Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 5, No. 30, April, 1860
Part 2 out of 5
smother a fire and leave its sparks, to kill a viper and take care of
its young, are not actions of the wise. Though the clouds rain the
water of life, you cannot eat fruit from the boughs of a willow.'
"When the vizier heard this, he applauded the king's understanding, and
assented that what he had pronounced was unanswerable.
"'Yet, nevertheless,' he said, 'as the boy, if bred among the thieves,
would have taken their manners, so is your servant hopeful that he
might receive instruction in the society of upright men; for he is
still a boy, and it is written, that every child is born in the faith
of Islam, and his parents corrupt him. The son of Noah, associated with
the wicked, lost his power of prophecy; the dog of the Seven Sleepers,
following the good, became a man.'
"Then others of the courtiers joined in the intercession, and the king
"'I have assented, but I do not think it well.'
"They bred the youth in indulgence and affluence, and appointed an
accomplished tutor to educate him, and he became learned and gained
great applause in the sight of every one. The king smiled when the
vizier spoke of this, and said,--
"'Thou hast been nourished by our milk, and hast grown with us; who
afterwards gave thee intelligence that thy father was a wolf?'
"A few years passed;--a company of the vagrants of the neighborhood
were near; they connected themselves with the boy; a league of
association was formed; and, at an opportunity, the boy destroyed the
vizier and his children, carried off vast booty, and fixed himself in
the place of his father in the cavern of the robbers. The king bit the
hand of astonishment with the teeth of reflection, and said,--
"'How can any one make a good sword from bad iron? The worthless, O
Philosopher, does not, by instruction, become worthy. Rain, though not
otherwise than benignant, produces tulips in gardens and rank weeds in
Yet, notwithstanding Sadi and some other wise ones, here, as thieves,
are the faces of boys that cannot be naturally vicious,--boys of good
instincts, beyond all possible question,--and that only need a mother's
hand to smooth back the clustering hair from the forehead, to discover
the future residence of plentiful and upright reason. The face of a
boy, now in Sing Sing for burglary, and who bears a name which over the
continent of North America is identified with the ideas of large
combination and enterprise, is especially noticeable for the clear
eyes, and frank, promising look.
That tale of Sadi will do well enough when Aesop tells it of a
serpent;--he, indeed, can change his skin and be a serpent still; but
when the old Sufi, or any one else, tells it of a boy, let us doubt.
Think of the misery that may be associated with all this,--that this
represents! In this Gallery are the faces of many men; some are
handsome, most of them more or less human. It cannot be that they all
began wrongly,--that their lives were all poisoned at the
fountain-head. No,--here are some that came from what are called good
families; many others of them had homes, and you may still see some
lingering love of it in an air of settled sadness,--they were misled in
later life. Think of the mothers who have gone down, in bitter, bitter
sorrow, to the grave, with some of the lineaments we see around before
their mind's eye at the latest moment! Oh, the circumstances under
which some of these faces have been conjured up by the strong will of
love! Think of the sisters, living along with a hidden heart-ache,
nursing in secret the knowledge, that somewhere in the world were those
dear to them, from whom they were shut out by a bar-sinister terribly
real, and for whose welfare, with all the generous truth of a sister's
feeling, they would barter everything, yet who were in an unending
danger! Think of them, with this skeleton behind the door of their
hearts, fearful at every moment! Does it seem good in the scheme of
existence, or a blot there, that those who are themselves innocent, but
who are yet the real sufferers, whether punishment to the culprit fall
or fail, should be made thus poignantly miserable? We know nothing.
It is said in a certain Arabic legend, that, while Moses was on Mount
Sinai, the Lord instructed him in the mysteries of his providence; and
Moses, having complained of the impunity of vice and its success in the
world, and the frequent sufferings of the innocent, the Lord led him to
a rock which jutted from the mountain, and where he could overlook the
vast plain of the Desert stretching at his feet.
On one of its oases he beheld a young Arab asleep. He awoke, and,
leaving behind him a bag of pearls, sprang into the saddle and rapidly
disappeared from the horizon. Another Arab came to the oasis; he
discovered the pearls, took them, and vanished in the opposite
Now an aged wanderer, leaning on his staff, bent his steps wearily
toward the shady spot; he laid himself down, and fell asleep. But
scarcely had he closed his eyes, when he was rudely aroused from his
slumber; the young Arab had returned, and demanded his pearls. The
hoary man replied, that he had not taken them. The other grew enraged,
and accused him of theft. He swore that he had not seen the treasure;
but the other seized him; a scuffle ensued; the young Arab drew his
sword, and plunged it into the breast of the aged man, who fell
lifeless on the earth.
"O Lord! is this just?" exclaimed Moses, with terror.
"Be silent! Behold, this man, whose blood is now mingling with the
waters of the Desert, many years ago, secretly, on the same spot,
murdered the father of the youth who has now slain him. His crime
remained concealed from men; but vengeance is mine: I will repay."
THE PURSUIT OF KNOWLEDGE UNDER DIFFICULTIES; AND WHAT CAME OF IT.
The week of Mr. Clerron's absence passed away more quickly than Ivy had
supposed it would. The reason for this may be found in the fact that
her thoughts were very busily occupied. She was more silent than usual,
so much so that her father one day said to her,--"Ivy, I haven't heard
you sing this long while, and seems to me you don't talk either. What's
"Do I look as if anything was the matter?" and the face she turned upon
him was so radiant, that even the father's heart was satisfied.
Very quietly happy was Ivy to think she was of service to Mr. Clerron,
that she could give him pleasure,--though she could in no wise
understand how it was. She went over every event since her acquaintance
with him; she felt how much he had done for her, and how much he had
been to her; but she sought in vain to discover how she had been of any
use to him. She only knew that she was the most ignorant and
insignificant girl in the whole world, and that he was the best and
greatest man. As this was very nearly the same conclusion at which she
had arrived at an early period of their acquaintance, it cannot be said
that her week of reflection was productive of any very valuable
The day before Mr. Clerron's expected return Ivy sat down to prepare
her lessons, and for the first time remembered that she had left her
books in Mr. Clerron's library. She was not sorry to have so good an
excuse for visiting the familiar room, though its usual occupant was
not there to welcome her. Very quietly and joyfully happy, she trod
slowly along the path through the woods where she last walked with Mr.
Clerron. She was, indeed, at a loss to know why she was so calm. Always
before, a sudden influx of joy testified itself by very active
demonstrations. She was quite sure that she had never in her life been
so happy as now; yet she never had felt less disposed to leap and dance
and sing. The non-solution of the problem, however, did not ruffle her
serenity. She was content to accept the facts, and await patiently the
Arriving at the house, she went, as usual, into the library without
ringing,--but, not finding the books, proceeded in search of Mrs. Simm.
That notable lady was sitting behind a huge pile of clean clothes,
sorting and mending to her heart's content. She looked up over her
spectacles at Ivy's bright "good morning," and invited her to come in.
Ivy declined, and begged to know if Mrs. Simm had seen her books. To be
sure she had, like the good housekeeper that she was. "You'll find them
in the book-case, second shelf; but, Miss Ivy, I wish you would come
in, for I've had something on my mind that I've felt to tell you this
Ivy came in, took the seat opposite Mrs. Simm, and waited for her to
speak; but Mrs. Simm seemed to be in no hurry to speak. She dropped her
glasses; Ivy picked them up and handed them to her. She muttered
something about the destructive habits of men, especially in regard to
buttons; and presently, as if determined to come to the subject at
once, abruptly exclaimed,--
"Miss Ivy, you're a real good girl, I know, and as innocent as a lamb.
That's why I'm going to talk to you as I do. I know, if you were my
child, I should want somebody to do the same by you."
Ivy could only stare in blank astonishment. After a moment's pause,
Mrs. Simm continued,--
"I've seen how things have been going on for some time; but my mouth
was shut, though my eyes were open. I didn't know but maybe I'd better
speak to your mother about it; but then, thinks I to myself, she'll
think it is a great deal worse than it is, and then, like enough,
there'll be a rumpus. So I concluded, on the whole, I'd just tell you
what I thought; and I know you are a sensible girl and will take it all
right. Now you must promise me not to get mad."
"No," gasped Ivy.
"I like you a sight. It's no flattery, but the truth, to say I think
you're as pretty-behaved a girl as you'll find in a thousand. And all
the time you've been here, I never have known you do a thing you hadn't
ought to. And Mr. Clerron thinks so too, and there's the trouble, You
see, dear, he's a man, and men go on their ways and like women, and
talk to them, and sort of bewitch them, not meaning to do them any
hurt,--and enjoy their company of an evening, and go about their own
business in the morning, and never think of it again; but women stay at
home, and brood over it, and think there's something in it, and build a
fine air-castle,--and when they find it's all smoke, they mope and pine
and take on. Now that's what I don't want you to do. Perhaps you'd
think I'd better have spoken with Mr. Clerron; but it wouldn't signify
the head of a pin. He'd either put on the Clerron look and scare you to
death and not say a word, or else he'd hold it up in such a ridiculous
way as to make you think it was ridiculous yourself. And I thought I'd
put you on your guard a little, so as you needn't fall in love with
him. You'll like him, of course. He likes you; but a young girl like
you might make a mistake, if she was ever so modest and sweet,--and
nobody could be modester or sweeter than you,--and think a man loved
you to marry you, when he only pets and plays with you. Not that Mr.
Clerron means to do anything wrong. He'd be perfectly miserable
himself, if he thought he'd led you on. There a'n't a more honorable
man every way in the whole country. Now, Miss Ivy, it's all for your
good I say this. I don't find fault with you, not a bit. It's only to
save you trouble in store that I warn you to look where you stand, and
see that you don't lose your heart before you know it. It's an awful
thing for a woman, Miss Ivy, to get a notion after a man who hasn't got
a notion after her. Men go out and work and delve and drive, and
forget; but there a'n't much in darning stockings and making
pillow-cases to take a woman's thought off her troubles, and sometimes
they get sp'iled for life."
Ivy had remained speechless from amazement; but when Mrs. Simm had
finished, she said, with a sudden accession of womanly dignity that
surprised the good housekeeper,--
"Mrs. Simm, I cannot conceive why you should speak in this way to me.
If you suppose I am not quite able to take care of myself, I assure you
you are much mistaken."
"Lorful heart! Now, Miss Ivy, you promised you wouldn't be mad."
"And I have kept my promise. I am not mad."
"No, but you answer up short like, and that isn't what I thought of
you, Ivy Geer."
Mrs. Simm looked so disappointed that Ivy took a lower tone, and at any
rate she would have had to do it soon; for her fortitude gave way, and
she burst into a flood of tears. She was not, by any means, a heroine,
and could not put on the impenetrable mask of a woman of the world.
"Now, dear, don't be so distressful, dear, don't!" said Mrs. Simm,
soothingly. "I can't bear to see you."
"I am sure I never thought of such a thing as falling in love with Mr.
Clerron or anybody else," sobbed Ivy, "and I don't know what should
make you think so."
"Dear heart, I don't think so. I only told you, so you needn't."
"Why, I should as soon think of marrying the angel Gabriel!"
"Oh, don't talk so, dear; he's no more than man, after all; but still,
you know, he's no fit match for you. To say nothing of his being older
and all that, I don't think it's the right place for you. Your father
and mother are very nice folks; I am sure nobody could ask for better
neighbors, and their good word is in everybody's mouth; and they've
brought you up well, I am sure; but, my dear, you know it's nothing
against you nor them that you a'n't used to splendor, and you wouldn't
take to it natural like. You'd get tired of that way of life, and want
to go back to the old fashions, and you'd most likely have to leave
your father and mother; for it's noways probable Mr. Clerron will stay
here always; and when he goes back to the city, think what a dreary
life you'd have betwixt his two proud sisters, on the one hand,--to be
sure, there's no reason why they should be; their gran'ther was a
tailor, and their grandma was his apprentice, and he got rich, and gave
all his children learning; and Mr. Felix's father, he was a lawyer, and
he got rich by speculation, and so the two girls always had on their
high-heeled boots; but Mr. Clerron, he always laughs at them, and
brings up "the grand-paternal shop," as he calls it, and provokes them
terribly, I know. Well, that's neither here nor there; but, as I was
saying, here you'll have them on the one side, and all the fine ladies
on the other, and a great house and servants, and parties to see to,
and, lorful heart! Miss Ivy, you'd die in three years; and if you know
when you're well off, you'll stay at home, and marry and settle down
near the old folks. Believe me, my dear, it's a bad thing both for the
man and the woman, when she marries above her."
"Mrs. Simm," said Ivy, rising, "will you promise me one thing?"
"Certainly, child, if I can."
"Will you promise me never again to mention this thing to me, or allude
to it in the most distant manner?"
"Miss Ivy, now,"--began Mrs. Simm, deprecatingly.
"Because," interrupted Ivy, speaking very thick and fast, "you cannot
imagine how disagreeable it is to me. It makes me feel ashamed to think
of what you have said, and that you could have thought it even. I
suppose--indeed, I know--that you did it because you thought you ought;
but you may be certain that I am in no danger from Mr. Clerron, nor is
there the slightest probability that his fortune, or honor, or
reputation, or sisters will ever be disturbed by me. I am very much
obliged to you for your good intentions, and I wish you good morning."
"Don't, now, Miss Ivy, go so"--
But Miss Ivy was gone, and Mrs. Simm could only withdraw to her pile of
clothes, and console herself by stitching and darning with renewed
vigor. She felt rather uneasy about the result of her morning's work,
though she had really done it from a conscientious sense of duty.
"Welladay," she sighed, at last, "she'd better be a little cut up and
huffy now, than to walk into a ditch blindfolded; and I wash my hands
of whatever may happen after this. I've had my say and done my part."
Alas, Ivy Geer! The Indian summer day was just as calm and
beautiful,--the far-off mountains wore their veil of mist just as
aerially,--the brook rippled over the stones with just as soft a
melody; but what "discord on the music" had fallen! what "darkness on
the glory"! A miserable, dull, dead weight was the heart which throbbed
so lightly but an hour before. Wearily, drearily, she dragged herself
home. It was nearly sunset when she arrived, and she told her mother
she was tired and had the headache, which was true,--though, if she had
said heartache, it would have been truer. Her mother immediately did
what ninety-nine mothers out of a hundred would do in similar
circumstances,--made her swallow a cup of strong tea, and sent her to
bed. Alas, alas, that there are sorrows which the strongest tea cannot
When the last echo of her mother's footstep died on the stairs, and Ivy
was alone in the darkness, the tide of bitterness and desolation swept
unchecked over her soul, and she wept tears more passionate and
desponding than her life had ever before known,--tears of shame and
indignation and grief. It was true that the thought which Mrs. Simm had
suggested had never crossed her mind before; yet it is no less true,
that, all-unconsciously, she had been weaving a golden web, whose
threads, though too fine and delicate even for herself to perceive,
were yet strong enough to entangle her life in their meshes. A secret
chamber, far removed from the noise and din of the world,--a chamber
whose soft and rose-tinted light threw its radiance over her whole
future, and within whose quiet recesses she loved to sit alone and
dream away the hours,--had been rudely entered, and thrown violently
open to the light of day, and Ivy saw with dismay how its pictures had
become ghastly and its sacredness was defiled. With bitter, though
needless and useless self-reproach, she saw how she had suffered
herself to be fascinated. Sorrowfully, she felt that Mrs. Simm's words
were true, and a great gulf lay between her and him. She pictured him
moving easily and gracefully and naturally among scenes which to her
inexperienced eye were grand and splendid; and then, with a sharp pain,
she felt how constrained and awkward and entirely unfit for such a life
was she. Then her thoughts reverted to her parents,--their unchanging
love, their happiness depending on her, their solicitude and
watchfulness,--and she felt as if ingratitude were added to her other
sins, that she could have so attached herself to any other. And again
came back the bitter, burning agony of shame that she had done the very
thing that Mrs. Simm too late had warned her not to do; she had been
carried away by the kindness and tenderness of her friend, and,
unasked, had laid the wealth of her heart at his feet. So the night
flushed into morning; and the sun rose upon a pale face and a trembling
form,--but not upon a faint heart; for Ivy, kneeling by the couch where
her morning and evening prayer had gone up since lisping
infancy,--kneeling no longer a child, but a woman, matured through
love, matured, alas! through suffering, prayed for strength and
comfort; prayed that her parents' love might be rendered back into
their own bosoms a hundred fold; prayed that her friend's kindness to
her might not be an occasion of sin against God, and that she might be
enabled to walk with a steady step in the path that lay before her. And
she arose strengthened and comforted.
All the morning she lay quiet and silent on the lounge in the little
sitting-room. Her mother, busied with household matters, only looked in
upon her occasionally, and, as the eyes were always closed, did not
speak, thinking her asleep. Ivy was not asleep. Ten thousand little
sprites flitted swiftly through the chambers of her brain, humming,
singing, weeping, but always busy, busy. Then another tread softly
entered, and she knew her dear old father had drawn a chair close to
her, and was looking into her face. Tears came into her eyes, her lip
involuntarily quivered, and then she felt the pressure of
his----his!--surely that was not her father's kiss! She started up. No,
no! that was not her father's face bending over her,--not her father's
eyes smiling into hers; but, woe for Ivy! her soul thrilled with a
deeper bliss, her heart leaped with a swifter bound, and for a moment
all the experience and suffering and resolutions of the last night were
as if they had never been. Only for a moment, and then with a strong
effort she remembered the impassable gulf.
"A pretty welcome home you have given me!" said Mr. Clerron, lightly.
He saw that something was weighing on her spirits, but did not wish to
distress her by seeming to notice it.
"I wait in my library, I walk in my garden, expecting every moment will
bring you,--and lo! here you are lying, doing nothing but look pale and
pretty as hard as you can."
Ivy smiled, but did not consider it prudent to speak.
"I found your books, however, and have brought them to you. You thought
you would escape a lesson finely, did you not? But you see I have
"Yes,--I went for the books yesterday," said Ivy, "but I got talking
with Mrs. Simm and forgot them."
"Ah!" he replied, looking somewhat surprised. "I did not know Mrs. Simm
could be so entertaining. She must have exerted herself. Pray, now, if
it would not be impertinent, upon what subject did she hold forth with
eloquence so overpowering that everything else was driven from your
mind? The best way of preserving apples, I dare swear, or the
superiority of pickled grapes to pickled cucumbers."
"No," said Ivy, with the ghost of an other smile,--"upon various
subjects; but not those. How do you do, Mr. Clerron? Have you had a
pleasant visit to the city?"
"Very well, I thank you, Miss Geer; and I have not had a remarkably
pleasant visit, I am obliged to you. Have I the pleasure of seeing you
quite well, Miss Geer,--quite fresh and buoyant?"
The lightness of tone which he had assumed had precisely the opposite
"Ye banks and braes o' bonny Doon,
How can ye bloom sae fresh and fair?
How can ye chant, ye little birds,
And I sae weary fu' o' care?"
is the of stricken humanity everywhere. And Ivy thought of Mr. Clerron,
rich, learned, elegant, happy, on the current of whose life she only
floated a pleasant ripple,--and of herself, poor, plain, awkward,
ignorant, to whom he was the life of life, the all in all. I would not
have you suppose this passed through her mind precisely as I have
written it. By no means. The ideas rather trooped through in a pellmell
sort of way; but they got through just as effectually. Now, if Ivy had
been content to let her muscles remain perfectly still, her face might
have given no sign of the confusion within; but, with a foolish
presumption, she undertook to smile, and so quite lost control of the
little rebels, who immediately twisted themselves into a sob. Her whole
frame convulsed with weeping and trying not to weep, he forced her
gently back on the pillow, and, bending low, whispered softly,--
"Ivy, what is it?"
"Oh, don't ask me!--please, don't! Please, go away!" murmured the poor
"I will, my dear, in a minute; but you must think I should be a little
anxious. I leave you as gay as a bird, and healthy and rosy,--and when
I come back, I find you white and sad and ill. I am sure something
weighs on your mind. I assure you, my little Ivy, and you must believe,
that I am your true friend,--and if you would confide in me, perhaps I
could bring you comfort. It would at least relieve you to let me help
you bear the burden."
The burden being of such a nature, it is not at all probable that Ivy
would have assented to his proposition; but the welcome entrance of her
mother prevented the necessity of replying.
"Oh, you're awake! Well, I told Mr. Clerron he might come in, though I
thought you wouldn't be. Slept well this morning, didn't you, deary, to
make up for last night?"
"No, mamma, I haven't been asleep."
"Crying, my dear? Well, now, that's a pretty good one! Nervous she is,
Mr. Clerron, always nervous, when the least thing ails her; and she
didn't sleep a wink last night, which is a bad thing for the
nerves,--and Ivy generally sleeps like a top. She walked over to your
house yesterday, and when she got home she was entirely beat
out,--looked as if she had been sick a week. I don't know why it was,
for the walk couldn't have hurt her. She's always dancing round at
home. I don't think she's been exactly well for four or five days. Her
father and I both thought she'd been more quiet like than usual."
The sudden pang that shot across Ivy's face was not unobserved by Mr.
Clerron. A thought came into his mind. He had risen at Mrs. Geer's
entrance, and he now expressed his regret for Ivy's illness, and hoped
that she would soon be well, and able to resume her studies; and, with
a few words of interest and inquiry to Mrs. Geer, took his leave.
"I wonder if Mrs. Simm _has_ been putting her foot in it!" thought he,
as he stalked home rather more energetically than was his custom.
That unfortunate lady was in her sitting-room, starching muslins, when
Mr. Clerron entered. She had surmised that he was gone to the farm, and
had looked for his return with a shadow of dread. She saw by his face
that something was wrong.
"Mrs. Simm," he began, somewhat abruptly, but not disrespectfully, "may
I beg your pardon for inquiring what Ivy Geer talked to you about,
"Oh, good Lord! She ha'n't told you, has she?" cried Mrs. Simm,--her
fear of God, for once, yielding to her greater fear of man. The
embroidered collar, which she had been vigorously beating, dropped to
the floor, and she gazed at him with such terror and dismay in every
lineament, that he could not help being amused. He picked up the
collar, which, in her perturbation, she had not noticed, and said,--
"No, she has told me nothing; but I find her excited and ill, and I
have reason to believe it is connected with her visit here yesterday.
If it is anything relating to me, and which I have a right to know, you
would do me a great favor by enlightening me on the subject."
Mrs. Simm had not a particle of that knowledge in which Young America
is so great a proficient, namely, the "knowing how to get out of a
scrape." She was, besides, alarmed at the effect of her words on Ivy,
supposing nothing less than that the girl was in the last stages of a
swift consumption; so she sat down, and, rubbing her starchy hands
together, with many a deprecatory "you know," and apologetic "I am sure
I thought I was acting for the best," gave, considering her agitation,
a tolerably accurate account of the whole interview. Her interlocutor
saw plainly that she had acted from a sincere conscientiousness, and
not from a meddlesome, mischievous interference; so he only thanked her
for her kind interest, and suggested that he had now arrived at an age
when it would, perhaps, be well for him to conduct matters,
particularly of so delicate a nature, solely according to his own
judgment, He was sorry to have given her any trouble.
"Scissors cuts only what comes between 'em," soliloquized Mrs. Simm,
when the door closed behind him. "If ever I meddle with a
courting-business again, my name a'n't Martha Simm. No, they may go to
Halifax, whoever they be, 'fore ever I'll lift a finger."
It is a great pity that the world generally has not been brought to
make the same wise resolution.
One, two, three, four days passed away, and still Ivy pondered the
question so often wrung from man in his bewildered gropings, "What
shall I do?" Every day brought her teacher and friend to comfort,
amuse, and strengthen. Every morning she resolved to be on her guard,
to remember the impassable gulf. Every evening she felt the silken
cords drawing tighter and tighter around her soul, and binding her
closer and closer to him. She thought she might die, and the thought
gave her a sudden joy. Death would solve the problem at once. If only a
few weeks or months lay before her, she could quietly rest on him, and
give herself up to him, and wait in heaven for all rough places to be
made plain. But Ivy did not die. Youth and nursing and herb-tea were
too strong for her, and the color came back to her cheek and the
languor went out from her blue eyes. She saw nothing to be done but to
resume her old routine. It would be difficult to say whether she was
more glad or sorry at seeming to see this necessity. She knew her
danger, and it was very fascinating. She did not look into the far-off
future; she only prayed to be kept from day to day. Perhaps her course
was wise; perhaps not. But she had to rely on her own judgment alone;
and her judgment was founded on inexperience, which is not a
A new difficulty arose. Ivy found that she could not resume her old
habits. To be sure, she learned her lessons just as perfectly at home
as she had ever done. Just as punctual to the appointed hour, she went
to recite them; but no sooner had her foot crossed Mr. Clerron's
threshold than her spirit seemed to die within her. She remembered
neither words nor ideas. Day after day, she attempted to go through her
recitation as usual, and, day after day, she hesitated, stammered, and
utterly failed. His gentle assistance only increased her embarrassment.
This she was too proud to endure; and, one day, after an unsuccessful
effort, she closed the book with a quick, impatient gesture, and
"Mr. Clerron, I will not recite any more!"
The agitated flush which had suffused her face gave way to paleness. He
saw that she was under strong excitement, and quietly replied,--
"Very well, you need not, if you are tired. You are not quite well yet,
and must not try to do too much. We will commence here to-morrow."
"No, Sir,--I shall not recite any more at all."
"Never any more!"
There was a moment's pause.
"You must not lose patience, my dear. In a few days you will recite as
well as ever. A fine notion, forsooth, because you have been ill, and
forgotten a little, to give up studying! And what is to become of my
laurels, pray,--all the glory I am to get by your proficiency?"
"I shall study at home just the same, but I shall not recite."
His look became serious.
"Because I cannot. I do not think it best,--and--and I will not"
"Ivy, do you not like your teacher?"
"No, Sir. _I hate you!_"
The words seemed to flash from her lips. She sprang up and stood erect
before him, her eyes on fire, and every nerve quivering with intense
excitement He was shocked and startled. It was a new phase of her
character,--a new revelation. He, too, arose, and walked to the
window. If Ivy could have seen the workings of his face, there would
have been a revelation to her also. But she was too highly excited to
notice anything. He came back to her and spoke in a low voice,--
"Ivy, this is too much. This I did not expect."
He laid his hand upon her head as he had often done before. She shook
it off passionately.
"Yes, I hate you. I hate you, because"--
"Because I wanted you to love me?"
"No, Sir; because I do love you, and you bring me only wretchedness. I
have never been happy since the miserable day I first saw you."
"Then, Ivy, I have utterly failed in what it has been my constant
endeavor to do."
"No, Sir, you have succeeded in what you endeavored to do. You have
taught me. You have given me knowledge and thought, and showed me the
source of knowledge. But I had better have been the ignorant girl you
found me. You have taken from me what I can never find again. I have
made a bitter exchange. I was ignorant and stupid, I know,--but I was
happy and contented; and now I am wretched and miserable and wicked.
You have come between me and my home and my father and mother;--between
me and all the bliss of my past and all my hope for the future."
"And thus, Ivy, have you come between me and my past and my
future;--yet not thus. You shut out from my heart all the sorrow and
vexation and strife that have clouded my life, and fill it with your
own dear presence. You come between me and my future, because, in
looking forward, I see only you. I should have known better. There is
a gulf between us; but if I could make you happy"--
"I don't want you to make me happy. I know there is a gulf between us.
I saw it while you were gone. I measured it and fathomed it. I shall
not leap across. Stay you on your side quietly; I shall stay as quietly
"It is too late for that, Ivy,--too late now. But you are not to blame,
my child. Little sunbeam that you are, I will not cloud you. Go shine
upon other lives as you have shone upon mine! light up other hearths as
you have mine! and I will bless you forever, though mine be left
He turned away with an expression on his face that Ivy could not read.
Her passion was gone. She hesitated a moment, then went to his side and
laid her hand softly on his arm. There was a strange moistened gleam in
his eyes as he turned them upon her.
"Mr. Clerron, I do not understand you."
"My dear, you never can understand me."
"I know it," said Ivy, with her old humility; "but, at least, I might
understand whether I have vexed you."
"You have not vexed me."
"I spoke proudly and rudely to you. I was angry, and so unhappy. I
shall always be so; I shall never be happy again; but I want you to be,
and you do not look as if you were."
If Ivy had not been a little fool, she would not have spoken so; but
she was, so she did.
"I beg your pardon, little tendril. I was so occupied with my own
preconceived ideas that I forgot to sympathize with you. Tell me why or
how I have made you unhappy. But I know; you need not. I assure you,
however, that you are entirely wrong. It was a prudish and whimsical
notion of my good old housekeeper's. You are never to think of it
again. _I_ never attributed such a thought or feeling to you."
"Did you suppose that was all that made me unhappy?"
"Can there be anything else?"
"I am glad you think so. Perhaps I should not have been unhappy but for
that, at least not so soon; but that alone could never have made me
Little fool again! She was like a chicken thrusting its head into a
corner and thinking itself out of danger because it cannot see the
danger. She had no notion that she was giving him the least clue to the
truth, but considered herself speaking with more than Delphic prudence.
She rather liked to coast along the shores of her trouble and see how
near she could approach without running aground; but she struck before
she knew it.
Mr. Clerron's face suddenly changed. He sat down, took both her hands,
and drew her towards him.
"Ivy, perhaps I have been misunderstanding you. I will at least find
out the truth. Ivy, do you know that I love you, that I have loved you
almost from the first, that I would gladly here and now take you to my
heart and keep you here forever?"
"I do not know it," faltered Ivy, half beside herself.
"Know it now, then! I am older than you, and I seem to myself so far
removed from you that I have feared to ask you to trust your happiness
to my keeping, lest I should lose you entirely; but sometimes you say
or do something which gives me hope. My experience has been very
different from yours. I am not worthy to clasp your purity and
loveliness. Still I would do it, if--Tell me, Ivy, does it give you
pain or pleasure?"
Ivy extricated her hands from his, deliberately drew a footstool, and
knelt on it before him,--then took his hands, as he had before held
hers, gazed steadily into his eyes, and said,--
"Mr. Clerron, are you in earnest? Do you love me?"
"I am, Ivy. I do love you."
"How do you love me?"
"I love you with all the strength and power that God has given me."
"You do not simply pity me? You have not, because you heard from Mrs.
Simm, or suspected, yourself, that I was weak enough to mistake your
kindness and nobleness,--you have not in pity resolved to sacrifice
your happiness to mine?"
"No, Ivy,--nothing of the kind. I pity only myself. I reverence you, I
think. I have hoped that you loved me as a teacher and friend. I dared
not believe you could ever do more; now something within tells me that
you can. Can you, Ivy? If the love and tenderness and devotion of my
whole life can make you happy, happiness shall not fail to be yours."
Ivy's gaze never for a moment drooped under his, earnest and piercing
though it was.
"Now I am happy," she said, slowly and distinctly. "Now I am blessed. I
can never ask anything more."
"But I ask something more," he replied, bending forward eagerly. "I ask
much more. I want your love. Shall I have it? And I want you."
"My love?" She blushed slightly, but spoke without hesitation. "Have I
not given it,--long, long before you asked it, before you even cared
for my friendship? Not love only, but life, my very whole being,
centred in you, does now, and will always. Is it right to say
this?--maidenly? But I am not ashamed. I shall always be proud to have
loved you, though only to lose you,--and to be loved by you is glory
enough for all my future."
For a short time the relative position of these two people was changed.
I allude to the change in this distant manner, as all who have ever
been lovers will be able to judge what it was; and I do not wish to
forestall the sweet surprise of those who have not.
Ivy rested there (query, where?) a moment; but as he whispered, "Thus
you answer the second question? You give me yourself too?" she hastily
freed herself. (Query, from what?)
"Never!" more firmly than before.
"What does this mean?" he said, sternly. "Are you trifling?"
There was such a frown on his brow as Ivy had never seen. She quailed
"Do not be angry! Alas! I am not trifling. Life itself is not worth so
much as your love. But the impassable gulf is between us just the
"What is it? Who put it there?"
"God put it there. Mrs. Simm showed it to me."
"Mrs. Simm be--! A prating gossip! Ivy, I told you, you were never to
mention that again,--never to think of it; and you must obey me."
"I will try to obey you in that."
"And very soon you shall promise to obey me in all things. But I will
not be hard with you. The yoke shall rest very lightly,--so lightly you
shall not feel it. You will not do as much, I dare say. You will make
me acknowledge your power every day, dear little vixen! Ivy, why do you
draw back? Why do you not come to me?"
"I cannot come to you, Mr. Clerron, any more. I must go home now, and
stay at home."
"When your home is here, Ivy, stay at home. For the present, don't go.
Wait a little."
"You do not understand me. You will not understand me," said Ivy,
bursting into tears. "I _must_ leave you. Don't make the way so
"I will make it so difficult that you cannot walk in it."
His tones were low, but determined.
"Why do you wish to leave me? Have you not said that you loved me?"
"It is because I love you that I go. I am not fit for you. I was not
made for you. I can never make you happy. I am not accomplished. I
cannot go among your friends, your sisters. I am awkward. You would be
ashamed of me, and then you would not love me; you could not; and I
should lose the thing I most value. No, Mr. Clerron,--I would rather
keep your love in my own heart and my own home."
"Ivy, can you be happy without me?"
"I shall not be without you. My heart is full of lifelong joyful
memories. You need not regret me. Yes, I shall be happy. I shall work
with mind and hands. I shall not pine away in a mean and feeble life. I
shall be strong, and cheerful, and active, and helpful; and I think I
shall not cease to love you in heaven."
"But there is, maybe, a long road for us to travel before we reach
heaven, and I want you to help me along. Ivy, I am not so spiritual as
you. I cannot live on memory. I want you before me all the time. I want
to see you and talk with you every day. Why do you speak of such
things? Is it the soul or its surroundings that you value? Do _you_
respect or care for wealth and station? Do _you_ consider a woman your
superior because she wears a finer dress than you?"
"I? No, Sir! No, indeed! you very well know. But the world does, and
you move in the world; and I do not want the world to pity you because
you have an uncouth, ignorant wife. _I_ don't want to be despised by
those who are above me only in station."
"Little aristocrat, you are prouder than I. Will you sacrifice your
happiness and mine to your pride?"
"Proud perhaps I am, but it is not all pride. I think you are noble,
but I think also you could not help losing patience when you found that
I could not accommodate myself to the station to which you had raised
me. Then you would not respect me. I am, indeed, too proud to wish to
lose that; and losing your respect, as I said before, I should not long
keep your love."
"But you will accommodate yourself to any station. My dear, you are
young, and know so little about this world, which is such a bugbear to
you. Why, there is very little that will be greatly unlike this. At
first you might be a little bewildered, but I shall be by you all the
time, and you shall feel and fear nothing, and gradually you will learn
what little you need to know; and most of all, you will know yourself
the best and the loveliest of women. Dear Ivy, I would not part with
your sweet, unconscious simplicity for all the accomplishments and
acquired elegancies of the finest lady in the world." (That's what men
always say.) "You are not ignorant of anything you ought to know, and
your ignorance of the world is an additional charm to one who knows so
much of its wickedness as I. But we will not talk of it. There is no
need. This shall be our home, and here the world will not trouble us."
"And I cannot give up my dear father and mother. They are not like you
and your friends"--
"They are my friends, and valued and dear to me, and dearer still they
shall be as the parents of my dear little wife"--
"I was going to say"--
"But you shall not say it. I utterly forbid you ever to mention it
again. You are mine, all my own. Your friends are my friends, your
honor my honor, your happiness my happiness henceforth; and what God
joins together let not man or woman put asunder."
"Ah!" whispered Ivy, faintly; for she was yielding, and just beginning
to receive the sense of great and unexpected bliss, "but if you should
be wrong,--if you should ever repent of this, it is not your happiness
alone, but mine, too, that will be destroyed."
Again their relative positions changed, and _remained so_ for a long
"Ivy, am I a mere schoolboy to swear eternal fidelity for a week? Have
I not been tossing hither and thither on the world's tide ever since
you lay in your cradle, and do I not know my position and my power and
my habits and love? And knowing all this, do I not know that this dear
head"----etc., etc., etc., etc.
But I said I was not going to marry my man and woman, did I not? Nor
have I. To be sure, you may have detected premonitory symptoms, but I
said nothing about that. I only promised not to marry them, and I have
not married them.
It is to be hoped they were married, however. For, on a fine June
evening, the setting sun cast a mellow light through the silken
curtains of a pleasant chamber, where Ivy lay on a white couch, pale
and and still,--very pale and still and statuelike; and by her side,
bending over her, with looks of unutterable love, clasping her in his
arms, as if to give out of his own heart the life that had so nearly
ebbed from hers, pressing upon the closed eyes, the white cheeks, the
silent lips kisses of such warmth and tenderness as never thrilled
maidenly lips in their rosiest flush of beauty,--knelt Felix Clerron;
and when the tremulous life fluttered back again, when the blue eyes
slowly opened and smiled up into his with an answering love, his
happiness was complete.
In a huge arm-chair, bolt upright, where they had placed him, sat
Farmer Geer, holding in his sadly awkward hands the unconscious cause
of all this agitation, namely, a poor, little, horrid, gasping, crying,
writhing, old-faced, distressed-looking, red, wrinkled, ridiculous
baby! between whose "screeches" Farmer Geer could be heard muttering,
in a dazed, bewildered way,--"Ivy's baby! Oh, Lud! who'd 'a' thunk it?
No more'n yesterday she was a baby herself. Lud! Lud!"
In a lumbering attic room,
Where, for want of light and air,
Years had died within the gloom,
Leaving dead dust everywhere,
Hung the portrait of a lady,
With a face so fair!
Time had long since dulled the paint,
Time, which all our arts disguise,
And the features now were faint,
All except the wondrous eyes,
Ever looking, looking, looking,
With such sad surprise!
As man loveth, man had loved
Her whose features faded there;
As man mourneth, man had mourned,
Weeping, in his dark despair,
When she left him broken-hearted
To his death of years.
Then for months the picture bent
All its eyes upon his face,
Following his where'er they went,--
Till another filled the place
In its stead,--
Till the features of the living
Did outface the dead.
Then for years it hung above
In that attic dim and ghast,
Fading with the fading love,
Sad reminder of the past,--
Save the eyes,
Ever looking, ever looking,
With such sad surprise!
Oft the distant laughter's sound
Entered through the cobwebbed door,
And the cry of children found
Dusty echoes from the floor
To those eyes,
Ever looking, ever looking,
With their sad surprise.
Once there moved upon the stair
Olden love-steps mounting slow,
But the face that met him there
Drove him to the depths below;
For those eyes
Through his soul seemed looking, looking,
All their sad surprise.
From that day the door was nailed
Of that memory-haunted room,
And the portrait hung and paled
In the dead dust and the gloom,--
Save the eyes,
Ever looking, ever looking,
With such sad surprise!
FROM THE AMERICAN MAGAZINE-LITERATURE OF THE LAST CENTURY.
One hundred and sixteen years ago, to wit, on the 20th day of October,
A.D. 1743, the quiet precincts of certain streets in the town of Boston
were the theatre of unusual proceedings. An unwonted activity pervaded
the well-known printing-office of the "Messrs. Rogers and Fowle, in
Prison Lane," now Court Street; a small printed sheet was being worked
off,--not with the frantic rush and roar of one of Hoe's six-cylinder
giants, but with the calm circumspection befitting the lever-press and
ink-balls of that day,--to be conveyed, so soon as it should have
assumed a presentable shape, to the counters of "Samuel Eliot, in
Cornhill" and "Joshua Blanchard, in Dock Square," (and, we will hope,
to the addresses indicated on a long subscription-list,) for the
entertainment and instruction of ladies in high-heeled shoes and hoops,
forerunners of greater things thereafter, and gentlemen in big wigs,
cocked hats, and small-clothes, no more to be encountered in our daily
walks, and known to their degenerate descendants only by the aid of the
art of limner or sculptor.
For some fifteen years, both in England and America, there had been
indications of an approaching modification in the existing forms of
periodical literature, enlarging its scope to something better and
higher than the brief and barren resume of current events to which the
Gazette or News-Letter of the day was in the main confined, and
affording an opportunity for the free discussion of literary and
artistic questions. Thus was gradually developed a class of
publications which professed, while giving a proper share of attention
to the important department of news, to occupy the field of literature
rather than of journalism, and to serve as a _Museum, Depository_, or
_Magazine_, of the polite arts and sciences. The very marked success of
the "Gentleman's Magazine," the pioneer English publication of this
class, which appeared in 1731 under the management of Cave, and reached
the then almost unparalleled sale often thousand copies, produced a
host of imitators and rivals, of which the "London Magazine," commenced
in April, 1732, was perhaps the most considerable. In January, 1741,
Benjamin Franklin began the publication of "The General Magazine and
Historical Chronicle for all the British Plantations in America," but
only six numbers were issued. In the same year, Andrew Bradford
published "The American Magazine, or Monthly View of the Political
State of the British Colonies," which was soon discontinued. Both these
unsuccessful ventures were made at Philadelphia. There were similar
attempts in Boston a little later. "The Boston Weekly Magazine" made
its appearance March 2,1743, and lived just four weeks. "The Christian
History," edited by Thomas Prince, Jr., son of the author of the "New
England Chronology," appeared three days after, (March 5, 1743,) and
reached the respectable age of two years. It professed to exhibit,
among other things, "Remarkable Passages, Historical and Doctrinal, out
of the most Famous old Writers both of the Church of England and
Scotland from the Reformation; as also the first Settlers of New
England and their Children; that we may see how far their pious
Principles and Spirit are at this day revived, and may guard against
[Footnote 1: It is said that as many as twenty thousand copies of
particular numbers of the "Spectator" were sold.]
It would appear, however, that none of the four magazines last named
were so general in their scope, or so well conducted, certainly they
were not so long-lived, as "The American Magazine and Historical
Chronicle," the first number of which, bearing date "September, 1743,"
appeared, as we have said, on the 20th of the following October, under
the editorial charge, as is generally supposed, of Jeremy Gridley,
Esq., Attorney-General of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, and the
head of the Masonic Fraternity in America, though less known to us,
perhaps, in either capacity, than he is as the legal instructor of the
patriot Otis, a pupil whom it became his subsequent duty as the officer
of the crown to encounter in that brilliant and memorable argument
against the "Writs of Assistance," which the pen of the historian, and,
more recently, the chisel of the sculptor, have contributed to render
immortal. This publication, if we regard it, as we doubtless may, as
the original and prototype of the "American Magazine," would seem to
have been rightly named. It was printed on what old Dr. Isaiah Thomas
calls "a fine medium paper in 8vo," and he further assures us that "in
its execution it was deemed equal to any work of the kind then
published in London." In external appearance, it was a close copy of
the "London Magazine," from whose pages (probably to complete the
resemblance) it made constant and copious extracts, not always
rendering honor to whom honor was due, and in point of mechanical
excellence, as well as of literary merit, certainly eclipsed the
contemporary newspaper-press of the town, the "Boston Evening Post,"
"Boston News Letter" and the "New England Courant." The first number
contained forty-four pages, measuring about six inches by eight. The
scope and object of the Magazine, as defined in the Preface, do not
vary essentially from the line adopted by its predecessors and
contemporaries, and seem, in the main, identical with what we have
recounted above as characteristic of this new movement in letters. The
novelty and extent of the field, and the consequent fewness and
inexperience of the laborers, are curiously shown by the miscellaneous,
_omnium-gatherum_ character of the publication, which served at once as
a Magazine, Review, Journal, Almanac, and General Repository and
Bulletin;--the table of contents of the first number exhibits a list of
subjects which would now be distributed among these various classes of
periodical literature, and perhaps again parcelled out according to the
subdivisions of each. Avowedly neutral in politics and religion, as
became an enterprise which relied upon the patronage of persons of all
creeds and parties, it recorded (usually without comment) the current
incidents of political and religious interest. A summary of news
appeared at the end of each number, under the head of "Historical
Chronicle"; but in the body of the Magazine are inserted, side by side
with what would now be termed "local items," contemporary narratives of
events, many of which have, in the lapse of more than a century,
developed into historical proportions, but which here meet us, as it
were, at first hand, clothed in such homely and impromptu dress as
circumstances might require, with all their little roughnesses,
excrescences, and absurdities upon them,--crude lumps of mingled fact
and fiction, not yet moulded and polished into the rounded periods of
The Magazine was established at the period of a general commotion among
the dry bones of New England Orthodoxy, caused by what is popularly
known as "the New-Light Movement," to do battle with which heresy arose
"The Christian History," above alluded to. The public mind was widely
and deeply interested, and the first number of our Magazine opens with
"A Dissertation on the State of Religion in North America," which is
followed by a fiery manifesto of the "Anniversary Week" of 1743,
entitled "The Testimony of the Pastors of the Churches in the Province
of the Massachusetts Bay in New-England at their Annual Convention in
Boston, May 25, 1743, Against several Errors in Doctrine and Disorders
in Practice, which have of late obtained in various Parts of the Land;
as drawn up by a Committee chosen by the said Pastors, read and
accepted Paragraph by Paragraph, and voted to be sign'd by the
Moderator in their Name, and Printed." These "Disorders" and "Errors"
are specified under six heads, being generalized at the outset as
"Antinomian and Familistical Errors." The number of strayed sheep must
have been considerable, since we find a Rejoinder put forth on the
seventh of the following July, which bears the signatures of
"Sixty-eight Pastors of Churches," (including fifteen who signed with a
reservation as to one Article,) styled "The Testimony and Advice of an
Assembly of Pastors of Churches in New England, at a Meeting in Boston,
July 7, 1743. Occasion'd by the late happy Revival of Religion in many
Parts of the Land." Some dozen new books, noticed in this number, are
likewise all upon theological subjects. The youthful University of Yale
took part in the conflict, testifying its zeal for the established
religion by punishing with expulsion (if we are to believe a writer in
"The New York Post-Boy" of March 17, 1745) two students, "for going
during Vacation, and while at Home with their Parents, to hear a
neighboring Minister preach who is distinguished in this Colony by the
Name of New Light, being by their said Parents perswaded, desired, or
ordered to go." The statement, however, is contradicted in a subsequent
number by the President of the College, the Rev. Thomas Clapp, D.D.,
who states "that they were expelled for being Followers of the Paines,
two Lay Exhorters, whose corrupt Principles and pernicious Practices
are set forth in the Declaration of the Ministers of the County of
Windham." In all probability the outcasts had "corrupt Principles and
pernicious Practices" charged to their private account in the Faculty
books, to which, quite as much as to any departure from Orthodox
standards, they may have been indebted for leave to take up their
The powerful Indian Confederacy, known as the Six Nations, had just
concluded at Philadelphia their famous treaty with the whites, and in
the numbers for October and November, 1743, we are furnished with some
curious notes of the proceedings at the eight or nine different
councils held on the occasion, which may or may not be historically
accurate. That the news was not hastily gathered or digested may be
safely inferred from the fact that the proceedings of the councils,
which met in July, 1742, are here given to the public at intervals of
fifteen and sixteen months afterwards. The assemblies were convened
first "at Mr. Logan's House," next "at the Meeting House," and finally
"at the Great Meeting House," where the seventh meeting took place July
10, in the presence of "a great Number of the Inhabitants of
Philadelphia." As usual, the Indians complain of their treatment at the
hands of the traders and their agents, and beg for more fire-water. "We
have been stinted in the Article of Rum in Town," they pathetically
observe,--"we desire you will open the Rum Bottle, and give it to us
in greater Abundance on the Road"; and again, "We hope, as you have
given us Plenty of good Provision whilst In Town, that you will
continue your Goodness so far as to supply us with a little more to
serve us on the Road." The first, at least, of these requests seems to
have been complied with; the Council voted them twenty gallons of
rum,--in addition to the twenty-five gallons previously bestowed,--
"to comfort them on the Road"; and the red men departed in an amicable
mood, though, from the valedictory address made them by the Governor,
we might perhaps infer that they had found reason to contrast the
hospitality of civilization with that shown in the savage state, to the
disadvantage of the former. "We wish," he says, "there had been more
Room and better Houses provided for your Entertainment, but not
expecting so many of you we did the best we could. 'Tis true there are
a great many Houses in Town, but as they are the Property of other
People who have their own Families to take care of, it is difficult to
procure Lodgings for a large Number of People, especially if they come
But the great item of domestic intelligence, which confronts us under
various forms in the pages of this Magazine, is the siege and capture
of Louisburg, and the reduction of Cape Breton to the obedience of the
British crown,--an acquisition for which his Majesty was so largely
indebted to the military skill of Sir William Pepperell, and the
courage of the New England troops, that we should naturally expect to
find the exploit narrated at length in a contemporary Boston magazine.
The first of the long series is an extract from the "Boston Evening
Post" of May 13, 1745, entitled, "A short Account of Cape Breton";
which is followed by "A further Account of the Island of Cape Breton,
of the Advantages derived to France from the Possession of that
Country, and of the Fishery upon its Coasts; and the Benefit that must
necessarily result to Great Britain from the Recovery of that important
Place,"--from the "London Courant" of July 25. In contrast to this cool
and calculating production, we have next the achievement, as seen from
a military point of view, in a "Letter from an Officer of Note in the
Train," dated Louisburg, June 20, 1745, who breaks forth thus:--"Glory
to God, and Joy and Happiness to my Country in the Reduction of this
Place, which we are now possessed of. It's a City vastly beyond all
Expectation for Strength and beautiful Fortifications; but we have made
terrible Havock with our Guns and Bombs. ... Such a fine City will be
an everlasting Honour to my Countrymen." Farther on, we have another
example of military eloquence in a "Letter from a Superior Officer at
Louisburgh, to his Friend and Brother at Boston," dated October 22,
1745. To this succeeds "A particular Account of the Siege and Surrender
of Louisburgh, on the 17th of June, 1745." The resources of the
pictorial art are called in to assist the popular conception of the
great event, and we are treated on page 271 to a rude wood-cut,
representing the "Town and Harbour of Louisburgh," accompanied by
"Certain Particulars of the Blockade and Distress of the Enemy." Still
farther on appears "The Declaration of His Excellency, William Shirley,
Esq., Captain General and Governour in Chief of the Province of the
Massachusetts Bay, to the Garrison at Louisburgh." July 18, 1745, was
observed as "a Day of publick Thanksgiving, agreeably to His
Excellency's Proclamation of the 8th inst., on Account of the wonderful
Series of Successes attending our Forces in the Reduction of the City
and Fortress of Louisburgh with the Dependencies thereof at Cape Breton
to the Obedience of His Majesty." There are also accounts of rejoicings
at Newport, New Haven, New York, Philadelphia, and other places. Nor
was the Muse silent on such an auspicious occasion: four adventurous
flights in successive numbers of the Magazine attest the loyalty, if
not the poetic genius of Colonial bards; and a sort of running fire of
description, narrative, and anecdote concerning the important event is
kept up in the numbers for many succeeding months.
But, whatever may have been the magnitude and interest of domestic
affairs, the enterprising vigilance of our journalists was far from
overlooking prominent occurrences on the other side of the water, and
the news by all the recent arrivals, dating from three to six months
later from Europe, was carefully, if at times somewhat briefly,
recapitulated. In this manner our ancestors heard of the brilliant
campaigns of Prince George, the Duke of Cumberland, and Marshal de
Noailles, during the War of the Austrian Succession,--of the battle of
Dettingen in June, 1743,--of the declaration of war between the kings
of France and England in March, 1744; and, above all, of the great
Scotch Rebellion of 1745. Here was stirring news, indeed, for the
citizens of Boston, and for all British subjects, wherever they might
be. The suspense in which loyal New England was plunged, as to whether
"great George our King and the Protestant succession" were to succumb
before the Pretender and his Jesuitical followers, was happily
terminated by intelligence of the decisive battle of Culloden, the
tidings of which victory, gained on the 16th of April, 1746, appear in
the number for July. Public joy and curiosity demanded full particulars
of the glorious news, and a copy of the official narrative of the
battle, dated "Inverness, April 18th," is served out to the hungry
quidnuncs of Boston, in the columns of our Magazine, as had been done
three months before to consumers equally rapacious in the London
coffeehouses. With commendable humanity, the loss of the insurgent army
is put at "two thousand,"--although "the Rebels by their own Accounts
make the Loss greater by 2000 than we have stated it." In the fatal
list appears the name of "Cameron of Lochiel," destined, through the
favor of the Muse, to an immortality which is denied to equally
intrepid and unfortunate compatriots. The terms of the surrender upon
parole of certain French and Scotch officers at Inverness,--the return
of the ordnance and stores captured,--names of the killed and wounded
officers of the rebel army,--various congratulatory addresses,--an
extract from a letter from Edinburgh, concerning the battle,--an
account of the subsequent movement of the forces,--various anecdotes of
the Duke of Cumberland, during the engagement,--etc., are given with
much parade and circumstance. The loyalty of the citizens is evidenced
by the following "local item," under date of "Boston, Thursday,
3d":--"Upon the Confirmation of the joyful News of the Defeat of the
Rebels in Scotland, and of the Life and Health of His Royal Highness
the Duke of Cumberland, on Wednesday, the 2d inst., at Noon, the Guns
at Castle William and the Batteries of the Town were fired, as were
those on Board the Massachusetts Frigate, etc., and in the Evening we
had Illuminations and other Tokens of Joy and Satisfaction." There are
also curious biographical sketches and anecdotes of the Earl of
Kilmarnock, Lord Balmerino, and others, among those engaged in this
ill-judged attempt, who expiated their treason on the scaffold, from
which interesting extracts might be made. The following seems a very
original device for the recovery of freedom,--one, we think, which, to
most readers of the present day even, will truly appear a "new" and
"Carlisle, Sept. 27, 1746.
"The Method taken by the Rebels here under Sentence of Death to make
their Escape is quite new, and reckoned a most extraordinary Invention,
as by no other Instrument than a Case-Knife, a Drinking-Glass and a
Silk Handkerchief, seven of them in one Night had sawn off their Irons,
thus:--They laid the Silk Handkerchief single, over the Mouth of the
Glass, but stretched it as much as it would bear, and tied it hard at
the Bottom of the Glass; then they struck the Edge of the Knife on the
Mouth of the Glass, (thus covered with the Handkerchief to prevent
Noise,) till it became a Saw, with which they cut their Irons till it
was Blunt, and then had Recourse to the Mouth of the Glass again to
renew the Teeth of the Saw; and so completed their Design by Degrees.
This being done in the Dead of Night, and many of them at Work
together, the little Noise they made was overheard by the Centinels;
who informed their Officers of it, they quietly doubled their Guard,
and gave the Rebels no Disturbance till Morning, when it was discovered
that several of them were loose, and that others had been trying the
same Trick. 'Tis remarkable that a Knife will not cut a Handkerchief
when struck upon it in this Manner."
About one-eighth part of the first volume of the Magazine is occupied
with reports of Parliamentary debates, entitled, "Journal of the
Proceedings and Debates of a Political Club of young Noblemen and
Gentlemen established some time ago in London." They seem to be copied,
with little, if any alteration, from the columns of the "London
Magazine," and are introduced to an American public with this mildly
ironical preface:--"We shall give our Readers in our next a List of the
British Parliament. And as it is now render'd unsafe to entertain the
Publick with any Accounts of their Proceedings or Debates, we shall
give them in their Stead, in some of our subsequent Magazines, Extracts
from the Journals of a Learned and Political Club of young Noblemen and
Gentlemen established some time ago in London. Which will in every
Respect answer the same Intentions."
The scientific world was all astir just then with new-found marvels of
Electricity,--an interest which was of course much augmented in this
country by the ingenious experiments and speculations of the
printer-philosopher. In the volume for the year 1745 is "An Historical
Account of the wonderful Discoveries made in Germany, etc., concerning
Electricity," in the course of which the writer says, (speaking of the
experiments of a Mr. Gray,) "He also discovered another surprising
Property of electric Virtue, which is that the approach of a Tube of
electrified Glass communicates to a hempen or silken Cord an electric
Force which is conveyed along the Cord to the Length of 886 feet, at
which amazing Distance it will impregnate a Ball of Ivory with the same
Virtue as the Tube from which it was derived." So true is it, that
things are great and small solely by comparison: the lapse of something
over a century has gradually stretched this "amazing distance" to many
hundreds of miles, and now the circumference of the globe is the only
limit which we feel willing to set to its extension.
At page 691 of the previous volume we have an "Extract from a Pamphlet
lately published at Philadelphia intitled 'An Account of the New
Invented Pennsylvanian Fire Places.'" This was probably from the pen of
Franklin, who expatiates as follows on the advantages derivable from
these fireplaces, which are still occasionally to be met with, and
known as "Franklin Stoves":--"By the Help of this saving Invention our
Wood may grow as fast as we consume it, and our Posterity may warm
themselves at a moderate Rate, without being oblig'd to fetch their
Fuel over the Atlantick; as, if Pit-Coal should not be here discovered,
(which is an Uncertainty,) they must necessarily do."
That a taste for the beauties of Nature was extant at the epoch of
which we treat may be inferred from the statement of a writer who
commences "An Essay in Praise of the Morning" as follows:--"I have the
good Fortune to be so pleasantly lodg'd as to have a Prospect of a
neighboring Grove, where the Eye receives the most delicious
Refreshment from the lively Verdure of the Greens, and the wild
Regularity by which the Scene shifts off and disparts itself into a
The ever interesting and disputed topics of dress and diet come in for
an occasional discussion. The following is a characteristic specimen of
the satirical vein of the British essayist school, though we have been
unable to ascertain, by reference to the "Spectator," "Tatler,"
"Rambler," "Guardian," etc., the immediate source whence it was taken.
It reads as follows:--"_History of Female Dress_. The sprightly Gauls
set their little Wits to work again," (on resuming the war under Queen
Anne,) "and invented a wonderful Machine call'd a Hoop Petticoat. In
this fine Scheme they had more Views than one; they had compar'd their
own Climate and Constitution with that of the British, and finding both
warmer, they naturally enough concluded that would only be pleasantly
cool to them, which would perhaps give the British Ladies the
Rheumatism, and that if they once got them off their Legs they should
have them at Advantage; Besides, they had been inform'd, though
falsely, that the British Ladies had not good Legs, and then at all
Events this Scheme would expose them. With these pernicious Views they
set themselves to work, and form'd a Rotund of near 7 Yards about, and
sent the Pattern over by the Sussex Smugglers with an Intent that it
should be seiz'd and expos'd to Publick View; which happen'd
accordingly, and made its first Appearance at a Great Man's House on
that Coast, whose Lady claim'd it as her peculiar Property. In it she
first struck at Court what the learned in Dress call a bold Stroke; and
was thereupon constituted General of the British Ladies during the War.
Upon the Whole this Invention did not answer. The Ladies suffer'd a
little the first Winter, but after that were so thoroughly harden'd
that they improv'd upon the Contrivers by adding near 2 Yards to its
Extension, and the Duke of Marlboro' having about the same Time beat
the French, the Gallic Ladies dropt their Pretensions, and left the
British Misstresses of the Field; the Tokens whereof are worn in
Triumph to this Day, having outlasted the Colors in Westminster Hall,
and almost that great General's Glory."
To a similar source must probably be referred an article in the same
volume, entitled, "Of Diet in General, and of the bad Effects of
Tea-Drinking." The genuine conservative flavor of the extract is
deliciously apparent, while its wholesale denunciations are drawn but
little, if at all, stronger than those which may even yet be
occasionally met with. "If we compare the Nature of Tea with the Nature
of English Diet, no one can think it a proper Vegetable for us. It has
no Parts fit to be assimilated to our Bodies; its essential Salt does
not hold Moisture enough to be joined to the Body of an Animal; its Oyl
is but very little, and that of the opiate kind, and therefore it is so
far from being nutritive, that it irritates and frets the Nerves and
Fibres, exciting the expulsive Faculty, so that the Body may be
lessened and weakened, but it cannot increase and be strengthened by
it. We see this by common Experience; the first Time persons drink it,
if they are full grown, it generally gives them a Pain at the Stomach,
Dejection of Spirits, Cold Sweats, Palpitation at the Heart, Trembling,
Fearfulness; taking away the Sense of Fulness though presently after
Meals, and causing a hypochondriac, gnawing Appetite. These symptoms
are very little inferiour to what the most poisonous Vegetables we have
in England would occasion when dried and used in the same manner.
"These ill Effects of Tea are not all the Mischiefs it occasions. Did
it cause none of them, but were it entirely wholesome, as Balm or Mint,
it were yet Mischief enough to have our whole Populace used to sip warm
Water in a mincing, effeminate Manner, once or twice every Day; which
hot Water must be supped out of a nice Tea-Cup, sweatened with Sugar,
biting a Bit of nice thin Bread and Butter between Whiles. This mocks
the strong Appetite, relaxes the Stomach, satiates it with trifling
light Nick-Nacks which have little in them to support hard Labour. In
this manner the Bold and Brave become dastardly, the Strong become
weak, the Women become barren, or if they breed their Blood is made so
poor that they have not Strength to suckle, and if they do the Child
dies of the Gripes; In short, it gives an effeminate, weakly Turn to
the People in general."
Another humorous philosopher, who is benevolently anxious that his
fellow-creatures may not be taken in by the rustic meteorologists,
satirically furnishes a number of infallible tests to determine the
approach of a severe season. He entitles his contribution to
meteorological science,--"_Jonathan Weatherwise's Prognostications._
As it is not likely that I have a long Time to act on the Stage of this
Life, for what with Head-Aches, hard Labour, Storms and broken
Spectacles I feel my Blood chilling, and Time, that greedy Tyrant,
devouring my whole Constitution," etc.,--an exordium which is certainly
well adapted to excite our sympathy for Jonathan, even if it fail to
inspire confidence in his "Prognostications," and leave us a little in
the dark as to the necessary connection between "broken spectacles" and
the "chilling of the blood." The criteria he gives us are truly
Ingenious and surprising; but though the greater part would prove
novel, we believe, to the present generation, we can here quote but
one. He tells us, that, when a boy, he "swore revenge on the Grey
Squirrel," in consequence of a petted animal of this species having
"bitten off the tip of his grandmother's finger,"--a resolution which
proved, as we shall see, unfortunate for the squirrels, but of immense
advantage to science. To gratify this dire animosity, and in fulfilment
of his vow, he persevered for nearly half a century in the perilous and
exciting sport of squirrel-hunting, departing "every Year, for
forty-nine successive Years, on the 22d of October, excepting when that
Day fell on a Sunday," in which case he started on the Monday
following, to take vengeance for the outrage committed on his aged
relative. Calm philosophy, however, enabled him, "in the very storm,
tempest, and, as I may say, whirlwind of his passion," to observe and
record the following remarkable fact in Zoology: "When shot from a high
Limb they would put their Tails in their Mouths as they were tumbling,
and die in that Manner; I did not know what to make of it, 'till, in
Process of Time, I found that when they did so a hard Winter always
succeeded, and this may be depended on as infallible."
The author of "An Essay on Puffing" (a topic which we should hardly
have thought to have found under discussion at a period so much nearer
the golden age than the present) remarks,--"Dubious and uncertain is
the Source or Spring of Puffing in this Infant Country, it not being
agreed upon whether Puffs were imported by the primitive Settlers of
the Wilderness, (for the Puff is not enumerated in the aboriginal
Catalogue,) or whether their Growth was spontaneous or accidental.
However uncertain we are about the Introduction or first Cultivation of
Puffs, it is easy to discover the Effects or Consequences of their
Improvement in all Professions, Perswasions and Occupations."
Under the head which has assumed, in modern journalism, an extent and
importance second only to the Puff, to wit, the "Horrible Accident
Department," we find but a single item, but that one of a nature so
unique and startling that it seems to deserve transcribing. "February 7
. We hear from Statten Island that a Man who had been married
about 5 months, having a Design to get rid of his Wife, got some
poisoned Herbs with which he advised her to stuff a Leg of Veal, and
when it was done found an Excuse to be absent himself; but his Wife
having eat of it found herself ill, and he coming Home soon after
desired her to fry him some Sausages which she did, and having
eat of them also found himself ill; upon which he asked his
Wife what she fried them in, who answered, in the Sauce of the
Veal; then, said he, I am a dead man: So they continued sick for some
Days and then died, but he died the first." We hardly know which most
to admire, the graphic and terrible simplicity of this narrative of
villany, or the ignorance which it discovers of the modern art of
penny-a-lining, an expert practitioner of which would have spread the
shocking occurrence over as many columns as this bungling report
The poetical contents of our Magazine consist mainly, as we have said,
of excerpts from the popular productions of English authors, as they
were found in the magazines of the mother country or in their published
works, the diluted stanzas of their imitators, satirical verses,
epigrams, and translations from the Latin poets. There are, however,
occasional strains from the native Muse, and here and there a waif from
sources now, perhaps, lost or forgotten. Before "he threw his Virgil by
to wander with his dearer bow," Mr. Freneau's Indian seems to have
determined to leave on record a proof of his classical attainments, for
he is doubtless the author of "A Latin Ode written by an American
Indian, a Junior Sophister at Cambridge, anno 1678, on the death of the
Reverend and Learned Mr. Thacher,"--a translation of which is given at
page 166, prefaced thus:--"As the Original of the following Piece is
very curious, the publishing this may perhaps help you to some better
Translation. Attempted from the Latin of an American Indian." The
probability that any reader of the present paper would be disposed to
help us to this "better Translation" seems too remote to warrant us in
giving the Ode _in extenso_; nor do we think any would thank us for
transcribing a cloudy effusion, a little farther on, entitled, "On the
Notion of an abstract antecedent Fitness of Things." The following
estrays are perhaps worth the capture; they profess to date back to the
reign of Queen Mary, and are styled, "Some Forms of Prayer used by the
THE LITTLE CREED.
Little Creed can I need,
Kneel before our Lady's Knee,
Candle light, Candle burn,
Our Lady pray'd to her dear Son
That we might all to Heaven come;
Little Creed, Amen!
THE WHITE PATER NOSTER.
White Pater Noster, St. Peter's Brother,
What hast thou in one hand? White-Book Leaves.
What hast i'th' to'ther? Heaven Gate Keys.
Open Heaven Gates, and steike (shut) Hell Gates,
And let every crysom Child creep to its own mother:
White Pater Noster, Amen!
We do not think that the poets of the anti-shaving movement have as yet
succeeded in producing anything worthy to be set off against a series
of spirited stanzas under the heading of "The Razor, a Poem," which we
commend to the immediate and careful attention of the "Razor-strop
Man." The following are the concluding verses:--
"But, above all, thou grand Catholicon,
Or by what useful Name so'er thou'rt call'd,
Thou Sweet Composer of the tortur'd Mind!
When all the Wheels of Life are heavy clogg'd
With Cares or Pain, and nought but Horror dire
Before us stalks with dreadful Majesty,
Embittering all the Pleasures we enjoy;
To thee, distressed, we call; thy gentle Touch
Consigns to balmy Sleep our troubled Breasts."
Evidently the production of a philosopher and an economist of time: for
who else would have thought of shaving before going to bed, instead of
at the matutinal toilet?
In less than five years from the date of its first number, (1743,) "The
American Magazine and Historical Chronicle" had ceased to exist, and in
the year 1757 appeared "The American Magazine and Monthly Chronicle for
the British Colonies." This was published by Mr. William Bradford in
Philadelphia, under the auspices of "a Society of Gentlemen," who
declare themselves to be "_veritatis cultores, fraudis inimici_," but
who probably found themselves unequal to the difficulties of such a
position, the Magazine having expired just one year after its birth. It
was followed by "The New England Magazine," (1758,) "The American
Magazine," (1769,) "The Royal American Magazine," (1774,) "The
Pennsylvania Magazine, or American Monthly Museum," (1775,) "The
Columbian Magazine," (1786,) "The Worcester Magazine," (the same year,)
"The American Museum," (1787,) "The Massachusetts Magazine," (1789,)
"The New-York Magazine," (1790,) "The Rural Magazine & Vermont
Repository," (1796,) "The Missionary Magazine," (same year,)--and
others. The premature mortality characteristic of some of our own
magazine-literature was, even at this early period, painfully apparent:
none of the publications we have named survived their twelfth year,
most of them lived less than half that period. A great diversity in the
style and quality of their contents, as well as in external appearance,
is, of course, observable, and it somewhat requires the eye of faith to
see within their rusty and faded covers the germ of that gigantic
literary plant which, in this year of Grace, 1860, counts in the city
of Boston alone nearly one hundred and fifty periodical publications,
(about one-third being legitimate magazines,) perhaps as many more in
the other New England cities and towns, and a progeny of unknown, but
very considerable extent, throughout the Union.
Apart even from their value to the historiographer and the antiquary,
few relics of the past are more suggestive or interesting than the old
magazine or newspaper. The houses, furniture, plate, clothing, and
decorations of the generations which have preceded us possess their
intrinsic value, and serve also to link by a thousand associations the
mysterious past with the actual and living present; but the old
periodical brings back to us, beside all this, the bodily presence, the
words, the actions, and even the very thoughts of the people of a
former age. It is, in mercantile phrase, a book of original entry,
showing us the transactions of the time in the light in which they were
regarded by the parties engaged in them, and reflecting the state of
public sentiment on innumerable topics,--moral, religious, political,
philosophic, military, and scientific. Its mistakes of fact or
induction are honest and palpable ones, easily corrected by
contemporaneous data or subsequent discoveries, and not often posted
into the ledger of history without detection. The learned and patient
labors of the savant or the scholar are not expected of the pamphleteer
or the periodical writer of the last century, or of the present; he
does but blaze the pathway of the pains-taking engineer who is to
follow him, happy enough, if he succeed in satisfying immediate and
daily demands, and in capturing the kind of game spoken of by Mr. Pope
in that part of his manual where he instructs us to
"shoot folly as it flies,
And catch the manners living as they rise."
Among us, however, the magazine-writer, as he existed in the last
century, has left few, if any, representatives. He is fading
silently away into a forgotten antiquity; his works are not
on the publishers' counters,--they linger only among the dust and
cobwebs of old libraries, listlessly thumbed by the exploring reader or
occasionally consulted by the curious antiquary. His place is occupied
by those who, in the multiplication of books, the diffusion of
information, and the general alteration of public taste, manners, and
habits, though revolving in a similar orbit, move in quite another
plane,--who have found in the pages of the periodical a theatre of
special activity, a way to the entertainment and instruction of the
many; and though much of what is thus produced may bear, as we have
hinted, a character more or less ephemeral, we are sometimes presented
also with the earlier blossoms and the fresher odors of a rich and
perennial growth of genius, everywhere known and acknowledged in the
realms of belles-lettres, philosophy, and science, crowded here as in a
nursery, to be soon transplanted to other and more permanent abodes.
COME SI CHIAMA?
OR A LEAF FROM THE CENSUS OF 1850.
The first question asked of a "new boy" at school is, "What's your
name?" In this year of Grace the eighth decennial census is to be
taken, asking that same question of all new comers into the great
public school where towns and cities are educated. It will hardly be
effected with that marvellous perfection of organization by which Great
Britain was made to stand still for a moment and be statistically
photographed. For with consummate skill was planned that all-embracing
machinery, so that at one and the same moment all over the United
Kingdom the recording pen was catching every man's status and setting
it down. The tramp on the dusty highway, the clerk in the
counting-house, the sportsman upon the moor, the preacher in his
pulpit, game-bird and barn-door fowl alike, all were simultaneously
bagged. Unless, like the Irishman's swallow, you could be in two places
at once, down you went on the recording-tablets. Christopher Sly, from
the ale-house door, if caught while the Merry Duke had possession of
him, must be chronicled for a peer of the realm; Bully Bottom, if the
period of his translations fell in with the census-taking, must be
numbered among the cadgers' "mokes"; nay, if Dogberry himself had
encountered the officials at the moment of his pathetic lamentation, he
were irrevocably written down "an ass."
We can hardly hope for such celerity and sure handling upon this side
of the water. Nor is this the subject we have just now in view. The
approaching advent of the census-taker has led us to look back at the
labor of his predecessor, and the careless turning over of its pages
has set us to musing upon NAMES.
William Shakspeare asks, "What's in a name?" England's other great
poetical William has devoted a series of his versifyings to the naming
of places. Which has the right of it, let us not undertake to pronounce
without consideration. England herself has long ago determined the
question. As Mr. Emerson says of English names,--"They are an
atmosphere of legendary melody spread over the land; older than all
epics and histories which clothe a nation, this undershirt sits close
to the body." Dean Trench, who handles words as a numismatist his
coins, has said substantially the same thing. And it is true not of
England only; for the various lands of Europe are written over like
palimpsests with the story of successive conquests and dominations
chronicled in their local names. You stop and ask why a place is so
called,--sure to be rewarded by a legend lurking beneath the title.
Like the old crests of heraldry, with their "canting" mottoes beneath,
they are history in little, a war or a revolution distilled into the
powerful attar of a single phrase. The Rhineland towers of Falkenstein
and Stolzenfels are the local counterparts of the Scotch borderers'
"Thou shalt want ere I want," for ominous meaning.
The volume we have just laid down painfully reminds us that the poet
and the historian have no such heritage in this land. We have done our
best to crowd out all the beautiful significant names we found here,
and to replace them by meaningless appellations. For the name of a
thing is that which really has in it something of that to which it
belongs, which describes and classifies it, and is its spoken
representative; while the appellation is only a title conferred by act
of Parliament or her Majesty's good pleasure: it cannot make a parvenu
into a peer.
But we are not writing for the mere interest of the poet and the
novelist. Fit names are not given, but grow; and we believe there is
not a spot in the land, possessing any attractiveness, but has its name
ready fitted to it, waiting unsyllabled in the air above it for the
right sponsor to speak it into life. We plead for public convenience
simply. We are thinking not of the ears of taste, but of the brain of
business. We do not wonder at the monstrous accumulations of the
Dead-Letter Office, when we see the actual poverty which our system of
naming places has brought about. Pardon us a few statistics, and, as
you read them, remember, dear reader, that this is the story of ten
years ago, and that the enormous growths of the last decade have
probably increased the evil prodigiously.
The volume in question gives a list of a trifle under ten thousand
places,--to be accurate, of nine thousand eight hundred and twenty odd.
For these nine thousand cities, towns, and villages have been provided
but _three_ thousand eight hundred and twenty names. All the rest have
been baptized according to the results of a promiscuous scramble. Some,
indeed, make a faint show of variety, by additions of such adjectives
as New, North, South, East, West, or Middle. If we reduce the list of
original names by striking out these and all the compounds of "ville,"
"town," and the like, we get about three thousand really distinctive
names for American towns. Three hundred and thirty odd we found here
when we came,--being Indian or _Native_ American. Three hundred and
thirty more we imported from the United Kingdom of Great Britain and
Ireland. A dozen were added to them from the pure well of Welsh
undefiled, and mark the districts settled by Cambro-Britons. Out of our
Bibles we got thirty-three Hebrew appellations, nearly all ludicrously
inappropriate; and these we have been very fond of repeating. In
California, New Mexico, Texas, Florida, and the Louisiana purchase, we
bought our names along with the land. Fine old French and Spanish ones
they are; some thirty of them names of Saints, all well-sounding and
pleasant to the ear. And there is a value in these names not at first
perceptible. Most of them serve to mark the day of the year upon which
the town was founded. They are commemorative dates, which one need only
look at the calendar to verify. As an instance of this, there is the
forgotten title of Lake George, Lake St. Sacrament, which, in spite of
Dr. Cleveland Coxe's very graceful ballad, we must hold to have been
conferred because the lake was discovered on Corpus-Christi Day. In the
Mississippi Valley, the great chain of French military occupation can
still be faintly traced, like the half-obliterated lines of a redoubt
which the plough and the country road have passed over.
There remain about two thousand names, which may fairly be called of
American manufacture. We exclude, of course, those which were
transferred from England, since they were probably brought directly.
They have a certain fitness, as affectionate memorials of the Old
Country lingering in the hearts of the exiles. Thus, though St. Botolph
was of the fenny shire of Lincoln, and the new comers to the
Massachusetts Bay named their little peninsula Suffolk, the county of
the "South-folk," we do not quarrel with them for calling their future
city "Bo's or Botolph's town," out of hearts which did not wholly
forget their birthplace with its grand old church, whose noble tower
still looks for miles away over the broad levels toward the German
Ocean. Nor do we think Plymouth to be utterly meaningless, though it is
not at the mouth of the Ply, or any other river such as wanders through
the Devon Moorlands to the British Channel.
"Et parvam Trojam, simulataque magnis
Pergama, et arentem Xanthi cognomine rivum
Agnosco: Seaeaeque amplector limina portae."
Throughout New England, and in all the original colonies, we find this
to be the case. But, as Americans, we must reject both what our fathers
brought and what they found. Two thousand specimens of the American
talent for nomenclature, then, we can exhibit. Walk up, gentlemen! Here
you have the top-crest of the great wave of civilization. Hero is a
people, emancipated from Old-World trammels, setting the world a
lesson. What is the result? With the grand divisions of our land we
have not had much to do. Of the States, seventeen were baptized by
their Indian appellations; four were named by French and Spanish
discoverers; six were called after European sovereigns; three, which
bear the prefix of New, have the names of English counties;--there
remains Delaware, the title of an English nobleman, leaving us
Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Rhode Island, three precious bits of modern
classicality. Let us now come to the counties. Ten years ago there were
some fifteen hundred and fifty-five of these. One hundred and
seventy-three bear Indian names, and there are one or two uncertain.
For these fifteen hundred and fifty-five counties there are eight
hundred and eighty-eight names, about one to every two. Seven hundred
are, then, of Anglo-Saxon bestowing? No. Another hundred are of Spanish
and French origin. Six hundred county-names remain; fifty of which,
neat as imported, are the names of English places, and fifty more are
names bestowed in compliment to English peers. Five hundred are the
We beg pardon for these dry statistical details, over which we have
spent some little time and care; but they furnish a base of operations.
Yet something more remains to be added. We have, it is true, about two
thousand names of places and five hundred of counties purely American,
or at least due to American taste. In most instances the county-names
are repeated in some of the towns within their borders. Therefore we
fall back upon our original statement, that two thousand names are the
net product of Yankee ingenuity. It is hardly necessary to assure the
most careless reader that the vast majority of these are names of
persons. And it needs no wizard to conjecture that these are bestowed
in very unequal proportions. Here the true trouble of the
Postmaster-General and his staff begins.
The most frequent names are, of course, those of the Presidents. The
"Father of his Country" has the honor of being god-father to no small
portion of it. For there are called after him _one_ territory,
_twenty-six_ counties, and _one hundred and thirty-eight_ towns and
villages. Adams, the next, has but _six_ counties and _twenty-six_
towns; but his son is specially honored by a village named J.Q. Adams.
Jefferson has _seventeen_ counties and _seventy-four_ towns. Madison
has _fifteen_ counties and _forty-seven_ towns. Monroe has _sixteen_
counties and _fifty-seven_ towns, showing that the "era of good
feeling" was extending in his day. The second Adams has one town to
himself; but the son of his father could expect no more. Jackson has
_fifteen_ counties and _one hundred and twenty-three_ towns, beside
_six_ "boroughs" and "villes,"--showing what it was to have won the
Battle of New Orleans. Van Euren gets _four_ counties and
_twenty-eight_ towns. Harrison _seven_ counties and _fifty-seven_
towns, as becomes a log-cabin and hard-cider President. Tyler has but
_three_ counties, and not a single town, village, or hamlet even. Polk
has _five_ counties and _thirteen towns_. Taylor, _three_ counties and
_twelve_ towns. The remaining Presidents being yet in life and eligible
to a second term, it would be invidious to make further disclosures
till after the conventions. Among unsuccessful candidates there is a
vast difference in popularity. Clay has _thirty-two_ towns, and Webster
only _four_. Cass has _fourteen_, and Calhoun only _one_. Of
Revolutionary heroes, Wayne and Warren are the favorites, having
respectively _thirteen_ and _fourteen_ counties and _fifty-three_ and
_twenty-eight_ towns. But "Principles, not Men," has been at times the
American watchword; therefore there are _ten_ counties and _one hundred
and three_ towns named "Union."
We have given the reader a dose, we fear, of statistics; but imagine
yourself, dear, patient friend, what you may yet be, Postmaster-General
of these United States, with the responsibility of providing for all
these bewildering post-offices. And we pray you to heed the absolute
poverty of invention which compelled forty-nine towns to call
themselves "Centre." Forty-nine Centres! There are towns named after
the points of compass simply,--not only the cardinal points, but the
others,--so that the census-taker may, if he likes, "box the compass,"
in addition to his other duties.
But worse than the too common names (anything but proper ones) are the
eccentric. The colors are well represented; for, beside Oil and Paint
for materials, there are Brown, Black, Blue, Green, White, Cherry,
Gray, Hazel, Plum, Rose, and Vermilion. The animals come in for their
share; for we find Alligator, Bald-Eagle, Beaver, Buck, Buffalo, Eagle,
Eel, Elk, Fawn, East-Deer and West-Deer, Bird, Fox, (in Elk County,)
Pigeon, Plover, Raccoon, Seal, Swan, Turbot, Wild-Cat, and Wolf. Then
again, the christening seems to have been preceded by the shaking in a
hat of a handful of vowels and consonants, the horrible results of
which _sortes_ appear as Alna, Cessna, Chazy, Clamo, Novi, (we suspect
the last two to be Latin verbs, out of place, and doing duty as
substantives,) Cumru, Freco, Fristo, Josco, Hamtramck, Medybemps, Haw,
Kan, Paw-Paw, Pee-Pee, Kinzua, Bono, Busti, Lagro, Letart, Lodomillo,
Moluncus, Mullica, Lomira, Neave, Oley, Orland, and the felicitous
ringing of changes which occurs in Luray, Leroy, and Leray, to say
nothing of Ballum, Bango, Helts, and Hellam. And in other unhappy
places, the spirit of whim seems to have seized upon the inhabitants.
Who would wish to write themselves citizens of Murder-Kill-Hundred, or
Cain, or of the town of Lack, which places must be on the high road to
Fugit and Constable? There are several anti-Maine-law places, such as
Tom and Jerry, Whiskeyrun, Brandywine, Jolly, Lemon, Pipe, and Pitcher,
in which Father Matthew himself could hardly reside unimpeached in
repute. They read like the names in the old-fashioned "Temperance
Tales," all allegory and alcohol, which flourished in our boyhood.
Then, by way of counterpart to these, there are sixty-four places known
as Liberty, and thirteen as Freedom, but only one as Moral,--passing by
which, we suppose we shall come to Climax, and, thence descending,
arrive, as the whirligig of time appointeth, at Smackover, unless we
pause in Economy, or Equality, or Candor, or Fairplay.
If we were land-hunters, we might ponder long over the town of Gratis,
unless we thought Bonus promised more. There is Extra, and, if
tautologically fond of grandeur, _Metropolis City_,--a mighty Babel of
(in 1850) _four hundred and twenty-seven_ inhabitants,--and Bigger,
which has _seven hundred_. A brisk man would hardly choose Nodaway for
his home, nor a haymaker the town of Rain. And of all practical
impertinences, what could in this land of novelty equal the calling of
one's abiding-place "New"? We fully expect that 1860 will reveal a
comparative and superlative, and perhaps even a super-superlative,
("Newest-of-all,") upon its columns.
But what is the sense of such titles as Buckskin, Bullskin, (is it
Byrsa, by way of proving Solomon's adage,--"There is nothing new under
the sun"?) Chest, and Posey? There is one unfortunate place (do they
take the New York "Herald" and "Ledger" there?) which has "gone and got
itself christened" Mary Ann, and another (where "Childe Harold" is
doubtless in favor) is called Ada. There is a Crockery, a Carryall, and
a Turkey-Foot,--which last, like the broomstick in Goethe's ballad, is
chopped in two, only to reappear as a double nuisance, as Upper and
Then what paucity of ideas is revealed in the fact that a number of
names are simply common nouns, or, worse yet, spinster adjectives,
"singly blest"! Such are Hill, Mountain, Lake, Glade, Rock, Glen, Bay,
Shade, Valley, Village, District, Falls, which might profitably be
joined in holy matrimony with the following,--Grand, Noble, Plain,
Pleasant, Rich, Muddy, Barren, Fine, and Flat.
As for one or two other unfortunates, like Bloom and Lumber, they can
only be sent to State's Prison for life, with Bean-Blossom and
Scrub-Grass. We need hardly mention that to the religious public,
including special attention to "clergymen and their families," Calvin,
Wesley, Whitefield, Tate, Brady, and Watts offer peculiar attractions.
But there is a class of names which does gladden us, partly from their
oddity, and partly from a feeling at first sight that they are names
really suggestive of something which has happened,--and this is apt to
turn out the fact. Thus, Painted-Post, in New York, and Baton-Rouge, in
Louisiana, are honest, though quaint appellatives; Standing-Stone is
another; High-Spire, a fourth. Others of the same class provoke our
curiosity. Thus, Grand-View-and-Embarras seems to have a history. So do
Warrior's-Mark and Broken-Straw. There is one queer name, Pen-Yan,
which is said to denote the component parts of its population,
_Pen_nsylvanians and _Yan_kees; and we have hopes that Proviso is not
meaningless. Also we would give our best pen to know the true origin of
Loyal-Sock, and of Marine-Town in the inland State of Illinois. This
last is like a "shipwreck on the coast of Bohemia." There is, too, a
memorial of the Greek Revolution which tells its own story,
--Scio-and-Webster! We could hardly wish the awkward partnership
dissolved. But who will unravel the mysteries of New-Design and
New-Faul? and can any one tell us whether the fine Norman name of
Sanilac is really the euphonious substitute for Bloody-Pond? If there
be in America that excellent institution, "Notes and Queries," here is
matter for their meddling.
But it is time to shut the book. For we are weary of picking holes in
our own _poncho_, and inclined to muse a little upon the science of
naming places. After what we have said about names growing,--_Nomen
nascitur, non fil,_--we cannot expect that the evil can be remedied by
Congress or Convention. Yet the Postal Department has fair cause of
complaint. Thus much might be required, that all the supernumerary
spots answering to the same hail should be compelled to change their
titles. Government exercises a tender supervision of the nomenclature
of our navy. Our ships of war are not permitted to disgrace the flag by
uncouth titles. Enterprising merchants have offered prizes for good
mouth-filling designations for their crack clippers, knowing that
freight and fortune often wait upon taking titles. Was the Flying Cloud
ever beaten? And in a land where all things change so lightly, why not
shake off the loosely sticking names and put on better? For at present,
the main end, that of conferring a _nomen_ or a name, something by
which the spot shall be known, has almost passed out of sight. If John
Smith, of the town of Smith, in Smith County, die, or commit forgery,
or be run for Congress, or write a book, his address might as well be
"Outis, Esq., Town of Anywhere, County of Everywhere." It concerns the
"Atlantic Monthly" not a little. For we desire, among its rapidly
multiplying subscribers, that our particular friend and kind critic,
commorant in Washington, should duly receive and enjoy this present
paper, undefrauded by any resident of the other one hundred and thirty
of the name. If we wish to mail a copy of "The Impending Crisis" to
Franklin, Vermont, we surely do not expect that it will perish by _auto
da fe_ in Franklin, Louisiana.
But the thought comes upon us, that herein is revealed a curious defect
of the American mind. It lacks, we contend, the fine perceptive power
which belongs to the poet. It can imitate, but cannot make. It does not
seize hold upon the distinctive fact of what it looks at, and
appropriate that. Our countrymen once could do it. The stern Puritan of
New England looked upon the grassy meadows beside the Connecticut, and
found them all bubbling with fountains, and called his settlement
"Springfield." But the American has lost the elementary uses of his
mother tongue. He is perpetually inventing new abstract terms,
generalizing with boldness and power and utter contempt of usage. But
the rich idiomatic sources of his speech lie too deep for him. They are
the glory and the joy of our motherland. You may take up "Bradshaw" and
amuse yourself on the wettest day at the dullest inn, nay, even amid
the horrors of the railway station, with deciphering the hidden
meanings of its lists of names, and form for yourself the gliding
panorama of its changing scenery and historic renown. But blank,
indeed, is the American transit through Rome, Marcellus, Carthage,
Athens, Palmyra, and Geneva; and blessed the relief when the Indian
tongue comes musically in to "heal the blows of sound"! And whatever
the expectations of the "Great American Poem," the Transatlantic
"Divina Commedia" or "Iliad," which the public may entertain, we feel
certain they will not be fulfilled in our day. Take Tennyson's "Idyls
of the King," and see what beautiful beadrolls of names he can string
together from the rough Cornish and Devon coasts. Only out of a
poetic-hearted people are poets born. The peasant writes ballads,
though scholars and antiquaries collect them. The Hebrew lyric fire
blazed in myriad beacons from every landmark. The soil of Palestine is
trodden, as it were, with the footsteps of God, so eloquent are its
mountains and hamlets with these records of a nation's faith.
But into how much of the love of home do its familiar names enter! And
we appeal to the common sense of everybody, whether those we have
quoted above are not enough to make a man ashamed of his birthplace.
They are the ear-mark of a roving, careless, selfish population, which
thinks only of mill-privileges, and never of pleasant meadows,--which
has built the ugliest dwellings and the biggest hotels of any nation,
save the Calmucks, over whom reigns the Czar. Upon the American soil
seem destined to meet and fuse the two great elements of European
civilization,--the Latin and the Saxon,--and of these two is our nation
blent. But just at present it exhibits the love of glare and finery of
the one, without its true and tender taste,--and the sturdy, practical
utilitarianism of the other, without its simple-hearted, home-loving
poetry. The boy is a great boy,--awkward, ungainly, and in the way; but
he has eyes, tongue, feet, and hands to some (future) purpose. And that
in good taste, good sense, refinement, and hopeful culture, our big boy
has been growing, we hope will be apparent, even in the matter of
"calling names," from the pages of the next census.
We have but a word more, in the way of finale. We have not been
romancing. Everything we have set down here we have truly looked up
there, in the volume furnished by Mr. De Bow. He, not we, must be held
answerable for any and all scarce credible names which are found
wanting in a local habitation. We have counted duly and truly the
fine-printed pages, from which task we pray that the kind Fates may
keep the reader.
Yet, if he doubt, and care to explore the original mine whence our
specimen petrifactions have been dug, he will find that we have by no
means exhausted the supply; and that there are many most curious and
suggestive facts, not contained in the statistics or intended by the
compiler, which are embraced in the CENSUS REPORTS.
Oh, I wish I could impress others as you and the waves have just been
As I ebbed with an ebb of the ocean of life,
As I wended the shores I know,
As I walked where the sea-ripples wash you, Paumanok,
Where they rustle up, hoarse and sibilant,
Where the fierce old mother endlessly cries for her castaways,
I, musing, late in the autumn day, gazing off southward,
Alone, held by the eternal self of me that threatens to get the better
of me and stifle me,
Was seized by the spirit that trails in the lines underfoot,
In the ruin, the sediment, that stands for all the water and all the
land of the globe.
Fascinated, my eyes, reverting from the south, dropped, to follow those
Chaff, straw, splinters of wood, weeds, and the sea-gluten,
Scum, scales from shining rocks, leaves of salt-lettuce, left by the tide.
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