Atlantic Monthly, Vol. IV, No. 26, December, 1859

Part 4 out of 5

spears, a similitude which would be no less appropriate now than then.
Frequent displays are recorded during the fifteen years following that
date. During the latter half of the seventeenth century, the phenomena
were frequently visible, often-times being characterized by remarkable
brilliancy. After 1745, the displays suddenly diminished, and were but
rarely seen for the next nine years. The present century has been
favored to a remarkable degree. The displays during the years 1835,
'36, '37, '46, '48, '51, '52, and '59, have been especially grand.

What is the origin of these remarkable phenomena? The ancients asked
the question, and the moderns reply by repeating it. Before proceeding
to describe the magnificent auroral displays of August 28th and
September 2d, let us examine authorities upon this subject, and see if
we cannot arrive at some satisfactory solution of the phenomena. The
following is the description given by Humboldt in "Cosmos":--

"An aurora borealis is always preceded by the formation in the horizon
of a sort of nebulous veil, which slowly ascends to a height of 4 deg.,
6 deg., 8 deg., and even to 10 deg.. It is towards the magnetic meridian
of the place that the sky, at first pure, begins to get brownish. Through
this obscure segment, the color of which passes from brown to violet,
the stars are seen, as through a thick fog. A wider arc, but one of
brilliant light, at first white, then yellow, bounds the dark segment.
Sometimes the luminous arc appears agitated, for hours together, by a
sort of effervescence, and by a continuous change of form, before the
rising of the rays and columns of light, which ascend as far as the
zenith. The more intense the emission of the polar light, the more
vivid are its colors, which, from violet and bluish white, pass through
all the intermediate shades of green and purple-red. Sometimes the
columns of light appear to come out of the brilliant arc mingled with
blackish rays, resembling a thick smoke; sometimes they rise
simultaneously from different points of the horizon, and unite
themselves into a sea of flames, the magnificence of which no painting
could express; for, at each instant, rapid undulations cause their form
and brilliancy to vary. Motion appears to increase the visibility of
the phenomena. Around the point in the heaven which corresponds to the
direction of the dipping needle produced, the rays appear to meet and
form the boreal corona. It is seldom that the appearance is so
complete, and is prolonged to the formation of the corona; but when the
latter appears, it always announces the end of the phenomenon. The rays
then become more rare, shorter, and less vividly colored. Soon nothing
further is seen on the celestial vault than wide, motionless, nebulous
spots, pale, or of an ashy color; they have already disappeared, when
the traces of the dark segment whence the appearance originated still
remain on the horizon."

The connection that seems to exist, says De la Rive, between the polar
light and the appearance of a certain species of clouds is confirmed by
all observers; all have affirmed that the polar light emitted its most
brilliant rays when the high regions of the air contained heaps of
cirri,--strata of sufficient tenuity and lightness to cause a corona to
arise around the light. Sometimes these clouds are grouped and arranged
almost like the rays of an aurora borealis; they then appear to disturb
the magnetized needle. Father Secchi has remarked, that magnetic
disturbances are manifested at Rome whilst the sky is veiled with
clouds that are slightly phosphorescent, which, at night, present the
appearance of feeble aurorae boreales.

After a brilliant aurora borealis, we have been able to recognize, on
the following morning, trains of clouds, which, during the night, had
appeared as so many luminous rays.

The absolute height of aurorae boreales has been very variously
estimated by different observers. It has long been thought that we
might determine it by regarding, from two places widely distant from
each other, the same part of the aurora,--the corona, for example. But
we have started from a very inaccurate assumption, namely, that the two
observers had their eyes directed to the same point at the same
time,--whilst it is now well proved that the corona is an effect of
perspective, due to the apparent convergence of the parallel rays
situated in the magnetic meridian; so that each observer sees his own
aurora borealis, as each sees his own rainbow. The aspect of the
phenomenon depends also upon the positions of the observers. The seat
of the aurora borealis is in the upper regions of the atmosphere;
though sometimes it appears to be produced in the less elevated regions
where the clouds are formed. This, at least, is what follows from some
observations, especially from those of Captain Franklin, who saw an
aurora borealis the light of which appeared to him to illuminate the
lower surface of a stratum of clouds; whilst some twenty-five miles
farther on, Mr. Kendal, who had watched the whole of the night without
losing sight of the sky for a single moment, did not perceive any trace
of light. Captain Parry saw an aurora borealis display itself against
the side of a mountain; and we are assured that a luminous ring has
sometimes been perceived upon the very surface of the sea, around the
magnetic pole. Lieutenant Hood and Dr. Richardson, being placed at the
distance of about forty-five miles from each other, in order to make
simultaneous observations, whence they might deduce the parallax of the
phenomenon, and consequently its height, were led to the conclusion
that the aurora borealis had not a greater elevation than five miles.
M. Liais, having had the opportunity of applying a method, which he had
devised for measuring the height of aurorae boreales, to an aurora seen
at Cherbourg Oct. 31, 1853, found that the arc of the aurora was about
two and a half miles above the ground, at its lower edge.

Various observations made by Professor Olmsted, in conjunction with
Professor Twining, of New Haven, led him, on the contrary, to fix the
elevation on different occasions at forty-two, one hundred, and one
hundred and sixty miles. He claims that it is rarely less than seventy
miles from the earth, and never more than one hundred and sixty. He
also claims that its origin is cosmical,--or, in other words, that the
earth, in revolving in its orbit, at certain periods passes through a
nebulous body, which evolves this strange light in more or less
brilliancy, as the body is larger or smaller. To support this theory,
he attempted to establish that there were fixed epochs for its display
in the highest degree of brilliancy. The length of these periods was
from sixty to seventy years, and the next appearance was to be in 1890.
The remarkable displays of August 28th and September 2d show the
fallacy of his conclusions in this respect.

Mairon and Dalton had also thought that the aurora borealis was a
cosmical, and not an atmospheric phenomenon. But M. Biot, who had
himself had an opportunity of observing the aurora in the Shetland
Isles in 1817, had already been led to recognize it as an atmospheric
phenomenon, by the consideration that the arcs and the coronae of the
aurora in no way participate in the apparent motion of the stars from
east to west,--a proof that they are drawn along by the rotation of the
earth. Hence, almost all observers have arrived at the same
conclusions; we will in particular cite MM. Lottin and Bravais, who
have observed more than a hundred and forty aurorae boreales. It is
therefore now clearly proved that the aurora borealis is not an
extra-atmospheric phenomenon. To the proofs drawn from the appearance
of the phenomenon itself we may add others deduced from certain effects
which accompany it, such as the noise of crepitation, which the
dwellers nearest to the pole affirm that they have heard when there is
the appearance of an aurora, and the sulphurous odor that accompanies
it. Finally, if the phenomena took place beyond our planet and its
atmosphere, why should they take place at the polar regions only, as
they often do?

J. S. Winn, in a letter to Dr. Franklin, dated Spithead, August 12th,
1772, says: "The observation is new, I believe, that the aurora
borealis is constantly succeeded by hard southerly or southwest winds,
attended with hazy weather and small rain. I think I am warranted from
experience in saying _constantly_, for in twenty-three instances that
have occurred since I first made the observation it has invariably
obtained; and the knowledge has been of vast service to me, as I have
got out of the Channel when other men as alert, and in faster ships,
but unapprised of this circumstance, have not only been driven back,
but with difficulty escaped shipwreck."

Colonel James Capper, the discoverer of the circular nature of storms,
remarks: "As it appears, that, on all such occasions, the current of
air comes in a direction diametrically opposite to that where the
meteor appears, it seems probable that the aurora borealis is caused by
the ascent of a considerable quantity of electric fluid in the superior
regions of the atmosphere to the north and northeast, where,
consequently, it causes a body of air near the earth to ascend, when
another current of air will rush from the the opposite point to fill up
the vacuum, and thus may produce the southerly gales which succeed the
aurora borealis."

The bark "Northern Light," arrived at Boston from Africa, was at sea on
the night of the great exhibition of the aurora borealis, the 28th of
August. The vessel was struck by lightning twice, after which the red
flames of the aurora burst upon the astonished vision of the crew. Most
of them are confident that they smelt a sulphurous odor all night.

M. de Tessan, who, in the voyage of the "Venus" around the world, had
the opportunity of seeing a very beautiful aurora australis, (southern
aurora,) which he describes with much care, also considers that this
phenomenon takes place in the atmosphere. The summit of the aurora
being in the magnetic meridian, it was elevated 14 deg. above the horizon,
and the centre of the arc was on the prolongation of the dipping
needle, the dip being about 68 deg. at the place of the observation. M. de
Tessan did not hear the noise arising from the aurora, which he
attributes to the circumstance that he was too far distant from the
place of the phenomenon; but he reports the observation of a
distinguished officer of the French navy, M. Verdier, who, on the night
of October 13th, 1819, being in the latitude of Newfoundland, had heard
very distinctly a sort of crackling or crepitation, when the vessel he
was on board was in the midst of an aurora borealis. This was also
observed in many localities during the aurora of August 28th, 1859. A
New York paper, alluding to the subject, remarks: "Many imagined that
they heard rushing sounds, as if Aeolus had let loose the winds; others
were confident that a sweeping, as if of flames, was distinctly
audible." Burns, a good observer, if ever there was one, and not likely
to be aware of any theories on the subject, alludes in his "Vision" to
a noise accompanying the aurora, as if it were of ordinary

"The cauld blue North was flashing forth
Her lights wi' hissing eerie din."

It finds confirmation also in the fact, generally admitted by the
inhabitants of the northern regions, that, when the auroras appear low,
a crackling is heard similar to that of the electric spark. The
Greenlanders think that the souls of the dead are then striking against
each other in the air. M. Ramm, Inspector of Forests in Norway, wrote
to M. Hansteen, in 1825, that he had heard the noise, which always
coincided with the appearance of the luminous jets, when, being only
ten years old, he was crossing a meadow covered with snow and
hoar-frost, near which no forests were in existence. Dr. Gisler, who
for a long time dwelt in the North of Sweden, remarks that the matter
of the aurorae boreales sometimes descends so low that it touches the
ground; at the summit of high mountains it produces upon the faces of
travellers an effect analogous to that of the wind. Dr. Gisler adds,
that he has frequently heard the noise of the aurora, and that it
resembles that of a strong wind, or the hissing that certain chemical
substances produce in the act of decomposition.

M. Necker, who has described a great number of aurorae which he
observed at the end of 1839 and at the commencement of 1840, in the
Isle of Skye, never himself heard the noise in question; but he remarks
that this noise had been very frequently heard by persons charged with
meteorological observations at the light-house of Swenburgh Head, at
the southern extremity of Shetland. M. Necker is not the only observer
who has not heard the noise; neither have MM. Lottier and Bravais, who
have observed so great a number of aurorae, ever heard it; and a great
many others are in this case. This may be due to the fact that it is
necessary to be very near to the aurora in order to hear the
crepitation in question, and also to the fact that it is possible that
it does not always take place, at least in a manner sufficiently
powerful to be heard.

We have just been pointing out, as concomitant effects of the aurora
borealis, a noise of crepitation analogous to that of distant
discharges, and a sulphurous odor similar to that which accompanies the
fall of lightning. M. Matteucci also observed at Pisa, during the
appearance of a brilliant aurora borealis, decided signs of positive
electricity in the air; but of all phenomena, those which invariably
take place at the same time as the appearance of the aurora borealis
are the magnetic effects. Magnetized needles suffer disturbances in
their normal direction which cause them to deviate generally to the
west first, afterwards to the east. These disturbances vary in
intensify, but they never fail to take place, and are manifested even
in places in which the aurora borealis is not visible. This
coincidence, proved by M. Arago without any exception, during several
years of observation, is such that the learned Frenchman was able,
without ever having been mistaken, to detect from the bottom of the
cellars of the observatory of Paris the appearance of an aurora
borealis. M. Matteucci had the opportunity of observing this magnetic
influence under a new and remarkable form. He saw, during the
appearance of the aurora borealis of November 17, 1848, the soft iron
armatures employed in the electric telegraph between Florence and Pisa
remain attached to their electro-magnets, as if the latter were
powerfully magnetized, without, however, the apparatus being in action,
and without the currents in the battery being set in action. This
singular effect ceases with the aurora, and the telegraph, as well as
the batteries, could operate anew, without having suffered any
alteration. Mr. Highton also observed in England a very decided action
of the aurora borealis, November 17, 1848. The magnetized needle was
always driven toward the same side, even with much force. But it is in
our own country that the action of the aurora upon the telegraph-wires
has been the most remarkable.

My attention was first called in 1847 to the probability of the
aurora's producing an effect upon the wires; but, although having an
excellent opportunity to observe such an effect, I was not fortunate
enough to do so until the winter of 1850, and then, owing to the feeble
displays of the aurora, only to a limited extent. In September, 1851,
however, there was a remarkable aurora, which took complete possession
of all the telegraph-lines in New England and prevented any business
from being transacted during its continuance. The following winter
there was another remarkable display, which occurred on the 19th of
February, 1852. It was exceedingly brilliant throughout the northern
portion of our continent. I extract the following account of its
effects upon the wires from my journal of that date. I should premise,
that the system of telegraphing used upon the wires, during the
observation of February, 1852, was Bain's chemical. No batteries were
kept constantly upon the line, as in the Morse and other magnetic
systems. The main wire was connected directly with the chemically
prepared paper on the disc, so that any atmospheric currents were
recorded upon the disc with the greatest accuracy. Our usual battery
current, decomposing the salts in the paper, and uniting with the iron
point of the pen wire, left a light blue mark on the white paper, or,
if the current were strong, a dark one,--the color of the mark
depending upon the quantity of the current upon the wire.

"_Thursday, February 19, 1852_.

"Towards evening a heavy blue line appeared upon the paper, which
gradually increased in size for the space of half a minute, when a
flame of fire succeeded to the blue line, of sufficient intensity to
burn through a dozen thicknesses of the moistened paper. The current
then subsided as gradually as it, had come on, until it entirely
ceased, and was then succeeded by a negative current (which bleaches,
instead of coloring, the paper). This gradually increased, in the same
manner as the positive current, until it also, in turn, produced its
flame of fire, and burned through many thicknesses of the prepared
paper; it then subsided, again to be followed by the positive current.
This state of things continued during the entire evening, and
effectually prevented any business being done over the wires."

* * * * *

Never, however, since the establishment of the telegraphic system in
this country, have the wires been so greatly affected by the aurora as
upon Sunday night, the 28th of August, 1859. Throughout the entire
northern portion of the United States and Canada, the lines were
rendered useless for all business purposes through its action. So
strongly was the atmosphere charged with the electric fluid, that lines
or circuits of only twelve miles in length were so seriously affected
by it as to render operation difficult, and, at times, impossible.

The effects of this magnetic storm were apparent upon the wires during
a considerable portion of Saturday evening, and during the whole of the
next day. At 6, P.M., the line between Boston and New Bedford (sixty
miles in length) could be worked only at intervals, although, of
course, no signs of the aurora were apparent to the eye at that hour.
The same was true of the wires running eastward through the State of
Maine, as well as those to the north.

The wire between Boston and Fall River had no battery upon it Sunday,
and yet there was an artificial current upon it, which increased and
decreased in intensity, producing upon the electromagnets in the
offices the same effect as would be produced by constantly opening and
closing the circuit at intervals of half a minute. This current, which
came from the aurora, was strong enough to have worked the line,
although not sufficiently steady for regular use.

The current from the aurora borealis comes in waves,--light at first,
then stronger, until we have, frequently, a strength of current equal
to that produced by a battery of two hundred Grove cups. The waves
occupy about fifteen seconds each, ordinarily, but I have known them to
last a full minute; though this is rare. As soon as one wave passes,
another, of the reverse polarity, always succeeds. I have never known
this to fail, and it may be set down as an invariable rule. When the
poles of the aurora are in unison with the poles of the current upon
the line, its effect is to increase the current; but when they are
opposed, the current from the battery is neutralized,--null. These
effects were observed at times during Saturday, Saturday evening, and
Sunday, but were very marked during Sunday evening.

It is hardly necessary to add here, that the effect of the aurora
borealis, or magnetic storm, is totally unlike that of common or free
electricity, with which the atmosphere is charged during a
thunderstorm. The electricity evolved during a thunder-storm, as soon
as it reaches a conductor, explodes with a spark, and becomes at once
dissipated. The other, on the contrary, is of very low tension, remains
upon the wires sometimes half a minute, produces magnetism, decomposes
chemicals, deflects the needle, and is capable of being used for
telegraphic purposes, although, of course, imperfectly.

Mr. 0.S. Wood, Superintendent of the Canadian telegraph-lines,
says:--"I never, in my experience of fifteen years in the working of
telegraph-lines, witnessed anything like the extraordinary effect of
the aurora borealis, between Quebec and Father Point, last night. The
line was in most perfect order, and well-skilled operators worked
incessantly from eight o'clock last evening till one o'clock this
morning, to get over, in even a tolerably intelligible form, about four
hundred words of the steamer "Indian's" report for the press; but at
the latter hour, so completely were the wires under the influence of
the aurora borealis, that it was found utterly impossible to
communicate between the telegraph-stations, and the line was closed for
the night."

We have seen from the foregoing examples that the aurora borealis
produces remarkable effects upon the telegraph-lines during its entire
manifestation. We have, however, to record yet more wonderful effects
of the aurora upon the wires, namely, _the use of the auroral current
for transmitting and receiving telegraphic dispatches_. This almost
incredible feat was accomplished in the forenoon of September 2,
between the hours of half past eight and eleven o'clock, on the wires
of the American Telegraph Company between Boston and Portland, and upon
the wires of the Old Colony and Fall River Railroad Company between
South Braintree and Fall River.

The auroral influence was observed upon all the lines running out of
the office in Boston, at the hour of commencing business, (eight
o'clock, A. M.,) and it continued so strong up to half past eight as to
prevent any business being done; the ordinary current upon the wires
being at times neutralized by the magnetism of the aurora, and at other
times so greatly augmented as to render operations impracticable. At
this juncture it was suggested that the batteries should be cut off,
and the wires simply connected with the earth.

It is proper to remark here, that the current from the aurora coming in
waves of greater or less intensity, there are times, both while the
wave is approaching and while it is receding, when the instruments are
enabled to work; but the time, varying according to the rapidity of the
vibrations of the auroral bands, is only from one quarter of a minute
to one minute in duration. Therefore, whatever business is done upon
the wires during these displays has to be accomplished in brief
intervals of from quarter to half a minute in duration.

During one of these intervals, the Boston operator said to the one at

"Please cut off your battery, and let us see if we cannot work with the
auroral current alone."

The Portland operator replied,--

"I will do so. Will you do the same?"

"I have already done so," was the answer. "We are working with the aid
of the aurora alone. How do you receive my writing?"

"Very well indeed," responds the operator at Portland; "much better
than when the batteries were on; the current is steadier and more
reliable. Suppose we continue to work so until the aurora subsides?"

"Agreed," replied the Boston operator. "Are you ready for business?"

"Yes; go ahead," was the answer.

The Boston operator then commenced sending private dispatches, which he
was able to do much more satisfactorily than when the batteries were
on, although, of course, not so well as he could have done with his own
batteries without celestial assistance.

The line was worked in this manner more than two hours, when, the
aurora having subsided, the batteries were resumed. While this
remarkable phenomenon was taking place upon the wires between Boston
and Portland, the operator at South Braintree informed me that he was
working the wire between that station and Fall River--a distance of
about forty miles--with the current from the aurora alone. He continued
to do so for some time, the line working comparatively well. Since then
I have visited Fall River, and have the following account from the
intelligent operator in the railroad office at that place. The office
at the station is about half a mile from the regular office in the
village. The battery is kept at the latter place, but the operator at
the station is provided with a switch by which he can throw the battery
off the line and put the wire in connection with the earth at pleasure.
The battery at the other terminus of the line is at Boston; but the
operator at South Braintree is furnished with a similar switch, which
enables him to dispense with its use at pleasure. There are no
intermediate batteries; consequently, if the Fall River operator put
his end of the wire in connection with the earth, and the South
Braintree operator do the same, the line is without battery, and of
course without an electrical current. Such was the state of the line on
the 2d of September last, when for more than an hour they held
communication over the wire with the aid of the celestial batteries

This seems almost too wonderful for belief, and yet the proof is
incontestable. However, the fact being established that the currents
from the aurora borealis do have a direct effect upon the
telegraph-wires, and that the currents are of both kinds, positive and
negative,--as I have shown in my remarks upon the aurora of 1852, which
sometimes left a dark line upon the prepared paper, and at other times
bleached it,--it is a natural consequence that the wires should work
better without batteries than with them, whenever a current from the
aurora has sufficient intensity to neutralize the current from the

I will try to make myself clear upon this point. It makes no
difference, in working the Morse, or any other system of _magnetic_
telegraph, whether we have the positive or the negative pole to the
line; but, whichever way we point, the same direction must be continued
with all additional batteries we put upon the line. Now if we put a
battery upon the line at Boston, of, say, twenty-five cells, and point
the positive pole eastward, and the same number of cells at Portland,
pointing the positive pole westward, the current will be null, that is
to say, each will neutralize the other. Now the aurora, in presenting
its positive pole, we will say, increases the current upon the line
beyond the power of the magnet-keeper-spring to control it, and thus
prevents the line from working, by surfeiting it with the electric
current; until, presently, the wave recedes and is followed by a
negative current which neutralizes the battery current, and prevents
the line from working for want of power. It is plain, therefore, that,
if the batteries be taken off, the positive current of the aurora
cannot increase nor the negative decrease the working state of the line
to the same extent as when the batteries are connected; but that,
whichever pole is presented, the magnetism can be made use of by the
operator for the ordinary duties of the line.

At Springfield, a gentleman who observed the needle of the compass,
during the auroral display of August 28th, noticed that it was
deflected first to the west, and then to the east, while the waves of
the aurora were in motion. The electrotype plates at the office of the
"Republican" at that place were so seriously affected by the aurora,
that they could not be printed from during the continuance of the

The aurora borealis of August 28th was surpassingly brilliant not only
in the northern portion of this continent, but also as far south as the
equator,--as well as in Cuba, Jamaica, California, and the greater
portion of Europe. The London newspapers of the 29th contain glowing
descriptions of it. A California journal says:--"During the last ten
years the aurora borealis was never seen in California except on very
rare occasions, and then the light was very faint or barely visible;
but on the 28th ult., it appeared in wonderful splendor,--the whole
northern part of the sky being of a bright crimson; and the same
phenomenon, with equal magnificence, was repeated on the night of the
first instant."

In Jamaica the aurora borealis was witnessed for the first time,
perhaps, since the discovery of this island by Columbus. So rare is the
phenomenon in those latitudes, that it was taken for the glare of a
fire, and was associated with the recent riots.

Mr. E.B. Elliot of Boston, in an interesting article upon the recent
aurora, points out the simultaneous occurrence of the auroral display
of February 19th, 1852, with the eruption of Mauna Loa,--the largest
volcano in the world, situated on Hawaii, (one of the Sandwich Island
group,)--on the 20th of February; on which occasion, the side of the
mountain gave way about two-thirds of the distance from the base,
giving passage to a magnificent stream of lava, five hundred feet deep
and seven hundred broad.

Again, on the 17th of December, 1857, between the hours of one and four
in the morning, there occurred an aurora of unwonted magnificence. The
first steamer arriving from Europe after that date brought the
following intelligence, which is taken from one of the journals of the
day:--"An earthquake took place on the night of the 17th, throughout
the whole kingdom of Naples, but its effects were most severe in the
towns of Salerno, Potenza, and Nola. At Salerno, the walls of the
houses were rent from top to bottom. Numerous villages were half

Were these coincidences of extraordinary auroras with extraordinary
commotions in the physical condition of our globe merely accidental? or
are these phenomena due to a common cause? The latter supposition is
not improbable, but the question can be fully settled only by further

Mr. Meriam, "the sage of Brooklyn," as the daily journals denominate
him, considers the aurora as the result of earthquakes or volcanic
eruptions. He also says:--"The auroral light sometimes is composed of
threads, like the silken warp of a web; these sometimes become broken
and fall to the earth, and possess exquisite softness and a silvery
lustre, and I denominate them the products of the silkery of the skies.
_I once obtained a small piece, which I preserved._"

It is due to Mr. Meriam, as well as to the scientific world, to say,
that he stands alone in his convictions with regard to the aurora, both
in respect of the cause and the effect of the phenomenon.

Having thus illustrated the effects of the aurora, let us now return to
the discussion of its causes.

The intimate and constant connection between the phenomena of the
aurora borealis and terrestrial magnetism led Humboldt to class under
the head of Magnetic Storms all disturbances in the equilibrium of the
earth's magnetic forces. The presence of such storms is indicated by
the oscillations of the magnetized needle, the disturbance of the
currents upon the telegraph-wires, and the appearance of the aurora, of
which these oscillations and disturbances are, as it were, the
forerunners, and which itself puts an end to the storm,--as in electric
storms the phenomenon of lightning announces that, the electrical
equilibrium, temporarily disturbed, is now restored.

The atmosphere is constantly charged with positive
electricity,--electricity furnished by the vapors that rise from the
sea, especially in tropical regions,--and, on the other hand, the earth
is negatively electrized. The recomposition or neutralization of the
two opposite electricities of the atmosphere and of the terrestrial
globe is brought about by means of the moisture with which the lower
strata of the air are more or less charged. But it is especially in the
polar regions, where the eternal ice that reigns there constantly
condenses the aqueous vapors under the form of haze, that this
recomposition must be brought about; the more so, as the positive
vapors are carried thither and accumulated by the tropical current,
which, setting out from the equatorial regions, where it occupies the
most elevated regions of the atmosphere, descends as it advances
towards the higher latitudes, until it comes in contact with the earth
in the neighborhood of the poles. It is there, then, chiefly, that the
equilibrium between the positive electricity of the vapors and the
negative electricity of the earth must be accomplished by means of a
discharge, which, when of sufficient intensity, will be accompanied
with light, if, as is almost always the case near the poles, and
sometimes in the higher parts of the atmosphere, it take place among
those extremely small icy particles which constitute the hazes and the
very elevated clouds.

There can be no doubt that the occurrence of the phenomenon is
materially dependent on the presence in the atmosphere of these
particles of ice, forming a kind of thin haze, which, becoming luminous
by the transmission of electricity, must appear simply as an
illuminated surface of greater or less extent, and more or less cut up.
The phenomenon actually takes place in this manner in the parts of the
atmosphere that are the most distant from the earth. We perceive what
are termed auroral plates of a purple or reddish-violet color, more or
less extended, according as this species of veil, formed by icy
particles, extends to a greater or less distance from the poles. The
tenuity of this veil is such that it admits of our seeing the stars
through the auroral plates. Of its existence, independently of indirect
proofs, we have a direct demonstration in the observation of MM. Bixio
and Baral, who, being raised in a balloon to a great height, found
themselves, on a sudden, although the sky was entirely serene and the
atmosphere cloudless, in the midst of a perfectly transparent veil,
formed by a multitude of little icy needles, so fine that they were
scarcely visible.

If we place the pole of an electro-magnet over the jets of electric
light that are made to converge in extremely rarefied air, we shall see
that the electric light, instead of coming out indifferently from all
points of the upper surface, as had taken place before the
magnetization, comes out from the points of the circumference only of
this surface, so as to form around it a continuous luminous ring. This
ring possesses a movement of rotation around the magnetized cylinder,
sometimes in one direction, sometimes in another, according to the
direction of the discharge and of the magnetization. Finally, some more
brilliant jets seem to come out from this luminous circumference
without being confounded with the rest of the group. Now the magnetic
pole exercises over the luminous haze which we have mentioned as always
present during an aurora precisely the same action which the pole of
the electro-magnet exercises in the experiment just described; and what
takes place on the small scale of the experiment is precisely what
takes place on the large scale of the phenomenon of the aurora

The arc of the aurora borealis is a portion of a luminous ring, the
different points of which are sensibly at equal distances from the
earth, and which centres upon the boreal magnetic pole, so as to cut at
right angles all the magnetic meridians that converge towards this
pole. Such a ring, seen by an observer placed at the surface of the
earth, evidently presents to him the known arc of the aurora; and its
_apparent_ summit is always necessarily situated in the magnetic
meridian of the place.

The diameter of the luminous ring is greater in proportion as the
magnetic pole is more distant from the surface of the earth, since this
pole must be situated upon the intersection of the plane of the ring
with the axis of the terrestrial globe; if we could determine
rigorously the position of the aurora borealis, we should then have the
means of knowing exactly that of the pole itself.

Each observer sees the summit of the auroral arc at his magnetic
meridian; it is, therefore, only those who are on the same magnetic
meridian who see the same summit, and who are able by simultaneous
observations to take its height.

If the summit of the arc pass beyond the zenith of the observer, the
latter is surrounded by the matter of the aurora borealis. This matter
is nothing else than aqueous vapors traversed by the discharges, and
which are in general luminous only at a certain height from the ground,
either because the air is there more rarefied, or because they are
themselves congealed, and more capable, consequently, of liberating
their electric light. Then it is, that, from being nearer to the spot
where the phenomenon is taking place, the observer hears the
crepitation, or whizzing, of which we have spoken, especially if he be
in an open country and in a quiet place. But if the arc do not attain
to his zenith, he is situated beyond the region in which the meeting of
the electric currents takes place; he sees only an arc a little more
elevated to the north or the south, according as he is situated in one
hemisphere or the other; and he hears no noise, on account of his too
great distance. The crepitation is the result of the action of a
powerful magnetic pole upon luminous electric jets in its immediate
neighborhood. With regard to the sulphurous odor which some observers
have perceived, it arises, as does that which accompanies the fall of
lightning, from the conversion into ozone of the oxygen of the air, by
the passage of electric discharges.

Gisler says, that on the high mountains of Sweden the traveller is
sometimes suddenly enveloped in a very transparent fog, of a
whitish-gray color inclining a little to green, which rises from the
ground, and is transformed into an aurora borealis. The cirro-cumulus
and the hazes become luminous when they are traversed by sufficiently
energetic discharges of electricity, and when the light of day is no
longer present to overcome their more feeble light. Dr. Usher describes
an aurora borealis seen in the open day, at noon, May 24, 1778.

MM. Cornulier and Verdier are convinced, after carefully studying the
subject, that there are almost always aurorae boreales in the high
polar latitudes, and that their brilliancy alone is variable. This
conviction is in accordance with the very careful observations which
have now been made for four years in the northern hemisphere. It
appears, as the result of these, that the aurora borealis is visible
almost every clear night, but it does not show itself at all the
stations at the same time. From October to March there is scarcely a
night in which it may not be seen; but it is in February that it is
most brilliant. In 1850 it was observed two hundred and sixty-one
nights, and during 1851 two hundred and seven. The proportion of nights
in which the aurora is seen is much greater the nearer we are to the
magnetic pole.

De la Rive, from whose admirable treatise upon Electricity we have
borrowed our general views, and whose theory we have attempted to
illustrate in this paper, concludes that the aurora borealis is a
phenomenon which has its seat in the atmosphere, and consists in the
production of a luminous ring of greater or less diameter, having for
its centre the magnetic pole. Experiment shows, as we have seen, that,
on bringing about in rarefied air the reunion of the two electricities,
near the pole of a powerful artificial magnet, a small luminous ring is
produced, similar to that which constitutes the aurora borealis, and
animated by a similar movement of rotation. The aurora borealis would
be due, consequently, to electric discharges taking place in the polar
regions between the positive electricity of the atmosphere and the
negative electricity of the earth. These electric discharges taking
place constantly, but with intensities varying according to the state
of the atmosphere, the aurora borealis should be a daily phenomenon,
more or less intense, consequently visible at greater or less
distances, but only when the nights are clear,--which is perfectly in
accordance with observation.

The aurora australis presents precisely the same phenomena as the
aurora borealis, and is explained, consequently, in the same manner.



A young fellow, born of good stock, in one of the more thoroughly
civilized portions of these United States of America, bred in good
principles, inheriting a social position which makes him at his ease
everywhere, means sufficient to educate him thoroughly without taking
away the stimulus for vigorous exertion, and with a good opening in
some honorable path of labor, is the finest sight our private satellite
has had the opportunity of inspecting on the planet to which she
belongs. In some respects it was better to be a young Greek. If we may
trust the old marbles,--my friend with his arm stretched over my head,
above there, (in plaster of Paris,) or the discobolus, whom one may see
at the principal sculpture gallery of this metropolis,--those Greek
young men were of supreme beauty. Their close curls, their elegantly
set heads, column-like necks, straight noses, short, curled lips, firm
chins, deep chests, light flanks, large muscles, small joints, were
finer than anything we ever see. It may well be questioned whether the
human shape will ever present itself again in a race of such perfect
symmetry. But the life of the youthful Greek was local, not planetary,
like that of the young American. He had a string of legends, in place
of our Gospels. He had no printed books, no newspaper, no steam
caravans, no forks, no soap, none of the thousand cheap conveniences
which have become matters of necessity to our modern civilization.
Above all things, if he aspired to know as well as to enjoy, he found
knowledge not diffused everywhere about him, so that a day's labor
would buy him more wisdom than a year could master, but held in private
hands, hoarded in precious manuscripts, to be sought for only as gold
is sought in narrow fissures and in the bed of brawling streams. Never,
since man came into this atmosphere of oxygen and azote, was there
anything like the condition of the young American of the nineteenth
century. Having in possession or in prospect the best part of half a
world, with all its climates and soils to choose from; equipped with
wings of fire and smoke that fly with him day and night, so that he
counts his journey not in miles, but in degrees, and sees the seasons
change as the wild fowl sees them in his annual flights; with huge
leviathans always ready to take him on their broad backs and push
behind them with their pectoral or caudal fins the waters that seam the
continent or separate the hemispheres; heir of all old civilizations,
founder of that new one which, if all the prophecies of the human heart
are not lies, is to be the noblest, as it is the last; isolated in
space from the races that are governed by dynasties whose divine right
grows out of human wrong, yet knit into the most absolute solidarity
with mankind of all times and places by the one great thought he
inherits as his national birthright; free to form and express his
opinions on almost every subject, and assured that he will soon acquire
the last franchise which men withhold from man,--that of stating the
laws of his spiritual being and the beliefs he accepts without
hindrance except from clearer views of truth,--he seems to want nothing
for a large, wholesome, noble, beneficent life. In fact, the chief
danger is that he will think the whole planet is made for him, and
forget that there are some possibilities left in the _debris_ of the
old-world civilization which deserve a certain respectful consideration
at his hands.

The combing and clipping of this shaggy wild continent are in some
measure done for him by those who have gone before. Society has
subdivided itself enough to have a place for every form of talent.
Thus, if a man show the least sign of ability as a sculptor or a
painter, for instance, he finds the means of education and a demand for
his services. Even a man who knows nothing but science will be provided
for, if he does not think it necessary to hang about his birthplace all
his days,--which is a most un-American weakness. The apron-strings of
an American mother are made of India-rubber. Her boy belongs where he
is wanted; and that young Marylander of ours spoke for all our young
men, when he said that his home was wherever the stars and stripes blew
over his head.

And that leads me to say a few words of this young gentleman, who made
that audacious movement lately which I chronicled in my last
record,--jumping over the seats of I don't know how many boarders to
put himself in the place which the Little Gentleman's absence had left
vacant at the side of Iris. When a young man is found habitually at the
side of any one given young lady,--when he lingers where she stays, and
hastens when she leaves,--when his eyes follow her as she moves, and
rest upon her when she is still,--when he begins to grow a little
timid, he who was so bold, and a little pensive, he who was so gay,
whenever accident finds them alone,--when he thinks very often of the
given young lady, and names her very seldom,----

What do you say about it, my charming young expert in that sweet
science in which, perhaps, a long experience is not the first of

----But we don't know anything about this young man, except that he is
good-looking, and somewhat high-spirited, and strong-limbed, and has a
generous style of nature,--all very promising, but by no means proving
that he is a proper lover for Iris, whose heart we turned inside out
when we opened that sealed book of hers.

Ah, my dear young friend! When your mamma--then, if you will believe
it, a very slight young lady, with very pretty hair and figure--came
and told _her_ mamma that your papa had--had--asked----No, no, no! she
couldn't say it; but her mother--oh, the depth of maternal
sagacity!--guessed it all without another word!--When your mother, I
say, came and told her mother she was _engaged_, and your grandmother
told your grandfather, how much did they know of the intimate nature of
the young gentleman to whom she had pledged her existence? I will not
be so hard as to ask how much your respected mamma knew at that time of
the intimate nature of your respected papa, though, if we should
compare a young girl's _man-as-she-thinks-him_ with a forty-summered
matron's _man-as-she-finds-him_, I have my doubts as to whether the
second would be a fac-simile of the first in most cases.

The idea that in this world each young person is to wait until he or
she finds that precise counterpart who alone of all creation was meant
for him or her, and then fall instantly in love with it, is pretty
enough, only it is not Nature's way. It is not at all essential that
all pairs of human beings should be, as we sometimes say of particular
couples, "born for each other." Sometimes a man or a woman is made a
great deal better and happier in the end for having had to conquer the
faults of the one beloved, and make the fitness not found at first, by
gradual assimilation. There is a class of good women who have no right
to marry perfectly good men, because they have the power of saving
those who would go to ruin but for the guiding providence of a good
wife. I have known many such cases. It is the most momentous question a
woman is ever called upon to decide, whether the faults of the man she
loves are beyond remedy and will drag her down, or whether she is
competent to be his earthly redeemer and lift him to her own level.

A person of _genius_ should marry a person of _character_. Genius does
not herd with genius. The musk-deer and the civet-cat are never found
in company. They don't care for strange scents,--they like plain
animals better than perfumed ones. Nay, if you will have the kindness
to notice, Nature has not gifted my lady musk-deer with the personal
peculiarity by which her lord is so widely known.

Now when genius allies itself with character, the world is very apt to
think character has the best of the bargain. A brilliant woman marries
a plain, manly fellow, with a simple intellectual mechanism; we have
all seen such cases. The world often stares a good deal and wonders.
She should have taken that other, with a far more complex mental
machinery. She might have had a watch with the philosophical
compensation-balance, with the metaphysical index which can split a
second into tenths, with the musical chime which can turn every quarter
of an hour into melody. She has chosen a plain one, that keeps good
time, and that is all.

Let her alone! She knows what she is about. Genius has an infinitely
deeper reverence for character than character can have for genius. To
be sure, genius gets the world's praise, because its work is a tangible
product, to be bought, or had for nothing. It bribes the common voice
to praise it by presents of speeches, poems, statues, pictures, or
whatever it can please with. Character evolves its best products for
home consumption; but, mind you, it takes a deal more to feed a family
for thirty years than to make a holiday feast for our neighbors once or
twice in our lives. You talk of the fire of genius. Many a blessed
woman, who dies unsung and unremembered, has given out more of the real
vital heat that keeps the life in human souls, without a spark flitting
through her humble chimney to tell the world about it, than would set a
dozen theories smoking, or a hundred odes simmering, in the brains of
so many men of genius. It is in _latent caloric_, if I may borrow a
philosophical expression, that many of the noblest hearts give out the
life that warms them. Cornelia's lips grow white, and her pulse hardly
warms her thin fingers,--but she has melted all the ice out of the
hearts of those young Gracchi, and her lost heat is in the blood of her
youthful heroes.

We are always valuing the soul's temperature by the thermometer of
public deed or word. Yet the great sun himself, when he pours his
noonday beams upon some vast hyaline boulder, rent from the eternal
ice-quarries, and floating toward the tropics, never warms it a
fraction above the thirty-two degrees of Fahrenheit that marked the
moment when the first drop trickled down its side.

How we all like the spirting up of a fountain, seemingly against the
law that makes water everywhere slide, roll, leap, tumble headlong, to
get as low as the earth will let it! That is genius. But what is this
transient upward movement, which gives us the glitter and the rainbow,
to that unsleeping, all-present force of gravity, the same yesterday,
to-day, and forever, (if the universe be eternal,)--the great outspread
hand of God himself, forcing all things down into their places, and
keeping them there? Such, in smaller proportion, is the force of
character to the fitful movements of genius, as they are or have been
linked to each other in many a household, where one name was historic,
and the other, let, me say the nobler, unknown, save by some faint
reflected ray, borrowed from its lustrous companion.

Oftentimes, as I have lain swinging on the water, in the swell of the
Chelsea ferry-boats, in that long, sharp-pointed, black cradle in which
I love to let the great mother rock me, I have seen a tall ship glide
by against the tide, as if drawn by some invisible tow-line, with a
hundred strong arms pulling it. Her sails hung unfilled, her streamers
were drooping, she had neither side-wheel nor stern-wheel; still she
moved on, stately, in serene triumph, as if with her own life. But I
knew that on the other side of the ship, hidden beneath the great hulk
that swam so majestically, there was a little toiling steam-tug, with
heart of fire and arms of iron, that was hugging it close and dragging
it bravely on; and I knew, that, if the little steam-tug untwined her
arms and left the tall ship, it would wallow and roll about, and drift
hither and thither, and go off with the refluent tide, no man knows
whither. And so I have known more than one _genius_, high-decked,
full-freighted, wide-sailed, gay-pennoned, that, but for the bare
toiling arms, and brave, warm, beating heart of the faithful little
wife, that nestled close in his shadow, and clung to him, so that no
wind or wave could part them, and dragged him on against all the tide
of circumstance, would soon have gone down the stream and been heard of
no more.--No, I am too much a lover of genius, I sometimes think, and
too often get impatient with dull people, so that, in their weak talk,
where nothing is taken for granted, I look forward to some future
possible state of development, when a gesture passing between a
beatified human soul and an archangel shall signify as much as the
complete history of a planet, from the time when it curdled to the time
when its sun was burned out. And yet, when a strong brain is weighed
with a true heart, it seems to me like balancing a bubble against a
wedge of gold.

----It takes a very _true_ man to be a fitting companion for a woman of
genius, but not a very great one. I am not sure that she will not
embroider her ideal better on a plain ground than on one with a
brilliant pattern already worked in its texture. But as the very
essence of genius is truthfulness, contact with realities, (which are
always ideas behind shows of form or language,) nothing is so
contemptible as falsehood and pretence in its eyes. Now it is not easy
to find a perfectly true woman, and it is very hard to find a perfectly
true man. And a woman of genius, who has the sagacity to choose such a
one as her companion, shows more of the divine gift in so doing than in
her finest talk or her most brilliant work of letters or of art.

I have been a good while coming at a secret, for which I wished to
prepare you before telling it I think there is a kindly feeling growing
up between Iris and our young Marylander. Not that I suppose there is
any distinct understanding between them, but that the affinity which
has drawn him from the remote corner where he sat to the side of the
young girl is quietly bringing their two natures together. Just now she
is all given up to another; but when he no longer calls upon her daily
thoughts and cares, I warn you not to be surprised, if this bud of
friendship open like the evening primrose, with a sound as of a sudden
stolen kiss, and lo! the flower of full-blown love lies unfolded before

And now the days had come for our little friend, whose whims and
weaknesses had interested us, perhaps, as much as his better traits, to
make ready for that long journey which is easier to the cripple than to
the strong man, and on which none enters so willingly as he who has
borne the life-long load of infirmity during his earthly pilgrimage. At
this point, under most circumstances, I would close the doors and draw
the veil of privacy over the chamber where the birth which we call
death, out of life into the unknown world, is working its mystery. But
this friend of ours stood alone in the world, and, as the last act of
his life was mainly in harmony with the rest of its drama, I do not
here feel the force of the objection commonly lying against that
death-bed literature which forms the staple of a certain portion of the
press. Let me explain what I mean, so that my readers may think for
themselves a little, before they accuse me of hasty expressions.

The Roman Catholic Church has certain formulae for its dying children,
to which almost all of them attach the greatest importance. There is
hardly a criminal so abandoned that he is not anxious to receive the
"consolations of religion" in his last hours. Even if he be senseless,
but still living, I think that the form is gone through with, just as
baptism is administered to the unconscious new-born child. Now we do
not quarrel with these forms. We look with reverence and affection upon
all symbols which give peace and comfort to our fellow-creatures. But
the value of the new-born child's passive consent to the ceremony is
null, as testimony to the truth of a doctrine. The automatic closing of
a dying man's lips on the consecrated wafer proves nothing in favor of
the Real Presence, or any other doctrine. And, speaking generally, the
evidence of dying men in favor of any belief is to be received with
great caution.

They commonly tell the truth about their present feelings, no doubt. A
dying man's deposition about anything _he knows_ is good evidence. But
it is of much less consequence what a man thinks and says when he is
changed by pain, weakness, apprehension, than what he thinks when he is
truly and wholly himself. Most murderers die in a very pious frame of
mind, expecting to go to glory at once; yet no man believes he shall
meet a larger average of pirates and cutthroats in the streets of the
New Jerusalem than of honest folks that died in their beds.

Unfortunately, there has been a very great tendency to make capital of
various kinds out of dying men's speeches. The lies that have been put
into their mouths for this purpose are endless. The prime minister,
whose last breath was spent in scolding his nurse, dies with a
magnificent apothegm on his lips,--manufactured by a reporter. Addison
gets up a _tableau_ and utters an admirable sentiment,--or somebody
makes the posthumous dying epigram for him. The incoherent babble of
green fields is translated into the language of stately sentiment. One
would think, all that dying men had to do was to say the prettiest
thing they could,--to make their rhetorical point, and then bow
themselves politely out of the world.

Worse than this is the torturing of dying people to get their evidence
in favor of this or that favorite belief. The camp-followers of
proselyting sects have come in at the close of every life where they
could get in, to strip the languishing soul of its thoughts, and carry
them off as spoils. The Roman Catholic or other priest who insists on
the reception of his formula means kindly, we trust, and very commonly
succeeds in getting the acquiescence of the subject of his spiritual
surgery. But do not let us take the testimony of people who are in the
worst condition to form opinions as evidence of the truth or falsehood
of that which they accept. A lame man's opinion of dancing is not good
for much. A poor fellow who can neither eat nor drink, who is sleepless
and full of pains, whose flesh has wasted from him, whose blood is like
water, who is gasping for breath, is not in a condition to judge fairly
of human life, which in all its main adjustments is intended for men in
a normal, healthy condition. It is a remark I have heard from the wise
Patriarch of the Medical Profession among us, that the moral condition
of patients with disease _above_ the great breathing-muscle, the
diaphragm, is much more hopeful than that of patients with disease
_below_ it, in the digestive organs. Many an honest ignorant man has
given us pathology when he thought he was giving us psychology. With
this preliminary caution I shall proceed to the story of the Little
Gentleman's leaving us.

When the divinity-student found that our fellow-boarder was not likely
to remain long with us, he, being a young man of tender conscience and
kindly nature, was not a little exercised on his behalf. It was
undeniable that on several occasions the Little Gentleman had expressed
himself with a good deal of freedom on a class of subjects which,
according to the divinity-student, he had no right to form an opinion
upon. He therefore considered his future welfare in jeopardy.

The Muggletonian sect have a very odd way of dealing with people. If I,
the Professor, will only give in to the Muggletonian doctrine, there
shall be no question through all that persuasion that I am competent to
judge of that doctrine; nay, I shall be quoted as evidence of its
truth, while I live, and cited, after I am dead, as testimony in its
behalf; but if I utter any ever so slight Anti-Muggletonian sentiment,
then I become _incompetent to form any opinion on the matter_. This,
you cannot fail to observe, is exactly the way the pseudo-sciences go
to work, as explained in my Lecture on Phrenology. Now I hold that he
whose testimony would be accepted in behalf of the Muggletonian
doctrine has a right to be heard against it. Whoso offers me any
article of belief for my signature implies that I am competent to form
an opinion upon it; and if my positive testimony in its favor is of any
value, then my negative testimony against it is also of value.

I thought my young friend's attitude was a little too much like that of
the Muggletonians. I also remarked a singular timidity on his part lest
somebody should "unsettle" somebody's faith,--as if faith did not
require exercise as much as any other living thing, and were not all
the better for a shaking up now and then. I don't mean that it would be
fair to bother Bridget, the wild Irish girl, or Joice Heth, the
centenarian, or any other intellectual non-combatant; but all persons
who proclaim a belief which passes judgment on their neighbors must be
ready to have it "unsettled," that is, questioned at all times and by
anybody,--just as one who sets up bars across a thoroughfare must
expect to have them taken down by every one who wants to pass, if he is
strong enough.

Besides, to think of trying to waterproof the American mind against the
questions that Heaven rains down upon it shows a misapprehension of our
new conditions. If to question everything be unlawful and dangerous, we
had better undeclare our independence at once; for what the Declaration
means is the right to question everything, even the truth of its own
fundamental proposition.

The old-world order of things is an arrangement of locks and canals,
where everything depends on keeping the gates shut, and so holding the
upper waters at their level; but the system under which the young
republican American is born trusts the whole unimpeded tide of life to
the great elemental influences, as the vast rivers of the continent
settle their own level in obedience to the laws that govern the planet
and the spheres that surround it.

The divinity-student was not quite up to the idea of the commonwealth,
as our young friend the Marylander, for instance, understood it. He
could not get rid of that notion of private property in truth, with the
right to fence it in, and put up a sign-board, thus:--


He took the young Marylander to task for going to the Church of the
Galileans, where he had several times accompanied Iris of late.

I am a Churchman,--the young man said,--by education and habit. I love
my old Church for many reasons, but most of all because I think it has
educated me out of its own forms into the spirit of its highest
teachings. I think I belong to the "Broad Church," if any of you can
tell what that means.

I had the rashness to attempt to answer the question myself.--Some say
the Broad Church means the collective mass of good people of all
denominations. Others say that such a definition is nonsense; that a
church is an organization, and the scattered good folks are no
organization at all. They think that men will eventually come together
on the basis of one or two or more common articles of belief, and form
a great unity. Do they see what this amounts to? It means an equal
division of intellect! It is mental agrarianism! a thing that never was
and never will be, until national and individual idiosyncrasies have
ceased to exist. The man of thirty-nine beliefs holds the man of one
belief a pauper; he is not going to give up thirty-eight of them for
the sake of fraternizing with the other in the temple which bears on
its front, "_Deo erexit Voltaire_." A church is a garden, I have heard
it said, and the illustration was neatly handled. Yes, and there is no
such thing as a _broad_ garden. It must be fenced in, and whatever is
fenced in is narrow. You cannot have arctic and tropical plants growing
together in it, except by the forcing system, which is a mighty narrow
piece of business. You can't make a village or a parish or a family
think alike, yet you suppose that you can make a world pinch its
beliefs or pad them to a single pattern! Why, the very life of an
ecclesiastical organization is a life of _induction_, a state of
perpetually disturbed equilibrium kept up by another charged body in
the neighborhood. If the two bodies touch and share their respective
charges, down goes the index of the electrometer!

Do you know that every man has a religious belief peculiar to himself?
Smith is always a Smithite. He takes in exactly Smith's-worth of
knowledge, Smith's-worth of truth, of beauty, of divinity. And Brown
has from time immemorial been trying to burn him, to excommunicate him,
to anonymous-article him, because he did not take in Brown's-worth of
knowledge, truth, beauty, divinity. He cannot do it, any more than a
pint-pot can hold a quart, or a quart-pot be filled by a pint. Iron is
essentially the same everywhere and always; but the sulphate of iron is
never the same as the carbonate of iron. Truth is invariable; but the
_Smithate_ of truth must always differ from the _Brownate_ of truth.

The wider the intellect, the larger and simpler the expressions in
which its knowledge is embodied. The inferior race, the degraded and
enslaved people, the small-minded individual, live in the details which
to larger minds and more advanced tribes of men reduce themselves to
axioms and laws. As races and individual minds must always differ just
as sulphates and carbonates do, I cannot see ground for expecting the
Broad Church to be founded on any fusion of _intellectual_ beliefs,
which of course implies that those who hold the larger number of
doctrines as essential shall come down to those who hold the smaller
number. These doctrines are to the _negative_ aristocracy what the
quarterings of their coats are to the _positive_ orders of nobility.

The Broad Church, I think, will never be based on anything that
requires the use of _language_. Freemasonry gives an idea of such a
church, and a brother is known and cared for in a strange land where no
word of his can be understood. The apostle of this church may be a deaf
mute carrying a cup of cold water to a thirsting fellow-creature. The
cup of cold water does not require to be translated for a foreigner to
understand it. I am afraid the only Broad Church possible is one that
has its creed in the heart, and not in the head,--that we shall know
its members by their fruits, and not by their words. If you say this
communion of well-doers is no church, I can only answer, that all
_organized_ bodies have their limits of size, and that, when we find a
man a hundred feet high and thirty feet broad across the shoulders, we
will look out for an organization that shall include all Christendom.

Some of us do practically recognize a Broad Church and a Narrow Church,
however. The Narrow Church may be seen in the ship's boats of humanity,
in the long boat, in the jolly boat, in the captain's gig, lying off
the poor old vessel, thanking God that _they_ are safe, and reckoning
how soon the hulk containing the mass of their fellow-creatures will go
down. The Broad Church is on board, working hard at the pumps, and very
slow to believe that the ship will be swallowed up with so many poor
people in it, fastened down under the hatches ever since it floated.

----All this, of course, was nothing but my poor notion about these
matters. I am simply an "outsider," you know; only it doesn't do very
well for a nest of Hingham boxes to talk too much about outsiders and

After this talk of ours, I think these two young people went pretty
regularly to the Church of the Galileans. Still they could not keep
away from the sweet harmonies and rhythmic litanies of Saint Polycarp
on the great Church festival-days; so that, between the two, they were
so much together, that the boarders began to make remarks, and our
landlady said to me, one day, that, though it was noon of her business,
them that had eyes couldn't help seein' that there was somethin' goin'
on between them two young people; she thought the young man was a very
likely young man, though jest what his prospecs was was unbeknown to
her; but she thought he must be doin' well, and rather guessed he would
be able to take care of a femily, if he didn't go to takin' a house;
for a gentleman and his wife could board a great deal cheaper than they
could keep house;--but then that girl was nothin' but a child, and
wouldn't think of bein' married this five year. They was good boarders,
both of 'em, paid regular, and was as pooty a couple as she ever laid
eyes on.

--To come back to what I began to speak of before,--the
divinity-student was exercised in his mind about the Little Gentleman,
and, in the kindness of his heart,--for he was a good young man,--and
in the strength of his convictions,--for he took it for granted that he
and his crowd were right, and other folks and their crowd were
wrong,--he determined to bring the Little Gentleman round to his faith
before he died, if he could. So he sent word to the sick man, that he
should be pleased to visit him and have some conversation with him; and
received for answer that he would be welcome.

The divinity-student made him a visit, therefore, and had a somewhat
remarkable conversation with him, which I shall briefly report, without
attempting to justify the positions taken by the Little Gentleman. He
found him weak, but calm. Iris sat silent by his pillow.

After the usual preliminaries, the divinity-student said, in a kind
way, that he was sorry to find him in failing health, that he felt
concerned for his soul, and was anxious to assist him in making
preparations for the great change awaiting him.

I thank you, Sir,--said the Little Gentleman;--permit me to ask you,
what makes you think I am not ready for it, Sir, and that you can do
anything to help me, Sir?

I address you only as a fellow-man,--said the divinity-student,--and
therefore a fellow-sinner.

I am _not_ a man, Sir!--said the Little Gentleman.--I was born into
this world the wreck of a man, and I shall not be judged with a race to
which I do not belong. Look at this!--he said, and held up his withered
arm.--See there!--and he pointed to his misshapen extremities.--Lay
your hand here!--and he laid his own on the region of his misplaced
heart.--I have known nothing of the life of your race. When I first
came to my consciousness, I found myself an object of pity, or a sight
to show. The first strange child I ever remember hid its face and would
not come near me. I was a broken-hearted as well as broken-bodied boy.
I grew into the emotions of ripening youth, and all that I could have
loved shrank from my presence. I became a man in years, and had nothing
in common with manhood but its longings. My life is the dying pang of a
worn-out race, and I shall go alone down into the dust, out of this
world of men and women, without ever knowing the fellowship of the one
or the love of the other. I will not die with a lie rattling in my
throat. If another state of being has anything worse in store for me, I
have had a long apprenticeship to give me strength that I may bear it.
I don't believe it, Sir! I have too much faith for that. God has not
left me wholly without comfort, even here. I love this old place where
I was born;--the heart of the world beats under the three hills of
Boston, Sir! I love this great land, with so many tall men in it, and
so many good, noble women.--His eyes turned to the silent figure by his
pillow.--I have learned to accept meekly what has been allotted to me,
but I cannot honestly say that I think my sin has been greater than my
suffering. I bear the ignorance and the evil-doing of whole generations
in my single person. I never drew a breath of air nor took a step that
was not a punishment for another's fault. I may have had many wrong
thoughts, but I cannot have done many wrong deeds,--for my cage has
been a narrow one, and I have paced it alone. I have looked through the
bars and seen the great world of men busy and happy, but I had no part
in their doings. I have known what it was to dream of the great
passions; but since my mother kissed me before she died, no woman's
lips have pressed my cheek,--nor ever will.

----The young girl's eyes glittered with a sudden film, and almost
without a thought, but with a warm human instinct that rushed up into
her face with her heart's blood, she bent over and kissed him. It was
the sacrament that washed out the memory of long years of bitterness,
and I should hold it an unworthy thought to defend her.

The Little Gentleman repaid her with the only tear any of us ever saw
him shed.

The divinity-student rose from his place, and, turning away from the
sick man, walked to the other side of the room, where he bowed his head
and was still. All the questions he had meant to ask had faded from his
memory. The tests he had prepared by which to judge of his
fellow-creature's fitness for heaven seemed to have lost their virtue.
He could trust the crippled child of sorrow to the Infinite Parent. The
kiss of the fair-haired girl had been like a sign from heaven, that
angels watched over him whom he was presuming but a moment before to
summon before the tribunal of his private judgment.

Shall I pray with you?--he said, after a pause.--A little before he
would have said, Shall I pray _for_ you?--The Christian religion, as
taught by its Founder, is full of _sentiment_. So we must not blame the
divinity-student, if he was overcome by those yearnings of human
sympathy which predominate so much more in the sermons of the Master
than in the writings of his successors, and which have made the parable
of the Prodigal Son the consolation of mankind, as it has been the
stumbling-block of all exclusive doctrines.

Pray!--said the Little Gentleman.

The divinity-student prayed, in low, tender tones, that God would look
on his servant lying helpless at the feet of his mercy; that he would
remember his long years of bondage in the flesh; that he would deal
gently with the bruised reed. Thou hast visited the sins of the fathers
upon this their child. Oh, turn away from him the penalties of his own
transgressions! Thou hast laid upon him, from infancy, the cross which
thy stronger children are called upon to take up; and now that he is
fainting under it, be Thou his stay, and do Thou succor him that is
tempted! Let his manifold infirmities come between him and Thy
judgment; in wrath remember mercy! If his eyes are not opened to all
thy truth, let thy compassion lighten the darkness that rests upon him,
even as it came through the word of thy Son to blind Bartimeus, who sat
by the wayside, begging!

Many more petitions he uttered, but all in the same subdued tone of
tenderness. In the presence of helpless suffering, and in the
fast-darkening shadow of the Destroyer, he forgot all but his Christian
humanity, and cared more about consoling his fellow-man than making a
proselyte of him.

This was the last prayer to which the Little Gentleman ever listened.
Some change was rapidly coming over him during this last hour of which
I have been, speaking. The excitement of pleading his cause before his
self-elected spiritual adviser,--the emotion which overcame him, when
the young girl obeyed the sudden impulse of her feelings and pressed
her lips to his cheek,--the thoughts that mastered him while the
divinity-student poured out his soul for him in prayer, might well
hurry on the inevitable moment. When the divinity-student had uttered
his last petition, commending him to the Father through his Son's
intercession, he turned to look upon him before leaving his chamber.
His face was changed.--There is a language of the human countenance
which we all understand without an interpreter, though the lineaments
belong to the rudest savage that ever stammered in an unknown barbaric
dialect. By the stillness of the sharpened features, by the blankness
of the tearless eyes, by the fixedness of the smileless mouth, by the
deadening tints, by the contracted brow, by the dilating nostril, we
know that the soul is soon to leave its mortal tenement, and is already
closing up its windows and putting out its fires.--Such was the aspect
of the face upon which the divinity-student looked, after the brief
silence which followed his prayer. The change had been rapid, though
not that abrupt one which is liable to happen at any moment in these
cases.--The sick man looked towards him.--Farewell,--he said.--I thank
you. Leave me alone with her.

When the divinity-student had gone, and the Little Gentleman found
himself alone with Iris, he lifted his hand to his neck, and took from
it, suspended by a slender chain, a quaint, antique-looking key,--the
same key I had once seen him holding. He gave this to her, and pointed
to a carved cabinet opposite his bed, one of those that had so
attracted my curious eyes and set me wondering as to what it might

Open it,--he said,--and light the lamp.--The young girl walked to the
cabinet and unlocked the door. A deep recess appeared, lined with black
velvet, against which stood in white relief an ivory crucifix. A silver
lamp hung over over it. She lighted the lamp and came back to the
bedside. The dying man fixed his eyes upon the figure of the dying
Saviour.--Give me your hand,--he said; and Iris placed her right hand
in his left. So they remained, until presently his eyes lost their
meaning, though they still remained vacantly fixed upon the white
image. Yet he held the young girl's hand firmly, as if it were leading
him through some deep-shadowed valley and it was all he could cling to.
But presently an involuntary muscular contraction stole over him, and
his terrible dying grasp held the poor girl as if she were wedged in an
engine of torture. She pressed her lips together and sat still. The
inexorable hand held her tighter and tighter, until she felt as if her
own slender fingers would be crushed in its gripe. It was one of the
tortures of the Inquisition she was suffering, and she could not stir
from her place. Then, in her great anguish, she, too, cast her eyes
upon that dying figure, and, looking upon its pierced hands and feet
and side and lacerated forehead, she felt that she also must suffer
uncomplaining. In the moment of her sharpest pain she did not forget
the duties of her tender office, but dried the dying man's moist
forehead with her handkerchief, even while the dews of agony were
glistening on her own. How long this lasted she never could tell.
_Time_ and _thirst_ are two things you and I talk about; but the
victims whom holy men and righteous judges used to stretch on their
engines knew better what they meant than you or I!--What is that great
bucket of water for? said the Marchioness de Brinvilliers, before she
was placed on the rack.--_For you to drink_,--said the torturer to the
little woman.--She could not think that it would take such a flood to
quench the fire in her and so keep her alive for her confession. The
torturer knew better than she.

After a time not to be counted in minutes, as the clock
measures,--without any warning, there came a swift change of his
features; his face turned white, as the waters whiten when a sudden
breath passes over their still surface; the muscles instantly relaxed,
and Iris, released at once from her care for the sufferer and from his
unconscious grasp, fell senseless, with a feeble cry,--the only
utterance of her long agony.

Perhaps you sometimes wander in through the iron gates of the Copp's
Hill burial-ground. You love to stroll round among the graves that
crowd each other in the thickly peopled soil of that breezy summit. You
love to lean on the free-stone slab which lies over the bones of the
Mathers,--to read the epitaph of stout John Clark, "despiser of little
men and sorry actions,"--to stand by the stone grave of sturdy Daniel
Malcom and look upon the splintered slab that tells the old rebel's
story,--to kneel by the triple stone that says how the three
Worthylakes, father, mother, and young daughter, died on the same day
and lie buried there; a mystery; the subject of a moving ballad, by the
late BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, as may be seen in his autobiography, which will
explain the secret of the triple gravestone; though the old philosopher
has made a mistake, unless the stone is wrong.

Not very far from that you will find a fair mound, of dimensions fit to
hold a well-grown man. I will not tell you the inscription upon the
stone which stands at its head; for I do not wish you to be _sure_ of
the resting-place of one who could not bear to think that he should be
known as a cripple among the dead, after being pointed at so long among
the living. There is one sign, it is true, by which, if you have been a
sagacious reader of these papers, you will at once know it; but I fear
you read carelessly, and must study them more diligently before you
will detect the hint to which I allude.

The Little Gentleman lies where he longed to He, among the old names
and the old bones of the old Boston people. At the foot of his
resting-place is the river, alive with the wings and antennae of its
colossal water-insects; over opposite are the great war-ships, and the
long guns, which, when they roar, shake the soil in which he lies; and
in the steeple of Christ Church, hard by, are the sweet chimes which
are the Boston boy's _Ranz des Vaches_, whose echoes follow him all the
world over.

_In Pace!_

I told you a good while ago that the Little Gentleman could not do a
better thing than to leave all his money, whatever it might be, to the
young girl who has since that established such a claim upon him. He did
not, however. A considerable bequest to one of our public institutions
keeps his name in grateful remembrance. The telescope through which he
was fond of watching the heavenly bodies, and the movements of which
had been the source of such odd fancies on my part, is now the property
of a Western College. You smile as you think of my taking it for a
fleshless human figure, when I saw its tube pointing to the sky, and
thought it was an arm under the white drapery thrown over it for
protection. So do I smile _now_; I belong to the numerous class who are
prophets after the fact, and hold my nightmares very cheap by daylight.

I have received many letters of inquiry as to the sound _resembling a
woman's voice_, which occasioned me so many perplexities. Some thought
there was no question that he had a second apartment, in which he had
made an asylum for a deranged female relative. Others were of opinion
that he was, as I once suggested, a "Bluebeard" with patriarchal
tendencies, and I have even been censured for introducing so Oriental
an element into my record of boarding-house experience.

Come in and see me, the Professor, some evening when I have nothing
else to do, and ask me to play you _Tartini's Devil's Sonata_ on that
extraordinary instrument in my possession, well known to amateurs as
one of the master-pieces of _Joseph Guarnerius_. The _vox humana_ of
the great Haerlem organ is very lifelike, and the same stop in the
organ of the Cambridge chapel might be mistaken in some of its tones
for a human voice; but I think you never heard anything come so near
the cry of a _prima donna_ as the A string and the E string of this
instrument. A single fact will illustrate the resemblance. I was
executing some _tours de force_ upon it one evening, when the policeman
of our district rang the bell sharply, and asked what was the matter in
the house. He had heard a woman's screams,--he was sure of it. I had to
make the instrument _sing_ before his eyes before he could be satisfied
that he had not heard the cries of a woman. This instrument was
bequeathed to me by the Little Gentleman. Whether it had anything to do
with the sounds I heard coming from his chamber, you can form your own
opinion; I have no other conjecture to offer. It is _not true_ that a
second apartment with a secret entrance was found; and the story of the
veiled lady is the invention of one of the Reporters.

Bridget, the housemaid, always insisted that he died a Catholic. She
had seen the crucifix, and believed that he prayed on his knees before
it. The last circumstance is very probably true; indeed, there was a
spot worn on the carpet just before this cabinet which might be thus
accounted for. Why he, whose whole life was a crucifixion, should not
love to look on that divine image of blameless suffering, I cannot see;
on the contrary, it seems to me the most natural thing in the world
that he should. But there are those who want to make private property
of everything, and can't make up their minds that people who don't
think as they do should claim any interest in that infinite compassion
expressed in the central figure of the Christendom which includes us

The divinity-student expressed a hope before the boarders that he
should meet him in heaven.--The question is, whether he'll meet
_you_,--said the young fellow John, rather smartly. The
divinity-student hadn't thought of _that_.

However, he is a worthy young man, and I trust I have shown him in a
kindly and respectful light. He will get a parish by-and-by; and, as he
is about to marry the sister of an old friend,--the Schoolmistress,
whom some of us remember,--and as all sorts of expensive accidents
happen to young married ministers, he will be under bonds to the amount
of his salary, which means starvation, if they are forfeited, to think
all his days as he thought when he was settled,--unless the majority of
his people change with him or in advance of him. A hard case, to which
nothing could reconcile a man, except that the faithful discharge of
daily duties in his personal relations with his parishioners will make
him useful enough in his way, though as a thinker he may cease to exist
before he has reached middle age.

--Iris went into mourning for the Little Gentleman. Although, as I have
said, he left the bulk of his property, by will, to a public
institution, he added a codicil, by which he disposed of various pieces
of property as tokens of kind remembrance. It was in this way I became
the possessor of the wonderful instrument I have spoken of, which had
been purchased for him out of an Italian convent. The landlady was
comforted with a small legacy. The following extract relates to Iris:
"----in consideration of her manifold acts of kindness, but only in
token of grateful remembrance, and by no means as a reward for services
which cannot be compensated, a certain messuage, with all the land
thereto appertaining, situate in ---- Street, at the North End, so
called, of Boston, aforesaid, the same being the house in which I was
born, but now inhabited by several families, and known as 'the
Rookery.'" Iris had also the crucifix, the portrait, and the
red-jewelled ring. The funeral or death's-head ring was buried with

It was a good while, after the Little Gentleman was gone, before our
boarding-house recovered its wonted cheerfulness. There was a flavor in
his whims and local prejudices that we liked, even while we smiled at
them. It was hard to see the tall chair thrust away among useless
lumber, to dismantle his room, to take down the picture of Leah, the
handsome Witch of Essex, to move away the massive shelves that held the
books he loved, to pack up the tube through which he used to study the
silent stars, looking down at him, like the eyes of dumb creatures,
with a kind of stupid half-consciousness, that did not worry him as did
the eyes of men and women,--and hardest of all to displace that sacred
figure to which his heart had always turned and found refuge, in the
feelings it inspired, from all the perplexities of his busy brain. It
was hard, but it had to be done.

And by-and-by we grew cheerful again, and the breakfast-table wore
something of its old look. The Koh-i-noor, as we named the gentleman
with the _diamond_, left us, however, soon after that "little mill," as
the young fellow John called it, where he came off second best. His
departure was no doubt hastened by a note from the landlady's daughter,
inclosing a lock of purple hair which she "had valued as a pledge of
affection, ere she knew the hollowness of the vows he had breathed,"
speedily followed by another, inclosing the landlady's bill. The next
morning he was missing, as were his limited wardrobe and the trunk that
held it. Three empty bottles of Mrs. Allen's celebrated preparation,
each of them asserting, on its word of honor as a bottle, that its
former contents were "not a dye," were all that was left to us of the

From this time forward, the landlady's daughter manifested a decided
improvement in her style of carrying herself before the boarders. She
abolished the odious little flat, gummy side-curl. She left off various
articles of "jewelry." She began to help her mother in some of her
household duties. She became a regular attendant on the ministrations
of a very worthy clergyman, having been attracted to his meetin' by
witnessing a marriage ceremony in which he called a man and a woman a
"gentleman" and a "lady,"--a stroke of gentility which quite overcame
her. She even took a part in what she called a _Sabbath_ school, though
it was held on Sunday, and by no means on Saturday, as the name she
intended to utter implied. All this, which was very sincere, as I
believe, on her part, and attended with a great improvement in her
character, ended in her bringing home a young man, with straight, sandy
hair, brushed so as to stand up steeply above his forehead, wearing a
pair of green spectacles, and dressed in black broadcloth. His personal
aspect, and a certain solemnity of countenance, led me to think he must
be a clergyman; and as Master Benjamin Franklin blurted out before
several of us boarders, one day, that "Sis had got a beau," I was
pleased at the prospect of her becoming a minister's wife. On inquiry,
however, I found that the somewhat solemn look which I had noticed was
indeed a professional one, but not clerical. He was a young undertaker,
who had just succeeded to a thriving business. Things, I believe, are
going on well at this time of writing, and I am glad for the landlady's
daughter and her mother. Sextons and undertakers are the cheerfullest
people in the world at home, as comedians and circus-clowns are the
most melancholy in their domestic circle.

As our old boarding-house is still in existence, I do not feel at
liberty to give too minute a statement of the present condition of each
and all of its inmates. I am happy to say, however, that they are all
alive and well, up to this time. That kind old gentleman who sat
opposite to me is growing older, as old men will, but still smiles
benignantly on all the boarders, and has come to be a kind of father to
all of them,--so that on his birthday there is always something like a
family festival. The Poor Relation, even, has warmed into a filial
feeling towards him, and on his last birthday made him a beautiful
present, namely, a very handsomely bound copy of Blair's celebrated
poem, "The Grave."

The young man John is still, as he says, "in fust-rate fettle." I saw
him spar, not long since, at a private exhibition, and do himself great
credit in a set-to with Henry Finnegass, Esq., a professional gentleman
of celebrity. I am pleased to say that he has been promoted to an upper
clerkship, and, in consequence of his rise in office, has taken an
apartment somewhat lower down than number "forty-'leven," as he
facetiously called his attic. Whether there is any truth, or not, in
the story of his attachment to, and favorable reception by, the
daughter of the head of an extensive wholesale grocer's establishment,
I will not venture an opinion; I may say, however, that I have met him
repeatedly in company with a very well-nourished and high-colored young
lady, who, I understand, is the daughter of the house in question.

Some of the boarders were of opinion that Iris did not return the
undisguised attentions of the handsome young Marylander. Instead of
fixing her eyes steadily on him, as she used to look upon the Little
Gentleman, she would turn them away, as if to avoid his own. They often
went to church together, it is true; but nobody, of course, supposes
there is any relation between religious sympathy and those wretched
"sentimental" movements of the human heart upon which it is commonly
agreed that nothing better is based than society, civilization,
friendship, the relation of husband and wife, and of parent and child,
and which many people must think were singularly overrated by the
Teacher of Nazareth, whose whole life, as I said before, was full of
sentiment, loving this or that young man, pardoning this or that
sinner, weeping over the dead, mourning for the doomed city, blessing,
and perhaps kissing, the little children,--so that the Gospels are
still cried over almost as often as the last work of fiction!

But one fine June morning there rumbled up to the door of our
boarding-house a hack containing a lady inside and a trunk on the
outside. It was our friend the lady-patroness of Miss Iris, the same
who had been called by her admiring pastor "The Model of all the
Virtues." Once a week she had written a letter, in a rather formal
hand, but full of good advice, to her young charge. And now she had
come to carry her away, thinking that she had learned all she was
likely to learn under her present course of teaching. The Model,
however, was to stay awhile,--a week, or more,--before they should
leave together.

Iris was obedient, as she was bound to be. She was respectful,
grateful, as a child is with a just, but not tender parent. Yet
something was wrong. She had one of her trances, and became
statue-like, as before, only the day after the Model's arrival. She was
wan and silent, tasted nothing at table, smiled as if by a forced
effort, and often looked vaguely away from those who were looking at
her, her eyes just glazed with the shining moisture of a tear that must
not be allowed to gather and fall. Was it grief at parting from the
place where her strange friendship had grown up with the Little
Gentleman? Yet she seemed to have become reconciled to his loss, and
rather to have a deep feeling of gratitude that she had been permitted
to care for him in his last weary days.

The Sunday after the Model's arrival, that lady had an attack of
headache, and was obliged to shut herself up in a darkened room alone.
Our two young friends took the opportunity to go together to the Church
of the Galileans. They said but little going,--"collecting their
thoughts" for the service, I devoutly hope. My kind good friend the
pastor preached that day one of his sermons that make us all feel like
brothers and sisters, and his text was that affectionate one from John,
"My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue, but in
deed and in truth." When Iris and her friend came out of church, they
were both pale, and walked a space without speaking.

At last the young man said,--You and I are not little children, Iris!

She looked in his face an instant, as if startled, for there was
something strange in the tone of his voice. She smiled faintly, but
spoke never a word.

In deed and in truth, Iris,--What shall a poor girl say or do, when a
strong man falters in his speech before her, and can do nothing better
than hold out his hand to finish his broken sentence?

The poor girl said nothing, but quietly laid her ungloved hand in
his,--the little, soft white hand which had ministered so tenderly and
suffered so patiently.

The blood came back to the young man's cheeks, as he lifted it to his
lips, even as they walked there in the street, touched it gently with
them, and said,--"It is mine!"

Iris did not contradict him.

* * * * *

The seasons pass by so rapidly, that I am startled to think how much
has happened since these events I was describing. Those two young
people would insist on having their own way about their own affairs,
notwithstanding the good lady, so justly called the Model, insisted
that the age of twenty-five years was as early as any discreet young
lady should think of incurring the responsibilities, etc., etc. Long
before Iris had reached that age, she was the wife of a young Maryland
engineer, directing some of the vast constructions of his native
State,--where he was growing rich fast enough to be able to decline
that famous Russian offer which would have made him a kind of nabob in
a few years. Iris does not write verse often, nowadays, but she
sometimes draws. The last sketch of hers I have seen in my Southern
visits was of two children, a boy and girl, the youngest holding a
silver goblet, like the one she held that evening when I--I was so
struck with her statue-like beauty. If in the later summer months you
find the grass marked with footsteps around that grave on Copp's Hill I
told you of, and flowers scattered over it, you may be sure that Iris
is here on her annual visit to the home of her childhood and that
excellent lady whose only fault was, that Nature had written out her
list of virtues on ruled paper, and forgotten to rub out the lines.

One more thing I must mention. Being on the Common, last Sunday, I was
attracted by the cheerful spectacle of a well-dressed and somewhat
youthful papa wheeling a very elegant little carriage containing a
stout baby. A buxom young lady watched them from one of the stone
seats, with an interest which could be nothing less than maternal. I at
once recognized my old friend, the young fellow whom we called John. He
was delighted to see me, introduced me to "Madam," and would have the
lusty infant out of the carriage, and hold him up for me to look at.

Now, then,--he said to the two-year-old,--show the gentleman how you
hit from the shoulder.--Whereupon the little imp pushed his fat fist
straight into my eye, to his father's intense satisfaction.

Fust-rate little chap,--said the papa.--Chip of the old block. Regl'r
little Johnny, you know.

I was so much pleased to find the young fellow settled in life, and
pushing about one of "them little articles" he seemed to want so much,
that I took my "punishment" at the hands of the infant pugilist with
great equanimity.--And how is the old boarding-house?--I asked.

A 1,--he answered.--Painted and papered as good as new. Gabs in all the
rooms up to the sky-parlors. Old woman's layin' up money, they say.
Means to send Ben Franklin to college.--Just then the first bell rang
for church, and my friend, who, I understand, has become a most
exemplary member of society, said he must be off to get ready for
meetin', and told the young one to "shake dada," which he did with his
closed fist, in a somewhat menacing manner. And so the young man John,
as we used to call him, took the pole of the miniature carriage, and
pushed the small pugilist before him homewards, followed, in a somewhat
leisurely way, by his pleasant-looking lady-companion, and I sent a
sigh and a smile after him.

That evening, as soon as it was dark, I could not help going round by
the old boarding-house. The "gahs" was lighted, but the curtains, or,
more properly, the painted shades, were not down. And so I stood there
and looked in along the table where the boarders sat at the evening
meal,--our old breakfast-table, which some of us feel as if we knew so
well. There were new faces at it, but also old and familiar ones.--The
land-lady, in a wonderfully smart cap, looking young, comparatively
speaking, and as if half the wrinkles had been ironed out of her
forehead.--Her daughter, in rather dressy half-mourning, with a vast
brooch of jet, got up, apparently, to match the gentleman next her, who
was in black costume and sandy hair,--the last rising straight from his
forehead, like the marble flame one sometimes sees at the top of a
funeral urn.--The poor relation, not in absolute black, but in a stuff
with specks of white; as much as to say, that, if there were any more
Hirams left to sigh for her, there were pin-holes in the night of her
despair, through which a ray of hope might find its way to--an
adorer.--Master Benjamin Franklin, grown taller of late, was in the act
of splitting his face open with a wedge of pie, so that his features
were seen to disadvantage for the moment.--The good old gentleman was
sitting still and thoughtful. All at once he turned his face toward the
window where I stood, and, just as if he had seen me, smiled his
benignant smile. It was a recollection of some past pleasant moment;
but it fell upon me like the blessing of a father.

I kissed my hand to them all, unseen as I stood in the outer darkness;
and as I turned and went my way, the table and all around it faded into
the realm of twilight shadows and of midnight dreams.

* * * * *

And so my year's record is finished. The Professor has talked less than
his predecessor, but he has heard and seen more. Thanks to all those
friends who from time to time have sent their messages of kindly
recognition and fellow-feeling! Peace to all such as may have been
vexed in spirit by any utterance these pages have repeated! They will,
doubtless, forget for the moment the difference in the hues of truth we
look at through our human prisms, and join in singing (inwardly) this
hymn to the Source of the light we all need to lead us, and the warmth
which alone can make us all brothers.

A Sun-Day Hymn.

Lord of all being! throned afar,
Thy glory flames from sun and star;
Centre and soul of every sphere,
Yet to each loving heart how near!

Sun of our life, thy wakening ray
Sheds on our path the glow of day;
Star of our hope, thy softened light
Cheers the long watches of the night.

Our midnight is thy smile withdrawn;
Our noontide is thy gracious dawn;
Our rainbow arch thy mercy's sign;
All, save the clouds of sin, are thine!

Lord of all life, below, above,
Whose light is truth, whose warmth is love,
Before thy ever-blazing throne
We ask no lustre of our own.

Grant us thy truth to make us free,
And kindling hearts that burn for thee,
Till all thy living altars claim
One holy light, one heavenly flame!


_The Oxford Museum_. By HENRY W. ACLAND, M. D., Regius Professor of
Medicine, and JOHN RUSKIN, M. A., Honorary Student of Christ Church.
London, 1859.

The last ten years have formed a remarkable period in the history of
the ancient and honored University of Oxford. Guided by wise and
discerning counsels, it has made rapid and substantial advance. The
scope of its studies has been greatly enlarged, the standard of its
requirements raised. Its traditionary adherence to old methods and its
bigoted conservatism have been overcome, and with happy pliancy it has
yielded to the demands of the times and adapted itself to the new
desires and growing needs of men. Its aristocratic prejudices have not
been allowed longer to confine its privileges and its operations to one
class alone of the community,--and in identifying itself with the
system of middle-class education, Oxford has won new claims to
gratitude and to respect, and now exercises a wider and more confirmed
authority over the thought of England than ever before. To us, who take
pride in her ancient fame, who honor her long and memorable services in
the cause of good learning, who cherish the memory of the great and
good men, the masters of modern thought, whom she has nurtured, who
recall the names of our own forefathers who came out from her and from
her sister University with will and power to lay the foundations of our
state, and whom, by her discipline, in the midst of all the refinement
of hooks and the quietness of study, she had prepared to meet and to
overcome the hardships of exile, poverty, and labor, in the cause of
truth and freedom,--to us it may well be matter of rejoicing to witness
the freshness of her spirit and the spring of her perennial youth,--to
see her

"so famous,
So excellent in art, and still so rising."

One of the most marked features of the advance that has lately been
made is the full recognition of the Natural Sciences as forming an
essential part of the scheme of University studies. For centuries there
had been an "intellectual onesidedness" at Oxford. It had chiefly
cultivated classic learning. But it has now undertaken to repair the
deficiency that existed in this respect, and, while still retaining all
its classic studies, it has added to them a full course of training in
the knowledge of Nature. "Our object is," says Dr. Acland, speaking as
one of the professors of the University, "our object is,--first, to
give the learner a general view of the planet on which he lives, of its
constituent parts, and of the relation which it occupies as a world
among worlds; and secondly, to enable him to study, in the most
complete scientific manner, and for any purpose, any detailed portion
which his powers qualify him to grasp."

Such an object brings the University into full sympathy with the
present tendencies of education in our own country. With us, scientific
pursuits and the study of Nature are receiving greater and greater
attention and engrossing a continually larger share of the interest,
the time, and the talent of students. There already exists, and there
is danger of its increase, in many of our best institutions of
learning, and many of our most educated men, an intellectual
onesidedness of a contrary, but not less unfortunate character, to that
which long existed at Oxford. The temper of our people, the wide field
for their energies, the development of the so-called practical traits
of character under the stimulus of our political and social
institutions, the solitary dissociation of America from the history and
the achievements of the Old World, the melancholy absence of monuments
of past greatness and worth,--these and many other circumstances
peculiar to our position all serve to weaken the general interest in
what are called classical studies, and to direct the attention of the
most ambitious and active minds far too exclusively to the pursuits of
science. And when to these circumstances peculiar to ourselves is added
the influence of those general causes which have had the effect of
leading men throughout the civilized world to give of late years more
and more of thought and study to the investigation of Nature and to the
pursuits resulting therefrom, it is not strange that learning,
so-called, should, for the present at least, find itself but poorly off
in America, and that the essential value of learned studies for an even
and fair development of the intellectual faculties should be far too
little regarded. The danger that arises from a too exclusive devotion
to scientific pursuits is pointed out by Dr. Acland in a passage which
deserves thoughtful consideration, coming as it does from a man
distinguished not more for scientific eminence than for his wide and
cultivated intellect.

"The further my observation has extended," he says, "the more satisfied
I am that no _knowledge of things_ will supply the place of the early
study of letters,--_literae humaniores_. I do not doubt the value of
any honest mental labor. Indeed, since the _material_ working of the
Creator has been so far displayed to our gaze, it is both dangerous and
full of impiety to resist its ennobling influence, even on the ground
that His _moral_ work is greater. But notwithstanding this, the study
of language, of history, and of the thoughts of great men which they
exhibit, seems to be almost necessary (as far as learning is necessary
at all) for disciplining the heart, for elevating the soul, and for
preparing the way for the growth in the young of their personal
spiritual life; while, on the other hand, the best corrective to
pedantry in scholarship, and to conceit in mental philosophy, is the
study of the facts and laws exhibited by Natural Science."

Oxford, having thus fully acknowledged the need of enlarging her system
of education, at once set about preparing a home for the Natural
Sciences within her precincts. The building of the Oxford Museum is a
fact characteristic of the large spirit of the University, and of
special interest from the design and nature of its architecture. It is
not merely intended for the holding of collections in the different
departments of physical science, but it contains also lecture- and
work-rooms, and all the accommodations required for in-door study. To
provide the mere shell of such a building, the University granted the
sum of L30,000. The design that was selected from those which were sent
for competition was of the Gothic style,--the work of Messrs. Deane and
Woodward; and this style was chosen because it was believed, that, "in
respect of capacity of adaptation to any given wants, Gothic has no
superior in any known form of Art,"--and that, this being so, "it was,
upon the whole, the best suited to the general architectural character
of Mediaeval Oxford." "The centre of the edifice, which is to contain
the collections, consists of a quadrangle," covered by a glass roof.
The court is surrounded by an open arcade of two stories. "This arcade
furnishes ready means of communication between the several departments
and their collections in the area." "Round the arcade is ranged upon
three sides the main block of the building,"--the fourth side being
left unoccupied by apartments, to afford means for future extension.
Each department of science is provided with ample accommodations,
specially adapted to its peculiar needs. The building, as it stands at
present, is in its largest dimensions about 330 by 170 feet. Its
erection has formed an epoch not only in the history of Oxford, but
also in that of Gothic Art in England.

It is the first considerable building which has for centuries been
erected in England according to the true principles of Gothic Art. It
is a revival of the spirit and freedom of Gothic architecture. It is no
copy, but an original creation of thought, fancy, and imagination. It
has combined beauty with use, elegance with convenience, and ornament
with instruction. It has proved the perfect pliancy of Gothic
architecture to modern needs, and shown its power of entire adaptation
to the requirements of new conditions. In its details no less than in
its general scope it exhibits the recognition by its builders of the
essential characteristics of the best Gothic Art, and shows in the
harmonized variety of its parts the inventive thought and the
independent execution of many minds and hands presided over by a single
will. Gothic architecture in its best development is the expression at
once of law and of liberty. The exactest principles of proportion are
combined in it with the freest play of fancy. Its spaces are divided
mathematically by the rule and the square, its main lines are
determined with absolute precision,--but within these limits of order
the imagination works out its free results, and, because limited by
mathematical laws, reaches the most perfect freedom of beauty.

But the system of Gothic decorations, "which," says Mr. Ruskin, "took
eight hundred years to mature, gathering its power by undivided
inheritance of traditional method," is not an easy thing to revive
under new and difficult conditions. A single example of what has been
attempted in this way in the Oxford Museum must suffice to show the
spirit which pervades its construction. The lower arcade upon the
central court is supported by thirty-three piers and thirty shafts; the
upper arcade by thirty-three piers and ninety-five shafts. "The shafts
have been carefully selected, under the direction of the Professor of
Geology, from quarries which furnish examples of many of the most
important rocks of the British Islands. On the lower arcade are placed,
on the west side, the granitic series; on the east, the metamorphic; on
the north, calcareous rocks, chiefly from Ireland; on the south, the
marbles of England." The capitals and bases are to represent different
groups of plants and animals, illustrating the various geological
epochs, and the natural orders of existence. Thus, the column of
sienite from Charnwood Forest has a capital of the cocoa palm; the red
granite of Ross, in Mull, is crowned with a capital of lilies; the
beautiful marble of Marychurch has an exquisitely sculptured capital of
ferns;--and so through all the range of the arcades, new designs,
studied directly from Nature, and combining art with science, have been
executed by the workmen employed on the building.

To complete the beauty of the court, massive corbels have been thrown
out from the piers, upon which statues of the greatest and most famous
men in science are to be, or are already, placed. These shafts and
capitals and statues have been, in great part, the gift of individuals
interested in the progress and successful completion of such a
building. The Queen presented five of the statues; and her example has
been followed by many of the graduates of the University and lovers of
Art in England.

Mr. Ruskin ends his second letter in the little book before us with
these words: "Although I doubt not that lovelier and juster expressions
of the Gothic principle will be ultimately arrived at by us than any
which are possible in the Oxford Museum, its builders will never lose
their claim to our chief gratitude, as the first guides in a right
direction; and the building itself, the first exponent of recovered
truth, will only be the more venerated, the more it is excelled."

Such is the way in which Oxford, having a Museum to build, sets to
work. She lays down a large and generous plan, and erects a building
worthy of her ancient fame, worthy to increase the love and honor in
which she is held,--a building that adds a new beauty to her old
beauties of hall and chapel, of quadrangle and cloister. She does not
mistake parsimony for economy; she does not neglect to regard the duty
that lies upon her, as the guardian and instructress of youth, to set
before their eyes models of fair proportion, noble structures which
shall exercise at once an influence to refine the taste and the
sentiment and to enlarge the intellect. She acknowledges the claims of
the future as well as of the present, and does not erect that which the
future, however it may advance in constructive power, will regard as
base, mean, or ugly. She recognizes the value to herself, as well as to
her sons, of all those associations which, through the power of her
adorned and munificent architecture, shall bind them to her in ties of
closer tenderness, and of strong, though most delicate feeling. Her
building is to have an aspect that shall correspond to the nobility of
its function,--that shall impress the student, as he walks along the
hard and dry paths of science, with some sense, faint though it be, of
the beauty of that learning which is furnished with so goodly an abode.
The influence of a fine building, complete in all its parts, is one
which cannot be estimated in money, cannot be investigated by any
practical process, but which is nevertheless as strong and precious as
it is secret, as constant as it is unobserved.

It would seem that there could be no country in the world where
buildings of the noblest kind would be more desired than in America,
for there is none in which they are so much needed. But such is not the
case. As men who have lived long in darkness become so accustomed to
the want of light as not to feel its absence, so the absoluteness of
the want of fine buildings in America prevents that want from being
generally felt. Heirs of the intellectual wealth of the past, we have
no inheritance of the great works of its hands. No material heirlooms
have been transmitted to us. We are cut off from any share in the
monuments on which the labor, the affection, and the possessions of
former generations were expended. The precious and enlarging
associations connected with such works, which bind successive
generations of men together with ties of memory and reverence,
stimulating the imagination to new conceptions, and nerving the will to
large efforts, have nothing to cling to here. The land is barren and
naked; and, moreover, no effort is made to relieve the future from the
want which the present feels so keenly. With wealth ample enough for
undertakings of any magnitude,--with intelligence, more boasted than
real, but still sufficient for the conception of improvement, we
exhibit in our civilization neither the taste nor the capacity for any
noble works of Art. The value of beauty is disregarded, and the
cultivation of the sense of beauty is treated as of little worth,
compared with the culture of what are styled the practical faculties.
Our wealth is spent in the erection of extravagant stores and
shops,--in the decoration of oyster-saloons, hotels, and
steamboats,--in the lavish and selfish adornment of drawing-rooms and
chambers. In the whole breadth of the continent there is not a single
building of such beauty as to be an object of national pride, and few
which will have any value in future times, except as historic records
of the poverty of sentiment and the deficiency of character of the men
of this generation.

Our oldest and best endowed University has, like Oxford, lately engaged
in the erection of a Museum, which, though more limited in its general
object, has yet a scope of such large and generous proportion as to
make it a work of even more than national interest. It is undertaken on
such a scale as to fit it not merely for present needs, but for the
increasing wants of later times. The State has contributed to it from
the public treasury, and private citizens have given their
contributions liberally towards its support. The building has been
rapidly carried forward, and the portion undertaken is now near
completion. How does it compare with the Oxford Museum? What provision
has been made that in its outward aspect it shall correspond with the
worth and grandeur of the collections it is to hold and the studies
that are to be carried on within it? What patient thought, what stores
of imagination, what happy adaptations do its walls reveal? These
questions are easily answered. Convenience of internal arrangement has
been sought without regard to external beauty, without consideration of
the claims of Art. The architect has, we must suppose, been obliged to
conform his plans to the most frugal estimates; but we cannot help
thinking, that, generous as the State has been, it would have been more
worthy of her, had no such necessity existed. The building for the
Museum is one which can never excite high admiration, never touch any
chord of poetic sentiment, never arouse in the student within its walls
any feeling save that of mere convenience and utility. Its bare,
shadowless walls, unadorned by carven columns or memorial statues, will
stand incapable of affording support for those associations which
endear every human work of worth, covering it with praise and


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