Atlantic Monthly Vol. 6, No. 33, July, 1860

Part 3 out of 5

After a considerable interval, some notices of Shelley have appeared,
without, however, throwing much additional light on the wayward heart
and pilgrimage of the poet. Mr. C.S. Middleton has published a book
upon Shelley and his writings; Mr. T.J. Hogg has given a sketch of
his life; and E.J. Trelawny some recollections of him, as well as of
Byron. None of these pretends to explain that eccentric nature, or
harmonize in any way his acts and his feelings; though a few things
may be gathered that tend to make the biography somewhat more
distinct than before, in some particulars. On the subject of his
first unfortunate marriage, we are made aware that his wife was a
self-willed, ill-taught young woman, who set her own father at
defiance, and threw herself on the protection of such a wandering
oddity as Percy Shelley. She was strong-minded, and brought with her
into her husband's house her elder sister, also strong-minded, a
ridiculous and insufferable duenna, whom Shelley hated with all
his heart and soul, and wished dead and buried out of his
sight,--finding, no doubt, his unsteady disposition controlled and
thwarted by the voice and authority of his sister-in-law, who, knowing
that her father furnished the young couple with their chief means of
livelihood, would be all the more resolute in advising them or
domineering over the migratory household. At last, these women grew
tired of the moping and ineffectual youth who still remained poor and
unsettled, with a father desperately healthy and inexorable, and all
hope of the baronetcy very far off indeed; they grew tired of him and
went away,--the wife, like Lady Byron, refusing to go back to such an
aimless, rhapsodizing vagabond. With her natural decision of mind,
aided and encouraged, very likely, by her astute relatives, she
thought she saw good reasons for breaking and setting aside the
contract which had united them; and no doubt the poor woman must have
felt the hardship of living with such a melancholy outlaw. Having
nothing in common with the devoted Emma, drawn in the ballad of "The
Nut-brown Maid," she must have hated that wandering about from, place
to place, living in lonely country-houses, under perpetual terror of
robbers in the night, and subsisting for the most part on potatoes
and Platonism; and she must have especially hated the Latin Grammar.
She naturally thought, that, when she was married, she should have
nothing more to say to exercises and lessons; but she found a
pedagogue in Shelley, and the honeymoon saw her "attacking Latin" for
the purpose of construing the poet Horace. How she must have hated
all poets! She had other ideas,--ideas of ease, respectability,
baronetcy; and her disappointment was greater than she could bear.
Mr. Hogg says, she had a propensity to strong courses, and would talk
of suicide in a speculative way. It is not difficult to discover the
truth of that unfortunate union and disunion. Shelley, betrayed by
the impulses of his enthusiast nature and the ignorant and deplorable
credulity of a bookworm, allowed himself to be imposed upon by a
designing boarding-school girl and her relatives, and everything
followed as a matter of course. The unhappy wife recklessly broke the
bond which she had as recklessly formed, and which the poet would
have honorably and truly respected all his life; and then her
passionate regret reacted fatally on herself,--and on him also, by a
Nemesis not so very strange or unnatural, as the world goes.[1]

[Footnote 1: Since this article was written, Mr. Peacock, an early
friend of Shelley, has published a very different estimate of the
character of Harriet Shelley. See _Fraser's Magazine_ for March,

The subject of Shelley's character is a delicate and a difficult one,
and Mr. Hogg and Mr. Trelawny, especially, show their inability to
understand it, by the way in which they put forward and dwell upon
the poet's peculiarities. Trelawny, a hard-minded, thorough-paced man
of the world, publishing garrulously in his old age what he was
silent about in his better period, talks of the poet's oddity,
awkwardness, and want of punctuality,--as if Percy were some clerkly
man on 'Change; and Hogg, hilariously clever, says Shelley was so
erratic, fragmentary, and unequal, that his character cannot be shown
in any way but as the figures of a magic-lantern are shown on a
wall,--Mr. Hogg's own style of description being the wall,--"O wall,
O wall, O sweet and lovely wall!" He also tells us, to instance the
poet's familiarity with the sex, a story of Shelley sitting with one
of his lady friends and being plied with cups of tea by that fair
sympathizer,--the poet talking and letting his saucer fall, and the
lady wiping his perspiring face with a pocket-handkerchief. Such
scraps of silly gossip are not biography; they may do for tea-table
chit-chat, but show very feebly in the place where one looks for
something like a philosophical criticism on the mind of so
extraordinary a man as Shelley.

Genius alone can do justice to genius; and kindred genius alone will
do it. There have been, no doubt, a great many writers of biography
who had no objection to compensate their feelings for bygone slights
or discourtesies, suffered from some wayward or inattentive
superiority, some stroke of ridicule or malice. Literary antipathies
do not die with the dead. The posthumous impression of Margaret
Fuller Ossoli has been colored by some who sneer at her ways and
pretensions, because there was probably something in her manner which
displeased them in a personal way. She had certainly a very awkward
fashion of blinking her eyes, and also "a mountainous _me_." It is
very probable poor Edgar Poe has had his faults exaggerated by those
who suffered from the critical superiority of his intellect; since
some of those notices of him which tend most to fix his character as
a reprobate, and appear in a laggard way in the English periodicals,
were probably written by some of his own countrymen. It was a painful
consciousness of this literary revenge that made H.W. Herbert, in his
last agony, call on his brother-penmen for mercy on his remains, and
that induces many of our public men to bring out their own memoirs or
encourage others to do so. It looks like vainglory, but it is
not such. The memoirs show a mortal dread of calumny or
misrepresentation. Mr. Barnum, for instance, was more just to himself
than anybody else would be. He showed that his doings were only of a
piece with those of thousands around him in society; and this not
unreasonable extenuation is one that few of his critics are apt to
make use of in commenting on him and his dexterities of living. As
for Shelley, he might have shunned or slighted or overlooked Mr.
Trelawny in some painful or preoccupied moment, or offended the
robust man of the world by the mere delicate shyness of his look; he
might also have puzzled and bewildered Mr. Hogg, being, perhaps,
puzzled and bewildered himself, by some subtile mental
speculation,--unconscious that for these things he was yet to be brought
to judgment and turned into ridicule, for the coming generation, by
these familiar men,--these drilled and pipe-clayed familiar men. He
might have tossed up a paradox or two to keep the muscles of his mind
in exercise on a cold day, and his rapid intellect may have run away
from his hearer, trampling on the conventions and platitudes in its
course; but Mr. Hogg does not think he had fixed notions concerning
anything. The poet did not nail his colors with a cheer to the mast
of any of the great questions of the day, ethical or social, and
therefore suffered the disparagements of those intelligent friends of
his who have been taught to consider a well-defined rigidity of
conviction and maintenance, in the midst of all these phenomena of
our universe, telluric and uranological, as the test of everything
valuable in human character and morals. And thus it has come about,
that genius, with its native instincts of reason, truth, and common
sense, is doomed to pay the penalty of its preeminence and its
divergencies, and suffer at the hands of friends and enemies alike,
from the show of those false appearances, insincerities,
equivocations, which are its natural and proper antipathies.

Since the foregoing observations were written, the writer has seen a
certain corroboration of them in the interesting "Memorials of
Shelley," recently edited by Lady Shelley, and published by Ticknor
and Fields. For, in the preface of this book, she takes occasion to
speak of the misstatements of all those who have hitherto written on
the subject of the poet, instancing the fallacies of Captain Medwin's
book, and also, in an especial manner, though vaguely enough, the
incorrectness, amounting to caricature, put forth by a later
biographer, one of Shelley's oldest friends,--by which she evidently
means to indicate Mr. Hogg. At the same time, the nature of her
Ladyship's book is, involuntarily, an additional evidence of the
difficulty that seems fated to attend all attempts to set forth or
set right the character of Shelley. Indeed, she appears to be in some
degree conscious of this; for she says, apologetically, that she has
published the "Memorials" for the special purpose of neutralizing the
misstatements and spirit of Mr. Hogg's work, and also lets us know
that the time is not yet come for the publication of other and more
important matter calculated to do justice to the character of Percy
Bysshe Shelley.

It is only natural to think that Lady Shelley is not the person to
write the biography of the poet, whose relationship to her is such a
close one. She would far more willingly leave the events of his
troubled life forever unremembered. Indeed, when we find, that, in
her long widowhood of thirty years, Mrs. Shelley shrank from the task
of writing the life of her husband, we can the more easily understand
why any member of his family, especially a lady, should be the most
unfit to undertake the task. Nobody could expect Lady Shelley to
enter into those painful explanations necessary to it. Accordingly,
in the work before us, we do not find any light thrown on those
places where a person would be most anxious to see it. Lady Shelley
slurs over the undutiful boyhood of the poet and the terrible
sternness of his Mirabeau-father. She merely glances across the first
foolish marriage and the catastrophe that closed it, as a bird flies
over an abyss. On such subjects she cannot set about contradicting

But it is an ungrateful task to go on speaking of short-comings in a
case like this, where the hardest critic in the world must sympathize
with the feelings of the author, whatever becomes of the book. And
yet the book will be very welcome to every one who regards it as a
feminine offering of tender admiration and grief laid upon the grave
of departed genius. Though not exactly the sort of personal history
one would wish for from another hand, it is still valuable, as
furnishing very interesting matter for a future biography. We have in
it several new letters of Shelley's, some letters of Godwin's, and
others of Mrs. Shelley's, together with a number of touching extracts
from the diary of the latter. There are also two papers from the
poet's pen: one an "Address to Lord Ellenborough" in defence of a man
punished for having published Paine's "Age of Reason," and another an
"Essay on Christianity." In the first, with all a boy's enthusiasm,
he opposes the high abstract logic of truth and toleration to the
hard government policy which tries to keep a reckless kind of
semi-civilization in order, and cannot bring itself to believe, that, as
yet, the broad principle of license is the one that can serve the
cosmogony best. In the next he rather surprises the reader by
exhibiting himself as the eulogist and expounder of Jesus
Christ,--but not after the manner of Saint Paul. No doubt, the secular
and semi-pagan tone of this dissertation will jar against the orthodoxy
of a great many readers,--to whom, however, it will be interesting as
a literary curiosity. But it is meant to show the character of
Shelley in a more amiable light than that in which it is contemplated
by the generality of people.

To explain Percy Bysshe Shelley, by telling us he was inconsequent,
absurd, and odd in his manners, is as futile as to explain him by
saying he was a strange, wonderful genius, of the Platonic or
Pythagorean order, always soaring above the atmosphere of common men.
To call a man of genius an inspired idiot or an inspired oddity is an
easy, but false way of interpreting him. The truth of Shelley's
character may be found by a more matter-of-fact investigation. He was
naturally of a feeble constitution from childhood, and not addicted
to the amusements of stronger boys; hence he became shy, and, when
bullied or flouted by the others, sensitive and irritable, and given
to secret reading and study, instead of play with those "little
fiends that scoffed incessantly." These habits gave him the name of
an oddity, and what is called a "Miss Molly," and the persecution
that followed only made him more recluse and speculative, and
disgusted with the ways and feelings of others. He began to have
thoughts beyond his years, and was happy to think he had, in these, a
compensation for what he suffered from his schoolfellows. With his
hermit habits grew naturally a strong egotistical vanity, which he
could as little repress as the other youths could repress their
muscular propensities to exercise; and hence his eagerness to set
forth the threadbare heretical theories he had found among his books.
For supporting these with an insolent show of importunity, he was
turned away from college, and soon left his father's home, with his
father's curse to bear him company. Had the baronet been in the way
of a _lettre de cachet_, like Mirabeau's father, he would certainly
have had Percy put into Newgate and kept there.

The malediction of the old man seems to have clung to Shelley's mind
to the end, and made him rebellious against everything bearing the
paternal name. He assailed the Father of the Hebrew theocracy with
amazing bitterness, and joined Prometheus in cursing and dethroning
Zeus, the Olympian usurper. With him, tyrant and father were
synonymous, and he has drawn the old Cenci, in the play of that name,
with the same fierce, unfilial pencil, dipped in blood and wormwood.
Shelley was by nature, self-instruction, and inexperience of life,
impatient and full of impulse; and the sharp and violent measures by
which they attempted to reclaim him only exasperated him the more
against everything respected by his opponents and persecutors. Genius
is by nature aggressive or retaliatory; and the young poet, writhing
and laughing hysterically, like Demogorgon, returned the scorn of
society with a scorn, the deeper and loftier in the end, that it grew
calm and became the abiding principle of a philosophic life. It was
the act of his father which drove Shelley into such open rebellion
against gods and men. Very probably, though he might have lived an
infidel in religious matters, like tens of thousands of his fellows,
he would not have written, or, at least, published, such shocking
things, if his father had been more patient with a youth so
organized. But parents have a right to show a terrible anger when
thwarted by their children, and in this case the father too much
resembled the son in wilful impetuosity of temper. Turned out of his
first home, Shelley went wandering forth by land and sea,--a reed
shaken by the wind, a restless outcast yearning for repose and human
sympathy, and in this way encountering the questionable accidents of
his troubled, unguarded life, and gathering all the feverish
inspiration of his melancholy and unfamiliar poetry.

With a sense of physical infirmity or defect which shaped the
sequestered philosophy of the Cowpers, the Berangers, and others, the
manlier minds of literature, including Byron himself, in some
measure, Shelley felt he was not fit for the shock and hum of men and
the greater or lesser legerdemain of life, and so turned shyly away
to live and follow his plans and reveries apart, after the law of his
being, violating in this way what may be called the common law of
society, and meeting the fate of all nonconformists. He was slighted
and ridiculed, and even suspected; for people in general, when they
see a man go aside from the highway, maundering and talking to
himself, think there must be a reason for it; they suppose him
insane, or scornful, or meditating a murder,--in any case, one to be
visited with hard thoughts; and thus baffled curiosity will grow
uneasily into disgust, and into calumny, if not into some species of
outrage,--and very naturally, after all; for man is, on the whole,
made for society, and society has a sovereign right to take
cognizance of him, his ways and his movements, as a matter of
necessary _surveillance_.

The world will class men "in its coarse blacks and whites." Some mark
Shelley with charcoal, others with chalk,--the former considering him
a reprobate, the latter admiring him as a high-souled lover of human
happiness and human liberty. But he was something of both
together,--and would have been nothing without that worst part of him.
He ran perversely counter to the lessons of his teachers, and acted in
defiance of the regular opinions and habits of the world. He was too
out-spoken, like all genius; whereas the world inculcates the high
practical wisdom of a shut mouth and a secretive mind. Fontenelle,
speaking according to the philosophy of the crowd, says, "A wise man,
with his fist full of truths, would open only his little finger."
Shelley opened his whole hand, in a fearless, unhappy manner; and was
accordingly punished for ideas which multitudes entertain in a quiet
way, saying nothing, and living in the odor of respectable opinion.
With a mind that recoiled from anything like falsehood and injustice,
he wanted prudence. And as, in the belief of the matter-of-fact
Romans, no divinity is absent, if _Prudentia_ be present, so it still
seems that everything is wanting to a man, if he wants that. Shelley
denied the commonly received Divinity, as all the world knows,--an
Atheist of the most unpardonable stamp,--and has suffered in
consequence; his life being considered a life of folly and vagary,
and his punishment still enduring, as we may perceive from the tone
and philosophy of his biographers, or rather his critics, who, not
being able to comprehend such a simple savage, present his character
as an oddity and a wonder,--an _extravaganza_ that cannot be
understood without some wall of the world's pattern and plastering to
show it up against.

It is, to be sure, much easier and safer to regard Shelley's career
in this way than to justify it, since the customs and opinions of the
great majority must, after all, be the law and rule of the world.
Shelley's apologist would be a bold man. Whether he shall ever have
one is a question. At all events, he has not had a biographer as yet.
His widow shrank from the task. Of those familiar friends of his, we
can say that "no man's thought keeps the roadway better than theirs,"
and all to show how futile is the attempt to measure such a man with
the footrule of the conventions. Shelley was a mutineer on board
ship, and a deserter from the ranks; and he must, therefore, wait for
a biographer, as other denounced and daring geniuses have waited for
their audience or their epitaph.



"Turbine raptus ingenii."--Scaliger


The next morning there was queer talk about Clarian. Mac and I stared
at each other when we heard it at breakfast, but still kept our own
counsel in silence. Some late walkers had met him in the moonlight,
crossing the campus at full speed, hatless, dripping wet, and flying
like a ghost.

"I tell you," said our informant, a good enough fellow, and one not
prone to be violently startled, "he scared me, as he flitted past.
His eyes were like saucers, his hair wet and streaming behind him,
his face white as a chalk-mark on Professor Cosine's blackboard.
Depend on it, that boy's either going mad or has got into some
desperate scrape."

"Pshaw!" growled Mac, "you were drunk,--couldn't see straight."

"Mr. Innocence was returning from some assignation, I suspect",
remarked Zoile.

"If he had been, _you'd_ have encountered him, Mr. Zoile," said Mac,

But I noticed my chum did not like this new feature in the case.

After this, until the time of my receiving the lad's invitation, I
neither saw nor had communication with Clarian, nor did any others of
us. If he left his room, it was solely at night; he had his meals
sent to him, under pretence of illness, and admitted no one, except
his own servant. This fellow, Dennis, spoke of him as looking
exceedingly feeble and ill; and also remarked that he had apparently
not been to bed for some days, but was mixing colors, or painting,
the whole time. I went to his door several times; but was invariably
refused admittance, and told, kindly, but firmly, that he would not
be interrupted. Mac also tried to see him, but in vain.

"I caught a glimpse of that boy's face at his window just now," said
he, one day, coming in after recitation. "You may depend upon it,
there's something terribly wrong. My God, I was horrified, Ned! Did
you ever see any one drown? No? Well, I did once,--a woman. She fell
overboard from a Chesapeake steamboat in which I was coming up the
Bay, and sank just before they reached her. I shall never forget her
looks as she came up the last time, turned her white, despairing,
death-stricken face towards us, screamed a wild nightmare scream, and
went down. Clarian's face was just like hers. Depend upon it, there's
something wrong. What can we do?"

Nothing, indeed, save what we did,--wait, until that pleasant morning
came round and brought me Clarian's note. I could scarcely brook the
slow laziness with which the day dragged by, as if it knew its own
beauty, and lingered to enjoy it. At last, however, the night came,
the hour also, and punctually with it came Dr. Thorne, a kindly
young physician, and a man of much promise, well-read, prompt,
clear-headed, resourceful, and enthusiastically attached to his profession
Mac tucked a volume of Shakspeare under his arm, and we made our way
to Clarian's room forthwith. Here we found about a dozen students,
all known to us intimately. They were seated close to one another,
conversing in low tones, and betraying upon their faces quite an
anxiety of expectation. The door of the bedroom was closed, the
curtain was lowered, and the only light in the room came from a
shaded lamp, which was placed upon a small table in the recess to the
right of the picture.

"What is this for?" inquired Dr. Thorne, pointing to a sort of salver
resting upon a low tripod directly in front of the picture.

"Where is Clarian?" asked I.

"He looks awful," someone began in a whisper, when the lad's feeble
voice called out from the bedroom,--

"Is it Ned and Mac?"

The door was pulled open, and Clarian came towards us.

"I am glad to see you, my friends. Dr. Thorne, you are truly welcome.
Pray, be seated. Mac, here is your place, you and your Shakspeare,"
said he, indicating the chair and table in the recess.

I had held out my hand to the lad, but he turned away without taking
it, and began to adjust the cords that moved the curtain.

"The tripod, Dr. Thorne," said he, with a sickly smile, "is a--a mere
fancy of mine,--childish,--but in the salver I shall burn some
pyrotechnic preparations, while the picture is being exhibited, by
way of substitute for daylight. Excuse me a moment," added he, as he
went into the bedroom again.

"Blount," said Dr. Thorne, in my ear, "why have you permitted this?
What ails that boy? If he is not cared for soon, he will go crazy.
Hush!--here he comes,--keep your eye on him."

Then, as Clarian came out, and stood in the bedroom doorway, quite
near me, I remarked the terrible change since I had last seen him. He
leaned against the door-frame, as if too weak to support himself
erect; and I saw that his knees shook, his hands jerked, and his
mouth twitched in a continual nervous unrest. He had on a handsome
_robe de chambre_ of maroon velvet, which he seldom wore about
college, though it was very becoming to him, its long skirts falling
nearly to his feet, while its ample folds were gathered about his
waist, and secured with cord and tassel. His feet were thrust into
neat slippers, and his collar rolled over a flowing black cravat _a
la Corsaire_. His long hair, which was just now longer than usual,
was evenly parted in the middle, like a girl's, and, combed out
straight, fell down to his shoulders on either side. All this care
and neatness of dress made the contrast of his face stand out the
more strikingly. Its pallor was ghastly: no other word conveys the
idea of it. His lips kept asunder, as we see them sometimes in
persons prostrated by long illness, and the nether one quivered
incessantly, as did the smaller facial muscles near the mouth. His
eyes were sunken and surrounded by livid circles, but they themselves
seemed consuming with the dry and thirsty fire of fever: hot, red,
staring, they glided ever to and fro with a snake-like motion, as
uncertain, wild, and painful, in their unresting search, as those of
a wounded and captive hawk. The same restlessness, approaching in
violence the ceaseless spasmodic habit of a confirmed Chorea,
betrayed itself in all his movements, particularly in a way he had of
glancing over his shoulder with a stealthy look of apprehension, and
the frequent starts and shivers that interrupted him when talking.
His voice also was changed, and in every way he gave evidence not
only of disease of mind and body, but of a nervous system shattered
almost beyond hope of reaction and recovery. Trembling for him, I
rose and attempted to speak with him aside, but he waived me off,
saying, with that sickly smile which I had never before seen him

"No, Ned,--you must not interrupt me to-night, neither you nor the
rest,--for I am very weak and nervous and ill, and just now need all
my strength for my picture, which, as it has cost me labor and
pain,--much pain,--I wish to show in its best light. Macbeth's
terror--it means more than it did the other night, Ned--but"--

Here he murmured an inarticulate word or two, recovering himself
almost instantly, however, and resuming in a stronger voice,--

"Macbeth's doom is my picture. You will wonder I preferred the solid
wall to canvas, perhaps,--but so did the genuine old artists. Lippo
Lippi, and Giotto, and--why, Orcagna painted on graveyard walls; and
I can almost fancy, sometimes, that this room is a vault, a tomb, a
dungeon, where they torture people. Turn to the place, good Mac,
Shakespeare's tragedy of 'Macbeth,' Act Third, Scene Fourth, and read
the scene to us, as you know how to read; I will manage the

As he spoke, he touched the salver with a lighted match, so that a
blue alcoholic flame flickered up before the curtain, making the poor
lad's face seem more ghastly than ever.

"You must sit down, Clarian," cried Dr. Thorne, resolutely.

Clarian smiled again, that dim, uncertain smile, and answered,--

"Nay, Doctor, let me have my own way for an hour, and after that you
shall govern me as your learned skill suggests. And do not be uneasy
about my 'creamfaced' aspect, as I see Ned is: there is plentiful
cause for it, beyond the feebleness of this very present, and
to-night is not the first time I have worn these 'linen cheeks.' Read
on, Mac."

We sat there in the dim light, breathless, awed,--for all of us saw
the boy's agony, and were the more shocked that we were unable to
understand it,--until, at last, in a voice made more impressive by
its tremor, Mac began to read the terrible text,--to read as I had
never heard him read before, until a fair chill entered our veins and
ran back to our shuddering hearts from sympathy. Then, as he read on
and painted the king and murderer together, while his voice waxed
stronger and fuller, we saw Clarian step forward to the salver and
busy with its lambent flame, till it blazed up with a broad, red
light, that, shedding a weird splendor upon all around, and lending a
supernatural effect to the room's deep shadows, the picture's
funereal aspect, and the unearthly pallor of the boy's countenance,
startled our eyes like the painful glare of midnight lightning.

"Thou canst not say, I did it! Never shake Thy gory locks at me!"

As the reader thrust the terror of these words upon us, all started
back, for the curtain was plucked suddenly away, and there before us,
not in Clarian's picture, it seemed, but in very truth, stood
Macbeth, conscious of the murdered presence. Even the reader,
absorbed as he was in his text, paused short, amazed; and I forgot
that I had seen this picture, only knew that it was a living scene of
terror. Doubtless much of this startling effect was the result of
association, the agitation of anxiety, the influence of the
impressive text, the suddenness of the apparition, the unusual light;
but in the figure of Macbeth, at which alone we gazed, there was a
life, a terrible significance, that outran all these causes. It was
not in the posture, grand as that was,--not in the sin-stamped brow,
rough with wrinkles like a storm-chafed sea,--not in the wiry hair,
gray and half rising in haggard locks, like adders that in vain try
to escape the foot that treads them down,--nor in the mouth, for that
was hid behind the impotent guard of the upraised arm and clenched
fist,--but in those painted eyes, into which, all-fascinated, we ever
gazed, reading in them all that crouching terror, all the punishment
of that spectral presence, all the poignant consciousness of his fate
to whom such things could happen, to whom already his victims rise

"With twenty mortal murders on their crowns And push us from our

While I yet gazed, a sickening terror pervading me in the presence of
these ghastly eyes, there came a voice, as if from afar,--"Read
on!"--so consonant with the tone of my emotions, that I looked to see
the figure itself take speech, until Mac, with a gasp, resumed.
Still, as he read, the nightmare-spell possessed me, till a
convulsive clutch upon my arm roused me, and instinctively, with the
returning sense, I turned to Clarian.

Not too soon,--for then, in his own person, and in that strange
glare, he was interpreting the picture to us. He stood, not thrown
back like Macbeth, but drawn forward, on tiptoe, with neck reached
out, form erect, but lax, one arm extended, and one long diaphanous
finger pointing over our heads at something he saw behind us, but
towards which, in the extremity of our terror, we dared not turn our
eyes. _He saw it_,--more than saw it,--we knew, as we noted the
scream swelling in his throat, yet dying away into an inarticulate
breath ere it passed the blue and shaken lips,--he saw it, and those
eyes of his, large enough in their wont, waxed larger still, wilder,
madder with desperate affright, till every one of us, save the
absorbed reader, recognized in them the nightmare horror of the
picture,--knew that in Macbeth Clarian had drawn his own portrait!
There he stood, drawn on, staring, pointing--

"Stop!" shouted Dr. Thorne, his voice hoarse and strident with
emotion; but Mac, absorbed in his text, still read, flinging a fine
and subtile emotion of scorn into the words,--

"O proper stuff! This is the very painting of your fear:

"Triple fool! be silent!" cried Dr. Thorne again, springing to his
feet,--while we, spell-bound, sat still and waited for the end.
"Cease! do you not see?" cried he, seizing Mac.

But there stood Clarian yet, that red light upon his cheek and brow,
that fixed stare of a real, unpainted horror in his speechless face,
that long finger still pointing and trembling not,--there he stood,
fixed, while one might count ten. Then over his blue lips, like a
ghost from its tomb, stole a low and hissing whisper, that curdled
our blood, and peopled all the room with dreadful things,--a low
whisper that said,--

"Prithee, see there! behold! it comes! it comes!" Now he beckoned in
the air, and called with a shuddering, smothered shriek,--"Come! I
did it! come! Ha!" yelled he, plucking the spell from his limbs like
a garment, and springing madly forward towards the door,--"Ha! touch
me not! Off, I say, off!" He paused, gazed wildly round, flung his
hand to his brow, and, while his eyes rolled till nothing but their
whites were seen, while the purple veins swelled like mole-tracks in
his forehead, and a bubbling froth began to gather about his lips, he
tossed his arms in the air, gave shrieking utterance to the cry,--"O
Christ! it is gone! it is gone!" and fell to the floor with a bound.

We sprang to him,--Thorne first of any.

"This is my place, gentlemen," said he, in quick, nervous tones.
Then, taking the prostrate child into his arms, he carried him to his
bed, laid him down, felt his pulse, and placed his head in Mac's
arms. Returning then, he veiled the picture, flung the salver out of
the window, and dismissed the huddled throng of frightened students,
warning them to be silent as to the night's events. "Very likely
Clarian will never see to-morrow; so be careful, lest you soil his

"What does it mean, Thorne?" asked Mac, as the Doctor and I came
again to the bedside. "It is nothing more than an overdose of
_cannabis_ or opium upon an excited nervous system, is it?"

Thorne looked at the delicate-limbed child who lay there in Mac's
strong arms, wiped away the gathering froth from the lips, replaced
the feebly quivering limbs, and, as he lingered over the pulse,

"He has been taking _hashish_?"

"He _has_ taken it,--I do not say he is under its influence now."

"No,--he has not touched any stimulant. This is much worse than
that,--this means epilepsy, Mac, and we may have to choose between
death and idiocy."

He was still examining the boy, and showing Mac how to hold him most

"If I could only get at the _causes_ of this attack,--those, I mean,
which lie deeper than the mere physical disorder,--if I could only
find out what it is he has been doing,--and I could, easily, were I
not afraid of directing suspicion towards him, or bringing about some
unfortunate embarrassment"--

"What is it you suspect?" thundered Mac.

"Either some cruel trick has been played upon the boy, or he has been
guilty of some act of madness"--

"Impossible!" cried we in a breath; "Clarian is as pure as Heaven."

"Look at him, Thorne!" said my good chum,--"look at the child's
baby-face, so frank and earnest!--look at him! You dare not say an impure
thought ever awoke in that brain, an impure word ever crossed those

Dr. Thorne smiled sadly.

"There is no standard of reason to the enthusiast, my dear Mac; and
here is one, of a surety. However, time will reveal; I wish I knew.
Come, Ned, help me to mix some medicines here. Be careful to keep his
head right, Mac, so as to have the circulation as free as possible."

While we were occupied in the front room, there came a stout double
knock at the door, and when I opened it, Hullfish, the weather-beaten
old constable of the borough, made his hesitating appearance. The
Doctor gave me a quick glance, as if to say, "I told you so," and
then returned the old man's bluff salutation. As soon as Hullfish saw
him, he came forward with something like a sigh of relief, and

"Ah, Doc, you here? 'Tar'n't a hoax, then, though I was mightily
'feared it was. Them students is the Devil for chivying of a
feller,--beggin' your pardon, Mr. Blount. Have you got him yonder,
Doctor?" said he, his keen eye noticing Mac and Clarian in the back

"What do you mean, Hullfish? Got whom?" asked Thorne, making me a
sign to be quiet.

"The party, Sir, that was to be copped. I've got a blank warrant
here, all right, and a pair of bracelets, in case of trouble."

"What fool's errand is this, old man?" asked the Doctor, sternly.

"What! you don't know about it? Lord! p'raps it's a sell, after all,"
said he, quite chopfallen. "But I've got my pay, anyhow, and there's
no mistake in a V on the Princeton Bank. And here's the papers," said
he, handing a note to the Doctor. "If that's slum, I'm done, that's

The Doctor glanced at the scrap of paper, then handed it to me,
asking, "Is that his handwriting?"

It was a note, requiring Mr. Hullfish. to privately arrest a person
guilty of a capital offence, until now concealed. If he was not
brought to Hullfish's house between nine and ten that night, then
Hullfish was to proceed to No.--North College, where he would be
certain to find the party. The arrest must be made quietly. The
handwriting was undoubtedly Clarian's, and I told Thorne as much.

"You see, gentlemen," said Hullfish, "I wouldn't 'a' taken no notice
of it, ef it hadn't been for the money; but, thinks I, them students
a'n't in the habit of sech costly jokes, and maybe there'll be some
pinching to do, after all. So you mean to say it's a gam, do you,
Doctor? May I be so bold as to inquire what yonder chap's holding on
to 'tother about?"

"'Tother' is dangerously ill,--has a fit, Hullfish. He is the author
of that note,--very probably was out of his mind when he wrote it."

"So? Pity! Very sick? Mayn't I see him?"

But, as he stepped forward, Thorne stood in the way and effectually
intercepted his view. The constable smiled cunningly, as he drew
back, and said,--

"You're sure 'ta'n't nothing else, then? Nobody's been getting rapped
on the' head? Didn't see no blood, though,--that's true. Well, I
don't like to be sold, that's a fact,--but there's no help for it.
Here's the young man's change, Doctor,--warrant sixty-six, my fees
one dollar."

Thorne carelessly asked if there had been any rows lately,--if he had
heard of any one being hurt,--if they had been quiet recently along
the canal; and being assured that there had been no disturbance of
moment,--"only a little brush between Arch and Long Tobe, down to
Gibe's,"--he handed the money back to Hullfish.

"Keep that yourself,--it is yours by rights. And, look you, mum's the
word in this case, for two reasons: there's danger that the poor
little fellow there is going to croak before long, and you'd be sorry
to think you'd given trouble to a dead man; and what's more, if the
boys get hold of this, there'll be no end of their chaffing. There's
not a few of them would like to cook your goose for you,--I needn't
tell you why; so, if you don't want them to get the flashest kind of
a pull over you, why, you'll take my advice and keep dark."

"Nothing like slang, Ned, with the police or the prigging gentry. It
gives them a wonderful respect for your opinion," said the Doctor,
when Hullfish was gone. But his serious, almost stern look returned
immediately, as he continued,--"Now to solve this mystery, and find
out what this wretched boy has been doing. Come, you and Mac, help me
to understand him."

When we had told the Doctor all we knew of the lad, he pondered long
over our recital.

"One thing is certain," said he: "the boy is innocent in intention,
whatever he has done, and we must stand by him,--you two
particularly; for you are to blame, if he has got himself into any

"The boy has done nothing wrong, Thorne," said Mac, sturdily; "he may
have been trapped, or got himself involved somehow, but he never
could have committed any crime capable of superinducing such an
attack as this."

The Doctor shook his head.

"You may be right, my friend,--and I hope you are, for the child's
sake, for it will certainly kill him, if he has. But I never trust an
intense imagination when morbidly excited, and I have read of some
strange freaks done by persons under the influence of that infernal
_hashish_. However, trust me, I shall find out what is the matter
before long, and bring the boy round nicely. He is improving fast
now, and all we have to do is to avert another attack."

Thank Heaven, in a day or two Clarian was pronounced to be out of
danger, and promising rapid recovery. We had removed him to our
rooms, as soon as the violence of the convulsion left him, in order
to spare him the associations connected with his own abode. Still,
the lad continued very weak, and Thorne said he had never seen so
slight an attack followed by such extreme prostration. Then it did my
heart good to see how my chum transformed himself into the tenderest,
the most efficient of nurses. He laid aside entirely his brusque
manner, talked in the softest tones, stole noiselessly about our
rooms, and showed all the tender solicitude, all the quiet
"handiness" of a gentle woman. I could see that Clarian loved to have
him at his bedside, and to feel his caressing hand.

"You see, Ned," Mac would say, in a deprecatory tone that amused me
vastly, "I really pity the poor little devil, and can't help doing
all in my power for him. He's such a soft little ass,--confound
Thorne! he makes me mad with his cursed suspicions!--and then the boy
is out of place here in this rough-and-tumble tiltyard. Reminds me of
a delicate wineglass crowded in among a ruck of ale flagons and
battered quart-cups."

But, though we rejoiced to see that Clarian's health promised to be
better than it had been for months, we did not fail to notice with
regret and apprehension, that, as he grew physically better and
mentally clearer, a darkening cloud settled over his whole being,
until he seemed on the point of drowning in the depths of an
irremediable dejection and despair. Besides this, he was ever on the
point of telling us something, which he yet failed of courage to put
into words; and Thorne, noticing this, when, one day, we were all
seated round the bed, while the lad fixed his shaded, large, mournful
eyes upon us with a painfully imploring look, said suddenly, his
fingers upon Clarian's pulse,--

"You have something to say to us,--a confession to make, Clarian."

The boy flushed and shuddered, but did not falter, as he replied,

"You must withhold it until you are well again. I know what it is."

Clarian quickly withdrew his hand from the Doctor's grasp.

"You know it, and yet here, touching me? Impossible! entirely

"Oh, as to that," said Thorne, with a cool shrug of the shoulders,
"you must remember that _our_ relations are simply those of physician
and patient. Other things have nought to do with it. And, as your
physician, I require you to withhold the matter until you are well
enough to face the world."

"No,--I must reap where I have sown. I have no right to impose upon
my friends any longer."

"Bad news travel fast enough, Clarian, and there is no wisdom in
losing a friend so long as you can retain him."

"I do not see the force of your reasoning, Dr. Thorne. I have enough
to answer for, without the additional contumely of being called an

"For your mother's sake, Clarian, I command you to wait. Spare _her_
what pain you can, at least."

"My mother! Oh, my God, do not name her! do not name her!"

And he burst into the only tears I ever saw him shed, hiding his face
in the bed-clothes, and sobbing piteously.

"What does this mean?" said Mac, as soon as we were where Clarian
could not hear us. "What have you found out?"

"Positively nothing more than you know already," answered Thorne.

"Nothing?" echoed Mac, very indignantly; "you speak very confidently
for one having such poor grounds."

"My dear Mac," said Thorne, kindly, "do you think I am not as much
concerned about Clarian as you are? Positively, I would give half I
own to arrive at a satisfactory solution of this mystery. But what
can we do? The boy believes himself a great criminal. Do you not see
at once, that, if we permit him to confess his crime, he will insist
upon taking himself out of our keeping,--commit suicide, get himself
sent to the madhouse, or anyhow lose our care and our soothing
influence? We cannot relieve him until we restore his strength and
composure. All we can do now is to watch him, soothe him, and by all
means stave off this confession until he is stronger. It would kill
him to face a charge now. I am inquiring quietly, and, if anything
serious has happened, shall be sure to find out his connection with

Though we rebelled against the Doctor's conclusions, we could not but
see the prudence of the course he advised, and so we sat down to
watch our poor little friend, gnawed with bitter anxiety, and feeling
a sad consciousness that the disease itself under which he suffered
was beyond our skilfullest surgery, and one that inevitably
threatened the saddest consequences. A man has grand powers of
recovery, so long as his _spirit_ is free; but let him once be
persuaded that his soul is chained down forever in adamantine
fetters, and, though, like Prometheus, he may endure with silence,
patience, even divinely, he is nevertheless utterly incapable of any
positive effort towards recuperation. His faith becomes, by a subtile
law of our being, his fact; the mountain is gifted with actual
motion, and rewards the temerity of his zeal by falling upon him and
crushing him forever. Such a person moves on, perchance, like a deep,
noble river, in calm and silence, but still moves on, inevitably
destined to lose himself in the common ocean. And this was the
promise of Clarian's case. Whatever was his hidden woe, however
trivial its rational results, or baseless its causes, it had beyond
remedy seized upon his soul, and we knew, that, unless it could be
done away with at the source, the end was certain: first the fury,
then the apathy of madness. He was no longer tortured with a visible
haunting presence, such as had borne him down on that fatal night,
but we saw plainly that he had taken the spectre into his own breast,
and nursed it, as a bosom serpent, upon his rapidly exhausting

Happily for us,--ere Clarian was quite beyond recovery, while Mac
still tore his hair in rage at his own impotence, while the Doctor
still pursued his researches with the sedateness of a philosopher,
and I was using what power I had to alleviate my little friend's
misery,--that subtile and mysterious agency, which, in our blindness
and need, we term Chance, interposed its offices, rolled away the
cloud from the mystery, and, like a good angel, rescued Clarian, even
as he was tottering upon the very brink of the dismal precipice to
whose borders he had innocently strayed.

I shall never forget that pleasant June day. It was the first time
that Clarian had been out since his illness; and I was his single
companion, as he strayed slowly along through the college grounds,
leaning tremulously upon my arm, dragging his feet languidly over the
pebbled walks, and drinking in the warm, fresh, quivering air with a
manner that, although apathetic, still spoke of some power of
enjoyment. It was during the hour for the forenoon recitation, and
the elm-shaded campus was entirely free of students. As Clarian
walked along, his eyes bent down, I heard him murmuring that
delicious verse of George Herbert's,--

"Sweet day! so cool, so calm, so bright,
The bridal of the earth and sky!
The dew shall weep thy fall to-night,
For thou must die!"

"'For thou must die,'--so sad! And yet the thought itself of death is
not that which saddens us so, do you think, Ned?" he went on, I
hearing his words without heeding them,--for I was looking just then
towards the outer gate next the President's house, through which I
saw Dr. Thorne coming rapidly, accompanied by a stout, middle-aged
man, having the dress and appearance of a well-to-do farmer,--"Not
the thought, simply, 'Thou must die,'" repeated Clarian, in his
plaintive murmur, "but the feeling that all this decay and death is
of ourselves, and could be averted by ourselves, had we only
self-control, could we only keep ourselves pure, and so be ever near God
and _of_ Him. _There's_ cause for a deeper melancholy, poignanter
tears than ever Jacques shed."

Dr. Thorne and his companion were now quite near, coming towards us
on the same path, when I saw the stranger slap his thigh
energetically and catch Thorne by the arm, while he exclaimed in
tones of boisterous surprise,--

"Why, there's the very little chap, as I'm alive!"

I had half a glimpse of the Doctor's seizing his companion and
clapping one hand over his mouth, as if to prevent him from saying
more,--but it was too late. At the sound of the man's voice I felt
Clarian bound electrically. He looked up,--over his face began to
come again that terrible anguish of the night of the picture, but the
muscles seemed too weak to bring it all back,--he grew limp against
me,--his arms hung inert at his side,--a word that sounded like
"Spare me!" gurgled in his throat,--a feeble shudder shook him, and,
ere I could interpose my arm, he sank in a heap at my feet, white,
and cold, and lifeless. Before I had raised him, Thorne and the man
sprang to my aid, and the latter, bending over with eager haste, took
the thin white hands in his own, half caressing them, half fearing to
grasp them, speaking to him the while in tones of frightened
entreaty, that, on any other occasion, would have been ludicrous

"Come, now, my little man," said he,--"come, don't be afeard, _don't_
be afeard of me! Dan Buckhurst won't harm ye, not for the world, poor
child! Come, stand up! 'Twas all a joke. Come, come!--My God! Doctor,
he a'n't dead, is he?" cried he to Thorne, in horror.

"If he is, you have killed him, you damned old fool, you!" responded
Thorne, impetuously, thrusting the man aside with an angry gesture,
and bending down to examine the lad's inert form. "Thank God, Ned,"
said he at last, "it is only a swoon this time, and we'll soon have
him all right. We must get him to bed, though. Here, Buckhurst, you
are the strongest; stop whimpering there, you old jackanapes, and
bring him along."

Buckhurst quickly obeyed, lifting Clarian up in his arms as gently
and tenderly as if he had been an infant, and following Thorne, who
led the way to our rooms. There the lad was placed upon the bed with
which he had become only too familiar, and the Doctor, by means of
his restoratives, soon had the satisfaction of recalling breath and
motion. As soon as the boy's sighs gave evidence of returning
vitality, Thorne thrust us all from the room, including Mac, who had
now come in from class, saying to Buckhurst,--

"Now, Sir, tell them all about it,--and wait here; I shall want you
presently." With which words he closed the door upon us, and returned
to his patient.

Mr. Buckhurst refused the chair tendered him by Mac, and paced up and
down the room in a state of immense perturbation.

"Well, I never!" said he, "well, I never! It taken me all aback,
Sir," added he, turning to me. "Did you ever see anything like it?
Why, he's jest like a gal! Dang it, Sir! my Molly a'n't half as
nervous as he is. I hope he'll get well,--I raelly do, now. I
wouldn't hev had it happen for I dunno what, now, indeed!" And he
resumed his walk, repeating to himself, "Well, I never! Who'd 'a'
judged 'twas a child like that?"

"May I beg to know what you refer to, Mr. Buckhurst?" asked Mac, with
considerable impatience in his tones.

"Eh,--what? He's mighty delicate, a'n't he?" said the man, with his
thumb indicating the next room.

"Very delicate indeed, Sir,--perhaps you can explain the cause of his
present attack," said I, angrily; for I had begun to think, from
Buckhurst's manner, that he had been guilty of some practical joke
upon Clarian. I saw the fire of a similar suspicion blazing in Mac's
eyes; and I fear, had our conclusions been verified, the worthy Mr.
Buckhurst would have fared very badly at our hands, spite the laws of

"What! did he never tell you? Of course not, though, being sick ever
sence, and thinking me dead, too. Well, I'll tell you: but mind, you
mustn't banter the child about it, for he can't stand it,--though
it's only a joke. Might have been serious, to be sure, but, as things
turns out, a pretty good joke, to my notion,--though I'm rael sorry
_he's_ been so bad about it."

Mac rose, removed his coat, and marched deliberately up to our guest.
"See here, Sir," said he in his deepest bass voice, which his dark
frown made still more ominous, "do you mean us to infer that you have
been making that child Clarian the victim of any of your infernal
_jokes_, as you style them?"

Buckhurst stared a moment, and then, seeming to comprehend the drift
of Mac's words, burst into a hearty laugh.

"No, Sir!" he shouted, "the shoe's on the other foot, thank the Lord!
The boy himself played the joke, or trick, whatever it was. Dr.
Thorne tells me he was kind of crazy, from drinking laudanum, or some
sech pisonous matter. Howsever that was, I'm sure he didn't do it in
airnest,--thought so from the very first,--and now I've had a good
look at his face, I'd swear to it"

"What did he do?" asked Mac, hurriedly.

Buckhurst laughed in that hearty way of his. Said he,--

"I'll wager you a stack of hay agin them books yander you couldn't
guess in a week now. What d'ye think it was? Ho! ho! Why, why, the
little rascal shoved me into the canawl!"

"Shoved you into the canal!" echoed I, while Mac, looking first at
him, then at me, finally burst into a peal of laughter, shouting the

"Bravo! There's your 'experience' philosophy, Ned Blount! Catch me
teaching milksops again! Go on, Buckhurst, tell us all about it."

"Yes," said Mr. Buckhurst, apparently quite pleased to see that we
laughed with him. "It don't look like it was in the nature of things,
somehow, does it? Fact, though, he did indeed. Shoved me right in, so
quick I didn't know what the Devil was the matter, until I soused
kersplash! and see him taking out over the drawbridge like mad."

"When was that, Mr. Buckhurst?"

"Jest inside of a month ago, Sir, one night."

"_Sapperment_, Ned! that was the time of the 'herb Pantagruelion'!--
Well, what were you doing on the canal at that hour?" asked Mac,

"No, you needn't, now,--I see you wink at him,--honor bright. I'd
been up to town, to take a mess o' clams at Giberson's, with maybe a
sprinklin' of his apple-jack,--nothing else,--and I was on my way
home,--to Skillman's tavern at the _depot_, you know,--and I'd jest
stopped a piece, and was a-standing there, looking at the moon in the
water, when he tipped me over. I tell you, I was mad when I crawled
out wet as a rat; and if I'd ketched him then, you may depend upon
it, I'd 'a' given his jacket a precious warming. As I said, he run
off, but jest as I turned towards the tavern, I see him a-coming
back, kinder wild-like; so I slipped behind a lumber-pile, hoping he
might come over the bridge, so I could lay my fingers on him. The
moon was about its highest, so I could see his face, plain as day,--
white,--skim-milk warn't a circumstance to it,--and his eyes wide
open as they could stretch. I tell you, he was wild! He looked up and
down a bit, mumbled somethin' I couldn't make out, and then what do
you think that boy did? Why, he jumped in, clothes and all, bold as a
lion,--plainly to save me from drowning, and me all the time a-spyin'
at him from behind a lumber-pile! He was sarching for me, I knowed,
for he swum up and down jest about there for the space maybe of a
quarter of an hour. And when he give it up at last, and come out, he
kinder sunk down on the tow-path, and I heard him say plain enough,
though he only whispered it,--jest like a woman actor I see down to
York oncet, playin' in Guy something or other,--she was a sort of an
old gypsy devil,--says he, 'I am a murderer, then!' Thinks I, 'Sonny,
all but the murderer!' And as he stood up again, he 'peared to suffer
so, his face was so white, and his knees so shaky, that I says to
myself, 'Dan, you've carried the joke far enough.' So I sings out to
him, and comes out from behind the lumber-stack, but, Lord bless ye!
he jest peeped round over his shoulder oncet, gave a kind of chokin'
scream like, and put out up the road as if the Devil was after him. I
knowed it warn't no use to follow him, so I got on a dry shirt and
went to bed. The next day I went home, and I'd mighty near forgot all
about it, only today I came to see Dr. Thorne for somethin' to do my
cold good, and he wantin' to know how I ketched it brought the whole
matter back again."

"You're an old brick, Buckhurst!" cried Mac, giving the jovial farmer
a thundering slap on the back, and a hearty grasp of his hand; "and
you shall drink the boy's health with Ned and me this day, or I'll
know the reason why. Ned Blount, a'n't it glorious? Said I not, you
ill-omened bird, said I not, _'Il y a toujours un Dieu pour les
enfans et pour les ivrognes'_?--So you came down with Thorne to ease
the poor little fellow's mind, did you, Buckhurst? That's right, and
you shall see the picture, by Jove! And you'll say, when you see it,
that such a picture were cheap at the cost of duckings for a dozen
Buckhursts. Now tell me truly, what do you think made him push you

"Of course, it was the pison, Sir,--a baby like that wouldn't harm a
flea. I thought maybe, until I see Dr. Thorne, that he done it out of
mischieviousness, as boys will do, you know,--jest as they steal a
feller's apples, and knock his turkeys of'n the roost,--but yander's
not one of them kind; so he must 'a' been crazy, and I'm rael sorry
he's been so bad put to about it,--I am, indeed."

Here the inner door was opened, and Thorne joined us, with a moisture
about his eyes that he used afterwards to deny most vehemently.

"Buckhurst, he wants to see you; go in there," said he,--adding, in a
lower tone, "Now, mind you, the child's delicate as spun glass; so be

"Come in, Mr. Buckhurst," called Clarian.

The worthy farmer looked to right and left, as if he would much
rather have made his escape, but, impelled by a shove from the
Doctor, he ran his fingers through his coarse hair, and, with a very
red and "I-wish-I-was-out-of-this" face, went in, closing the door
behind him.

"Phew!" said Thorne, seating himself somewhat testily, after having
filled and lighted a pipe,--"Phew! So that's over, and I a'n't sorry;
it's as bad as reading the 'Diary of a Physician.' The boy will be
all right now, and the lesson won't hurt him, though it has been a
rough one. But no more metaphysics for him, Ned Blount! And, boys,
let this be a warning to you. He's too brittle a toy to be handled in
your rough fashion."

"You needn't tell us that, Thorne," said Mac, drawing a long breath.
"Catch me kicking over children's baby-houses again, or telling 'em
ghost-stories in the dark!"

"He vows never again to touch brush, crayon, or pencil; and if he is
the devotee you describe him to be, Ned, I would not advise you to
oppose him in his determination. You must keep him here till
vacation, and next term he can exchange his room. Macbeth's company
will never be very agreeable to him, I should judge; and it will not
do to let him destroy the picture."

Thorne puffed away vigorously for a minute or two.

"That boy ought to turn preacher, Mac. He touched me nearer just now
than I have been touched for an age.

"'His voice was a sweet tremble in mine ear,
Made tunable with every saddest grief,
Till those sad eyes, so spiritual and clear,'

almost persuaded me to follow the example of divine Achilles and
'refresh my soul with tears.' He has that tear-bringing privilege of
genius, to a certainty."

And so it seemed, indeed; for presently the worthy Mr. Buckhurst made
his reappearance in quite a sad state, mopping his red face and
swollen eyes most vigorously with a figured cotton handkerchief, and
proclaiming, with as much intelligibility as the cold in his head and
the peculiar circumstances of the case would admit of, that he'd "be
dagg'd ef he hadd't raver be chucked idto _two_ cadawls dad 'ave dat
iddocedt baby beggid his pardod about de codfouded duckid! Wat de
hell did _he_ care about gittid wet, he'd like to kdow?
Dodsedse!--'twad all dud id fud, adyhow!"

----"And now _you_, my dear, dear friends," said Clarian, turning his
sad, full eyes upon us, and calling us to his side, and to his arms.

But I shall draw a veil over that interview.

That night, after we had talked long and lovingly together, and were
now sitting, each absorbed in his own thoughts, and emulating the
quiet that reigned around college, Clarian softly joined us, and
placed an open book in Mac's hands.

"Will you, dear Mac?" murmured he.

Then Mac, all full of solemn emotion, read through the grand periods
of the Church Litany, and when he had finished, Clarian, with a
thrilling "Let us pray," offered up such a thanksgiving as I had
never heard, praying to the kind Father who had so mercifully
extricated him, that our paths might still be enlightened, and our
walks made humble and righteous.

"Clarian," said Mac, after a pause, when we were again on our feet,--
he laid his hands on the boy's shoulders, as he spoke, and looked
into his eyes,--"Clarian, would it have happened, if you had not
taken that foul drug?"

Clarian shuddered, and covered up his face in his hands.

"Do not ask me, dear Mac! do not ask me! Oh, be sure, my aims, I
thought, were noble, and myself I thought so pure!--but--I cannot
say, Mac, I cannot say.

"'We are so weak, we know our motives least In their confused

"At least, Clarian," said Mac, after a while, his deep voice
wonderfully refined with strong emotion, "at least, the picture was
not painted in vain. Even as it is in the play, Banquo died that his
issue might reign after him; and this lesson of ours will bear fruit
far mightier than the trifling pains of its parturition. Ay, Clarian,
your picture has not been vainly painted.--And now, Ned," said he,
rising, "we must put our baby to bed; for he is to wake early
to-morrow, and know himself a man!"


Doves on the sunny eaves are cooing,
The chip-bird trills from the apple-tree,
Blossoms are bursting and leaves renewing,
And the crocus darts up the spring to see.

Spring has come with a smile of blessing,
Kissing the earth with her soft warm breath,
Till it blushes in flowers at her gentle caressing,
And wakes from the winter's dream of death.

Spring has come! The rills, as they glisten,
Sing to the pebbles and greening grass;
Under the sward the violets listen,
And dream of the sky as they hear her pass.

Coyest of roses feel her coming,
Swelling their buds with a promise to her,--
And the wild bee hears her, around them humming,
And booms about with a joyous stir.

Oaks, that the bark of a century covers,
Feel ye the spell, as ye groan and sigh?
Say,--does her spirit that round you hovers
Whisper of youth and love gone by?

Windows are open,--the pensive maiden
Leans o'er the sill with a wistful sigh,
Her heart with tender longings o'erladen,
And a happy sadness, she knows not why.

For we and the trees are brothers in nature;--
We feel in our veins the season's thrill
In hopes that reach to a higher stature,
In blind dim longings beyond our will.

Whence dost thou come, O joyous spirit?
From realms beyond this human ken,
To paint with beauty the earth we inherit,
And soften to love the hearts of men?

Dear angel! that blowest with breath of gladness
The trump to waken the year in its grave,
Shall we not hear, after death's deep sadness,
A voice as tender to gladden and save?

Dost thou not sing a constant promise
That joy shall follow that other voice,--
That nothing of good shall be taken from us,
But all who hear it shall rise, to rejoice?


Mr. Choate's mind was so complex, peculiar, and original,--so foreign
in temperament and spirit to the more representative traits of New
England character,--so large, philosophic, and sagacious in vision
and survey of great questions, and so dramatic and vehement in their
exposition and enforcement,--so judicial and conservative in always
maintaining in his arguments the balance and relation of
interdependent principles, and so often in details marring the most
exquisite poetry with the wildest extravagancies of style,--so free
from mere vulgar tricks of effect, and so full of imaginative
tricksiness and surprises,--so mischievous, subtle, mysterious,
elusive, Protean,--that it is no wonder he has been more admired and
more misunderstood than any eminent American of his time. It was
because of these unaccustomed qualities of mind that matter-of-fact
lawyers and judges came slowly but surely to Mr. Webster's
conclusion, that he was "the most accomplished of American lawyers,"
whether arguing to courts or juries. In the same way, critically
correct but unimaginative scholars, who "can pardon anything but a
false quantity,"--who "see the hair on the rope, but not the rope,"
and detect minute errors, but not poetic apprehension,--admitted at
last the fulness and variety of his scholastic attainments. And
perhaps the finest tribute to the power and subtlety of his influence
was, that, to the last, juries, who began cases by steeling
themselves against it, and who ended by giving him their verdicts,
maintained that they were not at all influenced by him,--so profound,
so complete, and so unconscious had been the spell this man of genius
had woven around them.

When it is remembered that a great lawyer in the United States is
called upon (as he is not in England) to practise in all our courts,
civil and criminal, law, equity, and admiralty, and, in addition to
all the complicated questions between parties, involving life,
liberty, and property, arising therein, that he is to know and
discuss our whole scheme of government, from questions under its
patent laws up to questions of jurisdiction and constitutional
law,--it will be seen what a field there is for the exhibition of the
highest talents, and how few lawyers in the country can become
eminent in all these various and important departments of mental
labor. In their whole extent Mr. Choate was not only thoroughly
informed as a student and profound as a reasoner, but his genius
produced such a fusion of imagination and understanding as to give
creativeness to argumentation and philosophy to treatment of facts.

We propose to try to give some idea of those mental characteristics
and peculiarities in which he differed from other lawyers, and to
indicate some salient points of his genius and nature which went to
make up so original and interesting an individuality. Immense labor
and talent will no more produce genius or its results, than mere
natural genius, without their aid and instrumentality, can reach and
maintain the highest rank in any of the great departments of life or
thought. With true genius, imagination is, to be sure, paramount to
great and balanced faculties; but genius is always demonstrating its
superiority to talent as well by its greater rapidity and certainty
in seizing, arranging, and holding facts, and by the extent of its
acquisitions, as by its superior philosophic and artistic grasp and

Though Mr. Choate was so much more than a mere lawyer, it was in
court that he displayed the full force and variety of his powers.
_Hic currus et arma_. We shall, however, speak more especially of his
jury-trials, because in them more of his whole nature was brought
into play, and because of them and of his management of them there is
and can be no full record. The arguments and triumphs of the great
advocate are almost as evanescent and traditionary as the
conversation of great talkers like Coleridge. In what we have to say
we cannot be expected to call up the arguments and cases themselves,
and we must necessarily be confined to a somewhat general statement
of certain mental qualities and characteristics which were of the
secret of his power. We shall be rewarded, if we succeed in giving in
mere outline some explanation of the fact, that so much of interest
and something of mystery attach themselves throughout the country to
his name and genius.

A jury-trial is in itself dramatic; but mere eloquence is but a small
part of what is demanded of a great advocate. Luther Martin and
Jeremiah Mason were the most eminent American examples of the very
many great jury-lawyers who were almost destitute of all that makes
up popular eloquence. A jury-lawyer is of course greater with it, but
he can do entirely without it. Almost all great trials appeal to the
intellects rather than to the passions of jurors. What an advocate
needs first is thorough knowledge of law, and that adaptiveness and
readiness of faculty which are never surprised into forgetfulness or
confusion, so that he can instantly see, meet, reason upon, and apply
his legal learning to the unexpected as well as the expected points
of law and evidence as they arise in a case. Secondly, he must have
thorough knowledge of human nature: he must not only profoundly
discuss motives in their relations to the laws of the human mind, and
practically reconcile motives with conduct as they relate to the
parties and witnesses in his cases, but he must prepare, present,
develop, guide, and finally argue his case, within the rules of law,
with strict reference to its effect upon the differing minds of
twelve men. It would be difficult to name any other field of public
mental effort which demands and gives scope for such variety of
faculty and accomplishment.

Whatever may have been Mr. Choate's defects of character or of style,
no competent judge ever saw his management of any case in court, from
its opening to its close, without recognizing that he was a man of
genius. It mattered not whether the amount involved was little or
great, whether the parties were rich or poor, wise or ignorant,
whether the subject-matter was dry or fertile,--such were his
imaginative insight, his knowledge of law and of human nature, his
perfection of arrangement, under which every point was treated fully,
but none unduly, his consummate tact and tactics, his command of
language in all its richness and delicacy to express the fullest
force and the nicest shades of his meaning, and his haggard beauty of
person and grace of nature, that every case rose to dramatic dignity
and to its largest relations to law, psychology, and poetry; and
thus, while giving it artistic unity and completeness, he all the
more enforced his arguments and insured his success. How widely
different in method and surroundings from the poet's exercise of the
creative faculty in the calm of thought and retirement, on a selected
topic and in selected hours of inspiration, was his entering, with
little notice or preparation, into a case involving complicated
questions of law and fact, with only a partial knowledge of the case
of his antagonist! met at point after point by unexpected evidence
and rulings of law, often involving such instantaneous decisions as
to change his whole combinations and method of attack; examining
witnesses with unerring skill, whom he was at once too chivalrous and
too wise to browbeat; arguing to the court unexpected questions of
law with full and available legal learning; carrying in his mind the
case, and the known or surmised plan of attack of his antagonist, and
shaping his own case to meet it; holding an exquisitely sensitive
physical and mental organization in such perfect control as never to
be irritated or disturbed; throwing his whole force on a given point,
and rising to a joyousness of power in meeting the great obstacles to
his success; and finally, with little or no respite for preparation,
weaving visibly, as it were, before the mental eye, from all these
elicited materials, his closing argument, which, as we have said, was
all the more effective, because profound reasoning and exquisite tact
and influence were involved in it as a work of art.

He had the temperament of the great actors,--that of the elder Kean
and the elder Booth, not of Kemble and Macready,--and, like them, had
the power of almost instantly passing into the nature and thought and
emotion of another, and of not only absolutely realizing them, but of
realizing them all the more completely because he had at the same
time perfect self-direction and self-control. The absurd question is
often asked, whether an actor is ever the character he represents
throughout a whole play. He could be so, only if insane. But every
great actor and orator must be capable of instantaneous abandonment
to his part, and of as instantaneous withdrawal from it,--like the
elder Booth, joking one minute at a side-scene and in the next having
the big tears of a realized Lear running down his cheeks. An eminent
critic says,--"Genius always lights its own fire,"--and this constant
double process of mind,--one of self-direction and self-control, the
other of absolute abandonment and identification,--each the more
complete for the other,--the dramatic poet, the impassioned orator,
and the great interpretative actor, all know, whenever the whole mind
and nature are in their highest action. Mr. Choate, therefore, from
pure force of mental constitution, threw himself into the life and
position of the parties and witnesses in a jury-case, and they
necessarily became _dramatis personae_, and moved in an atmosphere of
his own creation. His narrative was the simplest and most artistic
exhibition of his case thus seen and presented from the point of
their lives and natures, and not from the dry facts and points of his
case; and his argument was all the more perfect, because not
exhibited in skeleton nakedness, but incorporated and intertwined
with the interior and essential life of persons and events. It was in
this way that he effected the acquittal of Tirrell, whom any
matter-of-fact lawyer, however able, would have argued straight to the
gallows; and yet we have the highest judicial authority for saying
that in that case he did his simple technical duty, without
interposing his own opinions or convictions. We shall say a word,
before we close, of the charge that he surrendered himself too
completely to his client; but to a great degree the explanation and
the excuse at once lie in this dramatic imagination, which was of the
essence of his genius and influence, and through which he lived the
life, shared the views, and identified himself with a great actor's
realization, in _the part_ of his client.

In making real to himself the nature, life, and position of his
client,--in gathering from him and his witnesses, in the preparation
and trial of his case, its main facts and direction, as colored or
inflamed by his client's opinions, passions, and motives,--and in
seeking their explanation in the egotism and idiosyncrasy which his
own sympathetic insight penetrated and harmonized into a consistent
individuality,--he, of course, knew his client better than his client
knew himself; he conceived him as an actor conceives character, and,
in a great measure, saw with his eyes from his point of view, and, in
the argument of his case, gave clear expression and consistent
characterization to his nature and to his partisan views in their
relations to the history of the case. We have seen his clients sit
listening to the story of their own lives and conduct, held off in
artistic relief and in dramatic relation, with tears running down
cheeks which had not been moistened by the actual events themselves,
re-presented by his arguments in such coloring and perspective.

As a part of this power of merging his own individuality in that of
his client was his absolute freedom from egotism, conceit,
self-assertion, and personal pride of opinion. Such an instance is, of
course, exceptional. Nearly all the eminent jury-lawyers we have
known have been, consciously or unconsciously, self-asserting, and
their individuality rather than that of their clients has been
impressed upon juries. An advocate with a great jury-reputation has
two victories to win: the first, to overcome the determination of the
jury to steel themselves against his influence; the second, to
convince their judgments. Mr. Choate's self-surrender was so complete
that they soon forgot him, because he forgot himself in his case;
nothing personally demonstrative or antagonistic induced obstinacy or
opposition, and every door was soon wide open to sympathy and
conviction. If an advocate is conceited, or vain, or self-important,
or if he thinks of producing effects as well for himself as for his
client, or if his nature is hard and unadaptive,--great abilities
display these qualities, instead of hiding them, and they make a
refracting medium between a case and the minds of a jury. Mr. Choate
was more completely free from them than any able man we ever knew.
Any one of them would have been in complete contradiction to the
whole composition and current of his nature. Though conscious of his
powers, he was thoroughly and lovingly modest. It was because he
thought so little of himself and so much of his client that he never
made personal issues, and was never diverted by them from his strict
and full duty. Instead of "greatly finding quarrel in a straw," where
some supposed honor was at stake, he would suffer himself rather than
that his case should suffer. Early in his practice, when a friend
told him he bore too much from opposing counsel without rebuking
them, he said: "Do you suppose I care what those men say? I want to
get my client's case." Want of pugnacity too often passes for want of
courage. We have seen him in positions where we wished he could have
been more personally demonstrative, and (to apply the language of the
ring to the contests of the court-room) that he could have stood
still and struck straight from the shoulder; but when we remember how
perfectly he saw through and through the faults and foibles of men,
how his mischievous and genial irony, when it touched personal
character, stamped and characterized it for life, and how keen was
the edge and how fine the play of every weapon in his full armory of
sarcasm and ridicule, (of which his speech in the Senate in reply to
Mr. McDuffie's personalities gives masterly exhibition,) we are
thankful that his sensibility was so exquisite and his temper so
sweet, that he was a delight instead of a terror, and that he was
loved instead of feared. Delicacy should be commensurate to power,
that each may be complete. It would seem almost impossible that a
lawyer with a practice truly immense, passing a great part of his
life in public and heated contests and in discussing and often
severely criticizing the motives and conduct of parties and
witnesses, should not make many enemies; but he was so essentially
modest, simple, gentlemanly, and tender, so considerate of the
feelings of others, so evidently trying to mitigate the pain which it
was often his duty to inflict, that we never heard of his searching
and subtile examination of witnesses, or his profound and exhaustive
analysis of character and motive, or his instantaneous and
irresistible retorts upon counsel, creating or leaving behind him, in
the bar or out of it, malice or ill-will in a human being. One of the
most touching and beautiful things we ever saw in a court-room would
have been in other hands purely painful and repulsive. It was his
examination of the wretched women who were witnesses in the Tirrell
case. His tact in eliciting what was necessary to be known, and which
they would have concealed, was forgotten and lost in his chivalrous
and Christian recognition of their common humanity, and in his
gentlemanly thoughtfulness that even they were still women, with
feelings yet sensitive to eye and word.

In jury-trials it would be foolish to judge style by severe or
classic standards. If an advocate have skill and insight and adequate
powers of expression, his style must yield and vary with the
circumstances of different cases and the minds of different juries
and jurors. When a friend of Erskine asked him, at the close of a
jury-argument, why he so unusually and iteratively, and with such
singular illustration, prolonged one part of his case, he said,--"It
took me two hours to make that fat man with the buff waistcoat join
the eleven!"

All men of great powers of practical influence over the minds of men
know how stupid and dull of apprehension the mass of mankind are; and
no one knows better than a great jury-lawyer in how many different
ways it is often necessary to present arguments, and how they must be
pressed, urged, and _hammered_ into most men's minds. He is
endeavoring to persuade and convince twelve men upon a question in
which they have no direct pecuniary or personal interest, and he must
more or less know and adapt his reasoning and his style to each
juror's mind. He should know no audience but the judge and these
twelve men. Retainers never seek and should not find counsel who
address jurors with classical or formal correctness. Napoleon, at St.
Helena, after reading one of his bulletins, which had produced the
great and exact effect for which he had intended it, exclaimed,--"And
yet they said I couldn't write!"

The true Yankee is suspicious of eloquence, and "stops a metaphor
like a suspected person in an enemy's country." A stranger, who
looked in for a few minutes upon one of Mr. Choate's jury-arguments,
and saw a lawyer with a lithe and elastic figure of about five feet
and eleven inches, with a face not merely of a scholarly paleness,
but wrinkled all over, and, as it were, scathed with thought and with
past nervous and intellectual struggles, yet still beautiful, with
black hair curling as if from heat and dewy from heightened action
and intensity of thought and feeling, and heard a clear, sympathetic,
and varying voice uttering rapidly and unhesitatingly, sometimes with
sweet caesural and almost monotonous cadences, and again with
startling and electric shocks, language now exquisitely delicate and
poetic, now vehement in its direct force, and again decorated and
wild with Eastern extravagance and fervor of fancy, would have
thought him the last man to have been born on New England soil, or to
convince the judgments of twelve Yankee jurors. But those twelve men,
if he had opened the case himself, had been quietly, simply, and
sympathetically led into a knowledge of its facts in connection with
its actors and their motives; they had seen how calmly and with what
tact he had examined his witnesses, how ready, graceful, and unheated
had been his arguments to the court, and how complete throughout had
been his self-possession and self-control; they had, moreover,
learned and become interested in the case, and were no longer the
same hard and dispassionate men with whom he had begun, and they
knew, as the casual spectator could not know, how systematically he
was arguing while he was also vehemently enforcing his case. _He_,
meanwhile, knew his twelve men, and what arguments, appeals, and
illustrations were needed to reach the minds of one or all. He did
not care how certain extravagances of style struck the critical
spectator, if they stamped and riveted certain points of his case in
the minds of his jury. With the keenest perception of the ridiculous
himself, he did not hesitate to say things which, disconnected from
his purpose, might seem ridiculous. One consequence of these
audacities of expression was, that, when it became necessary for him
to be iterative, he was never tedious. They gave full play to his
imaginative humor and irony, and to his poetic unexpectedness and
surprises. A wise observer, hearing him try a case from first to
last, while recognizing those higher qualities of genius which we
have before described, saw, that, for all the purposes of persuasion
and argumentation, for conveying his meaning in its full force and in
its most delicate distinctions and shadings, for analytic reasoning
or for the "clothing upon" of the imagination, for all the essential
objects and vital uses of language, his style was perfect for his
purpose and for his audience. His excesses came from surplus power
and dramatic intensity, and were pardoned by all imaginative minds to
the real genius with which they were informed.

Every great advocate must, at times, especially in the trial of
capital cases, be held popularly responsible for the acquittal of men
whom the public has prejudged to be guilty. This unreasoning,
impulsive, and irresponsible public never stops to inform itself;
never discriminates between legal acumen and pettifogging trickery,
between doing one's full duty to his client and interposing or
misrepresenting his own personal opinions; and never remembers that
the functions of law and the practice of law are to prevent and to
punish crime, to ascertain the truth, and to determine and enforce
justice,--that trial by jury, and the other means and methods through
which justice is administered, are founded in the largest wisdom,
philanthropy, and experience,--that they cannot work perfectly,
because human nature is imperfect, but they constitute the best
practical system for the application of abstract principles of right
to the complicated affairs of life which the world has yet seen, and
which steadily improves as our race improves,--and that every great
lawyer is aiding in elucidating truth and in administering justice,
when doing his duty to his client under this system. Our trial by
jury has its imperfections; but, laying aside its demonstrated value
and necessity in great struggles for freedom, before and since the
time of Erskine, no better scheme can be devised to do its great and
indispensable work. The very things which seem to an uninformed man
like rejection or confusion of truth are a part of the sifting by
which it is to be reached. The admission or rejection of evidence
under sound rules of law, the presenting of the whole case of each
party and of the best argument which can be made upon it by his
counsel, the charge of the judge and the verdict of the jury,--all
are necessary parts of the process of reaching truth and justice.
Counsel themselves cannot know a whole case until tried to its end;
their clients have a right to their best services, within the limits
of personal honor; and lawyers are derelict in duty, not only to
their clients, but to justice itself, if they do not present their
cases to the best of their ability, when they are to be followed by
opposing counsel, by the judge, and by the jury. The popular judgment
is not only capricious,--it not only assumes that legal precedents,
founded in justice for the protection of the honest, are petty
technicalities or tricks through which the dishonest escape,--it is
not only formed out of the court-room, with no opportunity to see
witnesses and hear testimony, often very different in reality from
what they seem in print,--but it visits upon counsel its ignorant
prejudices against the theory and practice of the law itself, and
forgets that lawyers cannot present to the jury a particle of
evidence except with the sanction of the court under sound rules of
law, and that the law is to be laid down by the court alone.

A man thoroughly in earnest in any direction is more or less a
partisan. Histories are commonly uninfluential or worthless, unless
written with views so earnest and decided as to show bias. As the
greater interests of truth are best subserved by those whose zeal is
commensurate to their scope of mind, so it is a part of the scheme of
jury-trials, that, within the limits we have named, counsel shall
throw their whole force into their cases, that thus they may be
presented fully in all lights, and the right results more surely
reached. The scheme of jury-trials itself thus providing for a
lawyer's standing in the place of his client and deriving from him
his partisan opinions, and for urging his case in its full force
within the limits of sound rules of law, it almost invariably
follows, that, the greater the talent and zeal of the advocate, and
the more he believes in the views of his client, the more liable he
is to be charged with overstating or misstating testimony. Mr. Choate
never conceived that his duty to his client should carry him up to
the line of self-surrender drawn by Lord Brougham; but, recognizing
his client's full and just claims upon him, entering into his
opinions and nature with the sympathetic and dramatic realization we
have described, he could not faithfully perform the prescribed and
admitted duty of the advocate,--necessarily, with him, involving his
throwing the whole force of his physical and intellectual vitality
into every case he tried,--without being a vehement partisan, or
without being sometimes charged with misstating evidence or going too
far for his client. Occasionally this may have been true; but we see
the explanation in the very quality of his genius and temperament,
and not in conscious or intentional wrong-doing.

His ability and method in his strictly legal arguments to courts of
law are substantially indicated in what we have already said. His
manner, however, was here calm, his general views of his subject
large and philosophic, his legal learning full, his reasoning clear,
strong, and consequential, his discrimination quick and sure, and his
detection of a logical fallacy unerring, his style, though sometimes
fairly open to the charge of redundancy, graceful and transparent in
its exhibition of his argument, and his mind always at home, and in
its easiest and most natural exercise, when anything in his case rose
into connection with great principles.

While exhibiting in his jury-trials, as we have shown, this double
process of absolute identification and of perfect supervision and
self-control,--of instantaneous imaginative dips into his work, and
of as instantaneous withdrawal from it,--of purposely and yet
completely throwing himself in one sentence into the realization of
an emotion, thus perfectly conveying his meaning while living the
thought, and yet coming out of it to see quicker than any one that it
might be made absurd by displacement,--he always had, as it were, an
air-drawn, circle of larger thought and superintending relation far
around the immediate question into which he passed so dramatically.
Within this outer circle, attached and related to it by everything in
the subject-matter of real poetic or philosophic importance, was his
case, creatively woven and spread in artistic light and perspective;
and between the two (if we do not press our illustration beyond clear
limits) was a heat-lightning-like play of mind, showing itself, at
one moment, in unexpected flashes of poetic analogy, at another in
Puck-like mischief, and again in imaginative irony or humor.

As he recovered himself from abandonment to some part of his case or
argument to guide and mould the whole, so, going into his library, he
could, as completely, for minutes or for hours, banish and forget his
anxieties and dramatic excitements, and pass into the cooling air and
loftier and purer stimulations of the great minds of other times and
countries and of the great questions that overhang us all. His mind,
capacious, informed, wise, doubting, "looking before and after," here
found its highest pleasures, and its little, but most loved repose.
"The more a man does, the more he can do"; and, notwithstanding his
immense practice, and that by physical and intellectual constitution
he couldn't _half_ do anything, he never allowed a day of his life to
pass, without reading some, if ever so little, Greek, and it was a
surprise to those who knew him well to find that he kept up with
everything important in modern literature. Rising and going to bed
early, taking early morning exercise, having a strong constitution,
though he was subject to sudden but quickly overcome nervous and
bilious illness, wasting no time, caring nothing for the coarser
social enjoyments, leading, out of court, a self-withdrawn and
solitary life, though playful, genial, and stimulating in social
intercourse, with a memory as tenacious and ready as his apprehension
was quick, with high powers of detecting, mastering, arranging, and
fusing his acquisitions, and of penetrating to the centre of
historical characters and events,--it is not strange, though he may
not have been critically exact and nice in questions of quantity and
college exercises, that his scholarship was large and available in
all its higher aims and uses.

It will naturally be asked, how such qualities as we have described
manifested themselves in character, and in political and other fields
of thought and exertion. Fair abilities, zeal, industry, a sanguine
temperament, and some special bent or fitness for the profession of
the law, will make a good and successful lawyer. Such a man's mind
will be entirely in and limited by the immediate case in hand, and
virtually his intellectual life will be recorded in his cases. But
with Mr. Choate, the dramatic genius and large scope and vision which
made him superior to other great advocates at the same time prevented
his overestimating the value of his work in kind or degree, showed
him how ephemeral are the actual triumphs and how small the real
value of nearly all the questions he thus vitalized into artistic
reality, when compared with the great outlying truths and principles
to which he allied them. Feeling this all through his cases, at the
same time that he was moulding them and giving them dramatic
vitality, they took their true position from natural reaction and
rebound, with all the more sharpness of contrast, when he came out of
them. With such a nature, it could be assumed _a priori_ as a
psychological certainty, at any rate it was the fact with him, that a
certain unreality was at times thrown over life and its objects, that
its projects and ambitions seemed games and mockeries, and "this
brave o'erhanging firmament a pestilent congregation of vapors," and
that grave doubts and fears on the great questions of existence were
ever on the horizon of his mind. This gave perpetual play to his
irony, and made it a necessity and a relief of mind. Except when in
earnest in some larger matter, or closely occupied in accomplishing
some smaller necessary purpose or duty, his imagination loved the
tricksy play of exhibiting the petty side of life in contrast to its
realities, just as in his cases it found its exercise in lifting them
up to relations with what is poetic and permanent. But, though irony
was thus the natural language of his mind, it did not pass beyond the
limits of the mischievous and kindly, because there was nothing
scoffing or bitter in his nature. It was fresh and natural, never
studied for effect, and gave his conversation the charm of constant
novelty and surprises. He loved to condense the results of thought
and study into humorous or grotesque overstatements, which, while
they amused his hearers, conveyed his exact meaning to every one who
followed the mercurial movement of his mind. It will readily be seen
how a person with neither insight into his nature nor apprehension of
his meaning should, without intending it, misinterpret his life and
caricature his opinions,--blundering only the more deeply when trying
to be literally exact in reporting conversations or portraying

It has been shrewdly said, that, "when the Lord wants anything done
in this world, he makes a man a little wrong-headed in the right
direction." With this goes the disposition to overestimate the
importance of one's work and to push principles and theories towards
extremes. The saying is true of some individuals at or before certain
crises in affairs; it is not true of the great inevitable historical
movements, any more than the history of revolutions is the history of
nations. Halifax is called a trimmer. William Wilberforce was a
reformer. Each did a great work. But it would be simply absurd,
except in the estimation of the moral purist, to call Wilberforce as
great a man or as great an historical and influential person as
Halifax. Halifax saw and acted in the clear light and large relations
in which the great historian of our own times wrote the history of
the Stuarts. Wilberforce was a purer man, who acted more
conscientiously and persistently within his smaller range of life and
thought. It would have been inconsistent with Mr. Choate's nature for
him to have been "wrong-headed" in any direction. Such largeness of
view, such dramatic and interpretative imagination, such volatile
play of thought and fancy, and such perception of the pettiness and
hollowness of nearly all the aims and ambitions of daily life we
cannot expect to find coexisting with the coarser "blood-sympathies,"
the direct passion, and the dogged and tenacious hold of temporary
and smaller objects and issues, which distinguish the American
politician, or with the narrowness of view, the zeal, and the moral
persistency which characterize the practical reformer. There was,
therefore, in his nature a certain want of the sturdier, harder, and
more robust elements of character, which, though commonly manifesting
themselves in connection with self-assertion and partisan zeal, are
indispensable to the man who, in any large and political way, would
take hold of practical circumstances and work a purpose out of them.
We admire him for what he was. We do not condemn him for the absence
of qualities not allied to such delicacy and breadth of nature. It is
simply just to state the fact.

He had too little political ambition to seek his own advancement. He
never could have been a strictly party man. His interest in our
politics was a patriotic interest in the country. While he recognized
the necessity of two great parties, he despised the arts and
intrigues of the politician. His modesty, sensibility, large views,
and want of political ambition and partisan spirit prevented
interest, as they would have precluded success in party management.
Had he spent many years instead of a few in the national Senate, he
never could have been a leader in its great party struggles. He had
not the hardier personal and constitutional qualities of mind and
character which lead and control deliberative bodies in great crises.
He would not have had that statesmanlike prescience which in the case
of Lord Chatham and others seems separable from great general scope
of thought, and which one is tempted to call a faculty for
government. But he must have been influential; for, besides being the
most eloquent man in the Senate, his speeches would have been
distinguished for amplitude and judgment in design, and for tact and
persuasiveness in enforcement. They might not have had immediate and
commanding effect, but they would have had permanent value. His
speech upon the Ashburton Treaty indicates the powers he would have
shown, with a longer training in the Senate. More than ten years had
passed between that speech and his two speeches in the Massachusetts
Constitutional Convention, upon Representation and the Judiciary, and
in that time a great maturing and solidifying work had been going on
in his mind. Indeed, it was one sure test of his genius, that his
intellect plainly grew to the day of his death. We would point to
those two speeches as giving some adequate expression of his ability
to treat large subjects simply, profoundly, artistically, and
convincingly. Many of his earlier and some of his later speeches and
addresses, though large in conception and stamped with unmistakable
genius, want solid body of thought, and are, so to speak, too fluid
in style. This obviously springs from the qualities of mind and from
the circumstances we have indicated. In court, the necessities of his
case and the determination and shaping of all his argument and
persuasion to convincing twelve men, or a court only, on questions
requiring prompt decision, kept his style free from everything
foreign to his purpose. But, released from these restraints, and
called upon for a treatment more general and comprehensive than acute
and discriminating, his style often became inflamed and decorated
with sensibility and fancy. His mind, moreover, was overtasked in his
profession. His unremitting mental labor in the preparation and trial
of so many cases was immense and exhausting. It shortened his life.
That his genius might have that free and joyous exercise necessary to
its full use and exhibition in literary or political directions, an
abandonment of a great part of his professional duties was
indispensable. This was to him neither possible nor desirable. The
mental heat and pressure, therefore, under which he wrote his
speeches and addresses, and the necessity for the exercise of
different methods of thought and treatment from those called into
play at the bar, explain why (with a few noble exceptions) they do
not give a fair or full exhibition of his genius and accomplishments.
But in them his judgment never lost its anchorage. Unlike Burke, who
was the god of his political idolatry, his sensibility never
overmastered his reasoning. Through a style sometimes Eastern in
flush and fervor, and again tropical in heat and luxuriance, were
always seen the adjusting and attempering habit of thought and
argument and the even balance of his mind.

We have said that his interest in politics was a patriotic interest
in the nation. He knew her history and her triumphs and reverses on
land and sea by heart. Though limited by no narrow love of country,
he felt from sentiment and imagination that attachment to every
symbol of patriotism and national power which makes the sailor suffer
death with joy when he sees his country's flag floating in the smoke
of victory. "The radiant ensign of the Republic" was to him the
living embodiment of her honor and her power. He had for it the pride
and passion of the boy, with the prophetic hopes of the patriot. Men
of genius are ever revivifying the commonplace expressions and
visible signs of popular enthusiasm with the poetic and historic
realities which gave them birth. He felt the glow and impulse of the
great sentiments of race and nationality in all their natural
simplicity and poetic force. It is not now the time to discuss Mr.
Choate's political preferences and opinions. No one who knew him well
can hesitate to pronounce his motives pure and patriotic. We could
not come to his conclusions on the policy and duty of our people at
the last Presidential election. Our duties to the Union forced us to
regard as paramount what he regarded as subsidiary. Our fear for the
Union sprang from other sources than his. But we believe he acted
from the highest convictions of duty, and he certainly exposed
himself with unflinching courage to obloquy and misinterpretation
when silence would have been easy and safe.

In what we have said of him as a lawyer we are sure that in every
essential respect we have not overstated or misstated his powers and
characteristics as they were known and conceded by lawyers and judges
in Massachusetts. We have confined ourselves mainly to his
jury-trials, because into them he threw the whole force and vitality of
his nature, and because we could thus more completely indicate the
variety of his accomplishments and the essential characteristics of
his genius and individuality. A knowledge of them is indispensable to
a just estimate of the man, and it must die with him and his hearers,
excepting only as it may be preserved by contemporaneous written
criticism and judgment, and by indeterminate and shadowy tradition.

The labors of so great a lawyer are as much more useful as they are
less conspicuous than those of any prominent politician or
legislator, unless he be one of the very few who have high
constructive or creative ability. There is little risk of
overestimating the value of a life devoted to mastering that complex
system of jurisprudence, the old, ever-expanding, and ever-improving
common law which is interwoven with our whole fabric of government,
property, and personal rights, and to applying it profoundly through
trial by jury and before courts of law, not merely that justice may
be obtained for clients, but that decisions shall be made determining
the rights and duties of men for generations to come. And when such a
life is not only full of immense work and achievement, but
is penetrated and informed with genius, sensibility, and
loving-kindness, it passes sweetly and untraceably, but influentially
and immortally, into the life of the nation.


Before the restoration of Charles the Second, in 1660, to the throne
of his ancestors, he had issued a "Declaration," promising to all
persons but such as should be excepted by Parliament a pardon of
offences committed during the late disorderly times. In the
Parliamentary Act of Indemnity which followed, such as had been
directly concerned in the death of the late King were excepted from
mercy. Colonel Whalley and Colonel Goffe were members of the High
Court of Justice which convicted and sentenced him. It was known that
they had fled from England; and one Captain Breedon, lately returned
from Boston, reported that he had seen them there. The Ministry sent
an order to Endicott, the Governor of Massachusetts, for their
apprehension and transportation to England.

The friendly welcome which had in fact been extended to the
distinguished fugitives cannot be confidently interpreted as an
indication of favorable judgment of the act by which their lives were
now endangered. No one of the New-England Colonies had formally
expressed approval of the execution of King Charles the First, nor is
there any other evidence of its having been generally regarded by
them with favor. It is likely that in New England, as in the parent
country, the opinions of patriotic men were divided in respect to the
character of that measure. In New England, remote as it was from the
scene of those crimes which had provoked so extreme a proceeding, it
may be presumed that there was greater difficulty in admitting the
force of the reasons, by which it was vindicated. And the sympathy of
New England would be more likely to be with Vane, who condemned it,
than with Cromwell. But the strangers, however one act of theirs
might be regarded, had been eminent among those who had fought for
the rights of Englishmen, and they brought introductions from men
venerated and beloved by the people among whom a refuge was sought.

Edward Whalley, a younger son of a good family, first cousin of the
Protector Oliver, and of John Hampden, distinguished himself at the
Battle of Naseby as an officer of cavalry, and was presently promoted
by Parliament to the command of a regiment. He commanded at the storm
of Banbury, and at the first capture of Worcester. He was intrusted
with the custody of the King's person at Hampton Court; he sat in the
High Court of Justice at the trial of Charles, and was one of the
signers of the death-warrant. After the Battle of Dunbar, at which he
again won renown, Cromwell left him in Scotland in command of four
regiments of horse. He was one of the Major-Generals among whom the
kingdom was parcelled out by one of the Protector's last
arrangements, and as such governed the Counties of Lincoln,
Nottingham, Derby, Warwick, and Leicester. He sat as a member for
Nottinghamshire in Cromwell's Second and Third Parliaments, and was
called up to "the other House" when that body was constituted.

William Goffe, son of a Puritan clergyman in Sussex, was a member of
Parliament, and a colonel of infantry soon after the breaking out of
the Civil War. He married a daughter of Whalley. Like his
father-in-law, he was a member of the High Court of Justice for the
King's trial, a signer of the warrant for his execution, a member of the
Protector's Third and Fourth Parliaments, and then a member of "the
other House." He commanded Cromwell's regiment at the Battle of
Dunbar, and rendered service particularly acceptable to him in the
second expurgation of Parliament. As one of the ten Major-Generals,
he held the government of Hampshire, Berkshire, and Sussex.

When Whalley and Goffe, upon the King's return, left England to
escape what they apprehended might prove the fate of regicides, the
policy of the Court in respect to persons circumstanced as they were
had not been promulgated. Arriving in Boston, in July, and having
been courteously welcomed by the Governor, they proceeded the same
day to Cambridge, which place for the present they made their home.
For several months they appeared there freely in public. They
attended the public religious meetings, and others held at private
houses, at which latter they prayed, and _prophesied_, or preached.
They visited some of the principal towns in the neighborhood, were
often in Boston, and were received, wherever they went, with
distinguished attention.

At the end of four months, intelligence came to Massachusetts of the
Act of Indemnity, and that Whalley and Goffe were among those
excepted from it, and marked for vengeance. Three months longer they
lived at Cambridge unmolested; but in the mean while affairs had been
growing critical between Massachusetts and the mother country, and,
though some members of the General Court assured them of protection,
others thought it more prudent that they should have a hint to
provide for their safety in some way which would not imply an affront
to the royal government on the part of the Colony. The Governor
called a Court of Assistants, in February, and without secrecy asked
their advice respecting his obligation to secure the refugees. The
Court refused to recommend that measure, and four days more passed,
at the end of which time--whether induced by the persuasion of
others, or by their own conviction of the impropriety of involving
their generous hosts in further embarrassment, or simply because they
had been awaiting till then the completion of arrangements for their
reception at New Haven--they set off for that place.

A journey of nine days brought them to the hospitable house of the
Reverend Mr. Davenport, where again they moved freely in the society
of the ministers and the magistrates. But they had scarcely been at
New Haven three weeks, when tidings came thither of the reception at
Boston of a proclamation issued by the King for their arrest. To
release their host from responsibility, they went to Milford, (as if
on their way to New Netherland,) and there showed themselves in
public; but returned secretly the same night to New Haven, and were
concealed in Davenport's house. This was towards the last of March.

They had been so situated a month, when their friends had information
from Boston that the search for them was to be undertaken in earnest.
Further accounts of their having been seen in that place had reached
England, and the King had sent a peremptory order to the Colonial
governments for their apprehension. Endicott, to whom it was
transmitted, could do no less than appear to interest himself to
execute it; and this he might do with the less reluctance, because,
under the circumstances, there was small likelihood that his
exertions would be effectual. Two young English merchants, Thomas
Kellond and Thomas Kirk, received from him a commission to prosecute
the search in Massachusetts, and were also furnished with letters of
recommendation to the Governors of the other Colonies. That they were
zealous Royalists, direct from England, would be some evidence to the
home government that the quest would be pursued in good faith. That
they were foreigners, unacquainted with the roads and with the habits
of the country, and betraying themselves by their deportment wherever
they should go in New England, would afford comfortable assurance to
the Governor that they would pursue their quest in vain.

From Boston, the pursuivants, early in May, went to Hartford, where
they were informed by Winthrop, Governor of Connecticut, that "the
Colonels," as they were called, had passed thence immediately before,
on their way to New Haven. Thither the messengers proceeded, stopping
on the way at Guilford, the residence of Deputy-Governor Leete. Since


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