Atlantic Monthly Volume 6, No. 37, November, 1860

Part 1 out of 5

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Thomas Hood was originally intended for business, and entered a
mercantile house; but the failure of his health, at fifteen years of
age, compelled him to leave it, and go to Scotland, where he remained
two years, with much gain to his body and his mind. On his return to
London, he applied himself to learn the art of engraving; but his
constitution would not allow him to pursue it. Yet what he did acquire
of this art, with his genius for comic observation, must have been of
excellent service to him in his subsequent career. This, at first, was
simply literary, in a subordinate connection with "The London Magazine."
His relation to this periodical gave him opportunities, which he did not
neglect, of knowing many of its brilliant contributors. Among these was
Charles Lamb, who took a strong liking to the youthful sub-editor, and,
doubtless, discovered a talent that in some points had resemblance to
his own. The influence of his conversation and companionship may have
brought Hood's natural qualities of mind into early growth, and helped
them into early ripeness. Striking as the difference was, in some
respects, between them, in other respects the likeness was quite as
striking. Both were playful in manner, but melancholy by constitution,
and in each there lurked an unsuspected sadness; both had tenderness in
their mirth, and mirth in their tenderness; and both were born punsters,
with more meaning in their puns than met the ear, and constantly
bringing into sudden and surprising revelation the wonderful mysteries
of words.

With a genius of so singular a cast, Hood was not destined to continue
long a subordinate. Almost with manhood he began to be an independent
workman of letters; and as such, through ever-varying gravities and
gayeties, tears and laughter, grimsicalities and whimsicalities, prose
and verse, he labored incessantly till his too early death. The whole
was truly and entirely "Hood's Own." In mind he owed no man anything.
Unfortunately, he did in money. That he might economize, and be free to
toil in order to pay, he went abroad, residing between four and five
years out of England, part of the time at Coblentz, in Rhenish Prussia,
and part at Ostend, in Belgium. The climate of Rhenish Prussia was bad
for his health, and the people were disagreeable to his feelings. The
change to Belgium was at first pleasant and an improvement; but complete
recovery soon seemed as far away as ever; nay, it was absolutely away
forever. But in the midst of his family--his wife, his little boy and
girl, most loving and most loved--bravely he toiled, with pen and
pencil, with head and heart; and while men held both their sides from
laughter, he who shook them held both his sides from pain; while tears,
kindly or comical, came at the touch of his genius into thousands of
eyes, eyes were watching and weeping in secret by his bed-side in the
lonely night, which, gazing through the cloud of sorrow on his thin
features and his uneasy sleep, took note that the instrument was fast
decaying which gave forth the enchantment and the charm of all this
mirthful and melancholy music. Thus, in bodily pain, in bodily weakness
even worse than pain, in pecuniary embarrassment worse than either,
worst of all, often distressed in mind as to means of support for his
family, he still persevered; his genius did not forsake him, nor did his
goodness; the milk of human kindness did not grow sour, nor the sweet
charities of human life turn into bitter irritations. But what a tragedy
the whole suggests, in its combination of gayety with grief, and in
the thought of laughter that must be created at the cost of sighs, of
merriment in which every grin has been purchased by a groan!

An anecdote which we once read, always, when we recall it, deeply
affects us. A favorite comic actor, on a certain evening, was hissed by
the audience, who had always before applauded him. He burst into tears.
He had been watching his dying wife, and had left her dead, as be came
upon the stage. This was his apology for imperfection in his part. Poor
Hood had also to unite comedy with tragedy,--not for a night, or a day,
or a week, but for months and years. He had to give the comedy to the
public, and keep the tragedy to himself; nor could he, if comedy failed
him, plead with the public the tragedy of his circumstances. _That_ was
nothing to the public. He must give pleasure to the public, and not
explanations and excuses. But genius, goodness, many friends, no enemy,
the consciousness of imparting enjoyment to multitudes, and to no man
wretchedness, a heart alive with all that is tender and gentle, and
strong to manful and noble purpose and achievement,--these are grand
compensations,--compensations for even more ills than Hood was heir to;
and with such compensations Hood was largely blessed. Though his funds
were nothing to the bounty of his spirit, yet he did not refuse to
himself the blessedness of giving. Want, to his eye of charity, was
neither native nor foreign, but _human_; and as _human_ he pitied it
always, and, as far as he could, relieved it. While abroad, he was
constantly doing acts of beneficence; and the burlesque style with
which, in his correspondence, he tries to disguise his own goodness,
while using the incidents as items to write about, is one of the most
delightful peculiarities in his delightful letters. The inimitable
combination of humanity and humor in these passages renders them equal
to the best things that Hood has anywhere written. To crown all, Hood
had happiness unalloyed in his children and his wife. Mrs. Hood seems
to have deserved to the utmost the abounding love which her husband
lavished on her. She was not only, as a devoted wife, a cheerer of
his heart, but, as a woman of accomplishment and ability, she was a
companion for his mind. Her judgment was as clear and sure as her
affection was warm and strong. Her letters have often a grave tenderness
and an insinuated humor hardly inferior to her husband's. But as she
must write from fact and not from fancy, what she writes naturally bears
the impression of her cares. Here is a passage from one of her latest
letters, which, half sadly, half amusingly, reminds us of Mrs. Primrose
and her "I'll-warrant" and "Between-ourselves" manner.

"Hood dines to-day," she writes, "with Doctor Bowring, in Queen Square.
He knew him well years ago in 'The London Magazine'; and he wrote, a few
days ago, to ask Hood to meet Bright and Cobden on business,--_I_ think,
to write songs for the League. I augur good from it. This comes of 'The
Song of the Shirt,' of which we hear something continually."

As an instance of her judgment, we may mention that she prophesied at
once all the success which followed this same "Song of the Shirt." When
read to her in manuscript,--"Now mind, Hood," said she, "mark my words,
this will tell wonderfully! It is one of the best things you ever
did." Her reference to "The Song" in her letter has a sort of pathetic
_naivete_ in it; it shows that the thought with which she was concerned
was practical, not poetical,--not her husband's fame, but her household
cares. She was thinking of songs that would turn into substance,--of
"notes" that could be exchanged for cash,--of evanescent flame that
might be condensed into solid coal, which would, in turn, make the pot
boil,--and of music that could be converted into mutton. O ye entranced
bards, drunk with the god, seeing visions and dreaming dreams in the
third heaven, that is, the third story! O ye voluminous historians, who
live in the guilt and glory of the past, and are proud in making the
biggest and thickest books for the dust, cobwebs, and moths of the
future! O ye commentators, who delight to render obscurity more obscure,
and who assume that in a multitude of words, as in a multitude of
counsellors, there is wisdom! O ye critics, who vote yourselves the
Areopagites of Intellect, whose decrees confer immortality in the
Universe of Letters! O all ye that write or scribble,--all ye tribes,
both great and small, of pen-drivers and paper-scrapers!--know ye,
that, while ye are listening in your imaginative ambition to the praise
of the elect or the applause of nations, your wives are often counting
the coppers that are to buy the coming meal, alarmed at the approaching
rent-day, or trembling in apprehension of the baker's bill.

Hood, in 1840, returned to reside in England during the small remainder
of his life. For a few months he edited the "New Monthly," and then, for
a few months more, a magazine of his own. But the whole of this period
was filled with bodily and mental trials, of which it is painful to
read. Yet within this period it was that he wrote some of his finest
things, both laughable and serious. It is, however, to be remarked, it
was now he reached down to that well of tears which lay in the depth of
his nature. Always before, there had been misty exhalations from it,
that oozed up into the sunshine of his fancy, and that took all the
shapes of glisten or of gloom which his Protean genius gave them. In the
rapid eccentricities of cloud and coruscation, the source which supplied
to the varying forms so much of their substance was hidden or unminded.
But now the fountain of thought and tragedy had been readied, whence the
waters of sin and suffering spring forth clear and unalloyed in their
own deep loneliness, and we hear the gush and the murmur of their stream
in such monodies as "The Song of the Shirt," "The Lay of the Laborer,"
and "The Bridge of Sighs."

Hood died in 1845, and was then only forty-six or forty-seven years old.
Alike esteemed by the poor and the rich, both united to consecrate a
monument to his memory. Kindly should we ever think of those who make
our hearts and our tempers bright; who, without pomp of wisdom, help us
to a cheerfulness which no proud philosophy can give; who, in the motley
of checkered mirth and wit, sparkle on the resting-spots of life. Such
men are rare, and as valuable as they are rare. The world wants them
more than it wants heroes and victors: for mirth is better than
massacre; and it is surely better to hear laughter sounding aloud the
jubilee of the heart, than the shout of battle and yell of conquest.
Precious, then, are those whose genius brings pleasure to the bosom
and sunshine to the face; who not only call our thoughts into festive
action, but brighten our affections into generous feeling. Though we may
not loudly celebrate such men, we greatly miss them; and not on marble
monuments, but in our warmest memories, their names continue fresh. But
laugh and make laugh as they may, they, too, have the destiny of grief;
and unto them, as unto all men, come their passages of tragedy,--the
days of evil, the nights of waking, and the need of pity.

When Hood was near his death a pension of a hundred pounds a year was
settled on his wife, at the instance of Sir Robert Peel. The wife, so
soon to become a widow, did not long survive her husband; then, in 1847,
the pension was continued to their two orphan children, at the instance
of Lord John Russell. Politics and parties were forgotten, in gratitude
to an earnest lover of his kind; and the people, as well as the
government, in helping to provide for those whom he left behind, showed
that they had not forgotten one whose desire it was to improve even more
than to amuse them. And still we cannot but feel sad that there should
ever have been this need. Nor would there have been, had Hood had the
strength to carry him into the vast reading public which has arisen
since his death, and which it was not his fate to know. "The income,"
says his daughter, "which his works now produce to his children, might
then have prolonged his life for many years."

We have written more on the personal relations of Hood than we had
intended; but we have been carried on unwitttingly, while reading the
"Memorials" of him recently published and edited by his children. The
loving worth of the man, as therein revealed, made us slow to quit the
companionship of his character to discuss the qualities of his genius.
We trust that our time has not been misspent, morally or critically;
for, besides the moral good which we gain from the contemplation of an
excellent man, we enjoy also the critical satisfaction of learning that
whatever is best in literature comes out of that which is best in life.
We therefore close this section of our article with a bit of prose and a
bit of poetry, among Hood's "last things,"--personally and pathetically
characteristic of his nature and his genius.

"Dear Moir,[A]

"God bless you and yours, and goodbye! I drop these few lines, as in a
bottle from a ship water-logged and on the brink of foundering, being
in the last stage of dropsical debility; but, though suffering in body,
serene in mind. So, without reversing my union-jack, I await my last
lurch. Till which, believe me, dear Moir,

"Yours most truly,


[Footnote A: The _Delta_ of Blackwood]


"Farewell, Life! My senses swim,
And the world is growing dim;
Thronging shadows cloud the light,
Like the advent of the night;
Colder, colder, colder still,
Upward steals a vapor chill;
Strong the earthly odor grows,--
I smell the Mould above the Rose!"

"Welcome, Life! The spirit strives!
Strength returns, and hope revives!
Cloudy fears and shapes forlorn
Fly like shadows at the morn;
O'er the earth there comes a bloom,
Sunny light for sullen gloom,
Warm perfume for vapors cold,--
I smell the Rose above the Mould!"

Nothing at first appears more easy than to define and to describe the
genius of Hood. It is strictly singular, and entirely his own. That
which is his is completely his, and no man can cry halves with him, or
quarters,--hardly the smallest fraction. The estimate of his genius,
therefore, puts the critic to no trouble of elaborate discrimination or
comparison. When we think of Hood as a humorist, there is no need
that we should at the same time think of Aristophanes, or Lucian, or
Rabelais, or Swift, or Sterne, or Fielding, or Dickens, or Thackeray.
When we think of him as a poet,--except in a few of his early
compositions,--we are not driven to examine what he shares with
Chaucer, or Spenser, or Shakspeare, or Milton, or Byron, or Coleridge,
or Wordsworth, or any of the poetic masters of literature. Whether as
humorist or as poet, he is in English literature what Richter is in
German literature, "the only one." Then the characteristics of his
genius are outwardly so evident, that, in merely a glance, we fancy we
comprehend them. But the more we think, the more we reflect, the more
the difficulty opens on us of doing full justice to the mind of Hood. We
soon discover that we are dealing, not with a mere punster or jester,
not with a mere master of grimace or manufacturer of broad grins, not
with an eccentric oddity in prose or verse, not with a merry-andrew who
tickles to senseless laughter, not with a spasmodic melodramatist who
writhes in fictitious pain, but that we are dealing with a sincere,
truthful, and most gifted nature,--many-sided, many-colored, harmonious
as a whole, and having a real unity as the centre of its power. To enter
into a complete exposition of such a nature is not our purpose: we must
content ourselves with noting some of its most striking literary and
moral peculiarities. We do not claim for Hood, that he was a man of
profound, wide, or philosophic intellect, or that for grandeur of
imagination he could be numbered among the godlike; we do not claim that
he opened up the deeps of passion, or brought down transcendent truths
from the higher spheres of mind; we claim for him no praise for science
or for scholarship: we merely maintain, that he was a man of rare
humanity, of close, subtile, and various observation, of good sense and
common sense, of intuitive insight into character, of catholic
sympathy with his kind that towards the lowest was the most loving, of
extraordinary social and miscellaneous knowledge that was always at his
command, a thinker to the fullest measure of his needs, and, as humorist
and poet, an originality and a novelty in the world of genius. This is
our general estimate of Hood. What further we have to say shall be in
accordance with it; and such has been the impressive influence of Hood's
writings upon us, that our thoughts, whether we will or not, are more
intent on their serious than on their comic import.

In all the writings of Hood that are not absolutely serious the
_grotesque_ is a present and pervading element. Often it shows itself,
as if from an irresistible instinct of fantastic extravagance, in the
wild and reckless sport of oddity. Combinations, mental, verbal, and
pictorial, to ordinary mortals the strangest and the most remote, were
to Hood innate and spontaneous. They came not from the outward,--they
were born of the inward. They were purely subjective, the sportive
pranks of Hood's own ME, when that ME was in its queerest moods. How
naturally the impossible or the absurd took the semblance of consistency
in the mental associations of Hood, we observe even in his private
correspondence. "Jane," (Mrs. Hood,) he writes, "is now drinking
porter,--at which I look half savage.....I must even _sip_, when I long
to _swig_. I shall turn a fish soon, and have the pleasure of angling
for myself." This, if without intention, would be a blunder or a bull.
If it were written unwittingly, the result would be simply ludicrous,
and consign it to the category of humor; but knowingly written, as we
are aware it was, we must ascribe it to the category of wit.

This presence or absence of _intention_ often decides whether a saying
or an image is within the sphere of humor or of wit. But wit and humor
constantly run into each other; and though the absence of intention
at once shows that a ludicrous surprise belongs to the humorous, the
presence of it will not so clearly define it as belonging to the witty.
Nor will laughter quite settle this question; for there is wit which
makes us laugh, and there is humor which does not. On the whole, it is
as to what is purely wit that we are ever the most at fault. Certain
phases of humor we cannot mistake,--especially those which are broadly
comic or farcical. But sometimes we meet with incidents or scenes which
have more in them of the pathetic than the comic, that we must still
rank with the humorous. Here is a case in point. A time was when it
was a penal offence in Ireland for a priest to say Mass, and under
particular circumstances a capital felony. A priest was malignantly
prosecuted; but the judge, being humane, and better than the law,
determined to confound the informer.

"Pray, Sir," said the judge, "how do you know he said Mass?"

"Because I heard him say it, my Lord."

"Did he say it in Latin?" asked the judge.

"Yes, my Lord."

"Then you understand Latin?"

"A little."

"What words did you hear him say?"

"_Ave Maria_."

"That is the Lord's Prayer, is it not?" asked the judge.

"Yes, my Lord."

"Here is a pretty witness to convict the prisoner!" cried the judge; "he
swears _Ave Maria_ is Latin for the Lord's Prayer!"

Now, surely, this scene is hardly laughable, and yet it is thoroughly
humorous. But take an instance which is entirely comic:--"All ye
blackguards as isn't lawyers," exclaimed a crier, "quit the Coort." Or
this:--"Och, Counsellor, darling," said a peasant once to O'Connell,
"I've no way _here_ to show your Honor my gratitude! but _I wish I
saw you knocked down in my own parish_, and may be I wouldn't bring a
faction to the rescue." A similar instance occurred in this country. An
enthusiastic Irishwoman, listening once to a lecturer praising Ireland,
exclaimed,--"I wish to God I saw that man in poverty, that I might do
something to relieve him."

We shall now cite an example of pure wit.

"How can you defend this item, Mr. Curran," said Lord Chancellor
Clare,--"'To writing innumerable letters, L100'?"

"Why, my Lord," said Curran, "nothing can be more reasonable. _It is not
a penny a letter_."

But we might fill the whole space of our article, ay, or of twenty
articles, with such illustrations; we will content ourselves with two
others. The idea is the same in both; but in the first it seems to have
a mixture of the witty and the humorous; in the second, it belongs
entirely to the humorous.

A lady at a dinner-party passing near where Talleyrand was standing,
he looked up and significantly exclaimed, "Ah!" In the course of the
dinner, the lady having asked him across the table, why on her entrance
he said "Oh!" Talleyrand, with a grave, self-vindicatory look,
answered,--"_Madame, je n'ai pas dit_ 'Oh!' _J'ai dit_ 'Ah!'"

Here is the second.--The Reverend Alonzo Fizzle had preached his
farewell-sermon to his disconsolate people in Drowsytown. The next
morning, Monday, he was strolling musingly along a silent road among the
melancholy woods. The pastor of a neighboring flock, the Reverend Darius
Dizzle, was driving by in his modest one-horse chaise.

"Take a seat, Fizzle?" said he. "Don't care if I do," said Fizzle,--and
took it.

"Why, the mischief, Fizzle," said Dizzle, "did you say in your
farewell-sermon, that it was just as well to preach to the dead buried
six feet under the earth as to the people of Drowsytown?"

_"I?--I?--I?"_ gasped the astonished Fizzle. "A more alive and wakeful
people are not upon the earth than the citizens of Drowsytown. What
calumniator has thus outraged them and _me_? Who told you this? _Who_
dared to say it?"

"Brother Ichabod Muzzle," calmly answered Dizzle.

Fizzle leaped out, hurried to his home, and was soon seen whipping his
unfortunate horse in a certain direction. He was on his way to the
residence of the Reverend Ichabod Muzzle, who lived five or six miles
off. He reached the home of the Reverend Ichabod. The friends greeted
each other. Fizzle, though pregnant with indignation, assumed the
benignant air of the Beloved Disciple. Muzzle looked Platonically the
incarnate idea of the Christian Parson.

"Fine day," said Fizzle.

"Lovely," said Muzzle.

"Glorious view from this window," observed Fizzle.

"Superb," replied Muzzle.

"The beauties of Nature are calming and consolatory," murmured Fizzle.

"And so are the doctrines of grace," whispered Muzzle.

Fizzle could hold out no longer. Still he tried to look the placid, and
to speak with meekness.

"Pray, how did it come, Brother Muzzle," said Fizzle, "that you reported
I declared in my farewell-sermon it was as easy to preach to the dead
buried six feet under the earth as to the people of Drowsytown?"

"You have been grossly misinformed, my brother," replied Muzzle. "I
didn't say _six feet_. I said _four feet_."

In Hood we have all varieties of wit and humor, both separate and

As we have already observed, the grotesque is that which is most
obviously distinctive in Hood's writings. But in different degrees it
is combined with other elements, and in each combination altered and
modified. The combination which more immediately arrests attention is
that with the ludicrous. In this the genius of Hood seemed to hold a
very festival of antics, oddity, and mirth; all his faculties seemed
to rant and riot in the Saturnalia of comic incongruity. And it is
difficult to say whether, in provoking laughter, his pen or his pencil
is the more effective instrument. The mere illustrations of the
subject-matter are in themselves irresistible. They reach at once and
directly the instinctive sense of the ludicrous, and over them youth and
age cachinnate together. We have seen a little girl, eight years old,
laugh as if her heart would break, in merely looking at the pictures in
a volume of Hood. The printed page she did not read or care to read;
what the prints illustrated she knew nothing about; but her eyes danced
with joy and overran with tears of childish merriment. But in all this
luxury of fun, whether by pen or pencil, no word, idea, image, or
delineation obscures the transparency of innocence, or leaves the shadow
of a stain upon the purest mind. To be at the same time so comic and so
chaste is not only a moral beauty, but a literary wonder. It is hard to
deal with the oddities of humor, however carefully, without casual slips
that may offend or shame the reverential or the sensitive. Noble, on the
whole, as Shakspeare was, we would not in a mixed company, until after
cautious rehearsal, venture to read his comic passages aloud. We may
apply the statement, also, to the comic portions of Burns,--and,
indeed, to comic literature in general. But who has fear to read most
openly anything that Hood ever wrote? or who has a memory of wounded
modesty for anything that he ever read secretly of Hood's? Dr. Johnson
says that dirty images were as natural to Swift as sublime ones were to
Milton;--we may say that images at once lambent and laughable were those
which were natural to Hood. Even when his mirth is broadest, it is
decent; and while the merest recollection of his drollery will often
convulse the face in defiance of the best-bred muscles, no thought
arises which the dying need regret. Who can ever forget "The Lost
Heir," or remember it but to laugh at its rich breadth of natural, yet
farcical, absurdity? The very opening begins the giggle:--

"One day, as I was going by
That part of Holborn christened High," etc.

Then there is that broadest of broad, but morally inoffensive stories,
in which the laundress, in trying to cure a smoking chimney, blows
herself to death, having merely power to speak a few words to
Betty,--who gaspingly explains to her mistress "The Report from Below":--

"Well, Ma'am, you won't believe it,
But it's gospel fact and true,
But these words is all she whispered,--
_'Why, where is the powder blew?_'"

For other examples refer to "The Ode to Malthus" and "The Blow-up,"
which pain the sides while they cheer the heart.

Again, we find the grotesque through Hood's writings in union with
the fantastic and the fanciful. His fertility in the most unexpected
analogies becomes to the reader of his works a matter of continual
wonder. Strange and curious contrasts and likenesses, both mental and.
verbal, which might never once occur even to a mind of more than common
eccentricity and invention, seem to have been in his mind with the
ordinary flow of thinking. Plenteous and sustained, therefore, as his
wit is, it never fails to startle. We have no doubt of his endless
resources, and yet each new instance becomes a new marvel. His wit, too,
is usually pregnant and vital with force and meaning. This constitutes
the singular and peculiar worth of his verbal wit in general, and of his
puns in particular. In verbal wit he has had but few equals, and in puns
he has had none. He made the pun an instrument of power; and had his wit
been malignant, he could have pointed the pun to a sharpness that would
have left wounds as deep as thought, and could have added a poison to it
that would have kept them rankling as long as memory lasted. The secret
of his power in the pun is, that he does not rest in the analogy of
sound alone, but seeks also for analogy of significance. Generally there
is a subtile coincidence between his meaning and what the sound of the
pun signifies, and thus the pun becomes an amusing or illustrative
image, or a most emphatic and striking condensation of his thought.
"Take care of your cough," he writes to his engraver, "lest you go to
coughy-pot, as I said before; but I did _not_ say before, that nobody is
so likely as a wood-engraver to cut his stick." Speaking of his wife, he
says,--"To be sure, she still sticks to her old fault of going to sleep
while I am dictating, till I vow to change my _Woman_uensis for a
_Man_uensis." How keenly and well the pun serves him in burlesque, in
his comic imitations of the great moralist! He hits off with inimitable
ridicule the great moralist's dislike to Scotland. Boswell inquired the
Doctor's opinion on illicit distillation, and how the great moralist
would act in an affray between the smugglers and the excise. "If I went
by the _letter_ of the law, I should assist the customs; but according
to the _spirit_, I should stand by the contrabandists." The Doctor was
always very satirical on the want of timber in the North. "Sir," said he
to the young Lord of Icombally, who was going to join his regiment, "may
Providence preserve you in battle, and especially your nether limbs! You
may grow a walking-stick here, but you must import a wooden leg." At
Dunsinnane the old prejudice broke out. "Sir," said he to Boswell,
"Macbeth was an idiot; he ought to have known that every wood in
Scotland might be carried in a man's hand. The Scotch, Sir, are like the
frogs in the fable: if they had a log, they would make a king of it." We
will quote here a stanza which contains quite a serious application of
the pun; and for Hood's purpose no other word could so happily or so
pungently express his meaning. The poem is an "Address to Mrs. Fry"; and
the doctrine of it is, that it is better and wiser to teach the young
and uncorrupted that are yet outside the prison than the vicious and the
hardened who have got inside it. Thus he goes on:--

"I like your chocolate, good Mistress Fry!
I like your cookery in every way;
I like your Shrove-tide service and supply;
I like to hear your sweet Pandeans play;
I like the pity in your full-brimmed eye;
I like your carriage and your silken gray,
Your dove-like habits, and your silent preaching;
But I don't like your _Newgatory_ teaching."

Hood had not only an unexampled facility in the discovery of analogies
in a multitude of separate resemblances and relations, but he had an
equal facility of tracing with untiring persistency a single idea
through all its possible variations. Take, for example, the idea
of _gold_, in the poem of "Miss Kilmansegg," and there is hardly a
conceivable reference to _gold_ which imagination or human life can
suggest, that is not presented to us.

But this play of words and thought would, after all, be in itself little
more than serious trifling, a mere exhibition of mental and verbal
ingenuity. It would be a kind of intellectual and linguistical
dexterity, which would give the author a singularity and supremacy
above the world. It would make him the greatest of mental acrobats or
jugglers, and he might almost deserve as eminent a reputation as a
similar class of artists in bodily achievements; possibly he might claim
to be ranked with the man who cooked his dinner and ate it on a tight
rope over the Niagara Rapids, or with the man who placed a pea-nut under
a dish-cover and turned it into the American eagle. Such, however, is
not Hood's case. In all feats of mental and verbal oddity, he does,
indeed, rank the highest,--but _that_ is the very lowest of his
attainments. His pranks do verily cause us to laugh and wonder; but
there is also that ever in his pranks which causes us to think, and
even sometimes to weep. In much of his that seems burlesque, the most
audacious, there are hidden springs of thought and tears. Often, when
most he seems as the grimed and grinning clown in a circus girded by
gaping spectators, he stops to pour out satire as passionate as that of
Juvenal, or morality as eloquent and as pure as that of Pascal. And this
he does without lengthening his face or taking off his paint. Sometimes,
when he most absurdly scampers in his thoughts, when he kicks up the
heels of his fancy in the most outrageous fashion, he is playing as it
most doth please him on our human sympathy, and the human heart becomes
an instrument to his using, out of which he discourseth eloquent music
according to his moods. The interest one finds in reading Hood is often
the sudden pleasure which comes upon him. When in the midst of what
appears a wilful torrent of absurdity, there bursts out a rush of
earnest and instinctive nature. We could quote enough in confirmation
of this assertion to make a moderate volume. And then the large and
charitable wisdom, which in Hood's genius makes the teacher humble
in order to win the learner, we value all the more that it conceals
authority in the guise of mirth, and under the coat of motley or the
mantle of extravagance insinuates effective and salutary lessons.

No writer has ever so successfully as Hood combined the grotesque
with the terrible. He has the art, as no man but himself ever had, of
sustaining the illusion of an awful or solemn narrative through a long
poem, to be closed in a catastrophe that is at once unexpected and
ludicrous. The mystification is complete; the secret of the issue is
never betrayed; suspense is maintained with Spartan reticence; curiosity
is excited progressively to its utmost tension; and the surprise at the
end is oftentimes electric. "A Storm at Hastings" and "The Demon
Ship" are of this class. But sometimes the terrible so prevails as to
overpower the ludicrous, or rather, it becomes more terrible by the very
presence of the ludicrous. We have evidence of this in the poem called
"The Last Man." Sometimes we find the idea of the supernatural added to
the ludicrous with great moral and imaginative effect. Observe with
what pathetic tenderness this is done in the "Ode to the Printer's
Devil,"--with what solemn moral power in "The Tale of a Trumpet,"--and
with what historical satire and social insight in "The Knight and the
Dragon." Sometimes the ludicrous element entirely disappears, and we
have the purely terrible,--the terrible in itself, as in "The Tower of
Lahneck,"--the terrible in pathos, as in "The Work-House Clock,"--the
terrible in penitence and remorse, as in "The Lady's Dream,"--the
terrible in temptation and despair, as in "The Dream of Eugene Aram."

Hood, as we have seen, is a perfect master equally of the grotesque and
the terrible. Some writers, it may be, were as powerful as he in the
grotesque. Rabelais had a certain hugeness in it, which Hood did not
have and did not need. Other writers transcended Hood in the region of
the terrible. It is almost useless to name such sublime masters of it as
Dante, Shakspeare, and Milton. But in the intermingling of the grotesque
and terrible, and in the infinite diversification of them as thus
united, not only has Hood no equal, but no rival. In some few marked
and outward directions of his genius he may have imitators; but in this
magical alchemy of sentiment, thought, passion, fancy, and imagination,
the secret of his laboratory was _his_ alone; no other man has
discovered it, and no other man, as he did, could use it. But he worked
in the purely ideal also;--if he did not work supremely, he worked well,
as we have proof in many of his serious poems, and particularly in
his "Plea for the Midsummer Fairies." And when aroused,--but that
was rarely,--he could wield a burningly satiric pen, and with manly
indignation and impassioned scorn wield it to chastise the hypocritical
and the arrogant, as his letter to a certain pious lady and his "Ode to
Rae Wilson" bear sufficient witness.

Along with the grotesque and terrible in Hood's writings we also often
observe a wizard-like command over the elements of the desolate, the
weird, the sad, the forlorn, and the dreary. We may trace it in many of
the poems to which we have already alluded. But it appears with all its
lonely gloom of power in "The Haunted House." This poem is surely the
work of a fancy that must have often gone into the desert of the soul
to meditate, and that must have made itself acquainted with all that is
dismal in imagery and feeling. Pictures, in succession or combination,
it would be impossible to conceive, which more dolefully impress the
mind with a sense of doom, dread, and mystery; yet every picture is in
itself natural, and, while each adds to the intensity of the impression,
each is in itself complete.

Now, having gone over some of the most noticeable qualities in the
writings of Hood, we come to the crowning quality of his genius,
the _simply pathetic_. We could, if space remained, adduce many
psychological and other reasons why we apply this phrase to the pathos
of Hood. One reason is, that Hood's pathos involves none of the
complications of higher passion, nor any of the pomp which belongs, in
mood, situation, or utterance, to the loftier phases of human suffering.
The sorrow of those who most attracted his sympathy was not theatrical
or imposing. It has been well said of him, that his "bias was towards
all that was poor and unregarded." And thus, while those who painfully
moved the charity and compassion of his genius were considered by him
the victims of artificial civilization, his own feeling for them was
natural and instinctive; yet never did natural and instinctive feeling
receive expression more artistic, but with that admirable art in which
elaboration attains the utmost perfection of simplicity. It excites
our wonder to observe how in pathos Hood's genius divests itself of
attributes which had seemed essential to its existence. All that is
grotesque, whimsical, or odd disappears, and we have only the soul of
pity in the sound of song,--in song "most musical, most melancholy." In
pathos, Hood's is not what we should call a transformed genius so much
as a genius becoming divested of its coarser life, and then breathing
purely the inner spirit of goodness and beauty. The result is what one
might almost term the "absolute" in pathos. Nothing is excluded that is
necessary to impression; nothing is admitted that could vulgarize or
weaken it. We have thus pathos at once practical and poetic,--pathos at
once the most affecting and the most ideal,--coming from a heart rich
with all human charities, and gaining worthy and immortal form by means
of a subtile, deep, cultivated imagination. The pathetic, therefore, no
less than the comic, in Hood's writings has all the author's peculiar
originality, but has it in a higher order. Pathos was the product of
the author's mind when it was most matured by experience, and
when suffering, without impairing its strength, had refined its
characteristic benevolence to the utmost tenderness.

Hood's pathos culminates in "The Song of the Shirt," "The Lay of the
Laborer," and "The Bridge of Sighs."

These are marvellous lyrics. In spirit and in form they are singular
and remarkable. We cannot think of any poems which more show the mystic
enchantment of genius. How else was a ragged sempstress in a squalid
garret made immortal, nay, made universal, made to stand for an entire
sisterhood of wretchedness? Here is the direst poverty, blear-eyed
sorrow, dim and dismal suffering,--nothing of the romantic. A stern
picture it is, which even the softer touches render sterner; still there
is nought in it that revolts or shocks; it is deeply poetic, calls into
passionate action the feelings of reverence and pity, and has all the
dignity of tragedy. Even more wonderful is the transformation that a
rustic hind undergoes in "The Lay of the Laborer," in which a peasant
out of work personifies, with eloquent impressiveness, the claims and
calamities of toiling manhood. But an element of the sublime is added in
"The Bridge of Sighs." In that we have the truly tragic; for we have in
it the union of guilt, grief, despair, and death. An angel from heaven,
we think, could not sing a more gentle dirge, or one more pure; yet
the ordinary associations suggested by the corpse of the poor, ruined,
self-murdered girl are such as to the prudish and fastidious would not
allow her to be mentioned, much less bring her into song. But in the
pity almost divine with which Hood sings her fate there is not only a
spotless delicacy, there is also a morality as elevated as the heavenly
mercy which the lyrist breathes. The pure can afford to be pitiful; and
the life of Hood was so exemplary, that he had no fear to hinder him
from being charitable. The cowardice of conscience is one of the saddest
penalties of sin; and to avert suspicion from one's self by severity to
others is, indeed, the most miserable expediency of self-condemnation.
The temper of charity and compassion seems natural to men of letters and
of art. They are emotional and sensitive, and by the necessity of their
vocation have to hold much communion with the inmost consciousness of
our nature; they thus learn the weakness of man, and the allowances that
he needs; they are conversant with a broad and diversified humanity, and
thence they are seldom narrow, intolerant, or self-righteous; feeling,
too, their full share of moral and mortal imperfection, they refuse
to be inquisitors of the unfortunate, but rather choose to be their
advocates and helpers. No man ever had more of this temper than Hood;
and out of it came these immortal lyrics upon which we have been
commenting. For such a temper the writing of these lyrics was exceeding
great reward; not only because they made the author an everlasting
benefactor to the poor, but also because they became an interpretation
of his own deeper genius, and revealed a nobler meaning in his works
than had ever before been discerned. Hence-forth, he was more thought of
as a profound poet than as the greatest of mimes, jesters, and punsters.
The lyrics of the poor saved him from imminent injustice.--All that we
have further to say of these lyrics is to express our admiration as to
the classical finish of their diction, and as to the wild, sweet, and
strange music in their sadly sounding measures.

Hood is a writer to whom, in his degree, we may apply the epithet
_Shakspearian_. We do not, indeed, compare him with Shakspeare in bulk
or force of genius, but only in quality and kind. He had, as the great
dramatist, the same disregard of the temporary and discernment of the
essential; the same wonderful wealth of vocabulary, and the same bold
dexterity in the use of it; the same caprices of jestings and conceits;
the same comminglings of mirth and melancholy; the same many-sided
conception of existence; the same embracing catholicity of tastes and
tendencies; the same indifference to sects and factions; the same
freedom from jealousies, asperities, and spites; and in the lower scale
of his genius, he resembled the mighty dramatist in subtile perception
of life and Nature, in his mental and moral independence, and in his
intuitive divinations of abstract truth and individual character.

As a poet of the poor, Crabbe is the only poet with whom he can be
critically compared. The comparison would be a contrast; and in order to
handle it to any purpose, a long essay would be required. Hood wrote
but a few short lyrics on the poor; Crabbe wrote volumes. Crabbe was
_literal_: Hood _ideal_. Crabbe was concrete; Hood was abstract. Crabbe
lived among the rural poor; Hood among the city poor. Crabbe saw the
poor constantly, and went minutely and practically into the interior of
their life; if Hood ever directly saw them at all, it was merely with
casual glimpses, and he must have learned of them only by occasional
report. Crabbe was a man of vigorous constitution, he lived a hardy
life, and he lived it long; Hood was a man of feeble health, he lived a
life of pain, and he closed it early. Crabbe had a hard youth, but
after that a certain and settled competence; Hood's was also a youth of
struggle, but struggle was his destiny to the end. These radical and
circumstantial differences between the men will account for their
different modes in thinking and writing of the poor. But both were men
of genius, of genial humanity, and of singular originality. No one who
reads Crabbe's writings will deny him genius; no one who reads them with
adequate sympathy and attention will deny that his genius is vital with
passion and imagination. Only the latent heat of passion and imagination
could save these seemingly bald and monotonous narratives from being as
dull as a dictionary. But they are not so; they have an interest which
holds the reader with a fixedness of grasp which he cannot loosen.
Crabbe's poetry of the poor is slow and epic; Hood's is rapid
and lyrical. Crabbe's characters are only actual and intensified
individuals; Hood's characters are idealized and representative persons.
Hood gives you only the pathetic or tragical essentials; but, along
with these, Crabbe gives you the complexity and detail of life which
surrounded them. Hood presents you with the picture of a lonely woman at
midnight toiling and starving in the slavery of sewing; but Crabbe would
trace her from her quiet country-home, through the follies which led her
to a London garret. Hood, in his "Lay of the Laborer," makes you listen
to the wail of a strong man imploring leave to toil; Crabbe would find
him drunk in the beer-house or the gin-shop, and then carry you on to
the catastrophe in his ruined home or in his penal death. Hood, in his
"Bridge of Sighs," brings you into the presence of death, and you gaze,
weeping, over the lifeless form of beauty that had once been innocent
and blooming girlhood, but from which the spirit, early soiled and
saddened, took violent flight in its despair; Crabbe would give us the
record of her sins, and connect her end retributively with her
conduct. Much is in Crabbe that is repulsive and austere; but he is,
notwithstanding, an earnest moral teacher and a deep tragic poet. Let
us be content with both Crabbe and Hood: we need to look at the aspect
which each of them gives us of life,--the stern poetry of fact in
Crabbe, and the lyrical poetry of feeling in Hood. Crabbe has dealt with
groups and masses; Hood has immortalized single figures, which, by their
isolation and intensity, take full and forcible possession of the mind,
and can never be driven out from memory.

This is a rather serious conclusion of an article on a comic genius. As
the humorist is for the most part on the play-side of literature, he
should, we are apt to suppose, be entirely on the play-side of life.
He ought to laugh and grow fat,--and he ought to have an easy-chair to
laugh in. Why should he who makes so many joyous not have the largest
mess of gladness to his share? He ought to be a favored Benjamin at the
banquet of existence,--and have, above the most favored of his
brethren, a double portion. He ought, like the wind, to be "a chartered
libertine,"--to blow where he listeth, and have no one to question
whence he cometh or whither he goeth. He ought to be the citizen of a
comfortable world, and he ought to have an ungrudged freedom in it. What
debt is he should not be allowed to learn or to know,--and the idea of
a dun it should not be possible for him even to conceive. Give him good
cheer; enrich the juices of his blood, nourish generously the functions
of his brain; give him delicate viands and rosy wine; give him smiles
and laughter, music and flowers; let him inherit every region of
creation, and be at home in air and water as well as on the earth; at
last, in an Anacreontic bloom of age, let him in a song breathe away his
life. Such is the lot, we believe, that many imagine as the condition
of a humorist; but which the humorist, less than most men, has ever
enjoyed. All great humorists have been men grave at heart, and often
men of more than ordinary trials. None but the superficial can fail to
recognize the severity of Rabelais's genius. The best portion of poor
Moliere's manhood was steeped in sorrow. The life of Swift was a hidden
tragedy. The immortal wit of "Hudibras" did not save Butler from the
straits and struggles of narrow means. Cervantes spent much of his time
in a prison, and much of his grandest humor had there its birthplace.
Farquhar died young, and in terrible distress of mind at the desolate
prospect that he saw before his orphan children. How Sheridan died is
familiar to us all. The very conditions of temperament which gave Sterne
genius gave him also torment. Fielding and Smollett battled all their
lives with adversity; and Goldsmith died in his prime, embittered in
his last hours by distress and debt. Banim, the great Irish novelist,
withered early out of life upon a government pittance of a pension;
Griffin gave up literature, became a monk, and found in youth a grave;
Carleton, one of the most gifted humorists that ever painted the
many-colored pictures of Irish character, is now struggling against the
pressure of a small income in his advancing years. Not to carry this
melancholy list farther,--which might be indefinitely prolonged,--we
close it with the name of Thomas Hood.

But not by contest with realities of life alone have humorists been
saved from temptations to any dangerous levity; great humorists, as we
have said, have generally been earnest men, very grave at heart, and
much that they have written has been tragedy in the guise of irony. All
readers cannot find this out. They cannot see the grief of life beneath
its grin; they cannot detect the scorn or the pity that is hidden in
joke or banter; neither can they always find out the joke or banter that
is covered by a solemn face; and many a sincere believer has been deemed
an atheist because he burlesqued hypocrites with their own gravity.
Numbers judge only by the outside, and never reach the spirit of
writing or of man. They laugh at the contortions of grimace, but of the
mysteries of mind or the pains of heart which underlie the contortions
they know nothing. They snatch their rapid pleasure, and leave unvalued
the worth of him who gives it; they care not for the cost of genius
or labor at which it has been procured; and when they have had their
transient indulgence, they have had all they sought and all that they
could enjoy.

The relation of many to the humorist is illustrated by that of the
doctor, on a certain occasion, to Liston, the celebrated comedian.
Liston was subject to constitutional melancholy, and in a severe attack
of it he consulted a famous physician.

"Go and see Liston," said the doctor.

"I am Liston," said the actor.

And thus the inner soul of a great humorist is often as unrecognized
by those who read him as was the natural personality of Liston by the


Every man when he first crosses the ocean is a Columbus to himself, no
matter how many voyages by other navigators he may have heard described
or read recorded. Geographies convince only the brain, not the senses,
that the globe is round; and when personal experience exhibits the fact,
it is as wonderful as if never before suggested. You have dwelt for
weeks within one unbroken loneliness of sea and sky, with nothing that
seemed solid in the universe but the bit of painted wood on which you
have floated. Suddenly one morning something looms high and cloudlike
far away, and you are told that it is land. Then you feel, with all
ignorant races, as if the ship were a god, thus to find its way over
that trackless waste, or as if this must be some great and unprecedented
success, and in no way the expected or usual result of such enterprises.
A sea-captain of twenty-five years' experience told me that this
sensation never wore off, and that he still felt as fresh a sense of
something extraordinary, on making land, as upon his first voyage. To
discover for one's self that there is really another side to the ocean,
--that is the astonishing thing. And when it happens, as in our case,
that the haven thus gained is not merely a part of a great continent
which the stupidest ship could not miss, if it only sailed far enough,
but is actually a small volcanic island, a mere dot among those wild
waves, a thing which one might easily have passed in the night,
unsuspecting, and which yet was not so passed,--it really seems like the
maddest piece of good-luck, as if one should go to sea in a bowl, hoping
somewhere or other to land on the edge of a tea-cup.

As next day we stumbled on deck in the foggy dawn, the dim island five
miles off seemed only dawning too, a shapeless thing, half-formed out of
chaos, as if the leagues of gray ocean had grown weary of their eternal
loneliness, and bungled into something like land at last. The phrase
"_making_ land" at once became the simple and necessary expression; we
had come upon the very process itself. Nearer still, the cliffs five
hundred feet in height, and the bare conical hills of the interior,
divided everywhere by cane-hedges into a regular checker-work of
cultivation, prolonged the mystery; and the glimpses of white villages
scarcely seemed to break the spell. Point after point we passed,--great
shoulders of volcanic mountain thrust out to meet the sea, with steep
green ravines furrowed in between them; and when at last we rounded the
Espalamarca, and the white walls and the Moorish towers of Horta stood
revealed before us, and a stray sunbeam pierced the clouds on the great
mountain Pico across the bay, and the Spanish steamship in the harbor
flung out her gorgeous ensign of gold and blood--then, indeed, we felt
that all the glowing cup of the tropics was proffered to our lips, and
the dream of our voyage stood fulfilled.

Not one of our immediate party, most happily, had ever been beyond
Boston Harbor before, and so we all plunged without fear or apology into
the delicious sense of foreignness; we moved as those in dreams. No one
could ever precisely remember what we said or what we did, only that we
were somehow boated ashore till we landed with difficulty amid high surf
on a wave-worn quay, amid an enthusiastic throng of women in dark-blue
hooded cloaks which we all took for priestly vestments, and of beggars
in a combination of patches which no sane person could reasonably take
for vestments of any sort, until one saw how scrupulously they were
washed and how carefully put together.

The one overwhelming fact of the first day abroad is the simple
sensation that one _is_ abroad: a truth that can never be made anything
but commonplace in the telling, or anything but wonderful in the
fulfilling. What Emerson says of the landscape is true here: no
particular foreign country is so remarkable as the necessity of being
remarkable under which every foreign country lies. Horace Walpole found
nothing in Europe so astonishing as Calais; and we felt that at every
moment the first edge of novelty was being taken off for life, and that,
if we were to continue our journey round the world, we never could have
that first day's sensations again. Yet because no one can spare time to
describe it at the moment, this first day has never yet been described;
all books of travels begin on the second day; the daguerreotype-machine
is not ready till the expression has begun to fade out. Months had been
spent in questioning our travelled friends, sheets of old correspondence
had been disinterred, sketches studied, Bullar's unsatisfactory book
read, and now we were on the spot, and it seemed as if every line and
letter must have been intended to describe some other place on the
earth, and not this strange, picturesque, Portuguese, Semi-Moorish

One general truth came over us instantly, and it was strange to think
that no one had happened to speak of it before. The essence of the
surprise was this. We had always been left to suppose that in a foreign
country one would immediately begin to look about and observe the
foreign things,--these novel details having of course that groundwork of
ordinary human life, the same all the world over. To our amazement,
we found that it was the groundwork itself that was foreign; we were
shifted off our feet; not the details, but the basis itself was wholly
new and bewildering; and, instead of noting down, like intelligent
travellers, the objects which were new, we found ourselves stupidly
staring about to find something which was old,--a square inch of surface
anywhere which looked like anything ever seen before,--that we might
take our departure from that, and then begin to improve our minds.
Perhaps this is difficult for the first hours in any foreign country;
certainly the untravelled American finds it utterly impossible in Fayal.
Consider the incongruities. The beach beneath your feet, instead of
being white or yellow, is black; the cliffs beside you are white or
red, instead of black or gray. The houses are of white plaster on the
outside, with wood-work, often painted in gay stripes, within. There are
no chimneys to the buildings, but sometimes there is a building to the
chimney; the latter being a picturesque tower with smoke coming from
the top and a house appended to the base. One half the women go about
bareheaded, save a handkerchief, and with a good deal of bareness at the
other extremity,--while the other half wear hoops on their heads in the
form of vast conical hoods attached to voluminous cloth cloaks which
sweep the ground. The men cover their heads with all sorts of burdens,
and their feet with nothing, or else with raw-hide slippers, hair
outside. There is no roar or rumble in the streets, for there are
no vehicles and no horses, but an endless stream of little donkeys,
clicking the rough pavement beneath their sharp hoofs, and thumped
solidly by screaming drivers. Who wears the new shoes on the island does
not appear; but the hens limp about the houses, tethered to the old

Further inspection reveals new marvels. The houses are roofed with red
and black tiles, semi-cylindrical in shape and rusty in surface, and
making the whole town look as if incrusted with barnacles. There is
never a pane of glass on the lower story, even for the shops, but only
barred windows and solid doors. Every house has a paved court-yard for
the ground-floor, into which donkeys may be driven and where beggars or
peasants may wait, and where one naturally expects to find Gil Blas in
one corner and Sancho Panza in another. An English lady, on arriving,
declared that our hotel was only a donkey-stable, and refused to enter
it. In the intervals between the houses the streets are lined with solid
stone walls from ten to twenty feet high, protecting the gardens behind;
and there is another stone wall inclosing the town on the water side,
as if to keep the people from being spilled out. One must go some miles
into the country before getting beyond these walls, or seeing an inch,
on either side. This would be intolerable, of course, were the country
a level; but, as every rod of ground slopes up or down, it simply seems
like walking through a series of roofless ropewalks or bowling-alleys,
each being tilted up at an angle, so that one sees the landscape through
the top, but never over the sides. Thus, walking or riding, one seldom
sees the immediate foreground, but a changing background of soft
valleys, an endless patchwork of varied green rising to the mountains in
the interior of the island, or sinking to the blue sea, beyond which the
mountain Pico rears its graceful outline across the bay.

From the street below comes up a constant hum of loud voices, often
rising so high that one runs to see the fight commence, and by the time
one has crossed the room it has all subsided and everybody is walking
off in good-humor. Meanwhile the grave little donkeys are constantly
pattering by, sometimes in pairs or in fours with a cask slung between;
and mingled with these, in the middle of the street, there is an endless
stream of picturesque figures, everybody bearing something on the
head,--girls, with high water-jars, each with a green bough thrust in,
to keep the water sweet,--boys, with baskets of fruit and vegetables,
--men, with boxes, bales, bags, or trunks for the custom-house, or an
enormous fagot of small sticks for firewood, or a long pole hung with
wooden jars of milk, or with live chickens, head downward, or perhaps
a basket of red and blue and golden fishes, fresh from the ocean and
glistening in the sun. The strength of their necks seems wonderful, as
does also their power of balancing. On a rainy day I have seen a tall
man walk gravely along the middle of the street through the whole length
of the town, bearing a large empty cask balanced upon his head, over
which he held an umbrella.

Perhaps it is a procession-day, and all the saints of some church are
taken out for an airing. They are figures composed of wood and wax,
life-size, and in full costume, each having a complete separate
wardrobe, but more tawdry and shabby, let us hope, than the originals
ever indulged in. Here are Saint Francis and Saint Isabella, Saint Peter
with a monk kneeling before him, and Saint Margaret with her dog, and
the sceptred and ermined Saint Louis, and then Joseph and Mary sitting
amicably upon the same platform, with an additional force of bearers
to sustain them. For this is the procession of the _Bem-casados_ or
Well-married, in honor of the parents of Jesus. Then there are lofty
crucifixes and waving flags; and when the great banner, bearing simply
the letters S.P.Q.R., comes flapping round the windy corner, one starts
in wonder at the permanent might of that vast superstition which has
grasped the very central symbol of ancient empire, and brought it down,
like a boulder on a glacier, into modern days. It makes all Christianity
seem but a vast palimpsest, since the letters which once meant "_Senatus
Populusque Romanus_" stand now only for the feebler modern formula,
"_Salve populum quem redemisti_."

All these shabby splendors are interspersed among the rank and file of
two hundred, or thereabouts, lay brethren of different orders, ranging
in years from six to sixty. The Carmelites wear a sort of white
bathing-dress, and the Brotherhood of Saint Francis are clothed in long
brown robes, girded with coarse rope. The very old and the very young
look rather picturesque in these disguises,--the latter especially,
urchins with almost baby-faces, toddling along with lighted candle in
hand; and one often feels astonished to recognize some familiar porter
or shopkeeper in this ecclesiastical dress, as when discovering a
pacific next-door neighbor beneath the bear-skin of an American military
officer. A fit suggestion; for next follows a detachment of Portuguese
troops-of-the-line,--twenty shambling men in short jackets, with hair
shaved close, looking most like children's wooden monkeys, by no means
live enough for the real ones. They straggle along, scarcely less
irregular in aspect than the main body of the procession; they march
to the tap of the drum. I never saw a Fourth-of-July procession in the
remotest of our rural districts which was not beautiful, compared to
this forlorn display; but the popular homage is duly given, the bells
jangle incessantly, and, as the procession passes, all men uncover their
heads or have their hats knocked off by official authority.

Still watching from our hotel-window, turn now from the sham
picturesqueness of the Church to the real and unconscious
picturesqueness of every day. It is the orange-season, and beneath us
streams an endless procession of men, women, and children, each bearing
on the head a great graceful basket of yellow treasures. Opposite our
window there is a wall by which they rest themselves, after their
three-mile walk from the gardens. There they lounge and there they
chatter. Little boys come slyly to pilfer oranges, and are pelted away
with other oranges; for a single orange has here no more appreciable
value than a single apple in our farmers' orchards; and, indeed,
windfall oranges are left to decay, like windfall apples. During
this season one sees oranges everywhere, even displayed as a sort of
thank-offering on the humble altars of country-churches; the children's
lips and cheeks assume a chronic yellowness; and the narrow side-walks
are strewn with bits of peel, punched through and through by the boys'
pop-guns, as our boys punch slices of potato.

All this procession files down, the whole day long, to the orange-yards
by the quay. There one finds another merry group, or a series of groups,
receiving and sorting the fragrant loads, papering, packing, boxing. In
the gardens there seems no end to the varieties of the golden fruit,
although only one or two are here being packed. There are shaddocks,
_zamboas,_ limes, sour lemons, sweet lemons, oranges proper, and
_Tangerinas_; these last being delicate, perfumed, thin-skinned,
miniature-fruit from the land of the Moors. One may begin to eat oranges
at Fayal in November; but no discriminating person eats a whole orange
before March,--a few slices from the sunny side, and the rest is thrown
upon the ground. One learns to reverse the ordinary principles of
selection also, and choose the smaller and darker before the large and
yellow: the very finest in appearance being thrown aside by the packers
as worthless. Of these packers the Messrs. Dabney employ two hundred,
and five hundred beside in the transportation. One knows at a glance
whether the cargo is destined for America or England: the English boxes
having the thin wooden top bent into a sort of dome, almost doubling the
solid contents of the box. This is to evade the duty, the custom-house
measurement being taken only at the corners. It also enables the London
dealers to remove some two hundred oranges from every box, and still
send it into the country as full.--When one thinks what a knowing race
we came from, it is really wonderful where we Yankees picked up our

Let us take one more glance from the window; for there is a mighty
jingling and rattling, the children are all running to see something,
and the carriage is approaching. "The carriage": it is said advisedly;
for there is but one street on the island passable to such an equipage,
and but one such equipage to enjoy its privileges,--only one, that is,
drawn by horses, and presentable in Broadway. There are three other
vehicles, each the object of envy and admiration, but each drawn by oxen
only. There is the Baroness, the only lady of title, who sports a sort
of butcher's cart, with a white top; within lies a mattress, and on the
mattress recline her ladyship and her daughter, as the cart rumbles and
stumbles over the stones;--nor they alone, for, on emerging from an
evening party, I have seen the oxen of the Baroness, unharnessed,
quietly munching their hay at the foot of the stairs, while a pair of
bare feet emerging from one end of the vehicle, and a hearty snore from
the other, showed the mattress to be found a convenience by some one
beside the nobility. Secondly, there is a stout gentleman near the
Hotel, reputed to possess eleven daughters, and known to possess a
pea-green omnibus mounted on an ox-cart; the windows are all closed with
blinds, and the number of young ladies may be an approximation only.
And, lastly, there sometimes rolls slowly by an expensive English
curricle, lately imported; the springs are somehow deranged, so that it
hangs entirely on one side; three ladies ride within, and the proprietor
sits on the box, surveying in calm delight his two red oxen with their
sky-blue yoke, and the tall peasant who drives them with a goad.

After a few days of gazing at objects like these, one is ready to recur
to the maps, and become statistical. It would be needless to say (but
that we all know far less of geography than we are supposed to know)
that the Azores are about two-thirds of the way across the Atlantic, and
about the latitude of Philadelphia; sharing, however, in the greater
warmth of the European coast, and slightly affected, also, by the Gulf
Stream. The islands are supposed to have been known to the Phoenicians,
and Humboldt holds out a flattering possibility of Phoenician traces yet
discoverable. This lent additional interest to a mysterious inscription
which we hunted up in a church built in the time of Philip II., at the
north end of the island; we had the satisfaction of sending a copy of it
to Humboldt, though it turned out to be only a Latin inscription clothed
in uncouth Greek characters, such as have long passed for Runic in the
Belgian churches and elsewhere. The Phoenician traces yet remain to be
discovered; so does a statue fabled to exist on the shore of one of the
smaller islands, where Columbus landed in some of his earlier voyages,
and, pacing the beach, looked eagerly towards the western sea: the
statue is supposed still to portray him. In the fifteenth century, at
any rate, the islands were re-discovered. They have always since then
been under Portuguese control, including in that phrase the period when
Philip II. united that crown with his own; and they are ruled now
by Portuguese military and civil governors, with the aid of local

Fayal stands, with Pico and San Jorge, rather isolated from the rest of
the group, and out of their sight. It is the largest and most populous
of the islands, except St. Michael and Terceira; it has the best harbor
and by far the most of American commerce, St. Michael taking most of the
English. Whalers put into Fayal for fresh vegetables and supplies, and
to transship their oil; while distressed vessels often seek the harbor
to repair damages. The island is twenty-five miles long, and shaped like
a turtle; the cliffs along the sea range from five hundred to a thousand
feet in height, and the mountainous interior rises to three thousand.
The sea is far more restless than upon our coast, the surf habitually
higher; and there is such a depth of water in many places around the
shore, that, on one occasion, a whale-ship, drawn too near by the
current, broke her mainyard against the cliff, without grazing her keel.

The population numbers about twenty-five thousand, one-half of these
being found in the city of Horta, and the rest scattered in some forty
little hamlets lying at irregular distances along the shores. There are
very few English or French residents, and no Americans but the different
branches of the Consul's family,--a race whose reputation for all
generous virtues has spread too widely to leave any impropriety in
mentioning them here. Their energy and character have made themselves
felt in every part of the island; and in the villages farthest from
their charming home, one has simply to speak of _a familia_, "the
family," and the introduction is sufficient. Almost every good
institution or enterprise on the island is the creation of Mr. Dabney.
He transacts without charge the trade in vegetables between the peasants
and the whale-ships, guarantying the price to the producers, giving them
the profits, if any, and taking the risk himself; and the only provision
for pauperism is found in his charities. Every Saturday, rain or shine,
there flocks together from all parts of the island a singular collection
of aged people, lame, halt, and blind, who receive, to the number of two
hundred, a weekly donation of ten cents each, making a thousand dollars
annually, which constitutes but a small part of the benefactions of this
remarkable man, the true father of the island, with twenty-five thousand
grown children to take care of.

Ten cents a week may not seem worth a whole day's journey on foot, but
by the Fayal standard it is amply worth it. The usual rate of wages for
an able-bodied man is sixteen cents a day; and an acquaintance of ours,
who had just got a job on the roads at thirty cents a day, declined a
good opportunity to emigrate to America, on the ground that it was best
to "let well alone." Yet the price of provisions is by no means very
low, and the difference is chiefly in abstinence. But fuel and clothing
cost little, since little is needed,--except that no woman thinks
herself really respectable until she has her great blue cloak, which
requires an outlay of from fifteen to thirty dollars, though the whole
remaining wardrobe may not be worth half that. The poorer classes pay
about a dollar a month in rent; they eat fish several times a week
and meat twice or thrice a year, living chiefly upon the coarsest
corn-bread, with yams and beans. Still they contrive to have their
luxuries. A soldier's wife, an elderly woman, said to me pathetically,
"We have six _vintems_ (twelve cents) a day,--my husband smokes and I
take snuff,--and how _are_ we to buy shoes and stockings?" But the most
extreme case of economy which I discovered was that of a poor old woman,
unable to tell her own age, who boarded with a poor family for four
_patacos_ (twenty cents) a month, or five cents a week. She had, she
said, a little place in the chimney to sleep in, and when they had too
large a fire, she went out of doors. Such being the standard of ordinary
living, one can compute the terrors of the famine which has since
occurred in Fayal, and which has only been relieved through the
contributions levied in this country, and the energy of Mr. Dabney.

Steeped in this utter poverty,--dwelling in low, dark, smoky huts, with
earthen floors,--it is yet wonderful to see how these people preserve
not merely the decencies, but even the amenities of life. Their clothes
are a chaos of patches, but one sees no rags; all their well-worn white
garments are white in the superlative degree; and when their scanty
supply of water is at the scantiest, every bare foot on the island is
sure to be washed in warm water at night. Certainly there are fleas
and there are filthinesses in some directions; and yet it is amazing,
especially for one accustomed to the Irish, to see an extreme of poverty
so much greater, with such an utter absence of squalidness. But when all
this is said and done, the position of the people of Fayal is an abject
one, that is, it is a _European_ position; it teaches more of history
in a day to an untravelled American than all his studies had told
him besides,--and he returns home ready to acquiesce in a thousand
dissatisfactions, in view of that most wondrous of all recorded social
changes, the transformation of the European peasant into the American

Fayal is not an expensive place. One pays six dollars a week at an
excellent hotel, and there is nothing else to spend money on, except
beggars and donkeys. For a shilling an hour one can go to ride, or, as
the Portuguese phrase perhaps circuitously expresses it, go to walk
on horseback on a donkey,--_dar um passeio a cavallo n'um burro_. The
beggars, indeed, are numerous; but one's expenditures are always happily
limited by the great scarcity of small change. A half-cent, however,
will buy you blessings enough for a lifetime, and you can find an
investment in almost any direction. You visit some church or cemetery;
you ask a question or two of a lounger in a black cloak, with an air
like an exiled Stuart, and, as you part, he detains you, saying, "Sir,
will you give me some little thing, (_alguma cousinha_,)--I am so poor?"
Overwhelmed with a sense of personal humility, you pull out three
half-cents and present them with a touch of your hat, he receives them
with the same, and you go home with a feeling that a distinguished honor
has been done you. The Spaniards say that the Portuguese are "mean even
in their begging": they certainly make their benefactors mean; and I can
remember returning home, after a donation of a whole _pataco_, (five
cents,) with a debilitating sense of too profuse philanthropy.

It is inevitable that even the genteel life of Fayal should share this
parsimony. As a general rule, the higher classes on the island, socially
speaking, live on astonishingly narrow means. How they do it is a
mystery; but families of eight contrive to spend only three or four
hundred dollars a year, and yet keep several servants, and always appear
rather stylishly dressed. The low rate of wages (two dollars a month at
the very highest) makes servants a cheap form of elegance. I was told of
a family employing two domestics upon an income of a hundred and twenty
dollars. Persons come to beg, sometimes, and bring a servant to carry
home what is given. I never saw a mechanic carry his tools; if it be
only a hammer, the hired boy must come to fetch it.

Fortunately, there is not much to transport, the mechanic arts being in
a very rudimentary condition. For instance, there are no saw-horses nor
hand-saws, the smallest saw used being a miniature wood-saw, with the
steel set at an angle, in a peculiar manner. It takes three men to saw a
plank: one to hold the plank, another to saw, and a third to carry away
the pieces.

Farming-tools have the same simplicity. It is one odd result of the
universal bare feet that they never will use spades; everything is done
with a hoe, most skilfully wielded. There are no wheelbarrows, but
baskets are the universal substitutes. The plough is made entirely of
wood, only pointed with iron, and is borne to and from the field on
the shoulder. The carts are picturesque, but clumsy; they are made of
wicker-work, and the iron-shod wheels are solidly attached to the axle,
so that all revolves together, amid fearful creaking. The people could
not be induced to use a cart with movable wheels which was imported from
America, nor will they even grease their axles, because the noise is
held to drive away witches. Some other arts are a little more advanced,
as any visitor to Mr. Harper's pleasant Fayal shop in Boston may
discover. They make homespun cloth upon a simple loom, and out of their
smoky huts come beautiful embroideries and stockings whose fineness is
almost unequalled. Their baskets are strong and graceful, and I have
seen men sitting in village doorways, weaving the beautiful broom-plant,
yellow flowers and all, until basket and bouquet seemed one.

The greater part of the surface of the island is cultivated like a
kitchen-garden, even up to the top of volcanic cones eight hundred feet
high, and accessible only by steps cut in the earth. All the land
is divided into little rectangular patches of various verdure,
--yellow-blossomed broom, blue-flowering flax, and the contrasting
green of lupines, beans, Indian corn, and potatoes. There is
not a spire of genuine grass on the island, except on the Consul's lawn,
but wilds covered with red heather, low _faya_-bushes, (whence the name
of the island,) and a great variety of mosses. The cattle are fed on
beans and lupines. Firewood is obtained from the opposite island of
Pico, five miles off, and from the _Caldeira_ or Crater, a pit five
miles round and fifteen hundred feet deep, at the summit of Fayal,
whence great fagots are brought upon the heads of men and girls. It is
an oversight in the "New American Cyclopaedia" to say of Fayal that "the
chief object of agriculture is the vine," because there are not a half
dozen vineyards on the island, the soil being unsuitable; but there
are extensive vineyards on Pico, and these are owned almost wholly by
proprietors resident in Fayal.

There is a succession of crops of vegetables throughout the year; peas
are green in January, which is, indeed, said to be the most verdant
month of the twelve, the fields in summer becoming parched and yellow.
The mercury usually ranges from 50 deg. to 80 deg., winter and summer; but
we were there during an unusually cool season, and it went down to 45 deg..
This was regarded as very severe by the thinly clad Fayalese, and I
sometimes went into cottages and found the children lying in bed to keep
warm. Yet roses, geraniums, and callas bloomed out of doors all the
time, and great trees of red camellia, which they cut as we cut roses.
Superb scarlet banana-flowers decked our Christmas-Tree. Deciduous trees
lose their leaves in winter there, however, and exotic plants retain the
habits they brought with them, with one singular exception. The _Morus
multicaulis_ was imported, and the silk-manufacture with it; suddenly
the trees seemed to grow bewildered, they put forth earlier and earlier
in the spring, until they got back to January; the leaves at last fell
so early that the worms died before spinning cocoons, and the whole
enterprise was in a few years abandoned because of this vegetable

In spite of the absence of snow and presence of verdure, this falling of
the leaves gives some hint of winter; yet blackbirds and canaries sing
without ceasing. The latter are a variety possessing rather inferior
charms, compared with the domestic species; but they have a pretty habit
of flying away to Pico every night: it was pleasant to sit at sunset
on the high cliffs at the end of the island and watch the little brown
creatures, like fragments of the rock itself, whirled away over the
foaming ocean. The orange-orchards were rather a disappointment; they
suggested quince-trees with more shining leaves; and, indeed, there was
a hard, glossy, coriaceous look to the vegetation generally, which made
us sometimes long for the soft, tender green of more temperate zones.
The novel beauty of the Dabney gardens can scarcely be exaggerated;
each step was a new incursion into the tropics,--a palm, a magnolia, a
camphor-tree, a dragon-tree, suggesting Humboldt and Orotava, a clump
of bamboos or cork-trees, or the startling strangeness of the great
grass-like banana, itself a jungle. There are hedges of pittosporum,
arbors veiled by passion-flowers, and two of that most beautiful of all
living trees, the _araucaria_, or Norfolk Island pine,--one specimen
being some eighty feet high, and said to be the tallest north of the
equator. And when over all this luxuriant exotic beauty the soft clouds
furled away and the sun showed us Pico, we had no more to ask, and the
soft, beautiful blue cone became an altar for our gratitude, and the
thin mist of hot volcanic air that flickered above it seemed the rising
incense of the world.

In the midst of all these charming surprises, we found it hard to begin
at once upon the study of the language, although the prospect of a
six-months' stay made it desirable. We were pleased to experience
the odd, stupid sensation of having people talk loud to us as being
foreigners, and of seeing even the little children so much more at their
ease than we were. And every step beyond this was a new enjoyment. We
found the requisites for learning a language on its own soil to be
a firm will, a quick ear, flexible lips, and a great deal of cool
audacity. Plunge boldly in, expecting to make countless blunders; find
out the shops where they speak English, and don't go there; make your
first bargains at twenty-five per cent. disadvantage, and charge it as
a lesson in the language; expect to be laughed at, and laugh yourself,
because you win. The daily labor is its own reward. If it is a pleasure
to look through a telescope in an observatory, gradually increasing its
powers until a dim nebula is resolved into a whole galaxy of separate
stars, how much more when the nebula is one of language around you, and
the telescope is your own more educated ear!

We discovered further, what no one had ever told us, that the ability to
speak French, however poorly, is rather a drawback in learning any less
universal language, because the best company in any nation will usually
have some knowledge of French, and this tempts one to remain on neutral
ground and be lazy. But the best company in Fayal was so much less
interesting than the peasantry, that some of us persevered in studying
the vernacular. To be sure, one finds English spoken by more of the
peasants than of the small aristocracy of the island, so many of the
former have spent some years in American whale-ships, and come back to
settle down with their savings in their native village. In visiting the
smaller hamlets on the island, I usually found that the owners of the
two or three most decent houses had learned to speak English in this
way. But I was amused at the dismay of an American sea-captain who on a
shooting excursion ventured on some free criticisms on the agriculture
of a farm, and was soon answered in excellent English by the proprietor.

"Look at the foolish fellow," quoth the captain, "carrying his plough to
the field on his shoulder!"

"Sir," said the Portuguese, coolly, "I have no other way to take it

The American reserved his fire, thereafter, for bipeds with wings.

These Americanized sailors form a sort of humbler aristocracy in Fayal,
and are apt to pride themselves on their superior knowledge of the
world, though their sober habits have commonly saved them from the
demoralization of a sailor's life. But the untravelled Fayalese
peasantry are a very gentle, affectionate, childlike people, pensive
rather than gay, industrious, but not ingenious, with few amusements and
those the simplest, incapable of great crimes or very heroic virtues,
educated by their religion up to the point of reverent obedience, but no

Their grace and beauty are like our impressions of the Italian
peasantry, and probably superior to the reality in that case. Among
the young men and boys, especially, one sees the true olive cheeks and
magnificent black eyes of Southern races. The women of Fayal are not
considered remarkable for beauty, but in the villages of Pico one sees
in the doorways of hovels complexions like rose-petals, and faces such
as one attributes to Evangeline, soft, shy, and innocent. But the
figure is the chief wonder, the figure of woman as she was meant to be,
beautiful in superb vigor,--not diseased and tottering, as with us, but
erect and strong and stately; every muscle fresh and alive, from the
crown of the steady head, to the sole of the emancipated foot,--and
yet not heavy and clumsy, as one fancies barefooted women must be, but
inheriting symmetry and grace from the Portuguese or Moorish blood. I
have looked through the crowded halls of Saratoga in vain for one
such figure as I have again and again seen descending those steep
mountain-paths with a bundle of firewood on the head, or ascending them
with a basket of farm-manure. No person who has never left America can
appreciate the sensation of living among healthy women; often as I heard
of this, I was utterly unprepared for the realization; I never lost the
conscious enjoyment of it for a single day; and when I reached home and
walked across Boston Common on a June Sunday, I felt as if I were in a
hospital for consumptives.

This condition of health cannot be attributed to any mere advantage of
climate. The higher classes of Fayal are feeble and sickly; their diet
is bad, they take no exercise, and suffer the consequences; they have
all the ills to which flesh is heir, including one specially Portuguese
complaint, known by the odd name of _dor do cotovelo_, elbow-disease,
which corresponds to that known to Anglo-Saxons, by an equally bold
symbol, as the green-eyed monster, Jealousy. So the physical superiority
of the peasantry seems to come solely from their mode of life,--out-door
labor, simple diet, and bare feet. Change these and their health goes;
domestic service in foreign families on the island always makes them
ill, and often destroys their health and bloom forever; and strange
to say, that which most nauseates and deranges their whole physical
condition, in such cases, is the necessity of wearing shoes and

The Pico peasants have also the advantage of the Fayalese in
picturesqueness of costume. The men wear homespun blue jackets and blue
or white trousers, with a high woollen cap of red or blue. The women
wear a white waist with a gay kerchief crossed above the bosom, a full
short skirt of blue, red, or white, and a man's jacket of blue, with
tight sleeves. On the head there is the pretty round-topped straw hat
with red and white cord, which is now so extensively imported from
Fayal; and beneath this there is always another kerchief, tied under the
chin, or hanging loosely. The costume is said to vary in every village,
but in the villages opposite Horta this dress is worn by every woman
from grandmother to smallest granddaughter; and when one sails across
the harbor, in the lateen-sail packet-boat, and old and young come forth
on the rocks to see the arrival, it seems like voyaging to some realm of

This out-door life begins very early. As soon as the Fayalese baby is
old enough to sit up alone, he is sent into the nursery. The nursery
is the sunny side of the house-door. A large stone is selected, in a
convenient position, and there the little dusky creature squats, hour
after hour, clad in one garment at most, and looking at the universe
through two black beads of eyes. Often the little dog comes and suns
himself close by, and the little cat beside the dog, and the little pig
beside the cat, and the little hen beside the pig,--a "Happy Family," a
row of little traps to catch sunbeams, all down the lane. When older,
the same child harnesses his little horse and wagon, he being the horse
and a sheep's jawbone the wagon, and trots contentedly along, in almost
the smallest amount of costume accessible to mortals. All this refers
to the genuine, happy, plebeian baby. The genteel baby is probably as
wretched in Fayal as elsewhere, but he is kept more out of sight.

These children are seldom noisy and never rude: the race is not
hilarious, and their politeness is inborn. Not an urchin of three can be
induced to accept a sugar-plum until he has shyly slid off his little
cap, if he has one, and kissed his plump little hand. The society of
princes can hardly surpass the natural courtesy of the peasant, who
insists on climbing the orange-tree to select for you the choicest
fruit. A shopkeeper never can sell you a handful of nuts without
bringing the bundle near to his lips, first, with a graceful wave of
salutation. A lady from Lisbon told us that this politeness surpassed
that of the native Portuguese; and the wife of an English captain, who
had sailed with her husband from port to port for fifteen years, said
that she had never seen anything to equal it. It is not the slavishness
of inferiors, for the poorest exhibit it towards each other. You see
two very old women talking eagerly in the street, each in a cloak whose
every square inch is a patch, and every patch a different shade,--and
each alternate word you hear seems to be _Senhora_. Among laboring men,
the most available medium of courtesy is the little paper cigar; it
contains about four whiffs, and is smoked by about that number of
separate persons.

But to fully appreciate this natural courtesy, one must visit the
humbler Fayalese at home. You enter a low stone hut, thatched and
windowless, and you find the mistress within, a robust, black-eyed,
dark-skinned woman, engaged in grinding corn with a Scriptural handmill.
She bars your way with apologies; you must not enter so poor a house;
you are so beautiful, so perfect, and she is so poor, she has "nothing
but the day and the night," or some equally poetic phrase. But you enter
and talk with her a little, and she readily shows you all her little
possessions,--her chest on the earthen floor, her one chair and stool,
her tallow-candle stuck against the wall, her husk mattress rolled
together, with the precious blue cloak inside of it. Behind a curtain
of coarse straw-work is a sort of small boudoir, holding things more
private, an old barrel with the winter's fuel in it, a few ears of corn
hanging against the wall, a pair of shoes, and a shelf with a large
pasteboard box. The box she opens triumphantly and exhibits her
_santinhos_, or little images of saints. This is San Antonio, and this
is Nossa Senhora do Conceicao, Our Lady of the Conception. She prays to
them every day for sunshine; but they do not seem to hear, this
winter, and it rains all the time. Then, approaching the climax of her
blessedness, with beaming face she opens a door in the wall, and shows
you her pig.

The courtesy of the higher classes tends to formalism, and has stamped
itself on the language in some very odd ways. The tendency common to all
tongues, towards a disuse of the second person singular, as too blunt
and familiar, is carried so far in Spanish and Portuguese as to disuse
the second person plural also, except in the family circle, and to
substitute the indirect phrases, _vuestra Merced_ (in Spanish) and
_vossa Merce_ (in Portuguese), both much contracted in speaking and
familiar writing, and both signifying "your Grace." The joke of
invariably applying this epithet to one's valet would seem sufficiently
grotesque in either language, and here the Spanish stops; but Portuguese
propriety has gone so far that even this phrase has become too hackneyed
to be civil. In talking with your equals, it would be held an insult
to call them simply "your Grace"; it must be some phrase still more
courtly,--_vossa Excellencia_, or _vossa Senhoria_.--One may hear an
elderly gentleman talking to a young girl of fourteen, or, better still,
two such damsels talking together, and it is "your Excellency" at every
sentence; and the prescribed address on an envelope is _"Illustrissima
Excellentissima Senhora Dona Maria_." The lower classes have not quite
reached the "Excellency," but have got beyond the "Grace," and hence the
personal pronouns are in a state of colloquial chaos, and the only safe
way is to hold to the third person and repeat the name of Manuel or
Maria, or whatever it may be, as often as possible.

This leads naturally to the mention of another peculiar usage. On
visiting the Fayal post-office, I was amazed to find the letters
arranged alphabetically in the order of the baptismal, not the family
names, of the persons concerned,--as if we should enumerate Adam,
Benjamin, Charles, and so on. But I at once discovered this to be the
universal usage. Merchants, for instance, thus file their business
papers; or rather, since four-fifths of the male baptismal names in the
language fall under the four letters, A, F, J, M, they arrange only five
bundles, giving one respectively to Antonio, Francisco, Jose or Joao,
and Manuel, adding a fifth for sundries. This all seemed inexplicable,
till at last there proved to be an historical kernel to the nut. The
Portuguese, and to some extent the Spaniards, have kept nearer to the
primitive usage which made the personal name the important one and the
patronymic quite secondary. John Smith is not known conversationally as
Mr. Smith, but as Mr. John,--Senhor Joao. One may have an acquaintance
in society named Senhor Francisco, and another named Senhora Dona
Christina, and it may be long before it turns out that they are brother
and sister, the family name being, we will suppose, Garcia da Rosa; and
even then it will be doubtful whether to call them Garcia or da Rosa.
This explains the great multiplication of names in Spain and Portugal.
The first name being the important one, the others may be added,
subtracted, multiplied, or divided, with perfect freedom. A wife may or
may not add her husband's name to her own; the eldest son takes some of
the father's family names, the second son some of the mother's, saints'
names are sprinkled in to suit the taste, and no confusion is produced,
because the first name is the only one in common use. Each may, if he
pleases, carry all his ancestors on his visiting-card, without any
inconvenience except the cost of pasteboard.

Fayal exhibits another point of courtesy to be studied. The gentleman of
our party was early warned that it was very well to learn his way about
the streets, but far more essential to know the way to the brim of his
hat. Every gentleman touches his hat to every lady, acquaintance or
stranger, in street or balcony. So readily does one grow used to this,
that I was astonished, for a moment, at the rudeness of some French
officers, just landed from a frigate, who passed some ladies, friends
of mine, without raising the hat. "Are these," I asked, "the polite
Frenchmen one reads about?"--not reflecting that I myself should not
have ventured on bowing to strange ladies in the same position, without
special instruction in Portuguese courtesies. These little refinements
became, indeed, very agreeable, only alloyed by the spirit of caste in
which they were performed,--elbowing the peasant-woman off the sidewalk
for the sake of doffing the hat to the Baroness. I thought of the
impartial courtesies shown towards woman as woman in my own country, and
the spread eagle within me flapped his pinions. Then I asked myself,
"What if the woman were black?" and the eagle immediately closed his
wings, and flapped no more. But I may add, that afterwards, attending
dances among the peasants, I was surprised to see my graceful swains in
humble life smoking and spitting in the presence of white-robed belles,
in a manner not to be witnessed on our farthest western borders.

The position of woman in Portuguese countries brings one nearer to that
Oriental type from which modern society has been gradually diverging.
Woman is secluded, so far as each family can afford it, which is the key
to the Oriental system. Seclusion is aristocracy, and if it cannot be
made complete, the household must do the best they can. Thus, in the
lowest classes, one daughter is often decreed by the parents to be
brought up like a lady, and for this every sacrifice is to be made. Her
robust sisters go bare-footed to the wells for water, they go miles
unprotected into the lonely mountains; no social ambition, no genteel
helplessness for them. But Mariquinha is taught to read, write, and sew;
she is as carefully looked after as if the world wished to steal her;
she wears shoes and stockings and an embroidered kerchief and a hooded
cloak; and she never steps outside the door alone. You meet her, pale
and demure, plodding along to mass with her mother. The sisters will
marry laborers and fishermen; Mariquinha will marry a small shop-keeper
or the mate of a vessel, or else die single. It is not very pleasant for
the poor girl in the mean time; she is neither healthy nor happy; but
"let us be genteel or die."

On _festa_-days she and her mother draw their hoods so low and their
muffling handkerchiefs so high that the costume is as good as a
_yashmak_, and in passing through the streets these one-eyed women seem
like an importation from the "Arabian Nights." Ladies of higher rank,
also, wear the hooded cloak for disguise and greater freedom, and at a
fashionable wedding in the cathedral I have seen the jewelled fingers of
the uninvited acquaintances gleam from the blue folds of broadcloth. But
very rarely does one see the aristocratic lady in the street in her own
French apparel, and never alone. There must be a male relative, or a
servant, or, at the very least, a female companion. Even the ladies of
the American Consul's family very rarely go out singly,--not from any
fear, for the people are as harmless as birds, but from etiquette. The
first foreign lady who walked habitually alone in the streets was at
once christened "The Crazy American." A lady must not be escorted home
from an evening party by a gentleman, but by a servant with a lantern;
and as the streets have no lamps, I never could see the breaking-up of
any such entertainment without recalling Retzsch's quaint pictures of
the little German towns, and the burghers plodding home with their
lanterns,--unless, perchance, what a foreign friend of ours called a
"sit-down chair" came rattling by, and transferred our associations to
Cranford and Mr. Winkle.

We found or fancied other Orientalisms. A visitor claps his hands at
the head of the court-yard stairs, to summon an attendant. The solid
chimneys, with windows in them, are precisely those described by
Urquhart in his delightful "Pillars of Hercules"; so are the gardens,
divided into clean separate cells by tall hedges of cane; so is the game
of ball played by the boys in the street, under the self-same Moorish
name of _arri_; so is the mode of making butter, by tying up the
cream in a goat-skin and kicking it till the butter comes. Even the
architecture fused into one all our notions of Gothic and of Moorish,
and gave great plausibility to Urquhart's ingenious argument for
the latter as the true original. And it is a singular fact that the
Mohammedan phrase _Oxald_, "Would to Allah," is still the most familiar
ejaculation in the Portuguese language and the habitual equivalent in
their religious books for "Would to God."

We were treated with great courtesy and hospitality by our Portuguese
neighbors, and an evening party in Fayal is in some respects worth
describing. As one enters, the anteroom is crowded with gentlemen, and
the chief reception-room seems like a large omnibus, lighted, dressed
with flowers, and having a row of ladies on each side. The personal
beauty is perhaps less than one expects, though one sees some superb
dark eyes and blue-black hair; they dress with a view to the latest
French fashions, and sometimes rather a distant view. At last a lady
takes her seat at the piano, then comes an eager rush of gentlemen into
the room, and partners are taken for cotillons,--large, double, _very_
double cotillons, here called _contradancas_. The gentlemen appear in
scrupulous black broadcloth and satin and white kid; in summer alone
they are permitted to wear white trousers to parties; and we heard of
one anxious youth who, about the turn of the season, wore the black and
carried the white in his pocket, peeping through the door, on arrival,
to see which had the majority. It seemed a pity to waste such gifts of
discretion on a monarchical country, when he might have emigrated to
America and applied them to politics.

The company perform their dancing with the accustomed air of civilized
festivity, "as if they were hired to do it, and were doubtful about
being paid." Changes of figure are announced by a clapping of hands from
one of the gentlemen, and a chorus of such applauses marks the end of
the dance. Then they promenade slowly round the room, once or twice, in
pairs; then the ladies take their seats, and instantly each gentleman
walks hurriedly into the anteroom, and for ten minutes there is as
absolute a separation of the sexes as in a Friends' Meeting. Nobody
approves of this arrangement, in the abstract; it is all very well, they
think, for gentlemen, if foreigners, to remain in the room, but it is
not the Portuguese custom. Yet, with this exception, the manners are
agreeably simple. Your admission to the house guaranties you as a proper
acquaintance, there are no introductions, and you may address any one in
any language you can coin into a sentence. Many speak French, and two or
three English,--sometimes with an odd mingling of dialects, as when the
Military Governor answered my inquiry, made in timid Portuguese, as to
how long he had served in the army. _"Vinte-cinco annos,"_ he answered,
in the same language; then, with an effort after an unexceptionable
translation, "Vat you call, Twenty-cinq year"!

The great obstacle to the dialogue soon becomes, however, a deficit of
subjects rather than of words. Most of these ladies never go out except
to mass and to parties, they never read, and if one of them has some
knowledge of geography, it is quite an extended education; so that, when
you have asked them if they have ever been to St. Michael, and they have
answered, Yes,--or to Lisbon, and they have answered, No,--then social
intercourse rather flags. I gladly record, however, that there were some
remarkable exceptions to this, and that we found in the family of
the late eminent Portuguese statesman, Mousinho d'Albuquerque,
accomplishments and knowledge which made their acquaintance an honor.

During the intervals of the dancing, little trays of tea and of cakes
are repeatedly carried round,--astonishing cakes, in every gradation of
insipidity, with the oddest names: white poison, nuns' kisses, angels'
crops, cats' tails, heavenly bacon, royal eggs, coruscations, cocked
hats, and _esquecidos_, or oblivion cakes, the butter being omitted. It
seems an unexpected symbol of the plaintive melancholy of the Portuguese
character that the small confections which we call kisses they call
sighs, _suspiros_. As night advances, the cakes grow sweeter and the
dances livelier, and the pretty national dances are at last introduced;
though these are never seen to such advantage as when the peasants
perform them on a Saturday or Sunday evening to the monotonous strain of
a viola, the musician himself taking part in the complicated dance, and
all the men chanting the refrain. Nevertheless they add to the gayety of
our genteel entertainment, and you may stay at the party as long as you
have patience,--if till four in the morning, so much the better for your
popularity; for, though the gathering consist of but thirty people, they
like to make the most of it.

Perhaps the next day one of these new friends kindly sends in a present
for the ladies of the party: a bouquet of natural flowers with the
petals carefully gilded; a _folar_ or Easter cake, being a large loaf of
sweetened bread, baked in a ring, and having whole eggs, shell and all,
in the midst of it. One lady of our acquaintance received a pretty
basket, which being opened revealed two little Portuguese pigs, about
eight inches long, snow-white, wearing blue ribbons round their necks
and scented with cologne.

Beyond these occasional parties, there seems very little society during
the winter, the native ladies seldom either walking or riding, and there
being no places of secular amusement. In summer, it is said, when the
principal families resort to their vineyards at Pico, formalities are
laid aside, and a simpler intercourse takes place. But I never saw any
existence more thoroughly pitiable than that of the young men of the
higher classes; they had literally nothing to do, except to dress
themselves elegantly and lounge all day in an apothecary's shop. A
very few went out shooting or fishing occasionally; but anything like
employment, even mercantile, was entirely beneath their caste; and they
only pardoned the constant industry of the American Consul and his
family, as a sort of national eccentricity, for which they must not be
severely condemned.

A good school-system is being introduced into all the Portuguese
dominions, but there is no book-store in Fayal, though some dry-goods
dealers sell a few religious books. We heard a rumor of a Portuguese
"Uncle Tom" also, but I never could find the copy. The old Convent
Libraries were sent to Lisbon, on the suppression of the monasteries,
and never returned. There was once a printing-press on the island, but
one of the Governors shipped it off to St. Michael. "There it goes," he
said to the American Consul, "and the Devil take it!" The vessel was
wrecked in the bay. "You see," he afterwards piously added, "the Devil
_has_ taken it." It is proper, however, to mention, that a press and a
newspaper have been established since our visit, without further Satanic

Books were scarce on the island. One official gentleman from Lisbon,
quite an accomplished man, who spoke French fluently and English
tolerably, had some five hundred books, chiefly in the former tongue,
including seventy-two volumes of Balzac. His daughter, a young lady of
fifteen, more accomplished than most of the belles of the island, showed
me her little library of books in French and Portuguese, including three
English volumes, an odd selection,--"The Vicar of Wakefield," Gregory's
"Legacy to his Daughters," and Fielding's "Life of Jonathan Wild." But,
indeed, her supply of modern Portuguese literature was almost as scanty,
(there is so very little of it,) and we heard of a gentleman's studying
French "in order to have something to read," which seemed the last stage
in national decay.

Perhaps we were still more startled by the unexpected literary
criticisms of a young lady from St. Michael, English on the father's
side, but still Roman Catholic, who had just read the New Testament,
and thus naively gave it her indorsement in a letter to an American
friend:--"I dare say you have read the New Testament; but if you have
not, I recommend it to you. I have just finished reading it, and find it
_a very moral and nice book_." After this certificate, it will be safe
for the Bible Society to continue its operations.

Nearly all the popular amusements in Fayal occur in connection with
religion. After the simpler buildings and rites of the Romish Church in
America, the Fayal churches impress one as vast baby-houses, and the
services as acted charades. This perfect intermingling of the religious
and the melodramatic was one of our most interesting experiences, and
made the Miracle Plays of history a very simple and intelligible thing.
In Fayal, holiday and holy-day have not yet undergone the slightest
separation. A festival has to the people necessarily some religious
association, and when the Americans celebrate the Fourth of July, Mr.
Dabney's servants like to dress with flowers a wooden image in his
garden, the fierce figure-head of some wrecked vessel, which they boldly
personify as the American Saint. On the other hand, the properties of
the Church are as freely used for merrymaking. On public days there are
fireworks provided by the priests; they are kept in the church till the
time comes, and then touched off in front of the building, with very
limited success, by the sacristan. And strangest of all, at the final
puff and bang of each remarkable piece of pyrotechny, the bells ring
out just the same sudden clang which marks the agonizing moment of the
Elevation of the Host.

On the same principle, the theatricals which occasionally enliven the
island take place in chapels adjoining the churches. I shall never
forget the example I saw, on one of these dramatic occasions, of that
one cardinal virtue of Patience, which is to the Portuguese race the
substitute for all more positive manly qualities. The performance was
to be by amateurs, and a written programme had been sent from house to
house during the day; and this had announced the curtain as sure to
rise at eight. But as most of the spectators went at six to secure
places,--literally, places, for each carried his or her own chair,--one
might suppose the audience a little impatient before the appointed hour
arrived. But one would then suppose very incorrectly. Eight o'clock
came, and a quarter past eight, but no curtain rose. Half-past eight. No
movement nor sign of any. The people sat still. A quarter to nine. The
people sat still. Nine o'clock. The people sat perfectly still, nobody
talking much, the gentlemen being all the while separated from the
ladies, and all quiet. At last, at a quarter past nine, the orchestra
came in! They sat down, laid aside their instruments, and looked about
them. Suddenly a whistle was heard behind the scenes. Nothing came of
it, however. After a time, another whistle. The people sat still. Then
the orchestra began to tune their instruments, and at half-past nine the
overture began. And during all that inexplicable delay of one hour and a
half, after a preliminary waiting of two hours, there was not a single
look of annoyance or impatience, nor the slightest indication, on any
face, that this was viewed as a strange or extraordinary thing. Indeed,
it was not.

We duly attended, not on this occasion only, but on all ecclesiastical
festivals, grave or gay,--the only difficulty being to discover any
person in town who had even approximate information as to when or where
they were to occur. We saw many sights that are universal in Roman
Catholic countries, and many that are peculiar to Fayal: we saw the
"Procession of the Empress," when, for six successive Saturday evenings,
young girls walk in order through the streets white-robed and crowned;
saw the vessels in harbor decorated with dangling effigies of Judas, on
the appointed day; saw the bands of men at Easter going about with flags
and plates to beg money for the churches, and returning at night with
feet suspiciously unsteady; saw the feet-washing, on Maundy-Thursday, of
twelve old men, each having a square inch of the instep washed, wiped,
and cautiously kissed by the Vicar-General, after which twelve lemons
were solemnly distributed, each with a silver coin stuck into the peel;
saw and felt the showers of water, beans, flour, oranges, eggs, from the
balcony-windows during Carnival; saw weddings in churches, with groups
of male companions holding tall candles round kneeling brides; saw the
distribution to the poor of bread and meat and wine from long tables
arranged down the principal street, on Whitsunday,--a memorial vow, made
long since, to deprecate the recurrence of an earthquake. But it must be
owned that these things, so unspeakably interesting at first, became a
little threadbare before the end of the winter; we grew tired of the
tawdriness and shabbiness which pervaded them all, of the coarse faces
of the priests, and the rank odor of the incense.

We had left Protestantism in a state of vehement intolerance in America,
but we soon found, that, to hear the hardest things said against the
priesthood, one must visit a Roman Catholic country. There was no end
to the anecdotes of avarice and sensuality in this direction, and there
seemed everywhere the strangest combination of official reverence with
personal contempt. The principal official, or _Ouvidor_, was known among
his parishioners by the endearing appellation of "The Black Pig," to
which his appearance certainly did no discredit. There was a great
shipwreck at Pico during our stay, and two hundred thousand dollars'
worth of rich goods was stranded on the bare rocks; there were no
adequate means for its defence, and the peasants could hardly be
expected to keep their hands off. But the foremost hands were those of
the parish priest; for three weeks no mass was said in his church, and
a funeral was left for days unperformed, that the representative of God
might steal more silks and laces. When the next service occurred, the
people remained quiet until the priest rose for the sermon; then they
rose also tumultuously, and ran out of the church, crying, "_Ladrao!_"
"Thief!" "But why this indignation?" said an intelligent Roman Catholic
to us; "there is not a priest on either island who would not have done
the same." A few days after I saw this same cool critic, candle in hand,
heading a solemn ecclesiastical procession in the cathedral.

In the country-villages there naturally lingers more undisturbed the
simple, picturesque life of Roman Catholic society. Every hamlet is
clustered round its church, almost always magnificently situated, and
each has its special festivals. Never shall I forget one lovely day when
we went to witness the annual services at Praya, held to commemorate an
ancient escape from an earthquake. It was the first day of February.
After weeks of rain, there came at one burst all the luxury of June,
winter seemed to pass into summer in a moment, and blackbirds sang on
every spray. We walked or rode over a steep promontory, down into a
green valley, scooped softly to the sea: the church was by the beach. As
we passed along, the steep paths converging from all the hills were full
of women and men in spotless blue and white, with bright kerchiefs;
they were all walking barefooted over the rocky ways, only the women
stopping, ere reaching the church, to don stockings and shoes. Many
persons sat in sunny places by the roadsides to beg, with few to beg
from,--blind old men, and groups of children clamorous for coppers, but
propitiated by sugar-plums. Many others were bringing offerings, candles
for the altar, poultry, which were piled, a living mass, legs tied, in
the corner of the church, and small sums of money, which were recorded
by an ancient man in a mighty book. The church was already so crowded
that it was almost impossible to enter; the centre was one great
flower-garden of headdresses of kneeling women, and in the aisles were
penitents, toiling round the church upon their knees, each bearing a
lighted candle. But the services had not yet begun, and we went down
among the rocks to eat our luncheon of bread and oranges; the ocean
rolled in languidly, a summer sea; we sat beside sheltered, transparent
basins, among high and pointed rocks, and great, indolent waves
sometimes reared their heads, looking in upon our retreat, or flooding
our calm pools with a surface of creamy effervescence. Every square inch
of the universe seemed crowded with particles of summer.

On our way past the church, we had caught a glimpse of unwonted black
small-clothes, and, slyly peeping into a little chapel, had seen the
august Senate of Horta apparently arraying themselves for the ceremony.
Presently out came a man with a great Portuguese flag, and then the
Senators, two and two, with short black cloaks, white bands, and
gold-tipped staves, trod statelily towards the church. And as we
approached the door, on our return, we saw these dignitaries sitting in
their great arm-chairs, as one might fancy Venetian potentates, while a
sonorous Portuguese sermon rolled over their heads as innocuously as a
Thanksgiving discourse over any New-England congregation.

Do not imagine, by the way, that critical remarks on sermons are a
monopoly of Protestantism. After one religious service in Fayal, my
friend, the Professor of Languages, who sometimes gave lessons in
English, remarked to me confidentially, in my own tongue,--"His sermon
is good, but his _exposition_ is bad; he does not _expose_ well."
Supposing him to refer to the elocution, I assented,--secretly thinking,
however, that the divine in question had exposed himself exceedingly

Another very impressive ceremony was the Midnight Mass on New Year's
Eve, when we climbed at midnight, through some close, dark passages in
the vast church edifice, into a sort of concealed opera-box above
the high altar, and suddenly opened windows looking down into the
brilliantly lighted cathedral, crammed with kneeling people and
throbbing with loud music. It seemed centuries away from all modern
life,--a glimpse into some buried Pompeii of the Middle Ages. More
impressive still was Holy Week, when there were some rites unknown to
other Roman Catholic countries. For three days the great cathedral was
closely veiled from without and darkened within,--every door closed,
every window obscured. Before this there had been seventy candles
lighting up the high altar and the eager faces; now these were all
extinguished, and through the dark church came chanting a procession
bearing feeble candles and making a strange clapping sound, with
_matracas_, like watchmen's rattles; men carried the symbolical bier of
Jesus in the midst, to its symbolical rest beneath the altar, where the
three candles, representing the three Marys, blazed above it. During the
time of darkness there were frequent masses and sermons, while terrible
transparencies of the Crucifixion were suddenly unrolled from the lofty
pulpit, and the throng below wept in sympathy, and clapped their cheeks
in token of anguish, like the flutter of many doves. Then came the
Hallelujah Saturday, when at noon the mourning ended. It was a
breathless moment. The priests kneeled in gorgeous robes, chanting
monotonously, with their foreheads upon the altar-steps; and the hushed
multitude hung upon their lips, in concentrated ecstasy, waiting for
the coming joy. Suddenly burst the words, _Gloria in Excelsis_. In an
instant every door was flung open, every curtain withdrawn, the
great church was bathed in meridian sunlight, the organ crashed out
triumphant, the bells pealed, flowers were thrown from the galleries in
profusion, friends embraced and kissed each other, laughed, talked, and
cried, and all the sea of gay head-dresses below was tremulous beneath a
mist of unaccustomed splendor. And yet (this thought smote me) all the
beautiful transformation has come by simply letting in the common
light of day. Then why not keep it always? Clear away, Humanity, these
darkened windows, but clear away also these darkening walls, and show us
that the simplest religion is the best!

I cannot dwell upon the narrative of our many walks:--to the
Espalamarca, with its lonely telegraph-station;--to the Burnt Mountain,
with its colored cliffs;--to visit the few aged nuns who still linger
in what was once a convent;--to Porto Pim, with its curving Italian
beach, its playing boys and picturesque fishermen beneath the arched
gateway;--to the tufa-ledges near by, where the soft rocks are
honeycombed with the cells hollowed by echini below the water's edge, a
fact undescribed and almost unexampled, said Agassiz afterwards;--to the
lofty, lonely Monte da Guia, with its solitary chapel on the peak, and
its extinct crater, where the sea rolls in and out;--to the Dabney
orange-gardens, on Sunday afternoons;--to the beautiful Mirante ravine,
whenever a sudden rain filled the cascades and set the watermills and
the washerwomen all astir, and the long brook ran down in whirls of
white foam to the waiting sea;--or to the western shores of the island,
where we turned to Ariadnes, as we watched departing home-bound vessels
from those cliffs whose wave-worn fiords and innumerable sea-birds make
a Norway of Fayal.

And I must also pass over still greater things:--the winter storms
and ship-wrecks, whose annals were they not written to the "New York
Tribune"?--and the spring Sunday at superb Castello Branco, with the
whole rural population thronging to meet in enthusiastic affection the
unwonted presence of the Consul himself, the feudalism of love;--and the
ascent of the wild Caldeira, we climbing height after height, leaving
the valleys below mottled with blue-robed women spreading their white
garments to dry in the sun, and the great Pico peeping above the clouds
across the bay, and seeming as if directly above our heads, and nodding
to us ere it drew back again;--and, best of all, that wonderful
ascension, by two of us, of Pico itself, seven thousand feet from the
level of the sea, where we began to climb. We camped half-way up, and
watched the sunset over the lower peaks of Fayal; we kindled fires of
_faya_-bushes on the lonely mountain-sides, a beacon for the world; we
slept in the loft of a little cattle-shed, with the calves below us,
"the cows' sons," as our Portuguese attendant courteously called them;
we waked next morning above the clouds, with one vast floor of white
level vapor beneath us, such as Thoreau alone has described, with here
and there an open glimpse of the sea far below, yet lifted up to an
apparent level with the clouds, so as to seem like an Arctic scene, with
patches of open water. Then we climbed through endless sheep-pastures
and over great slabs of lava, growing steeper and steeper; we entered
the crater at last, walled with snows of which portions might be of
untold ages, for it is never, I believe, wholly empty; we climbed,
in such a gale of wind that the guides would not follow us, the
steeple-like central pinnacle, two hundred feet high; and there we
reached, never to be forgotten, a small central crater at the very
summit, where steam poured up between the stones,--and, oh, from what
central earthy depths of wonder that steam came to us! There has been no
eruption from any portion of Pico for many years, but it is a volcano
still, and we knew that we were standing on the narrow and giddy summit
of a chimney of the globe. That was a sensation indeed!

We saw many another wild volcanic cliff and fissure and cave on our
two-days' tour round the island of Fayal; but it was most startling,
when, on the first morning, as we passed from green valley to valley
along the road, suddenly all verdure and life vanished, and we found
ourselves riding through a belt of white, coarse moss stretching from
mountain to sea, covering rock and wall and shed like snow or moonlight
or mountain-laurel or any other pale and glimmering thing; and when,


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