Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 4, No. 21, July, 1859
Part 5 out of 5
degrees, north latitude, Rome, Sir, Boston, Sir! They had grand women in
old Rome, Sir,--and the women bore such men-children as never the world
saw before. And so it was here, Sir. I tell you, the revolution the
Boston boys started had to run in woman's milk before it ran in man's
But confound the make-believe women we have turned loose in our
streets!--where do _they_ come from? Not out of Boston parlors, I
trust. Why, there isn't a beast or a bird that would drag its tail
through the dirt in the way these creatures do their dresses. Because
a queen or a duchess wears long robes on great occasions, a
maid-of-all-work or a factory-girl thinks she must make herself a
nuisance by trailing through the street, picking up and carrying about
with her--pah! that's what I call getting vulgarity into your bones and
marrow. Making believe be what you are not is the essence of vulgarity.
Show over dirt is the one attribute of vulgar people. If any man can
walk behind one of these women and see what she rakes up as she goes,
and not feel squeamish, he has got a tough stomach. I wouldn't let one
of 'em into my room without serving 'em as David served Saul at the cave
in the wilderness,--cut off his skirts, Sir! cut off his skirts!
I suggested, that I had seen some pretty stylish ladies who offended in
the way he condemned.
Stylish _women_, I don't doubt,--said the little gentleman.--Don't tell
me that a true lady ever sacrifices the duty of keeping all about her
sweet and clean to the wish of making a vulgar show. I won't believe it
of a lady. There are some things that no fashion has any right to touch,
and cleanliness is one of those things. If a woman wishes to show that
her husband or her father has got money, which she wants and means to
spend, but doesn't know how, let her buy a yard or two of silk and pin
it to her dress when she goes out to walk, but let her unpin it before
she goes into the house;--there may be poor women that will think it
worth disinfecting. It is an insult to a respectable laundress to carry
such things into a house for her to deal with. I don't like the Bloomers
any too well,--in fact, I never saw but one, and she--or he, or
it--had a mob of boys after her, or whatever you call the creature, as
if she had been a----
The little gentleman stopped short,--flushed somewhat, and looked round
with that involuntary, suspicious glance which the subjects of any
bodily misfortune are very apt to cast round them. His eye wandered
over the company, none of whom, excepting myself and one other, had,
probably, noticed the movement. They fell at last on Iris,--his next
neighbor, you remember.
--We know in a moment, on looking suddenly at a person, if that person's
eyes have been fixed on us. Sometimes we are conscious of it _before_
we turn so as to see the person. Strange secrets of curiosity, of
impertinence, of malice, of love, leak out in this way. There is no need
of Mrs. Felix Lorraine's reflection in the mirror, to tell us that she
is plotting evil for us behind our backs. We know it, as we know by the
ominous stillness of a child that some mischief or other is going on. A
young girl betrays, in a moment, that her eyes have been feeding on the
face where you find them fixed, and not merely brushing over it with
their pencils of blue or brown light.
A certain involuntary adjustment assimilates us, you may also observe,
to that upon which we look. Roses redden the cheeks of her who stoops to
gather them, and buttercups turn little people's chins yellow. When we
look at a vast landscape, our chests expand as if we would enlarge to
fill it. When we examine a minute object, we naturally contract,
not only our foreheads, but all our dimensions. If I _see_ two
men wrestling, I wrestle too, with my limbs and features. When a
country-fellow comes upon the stage, you will see twenty faces in the
boxes putting on the bumpkin expression. There is no need of multiplying
instances to reach this generalization; every person and thing we look
upon puts its special mark upon us. If this is repeated often enough, we
get a permanent resemblance to it, or, at least, a fixed aspect which we
took from it. Husband and wife come to look alike at last, as has often
been noticed. It is a common saying of a jockey, that he is "all horse";
and I have often fancied that milkmen get a stiff, upright carriage,
and an angular movement of the arm, that remind one of a pump and the
working of its handle.
All this came in by accident, just because I happened to mention that
the little gentleman found that Iris had been looking at him with her
soul in her eyes, when his glance rested on her after wandering round
the company. What he thought, it is hard to say; but the shadow of
suspicion faded off from his face, and he looked calmly into the amber
eyes, resting his cheek upon the hand that wore the red jewel.
--If it were a possible thing,--women are such strange creatures! Is
there any trick that love and their own fancies do not play them? Just
see how they marry! A woman that gets hold of a bit of manhood is like
one of those Chinese wood-carvers who work on any odd, fantastic root
that comes to hand, and, if it is only bulbous above and bifurcated
below, will always contrive to make a man--such as he is--out of it. I
should like to see any kind of a man, distinguishable from a Gorilla,
that some good and even pretty woman could not shape a husband out of.
--A child,--yes, if you choose to call her so,--but such a child! Do you
know how Art brings all ages together?
There is no age to the angels and ideal human forms among which the
artist lives, and he shares their youth until his hand trembles and his
eye grows dim. The youthful painter talks of white-bearded Leonardo as
if he were a brother, and the veteran forgets that Raphael died at an
age to which his own is of patriarchal antiquity.
But why this lover of the beautiful should be so drawn to one whom
Nature has wronged so deeply seems hard to explain. Pity, I suppose.
They say that leads to love.
--I thought this matter over until I became excited and curious, and
determined to set myself more seriously at work to find out what was
going on in these wild hearts and where their passionate lives were
drifting. I say wild hearts and passionate lives, because I think I can
look through this seeming calmness of youth and this apparent feebleness
of organization, and see that Nature, whom it is very hard to cheat, is
only waiting as the sapper waits in his mine, knowing that all is in
readiness and the slow-match burning quietly down to the powder. He will
leave it by-and-by, and then it will take care of itself.
One need not wait to see the smoke coming through the roof of a house
and the flames breaking out of the windows to know that the building is
on fire. Hark! There is a quiet, steady, unobtrusive, crisp, not loud,
but very knowing little creeping crackle that is tolerably intelligible.
There is a whiff of something floating about, suggestive of toasting
shingles. Also a sharp pyroligneous-acid pungency in the air that stings
one's eyes. Let us get up and see what is going on.--Oh,--oh,--oh! do
you know what has got hold of you? It is the great red dragon that is
born of the little red eggs we call _sparks_, with his hundred blowing
red manes, and his thousand lashing red tails, and his multitudinous red
eyes glaring at every crack and key-hole, and his countless red tongues
lapping the beams he is going to crunch presently, and his hot breath
warping the panels and cracking the glass and making old timber sweat
that had forgotten it was ever alive with sap. Run for your life! leap!
or you will be a cinder in five minutes, that nothing but a coroner
would take for the wreck of a human being!
If any gentleman will have the kindness to stop this run-away
comparison, I shall be much obliged to him. All I intended to say was,
that we need not wait for hearts to break out in flames to know that
they are full of combustibles and that a spark has got among them. I
don't pretend to say or know what it is that brings these two persons
together;--and when I say together, I only mean that there is an
evident affinity of some kind or other which makes their commonest
intercourse strangely significant, so that each seems to understand a
look or a word of the other. When the young girl laid her hand on the
little gentleman's arm,--which so greatly shocked the Model, you may
remember,--I saw that she had learned the lion-tamer's secret. She
masters him, and yet I can see she has a kind of awe of him, as the man
who goes into the cage has of the monster that he makes a baby of.
One of two things must happen. The first, is love, downright love, on
the part of this young girl, for the poor little misshapen man. You may
laugh, if you like. But women are apt to love the men who they think
have the largest capacity of loving;--and who can love like one that has
thirsted all his life long for the smile of youth and beauty, and seen
it fly his presence as the wave ebbed from the parched lips of him
whose fabled punishment is the perpetual type of human longing and
disappointment? What would become of _him_, if this fresh soul should
stoop upon him in her first young passion, as the flamingo drops out of
the sky upon some lonely and dark lagoon in the marshes of Cagliari,
with a flutter of scarlet feathers and a kindling of strange fires
in the shadowy waters that hold her burning image in their trembling
--Marry her, of course?--Why, no, not _of course_. I should think the
chance less, on the whole, that he would be willing to marry her than
she to marry him.
There is one other thing that might happen. If the interest he awakes in
her gets to be a deep one, and yet has nothing of love in it, she will
glance off from him into some great passion or other. All excitements
run to love in women of a certain--let us not say age, but youth. An
electrical current passing through a coil of wire makes a magnet of a
bar of iron lying within it, but not touching it. So a woman is turned
into a love-magnet by a tingling current of life running round her. I
should like to see one of them balanced on a pivot properly adjusted,
and watch if she did not turn so as to point north and south,--as she
would, if the love-currents are like those of the earth our mother.
Pray, do you happen to remember Wordsworth's "Boy of Windermere"? This
boy used to put his hands to his mouth, and shout aloud, mimicking the
hooting of the owls, who would answer him
"with quivering peals,
And long halloos and screams, and echoes loud
Redoubled and redoubled."
When they failed to answer him, and he hung listening intently for
their voices, he would sometimes catch the faint sound of far distant
waterfalls, or the whole scene around him would imprint itself with new
force upon his perceptions.--Read the sonnet, if you please;--it is
Wordsworth all over,--trivial in subject, solemn in style, vivid in
description, prolix in detail, true metaphysically, but immensely
suggestive of "imagination," to use a mild term, when related as an
actual fact of a sprightly youngster.
All I want of it is to enforce the principle, that, when the door of the
soul is once opened to a guest, there is no knowing who will come in
--Our young girl keeps up her childish habit of sketching heads and
characters. Nobody is, I should think, more faithful and exact in the
drawing of the academical figures given her as lessons; but there is
a perpetual arabesque of fancies that rung round the margin of her
drawings, and there is one book which I know she keeps to run riot
in, where, if anywhere, a shrewd eye would be most likely to read her
thoughts. This book of hers I mean to see, if I can get at it honorably.
I have never yet crossed the threshold of the little gentleman's
chamber. How he lives, when he once gets within it, I can only guess.
His hours are late, as I have said; often, on waking late in the night,
I see the light through cracks in his window-shutters on the wall of the
house opposite. If the times of witchcraft were not over, I should be
afraid to be so close a neighbor to a place from which there come such
strange noises. Sometimes it is the dragging of something heavy over the
floor, that makes me shiver to hear it,--it sounds so like what people
that kill other people have to do now and then. Occasionally I hear very
sweet strains of music,--whether of a wind or stringed instrument, or a
human voice, strange as it may seem, I have often tried to find out, but
through the partition I could not be quite sure. If I have not heard
a woman cry and moan, and then again laugh as though she would die
laughing, I have heard sounds so like them that--I am a fool to confess
it--I have covered my head with the bedclothes; for I have had a fancy
in my dreams, that I could hardly shake off when I woke up, about that
so-called witch that was his great-grandmother, or whatever it was,--a
sort of fancy that she visited the little gentleman,--a young woman
in old-fashioned dress, with a red ring round her white neck,--not a
necklace, but a dull stain.
Of course you don't suppose that I have any foolish superstitions about
the matter,--I, the Professor, who have seen enough to take all that
nonsense out of any man's head! It is not our beliefs that frighten us
half so much as our fancies. A man not only believes, but knows he runs
a risk, whenever he steps into a railroad car; but it doesn't worry him
On the other hand, carry that man across a pasture a little way from
some dreary country-village, and show him an old house where there were
strange deaths a good many years ago, and rumors of ugly spots on the
walls,--the old man hung himself in the garret, that is certain, and
ever since the country-people have called it "the haunted house,"--the
owners haven't been able to let it since the last tenants left on
account of the noises,--so it has fallen into sad decay, and the moss
grows on the rotten shingles of the roof, and the clapboards have turned
black, and the windows rattle like teeth that chatter with fear, and the
walls of the house begin to lean as if its knees were shaking,--take the
man who didn't mind the real risk of the cars to that old house, on some
dreary November evening, and ask him to sleep there alone,--how do you
think he will like it? He doesn't believe one word of ghosts,--but then
he knows, that, whether waking or sleeping, his imagination will people
the haunted chambers with ghastly images. It is not what we _believe_,
as I said before, that frightens us commonly, but what we _conceive_. A
principle that reaches a good way, if I am not mistaken. I say, then,
that, if these odd sounds coming from the little gentleman's chamber
sometimes make me nervous, so that I cannot get to sleep, it is not
because I suppose he is engaged in any unlawful or mysterious way. The
only wicked suggestion that ever came into my head was one that was
founded on the landlady's story of his having a pile of gold; it was a
ridiculous fancy; besides, I suspect the story of _sweating_ gold was
only one of the many fables got up to make the Jews odious and afford a
pretext for plundering them. As for the sound like a woman laughing and
crying, I never said it _was_ a woman's voice; for, in the first place,
I could only hear indistinctly; and, secondly, he may have an organ, or
some queer instrument or other, with what they call the _voce umana_
stop. If he moves his bed round to get out of draughts, or for any such
reason, there is nothing very frightful in that simple operation. Most
of our foolish conceits explain themselves in some such simple way. And
yet, for all that, I confess, that, when I woke up the other evening,
and heard, first a sweet complaining cry, and then footsteps, and then
the dragging sound,--nothing but his bed, I am quite sure,--I felt a
stirring in the roots of my hair as the feasters did in Keats's terrible
poem of "Lamia."
There is nothing very odd in my feeling nervous when I happen to lie
awake and get listening for sounds. Just keep your ears open any time
after midnight, when you are lying in bed in a lone attic of a dark
night. What horrid, strange, suggestive, unaccountable noises you will
hear! The _stillness_ of night is a vulgar error. All the dead things
seem to be alive. Crack! That is the old chest of drawers; you never
hear it crack in the daytime. Creak! There's a door ajar; _you know you
shut them all_. Where can that latch be that rattles so? Is anybody
trying it softly? or, worse than any _body_, is----? (Cold shiver.) Then
a sudden gust that jars all the windows;--very strange!--there does not
seem to be any wind about that it belongs to. When it stops, you hear
the worms boring in the powdery beams overhead. Then steps outside,--a
stray animal, no doubt. All right,--but a gentle moisture breaks out all
over you; and then something like a whistle or a cry,--another gust of
wind, perhaps; that accounts for the rustling that just made your heart
roll over and tumble about, so that it felt more like a live rat under
your ribs than a part of your own body; then a crash of something that
has fallen,--blown over, very like----_Pater noster, qui es in coelis!_
for you are damp and cold, and sitting bolt upright, and the bed
trembling so that the death-watch is frightened and has stopped ticking!
No,--night is an awful time for strange noises and secret doings. Who
ever dreamed, till one of our sleepless neighbors told us of it, of that
Walpurgis gathering of birds and beasts of prey,--foxes, and owls, and
crows, and eagles, that come from all the country round on moonshiny
nights to crunch the clams and muscles, and pick out the eyes of dead
fishes that the storm has thrown on Chelsea Beach? Our old mother Nature
has pleasant and cheery tones enough for us when she comes to us in her
dress of blue and gold over the eastern hill-tops; but when she follows
us up-stairs to our beds in her suit of black velvet and diamonds, every
creak of her sandals and every whisper of her lips is full of mystery
You understand, then, distinctly, that I do not believe there is
anything about this singular little neighbor of mine which is as it
should not be. Probably a visit to his room would clear up all that has
puzzled me, and make me laugh at the notions which began, I suppose, in
nightmares, and ended by keeping my imagination at work so as almost to
make me uncomfortable at times. But it is not so easy to visit him as
some of our other boarders, for various reasons which I will not stop to
mention. I think some of them are rather pleased to get "the Professor"
under their ceilings.
The young man John, for instance, asked me to come up one day and try
some "old Burbon," which he said was A.1. On asking him what was the
number of his room, he answered, that it was forty-'leven, sky-parlor
floor, but that I shouldn't find it, if he didn't go ahead to show me
the way. I followed him to his _habitat_, being very willing to see in
what kind of warren he burrowed, and thinking I might pick up something
about the boarders who had excited my curiosity.
Mighty close quarters they were where the young man John bestowed
himself and his furniture; this last consisting of a bed, a chair,
a bureau, a trunk, and numerous pegs with coats and "pants" and
"vests,"--as he was in the habit of calling waistcoats and pantaloons or
trousers,--hanging up as if the owner had melted out of them. Several
prints were pinned up unframed,--among them that grand national
portrait-piece, "Barnum presenting Ossian E. Dodge to Jenny Lind," and a
picture of a famous trot, in which I admired anew the cabalistic air of
that imposing array of expressions, and especially the Italicized word,
"Dan Mace _names_ b. h. Major Slocum," and "Hiram Woodruff _names_ g. m.
Lady Smith." "Best three in five. Time: 2.40, 2.46, 2.50."
That set me thinking how very odd this matter of trotting horses is, as
an index of the mathematical exactness of the laws of living mechanism.
I saw Lady Suffolk trot a mile in 2.26. Flora Temple has done it in
2.24-1/2; and Ethan Allen is said to have done it in the same time.
Many horses have trotted their mile under 2.30; none that I remember in
public as low down in the twenties as 2.24. _Five seconds_, then, in
about a hundred and sixty is the whole range of the maxima of the
present race of trotting-horses. The same thing is seen in the running
of men. Many can run a mile in five minutes; but when one comes to the
fractions below, they taper down until somewhere about 4.30 the maximum
is reached. Averages of masses have been studied more than averages of
maxima and minima. We know from the Registrar-General's Reports, that a
certain number of children--say from one to two dozen--die every year in
England from drinking hot water out of spouts of teakettles. We know,
that, among suicides, women and men past a certain age almost never use
fire-arms. A woman who has made up her mind to die is still afraid of a
pistol or a gun. Or is it that the explosion would derange her costume?
I say, averages of masses we have; but our tables of maxima we owe
to the sporting men more than to the philosophers. The lesson their
experience teaches is, that Nature makes no leaps,--does nothing _per
saltum_. The greatest brain that ever lived, no doubt, was only a
small fraction of an idea ahead of the second best. Just look at the
chess-players. Leaving out the phenomenal exceptions, the nice
shades that separate the skilful ones show how closely their brains
approximate,--almost as closely as chronometers. Such a person is a
"_knight_-player,"--he must have that piece given him. Another must have
two pawns. Another, "pawn and two," or one pawn and two moves. Then
we find one who claims "pawn and move," holding himself, with this
fractional advantage, a match for one who would be pretty sure to beat
him playing even.--So much are minds alike; and you and I think we
are "peculiar,"--that Nature broke her jelly-mould after shaping our
cerebral convolutions! So I reflected, standing and looking at the
--I say, Governor,--broke in the young man John,--them hosses'll stay
jest as well, if you'll only set down. I've had 'em this year, and they
haven't stirred.--He spoke, and handed the chair towards me,--seating
himself, at the same time, on the end of the bed.
You have lived in this house some time?--I said,--with a note of
interrogation at the end of the statement.
Do I look as if I'd lost much flesh?--said he,--answering my question by
No,--said I;--for that matter, I think you do credit to "the bountifully
furnished table of the excellent lady who provides so liberally for the
company that meets around her hospitable board."
[The sentence in quotation-marks was from one of those disinterested
editorials in small type, which I suspect to have been furnished by
a friend of the landlady's, and paid for as an advertisement. This
impartial testimony to the superior qualities of the establishment and
its head attracted a number of applicants for admission, and a couple of
new boarders made a brief appearance at the table. One of them was
of the class of people who grumble if they don't get canvasbacks and
woodcocks every day, for three-fifty per week. The other was subject to
somnambulism, or walking in the night, when he ought to have been asleep
in his bed. In this state he walked into several of the boarders'
chambers, his eyes wide open, as is usual with somnambulists, and, from
some odd instinct or other, wishing to know what the hour was, got
together a number of their watches, for the purpose of comparing them,
as it would seem. Among them was a repeater, belonging to our young
Marylander. He happened to wake up while the somnambulist was in his
chamber, and, not knowing his infirmity, caught hold of him and gave him
a dreadful shaking, after which he tied his hands and feet, and then
went to sleep till morning, when he introduced him to a gentleman used
to taking care of such cases of somnambulism.]
If you, my reader, will please to skip backward, over this parenthesis,
you will come to our conversation,--which it has interrupted.
It a'n't the feed,--said the young man John,--it's the old woman's looks
when a fellah lays it in too strong. The feed's well enough. After geese
have got tough, 'n' turkeys have got strong, 'n' lamb's got old, 'n'
veal's pretty nigh beef, 'n' sparragrass's growin' tall 'n' slim 'n'
scattery about the head, 'n' green peas gettin' so big 'n' hard they'd
be dangerous if you fired 'em out of a revolver, we get hold of all them
delicacies of the season. But it's too much like feedin' on live folks
and devourin' widdah's substance, to lay yourself out in the eatin' way,
when a fellah's as hungry as the chap that said a turkey was too much
for one 'n' not enough for two. I can't help lookin' at the old woman.
Corned-beef-days she's tolerable calm. Roastin'-days she worries some,
'n' keeps a sharp eye on the chap that carves. But when there's anything
in the poultry line, it seems to hurt her feelin's so to see the knife
goin' into the breast and joints comin' to pieces, that there's no
comfort in eatin'. When I cut up an old fowl and help the boarders,
I always feel as if I ought to say, Won't you have a slice of
widdah?--instead of chicken.
The young man John fell into a train of reflections which ended in his
producing a Bologna sausage, a plate of "crackers," as we Boston folks
call certain biscuits, and the bottle of whiskey described as being A.1.
Under the influence of the crackers and sausage, he grew cordial and
It was time, I thought, to sound him as to those of our boarders who had
excited my curiosity.
What do you think of our young Iris?--I began.
Fust-rate little filly;--he said.--Pootiest and nicest little chap
I've seen since the schoolma'am left. Schoolma'am was a brown-haired
one,--eyes coffee-color. This one has got wine-colored eyes,--'n'
that's the reason they turn a fellah's head, I suppose.
This is a splendid blonde,--I said,--the other was a brunette. Which
style do you like best?
Which do I like best, boiled mutton or roast mutton?--said the young man
John. Like 'em both,--it a'n't the color of 'em makes the goodness. I've
been kind of lonely since schoolma'am went away. Used to like to look at
her. I never said anything particular to her, that I remember, but--
I don't know whether it was the cracker and sausage, or that the young
fellow's feet were treading on the hot ashes of some longing that had
not had time to cool, but his eye glistened as he stopped.
I suppose she wouldn't have looked at a fellah like me,--he said,--but I
come pretty near tryin'. If she had said, Yes, though, I shouldn't have
known what to have done with her. Can't marry a woman now-a-days till
you're so deaf you have to cock your head like a parrot to hear what she
says, and so long-sighted you can't see what she looks like nearer than
Here is another chance for you,--I said.--What do you want nicer than
such a young lady as Iris?
It's no use,--he answered.--I look at them girls and feel as the fellah
did when he missed catchin' the trout.--'To'od 'a' cost more butter to
cook him 'n' he's worth,--says the fellah.--Takes a whole piece o' goods
to cover a girl up now-a-days. I'd as lief undertake to keep a span of
elephants,--and take an ostrich to board, too,--as to marry one of 'em.
What's the use? Clerks and counter-jumpers a'n't anything. Sparragrass
and green peas a'n't for them,--not while they're young and tender.
Hossback-ridin' a'n't for them,--except once a year,--on Fast-day. And
marryin' a'n't for them. Sometimes a fellah feels lonely, and would
like to have a nice young woman, to tell her how lonely he feels. And
sometimes a fellah,--here the young man John looked very confidential,
and, perhaps, as if a little ashamed of his weakness,--sometimes a
fellah would like to have one o' them small young ones to trot on his
knee and push about in a little wagon,--a kind of a little Johnny, you
know;--it's odd enough, but, it seems to me, nobody can afford them
little articles, except the folks that are so rich they can buy
everything, and the folks that are so poor they don't want anything. It
makes nice boys of us young fellahs, no doubt! And it's pleasant to see
fine young girls sittin', like shopkeepers behind their goods, waitin',
and waitin', and waitin', 'n' no customers,--and the men lingerin' round
and lookin' at the goods, like folks that want to be customers, but
haven't got the money!
Do you think the deformed gentleman means to make love to Iris?--I said.
What! Little Boston ask that girl to marry him! Well, now, that's comin'
of it a little too strong. Yes, I guess she will marry him and carry
him round in a basket, like a lame bantam! Look here!--he said,
mysteriously;--one of the boarders swears there's a woman comes to see
him, and that he has heard her singin' and screechin'. I should like
to know what he's about in that den of his. He lays low 'n' keeps
dark,--and, I tell you, there's a good many of the boarders would like
to get into his chamber, but he don't seem to want 'em. Biddy could
tell somethin' about what she's seen when she's been to put his room
to rights. She's a Paddy 'n' a fool, but she knows enough to keep her
tongue still. All I know is, I saw her crossin' herself one day when she
came out of that room. She looked pale enough, 'n' I heard her mutterin'
somethin' or other about the Blessed Virgin. If it hadn't been for the
double doors to that chamber of his, I'd have had a squint inside before
this; but, somehow or other, it never seems to happen that they're both
open at once.
What do you think he employs himself about?--said I.
The young man John winked.
I waited patiently for the thought, of which this wink was the blossom,
to come to fruit in words.
I don't believe in witches,--said the young man John.
We were both silent for a few minutes.
--Did you ever see the young girl's drawing-books,--I said, presently.
All but one,--he answered;--she keeps a lock on that, and won't show it.
Ma'am Allen, (the young rogue sticks to that name, in speaking of the
gentleman with the _diamond_,) Ma'am Allen tried to peek into it one day
when she left it on the sideboard. "If you please," says she,--'n'
took it from him, 'n' gave him a look that made him curl up like a
caterpillar on a hot shovel. I only wished he hadn't, and had jest given
her a little saas, for I've been takin' boxin'-lessons, 'n' I've got a
new way of counterin' I want to try on to somebody.
--The end of all this was, that I came away from the young fellow's
room, feeling that there were two principal things that I had to live
for, for the next six weeks or six months, if it should take so long.
These were, to get a sight of the young girl's drawing-book, which I
suspected had her heart shut up in it, and to get a look into the little
I don't doubt you think it rather absurd that I should trouble myself
about these matters. You tell me, with some show of reason, that all I
shall find in the young girl's book will be some outlines of angels with
immense eyes, traceries of flowers, rural sketches, and caricatures,
among which I shall probably have the pleasure of seeing my own features
figuring. Very likely. But I'll tell you what _I_ think I shall find. If
this child has idealized the strange little bit of humanity over which
she seems to have spread her wings like a brooding dove,--if, in one of
those wild vagaries that passionate natures are so liable to, she has
fairly sprung upon him with her clasping nature, as the sea-flowers fold
about the first stray shell-fish that brushes their outspread tentacles,
depend upon it, I shall find the marks of it in this drawing-book of
hers,--if I can ever get a look at it,--fairly, of course, for I would
not play tricks to satisfy my curiosity.
Then, if I can get into this little gentleman's room under any fair
pretext, I shall, no doubt, satisfy myself in five minutes that he is
just like other people, and that there is no particular mystery about
The night after my visit to the young man John, I made all these and
many more reflections. It was about two o'clock in the morning,--bright
starlight,--so light that I could make out the time on my
alarm-clock,--when I woke up trembling and very moist. It was the heavy,
dragging sound, as I had often heard it before, that waked me. Presently
a window was softly closed. I had just begun to get over the agitation
with which we always awake from nightmare dreams, when I heard the sound
which seemed to me as of a woman's voice,--the clearest, purest soprano
which one could well conceive of. It was not loud, and I could not
distinguish a word, if it was a woman's voice; but there were recurring
phrases of sound and snatches of rhythm that reached me, which suggested
the idea of complaint, and sometimes, I thought, of passionate grief and
despair. It died away at last,--and then I heard the opening of a door,
followed by a low, monotonous sound, as of one talking,--and then
the closing of a door,--and presently the light on the opposite wall
disappeared and all was still for the night.
By George! this gets interesting,--I said, as I got out of bed for a
change of night-clothes.
I had this in my pocket the other day, but thought I wouldn't read it.
So I read it to the boarders instead, and print it to finish off this
ROBINSON OF LEYDEN.
He sleeps not here; in hope and prayer
His wandering flock had gone before,
But he, the shepherd, might not share
Their sorrows on the wintry shore.
Before the Speedwell's anchor swung,
Ere yet the Mayflower's sail was spread,
While round his feet the Pilgrims clung,
The pastor spake, and thus he said:--
"Men, brethren, sisters, children dear!
God calls you hence from over sea;
Ye may not build by Haerlem Meer,
Nor yet along the Zuyder-Zee.
"Ye go to bear the saving word
To tribes unnamed and shores untrod:
Heed well the lessons ye have heard
From those old teachers taught of God.
"Yet think not unto them was lent
All light for all the coming days,
And Heaven's eternal wisdom spent
In making straight the ancient ways.
"The living fountain overflows
For every flock, for every lamb,
Nor heeds, though angry creeds oppose
With Luther's dike or Calvin's dam."
He spake; with lingering, long embrace,
With tears of love and partings fond,
They floated down the creeping Maas,
Along the isle of Ysselmond.
They passed the frowning towers of Briel,
The "Hook of Holland's" shelf of sand,
And grated soon with lifting keel
The sullen shores of Fatherland.
No home for these!--too well they knew
The mitred king behind the throne;--
The sails were set, the pennons flew,
And westward ho! for worlds unknown.
--And these were they who gave us birth,
The Pilgrims of the sunset wave,
Who won for us this virgin earth,
And freedom with the soil they gave.
The pastor slumbers by the Rhine,--
In alien earth the exiles lie,--
Their nameless graves our holiest shrine,
His words our noblest battle-cry!
Still cry them, and the world shall hear,
Ye dwellers by the storm-swept sea!
Ye _have_ not built by Haerlem Meer,
Nor on the land-locked Zuyder-Zee!
* * * * *
THE HEART OF THE ANDES.
We Americans, amidst the confusion and stir of material interests, are
not inattentive to the progress of those claims whose growth is as
silent as that of the leaves around us, and whose values find no echo in
With the spring there has bloomed in New York a flower of no common
beauty. All the fashion and influence there have been to hail this
growth of our soil at its cloistered home in Tenth Street. There is but
one opinion of the beauty and novelty of the stranger. It is of the
"Heart of the Andes," by Mr. Frederick E. Church, we speak. This artist,
now known for some years as he who has with most daring tracked to its
depths the witchery and wonder of our summer skies, and the results of
whose two visits to South America have ere this shown how sensitive and
sure the photograph of his memory is, gives us from the _trop-plein_ of
his souvenirs this last and crowning page.
We hold the merit and charm of Mr. Church's works to be, that they are
so American in feeling and treatment. What chiefly distinguishes America
from Europe, as the object of landscape, is, that Europe is the region
of "bits," of picturesque compositions, of sunflecked lanes, of nestling
villages, and castle-crowned steeps,--while with us everything is less
condensed, on a wider scale, and with vaster spaces.
Mr. Church has the eagle eye to measure this vastness. He loves a
wide expanse, a boundless horizon. He does not, gypsy-like, hide with
Gainsborough beneath a hedge, but his glance sweeps across a continent,
and no detail escapes him. This is what makes the "Andes" a really
marvellous picture. In intellectual grasp, clear and vivid apprehension
of what he wants and where to put it, we think Mr. Church without an
equal. Quite a characteristic of his is a love of detail and finish
without injury to breadth and general effect. You look into his picture
with an opera-glass as you would into the next field from an open
window. His power is not so much one of suggestion, an appeal to the
beauty and grandeur in yourself, as the ability to become a colorless
medium to beauty and grandeur from without; hence the impression is at
first hand, and such as Nature herself produces.
The world abounds in pictures where loving human faculty has lifted
ordinary motives into our sympathy; but where the subject is the
grandest landscape affluence of the world, effect, in the ordinary
sense, ceases to be of value. We need the thing, and no human ennobling
of it. In this picture we have it; no spectral cloud-pile, but a real
Chimborazo, with the hoar of eternity upon its scalp, looks down upon
the happy New-Yorker in his first May perspiration. And as the wind sets
east, no yellow hint at something warming, but whole dales and plains
still in the real sunshine, take the chill from off his heart. No wonder
he, his wife, and his quietly enthusiastic girls throng and sit there.
They are proud in their hearts of the handsome young painter. And well
they may be! Never has the New World sent so native a flavor to the Old.
Unlike so many others of our good artists, there is no saturation from
the past in Mr. Church. No souvenir of what once was warm and new in the
heart of Claude or Poussin ages the fresh work. It has a relish of our
soil; its almost Yankee knowingness, its placid, clear, intellectual
power, with its delicate sentiment and strong self-reliance, are ours;
we delightfully feel that it belongs to us, and that we are of it.
Such is the last great work of the New York school of landscape,--a
living school, and destined to long triumphs,--already appreciated and
nobly encouraged. Its members are men as individual and various in their
gifts, as they are harmonious and manly in their mutual recognition and
* * * * *
REVIEWS AND LITERARY NOTICES.
_Love Me Little, Love Me Long._ By CHARLES READE, Author of "It is Never
too Late to Mend," "White Lies," etc. New York: Harper & Brothers. 1859.
This is the last, and in many respects the best, of Mr. Charles Reade's
literary achievements. Its popularity, we are informed, exceeds that of
any of his former works, excepting the first two published by him, "Peg
Woffington," and "Christie Johnstone," which a few years ago startled
the novel-reading world by their eccentricity of style, their
ingenious novelty of construction, and also by their freshness of
sentiment,--comet-books, pursuing one another in erratic orbits of
thought, now close upon the central light of Truth, now distantly remote
from it, but always brilliant, and generally leaving a sparkling train
of recollection behind. The author's subsequent productions, until the
present, have been less successful; some by reason of their positive
inferiority; some because of their extraordinary affectations of
expression, repelling the multitude, who do not choose to risk their
brains through unlimited pages of labyrinthine rhetoric; some, perhaps,
because of their doubtful paternity, evidences of French origin being
in many places discernible. Here, however, there appears a manifest
improvement. This story is exquisitely simple in conception, and the
narration is mostly full of ease and grace, although the unfolding of
the plot is less direct than might have been expected from an author who
professes so deep a regard for the dramatic order of development. There
is, for instance, an episodical chapter of upwards of thirty pages,
describing commercial England in a state of panic, which is very nearly
as appropriate as a disquisition on the Primary Rocks, or an inquiry
into the origin of the Cabala would be, but which is so palpably
introduced for the purpose of displaying the author's financial
erudition, that he feels himself called upon to apologize in a brief
preface for its intrusion. In the concluding chapters, too, the various
threads of interest are gathered together with very little artistic
compactness. The reader is disappointed at the tameness of the
culmination, compared with the vigor of the approach thereto. But
otherwise there is much to be charmed with, and not a little to admire.
Mr. Reade has renounced a good number of the odd fancies which at one
time pervaded him. We find no traces of the [Greek: stigmatophobia]
with which he was formerly afflicted. Nouns are wedded to obedient
adjectives, adverbs to their willing verbs, by the lawful mediation
of the recognized authorities of punctuation, the illegitimate and
licentious disregard of which, as recklessly manifested in "It is Never
too Late to Mend," indicated a disposition to entirely subvert
the established morals of the language. It is pleasant to see how
unreservedly Mr. Reade has abandoned his functions as apostle of
grammatical free-love. Of tricks of typography there are also fewer,
although these yet remain in an excess which good taste can hardly
sanction. We often find whole platoons of admiration-points stretching
out in line, to give extraordinary emphasis to sentences already
sufficiently forcible. We sometimes encounter extravagant varieties of
type, humorously intended, but the use of which seems a game hardly
worth Mr. Reade's candle, which certainly possesses enough illuminating
power of its own, without seeking additional refulgence by such
In one of his pet peculiarities, the selection of a name for his work,
the author has surpassed himself. It is a good thing to have an imposing
name. In literature, as in society, a sounding title makes its way with
delicious freedom. But it is also well to see to it, that, in the matter
of title, some connection with the book to which it is applied shall be
maintained. We are accustomed to approach a title somewhat as we do a
finger-post,--not hoping that it will reveal the nature of the road we
are to follow, the character of the scenery we are to gaze upon, or the
general disposition of the impending population, but anticipating that
it will at least enable us to start in the right direction. Now every
reader of "Love me Little, Love me Long" is apt to consider himself or
herself justified in entertaining acrimonious sentiments towards Mr.
Reade for the non-fulfilment of his titular hint. If, in the process of
binding, the leaves of this story had accidentally found their way into
covers bearing other and various appellations, we imagine that very
little injury would have been done to the author's meaning or the
purchaser's understanding. It is, indeed, interesting to look forward
to the progress of Mr. Reade's ideas on the subject of titles. We have
already enjoyed a couple of pleasing nursery platitudes; perhaps it
would not be altogether out of order to expect in future a series
something like the following:--
"Oh, Dear, What Can the Matter Be!!??!?!"
"One, Two, Buckle My Shoe!"
"Sing a Song of Sixpence, a Bag Full of Rye!"
"Hiccory, Diccory, Dock!!!"
Let us not forget, in laughing at the author's weaknesses, to
acknowledge his strength. He shows in this work an inventive fancy equal
to that of any writer of light fiction in the English language, and
hardly surpassed by those of the French,--from which latter, it is
fair to suppose, much of his inspiration is drawn, since his style is
undisguisedly that of modern French romancers, though often made the
vehicle of thoughts far nobler than any they are wont to convey. His
portraits of character are capital, especially those of feminine
character, which are peculiarly vivid and _spirituels_. He represents
infantile imagination with Pre-Raphaelitic accuracy. And his
descriptions are frequently of enormous power. A story of a sailor's
perils on a whaling voyage is told in a manner almost as forcible
as that of the "frigate fight," by Walt. Whitman, and in a manner
strikingly similar, too. A night adventure in the English channel--a
pleasure excursion diverted by a storm from its original intention into
a life-and-death struggle--is related with unsurpassed effect. The whole
work is as sprightly and agreeable a love-story as any English writer
has produced,--always amusing, often flashing with genuine wit,
sometimes inspiring in its eloquent energy. And this ought to be
sufficient to secure the abundant success of any book of its class, and
to cause its successor to be awaited with interest.
_The Choral Harmony_. By B.F. BAKER and W.O. PERKINS. Boston: Phillips,
Sampson, & Co. pp. 378.
The great number of music-books published, and the immense editions
annually sold, are the best proof of the demand for variety on the part
of choirs and singing-societies. Nearly all the popular collections will
be found to have about the same proportions of the permanent and the
transient elements,--on the one hand, the old chorals and hymn-tunes
consecrated by centuries of solemn worship,--on the other, the
compositions and "arrangements" of the editors. Here and there a modern
tune strikes the public taste or sinks deeper to the heart, and it takes
its place thenceforward with the "Old Hundredth," with "Martyrs," and
"Mear"; but the greater number of these compositions are as ephemeral as
newspaper stories. Every conductor of a choir knows, however, that, to
maintain an interest among singers, it is necessary to give them new
music for practice, especially new pieces for the opening of public
worship,--that they will not improve while singing familiar tunes, any
more than children will read with proper expression lessons which have
become wearisome by repetition. Masses and oratorios are beyond the
capacity of all but the most cultivated singers; and we suppose that
the very prevalence of these collections which aim to please an average
order of taste may, after all, furnish to large numbers a pleasure which
the rigid classicists would deny them, without in any way filling the
This collection has a goodly number of the favorite old tunes, and they
are given with the harmonies to which the people are accustomed. The
new tunes are of various degrees of excellence, but most of them are
constructed with a due regard to form, and those which we take to be Mr.
Baker's are exceedingly well harmonized. There is an unusual number of
anthems, motets, etc.,--many of them at once solid and attractive. The
elementary portion contains a full and intelligible exposition of the
science. To those choirs who wish to increase their stock of music, and
to singing-societies who desire the opportunity of practising new and
brilliant anthems and sentences, the "Choral Harmony" may be commended,
as equal, at least, to any work of the kind now before the public.
_Seacliff: or the Mystery of the Westervelts_. By J.W. DE FOREST, Author
of "Oriental Acquaintance," "European Acquaintance," etc., etc. Boston:
Phillips, Sampson, & Co. pp. 466. 12mo.
This is a very readable novel, artful in plot, effective in
characterization, and brilliant in style. "The Mystery of the
Westervelts" is a mystery which excites the reader's curiosity at the
outset, and holds his pleased attention to the end. The incidents are so
contrived that the secret is not anticipated until it is unveiled, and
then the explanation is itself a surprise. The characters are generally
strongly conceived, skilfully discriminated, and happily combined. The
delineation of Mr. Westervelt, the father of the heroine, is especially
excellent. Irresolute in thought, impotent in will, and only
occasionally fretted by circumstances into a feeble activity, he is an
almost painfully accurate representation of a class of men who drift
through life without any power of self-direction. Mrs. Westervelt has
equal moral feebleness with less brain, and her character is a study in
practical psychology. Somerville, the villain of the piece, who unites
the disposition of Domitian to the manners of Chesterfield, is the
pitiless master of this female slave. The coquettish Mrs. Van Leer is
a prominent personage of the story; and her shallow malice and pretty
deviltries are most effectively represented. She is not only a flirt in
outward actions, but a flirt in soul, and her perfection in impertinence
almost rises to genius. All these characters betray patient meditation,
and the author's hold on them is rarely relaxed. A novel evincing so
much intellectual labor, written in a style of such careful elaboration,
and exhibiting so much skill in the development of the story, can
scarcely fail of a success commensurate with its merits.
_To Cuba and Back_. A Vacation Voyage. By R.H. DANA, JR., Author of "Two
Years before the Mast." Boston: Ticknor & Fields. 1859. pp. 288. 16mo.
It was, perhaps, a dangerous experiment for the author of a book of the
worldwide and continued popularity of "Two Years before the Mast" to
dare, with that almost unparalleled success still staring him in the
face, to tempt Fortune by giving to the public another book. But long
before this time, the thousands of copies that have left the shelves of
the publishers have attested a success scarcely second to that of Mr.
Dana's first venture. The elements of success, in both cases, are to be
found in every page of the books themselves. This "Vacation Voyage" has
not a dull page in it. Every reader reads it to the end. Every paragraph
has its own charm; every word is chosen with that quick instinct
that seizes upon the right word to describe the matter in hand which
characterizes Mr. Dana's forensic efforts, and places him so high on the
list of natural-born advocates,--which gives him the power of eloquence
at the bar, and a power scarcely less with the slower medium of the pen.
These Cuban sketches are real _stereographs_, and Cuba stands before you
as distinct and lifelike as words can make it. Single words, from Mr.
Dana's pen, are pregnant with great significance, and their meaning is
brought out by taking a little thought, as the leaves and sticks and
stones and pigmy men and women in the shady corners of the stereograph
are developed into the seeming proportions of real life, when the images
in the focus of the lenses of the stereoscope. We know of no modern book
of travels which gives one so vivid and fresh a picture, in many various
aspects, of the external nature, the people, the customs, the laws and
domestic institutions of a strange country, as does this little volume,
the off-hand product of a few days snatched from the engrossing cares of
the most active professional life. With a quick eye for the beauties of
landscape, a keen and lively perception of what is droll and amusing
in human nature, a warm heart, sympathizing readily where sympathy is
required, the various culture of the scholar, and the training of the
lawyer and politician, all well mixed with manly, straightforward,
Anglo-Saxon pluck, Mr. Dana has, in an eminent degree, all the best
qualities that should mark the traveller who undertakes to tell his
story to the world.
Some statistics, judiciously introduced, of the present government, and
of the institution of slavery and the slave-trade, with the author's
comments upon them, give a practical value to the book at this time for
all thinking and patriotic citizens, and make it one not only to be read
for an hour's entertainment, but carefully studied for the important
practical suggestions of its pages.
_Memoir of Theophilus Parsons_, Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial
Court of Massachusetts; with Notices of some of his Contemporaries. By
his Son, THEOPHILUS PARSONS. Boston: Ticknor & Fields. 1859. pp. 476.
The division of the United States into so many wellnigh independent
republics, each with official rewards in its gift great enough to excite
and to satisfy a considerable ambition, makes fame a palpably provincial
thing in America. We say _palpably_, because the larger part of
contemporary fame is truly parochial everywhere; only we are apt to
overlook the fact when we measure by kingdoms or empires instead of
counties, and to fancy a stature for Palmerston or Persigny suitable to
the size of the stage on which they act. It seems a much finer thing to
be a Lord Chancellor in England than a Chief Justice in Massachusetts;
yet the same abilities which carried the chance-transplanted Boston boy,
Lyndhurst, to the woolsack, might, perhaps, had he remained in the land
of his birth, have found no higher goal than the bench of the Supreme
Court. Mr. Dickens laughed very fairly at the "remarkable men" of our
small towns; but England is full of just such little-greatness, with the
difference that one is proclaimed in the "Bungtown Tocsin" and the other
in the "Times." We must get a new phrase, and say that Mr. Brown was
immortal at the latest dates, and Mr. Jones a great man when the steamer
sailed. The small man in Europe is reflected to his contemporaries from
a magnifying mirror, while even the great men in America can be imaged
only in a diminishing one. If powers broaden with the breadth of
opportunity, if Occasion be the mother of greatness and not its tool,
the centralizing system of Europe should produce more eminent persons
than our distributive one. Certain it is that the character grows larger
in proportion to the size of the affairs with which it is habitually
concerned, and that a mind of more than common stature acquires an
habitual _stoop_, if forced to deal lifelong with little men and little
Even that German-silver kind of fame, Notoriety, can scarcely be had
here at a cheaper rate than a murder done in broad daylight of a Sunday;
and the only sure way of having one's name known to the utmost corners
of our empire is by achieving a continental _dis_repute. With a
metropolis planted in a crevice between Maryland and Virginia, and
stunted because its roots vainly seek healthy nourishment in a soil
impoverished by slavery, a paulopost future capital, the centre of
nothing, without literature, art, or so much as commerce,--we have no
recognized dispenser of national reputations like London or Paris. In a
country richer in humor, and among a people keener in the sense of it
than any other, we cannot produce a national satire or caricature,
because there is no butt visible to all parts of the country at once.
How many men at this moment know the names, much more the history or
personal appearance, of our cabinet ministers? But the joke of London or
Paris tickles all the ribs of England or France, and the intellectual
rushlight of those cities becomes a beacon, set upon such bushels, and
multiplied by the many-faced provincial reflector behind it. Meanwhile
New York and Boston wrangle about literary and social preeminence like
two schoolboys, each claiming to have something (he knows not exactly
what) vastly finer than the other at home. Let us hope that we shall
by-and-by develop a rivalry like that of the Italian cities, and that
the difficulty of fame beyond our own village may make us more content
with doing than desirous of the name of it. For, after all, History
herself is for the most part but the Muse of Little Peddlington, and
Athens raised the heaviest crop of laurels yet recorded on a few acres
of rock, without help from newspaper guano.
Theophilus Parsons was one of those men of whom surviving contemporaries
always say that he was the most gifted person they had ever known,
while yet they are able to produce but little tangible evidence of his
superiority. It is, no doubt, true that Memory's geese are always swans;
but in the case of a man like Parsons, where the testimony is so various
and concurrent, we cannot help believing that there must have been a
special force of character, a marked alertness and grasp of mind, to
justify the impression he left behind. With the exception of John
Adams, he was probably the most considerable man of his generation in
Massachusetts; and it is not merely the _caruit quia vate sacro_, but
the narrowness of his sphere of action, still further narrowed by the
technical nature of a profession in itself provincial, as compared
with many other fields for the display of intellectual power, that has
hindered him from receiving an amount of fame at all commensurate with
an ability so real and so various.
But the life of a strong man, lived no matter where, and perhaps all
the more if it have been isolated from the noisier events which make so
large a part of history, contains the best material of biography. Judge
Parsons was fortunate in a son capable of doing that well, which, even
if ill done, would have been interesting. A practised writer, the author
of two volumes of eloquent and thoughtful essays, Professor Parsons has
known how to select and arrange his matter with a due feeling of effect
and perspective. When he fails to do this, it is because here and there
the essayist has got the better of the biographer. We are not concerned
here, for example, to know Mr. Parsons's opinions about Slavery, and
we are sure that the sharp insight and decisive judgment of his father
would never have allowed him to be frightened by the now somewhat
weather-beaten scarecrow of danger to the Union.
In the earlier part of the Memoir we get some glimpses of
pre-Revolutionary life in New England, which we hope yet to see
illustrated more fully in its household aspects.[A] The father of
Parsons was precisely one of those country-clergymen who were "passing
rich on forty pounds a year." On a salary of two hundred and eighty
dollars, he brought up a family of seven children, three of whom he sent
to college, and kept a hospitable house.
[Footnote A: Mr. Elliott, in his _New England History_, has wisely
gathered many of those unconsidered trifles which are so important in
forming a just notion of the character of a population. We cannot but
wish that our town-historians, instead of giving so much space to idle
and often untrustworthy genealogies, and to descriptions of the "elegant
mansions" of Messrs. This and That, would do us the real service of
rescuing from inevitable oblivion the fleeting phases of household
scenery that help us to that biography of a people so much more
interesting than their annals. We would much rather know whether a man
wore homespun, a hundred years ago, than whether he was a descendant of
Of Parsons's college experiences we get less than we could desire;
but as he advances in life, we find his mind exercised by the great
political and social problem whose solution was to be the experiment of
Democracy at housekeeping for herself,--we see him influencing State
and even National politics, but always as a man who preferred attaining
the end to being known as the means,--and finally, as Chief Justice,
reforming the loose habits of the bar, intolerant of gabble, and leaving
the permanent impress of his energetic mind and impatient logic on the
Common Law of the country.
We know nothing more striking than the dying speech recorded in the
concluding chapter. At the end of a life so laborious and so useful, the
Judge, himself withdrawing to be judged, murmurs,--"Gentlemen of the
Jury, the facts of the case are in your hands. You will retire and
consider of your verdict." In this volume, the son has submitted the
facts of the case to a jury of posterity. His case will not be injured
by the modesty with which he has stated it. He has claimed less for his
father than one less near to him might have done. We think the verdict
must be, that this was a great man _marooned_ by Destiny on an
out-of-the-way corner of the world, where, however he might exert great
powers, there was no adequate field for that display of them which is
the necessary condition of fame.
Mr. Parsons has done a real service to our history and our letters in
this volume. Accompanying and illustrating his main topic, he has given
us excellent sketches of some other persons less eminent than his
father, sometimes from tradition and sometimes from his own impressions.
We hope in the next edition he will give us a supplementary chapter of
personal anecdotes, of which there is a large number that deserve to be
perpetuated in print, and which otherwise will die with the memories
in which they are now preserved. The strictly professional part of the
biography, illustrating the Chief Justice's more important decisions,
might also be advantageously enlarged.
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