye kindled, and his
compressed respiration showed how deeply the subject moved him. Mrs.
Marvyn's eyes turned on him an anxious look of inquiry. He answered,
"Doctor, I have thought of the subject, myself. Mrs. Marvyn has lately
been reading a pamphlet of Mr. Thomas Clarkson's on the slave-trade,
and she was saying to me only last night, that she did not see but the
argument extended equally to holding slaves. One thing, I confess,
stumbles me:--Was there not an express permission given to Israel to buy
and hold slaves of old?"
"Doubtless," said the Doctor; "but many permissions were given to them
which were local and temporary; for if we hold them to apply to the
human race, the Turks might quote the Bible for making slaves of us,
if they could,--and the Algerines have the Scripture all on their
side,--and our own blacks, at some future time, if they can get the
power, might justify themselves in making slaves of us."
"I assure you, Sir," said Mr. Marvyn, "if I speak, it is not to excuse
myself. But I am quite sure my servants do not desire liberty, and would
not take it, if it were offered."
"Call them in and try it," said the Doctor. "If they refuse, it is their
There was a gentle movement in the group at the directness of this
personal application; but Mr. Marvyn replied, calmly,--
"Cato is up at the eight-acre lot, but you may call in Candace. My dear,
call Candace, and let the Doctor put the question to her."
Candace was at this moment sitting before the ample fireplace in the
kitchen, with two iron kettles before her, nestled each in its bed of
hickory coals, which gleamed out from their white ashes like sleepy, red
eyes, opening and shutting. In one was coffee, which she was burning,
stirring vigorously with a pudding-stick,--and in the other, puffy
dough-nuts, in shapes of rings, hearts, and marvellous twists, which
Candace had such a special proclivity for making, that Mrs. Marvyn's
table and closets never knew an intermission of their presence.
"Candace, the Doctor wishes to see you," said Mrs. Marvyn.
"Bress his heart!" said Candace, looking up, perplexed. "Wants to see
me, does he? Can't nobody hab me till dis yer coffee's done; a minnit's
a minnit in coffee;--but I'll be in dereckly," she added, in a
patronizing tone. "Missis, you jes' go 'long in, an' I'll be dar
A few moments after, Candace joined the group in the sitting-room,
having hastily tied a clean, white apron over her blue linsey
working-dress, and donned the brilliant Madras which James had lately
given her, and which she had a barbaric fashion of arranging so as to
give to her head the air of a gigantic butterfly. She sunk a dutiful
curtsy, and stood twirling her thumbs, while the Doctor surveyed her
"Candace," said he, "do you think it right that the black race should be
slaves to the white?"
The face and air of Candace presented a curious picture at this moment;
a sort of rude sense of delicacy embarrassed her, and she turned a
deprecating look, first on Mrs. Marvyn and then on her master.
"Don't mind us, Candace," said Mrs. Marvyn; "tell the Doctor the exact
Candace stood still a moment, and the spectators saw a deeper shadow
roll over her sable face, like a cloud over a dark pool of water, and
her immense person heaved with her labored breathing.
"Ef I must speak, I must," she said. "No,--I neber did tink 'twas right.
When Gineral Washington was here, I hearn 'em read de Declaration ob
Independence and Bill o' Rights; an' I tole Cato den, says I, 'Ef dat
ar' true, you an' I are as free as anybody.' It stands to reason. Why,
look at me,--I a'n't a critter. I's neider huffs nor horns. I's a
reasonable bein',--a woman,--as much a woman as anybody," she said,
holding up her head with an air as majestic as a palm-tree;--"an'
Cato,--he's a man, born free an' equal, ef dar's any truth in what you
"But, Candace, you've always been contented and happy with us, have you
not?" said Mr. Marvyn.
"Yes, Mass'r,--I ha'n't got nuffin to complain ob in dat matter. I
couldn't hab no better friends 'n you an' Missis."
"Would you like your liberty, if you could get it, though?" said Mr.
Marvyn, "Answer me honestly."
"Why, to be sure I should! Who wouldn't? Mind ye," she said, earnestly
raising her black, heavy hand, "'ta'n't dat I want to go off, or want to
shirk work; but I want to _feel free_. Dem dat isn't free has nuffin to
gib to nobody;--dey can't show what dey would do."
"Well, Candace, from this day you are free," said Mr. Marvyn, solemnly.
Candace covered her face with both her fat hands, and shook and
trembled, and, finally, throwing her apron over her head, made a
desperate rush for the door, and threw herself down in the kitchen in a
perfect tropical torrent of tears and sobs.
"You see," said the Doctor, "what freedom is to every human creature.
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