Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 5, No. 27, January, 1860

Part 4 out of 5

English alphabet, but of no other.

It is not fair to pit a few chosen families against the great multitude
of those who are continually working their way up into the intellectual
classes. The results which are habitually reached by hereditary training
are occasionally brought about without it. There are natural filters as
well as artificial ones; and though the great rivers are commonly more
or less turbid, if you will look long enough, you may find a spring that
sparkles as no water does which drips through your apparatus of sands
and sponges. So there are families which refine themselves into
intellectual aptitude without having had much opportunity for
intellectual acquirements. A series of felicitous crosses develops an
improved strain of blood, and reaches its maximum perfection at last in
the large uncombed youth who goes to college and startles the hereditary
class-leaders by striding past them all. That is Nature's republicanism;
thank God for it, but do not let it make you illogical. The race of the
hereditary scholar has exchanged a certain portion of its animal vigor
for its new instincts, and it is hard to lead men without a good deal of
animal vigor. The scholar who comes by Nature's special grace from an
unworn stock of broad-chested sires and deep-bosomed mothers must always
overmatch an equal intelligence with a compromised and lowered vitality.
A man's breathing and digestive apparatus (one is tempted to add
_muscular_) are just as important to him on the floor of the Senate as
his thinking organs. You broke down in your great speech, did you? Yes,
your grandfather had an attack of dyspepsia in '82, after working too
hard on his famous Election Sermon. All this does not touch the main
fact: our scholars come chiefly from a privileged order, just as our
best fruits come from well-known grafts,--though now and then a seedling
apple, like the Northern Spy, or a seedling pear, like the Seckel,
springs from a nameless ancestry and grows to be the pride of all the
gardens in the land.

Let me introduce you to a young man who belongs to the Brahmin caste of
New England.



Bernard C. Langdon, a young man attending Medical Lectures at the school
connected with one of our principal colleges, remained after the Lecture
one day and wished to speak with the Professor. He was a student of
mark,--first favorite of his year, as they say of the Derby colts.
There are in every class half a dozen bright faces to which the teacher
naturally directs his discourse, and by the intermediation of whose
attention he seems to hold that of the mass of listeners. Among these
some one is pretty sure to take the lead, by virtue of a personal
magnetism, or some peculiarity of expression, which places the face in
quick sympathetic relations with the lecturer. This was a young man
with such a face; and I found,--for you have guessed that I was the
"Professor" above-mentioned,--that, when there was anything difficult to
be explained, or when I was bringing out some favorite illustration of a
nice point, (as, for instance, when I compared the cell-growth, by which
Nature builds up a plant or an animal, to the glass-blower's similar
mode of beginning,--always with a hollow sphere, or vesicle, whatever he
is going to make,) I naturally looked in his face and gauged my success
by its expression.

It was a handsome face,--a little too pale, perhaps, and would have
borne something more of fulness without becoming heavy. I put the
organization to which it belongs in Section C of Class 1 of my
Anglo-American Anthropology (unpublished). The jaw in this class is but
_slightly_ narrowed,--just enough to make the width of the forehead tell
more decidedly. The moustache often grows vigorously, but the whiskers
are thin. The skin is like that of Jacob, rather than like Esau's. One
string of the animal nature has been taken away, but this gives only a
greater predominance to the intellectual chords. To see just how the
vital energy has been toned down, you must contrast one of this section
with a specimen of Section A of the same class,--say, for instance, one
of the old-fashioned, full-whiskered, red-faced, roaring-big Commodores
of the last generation, whom you remember, at least by their portraits,
in ruffled shirts, looking as hearty as butchers and as plucky as
bull-terriers, with their hair combed straight up from their foreheads,
which were not commonly very high or broad. The special form of physical
life I have been describing gives you a right to expect more delicate
perceptions and a more reflective nature than you commonly find in
shaggy-throated men, clad in heavy suits of muscles.

The student lingered in the lecture-room, looking all the time as if he
wanted to say something in private, and waiting for two or three others,
who were still hanging about, to be gone.

Something is wrong!--I said to myself, when I noticed his
expression.--Well, Mr. Langdon,--I said to him, when we were alone,--can
I do anything for you to-day?

You can, Sir,--he said.--I am going to leave the class, for the present,
and keep school.

Why, that's a pity, and you so near graduating! You'd better stay and
finish this course, and take your degree in the spring, rather than
break up your whole plan of study.

I can't help myself, Sir,--the young man answered.--There's trouble at
home, and they cannot keep me here as they have done. So I must look out
for myself for a while. It's what I've done before, and am ready to do
again. I came to ask you for a certificate of my fitness to teach a
common school, or a high school, if you think I am up to that. Are you
willing to give it to me?

Willing? Yes, to be sure,--but I don't want you to go. Stay; we'll make
it easy for you. There's a fund will do something for you, perhaps. Then
you can take both the annual prizes, if you like,--and claim them in
money, if you want that more than medals.

I have thought it all over,--he answered,--and have pretty much made up
my mind to go.

A perfectly gentlemanly young man, of courteous address and mild
utterance, but means at least as much as he says. There are some people
whose rhetoric consists of a slight habitual understatement. I often
tell Mrs. Professor that one of her "I think it's sos" is worth the
Bible-oath of all the rest of the household that they "know it's so."
When you find a person a little better than his word, a little more
liberal than his promise, a little more than borne out in his statement
by his facts, a little larger in deed than in speech, you recognize a
kind of eloquence in that person's utterance not laid down in Blair or

This was a proud fellow, self-trusting, sensitive, with
family-recollections that made him unwilling to accept the kind of aid
which many students--would have thankfully welcomed. I knew him too well
to urge him, after the few words which implied that he was determined
to go. Besides, I have great confidence in young men who believe in
themselves, and are accustomed to rely on their own resources from an
early period. When a resolute young fellow steps up to the great bully,
the World, and takes him boldly by the beard, he is often surprised to
find it come off in his hand, and that it was only tied on to scare away
timid adventurers. I have seen young men more than once, who came to a
great city without a single friend, support themselves and pay for their
education, lay up money in a few years, grow rich enough to travel, and
establish themselves in life, without ever asking a dollar of any person
which they had not earned. But these are exceptional cases. There are
horse-tamers, born so, as we all know; there are woman-tamers who
bewitch the sex as the pied piper bedeviled the children of Hamelin; and
there are world-tamers, who can make any community, even a Yankee one,
get down and let them jump on its back as easily as Mr. Rarey saddled

Whether Langdon was of this sort or not I could not say positively; but
he had spirit, and, as I have said, a family-pride which would not let
him be dependent. The New England Brahmin caste often gets blended with
connections of political influence or commercial distinction. It is a
charming thing for the scholar, when his fortune carries him in this way
into some of the "old families" who have fine old houses, and city-lots
that have risen in the market, and names written in all the stock-books
of all the dividend-paying companies. His narrow study expands into a
stately library, his books are counted by thousands instead of hundreds,
and his favorites are dressed in gilded calf in place of plebeian
sheepskin or its pauper substitutes of cloth and paper.

The Reverend Jedediah Langdon, grandfather of our young gentleman, had
made an advantageous alliance of this kind. Miss Dorothea Wentworth had
read one of his sermons which had been printed "by request," and became
deeply interested in the young author, whom she had never seen. Out of
this circumstance grew a correspondence, an interview, a declaration, a
matrimonial alliance, and a family of half a dozen children. Wentworth
Langdon, Esquire, was the oldest of these, and lived in the old
family-mansion. Unfortunately, that principle of the diminution of
estates by division, to which I have referred, rendered it somewhat
difficult to maintain the establishment upon the fractional income
which the proprietor received from his share of the property. Wentworth
Langdon, Esq., represented a certain intermediate condition of life
not at all infrequent in our old families. He was the connecting link
between the generation which lived in ease, and even a kind of state,
upon its own resources, and the new brood, which must live mainly by its
wits or industry, and make itself rich, or shabbily subside into that
lower stratum known to social geologists by a deposit of Kidderminster
carpets and the peculiar aspect of the fossils constituting the family
furniture and wardrobe. This _slack-water_ period of a race, which comes
before the rapid ebb of its prosperity, is familiar to all who live in
cities. There are no more quiet, inoffensive people than these children
of rich families, just above the necessity of active employment, yet
not in a condition to place their own children advantageously, if they
happen to have families. Many of them are content to live unmarried.
Some mend their broken fortunes by prudent alliances, and some leave a
numerous progeny to pass into the obscurity from which their ancestors
emerged; so that you may see on hand-carts and cobblers' stalls names
which, a few generations back, were upon parchments with broad seals,
and tombstones with armorial bearings.

In a large city, this class of citizens are familiar to us in the
streets. They are very courteous in their salutations; they have
time enough to bow and take their hats off,--which, of course, no
business-man can afford to do. Their beavers are smoothly brushed, and
their boots well polished; all their appointments are tidy; they look
the respectable walking gentleman to perfection. They are prone to
habits,--to frequent reading-rooms, insurance-offices,--to walk the same
streets at the same hours,--so that one becomes familiar with their
faces and persons, as a part of the street-furniture.

There is one curious circumstance, that all city-people must have
noticed, which is often illustrated in our experience of the slack-water
gentry. We shall know a certain person by his looks, familiarly, for
years, but never have learned his name. About this person we shall have
accumulated no little circumstantial knowledge;--thus, his face, figure,
gait, his mode of dressing, of saluting, perhaps even of speaking, may
be familiar to us; yet who he is we know not. In another department of
our consciousness, there is a very familiar _name_, which we have never
found the person to match. We have heard it so often, that it has
idealized itself, and become one of that multitude of permanent shapes
which walk the chambers of the brain in velvet slippers in the company
of Falstaff and Hamlet and General Washington and Mr. Pickwick.
Sometimes the person dies, but the name lives on indefinitely. But now
and then it happens, perhaps after years of this independent existence
of the name and its shadowy image in the brain, on the one part, and the
person and all its real attributes, as we see them daily, on the other,
that some accident reveals their relation, and we find the name we have
carried so long in our memory belongs to the person we have known so
long as a fellow-citizen. Now the slack-water gentry are among the
persons most likely to be the subjects of this curious divorce of title
and reality,--for the reason, that, playing no important part in the
community, there is nothing to tie the floating name to the actual
individual, as is the case with the men who belong in any way to the
public, while yet their names have a certain historical currency, and we
cannot help meeting them, either in their haunts, or going to and from

To this class belonged Wentworth Langdon, Esq. He had been "dead-headed"
into the world some fifty years ago, and had sat with his hands in
his pockets staring at the show ever since. I shall not tell you, for
reasons before hinted, the whole name of the place in which he lived.
I will only point you in the right direction, by saying that there are
three towns lying in a line with each other, as you go "down East," each
of them with a _Port_ in its name, and each of them having a peculiar
interest which gives it individuality, in addition to the Oriental
character they have in common. I need not tell you that these towns are
Newburyport, Portsmouth, and Portland. The Oriental character they have
in common consists in their large, square, palatial mansions, with sunny
gardens round them. The two first have seen better days. They are in
perfect harmony with the condition of weakened, but not impoverished,
gentility. Each of them is a "paradise of demi-fortunes." Each of them
is of that intermediate size between a village and a city which any
place has outgrown when the presence of a well-dressed stranger walking
up and down the main street ceases to be a matter of public curiosity
and private speculation, as frequently happens, during the busier months
of the year, in considerable commercial centres like Salem. They both
have grand old recollections to fall back upon,--times when they looked
forward to commercial greatness, and when the portly gentlemen in cocked
hats, who built their decaying wharves and sent out their ships all over
the world, dreamed that their fast-growing port was to be the Tyre or
the Carthage of the rich British Colony. Great houses, like Lord Timothy
Dexter's, in Newburyport, remain as evidence of the fortunes amassed
in these places of old. Other mansions--like the Rockingham House in
Portsmouth (look at the white horse's tail before you mount the broad
staircase) show that there was not only wealth, but style and state,
in these quiet old towns during the last century. It is not with any
thought of pity or depreciation that we speak of them as in a certain
sense decayed towns; they did not fulfil their early promise of
expansion, but they remain incomparably the most interesting places of
their size in any of the three northernmost New England States. They
have even now prosperity enough to keep them in good condition, and
offer the most attractive residences for quiet families, which, if they
had been English, would have lived in a _palazzo_ at Genoa or Pisa, or
some other Continental Newburyport or Portsmouth.

As for the last of the three Ports, or Portland, it is getting too
prosperous to be as attractive as its less northerly neighbors. Meant
for a fine old town, to ripen like a Cheshire cheese within its walls
of ancient rind, burrowed by crooked alleys and mottled with venerable
mould, it seems likely to sacrifice its mellow future to a vulgar
material prosperity. Still it remains invested with many of its old
charms, as yet, and will forfeit its place among this admirable trio
only when it gets a hotel with unequivocal marks of having been built
and organized in the present century.

----It was one of the old square palaces of the North, in which Bernard
Langdon, the son of Wentworth, was born. If he had had the luck to be
an only child, he might have lived as his father had done, letting his
meagre competence smoulder on almost without consuming, like the fuel
in an air-tight stove. But after Master Bernard came Miss Dorothea
Wentworth Langdon, and then Master William Pepperell Langdon, and
others, equally well named,--a string of them, looking, when they stood
in a row in prayer-time, as if they would fit a set of Pandean pipes, of
from three feet upward in dimensions. The door of the air-tight store
has to be opened, under such circumstances, you may well suppose! So it
happened that our young man had been obliged, from an early period, to
do something to support himself, and found himself stopped short in his
studies by the inability of the good people at home to furnish him the
present means of support as a student.

You will understand now why the young man wanted me to give him a
certificate of his fitness to teach, and why. I did not choose to urge
him to accept the aid which a meek country-boy from a family without
ante-Revolutionary recollections would have thankfully received. Go he
must,--that was plain enough. He would not be content otherwise. He was
not, however, to give up his studies; and as it is customary to allow
_half-time_ to students engaged in school-keeping,--that is, to count
a year, so employed, if the student also keep on with his professional
studies, as equal to six months of the three years he is expected to
be under an instructor before applying for his degree,--he would not
necessarily lose more than a few months of time. He had a small library
of professional books, which he could take with him.

So he left my teaching and that of my estimable colleagues, carrying
with him my certificate, that Mr. Bernard C. Langdon was a young
gentleman of excellent moral character, of high intelligence and good
education, and that his services would be of great value in any school,
academy, or other institution, where young persons of either sex were to
be instructed.

I confess, that expression, "either sex," ran a little thick, as I
may say, from my pen. For, although the young man bore a very fair
character, and there was no special cause for doubting his discretion,
I considered him altogether too good-looking, in the first place, to be
let loose in a room-full of young girls. I didn't want him to fall in
love just then,--and if half a dozen girls fell in love with him, as
they most assuredly would, if brought into too near relations with him,
why, there was no telling what gratitude and natural sensibility might
bring about.

Certificates are, for the most part, like ostrich-eggs; the giver never
knows what is hatched out of them. But once in a thousand times they
act as curses are said to,--come home to roost. Give them often enough,
until it gets to be a mechanical business, and, some day or other, you
will get caught warranting somebody's ice not to melt in any climate, or
somebody's razors to be safe in the hands of the youngest children.

I had an uneasy feeling, after giving this certificate. It might be all
right enough; but if it happened to end badly, I should always reproach
myself. There was a chance, certainly, that it would lead him or others
into danger or wretchedness. Any one who looked at this young man could
not fail to see that he was capable of fascinating and being fascinated.
Those large, dark eyes of his would sink into the white soul of a
young girl as the black cloth sunk into the snow in Franklin's famous
experiment. Or, on the other hand, if the rays of a passionate nature
should ever be concentrated on them, they would be absorbed into the
very depths of his nature, and then his blood would turn to flame and
burn his life out of him, until his cheeks grew as white as the ashes
that cover a burning coal.

I wish I had not said _either sex_ in my certificate. An academy for
young gentlemen, now; that sounds cool and unimaginative. A boys'
school; that would be a very good place for him;--some of them are
pretty rough, but there is nerve enough in that old Wentworth blood; he
can give any country fellow, of the common stock, twenty pounds, and hit
him out of time in ten minutes. But to send such a young fellow as that
out a girl's-nesting! to give this falcon a free pass into all the
dove-cotes! I was a fool,--that's all.

I brooded over the mischief which might come out of these two words
until it seemed to me that they were charged with destiny. I could
hardly sleep for thinking what a train I might have been laying, which
might take a spark any day, and blow up nobody knows whose peace or
prospects. What I dreaded most was one of those miserable matrimonial
misalliances where a young fellow who does not know himself as yet
flings his magnificent future into the checked apron-lap of some
fresh-faced, half-bred country-girl, no more fit to be mated with him
than her father's horse to go in double harness with Flora Temple. To
think of the eagle's wings being clipped so that he shall not ever
lift himself over the farm-yard fence! Such things happen, and always
must,--because, as one of us said awhile ago, a man always loves
a woman, and a woman a man, unless some good reason exists to the
contrary. You think yourself a very fastidious young man, my friend; but
there are probably at least five thousand young women in these United
States, any one of whom you would certainly marry, if you were thrown
much into her company, and nobody more attractive were near, and she had
no objection. And you, my dear young lady, justly pride yourself on your
discerning delicacy; but if I should say that there are twenty thousand
young men, any one of whom, if he offered his hand and heart under
favorable circumstances, you would

"First endure, then pity, then embrace,"

I should be much more imprudent than I mean to be, and you would, no
doubt, throw down a story in which I hope to interest you.

I had settled it in my mind that this young fellow had a career marked
out for him. He should begin in the natural way, by taking care of poor
patients in one of the public charities, and work his way up to a better
kind of practice,--better, that is, in the vulgar, worldly sense. The
great and good Boerhaave used to say, as I remember very well, that the
poor were his best patients; for God was their paymaster. But everybody
is not as patient as Boerhaave, nor as deserving; so that the rich,
though not, perhaps, the best patients, are good enough for common
practitioners. I suppose Boerhaave put up with them when he could not
get poor ones, as he left his daughter two millions of florins when he

Now if this young man once got into the _wide streets_, he would sweep
them clear of his rivals of the same standing; and as I was getting
indifferent to business, and old Dr. Kilham was growing careless, and
had once or twice prescribed morphine when he meant quinine, there would
soon he an opening into the Doctors' Paradise,--the _streets with only
one side to them_. Then I would have him strike a bold stroke,--set up a
nice little coach, and be driven round like a London first-class doctor,
instead of coasting about in a shabby one-horse concern and casting
anchor opposite his patients' doors like a Cape-Ann fishing-smack. By
the time he was thirty, he would have knocked the social pawns out of
his way, and be ready to challenge a wife from the row of great pieces
in the background. I would not have a man marry above his level, so as
to become the appendage of a powerful family-connection; but I would not
have him marry until he knew his level,--that is, again, looking at the
matter in a purely worldly point of view, and not taking the sentiments
at all into consideration. But remember, that a young man, using large
endowments wisely and fortunately, may put himself on a level with the
highest in the land in ten brilliant years of spirited, unflagging
labor. And even to stand at the very top of your calling in a great city
is something,--that is, if you like money and influence, and a seat on
the platform at public lectures, and gratuitous tickets to all sorts of
places where you don't want to go, and, what is a good deal better than
any of these things, a sense of power, limited, it may be, but absolute
in its range, so that all the Caesars and Napoleons would have to
stand aside, if they came between you and the exercise of your special

That is what I thought this young fellow might have come to; and now I
have let him go off into the country with my certificate, that he is fit
to teach in a school for either sex! Ten to one he will run like a moth
into a candle, right into one of those girls'-nests, and get tangled up
in some sentimental folly or other, and there will be the end of him.
Oh, yes! country doctor,--half a dollar a visit,--ride, ride, ride all
day,--get up at night and harness your own horse,--ride again ten miles
in a snow-storm,--shake powders out of two phials, (_pulv. glycyrrhiz.,
pulv. gum. acac. aa: partes equates_,)--ride back again, if you don't
happen to get stuck in a drift,--no home, no peace, no continuous meals,
no unbroken sleep, no Sunday, no holiday, no social intercourse, but one
eternal jog, jog, jog, in a sulky, until you feel like the mummy of an
Indian who had been buried in the sitting posture, and was dug up a
hundred years afterwards! "Why didn't I warn him about love and all
that nonsense?" Why didn't I tell him he had nothing to do with it, yet
awhile? Why didn't I hold up to him those awful examples I could have
cited, where poor young fellows that could just keep themselves afloat
have hung a matrimonial millstone round their necks, taking it for a

All this of two words in a certificate!



Through the silent streets of the city,
In the night's unbusy noon,
Up and down in the pallor
Of the languid summer moon,

I wander and think of the village,
And the house in the maple-gloom,
And the porch with the honeysuckles
And the sweet-brier all abloom.

My soul is sick with the fragrance
Of the dewy sweet-brier's breath:
Oh, darling! the house is empty,
And lonesomer than death!

If I call, no one will answer;
If I knock, no one will come;--
The feet are at rest forever,
And the lips are cold and dumb.

The summer moon is shining
So wan and large and still,
And the weary dead are sleeping
In the graveyard under the hill.


We looked at the wide, white circle
Around the autumn moon,
And talked of the change of weather,--
It would rain, to-morrow, or soon.

And the rain came on the morrow,
And beat the dying leaves
From the shuddering boughs of the maples
Into the flooded eaves.

The clouds wept out their sorrow;
But in my heart the tears
Are bitter for want of weeping,
In all these autumn years.


It is sweet to lie awake musing
On all she has said and done,
To dwell on the words she uttered,
To feast on the smiles I won,

To think with what passion at parting
She gave me my kisses again,--
Dear adieux, and tears and caresses,--
Oh, love! was it joy or pain?

To brood, with a foolish rapture,
On the thought that it must be
My darling this moment is waking
With tenderest thoughts of me!

O sleep I are thy dreams any sweeter?
I linger before thy gate:
We must enter at it together,
And my love is loath and late.


The bobolink sings in the meadow,
The wren in the cherry-tree:
Come hither, thou little maiden,
And sit upon my knee;

And I will tell thee a story
I read in a book of rhyme;--
I will but feign that it happened
To me, one summer-time,

When we walked through the meadow,
And she and I were young;--
The story is old and weary
With being said and sung.

The story is old and weary;--
Ah, child! is it known to thee?
Who was it that last night kissed thee
Under the cherry-tree?


Like a bird of evil presage,
To the lonely house on the shore
Came the wind with a tale of shipwreck,
And shrieked at the bolted door,

And flapped its wings in the gables,
And shouted the well-known names,
And buffeted the windows
Afeard in their shuddering frames.

It was night, and it is daytime,--
The morning sun is bland,
The white-cap waves come rocking, rocking,
In to the smiling land.

The white-cap waves come rocking, rocking,
In the sun so soft and bright,
And toss and play with the dead man
Drowned in the storm last night.


I remember the burning brushwood,
Glimmering all day long
Yellow and weak in the sunlight,
Now leaped up red and strong,

And fired the old dead chestnut,
That all our years had stood,
Gaunt and gray and ghostly,
Apart from the sombre wood;

And, flushed with sudden summer,
The leafless boughs on high
Blossomed in dreadful beauty
Against the darkened sky.

We children sat telling stories,
And boasting what we should be,
When we were men like our fathers,
And watched the blazing tree,

That showered its fiery blossoms,
Like a rain of stars, we said,
Of crimson and azure and purple.
That night, when I lay in bed,

I could not sleep for seeing,
Whenever I closed my eyes,
The tree in its dazzling splendor
Against the darkened skies.

I cannot sleep for seeing,
With closed eyes to-night,
The tree in its dazzling splendor
Dropping its blossoms bright;

And old, old dreams of childhood
Come thronging my weary brain.
Dear foolish beliefs and longings;--
I doubt, are they real again?

It is nothing, and nothing, and nothing,
That I either think or see;--
The phantoms of dead illusions
To-night are haunting me.


Even before the announcement of the discovery of gold upon the Frazer
River and its tributaries, the people of Canada West had induced the
Parliament of England to institute the inquiry, whether the region of
British America, extending from Lakes Superior and Winnipeg to the Rocky
Mountains, is not adapted by fertility of soil, a favorable climate,
and natural advantages of internal communication, for the support of a
prosperous colony of England.

The Parliamentary investigation had a wider scope. The select committee
of the House of Commons was appointed "to consider the state of those
British possessions in North America which are under the administration
of the Hudson Bay Company, or over which they possess a license to
trade"; and therefore witnesses were called to the organization and
management of the Company itself, as well as the natural features of the
country under its administration.

On the 31st of July, 1857, the committee reported a large body of
testimony, but without any decisive recommendations. They "apprehend
that the districts on the Red River and the Saskatchewan are among those
most likely to be desired for early occupation," and "trust that there
will be no difficulty in effecting arrangements between her Majesty's
government and the Hudson Bay Company, by which those districts may be
ceded to Canada on equitable principles, and within the districts thus
annexed to her the authority of the Hudson Bay Company would of course
entirely cease." They deemed it "proper to terminate the connection
of the Hudson Bay Company with Vancouver Island as soon as it could
conveniently be done, as the best means of favoring the development of
the great natural advantages of that important colony; and that means
should also be provided for the ultimate extension of the colony
over any portion of the adjacent continent, to the west of the Rocky
Mountains, on which permanent settlement may be found practicable."

These suggestions indicate a conviction that the zone of the North
American continent between latitudes 49 deg. and 55 deg., embracing the Red
River and the Saskatchewan districts, east of the Rocky Mountains, and
the area on their western slope, since organized as British Columbia,
was, in the judgment of the committee, suitable for permanent
settlement. As to the territory north of the parallel of 55 deg., an opinion
was intimated, that the organization of the Hudson's Bay Company was
best adapted to the condition of the country and its inhabitants.

Within a year after the publication of this report, a great change
passed over the North Pacific coast. The gold discovery on Frazer's
River occurred; the Pacific populations flamed with excitement; British
Columbia was promptly organized as a colony of England; and, amid
the acclamations of Parliament and people, Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton
proclaimed, in the name of the government, the policy of continuous
colonies from Lake Superior to the Pacific, and a highway across British
America, as the most direct route from London to Pekin or Jeddo.

The eastern boundary of British Columbia was fixed upon the Rocky
Mountains. The question recurred, with great force, What shall be the
destiny of the fertile plains of the Saskatchewan and the Red River of
the North? Canada pushed forward an exploration of the route from Fort
William, on Lake Superior, to Fort Garry, on the Red River, and, under
the direction of S.J. Dawson, Esq., civil engineer, and Professor J.Y.
Hinde, gave to the world an impartial and impressive summary of the
great natural resources of the basin of Lake Winnipeg. The merchants of
New York were prompt to perceive the advantages of connecting the Erie
Canal and the Great Lakes--with the navigable channels of Northwest
America, now become prominent and familiar designations of commercial
geography. A report to the New York Chamber of Commerce very distinctly
corrected the erroneous impression, that the valleys of the Mississippi
and St. Lawrence rivers exhausted the northern and central areas which
are available for agriculture. "There is in the heart of North America,"
said the report, "a distinct subdivision, of which Lake Winnipeg may
be regarded as the centre. This subdivision, like the valley of the
Mississippi, is distinguished for the fertility of its soil, and for the
extent and gentle slope of its great plains, watered by rivers of great
length, and admirably adapted for steam-navigation. It has a climate not
exceeding in severity that of many portions of Canada and the Eastern
States. It will, in all respects, compare favorably with some of the
most densely peopled portions of the continent of Europe. In other
words, it is admirably fitted to become the seat of a numerous,
hardy, and prosperous community. It has an area equal to eight or ten
first-class American States. Its great river, the Saskatchewan, carries
a navigable water-line to the very base of the Rocky Mountains. It is
not at all improbable that the valley of this river may yet offer the
best route for a railroad to the Pacific. The navigable waters of this
great subdivision interlock with those of the Mississippi. The Red River
of the North, in connection with Lake Winnipeg, into which it falls,
forms a navigable water-line, extending directly north and south nearly
eight hundred miles. The Red River is one of the best adapted to the use
of steam in the world, and waters one of the finest prairie regions on
the continent. Between the highest point at which it is navigable, and
St. Paul, on the Mississippi, a railroad is in process of construction;
and when this road is completed, another grand division of the
continent, comprising half a million square miles, will be open to

The sanguine temper of these remarks illustrates the rapid progress
of public sentiment since the date of the Parliamentary inquiry, only
eighteen months before. Of the same tenor, though fuller in details,
were the publications on the subject in Canada and even in England. The
year 1859 opened with greatly augmented interest in the district of
Central British America. The manifestation of this interest varied with
localities and circumstances.

In Canada, no opportunity was omitted, either in Parliament or by the
press, to demonstrate the importance to the Atlantic and Lake Provinces
of extending settlements into the prairies of Assinniboin and
Saskatchewan,--thereby affording advantages to Provincial commerce and
manufactures like those which the communities of the Mississippi valley
have conferred upon the older American States. Nevertheless, the
Canadian government declined to institute proceedings before the English
Court of Chancery or Queen's Bench, to determine the validity of the
charter of the Hudson's Bay Company,--assigning, as reasons for not
acceding to such a suggestion by the law-officers of the crown, that
the proposed litigation might be greatly protracted, while the public
interests involved were urgent,--and that the duty of a prompt and
definite adjustment of the condition and relations of the Red River
and Saskatchewan districts was manifestly incumbent upon the Imperial

This decision, added to the indisposition of Lower Canada to the policy
of westward expansion, is understood to have convinced Sir E.B. Lytton
that annexation of the Winnipeg basin to Canada was impracticable, and
that the exclusive occupation by the Hudson's Bay Company could be
removed only by the organization of a separate colony. The founder of
British Columbia devoted the latter portion of his administration of
the Colonial Office to measures for the satisfactory arrangement of
conflicting interests in British America. In October, 1858, he proposed
to the directors of the Hudson's Bay Company that they should be
consenting parties to a reference of questions respecting the validity
and extent of their charter, and respecting the geographical extent of
their territory, to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. The
Company "reasserted their right to the privileges granted to them by
their charter of incorporation," and refused to be a consenting party to
any proceeding which might call in question their chartered rights.

Under date of November 3, 1858, Lord Caernarvon, Secretary of State for
the Colonies, by the direction of Sir E.B. Lytton, returned a dispatch,
the tenor of which is a key not only to Sir Edward's line of policy,
but, in all probability, to that of his successor, the Duke of
Newcastle. Lord Caernarvon began by expressing the disappointment and
regret with which Sir E.B. Lytton had received the communication,
containing, if he understood its tenor correctly, a distinct refusal on
the part of the Hudson's Bay Company to entertain any proposal with a
view of adjusting the conflicting claims of Great Britain, of Canada,
and of the Company, or to join with her Majesty's government in
affording reasonable facilities for the settlement of the questions in
which Imperial no less than Colonial interests were involved. It had
been his anxious desire to come to some equitable and conciliatory
agreement, by which all legitimate claims of the Company should be
fairly considered with reference to the territories or the privileges
they might be required to surrender. He suggested that such a procedure,
while advantageous to the interests of all parties, might prove
particularly for the interest of the Hudson's Bay Company. "It
would afford a tribunal preeminently fitted for the dispassionate
consideration of the questions at issue; it would secure a decision
which would probably be rather of the nature of an arbitration than of
a judgment; and it would furnish a basis of negotiation on which
reciprocal concession and the claims for compensation could be most
successfully discussed."

With such persuasive reiteration, Lord Caernarvon, in the name and at
the instance of Sir E.B. Lytton, insisted that the wisest and most
dignified course would be found in an appeal to and a decision by the
Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, with the concurrence alike of
Canada and the Hudson's Bay Company. In conclusion, the Company were
once more assured, that, if they would meet Sir E.B. Lytton in finding
the solution of a recognized difficulty, and would undertake to give all
reasonable facilities for trying the validity of their disputed charter,
they might be assured that they would meet with fair and liberal
treatment, so far as her Majesty's government was concerned; but if,
on the other hand, the Company persisted in declining these terms, and
could suggest no other practicable mode of agreement, Sir E.B. Lytton
held himself acquitted of further responsibility to the interests of
the Company, and proposed to take the necessary steps for closing a
controversy too long open, and for securing a definitive decision, due
alike to the material development of British North America and to the
requirements of an advancing civilization.

The communication of Lord Caernarvon stated in addition, that, in the
case last supposed, the renewal of the exclusive license to trade in
any part of the Indian territory--a renewal which could be justified
to Parliament only as part of a general agreement adjusted on the
principles of mutual concession--would become impossible.

These representations failed to influence the Company. The
Deputy-Governor, Mr. H.H. Barens, responded, that, as, in 1850, the
Company had assented to an inquiry before the Privy Council into the
legality of certain powers claimed and exercised by them under their
charter, but not questioning the validity of the charter itself, so, at
this time, if the reference to the Privy Council were restricted to the
question of the geographical extent of the territory claimed by the
Company, in accordance with a proposition made in July, 1857, by Mr.
Labouchere, then Secretary of State for the Colonies, the directors
would recommend to their shareholders to concur in the course suggested;
but must decline to do so, if the inquiry involved not merely the
question of the geographical boundary of the territories claimed by
them, but a challenge of the validity of the charter itself, and, as a
consequence, of the rights and privileges which it professed to grant,
and which the Company had exercised for a period of nearly two hundred
years. Mr. Barens professed that the Company had at all times been
willing to entertain any proposal that might be made to them for the
surrender of any of their rights or of any portion of their territory;
but he regarded it as one thing to consent for a consideration to be
agreed upon to the surrender of admitted rights, and quite another to
volunteer a consent to an inquiry which should call those rights in

A result of this correspondence has been the definite refusal of the
Crown to renew the exclusive license to trade in Indian territory.
The license had been twice granted to the Company, under an act of
Parliament authorizing it, for periods of twenty-one years,--once
in 1821, and again in 1838. It expired on the 30th of May, 1859. In
consequence of this refusal, the Company must depend exclusively upon
the terms of their charter for their special privileges in British
America. The charter dates from 1670,--a grant by Charles II. to Prince
Rupert and his associates, "adventurers of England, trading into
Hudson's Bay,"--and is claimed to give the right of exclusive trade and
of territorial dominion to Hudson's Bay and tributary rivers. By the
expiration of the exclusive license of Indian trade, and the termination
in 1859 of the lease of Vancouver's Island from the British government,
the sway and influence of the Company are greatly restricted, and the
feasibility of some permanent adjustment is proportionately increased.

There is no necessity for repeating here the voluminous argument for and
against the charter of the Hudson's Bay Company. The interest of British
colonization in Northwest America far transcends any technical inquiry
of the kind, and the Canadian statesmen are wise in declining to relieve
the English cabinet from the obligation to act definitely and speedily
upon the subject. The organization of the East India Company was no
obstacle to a measure demanded by the honor of England and the welfare
of India; and certainly the parchment of the Second Charles will
not deter any deliberate expression by Parliament in regard to the
colonization of Central British America. Indeed, the managers of the
Hudson's Bay Company are always careful to recognize the probability of
a compromise with the government. The late letter of Mr. Barens to Lord
Caernarvon expressed a willingness, at any time, to entertain proposals
for the surrender of franchises or territory; and in 1848, Sir J.H.
Pelly, Governor of the Company, thus expressed himself in a letter to
Lord Grey:--"As far as I am concerned, (and I think the Company will
concur, if any great national benefit would be expected from it,) I
would be willing to relinquish the whole of the territory held under the
charter on similar terms to those which it is proposed the East India
Company shall receive on the expiration of their charter,--namely,
securing the proprietors an interest on their capital of ten per cent."

At the adjournment of the Canadian Parliament and the retirement of the
Derby Ministry, in the early part of 1859, the position and prospects of
English colonization in Northwest America were as follows:--

1. Vancouver's Island and British Columbia had passed from the
occupation of the Hudson's Bay Company into an efficient colonial
organization. The gold-fields of the interior had been ascertained to
equal in productiveness, and greatly to exceed in extent, those of
California. The prospect for agriculture was no less favorable,--while
the commercial importance of Vancouver and the harbors of Puget's Sound
is unquestionable.

2. The eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains and the valleys of the
Saskatchewan and Red River were shown by explorations, conducted under
the auspices of the London Geographical Society and the Canadian
authorities, to be a district of nearly four hundred thousand square
miles, in which a fertile soil, favorable climate, useful and precious
minerals, fur-bearing and food-yielding animals, in a word, the most
lavish gifts of Nature, constituted highly satisfactory conditions for
the organization and settlement of a prosperous community.

3. In regard to the Hudson's Bay Company, a disposition prevailed not to
disturb its charter, on condition that its directory made no attempts
to enforce an exclusive trade or to interfere with the progress of
settlements. All parties anticipated Parliamentary action. Letters from
London spoke with confidence of a bill, drafted and in circulation
among members of Parliament, for the erection of a colony between Lakes
Superior and Winnipeg and the eastern limits of British Columbia, with
a northern boundary resting on the parallel of 55 deg.; and which, although
postponed by a change of ministry, was understood to represent the views
of the Duke of Newcastle, the successor of Sir E.B. Lytton.

4. In Canada West, a system of communication from Fort William to Fort
Garry, and thence to the Pacific, was intrusted to a company--the
"Northwest Transit"--which was by no means inactive. A mail to Red
River, over the same route, was also sustained from the Canadian
treasury; and Parliament, among the acts of its previous session, had
conceded a charter for a line of telegraph through the valleys of the
Saskatchewan, with a view to an extension to the Pacific coast, and even
to Asiatic Russia.

Simultaneously with these movements in England and Canada, the citizens
of the State of Minnesota, after a winter of active discussion,
announced a determination to introduce steam-navigation on the Red
River of the North. Parties were induced to transport the machinery
and cabins, with timber for the hull of a steamer, from the Upper
Mississippi, near Crow Wing, to the mouth of the Cheyenne, on the Red
River, where the boat was reconstructed. The first voyage of the steamer
was from Fort Abercrombie, an American post two hundred miles northwest
of Saint Paul, _down north_ to Fort Garry, during the month of June. The
reception of the stranger was attended by extraordinary demonstrations
of enthusiasm at Selkirk. The bells of Saint Boniface rang greeting,
and Fort Garry blasted powder, as if the Governor of the Company were
approaching its portal. This unique, but interesting community, fully
appreciated the fact that steam had brought their interests within the
circle of the world's activities.

This incident was the legitimate sequel to events in Minnesota which had
transpired during a period of ten years. Organized as a Territory in
1849, a single decade had brought the population, the resources, and the
public recognition of an American State. A railroad system, connecting
the lines of the Lake States and Provinces at La Crosse with the
international frontier on the Red River at Pembina, was not only
projected, but had secured in aid of its construction a grant by the
Congress of the United States of three thousand eight hundred and
forty acres a mile, and a loan of State credit to the amount of twenty
thousand dollars a mile, not exceeding an aggregate of five million
dollars. Different sections of this important extension of the
Canadian and American railways were under contract and in process of
construction. In addition, the land-surveys of the Federal government
had reached the navigable channel of the Red River; and the line of
frontier settlement, attended by a weekly mail, had advanced to the same
point. Thus the government of the United States, no less than the
people and authorities of Minnesota, were represented in this Northwest

Still, its consummation rests with the people and Parliament of England.
Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton was prepared with a response to his own
memorable query,--"What will he do with it?" Shall the Liberal party be
less prompt and resolute in advancing the policy, announced from the
throne in 1858, of an uninterrupted series of British colonies across
the continent of North America? This will be determined by the
Parliamentary record of 1860.



Once on a time a maiden dwelt with her father,--they two, and no
more,--in a rude log-cabin on the skirts of a grand old Western
forest,--majestic mountains behind them, and the broad, free prairie in

Cut off from all Christian companionship and the informing influences
of civilized arts, all their news was of red men and of game, their
entertainments the ever-varying moods of Nature, their labors of the
rudest, their dangers familiar, their solacements simple and solitary.
Alone the sturdy hunter beat the woods all day, on the track of
panthers, bears, and deer; alone, all day, his pretty daughter kept the
house against perils without and despondency within,--the gun and the
broom alike familiar to her hand.

Commissioned to illumine the murk wilderness around her with the glow
of her Christian loveliness and faith, Nature had touched her with
inspirations of refinement, with a culture as unconscious as the growing
of the grass, and the clear intuitions of a spiritual life full of
heaven-born inclinations. Nature, too, had endowed her with fine lines
of beauty, attitudes of grace, movements of dignity and love, and all
the charmfulness that had learned its shapes from flowers and its arts
from birds. Nature's officers, the elements, had bestowed on her each
his appropriate gift,--the Air its crispness, the Earth its variety, the
Sun its brightness and its ruddy glow, the very Water from the well its
freshness and its fluent forms; the stars repeated their friendliness in
her eyes, the grass dimpled her pliant feet, the breeze tossed her brown
hair in triumphs of the unstudied becoming, and from the wildness all
about her she had her wit and her delightful ways; Morning lent her her
cheerfulness, Evening her pensiveness, and Night her soul.

But Night, that had given her the Christian soul, true and wise,
self-reliant and aspiring, brought also the surprise and the peril that
should put it to the proof; for once, when the hunter was belated on his
path, and sudden midnight had caught him beyond the mountain, far
from the rest of his hearth and the song of his darling, came the red
Pawnees, a treacherous crew,--doubly godless because ungrateful, who had
broken the hunter's bread and slept on the hunter's blanket,--and laid
waste his hearth, and stole away his very heart. For they dragged her
many a fearful mile of darkness and distraction, through the black
woods, and grim recesses of the rocks; and there they stripped her
naked, and bound her to a stake, as the day was breaking. But the
Christian heart was within her, and the Christian soul upheld her, and
the Christian's God was by her side; and so she stood, and waited, and
was brave.

And here still she stands, as the sculptor's soul sat down before her,
in a vision of faith and tenderness, to receive her image,--stands and
waits for the pity and the help of you and me, her brothers and her
lovers. We long to rescue her and take her to our hearts; we are touched
by her predicament, as Michelet tells us the heart of the beholder is
moved by the bound Andromeda of Puget,--that great artist in whom
dwelt the suffering soul of a depraved age, and who all his life long
sculptured forlorn captives,--"Ah, would I had been there to rescue the

But we are told of the Andromeda, that, unconscious and almost dead, she
knows not where she is, nor who has come to set her free; for, paralyzed
by the chafing of her chains, and even more by fear, she cannot stand,
and seems utterly exhausted.

Not so with our Andromeda. Horror possesses her, but indignation also;
she is terrified, but brave; she shrinks, but she repels; and while all
her beautiful body trembles and retreats, her countenance confronts her
captors, and her steady gaze forbids them. "Touch me not!" she says,
with every shuddering limb and every tensely-braced muscle, with
lineaments all eloquent with imperious disgust,--"Touch me not!"

Her lips quiver, and tears are in her eyes, (we do not forget that it
is of marble we are speaking,--there _are_ tears in her eyes,) but they
only linger there; she is not weeping now; her chin trembles, and one of
her hands is convulsively clenched,--but it is with the anguish of her
sore besetting, not the spasm of mortal fear. Though Heaven and Earth,
indeed, might join to help her, we yet know that the soul of the maiden
will help itself,--that her hope clings fast, and her courage is
undaunted, and her faith complete.

Among her thronged emotions we look in vain for shame. Her nakedness is
a coarse chance of her overwhelming situation, for which she is no more
concerned than for her galled wrists or her dishevelled hair. What is it
to such a queen as she, that the eyes of grinning brutes are blessed by
her perfect beauties?

The qualities which constitute true greatness in a statue such as this
are, if we apprehend them aright,--first, that sublime simplicity of
Idea which omnipotently sways the beholder, and alike inspires his
coarseness or his culture; next, that personality, that moving humanness
of feeling, which holds him by his very heart-strings, and makes him
forget its marble, to accept its flesh and blood; and, finally, that
wondrous skill of nice manipulation, which, neglecting nothing in the
myriad of anatomical and physiological details,--not even the faintest
sigh or the dimmest tremor,--tells, fibre by fibre, a tale that all may
read, and comes to us with a story "to hold children from play and old
men from the chimney-corner."

Tried by this definition, we believe the "White Captive" proves its
claim to genuine greatness, and that it will presently take its place,
with the world's consent, in the front rank of modern statues,--good
among the best, in the flesh-and-bloodness and the soul of it. It is
original, it is faithful, it is American; our women may look upon it,
and say, "She is one of us," with more satisfaction than the Greek women
could have derived from the Venus de' Medici, with its insignificant
head and its impossible spine.

Especially true to the American type, as compared in statues with the
familiar Greek, the head of the "White Captive" is large; but that it
is too large, or in excess of the least of a thousand female heads that
have been gathered around it since it was first exposed to the
public scrutiny, we have failed to discover in repeated and careful
examinations; and we are constrained to commend such as may be exercised
on that point to the critical flippancies of the jaunty gentlemen who
find the hips at once too broad and too narrow, the bosom too full and
too young, the arms too meagre and too stout.


We call the attention of our readers to a series of twelve photographic
views of forest and lake scenery published by Mr. J.W. Black, Boston,
from negatives taken by Mr. Stillman in the Adirondack country. The
points of view are chosen with the fine feeling of an artist, and the
tangled profusion and grace of the forest, with the moment's whim of
sunfleck and shadow, are given with exquisite delicacy. Whatever
the all-beholding sun could see in those woodland depths we have
here,--sketches of the shaggy Pan snatched at unawares in sleep. One may
study these pictures till he becomes as familiar as a squirrel with fern
and tree-bark and moose-wood and lichen, till he knows every trunk and
twig and leaf as intimately as a sunbeam.


_Plutarch's Lives._ The Translation called Dryden's. Corrected from the
Greek, and Revised, by A.H. CLOUGH, sometime Fellow and Tutor of
Oriel College, Oxford, and late Professor of the English Language and
Literature at University College, London. Boston: Little, Brown, &
Company. 1859. Five vols. 8vo.

In these five handsome volumes, we have, at length, a really good
edition in English of Plutarch's Lives. One of the most delightful books
in the world, one of the few universal classics, appears for the first
time in our language in a translation worthy of its merits.

Mr. Clough, whose name is well known, not only by scholars, but also by
the lovers of poetry, has performed the work of editor with admirable
diligence, fidelity, and taste. The labor of revision has been neither
slight nor easy. It has, indeed, amounted to not much less than would
have been required for the making of a new translation. The versions in
the translation that bears Dryden's name, made, as they were, by various
hands, and apparently not submitted to the revision of any competent
scholar, were unequal in execution, and were disfigured by many
mistakes, as well as by much that was slovenly in style. At the time
they were made, scholarship in England was not at a high point. Bentley
had not yet lifted it out of mediocrity, and the translators were not
stimulated by the fear either of severe criticism or of comparison
of their labors with any superior work. The numerous defects of this
translation are spoken of by the Langhornes, in the Preface to their
own, with a somewhat jealous severity, which gives unusual vigor to
their sentences. "The diversities of style," say they, "were not the
greatest fault of this strange translation. It was full of the grossest
errors. Ignorance on the one hand, and hastiness or negligence on the
other, had filled it with absurdities in every Life, and inaccuracies on
almost every page." This is a hard, perhaps an extreme judgment; but it
serves to show the difficulties that would attend a revision of such a
work. These difficulties Mr. Clough has fairly met and overcome. We
do not mean to say that he has reduced the whole book to a perfect
uniformity, or even to entire elegance and exactness of style; but he
has corrected inaccuracies, he has removed the chief marks of negligence
or haste; and, after a careful comparison of a considerable portion of
the work as it now appears with the Greek text, we have no hesitation in
saying that this translation answers not merely to the demands of
modern scholarship, but forms a book at once essentially accurate and
delightful for common reading.[A] We think, moreover, that Mr. Clough
was right in choosing the so-called Dryden's translation as the basis of
his work. Its style is not old enough to have become antiquated, while
yet it possesses much of the savor and raciness of age. The book
is interesting from Dryden's connection with it, but still more
so--considering how slight that connection was, his only contribution to
it being the Life of Plutarch--from the fact, that the translations of
some of the Lives were made by famous men, as that of Alcibiades by Lord
Chancellor Somers, and that of Alexander by the excellent John Evelyn;
while others were made by men who, if not famous, are at least well
remembered by the lovers of the literature of the time,--as that of
Numa by Sir Paul Rycaut, the Turkey merchant, and the continuer of Dr.
Johnson's favorite history of the Turks,--that of Otho by Pope's friend,
the medical poet, Dr. Garth,--that of Solon by Creech, the translator of
Lucretius,--that of Lysander by the Honorable Charles Boyle, whose name
is preserved in the alcohol of Bentley's classical satire,--and that of
Themistocles by Edward, the son of Sir Thomas Browne.

[Footnote A: For the sake of illustration of the care and labor given by
Mr. Clough to the revision, we open at random on the Life of Dion, Vol.
V., p. 291, and, comparing it with the original _Dryden_, we find, that
in ten pages, to the end of the Life, there are but three, and they
short sentences, in which changes of more or less consequence have not
been made. These changes amount sometimes to entire new translation,
sometimes consist merely in the correction of a few words. Throughout,
the hand of the thorough scholar is apparent. The earlier volumes of the
series would, probably, rarely exhibit such considerable alterations.]

But Mr. Clough's labors have not been merely those of reviser and
corrector. He has added greatly to the value of the work by occasional
concise foot-notes, as well as by notes contained in an appendix to each
volume. So excellent, indeed, are these notes, so full of learning and
information, conveyed in an agreeable way, that we cannot but feel a
regret (not often excited by commentators) that their number is not
greater. In addition to these, the fifth volume contains a very
carefully prepared and full Index of Proper Names, which is followed by
a list for reference as to their pronunciation.

When this version, to which Dryden gave his name, was made, there was no
other in English but that of Sir Thomas North, which had been made, not
from the Greek, but from the French of Amyot, and was first published in
1579. It was a good work for its time, and worthy of being dedicated to
Queen Elizabeth, although, as the knight declares, "she could better
understand it in Greek than any man can make it English." Its style is
rather robust than elegant, partaking of the manly vigor of the language
of its time, and now and then exhibiting something of that charm of
quaint simplicity which belongs to its original, Montaigne's favorite
Amyot. "Of all our French writers," says the incomparable essayist,
"I give, with justice, I think, the palm to Jacques Amyot";[B] and
thereupon he goes on to praise the purity of his style, as well as the
depth of his learning and judgment. But, although Amyot had "a true
imagination" of his author, he was not always exact in giving his
meaning. The learned Dr. Guy Patin says: "On dit que M. de Meziriac
avoit corrige dans son Amyot huit mille fautes, et qu'Amyot n'avoit
pas de bons exemplaires, ou qu'il n'avoit pas bien entendu le Grec de

[Footnote B: _Essays_, Book II. 4.]

[Footnote C: _Patiniana_.]

Amyot's eight thousand errors were not diminished in passing into Sir
Thomas North's English; but their number mattered little to the readers
of those days, who found in the thick folio enough of interest to spare
them from making inquiry as to the exactness of its rendering of the
meaning of Plutarch. From the time of its first publication, for more
than a hundred years, it was one of the most popular books of the
period, as was proved by the appearance of six successive editions in
folio.[D] Some of these clumsy volumes may, no doubt, have been put
to uses as ignoble as that which Chrysale, in "Les Femmes Savantes,"
suggests for his sister's similar copy of Amyot:--

"Vos livres eternels ne me contentent pas;
Et, hors un gros Plutarque a mettre mes rabats,
Vous devriez bruler tout ce meuble inutile";--

but duller books of the same size, of which there were many in those
days of patient readers, would have had an equal value for such
economical purposes as this, and "The Lives of the Noble Grecians and
Romans by that Grave Learned Philosopher & Historiographer Plutarch"
were too entertaining to young and old to be left for any length of time
quietly upon the shelf. They were the familiar reading of boys who
were to become the actors in the great drama of the Rebellion and the
Commonwealth, or who a little later were to frequent the dissolute court
of Charles, presenting in their own lives, whether in camp or court, as
patriots or as traitors, parallels to those which they had read in the
weighty pages of the old biographer.

[Footnote D: In 1579, 1595, 1602, 1631, 1657, 1676. Mr. Hooper, in his
Introduction to Chapman's Homer, London, 1857, says, that "the edition
of 1657 was published under the superintendence of the illustrious
Selden." We do not know his authority for this statement. The fact, if
it be one, is very remarkable, as Selden's death took place in 1654.]

Nor in more recent times has North's version failed of admirers. Godwin
declared, that, till this book fell into his hands, he had no genuine
feeling of Plutarch's merits, or knowledge of what sort of a writer he
was. But the chief interest of this translation at the present day,
except what it possesses as a storehouse of good mother-English, comes
from the fact that it was one of the books of Shakespeare's moderate
library, and one which he had thoroughly read, as is manifest from the
use that he made of it in his own works, especially in "Coriolanus,"
"Julius Caesar," and "Antony and Cleopatra." It was from the worthy
knight's folio that he got much of his little Latin and less Greek. He
helped himself freely to what was to his purpose; and a comparison of
the passages which he borrowed from with the scenes founded upon them is
interesting, as showing his use of the very words of the author before
him, and as exhibiting the new appearances which those words take on
under his plastic hand. We have no space for long extracts; but a short
illustration will serve to show that Shakespeare is the best translator
of Plutarch into English that we have had. Compare these two passages:--

"Therefore, when she [Cleopatra] was sent unto by divers letters, both
from Antonius himself and also from his friends, she made so light of
it, and mocked Antonius so much, that she disdained to set forward
otherwise, but to take her barge in the river of Cydnus; the poop
whereof was of gold, the sails of purple, and the oars of silver, which
kept stroke in rowing after the sound of the musick of flutes, bowboys,
citherns, viols, and such other instruments as they played upon in the
barge. And now for the person of herself, she was laid under a pavillion
of cloth of gold of tissue, apparelled and attired like the goddess
Venus, commonly drawn in picture; and hard by her, on either hand of
her, pretty fair boys apparelled as painters do set forth god Cupid,
with little fans in their hands, with which they fanned wind upon her.
Her ladies and gentlewomen also, the fairest of them were apparelled
like the Nymphs Nereides (which are the Myrmaids of the waters) and like
the Graces; some steering the helm, others tending the tackle and ropes
of the barge, out of the which there came a wonderful passing sweet
savour of perfumes, that perfumed the wharf's side, pestered with
innumerable multitudes of people. Some of them followed the barge all
along the river side; others also ran out of the city to see her coming
in. So that in the end there ran such multitudes of people one
after another to see her, that Antonius was left post alone in the
market-place, in his imperial seat to give audience."--NORTH'S
_Plutarch, Life of Antonius_, p. 763. Ed. of 1676.

_Enobarbus._ When she first met Mark Antony, she pursed up his heart
upon the river of Cydnus.

_Agrippa._ There she appeared, indeed; or my reporter devised well for

_Eno._ I will tell you.
The barge she sat in, like a burnish'd throne,
Burnt on the water: the poop was beaten gold;
Purple the sails, and so perfumed that
The winds were lovesick; with them the oars were silver,
Which to the tune of flutes kept stroke, and made
The water, which they beat, to follow faster,
As amorous of their strokes. For her own person,
It beggar'd all description: she did lie
In her pavilion, (cloth of gold, of tissue,)
O'er-picturing that Venus where we see
The fancy outwork Nature: on each side her
Stood pretty dimpled boys, like smiling Cupids,
With divers-color'd fans, whose wind did seem
To glow the delicate cheeks which they did cool,
And what they undid, did.

_Agr._ Oh, rare for Antony!

_Eno._ Her gentlewomen, like the Nereids,
So many mermaids, tended her i' the eyes,
And made their bends adornings: at the helm
A seeming mermaid steers; the silken tackle
Swell with the touches of those flower-soft hands,
That yarely frame the office. From the barge
A strange invisible perfume hits the sense
Of the adjacent wharfs. The city cast
Her people out upon her, and Antony,
Enthron'd i' th' market-place, did sit alone,
Whistling to the air, which, but for vacancy,
Had gone to gaze on Cleopatra too,
And made a gap in Nature.

_Antony and Cleopatra_. Act II. Sc. 2.

The operations of Shakespeare's creative imagination are rarely to be
observed more distinctly than in such instances as this, where we see
the precise source from which he drew, in all its original limitations
and native character. Books were to him like ingots of gold, which,
passing through the mint of his brain, came out thence stamped coin,
current for all time. Viewing some of his plays, it may be said, with no
real, though with apparent contradiction, that no man ever borrowed more
from books, and yet none ever owed less to them. For the Roman times
Plutarch served him, as Holinshed and Hall supplied him for his English
histories. Under Plutarch's guidance he walked through the streets of
ancient Rome, and became familiar with the conduct of her men. He is
more Roman than Plutarch himself, and by divine right of imagination he
makes himself a citizen of the Eternal City. While Shakespeare was using
Plutarch to such advantage, on the other hand, Ben Jonson seems to have
borrowed little or nothing from him in his Roman plays. He got what he
wanted out of the Latin authors, and he succeeded in Latinizing his
plays,--in giving to his characters the dress, but not the spirit of

It was toward the end of the seventeenth century that Dryden's
translation appeared, and for about fifty years it held much the same
place with the reading public that North's had filled for previous
generations. It was, no doubt, in this version that Mrs. Fitzpatrick
amused herself during her seclusion in Ireland, as she tells Sophia
Western, with reading "a great deal in Plutarch's Lives." But this was
at length superseded by the translation of the brothers Langhorne,
which, spite of its want of vivacity, its labored periods, and formal
narrative, has retained its place as the popular version of Plutarch up
to the present day. One can hardly help wishing--so little of Plutarch's
spirit survives in their dull pages--that a similar fate had overtaken
these excellent men to that which carried off the gentle Abbe Ricard
with the _grippe_, when he had published but half of his translation of
the Philosopher of Cheronaea.

It is a proof of the intrinsic charm of Plutarch's Lives, that thus,
notwithstanding the imperfect manner in which they have been, up to this
time, presented to English readers, they should have been so constantly
and so generally read.[E] They have given equal delight to all ages and
to all classes. The heavy folio has been taken from its place on the
lower shelves in the quiet libraries of English country-houses, and been
read by old men at their firesides, by girls in trim gardens, by boys
who cared for no other classic. The cheap double-column octavo has
travelled in peddlers' carts to all the villages of New England, to
the backwoodsman's cabin in the West. It has taken its place on the
clock-shelf, with only the Bible, the "Pilgrim's Progress," and the
Almanac for its companions. No other classic author, with, perhaps, the
single exception of Aesop, has been so widely read in modern times; and
the popular knowledge of the men of Greece and Rome is derived more
from Plutarch than from all other ancient authors put together. The
often-repeated saying of Theodore Gaza, who, being once asked, if
learning should suffer a general shipwreck, and he had the choice of
saving one author, which he would select, is said to have replied,
"Plutarch,"--"and probably might give this reason," says Dryden, "that
in saving him he should secure the best collection of them all,"--this
saying is but a sort of prophecy of the decision of the common world,
who have chosen Plutarch from all the rest, and find, as Amyot says, "no
one else so profitable and so pleasant to read as he."[F]

[Footnote E: We have not spoken of Mr. Long's translations of Select
Lives from Plutarch, which were published in the series of Knight's
Weekly Volumes, under the title of _The Civil Wars of Rome_, because,
although executed in a manner deserving the highest praise, they
presented to English readers but a limited number of Plutarch's
biographies. Mr. Clough says, justly, in his Preface, that his own work
would not have been needed, had not Mr. Long confined his translations
within so narrow a compass.]

[Footnote F: "De tous les auteurs," says the Baron de Grimm, "qui nous
restent de l'antiquite, Plutarque est, sans contredit, celui qui a
recueilli le plus de verites de fait et de speculation. Ses oeuvres sont
une mine inepuisable de lumieres et de connaissance; c'est vraiment
l'encyclopedie des anciens." _Memoires Historiques_, etc., I., 312.]

Nor is it merely the common mass of readers who have chosen Plutarch as
their favorite ancient. The list of great and famous men who have made
him their companion is a long one. Men of action and men of thought have
taken equal satisfaction in his pages. Petrarch, the first scholar of
the Revival, held him in high esteem, and drew from him much of his
uncommon learning. Erasmus, the first scholar of the Reformation, made
his writings a special study, and translated from the Greek a large
portion of his Moral Works. Montaigne has taken pains to tell us of his
affection for him, and his Essays are full of the proofs of it. "I never
seriously settled myself," he says, "to the reading of any book of
solid learning but Plutarch and Seneca."[G] And in another essay he
adds,--"The familiarity I have had with these two authors, and the
assistance they have lent to my age, and to my book wholly built up of
what I have taken from them, oblige me to stand up for their honor."[H]
And again he declares,--"The hooks I chiefly use to form my opinions are
Plutarch, since he became French, and Seneca."[I] The genial humanity
and liberal wisdom of Plutarch claimed the sympathy of Montaigne, while
his discursive style and love of story-telling suited no less the taste
of his disciple. Montaigne, as it were, makes Plutarch a modern, and
uses his books to illustrate the passing times. He introduces him to new
characters, and reads his judgment upon them. He finds in him a hundred
things that others had not seen. It is a wide step from Montaigne
to Rousseau, and yet, spite of the naturalness of the one and the
artificiality of the other, there were some points of resemblance
between them, and they harmonize in their love for a common master,
Rousseau has written of Plutarch as Montaigne felt,--"Dans le petit
nombre de livres que je lis quelquefois encore, Plutarque est celui
qui m'attache et me profite le plus. Ce fut la premiere lecture de mon
enfance, et sera la derniere de ma vieillesse; c'est presque le seul
auteur que je n'ai jamais lu sans en tirer quelque fruit."[J] Plutarch's
Lives was one of the few books recommended to Catharine II. of Russia,
as she herself tells us, wherewith to solace and instruct herself during
the first wretched years of her miserable married life. It is, perhaps,
not impossible to trace in some passages of her later life the results
of what she then read.

[Footnote G: _Essays._ Book I., Chapter 25.]

[Footnote H: _Essays_, II. 23.]

[Footnote I: _Ibid._ II. 10.]

[Footnote J: _Les Reveries d'un Promeneur Solitaire._ Quatrieme

And thus we might go on accumulating the names of men and women whom
all the world knows, who have confessed their obligations to the old
biographer,--philosophers like Bacon, warriors like Bussy d'Amboise,
poets like Wordsworth; while many a one has owed much to him who has
made no open acknowledgment of his debt. Montaigne somewhere complains
of the unlicensed stealings from his author; and Udall, in his Preface
to the Apophthegms of Erasmus, declares,--"It is a thing scarcely
believable, how much, and how boldly as well, the common writers that
from time to time have copied out his [Plutarch's] works, as also
certain that have thought themselves liable to control and amend all
men's doings, have taken upon them in this author, who ought with
all reverence to be handled of them, and with all fear to have been
preserved from altering, depraving, or corrupting."[K]

[Footnote K: The following passage presents a view of some of the uses
to which Plutarch's narratives were turned during the Middle Ages. "Or
personne n'ignore que les chroniqueurs du moyen age compilaient les
faits les plus remarquables de l'Ecriture Sainte ou des histoires
profanes pour les meler a leurs recits. C'est ainsi que ceux qui ont
ecrit la vie de Du Guesclin ont mis sur le compte de ce heros ce
que Plutarque rapporte de plus memorable des grands hommes de
l'antiquite."--SOUVESTRE. _Les Derniers Bretons._ I. 147.]

The question naturally arises, What are the qualities in Plutarch which
have made him so universal a favorite, which have attracted towards him
men of such opposite tempers and different lives? It is not enough
to say that all real biography is of interest,--that every man
has curiosity about the life of every other man, and finds in it
illustrations of his own. Other writers of lives have not had the same
fortune with Plutarch. For one reader of Suetonius or of Diogenes
Laertius, there are a thousand of Plutarch. Nor is it that the subjects
of his biographies are greater or more famous than all other men. Some
of the noblest and best known men of Greece and Rome are omitted from
Plutarch's list.[L] The true grounds of the general popularity of
Plutarch's Lives are not to be found in their subjects so much as in
his manner of treating them, and in the qualities of his own nature, as
exhibited in his book. At the tomb of Achilles, Alexander declared that
he esteemed him happy in having had so famous a poet to proclaim his
actions; and scarcely less fortunate were they who had such a biographer
as Plutarch to record their lives. He himself has given us his
conception of the true office of a biographer, and in this has explained
in great part the secret of his excellence. "It must be borne in mind,"
he says, "that my design is not to write histories, but lives. And
the most glorious exploits do not always furnish us with the clearest
discoveries of virtue or vice in men; sometimes a matter of less moment,
an expression or a jest, informs us better of their characters and
inclinations than the most famous sieges, the greatest armaments, or the
bloodiest battles whatsoever. Therefore, as portrait-painters are more
exact in the lines and features of the face, in which the character is
seen, than in the other parts of the body, so I must be allowed to give
my more particular attention to the marks and indications of the souls
of men; and, while I endeavor by these to portray their lives, may be
free to leave more weighty matters and great battles to be treated of by

[Footnote L: In Rogers's _Recollections_, Grattan is reported as
saying,--"Of all men, if I could call up one, it should be Scipio
Africanus. Hannibal was perhaps a greater captain, but not so great and
good a man. Epaminondas did not do so much. Themistocles was a rogue."
It is curious that Themistocles is the only one of these men of whom we
have a biography by Plutarch. His Lives of Scipio and Epaminondas are
lost. Hannibal did not come within the scope of his design.]

[Footnote M: _Life of Alexander_, at the beginning.]

It is his fidelity to this principle, his dealing with events and
circumstances chiefly as they illustrate character, his delineation of
the features of the souls of men, that constitutes Plutarch's highest
merit as a biographer. He is no historian; he often neglects chronology,
and disregards the sequence of events; he omits many incidents, and he
avoids the details of national and political affairs. The progress of
the advance or decline of states is not to be learned from his pages.
But if his Lives be read in chronological order, much may be inferred
from them of the moral condition and changes of the communities in which
the men flourished whose characters and actions he describes. Biography
is thus made to cast an incidental light upon history. The successes
of Alexander give evidence of the lowering of the Greek spirit, and
illustrate the immemorial weakness of Oriental tyrannies. The victories
and the defeats of Pyrrhus alike display the vigor of Republican Rome.
The character and the fate of Mark Antony show that vigor at its ebb,
and foretell the near fall of the Roman liberties. Thus in his long
series of lives of noble Grecians and Romans, the motives and principles
which lay at the foundation of the characters of the men who moulded the
fate of Greece and Rome, the reciprocal influences of their times upon
these men and of these men upon their times, may all be traced with more
or less distinctness and certainty. It was not Plutarch's object to
exhibit them in sequent evolution, but, in attaining the object which he
had in view, he could not fail to make them manifest to the thoughtful
reader. His book, though not a history, is invaluable to historians.

But the character of Plutarch himself, not less than his method of
writing biography, explains his universal popularity, and gives its
special charm and value to his book. He was a man of large and generous
nature, of strong feeling, of refined tastes, of quick perceptions. His
mind had been cultivated in the acquisition of the best learning of his
times, and was disciplined by the study of books as well as of men. He
deserves the title of philosopher; but his philosophy was of a practical
rather than a speculative character,--though he was versed in the wisest
doctrines of the great masters of ancient thought, and in some of his
moral works shows himself their not unworthy follower. Above all, he was
a man of cheerful, genial, and receptive temper. A lover of justice and
of liberty, his sympathies are always on the side of what is right,
noble, and honorable. He believed in a divine ordering of the world,
and saw obscurely through the mists and shadows of heathenism the
indications of the wisdom and rectitude of an overruling Providence.
To him man did not appear as the sole arbiter of his own destiny, but
rather as an unconscious agent in working out the designs of a Higher
Power; and yet, as these designs were only dimly and imperfectly to
be recognized, the noblest man was he who was truest to the eternal
principles of right, who was most independent of the chances and
shiftings of fortune, who, "fortressed on conscience and impregnable
will," strove to live in the manliest and most self-supported relations
with the world, neither fearing nor hoping much in regard to the
uncertainties of the future, and who

"metus omnes et inexorabile fatum
Subjecit pedibus."

In his whole character, Plutarch shows himself one of the best examples
of the intelligent heathen of the later classic period. His Writings
contain the practical essence of the results of Greek and Roman life
and thought. His intellect, equally removed from superstition and
from skepticism, was open with a large receptiveness, which sometimes
approaches to credulity, to the traditions of early wonders, to the
reports of recent miracles, and to the stories of the deeds and sayings
of men.[N] The evidence upon which he reports is often insufficient to
establish the statements that he makes; but his readiness to tell the
current stories gives to his biographies a peculiar interest, adding
to their entertainment, and at the same time to their value as
representations of common beliefs and popular fancies. He is one of the
best story-tellers of antiquity, and from his works a series of "Percy
Anecdotes" of ancient men might easily be compiled. "Such anecdotes will
not," says he, in his Life of Timoleon, "be thought, I conceive, either
foreign to my purpose of writing lives, or unprofitable in themselves,
by such readers as are not in too much haste, or busied and taken up
with other concerns." It is this fulness of anecdote, which, perhaps,
more than any other quality of his writings, makes him the favorite
of boys as well as of men. He treasures up pithy sayings, and his own
reflections are often epigrammatic in expression, and always full of
good sense.

[Footnote N: There are two remarkable passages in the _Life of
Coriolanus_ which illustrate Plutarch's opinions upon these points. The
first (ii. 91) treats of the divine influence on the human will and
action; the second (ii. 97-98) relates to the mode of regarding events
seemingly incredible. This latter is peculiarly distinguished by its
good sense and clear statement. It closes with the memorable saying,
"Knowledge of divine things for the most part, as Heraclitus says, is
lost to us by incredulity."]

In his Life of Demosthenes, in a passage which is pleasant on account of
its personal reference, Plutarch speaks of the advantage that it would
be for a writer like himself to reside in some city addicted to liberal
arts, and populous, where he might have access to many books, and to
many persons from whom he might gather up such facts as books do not
contain. "But as for me," he says, "I live in a little town, where I am
willing to continue, lest it should grow less." And he goes on to excuse
himself for his imperfect knowledge of the Roman tongue, which unfits
him to draw a comparison between the orations of Demosthenes and of
Cicero. But, although his acquaintance with the structure and powers
of the language may have been insufficient to enable him to venture on
literary criticism, his acquaintance with the books of the Romans was
considerable, and he had thoroughly studied the Greek authors who had
written on Roman affairs. His own library, or the libraries to which he
had access at Chaeronea, must have been well furnished with the books
most important for his studies. He is said to quote two hundred and
fifty authors, some eighty of whom are among those whose works have been
wholly or partly lost. He made careful use of his materials, which were,
of course, more abundant for his Greek than for his Roman narratives.
"If we would put the Lives of Plutarch to a severe test," says Mr. Long,
than whom no one is better qualified to speak with authority upon the
subject, "we must carefully examine his Roman Lives. He says that he
knew Latin imperfectly, and he lived under the Empire, when many of the
educated Romans had but a superficial acquaintance with the earlier
history of their state. We must therefore expect to find him imperfectly
informed on Roman institutions; and we can detect him in some errors.
Yet, on the whole, his Roman Lives do not often convey erroneous
notions; if the detail is incorrect, the general impression is true.
They may be read with profit by those who seek to know something of
Roman affairs, and have not knowledge enough to detect an error. They
probably contain as few mistakes as most biographies which have been
written by a man who is not the countryman of those whose lives he

Yet, spite of his general accuracy and his impartial temper, the
representations which Plutarch makes of the characters which he
describes are not always to be accepted as fair delineations.
Unconscious prejudice, or misconception of circumstances and relations,
sometimes leads him into apparent injustice. Thus, for example, while he
bears hardly upon Demosthenes, and sets out many of his actions in too
unfavorable lights, he, on the other hand, interprets the conduct and
character of Phocion with manifest indulgence, and presents a flattered
portrait of a man whose death turned popular reproaches into pity, but
was insufficient to redeem the faults of his life.

Mr. Grote, in his History, passes a very different judgment upon these
two men from that to which one would be led by the perusal of Plutarch's
narratives merely. And it is an illustration, at once, of the honesty of
the ancient biographer, and of the ability of the modern historian, that
Mr. Grote should not infrequently derive from Plutarch's own account the
means for correcting his false estimate of the motives and the actions
of those whom he misjudged.

In an excellent passage in his Preface, Mr. Clough remarks that

"Much has been said of Plutarch's inaccuracy; and it cannot be denied
that he is careless about numbers, and occasionally contradicts his own
statements. A greater fault, perhaps, is his passion for anecdote; he
cannot forbear from repeating stories the improbability of which he is
the first to recognize, which, nevertheless, by mere repetition,
leave unjust impressions. He is unfair in this way to Demosthenes and
Pericles,--against the latter of whom, however, he doubtless inherited
the prejudices which Plato handed down to the philosophers.

"It is true, also, that his unhistorical treatment of the subjects
of his biography makes him often unsatisfactory and imperfect in the
portraits he draws. Much, of course, in the public lives of statesmen
can find its only explanation in their political position; and of this
Plutarch often knows and thinks little. So far as the researches of
modern historians have succeeded in really recovering a knowledge of
relations of this sort, so far, undoubtedly, these biographies stand in
need of their correction. Yet, in the uncertainty which must attend all
modern restorations, it is agreeable, and surely also profitable, to
recur to portraits drawn ere new thoughts and views had occupied the
civilized world, without reference to such disputable grounds of
judgment, simply upon the broad principles of the ancient moral code of
right and wrong. .... We have here the faithful record of the historical
tradition of Plutarch's age. This is what, in the second century of
our era, Greeks and Romans loved to believe about their warriors and
statesmen of the past. As a picture, at least, of the best Greek and
Roman moral views and moral judgments, as a presentation of the results
of Greek and Roman moral thought, delivered, not under the pressure
of calamity, but as they existed in ordinary times, and actuated
plain-living people, in country places, in their daily life, Plutarch's
writings are of indisputable value."

Of all the biographies contained in his work, none might excite greater
suspicion of incorrectness than that of Timoleon, on account of the
extraordinary character both of the man and of the incidents of his
career. His story reads like a romance of the ancient times, like a
legend of some half-mythical hero, rather than like the true account of
an actual man. There is, perhaps, none among his Lives which Plutarch
has written with greater spirit, with livelier sympathies, than this.
And yet, in spite of all its seeming improbability, there is little
reason to question its essential truth. It corresponds, with some minor
exceptions, with all that can be ascertained from other ancient authors
who wrote concerning the deliverer of Sicily; and even Mitford, with all
his zeal in the cause of tyrants, can find little to detract from the
praise of Timoleon, or to diminish our confidence in the truth of
Plutarch's account of him.

But, in addition to the interest that belongs to these biographies,
from their intrinsic qualities, as affected by the character of
Plutarch,--beside the interest which the common reader or the student
of biography and history may find in them, they possess a still deeper
interest for the student of human nature, in its various modifications,
under varying influences, and in different ages, from exhibiting to him,
in a long series, many of the chief characters of the heathen world
in such form as fits them for comparison with the prominent men of
Christian times. The question of the effect of Christianity upon the
characters and lives of the leading actors in modern history is not more
important than it is difficult of solution. Plutarch, better than any
other ancient writer, affords the means of estimating the motives, the
principles, the objects, of the men of the old time. We see in his pages
what they were; we see the differences between them and the men of later
days. How far are those differences exhibitions of inferiority or of
superiority? How far do they result from the influence of secondary
causes? how far from the change in religious belief?

No man who knows much of the course of history will venture to insist
greatly on any essential change for the better having been wrought as
yet by Christianity in the manner in which the affairs of the world are
carried on. Christianity has not yet been fairly tried. Nations
calling themselves Christian are still governed on heathen principles.
Christianity has been for the most part perverted and misunderstood. The
grossest errors have been taught in its name, are still taught in its
name. Falsehood has claimed the authority of truth, and its claim has
been granted. The stream which flowed out pure from its source has been
caught in foul cisterns, has been led into narrow channels, has been
made stagnant in desolate pools and wide-spread weedy marshes. The
doctrine of Christ has had thus far in the world but very few hearers
who have understood it. Many a modern creed might well go back to
heathenism for improvement. This perversion of Christianity is a
chief element in the difficulty of tracing the real influence of true
Christian teaching upon character. It is this which compels us to draw
a parallel, not so much between the actual characters of ancient and
modern times, if we would rightly understand the differences between
them, as between what we may assume to be the ideal standards of the
heathen and the Christian. But to treat this subject with the fulness
and in the manner which it deserves would lead us too far from Plutarch,
and we have done enough in suggesting it as matter for reflection to
those who read his Lives.

One of the most marked differences in the position of the ancient and
the modern man is that which has been quietly and gradually brought
about by science; but its effect is little recognized by the mass of men
or the most wide-spread churches. It is the difference of his recognized
relations to the universe. While this earth was supposed to be the
central point and main effort of creation, while the earth itself
was unknown, and all the regions of space were regarded as void and
untenanted, save by the inventions of fancy, man may have seemed to
himself a creature of large proportions and of considerable importance.
He measured himself with the gods and the half-gods, and found himself
not much their inferior. In reading Plutarch, one cannot fail to be
struck with the manly self-reliance of his best men of action. Their
piety had no weakness of self-abasement in it. They possessed a piety
toward themselves as well as toward the gods. Timoleon, who was attended
by the good-fortune that waits on noble character, erected in the house
which the Syracusans bestowed upon him an altar to [Greek: Automatia],
which, as Mr. Clough well remarks, in a note, "is almost equivalent to
Spontaneousness. His successes had come, as it were, of themselves." The
act was an acknowledgment of divine favor, and an assertion at the
same time of his individual independence of action. This spirit of
self-dependence was the grandest feature of Greek and Roman heathenism;
and it is in this, if in anything, that a superiority of character is
manifest in the men of ancient times. The famous passage in Seneca's
tragedy, in which Medea asserts herself as sufficient to stand alone
against the universe, contains its essence and is its complete

_Nutr._ Spes nulla monstrat rebus adflictis viam.

_Med._ Qui nil potest sperare, desperet nihil.

_Nutr._ Abiere Colchi; conjugis nulla est fides;
Nihilque superest opibus e tantis tibi.

_Med._ Medea superest; hic mare et terras vides,
Ferrumque, et ignes, et deos, et fulmina.
_Medea_, Act ii. 162-167.

Here is self-reliance at its highest point; the strength of resolute
will measuring itself singly and undauntedly against all forces, human
and divine.

But, as a necessary consequent of this spirit, as its implied complement
in the balance of human nature, we find, as a distinct trait in the
lives of many of the manliest ancients, an occasional prevalence of a
spirit of despondency, a recognition of the ultimate weakness of
man when brought by himself face to face with the wall of opposing
circumstance and the resistless force of Fate. Will is strong, but the
powers outside the will are stronger. Manliness may not fail, but man
himself may be broken. Neither the teachings of natural religion, nor
the doctrines of philosophy, nor the support of a sound heart are
sufficient for man in the crisis of uttermost trial. Without something
beyond these, higher than these, without a conscious dependence on
Omnipotence, man must sink at last under the buffets of adverse fortune.
Take the instances of these great men in Plutarch, and look at the end
of their lives. How many of them are simple confessions of defeat!
Themistocles sacrifices to the gods, drinks poison, and dies.
Demosthenes takes poison to save himself from falling into the hands of
his enemies. Cicero proposes to slay himself in the house of Caesar, and
is murdered only through want of resolution to kill himself. Brutus says
to the friend who urges him to fly,--"Yes, we must fly; yet not with
our feet, but with our hands," and falls upon his sword. Cato lies down
calmly at night, reads Plato on the Soul, and then kills himself; while,
after his death, the people of Utica cry out with one voice that he is
"the only free, the only undefeated man." It may be said that even in
suicide these men displayed the manliness of their tempers. True, but it
was the manliness of the deserter who runs the risk of being shot for
the sake of avoiding the risks and fatigues of service in war.[O]

[Footnote O: There is a striking passage in Seneca's treatise _De
Consolatione_, which may, perhaps, be not unfairly regarded as the
expression of a sentiment common among the better heathens in regard to
death,--a sentiment of profound sadness. He says,--"Mors dolorum omnium
solutio est et finis, ultra quam mala nostra non exeunt, quae nos in
illam tranquillitatem, in qua antequam nasceremur jacuimus, reponit."
xix. 4.]

Again, we must be content rather to hint at than to develop the matter
for reflection and study that Plutarch affords, and unwillingly pass by,
without even a glance at them, large domains of thought that lie within
his pages. We are glad to believe, that, through the excellent edition
before us, his Lives will be more widely read than ever. In this
country, where the tendency of things is to the limited, but equal
development of each individual in social and political life, and hence
to the production of a uniform mediocrity of character and of action,
these biographies are of special value, as exhibiting men developed
under circumstances widely contrasted with our own, and who may serve
as standards by which to measure some of our own deficiencies or
advantages. Here were the men who stood head and shoulders above the
others of their times; we see them now, "foreshortened in the tract of
time,"--not as they appeared to their contemporaries, but in something
like their real proportions. But the greatness of those proportions for
the most part remains unchanged. How will it be with our great men two
thousand years hence? Will the numerous "most distinguished men of
America" appear as large then as they do now? Will the speeches of our
popular orators be read then? Will the most famous of our senators be
famous then? Will the ablest of our generals still be gathering laurels?

There is a story told by the learned Andrew Thevet, chief cosmographer
to Henry III., King of France and Poland, to the effect that one
Triumpho of Camarino did most fantastically imagine and persuade himself
that really and truly one day "he was assembled in company with the
Pope, the Emperor, and the several Kings and Princes of Christendom,
(although all that while he was alone in his own chamber by himself,)
where he entered upon, debated, and resolved all the states' affairs of
Christendom; and he verily believed that he was the wisest man of
them all; and so he well might be, of the company." The fantastical
imagination of this Triumpho furnishes a good illustration of the
reality of companionship which one who possesses Plutarch may have in
his own chamber with the greatest and most interesting men of ancient
times. If he be worthy, he may make the best of them his intimates. He
may live with them as his counsellors and his friends. Whether he will
believe that he is "the wisest man of them all" is doubtful; but,
however this may be, he will find himself in their company growing
wiser, stronger, tenderer, and truer.

It has been well said, that "Plutarch's Lives is the book for those who
can nobly think and dare and do."

_The Lost and Found; or Life among the Poor._ By SAMUEL B. HALLIDAY. New
York: Blakeman & Mason. 1859.

It has been asserted--most emphatically by those who have most fairly
tried it--that no house was ever built large enough for two families to
live in decently and comfortably. Yet in this present year of grace,
1859, half a million of men and women--two-thirds of the population of
New York--are compelled, by reason of their own poverty and the avarice
of certain capitalists, to live in what are technically known as
"tenement-houses," or, more pertinently, "barracks,"--hulks of brick,
put up by Shylocks anxious for twenty per cent., and lived in--God knows
how--by from four to ninety-four families each. Of 115,986 families
residing in the city of New York, only 15,990 are able to enjoy the
luxury of an independent home; 14,362 other families live in comparative
comfort, two in a house; 4,416 buildings contain three families each,
and yet do not come under the head of tenements; and the 11,965
dwelling-houses which remain are the homes of 72,386 _families_, being
an average of seven families, or thirty-five souls to each house!

But this is only an average. In the eleventh ward, 113 _rear_ houses
(houses built on the backs of deep lots, and separated only by a narrow
and necessarily dark and filthy court from the front houses, which are
also "barracks,") contain 1,653 families, or nearly 15 families or 70
souls each; 24 others contain 407 families, being an average of 80 souls
to each; and in another ward, 72 such houses contain no less than 19
families or 95 souls each!

This seems shocking. But this is by no means the worst! There are 580
tenement-houses in New York which contain, by actual count, 10,933
families, or about 85 persons each; 193 others, which accommodate 111
persons each; 71 others, which cover 140 each; and, finally, 29--these
must be the most profitable!--which have a total population of no less
than 5,449 souls, or 187 to each house!

That part of Fifth Avenue which holds the chief part of the wealth and
fashion of New York has an extent of about two miles, or, counting both
sides of the street, four miles. These four miles of stately palaces
are occupied by four hundred families; while a single block of
tenement-houses, not two hundred yards out of Fifth Avenue, contains no
less than seven hundred families, or 3,500 souls! Seven such blocks, Mr.
Halliday pertinently remarks, would contain more people than the city of
Hartford, which covers an area of several miles square.

Such astounding facts as these the industrious Buckle of the year 3000,
intent upon a history of our American civilization, will quote to the
croakers of that day as samples of our nineteenth-century barbarism.

"But," some one may object, "if the houses were comfortably arranged,
and land was really scarce, after all, these people were not so badly

The "tenement-house," which is now one of the "institutions" of New
York, stands usually upon a lot 25 by 100 feet, is from four to six
stories high, and is so divided internally as to contain four families
on each floor,--each family eating, drinking, sleeping, cooking,
washing, and fighting in a room eight feet by ten and a bed-room six
feet by ten; unless, indeed,--_which very frequently happens,_ says Mr.
Halliday,--the family renting these two rooms _takes in another family
to board,_ or _sub-lets_ one room to one _or even two_ other families!

But the modern improvements?

One of the largest and most recently built of the New York "barracks"
has apartments for 126 famines. It was built especially for this use.
It stands on a lot 50 by 250 feet, is entered at the sides from alleys
eight feet wide, and, by reason of the vicinity of another barrack of
equal height, the rooms are so darkened that on a cloudy day it is
impossible to read or sew in them without artificial light. It has not
one room which can in any way be thoroughly ventilated. The vaults and
sewers which are to carry off the filth of the 126 families have grated
openings in the alleys, and door-ways in the cellars, through which the
noisome and deadly miasmata penetrate and poison the dank air of the
house and the courts. The water-closets for the whole vast establishment
are a range of stalls without doors, and accessible not only from the
building, but even from the street. Comfort is here out of the
question; common decency has been rendered impossible; and the horrible
brutalities of the passenger-ship are day after day repeated,--but on a
larger scale. And yet this is a fair specimen. And for such hideous and
necessarily demoralizing habitations,--for two rooms, stench,
indecency, and gloom, the poor family pays--and the rich builder
receives--_"thirty-five per cent, annually on the cost of the

When a city has half a million of inhabitants who _must_ content
themselves with such quarters as these, which, even the beasts of the
field would perish in, does any man wonder that 18,000 women were
arrested in the last year? that in the three months ending January
31st, 1859, 13,765 arrests were made by the city police, of which over
one-third were females, one in six under twenty years of age, and more
than one-half under thirty? that in 1855 there was one death in every
26-1/3 of the population? that in 1858 the five city dispensaries were
called on to treat (gratuitously) 65,442 infant patients? that, in 1855,
1,938 infants were stillborn, and 6,390, or 1 in 99 of the population,
did not live the first year out? while, at the present time, 20,000
children roam the streets, and never enter a schoolroom? With such
homes, is there cause for surprise that husbands murder their wives?
that mothers abuse their children,--and would kill them, too, were they
not profitable little slaves, as Mr. Halliday shows? that men and women
live in drunken stupor upon the spoils of young children,--often not
their own,--sent out to beg, to steal, or do worse yet? that even the
very fag-end of humanity, the sentiment of "honor among thieves,"
perishes here?

For twenty years, Mr. Halliday has labored among these poor creatures,
as the "agent" or missionary of the "American Female Guardian Society
and Home for the Friendless," an association of noble-minded and
unusually practical men and women. If any of our readers fear lest the
fountain of benevolence may dry up within him, we commend Mr. Halliday's
book to his perusal. He will find there some little stories which have a
pathos beyond tears; some facts--happening, mayhap, within ten minutes'
walk of his own fireside--quite as strange as the strangest fiction of
Mr. Cobb or Mr. Emerson Bennett. We have not space left for any account
of Mr. Halliday's labors. His Society provides not only boys and girls,
but even men and women under certain circumstances, with present
assistance and shelter, and afterwards a home and work in the country,
at a distance from the temptations and miseries of the city. It is
curious to read that Mr. Halliday receives frequent orders from various
States--even the most distant West--for "a baby," "a boy," "a little
girl." It is good to know that in that way many bright young souls are
saved from the horrors of "tenement" life, and placed in kind hands;
and it is touching to read, that, while many of these little ones are
remarkable for good looks and bright spirits, all are reported as
singularly quiet, sedate, and submissive. We are glad to know that the
types of the paper published by the Society are set up by the women who
have a refuge in its Home; and we were sorry to read of one boy, who
always ran away from everybody and every place, being at last secured
in the House of Refuge, where, being now nearly eleven years old, the
monster! "he seems dejected, and I have never seen him smile," says Mr.
Halliday. This boy--and a good many others who like the streets and the
free air better than the black-hole of a tenement--should go to sea.
The sea is an honorable trade, (it _used_ to be a profession,) and the
merchants of New York could not do a wiser or a better thing than in
providing a school-ship where such lads could be taught the rudiments
of seamanship and navigation, or, in default of that, sending them as
apprentices in their vessels.

We have two complaints to enter against Mr. Halliday: first, that he
has given his book a title which will deter most sensible people
from opening it; and, second, that in his valuable report on the
tenement-houses, he does not give the names of those enterprising
personages who make thirty-five per cent, at the expense, not only of
their poor tenants, but of every tax-payer in New York.

_The New American Cyclopaedia: a Popular Dictionary of General
Knowledge._ Edited by GEORGE RIPLEY and CHARLES A. DANA. Vol. VI.
Cough--Education. New York: D. Appleton & Co. 8vo. pp. 772.

More than one-third of the task assumed by the editors of this work is
now completed; and the best testimony in its favor is, that, although it
has been freely criticized, sometimes with closeness and severity, and
sometimes with studied harshness and evident malice, its reputation has
risen among candid and competent readers with the appearance of each
volume. Faults, negative and positive, may undoubtedly be discovered in
it; but the same is true, in a greater or less degree, of every other
production of human labor; and the eyes neither of malice nor of
hypercriticism have been able to find any sufficient reason why this
Cyclopaedia should not be accepted as the beat popular dictionary of
general knowledge in the English language. As the work advances, the
comprehensiveness of its plan, the honesty of its purpose, and the truly
catholic and liberal spirit which animates it, become more and more
apparent; and the names of the authors of the articles (a list of which
is to be published, we believe, with the last volume) sufficiently show
the determination of the editors to secure the cooperation of the first
talent in the country. Among the contributors to the present volume are
the Rev. Dr. Bellows, Edmund Blunt, Dion Bourcicault, Professor Dana
of Yale College, Edward Everett, Professor Felton of Cambridge, Parke
Godwin, Richard Hildreth, George S. Hillard, William Henry Hurlbut, and
Professors Lowell and Parsons of Cambridge.

Of the articles, we especially notice _Cranmer_, remarkable for the
candor and the coolness of perception with which the character of its


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